All posts in “Watches”

Hamilton’s New Military Watch Takes Cues from World War II

Hamilton has a full archive of classic American military watch designs from which to pull — and they does so often. Their latest is a model based on not a wristwatch, as you might guess, but on a pocket watch, the Model 23 — one of the coolest from the WWII period, if you ask me. Thankfully, in crafting their homage, the modern brand chose to downsize the design to a more wearable 38mm from the original 50mm.

Powered by the ETA 2801-2 with 80-hour power reserve, the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Automatic 38mm features typical military-inspired pilot’s watch elements: a stark black dial with Arabic indices; an oversized onion crown; and a bi-directional countdown bezel. Though the crown doesn’t screw down, it still ensures 100m of water resistance.

watch
The Khaki Pilot Pioneer Automatic 38mm.

Courtesy

The original Model 23 was in fact a chronograph, as evidenced by the 30-minute counter at the top of the dial — which the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Automatic 38mm does not have. However, the textured dial, vintage-colored lume and and cathedral handset of the new watch provide a fun callout to the original pocket watch — one can easily draw a through line between the two.

Though it’s probably not my first choice for a set-and-forget outdoors watch — mine would need a screw-down crown and the count-up bezel of a dive watch for that, personally — the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Automatic 38mm makes a great, affordable pilot’s-type watch. Which is sort of how Hamilton seems to be positioning it within their catalog, anyway.

The Khaki Pilot Pioneer Automatic 38mm is available from the HODINKEE Shop and ships on an 18mm brown leather strap for $995. (Alternatively, if you’d prefer the “real deal,” you can still find the occasional Model 23 pocket watch on eBay.)

hamilton model 23 pocket watch
The Hamilton Model 23 military chronograph pocket watch.

Antiquesboutique.com

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The First British-Made Watch in Decades Is Genuinely a Big Deal

It’s been 20 years in the making for one British brand but even longer for British watchmaking as a whole: The announcement that Bremont has made its first credibly “made-in-England” watch movement is big news in several ways. It’s a milestone not just for the company and for the country — which was historically the proud center of watchmaking before Switzerland — but also for the watch industry at large where many others dream of bringing watchmaking (back) to their home countries. Gear Patrol joined Bremont in London for the launch of the movements featured in the new Longitude limited-edition collection and to see the watches first-hand.

The new Longitude LE Collection comprises 40mm watches in three variants with a relatively classical look. Right out of the gate, these new automatic movements are equipped with a silicon escapement and offer more than basic time telling with a couple complications: a power reserve indicator (65 hours) and a digital date display (meaning each digit is displayed via its own wheel beneath the dial rather than a single disc showing 1-31). As is the case with any Bremont watch, their impressive build quality is easily appreciated in person.

close up of bremont watch
The ENG300 movement is designed to easily accommodate different functionality.

Zen Love

Turn them over, and you can see the interesting and nicely finished architecture of the Bremont ENG300 movement (ENG376, in this configuration), as it’s called, through the display case back. The collection that debuts these impressive movements represents the culmination of the brand’s mission since its outset, but they also mark a new beginning: Whether the prices or styling of this particular collection is to your tastes, the real news is that the movement is designed to be produced at scale as well as adaptable to accommodate everything from simple three-hand time telling to a range of complications — and you’ll gradually see them powering new and established collections alike without a big price increase from those that currently use sourced movements.

Why is it such an achievement for a company to make its own movement? Watch movements are complicated and incorporate hundreds of tiny, precise parts that require specialized skills and the capacity to manufacture. While many watch brands are proud to display a “Swiss Made” label (even if they’re not based in Switzerland), many more dream of making a watch that’s genuinely and completely Made in USA or Made in France, for example, and serially produced — but few countries outside of Switzerland, Japan, China and Germany have the resources to produce mechanical watch movements and their myriad intricate components domestically. The mere fact that others haven’t yet done it and that it took Bremont nearly 20 years to reach this point speaks to just what a challenge it is.

bremont watch on wrist
The Longitued LE watches measure 40mm and come in three variants. This version is in white gold.

Zen Love

Bremont has said from the very beginning that their intention was to bring industrial-level watchmaking back to the UK, and now they’ve finally done it. It was always a lofty ambition to resurrect the past glory of English watchmaking that included, most notably, John Harrison’s marine chronometer, which finally allowed navigators to determine longitude at sea and revolutionize trade, exploration, colonization and the expansion of the British empire.

The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, became the longitudinal line (prime meridian) which marked the standard (Greenwich Mean Time) against which other time zones were set. To drive home the connection and make this launch and limited edition collection a little more special, Bremont partnered with the Royal Observatory, going so far as to melt down brass that marks the exact meridian line and incorporate it into the watches’ case backs. The dials feature a red line as a nod to the connection and the red, circular power reserve indicator refers to the ball on top of the observatory that drops on the hour and to which sailors would set their watches.

The limited edition watches come in three variations of steel (150 examples), rose gold (75 examples) and white gold (75 examples), each with a different dial execution. Expect that future Bremont watches featuring the movements (in other configurations) will be more affordable, but those who want a piece of Bremont history will pay from $16,995 for the steel to $24,995 for white gold versions.

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This Automotive-Inspired Watch Will Pair with Anything in Your Wardrobe

  • Brand: NOMOS Glashütte
  • Product: Autobahn Neomatik 41 Date Midnight Blue
  • Price: $4,800
  • From: nomos-glashuette.com

      In most cases, products that attempt to elicit feelings of sitting behind the wheel of a classically designed automobile fall short in doing so. Fortunately, that couldn’t be farther from the truth when it comes to the NOMOS Autobahn Neomatik 41 Date. One glance at the watch’s Midnight Blue dial is enough to send visions of rapidly rising speedometers and tachymeters through your head. At this point, you’d be forgiven for thinking this watch was solely an homage to the automobile — but you’d be wrong. We spent a week with the Autobahn Neomatik 41 Date, and can say with certainty that it’s so much more.

      From the Brand

      “The moon and stars are shining, as are the streetlights — and the superluminova on this watch. The elongated date window and the flowing curve of the dial are entirely new. The color of this Autobahn watch is obvious: midnight blue. Can a wristwatch give you confidence? It certainly can.”

      nomos watch front

      Gear Patrol Studios

      nomos watch back

      Gear Patrol Studios

      What We Like

      NOMOS is known for crafting watches with a distinctive Bauhaus style, and this defining characteristic is something we adore. Like the other NOMOS watches we’ve spent time with, the Autobahn Neomatik 41 Date exhibits incredible attention to detail, considered construction and functionality as well as a handful of unique touches that make it undeniably NOMOS.

      You’d be hard-pressed not to immediately notice the sweeping superluminova semicircle inset from the indices. In subdued lighting, it glows a bright blue hue — allowing the time to be read quite easily between the hours of 8 PM and 4 AM (when you most likely have less available light to read your watch.

      In addition to the superluminova, the expanded date window is a dial accent that sets the Autobahn Neomatik 41 Date apart. Not only is it unique in that it displays both the calendar date and the days that follow and precede it, but it’s also much further to the outside of the dial, in comparison to other watches. NOMOS attributes this to the new construction of the Neomatik calibre that the watch runs on (an in-house DUW 6101 automatic with a 42-hour power reserve). Our tester found it easiest to set the expanded date window with the current date in the center position, but also noted that one could easily set it as left-justified or right-justified if that suited their preferences.

      But it’s not just what’s on the dial that’s worthy of mention. The dial itself also warrants examination. As it reaches the case at the edges, the dial slopes upward gently. It calls to mind enamel gauge clusters of classic British sports cars, and also adds depth and dimension to the face of the watch. It’s enjoyable to look at as you glance down to check the time, and also showcases NOMOS’s ability to execute unique and intricate designs with its dials.

      The automotive influence also extends to the second and minute hands, where a racing-inspired red color dots the tip of the minute hand and covers the entirety of the sub-seconds hand (this red is also echoed in the “neomatik” splashed under the manufacture’s nameplate).

      We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention the strap the Autobahn comes on. Where many manufactures pay little attention to the arena, NOMOS extends its design expertise and attention to detail to the textile strap. It’s made exclusively for NOMOS in France, and is supremely comfortable.

      nomos watch

      Gear Patrol Studios

      Who It’s For

      Though the watch is inspired by the world of classic automobiles, you need not be a “petrolhead” to enjoy it. Like each of NOMOS’s other timepieces, the Autobahn Neomatik 41 Date is understated and elegant. It pairs with cuffed denim, a t-shit and sneakers as well as it does with a sleek grey suit and shell cordovan oxfords. And therein lies its beauty — it could well be the perfect watch for 2021 and beyond, where versatility and flexibility are paramount.

      Verdict

      NOMOS posits that the Autobahn Neomatik 41 Date can inspire confidence, and we’d have to agree. There is a certain air that comes with knowing you have a timepiece on your wrist that’s so unique. In testing, we got more than a few comments from curious onlookers in the vein of “What kind of watch is that?” It’s a great feeling, and one that alone justifies the watch’s price tag. But beyond anything else, the key takeaway with the Autobahn Neomatik 41 Date is that it’s incredibly refined, and could find a home on the wrist of anyone who appreciates design and attention to detail.

      Price: $4,800

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      Stay tuned for a special announcement from NOMOS regarding the brand’s collection in the coming weeks. To be the first to know about the announcement, sign up for our email newsletter here.


      gear patrol studios native driver

      Gear Patrol Studios

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Patek Philippe Just Dropped the Ultimate Green-Dial Watch

There’s plenty to be said about Patek Philippe’s quiet unveiling of the new 5905/1A: It’s sporty as hell. It’s in stainless steel — which, if you know Patek, is a big deal. It’s eye-wateringly expensive. (Par for the course for a watch like this, and not particularly notable, honestly.) But we’re simple people here at the Gear Patrol Watch Desk (perhaps I should be speaking for myself…), and what we noticed first was: it’s green. Like, really green — with an olive green sunburst dial.

But back to the watch itself. What is the 5905? It’s an annual calendar, meaning it can compute (in this case, mechanically) the day, date and month (including the number of days in said month) for an entire 365-day stretch without adjustment, with the exception of on the first day March. (February throws everybody for a loop — even Patek.) But it’s also a flyback chronograph with a 60-minute counter. Impressive.

This isn’t the first 5905 — there has been a platinum version with a blue dial (5905P-001) as well as a black dial (5905P) and a rose gold version with a brown dial (5905R-001). But a steel watch from this giant of Swiss watchmaking is rare: Brand President Thierry Stern has admitted that steel watches account for roughly 30% of the company’s annual output. Not a lot. So to get a complicated steel watch on a matching steel, Oyster-type bracelet is pretty special.

patek philippe, 59051a001det
The 5905/1A’s green dial in all its verdant glory. (How often does one get to use the word “verdant” in a sentence.)

Jean-Daniel Meyer

But back to the whole “green” thing. Wow, is green big right now. Everybody’s doing it. Even Rolex is doing it. It’s as if there’s an entire company dedicated to forecasting color trends and entire industries subscribe to its every whim and word. (Wink.) I personally like to imagine that there is an ancient Swiss oracle in a fuming portal the horological underground, located beneath the Jet D’eau in Geneva, who makes trend pronouncements, and the entire watch industry dutifully does whatever this being says.

But I digress. Green is in, people. (We even dedicated an entire section in our upcoming issue of Gear Patrol magazine to said trend — stay tuned.) There have been green TAG Heuers, green Timexes, green Seikos. I mean, it was only a matter of time before we got something stunning and green from Patek Philippe.

The 42mm 5905/1A is powered by the Caliber CH 28‑520 QA 24H automatic movement and is water-resistant to 30m. (The bracelet makes it look deceptively sporty, but do us a favor and don’t take this thing in the pool. The hour markers also aren’t lumed, so maybe leave it on the side table when you’re out on night maneuvers and take your trust G-Shock, instead. For everything else, there’s Patek.) It lists for $59,140.

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The Complete Buying Guide to Longines Watches

Welcome to Brand Breakdown, a series of comprehensive yet easy-to-digest guides to your favorite companies, with insights and information you won’t find on the average About page.

Longines is one of the nineteen watch manufacturers that comprise the massive Swatch Group. Located in Saint-Imier, Switzerland, the brand produces luxury watches with a modern internal inventory and part delivery system — it leverages its automation in conjunction with traditional watchmaking to produce nearly two million watches annually.

There are over 1,200 different models in the Longines catalog, though that number does take into account that every strap option or dial color variation results in a different SKU. This number of models available allows Longines to serve the diverse tastes of global markets — the brand achieves an enormous market presence by strategically positioning its watches at a price point within the Swatch Group below Omega and above Tissot.

Longines currently concentrates its sports sponsorships to alpine skiing, archery, and equestrian sports, with brand ambassadors such as Kate Winslet, Mikaela Shiffrin, and Andre Agassi. The combination of high-profile partnerships, the volume of luxury watches produced, and the winged hourglass logo make the Longines brand recognizable around the world.

Longines’ History

The history of Longines starts long before a list of mergers leading to the Swatch Group. The Swiss watch manufacturer was founded in 1832, and their breakthrough in watchmaking came in 1878 through developing the first chronograph watch movement, the caliber H20. (The H20 features start, stop, and reset functions controlled by a single monopusher in the crown.) By 1886 Longines was supplying pocket watches with chronograph complications that could be used to time professional-level sporting events, which began their connection with equestrian sports.

Longines began the transition from pocket watches to wristwatches in 1913 with the 29mm reference 13.33Z, a chronograph. In 1919, just post-World War I, Longines was named the official watch supplier to the International Aeronautical Federation as aviation gained popularity. During World War II, the brand was one of twelve companies contracted by the British Ministry of Defense to manufacture the W.W.W. (Watch, Wrist, Waterproof) for British soldiers, which are collectively known today as the “Dirty Dozen.” During these early decades of the 20th century, famous Longines wearers included theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, legendary actor Humphrey Bogart, and aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.

In the 1970s, Longines resisted manufacturing quartz watch movements and instead developed ultra-thin mechanical movements. These thin movements bridged the gap until Longines joined the Societe Suisse de Microelectronique et d’Horlogerie (SMH) in 1983 — the conglomerate that would continue to evolve into the Swatch Group.

Longines maintains detailed numerical records by the serial number of every watch that they have produced, and owners can request “Certificate of Authenticity” and/or an “Extract from the Archives” for detailed information about their timepiece. (This process is detailed on the Longines website.) Interestingly, the brand’s winged hourglass logo continues to be the oldest registered trademark in the world that is still being used for its original purpose.

Below, we’ve included a guide to each model line within the collection as well as several standout models.

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The Elegance Collection

DolceVita (Ref. L5.767.4.71.0)

For those who can’t seem to find the right sized Cartier tank, the DolceVita provides a compelling alternative. There are many dial configurations available, with the silver flinqué dial being the standout. (Flinqué is a method of patterned dial engraving.) Note the clean edges of the printed Roman Numeral hour indices and the LONGINES branding on the dial. 

Movement: Cal. L592 automatic 

Dimensions: 28.2 x 47 x 10.3mm

Material: Stainless steel

Water Resistance: 30m

Strap: Alligator leather

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Présence (Ref. L4.905.1.11.2)

The 40mm Présence is one of those watches that can play up: The red gold-colored PVD coating gives the wearer a superlative wrist presence without needing to overspend. This relative bargain still has the luxury Longines timepiece chops with a matte white dial and high-quality leather strap, while the caliber L892 movement found in the 40mm Présence offers a 72-hour power reserve. 

Movement: Cal. L892 automatic

Dimensions: 40 x 9mm

Material: Stainless steel and red PVD coating

Water Resistance: 30m

Strap: Leather 

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Flagship (Ref. L4.984.4.52.2)

If you’re looking to buy a luxury timepiece for a gift like a graduation or an anniversary, start here. Proof that “conservative” does not have to be boring, the Flagship is a crowd-pleaser, with one of the widest appeals in the entire catalog. The stainless steel 40mm case will fit a variety of wrist sizes and Longines’ clean styling allows the wearer to easily dress the watch up or down. 

Movement: Cal. L888 automatic

Dimensions: 40 x 8.7mm

Material: Stainless steel 

Water Resistance: 30m

Strap: Leather or bracelet

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Watchmaking Tradition

The Longines Master Collection (Ref. L2.793.8.78.3)

The Longines Master Collection is a great entry point into luxury precious metal timepieces, and it delivers with a punch — there’s no gold plating here. The ref L2.793.8.78.3 specifically is solid pink gold, and at 40mm, it’s both wearable and dapper. The brand calls the unique texture on the dial “barleycorn.” 

Movement: Cal. L888 automatic

Dimensions: 40 x 9.8mm

Material: Pink gold 18k

Water Resistance: 30m

Strap: Alligator leather

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The Longines 1832 (Ref. L4.826.4.92.2)

The 40mm Longines 1832 reference L4.826.4.92.2 features a beige dial that appears cream in a certain light. To reinforce the traditional Swiss design, Longines positioned the moon phase complication at six o’clock, which is complemented by the small hand pointer date. The Longines 1832 automatic movement has a 72-hour power reserve and can be visually appreciated through the display case back. 

Movement: Cal. L899 automatic

Dimensions: 40x 12.3mm

Material: Stainless Steel

Water Resistance: 30m

Strap: Alligator leather

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The Longines Heritage Classic Chronograph (Ref. L2.830.4.93.0)

The Longines Heritage Classic Chronograph features a tuxedo (black and white) dial that balances the two sub dials — a running seconds at three o’clock and a 30-minute chronograph counter — at nine o’clock using a bicompax layout. Historically inspired features of the Heritage Classic Chronograph include blued steel subdial hands and an international tachymeter scale on the outer dial. The multi-layer anti-reflective coating on the sapphire crystal is a noted modern touch. 

Movement: Cal. L895 automatic 

Dimensions: 40 x 13.6mm

Material: Stainless Steel

Water Resistance: 3 Bar

Strap: Leather

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Avigation

When thinking about flight-inspired watches, multi-time zone and circular slide rule timepieces often come to mind, though Longines takes a different approach. The Avigation collection of watches breaks down the pilot’s watch into a simpler format, while the three Avigation subcategories are highly legible and focus on the pre-jet era. These classic timepieces combine vintage styling with modern robustness. Many of the watches in the Avigation collection have vintage Longines counterparts.

Longines Spirit (Ref. L3.810.4.03.2)

The matte green dial with five stars is nicknamed the “IKE” and is the favorite among the Spirit sub-collection. However, the Longines Spirit is also available with black, blue, or silver dials as well. It also has a quick-change leather strap or you can purchase the watch on a bracelet for an extra $250. 42mm versions are available if you prefer a larger watch. 

Movement: L888.4 automatic (COSC Certified) 

Dimensions: 40 x 12.2mm

Material: Stainless steel

Water Resistance: 100m

Strap: Leather or steel bracelet

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The Longines Heritage Military Marine Nationale

The Longines Heritage Military Marine Nationale pays tribute to the Longines reference 5774, a watch issued to the Marine Nationale (French Navy) by Longines starting in the late 1940s. Today the case diameter of the Longines Heritage Military Marine Nationale has been increased from 33mm to 38.5mm for modern tastes, though it preserves the mid-century military ethos. 

Movement: Cal. L888 automatic

Dimensions: 38.5 x 12.3mm

Material: Stainless steel

Water Resistance: 30m

Strap: Leather

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The Longines Avigation Watch Type A-7 1935

The Longines Avigation Type-A7 1935 chronograph is a timepiece that you would see in the very early days of aviation. The most striking feature of the design is the 45-degree offset on the dial, which comes from a pilot’s need to read the time quickly without removing their hands from the aircraft’s yoke. The single-push piece chronograph pusher emanates from traditional pocket watch designs that contained a chronograph complication. 

Movement: Cal. L788 automatic

Dimensions: 41 x 14.1mm

Material: Stainless steel

Water Resistance: 30m

Strap: Alligator leather

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Diving

Longines’ Diving collection offers both modern and vintage-inspired dive options that appeal to diverse aesthetic preferences. Along with the distinct dive watch models available, there are different colors and sizes available, particularly in the HydroConquest line. Within the HydroConquest line, Longines offers both three-handers and chronographs, all with 300m of water resistance. Swiss manufactured quartz and mechanical movement are both offered, and the collection consists primarily of stainless steel cases with a few models that have gold-colored PVD coating for a two-tone look.

HydroConquest (Ref. L3.741.4.96.6)

The HydroConquest is a tremendous value in the Swiss sports luxury timepiece category. In a trend of oversized dive watches, Longines produces a refreshing 39mm version of it, though it only comes with an aluminum bezel insert. (The 41mm Hydroconquest is offered with either aluminum or ceramic bezel insert — a 43mm black ceramic version is also available for $3,725.) All HydroConquest watches are fully capable in the water, with dive extensions on the bracelets and a generous abundance of Swiss Super-LumiNova® treatment on the dial. 

Movement: Cal. L888 automatic

Dimensions: 39 x 11.9mm

Material: Stainless steel

Water Resistance: 300m

Strap: Steel bracelet 

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The Longines Legend Diver Watch (Ref. L3.774.4.50.2)

Many luxury Swiss watch manufacturers are currently offering bronze models, and the golden-colored case over a green dial of the Legend Diver is certainly on-trend. The Legend Driver’s bronze case will age over time developing a unique patina for each owner, though it features a titanium case back to keep the bronze’s oxidation off your wrist. The dual crowns are functional: One sets the timekeeping, and the other crown rotates the internal dive flange to measure elapsed time. Longines includes an additional NATO-style strap with the watch. 

Movement: Cal. L888 automatic

Dimensions: 42 x 12.7mm

Material: Bronze

Water Resistance: 300m

Strap: Leather and NATO-type straps

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The Longines Skin Diver Watch (Ref. L2.822.4.56.6)

The Skin Diver, with its 300m of water resistance with painted numerals, is a modern reinterpretation of Longines’ original dive watch design from 1959. As a bonus, it’s the same price on a bracelet, rubber strap, or leather strap, though the best value is in the bracelet version. Just about any 22mm strap is going to look great if you feel the need to switch it up. 

Movement: Cal. L888 automatic

Dimensions: 42 x 13.7mm

Material: Stainless steel

Water Resistance: 300m

Strap: Stainless steel bracelet (mesh); rubber strap; leather strap 

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Performance

Longines doesn’t purely focus on its rich back catalog for inspiration — the company is also introducing luxury timepieces with modern designs and features. Longines centers the Performance collection around the Conquest derivative, which is divided into three very distinctive sub-categories: The Conquest Classic is a contemporary design with a mid-size case, which you’ll recognize because its case shape is similar to that of the HydroConquest. Remove the Hydro and you are left with Conquest, a similar watch without the diving mastery. The third Performance sub-category is the V.H.P (Very High Precision), all of which feature quartz movements with an extraordinary level of accuracy.

Conquest Classic (Ref. L2.387.0.57.6)

The 36mm Longines Conquest Classic glistens in a gender-neutral and pleasing package, with forty-five Top Wesselton diamonds set around the inside of the bezel. What makes this Longines Conquest Classic unique is the black ceramic outer bezel for added strength and durability. In addition to the bezel, this the dial is highlighted by eleven Top Wesselton diamonds on the hour indices. 

Movement: Cal. L165 quartz

Dimensions: 36 x 8.8mm

Material: Stainless steel

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap: Steel bracelet

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Conquest (L3.777.4.76.6)

Models like the Conquest are in line with Longines’ initiatives for an appeal to a vast audience. This model is Longines’ purest form of its modern design language: Once the dive watch design elements are stripped away, the result is a clean and modern luxury timepiece. The Conquest offers dials in classic colors (silver, black, blue, and mother of pearl). In addition, Longines offers five case sizes (29.5, 34, 39, 41, and 43mm) as well as mechanical movements. However, the quartz Conquests are a mere $800, providing a compelling entryway into luxury timepieces. 

Movement: Cal. L888 automatic

Dimensions: 41 x 11.7mm

Material: Stainless steel

Water Resistance: 300m

Strap: Leather strap or bracelet 

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Conquest V.H.P. GMT (Ref. L3.718.4.96.9)

The Longines Conquest V.H.P. (Very High Precision) makes a sound case for the category of elite luxury travel watches: The user can easily swap between home and travel time with a simple push of the crown. More complex functions can be easily set using Longines’ V.H.P. GMT Flash app — your mobile device flashes a code using its LED light to transmit home and travel time zones to a sensor on the dial. Further, the Conquest V.H.P. is accurate to +/- 5 seconds per year. 

Movement: Cal. L287 quartz

Dimensions: 41 x 12.5mm

Material: Stainless steel

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap: Bracelet or rubber strap  

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10 Important Military Watches from World War II

Though the move from pocket watch to wristwatch was accelerated by First World War, it was really during the Second World War that the idea of a dedicated watch for military use came into its own. Developments in Italy just prior to the breakout of hostilities led to the military dive watch, while the Germans advanced the design of the aviator’s watch and the Americans mass-produced infantrymen’s timepieces on an incredible scale. Of course, it was ultimately the Swiss whose neutrality during the war aided their ascendancy to global horological domination, a position they still enjoy today.

Here are some of the most notable military watches developed and used during the Second World War by countries around the world.

The A-11

a 11 gear patrol

Omega Forums

Housed in a positively diminutive (by today’s standards, anyway) 30-32mm case, the A-11 was manufactured by famed American watch companies Elgin, Waltham and Bulova according to a standard from the U.S. military. Mostly produced with black dials, white Arabic numerals and hands and 60-minute gradations, so many were made that the A-11 is sometimes referred to as “the watch that won that War.” Rarer white-dialed versions are sometimes seen, as well as examples issued to Commonwealth forces under the “6B” designation.

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The 6B/159

6b 159 navigator watch gear patrol

MWR Forum

Produced by Omega, Longines and Jaeger-LeCoultre for use by RAF pilots and navigators, these watches featured white or black dials, Arabic numerals, central seconds, non-luminous, blue steeled hands and cases fashioned from “Duralumin” — an alloy of aluminum, copper, magnesium and manganese — that were fitted with steel backs. Interestingly, in the mid-1950s, the Ministry of Defense re-cased some of the old Omega 30 T2 SC movements from the Omega variants in new, stainless steel cases and provided them new dials.

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The Wrist. Watch. Waterproof. (The “Dirty Dozen”)

the dirty dozen gear patrol

Analog / Shift

Produced under contract to the British MoD, 150,000 of these watches were delivered to replace the various timepieces given the Army Trade Pattern designation. Contracted to 12 watch different companies — some of them big names in Swiss horology — they were delivered in late 1945, too late to see combat. Nonetheless, the Wrist. Watch. Waterproof. watches (which were only given their cinematic nickname by modern collectors much later) were built to high standards, with mechanical movements regulated to chronometer accuracy. Enough were produced that they can still be purchased today for a few thousand dollars.

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The A.T.P.

atp wtach

Farfo

Though often overlooked, the A.T.P. (“Army Trade Pattern”) watches, in addition to 6B/159 and certain other timepieces, were the true workhorses of British forces during WWII, not the more famous “Dirty Dozen.” These were watches produced by close to two-dozen Swiss manufacturers that all shared a similar feature set: 29-33mm chrome-plated or steel cases, a 15-jewel, manually wound movements, white or silver dials with luminous pip or baton indices and hands and central or sub-seconds. Produced in enormous quantities, they’re readily available on the secondary market today.

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The B-Uhren

b uhr gear patrol

Antiquorum

Watches are still produced today by myriad companies that take inspiration from this military classic. The Beobachtungsuhr (“observation watch”) was designed under specification from the German Luftfahrtministerium (air ministry) and manufactured by five companies: IWC, A. Lange & Söhne, Wempe, Lacher & Company/Durowe (Laco), and Walter Storz (Stowa). Two dial types, the A and B, were produced with slightly different layouts, and all were fitted into oversized, 55mm cases and were powered by handwound movements. The dial layouts, large onion crowns and utilitarian, no-nonsense looks of these watches has made them legendary in horological and military equipment circles.

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The Weems

weems second setting watch gear patrol

Analog / Shift

Though originally developed in the 1930s by Lieutenant Commander Philip Van Horn Weems of the U.S. Navy and produced by Longines, the “Weems” navigation watch concept was later licensed to Omega, which produced roughly 2,000 pieces for use by RAF personnel. (Jaeger LeCoultre also produced their own version). These unique watches, though small in diameter (roughly 33.5mm) featured a novel screw-down bezel that was used to synch the watch to a radio signal for navigational accuracy. Confusingly, they were also given the 6B/159 designation.

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The Canteen Watch

canteen watch

Menta Watches

The “Canteen Watch” was produced by Hamilton and Elgin for the U.S. Bureau of Ships and issued to Underwater Demolition Teams personnel, whose job it was to clear harbors of obstructions and ordnance and to gather intelligence ahead of beach landings. They utilized manually-wound, central-seconds movements and featured a unique twist: a special screw-on cover over the crown connected to the watch case by a chain. This, in combination with a crystal that was soldered onto the case, was designed to prevent water incursion — an early, American attempt at a dedicated military dive watch.

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The Panerai Radiomir

panerai radiomir

Fellows Auctioneers

Panerai’s first Radiomir watches were developed in 1936, produced in a run of 10 pieces in 1938 and improved upon in 1940 with reinforced lugs. Featuring oversized cases with luminous “sandwich” dials illuminated by a radium compound, they were powered by, at first, the Rolex cal. 816 (a decorated Cortebert movement), and later, by the Angelus cal. 240, an 8-day movement. These early Radiomirs saw service by the Italian Marina Militaire, and especially by the Decima Flottiglia MAS, an elite naval special operations unit that utilized manned torpedoes to attack Allied shipping and military forces.

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The Fliegerchronograph

fliegerchronograph

The Saleroom

Produced by Hanhart and Tutima in single and dual-pusher versions from 1939 and 1941, respectively, these aviation chronographs were earmarked for Luftwaffe personnel. Utilizing the cal. 41 from Hanhart, cal. 59 by Tutima (both dual-pusher designs) or the cal. 40 from Hanhart (single-pusher design), they featured nickel-plated brass cases, black dials with white Arabic numerals, central flyback seconds hands, 30-minute and running seconds counters and knurled rotating or smooth fixed bezels. A well-known, recognizable variant had a red-coated chronograph pusher, a design that’s still present in the modern Hanhart collection.

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The Seikosha Tensoku

seikosha kamikaze watch gear patrol

Matthew Bain Inc.

Seikosha, part of the Seiko group, produced different watches and clocks in the 1930s and 1940s for the Japanese military. The Tensoku (an abbreviation of tentai kansoku, meaning “astronomical observation”) was produced for pilots of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, the aircraft infamous for its role in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Roughly analogous to Germany’s Beobachtungs-uhren, they featured oversized 48.5mm cases, manually wound movements, large onion crowns, Arabic numerical indices and coin-edge bezels.

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Love Watches? Don’t Miss This Big Event in NYC

Hear ye, hear ye, watch collectors, enthusiasts and the horologically curious: one of the biggest watch shows in the United States is returning in 2021. WatchTime New York will once again be an in-person event after having gone digital in 2020, and no watch lover in the area will want to miss it. The website and magazine WatchTime will host 28 brands, retailers and many guests on Saturday, October 23 and Sunday, October 24 at Gotham Hall in Midtown Manhattan. It’s the place to be for any watch fan who can make it.

What happens at a watch show? Brands big and small will present their newest releases, many of which you may not have previously had a chance to see in person. You’ll also get to interact with watch brand representatives, retailers, collectors and those who generally share an interest in watches. There’ll be new models and collections on display from the likes of Grand Seiko, A. Lange & Söhne, Zenith, Oris, G-Shock and more.

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Watch brands confirmed to participate in the WatchTime 2021 event.

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In addition to checking out the new watches, you can enjoy panel discussions with industry experts on topics like women’s watches in 2021; the popularity of steel watches; what’s changed in watches since 2019; and other topics. In many ways, it’ll be like a really big watch meetup, and it’s sure to be a hoot. You can get tickets now for $30 per day and learn more about the schedule, exhibitors and panels at the WatchTime Events website.

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These Are Some 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 Citizen to Swiss-made microbrand offerings, these are some of the most affordable GMT watches available right now.

Victorinox Field Force GMT

skimresources.com

$375.00

You can get into a Swiss GMT watch for under $400. This Victorniox won’t have the same prestige as your GMT Master II, but it’s got a sleek, utilitarian black dial with the distinctive Swiss Army branding, a 42mm case, a date window and 100m of water resistance. With a quartz movement to keep it robust and affordable, this may be the perfect option for the budget traveler.
Diameter: 42mm
Movement: Quartz
Water Resistance: 100m

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Citizen Promaster Eco-Drive GMT

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$394.02

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 large (44mm), but it’s got a colorful style, serious dive-equipment vibe going on, and the battery should outlast you, given that it charges via sunlight.
Diameter: 44mm
Movement: Citizen Eco-Drive solar quartz
Water Resistance: 200m

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Alpina Seastrong Diver GMT Quartz

alpinawatches.com

$795.00

A step up in terms of fit and finish from the previous two entries, the Seastrong Diver GMT from Alpina is available in multiple dial and bezel colors and features a 44mm x 12.45mm steel case with a black coating, rotating bezel, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and quartz movement. These military-inspired dive watches will look great on a variety of straps, and the black dial/black bezel variant especially has a rugged feel.
Diameter: 44mm
Movement: Alpina AL-247 quartz
Water Resistance: 300m

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Maen Greenwich 38 GMT

maenwatches.com

$750.00

If you can find a stronger value for a Swiss automatic GMT, please, let us know. For almost half the price of most of its competition, the Maen Greenwich GMT (reviewed here) not only offers all the features you’d expect of much more expensive watches, but a solid build and a cool, versatile design — available in several interesting variations. At 38mm, it’s wearable as hell, too. We’re impressed and can only scratch our heads at how the brand can offer such value.

Diameter: 38mm
Movement: SwissTech S24-045 automatic
Water Resistance: 100m

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Yema Superman Worldtime GMT Steel

yema.com

$1,190.00

A GMT-equipped variation of Yema’s flagship dive watch, the Superman, this Worldtime GMT features a “maxi” dial meaning its indices are emphasized for maximum legibility and just a cool-ass look. With 300m of water resistance and the brand’s own in-house developed and assembled automatic movement powering it, you’re looking at a hell of a value and a versatile enough appeal to be the one watch you own.
Diameter: 39mm or 41mm
Movement: Yema 3000 automatic
Water Resistance: 300m

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Mido Ocean Star GMT

Ocean Star midowatches.com

$1,190.00

For a solid, refined dive watch from an established Swiss brand for not a ton of cash, you’re not going to find a better automatic GMT than this. As part of the Swatch Group, Mido has access to the excellent 80-hour-power-reserve automatic movement from its sister company ETA. The Ocean Start GMT is kind of a whopper in size at 44mm, but you’ll find that it’s exceedingly well built for the money.

Diameter: 44mm
Movement: ETA C07.621 automatic
Water Resistance: 200m

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Farer GMT Bezel Automatic

farer.com

£1,475.00

Built around the Sellita SW330 automatic movement and offering a rotating 24-hour bezel with colors indicating day and night, the GMT Bezel collection from Farer offers the microbrand value we love, decent water resistance and the brand’s signature vibrant look. The GMT Bezel is handsome, sleek, and with its eye-popping dial colors, perhaps the perfect summer travel watch. (It’s also available in different colorways, each offering a fresh and unique look for the same price).
Diameter: 40.5mm
Movement: Sellita SW330-1 Top Grade automatic
Water Resistance: 100

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Hamilton Khaki Aviation Converter Auto GMT

hamiltonwatch.com

$1,495.00

Admittedly a large watch at 44mm, the Khaki Aviation Converter GMT is powered by the H-14 automatic movement and features a slide rule scale on the bezel for all manner of calculations. Also available on a leather strap for $1,445, the Converter is a versatile take on the pilot’s GMT a là Breitling’s famous Navitimer.
Diameter: 46mm
Movement: Hamilton H-14 (ETA C07.111 base) automatic
Water Resistance: 100m

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Monta Atlas

montawatch.com

$1,950.00

One of our favorite timepieces 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. With its highly considered design, striking dial and comfortable bracelet, it’s worth every penny.
Diameter: 38.5mm
Movement: ETA 2893-2 automatic
Water Resistance: 150m

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Can You Really Get the Benefits of a Ceramic Watch for $80?

The ’80s are back, and there’s no watch more representative of that decade than a plastic Swatch. The new 1984 Reloaded collection pays tribute to the era with reissues featuring bright, clashy colors and geometric shapes, but made to feel very 2020s with the use of an innovative material and “sustainability” messaging: The collection uses Swatch’s still new Bioceramic, adding technical interest (and possibly practical benefits) to some fun, retro looks.

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34mm Swatch Gent Bioceramic 1984 Reloaded WHI_MEM M

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watch
 41mm Swatch Gent Bioceramic 1984 Relaoded GRE_MEM L

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Ceramic is a hot material in the watch industry, nearly impervious to scratches, remarkably lightweight and silky-soft to the touch — but it’s a rather premium one, generally found in watches from luxury brands from the likes of Rado to Omega, IWC and many more. Swatch’s Bioceramic collection, on the other hand, starts at around a cool $80, so you probably shouldn’t assume you’re getting the same kind of material that typically commands prices in the four-to-five-figure range. So what, exactly, is Bioceramic?

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41mm Swatch Gent Bioceramic 1984 Reloaded Yel_Race

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It’s a “mix of ceramic and bio-sourced plastic derived from castor oil.” It’s also claimed to offer some of the same properties that make ceramic attractive for watchmaking, like scratch resistance, lightness and softness — so is it ceramic or plastic? Both, it would seem. Ceramics and plastics each come in a variety of forms, and Bioceramic could perhaps be considered a variety of either one. (At the very least, “ceramic” sounds a lot sexier than plastic.)

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41mm Swatch Gent Bioceramic 1984 Relaoded BLA_DIV

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watch
41mm Swatch Gent Bioceramic 1984 Relaoded Rouge & Noir

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The new watches come in five versions with 34mm and 41mm diameters, all powered by quartz movements. In addition to the cases, the clasps are also in Bioceramic and the straps are in a “bio-sourced material” — in on other words, some form of bio-plastic. Plastic feels appropriate for watches like this, as they represent designs released in 1984, a year after Swatch launched as a brand. Though there’s no real cost difference from Swatch’s wider collection of watches, the properties of Bioceramic just might make these feel a step above.

The Swatch Bioceramic 1984 Reloaded watches will cost $80 for the 34mm variants while $90 will get you the 41mm model. The collection is available now from the brand online.

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James Bond’s Omega Seamaster Plays a Pretty Big Role in “No Time To Die”

If you’re a fan of the Bond franchise, you no doubt pay attention to what’s on 007’s wrist — after all, in many of the films, Bond’s timepiece plays a special role in helping the debonair British secret agent save the world. But this time somehow feels different. Maybe it’s because No Time To Die is Daniel Craig’s last film in the franchise, or because he had a hand in designing the watch featured in the movie…it’s tough to say for sure. But perhaps more than with any other film during Craig’s tenure, one is cognizant of the importance of Omega’s connection to the franchise, the filmmakers, the character — characters, I should say, as multiple actors wear Omega in the film — and to Craig himself.

If you’re not familiar with the watch, it’s the 42mm Omega Seamaster Diver 300M. It’s titanium and has a military-inspired design, with vintage-colored lume and the “broad arrow” symbol on the dial signaling Crown property — and it’s cool as all hell. I’ve been in rooms with 100 watch journalists — yes, that’s a real profession that some of us have, insane as it sounds — and I’ve yet to meet a single one who dislikes this watch. (Don’t @ me if you’re that person. Comments section is below, though.)

omega m2w bond
The watch is available on a NATO strap ($8,100) or a titanium Milanese bracelet ($9,200).

Gear Patrol

I was lucky enough to be invited to a preview of the film yesterday afternoon with Omega, before which our good friend Stephen Pulvirent — formerly of HODINKEE — moderated a discussion with Craig, Michael G. Wilson (the series’ producer), Raynald Aeschlimann (Omega’s President and CEO), and Arnaud Michon, the brand’s U.S. President. Craig himself spoke about the link between Omega and Bond, saying “I’ve been working with Omega for years, and we’ve been designing watches for the past 15 years. And that is such a testament to how collaborative this whole relationship has been. It’s just been such a pleasure for me to have a say. Of course these guys come with amazing ideas and I’m always bowled over. It’s very important, the watch he wears, and my connection to it.”

This connection was made stronger recently when Craig was appointed an honorary title of Commander in the Royal Navy, with the First Sea Lord in attendance. Given the Bond character’s Royal Navy background — Ian Fleming, author of the Bond series, served in British Naval Intelligence during WWII — and the government markings on the new Seamaster, the military link between character, watch, and actor seems to have been cemented in a way that’s lent further significance to this particular timepiece. “It’s a naval watch, and it feels like a naval watch,” Craig elaborated. “It looks to me like a commander’s watch. But it’s very, very modern, and to me that seems like the perfect balance.”

“It looks to me like a commander’s watch. But it’s very, very modern, and to me that seems like the perfect balance.”

Craig’s involvement in the design process this time was more pronounced. “Clearly I’ve said things, that it would be nice to do this, nice to do that…but what they came up with was way above and beyond,” he said. “Because it has a vintage quality about it but it’s incredibly light and very wearable. But it’s rugged enough. It’s light, but you could still smack someone in the head with it.”

Though Omega’s watches have always played a role in the Bond franchise for the past 25 years — think laser beams, mines, etc — the new Seamaster Diver 300M seems to get more screen time than past models. It plays a significant role in a crucial scene, but it’s also conspicuously present on Bond’s wrist in a sequence that sees him decked out in full naval commando gear — a testament to the past of the character, you might say. That the watch (the actual watch, not the prop from the film) isn’t a limited edition but a full production model is a significant touch: I can imagine dedicated fans wanting to pick one up not simply for how cool the watch is itself, but as a memento of Craig’s time in the franchise, and as a nod to the history of watchmaking, of the military, and to the character of Bond.

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You can spot the Seamaster poking out from Bond’s commando sweater on his left wrist.

Courtesy

Omega’s Bond watches have arguably only grown stronger over time. There are plenty of fans of ’90s, Brosnan-era “Bond” Seamasters, but I would say that the new 300M is perhaps the most considered of the crop. I won’t speak to the film — y’all can be your own judges as to its place in the greater Bond canon, and within Craig’s oeuvre — but as a watch guy, I can safely say that, in my own humble opinion, the 300M carries the most emotional weight, if the least physical weight.

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An Endorsement for Ian Fleming’s James Bond

The James Bond films are a 59-year, 25-film franchise that until relatively recently has been drowning in mediocrity. In an attempt to understand how such a study in averageness can breed a cultural phenomenon I’ve watched them all, watched them all again, watched the “edgy one” with George Lazenby, watched the new ones with Daniel Craig, even watched License to Kill twice — and License to Kill has all the intrigue and drama of Pauly Shore’s Bio-Dome.

I love the Bond franchise; I have ever since I first witnessed 007’s adventures on the big screen (it was Goldeneye — not the most auspicious start) and dove into the world of Aston Martin DB5s and shaken martinis. Then, this June I decided to finally read the books and explore the genesis of my favorite secret agent. Having just recently finished the 14-book series, all I can say is that it’s been a revelation and the James Bond we’ve been seeing on screen lately — moody, introspective, genuinely human — is getting closer and closer to Fleming’s original.

Astute readers will have realized that through a catchy title and compelling introduction you’ve been roped into another “The books are so much better than the movies” opinion piece — but this is a point worth making for those of you whose only experience with the British secret agent is through Connery, Moore, Craig or, god forbid, Brosnan. During his writing career, Ian Fleming produced 12 full-fledged Bond books beginning with Casino Royale in 1953 and ending with The Man With The Golden Gun, which was published in 1965, a year after Fleming succumbed to a heart attack. Along the way there were also two Bond short story collections (For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy and the Living Daylights), and he even took the time to pen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for his only son.

The books are incredible. Of course, From Russia With Love isn’t going to compete intellectually with The Brothers Karamazov, and it’s worth noting that, being a product of ’50s Britain, the books tend to have a not-subtle tinge of racism, misogyny and general insensitivity. But for what they are, for quick thrills and engrossing adventure, they’re unmatched. If there’s to be a Bond Dynasty (and at this point it’s safe to say there is), it would be a gross disservice to only remember Agent 007 from the films.

By way of illustration, in the opening of the one of the most critically acclaimed Bond films, 1964’s Goldfinger, Sean Connery infiltrates a Mexican drug laboratory using a grappling hook and a scuba mask inexplicably topped with a stuffed seagull. He then proceeds to set a bomb of plastic explosive, check his Rolex Submariner and change into a strapping white tux before the scene is set into chaos as the bomb explodes and Bond utters the phrase “At least they won’t be using heroin-flavored bananas to finance the revolution,” before killing another Mexican by throwing a space heater into a bathtub. We’re well outside the realm of subtlety here.

Compare that to the opening of Fleming’s 1959 book of the same name and plot:

James Bond, with two double bourbons inside him, sat in the final departure lounge of Miami Airport and thought about life and death. It was part of his profession to kill people. He had never liked doing it and when he had to kill he did it as well as he knew how and forgot about it. As a secret agent who held the rare double-O prefix – the license to kill in the Secret Service – it was his duty to be as cool about death as a surgeon. If it happened, it happened. Regret was unprofessional – worse, it was death-watch beetle in the soul.

And yet there had been something curiously impressive about the death of the Mexican. It wasn’t that he hadn’t deserved to die. He was an evil man, a man they call in Mexico a capungo. A capungo is a bandit who will kill for as little as forty pesos, which is about twenty-five shillings – though probably he had been paid more to attempt the killing of Bond – and, from the look of him, he had been an instrument of pain and misery all his life. Yes, it had certainly been time for him to die; but when Bond had killed him, less than twenty-four hours before, life had gone out of the body so quickly, so utterly, that Bond had almost seen it come out of his mouth as it does, in the shape of a bird, in Haitian primitives.

We’re not talking high philosophy, but there’s clearly a world of difference between the Bonds portrayed in film and literature. In Goldfinger, this gap is at about the average. Sean Connery does eventually utter the line “My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit,” with so much of the smug self-satisfaction that’s personified the Bond of film — but he doesn’t get anywhere near the camp-ness of Roger Moore, who more or less bumbled his way through 12 years of Bond.

Really the only film Bond that’s come close to an accurate representation of Fleming’s vision was Daniel Craig in 2006’s excellent Casino Royale. In Craig’s debut there’s still all the chase scenes and fights and gadgetry, but you get the sense that Bond — while still being a bit of an emotionally detached sociopath — can break down and be human every once in a while. The equally emotional and cunning Vesper Lynd (played by the dreamy Eva Green) certainly helps this along compared to the Pussy Galores and Honey Ryders of previous films. The scene between the two of them on the train to Montenegro is one of the best in Bond history and not once is the proper serving temperature of Champagne mentioned.

The fact of the matter is that we’ve seen a bit of a golden age of Bond on film and with a little luck we’re bound to continue to ride this wonderful wave of a darker, more human 007 with whoever’s next inside the tux. That being said though, if you’re craving more of this introspective, genuinely human 007 that we’ve been seeing in theaters there’s really only one place to go: all the way back to the book of Bond, chapter one, verse one.

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Get Unimatic’s Hot New Dive Watch While You Can

If past performance is any indication of future results — and we’re talking watches, not the stock market, here — you can expect Unimatic‘s newest limited edition watch to sell out crazy fast. The Italian watchmaker is a perennial hitmaker, mixing tool watch principles with stylish, minimalist design and regularly presenting fresh interpretations of its core models that keep the brand interesting and highly in-demand. And they’re at it again: this time, giving their flagship U1 dive watch a strong splash of orange.

The impetus for this new model was a collaboration with one of the young brand’s earliest retailers, Grimoldi, in Unimatic’s home town of Milan. The brand’s first product, appropriately named Modello Uno or U1, has always come in several versions with different bezel options, and it’s this model that gets the limited-edition treatment here, with bright orange for the dial matched to a TPU strap.

Orange dials on dive watches were originally developed in the 1970s for their strong legibility and are associated, most of all, with Doxa. Unimatic’s choice of colors is meant to evoke the ’70s and “visual codes associated with the marine world” (the announcement also happens to be right on time for Halloween!). The brand gets these limited editions right, in part, because of details like the dial’s lumed indices and hands with contrasting black outlines, as well as a subtle gray minute/second track.

watch

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Aside from the colors and design details, this limited edition is notable for one more major reason: it’s the brand’s first watch with a left-handed orientation — meaning the crown is on the left at 9 o’clock rather than the more standard righthand side of the case. It’s easier for lefties to use, perhaps, but such “destro” watches are also welcomed by those who find that crowns uncomfortably poke their wrists. It’s otherwise the same in terms of specs as other Unimatic U1 watches with a 300m-water-resistant, 40mm case (41.5mm bezel) and a Miyota automatic movement.

With only 100 examples available through the Unimatic website and Grimoldi stores, there’s a decent chance that by the time you’re reading this they’re already sold out. C’est la vie. If you’re quick, and lucky, you might be able to grab one for around $755, but otherwise you’ll probably be paying higher prices on eBay.

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How to Dress James Bond

Few get the opportunity to peek behind the curtain for a look at a James Bond production — which is why when Gear Patrol was offered the chance in October of 2019, we jumped. Traveling to London, we visited Pinewood Studios as a guest of Omega to check out Bond’s new watch, see what a machine gun-equipped Aston Martin looks like up close, and speak to some of the creatives who bring Bond to life on the silver screen.

Given that an Omega watch is merely a piece of Bond’s costume, we thought we’d give you a sneak peak into the design process for the rest of the secret agent’s wardrobe, along with the wardrobe for other characters in 007’s universe.

james bond daniel craig in no time to die, an eon productions and metro goldwyn mayer studios filmcredit nicola dove© 2020 danjaq, llc and mgm all rights reserved
It wouldn’t be a Bond film without the obligatory exotic location and accompanying swimwear photo op.

Nicola Dove

Suttirat Anne Larlarb, the film’s costume designer, had a room within one of the Pinewood facilities set up with costume samples from No Time to Die. One the more striking was a Japanese “nho”-style mask, worn by villain Rami Malek. Larlarb remarked that one of the most challenging aspects of creating this look was “getting the perfect expressionless expression.”

11th annual costume designers guild awards arrivals
Costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb, who designed the looks for No Time to Die.

Frederick M. BrownGetty Images

“One of the most interesting challenges of taking on a Bond film is that it comes with this expectation that you’re going to address certain things that a built-in audience expects,” she said. “You have a well-suited James Bond, you have villains that have become icons in and of themselves. And so to have a new villain, one that’s not been in the lexicon before, is actually a particularly juicy challenge, because the other villains that we’ve come to know through the history of Bond are so iconic — you have to outdo the last villain.”

This costume was made completely in-house — Larlarb has two tailors as well as cutting and sewing teams, and an in-house textile workshop to work on aging and distressing to make materials look lived-in and worn.

One of the most interesting challenges of taking on a Bond film is that it comes with this expectation that you’re going to address certain things that a built-in audience expects.

“The drama is dependent upon the lighting and the movement — just a slight cocking of the head to one angle or the other,” she explained. “When you look at it front-on it seems very expressionless and serene, but depending on the lighting and the body language of the person wearing the mask, you can get quite a lot of emotional range. It can feel very aggressive or very serene.”

ralph fiennes as m
Ralph Fiennes as M in his custom Timothy Everest suit.

Timothy Everest

Ralph Fiennes’s iconic “M” had its own sartorial challenges, though these were made easier when Larlarb simply followed the famed actor’s preferences: His suits are made bespoke by a tailor in East London at Timothy Everest, whom Fiennes loves, and the fabric used is one of Fiennes’s favorites from SPECTRE, though the suit and cut are both new. Said Larlarb: “The character is so steadfast and traditional, so it made sense for him to have a favorite suit or tailor and wear the same suit into the future, ad infinitum, but not have it be exactly the same.”

Just because shooting has begun doesn’t mean that the story is rigidly defined, or that there aren’t room for changes in both story arc and wardrobe along the way: “On the day that Ralph Fiennes wears this ensemble, because of where the script and story were developed up to that point, we didn’t quite know what was happening the next day in the story. We didn’t quite know what was happening the day before in the story,” Larlarb explains.

Everyone really pays attention to every character in a Bond film — it’s a particular type of gauntlet that’s thrown down.

“I kind of knew what we had done before and what we would do at the end. I at least want to know what the bookends are — how we start a character and how we finish a character. And then everything in between, I at least have that rule so that when I’m having a discussion with our director or with the actors and I’m trying to pitch an idea, it’s not done in a vacuum of that one moment. It’s done so that I’m always trying to make sure that the arc is there so that we can always follow the story.”

Madeleine, Bond’s love interest played by Léa Seydoux, has 11 looks in the film. Originally meant to look and seem cold in SPECTRE, her now-established history with Bond has lent her more of a sensual look vis-a-vis her No Time to Die costumes. (Though her character’s profession — that of a psychologist — means that the look was still kept fairly neutral.)

Moneyponey, a recurring favorite character within the Bond pantheon, features one dress from Paul Smith crafted entirely of recycled plastic bottles. “One of the things about working in contemporary film is that I always struggle a bit about the ramifications of what we do, so to be able to integrate something that’s thinking about the future of fashion and sustainability in a film that’s very much about moving into the future is a really important thing to me personally,” said Larlarb.

And what of Bond himself? The most iconic of his looks are formal — a suit and, perhaps even more so, a tuxedo or dinner jacket — lately made by none other than Tom Ford.

bond tom ford no time to die 2
Craig as Bond in one his bespoke Tom Ford suits.

Tom Ford

“Whatever the requirement of the costume — and when I say ‘costume’ I mean all the ensuing pieces, including the watch, the shoes, sometimes the foundations underneath including the t-shirt, etc. — it’s all a series of decisions and how we execute those decisions. And in the case of the Tom Ford suits, everything was a collaboration with them,” said Larlarb.

“What’s particularly fantastic about them (Tom Ford) is that they provide the suit, they provide the fabric, but in terms of the creative part of it, which is so much of what our jobs as the fashion department is, it still goes through the same process. It still starts from the script, discussions with the directors, discussions with the actor, what the scene requires, what kind of environment is it, what’s the mood — all of those things are boxes that I need to check off when I then approach the designer about what it is that I’m looking for.”

“When we knew we needed a day suit, I knew we would approach Tom Ford about providing one. The first part of the equation was they asked us to come to the Sloane Street atelier and have a look through all the swatch books. And we first asked if they could send them to Pinewood because it’s obviously a little bit of a trek. (Editor’s note: Pinewood is about 45 minutes from central London, without traffic) And they said well, you might want to come here because of how many swatch books we have. And there are something like 2,500 swatches. So there was an afternoon when I was there going through 2,500 swatches and kind of making the first pass of thoughts based on what our needs are.”

bond n peal sweater
Craig as Bond wearing a military-inspired ribbed sweater from N. Peal.

MGM

“I make an initial selection, we look at cuts of suits that exist — we know that for Daniel we’ll tailor that cut specifically to him, and then with the initial fabric selection, they’ll be able to tell me what what meterage is available in each fabric, and from that we’ll then decide which are the top contenders for the fabrics. Because for us, we need to be able to commit to something that we can have 33 of — 33 bespoke suits that covers the two or three precious, perfect suits, then 6-8 others that have to go through levels of action distress. And then on top of that, his photo double, his two stunt doubles, his driving double, all of those things. So the matrix of how all that happens kind of gets filtered into the design choice, because I might like a better fabric but there’s only enough to make two suits, so that gets discounted right away. So it’s like a Rubik’s cube, basically.”

We need to be able to commit to something that we can have 33 of — 33 bespoke suits.

So who, in such an involved process, has the last word on any given look? Turns out that it’s different people, depending on the circumstances: sometimes it might be Daniel Craig, sometimes it’s the director, and sometimes the buck stops with Larlarb. But, Larlarb points out, later in the film, when trust has been established, she has the last word. Regarding options for different costumes she says: “I would never just make one option available: I have a favorite, I have one that I could live with, and one that maybe is a left-field option that is obviously something to reject. We want everybody to have a stake in what they’re doing so that it doesn’t become a ‘whatever’ process.”

Larlarb, serene in person and happy to explain her design process, is clearly up to the challenge of adding to what is perhaps the most iconic sartorial pantheon in the history of modern cinema. “To me, costumes are an expression of a character’s behavior more than about the clothes,” she says. “But on a Bond film, we also have this need to remain iconic in our decisions. It’s not just a contemporary action film where it doesn’t really matter what they’re wearing. Everyone really pays attention to every character in a Bond film — it’s a particular type of gauntlet that’s thrown down.”

No Time to Die premiers on October 8th, 2021.

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Our Favorite Watches from Only Watch 2021

Events and limited edition announcements take place all year in the watch industry, but there’s nothing like the annual Only Watch auction: Benefiting muscular dystrophy research, it’s become a platform for dozens of watchmakers to produce something special and unique.

Each watch entered has to be one-of-a-kind, and while some companies might only offer an otherwise unavailable color, many watchmakers bring some of their most interesting and creative work to the challenge each year. Not only is it a chance for the brands to be a bit experimental and get some media attention, but new or unusual features that show up in these one-off watches sometimes signal future collections that will be more widely available. Anyone interested in watches has a lot to explore at each Only Watch installment, even if they’re not bidding themselves.

This year, the auction is taking place on November 6 in Geneva, but most of the 54 participating brands have already announced their contributions. Below are some of the standout examples from 2021 Only Watch, but from Hublot’s mostly sapphire crystal Big Bang watch (pictured above) to Konstantin Chaykin’s mind-blowing Martian watch, there are indeed many more fascinating works of horological art to check out on the auction website.

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Tudor Black Bay GMT One

Tudor always offers something notable to Only Watch. This year, it’s a version of their Black Bay GMT with a steel case that’s been treated to look aged like a tool that’s been living in a garage for 30 years. (It’s also reminiscent of, say, G-Shock’s worn-in-looking Full Metal watch.) How did Tudor achieve this effect? It’s a “secret,” and it’s so cool that many fans liekly hope for a similar production model.

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Baltic Pulsometer Monopusher Chronograph

Joining Only Watch for the first time, Baltic stands out among this year’s participants as a microbrand among mostly high-end independents and well established watch companies. One of our favorite value-focused watchmakers, the French company has created a vintage-styled watch featuring a pulsometer scale and a restored vintage Venus 150 chronograph movement from the 1940s.

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F.P.Journe x Francis Ford Coppola FFC Blue

Why is there a blue gauntlet on the front of this watch? Does it even tell the time? Francis Ford Coppola? What’s going on? That’s right, this watch was conceived by the wine- and filmmaker and executed by independent watchmaker F.P. Journe, who’s always a star of Only Watch. This is a watch hand like you’ve never seen — the fingers extend and retract to indicate the time thanks to some extremely complicated clockwork inside.

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MB&F HM10 Panda

You’ve seen “panda dial” watches before, but not like this. MB&F’s usual approach of creating horological wrist sculptures inspired by themes like animals here appears to take the form of some type of cyborg panda bear. It’s based on the brand’s HM10, which was meant to look like a bulldog, but here is tweaked with panda colors and even cute little ears. The large “eyes” are domed discs that display the hours and minutes, respectively. And, yes, you can actually strap it to your wrist.

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Girard-Perregaux Casquette

Girard-Perregaux made funky LED quartz watches like this back in the ’70s, but it’s somewhat unexpected for the high-end brand otherwise primarily focused on mechanical watchmaking today to bring them back — much less in a form that doubles down on its existing funkiness. The result of a partnership with Bamford Watch Department, the Casquette further stands out thanks to a case produced in carbon fiber and titanium.

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Like Vintage Motorcycles? Then You Need This Watch

Swiss brand Ollech & Wajs knows how to make a badass, no-nonsense tool watch — their modern designs are fresh but feel about as genuine as their vintage diver and pilot’s models. Their latest is an extension of their established formula, but this time based on a military motorcycle.

Collaborating with a Zurich-based, vintage motorcycle restoration workshop to restore a Condor 350 motorbike, Ollech & Wajs produced a watch to match, called the OW 350CI. It’s essentially a new version of the brand’s OW P-101 watch, one of the models that introduced the modern brand’s revival, but with some key changes. The base model has a highly legible design with a clear military inspiration (the brand calls it a field watch), but also offers the handy additional functionality of a 12-hour rotating bezel, which is a simple way to help you track a second time zone.

The specs and dimensions are the same, with an identical 39.56mm steel case with 300m of water resistance and an ETA 2824-2 automatic movement inside — but there are a few notable tweaks that give it a character all its own: You’ll probably notice the khaki green dial first (easily the dial color trend of 2021), and it comes on a leather strap to match it, echoing the colors of the Condor 350 motorbike. The bezel here is in bare steel, rather than the black coating of the P-101.

watch
The Ollech & Wajs OW 350Cl

Courtesy

The biggest difference, however, is that you’ll find the large crown on the opposite side of its usual position on the 3 o’clock side of the case. A 9 o’clock crown orientation is often referred to as lefthanded (or “destro”), and it’s particularly appropriate for a watch made for riding because a crown can dig into your wrist while gripping handlebars. Orienting the crown this way doesn’t require a lot of technical tweaking, but it does give the OW 350CI a more deliberate and special feel.

The OW 350CI isn’t a limited edition, but the first 56 examples will feature their production number on the crown. You can get one now directly from the brand online for around $1,240.

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The Hermès H08 Is Modern Watchmaking Done Right

Hermès H08, $5,700+

There’s something about the approach a “luxury goods manufacturer” takes to watchmaking — rather than that of a traditional watchmaker — that makes for some of the more interesting designs in modern horology. Of course, this is of little surprise. While most watchmakers are concerned with movement accuracy, robustness, and, increasingly, mining their archives for inspiration, a brand like Hermès is poised to approach a new timepiece from a purely aesthetic point of view, yielding a fresh-feeling creation that owes little to the traditional “rules” of horology.

The maison’s latest watch, the H08, is an automatic timepiece available in several configurations that’s meant to be worn every day. Without further ado, let’s see what we have, here…

Key Specs:

Case Diameter: 39mm
Case Depth:
10.6mm
Water Resistance:
100m
Movement:
Hermès Manufacture Caliber H1837
Price:
$5,700+

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hermes

Henry Phillips

hermes

Henry Phillips

Notable

As I mentioned earlier, the H08 is a collection in which aesthetics take center stage — though, this being Hermès, the watchmaking portion of the equation is still strong. Within the collection is an all-black model with graphene case; a DLC-coated titanium model available on one of two straps; and a plain titanium model available on either rubber or a matching titanium bracelet (our review model). Each is powered by the automatic Hermès Manufacture Caliber H1837 and features a specially designed typeface, a modern, thoughtfully designed case and a unique dial. In short, the H08 is a perfect example of the maison’s design prowess.

Who It’s For

While Hermès parks the H08 collection firmly within its Men’s line, it should be stated off the bat that the watch strikes us as perfectly unisex, and we’re sure many women will find its design appealing on their wrists — especially on the rubber straps (more on why, later). As for the male client, Hermès watchmaking is likely only on the radar of a very specific subset of folks: people who are watch aficionados and thus familiar with the maison’s forays into horology; people who are dedicated Hermès fans; and people who are true design nuts. It’s unlikely to my mind that your average dude, new to the work force, is going to spring for an H08 with his first bonus…though we see no good reason why he shouldn’t.

Alternatives

If you enjoy watchmaking chiefly for the aesthetics, then Cartier and its wares are no doubt on your radar. While most of their designs tend toward the dressier side of the spectrum, the medium Santos de Cartier model ($6,500), with its automatic movement, matching steel bracelet and classic, Roman-numeral dial, is perhaps a decent analogue for the H08. For another design-focused option, there’s the Octo Roma in steel from Bulgari ($6,100), which ships on a leather strap — it too features an in-house, automatic movement and unique case design. Finally, there’s the Tambour from Louis Vuitton ($6,050): with its drum-inspired case and striking dial, it’s a watch that’s sure to turn heads.

hermes

Henry Phillips

Review

For our review, I requested the H08 in titanium with matching bracelet. The case, though not particularly small at 39mm, is of course incredibly light and refined: vaguely H-shaped, it features an inner, square-shaped quadrant within which sits the round watch dial beneath a sapphire crystal. Though the case is entirely brushed, it’s brushed in different directions in different places: radially within the inner square section; vertically on the case top; and what appears to be horizontally on the sides, though, interestingly, these sides appear in two different shades — darker toward the bottom and lighter on top.

A screw-down crown signed with the Hermes “H” joins the crown guard-less case flush on its right flank, while the case back features a sapphire window through which the manufacture movement — with 50 hours of power reserve — can be viewed. (The back is otherwise adorned only with six tiny flat-head screws to attach it to the main case.) The bracelet’s end links join flush and smoothly with the short lugs and complete the look.

hermes

Henry Phillips

Speaking of the bracelet — and the reason I wanted to check this model out — it of course features thoughtful touches, such as the links, which are H-shaped and joined by polished center links. A push-button butterfly clasp joins the whole shebang together. While I appreciate the design of the bracelet — and it’s fairly comfortable — two things bothered me: the first is that the end links at the bracelet hardly articulate, meaning that the entire watch doesn’t hug your wrist the way it otherwise could. My second qualm is that the bracelet has no taper, which, to me, reminds me of cheaply made bracelets from smaller microbrands and smacks of a lack of refinement. This is a matter of personal taste, but I would have appreciated some degree of taper, personally.

I can’t speak, unfortunately, to the rubber strap options. Pricing for these is as follows: the titanium on rubber or webbed fabric is $5,500; the titanium with DCL coating on rubber or webbed fabric is $5,700; and the graphene model on rubber is $8,900.

hermes

Henry Phillips

However, I can talk about the watch’s dial all day: The outer track is sort of an anthracite grey with a slightly pebbled texture (provided you look very, very closely), inside of which is a smooth black chapter ring with white indices, inside of which is another smaller, grey circle with white minute/seconds ring and the “HERMÈS, PARIS” branding. The star of the show here in once again the dial’s typeface, which is unique to the H08 line and features thoughtful touches: the “4,” for example, is reversed on the dial such that one wouldn’t need to turn the watch (or one’s head) in order to read each numeral in succession. (The “8” solves this problem by being symmetrical.

It’s a hip, modern typeface that stands out for its multitude of different weights within each numeral — indeed, this type of numerology would undoubtedly not have worked well before the advent of the index surround, which contains the luminous material within. (My guess is that if this type of font were painted on a dial in the 1940s, the ink would have run.)

hermes

Henry Phillips

Even the handset on the H08 is interesting: the minute and hour hands are rectangular, the hour being entirely lume-filled, while the minutes is filled partly and is otherwise skeletonized — an interesting choice, and a cool one. I’m more ambivalent about the seconds hand: I like the orange-filled, arrow-shaped tip balanced by the circle-within-a-square tail, but am for some reason vaguely bothered by the fact that it’s only the diameter of the inner, circular ring. I understand the design choice, but also feel like it somewhat fattens the dial in a way that isn’t necessarily flattering.

Finally, my one super-qualm with the dial: the f*#@ing date window at 4:30. Tell me something, and tell me honestly: who, when designing a watch from the ground up (and who doesn’t work at Zenith) believes that putting a date window at 4:30 is a positive design choice? You have a brand new dial that has never been seen before, and you choose to stick the freakin’ thing between two other numerals? Get rid of the three or the six and put it there! Or put it vertically above the six! Do anything besides this! This is the type of shit Dieter Rams or the ghost of Walter Gropius would literally kill a man over. Please, for the love of all that is holy, stop doing this, Watch Designers.

Besides that, I loved the dial.

Verdict

I truly enjoyed my time with the H08, and though I had several qualms with it, I found it to be comfortable, light, and easy to wear. Its marketed as an everyday watch, which I certainly find to be an accurate description, though admittedly if I were traveling I’d probably spring either for a dive watch or a GMT.

Were the H08 a bit smaller, I think it could make for the perfect unisex timepiece, though again, I’m sure many women will purchase one regardless. I do regret not opting for strap-equipped option as, knowing Hermès, I’m sure these are incredibly refined and comfortable. Also, I anticipate that a strap would negate the problem of the non-articulating end links on the bracelet.

Overall, while I’m not quite as smitten with the H08 as I am with the Slim d’Hermès, I have to applaud the maison for following its own star, and not the vintage-obsessed whims of the greater watch world. May Hermès continue in this direction.

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Is Rolex Finally Making a Watch in Titanium?

ben ainslie and rolex yachtmaster 42 titanium

Ineos Britannia Team / C GREGORY

Rolex’s new watches this year were expectedly reserved. But it’s what Rolex didn’t announce that’s potentially one of the biggest moves from the brand in years, and it’s been right under our noses for months: Quietly, the brand has placed a prototype of its first titanium watch ever on Olympic sailing champion Ben Ainslie, and even hawk-eyed Rolex fanatics only just noticed.

Specifically, Ainslie has been wearing a version of Rolex’s 42mm Yacht Master in titanium since at least late 2020. It looks a lot like the Yacht Master 42 in white gold, but with some key differences: it’s got a cleaner look, lacking a date window; it’s fastened using a NATO-style velcro strap; and it’s made from titanium with a matte finish. This is just a prototype watch — there’s no guarantee that it’ll be serially produced (or that any final model would have the same configuration), but it seems to suggest that Rolex is seriously considering a watch in titanium.

That would be a big move for the brand, but Rolex fans are also excited about the way such a watch is being “tested.” It harkens back to the days when Rolex famously placed its dive watches on the wrists of COMEX divers, or on Jacques Piccard’s submersible as it plumbed the Mariana Trench in 1960; or its Oyster case watch on Mercedes Gleitze’s wrist as she swam across the English Channel in 1927. Those were the days when Rolex was all about tool watches meant for action.

watch
The Rolex Yacht Master 42 in white gold is shinier and has a date window, but otherwise has a similar look to Ben Ainslie’s titanium version.

Courtesy

The brand has since largely become so prestigious and swanky that many owners understandably avoid scratches. Currently available only in precious metals, the Yacht Master represents that image well — but it’s interesting to imagine that a new version in matte titanium with a date-less, almost Mil-Sub look could represent a pivot. But why would Rolex want to produce a watch in titanium?

Rolex certainly knows the merits of titanium as a watchmaking material, as so many brands and consumers do. We love it for its remarkable combination of strength and lightness that can make even a chunky tool watch significantly more comfortable on the wrist than if it were in stainless steel. It’s not only tough and light but highly resistant to heat and magnetism, factors that are often harmful to mechanical timekeeping. (It’s also known to be hypoallergenic.) And of course, sailing is a sport that requires perfect weight balances to maintain cutting edge speed.

sailgp sydney raceday 2
Sir Ben Ainslie, Helmsman of Great Britain Sail GP Team and his crew members celebrate victory during SailGP on Sydney Harbour on February 29, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.

Mark EvansGetty Images

So why wouldn’t Rolex produce a titanium watch? What you can be sure of is that if Rolex is going to do something like make a watch in titanium, it’s going to do it carefully, do it right and do it better than everyone else. Despite that titanium is all-around a more premium material than steel, the brand is also certainly aware that some customers will equate weight with value and find titanium to not feel as “expensive,” but if anyone can change that perception, it’s Rolex. (Though this would be the brand’s first time producing a full watch case in titanium, it’s used the material for the Sea-Dweller‘s case back.)

Titanium can also be difficult to work with due to its hardness and because it doesn’t quite take a shine like other metals. In recent years, however, watch brands have improved on techniques to finish and treat titanium to avoid oxidation that makes the material look dull and easily scratched. (It’s actually the oxidized layer that’s scratched rather than the underlying metal). In fact, titanium that’s been well finished and treated can have a unique and interesting luster all its own. It would be awesome to see how Rolex can improve on this.

For now, Rolex acknowledges that the prototype watch exists but isn’t commenting any further. Sir Ben Ainslie says, “The team at Rolex has been incredibly thoughtful by giving me a titanium Yacht-Master 42. I’m extremely honoured to have it, plus, from a performance perspective, every little bit of weight that we can save, helps us to go faster with the boat.”

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Want to Own the Most Badass Rolex Dive Watch Ever? Here’s Your Chance

There are badass dive watches and then there are really badass dive watches. And then, there’s a singular badass dive watch like no other: the prototype watch that Rolex made and strapped to the exterior of Auguste Piccard’s bathyscaphe Trieste submersible vessel in 1953 to test it at a depth of 3,150m. It’s an absolutely legendary watch and as funky-looking as you’d expect early, experimental dive equipment to be: It’s the Rolex Prototype Deep Sea Special N°1, and soon you’ll be able place a bid to own it.

This watch will go under the hammer at Christie’s Rare Watches Auction in Geneva on November 8, 2021. This isn’t quite the most famous watch that Rolex strapped to a submersible vessel and sent to the bottom of the ocean — that would be the Prototype Deep Sea Special N°3 that went 10,908m into the Mariana Trench in 1960 (and is now housed in a museum). But the N°1 is, of course, the first prototype that took part in this type of adventure (which Rolex has continued), and it marks the beginning of a very cool and interesting series of history-making events. For consumers, of course, this development led to Rolex’s most serious dive watch, the Rolex Sea Dweller.

The Deep Sea Special series of prototype watches were experimental and made to develop water resistance technology, so their look isn’t quite like that of any other watch you’d expect to wear on your wrist. With its 43mm diameter, it sounds just about wearable for modern tastes, but it’s also extremely thick with an unusually bulbous plexiglass crystal — though, not quite as remarkably bulbous as the later N°3 prototype of 1960.

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The Rolex Deep Sea Special N°1 will be up for auction on November 8, 2021. 

Courtesy

watch
The Rolex Deep Sea Special N°1 was tested to 3,150m underwater in 1953. 

Courtesy

For these reasons, this watch represents a rare opportunity (to say the least) for collectors, but there are even more “cool factors” that only make it more compelling: How about that massive Rolex crown logo at 12 o’clock and the wordmark at 6 o’clock on the dial? Pretty unusual. Also fascinating is that Rolex chose to make this badass among dive watches in a two-tone mix of steel and gold (in modern Rolex speak, this is called “Rolesor”) in the midst of the dressy 1950s. Even two-tone-haters might have to make an exception here.

Though it previously auctioned in 2005 for around $400,000 (CHF 322,400), you’d expect a watch like this to go for even more today. So even if you’re not in the bidding yourself, it’s worth keeping an eye on the sale in November.

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The Best Vintage Reissue Watches of 2021

There was a time, in the not-too-distant past, when if you wanted a vintage-styled watch, well…you pretty much had to buy an actual vintage watch. Now, that scenario is almost hard to imagine: In 2021, many modern watches go beyond mere vintage “influence” or “inspiration” and are often closer to near-exact remakes than ever.

Within this watchmaking renaissance, it’s great to be able to enjoy time-tested design with all the benefits of modern tech and materials — or is it?

With so many recent vintage homages, some watch enthusiasts fret about a lack of creativity in the industry: “What will a watch from the 2020s look like to subsequent generations other than a watch from the 1960s or ’70s?” Hopefully the future will offer fresh new visions of watchmaking alongside a healthy appreciation of time-tested designs of the past — but in the meantime, there are just a lot of very cool neo-vintage watches to enjoy.

Given the lack the hassle and uncertainty that comes with buying and maintaining vintage watches, it’s hard to complain about these vintage designs becoming more accessible: In many cases, the modern equivalents will be better made than the originals, and the buying experience far more straightforward. Despite any handwringing about originality in the watch industry, we can’t help but love and want many of the remakes that are coming out nowadays. Faithful vintage reissues are the dominant watchmaking trend of 2021 — here are some of the best.

Q Timex 1978 Reissue Day-Date

Timex timex.com

$169.00

Many of the most iconic watches of the last century have returned as modern, high-end watches in recent years — but they’re not your only choices for cool retro style and history: Affordable as always, Timex has continued to grow its much loved Q collection of classic watches from the era when quartz was actually celebrated. They offer a refreshing break from the snobbism of expensive mechanical watches, but also an excellent vintage style taken directly from the brand’s archives — the dressy new 1978 Q Timex Reissue Day Date being a perfect example.

Diameter: 35mm
Movement: Quartz
Water resistance: 50m

Tissot PRX

tissotwatches.com

$375.00

Part of the ne0-vintage trend has seen watchmakers looking to the nostalgia of decades other than just the ’60s and ’70s, as well. Tissot’s PRX design was technically born in the late ’70s, but it feels very ’80s, if you ask me. It has the hallmarks of other quartz watches from the era such as its sloping lugs and integrated bracelet design, making its character stand out among the many other reissues out there. The modern versions come in quartz, just like the originals, but for a few hundred bucks more, you can also get an automatic movement and even a cool waffle-textured dial.

Diameter: 40mm
Movement: ETA C07.111 automatic
Water resistance: 100m

Nivada Antarctic Spider

nivadagrenchenofficial.com

$773.00

Nivada is among a number of entire brands that have been resurrected to again offer watches produced in its namesake’s heyday (mostly the ’60s and ’70s, of course). The modern company is entirely dedicated to such homages, and among them is the relatively dressy Antarctic collection. The Spider model is a recent addition that features radial lines and vertical indices that together make the reason for its nickname readily apparent.

Diameter: 38mm
Movement: Soprod P024 automatic
Water resistance: 100m

Bulova Mil Ships

bulova.com

$895.00

Among its many contemporary collections, Bulova has selectively found the odd vintage watch to recreate. With all its history, the brand has several good options, too, and affordable examples like its Lunar Pilot (“Moonwatch”) and Oceanographer (“Devil Diver”) have proven very successful. For 2021, the company recreated a dive watch it never before serially produced, but which only existed as a prototype. Fans of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms will find a lot that’s familiar here, as well as appreciate a much more affordable alternative.

Diameter: 41mm
Movement: Miyota 82S0 automatic
Water resistance: 200m

Timor Heritage Field

timorwatch.com

$1,250.00

Like a couple other brands mentioned here, Timor as a modern company exists largely to recreate its most famous watches of the past. You can hardly blame them, as they were among 12 companies that produced one of the most legendary military watches of all time, the “W.W.W.” for the British military in WWII. They’re not the only brand doing an homage to this watch, but they seem to have really done it up and created a refined modern product based on a decidedly pragmatic field watch.

Diameter: 36.5mm
Movement: Sellita SW260 automatic or SW216 hand-wound
Water resistance: 40m

Accutron Legacy

accutronwatch.com

$1,490.00

If you dig the funky side of midcentury watch design, Accutron has a whole collection that’s sure to get your attention. The “TV” watch is just one example (and not the quirkiest), but it represents a period of several decades in which designers looked to a “space age,” and designs got experimental and sometimes a little far-out. It’s a brave move for a brand to rerelease these obscurities, as they’re not bound to enjoy the same popularity as the sport watches most other brands focus on — but it shows that there’s real passion behind the products.

Diameter: 38mm
Movement: Undisclosed Swiss automatic
Water resistance: 30m

Hamilton Intra-Matic Chronograph H

hamiltonwatch.com

$2,095.00

One of Hamilton’s strongest collections is its range of handsome, ’60’s-inspired watches that feel like they’re straight out of Mad Men. This year, the brand announced new chronographs featuring hand-wound movements and approachable 40mm cases, just like the Chronograph A and B watches from 1968 that they’re based on. Even more interesting, the movement inside was developed specially for these watches and exclusively for Hamilton by the brand’s Swatch Group sister company ETA.

Diameter: 40mm
Movement: ETA H-51 hand-wound
Water resistance: 100m

Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Recreation SJE085

seikoluxe.com

$2,900.00

The Seiko Alpinist that’s best known (and which the brand brought back in 2020) is actually not the original Alpinist, but a version from the 1990s. The original Alpinist — Seiko’s first sport watch — was born in 1959, and it’s this version which Seiko reissued this year. Like almost every watch of its era, it looks somewhat dressy from a modern perspective, but was famously intended for Japanese “mountain men.” In its modern limited-edition incarnation, however, it’s no cheap beater and lives among the luxury-priced watches of the brand’s Prospex collection.

Diameter: 36.6mm
Movement: Seiko 6L35 automatic
Water resistance: 200m

Airain Type 20 Re-Edition

Airain is one of the brands known for its Type 20 chronograph watches made for French military pilots starting in the 1950s. Much like Nivada above, the company has been resurrected today to make these vintage watches again, and the combination of design, size (about 1.5mm larger than the original at 38mm) and history make for one hell of a great looking modern watch. Here and there you can find remakes of iconic chronographs from bigger brands, but Airain also offers a pretty strong value proposition — and it even includes the now-exotic flyback function, which allows you to restart the chronograph at zero without having to first stop and reset it.

Diameter: 38mm
Movement: La Joux-Perret AM1 automatic
Water resistance: 50m

Zenith Chronomaster Original

zenith-watches.com

$9,000.00

Zenith’s modern Chronomaster collection is where the legacy of its famous El Primero — the movements and the watches of the same name — live. For a couple years now, the brand has been offering historically faithful versions of its first El Primero watches from 1969 that are accurate down to the smalest details, including sizing. While the brand has also given these designs modern interpretations (to excellent effect), there are examples like the Chronomaster Original, which recreates watches the famous reference A386. This is essentially the closest you can get to the El Primero’s iconic look without actually buying vintage.

Diameter: 38mm
Movement: Zenith Caliber 3600 automatic
Water resistance: 50m

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The Best Diamond Watches for Men

Guys love their rough-and-tumble tool watches and patina, but also their fancy, shiny timepieces. Masculine bling in the form of polished steel or gold is perfectly normal, it seems, so why are stones like diamonds overwhelmingly restricted to women’s watches? Can a mineral be inherently feminine? We’re simply talking about a type of rock, and this is the 2020s — gender norms beg to be questioned and transcended.

So, you’ve got to ask yourself: how do you feel about diamond watches for men?

The very idea of a distinction between men’s and women’s watches is more and more outmoded. Usually defined by size, brands are increasingly selling watches labeled “unisex” (not that it’s particularly helpful), but segmenting collections by gender is still typical. Many female horology fans wear watches ostensibly designed for men and feel frustrated that so many products presumably made for them feature stereotypical motifs like flowers, butterflies, pink, purple and, yes, diamonds. Diamond watches for men, however, remain rare, so why shouldn’t the norm-busting go in the other direction as well?

It turns out that these attitudes are more relevant in certain countries than in others, and that diamond watches for men are relatively popular in significant parts of the world (though there are also plenty sold in places like the United States, as well). We see celebrities wearing crazy “iced-out” full-pavé watches and the like, but for more regular folks there’s no reason that an interesting material should be off the table as an option as long as it’s tastefully integrated.

Why might you want diamonds on your watch? Diamonds do a couple things: they sparkle like crazy and they communicate value (you knew that). But they can also add interest to a watch in a few ways. First of all, they’re just objectively cool objects to look at up close and represent natural phenomena that any science buff should appreciate — being the hardest natural material known, formed under crazy conditions over millions of years, miles within the earth. The rarity and remarkable level of purity of gem-quality diamonds also makes them fascinating as well as gives them inherent value.

In addition to these physical properties, diamond selection, cutting and setting represent exactly the kind of skill and craftsmanship that watch enthusiasts tend to appreciate in other forms. This means that there’s more value and cost associated with a diamond watch than just that of the diamonds themselves, but also be aware that precious materials in general serve as an excuse for brands to mark up prices even further. If you’re interested in a watch with diamonds, here are a few things to consider, and a few options:

Carats: In diamonds, carats (also karats and abbreviated c, k, ct or kt) refers to the mineral’s weight, one carat being equal to 0.2 grams. Note that this is different than in precious metals like gold where the term denotes purity.

Natural vs. synthetic: Man-made diamonds are physically and chemically equivalent to natural ones, but they’re grown in a lab and are more common and affordable. Avoid any uncertainty regarding diamonds’ authenticity or origin by buying directly from brands or authorized dealers.

Ethical sourcing: There are national and international processes for addressing environmental and ethical sourcing of diamonds. Brands and authorized dealers should include language in their materials related to sourcing and be able to provide it on request.

Casio Vintage Collection A159WAD

amazon.com

$30.00

You probably didn’t expect to see something like this here. Within Casio’s Vintage collection of classic digital watches are a few special editions that are made in Japan and feature two small, natural diamonds as accents above and below the screen. Casio also distinguishes these models with a crystal that’s different from the typical flat type and features facets as if to echo those of the diamonds.

Diameter: 36.8mm
Movement: Quartz

Citizen Corso

citizenwatch.com

$340.00

With Citizen’s light-powered Eco-Drive line you can get a solid and practical watch featuring eight diamonds on its dial — and without the luxury prices associated with automatic movements that otherwise make watches like this expensive. Diamonds add a hint of pizazz to this handsome, everyday watch make it feel a little more special.

Diameter: 41mm
Movement: Citizen Eco-Drive quartz

Rado HyperChrome Classic Automatic Diamonds

rado.com

$2,550.00

The tasteful diamond hour markers on this subtle Rado watch don’t feel at all overly fussy or fancy — though they add about $500 to the price of a similar model without diamonds. The watch is further interesting as it offers a case and bracelet combining elements of steel, titanium and ceramic. There are other versions available as well, including one in 35mm.

Diameter: 42mm
Movement: ETA C07.111 automatic

Rolex Datejust 41

rolex.com

$11,600.00

This is probably more like what you expected to see here. Rolex has an in-house gemology department and like everything else the brand does, its gem selection and setting is some of the best in all of watches. Any Rolex watch is a kind of a flex anyway, but something like this Datejust in steel and white gold with nicely sized diamonds on the dial is another level. (The same configuration is available in 36mm.)

Diameter: 41mm
Movement: Rolex 3235 automatic

Omega De Ville Trésor

omegawatches.com

$11,800.00

Omega’s DeVille Tresor collection houses some of the most elegant dress watches available. Rather than on the dial (as in the above examples), Omega places diamonds all around the bezel — many bunch of them. Though housed in a stainless steel case, this is an exceedingly handsome example of a traditional mens watch style accented with diamonds in a natural-feeling way.

Diameter: 40mm
Movement: Omega 8910 manual

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