Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy: Laco Navy Cuxhaven And Bremerhaven

Germany’s Laco isn’t a brand we frequently feature in this series. Part of the reason for this has to do with the brand’s relevancy in the American market, while another part has to do with its being overshadowed by numerous other German brands with stronger messaging. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean Laco isn’t offering good watches, and I would argue, in fact, that it released two of its most underrated pieces so far in 2019: the Navy Cuxhaven And Bremerhaven.

Laco Navy Watches - reclining

The two new watches are inspired by two different models, a 1940s pocketwatch and a another model “resembling the watches of the crew on board the U1 submarine” (that is, a German U-boat). Laco doesn’t actually call out the specific references or offer photography of either model, but 1940s war-era German watch designs are some of the best known in the history of watches, so spotting the similarities isn’t an arcane exercise.

Laco Navy Cuxhaven - flat

The new Navy models use a 42.5-mm polished and sandblasted case, with an attractive fluted bezel and matching textured crown. On the dial of the two watches, differentiated only by the Bremerhaven being black and the Cuxhaven being white, you’ll notice an outer railroad-track minute ring punctuated with Super-LumiNova markers at teach of the hours, and further punctuated with printed Arabic numerals within those. At the bottom of the dial is a sunburst-finish subdial that contrasts well with the main dial’s more matte finish. At the top of the dial is the classic script Laco logo, with two sword-and-syringe hands passing over the face to tell the time.

Laco Navy Bremerhaven - dial CU

Inside the two watches is the manually wound Laco 98, which is a Laco-finished ETA 6498.1 Elaboré, with a 46-hour power reserve and visible through a sapphire caseback. Currently the watch is on sale through Laco’s website or at an authorized dealer, for just below $1,200.

Laco Navy watch - side

The watch clearly employs some vintage references in its design, as one can see by the railroad minute track, the hour-marker accents and numerals, and the somewhat pilot-inspired crown. It’s a relatively simple design overall, but it nonetheless is effective in recalling World War II-era motifs. The most obvious vintage styling is seen in the hands, which — while uncommon in their look both historically and in today’s watch world — help recall the sword style common during the era that inspired the watch.

Laco Navy watch - back

I have read some commentary about the watch that the manually wound movement and the watch’s size also recall vintage attributes. That the movement does so is obvious: automatic movements didn’t enter major popularity until the late 1950s, so it would’ve been off-beat for the two new models to veer away from the older style. Yet the sizing— 42.5-mm — isn’t large enough to honestly replicate a pocketwatch sizing, and isn’t small enough to recall a 1940s-era field watch; it’s primarily a modern diameter, seen very rarely in time-only pieces prior to the last few decades.

Other modern elements in the new pieces are in the fluted bezel — which, while existing as a trait in vintage watches like the Omega Constellation and Rolex Datejust series since their releases in 1945 and 1952, respectively, was very unlikely to be seen on functional-only, pre-golden-era military models. The final contemporary advancement is in the overall quality of manufacturing: the edges are clean, the dial is precisely executed with great contrasting between the main dial and subdials, and the caseback is sapphire, displaying a modern workhorse movement.

Laco Navy watch - lume

I understand why Laco doesn’t regularly gain major attention among media and consumers. Many view it as a more budget-focused brand with designs very similar to those of larger, more luxurious counterparts like IWC and Sinn. However, the Laco brand nonetheless has a strong history of its own— it is much older and more well-established than Sinn (established 1961), in fact. Offerings like these new Navy models clearly demonstrate why the brand is still in the metaphorical “game,” offering consumers a good value proposition in price and quality, from a legacy brand that is not going away anytime soon.

Laco Navy Watch - wrist

For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we take a look at the Yema Rallye Andretti Limited Edition and compare it to its historical forebearer, click here.

Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first discovering horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.

Oscar-Nominated Actor and Breitling Ambassador Adam Driver Talks Watches

Adam Driver is one of the most exciting actors working in Hollywood today. Fresh off of an Academy Award nomination in 2018 for his supporting role in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, plus a Tony nomination for Best Actor for his ongoing role in the Broadway revival of Lanford Wilson’s Burn This, Driver has established himself as one of the premier talents to watch in the entertainment industry going forward. It was only natural then that when Breitling CEO Georges Kern was looking for someone to join Brad Pitt and Charlize Theron within the brand’s team of brand ambassadors, a group Breitling has dubbed the “Cinema Squad,” they went with Driver. Earlier this week at the Breitling boutique in Midtown Manhattan during an event celebrating the brand’s partnership with the Norton Motorcycle Company, Driver sat down with WatchTime to discuss his connection with watches, what he’s learned about the industry since joining forces with Breitling, and how his military service impacts his relationship with time.

2019 Getty Images
Adam Driver wearing the Premier B01 Chronograph 42 Norton Edition earlier this week.

Were watches a part of your life growing up or was it something that developed later?

Yeah, it developed later in my life. I was interested in them before [working with Breitling], but I knew nothing really about the culture. I had watches growing up. Someone asked me earlier what my first watch was, and I actually still have it. It had Michael Jordan [on the dial]. He’s dunking and the basketball has Wilson on it. I think I actually got it in a combo pack with Michael Jordan bubblegum. Anyway, I still have it and I took it to this watch guy who is in front of City Hall in Brooklyn and he fixed it. It’s a part of my life.

2019 Getty Images
President of Breitling USA Thierry Prissert, Breitling Cinema Squad Member Adam Driver and CEO/Owner of Norton Motorcycles Stuart Garner

You served in the United States Marine Corps before attending Juilliard. Did your military service impact how you approach the usage of time in your day-to-day life?

That’s a great question. Yes, I actually remember a very distinct moment while at Juilliard. Juilliard’s a conservatory, so you’re there basically from seven o’clock in the morning until one o’clock the next morning. And I think that when I got out of the military, I was just so aware of all the things that you can do in a day. And it’s hard not to have judgment against civilians that they’re wasting time. I tried to make my life go beyond a reasonable schedule because I felt that I was used to the sensation of being exhausted by the end of the day. I liked it, you know, [the feeling] that I had done a full day. Some of it was being in your 20s and being male and feeling the need to run everywhere. I was always aware that I didn’t want to waste time with things that I didn’t think were meaningful. You also become aware of your own mortality being in the military environment. Suddenly danger and risk of death are more apparent.

2019 Getty Images

How about how time applies to the craft of acting? Does it play a different role in a live performance as opposed to performing on TV or in movies when you have multiple shoots and multiple takes?

Time, now that you say it, is a huge part of it. I’m about to start a movie in August, and for weeks all we’ve been talking about is scheduling. The majority of my day is scheduling something months in advance. So then once you get on set, you have to block out time, but at the same time, you have to keep it in consideration. You’re trying to make the day. If you’re shooting outside from the very beginning of the day, you’re thinking about getting everything that you need to get before the sun goes down. But then at the same time, you can’t be thinking about that, because you don’t want to blow a take because you’re thinking about anything other than what the scene is about. So you have to be free to try something different, new and not worry about that. Let somebody else. But as a responsible collaborator, you’re trying to be a teammate. You have to consider the mechanics of what you’re doing. You’re battling the elements. Right now I’m doing Burn This, and time is a huge part of it. We start at 7:00 p.m. and people have to show up right then to make it. If they don’t, that screws up your rhythm when you have people coming in, so we keep track of how long the show is every night. If it varies by minutes, that’s a problem, you know? It means that we’re finding gaps and spaces that aren’t good for the story, and it hurts the thing overall. I have to make all of my cues. Time affects everything.

Can you discuss how the Breitling relationship began and how working with the Georges Kern has been? 

It started when Breitling reached out to me. I had a layman’s understanding of Breitling that they are really nice watches that classy people wore. Not pretentious, not [ostentatious]. So that was my understanding of it. And then it was kind of one of those things that when you come to know more about it, it happened to be a brand that I believed in their philosophy, so I’m happy to be associated with them.

PPR Media Relations AG
The Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 Norton Edition

Is there anything specific that you’ve learned about watches or watchmaking since you started working with Breitling? Just something that surprised you or stands out?

The multifunctional purpose of wristwatches, along with their durability is something that I think is pretty great. We were talking about the Breitling Emergency watch earlier, that’s one that I want. I’ve dropped my Breitling a million times on marble and it’s still durable. Also, [Breitling’s] history in aviation, navigation and in emergencies, and how watches were aligned with the industry of the day, such as at the turn of the century with automobiles. It was all an education for me.

Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy: Méraud Bonaire

Neo-vintage dive watches are incredibly popular right now, both among major brands like Longines, Rolex, and Seiko, and among many smaller start-ups such as Evant, Baltic, and MAEN. One of the newest to the scene is Belgium-based Méraud with their 1960s-inspired Bonaire, a cool steel diver with an impressive value proposition. The watch originally came to the scene as a Kickstarter campaign in October 2018, and through this effort Méraud was able to fully fund the project with the first orders to reach collectors this month.

The new Bonaire uses a 39-mm brushed steel case with a 12.5-mm thickness, giving it a vintage impression on the wrist with an added feeling of sturdiness. The case also features impressively faceted lugs for a Kickstarter brand’s first model, and a slightly domed screw-down crown adding to its 200-m water resistance. Encircling the face is a unidirectional diving bezel with a curved and raised insert, made unique with its small triangle at its top and interesting font for its numerals at each of the quarter positions.

The dial matches the bezel in color and is available in either gloss black, sunburst blue, or sunburst gray, with the two sunburst models using white Super-LumiNova accents for its markers and the gloss black channeling a more vintage styling in using faux-patina coloration. On the dial’s outer edge is a simple minute ring, with applied triangular hour markers for each of the quarter hours besides midnight which uses Arabic numerals, and circular markers filling in the remaining positions. Towards the bottom of the dial is a subtle Bonaire script, while towards the top is Méraud’s slightly tapered logo, and sweeping over them both are two sword hands for the hour and minute and a diamond-tipped seconds indicator.

Inside the new watch is a no-date modified STP1-11 automatic caliber, capable of a 44-hour power reserve and protected by an engraved and numbered case back featuring the image of a vintage scuba diver complete with a harpoon in hand. The Bonaire is available on either a high-quality textured leather strap or a metal riveted bracelet, with each model coming with a complementary NATO-style strap, rubber tropic strap, and strap tool. While the presale with its reduced pricing is now over, the Bonaire is available for purchase through Méraud’s website for 849 euros (859 euros with quick release spring bars), or about $950 and $960 USD, respectively.

While through its construction and design features the watch is easy to identify as a modern creation, the piece clearly has vintage influences, some of which aren’t easily identifiable. At first glance, I immediately saw the allusion to vintage Blancpain watches like the Fifty Fathoms with the raised bezel insert, hands, and hour markers. But in talking with founder Stijn Busschaer, where he acknowledged the Blancpain influence on the design, he further referenced the Rolex 5512, dive watches from Gruen, the Benrus Ultra Deep, the Bulova Devil Diver, and the Zenith S58. Together, these influences tie the watch to a larger 1960s-inspired design, which was Busschaert’s goal as a primarily vintage watch collector himself looking to create something that other vintage-minded collectors would appreciate.

Overall, the piece is produced at an incredibly high quality for its price, especially in the context of it being the brand’s first watch in production. The attention to detail I experienced while handling it is obvious, and Busschaert was keen to point out the extra effort in manufacturing. Through the attractiveness of the various dial colorways, to the high-grade faceting on the lugs, to the curving on the bezel insert — it is quite impressive to see the work the start-up brand was able to foster in the Bonaire. The effort is even seen in the straps of the different models like the rivet-style bracelet, an authentic and comfortable tropic strap, and the high-quality saddle stitched leather straps — together contradicting the trend of straps as an afterthought in a market ripe with aftermarket straps.

With Méraud Watch Co. making such a splash with their first neo-vintage piece, it should come as no surprise the brand is planning more watches in the future. And as the new Bonaire pieces begin to make their ways to buyers in the coming weeks, Méraud is already finalizing the design for their second model describing it as “something special [and] unseen within the microbrand world,” as well as beginning to draft designs for a third piece.

For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we go hands-on with the Longines Heritage Military Watch and compare it to its historical predecessor, click here.

Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first discovering horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.