All posts in “Watches”

How to Buy a Rolex Watch

Why Rolex is so popular after nearly a century, especially now that so many other excellent watch brands are around, is a legitimate question. A Rolex is partially assembled by hand, and partially by machine, and certainly one can find more affordable watches that are ostensibly just as accurate, handsome and sturdy. So how does Rolex continue to stay on top of the Swiss mechanical watch game?

On the surface, one has to accept that Rolex has effortlessly maintained its place among today’s most recognizable status symbols, cutting across cultures and geography as a truly global brand. It’s hard to watch a tennis match, yachting regatta, auto race, or golf tournament without the Rolex crown pasted all over it, and famous actors, musicians, and regularly politicians sport Rolexes. Good luck getting through a major airport without seeing a Rolex clock, reminding you of the brand’s ubiquity.

Certainly Rolex’s brand cachet motivates a good portion of sales, but it doesn’t account for the fact that Rolex watches — old and new alike — are a surprisingly great value, and incredibly well made. When all of Rolex’s proprietary mechanical technology, cutting-edge materials, and timeless designs are accounted for, Rolex has always made excellent watches that simply don’t cost as much as their equivalents from other brands (with Omega billed as a perennial exception). The solid value of a Rolex is a little hard to see at first glance (they are certainly not inexpensive), but after shopping around for equivalents, most agree that Rolex is doing things right — including, in some cases, with regard to pricing. Rolex’s steel sports watches exhibit value better than many others, and that’s made them especially hard to get.

Buying a Rolex: Sounds Simple, But Not Always
Buying a new Rolex can be a complicated endeavor because Rolex intentionally shorts demand on more than a few models (especially steel sports models), thus creating years-long waitlists at authorized Rolex dealers. Getting on those lists is itself a challenge requiring investment of time and money. Buying a pre-owned Rolex is also a complicated endeavor because there are myriad details that can be significant in determining the value and desirability of any individual watch — plus you’ll have to evaluate the watch’s condition, inside and out.

How to Buy a New Rolex

Walk into any authorized Rolex dealer, and you’re going to see a lot of Datejusts, Day-Dates, Oyster Perpetuals, perhaps a Milgaus, maybe an Air-King, and usually a fresh batch of Cellini dress watches in a wide range of sizes and colors. You’ll always see a swath of women’s models. You might see a few sport watches in precious metals like a Skydweller, a Yachtmaster or even a Submariner; or you might not. Prices on new Rolexes are typically non-negotiable, and if you find what you like among the Rolexes on offer, then it’s a fairly straightforward purchase.

The Problem With Steel

What you won’t see at an authorized Rolex dealer these days are steel sport watches — Daytonas, Submariners, Seadwellers, Skydwellers, GMT Masters, Explorer I and II in steel are nowhere to be found. From the legendary Parisian dealer Bucherer to the lovely Betteridge Jewelers in Vail, Colorado and Greenwich, Connecticut, to the Rolex boutique on Madison Ave in NYC, we (mostly) haven’t seen a steel Rolex sports on display for at least a couple of years. If you’re pushy, as we were recently in Paris, you might convince the salesperson to pull a steel Rolex sports watch out of the safe just to check it out, but even that is a rare privilege, perhaps afforded only to pushy journalists.

Why is that steel Rolex in the safe? And who’s gonna get to purchase it?

The Idea of the Waitlist

It’s in the safe waiting for whomever is next on the dealer’s waitlist for that model. Getting on that list isn’t easy. At Betteridge Jewelers in Greenwich Connecticut (a town full of hedge fund-types and, thus, gorgeous watch boutiques), my request to get on the waitlist for a steel Skydweller was politely rejected. “Well, those models are going to go to people who have a long-standing relationship with the owner.” “Could I get on the list?” I asked. “We have a gold one I can show you,” came the well-rehearsed answer. Not even a pushy watch journalist was going to simply waltz onto that list.

Authorized dealers are not allowed to jack up the prices on any Rolex, an interesting point when you consider that a percentage of folks lucky enough to get a new steel Rolex sports watch immediately flip them for multiples of the sticker price. However, it would seem that most authorized Rolex dealers shun flippers, considering association with these profiteers bad for business, and alienating to those seeking a good relationship with an authorized Rolex dealer.

Getting on the List

And so, the reality of getting a current model year steel Rolex sports watch involves either building a relationship with a known flipper (which we don’t recommend; see above), or building a positive, long-term, close relationship with an authorized Rolex dealer (which we highly recommend to those hungry for late model steel Rolexes).

Building a relationship with an authorized Rolex dealer will likely involve becoming a regular customer — and browsing won’t cut it; you have to make purchases. All this may smack of nepotism, but it’s really just an extension of mutual loyalty between retailer and customer, akin to getting a table at an impossible-to-book restaurant, getting inked by a renowned tattoo artist, or being fitted by a celebrated tailor. Persistence, patience, and loyalty can eventually earn you access to the waitlist. And then, you’ll wait.

“Most authorized Rolex dealers shun flippers, considering association with these profiteers bad for business, and alienating to those seeking a good relationship with an A.D.”

How to Buy a Pre-Owned Rolex

Whatever the age, you’re going to want to know a number of things about any pre-owned Rolex in order to get exactly what you’re looking for at a reasonable price. We certainly won’t be the first to say “condition is everything,” but it most certainly (almost) is. Though every seller of pre-owned watches seems to break a watch’s condition into their own stratified rating system, the following ranking is a decent way to assess what you’re looking at.

New Old Stock and Box-Fresh Rolexes

Obviously the best condition a watch can be in is new condition, and, though rare, it’s not entirely impossible to find older models yet to be sold, or which were sold and have sat unused (think “inappropriate gift,” etc.). Interestingly, even unopened watch boxes can be environments in which patina and/or corrosion develop, so even a New Old Stock Rolex requires some assessment before purchase.

Mint Condition

These will have been used, but they have not been abused or altered in any way. They typically are newer and show no signs of wear or patina. Rolex’s alloys — especially the modern Oystersteel — can withstand years of use without showing much damage. A gold Rolex is more susceptible to scratches and dents, as are older steel models. Thus, mint Rolexes tend to be newer and steel.

Used & Unpolished

These watches will show signs of use, like scratches and dents, but have not been polished. Polishing is a process that changes the dimensions of the watch case to varying degrees by shaving off metal, often rounding previously sharp corners and connection points. Serious collectors generally avoid polished Rolexes, but everyone has their own threshold. There’s no hard rule here.

Used & Polished

These watches may appear to be in better condition than an unpolished watch, but they may cost you less because they’re not 100% original. Again, feelings about polishing are purely subjective, and the amount of metal removed may be a factor in working out the price — purists prefer unpolished watches.

“Polishing is a process that changes the dimensions of the watch case to varying degrees by shaving off metal, often rounding previously sharp corners and connection points.”

Fixer-Upper

When a watch is water-damaged, run over by a car, left in a chemically toxic environment, or otherwise beat to shit, it may be a candidate for restoration. Generally we would recommend that only an experienced collector or enthusiast who understands what’s involved take on such a project. Nailing a fair price for the watch is tricky at best, as is estimating restoration costs. It’s a good practice, at the very least, for the beginner to avoid watches whose parts have been updated or replaced, as this can significantly affect the value of a Rolex (or any) watch.

Box & Papers (Full Set)

Whatever the condition of the Rolex, original box (inner and outer) and papers (original punched sales card; warranty information; etc.) will assure a higher price. You may not care about these items, and that’s fine, but know that any documentation (especially service records) is desirable, and there’s a particular love for original receipts with the serial number on them because they verify the origins of the watch.

In watch nerd parlance, a watch with the original box and papers is called a “full set,” though sometimes a particular dealer might only consider a watch a “full set” if both inner and outer boxes are present along with all paperwork and all accouterments that originally came with the timepiece (Rolex Oyster-cased watches ship with a small anchor, for example).

How to Vet a Pre-Owned Rolex

Choose Your Rolex Model and Year

Sounds simple, but with the myriad small alterations Rolex makes year to year, this may be trickier than you first imagine. (Also keep in mind that Rolex watches are made in batches, meaning that a watch whose serial number indicates a production date of 1989 may, for instance, have actually been produced in late 1988). Talk to experts whenever possible; refer to Rolex resources (many collector’s books exist, though they’re pricey); use the internet judiciously when researching, and vet your sources.

Decide Upon What Condition Your Rolex Has to Be In For You to Purchase It.

Does it need to be perfect (unused or mint), or can you tolerate some wear? Are you comfortable with some polishing, or are you a purist who demands an unpolished Rolex?

Establish a Price Range

One of the best ways to check current market prices is to check recently completed auctions on eBay. Looking at classified listings on online sales forums can be helpful, too, as they’re often left in place after the sale. Lastly, there are a number of excellent dealers who sell pre-own Rolexes, including Crown and Caliber and Bob’s Watches, and their pricing is typically fair and consistent, if slightly higher than what you’d pay to an individual seller.

Find Examples, and Target Your Specific Rolex

If you’re lucky, there will be a few examples of what you’re looking for available at one time, and you can hone in on the one that best matches your requirements and desires. If you’re seeking a less common example, you may find yourself on an extended hunt.

Buy The Seller

Whether your target Rolex is with an individual or a dealer, do not make the purchase until you’ve gotten to know the seller. Many seller feedback systems exist. eBay’s is proven, and Etsy’s is great, too (you’d be surprised how many Rolexes show up on Etsy). Most forums have a way to gauge a seller’s reputation. You may even ask and individual or a dealer for references. If possible, get the seller on the phone or meet in person to get a vibe reading. If you sense any shadiness, move on.

Vet The Rolex’s External Condition

If the dealer passes muster, then it’s time to vet the watch itself. The condition of the case, dial, hands, and so on is typically not up for debate. If you’re not seeing the watch in person, then ask for photos from multiple angles, demand hi-resolution images so you can zoom in, and ask any questions (no matter how dumb they sound) if you’re not sure about what you’re seeing.

Vet the Rolex’s Mechanical Condition

Most mechanical watches need to go through service every 5-7 years (though modern lubricants and non-metallic materials are extending service intervals). Unfortunately, many watches do not receive regular service. Any service records are going to add assurance, but likely also raise the price. If there are no service records, then ask the seller for the service history. If a service was done properly, the movement would have been disassembled to some degree, cleaned, rebuilt, and lubricated, and there should be a receipt from the service center detailing the work performed

The type of work done during a service can range from “checked over,” to “regulated” to “cleaned and lubed” (which is an iffy answer), to “fully disassembled and rebuilt.” If any parts were replaced, ask if they used genuine Rolex parts; if they did not, there is actually a legal precedent in the US Courts that requires that (a) third-party Rolex parts be stamped as not original, and (b) the parts be marked “third party” on any service receipts. If all else fails, get images of the movement, and show them to a trusted watchmaker for their evaluation, or get a watch with a satisfaction guarantee period and have it looked over.

Seek a Warranty and/or Satisfaction Guarantee

Many pre-owned Rolex dealers will offer you a warranty. Make sure they’re specific about what it covers and for how long. If buying from an individual, some online sellers (via eBay especially) will offer a money-back satisfaction guarantee period for you to get the watch in hand and have it checked out.

Wheel, Deal & Buy Your Rolex

In most cultures, the price of a used item is up for negotiation, and in most cases you can expect to pay at least slightly less than whatever the asking price is for a pre-owned Rolex. For the most part, given that you have a handle on the condition and trust the seller, the prices for pre-owned Rolexes are pretty stable. Don’t expect to get an incredible deal, but don’t expect to get gouged either. Offering to pay cash will often allow you to shave off some cost from the final sale price, as it saves the dealer having to pay credit card processing fees.

Victorinox For Hodinkee Watchmaker Swiss Army Knife

There’s perhaps no better place to learn about new, vintage or downright exciting watches than the digital or physical pages of Hodinkee or the Hodinkee Magazine. The brand’s Midas touch has expanded over the years…

These 3 Vintage Dress Watches Are Perfectly Sized

Big, bold watches have their time and place, just as smaller classical ones do — you don’t have to resolutely favor one or the other (though many people do). After years of case sizes ballooning to often eye-rolling extremes, tastes and trends are swinging back in the other direction. Now, with vintage reissues the hottest thing in the current watch market, more brands are producing modern rereleases of vintage watches in sizes faithful or close to the originals.

Sub-38mm has long been considered small for modern men’s watches, but measurements don’t always tell the whole story. Other factors like case shape and thickness, the length of the lugs, size of the dial, and overall design of a watch can cause it to wear more or less prominently. Pro tip: a NATO or Bund-style strap can help give any watch a little more presence. If you’re not already a fan of the style, you just might be surprised how well a 34mm watch wears, proportionally framed by your wrist instead of eclipsing it. Below are three beautiful examples, each a bold 34mm wide, that offer as much style as they do comfort.

Benrus Manual Dress Watch

What We Like: This Benrus watch has a classical look, but simultaneously a unique and distinctive design. The sculpted bezel and lugs are particularly elegant, and the dial with its syringe-shaped hands and faceted markers complement these perfectly. Dating to the 1950s, it’s got a gold-filled case, and inside is a manually wound Swiss movement. A domed crystal and overall thickness of just 9mm give the watch an interesting shape, and it’ll surely stand out on the wrist without relying on its actual size.

From the Seller: The watch is in great shape; winding, setting, and telling time just as it did back in 1955.

Tudor Oysterdate Ref. 74033

What We Like: Tudor can get away with borrowing well-known design cues from Rolex because, well, it’s a Rolex brand. This two-tone Oysterdate model references its big brother in several ways, from its name to its fluted bezel, but dang if it ain’t pretty in and of itself. The Tudor name is nothing to sneer at either for this price, and the reference 74033 should pack a visual punch on the wrist.

From the Seller: Overall condition is good. Dial has no major flaws; hands do show some aging.

LeCoultre “Skeleton Lug”

What We Like: With one of the most prestigious names in watchmaking on its dial, this unique little dress watch is just really cool in myriad ways. In a 14k yellow gold case, it’s got an elegant dial design, but what really stands out are its skeletonized lugs. This is a rare feature, but the lugs further show an unusual shape when viewed from the side, as they are thinner where they attach at the case. Inside is the LeCoultre 480CW manually wound movement that the brand used in a range of watches from around the same 1950s era as this example.

From the Seller: Case is in excellent condition overall with normal signs of age and wear. Non luminous dial is in great condition with even patina throughout.

These Are The Crazy Things Watch Dials Have Been Made Of

Porcelain, enamel, carbon fiber, meteorite, mother-of-pearl, onyx, aventurine… boring! They all sound exotic and have attractive applications but are, in fact, relatively common watch-dial materials. Watch companies that want to stand out have to get creative sometimes.

The dial is where the show is, and without the same technical and durability constraints of other watch components, it’s one place where watchmakers have some freedom to experiment with unconventional materials that won’t be used elsewhere in a watch. Safely beneath a crystal, a dial can be made from a wide range of things, from the banal to the bizarre (although working with almost any material entails its own challenges).

Most commonly, plated brass forms the base of the dial — to which various finishes can be applied or upon which art can be displayed. Other materials are sometimes simply reinforced by a copper plate underneath. Clear lacquer is often used to protect it, and opaque synthetic lacquer can give it color — or watchmakers can use more difficult and premium techniques, such as those that involve enamel. Other metals can also do the trick, from steel to silver and gold, as well as various kinds of stone.

To get the attention of seen-it-all watch collectors, though, an unusual dial material can help. Avant-garde independent watchmaker Artya, for example, made a watch dial using coprolite, which is a fancy-sounding word for fossilized dinosaur shit. Meteorite has also become more popular as a watch dial material because it has both an interesting look and story.

Here are some other unexpected materials that out-of-the-box-thinking watchmakers have used as dials.

Paper: Citizen Chronomaster

The Citizen Chronomaster‘s dial is actually made from different materials in multiple layers, but what you see is the soft texture of Japanese paper. Considered a traditional craft of Japan, it is typically produced by hand using local plant fibers. On the Chronomaster, it’s sandwiched between a layer of solar panels and a clear disc to protect it. The clear disc gives the logos and text printed on it a floating, three-dimensional effect. It’s one way for Citizen emphasize its remarkably accurate watch and give it a higher-end appeal.

Wood: Breitling Premier B01 Bentley Centenary

There’s nothing quite like the texture and emotional connection of wood, and it has found its way into watchmaking in various forms. Wood dial watches are not unheard of at all, even having featured on the Rolex President, but they remain relatively rare. The dials of the Breitling Premier watch for luxury carmaker Bentley use elm burl with a wonderfully dark and rich wood grain meant to reference elements of a Bentley’s interior.

Eggshell: Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Mosaic

High-end brands like Jaquet Droz are where you’ll find more experimentation with exotic materials and techniques. Eggshell sometimes describes a color, but here it’s actual quail egg shells cracked into thousands of pieces and then selected for color to create an artistic micro-mosaic — in an African elephant motif. It takes a craftsman around 200 hours to produce this unique piece of art, and the completed design is covered with a layer of clear lacquer. The technique comes from a Vietnamese art form that uses duck egg shells.

Denim: Hublot Classic Fusion Jeans

Denim dial? Why not. Hublot is one brand that makes a point of using polarizing design choices and unconventional materials — other such examples include a Classic Fusion with a leather dial. The Classic Fusion Jeans watch uses a blue denim dial that appears to almost be part of the matching denim strap. Not sure if it’ll develop a fade with “whiskers” like your favorite pair of selvedge denim (or if you’d want it to), but it’s sure to catch the eye as a familiar look in an unexpected place.

Coins: Corum Coin

The material of the coin itself isn’t the focus here, though some are still notable as precious metals. What’s more interesting is the familiar look of a coin employed as a watch dial. A number of watch companies have taken this approach over the years, but none is known for it today like Corum, which maintains a permanent collection of Coin watches amongst its offerings. For use as watch dials, silver and gold coins are often horizontally bisected to thin them. Notable also is that the watch’s case sides are given a “coin edge” finish to make the whole package feel cohesive.

Fordite: TAG Heuer x Bamford Carrera Calibre 5

“Fordite” is actually just dried paint. But it comes from layers built up in car factories’ paint bays over years — in this instance, specifically cars painted at the Ford factory between the 1970s and 1990s. When sliced, it reveals colorful strata in unique, organic-looking patterns that never exactly repeat. These particular watches are the result of a collaboration between TAG Heuer and the brand’s official “customizer” Bamford Watch Department.

Salvaged Airplane Metal: Tockr D-Day C-47

Texas-based independent brand Tockr makes watches with dials made out of aluminum, such as the Tockr D-Day C-47. But it’s not just any aluminum. It’s metal salvaged from a WW2 paratrooper transport plane, and the patina is readily evident. The unique way the metal has aged is now preserved under sapphire crystal, and each dial is unique — some featuring extensive wear and others with traces of actual stamped lettering.

This Auction Features Some Exceptional Vintage Rolex Watches

Beginning today at 10AM, bidding opens on 18 incredible (mostly vintage Rolex) watches in an auction curated by California-based Bob’s Watches and Sotheby’s. The auction, called Watches Online: The Driver’s Collection, is themed around the concept of the driving watch, though many of these lots have admittedly nothing to do with driving or automotive culture. But they’re beautiful vintage Rolexes, so who cares.

The pièce de résistance is a Rolex ref. 6538 “Big Crown” Submariner, perhaps best known as the watch worn by Sean Connery in the beginning of “Dr. No.” (The watch pairs rather well with the 1965 Aston Martin DB5 that’s being auctioned by RM Sotheby’s on August 15th, which was one of two DB5s actually used on the set of “Thunderball.”)

But getting back to this 6538. This isn’t the actualy watch worn by Connery on set, but it’s a damn pretty example of a relatively rare reference that was produced for only four years. Known by its now-iconic “big crown,” which measures 8mm in diameter, the 6538 typically features a 2-line dial devoid of chronometer certification. This particular example, however, is an even rarer 4-line dial, indicating that this model is COSC-certified. The dial itself has also turned a beautiful “tropical” brown — technically a defect of the paint used on these dials, this “tropical” hue has become extremely prized by collectors. The watch hits the auction block on August 15th, with an estimate of between $180,000-$280,000.

But wait — there’s more. Amongst the 17 other watches are some gorgeous vintage models, and some (relatively) modern ones, including the now-highly sought after 50th anniversary Submariner with green bezel. Other favorites include a 6263 Daytona and a 1675 GMT Master — check ’em out below, and be sure to visit the Sotheby’s website to see all the lots and to bid, should you so desire.

Watches Online: The Driver’s Collection will be open for bidding exclusively online from 14–20 August with the full sale on view at Monterey from 15–17 August.

6538 “Big Crown” Submariner by Rolex Estimate: $180,000-$280,000

Submariner ref. 16610LV 50th Anniversary by Rolex Estimate: $12,000-$18,000

Submariner ref. 1680 MK4 Dial by Rolex Estimate: $15,000-$25,000

GMT Master ref. 1675 by Rolex Estimate: $12,000-$18,000

Daytona ref. 6263 “Sigma” Dial by Rolex Estimate: $70,000-$90,000

Handsome Mechanical Watches for Less Than $500? Look No Further Than Lorier

“Mechanical Watches for Under $500″ — now that’s a headline that catches your attention. “How is it possible, who’s making them, or where could I buy one?” Natural follow up questions.

Let’s start with “who” — Lorier is an up-and-coming New York City-based boutique watch company making affordable mechanical watches. Husband and wife duo Lorenzo and Lauren Ortega are the masterminds behind Lorier, and we had the pleasure of sitting down with them to learn a bit more about what inspired the brand, and just how they’re making these accessible, mechanical timepieces.

Interview

Vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti quos dolores et quas molesti Photo by John Doe.

Q: With no prior watchmaking experience, what sparked you all to take the bold leap of starting your own watch company?
A: We wanted to make something for people like us. Watches today are mostly made to be status symbols or collector’s items (and they’re priced accordingly). We were public school teachers, so watches could never really fill that role, nor did we want them to. For us, they’re wonderful objects that, just by virtue of being worn every day, can come to represent so much more: memories, histories, personalities.

What brought this from the back of our minds into reality was Lorenzo’s dress watch flooding in the shower on the way to a wedding. His other watch was a Seiko diver, which was a little too casual for the occasion. When we got home, he started to look for something he could actually wear every day, everywhere, and with anything. It had to be handsome while being rugged and low-maintenance. It also had to be affordable – we were on a teacher’s budget, and we were just uncomfortable wearing something worth thousands on our wrists. We couldn’t find anything that met our criteria.

We’d already spent years dreaming about what our ideal watch might look like (as most watch nerds do), and the time felt right to actually make it. It was summer, so we had plenty of time to research and plan. We’d finished paying off our student loans and finally had some money saved. The more our designs came together, the more we were convinced we had to go all-in on our idea.

It was a huge gamble for us; we literally bet everything we had on it! There were times when it really felt crazy: in the first year, we were teaching during the day and coming home to work on the business at night. But we had that much faith in each other, and we knew there were other people who felt the same way about watches as we do, looking for the same thing we were.

Q: As a husband-wife team, how do you divide and conquer the responsibilities of the business?
A: We do as much as we can ourselves to keep prices as low as possible: design, quality control, photography, building and maintaining the website, customer service, order fulfillment. Larger companies would have separate people or departments for each of those areas, but for us, those separate departments are all compartmentalized in our heads! It’s a challenge, but we’re happy to do it. We’re both uncompromising in our vision and expectations, so we see it as an advantage to have as much control as we do.

We’ve been together for a decade now, which is the majority of our adulthood and a third of our lives. We’re fortunate to know each other well enough to understand our strengths and be upfront about what we’d rather not do. As business has picked up and there are more demands on our time, we’ve learned that we need to be intentional about conserving our mental and emotional energy. Each of us has areas that stress us out the least, and those are the centers from which we operate. Lorenzo’s happy place is design, and he prefers to avoid dealing with money and numbers. Lauren finds comfort and order in daily operations and doesn’t have the patience needed for photography. But there really aren’t any hard lines. We each provide input and help each other with every aspect of the business.

Q: How did you decide on the name Lorier for your brand and subsequently the names Neptune, Hydra, and Falcon for the current models in your catalog?
A: We wanted a name that would have personal significance as well as connect to something greater. “Lorier” is actually an Old French word for “laurel,” which is the root of both our first names. It’s also a nod to Lorenzo’s formative years spent speaking French in Geneva, Switzerland. In terms of universal significance, there are values associated with the laurel – honor, excellence, and victory.

The names for our models come from the spirit we want them to evoke. Our flagship diver is brimming with references to the golden age of watch design, so we couldn’t think of a more fitting name than Neptune. Referencing mythology draws on this idea of being time-tested, lasting, and classic. As god of the sea, Neptune conjures up images of the ocean and its power – perfect for the quintessential diver.

The Hydra is more aggressively designed and has more complications (the date, the multi-functional bezel markers), so it made sense to reference the mythical, multi-headed sea monster. There’s also the double meaning, with hydra/hydro being the root for so many words associated with water, so it works on several levels.

The inspiration for the Falcon was watches worn by midcentury adventurers, which would be considered dress watches nowadays. So the bird of prey felt fitting with this spirit of going far and wide – elegant yet hardy. The diamond texture of the dial was a vintage feature we wanted to revive, but it also acts as a tangible reference in how it mimics the pattern of feathers.

Q: Your watches have a distinctly retro aesthetic — which vintage models were particularly inspiring as you created your designs?
A: To be a little nerdy about references, here’s a non-exhaustive list: for the Neptune, Rolex Submariner 6538, Omega Seamaster CK2913, and Titus Calypsomatic 7085. The Hydra: Breitling Superocean 1004, Omega PloProf, and Zodiac Seawolf 702-946. And the Falcon: Rolex references 1016, 6305, 5015, 6541, and the vintage Seiko Alpinist.

We wanted to use design to bring back the spirit of these icons: they were perfectly placed at the intersection of aesthetics, affordability, reliability, and utility. If you look at old catalogs, even big luxury brands made watches that were fairly accessible, so people actually went out and used them! The design language reflects this era where everything felt possible. Nowadays, the concept of heritage is commoditized and monetized to an almost ridiculous degree. It’s really disappointing! Yes, you can buy history, but it’s better to make your own.

We wanted to recreate that romance but without the pretense: make a watch affordable enough that you wouldn’t be afraid to wear it every day and everywhere and handsome enough you’d want to. The goal is to be able to make real memories with it – something no amount of money can or should pay for.

We try to stay as true to this philosophy as we can, even if it doesn’t make the most sense business-wise. For example, we went through a lot of trouble to make a diver with a classic plexiglass crystal, even though most brands use sapphire nowadays. It actually would’ve cost less to manufacture a case with the latter, plus it’s far more marketable. But when we had a sapphire prototype commissioned, it ended up feeling sterile. It was a big lesson in putting principles over specs. Plexi better suits our romantic sensibilities: it’s more impact resistant, and yes, it scratches, but you can buff out and polish off any wear-and-tear. It also has this clearer, warmer, and more enchanting look, which is a big part of what separates vintage references from modern ones that tend to look glassy and reflective in comparison.

Soul and romance don’t show up on the spec sheet, but we’re OK with that. We’ve had some owners come back to us and say they love how our watches remind them of their father’s, or even their grandfather’s – that’s pretty much all we can ask for!

Vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti quos dolores et quas molesti Photo by John Doe.

Q: Can you give us any hints as to what’s next for Lorier?
A: There are definitely some more complications we want to play with. We have a hand-winding chronograph coming out later this year, and if we could find a good, affordable movement, we’d love to produce a GMT.

That said, our larger, long-term mission is to share and spread the love of mechanical watches. Every time we show our mechanical movements to friends, their response is “this is so cool. How did I not know this exists?” Even though watches have worked this way for hundreds of years! And it is cool! Mechanical watches are this perfect blend of design, engineering, and sentimentality – there’s a permanence about them that stands out when so much else is made to be thrown away. That’s something a lot of people are looking for, and really, something that more of us should be able to enjoy. In the near future, we’re going to be enthusiast-focused, but eventually, we’d like to make models that are even more accessible in terms of design and price.

This Eye-Catching Vintage Dive Watch Deserves a Reissue

A distinctive watch design works best if it’s rooted in a genuine purpose and story. In the current climate of vintage rerelease fever, modern brands are plumbing their archives for just that magic combination of elements. We think that Mido’s fascinating Powerwind “Rainbow” 5907 dive watch from the 1960s has that special sauce and deserves a comeback. One look at this colorful diver tells you it’s a bit different, but the reason for its unique style might not be readily apparent — unless you are a certified SCUBA diver.

Mido today sits quietly near the budget end of the Swatch Group’s range of luxury watch brands. Its independent history before the Quartz Crisis, however, includes some notable achievements and interesting watches that are often overlooked. The Multifort, for instance, was an early example of an impressively robust watch that was said to be anti-magnetic, shock-resistant, and water-resistant back in 1934 — the latter feature was thanks to the brand’s own patented “Aquadura” cork gasket to help seal the crown from water ingress.

Photo: Matthew Bain Inc.

Dive watches evolved across the industry, and the colorful reference 5907 discussed here (also known by a couple of different names such as “Rainbow Diver” or “Powerwind 1000”) was part of the Ocean Star series introduced in 1959. Using Swiss movements based on ebauches from A. Schild, the “Powerwind” designation on the dial refers to an efficient automatic winding system the brand developed in 1954 that required far fewer components than the typical automatic mechanism of the time. So, this dive watch brought together multiple significant features and was rated to a respectable 300m (around 1,000ft) of water-resistance.

You probably don’t even have to know how to read all the markings on its colorful dial to find the Mido 5907 appealing, but understanding what we’re looking at adds another layer of interest. The dial features a diving decompression chart, which lets the diver know how long he needs to decompress for given the depth and length of his dive in minutes.

In meters (or feet, depending on the model), each ring shows the appropriate decompression times depending on the depth and length of one’s dive. The outer ring in blue is the deepest, at 40m (despite the watch’s deeper rating for water-resistance). So, for example, after 25 minutes at 30m, you have to stop and decompress for 5 minutes before surfacing, as indicated on the green ring (essentially, one simply floats at the prescribed depth). Back during heyday of diving, decompression stops were typically done at 5 meters no matter the depth of the dive — today, this method is somewhat antiquated and dangerous, and a more complex system governs decompression stop and depth calculation.

Photo: Matthew Bain Inc.

Mido wasn’t the only brand to make dive watches featuring decompression charts on the dial. The Fortis Marinemaster with a super-compressor-style case and the Vulcain Nautical Cricket with a mechanical alarm that could be heard underwater are a couple of examples that each introduced other cool features. The busy dials also give those watches an interesting look, but most such watches weren’t quite as eye-catching as the vibrant Mido 5907.

Never mind that the visible color spectrum disappears as you go deeper underwater — the dials look awesome on land. The Mido Rainbow Diver 5907 is relatively obscure but not totally unknown, and it can go for thousands of dollars on the vintage market in decent condition (as of 2019, fine examples can trade for over $10,000). Given a rare chance for the brand stand out in the crowded vintage dive watch market, Mido would be crazy not to bring back this awesome specimen.

How to Use Your Watch for More Than Just the Time

We love our high complications and luxury masterpieces as much as the next watch nerd. But our bias is for timepieces that can “do things,” watches that are each an essential piece of kit. Sure, it’s an instrument for telling time, but it can also be used to time a dive or a racing lap, take a pulse, or calculate remaining fuel or crosswind speed or the distance of thunder or artillery. How, you ask? The answer has little to do with the watch’s movement. It’s all about the bezel, that outer ring of metal (or perhaps, nowadays, ceramic) surrounding your watch’s crystal. The ones we’re talking about have numbers or other markings; they may rotate in one direction or both, or not at all; they may feature some other combination of all that. How each type of bezel works is not complicated per se, but it is deserving of a quick guide.

Count-Up Bezel With a 0-60 Scale

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Perhaps the most commonly seen bezel markers are on dive watches. These scales go from zero to 60, indicating minutes in an hour, and are used to keep track of time spent underwater, a critical parameter along with depth and remaining air. The first 15 (sometimes 20) minutes are marked in one-minute increments while the rest of the scale is usually marked in five-minute increments. The increased resolution for the first 15 minutes on the scale allows divers to time decompression stops with relative precision during ascents at the end of a dive. To use a dive bezel, set the zero marker opposite the minute hand; as time passes, you can read off elapsed time on the bezel without having to do any mental calculations.

Countdown Bezel With a 60-0 Scale

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Pretty much the opposite of a count-up scale, a countdown scale is used to set the time remaining before or during an event. Rotate the bezel so the time remaining on your parking meter is opposite the minute hand. When the minute hand reaches zero on the scale, you’re in parking ticket territory.

Tachymeter

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The tachymeter bezel is the distinguishing feature on iconic chronographs like the Omega Speedmaster and Rolex Daytona. The logarithmic scale is proportional to “one over elapsed time” (1/elapsed time) and therefore is used to measure units per time increments. Most common of these is speed in miles per hour. However, you can also calculate units per hour on a production line, pitches per hour during a baseball game, or the average rate of any other repeating event. Start the chronograph when one unit passes (mile marker, widget, whatever), stop it when the next unit passes, and read units per hour on the scale.

Pulsometer

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Specialized “medical watches” have a pulsometer at the edge of the dial. This is a specially calibrated tachymeter used to determine heart rate. Start the chronograph timer and count the beats until you get to the number for which the scale is calibrated — usually 15, sometimes 30. Stop the timer and read the heart rate in beats per minute. A related scale, often found on the same watch, is the asthmometer, used to determine a patient’s respiratory rate. The scale is read the same way and is typically calibrated to five respirations.

Telemeter

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This is a scale used to determine the distance from the wearer to an event that can be both seen and heard. Sudden lightning storm move in while you’re on your backcountry trek? Trigger the chronograph timer when you see the flash, stop it when you hear the thunder clap. See if you’re safe from harm by reading the distance in miles or kilometers on the telemeter scale. The speed of sound in air is effectively a function of air temperature (we’ll ignore the minor effects of humidity and altitude), so the scale is usually calibrated at a typical ambient temperature.

GMT

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The term GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) has been abandoned by the scientific community but the label still sticks in the tradition-bound world of timepieces. The bezel on a GMT watch is marked in 24 equal increments, becoming the chapter ring for the watch’s 24-hour GMT hand. This makes the watch a two time zone watch. If a second 24-hour ring is included on the dial, that creates a third time zone. The bezel is also often in two colors, roughly designating day and night. To use this bezel, set the hour marker on the bezel opposite the 24-hour hand for the time zone you want to track. It’s that easy. Just remember that a 24-hour hand only goes around once a day. You’ll get the hang of it.

Compass

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You’re hiking the High Sierra and you lost your compass? Well, okay, you’re a watch nerd, not a woodsman. If you’re in the northern hemisphere (hopefully you can tell that much), rotate the compass bezel until the south mark is halfway between the hour hand (subtract an hour if you’re on daylight saving time) and 12 o’clock. Point the hour hand at the sun and use the bezel orientation to determine north, south, east and west. Just reset the bezel about once an hour and you’ll find your way home.

Slide Rule

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We’ve saved the coolest bezel for last here; it’s also the most complicated. The slide rule bezel is basically two matching logarithmic scales — one stationary and one on a rotating outer ring. You perform multiplication and division by rotating the outer ring. This is old-school math, folks; Cold-War-era engineers will wax nostalgic if you show them this one.

Say you want to multiply 8 by 14. You place the 14 on the outer rotating bezel scale opposite the 10 (a unit index used as a conversion factor) on the inner scale (at around 2:30). Opposite the 8 on the inner scale, read the answer, 112, on the outer scale. Simple, huh? Okay, we didn’t think so either. We won’t tell anyone if you pull out your iPhone as a backup.

You can use a slide-rule bezel to handle all sorts of navigational calculations: airspeed, rate/time of climb or descent, flight time, distance and fuel consumption as well as distance unit conversions. Unfortunately, those are a little complicated to go into here — refer to your instruction booklet for those (Breitling’s does a particularly nice job). The slide rule bezel is most commonly found on aviator’s watches; unfortunately, knowing how to use the bezel doesn’t get you any closer to your pilot’s license. That part is up to you.

Turn Any Analog Watch Into a Compass

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With little more than a watch and a clear view of the sun, you can find your way to safety. Read the Story

How to Make a Montblanc Watch

Driving through the Swiss Alps feels like a timeless experience insomuch as the scenery seems unchanged from that of, say, 200 years ago — a cotton-like mist of snow covers cozy wooden houses in small villages, obscuring everything farther than 30 feet away from you; white church spires pierce the sky and sheep seem to outnumber their human counterparts. This is the beautiful, isolated environment in which Swiss watchmaking germinated and from which it was subsequently disseminated to the world.

Though Montblanc, a company perhaps most recognizable for its beautiful writing instruments, only began producing watches in 1996, it has certainly come a long, long way in a very short time, diversifying into several different lines (such as the 1858 and Heritage Collections, most recently) and flexing its horological muscle. When it acquired the Minerva manufacture, which has been making watches continuously since 1858, Montblanc inherited a storied history that allowed it to expand into the heritage watch space, crafting new designs that harken back to the golden age of mechanical watchmaking of the last century.

We recently partook in a journey to discover Montblanc’s watchmaking facilities, which are located about 40 minutes from one another in the Jura Mountains.


The Montblanc “snow peak” logo adorns the company’s Le Locle facilities, spread over two buildings high in the mountains about two hours outside Geneva. Montblanc itself was established in 1906 in Germany and is still headquartered in Hamburg (where its pens are produced), though watch production takes place in Switzerland, and leather goods production in Italy.



The first of Montblanc’s two building in its Le Locle facility was built as a family home in 1906. Though most of the architectural elements remain intact, the company built a state-of-the-art facility beneath the main building for assembly of the Heritage watch line.


The second building in Le Locle houses design, marketing and development teams for all of Montblancs’s watch lines. There are two project leaders and two constructors on the development team, and it takes an average of one year to develop a new collection. Sometimes an individual design goes through 150+ different iterations before final production.



The device in front of this watchmaker with the different colored handles is used to apply precisely controlled amounts of pressure to watch hands in order to affix them to a watch movement. Each movement requires a different, very specific amount of pressure in order to affix the hands, which is monitored via a computer screen in front of the watchmaker (noticed the USB cord).



Montblanc movements must be assembled and regulated before being disassembled, cleaned and then reassembled. Once this process is over and a given watch is performing satisfactorily, it is sent to the 500 Hours Test, where it is subjected to a battery of physical tests that it must pass before it can be sold.



A tray of Montblanc Bohème Day & Night 30mm watches awaits testing. An electronic machine that holds 10 watches at a time simulates different positions that the watches might be held in and tests the accuracy of the movements in those positions. If a watch passes this test, the process is repeated after 24 hours, and then the timepiece has its power reserve tested. If the positional variation test is not passed, the watch must be readjusted and tested again.



A Montblanc timepiece from the 1858 collection is shipped with a card that will give the owner technical information on its provenance, such as the collection name, type of movement caliber, serial number, case number and more.



Minerva has been continuously producing watches and movements since 1858, despite a fire in 1973 that destroyed part of the Villeret manufacture. After Montblanc acquired the company, much material documenting the history of the brand was found, some of which is currently on display. These log books are sales ledgers from the early history of the company.



Other items on display in the Villeret manufacture include vintage Minerva tooling, literature, photographs and boxes from Minerva stopwatches. For fans of the brand, this is a virtual treasure trove detailing the history of the manufacture.



Perhaps one of the most informative of the many artifacts from the Minerva manufacture is an enormous set of wooden drawers full of vintage, unused dials and parts, carefully categorized by size and type and often still wrapped in their original paper wrappings. They form gorgeously illustrated history of Minerva’s watchmaking legacy.




A vintage Minerva military-style mono-pusher chronograph with rotating bezel, telemeter scale and radium-coated luminescent numerals. Minerva began manufacturing chronograph movements in 1909 and quickly became famous for their mono-pusher models. These historical references became the basis for the modern 1858 Collection from Montblanc.




After the 1920s, Minerva began supplying stopwatches to professionals, such as those timing races or soldiers in the military. This particular example is calibrated in 1/100ths of a second and features a sub-dial that measures elapsed seconds.



A Montblanc main plate made (which holds the movement components) of German silver with beautiful perlage finishing. Perlage is a finishing technique whose resultant look resembles a pattern of overlapping circles, and is applied at Montblanc by hand using first a metal tool, then using wooden sticks with emory tips.




A watchmaker uses a balance wheel and hair spring suspended under a glass instrument as a reference in order to define the length of a second hair spring (the hair spring controls the rate at which a timepiece runs). She synchronizes the movement of both hair springs visually over a period of 30 seconds in order to ensure that they are beating at the same rate.



A chronograph is assembled and checked, a process that requires on average 2 days of assembly, and up to 8 weeks for the most complicated of chronographs. To give an idea of the degree of finishing involved in these watches, watchmakers must rub components that require mirror finishing together until they not only feel, but also hear no more scratches.



Vintage Minerva objects, such as this movement component box, can still be found throughout the Villeret facilities. The upward-facing arrow is the symbol of the Minerva brand and represents the tip of Minerva’s spear (Minerva is the Latin name for Athena, goddess of wisdom, the arts and warfare).



The view from the penthouse on top of the original Minerva manufacture in Villeret (technically, the first Minerva building from the 1850s was a small green house currently located across the street from this facility, which now serves as the local Protestant minister’s house). Two modern buildings flank the Minerva manufacture in which Montblanc manufactures movements and hands.



Below the mountains viewed in the previous image is the town of Villeret, also visible from the penthouse in the old Minerva facility. The original green Minerva building from the 1850s is just out of frame, but once can get an idea from the image of what a typical charming Swiss town in the Jura Mountains looks like in winter. The relative isolation and many months of cold provided a perfect environment for watchmaking.

The Complete Buying Guide to Patek Philippe

Like Rolex, Patek Philippe is an independent brand, and so this storied Swiss watchmaker has carved its an esoteric path through the thickets of horology to create what many argue are the very best watches in the world. ‘Best’, of course, doesn’t mean perfect. Naysayers armed with a flimsy (and deeply ironic) anti-luxury ethos typically target the high prices and then have little left to say, because a Patek Phillipe watch — even if you don’t like the thing or what you presume it stands for — is an undeniably awesome piece of human ingenuity.

Established in 1839, Patek Philippe has since developed a vast collection that currently includes over 160 watches and over 40 in-house movements. For an exhaustive list of all that’s on offer, we suggest ordering a hard copy of the Patek Philippe catalog. It is an elegant picture book that deserves a spot on any serious watch fan’s shelf. For those who are looking to navigate this dense collection without wading through the complex marketing rhetoric, we have assembled the following stripped-down guide to get you well acquainted with Patek Philippe in short order.

Let’s first get our heads around the major categories within the Patek Philippe collection.

Nautilus: An icon of the 1970s that helped Patek Philippe enter the sports watch market in 1976.

Aquanaut: Brought out in 1997 as an affordable alternative to the Nautilus, these watches have recently become hard to come by, especially in steel.

Calatrava: Patek Philippe’s Bauhaus-inspired round dress watches, first released in the late 1920s. Typically simple and elegant, with time and date only, these blank canvases also get paved with diamonds.

Complications: Usually housing two or three complications (mechanical devices that do something other than tell the time), these watches range from clean and simple dials to deeply decorative ones.

Grand Complications: Within horology, a grand complication has several complications within one watch. There’s no hard line, but most folks agree that (excluding a date mechanism) three complications or more constitutes a grand complication.

Golden Ellipse: Originally issued in 1968, these truly unique oblong ultra-thin watches are available again in an updated larger size. One of the most elegant time-only watches ever created.

Twenty~4: 36mm and smaller, round or square, mechanical or quartz, these are dress watches for women.

Buying Guide

Nautilus Collection

Some would say that Patek Philippe was playing catch up to Audemars Piaget’s groundbreaking Royal Oak when it hired acclaimed designer Gerald Genta in the 1970s, but the resulting watch, the Nautilus, went on to be a disco-era classic unto itself. Today the demand is so high that you’ll have to wiggle your way onto a long wait list to get one.

5711 Nautilus

Many consider this the perfect luxury sports watch at 40mm. The real deal is the steel, and it’s more rare than the gold versions. Waiting lists for the steel are years-long, and you’ll probably have to already be a regular customer at the dealer to even get on those lists. This is the model Patek riffs on the most, so we’ll be showing you more 40mm Nautilus models below.
Case Diameter: 40mm
Complications: date
MSRP: ~$30,620+

5719 Time and Date

With more diamonds than the Wizard had emeralds, this watch is a study in how to turn a simple and tasteful watch into a ridiculously lavish one. Pairs nicely with private jets, large yachts, and, perhaps, the occasional jeweled tiara?
Case Diameter: 40mm
Complications: date
MSRP: Price upon request

5712 Nautilus Moonphase Power Reserve

Add a moon phase and pointer date on one subdial, move the seconds to another subdial, and include a power reserve gauge, and you’ve got the 5712.
Case Diameter: 40.5mm
Complications: Moonphase, date, power reserve gauge
MSRP: ~$41,050+

5724 Nautilus Moon Phase with Power Reserve Gauge

If the above 5712 isn’t fancy enough for you, then you could opt for this diamond-encrusted version in order to let the world know that you simply do not eff around. An exact replica of the 5712, however, this is not — it’s 0.5mm smaller.
Case Diameter: 40mm
Complications: Moonphase, date, power reserve gauge
MSRP: ~$198,450+

5726 Nautilus Annual Calendar with Moonphase

If the 5712 isn’t symmetrical enough for you, check out the 5726. With it’s centrally located moonphase/running seconds subdial and day-date apertures, this watch is balance personified.
Case Diameter: 40.5mm
Complications: Moon phase, day-date-month (annual calendar)
MSRP: ~$45,930+

Nautilus 5980 Chronograph

At first glance, you might not see the chronograph function on this unique layout. Seconds are tracked by the main sweep hand, while 60 minutes and 12 hours are tracked on the clever dual-register subdial.
Case Diameter: 40.5mm
Complications: Chronograph, date
MSRP: ~$64,640+

5990 Dual Time

Only available in steel, the 5990 is a true world traveller, with jumping local hour hand and Patek’s unique AM/PM indicators for both local and home time. The waiting list is long enough for you to save up the $55k you’ll need go hand over for it.
Case Diameter: 40.5mm
Complications: Dual time, date, dual AM/PM indicators
MSRP: ~$55,340+

5740 Perpetual Calendar with Moon Phase

One of Patek Philippe’s most highly praised movements, the perpetual calendar here comes in a 40mm white gold case. Ironically, these aren’t quite as hard to get compared to the steel models with less expensive complications.
Case Diameter: 40mm
Complications: Perpetual calendar, moon phase
MSRP: ~$123,380+

7118 Series Nautilus

A mid-to-small sized luxury sport watch that’s timeless enough to be your only watch.
Like it’s larger sibling above, the 7118s are hard to get in steel, especially on the bracelet. In hand, they are beyond well made, practically glowing with quality. Many women opt for the 7118.
Case Diameter: 35.2mm
Complications: Date
MSRP: ~$35,000+

5710 Time and Date

For the ladies, this 32mm beauty is quartz-powered and set with 46 diamonds.
Case Diameter: 32mm
Complications: Date
MSRP: ~$32,660+

Aquanaut Collection

Launched in 1997, the Aquanaut was Patek’s attempt to offer a more affordable sports watch. It is, however, an incredibly cool, water-ready watch that has a sportier edge than the Nautilus, largely due to the bold numerals and its iconic mid-century dial engraving (until they pave it with diamonds, that is).

5167 Aquanaut Time and Date

This is the most stripped-down Patek Philippe sports watch, and for those who think it doesn’t have enough going on, we suggest you get one on wrist and see if that doesn’t change your mind. The bezel is a subtle 16-sided affair, with brushed and polished case work that glimmers in steel and gold.
Case Diameter: 40mm
Complications: Date
MSRP: ~$19,730+

5164 Aquanaut Travel Time

Patek Phillipe’s clever dual time complication with the date on a handsome subdial and dual-AM/PM indicators takes the Aquanaut around the world without a hitch. It’s 0.8mm larger than its simpler cousin above.
Case Diameter: 40.8mm
Complications: Dual time, jumping hour hand, dual AM/PM indicators
MSRP: ~$35,380+

5869 Aquanaut Chronograph

This watch is a brilliant execution of the chronograph complication, with an inconspicuous 60-minute totalizer on the traditionally placed single subdial. The orange hands are extra sporty, especially on a Patek Philippe, while the larger 42.2mm case wears like a modern sport watch.
Case Diameter: 42.2mm
Complications: Date, chronograph
MSRP: ~$45,360+

5067 / 68 / 72 / 62 Ladies Aquanauts

Quartz, small, and styled for a traditionally feminine look, these smaller Aquanauts run on quartz. These also have the distinction of being some of the most affordable Patek Philippe watches, despite the diamonds, and start at $16,900.

Calatrava Collection

During the Great Depression, Patek launched the Calatrava as a Bauhaus-inspired solution to the draining bank accounts of America and Europe (very few folks were buying complicated wristwatches then). Like many solutions to hardship, the Calatrava broke the mold and set Patek Philippe ahead as a modern-thinking company. Today, these elegant watches defy the ages to appear as current as ever.

5227 Calatrava

Simple lines on the dial compliment the beautifully traditional case to form what many consider to be the epitome of the dress watch.
Case Diameter: 39mm
Complications: Date
MSRP: $33,450

5297 Calatrava

With its diamond-paved bezel and diamond indicators, this black-dialed beauty is calling across the room to your tux saying, “Come on, let’s eat caviar, spy on the fascists, and fall in love with a double agent.” Or something.
Case Diameter: 38mm
Complications: Date
MSRP: $40,600

5196 Calatrava

With a minimalist subdial for the running seconds hand and its refreshing lack of date window, the 5196 epitomizes the unadorned Bauhaus aesthetic that undergirds the Calatrava line. The 37mm case harkens back to and era when watches were generally smaller, but the 5196 has massive wrist presence.
Case Diameter: 37mm
Complications: N/A
MSRP: $20,870

5196P Platinum Calatrava

Following the less-is-more ethos, the 5196P is a completely badass watch that comes across as subtle and refined. Platinum is heavy, and this 37mm beauty feels solid and substantial on wrist. Suit and tie? Of course. Jeans and a black tee? Hell yes.
Case Diameter: 37mm
Complications: N/A
MSRP: $37,990

6006 Calatrava

One of the most striking and stark watches in the Patek Philippe catalog, the 6006 throws a whole new idea at the Calatrava ideal. This watch borrows details from both sport and military watches of the 20th Century, but manages to look like neither. The 6006 is completely unto itself.
Case Diameter: 39mm
Complications: Pointer date
MSRP: $31,410

5088 Platinum Calatrava

You’re not going to see many of these at your local watch meet-up, and that’s because they’re both rare and rather pricey. The hand-engraved black enamel dial steals the show, even from the hour and minute hands, which are playfully obscured by the dial’s scripty decorations.
Case Diameter: 38mm
Complications: N/A
MSRP: $94,120

Complications

Often featuring two or more complications (or non-time-telling devices), there are 41 individual models within this line from Patek Philippe. We direct you to their Complications Page to explore all of them, but we’ve selected the classics and stand-outs that are sure to whet your appetite for these hand-made beauties.

5146 Annual Calendar, Moon Phase

Classic, instantly recognizable as a 20th Century design, and executed with precision and grace, the 5146 is a Patek Philippe thoroughbred.
Case Diameter: 39mm
Complications: Annual calendar, moon phase
MSRP: ~$41,390+

5396 Annual Calendar, Moon Phase

A clever layout, this watch sneaks a 24-hour hand onto its subdial, while three separate apertures display day, date, and month.
Case Diameter: 38.5mm
Complications: Moon phase, annual calendar, 24-hour hand
MSRP: ~$49,780+

5205 Annual Calendar & Moon Phase

With its apertures splayed across the top of the dial, the 5205 takes on the grandeur of a gothic cathedral, while the moonphase tucked into the 24-hour hand on the subdial reads like a pagan icon to the subtler powers of lunar time.
Case Diameter: 40mm (5205), 42mm (5905)
Complications: ASnnual calendar, moon phase, 24-hour hand
MSPR: ~$49,780+

5905 Annual Calendar with Chronograph

That this watch manages a flyback chronograph and an annual calendar function within a single watch is a testament to how efficient design can promote elegance to the forefront. Add in those gothic apertures across the top, and you’ve got perhaps the most symmetrical complicated watch of all time.
Case Diameter: 42mm
Complications: Chronograph, annual calendar, moon phase
MSRP: ~$81,310+

5524 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time

When this watch debuted a few years ago, they were soon sold out worldwide. Happy with its success, Patek Philippe has been riffing on this design ever since.
Case Diameter: 42mm (see the 7234 for the 37.5mm version)
Complications: Dual time, date, dual AM/PM indicators
MSRP: $49,560

5230 World Timer

This watch has been an essential Patek Philippe offering for business folks around the world, and its elegantly engraved dial announces the owner’s worldliness with unabashed sophistication.
Case Diameter: 38.5mm
Complications: World timer (dual time function with world’s cities), date, AM/PM indication
MSRP: $48,540

5231 World Timer

If the world’s cities aren’t enough for you, consider the world itself. With its Atlantic-centric hand-painted enamel map, this watch announces itself in a Transatlantic accent that might sound something like Cary Grant effortlessly wooing a beautiful dame on a plane.
Case Diameter: 38.5
Complications: World timer (dual time function with world’s cities), date, AM/PM indication
MSRP: $73,710

Grand Complications

With 34 models, the Grand Complications are how Patek Philippe shows off. Including minute repeaters (chiming mechanical devices), tourbillons (rotating escapements), incredible celestial maps, and more, these watches are haute horlogerie personified. To see the entire current line of Grand Complications, visit this page, or simply peruse our selections below for the classics and stand-outs.

5327 Perpetual Calendar

A perpetual calendar will mechanically account for leap years, and — if wound properly — will remain accurate for decades on end. The busy subdials of the 5327 are surface reminders of the complexity that lies beneath the dial.
Case Diameter: 39mm
Complications: Perpetual calendar, moon phase, dual time, leap year
MSRP: $88,450

5320 Perpetual Calendar

Taking a completely different approach to the annual calendar, Patek Philippe is showing off by revealing less on the 5320’s dial. Symmetry is king, and the parchment-colored enamel dial drips with classic appeal. Looks amazing with casual wear, as well as with hand-sewn shoes and bespoke suits.
Case Diameter: 40mm
Complications: Perpetual calendar, moon phase, leap year indicator, AM/PM indicator
MSRP: $85,510

5159 Perpetual Calendar with Retrograde Date

The retrograde date hand follows the days of the month to its end, and then resets itself back to 1 when the month is over. The 5159’s design is intricate and sophisticated (Roman numerals, fine etchings, old-school lugs, and onion crown). It’ll catch the eye of anyone within range of its elite glimmer.
Case Diameter: 38mm
Complications: Moon phase, annual calendar, retrograde date hand
MSRP: $96,170

5160/500G Perpetual Calendar with Retrograde Date

Essentially a 5159 with an incredibly intricate case engraving, the 5160 has to been seen moving around on someone’s wrist to be fully appreciated. It’s surprisingly down-to-earth in person, and, given its blue accents, looks incredible with denim and a sports jacket. The 5160 puts the age-old question as to whether a watch can constitute art to rest; obviously the answer is emphatically affirmative.
Case Diameter: 38mm
Complications: Moon phase, annual calendar, retrograde date hand
MSRP: $176,910

5270 (and 5271) Chronograph Perpetual Calendar

Let’s put the finishing and beauty aside and marvel at the mechanical complexity of this watch: a full three-register chronograph, moon phase, annual calendar and more all in a small-format dress watch that manages to look perfectly balanced and uncluttered. The way Patek Philippe has dropped the subdials just below the equator to make room for the numerals at 10 and 2 is a kind of secret sauce that gives the dial just a bit of needed breathing room.
Case Diameter: 41mm
Complications: Chronograph, moon phase, annual calendar, AM.PM indicator, leap year indicator
MSRP: $192,780+

5372 Split Second Monopusher Chronograph Perpetual Calendar Moonphase

That’s a mouth-full, as it should be for one of the most complicated watches in the world. With two running stopwatches (continuous and lap timer, known as a split-second chronograph), all operated from a two discrete pushers, it boggles the mind to note that this watch track the years and movements of the moon, as well. This watch literally tracks the full spectrum of earth-bound time in its remarkably small 38.3mm case.
Case Diameter: 38.3mm
Complications: Split second chronograph on monopusher actuator, perpetual calendar, AM.PM indicator, leap year counter, moon phase
MSRP: Price upon request

5078 and 5178 Minute Repeater

This watch doesn’t look complicated, but a minute repeater is one of the most complex mechanical devices known to humankind. By pressing the button on the left side of the watch, you unleash that mechanism to produce chimes that count off the hours and minutes. Patek’s chimes are especially loud and pleasing, making them a favorite of the elite set.
Case Diameter: 38mm (5078) 40mm (5178)
Complications: Minute repeater
MSRP: Price upon request

6300G

Let’s get our heads around this mechanical marvel. Firstly, this is a reversible watch, which has its seemingly endless mechanisms displayed on two beautiful dials. Those complications include: a strikework isolator indicator, a second time zone with AM/PM indicator, day, date (on both dials), month, leap-year cycle aperture, four-digit year display, and a 24-hour and minute subdial. To control all that from a single crown requires a crown position indication (R,A,H), which puts the watch into three separate setting modes.
Case Diameter: 47mm
Complications: See above description
Price: Price upon request

Golden Ellipse Collection

When these watches came out in 1968, there really wasn’t anything like them on the market. Ultra-thin, often paired with dripping gold bracelets reminiscent of an Antoni Gaudi cathedral, and able to jive with that era’s Armani and YSL suiting, the Golden Ellipse didn’t just depart from Patek Phillip’s aesthetic, but from that of all of horology. Reissued recently in an updated larger size, the Gold Ellipse has been warmly welcomed back into the Patek lineup.

5738 Golden Ellipse

One model, two colorways.
Case Diameter: 39.5mm
Complications: N/A
MSRP: $31,980

Twenty-4 Collection

Back in 1998, Patek Philippe introduced this line of smaller, mostly jeweled watches. Especially in the bigger-is-better late 1990s, these were truly aimed at women, and remain so today. The largest is the round 7300 model at 36mm.

Gondolo Collection

Also aimed at women, these smaller watches come in an assortment of elegant and traditionally feminine shapes, often encrusted with diamonds. These art-deco watches allow Patek Philippe to dip into its storied history, offering early 20th Century elegance in the digital era. Timetelling plays second fiddle to the jewels throughout this lineup. Definitely not what she’ll be wearing to the gym. Sizes and prices vary.

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Three Affordable Vintage Watches From a Historic American Brand

While now a relatively obscure name, Gruen was once among a club of notable American watch makers. The company’s history goes back to making pocket watches in late 1800s under the name Columbus Watch Manufacturing Company, founded by a Swiss-trained German immigrant in Ohio. Gruen went on to have success in wristwatches like the Curvex and even share movements with Rolex in its fascinating “doctor’s watches.” At one point, in the 1920s, Gruen was the largest watch company in the United States in terms of total sales.

Like so many watch makers of the time, however, Gruen didn’t survive into the modern era — at least not as an American company, and it ceased to be family-owned after 1953. While manufacturing later moved completely to Switzerland, this wasn’t too a big change for the company since it had always used Swiss and German movements, including those from its own factory in Bienne, Switzerland. The Swiss factory continued operation until 1977 and was later bought by Aegler (now part of Rolex). The three watches below all contain Swiss movements, but they each represent a different decade in the American company’s history, from the ’50s to the ’60s, and finally from the 1980s equipped with a sourced ETA movement.

Gruen Precision Day-Date

What We Like: From the 1960s, this is from the era during which Gruen was no longer based in America or family-owned, but was obviously still making some beautiful examples. There are plenty of Gruen Precision dress watches out there, but this one has a cool alpha-style handset, day and date display, and a range of other aesthetic touches that come together in quite an attractive way. The manually wound movement inside is the Gruen 512CB, and it’s housed in a 34mm gold-plated case.

From the Seller: Mint original condition overall with only light signs of wear; sharp case is completely unpolished with some light patina developing on the gold plating.

Gruen Moon Phase Calendar

What We Like: This Gruen Moon Phase Calendar watch feels relatively modern in some ways, made in the 1980s, but also has some interesting features not often found in today’s watches. First of all, it’s powered by the Swiss ETA 2895 automatic movement, based on the 2892, offering a moon phase at 6 o’clock and a pointer date. Its attractive blue dial and typeset suggests another era, as does the 33mm sizing of its steel case.

From the Seller: In beautiful cosmetic condition and great working order.

Gruen Veri-Thin Precision Guildite

What We Like: With a hand-wound movement from the Gruen factory, this little field-style watch takes us back to the 1950s. However, the movement dates to perhaps earlier, when the brand was family-owned and American. Measuring 32mm wide, the case is a reasonably slim 10mm thick, though perhaps not enough to merit calling it “very thin.” It still has a neat look and offers a way to get some interesting history onto your wrist. (Keep in mind that the dial has been restored.)

From the Seller: Original dial restored and in excellent condition; signed movement in excellent condition.

This Historic American Brand’s Vintage Watches Are Still Affordable

While now a relatively obscure name, Gruen was once among a club of notable American watch makers. The company’s history goes back to making pocket watches in late 1800s under the name Columbus Watch Manufacturing Company, founded by a Swiss-trained German immigrant in Ohio. Gruen went on to have success in wristwatches like the Curvex and even share movements with Rolex in its fascinating “doctor’s watches.” At one point, in the 1920s, Gruen was the largest watch company in the United States in terms of total sales.

Like so many watch makers of the time, however, Gruen didn’t survive into the modern era — at least not as an American company, and it ceased to be family-owned after 1953. While manufacturing later moved completely to Switzerland, this wasn’t too a big change for the company since it had always used Swiss and German movements, including those from its own factory in Bienne, Switzerland. The Swiss factory continued operation until 1977 and was later bought by Aegler (now part of Rolex). The three watches below all contain Swiss movements, but they each represent a different decade in the American company’s history, from the ’50s to the ’60s, and finally from the 1980s equipped with a sourced ETA movement.

Gruen Precision Day-Date

What We Like: From the 1960s, this is from the era during which Gruen was no longer based in America or family-owned, but was obviously still making some beautiful examples. There are plenty of Gruen Precision dress watches out there, but this one has a cool alpha-style handset, day and date display, and a range of other aesthetic touches that come together in quite an attractive way. The manually wound movement inside is the Gruen 512CB, and it’s housed in a 34mm gold-plated case.

From the Seller: Mint original condition overall with only light signs of wear; sharp case is completely unpolished with some light patina developing on the gold plating.

Gruen Moon Phase Calendar

What We Like: This Gruen Moon Phase Calendar watch feels relatively modern in some ways, made in the 1980s, but also has some interesting features not often found in today’s watches. First of all, it’s powered by the Swiss ETA 2895 automatic movement, based on the 2892, offering a moon phase at 6 o’clock and a pointer date. Its attractive blue dial and typeset suggests another era, as does the 33mm sizing of its steel case.

From the Seller: In beautiful cosmetic condition and great working order.

Gruen Veri-Thin Precision Guildite

What We Like: With a hand-wound movement from the Gruen factory, this little field-style watch takes us back to the 1950s. However, the movement dates to perhaps earlier, when the brand was family-owned and American. Measuring 32mm wide, the case is a reasonably slim 10mm thick, though perhaps not enough to merit calling it “very thin.” It still has a neat look and offers a way to get some interesting history onto your wrist. (Keep in mind that the dial has been restored.)

From the Seller: Original dial restored and in excellent condition; signed movement in excellent condition.

This Tech-Packed Watch Is Meant to Get the Crap Kicked Out of It

The rough-wearing, unpretentious, fun personality of G-Shock watches could hardly be better experienced than by testing one while riding ATVs around the muddy woods in New Jersey. That is how the brand introduced the new Mudmaster GGB100 to several New York-based journalists one recent Wednesday.

It easily survived the bumpy ride, being totally submerged in mud, an encounter with a hostile local, and an ATV that seemed to catch fire briefly. Of course, that’s a fraction of what the Mudmaster is built to withstand and just a small piece of the performance it promises, and the GGB100 packs new durability features and tech at a characteristically approachable price.

Notable: The G-Shock Mudmaster is about as giant and serious-looking as any G-Shock watch out there, and it has continued to evolve in 2019 with several new features and some design updates to differentiate it. A lightweight “Carbon Core Guard” is new this year and is supposed to enhance the durability of the already famously rugged watch. Further, this is the first Mudmaster to offer Bluetooth connectivity and step-counting, which the brand numbers among its Quad Sensors. This model regrettably does not include Casio’s Tough Solar light-charging technology.

Who It’s For: Broadly speaking, there are G-Shocks that can appeal to actual or wannabe tough guys, fans of youthful street fashion, and retro-futuristic nostalgics. The Mudmaster falls into the first category, and was made for professionals working in genuinely rugged conditions, but perfectly suitable for those who simply like that idea or want something built with that level of toughness in mind. You need big wrists or to be on board with the idea of large watches to enjoy a Mudmaster.

Alternatives: The combination of features G-Shocks typically offer is pretty unique, so the most legitimate alternatives to the Mudmaster exist within the G-Shock family itself. The Mudmaster’s all-digital sibling the Mudman is one obvious example, but those who appreciate the extensive functionality will find similar technology offered across the “Master of G” tier of G-Shocks in which the Mudmaster lives.

Similarly affordable, genuinely beat-me-up, quartz tool watches are available from brands like Victorinox, Luminox, and Marathon. The Super-Quartz-powered pilot watches in Brietling’s Professional series perhaps come the closest in terms of intended use and range of functions — but they are many times more expensive and therefore lack the casual, fun nature that characterizes G-Shock.

Review

At first encounter, the Mudmaster’s aggressive size seems to suggest its purpose as rugged equipment and just how much tech is packed inside it. Colors and textures that reference military or industrial themes further communicate that this watch means business. Ad what business does it mean, exatly? Many G-Shocks were originally designed for and actually worn by professionals who work in demanding physical conditions, and the Mudman and Mudmaster lines are specifically designed to deal with mud and dust, as well as general rough handling.

G-Shock watches mostly share a basic set of features, with more involved and premium models building upon them. Stylistic elements aside, the differences between G-Shock families and models can largely be divided into durability and technology features. Basic models are famously shock-resistant, water-resistant to 200m, and have functions including timers, world time, calendar data, and LED backlights.

The Mudmaster GGB100 is also rated 200m water-resistant. However, while you might think that anything that keeps out water would easily be able to prevent mud ingress as well, the small particles in mud and dust present challenges of their own. These “mud-resistant” watches use a special “filter” behind the buttons and a steel case back covered by a layer of plastic resin. In testing, mud didn’t seem to hurt the watch’s functions at all, but it is hard to completely clean from the many nooks, crannies, and facets of the Mudmaster’s complex case.

A new feature for 2019 is the use of a plastic resin case reinforced with carbon fiber, which replaces the plastic-only structure of many existing models. The brand is calling this type of case “Carbon Core Guard,” and the idea is that it will keep watches as light as those fully made of plastic and possibly even more resilient. “Carbon Core Guard” also sounds more premium than “plastic,” but G-Shock haters should remember sometimes that plastics have some incredibly useful durability properties (and not all plastics are the same). The carbon case is visible from the side, but what is seen from the front is the carbon fiber-patterned bezel, which is also lightweight but mostly serves to highlight the watch’s new carbon focus. The button at 6 o’clock activates a surprisingly bright LED dial illuminator.

In terms of techy features, G-Shock watches measure, calculate, and display information in several ways. In addition to the quartz movements and microchips that provide timing and calendar data that is basic to G-Shock and other Casio watches, more premium models like this Mudmaster GGB100 include sensors and a bluetooth link to connect with a smartphone. All these together add up to so many possible features that consumers may be easily overwhelmed, and even Casio has trouble explaining it all. Most people will only use a few of the available features anyway.

Previous “Triple Sensor” watches had a compass, thermometer, and pressure sensors, which are used for barometer and altimeter readings. The fourth sensor in the Mudmaster’s “Quad Sensor” is an accelerometer which senses the acceleration of gravity the same way smartphones are able to detect directions, tilts, vibrations, etc. This is used in the Mudmaster to offer a step counter which can then share data with a smartphone via a bluetooth connection (activated by the button at 3 o’clock). The smartphone connection allows for other features as well, some more useful than others depending on the wearer’s needs.

Frankly, some functions which require proximity of the connected phone seem of limited utility — like the ability to register a location on the watch and then have the watch indicate the direction and distance to return to it, drawing on data from the phone. An Activity Log feature uses the phone’s positioning and the watch’s altimeter to track activity, but it seems like most smartphones alone would be able to accomplish this. It will be more useful if future versions of the watch are able to perform these kinds of things autonomously like some smartwatches already can.

The bluetooth smartphone link, however, makes a lot of sense and genuinely enhances the user experience in several ways. Even basic Casio watches require a little learning, but all the functionality offered in these more feature-packed models can be overwhelming to use with only the few buttons available on the watch itself. From within the G-Shock Connected application, you can control various settings and displays, set alarms and timers, and customize the watch’s modes. The smartphone link further allows the time to automatically update when changing time zones as well as adjust the timekeeping accuracy.

Everyone who sees the Mudmaster remarks first on its size — there’s no getting around that it’s just plain big — but if you try it on you’re just as likely to remark on its comfort. Yes, the case is a whopping 53.1mm wide and 19.3mm thick, but like just about all G-Shock watches, it’s ergonomically curved and light on the wrist at just 92g. For a price of $350 retail, the Mudmaster GGB100 offers a healthy dose of the G-Shock brand personality and experience, a ton of functionality, and genuinely tough watch you don’t need to worry about.

Verdict: You really can’t beat G-Shock for its combination of durability, tech, and — subjectively — its extroverted style. Some people love big, bold G-Shocks and others don’t, but the size will be unwieldy for some people. While not every element of the functionality that G-Shock claims to offer is ideally practical, you can still get a lot out of a watch like the Mudmaster, whether or not you are regularly getting muddy. Only the omission of the brand’s Tough Solar prevents the Mudmaster GGB100 from being unreservedly recommendable for those that would otherwise be served well by it.

In the end, even if most people won’t use all its features or put its durability to the test by splashing around the woods on ATVs, everything offered by G-Shock watches like the Mudman amounts to a general sense of durability, reliability, and genuine functionality — and that’s what G-Shock fans rightly appreciate.

KEY SPECS
Price: $350
Case Size: 53.1mm wide, 19.3mm thick
Water Resistance: 200m
Battery Life: 2 years

This Company Is at the Forefront of Modern American Watchmaking

They say a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Justin Kraudel’s journey to co-ownership of a successful American watch brand started with a quartz watch made by Guess.

“It was probably 26 millimeters, with a little 24-hour rotating bezel on there, and I would spin that bezel in class,” he says. “I went through a ton of straps, because a cheap strap would wear out fast.”

By the time he graduated from college and started working in finance, Kraudel had moved a bit more into watch nerdery: he was running the local RedBar group in St. Louis. He ordered a black rubber strap for his 16800 Submariner one day in 2014, from a well-liked company called Everest Horology. Michael DiMartini, the owner, was also based out of St. Louis, and packed all the orders himself. When he saw Kraudel’s local address, he called him, and they became watch buddies.

A year and a half later, DiMartini asked Kraudel to go into business with him. But Kraudel had a good thing going in finance. “Then he told me about his idea for a watch brand,” Kraudel said. “I was all ears.”

That brand was Monta, which DiMartini launched in 2016 with the OceanKing, a black, Swiss-made diver inspired by the luxury sports watches of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Kraudel came onboard in early 2017, and eventually became a co-owner, and the brand’s president. Today the brand, which still operates out of St. Louis, makes around 700 watches a year, in four models: the OceanKing, a GMT called the Skyquest, a field watch called the Triumph, and a new GMT, the Atlas. We caught up with Kraudel to talk about the brand, the American watch-loving community, and a conundrum involving two Daytonas.

Interview

Michael DiMartini and Justin Kraudel

Q: You wear a lot of hats at Monta, including handling social media and managing a lot of events—Basel, RedBar. What’s your read on the state of the American watch community?
A: That it’s very much alive and well. It seems like there’s a new watch brand popping up every couple weeks. It’s still thriving and growing, even when a lot of people have smartwatches on their wrist — what’s old is new and cool again.

Many of the guys in my circle of friends, they get an Apple Watch for Christmas, and they like having it on their wrist, and then they grow into liking and having a mechanical watch on their wrist. There’s the jewelry component to it: for most guys, outside of a wedding ring, it’s the only thing they wear on their person. And it also tells that story and lets everyone around them know this watches are interesting to them, and makes people ask them why.

Q: What are your customers like? Are they guys buying their first watches, or guys who already own a Speedmaster?
A: It’s a mix. Just today I had a gentleman in here who had a two-tone Submariner on his wrist, and he was really interested in the Triumph. I also today got an order from a good friend of mine. This is probably the most money he’s spent on a watch. And as far as financial resources, it’s all over the board. There’s wealthy guys buying a Monta that could afford to buy 20 of them, and then there’s also the guy who says, I’m halfway there to an Oceanking, and over the next 12 months I’m gonna keep saving till I get there. We’re happy to have anyone on board who wants one, and we’re gonna take care of them.

That said, we’re also trying to branch out, because most of our customers are pretty well educated watch guys in the sense that they know a lot of brands, they know a lot about movements and warranties. So when you really put yourself out there from a quality standpoint, you get a guy who says, ‘Hey, love my watch but it’s running plus-6 a day, and your website says it’s regulated to plus- or minus-5. Can I send it in to be tuned?’ And we’re like, sure, we’ll take a second off of that, if it’s important to you. So we’re trying to get away from that and also trying to reach more traditional guys who maybe would like to have a nice watch but who aren’t going to every RedBar meeting and reading every forum post.

Q: What’s your favorite watch of all time that’s not from your brand?
A: Instinctively my brain goes to the Daytona. I like that sporty elegance.

I also love the Nautilus and the Royal Oak. Because of that ability to look regal and elegant but also very sporty at the same time. That seems most appealing to most guys that are gonna wear a suit and tie a couple times a year but also wanna look put-together in a t-shirt and jeans. I think that style of watch really does it. That’s something I’d like to try to emulate at some point, with our own design language. Take the Atlas and try to class it up a little, more in terms of the case finishing, and maybe come up with a unique bracelet like Genta did on both of those.

I’m still a watch guy. I still love watches, so I’ve got a nice box of stuff at home. I tell people I only wear my Daytona around the house on Sunday, because I can’t be caught at the grocery store not wearing my own brand.

Q: You guys are at a tricky price point, and one that puts you up against a lot of tough competition, especially from other impressive small independent watchmakers. What makes you stand out?
A: They say seeing is believing — I would add that feeling is believing as well. We’ve been doing this for three years now, and we have a lot of happy people out there who love their watches. So I’ve got a lot of people out there that can back me up when I say that the fully articulated links on our bracelet make for the most comfortable bracelet you can ever imagine.

The quality of the finishing on the case, the dials themselves — every piece, the movement, sapphire crystal, feel of crown — all of those things together come across as very high quality. Not that other brands aren’t high quality. But for us, I feel like every piece really fits that same agenda.

And also that the designs: People say that the OceanKing looks like a Submariner, or the Seamaster, or the Fifty Fathoms, or whatever. My response is, it’s black, so same there, it’s a circle, so same there. But the bezel layout’s different, the hands are different, the markers are different, the lugs are a different shape and size. There’s all those different things. But you also can’t get too esoteric, too wild. Because at the end of day this has to be a business that’s going to survive, which means you have to have sales, which means you have to appeal to a wide audience.

Between the quality and the design, and then developing a great customer experience, I feel that we’re doing as good if not better than our biggest competition.

Q: What’s next for Monta?
A: A couple things. I’d say we’re gonna get back out on the road and meet some more people. Windup in New York — I enjoy that more than Basel. You meet so many people there.

Michael [DiMartini] is in Switzerland, working every day with our designer for hopefully a new release next year — that’s all I can say about that. We have our first authorized dealer, in Indiana. A couple more in 2020, maybe one more in 2019.

And then, just continuing to grow the brand, do the right thing, take care of the customer, and at the end of the day, it’s just having fun while doing it, and translating that fun to our customers, and showing them an appreciation for embracing Monta and making us a part of their lives.

These Are Some of Today’s Best Lightweight, Scratch-Proof Ceramic Watches

The use of ceramic has been one of the biggest trends in watchmaking over the last few years, expanding from a relatively rare and niche material with limited use and color options to a highlighted feature in iconic watch lines by many of the most prestigious Swiss brands. Watch companies are truly excited about ceramic’s use even in dials and bezels, but especially full watch cases, and they expect consumers to see the benefits as well. Why is ceramic so cool? A lot of pretty good reasons, it turns out.

Ceramic is still somewhat exotic and considered a premium alternative to common materials like stainless steel. However, it also has some properties that are particularly appropriate for the purposes of watchmakers and watch wearers. These beneficial properties are threefold: ceramic is lightweight, it’s essentially scratch-proof, and its color never fades. The one major drawback to ceramic is that really hard impacts can, unlike metal, cause it to chip or crack, though this is not a common occurrence. Ceramic also involves some technical challenges in its production, particularly when working with colors other than black and white and when trying to achieve even tones of desired hues.

Ceramic has been in use as a watch case material since the Rado Diastar in 1962. More recently it has begun to replace aluminum as the bezel material of choice even in entry-level luxury watches due to its scratch-resistance. Paired with a sapphire crystal, a ceramic bezel amounts to a more or less scratch-proof watch facade. It further offers the possibility of colored cases (black being most popular) without the problem of showing the underlying metal when scratched, as can occur with metal cases using coatings. While Rado has been making ceramic watches for decades, brands from Omega to Panerai have been pushing ceramic technology forward and releasing full ceramic cases in a range of finishes and even colors. There was even an Apple Watch in ceramic at one point.

As a premium material, ceramic typically commands a higher price than similar watches in steel. It will be interesting to see if future ceramic watches are able to be produced at lower costs, with more color variation, and/or other desirable properties. Below are some of the best ceramic watches you can get today.

Rado DiaMaster Ceramos Thinline Automatic

You can’t talk about ceramic watches without bringing up Rado, as they’ve been making them since 1962. Having pioneered ceramic as a watchmaking material, the brand still quietly offers some of the most affordable options for completely ceramic-cased watches, and offers a wide range of them at prices starting around $1,700. Rado’s designs can be polarizing but the DiaMaster Ceramos Thinline is classical and safe. To achieve this gold-like color the ceramic case is 10% made from a metal alloy, and Rado believes this is a big part of the material’s future. Weighing only 58g and 8.3mm thick, this is a good way to experience ceramic’s lightness and texture.
Diameter: 40.3mm
Movement: Swiss Automatic ETA A31.L01 (based on 2892-A2)
Price: $2,250

Bell & Ross BR03-92 MA-1

Bell & Ross has a sub-collection featuring ceramic cases within its iconic BR03-92 family of square-cased, aviation instrument-themed watches. This particular “khaki” model has a matte finish with orange highlights on the dial meant to accompany the classic colors of the MA-1 military bomber jacket — but there are more options in black ceramic (and one in white). With Swiss automatic movements inside, Bell & Ross watches are priced firmly in luxury territory but still toward the lower end of ceramic-cased watches.
Diameter: 42mm
Movement: Swiss automatic Sellita SW300-1
Price: $3,900

Chanel J12 Automatic

In white, the J12 is one of the most iconic women’s watches, and it has been representing ceramic in watchmaking long before the modern trend took off. In black ceramic, however, it takes on a distinctly more masculine appeal. Make no mistake that Chanel is flexing here not only in its material use but with the Swiss-made movement inside by Geneva-based Kenissi that offers a 70-hour power reserve. The J12 might be elegant, but it is also ostensibly designed as a sport watch, with 200m of water resistance and a dive-style timing bezel, and it comes on a fully ceramic bracelet.
Diameter: 38mm
Movement: Chanel Caliber 12.1 automatic
Price: $5,700

Panerai Radiomir Ceramica PAM00643

Typically conservative, Panerai‘s not the first brand you would expect to dabble in something like ceramic, but the Italian company also has an experimental side. There have been more and more Panerai models in carbon, ceramic or other exotic materials lately, and this Radiomir Ceramica features a 45mm cushion-shaped case with a waffle-style “hobnail” dial and the brand’s famous luminescent hands and indices.
Diameter: 45mm
Movement: Hand-wound ETA 6497-1 base
Price: $8,300

IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Mojave Desert”

A lot of ceramic watches you see are white or black, sometimes gray, and rarely, something else like blue. That’s why, among other watches released in more common ceramic colors, it’s cool for IWC to also mix it up a bit with this sandy-colored version of their Chronograph Top Gun. Released for SIHH 2019, it also includes the IWC in-house 69380 automatic chronograph movement. Its 44.5mm case is water-resistant to 60m and it’s limited to 500 pieces for this specific Mojave Desert version.
Diameter: 44.5mm
Movement: IWC in-house 69380 automatic chronograph
Price: $9,100

Omega

Colorful cases are an area of ceramics that is still developing, but if done well with the right shade and finish, the possibilities are intriguing. The 45.5mm blue case of the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean here is further emphasized by sporty contrasting orange highlights. With its usual 600m water-resistance and helium escape valve at 10 o’clock, the Planet Ocean is powered by Omega’s own 8906 movement, offering a GMT function and 60 hours of power reserve.
Diameter: 45.5mm
Movement: Omega Master Chronometer calibre 8906
Price: $11,700

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback Ocean Commitment

With the exceptional Blancpain in-house F385 movement inside, the fact that the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback is available in blue ceramic is icing on the cake. A classic dive watch with 300m of water resistance, Blancpain offers a high level of finishing and horology, with a flyback function for the chronograph, the enthusiast-approved column wheel feature, a 50-hour power reserve, and the unusually high operating frequency of 5Hz. This version is offered in blue ceramic with a somber gray dial to highlight ocean conservation efforts.
Diameter: 43.6mm
Movement: Blancpain Caliber F385 automatic flyback
Price: $20,100

These Are Seven of the Most Affordable GMT Watches

For many years, a well built GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) watch, which can tell the time in multiple time zones, was expensive and difficult to come by. Sure, there was always the ubiquitous Rolex GMT Master I and II, but prices for these have been steadily skyrocketing in virtually all iterations, and GMT complications from other Swiss brands were similarly expensive.

The landscape today is very different, however. These days, boutique watch brands have capitalized on the popularity of the GMT and the relative plentifulness of GMT-based Swiss movements, and are developing watches that offer multiple time zones at a fraction of the cost of a Rolex or similar watch. This isn’t to say that you should buy a modern GMT Master II if you’d like one and can afford one (and can find one), but there are now plenty of more affordable options.

From quartz Timexes to Swiss-made microbrand offerings, these are 7 of the most affordable GMT watches available right now.

Buying Guide

Timex Allied GMT

Believe it or not, you can get into a GMT watch for $149. Will this Timex Allied hold up like your GMT Master II? Eh — probably not. But it’s got a sleek, utilitarian black dial with dual-color bezel (black and blue), a 43mm case, a date window and 100m of water resistance. For the budget traveler, this may be the perfect option.
Diameter: 43mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Price: $149

Citizen Eco-Drive GMT

If you want to take your GMT watch into the water and not worry about it, but also don’t want to spend a ton o’ moolah, this Eco Drive from Citizen could be your best bet. It’s admittedly HUGE (49mm), but it’s got that cool dual-crown, Compressor-style case thing going on, and the battery should outlast you, given that it charges via sunlight.
Diameter: 49mm
Water Resistance: 200m
Price: $292

Alpina Startimer Pilot Quartz

A step up in terms of fit and finish from the previous two entries, the Startimer Pilot Quartz GMT from Alpina is available in multiple dial and bezel colors and features a 42mm x 9.2mm steel case, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and quartz movement with 25-month battery life. These sleek, pilot’s-inspired watches will look great on a variety of straps, and the black dial/black bezel variant especially can be dressed up or down.
Diameter: 42mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Price: $595+

Monta Atlas

One of our favorite timepiece from Baselworld 2019, the Atlas is no-nonsense, American-designed, Swiss-made GMT. Available in numerous dial colors and strap options, the Atlas perfectly straddles the line between sport and everyday watch, and it’s got 150m of water resistance, to boot. This could conceivably be your “one watch,” and with pricing beginning at $1,410 (on rubber), it won’t break the bank, either.
Diameter: 38.5mm
Water Resistance: 150m
Price: $1,410+

Farer Lander II

Built around the venerable ETA 2893-2, the Lander II from Farer offers similar microbrand value to the Atlas, although with decreased water resistance and without the option for a bracelet. Still, the Lander II is handsome, sleek, and with its eye-popping blue dial, perhaps the perfect summer travel watch. (It’s also available in a different colorway as the Ponting at the same price, or in black PVD as the Oxley for $1,455).
Diameter: 39.5mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Price: $1,425

Hamilton Broadway GMT Limited Edition

Admittedly a large watch at 46mm, the Broadway GMT is powered by the H-14 automatic movement and features a city ring around the ceramic bezel for keeping track of time in foreign locales. Also available on a matching steel bracelet for $1,545, the Broadway is a versatile take on the GMT/world timer.
Diameter: 46mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Price: $1,495

Yema Superman Heritage GMT

Essentially a GMT-adapted version of Yema’s flagship dive watch, the Superman, the Heritage GMT is available in 3 Rolex-derived bezel color varieties, each limited to 100 pieces. With 300m of water resistance and a Swiss ETA movement powering its time-tracking capabilities, this Yema is another candidate for the mythical “one watch.” Just be prepared for people to confuse it with a certain watch from Rolex…
Diameter: 39mm
Water Resistance: 300m
Price: $1,499+

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Three Vintage Dive Watches from a Legendary American Brand

Founded in 1921 in New York, Benrus was once a player among the major American watch companies and produced a range of timepieces throughout its history. Benrus aimed to produce affordable watches by importing movements from various sources, and became especially known for its military watches. The name Benrus is a combination of the first and last syllables of its founder’s name, Benjamin Lazrus, who started the company with his two brothers.

Benrus (not to be confused with the modern microbrand Benarus) changed hands several times and survived the Quartz Crisis in name only, but the brand’s legacy has lived on in some sense via homages such as MKII’s Paradive. The brand’s military field and dive watches, particularly the field watch produced under military contract during the 1960s and the Type I and II divers, represent the brand to many vintage fans today. While the below three dive watches don’t quite have the awesome story of the Type I and II that was designed for the likes of special operations personnel and naval UDT divers in the Vietnam War, they still offer window to this interesting brand’s history.

Benrus Citation

What We Like:
Though the Citation name of this 1960s dive watch sounds odd, it is apparently named after a famous racehorse of the time. It’s got a cool turtle-like case shape, an automatic movement, a “cyclops” magnifier over the date, and an unmistakeable look representative of an era that now provides so much design inspiration for modern brands.

From the Seller: Overall this watch is in very good condition considering its age.

Benrus Diver

What We Like: This Benrus Diver from offers a cool 1970s aesthetic with a manually wound Japanese movement inside. At 37mm wide, vintage dive watches such as this offer a dashing look and fun wearing experience quite different from typically large modern divers. The manually wound movement also keeps it relatively thin, which makes for a handsome dive watch that’ll fit under a shirt cuff.

From the Seller: Case is in very good, all-original condition; dial is original with natural patina.

Benrus Ultra-Deep Super Compressor

What We Like: Benrus is one of several companies that produced essentially the same kind of dive watch in the 1960s. The Super Compressor was designed to react to water pressure in a unique way that actually tightened the gaskets with increased pressure. While the Super Compressor didn’t prove to be an enduring solution for water resistance, the story of its purpose-built and distinctive-looking design helps it remain an enthusiast favorite. Inside this example is an ETA 2472 automatic movement, and its steel case measures a highly wearable 36mm.

From the Seller: Fantastic original condition overall with minor wear consistent with age and use. Beautiful original matte black dial with creamy patina to the tritium luminous elements.

Why the Perlon Watch Strap Is Perfect for Summer

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Why the Perlon Watch Strap Is Perfect for Summer


From a sartorial perspective, summer presents both opportunity and challenge: find something stylish, fun, functional and — most importantly — breathable. We extend this logic to plenty of things: shorts, baseball caps, t-shirts, etc, and if you’re a watch nerd this goes not just for the timepiece but the thing that affixes it to your wrist. Yes, a dive watch or field watch is great for summertime wear, but only if you’ve attached it to your arm in a way that doesn’t feel hot, sweaty, itchy or heavy.

Every year I like to try out a new summer watch strap style. A couple of years ago I really leaned into the whole NATO thing to find that, while stylish one some watches, they don’t look great on everything, especially dressier timepieces. Their tight weaves also aren’t exactly breathable. Last year I got really into Milanese mesh straps, and while I stand by the style as a comfortable option they occasionally can feel too polished and, well, metal warms in sunlight. This year, though, I spent a whopping $16 on a perlon from Crown & Buckle and I’m finding the oft-forgotten style might be the perfect compromise.

A perlon, if you aren’t familiar, is a style of watch strap that dates back to the mid 20th century and was apparently invented by German watch strap maker Eluit. Conceptually, it’s similar to both the NATO and the Milanese mesh. Like the NATO, a perlon is made from light, durable and flexible nylon, though instead of one strip of tightly-woven material it’s made from a braiding of little nylon loops. As such, like the Milanese, the strap has a myriad of perforations, which makes it more breathable than a solid counterpart and the texture inherent in its weave feels dressier than your typical pass-through strap.

Further, my new perlon is light, crisp and has an elasticity that NATOs just don’t really have. It has a habit of feeling completely non-existent, which is exactly what you want from a summertime watch strap. But the best part about the perlon isn’t its light weight, flexibility, durability, breathability or dressy/casual duality – no, its the fact that when your wrist inevitably swells up in the blazing hot sun, you can make micro-adjustments to find the absolute perfect length for your strap on the fly.

See, if you’re dealing with a standard NATO, you’re beholden to the pre-cut holes that could either be too tight or too loose and if you’re rocking Milanese mesh you need to take the watch off to readjust the buckle. But the perlon allows for nearly infinite micro-adjustments thanks to its flexible, meshy construction and the fact that the tang buckle’s pin can slip into one of the strap’s many perforations. Feeling just a bit too snug? Just undo the buckle and reinsert further down the strap within seconds. Too loose? Do the reverse.

Like a pair of Patagonia Baggies or a Battenwear baseball hat, this adaptability, comfort and utility make the perlon the perfect summertime staple. And with that practicality, not to mention its relative obscurity, comes a dose of casual cool. Given that even the best options — including my Crown & Buckle strap or the beloved perlons from Eluit — cost less than $30, they’re pretty much a no-brainer.

Three Perlon Options

Perlon Braided Nylon by Clockwork Synergy $12

Linen Melange Perlon by Crown & Buckle $16

Palma Black Perlon by Eulit $24
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 New, Affordable Automatic Watch Has a Unique Feature

Scotland seems be having a horological moment, having produced one of our favorite young watch companies, anOrdain, and now, Akura, a new brand headquartered in Dundee. Akura’s first design, the Wayfarer, is currently live on Kickstarter — available in four dial colors (with two more potential colors that will be unlocked in the event that stretch goals are reached), it features a 41mm steel case, Miyota 9015 automatic movement with custom rotor, a custom bracelet, 22mm lugs, and, most interestingly, a second crown that controls an inner rotating compass bezel.

Compass bezels are relatively rare, and can be used for navigation. Finding one on an affordable (~$488) automatic tool watch is a welcome discovery, and provides a nice break from the standard count-up bezel found on most dive watches (though the Wayfarer isn’t a “dive” watch per se, it does feature 100m of water resistance, making it perfectly appropriate for the field).

Very Early Bird backers on Kickstarter will also receive a calfskin leather strap, while other backers can snag one for an extra ~$24. Check out the Kickstarter campaign via the button below for more images of the various color options and lume shots.

U.S. Presidents Relied on This Innovative Alarm Watch

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

It’s hard to imagine today that the rattly buzzing sound of a mechanical wristwatch alarm was once cutting-edge gadgetry. This was in the 1940s, however, and when the Vulcain Cricket was introduced, it overcame a number of technical hurdles to be loud enough, compact enough, and reliable enough to be a viable product. The first of its kind, an alarm was a genuinely useful function to have on the wrist. So much so that it found fame and took on a whole other level of status after being worn by multiple US presidents and becoming known as the “president’s watch.”

Firsts in watchmaking are always notable, but almost always require some qualification. The utility of an alarm on one’s wrist was recognized long before the Cricket, and a couple companies had produced alarm watches, but each had fatal flaws with alarms that weren’t loud enough or vibrations that adversely affected the movement. The Vulcain Cricket was not technically the first alarm watch when it was introduced in 1947, but the first to be practically successful (pocket watches notwithstanding).

Vulcain had to develop a special movement with multiple unique features in order to make the Cricket viable, let alone interesting and cool. The Caliber 120 featured one mainspring barrel to power timekeeping, as most mechanical wristwatches do, but also a separate one solely for the alarm due to its heavier power demands. The hand-wound movement offered 42 hours of power reserve for the timekeeping, and allowed the alarm to sound for around 25 seconds. Particularly clever is how clean and simple the watch remained despite its complex functionality: turn the crown one direction to wind the time’s mainspring and the other direction to wind the alarm’s mainspring.

The volume needed to be at least sufficient to wake you up, and this was achieved with a combination of solutions. The sound itself comes from a tiny hammer striking a metal “membrane.” It is then amplified via a cover which fits over the movement and, to let the sound resonate and escape, the case back is acoustically designed with holes similar to those seen in some string instruments. The hammer strikes around 1,300 times in the roughly 25 seconds of its loud, continuous ring until it audibly winds down — and it further vibrates palpably on the wrist.

All this results in a watch that looks pretty traditional, with only the addition of another hand on the dial for the alarm and a pusher at 2 o’clock that distinguishes it from time-only watches. The pusher is used to activate the alarm, stop it (important), and put the watch into alarm setting mode. One notable caveat is that the alarm can be set in ten-minute increments, but not down to an exact, individual minute.

The Cricket was successful and was followed by other notable alarm watches like the Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox and the Tudor Advisor. The Cricket itself also evolved with additional functions and more versions. One of the most notable such Vulcain watches was the Cricket Nautical released in 1961, a dive watch rated to 300m with an alarm that would be audible to the wearer underwater.

The office of president of the United States is full of rituals and traditions, and Vulcain was lucky enough to become part of one. After the White House Press Photographer’s Association chose a Cricket to gift Harry S. Truman a 14k gold Cricket in 1953 as he was leaving office, the alarm watch continued to be associated with US presidents. Vulcain has been clever enough to send Cricket watches to US presidents as well, but this wasn’t a simple case of product placement — Nixon, it is said, got his as a gift from the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors.

Lyndon B. Johnson clearly appreciated fine watches, as he is associated with both the Cricket and the other famous “president’s watch,” the Rolex Day Date. Johnson bought his Cricket himself in Geneva, the story goes, and had his initials, LBJ, put right on the dial. He later also bought 200 Cricket watches in bulk to give out as gifts during his time in office. There are (unsubstantiated) stories that the sound would alarm his security detail, and that he would set it to go off during meetings as an excuse to leave early. Up to the present day, presidents have been known to receive Cricket watches whether or not they are worn.

If these interesting features and stories weren’t enough to make the Cricket downright legendary, it was also the watch chosen by notable adventurers and mountain climbers. The modern Vulcain company, restarted in 2001 after the original company succumbed to the Quartz Crisis, boasts that the original Cricket’s assembly line survives. Modern versions are available today in various forms, some quite faithful to early models, and they represent a very rare current example of a mechanical alarm in a wristwatch.