Kudoke Introduces the Kudoke 3

Distinctive design and value

German independent Kudoke has carved out its own niche with a distinctive blend of English-inspired movements and Germanic attention-to-detail in its Handwerk line of watches. The latest addition to the line is the Kudoke 3, which largely sticks to the successful formula of prior models, but offers a twist in the form of a split-level dial and triple-scale hour display.

Once known primarily for ostentatiously skeletonised Unitas calibers, such as the watch worn by Dominic Monaghan’s character in Last Looks, Kudoke hit the reset button in 2019 with Handwerk line comprised of the Kudoke 1 and 2. The collection introduced a more restrained design aesthetic and importantly, brand’s first proprietary movement. The Kudoke 3 continues down this path, but goes further in terms of creative design.

The Handwerk collection (from left): Kudoke 1, Kudoke 2, and Kudoke 3

Initial thoughts

As a fan of modern German (and historical English) watchmaking, I’ve been impressed with the brand’s work since the launch of the Kudoke 1. Like Habring² and Laine, Kudoke offers a compelling alternative to mass-produced luxury watches.

The Kudoke 3 is a thoughtful and unconventional addition to the Dresden-based brand’s growing collection, offering a novel time display with three scales for the hours along with a three-armed hour hand. This triple-scale calls to mind the distinctive seconds register of the 1990s Daniel Roth tourbillon (recently reborn as the Tourbillon Souscription), but here it is used for the hours rather than the seconds.

As with most unusual time displays, legibility is not the best, but the design is clearly in service of distinctive aesthetics rather than functionality. As a watch that continues the recognisable Kudoke styling while being instantly different, the Kudoke 3 succeeds well.

While the styling is new, the Kudoke 3 continues to offer the value proposition that made its predecessors successful. At €9,350, its price tag is on par with mass-market brands that offer little-to-no hand craftsmanship. In contrast, the Kudoke 3 combines with originality and craftsmanship, making it superb value-for-money.

English-inspired, German-made

Like the earlier models in the Handwerk series, the Kudoke 3 sports a silvered and frosted dial with heat-blued hands – uncommon features at this price point.

Despite the split-level dial, the Kudoke 3 manages to stay relatively thin. At 10.3mm, it is actually a tad slimmer than the Kudoke 2.

An important part of the Kudoke value proposition is inside the case: the proprietary Kaliber 1 unveiled in 2018 that features a distinctive English-style, gilt-frosted full bridge, engraved balance cock, and heat-blued screws.

A fully engraved version of the Kaliber 1 that is available on request

Constructed with the help of Habring2, the movement is based on the Habring2 A11 (which in turn borrows from the gear train of the Valjoux 7750 for maximum reliability and serviceability). This is a pragmatic and customer-friendly approach to independent watchmaking that enables Kudoke to offer the kind of reliability that is usually found only in industrial-scale production – all the while ensuring affordability.

The hand-engraved balance cock, which is unusual at this price point, is decorated with an infinity symbol, a recurring emblem for the Handwerk collection. The symbol also forms the 60-minute marker on the dial and the counterweight of the minute hand.

The Kaliber 1 in its standard guise

A new workshop

As a brand, Kudoke is small but growing, having first caught collectors’ attention in 2019 when the Kudoke 2 won the Petite Aiguille – the category for watches under CHF10,000 – at the 2019 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG)

This success was followed by the Kudoke 2 “Zodiac”, a 21-piece limited edition created to mark the 10th anniversary of SJX Watches. Fully engraved by hand front-and-back, the Zodiac was nominated for the Artistic Crafts prize in 2022.

Naturally, these high-profile successes have led to increased demand. In response, Kudoke now employee five people and is preparing to move into a new facility later this year.

The Zodiac

Key facts and price

Kudoke 3
Ref. KUD3

Diameter: 39 mm
Height: 10.3mm
Material: Stainless steel
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: Kaliber 1
Functions: Hours and minutes
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Hand-wound
Power reserve: 46 hours

Strap: Louisiana alligator or Alcantara

Availability: Direct from Kudoke
Price: Starting from €9,350 in steel, excluding taxes

For more, visit Kudoke.eu.


Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Panerai Revives the Radiomir California

The PAM01349 in military green and "aged" steel.

Perhaps the most distinctive of all Radiomir designs, the “California” was nonetheless absent from Panerai’s catalogue for some time. Now it makes a comeback as the Radiomir California PAM01349.

Essentially a cooler (and more expensive) version of the new Radiomir “Otto Giorni”, the PAM01349 preserves the signature features of the design, including the dial and blue hands, but works in a few concessions to modern tastes, including a smoked green finish for the dial as a scaled-down, 45 mm case.

Initial thoughts

The California has long been my favourite Radiomir so I am glad it is making a comeback. While it looks slightly vintage, the PAM01349 is clearly not a vintage reissue, which is a good thing. The combination of a green dial and aged case is an appealing one.

However, the PAM01349 costs about 20% more than the Radiomir models with the same movement, a premium that isn’t grounded in any tangible features and thus hard to justify.

Romans and Arabics

The dial is classic “California” with Roman numerals on its top half and Arabic numbers on the lower half. Originally designed for legibility so each half of the dial is easily distinguishable from the other, the California dial was synonymous with the Radiomir.

The PAM01349 preserves the original design, but the texture and colour are contemporary. Like most other recent releases, the dial has a grained surface and smoked finish, both in keeping with current tastes. The dial treatment gives the watch a vintage feel, but avoids looking like a vintage remake since it is clearly a modern aesthetic.

Down from the 47 mm of the original and earlier California models, the case is 45 mm. Like other recent Radiomir launches, it is made of “Brunito” eSteel. The alloy is formed from recycled steel and then given a “burnished” (brunito in Italian) finish that involves polishing, black coating, and then tumble-polishing to partially wear off the coating, resulting in a worn appearance.

Inside is the P.5000, Panerai’s basic long-power-reserve movement. No frills and hand-wind, it has a long running time of eight days.

Key facts and price

Panerai Radiomir California
Ref. PAM01349

Diameter: 45 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: eSteel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 mm

Movement: P.5000
Features: Hours, minutes and small seconds
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Winding: Manual
Power reserve: Eight days

Strap: Calf leather with pin buckle

Limited edition: Regular production
At Panerai boutiques only
Price: €12,500; or 17,900 Singapore dollars

For more information, visit Panerai.com.


Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Panerai Introduces the Radiomir PAM01347 and PAM01348 “Otto Giorni”

Retro and recycled steel.

With a distinctive style inspired by historical military dive watches, Panerai has pivoted to a more contemporary aesthetic in recent years. This year the brand is once again looking back into its history with the Radiomir “Otto Giorni” PAM01347 and PAM01348. Both models are modelled on historical designs but executed in modern colours and finishes.

Initial thoughts 

Both watches are essentially facelifted versions of the Radiomir 8 Days PAM00992, sharing the same dial layout and in-house manual movement. While the PAM00992 was historically inspired (though not a remake of any one model), the newly launched pair is clearly more modern.

The two watches are clearly targeted at someone who likes the Panerai style, but wants something more current in terms of colours and textures. With that in mind, the PAM01347 and PAM01348 are sensible and successful new launches.

Both watches use recycled steel for the case, but more notable is the “aged” case finish that goes well with the textured, smoked dial.

Otto Giorni

Like most Radiomir models, the PAM01347 and PAM01348 are rooted in the dive watch developed by Panerai (and produced by Rolex) in 1935 for the Italian navy.

With its distinctive cushion case and wire lugs (recognisable as a Rolex pocket watch with additional, soldered lugs), the Radiomir is one of Panerai’s signature models alongside the Luminor.

While the historical Radiomir was a massive 47 mm in diameter, more recent Radiomir models are 45 mm,  as is the new pair, making them more wearable.

The case is made of eSteel, an alloy made from recycled scrap steel. Named “Brunito” (Italian for “burnished”), the aged finish on the case is the result of a multi-step process that starts with sandblasted and polishing, followed by a black PVD coating that is finally partially removed by tumble polishing. 

Inside the 45 mm case is the P.5000, an in-house manual movement with an eight-day power reserve, hence the nickname “Otto Giorni”, Italian for “eight days”.

The other key element that makes up the Panerai aesthetic is the dial.  Simple and minimalist in design, the dial is constructed in the brand’s trademark “sandwich” style, consisting of a lower plate painted with Super-Luminova markings and an upper plate with corresponding cut-outs. Both models have the same textured dial with a smoked finish that darkens towards the edges.

Key facts and price

Panerai Radiomir “Otto Giorni”
Ref. PAM01347 (brown)
Ref. PAM01348 (blue)

Diameter: 45 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: eSteel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 mm

Movement: P.5000
Features: Hours, minutes and small seconds
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Winding: Manual
Power reserve: Eight days

Strap: Calf leather with pin buckle

Limited edition: Regular production
At Panerai boutiques and retailers
Price: €9,900; or 14,200 Singapore dollars

For more information, visit Panerai.com.


Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Cartier Introduces the Santos-Dumont Skeleton Micro-Rotor

Openworked and impressively slim.

Fresh off the success of last year’s unexpected Santos-Dumont “Lacquered Case”, Cartier continues with the theme but now with an newly developed open-worked movement. Making its debut in three variants, the Santos-Dumont Skeleton Micro-Rotor underscore Cartier’s commitment to the Santos-Dumont, the model that’s truest to the 1904 watch designed for pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont.

Equipped with the cal. 9629 MC that has a plane-shaped rotor, the three references include a pair of regular production models in steel and rose gold, along with a 150-piece limited edition in a striking combination of yellow gold and blue lacquer.

Initial Thoughts

Cartier been using lacquer to decorate its jewellery, watches, and accessories almost since its founding in 1847. While a first for the brand in the modern-day – and also unique amongst watchmakers – last year’s lacquered Santos-Dumont was modelled on a similar 1920s watch, so it makes sense for the Parisian jeweller to continue with the theme.

In this context, the highlight of the Santos-Dumont Skeleton collection is undoubtedly the yellow gold model with navy-blue lacquer inlays. Not only is the lacquer applied to the case and bezel as was the case with last year’s model, but it is applied to the movement bridges.

The combination of lacquer, skeleton movement, and a whimsical plane-shaped rotor instantly sets it apart from other Cartier watches, yet it is still easily recognisable as a Cartier creation. This watch certainly scores well in terms of novelty and coherence.

The steel and rose gold models do not get the lacquer treatment, but do benefit from lacquer decoration on the movement bridges. As a result, they are comparatively plainer but probably also more wearable on a day-to-day basis since the blue-and-gold version is striking to the point of being ostentatious.

The Santos-Dumont Skeleton starts at about US$30,000 for the steel model and rises to about US$40,000 for the yellow-gold limited edition. Comparatively speaking, the limited edition is a more compelling proposition because it is so much more interesting relative to its regular production counterparts.

The monochromatic steel model

Still iconic after 119 years

The Santos-Dumont is named for the Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont, who asked his friend Louis Cartier to make him a watch that he could wear on his wrist while piloting his early, lighter-than-air airships around Paris. Cartier completed the watch for his famous friend in 1904, and the brand commercialised the design in 1911. 

In addition to being a milestone in wristwatch design as a form watch, the introduction of the Santos-Dumont marked a significant turning point in the transition from pocket watches to wristwatches in the early 20th century. It was the first purpose-built men’s wristwatch, and because it was commissioned by an early aviator, it arguably created the pilot’s watch genre, though pilot’s watches quickly evolved into more practical forms.

A Santos from the 1920s that’s in the Cartier Collection

Modelled on the watch designed for the aviator (as opposed to the chunkier and more modern Santos), the Santos-Dumont has been present in Cartier’s offerings more or less continuously since 1911. The jeweller has been working on reinvigorating the Santos-Dumont since 2019, when the brand debuted the first all-new Santos Dumont in over a decade. The design was refreshed by going back in history and bringing back the iconic bezel screws that were missing from the prior model. Cartier then took collectors by surprise last year with the launch of three references with lacquered cases.

The new watch pays tribute to the Demoiselle, the ultra-light aircraft Santos-Dumont developed in 1908 that became the crowning achievement of his career. This tribute takes tangible form: a miniature replica of the Demoiselle made of 18k gold is affixed to the oscillating weight at seven o’clock.  

A new skeleton calibre

Having been developed over the course of about two years, the cal. 9629 MC is entirely new. The movement features an inset micro-rotor that keep the height to just 4.4mm, enabling the watch to retain the elegant proportions that collectors have come to expect from the Santos-Dumont. 

Cartier has been producing contemporary-style skeletonised calibres for more than a decade, but the new cal. 9629 MC takes things up a notch with a more coherent layout. For example, while the earlier skeletonised calibres (like the cals. 9611 MC and 9618 MC) left the lower balance wheel jewel floating awkwardly between skeletonised bridges, the cal. 9629 MC positions the mainspring barrel and balance wheel pivots symmetrically at one and 11 o’clock respectively.

While this symmetry improves the look of the movement, it does come at a cost, namely a very small barrel. This aesthetic trade-off is likely explains the lower frequency of the cal. 9629 MC as well as its 44-hour power reserve, notably shorter compared to Cartier’s other skeletonised movements. 

Key facts and price

Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton Micro-Rotor
Ref. CRWHSA0032 (steel)
Ref. CRWHSA0030 (rose gold)
Ref. CRWHSA0031 (yellow gold)

Diameter: 31 mm
Height: 8 mm
Material: Steel; rose or yellow gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: 9629 MC
Features: Hours and minutes
Frequency: 25,200 beats per hour (3.5 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 44 hours

Strap: Alligator leather strap with pin buckle

Limited edition: Regular production, except for yellow gold model that’s limited to 150 pieces
At Cartier boutiques and retailers

Steel: €27,900 or 44,300 Singapore dollars 
Rose gold: €36,400 or 58,000 Singapore dollars
Yellow gold: €37,500 or 59,500 Singapore dollars

Prices include local taxes

For more, visit Cartier.com


Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Grand Seiko Introduces the Tentagraph SLGC001

The first mechanical chronograph from Grand Seiko.

Grand Seiko made a big splash at last year’s Watches & Wonders with the launch of the Kodo Constant-Force Tourbillon, the brand’s first complicated mechanical wristwatch. For 2023, the brand is back with another first-time complication that will likely be one of the most talked-about watches of the show, the Grand Seiko Tentagraph SLGC001.

The first purely mechanical Grand Seiko chronograph ever, the Tentagraph is a high-spec sports chronograph that fills a hole in the Grand Seiko portfolio. “Tentagraph” is a portmanteau of the four key features of the watch: TEN beats per second, Three-day power reserve, Automatic winding, and of course, the chronoGRAPH.

Initial thoughts

The Tentagraph is an important watch for Grand Seiko that enables the brand to stand toe to toe with Rolex, Omega, Zenith, Breitling, and other stalwarts in the popular category of mechanical sports chronograph. Not only is the category a hitherto untapped commercial opportunity for Grand Seiko, it is an opportunity for the brand to demonstrate its technical know-how and ambition.

In this context, I would have expected the brand to release an integrated chronograph movement, perhaps based on the 6S movement family. But Grand Seiko has chosen to build a modular chronograph calibre based on the 9SA5, the flagship Grand Seiko automatic movement introduced in 2020, signalling the brand’s commitment to the calibre and its proprietary Dual Impulse Escapement.

My colleague Richard Lee notes that the 9SA5 is an odd choice of base for a chronograph. This is because the movement’s fourth wheel is in the centre of the movement, being intended for central seconds. This design necessitates the use of an indirect train to reposition the running seconds to the three o’clock sub-dial. This extra train, combined with the friction inherent to all vertical clutch chronograph movements, reduces the power reserve by 10% compared with the time-only 9SA5.

And then there’s the price. While Grand Seiko has built its reputation by offering strong value-for-money, its prices have inched up in recent years. The Tentagraph continues this trend with a retail price of US$13,700. This is about US$1,100 less than the current retail price of the Rolex Daytona, and US$2,700 more than the Zenith Chronomaster Sport. While it is still something of a value proposition, it is modest one and arguably less compelling in terms of value than past Grand Seiko models.

Evolution 9 style

It may seem hard to believe, given Seiko’s illustrious history with chronographs dating back to 1969, that there has never been a mechanical Grand Seiko chronograph. While Grand Seiko has produced Spring Drive-powered chronographs for several years, and Seiko has produced mechanical chronographs for both its Seiko and Credor brands, the launch of the Tentagraph marks the first time that a mechanical chronograph will bear the Grand Seiko brand.

Unsurprisingly, the Tentagraph is designed according to Grand Seiko’s Evolution 9 design language, the default style for the brand’s flagship models.

The Tentagraph features a dark blue dial decorated with Grand Seiko’s signature “Mount Iwate” texture. Named after the mountain near Grand Seiko’s workshop, the grained, radial texture has been in use since 2006, and with good reason. It’s unique enough to be distinctly Grand Seiko, but subtle enough to work in a variety of watches. It’s a smart, if conservative, choice for a milestone watch. 

The case and bracelet are made from the brand’s proprietary “high-intensity” titanium, which Grand Seiko claims is both lighter and more scratch-resistant than stainless steel. As has become the norm for sport chronographs, the bezel is ceramic.

Lightweight titanium is a good choice for the Tentagraph because it is a large watch, measuring 43.2 mm in diameter and 15.3 mm thick. For context, that’s 0.4 mm thicker than Omega’s Speedmaster Super Racing, widely criticised for its thickness, and 1.7 mm thicker than the Zenith Chronomaster Sport.

Understanding the 9SC5

To understand the 9SC5, we need to reflect on the launch of the 9SA5 in 2020, which ushered in a new era for Grand Seiko on several fronts. Not only was the 9SA5 the first Grand Seiko movement to feature a free-sprung balance and overcoil hairspring – hallmarks of higher-end luxury watches – but it also debuted the brand’s own proprietary Dual Impulse Escapement which offers improved efficiency compared to the ubiquitous lever escapement. Grand Seiko describes the 9SA5 as the best mechanical movement it’s ever created, and I agree.

The 9SA5 also introduced a new, more attractive style of finishing for the brand’s mechanical movements. While earlier generation calibers like the 9S85 are decorated selectively on just the visible components, the 9SA5 offers more thorough Swiss-style decorative finishing, with non-visible surfaces decorated as well.

Building on this platform is the 9SC5 in the Tentagraph. On paper, the 9SC5 has all the bells and whistles one would expect from a modern chronograph movement at this price point, namely a column wheel, vertical clutch, and three-day power reserve. 

But in terms of construction, Grand Seiko has taken a different approach from that of establishment Swiss brands like Rolex, Omega, and Zenith. The 9SC5 features a modular construction, marrying the 9SA5 base caliber to a new, dial-side chronograph module.

While the layout of the chronograph registers and date window are identical to that of the Seiko NE88, the brand notes that the chronograph module in the 9SC5 is exclusive to Grand Seiko. 

This modular construction results in a thick movement, adding 2.8 mm in height and 1.4 mm in diameter to the base 9SA5 movement. At 8 mm thick, the 9SC5 is 0.4 mm thicker than Omega’s portly cal. 9900. For additional context, the Rolex cal. 4130 and Zenith El Primero 3600 in the Chronomaster Sport are 6.5 mm and 6.6 mm thick respectively. 

That said, the movement is an intriguing entrant into the sport chronograph segment given its novel escapement, 5 Hz frequency, and the precision that Grand Seiko is known for.

Speaking of precision, Grand Seiko has extended its already rigorous 17-day testing protocol for this new complication, adding three extra days to validate the performance while the chronograph is running and ensure compliance with the Grand Seiko standard of +5 to -3 seconds per day.

Key facts and price

Grand Seiko Evolution 9 Collection Tentagraph
Ref. SLGC001

Diameter: 43.2 mm
Height: 15.3 mm
Material: Titanium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: 9SC5
Functions: Hours, minutes, running seconds, chronograph, and date
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 36,000 beats per hour (5 Hz)
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Titanium bracelet

Limited edition: No
Availability: From June 2023 at Grand Seiko boutiques and select retail partners
Price: US$13,700

For more, visit grand-seiko.com


Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Vacheron Constantin Introduces the Traditionnelle Tourbillon Retrograde Date Openface

Visual depth and a charming Easter egg.

For Vacheron Constantin, 2023 is the year of the retrograde date. The brand kicks off the year with three references featuring this unusual complication, led by the Traditionnelle Tourbillon Retrograde Date Openface.

Vacheron Constantin has a rich history in retrograde displays that dates back almost 100 years, and the Traditionnelle Tourbillon takes things up a notch with a hand-engraved, open-worked dial.

Initial thoughts

The new Traditionnelle Tourbillon is a tidy little package that tweaks an existing movement to create a surprisingly different watch thanks to an open-worked dial that uses the retrograde mechanism as a design element.

The result is a watch that is recognisable as a Traditionelle Tourbillon – it has many of the hallmarks of the line – but one that instantly stands apart.

The new look also compliments the largish case well. Size-wise the new tourbillon is almost identical to the standard Traditionelle Tourbillon with a conventional dial. But while the standard model feels a little large at 41 mm due to its classical styling, the new model feels more natural in its size thanks to its contemporary aesthetics.

In terms of its value proposition, the estimated price of €200,000 is consistent with its stature, if a bit on the high side. It’s slightly more than the brand’s own Overseas Tourbillon Skeleton, a watch that features the same base movement dressed in more elaborate finishing. Of course, it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison since the Overseas lacks the two-piece guilloche dial and retrograde date mechanism of the Traditionelle. 

Guilloche and retrograde 

While the base movement of the new Traditionnelle Tourbillon is familiar, the execution of the retrograde mechanism and dial are unusual – the retrograde mechanism is essentially the dial.

Easily the most striking feature of the new Traditionnelle Tourbillon, the dial is built on two levels to offer visual depth and a dramatic play of light and shadow.

Notably, the lower half of the dial is decorated with traditional guilloche engraved with a straight-line engine. The upper dial is composed of a sapphire crystal disk and a segment of 18k gold that is similarly engraved.

The baseplate of the retrograde date mechanism, which forms a large part of the dial, is engraved by hand using a straight-line engine.

The use of an engraved base plate as a dial element is a bold and unusual choice that requires utmost care during assembly and servicing of the retrograde date components, but the effect is worth the effort. Another watch that uses an engraved base plate to form the dial is the F.P. Journe Chronomètre Bleu Byblos introduced in 2014.

The upper dial combines sapphire crystal with hand guilloché on 18K gold

Sandwiched between these elements, the retrograde date mechanism is on full display. This configuration calls to mind the earlier ref. 47247, a limited edition introduced in 2002 to mark the brand’s 247th anniversary. 

Interestingly, while the configuration of the retrograde date is similar to this prior reference, the mechanism has evidently been redesigned to offer a more tidy and attractive arrangement of racks and springs. 

The racks and springs of the retrograde date mechanism are elegant and uncluttered.

A familiar movement, with an Easter egg

The cal. 2162 R31 in the new tourbillon is based on the cal. 2160 introduced in 2018 as the brand’s first automatic tourbillon. The movement features Vacheron Constantin’s signature tourbillon cage in the shape of the Maltese cross.

The cage stands out for its distinctiveness, delicacy, and its satisfyingly sharp inner angles. The cage also features an Easter egg: one of its cage screws is galvanised to the same grey colour as the dial, enabling the tourbillon cage itself to double as a running seconds hand. 

The movement architecture is elegant, with graceful curves mirrored by adjacent bridges. The finishing is exemplary, especially the black polished tourbillon bridge on the dial side.

The grey-tone screw at the 12 o’clock position on the cage

The most unusual characteristic of the movement is the peripheral winding rotor. Though peripheral rotors tend to wind less efficiently than central rotors, they offer the advantages of reduced thickness and an unobstructed view of the movement. Given the fine finishing of the cal. 2162, this is a worthwhile compromise.

The cal. 2162 R31 – the magic lever winding system is visible at the upper right

Also worth noting is the automatic winding train visible through the case back between 12 and two o’clock. In most automatic movements, these components are hidden, but this layout enables the user to observe the transmission of energy from the peripheral winding ring to the intermediate wheels, and finally to the “Magic Lever” style, pawl-based bi-directional winding system. 

As an aside, the Magic Lever was invented by Seiko in 1959 and is still strongly associated with the Japanese brand. But over the past few years, the Swiss have overcome their collective “not invented here” bias, and you can now find this compact and efficient system in numerous brands from Ulysse Nardin and H. Moser & Cie to IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre.

Key facts and price

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon Retrograde Date Openface
Ref. 6010T/000R-B638

Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 11.07 mm
Material: 18K 5N pink gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 2162 R31
Features: Hours, minutes, small seconds on tourbillon cage, tourbillon and retrograde date
Frequency: 18,000 beats per hour (2.5 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Alligator with folding clasp

Limited edition: No
At Vacheron Constantin boutiques only
Price: €200,000 (subject to change)

For more, visit Vacheron-constantin.com.


Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

IWC Introduces the Ingenieur Automatic 40

A return to form, in steel or titanium.

After years in the doldrums – and several unsuccessful reboots – the Ingenieur has been given a much-needed refresh inside and out. The IWC Ingenieur 40 emulates many of the best characteristics of the original Ingenieur SL from 1976 that was famously designed by Gérald Genta, but adds a proprietary automatic movement into the mix.

Initial Thoughts

While there was nothing wrong with the outgoing Ingenieur ref. IW3570, it was uninspired and lacked the charisma found in the original 1976 designs. Unsurprisingly, it failed to resonate with buyers who increasingly favoured sports watches with integrated bracelets.

The ref. IW328903 features an aqua dial and a bracelet with polished center links

The resulting surge in demand for integrated-bracelet sports watches was a trend that IWC missed out on since the last Ingenieur with an integrated bracelet was the ref. IW3239 discontinued in 2017.

With everyone else launching an integrated-bracelet sports watch, it seemed inevitable that IWC would eventually refresh the Ingenieur and bring back the original design. In this context, the launch of the Ingenieur 40 is welcome, even if it does feel slightly anti-climactic. 

The Ingenieur ref. IW328902 in steel with a silver-plated dial

The new Ingenieur is essentially a blend of the 1976 original and the more recent integrated-bracelet models. The design appears thoughtful. For example, the bezel with five notches from the original returns, but with a twist (no pun intended). While the original had a screw-down bezel (hence the notches) and the misalignment to prove it, the bezel on the new model is fixed and secured with five functional bolts, preserving the aesthetic while ensuring symmetry. 

Attention was evidently paid ergonomics since the case has compact dimensions with a diameter-to-height that’s more or less in the goldilocks zone for a sports watch. More significant however is the short lug-to-lug length of just 45.7 mm. These dimensions should enable the watch to wear comfortably on most wrists. 

That said, the design and dimensions mean the watch looks a little smaller than it is. Though has the same diameter as the Royal Oak Jumbo, it feels smaller and is definitely thicker.

The ref. IW328904 in titanium with a grey dial

Of the four variants available at launch, the green “aqua” dial is certainly the most striking, but the model in titanium is the most appealing. Matte and monochromatic, it feels like what the Ingenieur should be, a low-key, functional watch.

Price-wise, the Ingenieur is competitive. At CHF12,000 in steel, it’s priced slightly less than the immediate competition in the integrated-bracelet category, namely the Chopard Alpine Eagle and Girard-Perregaux Laureato, which is fair since its rivals have more sophisticated movements.

That said, the Ingenieur costs substantially more than comparably magnetism-resistant watches like the Rolex Milgauss and Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra. It’s also nearly double the price of IWC’s own Mark XX pilot’s watch, which shares the same movement and specs but in combination with a less elaborately constructed case and bracelet. Its value proposition varies depending on the comparison.

Overall, the Ingenieur 40 is a welcome addition that strengthens IWC’s line-up of sports watches. It is a technically competent and distinctive alternative to the competition.

Form over function – the Ingenieur bracelet tapers elegantly, but the butterfly clasp lacks the micro-adjustment feature found on IWC’s latest Pilot’s Watches

Soft iron and hard titanium

The original Ingenieur’s raison d’être was resistance to magnetism, something of a fad in mid-20th century watchmaking. Like other magnetism-resistant watches of the period, the original was fitted with a soft iron inner case that acts as a Faraday cage. The new model has not forgotten this important legacy, and is similarly equipped. In fact, the dial itself is made from soft iron, creating a shield between the movement and magnetic fields that might otherwise have a deleterious effect on timekeeping.

The Ingenieur SL ref. 1832, designed by Gérald Genta and introduced in 1976. Image – IWC

But as historically correct as this may be, the soft-iron cage is anachronistic. Other brands, notably Omega and Tudor, have achieved far more in terms of magnetism resistance as a result of substantial technical innovation, mostly through the use of nonmagnetic alloys in the movement itself. Such alloys obviate the need for a soft iron inner case, enabling these brands to offer magnetism-resistant watches with transparent case backs. 

The Ingenieur 40 will be available in four references – three in stainless steel and one in titanium – all sharing the same case measuring 40 mm wide and 10.8 mm thick that contains a soft-iron inner cage.

All references also have the same dial, albeit in different colours. It’s is stamped with an enlarged and modernised version of the basketweave pattern used for the Ingenieur SL. The larger pattern looks good, calling to mind the grande tapisserie motif of Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore.

Under the solid back (and the soft-iron inner back) is the cal. 32111. It offers a power reserve of 120 hours, a meaningful upgrade over the 42 hours of the cal. 35111 (essentially a Sellita SW300-1) in the outgoing Ingenieur. While the extended power reserve comes at the detriment of balance power, it likely results in a better overall ownership experience for collectors who rotate watches. 

The cal. 32111 is proprietary but not exactly in-house, rather it is a variant of a movement created by ValFleurier, the movement factory owned by Richemont, the parent of IWC as well as brands like Cartier and Panerai. It’s a workhorse calibre for entry-level models, explaining in part the relatively accessible price of the new Ingenieur.

The solid case back conceals the soft iron inner case and cal. 32111 within

Key facts and price

IWC Ingenieur 40
Ref. IW328901 (Stainless steel and black dial)
Ref. IW328902 (Stainless steel and silver-plated dial)
Ref. IW328903 (Stainless steel and aqua dial)
Ref. IW328904 (Grade 5 titanium and grey dial)

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 10.8 mm
Material: Stainless steel or grade 5 titanium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Cal. 32111
Features: Hours, minutes, central hacking seconds, and date
Frequency:  28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 120 hours

Strap: Matching bracelet

Limited edition: No
Available at IWC boutiques and IWC.com
Price: Steel – CHF12,000 or 17,300 Singapore dollars; Titanium – CHF15,000 or 21,700 Singapore dollars

Prices include local taxes

For more, visit IWC.com.


Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

A. Lange & Söhne Introduces the Odysseus Chronograph

A chronograph with a twist.

Unveiled in 2019, the Odysseus was A. Lange & Söhne’s first foray into sports watches. A commercial success since launch, the Odysseus has since become one of the brand’s most desirable watches. Though it has been iterated in different metals (including titanium), it has remained the same model, until now.

Long anticipated and alluded to by chief executive Wilhelm Schmid, the Odysseus Chronograph has finally arrived. While powered by a brand-new automatic movement that incorporates a novel and fanciful reset feature, the watch retains the same Odysseus styling.

Initial thoughts

The Odysseus Chronograph is not unexpected. From the start the Odysseus case was designed to feature integrated pushers resembling crown guards, making it ideal for a chronograph. And the Odysseus Chronograph looks exactly as expected.

Though the design is not surprising, the Odysseus Chronograph is cleverly designed. It manages to retain the aesthetics of its predecessor despite being substantially more complicated. The key visual difference is the addition of just two central chronograph hands. The consistent design was accomplished by smartly endowing the large integrated pushers with dual functionality of activating the chronograph or calendar adjustment.

Predictably, the new movement inside is automatic – atypical for Lange but sticking to industry convention for a sports watch.

However, being automatic means that most of the chronograph mechanism is hidden under the bridges and rotor, resulting in an aesthetic that lacks the intricacy of the typical Lange chronograph movement. The density and grace of steel levers visible in Lange’s manual-wind chronographs are missing here.

In fact, it construction of the movement means its appearance is somewhat generic. Although the finishing and decorative elements are clearly Lange, the overall structure of the movement resembles high-end chronograph movements from the likes of Audemars Piguet and Rolex.

Though the appearance on the back is conventional, the movement incorporates an oddity, a quirky reset feature for the chronograph. While the chronograph minutes reset to zero as usual, the chronograph seconds will rapidly circle around the dial, making a number of revolutions that match the number of elapsed minutes before resetting to 12 o’clock. It is odd to see such a gimmick in a Lange movement, as the brand usually focuses on elaborate engineering and practical utility, which is not the case with this reset function.

The Odysseus Chronograph costs about US$145,000 – a lot despite Lange’s vaunted quality. In any case, it is limited to 100 pieces in steel so availability will be challenging, to put it mildly.

Familiar livery

Like the inaugural model, the Odysseus Chronograph has a hefty steel case, but now enlarged to accommodate the new movement. At 42.5 mm wide and 14.2 mm thick, the Odysseus Chronograph has presence. It is chunky but the dimensions are in keeping with what is expected in a modern sports watch.

Naturally the Odysseus Chronograph is fitted to a steel bracelet like that on the original. It flares outwards at the case to match the taper of the lugs, creating the appearance of an integrated bracelet. And integrated into the clasp is a ratcheting extension system that is released by the round button in the centre of the clasp.

While the case is bigger, the black dial is almost identical to that of the original Odysseus in both size and appearance. The dial fits in the larger case due to a wider flange around the dial, which has the minutes on its inner edge and the addition of an extended lip featuring the hashmarks for the elapsed seconds.

The only other clue that this is a chronograph – besides the label at 12 o’clock – is the pair of central hands. The Odysseus Chronograph has a conventional central chronograph seconds, along with an uncommon central 60-minute chronograph hand, which does away with the need for registers to display elapsed time.

The rest of the dial is familiar and identical to the original Odysseus. The sub-dial at six o’clock displays running seconds, while the oversized date and day displays are at three and nine o’clock respectively.

The raised chapter ring for the hours features concentric patterning and adds depth to an otherwise expansive dial. The large and legible hour markers have luminous fill, as do the hands, including the tip of the chronograph seconds.

A repurposed feature of the original Odysseus are the two large buttons on each side of the crown. Resembling crown guards, they were date correctors on the first Odysseus and now act as pushers for the chronograph.

But there’s a twist as the pushers have dual functionality – pulling the crown out to its first stop transforms the pushers into correctors for the date and day displays, as they are on the original Odysseus. Returning the crown to its winding position reverts the pushers to chronograph activation.

The calendar functions of the Odysseus Chronograph are identical to the preceding model

Automatic chronograph

Powering the Odysseus Chronograph is the L156.1 Datomatic – the first automatic chronograph movement developed by Lange.

It is also the first Lange chronograph movement sporting a vertical clutch, which is prominently visible next to the central rotor and balance wheel. While a portion of the chronograph levers are visible thanks to cut-outs on the bridge, most of the mechanism is covered by the bridge and rotor.

A notable quirk of the movement is the “dynamic reset-to-zero function”. When the chronograph is reset, the chronograph seconds will rapidly complete a number of revolutions matching the elapsed minutes before stopping at 12 o’clock. So if the elapsed minutes was at “15”, the seconds hand will make 15 rapid revolutions around the dial as the minute hand is returning to 12 o’clock.

While novel and not found in another watch, this feature appears to be relatively straightforward. The chronograph seconds hand is most likely directly geared to the chronograph minutes wheel, on which the heart cam for the reset feature is mounted. This allows the chronograph seconds hand to “count” the elapsed minutes and rotate as the minutes are being reset.

Like the L155.1 in the base-model Odysseus, the new L156.1 is equipped with full balance bridge and a 4 Hz balance wheel. This relatively higher frequency ensures stable timekeeping even with active daily use and also allows the chronograph to measure elapsed times with a resolution of up to an eighth of a second.

The new movement has the same oscillating weight found in the original Odysseus, an open-worked rotor made of Arcap with a platinum mass along its rim

Key facts and price

A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus Chronograph
Ref. 463.178

Diameter: 42.5 mm
Height: 14.2 mm
Material: Stainless Steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 120 m

Movement: L156.1 Datomatic
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and chronograph
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 50 hours

Strap: Steel bracelet

Limited edition: 100 pieces
Availability: At A. Lange & Söhne boutiques only
Price: Approximately US$145,000

For more, visit alange-soehne.com.


Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Welcome to the new Watches By SJX.

Subscribe to get the latest articles and reviews delivered to your inbox.