You wouldn’t think there’d be a lot to get hot and bothered about when it comes to antiquated and genteel timepieces. But just visit any of the countless web forums dedicated to this crazy hobby and you’ll see debates raging that would make even Presidential hopefuls blush. Today we present two sides to the divisive argument that the International Watch Company (IWC) has somehow sold out or lost its way. How better to address the issue than an old-school-style debate?
SOS for Less
If you’re like us, you have a long list of watches you’d love to own. But reality (almost) always steps in, and your desires remain unfulfilled. Gear Patrol’s series Want This, Get This presents a lust-worthy timepiece along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch. This week, we offer two very different ways to save your skin.
Out of the mall, under the sea
The Fossil name usually elicits sneers and scorn from watch cognoscenti as an emblem for shopping mall fashion dreck. But Fossil has quietly upped its game with a small line of Swiss-made watches, not to mention being behind the latest darling of the American watch scene, Shinola. Then, out of nowhere this year came the Breaker, a limited-edition dive watch that will make even the most cynical watch geek look twice.
(Half) The World on Your Wrist
On the more affordable end of the scale, Montblanc is best known for its Timewalker collection, a set of modern sports watches that features chronographs, time-only pieces and GMTs. This year saw the introduction of the Timewalker Hemispheres ($4,900), a world time watch that was instantly one of our surprise favorites in Geneva. We recently got our hands on one for a spin around the world.
TELLIN’ TIME, WESTERN STYLE
In case you hadn’t noticed, fly fishing hasn’t gone away since its A River Runs Through It phase. Besides the fresh air, gorgeous scenery and Zen-like calm that comes from a perfect cast, there’s all the cool gear: rods, vests, boots, all made especially for the angler. It was only a matter of time before someone made a fly fishing watch, and this is it: the Montana Watch Company’s BFW-3 ($19,575), part of their Bridger Field Watch line.
Easy to Fathom
Gear Patrol’s series “Want This, Get This” presents a lust-worthy timepiece along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch. This week, we feature the forebear of all modern dive watches and a young upstart that still holds its own.
Arguably First, Undeniably Great
Imagine a time before quartz watches, when the technology of timekeeping was still springs and gears made in workshops in the Swiss mountains. While the Americans and Russians were racing to put men into space, a different sort of race was going on between watch companies sprinting toward the milestone of the first self-winding, or automatic, chronograph. No matter how you frame the discussion, the debate over who created the first automatic chronograph is a heated one. One path to clearing confusion is to say that Zenith produced the very first Swiss-made, fully integrated automatic chronograph — the El Primero.
The clock is ticking
In staff meetings, he’s the one who always volunteers to be the timekeeper. On road trips, he insists on navigating with a sextant and chronometer. He wears a watch to bed and wakes his wife up at 2 a.m. to show off the SuperLuminova. You know this guy. He’s got a different watch for every day of the week. What could you possibly get him that he doesn’t already have? We’ve got you covered with the 12 gifts for the horologist in your life.
Put Your Hands Together
There are certain events in the watch industry calendar you can count on like clockwork. The beginning of the year sees the big fairs where new watches are introduced; as winter approaches, the awards are handed out to the best of the best. Last week the prestigious GPHG (“Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève”) awards, which honor the most innovative, beautifully designed and important watches in a given calendar year, were announced in Geneva. Several of this year’s winners were timepieces we’ve covered — and two of our own GP100 winners also took home trophies, including the grand prize. Coincidence? Depends who you’re asking.
PRECISE TO WITHIN A GNAT’S EYEBROW
We know you competitive types. For timing grocery runs down to a thousandth of a second, the Bulova Precisionist Chronograph ($799) is one of the most impressive timepieces out there. More specifically, the Precisionist is one of the most accurate watches that doesn’t receive regular timing signals from a remote atomic clock. We break it down.
If you’re a watch nerd, you might recognize the name Carl Evans. He’s the brains (and hands) behind British boutique watch strap brand GasGasBones. Like watch obsessives everywhere, Carl has dreamt for years of creating his own brand of watches. This year he’s finally done something about it. Informed by his 24 years of service in the Royal Air Force, Evans’s first release is a convincing pilot’s chronograph, the 6B MK1 ($2575).
36 gifts for the well-dressed gent
If you’re a stylish gent, you’re acutely aware of each seasonal shift. Spring affords chances to wear lighter, refreshed colors; summer is time for light material and sunglasses; autumn means breaking out a chunky cardigan. But it’s winter when a man can truly shine. He can layer. He can sport rich fabrics and hulking boots, overcoats and purposeful accessories. When there is such a wide, deep array of options in the winter wardrobe world, what exactly do you give the man who lives stylishly? We’re here to turn that dilemma into fruitful present curation. So brew up some nog, get out the wrapping paper (even if you’re giving to yourself) and check out our top picks in these important categories of winter style for the well dressed man.
Thomas Mercer recently released the limited edition (25 pieces) Thomas Mercer Legacy Shackleton Epic ($139,000) marine chronometer to commemorate the centennial of Shackleton’s 1914-1916 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Specifically, the Legacy acknowledges what is widely acknowledged as the greatest small-boat journey ever accomplished: the voyage of the 22.5-foot James Caird across 800 nautical miles of the nastiest water on the planet.
Nothing short of impervious
In recent years, watchmaking materials have improved to the point where many Swiss-made mechanical watches meet minimum anti-magnetic standards. But that’s not good enough for us; we’re bringing you six of the most badass anti-magnetic watches on the market. Each has the same magnetic field resistance, 80,000 A/m (well above the minimum standard), except for Omega’s offering, which…well, it puts the other timepieces’ resistances to shame. Now, go forth and fear no refrigerator magnets.
The Ingenieur Chronograph Silberpfeil is a direct homage to the famous Mercedes-Benz W25 Silver Arrow that dominated motorsports between the World Wars. These cars were monsters, with oversized spoked rims and massive straight-cylinder engines barely sheathed in metal. The watch’s dial sports the same circular-grained aluminum treatment as the Silver Arrows’ dashboards, and the caseback has an engraved likeness of the car itself. But enough about the watch. This year, a restored Silberpfeil took part in the famous Klausen Hill Climb race in Switzerland — and this video takes us along for the ride.
For watch lovers, a fresh scratch on an otherwise flawless crystal is a devastating sight. The feeling can be even worse on a brand new watch, or one that just returned from servicing. But before you send your tainted timepiece back for a crystal replacement, you may want to consider a home remedy. First you need to determine what can be done — and that depends on the type of crystal you’ve scratched. Read on for our full guide.
Hertz So Good
While we could list fascinating mechanisms devised by ingenious watchmakers ’til the cows come home, there’s one particular complication that’s rarely mentioned: dead seconds, where the second hand advances in increments of a whole second rather than a half or a quarter of a second. The Grönefeld One Hertz ($40,659+) accomplishes the dead seconds complication in a way that’s never been done before. To Grönefeld, this was a challenge, one that they decidedly nailed with the One Hertz.
Sailing timepieces are, despite their obscure use and narrow target market, very popular these days. Yet few are truly useful to a skipper angling for the starting buoy in a regatta — most are simple chronographs gussied up with some nautical colorways and branding. Officine Panerai knows a thing or two about sailing, having been a very active sponsor of a classic yacht regatta series for the past decade. So it comes as no surprise that when the brand released its first purpose-built regatta timer, the Luminor 1950 Regatta 3 Days Chrono Flyback Titanio ($18,600), they got it exactly right.
Worth far better than third place
Bronze has been around almost as long as horology: finding form in weaponry and decorations at the same time water clocks first appeared (4000 BCE), it’s mankind’s oldest alloy. Concocted in varying combinations of copper and tin, bronze can pack a Vickers hardness rating higher than that of wrought iron and stainless steel combined, and is also anti-magnetic and resistant to the corrosion caused by seawater.These characteristics, along with its ability to stand out in the seas of stainless-steel wristwear, make it an ideal alloy for your wrist.
A Sistematic Takeover
The Swatch Sistem51 ($110-$220), so-named because there are fifty-one pieces in the movement, is quite simply a revolutionary timepiece. So revolutionary, in fact, that it may put an end to watch manufacturing as we know it and bring the mechanical timepiece to the masses.
It’s not often that a timepiece takes full advantage of the laws of modern physics, optics, and spherical geometry — which, when you think about it, is an odd combination to even address in a timepiece. But the Ressence Type 3 ($34,600) is just such a piece, giving scientists and engineers everywhere a reason to stare.
It’s difficult to re-invent a classic. A brand tinkers with an icon at its peril, risking inflaming die-hard fans and losing hard-won prestige. Just look at OMEGA with the vaunted Speedmaster. Everyone will agree that the Moonwatch — the Speedmaster Professional — is still the one to own, and that OMEGA has been wise to not meddle with it since 1969. But if there’s one modern Speedmaster that represents a “a giant leap” for OMEGA, it’s the new Dark Side of the Moon ($12,000) thanks to its use of an aerospace material and perhaps the finest automatic chronograph movement around.
Time For Innovation
Since the invention of the timepiece itself, the issue of decreasing mainspring torque has tormented watch- and clockmakers. As the spring gives up its coiled power, its strength diminishes little by little, causing irregularity in the oscillations of the regulating organ and undermining the watch’s precision. The revolutionary Girard-Perregaux Constant Escapement ($100,000) solves this age-old problem by making use of a mix of high-tech materials and watchmaking ingenuity — with a design inspired by the flicking of a train ticket.
If you need a rugged, no-nonsense chronograph as part of your next mission kit, the new Tutima M2 (~$8000), to be released in early 2014, is it. The M2 is an update of Tutima’s venerable NATO Military Chronograph; the previous generation watch, called the NATO because it was standard issue for all NATO pilots, was outfitted with Lémania’s legendary but discontinued Caliber 5100. Tutima has preserved the 5100′s distinguishing feature, an easily legible sweep chronograph minutes hand, in their new Caliber 321.
Bauhaus and In-house
If you’re like us, you have a long list of watches you’d love to own. But reality (almost) always steps in, and your desires remain unfulfilled. Gear Patrol’s series “Want This, Get This” presents a lust-worthy timepiece along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch. This week, we’re celebrating German reunification and the Bauhaus design movement with two Teutonic tickers: the NOMOS Tangente and the Stowa Antea KS.
Rolex's Hip Kid Brother
The biggest news in the watch industry these days is Rolex sub-brand Tudor’s return to the U.S. marketplace after an absence of almost 14 years. While the reasons for their departure and return can be debated, it’s crystal clear that Tudor’s been consistently knocking things out of the park since the debut of their vintage-inspired Heritage Chronograph in 2010. This year Tudor returned to the Heritage Chronograph and made it over in the vein of of their vaunted 1973 Monte Carlo chronograph. The end result is a stunning piece of horological architecture and the birth of a modern-day classic: behold the Tudor Heritage Chronograph Blue ($4,425).
When it hits the fan
There are tool watches, and then there is the Breitling Emergency ($15,750), which can do no less than save your hide when the unexpected happens. The new Emergency is the first wristwatch to be officially certified as a Personal Locator Beacon, a function that may just be the most useful complication of all.
Made in Detroit
When Shinola started making watches under the venerable shoe polish brand in near-bankrupt Detroit, everyone seemed to be thinking “What the hell…?” Since then, Shinola has proudly yelled to the world that American manufacturing isn’t dead, even in a town that seems decidedly deceased. The Runwell ($550), Shinola’s flagship timepiece, is a growing family of watches with a workman air. A bit industrial, a bit old-timey American pocket watch, the Runwell comes in two sizes (41mm and 47mm) and gives the distinct impression that the guy wearing it would bloody your nose for making a wisecrack either about his girl or American manufacturing.
While the A. Lange & Söhne Grand Complication is not the most complicated timepiece ever made, it’s the most complicated timepiece ever manufactured by A. Lange & Söhne, and arguably the most challenging ever attempted by any brand. It took Lange seven years to develop the watch’s L1902 movement, which features a sonnerie (chiming mechanism) with grand and small strike, a minute repeater, a mono-pusher rattrapante (split-seconds: a complication within a complication) chronograph with minute counter and flying seconds (it indicates fractions of a second in a sub-dial of its own: another complication within a complication), a perpetual calendar with date, day of week, and month in four-year cycle, and a moon phase.