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The Best Watches You Can Buy Under $500

What’s the perfect watch? The one you’re wearing. And which one is that? The one you can afford.

It’s simple reasoning, but bears repeating in the watch world, where we are so often obsessed with the most pristine, gold-laden, house-costing timepieces. Yes, watches can be luxury goods, and those luxury goods are beautiful. But a watch can also just be the thing you wear on your wrist that tells the time and costs, well, not as much as a house. And — quote us on this — that affordable watch can still be amazing.

Affordable watches have the power to turn more people into watch nerds than haute horlogerie. Any one of these sub-$500 watches is going to make you feel good when you buy it, and feel even better when you use it. Because they’re not cheap or chintzy. They do what you need, for less, and shouldn’t you be saving to send your kid to college, anyway?

Affordable Watch Brands

Some of the best watchmaking companies on the planet make affordable watches. Their timepieces are well-made, and come with cool features, lots of interesting history and plenty of dashing, interesting and unique style choices.

Among our list of the best affordable watches, you’ll find repeated brands. That’s because a handful of brands make a bunch of the best affordable watches. But if you prefer a wider net, let us kindly suggest starting with one of these fine manufacturers:

    The Best Affordable Watches Under $500

    Orient Bambino

    amazon.com

    $110.00

    There are a confusing number of Bambino generations, with different functions, styles, and dial colorways. (Seriously.) Which means you’re spoiled for choice to find that one perfect mechanical dress watch for under $500—or maybe you can buy one for every suit you own.

    Diameter: 40.5mm
    Movement: Orient F6724 automatic

    Orient Mako II

    Amazon.com

    $129.00

    Orient — owned by Seiko since 20019 — decided to upgrade its Mako diver in the American market, and asked online watch communities for feedback. The brand came away with requests for a sapphire crystal and a solid-end-link bracelet. Particularly in its white-and-black dial, the new watch is a beauty.

    Diameter: 41.5mm
    Movement: Orient F6922 automatic

    Bertucci A-2T

    amazon.com

    $169.00

    Ever since surviving a Gear Patrol-induced stress test (read: being dropped off a balcony), we’ve always had a profound respect for this tough little brand, which often sells its watches with ugly plastic shrouds for extra protection. These are watches for the blue-blooded, outdoor-working everyman, and the A-2T, with its lightweight titanium case, hardy nylon band, luminous dial and unstoppable quartz movement, is the perfect watch for camping or yard work.

    Diameter: 40mm
    Movement: Japan-made quartz

    Casio G-Shock GM6900-1

    ebay.com

    $180.00

    What makes a G-Shock so damn indestructible? There’s lots of high tech design involved, but the “resin” (plastic) case does a lot of the work. The new GM6900 includes this, plus an outer steel shell that doesn’t necessarily make it more robust, but does make the classic design feel fresh and interesting. It’s also still packed with the brand’s typical suite of features, of course.

    Diameter: 49.7mm
    Movement: Casio 3230 module

    Swatch Sistem51 Irony Petite Seconde

    amazon.com

    $215.00

    Realizing that consumers wanted a mechanical movement for far less than what was already on offer, Swatch automated the creation of its Sistem51, which uses just 51 parts. And when the watches that contained these movements launched in 2013, they were a revelation in affordability. Today, Swatch offers the Sistem51 in all sorts of versions, from the funky (Originals) to the dressy (Ironies).

    Diameter: 42mm
    Movement: Sistem51 automatic

    Seiko 5 Sports

    amazon.com

    $221.00

    While the old Seiko 5 certainly deserves a place on this list, we couldn’t very well ignore the much newer Sports models, which were released in 2019. These feature day-date displays; unidirectional rotating bezels, the automatic Seiko cal. 4R36 movement with optional manual winding and a 41-hour power reserve, 100m of water resistance and a Hardlex crystal. Their proportions have also been upped to 42.5mm, so if you love the idea of an affordable automatic Seiko but want something larger than the old 5s, look no further.

    Diameter: 41.5mm
    Movement: Seiko 4R36 automatic

    Timex M79 Automatic

    Timex timex.com

    $279.00

    The M79 brings a classic look and marries it to a modern automatic movement and 40mm case. The style, recalls bicolored GMT bezels, but here it just offers the sporty look, a retro flare — and it does it for way less than you’d spend for the style otherwise. Other features include a basic automatic movement and one of our favorite touches: that awesome bracelet.

    Diameter: 40mm
    Movement: Miyota 8215 automatic

    Mr. Jones Last Laugh Tattoo Automatic 37mm

    ebay.com

    $280.00

    Crispin Jones, the founder of Mr Jones Watches, graduated from the Royal College of Arts in London and spent time building interactive sculptures before founding his watch company. His watches, including The Last Laugh, are meant to provoke thought as well as tell the time; this one, for instance, is a memento mori (a reminder of death). (Time is displayed in the skull’s teeth.)

    Diameter: 37mm
    Movement: ST1 721 automatic

    Dan Henry 1972 Chrono Alarm

    danhenrywatches.com

    $350.00

    Dan Henry is an unapologetic homagist: he makes watches that are inspired by, and sometimes directly mimic, the greats. This is divisive work, but among affordable watch geeks, he’s mostly beloved, because he does what the greats have done for much, much less. The 1972 Chrono Alarm is an obvious homage to the first ever black PVD watch, the Orfina Porsche Design Chronograph 1. Henry’s version uses a Miyota quartz movement, but the beautiful design is all still there.

    Diameter: 41mm
    Movement: Miyota OS80 quartz

    Seagull 1963 Chronograph

    longislandwatch.com

    $379.00

    Tianjin watch factory was a powerhouse during China’s industrial revolution, pumping out a number of watches, including the nation’s first mechanical chronograph, the ST19, made for its pilots. Today, the factory is known as Seagull, and it makes the Seagull Chronograph, an homage to that original watch. It’s one of the most affordable mechanical chronographs out there, with a great vintage look and feel.

    Diameter: 38mm
    Movement: Seagull ST19 hand-wound chronograph

    Luminox Original Navy SEAL 3001

    luminox.com

    $395.00

    The most classic Luminox watch made for the Navy SEALs still looks badass. It’s been resurrected in a form keeping close to the original, and it’s just about our favorite watch from the brand. Tough and legible with a tritium illumination and the brand’s own carbon material for its housing, what’s best about it is that it comes in under $400.

    Diameter: 43mm
    Movement: Miyota 8215 automatic; Sellita SW200 automatic

    Seiko Presage “Cocktail Time”

    amazon.com

    $400.00

    The Seiko SARB065 “Cocktail Time” was reminiscent of the Seiko 5, but just a little bit dressier: its movement is slightly upgraded, and then there’s the brilliant sunburst dial, with just the right amount of flash. However, Seiko has since built upon the popular model by placing it in its Presage family and bolstering the collection with more colors and variations.

    Diameter: 40.5mm
    Movement: 4R35 automati

    Le Forban Sécurité Mer Malouine

    leforbansecuritemer.com

    €408.33

    The Paris-based brand Le Forban Sécurité Mer, which burst onto the scene in 2020, revives the name and spirit of a company that made dive watches for the French navy starting in the late 1960s. The modern brand’s first model, a refined dive watch that recalls the designs of that era, has a perfectly sized 38.4mm case, a sapphire crystal and a Miyota automatic movement.

    Diameter: 38.4mm
    Movement: Miyota 8215 automatic

    Yema Superman Heritage Quartz

    Yema yema.com

    $490.00

    Yema, a French company with plenty of history has seen a resurgence thanks to its reissued Superman dive watch. While we love the automatic version, a quartz model is thinner, more accurate — and half the price. Choose from a few dial variations, and you won’t regret it.

    Diameter: 39mm
    Movement: Ronda 515 FE quartz

    Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical

    hamiltonwatch.com

    $495.00

    Hamilton offers a range of variations on this classic field watch with different dial and even case colors. The original, however, remains a dead ringer for several field watches worn by the U.S. military during Vietnam and afterward. No, it’s not mil-spec — but it is a Swiss-made watch with a killer American look.

    Diameter: 38mm
    Movement: ETA 2801-2 hand-wound

    Lorier Hydra

    lorierwatches.com

    $499.00

    This young brand has impressed us with its the quality and value it offers for the price. For under $500 (just), you get a 39mm super-compressor dive watch-style, a reasonable 100m of water resistance and a solid Japanese movement. With a steel bracelet that’s a lot of watch that you can happily wear every day.

    Diameter: 39mm
    Movement: Miyota 9015 automatic

Why Are Tourbillon Watches So Expensive?

In the late 1700s, famed watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet came to the realization that gravity was having ill effects on the accuracy of his timepieces. Horology at the time was confined to clocks and pocket watches, the latter of which were constantly stored vertically in the user’s pocket or horizontally on a table. Spending the majority of its time stuck in these orientations put strain on the hairspring inside the escapement, causing it to oscillate at an irregular rate, decreasing the accuracy of the watch.

Breguet’s solution was to create an escapement (the structure that regulates timekeeping and which you can often see oscillating through display casebacks even on basic mechanical watches) that was itself constantly in a state of motion. Called the tourbillon (French for “whirlwind”), the escapement is housed in a rotating cage that, because of the constant motion, averages out the effect of gravity when the watch is stuck in different positions.

Breguet’s invention worked for the pocket watch. But wristwatches, with the wrist’s constant movement, naturally offer the same gravity-fighting effect as the tourbillon mechanism. In fact, it’s been proven that tourbillons offer no more accuracy than a traditional escapement on a wristwatch, and are in some cases even less so.

In spite of the tourbillon’s evident uselessness, it’s become common among the upper echelon of the watch market. Most Swiss-made examples start at around $40,000 and price tags often break the six-figure barrier. You’ll find that many of the most expensive modern watches that cost well into six figures (and sometimes even more) at least include a tourbillon.

This is because tourbillons are arguably one the most difficult features for watchmakers and require expert hand-assembly. The tourbillon mechanism is tiny, weighing in at under a gram, and is usually crafted with more than 40 parts, typically finished by hand and made from lightweight metals like aluminum and titanium. They require a special set of tools and a lot of time to make — by only the most highly trained craftspeople. At least, that’s the way toubillons are traditionally made and understood.

tourbillion
A tourbillon mechanism made by independent brand Greubel Forsey.

Courtesy

Due to the cost of these features and their eye-catching complexity, they’ve become a prestige symbol that many watchmakers choose to display twitching away right on the dial. It’s a little ironic that the tourbillon has become part of almost every high-end watchmaker’s repertoire. Just about any watch brand operating in the “haute horlogerie” space will make this feature part of their halo product offerings — to the point that the tourbillon might not seem that exotic anymore.

Unsurprisingly, the tourbillon’s status has also created the drive for brands to offer more affordable versions. Some Swiss brands are even in this game, and manufacturers in China have managed to create respectable tourbillon movements that retail for under $5,000. Meanwhile, you’ll find brands you never heard of selling tourbillon watches for hundreds rather than thousands.

“Today we have production methods which allow us to produce spare parts in extremely high precision and acceptable quality,” independent haute watchmaker Thomas Prescher said in an interview with Europa Star. “So it is already possible to have extremely cheap tourbillons from the Far East for about $250.”

So, if the value of a tourbillon stems from the fact that it is essentially art — painstakingly crafted expressions of the pinnacle of watchmaking, even if they don’t have any real useful function — affordability comes at the cost of creating a less complex and less beautiful timepiece. It renders a mostly pointless movement entirely pointless.

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These Are 10 of the Best Tactical Watches

What makes a watch “tactical?” Does it have to look stealthy? Does it need to be digital, or analog? Does it have to give the user readings in temperature and barometric pressure, or feature a compass?

Truthfully, there’s no true single definition of what constitutes a “tactical” watch. True, many of the timepieces used by men and women in the military or in police departments have a certain rugged look to them, but any watch that can fulfill the needs of a professional working in the aforementioned fields could conceivably considered appropriate for “tactical” use.

So what are some common traits that many of these watches tend to exhibit? Here are a few that come to mind:

-Ruggedness. A watch that can’t stand up to the rigors of the field is useless to a professional soldier, police officer, outdoorsman or woman, etc. Shock resistance, water resistance and scratch resistance are key.

-Reliability. Whether quartz-powered or automatic, a tactical watch needs to work. If you look down and your battery is dead, or that sweep seconds hand is no longer sweeping, the watch is useless.

-Stealth. While a tactical watch doesn’t need to be PVD-coated or feature a matte finish, any minimization of reflection is a good thing, at least in a military environment. This is why some militaries require their soldiers to cover their watches.

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-Legibility. A watch that can’t be easily read, whether analog or digital, provides little utility to the user.

-Extra Features. While not strictly necessary, modern digital tactical watches often provide stopwatch functionality, timers, temperature readings, etc, which can be extremely useful in the field.

Below, we’ve outlined some of the best options for tactical watches currently available, some of which were chosen from personal experience in the military. Whether you’re active military or police yourself, or you simply want something to wear while angling, hiking or hunting that’ll stand up to the rigors of the field, we’ve got you covered.

G-Shock

Casio G-Shock DW9052-1V

Casio amazon.com

$69.95

$46.93 (33% off)

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. A longtime favorite of military personnel, this fairly basic G-Shock has everything you need, and nothing you don’t: 200m of water resistance, an ultra-durable resin body, a multi-function alarm, 1/100-second stopwatch, hourly time signal, auto calendar, and 12/24 hour time formats.
Movement: Quartz
Diameter: 48.5mm
Water Resistance: 200m

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Timex

Timex Command Shock

Timex amazon.com

$80.58

Crafted in a mold similar to that of the G-Shock, the Timex Command Collection of watches is built to take a beating. Water-resistant to 100m as well as heavily shock-resistant, they feature Indiglo light-up dials, durable metal and resin cases and stopwatch and countdown timers.
Movement: Quartz
Diameter: 54mm
Water Resistance: 100m

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Courtesy

Casio G-Shock Gulfman Tough Solar

Casio amazon.com

$220.00

$198.00 (10% off)

If you’re looking for a bit more out of your G-Shock but still want the brand’s signature toughness, look no further than this radio-controlled tank of a watch with Tough Solar charging. With world time, tide tabled and more, it’s the perfect tactical companion.

Movement: Quartz
Diameter: 46.3 mm
Water Resistance: 200m

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Suunto

Suunto Traverse Alpha

SUUNTO amazon.com

$549.90

One of the ultimate outdoorsman’s watches, the Traverse Alpha offers GPS navigation, shot detection and recording, weather alerts, a red backlight for nighttime use and a small light to illuminate one’s surroundings (just don’t activate it accidentally). A rugged, stainless steel knurled bezel ensures that you can knock it around.
Movement: N/A
Diameter: 50mm
Water Resistance: 100m

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Marathon

Marathon Navigator without Date

marathonwatch.com

$360.00

Originally produced for pilots and parachutists, the Marathon Navigator was recently upgraded with sapphire crystal. We field-tested one of these bad boys and we can assure you, its fibershell case, quartz movement (with date or no-date) and 12-hour bezel held up perfectly well.
Movement: ETA FØ6 high-torque 3-jewel quartz movement
Diameter: 41mm
Water Resistance: 60m

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MWC

MWC 45th Anniversary Titanium Military Watch

mwcwatches.com

£345.00

A little tank on your wrist. If all you need is the time and date, this thing will survive quite literally anything you can throw at it (trust us — we know from experience). The tritium tubes provide illumination so bright you’ll be forced to cover the watch on night exercises, should you go on any. Also: we have SCUBA dived with thing.
Movement: Ronda 715li quartz
Diameter: 40mm
Water Resistance: 300m

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Luminox Land Recon NAV SPC

opticsplanet.com

$495.00

The Recon Nav PC is an analog-display watch that’s nearly as feature-rich as many of its digital counterparts. Featuring a GMT hand, rotating dive bezel, tachymeter scale, removable compass, tritium tube illumination, date window and a 46mm carbon reinforced polycarbonate case, this watch is perfectly suited for overland navigation.
Movement: Ronda 515 quartz
Diameter: 46mm
Water Resistance: 200m

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Garmin

Garmin Tactix

Packed to the gills with tactical features, the Charlie is geared toward military and law enforcement professionals, though anyone can of course take advantage of all that it has to offer. With navigation, health tracking and even Jumpmaster features, this may be the ultimate tactical watch.
Movement: N/A
Diameter: 51mm
Water Resistance: 100m

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G-Shock

Casio G-Shock GSWH1000

Casio gshock.com

$1,000.00

The first G-Shock to take full advantage of Google’s Wear OS, the new GSWH1000 features an LCD touch screen display, customized dashboards, myriad sensors, and more. While it lacks solar charging, its wide feature set could make it perfect for tactical applications.
Movement: Quartz
Diameter: N/A
Water Resistance: 200m

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Marathon

Marathon Anthracite Large Diver’s Automatic (GSAR)

Marathon marathonwatch.com

$1,600.00

An all-black, automatic, tritium-lumed dive watch with an extra-grippable bezel and crown that ships on a rubber dive strap? It doesn’t get much more tactical than that. Marathon’s long history of designing and building specialized military watches should put you at ease.

Movement: ETA 2824-2
Diameter: 41mm
Water Resistance: 300m

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The Clone Wars: A Vintage Chronograph Returns

gear patrol issue 16

A version of this story first appeared in Gear Patrol Magazine. Subscribe today

Some vintage watches are so rare — and so expensive — that even the most committed collectors will never own them. Such is the case with a particular chronograph from Universal Genève called the Uni-Compax “Big Eye.” Produced for just two years in the mid-1960s, it was so named for its oversized 45-minute chronograph counter positioned at three o’clock. Available with either a black or white dial, this striking timepiece has become one of the most elusive watches in the world, in no small part because only 20 or so have ever surfaced. These days, they can fetch for somewhere in the ballpark of $40,000.

William Massena, a watch industry veteran, sought one for some time, but he couldn’t justify the price. That’s when he hit upon an idea: Why not craft a modern version that someone could buy? Massena was already set up to make this happen. His company, Massena LAB, produces special-edition timepieces. But the “Big Eye” was different. It’s an established design from another brand with a long history, and remaking it would raise lots of questions. For starters, is it even legal to do so?

analog shift big eye
A Universal Geneve Compax “Big Eye” sold by Analog Shift.

Analog/Shift

The short answer is yes: there is no design patent on the original “Big Eye,” which itself took inspiration from the dial of the Type 20 chronograph for the French military. But is it right to do so? What would watch collectors think? Would it live up to the original … or garner as much respect on the street as a Testarossa replica kit car? These are tougher questions to answer.

Direct rip-offs of watches currently in production — if they are complete with fake logos — are illegal and frowned upon, while watches that pay subtle homage to an era, like the Baltic Aquascaphe or the Brew Metric, are often very well received. Watches that copy designs long since defunct, however, reside in sort of a gray area.

Nevertheless, Massena got to work with a multi-pronged approach. Three years later, in 2020, he released two versions of his “Big Eye” that mirrored the original black and white models almost note for note — with the exceptions of a larger, 39mm case size (the original was 36.5mm); Massena LAB’s branding; and a new name, Uni-Racer. He outfitted the watches with hand-wound Swiss movements and offered them for sale at a price of $3,495.

massena lab
The trio of Massena LAB Big Eyes

Massena LAB

Some folks loved Massena’s recreations — including the judges at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (the Oscars of the watch world). Others … did not. “Plagiarism at its finest,” commented one reader of HODINKEE, the prominent watch website.

Why the vitriol? Ultimately, some purists believe that producing something remotely recalling another model — let alone largely copying it — is horological sacrilege, and it shouldn’t be done. Others take a more pragmatic stance: If the original watch is out of production, why shouldn’t it be remastered for the modern consumer?

william massena
William Massena

Jack Forster

“In my view, this is a far more honest approach to making a homage than buying the rights to a dead name and printing it on a watch with no pedigree,” reasoned another Hodinkee reader.

But Massena didn’t stop there. Next, he released the “Holiday” collection, a trio of Uni-Racer watches with bright, colorful dials, ones that never existed within the original model line. It’s much tougher to pin down what these watches are — slightly modified copies? Artful tributes?

Consumers must ultimately decide for themselves, but Massena is certainly right about one thing: “It’s really similar to making remakes in the film industry — some are good and others are terrible. Some help you get interested in the original movie…It opens a door to the past that may not be explored otherwise.”

We tend to think it’s a door worth opening.

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The Skydweller Is the Most Bonkers Watch Rolex Makes

Welcome to Watches You Should Know, a biweekly column highlighting important or little-known watches with interesting backstories and unexpected influence. This week: the Rolex Sky Dweller.

Underpinning almost every swanky or blinged-out Rolex is a tool-watch ethos. That means traits like practical design, legibility, robust build, automatic winding and, for the most part, simple functionality. It’s a formula that works exceedingly well and results in conservative watches that rarely require substantial updates. This is exactly why the the Sky Dweller stands out: it’s the brand’s most complicated watch and, frankly, it’s pretty funky for a Rolex.

Aside from the time and date, most complicated Rolex watches might feature a single additional complication such as a GMT or chronograph. You’ll even find a moon phase in the Cellini collection. Introduced in 2012, the Sky Dweller, on the other hand, features not only two complications, including a GMT and the rather involved annual calendar, but also unique ways of displaying information and controlling its functions.

rolex sky dweller watch

Rolex

The annual calendar tracks the month and date, differentiating between months with 30 and 31 days and only needing adjustment once a year, on March 1st. Rolex’s 9001 movement inside accomplishes this with only four additional gears on top of the existing architecture that displays the date — a solution that, by its very simplicity, helps keep the movement nice and robust. The display is equally unique, with an unobtrusive window next to each hour that symbolizes one of the twelve months of the year. For example, the window next to three o’clock will appear black or red (depending on the model) to indicate the month of March.

This is pretty complicated and unconventional for Rolex, but in addition to that is an off-center 24-hour ring to indicate a second time zone. This is a healthy amount of displayed information, and it’s all controlled by a traditional crown — but with a twist, so to speak. The crown is used in concert with the bezel in a system the brand calls Ring Command. In this system, the bezel is used to select a mode (e.g., one of the functions), and the information is then set via the crown.

In the second position (the first is neutral) you can move the main hour hand back and forth in hour intervals independently from the minute hand. The next position moves the minute hand, main hour hand and the 24-hour disc. It might sound a bit confusing, but it becomes intuitive as soon as you use it once or twice, and is in fact a pretty elegant and innovative solution — not to mention handy for traveling. Finally the last position controlled by the bezel lets you set the calendar information (in both directions, it should be noted, unlike many common and lesser watch movements).

rolex sky sea dweller

Rolex

Echoing its dive-watch cousin, Rolex’s Sea Dweller, the Sky Dweller’s name tells you right away that it’s a watch for pilots or travelers. While Rolex also serves those general demographics with its GMT Master II and Air King, the Sky Dweller is meant for another level of globetrotter: the one flying first-class. Like certain other Rolex collections, the Sky Dweller isn’t available in an all-steel model. The closest you’ll get is the most affordable configuration with a 42mm steel case and bracelet but a bezel in white gold.

That’s where the collection starts, at $14,800, reaching cruising altitude in full precious metals at almost $50,000. This is unambiguously a prestige statement watch that stands out even among Rolex’s collections, and it almost feels out of character for the careful and calculated brand. But like any Rolex watch, it’s got decent water resistance (100m), a solid base movement — and is made to be worn.

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All the Crazy Watches Celebrities Wore at Super Bowl LVI

The Los Angeles Rams took the title, but there was a lot more to see at Super Bowl LVI than football. Aside from the touchdowns, musical performances and epic commercials, there’s always serious celebrity spotting. And where there’s celebrity spotting, there’s bound to be some impressive wristwear. 2022 didn’t disappoint, either, and below are some of craziest and most interesting watches stars were stunting. There were multiple Patek Philippe Nautiluses, but that’s not all.

LeBron James: Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 Tiffany Blue

super bowl lvi los angeles rams v cincinnati bengals

Andy LyonsGetty Images

The Tiffany Blue-dialed Nautilus 5711 watch blew up the watch world when it was announced in late 2021, and has since been seen on several celebrity wrists. It’s easy to spot, after all, and this time LeBron James joined the likes of Jay-Z and Leonardo DiCaprio to sport that eye-catching teal dial.

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Jay-Z: Patek Philippe Nautilus

super bowl lvi los angeles rams v cincinnati bengals

Kevin C. CoxGetty Images

Jay-Z left his Tiffany Blue Nautilus at home for the Super Bowl and went with another version of the famous sport watch that remains a flex in any form. Known for his outrageous watch collection, this simple (apparently gold) Nautilus is possibly one of his more understated pieces.

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Dwayne Johnson: Panerai Submersible

super bowl lvi los angeles rams v cincinnati bengals

Rob CarrGetty Images

A favorite of muscle-bound action stars, it was fitting to see “The Rock” rocking a Panerai as he introduced the teams. Not just any Panerai, it was about the most badass version of the look the brand is known for: its Submersible dive watch. The big-0l’ 47mm version would be just about right for tree-trunk like arms like Johnson’s.

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Kevin Hart: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph

super bowl lvi los angeles rams v cincinnati bengals

Andy LyonsGetty Images

A known watch collector, funnyman Kevin Hart sported an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak peeking out from under his jacket sleeve. Look a bit closer, and you can see that it’s on a leather band in place of its famous bracelet (much like this one in pink gold).

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Antonio Brown: Richard Mille RM 11-03

super bowl lvi los angeles rams v cincinnati bengals

Steph ChambersGetty Images

In the stands with Kanye West, NFL wide receiver Antonio Brown wore a watch that tells you it’s a Richard Mille from across the stadium. This version of the RM 11-03 is in “NTPT Red Quartz” material and features a flyback chronograph and $1 million+ price tag.

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Ellen DeGeneres & Portia de Rossi: Patek Philippe Nautilus, Rolex GMT Master

super bowl lvi pregame

Kevin MazurGetty Images

Ellen DeGeneres was on trend with a Nautilus while watching the game with her wife Portia de Rossi. DeGeneres is an avid vintage collector, and De Rossi is seen here wearing a vintage Rolex GMT Master.

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In Praise of the One-Watch Collection

Not long ago I realized I am surrounded by collectors. They are everywhere and nothing is off-limits: sneakers, cast-iron skillets, small-batch soju, comic books, vintage bikes, vintage Prada, cameras, wine, motorcycles, vinyl, Linotype fonts, classic arcade games. There is no way to duck these conversations, which are as interesting as a slideshow of someone else’s vacation, even though I’ve learned to spot them coming. Collectors, at least the ones itching to talk about themselves, all have the same tell, a delighted little nod of feigned modesty, which immediately precedes long monologues about their cars or watches or bourbons or once, bafflingly, Crocs.

“Well, you see” — and here comes the nod and a conspiratorial tone like they’re finally revealing the dark secret of just how interesting they are — “I’m a bit of a collector.” Ah, yes, well. You don’t say. Tell me more.

To be fair, collecting can be a fine pursuit. Noble, even. The best collections arrange history into still life, the specific details and composition revealing odd little tidbits about ourselves as a species. The proper selection of objects arranged just so can tell a story — how Cubism evolved to express the anxiety of a rapidly modernizing world, for example, or how much ’70s car designers loved cocaine.

But collecting mostly seems exhausting. I know a man who keeps his tweed collection across state lines, piles of the stuff in a rented storage container in New Jersey, which he never sees because he’s too busy buying more tweed. A photographer friend once insisted I get myself “some real glass” — by which he meant vintage and blindingly expensive — if I planned to keep posting to Instagram; only a collector could figure out how to make a free app require several thousand dollars and the regular use of a darkroom.

Not long ago collecting was the purview of the leisure class and nerds. So where do they come from, these teeming hordes with all their stuff?

I say social media is driving the surge — platforms that let users feed themselves content of their choosing. As Hannibal Lecter explained to Clarice, we begin by coveting what we see every day. Now consider the average watch enthusiast and the boundless array of Instagram accounts, Facebook groups, forums and enthusiast sites available in his pocket at every moment — the staggering volume of horological pornography consumed in a given day, each example caressing the prefrontal cortex, stimulating arousal. The mind boggles. Then it yearns. Then it starts making demands.

There’s a better, not to say easier, way. First, find one thing you like more than everything else; something that fits you perfectly. If we’re talking watches, pick something you can wear every day, that works with a suit or jeans. Something that can take a licking and makes you happy every time you look at it. Take your time, don’t rush, do research. Buy it in person even if you have to travel. Spend money on it, even a lot of money if necessary, because the last part is the toughest and it might sting: unfollow all the Instagram accounts, bail on the forums, stop reading the magazines and don’t buy another damn example, for years or possibly ever.

Let your brain settle on the new thing. Contemplate it until the newness wears off, then just wear it. I keep on my wrist a weighty steel chunk of Swiss engineering, understated and unkillable and stamped with a logo that passes for alternate currency in every country on earth. It took me a long time to scratch up enough to buy it and just as long to get used to wearing something worth the cost of a decent motorcycle. Now I almost never think about it, but when I do it makes me happy; in that way, and because it will last forever, it’s an excellent value. As soon as I buy another watch, that value diminishes.

I’m not immune to the yearning. A new Patek Phillippe Aquanaut Chrono or a perfect old Cartier Tortue still occasionally pops into my feed, giving my brain an unwelcome tickle and riling up the imagination. Does that watch better represent who I am as a person? Or maybe a “weekend watch” really is a necessity like the magazines tell me. Certainly, in any case, a gentleman is not expected to wear the same watch in summer heat and winter chill?

But this is a capitulation to marketers insisting wristwatches are somehow more relevant the less necessary they become — despite having become, basically, jewelry: functionally unnecessary but good for an accepted form of adult dress-up. (Now I’m a pilot! Now I’m a diver! Now I’m James Bond!) In endlessly obsessing over the various movements, manufactures, fonts and complications, or deliberating which timepiece goes just so with your blazer, you’re ignoring the only pure function a wristwatch still provides: it’s a memento mori, a reminder that the time, not the watch, is what matters. Because that time can be spent only once, no matter how many watches you collect.

A version of this article originally appeared in Issue Nine of Gear Patrol Magazine with the headline “In Praise of the One-Watch Collection” Subscribe today.

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This Is the Premium Timex Watch We’ve Been Waiting For

Your typical Timex watch is inexpensive and pretty basic, but fun and nicely made for its price point. That’s why we love them, but how do you make a watch that’s even more quintessentially Timex? Designer Giorgio Galli’s answer was the S1 automatic watch which the brand released back in 2019: It featured a relatively involved design, higher-end materials and movement, and a bit higher price tag than most Timex watches. Now, with even more wearable, everyday sizing at 38mm, it’s arguably upped the Timex factor.

The most significant change for the new Giorgio Galli S1 38mm watch is that its case dimensions have shrunk from 41mm to 38mm. You can still buy the 41mm versions (currently available in two dial colors) if that sizing fits you better, but 3mm will make a big difference for a lot of wearers. The basic look and feel of the watch are maintained, with a clear, legible design, a host of interesting details and nicely finished architectural case that helps keep it firmly in the contemporary camp despite its classic cues. Sapphire crystal, common among higher-end watches but rarely seen at Timex, is another notable upgrade (without raising the price).

Courtesy

Timex Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic 38mm Watch

timex.com

$450.00

Available in three dial colors of blue, green and gray, another notable difference (we’d definitely call it an improvement) is that the hands are filled with Super-LumiNova rather than skeletonized as seen on the 41mm version. The watches are powered by the same Miyota 9039 automatic movement, which is a more premium option than is found in other automatic Timex watches. All in all, this is the S1 we wanted to see, but what makes it “the most Timex Timex” Timex ever made (if you follow)?

Mr. Galli understands the essence of Timex better than anyone: as Creative Director, he’s been behind some of the company’s most successful watches over the last several years. What does he want you to notice in the S1 38mm, and what can we expect from the line and the brand in the future? I put those questions and others to Mr. Galli himself.

giorgio in milan office
Timex Creative Director and designer of the eponymous S1 watch, Giorgio Galli.

Courtesy

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q. Timex says that the S1 38mm is even more Timex than any watch it’s made before. How so?

A. From day one, the Timex CEO asked me to create “the most Timex Timex ever made.” So I created the first GGS1 in 2019, a watch that combines our shared love of quality, accessibility, and great design. The new S1 38 is faithful to these important core values, but also has evolved by adding new features: a smaller 38mm case, with a double-dome anti-reflective sapphire crystal that provides the best performance in every lighting condition. I also added some new great colors, all based on love of travel and nature. These new details help elevate the overall quality, expanding the offering while keeping the line true to its spirit and being the most Timex watch we could make.

We were very happy with the first launch of the GGS1, and listened to our customers and to the market in order to provide a new version that would maintain the quintessence of the line.

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The Timex GGS1 is powered by the Miyota 9039 automatic movement, a more premium option than typically found in Timex automatic watches.

Courtesy

Q. How would you say that the S1 38mm is different from other Timex watches?

A. The GGS1 pushed the Timex boundaries but it did not stray from its core values. It is a product that enters in a higher price point compared to a regular Timex watch, but it’s filled with design and features that speak to its beauty. It allowed me to push the quality to a very high standard and to use refined materials, yet still deliver an amazing product at a reasonable price.

Q. The watches are full of little details and touches. Are there any you particularly like but which you feel might be easily overlooked?

A. The feature that I like the most, and that might be a little overlooked, is how the light reflects on the small polished radius of the side cut-out profile, and how it’s emphasized by the fine brushing for contrast. This is a detail that I am particularly enthusiastic about, the kind of detail that I was really looking to incorporate and which was not easy to achieve.

So it is not a detail that could be easily noticed in itself, but in the way it appears differently according to how the light reflects on some parts it speaks to my approach to the watch. It is, to me, the most representative and distinctive element of the S1, and I hope that people will notice it while wearing it under different lighting conditions.

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Mr. Galli’s favorite detail? “How the light reflects on the small polished radius of the side cut-out profile.”

Courtesy

Q. What influences were most important to you in designing the S1 collection?

A. The GGS1 is a result of the many experiences I have encountered over the past 35 years of watch design. From creating small details that tell a story to inventing new features, all of these experiences had influence over the GGS1, but for me, as a designer, the characteristics that define me the most are: simplicity, clear and thoughtful design and great details. So the S1 is a combination of small elements that are coming from past and recent work, blending into a design that represents my personality.

Q. Can we expect that the higher-end materials, movements and level of design detail found in the GGS1 will trickle down to other Timex collections in the future?

A. The GGS1 collection was developed to deliver the best design at an affordable price that represents me as a designer but that also respects the DNA of Timex. It is also a celebration of a long-standing relationship between me, as creative director, and Timex.

The S1 is the first generation of Timex products that will live independently from the original brand positioning. As for higher-end materials and level of design trickling down to other Timex collections in the future…anything is possible.

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Barton’s Watch Roll Is Sleek, Stylish and Ready to Go Wherever You Do

No matter what time of year it is, it always pays to have options — especially when you’re traveling or on the move. Case in point, we love to travel with more than one watch, but that presents a difficult question: What’s the best way to bring our favorite watches with us — without worrying about damaging them in process? Barton’s Leather Watch Roll Travel Case manages to tick all the boxes when it comes to taking your timepieces on the go. Crafted with an eco-friendly recycled leather and closed by four stainless steel snap closures, the exterior is stitched together to be sturdy and hold up under pressure. The interior features a plush microsuede and three removable pillows; while you might be sprinting to your next layover flight or tossing your bag into a storage bin, your watches will still be safe and sound (and traveling in style). With all the details taken care of, it’s clear Barton’s take on a watch roll is designed to hit the road. That said, Barton’s Leather Watch Roll Travel Case looks so good — we’re considering using it as an at-home display case, no suitcase required.

Price: $69

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These Perpetual Calendars Are Some of the Best Watches from Patek Philippe

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.

Most people around the world track time using the Gregorian Calendar, brought to public use in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII, as it was (and remains today) far more accurate than previous calendars. In the Gregorian Calendar, leap years compensate for the Earth’s fractional 365.2425-day trip around the sun. Leap years effectively average out our years to a tidy 365 days, but even this system is not exact, because the actual solar year is 365.24667 days. Because of this slight inexactitude of the Gregorian Calendar, after 400 years our timekeeping ends up three days ahead of the sun’s actual rotation. So, we drop those extra three days by skipping the leap year every 100 years, meaning we only do this three times in 400 years.

You follow all that? Given the complex anomalies of our calendar, fashioning a tiny mechanical device that can track all of this information accurately is an incredible accomplishment. Timepieces that incorporate this information are called “perpetual calendars,” and it was Patek Philippe that led the development of fitting this feat of human engineering into small wristwatches.

To better understand perpetual calendar watches, consider the following diagram. You’ll see that as watches extend the time interval that they track from seconds to minutes, all the way out to leap years, the complexity of the movement advances from the simplest mechanical timekeepers like stopwatches to the perpetual calendar, with a number of increasingly complex mechanisms in between.

Patek-Perpetual-Calendar-Guide-inline-1

Mechanical watches consist of a power source (the mainspring and barrel), the transmission that controls the rate at which the hands and other indicators move (the gear train), and a power distribution and regulation device (the escapement). To appreciate what goes into a perpetual calendar watch, we’ll focus on the gear train.

The mainspring (our power source) turns the barrel cog that drives the gear train. By varying the size of the subsequent cogs in the gear train, the ratios work out to produce the movement of the various hands that subdivide time into seconds, minutes, hours, days, and so on.

As we add longer and longer subdivisions of time, the gear train grows more and more elaborate. As you can imagine, the gear train of a perpetual calendar is one of the most complex ever devised. But far more than mere gear ratios are involved when a movement compensates for the variances in month length and leap years. To accomplish this, myriad clever sub-mechanisms allow the watch to run perpetually without adjustment for up to 100 years, at which point it needs to be adjusted by one day (see above for a more detailed explanation).

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Notable Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Watches

The British watchmaker Thomas Mudge built the first working perpetual calendar pocket watch in 1762, and then watchmakers ignored (or avoided, perhaps) the grueling complication until Patek Philippe executed one for a pocket watch in 1864. In 1898 the maison built the world’s first compact perpetual calendar for a woman’s pendant watch, and in 1925 — after wristwatches had become in vogue for men — Patek used the same compact movement inside the world’s first perpetual calendar wristwatch, a one-off produced for a wealthy collector named Thomas Emery.

Below we take a look at some of the mainstays of the Patek Philippe perpetual calendar lineage. There have been many different perpetual calendar references to date from Patek, so we have picked a few as milestones in this field of rarified timepieces.

Patek Philippe Reference 1526

Patek-Philippe-Reference-1526-Gear-Patrol

It wasn’t until 1941 that Patek began to produce a series of perpetual calendar wristwatches, an unexpected product as WWII was raging across Europe. Nonetheless, the elegant 1526 came in a solid yellow gold Calatrava case measuring just 34mm. Its relatively blank dial belied the incredible complexity of the movement inside. Foregoing a year and leap year indicator on the dial but including a traditional moon phase complication, this watch set the understated tone that would persist in Patek’s perpetual calendars.

Where some brands today make a show of every possible complication of their perpetual calendars — and sometimes the movement itself via skeletonized dials — Patek continues to prioritize elegance over complexity, as is the brand’s wont. The 1526 was produced until 1952, with only 210 examples leaving the manufacture, most in yellow gold, a few in pink gold, and just one (that anyone knows of) in stainless steel.

Patek Philippe Reference 1518

Patek-Philippe-Reference-1518-Gear-Patrol

In 1941 Patek also released the first serially produced annual calendar with chronograph and moon phase complications. Sometimes considered a “grand complication” — a watch that, most agree, features three or more significant complications — the 1518 is a true mechanical marvel at just 35mm.

Among the gold models were a few exceptionally rare stainless steel models, one of which held the record for the most expensive wristwatch until Paul Newman’s Daytona supplanted it. Among Patek collectors, students of horology, and even watchmakers, the 1518 is an oft-cited holy grail, especially in stainless steel.

Patek Philippe Reference 2499

Patek-Philippe-Reference-2499-Gear-Patrol

In 1951, Patek Philippe brought out the venerable 2499, a perpetual calendar with full chronograph function and a moon phase complication, and the successor to the famous 1518. At 37.6mm in diameter, the 2499 was a little large for its day, but given the machine running inside it is still considered a marvel of micro-mechanical engineering. The 2499 was in production until the mid 1980s, and only 349 examples were produced. Patek updated the 2499 from time to time, changing the shape of the chronograph pushers, replacing numerals with stick markers, and so on, but the movement inside remained largely unchanged.

Patek Philippe Reference 3449

Patek-Philippe-Reference-3449-Gear-Patrol

In 1961, Patek Philippe issued only three examples of the 3449. As always, its plain dial hides the mechanical prowess inside, as this is the world’s first automatic winding perpetual calendar wristwatch. Exceptionally rare, elegantly understated, and often overlooked, the auto-winding perpetual mechanism as found on the 3449 rises again in modern models.

Patek Philippe Reference 3970

Patek-Philippe-Reference-3970-Gear-Patrol

As the 2499 ended its run in 1986, the 3970 took its place. Amid the downturn in interest in mechanical watches during the Quartz Crisis, as well as the upturn in popularity of larger watches, producing the 36mm reference 3970 was a curious move for Patek. But this independent brand has seldom bent to market trends, instead sticking to its core philosophies and whetting the appetites of its core collector base.

Like its predecessors (the 1518 and 2488) the 3970 houses perpetual calendar, chronograph, and moon phase complications, though for reasons that are hard to comprehend, it has never held the appeal of its siblings. Perhaps it’s the size, or the busy dial? Perhaps it’s that the 1980s just weren’t booming years for mechanical watches? It’s hard to say, but it carried the torch lit by the venerable 1518 through an era when quartz watches threatened to douse the flame.

Patek Philippe Reference 5207

Patek-Philippe-Reference-5207-Gear-Patrol

We jump to 2008’s 5207 because — despite the myriad perpetual calendars that came out before it — the 5207 features a patented perpetual calendar mechanism that jumps instantaneously, as well as a minute repeater, a moon phase, and a tourbillon. This is a serious grand complication.

Building a mechanism that jumps instantly requires that each display’s gear “stores up” energy and then releases it in an instant, whereas previous mechanisms took many hours to use up that energy and rotated their discs slowly. That means more R&D, more parts to produce and assemble, and, of course, more of what some watch lovers crave most: complexity. The 5207’s understated dial continues the stylistically conservative approach Patek has always taken with its perpetual calendars.

Patek Philippe Reference 5208

Patek-Philippe-Reference-5208-Gear-Patrol

Using the 5207’s platform, in 2011 Patek released the 5208, featuring a minute repeater, a monopusher chronograph, and the 5207’s instantaneous perpetual calendar. Foregoing the tourbillon, the 5208 instead features other serious tech, including a Silinvar® oscillator with a Spiromax® balance spring and a Pulsomax® escapement, all proprietary silicone-based technologies that Patek has been incorporating into their watches as of late.

We included the 5208 partly because it’s one of the most complicated watches available in serial production, and represents cutting-edge technology. Most grand complications like this are reserved for one-man haute horlogerie houses taking commissions from wealthy collectors before the work begins, and the work is often quite traditional, even done by hand. Patek may not make a lot of these watches, but they produce them right along with the rest of their catalog, thus continuing the spirit of the very first serially produced perpetual calendars from 1941.

Patek Philippe Reference 5550

Patek-Philippe-Reference-5550-Gear-Patrol

The 5550 of 2011 again sees Patek hiding its high technology behind traditional dials, perhaps more so than with any other watch to date. The 5550, produced in just 300 examples, is an automatic perpetual calendar with moon phase, harkening back to the automatic 3449 of 1961. Its traditionally styled silver dial sneakily conceals a cutting-edge oscillating system with Pulsomax® escapement, Spiromax® balance spring, and GyromaxSi® balance in Silinvar® and gold. As part of the Patek’s Advanced Research program, the 5550 represents Patek’s ongoing commitment to using modern technology in traditional watches.

Patek Philippe Reference 5204

Patek-Philippe-Reference-5204-Gear-Patrol

Pushing the complications further than ever, the 5204 of 2012 offered a split-seconds chronograph and perpetual calendar mechanism that was entirely new for Patek. Handsome, traditional-looking, and highly complicated, the 5204 sees the maison flexing its manufacturing muscles. 2021 saw it released in 18k rose gold.

Current Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendars

The three watches below represent some of the best from Patek’s current catalog. These are serially produced perpetual calendars that represent the culmination of 80+ years of getting it right.

Patek Philippe Reference 5327G

patek.com

$96,990.00

This self-winding perpetual calendar in white gold is surprisingly sporty despite its italicized Breguet numerals and gleaming blue dial. The compounded subdials include a leap-year indicator (numerals 1 through 4 on the 3-o’clock subdial), which feels decidedly modern. This detail also lets fellow watch enthusiasts know that you’re “rocking a perp.” The 2021 reference 5374G is similar but features a minute repeater.

Patek Philippe Reference 5320G

patek.com

$92,260.00

Where the 5327G feels modern and bold, the 5320G looks like it’s straight out of the 1940s catalog. That’s because Patek used vintage museum pieces to derive the 5320G’s design. The cream dial with applied, lume-filled numerals in gold takes the vintage vibe way back.

Patek Philippe Reference 5270P

patek.com

$205,810.00

The salmon dial and platinum case with its fancy lugs give the 5270P a very dressy Swiss visage. The chronograph features a more traditional column wheel and horizontal clutch, while the watch is also hand-wound. This model is all about traditional mechanics executed with modern materials and know-how.

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John Mayer Designed a G-Shock That Harkens Back to the 1980s

You wouldn’t necessarily expect guitar legend and collector of vintage Rolex and other impressive watches John Mayer to gravitate toward the likes of Casio G-Shock. But like so many of us watch guys, it seems he also appreciates these cheap, digital delights: For the second time, he’s teamed up with the watch website Hodinkee on a special-edition G-Shock tastefully done up with colorful, retro cues that’ll strike a chord for musicians in particular.

Much like the first such collaboration, the watch is distinguished by color highlights taken from a Casio keyboard from the 1980s. Specifically, the keyboard was called the PT-80, and like a G-Shock watch it was basic, cheap, fun, now packed with nostalgia and, of course, made by very same Japanese brand. Mayer seems to have a soft spot for the G-Shock 6900 series, in particuar, as it was also chosen for his first collab project. The 6900, with its large “G” button, roundish case and digital display is perhaps second only to the squarish 5600 among iconic G-Shocks, and a favorite choice for military, police and other such professions around the world.

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Colors on the G-Shock x Hodinkee 6900-PT80 By John Mayer reference the Casio PT-80 keyboard from the 1980s.

Courtesy

This G-Shock 6900-PT80, as it’s called, will be as reliable and indestructible as any G-Shock, but is clearly meant for collectors. Like a white model of the Casio keyboard (which came in white and black versions) found on a pawn shop shelf, the watch’s resin (plastic) case was given an off-white hue suggesting its vintage inspiration, and Hodinkee claims it’ll look even better with wear and over time. Solar charging with the brand’s Tough Solar tech would’ve been even better, but this one offers a two-year battery life.

When you combine John Mayer, Hodinkee and G-Shock you’ve got a perfect storm of hype and armies of fans that converge, so it’s no surprise that the watch is already sold out on the Hodinkee Shop. At time of writing, however, it’s still available for the same price of $180 from G-Shock, and for significantly more via eBay.

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Here’s the Crazy Watch Michael Strahan Is Taking Into Space

How do you pack for a trip to space? Six passengers on the Blue Origin space flight launching, December 11, 2021, need to ponder that very question. One of them is NFL champion, award-winning journalist and Good Morning America co-anchor Michael Strahan, and among the personal items he’s bringing is a watch that’s appropriately out-of-this-world.

It would seem that there’s no need to pack a toothbrush and extra socks, as the last Blue Origin flight (in October 2021) lasted only around 11 minutes. Rather, Strahan is taking personal and sentimental items, as he told People magazine. Personal effects he’s allowed to bring are limited to three pounds and, interestingly, among them are no fewer than two watches.

He’s taking his grandfather’s pocket watch as well as a wristwatch from the high-end independent Swiss watchmaker DeBethune. Even among the most esoteric watch companies DeBethune is easily at the far end of creative, avant-garde horology. The particular model Strahan is flying with is called the DB28 Kind of Blue Z and it represents the brand well, also feeling thematically and chromatically on-point for the Blue Origin flight.

DeBethune DB28 Kind of Blue Z

More like a producer of wrist-bound art than time-telling devices, DeBethune is the kind of watchmaker that produces highly complicated, technical and extensively hand-finished watches for collectors that are spending in the five- and six-figure range. The company generally takes inspiration from science fiction, and Trekkies are sure to notice references to the Star Trek franchise.

It seems appropriate for a space mission in that sense (Star Trek actor William Shatner was on the previous Blue Origin flight), but also due to DeBethune’s predilection for the color blue as seen applied to nearly every surface of the DB28. The watch itself is 42.6mm wide in a titanium case with “artisanal and natural treatment of the metals” to achieve the blue finish, and is powered by an in-house-developed movement. Around the 6 o’clock position is an orb that displays the moon phase in 3D. Such watches are made in very limited quantities, and prices are typically well into the $100,000 range.

Needless to say, this watch isn’t comparable to something like the Omega Speedmaster which was actually a functional part of astronauts’ kit, and the DB28 is perhaps better seen as representing a love of space, technology and artistry. Michael Strahan is a “guest” of Blue Origin, the commercial space company founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whereas four of the other passengers are paying “space tourists.” The other objects he’s taking with him, are also interesting: a lucky $2 bill, his Super Bowl XLII and Pro Football Hall of Fame rings, a sentimental pearl necklace, and 12 shell casings from the 12-gun salute at his father’s funeral.

The launch is scheduled for December 11 [update: rescheduled from December 9], 2021, from Van Horn, TX, and is the 19th flight of the New Shepard spacecraft. If you’re a Strahan and Blue Origin fan, you can even buy a collab sweatshirt as a more affordable alternative to the watch.

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An Omega Speedmaster Owned by Ralph Ellison Is Coming Up for Auction

Cool dive watches, chronographs and complicated pieces are seemingly a dime a dozen at auction — indeed, nearly every product description from one auction house I can think uses the words “rare,” “significant,” or “important” seemingly without any sense of irony, utterly diluting this terminology to the point of near meaninglessness.

That being said, there are lots that are indeed “important” beyond their reference numbers, of which the following is one: a mid-1960s Omega Speedmaster owned by none other than Ralph Ellison, acclaimed author of Invisible Man. Though Invisible Man remained the sole novel published during his lifetime, this pivotal work concerning the Black experience in the United States made Ellison one of the most well regarded literary giants of post-War America.

ralph ellison
Ellison with cigar and Speedmaster.

Phillips

It’s unclear whether this Speedy was purchased by the author or gifted to him, but the watch is clearly visible on Ellison’s wrist in numerous photographs from 1968 onwards, until his death in 1994 from pancreatic cancer. It was later sold at a small Long Island auction house in 2016 where it was purchased by the current consigner, who was seemingly unaware of its provenance. It was eventually confirmed via insurance statements that listed both the reference number and the serial number that this was indeed Ellison’s Speedmaster.

Were this any “ordinary” ref. 145.012-SP on its matching bracelet, Speedy aficionados’ ears would certainly prick up — this was the last Speedmaster to be powered by the famed caliber 321 hand-wound movement. However, this being the watch of such a prominent American writer in such “honest” condition — the dial retains its uneven aging and includes its bracelet, etc. — the stakes are much higher. (Purists will rejoice that although a period-correct replacement chronograph pusher has been sourced to replace a missing original and the watch’s gasket and crystal replaced, the original crystal is included with the sale. Interestingly, Ellison continued to wear the watch with only one pusher after the original was lost.)

case back
Case back.

Phillips

caliber 321
Cal. 321 movement

Phillips

Phillips is giving the Ellison Speedy a $10,000-$20,000 estimate — however, we can confirm that Omega itself will be bidding on the watch in the hope of featuring it in their museum in Biel, Switzerland, almost guaranteeing quite a show on auction day (December 12th.)

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This Value-Packed Chronograph Has Us Excited About Vintage Watch Reissues Again

Have you had enough of the vintage reissue watch trend yet? Not so fast. Even if you’re starting to feel jaded about all the retro style, something like Lebois & Co’s Heritage Chronograph is sure to draw you back in. With just the right combination of size, design, execution and price, we just can’t help but get excited about this 1940s-inspired piece.

Lebois & Co. was started by the French watchmaking family Dodane and existed between 1934 and 1972. The same folks who brought you the compelling Airain Type 20 Re-Edition (reviewed here) were inspired to resurrect the brand in order to bring a chronograph from the 1940s back to the market. Now, having produced a number of watches in the meantime, the Heritage Chronograph is the company’s modern take on that watch.

Lebois & Co. took an approach sometimes seen among small independent watchmakers and asked its audience to help design the watches by voting on various design elements. The result is a series of models with a relatively modern case and different executions of a charming dial style featuring telemeter and tachymeter scales, as was commonly seen in chronographs of that era.

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The Lebois & Co. Heritage Chronograph comes in several dial iterations and strap combinations.

Courtesy

Inside, the watch is powered by a hand-wound La Joux-Perret movement with a column wheel (an enthusiast-favorite feature for the smooth operation it offers). The manually wound movement helps keep the case nice and thin at 10.9mm (not including the domed sapphire crystal), and at 39mm wide in steel, we’re talking about a chronograph that’s going to wear like your typical automatic dress watch — and far more easily than the vast majority of chronos out there, which tend to be bold and chunkily dimensioned.

The project is still in its production stages, but the brand will begin taking pre-orders on December 14th. For a Swiss-made chronograph with the specs and level of quality expected of the brand, its preorder price of $2,518 packs some strong value. Add to that the captivating design and proportions, and you’ve got a proposition without much competition in the modern market.

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The Bucket List Watches of 2021

This story is part of our end-of-year series This Year in Gear rounding up the most notable releases of 2021. For more stories like this, click here.

If 2020 felt like the end of the world, then 2021 felt like…the end of the end of the world? Basically — it felt better. No question. We traveled, we wined and dined, we wore masks for 16 hours straight on international flights…the whole nine yards.

In the watch world, things felt largely like business as usual. There were vintage-inspired rereleases; iterations of older watches in newer materials; and crazy, experimental time-telling contraptions the likes of which you expect to find only in science museums. In other words: There was lots of cool new stuff to be excited about this year.

So without further ado, here are our favorite of the higher-end pieces of 2021, from four figures to six figures. If you’ve got a pile of dough burning a hole in your pocket, well, first of all, mazel tov! Second of all — maybe think about picking up one of these.

WILBUR Automatic Launch Edition

wilbur watch co

Wilbur Watch Co

Presented by WILBUR

Price: $2,700

Born from the mind of designer Jason Wilbur, WILBUR is obsessed with thinking outside of the box, creating watches that defy industry convention and, frankly, are as radical as concept cars or futuristic machines. The Automatic Launch Edition watch is one such motoring-inspired option from WILBUR, using its radical “exo-skeleton” design to display all of the timepiece’s structural elements. This design choice accentuates the 3D space-frame chassis structure, including the “floating” chapter ring and the automatic movement “suspended” deep within the case. Sitting at a sizable 44mm, it’s clear this watch is as much a statement-making sculptural piece as it is a literal tracker of time. Rounded out by the AR-coated sapphire crystal front and back (the latter of which touts the Launch Edition’s “Designed in California” roots), it’s clear Jason Wilbur is using his eponymous label to help push the wider watch conversation into the future.

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Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Co-Axial Master Chronometer

omega speedmaster moonwatch professional watch

Omega

Price: $6,300

When Omega finally updated its flagship watch this year with the new 3861 movement, watch guys and gals everywhere went nuts. And it wasn’t just the movement that sent shockwaves through Watchdom — a redesigned bracelet and dial are also key talking points.

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Rolex Datejust ref. 126200

rolex datejust ref 126200

Rolex

Price: $7,050

Sometimes you want a classic, but with a twist. And what could be more classic than a Rolex Datejust? One with a green palm leaf motif on it, that’s what. Well sized for men or women, the ref. 126200 is perhaps the quirkiest Rollie of the year.

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Zenith Chronomaster Sport

zenith chronomaster sport

Zenith

Price: $10,000

Though it will inevitably spark debate for its resemblance to a certain Rolex product, Zenith’s Chronomaster Sport gets points for its incorporation of a historic automatic movement and marriage to one of the coolest steel bracelet designs in watchmaking history.

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Bremont Limited Edition Longitude

bremont limited edition longitude

Bremont

Price: $16,995

Featuring Bremont’s new ENG300 in-house movement, the Longitude celebrates British watchmaking. In fact, this limited edition version features brass from the Flamsteed Meridian Line at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.

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Blancpain Air Command Titanium

blancpain air command titanium

Blancpain

Price: $19,100

First introduced in steel as a re-edition of a rare pilot’s chronograph from the 1950s, the newer Air Command features a case fashioned from Grade 23 titanium and a killer blue dial, bezel and matching leather strap.

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Breitling Super AVI B094 Chronograph GMT 46 P-51 Mustang

breitling super avi b094 chronograph

Breitling

Price: $23,650

This is the watch you buy when you want everyone in the room to notice you: It’s 46mm in diameter, made of 18K red gold, and has tons of buttons, sub-dials, hands and other eye-grabbing features.

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Patek Philippe 5905/1A

patek philippe 5905

Patek Philippe

Price: $59,140

Complicated stainless steel watches from Patek Philippe are largely rare as hen’s teeth. This one, 5905/1A, is particularly cool and rare: It takes an existing annual calendar and chronograph and adds a steel case, green dial and a matching steel bracelet.

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Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Honeygold Lumen

zeitwerk honeygold lumen

A. Lange & Söhne

Price: $145,000

The Zeitwerk is a distinctive watch to begin with, featuring a digital time display with the hours indicated in an aperture on the left and balanced by the minutes on the right. But the Honeygold Lumen version takes it to a whole new level, with an incredible, glowing dial that only Lange could craft.

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Urwerk UR-112 Aggregat

urwerk ur 112 aggregat

Urwerk

Price: $272,550

If you want something that will turn heads but isn’t made of precious metals, you could do a lot worse than the ultra-futuristic Aggregat from the mad scientists at Urwerk. With its digital, “satellite” display, it looks like something Luke Skywalker would wear while he blows up a Death Star.

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Seiko Watches Offer Even More Value on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Looking for more Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals? Bookmark our tag page, where we’ll be collecting the best savings, discounts and promotions throughout the week.


Find all the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals here.

If there were one affordable watch we could wholeheartedly and unreservedly recommend, it would undoubtedly be a Seiko. Which one? That depends on your needs and tastes. But whatever those needs are, there’s something for everyone that is not only durable, but packed with personality and that will easily last you for many years. All that, and they’re super affordable — and even more so around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when you’ll find a ton of models deeply discounted.

From the well-known “Turtle” and “Samurai” dive watches in a range of variations to the new ultra-affordable (and obsession-worthy) Seiko 5 Sports collection, the entire sale is worth checking out. If automatic isn’t your thing, the eminently practical solar-powered watches are also a great choice. If this is your first Seiko purchase, get a great deal and you’ll soon understand why the brand has the ardent following it does.

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Score a Top-Tier MSTR Watch During Its Black Friday Sale

Based in Los Angeles since 2009, MSTR’s luxury timepieces aren’t afraid to make a statement. Case in point? The brand’s Ambassador Collection. Crafted in a range of different materials — ranging from gold to steel (NASA-grade steel, to be exact) — the watches in the Ambassador series feature a chronograph-style build, powered by either quartz or automatic movements. With a two-year warranty, interchangeable straps and even hassle-free returns, MSTR watches are a great way to score a top-tier timepiece without feeling like you’re breaking the bank. Best of all, to kick off the holiday shopping season, MSTR is launching its Black Friday sale ahead of schedule — starting Wednesday, November 24 at 5pm PST. Clearing up your gifting list with luxury watches before Thanksgiving Day even starts? Talk about a smart use of your time.

Price: $200 – $500

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These Killer New Automatic Yema Watches Are Under $600

If you know French watchmaker Yema, you’re most likely familiar with their popular Superman dive watch that was resurrected in 2018. Tracing its history back to 1948, however, the brand offers potential for even more cool reissues via its back catalog. The Wristmaster collection is the latest model to get the revival treatment, and with its relatively dressy 1960s vibes — and even a sportier “integrated bracelet” model — it helps expand Yema’s otherwise mostly tool-watch-laden image. They offer a strong value, as Yema always does, but are even more attractive at their current Kickstarter prices.

The Wristmaster was a varied collection back in the day, and it returns with a couple quite different-looking models straight off the bat: The first is called the Wristmaster Adventurer — a 37mm watch with some strong ’60s character. It debuts with two versions featuring blue or cream-colored dials, a crosshair motif, raised indices and box-style Hesalite crystal. You almost want to call it a dress watch, but it probably wouldn’t have been viewed as such in its time, and the angular case is reminiscent of skindiver watches of the same era. (Whatever it is, it’s pretty damn cool.)

watch

Courtesy

The other model in the Wristmaster collection is called the Traveler, and it takes the ’60s-’70s funk to another level. With a brushed 39mm case, prominent notched bezel and the ever-popular integrated bracelet (which is integrated into the case design), this is the brand’s take on the genre of sport watch pioneered by the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. (It’s meant to offer a sporty-but-elegant style more than it’s actually intended for rough use.) Instead of an eight-sided bezel, however, the case itself is octagonal, and is sure to polarize opinions — just as the funky “Wristmaster” font on the dials will.

While the Adventurer uses a Hesalite crystal, the Traveler’s is sapphire, and all the new Wristmaster watches are 100m water-resistant. They also offer lumed dials and indices, as any sport watches should. The watches run on the brand’s own YEMA2000 automatic movements which were designed and assembled in-house. (These movements were introduced in 2020 and offer an 42-hour power reserve, but actually help make the watches more affordable — unlike so many other companies offering their own proprietary or in-house movements.)

To add to the watches’ story and remind you that Yema is about more than just the Superman dive watch, the new Wristmaster watches come with a hardcover book on Yema’s history from 1948 to present called Time of Heroes. The final retail price for the Adventurer will be about $675 while the Traveler will be around $900. Starting today, however, you can back the watches on Kickstarter and get them for circa $455 and $570, respectively. That makes them look even better.

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The Complete Buying Guide to Oris 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.

Watch lovers love to love Oris watches. (You follow?) And how can one not love them — the company offers incredible fit and finish in all-Swiss watches at prices that are impossible to beat. That’s been the Oris story all along, and the proof is in the pudding, as these are incredibly well made and good looking timepieces that hold their own alongside Omega, Rolex, and IWC at a fraction of the price. While those brands start around the $5,000 mark, Oris rarely crests above that mark. Many Oris watches cost between $2,000 and $3,000, and plenty are below that, too, making them one of the most approachable among established Swiss brands operating today.

Tracing its founding to 1904, the name Oris derives from the river that runs behind the factory. (Because Swiss watch companies have relied on hydropower since the late 1800s, it follows that where there’s a long-established watch factory, there’s probably a river.) As such, the name Oris encapsulates an essentially Swiss industrial ideal — one that’s tied to nature in a way that resonates with Oris’ outdoorsy inclinations, as well with the company’s support of environmental conservation through support of various conservationist organizations.

aquis date calibre 400

Oris

Oris has always been a brand that serious watch folks know about, but in recent years the company has elevated its prominence in a couple ways: First, by releasing smash-hit vintage-inspired models, especially their acclaimed Divers 65 watches. More recently, however, the brand announced its impressive Calibre 400 in-house movement powering a growing number of collection favorites at aggressive price points. Competing with the likes of Tudor and Nomos for bang-for-buck in-house movements, it offers a five-day power reserve, antimagnetic properties, a refined look and a 10-year warrantee.

Oris operates independently, and the absence of an overseeing holding company allows them to react nimbly to their customers’ desires. Oris has accessible and friendly people at the helm, and these people are in the field meeting customers, whether at trade shows small or large or at local watch nerd meet-ups. That intimacy is how Oris knows so readily what its customers want in a watch.

The Oris catalog is divided into four clear categories: dive watches, aviation watches and more traditional, non-sports oriented watches that primarily exist in the Artelier collection. It’s a rather deep and broad catalog, but one that’s also clearly delineated. The snappy guide below will have you finding the Oris that’s right for you in no time.

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Dive Watches

As in all of their other subcategories, Oris divides their dive watches into vintage-inspired and modern-styled models. The vintage-inspired models are often close interpretations of back-catalog classics, while the modern-styled watches tend to be larger and more mechanically complicated.

Oris Diver’s Sixty-Five

In 2015, Oris released the first back-catalog-inspired Divers Sixty-Five watches to vast acclaim. These were early days in the current vintage craze, and these funky-yet-sleek watches offered a price-to-quality ratio that remains largely unmatched (which is typical for Oris). Since then, the Diver (“Sixty-Five” usually included in the name) has expanded to include chronograph models, larger and smaller versions, many new dial colors, a smattering of limited editions, and bronze-and-steel two-tone models. You can get them on leather, rubber, nylon, canvas, or metal bracelets.
Diameter: 36mm; 38mm; 40mm; 42mm
Configurations: time + date; chronograph
Price Range: $2,000-$4,250

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Oris Aquis

oris.ch

$3,500.00

These are high-performance timepieces with exceptional fit and finish. Offered in a range of materials and sizes, the Aquis range is extensive. There are simple date-and-time models, day-date complications, a three-register chronograph, a regulator (hours and minutes on separate dials) and even a model with a mechanical depth gauge for the ultimate analog scuba experience. Limited editions come and go, many which benefit ocean health through affiliated charitable organizations. Newer models feature the brand’s Caliber 400 in-house movement.
Diameter: 36.5mm; 39.5mm; 41.5mm; 43.5mm; 48mm
Configurations: Time + date; week + date; chronograph; time + date + depth gauge; chronograph + depth gauge; regulator; pointer date
Price Range: $1,850-$4,600

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Oris Aviation Watches

Again, Oris divides their aviation watches into vintage-inspired and modern-styled models. Descriptively, all have Big Crown in their names as pilot watches often have large crowns meant to be easy to operate while wearing gloves. The vintage-inspired aviation watches are pointer-dates, a signature configuration for Oris, while the modern-styled aviation watches vary stylistically and functionally to form an impressively diverse range.

Oris Big Crown Pointer Date

oris.ch

$1,750.00

The Oris Big Crown Pointer Date has been a popular range for many decades, offering old-school (think 1930s) aviation vibes and up-to-the-minute mechanical technology and specs. The distinctive pointer-date models give you tasty vintage style and a full view of the month around the dial, which many find to be a useful way to get a sense of a larger chunk of time. They come in many sizes and styles, and like all Oris watches, they offer incredible fit and finish at reasonable prices. There’s also a few limited editions, we well as a weekday pointer and one with Oris’s own 403 movement.
Diameter: 36mm; 38mm; 40mm
Configurations: time + pointer date; time + date + weekday pointer
Price Range: $1,750-$3,900

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Oris Big Crown ProPilot

oris.ch

$2,200.00

The Pro Pilot series takes the classic look of the Big Crown and updates it with larger case sizes, more complex mechanical configurations, and even some edgy blacked-out models. There are chronographs, GMTs, alarms, altimeters and week-daters on top of the standard time + date models. The Pro Pilots carry the same massive legibility, robust build quality, and masculine attitude as IWC’s pilot’s watch range at a fraction of the price.
Diameter: 41mm; 44mm; 47mm
Configurations: time + date; weekdater; GMT; power reserve; altimeter
Price Range: $1,700-$6,100

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Big Crown Propilot X Caliber 15

oris.ch

$7,600.00

This watch gets its own category, because it truly stands out in the Oris catalog. The skeletonised in-house movement has a 10-day power reserve and a patented non-linear power indicator. Built entirely from titanium, the watch is light, high-tech, and styled for the future.
Diameter: 44mm
Configurations: time + power reserve indicator
Price Range: $7,200 (rubber); $7,600 (bracelet)

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Oris Classic Watches

Oris’s non-sport watches nowadays fall into a single collection, the Atelier. You can still see the brand’s underlying pragmatic, tool-watch ethos, but they lean toward everyday versatility and even a dressy vibe. This is also where the brand might place those watches that celebrate the likes of musicians and artists, ranging from retro in style to the edginess of tomorrow’s tastes.

Oris Artelier

oris.ch

$1,850.00

Though varied, the value-laden Atelier lineup is singular in that every watch offers classic elegance without ever straying into haughtiness. They include minimalist midcentury-styled models dedicated to jazz musicians James Morison and Art Blakey, for example, while the rest of the collection includes complex asymmetrical complications, moon-phase displays, a three-register annual calendar, a pointer weekdater and an in-house, 10-day power reserve model.
Diameter: 33mm; 36mm; 40mm; 43mm
Configurations: time-only; time + date; annual calendar; chronograph; moonphase; power reserve; pointer weekdater
Price Range: $1,650-$6,700

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This Is Your New Trail-Ready Wristwatch

G-SHOCK is known for durable watches trusted by military personnel, law enforcement and outdoor enthusiasts around the world. Now, the brand has evolved its high-end MUDMASTER through the use of new materials. The G-SHOCK MUDMASTER GWG2000 is truly an outdoor watch, consisting of durable materials and features built to last — no matter the conditions.

This G-SHOCK retains the dust and mud resistance of the rest of the MUDMASTER series while adding a forged carbon and stainless steel bezel and implementing G-SHOCK’s Carbon Core Guard structure to make the watch smaller and approximately ten percent lighter than its predecessor. With advanced features including solar power, Multi-Band 6 radio-controlled timekeeping and triple sensor technology, the watch supports land missions in the harshest environments you can think of.

casio watch

Gear Patrol Studios

The slimmer and more compact profile of the GWG2000 allows it to offer the same powerful G-SHOCK performance with an even better fit on your wrist. The watch’s all-new Mud Resist button structure is made with a combination of stainless steel button pipe and a silicone buffer which together create an even more durable construction and provide increased long-term reliability. These buttons will stay intact after countless days outdoors enduring mother nature’s worst.

The arrival of the GWG2000 brings with it the brand’s very first forged carbon bezel. The bezel makes use of forged carbon fiber, a composite material used in aircraft fuselages and world-class racing cars, at the six and 12 o’clock positions and also layers in 360 degrees of stainless steel underneath.

casio watch

Gear Patrol Studios

casio watch

Gear Patrol Studios

The case, which also counts carbon fiber among its materials, is made with carbon-fiber-reinforced resin. The new case yields a decrease in thickness of 1.9mm and width of 1.7mm compared to the previous version, which in turn allowed G-SHOCK to shave 13g of weight, tapering down the watch’s overall size. In other words, you get the same durability and toughness but with less bulk on your wrist. The blend of carbon fiber and resin offers a high strength-to-weight ratio and weather resistance, and paired with the watch’s sapphire crystal with non-reflective coating, means you can brave the elements without worrying about the durability of your watch when you do.

The GWG2000 was developed specifically to be your partner in outdoor pursuits in the most demanding environments — and it does just that.

G-SHOCK GWG2000-1A3
Case: Carbon Core Guard
Bezel: Forged carbon/stainless steel
Water Resistance: 200M
Functions: Altimeter/barometer, compass, thermometer
Connectivity: Multi-Band 6
Price: $800

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