Hands-On with the Voutilainen Vingt-8 ISO “Oversized” in Platinum

The extra-large, 44.5mm version of the quirky ISO.

Kari Voutilainen doesn’t often makes oversized watches but occasionally does, having made three to date, including the Vingt-8 in a 44.5mm stainless steel case unveiled earlier this year. Now the same generous size has made its way to the Vingt-8 ISO, combining its unusual time display with striking colours and a weighty platinum case, giving the watch major wrist presence.


Introduced at SIHH 2017, the Vingt-8 ISO looks like a typical Voutilainen timepiece but it’s not. In fact, the Vingt-8 ISO is the Voutilainen timepiece that goes farthest off the beaten track by Voutilainen standards. It’s as quirky as a Voutilainen gets.

Voutilainen Vingt-8 ISO 44.5mm Pt3

The watch tells the time with conventional hands, except they don’t point to the time as they do on ordinary watches. That’s because the chapter ring bearing the minute track travels with the hour hand, in the same direction but at a different pace.

Consequently, at the top of every hour both hands will be pointing to the same hour marker. At eight o’clock for instance, the hour hand points to eight, as does the minute hand. In the photo below, the time is just before 1:45. Once it hits 2:00, both hands will be pointing to two o’clock.

Voutilainen Vingt-8 ISO 44.5mm Pt2

Reading the time takes some getting used to, but is fairly easy to grasp. It’s a clever way of telling the time differently while still retaining the look of an ordinary wristwatch. Voutilainen, however, doesn’t take credit for its invention. According to him, the mechanism was patented by a Spanish clockmaker whose name is now obscure.

The Vingt-8 ISO is usually offered in the standard 39mm Voutilainen watch case – the ISO calibre is the same size as the regular version – making this enormous 44.5mm version a one of a kind timepiece (until another is ordered).

Despite being noticeably larger than the 39mm model, the oversized Vingt-8 retains the same lugs spaced 20mm apart, making the watch seem even larger than it is. That’s not a bad thing, given the style of the watch.

Voutilainen Vingt-8 ISO 44.5mm Pt


Typically Voutilainen’s watches look most handsome in conventional sizes with a restrained colour palette, which the oversized Vingt-8 ISO is anything but.

Voutilainen Vingt-8 ISO white gold 2

The front and back of a more conventional version of the Vingt-8 ISO that’s 39mm and white gold

The dial is black with three guilloche patterns, basketweave in the centre, barleycorn on the hour track, and hobnail on the subsidiary seconds. That’s combined with black and white hands – which have a matte, frosted finish – while the lettering and seconds markers are in yellow. And to top it all off, the hour markers and minute track are orange.

Voutilainen Vingt-8 ISO 44.5mm Pt4

Voutilainen Vingt-8 ISO 44.5mm Pt5

The look is peculiar and initially disconcerting but the combination works with the very large case size, making it feel a bit more fun than the average Voutilainen chronometer.

Inside is a variant of the calibre 28, modified for the ISO time display on the front but in terms of construction to suit the larger case size. All of Voutilainen’s oversized Vingt-8 watches have a similar movement inside.

Voutilainen Vingt-8 ISO 44.5mm Pt7

Voutilainen Vingt-8 ISO 44.5mm Pt8

The bridge and base plate are larger, while the barrel bridge has been reshaped, as has the balance bridge. Instead of the usual rounded arms found on most calibre 28s, this has straight, flat-topped arms.

Voutilainen Vingt-8 ISO 44.5mm Pt9

Though larger, the movement is no less refined than a regular sized Voutilainen calibre. Up close it reveals the same degree of thorough hand finishing that characterises Voutilainen’s watches.

Voutilainen Vingt-8 ISO 44.5mm Pt10

Price and availability 

The oversized Vingt-8 ISO in platinum is a one-off creation, priced at SFr98,000. That’s about 10% more than the standard size, 39mm Vingt-8 ISO in 18k gold that retails for SFr89,000.


 

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Hands-On with the Breitling Superocean Heritage II, Streamlined & Equipped with a Notable New Movement

Breitling's retro dive watch is restyled and given a calibre produced by Tudor.

One of the notable pieces of news at Baselworld 2017 was Breitling‘s tie-up with Tudor: the latter gets the Breitling 01 chronograph movement for the Black Bay Chrono, while in return Breitling is supplied the Tudor MT5612 movement, now installed in the Superocean Heritage II, the second generation of Breitling’s retro dive watch.

The Superocean Heritage II has slightly restyled, but the design tweaks are slight: minor changes to the shape of the lugs and crown, as well as reshaped hands and hour markers. More substantially, it’s been improved with a ceramic bezel, and a better performing movement.

Breitling Superocean Heritage II 46-1

Like the first generation, the new Superocean Heritage is available in two sizes, 42mm and 46mm, with new dial colours available, including an unusual but attractive bronze. Both sizes are near identical in design. The 46mm is suitably large for a sports watch but somewhat mismatched with the vintage-inspired look. On the other hand, the 42mm is closer to the original in size (but still significantly bigger), yet feels diminutive compared to the typical modern Breitling.

Breitling Superocean Heritage II 42 and 46

Breitling Superocean Heritage II 46-12

Breitling Superocean Heritage II 46-5


The earlier version had an anodised aluminium bezel insert, which has been replaced by a ceramic insert with an added luminous marker at 12 o’clock. It’s a minor but practical upgrade given the scratch- and fade-resistance of ceramic.

Breitling-Superocean-Heritage-II-46-9a

Breitling Superocean Heritage II 46-10

The new calibre means the case is now thicker, albeit imperceptibly, 15mm high compared to 13.6mm before. The tradeoff, however, is worthwhile.

The movement inside the earlier generation was the Breitling 17, a dressed-up ETA 2824. COSC-certified and robust, the 2824 is nonetheless a economical movement, with a shortish 40-hour power reserve.

That’s been replaced by the Breitling B20, which is the MT5612, the same calibre in the Tudor Black Bay Steel and two-tone. As the calibre inside Tudor’s new chronograph is produced by Breitling, this movement is made by Tudor, an arrangement that was likely put in place to maximise the production capacity of each brand.

Breitling Superocean Heritage II 46-6

Breitling Superocean Heritage II 46-7

The B20 movement has a convenient power reserve of at least 70 hours, or about three days, as well as a free-sprung, adjustable mass balance wheel. While it is no doubt largely regulated by electronic tools rather than a lone artisan, a free-sprung balance is traditionally a feature of finer chronometers.

Breitling Superocean Heritage II 46-2

Breitling Superocean Heritage II 46-3

Breitling Superocean Heritage II 46-11

It’s also worth pointing out that the Breitling version of the movement is more fancily decorated than Tudor’s (which is an appropriate upgrade since the Breitling is pricier). Though the calibre is hidden behind a steel back, the bridges are finished with Geneva stripes, while the engravings are gold-plated. All of it is purely aesthetic, and applied by machine, but it has visual appeal.

Breitling B20 movement


The face-lift also extends to the Superocean Heritage II Chronographe 46, but the changes are purely cosmetic. This too has the design tweaks on the case and dial, as well as the ceramic bezel and new dial colours, but the movement remains the Valjoux 7750.

Breitling Superocean II Chronograph 46


Price and availability

The Superocean Heritage II costs only about 8% more than the first generation, or less than US$400 in most cases.

It’s reach stores August 2017, starting at US$4140 or S$5900 on a leather strap with a pin buckle. It’s also available on a rubber strap or mesh bracelet.


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Hands-On with the Patek Philippe Ref. 5320G Perpetual Calendar

A modern watch in well tailored period dress.

The ref. 5320G-001 is the newest perpetual calendar from Patek Philippe, taking its cues from a pair of watches from the 1950s, the refs. 2497 and 2438, both perpetual calendars with a similar dial style.

But the new has an even more specific inspiration that now sits in the Patek Philippe museum: the steel ref. 1591, a one-off example once owned by a Maharajah that was sold by Christie’s for over US$2m in 2007.

Though the inspiration is mid 20th century, the build quality of the watch is distinctly modern. The dial is retro, even the lugs have tinges of Art Deco style, but the construction of both are impressively detailed in a manner only modern production can achieve. Those elements, more than the somewhat derivative design, are really what make the watch stand out.

Patek Philippe 5320G perpetual calendar 2

Patek Philippe 5320G perpetual calendar 3

Like the two vintage models that inspired it, the new ref. 5320G has a pair of apertures at 12 o’clock for the day and month, while the date is on a sub-dial at six that also contains the moon phase.

Patek Philippe 5320G perpetual calendar 6

Patek Philippe 5320G perpetual calendar 7

On either side of the moon phase are circular windows, the leftmost a day and night indicator and the other for the leap year. The layout gives the dial a pleasing symmetry and functional appearance, while also being legible. While there’s little to criticise in the utility of the dial, it won’t win any awards for ingenuity.

Another strength is the fit and finish of the dial, which is excellent. It has a glossy, cream surface that is lacquer and not enamel (one can fantasise about the day Patek Philippe delivers a fired enamel dial on a perpetual at this price), that suits the look of the watch.

The Arabic numerals and round five minute markers that are made of black-coated 18k gold, as are the hands. These blackened gold elements look very good up close.

Patek Philippe 5320G perpetual calendar 4

Patek Philippe 5320G perpetual calendar 5


And the impression left by the case is similar. Made of white gold and a good 40mm in diameter, not too big or too small as Goldilocks might say, the case has triple stepped lugs with pointed tips that curve downwards, a look adopted from the ref. 2405 of the 1950s. It’s a flamboyant detail that’s only apparent up close.

Patek Philippe 5320G perpetual calendar 14

Patek Philippe 5320G perpetual calendar 9

The lugs meet the flat, sloping bezel, which in turn sits under a “box-shape” sapphire crystal. It’s domed with an angular edge, bringing to mind the Plexiglas crystals on vintage watches.

Patek Philippe 5320G perpetual calendar 8

The rest of the case is equally well made in terms of detailing and finish, significantly surpassing the construction of the cases used for better known Patek Philippe perpetual calendars, which historically had relatively simple cases.

Notably, the case is a single piece, meaning the bezel and case middle are one (the snap-on case back is separate). The case blank is stamped out from a block of gold, then machined to fill out the finer elements like the fluting on the lugs. While stamped cases are usually associated with simpler, inexpensive forms, the case in this case, no pun intended, is properly detailed.


Inside the cal. 324 S Q, a self-winding calibre with a perpetual calendar module on top. Distinguished by its full rotor, the base cal. 324 is usually found in the brand’s annual calendars.

Patek Philippe 5320G perpetual calendar 10

The cal. 324 S Q is a new calibre in the sense that it’s the first time this particular perpetual module is paired with the base movement. Almost identical to the perpetual calendar mechanism found in the ref. 5270 chronograph – both share the same calendar layout – the perpetual calendar module is functionally familiar, and set via recessed pushers in the case band.

Visually the movement is impossible to distinguish from that in other models. It’s finished in the same manner, decorated to be attractive but with done so with a combination of manual and mechanical application.

Patek Philippe 5320G perpetual calendar 12

Patek Philippe 5320G perpetual calendar 11

On the wrist the ref. 5320G feels like a modern watch, being substantial enough in size and weight, with all the detailing expected of a contemporary timepiece. It just happens to be wearing 1950s period dress.

Patek Philippe 5320G perpetual calendar 13

Price and availability

Priced similar to other Patek Philippe perpetual calendars and comparable watches from other brands that aspire to be Patek Philippe, the ref. 5320G is still a lot of money for what is is. It’ll carry a price tag of SFr73,000 or S$109,000, and be available sometime later this year.


Correction April 2, 2017: The white gold case is not rhodium-plated as stated earlier.
Addition April 16, 2017: Elaboration on the fact that the bezel and case are a single, stamped piece.

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