When it comes to dive watches, many immediately think of iconic Swiss watches like the Rolex Submariner and the Blancpain Fifty-Fathoms. Of course, the story doesn’t stop here. In fact, there’s another country that can credibly lay claim to a long and storied history with the dive watch: Japan. If you need evidence of Japan’s dive watch prowess (or just a road map to buying yourself one), read on.
CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN
The new Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Altichron ($638) is a wild upgrade over the original that launched the Citizen Promaster series in 1989. The new piece has appropriate updates for the new millenium — color, size, Citizen’s Eco-Drive tech — but it continues the tradition of looking (and proving itself) every millimeter a tool watch. We break it down.
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. Today we present two vintage style, military-inspired chronographs, one that gets it right and the other that goes one better — for one tenth the price.
Most Japanese dive watches are the best suited for real-world use. Their simple movements have legendary durability, even if they aren’t the most accurate. Designs that forgo adornment in favor of readability and functionality win out over fancy locking bezels, helium release valves and shiny slim hands. Of course, their affordability makes them not only more accessible to divemasters that live on tip money, but also more bearable should they be lost of broken.
In short, if you want a real dive watch, look to Land of the Rising Sun. We recently did just that, procuring three of Japan’s best dive watches representing different brands, styles and price points for a real-world shootout below the waves in the Caribbean.
Get more time on the clock
Greed is good, says Gordon Gecko. A strong businessman, to put it lightly, though we won’t get into his ethics. Not everyone agrees with his motto on the money front, but certainly every one of us is greedy as hell about two other things: time and convenience. With that in mind, the Qualcomm Toq, a smart watch that is in many ways the most clever offering on the market, aims to make you more efficient through a plethora of useful apps and a build, design and aesthetic you can count on.
Lewis Hine Visits Lancaster, Pennsylvania circa 1936
Today, the once great Hamilton Watch Company factory in Lancaster, Pennsylvania is an apartment complex. But these photos from Depression-era photographer Lewis Hine show the halcyon days at Hamilton, when even during our nation’s lowest days, American watchmaking kept people working and a country on time.
A grand vision and a noble idea
A century or more ago, watchmaking in the United States was the equal of any in the world. Unfortunately, in the intervening years that industry has largely gone away. Yet there are those who would like to see the industry and its uniquely American timepieces return, people who believe “Made in the USA” should be a label as valuable — and meaningful — on a watch dial as “Swiss Made” is today. Could such a thing happen?
Strapped for time
Whether or not you know exactly what a NATO strap is, you’ve definitely seen one. A trend item that has aggressively taken hold of the watch industry, NATOs can be found on just about any watch, from $35 Timex Weekenders to $7,000 Rolex Submariners to $50,000 Patek Philippes. While the straps have become fairly ubiquitous, their origin can be traced back to a single point in history — and it has nothing to do with NATO forces.
Since some press photos leaked from across the pond a couple of weeks ago, the online watch community has been buzzing about the next generation of IWC Schaffhausen’s Aquatimer dive watch family, which will be formally introduced in a couple of weeks at the Salon Internationale Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva. With this year’s refresh of the Aquatimer, IWC seems to have listened to some of its customers’ opinions, but also took a new approach, bringing back the internal timing ring, with a new (ahem) twist.
Dress diver par excellence
If the best dive watches tell a story or transport us to a different place, then the D-Star 200 Chronograph ($4,300), with its cool steel case and shimmering blue dial, conjures images of perhaps a teak-decked yacht, the Mediterranean, a cocktail in hand and boat shoes on the feet. This is a watch that does retro right.
Bletchley Park — sound vaguely familiar? During WWII it was a secret compound full of cryptanalysts just outside London where the encoded messages that communicated the movements of the Nazi U-boat fleet were decoded using human and mechanical intelligence. The important but largely unsung work done at Bletchley is said to have shortened the war by two years and saved countless lives. It’s this work, and place, that the Bremont Codebreaker seeks to honor. We break down this unique and historically rooted timepiece.
From Fighter Pilot to Armchair Pilot
For those of us stuck in an office instead of a fighter jet cockpit, a watch inspired by aircraft instruments can be the perfect way to scratch the cool readout itch. While Bell & Ross was arguably the first brand to introduce this genre, their price tags are of the type to bloat the defense budget; we’ve found an alternative that can help you decrease your own personal deficit.
It's That Time
We picked a good year to formally launch Gear Patrol’s Timekeeping series. We’ve never strived to make it the place for breaking watch news or regurgitated press releases, nor do we limit ourselves to talking about the most prestigious brands. We prefer to cover the horological world that appeals to us — watches as gear for life’s adventures, whether they be rough or genteel. 2013 was the year we rolled out this new vision, and we’re on to something…
Is there a more appropriate topic to base a retrospective around than timepieces? Okay, yes, maybe a modified Delorean, but that was a rhetorical question anyhow. Few men’s accessories — indeed, few items a man could own — say more about their owner than a watch, and it’s been that way for centuries. To help…
Hungry Like the Wolf
Immorality? Regulation? Terrible ties? Ah, the early 90s. Whether you recall that fateful turn of the decade where the 80s blindly roared into the 90s as a style doldrum (gaping pinstripes and questionable patterns) or a blind, no-holds-barred epoch (let’s do lunch!), there’s no questioning that Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street will smash into theaters this Christmas with boom-time style.
In anticipation, we’ve put together a big-money style guide inspired by a few memorable scenes to commemorate Scorsese’s nearly three-hour celluloid tribute to the infamous “Wolfpack”. The 90s may have lacked style, but it’s hard to say we don’t miss it, just a bit. Fuckin’ a.
Always Be Closing
The present state of business prizes efficiency above all else: large outputs from small teams, multitasking, checking email while jogging, jogging while conference calling, working vacations. In this paradigm a leisurely lunch gums up the works. But the reality is that a face-to-face over charred ribeyes and bone-dry martinis can replace a week’s worth of email exchanges. One good single-pump handshake and a knowing smile is good for a billion retweets. The power lunch, like the double-breasted suit, is not back: it never went away. To do it right you’ll need a few accoutrements, which you’ll find right here. We’ll see you at Dorsia.
You can't be too rich or too thin
In celebration of its upcoming 140th anniversary in 2014, Piaget recently announced the upcoming release of its new Altiplano 900P (~$20,000). True to Piaget’s ultra-thin form, the hand-wound 900P has set another record: it’s the thinnest mechanical watch ever made. We break down this incredibly slender timepiece.
Deep and Deeper
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. With IWC’s Aquatimer due for a refresh at January’s SIHH, we bid it farewell alongside a lookalike, the Steinhart Ocean Two, which costs a tenth of the price.
Pioneering Made-in-America Watchmaker
Stories follow Michael Kobold everywhere. The founder of Kobold Watches, which declares that its watches are “conceived, designed, assembled and tested in USA from domestic and imported components”, has turned his immodest passion for timepieces into a successful business and made relationships with great men — Ranulph Fiennes, Gerd-Ruediger Lang, the late James Gandolfini — along the way. We were lucky enough to catch up with him recently to hear some tales and catch up on his blooming horological business.
An Old-School Debate on the Beloved Brand
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.