Tudor Royal – $2,325
New watch alert! The just-released Tudor Royal puts the brand back where it began: as a Rolex for buyers who can’t afford a Rolex. For a watchmaker with a “Born to Dare” motto that’s found success stepping out of the shadow of its world-famous corporate stablemate with the Black Bay 58, offering a Rolex Day-Date/Datejust wannabe is a bit of a let down. With its pseudo-fluted bezel and Date-Day complication (Tudor’s reverse nomenclature), the Royal looks like an in-house knock off . . .
To keep costs down, the new Tudors rely on tried-and-true ETA movements – instead of the in-house Manufacture Calibre MT5612 that brought honor to us all. Tudor’s Royal family keeps the “luxury sports watch on the cheap” gestalt going with a screwdown caseback that protects the timepieces from water damage down to 100m. Just like big bro Roro, Tudor offers a Build-a-Bear widget to create your own Royal. Or you can choose from no less than 52 online combos. I didn’t see this one coming. Probably because I didn’t want to.
OMEGA is nothing if not new watch alert. They must have seen the press fawning over Rolex’s 2020 Submariners and thought boring, snoring! Check THIS bad boy: a Titanium ‑ Tantalum ‑ Sedna Gold diver chrono! Just so you know, tantalum is made from tarantula web, which has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than aluminum or steel. Actually, tarantulas don’t spin webs and tantalum is a corrosion resistant transition metal. The new OMEGA is a perfect transition for well-heeled watch buyers working their way up to a 60mm timepiece.
The new Seamaster clocks in at 44mm – a full 3mm larger than the recently embiggened Submariners. Big ass chrono pushers and a helium escape valve the size and shape of a small bundt cake create a watch with more presence than Santa Claus. It’s got the usual better-than-Rolex technical spec and a lacquered white seahorse on the sapphire caseback. A solid choice in every way – if solidity is your thing.
Comic strip character Charlie Brown was a poster child for Avoidant Personality Disorder (APD). Not helping matters: Snoopy always stole the show. To the point where anyone born in the last 30 years is thinking “Charlie Who?” Only Snoopy could sell a dull Marlin automatic whilst engaging in the only activity more boring to watch than sailboat racing. I suppose a manual typewriter fits the Timex’s retro vibe, but Snoopy’s insurmountable writer’s block makes this watch bad juju for authors.
It was a dark and stormy night when the designer came up with the sticker for the Marlin’s caseback. The lights were out and no one was home. From paper to platinum? Charlie Brown’s existential angst catch phrase “Good grief!” was the obvious play. Although a case could be made (so to speak) that the caseback should have carried the name of Snoopy’s Broadway belter: Suppertime! Regardless, Timex will sell a billion of these and I’ll be in the demo watch doghouse forevermore.
Chopard L.U.C XP Il Sarto Kiton LE – $10,800
This is a new watch alert, not a nude watch alert. How could it be? Chopard’s ultra-thin dress watch (7.2mm) wears an elegant black and gray lacquered-finished houndstooth dial based on the kiton fabric favored by King Edward VIII. It’s a strange choice – Eddie may have been a natty dresser but he was also a Nazi sympathizer. Anyway, this Chopard – Italian courtier collab is a wonderfully understated piece with an anglo-italo-swiss vibe. Whatever that is.
The Sarto Kiton’s transparent caseback reveals Chopard’s mechanical meisterwerk in basic black. Complete with a tungsten micro-rotor, the L.U.C 96.53-L automatic movement uses Chopard “Red Rum” Twin technology to provide a 58-hour power reserve. The engine’s strapped to its not-so-cash-strapped owner via a grey and black cashmere fabric strap lined in red alligator leather with red topstitching. I’m not a houndstooth kinda guy, but this watch is checkmate for some.
As a minimalist with a predilection for symmetrical dials I love me some JD Grande Seconde. I grooved on the blue and gray quantième titanium gray, the obvious predecessor to this lunatic lure. The new moonphase complication busies-up the sandblasted dial a bit, but not to the point where you can’t be seduced by the blued steel moon disc, 18-karat white gold star appliques and 22-karat white gold moon appliques. Amirite?
Jaquet Droz ain’t afraid to flex; the half-skeletonized rotor is guilty of double branding (our man Klosoff’s pet peeve). The calibre 2660QL3 is a bit of a babe, but you have to correct the moon phase complication every 122 years and 46 days – assuming you never let the watch wind down. I prefer the red gold with ivory colored “Grand Feu” enamel dial variant, but it costs more and gray is the new black, apparently.
Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE – $220, 500
America owes Ferdinand “No Bull” Berthoud a debt. His 18th century marine chronometers enabled the French fleet’s victory at the Battle of the Chesapeake – which pretty much ended the Revolutionary War. While the price of a modern day H.B. watch would have bought a boatload of Hessians, you get what you pay for: a 44mm 18k gold case protecting a 1,200 component in-house movement. Only $183 per part!
The tally includes 790 bits for the FB 2RE’s fusée-and-chain transmission (think a manually wound continuously variable car transmission). Mssr. Berthoud used the same mechanism for his marine chronometers. Like its predecessors, the watch is tuned to deliver ye olde “deadbeat seconds” – one “tick” per second, quartz-style. It looks like haute horlogerie’s future is still in its past. N’est-ce-pas?
Raketa Classic Big Zero Malevich – $1700
Modern Art adheres to the same principle as sexual preference: if you don’t understand it, it’s not for you. Saying that, if he were alive today, avant-garde artist Kazimir Melvich would say that the enmity generated by his famously infamous Black Square painting is part of what made it art. Russian watchmaker Raketa’s BS painting-inspired automatic timepiece faces the same scorn. “Most will hate it,” they admit, “few will love it.” Before rendering a judgement, consider this . . .
The original painting was solid black. Neglected for decades (used to cover a broken window), Melvich’s oil-on-linen shot across the art world’s bow came to resemble crazy paving. You can’t see it from the product shot, but Raketa uses a micro-mosaic technique on black jade, white jade and violan to recreate the effect. So the BZM’s a literal recreation of an abstract painting. Although not really, as every watch has a unique pattern of fake cracking. Go figure.
Oris’ latest version of its 41mm Big Crown ProPilot has more numbers circumnavigating the dial than you’d find on three lottery tickets. Perhaps it’s not ideal for a pilot’s watch, a genre where instant legibility is a sky high priority. Still, I don’t mean to beat it up. The mondo lumed hands and the black-and-blue color scheme goes a long way to keeping the design feeling mighty real.
The caseback features a simple, elegant and compelling engraving paying tribute to the aeronautic event that the watch celebrates – albeit a 2020 COVID cancelled competition. I’m not sure why the top plane is heading skywards – problem? – but it works artistically. The Oris calibre 798 (base Sellita SW330-1) is an accurate, reliable and easily serviced workhorse that helps Oris fulfil its affordability remit. So there is that.
Christopher Ward C60 Lympstone – $1,145
Is it cheating to include a watch in our New Watch Alert if the bracelet is the only thing that’s changed from an established model? Yes! But there may be some of you who’ve held off buying a Christopher Ward watch – one of the best value mechanicals on the market today – because Mr. Ward normally stacks his name at the 9 o’clock, and this one doesn’t.
Besides, that’s a particularly fetching shade of black affixing the 42mm watch to its owner’s wrist, and Mr. Ward’s metal bracelets offer excellent quality for the money. The Lympstone is a tough old bird – approved by the Ministry of Defence, water-resistant to 600m and powered by a certified-chronometer Sellita SW200. The lume is sexy AF and you can replace the bracelet with a strap via CW’s quick release system. What’s not to love?
Alpina Startimer Automatic – $1k
Alpina is owned by Frederique Constant which is owned by Citizen. Alpina suffers the same “challenges” faced by a number of Swiss watchmakers at this price point: too many SKUs, no easily discernible raisons d’être and the prospect of death-by-smartwatch. After bombing with their hybrids, Alpina’s latest attempt to stay relevant is a series of five new 40mm versions of their 44mm Startimer.
I’m highlighting the white dial because the other models are generic (if handsome) pilot’s watches; this one has a bit more spizzarkle for daily wear. The horizontal indices at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 remain a refreshing change from convention. The fact that none of the 40’s are on Alpina’s website and there aren’t any caseback pics or customer reviews doesn’t fill one with confidence about the brand’s future. Shame.
Citizen Buzz Lightyear LE – $295
To infinity, and beyond! Unfortunately, Citizen’s making a finite number of these Buzz Lightyear watches – 500. I suspect they’re already gone, heading to planet eBay for a significant premium, and beyond! I love how the dial recreates the Space Ranger’s chest plate, featuring his badge at the 12 o’clock, rather than slapping on an image of Buzz. Sure, it’s large (45mm) and needs a star to power it. But it’s still more fun than a barrel of monkeys.
Oooooooooooooooh. A stranger from the outside! I really like the three-eyed LGM (Little Green Man) on the caseback throwing his hands up in greeting. That’s the kind of fun Timex should have had with the Snoopy watch’s obverse. The Citizen’s black silicone strap is accented with Buzz’s trademark neon-green color with a splash of green around the crown just for fun. If you don’t like this watch you are a sad, strange little man and you have my pity.
Swatch Greetings From Vienna – $95
We end today’s New Watch Alert by joining Swatch to celebrate the United Nations’ World Tourism Day. I know right? “Daydreaming of the next time you can get out and take a trip?” Swatch asks, acknowledging COVID-19’s decimation of international travel. “We are too! While travel options have been limited this year, we want to honor World Tourism Day by offering special access to our exclusive destination watches.”
Normally, Swatch only sell the location-specific watches in the relevant location – like Starbucks city-specific coffee mugs. I have a sneaking suspicion that selling these watches online has less to do with honoring WTD than shifting excess inventory. Anyway, they’re available until the 29th. “The most beautiful travels are the ones you have yet to make.” Just as the most beautiful watches they have yet to make. Just sayin’ . . .