Tudor Debuts Black Bay Ceramic “Chameleon” for Miami GP

One-offs for VCARB Formula 1 drivers.

Days before the Miami Grand Prix, Tudor announced a pair of special watches specifically for the event: the Black Bay Ceramic “Chameleon” issued to Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda of the Visa Cash App RB Formula 1 Team (VCARB).

With a rainbow-hued dial that draws inspiration from the credit card of the team’s main sponsor, the two watches match the VCARB cars that have been dressed in a rainbow livery only for the Miami GP. They follow the quiet unveil in February of the Black Bay Ceramic with a blue dial made for the VCARB team at large. 

The Chameleon on the wrist of Daniel Ricciardo. Image – Visa Cash App RB

Initial thoughts

While the first VCARB edition was discreetly launched, this new pair was officially announced by Tudor. Unlike the earlier edition though, these are one-off creations intended for the drivers to wear during the Miami GP. While Tudor has produced numerous collaborative special editions over the years, this stands out for its unusually colourful dial that stands in contrast to the no-fuss aesthetic Tudor often employs.

With a dial reminiscent of tie-dye shirts of the 1960s, the Black Bay Ceramic “Chameleon” sports an unorthodox aesthetic for a “tool” watch. Although the look is decidedly atypical for the brand, it’s striking and surprisingly appealing, though it will certainly be polarising. The Black Bay “Chameleon”, however, is not available to the public, making the appeal a moot point.

The Miami GP-specific livery of the VCARB cars. Image – Visa Cash App RB

Vivid and rainbow-coloured

The dial and strap stitching are modelled on the rainbow-like finish found on the metallic Cash App Visa Chameleon card, a recently launched prepaid credit card, which in turn gave rise to the Miami GP livery of the VCARB cars.

Yuki Tsunoda. Image – Visa Cash App RB

Dial and stitching aside, the “Chameleon” is identical to the standard Black Bay Ceramic. It features a 41 mm black ceramic case with the METAS and COSC-certified MT5602-1U inside.

An in-house automatic movement like most of the brand’s offerings, it boasts a robust power reserve of 70 hours and operates at an industry-standard frequency of 4 Hz.

The VCARB team watch with a blue dial. Image – Visa Cash App RB

Key facts and price

Tudor Black Bay Ceramic “Chameleon” Visa Cash App RB Formula One

Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 14.5 mm
Material: Black ceramic
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 200 m

Movement: Cal. MT5602-1U
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 70 hours

Strap: Leather-covered rubber

Availability: A pair made for Visa Cash App RB Formula One team drivers
Price: Not available

For more, visit Tudorwatch.com.


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Up Close: Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Antimagnétique “Only Watch”

A gentleman-adventurer's sports watch.

The two most important examples of independent watchmaking in Only Watch 2024 are arguably the stealthy F.P. Journe Chronomètre Furtif Bleu and the Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Antimagnétique, each a significant creation of a leading watchmaker of his generation (and interesting enough, both are sports watches).

Inspired by mid-20th century explorer’s watches that were magnetism-resistant, the Chronomètre Antimagnétique (RRCA) is an elegant but robust watch with a stainless steel case and an entirely new calibre equipped with an indirectly-driven centre seconds with a hacking, zero-reset mechanism. In its Only Watch form, the RRCA is a unique watch but also a prototype for a new line of elegant sports watches.

NB: The watch pictured is a work in progress that is not entirely finished so the dial is a prototype and the movement is not perfectly clean. It will be delivered in a perfect state to the eventual owner.

Initial thoughts

Many of the RRCA’s details bring to mind mid-20th century “sports” watches. Not the sports watches we know of today, but rather the water-resistant Patek Philippe watches made in the 1940s and 1950s for gentlemen sportsmen and adventurers. This reflects with Rexhep Rexhepi’s respect for traditional Geneva watchmaking, which is also expressed in the RRCC but in a different manner.

The RRCA subtly marks a new direction for Rexhep Rexhepi’s aesthetics. It’s clearly a thoughtful evolution of the RRCC. While the RRCC is a dress watch, the RRCA has sharper, angular form that gives it a more functional appearance. The scientific-style dial and steel case add to the utilitarian aesthetic. In fact, the design of the RRCA gives it the feel of a vintage military watch.

While the vintage inspiration behind the watch is apparent, I would have liked even more elements drawn from its historical antecedents. Antimagnétique could be rendered in italics, for example. Admittedly that might seem too obvious, I like the visuals of such typography, particularly in contrast with the dial design.

Besides design, the RRCA is entirely new in terms of mechanics. Inside is a calibre that’s recognisably new but still retains the typical hallmarks of Rexhep Rexhepi, including the symmetrical layout and refined decoration.

As with the external components, the movement also has a subtly different style from existing calibres, reflecting Rexhep Rexhepi’s keen eye for details large and small. The architecture is more substantial and does away with superfluous elements, echoing the functional design of the dial and case.

But zoom in and numerous interesting details become apparent, reflecting the thoughtful construction despite the relatively simplicity of function. The hacking and zero-reset mechanism are especially beautiful, as is the bridge for the indirect seconds train.

The RRCA is a striking watch on its face and engaging on the back. More importantly, it reflects the evolution of the Rexhep Rexhepi style and proves he is not a one-trick pony specialised in the RRCC.

A “tool” watch, finely executed

The profile of the RRCA illustrates its essence: the case has more angles and sharp lines, giving it a more sporty feel. The lugs still take the arched form that refined Rexhep Rexhepi’s past watches, but they are now brushed and perfectly flat on the sides.

Size-wise, the RRCA retains the brand’s typical proportions at 38 mm by 9.9 mm. The dimensions are elegant and ideal for a no-nonsense watch. However, I would have increase the diameter a little to evoke vintage military watches that were oversized to aid legibility.

The finishing of the case is impressive and more complex than that found on the RRCC. The surfaces are treated with a mix of brushing and polishing, with the case band being particularly impressive. It’s brushed on its central facet but polished on the upper and lower facets. This is possible because the lugs are soldered to the case, allowing the case middle and lugs to be finished separately.

As with the case, the dial takes its cues from the RRCC. The central “sector” has the familiar alternating blocks that have come to define the RRCC. According to Mr Rexhepi, the alternating sector here is a reference to the opposing polarities of a magnetic field.

The double-stepped bezel enhances the instrument-like feel

The hour hand has the same spear tip found on the RRCC, but the minute and seconds hands both feature tips angled downwards to position them as close to the dial as possible. This is a detail drawn from vintage watches and intended to minimise parallax error when reading the time.

The oversized counterweight on the central seconds hand is a tasteful touch

The RRCA movement is the first Rexhepi Rexhepi calibre with a central seconds. But it is not merely an existing movement with a rearranged seconds. Instead it is a new calibre with twin trains: one is the timekeeping gear train that’s visible on the right of the movement, while the other is the train for the centre seconds that’s visible on the left.

The movement is driven by a single large mainspring located under the large barrel bridge

Even though the movement is largely symmetrical when viewed from a distance, it reveals plenty of fine detailing in both construction and decoration up close.

A key aesthetic element of the movement is the steel bridge that spans almost the entire diameter. Executed in black polished steel as expected for such a movement, this secures the wheel for the seconds hand.

Next to the pivot jewel is a polished steel lever; this is the zero reset mechanism. Concealed under the seconds wheel bridge is a heart cam that interacts with the lever to send the seconds hand back to zero when the crown is pulled to set the time.

The construction of the hacking and zero-reset mechanism reflects Rexhep Rexhepi’s skilful approach that blends both mechanics and design. Next to the zero-reset lever is a small curved spring that serves to tension the hacking lever that stops the balance wheel.

The bridge for the indirect seconds train brings to mind Greubel Forsey, but here the bridge is more slender and thus feels more refined, and it is also modest positioned to be partially hidden by the seconds wheel bridge

The zero-reset lever with its blade-like tip and the heart cam bare visible below the pivot jewel

Needless to say, the decoration of the movement is top class. This is not an entirely perfect piece as the watch had to be sent on a world tour for the Only Watch exhibition, but even in its prototype stage the calibre is luminous. The large, polished steel components in particular are a treat.

Key facts and price

Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Antimagnétique “Only Watch”

Diameter: 38 mm
Height: 9.9 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: RRCA
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds with hacking zero-reset
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Winding: Hand-wind
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Fabric with pin buckle

Limited edition: Piece unique
To be sold at Only Watch on May 10, 2024
Estimate: CHF100,000-150,000

For more, visit Christies.com.


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