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
Best of Show
Every year we come away from Salon International Haute Horlogerie, the world’s most prestigious watch show, feeling privileged and awed. This year was no different. The competitive environment of the show, the electric vibe among the attendees and the enthusiasm of brand reps and watchmakers showing off their new creations make the Palexpo in Geneva a wonderful place every January.
After we’ve returned home and slept off the jetlag, we like to poll our team of Timekeeping contributors for their picks from the preceding week. So with our further ado, here are our favorite watches of SIHH 2014.
From Geneva with Love
This time of year, the horological universe revolves around the Palexpo center in Geneva. It’s SIHH — the Salon International Haute Horlogerie, where the watch brands under the Richemont Luxury Group umbrella (and a couple of outlying independents) convene to display their wares in elaborate and opulent “booths” that defy that pedestrian name. Journalists and retailers from around the world descend on Geneva to jostle for first looks at the latest and greatest creations from legendary maisons like Jaeger-LeCoultre, A. Lange & Sohne and Audemars Piguet. Follow our man on the ground, Jason Heaton, as he sends in the latest horological news every half hour.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Cue the tiny violins
IWC is thoroughly Swiss and proud of it. So proud, in fact, that they’ve put together a little video in honor of Switzerland’s national holiday, which falls on August 1st, with a team of watchmakers playing the Swiss national anthem on suitably sized instruments. The conductor of the group is none other than Kurt Klaus, appropriately a national treasure and designer of some of IWC’s greatest complicated timepieces. Happy National Day, Switzerland, and keep the great timepieces coming!
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.
What’s a nearly broke watch collector in love with the IWC Ingenieur Automatic to do? In this week’s Want This, Get This, we searched for an affordable alternative — and found one in the Christopher Ward C20 Lido.
IWC’s Ingenieur is as steeped in history as any watch. First seen in 1954, and designed as both a general-purpose sport watch and for scientists who worked with strong electromagnetic fields — hence the name, “engineers” in French — it reflected a growing trend towards robustness, which was already driving the popularity of the still-nascent diving watch. We break down the reference 3239 Ingenieur Automatic, our favorite of the bunch.
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.
It Was the Best of Times
Nothing helps shake off the doldrums of mid-winter like a visit to Geneva for the annual Salon International Haute Horlogerie. For the uninformed, SIHH is the watch trade show put on by the watch brands under the Richemont Group umbrella and some of their friends. Familiar names like IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Panerai set up shop next to lesser known watchmakers like Parmigiani and Gruebel-Forsey in the grand confines of the Palexpo convention center. We asked Gear Patrol’s Timekeeping writers to weigh in on what impressed them the most from this year’s crop of timepieces. Their picks vary from the classic to the outrageous (see the Tourbillon Yohan Blake, below), and together they represent a great range of SIHH 2013.
How to tell time when there's no time left
Clearly Mayan watchmakers hadn’t cracked the horology of the perpetual calendar complication before their ateliers closed for good. Whether December 21st, 2012 portends an ominous implosion of this rock on which we live, a collapse of civilization or just severe disappointment for the crazies no one knows for sure. But it sure does present a great excuse to stock up on bombproof gear. We’ve got five timepieces to see you through the fire and brimstone — and if the Mayans were wrong, well, you’ve still got yourself a pretty badass watch.
Back to the future
It’s that time of year: when the eyes of the watch industry turn to Geneva and the annual event known as Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, or SIHH. In 2013, IWC Schaffhausen is the first across the starting line with the introduction of their entirely revamped Ingenieur family of watches. The Ingenieur’s history stretches…
Flight of Fancy
Storied Swiss watch manufacture, International Watch Company (IWC) declared that 2012 would be the year of the pilot’s watch, and to this end they completely revamped their iconic line of pilot’s watches with new models, new materials and new complications. Of these, one watch really stood out from the rest: the Top Gun Big Pilot’s…
Evolution of a watch nerd
Someone once said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. But while I’m sure music critics have their own challenges, I suspect they have an easier time explaining what they do than we watch writers, who fetishize the arcane minutiae of an anachronistic art. But I’ve learned to respond to questions about my…
Big Pilot, Big Apple
The International Watch Company definitely didn’t pull any punches with the grand opening of their newest flagship boutique in Manhattan last Wednesday, what with the boxing greats, movie stars and supermodels present to help celebrate its long awaited debut, but the real story here lies with the watches, and the novel way that IWC has…
The right stuff
Reaching down to deploy the cupholder, you glance through your aviators at the chunky pilot’s watch on your wrist. You’re good for an on-time arrival. Suddenly, you spy a minivan bearing down on you at four o’clock so you quickly disable cruise control and switch into manual mode as you approach your exit. This is…
Part trade show, part soiree, all business
Every year, 18 of the major Swiss watch manufacturers pack up their suitcases, shut down their ateliers and head to Geneva to participate in one of their biggest events of the year, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). Part trade show, part intimate soiree and all business, SIHH has, for the past 20…
Light the fires and kick the tires
IWC has fired their first volley of SIHH 2012 and it’s right on-target. Say hello to the new Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Miramar. Named for the birthplace of modern naval air warfare where the best of the best go to get better, this anti-magnetic timepiece sports an advanced in-house flyback chronograph movement within its…
‘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…
I Feel The Need...
Part Iceman and all Maverick, the IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Edition Top Gun ($12,000) pays homage to the fearless pilots at the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School, who epitomize courage and skill. IWC has emblazoned the Top Gun emblem (and thankfully not Tom Cruise’s mug) on the back of the titanium and black…
The International Watch Company has always done things a little differently. First of all, the firm wasn’t founded by a venerable Swiss family in the remote mountains of the Jura or in the Vallée de Joux. Rather, it was an American entrepreneur from Boston, F.A. Jones, who set up shop on the banks of the…
Explaining the Basics, Debunking the Myths
It is ironic that, while watch companies are turning out more capable dive watches – helium release valves, absurd water resistance, innovative bezels – fewer and fewer SCUBA divers are wearing watches at all. Go on any dive boat and you’re lucky to find one person wearing anything besides a dive computer on his wrist….
If you’re jet setting type, bombing the Alps one day and escaping Alcatraz the next, timekeeping can become an especially taxing chore while traversing across time zones. Designed specifically for these situations, IWC has created the Portofino Dual Time ($17,600). The timepiece features an all-new 64710 calibre movement with 72-hour power reserve, double-sided AR coated…
IWC recently redesigned their entire Da Vinci line of timepieces and their looks are impeccable. The black dial with silver subdials exudes tasteful luxury. It’s perfect as a dress watch with a touch of sportiness. The 43.1mm by 51mm timepiece has a black crocodile leather strap. The black on black with silver complexity is timeless….