Autodromo, the automotive-inspired watch (and sunglasses, and driving glove) brand, pays tribute to the great chronographs and the innovative cars of the 1960s and early 1970s with its new Prototipo ($625). We break down the Vic Elford Special Edition.
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.
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).
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.
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.
10 Top-Notch Watches that Won't Break the Bank
When building anything, one must begin with strong foundation. A watch collection is no different. While anyone, given the choice, would undoubtedly begin and end with only finest examples of haute horological hardware, we can’t all justify blowing junior’s college and post-grad funds on something small and shiny. A conservative budget should not dissuade wide-eyed complication connoisseurs however: there are many excellent mechanical options available for the budding collector. We’ve selected ten rock solid options, both vintage and new, that would proudly produce any one-percenter’s tan line. So get started. Junior will thank you — it’s his heirloom, anyhow.
In 1969 Omega released a handwound chrono in a strange shield-shaped case that had the pushers and crown on top of the watch. This so-called “bullhead” style was originally developed earlier for race car drivers, who wanted easier activation of the chronograph and minimal pusher interference. OMEGA, never one to shy away from a historical reference, has just released a limited re-edition of the Seamaster Bullhead Chronograph ($9,600) — albeit one updated with modern features.
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’ve found a vintage Cold War-era military chronograph and a modern one that has the same milspec look.
The SR-71 “Blackbird” reigns supreme as the highest and fastest-flying plane ever built. And we mean reigns: 32 of these pitch black wonders have patrolled the skies above hot spots for over 40 years. To honor this achievement in aeronautics, Bell & Ross is releasing the limited edition BR 126 Blackbird ($6,700), and it’s a worthy, interesting tribute.
CALLING ALL FLYING ACES
The Longines Avigation Oversize Crown Chronograph ($3,500) was modeled after a watch built for pilots inhabiting a cold, drafty, post-WWI cockpit. Thanks to timeless design and a few key updates, though, it works just as well during the cold, drafty days of this year’s autumn.
The Mechanical Watch is Dead -- Long Live the Mechanical Watch
It’s 1981. The Quartz crisis is in full swing. You’re a thirty-something watchmaker, trained in the old-school ways of repairing mechanical watches. But, along with numerous other watchmakers in this horological downturn, you’ve just lost your position with one of the biggest names in the chronograph world because you know nothing about quartz movements.
What do you do?
If you’re Gerd-Rüdiger Lang, you start a watch company. A mechanical watch company.
Lanyard not included
Racing-inspired timepieces are plentiful these days. While wrist-worn chronographs have done the trick for decades, the more common instrument in the paddocks, pits and grandstands during the golden age of racing were hand-held stopwatches, chunky steel timers with oversized buttons for precise stops, starts and resets that were often worn around the neck on a lanyard. Young Italian brand CT Scuderia chose these track-day tools as inspiration for their timepieces, including the Corsa ($1,295).
Uncomplicated, for your wallet
Watches that simply tell time are a dime a dozen, and sometimes close to a dozen a dime. But start adding more functions and things can get complicated — and expensive. While we’re just starting to forgive the quartz watch for dealing a near death blow to our beloved mechanical timepieces, there’s no denying that when you want more bang for the buck, battery power is the way to go. You’ll pay dearly for dual time zones, flybacks, alarms and tide trackers on the mechanical side of the fence, but if you’re willing to put up with a tick-tick-tick seconds hand, we’ve found five watches that are happy to complicate your life for under (or around) five hundred dollars.
Three top chronographs go head to head
The popularity and prevalence of chronographs might just make one think that it is an easy watch complication. Everyone from Hamilton and Tissot on up the line to the loftier likes of Patek and Lange & Söhne have one in their lineups. 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.
Newman or Everyman?
Today we’ve got a vintage version of “Want This, Get This”, and its timing couldn’t be better. 2013 is the convergence of two important events in the watch world: it is the 50th anniversary of the Rolex Daytona and also the year in which Tudor makes its American market comeback. One is virtually unattainable to mere mortals and one will give you the same look and Rolex pedigree without having to mortgage your home.
A Complicated Beauty
We’ll never own a watch like the A. Lange & Söhne Double Split, the world’s only mechanical split seconds and split minutes chronograph. Not many people will. But just wearing it for a month was a privilege, like taking a lap in a vintage Aston Martin DBR or sipping a dram of 1962 Macallan. To try to distill down its essence to a mere hands-on review seems almost blasphemous. So we won’t. This is a watch to be gazed on and lingered over. Enjoy the photos.
An Enigma -- no, seriously
The boys at Bremont have done it again, this time with their limited edition Codebreaker ($18,700 in steel), honoring the UK’s Government Code and Cipher School (GC & CS) at Bletchley Park. As with their previous limited edition pieces (like the HMS Victory and the P-51), Bremont co-founders Giles and Nick English weren’t content to merely limit production and slap a number on the case back.
From Geneva with Love
Patek Philippe has a well-earned reputation as one of the premiere watch manufactures in the world, and their recent exhibition in New York City underscored this fact with what can only be described as a shock-and-awe campaign of stunning effectiveness. We would know — we were there. Read on for our photo essay of the event.
Go Speed Racer
Heuer’s venerable chronograph has an up-and-down history, but 2013 sees a triumphant 50th anniversary of the Carrera name. The limited edition Carrera Monaco Grand Prix ($5,600 on rubber) is one example of the new breed of TAG Heuer Carrera, a chronograph that looks back on its first half-century but is more than ready to face the next one. We got our hands on one.
An enigma wrapped in a riddle inside of a mystery
Today, the Daytona is one of Rolex’s most popular models, and no one is surprised when a rare vintage model achieves a half-million dollar hammer price at auction. This is ironic, because not that long ago, Rolex dealers could hardly give these models away. It’s not too often that a watch goes from a sales dud to a piece for which people will wait years (just for the honor of paying full retail price), but that’s what makes the Daytona such a fascinating story.
Itchy trigger fingers, apply here
The Graham Chronofighter Oversize ($6,900) is the latest offering from a brand that has long caught our eye. It’s a watch decked out with unique dial layouts, applied sub-dial magnifier portals that look like they’re straight out of a Jules Verne novel, an imposing size… and then there’s the trigger.
Number 1 on the runway
If you’re like us, you have a long list of watches you’d love to own. The 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? Want This, Get This presents a lustworthy timepiece along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch.
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.
We’ve always had a love for the timepieces of Victorinox Swiss Army, so a new limited edition version of the Victorinox Swiss Army 1989 Original Chronograph ($495), the first watch they ever made, really tugs at the heartstrings.
Doppel the fun
Last year HABRING² — a small Austrian independent brand spearheaded by Richard Habring, creator of the Valjoux 7750-based rattrapante complication for IWC — won the Sports Watch of the Year award from the Grand Prix d’ Horlogerie de Genève for its Doppel 2.0. Not content to rest on his laurels, Habring’s upped the ante with the Doppel 3 (~$8,800), a limited-production gem.
A workout for your fingers? Worth it
We’ve been watching New Zealand niche watchmaker Magrette since the 2008 release of their Panerai homage, the Regattare. Founder and designer Dion Wynyard McAsey based the brand on his love for watches, design background and passion for his home country. Since the company’s founding, he’s released a host of beautiful watches, many at affordable prices with the kind of quality that makes a name in this very competitive industry. One of his newest releases, the Moana Pacific Chronograph PVD, is a wonderful example of solid components, great design and affordability.
From the deck to the desk
The history of maritime exploration and discovery would read a lot differently without the advent of the marine chronometer. Prior to its development, ships hung close to familiar coastlines; when they ventured further out to sea, sailors had to rely on celestial navigation and plain dumb luck to get where they wanted without crashing on…