The Worn Wound Podcast Ep. 61: From Switzerland to New Zealand

On this week’s episode of The Worn & Wound Podcast, Ilya is joined by Worn & Wound contributor Allen Farmelo to discuss Baselworld 2018, Allen’s trip to New Zealand with the Oris Big Crown ProPilot Worldtimer, and a whole lot more.

This week’s episode of The Worn & Wound Podcast is brought to you by Hamilton Watch.

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Show Notes

Allen with the Bell & Ross BR123 GMT 24H.
Ilya with the Nomos Club.

Below, you can find some of the watches we discuss in today’s episode:

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight

Tudor 1926 Collection

Longines Military Watch

Oris Divers Sixty-Five Bronze Bezel

For more, check out our Baselworld 2018 coverage here.

Oris Big Crown ProPilot Worldtimer

Review: 6B MKIII Scramble Chronograph

Late last year, long-time Worn & Wound reader James Smith (you Instagram fanatics may better know him as thejames80) reviewed his fantastic Seiko ref. SPB053 in a guest post for the site. Today, he’s taking a close look at another watch from his collection; it’s a unique, limited piece, and it’s from a brand you likely have never heard of—the MKIII Scramble from 6B.


Spend enough time in the watch world and you are sure to come across the custom strap maker GasGasBones, aka Carl Evans. If the look of these unique and fully customizable straps do not stick with you, the name surely will (I know both lingered with me when I discovered the brand years ago). While the straps are deserving of a full review in their own right, I am here to take a look at the MKIII Scramble offered by Carl’s lesser-known brand, 6B.

Like GasGasBones, 6B is a one-man operation run by Carl himself. The name 6B is derived from the Ministry of Defense (MOD) historical code for the Royal Air Force (RAF), from which Carl retired after a 25-year career. The 6B code (sometimes 6BB or 6A or 6E) was stamped into the case backs of military issued watches. For more information on these specific military watches, check out Time Spec: 1970s British Military Asymmetrical Chronographs and Time Spec: A Primer on Military Watches.

The MKIII Scramble is the third offering from 6B. Like the prior two, this is a limited edition release and it comes with incredible custom packaging (more on that later). There are quite a few things that set this watch apart from other similar military-styled chronographs, so let’s jump right to the review.

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Review: 6B MKIII Scramble Chronograph

CaseStainless steelMovementValjoux 7750DialMatte BlackLumeC1-GL Super-LumiNovaLensSapphire with double ARStrapTwo nylon mil-strapsWater Resistance50 metersDimensions38mm x 45mmThickness13.5mmLug Width18mmCrownPush/pullWarrantyYes—1 yearPrice$2250

In military aviation, scrambling is the act of quickly getting military aircraft airborne to react to an immediate threat, usually to intercept hostile aircraft.

Case

The case measures 38 millimeters in diameter with a lug-to-lug dimension of 45 millimeters, and the drilled lugs are 18 millimeters wide. The thickness is 13.5 millimeters, which makes this one of the thinner Valjoux 7750-based chronographs that I have come across.

The mid-case is fully polished and has a relatively simple, classic case shape with slab sides. The standout feature of the case is the bezel. The fixed bezel is finely brushed with a sunburst finish. The top and bottom edges of this brushed band are bordered by narrow, polished strips, and this mix of polished and brushed surfaces plays with the light in pleasant way. Also, the bezel area slopes up from the mid-case to the slightly domed crystal and makes for a snag-free case. The sapphire crystal features anti-reflective coating applied to both sides, and it’s effective in keeping away reflections while having a slight purple hue to it in certain lighting.The crown (measuring 6 millimeters by 3 millimeters) is unsigned and does not screw down, which seems appropriate for a pilot’s watch with 50 meters of water resistance. Signing the crown with the 6B arrow symbol would have been a nice (and somewhat expected) touch, but this crown is sterile.

Flipping the watch over is a display case back, which shows the undecorated Valjoux 7750 (also a small point of contention, as some decoration would have been welcome here). Previously available, but now sold out, some Scramble watches had a solid case back with an inscription that read, “DON’T COME AND TELL – RING THIS LIKE HELL!” with “SCRAMBLE” over an image of a scramble bell.

Carl describes the inspiration on his website:

“While looking at some old Pathe war time footage of the Battle of Britain, I came across a clip of a chap frantically ringing a scramble bell like crazy and all the aircrew running for their aircraft.”

This case back version plays nicely into the watch’s name, as the term “scramble” was first used during the Battle of Britain. The display case back on the watch reviewed here contains minimal branding and shows the dates of the Battle of Britain, which spanned July 10, 1940 to October 31, 1940.

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Dial

One of my favorite aspects of the MKIII Scramble is the matte black dial with stark white hands and dial markings. The dial has printed lume-dots for the hours (absent at 3, 6, and 9) and unlumed minute marks around the perimeter. At the very edge of the dial, a perimeter line rings the dial and runs through the minute marks. Lines run from the hour indices toward the center of the dial and connect to an inner circle. This inner circle is only interrupted by the chronograph’s sub-dials, and it’s similar to a dual function gauge found within aircraft instrument panels. Overall, it’s a pleasing aesthetic and it kind of reminds me of something celestial, like a constellation.

All the sub-dials have a circular machined finish, which creates some depth to the dial. The running seconds sub-dial has only hash marks at the 5-second marks, while the chronograph sub-dials have Arabic numbers to distinguish them and to aid in reading the elapsed time.

The pilot’s hands are lumed and legible. Both the primary minute hand and the chronograph second hand are angled toward the dial, and at their ends they curve down. I imagine that this slanting helps the hands fit under the domed crystal while also keeping the overall case thickness to a minimum. Plus, it’s a nice, vintage-inspired touch.

C1 Super-LumiNova paint is applied to both the dial and hands. While C1 is not particularly strong here (or in general), the stark-white daytime color is what gives the dial its signature, high-contrast look.

Movement

Inside the watch, the Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement ticks away at 28,000 bph, and my particular example has been keeping excellent time while on the wrist. This 25-jeweled, integrated caliber hacks and can be manually-wound, and it boasts a 44-hour power reserve. The pushers activate and reset with a nice click that is typical of the 7750. For more information on this movement and its history, see Chronography 5: The Valjoux 7750.

Straps and Packaging

The MKIII Scramble ships in a custom wooden “ammo” box, and this packaging is just over the top! Removing the lid off the box and you are greeted with a Spitfire aircraft instrument panel cluster with the dial of the Scramble showing through a cut out in the panel. The underside of the lid contains time setting instructions, a warranty date, and a sketch of the Spitfire, which was a commonly used RAF fighter aircraft from WWII. Also included in the packaging is a key with a custom message on the key holder. The key is inserted into the instrument panel and is used to lift the panel from over the lower packaging area. The lower packaging area contains the Scramble watch head, two nylon straps, a spring bar tool, and a single slot leather wallet.

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Of the provided straps, one is a MOD-standard grey Phoenix G10 strap. The second strap is a custom mil-style strap from GasGasBones and comes in an olive color. It has a combination of a metal lower keeper and a fabric upper keeper. The fabric is soft and flexible straight out the box. This strap also has “MKIII” laser-etched on the buckle, which is a nice touch.

The wallet is an uncommon item to receive with a watch, but it’s a nice addition to the packaging. One side of the wallet depicts the firing order of the Rolls Royce V12 Merlin aero engine which powered the Spitfire aircraft. The other side has the 6B logo and additional engravings can be customized on this side by request. The custom spring bar tool also doubles as the container for the spring bars—just unscrew the spring tip from the base and shake out the provided spring bars. The far side of the spring bar tool is signed with the 6B arrow symbol.

Conclusion

On the wrist, the Scramble is a well-fitting and comfortable, smaller-sized chronograph. I particularly like the dial design (date free!) and unique bezel style. To me, this is a modern execution of a pilot’s watch with some historic design cues, but overall the watch doesn’t feel derivative. Given the design and the history poured into the packaging, I can imagine the watch being worn by a present-day pilot (preparing to scramble a fighter jet, no doubt) on one of the provided nylon bands.During my short time of ownership, I have fitted several leather straps onto the watch, including some simple leather two-piece bands and a Di-Modell Chronomisso strap. As you would expect, the vibe changes with the strap you put on the watch.

The pricing seems in line for a limited production modern chronograph with great finishing and unique packaging. As of this writing, of the 50 MKIII Scrambles producesd the number of watches remaining is down to the single digits. In speaking with Carl, these are produced in small batches and the final watches are currently being assembled. So if this one catches your interest, you might want to act fast. 6B

Photography by James Smith

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Review: Bell Ross BR V2-92 Aeronavale

The Aeronavale is the aviation branch of the French Navy. Breguet famously equipped the Aeronavale with the battle-ready Type-20 pilot chronographs, which have been, and still are, ceaselessly coveted, collected, and copied. However, with the new Aeronavale 41-millimeter, Bell & Ross has created a watch suited not to battle garb but to the French Navy’s beautiful gold and blue full dress uniforms.

The Aeronavale is not a “real” military watch. In fact, the French Navy had nothing to do with it. Rather, Bell & Ross simply dreamed it up. Bell & Ross can get pretty conceptual this way, with recent examples including their copper-dialed Bellytanker (designed for an imaginary vintage land-speed-record scenario) and their sporty Racing Bird (meant to accompany a computer-generated high-speed plane).On the surface Bell & Ross’ concepts can seem lofty, but I’ve found that the concepts help bring these watches down-to-earth by eliminating the pretense that a mechanical watch is, today, a real tool. When you consider that a life-long American civilian like me regularly wears a watch that Bell & Ross dreamed up to complement the French Navy Air Division’s full dress uniform, the whole enterprise takes on an air of delightfully absurd costuming. But, somehow, overtly acknowledging that we’re all playing dress-up seems to temper the absurdity.

But why would I—or anyone for that matter—fall for a watch like the Aeronavale? Typically there’s some personal connection that sets the heart aflame, and I’m sure others who enjoy the Aeronavale will have their own story. For me, it goes back to childhood.

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Review: Bell & Ross BR V2-92 Aeronavale

CasePolished Stainless SteelMovementBR-CAL.302 (Base Sellita SW301-1)DialRadially Brushed BlueLumeSuper-LumiNovaLensBox SapphireStrapPatent Leather with Deployant ClaspWater Resistance100mDimensions41 x 47mmThickness11mmLug Width22mmCrownScrew Down, SignedWarrantyYesPrice$2990

One summer when I was around 12, the US Navy’s sailing team borrowed my Dad’s sailboat for a tet-a-tet against a crew of scrappy yahoos from the Buffalo Yacht Club. Predictably, the Navy’s clean-cut sailors breezily command victory. Later that night the Navy Band played the most badass funk—all of them in full dress uniforms like some strange spin-off of The Village People; the horn section lock-stepping to “Ladies’ Night” by Kool & The Gang; the dangerously handsome lead singer flirting with everyone’s wives and daughters. Utterly gobsmacked, Navy-cool has enchanted ever since.

Funny, though, that I didn’t fall in love with the Aeronavale’s predecessor, the 42-millimeter BR123 in the same colorway that Bell & Ross released in 2016. That watch has a significantly larger dial, and I felt like a poseur sporting such a huge blue and gold billboard. Thankfully, Bell & Ross has been following the trend toward smaller watches, and this new 41-millimeter 92-V2 Aeronavale is one of the best fitting, most elegant, and properly proportioned watches I own. It delivers just enough Navy-cool.

All of the B&R 92-V2 watches run on the BR-CAL.302, an adaptation of the increasingly ubiquitous Sellita SW300-1, which itself is a near-clone of ETA’s 2892. The “-1” indicates that this movement has beefed-up teeth on the gear train, which Sellita claims reduces inaccuracies introduced by shock. Bell & Ross doesn’t disclose whether they’ve made any mechanical upgrades, and the only visible modification is the engraved logo and other subtle touches on the rotor. As with all SW330s, its a-magnetic Nivaflex hairspring oscillates 28,800 times an hour, it includes an Incabloc anti-shock system, and it can store up to 42 hours of power. The movement is visible through a sapphire crystal mounted in the handsome screwed-in case back.

The BR-CAL.302 features very light decoration.

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Being vintage-inspired, the entire case is polished to perfection, its shape traditional and elegant, its connections seamless and sharp. This is high-quality metalwork, as impressive under a loupe as it is at arms length. Like all of Bell & Ross’s vintage-inspired pieces, the lugs are long and leave a sizable gap between the strap and the case, which affords a clear view of the excellent connection where the bezel, case, and lugs meet. This can be a contentious detail, but I adore it.

The BR-CAL.302 and the handsome mid-case.

The crown threads in and out like it’s dipped in butter, and the robust crown guards—which match the case so well that they look like a third pair of lugs—are visually and ergonomically unobtrusive. The crown is signed with the iconic “&” that’s come to stand for Bell & Ross, and even the minute details of that signature exhibit flawless brushing and polishing.

The bezel has a polished coin-edge which slightly overhangs the case, thus providing ample grip and a classic look. The bezel clicks 120 times per rotation, and, because the Aeronavale is a flight-oriented watch, the bezel is bi-directional. Though it moves into position with perfect alignment, like most bi-directional bezels there is a bit of play when stationary. The blue anodized aluminum of the bezel insert matches the dial to a tee, and the gold 60-minute markers similarly match the gilt markers on the dial.

Case finishing is exceptional. An excellent sapphire imitation of an acrylic crystal. Tasteful, vintage-inspired lugs holding onto a mil-strap for casual occasions.

The curved, anti-reflective sapphire crystal is a thing of true beauty, almost indistinguishable from acrylic other than the deadened sound it produces when I drum on it with my fingernail (acrylic is more resonant than sapphire). The crystal’s curves produce creamy, dreamy visual distortions, and, although neither the edge of the dial nor the tip of the hands curve downward—as so many vintage dials and hands do—at certain viewing angles the crystal’s distortions create the illusion of curvature toward the polished steel rehaut. All told, the Aeronavale’s crystal is among the most convincing sapphire imitations of acrylic I’ve seen.

I know I’m supposed to join the chorus lamenting the ills of date apertures placed at 4:30, but I’ve grown to love these discrete, circular date windows. And thank you, Bell & Ross, for not interrupting any of the Aeronavale’s gloriously legible gold numerals and markers with the date aperture (a big pet peeve of mine). On the Aeronavale, the date wheel is rendered in the same radiant blue as the dial, and the numerals are in white paint that matches the minute track, logo, and three lines of spec text on the dial.

The Aeronavale is rated to 100-meters of water resistance, so I will SCUBA dive in it, though I can’t recommend doing so to anyone else because watch brands claim that you need a better rating in order to dive deep. The WR rating has me questioning what qualifies as a Dressy Tool Watch, or DTW, a category that Ilya and I, in true Bell & Ross fashion, simply dreamed up. We disqualified rotating bezels as too “tooly,” but because the Aeronavale is dressy enough for full dress military uniforms—arguably the dressiest outfit a person can wear—I am tempted to make an exception and declare the Aeronavale a full-on DTW.

The Aeronavale can be dapper and dressy.

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Attributes that make the Aeronavale so dressy include the fully polished case, the radially brushed blue dial, the vertically-brushed gilt numerals and markers, the dual-tone beveled hands, and the unique “ice-blue” calfskin strap. Tally that all up, and you’ve got quite a fancy presentation. The whole package looks like something you’d wear to meet a dignitary.

The dual-tone hands deserve a closer look, as they are brushed on one half and polished on the other. This treatment—which is found on a few watches including some of Mido’s offerings—creates the illusion of a much more deeply beveled hand while also shortening the stack of hands on the central arbor. The visual trick is quite convincing—so convincing that I missed it entirely until Ilya pointed it out. Bell & Ross has skeletonized those hands and filled them with Super-LumiNova, though, as with many of their watches, the small quantity of lume makes it seem like an afterthought. The upshot is that the Bell & Ross made no concessions to lume as they loaded the dial with those vertically brushed gilt numerals and markers. Lastly, the relative lack of lume reinforces the notion that the Aeronavale is more costume than tool.

Lume is a bit of an afterthrought. The alternately brushed and polished hands give one the impressions of faceted hands.

If you’ve still got doubts about its dress watch status, check out the Aeronavale’s “ice blue” patent leather strap. It fades from deep dark blue at the edges to a muted mid-blue at the center, and the white stitching picks up the white paint on the dial and date disc. I adore this strap, though its something I’d never have leaned toward outside of this context. The signed deployant clasp is mirror-polished like the case, features snail engraving inside the buckle, and it is a cinch to open and close. Deployant clasps on leather are often a bit bulky on the backside of the wrist, and this one is no exception. That bulk doesn’t bother me, however, and it’ll be a personal choice between the steel bracelet (which I’ve only handled in a boutique for a moment), a standard pin-buckle on the leather strap (which is easy enough to convert), or a third-party strap that suits your fancy (which is half the fun).

The patent leather strap is quite formal. The Aeronavale dresses down easily on a mil-strap (shown here on one of our ADPT straps).

The highly finished deployant clasp.

Though I’ve made a strong case for its dressiness, I was delighted to find that the Areonavale dresses down just fine on a mil-strap. During the past couple of sweltering months I’ve had the Aeronavale on navy blue nylon and paired it with everything from shabby old work shirts and tattered khakis for Saturday schluffing to swim trunks and a rash-guard while paddle boarding. The Aeronavale’s versatility keeps this watch on my wrist far more than I had anticipated, and despite owning it for only a couple months, it is already my most worn watch this year.

The Bell & Ross Aeronavale retails for $2,990 on the leather with deployant clasp and $3,300 on the steel bracelet. Bell & Ross

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Undercover Wrist: Six Noteworthy Camouflage Watches

Not just intended for outdoor recreation these days, camouflage has emerged as a trendy and bold alternative for your daily wristwear. Found on both watch straps and dials, the military-focused hue isn’t one normally associated with the luxury world of watchmaking but it has evolved into a distinct look for those in search of a design that blurs the line between tactical and tony. With more and more watch brands embracing camouflage, it’s easy to get lost in the (horological) woods, so here’s our guide to six of the more noteworthy introductions from the past few years.

At SIHH 2018, Audemars Piguet debuted dozens of new timepieces. One of the more controversial pieces was a Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph that featured a camouflage strap, a khaki-green ceramic bezel, and a beige dial. While the strap definitely embodies the camouflage “look,” it’s the bezel and dial combination that really stand out. The beige oozes a sort of creamy charisma that matches seamlessly with the brown subdials and almost forest-green bezel. It’s priced at $31,000. You can read more here.

The Royal Oak Offshore Self-winding Chronograph with a Khaki Green Bezel and Camouflage Strap
Bell & Ross was one of the trailblazers in the camouflage race with the look being a mainstay in the brand’s lineup since 2007. The latest update came last summer with the release of the BR03-92 Black Camo. For the dark dial, the brand developed an original, military-style tricolor coating with a patchwork of matte gray tones that simulate the camouflage used by elite military commandos for stealth missions. The 42-mm case is made of black ceramic with a matte finish – another nod to actual mission utility, as it renders the watch nearly undetectable in the dark and helps to avoid unwanted reflections. Ceramic was chosen as the case material for other practical reasons: it is almost entirely scratch resistant, tougher yet lighter than steel, hypoallergenic, and heat resistant enough to wear in the world’s most brutally hot battle zones. Inside the case, which is water resistant to 100 meters, the watch’s self-winding movement, Caliber BR-CAl.302 (based on a Sellita SW300-1), performs its own mission, powering the hours, minutes, central seconds and date and amassing a 38-hour power reserve when fully wound. The watch is available on either a black rubber strap or an “ultra-resilient” black synthetic fabric strap, both with pin buckles made of black PVD-coated steel. The price is $3,800. You can read more here.

First released at Baselworld 2016, the Graham Chronofighter Black Arrow was an extension of the Chronofighter range with a military bent. Available in four different colors – blue, gray, beige and green – the watches were noted for featuring a telemeter complication at 3 o’clock. A telemeter can measure distances between an event and an observer based on the speed of sound, so this new lineup has a practical military application compared to a time-and-date-only watch. The 47-mm watch has a ceramic bezel and features a 30-minute counter at 6 o’clock. Inside the watch is the g1747 movement with a 48-hour power reserve. It’s priced at $8,050.

In 2017, TAG Heuer introduced a heavy-duty version of its Aquaracer with a blue camouflage dial. Water resistant up to 300 meters and powered by the brand’s automatic Calibre 5, the watch is enclosed in a 43-mm titanium case and has an anti-reflective flat sapphire crystal (for photo or tactical ops). The blue dial is a seamless mix of subdued style and military influence, making it ideal for the adventurous watch enthusiast. Price: $2,800.

In 2017, Anonimo updated its Militare Alpini with two new camouflage chronograph options. The bronze model comes in either brown or khaki green and features a guilloché-style dial that updates its military look. The 43-mm watch has the typical identifiers of an Anonimo Militare timepiece, namely the crown at 12 o’clock with its patented protector, and the 12, 4 and 8 o’clock numerals enlarged and in focus to form the “A” of Anonimo. Inside the watch is a Sellita SW300 automatic movement with a Dubois Dépraz 2035 chronograph module developed exclusively for the brand. It has a power reserve of 42 hours. on the titanium caseback? An image of the Matterhorn, the iconic mountain that, like Anonimo, has a foot in both Italy and Switzerland. Both brown and khaki-green versions are limited to 97 total pieces each and are priced at $5,390. For a hands-on review of the khaki-green-dialed model, click here.

The sole German brand on this list, Sinn released the U1 Camouflage in 2016 as a limited edition of 500. The watch is completely made from bead-blasted german submarine steel and has a water resistance rating of 1,000 meters. The surface of the bezel has been hardened using Tegiment Technology – a proprietary metal hardening technique – to make it scratch resistant. Inside the watch is the Sellita SW 200-1, with a 38-hour power reserve. The 44-mm watch comes on a matching green silicone strap, with an additional olive textile strap to switch. It’s priced at $2,160.

10 Milestone Moments in the History of the Wristwatch

Today it is common for a man to wear a watch on his wrist, but it was a different story around 100 years ago. World War I, which started in 1914 and ended in 1918, brought to the battlefield much that was new — airplanes, mustard gas, military tanks. It also brought something new to civilian society: wristwatches, formerly restricted to ladies, became military-issue equipment, supplanting pocketwatches in popularity among gentlemen. Soldiers returning home from the war brought their wristwatch-wearing habit with them, thus beginning the fascinating history of the wristwatch, an invention that has become an integral part of our modern life. In this article, you’ll discover 10 milestone moments from the first 100 years of the wristwatch’s history. It is an excerpt of the feature “A Wristwatch Timeline,” which you can download from the WatchTime Shop.


1. Breitling Chronograph

Breitling: Chronograph, 1915
Breitling: Chronograph, 1915

1915: Breitling launches one of the first wrist-worn chronographs. It features something new: a push-piece at 2 o’clock, separate from the winding crown, rather than integrated into it as on the pocketwatch chronographs of the time.

2. Cartier Tank

Cartier: Tank, 1919
Cartier: Tank, 1919

1919: Cartier introduces the Tank watch. The company says that the shape of the case sides was inspired by the treads on military tanks, which were first used in WWI.

3. LeCoultre & Cie. and Jaeger Reverso

Le Coultre&Cie and Jaeger: Reverso, 1931
Le Coultre & Cie and Jaeger: Reverso, 1931

1931: The Swiss company LeCoultre & Cie. and the French firm Jaeger collaborate to bring out the Reverso, whose case can be slid sideways and flipped over to protect its crystal. (The two companies will merge in 1937.)

4. John Harwood designs the winding mechanism

British watchmaker John Harwood, 1926
British watchmaker John Harwood, 1926

1926: Fortis introduces the first wristwatch with an automatic winding rotor. The winding mechanism was designed by the British watchmaker John Harwood, who modeled it on the one that Abraham-Louis Perrelet devised for pocketwatches in the 18th century.

5. IWC’s First Pilot’s Watch

IWC Schaffhausen: First Pilot's Watch, 1936
IWC Schaffhausen: First Pilot’s Watch, 1936

1936: IWC Schaffhausen makes its first pilots’ watch, which it calls the Special Watch for Pilots. It has a rotating bezel for measuring elapsed times.

6. A. Lange & Söhne’s factory is destroyed

A. Lange & Söhne: Company building destroyed, 1945
A. Lange & Söhne’s company building was destroyed in 1945

1945: Russian planes bomb the A. Lange & Söhne factory in Glashütte, Germany, nearly destroying it just hours before the armistice is signed.

7. First automatic chronographs

Zenith: Movement El Primero, 1969
Zenith El Primero movement, 1969

1969: The world’s first automatic chronographs are introduced. One, Caliber 6139, the first to hit the market, is from Seiko; another, the now-famous El Primero, is from Zenith; and a third, Caliber 11, is the work of a consortium of companies: Heuer-Leonidas, Breitling, Dubois Dépraz, Büren, and Hamilton.

8. Jean-Claude Biver and Jacques Piguet buy Blancpain

Jean-Claude Biver, 1983
Jean-Claude Biver, 1983

1983 Jean-Claude Biver and Jacques Piguet, head of the Frédéric Piguet movement manufacturer, buy the defunct Blancpain brand and relaunch it as an all-mechanical-watch brand with movements supplied by Frédéric Piguet.

9. SMH, now known as Swatch Group, is formed

Nicolas Hayek, SMH CEO 1983
Nicolas Hayek, SMH CEO, 1983

1983: The two financially troubled Swiss watch conglomerates ASUAG and SSIH are merged to form SMH (Societé Suisse de Microélectronique et d’Horlogerie), now known as the Swatch Group. Nicolas Hayek engineers the merger and becomes CEO.

10. Rolex’s new Cosmograph Daytona

Rolex: new Cosmograph Daytona, 2000
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, 2000

2000 Rolex launches a new version of the Cosmograph Daytona containing the new, in-house Caliber 4130. The introduction means that all Rolex-brand mechanical watches now have in-house movements.

These milestones are part of our 12-page timeline devoted to chronicling the first 100 years of the wristwatch’s history. Download it now for just $2.99 from the WatchTime Shop!

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Bell Ross Adds New Replica Watches to their Vintage Collection, Including a Limited Edition Bronze Chronograph

Bell & Ross as a brand is perhaps best known for their square shaped watches that strongly resemble aircraft instrument panels. While those watches have a definite cult following, the brand also produces watches in a far more traditional style, often with a focus on military watch designs of the past. When it comes to “new vintage” watches, Bell & Ross, as a brand, is something of a sleeper hit. Having been created in the early 90s, the brand doesn’t have a back catalog of timepieces to reintroduce to the public. While some might see vintage inspired watches coming from a new brand as opportunistic, one could also choose to see it as an opportunity to really refine a style of design. Over the years, Bell & Ross has gradually become increasingly adept at something few brands can manage: creating watches that have the appearance of something historic, but are actually, in their own way, fresh and modern. Their three newest releases are case in point, so let’s jump in.


Bell & Ross BR V2-93 GMT Blue

  • Case Material: Stainless steel 
  • Dial: Blue
  • Dimensions: 41mm 
  • Crystal: Sapphire    
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters
  • Crown: Screw down        
  • Movement: BR-CAL.303
  • Strap/bracelet: Stainless steel bracelet, elastic canvas strap
  • Price: $3,200 – $,3500
  • Reference Number: BRV293-BLU-ST
  • Expected Release: February 2020

Bell & Ross BR V2-92 Military Green

  • Case Material: Stainless steel 
  • Dial: Green
  • Dimensions: 41mm 
  • Crystal: Sapphire    
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters
  • Crown: Screw down        
  • Movement: BR-CAL.302
  • Strap/bracelet: Stainless steel bracelet, elastic canvas strap
  • Price: $2,990 – $3,300
  • Reference Number: BRV-292-MKA-ST
  • Expected Release: March 2020

Bell & Ross BR V2-94 Aéronavale Bronze

  • Case Material: Bronze
  • Dial: Blue
  • Dimensions: 41mm 
  • Crystal: Sapphire    
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters
  • Crown: Screw down        
  • Movement: BR-CAL.301
  • Strap/bracelet: Elastic canvas strap
  • Price: $5,200
  • Reference Number: BRV294-BLU-BR/SF
  • Expected Release: April 2020

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First up is the BR V2-93 GMT Blue, a new take on a GMT the brand first launched in 2018. This version has a bold blue dial, and its rotating 24 hour bezel makes it a compelling choice for professional aviators who need to track as many as three time zones simultaneously as it does for leisure travelers, who just need a good solid watch that lets them keep up with their home time. The GMT’s styling is sleek and sporty, with sword hands and a bezel insert in anodized aluminum providing nice vintage touches. 

The BR V2-92 Military Green is derived from Bell & Ross’s “LUM” collection, and is the brand’s version of an all purpose tool watch. The drab green dial has heavy military vibes, evoking both khaki camouflage and wide open spaces that field watches were made for. Small details abound, my favorite being the color matched date disk at 4:30. The green tone of the dial is this watch’s strongest asset, and to break that up with a white or black date window would have really thrown off the design. 

Lastly, the BR V2-94 Aéronavale Bronze is at once a departure from the other newly introduced watches in this lineup, but also very much in the same vein. This new Aéronavale chronograph, part of a series of watches inspired by the aviation branch of the French navy (but not actually sanctioned by them in any way), maintains a traditional case shape with very clear vintage inspired lines and proportions, but has been styled with an iridescent blue dial and a warm, bronze case. At a glance, of course, the yet-to-patina bronze makes you think of precious metals, giving the BR V2-94 Aéronavale Bronze an heir of something fairly formal and refined. While this watch can certainly be dressed up, in terms of specs it’s every bit as robust as the other watches in this series, with a sapphire crystal, modern Swiss movement, and 100 meters of water resistance.

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The two register chronograph layout keeps busyness on the dial to a minimum, allowing the blue and contrasting bronze elements to be the star of the show. While the BR V2-93 GMT in blue and the BR V2-92 in green are permanent addtions to the Bell & Ross catalog, this BR V2-94 Aéronavale in bronze is limited to 999 pieces. 

Also of note with the two non-limited watches in this collection is that they can each be purchased on either a stainless steel bracelet. or canvas strap that Bell & Ross tells us has an elastic quality (the Aéronavale is only available on a strap). While the conventional wisdom is that one should always opt for the bracelet option to keep potential future accessory costs down, the straps appear to be nicely matched to each watch, and offer a great casual look that really complements the vibe Bell & Ross is going for here.

There’s something almost whimsical about Bell & Ross’s new-vintage creations. As with any watch, you’ll dig the design or you won’t, but for watch fans who are after something that is clearly indebted to designs of the past but still offers something new, Bell & Ross is worth looking at. These are not painstakingly reproduced replicas of watches from a generation ago, but simply impressions of what those watches looked and felt like. Bell & Ross

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