Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Patek Philippe Ref. 5960/1A in Steel with a Matching Bracelet (with specs and price)

Patek Philippe has replaced all the precious metal Refs. 5960 models – the chronographs with annual calendar – with a single new reference, the 5960/1A-001 in stainless steel with a matching steel bracelet. 

The Ref. 5960 made its debut in 2006 in platinum as the 5960P, followed by additional models in rose gold as the 5960R, with various dials. Those have all been discontinued, replaced instead with the ref. 5960/1A in steel.  It is worth noting that the sweeping removal of several references and the substitution of a lower priced 5960 would hint at an upcoming launch of a replacement model in precious metal. The new 5960 has a 40.5 mm steel case with a polished finish, matched with a steel “droplet” link bracelet. The “A” in the model reference is short for acier, steel in English, while the “1/” prefix refers to the bracelet.

Steel is an uncommon metal for Patek Philippe outside of its sports watches (Aquanaut and Nautilus), and a matching steel bracelet is even less common. Consequently, complicated Patek watches in steel tend to be very valuable. Though it is tempting to conclude the same for the 5960/1A, its desirability will depend on its production run. Remember that the precious metal 5960s were in production for nearly nine years.

Material aside, the new 5960 is mechanically identical to its models it replaces, equipped with the same CH 28-520 IRM QA 24 movement. The calibre features a chronograph and annual calendar.

Slightly reminiscent of mid-twentieth century chronographs because of its colour, the dial is a silvery-grey with red, black and blue accents. On the topmost edge of the dial are the windows for the calendar displays, with the power reserve indicator just below 12 o’clock.

At six o’clock is the chronograph counter which has the hour and minute counters co-axial. The hours are read off the outermost totaliser with the black hand, while the red hand pointing to the two inner scales is for the minutes. The small blue circle in the chronograph sub-dial is the day and night indicator. The price will be 45,000 Swiss francs excluding taxes (~US$50,800). And in Singapore the retail price will be S$67,500. That’s about a third less than the last retail of the ref. 5960R in rose gold.

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Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Rolex Milgauss with an Electric Blue Dial and Green Sapphire Crystal (with specs and price)

Rolex has just taken the covers off the latest version of the Milgauss, combining an electric blue, metallic finish dial with a green tinted crystal and orange accents.

Launched in 2007 with either a black or white dial, the Milgauss was nonetheless the most colourful steel Rolex sports watch. Rolex has gone even further with the new Milgauss Z Blue (ref. 116400 GV), just presented at Baselworld 2014. Termed the Z Blue for the zirconium used in its coating, the blue dial of the new Milgauss is bright, electric blue. 

Like the other Milgauss models, the new blue version has orange accents on the dial, namely the seconds hand and minute markers. This is combined with the green tinted sapphire crystal used on the first Milgauss 116400 GV (“GV” stands for “Glace Verte” or green glass), resulting in a strikingly adventurous colour scheme.

In all other respects the new Milgauss is exactly the same as the current models. The steel case is 40 mm in diameter, with an Oyster bracelet.  The name Milgauss comes from the French phrase “mille gauss“, which means 1000 gauss in English. To get there the cal. 3131 movement is encased in a soft iron cage, protecting it from magnetic fields.

But the magnetism resistance extends to the key components of the escapement as well. The escape wheel is made from a nickel-phosphorus alloy manufactured with etching process known as UV-LiGA. The balance wheel is made from a niobium-zirconium alloy, while the hairspring is in Parachrom Blue. Consequently, all of these components are non-magnetic.

The Milgauss in blue will retail for 7800 Swiss francs, which is about US$8810.

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Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Tudor Heritage Ranger, the Entry-Level, Vintage-Inspired Heritage Timepiece (with specs and pricing)

The latest addition to Tudor’s Heritage line of retro-inspired timepieces is the Heritage Ranger, which takes after the original of the same name. Entry-level and simply styled, the Heritage Ranger is a remake of the classic explorer’s watch.

Tudor had a series of hits in recent years with watches inspired by its vintage timepieces, most notably with the Black Bay and Heritage Chronograph. Where the Black Bay is a diver’s watch and the Heritage Chrono a driver’s timepiece, the new Heritage Ranger is the modern take on the explorer’s watch.

The original Tudor Ranger was inspired by the Rolex Explorer, and the modern Heritage Ranger is in turn inspired by the original. So all three share the same dial with 3, 6, 9 and 12 in Arabic numerals, and the rest in baton markers. But like the other timepieces in the Heritage line, this is not a replica of the original. A particularly modern touch is the red seconds hand.

All the luminous material on the dial and hands is a subtle off-white, while the convex dial and domed sapphire crystal complete the vintage look. Underneath is an ETA 2824, reliable and robust, but with a short 38 hour power reserve.

The 41 mm case has a brushed finish, top and sides, and is water resistant to 150 m. Like the vintage Ranger, the modern version has drilled lug holes, which makes changing straps easier.

And on the topic of straps, the Heritage Ranger has four options available, a demonstration of how far Tudor has embraced contemporary watch collecting culture. The first is a steel bracelet with very quaint straight ends.

Two leather straps are available, the first in a Bund style with a pad underneath the watch. The other option is a darker brown stitched leather strap. Both leather straps come with a folding clasp.

On dark brown leather
On the Bund strap

All three options are supplied with an additional camouflage pattern canvas strap in a NATO style, except it is secured via spring bars instead of looping under them. The Heritage Ranger will retail for 2700 Swiss francs on strap (~US$3050), and 2800 Swiss francs on the bracelet.

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Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000, Back in a 40 mm Case and Rated to 1220 m/4000 ft (with specs and pricing)

Rolex has just announced the Sea-Dweller 4000, a return to its classic dive watch of old. Featuring a 40 mm case, the new Sea-Dweller 4000 has a helium escape valve and is rated to 1220 m or 4000 ft.

First introduced in 1967 as one of the pioneering deep sea dive watches, Rolex discontinued the Sea-Dweller in 2008, replacing it with the massive, over-engineered Deep Sea. After a six year hiatus, the Sea-Dweller 4000 (Ref. 116600) returns at Baselworld 2014 in much the same form as before. Traditionalists will rejoice. The new Sea-Dweller has a 40 mm case in 904L steel, the same diameter as the original but slightly chunkier. It has the same 1220 m or 4000 ft depth rating as its predecessor, but the new Sea-Dweller has all the bells and whistles now standard for Rolex watches. The bezel insert is scratch-resistant black ceramic with minute markings all round, just like on vintage Mil-subs, a feature missing from current Submariners. And the luminous material on the dial and hands is Chromalight, which glows blue in the dark. 

Most importantly, the Sea-Dweller bracelet now includes the Glidelock extension clasp with a brilliantly conceived ratcheting mechanism for adjusting its length in 2 mm increments, up to 20 mm. In addition to the Glidelock, the bracelet also includes the Fliplock extension, which extends the bracelet by 26 mm.

And the Sea-Dweller 4000 also has a helium escape valve in the traditional nine o’clock position.

And the cal. 3135 inside is fitted with the Parachrom Blue hairspring that is not only magnetism resistant, it is also more shock resistant and less susceptible to temperature variations than a regular Nivarox hairspring. The Sea-Dweller 4000 will have a retail price of 9900 Swiss francs, equivalent to US$11,200.

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Baselworld 2014: Anonimo returns with the Militare Alpini in Bronze, Including a Bronze Dial (with specs and price)

Florentine brand Anonimo has just unveiled its new line of bronze case watches, the Militare Alpini. Comprising a chronograph and a power reserve model, the Militare Alpini is also available with an unusual bronze dial.

Baselworld 2014 will see the revived Anonimo present its new line of timepieces, all of which are equipped with the brand’s trademark crown at 12 o’clock. Inspired by the alpine regiments of the Italian armed forces, the flagship Militare Alpini collection features bronze cases, including two versions with unusual aged bronze dials.  Originally founded in Florence in the former premises of Panerai when the latter moved to Switzerland, Anonimo was recently resurrected – in Switzerland. However, the brand’s signature bronze watch cases are still made near Florence by a specialist metalworking firm. Available with either a military green dial, or an aged bronze dial with a striking, tumble polished finish, the Militare Alpini watches are paired with white straps for the bronze dials,  and green straps for the olive dials, colours inspired by the uniforms of Italy’s alpine troops. The bronze dial is unusual and striking. Made from a thin disc of bronze, the dial has an uneven, almost raw finish, with a slight patina.

The bronze cases are 43 mm case in diameter with a steel case back. Typically found in maritime equipment like ship propellers, the bronze alloy used has a particularly high resistance to corrosion. The Military Alpini Power Reserve Indicator is equipped with the Peseux 7001, featuring a sub-seconds at three o’clock and the power reserve at nine. 

And the chronograph uses the Sellita SW300, a clone of the ETA 2892, with a Dubois-Depraz 2035T chronograph module. This modular construction allows for the novel combination of the chronograph pushers on the of the case, while the crown remains at 12 o’clock. 

The Military Alpini Chronographs will retail for €8500 (~US$11,700), while the Power Reserve will be €7200 (~US$9940).

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Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Speake-Marin Veshelda – Telling the Time with Only One Hand (with specs and pricing)

Speake-Marin revives its signature one-handed timepiece with the Veshelda, featuring a languid, single hand that tells the time to the nearest five minutes – not a timepiece for someone in a hurry.

One of Speake-Marin’s earliest wristwatches was the unusual, one-handed Shimoda. That was discontinued, but the concept has been brought back at Baselworld 2014 with the newly unveiled Veshelda. It has a single, blued steel hand which travels round the dial once every 12 hours, indicating the time on a five minute scale. Named after a championship winning J-class yacht built in the thirties, the Veshelda has a white lacquered dial with Roman numerals. At the centre are two superimposed topping tool-shaped wheels in blued steel. The upper topper tool is the seconds hand, rotating once a minute, while the second topping tool is the central axis of the single hand.

The Veshelda has a 42 mm, steel Piccadilly case, fitted with a large, onion-shaped crown. Inside is the Eros automatic movement, which has a five day power reserve. It’s based on the Technotime TT738 calibre and customised with a topping tool mystery rotor.

Priced at 8500 Swiss francs, equal to about US$9600, the Veshelda will be delivered in mid 2014.

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Baselworld 2014: Zenith Unveils the Second Generation El Primero Lightweight Chronograph in Carbon Fibre (with specs and pricing)

At Baselworld Zenith will introduce the second generation of the El Primero Lightweight, an ultra-light chronograph featuring a carbon fibre case and titanium movement, equipped with its signature 36,000 bph El Primero movement.

Zenith launched the first El Primero Lightweight late last year, claiming the title of the world’s lightest automatic chronograph. Freshly launched at Baselworld 2014, the second generation El Primero Lightweight is largely similar to the original in materials and weight, with a few key differences in function and aesthetics.

The key mechanical difference between the two Lightweight chronographs is the Striking 10th function found in last year’s model, which contained the El Primero cal. 4052 movement. The first generation had a central seconds hand travels once around the dial every ten seconds, enabling it to record elapsed times of up to 1/10th of a second.

The new Lightweight, on the other hand, is powered by the conventional El Primero cal. 400B, with a central seconds hand that takes one minute, or 60 seconds, to go around the dial. It is essentially a conventional, mechanical chronograph.

Aside from this key difference, the new Lightweight chronograph is largely the same. The 400B movement has its bridges and base plate in titanium, reducing its weight by a quarter. And its escape wheel and pallet fork are made of silicon.

It retains the same, 45 mm ceramic-coated aluminium and carbon fibre case, with a basic structure of aluminium covered by layers of carbon fibre. But the skeleton dial has blue accents, giving it a more muted look than the red and black Lightweight of last year. 

With all the weight savings from materials and open-working, the Lightweight chronograph will weight about 40 g without strap, just like last year’s model. 

Fitted with a Nomex-covered rubber strap, the El Primero Lightweight is limited to 250 pieces with a retail price of 17,500 Swiss francs, which is equivalent to about US$19,800. That’s a tenth less than the first Lightweight model, which was limited to 100 pieces.

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Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Grand Feu Chronometer – Equipped with the Largest Sapphire Watch Case Ever (with specs and pricing)

Zenith’s enormous Pilot Type 20 chronometer now boasts the largest sapphire crystal watch case ever, combined with a grand feu enamel dial, and a hand-engraved bezel, lugs and crown in white gold.

Launched in 2012, the Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 was powered by a new old stock observatory chronometer movement and measured a whopping 57.5 mm in diameter. Now Zenith has taken the last remaining 5011K movements and put them in a 60 mm case made of clear sapphire crystal, resulting in the resulting Pilot Type 20 Grand Feu limited edition.

With the case band and back in sapphire, the Pilot Type 20 Grand Feu has a bezel, lugs and crown in white gold, decorated with a hand-engraved Arabesque motif. The dial is white grand feu enamel, with the Arabic numerals painted in black enamel.

Even though the exterior of the watch is strikingly over the top, the movement inside has impeccable credentials and history. It’s the 5011K chronometer movement, originally designed in 1960 for deck and pocket watches. It was conceived as an observatory chronometer and lived up to its name, including the highest score ever at the Neuchâtel Observatory. 

About 5000 movements were made, but the bulk went to other firms, primarily Ulysse-Nardin. Zenith retained a small number and these went inside the limited edition Type 20 chronometers. 

The Zenith Pilot Type 20 Grand Feu is limited to 10 pieces, with an almost incredible retail price of 150,000 Swiss francs, equivalent to about US$170,000.

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