Fortis Flieger F-39 – $3400
“This is not a pilot’s watch,” Fortis proclaims on its website. “It is a piece of time.” It’s pizza time? But seriously, why call the F-39 a flieger and flee from the facts? Sure, fliegers have two dots on either side of the 12 o’clock triangle, but who’s zoomin who? Anyway, new watch alert! The new Fortis Flieger F-39 is a brutally handsome and, above all, legible timekeeper. Better yet . . .
It’s built like a brick Scheißhaus. No transparent caseback peep show here. Just a 39mm stainless steel screwdown case engraved with a fliegeriffic propeller. Fortis ain’t sayin’ which movement donated its bits to their UW-30 engine, but it’s been modded for durability. Another $500 buys a bigger dial on a steel bracelet, but the sustainably produced vegetable tanned leather strap better suits the tool watch vibe. Tool watch. Not pilot’s watch. M’kay?
Unimatic X Mihara Yasuhiro U1-MY2 LE – ?
Now there’s something you don’t see everyday. In fact, there’s something you can’t see. Italy’s Unimatic teamed-up with Japanese designer Mihara Yasuhiro for this post-modern monochromatic diver’s watch. It combines a white matte dial with white indices (with white Super-LumiNova) surrounded by a white rotating bezel and steel case (courtesy Cerakote), attached to a white calf leather strap.
The white time is the right time thanks to a Seiko NH35A automatic running at 21600 bph with a 41h power reserve and hacking seconds. The accuracy isn’t stellar (-20/+40 seconds a day), but the watch is water resistant to 300m. And entirely legible at night. The not dissimilar Unimatic UF-1 runs $525, so this statement piece shouldn’t cost much. And sell out like that.
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Suburbia – $858,500
Twin titanium tourbillons may balance out the Excalibur’s design but it does zip in terms of accuracy. Which isn’t the point. It’s all about the Benjamins. I’m O.K. with that. aBlogtoWatch isn’t. “Roger Dubuis openly describes the watch as ‘the ultimate totem for a tribe of people who trust that life is but a game that is for making the most of’ — in other words, those who successfully (and often egregiously) exploit others.”
Pot calling kettle black? Anyway, you’re looking at an 18k white gold 45mm watch adorned with 600 tetrahedron-cut diamonds and deep blue sapphires affixed with sufficient craftsmanship to earn the Geneva Seal. The RD108SQ movement’s good for 72 hours of power reserve. Roger calls the watch an example of “Hyper Horlogerie.” We call it Hyper Bling. Or just plain hype.
Urwerk UR-220 – $160k
Urwerk watches are notably gem-free. They justify their astronomical price with high-tech design using high-tech materials. Urwerk fashions the new watch’s lug-free case from 81 layers of carbon thin-ply composite in a circular pattern – creating far more visual interest than its predecessor and “slimming down” to 14.8mm. The ribbing at the bottom of the “dial” is also welcome and new, if not the ribbing its owner will take from Patek owners.
The caseback reveals the time left before an “oil change.” Given the unknown but no doubt expensive cost of servicing the UR-220 – you’d like insure this package for how much? – it should Bluetooth to your accountant. The rubber strap is also new and semi-ironic – the UR-220 is only water resistant to 10m. Still, the UR-220 offers enough spizzarkle to make UR-221 owners jelly. Do they do trade-ins?
Vertex Bronze 75 – $3k
Old new watch alert! Seems like just yesterday that everyone and their mother was bringing out a bronze watch, with the Tudor Black Bay Bronze leading the charge. The unique selling point: the case oxidizes over time, creating an “aged” patina. Vertex comes late to the party with a new old design that will eventually become an old-looking new old design. Go figure.
Vertex’s “tribute” to the watch they produced for the British military in 1944 and 1945 is a modern size timepiece (40mm), attached to a reproduction A.F.0210. military strap, powered by a top grade ETA 7001. The solid caseback and dial display the up arrow indicating [pretend] military issue. Fauxtina haters need not apply and it’s a bit dear, but what price bronze age nostalgia?
Yema Superman Bronze Black GMT – $749 (Kickstarter)
A lot less money for bronze here – and you get a new in-house caliber with a GMT function. We’ve review two Yema’s (five-star Flygraf here, four star Navygraf Heritage here), both of which were superb value-for-money propositions. Available in either 39 or 41mm, the new watch dives to an deeply admirable 990 feet and offers the proprietary Superman bezel-lock at 3 o’clock, found on all Superman models since 1963.
Yema claims the Kickstarter-funded YEMA3000 GMT Caliber is accurate to +/- 10 seconds per day. The “it’s not a ETA or Miyota” bragging rights are incontrovertible (comparison chart here). As is the fact that your Superman will have to fly back to France for servicing. The movement will make its way into other models; this one’s a limited edition of 1948 pieces that’s sure to sell out. As a bronze watch it will fade, but not fade away.
Hublot 40th Anniversary Black Ceramic LE – $10,400
I was going to pass on passing on this putting this watch in today’s new watch alert. The titanium, gold and steel versions are boring AF and the date window sticks out like the Pope at a craps table. The black ceramic whispers “buy me” minimalism. The Darth Vader aesthetic makes the titanium H screws a feature not a bug. That said, the misaligned screw at 8 o’clock screams DON’T DO IT at my OCD.
For the history minded, “the Brand’s creation of a gold watch on a rubber strap in 1980 broke with conventional codes and laid the foundations for its own vision of Haute Horlogerie.” The 40th Anniversary models are updated with the Hublot’s HUB1112 (base Sellita SW300-1) behind a transparent caseback. Oh, and the original Hublot Fusion’s 12 conventionally shaped, solid gold case screws doubled as indices. And they were perfectly aligned.
Swatch SILVERWAKATI – $70
Swatch collectors! New watch alert! Sell! Swatch’s re-issue of their 1983 debut timepieces is gonna ding the original versions’ value. Meanwhile, a message to Swatchistas who weren’t born when ETA created the first plastic fantastic watch (a Hail Mary in the middle of the quartz crisis): the debut Swatches were 34mm. As is this one. Go small or go home.
Given the wild designs of current line, it’ll be interesting to see if this restrained timepiece finds favor. Today’s Swatch is all about bold designs and computerized personalization (within prescribed limits). If you’re a minimalist, you might even say Swatch lost their way – even as they saved the entire Swiss watch industry. Which could use a bit more saving right about now. Just sayin’ . . .
Ralph Lauren Polo Watch Collection – $1,650 to $2,150
When HoDinkee can’t say anything nice about a watch, there’s nothing nice to say. You know those speech balloons over a comic character’s head? Danny Milton’s “initial thoughts” are an empty bubble. Allow me . . . New watch alert! At best, Ralph Lauren’s “polo” watch is kitsch. At worst, it’s tacky. To paraphrase legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, the Polo logo isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.
The 42mm self-proclaimed “fashion watch” runs on the RL200 caliber – a Sellita SW300-1 with a Ralph Lauren-branded rotor and Côtes de Genève stripes. Cost of the actual movement? About $300. The rest of your money buys you 100m water resistance and a steel bracelet of unknown quality. The Jaeger-leCoultre’s Reverso is the real polo watch, but reality is no match for RL’s relentless refashioning of WASP gestalt. Much to the delight of Chinese counterfeiters.
Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 600 – $845
Instead of spending a grand-and-a-half for a faux dive watch with a prancing pony, how about using the readies for a real diver with a zirconia ceramic bezel, leaving enough lucre to buy Muffy and the girls a round of champers? The C60’s lacquered, equine-free dial boasts brushed and polished indexes. It’s circumnavigated by a redesigned hour hand that’s a “bold arrow contrasting against its baton-shaped minute partner.” Sounds like a party to me.
The C60’s engraved screwdown caseback shelters a Sellita SW200-1, good for +/- 20 seconds per day accuracy and 38 hours of power reserve. We’ve gone hands on with Mr. Ward’s C65 Trident Diver and not found it wanting. There’s every reason to believe the C60 can take it to the (600m) limit one more time. Fashion victims may not agree, but even on terra firma Christopher Ward is the chukker champion’s best bet.
Accutron Legacy “521” LE – $1450
New watch alert! Accutron’s offering authentically-sized recreations of its 1960’s watches in their new Legacy collection (again, collectors will be a LOT less than thrilled). Bulova’s decision to power the pieces with a Sellita-based automatic movement is so wrong it’s astounding. The name Accutron was coined for the Bulova’s battery-powered movement that kept time via a tuning fork driven by an electromagnetic coil system. This is like putting a modern turbo four into a reproduction 1963 split window Vette.
The asymmetrical model above – 32.8 x 32.5mm – is a recreation of the 521. The original lured celebs with a 14k gold case. The “gold-tone” stainless steel incarnation is both overpriced and underwhelming. The early 521’s weren’t water resistant, whereas its ancestor is good for unlimited handwashing (50m). Bottom line: an Accutron that doesn’t hum, that doesn’t have a sweeping second hand, doesn’t deserve the name.
TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph – $5,350
TAG Heuer knocked it out of the park with this one. It’s not retro, exactly, but it’s faithful to the simplicity and utility of its horological forebears. By simplifying the small seconds hand “subdial,” the designers created a hugely legible bi-compax chronograph. At the same time, the indices-less space renders the date window [largely] inoffensive. Not to mention right-sized hands and the blessed lack of a tachymeter and external bezel.
The Carrera’s luminous hands are powered by TAG’s in-house Calibre HEUER 02. Launched in 2018, the temporal engine is thinner than its predecessor and offers a massive 80 hour power reserve. The column wheel, vertical clutch chrono measures down the quarter second, and/or up to 12 hours and 30 minutes. The Carrera’s not COSC-certified, so ultimate accuracy is not the thing. Beauty, as always, is.
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THANK YOU for calling out Bulova and these new “Accutron” models. I was rather confused when I first saw some headlines about these things… “but wait, they’re called Accutron but they’re *not* those new electrostatic thingamajigs?!”. I feel like Bulova has, in one fell swoop, tossed out any brand mojo they created when they relaunched Accutron. Do they not have Product Managers thinking about this stuff?
Agree on the tonedeaf inauthenticity of an automatic Accutron. The Urwerk weird watch chose to go clockwise with that minute display, which is counter to the intuitive left-to-right reading as far as my mind is concerned. The Swatch is price is fairly original, adjusted for inflation.
Why did Lauren not get the memo that the cut out for the quick change spring bars shouldn’t go to the end of the band? That’s going to curl at the edge and look awful in no time.
In future please send the memo to Rupert at Richemont and cc Ralph at Lauren.
If you think it is “going to look awful in no time” how do you describe how it looks now?
Richemont is responsible for the watch making and Ralph “I’m interested in longevity, timelessness, style – not fashion” Lauren is responsible for how this watch looks. I think Ralph should add branding to his stated interests (source of stated interests: Forbes).
Shopping list this week would be the non-flying Fortis. Is it in lockdown? If it can’t fly then I’d be happy taking the Fortis for a walk and a run.
The matte white Yusuhiro is interesting; wouldn’t wear except for clubbing but in that circumstance I would not want to know the time anyway. I have seen lume-heads in club corners happily fixated on their wrists for hours as the seconds (and the dance mixes) pass on by. Anyway this is like the ‘idea of a watch’ in an arty or philosophical kind of way. A palimpsest for the wrist.
Didn’t even know that I liked tetrahedron-cut stones but I do. What kind of suburb does Dubuis live in? Imagine the paving; marquise mosaics mingling with these tetras.
Vertex Bronze 75 – every collection needs one bronze to enjoy the never-ending march of time with. Or if you can’t enjoy then you could contemplate the never-ending march of time as the patina patins. Vertex might be late to the party but if you are too then this is good timing and a great choice. Any tricks to accelerate bronze aging? Specifically for watches (which can’t be dipped or soaked in a solution like your favourite bronze desk sculpture). Keen on the recovered-from-a-shipwreck-possibly-the-Titanic look.
The Hublot – I will leave it to Mr Racer88 to comment on that one while I study up on torque application whilst screwing. The answer must be in the opening position.
Swatch – I did have a comment about this ‘second watch’ but now it has fled my mind and I don’t really want to try and remember. It was one word though, ah, here it comes: landfill.
If the Polo mallet was a ‘small seconds’ hand then I could take this Swiss watch seriously. Maybe the mallet should be swapped out for a mattock swinging sapphire smithereens, so that the horse and rider can gallop, far far away.
Not very nice of the reviewer to lump this into the kitch aesthetic.
Christopher Ward – awkward and odd placement of the brand name on the (thankfully) ‘equine-free dial’. Excellent pricing though and that is nice to see after several ‘k’ suffixes in this post.
Finally, The Tech Avant-Garde Heuer – if you have to have a date window then this non-intrusive one is brilliant. Can’t think of a better window except none at all, ever.
I concur that the polo player dial deco, or for that matter any other watch design, should borrow the Mickey Mouse watch hands gimmick.
Lots of laughs from me (and Gérald Genta).