In the presence of the coronavirus epidemic, time suspends itself. As we get used to a different pace of life, as watchmakers and watch sellers shut down operations, all eyes turn to the Internet. And so our New Watch Alert continues – based on product roll-outs scheduled before Coronageddon. We’ll see how long this lasts, but it’s somehow comforting. Rock and roll . . .
Timex Milano XL – $119
Coronavirus is hardly America’s only import from The People’s Republic of China. Until recently, Timex has been [barely] paying Chinese workers to crank out cheap timepieces for the masses. Some of them are classically styled watches that harken back to the days when Timex paid the salaries of American workers. Watches like the 38mm Milano XL.
Timex says the Milano XL Stainless Steel Bracelet Watch was “inspired by our favorite watches from the 1970s.” They list the movement as QA – which stands for Quartz Analogue. Or Quit asking. Does the stainless steel watch named after a Pepperidge Farm cookie take a licking and keep on ticking? If it’s like America, yes. If not, no.
For reasons we explained earlier, you can’t buy a watch like Mr. McEnroe’s artisanal Lefty no matter how much money you throw at Artisans de Genève. But their see-through Rolex mod is new – even if it isn’t a Rolex per se. To wit: the Artisan’s latest creation holsters a hugely reworked Rolex 3135 caliber movement, surrounded a tungsten bezel (replacing ceramic), supported by reshaped lugs.
New watch alert! The Artisans fashioned a date wheel out of sapphire, put it under a date wart and undercoated the numbers with Super-LumiNova. Even so, the Lefty’s legibility is out-of-bounds. YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS! Since when does someone who buys a skeletonized Rolex-ish watch care about legibility? Point taken. Advantage McEnroe.
Grand Frank Lifestyle (as opposed to Grand Funk Railroad) is a menswear brand based in Stockholm, Sweden. GFL’s watches may be cheap, but man do they nail that Nordic design thing. At the same time, the Montpelier Blue Chrono meets 50 percent of our criteria for chronograph legibility (thin hands make light work).
Grand Frank’s 41mm runs on a “crystal quarts movement.” The 12mm thick dress watch is attached to a brown crocodile-embossed leather strap – whatever that means. One thing’s for sure: it not an American band. OK, two things. The Blue Chronograph comes with love from Sweden. It’s perfect for buyers who want to klädd upp till tänderna (get dressed to the teeth).
The last time we found a cool watch at online mag Yanko Design – the clever Artika Horizon 2 – it was an art project by a Russian student. I’m not sure if ORICO designer Pouya Hosseinzadeh’s handiwork is too cool for school. But it looks really expensive. We’re talking about a grade 5 Titanium case and a skeltonized rotor made from of copper, bronze and white gold.
Movement maker unknown, but Yanko tells us that ORICO’s inspiration “stems from geometry and the Fibonacci spirals.” Contrary to popular belief, Fibonacci spirals aren’t bowel-friendly pasta. They’re a mathematical construct, similar to the golden ratio deployed by Gerald Genta for the Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse. So now you know.
Audemars addicts and Patekaholics pay a premium for stainless steel. New watch alert! Fans of Arnold & Son opting for the metal-of-the-moment save a cool $10k on a gold 38mm Nebula. Mind you, the stainless steel Nebula has gone to the Dark Side. A&S blacked-out the watch’s main-plate (to increase legibility) and finished the bridges with dark grey NAC-coating.
Technically and aesthetically, the Nebula’s movement remains a Ferris wheel of horological happiness. Arnold & Son’s twin-barrel in-house caliber A&S5101 looks bloody brilliant and delivers an entirely useful 90-hour power reserve. The steel Nebula hits a price point sweet spot – if you have the bangers and mash.
The Hamilton PSR is a recreation of the first digital watch: the Pulsar. Back in the day, Pulsar delivered carloads of cash to corporate parent Hamilton. And then bankrupted them, as dirt cheap LCD watches flooded the market. A Swiss company swept in and bought the Hamilton name. Is Swiss Hamilton dancing on Pulsar’s grave? You might say that, but I couldn’t possibly comment.
The stainless steel model (top) and gold model (above) updates the genre by combining LED and OLED for an always-on display, brightened via the pusher. The PSR’s the same size and shape as the original Pulsar: 40.8mm wide and 34.7mm tall. Question: why does the display read 10:09 instead of 10:10 (happy hands)? And are we really seeing these things come back?
Bremont specializes in tool watches, including a line of airplane-themed timepieces (e.g., the MW II Flying Tiger) and dive watches. They’re all relatively understated and expensive. And rugged. To prove the new ALT1-P2 JET’s mettle/metal, the British watchmaker put the tacti-black model on the wrist of some poor sod flying around in a 1,000 HP Gravity Jet Suit. Um, O.K.!
The ALT1-P2 JET is a large (43mm) timekeeper festooned with that dull faux vintage lume that purists abhor. New watch alert! The real value lies in the movement: a blacked-out version of Bremont’s in-house Calibre 13 ¼”‘ BE-53AE – visible under a smoked crystal exhibition caseback. If you reckon black is the new black, well, there it is, on both sides of the watch.
Now that the Apple Watch is eviscerating Seiko at the bottom end of the market, the Japanese watchmaker is upping its upmarket game. The new Seiko All That Stuff Above is a solar-powered GPS timepiece that checks the time with orbiting GPS satellites twice a day, ensuring accuracy of +/-1 second per 100k years. After synching with the birds, that is. Which have to be adjusted .01 seconds per year to adjust for time dilation.
Seiko touts the new Astron’s speedy time change – independent motors for the hour, minute and second hands! – and the titanium case. The 42mm watch’s real selling point? It’s not ugly. In fact, the Astron’s a horological Franceska Fournier – especially compared to the content vomit known as Citizen’s $2k Satellite Wave. Shame about the date wart. On the watch.
Breguet Classique 7337 – $43k
“This isn’t one of the most exciting releases,” HoDinkee’s Cara Barrett kvetches. Really? I hope I never become so jaded about a timepiece that demonstrates absolute mastery of the art of watchmaking. Ms. Barrett ennui stems from the fact that the 7337 in question the same watch as before with a blue dial. Oh but what a blue dial! Breguet blue! And what a dial! So many finishing techniques so perfectly realized.
Not to mention that the “embossed moon on a starry sky adds a new dimension to the moon phase display.” Yes. Yes it does. Patrons forking out big bucks to add the 39mm 7737 to their collection are subsidizing craftsmanship on an almost unimaginable scale. Especially if you don’t have an imagination.
Porsche Design watches lost their way when they ditched their titanium-clad partnership with IWC and hooked-up with Eterna. In case you hadn’t noticed, they’re baaaack. With another watch whose only claim to New Watch Alert fame is a new, dark blue dial and a blue strap made of Porsche seat leather. Again, what a difference a dial color makes (the brown face version is relatively hideous).
The 42mm flyback chronograph is [still] blessed with the in-house Porsche Design WERK 01.200 caliber. Not only does the engine look the sh*t, the titanium-cased timekeeper is a featherlight COSC certified timekeeper. The 1919’s a simple, legible, elegant, robust, reliable chronograph that costs less than carbon fiber brakes on a 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S. Done!
The press pics at gq-magazine.co.uk show the watch sporting four of Hublot’s famous red-tipped titanium dial screws. The official pics show six. Reagrdless of their number, they’re all tightened this way and that – which would drive me NUTS. That aside, dressed in London tartan, the Anglo-French watch is 100 percent cool Britannia.
Sold exclusively in The Land of Hope and Glory, the LECF is Hublot’s fourth horological hat tip to Chelsea F.C. This one boasts a sexy AF satin-finish ceramic case, Hublot’s masterful in-house MHUB1112 auto movement and a totally twee caseback decal. Still, I’m a fan. Of the watch. Go Gunners!
The last entry in this week’s New Watch Alert is an odd but welcome duck: a Seiko-based solar-powered micro-brand field watch. Works for me. Especially as it’s small (38mm), minimalist and inexpensive. I find the raised outer rehaut (the ring between the dial and the bezel/crystal) and the steel bands on the NATO strap are particularly beguiling.
The maker claims the Lightwell’s dial is “coated in Superluminova BGW9 for full visibility in low light” – by which I presume they mean the hands and Arabic indices are lumed. I also assume the Lightwell’s got a boring sealed caseback. This exactly the kind of watch Timex should be making – in America. Once we’re back open for business.