On Monday, Patek Philippe canceled its 2020 new product launches. There’s no point generating sales buzz for new watches the shuttered company can’t make. Does this mark the beginning of the end for our New Watch Alert? Maybe. Anyway, we’re not there yet. We’re here, with this week’s cream of the crop . . .
TAG Heuer Aquaracer GMT– $3050
TAG, you’re it! The Cornolian watchmaker has rediscovered its minimalist mojo with the GMT-Master II. Oops! Sorry. Although the new 43mm TAG Heuer Aquaracer GMT shares its bezel colors with the “Batman” Rollie, the two watches couldn’t be more different. Well, they could be, but they aren’t.
Powered by TAG’s very own Calibre 7 Automatic, you can set the AquaracerdiverGMT’s second and third time zones without futzing with local time. The hands and indices are lume monsters and the dial’s horizontal stripes have nothing to do with teak boat decks (à la OMEGA). The closed caseback evokes Anita Ward’s Ring My Bell, and the watch is water resistant way down. It’s music to someone’s ears.
Christopher Ward claims the C65 was “directly influenced by the jet-set pioneers of the 1960s.” So much for the old saying “if you can remember the 60’s you weren’t really there.” Still, what locked-down business man doesn’t want to conference call New York, LA and Karachi?
Mr. Ward’s 41mm C65 is a proper dive watch. You got yer brushed and polished marine-grade stainless steel case, a black DLC screw-down caseback (with Trident motif) and 15 ATM (150 metres) of water resistance. The C65’s motivated by ye olde Sellita SW330, accurate to -20/+20 seconds per day – not that drugged-up latter day jet setters would notice.
Batavi Kosmopoliet GMT – $617.14
We end our New Watch Alert GMT opening salvo with an example from the world of Kickstarter, where money has the strangest way of disappearing. That said, the Dutch watchmaker has history and they claim to have reached their funding goal in the midst of Coronageddon. So there is that.
And there’s this: a retro-styled GMT with a “why bother with a clear caseback” ETA 2893-2 Elaboré. The watchmaker promises no less than six themed colorways (e.g., the Amazon model’s green on green on green). “Whenever you feel like giving up just remember the Batavi,” CEO and urban planner Ugur Mamak recommends. That’s Alamo to you, Bub.
Timex Liquor Store – $249
New watch alert! The Smart Watch Crisis is forcing low-end watchakers to move upmarket – or die. Hence Timex’s latest collaboration with menswear designer Todd Snyder, named after his Big Apple boutique. “It’s the perfect companion for your light-colored spring ensembles and the summer wedding season beyond,” Timex asserts, having neither the time or inclination to change the copy to suit present circumstances (so to speak).
The Liquor Store is powered by a Japanese Miyota 21 jewel automatic movement – a welcome move away from Chinese-sourced everything (save the American Documents). In fact, the LS is a 38mm throwback to Timex’s American roots. The matte ecru dial and gold-tone hands and indices take us back to the time when Timex proclaimed itself “The World’s Largest Manufacturer of Watches and Mechanical Time Fuses.” I reckon this one’s the bomb.
Victorinox Field Force GMT – $375
Victorinox has launched three variation of their new Field Force GMT. I chose the cheapest (on a leather strap) because the plastic strap looks almost as hideous as the Seiko Diver’s and metal bracelets at this price point suck. The new design does not suck, maximizing legibility with a small outer bezel, Victorinox’s trademark red second hand, large lumed numbers, a triple AR-coated sapphire crystal and a spyglass GMT hand.
It’s big (42mm), quartz-powered and built like a brick shit house. Despite all that splashing about in its promo vid, the Field Force GMT’s water resistance-rated to just 100m. Victorinox says the new watch is for buyers who “want to take business calls on time and check in with your family wherever you’re globe-trotting.” You know, sometime in the future.
Jaquet Droz Eternal Loving Butterfly Automaton Chinchilla Red LE – Price on Request
One of capitalism’s greatest joys: the consumer’s freedom to buy any damn thing they want. That’s why so many high-rollers stay new watch alert: to buy baubles like the 43mm Jaquet Droz watch. It’s made of [not Joe] exotic materials, assembled by enormously skilled craftsmen and costs more than a German luxury sedan. And tacky AF.
But marvelous! The ELB draws its inspiration from Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz’s 18th century automaton The Draughtsman: a robot girl who draws the lepidopterological sketch upon which this watch is based. Droz’s 2653 AT1 automatic movement keeps the time; a separate, push button-activated mainspring drives the chariots spinning wheel and butterfly wings. For how long and for which 28 buyers is unknown.
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Pirelli Ice Zero 2 Double Flying Tourbillon LE – Price on Request
Twenty-eight watches? Pah! Roger Dubuis is selling just one of these bad boys. Oh sure, there are a few dozen “normal” Pirelli Ice Zeroes around, but none of them have the most pointless watch complication ever made. And precious few watches have two Tourbillons. But this one does, and a strap fashioned after Pirelli’s most aggressive winter tires.
Need I say the watch is an impressive technological achievement? The 366 component, 50 jewel timepiece is also one of the most subtle realizations of a flying tourbillon [a metric ton of] money can buy. The skeletonized movement surrounded by rubber and titanium really makes my motor run, my motor run. TMI?
My name is Robert Farago and I’m a lumatic. And will ya look at that thing? Thanks to sealed micro tritium gas tubes, the new 40mm Engineer Hydrocarbon Original’s hand, indices and bezel markings glow 100 times brighter than traditional lume paints. OK, sure, you have to replace the tubes after 25 years. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be dead or babbling like Biden by then.
I bet Hong Kong-owned Ball Watch Company will still be around; they’ve survived the transition from pocket to wristwatches and the quartz crisis. And this is a cool piece, powered by their COSC-certified automatic caliber RR1102-CSL. The you light up my life Engineer is shock-resistant twice over, anti-magnetic and water resistant to 200m. That patented crown guard’s pretty dope . I bet diver guy’s having a Ball.
Panerai Luminor Luna Rossa Regatta 47mm – $24,200
Panerai sponsors the 2020 America’s Cup Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team. The event’s been cancelled, disappointing dozens of fans. I jest. There are thousands. More than a few can afford this watch, which tempts them with its dark grey sailcloth dial. Not to mention the regatta timer (instrux here), also found on the Hodinkee-pimped Frederique Constant Yacht Timer.
You’d think Panerai could have flanked the crown with chronograph pushers on a 47mm watch, or made a sailing watch with better water resistance than 100m, or fit it with a waterproof strap. No such luck. Anyway, the Luna Rossa Regatta’s got a titanium case and an odd engraving of a sailboat on stilts. Buona fortuna per l’anno prossimo. For all of us.
I was just thinking: why doesn’t Bell & Ross make an OMEGA Speedmaster? Of course, they’re not identical – B&R’s tachymeter is on the watch’s inner flange rather than the outer bezel. And anyway, who doesn’t sell a black-and-white three sub-dial chronometer? The BR V3-94’s a grand less than Sir Speedy and no less grand with its semi-retro-style cushion case.
The BR V34-94 gets it’s get-up-and-go from Bell & Ross’ ubiquitous BR-CAL.301 movement, based on the ETA 2894-2. Blessed with a self-contained chronograph module, the engine offers a 42-hour power reserve. Water resistance is 100m. This is not the dive watch you’re looking for, but it is sharp, hardy and somewhat accurate (+/-20 secs. per day). We good?
As Alice Roosevelt Longworth said, if you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit next to me. Together we can talk about the advisability of buying a cheap-looking, flimsy-feeling automatic watch that can’t be serviced that’s made entirely by machines. A watch destined to either wear out and die or die of shame looking into a mirror.
New watch alert! HoDinkee doesn’t see it that way. (I’m as shocked as you are.) Deciding which of the two Sistem51 colorways is the more bland is like choosing between Barry Manilow and The Carpenters (a.k.a., the Shoot Me Now test). Still, you have to give Swatch credit for putting
lipstick on a pig a small seconds hand on the dial and setting the caseback designer loose with a Spirograph. You do. Not me.
The new watch alert amongst you will notice the new Shinola Duck has a rubber duck on the dial. Which brings to mind Ernie’s runway hit Rubber Duckie (Burt never got over the commercial betrayal). Which raises the question of water (and soap) resistance. The Shinola Duck handles that with ease – it’s water resistant to 200m. And its its mucho-macho “made in Detroit” gestalt balances out the You Are My Sunshine rainbow and unicorns vibe. Yeah about that Motown thing . . .
Shinola has taken a lot of shit – and we know the difference between the two – for piggybacking on Detroit’s Comeback Kid rep. Texan Tom Kartsotis owns Shinola and the watches are made from Chinese parts. To be fair, the new Duck’s got a Swiss movement (which probably has Chinese parts). Cultural appropriation and exploitation issues aside, do you really want to spend $650 on a watch powered by a $16 Ronda 713 quartz movement?
REC Watches P-51-03 – $1,495
Alternatively, what could be more American than a watch made out of a discarded Ford Mustang powered by a Japanese Miyota 9130 automatic movement? Provenance schmovenance. I RECkon the design’s a train REC – if nothing else “full” on the left just ain’t right. But I do appreciate the ability to check the watch’s VIN number against DMV records to see if I’ve bought a hot watch.
REC’s wrecking crew RECommends their 43mm REC as a REConciliation between seemingly irREConcilable style goals. “The gold bezel and screw-in crown stands in contrast to the black PVD steel case, making the P-51-03 a stealthy watch with noticeable wrist presence.” Regardless, it’s WAY better than anything Ford’s ever done with watches. But who’s gonna pony-up $1500 for the privilege of wearing a tiny piece of a wrecked secretary’s car?