This Week in Watches: July 15, 2014. The Bell & Ross WW1 Guynemer, news on Apple’s iWatch, BENRUS lives again, and more.
Daring design for (kind of) modest means
Avant-garde watch design is best designed by what isn’t, rather than what it is: Understand classics like dress, dive, and aviator watches and you’ll know avant-garde when you see it. The problem with breaking the mold is that these watches often come with an equally unbelievable and impressive price tags, leaving mere mortals’ bank accounts wanting. But more recently, a handful of watchmakers have taken a shot at inspired and unique design, without the insane price tags. These are our favorites that at least won’t bankrupt you.
Contrast is for suckers
All-black, or “murdered-out”, watches aren’t flashy so much as menacing; they’re the pimped-out Rolex’s archnemesis. But what makes one example stand apart in a burgeoning field of blacked-out watches stand apart? As our list shows, there’s no single formula for success. Just add Batman’s favorite color, loads of lume and an even bigger dose of badassery.
Case in Point
Most discussions about watches and their value begin and end with the movement: Swiss versus Japanese, in-house versus outsourced, finishing and complications. But in reality, the movement is only part of the story. All too often overlooked is the humble watch case, which can be equally artful, interesting, and difficult to produce.
Coming to the Dark Side
The OMEGA Speedmaster Professional is such an icon — it’s nearly a perfect watch, really — that it’s hard to imagine that OMEGA could ever follow it up. Then last year the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon set the watch world abuzz. This video from Omega shows how it’s crafted, in all its black ceramic glory.
We tick off the latest in Watch News
This Week in Watches, we examine new offerings from Sinn, Grand Seiko, Magrette, Speake-Marin and the NYC-based strapmaker Suigeneric.
Today in gear we examine a wooden suit for the PS4, the perfect stout glass, Omega’s latest astronaut watch, the global launch of Samsung’s Galaxy S5, Bellroy’s new slim wallet and a Hoover vacuum that ditches the cord for good.
Today in Gear we examine Ray-Ban’s new customizable remix program, Nike Soccer’s revised away kit for team U.S.A., the return of the Omega Seamaster 300, your new guide to alpine training and Bluelounge’s key-sized charging accessory for Android.
Special Watches Under $1000
It’s easy to become numb to the incredible prices of fine watches. But being a watch enthusiast doesn’t mean choosing between a good watch and a decent used car. By looking in the right places, you can avoid bland fashion watches in favor of well-made, unique timepieces that scratch the watch nerd itch while protecting your post-college pledge to never subsist on ramen noodles again. Here are a few examples of what can be found for less than $1,000.
Eight Small Steps for Timekeeping
A space watch is more than just branding. Torture tested to excel in the most inhospitable of environments, these timepieces are designed to survive instantaneous 200 degree shifts in temperature, acidic humidity and extreme g-forces (shocks up to 40 Gs). Much like the explorers who don them, there are but a lucky few that have earned special recognition. These are our eight picks of the best space watches (or their modern reinterpretation) available for the rest of you dreamers out there.
Cool games, hot watches
OMEGA has long commemorated their connection to the Olympics by producing special edition pieces in honor of the games and their host city. Often serving as snapshots for a piece OMEGA’s lineup at the time of the games, these Olympic editions incorporate special coloring, dial and case back designs — and there have been plenty of great ones, including this year’s.
Ready, set, go
Olympic timing is serious business these days and nothing is left to watches that need winding: it’s all lasers and photocells and transponders. Every two years when an Olympic Games rolls around, OMEGA comes out with some new technology that improves timekeepers’ abilities to be more accurate and avoid controversies. Two years ago, we looked at the Summer Games in London. Now let’s see what’s happening in Sochi.
Today in Gear, we find a vase for your magazines, an Omega watch, prescription lenses for your hip Google Glasses and much more.
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…
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.
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.
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.
The sincerest form of flattery?
Within the watch industry there exists a thriving category of timepieces that is wholly unoriginal. This is the realm of the so-called “homage” watch. While legions of fans gratefully purchase these ersatz Grail timepieces, homages also have their detractors — those who write them off as mere derivative copies that don’t deserve attention.GP’s Jason Heaton dives into the debate.
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.
Challenger of Record
If you’re a sailing nut, or if you’ve just been following the news lately, you’ll know that this year’s America’s Cup is in a bit of trouble. Fortunately, we still get to enjoy the special edition timepieces put forward by watch brand sponsors. First up is the OMEGA Seamaster Emirates Team New Zealand Limited Edition. We were invited to OMEGA’s launch of the new timepiece and also got to watch the Emirates Team New Zealand boat launch for a training run in the bay.
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.
GP's Resident Leadfoot
The fifth installment of our Staff Favorites series features Mr. Amos Kwon. Amos is, simply put, a man’s man. He’s entirely focused on family (he’s a proud husband and, more recently, a father), but he’s also passionate about cars (he’s the heart and soul of our automotive coverage), cigars (it’s amazing that he hasn’t yet hired a personal Cuban roller), Scotch, and a mean EDC. He’s a diligent, talented writer, zipping absurd humor (we still can’t get over his “Whoever chose this… should be slapped with a pair of wet Depends” line) into the tight copy of his otherwise earnest reviews. We’re proud to have this proud Chicagoan on the team — and his favorite gear doesn’t disappoint.
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.
Our third installment of Staff Favorites turns to Mr. Ben Bowers. Second aboard the GP express and the reticent co-founder of Gear Patrol, Mr. Bowers is first and foremost an inquirer — using his battle-hardened eye of skepticism while monitoring the pulse of the internet, et al.; typically, he does so while reading a pantheon of feeds and bookmarks on his mobile device du jour.
At GP HQ, Ben is also the catalyst, and prizewinner, of often heated culture debates, where his insatiable appetite for music, movies and other media provides him with a panoply of pop-culture knowledge, particularly in early hip-hop and independent films. Beyond the walls of media and analytic thinking though, Ben’s interests are far less studious. A fair-weather sailor, patron of cocktail mixing and a die-hard Nets fan, Ben is also a proud Baton Rouge native — undoubtedly the reason behind his occasional son-of-Creole outbursts in an otherwise self-composed nature.
Adidas Clima Revent Shoes When your feet overheat it’s tough to keep truckin’. Adidas seeks to combat that exact problem with these Climacool technology-laden kicks. If you’re running hot, the perforated uppers and ventilated soles moderate temperature while the sockliner wicks away funky foot-sweat. $100 Seiki 50-inch 4K TV Most of us yearn to have…
Even if your aquatic adventures never go beyond a beach snorkel, summer is still a great excuse to strap on a dive watch. Timepieces designed for wet work also happen to be perfect companions for backyard barbecues, weekend cabin trips and afternoon doubleheaders. It’s no wonder the dive watch remains one of the most popular timepiece categories, thanks to a decidedly sporty and casual vibe that wears well with board shorts and t-shirts, and an overbuilt ruggedness that can stand up to the inevitable scrapes of summer shenanigans and those impromptu night swims. But while there are a fleet of watches that try to capture the adventurous spirit of the diver, a select few go a little deeper. We round up seven of the best new ones for you here.
From Here to the Moon
When the Mercury program started putting men in orbit, American astronauts largely chose their own watches to wear. John Glenn strapped a Heuer stopwatch to his wrist and Scott Carpenter wore a specially-modified Breitling known as the Cosmonaute. But by the 1960s, NASA saw a need to qualify every piece of vital equipment in the capsule, and the wristwatch was one of them. Wally Schirra had already worn his own OMEGA Speedmaster on his Mercury-Atlas 8 mission in 1962, and it was included in a quiver of chronographs selected by NASA for rigorous testing. Subjected to extreme temperature fluctuations, violent shocks, vibrations, vacuum and humidity, the Speedmaster outperformed watches from the likes of Rolex, Wittnauer and Longines to be named NASA’s approved timepiece. It was March 1st, 1965.
Vintage watch buying is enjoying incredible popularity, thanks to a community of savvy collectors, great internet resources for both learning about and buying old watches, and a nostalgic yearning for quality products from an era before planned obsolescence. Old watches also represent great value, the chance to wear a piece of history and, if you’re lucky, a good investment. Not to mention, they just look cool. We explore just how you should go about buying one of these beauties.
There’s a bit of dialogue in Casino Royale, the 2006 reboot of the James Bond movie franchise, when Vesper Lynd thinks she has Bond figured out, right down to his watch: “Rolex?” she asks. “Omega”, Bond replies. “Beautiful”, Lynd assesses. Those three words sum up 50 years of Bond and his wristwatches. They also have…