New watch alert! As Coronageddon and the smart watch crisis take their toll on the traditional watch industry, you’d think watchmakers would scale back new product, cut the number of model variations, amp-up direct-to-customer comms, hunker down and prepare for the new, smaller market. Nope. The new watch flood continues, including . . .
Seiko Presage SPB171 LE – $2050
It pays to stay new watch alert, as this is the only Seiko with an unobjectionable power reserve indicator. Sure, the dial’s a bit busy, what with the upside down Roman numerals and a second hand shaped like a croissant. But the double-sunk Arita porcelain dial is a babe and the black semi-circle to the left of the indicator somehow makes things right. It’s even better in all-black.
The porcelain Presage is powered by Seiko’s 6R27 caliber. It’s not the Japanese watchmaker’s best effort, but it beats at a smooth-running 28,800 vph. After a full wind, an unmolested SPB171 keeps going for 45 hours. Seiko claims +25 – 15 seconds per day accuracy, so meh. The dial’s the thing. Or not. Your call, but Tinder (i.e., see it in the flesh before you decide to take it home).
The watchmaker that prides itself on accuracy made a halo watch without any aesthetic connection to any of their other products featuring the world’s most useless complication – which has to be seen in action to be appreciated. If then. To OMEGA’s credit, they put the tourbillon in the middle of the 43mm watch and . . . that’s about it.
And then there’s all the technical stuff: Master Chronometer-rated new double-barrel calibre 2640 movement, 15k gauss magnetic resistance (when a Rolex Milgauss is insufficient by a factor of 15), three-day power reserve, 30m water resistance. There’s plenty o’ anti-bling bling; the case, crown, bridges and mainplate are fashioned from 18k gold. All for a lot less than a Patek tourbillon. So there is that.
I know what you’re thinking: $5k for a Citizen watch? The Citizen Caliber 0100 – the world’s most accurate timepiece that doesn’t rely on an external signal – sold out at $16.8k. The F950 is entirely accurate – being GPS-set and all – and it’s also made of Super Titanium™. Unlike so many Citizen GPS models, the F950’s perfectly legible and not desperately ugly.
Considering all the hoopla surrounding Super Titanium™ – we’re going to send it to the moon as a spindly-legged server rack! – it’s strange that no one mentions this 50th Anniversary Citizen’s weight. We’re looking at 47.5mm watch with chunkier links than a tugboat anchor. Also, when did Mao become a place?
Forty-eight-years after the Royal Oak’s debut, Gerald Genta’s groundbreaking design is finally dead. New watch alert! Audemars Piguet threw everything it owns at Genta’s design and then beat it with a ugly stick until it was unrecognizable as an Oak. The Concept’s octagonal bezel is the only indication of its family heritage – which is nowhere near enough to make up for those lugs.
Not to put too fine a point on it, the sandblasted titanium-cased 44mm Flying Tourbillon GMT is shockingly ugly. I’ve got no beef with the 348-piece Calibre 2954 movement’s accuracy, intricacy or durability. And it’s a bit unfair to pick on this model when AP sells three equally hideous non-flying tourbillons Oaks. But a Royal Oak isn’t a Hublot. ‘Nuff said?
The Autodromo Safari claims to celebrate “the last romantic era of motorsport.” The fact that so many Group B drivers and “spectators” were killed on the “courses” casts some doubt on that claim. Be that as it is, our man Ibis is new watch alert – and hates himself for liking the Safari. “It’s a hipster Hodinkee Worn & Wound bullshit cheap watch, but it’s all pumped up.” O.K. then.
The Safari’s stainless steel integrated bracelet evokes ’80’s Porsche Design. A hardy and hackable Miyota 9015 automatic movement nestles inside a 39mm titanium capsule. Accurate to -10 to +30 seconds per day, the BS2S isn’t a rally driver’s first choice. But the dial was inspired by Lancia Rally 037‘s tachometer, so it will go fast. The watch or the car? You tell me.
BACKFIRE – $650 for two
When it comes to Kickstarter watches, I’m always new watch alert. Make that wary. I approach them with the same skepticism I lavish on politicians’ promises. The BACKFIRE is no exception – especially when 80 percent of the Hong-Kong-based promoter’s images were taken side on. Clocking the pic above it’s easy enough to see why.
Props to BACKFIRE for devising a temporal transmission system (movement), a “roll cage” (lug case) and a caseback that’s a gearhead’s delight – literally. Even if you stay new watch alert, there’s no guarantee you’ll ever see one of these things in the wild. Or on your doorstep. Servicing? LOL.
“Inspired by DELMA’s Bicompax chronographs launched in the 1960s . . . the independent Swiss brand celebrates a time when technical progress was to ensure peace and prosperity for new generations.” As a child of the 60’s, three words: “atom bomb” and “Vietnam.” But as long as the bracelet isn’t a POS, let’s stick with the Donald Fagan I.G.Y. vibe.
The “peace at any price” 42mm DCBC runs off a customized automatic Bicompax Sellita SW510 (ETA 7753 clone) or, for less money, a quartz Ronda Z50. Although sold as a racing watch, the Bicompax is water resistant to 300m – enough for swimming pool posing or body-surfing sorties. No matter which model you choose, you’re sure to be caught red handed.
Who is this TAD? That’s what WASPs call someone named Theodore, right? TAD must be a pretty straightforward kinda guy – the watch carrying his name is a 40mm solar-powered three-hander with a 120-click uni-directional rifle-edged bezel and a date window, good to 300m below the waves.
As usual, the SuperLumiNova C3 lume is what tickles my fancy. I probably shouldn’t use those words, given that the brand’s rep rests on the macho attaboys of law enforcement and military users. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Or, it appears, this watch.
Luminox Pacific Diver – $595
As a legibility guy, I’m not exactly Wildman about fully blacked-out watches. The new Luminox Pacific Diver’s luminous hands kinda sorta help the diving watch transcend that issue – pushing the Ronda 515 quartz-powered 42mm timepiece into the realm of minimalism. But what I can’t abide . . .
. . . is that band. It looks about as flexible as a 60-year-old Jewish writer (don’t ask me how I know). At $595, I wouldn’t be happy shelling-out more money for a more comfortable yet appropriately black band. Still, the gas tubes lighting up the Pacific Diver are good for 25 years, so I’d have time to search. As do you, apparently.
Garmin MARQ Golfer – $1850
It pays to stay new watch alert. The new Garmin MARQ Golfer is $650 cheaper than the last week’s TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition. On the digital face of it, the GARMIN does everything the TAG does, in pretty much the same way. That includes a Virtual Caddie, advising well-heeled golfers which club to play and where to hit the ball on any of 40k golf courses.
Like the TAG, the Garmin’s only good for one-round in full golf mode (eight hours). Avoid a “good walk spoiled” and the MARQ will do all the smartwatch stuff – music, contactless pay, emails, text alerts, directions, etc. – for 12 days between charges. TAG’s watch says “Golf Edition” on its titanium case, Garmin’s says “Hole Indicator.” The word “ass” being conspicuously absent.
I’m not sure why Ball revived their foundational pocket watch business with an Art Deco piece. The company was built on its American railroad pocket watches. And why a spinning “secometer” instead of a seconds’ sub-dial? Whatever. Ball’s new pocket watch is made of stainless steel with an engravable caseback, factory-finished at no charge. Super LuminNova lume on the bezel but not on the hands? Awesomely ridiculous!
The pocket watch redux runs on Ball’s in-house caliber RR2102. Unlike the hideous Richard Mille pocket watch, Ball’s engine is a 17-jewel jewel, easily viewed by unscrewing the caseback. Unlike the original Ball watches, the Secometer is stem set (no need to remove the crystal to set the time). If this bad boy’s half as well made as Ball’s wristwatches, it’s the pocket watch bargain of a lifetime – if you’re a Deco devotee.
Grand Seiko SBGJ239 – $6,600
Now that it’s gone worldwide, Grand Seiko is busy disabusing customers of the notion that their watches are exclusive. The brand’s introducing more new models than Paris Fashion Week. Clocking-in at 44.2mm and 14.4mm thick, the new SBGJ239 is no stick figure. It’s not clear which international man of mystery needs to keep track of three separate time zones, but legibility is a go.
The GMT runs off of GS’ 10-beats-per-second Hi-Beat 9S86 automatic movement. The Japanese watchmakers claims -5 to +3 seconds a day accuracy and a 55-hour power reserve. For another $600, you can buy the SBJ239 on a steel bracelet, but the black leather strap makes the bi-color bezel pop. Or you can forget the whole thing and wait five minutes for the next Grand Seiko to appear.