Boldr Introduces the Odyssey Regatta

An affordable yachting-countdown beast.

A “microbrand” based in Singapore, Boldr is all about affordable sports watches. The latest addition to its catalogue is the Odyssey Regatta, unusual for being a yachting-countdown watch at a notably accessible price.

Initial thoughts

Affordable, solid dive watches are commonplace nowadays, often offered by “microbrands” like Boldr. But the Odyssey Regatta sets itself apart from the competition due to its regatta countdown function (admittedly a simple execution powered by a 7750).

And it’s an attractive design, especially the faceted case. Though the case is stamped and looks the part, it’s still typified by strong, angular lines. There’s a boldness in the case design that reminds me of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept.

The Odyssey Regatta exemplifies Boldr’s focus on rugged “tool” watches. Having handled the prototype, I was impressed by the build quality, given its price. Feeling reassuringly solid on the wrist, the watch has a heft that’s reminiscent of dive watches like the Oris Aquis and the Sinn U1.

But the heft might be a bit too much for some. At 45 mm wide and 18.2 mm thick, the Odyssey Regatta is a beast on the wrist. It took me some time to get used to the watch’s towering case. Nevertheless, the weighty Odyssey Regatta represents a good option for someone searching for a large regatta chronograph that won’t break the bank.

Priced at US$1,499, it represents strong value. For comparison, the Frederique Constant Regatta Countdown Chronograph costs twice as much – and that’s from a brand known for making bang-for-buck watches.

A sailing complication

Regatta watches are characterised by a five- or ten-minutes countdown timer that tracks the time remaining before the start of a yachting race, during which the competing boats position themselves for the best spot at the starting line.

On the Odyssey Regatta, the timer takes the form of a disc at 12 o’clock in blue and red. The disc countdown sets itself apart from most regatta watches, that traditionally rely on a series of circular apertures. That said, the disc is also a cost-efficient manner of displaying the function, since it requires minimal modification to the base movement, unlike the traditional aperture-based countdown timer.

To go along with the countdown timer, the bezel combines a 15-minute countdown scale (with the first ten minutes in blue and red like the countdown disc) with a tachymeter graduated in nautical miles that can be used to measure the speed of a boat.

The watch features Super-Luminova on the hands, indices, and bezel

Fabricated via stamping, the massive case has slightly rounded edges that are characteristic of the production process. While not as refined as cases produced via more sophisticated techniques, the Odyssey Regatta case is good enough at its eminently accessible price.

It features a triple-lock, screw-down crown and a helium escape valve that provides 500 m of water-resistance. Beating under the closed case back is an ETA Valjoux 7750 in Elaboré grade. The 7750 is tried-and-tested, and features 44-hours of power reserve.


Key facts and price

Boldr Odyssey Regatta

Diameter: 45 mm
Height: 18.2 mm
Material: Steel
Water resistance: 500 m

Movement: Valjoux 7750
Functions: Hours, minutes, smalls seconds, day, date, chronograph, regatta countdown timer
Winding: Self-winding
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 44 hours

Strap: Steel bracelet

Limited edition: 100 pieces
Availability:
Direct from Boldr
Price: US$1,499

For more information, visit boldrsupply.co.


 

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Louis Erard Makes Traditional, Hand-Executed Guilloche Affordable

With the Excellence Guilloché Main.

Although best known for its collaborations with independent watchmakers, Louis Erard is adept at introducing elements of high-end watchmaking in its accessibly-priced watches. The recent Excellence Email Grand Feu offered a grand feu enamel dial for less than 4,000 Swiss francs.

Now Louis Erard is moving on to traditional engine turning with the Excellence Guilloché Main. Limited to 99 pieces, the watch features a chequer guilloché dial with an M.C Escher vibe, and an eminently affordable 3,900 Swiss franc price tag.

Initial thoughts

Consistently offering affordable timepieces that punch way above their price point, Louis Erard is fast becoming one of my favourite watchmakers. The Excellence Guilloché Main affirms my thoughts about the brand.

It is an honest representation of a traditional decorative technique, but different. I find the chequer pattern to be even more striking than the standard guilloché patterns like hobnail or barleycorn. Executed to give it perspective, the pattern has a three-dimensional quality that endows the watch with a sense of depth uncommon on dials as wide and flat as this. And, the heat-blued hands add a welcome pop of colour to the otherwise monochrome palette.

The simple functions of just hours and minutes allow the chequer guilloché to be admired in its full glory. I particularly like how Louis Erard prints its brand name on the underside crystal instead of the dial, which further enhances the perceived depth of the watch. That admittedly is also a cost efficient solution, since creating a plaque on the dial would complicate the engine turning process.

Despite its traditional inspiration, the Excellence Guilloché Main will feel modern on the wrist due to its large 42 mm diameter. That also means the dial is wide, with more guilloche to be admired. The watch is a tad high at over 12 mm high, in part due to the thick automatic movement inside.

The dial is undoubtedly the most expensive components of the watch – the movement is a workhorse Sellita, and the case a simple form in steel. The smart focus of resources on the dial means that this, like the Excellence Email Grand Feu before it, is a terrific value proposition, though the small run might make it challenging to land one.

Priced at 3,900 Swiss francs, or about US$4,200, the Excellence Guilloché Main is extremely well-priced. Watches with comparable, traditional guilloché dials from higher end brands cost significantly more.

Checkered Guilloché

The dial is made by Fehr of La Chaux-de-Fonds, an established specialist that supplies dials to major names like Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, and Zenith. It’s engraved with an old-school, hand-operated straight-line engine lathe, an entirely traditional decorative technique that is familiar yet painstaking to execute.

The artisan relies on a manually-operated lathe to engrave the pattern

Because the pattern is simple and obvious, a single mistake means discarding the dial

Unusually, the dial is not monochrome as most guilloche dials are. The three-dimensional effect is reinforced by a layer of black varnish applied to the dial prior to engine turning, which removes the topmost surface of the pattern. The final step is rhodium plating that highlights the engraved portions with a bright, silvery finish, giving the chequer guilloché an eye-catching shimmer.

The chequer guilloché dial is more visually arresting than the grand feu enamel of the preceding edition

The large steel case is home to a Sellita SW261-1. Also found on the Excellence Email Grand Feu, the SW261-1 is the small seconds variation of the SW200-1, which is a clone of the ETA 2824.

It’s a notably robust movement, albeit one that’s getting old. Due to the dated architecture of the ETA 2824, the SW261-1 has a shortish power reserve of 38 hours. Furthermore, the movement is plain, which is understandable given the watch’s low price tag.


Key Facts and Price

Louis Erard Excellence Guilloché Main
Ref. 66237AA52

Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 12.25 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: SW261-1
Functions: Hours and minutes
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 38 hours

Strap: Calf leather

Limited edition: 99 pieces

Availability: Direct from Louis Erard online
Price
: 3,900 Swiss francs

For more, visit Louiserard.com


 

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Up Close: Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight 18K

Golden value.

Unveiled just last week alongside its sterling-silver sibling, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight 18K is Tudor’s first solid-gold dive watch. A significant milestone for Tudor that perhaps reveals aspirations further up the price spectrum, the Fifty-Eight 18K lives up to its ambitions.

Initial thoughts

In late 2019 I was speaking with a senior Tudor executive and got an inkling that a solid-gold watch might be in the works. Being a fan of the brand (and fortunate enough to own a few of them), that was something I was very much looking forward to.

Now Tudor has finally done it, and I am impressed with the result. The Black Bay Fifty-Eight 18K is attractive, feels good in the hand, and is also well priced. The only disappointment is the lack of a matching gold bracelet. I know that would hike the price by at least 50%, but even then it would be a good buy – and it would be truly cool. Fingers crossed a bracelet is in the works.

But even sans bracelet the new Fifty-Eight feels good in the hand. It’s sized (almost) exactly the same as the steel Fifty-Eight, making it the perfect size for an easy-to-wear dive watch.

Naturally, the gold version is slightly heavier than the steel equivalent, but the weight is just enough to seem substantive, but not so much it’s unwieldy on the soft fabric strap (more on the weight reduction below).

The weight gives the Fifty-Eight 18k an appropriately expensive feel. But as is always the norm with Tudor watches, the quality of the watch lives up to the price, and then some.

Almost every aspect of the watch has the sharp details expected of Tudor. Both the dial and case have excellent fit and finish. The only aspect that doesn’t quite fit in is the view from the back. The movement looks a bit plain – I would have preferred a solid back – but the MT5400 within is a technically accomplished calibre and one of the best in its price range.

Notably, the quality execution extends to the straps. The Fifty-Eight 18k is delivered with a pair of them, one leather and the other fabric, each with its own 18k yellow gold buckle and hardware. That’s both convenient – no need to swap buckles when swapping straps – and to preserve the design, since Tudor’s fabric straps usually have a wider buckle and metal keepers. Given that watch brands typically charge at least US$1,000 for a solid-gold pin buckle, the inclusion of buckles for each strap is admirable.

In fact, the quality of the watch is good enough to make the watch comparable to far more expensive watches. The Omega Seamaster 300 in 18k yellow gold, for instance, costs 25% more. The Fifty-Eight 18K is pricier than the average Tudor by a large margin, but it is a genuine value buy.

Gold flakes

Green is common for watch dials this year, which makes the colour a bit meh – except for a few instances. The green-and-gold colour works well on the Fifty-Eight 18k.

At a distance the dial appears to be a dark olive, but up close the surface is spotted with gold flecks. It’s finished with finely-grained texture that has a variegated colour that appears almost organic up close, bringing to mind moss.

All of the print on the dial is done in powdered gold lacquer, giving the markers and minute track a granular, faintly metallic finish that matches the style of the watch perfectly. That, however, is also found on standard steel models so it is not unique to the Fifty-Eight 18k.

The hour hands and applied indices are unique – they are all made of solid 18k yellow gold. Though solid-gold hands and markers are standard on Rolex watches, they are being applied to a Tudor for a first time with the Fifty-Eight 18k. There’s no observable difference between the solid-gold hands as well as markers and the gold-plated equivalents in the steel models, but the little extra is certainly a good thing to have in a top-of-the-line watch.

Yellow gold

Having a matte, brushed finish on all surfaces, the gold case is finished identically to that of the Black Bay Bronze. This contrasts with the steel case of the standard Fifty-Eight, which has the traditional polished sides and bevel along the lugs.

The matte finish works well on the Fifty-Eight 18k, especially with the moss-green dial. The choice of case finish is a matter of house style. Tudor only employs brushed gold in its sports watches, including on the two-tone Black Bay Chrono S&G, driven by the desire for a more muted, discreet look, according to the brand.

I am impressed by the quality of machining finishing on the case. Everything is sharply defined and carefully shaped.

The wide bevel on the top edge of each lug, for instance, is finished with a brushing that flows perfectly into the grain of the top of the lugs. And the crown is notably precise, with a relief Tudor rose on its top and crop fluting on its sides.

Strategic opening

The precious-metal case means that two features of the Fifty-Eight 18k stand out. One is the display back – the first ever in Tudor’s history – and the other is the new calibre with an enlarged base plate. Both features are also found on the Fifty-Eight 925, the sterling-silver dive watch launched alongside the gold version.

The obvious impetus behind the two is weight reduction. Sterling silver is about 40% denser than steel, while 18k gold is about twice the density. Removing the centre of the case back and hollowing out the interior of the case no doubt help to keep the weights of the the solid-gold (and silver) Fifty-Eight manageable.

Granted, there might be some cost savings as well for the gold model (silver is inexpensive), since the quantity of gold required for each case is trimmed. That said, given my knowledge of Tudor’s philosophy – quality is paramount – and the fact that the Fifty-Eight 18k is delivered with two straps, each with its own 18k gold hardware, I doubt minimising production cost was a goal in itself. My educated guess would be it was pursued in order to keep the price of the watch as affordable as possible.

The economics aside, the open back means the movement is visible. [Editor’s note: The movement of the silver version is pictured below, but it is identical to that in the gold model.]

A variant of the MT5402 found in the steel Fifty-Eight, the MT5400 in the Fifty-Eight 18k is essentially identical, save for the larger base plate. It shares all of the qualities of Tudor’s other in-house movements, including a lengthy 70-hour power reserve and non-magnetic silicon hairspring. Put simply, it’s a high-spec movement at a low-spec price.

While the technical accomplishments of the movement are undeniable, it isn’t very interesting visually. All the bridges sport a clean, frosted finish, while the rotor is radially grained. Everything is finished neatly, but the look is a bit sterile.

I would have wished for something special on the movement to set the Fifty-Eight 18k (and also the silver version) apart from the steel models. The most obvious is a solid-gold rotor to match the case, or failing that, a gilded rotor.

Concluding thoughts

As solid-gold sports watches go, the Fifty-Eight 18k is certainly the best value proposition out there.

And when Tudor does finally debut a matching gold bracelet – leading to an US$10,000 in the retail price – the Fifty-Eight 18k will still be the best value in its class.


Key facts and price

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight 18K
Ref. 79018V

Diameter: 39 mm
Height: 12.7 mm
Material: 18k yellow gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 200m

Movement: Cal. MT5400
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 70 hours

Strap: Both alligator leather and fabric, each with a pin buckle in yellow gold

Availability: Only at Tudor boutiques starting now, available at retailers subsequently
Price: US$16,800; or 23,040 Singapore dollars

For more, visit Tudor.com.


 

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Tudor Introduces the Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925

An understated, precious-metal dive watch.

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Bell & Ross Introduces the BR V2-94 Full Lum

Entirely glow-in-the-dark.

Though best known for its square, aviation-instrument watches, Bell & Ross actually offers a varied lineup of conventional, round watches that nonetheless remain military inspired, such as the BR V2-94. The brand now gives its vintage-inspired chronograph a fully luminescent makeover to create the BR V2-94 Full Lum.

Initial thoughts

Bell & Ross implemented the fully-luminescent dial on BR 03-92 Full Lum (which even had a luminous strap), so the dial treatment is not novel. However, it’s a first for one of the brand’s round watches. If you are a fan of the “Full Lum” concept but dislike large square watches, then the “lumed-out” BR V2-94 is right up your alley.

And while its full-luminous dial is undoubtedly the watch’s biggest selling point, it isn’t a gimmick that appears merely after sundown. The BR V2-94 is eye-catching even in daylight. The luminous dial is a pale, mint green that’s akin to that in the new Breitling Premier Heritage Chronograph in steel.

Furthermore, the BR V2-94 is perhaps the best-looking round watch in Bell & Ross’ current catalogue, good enough that I almost pulled the trigger on the BR V2-94 Bellytanker Bronze a while back. The BR V2-94 is a design that successfully fuses the brand’s military-issue heritage with a contemporary look.

My only knock is the lack of luminous paint on the bezel as well as the date, which feel like odd exceptions for a “Full Lum” watch. The non-luminous date leaves a dark spot on the glowing dial.

Priced at US$5,100, the BR V2-94 Full Lum costs roughly 10% more than the standard model. Given that the watch is limited to 250 pieces, the premium is justified for a relatively uncommon and intriguing chronograph – I can imagine the watch being a conversation starter.

However, unless you’re attracted to the full-lume dial, there are a handful of better value propositions (that are admittedly less fun in terms of design), such as the newly-launched Tudor Black Bay Chrono “Panda”, which has a technically superior movement.

Full Lume

The dial of the BR V2-94 Full Lum is covered in green Super-Luminova C5, while the indices, numerals and hands are painted with yellow Super-Luminova C3, giving a slight but obvious distinction in colour between the two. But in the dark, both glow a fluorescent green, except for the chronograph sub-dial.

The 30-minute register glows in an icy blue, creating a sharp contrast to the green-glowing dial. It’s a smart detail that creates easily recognisable differentiation between the totaliser on the left and the running seconds on the right.

Aside from its luminescent dial, the watch retains most attributes of the standard BR V2-94, such as the screw-down pushers, the domed sapphire crystal, bi-directional bezel, and wearable proportions at just 41 mm wide and 13.55 mm thick.

The BR V2-94 Full Lum is powered by the BR-CAL.301, which is essentially an ETA 2892 with a Dubois-Depraz chronograph module on top.


Key facts and price

Bell & Ross BR V2-94 Full Lum
Ref. BRV294-LUM-ST/SRB

Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 13.55 mm
Material: Steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: BR-CAL.301
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, and chronograph
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 42 hours

Strap: Rubber

Limited edition: 250 pieces
Availability: Now at Bell & Ross’ online shop, boutiques, and authorised retailers
Price: 
US$5,100; or 7000 Singapore dollars

For more, visit bellross.com.

This was brought to you in partnership with Bell & Ross.


 

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Krayon Introduces the Eastern-Arabic Anywhere

In collaboration with Dubai retailer Perpétuel.

Founded by movement constructor Rémi Maillat in 2013, Krayon made waves when it debuted the Everywhere – a mechanical computer able to indicate sunrise and sunset times anywhere in the world – before following up with the more affordable Anywhere, which fulfils the same function for a single, fixed location.

Now Krayon is introducing a special run of the Anywhere created in partnership with Perpétuel, a newly-established retailer in Dubai, in colours “inspired by the mythical desert”. Limited to 15 pieces, the Krayon x Perpétuel Anywhere features Eastern Arabic numerals and a stainless steel case.

Initial thoughts

Essentially a facelift of the standard model, the Perpétuel edition is distinguished by its colours – black and pale orange – as well as the Eastern Arabic numerals. While the tweaks are modest, it is nonetheless sharply executed, sporting a striking aesthetic that sets it apart from the blue or cream dials of the regular versions.

More fundamentally, the Anywhere is particularly functional as a special-edition watch for the Middle East. Given that the Anywhere indicates sunrise and sunset times, it is eminently useful for clients in Perpétuel’s home market, where Islam is the predominant religion. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, known as Ramadan – which is taking place right now – requires Muslims to fast from sunrise until sunset.

The standard version of the Anywhere

However, with a price tag of CHF118,800, the Anywhere Perpétuel is actually slightly more expensive than the Anywhere in 18k gold (which costs CHF115,000). Nevertheless, given that it’s limited to just 15 pieces, the premium is perhaps justifiable for the best-looking iteration of the Anywhere to date.

Sun calendar

Displaying sunrise and sunset times in real time, the Anywhere is calibrated during assembly and production for a single, fixed geographical location (changing the location requires a trip back to the factory). The information is conveyed via overlapping amber and black rings on the periphery of the dial that indicate the lengths of day and and night. Their respective lengths represent the length of day and night, while the borders between the two indicate sunrise and sunset times.

The Sun-shaped indicator denotes the current position of the Sun in the sky, so when the pointer crosses from the amber to the dark segment, it means that the Sun has set.

However, as the length of the day changes according to the seasons – with more pronounced changes closer the poles – the lengths of the amber and dark segments will vary, thus resulting in changing sunset and sunrise times over the course of a year.

As a result, the calendar is an integral part of the sunrise and sunset indicator. The calendar display at six o’clock shows both date and month, with the twin rings moving in sync with the calendar, reflecting the changing length of the day throughout the year.

[For more information on the functions of the Anywhere, we explored the mechanism in our detailed review of it.]

Having a case identical in size to the standard Anywhere, this measures 39 mm by 9.5 mm, giving it the wearable proportions of a vintage watch.

Inside the case is the manual-winding cal. C030, which comprises a staggering 432 components, despite being a pared-back version of the Universal Sunrise Sunset (USS) calibre found in the Everywhere. The finishing is exquisite, with Geneva stripes, perlage, and anglage visible through the exhibition case back.


Key Facts and Price

Krayon Anywhere x Perpétuel
REF. C030-3

Diameter: 39 mm
Height: 9.5 mm
Material: Steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water-resistance: 30m

Movement: Cal. C030
Functions: Hour, minutes, sunrise and sunset times, 24-hour indicator, and calendar with month
Components: 432
Winding:
 Hand-wound
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 86 hours

Strap: Alligator leather

Limited edition: 15 pieces
Availability:
 Exclusively from Perpétuel, deliveries in December 2021
Price
: 118,800 Swiss francs

For more, visit Krayon.ch.


 

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Artisans de Genève Unveils the Submariner Moon Phase

Intriguing customisation.

A custom shop best known for its extensively reworking of popular sports watches – occasionally created in collaboration with celebrity sportsmen  – Artisans de Genève has a diverse portfolio of work that range from the intriguing to the mystifying. Certainly one of its more intriguing timepieces is the Sea Shepherd Challenge, a Submariner with a moon phase display surrounded by much aventurine glass that was commissioned by the founder of the eponymous marine conservation group.

Initial thoughts

Aftermarket customisation of fashionable watches is common. It can often be merely opportunistic, with customisers taking advantage of the watchmaker’s well-established brand and design. Rarely are customised watches interesting in a technical sense.

The Sea Shepherd Challenge is interesting, being a mechanical customisation rather than the change of colours that’s the usual formula applied to such watches.

It incorporates an oversized moon phase display (driven by a mechanically simple, but elaborately-constructed mechanism going by this animation), along with an aventurine-glass dial and bezel insert. Add to that the added decoration to the movement, and the watch does have its appeal.

The customisation alone costs about US$35,000 (and the client either provides the watch or purchases one), which is probably too much for the work done, but within reason given the benchmark prices of such customised watches.

A mariner’s watch

This customised Submariner was a request by Paul Watson, the sometimes controversial founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an environmental NGO known for its often confrontational approach to marine preservation.

In a nod to the importance of the moon to sailors, Mr Watson wanted a moon phase added to his Rolex Submariner ref. 116610. As a result, the basic specs of the watch are identical to that of the Submariner, meaning a 40 mm steel case and the Rolex cal. 3135 inside, but the watch has been substantially reworked, inside and out.

Both the bezel insert and dial are covered in aventurine glass, a form of glass with metallic inclusions that creates its characteristic sparkly appearance. And the moon phase disc is fired enamel, with twin moons made of silver that are hand engraved with craters to resemble the actual lunar surface.

The aventurine-glass dial

The case retains its recognisable form, but its flanks have been milled to create a wide recess with a laser-etched sandblasted finish, while polished bevels have been added to the edge of each lug.

A sapphire window was installed on the case back to reveal the decorated cal. 3135 within. Most of the movement components were refinished by hand, with circular brushing and polished bevels applied to the bridges. A handful of parts were even more extensively refinished: the barrel ratchet wheel, for instance, has been open worked to create five spokes, all of which have polished bevels on their inner edges.

And the rotor was replaced with a solid-gold oscillating weight with an aventurine-glass insert.

The moon phase mechanism relies on the date mechanism to function – it advances by one step a day just like a date display – but it has been executed in a stylish manner. An elongated finger pushes the moon phase disc forward once a day at midnight, with all of the components of the moon phase mechanism finished with straight graining and polished bevels.

The moon phase mechanism under the dial

Lastly, Artisans de Genève makes clear that it is an independent company not affiliated with Rolex, nor an official retailer of Rolex watches.


Key Facts and Price

Artisans de Genève Sea Shepherd Challenge

Diameter: 40 mm
Material: Steel, bezel with aventurine-glass insert
Crystal: Sapphire
Dial: Aventurine glass
Water resistance: 300 m

Movement: Cal. 3135 with white gold rotor
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and moon phase
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 48 hours

Strap: Steel bracelet

Limited edition: Unique piece
Availability:
 Similar customisation available direct from Artisans de Geneve
Price
: 32,520 Swiss francs for comparable customisation, excluding the price of the watch

For more information, visit Artisansdegeneve.com.


 

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Jaeger-LeCoultre Introduces the Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque

The uber Reverso.

Appropriately for the 90th anniversary of famed reversible wristwatch, Jaeger-LeCoultre (JLC) has debuted the ultimate Reverso. Boasting 11 complications, including a tourbillon, minute repeater, and instantaneous perpetual calendar, the Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque is a monumental wristwatch with four faces and a movement made up of 800 parts.

Initial thoughts

The Calibre 185 Quadriptyque is smaller than the Reverso Grande Complication à Triptyque – which was so big as to be almost unwearable for most – but still sizeable enough to be clunky. It measures 51.2 mm by 31 mm, while standing 15.15 mm high, making it larger than the biggish Nonantième that was launched at the same time. Granted, the size is necessary for the ultra-complex, four-faced movement.

Majority of the complications within the new grand complication can be found in past JLC watches, making the Calibre 185 Quadriptyque something of a greatest-hits compilation for the brand.

Impressive as it is, the Calibre 185 feels dated, in the sense that watches with numerous complications stacked up were a “thing” in the 2000s; the Triptyque was launched in 2007 and truly exotic in its day. Now that such watches are fairly common, with many leading brands having their own grand multi-complications, the concept is less impressive, regardless of the technical achievement.

It’s also worth pointing out that the watch is elaborately decorated – mainly with Clous de Paris guilloche and blue lacquer – but it is still lacquer rather than fired enamel. Finer, artisanal decoration would be appropriate given what the watch costs.

Still, all of that matters little since only ten of the Calibre 185 will be made. The appetite for ultra high-end watches is strong, and the ten watches will sell, probably not swiftly but still surely.

At the same time, the retail of €1.35 million, or about US$1.60 million, feels a bit ambitious, given Jaeger-LeCoultre’s historical position as a maker of complications executed more affordably. The retail price is about the same as the Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon ref. 6002 (admittedly tough to obtain at retail), which offers a different set of functions but is comparable in complexity.

Generously four faced

Logically arranged in two sections – each with two faces – the Calibre 185 Quadriptyque is made up of the swivelling case and the cradle below.

With the cal. 185 comprising 800 parts in total, the case contains majority of the movement, including the timekeeping going train, instantaneous perpetual calendar, as well as chiming mechanism. Within the cradle are 105 components of the movement, all dedicated to astronomical indications centred on the moon, including the age of the moon in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

The first of the four faces of the Calibre 185 Quadriptyque is the most straightforward. It incorporates a flying tourbillon at seven o’clock, which has the familiar three-armed carriage construction found in other JLC tourbillon watches.

And it is also home to the perpetual calendar, showing the day, big date, month, and leap year indicator. It’s an instantaneous perpetual calendar, meaning all three change over instantly at midnight – a necessity in order to drive the astronomical indications on the cradle as we explain below.

The time is also indicated on a secondary dial found on the reverse of the case; it is identical to the time on the front and not a second time zone. It indicates hours via a jumping disc, and minutes with a small pointer on the periphery of the minute scale.

Activated by the compact slide just above the crown, the repeater incorporates several of JLC’s past inventions for striking mechanisms, including crystal gongs that are mounted on the crystal for increased volume, as well as the multi-pivoted trebuchet hammers that strike with greater force. And the striking mechanism features redesigned racks that eliminate the traditional pauses in between the hour and minute chimes when there are no quarters to be struck, which is also found in earlier JLC grand complications.

The twin hammers of the repeater sit on the lower edge of the movement, with the silent governor visible at nine o’clock

The inner face of the cradle shows the moon as visible from the Northern Hemisphere at 12 o’clock, with a laser-engraved moon against a blue lacquered sky. Notably, the moon phase is accurate to a day in 1,111 years, as compared to the 122.5 years of a typical moon phase display.

On its lower left is the draconic cycle indicator, which foretells the occurrence of a solar or lunar eclipse since it tracks the intersection of the orbit of the Moon relative to the Earth going around the Sun. To the right of the draconic cycle display is the anomalistic cycle indicator that shows the Moon’s distance from Earth. When a full moon occurs with the Moon closest to Earth, a “supermoon” occurs, with the Moon seeming about 14% larger in diameter when viewed from Earth.

The Northern Hemisphere moon phase at top

The tiny, fire-enamelled globe of the anomalistic cycle indicator

The final, and simplest, face of the Calibre 185 is on the rear of the cradle. It’s essentially the inverse of the Northern Hemisphere moon phase display, showing a Southern Hemisphere moon phase. As it is on the front, the moon phase is depicted against a blue-lacquered sky motif.

The secret to the connection between the two sections of the movement is just as it was in the Triptyque (which was similarly constructed but with three faces instead of four).

A tiny pin located on the base of the case extends at midnight, triggering the astronomical mechanism within the cradle, moving all of the astronomical indications forward by one step. The pin is part of the perpetual calendar mechanism, and extends simultaneously with the calendar change over. Naturally, for the mechanism to work, the case has to be secured in the cradle (on either side).

The Southern Hemisphere moon phase

Visually, the Calibre 185 Quadriptyque departs from earlier JLC grand complications. It is dominated by hobnail guilloche – done by hand the traditional way with a straight-line engine – accented with blued steel components like the hands and screws, giving it a metallic, slightly industrial feel that gives the Calibre 185 a more modern aesthetic.

Importantly, the watch is delivered with a box that incorporates a smart setting mechanism to set all of the calendar and astronomical functions of the watch.


Key Facts and Price

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185
Ref. Q7103420

Diameter: 51.2 mm by 31 mm
Height: 15.15 mm
Material: 18k white gold
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 185
Functions:
Face 1: Hours and minutes, flying tourbillon, and instantaneous perpetual calendar with big date
Face 2: Jumping hours, minutes, and minute repeater
Face 3: Northern Hemisphere moon phase, as well as indicators for lunar month, moon apogee and perigee, month, and year
Face 4: Southern Hemisphere Moon Phase
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Hand wind
Power reserve: 50 hours

Strap: Alligator with white gold folding clasp

Additional accessories: Presentation box with built-in setting mechanism for time and calendar

Limited edition: 10 pieces
Availability:
 On order at boutiques and retailers
Price
: €1.35m, or about US$1.60m

For more information, visit Jaeger-LeCoultre.com.


 

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Remontet Introduces the Time Capsule

Original and avant-garde.

Located in the town of Renaison, a five-hour drive south of Paris, Horlogerie V Remontet is named after its founder, Valentin Remontet. A young watchmaker who who spent three years at TAG Heuer and then Breguet before striking out on his own, Mr Remontet started his brand with conventional, round watches powered by ETA movements.

He has since moved on to watches that are inventive and modern in style and construction. Mr Remontet’s latest is the Time Capsule, a avant-garde watch that has an unorthodox regulator-style display along with unconventional hourstriker.

Initial thoughts

With the fashion of the day in niche independent watchmaking being classical watchmaking with a heavy Breguet numerals or a “sector” dial, Mr Remontet’s watch is decidedly bold – and also impressive.

Its aesthetic is highly technical, and matched by genuinely creative mechanics. The movement is clearly an original construction, even if it does use some components from common calibres.

The style is certainly not for everyone – I find it a bit too extreme – but the fresh, bold nature of the Time Capsule is impressive. And the €17,000 price, which is about US$21,000, is fair considering the work in both development and manufacture.

Preserving a memory

Mr Remontet works along, and fabricates much of the watch himself – including the gaskets for the case – with some components produced by a French micro-machining specialist in micro machining. As a result, Mr Remontet says about 90% of the watch is made in France. In fact, the only parts purchased from Swiss suppliers are the balance wheel, hairspring, barrel assembly, rubies, and Incabloc spring.

Despite the sci-fi nature of the watch, its origins are surprisingly sentimental. It is literally a time capsule – a robust container to preserve items from the past – with one of the movement bridges bearing a silver plate that is ready to be engraved with a dedication or image.

Although the starting point of the Time Capsule was simple, Mr Remontet clearly went far beyond the engraved plate. The hand-wound movement indicates hours, minutes, and seconds regulator-style, with each indication on its own register.

The retrograde minutes are shown in a fan-shaped scale, while the hours are displayed on a rotating drum located at 12 o’clock. And the constant seconds takes the form of a four-armed propeller just below the minute scale.

More unusual is the hourstriker mechanism. Instead of a conventional, resonant chime, the hourstriker relies on a bronze gong to sound a metallic tap once an hour [Mr Remontet has a short recording of the strike on his website].

According to Mr Remontet, construction of the movement connects the gong to the bridges and then the case back, allowing the vibration of the hourly strike to be felt with the watch on the wrist.

Both the bridges and main plate of the movement are steel, while the bridges have been open worked to reveal most of the moving parts within.

Time setting and winding are accomplished with the crown that sits at three o’clock on the front of the case, pointing towards the wearer.

Made of titanium, the case is sizeable, measuring 43.5 mm by 43.5 mm and standing 14 mm. The case back is slightly arched, allowing it to sit better on the wrist.

The case is a two-part construction made up of a case body and bezel. The movement is secured with screws directly to the case body, with each attachment point protected by washers that serve as dampers to absorb shock. And on the front, the bezel sits over the sapphire crystal to protect it.

The Time Capsule is made to order, with minor customisation possible. Besides the engraving on the movement plate, the client can also select the colour of the minute and seconds hands.


Key facts and price

Remontet Time Capsule

Diameter: 43.5 mm by 43.5 mm
Height: 14 mm
Material: Titanium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Time Capsule
Functions: Jumping hours on cylinder, retrograde minutes, a propeller seconds
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: 18,000 beats per hour (2.5 Hz)
Power reserve: 48 hours

Strap: Leather

Availability: Direct from Remontet
Price:
€17,000 excluding taxes

For more, visit Remontet-watchmaking.com.


 

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Living With: IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41

The best iteration of a classic.

I’m familiar with IWC pilot’s watches, having once owned a Mark XVII, which I bought as the quintessential flieger watch. But the Mark XVII didn’t last too long in my collection because it is very much military-inspired, and I’m not much of a military man, making it hard for me to connect with the design. When I got the chance to test drive the new Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 (ref. IW3881) – the latest version of IWC’s longstanding bestseller – I figured it was an opportunity to see if the fliegerchronograph would appeal to me where the time-only Mark XVII did not.

Initial thoughts

On paper, the 41 mm Pilot’s Watch Chronograph is an evolution rather than a revolution, perhaps unsurprising given how popular successive versions of the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph have been over the three decades they have been in the catalogue.

The various elements that make up the watch are familiar – the blue dial can be found on the larger “Le Petit Prince” Pilot’s Watch Chronograph from 2016, while the cal. 69000-family movement inside a reduced, 41 mm case was exactly the revamped Spitfire Pilot’s Watch Chronograph launched in 2019.

But still, the new chronograph manages to be a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts. While constituent parts might be similar, but they arguably work better together here than in any prior watch.

I was surprised at how much I liked the watch. For one, the 41 mm case is significantly more wearable than the previous-generation 43 mm case, which I felt was too bulky. On my 7″ wrist, the 41 mm case is substantial but not imposing. The new case also makes the watch more versatile stylistically – the watch felt at home even with more formal outfits, especially when paired with a leather strap.

Then there’s the striking blue dial that seems to be identical to that on the “Le Petit Prince” chronograph. The colour and sunburst finish give the dial a lively appearance that sets it apart from the typical IWC pilot’s watches, which are mostly serious-looking, “tool” watches. In hindsight, that was probably why I didn’t vibe with the utilitarian Mark XVII; I prefer my watches to have some visual flair.

The new Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 has flair, especially with the blue dial. While there’s also a green variant available, I find its colour a bit too faddish – it is just one of many green-dial watches this year – given that an aviator’s watch usually more classic and unchanging in style. The blue dial is very much a Goldilocks aesthetic – just right in being more eye-catching than the usual black dials, but not overly modish like its green counterpart.

But the new Pilot’s Watch Chronograph is more than just a new colour and size. Its most substantive change is the in-house cal. 69385, instead of the Valjoux 7750 found in previous iterations of the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph. Developed in-house by IWC, the cal. 69385 is a robust workhorse calibre of the very sort that should be in a pilot’s watch, but also has refinements like a column wheel and skeletonised escape wheel.

The cal. 69385

More than the sum of its parts

Now the house style for all its Pilot’s watches, the dial design is essentially a modern take on the dial found inside the beobachtungsuhr, or “navigation watch”, that IWC made for the second world war German Air air force. Though it includes all the elements found on the vintage original, they have all been made slightly gentler – the lozenge hands are rounder and less aggressively shaped – or more civilian friendly, in other words.

As a result, the new Pilot’s Watch Chronograph feels like a movie we’ve seen before – the dial is virtually identical to the “Le Petit Prince” Pilot’s Watch Chronograph, except for the position of the seconds sub-dial that’s been moved from nine to six o’clock as a result of the new movement. The relocated seconds at six has a red hand – a smart, functional detail that clearly differentiates it from the totaliser counters.

Up close, the dial of the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 is neatly finished. Every element is properly executed, as you would expect for a high-quality watch at this price, but simply and without any flourish. The printed indices and markers are precise, while the hands are cleanly polished. And the day-date windows are slightly recessed with stepped borders and rounded corners.

If there’s one element I would improve, it’s the calendar. Both the day and date are on white discs, which are jarring against the dial colour. The calendar is not a crucial bit of information, so having the twin discs in blue to blend into the dial doesn’t affect the day-to-day usefulness of the watch.

The sub-dials are stamped with a concentric pattern that provides textural juxtaposition against the sunburst surface of the dial

IWC’s aviation watches have historically possessed excellent cases and this continues that tradition. In fact, the case design is almost identical to that of the first-generation ref. 3706 Fliegerchronograph.

The case is similarly finished well, perhaps a step above the quality of the dial. It has a fine brushed finish that reflects the utilitarian heritage of the watch, but the polished bevels on the lugs and bezel add a bit of refinement.

Where the case can be improved is practically invisible. Because the bezel and case middle are one piece, the border between bezel and case is soft and probably the only ill-defined detail of the case.

Between bezel and case

Along with the case size, the thickness of the watch has also been reduced. It’s still a thick watch, but now stands 14.5 mm high, almost a full millimetre thinner than the previous generation Pilot’s Watch Chronograph. The slimmer and smaller case results in a significantly improved wearing experience.

The watch is 14.5 mm thick

As is standard for most of its Pilot’s Watch line, the chronograph can be had on either a bracelet or leather strap.

The bracelet is weighty and solid, and is equipped with a ratcheting clasp that allows for micro-adjustment of several millimetres either way. Notably, it’s the same extension mechanism found on the Lange Odysseus bracelet. As on the Lange, the extension mechanism is useful, but results in a bulky clasp.

While the quality of the bracelet matches the case, its design isn’t the best. The alternating brushed and polished links of different widths give it somewhat of a dated appearance that doesn’t go with the no-nonsense style of a pilot’s watch.

Alternating finishing on the five-link bracelet

The watch feels more robust on a steel bracelet, but I find the blue strap complements the dial better and wore the watch mostly on the strap.

However, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph features IWC’s EasX-CHANGE, allowing easy swapping of straps without any tools. Unlike many proprietary quick-release system, it’s a simple mechanism, essentially a lever that retracts the springs bars. Though not fancy, it is highly functional.

Being easy to exchange between the two, I would recommend getting the watch with the bracelet, and then buying a strap (it’s more cost efficient than buying the bracelet separately) to go along for different situations.

EasX-CHANGE

New mechanics

Lastly, I’m also heartened to see that IWC has finally bestowed an in-house movement on its most popular chronograph.

While the Valjoux 7750 that powered earlier generations of the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph is tried-and-tested – and basically bombproof – it is common and found in many cheaper chronographs. For what the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph costs, a more refined movement is reasonably expected.

One of the less obvious features of the cal. 69385 are the skeletonised escape wheel and pallet lever that operate more efficiently due to their lightness

The use of the cal. 69385 is part of IWC’s ongoing efforts to equip most of its offerings with in-house movements. It ensures the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph is a better value proposition than its predecessors, because the cal. 69385 is an arguably superior movement in terms of technical features. With a column wheel to control the start-stop-reset functions, the cal. 69385 has sharper pusher feel than the Valjoux 7750.

While servicing costs may be slightly higher since the cal. 69385 is a slightly fancier movement, as a watch enthusiast I appreciate the in-house movement as compared to an off-the-shelf alternative.

[If you want to know more about the movement, we explored the cal. 69000 family of movements in greater detail in our review of the IWC Portugieser Chronograph ref. 3716.]

The movement is also finished with Geneva striping and perlage

The cal. 69385 is equipped with a column wheel

Though in house, the movement retains the Etachron regulator of the 7750, which is a practical solution though not the best looking

And in a first for an IWC Pilot’s Watch, the movement can be admired via a sapphire case back. The movement is dressed up with Côtes de Genève and perlage. While not as beautiful to behold as a high-end, manual-winding chronograph movement, it is nonetheless a pleasing sight.

The open back does bring with it a minor drawback. Historically, the brand’s aviator’s watches had solid backs with a soft-iron cage underneath to protect the movement from magnetism. Now that’s been replaced by a soft-iron ring around the movement, making a display back possible. The downside is reduced magnetism resistance, but that has no practical implications for the typical wearer, and definitely none for me.

Concluding thoughts

The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 is one of my favourite releases at this year’s Watches & Wonders. Although derivative in design, the watch is arguably the best recent iteration of the IWC aviator’s chronograph, especially with its more wearable size and the in-house, column-wheel movement. Sometimes, only slight adjustments to a winning formula are all that’s needed for perfection, or at least near perfection.

Alternatives in the same price range include the Zenith Type 20 Chronograph, and the Breitling Navitimer B01. However, the IWC has better proportions, being smaller than its rivals – the Type 20 Chronograph is 45 mm, while even the smallest version of the Navitimer B01 is 43 mm – and significantly more affordable.

In other words, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph is perhaps the pilot chronograph for those seeking something with the traditional aviator’s watch style but in a more manageable size.


Key Facts and Price

IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41
Ref. IW388101 (blue dial, strap)
Ref. IW388102 (blue dial, bracelet)
Ref. IW388103 (green dial, strap)
Ref. IW388104 (green dial, bracelet)

Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 14.5 mm
Material: Steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Cal. 69385
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, day and date, and chronograph
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 46 hours

Strap: Calfskin with pin buckle, or steel bracelet

Availability: Now at IWC boutiques and authorised retailers
Price:
Strap – US$6,500; or 9,750 Singapore dollars
Bracelet – US$7,200; or 10,800 Singapore dollars

For more, visit IWC.com.


 

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TAG Heuer Introduces the Monaco Green Dial

For the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique.

Organised by the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM), the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique is an annual classic-car race that traditionally takes place before the city’s Formula 1 Grand Prix.

As the official timekeeper of the event, TAG Heuer is marking this year’s race with the Monaco Green Dial. A facelifted variant of its iconic square chronograph, the new Monaco features a gradient-green dial that’s a first for the Monaco, but an exceptionally common colour this year.

Initial thoughts

Arguably the iconic Heuer chronograph by virtue of its unmistakeable 1970s style, the Monaco was introduced in 1969 in honour of the Monaco Grand Prix. An unusual combination of a water-resistant, automatic chronograph with a square case, the Monaco remains the brand’s most recognisable timepiece.

While the choice of a green dial may feel modish – dials in this shade seem endless this year even though it’s only April – it is nevertheless well executed. The smoked, metallic finish lends the watch a more nuanced look that separates it from most watches with a green dial. It might not be novel, but I’ve seen the new Monaco in the metal and it is one of the more attractive green dials that I’ve seen to date.

While the remake of the original Monaco ref. 1133 “Steve McQueen” would be my pick from the Monaco lineup – I appreciate its historically-faithful design – the new Monaco in green is a great option for someone seeking a more contemporary watch that still possesses a degree of history.

At the same time, new Monaco does have the advantage of an in-house movement, while the Monaco remakes with a left-hand crown are all powered by ETA or Sellita calibres.

At US$6,650, it is actually less expensive  than last year’s Grand Prix de Monaco Historique edition, and just US$300 over the standard Monaco models (with either an in-house or outsourced movement), making it a decent value proposition.

Green with envy

Radially brushed and metallic, the green dial is smoked, with a pale green centre that darkens towards the edges, while black sub-dials provide a sharp but subtle contrast. TAG Heuer says the colour “is reminiscent of the famous covered portion of the Monaco Grand Prix track”, making it to thematically congruent with the racing inspiration, though it does sound like a bit of a stretch.

The remainder of the watch remains identical to the standard Monaco, with a bold square case measuring 39 mm that’s fitted with a domed and bevelled sapphire crystal.

The watch is powered by the in-house cal. Heuer 02, which is equipped with a column wheel and a vertical clutch as well as a handy 80-hour power reserve.

Unlike last year’s edition, the new Monaco has a clear case back that does away with the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique logo, allowing the movement to be viewed in its entirety. The reference to the event is more subtle this time around, with the column wheel and lettering on the rotor rendered in green.


Key facts and price

TAG Heuer Monaco Green Dial
Ref. CBL2116.FC6497

Diameter: 39 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: Steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Heuer 02
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, and chronograph
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 80 hours

Strap: Alligator with folding clasp

Limited edition: 500 pieces
Availability: From April 23, 2021 at TAG Heuer’s online shop, boutiques, and authorised retailers
Price: 
US$6,650; or 9,400 Singapore dollars

For more, visit tagheuer.com


 

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