Homage or copies? The great watch lovers debate

The topic of homages has always been divisive in the watch-loving community, and as in any partisanship, the positions are all the sharper, the more heartfelt the diatribe.

On one side are those who believe each watch should remain distinct, as the result of independent technical and stylistic research, and should be left untouched, without any reference, actual or alleged, from other manufacturers.

On the other hand, some believe that ideas are in the air and that it is therefore not only inevitable but necessary for these to be shared so that the industry, as a whole, makes them its own, grinds them down, and uses them to move forward.

And this is only from a formal point of view: if we go down into the more practical aspects of business, we are confronted with even different aspects. But first of all, we need clarity on what precisely a homage is since the meaning of this definition sometimes eludes some enthusiasts.

What is a homage, and what is a copy

A homage is a watch inspired by aesthetic canons similar to those of another timepiece produced by a certain Maison, which obviously predates the first one and probably represents an iconic model.

However, a homage differs in several aesthetic and technical details from the original model, primarily by bearing a different brand name on its dial, thus making it impossible to confuse them, even on superficial examination. This is the main reason why producing a homage is perfectly legal.

Copies, on the other hand, attempt to copy as faithfully as possible the main watch, imitating it aesthetically (and in the case of the most extreme copies, i.e., clones, also from a technical point of view) to make them in distinguishable from the original, including creating a dial bearing a fake logo.

The difference, on closer inspection, is all in this approach. Whereas a homage is not intended to confuse people, a copy is produced solely for that reason. And so, this ethically places the two cases on very different planes.

How to determine which one is the model?

Typically, determining who was the first model of a specific design is not particularly difficult: we just rely on a time criterion. For example, the Rolex GMT Master was the first GMT watch of that precise type created in the world in 1954. Its introduction then caused a long wave of other Maisons that paid homage to it, or rather, used similar stylistic canons in their GMT models.

Davosa Ternos Professional GMT

It started to get more complicated with the Rolex Submariner and the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. As many will know, these two models came out on exactly the same occasion in the same year and were, if not the same, strikingly similar. So, how to determine the principal model to refer to?

In this case, history took care of that: for reasons of diffusion (ah, marketing), the Rolex Submariner grew over the years to become, de facto, the reference model for a particular type of diver’s watch, relegating the equally noble Fifty Fathoms to the empyrean of the knowledge of a few.

And we close with a case where it is impossible to trace the history to single out one model. We are talking about the Flieger watches, produced just before WWII by different houses in Germany, following specifications dictated by their patron, in the case of these, the Luftwaffe.

And between Pilot’s watches and B-Uhrs, we have today a host of Flieger watches, of which the best known is the IWC Little Prince, itself an homage to a model developed earlier. But who was its first manufacturer among Lange, Laco, Stowa, IWC, Wempe, and others? We do not know.

The good reasons for a homage

Let’s face it: watchmaking is a beautiful but expensive passion. And certain particular watches are either very expensive, impossible to buy, or both at once. In the most classic case, despite recent price settlements, a Rolex Submariner is unlikely to fetch less than $10,000, representing a substantial sum for many.

Still, so many admire its qualities and design, which faithfully reproduces the original launched some 70 years ago. So, the choice is to save up to buy one after a few years (and we are typically talking about many years, so a major project) or to rely on a good homage that costs ten times less and is available immediately.

 

Mainly because most homages possess technical characteristics that are sometimes even superior to those of the model they refer to.

Davosa Ternos watch

The best tributes, made by companies such as Davosa, Steinhart, and even former giants like Revue Thommen, mount very well-made calibres produced by the best houses on the market, such as ETA, Sellita, and Seiko, sometimes with COSC certification, and offer water resistance equal to or better.

In terms of materials and finishing, we are also on the same level: grade 5 titanium cases, AR-treated sapphire crystal, ceramic bezels, or other technical materials, carefully assembled and finished.

Besides the name on the dial, the real difference is the price you pay for them. Otherwise, the experience, from a technical and functional point of view, is precisely the same.

The first “homagist” has royal origins

Needless to deny: one of the most homage houses is the House of the Crown, and the Submariner, besides being the world’s best-known watch, is also the most homaged and imitated timepiece in the world. But historically, all Swiss houses had different lines within their production, and often, other brands.

Rolex itself deposited many different brands that it then used especially early in its history, or then sold to others, as happened, for example, with Wintex (yes, it was a Rolex brand). But there is one brand that the Geneva-based Maison, on the other hand, has held on to tightly: Tudor.

Tudor has always been considered Rolex’s “little sister”: the two brands shared designs, materials, and often, components, but Tudor mounted ready-made movements produced by outside houses (so-called ebauche) while Rolex, after its beginnings when it relied on Aegler’s calibers, mounted manufacture movements.

TUDOR Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue”

And as far as price was concerned, Tudor offered Rolex quality and a major brand at a lower price than Rolex itself. This was a win-win positioning: in this way, Rolex could also extend its offerings to a more affordable segment, and watch enthusiasts could buy good watches with very similar designs to Rolex watches even without having to open a mortgage. As Rolex continues to tweak prices upward, the gap between the two brands widens and, thus, affects more and more people.

In short: the first homage manufacturer was Rolex itself. And so one is a bit surprised when one hears heavy statements about design originality that must be protected.

In summary

We do not think the debate between the two opposing sides can be reduced and defined in an article since this has not happened in decades. From our point of view, which is certainly more practical, we think the homage phenomenon has its validity and dignity.

It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of admiration, and this must be true if we believe the proverbs: but from our point of view, we know that the creation of homage often represents the first step for so many modern Maisons, which then began to follow their path once they had clearly defined what it was.

We do not believe that originality at all costs is necessary. Quite the contrary: the study of the productions of past geniuses – and we are talking about Genta and Breguet – is undoubtedly an essential element in building this immense cathedral of commitment and technique that is the art of watchmaking. And the world of homage, in its various forms, is a pillar of it.

The Author

Franz Rivoira is a notable horology expert and journalist, quite famous for his activity on Quora. He has cooperated with several websites dedicated to luxury and horology, among which his latest is MicroBrand Watch World, a magazine dedicated to the phenomenon of microbrands. He is the author of several e-books about horology (The Watch Manual).

Danish Design Watches: LESS IS MORE

The art of simplicity is one of the most beautiful things, that if mastered, can work really well for you. Simple things in life like indulging in your favourite home-cooked delicacy with superior wine. Or snuggling in your warm and comforting blanket while it is raining outside.

The warmth and comfort that you derive out of the simple things in life, can be termed as the philosophy of Danish Design watches.

Danish Design Watches

Right from interior designs to stunning timepieces, all of the designs created by Danish Design have one common element of simplicity and sparseness. This also helps add to the timeless appeal. With this same thought process, the unique and beautiful timepieces were added to the list of Danish products.

These watches followed the same design philosophy as Danish, the same way other products did.

A) So, what exactly is Danish Design?

Danish Design can be termed as a style that combines both, a functionalist design perspective and architecture as well.

Two great minds, namely, Hans Wegner and Arne Jacobsen designed sleek lines with a touch of sophistication that were reflected across every product in the wide offering of Danish products.

The simple and Nordic design is reflected in the designs of Danish watches, these elegant pieces act as the perfect accessory for your wardrobe.

B) What’s unique about the Danish Design Colour?

Typically, Danish designs are associated with light and muted colours. They will most likely come across as a combination of monochromatic shades that include blacks, white, grey, and neutral colours. They try to create a sync with the colours that are most likely used as a part of architectural designs.

Besides the monochromatic shades, the colour palette also includes dull pink, shades of blue, shades of green, and gold.

C) What is the Danish Design Watch?

Danish Design watches always focus on the philosophy of less is more. Combining simplicity and functionalism, Danish Design watches have a high rank in the world of fashion as being one of the trendiest, stylish, and most wearable watches.

Typically, these watches provide the feel of a classic timepiece and modern futuristic colours. While design forms an important aspect of a watch, there are other quality factors also taken into consideration that makes a Danish Design watch worth investing in.

These watches comprise a great built-in quality that ensures your watch will last a lifetime if used correctly.

Known for their simplicity element, they are proud of crafting their products by hand and are always on the lookout for flaunting their Danish-designed craftsmanship.

D) Some of the best features of Danish Design Watches?

Besides the simplicity factor, which is highlighted through colours, another important feature of Danish Design watches is the premium look and feel that promises quality. These watches make use of a Japanese quartz movement that uses a single-done sapphire crystal glass that is enhanced with an anti-reflective and scratch-resistant quality. The straps are also carefully designed using the finest quality Italian leather.

The best feature about these watches is that they are made for both casual wears as well as a more decked-up look. They are designed for everyday wear, irrespective of the occasion or the outfit that you are wearing.

These watches are highly customizable based on the preferences of the individuals. You can pick the perfect watch based on your hand size.

With such amazing quality and minimalistic designs, the only addition to making these watches even better is their affordable prices.

Danish Design watches are targeted towards people who prefer elegance and style but prefer to not spend an extravagant price to get the same.

E) Where can you buy Danish Design Watches?

Most of the designs on offer can be easily purchased off their website. The website boasts multiple simplistic and beautiful designs. With a simple user interface, you can easily buy your favourite collection directly from the Danish website.

Besides this, other websites cater to selling certain designs all over the globe, if you keep the authenticity parameter in check, you can explore these websites to buy your favourite Danish Design watch as well.

Additionally, there are concept stores and retail partners who make these Danish design watches available to the customers. It is always worth investing in a fashion watch since they stick around for a long time and match your fashion sense.

The best part about these websites is that they cater to multiple price segments, right from the most basic one to the stylish most expensive one of the lots, which will be available at these online stores.

Conclusion

Danish Design watches follow the concept of less is more, and this works very well for them and their designs. Each of their watches is built with excellent craftsmanship and passion combined with a commitment to get a sophisticated design that looks good for any occasion.

So go ahead and explore their wide range of watches, choose one that suits your style and flaunt your fashion sense.

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7 Reasons Fashion Watches Are Worth the Purchase

The watch industry has all kinds of timepieces and horology is huge when it comes tobrands. The most elite watch enthusiasts only work with manufacturers that are known for their craftsmanship. Unfortunately, this isn’t fashion brands as they focus more on the look of their devices than the quality of parts in them. Watch-snobs use “fashion watches” as a derogatory term for timepieces that only look good.

We’re pretty fond of them. Countless brands are producing these timepieces, which is why we had to review them. We ran through all the reasons they’re worth the purchase.

They’re Freely Available

Back in the old days, watches were not that common – pocket watches ruled. Everyone has a wristwatch now. From the timepieces available, fashion watches are easily amongst the most popular. We think they’re the most popular type as manufacturers who don’t primarily make watches produce them as well.

Wrist watch

As they’re readily available, you can find them in all kinds of styles, which would reflect who you are as a person. You can also find several pieces with the design you want, easily snagging one that’s well within your budget.

They Look Good

Swiss watches are so expensive as they’re packed with features. This is not true for fashion pieces, but they’ll look as good, even better. Don’t take the “fashion” in their name lightly – manufacturers produce them solely to look good. You might not guess it, but a lot of effort has gone into their aesthetic. As they’re so many of them available, it won’t be hard for you to find a stunning one.

Good Parts

As you know, watch enthusiasts aren’t huge on fashion watches. This is as horology is important to them, and they believe fashion watches focus more on appearance than parts or quality of movements. This isn’t entirely true – the manufacturers producing the timepieces put in just as much effort.

hunters race watch

It’s hard to generalize them, especially when brands like Nixon are around.  Nixon is an American manufacturer that produces watches that are affordable, good-looking, and have great movements. They entered the game as they weren’t happy with the quality of cheap watches on the market.

We have to say, their timepieces are some of our favorites.  There are countless names like it – such as Jack Mason. They have great lines. Each collection is inspired by something, so you’re getting craftsmanship in their devices.

They’re Affordable

Not only do they look good, but they’re very affordable. As established, manufacturers focus a lot on the device’s appearance than the features it comes with. This results in a watch that’s well within anyone’s budget.

Some fashion watch manufacturers, like fossil, make their products look expensive. You’ll easily be able to fool people into thinking you spent an arm and a leg on them. Some lesser-known manufacturers do a good job at this too – like Megir. However, Megir produces watches that aren’t that great in quality.

Streetwear watch

As fashion pieces are everywhere, you can easily snag a deal on them. It won’t take you long to find a retailer selling them at a discount. Names like Akribos, Burei, and Nixon are known to regularly put their products on sale.

You Won’t Care About Damaging Them

You don’t have to be a watch enthusiast to know that watches can be very expensive. The Rolex Daytona costs well over $10,000. Fashion brands produce watches that cost a fraction of the price. If you were to shatter your Rolex’s display, you’d be incredibly disappointed. To get the timepiece fixed, you’ll have to pay a lot too. Not only would be affected less when you damage a fashion watch, but you can easily get a new one instead of having it replaced.

You’re Getting Dupes

In the watch world, designing watches that look similar to more expensive ones is called paying homage. Rolex has a myriad of brands paying tribute to them. This is especially true for the Rolex Submariner. Paying tribute and copying a timepiece is different. Tributes look similar, but they’re not identical.

More acclaimed brands generally don’t replicate other timepieces as the practice is looked down upon. However, fashion watch manufacturers don’t have such a reputation to live up to, so they replicate expensive watches all the time.

Watch enthusiasts are more linear with fashion brands as they’re not known for their horology. This results in a device that not only is affordable but looks expensive. Your loved ones would stop and stare – especially if you have a device replicating Audemar’s Piguet’s watches; they’re ultra-chic.

As you can imagine, tribute watches aren’t as expensive as the originals they’re duping. However, they’re still not that cheap. Invicta’s homages of the Submariner can cost up to $500. If you were to pick up a tribute a fashion brand made – not a replica, you’ll be spending a fraction of the price.

They’re Great Gifts

If you’re looking for a gift, a fashion watch should be at the top of your list. Not only are they affordable, but they’re freely available. This would allow you to get one that your loved one would adore.

White shirt and gold watch

Don’t forget that they look great too, which is just as important. They make show-stopper gifts as they come in boxes that make them look especially luxurious. This is especially true if you’re purchasing from an American fashion watch manufacturer.

Conclusion

What do you think about fashion watches? We think they’re great timepieces that not only look good but are super affordable. Many watch enthusiasts think they don’t match up to regular watches as they only focus on appearance. If you look around, you’ll find fashion brands that produce watches that are of superb quality. A good example of this is Nixon.

Of course, they make great gifts too. They come with automatic mechanisms, which make them as intricate as their counterparts and freely available as well. All in all, we think they’re fabulous purchases. So, which of the above points sold fashion watches the most?

[Note: This is a Guest post written by Callum Gough]

Top 5 Uses of Smartwatches

Since Apple launched its first smartwatch, kickstarting the trend and encouraging other tech giants to take a plunge in the sector, the technology has come a long way.

Smartphones today can serve a wide range of functions, below are just five of the most significant uses.

 

1. Fitness Tracker

One of the most common uses of smartwatches is as fitness trackers. Even basic smartwatches usually come with a pedometer function that counts the users’ steps. However, some smartwatches will only provide these functions if they are paired with a smartphone that contains the necessary companion app. You should check before you buy your smartwatch.

2. Receiving Notifications

Having to pull your smartphone out of your pocket every time you receive a new message or alert can quickly get annoying. But with a smartwatch, you can not only check your notifications just by glancing at your wrist, but you can also respond to many of them using your watch, depending on the specific model you have.

3. Controlling Media

The other common reason that many of us find ourselves pulling our phones out of our pockets constantly is that we need to adjust the music we are listening to or line up a new podcast. With the right set up, you can leave your phone safely in your pocket while your watch controls media playback and adjusts your volume.

4. Navigation

Many smartwatches today have built-in GPS, enabling them to act as standalone navigation assistants, even if youdon’t have a smartphone to pair them with. A persistent misconception about smartphones is that they only work if you have the corresponding smartphone with a compatible operating system. In practice, there are many smartwatches on the market that function just fine all on their own. A list of the best standalone smartwatches available in 2020 can be found on expertcog.com.

The quality of the GPS service provided by smartwatches has also improved substantially since the first generations. They can now be used just as reliably as a smartphone. However, note that the accuracy of the GPS will scale with price – you need to pay more for a more accurate GPS function.

5. Style

Aside from all of the technological benefits of owning a smartwatch, they also serve the same functions as regular watches. Not only do they tell you the time (what doesn’t these days?) but they are also stylish fashion accessories. Smartwatches can be just as fashionable as regular watches and are available in the same range of styles that regular watches are. The ability to customize smartwatches by swapping out straps and cases means that you can find the right combination to go with your look.

Smartwatches are the Swiss-army knives of the future. Smartwatches are so much more than just companions for smartphones, there is a growing market for standalone smartphones that are able to offer a full user experience without the need for a smartphone companion. The five uses outlined above are by no means the only uses that smartwatches have today.

About the author: Margot is a freelance writer who writes on fine wine, lifestyle, luxury and technology.

Victorinox Swiss Army INOX Watch Review

Victorinox Swiss Army INOX Watch Review

The INOX is one of the most popular timepieces that has ever come from Victorinox, and since its release fans and watch enthusiasts from all around have been clamoring for an automatic version of the watch.

The brand obviously listened as the Victorinox INOX Mechanical was unveiled in 2018, which is basically a version of the original INOX with an automatic movement instead of a quartz one. It features a deep blue dial, a unique strap, and quality Swiss watchmaking.

It’s large, durable, and highly functional. In this Victorinox INOX Mechanical review, we take a deep dive into the features and details of this watch. Read on to find out more.

The Exterior

In this section, we take a look at the watch’s design, dimensions, and overall look.

The first thing I noticed when I looked at the watch was the dial. The deep blue tone of the dial serves as a great base tone for the watch and also contrasts the silver-toned case and brown strap very well. The dial also has a nice texture on it that is a nice little detail that makes reading time a bit easier.

The case is silver-toned stainless steel and measures 43mm. This is definitely a large men’s watch, but it does a great job of giving off a tough and masculine feel and look. The case also has unique edges that give it some more character and blends very well with the large crown.

The case is pretty thick, measuring in at 13.5mm, but that’s just about expected from a watch of this size. Another nice detail on the watch is the exhibition case back which shows off the movement (but more on that later).

What brings the entire design together though is the strap. It has a nice brown color and an interesting texture that comes from the material used in making it.

See, instead of using common strap materials like leather or stainless steel, Victorinox chose to put a wooden strap that gives it a very retro and down-to-earth look. However, if you want a more traditional strap, that option is also available with different versions of the INOX Mechanical.

Related: Best affordable Swiss-made watches that are under $500

The Movement

Here we take a close look at the movement that’s making this watch tick.

As mentioned earlier, this watch has an exhibition case back, so the movement is very visible. That being said, there isn’t much to show off with the movement.

What keeps this watch ticking is the ETA 2824, which is just about expected from an automatic watch in this price range.

It’s a movement that’s been around for a while and has been used by many other watches around the world, so rest assured that it will keep time well. It’s the standard base Swiss-Automatic movement which is about as good as it gets in this price range.

Complications

The Victorinox INOX Mechanical has a couple of extra features that add to the watch’s functionality, and we take a look at them here.

The most obvious extra feature of this watch is probably the date window that’s placed between the four and five o’clock marker, but there are a couple more things the watch has to offer.

For one, it has a 200m of water resistance, which can easily handle a swim and even a dive, just don’t submerge it for too long.

It also has full lume. However, as is the case with a lot of Victorinox watches, the lume could have been applied better. I have to say, though, the lume was done a bit better on this watch, but it still leaves a bit to be desired.

Performance

In this section, we take a look at how well the watch works when being used.

When it comes to performance, this watch definitely brings it. For starters, the well-made movement makes sure the watch keeps ticking.

But it’s important to note that automatic movements lose a bit of time here and there, so don’t be surprised if you have to adjust the clock every now and then.

On the wrist, the watch takes a bit of getting used to it. That’s because the edges on the case can be felt on the wrist. This can be slightly annoying, but you get used to it after a couple of hours.
However, due to the design and tough materials used, this is a durable watch that will easily survive the bumps and scratches it may encounter when worn throughout the day.

Pros & Cons

Pros:
-Easy to read the time
-Durable
-Casual retro design
-High-quality movement
-Can be worn with both casual and formal outfits

Cons:
-Wearing it can be uncomfortable at first
-Lume could have been applied better

Conclusion

This watch is just about everything you’d expect from Victorinox, one of the most popular mid-range luxury brands on the market today. It’s a stylish, classy, and functional watch that can be used for a variety of occasions.

While the case takes a bit of getting used to and the lume could have been done better, the great design and well-engineered movement make up for it easily.

So if you’re on the hunt for a large watch that you can use every day without worrying about manual rewinding or battery changes, then this model might be worth checking out.

If you want to check out more awesome watches that can make you stand out from the crowd, then you can visit WickedCoolWatches.com for more great reviews and watch collections.

The watches every collector should have in their collection : By Matthew Cule, Founder of CuleM Watches

Let’s face it, there are just so many great watches on the market today! But which are the top watches every collector should have in their collection?

Inevitably, it will depend on why you are collecting, your lifestyle and how you intend to wear and use your watches. For me personally, for example, I would want to have a few dress watches preferably with a date, GMT and world timer functionality, plus a couple of sports-diving watches.

All the watches I have chosen below are Swiss made, automatic watches. This was not intentional – it’s just they do some fabulous watches. That said, there are some great Japanese and German made brands on the market too.

Interestingly only two of the watches below have open casebacks. I do love exhibition casebacks where I can see the movement powering the watch.

So, here is my list of the top six watches every collector should have in their Swiss made watch collection:

Rolex
Submariner date
£7,150

Every collection needs to have a Rolex – for a moment in time or a lifetime – just to know what the phenomenon is all about. Rolex watches are amazing even if they seem to be more of a trophy timepiece these days. 30 years ago, when I was a boy, this was my favourite watch and I did not know anything about Rolex (unlike today when we all know the brand).

The 40mm Rolex Submariner date with Oystersteel bracelet

The 40mm Rolex Submariner date with Oystersteel bracelet is by far my favourite and is a highly functional diving watch to 300 metres. It is also the original watch of James Bond with a black dial and outer rotating bezel. If you aspire to have a Rolex for the right reasons and not just hype, look no further and you will look as dapper as 007.

Little details that I love – the Rolex crown above the logo on the dial and visible on the side of the crown.

https://www.rolex.com/watches/submariner/m116610ln-0001.html

CuleM
Portal GMT
€1,499 euros

The perfect 21st century Swiss-made travel watch with date and dual time functionality. For example, CuleM’s Portal GMT comes in five variations in a 40mm stainless steel or polished black PVD.

CuleM Portal GMT swiss watch

The blue, black or silver-grey sunray dial showcases a unique and contemporary world map in three dimensions. On the back of the watch, an open caseback exhibits the self-winding movement and an engraving of 24 destinations displaying the correct world time zones – so you’ll always know what time it is, wherever you are.

CuleM Portal GMT swiss watch

Every watch comes with two elegant Italian leather straps, or a stainless steel mesh bracelet and one leather strap – all with quick change pins. If you are looking for a special watch to start your watch collecting journey, a CuleM watch is a good place to begin.

CuleM Portal GMT swiss watch

Little details that I love – the red tip of the Welsh dragon’s tail on the 24hour GMT hand.

https://www.culemwatches.com/the-portal-blue

Doxa
Sub 300T
€1,890 euros

There is a retro and industrial look to this cool tool watch with six different colour dials on a stainless steel bead of rice bracelet – this is the ultimate diving watch. Doxa has been in the Swiss watchmaking business for a long time but are now making a bigger splash than ever before.

Doxa Sub 300T

The bold orange coloured dial with date is a classic and the new colours look great, but I would still opt for the orange. Its utilitarian appearance is strong and makes me want to go on an adventure (as I don’t dive). The Sub 300T has a 42.5mm case and is waterproof to an incredible depth of 1,200 metres. Already you can see the collection building with just two distinct and awesome watches.

Little detail that I love – the fish symbol on the crown.

https://doxawatches.com/products/sub-300-t

Louis Vuitton
Escale Time Zone 39
£5,500

This is a bit of a wild card. There is so much going on in this world timer watch with its bright colours and place names, abbreviated like airports around the world to three letters, showing the time simultaneously in 24 destinations. Louis Vuitton is synonymous with fine luggage and high-end fashion, but they also make great looking watches that stand the rigor of time.

This watch has a round 39mm stainless case and comes with a grey alligator strap. Being Welsh and Australian, my only criticism is that the world time is classical and therefore wrong in Sydney. If you want a bold looking watch for your collection, look no further than this statement piece.

Little details that I love – the brightly coloured areas on the dial are reminiscent of maritime flags.

https://uk.louisvuitton.com/eng-gb/products/escale-time-zone-39-010461

Cartier
Santos De Cartier
£6,100 large

Like anything Cartier, this timepiece is more like an exquisite piece of jewellery than a watch. The crisp white dial with date is housed in a 39mm square shaped stainless case with exposed screw designs that continue onto the stunning metal bracelet.

Cartier watch

The bracelet is interchangeable and comes with a second calfskin strap. The purpose of the leather strap is to give a more casual look to this classic watch. And casual it is not, in my opinion. This is an elegant watch that is simply dressed up all the time.

Little details that I love – the three blue steel, sword-shaped hands.

https://www.cartier.co.uk/en-gb/collections/watches/mens-watches/santos-de-cartier/santos-de-cartier/wssa0009-santos-de-cartier-watch.html

Patek Philippe
World Time 5230G-014
£37,160

At the top and most refined end of watchmaking, there is no watch more perfect (almost anyway) and horologically fascinating than the Patek World Time 5230G with a grey hand guilloched dial in the centre, surrounded by the time in 24 destinations around the world displayed simultaneously. Louis Cottier invented this fine mechanism in the 1930s, which was an incredible achievement in watchmaking, eliminating the need to calculate time differences.

Patek World Time 5230G with a grey hand guilloched dial

However, times have changed, and as I mentioned earlier, the time in Sydney is wrong. This is not the fault of Cottier and I am sure he would like to have this corrected on the dial showing Sydney at GMT+11. This watch has a 38mm 18ct white gold case and comes with a black alligator strap. On the back of the watch, the fine 240HU is perfectly displayed and finished beautifully. This is a superb watch and you may also want to consider an earlier model like the stunning 5130P on the secondary market.

Patek World Time 5230G with a grey hand guilloched dial

Little details that I love – the grey guilloche dial in the centre on 5230G-014, yet I prefer the blue sunburst guilloche dial on the 5130P.

https://www.patek.com/en/collection/complications/5230G-014

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matthew Cule
Matthew Cule

CuleM Watches is an independent watchmaker founded by watch collector and traveller Matthew Cule. CuleM ‘s World GMT collection of Swiss made dual time automatic watches celebrates the beauty of our amazing world and are designed for people who love to travel and collectors of exquisite timepieces.

CuleM believes there is no experience more meaningful and amazing than travel – and no object more beautiful and meaningful than a watch, so each watch is a time capsule of memories of the places you have been and an inspiration for the destinations you wish to discover. Available from Goldsmiths and luxury retailers.

Contact details

Web: www.CuleMwatches.com
Instagram: @CuleMwatches
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/culemwatchesgmt/
Twitter: @CuleMwatches
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/CuleMwatches/

What the luxury watch industry needs to do to survive – and the opportunities this presents for both heritage brands and newcomers : By Matthew Cule, Founder of CuleM Watches

Ever since the 1800s, the Swiss watch industry has dominated, and today Swiss watches are synonymous with luxury and prestige. But can the Swiss watchmaking industry survive?

Artificial intelligence (AI) can help the luxury watch industry remain relevant.

The power of artificial intelligence (AI) to drive intelligent marketing has begun to evolve the watch industry as we know it. Emotional Analytics (EMO), a start-up based in Singapore for instance, uses artificial intelligence to group data from billions of social content updates into topics of interest by mapping out the emotional engagement with each topic.

This insight can help ensure data-driven growth for industry players. For example, EMO recently studied new watch brands with a price point below $500. This revealed some very interesting insights that watch brands can capitalise on to ensure they are creating watches that people really want. For example; people have a strong preference for Swiss automatic watches, like diving, pilot, and dress watches; they prefer 42mm watches or small 38mm watches and have a neutral opinion about 40mm watches; nato and rubber straps are the most popular; and the most popular colours are blue and black. This kind of insight can help reduce the risks when launching a new watch, and enables a brand to combine innovation with design aspects that consumers want.

Baselworld has long been the most important event of the industry’s calendar, and while I enjoyed its palpable and passionate energy in March, many independent watch brands are choosing to forego the show altogether in favour of investing in contemporary online marketing channels. Exhibitions need to embrace the future and new technology if they are to remain relevant and attract the visitors that will make the cost of exhibiting worthwhile. Baselworld unfortunately is not the only industry player which can offer behind-the-scenes access to new watch innovations and releases. Social media influencers, for instance, can target millions of people in a way that can be tracked and analyzed for impressions, engagement, and efficiency. Therefore, Baselworld must now reconcile its iconic existence connecting passionate collectors and watchmakers with novel forms of marketing and technology.

For instance, Baselworld might consider live streaming more of its sessions, or enabling exhibiting watch brands to host sponsored webinars for global audiences. More and more conferences are selling to an online audience as well as the offline visitors. Issues of time, the impact of travel on the environment, and the cost of visiting are all eroding visitor numbers, but an event can still be a huge success if it embraces the online world; opening up to virtual visitors from across the globe. Leveraging AI and new innovations in communications technology, Baselworld can ensure its offline event generates a wealth of digital data. In so doing, Baselworld may be able to offer independent brands actionable insights from one of the most valuable microcosms of the watch industry.

Technology has transformed what collectors want from a watch, or has it?

The release of the Apple watch, and the many other designs that have followed suit, has revolutionized watchmaking for the first time in centuries. With ever-increasing demands on our schedules, millions of consumers are investing in the convenience of having a mini-computer strapped to their wrist. Why would you wear a watch that can only tell the time when a smartwatch can answer your calls, text your friends and track your fitness goals?

And yet for traditional and new watch collecting aficionados, a smart watch is the equivalent of a factory van to an exotic car collector – it misses the point entirely. Even watches that integrate traditional craftsmanship with the functionality of digital technology will fail to capture the attention of true collectors. The love affair with Swiss-made mechanical watches is one that can be passed on from generation to generation, with quality that will last a lifetime.

And thus, classical watchmakers have an opportunity to capitalize on and appeal to an emerging market of watch collectors: a generation that grew up with technology and rejects its omnipresence. As the popularity of mindfulness activities such as yoga and meditation peak, so too do the low-tech, slow tech, neo-luddite and tech-free movements. A growing swathe of people reject wearables that ‘ping’ us away from the present moment. Time is a treasure, and while a watch can keep time, it shouldn’t control it.

Although collectors may stick to Swiss-made classical models, consumers have come to expect a curated, technology-driven discovery and buying experience. For example, a magazine advert can now include augmented reality (AR) links, which mean if you put your phone over a photo, an immersive video about the watch can begin to play. At CuleM, we have developed an app called Try OnCuleM, so that users can try on all the watches in our first World GMT Collection from their desk or dining room table. By utilising new technologies watchmakers can reach new, wider audiences, and can help consumers ‘try on’ a watch – even if they are nowhere near a retail outlet. This can lead to increased sales and help a traditional brand reach a tech-savvy audience.

Luxury watch brands committed to innovation will drive future demand.

Season after season, classical watchmakers release a new edition of a vintage watch – “best-selling vintage watches reimagined.” However, mature brands can no longer afford to play it safe as independent watchmakers like Akrivia and Singer Reimagined challenge the likes of Rolex and Omega.

While the Swiss watchmaking industry is full of staggeringly creative and talented people, they often work for organisations driven by the bottom line and relying on their reputation and heritage – not their innovation. I believe that an overreliance on profits translates into lost creativity and a tired routine of re-releasing best-selling models.

Unlike the technology industry, where Google for example encourages its employees to focus 20% of their time on side projects, traditional Swiss watch brands lack novel curiosity and innovation. For watchmaking talent, even a few hours a week focused on creativity and lateral thinking can lead to the uncovering of new and innovative designs that can transform a brand, and its earnings.

Watch brands that seize the opportunity to make the ideas of the past relevant in the 21st century are more likely to cement their place in the industry and its future. For instance, I worked with veteran designer Damien Ummel to challenge and evolve the design standards of a standard GMT travel watch. CuleM’s inaugural GMT World Timers solve the historical inaccuracy of travel watches for the first time, and display the correct time in 24 time zones – an essential feature for the globetrotters of our generation. By looking to the future, rather than to the past, the watch industry has an opportunity both to remain relevant and to reach new consumers. By constantly looking backwards at design, it will fail to achieve either.

Luxury watch collecting is now an investment within reach.

Luxury watches combine high-end Swiss craftsmanship and timeless design into a desirable object that will stay with collectors for decades to come.

These timepieces have an implied cost, however. Although price points for Swiss-made automatic watches can exceed 100,000 euros, watch collecting is no longer an investment beyond reach. Advancements in manufacturing and factory-direct retail business models have opened up luxury watch collecting to new markets.

These business model innovations are not about cutting costs or quality – it’s about finding new, innovative ways to sell direct to the customer, eliminating traditional retail outlets with large mark-ups, and delivering the savings to the customer.

For example, at Culem we looked at how to cut out the retailer and sell direct from the factory and thus launched on Kickstarter. We did this because we wanted to ensure that everyone, not just those with six-figure salaries, had access to the ultimate Swiss-made luxury GMT World Timer, and so we could build a global community of watch collectors and world travelers.

By looking at innovative ways to connect with customers, and reduce costs without compromising on design and quality, there is an opportunity for start-up brands to create another tier in the watch collector market, attracting new buyers with a slightly lower price-point.

Ultra-high-end watches, like Vacheron Constantin or Laurent Ferrier, will always have their place, but micro-brands in the 2,000 to 5,000 euro retail price point will be fierce competitors as consumers seek value, relevance, and a contrast to the status quo.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matthew Cule is a passionate collector of watches and founder of CuleM Watches, an independent luxury travel watch brand. Culem’s World GMT collection of Swiss made dual time ,automatic watches are designed for people who love to travel. Culem believes there is nothing more meaningful and amazing than travel – and no object more special than a watch, so each watch is a masterpiece, a work of art and the perfect travel companion.

Web: www.culemwatches.com
Instagram: @culemwatches
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Culem-Watches-509036822900736/
Twitter: @culemwatches
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/culemwatches/
Kickstarter: http://30e.fnd.to/culemwatches

Pompeak Watches – Far from just a pretty face

Hi everyone, my name is Noah and my business partner, and brother, is Dave. Below is a brief overview of our product, vision and campaign.

Inspiration behind the project

Going back to late 2017, I was on the market for a new watch and discovered that there were basically two options:-

• Pay an extortionate amount of money for a quality watch that I would be too scared to wear everyday.
• Choose a low quality, cleverly marketed watch that would look worn and cheap within a few months of purchase.

Having decided that I was uncomfortable committing to either option, I decided to try and create a quality watch that didn’t cost the earth.

Partnering with my brother, who has six years engineering and design experience, and with my background in finance, we set out to create a true, premium quality, stylish watch that could be worn all day, every day.

After more than a year of designs, prototypes and tweaks, it’s fair to say we have succeeded – our flagship product is elegant, functional and stylish with built in water-resistance, scratch-resistance and shock-resistance.

Far from just a pretty face.



Quality to the Core

Pompeak’s mission is to combine quality and affordability, all cased within a watch that you would be proud to wear all day, every day. As individuals, we wanted a watch that was durable enough to survive a few knocks but smart enough to turn a few heads.

After researching various watch designs, we discovered that less equals more and we were quickly drawn to the elegance of minimalism drawing on this heavily during the product design stage. To be able to produce a life-proof watch, we needed an experienced manufacturer that could meet our high standards. Having contacted, and rejected, a number of producers, we found there was only one that was could meet our specs.

Using their 20+ years’ experience, we further tweaked our design and tested multiple prototypes until we were satisfied our product was top quality.


Not Just a Watch

Sapphire crystal glass – One of the worries of owning a watch is keeping it free from damage.We’ve used one of the toughest glasses available, more that capable of withstanding drops, knocks, scraps and even the jaws of an over friendly pooch (true story), it still looks new.

Japanese chronograph movement – We down selected our chosen quartz movement with longevity and accuracy in mind. Coupled with a functional chronograph, for every-day usability.

5 ATM water resistant – Being able to survive submerged to depths of 50 metres, this will be able to handle any situation you find yourself in. When we said every day, everywhere, we meant it.

316L Stainless Steel – Surgical grade, corrosion resistant stainless steel to ensure your timepiece stays ‘day 1’ fresh.

Interchangeable Leather Straps – We know styles change, but your watch shouldn’t have to. All our leather straps have a hidden quick release design for an instant switch up.

Flawless Style – This hasn’t happened over night. Through various prototypes and iterations we have made sure we are proud of what we present. It wasn’t always easy, but boy was it worth it.



Why Kickstarter?

As mentioned previously, Pompeak was created out of frustration with the high mark up, low quality watch industry. One of the methods to keep prices low is to sell our product directly to the consumer. After researching different methods of direct to consumer selling, it quickly became apparent that Kickstarter stood out as the god-father of crowd-funding websites.

By using Kickstarter as a crowd-funding platform, we have managed to cut out a wide range of middle men: distributers, wholesalers, retail stores etc. meaning you get exactly what you pay for.

We need a goal of £10,000 to launch our brand and business and we are confident that the Kickstarter community will see, like and back our project.

Its all-or-nothing based approach means that if we don’t reach our goal of £10,000, no money comes out of your bank.



The Collection

Having been working on this for over 18 months, we are very proud to introduce our debut collection.

You can choose to mix and match any watch face, case and strap (metallic or otherwise). Once we have reached our goal we will be in contact to gather specific details. Check out our campaign for more details on bit.ly/2NMOTsH



Over to you

Below is the link to our project, but bear in mind there are limited spaces per discount level, meaning the quicker you are to back our project, the bigger discount you’ll get!

Free shipping within the UK and with worldwide shipping, means this is the cheapest our watches will ever be.

Thank you for taking the time to read about our project, and a special thank you to each and every one of you that backs us!

Head to our socials @pmkpeakwatches or shoot any questions over to contact@pompeak.com we’ll be responding ASAP over the course of this campaign!

Our Campaign : bit.ly/2NMOTsH

Thanks again.
Noah
Co-Founder
pompeak

 

Vintage Submariner

Rolex is the most recognized luxury watch brand in the world, boasting an impressive collection of dress and sports references to suit any lifestyle or profession. One of the most iconic timepieces in the brand’s catalog is the Submariner diver’s watch, which debuted at Basel World 1954. At the time of its release, the Submariner offered a greater depth resistance than any other watch in the Rolex catalog and also utilized a rotatable timing bezel and a dial topped with a luminous display.

Over the course of the next 60+ years, the Submariner would evolve into an impressive collection of dive watches, offering a large selection of features sets that include different metal finishes and dial and bezel color options. While there are several newer model options available on the market, no other variation of the Submariner is more fascinating or exciting to collect than the vintage Submariner.

Tips for Purchasing a Vintage Submariner

Fake Rolexes are very prevalent in the secondary market. Some are pretty obvious, while others are so sophisticated that even the most experienced Rolex connoisseur can’t spot them. Needless to say, purchasing a fake vintage Rolex is a serious concern for every collector.

Here are a few factors to consider before making any vintage watch purchase:-

– First, do your research. Make sure you are familiar with the fine details that characterize the particular watch that you are interested in buying, such as the font on the dial or the shape of the hands. If those features aren’t present, then you are likely dealing with a counterfeit watch.

– Are all of the original parts included? Finding an all-original vintage Rolex can be tough, as it’s pretty standard practice during service to replace any worn or damaged parts with new components. A Submariner with all original parts will likely command a higher price on the secondary market.

– Purchase through a reputable seller. This point circles back to doing your research before making your purchase. If you choose a seller that is in good standing among the watch community then the chances that the Rolex you are buying is authentic is guaranteed. Bob’s Watches provides vintage Submariners for even the most skeptical collectors.

– Check the engravings on the watch. This information can tell you a lot about the individual watch, such as its production year and reference number and can help verify its authenticity.

– If the watch comes with papers, make sure that they are authentic. It isn’t entirely unheard of for papers to be fake.

Notable references

There are over a dozen vintage references in the Submariner line, all varying in price and rarity. Below are just a few of the most well-known references.

Ref. 1680 – This reference was the first Submariner to receive a date display on the dial as well as a Cyclops lens on the crystal. Also referred to as the “Red Submariner”, the logo is printed in an eye-catching red font. This particular reference is highly sought-after among avid collectors. Price: $13,995 and up, depending on rarity and condition.

Ref. 6538– The Submariner has long been associated with the James Bond franchise, making the rare ref. 6538 that appeared on Sean Connery’s wrist in Dr. No particularly sought-after by collectors. This reference was also one of the first of the big crown Submariners and was the first reference to offer an increased depth rating of up to 200 meters. Price: $90,000+

Ref. 16800– Collectors often seek transitional models for the interesting history that often accompanies them. The ref. 16800 is no different, introducing the line to the sapphire crystal, the calibre 3035 perpetual movement, and an increased depth rating of up to 300 meters. As a newer vintage timepiece, the ref. 16800 boasts an attractive price and is ideal for entry-level collectors. Price: $6,500

Vintage Submariner Value

Most vintage Rolexes stand to appreciate over time, simply based on the fact that they are discontinued,and there will likely always be a buyer on the market willing to purchase your timepiece, should you choose to sell it. While most watches won’t appreciate drastically right away, the odds that they will rise in value while being a treasured addition to your watch box many years from now are pretty high. Market research has shown that the Submariner value is climbing swiftly, far exceeding what would be expected based solely on inflation, making them a smart investment over a long period of time.

Whether you seek a vintage Submariner as an investment piece, for the incredible history that accompanies the entire line, or as an eye-catching statement piece, most collectors can agree that every watch collection needs at least one.

100 Things You Didn’t Know About Luxury Watches

For centuries, luxury watches have enticed us with their masterly craftsmanship and undeniably hefty price tag. And yet many of us wouldn’t know their historical origins or the high level of technical expertise that producing every luxury timepiece requires. You can, however, head over to ROX Diamonds & Thrills to read an exhaustive list of 100 things to know about luxury watches – we’ve listed some of our favourites below.

The first ‘modern’ wristwatch was made for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary in 1868 by Patek Philippe & Co. and thought to have been derived from the pocket watch, which first became popular in the 16th Century.

It’s from these origins that we have the Swiss watch as it’s known today. Although the underlying mechanical principles have barely changed in 200 years, we have seen significant changes in the technology behind luxury timepieces.

A pioneer of modern timepiece innovation is Hublot, especially when it comes to the materials used. Ranging from titanium to carbon fibre, Hublot isn’t afraid to push the boundaries and experiment with its watches.

Feeling inspired to buy your very own luxury watch after reading these fascinating facts? You might want to check out ROX’s watch buying guide which helps filter through the options so you can find your perfect timepiece.

Watch In Focus – IWC Pilot’s Watches

It’s easy to forget that heavier than air flight has only been possible for just over a century — not that much less than the advent of the motorised car — and that technology has improved a vast amount since. In the early years of aviation, pilots did not have the convenience of modern navigational technology, and so relied on charts, mathematics and mechanical instruments.

IWC Pilots' Watch Movement

IWC’s first pilots’ watch, the mark IX, was developed in 1936 in order to give pilots a more immediate reference than the pocket watches they were carrying at the time. Its focus was legibility, and the large luminescent markers applied to a black dial made it practical and usable, even in low light conditions, setting the bar for future pilots’ watch designs. The addition of a rotating bezel with a luminous triangle gave pilots a usable reference to track time at a glance.

The Second World War launched the pilots’ watch to the next level, and the vast amount needed by the German Luftwaffe required five brands to make the one common design. The watch was modelled around a pocket watch movement and as such was a whopping 55mm, the largest watch IWC have ever made. It had a central seconds hand and came in two styles that mimicked cockpit dials: one with the hours printed around the dial, and the other with the minutes printed around the dial and the hours printed on a smaller circle within.

IWC Big Pilots IW502618

These watches were designed to be simple, reliable, anti-magnetic, easy to read and tough, and had features like oversized crowns for use while wearing pilots’ gloves. The design evolved subtly into the IWC Mark XI, a smaller but similar watch with a much-copied stub-ended minute hand. The addition of a chronograph complication was included in the 1988 Pilots’ Chronograph, and then the Mark XI was surpassed by the Mark XII in 1994. This steadily evolved into the Mark XVI and Mark XVII, elegant pieces that embody everything that made the original Mark IV special.

IWC Pilot's Watches IW371702

IWC recognised that there were people who liked the style of the pilots’ watch but found it to be too plain, so the Spitfire range was created. The basic design remained the same, but the introduction of applied numerals, and layered and turned silver dials gave the watches more eye-catching appeal and made them a dressier alternative to the black dialed Mark XVI.

As a nod to the original, IWC launched the Pilot 1936 Handwound, a re-edition of the Mark IX. The closest IWC have come to a re-issue of the Second World War pilots’ watch is the Big Pilot, a seven day power-reserve 46.2mm watch — not quite the full 55mm, but big enough to make a statement on the wrist.

With so much history surrounding the pilots’ watch it’s easy to see why IWC continues its tradition, but it’s also good that this tradition has evolved to provide a more modern and exciting range within the Spitfire models. For anyone looking for an out-and-out classic, an IWC pilots’ watch is hard to beat.

KEY FACTS

  • IWC was one of five companies to manufacture pilot’s watches for the German armed forces during World War Two.
  • The case of the Top Gun Double Chronograph pilot’s watch is made from a single piece of zirconium oxide and is almost as hard as diamond.
  • The original pilot’s watches were as large as 55mm and were made using pocket watch movements.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

TIMELESS – THE DEEP BLUE : History of Diving Watches

So dangerous is the quest to explore the depths that more is known about the surface of Mars than of the blue liquid that covers two-thirds of our planet’ surface.

Not that danger has ever stopped mankind from exploring anything; records show that people have been deep-sea diving since ancient Roman times, often for combat, either by holding their breath or using long reeds as snorkels. The Greek philosopher Aristotle even described the first known diving bell as ‘a container not filled with water but air, which consistently assists the submerged man.’

The diving bell continued its development throughout the centuries, always following the same basic principle of trapping air inside an upturned container. By 1619, Sir Edmund Halley had adapted the concept further to include a tube from the diving bell that fed a sealed helmet, allowing the diver wearing it to freely walk the ocean bed without having to return for a fresh breath of air. The air supply in the main bell could even be replenished from barrels that were lowered down from the surface.

A century later and the diving bell had been replaced by longer hoses that directly fed a sealed diving suit, with bellows extracting the old air and pumping in new. By far the biggest leap in diving technology came in 1808 when French Naval mechanic Sieur Touboulic patented a self-contained oxygen tank that allowed the diver to carry his own supply of air with him, and a working design appeared twelve years later. Deeper diving began to expose the problem of decompression sickness, or ‘the bends’, a condition brought on by dissolved gases entering the body and becoming trapped inside during rapid decompression.

Up to this point, the diving suit had been large, heavy and cumbersome, but the early nineteenth century paved the way for more compact diving apparatus. Air could now be compressed into compact cylinders, with carbon dioxide scrubbing chemicals used to allow air to be rebreathed. With World War One recently over and World War Two just around the corner, the military application of diving technology accelerated the progression of development, not only for the diving apparatus itself, but also for the accessories that were necessary to dive safely.

One such accessory was the diving watch, which offered the crucial measure of time. This was important for two reasons: to keep track of air usage and to time decompression stops when resurfacing. Although some watches with the capability of being submerged in shallow water without leaking already existed, it wasn’t until 1932 that Omega released the first properly waterproof diving watch, the Marine. Rated to a depth of 135 metres, the Marine incorporated a sliding outer case that sealed the inner case from water.

Panerai’s commission from the Italian Navy prompted the next investment in watertight watches. Manufacturing technology had become accurate enough to create a tight seal without the need of a secondary case, and so the radium-painted Radiomir came into service with military divers.

In 1942, Émile Gagnan met Jacques-Yves Cousteau to combine his recently invented miniature regulator with a portable gas cylinder. This revolutionary device significantly reduced the size of diving equipment; previously, a sealed helmet with a constant-feed air supply was used – which was of course bulky and awkward – but now only a mouthpiece was needed, the air feed regulated by the diver’s inhalation. Cousteau’s freely-available CG45 ‘Aqualung’ turned diving from a dangerous necessity into an enjoyable hobby almost overnight.

Even deeper diving called for the invention of the next diving watch feature, the rotating bezel. Beating the Rolex Submariner to the post by just a few months, Blancpain’s 1953 Fifty Fathoms incorporated a rotating bezel with minute markers that could be used as a countdown timer for air and decompression. The simple, yet incredibly intuitive idea found its way onto Jacques Cousteau’s wrist for the 1956 film ‘Le Monde du Silence’.

As commercial diving became more lucrative, the depths dived and the time spent underwater increased. Saturation diving so named because the body becomes saturated with inert gases exposed divers to increased pressures for longer periods of time, which in turn required longer periods of slow decompression to prevent decompression sickness. Military research and commercial interest required a watch that could withstand pressures far higher than the current diving watches were capable of, and so the development race began to create the saturation diver’s watch of choice

The problems encountered by watch manufacturers were twofold – the first being the seals of the watch leaking under high pressure, and the second being the structural integrity of the components during decompression. As divers desaturated after a long dive, they found that the gases that had entered the watch under pressure could not find their way out again, and the result popped the crystals off.

Alongside commercial diving company COMEX, Rolex developed a special gas escape valve for the Submariner 5513 that allowed the saturated gases to be released during decompression. At the same time, a new, sturdier design known as the as the ‘Sea-Dweller’ was being tested at the US Navy SEALAB II project, which then also inherited the gas escape valve trialled by COMEX. The finished Rolex Sea-Dweller was launched in 1967 and was capable of reaching depths of up to 610 metres.

Meanwhile, Omega investigated a solution that employed brute force over Rolex precision with the Seamaster Plongeur Professionnel or ‘PloProf’, a vast slab of watch with a six-hundred metre water resistance. Unfortunately the Omega PloProf was released too late, three years after the introduction of the Sea-Dweller, by which point the diving companies insisted on their watches having a gas escape valve.

As the eighties came and went, diving watches became diving computers, and so the humble mechanical watch stepped down from its commercial top spot. That isn’t to say that the diving watch is now defunct – far from it. In fact the diving watch is more popular now than it ever has been before.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

Watch in Focus – Omega Seamaster

The Seamaster name covers a whole host of sporty, dressy, quirky and techy watches from over nearly three quarters of a century. Although many of these watches don’t look anything alike, they are all developments of the same thing — a water resistant watch.

It started in 1932, when Omega patented an innovative design for a diving watch that used a sliding case within a case. The theory was sound but the design was too complicated. It was taken back to the drawing board, and in 1947 — a decade and a half later —the first Omega Seamaster watches were launched. Rolex may have pipped Omega to the post for the first water resistant watch, but the Seamaster beat the Submariner to the shops by a clear six years.

The first Seamaster followed a simplistic design that was consistent with the rest of Omega’s range, and the slim and delicate case proved that water-resistance didn’t require the watch to be heavy and bulky. This dress style continued through to the 1960s, when the Seamaster had a dramatic makeover. The range split into two: one part dressy, and the other sporty.

Rolexs Submariner hadproven that chunky sports watches were indeed popular, and so the Seamaster De
Ville continued the original slim-cased, formal dress look, and the Seamaster 300 (300 referring to the depth rating in metres) took the fight to the Submariner. The 300s black dial had wide markers and the hands were chunky. The case too was of much more solid form than the previous Seamaster, and came with the addition of a rotating timing bezel. A second, cheaper model was released four years later, the Seamaster 120, and a chronograph model completed the range in 1970, the first watch to incorporate an internal rotating bezel.

In a battle with Rolex to create a watch with the highest depth rating, Omega developed the Seamaster Plongeur Professionnel (PloProf) 600. Where the Sea-Dweller used a helium escape valve to control internal pressure, Omega took the brute force approach by building a case strong enough to do without one. This move saw the Rolex win the COMEX contract.

Not to be deterred, Omega dabbled with quartz Seamasters during the seventies quartz revolution, before producing the Seamaster Professional 300 in 1993. In 2005, the Planet Ocean joined it. It took inspiration from the original sixties Seamaster 300, and an updated reissue of the PloProf joined it in 2010, this time water resistant to 1200 metres (and fitted with a helium escape valve).

The Seamaster has had a strange and wandering existence, but is all the more interesting for it; there are many models not mentioned here that never really caught on, that each have their own story and now make interesting and collectible pieces. One thing is certain though: you can’t go wrong with a Seamaster.

KEY FACTS

  • The strange creature often seen on the back of Omega Seamaster cases is a Hippocampus, a mythical Greek creature that is half horse, half fish. Poseidon, the Greek sea-god, used Hippocampi to draw his chariot through the ocean waves
  • Both Comex and Jacques-Yves Cousteau were involved in the development of the ‘Plongeur Professionnel,’ Omega’s entry into the deep sea diving arena
  • The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean is a modern interpretation of the 1957 Seamaster 300, Omega’s first sports diver

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

Watch In Focus – IWC Portuguese

The Portuguese have always been known for their sea fairing ability and expert knowledge of the ocean. In the late 1930s, two Portuguese businessmen — who frequently sailed around the world — requested a special kind of watch be made for them by IWC. Wrist watches of the time were small and not particularly accurate, so what the two men asked for was a marine chronometer-grade clock they could wear on their wrists.

Using the Calibre 74, a hunter pocket watch movement that satisfied the men’s accuracy requirements, IWC built a watch in 1939 called the Portuguese. The 42mm case required to fit the movement was enormous by the standards of the period, and it had a clear, bold dial with large applied numbers and a sub-dial at six o’clock for the seconds. The cream-coloured face was chosen to contrast against the numbers, giving the watch immediate clarity regardless of the conditions.

It wasn’t until 1967 that any big changes occurred in the Portuguese line up. The watch had become popular for its size and appearance, but its sailing heritage was all but forgotten. To rectify this, IWC released a more sport-orientated version to reinvigorate the original ethos of the model. Called the ‘Yacht Club’, it looked more like a Rolex Datejust than it did a Portuguese, but nonetheless it became very popular — one of the most popular IWC’s ever, in fact.

It was followed by the seventies Yacht Club II, a watch that — this time — had more in common with IWC’s own Ingenieur. The octagonal case and integrated bracelet could not have been any further removed from the original Portuguese, but this didn’t stop its popularity from soaring. Many Yacht Club IIs were sold in both automatic and quartz guises, riding the wave of a new era of luxury watches.

IWC Portuguese watches have not — Yacht Clubs excluded — changed much over the course of time, and the original charm and clarity that made them popular is still very much present. Complications such as chronographs, perpetual calendars and even tourbillons have been added to what is considered IWC’s flagship range, but the case shape and bold applied numerals remain. The hand wound IW5454 is the most faithful to the original with its seconds sub-dial at six o’clock, but the range has most definitely been improved with the addition of the chronograph and the seven day movement, whose twin sub-dials neatly balance out the dial.

To top the current range off, IWC recently released a new version of the Yacht Club, reviving the sportiness of the original once again. This time around, the Yacht Club is much more faithful to the Portuguese than was previously, with more focus on sporty design and rugged usability.

The Portuguese is a very elegant watch, particular so when viewed amongst the swathes of fussier watches that dominate the market. If you like your watches to be clean, clear and simple, there is little to touch an IWC Portuguese.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

Watch in Focus – Panerai Luminor

OfficinePanerai, started by Giovanni Panerai in 1860s Florence, was formed to create precision mechanical instruments specifically for diving. By the 1930s, under Giovanni’s grandson Guido Panerai, the company was producing a range that included compasses and depth gauges, all of which could be worn on the wrist. Panerai’s reputation forquality earned the company a contract with the Italian Navy to build water-resistant, highly legible watches for their military divers.

The Rolex-engined Radiomirs were the first evolution of the famous dive watch and featured the sandwich dial that gave off the distinctive bright glow. Instead of having applied numbers on the dial, which are often quite thin and therefore not as bright, the sandwich dial consisted of two layers.

The first was the black dial, visible through the crystal, with bold numbers and indices punched out of it. The second layer sat behind it and was covered with luminous paint, which gave a far superior glow because of its thickness. Originally being painted with super-radioactive radium (hence the ‘Radiomir’ nomenclature) also contributed to the legibility in low light.

When radium was outlawed, the luminescent substance was replaced with tritium, dubbed by Panerai as ‘Luminor’, and alongside developments in case design and technology, the Luminor watch was born. It featured the same sandwich dial, but a more robust case with thicker lugs, moving on from the soldered lugs and cushion cases that were mainly an evolution from pocket-watches.

Panerai also introduced applied numeral dials as well, but instead of the traditional method of painting the numerals straight onto the face, they were first carved out of the dial and filled in, providing thicker, brighter lume. The most important development, however, was the crown device. It served to protect the crown from knocks, and also to lock it down and seal it from water ingress, and has since become a trademark icon instantly recognisable as Panerai.

As the war ended, so, gradually, did Panerai, and it wasn’t until 1993 that the company started to make watches again. Producing very limited numbers of the Luminor and the new chronograph, the Mare Nostrum, they were collector’s pieces, and stayed away from the mainstream market. 1997 saw the acquisition of Panerai by the Vendôme group, who maintained the slow production rate and limited numbers, but increased the marketing effort tenfold.

The Panerai following built up slowly to its current cult-like status, the original, instantly recognisable design and big, bold cases a fresh breath of air from the standard form. Variations of the base models sold in limited runs kept the brand and its interest alive, including the addition of a seconds hand on the Radiomir and Luminor (making it the Luminor Marina) series.

The introduction of the curved ‘1950s’ retro-looking case for the Panerai Luminor in 2002 is reminiscent of the original 1950s Rolex-powered Marina Militare, and has become more widespread throughout the range.

2007 was turning point for Panerai when it introduced its own high-quality in-house movements with eight-day power reserves, followed by slightly cheaper three-day power reserve movements in 2009. This offered customers high-end, completely in-house pieces as well as the cheaper base models with modified Unitas movements powering them.

Some people say the Panerai attraction is short-lived, but an ever increasing populous of fans stand testament to the longevity of the appeal. They aren’t watches for everyone, particularly the 47mm models, but there is no doubt that they are finely made, desirable timepieces with genuine history behind them.

KEY FACTS

  • It wasn’t until actor Sylvester Stallone bought a Luminor in 1995 and wore it in his movie ‘Daylight’ that Panerai took off as a brand.
  • The most complicated Luminor is the L’Astronomo PAM000365, featuring time, date including month, sunrise/sunset indicator, equation of time, power reserve, star disk and tourbillon. It costs a whopping $220,000.
  • As you can see from the text on the crown guard (top image), Panerai hold the trademark for its shape. They also have a patent for its operation too.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

Watch In Focus – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore

The Royal Oak Offshore has become something of a core product for Audemars Piguet, and it is difficult to imagine the brand without it — but there was a point at which it didn’t exist at all.

The company, today one of the top watch manufacturers in the world, can trace its heritage back to 1875 with the collaboration of Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet. Manufacturing and regulating movements in small workshop in Le Brassus was the first stepping stone to becoming one of the world’s most prestigious brands, a feat that can be partly accredited to the continuous family involvement with the company since its inception.

As with all businesses that can celebrate long-term success, Audemars Piguet’s start was a slow and steady one. Despite seven years of trade, it wasn’t until 1882 that the company name was even registered as a trademark, and a further seven years before they opened their own branch and sold watches direct to the public.

Part of the continuing increase in popularity and accomplishment was down to commitment to quality control.

This reputation spread to other established brands such as Tiffany and Co, Cartier and Bulgari, who, after Audemars and Piguet had died in the early 20th century, commissioned the company to make movements; even whole watches to be rebranded and sold as their own.

Producing extravagant movements had become somewhat of a forte for Audemars Piguet, and certainly helped to establish the brand’s credibility, but it wasn’t to last.

After the Great Depression in the 1930s brought the world to its knees, the watchmaker struggled through the next few decades, and were on the edge of folding. Enlisting the help of burgeoning watch designer Gerald Genta, Audemars Piguet released a watch that would amaze and bemuse the public in equal measure in 1972, as a final bid for recovery. That watch was the Royal Oak. Named after a 19th Century battleship and wearing strange features such as an octagonal bezel with visible octagonal bolt heads, and an angular case with a flat, integrated bracelet, the Royal Oak very nearly sounded the death knell for them.

Since the stainless-steel sports watch cost considerably more than even Audemars Piguet’s own top of the range gold watch, there was a lot of initial head-scratching, but slowly the idea of super-luxury sports watch took hold. The Royal Oak was instantly recognisable and distinguished the wearer as someone who was wealthy enough to afford the premium. From there, its popularity only grew.

In 1993, Emmanuel Gueit designed the Royal Oak Offshore, a beefier, modernised face-lift of the classic Royal Oak. This sporty model gave the company a chance to flourish with more extravagant colours, shapes and materials, from the carbon cased Alinghi Team, to the other-worldly Survivor. A strong link with motorsport — Formula 1 in particular — was formed, with famous drivers like Rubens Barrichello and Jarno Trulli coming on board.

Love them or hate them, the Offshore is here to stay, and coupled with its more restrained sibling the Royal Oak, suits practically every taste.

The forged carbon case (pictured right) is made by compressing seven micron thick carbon fibre strands at a whopping 300kg per square centimetre of pressure.

KEY FACTS
– The Royal Oak was a tree in which King Charles II of England hid from the Roundheads in during the 1651 Battle of Worcester. It then went on to become the name of eight British Royal Navy warships

-The Royal Oak Offshore movement was originally developed by Jaeger-LeCoultre and has evolved to become in-house movement.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

Watch In Focus – Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor

When Jacques Cousteau first invented the aqualung in 1942, it revolutionised diving. Bulky suits that had to be completely sealed were no longer necessary, continuous air feeds were a thing of the past and the Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) was born.

This revolution meant diving was no longer expensive, giving would-be divers a chance to fulfil their dreams. Diving as a hobby became extremely popular, and so the need for dive proof watches boomed. Although water-resistant watches were available, none could stand up to the increasing water pressure a diver would experience the deeper they went.

All the major manufacturers got on board the dive watch train, spending huge amounts of money developing cases that would cope with a diver’s requirements. As well as water resistance, divers needed timing bezels and good luminosity, and the cases needed to be able to resist the corrosive properties of salt water. For Jaeger-LeCoultre, their first step was not to develop their own case, but to invest in a company run by a little-known man called Ervin Piquerez.

Ervin Piquerez SA (EPSA) was developing a patented case that, rather than resisting the water pressure, used it to compress the case back and crowns, making the seals tighter and water-resistant to a greater depth. EPSA provided cases for many manufacturers, including IWC, Longines, Hamilton, Blancpain and of course, Jaeger-LeCoultre, until they went bankrupt in the mid-70s.

The compressor case was very distinctive—it usually featured two crowns, one of which operated the internal bezel. Because of the compressor technology, screw-down crowns were not necessary, so the winding and operation of the internal bezel were still possible when submerged.

Jaeger-LeCoultre’s 1959 E857 Memovox Deep Sea was the company’s first venture into diving watches and used the EPSA super-compressor case.

The E859 Polaris Memovox Diver followed the Deep Sea in 1963, after limited runs of diving watches with the names, Shark, Dolphin and Barracuda, and incorporated a triple-backed case to stop the alarm being muffled by the diver’s suit. A third crown at the traditional three o’clock was added for the alarm functionality.

Fast-forward to 2002 and, due to improvements in material technology, the compressor case was no longer required to provide credible water resistance. Jaeger-LeCoultre, however, decided to continue the compressor technology with their crowns. Because screw-down crowns are fiddly and the seals perish with time, a different method was engineered to allow both superior sealing and easy use. The trademark compressor crown features a twist-to-lock switch that has become synonymous with Jaeger-LeCoultre.

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor range expanded to include sports and diving watches, some with impressive complications. The Diving Pro Geographic not only featured a second time zone indicator and quick selection for twenty-four time zones, but also a mechanical depth gauge. Following the success of the diving collection, a recent collaboration with the US Navy Seals has produced some adjustments to the range to meet the force’s demanding requirements.

Jaeger-LeCoultre diving watches are unique and sturdy pieces of design, and are a perfect match for someone looking for a more left field choice for their collection, particularly if they want a watch suitable for diving.

 KEY FACTS

  • On June the 30th, 2005, Patrick Musimu dived to a depth of 209.6 metres without oxygen wearing his Master Compressor Diving.
  • At the Master Compressor Diving’s maximum rated depth of 1000 metres, it will be experiencing 890kg of pressure from the water above it.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

Watch In Focus – Breitling Emergency

From the very beginnings of the brand, there has always been a strong tie between Breitling and the aviation industry. Renowned for introducing revolutionary new ideas to assist aviators in their duties, Breitling has repeatedly justified its reputation for being the pilot’s choice.

The first innovation that Breitling added as a feature to one of their watches was the addition of the bezel calculator on the Chronomat in the early 1940s, and again on the Navitimer in the 1950s. The Navitimer became the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) recommended watch and is still a big seller today.

Another development exclusively for pilots was the co-pilot bracelet. Fitted as an optional extra to any of the professional range, it included an additional digital display that can show local time, UTC (Coordinated Universal Time), take-off time and landing time. It serves as a backup to the main watch and offers easy management of flight times.

Super-quartz was another revolutionary advancement that Breitling took on board.

The ability to display analogue time and also incorporate a digital display with features such as count-down timers and alternate time zones, as well as retaining an accuracy of around ten seconds per year is a perfect combination for pilots on active duty.

The most recent addition to the impressive collection of pilot’s tools can be found on board the Breitling Emergency.

As the name implies, this watch is specifically designed to provide pilots with a rescue aid in emergency situation, using a 121.5 Mhz transmitter to send a distress signal to the search and rescue services and guide them to the location of the watch. Coupled with the 121.5 Mhz emergency radio transmissions and emergency locator transmitters found on board most aircraft, this watch provides an additional and welcome backup for pilots who find themselves in an emergency situation.

The transmitter beacon is powerful enough to transmit a signal ninety miles for forty-eight hours, and had successfully saved several pilots since its release in 1995. Because of its professional nature, the Emergency is only supplied to civilians if they sign an agreement with Breitling to only deploy the beacon in an emergency. Breitling will, given the use was genuine, replace the transmitter free of charge, but improper use will result in a hefty fine.

Since 2009, the 121.5 MHz signal is no longer received by any satellite system, so Breitling updated the Emergency to include the digital distress frequency of 406.040 MHz. The new Emergency also includes a charger to make sure the beacon remains at full operational capacity.

Breitling’s dedication to the aviation industry is more than just a marketing exercise, it is a genuine partnership, and one any owner of a professional Breitling can feel a part of.

KEY FACTS

  • The 121.5 Mhz signal, as of 2009, is no longer received by any satellite, however it can still be used as a location becon in conjunction with a standard distress signal.
  • In 1995, the fifteen-man crew of the Mata-Rangi raft were saved by the Emergency’s transmitter, which can be detected ninety miles away.
  • If the signal is used in an emergency, Breitling offer to cover the costs of rescue and repair to the watch, however improper use can result in a $10,000 fine.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

Watch in Focus – TAG Heuer Carrera

TAG Heuer has the kind of affinity with motor racing that is only earned via a long and dedicated involvement at the forefront of the sport. During the 40s and 50s, Heuer was supplying timers that could be dashboard mounted in rally cars to time the stages, and it was there that the seed was sown.

Jack Heuer’s innovative and entrepreneurial mind landed a sponsorship deal with Formula 1 driver Jo Siffert, and Heuer became the first non-motorsport related brand painted on the side of the most advanced racing cars in the world. It was Jack’s personal deal with Jo to buy a Porsche from his dealership that launched a conversation about sponsorship, which in turn sparked the beginning of a multi-billion advertising industry.

In 1950, just as the last section of the Pan-American Highway (that originally connected the USA to Argentina) was completed, a great race was held along its entire length. Dubbed ‘Carrera Panamericana’ (carrera being Spanish for race), it was held annually between 1950 and 1955 and had some of the most grueling terrain of any rally stage ever. As such, it was considered to be one of the most dangerous races of any type in the world.

This inspired Jack Heuer to develop a chronograph unlike any that had been before it. He wanted it to have a unique and instantly recognisable look, as well as being very easy to read. Thus, the Carrera was born, released in 1963. One of the most distinctive features of the watch was the repositioning of the tachymeter from the outer edge of the dial to the rehaut, the tapered spacer between the dial and the crystal. This cleared the dial itself up considerably, making it cleaner and easier to read.

Various iterations of Heuer Carrera watches were produced between the launch and the early 1980s, when the quartz revolution crippled many traditional watch brands. Jack left Heuer before the takeover by TAG (Techniques d’Avant Garde), part-owner of McLaren and supplier of Formula 1 engines. TAG embraced the brand and gave it direction through its low years, using its solid financial footings to market the brand successfully enough to bring it back to the forefront, ready for a buyout by LVMH.

The TAG Heuer Carrera continued with many new iterations such as the Grand Carrera, a coming-together of new and the old, immediately recognisable as Heuer but with the forward thinking design of TAG. TAG Heuer also acknowledge its heritage with re-editions of the vintage Carrera, plus the introduction of concept watches that pushed the boundaries both with design and function.

Such watches as the Calibre 36, penned by the designer of the Ferrari Enzo, and the Mikrograph Flying 1000, which can measure 1/1000th of a second, both demonstrate that TAG Heuer is a brand that is looking forward rather than dwelling on the past.

KEY FACTS

  • Carrera is Spanish for speed, and was used for the 1950’s races along the Pan-American Highway after which the watch was named.
  • Jack Heuer, the owner of Heuer during the 60’s and 70’s and great-grandson of founder Edouard Heuer, designed the Carrera himself in 1963.
  • The Carrera Calibre 36, released in 2009, was designed by Ken Okuyama, the genius behind the striking shape of the Ferrari Enzo.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

Watch In Focus – Rolex Submariner

The development of the Submariner — perhaps the most recognisable watch in history — started long before its release in 1953. Twenty-seven years earlier, a young swimmer names Mercedes Gleitz swam the English Channel with the first ever waterproof watch hanging from a cord around her neck. It was the ‘Oyster, a case sealed with a screw-down case back, a tight-fitting sealed crystal and a double-sealed screw-down crown. Rolex dealers advertised the Oyster watches by submerging them in fish tanks in their shop windows, which made them an immediate success.

The Oyster case had been developed from early pocket-to-wristwatch conversions, which had little more protection than a snap-shut hinged door over its movement. Hans Wilsdorf, father of Rolex, recognised this flaw and, taking inspiration from jar lids, created a watch that sat inside a sealed case whose front section had to be completely unscrewed to reveal the crown. This ‘hermetic’ watch was the inspiration for the watch that Mercedes swam with, using the same principles to seal it from the water.

A further development that helped make the Submariner legendary was that of the perpetual movement. The screw-down sealed crown was frustrating to undo to manually wind the movement, and frequent usage wore the rubber gaskets down, so Rolex, using unsuccessful developments from other manufacturers, invented a self-winding system that used an oscillating weight that spun 360 degrees with the wearers wrist movement. The oft-copied rotating bezel, pioneered on the Rolex Turn-O-Graph, was another feature that made it to the Submariner.

 

By 1953, all the components were available to Rolex to make the perfect diving watch. The legendary Jacques Cousteau helped to test the prototypes, and can be seen wearing one in ‘The Silent World, the Academy Award-winning documentary about the Mediterranean Sea.

The Submariner was a revelation. Water resistant to 100 metres, it was clear to read, solidly built and classically styled. The bracelet included a divers extension, too, which allowed the watch to be adjusted for use over a wetsuit without the need for tools. To the untrained eye, the Submariner has all but stayed the same since its inception — as they say: if it aint broke, dont fix it.

Subtle changes were made over the years, such as the inclusion of a date window, the COSC certification of the movement and slight dial changes to keep the Submariner looking fresh, but overall the DNA remained the same. The most significant changes were implemented recently with release of the 116610 in 2010, which features a larger case, ceramic bezel, updated movement, and refined bracelet and clasp. These updates brought the Rolex Submariner into the 21st century. It is a classic watch that represents the innovation of Hans Wilsdorf and is considered pretty much horological perfection.

KEY FACTS

  • The Submariner was the original watch of James Bond, appearing in nine of the films.
  • The Submariner 16610 Lunette Verde (Green Bezel) was released in 2003 to celebrate 50 years of the Submariner.
  • One of the rarest Submariners produced is the 168000, made for no more than nine months during 1987.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

Watch in Focus – Breitling Chronomat

Breitling’s Navitimer is often given credit for being the world’s first calculator watch, and although it is a very successful model with plenty of accreditation, the history goes a little bit further back than that.

During the Second World War, Breitling engineers and watchmakers designed a watch that would revolutionise horology.

Before the age of calculators and computers, scientists, mathematicians, accountants and engineers were all reliant on slide rules and log tables to do their calculations, and Breitling wanted to create an all-in-one tool to make these day-to-day sums easier to achieve.

In 1941, Breitling patented an internal rotating slide rule that could be adjusted via the bezel, and released it for sale a year later in the new Chronomat. As Breitling’s flagship model, it has evolved to stay relevant to the needs of contemporary users; the original even considered the post-war frugality of many countries by marking the three, six and nine minute markers on the chronograph minute sub dial, the increment at which long distance calls were charged.

 

The Chronomat and the Navitimer —Breitling’s aviation offering —sat side by side as calculator watches until the 1980s when the flagship took a surprising turn. Computer technology was beginning to phase out the manual efforts of analogue calculators, and the Chronomat needed to become relevant again. The update came courtesy of Ernest Schneider, the man who resurrected Breitling after it was shut down in the seventies.

The new look Breitling Chronomat was the first to feature Schneiders bezel rider tab design. Designed at the behest of the ‘Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale Frecce Tricolori’(Tricolour Arrows Aerobatic Team), the professional everyman watch became the modern pilots watch, with the Navitimer flying the flag for the companys heritage. The focus was on clear design and easy usability; the riders were added to give grip while wearing pilots gloves and a larger crown was added for the same reason. If anyone were to be uncertain about the Chronmats new designation, Breitling even added an engraved image of a plane to the case back to clear things up.

 

The modern pilot angle was taken ever higher in 1996 with design influence from one of the most impressive planes ever built – the SR-71 Blackbird. The black dial and matt case made the Blackbird much more tool-like and purposeful compared to the standard polished version, much like its namesake.

A decade later, and with modern watches growing in size, the Chronomat Evolution was launched. Bigger, thicker and heavier, the Evolution proved that Breitling wanted to stay on top of the game, and as mechanical watches rose in popularity, so did the need to have an in-house movement.

Late 2009, Breitling announced the arrival of the B01 in-house movement, first appearing in the Chronomat B01. With the new movement, the case, dial and bezel design were also refreshed, keeping the Chronomat one of the best watches Breitling makes.

KEY FACTS

  • The Chronomat AB0110 is the first Breitling to be powered by the in-house B01 movement, which features a clever protective mechanism that allows the date to be changed at any time during the day without damage.
  • The Chronomat was the first Breitling watch to be released with the patented slide rule that Breitling are now famous for.
  • The four ‘tabs’ on the bezel were first introduced in 1982 as a struggling Breitling fought to stay afloat following the quartz revolution of the 1970’s.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

Watch In Focus – Bremont Martin-Baker

Bremont watches may not have the long and winding history of some other, better known watch brands, but it does have a pair of enthusiastic engineers dedicated to making innovative and exciting timepieces that push the boundaries of technology and physics.

The strong ties with the aviation industry (and the interest Bremont generates from Air Force squadrons looking to furnish themselves with watches that can withstand the rigours of flight) led them to develop the Martin-Baker watch. The idea was to make a watch that could withstand the same testing a Martin-Baker ejector seat undergoes to prove itself satisfactory for operational use.

Martin-Baker started developing aircraft safety systems after the death of its co-founder Captain Baker, who died in an air crash in 1942. Now, each modern ejector seat system must be serviceable for the thirty year lifespan of the average jet fighter, during which it will undergo temperatures close to boiling and well below freezing, constant vibration, high accelerative forces in all directions and of course, possible ejection. These systems need to be properly tested to prove their air-worthiness, and Martin-Baker simulates all this at its testing facility in Buckinghamshire, making sure that every design is perfect. They leave nothing to chance.

Bremont’s prototype watch went through a voyage of discovery through the trials, bouncing back and forth from the drawing board to eliminate any issues that were unearthed. The hardest test to persevere was the vibration test – a machine that could simulate thirty years of operational vibration in just four hours. The test is so thorough that it even wears the tread down on the test manikin’s boots.

This meticulous procedure revealed that the movement needed shock protection independent of the case, and so traditional case mounts were dropped in favour of a rubber ring mounting system. This absorbed the vibrations satisfactorily, while also providing a secondary benefit: insulating the movement from extreme temperatures.

Bremont’s dedication to the Martin-Baker watch has earned them great respect from the aviation industry, with squadrons all around the world queuing up to get hold of the MBII edition. The MBI — the same watch with a different dial design — is only available to those who have used a Martin-Baker ejection system in active duty. The popularity of the watch was punctuated when an American U2 spy plane pilot sent photos to Bremont of the MBII on the edge of space.

These snapshots led to the limited edition U2 spy plane version of the MBII, built exclusively for U2 pilots. Thanks to that, plus Bremont’s ability to have its watches independently flight tested to suit client’s individual requirements, many other squadrons have ordered custom MBIIs since.

It would be easy to think that the MBII was a gimmick, but understanding the engineering expertise that went into creating it and its use within the aviation industry, it is clear that it is more than just another watch trying to establish an identity.

 KEY FACTS

  • The MBI is only available to people who have used a Martin-Baker ejection seat and experienced the spine-crushing 30g forces they exert.
  • If the barrel colour isn’t to your liking, you can have it swapped by Bremont for a different colour.Bremont subjected design prototypes to the same gruelling tests undertaken by Martin-Baker ejection seats.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

Watch In Focus – Rolex Daytona

An evolution of simplicity, the Rolex Daytona continues to be the epitome of chronograph design since its birth in the sixties.

Rolex wasn’t one of the first manufacturers to produce a chronograph, but being the sportsman’s choice brand, the market demand made it inevitable. Several incarnations of chronograph were produced from the early to mid-twentieth century, using Valjoux movements rather than developing in-house ones.

At first, only a single-button chronograph was available, but the 1930s saw the introduction of the two-button chronograph. Where before the watch could only start, stop and reset in that order, this new movement allowed a pause in the timing before restarting.

The Rolex 3462 ‘Zerograph’ used such a movement, but was only produced in limited quantities due to lack of interest. The follow up 4500 (which saw the introduction of the Oyster case), 6232 and 3668 models also proved unpopular.

It wasn’t until several iterations more and three decades later that Rolex revived the name ‘Cosmograph’ for the 6239 in the early sixties. This was the first version of the iconic watch we see today, partly because of the move of the tachymeter from the chapter ring to the bezel, but predominantly because of the addition of the word ‘Daytona’on the dial, taken from the three-and-a-half mile long Daytona International Speedway in Florida.

The next classic Oyster touch came in the late sixties, when Rolex developed screw-down pushers for the 6240. Early chronograph pushers were only sealed with a gasket, but the screw-down pushers both sealed the watch from water and prevented the pushers being used and breaking that seal when submerged.

The Daytona was revamped to the current shape in 1988 as the 16520 model, when the rugged but not entirely sophisticated Valjoux movement was swapped for a Zenith El Primero. The Zenith movement was tweaked from 36,000 vibrations per hour to 28,800 for a greater power reserve and longer working life. Later, from 2000, when Zenith could no longer provide the volume of movements that Rolex required, an in-house movement was produced for the 116520 model. It became one of the most sought after watches ever.

The most desirable Daytona, however, has to be the exotic ‘Paul Newman’ dial, available through model numbers 6239, 6240, 6241, 6262, 6263, 6264 and 6265. Believed to be the watch given to actor Paul Newman by his wife Joanne, the real reason for the popularity of the watch is uncertain. Some say that it was because Paul wore it on the poster for the 1969 movie Winning, and others say it was because Paul wore it on the front cover of a popular Italian magazine.

Either way, the contrasting colour dial and sub-dials, the cross hairs and block markers on each sub-dial, and the contrasting inner track all combine to make it the most desirable Daytona of all.

New or old, the Rolex Daytona is a handsome timepiece and one worthy of the enormous following it generates. Its popularity can only continue growing.

KEY FACTS

  • The 6239, launched in 1963, was the first Rolex chronograph to feature the word ‘Daytona’ on the dial.
  • The Daytona is named after the 2.5 mile long Daytona International Speedway in Florida.
  • Eric Clapton’s 1971 ‘Albino’ Daytona sold for $505,000 at auction in 2008.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

Watch In Focus – Cartier Santos

Alberto Santos-Dumont was born in 1873 to a wealthy family in Brazil. When Santos-Dumonts father became paralysed after falling off his horse, the family sold up and moved to Paris in 1891. Here, Santos-Dumont began to explore his love of automobiles and aviation. 

Very quickly, he moved on from taking hot air balloon rides as a passenger to piloting them himself, including models of his own design. The immediate flaw of the balloon, he discovered, was the inability to steer, and he found they would be carried by the wind in whichever direction it was blowing. Santos-Dumont began to design steerable balloons called ‘dirigibles, and between 1898 and 1905 he designed, built and flew eleven different dirigible prototypes. 

Always the showman, he would fly his dirigible through the streets of Paris, barely skimming the rooftops; he was even known to arrive at restaurants in this style, much to the surprise and excitement of the patrons. Such was his skill at piloting his craft that he successfully won the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize, a 100,000 Franc reward for completing a lap from Parc de Saint-Cloud to the Eiffel Tower and back again in thirty minutes.

Watch Movement

Santos-Dumont took his craft around the world, winning admiration and respect — as well as more money — for his endeavours. He even met President
Roosevelt in 1904, who marvelled at his creation. His fame spread like wildfire; the rich began to mimic his style and his name was given to cities, airports and even craters on the moon.Heavier than air flight became a new obsession for Santos-Dumont, and by 1906 he had flown his own fixed wing aircraft ‘14-bis a distance of sixty metres. 

He was beaten by the Wright brothers to the first powered flight by just three years. Determined to make his aircraft better, he used wheels rather than skids to aid self-powered take-off (rather than the catapult launch used by the Wright brothers) and also added moveable surfaces to the wings to stabilise flight, which lead to the development of ailerons. Santos-Dumont was so enthusiastic about his planes that he gave away the blueprints for his last and bestaircraft for free.

What has this got to do with the Cartier? Well, as has already been mentioned, Santos-Dumont was a trend-setter, and a key figure in developing the fashion for wearing wrist watches. Wrist watches were generally favoured by women and pocket watches by men, but Santos-Dumont changed that. During his flight testing, he found it difficult to time his flights using his pocket watch, so he had his friend Louis Cartier make him a large wrist watch. The watch was so admired by Santos-Dumonts fans that in 1904 it became available to the public as the Cartier Santos.

Today, the Cartier Santos watch remains largely unchanged from its original design. The addition of models with subtle variations of the original — such as the Santos 100 XL have also appeared, expanding the range further. The classic appearance and fascinating history continues to make the Cartier Santos a very popular and successful watch.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

Watch in Focus – Cartier Ballon Bleu

Cartier has always been pushing boundaries when it comes to watch style and design. Although other manufacturers have made their name by producing wonderfully exquisite and ornate movements, Cartier prefers to stun its audiences by making timepieces and accessories that have original visual appeal. You know when you are looking at a Cartier.

Rectangular watches are a staple diet for Cartier, the Tank and the Santos being two good examples, but that isnt the limits of Cartiers imagination when it comes to watch design. The Pasha, originally designed as a water-proof watch for the Pasha of Marrakech in 1933, has a grille covering the crystal and a chain securing the screw-down crown protector—details that would otherwise seem out of place, yet have proven very popular.

The Santos drew men away from their pocket watches and got them interested in wrist worn watches, previously considered to be a woman’s accessory. Design and fashion is something Cartier is very qualified to make decisions about, and the Cartier Ballon Bleu, launched in 2006, is evidence of that.

The name comes from the two most prominent details on the watch, the blue synthetic sapphire cabochon mounted in the crown, and the swollen, spherical shape of the case that’s reminiscent of a balloon. The cabochon is a trademark detail of Cartier, but the Ballon Bleu’s case shape is entirely unique. Its three-dimensional form is almost impossible to gauge via images alone, as is the incredible quality that allows the shape to be made.

Impressively, the case curves at a graduating rate that blends seamlessly into the domed crystal, really emphasising that balloon shape while also maintaining a smooth, simple appearance. The balloon knotis formed of a continuing loop around the crown, which also cuts into the crystal and is mirrored on the dial. The dial itself is classic Cartier, silver guilloche, small black hands and Roman numerals. The simplicity makes the watch; there is no doubt that the right balance has been achieved to make it both easy to use and good to look at.

Cartier hasnt stopped there with the Ballon Bleu. The 2011 Extra-Flat watch is large at 46mm but is also, as the name suggests, very thin. It still retains some of the original curve, but has of course been deflated to fit within the new svelte proportions. More excitingly for 2011 was the prototype ID One, a platform for demonstrating future technology in horology. The case, made from niobium-titanium, is hypo-allergenic and highly wear-resistant.

More interesting though is the zerodur hairspring and carbon crystal balance wheel, escape wheel and lever. Zerodur is a glass-like ceramic material with high magnetic and temperature resistance, and carbon crystal is a very hard, also glass-like material that requires no lubrication.

What this means collectively is that the ID One watch does not need regulation or adjustment at any point of its life—it is a completely maintenance-free watch. And this sums up Cartier nicely: the company doesnt do what people expect, but when it does do something, everybody pays attention. 

KEY FACTS

  • Cartier borrowed inspiration from Russian jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé for the guilloching that has become such a prominent feature on Cartier watches.
  • The spherical cabochon that decorates the crown on many Cartier watches is made from synthetic sapphire.
  • The Ballon Bleu extra-flat, debuted at Baselworld in 2011, is just 7.05mm thick

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

Watch In Focus – Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX

The AMVOX may be one of the younger members of the Jaeger-LeCoultre family, but its history goes back much further than that. The relationship between luxury car maker Aston Martin and Jaeger-LeCoultre dates right back to the 1920s when Edmond Jaeger, still seventeen years off from joining forces with his friend Jacques-David LeCoultre, was making speedometers for Aston Martin cars.

Fast-forward to 2005, and Jaeger-LeCoultre and Aston Martin join forces once again to release the first of the AMVOX collection, the AMVOX I. The AMVOX Is design had a history of its own, as the compressor case and three crowns mimicked a very famous watch from Jaeger-LeCoultres past—the Polaris. Both watches featured a speciality of Jaeger-LeCoultres, the mechanical alarm.

For the AMVOX II, Jaeger-LeCoultre turned up the innovation a notch. This time, the watch sported not an alarm, but a chronograph instead. This doesn’t sound particularly innovative until the method used to control it is revealed: using the combination of a rocking two-part case and an incredibly technical lever system, Jaeger-LeCoultre managed to make a chronograph that can be started and stopped by pushing the top of the crystal and reset again by pushing the bottom. The lock on the side of the case also allows the user to prohibit accidental engagement of the chronograph.

A small sliver of cutaway at the bottom of the dial reveals the inner workings of the chronograph mechanism, anodised red to stand proud of the base plate. The dial remains similar to that of the AMVOX I, with the addition of red accents to compliment the racing pedigree of Aston Martin, as well as having rotating chronograph sub dials appearing through two small windows so as not to clutter the clean, classy dial.

For AMVOX number three, Jaeger-LeCoultre used another technology often seen in Aston Martin racing cars – ceramic. The GMT tourbillon movement is shrouded in a black ceramic case, with the platinum or pink gold tourbillon bridge on show through the dial. This series was limited to just three hundred pieces.

Very wisely, Jaeger-LeCoultre skipped AMVOX number four, as four is the number of death in many Asian countries. Jumping straight to AMVOX V, Jaeger-LeCoultre pushed the boundaries as far as they ever had before in the AMVOX line for the World Chronograph. This combined the ceramic case of the AMVOX III, the chronograph of the AMVOX II (this time controlled with pushers) and added a world time complication indicated by the chapter ring around the edge of the dial.

The most impressive of the Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX range is only available to you if you own an Aston Martin car. Using the start/stop mechanism from the AMVOX II chronograph, the watch incorporates a transponder that lets the user lock and unlock their car with the watch itself. All of the AMVOX collection mirrors the Aston Martin spirit to create new and exciting products that engage their users in passionate and exhilarating ways. I wonder what the next AMVOX will be like?

KEY FACTS

  • The AMVOX II features a chronograph that is controlled by pressing the top and bottom of the crystal, and also has a sliding lock to prevent accidental use .
  • Edmond Jaeger used to make speedometers for Aston Martin (upon which the dial design of the AMVOX is based) in the 1920’s before he teamed up with Jacques-David LeCoultre.
  • The AMVOX II Chronograph Racing celebrated the 2009 win at the legendary Le Mans 24 hour race for Aston Martin Racing, fifty years after their first win at that event.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

Watch In Focus – Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is a design that has held its own for the best part of a century, and is a design that is more than simply about aesthetics—it’s practical too. While watching a game of polo in India in the 1930s, a French industrialist called César de Trey—who had made a fortune in denture sales—spotted that many players had to take their watches off to avoid the crystals becoming cracked and shattered. The problem didn’t go unchallenged, because later de Trey approached his good friend and watchmaker Jacques-David LeCoultre who turned his idea into reality by the start of following Polo season.

The solution was simple, elegant and distinctly LeCoultre: a rectangular case was produced that could be reversed, displaying only the solid metal caseback and allowing the watch some resistance from the knocks ever-present in polo. The method used to flip the case over was ideal because it could be operated while still wearing the watch. It also lacked complexity, which would likely havecdeteriorated quickly in the harsh Indian environment.

But the Reverso became more than just a tool for sports players. Its distinct and classy design appealed to the wider public, the polished, curved caseback a blank canvas for engravings. The popularity of the Reverso spread as far as royalty, with the watch finding a home on the wrist of the short-lived king of England, Edward VIII. It even landed a trans-American flight on the wrist of Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the vast continent. That particular example came complete with an enamelled map of the trip on its reverse.

In 1994 the brand took the Reverso idea a stage further with the introduction of the Reverso Duo. The bare caseback was sacrificed for another dial, and a watch with two sides and two personalities was born. In the traditional Jaeger-LeCoultre way, both sets of hands were wound by one crown, yet were both independently adjustable, a complication that made the Duo even more impressive. Other complications found their way into the hallowed rectangular case, including Jaeger-LeCoultres masterpiece the gyro-tourbillon, a twin cage, double-axis tourbillon that required 373 parts to build.

To celebrate the Reversos 80th birthday, Jaeger-LeCoultre revitalised the original design with the Reverso ‘Ultra-Thin Tribute to 1931’, whose dial features just the word ‘Reverso’nas it did in its original incarnation. It is a reminder that the classic piece has remained faithful to its ancestry, and continues to be as charming and enticing as it was when it first went on sale. The Reverso may have the capability to hide its face, but many years of success have shown that it doesn’t have to. 

Key Facts

  • The original idea for the reversing case came from a denture tycoon following an aggressive polo match where he saw watch crystals smashed.
  • ‘Reverso,’ is the literal translation of ‘reverse’ into Portuguese, or ‘back’ into French, hinting at the articulate nature of the Reverso’s case.
  • The case of a Reverso may seem simple, but it comprises of at least fifty parts depending on the model. Removing the movement for a service is no easy task!

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

 

Watch in Focus – Breitling Navitimer

Breitling’s history with the aeronautical industry is based on a relationship built over many years that has led to the creation of watches specifically developed for pilots, by pilots. The trademark of Breitling’s DNA is most definitely the slide rule: developed following discussions with pilots from the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association), Breitling released a chronograph watch that had a slide rule bezel fitted, allowing pilots to make calculations on air speed, distance travelled and fuel usage on the fly.

This model was called the Chronomat and was released in the early 1940s. Its success led to further discussions with AOPA, and followed with the release of the Breitling Navitimer in 1952, which had the AOPA logo printed on the dial. The AOPA club brochure claimed that the watch was ‘completely designed and engineered to AOPA specifications, and it must have been, because it became very successful.

Breitling’s contract with the Royal Air Force to supply cockpit clocks meant that the foundation for distribution of the Navitimer was already laid. Breitling’s reputation expanded further following contracts with Boeing, Douglas and Lockheed to supply cockpit clocks for their aircraft.

The air wasnt enough for Breitling, and in 1961, following a recommendation from NASA astronaut Scott Carpenter, the Navitimer was adapted to display a twenty-four hour clock on its dial instead of the usual twelve hour. The name ‘Cosmonaute was registered by Breilting, and in 1962, Carpenter wore his Cosmonaute into space aboard Mercury Atlas 7.

1968 saw the release of the big case Navitimers, the ‘Chronomatic, instantly recognisable with their rugged black bezel, octagonal case and square sub-dial hands. 1969 added the first automatic chronograph movement to the Navitimer (it is widely considered that the ‘El Primero was the first automatic chronograph movement; it was in fact the first integrated chronograph movement, but the Calibre 11, built as a joint effort between Breitling, Hamilton-Buren, Heuer-Leonidas and Dubois Depraz, came first, and was actually a modular automatic chronograph), narrowly beating the El-Primero as the first automatic chronograph on the market. The big case Navitimer was re-released as a special edition in 2006 in both twelve hour and twenty-four hour Cosmonaute versions.

The next significant change to the Navimter was the installation of Breitlings in-house B01 movement in 2010. Available in limited numbers—2,000 steel, 200 18 carat rose gold—they paved the way for the release of the standard B01-equipped Navitimers, as well as the introduction of the B01 into other models.

There have also been a handful of special edition Navitimers, offered specifically to individual air-forces and squadrons around the world, which appear very occasionally on the pre-owned market from time to time. These watches are special because they have mostly seen active service, such as the watches offered to RAF Red Arrows pilots to commemorate their time with the squadron.

The Navitimer is arguably the most famous Breitling ever made, and has managed the test of time well. Its classic shape and immediately recognisable looks make this tool watch the genuine article.

KEY FACTS

  • The dial on the limited edition Navitimer Caliber 01 is made from solid silver with the dial pattern etched in, filled with enamel and polished until flush
  • The Navitimer was the first watch to be worn in space by an American astronaut, Scott Carpenter, during the 1962 Aurora 7 mission
  • The circular slide rule can calculate multiplication, division, rate and distance of climb or descent, fuel consumption, speed, unit conversions, pulse rate and distance of thunder storms

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

Watch in Focus – IWC Aquatimer

Between 1942 and 1946, French Naval Lieutenant Jacques-Yves Cousteau and engineer Emile Gagnan developed the Aqualung, a portable underwater breathing device that revolutionised diving. Previous self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) had consisted of clunky and awkward methods of continuously blowing air into a divers face, but the Aqualung used pressure valves release air only on demand. This meant that the equipment could be scaled down to a back-worn tank and mouthpiece, and didn’t require a sealed suit. Skin diving, as it was to be known, had begun.

Into the sixties, an increase in wealth, the ability to travel abroad on holiday and the reducing price of SCUBA equipment meant that it became more accessible and therefore more popular with the public. The National Association of Underwater Instructors was formed in 1960 to regulate and teach the increasing number of students with an interest in the sport. This lead the formation of PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, in 1967.

Dive watches were generally about a decade ahead of the sport, but IWC didn’t release anything into the market until 1967. The first Aquatimer—using a super-compressor case made by EPSA, a company that also manufactured cases for the likes of Jaeger-LeCoultre—was water-resistant to 200 metres. The super-compressor case allowed the watch to have a rotating internal bezel as it did not require screw-down crowns to make it water-tight. It used IWCs ingenious Pellaton winding system with its built-in shock protection.

In 1982 IWC wowed audiences again with the first titanium diver’s watch, this time with ten times the water resistance at 2,000 metres. Designed by Porsche, the single most impressive feature of the watch was its lack of helium escape valve—instead off ollowing in the footsteps of manufacturers that had spent a lot of money developing their versions of the HEV, they produced a case that was just outright strong enough to cope with the strain of decompression.

The GST came next in 1997, available in titanium and steel, and was also rated to a depth of 2,000 metres. The simple design and integrated bracelet was classic IWC design, and the push-to-turn external bezel was a stroke of design genius, making the GST one of the most sought-after Aquatimers. The GST bowed out with the GST Deep One in 1999. It previewed the look for the 2000 range of Aquatimers, which returned to the original internal rotating bezel and featured a depth gauge built into the case.

The next range of IWC Aquatimer had a fresh design, losing the integrated bracelet and internal rotating bezel. Instead they gain a luminescent, sapphire glass bezel for easy low-light reading, as well as a super-legible face. As always, the quality is up with the best, and the patented Pellaton winding system continues to provide power. This was recently replaced by an entirely new design.

IWC has taken a steadfast approach to making its divers, using simplistic engineering rather than fanciful unnecessary technologies, and as such their Aquatimers are among the hardiest—and best—divers available to buy.

KEY FACTS 

  • The 1970’s Aquatimer Ocean 2000 was designed by Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, who also created the Porsche 911.
  • The Aquatimer GST Deep One was the first wrist watch to feature a mechanical depth gauge.
  • Jamie Foxx wore an Aquatimer chronograph in the 2006 movie ‘Miami Vice’.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

Watch In Focus – SevenFriday P1-04

In 1975, the car manufacturer British Leyland went bankrupt. There were many contributing factors — bad product, striking workers, confused marketing — but one reason stood out among the others: the cars produced in the Far East were not only better, but cheaper, too. These were cars that could be trusted to start on a cold morning, that rust could be considered an if instead of a when with, and weren’t assembled by a disgruntled worker from badly-fitting panels and cheap fixings. It was the start of the shrinking of the world, the era of a global economy that turned isolated continents into links in a financial chain.

SevenFriday P1/04

That was then, and this is now; today we have the internet, the remnants of a global financial melt-down, and a change in the tide as the Far East grows ever more capable. Remember when Made in China was a byword for cheap rubbish? Not any more.

The growth of China’s industry has been impressive to say the least, and now it’s home to a vast chunk of the world’s industry.

But there has been another change, this time a little closer to home. Swiss watches have been rising in price at a stomach-churning rate, and many people who aspired to own a Rolex or an Omega are left chasing an RRP that’s spiralling out of control. So what does this mean for the watch enthusiast that can’t (or won’t) pay £5,000 for a new Submariner? This is the stomping ground of the new-school watchmakers, and one of them is SevenFriday.

Founding the company in 2012, brand owner and creator Daniel Niederer set about challenging one of the oldest industries in the world by taking his manufacturing to China. More about that in a minute.

What we have here is one of three colourful additions to the P1 family, the P1/04 Blue. There’s an orange and a green version too, all as bold and bright as this one here. The PVD’d steel case is wrapped in a supple layer of blue rubber, and the stacked dial offers a glimpse of the beating heart inside. It’s a big watch, but it wears well, the straps pivoting from just inside the case rather than from extruded lugs as is the norm. The details are well thought-out and pleasing without being fussy, giving the P1/04 a unique persona that doesn’t get annoying in the way an overtly-outgoing friend can.

SevenFriday P1/04 Case

Everything here is made and assembled in China (the design is done in Zurich), right down to the powerhouse that drives the disk-like hands. In the nineties and early noughties that would have rung alarm bells in any sensible watch-buyers head, but not today. The specification is good, fit-and-finish is exemplary; it feels like a watch worth many thousands of pounds, perhaps even — in this world of boutique specials — tens of thousands. The price is actually a startling £850, and for that you get a handsome leather strap with a sumptuous suede upper.

SevenFriday P1/04 Caseback

Don’t let the lack of Swiss Made on the dial is hold you back, long live SevenFriday.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]