Introducing the Grand Seiko GMT 10th anniversary editions (with specs and pricing)

Seiko unveils a pair of limited editions to mark a decade of the Grand Seiko GMT.
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The Grand Seiko GMT marks its 10th anniversary this year. The first two Grand Seiko GMT models were the SBGM001 and SBGM003 (I own the latter). Fittingly the two limited editions to mark this occasion, the SBGM029 and SBGM031, are the upgraded versions of the SBGM001 and SBGM003 respectively.

Both of the limited editions have blue dials and rotors. Grand Seiko watches are bastions of conservative Japanese design, but the blue dial and gold GMT hands give them a bit of flair.

Notably they have display backs which show the blue titanium and tungsten rotor. I never expected a cool rotor like that inside a staid GS. The calibre is the same 9S66 with 72 hour power reserve in both watches.

Grand Seiko 9S66

That is the most tangible upgrade, the original GS GMT 9S56 calibre had only 48 hour power reserve. But there are other unseen upgrades like the skeletonised escape wheel and pallet fork. Both have steel cases. The SBGM029 on bracelet is 39.2 mm in diameter while the SBGM031 on strap is 39.6 mm wide. They might seem small but the size wears perfectly. My 130th anniversary GS in steel is only 35 mm but it wears well.

The SBGM029 is limited to 700 pieces and will retail for EUR6600, while the SBGM031 on strap is limited to 1000 pieces and will retail for EUR6300.

I like the look of these two. I guess it won’t hurt to own another Grand Seiko.

– SJX

Grand Seiko GMT 10th Anniversary SBGM031
Grand Seiko 10th Anniversary SBGM029

 

This book profiles a dozen watchmakers, including Kenji Shiohara of the Seiko Epson Micro Artist Studio.

 

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Longines celebrates its 180th annivesary with monopusher chronograph

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Longines celebrates its 180th anniversary at Baselworld 2012 with a monopusher chronograph styled like early 20th century wristwatches with wire lugs. Surprisingly it is a mere 40 mm in diameter. The dial is white, but not enamel.

The movement is an automatic calibre with column wheel, I suspect it’s the Valjoux 7750 with column wheel ETA makes exclusively for Longines. Overall a nice looking watch but a far cry from the high-end chronograph Longines made in the 20th century.

This watch, officially termed the ‘Column-Wheel Single Push-Piece Chronograph 180th Anniversary Limited Edition’, is limited to 180 pieces in rose gold.

– SJX

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A well designed world timer from Breitling, the Transocean Unitime

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Baselworld 2012 has seen several interesting travel watches emerge. The now famous Rolex Sky-Dweller with annual calendar and the clever Chapter Three Reveal from Maîtres du Temps. But for those who want something a bit more down to Earth (no pun intended since Breitling makes “pilot’s” watches), the Breitling Transocean Unitime looks like a good option.

The slightly vintage styled Unitime has a straightforward world time mechanism. The dial has one disc with 24 cities for the 24 time zones, and another inner disc with 24 hours to indicate the second time zone. Because there are two discs, the time in any time zone on the cities disc can be read off the 24 hour disc. When the crown is pulled out and turned, the cities disc, 24 hour disc and the hour hand all turn in sync, together with the date. All of that can be advanced forward or backward. In addition the cities disc allows for Daylight Savings Time in summer as well, with the red arrow next to the city name.

The movement is the in-house Breitling Calibre 05, based on the B01 chronograph movement. The case, available in steel or rose gold, is 46 mm in diameter, with the choice of black or white dials. And the steel version is also available on the retro looking Ocean Classic mesh bracelet.

Not an extraordinary watch but it is easy to operate and understand. Perhaps a bit big for a real practical travel watch, but a good product nonetheless. – SJX

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Ikepod Horizon in titanium designed by graffiti artist KAWS has bite

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Ikepod has collaborated with contemporary artist KAWS to create the Horizon by KAWS. Born Brian Donnelly, KAWS was originally a street artist (he did graffiti) who is now known for his pop art, including reinterpretations of cartoons like Mickey Mouse and the Simpsons. His creates sculptures, paintings and various consumer goods like clothing and accessories, all emblazoned with his pop art motifs. 

So it is not surprising the KAWS Horizon looks slightly cartoonish – and I mean that in a positive manner. The dial is rimmed by KAWS’ trademark circle teeth as the hour indices while the hands are shaped like his “X Eye” motif. The case is standard, pebble Horizon shape in brushed titanium. This looks pretty cool, especially with the white teeth.

The complex case behind the simple design

Also new at Baselworld are additional versions of the Horizon in titanium with the signature golf ball dial. The orange and black is very striking.

All the Horizon watches are 44 mm and fitted with the automatic ETA 2892 movement. The movement may be pedestrian but this is not about watchmaking, it is about design.

– SJX

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Ikepod unveils blue mini hourglass

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Standing at just 15 cm high, the mini hourglass from Ikepod is a 10 minute timer. Originally only available in clear glass, the mini hourglass was made in a unique piece with a clear red coating for Only Watch 2011. At Baselworld 2012 Ikepod presents the mini hourglass with a clear blue coating. This small hourglass, just like its larger brother, is blown by hand at Glaskeller in Basel, Switzerland.

Of course this is not the first time Marc Newson has used blue glass for a timepiece, the Atmos perpetual calendar was the same colour.

Though it is a simple object, the design of the hourglass and the Atmos clocks, demonstrate Marc Newson’s genius as a designer of shapes and materials.

– SJX

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Celsius unveils new carbon fibre mobile phone with tourbillon

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Celsius, the French maker of ultra-expensive mobile phones, has just presented the second version of its LeDIX tourbillon phone at Baselworld 2012. The LeDIX Furtif is made of matte carbon fibre reinforced polymer with six inserts in either pink gold, platinum or black, with each being limited to eight pieces.

Like the original LeDIX which was in titanum, the Furtif has a mechanical watch movement with a tourbillon that is wound by opening and closing the phone. Although the idea seems painfully extravagant, the LeDIX is beautifully made and finished, as well as mechanically intriguing. The new carbon fibre Furtif looks exceptionally cool, though I expect it will be priced upwards of $400,000, which is what the titanium LeDIX costs. – SJX

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Introducing The Rolex Yacht-Master Ref. 116622 In Steel & Platinum With A Blue Dial

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I actually find the new Yacht-Master ref. 116622 in Rolesium (referring to the combination of steel and platinum) just unveiled at Baselworld 2012, more interesting than the new no-date Submariner ref. 114060. I already have a no-date Sub, and now the Yacht-Master finally has the improved bracelet, plus I like the blue dial. 

Rolex Yacht-Master Rolesium ref. 116622

This new Yacht-Master is essentially an upgraded version of the current ref. 16622 Yacht-Master Rolesium with a silver dial that is actually platinum. This Yacht-Master has a metallic blue dial with Chromalight luminous material on the indices and hands, giving them a pale blue glow in the dark. Furthermore this Yacht-Master has a solid link bracelet with the spring-loaded Oysterlock clasp. But the major improvement in addition to the bracelet is the new bezel which has 120 clicks in both directions. The clicks on the previous Yacht-Master bezel was never quite as crisp as that on the Submariner so this is good news.

The case remains the same 40 mm as before, and the cal. 3135 movement is unchanged as well. The blue dial version pictured has a platinum bezel, while the grained platinum dial is still available as the new model, with the same reference no., 116622.

Yacht-Master Rolesium with platinum dial

This one is a winner. – SJX

 

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Introducing The New Rolex Submariner “No-Date” Ref. 114060

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After many eons the classic Rolex no-date Submariner has been upgraded. The new Rolex Sub presented at Baselworld 2012 is the ref. 114060, which replaces the 14060M which was the last 20th century holdout in the Rolex sports collection, after last year’s new Explorer II ref. 216570.

Rolex Submariner 114060

It has all the features of the other Rolex Submariners – Cerachrom (ceramic) bezel and the chunkier 40 mm case. Also the bracelet now has solid links, and the spring-loaded Oysterlock clasp as well as Glidelock diver’s extension system. And the hands, dial indices and bezel pip have the blue glowing Chromalight luminous material. The movement remains the same cal. 3130 as the 14060M.

I’m somewhat glad the 14060M has finally been replaced because I own one, as well as its predecessor, the ref. 5513. This is a fitting and long awaited update to a model that has its roots in the original 1954 Rolex 6204 or 6205 Submariners.

And of course the no-date Sub was made all the more iconic because various versions were worn by various James Bonds, more famously Sean Connery and Roger Moore.

There is some irony in the fact that Tudor is going back to its beginnings with the new Black Bay snowflake diver, while Rolex is going in the opposite direction albeit exceptionally gradually.

– SJX

 

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Baselworld 2012: Introducing The Rolex Sky-Dweller, The Very First Annual Calendar With GMT

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Finally the Rolex Sky-Dweller is revealed at Baselworld 2012, a few days after the teaser on the Rolex website. The Sky-Dweller is an Oyster Perpetual with Rolex’s patented SAROS annual calendar, second time zone and a clever bezel function selection known as “Ring Command”.

Rolex Sky-Dweller in white gold (ref. 326939)

Reaction to the design of the watch has been mixed. My initial thoughts were negative but the movement is really very clever, and the design is well, classic Rolex taken into the 21st century. I don’t love it but I quite like it. I’m sure everyone’s just waiting for a sports version of this. And now the details. The ingenious annual calendar – requiring adjustment once a year at the end of February – comprises only two gear ratios and four wheels added to the traditional Rolex date mechanism. It is named after the astronomical phenomenom Saros, which is the “approximately 18-year cycle of alignment patterns between the Sun, the Earth and the Moon that is behind lunar and solar eclipses”. That’s because it inspired the layout of the annual calendar: a fixed planetary gear (the Sun) linked to a satellite wheel (the Earth) which has four fingers (the Moon) for each of the 30 days months. In addition the date change is instantaneous, like all Rolex day and date mechanisms. So on the months with 30 days, the date jumps from 30 to 31 then 1 in a blink of an eye. And the annual calendar also indicates the month in the windows adjacent to the Roman numeral hour indices. The blacked out window indicates the current month. 

The date indicated is 30 March, as the IIII window is black

The local time is read off the main hands, while the second time zone or home time is indicated by the 24-hour ring on the dial. Conveniently the hour hand can be set backwards or forwards in one hour increments, without affecting the time setting of the minute and seconds hands. And the date is synchronised with the local time shown on the main hands.

All of those functions can be set via crown, which only has one setting position, thanks to the Ring Command bezel. The bezel can be rotated into any of three positions to set the date, local time or second time zone. This appears to be a fairly complicated mechanism with 60 parts, with the heart being two cams that engage the respective mechanisms for setting. The Sky-Dweller uses the new COSC certified, automatic calibre 9001. All the trademark Rolex movement features centred on the escapement (reflecting an emphasis on chronometry) are present – Parachrom hairspring, adjustable Microstella mass balance, Breguet overcoil, full balance bridge and Paraflex shock absorbers. It has 380 components and a power reserve of 72 hours. 

Rolex cal. 9001

The Sky-Dweller is available in white gold with silver dial (ref. 326939), yellow gold with champagne dial (ref. 326938) or Rolex’s patented oxidisation-proof Everose gold with chocolate dial (ref. 326935). The Everose is only available on leather strap. The case diameter is 42 mm. – SJX 

Rolex Sky Dweller White Gold ref. 326939
Rolex Sky Dweller Everose Gold ref. 326935
Rolex Sky Dweller Yellow Gold ref. 326938

This video provides some good views of the watch from different perspectives

 

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