New watch alert! Tomorrow, at 12pm CET, Watches & Wonders online will launch The Mother of All New Product Dumps: 30 brands get 10-minutes apiece to introduce their “novelties.” What could possibly go wrong? Well, for one thing the major watch sites just released the 411 on many of the major brands. We’ll get to that over the next few days. Right now, let’s have a look at the pre-W&W new product that’s being swept aside by the deluge . . .
Hamilton keeps moving away from the field watches they made during World War II in accordance with U.S. Department of Defense watch specification 55-1B. You could argue that today’s mil-spec should call for a field watch with a lightweight, tough-as-nails titanium case. And you might be right. But a 42mm timepiece with a dirt magnet for a strap doesn’t say military heritage to me.
Our thoroughly modern military has dropped horological specs for ground forces. Individual units now set their own standards. While the titanium Khaki’s H-10 movement – a modified ETA 2824-2 – is a tough little mo’ fo’ with an 80-hour power reserve, word is combat units bank on quartz and trip on tritium. As for Hamilton, nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.
Fromanteel NERO™ – $600
If Emperor Nero had worn one of these, he couldn’t have timed the number of hours Rome burned. Days, yes. Hours, no. Despite the name, Dutch watchmaker Fromanteel went all Darth Vader with their 42mm black PVD-coated quartz-powered chrono-date device. Glove-friendly pushers, amirite?
The Nero’s caseback poses a trivia question about the iternant clockmaker who inspired their horological aspirations. A question you can only answer “no” to once. wikipedia reckons British-born Ahasereus Fromanteel had eight children with four of them going into the clockmaking biz. Pity the poor bastard who didn’t make master clockmaker.
Fluess Chrono Spinnaker – $260
If you’re looking for a bargain basement dive watch with all the bells and whistles that’s not a Seiko (well not a cased and branded Seiko), has Fleuss Chrono got a deal for you! The forthcoming $260 Spinnaker is a big old thing, a full 43mm, but how else could they incorporate a legible A. Lange & Söhne-style date window?
The Spinnaker’s powered by VK73 meca-quartz movement. Developed by Frédéric Piguet and Jaeger-LeCoultre, the system combines the feel of a mechanical chrono with the reliability and accuracy of quartz. It was good enough for Breitling, OMEGA, Chopard, IWC/Porsche and Bulgari – until it wasn’t. Seiko still makes the movement and here it is, available in four tasty flavors. Enjoy.
Ball Roadmaster Marine GMT – $2,200
I had a ball tracing the apocryphal history of the Ball Watch Co. The Swiss watchmaker that picked up the ball is running with it with timepieces that promise “accuracy under adverse conditions.” It’s hard to imagine a more adverse condition for Ball than Coronageddon. But the new black and ivy green version of the world’s first day/date GMT should find an online audience, where today’s Ball does 60 to 70 percent of their business.
The 40mm titanium cased and braceleted Marine has plenty of Ball’s tech: always-on tritium gas tube lume, 5,000Gs shock resistance, 200m water resistance and 4,800A/m magnetic protection. It’s motivated by the BALL RR1203-C, a modified ETA 2893-2 that’s COSC certified for -4/+6 seconds per day accuracy. It’s all a bit brick shit house ceramic bezel Rolex GMT, but who’s complaining?
We recently swooned over Cuervos Y Sobrinos’s Historiador. Props to the Swiss brand for nailing the Cuban vibe. A triumph continued here with an eye-popping new watch alert for their Señora Caramelo, the most vibrant women’s watch I’ve seen since, um, ever. Available with a vivid red, green, orange, blue or yellow dial with matching strap, the Caramelo packs quite a wallop in a 32 x 43 mm case.
The Señora’s hands dance to the music of Cuervos Y Sobrinos’ caliber CYS 5103 (modified Soprod M100 Date). While one wonders why the date window had to be so large – it shows the numbers on either side of the date – I have no doubt that any date wearing this hue-riffic watch would be a handful. And I mean that in the nicest, most non-sexist way possible.
I recently dinged Oris for their greenwashing, but I can’t accuse them of stonewashing. This special-not-limited edition Oris Divers Sixty-Five features a pristine bright blue denim strap fashioned by Japan’s Momotaro Jeans. The strap is cool. As is the watch, with its bronze bezel, gold indices and green-to-gray dial. But it’s clear they don’t like each other.
How weird would it be to buy this watch, change the strap and fit it with something waterproof – as befits a 40mm dive watch safe to 334.5623 ft. below the waves? The Oris x Momotaro is powered by the Oris 733 caliber (base unspecified grade SW 200-1) with a bi-directionally rotating red rotor. A watch for Elton John fans?
Seiko Presage SPB163 – $1300
The SPB163 hasn’t hit Seiko’s Presage web page, but a lot of models have, ranging from a $450 stainless steel auto to a $4500 enamel dial Spring Drive. The not-so-romantically-named SPB163 kinda splits the difference. It offers a better caliber movement than the steel, and the enamel dial splendiferousness of the range topper.
Clock the circular calendar display with asymmetrical day numbers where a small seconds subdial should be, and a power reserve indicator with equally jarring indices. Movement-wise, the Seiko 6R27 caliber is a workhorse but not as pretty as the dial – which has to be seen in person to be appreciated. And then you can understand the SPB163 is something of a bargain.
What New Watch Alert would be complete without a new old watch alert? Old new watch alert? Either way, here it is: the 70’s-era steel Royal Oak you know and love – and can’t buy for love or retail money – in a 34mm size that’s just that tiny bit too tiny to look good on a man’s wrist. As Maxwell Smart used to say, missed it by that much.
Anyway, it’s iconic. So iconic that model’s homepage doesn’t say anything about the calibre 5800″mechanism” other than it’s “powered by the natural movements of your wrist.” (Note: it’s also powered by the unnatural movement of your wrist.) I don’t know how many buyers will stump up an extra $5k over a 1mm smaller quartz-powered Royal Oak for mechanical flexing, but I’m guessing some. Actually, I’m guessing all the time . . .
Horage Tourbillon 1 – $7154
A tourbillon for just seven G’s? “The impossible made possible,” Horage proclaims, oxymoronically. All credit to Horage and their partners La Joux Perret for building a relatively inexpensive tourbillon – the horological equivalent the world’s most fire retardant paper hat. A pointless complication.
Pointless but pretty. I’ve got to say I love me some waffle dial and I’m old enough to remember Celebrity Squares. And the tourbillon 1 in action is mesmerizing (skip to 4:00). It’s too bad the complication isn’t flying (not that anyone is these days) and gyroscopic. Then again, the Horage is $493k cheaper than the Jaeger LeCoultre. So there it that.
TAG Heuer Formula 1 – $2300
“The new TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 16 Green Dial watch is far from a bargain,” 9to5toys.com sniffs. What? These guys make their money on affiliate links! Oh, I see: it’s out of stock and production has gone sleepy bye-byes. No kickback for you! Well I think the TAG Heuer Formula 1’s racing green dial, black flange and green aluminum fixed tachymeter bezel is da bomb.
As for whether the F1’s worth $2300 . . . New watch alert! I never met a TAG dealer who didn’t discount. Besides, the chrono holsters Tag Heuer’s Calibre 16 Automatic (a.k.a. ETA/Valjoux 7750), the world’s first computer designed mechanical movement, resurrected in 1985. I reckon this one’s worth the wait – and no one’s paying me to say it.
For many a micro-brand, lume looms large. Austin in Austin knows that! The co-founder of Texas-based TOCKR has his Air Defender sheep-dipped – I mean hydro-dipped in luminescent paint. To crank up the lume to 11, the each-piece-unique funky glow-in-the-dark AD comes complete with fully lumed hands, indices and leather strap stitching.
The TOCKR runs on the same ETA/Valjoux 7750 automatic chrono movement nestling inside the TAG Heuer above. Both Swiss made watches provide a 42-hour power reserve, though the TAG dives deeper (200m vs. 100m). If 9to5toys.com thought the TAG was overpriced, they’d certainly decry this bad boy. Unless they were paid not to.
De Bethune DB28XP – $75k
Regular readers may have noticed that today’s New Watch Alert lacks the usual [bong hit of] high horology. That’s because Watch & Wonders has corralled the mayja playas who haven’t passed on this year’s new product cavalcade. Luckily for readers with 75 large burning a hole in their pocket, De Bethune be doin’ their new DB28XP PR thing.
There’s a lot of stuff (to use the technical turn) going on with this and DB’s two other new models. Click here to read the press release. Suffice it to say, the ultra-thin titanium monochromatic morph of a pocket watch and the Starfleet insignia has it going on, including retro. “A continuous interplay of light and shadow reminiscent of the principles behind the hieroglyphics of ancient Egyptian civilisation.” Who knew?