Zenith Introduces the Chronomaster Sport in Rose Gold

Sports luxe.

Introduced just earlier this year, the Chronomaster Sport is the first regular-production model equipped with the El Primero 3600, the latest iteration of Zenith’s storied chronograph movement.

Having debuted the line with versions in steel, Zenith now unveils the rose gold Chronomaster Sport, adding a touch of luxe to the sports chronograph.

Initial thoughts

While not the most novel, the new Chronomaster Sport is a sensible addition to the line. Flagship sports chronographs – Daytona, Speedmaster, Big Bang et al – are offered in solid gold, so it makes sense that Zenith would take the same approach with the Chronomaster Sport.

I’ve handled the watch in the metal, and it is eminently striking in gold and black. Admittedly, it does have a passing resemblance to the Daytona in the same livery, but I would say that the Chronomaster Sport more than holds its own, especially considering its movement.

The dial is recognisably Zenith with its signature tri-colour registers, as well as the date at 4:30. More crucial is the inscription on the bezel that hints at the movement within. The calibre has a 1/10th second resolution for the chronograph, surpassing most chronographs in its price segment.

Funnily enough, one of my favourite aspects of the watch is actually the gold flange with the minute track that circles the white dial – the colour pops and works wonderfully against the precious metal case.

Priced at US$21,300, the rose gold Chronomaster Sport is substantially more affordable than the competition despite an arguably more advanced calibre, making it a value proposition.

All that glitters is gold

Aside from being clad in rose gold, the new Chronomaster Sport retains almost all aspects that appeal in the steel model. That includes concentrically textured sub-dials; faceted, applied indices with black inlays; and pump-style pushers reminiscent of vintage El Primero chronographs.

Made from shiny black ceramic that’s scratch-resistant, the bezel will look like new even after years of wear

Visible through the back is the recently-developed El Primero 3600, a movement designed from scratch as the next generation of the venerable high-frequency chronograph calibre.

An upgrade from the original in most respects, the El Primero 3600 features twin chronograph seconds hands, one conventional and the other a lightning central seconds that travels six times as fast as a conventional seconds hand. It completes one revolution every 10 seconds, allowing for clearer reading of its 1/10th of a second resolution.

The secret to the high-speed seconds hand is the native 10 beats-per-second frequency of the movement – such that the lightning seconds hand makes 100 tiny, indiscernible steps over 10 seconds, allowing it to be read against the 100 hashmarks on the ceramic bezel.


Key facts and price

Zenith Chronomaster Sport
Ref. 18.3100.3600/69.C920

Diameter: 41 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: 18k rose gold
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: El Primero 3600
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, and chronograph
Frequency: 36,000 beats per hour (5 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 60 hours

Strap: Leather strap with rose gold folding clasp

Availability: At Zenith boutiques and online shop, as well as authorised retailers
Price: US$21,300; or 30,800 Singapore dollars

For more, visit Zenith-watches.com.


 

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Auction Watch: Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 ‘First Series’ and Independents at Phillips Hong Kong

Two 2499s with certificates.

As the Geneva auctions are almost concluded – with the Patek Philippe ref. 2523 cloisonné world time having sold for US$7.83 million – it’s on to the Hong Kong sales that’ll take place in a few weeks.

At Phillips’ Hong Kong auction, the top lot is, unsurprisingly, a complicated Patek Philippe. Specifically, a first-series ref. 2499 in yellow gold, which is not exceptionally uncommon in itself, but this example has a rare Wenger case and a valuable piece of paper – the original certificate from 1956.

The sale also encompasses another ref. 2499 with its original certificate, a third series in yellow gold that’s more accessibly priced, along with an interesting selection of independent watchmaking. Notably, the line up includes a Harry Winston Opus 1 Tourbillon by F.P. Journe, along with an Opus V by Urwerk.

The Phillips Hong Kong watch auction will happen on June 5 and 6, and the full catalogue is available online at Phillips.com.


2499 duo

Most of the first-series ref. 2499s had cases made by Emile Vichet, a Geneva case maker that supplied the cases for the first two years of the model’s production, making about 10 cases in yellow gold and about four in pink.

Patek Philippe then turned to Ed. Wenger, another Geneva case maker run by brothers Edouard and Andre, for the rest of the first-series, as well as all subsequent series until 1982 when Patek Philippe starting making its own cases. Only about 30 yellow gold cases were made by Wenger for the first-series ref. 2499.

Similar but clearly different, the Wenger case is larger than the Vichet equivalent, measuring 37.5 mm against 36 mm. And the lugs of the Wenger case are shorter, while having a gentler curve downwards.

The first-series ref. 2499 is characterised by rectangular pushers, applied Arabic numerals, and a tachymetre scale

Accompanied by its certificate, as well as two archive extracts and a later Patek Philippe box, the first-series ref. 2499 has an estimate of HK$12m-23m, or about US$1.5m-3.0m – full lot details here.

Also a ref. 2499 with its original certificate but far more affordable is the third-series ref. 2499 with an estimate of HK$3.1m-4.6m, or US$400,000-600,000 – full lot details here.

This watch dates to 1977 and was sold by the family of the original owner in 2017, where it changed hands for CHF456,500 including fees.

The third-series ref. 2499

And worth a mention is the Patek Philippe ref. 5959P, here in its original configuration with a white enamel dial. Small but mighty, the ref. 5959P is just 33 mm in diameter but powered by the gorgeous CHR 27-525 PS.

With an estimate of HK$1.25m-2.03m, or about US$150,000-250,000, the ref. 5959P is tremendous fine watchmaking for not much more than the going rate for a Nautilus – full lot details here.

The ref. 5959P

Independents

An annual edition created in collaboration between Harry Winston and an independent watchmaker that’s since been put on ice, the Opus 1 was created by F.P. Journe. All the Opus 1 watches were equipped with F.P. Journe movements – all calibres with brass plates and bridges – but inside a Harry Winston platinum case.

Only six of the Opus 1 tourbillon watches were made, all with lacquered dials in different bright colours, making each unique. This is the second to be offered in as many months; the example with a turquoise dial just sold in Geneva over the weekend for CHF453,600, or about US$503,000.

This is has a pink-lacquer dial that’s as striking as it gets. The Opus 1 estimated at HK$800,000-1.6m, or about US$100,000-200,000 – full lot details here.

The Opus 1 Tourbillon

Another F.P. Journe that doesn’t resemble a typical F.P. Journe is the Vagabondage II. A series of three watches, all in a tortue, or tortoise, case, the Vagabondage is all about unconventional time displays. The Vagabondage II has both jumping hours and minutes, each indicated with discs visible through the tinted sapphire dial.

Estimated at HK$312,000-624,000, or US$40,000-80,000, the Vagabondage II (and the other watches in the series) remains relatively good value compared to F.P. Journe conventional watches- full lot details here.

The Vagabondage II

Also in the sale is another important watch from the Opus series. Made by Urwerk for Harry Winston, the Opus V was the very first watch to feature Urwerk’s trademark satellite-cube display. It was only later that Urwerk itself debuted the complication on its own UR-201.

Once again the Opus V features Harry Winston’s distinctive lugs, but matched with a massive, UFO-shaped case to accommodate the tri-dimensional time display. The case shape is asymmetrical as a result of the swivelling cap on the right that hides the crown. This has an estimate of HK$468,000-780,000, or US$60,000-100,000 – full lot details here.

The Opus V

The final example of independent watchmaking is the DB25 Moon Phase Starry Sky. Very much in De Bethune recognisable style the watch has a heat-blued titanium dial with a spherical moon phase.

But this is also an elegantly discreet jewellery watch – the dial features brilliant-cut diamonds for the hour markers and stars on the dial, along with a diamond-set moon sphere. More importantly, the case band is set with baguette-cut blue sapphires. The estimate is a modest HK$235,000-490,000, or US$30,000-60,000 – full lot details here.

The DB25


Preview and auction details

Selected lots will be on show in various cities across Asia in the run up to the sale.

Singapore (registration required)
May 14-15, 11:00 am-7:00 pm daily
Embassy & Consulate Room, The St. Regis, 29 Tanglin Road

Shenzhen
May 22-23, 10:00 am-6:00 pm daily
Raffles Shenzhen, T7, One Shenzhen Bay, 3008 Zhongxin Road, Nanshan District

Taipei
May 22-23, 11:00 am-6:00 pm
B1 Art Gallery, Bellavita, No. 28, Songren Road, Xinyi District, Taipei, Taiwan

Taichung
May 26, 11:00 am-6:00 pm
Fong-Yi Gallery, B1, No. 110, Section 1, Wuquan West Road, West District, Taichung, Taiwan

Hong Kong
June 2-5, 10:00 am-7:00 pm daily
JW Marriott Hotel, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XII will take place across two sessions: the first on June 5 at 7 pm, followed by the day sale on June 6 at 12 pm. The venue is the J.W. Marriott Hong Kong.

This was brought to you in partnership with Phillips.


 

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Hands-On: Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver Military

Black and olive drab.

Though taking the form of its signature aviation-instrument watch, the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver Military is the latest in a lineage of dive watches that started in 1997.

Pilot’s watches are its bread and butter, but Bell & Ross (B&R) has been making high-spec dive watches almost since its founding in 1992. Five years later it launched the Hydromax, which was created in collaboration with Sinn. Featuring a case filled with incompressible synthetic oil, the Hydromax boasted a staggering water-resistance rating of 11,100 m.

Two decades later, B&R launched the BR 03-92 Diver, which transformed the aviation-instrument case into a diving tool with a 300 m depth rating. First unveiled in steel, and subsequently also in either bronze or ceramic, the newest iteration of the BR 03-92 Diver has a functional olive-green dial that evokes the military inspiration behind many of the brand’s watches.

Initial thoughts

On the surface, the BR 03-92 Diver Military is seemingly a mere facelift, a new dial for the BR 03-92 Diver Black of 2019. Only the olive-green dial is new – but it makes a difference.

While green seems to be the colour du jour for 2021, the olive-drab dial colour underscores the B&R spirit perfectly. The brand often looks to the military for inspiration – and has made watches for both police and military units in France – while being inclined towards a vintage style, particularly in its round watches.

Best described as a retro-military colour that evokes uniforms and equipment of 20th century wars, olive drab avoids looking modish, in contrast to the metallic or smoked green dials that are all the rage now, as exemplified by IWC and Audemars Piguet.

In fact, the green complements the stealthy black ceramic case perfectly. Together, black and olive results in a rugged look that is striking despite the muted colours, one that wouldn’t look out of place on military fatigues, wetsuit, or more likely a polo t-shirt and jeans.

And while dive watches are now well and truly common, the BR 03-92 Diver stands out with its trademark square case. It’s immediately recognisable as a B&R watch, especially in this military-inspired colourway.

I’ve tried the BR 03-92 Diver Military on the wrist, and I must say that I found it to wear pretty well. At 42 mm wide and 9.8 mm high, it is has reasonable dimensions as far as large dive watches go; in fact, it is fairly slim.

The BR 03 is arguably the perfect size for the B&R square case – eminently more wearable than the 46 mm BR 01, but having sufficient wrist presence unlike the smaller, 39 mm BR S for ladies.

Large, but not overly so

Military green

The olive green dial of the BR 03-92 Diver Military reveals itself to be well done when viewed up close. And the view is clear as the crystal features anti-reflective coating on its underside. The dial has a sandblasted finish that reinforces the utilitarian design, while the black-coated indices and hands add to the “tactical” feel.

While I’m usually not a fan of a date display, here it’s executed in olive and black, allowing it to integrate well into the dial. As a result, the date is almost camouflaged, but still present when necessary.

Another notable detail is the luminous depth rating on the dial, which is the only lettering that glows in the dark

The watch is equipped with green Super-Luminova on the dial and bezel

The result is a starkly legible dial – in both day and at night – that reflects the brand’s focus on watches for professionals. The BR 03-92 Diver Military is simply B&R doing what it does best.

Built for the depths

Constructed to meet ISO 6425, the criteria for a diver’s watch laid out by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the BR 03-92 Diver Military is a bona fide dive watch in the technical sense.

The BR 03-92 Diver is essentially a bulked up version of the standard BR 03-92, with its 300 m water-resistance accomplish by fortifying the crystal and case back.

Both its sapphire crystal and the case back are substantially thicker than in the standard BR 03-92, though the watch remains relatively slim at under 10 mm. Moreover, the unidirectional bezel of the watch partially hides the thickness of the crystal, thus protecting most of the crystal from chips and damages on its circumference.

The thickness of the crystal is partially hidden by the bezel

The robustness of the watch is aided by the ceramic case and bezel. Lightweight and highly scratch-resistant, the watch will look pristine even after years of use. That said, while ceramic is scratch resistant, it can chip or crack, so hard knocks or drops should be avoided.

Another feature specific to the diver case are the crown guards, intended to protect the crown from impacts that may cause water to penetrate the case.

Ringed in rubber for better grip, the crown is naturally screw-down, and made obvious by “LOCK” and an arrow on the crown guards. Meant to indicate the direction in which to secure the crown, the markings on the crown guards are feel a bit unnecessary.

Powering the watch is the BR-CAL.302, which is a Sellita SW300. Essentially a clone of the ETA 2892, the movement is unremarkable but robust, reliable, and quite thin. Its only downside is a short power reserve of 38 hours, which isn’t an inconvenience if the watch is worn daily.

And the movement sits inside a soft-iron cage that protects it from magnetic fields. Magnetism resistance is not crucial in a dive watch, but is a legacy of the aviation-instrument roots of the square case. The soft-iron cage gives the watch a magnetism of around 80,000 A/m, far surpassing the 4800 A/m dictated by the ISO 6425 diver’s watch standard.

Concluding thoughts

Possessing strong military style along with substance in construction and materials, the BR 03-92 Diver Military exemplifies the spirit of B&R in a compelling package. It’s one of my favourite watches from the brand’s current catalogue, and the best iteration of the BR 03-92 Diver yet.

On the surface, US$4,500 seems a steep ask for a watch powered by an off-the-shelf Sellita movement. But it is fair compared to the competition since a dive watch with a ceramic case is fairly uncommon in this price segment. Most alternatives, from the likes of Sinn, Tudor, or Longines, rely on steel or bronze cases at the US$3,500 mark. And the price tag is affordable, particularly since the aesthetics more than makes up for prosaic movement.

The BR 03-92 Diver Military does cost about 10% more than the standard BR 03-92 in black ceramic, which is identical save for the dial. However, the BR 03-92 Diver Military is a home run and the premium makes sense, especially since it’s a limited run.


Key facts and price

Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver Military
Ref. BR0392-D-KA-CE/SRB

Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 9.8 mm
Material: Ceramic
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 300 m

Movement: BR-CAL.302
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 38 hours

Strap: Rubber, with additional khaki strap included

Limited edition: 999 pieces
Availability: Now at Bell & Ross’ online shop, boutiques, and authorised retailers
Price: 
US$4,500; or 6,600 Singapore dollars

For more, visit bellross.com.


 

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