Posting a Gruen ad based on bombing Tokyo probably won’t endear me to Grand Seiko’s PR department. Never mind. I do so to point out that this country has faced greater threats than Coronageddon (Dust Bowl ad next week). Survivors will emerge smarter and, in many ways, better. Meanwhile, the New Watch Alert remains spoiled for choice. But choose I did . . .
Ikepod Megapod Automatic – $1,188
Oh no! It’s Megapod! Actually, Grand Seiko made that connection with their Godzilla Watch. The Megapod has a more of a black-and-white 50’s American sci-fi horror movie vibe (e.g., The Day the Earth Stood Still). The self-proclaimed “vintage watch from the future” is a monstrous 46mm stainless steel piece with three dial styles, this one being creepiest.
Gone is the Swiss movement that sustained the first Ikepods until the Kickstarter company kicked the bucket. The Return of Ikepod relies on Miyota movements and some weird mind control gizmo that convinces people to spend more than a grand on a charmless timepiece. Repeat after me, “taste is not a question of price.”
Breitling Top Time LE – $4990
New watch alert! Or is it? Not to outdone by Audemars Piguet, Breitling raided its archives to piss-off vintage watch collectors. I mean find inspiration. The Top Time is a “modern interpretation” of the 1960’s “Zorro dial” Sprint chrono. It’s your basic 120 percent Xerox deal, moving from the original female-friendly 38mm to the modern “at least it’s not a Panerai” 41mm.
The Breitling Sprint relied on the Valjoux 7733 movement; the new watch runs on the modern COSC-certified Breitling 23 caliber (based on the Valjoux caliber 7753). The Top Time chrono’s legibility is something of an issue, but I don’t think that was Breitling’s top concern. The prospect of a $10m pay day was probably more germane.
Citizen ProMaster MX – $575
When I was a kid (and dirt was young), the Batman Utility Belt was the bomb. You could do so much with it. I reckon that same child-like hunger for stuff that does stuff drives Apple Watch sales. It also explains Citizen’s ongoing campaign to produce the world’s ugliest watch dials.
There’s actually less content vomit here than meets the eye (or challenges a G-SHOCK). Citizen’s forthcoming “racing-inspired” Eco-Driven wristwear is a 1/20-second chronograph, perpetual calendar, alarm and tachymeter. And it tells the time. As we used to joke, it’s time to get a new watch.
Farer Oxley GMT LE – $1437
Farer sells British designed watches made by Switzerland’s Roventa-Henex. Their webpage touts the Oxley’s “marine grade steel” – the same 316L steel everyone else uses (excluding Rolex, Ball and Yema). The real selling point: the 39.5mm GMT’s vintage feel, courtesy a silver sunray dial and “Pop-art inspired” blue tones.
I reckon the Grade A ice blue Super-LumiNova is worth the price of admission. In terms of timekeeping, the Oxley GMT runs off the top-of-the-line SELLITA SW330-1, complete with hacking seconds, a 42-hour power reserve and an independently adjustable 24-hour hand. It’s as stylish a deployment of the time-tested movement as you’ll find anywhere.
MAD Paris Floral-Engraved Rolex Daytona – $111,000
After Rolex sued Rolex modder laCaliforniennen – forcing the husband-and-wife team to make their website unreadable and switch to repainting Cartier watches – I was under the impression that Mad Paris was down for the count. The French Rolex modder’s website is still DOA. And then this piece surfaced at Dover Street Market. New watch alert? Old stock alert? Who knows?
Hypebeast (I didn’t name them but I approve) reckons the diamond-studded Daytona’s floral design is similar to Mad Paris’ $69k Daytona SK II (October 2019) and $115k Ruby Sapphire Daytona (September 2019). One thing that money won’t buy you: service at an authorized Rolex dealer. You’d be mad to even try.
Note to dowagers: it pays to be new watch alert. The latest edition to Vacheron Constantin’s Égérie collection answers the age old question “how many diamonds can you fit on a 37mm watch?” Vacheron’s stone-setting artisans stopped counting at 1,345. Because they were done, obvs.
The more important fact: the 10.53mm thick rock star’s powered by the 164-piece caliber 1088 L movement, displayed under a transparent caseback. That and the fact that the not-so-timid timepiece is water resistant to 100 feet, capable of withstanding the federally recommended hand-washing procedure. Amirite?
MB&F HM10 Bulldog – $105k
I prefer dogs without pushed-in noses. Dogs who can run more than ten yards before collapsing on the pavement, breathless. In the same sense, I prefer watches that look something like a watch. Sure, the HM10 is a technical tour de force. But damn it’s ugly, expensive and nobody’s first choice for chronological legibility.
Needless to say, the watch press is all agog. Only monochrome-watches.com hints at the Bulldog’s challenged aesthetics: “it will generate a wide range of reactions.” The HM10’s party trick – its “jaws” close as the movement loses power – gets it exactly backwards. But what do I know? Only this: that’s a whole lot of money for a horological dog’s breakfast.
Our New Watch Alert Kickstarter alert hails from Stelllllaaaaa! – a New York-based brand selling Swiss-made watches. If everything goes as planned, the Felix will [eventually] arrive on our shores in six fun flavors. The jeans-themed Dress Blues gets the ink, but the well-dressed man prefers to wear linen (Gotham Gold).
The “seasoned veterans” behind the Felix brand ordered-up the STP1-11 movement – a copy of the now-patent free ETA 2824-2 engine. Hidden behind the star-shaped rotor, it’s a reliable and reasonably accurate (+/-10 seconds per day) engine. I’m not sure what happens when you “press star,” but I’m hoping it doesn’t return me to the main menu.
Now there’s a panda-style dial you don’t see every day. If ever. To adjust all those dials, Fromanteel festooned the Globetrotter with enough screw-down crowns for an entire season of Game of Thrones. While the crowns make setting the month, day, date and moonphase a doddle, I wonder why they called this non-GMT, minimally water-resistant watch a Globetrotter?
And there you have it. Unfortunately, even after you learn that British-born Ahasereus Fromanteel found a way to escape his eight children, the question doesn’t go away. Nor will the need for battery replacement. With a bit of luck, you’ll be able to go buy some fresh one by the time it runs out. Know what I mean?
MeisterSinger Edition 366 LE – $2420
After releasing the bizarre Astroscope, MeisterSinger joins Audemars Piguet’s and Breitling’s journey into the past. Specifically, the golden age of the pocket watch. Good call. Size-wise, the 43mm 366 isn’t a million miles away from its spiritual ancestors, and the opaline dial does an excellent job pretending to be enamel.
The historical echoes are more than skin deep – the 336’s hand-wound Unitas 6498 movement was originally designed for pocket watches. All things being equal – which they’re definitely not these days – MS will release 100 examples in May. If you miss out and/or like staring at big ass movements, check out salesman sample pocket watches.
New watch alert! Just when you thought it was safe to buy a modern timepiece, here comes another retro watch from Richemont’s resurgent Montblanc brand. I have to say it’s a stunner: salmon-colored style married to retro restraint. And God knows I love me some some monopusher pulsometer. But $30K? You can buy a three-hand version for $2850. BUT –
You won’t find this Rube Goldbergian movement in lesser models. And you don’t need me to tell you that the calibre MB M13.21 – based on the Jazz Age Minerva calibre 13.20 – is all that and a bag of chips (as the Brits are wont to say). There’s gold in them thar’ watches, and the Y-shaped engraved bridge gives you two tickets to paradise. Done!
Just in case you aren’t tired of watchmakers raiding their archives, Grand Seiko’s unleashing their SBGW259, a recreation of the brand’s first-ever watch (see: below). Only the new one’s got a blue dial. And it’s bigger (38mm vs. 35mm). And it closes with a three-fold clasp (as opposed to ye olde strap and buckle). And GS made the case out of Brilliant Hard Titanium instead of gold.
Other than that it’s identical to the original (above)! Except for the exhibition caseback, showcasing Grand Seiko’s manual wind caliber 9S64. And it’s way more expensive than the original: $8k vs. $5,900 (adjusted for inflation). That said, strapping this GS on your wrist would be an excellent way to celebrate the end of Coronageddon, when the time comes.