Cartier Introduces the Privé Tank Normale

A compelling take on the original.

Cartier has long mined its extensive archives for inspiration, particularly for the Privé collection of historically-inspired watches. Having revived the Tank Asymetrique and Cloche, the jeweller now turns to the first-ever Tank with the Privé Tank Normale.

Like past Privé models, the new Normale faithfully adheres to the historical original, but unlike other Privé models, it is offered with the option of a matching, precious-metal bracelet.

Initial thoughts 

Like last year’s Privé Tank Chinoise, the Tank Normale is less familiar than say, the Tank Cintree, having been discontinued for some time. Although the Tank Normale was the original Tank design of 1917, it has been out of the catalogue for long enough to have some novelty.

The Tank Normale stays true to the original in almost all respects. The case, for instance, is marginally larger than vintage examples but compact enough it feels like a vintage watch. Even the bevelled sapphire crystal mimics the glass on the originals.

But the watch incorporates modest tweaks that set it apart as a modern watch, like the expanded railway minute track. These design updates reveal a good attention to detail in updating the watch without changing too much.

Especially noteworthy is the bracelet, an option rarely offered by Cartier for its high-end men’s watches. It’s executed well in both design and build, while also being acceptably priced as such things go (although pricey in absolute terms).

The OG Tank

The Tank Normale was the original Tank, having been designed by Louis Cartier in 1917. As the legend goes, he was inspired by the outline of the Renault FT light tank used by the French army in the First World War. Armoured vehicles like the Renault FT were then newfangled inventions in an industrial war, making them something of a technological landmark, perhaps explaining why Cartier found them notable. 

The Tank has been iterated countless times over the following century, but the Tank Normale remains truest to the original design. The new remake retains the lines and proportions of the original, with the case having the same brushed top surfaces and polished chamfers along the brancards.

Most of the design tweaks being found on the dial. Finished with a prominent vertical brushing, the dial features a prominent minute track and sword-shaped hands. One of its most interesting details is the “secret” signature at seven o’clock. Instead of the usual “Cartier”, the signature incorporates “1917” into the numeral “VII”, a nod to the year of its creation.

Both versions of the Tank Normale are available with a matching bracelet that’s seven-links wide, giving it a period-correct aesthetic. The bracelet also adds heft to a relatively small watch, making it an compelling option despite the price.

The Tank Normale is powered by the cal. 070, a compact hand-wind movement produced by a specialist movement maker. As expected for such a small movement, the power reserve is a short hours.

Key facts and price

Cartier Privé Tank Normale 
Ref. CRWGTA0108 (yellow gold)
Ref. CRWGTA0110 (yellow gold with bracelet)
Ref. CRWGTA0109 (platinum)
Ref. CRWGTA0111 (platinum with bracelet)

Diameter: 32.6 mm by 25.7 mm
Height: 6.85 mm
Material: Yellow gold or platinum
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: Not applicable

Movement: Cal. 070
Features: Hours and minutes
Frequency: 25,200 beats per hour (3.5 Hz)
Winding: Manual
Power reserve: 38 hours

Strap: Alligator leather strap with pin buckle or matching bracelet

Limited edition: 600 pieces, with 200 in each metal on strap, and another 100 in each metal with a matching bracelet
Now at Cartier boutiques and retailers

Yellow gold: US$31,000; or 44,300 Singapore dollars
Yellow gold with bracelet: US$46,600; or 66,500 Singapore dollars

Platinum: US$34,900; or 49,800 Singapore dollars
Platinum with bracelet: US$53,500; or 76,500 Singapore dollars

For more, visit


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Tudor Introduces the Black Bay 54

Vintage-inspired dimensions and details.

In 2012, Tudor broke the ground by introducing the Black Bay, a steel dive watch whose attractive design and price point have always offered a value proposition for enthusiasts. Through the years, the format has been updated from its larger 41 mm case down to 39 mm, as seen in the Black Bay 58.

Today, the brand has dropped the Black Bay 54 with a new, smaller 37 mm case. While its design is nearly identical to its larger sibling, the reduced size of the new Black Bay makes it more wearable.

Initial thoughts 

The 37 mm size of the new Black Bay 54 really sets it apart – perfect for those who prefer a classic look and slimmer watches. Its sophisticated simplicity makes it appropriate for both genders without sacrificing the utilitarian styling that has made the lineup popular through the years.

As is typical for Tudor, the value proposition is outstanding. At CHF3,450 in steel on a rubber strap (and slightly more with its matching bracelet), it is priced competitively against comparable sports watches. The combination of vintage-inspired design, excellent build quality, and affordable price point makes the new Black Bay 54 a winner.

Vintage-inspired but in a more compact case

While the original Black Bay was 41 mm, the 54 is considerably smaller but wears well on the wrist. It takes inspiration from an earlier diver from Tudor’s history, the Oyster Prince Submariner ref. 7922 that was issued primarily to the French and American navies but was later used by civilian tech divers.

A few tweaks have been made to the overall composition of the Black Bay 54 in terms of its case size and its design. Measuring 37 mm in diameter and 11.24 mm thick, it is much slimmer than the present offerings in the lineup.

Noticeable differences include its unidirectional bezel, which now sports a more minimalist design like the ref. 7922, displaying only five-minute intervals instead of the typical markers for each minute.

Tudor’s Black Bay 54 offers the classic option of a rivet-style steel bracelet or a rubber strap. Both options have the brand’s proprietary “T-Fit” that allows for some micro-adjustments. It is incredible that Tudor has incorporated this on more of their bracelets and that it can now be found on the rubber strap.

Inside is the MT5400, a compact COSC-certified in-house movement first used in the Black Bay Fifty-Eight. Despite being smaller than Tudor’s other calibres, the MT5400 still provides a 70-hour power reserve, silicon hairspring that resists magnetism, and a free-sprung balance wheel – important features for accuracy.

Key facts and price

Tudor Black Bay 54
Ref. 79000N

Diameter: 37 mm
Height: 11.24 mm
Material: Steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 200 mm

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

Strap: Steel bracelet or rubber strap

Limited edition: Regular production
Now at Tudor boutiques and retailers
Price: Steel and rubber strap – CHF3,450; Steel and bracelet – CHF3,650

For more information, visit


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Patek Philippe Introduces the Calatrava 24-Hour Display Travel Time Ref. 5224R

Big, bold, and elegantly quirky.

Adding to its diverse line-up of travel watches, Patek Philippe has just taken the wraps off the Calatrava 24-Hour Display Travel Time Ref. 5224R.

A bold design, the ref. 5224R is Patek Philippe’s most novel travel watch to date. It is notable for having a 24-hour display inspired by the Chronometro Gondolo pocket watches made for Brazilian retailer Gondolo & Labouriau in the early twentieth century.

Initial thoughts

The ref. 5224R is instantly striking thanks to the high contrast between the dial colour and rose gold case, busy dial design, and large, thin case.

Though it is in essence a three-hander with an extra second time zone hand, it is far more interesting, even intimidating due to the 44 applied indices that give the dial something of an instrument-like appearance.

The 24-hour display elevates the quirkiness of the design, which arguably strengthens the overall aesthetic. Admittedly, this comes at a cost of legibility – it is not the most intuitive watch to read. It takes a while to get used to, so reliability will be an issue if one is rotating between different watches in his or her collection.

More surprising is the case size, which at 42 mm is massive for Patek Philippe. It is also unusual given the traditional case design, although the large case emphasises the slimness of the case.

The large size is likely intentional to provide space for the applied numerals, and is perhaps rooted in the large size of the Gondolo pocket watches. Still, one wonders if a slightly smaller case would provide more universal appeal.

At CHF48,850, the ref. 5224R is expensive for a mechanically simple complication. It is justified in part by the high-end base movement, the same one that powers Patek Philippe’s flagship perpetual calendar ref. 5236P.

Wide but slim

At first glance, one is immediately drawn to the prominent gold applied numerals of the chapter ring – while the “12” hour digits are conventional, the rest of the hour numerals run clockwise up to “24” at 6 o’clock. Framing the hour numerals are an additional 12 applied baton indices between the hours, and round cabochons above every numeral resting on the minutes track.

Of course, being a 24-hour display means that the gear train for the hour hand is modified to run twice as slow, making a complete revolution once a day. Additionally, the ref. 5224R uses this to its advantage as a dual time zone display, by having a second skeletonized hour hand which can be adjusted both ways via the crown in one hour steps.

The applied indices and numerals, local hour and minute hands are lumed

While the numerals are chunky and eye-catching, the rest of the dial is surprisingly nuanced. The centre of the dial has a fine concentric graining, or azurage, emphasizing the circular motif of the applied numerals, while the seconds sub dial at 6 o’clock has even finer azurage that is only visible upon close inspection.

Fine azurage of the seconds hand sub dial

The ref. 5224R is large even by modern standards – 42 mm diameter with a relatively slim 9.85 mm thickness – using the traditional stepped case design as first seen in the ref. 5212A. Notably, the case middle is rounded with a smooth transition into the stepped lugs, evoking the traditional case design of the vintage ref. 2512/1.

 Calendar-less base

Powering the ref. 5224R is the cal. 31-260 PS FUH 24H, which is a variant of the micro-rotor movement first seen in the ref. 5236P perpetual calendar. A relatively large movement at 31.74 mm in diameter, it proportionally fills the large case size as seen through the clear case back.

Most notable for its finger bridges and micro rotor, the cal. 31-260 is widely spaced out but relatively thin, with sufficient torque to power calendar complications. Thus, it is surprising that the base variant found in the ref. 5224R is specified to have a surprisingly short power reserve of only 48 hours – likely a conservative value – considering the absence of calendar complications to be driven.

Three patents were filed by Patek for this movement, which may trickle down to future calibers. The first patent (CH 716383 B1) relates to the keyless works engagement mechanism for the two hour hands. The second patent (EP 3650953 B1) concerns the design of a linear jumper spring design to allow a firmer snap between the hours adjustment. Meanwhile, the third patent (EP 3822711 A1) relates to the second – a patent ensuring that the two hour wheels are designed to have similar inertia, to avoid unintended misalignment of the hands that may occur when adjusting the 24-hour time.

Key facts and price

Patek Philippe Calatrava 24-Hour Display Travel Time 
Ref. 5224R-001

Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 9.85 mm
Material: Rose gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 31-260 PS FUH 24H
Functions: 24-hour display, minutes, seconds, second time zone
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 48 hours

Strap: Alligator with gold pin buckle

Availability: Now at Patek Philippe boutiques and retailers
Price: CHF48,850 or 76,400 Singapore dollars (excluding taxes)

For more, visit


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De Bethune Introduces the DB Eight

A return to basics.

While De Bethune is best known for its avant-garde designs and signature spring-loaded floating lugs, the brand’s early years were characterised by more traditional styling. Fresh off the press, the DB Eight calls to mind the brand’s early products, most notably the DB1 mono-pusher chronograph from 2002, but adds many of the technical refinements that De Bethune has become known for. 

Dressed in a polished titanium case and guilloché dial, the DB Eight fills a hole in the brand’s current line-up by offering collectors a simple, manually wound mono-pusher chronograph, albeit one that lacks the technical and decorative refinement collectors expect at this price point.

Thanks to its wide but slim case and narrow bezel, the DB Eight will likely wear larger than its 42.4 mm diameter would suggest

Initial thoughts

I’m probably in the minority when it comes to my preference for De Bethune’s more classically styled models like the original DB1. Given this preference, I naturally I gravitated towards the new DB Eight more than I have to some of the brand’s other recent offerings like the DB28XP. But while I like the design of the DB Eight, the substance does not meet my expectations for the brand.

Let’s start with the good news. De Bethune has addressed the cross-eyed look of the DB1 with a new movement that offers an instantaneous 60-minute counter for the elapsed time at six o’clock. This creates a balanced look that at first glance might even pass for a time-only dress watch. And while the hands could be mistaken for traditional heat-blued steel hands, they are in fact made of titanium – a De Bethune specialty.

The highly legible instantaneous 60-minute counter for elapsed minutes

The case of the DB Eight is crafted in polished titanium, and features the brand’s signature bullet-tipped, “ogival” lugs that distinguished De Bethune’s earlier, more traditional designs. With its wide and slim case, thin bezel, and bright airy dial, the DB Eight will likely wear larger than its 42.4 mm diameter would suggest.

Unfortunately, the movement is not ambitious enough for a chronograph at this price point. The architecture lacks the coherent design found in other De Bethune movements, and the oscillating pinion is basic (the Valjoux 7750 is perhaps the most famous user of this mechanism). And while the finishing appears clean and thorough, it has an overly industrial appearance that lacks the character of comparable watches.

As a result, the DB Eight’s value proposition at around US$90,000 is dubious. Collectors looking for a high-end manually wound chronograph would do well to evaluate other options, including the Patek Philippe ref. 5172 and A. Lange & Sohne 1815, which offer more substance in terms of movement design and finishing – and cost less as well.

21 years of De Bethune chronographs

The design of the new DB Eight chronograph references the DB1, which was not only the brand’s first chronograph, but also its first watch. In 2002, when De Bethune was founded and the DB1 was launched, it was highly unusual for a new brand to hit the ground running with a chronograph. 

Ordinarily, the development of a new chronograph would have been prohibitively expensive and time-consuming for a new brand. Luckily, De Bethune co-founder Denis Flageollet’s prior employer, Techniques Horlogères Appliqueés (THA), had developed a mono-pusher chronograph movement a few years earlier, famously used in the Cartier Tortue Collection Privé Cartier Paris (CPCP). Mr Flageollet was able to secure the rights to the THA movement for De Bethune.

While the DB Eight revisits the styling and manually wound, mono-pusher format of the DB1, the similarities end there. The cal. DB3000 is an entirely new, and unlike the DB1, it benefits from the brand’s proprietary escapement technology, which includes a patented terminal curve for the hairspring, a free-sprung titanium balance with gold weights, and a silicon escape wheel.

The finishing of the cal. DB3000 is more simplistic than that of prior De Bethune movements

The DB3000 also solves one of the main aesthetic problems of the DB1, which was the overly close spacing of the chronograph registers; the result of the movement being a lot smaller than the case. The new movement does away with the running seconds altogether, and moves the chronograph minutes counter, which is now instantaneous, to the 6 o’clock position. The elapsed minutes counter is especially legible thanks to both its size and its 60-minute format, which I find more intuitive than the more-common 30-minute counter.

That said, the DB3000 movement feels less ambitious than the brand’s other movements, especially the DB2030 Maxichrono introduced in 2014. While the Maxichrono featured De Bethune’s patented Absolute Clutch, DB3000 features a more ordinary oscillating pinion. Unfortunately, this means the new movement misses out on both the technical advantages of a vertical clutch and the more compelling visual drama of a lateral clutch.

In terms of design, the DB3000 lacks the spectacular architecture of the Maxichrono, which featured elegant, circular bridges in mirror-polished stainless steel. When it came out, the Maxichrono felt like a fresh vision for the future of the high-end chronograph, a format that tends to be overly reliant on midcentury designs like the Lemania 2310.

But the Maxichrono I examined suffered from reliability issues, which may explain why the brand left out so many of its key features during the development of the new DB3000. I’ve yet to handle the DB Eight in person, but I hope it retains the effortless pusher feel of the Maxichrono.

While I like the design and functionality of the DB Eight, I expect more from a watch at this price point. De Bethune has established an enviable reputation thanks to its unique approach to design and engineering, but the DB Eight feels out of place among the rest of the brand’s watches.

Key facts and price

De Bethune DB Eight

Diameter: 42.4 mm
Height: 9.2 mm
Material: Titanium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: DB3000
Functions: Hours, minutes, mono-pusher chronograph with 60-minute counter
Winding: Hand-wound
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 60 hours

Strap: Alligator with pin buckle

Availability: Now from De Bethune and its authorised retailers 
CHF85,000 before taxes (equivalent to about US$93,000)

For more, visit

Correction April 13, 2023: The power reserve is 60 hours and not 60 days as stated in an earlier version of the article.

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Rolex Introduces the Daytona Ref. 126500

Evolution, not revolution.

For the 60th anniversary of the Cosmograph Daytona, Rolex has given the collection a subtle refresh with both technical and aesthetic improvements. The upgrades are fairly significant considering the outgoing 116500 was only seven years old, having debuted at Baselworld in 2016, and is still one of the most sought-after watches on the market.

At launch, there are five key references and 11 total variations. Topping the range is a new platinum model that offers a transparent case back – a first for a Daytona.

The platinum model benefits from a transparent caseback and a gold oscillating weight

Initial thoughts

The outgoing Daytona ref. 116500 was arguably the best chronograph in its category, and inarguably difficult to buy at retail price. Not content with this success, Rolex has made a great watch even better. The upgrades are subtle, but there are numerous changes inside and out.

Starting with the dial, the sub-dial rings and dial markers have grown thinner, as has the ceramic bezel which now features a protective outer ring crafted from the same material as the middle case.

The new Daytona has a slimmer case, under 12 mm for the first time. Note the gold ring around the edge of the ceramic bezel.

Reduced thickness seems to be something of a theme for Rolex this year, and the Daytona is no exception, shedding 0.5 mm for a new total thickness of 11.9 mm. The outgoing Daytona was already quite thin relative to its peers, and the sleeker dimensions of the new model only make it better. For context, the new Grand Seiko Tentagraph, which has a similar retail price, is almost 30% thicker than the new Daytona.

At its new retail price of US$15,100 in steel, the Daytona remains one of the best value propositions in the industry. Based on technical content alone it’s a strong value, even before factoring in the strength of the Rolex brand on the secondary market.

The 126500 in steel

Upgrading a legend

As is often the case with Rolex, the biggest news is found inside the case. After 23 years of service, the beloved cal. 4130 makes way for the new cal. 4131. As its name suggests, the cal. 4131 is an evolution of the cal. 4130, rather than an entirely new design. The biggest change is the addition of the brand’s proprietary Chronergy escapement, which debuted in 2015 and has been slowly diffusing through the Rolex catalog since that time.

The new cal. 4131. The gold oscillating weight is only present in the platinum version.

Introduced in 2000, the outgoing Rolex cal. 4130 has been subtly upgraded over the years, maintaining its status as the best movement in its category for almost a quarter century. One of the factors that contributed to its sterling reputation for reliability was its low parts count – generally speaking, fewer moving pieces means fewer things can go wrong. With the new cal. 4131, Rolex has reduced the parts count even further. With fewer components and the upgrade to the Chronergy escapement, the best is getting even better.

The cal. 4131 also features enhanced finishing compared to the outgoing movement, with machine-applied Côtes de Genève on the bridges. The movement used in the platinum ref. 126506 also features an 18k gold oscillating mass, something not found in the steel and gold references that feature solid case backs.

Key facts and price

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
Ref. 126500 (steel)
Ref. 126503 (steel and gold)
Ref. 126518 (yellow gold)
Ref. 126505 (rose gold)
Ref. 126506 (platinum)

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 11.9 mm
Material: Steel, steel and yellow gold, yellow gold, rose gold, or platinum
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Cal. 4131
Features: Hours, minutes, sub-seconds, chronograph
Frequency:  28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Oyster bracelet or Oysterflex bracelet

Limited edition: No
Available at Rolex authorised dealers
US$15,100 (steel)
US$30,600 (yellow gold on Oysterflex)
US$19,500 (steel and gold on bracelet)
US$42,500 (rose gold on bracelet)
CHF 74,200 (platinum)

Prices exclude local taxes

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