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  1. Yesterday
  2. We're coming off a big, interesting week of auctions in Geneva. There were strong sales from Phillips, Sotheby's, and Christies, with more parity between the trio of auction houses than we've seen in quite a while. This was also an auction season less dominated by one or two big-ticket lots, with the catalogs showing strong mid-to-high tier pieces throughout. We did get one new world record of note, with the only known Asprey-signed Patek Philippe ref. 2499 setting a record for the reference at Sotheby's on Tuesday. So now seemed as good a time as any to look back at what it takes for a watch to set a record and how sometimes both the process and the watches themselves are anything but straightforward. The record that seems to exemplify this the most is the title of most expensive Rolex Submariner in the world. Obviously that's a pretty important watermark in the grand scheme of watch collecting. Watches don't get much more iconic, collectable, and covetable than the Submariner, and there are versions of the watch starting at just a few thousand dollars, meaning we can get a really good sense of what takes something from pedestrian to legendary. This white gold prototype held the title of world's most expensive Submariner from May 2017 to June 2018. The current record holder is this million-dollar Big Crown that sold at Christie's in June 2018. The catch? The watch has no bezel or bracelet and certainly looks well-worn. And what did it unseat? This, um, curiosity (to put it kindly) that took the throne just a year before. What do these two watches have in common? They're unusual and don't at all look like what you might think of as "pristine, collectable Submariners" on first look. The watch that held the record before either of them, however, was something much more obviously exciting – this chocolate brown, four-line ref. 6538 is about as dreamy as a Sub can get. Now, there's definitely a lesson in here somewhere. As collecting becomes increasingly sophisticated and as more previously-unknown watches come to market, the bar for what qualifies as "exceptional" and "rare" is increasingly ratcheted up. The world's top collectors are looking for new thrills, so to speak, and are looking for watches that are, for better or worse, different. We're likely going to see more of this over the coming years, and at the very least it will be pretty darn exciting.
  3. Next year will be the 20th anniversary of F.P. Journe's Chronomètre à Résonance, an icon of modern watchmaking (and I don't use that word lightly). The celebration of this watch completing its second decade will be a bittersweet one: Journe is releasing a special edition of the watch that will only be produced for the anniversary year, but once 2019 comes to a close the watch will be retired altogether. The new Résonance is very much the watch you already know. It's 40mm in diameter, made in either platinum or rose gold, and it houses the Caliber 1499.3 with its pair of balance wheels beating in resonance with one another, thus powering the two timezone displays. This version however has replaced the disc display on the left side of the watch with a more traditional hand-indicated display that uses a 24-hour timescale. With this on the left and a 12-hour scale on the right, it should be easy for wearers to easily distinguish home time and travel time. In addition to the two versions of the watch you see here, there is also a "Black Label" version in platinum with a deep black dial. Both platinum and rose gold versions are available on alligator straps or matching metal bracelets. The latter is about as boss a move as one can make. Initial Thoughts While I've always loved the Résonance, I'll admit I'm not the biggest fan of the asymmetric dial variations with the disc on the left and the hands on the right. For me, the symmetry is part of the watch's appeal and more poetically expresses what this watch is all about. I'll be sad to see the Résonance disappear from the Journe portfolio, but this seems like a fitting way to send it off into the sunset. Aesthetically the dial recalls the original Résonance, while the 24-hour timekeeping makes it even more practical. If there's any consolation to be offered in exchange for retiring the Résonance, it's Journe's assurance that something totally new but conceptually related is coming in the watch's wake. Now they've got my attention. The Basics Brand: F.P. Journe Model: Chronomètre à Résonance With 24 Hour Display Diameter: 40mm Thickness: 9mm Case Material: Platinum or Red Gold Dial Color: White or red gold with silver guilloché sub-dials Indexes: Arabic numerals Lume: None Strap/Bracelet: Alligator leather strap with pin buckle or solid gold bracelet The Caliber 1499.3 is made of solid red gold and has two balance wheels. The Movement Caliber: In-House Caliber 1499.3 Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds (two each), power reserve Diameter: 32.6mm Thickness: 4.2mm Power Reserve: 40 hours Winding: Manual Frequency: 3 Hz (21,600 vph) Jewels: 40 Total Components: 286 Additional Details: Movement has two independent balances beating in resonance with one another for improved accuracy Pricing & Availability Price: $84,600 (red gold); $88,700 (platinum); $93,200 (platinum with black label dial) Availability: 2019 Limited Edition: Will only be made for one year
  4. In the early days of my enthusiasm for watches, one of the first watches I bought was a Zodiac Sea Dragon Chronograph. A large, '70s-inspired quartz chronograph with a look that felt a bit like a Monaco crossed with a big vintage diver. Now, with the Super Sea Wolf diver, we find a similar general motif, applied to a traditional dive watch in a way that feels more thoughtfully designed and made, not to mention aimed more directly at enthusiasts. The 40mm Super Sea Wolf with a blue dial and bright orange accents. First up, I think the starting point with this Zodiac is the styling, which I rather like in both its ability to suggest the charm of a vintage diver while also looking distinctive. If you were to visit Zodiac’s website, you would find that the brand produces a wide collection of Super Sea Wolf divers. The version seen here is reference ZO9266 with a navy blue dial with bright orange accents that gives this model a sort of Doxa-adjacent vibe that I really like. 200m water resistant with a screw down crown, the Super Sea Wolf is bright and legible. Long polished lugs and a comfy and stylish jubilee bracelet. A solid steel case back covering the automatic STP 3-13 within. The Super Sea Wolf’s case is 40mm wide and 13mm thick, with a domed sapphire crystal surrounded by a matching bezel with a mineral crystal insert. The widest point of the watch is at the bezel’s edge, making it easy to grip and, given its sporty but not oversized sizing, very comfortable on wrist. On a matching steel jubilee bracelet that fits snuggly into the long polished lugs of the case, the Super Sea Wolf is handsome, colorful, fun, and totally looks the part of an easy-wearing diver. The bezel insert is made of mineral glass and the crystal is a domed sapphire that highlights the depth of the dial design. Allow me a brief aside about that jubilee bracelet, in the interest of any possible buyers. After more than a decade of sizing and fitting my own bracelets, this one nearly got the best of me. The lug fit is very tight, and requires a spring bar slightly smaller than a standard 20mm bar (and the use of spring bar pliers), and the adjustable links use a pin and collar setup. This means you not only have to push a small pin out of place to remove the link (common), but you also have to watch for a tiny collar that sits inside the middle link element. The process is very fussy and if you don’t know to look for that collar (by assuming the bracelet used the more common split tension pin) it would be easy to lose a collar and essentially write off a link. While this may seem like the petty ramblings of a man nearly bested by a tiny tube of metal, I think it’s a worthwhile note for any prospective buyer. You’ll need the tools and the patience to remove and then install each link. The steel jubilee bracelet has a butterfly-style push-button clasp with a spring-fed extension system. While the push-button butterfly clasp does have a tiny amount of sping-flex built in, you’ll need to get the sizing right on, as there is no micro adjust. Once appropriately sized, it’s a nice bracelet that works well on wrist despite the Super Sea Wolf’s long lugs. In a way that reconnects with my above Doxa comment, this Zodiac is a bit strange and definitely charming. The dial depth is remarkable and helps it to feel like an older watch. The date display at three is nicely done, with a simple white surround and a matching date wheel with legible white text. 40mm wide and 13mm thick, pretty good on wrist. The jubilee bracelet really works with the funky vintage styling of the Super Sea Wolf. Comfy, legible, and nicely made, the Super Sea Wolf is a charming dive watch. The luminous markers are applied, adding depth, and the dial uses a handful of fonts in a manner that really recalls dive watch designs of the late '60s and early '70s. The blue and the orange is a strong pairing, but if you prefer less color (or more, actually), Zodiac makes has options to suit both the stoic and the bold. The bezel use is good thanks to the grippy nature of the bezel edge, but the action itself is a bit vague, lacking in mechanical feel. With water resistance to 200m, I could see this Zodiac making for an excellent sporty alternative for a guy or gal who usually wears something dressier but likes to hit the beach or have a fitting option for vacation. The dial depth is so good, tall markers, an applied logo, and wide hands make for a design that really plays with light. The Super Sea Wolf uses an automatic movement made by Swiss Technology Production (STP) called the STP 3-13. With both Zodiac and STP being part of the greater Fossil family, it’s not really surprising to see the Zodiac get an STP over an ETA or Selitta. The STP 3-13 is a competitor to the ETA 2824, ticking at 4Hz, with 26 jewels and a power reserve of around 44 hours. This is my first hands-on experience with a movement from STP and while I didn’t use any tools or special equipment for exact testing, the movement appeared both accurate and similar in day to day use to any of its competition. Movements at this price point come down to reliability and reputation, so STP will have to stay in the mix long enough to compare against the options from ETA, Selitta, and even Miyota. The Super Sea Wolf ZO9266 carries a retail price of $1,395 USD, which includes the bracelet, a wooden display box, and a two-year warranty. As the market for sub-$2,500 sports watches only gets hotter, this Zodiac is priced a step above most microbrands, even breaking the $1,000 ceiling for versions with a strap (vs the bracelet) starting at $1,095. At this price point, the only unknown for me is the quality of the movement, as ~$1,400 would generally get you a 2824 or maybe even a 2892. In or out of the water, the Super Sea Wolf offers a distinctive and bold design. At $1,400, the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf is a good looking vintage-inspired diver that features a strong use of color, a fun design, and excellent sizing. If you want a funky and distinctive diver but don’t want to pony up for something like a Doxa Sub 300, the Zodiac may be just what you need while we all wait for summer to come back around.
  5. Last week
  6. We’re back with another installment of Three On Three, our series of comparative reviews of three watches that belong in a single category. This time around, we’re going head to head to head with entry-level, in-house automatics from three of the biggest brands in luxury watchmaking. Our lineup of watches covers a price range of $3,800 to $5,400, meaning that these are watches that would, in theory, be solid contenders for someone’s first nice automatic watch. Of course, new mechanical watches can be had for less, but there are real advantages to spending a bit more for a watch with an in-house movement from a respected manufacture. The watches we have here today are, we feel, three of the best values in contemporary watchmaking. So, just what do you get by buying into the entry level at Rolex, Omega, and Grand Seiko that you wouldn't get with a comparatively less expensive watch with a supplied movement? As you’ll see, each of these three brands provides you with something special and compelling, even if you’re only buying their most affordable timepieces, so choosing which of these three watches to add to one's collection is no easy decision. Despite the fact that these are among the most affordable options from each brand, the personality of each watchmaker manages to come through clearly– whether it's Omega's use of advanced technologies and certifications for its movements, or Grand Seiko's painstaking attention to finishing details, or Rolex's legendary capacity to make products of steadfastly robust quality at scale. Without further ado, here's your Three On Three. The Grand Seiko SBGR253 First Impressions This is about as basic as a Grand Seiko can be. But what really impresses me about the SBGR253 is not only that the watch looks and feels every bit as good as pricier Grand Seikos, but that it compares favorably with any number of luxury watches currently coming out of Switzerland or Germany. While more and more watch lovers are being won over by Grand Seiko, I think that the high quality that these watches deliver still remains less known than it should be to the vast majority of the general public. I’d be lying if I didn’t cop to getting a certain amount of satisfaction from knowing that some people must see the name on this watch, and write it off out of hand. The Dial It’s been only a couple of years since Seiko repositioned Grand Seiko as its own brand, and I have to say that the new dial design, which eschews the Seiko branding seen on the previous generation of watches, is an aesthetic improvement. The watches now have a super clean look that was previously belied somewhat by what I have to call out as redundant branding. If you’ve ever owned a Grand Seiko, then you know that dials are where this watchmaker really shines brightest, and this model, the entry point for a Grand Seiko mechanical watch, is no exception. You get the same diamond-polished hands and indices on the SBGR253 that come on the pricier models. I’d put this Grand Seiko’s hands and indices up against those found on most of Switzerland’s high end watches with confidence that they are as good or better than most of what's out there. Over the course of this review, I found myself gently turning my wrist to see how light would play off the hands. This is really the kind of watch that you find yourself admiring over and over. While I know that date windows are among the most polarizing of watch design choices, I think that Grand Seiko should be given credit for their approach. They make their date windows with a reflective metal frame that matches the quality of their hands and indices, and I think the overall effect is a date window that works extremely well. The Movement Another area where Grand Seiko tends to show its mettle is with its movements. Though unlike Omega, which has fully embraced new materials and technologies in its movements, or Rolex, which has done so to a somewhat lesser degree, what you get with Grand Seiko is a pretty traditional high-end automatic caliber. Inside the SBGR253 is the caliber 9S65, an automatic caliber beating at a standard 4 Hz (28,800 vph) and coming with 72 hours of power reserve. Grand Seiko lists this movement’s accuracy at +5 to -3 seconds per day when static and +10 to -1 seconds per day with normal usage. But it’s been my experience wearing this and other Grand Seiko timepieces that these watches tend to overdeliver on what I consider to be extremely conservative guarantees of accuracy. As has become my habit when wearing any watch, I synced this guy up to the atomic clock display on the HODINKEE app when I started my review. By the fifth day, I noticed that it was running only about two to three seconds fast. The Case And Bracelet In a few words, the case is very nice, and Grand Seiko is well-known for using proprietary techniques to polish its cases, but the bracelet is one important element that Grand Seiko could improve. I don’t feel like this bracelet stands up to the high bar set by the case, the movement, and most certainly the dial. As a pure matter of the personal taste, I am not a fan of the ribbing on bracelet links, and I think that Grand Seiko’s less expensive quartz watches actually come with a better-looking bracelet. As I say in the video portion of this story, I think the bracelet is nice to have, but would switch this one out for a strap. And with the drilled through lugs, that ought to be a very simple fix. Final Thoughts I think all three of these watches represent an appealing value, but the Grand Seiko (particularly in this smallest size) has just leapfrogged right to the front of my favorite watches from this brand. If I were to add a second GS to my collection, it would almost certainly be this one. Grand Seiko totally understands what is so appealing to consumers about its style and its brand, and they make sure to deliver these elements across the entire collection. Sure, the SBGR253 may be the most affordable watch in this episode of Three On Three, and by a considerable margin at that, but it doesn't feel "less than" the Rolex or the Omega, and that's a real testament to the value that Grand Seiko offers with its watches. The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M First Impressions The Aqua Terra offers a somewhat uncommon take on an everyday steel sports watch with a defined aquatic (but non-diver) inspiration. Something of an outlier in Omega’s Speedy and Planet Ocean–heavy line up, the Aqua Terra is dressier than a diver but more sports-minded than something like a De Ville. To its credit, this Aqua Terra comes in a bit smaller than you might have guessed for a modern Omega, measuring 38mm across, 12mm thick, and just 44mm lug-to-lug. For the guy or gal more likely to go for a cruise or a sail than don tanks and roll overboard, the Aqua Terra 150M blends numerous fine details and a certain resplendent charm, along with a cutting-edge movement from Omega, to make for a very appealing entry point into the brand’s Seamaster lineup. The Dial The dial, especially compared against the Rolex and the Grand Seiko in this lineup, is decidedly more ornate. With a metallic and iridescent blue coloring and horizontal banding to emulate the teak decking of a fine sailboat or yacht, this Aqua Terra 150M positively glows on the wrist. The markers and hands are razor sharp and manage to catch the light in a very jewel-like fashion. The hands and markers are lumed, but take a closer look at the hour and minute hand. The hour hand is lumed along its center axis, while the minute hand is lumed at its arrow-head tip. The center section of the minute hand has a lovely brushed segment that helps aid in contrast and breaks up the polished edges of the hands. The brand’s logo and name are applied and there is a lovely date display at six. Well balanced and nicely implemented, the window is subtle but bolstered by a date wheel with large white-on-black text. Considered as a whole, the dial treatment on the Aqua Terra 150M is bright, super legible, very nicely finished, and helps the watch feel really special on wrist while retaining enough of the function-forward design of a true sports watch. The Movement For those keyed into movements, the Aqua Terra 150M has a lot to offer for the money. Rocking Omega’s 8800 Master Co-Axial movement, even the entry-level gets the goods, including a free sprung balance wheel, Si14 silicon hairspring, and METAS Certification to ensure very accurate timekeeping. Ticking at 3.5 Hz, this very modern automatic movement uses 35 jewels and offers 55 hours of power reserve. The 8800 can be seen via a wide display case back and I think that at this price point movements begin to become a crucial element in establishing both enthusiast appeal and comparative value. One of the big benefits of Omega moving almost entirely in-house for their movements is that some of the more cutting-edge technologies developed for the brand (and the greater Swatch family) can be implemented into a wide range of watches. This ensures that not only are you getting the prestige and enthusiast appeal of an in-house movement, but also that the movement itself is credible, high performing, and well made - all of which speaks to the value statement of the Aqua Terra 150M. The Case And Bracelet While a full steel bracelet is optional for the Aqua Terra 150M, this example from Omega came on a nautical-themed blue rubber strap with a patterned crosshatch center element and white stitching. Replete with a folding push-button clasp and metal inserts for a more robust fit between the lugs, this strap option is a bit over-designed for my taste, and I think the Aqua Terra 150M would better suit the steel bracelet, a leather strap, or even one of Omega’s high-quality NATOs. Aesthetics aside, the rubber strap is comfortable, and the color is a strong match for the dial and the overall vibe of this Aqua Terra 150M. The case, especially in 38mm, is lovely. With simple lines, a wide sweeping polished bevel on the lugs, and a polished bezel, it is unmistakably an Omega and the case echoes the sporty-yet-dressy ethos of the entire design. With a display case back adding a bit of thickness, the Aqua Terra 150M comes in at 12mm but sits nicely on wrist thanks to its smaller overall dimensions. Offering 150 meters water resistance, the Aqua Terra 150M’s screw down crown is large enough to be useful and has been implemented without crown guards (a design element common to many sports watches). Final Thoughts For an entry point to the Omega universe, I think the Aqua Terra 150M is a very successful design. Priced from $5,400 on the rubber strap ($5,500 on the steel bracelet), the Aqua Terra 150M offers a tech-forward package that leverages a great deal of Omega (and Swatch’s) development prowess to offer a great movement in an everyday watch, that manages to successfully tread the line between dressy and sporty in an appealing manner. I’d opt for the bracelet or a NATO and enjoy the Aqua Terra’s 38mm case, detailed dial design, and strong use of color. I like a watch that could easily jump between the office, the pool, the beach, or even a weekend on the boat, without feeling out of place. While $5,500 is no small sum of money to spend on a watch, Omega is one of the best in the game, and as an entry point into a legacy luxury brand, the Aqua Terra 150M has a lot to offer wrapped in a distinctive and very Omega aesthetic. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36mm BY JACK FORSTER First Impressions It's a big challenge, trying to formulate one's first impressions of a Rolex – my own first impression of any Rolex is from the 1970s and over the decades, I've seen so many different models, under so many different circumstances, that it's impossible for me to have any real notion of what a first impression of a Rolex must be like. And yet, that's part of the attraction, I think. Depending on the model, a Rolex can be many different things to many different people but there are certain elements that remain the same, whether you're looking at the humblest Oyster Perpetual, or the most opulent gem-set Daytona, and it's those common elements that make every Rolex a Rolex. You go to Rolex, on a certain level, not for the shock of the new or the amazement of cutting edge innovation, but rather for the reassurance that comes with a steadfast, nose-to-the-grindstone commitment to making a good watch. Of course, there's more to it than that – often a lot more – but the basic underlying characteristic of every Rolex in the modern collections is a uniformity of unassuming excellence in design and execution which is, lest we forget, quite a bit harder to achieve in practice than Rolex makes it look. Thus, we have the Rolex Oyster Perpetual, 36mm: a watch that ought to be, if Rolex is what it should be, not merely the least expensive way to get into a Rolex, but in some sense, the most purely Rolex way to get into a Rolex. The name "Oyster" was first attached to a Rolex watch in 1926; the term "Perpetual" refers not to a perpetual calendar (an occasional source of confusion for newcomers to watchmaking) but rather, to the automatic winding system. The 36mm Oyster Perpetual we had in for review is an extremely spare wristwatch: white dial, stick markers (doubled at 3, 6, and 9:00) with the Rolex coronet at 12:00; you are reminded by the dial as well that you do in fact have in hand an Oyster Perpetual, Superlative Chronometer, Officially Certified. And that's that – no date cyclops (well, and no date), no fluting on the bezel, a case rather more tank-like than not and the bracelet ditto; the only other detail is the minutes track, with its Arabic numerals at the five minute marks, but it is so diffidently done that it seems largely to be there, not as a design element, but as an aid to accurate time-setting, after which you the owner may go about your business, reassured that you won't have to do that again any time soon. The Dial The dial and hands of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36mm seem at first to defy you to see them as anything beyond than the pure execution of a task, which is to show you the time of day without ambiguity or distraction. As with every other aspect of the watch, however, to live with them for any length of time is to have them grow on you in ways that both have everything to do with utility, and nothing to do with utility. We are used to thinking of the utilitarian as also, the somewhat perfunctory; the implication in calling something utilitarian is that you expend just the energy and effort necessary to make it work (whatever that means) and no more. However, there is another approach to take in making a utilitarian object, which has to do with a concept that is a bit old-fashioned these days: the idea of dignity, and in its own small way, the Oyster Perpetual 36mm is a most dignified watch. On close examination, the dial furniture and hands, as well as the printing, exhibit a kind of slow-to-grow-on-you flawlessness, which speaks in turn to a kind of perfectionism in the people and company that made them. They are not, I should hasten to add, high craft objects like the hands and markers of Grand Seiko watches, but this is merely to say that Rolex and Grand Seiko reflect different sets of priorities, while at the same time both reflecting a meticulous approach to fulfilling those priorities. There is an inherent dignity in a useful object that has been made with a view to executing each part with respect for the importance of functional excellence as an end in itself, and this, rather than decorative beauty per se (in which the Oyster Perpetual 36mm manifestly has little interest and which, were it a person, it would no doubt regard as somewhat beneath it) is the sort of dignity the hands and dial radiate. In this sense, it is a most resolutely Swiss watch – and a Genevan one. Both the country, and the city and canton, have deep roots in the notion of the inherent value of hard work for its own sake (it's John Calvin's town, after all) and also, a kind of deeply ingrained horror of ostentation (which is why when the Swiss shoot for actual overt luxury, it often goes over like a lead balloon; it just doesn't come naturally). Not all 36mm Oyster Perpetuals radiate this sort of almost ecclesiastic serenity – you can get them with some rather friskier dials, including Red Grape or Yellow Grape. But in white, the OP 36mm has a vibe rather like that of a competent senior officer on a mid-century cruise liner – squared away and shipshape, and far too busy with real work for fraternizing with the passengers. That the dial markers are 18 karat gold, and that you'd never know it to look at them, merely further cements the impression of very high quality, and zero interest in attracting attention to it as such. The Movement One of the most Rolex features of any Rolex is the fact that you cannot see the movement, despite the fact that more than anything else (arguably) the movement is what makes a Rolex a Rolex. In this case, the movement is the caliber 3130, which was introduced almost 20 years ago, and which is identical to its predecessor, the caliber 3135 (which despite the movement number sequence, preceded the 3130 by almost a decade). The two movements are basically the same engine, except for the fact that caliber 3130 doesn't have a date function. It's 28mm x 6mm and runs at 28,800 vph, with Rolex's in-house Parachrom balance spring, and a Glucydur balance that does its thing under a balance bridge (an arrangement which is generally conceded to offer a more robust mount for the balance than a balance cock, which is attached only at its foot). Notably, the balance is an adjustable mass type, free-sprung, with an overcoil balance spring design; these historically has been a feature of many high-grade wristwatch chronometer movements, and is still something of a rarity especially at this price point. The adjustable mass system used by Rolex is called the Microstella system; Patek Philippe's Gyromax balance is another example, and Omega uses freesprung, adjustable mass balances in its co-axial calibers. In 2015, Rolex launched a major update to its movement technology with the Chronergy escapement, which debuted in the caliber 3255, powering the Day-Date 40mm. The Chronergy escapement is a variation on the lever escapement found in calibers 3130/35, with a skeletonized escape wheel and optimized-geometry lever; it's more efficient than a standard lever escapement, and offers a longer power reserve and as well, should offer better rate stability and accuracy, thanks to the lower inertia in the escapement components. That said, I think one would be hard pressed, the power reserve aside, to notice a difference between calibers 3130/35, and movements with a Chronergy escapement – Rolex in recent years has begun controlling all of its watches to ±2 seconds per day maximum error anyway, which is one of the strictest general-production accuracy standards in the industry. Caliber 3130 is as quintessentially a Rolex movement, as the OP 36mm is a quintessentially Rolex watch. If you want a highly robust, very accurate, extremely reliable movement (which has been praised by, among others, Roger Smith and Philippe Dufour, who are two gents who may be assumed to know a little about the subject) that represents the best in classic Swiss lever escapement performance, look no further. It is nothing exotic or adventurous from an engineering standpoint but then, Formula 1 powerplants are both exotic and adventurous, and they struggle to last a single season. When it comes to making a reliable daily driver, there are worse things on earth than overbuilt, time-honored mechanical solutions. The Case And Bracelet The case and bracelet continue the less-is-more theme – the case makes no bones about the fact that it is there to hold the innards and hold them securely, free from molestation by the elements, and the bracelet likewise radiates a commendable resolve with respect to holding the watch on your wrist. Both exhibit little to no interest in ornamentation per se, unless you want to call the military crispness of the brushed stainless steel ornamental. It's in the hand, and on the wrist, that the quality of the case and bracelet really become noticeable. The fit of this watch at 36mm on my 7 inch wrist was impeccable – as with every Rolex bracelet I've tried in the company's current production, there is a combination of suppleness and reassuring solidity that most other brands, at any price point, struggle to deliver. I'm not sure what it is exactly in the proportions, construction, and materials used that hits such a very sweet sweet spot (I'm sure it's elements of all three) but there is an undeniable physical and tactile pleasure to wearing the 36mm Oyster Perpetual. Car writers talk about road feel and watch writers ought to talk about wrist feel as a particular element of the experience of owning and wearing a watch. The Oyster Perpetual in steel, on a bracelet, at 36mm offers a near-ideal wrist-feel experience. There is just enough of a sense of mass from the use of stainless steel (rather than, say, titanium, which can under some circumstances seem too featherweight for its own good) to give the sensation of wearing the watch the same sense of engagement and control you get from a nimble, precise-handling car on a challenging stretch of country road. Final Thoughts This particular episode of Three On Three was as interesting an exercise in comparative examination as I've had in a long time – these are, after all, three excellent watches from three manufacturers with some generally very similar objectives, but also some major differences in how they approach those objectives. The Grand Seiko in pursuit of its own brand of excellence, gives us some hand-craftsmanship and an overall obsessive pursuit of perfectionism virtually impossible to find anywhere else at a price of $3,800 (for which price you can find a truly amazing variety of extraordinarily forgettable, or at least, much less memorable watches). The Omega Seamaster, at $5,500 (starting price point) offers something which, likewise, you can't get anywhere else: a movement with the only, and I do mean only, non-Swiss lever escapement ever to be successfully industrialized and produced at scale, and you get a slew of other technically forward looking features as well, including a level of resistance to magnetism unmatched in virtually any other modern timepiece. The Oyster Perpetual 36mm, on the other hand, eschews wow factor on just about every level, except where it really counts: the delivery of reliable, under-the-radar, near-total satisfaction in just about every element of ownership. Someone once wrote, on the subject of Edmund Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, that it is not a great play, merely a perfect one. I think that sums up the Oyster Perpetual 36mm from Rolex. It's not in any one specific detail that it excels; rather, it's in the uniformity of excellence in all of its details that it excels, and which gives it its character. There is something deeply, authentically satisfying about being in the presence of something unfussily, and especially, well made. It's as if you'd gone into a hardware store to buy a hammer, wondered why one of the many hammers there is more expensive than the others, snorted at the absurdity of the additional cost, and then picked it up. You note the pleasant heft, the sense of ease coupled to authoritative mass, the overall sense of reassuring solidity, the careful but unostentatious finishing of the steel, and almost without realizing it, you're headed to the cash register, saying to yourself, "Now this, my friend, is a hammer." So it is with the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36mm. You begin by wondering, if you've never held or worn one before, what all the fuss is about, but end by saying, "Now this, my friend, is a watch."
  7. we took a bit of a break with the happenings of New York auction season and the excitement surrounding H10, though Bring A Loupe is back with all the vintage watch goodness you could ask for and then some. There’s a little something fit for every collector’s tastes in this week’s roundup, including an ultra-thin from AP, one of the sharpest gilt dial chronographs we’ve seen in a while, and a little something from Omega for your inner gentleman racer. Also included is a less common Tudor that might catch you off guard. 1968 Omega Chronostop Driver Ref. 145.010 Upon initially getting into watches, one of the first pieces I ever had eyes for was Omega’s uniquely complicated Chronostop. Though the mechanism found in the movement was intriguing, I think it was more so the accessible price point at which these were trading at which surprised me, as it seemed to be a lot of watch for the money. They can still be had for reasonable prices, and continue to offer a lot in the value department, though not all are created equally — allow me to explain. In that the Chronostop only tracks elapsed seconds, and won’t tally up minutes and hours as they pass, the watch originally saw a great deal of use in sporting events in which short periods of time were of interest, including motorsport. With this in mind, Omega created the “Driver” variant of the Chronostop, with a dial rotated 90 degrees clockwise for increased legibility when behind the wheel, and looking to shave that extra few seconds off your lap time. While scrolling through page after page on eBay, I came across a grey dial example of the aforementioned racing timepiece that looks to be in top condition. All luminous plots remain intact, the case is seemingly unpolished, and the original Omega No. 27 clasp is present, which is one of the cooler deployant strap clasps if I do say so myself. For the petrolhead, this would make quite a solid addition to the collection. An eBay seller out of Brazil has this piece listed for $1,900, though you do have the option to make an offer. 1941 Omega Multiscale Gilt Dial Chronograph The gilt dial chronograph is something every astute collector of vintage watches aspires to one day own, and for good reason. In simple terms, they’re some of the most attractive chronographs ever made — thanks to the pops of gilty goodness against an abyss-like gloss backdrop — and collectors are certainly hip to this. With all this said, note that not all gilt dial chronographs are created equally, with case shape, powering caliber, and dial scale design having a say in the determination of overall value. Luckily for you, today we’re looking at one that could be described as a cut above the rest, and upon seeing it you’ll get the picture. This is an oversized example of a Cal. 33.3 powered Omega chronograph, which dates back to 1941, and features the gilded accents we oh so love. Under a loupe, you’ll see that there are actually two tones of gilt detailing, one slightly more copper-like than the other, that work together to create one of the most stunning sights you could ask to see regularly on your wrist. Its lugs look have to have been polished at some point, though not terribly much, as their current thick state would indicate. The good news continues, as the watch has just been serviced, and is being offered with an Omega archive extract, guaranteeing authenticity. In these cold winter months, I wouldn’t mind a little heat on my wrist like such. Shuck The Oyster out of Berlin is offering this gilt dial Omega chronograph for €48,500, though as with most dealers reasonable offers are considered. 1982 Tudor Advisor Ref. 10050 Hunting down unconventional offerings of the Wilsdorf empire is somewhat of an horological passion, given the ubiquity of so many of the private conglomerate’s timepieces. I’m not talking about a rare dial variant, or a coveted bezel insert configuration, but an entire model variant that has gone largely overlooked — tougher find, right? Given the amount of interest in Rolex, it’s more likely that a watch like such would come from Tudor, and the last piece of the day is no exception. With a shield on its dial and a tracing red hand, you’d be correct to guess this is a Tudor Advisor, the Rolex sister brand’s alarm watch. Though the Advisor is relatively known, and was even once reissued, this particular variant catches some off guard, given the lack of an Oyster case and signed crowns. It’s known as the Ref. 10050, and as I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s quite a looker. What appeals to me most about this piece is just how un-Rolex/Tudor it feels. The case is more along the lines of something you’d see from a smaller brand, as are the unsigned crowns. These both come as puzzling inclusions, though it’s all correct and worth knowing, should you happen to come across an example in the wild. Los Angeles’s Craft & Tailored has this Advisor listed accessibly at $2,650. AUDEMARS PIGUET WHITE GOLD DISCO VOLANTE WATCH REF. 5093 If there's one thing to be learned from the past year of notable auctions, is that despite the strength of more mainstream pieces in the current market, tastes are continually branching out in search of the lesser-known and perhaps overlooked. This is why collectors in years past have gravitated towards the expertly crafted, early offerings of Audemars Piguet, many of which were kitted out to the nines with chimes among other welcome complications. For today, let's focus on a more mechanically subdued piece that still manages to amaze with out-of-this-world style. You guessed it – it's a so-called "Disco Volante," which of course translates to flying disc, or flying saucer, thanks to the wide bezel and extremely thin case profile. This is one of the few cases in which I don't mind the presence of what's technically a hobnail bezel, in that the finish has been applied in the form a pattern, that's actually quite nice. It contrasts the admittedly barebones, crosshair style dial well, and adds a little bit to the overall aesthetic. You really don't see many designs like this from the 1950s – especially those executed in a white metal. Aside from a little discoloration towards the edges of the dial, this is pretty much what a flawless piece looks like. I personally wouldn't bother holding out for another, better example, in that you're more likely to find a needle in a haystack. The Keystone has this Audemars Piguet listed for $8,000.00 USD, which doesn't sound unreasonable.
  8. What we have here is a round dress watch that combines in-house watchmaking with a dial that exhibits multiple in-house métiers, including enamel and guilloché. The movement is an upgraded version of the Caliber 925, which we've seen before in the Master Ultra Thin Moon Phase, a watch that has appeared in a number of earlier executions and has been successful for JLC. Interesting to note here: while the Cal. 925 has a power reserve of about 40 hours, this one will run for 70 hours, meaning you can wear it through the work week, take it off for the weekend, and go back to a watch whose date function, moon phase, and time won't need to be reset before heading out on Monday morning. Initial Thoughts The combination of an ultra-thin case and an enamel dial has the capacity to result in a very refined dress watch, and I think what we have here is definitely that. JLC really shines when it comes dress watches like the Master Ultra Thin and, of course, the legendary Reverso. We tend to think of JLC in the context of being a movement maker. And they are of course that. To this day they supply calibers and ébauches to some of the most estimable names in high watchmaking. Here we see two other facets of JLC's in-house artisanal expertise: enamel dialmaking and hand-guilloché. JLC is one of a handful of watchmakers that do pretty much everything in-house when it comes to its watchmaking, and that penchant for vertical integration extends to highly specialized aspects of craftsmanship and decoration that are commonly outsourced at other high-end brands. The closer you look at this watch's dial in these supplied pictures, you see what looks to be a really stunning piece of workmanship. Even the date display has a frosted finish, with the numbers 1 through 31 rising in relief against that background. The Basics Brand: Jaeger-LeCoultre Model: Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel Reference Number: Q13635E1 Diameter: 39mm Thickness: 10.04mm Case Material: White gold Dial Color: Blue Indexes: Applied Lume: None Water Resistance: 50 meters Strap/Bracelet: Alligator strap The Movement Caliber: In-House Caliber 925/2 Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, moon phase, date Diameter: 26mm Jewels: 30 Power Reserve: 70 hours Winding: Automatic Frequency: 4 Hz (28,800 vph) Pricing & Availability Price: $35,800 Availability: July 2019 (subject to change) Limited Edition: 100 pieces
  9. For any man or woman that has an understanding of quality and respect for craft across categories, there is one name that stands far above the rest: Hermès. The family-run business is the very pinnacle of traditional luxury, with world-class ateliers, each with their own legacy and proud history, scattered across Europe. Hermès and timekeeping have an exceptionally long history – from its role as an early retailer of Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, Universal Genève, and yes even Rolex, to the designer of so many wonderful objects in the early 20th century, such as eight-day travel alarm clocks, leather wrapped globes, and of course, wristwatches. In fact, La Montre Hermès, the group's timepiece-focused subsidiary is four decades old – and has an existing history of working with the finest names in horology. Understanding The History Of Hermès Watches Hermès the saddle-maker was established in Paris in 1837, and by the early 20th century, the leather atelier had expanded to create belts, jackets, bags, and bracelets all of the finest quality. It was as early as 1912 that we saw Hermès take its first step towards work in the horological space. At first, Èmile Hermès would apply his legendary saddle-stitch – a single thread and two needles used to cross each other into a single hole, ensuring greater strength over time – to create wrist straps for pocket watches. 1912 - Jacqueline Hermès can be seen wearing a small pocketwatch on her wrist encased in a strap made by her father's leather workers. 1912 - Jacqueline Hermès can be seen wearing a small pocketwatch on her wrist encased in a strap made by her father's leather workers. We can see members of the Hermès family carrying and even wearing the most advanced technology of the time – pocket watches – encased in beautiful saddle leather. Famously, Jacqueline Hermès wore a pocketwatch on her wrist as seen in the picture above. It was not long before Hermès would push further into the creation of leather accessories for timepieces – they famously made small "belt watches" with the help of Tavannes and others. With the onset of popularity of the wristwatch, however, an entirely new category of product would be elevated by the craftsmen at Hermès: the wrist strap. Further, Hermès began to work alongside the greatest names in watches to create leather-wrapped accessories for men, chief among them clocks and watches. As early as 1928, long before most thought the wristwatch was anything more than a passing fad brought home from the first world war, Hermès was to create its first clocks with "Hermès" on the dial. Hermès eight-day clock with triple-calendar, barometer, and thermometer, circa 1940. (Copyright: Antiquorum) Indeed today, at auction houses around the world, some of the most sought-after desk-bound objects of horology bear the name Hermès on them. From alligator-wrapped travel alarms to sterling silver barometers, these items represent the first approach to Hermès watchmaking and indeed, several of these objects are still made very much the same way today. It wasn't long after that we saw the first wristwatches made exclusively for Hermès using their already famed playful design language. An Hermès chronograph circa 1935. (Copyright: Phillips) Hermès would spend the formative years of the 20th century working with and learning from the very best watchmakers of Switzerland until 1978 when Jean-Louis Dumas created La Montre Hermès S.A., a subsidiary of Hermès International. This new business was founded in Biel, home to several of the greatest watchmakers in the world, but remained fully under the creative control and artistic expression of Hermès headquarters in Paris. Over the next few years, the modern identity of Hermès watches would come to the forefront with the introduction of the Arceau in 1978, the Clipper in 1981, and the Cape Cod in 1991. These dark years, known to most as the quartz crisis, proved to be creatively rewarding for La Montre Hermès, and when the mechanical revolution returned by the late 1990s, it was ready to claim its place not only in the field of design, but also in manufacturing. La Montre Hermès Today The atelier of La Montre Hermès is modern and open, providing an airy and creative place of work. By the early 2000s, La Montre Hermès began to see great potential in the future of mechanical watches made in Switzerland – a logistical requirement – but inspired by a Parisian way of life. The idea sounds simple enough, but to this day, one can not think of another contemporary watch designer that is so directly inspired by Paris and those that inhabit it. By 2003, the Dressage watch was launched, powered by a high-end and seldom-seen Vaucher caliber, made completely in Switzerland. Vaucher is a dedicated movement maker that powers the likes of Parmigiani watches and even several Richard Mille timepieces. In 2006, Hermès became a part owner of the Vaucher Manufacture, ensuring high-quality calibers made expressly under the direction of Hermès for years to come. This was an incredibly wise move as some years later, ETA would begin to curtail its delivery of movements to outside parties. This was of no concern to La Montre Hermès – it had its own movements. A watchmaker assembles a Slim d'Hermès within the light-filled headquarters of La Montre Hermès in Switzerland. Over the next few years, Hermès would seek to only add to its legitimacy in manufacturing of watches. By 2013, La Montre Hermès would include its own casemaker and dial maker, meaning the three main components of a watch were now produced "in-house," a claim few outside the very top of the Swiss watch industry could make. The Slim d'Hermès was launched in 2015 and was an instant commercial success. The Arceau Le Temps Suspendu was launched in 2011 and was rewarded with a prize at the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève. It was in this period that we began to see the future of Hermès watchmaking take shape. While marquetry and other artistic craft dials were among the focus of these new introductions, on the other side, whimsical and playful, but technically superlative complications began to appear each year. In fact, Hermès seemed to reinterpret what time even meant with its contemporary creations. It began to be framed not simply as a scientific metric, but as the greatest asset all of us have. This led us to some of the most thoughtful creations yet. 2011's Arceau Le Temps Suspendu, a self-winding watch that allowed the wearer to literally stop time on his or her wrist, coupled the romantic approach to human kind's interaction with time itself alongside an in-house base movement and impressive complication from Agenhor, one of the masters of modern complications. The Temps Suspendu was named the best men's watch at the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève that year, and remains one of the most critically lauded timepieces of the last decade. Following this success, the Slim d'Hermès L'Heure Impatient, or "impatient hour" continued to develop the brand's completely unique interpretation of time – with a new complication that allowed the wearer to set the subtlest of reminders with a single crisp chime set 12 hours in advance. The result is warm and playful, and completely Hermès. In 2015, the Slim d'Hermès was launched as a foundational model in the collection. The brainchild of La Montre Hermès creative director Philippe Delhotal was open and playful, but refined and subtle. French designer Philippe Apeloig designed an entirely new typeface for the watch that gave the slim, self-winding dress watch a casual and airy attitude. Powering the Slim d'Hermès is the caliber H1950 made by Vaucher and finished exclusively for Hermès, though its base caliber, the Seed VMF 5401 is actually used in far more expensive watches from Parmigiani and Richard Mille, for example. The result is a technically excellent, high-grade mechanical watch with micro-rotor, allowing for a thinner case profile, and one of the most beautiful watches to be introduced in the past several years. It serves as a perfect platform on which to create a special new product exclusively for HODINKEE. Introducing The Slim d'Hermès For HODINKEE Only 100 pieces of the Slim d'Hermès for HODINKEE will be made, in addition to 24 pieces of the Slim d'Hermès GMT. Among the editors of HODINKEE, the Slim d'Hermès is constantly touted as one of the most interesting creations in the dress watch category. Its combination of a modern, open aesthetic for which Hermès design is known, coupled with a dose of true manufacture watchmaking is something seldom seen – and we simply love it. This is why we are so proud to announce our latest HODINKEE Shop exclusive, the Slim d'Hermès limited editions for HODINKEE. Yes, we said "editions" with an "s." Slim d'Hermès For HODINKEE $7,650.00 Slim d'Hermès GMT For HODINKEE $14,700.00 The Slim d'Hermès for HODINKEE is available today in the HODINKEE Shop in a limited edition of 100 pieces. The technical specs remain the same – we have the slim 39mm case, the same fantastic Vaucher-made caliber, and that same wonderful Philippe Apeloig-designed typeface. Now, however, the dial is a rich, deep blue, while the seconds register is a frosted silver. The dial appears to have a subtle vignette, though it is actually due to a smoked crystal offering a dramatic edge to the dial of the watch. In addition to the 100 Slim d'Hermès pieces, 24 Slim d'Hermès GMTs have been given the very same treatment. We have the same deep blue coloring and smoked crystal, available exclusively through the HODINKEE Shop. This playful take on a modern jet-set watch is aesthetically unlike anything else in the world and we are thrilled to offer it here. These watches are crafted by Hermès within their Swiss ateliers, and the amount of time and effort put forth to create them has really been extraordinary. The blue of the dial of these watches was achieved via a complex, multi-stage galvanic dial treatment that was performed initially under the eye of no less than Philippe Delhotal to ensure just the right tones were achieved. La Montre Hermès creative director Philippe Delhotal. La Montre Hermès creative director Philippe Delhotal. The quality for which Hermès is known really comes through in these two watches, and the more time one spends looking at them, the more you can see the nuances that elevate this watch into something very special. The frosted silver sub-dials on both watches have a way of playing with light so that each time the dial moves, you see a new color – much like a jewel. Of course, since this is Hermès, the straps for both of these limited editions are hand-cut and stitched using the same methodology that all Hermès leather sees. In this case, all 124 straps are cut from a single skin of alligator, and they are simply stunning in every way. Each straps takes hours to complete, from cutting to final assembly. The Slim d'Hermès Limited Editions are available now in the HODINKEE Shop. The time-only will retail for $7,650 and the GMT will sell for $14,700. All pieces feature individual numbers on the caseback, with a special "Edition HODINKEE" engraving. All watches are in stock and available to ship immediately. We could not be more thrilled to offer these to you exclusively and we hope you like them as much as we do.
  10. In the world of vintage Rolex, lots of attention is paid to the sports models, and to a lesser extent the rare calendar watches. Much less talked about, but equally interesting, are the extremely accurate chronometers known as "Kew A" models, two of which will go up for auction tomorrow at Bohnams. In the days before Switzerland's COSC became the ubiquitous standard for chronometer certifications, several independent observatories throughout Europe evaluated watch movements and bestowed their own certificates. Switzerland's Neuchâtel and Geneva Observatories are two very well-known examples. In France, it was Besançon's Observatory, just over the border from the Swiss watchmaking centers of Le Locle, Neuchâtel, and La Chaux-de-Fonds. England's Kew Observatory, affiliated with the Greenwich Observatory, was among the most famous, and was responsible for certifying marine chronometers that were supplied to the Royal Navy. In its time, Kew employed a far more rigorous chronometer testing regime than those used elsewhere. While 15 days of testing is the standard for COSC, Kew went further, and tested watches for 44 days, in a range of positions, and at various temperatures. The movements that obtained the best results were designated "Kew A." The Kew A-certified movement in Lot 21 with correct Guillaume balance wheel. The Kew A-certified movement in Lot 22. Update: It looks like this watch's Guillaume balance wheel has been replaced with a later monometallic (glucydur) wheel. Eric Wind wrote about the Rolex "Kew A" watches for us back in 2011, and his article remains a good reference for those who would like to learn more about these unusual, highly accurate watches. Lot 21 Tomorrow's Bonhams Watch Auction has the rare distinction of offering not one but two Kew A lots. Lot 21 is the less rare stainless-steel-cased variation of this watch. The movement, which carries the extra distinction of having received an "Especially Good" result, is presented in a small steel Rolex Speedking case and comes on a steel Oyster bracelet. Of the 136 Rolex movements that were granted the Kew A certificate, just nine were designated "especially good." Lot 21 has a pre-sale estimate of $7,600 to $10,000. Lot 22 The other Kew A, lot 22, has been cased up in a far rarer, and larger, 18k gold case. Records show that only 24 of the Kew A Rolex chronometer movements were cased up in this precious metal, making it one of the rarest Rolexes ever, in addition to being one of the most accurate. This watch has a pre-sale estimate of $32,000 to $44,000. Update: A reader reached out to us to say that upon inspection, the Guillaume balance had been replaced on lot 22 (the gold watch). If you look closely at each watch's balance wheel, one can see that lot 21 (the steel watch) has the correct Guillaume wheel, recognizable by the split in the rim of the balance wheel, the two metals, and the space between the split and the central axle of the wheel. Lot 22's balance wheel has been switched to a newer, monometallic (Glucydur) wheel.
  11. EdgyGuyJide

    NEW GENT MIRROR SPOT MICKEY SWATCH

    MOUSE ON A DIAL The world’s most famous rodent has just celebrated his 90th birthday, a chance for the creative brand Swatch to join forces with the British artist Damien Hirst and pay homage to Mickey Mouse in two limited editions. The mischievous Mickey Mouse was born on 18 November 1928 and for 90 years has single-handedly symbolised the magical world created by Walt Disney (1901-1966). To give the anniversary both a rare and artistic flavour, Swatch, the exuberantly creative brand from the watchmaking group of the same name, has joined up with the British artist Damien Hirst (1965) for a unique collaboration. The Swatch x Damien Hirst consists of two limited editions highlighting the world’s most famous rodent: Spot Mickey is available in 1,999 pieces (sold out), and Mirror Spot Mickey in a limited edition of 19,999 watches. Under the artist’s eye, Mickey Mouse seems to have “exploded“; his features and expressions have disappeared, only leaving the essential elements arranged in dots of varying sizes and with colours recalling the silhouette of the Disney cartoon figure. And yet, he’s all there: the ears, nose and the buttons on his famous black romper suit and the bright red shorts, the yellow shoes, the peach-orange face and white gloves. On the dial, in a silver colour for the 41mm-wide Mirror Spot Mickey and black for the 34mm-wide Spot Mickey, the arms are formed by two black baton-style watch hands rounded off with white dots to show the hours and minutes. The watch is powered by a quartz movement. Mirror Spot Mickey has borrowed its plastic case and silicon strap (both transparent) from the New Gent collection. When you place the watch on a flat surface, Damien Hirst’s Mickey Mouse seems to grow and take up all the available surface of the watch. For the Spot Mickey, released on the Swatch website on 18 November 2018 and sold out in just 24 hours, the black plastic case and strap are made of two strips of different colours, yellow and red, with a tang-buckle and black loops. Price: 125 CHF (Mirror Spot Mickey) – 190 CHF (Spot Mickey)
  12. EdgyGuyJide

    KONTIKI BRONZE ETERNA

    COPPER AND GREEN REFLECTIONS With several bronze watches already part of the KonTiki collection, Eterna has used the metal once again, this time with a wonderful green tone, midway between khaki and emerald green The sea adventure undertaken by the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002) and his crew on board their raft, the Kon-Tiki, ended 101 days and 8,000 km after they left Peru on 28 April 1947. Most of the crew were wearing robust Eterna watches that kept very accurate time during the whole Pacific Ocean crossing. A few years later, in 1958, the watchmakers took inspiration from this great human and technical adventure to create the KonTiki Eterna-Matic model. This then led to a whole collection, which has just been joined by the new KonTiki Bronze. Although bronze first featured in the family of watches in 2017, here it is combined with an attractive green tone on the dial and the bezel. The KonTiki Bronze, an edition of just 300 pieces, displays a delicately sanded face coated with green, with the light bringing out all its nuances. Khaki, verdigris, emerald: the combination of colours is in wonderful harmony with the warm tone of the 44mm-wide bronze case. This resistant metal, made from a copper-based alloy, often takes on a slightly greenish patina on the surface due to oxidation or through contact with humidity. At the heart of this robust setting is the calibre EMC 3902A, an automatic movement made in-house by Eterna. Running at 4hz and with a power reserve of 65 hours, the calibre drives the dauphine-style, gilded and luminous hour, minute and second hands. The hands move around an hour rim made up of cone-shaped hour markers coated in Super-LumiNova®. The watch includes a rotating bezel featuring a diving scale on a green ceramic ring. It is worn with a natural-coloured oiled leather strap with a bronze tang buckle. Price: 3,100 CHF
  13. CHINESE MAGIC As the year draws to a close, Blancpain dazzles our eyes and wrists with four models inspired by Chinese culture and history and displaying all the watchmakers’ craftsmanship and artistry The fascinating history of China is filled with incredible stories that are now part of its popular culture. Out of the many episodes from a rich past, Blancpain has chosen one in particular about the Four Beauties of Ancient China. The watchmakers have not only given us a journey back in time, but also a chance to enjoy their wide-ranging artistic skills. The series of four unique pieces named Métiers d’Art Great Beauties is an ode to beauty, whether of women, like the four characters, or of craftsmanship, in the decorative techniques used. Four women famous for their graceful beauty, four important periods in Ancient China, four striking scenes displayed on four watches: this collection is like a four-part picture. The story goes from 722 B.C. to the 1st century A.D., from the first part of the Western Zhou dynasty (Spring and Autumn period) to the Tang dynasty. The famous beauties, named Xi Shi, Wang Zhaojun, Diaochan and Yang Guifei, all played an important and sometimes a political role in the history of China. Even though Diaochan comes from a novel called Romance of the Three Kingdoms, written by Luo Guanzhong in the 14th century, it was inspired by one or more real women. Each display on the dials of this quartet of Métiers d’Art Great Beauties calls on the artistic skill of the Blancpain craftsmen and women: “Grand Feu” champlevé enamel and engraving with translucent enamel for the Xi Shi version; shakudō (taken from the Japanese art), engraved and enamelled indices with mother-of-pearl for the Diaochan model; marquetry and engraving on gold or mother-of-pearl for the Wang Zhaojun watch; and lastly, painting on miniature enamel for the Yang Guifei piece. Each timepiece has a 42mm-wide rose gold case with a double-stepped bezel and, on the dial, sage leaf-shaped hands that are the features of the Villeret collection. The hours and minutes are driven by the 13R3A calibre, a hand-wound movement supplying a 8 hours of power reserve. Series of 4 unique pieces blancpain.com
  14. PURPLE IN THREE DIMENSIONS The Legacy Machine N°2, the latest opus from the hyper-creative Geneva brand, bathes its three-dimensional dial in a beautiful purple colour that not only catches the light but also the attention. The Legacy Machine N°2 (LM2 for the fans) was first launched in 2013 and was an instant success. Unlike the highly architectural watches MB&F usually designs, and more striking visually than its predecessor, the Legacy Machine N°1, released in 2011, the LM2 immediately attracted and even hypnotised customers, journalists and aficionados. Because under the sapphire dome, like a glass bubble, lay a whole world of technique and beauty. But even the most beautiful story must have an end, and this story concludes with the Legacy Machine N°2 White Gold Purple. The watch limited to just 12 pieces is the last in the series. To launch this grande finale, MB&F has chosen purple, a colour made by mixing red and blue, and highly symbolic in certain cultures. It is at the very end of the spectrum that can be seen by the human eye, just before the ultraviolet frequencies, which are invisible. The dial on this new LM2 is made of platinum and has been finely engraved with rays in a spiral, like an iris, before being coloured purple using a CVD (Chemical Vapour Deposition) treatment. The result is an even colour that changes according to the light, playing with the nuances, going from a deep purple to a moiré magenta. Under the constant ballet of the two “flying” balance wheels, a small dial, chamfered with white gold and coated with white lacquer, at 12 o’clock, displays the hours and minutes with the help of two blued gold hands and Roman numerals lacquered in black. At 6 o’clock is the planetary differential, the real conductor of the watch. Inside the 44mm-wide white gold case is a hand-wound movement running at a relaxed rhythm of 2.5hz (18,800 vibrations an hour) and providing a power reserve of 45 hours. Price: 148,000 CHF exc. VAT mb&f.com
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  16. EdgyGuyJide

    H10 Livestream: The Italian Influence

    Back in the 1980s, a small group of Italian watch dealers started buying up “exotic” dial Rolex Daytonas, later dubbing them “Paul Newman Daytonas.” This watch originally sat untouched in retailers’ cases and cost less than $1,000. Now some rare examples fetch more than $1 million. How did one group of people from one country influence the way we collect vintage watches so strongly? We sit down with two men who have seen it all, from both collecting and selling standpoints, John Goldberger and Davide Parmegiani. Both are legends in the vintage watch world and are testaments to how one country has changed everything.
  17. While the vast majority of watches are mass-produced for mass consumption, even at the high end, a few independent watchmakers continue to produce individualized timepieces in very small numbers for a selective global audience. The Grönefeld brothers, Maximilian Büsser, and Roger W. Smith each represent particular approaches to this most challenging path, and will discuss the difficulties and rewards of their work, as well as share their thoughts for the future of independent watchmaking in a universe increasingly dominated by big group brands.
  18. It's hard to think of a brand with more interesting stories to tell about heritage, watchmaking, and style than Cartier. The design house has been creating objects of desire for well over a century and with a shocking level of consistency, always managing to envision that next thing that's going to make you the envy of all your friends. Looking back over the first decade of HODINKEE we've been extremely fortunate to share many of these stories with you, ranging from in-depth historical tales to hands-on reviews of the latest watches. A Look Inside The Archives When Cartier called us in early 2017 and told us that they would be bringing more than a dozen watches from the company archive to New York, we knew this was something we had to capture on video. The resulting story offers a look at what has made Cartier watches so distinctive for over a century, using highlights like an early platinum pocket watch, the original Tank Normale, and a stunning white gold Crash as touchstones. Two Weeks On One Wrist: The Santos And Tank Américaine Over the last few years, Cartier has done a great job looking at its history and reinterpreting classics. In 2017 we got the introduction of the stainless steel Tank Américaine, and in 2018 we got the introduction of an entirely redesigned Santos collection. Both of these stand out as exceptional choices for a daily-wear watch that's just a little bit different from the standard round watch you'll see on most people's wrists. Stephen also reviewed both of them, offering insights into how each watch fits into Cartier's broader story, what sets each apart, and who might want to take a closer look for themselves. A True Revelation In addition to its more classic designs, Cartier has made more than a few wild, experimental pieces over the years. One that literally elicited gasps of excitement in the halls of SIHH 2018 was the Révélation d'Une Panthère. This special watch uses a patented system of invisible channels and fluid to guide 900 gold balls into the shape of Cartier's iconic panther whenever the wearer tilts her wrist to check the time. That Time We Went Hands-On With Jackie O's Tank There are watches with provenance and then watches with provenance. If you were dreaming up the perfect Cartier Tank, it would be hard to think of something cooler than a little yellow gold Tank purchased in France and owned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. We were lucky enough to get to spend some time with Jackie O's Tank ahead of its sale at Christie's, digging up the full story on why this watch is such an important part of horological American history. When it sold at Christie's a few weeks later it ended up fetching $379,500 – a perfect ending to an already great story. An In-Depth History Of The Iconic Cartier Mansion On the eve of the opening of Cartier's massively renovated, now more than 100-year-old Mansion on Fifth Avenue in New York City, Jack treated us to an exhaustive history of what might be the most famous watch and jewelry store on the planet. There is no shortage of intrigue, as he weaves together the stories of the maison, New York society, an evolving urban landscape, and the evolution of watches over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. And then there's the matter of those famous pearls... Bonus: Métier d'Art Alright, this one was just too cool to leave off the list. One of the things that sets Cartier apart is its amazing métiers d'art department, which has its very own home out in the Vallée de Joux. We got to pay these incredible craftspeople a visit back in 2015 to offer up an inside look at how Cartier's enamel, mosaic, and marquetry watches are made. It's a real treat.
  19. EdgyGuyJide

    HERITAGE SKIN DIVER WATCH LONGINES

    A DIVE INTO THE PAST Almost 60 years after the release of its first diving watch, the watchmakers from Saint-Imier have reissued a model that was a big success at the time. The new version has the same design as its predecessor, but with contemporary technology in line with the times. As well as creating beautiful timepieces at very affordable prices and almost endless creativity, one of the great specialities of Longines is reissuing watches that have marked its 185-year history. These souvenirs of the past, with designs found in the archives of the Saint-Imier-based brand, have been redesigned with a new but respectful look and included in the Heritage collection. An example is the new Skin Diver Watch. The model has all the main design features of the brand’s first diving watch, released in 1959, while incorporating contemporary techniques. And almost 60 years later, if you place the original version side by side with the new, the similarity is striking! Like its predecessor, the Heritage Skin Diver Watch is cut out for diving. And it can now go down to 300m thanks to a robust 42mm-wide steel case and the screwed crown and caseback, helping to guarantee watertightness. The back of the watch is decorated with an embossed engraving showing the outline of a diver in a wetsuit with a mask, an oxygen bottle, swimfins, a harpoon… and, of course, a watch! To make a serene, deep-sea dive easier, the watch comes with a fluted, revolving, unidirectional bezel, coated in PVD and with a diving scale made up of sand-coloured markings and a luminescent triangular indicator. The curved dial has a delicately sanded surface with an hour rim combining stick-shaped hour markers and rounded Arabic numerals, which are also in a dark beige colour. In the centre, a trio of rhodium-plated hands, coated in Super-LumiNova® and powered by the self-winding calibre L888.2 based on an ETA movement, have the same design as on the original watch: a spear-shaped hour hand, a sword-shaped minute hand and a baton-style hand for the seconds. This new Longines watch can be worn with a steel Milanese mesh strap, a natural brown leather strap or a rubber strap with a checked texture, evoking a woven pattern. Price: 2,460 CHF
  20. EdgyGuyJide

    GOLDEN BRIDGE TITANE DLC

    TIME AND GEOMETRY Corum’s Golden Bridge is famous for its visible baguette movement, like a skyscraper at the centre of the dial. The watch boasts a striking design and a round titanium case coated in black DLC In 1980, almost 40 years ago, the Golden Bridge was launched. The “baguette” movement, created by the watchmaker Vincent Calabrese, caught the attention with its linear cogwheels and an arrangement that literally hung in the air inside a rectangular case. The angular watch produced by Corum has always been a source of visual, but also of technical magic. Today the collection is joined by two new circular versions. Far from being a sacrilege, they show an architectural development involving a geometry of shapes with a rectangle set inside the circle. Of the two Golden Bridge Titane DLC versions joining this wonderful watch family, one has golden touches and is limited to 68 pieces, while the other sets up contrasting colours with its silver effects. Naturally, the first thing you notice is the famous baguette movement, with its long, slender outline like a New York skyscraper. The gearwheels in the hand-wound calibre CO113, running at a standard frequency of 28,800 vibrations an hour and providing 40 hours of power reserve, are held in place by a white or engraved red bridge featuring scrolls and arabesques, as well as the word Corum. Using the golden or silver crown at 6 o’clock, depending on the version, you can wind the watch or move the two central baton-style hour and minute hands to set the time. There are also two parallel structures made up of black branches and evoking the road bridges linking Manhattan with the rest of New York State. The titanium DLC case on the two Golden Bridge watches is 43mm wide and 8.80mm thick. The timepieces are worn with a black textured rubber strap, rounded off by a folding clasp. Price: 23,800 CHF (titanium and rose gold) – 23,500 CHF (titanium and white gold)
  21. It's hard to believe that just a few years ago you couldn't buy a Grand Seiko in the western world. But it's true. In a relatively short period of time though, the brand has gone from an underground cult favorite to one of the most widely respected watchmakers on the planet, and for good reason. Picking just a handful of Grand Seiko stories from our first decade to feature here was definitely a challenge, but this should give you a good sense of what Grand Seiko represents and why you should be paying close attention to what comes next. Celebrating The Right Way In 2017 Grand Seiko took a big step and became a fully independent brand under the Seiko umbrella. What this means for you, the consumer, is that Grand Seiko watches no longer say both "Seiko" and "Grand Seiko" on their dials. To mark this major moment, the brand released a trio of watches that recall the original Grand Seiko from 1960. Even beyond the great story they're exceptional timepieces on their own merits and ones that collectors will be buzzing about for a long time. The Legendary Eichi II The Eichi II sits near the top of the Grand Seiko portfolio and is without question one of the finest time-only watches on planet Earth. And no watch nerd worth his or her weight in spring bars is going to argue with you about it. Jack's in-depth examination of the Japanese marvel is one of those stories that warrants regular re-reading, not least of all for the stunning photos he took of the watch both front and back. You want a lesson in exceptional finishing and artistic watchmaking? Check out our story about the original platinum version of the Eichi II as well as our update for the new rose gold version. Inside The Manufacture Last year we created a three-part video series in partnership with Grand Seiko that offered an unprecedented look at the people who make Grand Seiko watches, how they're made, and the unique technologies that set them apart from what you're used to seeing come out of Switzerland. We'd recommend you pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, and watch the three videos back to back. You won't regret it. Reviewing The Snowflake It's hard to think of a watch that better exemplifies what makes Grand Seiko special than the SBGA211, known to most people simply as The Snowflake. This watch has a solid titanium case and bracelet for comfort, a Spring Drive movement, and a special textured dial that is otherworldly in its beauty. Luckily Jack spent a full week with the Snowflake to see if it's as fun to wear as one might expect. Spoiler alert: it totally is. The Quartz Standout We don't cover quartz watches all that often here on HODINKEE, but when we do you should know that it's got to clear a pretty high bar. The Grand Seiko 9F quartz watches do just that and more, setting a totally different standard for what a quartz watch can be. When Ben first got a hands-on look at this piece back in 2014, he knew instantly that it was something worth sharing, and that's every bit as true today as it was then. Bonus: Getting Fancy Everyone knows that Grand Seiko makes technically outstanding watches and their generally understated interpretation of classical watchmaking is one of the brand's hallmarks. However, when they want to pull out all the stops, Grand Seiko is capable of creating extravagant, artistic pieces too. The Fugaku Tourbillon might be the best example of this, with its gem setting, mother-of-pearl inlays, and metal sculpture all harmonizing to great effect (not to mention a dramatic tourbillon at nine o'clock).
  22. Design Miami kicks off today and, as the official watch sponsor of the show, Panerai has announced a special limited edition Luminor available at the fair. The Luminor 1950 10 Days GMT Automatic Acciaio 44mm (PAM986) is essentially a blue dial version of the PAM533. Rocking one of the brands more impressive movements, this handsome Luminor stands out with a strong use of color and very limited production. Initial Thoughts The substantial name covers most of the highlights, with this 44mm steel Luminor using Panerai's P.2003 movement for 10 days of power reserve, a GMT function with 24 hour indication, AM/PM indication, and the ever-cool linear power reserve. The addition of a radiant blue dial works really well for this design and is enough of a change from the standard black version to make this LE stand out. Available at Design Miami from December 5-9, the limited edition Luminor 1950 10 Days GMT Automatic Acciaio 44mm carries a $14,400 price tag and is limited to just 40 pieces. After Design Miami it will remain a U.S. exclusive. The Basics Brand: Panerai Model: Luminor 1950 10 Days GMT Automatic Acciaio 44mm Reference Number: PAM986 Diameter: 44mm Case Material: Stainless steel Dial Color: Blue Indexes: Arabic numerals and hour markers Lume: Yes Water Resistance: 100 meters Strap/Bracelet: Canvas strap The Movement Caliber: In-House Caliber P.2003 Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, GMT, 24-hour indicator, linear power reserve, seconds reset Power Reserve: 10 days (240 hours) Winding: Automatic Frequency: 4 Hz (28,800 vph) Jewels: 25 Pricing & Availability Price: $14,400 Availability: On sale starting today at Design Miami Limited Edition: 40 pieces, U.S. Exclusive
  23. When a new season of auction catalogs comes out, it's often an overwhelming experience. All of a sudden there are hundreds of watches to look at, evaluate, and judge, and with the quality of catalogs these past few years, more and more of them are genuinely worth spending some time examining. But, every season, there are also a few watches that jump out immediately and say "Hey! Over here!" When it comes to Christie's New York evening sale, taking place this Thursday, there was not a moment of doubt as to which watch was most exciting: the Rolex ref. 6062 "Dark Star." And, in fact, I think this is the most exciting watch of this week's New York auctions overall. On the wrist the Dark Star looks incredible. So what exactly is this watch beyond the catchy nickname? It is a Role ref. 6062 automatic triple calendar with moonphase in solid yellow gold. The watch dates to circa 1952 and has a special dial adorned with gold star markers at eight of the hours, a so-called stelline dial (meaning "little stars" in Italian). Now, these things on their own would make for a pretty spectacular and rare watch. It's though that around 670 yellow gold 6062s were produced, but only a tiny fraction of these have star dials. A few of these stelline 6062s have come up at auction over the last half-decade or so and they always attract plenty of buyers. But what makes the Dark Star special has nothing to do with how it left the Rolex factory nearly 70 years ago. Looking at the caseback you can see the natural color of the yellow gold. The patina on the case is nicely offset by the bright, clean dial. The watch comes paired with a yellow gold Rolex buckle. The name Dark Star comes from the heavy patina that covers the bezel and both the top and sides of the case. It has a dark, purple appearance that shows shades of blue, green, and orange, depending on how the light hits it. The overall effect is that of a dark opal or mother-of-pearl. This patina has formed due to the surface of the yellow gold oxadizing, and it could easily be polished or cleaned away – that it remains so dark and thorough is seen as a sign that this watch has likely gone mostly unworn and almost certainly unpolished for decades. You can see the original color of the gold on both the caseback and the razor sharp Super-Oyster crown. The crown doesn't show the same patina as the case. And now for the matter of price. The estimate on this watch is $1,000,000-2,000,000, which is nothing to scoff at. It's often hard with these high-value, unique watches to get context or perspective on figures like these, but luckily for us this watch has sold at auction before, giving us a helpful benchmark. Christie's last sold the Dark Star in December 2011, when it fetched $542,500. Just a week before that sale a more pedestrian ref. 6062 sold for under $100,000, meaning that even back in 2011 the Dark Star was deemed worthy of more than a 5x premium. Considering what's happened to the vintage Rolex market in the last seven years, a doubling in price doesn't seem outrageous at all, and when you factor in the sale of unique watches like the Bao Dai and the prices achieved by steel ref. 6062s, it could easily go for more. No matter the final sale price, the Dark Star is one very special watch. The Rolex "Dark Star" is lot 160 (the final lot) in Thursday night's sale, which starts at 6:00 PM ET at Christie's New York headquarters.
  24. With SIHH a little more than a month away, we are starting to get a peek at what is in store for Geneva's premier watch event. Always a highlight at SIHH, IWC has shared four upcoming new models for their Pilot's collection. From bronze and Ceratanium to worldtime and constant force, these new editions show the breadth of technology, watchmaking, and style available in what is likely IWC's core product line. Let's dig in. Pilot's Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium First up we have an addition to the TOP GUN range within the Pilot's collection that marks the first use of Ceratanium for the case of an IWC Pilot's watch. This material, which has been created by IWC, is a composite material that offers the scratch resistance of ceramic with the lighter weight and high strength of titanium. For this launch model, the Pilot's Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium (ref IW371815), the case is 44mm wide and 16.8mm thick with a full matte black finish and a matching stealth treatment to the dial, hands, and textile/rubber strap. Surrounded by a soft-iron inner case for added anti-magnetism, the Pilot's Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium uses IWC's 79230 movement. Based originally on the 7750, the 79230 is a hugely specialized expression of the form that includes a full double chronograph (aka a rattrapante, you can read an amazing piece by Jack about it here). While certainly on the larger side for a sports chronograph, the wonderful movement, cutting-edge case material, and generally stealthy vibe of the display make this IWC TOP GUN a natural application for the launch of Ceratanium. While pricing has yet to be officially announced (and can change before the eventual retail launch for this watch or the others in this article), IWC says the IW371815 will retail for around $15,000. As the images make it difficult to predict just how dark the time display is in natural light, this is one I'm very interested to see next month at SIHH. Pilot's Watch Chronograph Spitfire (Bronze) 41mm wide and looking great with a dark olive green dial and a warm bronze case, the new Pilot's Watch Chronograph Spitfire (ref IW387902) takes a shape and size we know well and just mixes up the color and case material. All of the usual hallmarks are here, 15.3mm thickness, 60m water resistance, a sapphire crystal, titanium case back, and IWC's 69380 in-house column-wheel chronograph movement. Interestingly, this is the first 41mm Pilot's chronograph to get a 69000-series movement, using an example from one of IWC's core in-house movement collections. I think between the bronze, the green dial, and that brown calf leather strap, they nailed it. The 41mm sizing is classic for the line and I really think it's a great design to see in the sort of old-world vibe that comes with bronze. While pricing is not official and may change, the bronze Spitfire chrono should cost around $6,250. Pilot's Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition "The Longest Flight" Remember the Timezoner? Originally launched as a chronograph at SIHH 2016, the new Pilot's Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition "The Longest Flight" retains the clever bezel-operated hour jumping mechanism (so fun) for the world time indication but crosses this functionality with an in-house automatic movement from IWC. Despite its considerable 46 x 15.2mm sizing, I really like this non-chronograph implementation of the Timezoner that also integrates some of the styling cues common to IWC's Spitfire models. Limited to 250 watches, the ref IW395501 pays tribute to the "Silver Spitfire - The Longest Flight", a daring project to restore a Spitfire and then fly it around the world. As is common to the Spitfire collection, this Timezoner Spitfire uses a steel case, a warm faux-aged lume, and a green textile strap, drawing aesthetic inspiration from the famed warplane. Using IWC's new 82760 movement, this Timezoner has a 24-hour display just under the 12 o'clock marker (the date is at three). Twisting the bezel advances the local hours hands, 24 hour hand, and the date, effectively updating both the local display and the tracking for the worldtime in one motion. If you didn't get a chance to play with the original Timezoner chronograph, the bezel function feels very mechanical and it is a really interesting way to implement a sort of hybrid GMT/passive worldtimer without the need to unscrew a crown or even push a button. Slated to retail for around $12,400 (subject to change before launch), the Pilot's Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition "The Longest Flight" is a cool and noteworthy LE with a unique time zone complication, and I am thrilled to see the brand continue the use Timezoner in general. Big Pilot's Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition "Le Petit Prince" Finally, something rather different from rest. While certainly part of the Pilot family, the new Big Pilot's Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition "Le Petit Prince" ensures IWC plays to the "HH" of SIHH. 46.2mm wide in 18k "hard gold", this Big Pilot gets the Le Petit Prince treatment with a radiant blue dial and is limited to just 10 pieces. This reference IW59030 is both IWC first pilot's watch to have a constant force tourbillon and the first time that IWC has produced a watch with a "red hard gold" case. Hard gold is a special alloy that is much more scratch resistant (5-10x, according to IWC) than normal red gold. Inside that hard gold case (and viewable via a display case back) is IWC's manufacture 94895 movement, which uses a constant-force system combined with a tourbillon for enhanced accuracy. This hand-wound movement also features twin barrels offering 96 hours of power reserve, a moon phase display, and a power reserve. While pricing is not yet final (and is subject to change), the Big Pilot's Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition "Le Petit Prince" should retail for around $235,000. Given the complexity of the movement and the case material, the pricing is not exactly surprising and this is far from the first time that we have seen advanced complications applied to the Big Pilot format. For more information, visit IWC online and be sure to stay tuned for our hands-on impressions from SIHH next month.
  25. CREME DE LA CREME Here, the exception is the rule. A noble material, craftsmanship worthy of luxury watchmaking and practical complications are all combined to meet the needs of aficionados. Since 2006, Vacheron Constantin has provided collectors with exclusive limited editions in the Excellence Platine Collection. Sometimes simple, sometimes complicated, all the watches in the collection have a case and dial made of Pt 950 platinum and are worn with a dark blue alligator leather strap that is hand-sewn with platinum and silk threads. The 100 pieces of the Traditional Complete Calendar are no exception. The sword-shaped hour and minute hands are housed in this elegant setting, along with slender hour markers and a central second hand. Two symmetrical counters show the day and the month. A central blue hand makes its way around a circular date track. At 6 o’clock, an engraved moon phase that needs to be corrected only once every 122 years and a lunar month indicator round off the information in an attractive and ethereal way. The 41mm-wide case may not be extremely thin, but it still stands out with a width of just 10.7mm. It houses the calibre 2460 QCL and its 308 components driving all the time functions. The automatic movement also provides the model with a power reserve of 40 hours. When you turn the watch over, the gold guilloché rotor is visible through the sapphire glass. The level of craftsmanship on display means that the Traditional Complete Calendar from the Excellence Platine Collection has the Geneva Seal certification. Price: 68,500 EUR vacheron-constantin.com
  26. EdgyGuyJide

    GOLDEN BRIDGE TITANE DLC CORUM

    TIME AND GEOMETRY Corum’s Golden Bridge is famous for its visible baguette movement, like a skyscraper at the centre of the dial. The watch boasts a striking design and a round titanium case coated in black DLC In 1980, almost 40 years ago, the Golden Bridge was launched. The “baguette” movement, created by the watchmaker Vincent Calabrese, caught the attention with its linear cogwheels and an arrangement that literally hung in the air inside a rectangular case. The angular watch produced by Corum has always been a source of visual, but also of technical magic. Today the collection is joined by two new circular versions. Far from being a sacrilege, they show an architectural development involving a geometry of shapes with a rectangle set inside the circle. Of the two Golden Bridge Titane DLC versions joining this wonderful watch family, one has golden touches and is limited to 68 pieces, while the other sets up contrasting colours with its silver effects. Naturally, the first thing you notice is the famous baguette movement, with its long, slender outline like a New York skyscraper. The gearwheels in the hand-wound calibre CO113, running at a standard frequency of 28,800 vibrations an hour and providing 40 hours of power reserve, are held in place by a white or engraved red bridge featuring scrolls and arabesques, as well as the word Corum. Using the golden or silver crown at 6 o’clock, depending on the version, you can wind the watch or move the two central baton-style hour and minute hands to set the time. There are also two parallel structures made up of black branches and evoking the road bridges linking Manhattan with the rest of New York State. The titanium DLC case on the two Golden Bridge watches is 43mm wide and 8.80mm thick. The timepieces are worn with a black textured rubber strap, rounded off by a folding clasp. Price: 23,800 CHF (titanium and rose gold) – 23,500 CHF (titanium and white gold)
  27. Today we have one of our first previews of what Zenith will formally unveil in Geneva next month. It's the latest in the company's Defy range, a collection whose name evokes a conflict with overtly traditional aspects of watch design. For a brand that to many is largely defined by a chronograph movement that came out in the late 1960s, Defy might seem like Zenith's chance to get out from under the shadow of its own estimable legacy, but this actual case design is in fact heavily influenced by the original Zenith Defy, which came out back in the 1970s. The watch looks like it might be pretty complicated at first glance, but it's actually a fairly simple automatic openworked three-hander with date. The openworked dial seems unusual in that it adds to the symmetry of the design – check out the arms radiating from the center of the dial. Openworked and skeletonized dials tend to have a much more off-balance look to them. What's really new about this watch, though, is that it features a ceramic case, the first for Zenith's Defy Collection, which cements a stealth look that's echoed in the dial and in the textured rubber strap. It's a sleek looking, and I'd imagine, wearing, watch. Thanks to the in-house Elite automatic movement inside (which measures just 3.88mm from top to bottom) the watch's overall height is just 10.75mm, despite its see-through back and what looks to be a fairly large step for the bezel. While the Elite movement has been around for decades, this version has been upgraded with a silicon pallet lever and escape wheel in its escapement. Initial Thoughts Even with its 1970s case design cues, this watch from Zenith's Defy collection is among most unapologetically forward-looking and modern. It's a modern, sporty watch with really stealth looks. I do wonder, though, if it might actually be more legible at night than in daytime. There looks to be more than ample lume on the hands and indexes, but in these photographs, the hands look like they might get lost against a dial that is at once monochromatic and busy. But if you're in the market for a fully blacked out watch, I'm guessing that legibility at a glance is not going to be a major sticking point The Basics Brand: Zenith Model: Defy Classic Black Ceramic Reference Number: 69.9000.670/78.R782 Diameter: 41mm Thickness: 10.75mm Case Material: Ceramic Dial Color: Openworked black and grey Indexes: Ruthenium-plated, faceted, and coated with Super-LumiNova SLC C1 Lume: Yes, on hands and indexes Water Resistance: 100 meters Strap/Bracelet: Black rubber strap with black DLC folding buckle The Movement Caliber: Elite 670 SK Automatic Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date Diameter: 25.6mm Thickness: 3.88mm Power Reserve: 48 hours Winding: Automatic Frequency: 4 Hz (28,800 vph) Jewels: 27 Pricing & Availability Price: $7,500 Availability: March/April 2019
  28. The watch company known as Gorilla is a relatively new development, having launched in 2016 with a series of watches that put design and high-quality case materials at the forefront – and offered things like ceramic and forged carbon construction at a fraction of the prices usually charged for cutting edge, high tech components. The watches are powered by Miyota 90S5 automatic movements – reliable and inexpensive, they allow Gorilla to maintain highly competitive pricing (around $1,000, more or less, depending on the model) while still offering a mechanically driven timepiece with an exotic appeal. The company is headed by Octavio Garcia, who worked as a star designer at Audemars Piguet from 2003 to 2015; he's joined by industrial designer Lukas Gopp, whose work's been seen at such varied firms as IWC, Ralph Lauren Watches & Jewelry Co., and Audemars Piguet. Among the company's more recent introductions is the Gorilla Fastback Mirage Limited Edition, which is essentially an iterative update to the no-longer-available original Fastback. The Mirage has the same sapphire crystal, ceramic bezel, anodized case-middle, and forged-carbon body as the original Fastback, but in such a different color scheme as to seem almost an entirely different watch. A Ford GT 40, at Goodwood in 2004. (Image: Wikipedia) As the name implies, the Fastback watches are automotive-themed. Automotive-themed watches in general are a dime a dozen, and typically they are a rather listless crowd – obvious design cues mated with branding that not even fans of the automotive brand in question are actually interested in seeing on a watch. There are exceptions but as a rule, car-themed watches give of an air of perfunctory fulfillment of a contractual obligation, rather than radiating anything like actual enthusiasm for the exercise. I think part of the reason that Gorilla watches work is that while they're clearly related in look and feel to cars in general, and motorsports in particular, they're also not restricted to displaying the specific attributes of any particular car brand, and so the designers have quite a bit more freedom. The Fastback Mirage's color scheme is based on the Ford GT 40, which won at Le Mans for four years straight (1966 to 1969) which is probably best remembered in its orange and blue Gulf Oil livery. Funnily enough I think the watch actually reflects the attraction of the Gulf Oil paint scheme (which the GT 40 wore at Le Mans in 1968) much better than if it had any overt Ford branding; the way the paint job accentuates the rather ferociously feline lines of the car carries over very well to the design of the watch. As with the original Fastback, the impression you have when you unbox the Fastback Mirage is of a watch that punches well above its weight in terms of overall quality and excellence of execution – it's a $1,150 watch but it's far more satisfying to handle and wear than the price would lead you to expect. Yes, it's true, the movement is a Miyota but first of all, it's an excellent movement especially if you're trying to build a sharp-looking watch on a budget, and second, the rest of the watch is so nicely done that you don't particularly care. One of the nicest things about the Fastback Mirage is the strap, which gives the impression of having been made with as much thought and attention to detail as the watch itself. Often straps are at best, an afterthought, and it's interesting given how well the strap works as an integrated part of the design, to reflect that both Garcia and Gopp spent time at Audemars Piguet, whose Royal Oak really wrote the book in late 20th-century watch design, in terms of making the case and bracelet a unified whole. This is done much less often with straps – the furthest most watch brands usually go is making the stitching kinda-sorta match some element of the watch head, but in the Fastback Mirage, both the visible and hidden parts of the strap are all of a piece with the other elements, in both color and form. Purely from a design standpoint, the use of such extroverted color and form in watches probably goes all the way back to the 1960s, but forty years ago you were still restricted to using the same basic materials for those watches, as for more traditionally styled pieces. The advent of more unusual materials – at first in special application tool watches and in very expensive luxury watches – means you can produce a colorful, striking watch in which the color is really part of the design at its most basic level; it feels like part of the basic structure of the watch, rather than cosmetic per se. "What is good design worth?" is an interesting question to ask in a lot of contexts. In watchmaking, design – apart from the question of whether or not it's objectively good design, which is a separate issue – is a significant part of the overall value of the watch. Richard Mille is a perfect case in point; I'd say that at least 50 percent, if not more, of the perceived and actual value of a Richard Mille watch inheres in its design, rather than in rarity or cost of materials and execution. (This is not, by the way, to denigrate Richard Mille; it's merely to point out that if you just look at materials cost, you might be missing the whole point. The value of, say, Van Gogh's Starry Night has very little to do with how much the paint and canvas cost.) One of the benefits of industrial mass production was supposed to be that it could make excellent design available to millions at a reasonable cost. That happens, but more often it just means shoddy goods flood the market in the name of producing a sustainable margin. The Fastback Mirage is a very particular kind of watch design – it's not going to draw the same crowd as a vintage-inspired round steel chronograph, that's for sure – but for this kind of watch design, it's got a lot going for it. Materials usually found in much more expensive watches, a sensible choice with respect to the movement, and above all, a design that radiates a genuine sense of fun and real exuberance, make the Mirage an extremely enjoyable watch to wear, and an excellent Value Proposition.
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