OMEGA makes more Moonwatch models than there are stars in the sky. More or less. New watch alert! The latest model celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Silver Snoopy Award NASA gave OMEGA 1970, when Apollo 13 astronauts used an Speedmaster to time the 14 second burn that stopped them from ricocheting off the Earth’s atmosphere into space. So a good story for a watch with a cheerful dial. But wait! There’s more!
Activate the chrono, flip the watch and watch a command module – attached to a “magic hand” – circumnavigate a quarter moon while the Earth rotates once per minute. It’s not a Disney Audio-Animatronic but it is powered by a class caliber: OMEGA Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 3861. Which is best appreciated through a transparent caseback. But then you’d miss the show, wouldn’t you?
Audemars Piguet Carillon Supersonnerie LE – $774,542
Audemars Piguet’s CODE 11.59 didn’t exactly set the world on fire. And yet AP’s 11.59 development program continues apace; with 28 variations on the theme of meh. Enter CODE 11.59 number 29, a super-complicated gong-sounding watch with crop circles (a.k.a., paillons). The Grande Sonnerie Supersonnerie is your basic halo watch, designed as much to keep AP at the top of the Trinity as tempt billionaire buyers. Does this ring true? Well . . .
the Grande Sonnerie Supersonnerie sure rings a lot. Owners can select a grand strike (hour and quarter hour), a small strike (hourly) or have the watch go on strike (no bells). To accomplish all that and tell the time, the 29.9mm GSS’ Caliber 2956 contains 489 parts. As you know doubt noticed, said owner has to part with the better part of million dollars for said bits. As HoDinkee’s Jack Forster wisely opined “It costs whatever it costs.” You heard it here second.
Casio G-SHOCK AW-500E-1EJF – $120
From the sublime to the ridiculous, or vice versa. This new G-SHOCK is Japan-only for the moment. Will it enjoy the same success in The Land of the Free as the now legendary Casioak (GA-2100 1A)? Maybe. The bezel’s less evocative, but the watch is more legible, more macho, just as tough and a quarter of the price. New watch alert! Casio’s selling six models, including a red watch and more expensive metal bracelet options. The all-black is the one that captures the nostalgia of the late 80’s Casio ani-digis.
There’s no word on what functions the new 500’s has on offer, but we can be reasonably sure time and tide information isn’t among them. It’s amazing how well this design has held up – almost as well as the watches themselves hold up under extreme conditions. I’d love to have the same model with luminous hands, but I’m not ready to dip my hands in luminous paint.
I’m a big fan of Cuervo Y Sobrinos (Churchill Yalta review here, brand history here). I’m not sure how CYS stay in business with their pricing structure, but I’m glad they do. Their new Historiador Landeron extends their rep for Latin minimalism [sic] with a 40mm white dial bi-compax chrono with blued hands that’s easier to read than the third line of an eye chart.
The watch takes it name from its fully restored Landeron 248 movement – the temporal engine that brought chronographs to the masses in the 50’s and 60’s. Don’t worry: CYS’s Swiss watchmakers do nothing but quality work and there are plenty of replacement parts. If the style suits, I’d look at the rest of the CYS catalogue first. But if you’re old new watch alert, this is a rare bird worthy of a new nest.
Why would anyone spend seven bills on a new Italian watch that looks like an old – sorry, “pre-distressed” – Italian watch? How self-consciously ironic do you have to be to wear a watch proclaiming itself in the same condition as an OUT OF ORDER soda machine? The kind of person who revels in post-apocalyptic movies, I suppose. If I bought the Black Swiss Automatic I couldn’t wait to send my damaged damaged watch back for repair.
Water resistant to 100m, the OOO’s powered a STP 1-11 made by a Fossil Group subsidiary (a company that knows a thing or two about making cheap – not to mention cheap looking – watches.) The Black Swiss Automatic’s bizarre selling point: the warning printed on the inner bezel: “Do not cook spaghetti for more than eight minutes.” I guess Al Dente works for OOO ’cause some people prefer a 12 minute cooking time. The things you learn on the New Watch Alert . . .
Brits were once known for their stiff upper lip: their ability to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune without complaint (or apparent emotion). Elliot Brown’s watches embody that ethos. The new 43mm Holton’s minimalist dial is protected by a 2mm scratch resistant sapphire crystal treated with “lifetime anti-reflective coating.” The high grip screw down crown – tucked away at the 4 o’clock – is triple sealed, affording 200m water resistance.
Mssrs. Elliot and Brown turned to Seiko’s NH35 movement to power the piece. Although not especially accurate (-20 to +40 seconds per day), it’s a rugged little beast whose low cost and proven reliability lets the watchmaker focus their efforts on durability. Which includes a home-grown anti-shock suspension system and a bolted down supercompressor caseback. Hope (it won’t break) and glory (for coming through hell unscathed) at a sensible price.
In 1938, Alpina’s “4” sports watches kicked ass, offering anti-magnetism, anti-shock and water resistance. Under Citizen’s ownership, the venerable Swiss brand found success downmarket. And then started messing around with hybrid smartwatches. This Startimer harkens back to their glory days. Well, someone’s. It’s a 44mm pilot’s watch based on the B-Uhr watches issued to Nazi navigators, oversized onion crown and all.
Unlike other flieger-riffic repros, the Alpina includes the snap-off caseback found in the original B-Uhrens. Pressing the relatively demure pusher at the four o’clock reveals Alpina’s AL-525 caliber (base Sellita SW200-1), complete with a custom black rotor. For those who eschew smart watches, it’s a far better show than anything Apple et. al can provide. Or Alpina, for that matter.
Hermès Arceau Pocket Aaaaargh! – Price on Request
Little known fact: Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet still sell new pocket watches. Add Hermes to the list of purveyors of haute horologie capitalizing on the growing interest in the genre. Their Aaaargh! is a stunning semi-sidewinder, a large (50mm) one-off piece in white gold. Stunning in both the excellence of its mechanical bits (tourbillon escapement and a minute repeater) and the weirdness of longtime Hermès designer Alice Shirley‘s leather Tyrannosaurus Rex cover.
Hermès is having a laugh, confronting us with the extreme elegance of world class watchmaking (90 hour power reserve) with a scary image that has nothing to do with anything – save Ms. Shirley’s apprenticeship program at London’s Natural History Museum. Saying that, check out the Hermès-branded bridge. It’s a T-Rex profile. Is the first of a slew of new pocket watch designs? Hermès isn’t saying, but I wouldn’t bet against it.
Christopher Ward C60 Chronograph – $2055
The new watch alert amongst you know that Christopher Ward recently released the first genuine super compressor diving watch in 50 years. The C60 Chronograph returns the brand’s design language to the 21st century with a bi-compax diver that’s not screwing around – save the screwdown pushers and Trident-stamped caseback. Water resistant to 600m with a unidirectional ceramic bezel and quick change strap system (wear rubber when things get wet, so to speak), the C60 is the real McCoy.
At 7.14 ounces, 17.2mm tall and 42mm around, this beast is a bit of bruiser. Or, as Christopher Ward’s website puts it, “there’s plenty of ‘real estate’ for the dial to breathe.” There’s a real estate boom on at the moment, but two grand still seems bit steep. Given our experience with the quality of the Christopher Ward C65 and the indefatigability of the Sellita SW510 underneath King Triton’s trident, it’s a solid choice. Really solid.
REC RNR Beachrunner LE – $1795
New watch alert! “The RNR Beachrunner is our first-ever Swiss Made timepiece with a dial handcrafted from the roof of a 1981 Land Rover,” REC’s website reveals, as if they’re going to scavenge Portuguese photographer Daniel Espirito Santo‘s Series III forevermore. REC wrecks rock for buyers with a ghoulish interest in Spitfires, Porsche 911’s, Ford Mustangs and Mini Coopers. The Beach Runner’s tire tread bezel’s cute, but I’m not feeling it. Maybe this will help . . .
Wait. They cannibalized the Land Rover that changed Santo’s life? The horror! The horror! The resulting watch is powered by a Sellita SW290-1. If you have an additional 10 grand hanging about, the more technically accomplished (and water resistant) Zenith Defy El Primero 21 Land Rover LE is the better choice. But then that’s like saying a Toyota Land Cruiser is a better off-roader than an ancient Landie. Which it is – until you need to fix your off-roader with a hammer.
If today’s New Watch Alert seems bi-compax chronograph heavy, that’s because it is. I’m totally down with that. The format conforms to the two chrono legibility rules to rule them all. The new Sky Chief also adheres to the thin hands are handy stricture. Setting aside the fact that the watch was named after a famous grade of Texaco gasoline, I’m loving this humongous (43mm), minimalist, porcelain panda-faced chronograph from the Favre-Leuba brand revival (b. 1737). Also available with a velvet black dial.
An automatic ETA Valjoux 7753 movement motivates the cleverly bifurcated hour and minute hands, with the date window [rightly] moved to the 6 o’clock position. Favre-Leuba is positioning itself as an “adventure watch” maker – complete with a Yoda-esque “trust yourself” motto. Yes, well, I don’t think that suede leather strap’s going to like chlorinated swimming pools or ocean salt water much. But it is water resistant to 100m. So there is that.
You could argue that the Breitling Navitimer was the first smartwatch. Not for me, a English major whose math skills hit a brick wall in the fourth grade. But if you’re a Boomer who once thought slide rules rule, Hamilton’s homage keeps eight grand in your pocket while enabling the same aviation calculations that a proper flight computer can answer in a nanosecond. Bonus! Hamilton’s version is 2mm shy of the Breitling “generous” 46mm.
Just so you know, this “high-performance tool converts units, such as feet to meters or miles to kilometers, and currency.” Dollars to donuts? Hamilton’s anti-magnetic silicon balance spring 21-Si movement (base Valjoux/ETA 7750) delivers a 60-hour power reserve. The case’s gold accents delivers plenty o’ bling (great name for a stripper), if not the watch guy props of Breitling’s Navitimer. The new watch alert will appreciate the savings – if not the math,