Category Archives: watch/ wristwatch

Baselworld goes big on vintage watches

Attendees at the just completed Baselworld watch fair in Switzerland would have been forgiven for mistaking the year for 1957 or even 1917, given the predominance of new models harking back to the past.

Baselworld, as it’s called, is possibly the greatest tease a timepiece tragic can experience. Here, packed into one-and-a-half million square metres of lavishly bedecked exhibition space, are hundreds of watch brands showcasing the thousands of new models they hope to tempt you with in the coming months.

The tease? Despite being open to the public – and attracting some 130,000 visitors – this is about the only spot in Switzerland you can’t actually buy a watch unless you’re a distributor or retailer, in which case it’s here that you place your order.

That means the real interest lies in seeing what’s in the pipeline, and what trends the industry is relying on to fix the predicament of flagging sales. That’s right, watch sales have been falling for months on end, with the latest figures revealing yet another 10 per cent drop in February.

Despite the usual surface energy at Baselworld, pessimism in the industry is palpable, and confusion about how to get things back on track reigns. Well, almost. As far as the product goes, the hounds were running firmly in one direction, and that’s vintage.

If winding back the clock is hardly new for watch companies – they love re-editions – it’s unusual to find the past getting a raking over in so many quarters. Still, what else to do? Embrace the smart watch?

Reprising earlier models is also not the most difficult or expensive route to take. There are no nasty research and development costs, and few industries have retained past records, drawings and archived so assiduously; this is a business that feeds off an image of authenticity and history. In reality, and despite the impressive hands-on aspects, watch companies are modern-day mass-manufacturing concerns, many of which built massive new facilities to meet a rising demand that stalled seemingly overnight sometime around 2014.

Vintage tactics

Can vintage save the day and, indeed, what exactly classifies as vintage when it comes to a watch? Regarding the latter it’s a watch that looks like the one your father or grandfather abandoned, a now nostalgic ticker with a domed glass called a crystal, in watch-speak, a case size that doesn’t dwarf the wrist, and a mellow look to the dial.

Regarding the likely success of the trend, it’s certainly resulting in some handsome watches of a wearable size, and while you wouldn’t expect it to save the industry, it chimes with current tastes and contrasts wonderfully with the techno-brittleness of smart watches, that new competitor for wrist real estate.

Not that watch lovers necessarily see it that way; for them only a mechanical timepiece does the trick, both as an accessory and an object of delight.

To them vintage watches are independent little souls while smart watches spend half their lives tethered to chargers. Then there’s the different vista and experience mechanical pieces offer when you glance at your wrist.

With a smart watch the reward is the content it delivers. With a mechanical watch the reward is the machine itself, and vintage looks – with their modesty and warmth compared with show-off pieces – seem to be the flavour of the moment, at least in these post watch-boom times.

As to who did 2017 retro most effectively, it depends which decade you’d like to return to, but here are 10 we liked that go back as far as 100 years, yet might just be the thing for today.

7 of the best new golden oldies

1. Omega Trilogy

Omega hardly has to send out a search party to find old favourites – the Speedmaster is 60 years old this year, ditto the Seamaster and the Railmaster. To mark the occasion the brand has released a trio – we’ll count them as one – replicating the originals down to the tiniest detail. None spans more than 39mm and only the movements have been upgraded. You can buy them as a limited-edition set or individually, each priced under $10,000.

2. Tag Heuer Autavia

Tag might have launched a smart watch (the Connected) but hasn’t been foolish enough to abandon the purists. The Autavia was the watch enthusiasts told Tag they wanted to see again. It began life in the 1930s as a dashboard clock, morphed into a sports chronograph in the 1960s and now returns in much the same guise. Differences? The case is up from 39mm to 42mm, the bezel is a bit wider and it’s water resistant to 100 metres. The movement is upgraded and now features a date display. The price is $6600.

3. Oris Big Crown 1917

Until recently Oris believed its first pilot’s watch appeared in 1938 but deeper digging revealed it was in fact in 1917 that a 40mm brass-cased number, essentially a pocket watch with wire lugs soldered on, carried the Oris name. A century on you can have the look for about $3000 with this limited-edition replica that even has a similar pin-lever movement.

4. Oris Chronoris

A shallower excavation at Oris revealed another plum ripe for the picking, the 1970s Chronoris, which boasted the company’s first in-house movement. The internals now come courtesy of the Sellita manufacturer, but those ’70s disco looks are there, framed in a cushy period case spanning 39mm. Yours for around $2300.

5. Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC

That orange and white sub-dial is a moisture-alert (and collector alert) indicator as found on early interpretations of the 1950s dive favourite. Back then it spanned 38mm, now it’s 40mm and has an impressive two-barrel mechanism. The doughnut bezel is a vintage Blancpain trademark, the price a more modern $17,650.

6. Longines Heritage 1945

Longines does heritage pieces every year and this salmon-hued recreation of a 1945 model is a winner. Now 40mm rather than 38mm and with a self-winding movement, it retains the curvaceous design of the era, with subtlety and proportion the order of the day. Around $3000.

7. Seiko ‘First Grand Seiko’

With the high-end Grand Seiko about to become a stand-alone brand, 2017 sees a recreation of the very first watch to carry the mantle. The new model comes in platinum, gold or steel and uses the exact case and dial design as the 1960 original, now resized to 38mm. It houses a modern hand-wind movement.

EVOLUTION OF THE OMEGA SPEEDMASTER

3,000 tonnes of Saturn 5 rocket, consuming fuel at 15 tonnes per second, travelling 240,000 miles away from Earth, at a cost equivalent today of £25 billion, is perhaps one of the most ludicrous ideas to ever dawn upon mankind. But as is well documented (and sometimes disputed) that is exactly what happened in 1969. And then it happened again, and several more times too. This is the quest for Earth’s nearest neighbour, it’s only natural satellite, the bleak but beautiful Luna.

The decision to pursue the Moon was announced in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, four years after the fourth Apollo 11 crewmember was born—the Omega Speedmaster. Between then and its first official NASA mission into space on board Gemini 3 in 1965 (it had already flown unofficially during Project Mercury), the Speedmaster suffered a raft of gruelling tests at the hands of NASA’s cruellest product evaluators. The testing was extensive beyond belief – ridiculous even—but nevertheless the Speedmaster passed. Amongst the worst punishment it received was 48 hours at 71°C followed by half an hour at 93°C, and then four hours at -18°C; six shocks in different directions at 40 Gs each; vibration in three cycles of thirty minutes at 2,000 cycles per second with each cycle imparting at least 8.8 Gs; and 130 db (the volume of a jet take-off) over a frequency range of 40 to 10,000 Hz for thirty minutes.

At NASA’s request, the handset was changed for high-contrast baton hands so as not to obscure the chronograph and crown guards were added to prevent knocking the crown. The applied ‘O’ logo was replaced for a painted one, and the ‘Professional’ script was added to the dial. The Speedmaster was now the only watch flight qualified by NASA for all manned space missions.

Before project Apollo could begin, NASA had to determine whether or not certain aspects of the mission to the Moon were actually feasible, so Gemini acted as the dress rehearsal for the main event, trialling techniques that focussed mainly around vehicle rendezvous and docking. In less than two years ten Gemini missions were performed, including the first American extra-vehicular activity (spacewalk) undertaken by Ed White, accompanied by his Omega Speedmaster.

The Apollo program that followed was the first time humans had ever ventured beyond low Earth orbit, and the twelve astronauts that walked the Moon between Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 are the only men to have ever set foot on a celestial body. The Speedmaster accompanied many of these men on their journeys, although it didn’t quite make it onto the wrist of Neil Armstrong as he took his—and mankind’s—first steps on the Moon. The story goes that he left it on board the Lunar Module after its on-board electronic timer broke down, and so the job was left to Buzz Aldrin to give the Omega the title of ‘first watch worn on the Moon.’

Following Apollo and the quest for distance, NASA then experimented with duration. The United States’ first space station, Skylab, was sent into space in 1973 and was home for the astronauts of all three Skylab missions for a total of 171 days. The three missions were long, each longer than the last, with the final mission taking 84 days (although the current record far surpasses that at 437 days). The occupants wore their NASA issue Speedmasters during this highly experimental era.

Over half a century after it first came to be, the Omega Speedmaster had its first real makeover in the form of the Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph. The Professional 3570.50.00 remained alongside this new recruit, presumably to teach it a thing or two about being a real, hard-working watch. As is to be expected, the Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph is bigger both in diameter and in thickness (44mm vs 42mm; 16mm vs 13mm) in order to fit the Co-Axial calibre 9300, but overall the same elegant case shape remains untouched. The most obvious change comes courtesy of the calibre 9300’s layout, namely its twin-dial chronograph register. Running seconds remain at nine o’clock, but the hour and minute chronograph hands have been merged into one sub-dial, a change consistent with other Co-Axial Omega chronographs.

The hand-wound, Lemania-based chronograph movement that has graced the Speedmaster Professional in it’s 321, 861 and 1861 forms has (when paired with a sapphire case back) been an absolute pleasure to look at, and comparatively, the 9300 has lost some of the three-dimensionality only achievable with hand-wound complication movements. That said, the finishing is exquisite—as it is across the whole watch—particularly with the sunburst array of Geneva waves.

The Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph will never be able to hold a candle to its legendary ancestor, but that’s not what it’s about. It doesn’t pretend to be the new Professional—Omega has left that particular word off the dial in fact—and it doesn’t have to because it isn’t; it’s a new Speedmaster, and that is something it does very well.

ROLEX CELLINI TIME, DATE AND DUAL TIME

The most famous watch brand from Geneva did not only shocked the World with their new range of Rolex Oyster models, but also introduced a range of watches that belong to the Rolex Cellini collection. Admitted, I don’t have a lot going on for the previous Cellini models and that includes the revamped Cellini Prince models. However, I was happily surprised to see that Rolex came up with classic but modern-sized dress watches in Basel.

Rolex introduces three different versions of the Cellini: Cellini Time, Cellini Date and Cellini Dual Time. Each available in two different materials for the case and buckle, namely 18 carat white gold and 18 carat Everose gold. Each version is then also available in two different dial colors.

The Cellini Time comes with either a black or white lacquered dial and the Cellini Date and Cellini Dual Time come with either a black or silver dial featuring this so-called “rayon flammé de la gloire” guilloche motif. So in total, there are 12 variations of the new Rolex Cellini model.

The Rolex Cellini models have a 39mm polished gold case with a double bezel, fluted and domed. The domed screw down case back also has the fluted pattern. I assume that this fluted pattern on the case back is also used to open-up the case with a special Rolex tool that grabs into the pattern, like it is done with the Oyster cases.

As you can see on the photos above and below, the flared winding crown features the Rolex emblem. No dots below the emblem of course, as it is not an Oyster case and therefore ‘only’ waterproof to 50 meters (5 ATM).

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Rolex is a bit cryptic about the movements they used for the new Cellini collection. There is no specific mention of the caliber that is inside, but where you expect a dress watch like this to have a hand-wound caliber it is actually a self-winding movement. All manufactured in-house of course, including the blue Parachrom hairspring. I assume that these movements are very similar to the movements Rolex already used for their Datejust, Submariner, Sea-Dweller [etc] watches.

The Rolex Cellini Date (reference 50515 for the Everose gold versions, reference 50519 for the 18 carat white gold versions) adds a bit more punch on the dial than the Rolex Cellini with lacquered dials (reference 50505 for the Everose versions, reference 50509 for the 18 carat white gold versions) in my opinion. I guess I am not a fan of the printed Roman numerals on the lacquered dials. The guilloché dials also tend to play a bit more with the rays of Sun light.
My favorite Rolex Cellini of the bunch is definitely the reference 50525 in Everose gold with black guilloché dial. A perfect rose gold dress watch with mesmerizing dial and pink gold hands and hour markers. The 39mm case diameter is about perfect for everyone whether you have small wrists or large wrists, for a dress watch it is all fine. The Dual Time also has a day / night indicator in the small sub dial at 6 o’clock.

There is a Moon or a Sun symbol on 9 o’clock of that sub dial, which makes it easy to differentiate between daily hours or nightly hours. A more elegant solution than to use a 24 hour indicator on a non-sports watch, in my opinion.

All the Rolex Cellini models come on a beautiful alligator strap with an 18 carat gold buckle (again, either white gold or Everose gold). As you can see on the photos that we (Bert)  took, the shiny alligator straps has a nice curve that follows the shape of the watch case between the lugs.

OMEGA SEAMASTER 300 MASTER CO-AXIAL

This is the watch we’ve all been waiting for since Omega started to tease us via their Facebook page. We already did a guess some time ago (here), but now we finally get the chance to try the watch and see it in the flesh.

Based on the original Seamaster 300 CK2913 from 1957, Omega introduces the new Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial in a number of different flavours. The name Master Co-Axial – as this confused a number of people – is referring to the anti-magnetic movement. Omega introduces 69 new watches with 8 different calibers that will carry an anti-magnetic movement based on the > 15,000 gauss movement they introduced in the Seamaster Aqua Terra last year.

This Seamaster 300 has a caliber 8400 movement (8401 for the one with the red gold rotor) inside. This is one of the 8 new calibers that Omega is using from now on.

As you already could see on the teasers and in our previous article, the dial of the new Seamaster has a layered-effect that people also refer to as being a sandwich dial but that is not the correct association. The hour markers are lasered and then filled with Super Luminiova. This Super Luminova has a yellow-ish patina like color that really suits the watch and gives it that CK2913 look. The ceramic bezel with LiquidMetal diving scale also corresponds with the original bezel on the 1957 Seamaster 300, appareance-wise that is. The new technology makes the new bezel practically indestructible.  The broad arrow hands are also filled with matching coloured Super Luminova.

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Black ceramic is also the material Omega used for the Seamaster 300 dial. It contains a sand-blasted finish to get the ‘vintage’ appearance.

The Seamaster 300 comes in 6 different versions. Steel, titanium, bi-color in steel/gold and titanium/gold, gold and platinum. The stainless steel version with black dial and bezel  has a 5000 Euro price tag and the titanium version with blue bezel and dial has a 6000 Euro price tag. We feel this is a competitive price, offering a lot of watch for the buck (Euro).

The gold models contain the Omega Ceragold technology for the bezel. This technology allows the growth and bonding of 18 carat gold in ceramic.

All models have a bracelet with polished center link and with a patented rack-and-pusher clasp.  Finally Omega managed to produce an easy-to-use resizable clasp with 6 different positions. You will only need to open the clasp and press the ‘push’ button and slide the inner clasp to the desired fit.

ROLEX SEA-DWELLER 4000 REFERENCE 116600

 When the Rolex Sea-Dweller reference 16600 was taken out of production at the Rolex facilities in Geneva, a lot of admirers probably shed a little tear. Rolex announced the Deepsea Sea-Dweller 116660 as the successor of the Sea-Dweller but many fans of the former model(s) just more appealing than the new bulky 43mm Deepsea. I urged the people who had a weak spot for the former people to get one while they still could in a little article (here). In 2009 I wrote “One of the few things that gives me hope, is that they went from reference number 16600 to 116660 instead of using 116600. Will there be a 116600?”. Now in 2014, there is a Sea-Dweller reference 116600. And yes, it is 40mm.

I will not go into detail about the history of the Sea-Dweller as we have written on this watch many times in the past. Instead, we focus on the new Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 reference 116600. You could say that Rolex came up with the Sea-Dweller in 1971 (but already developed in 1967) as the first diver’s watch for professionals. The Submariner was already there of course, and could also be used by professional divers, but was also more or less a nice sports watch that you could wear when you weren’t getting near any water (except the occasional shower or bath).

The Sea-Dweller was meant for those who also wanted to do deep-sea dives. Rolex came up with the helium escape valve in the 1967 prototype Sea-Dweller models already, which releases the helium from the watch case as the gas expands during decompression after deep-water saturation dives. It prevents the watch from damaging but still preserves the water resistance of the watch. COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises) chose the Sea-Dweller as the instrument for their divers after having worked with several other companies as well to co-develop a professional diver’s watch (an example is the Omega Seamaster PloProf, which was also developed with input from COMEX).

It seems that the new Sea-Dweller meets the same specifications as the former model, reference 16600. A 40mm case, a titanium helium escape valve, water resistance to 1220 meters (4000 feet), caliber 3135 movement and using 904L stainless steel for the case and bracelet. The major differences are the updates that we also saw on the Rolex Submariner 116610 and GMT-Master II 116710 models and variations: ceramic bezels with Cerachrom inserts, use of Chromalight for hands and hour markers and thicker case lugs. Although the lugs seem to differ per Rolex sports model. The bracelet also changed in recent years. The Sea-Dweller 116600 comes on the well-known Oyster bracelet with Glidelock extension system and a fliplock extension link.

Having owned a Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 for 10 years myself, I was very interested in trying on the new Rolex Sea-Dweller 116600 as the Deepsea Sea-Dweller 116660 did not do it for me. The 43mm case is something I can (easily) handle, but the weight is just not comfortable for me. I felt a big relief when I tried on the new Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000. A perfect fit – like the former model – and all the new technology that Rolex has put into it is a big bonus.

In terms of looks, it seems to me that Rolex has actually listened to their followers. Many people prefered the old Sea-Dweller models with the matte finish dial compared to the later 16600 (and Deepsea), and now Rolex made sure to have such a dial fitted into the new 116600.

Trying to compare the Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 versus the 116600, I actually felt that I was almost looking at the same watch. There was nothing that should have been differently in my honest opinion. The bezel has become scratch resistant, the bracelet has an easier adjustment system and the watch appears to be a bit bigger due to the lugs (but isn’t). What I didn’t like about the Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 compared to the Sea-Dweller 116600 was how it appeared on the wrist some times. Even though both watches have a 40mm case diameter, the 16600 just appeared to be a bit too small compared to the other Rolex sports models. The beefy lugs fixed that

Vacheron Constantin’s Latest Super-Complication Is the Ultimate Astronomic Watch

With its latest astronomical super-complication, Vacheron Constantin reaches for the stars and then some.

“As a company we seem to like astronomical complications,” says Christian Selmoni, head of creation at Vacheron Constantin. “They offer some interesting possibilities for us to create things that are new.” In the face of Vacheron Constantin’s latest ultra-complicated timepiece—perhaps best described as the ultimate astronomic wristwatch constructed to date—Selmoni’s remarks can only be construed as understatement.

The one-of-a-kind, double-sided Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astro­nomical Grand Complication 3600(about $1 million, 877.862.7555, vacheron​-constantin.com) is impressive not just for the number of its complications, which the company has tallied somewhat liberally at 23, but also for the way they are themed and organized.

The complications are broken into three groups: civil (conventional) time and calendar functions, solar time, and sidereal time. Because both solar and sidereal time vary slightly from civil time, for greater accuracy each group of complications is driven by its own corrected gear train radiating from the movement’s central wheel. The solar gear train drives functions including a marching equation of time, sunrise and sunset times, length of day, and seasonal indications. These share space on the front dial with civil-time functions such as the perpetual calendar, moon phase, and an interesting tide indicator with a depiction of the sun, Earth, and lunar orbital positions. Dominating the back of the watch are such celestial functions as a star chart composed of two rotating sapphire disks that impose a starry sky over the sandblast-finish movement plates.

Even more noteworthy than the watch’s multiplicity of functions is its remarkable compactness. At 45 mm in diameter and just 13.6 mm thick, the timepiece is the size of most sports watches—a feat made possible by carefully designed components, some of which were created with advanced photolithography fabrication techniques. “I was blown away by the compactness of the design,” says Selmoni, “and you can still read the time very easily and simply.”

Audemars Piguet’s Iconic Royal Oak Line Welcomes an All-Ceramic Addition

An all-ceramic case and high-level finishing make Audemars Piguet’s latest Royal Oak the belle of the ball.

Rarely does the announcement of a new case material for an existing watch model generate significant buzz, but that is exactly what happened at the January unveiling of the all-ceramicAudemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar (audemarspiguet.com). The new timepiece, which made its debut at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva, features both a case and a bracelet in black ceramic—an inspired choice by Audemars Piguet. The material is demanding, but it is also hardy and nearly scratchproof, unlike popular surface treatments such as black diamond-like coating and physical vapor deposition.

The brand’s R & D team spent more than 600 hours working on the design before it was ready for the production phase. Though the manipulation of ceramic is by no means new to the watch industry, it still requires painstaking attention to cut and finish. The subtle vertical brushed-pattern finishing on the bracelet, for example, takes six times as long to execute in ceramic as it does in metal—30 hours instead of 5, all of which are spent working completely by hand.

Like its predecessors, the new Royal Oak is powered by Audemars Piguet’s Calibre 5134 automatic perpetual-calendar movement, whose day, date, month, astronomical-moon, and leap-year indicators are displayed on the grande tapisserie dial. The rehaut in the inner bezel indicates the week of the year. Priced at $93,900, the watch is available at the brand’s boutiques worldwide.

A Chronology of Ceramic Watches
1973:
Omega launches the prototype of the Seamaster Cermet (popularly known as the Black Tulip), which employs a ceramic and titanium carbide alloy coating over steel.
1986:   IWC unveils the world’s first wristwatch with a pure ceramic case, the Da Vinci Ceramic Ref. 3755.
1990:   Rado’s Ceramica—the brand’s first watch to pair a fully ceramic case and bracelet—hits the market.
1994:   IWC introduces the first chronograph with an all-ceramic case, the 3705 Ceramic Flieger Chronograph. Ceramic IWC Top Gun models follow shortly thereafter.
2000:  Chanel’s J12 pushes the use of ceramic cases and bracelets into the mainstream market.
2013:  Omega returns to ceramics with the debut of the Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon, which has a ceramic case, pushers, crown, and clasp.

This New Ulysse Nardin Diver Le Locle Packs Cutting-Edge Tech into Vintage-Inspired Design

 The Ulysse Nardin Diver Le Locle—based on one of the brand’s 1960s-era dive watches—is a true-to-original vintage design powered by a cutting-edge movement is the name of the game with the new design.

Resting within its ’60s-style case and dial beats the brand’s in-house UN-320 automatic movement, which boasts a silicon escapement and hairspring as well as a special quick-setting date function that can be set both forward and backward (most other calibers can only be set in one direction).

While some may scoff at its rather modest 328-foot water resistance (half the original piece’s rating), it is more than adequate for the recreational wear these watches will see from the majority of buyers.

The announcement of this new release came as a bit of a surprise, as Ulysse Nardin does not typically jump on a trend bandwagon. That said, given the depth and breadth of its historical archives, the Diver Le Locle is a smartly executed reissue that only minimally strays from the original piece’s design. Its dial, hands, bezel, and case design are all true to the original (aside from the switch to a small seconds subdial at the six o’clock position).

To appeal to contemporary tastes, the case size has grown to 42.2 mm from the original’s 38 mm, though the increase is small enough that the piece does not come across as oversized. The Diver Le Locle is anticipated to arrive in retailers in May, with a list price of $9,600.

The HYT H0 Silver

 Our choice for Watch of the Week this week was the first piece that we saw and laid hands on in Basel, and between its bold yet minimalist design and more approachable price, the HYT H0 ($39,000) remains one of our favorites of the show. The brand remains the only player in the game when it comes to using fluid to indicate time in such a fashion, and with this latest redesign, HYT is poised to draw in even more fans. Aside from its new design language, the aggressive pricing  that undercuts its siblings by $16,000 came as a bit of a shock. The H0’s case is by no means cheaper or easier to manufacture, and its inner workings are on par with other models from the brand that command a price of $55,000, positioning the H0 as quite the bargain, relatively speaking. Having just finished a brief stint of hands-on time with the new piece, we found ourselves equally smitten with HYT’s new “entry level” offering.

How It Looks

The biggest change from past HYT models is definitely in the dial and case design of the new H0. It uses the same movement architecture as that found in the H1 and H4 models, and the positions of its minutes, seconds, and power reserve subdials are the same as well. From there, the landscape changes drastically. Instead of the usual partly skeletonized industrial design approach, the H0 uses a three-dimensional multi-layered dial with indices reminiscent of the graduations seen on medical equipment or scientific instruments. Of the pieces to arrive in the HYT collections, the H0 speaks directly to the medical research connection that led to the company’s inception.

The design of the H0’s case and crystal are yet another significant departure from past designs. Though it sticks with the same massive 48.8 mm case diameter of its siblings, the new piece has a lugless case design that makes it infinitely more wearable for those with smaller wrists. Last fall I had the pleasure of spending some time with the HYT H1 Colorblock Red, and though I wouldn’t qualify it as too big, it certainly pushed my boundaries. The lack of lugs allows the H0’s strap to curve down and hug a smaller wrist, and in an era where other brands are dropping to smaller and smaller proportions, this was a smart move by HYT to help reach a broader audience. Last and certainly not least, practically half of the case is made up of a massive domed sapphire crystal that not only gives the illusion of more restrained case dimensions, but also provides its wearer with an unobstructed viewing angle of its dial and fluid track.

How It Works

As we previously noted, nothing has been altered at a technical level with the launch of the HYT H0 compared to other models in the range. A mechanical hand-winding movement running at 28,800 vibrations per hour provides a power reserve of 65 hours. This mechanism is linked to a set of bellows (visible through two cut-outs in the lower portion of its dial) which precisely pumps fluid around the outer track in retrograde from the six o’clock indication. Once the blue fluid reaches six o’clock, it is then drawn back to its starting point in order to continue its travel past the seven o’clock mark and beyond. Though its indications for hours and minutes are separated in such a way, the H0 proved to be quite straightforward and easy-to-read during our stint with it on the wrist.

How to Pair It

Much like a few of our other Watch of the Week candidates, the H0 is another piece where going bold is never a bad thing. As we truck along towards Memorial Day, the option of all white attire becomes a consideration, however shades of denim with white accents would be the most logical play in our books. Those of you looking to push boundaries a little further may even want to consider going down the path of a blazer and sneaker pairing, though the sneaker of choice would need to be equally attention-grabbing to be up to the task. In addition, the H0 will also be available in orange and black in case a different color pallet is preferred.

Greubel Forseys Million Dollar Grande

 The chime of the new Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie makes a resounding impression.

“You can work 11 years on a chiming watch,” says Greubel Forsey cofounder Stephen Forsey, “and if those 20 seconds of listening to the strike aren’t good, then you’ve missed the target.” Fortunately, the authoritative chime of the Swiss brand’s newly released Grande Sonnerie (roughly $1.15 million, 212.221.8041, greubelforsey.com) is proof that its 11-year development—by far the longest period the notoriously meticulous company has devoted to a watch—was not in vain. Forsey and his cocreator, Robert Greubel, have fit 935 components, tourbillon escapement included, into one of the brand’s Asymmetrique cases, crafted this time in titanium for effective sound propagation. The rich, regular, and highly audible sound is all the more impressive because it is the product not of splashy sound engineering, as is the case with many new acoustic watches, but of careful design, adjustment, and traditional tuning.

Like many watches of this type, the Grande Sonnerie, which will be limited to four or five examples each year, can switch from grande sonnerie mode, with hours and quarters chimed as they pass, to petite sonnerie, in which just the hours are sounded; a silent mode and a separate, on-demand minute-repeater function also are included. A barrel-spring system wound by an automatic rotor powers the chiming function. Eleven different safety systems protect the movement’s delicate parts from accidental damage.

The brand devoted considerable attention to the strike mechanism. The cathedral gongs are milled from a single piece of hardened steel together with their base. The hammers, visible through the dial, hit these gongs with considerable force, thereby generating a volume that overcomes the dampening effect of waterproofing rubber gaskets. “We could have made a traditional piece that would have been $700,000, but it would have been the same as others,” says Forsey. “What we have tried to do is to make an irresistible grande sonnerie.”