At BaselWorld2014, Patek Philippe introduced the Travel Time Chronograph, reference 5990-1 ($57,300), the latest in the continuing evolution of the now-iconic Nautilus.
A Stainless Heritage Lives On
We Tick Off the Latest in Watch News
This Week in Watches we examine Swatches gone large, Fliegers gone small, space Luminoxes, ceramic Bell & Rosses and more.
No Mere Accessories
It wasn’t so long ago that watches with fashion brand names on their dials were routinely dismissed as pretenders, mere arm candy for people with more money than good sense or taste. While there are still plenty of those watches twinkling from department store jewelry counters, other brands — ones more often associated with jewelry, luggage and trench coats — have quietly elbowed their way into loftier company. These five made a splash at this year’s BaselWorld.
We tick off the latest in Watch News
This Week in Watches, we examine new offerings from Sinn, Grand Seiko, Magrette, Speake-Marin and the NYC-based strapmaker Suigeneric.
Will Dufour Bring the Conservative Brand Into the Modern Age?
Rolex had just three CEOs in its first century of existence; it’s had three more in just the past eight years. This week, the iconic company made the latest change in its game of musical chairs, putting Jean-Frédéric Dufour, whom many will recognize as the man who turned Zenith around, in the hot seat. This a major development for one of the most conservative companies in a very conservative industry — particularly because of Dufour’s track record.
The Watchmaker's Art
When people ask what’s so special about mechanical watches, we go on about the miracle of keeping time with gears and springs, the artisanal tradition and the importance timepieces have played in great historical events. If anyone listening hasn’t walked away by then, eyes are usually glazed and the subject quickly changed. Now we can just point those people to this video.
Davy Jones's (Dive) Locker
For centuries, man has found countless ways to send ships to the bottom of the sea. Since the advent of scuba technology, we’ve found ways to explore them. Whether it’s to search for booty, take eerie photos, or just to pay respects, wreck diving is a not a sport for the timid. Often found in deep, cold water with strong currents and dangerous reefs, wrecks demand expertise, experience, humility and marine-grade bronze balls — not to mention a lot of specialized gear. This isn’t tropical holiday diving, so be prepared to shell out for equipment that can stand up to the conditions the Gunilda, the Thistlegorm or the Doria present.
Best of Show
Another BaselWorld is in the books, and it’s time for our annual tradition of choosing our favorite watches of the show. Once again, we polled five of our esteemed Timekeeping contributors for their picks — and once again they chose a real mix of haute horlogerie, divers and chronographs from brands big and small. Mind you, these aren’t necessarily the best watches of the show (despite our title), but just the ones with which we’d choose to flee across the border on our wrists. See if you agree with our choices.
Notes from the World's Largest Watch Show
In this age of 24/7 connectivity and instant news reports via Twitter and press releases, it’s relatively easy to cover events even from half a world away. For the past couple of years, that’s how we covered the three-ring horological circus known as BaselWorld. But there was always a nagging feeling that the only way to truly report on the world’s largest watch event was to be there on the ground. So this year we booked a ticket, rented a room, bought some comfortable shoes and packed our bags for Basel.
Three top chronographs go head to head
From the Archives:The popularity and prevalence of chronographs might just make one think that it is an easy watch complication. Something about the asymmetrical cases — those buttons poking out from under a shirtsleeve — and the gauge-like dials with tachymetric scales and multiple subdials seems irresistible to men everywhere. So when we recently got our hands on three of the best available in-house built automatic column wheel chronographs from three legendary companies — Zenith, OMEGA and Girard-Perregaux — it presented an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. We’ll call it a shootout — loosely.
Time to clean up
Yes, we’re inclined towards utilitarian sports watches, but every now and then a guy’s got to clean up. For those times, do yourself a favor and replace that Panerai with something a little more civilized — a jaw-dropping dress watch. Just how civilized (and how expensive) is up to you, but here are four worth suiting up for.
Have you got the time?
Next time you wind and set your humble wristwatch against the time on your MacBook, remember that behind those digits are oscillations of Cesium atoms at the US Naval Observatory.
No sleep til Basel
For one week a year, the center of the timepiece universe revolves around Basel, a quiet Swiss city that sits astride the borders of France and Germany. Whereas January’s Salon Internationle Haute Horlogerie is a more intimate, almost quaint affair with its handful of high-end brands, BaselWorld, the world’s largest watch show, is a raucous mosh pit of over a thousand brands, 100,000 visitors and a whole lot of schnitzel. This year, the show is earlier than usual, running from March 27th through April 3rd. And we’ll be there.
Rising to the top
From the Archives: On the eve of BaselWorld 2014, let’s take a last look at the best timepieces from last year’s Watchapalooza, BaselWorld 2013.
F-Stop is a relative newcomer to the camera bag scene, and its St. Louis headquarters is incongruous with its focus on packs for mountain sports photography. But don’t let that fool you. Their packs show a design maturity that could only stem from experience and a smart use of user feedback. We tested both the light-and-fast Kenti ($249) and the sturdier, larger Satori EXP ($379) in conditions as varied as multi-day hikes in New Zealand and peak bagging in New Hampshire.
Mount Rainier - 14,410 feet
From the Archives: For climbers, Mount Rainier presents a tantalizing challenge given its accessibility to a major urban center and the established routes that zigzag up its flanks. Its topography and numerous glaciers and crevasses make it an excellent training ground for bigger climbs in the Alps and Himalayas. Only about half those who attempt to summit it succeed each year, the other half turned away by weather, unstable conditions or fatigue. It was also the scene of one of the worst mountaineering accidents in North American climbing history when an ice fall killed 11 climbers in 1981.
It sounded like a good challenge.
The thrill of the hunt
What self-respecting watch nerd hasn’t spent countless hours trolling eBay for that elusive vintage treasure that no one has discovered? The Pre-Moon Omega Speedmaster, the MilSub, the Cosmonaute — the names alone are enough to get palms sweating and the heart racing. While the thrill of watch collecting is in the hunt, enough foiled plans and missed auctions will make anyone gun shy. We feel your pain. The best salve is this guide to vintage watches on eBay, featuring a strong mix of underdogs — those timepieces that fly under a lot of collectors’ radars. Not only do you stand a better chance of scoring one of these collectible tickers, once you do make the final bid, you’ll end up with a legitimate piece of horological history.
Don't Tread on Me
Most of the watches from American brands these days look back nostalgically for inspiration and design cues — Shinola with its round cases, small seconds and wire lugs, RGM with its pocketwatch-on-a-strap aesthetic, or MKII with its ‘60s tool watch vibe. But there’s another American watch company — Devon — that doesn’t bother with the past and may actually be the best brand to wave the banner for American watchmaking given its firm focus on the future and emphasis on innovation. The Devon Tread 2 is that brand’s new and improved take on haute horlogerie, Americana-style.
From the Archives: To the casual observer, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with its tidy towns and the waft of manure from plowed fields on the spring breeze, is a far cry from the vaunted watchmaking regions of Europe. But there are similarities between this rolling farmland and the mountain valleys of Switzerland and Germany: a history of rural isolation, strong Puritan work ethic, cold winters, and a history of fine timepieces. Lancaster was home to the Hamilton Watch Company from 1892 until the mid-1980s and was, at one time, producer of some of the finest timepieces in the world. Today it is still a treasure trove of American watchmaking.
Welcome to the Jungle
Ka’ana is a boutique resort, but rather than catering to those who like to sit by a pool all day with umbrella drinks, it encourages its guests to leave every day. Don’t get us wrong, there is a pool, and if you want an umbrella drink, it can be arranged. But Belize is a country ripe for adventure, and Ka’ana wants to be your (very luxurious) base camp.
A caving expedition in Belize
We’d been underground for five hours, as deep as 600 feet below the surface of the jungle in a cave the Belizeans call the Mountain Cow Cave. The cavern has been rebranded for tourists as the more picturesque-sounding Crystal Cave, though few tourists make it here. Unlike the more famous and accessible Actun Tunichil Muchnal cave, which sees thousands of visitors per year, Crystal Cave only sees a few hundred, most only peeking into its impressive foyer. I could see why. It was not for the faint of heart.
Five Oceans, Five Cameras
Nowadays, there are many options for underwater photography and videography available to the avid diver and occasional vacation snorkeler alike. These five underwater imaging options — everything from custom-machined metal housings to cameras that don’t need a housing at all — will serve you well on your next dive trip. What you shoot is up to you.
Think Globally, Drink Locally
One of the sublime joys of a tropical vacation is the beer. I’m not talking about anything you can find at your corner liquor store in Manhattan (Kansas or New York), or even those Mexican imports with the clever TV ads. I’m talking about the ones that come in brown bottles with peeling labels and caps that you knock off on the edge of a table, beers with names like Belikin, Polar, Banks, Sands, Sol, Belashi, Kalik or Three Coins.
Get wet, stay warm
Patagonia has always been a company with one foot in the mountains and one in the sea — climbing and skiing one day, surfing and paddling the next. When they introduced wetsuits to their lineup a few years ago, it was a big leap for the company, but not one they were unqualified to make. In fact, their experience building warm, lightweight and bombproof alpine gear transferred well to wetsuits, which we found out recently while testing the R1 wetsuit during a week of diving in Belize.
Gear for the jungle and the reef
Packing for a tropical getaway usually only involves deciding what color swim trunks to pack. But when your plans include jungle hiking, cave exploration and scuba diving, things get a little more complicated. The key is versatility — you need gear that works underground or underwater just as well as it does topside. For our week in Belize we made sure everything we took did more than just one thing well. This saved space in our luggage and let us be nimble yet well prepared. Here’s a sampling of what we took.
An Offshore Account
After a long and fairly uneventful dive on an unnamed reef out in South Water Caye, I clambered aboard Splash Belize’s dive boat, shed tanks and weights and stripped off my wetsuit. The big diesels rumbled to life and Captain Malcolm steered toward a small island in the distance. As we drew closer, I could make out a few small panga boats and some activity on the beach. Then came a distinctive smell: barbecue.
Tagging sharks in the Bahamas
From the Archives: Sharks are hot right now, despite, or perhaps because of, their scarcity. They’re very endangered due to a combination of targeted fishing to satisfy the appetite for shark fin soup, pollution, coral reef degradation or as bycatch in nets and on long lines. This last method, which claimed an estimated 97 million sharks in 2010 alone, accounts for 80 percent of shark deaths annually and is the subject of an ongoing study being conducted by scientists at the Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas. We endured a bumpy ride in a tiny turboprop to visit this remote outpost and see what they were finding. Along the way we came face to face with this top predator of the deep.
We Have All the Time in the World
From the Archives: In a wristwatch, any function beyond merely telling the time of day is called a “complication”. This term encompasses simple functions such as the date, poetic ones like the phases of the moon or even something as esoteric as sidereal time. But perhaps the most useful watch complication is the ability to tell the time in more than one time zone. Since the advent of the traveler’s watch, we’ve seen every conceivable variation of the traveler’s watch — for pilots, divers, businesspeople — but all still live up to their raisons d’êtres: keeping track of the world’s times at a glance, no matter the complication style. Here are five of the best out there (yes, we said best, so gird your wallets) that are ready to take flight.
Ice cold Red Bull
While all eyes were on Sochi as the Olympics wrapped up, another exciting winter sports event was happening this past weekend in St. Paul, Minnesota: the Red Bull Crashed Ice championships. Crashed Ice is Red Bull’s (generally apt) name for the up-and-coming sport of ice cross. And though it may be a made-up sport invented to sell energy drinks, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to see it in the Olympics one day.