Coronageddon is raging worldwide. A year from now, a vaccine will hit the streets and life will return to normal. Not all watch brands will be around to enjoy pent-up consumer demand. Meanwhile, new product keeps flowing into a hugely diminished market – big bargains are on their way. Here’s this week’s New Watch Alert . . .
Seiko Presage Studio Ghibli Porco Rosso – $6470/ $4575
Last year, Grand Seiko hitched its wagon to Godzilla. No really. This time, the Japanese watchmaker’s launched a pair of enameled timepieces evoking the 1992 Japanese flick Porco Rosso, wherein an Italian flying pig with a handlebar moustache chases bad guys in a red Savoia S-21 seaplane. Again, not kidding.
Powered by Seiko’s best chrono caliber (8R48), the 42mm black watch desecrates the dial with Porco Rosso’s logo over an Italian flag. The Spring Driven white watch screws up its dial with a date wart and a power reserve indicator. Seiko will sell a simple, relatively affordable Spring Drive three-hander when pigs fly. For real.
Atelier Wen Porcelain Odyssey Hao Red/Green LE – $790
So how about less porcine porcelain? French-owned Atelier Wen is happy to provide their new red/green Odyssey Hao LE models at an unbelievable price (incredible until you learn they’re made in the People’s Republic of China). The 39mm timepieces are powered by their in-house SL-3006 movement, hidden behind an engraving of Peng, guardian deity of the Western Paradise.
As for the subdials, “The characters in the top left, You (酉), and bottom right, Mao (卯), represent the hours from 5PM to 7PM and 5AM to 7AM respectively. These serve as a reference to an ancient time-measurement system called the ’12 Earthly Branches’ within which each branch represents a two-hour segment.” Everything’s easy once you know Hao.
The Swiss response to the Apple Watch has been late and lacklustre: hybrid watches with mechanical hands and a few apps. Montblanc‘s 43.5mm Summit 2+ adds cellular capability for texts, calls and internet access. The 2+ runs on Google Wear OS, which is a lot less kludgy these days but still pretty kludgy.
New watch alert! The “plus” bit refers to the new-for-2020 speedometer, altimeter, barometer, compass and GPS functions. The best bit: the Summit 2+ looks like a traditional watch. Its OLED screen accommodates your choice of a thousand different simulated watch faces. The worst bit: it’s not an Apple Watch.
Milus Snow Star – $1800
The Snow Star has a great backstory: WWIi Navy pilots carried the original to barter with natives should they find themselves behind enemy lines. The modern day recreation maintains the original’s 1940’s minimalist magic and adds something important: quality. Like Rolex and Ball, Milus makes its a cases and lugs from 904L stainless steel.
The startup equips the Snow Star with ETA’s top shelf 2892A2 movement, once Breitling’s go-to caliber (before they developed their in-house Caliber 01). Positioned underneath an exhibition caseback, the engine delights the eye with pearlised and snailed bridges, blue screws and a log-enhanced oscillating wheel. If you’re looking at lesser quality retro micro-brand timepieces, it might be time to bail.
Dolce & Gabbana Roma LE – $40,000
You won’t find Dolce & Gabbana’s new Manifattura Italiana Roma with the brand’s tatty offerings at Macy‘s. In fact, good luck finding out where you can buy one. Or affording it – the bling AF timepiece is made of solid, hand-engraved gold (and some watch bits). And good luck fending off Rolex thieves in
third world developing countries, who’d welcome the change of pace.
The Roma’s powered by D&G’s exclusive DG 01.01 movement, developed by Switzerland’s MHC (Manufacture de Hautes Complications). It’s part of a new collection inspired by Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence, Naples, and Palermo – all of which are currently closed for business. A fate that awaits Macy’s.
Prompt Anti-Watch – $169
No new watch alert would be complete without a Kickstarter project. The Anti-Watch watch is different from your average re-packaged off-the-shelf movement retro deal. Look ma, no hands! When you touch the AW, one vibration signals that you’re somewhere within the first 15 minutes of the hour, two vibes flags the second quarter, three shakes indicates the third quarter, and four mini-quakes says you’re made the final 15.
If that’s not enough of a [new] watch alert, press-and-hold the dial (?) for three seconds. LED lights clue you in to the more-or-less exact time. Complicate much? “In a casual environment, Prompt allows you to be both present and mindful of others, which can make or break a special moment.” I’m sorry, what were you saying?
Let’s dance! Put on your red watch and dance the blues. Yeah, I’m a Bowie fan. But not enough to wear a watch with Bowie’s name and Andy Warhol’s lightning logo on the dial, and a picture of a young David Robert Jones wearing a hat on the caseback. Raymond Weil’s hoping there’s 3000 watch collecting Bowie superfans.
If so, I’m thinking buyers aren’t going to be the most horological savvy of folks. New watch alert for newbs! The Raymond Weil website describes the 42mm watch’s movement as “mechanical with automatic winding.” It’s Swiss made, but given the price, I’m thinking that some of the parts were made by a little China Girl. [Note to self: just you hush your mouth.]
Speaking of themed watches, here’s one inspired by the Lamborghini Huracán – and drugs (going by the video below). According to its makers, the upper calibre’s bridge resembles the Lambo V10’s strut bars and the timepiece has a “rim-like” rotor. I see more of a link in the use of exotic materials: a DLC titanium case and rhodium-plated indices.
The 45mm Excalibur Huracán is an engineering marvel in its own right. Roger’s caliber RD630’s twin barrels generate 60 hours between refills. The shot-blasted and NAC coated main plate and coated bridges are Oris Big Crown ProPilot X cool. Fifty-two large may seem like a lot of money for a watch that isn’t a Patek Philippe, but it’s only 1/5th the cost of the Italian supercar. A bargain really.
Bell & Ross BR-X1 Tourbillon R.S.20 LE – $194,000
Oops, they did it again. Regular readers may recall the $170k Bell & Ross Aviation Instruments Black Carbon Fiber Dial Watch BR01-TOURB-PHANTOM – currently selling for $40k. The new BR-X1 Tourbillon R.S.20 LE is another technical triumph, this one riffing on B&R’s hook-up with Renault’s FI team. It’s way better looking, but still leaves me asking a simple question: why?
At least we know what. For almost the price of a Lamborghini Huracán, you get a mono-pusher column wheel chronograph, motivated by B&R’s hand-wound skeleton flying tourbillon (calibre BR-CAL.283). The case is made of satin-polished titanium and matt ceramic, surrounded by a bi-directional rotating PVD bezel ring with time marker. Another future bargain!
Grand Seiko SLGH002 – $43,000
Grand Seiko is celebrating their 20th anniversary in grand style, unleashing a tsunami of new models (too soon?). The 40mm SLGH002 is the latest to drop – an 18k gold watch so gold even King Midas might think twice. (If the photos are to be believed, it glows like the metal on the edge of a knife.)
New watch alert! It’s the first Grand Seiko to holster their 9SA5 movement. The High-Beat automatic engine is thinner than its predecessors – all hail the barrel and gear trains’ horizontal layout. The premium priced SLGH002 is accurate to +5 / -3 seconds per day and boasts an 80-hour power reserve. The lugs are wider than standard GS cases, for better comfort. So there is that.
Breitling makes some hideous looking watches. This isn’t one of them. Why would it be? It was designed in 1959, long before the watchmaker discovered ani-digi content vomit. The new old Avi[ation] raids the archives with integrity: deploying the same case size (41mm), Hesalite crystal, syringe-style hour and minutes hands, and luminescent subdial indices (on the 15-minute pre-flight timer).
In case you have to ditch in the sea, Breitling upped the original watch’s water resistance to 100ft. They fitted the AVI with a modern B09 movement – a hand-wound COSC-certified caliber based on the Breitling Caliber 01. The temporal engine offers a startling 70-hour power reserve, encircling its wearer’s wrist with a perfectly matched stitched black strap.