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  2. The Seiko Credor Eichi watches are, in many respects, unique among high-end timepieces. They show only the hours, minutes, and seconds, and when the first version was released, in 2008, it was already a watch that was all about essentials; it was from outset powered by Seiko's Spring Drive technology (in the very first version, this was Spring Drive caliber 7R08). The original Eichi has a Noritake porcelain dial, a platinum case, and heat blued hands; it also includes an indication for the power reserve, with the pivot anchored at the outer end of the 10:00 hour marker. The dial markers and logo are a very deep blue and applied by hand, which seems very hard to believe at first – they're extremely finely done – until you look very closely and see the almost invisible, virtually microscopic variations in line width and edge consistency that testify to manual application. I think it is very Japanese to associate quiet movement with the way things move in nature. – YOSHIFUSA NAKAZAWA, MASTER WATCHMAKER, SHIZUKU-ISHI WATCH STUDIO, MORIOKA For many connoisseurs the original Eichi was a revelation, in a number of respects. First, it showcased the ability of the Spring Drive movement to create certain kinds of visual effects and emotional responses not easily duplicated by any other type of existing wristwatch technology. Second, it proved that the degree of sophistication in movement finishing mastered by the craftsman in Morioka was at least the equal of any to be found anywhere else in the world – and in some respects, arguably superior to much of what is being produced in countries more readily associated with fine watchmaking, and fine watch finishing. The original Credor Eichi, with "secret" Arabics at 2, 4, and 7 o'clock. But perhaps most importantly, the first Eichi demonstrated Seiko's ability to produce a product that was, and is, distinctively and indisputably Japanese, while at the same time offering such clarity in design and inspiration as to have a truly universal appeal. During our trip to Japan last year to document the production of Spring Drive watches at the Shizuku-ishi Watch Studio in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, Seiko's Yoshifusa Nakazawa remarked, "I think it is very Japanese to associate quiet movement with the way things move in nature." The observation is completely apt, and yet it's exactly the very specifically Japanese characteristics of the Eichi watches that makes them so attractive to keen-eyed connoisseurs around the world, and they can now be found on a very small number of wrists (annual production is very low) from Manhattan to Silicon Valley to Singapore and beyond. The original Eichi caliber 7R08A. The next version of the Eichi, the Eichi II, was first released in 2014, and in terms of minimalism it went the original Eichi one better, in reducing the presentation of time to its essentials. The Seiko Credor Eichi II, in platinum. Spring Drive caliber 7R14, with power reserve on the back of the movement. In the Eichi II, the power reserve hand has been relocated, to the back of the movement, and the Credor logo has been significantly simplified. Also gone are the "secret" Arabic numbers found on the dial of the original Eichi. The result is an extremely spare watch in which every element seems indispensable to the overall effect – there is nothing extraneous for any element of the watch to hide behind and as a result, the degree of almost supernatural fineness in every element is even more in the foreground. The rose gold version of the watch shares the same overall limpid simplicity of the platinum Eichi II, as well as the almost forbiddingly uniform excellence of fit and finish in every detail. I handle hundreds of watches over the course of a year and I don't know how many thousands – probably tens of thousands – I've examined closely over the last twenty years, and I can think of very, very few that can withstand the sort of very close scrutiny through which the Eichi watches pass with flying colors – there is simply no part of the watch that doesn't just withstand, but also richly reward, very close examination. The general lines of the two watches are essentially identical; in addition to the rose gold case, the most noticeable difference is the color of the dial markers. In the platinum version they're a very deep, rich blue; in the rose gold version, they're a very dark charcoal – almost straight black, but with an almost subliminal hint of warmth that echoes the embers-warm hue of the case. In the platinum version, the blued steel hands have rather a wintry feel – beauty is there, but it's the beauty of flowing water beneath a layer of ice on a winter's day, surrounded by trackless snow. The blued steel takes on a rather different character in conjunction with rose gold, however – think cornflowers in the glow of an afternoon summer sun. In certain respects the use of gold makes this a somewhat more conventionally luxurious watch than the platinum model, which has a kind of austerity – almost severity – that I think expresses the philosophy of Eichi extremely well; in rose gold some of that cool reserve is lost, but the upside is a somewhat more immediately approachable watch. The movement continues to be one of the most beautifully conceived and executed in the world. Spring Drive as a foundation for a very high-end luxury wristwatch is a very interesting and even provocative choice and of course, it's essential to the character of Eichi as well, in which the smooth, silent, gliding motion of the seconds hand (tipped with a crescent moon, virtually the only overtly decorative flourish on the dial side of the watch) is a visual expression of the continuous flow of time. It's worth remembering that Spring Drive is significantly different from both standard quartz and conventional mechanical watches – a point easy to forget but central to understanding the appeal of Eichi. To review just a few essentials, the watch is powered by a mainspring – there is no battery nor system for storing electricity – and has a standard gear train right up to where the escape wheel, lever, and balance would be in a conventional watch. Instead of these components, you'll find the "glide wheel" which rotates inside an electromagnet. The glide wheel acts as the rotor of an electrical generator and the energy provided is used to control the power of the electromagnet, acting as a braking force on the glide wheel; regulation is via a quartz oscillator. The Eichi watches, along with the Credor chiming timepieces, are along with the Grand Seiko Spring Drive 8-Day watches, among just a tiny handful of watches using hand-wound Spring Drive movements, and provide a very intimate relationship with the mechanism. The movement is, as close as anything produced by human hands could be, flawless, and while some of even the most expensive luxury watches from even some of the most historically exalted houses can be disappointing nowadays, especially under a loupe, the Eichi Spring Drive calibers are inexhaustibly delightful to examine under any magnification you like. There are few products from any individual or company that can approach the level of quality found in Eichi watches, and thanks to Spring Drive, none that offer its unique combination of mechanical solutions and sheer physical beauty. On the wrist, the Eichi II in rose gold is a study in the harmonious reconciliation of contrasts – the obsessive dedication to quality as an end in itself with great physical beauty; the combination of what is for watchmaking, a most exotic technology with a highly traditional approach to realizing a wristwatch design; the inevitable sense of urgency about the passage of time which travels along with any wristwatch, mingled with the serenity of the visible motion. The original Eichi was a breathtaking debut of a kind of watchmaking never before seen, and seemed impossible to improve on but I feel taking everything into account, that the Eichi II models manage to take what was already an exceedingly refined wristwatch and make it something that transcends its own refinement. At its price point – $42,000 in rose gold – it is in the interesting position of having both a great deal of competition, and no competition at all. The world of luxury watches offers much nowadays that represents compromise, and especially in the context of just how little value you can get for a five figure watch these days, $42,000 for the Eichi II seems a bargain. For a closer look at Spring Drive technology, check out our in-depth coverage of the Credor Eichi II in platinum from 2017. The Seiko Credor Eichi II: case, rose gold, 39.5mm x 10.3mm. Water resistance 3 bar, antimagnetic to 4,800 A/m (amperes per meter) or about 60 gauss. Movement, Spring Drive caliber 7R14, hand wound; accuracy +/- 15 sec/month. 60-hour power reserve, running in 41 jewels; fitted with "torque recovery system." Price, $42,000.
  3. While Mido's Multifort line of modern and stylish watches has been a long-standing part of their collection, the new Multifort Chronometer offers an evolution above that of the brand's standard automatic. Featuring an upgraded movement, the Multifort Chronometer is the first Mido watch to use the Caliber 80 Si, a COSC-certified automatic calibre that also features an 80-hour power reserve and some other notable enhancements over the standard equipment from ETA or Sellita. Given the everyday-ready style and value proposed by the Multifort, this upgrade to the Chronometer movement is a smart one that maintains general practicality and adds some nerdy enthusiast credibility. Initial Thoughts The new Multifort Chronometer is available in a handful of versions, all of which use a 42mm case that is 11.8mm thick with an anti-reflective sapphire crystal up front and a display case back on the flip side. Dial options include black, a white-silver, or a full black with off-white accents, and you can have the case in two-tone (rose gold coloring), steel, or a satin PVD black finish. The dials are wide, with a day and date display at three and the vertical banding common to the Multifort design. While I rather dig the look of the black/black model (and its fully black day/date window treatment), the style is really nothing new and the main story here is the inclusion of the Caliber 80 Si movement. Based on ETA's C07.821 movement, this current generation caliber has a lot to offer at this price point (thanks to the family connection between Swatch, ETA, and Mido). Ticking at 4 Hz, the Caliber 80 Si has the aforementioned 80-hour power reserve along with a silicon balance-spring, an ELINFLEX mainspring, upgraded finishing, and that COSC certification. Starting around $1,250 depending on the version and your choice of strap or bracelet, the Mido Multifort Chronometer has a lot to offer anyone who digs the look and cares about the specifics of the movements they wear. With a solid power reserve, some additional protection from magnetism via silicone, and the assurance of COSC performance, the new Multifort Chronometer is only about $250 more than a standard Multifort Automatic and offers a strong value for the caliber-minded among us. The Basics Brand: Mido Model: Multifort Chronometer Diameter: 42mm Thickness: 11.79mm Case Material: Steel Dial Color: Black or Silver Indexes: Applied Lume: Yes, indexes and hands Water Resistance: 100m Strap/Bracelet: leather, textile, or bracelet Three versions of the Mido Multifort Chronometer. The Movement Caliber: Mido Caliber 80 Si (ETA C07.821 base) Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, day, date Diameter: 25.6mm Thickness: 5.22mm Power Reserve: ~80 hours Winding: Automatic Frequency: 21,600 vph Jewels: 25 Chronometer Certified: Yes, COSC Additional Details: ELINFLEX mainspring and silicon balance-spring. Pricing & Availability Price: $1,250 (leather), $1,290 (steel bracelet), $1,440 (two tone with gold plating) Availability: Fall 2018
  4. EdgyGuyJide

    RADIOMIR 1940 3 DAYS PANERAI

    NUANCES OF BLUE Inspired by the shades of blue seen in the sea and the sky, the Italian brand has transferred this beautiful colour to the dial of five new Radiomir 1940 3 Days models, only available in its network of stores. The many different models in the Panerai collections can be confusing. But if you look closer and pay attention, the coherence is obvious. And suddenly everything seems simpler! The five new Radiomir 1940 3 Days watches available for purchase in the network of the brand’s stores have several things in common: the colour of the dials in Sfumato-effect blue, the curved shape of the Arabic numerals interspersed with slender hour markers, the wide hands coated with lume, and of course, the cushion-shaped case with diameters varying between 42 and 47mm, and including the classic 45mm. The richness of this quintet of timepieces has an advantage: you will definitely find the watch of your dreams, both in terms of look and features. Because here there is something for everyone, from the most basic elements (hours and minutes in the centre, second hand at 9 o’clock) to the most complete (second time zone, day/night and power reserve indicators), from robust steel to elegant pink gold. Each case is watertight down to 100m (excepting the pink gold PAM 00934, which can only be immersed to 5ATM) and is decorated on the back by an undulating pattern like a cloud; an effect achieved by a metal plate placed on the sapphire glass and giving a glimpse of the mechanism. And talking of the mechanism, while three of the four movements driving the Radiomir 1940 3 Days are automatic (P.4000, P.4001 and P.4002), the PAM 00932 model is hand-wound. But all of them have a power reserve (with an indicator at 4.30 on the PAM 00946) of three days, or 72 hours, the minimum required by Panerai. Price: 9,000 CHF (PAM 00932) – 10,100 CHF (PAM00933) – 11,400 CHF (PAM 00945) – 11,800 CHF (PAM 00946) – 22,400 CHF (PAM 00934)
  5. Last week
  6. We're back at it this week with another stacked selection, including several rare and important pioneering dive watches. From Tudor we've got one of the nicest Big Crowns to have surfaced in recent memory, and from Breitling, the dive watch that started it all for them. For those that choose to stay on land, we've also included a few dressier pieces as well, with an Omega originally sold in Portugal, an uncommon Universal Genève, and a simple Movado in remarkable condition. Buyer Beware is back too, with a shady-at-best chronograph. 1940s Movado Calatrava In True New Old Stock Condition You can tell a lot about a manufacture by the looks of their time-only calibers, and from your first glance at the hand-wound caliber 75, you can instantly tell that Movado wasn’t messing around in the 1940s. The movement stuns from architectural and aesthetic standpoints, and it is quite an efficient mechanism, too. While on the hunt for watches this week, I came across a time only Calatrava-style piece from Movado that just so happened to be powered by the aforementioned caliber. Oh, and it’s actually new old stock, with the box and hangtags all included. In the past we’ve discussed how the term "New Old Stock" gets thrown around all too often, but yet again, we’ve chanced upon a watch worthy of the title. This was a watch most likely intended to be sold via a Madrid-based watch retailer called Calvo, as one of the included original hang tags bears that name, but for some reason the watch looks to have never been worn. In addition to the case's sharply defined lines, the brushed finished on the caseback doesn't show a single mark or scuff on it. Whether you’re a scholarly collector looking to admire a never-worn watch, or someone who simply wants to wear a great looking, 35mm time-only piece with a legendary Movado caliber inside. A seller on eBay based in Boston, Massachusetts, is selling this Movado for $2,499 (a notable number in the watch world). You can also make an offer. Universal Genève Ref. 100110 In 18k Rose Gold Our next watch the week is something of an unusual abstract design. If you’re not a die-hard Universal Genève obsessive, this is going to be a bit of an acquired taste. As the saying goes, not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice. I think this watch is very much the same. During the 1950s, Universal Geneve produced what’s admittedly a bit of an oddball of a watch, but one worthy of your consideration, no less. This is the ref. 100110, which features a borderline medallion-esque bezel, which is much larger than the minuscule black and gold dial itself. Even more unconventional is the fact that the date window sits below the dial, and has its own aperture in the bezel. Everything on this watch checks out, as you’d expect, given that Universal Genève didn’t produce all that many pieces. Given the rarity, and the fact that we can’t remember the last time one of these came up for sale, it’s advisable that you chase this one down while you’ve got a shot (if it's to your taste, that is). This watch is available from Heritage Auctions and bidding on this watch starts at $1,500, plus buyer’s premium. The live auction takes place on October 24. Breitling SuperOcean Ref. 1004 With Original Bracelet As someone who appreciates vintage dive watches, both obscure and mainstream, I’ve always been fascinated with the numerous bezel designs that came out of the late 1950s and '60s. No vintage dive watch bezel discussion would be complete without mentioning Breitling’s famed SuperOcean either. The SuperOcean family might mean one thing in the world of modern Breitling, but this piece comes from the back catalo – in fact, it's the reference that launched the line back in 1957. This was essentially Breitling’s answer to the dive watch frenzy that the watch world was experiencing in the wake of the Fifty Fathoms, Submariner, Seamaster 300, and Deep Sea Alarm, among others. Fit with a concave bezel crafted out of Bakelite, this watch has a very bold look, with dagger-shaped luminous markers on the dial too. That slick bezel also serves to protect the domed acrylic crystal and all the radium found on the original black dial underneath. The bezel on this example is perfectly intact, and the dial and hands look honest and original. But what’s really outstanding is the presence of the original mesh bracelet, which is now both extremely hard to find and a signature trait of the SuperOcean line at large. You can’t ask for much more, can you? European Watch Company in Boston is selling this example of the ref. 1004 for $22,500. Tudor Big Crown Submariner Ref. 7924 Big Crowns are in many ways the pinnacles of Submariner collecting. Anyone who has had the distinct pleasure of wearing an example for even mere moments will know why too. Not only do the watches themselves embody early dive watch perfection, but they are legitimately rare watches too. You don’t see them surfacing for sale every other day. Often imitated, but never duplicated, there are many a questionable Big Crown circulating today, making truly honest examples beyond sought after. Heritage Auctions out of New York currently has this stunning example of the ref. 7924, which is of course the second Submariner reference to have ever been produced by Tudor, for just a single year in 1958. Coming directly from the family of the original owner, this is an honest, fresh-to-market piece, and an impressively preserved one, at that. Everything on the watch is original, and in terrific shape, looking exactly as you’d expect a well-kept watch of this era to appear. What’s worth noting is that the watch doesn’t necessarily look too perfect, with spot-on custard colored lume, which is a good thing, as this further speaks to the originality of the piece and the fact that it hasn’t been modified to yield a higher price at auction. All in all, it’s a world class example of one of the most iconic watches of all time. We’ll excitedly be following the bidding on this one, for sure. Heritage Auction has the pieces listed as part of their October 24 auction, and bidding starts at $40,000 plus buyer’s premium. Omega Ref. 3950 With Portuguese Provenance Beginning in 1951, Omega started production of a new, square shaped timepiece known as the ref. 3950, which they would produce for just three short years, ceasing in 1954. The watch was powered by the watchmaker’s already established and revered automatic caliber 342 movement, but it could be said that the true appeal was the ornate, 30.5mm rose gold case featuring an unusual lug shape and a square-ish profile. This has long been one of my favorite time-only pieces from Omega, and with good reason. On the wrist it just has incredible presence that's hard to describe here. While not exactly an easy watch to pull off, the ref. 3950 has loads of style, and it shows. While on the hunt, I was instantly drawn to this beyond clean example, which even includes the original certificate from Portugal, along with the corresponding import hallmarks on its case. The dial on this particular watch is pretty much perfect, which can be said with a decent amount of confidence since the seller has conveniently photographed the dial outside of the case. Though its not necessarily your run-of-the-mill vintage Omega, the Portuguese import hallmarks and included papers are impossibly cool, and help tell the watch’s story while reflecting the policies of their original intended market. Gary Haftel of Exposing Time is selling this example of the ref. 3950 on Instagram for $8,000. Buyer Beware: Hermès Military Monopusher Chronograph Picking up where we left off last week, it could be said that as far as dials with retailer signatures go, few are more highly coveted than those signed by the Parisian luxury goods house Hermès. They just about never pop up for sale, and when they do, they certainly don’t go unnoticed (nor do they go for cheap). Having said all this, the watch in question here is not the real deal. Allow me to walk you through a series of red flags. Let’s start with the case. As the seller does state, it’s chrome plated with a stainless steel caseback. This would be fine on plenty of watches, but not one signed Hermès. The few known vintage chronographs retailed by Hermès came from top quality watchmakers including Rolex and Universal Geèeve, and were, as you’d expect, produced in either stainless steel or precious metals. We’re talking about Hermès here, after all – chrome-plate doesn't exactly fit. Next up, direct your attention towards the Hermès signature itself, along with the dial as a whole. For a watch supposedly manufactured in the 1930s, the typeface is far too modern, and the inclusion of the word “Paris” is unusual. It’s also the only Hermès signature on the entire watch.
  7. The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers department is where some of the firm's most elevated watchmaking happens, and where the company's top watchmakers and artisans are occupied with two basic activities: taking commissions and requests for one-of-a-kind and bespoke pieces (one of the most famous of which is the caliber 57260, which we covered in-depth on its launch, and which contains, by Vacheron's count, 57 complications, several of which are unique to the watch) and also with coming up with new ideas, both for mechanisms and designs. Ahead of SIHH 2019, Vacheron Constantin has announced two new Les Cabinotiers unique pieces, one of which you see here: the Grand Complication Phoenix, which takes as its mechanical engine one of Vacheron's most complicated movements. The movement is Vacheron's caliber 2755, which in addition to showing the time also includes a minute repeater, a tourbillon, and a perpetual calendar. In addition, there are a number of astronomical indications, including the Equation of Time, sunrise and sunset times, a sky chart with sidereal hours and minutes (sidereal time, you'll recall, is based on a day defined by the transit of a star rather than of the Sun) the age and phase of the Moon, the signs of the zodiac, and the seasons. The regular production version of the caliber 2755 (if you can speak of anything so highly complex and finely made as "regular") is in the Traditionnelle Collection and as the name might lead you to think, it's indeed very traditional in appearance – in terms of its design, the Traditionnelle Caliber 2755 is drawn from the same playbook as watches as diverse as the Graves Patek Super-Complication, the A. Lange & Söhne Grand Complication, and of course, from Vacheron's own history, the highly complicated pocket watch the firm completed for Egypt's King Farouk in 1946. On the reasonable notion that someone desiring such a complex mechanism might under some circumstances also prefer a case whose ornamentation was equal to the complexity of the movement, Les Cabinotiers have created the Grand Complication Phoenix, with a case deeply and richly engraved with a phoenix motif. Initial Thoughts There are probably as many personal philosophies with respect to how to handle the design of a highly complex watch as there are potential clients (or maybe more; to say that the Caliber 2755 requires rather more gold than my own purse currently holds is to say nothing at all but I'm still happy to offer opinions). There is certainly a good deal to be said for austerity – after all, a highly complex watch already has so much going on visually, that any additional ornamentation runs the risk of being too much of a good thing. In this instance, however, I'm inclined to go with the notion that more is more, not less. A complete suite of astronomical complications (in which I'd include the perpetual calendar, which after all needs to exist because the period of the Earth's rotation on its axis and the period of its orbit around the Sun are an irrational ratio) is already putting a capital P in Poetic and the fact that in this case, a more or less complete inventory of the night sky as seen from Earth, plus the ups and downs of the Sun and changing face of the Moon, are also traveling along with a minute repeater, does rather make for a mechanism that calls out for something equally poetically evocative to call home. The legend of the phoenix is a very ancient one, and seems to have originated in Ancient Egypt; in the 5th century BC, Herodotus wrote with some skepticism about what was already apparently a very old story. In its original form the phoenix seems to have been a solar deity, concerned with creation and regeneration and as such, it's a most appropriate motif for a watch that contains such a complete set of astronomical indications. (The mythical bird known in China as the fenghuang has some similarities to the phoenix as well – it's sometimes referred to as the Chinese phoenix, although there are significant differences as well between the legends of the fenghuang and phoenix, which arose independently). The engraving is extremely richly detailed, with the phoenix depicted in very deep bas-relief engraving on the pink gold case. A very dramatic, statement-piece wristwatch, it's a magnificent example of traditional decorative case engraving (one of the hallmarks of high-end Swiss and Genevan watchmaking) wedded to extremely challenging complicated watchmaking. The Basics Brand: Vacheron Constantin Model: Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Phoenix Reference Number: 9700C/003R-B187 Diameter: 47mm Thickness: 19.10mm Case Material: 18k pink gold Dial Color: Slate grey opaline Indexes: Applied pink gold hour markers Strap/Bracelet: Brown alligator strap The Movement Caliber: 2755 BOSS Functions: hours, minutes, seconds via one-minute tourbillon; Equation of Time, perpetual calendar, star chart, sidereal time, zodiac, age and phase of the Moon, sunrise and sunset Diameter: 33.9mm Thickness: 12.15mm Power Reserve: 58 hours Winding: Hand-wound; ebony-wood winding box provided Frequency: 2.5 Hz (18,000 vph) Jewels: 40 Pricing & Availability Price: Not available but presumably appropriate to the complexity and elaborateness of decoration of the watch Limited Edition: Unique piece See more at VacheronConstantin.com.
  8. THE TASTE OF VICTORY As the streets of Monaco are transformed into a motor-racing track, Chopard has produced two limited-edition chronographs with a level of elegance that all gentlemen drivers are sure to love. Since 2002, Chopard has sponsored the Historic Grand Prix of Monaco. The event is organised every two years in tandem with the legendary Formula 1 race and is now a highlight in the calendar for all fans of classic sports cars. This is a chance to admire perfectly preserved vintage cars racing in a unique atmosphere. The brand was the partner and official timekeeper for the 11th race in May and launched a watch epitomising the spirit of the race. Two versions of the Grand Prix De Monaco Historique 2018 Race Edition chronograph are available. 100 watches have been made of the model combining rose gold, steel and titanium. The other watch comes in 250 pieces and is made of steel and titanium. The various materials elegantly embellish the 44.5mm-wide case, the crown, bezel and the piston-shaped monopushers. The chronograph hands, the central second hand and the hands in the two blue totalisers at 12 and 6 o’clock are coloured orange, providing visual dynamism. The same colour can be seen on the topstitching of the blue leather or NATO strap. The bezel and the tachymetric scale combine the two colours to give the watch a real sports feel. The watch design might evoke the past, but the calibre inside driving the time elements and the date display at 3 o’clock is very contemporary. The self-winding movement is also certified by the COSC, guaranteeing accuracy. Price: 6,800 EUR (steel and titanium) – 10,300 EUR (pink gold, steel and titanium) chopard.com
  9. EdgyGuyJide

    BVLGARI BVLGARI SOLOTEMPO BULGARI

    INITIALS BB 43 years after its launch, the iconic collection by the Italian watchmakers, famous for its bezel engraved with the brand’s name, has had two new colours added to its wardrobe: the golden brown reflections of bronze and deep black The Bvlgari Bvlgari watch was first created as a gift for the Italian brand’s prized customers in 1975, 43 years ago. The watch was given such a warm welcome that in 1977 Bvlgari decided to add it to its regular catalogue and make it a collection in its own right. Over the years, the watch affectionately nicknamed “BB” has found a following among clients who like refined and timeless watches and are attracted in particular by the flat bezel inscribed with the name of the Italian brand in the style of antique coins featuring Roman emperors. This year, for the Solotempo (“Only Time”) version, Bvlgari has added two materials and original colours to the collection for a totally different result from one watch to the other. So, three new models have joined the range with intense colours, such as a warm brown bronze, and deep black steel coated with DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) and a combination of both in a highly elegant two-colour piece. The Bvlgari Bvlgari Solotempo case is 41mm wide and includes a glass back revealing the workings of the calibre BVL 191, a self-winding movement driving the various time displays and providing a power reserve of 42 hours. Made of bronze, black steel coated with DLC or a combination of both, the metal framework naturally features the famous bezel engraved with the model’s name. The time information is shown on a finely sanded and lacquered black dial with golden hour, minute and central seconds hands making their way around an hour rim with baton indices and slender, bronze Arabic figures for the 6 and 12. The date is shown white against a black background in a counter at 3 o’clock. Each watch comes with a second, easy-to-change strap rounded off by a tang buckle. Price: 3,700 CHF (black DLC-coated steel) – 4,200 CHF (black DLC-coated steel and bronze) – 5,200 CHF (bronze)
  10. 1954 Rolex Oysterdate Ref. 6294 With Black Honeycomb Dial Before the Datejust came the Oysterdate. This manually wound, Oyster-cased reference 6294 has a screw-down crown and a cyclops over the date window just like your typical Datejust. What makes this particular example special is the all-red date wheel along with the super cool black honeycomb dial and gilt printing. Read more about this interesting Rolex here. 1970s Lemania 'Viggen' Chronograph Ref. 817 For The Swedish Air Force Imagine it's the 1970s and you’re a hot-shot pilot in the Swedish Air Force. How cool would it be to find out that you’re being issued this black dial, two-register chronograph made by Lemania especially for you and your fellow servicemen? Fast forward to today and this watch is still as good-looking and useful as it was nearly half a century ago, thanks in large part to the workhorse Lemania movement and its modern size and styling. Learn more here. 1960s Heuer Dashboard Stopwatch And Clock Set These days, when you can connect your iPhone to your car and send texts with your voice while cruising down the road, it’s easy to forget that analog clocks and timers were auto necessities not so long ago. This set from Heuer comes with an eight-day “Master Time” clock, a split-seconds timer for clocking laps to 1/100th of a second, and a classic stopwatch with a digital hour display. Check out the details here. 1950s LeCoultre Diamond Mystery Dial I remember the first time I saw a mystery dial clock. I knew in my gut that there was a simple explanation for how the hour and minute markers seemed to float in space, but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure it out. Of course, like most mystery clocks and watches, this 14k white gold LeCoultre from the 1950s uses a clear disk layered on top of a metallic disk with diamonds to show the hours and minutes. LeCoultre was also kind enough to throw in diamond hour markers just to add a little more shine! Click here to learn more.
  11. Almost three years ago to the day, Jack wrote a Value Proposition story about what might be the value watch to end all value watches: the Seiko SKX007 diver. For well under $200, you get a tough-as-nails dive watch with classic styling and some real history. There’s nothing to argue with, really. Unless you’re me, of course. I’ve always loved the SKX007, I really have. But, I’ve never been able to wear one. At 42mm across, it’s just too damn big for my Lilliputian wrist, both looking and feeling out of place. Until recently, I thought it was a lost cause, assuming that I would have to wander the Earth without a bang-for-your-buck Seiko diver at my side. Luckily, thanks to a tip from my colleague James Stacey, my prayers were answered and a solution was found: Meet the Seiko SKX013, the mini badass Seiko diver. At first glance, without a wrist for scale, you might not even realize that you’re not looking at the SKX007. The SKX013 really is a dead-ringer for its big brother, in most respects. However, the watch has a smaller case that measures 37mm across and 11.5mm top to bottom. This makes it a full 5mm smaller in diameter and 1.5mm thinner. That’s a serious difference right there. As you look closer, you will notice a few difference between the watches. The proportions aren’t exactly the same, since the same movement is used in both (the automatic caliber 7S26). If I’m being honest with myself, the SKX007’s proportions are better than those of the SKX013. The smaller size means that it reads as thicker and you also lose some of the negative space on the dial. The day/date displays even cut into the rehaut a little – if this were a $5,000 watch that would drive me crazy, but here I’m willing to accept it as a compromise. What is exactly the same between the two watches is the build quality. The SKX013 is water resistant to 200 meters, the screw-down crown at four o’clock has the hefty crown guards on either side, the crystal is Seiko’s proprietary Hardlex material, and the bezel has deep, even clicks. I threw this model on a NATO during the last weekends of summer and it held up without a single mark through trips to the beach and the park, exactly as you’d expect. Now, the watch Jack showed you years ago was mounted on one of Seiko’s famous Jubilee-style bracelets. They’re a bit chintzy, but that’s actually why many people love them. I probably would have gotten my SKX013 on a similar bracelet, but, to be honest, the 013 is a little harder to find in stock in the U.S. than is the 007, so I had the choice of getting the watch without the bracelet or waiting a month. My impatience got the best of me and I purchased the watch on a rubber dive strap instead. I of course ordered it via Amazon, which is a veritable treasure trove of inexpensive Seiko watches that can be on your doorstep in under 48 hours. The SKX013 is also a tad more expensive than the SKX007, though that's relative. I paid $256 for mine, and they seem to trade for anywhere between $225 and $275. The dive strap was, shall we say, not for me. It was stiff, kind of bulky, and just didn’t feel great on the wrist. I’ve been alternating wearing the watch on a simple grey NATO, which is probably the way to go 99% of the time, and a black stitched calfskin strap from the HODINKEE Shop that cost more than the watch itself. It probably negates the value proposition here a bit, but it looks damn good. At 13mm, the SKX013 isn’t necessarily what I’d describe as a thick watch, but it’s not slim either. It sits nice and low to the wrist, and there are no comfort issues, but as the weather has started to cool off, I do find it snags on sweater and jacket sleeves a bit more than I wish it did. This isn’t a deal-breaker for me, but rather just something to be aware of if you’re going to make this a part of your collection. I bought the SKX013 mostly as an experiment, to see if I would actually enjoy wearing one of those Seiko diver’s I’d so long admired from afar. I’m happy to report that I do, and I have been – this thing has gotten way more wrist time than expected and is now a regular part of my warm-weather watch rotation. As Jack originally remarked of this watch’s big brother, the SKX013 “ultimately manages to be so appealing on its own merits that the almost incredulity-inducing price is the least important aspect of the watch.” Well said, Jack. Well said.
  12. FOR ALL THE SUPPORTERS TAG Heuer has launched two special Manchester United watches for the players and fans of the Beautiful Game to wear all through the 2018-2019 English Premier League season. The new football season sees the stars returning to the stadiums, but also the launch of official watches for the legendary clubs. TAG Heuer, the official timekeepers at Manchester United for the past three seasons, has unveiled the new Carrera Heuer 01 in the colours of the prestigious English club. Like the shirt worn by Paul Pogba or Romelu Lukaku, the timepiece naturally comes in a bright red colour. The same colour can be found on the hands, on the internal bezel and on the perforated rubber strap. The skeletoned dial of the chronograph is dressed in grey and houses figures coated in white Super-LumiNova®, providing optimum readability of the time data in all lighting conditions. The date counter is at 3.30, while the chronograph totalisers at 12 and 6 o’clock are used to read short time intervals with the central second hand. The seconds hand dial is at 9 o’clock and features the Mancunians’ Red Devil logo. The logo and devil can also be found traced on the sapphire caseback. Like the collection’s other timepieces, the Carrera Heuer 01 Manchester United is driven by the automatic calibre Heuer 01 in a 43mm-wide steel case. And to really make your mark on the pitches of everyday life, TAG Heuer has also launched a Formula 1 chronograph driven by a quartz movement, again in the colours of the Red Devils, coached by the charismatic Jose Mourinho. Price: 1,400 EUR (Formula 1) – 5,200 EUR (Carrera Heuer 01) tagheuer.com
  13. I'm going to preface this post by stating what might seem obvious. The watches we have here, ornate, enamel-dialed timepieces with an unusual electro-mechanical lighting feature, are not first and foremost made to appeal to watch guys. Still, I've long admired the company that makes them, Van Cleef & Arpels, for its understanding of how storytelling is essential to selling a highly emotional – even irrational – product, which is of course what high-end mechanical watches are. A tourbillon is far from a rational product. Nobody needs one, and for that matter, your own wrist is a tourbillon, as Philippe Dufour told Jack on HODINKEE Radio recently. Neither is a minute repeater, a chronograph, or a watch with hacking seconds. Even a chronometer-rated GMT, a totem of the traveler's kit, is a superfluous and superannuated technology when you think about it. On a recent flight to a certain Asian city whose number of time zones away from New York I didn't know off hand, I had to consult my iPhone to know how many clicks forward to set my Grand Seiko GMT's local hand. The act of neatly setting that watch and using its namesake complication gave me great satisfaction, as it always does, but all I really needed was my smart phone. The Midnight Zodiac Lumineux I think that good businesspeople looking to succeed selling mechanical watches know that to do so they will need a story to tell, and that sometimes mere prose will not suffice. And that is why I think the decision of Van Cleef & Arpels to make this fact explicit with its Poetic Complications is well worth examining. What we have here today are two new collections from Van Cleef & Arpels, the Midnight Zodiac Lumineux, a men's line that actually debuted back during SIHH in January, and the Lady Arpels Zodiac Lumineux, which was unveiled yesterday at the Sharjah Center for Astronomy and Space Sciences, in the United Arab Emirates. Each of these lines comprises 12 models – one for each sign of the Western Zodiac. On the men's side, they feature white gold cases and rich blue enamel dials with sculpted white gold framing to form the shape of the signs of the Zodiac. The women's watches are bit more ornate. The cases are also white gold, but they're fully set with diamonds of varying sizes and come with dials featuring much more elaborate multi-colored enamel work that corresponds to a specific sign of the Zodiac. The gold colored Leo and emerald-hued Taurus are particularly beautiful expressions of the kind of enameling that Van Cleef & Arpels has become very well known for with their watches. But where both of these collections make their mark is with an electro-mechanical complication that lights up the dials through the principle of piezoelectricity, which we first saw in the company's 2016 Midnight Nuit Lumineuse, and for which Van Cleef & Arpels holds a patent. If you press the pusher on the lower left-hand side of one of these watches' cases, you'll feel it begin to vibrate and it will emit light through four to six delicate enamel beads on the dial's surface. It all lasts just three or four seconds, and toward the very end of that time, the beads will begin to flicker before going dark. There is no capacitor, there is no battery. The electricity used to power a few small LEDs within each watch is derived from the vibration of a a small ceramic strip within each watch. The energy used for each lighting of the dial comes purely from the pressing of the button, so there is no drain on the watch's power reserve. You can even light it up over an over again with the watch unwound and the time left unset. Initial Thoughts Even though these are watches that I myself would find challenging to wear on a daily basis – the men's pieces are 42mm in diameter, toward the high-end of what I myself tend to wear, and a little more over-the-top – I found them really fun to experience. I can definitely see a number of people I know getting behind the technology and the craftsmanship on display here, even if they might not initially expect to enjoy these pieces. One thing to note is that in a low-light setting, I didn't think either collection provided quite enough light to help read the time better. These are watches whose complication is about storytelling and appealing to emotion, not about mundane functionality. But I do wonder if this technology might eventually be applied to a watch in order to provide an added measure of legibility in the dark, and from a purely mechanical energy source at that – a kind of high-end mechanical take on Timex's Indiglo. The Basics Brand: Van Cleef & Arpels Model: Midnight Zodiac Lumineux (men's) and Lady Arpels Zodiac Lumineux (women's) Diameter: 42mm (Midnight Zodiac Lumineux); 38mm (Lady Arpels Zodiac Lumineux) Thickness: 12.55mm (Midnight Zodiac Lumineux); 13.8mm (Lady Arpels Zodiac Lumineux) Case Material: White gold Dial Color: Deep blue enamel with white gold sculpting, some with colored enamel accents Lume: Four to six enamel dots that light up on demand Water Resistance: 30 meters Strap/Bracelet: Black alligator strap with white gold pin buckle (Midnight Zodiac Lumineux); Blue alligator strap with white gold pin buckle with diamonds (Lady Arpels Zodiac Lumineux) The Movement Caliber: Valfleurier Q020 Functions: Hours, minutes, piezoelectric lights Power Reserve: 36 hours Winding: Automatic Frequency: 4 Hz (28,800 vph) Jewels: 43 Additional Details: Pushing a button on the lower left-hand side of the case activates a vibrating piezoelectric blade, which supplies electric power to LEDs positioned under the dial. Pricing & Availability Price: $113,000 (Midnight Zodiac Lumineux); $148,000 (Lady Arpels Zodiac Lumineux) Availability: Permanent collection, but numbered editions
  14. When you start talking about high-end watches, the word "Swiss" often ends up getting substituted in for phrases like "high-quality" and "reliable." But it doesn't have to be that way. Sure, Switzerland is the modern home of fine watchmaking, but there are plenty of fantastic watchmakers creating timepieces worth your attention in other places. We had our editors round up five of their favorite watchmakers that reside outside the Confederation, highlighting different types of watches and different approaches to watchmaking in general. And best of all? No passport required. Cara Barrett – Uniform Wares (U.K.) Uniform Wares is a British manufacture that I covered a while back. They are known for making minimalist watches with Swiss movements (so not exactly made all in the U.K.), assembled in London. I really like what they are doing as far as creating elegant and "affordable" timepieces for a range of wearers (most cost around $500). They are a major step up from fashion brands but are more accessible than watches coming from the usual Swiss manufacturers. But more importantly, they are on track to do some exciting things over the next few years – so stay tuned. Jon Bues – Grönefeld (The Netherlands) Bart and Tim Grönefeld are very much part of the Swiss watchmaking system, having trained and worked within it during their formative years. However, their current, eponymous project is based in their home country of the Netherlands, where they make what many experts consider to be the most "complicated" time-only watch in the world, the 1941 Remontoire. The Gronefelds’ watchmaking is innovative, yet relatively understated – until you turn the watches over, that is. Their fastidious finishing stands up to a close look with a loupe and the architecture of their movements is unlike anything you'll find anywhere else. Plus, there are no two watchmakers better to share a beer with, and that's gotta count for something. Jack Forster – Grand Seiko (Japan) Grand Seiko in particular, and Seiko in general, have for much of the later 20th century and right up to the present day, been companies that are living proof that you don't have to be Swiss, or in Switzerland, to make an amazing watch. Grand Seiko lately has been very much coming out from under the shadow of Seiko overall, and what makes them so interesting is not just that they're so incredibly well made – it's that the philosophy of quality that informs them is so characteristically Japanese. Grand Seiko doesn't aspire to resemble a great Swiss watch; instead, it strives to be the best possible Japanese watch, and for that reason, it doesn't so much rebuke Switzerland in terms of quality, as it does stand on its own as evidence that if you have the strength of your convictions, you can make a wonderful wristwatch anywhere. James Stacey – A. Lange & Söhne (Germany) A. Lange & Sohne likely doesn't require much of an introduction for most of you, but this relatively small German manufacturer makes some of the finest watches in the world. And while Germany has a strong history in watchmaking, Lange has become a worldwide pillar of haute horology since its relaunch inn 1994. You can always judge a brand by their entry point model, and with Lange's fantastic Saxonia Thin 37mm, you get a true example of the brand's strengths in a gorgeous and simple design that shines on-wrist. Want something a bit more distinctively Lange? While some may jump to the Datograph or Zeitwerk, the Lange 1 is the brand's calling card in the world of unique watch design. Gorgeous, distinctive, and balanced, the Lange 1 is an oddball but dressy option that offers all of A.Lange & Söhne's charm in a single piece. Characterized by their knack for creating beautifully subtle watches with incredible hand finished complexity quietly ticking inside, A.Lange & Sohne is the heart of German watchmaking. Stephen Pulvirent – Sarpaneva (Finland) Finland is best known for producing designers like Alver Aalto, telecom companies like Nokia, and ice hockey legends like Teemu Selänne. But, despite what you might think, there are watchmakers there too. Kari Voutilainen decamped to Switzerland, but Stepan Sarpaneva is still making watches right in the center of Helsinki. Sarpaneva's watches have their own feel to them – there's something distinctly rock n' roll about them, with the signature moon grinning back at you from the often layered dials. He also has a line of slightly lower priced pieces under the brand S.U.F that are intended for the Finnish domestic market and play off local culture and use local materials. It's cool to see someone making distinctive watches on their home turf that don't try to look like traditional "luxury Swiss watches" at all.
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  16. There's no hotter watch right now than the Rolex Daytona – and it's been that way for quite some time now. When it comes to vintage watches, Rolex is king (at auction and in private), and the Daytona is the most varied and collectable Rolex of all. Whatever your thoughts are on this, facts are facts. Which brings us to a valuable lesson: Knowing your stuff is extra important, whether you're looking to wade or to dive into the world of vintage Daytonas. Tiny things can be the difference between a $50,000 watch and a $500,000 watch. A silver dial from a 1963 Daytona. These early watches are all about the details. A lot of attention gets paid to the flashy Paul Newman Daytona models, but if you're looking for something to study that's a little more understated, we've got a suggestion for you: the very first Rolex Daytona. Released in 1963, the earliest examples of the ref. 6239 Daytona are called "double-Swiss underline" Daytonas. The name refers to the two "Swiss" signatures you'll see at the very bottom of the dial and the slim underline mark found under "Rolex Cosmograph" at 12 o'clock. There's no "Daytona" on the dial, so if you're looking for that, you can stop. Back in 2013, Ben wrote an detailed history of these often-misunderstood chronographs, offering tips for properly identifying them, comparisons to other watches of note, and thoughts on collecting them. It's even more relevant now than it was then.
  17. EdgyGuyJide

    STARTIMER PILOT HERITAGE ALPINA

    CUT OUT FOR THE EXTREME Alpha, a brand known for its robust sports watches, unveils a quartet of Startimers in a very fashionable vintage style and with a host of useful features In 1928, 90 years ago, the Alpina brand (founded in 1883) unveiled a new concept in sports watches named “Alpina 4“. There were four aspects to the philosophy lying behind the watch: it was watertight (at the time, the word used was “impermeable”), shock-proof (thanks to the ingenious Incabloc system), anti-magnetic and stainless, guaranteeing great durability despite the almost daily challenges faced by top-level sportsmen or air-force pilots. It was in homage to the link between pilots and the company that the Startimer collection was launched in 2011. This autumn, four new Startimer Pilot Heritage models have been added to the collection. This mini-range stands out through a 42mm-wide cushion-shaped steel case alternating satin-brushed and polished surfaces to better catch the light. The metal case is watertight down to 100m, and includes two crowns: one screwed crown at 4 o’clock is used to wind up and set the watch, and the other, at 2 o’clock, activates the internal revolving bezel. The bezel features a 24-hour scale, and by means of a small white or black triangle at the centre of the dial, it displays a second time zone. The Startimer Pilot Heritage dial comes in four colours: satin black, royal blue, copper champagne – all encircled by the silver white ring of the bezel – and green-blue. The hours and minutes are shown in the centre with a pair of stick-shaped, lume-coated hands moving around applied hour markers, while the seconds tick away via a bright red second hand. The date is shown against a white background in a counter at 3 o’clock. The timepiece is driven by the calibre AL-555, an automatic mechanical movement, providing 38 hours of power reserve. Price: 1,295 CHF
  18. AFRICAN DREAM With the very limited edition Slim by Hermès Les Zèbres de Tanzanie, the Parisian brand has combined several arts and crafts on a single dial. Time gives way to nature and the beauty of craftsmanship. “I have dedicated my life to nature and want to promote it through artistic emotion,“ says Yves-Marie de Malleray in talking about his work, a subtle blend of painting and engraving. The artist who has partnered with Hermès is a specialist in the animal world, including “Les Zèbres de Tanzanie“ (Zebras of Tanzania), a pattern created in 2010 and notably available as a large silk scarf or beach towel. The design showing a herd of zebras with their striped coats inspired the artists and craftsmen at Hermès to transfer it to a watch dial. Combining several different miniaturised decorative techniques, the dial on the Slim d’Hermès Les Zèbres de Tanzanie, available in just twelve pieces, is breathtakingly beautiful. This new watch by Hermès blends the craft of champlevé enamelling, enamel painting and leather marquetery work on a surface area that is little bigger than a coin. A work requiring patience and meticulousness. The white gold disc is incised to form the outline of a zebra and then coated with several layers of white enamel. Then, after delicate polishing, the animal’s decorative winding stripes are painted using a mixture of enamel powders and essential oils. The last stage is to add fragments of full-grain calf leather that are reduced to a thickness of just 0.5mm, using the marquetery technique, to provide the finishing touch. In the centre of this zebra landscape are two slender, baton-style, silvered hands discreetly displaying the hours and minutes. They are driven by the H1950 calibre, a self-winding movement providing 42 hours of power reserve and housed in a 39.5mm white-gold Slim case. The Slim d’Hermès Les Zèbres de Tanzanie is attached to the wrist with a graphite-coloured alligator leather strap with a white-gold tang buckle. Price: 55,000 CHF hermes.com
  19. Over the last decade, Bulgari has become perhaps most famous in watchmaking for its pioneering work in ultra-thin movements and watches. Although the company says that it's not concerned with records for their own sake, it's also true that having a fistful of superlatives under your belt doesn't hurt. The most recent record-breaking timepieces Bulgari has introduced are the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon, and the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic – the former holds the world's record for thinnest minute repeater, and the latter holds three records: thinnest tourbillon, thinnest automatic tourbillon, and world's thinnest automatic watch. While ultra-thin watchmaking has become very strongly identified with Bulgari over the last few years – and rightly so – there have been other and very different expressions of watchmaking know-how, which include some of the world's most spectacular high jewelry timepieces (those in the Serpenti family are especially irresistible) and as well, somewhat rarely issued but always arresting complicated watches as well. Chiming complications have been especially well represented, and in the past, these have included the 2011 Bulgari Daniel Roth Grande Sonnerie Quantieme Perpetual Watch, as well as the Grande Sonnerie Magsonic, some very elaborately decorated automaton watches (such as the Commedia dell'arte series) and many others. These have often been in cases that echo the designs used in Daniel Roth timepieces, Bulgari having acquired both Daniel Roth and Gerald Genta in 2000 from Singapore retailer The Hour Glass – at the time, one of the most talked-about acquisitions among haute horlogerie fans. Bulgari acquired considerable resources in complicated watchmaking at the time as well, and since then has made great strides in adding its own research and development expertise to its watch collections, which is most in evidence in its ultra-thin watches – however, it has by no means ignored the creation of high complications as well. Although in the past, these watches have been produced in cases derived from the modified ellipse profile used by watchmaker Daniel Roth in the watches he made under his own name, the Octo Grand Sonnerie Perpetual Calendar is in an Octo-family case – "neither round nor square," as Bulgari describes it – which shares some of the spirit of the original Daniel Roth case designs. And unlike some of Bulgari's previous highly complicated watches, which have tended to favor a somewhat baroque visual style more clearly connected to the company's visual language as a jeweler, the Octo Grand Sonnerie Perpetual Calendar embraces the more spare geometry and austere finishing style that characterizes the ultra-thin Octo watches – in particular, in its industrial-chic angularity, it's reminiscent of the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon. The Bulgari Grande Sonnerie Magsonic, at Watches And Wonders Miami, 2018 Initial Thoughts Looking at a complicated watch from Bulgari is always something of an exercise in nostalgia for me – I remember pretty vividly when the company acquired Daniel Roth and Gerald Genta; there was at the time considerable hand-wringing in some circles about the loss of two such unique watchmaking firms to what we all thought would be a more corporate, generic, and characterless kind of watchmaking. The past 18 years have proven those of us who mourned the loss of Roth and Genta as independent entities, both right and wrong. Certainly, the two companies no longer exist as independent brands however, as the years have passed and watchmaking at Bulgari has continued to evolve, it's clear that many of the essentials of both companies are alive and well, but re-imagined in ways that their founders probably could never have imagined. The Octo Grand Sonnerie Perpetual Calendar is a perfect case in point – the movement seems to be more or less identical in general layout to the caliber 5307 used in the 2011 Bulgari Daniel Roth Grande Sonnerie Quantieme Perpetual Watch, and Bulgari identifies the movement with the same reference number (now with the Bulgari movement prefix, BVL 5307) but the externals are a dramatic change from the 2011 model. While I have nothing against the more lavish, curvilinear sensuality of some of the earlier complicated watches from Bulgari, I think this is an interesting and fresh direction to take in the production of these extremely costly, rare, and exotic watches. Watch design in general, especially at the high end, tends to be extremely conservative; especially for very complex watches, one tends to find a lot of ornament for its own sake. Here, Bulgari is playing, as it did with the Octo Finissimo Repeater Carbon, with contrasts, and engaging in something of an experiment, which is to contrast the very traditional watchmaking on view with a relatively spare, almost anti-ornamental exterior. From a purely technical perspective, there is, no surprises, a lot going on. Bulgari has experimented before with high tech case construction and materials in chiming watches – most notably in the Magsonic – and the case of the Octo Grande Sonnerie Perpetual calendar follows suit, with the movement contained in an inner case that acts as a resonating chamber, and an outer case with longitudinal slits to allow sound to emerge more readily. The watch is a grande et petite sonnerie and minute repeater; it's a Westminster carillon, striking on four gongs, and in addition to the time, there are indications for the day, week, month, leap year, and of course the date. It's self-winding (both the going train and strike train are wound automatically) with a silent governor for the strike. There's a one-minute tourbillon as well. There are a number of safety features: the strike train is disabled during setting of the time, and vice versa; and striking on demand via the repeater is disabled during striking "in passing" (and vice versa). You get power reserve indications for both the strike train and the going train as well. On many counts, this is an extremely unusual watch – it's a unique piece, by the way, and was originally shown in Rome in July; by the time I saw it last week, in Shanghai, it had already been sold. The price for the last watch in which this movement was used was just shy of one million dollars, and while Bulgari hasn't disclosed the price it seems reasonable to assume that the Octo Grande Sonnerie Perpetual Calendar is in the same ballpark. It's a watch, it seems to me, that would appeal to someone with fairly specific case; the owner is, I would imagine, someone with not only considerable financial resources (to state the obvious) but also with a preference for the unusual and exotic. It's the sort of experiment in watch design I'd love to see more of from Bulgari; I personally find its experiments in contrasting the high tech/industrial, with the traditional, very intriguing. I thought the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon was interesting for the same reasons; although I know it's a polarizing design, I rather think that was the point. The Basics Brand: Bulgari Model: Octo Finissimo Grande Sonnerie Perpetual Calendar Reference Number: OCP44GSKLTBGSQP Diameter: 44mm Case Material: sandblasted 18k rose gold Dial Color: transparent Water Resistance: 30m Strap/Bracelet: black alligator with 18k rose gold sandblasted folding clasp The Movement Caliber: BVL 5307 Functions: Grande et petite sonnerie, perpetual calendar with tourbillon, indication of the leap year, day, week, date, phase and age of the moon; power reserve indications for the strike train and going train; various safety systems to prevent damage to the movement during striking en passant or on demand, or during setting of the time; silent centrifugal governor for the strike train. Power Reserve: 48 hours for the going train; 28 hours for the strike train (in petite sonnerie mode) Winding: automatic winding for both the strike train and going train Pricing & Availability Unique piece; already sold.
  20. We've spilled plenty of ink ... or, I guess pixels ... writing about the Apple Watch lately. And for good reason. But it's important to remember that there are in fact other people out there making smartwatches, trying to figure out what the future of wrist-worn computing devices looks like. Chief amongst them is Google, whose Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) powers almost every smartwatch made by companies not named Apple and Samsung. Last week Wear OS got a pretty major update, but it still leaves a lot of open questions about Google's vision for the platform and for smartwatches more generally. Luckily, the folks over at The Verge have us covered here. On his weekly show and column "Processor," Dieter Bohn takes a long look at Google's smartwatch strategy, analyzing everything from the company's conspicuous lack of its own watch hardware to how Wear OS stacks up against Apple's watchOS. His conclusions? Well, you'll just have to do some reading and watching to find out for yourself. Even if you're not a smartwatch nerd (or even a user), it's well worth your time.
  21. RUNNING AFTER TIME The German brand celebrated the 25th Goodwood Festival of Speed this summer with two Timewalkers in a warm, vintage style. Do you enjoy speed, classic sports cars and elegance? Each year since 1993, the Goodwood Festival of Speed has been an unmissable event in the UK. Combining a garden party and a hill climb race, the event attracts fans from all over the world. Montblanc, the official timekeeper for the past two years, unveiled a limited-edition watch this year with colour codes ideally coordinated to the race atmosphere. The watchmakers have given one of its leading current models, the Timewalker Automatic Date Limited Edition, an attractive “cappuccino” beige dial, encircled by a chocolate-coloured minute track. With these attractions combined with a retro font, the three-hand watch conjures up a vintage sports atmosphere. An atmosphere boosted by the elegant perforated strap in vintage-effect Sfumato leather In the 41mm-wide steel case (waterproof down to 100m), the self-winding movement with 38 hours of power reserve drives the hour and minute hands, as well as the red central second hand with a Minerva arrow. As on the original model, the hours are placed on a unidirectional bezel machined in black ceramic. If you are travelling abroad, the bezel can be rotated to provide a second time zone. A date at 3 o’clock rounds off the time elements. Montblanc has also released a limited edition of 1,500 pieces of the Timewalker Chronograph Automatic featuring the same design. Price: 2,715 EUR (automatic) – 4,990 EUR (chronograph)
  22. GOOD TASTE IN ORIGINALITY Why make things complicated when you can keep them simple? With this model, Patek Philippe shows how you can break free of the conventions. We take a closer look. On the dial of a chronograph, you often see a whole host of information laid out more or less stylishly. The simplest watches feature two totalisers in bicompax position, but most have three. By introducing this complication to the Aquanaut collection for the first time, Patek Philippe really stands out from the rest. A single totaliser, for the minutes, is displayed at 6 o’clock. Its shape echoes the octagonal bezel with its rounded angles. The totaliser’s orange minute track adds dynamic presence. Short-time measurements are made using the second hand, also coloured orange. This choice of colour ensures perfect readability, setting up a clear contrast with the black dial. A date counter in the regular position at 3 o’clock rounds off the time information. For simple and effective use, the chronograph has a flyback feature. A press on the monopusher at 4 o’clock instantly resets and relaunches time measurements. Another great feature is that the central hand can be used to display the seconds using the monopusher whenever the chronometer is not in use. The ingenious mechanism is driven by a self-winding movement. The calibre of the 5968A-001 is housed in a robust 42.2mm-wide steel case that is water-resistant down to 120m. The Aquanaut Chronograph comes with a black strap made from composite material. The choice of materials is not negligible. Along with comfort for the wearer, the strap guarantees high resistance to wear and tear and to salt water. And to boost the Aquanaut’s dynamic image, a second, orange strap is supplied. Price: 39,710 EUR patek.com
  23. EdgyGuyJide

    CHROME TEMPOGRAPH LOUIS MOINET

    SECOND GENERATION Enjoying the present moment also means savouring the passage of time. Louis Moinet has launched a new version of the 20-Second Tempograph to give the process material form. In 2015, Louis Moinet launched the 20-Second Tempograph. This watch with a highly singular calibre soon became a reference in the brand’s catalogue. Its distinguishing feature? The time data were displayed on the right-hand side of the dial, but in an original way. In the arc of a circle appeared a 20-second retrograde mechanism. While the oscillating central second hand supplied a fun, attractive display, the hour and minute hands made their way around a small off-centred disc at 4 o’clock. The cogs and components filled the other half of the skeletoned dial. This year, the model is taking centre-stage again with a few changes and a new name: the Chrome Tempograph. In the original model, a self-winding movement designed by Concepto was housed in a 43.5 or 44mm case, depending on the material used. While the calibre LM39 still drives the ballet of the watch hands, it is now placed in a 44mm case, with a design borrowed from another flagship in the Louis Moinet collections, the Memoris. To give the watches a more contemporary feel, two versions have been produced with distinct chromatic designs. One combines black areas with a gold structure. The other brings together blue elements with steel. The watches are exclusive from the point of view of the mechanism, but also in terms of the numbers made, since the limited edition comes in just 60 pieces. Price: 22,000 CHF (steel) – 48,000 CHF (gold) www.louismoinet.com
  24. The Fifty Fathoms is one of the few watches that I feel comfortable calling an "icon" without cringing at all. It's one of the pillars on which Blancpain is built and the brand has continued to expand the line over the last few years, offering new materials, smaller sizes, and a wealth of complications to the mix. But today we've got something for you that's all about looking back at the classics. Opening today at Blancpain's New York City boutique is an exhibition of vintage Fifty Fathoms models, covering some of the greatest hits and some models that you might never have seen before. A mid-1950s Fifty Fathoms. A Fifty Fathoms "3H" made for the German Navy. A "No-Radiation" Ffity Fathoms. A 1970s Fifty Fathoms Day-Date. Now, when I say "Fifty Fathoms," you're probably thinking of a particular type of watch. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that what's in your mind's eye is probably kind of chunky, has a bold bezel with just a few markings, and features a dial with oversized 12-3-6-9 markers. But that's only one of the many kinds of Fifty Fathoms watches Blancpain has made over the years. There are the slimmer, sleeker Bathyscaphe models, the funky pieces from the 1970s with brighter colors and unusual case shapes, and the idiosyncratic variations made for various Navies over the years. If you want a real history lesson on one of the most important sports watches of all time, get yourself to Blancpain's New York City boutique and check these watches out. You won't regret i The Fifty Fathoms vintage collection is on display through October 26 at 697 Fifth Avenue in New York City.
  25. DOUBLE IDENTITY For its 185th anniversary, the brand has shown off its skills by combining a flying tourbillon with its Duoface concept in a limited edition. For the first time since its launch in 1994, the Reverso in its Duoface version has been equipped with a flying tourbillon. This regulating feature is used to compensate for the effects of gravity and is unique because of its structure with a single bridge. In this particular watch, the tourbillon is also used to control the two faces of the watch, helping to create two different atmospheres. On the front dial, at 6 o’clock, we can see its traditional shape. The elegant architecture is shown off by a sunburst blue dial, with the dauphine-type hands moving around silvered hour markers. When you slide and turn over the platinum case (45.5mm x 27.4mm), the reverse side of the Reverso Tribute Tourbillon Duoface dial is revealed. Jaeger-LeCoultre has given this side a much rawer aesthetic feel, highlighting the workings and bridges. A disc decorated with a Geneva wave pattern houses the second time zone, plus a day/night indicator set discreetly at 2 o’clock. The elements opposite the tourbillon are encircled by a minute track, transforming it into a display for the seconds. To produce this design, Jaeger-LeCoultre rearranged the 254 components in the 847 calibre so they could be housed in a case that is just 9.15mm thick. Once fully would, the manual movement provides a power reserve of 38 hours. This limited edition of the Reverso Tribute Tourbillon Duoface is worn with a leather strap. With only 50 watches made, it is sure to delight collectors. Price on request www.jaeger-lecoultre.com
  26. EdgyGuyJide

    V8 SWISSMATIC TISSOT

    ESSENTIAL ASSET After the Everytime, now it is the V8’s turn to be equipped with the Swissmatic mechanic calibre. The result? Elegant, sports-style watches at very attractive prices. Wardrobe basics are those vital clothing accessories to be selected for the day in line with our needs and wishes. Among the accessories for men, the three-hand watch with date is absolutely vital. Choosing the ideal watch, however, is not always an easy matter, and very often a purchase is like a puzzling equation with three unknowns. So is it possible to find a timepiece combining a strong personality with a Swiss-made mechanical movement at an affordable price? Fortunately, brands such as Tissot include collections in their catalogues with all the assets you could ask for. A good example being the various versions of the new V8 Swissmatic. On the black or silver-grey dials the essential time data are displayed. The stylised hands are partially coated in lume and point towards tapering hour markers. A counter at 3 o’clock shows the date, while the central second hand equipped with a T-shaped counterweight indicates that the movement is working correctly. This beautifully simple design is encircled by a black, blue or steel bezel where the minute numbers are placed. This feature gives the 42.5mm-wide steel case a sports feel, which is reinforced by the choice of straps, made of steel or perforated leather. The V8 Swissmatic watches are attractive from an aesthetic point of view, but also for their mechanism. All the models are driven by a self-winding calibre providing over 70 hours of power reserve. Price: from 390 EUR to 450 EUR www.tissotwatches.com
  27. EdgyGuyJide

    HOROLOGICAL MACHINE N°9 FLOW MB&F

    EXUBERANT CURVES With a rounded fuselage evoking aircraft and automobile designs from the mid-20th century, the Horological Machine N°9 Flow is worthy of an artistic masterpiece… to be worn on the wrist! The launch of each new device made by MB&F is an emotional experience. First, anticipation takes hold, as the atmosphere of the timepiece is described prior to the launch. You absorb sometimes conceptual images of vintage cars moving across your screen, trying to grasp what could have been going through the designers’ minds for them to create shapes like these, for them to imagine such fluidity, while asking yourself what the new watch by the Geneva-based watchmakers will look like. And then suddenly it appears, majestic, inspired and inspirational. You are overwhelmed with admiration and surprise. The new Horological Machine N°9, known as the HM9 Flow, is no exception to this emotional ritual. The large curves on the grade 5 titanium case recall the dynamic silhouettes of cars and planes from the 1940s and 1950s, when design was still an art and not a computer-generated process. With an impressive width of 57mm and playing on polished and brushed surfaces, the body of the HM9 Flow is made up of three parts, like a cockpit between two jet engines, with a three-dimensional patented gasket. On the sides, protected by two oblong pieces of sapphire crystal, are balance wheels, each running at around 18,000 vibrations an hour; and, in the centre, the planetary differential engine, used to calculate the average rate of these two beating hearts and provide a stable average display. It took three years to develop the hand-wound mechanism, with a shape in harmony with the watch case. The dial placed at right angles displays the hours and minutes against a black background. There are two versions of this Horological Machine N°9 Flow, with 33 copies made of each: the “Air” model, with an anthracite NAC coating and a dial inspired by pilots’ watches, and the “Road” model, with a rose-gold-plated movement and an hour display echoing the speedometer of a car. Price: 168,000 CHF exc. VAT mb&f.com
  28. Pilot's watches are as popular as they are, not because there are a tremendous number of pilots in the general population, but simply because there are a lot of us in love with the idea of flying. And not flying in the way most of us fly nowadays. I've probably logged more miles in the air than Charles Lindbergh, but it's been a completely passive experience. Air travel today is deliberately engineered either to make you wish you were almost anywhere else (in economy) or to distract you as much as possible (in business class) from the reality of being shot through the air in an aluminum tube, miles above the Earth, with several hundred strangers who are hoping as hard as you are that the crew up front knows what they're doing, and that the aircraft can be relied on to not shed a wing in mid-flight. (I have an especially vivid memory of a flight to Las Vegas a few years ago and a patch of very nasty clear air turbulence over the Rocky Mountains; the plane shook as if Thor were applying his hammer to the fuselage and an elderly woman in the row ahead of me finally said, plaintively, "I hope this plane is made good!") No, the kind of flying we'd like to do is the kind where we're in the driver's seat – where instead of being passengers, we're in control, with just our skill, steady nerves, and knowledge to guarantee that we make it intact from point A to point B. White silk scarves, goggles, flight jackets, the sound of a propeller driven by a supercharged aircraft engine shredding the air, and yes, the nerves-of-steel atmosphere of aerial combat, are all part of the appeal. Of course, none of those things are features, nowadays, of modern civil aviation (well, the propellers are still around, but if you're taking your Beechcraft Bonanza out to the Vineyard for the weekend, nobody's going to try and shoot you down on the way) but that's the world evoked by mechanical pilot's watches. The environment in which mechanical pilot's watches evolved was one in which utility trumped every other consideration, and it's precisely that singular focus that allows pilot's watches to transcend their utilitarian origins and evoke, powerfully, a bygone world. The Navitimer Old And New The Breitling Navitimer 806. The original Breitling Navitimer is probably the most specific, in terms of purpose and function, of all pilot's watches, but the term covers what's actually a fairly diverse range of timepieces. The chronograph is strongly identified with aviation (to a significant extent, this is thanks to Breitling), but pilot's watches can certainly be highly accurate time-only watches intended to aid in navigation (often with shielding against magnetic fields) and the category can include GMT and two-time-zone watches as well. Some of the most distinctive watches ever made were pilot's watches, including the Longines-Weems Second-Setting watch and the Longines Hour-Angle. Like its brother-in-arms, the diver's watch, the days of a pilot's watch as an essential piece of gear in the cockpit are past; navigation today is a matter of GPS satellites and radar. But like diver's watches, pilot's watches still appeal, because the virtues of the world to which they are connected – bravery, the manifestation of hard-won skills, coolness under pressure – remain universally compelling. Behind every pilot's watch is a dream of being, as they say, "a natural-born stick-and-rudder man." Two generations of Chronomat chronographs, with the one on the left dating to the 1940s and the one on the right dating to the 1960s. As any student of aviation watches knows, Breitling probably has more street cred as an aviation supplier than any other single watch manufacturer. The company started making cockpit instruments in its "Huit Aviation" department in the 1930s – its first aviation chronograph was made in 1936 (a black-dial model with radium hands and numerals). The first Chronomat, with a slide-rule bezel for general calculations, was produced in 1940 and of course, in 1952, the most famous of Breitling's pilot watches was introduced: the Navitimer, with a bezel that's essentially a miniaturized version of the E6B circular slide-rule flight computer (nicknamed the "whiz wheel" or "prayer wheel" by pilots) the first version of which was introduced all the way back in 1933. The modern re-edition of the Longines Hour Angle watch. The interesting thing about the E6B is that unlike a pilot's watch, it's still an important part of modern civil aviation – albeit more often in digital form than not, but many flight schools still train student pilots on the E6B, many aviators still like having one in the cockpit (there isn't an experienced pilot alive who doesn't appreciate the value of backups to essential systems) and the FAA still encourages people taking knowledge tests for their pilot's license to bring one along. The Breitling Navitimer 8 B01 Chronograph is a very significant departure from what many of us had come to think of as the classic look of a Navitimer – that watch is rather more busy than not, and the flight-computer bezel, while instantly recognizable, is even more of an anachronism than the mechanical flight computer on which it's based. I imagine there must be people out there who know how to use one but I'm not one of them – I have a Navitimer on my wrist as I write; I've had a couple of other flight computer bezel watches over the last couple of decades (from Seiko and Citizen) and I must have taught myself how to use the bezel on all of them at least half a dozen times but absent the incentive of sharpening real world flying skills, it never sticks. However, I still like that it exists and that at least in theory, it could be used for aerial navigation if need be; this despite the fact that as the years have accumulated, I've gone from finding the bezel, in use, merely hard to read, to finding it almost impossible to make out without a magnifying glass and very good light. The thought of having to use one in a poorly lit cockpit, with the primary navigation systems out, and with turbulence knocking my presumably small plane around the sky, is enough to make my blood run cold. It initially bothered a lot of people that Breitling's new CEO, Georges Kern, introduced a family of watches with the Navitimer moniker but without the flight bezel – and I was one of them. It doesn't bother me now though. For one thing, if you want a wrist-mounted whiz-wheel wristwatch, Breitling still has them (I count a dozen different versions in the current catalog. And for another thing, after spending some time in the cockpit of one of the most modern small private jets, I'm beginning to think that the emphasis the new Navitimer 8 B01 Chronograph places on instant legibility over the inclusion of a functionality that, in a modern aircraft, is a backup of a backup of a backup, makes a lot of sense. Before we talk about what the Breitling Navitimer 8 B01 is like in the cockpit, let's talk about what it's like wearing it where most people who own one are going to wear it: on the ground. The Pilot's Watch For Non-Pilots In some respects, this watch is straight from the decades-old Breitling playbook we've all come to know and love – or not love, as the case may be. It's a large, and on the bracelet it came with on loan from Breitling, rather heavy watch: 43mm x 13.97mm, which although definitely on the wide side, is actually smaller than the current-issue whiz-wheel equipped Navitimer 1 B01, which sits at 46mm in diameter. The absence of the flight computer bezel makes the watch seem to wear about as big, though; however, without the visual clutter created by the flight computer scales, the Navitimer 8 B01 is a far more legible watch, with excellent and pretty instantaneous readability day or night. It does take a little getting used to, although not as much as you'd think – we've had a darned hot summer here in New York and I've been wearing a lot of dive watches (both on and off duty) and so switching over to a larger, stainless steel chronograph has been a lot less of a transition than it might be in fall or winter, when a smaller watch on a strap is more likely to be on your wrist (and mine). The bracelet is very well made, but for me it feels like rather a lot of metal – were I a gent of more imposing stature, this would of course be less the case – and were I to wear the Navitimer 8 B01 on a longer term basis, at some point I'd probably switch the bracelet out for a strap (Breitling makes a very nice alligator strap and of course there are a plethora of other third-party options). The movement is something Breitling's had around for some time now but the company's proud of it, and with reason: the chronograph caliber Breitling 01 was first introduced at Baselworld 2009, and since then, this modern, vertical clutch, column-wheel-controlled, in-house movement has earned a reputation as a solid, reliable piece of work as you could want in a 21st century tool watch. It's even in use, slightly modified, by Tudor, in the Black Bay Chronograph. I've always found operation of the chronograph pushers in this movement to be a little on the stiff side, and in another context I'd be more inclined to take exception, but the unambiguous let-off for start, stop, and reset has the advantage of giving very clear tactile feedback as to whether or not the operation desired is underway. It's not, despite Breitling's somewhat deserved reputation in recent years for making rather flashy watches, a flashy watch – on the wrist it's actually a pretty sober presence, which I think would make it, over a period of months or years, a pretty regular part of mine or anyone's rotation. As a very solid entry in the under-$10k in-house automatic chronograph realm, it ought to be an interesting choice for anyone who wants a vintage-inspired watch that doesn't overstate its connection to the past, has a technically up-to-date mechanism, and still feels strongly connected to the original environment that gave rise to the genre of which the Breitling Navitimer 8 B01 is a part. No, it doesn't feel like a whiz-wheel Navitimer, but it certainly feels like a pilot's chronograph (the size is actually a part of the reason why) and it very much feels, to this non-pilot pilot's watch enthusiast, like a pilot's watch and not, so to speak, an illustration of a pilot's watch. One interesting feature of the Navitimer 8 B01 is that it does still have a two-way rotating bezel, albeit a very simple one with just a single discreet triangle showing where the bezel has been set. I wondered at first what the point might be of having two ways of measuring elapsed time intervals; within a couple of days of getting the watch in for a test drive, I found myself using it along with the chronograph to time simultaneously running dryer and laundry loads. That is about as resolutely ground-bound and unromantic a use for the watch as I can imagine, but I took the point that there are probably many situations where having both would be, if not essential, certainly practical and useful. Now one of the most commonplace observations you can make about tool watches like pilot's watches and diver's watches is that for the most part, they won't be used by pilots or divers – that is to say, they won't ever see the ocean depths, nor in the case of a pilot's watch, are they likely to be seen on the wrist of someone in the driver's seat of a modern aircraft. In the interests of seeing just what this watch looks and feels like from that perspective, we reached out to Breitling to see if, thanks to their many connections with aviation – the Breitling jet team is still very much a part of the company's aviation activities, and recently Breitling sponsored the flight of a vintage DC-3 around the world – they could, as the kids these days say, hook us up. As it turns out, Breitling also has a partnership with Cirrus, which is a maker of some of the most advanced, comfortable, and safe small aircraft today, and with whom the company's partnered in making limited editions for the many Cirrus pilot owners, the most recent of which is a Cirrus and Breitling co-badged version of their flight-centric analog-digital Aerospace Evo. Getting some air time in a Cirrus aircraft turned out to be a little hard to coordinate thanks to the upcoming Oshkosh air show (a gigantic event that draws over half a million aviation nuts and over 10,000 aircraft of all shapes and sizes) but with some schedule fiddling, we were able to get out to Westchester County Airport one very fine summer afternoon, where we found something pretty exciting waiting for us: the Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet. Analog Watch, Digital Airplane My only experience in the cockpit of an aircraft prior to the SF50 Vision Jet has been in high-fidelity computer flight simulators, which are more or less an abandoned genre nowadays, though they were once a thriving category of PC games. My personal favorites were all military flight sims for everything from propeller-driven World War II airplanes (the Soviet IL-2 Sturmovik) to modern ground attack aircraft (the A-10 Thunderbolt) and my personal favorite, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, which is nicknamed the Viper by its pilots, and which was the subject of the classic flight-sim, Falcon 4.0. The F-16 was the first fly-by-wire aircraft, with no mechanical linkage between the controls and control surfaces, and featured a number of other innovations, including a one-piece domed canopy for improved visibility, and a side-stick; it was also called "the Electric Jet." The simulator features a so-called virtual cockpit – basically, your point of view is the one you'd have in the pilot's seat, and all the buttons and switches work as they would in a real airplane. The aerodynamic characteristics of the airplane are accurately modeled as well, and the manual is over 300 pages – it's an immersive experience, but the learning curve is very steep and rather than doing a lot of knocking the plane around the sky in gripping one-on-one encounters, you actually spend a surprising amount of time managing tracking radar sub-modes and trying to spoof enemy air-to-air missiles, which has all the glamour of proofreading a machinist's manual on making screws, combined with the threat of instant death if you miss a semicolon. The workload in a simulator can be pretty high, but it doesn't compare to what it's like being in a small, non-commercial aircraft designed to be flown by a pilot/owner. The Vision is the smallest and least expensive personal private jet in the world – now, "least expensive" is a relative term; if you want to buy one, be prepared, if you order it now, to spend $1.96 million (and wait five years; they're in very high demand). This is, however, about half the cost of the next most expensive private jet. You get quite a lot for your money, as well – the aircraft has an incredibly spacious cabin for the size (we had plenty of room for me, the pilot, and two increasingly nervous videographers with tripods and DSLRs). Five adults can ride at a maximum cruising altitude of 28,000 feet and a speed of 300 knots in much better comfort and having a hell of a lot more fun than you will find in any commercial aircraft. (It's grossly unfair, but I'm always more nervous in small regional aircraft than in a big jet ... I can't help feeling that the air crew must have been unable to play in the majors). The turbofan jet engine is mounted on top of the carbon fiber fuselage, which reduces cabin noise and also reduces the chance of sucking a runway-crossing squirrel into the air intake. That's the reason for the V-shaped tail – a standard tailfin would stick right up into the engine exhaust – which in combination with the very pretty lines of the jet overall, make it a most eye-catching presence in the hangar or in the air. The biggest talking point of the SF50 Vision, other than the tremendous bang for the buck it offers, is the CAPS system. CAPS stands for Cirrus Airframe Recovery System, which goes one better the paranoid flyer's fantasy of having their own parachute – it's a rocket-deployed parachute system for the entire aircraft, and if things really go south and you've decided to place survival over pride, you have but to pull the big red handle set into the ceiling right above the pilot's seat, and the parachute will deploy, lowering the whole plane relatively gently to earth. The CAPS system is present on all Cirrus aircraft, both jet and piston engine models and since it was first used by a Cirrus owner in 2002, it's been deployed nearly 90 times and has saved over 150 lives, making Cirrus planes some of the safest in the world. Inside the aircraft (our pilot was in the right hand seat, with me in the left) you notice that rather than a standard, steering-wheel-like yoke, you have a side-stick, just as you'd find in the F-16 and many other modern jet fighters. The view from the cockpit is amazing – the SF50 has gigantic windows and visibility couldn't be better. The instrumentation is from Garmin and it is up-to-the-minute modern: a dual touchscreen display, which can be customized as the situation warrants, and which takes the place of a traditional analog altimeter, airspeed indicator, attitude indicator, and so on. The display also shows other critical navigation and flight information, including any other traffic out to a range of 8 miles (including direction and altitude info) a visual representation of the landscape over which you're flying, including any obstacles higher than your altitude (which are shown in red) status of aircraft systems, potentially problematic weather, and on and on. There are an abundance of caution and warning systems, and the automated warning voice pilots have nicknamed "Bitchin' Betty" will primly alert you to the presence of incoming traffic, unsafe altitude, engine malfunction or fire (god forbid), and in general keep you on your toes. Our flight took about an hour and a half, and we followed a route from Westchester to just past the Statue of Liberty, turning left after takeoff to head west over the Tappan Zee Bridge, and then turning south to follow the Hudson River to New York Harbor. The airspace over Manhattan is some of the busiest in the world, especially on a weekday afternoon in the summer, and at our low altitude – we were at about a thousand feet or less for most of the flight, with the top floors of several skyscrapers actually higher than we were – things can get exciting. They say that if you make it in New York you can make it anywhere and the same is true, I've heard, about flying in and around New York – between all the heliports, regional airports, La Guardia, JFK, and Newark you can't swing a stick without hitting an aircraft, and it seemed like every two minutes Betty was alerting us to nearby traffic on a potentially problematic vector. This is all by way of saying that the workload on the pilot is significant to put it mildly – we were moving fast and more than once, other aircraft (choppers especially) seemed to come alarmingly close – but our pilot was cool as a cucumber, just the way you'd want it. I had a chance to take the stick on the way back, which was probably the most exciting 15 minutes I've ever had at work. We had a little turbulence, but nothing terrible, and visibility was as clear as you could want all the way out to the horizon. Our pilot talked me through a leisurely left hand turn to put us on final. All us simulator jockeys would like to think we could handle a real airplane, and for sure, a simulator is a really useful context to have, but there is something about feeling an actual aircraft respond to your joystick inputs for which a flight sim does not prepare you, and I noticed the chatter from the back seats settle into a worried silence. The stick was much more resistant than I'd expected to control inputs; it has pretty robust centering springs, I suspect, all of which is part of the jet's overall design, which is intended to return you to safe level flight as quickly as possible. As with modern cars, there is a lot of software helping to keep the already inherently very stable jet out of trouble – you would have to defeat a number of built-in safety systems to stall the aircraft and short of willfully flying into the ground or deliberately ignoring bad weather or icing warnings, it's hard to imagine seriously endangering yourself in the Vision. And if you do, well, there's always that big red handle. Flight Report There were a couple of takeaways from the whole experience. First and foremost, for someone piloting an aircraft – especially someone flying a smaller aircraft through busy airspace – there's a lot to keep track of. I'd never felt especially overwhelmed in the zero-consequences environment of a flight simulator but in one of the front seats of a real plane, you become aware very quickly that there's a lot going on and a lot that requires your undivided attention. That means that if you want to keep track of the time, you probably want a watch that's extremely easy to read and that doesn't have any unnecessary frills. In this respect the Navitimer 8 B01 might actually be a more practical choice than the original flight-bezel Navitimer. A larger watch in the context of a busy cockpit is a blessing – it takes only a glance to read the time, and although there are other timers built into the glass cockpit touchscreen displays, if you did want to use the watch for keeping track of flight time as well, you'd find it a rock-solid backup to modern avionics. The environment in the cockpit is also one that would tend to favor a sturdy watch over something more delicate – you're not doing anything as apt to bash your watch around as rock climbing or mountain biking, but it's still relatively tight quarters and knocking into things tends to come with the territory. You wouldn't necessarily expect any really high-G impacts (unless of course, the whole aircraft is misbehaving, in which case you have other problems) but if you're going to have a watch at all, having one that can reliably keep time under pressure, that you can read instantly, and that you don't have to baby, is a major plus. That someone at the controls of an ultra-modern jet like the SF50 Vision might actually find an analogue mechanical watch useful came as something of a surprise to me, but thanks to the complexity of the cockpit and the significant demands on pilot attention, it's a good thing to have along. It reminds me very much of the E6B flight computer – the original metal version, not the digital one. It's not going to be anyone's primary instrument, but it's never a bad thing to have something that's not dependent on battery power and which can take over some functionality should something go wrong. Despite the presence of the very sophisticated instrumentation in the SF50, being able to see the time quickly and easily on your wrist remains a reassuring supplement to all the digital sophistication at your fingertips, and as someone remarked on a pilot's discussion forum, " ... having a mechanical, 100% reliable, backup is priceless when you really need it." The conversation was about the E6B flight computer but the point remains apropos. Taken in the context of modern technology, at first glance the Navitimer 8 B01 Chronograph seems an anachronism. However this is not entirely true. Spending a little time in the cockpit is a reminder that while technology changes, the basic needs of a pilot flying a plane remain the same: you need easy access to visually unambiguous information, delivered with maximum clarity and minimum chance of confusion. I found the Navitimer 8 B01 very much at home up in the air, even surrounded by up-to-the-minute technology, because fundamentally, it and that technology are built around the same principles. The best instruments are ones that don't call attention to themselves, but to the information they deliver and in that respect, the apparently plain-Jane qualities of the Navitimer 8 B01 become virtues. Final Thoughts Nobody needs a pilot's watch – probably. Like the mechanical diver's watch, though, they're not entirely obsolete, either. First of all, having something backing up essential systems is a fundamental aspect of risk reduction, whether you're in the air or underwater. Secondly, in highlighting one or two essential pieces of information, they serve a valuable, if supplementary, practical purpose. Finally, what you want from a tool watch – to return to an earlier point – is the knowledge that it's an honest expression of the original purpose for which that category of watch is intended. The enduring appeal of the most classic pilot's watches and dive watches largely stems from their fidelity to form-follows-function. A true pilot's watch is a rather spare thing, but that's exactly what gives it its authenticity – it's content to actually be a pilot's watch, rather than trying to act the part. The original Navitimer was, and is, such a watch but it's also rooted in a particular era, when knowing how to use an E6B was absolutely essential. The Navitimer 8 B01 Chronograph reaches further back in Breitling's design history than the original Navitimer – all the way back to the 1930s. Yet it somehow manages to seem even more timeless than the original, because of its fidelity to a time when the fundamental design vocabulary of aircraft instrumentation were first being established. The Navitimer 8 B01 taken alone, is a sturdy, slightly large, rather austere wristwatch. Taken in the larger context of aviation, however, it takes on a different feel – even if you never fly an airplane in your life, knowing your watch is built to work, and work well, in the world it looks like it was made for, makes it a watch that radiates the strength of its convictions in its own functional integrity.
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