Second Life: Nine Watches Featuring “Upcycled” Materials

More so than any other consumer product, watches are intertwined with history. Whether it’s your grandfather’s Elgin pocket watch or Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona that broke the record for most expensive wristwatch ever sold, it’s these relationships between time and personality that allow watches to retain a sort of indefinable sense of humanity on the wrist. Some brands embrace this ideological stance and put a focus on bridging the gap between historical perception and modern tastes, while others take the watch as an archival item onto itself and build it out with historically significant objects of the past. Is this taking it too far? Does adding a piece of the Titanic onto a watch provoke a moral quandary or make it more valuable? What about adding human blood onto a watch’s dial? What’s the limit to these “special-edition” timepieces? That’s up to you.

Here are nine remarkable examples of mechanical watches utilizing upcycled materials.Brent Wright Flyer

Bremont is a modern British brand founded by a pair of brothers that have been flying for a whole lot longer than they’ve been making watches. Because of this, they’ve always applied a distinct aviation aesthetic to their timepieces. Released in 2014, the Bremont Wright Flyer is the ideal application of this historic appeal. The Wright Flyer takes a small piece of muslin fabric from the original 1903 airplane built by the Wright Brothers and applies it to the watch’s rotor. The muslin fabric is then set between the period-decorated rotor plate and a sapphire crystal window. Most recently, the brand came out with the 1918 Chronograph that uses metal from three different World War II fighter planes and wood from a World War I-era Royal Air Force biplane in its rotor.Bremont Wright Flyer

The most philanthropic of these sorts of watches is a line of timepieces utilizing melted down AK-47s taken from Africa. Founded in 2009, Fonderie 47 is now responsible for the destruction of over 55,000 assault rifles in Africa. The brand’s limited-edition timepiece, called the Inversion Principle, comes in white or rose gold and features jumping hours, retrograde minutes, and a three-minute tourbillon. Each watch funds the destruction of 1,000 rifles and you can actually see the serial number of the AK-47 from which the steel was wrought on the watch.

Fonderie 47 Inversion PrincipleRomain Jerome (now known simply by its initials, RJ) is not known for subtlety. In the past, the brand has produced timepieces that feature cement from the Berlin Wall, lava rock from the Eyjaallajökull volcano in Iceland, and fragments from the Apollo 11 space flight. However, the most controversial of his timepieces would have to be his Titanic-DNA watch featuring pieces taken from the iconic sunken ship. This watch, which initially came into the public’s eye in 2006, stirred controversy among typically passive watch collectors worldwide. Many tossed about the sanctity of the dead as a reason to oppose the Titanic-DNA, while others were intrigued by bringing the world’s greatest maritime disaster back to life. Regardless of your opinion on the afterlife — or whether or not Rose had room for Jack on that floating door — the most exciting part of this watch for us was the natural decay/patina that RJ’s team was able to play with at the time. The bezel is produced with actual metal retrieved from the Titanic combined with metal from the Irish shipyard that built the doomed passenger liner.

Romain Jerome Titanic-DNAAt SIHH 2017, Roger Dubuis debuted a number of watches produced with Italian tiremaker Pirelli. The most horologically impressive of these was the Excalibur Spider Double Flying Tourbillon Pirelli. Powered by a hand-wound double tourbillon movement, the watch comes on a strap crafted from Pirelli tire rubber. However, this isn’t the same kind of Pirelli tire you can buy at your local Pep Boys, it’s taken from tires used by Lewis Hamilton on his winning car during the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Double Flying Tourbillon Pirelli

Meteorites, fossils, and even ultra-rare spirits have all found their way into Louis Moinet watches. Such is the case with the Whiskey Watch, a limited- run timepiece of just 50 models, each containing a drop of old Vatted Glenlivet 1862– the oldest whiskey in the world. Depending on your palate — or age for that matter — Louis Moinet’s Jurassic Tourbillon may be more appealing. The dial of the Jurassic Tourbillon is made entirely from the skeleton of a large herbivore related to the Diplodocus. The bone itself is not the brownish-eggshell you might expect from going on field trips to the Natural History Museum but instead a strong red-brown that has vein-like tracks running across the dial. Louis Moinet followed up the limited-to-12 Jurassic Tourbillon with the time-and-date only Jurassic Watch.Louis Moinet Jurassic Watch

While Louis Moinet takes the title for oldest whiskey placed inside a watch, Armin Strom beats it by using the world’s longest-aged cognac in a timepiece. In 2016, the brand introduced the limited-edition Cognac Watch that included a drop of 1762 Gautier. A sealed sapphire crystal disk at 5 o’clock holds the rare cognac while an Armin Strom in-house caliber provides a five-day power reserve. The watch was limited to 40 different pieces when it was released in 2016 and came in three different case materials: stainless steel, 18k rose gold, and titanium.Armin Strom Cognac Watch

Ever since the Calypso sank in 1996 and its legendary owner, Jacques Cousteau, died the following year, its reconstruction has been marred by familial drama, a lack of funding, and total confusion about its future. In 2006, IWC Schaffhausen jumped into the funding mayhem with a chronograph that boasts a sliver of wood from the ship inlaid in the case- back. Each watch sold benefited the reconstruction of the ship to its former glory. Limited to 2,500 pieces when it was released over a decade ago, the watch has surely traversed as far as the original Calypso did during its 46 years of service to Cousteau.

Werenbach is without a doubt the smallest brand on this list. This microbrand got its start in the vast steppes of Kazakhstan where Russian Soyuz rockets are launched into space. After months of negotiating with the Russian military, the brand was able to secure aluminum used in the outer shell of the rockets and steel from its steam turbine to use in its watches. The brand finished its first collection in 2014 and is the first watch to have been built from a rocket that was once in space. All the watches produced by Werenbach use movements produced by ETA. In 2015, a Danish astronaut purchased a Werenbach timepiece and successfully wore it back into outer space during a flight to the ISS — returning the watch to its place of origin. How’s that for a moonwatch?

WerenbachOne of Yvan Arpa’s favorite quotes is, “Guns don’t kill people, time does.” This idea directly ties into ArtyA’s Son of a Gun series of watches that he designed with real bullets and cartridges. The juxtaposition is clear and it shows Arpa is not one to back away from a potentially political subject. It’s worth mentioning ArtyA’s latest endeavor that was released last Halloween: a watch with real blood in its dial.

ArtyA Son of a Gun

Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy: Hamilton Intra-matic Auto

Recently, I’ve been reflecting upon some classic watches in the “new vintage” trend that represent really good value for their relative intrigue. My mind was drawn to the Mido Multifort Datometer with its unusual triple calendar, and the Tissot Heritage Antimagnetique with its rejuvenated historical styling,  and to the Timex Marlin which at $200 is in a category all its own. I most of all considered the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical 38 mm, based on a standard military issued watch from the ‘60s to 1980s, which I would argue is one of the coolest watches for the money on the market today.

Hamilton Intra-Matic - vintage

As I considered this last Hamilton watch, I thought back on the many other watches the brand produced in mid-century, and how for so long these pieces adorned such a significant portion of American and global wrists. After all, it wasn’t only military-contracted timepieces and Caliber 11 chronographs the brand produced during its golden age, but also timepieces of elegance and class that were accessible to an entire generation of consumers. Possibly the most significant of these watches was the Intra-matic, a watch the brand produced in the late 1960s into the ‘70s as a follow-up to the Thin-o-matic, at the time established as the primary dress watch offered in Hamilton’s collections (vintage picture above left, via The Watch Forum).

Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto - black dial - strap

As it has with many other of its historical pieces, Hamilton has revived the vintage Intra-matic for the contemporary market as the Intra-matic Auto. The watch is available in modest 38-mm or larger 42-mm sizes, with the option of either a black or silver dial in a steel case, or a silver dial in a gold-plated case. The steel-cased versions are available on either a steel nine-link bracelet or a leather strap, while the gold-plated options are available only on the leather.

Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto - silver dial - bracelet

On each of the models, the case has a simple construction with small trapezoidal lugs, a subtle crown, and a thin bezel all meant to showcase the expansive dial that these features frame. The unadorned dial, sunburst and slightly curved, features elongated printed hour markers without an additional minute ring, a 6 o’clock date window, and simple stick hour and minute hands sweeping the face without a seconds counter. Towards the top of the dial is the vintage Hamilton logo, while toward the bottom is the lowercase “intra-matic” script. Inside each watch, and visible through a sapphire caseback, is the Hamilton-finished ETA 2892-2, an automatic movement with a 42-hour power reserve, which is known as a slightly more refined version of the more common ETA 2824-2. Currently, new Intra-matic Autos are being priced by the brand as low as $845 for steel 38-mm options on leather straps, and as high as $1,095 for the 42-mm gold-plated version, though you might be able to find one for significantly less through certain dealers.

Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto - gold - reclining

Between the vintage and modern versions of the Intra-matic, the shared qualities are obvious. With an expansive sunburst dial, slim case, elongated hands and printed hour markers, the two watches share all of their major features. Even some slightly subtler details remain very similar, such as the style of date window and lowercase “intra-matic” font towards the bottom of the dial, all together showing the effort the brand made to keep the contemporary version as visually consistent as possible with the original.

Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto - back

As for the differences between vintage and contemporary model, they are little more than slight adjustments to better cater to a modern audience and balance the design. The hour markers are slightly longer, the hands and crown slightly thicker, and the dial’s sunburst finish more pronounced. Noticeably, the date window on the vintage version was at the complete bottom of the dial, covering a would-be 6 o’clock hour, where on the modern version it is slightly more towards the center; likely a practical change by the brand to accompany the larger case sizes and placement of the modern movement inside, compared to the 34-mm vintage watch with its Hamilton Caliber 92 (based on the Buren 1282 micro-rotor movement).

Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto - Gold 

In many ways, the modern Intra-matic represents much the same value as the vintage piece did. With its simple elegance, history, and price accessibility, the watch has the ability to become the centerpiece of an expanded collection, or an additional piece of intrigue in one longstanding. Ultimately, it’s a distinctive piece the brand felt it had to offer, and showcases the versatility Hamilton has shown in bringing forth not only desirable sports watches in its modern collections, but also classy formal pieces to round out its portfolio.

Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto - silver dial - strap

For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we compare Zodiac Astrographic to its historical counterpart, 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.

Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy: Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph

Since Montblanc’s 1858 collection was first released in 2015, it has served as the host for watches inspired by the erstwhile Minerva marque. Montblanc acquired the Minerva manufacture in 2006 and has done well to use this company’s long design history to enhance its own novel series. This year was no different, with Montblanc expanding its 1858 collection with a time-only watch, a GMT, a limited-edition monopusher chronograph, a limited edition pocket watch, and our focus for this week, the 1858 Automatic Chronograph.

The Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph in bronze.

Montblanc has emphasized it draws its primary inspiration from a 1930s Minerva chronograph example, but where the modern watch channels a common WWII-era chronograph design with pump pushers, a straightforward case, and dial configuration, the vintage watch was itself a monopusher. The reason for this style change in the modern piece was made for a specific reason: the brand values the design of the original Minerva and believes watches inspired by it will have a market appeal, yet due to the modern rarity of production, monopusher chronographs are difficult to bring to consumers due to the high cost of manufacturing which is passed into the overall price of the watch. As such, Montblanc has released each of its monopusher designs in 100-piece limited editions and has framed the new bi-compax to be a period-inspired — albeit not exactly historically accurate — pilot’s chronograph.

The Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph in stainless steel.

The 1858 Automatic Chronograph comes in two options, both using the same military style 42-mm case with pump pushers, a thick crown, and an engraved case back featuring the Montblanc logo over the image of a mountain. The first of the two is a more vintage-influenced steel watch with a black dial while the second is a more contemporary bronze cased piece with a champagne face; both models use similar cream-colored accents (although it might be more appropriate to refer to them as faux patina on the steel watch). On the dial of each there’s an outer minute ring contrasting to its background, white for the steel version and black for the bronze, while slightly closer to the center are SuperLumiNova coated Arabic numerals and two prominent subdials at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions for running seconds and a 30-minute counter, respectively.

The time is indicated by a set of antique-style cathedral hands common in the earlier half of the twentieth century, while the chronograph seconds counter uses a simple pointer with a small counterweight on its opposite end. To keep its hands ticking, the 1858 Automatic Chronograph features the caliber MB 25.11 based on the Sellita SW-500 and is capable of a 48-hour power reserve. As with all of the brand’s watches, it must successfully pass the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500, where the brand has each watch run for 500 continuous hours to certify its accuracy before appearing worldwide for sale. Once it lands in watch boutiques, the steel model will be priced around $4,900, with the bronze model to retail around $5,800.

Close-up on the dial of the Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph.

As the new watch design is only casually influenced by the 1930s Minerva monopusher, rather than strongly informed by it, the differences between the vintage and modern references are both expected and apparent. Excluding the obvious fact the contemporary piece is a not a monopusher, the vintage model featured a typical pilots’ watch jewel-style crown, a larger and curvier case unique for military watches of the era, and had bolder numerals for its outer minute ring; where the modern watch uses a simpler, more rugged crown, a utilitarian-style case common to other military chronograph from the vintage era, and proportionally larger sub-dials on its face than those on the vintage edition.

The Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph in stainless steel.

Yet despite the differences in the watches, there are some fairly obvious vintage-inspired characteristics on the contemporary piece. In both the bronze and steel variations, the dial configuration with its minute rings, large sub-dials, Arabic numerals hour markers, and cathedral hands matches the historic Minerva model. It is apparent the “heritage” model is the steel variant, with its black dial and cream accents, the watch has an identifiable vintage-appeal, and matches the aesthetic of the original chronograph. Although I will admit, if I encountered the watch without being aware of it beforehand, I would have likely thought it was a well-executed, slightly enlarged, and modernized reissue of a handsome WWII chronograph, instead of drawing the connection to the 1930s Minerva. This is not the worst problem to have, but it speaks volumes to the actual vintage aesthetic of the contemporary piece.

The caseback of the 1858 Automatic Chronograph.

What I have found most interesting when reading about this new watch is in what other horological pundits have discussed about it the most. As it seems to be that its most distinguishing trait is not its own design successes or failures, but rather its relative accessibility compared to the significantly more expensive limited edition monopushers produced by the brand. Yet, as I view the two styles of watches — both of which claim a lineage and inspiration from the original 1930s Minerva proto B-Uhr pilots’ chronograph — I would argue confidently the 1858 Automatic Chronograph isn’t exactly the “look without the price” kind of watch it’s made out to be. The vintage monopusher design school in itself is so unique that it’s a bit difficult to imagine consumers will view the new pump pusher watch as a cost-saving method to the monopusher design it does not itself use. Regardless, the Automatic Chronograph is by no means a negative addition to the 1858 collection, and might well be a precursor for how Montblanc plans to channel the history of Minerva watches through its new series in the years to come.

One of the new Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition of 100 timepieces.

You can check out more details on the rest of Montblanc’s 2018 collection here, here, and here.

For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we compare the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical 38 mm to its historical predecessor, click here.

Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first learning about 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.

Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy: Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical 38 mm

Like many United States-based watch enthusiasts, Hamilton has long held a soft spot in my heart. Founded in Pennsylvania in 1892, Hamilton has symbolized American excellence from its start as a railroad companion through its prominent appearance in every war up to the 1980s. It’s a brand that has become so synonymous with American watchmaking that it is almost a given any US watch startup will produce an homage to a Hamilton piece, with some brands like RGM even setting up shop in Hamilton’s original Lancaster County home in the Pennsylvania wilderness to channel this rich history.

Today, the brand is located in Switzerland as a subsidiary of the Swatch Group, yet American appreciation for the brand — among myself and many other collectors — doesn’t seem to fade. This is a fact known to Hamilton and, as such, every so often they will release a new homage piece honoring the American heritage that made Hamilton what it is today. Most recently, the brand released the Intra-Matic 68 Autochrono and an updated take on the classic Ventura. This trend continued when we recevied another pre-Baselworld teaser — to go alongside the Hamilton X-Wind Autochrono — the Khaki Field Mechanical 38 mm.

This new model is based on a timepiece produced for the military from 1969 to the 1980s that were noteworthy for including a hacking seconds feature, a mechanism common to mid-20th-century military watches. The original watch is more commonly known among collectors as either the FAPD 5101, Type 1 Navigator, or simply as the “GI,” each name for what is essentially the same watch going to different military personnel (vintage picture above via Analog/Shift).

The modern watch uses a utilitarian 38-mm sandblasted steel case with a prominent thick crown, strapped on a forest green “Nato” strap with calfskin loops. The black dial is a slightly modernized version of the historical piece with an outer minute ring, faux-patina accented triangles for the hour markers, large Arabic numerals displaying the hours one through twelve beneath these, and smaller Arabic numerals displaying thirteen through twenty-four beneath those. Towards the center of the dial is the modern Hamilton logo, with syringe style hour and minute hands sweeping over the face alongside an arrow-tipped and lollipop counterweight seconds hand. Hidden behind a solid case back and powering the watch is the manually-wound ETA 2801-2. This is a workhorse movement capable of a 42-hour reserve and, as expected, features a hacking mechanism. This new addition to the Khaki collection is currently priced by the brand at the highly-accessible price of $475

The differences between the modern homage and the vintage original are few and far between, with even the slight tweaks remaining faithful to the military codes of the historical design. Of these changes, the original watch, in its many forms, was most often 34 or 36 mm, while this new watch is 38 mm — a change likely having to do with the practicality of using the traditional Khaki case available for production. The crown on this case is also slightly larger than the original, and the choice of sandblasting — while giving the watch a rugged appearance — does further refine the modern watch compared to its unapologetically unrefined forbearer. The style of the dial is virtually untouched, although the seconds hand is somewhat enlarged, and the use of faux-patina SuperLuminova is a modern addition, as is the use of the Hamilton logo to what was historically an unbranded face.

Hamilton has taken obvious efforts to retain the original ethos of the military piece. Besides the maintenance of the general design in the case shape and dial configuration, Hamilton also chose to use a manually-wound movement — a rarity for the brand — along with a solid case back. The dial, now including a corporate logo, is absent an intruding date window, and the addition of SuperLuminova faux-patina gives the watch its strong vintage appeal and modern functionality. Even the sandblasted case, larger crown, and choice of strap provide the watch with a stronger military style — if not exactly historically accurate — so it’s unlikely to draw much criticism.

For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we compare the Hanhart Pioneer One LE to its historical predecessor, click here.

Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first learning about 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.

Six Dive Watches that Made a Splash in 2017

As we approach the end of 2017 and prepare for a new year of watch releases in 2018, we wanted to take a look back at some of the most noteworthy timepieces that came out this year. Check back each day this week for a new list focused on everything that 2017 had to offer. — The WatchTime editors

Diving watches are arguably the most popular type of watch on the market today. They’ve become almost ubiquitous due to their sporty and practical nature and attractive layout, enticing both long-time enthusiasts and neophytes alike (It’s without-a-doubt the type of watch we encounter the most often in the wild). Anyways, a bevy of impressive diving watches this year proved that, once again, they remain a bright spot for an industry.

After launching the Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph in 2016, Audemars Piguet followed it up at SIHH 2017 with new, colorful versions of the non-chronograph Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver. The first version of this luxury dive watch was launched in 2010, followed by a ceramic version in 2013. AP refers to the new models as “funky color editions;” each has a 42-mm case made of stainless steel with a sapphire caseback through which you can see the in-house automatic Caliber 3120. The dials — in choices of blue, yellow, white, green, and orange, with matching rubber straps — all feature Audemars Piguet’s familiar “Méga Tapisserie” motif and color-coordinated diving scales on the inner rotating divers’ bezel. You can read more here.

Japan’s Grand Seiko had its biggest year ever this year after the news broke at Baselworld that is was becoming an independent brand separate from the monolithic Seiko entity. This meant that the brand was re-releasing all its classic timepieces with rebranded dials. Of course, they also released new models including the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Professional 600m Diver, which became the first-ever mechanical Grand Seiko dive watch. The watch’s case, made of high-intensity titanium, measures 46.9 mm in diameter and 17 mm thick. Designed with saturation diving in mind, it features the valve-free helium-resistance technology pioneered by Seiko in some of its earliest divers’ watches, which uses an exceptionally heavy-duty case construction and an L-shaped gasket. You can read more here.

Rolex: new Sea-Dweller

It was another big year of anniversaries in the luxury watch world. While Omega marks 60 years of the Speedmaster and Patek Philippe, 40 years of the Aquanaut, Rolex celebrates the half-century mark for its extreme divers’ watch, the Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller, by launching an all-new model, with a larger case and modern caliber. The original Rolex Sea-Dweller, created in 1967, was designed as a resilient and useful tool for professional deep-sea divers of that era. Among its many notable features was a helium escape valve, patented by Rolex that same year, which preserved the watch’s water-resistance while regulating the air pressure accumulated inside its case during the decompression phases of deep-water saturation dives. You can read more about the latest version of what is probably the world’s most famous dive watch here.

Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba - orange/black - strap

You may remember the Hamilton Frogman from 2016, but this year, the brand released a more casual dive watch with the Khaki Navy Scuba that should definitely appeal to all the desk divers out there. To create a more streamlined, less military-industrial look for the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba, the brand dispensed with the Frogman’s chunky crown-protection device (which was an echo of the 1951 watch that inspired it) and helium-release valve, scaled the 46-mm case down to a more wrist-friendly 40 mm, and opted for stainless steel rather than titanium for the case material. The Khaki Navy Scuba’s water resistance is a more common (but still impressive) 100 meters as compared to the Frogman’s “extreme” 1,000-meter level. Elements that have been retained include the black dial with luminescent triangular hour markers, the screw-down crown, and the unidirectional rotating bezel, here available in black with an orange-highlighted sector for the first 15 minutes of dive time. Orange is also used for dial highlights like the central seconds hand and minute track.  You can read more here.

Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver - front

To develop the BR 03-92 Diver, Bell & Ross consulted not only its watchmakers, but also experienced divers and other underwater experts, its goal being to develop a truly professional-grade diving instrument that would meet the strict ISO 6425 international standards that timepieces must meet before being labeled as as such. Among these criteria are a minimum water resistance of 100 meters, a calibrated bezel for preselecting dive times that is protected against accidental rotation, and indexes that are legible at a predetermined distance while underwater. (For a full explanation of the ISO 6425 criteria, and why many so-called dive watches fail to meet them, click here.) The BR 03-92 hits these marks with flying colors: its squared ergonomic case, made of satin-polished steel and measuring 42 mm in diameter, is water-resistant to 300 meters. It is equipped with a 60-minute uni-directional bezel with a luminescent dot at 12 o’clock for orientation. Its crown is protected by an impact-resistant guard and is fitted with a rubber insert for easy handling. You can read more here.

Citizen Promaster Eco-Drive Professional Diver 1000M - soldier

In a sea of retro-inspired dive watches launched during Baselworld 2017, Citizen stood out as one of the few brands that dared to launch something radically new. The Citizen Promaster Eco-Drive Professional Diver 1000m is the world’s first solar-powered watch capable of saturation diving – and the Japanese brand’s second 1,000-meter diver. The Promaster Eco-Drive Professional Diver 1000m (Reference BN7020-09E) was one of three major Promaster additions introduced in Basel this year and, thanks to its uncompromising look and a 52.5-mm-large and 22.2- mm-thick titanium case, also the one that stood out the most. Perhaps more importantly, it’s one of the few watches that rightfully fall into the category of “extreme dive watches.” In other words, it’s a contemporary tool watch. Its primary function is to withstand even extremes of pressure and to safely measure elapsed time under water, even for saturation divers, and definitely not to fit under a French cuff dress shirt. The Promaster 1000m is ISO 6425 compliant and has been tested “for 15 days in a pressurized chamber that contains helium and oxygen or even 100-percent helium gas” and then reverted “back to atmospheric pressure within three minutes after high-speed decompression.” Citizen also partnered with the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAM- STEC) to test the Promaster 1000m under operating conditions. The Promaster 1000m was most likely the most “serious” dive watch introduced in 2017, and given its equally serious price tag of $2,300, there is probably only one thing we could wish for: a second version for Baselworld 2018, powered by one of the brand’s well-known mechanical movements. Learn more here.

Five Watches Under $2,000 You May Have Missed This Year

As 2017 comes to an end, the WatchTime editors wanted to cover some notable watches of the year in a variety of price ranges. First up, we covered a selection of timepieces under $500. Now, here’s our guide to watches under $2,000 that you may have missed throughout everything that 2017 had to offer. — The WatchTime staff

The sub-$2,000 range of watches is one of the most universal in all of horology. This is where mid-tier brands get to play around and stake their ground as a value proposition, lower-priced brands get complicated, and upper-middle brands get to offer an entry-level timepiece. This year, we had so many watches to choose from in this price range that it was almost impossible to limit it to five. Did we miss your favorite purchase of the year? Sound off in the comments and let us know.

First off, a few honorable mentions. The Bulova Chronograph C was a favorite of many in our office. The Hamilton Khaki Navy Field Scuba offers a lot of value for its good looks and modified ETA movement. A personal favorite of mine is still the Alpina Startimer 99MG, a limited edition that changes just enough design-wise from the original Startimer to entice me but retains its flight pedigree. The Mido Ocean Star Caliber 80 is also one that deserves a second glance. And, of course, like I mentioned in my sub-$500 article, it’s hard to beat Seiko in this area as well.

Rado HyperChrome Captain CookLet’s get this out of the way: I am biased in my appreciation of the Rado HyperChrome Captain Cook. I liked the 37 mm version so much that I ended up purchasing one for myself a few months back. This timepiece is so out-of-the-box for Rado that I couldn’t help myself. Combine that with the excellent size at 37 mm — I have small wrists and other diving watches I’ve owned have ended up looking like dinner plates on my wrist — and this checked off all the boxes for me. One of my favorite things about this watch is how faithful it is to the 1962 original. The size has been upped slightly from 35.5 mm to 37, but the crown, the date window placement and style, the inward-sloping bezel, and the caseback are all identical. It embraces its vintage background in the absolute best way. The 37 mm Rado HyperChrome Captain Cook is priced at $1,900 and it also comes in multiple 45 mm versions.

Baume and Mercier Clifton Club
The Baume & Mercier Clifton Club 10338.

The Clifton Club collection from Baume & Mercier was without a doubt the Swiss brand’s major focus for 2017. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t scroll through Instagram without finding a Clifton Club staring back at me. But, unlike with other timepieces that have gone through similar levels of promotion, the Clifton Club deserved it. Of the five watches in the collection, two of them are priced right under $2,000, making them a perfect addition to our list. The orange and black color scheme works well and, just as they advertised, I can imagine this watch making a seamless transition from the office to the gym. All the watches are stainless steel, 42 mm, powered by Sellita movements, and have a thickness of 10.3 mm, making them the ideal size to slip underneath a dress shirt sleeve. This uniformity only adds to the appeal in my opinion, meaning there’s no sacrificing substance through the variety of style options. The Baume and Mercier Clifton Club 10337 and 10338 are both priced at $1,950.

Nomos Club Campus - wrist

Of all the watch brands I write about, the one I probably get the most questions about from non-watch enthusiasts is Nomos Glashütte. The German brand really owns the market among millenials looking to purchase their first serious watch. It’s the combination of an impressive design that appeals to the Instagram-era as well as an intelligent marketing approach that divides each collection into bite-size descriptors. One of the latest releases from the brand that fits this trend is the Club Campus series that is targeted to, you guessed it, people about to graduate high school or college. These are fun, crowd-pleasing watches that boast an in-house caliber to boot. The three watches in the collection come in two different sizes (36 and 38 mm) and are all stainless steel. Something really interesting about all three is that they feature a California dial, meaning Arabic numerals up top and Roman numerals on the bottom. To my knowledge, this is the first-and-only time Nomos has ever made a dial like that, which adds its own sort of funky peculiarity to the mix. The Club Campus series starts at $1,500 for the 36 mm and goes up to $1,650 for the 38 mm version in the brand’s trademark Nacht blue — my personal favorite. Each model is also available with a sapphire crystal caseback for an extra chunk of change, otherwise they come with a closed stainless steel back.

Oris ChronOris Date

Oris has really embraced its vintage side recently. From the constant churn of Sixty-Five divers, to this year’s fan-favorite addition — the ChronOris Date. The original ChronOris was actually the brand’s very first chronograph back in the 1970’s and has been produced off-and-on ever since. Currently, the ChronOris Date is the only non-chronograph ChronOris in the collection, but it’s also the one that is the most heavily influenced by its ‘70’s background. Lucky for us, the lack of a chronograph movement places it nicely into our the sub-$2,000 price range. It includes two crowns, the one at two o’clock manages the time, while the one at four o’clock controls the inner rotating bezel. You get to choose between a stainless steel bracelet or a leather, rubber, or NATO strap — personally I’m a fan of the leather. It’s priced at $1,750 for the strap versions and $1,950 on a bracelet.

Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Military Edition

Bell & Ross introduced a trio of new watches under the Vintage Collection label this year. All three jettison the recognizable B&R square case, but only the BR V1-92 comes with a military-inspired sibling. Bell & Ross — which was founded in 1992 — has no authentic military history of its own, but it leans heavily on historic defense themes to attract a wide fanbase. For this specific watch, the brand chose to use rising minute increments rather than traditional hour markers and to include a date window that is squeezed in between three and four o’clock. Finally, there’s a red logo above six o’clock that spells “MT” for Military Type. Inside the 38.5 mm case, the BR Caliber 302 — based off of the Sellita SW-200 — offers up a 38-hour power reserve. The Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Military Edition is priced at $1,990.

Military Origins, Sporty Streamlining: Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba

At Baselworld 2016, Hamilton Watch Co. made a splash — obvious pun definitely intended — with its launch of the Khaki Navy Frogman model, a dive watch inspired by the Swiss-made, American-roots brand’s history as a provider to military divers. This year, Hamilton follows it up with a less bulky, more sporty and colorful successor: the Khaki Navy Scuba.

Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba - w/ gear
The Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba is a scaled-down, streamlined successor to last year’s Frogman watch.

To create a more streamlined, less military-industrial look for the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba, the brand dispensed with the Frogman’s chunky crown-protection device (which was an echo of the 1951 watch that inspired it) and helium-release valve, scaled the 46-mm case down to a more wrist-friendly 40 mm, and opted for stainless steel rather than titanium for the case material. The Khaki Navy Scuba’s water resistance is a more common (but still impressive) 100 meters as compared to the Frogman’s “extreme” 1,000-meter level. Elements that have been retained include the black dial with luminescent triangular hour markers, the screw-down crown, and the unidirectional rotating bezel, here available in either black with an orange-highlighted sector for the first 15 minutes of dive time (or, on one of the three new models, an all-black dial and rotating bezel). Orange is also used for dial highlights like the central seconds hand and minute track. The date appears in a window at 4:30.

Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba - orange/black - strap
Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Ref. H82305931

Inside the watch is the same proprietary movement that powers the Khaki Navy Frogman, the automatic Caliber H-10, made by ETA, Hamilton’s sister brand within the Swatch Group and boasting a power reserve of 80 hours. The Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba comes on either a “soft feel” bicolor NATO strap (black exterior, orange underside) with a pin buckle or on a a triple-row stainless steel bracelet with a smart-adjusting folding clasp. Prices start at just 695 Swiss francs, or about $700 — not too deep a plunge for a Swiss-made divers’ watch with a self-winding mechanical movement.

Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba - orange/black - bracelet
Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Ref. H82305131

7 Vintage-Inspired and Retro-Look Watches from Baselworld 2017

This week, just in time for last-minute Father’s Day gift ideas for the dads in your life, we showcase notable watches in five categories that debuted at Baselworld 2017. Today, we look at seven new watches whose designs are inspired by historical and vintage models.

Blancpain resurrects a 1950s-era timepiece designed to meet the strict standards for U.S. military use with the new Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC, its latest vintage-inspired take on its Fifty Fathoms dive watch collection. The original watch — engineered specifically to pass a battery of tests conducted by the United States Navy, which was seeking a timepiece for use on underwater missions — was notable for the water-tightness indicator on its dial, specifically a large disk at 6 o’clock that changed its color from white to red if liquid leaked into the case. In addition to this vintage-inspired indicator, the watch exhibits other hallmark features of Fifty Fathoms watches, including a black dial with large, luminous indices for legibility deep underwater, a unidirectional rotating bezel covered in scratch-resistant sapphire, and a water resistance of 300 meters. Its movement is the Blancpain manufacture Caliber 1151, with a four-day power reserve. Available on a NATO or sailcloth strap or a steel bracelet, the MIL-SPEC is priced from $14,000 to $16,200. For more on the watch and its history, click here.

Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec - reclining
Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC

Bulova follows up last year’s very successful Moon Watch revival with the second piece in its so-called Archive series, the Bulova Chronograph “C,” which resurrects one of the world’s most collectible Bulova watches — nicknamed the “Stars and Stripes” and discontinued just about a year after its debut in 1970. Despite its brief time in the spotlight, the Chronograph “C” appeals to many for its “patriotic” theme, representing a touchstone to the United States bicentennial year of 1976, even though the watch was long off the market by then. The modern version maintains the bold red-white-and-blue dial design, with unusually shaped hands, and thick steel case with notched “coin edge” bezel. Unlike the original model, which was powered by a mechanical Valjoux 7736 chronograph caliber, the contemporary watch contains a high-performance quartz chronograph movement. The Chronograph “C” is presented in a special box that includes two bracelets: the mesh-metal bracelet that echoes the original, and a navy-blue leather strap.

Bulova Chronograph “C”

Based on the original Hamilton Chrono-Matic — one of the watch world’s first self-winding chronographs, first released in 1968 — the Hamilton Intra-Matic 68 Autochrono has a 42-mm steel case with elongated lugs, simple pump pushers, and a large, right-side-mounted crown. Its black “reverse Panda” dial has an outer white tachymeter scale, applied hour markers with luminescent inserts, two oversized white subdials for running seconds and a 30-minute counter, and an enlarged date window at 6 o’clock. A vintage-style Hamilton logo appears at 12 o’clock. The movement is the automatic Hamilton Caliber H-31, based on the ETA 7753, which stores a 60-hour power reserve. The watch comes on a sporty, black leather, perforated “racing” strap. Limited to 1,968 pieces, the watch is priced at $2,195. For a comparison of the Intra-Matic 68 Autochrono with its historical predecessor, click here.

Hamilton Intra-matic 68 - soldier
Hamilton Intra-matic 68 Autochrono

Military Time: 10 Watches With NATO Straps

In recent years I’ve taken to “pimping out” my new and old watches, some of them military watches, by replacing their original straps with colorful NATO straps. New releases from recent Baselworld watch fairs indicate that I may have helped start a trend: many new watches now have these military-style cloth straps as original equipment. In this article, I showcase 10 of these watches.

I started swapping out original straps for NATO straps a few years ago. At first, I purchased the straps from the Australian website www.natostrap.com. These days, I mostly buy them at MisterChrono, a retailer at 23, Rue Danielle Casanova near Place Vendôme in Paris, or online at the shop’s website, www.misterchrono.com.

I do not want to claim that my affinity for NATO straps influenced some of the product managers of these well-known watch brands, but who knows? In the case of at least one brand, I can claim some direct responsibility for the decision to use this type of strap: Blancpain‘s Marc Hayek saw me wearing one in a meeting and decided on the spot that the brand would start using them. (One of those Blancpain watches is shown below.)

Where does the NATO strap come from and where did it get its name? Here’s a little bit of history for you:

The original NATO watch straps were created by Great Britain’s Ministry of Defence in the early 1970s and in 1973; they became part of the standard equipment available to British soldiers. They took their name not directly from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization but rather from the 13-digit stock number recognized by members of NATO (it is also referred to as the NATO Stock Number or NSN). The soldiers could requisition a strap by filling out a form known as G1098, which was usually shortened to G10. Thus, a member of the military who wore it did not call it a NATO strap but a G10. These first NATO straps were made of grey woven nylon, and their buckles and keepers were made of chromium-plated brass. One of their defining benefits was that the watch had a fixed pin ensuring that the strap would not break and cause the watch to be be lost. The great length of the strap made it possible to f it the strap comfortably around a uniform.

Original grey woven nylon NATO strap and plan
Original grey woven nylon NATO strap and plan

 

I don’t know for sure which watch brand was the first one to use them officially, but I assume it was Tudor. The Tudor watches have straps that look very similar to original NATO straps, but they are fixed to the watch in a different way. If you want to change them, you’ll need to take out the spring bars, while with a true NATO strap you just thread the strap through the mounted spring bars. The Tudor Heritage Chrono Blue from Baselworld 2013, shown below, is an example.

Now let’s have a look at 10 watches equipped with original (not replacement) NATO straps.

Tudor Heritage Chrono Blue
Tudor Heritage Chrono Blue
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronographe
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronographe
Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Chrono
Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Chrono

 

Chanel J12 with crocodile leather NATO strap, including diamond set loops
Chanel J12 with crocodile leather NATO strap, including diamond set loops
Hamilton Pan-Europ - reclining
Hamilton Pan-Europ

 

Hamilton Khaki Pioneer Aluminum
Hamilton Khaki Pioneer Aluminum
Luminox Authorized Essential Gear for Maritime Commandos
Luminox Authorized Essential Gear for Maritime Commandos

 

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 11 - reclining
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 11
Swatch Garosugil
Swatch Garosugil
Sinn Diving watch U1000 B (EZM 6)
Sinn Diving Watch U1000 B (EZM 6)

Have I left out any watches introduced recently with a NATO strap? I’m sure I have. Please let me know any of your favorites that are not listed. (To view a video demonstrating how Tudor makes its fabric straps, and to see other examples of the watch models above, check out the original post on Watch-Insider.com.)

Hamilton ODC X-03: Space-Age Design with Hollywood Pedigree

Hamilton Watch Co. has been a provider of timepieces to filmmakers and prop masters since one of its watches first graced the silver screen in 1951’s The Frogmen. (A new piece inspired by that watch debuted this year at Baselworld.) Now the Swiss brand with American roots announces the release of a new, futuristic watch designed by an Oscar-nominated production director: the Hamilton ODC X-03.

Hamilton ODC X-03 - reclining

The Hamilton ODC X-03, a limited edition of 999 pieces, is actually the third in a trilogy of watches inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s iconic film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, which featured Hamilton watches; it follows up the X-01, which was launched in 2006, and the x-02, from 2009. It is the product of a meeting between Hamilton executives and the three-time Oscar-nominated production designer of 2014’s Interstellar, Nathan Crowley, at that year’s Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards (BTCA) in Los Angeles. (The watch company hosts the awards annually, and viewers of Interstellar will likely recall the key role a Hamilton watch played in that film.)

Hamilton ODC X-03 - front
Hamilton ODC X-03 - side

Like its most recent predecessor, the X-02, the ODC X-03 is powered by three separate movements — an automatic ETA 2671 and two ETA 901.001 quartz calibers — and features an immense 49 mm x 52 mm hexagonal case, here made of titanium with black DLC coating. The three movements display the time in three different time zones via “orbiting” subdials arranged around a photorealistic depiction of Jupiter on the dial — an image inspired by Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi blockbuster. The stick hands on the subdials are in the Hamilton brand’s signature colors of orange and black. Hamilton’s watchmakers required more than 120 different operations to construct the dial, and used cutting-edge technologies such as 3D printing (for the Jupiter dial) and laser engraving.

Hamilton ODC X-03 - angle
Hamilton ODC X-03 - dial CU

Other elements of the watch’s space-age design include the black galvanic rings around the subdials, the gaskets and rivets inspired by the Endurance spacecraft from Interstellar, the crown’s seamless integration into the case, and the caseback engraved with facts about the planet Jupiter, such as its size and temperature. The astronaut-style strap is in black textile with rubberized leather lining and attaches to the wrist with a black PVD-coated titanium buckle. The case has a sapphire crystal with double-sided nonreflective coating and is water-resistant to 100 meters. Set to launch in 2017, the Hamilton ODC X-03 will be priced at 3,500 Swiss francs (approximately $3,490).

Hamilton ODC X-03 - flat