H. Moser and Cie. Unveils the Endeavour Tourbillon Concept Tiger’s Eye

Striking stone dials.

After introducing the amusingly quirky Endeavour Centre Seconds X Seconde/Seconde/ last week, H. Moser and Cie. continues with its minimalist approach to design in a more serious-minded manner with the Endeavour Tourbillon Concept Tiger’s Eye.

Available in two variants each with equally stunning natural stone dials – blue Falcon’s Eye and reddish-brown Ox’s Eye – the new tourbillon features rich colours and textures that are a departure from Moser’s conventional aesthetic. Both dials are variants of Tiger’s Eye, the quartz mineral best known as golden brown but also found in other colours. Being a natural material with a prominent grain, each dial, and consequently each watch, is technically unique.

The Ox’s Eye variant, with a red dial and red gold case.

Initial thoughts

The new tourbillon is based on an existing reference, which is already a mesmerising watch. However, for those seeking something different from the usual fume dials that’s still quintessentially Moser, the Tiger’s Eye certainly fits the bill.

Mineral stone dials were the in-thing in the 1970s and 1980s – often found in with ultra-thin watches on mesh bracelets – and seem to be enjoying a resurgence today. But few have implemented semiprecious stones as beautifully as Moser has here, with its signature minimalist look providing the perfect canvas for the unique natural material.

I find both variants equally attractive. The Falcon’s Eye is more contemporary in its blue and white gold combination – blue is now a colour du jour – and also more stylistically versatile in its cool colours. However, the Ox’s Eye has a je ne sais quoi that is deeply appealing – its rich colours possess a true old-school charm.

The Falcon’s Eye – more contemporary, and likely more popular

Priced at US$75,900 in either colour, the new Tiger’s Eye tourbillon costs slightly more than the standard model, but the increase is justified considering the semiprecious stone dial, particularly the difficulty of obtaining a large enough piece of mineral with colours and grain that are just right.

Eye of the Tiger

The dial of the Tiger’s Eye tourbillon is crafted from a variety of microcrystalline quartz, which is formed from amosite, a fibrous mineral. Its shimmering surface is the result of a process known as pseudomorphosis, where the fibres of amosite are partially replaced by silica, which then creates delicate layers in the material.

In typical Moser fashion, the dial is free of logos and indices. Despite the lack of applied details, the dial is still eye-catching in its natural beauty, balanced by the mechanical beauty of the flying tourbillon at six o’clock.

Beating inside the Tiger’s Eye tourbillon is the in-house HMC 804, an automatic with a three-day power reserve that features the Straumann double hairspring found in Moser’s top of the line watches.

Two hairsprings are superimposed above one another, but with their respective coils extending in opposite directions, such that each spring’s centre of gravity mirrors the other. According to Moser, this reduces variations due to gravity, improving isochronism and thus accuracy.

The movement also is equipped with an 18k red gold rotor, and decorated in usual Moser fashion with Cotes de Geneve of alternating widths.


Key Facts and Price

H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Tourbillon Concept Tiger’s Eye
Ref. 1804-0222 (Falcon’s Eye)
Ref. 1804-0401 (Ox’s Eye)

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 11.2 mm
Material: White gold (Falcon’s Eye) or red gold (Ox’s Eye)
Crystal: Sapphire

Movement: HMC 804
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, flying tourbillon
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Alligator leather

Limited edition: 50 pieces for each variant
Availability
: From H.Moser & Cie. online and authorised retailers
Price: US$75,900

For more, visit h-moser.com.


 

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Tudor Introduces the Black Bay Chrono “Panda”

Slimmer and refined.

Tudor first starting making chronographs a half century ago, and to commemorate that milestone, the brand is facelifting the Black Bay Chrono by giving it a slimmer case as well as two new “panda” dials. Available in either a “panda” or a “reverse panda” dial, the new Black Bay Chrono sticks with the vintage-inspired styling of the Black Bay line, while also preserving the affordable pricing. Together that should make it popular amongst those seeking an affordable sports chronograph.

The new Black Bay Chrono with an opaline dial

Initial thoughts

Tudor typically iterates rather than revamp, and so the new Black Bay Chrono is an incremental improvement, in part a response to the consumers’ desire for a slimmer chronograph (because the original was fairly chunky).

The “panda” dials of the new Black Bay Chronos are more striking than the solid-colour dials of the 2017 original, because the juxtaposition of colour enhances the sportiness, while the monochrome aesthetic stays true to the utilitarian roots of the design.

The Black Bay Chronograph with a “reverse panda” dial

In addition, the steel bezels of the originals have been livened up with black aluminium inserts, which provides a distinct, retro-racing chronograph feel. My only knock on the new design is the date – I think the dial would look cleaner sans date, and properly vintage-inspired.

My pick would be the Black Bay Chrono “reverse panda” matched with a metal bracelet. It possesses a stealthy, “tool” watch vibe that I really dig.

My pick out of the pair – though I wish it came without a date

Part of its appeal is no doubt the similarity to vintage “Paul Newman” Daytonas, which also featured “panda” (or “reverse panda”) dials, screw-down pushers, and red text at six o’clock. The resemblance is there, prompting some to dub the new Black Bay Chrono the poor man’s “Paul Newman”.

Starting at US$4,900 on a strap, the new Black Bay Chrono is phenomenal value for money – especially given the high-spec movement – and likely the best-value sports chronograph one can find under US$5,000.

Gently refreshed

Aside from the “panda” aesthetic, the rest of the dial remains the same as on the previous-generation Black Bay Chrono. Tudor’s signature “snowflake” hands are present, as are the circular applied indices that have become something of a Black Bay hallmark.

The sub-dials are recessed, providing depth to the dial

The sapphire crystal is slightly domed, making it reminiscent of the acrylic crystals found on Tudor chronographs of yesteryear

Tudor describes the new Black Bay Chrono case as being “refined by the ingenious cut of the lower part of the sapphire crystal and a repositioned movement”. What that means is that the dial sits closer to the crystal – and consequently the movement also moves upwards towards the crystal – reducing the overall height of the watch. At the same time, perceived height is further minimised by the bevel on the lower edge of the case.

The case size remains the same 41 mm as the first-generation model, but the height has been slightly reduced, trimmed from 14.9 mm to 14.4 mm. The thinner case is essentially identical to that first seen in 2019 on the Black Bay Chrono Dark and Black Bay Chrono S&G.

The MT5813

The watch remains powered by the MT5813, based on Breitling’s Calibre 01 and customised by Tudor. Featuring a vertical-clutch and column-wheel chronograph, the movement is fitted with Tudor’s free-sprung, adjustable mass balance wheel as well as a silicon hairspring. It is also COSC-certified, and features a handy three days of power reserve.


Key facts and price

Tudor Black Bay Chrono
Ref. 79360N

Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 14.4 mm
Material: Steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 200 m

Movement: Cal. MT5813
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 3 days

Strap: Steel bracelet, leather strap, or fabric strap

Availability: Now at Tudor boutiques and authorised retailers
Price: US$4,900 (strap); US$5,225 (bracelet)

For more, visit Tudorwatch.com.


Correction April 11, 2021: The case on the new Black Bay Chrono Panda was first found on the Black Bay Chrono Dark and Black Bay Chrono S&G in 2019.

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IWC Introduces the Big Pilot’s Watch 43

More wearable and a 60-hour movement.

One of the five makers of the beobachtungsuhr, or B-uhr, supplied to the German Luftwaffe during the second world war, IWC is perhaps best known for its pilot’s watches. And the quintessential modern-day IWC pilot’s watch is arguably the Big Pilot’s Watch, which is modelled on the oversized B-uhr (which translates “navigation watch”).

Watches and Wonders 2021 sees a litany of new Pilot’s Watches from IWC, including the Big Pilot’s Watch 43, a more wearable, 43 mm version of its extra-large aviator’s watch that was historically 46.2 mm. The reduction in size is made possible due to the cal. 82100, instead of the seven-day cal. 52110 found in its larger brother.

Available with black or blue dials, along with the option of a bracelet, the new Big Pilot sticks to traditional dial colours, with no green on offer, despite the faddish colour being found on the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 that’s being launched at the same time.

The Big Pilot Watch 43 in blue

Initial thoughts

A theme at this year’s Watches & Wonders seems to be downsizing – brands from Rolex to Panerai seem to be responding to rising demand for smaller cases. By shrinking the Big Pilot from 46 mm to 43 mm, IWC caters to those who still want a biggish pilot’s watch, but one that will be easier to wear.

Aside from the reduced size, the new Big Pilot 43 has been pared back in terms of design (which is also a consequence of the new movement). Gone are the date and power reserve display indicator that were signatures of the original Big Pilot. Instead, the new Big Pilot is a simple three-hander, the most minimalist iteration of the model yet. And that’s also historically accurate, since the air force B-uhr were time-only as well.

The Big Pilot’s Watch 43 in black

All three references of the new model are handsome, and evoke a utilitarian quality well suited to the flieger design. My pick of the lot is the blue dial with a leather strap. The sunburst blue dial is striking, while the riveted strap plays to the aviation theme.

Starting at US$8,400 on a leather strap, the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 is significantly cheaper than its larger predecessor, which has a price tag of US$12,900. It is the most affordable Big Pilot to date – albeit with a simpler movement – making it a notable value proposition.

The bracelet version costs a tad more at US$9,350

Not so big

With its minimalist aesthetic, the Big Pilot 43 is as legible as they come, and a classic design that will likely endure the test of time. Augmenting the look is the oversized, conical crown that’s a signature of IWC’s aviator’s watches and modelled on the “onion” crown of the vintage B-uhr.

While smaller, the case is finished similarly to that of the large Big Pilot, with a combination of satin-brushed and polished finishes.

Inside is the in-house cal. 82100 that features the efficient Pellaton automatic winding system that’s a longtime IWC invention, but improved with its pawls and wheel in wear-resistant ceramic.

While well short of the seven days of the cal. 52000 in the original Big Pilot, the cal. 82100 has an above-average power reserve of 60 hours. And it’s also decorated with Geneva stripes and perlage, improving the view through the sapphire case back.

Additionally, the new Big Pilot is equipped with EasX-CHANGE. A quick-release mechanical for the strap, it requires pushing down on a recessed button on the back of the strap or bracelet to release it from the spring bars, allowing the wearer to switch straps with ease.

 


Key Facts and Price

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43
Ref. IW329301 (black on leather)
Ref. IW329303 (blue on leather)
Ref. IW329304 (blue on bracelet)

Diameter: 43 mm
Height: 13.6 mm
Material: Steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Cal. 82100
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 60 hours

Strap: Leather or bracelet

Availability: From IWC boutiques and authorised retailers
Price: US$8,400 (leather); US$9,350 (bracelet)

For more, visit IWC.com.


 

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Rolex Introduces the Datejust 36 “Exotic Dials”

Palm fronds and geometric patterns.

Presented at Baselworld 2018, the current generation Rolex Datejust 36 sticks to the look and feel of its predecessor, but its internals were given a thorough upgrade with a latest-generation cal. 3235 movement. At Watches & Wonders 2021, Rolex has introduced a series of textured dials for the Datejust 36, giving the model a variety of distinct looks, either a palm leaf or horizontal fluted motif.

Initial Thoughts

Sometimes criticised for a conservative approach to design – Rolex iterates and improves rather than redesigns – the new Datejust 36 now offers the perhaps greatest aesthetic variety in the entire Rolex line up, both in terms of dial styles and colours, but also case materials, and gem setting.

Despite being individually different, the new dials fit right into Datejust collection. My favourite is the most affordable of the four, the Datejust 36 with a green dial featuring the palm frond pattern (and a domed bezel and Oyster bracelet) that instantly brings to mind a summer vacation in the tropics.

Traditionalists, on the other hand, will likely be drawn to the Datejust in two-tone, yellow-gold Rolesor on a Jubilee bracelet that has a geometric linear dial pattern that echoes the Datejust’s iconic fluted bezel.

Notably, the models with the new dials cost the same as the corresponding models with older dial designs. There’s now even more choice in the diverse Datejust line up, with something for everyone.

The traditionalist’s choice: the fluted dial is available only on the yellow Rolesor model

Patterned Dials

The new dials are available with two motifs, palm or fluted, in three colours – olive green, gold, dark silver – but the fluted pattern is additionally available in blue. All have the traditional 18k solid-gold hour markers and hands.

Each of the dials is first radially brushed before the motif is applied with a femtosecond laser – essentially a ultrafast laser that lightly burns the surface of the dial to create the pattern and texture. As a result of the high-tech process, the dials are impressively nuanced – the palm motif is executed in two contrasting shades that provide an impression of depth and shadow.

The new dials are offered in four references in Oystersteel, yellow Rolesor, or Everose Rolesor

The palm motif is rendered in two complementary shades of green

Aside from the dials, the new Datejust 36s are identical to the current models. That means a 36 mm case with a polished finish, a “cyclops” date magnifier on the sapphire crystal, and Twinlock screw-down crown.

The Datejust 36 is powered by the cal. 3235, one of Rolex’s technically-sophisticated, latest-generation movements. It is equipped with the high-efficiency Chronergy escapement that helps extend the power reserve of the watch to 70 hours, and the balance is made of Rolex’s proprietary blue Parachrom, a niobium and zirconium alloy that endows the balance with paramagnetic properties.

Also, the movement is rated to keep time to -2/+2 seconds per day – the Superlative Chronometer standard – as all current Rolex watches are.


Key facts and price

Rolex Datejust 36
Ref. 126200-0020 (Palm motif in green, Oystersteel)
Ref. 126233-0038 (Palm motif in gold, yellow Rolesor)
Ref. 126231-0031 (Palm motif in silver, Everose Rolesor)
Ref. 126233-0039 (Fluted motif in gold, yellow Rolesor)
Ref. 126234-0050 (Fluted motif in blue, white Rolesor)

Diameter: 36 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: Oystersteel, or Rolesor
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Cal. 3235
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds; date
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 70 hours

Strap: Steel or Rolesor Oyster bracelet; Rolesor jubilee bracelet (all with EasyLink extension)

Availability: From May 2021
Price:
Palm motif, Oystersteel – US$7,050; or 9,460 Singapore dollars
Palm motif, yellow Rolesor – US$11,050; or 14,830 Singapore dollars
Palm motif, Everose Rolesor – US$12,000; 16,090 Singapore dollars
Fluted motif, yellow Rolesor – US$11,700; or 15,670 Singapore dollars
Fluted dial, white gold Rolesor – US$8,300; or 11,160 Singapore dollars

For more, visit Rolex.com.


 

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Ulysse Nardin Introduces the UFO Table Clock

A 365-day clock that never topples.

Having made a name for itself in the early 20th century for its marine chronometers, Ulysse Nardin revisits its roots with the UFO, an intriguing table clock conceived to mark the brand’s 175th anniversary. Described as a “swinging mechanical depiction of the movement of the waves”, the UFO is as an avant-garde reinterpretation of the marine chronometer. It’s essentially a round-bottomed doll that will wobble and sway but never topple over, except it contains an impressive mechanical movement with a 365-day power reserve.

Traditionally known for largely classical designs with the occasional twist, such as the Marine Torpilleur, Ulysse Nardin has been gravitating towards more boldly modern designs in recent years, exemplified by the Blast Tourbillon and the Freak X Silicium Marquetry. That experimental approach is now applied to the table clock in a collaboration with clock specialist L’Epée 1839, the supplier of choice for many watchmakers looking to get into exotic clocks.

Initial thoughts

Inspired by the oceans, the UFO sways when nudged, but remains upright thanks to a weighted base, creating an engaging display of timekeeping. And the UFO is practical as well, featuring three clock faces that can be set to different time zones, or to mirror each other.

Granted, the UFO will have a very niche appeal, considering it’s a table clock with a complex design matched by a high price tag. Costing a whopping US$41,100, the UFO is almost double the price of L’Epée’s better known works for brands like MB&F, which include the Medusa and the T-Rex.

While the UFO is definitely a far more complicated construction – the movement is one of L’Epee’s most complex – the price will be hard to swallow for all but the most ardent clock enthusiasts.

Out of this world

Crafted out of 663 components, the UFO is a mechanical tower that is built upon a blue, half-spherical aluminium base that contains a tungsten mass.

This allows the UFO to swing up to 60° from the vertical, mimicking a boat rocking on the ocean waves. It’s interesting to note that the original marine chronometers built in the 1800s were often gimballed to keep them level despite the motion of ships out on the ocean – the UFO’s construction is basically a reversal of that and accentuates movement.

At the top of the UFO sits the balance wheel, which is a large 49 mm wide. Coupled with the clock’s slow beat of 0.5 Hz and six barrels, the UFO boasts a stunning power reserve of one year, making winding the clock an annual affair.

365 days of running time

The UFO also features a dead-beat seconds that is positioned below the balance wheel. Given the low frequency of the balance, a dead-beat seconds complication makes perfect sense mechanically.

The balance wheel at the top of the UFO, with the dead-beat seconds display underneath

The UFO is encased in a spherical dome that’s hand blown by glass artisan Romain Montero, who works out of a workshop on the shores of Lake Neuchâtel in the Vallee de Joux, and not far from Ulysse Nardin’s home in Le Locle. The dome is 3 mm thick, and not only gives the UFO its shape but also protects the mechanics from dust.

Blowing the dome by hand

Cutting the dome down to size


Key facts and price

Ulysse Nardin UFO
Ref. 9023-900LE-3A-BLUE

Diameter: 15.9 cm
Height: 26.3 cm
Weight: 7.2 kg
Material: Aluminium and blown glass

Movement: UN-902
Functions:
Three time zone display with hours and minutes, and deadbeat seconds
Winding:
 Key-wound
Frequency: 3,600 beats per hour (0.5 Hz)
Power reserve: 365 days

Limited edition: 75 pieces
Availability: From authorised dealers
Price: US$41,100

For more, visit Ulysse-nardin.com.


 

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