Back in 1983, the first Swatch quartz watch had 51 components. For a 30th anniversary celebratory piece, Swatch took up the challenge to make a mechanical watch with the same number of parts. This is the Swatch Sistem51, a revolution in mechanical watches that hasn’t yet come to American shores. We recently got our hands on one.
SET IT AND FORGET IT
MORE BONES THAN FLESH
Skeleton watches, or squelettes in French, have been made since the pocketwatch days and typically are ornate, baroque displays of artistry. The Tissot T-Complication Squelette ($1,950) offers a far more modern and industrial take on this classic genre. We got our hands on one for a week and let it get under our skin.
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.
(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.
A few weeks ago we ran an opinion article about so-called “homage” watches. Amid some attention from readers and experts alike, we heard from MKII, a watch company we had discussed in the article. They offered to send us the MKII Paradive, a watch inspired by Benrus’s iconic (and mysterious) “Type 1″ and “Type 2″ timepieces. We found the Paradive a tool watch worthy of homage, itself.
Winter is coming
In a bit of ironic timing, the Michelsen Arctic Explorer ($$1,960) arrived on our doorstep on one of the hottest days of summer. Fresh off the plane from Iceland, the watch still seemed to bear the chill of its origins, lending a cooling effect to the dog days of August. Regrettably, we weren’t able to put the watch to the test of an Arctic (a.k.a. Minnesotan) winter. But we still put it through at least some of its paces.
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).
Telling shit from Shinola? That's easy
Here’s the thing about Shinola: it gives off the right appearances, the right ethics, just the right amount of chip-on-the-shoulder pride; and then those things end up also being true, rooted in concrete examples like a city and the fingers of idealistic workers (who, outside of watches, also build excellent bikes) or abstract things like the American Dream. So it is with the Shinola Runwell ($600), the brand’s flagship watch, which found its way onto my relatively inexperienced wrist with an obvious, immediate question: was this an American watch (the American watch) worth buying?
Crepas Watches out of Malaga, Spain is a niche dive watch company that elicits true horological lust. Each of Crepas’s three previous releases sold out, if that’s any indication. Using classic dive watches as their muse, Crepas issues one watch per year, and their latest release, the Cayman 3000 (~$1,190), found its way to our doorstep this summer.
A mix of precision and ruggedness has long defined the history of British watches, and that tradition is being carried forward by young companies like Bremont and Schofield, whose designs and sensibilities conjure up images of ships’ chronometers, RAF flying aces, lonely lighthouses and polar explorers. The latest British brand to jump into the fray, Meridian, hopes to espouse the same in their MP-01 ($6,000) timepiece. Does the Prime MP-01 achieve its goal? We aimed to find out.
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.
Take me to the Moon
After some years occupying the dreaded fashion watch segment, Baume & Mercier has been regaining its former glory with several beautiful new timepieces and an evocative brand image. With the new Clifton series, Baume has managed to avoid the sophomore jinx, delivering yet another brace of seductive watches. We got our hands on the Baume & Mercier Clifton Complete Calendar and gave it a few weeks of wrist time.
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.
Shine A Light
Since their early days, Victorinox (a company better known for its versatile pocketknives) has produced watches that, while standing up to the “Swiss Made” on their dials, haven’t been afraid to get dirty. The Night Vision watch ($695) is the latest handsome, sturdy and exceedingly useful piece of kit from the revered brand. And its most innovative feature has nothing to do with telling time.
Since dressing up is finally back, we’re going to rehash an obvious point: every watch collection needs a dress watch. The Girard-Perregaux 1966 Full Calendar in white gold ($25,600) may not be the right selection for a gentleman on a budget, but if you play in the horological big leagues or want to add a grail to your collection, this triple calendar with moonphase timepiece is an excellent contender.
This year, little-known manufacture JeanRichard made a concerted effort to refresh its product line — new designs, new movements, new image — and it showed at BaselWorld. We recently got our hands on their latest: the Terrascope ($3,500), an old dog with new tricks.