Chronoswiss Opus Chronograph Flag – $11,400
As a legibility freak, I’m not a big skeleton watch guy. It’s fun to wear an X-ray of a complicated movement, but I prefer to see the bits through a transparent caseback. New watch alert! By modifying their Opus Chronograph with “the three most used colours for national flags” (tell that to Pan-Africans), the 41mm Chronoswiss Opus is the brand’s easy-to-read magnum opus. You got your . . .
central hours and minutes, small seconds (big red hand), chronograph seconds (9 o’clock), 30-minute counter (12 o’ clock), 12-hour counter (6 o’clock) and analog date (3 o’clock). Twelve G’s buys you a 300-piece C. 741 S caliber (ETA Valjoux 7750 base) movement (also visible from behind), shortened lugs (for comfort), new double anti-reflective coating on the crystal, improved water resistance (100m) and a hand-sewn Louisiana alligator leather strap. A useful watch, no bones about it.
“In some respects these watches are the antithesis of what makes mechanical watches interesting, HoDinkee’s Jack Foster sniffs. “They are triumphs of technology, not of traditional craft or traditional mechanical engineering.” New watch alert! You don’t buy a Tesla expecting a Pontiac GTO – even though a Tesla is faster. Just as the new Seiko Astron is a quartz-based time-telling marvel that kicks mechanical ass. It’s a light-powered two time-zone timepiece that sets the exact time after a three-second powwow with a GPS satellite. This example’s special because . . .
It’s nowhere near as ugly (or plain) as other Astrons. That’s down to the 140th Anniversary model’s restrained blue-and-white livery (as compared to the horological tempest known as Kojima Productions’ DEATH STRANDING). I could do without the daytime/nighttime sub dial and date window, but I worship at the temple of symmetrical minimalism. Astrons are “the most interesting pieces of chronometric technology since the invention of the tourbillon,” Mr. Foster opines. Two words: Apple Watch.
Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins LE – $36,200
New old watch alert! Montblanc has been making these 1930’s-style LE’s for years. 2015’s Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter was pretty much the same setup for the same money. The difference here: a cleaner dial (complete with Dauphine hands and fauxtina lume) and a 46mm bronze-coated titanium case (as opposed to ye olde 43mm bronze cased variant). As before, the real star of the show is the distinctly non-Astron-like Montblanc manufacture MB M16.29 caliber monopusher movement.
Inspired by the original 1930’s Minerva calibre 17.29, the case-filling engine sits behind glass underneath a hinged caseback. The inscription is a bit of a let down: “Ré-édition du chronographe militaire Minerva des années 1930 doté d’un calibre fait main dans la pure tradition horlogère suisse.” In other words, it’s a self-proclaimed re-edition of a Minerva military chronograph from the 1930s equipped with a hand-made calibre following the “pure” Swiss watchmaking tradition. Only not really, and really expensive. And not on their website. Go figure.