New watch alert! Coronageddon continues to take its toll on Swiss watchmakers, what with Asian markets down for the count and Baselworld’s 2020 cancellation (not to mention the smartwatch crisis). Meanwhile, manufacturers are bombarding buyers with new product – a SKU torrent that will increase online as they release models that were set to debut at Watches & Wonders and Baselworld. Here’s this week’s carefully curated (i.e. snarky) roundup of the terrible/terrific twelve . . .
NOMOS Tetra Fidelio – $2080
“Tetra Fidelio in the new Symphony series from NOMOS has more than just a name in common with Beethoven’s one and only opera. From heroic rescues to declarations of undying love—and ‘unnamed joy,’ everything is possible with this watch. Like Fidelio, its dial is a triumph of faith—in a beautiful shade of dark blue.” O.K. then . . .
New watch alert! Like all NOMOS Tetras, the Fidelio and its four symphony-themed brethren are too small for a macho macho man’s watch-wearing tastes: 29.5 mm × 29.5 mm. That’s a weinende Schande. As is the German watchmaker’s decision to put its drop dead gorgeous Alpha movement behind a solid caseback. Get back to me as and when.
Citizen Promaster Sailhawk – $495
Like the Sailhawk, I have a built-in Yacht Race Timer: I count the number of G&T’s until my seafaring friends return to port. The rest of the Sailhawk’s features are standard content vomit: world timer, chronograph, two alarms and the time. I’m not sure how the watch keeps track of a windward leg, but I saw a doctor for that and it’s all good now.
The Sailhawk is powered by Citizen’s C660 Eco-Drive caliber. Buyers determined enough to master all its functions are eligible for college credit. Extra credit for operating the YRT and bezel. The Sailhawk’s a bit chunky at 44mm, but sailors have enormous arms. Well Popeye did.
I thought we’ve made it clear: 39mm is the perfect size for a watch. At least the 41mm Longines Hydroconquest had the good sense not to be the 43mm Longines Hydroconquest. The new variant is green – the hot new dial color! The new black! Or is that orange? Blue? In all this excitement I lost count.
The luminescent Hydroconquest looks cool on metal, but the green rubber strap generates a distinctive Kermit the Frog underwater vibe. Unlike the muppet (as far as I know), the Longines diver’s hands are motivated by their’ 888 caliber (base ETA caliber A31.L01). Blessed with a 64-hour power reserve, it’s good to go 1000 feet below the waves. A true Conquestador.
If I owned the original A3818 – current market value $20k – I’d be pissed. To be fair, the Zenith 1971 A3818 “Cover Girl” recreation has a different dial color (textured blue) than the original. The newbie’s hands are Super-LumiNova-ed and the El Primero 400 automatic movement sits behind an exhibition caseback. Even so, what collector want to have to say “No. No. This is the real one”?
Actually, the chances of running into either model are slim. Zenith made 1000 of the original and the Revival’s limited to 100 pieces. Chances are it won’t cost 20 large, but it might. The new old watch comes with a free copy of Zenith: Swiss Watch Manufacture since 1865 ($422 from Amazon). So there is that.
Parmigiani Fleurier Tondagraphe – $205,000
Every now and then I run into a timepiece that makes me think that being financially constrained isn’t that bad. While this Ferrari-price level Parmigiana is a sterling example of world class watchmaking chops, OMG it’s ugly. TBF, the addition of a slate-colored guilloché grain-de-riz (rice beads) pattern to the dial takes the Tondagraphe to another level.
I’m still happy down here in the basement. If I were a rich man (with no taste) I’d wear this watch upside down to put Parmigiana’s mechanical caliber PF354 on display (image courtesy monochrome-watches.com). There’s hand-finished and then there’s this. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that. Other than get thee away from me Satan.
Hublot Classic Fusion Gold Crystal – $21,000
Creating crystalline gold “flakes” for a watch dial requires serious alchemy. Affixing them to the dial with 20 coats of special lacquer – in a vacuum – requires painstaking expertise. And I bet it took more than an hour to design and produce a black polished ceramic case with a transparent caseback. Hublot’s horologists are major league artisans.
But OMG is it ugly. The gold crystal thingies are strewn around the XXXL 45mm dial with random abandon. At least you can flip it over and admire the HUB1112 self-winding movement. Unfortunately, Hublot’s PR peeps aren’t proffering a picture of the engine. You’ll just have to vote for it before you know what’s in it. I mean, buy it before you see it.
Casio G-Shock GBD-H1000 – $488
If you’re a runner who falls onto a rocky surface on a regular basis, or has rocks fall on you, ditch the FitBit and pick up this bad boy. If you can – it weighs 3.88 ounces (1/4 of a pound). Still there’s a high weight-to-app ratio. You get heart rate, altitude, thermo and acceleration sensors, a compass and GPS positioning.
When you’re done running, the GBD-H1000 connects to an app (via Bluetooth) to keep a running log; including elapsed time, distance, pace, calories burned, heart rate, maximum heart rate and your aerobic and anaerobic intervals. I’d get one but this couch is so comfy.
How do the Artisans De Genève get away with selling a Rolex-branded recreation of the the “Oyster Albino” – of which Rolex made . . . wait for it . . . three? And then there’s the price. Eighteen large for such a spectacular piece, complete with ADG’s 4130 hand-wound movement and first-class hand-finishing? No wonder their website says “Service Not Available.”
You may remember ADG as the manufacturer behind the one-off skeletonized Rubens Barrichello Project. Maybe the 6263 Albino Project is also a one-off. Then again there’s a wait list. Rolex’s lawyers whacked laCalifornienne for selling [horrifically] modded Rolex. Surely a run of Rolex-branded Albinos invites the Swiss ban hammer. Watch this space.
New watch alert! The German-made Partito is for buyers who love the small vintage watch look but want a timekeeper whose dial and hands haven’t degraded – a watch that runs on a modern, accurate, reliable movement. Hear that? It’s the sound of purists scoffing and snorting derisively.
They won’t be well-pleased with the Partitio’s “Old Radium” Super-LumiNova. What about the top-shelf ETA caliber 2824-2 on display beneath the exhibition caseback? No? Never mind. Stowa’s only looking for 100 takers and doesn’t care about their opinion – as long as their money’s green.
SWATCH BB Kurenai Red LE – TBA
New watch alert! Finally! A SWATCH that combines Olympic branding and anime. (“Kurenai Yūhi is one of the supporting characters of the Naruto and Boruto universe. She is a jōnin-level kunoichi from Konohagakure.”) If Coronageddon claims the Tokyo Olympics, this will be a hugely collectible piece.
At 47mm, it’s already huge. I reckon the crown at the 2 o’clock position is an ode to stopwatches of yore. The same needless affectation afflicts the companion BB AI Blue, but not the Tokyo 2020 Blue, which returns the crown to 3 o’clock and goes all day date on the design. No matter which one you choose (or not), remember: NRFB! NRFB!
The new Presage line is a “faithful reproduction of the design of the first Crown Chronograph” – without the 1964 model’s less-than-entirely-useful sub-dial-less monopusher chronograph. Not so faithful now, eh Mr. Bond? New watch alert! It’s “reproduced as faithfully as possible.” So that’s alright then.
Seiko’s website specifies the 41.3mm beast’s hidden movement as an “automatic with manual winding capacity.” That would be Seiko’s mid-market Calibre 6R35, with a claimed +25 to -15 seconds per day accuracy. Not the kind of thing you’d use for the “first international sports event held in Japan.” While the Crown Chronograph is a manly watch for manly men among men doing manly things, here’s the one you want. As they say in Japan, Mazel tov-san.