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.
Adventure-ready multifunction watches
Mechanical diver’s and pilot’s watches may have been indispensable instruments for explorers in decades past, but nowadays, state-of-the-art wristwatches have shifted toward lightweight, battery-powered and largely digital pieces. These are wrist-top computers, designed for wear during mountaineering, skiing, sailing, surfing and flying. We rounded up six of the best for your next adventures.
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…
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.
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.
Size doesn't matter
Big watches still rule the timepiece landscape, but, like dinosaurs and SUVs, their days may be numbered. Much to the relief of small arms (and those who don’t need to compensate with their wristwear), a growing crop of reasonably sized watches are popping up. While 40mm would have been considered gargantuan 40 years ago, nowadays it suits most wrists well and looks appropriate with a variety of apparel. Here are our favorite six watches with diameters at or below 40 millimeters. Big watches, watch out.
The Pilot's Pilot Watch
When he was asked about the prominent bit of bling (or “B’ling”) on his wrist, a former test pilot for the U.S. Air Force replied, “I need a Navitimer so I can do my calculations!” That brief anecdote may tell you something about how the Breitling Navitimer is viewed by the guys who fly jets for a living. The bit about calculations would be in reference to the Navitimer’s most recognizable feature, the “navigation computer” — a circular slide rule located on the rotating bezel that a pilot can use to handle all the calculations they need to make when planning a flight. We examine the pilot’s watch.
While haute horlogerie is all about insane complications these days, even basic mechanicals are lots of fun when we get to peek under the hood. But quartz watches? They give one the feeling of an absolute black box: no clue what goes on in there.
So sure, we’d rather go mechanical, but to overlook quartz watches is to ignore unique performance and a form-follows-function vibe in some pretty cool purpose-built watches. Quartz timepieces are, by their very nature, more accurate and often more comfortable to wear than their mechanical forebears. Sometimes those traits are welcome, like when you’re swinging a golf club, marching into battle or just lifting a cold one on a hot afternoon. We take a look at a few electromechanical beasts that would add some much-needed variety to your watch box.
Calling All Top Guns
Pilots are daring. They wear cool clothes. They have sunglasses that are named after their profession. If you fit the mold — or even if you don’t — no one will blame you for some “finest form of flattery”, and a pilot’s watch is an excellent way to do it. In this week’s Want This, Get This, we compare two prime examples: the Breitling Navitimer 01 and the Sinn 903 St.
We Have All the Time in the World
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.
Time to Drive
Wheels and gears, second hands and tach needles, power trains and power reserves. Men have always been fascinated by time, speed, accuracy and power — and the beautiful combination of high-end timepieces and exotic roadgoing automobiles captures these obsessions appropriately. And whether the watch of choice is used to measure lap splits or to simply echo the same kind of quality and heritage as his car, you can be assured that careful time was taken to select both. We match up some of the best in timekeeping and automobilia in Gear Patrol style.
This is not a toy
“WARNING: Use Only In Case of Real Emergency.” These words are engraved on the caseback of the new Breitling Emergency 2, and you’d better take heed. Pull out the antenna to impress your buddies at your backyard barbecue and two things will happen: (1) a helicopter will land on your patio, and (2) you’ll pay an unpleasant fine for setting off a false search and rescue mission. We break down the watch that will save your life.
Rising to the top
Another BaselWorld is in the books. Journalists, retailers and watch nerds alike are retreating as we speak to their blogs, stores and web forums to debate who the winners, the losers, the biggest surprises and the biggest disappointments were at this year’s show. Of course, all of the hype surrounding the biggest watch event on the planet is a sign of the times. Watches have become big business, and the launch of a new OMEGA or TAG Heuer attracts the same buzz as a new U2 album or Bond film. Watches are cooler now than they’ve ever been.
Our intrepid band of watch experts has elbowed past the hype and tirelessly pored over the onslaught of new watches shown this past week to distill a list of the most interesting, groundbreaking and just plain sexiest new timepieces of BaselWorld 2013.
Breitling Emergency II The built-in personal locator beacon in the Emergency II uses a dual frequency transmitter to communicate with satellites, making your watch (and everything attached to it) easy to track down in case of an emergency. A rechargeable battery means you can explore corners of the Earth unfettered by Radio Shacks and without…
Mad for mid-century
it’s not just the incredible storytelling that’s so appealing about Mad Men. It’s the style and setting narratives that relive a fabled American decade. Tailored suits and bespoke dresses. Cigarettes. Colors. The Rolling Stones and Beatles. More cigarettes. And the subtle dress watch. We round up 5 stunning watches from the American mid-century in celebration of the season 6 premiere.
PICK IT UP BY MIDNIGHT
The Breitling for Bentley Light Body Midnight Carbon ($12,045) may have been crafted for the eminent car company, but it could just as easily have been made for the Dark Knight.
In Too Deep
Editors Note: If you’re like us, you have a long list of watches you’d love to own. Watch companies maintain a continuous flow of tantalizing images of their new creations, the Web is rife with chronic watch flippers offering good deals on minty timepieces, and suddenly that watch you’re wearing is starting to look a little rough around the edges. Time for an upgrade. But reality steps in, along with bank accounts and eagle-eyed spouses, and your watch love remains unrequited. What’s a guy to do? Gear Patrol’s new series, Want This, Get This, presents a lust-worthy timepiece along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch.
12 gifts for the adventure seeker
He shows up at Christmas dinner with new scars and less digits from his latest cage dives and winter Alpine ascents. His tales, most of them true, scare Aunt Betty to tears and enchant the kids. And while the adventurer’s gifts for you usually amount to a carved tribal trinket or a rock from a…
Know your movements
When most people start getting interested in timepieces, the first thing that usually attracts them is the appearance. A distinctive dial, a unique case shape, even a nice strap can draw in the uninitiated. Then they notice watches whose hands sweep smoothly, driven by springs and gears versus the tick-tick that gives away battery driven…
Time to orbit
With the recent success of Space X Dragon, the first private spacecraft to launch and connect with the international space station, there’s been a renewed attention to aeronautics and space travel. 50 years ago and for only the second time in history, astronaut Scott Carpenter strapped on a Breitling Navitimer chronograph and orbited the earth…
‘Tis the season for wishes and we bet that a lot of Gear Patrol readers have a new watch on their Christmas lists. We do, too, so we rounded up ten of the most exciting and gift-worthy timepieces of the year for you to add to yours. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice is between…
New Movement, New Status
By Gear Patrol Reader Jason Pitsch: Breitling recently launched their new Chronomat B01. Announced prior to Baselworld, this chronograph features Breitling’s first 100% in-house movement; Not only is the watch an outstanding timepiece, but the integration of Breitling’s new movement is a huge accomplishment, vaulting the company into the elite ranks of true manufacturers.
Based on the ‘Avenger’ Platform, the Skyland is a rugged watch with a sophisticated aesthetic we’ve come to expect from Breitling. Features: Breitling Caliber 13 Self-winding Movement Screwlocked Crown Glareproof Sapphire Crystal Shock Resistant Water Resistant to 1000 feet Stencil Numerals What this means to you: We still want to find the limited series “Blacksteel”…