New watch alert! Actually, new bracelet alert! Actually, new Rolex – bracelet combination alert! Wait. Has Rolex become so important to the watch world that attaching an existing Oysterflex bracelet to an existing Sky-Dweller passes for news? Obviously. So I’ll just say one word about the result: donk . . .
A donk is “any car that has huge wheels, bright colors, low-profile tires, flashy rims and a lifted chassis.” This 42mm Rolex donk has the same vibe, what with its gold dust ruffle, date wart, black ‘n gold color combo and an annual calendar named Saros. Good luck finding one, if that’s your thing.
Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU – $4,499
Ball really gets into the thick of things with their new dive watch. It’s 17.3mm thick to be precise – a full 4mm fatter than a Rolex Submariner. And no wonder. Ball’s 42mm behemoth – named after the Navy Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU) – is water resistant to 600m (300m deeper than the Sub). It’s a serious piece of kit for anyone foolish enough to scuba that deep without a proper dive computer . . .
The tritium-enhanced NEDU is powered by Ball’s COSC-certified caliber RR1402-C (ETA Valjoux-base) movement. It’s protected by a patented automatic helium release valve (in the crown), 7,500 Gs shock resistance and imperviousness to magnetic fields up to 4,800A/m. The Unique Selling Point: two chamfers cut into the case flange that drain any water retained during a dive. Under-bezel dive watch corrosion has finally met is match.
Seiko Astron SBXC075 LE – $5606
You have to stay new watch alert to catch odd-balls like this Astron, commemorating the release of the retro-styled Honda e EV. When I say “odd” I mean it’s the only Seiko Astron that doesn’t evoke the epithet known in these parts as “content vomit.” Which is just as well – the SBXC075 is more than twice as expensive as the functionally identical Seiko Astron SSH024 (also on a rubber strap). The big diff: the LE has a titanium case with a DiaShield coating.
As you’d expect, the 45mm solar powered SBXC705 seeks out satellites to set the time and date. There’s a perpetual calendar (good to February 28, 2100), 10 bar water resistance, time transfer (from main dial to second dial) and the world’s most unobjectionable power reserve indicator. Not to harp on about money, but the watch costs a little over 1/5th of a base Honda e. (I thought you might get a charge out of that.)
I understand why someone would want a skeltonized Zenith (the majority of their Defy models). Released in 1969, killed by Zenith Radio in 1971, resurrected from hidden plans and machines in 1979, sold to Rolex for their Daytona, the El Primero movement is a superstar. New watch alert! There it is, listening to Lady A’s accolade. And why not? The B&W’s 21’s jumbo hands and dark parts make it a remarkably legible timekeeper.
The chrono runs on the El Primero 9004 automatic movement. And I do mean runs – the second hand makes a full rotation when activated. But you knew that, right? Is this the El Primero you’ve been waiting for? Style-wise, the 44mm white-on-black ceramic-cased timepiece completes the look for men partial to tuxedo shoes. I still prefer the Defender, but then I don’t have any skeletons in my closet. And if you believe that . . .
I draw Grand Seiko’s attention to the most famous line in The Mask: SOMEBODY STOP ME! This is the fifth 60th Anniversary model in the brand’s previously announced series of four 60th Anniversary models. The catchily named SBGR321 differs from the quartz model (reviewed here) in that it isn’t quartz. The automatic Caliber 9S65 on display has a blue rotor that looks a bit like a washing machine agitator. And then there’s the dial . . .
“The brilliant blue sky over Mt. Iwate at dawn that greets the watchmakers and technicians of the Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi is a sight to behold, especially when it is tinged with the red of the morning sun. It is this combination of colors that has inspired the design of this new automatic timepiece.” So what inspired GS to release so many models this year. I reckon Elvis has the answer.
New watch alert! GP made a huge mistake unveiling this watch as a limited edition of 188 pieces. The Infinity is one-of-if-not-the most gorgeous watches they’ve ever made – a suitable alternative to the 437 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak variants. GP could sell this Infinity all day, every day, to the end of days. Its two-tone oynx dial – sporting rhodium-plated hour and minute hands and pink-gold seconds hand and applied indices – is a genuine stunner.
If I have one complaint – and I usually do – the new logo looks like one of those Star Wars pod racers coming head-on. It’s an unwelcome distraction from the watch’s otherwise stellar minimalism. Flipping the Infinity over reveals the GP1800-1404 engine, beating at 28,800 vph, offering a 54-hour power reserve. This GP is a slim (10.7mm), right-sized (42mm) luxury steel sports watch for the ages.
What was it Alice Roosevelt Longworth had embroidered on her pillow? If you can’t say something good about someone, come sit by me. Pull up a cushion folks. Regular readers are well aware of my aversion to Mssr. Mille’s high-tech, high-priced watches. This new piece breaks new ground on the complications front, while maintaining Mille’s Medusa-class ugliness.
RM made the 11-05 out of
cement gray cermet – a material that’s harder than understanding why anyone would pay $215k for a 50mm watch that’s thicker than the aforementioned Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU, or six dress watches stacked one atop the other (42.7mm). Where was I? The RM 11-05 combines a GMT with a flyback chronograph and a day/date/month calendar – if you can find them on the dial. I refuse to look.
Sinn U1 DE LE – $2840
The Sinn U1 DE celebrates the 30th Anniversary of German reunification. The matte black case, gold-plated second hand and red typography match the colors of the German flag. More importantly – at least to my mind – this 44mm dive watch is a BEAST. We’re talking 1000m water resistance in a watch made of German submarine steel, certified to DNV GL-rated scuba specs.
The U1 DE’s TEGIMENTED case shelters a premium grade Sellita SW 200-1 – a time tested workhorse well up to the job of not breaking. The movement provides hacking seconds, +/-4 sec/day accuracy and a 38-hour power reserve. I’m not a fan of the Minecraft-style indices but I am a huge fan of Sinn’s bullet-proof build and their U.S. dealer’s customer service. Far be it for me to encourage anyone to Sinn, but yeah, they’re that good.
MAT Watches Egg Master Watch – $1,438.80
I often laud chronographs for their ability to time eggs. New watch alert! France’s MAT watches got the yolk. Their quartz-powered Master Egg Watch is the official watch of the Eggs Mayonnaise World Championship. The dial is a bit scrambled, but this is the kind of task-focused timepiece the watch industry needs to compete against the smartwatch. Our man at HoDinkee understands how it works (edited for brevity):
“With the crown, you position the central hand on the egg located between 8 and 9 minutes. The Egg Master track counts eight minutes and 40 seconds, the perfect cooking time for oeuf mayonnaise. The quartz-powered timer beeps every minute as the finish time approaches, and speeds up in the final moments, ensuring that the cook is well positioned to retrieve their egg from the pot of boiling water.” Um, why fried eggs on the dial?
Behold! The world’s thinnest tourbillon chronograph – a category only slightly less crowded than the world’s most fire retardant paper hat. The Octo is just 1.95 mm thick. (Seems to be a theme today.) Why? As Virgil wrote in the Aeneid, possunt quia posse videntur. They can because they think they can. OK, sure, just because you can do something does mean you should. To which I reply, why not? Bvlgari got TTAW to write about it didn’t they?
That’s after Bvlgari spent five years developing this horological singularity. A one-off only until the watchmaker cranks up production to 50 pieces. Siri makes that $7.1m gross. So maybe Bvlgari had non-PR-related motives. Still, props to the Swiss watchmaker for setting a world record with the world’s most useless wristwatch complication (i.e. a tourbillon).
Gerald Genta (a.k.a., the greatest watch designer of all time) pushed the edge of the envelope with this jumping hours and retrograde minutes watch. In 2000, he sold his brand and designs to Bvlgari. This riff on Jerry’s classic timepiece features a brushed titanium case, held to the wrist by a matte black alligator strap with a titanium tang buckle (a great name for a dance move).
The jumping hours jumps to it thanks to Bvlgari’s bidirectional self-winding BVL 300 caliber, holding 42 hours of power in reserve on a full wind. I’m not sure Mr. Genta would approve of those embiggened hands, the yellow indices, the date window’s shape or the silver horseshoe, but it’s good to see Bvlgari taking risks. Albeit retro risks. And the new watch is significantly cheaper than the [far more attractive] $64k version. So there is that.
Shinola the Duck – $695
I recently gave shit to Shinola for their faux authenticity. For the record, I’m glad they’re assembling watches from “Swiss and imported parts” in The Motor City. And hats off for bringing high horology design to the masses without resorting to slavish imitation. In this case, their Duck uses Blancpain’s “life preserver” style bezel to great effect.
The 42mm three-hander is motivated by Shinola’s Argonite 713 (base Ronda 5021) quartz movement. As you’d hope, the Duck’s water resistant to 200m. I haven’t sampled Shinola’s expandable rubber band – the same one found on the automatic Monster Series. With a 22m lug width, aftermarket alternatives abound. New watch alert! Shinola the Duck has nothing to do with Howard the Duck. Or does it?