As it goes for just about anything “military”, issued timepieces are some of the most collectible in the watch world. Between enthusiasts looking for a rugged watch to go on adventures with, fashionable folks pulling off military-inspired looks, and history buffs bolstering their military regalia collection, the military watch market faces the perfect storm of demand. Couple that demand with a fixed number of issued timepieces, and you start to see the whole picture. The rabbit hole of military watches and their history delves very deeply, very quickly, so we’ve broken our overview into two parts: those countries from the West with influential and interesting military timekeeping history, and those from the East. This week, the West — America, Britain, Germany, France, and the unlikely Brazil, Argentina and Peru — flexes its stuff.
A Compendium of Wearable History
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.
An Explorer's Watch at the Explorer's Club
In 1958, as numerous scientific initiatives blossomed across the globe, Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced their now-legendary Geophysic chronometer, meant as a tool for scientists and explorers. Today the Geophysic 1958 has been reborn in a limited series of watches, each of which accurately replicates its forebears in design and intent.
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.
Lightweight bombers are a simple, all-American affair. This spring mainstay has evolved over the past century to include styles with a wide variety of fabrics, slimmer fits and colors beyond the basics. With warm weather finally here, we’ve stowed our parkas and picked our five favorites that range from technical to timeless.
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.
Marketing is for suckers
Watch shopping at a brick and mortar retailer or a boutique really only scratches the surface of the watch world. There are literally hundreds of online retailers, or internet boutiques, just as worthy of the praise received by brands like Rolex, Omega, Breitling, and the like. These are small-scale production brands that exclusively sell their own watches online, without a physical store, from less than $500 to well above $10,000. We’ve broken down some of our favorite internet boutique brands, along with their best offerings, so that you can start your web-based hunting right.
Spidey senses are tingling
When it comes to high-end mechanical watches, racers, pilots, and divers are all spoiled for choice. Unfortunately, skiers can’t say the same. One brand though, has been giving them a taste of what could be. Launched by two Danes in 2002, Linde Werdelin went straight after the skiing niche by introducing mechanical timepieces with digital clip-on devices meant for the snow. But today, the technology that made the brand stand out faces major questions. We tried out the SpidoLite Titanium Red ($11,900) and the brand’s latest Rock digital device on the slopes.
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.
Breaking Down an ETA Watch Movement
Just what are you looking at when you flip over your Tissot or Swiss Army watch and peer through the case back crystal at that ETA automatic? It’s time to learn. We break down the parts of an ETA automatic watch movement.
Like Jacques Cousteau, Wearing A Tux
Last fall, we featured the Pontos S, a sleek dive chronograph. While the chronograph’s design could likely dress up with the best of them, the busy dial gives off more of a sporty feeling. The Pontos S Diver ($3,400) loses the chronograph function, creating a cleaner and classier diver. Though not without minor faults, the Pontos S Diver is a great example of a dive watch that earns its place, whether over a wetsuit or under a cuff.
Grabbing a pair of classically rad sneakers better suited for trips to the beach than running a 5k personal best is a great way to prepare for warmer weather. Light materials and light colors paired with simple silhouettes make each of these five picks worth wearing for that next sundress encounter; for summer mood optimization, we’ve paired an accompanying soundtrack to each of our picks.
To and From, safely and in style
If you’re thinking about joining the bike commuter set, you’ll need the essentials: bike, helmet, lights, lock and a handsome leather wine bottle carrier. We’ve got it all in this Kit, plus much more.
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.
Ripped from the dash
Our last look at Italian watch company CT Scuderia involved marveling at their race timer-inspired Corsa, which takes its design cues from vintage racing stopwatches. We’re just as enamored by their new Dashboard series ($1,495+) of automatic watches, another vintage-inspired collection; this time the muse is vintage speedometers.
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.
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.
Taking the Alpha Out of Beta
Can a piece of luggage have a successor? Tumi, the venerable brand practically synonymous with domestic airports, believes it can with the release of the Alpha 2. The carry-on/check-in sequel incorporates a slew of improvements — ranging from overdue to practically invisible — in the gangbusters popular flagship line. Across its 30 improvements, the Alpha 2 boasts an impressive 14 patents. To test its mettle, we made our way to the Alpha 2’s arena: airports.
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.
Special Watches Under $1000
It’s easy to become numb to the incredible prices of fine watches. But being a watch enthusiast doesn’t mean choosing between a good watch and a decent used car. By looking in the right places, you can avoid bland fashion watches in favor of well-made, unique timepieces that scratch the watch nerd itch while protecting your post-college pledge to never subsist on ramen noodles again. Here are a few examples of what can be found for less than $1,000.
If the Rolex Submariner is the most famous dive watch, then the Rolex Military Submariner, or MilSub, is the most famous military-issued dive watch. What is now a highly sought after piece of watch history — and one of the rarest collector’s watches ever — was once merely Ministry of Defense (MOD) standard issue equipment.
Shimmering a shade of blue clearly inspired by Caribbean waters, the Halios Tropik SS ($650) on my left wrist appears candy coated, looking infinitely more confident than I feel. A quick test of my regulator complete, I twist the Tropik’s unidirectional ceramic bezel to mark the beginning of this, my first real dive. I’m in the tropics to test this purpose-built diver on its home court.
Old School Cool
One of the hottest trends in the watch world is vintage-inspired style, particularly from the colorful chronographs of the 1970s. Instead of bucking the trend with modernism, many brands have been going with the retro flow, releasing altogether new watches with vintage looks, and reviving some of their old references. Today we take a look at two eye-catching chronographs — in two very different price brackets — that could have very well made it here by way of a time-traveling DeLorean.
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.
Have it your way
Martenero is an affordable new brand based in New York. Founders John Tarantino and Matt O’Dowd met several years back in a chance encounter on a street corner in Madrid, Spain. A friendship followed, and so did a watch brand.
Dress to Impress
You have a job interview. Or maybe it’s a wedding. Either way, you need to pack a suit. Unfortunately, they’re not the easiest things to fold — not well, anyways. Any schlub can throw one in a bag, but keeping it wrinkle-free requires a little extra work. Sure, it’s a hassle. So is tying a double windsor knot. But if you want to keep a prospective employer (or the cute redhead at the reception) focused on something other than wrinkles, it’s a hassle that you’re going to have to own. Stay crisp and professional with these simple steps.
SET IT AND FORGET IT
Back in 1983, the first Swatch quartz watch had 51 components. For a 30th anniversary celebratory piece, Swatch took up the challenge to make a mechanical watch with the same number of parts. This is the Swatch Sistem51, a revolution in mechanical watches that hasn’t yet come to American shores. We recently got our hands on one.
Up or Down, it's high art
The LM1 Xia Hang, which gains its surname from Xia Hang, a Chinese artist known for his “comma men”, is a high-art version of an already high-art watch: the MB&F LM1, a beautiful timepiece that takes classic pocket watch characteristics and adds 21st century — hell, even 22nd century — twists.
The award-winning De Bethune DB28 has seen over a dozen variations added to its family tree — and this year at Basel, the DB28 Digitale will be yet another. It’s essentially the ultimate combination of minimalist appearance and jam-packed innovation.