All posts in “Watches”

This Unique Watch Was Inspired by the “Mission Impossible” Series

If you’re a watch guy and you paid close attention in Mission Impossible: Fallout, you may have noticed Tom Cruise utilizing a mechanical stopwatch with a white dial in a critical scene. The stopwatch is made by London-based Cabot Watch Company, based on a model from the 1970s that saw service in television in production — evidently it’s actually still in use by the BBC and ITV to time 60-second and 60-minute segments — and was special ordered by the M.I. production team and produced to their requirements for the film.

Now, CWC has released a new version of their General Service watch, dubbed the “Sonar,” inspired by that very watch. Housed in a 38mm satin-finished steel case with a domed sapphire crystal, Swiss-made ETA 955.102 quartz movement and a screw-down case back, the watch is largely a typical dateless G.S, but with significant aesthetic differences to the dial. Sporting a white background, inner 60-minute/seconds track, outer 1/5th-seconds track, yellow, Super-LumiNova-filled hour and minute hands and a red seconds hand, the watch is indeed reminiscent of the pocket watch version, and a red screw-down crown — in imitation of the stopwatch’s push-button — helps drive the point home.

As CWC is an MoD contractor, the watch is up to military specs, featuring 100m of water resistance, fixed spring bars and shipping on an 18mm admiralty grey NATO strap as well as an additional vintage canvas strap in the color of your choice. It’s available for ~$460 now at CWC’s website — the perfect holiday gift for a watch lover or movie buff, or an excellent addition to a collection of military-inspired watches.

Finding and Navigating Your First Watch Collector Meetup

How does one break into the confusing, esoteric world of watch nerdery? Our new column, “How to Be a Watch Nerd,” aims to answer all your new watch guy questions, and help you navigate the always exciting — but sometimes intimidating, complicated, and pricey — world of watches.

It’s easy to be a lonely watch guy these days — in fact, lately I’ve realized I might be one myself. Mostly, I enjoy watches alone. I stare solo at my affordable collection of Seikos and indie brands’ wares and my beloved vintage Zodiac with its baby blue bakelite bezel. I scan the beat-up Timexes at the local farmers’ market while my gal peruses elsewhere. When I need excitement, I dive into the bloody battlefield of the Hodinkee comments section; when I need expertise or a strong opinion, I search the watch forums. When I need sitting-by-the-fire pleasure, I cozy up next to some of Jack Forster’s writing.

The web helps us find the right watches to buy, feeds our personal hobby an unending conveyor belt of expertise, reviews, gossip, and history. It’s a nice way to be a watch fan. But it also encourages us do these things apart from other human contact — so much so that if you, like me, aren’t careful, you might find yourself sitting alone in a dark room, pawing your collection like Gollum.

The solution to this solitude is the watch meetup, a simple phenomenon — like a potluck or a classic car meetup, with watches serving as the main course — that’s been slowing spreading across the country over the past few years. RedBar is the biggest one, but there are offshoots and standalones galore, in big cities and out in the suburbs too. This is not news; you’ve been hearing about these things for years. Maybe you saw one posted on Instagram and decided to drop by with your watches wrapped up in a plastic case or a smart-looking leather roll.

I, like many of my friends, had not yet participated. When I started working on this column about being a watch-nerd-in-training, I realized that finding out why I partook of my watch hobby in this lonely way might go a long way toward conquering some of the hurdles holding me back from enjoying my hobby. Why was I shy of watches? Why was I intimidated by “watch people”?

I found a few answers quickly. Laziness, sure. Also, fear — fear that I didn’t know enough about watches, or that the watches I owned weren’t impressive enough. Mostly, fear that the guys would be like they were in this recent GQ story about “America’s Wildest, Most Exclusive Watch Gathering,” who supposedly chart the future of the watch market and plunk $50 to $100 million down on the table in the form of wildly priced vintage Rolexes. (One guy narrowed his collection down to bring ten — and claimed he left 990 at home.) That’s not my kind of watch love.

But that was just one story. I decided I had to go to one to find out where my hobby fit in — where I fit in.

OC Chrono

The one I found was called OC Chrono. They advertised their next meetup in their Instagram bio, alongside their motto: “Promoting an analog lifestyle in a digital universe.”

OC Chrono ended up being two hours away, on the campus of UC Davis (go Anteaters!). The parking lot at the business park seemed empty. My palms were sweaty. Why was I so nervous? Visions of cringey luxury watch release events flashed through my mind. Inside, I surveyed the scene. Two or three dozen adults, all men, dressed in a variety of business clothes, jeans, and t-shirts. Smiling and talking and milling around a few tables with open Pelican cases and watches laid on leather watch rolls. A few heads turned, but no one paid me mind.

I saw a few bottles of open whiskey and headed straight for em. A bit of the social lubricant. The two guys who’d just poured themselves a glass were talking about their whiskey drinking preferences: a couple of rocks? Spherical ice cube makers. I nodded along for a few minutes. Another one came over and asked what the SITREP was on the whiskey. I was confused. “I’m in the military,” he said. “Sorry.” (SITREP = “situation report.”)

I retreated with my whiskey, went to the nearest table, and scribbled in my notebook:

Nerds.

This was part compliment, part warning. I too am a nerd. The question was, what kind of nerds were we talking about here? Pretentious ones? Sexist ones? Rich ones? Or could they be quirky, fun, goofy, passionate, self-aware — the good guy nerds?

I went back up to the whiskey crew. We started talking. Sitrep guy was wearing a Bremont E-3 AWACS, which was inspired by the same plane he flew in the air force. “We got a big enough crew of guys together that they gave us a great deal, so I just had to scrape the money together to buy it,” he said. He showed me how the diagonal bar on the dial was actually the radar sweeper on his plane.

The bourbon-on-the-rocks guy got his Tudor at a pawn shop in Vegas. He’d had some winnings at craps and his nephew convinced him to buy it. He came to these things with the nephew, who was standing right over there. “It was just luck of the draw,” he said. “I’d had some craps winnings, and the guy who pawned it needed to cover his losses.” That’s the way it goes.

It went on like this all night. There were watch nerds and non-watch-nerds. Men of all ages, creeds, and nationalities. Rich guys and poor guys. Rolexes, Pateks, and Audemar Piguets. Junghans and Orises. NOMOSes, DOXAS, TAGs, and Tudors. G-Shocks and Timexes and Unimatics. Seikos and Casios and Damaskos.

There were even one or two women!

Every single person had a watch he or she wanted to show you and a story about why and how they got it. The Mickey Mouse watch he always wanted as a kid. The affordable-ish German brand he fell in love with after he had to sell his other watches during tough times. The dial the kid acid washed on a Seiko to make its Pepsi bezel just the same shade as the famous Rolex. The watch with the one mark at 9 o’clock that he would always be able to pick out of a lineup.

One guy had a half-dozen watches but pointed to a 1966 Rolex Date that was his father’s only watch. He only wore it on Sundays, he said, which was the only time his father wore it. The rest of the watches in his collection don’t mean shit, he told me. When he dies, he hopes they’re all sold and gone, except for this ‘66 Rolex, because that’s going to be his daughter’s one day.

You listen to these stories, and you realize the watches themselves don’t have to be the hobby; the people who wear them can be the hobby, too.

I asked another guy what he liked most about coming to the meetups. “Hearing everyone tell their story. Everybody has one. And their watch could be a Timex, and after I hear them tell that story, I think, ‘That is the coolest damn watch in the world.’” After he said that, another guy came over, and threw his arm around this guy, and they smiled and laughed and caught up and talked about watches. Simple as that.

“I would be terrified walking into this for the first time,” said the founder Mike White, who started OC Chrono after meeting in a bar with three friends to talk watches. “But then you quickly realize that the people in this room are the best people in the world. We have friends outside this group, and spouses we love. But we just can’t talk to them about watches like we do here.”

The drive home was two hours, but it felt like 15 minutes. I had told people the story of my watch, the vintage Zodiac with the baby-blue bakelite bezel, and they had oohed and aahed and told me how awesome it was. I’ve been wearing the thing a few years now, and nobody had ever made me feel that way — like the collection I had started was awesome.

I’m sure there are watch meetups out there that aren’t like this — where the people are obnoxious or cliquey or just plain not nice. But that’s any hobby. Don’t do what I did — lock your hobby away in an ivory tower of your own making. Make watches a social pleasure, not just a solitary one. I guarantee it’ll open your watch-loving mind even more. You won’t be a lonely watch nerd anymore — just a happy one.

How to Find and Navigate Your First Watch Collector Meetup

1. Do the legwork

You’re already online, you nerd — use that to your advantage. Instagram is the most common place for meetup groups to advertise. Watch forums, too. Search your area, and don’t be intimidated — you won’t know what the meetup’s like until you go there in person.

2. Bring something, if you can

Do you wear one watch or roll deep with half a dozen of your precious timepieces? It depends on you. Bring the piece you’re excited most about, whether it’s a Rolex or a Timex. And don’t sweat it if you don’t have anything to wear. Haymond said a young man once showed up not wearing anything. “He told me, ‘I don’t have anything yet. That’s why I came here — to see what I like.’”

3. Work the room

You have the easiest conversation starter in the world. Don’t just ask what watch they’re wearing — ask how they got it, and why they wear it.

4. Prosper

It’s not only about watches. People meet friends and business partners at these events. Don’t force it, but do let the connections happen.

Chris Wright, a former Gear Patrol editor, is a freelance writer based in L.A. Write him with your watch questions, comments and concerns at cwrighteditor@gmail.com.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

How to Find and Navigate Your First Watch Collector Meetup

How does one break into the confusing, esoteric world of watch nerdery? Our new column, “How to Be a Watch Nerd,” aims to answer all your new watch guy questions, and help you navigate the always exciting — but sometimes intimidating, complicated, and pricey — world of watches.

It’s easy to be a lonely watch guy these days — in fact, lately I’ve realized I might be one myself. Mostly, I enjoy watches alone. I stare solo at my affordable collection of Seikos and indie brands’ wares and my beloved vintage Zodiac with its baby blue bakelite bezel. I scan the beat-up Timexes at the local farmers’ market while my gal peruses elsewhere. When I need excitement, I dive into the bloody battlefield of the Hodinkee comments section; when I need expertise or a strong opinion, I search the watch forums. When I need sitting-by-the-fire pleasure, I cozy up next to some of Jack Forster’s writing.

The web helps us find the right watches to buy, feeds our personal hobby an unending conveyor belt of expertise, reviews, gossip, and history. It’s a nice way to be a watch fan. But it also encourages us do these things apart from other human contact — so much so that if you, like me, aren’t careful, you might find yourself sitting alone in a dark room, pawing your collection like Gollum.

The solution to this solitude is the watch meetup, a simple phenomenon — like a potluck or a classic car meetup, with watches serving as the main course — that’s been slowing spreading across the country over the past few years. RedBar is the biggest one, but there are offshoots and standalones galore, in big cities and out in the suburbs too. This is not news; you’ve been hearing about these things for years. Maybe you saw one posted on Instagram and decided to drop by with your watches wrapped up in a plastic case or a smart-looking leather roll.

I, like many of my friends, had not yet participated. When I started working on this column about being a watch-nerd-in-training, I realized that finding out why I partook of my watch hobby in this lonely way might go a long way toward conquering some of the hurdles holding me back from enjoying my hobby. Why was I shy of watches? Why was I intimidated by “watch people”?

I found a few answers quickly. Laziness, sure. Also, fear — fear that I didn’t know enough about watches, or that the watches I owned weren’t impressive enough. Mostly, fear that the guys would be like they were in this recent GQ story about “America’s Wildest, Most Exclusive Watch Gathering,” who supposedly chart the future of the watch market and plunk $50 to $100 million down on the table in the form of wildly priced vintage Rolexes. (One guy narrowed his collection down to bring ten — and claimed he left 990 at home.) That’s not my kind of watch love.

But that was just one story. I decided I had to go to one to find out where my hobby fit in — where I fit in.

OC Chrono

The one I found was called OC Chrono. They advertised their next meetup in their Instagram bio, alongside their motto: “Promoting an analog lifestyle in a digital universe.”

OC Chrono ended up being two hours away, on the campus of UC Davis (go Anteaters!). The parking lot at the business park seemed empty. My palms were sweaty. Why was I so nervous? Visions of cringey luxury watch release events flashed through my mind. Inside, I surveyed the scene. Two or three dozen adults, all men, dressed in a variety of business clothes, jeans, and t-shirts. Smiling and talking and milling around a few tables with open Pelican cases and watches laid on leather watch rolls. A few heads turned, but no one paid me mind.

I saw a few bottles of open whiskey and headed straight for em. A bit of the social lubricant. The two guys who’d just poured themselves a glass were talking about their whiskey drinking preferences: a couple of rocks? Spherical ice cube makers. I nodded along for a few minutes. Another one came over and asked what the SITREP was on the whiskey. I was confused. “I’m in the military,” he said. “Sorry.” (SITREP = “situation report.”)

I retreated with my whiskey, went to the nearest table, and scribbled in my notebook:

Nerds.

This was part compliment, part warning. I too am a nerd. The question was, what kind of nerds were we talking about here? Pretentious ones? Sexist ones? Rich ones? Or could they be quirky, fun, goofy, passionate, self-aware — the good guy nerds?

I went back up to the whiskey crew. We started talking. Sitrep guy was wearing a Bremont E-3 AWACS, which was inspired by the same plane he flew in the air force. “We got a big enough crew of guys together that they gave us a great deal, so I just had to scrape the money together to buy it,” he said. He showed me how the diagonal bar on the dial was actually the radar sweeper on his plane.

The bourbon-on-the-rocks guy got his Tudor at a pawn shop in Vegas. He’d had some winnings at craps and his nephew convinced him to buy it. He came to these things with the nephew, who was standing right over there. “It was just luck of the draw,” he said. “I’d had some craps winnings, and the guy who pawned it needed to cover his losses.” That’s the way it goes.

It went on like this all night. There were watch nerds and non-watch-nerds. Men of all ages, creeds, and nationalities. Rich guys and poor guys. Rolexes, Pateks, and Audemar Piguets. Junghans and Orises. NOMOSes, DOXAS, TAGs, and Tudors. G-Shocks and Timexes and Unimatics. Seikos and Casios and Damaskos.

There were even one or two women!

Every single person had a watch he or she wanted to show you and a story about why and how they got it. The Mickey Mouse watch he always wanted as a kid. The affordable-ish German brand he fell in love with after he had to sell his other watches during tough times. The dial the kid acid washed on a Seiko to make its Pepsi bezel just the same shade as the famous Rolex. The watch with the one mark at 9 o’clock that he would always be able to pick out of a lineup.

One guy had a half-dozen watches but pointed to a 1966 Rolex Date that was his father’s only watch. He only wore it on Sundays, he said, which was the only time his father wore it. The rest of the watches in his collection don’t mean shit, he told me. When he dies, he hopes they’re all sold and gone, except for this ‘66 Rolex, because that’s going to be his daughter’s one day.

You listen to these stories, and you realize the watches themselves don’t have to be the hobby; the people who wear them can be the hobby, too.

I asked another guy what he liked most about coming to the meetups. “Hearing everyone tell their story. Everybody has one. And their watch could be a Timex, and after I hear them tell that story, I think, ‘That is the coolest damn watch in the world.’” After he said that, another guy came over, and threw his arm around this guy, and they smiled and laughed and caught up and talked about watches. Simple as that.

“I would be terrified walking into this for the first time,” said the founder Mike White, who started OC Chrono after meeting in a bar with three friends to talk watches. “But then you quickly realize that the people in this room are the best people in the world. We have friends outside this group, and spouses we love. But we just can’t talk to them about watches like we do here.”

The drive home was two hours, but it felt like 15 minutes. I had told people the story of my watch, the vintage Zodiac with the baby-blue bakelite bezel, and they had oohed and aahed and told me how awesome it was. I’ve been wearing the thing a few years now, and nobody had ever made me feel that way — like the collection I had started was awesome.

I’m sure there are watch meetups out there that aren’t like this — where the people are obnoxious or cliquey or just plain not nice. But that’s any hobby. Don’t do what I did — lock your hobby away in an ivory tower of your own making. Make watches a social pleasure, not just a solitary one. I guarantee it’ll open your watch-loving mind even more. You won’t be a lonely watch nerd anymore — just a happy one.

[Chris Wright is a former GP editor and current freelance writer based in LA. Write him with your watch questions, comments, and concerns at cwrighteditor@gmail.com.]
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

The Rise of Patina in the Watch Industry

There’s no denying that vintage watches are an endless source of fascination to watch collectors. Most of them predate the quartz watch era and make use of a mechanical movement (either hand-winding or self-winding) that requires some sort of interaction with the wearer. A spring stores energy and then disseminates that energy to the rest of the watch movement, which includes a series of levers, gears, jewels and other tiny parts. There’s a strange type of poetry to the whole thing that’s difficult to explain — “a little city” on the wrist is how many a watch movement has been described upon viewing.

Of course, many of these watches are also decades old and have some sort of damage, even if that damage is superficial. A discolored dial, a faded bezel. This is damage. There is no other word for it.

…or is there?

The Rise of Patina

20+ years ago, the vintage watch market, such as it was, didn’t value watches with patina, or, in other words, watches that showed their age, to nearly the same degree as it does today. James Lamdin, founder and CEO of NYC-based Analog/Shift, notes that “In the early days I was guided to ‘buy what I loved’ and not to overthink any of the financial/investment/originality angles.”

A vintage Rolex GMT Master retailed by Serpico Y Laino in Venezuala. Note the speckling on the dial. “Patina” or damage? Both?

It’s a beautiful thought, and one I always hold close, but as the market has evolved and real values are now accompanying quality vintage timepieces, it is important to collect with a broader understanding of the whys/hows/and whats, and not just buy something because you like it.

In other words, before vintage watches started carrying more substantial values, the whole point was to buy what you liked and put no thought into the rest of it. With this basic mindset in place, it is definitely understandable that there was less emphasis on ‘originality’ — a confusing term with vintage wristwatches in particular — and more emphasis on aesthetics and history.”

So what changed? As Eric Wind, watch expert and owner of vintage watch dealer Wind Vintage, continues, “There was a broad evolution in collecting, across many different categories, to prefer original, untouched, and unrestored pieces compared to those made to look ‘new.’ That is the case for coin collecting, where coins that had cleaning in the past are hardly sellable. Likewise, cars that are too heavily restored are also becoming harder to sell as people now are beginning to prefer unrestored cars with their original paint and seats. Likewise, paintings that have had significant restoration are also more difficult to sell today than in the past.”

Now, we’re all crying our eyes out about originality. About correctness. About honesty. Prior to several years ago, I had never heard the word “correct” employed with respect to watches. “What does that even mean,” I thought, the first time I heard the term. That somebody mistook a piece of the watch for something it’s not? Well, sort of. A watch part being “correct” means that it’s the right part for that particular watch reference — in other words, the watch would have been “born” (read: left the factory) with that crown, dial, bracelet or what-have-you, or, if the part is a replacement, it’s of the type that would have been born with that watch.

An extremely rare Longines A-7 military chronograph for aviators in pretty damn “honest” (though, also, pretty damn good) condition.

This idea of correctness and originality is more important now than ever. People don’t want replaced parts, even if that part improves the functionality of the watch. Several large Swiss companies, for example, are famous (notorious?) for updating parts to modern spec on watches that they receive back for service. Though I have yet to experience this myself, there are myriad stories floating around in the watch world about an unsuspecting individual taking his or her vintage watch in to have it serviced, only to have it returned to him or her with, say, a modern Super-LumiNova dial in place of the original tritium one, thereby destroying much of the value of the watch.

Why would a company do this? Well, Super-LumiNova, by way of example, is a “superior” material to tritium in that it’s not, you know, radioactive and stuff, and though it needs to be “charged” with light in order to glow, its glow “output” will remain constant for longer. In Brand X’s eyes, by bringing a watch up to modern spec with a new Super-LumiNova dial, it’s keeping the watch current, and this is the only way to deliver a watch back to a customer that is upheld by the brand’s warranty. Can’t argue with that. The problem is that watch people aren’t logical. If we really gave two shits about modern, superior technology, would we really be pouring money into analog watches?

Tritium fades over time and changes color, giving it a cool patina. It fades. It shows age. Super-LumiNova does not. And since so many of us value these qualities, the market has responded accordingly. By flipping out that faded tritium dial for a modern Super-LumiNova version, one is destroying the resell value of the watch, which naturally pisses the owner off. When your $20,000 watch is now worth less than half that, one is naturally upset.

A Valjoux-powered, manual-wind Hamilton chronograph with a panda dial from the 1960s. The tritium on the indices and hands has turned a creamy yellow color. Vintage watch people love this shit.

But of course, an appreciation and willingness to pay for patina are about more than just aesthetics. People also love a good story, and that story extends to the stories of objects. When you look at a faded dial, or an oddly shaped chip in a watch case, or a worn bezel, you inevitably start thinking to yourself, “I wonder where that thing has been. What it’s seen.” I bought a vintage watch because the dial reminded me of the Negev Desert in Israel, a country in which I lived for a few years. I am all but devoid of any semblance of a logical explanation for this. I tried to justify the purpose to myself in other ways. “It’s a Rolex, thus it will retain its value well.” “It’s a 34mm Oyster — these are relatively undervalued.” “This watch will always remind me of my friends from whom I bought the watch (this one is true).” “This watch is a great size.”

Nope. I mean, those things might be true, each in varying degrees, but at the end of the day, the textured dial on that particular Rolex ref. 6294 had turned a beige, sandy color from exposure to sun and possibly moisture, with darker spots in the center where the radium from the hands had “burned” it. It immediately reminded me of the Negev, a place for which I feel a deep affinity.

It also reminded me of its own era (the mid-1950s), of another time, a time during which I most certainly had never been alive or had directly experienced. Makes no sense — but I bought the watch. So much for logic. A vintage watch, like any other old object, is a stand-in for a type of liminal space — a gateway.

Eric Wind agrees: “Overall, it is the aesthetic of untouched, original watches — watches that look like they tell a story, or the kind of watch you wish you could inherit from your father or grandfathers — that I really love.”

Can’t argue with that, either.

Where Does Watch Patina Come From?

Recently, there has been much made of so-called “tropical” dials, which are dials on vintage watches that have turned uniformly brown. These dials weren’t “born” this way — they were for the most part originally black, and oxidation of the paint mixture used to manufacture the dials caused them to turn brown. Vintage watch collectors love this. And what about other types of patina?

So-called “Radium burn” falls into a similar category. For the first half of the 20th century, watch manufacturers used radium, a wildly radioactive material, to coat watch hands and dials, as it, you know, glowed in the dark. Sometimes the radium from the hands of a radium-painted watch would “burn” the dial, discoloring the paint beneath it and resulting in interesting patterns vaguely shaped like the watch’s hands. Radium burn is often asymmetrical and ugly, staining a perfectly good (or otherwise perfectly patina’d) dial. This is a defect, or more accurately, it is damage resulting from the radium-based paint, but, predictably, many in the watch world are bonkers for this look. Sometimes, it’s even beautiful (see below).

A vintage Rolex 6294 Oysterdate Precision with “radium burn” resulting from the radium-coated hands passing over the dial.

Zoom out, and it’s all a bit ridiculous. Actually, it’s highly ridiculous: very often you’ll find a mid-30s dude standing in a vintage watch retailer being shown a radium-burned dial, his eyes bugging out behind his glasses in genuine fascination, and his poor fiancé standing behind him, nodding politely, wondering when this absurd transaction is going to finally be over, and when she can go home and resume her evening of things not burned by radioactive substances or bleached by the sun into a different color entirely.

One sympathizes.

And bezels — what happens to those? Well, Bakelite, one of the first synthetic plastics, was once used to make bezels, including that of the very first Rolex GMT Master, the 6542. Because these and similar bezels were prone to cracking and breakage, they are now rare, and highly sought after. (Some were even made of Bakelite and contained radium, making them breakable and dangerous. Twice the fun!) Many of them also faded in the sun — even the aluminum replacements that came later faded in the sun.

The interesting thing is that no two faded alike, so even if you compare two bezels produced for the GMT Master ref. 1675, which shipped, in its most famous iteration, with a half-red, half-blue bezel, they won’t match. Sometimes you’ll get one on which the red half has faded to a beautiful magenta color, and the deep blue to a sky blue. If you peruse 10 different examples, the crazier (read, technically: “worse”) the fade, very often the higher the price. Wear! Hard use! Story! COOL!

Patina may technically be damage, but it’s the damage that makes these objects beautiful in the eye of the beholder. You’ll hear collectors speaking often about the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, or the acceptance of imperfection. This type of aesthetic has its own allure, and much of it is centered on this philosophy that beauty is impermanent and imperfect. It’s a convenient philosophy to espouse, even if you don’t believe it, as perfect, minty or New Old Stock watches are simply fewer and farther between than ever before. There are many, many more watches with heavy patina floating around out there than there are watches new-in-box.

So What Exactly is an “Honest” Watch?

There’s another hot term that’s been making the rounds lately in vintage watch circles (and particularly in the auction world), and that’s the word “honest.” What does this mean with respect to watches? That your watch was home by 9 pm and practiced safe timekeeping? That your watch would never dare adorn the wrist of another partner?

Close. It means, roughly, depending upon your interpretation, that a watch has retained its “correct” parts and not been messed with, or, more commonly, that a watch hasn’t been a “safe queen,” meaning that it’s lived a real life on somebody’s wrist — it might be nicked up, it might be faded, its bracelet might be stretched, but it’s seen some shit. Many of the heavily patina’d watches you see at Christie’s, Phillips and Antiquorum now carry this description.

A vintage Breitling Navitimer that is either “utterly beat” or “bursting with character,” depending on whom you ask.

Is this a legitimate term to use? Who’s to say. You could be cynical and take the angle that this is merely a bullshit euphemism invented by wealthy dealers catering to even wealthier clientele with seemingly limitless disposable income to describe merchandise that is, for all intents and purposes, heavily damaged (though, to be fair, a watch’s dial having heavy patina is in no way indicative of its movement being damaged — many of these watches work just fine, and merely happen to look beat to shit, dial-side). “Honest” sounds better than “patina’d,” which sounds better than “discolored,” which sounds better than “damaged,” which sounds better than “utterly and irrevocably fucked, aesthetically speaking.”

However, more and more, “honest” watches with heavy patina are breaking records at auction. Paul Newman’s 6239 Daytona wasn’t exactly minty — it was “honest,” i.e. it had been used, and showed commensurate wear. It’s understandable to imagine why this was valuable to people — anyone who was a fan of Paul Newman could see this wear and more easily imagine it on his actual wrist, seeing actual use. This is much harder to do with a product that’s in better condition by virtue of, say, having sat for years in its box in a safety deposit box. When there’s patina, we can project. We can be Paul Newman a little bit. Otherwise, a watch is just a watch.

Honestly, “honest” seems like an applicable and acceptable term to use to describe these types of watches. Sure — it’s clearly a euphemism, which will always be subject to scrutiny simply by virtue of its obfuscation of clarity — but we all understand what the watch world is trying to tell us.

It’s saying that just because something is beat up and shows its age, doesn’t necessarily mean that it doesn’t have any value, or that it isn’t beautiful. In fact, it’s saying quite the opposite, which bodes well for every watch ever made.

And for everybody.

The Best Travel Product of the Year May Also Be the Best Travel Camera Ever Made

This story is part of the GP100, our annual roundup of the best products of the year. To see the full list of winners, grab the latest issue of Gear Patrol Magazine.

The idea of a “travel camera” is a confusing one in 2019. Just about everyone who’s traveling already has one on their phone, and odds are, it’s pretty good. Multiple lenses paired with technological effects like portrait mode, HDR and ultra-low-light settings all mean that not only are high-end smartphones incredibly convenient, their images are more than attractive enough to induce #FOMO when viewed at 600 pixels wide on Instagram.

So where does that leave something like the Fujifilm X-T30? Dollar for dollar, it’s maybe the best travel camera ever made, but —- like an idyllic sunset seen on vacation but not posted to social media — does it even matter?

Simple, intuitive controls and perfect neo-vintage design put the X-T30 over the top.

Before we dive into the deeper question, a little justification of that rather bold claim about the X-T30. Fujifilm is generally considered (at least among our photo staff) to make the best cameras available for less than $2,000. There’s a greatness about their cameras, going all the way back to 2011’s X100 and ramping up with the introduction of its X-Trans sensor in the X-Pro1 in 2012. (Without getting too nerdy, X-Trans is a rearrangement of the color filter that sits in front of the sensor, helping to improve issues like noise and grain structure.) The colors are fantastic, the sharpness and micro-contrast are great and the film modes (simulations of old Fujifilm film stocks) are way better than they have any right to be. The current flagship, the X-T3, reflects these qualities better than any camera the brand has made.

The X-T30 is effectively the travel-size brother of that phenomenal X-T3. It’s a bit smaller and lighter, gives up a couple features and is a full $600 cheaper than the $1,500 XT-3. What’s most important though, is what remains unchanged: the 30 boasts the excellent X-Trans sensor, color science, autofocus, processing speed, burst speed, physical dials (sans ISO dial), general control scheme and semi-retro aesthetics as its bigger brother. What, then, makes it 40 percent less expensive? The camera isn’t weather sealed, the video capability is (slightly) stunted and the viewfinder is smaller— but these compromises are more than fair for the price. You’re not going to find another camera under $1,000 that can surpass the X-T30.

Further Reading
The Best Vintage Cameras You Can Still Buy
3 Great Cameras to Buy Under $1,000

So what makes a good travel camera, and why is this one so well-suited for the task? Outrageously high image quality is a must (gotta justify using it over your phone, after all) and the X-T30 has that in spades. That’s in part thanks to the excellent sensor, but it’s Fujifilm’s suite of lenses — especially its fast and compact prime lenses — that make the biggest difference. No portrait mode in the world can get close to the pure optical perfection of Fuji’s 35mm f/1.4. Other requirements for travel camera excellence? Straightforward controls, good battery life, a lightweight body, easy wireless connectivity (for all-important social media posting), decent video capability and a reasonable price. There are individual cameras that can do many of these things better than the X-T30 — but holistically, nothing else ticks all the boxes.

The biggest downside of the X-T30? That’d be the viewfinder, it’s bright and it’s sharp but you just can’t fit a viewfinder as big as the X-T3 or other, larger cameras in this compact of a package. Photo: Fujifilm

All of this skirts around the bigger, more difficult question: Why bother with a stand-alone camera at all? After all, an iPhone 11 Pro has no fewer than four cameras on board, not to mention computational photography, studio-lighting modes, a form factor that can’t be beat — and it’ll let you play Angry Birds. The answer is twofold. There’s the objective reason: the photos are better, plain and simple. On top of greater resolution than a phone camera, the X-T30 offers vastly superior lenses, sensor performance and user control.

The other reason…well, that’s more subjective. By nature, a phone is an everyday object, mired in loathsome associations with work, stress, social media and other parts of your life that you’re on vacation to avoid. These days, a camera can represent purposeful, meaningful engagement with one’s surroundings. The very act of shooting on a device dedicated solely to pictures adds emotional depth to the photos — at least, in the eye of the shooter. Grabbing a travel camera to shoot with can enrich an experience in a way a smartphone rarely will. So while you’re grabbing one, you might as well grab the best one of 2019.

Sensor Size: 26.1 megapixels
ISO Range: 160 – 12,800
Max Continuous Shooting: 8 frames per second
Price: $899 (body)

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Three Awesome, Under-the-Radar Chronograph Watches Available Now

If you want more functionality from your watch than the simple indication of the time and date, the chronograph complication (stopwatch) is easily the first thing many watchmakers and consumers will think of. Why is that? A chronograph can be useful, sure, but that doesn’t quite explain its celebrated status and immense popularity.

Associated with exciting stories from motor-racing to going to the moon, the chronograph captures the imagination. Amazingly, they’re popular despite that despite the fact that the complication’s significant mechanical complexity can often nearly double the price of comparable models without the chronograph functionality. Cost be damned — chronographs are cool! They look purposeful, technical, and even “busy” (though often in a good way) with various scales, subdials, and pushers, together resulting in a sporty but serious feel.

For the modern buyer, the chronograph’s attraction largely relies on its history and looks — along with it being fun to actually interact with, pushing its buttons to start, stop, and reset it. In past decades, however, this was undoubtedly a handy instrument to have on one’s wrist, and it found use in everything from military applications to daily life. The three vintage watches below display that functional intent which underpins the attraction of the chronograph today.

Helbros Chronograph

What We Like: Dating to the 1950s, this Helbros chrono would have been on the large side for its time at 36.5mm wide and 12.75mm thick, but this will only make it more attractive for modern wrists in need of a classic chronograph with restrained sizing. Like the other watches featured here, it has a dual-register layout, in this case featuring a 3 o’clock totalizer counting the chronograph’s minutes (up to 30) and a 9 o’clock totalizer for the main time’s seconds function. Powered by a Landeron 148 manually wound movement, the watch features both tachymeter (outer) and telemeter (inner) scales around the dial’s periphery for a captivating retro look.

From the Seller: Movement has just been meticulously dismantled and serviced. Timekeeping and chronograph functions are all operating perfectly.

Helbi Chrono

What We Like: Like the almost similar-sounding Helbros chronograph above, this is a somewhat obscure brand name but boasts a Swiss movement and construction. It’s also a similar size at 37mm wide, but this example takes on a much sportier presence with its dive-style bezel, bold dial elements, and screw-down crown. Hailing from the 1960s, it uses a manually wound movement popular at the time, the Valjoux 7733. A diver chronograph like this with vintage sizing and “reverse panda” (white subdials on black main dial) design will tick a lot of boxes for many people.

From the Seller: A few superficial scratches on the bezel and a scratch near 40 indicates that the watch was probably used gently. The case, while there are scratches all around, is unpolished and in great shape.

J. Auricoste Type 20 Flyback

What We Like: The Type 20 watches made for the French air force are some of the coolest and under-appreciated vintage military watches out there. This one by J. Auricoste is comparatively lesser known than its siblings by the likes of Breguet and Dodane. The variations among them are even more interesting, some having fluted bezels, like this one, and others with notched, 12-hour bezels. Part of what defines the Type 20 is its flyback chronograph feature, which in this 38mm Auricoste example is powered by a Lemania Calibre 2040 manually wound movement.

From the Seller: The case is in good condition overall showing signs of polish and normal wear consistent with age and use. Luminous matte dial is in good condition throughout, showing age and patinated Arabic indices.

James Bond’s New Watch Is a Titanium Omega Seamaster Diver

A James Bond film wouldn’t be complete without a cool watch, and for the past 25 or so years, that’s meant a cool Omega watch. For the fifth (and supposedly final) Daniel Craig entry in the franchise, the famed Swiss manufacturer upped the ante and delivered a special piece unlike any Bond watch seen before.

Whereas previous timepieces were largely chosen from Omega’s core collection, the new Bond watch is an original creation with a neo-vintage look. Worn in the movie on a mesh Milanese bracelet but also available on a special dark brown, grey and beige NATO strap, the new piece is a 42mm Seamaster Diver 300M manufactured in full titanium. With a rugged, military feel, it features “old radium”-style lume, a “black tropical” dial with a brown tone, a broad arrow marking on the dial and case back (used to indicate Crown property), and, best of all, it’s non-limited release, marking the first time a James Bond Omega product has seen full serial production.

Excitingly and in a first for the Bond franchise, Bond actor Daniel Craig worked personally with Omega for the past two years to help design the Seamaster. (He valued lightness and a vintage-inspired aesthetic, both of which are present in the new model.) Using inspiration from MOD-issued watches in Omega’s back catalog, the Omega team worked with Craig to perfect this aesthetic via the inclusion of “old radium”-style Super-LumiNova, present in the watch in blue-glowing indices and a green-glowing seconds hand. In addition to titanium construction, the watch features an aluminum bezel, flatter than its ceramic counterparts and 3x harder than standard anodized aluminum.

The design team wanted to maintain water resistance while reducing the case thickness, and to this end the watch is still water-resistant to 300m (its effective water resistance is closer to 425m, though the watch is only certified to 300m). Interestingly, the helium escape valve design is such that if the user forgets to screw the valve down, the watch remains water resistant to 50m.

Utilizing the Omega cal. 8806 movement, a Master Chronometer-rated power plant with a co-axial escapement and 55 hours of power reserve, the watch is extremely light, comfortable, and of course, incredibly accurate and robust. Devoid of a date, it makes use of clean lines for a thoroughly utilitarian, military-inspired look, and further, doesn’t ship in a box, but rather in a special watch roll made from waxed, water-resistant cotton with a nubuck inner lining — similar to the material in Barbour jackets and made by British firm British Millerain.

MSRP on a NATO strap is $8,100, while the Milanese bracelet-equipped version will run you $9,200. While this certainly doesn’t make for an inexpensive timepiece (the current no-date Submariner is $7,500 on an Oyster bracelet) — and especially one that isn’t limited — having seen the watch in person and considering its association with the franchise and its Master Chronometer-certified movement, the number doesn’t seem unreasonable given where luxury watch pricing has been heading.

Super light, vintage-inspired, handsome, technical and most importantly, highly robust, the new 42mm Seamaster Diver 300M featured in “No Time to Die,” the 25th James Bond adventure and Craig’s last, may be the best Bond watch yet.

How to Pair the Rolex Submariner with the Right Watch Strap

The Rolex Submariner, one of the most iconic watches ever made, is incredibly satisfying on its Oyster bracelet, suffering only from such popularity that it takes a certain effort to make the watch feel more reflective of the owner’s individuality and taste. That’s where you and a springbar tool come into the picture, and you might just be surprised at how it feels transformed by a strap change.

The Sub is such a versatile, classic design that that it works well with a wide range of watch straps, each one potentially resulting in a different, exciting personality. There are myriad options available, from NATOs to leather to rubber, and even many that are designed specifically for the Sub. You can get creative, but just remember that the 40mm Sub has a 20mm lug width. So without further ado, below are some of the handsomest strap options for pairing the Rolex Submariner.

NATO Straps

Crown & Buckle Premium

NATO straps are often so cheap that you can buy a few at a time to swap around, and a the Submariner is adaptable enough that it’ll take to a range of NATOs well. The James Bond franchise proved just how cool this look is when Sean Connery wore one on his Submariner in the 1962 film Dr. No, and you can get the same design from Crown and Buckle for just $12.

Worn & Wound ADPT Mil-Strap

Worn & Wound’s line of thick nylon NATO “ADPT” straps are some of our favorites for their excellent fit and finish and refined details. These are high-end with respect to price for for NATO straps, but they’re made in the USA with quality that feels appropriate for a luxury dive watch like the the Submariner.

Leather Straps

Analog/Shift Stout Calf

The Submariner isn’t just a dive watch — it’s a well-proportioned, handsome design that works well in a range of situations. Try a black calf leather strap like this reasonably priced one from Analog/Shift and see the Sub take on a more formal, retro feel.

Hodinkee Shell Cordovan

The most classic version of the Sub is undoubtedly that with a black dial and bezel, but you just might be surprised how well it works with a brown leather strap like this cordovan one from Hodinkee. The combo somehow adds a richness of texture to both the strap and the watch that’s seductive and high-end in its feel.

Rubber Straps

ISOfrane

The Sub often pulls duty as a desk diver in big cities such as New York, but a rubber strap is for when you want to use one for its intended purpose. Perfect for summer, weekends, and short sleeves, the ISOfrane rubber strap, available in multiple colors, is a favorite of the dive watch community, and turns the Sub into the perfect aquatic companion.

Everest

Everest is among a few makers of rubber and leather straps made especially for specific Rolex models, meaning the strap ends will fit Rolex cases perfectly for a refined, bespoke aesthetic. The brand offers straps with tang buckles, but also the option to use the original Rolex Oyster clasp to keep your wrist feeling as Rolex as possible.

The Year’s Best Watch Is Steeped in Mystery

This story is part of the GP100, our annual roundup of the best products of the year. To see the full list of winners, grab the latest issue of Gear Patrol Magazine.

Vintage-inspired watches are on the come-up and have been for years. From midcentury racing chronographs to military timepieces only issued to servicemen, nouveau-vintage pieces are — to varying degrees of adherence — modernized, reimagined versions of their respective originals. And though the vintage trend spawned dozens of reissues over the calendar year — including some that are simply an easy cash-grab — it also informed one of the most unique watches in recent memory: the Blancpain Air Command.

Few people have ever gotten their hands on the obscure original that inspired the modern Air Command. In the 1950s, Swiss manufacturer Blancpain was contracted to produce the now-iconic Fifty Fathoms dive watch for the U.S. Navy, to be distributed by Blancpain’s American distributor, Allen Tornek. The Air Command, a flyback chronograph where the chronograph hand can be reset to zero and started again with a single button push, was then constructed roughly to the design of the famed Type 20 military chronograph and intended for use by the U.S. Air Force. However, only a dozen timepieces were ever produced, and the watch never made it to full serial production.

A countdown bezel and flyback chronograph are classic midcentury pilot’s watch features.

In other words, this puppy is all kinds of rare. Once every blue moon, an original Air Command will surface at an auction, hammer for somewhere north of $100,000 and quietly fade into the ether.

“This is one of the most intriguing watches in Blancpain’s history, and a real mystery watch,” says Jeffrey Kingston, noted collector, author and speaker on watches. “Did Blancpain create the Air Command and then Tornek tried to sell it to the Air Force, or the other way around? It’s the classic chicken-and-the-egg question.”

Further Reading
This Reissue of an Obscure Military Chronograph Watch Is Absurdly Beautiful
21 of the Best Military Watches and Their Histories

Whatever the answer, someone seems to have done some head-scratching at Blancpain before the company created a new limited-edition version of the watch, available in a run of 500 pieces. Apart from a few concessions to modernity — an upgraded, in-house movement with automatic winding, Super-LumiNova-coated hands and indices, and sapphire crystals among them — the new Air Command is otherwise a dead ringer for the original.

A custom red gold rotor drives the aviation theme home.

Like the original, the design of the modern watch remains utility-focused. It is intended for pilots, and it can record intervals up to 12 hours in duration using the chronograph function (the original’s running-seconds subdial has been replaced with a 12-hour subdial, though both models feature 30-minute subdials at three o’clock). The dial features both a 1/5th-seconds track and a base-1,000 tachymeter, used to compute speed or distance traveled in conjunction with the chronograph. Then there’s the rotating countdown bezel, used to measure remaining time in an event, and the aforementioned flyback function, making it a cinch to time intervals such as one-minute holding patterns. In other words, the Air Command is a textbook example of a pilot’s watch, and it oozes midcentury cool.

The dial features a 12-hour totalizer at 9 o’clock and a 30-minute totalizer at 3 o’clock.

Kingston, a pilot and flight instructor himself, loves the utility of the Air Command: “The feature that you don’t see very often is the countdown bezel. What you’re always thinking about as you’re flying is the time to the next ‘fix,’ which is a destination or a waypoint. A countdown bezel allows you to measure the amount of time to the next fix, and not many watches that call themselves pilots watches have this feature.”

But the question on the mind of every watch nerd out there has nothing to do with its usefulness or historical accuracy — it’s a question of laziness. If watch companies continue relying on recreations of vintage pieces, what will the iconic designs of tomorrow look like? Updated versions of the iconic designs of yesteryear?

The Air Command occupies a special place in the modern horological landscape. Having never been commercially available — hell, having never been available even to the U.S. military — a modern remake gives the general public access to a product that it would otherwise never have been able to appreciate, let alone own.

Case Diameter: 42.5mm
Winding: Automatic
Power Reserve: 50 hours
Price: ~$19,003

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

The 10 Best Watches of 2019

This story is part of the GP100, our annual roundup of the best products of the year. To see the full list of winners, grab the latest issue of Gear Patrol Magazine.

A well-designed wristwatch should transcend time, giving information about the present in a package that references the past. The year’s best timepieces — from a sports watch that combines vintage design cues with an affordable movement to a GMT that’s uniquely dressy and simultaneously robust — do that and then some: they also prove that although the wristwatch is aging tech, it can still feel fresh as ever.

Products are listed alphabetically.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Perpetual Calendar

Audemars Piguet leans heavily on the popularity of the Royal Oak, but that didn’t stop the famed Swiss watchmaker from embarking on a radical departure for its newest watch collection. The Code 11.59 Perpetual Calendar features a mesmerizing aventurine dial, pink gold octogonal case and modern 41mm size. With its impressive movement and killer looks, it’s a watch that’s hard to knock, even if you’re not crazy about the rest of the collection.

Case Diameter: 41mm
Winding: Automatic
Power Reserve: 40 hours
Price: $74,500

Further Reading
The Release That Broke The Watch World’s Collective Brain
The Winners of the GPHG 2019

Baltic Aquascaphe

Any watchmaker can reproduce a vintage watch spec for spec, but capturing the essence of a particular period without copying a specific timepiece requires a bit more grace. French microbrand Baltic pulls it off with Aquascaphe, a watch that draws from several midcentury classics, such as the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. At 39mm, the Aquascaphe comes in a perfectly modern size, and its use of a commonly available Japanese automatic movement keeps the price well under a grand.

Case Diameter: 39mm
Winding: Automatic
Water Resistance: 200m
Price: ~$654+

Further Reading
The Baltic Aquascaphe Dive Watch Melds 1960s Looks with Modern Tech
Bid on This Unique Dive Watch to Help Support Clean Oceans

Watch Now: The 10 Best Watches of 2019

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Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Bi-Compass

Bell & Ross has made a name for itself by crafting timepieces based on cockpit instruments, but some designs translate to the wrist better than others. The Bi-Compass, which draws on a radio compass once used by U.S. naval aviators, is one such watch. With its matte-black ceramic case and stark Super-LumiNova-coated indices, it manages to turn a vintage aviation instrument into a futuristic, wrist-bound masterpiece. It doesn’t hurt that it’s handsome as hell.

Case Diameter: 42mm
Winding: Automatic
Power Reserve: 38 hours
Price: $3,900

Further Reading
Bell & Ross Returns To Its Military Roots With the New Bi-Compass
The 12 Best Watches of Baselworld 2019

Blancpain Air Command

Editor’s Pick

Modeled on a vintage pilot’s watch from the 1950s that was never serially produced, the Blancpain Air Command is a masterpiece of midcentury watch design — or rather, the modern interpretation thereof. Featuring a flyback chronograph movement, rotating countdown bezel and a tachymeter scale used to compute speed and distance, the Air Command is a classic pilot’s watch. But it’s the use of modern materials, such as Super-LumiNova and sapphire crystals, that bring it firmly into the 21st century.

Case Diameter: 42.5mm
Winding: Automatic
Power Reserve: 50 hours
Price: ~$19,003

Further Reading
This Reissue of an Obscure Military Chronograph Watch Is Absurdly Beautiful

Casio G-Shock Full Metal GMW-B5000V

The original resin-cased G-Shock of the 1980s has a cool factor all its own, but the more substantive GMW-B5000V steel incarnation from Casio’s Full Metal series features a unique lived-in finish. And while black-ion plating and artificially worn edges give it a hard-worn aesthetic, solar charging and smart connectivity make it a premium, full-featured G-Shock for the fashionably oriented.

Case Diameter: 43.2mm
Winding: Quartz
Water Resistance: 200m
Price: $1,000

Further Reading
This New Steel G-Shock Watch Brings Baked-In Patina
The Complete Buying Guide to the Casio G-Shock

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

Most moonphase complications are tucked into a small window at the bottom of a watch dial. Not so with the C1 Moonglow from British brand Christopher Ward, which displays the current phase of the moon along with glowing stars in Super-LumiNova at the top of the dial. Even more dazzling is the rotating disc that carries the display — it remains constantly visible through the smoked-sapphire crystal.

Case Diameter: 40.5mm
Winding: Automatic
Power Reserve: 38 hours
Price: $1,935+

Further Reading
This Is the Coolest Moon Phase Watch We’ve Seen in Recent Memory
How a Moonphase Works

Monta Atlas

Getting your hands on a solid GMT-equipped wristwatch used to require a significant chunk of change — think: Rolex-type change. Today, however, smaller boutique brands are offering luxury products with refined aesthetics and modern technology at a much more stomachable price. Starting at around $1,600, Monta’s Atlas GMT packs dual time zones, multiple dial color options and a first-rate bracelet. And best of all, it’s thin enough to wear under a cuff, making it perhaps the most versatile GMT around.

Case Diameter: 38.5mm
Winding: Automatic
Power Reserve: 48 hours
Price: $1,410+

Further Reading
This Automatic GMT Watch Straddles the Line Between Sport and Dressy
7 Awesome Affordable GMT Watches

Panerai Submersible 42mm PAM00683

For this year’s Submersible, Panerai put its military dive-watch aesthetic into one of the most wearable packages in the brand’s 159-year history. That’s not to say Panerai cut any corners, of course. At 42mm wide, the Submersible retains a bold wrist presence. But it brings the line’s genuinely rugged qualities — like 300 meters of water resistance and a scratch-resistant ceramic bezel insert — and a solid Swiss automatic movement to more wrists than ever.

Case Diameter: 42mm
Winding: Automatic
Water Resistance: 300m
Price: $9,800

Further Reading
This is the Smaller, Achievably Priced Panerai Submersible You’ve Been Waiting For
The Complete Panerai Buying Guide

Q Timex Reissue

Modern reissues of vintage watches are common fixtures in today’s horological scene, but it’s tough to find one that’s both handsome and affordable. Enter the ultra-popular Q Timex, a nearly one-for-one reproduction of a 1970s watch with a squared-off case, woven steel bracelet and Rolex-inspired bicolor bezel that uses wallet-friendly quartz to bring vintage vibes to the masses.

Case Diameter: 38mm
Winding: Quartz
Water Resistance: 50m
Price: $179

Further Reading
Jump on This Affordable Restocked Retro Watch Before It Sells Out
Timex Follows Up the Q Timex with Another Affordable Vintage Reissue

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar

Though supremely complicated in design and manufacturing, perpetual calendars are nothing new, horologically speaking. Vahceron Constantin improved upon the concept, however, with the Traditionelle Twin Beat. Making use of dual oscillators, it’s movement can be slowed down when the watch isn’t being worn, allowing for a power reserve of over two months. This way, if you don’t wear the watch for a while, it’ll remain synched to the current date information when you strap it back on.

Case Diameter: 42mm
Winding: Manual
Power Reserve: Variable (4 – 65 days)
Price: $199,000

Further Reading
Inside the New Vacheron Constantin Pereptual Calendar
Some of the Most Complicated Watches of SIHH 2019
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Elite Naval Commandos Wore This Vintage Military Watch in the 1970s

Welcome to Watches You Should Know, a biweekly column highlighting little-known watches with interesting backstories and unexpected influence. This week: the Sinn EZM 1.

Much regarding the Israel Defense Force’s naval special operations unit known as Shayetet 13 is top secret, but the watch that was on the commandos’ wrists during the 1970s is known to be the Super Kon-Tiki made by Swiss watchmaker Eterna, and it’s nothing short of legendary among watch collectors today.

Military watches have a special status not only due to the emotions, values, and history that are naturally associated with them, but also because of the type of extreme situations they need to withstand. One can get a sense of the kind of rigors such a watch might face by understanding a little bit about the Isreali Defense Force (IDF) unit that used the Super Kon-Tiki.

Shayetet 13 is an elite military unit of the Isreali Navy, often compared to the famous US Navy SEALS, that are deployed in a wide range of military and covert actions. According to the IDF’s own website, “Shayetet 13 is a marine commando unit operating in the sea, on land, and in the air in a variety of daring and special activities.”

More Watches You Should Know
Omega Calibre 30 I
Sinn EZM 1
Seikosha Tensoku

Training in the ruins of a medieval fortress not accessible to civilians (seriously), the unit is also known as particularly secretive, ominously nicknamed “people of silence.” Upgrading from Tudor Milsubs the commandos had previously worn, the Shayetet 13 used Eterna Super Kon-Tiki watches in the 1970s. (The year 1973 is specifically called out by the brand in the name a modern reissue of the watch, which was also the year of the Yom Kippur War.)

Eterna’s Kon-Tiki watch collection is named for the brand’s watches that allegedly accompanied Norwegian author, ethnographer, and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl on his famous 1947 raft voyage across the Pacific. Thus the Kon-Tiki has an aquatic background, appropriate for its modern life as a dive watch, and for the special naval unit. Eterna has a range of dive watches called the Super Kon-Tiki (or Kon-Tiki Super, if you prefer), but the brand made a reissue of the IDF watch in 2010.

With a utilitarian, military plainness, the remake is nearly identical to the 1970s model, though it measures 3mm wider than the 41mm original, and it’s powered by an ETA 2824 automatic movement instead of the Eterna-Matic. (It also features sapphire crystal, which was uncommon in 1970s watches.) While the same watches were available to the public, those used by the IDF will be marked as such with Hebrew engravings.

However, it retains elements like its very ’70s case shape and the handset — which might appear quirky to the casual civilian observer but was undoubtedly designed based on pragmatic considerations. Here, the hour hand is de-emphasized, whereas the minutes and seconds hands are prominent. This might make reading the time a little unintuitive until one is accustomed to it, but it’s meant for use in situations where minutes and seconds are the more critical information.

…you know, like the kind of situations involving national security, the cover of darkness, and a tiny team of elite, deadly commandos.

These Are the 8 Watches We’re Obsessing Over in November 2019

As watch lovers, we spend our afternoons pitching, researching and writing stories, poring over the new timepieces coming in and out of our office, and hunting for deals on used and vintage pieces online. When a new watch comes across our radar, one that particularly resonates with our tastes, we can’t help but obsess over it. We talk about them, debate their relevance, orate on their greatness and rail against their faults. So, here’s a taste of that process — eight timepieces our watch-loving staff are obsessing over right at this very moment:

Tudor Prince ref 7809, BNGE

From 1952-1954, 30 British scientists were a part of the British North Greenland Expedition. On their wrists were early Tudors, specifically the Prince ref. 7809. They were Rolex cases and parts with an FEF 390 movement from Fleurier. Good luck finding one of these with “B.N.G.E” inscribed on the back along with the scientists’ initials, but if you do, drop me a line. –AJ Powell, Project Manager, Gear Patrol Studios

IWC Timezoner Chronograph “80 Years Flight to New York”

I typically shy away from watches with a case diameter over 38mm, but this watch is just too beautiful for me to pass up. And I say that metaphorically because there’s no way I can afford this $13,100 masterpiece. This pilot’s watch pays homage to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, whose history-making flight from France to New York City paved the way for him to write The Little Prince. The watch’s technical functions are impressive — wearers can cycle through time zones demarcated by cities — and aesthetically beautiful, making this a watch I would love to have.” –Tyler Chin, Editorial Associate

Yema Superman Heritage GMT

Yema really nailed the “new vintage” trend with their reissue of the Superman Heritage earlier in the year, and again with this limited edition GMT model. It comes with a unidirectional bezel in 3 colorways, Yema’s trademark locking mechanism at the screw-down crown, and a domed sapphire crystal. With an ETA 2893 movement, adjustable second hour hand, and 300 meter water resistance, this is a lot of watch for the money. It’s the proportions that do it for me: 39mm in diameter, with a 47mm lug-to-lug width means it wears larger than its size, but without feeling bulky. And the bracelet might be the best one I’ve seen this side of Rolex’s iconic Oyster. –Brian Louie, Head of Commerce

Casio G-Shock Carbon Core Guard GA-2100-1AJF

If you frequent the subreddit “r/watches” then you’ll be familiar with this watch. Dubbed the “Casioak” by fans for is octagonal case, this not-so-Audemars Piguet Casio GA-2100 is one of the more popular analog G-Shocks available right now. They seem to be out of stock everywhere and you can’t get these Stateside yet, so many are resorting to buying them overseas (at what appears to be double the MSRP.) Why are people going crazy over this watch? I don’t know, but I unfortunately have joined the band wagon and want one too. –Hunter Kelley, Associate Designer

MK II Hawkinge AGL

I recently had the chance to see the MK II Hawkinge AGL in person for the first time and I instantly fell head over heels. It takes everything I loved about the first Hawkinge model: a very wearable size at 37.8 mm, 100 meters of water resistance and lovely blue Super-LumiNova BGW9. And it combines those elements with an even more distinctive dial design and an extremely legible handset, which includes a unique second hand boasting a green-emission Arclite lume. These minor adjustments make an already special watch even more intriguing. –Kyle Snarr, Head of Marketing

Yema Speedgraf

Yema’s chronographs and yachting watches from the 1960s have an undeniable “cool factor” — purpose-built, affordable (back then, at least), and fun, vintage models have since become expensive to purchase and service. The new Speedgraf reissue, however, makes use of the Seiko NE86 chronograph movement, an alternative to the finicky Chinese-made Seagull ST19. Now that this movement is becoming more widely available, I wonder if more affordable mechanical chronographs will begin rearing their heads… –Oren Hartov, Associate Editor

Seiko SNE441

As someone who’s only ever worn small field watches with minimal dials, I’ve been looking to break the mold with something a little bigger and more assertive without being too flashy. I’ve assembled a small wishlist of potential candidates and the Seiko SNE441 currently sits at the top. I love the blacked-out dial and bezel as well as the fact that it’s solar-powered, reducing my carbon footprint by just a little bit. –Scott Ulrich, Editorial Associate

Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope

I am by no means an authority on watches, but this is one I’ve been obsessing over for months — if not years. It’s not quite as minimal as some of the other Max Bill styles, but the contrast between the black dial and the stainless steel case, paired with the sleek, almost liquid-like milanaise bracelet is peak design as far as I’m concerned. Plus, little details like the retro-looking numerals (that four!), the slightly domed crystal, and the precision chronograph make this one a no-brainer for me. –Zeb Goodman, Project Coordinator, Gear Patrol Studios

How to Buy an Omega Speedmaster Watch

The Omega Speedmaster needs no introduction.

It’s not only one of the most historically significant wristwatch models in existence, but it’s also one of the most instantly recognizable. Hand-picked by NASA as its official chronograph watch for manned space flight 50 years ago, there is perhaps no other timepiece in the world that has passed a similarly grueling test process with flying colors and come, ultimately, to symbolize man’s conquest of the unknown.

Today, we continue to see some of the Speedmaster’s original design elements, such as the triple-register dial and engraved tachymeter bezel, in a number of modern incarnations. However, the Speedmaster has also seen a number of updates over the years. Variations such as the Mark II introduced features like a tonneau-shaped case and self-winding movement.

Today, there are numerous variations of the Speedy in Omega’s catalog. If you’re in the market for one of the latest versions of this legendary model but feel overwhelmed by all the choice, we have you covered — we’ve detailed an emblematic model from each of the ten sub-collections of the Speedmaster below. Now all you have to do is choose one.

Buying Guide

Moonwatch

As the name suggests, the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch is the model that made history in 1969 as the first watch on the moon. To this day, Omega continues to work closely with NASA on certifying Speedmasters for manned spaceflight, yet the Moontwatch’s design has remained largely unchanged for 50 years.

The modern version incorporates many classic features – the three-register dial and tachymeter scale – as well as Super-LumiNova hands and indices, a hesalite crystal, and a stainless steel case. You can find it in four standard iterations, with options for a stainless steel bracelet or leather strap and solid or sapphire case back.
Movement: Caliber 1861 (hand-wound)
Diameter: 42mm
Water Resistance: 5 bar

Speedmaster ‘57

The Speedmaster ’57 pays homage to the original Speedmaster of, you guessed it, 1957. Here, we see almost an exact replica of the debut model. It showcases the distinctive case design featuring broad arrow hands and straight lugs extending from the watch case. The most notable change is the number of subdials – two as opposed to three. (Instead of a third dial, the Speedmaster ’57 incorporates a date window at the six-o’clock position.)

Additionally, there’s a major upgrade under the hood with the addition of one of Omega’s exclusive, in-house Co-Axial calibers, viewable in all its glory through the sapphire case back. Offered in a whopping eighteen variations, including the model from the 1957 Trilogy, the Speedy ’57 has a little something for everyone.
Movement: Co-Axial Caliber 9300
Diameter: 41.5mm
Water Resistance: 10 bar

Mark II

The same year the Speedmaster Professional landed on the moon, Omega introduced the Mark II. Its distinguished tonneau case gives it a more streamlined look than its counterparts. Yet, it still incorporates some of the Speedy’s iconic features, like the triple register dial. In the Mark II, we also see the tachymeter bezel, this time as a transparent scale on the sapphire crystal that’s illuminated from beneath by an aluminum ring filled with Super-LumiNova.

Another divergence from the 1969 variation is the addition of a date window positioned within the subdial at the six-o’clock position. The modern Mark II is available in three variations including stainless steel and two-tone along with various dial options.
Movement: Co-Axial Caliber 3330
Diameter: 42.4mm
Water Resistance:

Racing

Though the Speedmaster is most often associated with its application in outer space, Omega originally designed the model as a racing chronograph. The Racing collection celebrates the Speedy’s motor racing heritage with elements like a distinctive alternating minute-track. Other features include three expanded sub-dials, beveled arrowhead indices treated with Super-LumiNova, and a Master Chronometer movement certified by METAS.

If you want to up the ante on the sportiness, there’s a black leather rallye strap with micro-perforations revealing orange rubber accents. However, if a subtle, classic look is more your thing, you can choose from one of 24 unique variations of the Racing models.
Movement: Co-Axial Master Chronometer 9900
Diameter: 44.25mm
Water Resistance: 5 bar

Speedmaster 38

For a more refined look backed by the trusted Speedmaster name, look no further than the Speedmaster 38. As the name indicates, the collection harks back to the model’s original, modest 38mm size with modern updates. One of the most notable features is the unique design of the sub-dials and date window. Drawing inspiration from the De Ville collection, Omega has incorporated soft, oval shapes into the iconic triple-register dial and date function.

As another nod to Speedies past, the Speedmaster 38 models showcase the famous Seahorse medallion on the case back. With 16 different iterations offering vibrant colorways, diamond accents, and strap options, Omega designed the Speedmaster 38 to suit any style.
Movement: Co-Axial Caliber 3330
Diameter: 38mm
Water Resistance: 10 bar

Speedmaster

Similar to the 38 collection but with an even more simplified design, the classic Speedmaster is a fitting tribute to the iconic model. In this variation, Omega has pared everything down except for the style options, with offerings in a number of neutral hues, stainless steel or leather straps, and the addition of diamond accents. At the heart of this classic Speedmaster chronograph is the brand’s mechanical caliber 3304 movement.
Movement: Mechanical Caliber 3304
Diameter: 38mm
Water Resistance: 10 bar

Solar Impulse HB-SIA

In 2009, the Solar Impulse project introduced a long-range experimental solar-powered aircraft referred to by its registration number, HB-SIA. To this day, Omega continues participate in the Solar Impulse project as a Main Partner, and in honor of the partnership, Omega created the Speedmaster Solar Impulse HB-SIA, which draws inspiration from the design of the aircraft.

Distinct features include a black carbon fiber dial and a case back etched with a colorful Solar Impulse patch. To complete the look, the model comes equipped with a bold rubber strap boasting a textured finish on the interior that’s reminiscent of Solar Impulse’s carbon fiber-honeycomb composite structure. In addition to two colorways featuring rubber straps, the Solar Impulse Speedy is available in a third version with a titanium bracelet.
Movement: Co-Axial Caliber 3603
Diameter: 44.25mm
Water Resistance: 10 bar

X-33 Regatta

Omega created the Speedmaster X-33 Regatta ETNZ Limited Edition as a tribute to Emirates Team New Zealand’s bid to win the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda back in 2017. They designed the model specifically with the crewmembers in mind with features optimized to withstand the conditions of the race. At the heart of the model is a Regatta function, complete with a single red button to activate the crucial countdown to the start of the race. It features a series of alarms, each with its own unique ringing sequence. In addition, the X-33 Regatta showcases both analog and digital readings.
Movement: Caliber 5620
Diameter: 45mm
Water Resistance: 3 bar

Skywalker X-33

The Speedmaster Professional X-33 first debuted in 1998. The Skywalker X-33 is an innovative upgrade of the original powered by an advanced quartz caliber with a thermo-compensated integrated circuit. Similar to the X-33 Regatta, the Skywalker X-33 has a hybrid analog and digital display. It allows you to read up to three different time zones and comes equipped with three alarms as well as perpetual calendar, chronograph, and countdown functions. As an extension of Omega’s legacy in space, The European Space Agency (ESA) has approved the Skywalker X-33 for all its missions.
Movement: Quartz Caliber 5619
Diameter: 45mm
Water Resistance: 3 bar

Spacemaster Z-33

The Spacemaster Z-33 draws inspiration from the legendary “Omega Pilot’s Line” (Flightmaster 1969). Like the Skywalker X-33, it comes equipped with an all-new multifunction quartz caliber and showcases both analog and digital readings. In addition, the Spacemaster Z-33 features a grade 5 titanium case construction with a double-wall case back. Last but not least, it allows you to read up to two time zones and boasts an alarm function, chronograph mechanism, countdown timer, and perpetual calendar.
Movement: Quartz Caliber 5666
Diameter: 43mm
Water Resistance: 3 bar

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

3 Affordable Vintage Alternatives to the Classic Cartier Tank Watch

Thin, rectangular watches typified by the Cartier Tank represent some of the most iconic product designs of the last hundred years. Their moment was the early part of the 20th century, beginning with a time that men’s wristwatches were still but a newfangled category. This rectangular shape helped distinguish them as deliberately designed for the wrist, as opposed to the repurposed pocket watches which constituted the earliest wristwatch (or “wristlet”) examples. The squarish Cartier Santos from 1904 was one of the first such watches, but it was the elegantly rectangular 1917 Cartier Tank that took off and contributed to wristwatches’ wider adoption.

Of course, it wasn’t just Cartier that made such watches, but this style is so associated with the Tank that the term has been applied to the general style. Despite the historical significance and ineluctably dashing elegance of a well-proportioned Tank-style watch, one tends to feel stylistically formal for modern sensibilities and everyday wear. But these watches don’t just look good in black and white — they can cut a striking figure on the wrist today, regardless of whether or not you’re rocking a tux.

Thanks to Cartier’s prestigious name and the provenance of the Tank, those from the brand itself can be expensive on the vintage market. A similar style and history, however, is offered by lesser-known brands, sometimes enlivened by Art Deco touches, for relatively affordable prices. Take a look at a few below.

Wittnauer

What We Like: Wittnauer was a prominent American company founded by a Swiss immigrant that made a number of historically notable pieces. Among dive watches, pilot watches, and others, this example from the 1940s has a more casual and quirky take on the classic rectangular watch. It’s got a 23mm-wide gold-filled case, which means a steel base covered with a layer of gold, and it’s only 8mm thick. Its black dial with Arabic numerals and accentuated lugs give it a bit of a flare compared to more formal Tank-style watches.

From the Seller: Manually wound movement, signed by Wittnauer, recently serviced. Excellent overall condition.

Doxa

What We Like: For most watch guys, the name Doxa will undoubtedly conjure an image of aggressively sporty, orange-dialed dive watches. Very few will even be aware that the brand, which traces its founding to 1889, once made watches like this charming, classically styled steel timepiece. It’s powered by a manually wound movement and measures 25mm wide and 10mm thick. Note that watches of this shape wear larger than their width measurements might suggest.

From the Seller: Very rare; overall very good condition; acrylic glass; comes with leather strap.

Movado Tank

What We Like: Movado boasts a range of watches, many of which are often overlooked, that make for fun discoveries and good vintage values. Here we have one in a Tank-like case with an elegant dial design dating to around the 1950s. Measuring 22mm wide and 40mm lug-to-lug, it’s easy to imagine this fitting elegantly on a modern wrist.

From the Seller: The dial has some spotting from fallen lume but overall is very good. The case has some superficial scratches. The manual winding movement runs very well & keeps accurate time.

Timex Follows Up the Q Timex with Another Affordable Vintage Reissue

After the runaway success of the Q Timex with its distinctive, Rolex-inspired bezel, it would be unthinkable for the historic American brand not to give fans more of what they clearly want, especially with such an ample back catalog to draw upon. Hence the the new Q Timex Reissue Falcon Eye watch — a visually striking and characteristically affordable timepiece for just $179.

In a 38mm-wide steel case, the new Falcon Eye takes a slightly more formal approach than the sporty, original Pepsi-bezeled Q Timex. Its two-tone look with steel complemented by gold-toned bezel, crown, and dial elements contrasts with a vibrantly blue striated dial, which proudly and prominently advertises its “QUARTZ” day-date movement.

Finally, a domed acrylic crystal adds to its retro feel, and the ’70s-style bracelet gives it that extra touch of character. If the popularity of the first Q Timex is any indication, you’ll want to snatch this model up quickly.

Here Are Some of the Crazy Nicknames Given to 10 Notable Rolex Watches

“Kermit.” “Stelline.” “John Player Special.” What in tarnation?

Many Rolex watches have seemingly random nicknames associated with them, the meaning and derivation of which is murky to the average consumer, to say the least. We thus aim here to provide you with an efficient and free translation service that can be employed the next time you look through an auction catalog and have no idea wtf is even going on.

These nicknames aren’t like reference numbers — they generally make decent sense and aren’t pulled from the twisted mind of some 1950s-era Swiss engineer whose four-letter numerical combinations are now the bane of every human trying to wrap his mind around the vintage Rolex market from here to Timbuktu. (The “Kermit” is a 50th anniversary Rolex Submariner with a green bezel, for example. Because Kermit is green. You…you do know who Kermit is, right?)

So here’s a handy list of some of the most common watch nicknames — see them a few times and they’ll start to stick in your mind. Just try not to reference them around your wife, parents, or non-watch people, or they’re likely to think that you’ve been speaking with make-believe friends again.

The Kermit

First introduced in 2003 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Submariner, the 16610LV featured a black “maxi dial” last seen nearly 20 years earlier and a green bezel, a first for the Sub. The watch became known as the “Kermit” in celebration of a certain green muppet, and prices for this limited watch now reach well over $15,000 for good examples with box and papers (the original boxes and paperwork that came with the watch). Amazing what a little color can do for pricing.

The Hulk

Like the Kermit, but greener! First released in 2010, the 116610LV features a thicker case than that of previous models and a striking green dial in addition to a green bezel. If you dig the beefier “super case” but want a different colored dial and don’t want to pay a “greemium” (see what I did there), you’re in luck — this is the current production case for the Sub, Sea Dweller and GMT Master II.

The John Player Special

So there are manual-wound Rolex Daytonas, and then there are exotic-dial “Paul Newman” Daytonas, and then there’s this real inside-baseball-type thing — a ref. 6241 in gold with a black Paul Newman dial and seconds counter demarcated in 15, 30, 45, and 60-second intervals. The “John Player Special” moniker is a reference to the black and gold livery of John Player Special cigarettes.

The Jean-Claude Killy

Five references of the Dato-Compax, one of Rolex’s most complicated watches (triple calendar chronographs, in this case), are collectively referred to as the “Killy”: the 4768, 4767, 5036, 6036 and the 6236. Why the nickname? In the 1960s, famed skier Jean-Claude Killy became a Rolex ambassador after winning several titles, and though he never appeared wearing a Dato-Compax in any ads, he was said to own one. These are some of the rarest, mot sought after serially-produced vintage Rolexes.

The Paul Newman

Referred to as “exotic dial” references by the brand, Italian collectors began referring to these funky Daytonas as “Paul Newmans” in the 1980s after a photograph of the famed actor wearing his personal watch began making the rounds. The exotic dials were made by Singer, featured cool art deco numerals — and were a commercial flop for years. Go figure. (They spanned several references, so a “Paul Newman” could be one of several Daytona models.)

The Snowflake

Supposedly the French Marine Nationale requested a dive watch with better visibility underwater, and Tudor responded by introducing the reference 7016/0, the first of the “Snowflake” Submariners, so-called because of their snowflake-shaped handset and square indices. Four “Snowflake” references were introduced from 1969 through 1975, including the 7016/0, 7021/0, 9104/0, and 9411/0, and Tudor has since reintroduced the handset in certain modern models.

The Mil-Sub

The references 5513, 5517 and double-reference 5513/5517 are generally what folks think of when the term “Mil-Sub” comes to mind, but other issued Rolex Submariners (earlier references, for example, such as the A/6538) can also take this moniker. From 1971 through 1979, only about 1,000-1,200 of these watches were produced for the British MOD and issued to SBS and SAS operators. Tell-tale signs include fully graduated bezels and circle “T” dials, though these are sometimes replaced.

The Pre-Daytona

The 6239, the first true Daytona, was introduced by Rolex in 1963, but prior to this (and concurrent, for several years), the reference 6238 was available in various case metals and dials, from 1960 through 1967. Though it features a smooth bezel and tachymeter scale printed on the dial (as opposed to on the bezel), it’s easy to see the DNA of the later Daytona models present in the Pre-Daytona.

The Paddelone

One of just two vintage Rolex references with triple dates and moon phases (the other being the Oyster-cased 6062), the “Padellone” (“large frying pan”) got its Italian nickname due to its oversize, flat 38mm case. Produced for a short time in the 1950s in steel, yellow or pink gold, these exceedingly rare, beautiful watches hammer for hundreds of thousands at auction.

The Stelline

Dating to the early 1950s, the 6062 features an Oyster case and triple-date complication with moon phase, one of just two vintage Rolexes to feature such a combination. Rolex then replaced the standard indices on certain 6062 dials with stars, giving rise to the Italian moniker “Stelline,” meaning “starlet.” These watches are rarer than hen’s teeth, and priced accordingly.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

This Serious Tool Watch Was Designed for a Special Tactical Unit

Welcome to “Watches You Should Know,” a bi-weekly (the once-every-two-weeks kind) column highlighting little-known watches new and old that have interesting stories or have had a surprising impact on the industry.

Almost no other watch brand owns the image of the purpose-built, ultra-tough, German-made tool watch quite like Sinn.

This tool watch ethos means stripping a design down to its essential elements for a rugged, utilitarian focus — and somehow, this honed simplicity can end up looking beautiful. This is precisely what Sinn as a brand means to many people, and no watch better represents that philosophy than the EZM 1.

Introduced in 1997, one look at the EZM 1 tells you it’s a bit quirky, and closer inspection reveals several unusual features. Thanks to its sober design language, one tends to assume these quirks aren’t merely aesthetically driven, even without necessarily understanding their purpose. And one would be right — special dehumidifying technology, an extensively modified movement, extreme temperature resistance and a titanium case are just some of what makes this watch unique.

Einsatzzeitmesser (EZM) is “mission timer” in German, and the EZM 1 was in fact designed specifically for use by a special tactical unit of the German customs service. Aside from its functional, instrument-like appearance, the first thing most people will probably notice about the EZM 1 is that its crown is oritned on the left side of the case and flanked by chronograph pushers. But those pushers aren’t joined by the typical set of subdials one tends to associate with a chronograph. So what’s going on?

This is indeed a chronograph, but both its needle-like seconds hand and minute hand (with the airplane-shaped tip) are centrally mounted, leaving the dial as clean as a plain old, time-only three-hander. In other words, you can measure up to 60 minutes on the chronograph, but there is no indication for the main time’s seconds. This lefthand positioning (“destro”) prevents the discomfort of a crown digging into your wrist, and it’s just as easy to operate as the traditional orientation.

Powering the watch is the famed Lemania 5100, and turning it into a central chrono did undoubtedly take some significant tweaking by Sinn. The 5100 is an appropriately robust automatic movement without the pretense of pretty decoration, and when making full use of all its functions, it offers no fewer than seven hands, plus day and date wheels. Sinn did keep the date display, but chose to position it at roughly 3:45. The Lemania 5100 isn’t made anymore, so when Sinn brought the watch back in the larger-cased EZM 1.1 in 2017, it used a modified ETA/Valjoux 7750.

There’s even more that makes the Sinn EZM 1 stand out. Sinn uses a range of technologies not often found elsewhere to improve its watches’ longevity. That circled “Ar” on the dial indicates an Ar-Dehumidifying Technology system of the brand’s own development. It comprises three elements including special seals and an argon (“Ar”) gas injection to replace oxygen and any moisture the case might contain. Finally, a drying capsule (visible through a sapphire window at one of the lugs) turns blue over time to indicate that it has absorbed moisture and needs to be replaced. These and similar technologies continue to be used in many Sinn watches today.

Add to all the aforementioned toughness 300m of water resistance and temperature tolerance of –20°C to +70°C and you’ve got one badass, technical watch. The EZM measures only 40mm wide, but chronograph movements tend to be bulky, and this leads to a case that’s about 16mm thick. To offset that potential heft, the case is crafted entirely in lightweight titanium and weighs a mere 61g without a strap. Its matte, bead-blasted treatment is devoid of any shine — just one more element that communicates a get-on-with-it attitude.

The original EZM 1’s production ended with that of the Lemania 5100 movement. Some 20 years after its release, in 2017, Sinn introduced a successor watch, the EZM 1.1. A limited edition of 500, the 1.1 is larger than the original at 43mm wide and runs on a modified ETA/Valjoux 7750 movement, and it’s made of steel (rather than titanium) that’s been treated to the brand’s tegimented hardening process.

No-nonsense, unique and totally badass, the original Sinn EZM 1 remains an unusual and compelling modern watch that even vintage collectors are drawn to.

This New Timepiece from Vacheron Constantin Is the Perfect Luxury Tool Watch

Vacheron Constantin’s bread and butter may be classically inspired, elegant dress and complicated watches, but their forays into the more avant-garde and into serious tool watches have yielded some of the most interesting timepieces of the past few years.

Launched in 2018, the Overseas Dual Time is a handsome 41mm watch available in steel or in pink gold with multiple strap/bracelet options. Featuring a dual-time complication, AM/PM indicator, a date complication housed in a sub-dial at 6 o’clock, and the in-house cal. 5110 DT with dual barrels and 60 hours of power reserve, this is a serious adventurer’s watch — so much so that American photographer and adventurer Cory Richards wore a special version on Mt. Everest earlier this year (which is going to be auctioned by Phillips this December).

For those who have been waiting with bated breath for a black dial version, the time has finally come. The new reference 7900V/110A-B546 retails for $22,900 (as do the other two steel versions) and features three interchangeable bracelet/strap options — a matching steel bracelet with Maltese Cross-shaped polished and satin-brushed links; an alligator strap featuring a black nubuck lining with hand-stitched scales; and a third rubber strap.

Easily adjustable via the crown and a push-piece, the Overseas Dual Time uses a fourth, red-tipped hand to indicate home time, coupled with a day/night indicator, while the date window at 6 o’clock is synched with local time. The cal. 5110 FT features 234 components and is wound by a 22-carat gold weight, visible through a sapphire case back. Water resistant to 150m and 41mm by 12.8mm thick, it’s one of the clearest expressions of Vacheron Constantin’s desire to push beyond the constrains of 20th-century design.

3 Affordable Vintage Watches for Sale from Historic American Brands

Elgin, Waltham, and Bulova were among the most prolific, best-known American watch brands during much of the 20th century, making high-quality timepieces that competed with those of the Swiss companies that are well-known today. Many later moved production to Switzerland, but without much of the name recognition of comparable prestigious companies, they can remain somewhat overlooked on the vintage market. This is good for the bargain hunter, who can often find solid deals on interesting watches that are full of character. Below are three good examples, all well under $1,000.

Elgin Diver Day-Date

What We Like: A “vintage-sized” diver like this one at 37mm has a certain panache, and while modern companies are starting to agree and make modern tributes and reissues, this particular watch is the real deal. Its colorful, Rolex-like blue and red bezel goes nicely with the gray sunburst dial and blocky hands and indices. The movement, with an Elgin-signed rotor, features automatic winding and day/date displays.

From the Seller: Manufactured in the 1970s, the watch was fully serviced in March 2019.

Waltham Diver

What We Like: Thin black bezel, domed crystal, blocky hands and indices… this is the type of perfect ’60s diver with a monochromatic, serious look that oozes style — and it even comes on Tropic-style strap. With a manually wound Waltham movement inside and a steel case measuring 36mm, this is a watch that can slip under a cuff, but it’s most at home in casual summer situations.

From the Seller: The steel case with beveled lugs looks quite good — only superficial marks from normal use.

Bulova Snorkel “Devil Diver”

What We Like: The modern (Japanese-owned) Bulova brought back the Oceanographer “Devil Diver” — so named for its depth rating of 666ft — to much acclaim. And though the modern watch is based on a slightly different vintage model than the one pictured here, this one, with its 37mm case and Swiss automatic movement, is chock full of vintage charm.

From the Seller: Running and keeping time. It does have surface wear on the band and some surface scratches on the face.

This Affordable, Automatic Timex Watch May Be the Brand’s Best Yet

According to the brand, the new S1 Giorgio Galli Automatic watch is “the most ‘Timex’ Timex ever,” and we don’t disagree — given its specs and finishing, the value-to-price ratio is impressive, and that indeed is very “Timex.” The brand’s design director Giorgio Galli, who has given his name to the watch, apparently had carte blanche to make exactly what he wanted to, and it shows in a range of thoughtful details that only an experienced, watch-obsessed designer could have emphasized.

Brand DNA is evident in a straightforward, legible dial, but the relatively complex case architecture is somewhat unexpected. At 41mm wide, it’s further nicely finished in a way that watch enthusiasts accustomed to the likes of luxury watches will appreciate, reflecting the designer’s background. Even the soft rubber strap was made to match the case’s skeletonized look, and the watch includes a tiny brush for cleaning its various nooks and crevices.

The dial is clean and simple but its curved edges give welcome texture. In reference to the tradition of denoting the movement’s number of jewels above the 6 o’clock marker, the dial features an actual movement jewel, adding a subtle touch of color. Visible through a display window on the reverse side is the Miyota 9039 automatic movement with 42 hours of power reserve, a Japanese movement considered more premium than Timex has typically used in its automatic watches.

Timex has steadily expanded its range of mechanical watches, but it says that the S1 Giorgio Galli marks the beginning of a series with “higher aim and more advanced focus than ever before.” It’s a strong beginning, for sure — handsome, affordable given its specs, and refined. Available from the brand now, the Timex S1 Giorgio Galli Automatic has a price of $450.