Flight Fight: A History of IWC and Breitling Pilots’ Watches

When longtime IWC head honcho Georges Kern left his position at Richemont to become CEO of Breitling, some saw it as the latest salvo in the two Swiss brands’ historical duel for horological supremacy in the air. Here we explore in depth how both brands have made their marks on the history and evolution of pilots’ watches.

In contrast to dive watches, pilots’ watches do not have to meet any objective criteria. Good legibility under all light conditions is generally all that’s needed, and good design makes the watches what they are. A pilots’ watch looks like a pilots’ watch. But it’s precisely the design that shows the different approaches to pilots’ watches by IWC and Breitling. Both brands base their own unique designs on their long traditions and histories. In the case of IWC, the company relies heavily on its Big Pilot’s Watch from 1940, which it, and other companies like A. Lange & Söhne, supplied to the German Air Force.

IWC Big Pilot & Breitling Navitimer
Icons: IWC has offered its Big Pilot’s Watch with its accurate pocketwatch movement since 1940. Breitling introduced its first Navitimer with chronograph and slide-rule bezel in 1952. Both were originally designed for use in aviation.

Typical features included the military-style triangle with two dots at 12 o’clock, sans-serif numerals (a plain, unadorned bar for the numeral 1), and dagger-shaped hands. Today these same features are found on every pilots’ watch made by IWC. Even the Mark XVIII follows this same family design – although its predecessor had different numerals and hands (the pilots’ watch Mark 11, built for the Royal Air Force in 1949). The only exceptions are the models dedicated to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his “Little Prince,” in which IWC uses serif numerals, elegant blue or brown dials, silver hands and polished bezels. A conical crown, which makes operation while wearing gloves easier, is found on many other IWC models.

But IWC really unleashes its functions. The collection ranges from a simple hand-wound watch to chronographs with and without split seconds, world-time watches, and perpetual calendars. And with its limited Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55, IWC even restores its original 55-mm diameter. It closely approximates the design of the original – with beige luminous material and a matte case – though it has a small seconds display (the original model had a central seconds hand).

IWC can also reveal its modern side. The brand’s Top Gun models have a matte-black ceramic case and a textile strap for a contemporary military look, while still maintaining other traditional features. For this reason, these watches are easily recognizable as IWCs. The Top Gun Miramar line presents another interesting variation of the design: a muted green dial, beige luminous material, a red hour track, a polished ceramic case and an olive-green textile strap come together to create an exciting mix of modern and retro elements.

Breitling Navitimer & IWC Big Pilot Watch
Today’s Classics: Breitling has been building the Navitimer (steel, $8,215) with visual features that have remained virtually unchanged since 1962. An automatic in-house caliber ticks inside. IWC has only cautiously changed its Big Pilot’s Watch (steel, $12,900) over the last several years. The newest version of IWC’s seven-day automatic movement has powered the watch for the past year.

Breitling can also look back on a long tradition of pilots’ watches. Today, its iconic Navitimer looks much as it did just a few years after its introduction in 1952, when it was given a light-colored dial. These chronographs, with their distinctive rotating slide-rule bezels, are available with numerals as well as markers. Both types are immediately recognizable as Navitimers. Traditionally, one can choose between a black leather strap with a lighter stitched seam and a seven-row metal bracelet with offset links.

Breitling offers its icon in 43-mm and 46-mm sizes. There are also models that offer various additional functions along with a chronograph: a second time zone, world-time indication, full calendar and perpetual calendar. A wide selection of limited editions varies the design – from the re-release of the first models issued in 1952 for the pilots’ organization AOPA and elegant brown or blue dials to the modern look of Blacksteel (matte-black-coated case with black hands and markers on a black rubber strap).

IWC Big Pilots' Watch
Homage to the Beginnings: With special editions in 2016, both brands recall the first iconic pilots’ watch models. IWC is offering a 100-piece special edition of its Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 (titanium, $14,800, above) in its original 55-mm diameter. The Breitling Navitimer AOPA with logo is limited to 500 pieces ($7,655, below).
Breitling Navitimer AOPA

Breitling is also one of the manufacturers that react most strongly to prevailing trends; it introduces new models to the market almost on an annual basis. This is clearly the case with its pilots’ watches, especially in the Chronomat and Avenger lines. Both always have a rotating bezel with raised markers.

The Chronomat – with its distinctively detailed numerals on the dial, round crown, and polished markers, which originally formed a square on the dial – alters its pilots’-watch look with sporty-elegant and modern options. In addition, other bezel numerals and markers are offered in this collection. Black-coated models with black or anthracite-colored markers and hands lend the watches a touch of modern sportiness. The Airborne models represent a timeless military style with more practical-looking numerals and markers and textile straps.

IWC & Breitling Military Pilots Watches
Military Flyers: With black cases and textile straps, both brands offer a military-style look: IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun (ceramic, $36,000) and Breitling Avenger Hurricane (Breitlight, $8,390).

But Breitling’s Avenger line goes still further in this direction. Its stencil-like numerals recall the distinctive look of military equipment. And the crown and pushers are designed with function in mind. In contrast to the Chronomat collection, which features chronographs exclusively, the Avenger line also includes three-hand watches. The look can also be varied with different straps: a polished metal bracelet for classic sportiness, leather for a more retro look, a rubber strap for functionality or a textile strap for military appeal.

Breitling is known as a pilots’-watch brand to an even greater extent than IWC. At Breitling, this means maintaining traditions as well as satisfying the customer by offering contemporary designs. Watches are also produced to meet the demands of today’s pilots. For this reason, Breitling sometimes dispenses with the mechanical movements that have come to be expected in a luxury watch. This results in extremely precise multifunction watches that have countdown, alarm, and additional time-zone functions.

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Le Petit Prince”
Elegant Flyers: Polished surfaces, applied markers and decorative finishes on the dial add elegance: Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Le Petit Prince” (rose gold, $32,400, above) and Breitling Chronomat 44 (steel, $9,060, below).
Breitling Chronomat 44

Watches in the brand’s Professional line typically have a functional case and large numerals at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. Some have rotating bezels for quick calculation of flight routes. The hands are partially skeletonized to permit view of the LCD indications at the top and bottom of the dial. Breitling’s Emergency model attained fame with its integrated distress beacon. The chunky case houses a screw connector for the antenna, which wearers view as a positive feature of the watch, not a hindrance.

The newest addition to the Professional collection is the Exospace B55 for wireless connection to a smartphone. The user can set the time using the phone, as well as reading start and landing times on the phone’s large screen. With its black case and gray or blue hands with matching rubber strap, it has a modern, high-tech look.

IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Miramar & Breitling Chronomat 44 Airborne
Retro Flyers: Vintage luminous, functional design, unadorned textile straps and earthy colors come together for a retro military look: IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Miramar ($10,900, left) and Breitling Chronomat 44 Airborne ($8,030, right).

IWC and Breitling interpret the pilots’ watch in different ways. IWC uses an iconic model from its past and rolls out a homogeneous collection of pilots’ watches with unmistakable features. Different colors and materials transform the lines and push them in different directions for an elegant or military look.

Breitling chooses another path. This brand continues to offer and produce its pilots’ watch icon, the Navitimer. Variations are offered with special editions in which the company creates a feeling of greater elegance or modernity through its use of different colors and materials. Breitling has also created collections that are inspired by contemporary or military designs. Bracelets and straps also provide numerous possibilities to modify the design.

Both brands rely on distinctive features so it’s always immediately possible to recognize the model as an IWC or a Breitling. But where IWC tinkers with its design and continues to develop its look or make steps toward its origins, Breitling invents itself anew while still leaving its icon intact.

Breitling Exospace B55
The Breitling Exospace B55 (titanium, $7,180), with smartphone connectivity for flight times, has a modern, technical appeal with digital displays, a black case, functional design, and a dark gray rubber strap.

This article originally appeared in the March-April 2017 issue of WatchTime.

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Field Ready: The Complicated Story of the Simple Field Watch

How the field watch journeyed from saving lives in the hellish trenches of World War I to decorating the wrists of fashionably rugged-looking civilians a century later is a rather befuddling tale. In this feature from our April-May 2019 issue, correspondent Allen Farmelo takes us through it.

At first only acceptable for women, the wristwatch finally gained currency among men during the American bicycle craze of the late 1800s when a bevy of clever devices for strapping watches to the wrist – then called “wristlets” – were developed and marketed for hands-free time telling. During the second Boer War (1899-1902) and World War I (1914-1918), soldiers began buying these wristwatches because they believed, quite accurately, that a watch could help keep them alive by synchronizing movements at the front with the larger artillery blasts happening behind them. When service ended, some survivors of these wars began to use their wristwatches for hunting, fishing, hiking, bicycling and driving the occasional automobile. Watch manufacturers in Europe and America were quick to catch both the military and civilian trends, and advertisements readily conflated both uses into one message: rugged men doing rugged things needed a rugged wristwatch.

Vintage Rolex Explorer - Christie's
A first-series Rolex Oyster Perpetual Ref. 6350 with honeycomb dial from 1953 that sold for CHF 68,750 at Christie’s Geneva on May 16, 2016. The time-only Rolex Explorer was a rebranded Oyster with numerals on the dial that debuted in 1953 as a rugged tool for the era’s most aggressive adventurers.

In 1903, Dimier Frères & Cie. issued a patent for a watch case with attached lugs to hold the wrist strap, and as early as 1913, the New York-based mail order company Ingersoll – capable of churning out as many as 8,000 watches a day – was advertising these new wristwatches to “outdoor folks” and “husky sportsmen.” Other companies dubbed similar watches the “Skirmisher,” the “Campaign Watch” and the “Territorial Wrist Watch.” Before long, “Khaki” began to appear in ads for watches with straps made of beige webbing, and as early as 1917, the American company Depollier was selling moisture-proof wristwatches with luminous dials and Waltham-built movements as the “Khaki Watch.” The field watch as we know it today was thus codified over 100 years ago.

Shedding Victorian Values and Embracing the Great Outdoors

While these new wristwatches appealed to soldiers for obvious reasons, they also appealed to a whole generation that was shrugging off the high decoration and strict etiquette of the Victorian and Edwardian eras in favor of stripped down, functional designs and increasingly relaxed social norms. Between the World Wars, wristwatches also aligned with a rising obsession with the great outdoors, epitomized by the legacy of John Muir’s conservationism, Teddy Roosevelt’s formation of the American National Parks and the vast popularity of Ernest Hemingway’s stories about the contemplative WWI veteran and trout fisherman Nick Adams. This was a context within which a rugged tool watch could begin to capture the hearts of civilians.

Rolex, Tudor and the Civilian Roots of the Field Watch

In 1919, Hans Wilsdorf moved Rolex from London to La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, where he began to perfect his waterproof Oyster case, and in 1946, he formed Tudor in order to offer similar but more affordable watches. A brilliant marketeer, Wilsdorf would exploit headline-grabbing explorers and athletes as watch brand testimonees, cementing the idea that a wristwatch could act as a symbol of one’s ruggedness and bravery. That symbolic power was – and still is – one of the core appeals of the field watch.

Even though Rolex took on only limited military contracts, many World War II soldiers – especially pilots – would buy Oysters for themselves because the legibility and accuracy far exceeded that of mil-spec watches. Wilsdorf couldn’t have asked for a better promotional lift, as these Rolex-wearing military personnel were fast becoming folk heroes and style icons. Capitalizing on that marketing opportunity, Wilsdorf rebranded the Rolex Oyster as the Air-King in 1945, a move that dovetailed perfectly with the emergence of the Jet Age after WWII. In 1953, Wilsdorf rebranded an Oyster with numerals on the dial as the Explorer, this time capitalizing on an Oyster having made it to the top of Mt. Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary’s team. Though neither the Air-King nor the Explorer were military issues, they brought straightforward aesthetics and battle-ready durability to the wrists of countless civilians.

Tudor Ranger - Vintage 1967
The Tudor Ranger was an affordable version of the Rolex Explorer.
Tudor Heritage Ranger - Contemporary
Reissued as the 41-mm Heritage Ranger in 2014, this watch helped Tudor achieve the vast popularity of their current line of vintage-inspired tool watches.

The Air-King raises questions about the differences between pilots’ watches and field watches. Though many watches were designed with pilots in mind (e.g., Charles Lindbergh’s clever Longines Hour Angle, Zeniths with billboard-sized dials, various chronographs and eventually GMTs), many WWII mil-specs covered watches for both air and ground divisions, making it difficult to draw a clear line between the two categories. Because most civilians never become pilots, commercial marketing of these watches focused on “the field,” a term which likely derives from ‘battlefield’ but which has long since become synonymous with the great outdoors. In the case of Rolex – as well as many other brands – the distinction between a pilots’ watch and a field watch may come down to naming conventions and marketing, neither of which deliver a definitive distinction.

Nonetheless, the Rolex Explorer was popular enough during the 1950s that Tudor brought out the Ranger as an affordable alternative in the early 1960s. With its black face, bold luminous markers and an impenetrable Rolex Oyster case, the Ranger epitomized the simple aesthetics and functionality of the field watch. In 2014, Tudor reissued it as the Heritage Ranger, a 41-mm field watch with a camouflage strap that helped shuttle the company back to the top of Swiss watchmaking. That camouflage strap suggests a military connection that was never really there while also capitalizing on the recent revival of camouflage in popular fashion; one can imagine that Hans Wilsdorf, the clever marketeer, would wholly approve.

The Rise of the Hamilton Khaki Field Watch

Why would a WWII-era watch design still hold sway over the popular imagination during the 1950s and ’60s, a time when fast-paced futurism promised to put the war as far behind as possible? Part of the answer is the endurance of military men as sex symbols in WWII-themed films after the war – especially 1951’s Oscar-nominated film The Frogmen, which helped cement Hamilton’s military watches into the popular imagination as symbols of masculinity and bravery.

Like most American manufacturers, Hamilton stuck to WWII-era military specifications after the war, but in 1964, the U.S. Department of Defense issued watch specification MIL-W-46374A, the template for Hamilton’s 33-mm Ref. 9219, a time-only watch with a 24-hour inner track that Hamilton would readily produce millions of. Predictably, those numbers swelled during the Vietnam War.

Hamilton Khaki Field Watch
Today’s 38-mm Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical is larger than its predecessors from the 1970s and ’80s, but the field-watch aesthetics and durability remain largely unchanged.

By the end of the 1960s, Hamilton had partnered with L.L. Bean to sell co-branded versions of the 9219 through the Maine-based mail order company’s catalog. Offered alongside Swiss Army knives, compasses, thick wool socks and other outdoorsy goods, Hamilton would repeat this co-branded marketing strategy with Orvis and Brookstone, as well as selling countless Hamilton-branded Khaki Fields to other commercial outlets. When the MIL-W-46374A specification became defunct in the 1980s – leaving massive manufacturing capability potentially inert – Hamilton began to hit the civilian market even harder with the Hamilton Khaki Field Watch, effectively transforming this military icon into an outdoorsy lifestyle accessory.

Mil-Spec Becomes Mil-Chic

In a stroke of good luck for Hamilton and other companies selling field watches, the military-influenced style was undergoing a complex journey into high fashion during the 1970s and ’80s. In 1971, Yves Saint-Laurent unexpectedly turned camouflage prints into runway chic, a gesture in perfect sync with anti-war protesters in the U.S. who sported combat uniforms with studied irony. By the 1980s, politically minded punk bands like The Clash helped make army jackets as common as blue jeans, while Andy Warhol started painting huge canvases with camouflage patterns. Camo had become a fashion statement, which in turn fueled a significant uptick in army surplus stores at the time.

It was in this milieu that the preppy weekender look – which has always borrowed liberally from military garb – would ascend to great heights. Paul Newman and the ever-outdoorsy Robert Redford sported aviator sunglasses, khaki pants and field jackets with effortless aplomb and massive sex appeal. Meanwhile Andy Warhol – somewhat confusingly as a glamorous, gay, urban art star – complemented his Levi’s, Chelsea boots and horned-rimmed glasses with a red L.L. Bean down-filled puffy vest. Passing away in 1987, this would be one of Warhol’s last looks, one so elemental and iconic that’s it’s been a men’s fashion staple ever since.

CWC Military watch
CWC has been selling field watches to civilians since the 1990s. The 38-mm General Service model pictured here is just one of many mil-spec models CWC offers today.

These outdoorsy styles became so widespread and have endured for so long that today we hardly notice the military origins of camouflage-print Louis Vuitton handbags, $500 Prada aviators, or the epaulets and ammunition holders on a Ralph Lauren jacket. Following yet another resurgence of the preppy outdoorsy look, today’s so-called heritage brands (L.L. Bean among them) are reissuing items from their back catalogs as the latest styles. Accordingly, in 2018, Hamilton was able to bring out the Khaki Field Mechanical, a hand-wound version that’s become a hit all over again – including, for the first time, fashionable camouflage straps.

Today’s Khaki Field series ranges from blacked-out 50-mm giants to svelte 38-mm steel versions with aged lume and olive green NATO straps. The latter are largely faithful to the aesthetics of the early Khaki Field Watch, and – following current trends down into the sub-40-mm zone – some of the most popular. The resurgence of the Hamilton Khaki Field proves once again that, while technology marches more or less forward, fashion will perennially circle back on itself.

The Mechanical Field Watch in the 21st Century

Beyond Tudor and Hamilton, the field watch is seeing a broad resurgence among many brands, old and new. Below are a few examples that demonstrate how brands today are playing with field-watch style, mixing up various features to create new models that scratch that old itch for durability, simple design and the symbolic power of sporting a tough little tool watch.

CWC General Service (£199-£449) – In the 1970s, the Cabot Watch Company, or CWC, established itself in order to snatch up newly available contracts with Britain’s Ministry of Defense as Rolex and Hamilton relinquished these shrinking partnerships. By the 1990s, CWC was starting to sell mil-spec watches to civilians, and today, CWC’s blocky, utilitarian General Service models are available in a range of compelling and affordable models. The CWC W10 GS, for example, sports an ETA 2824 automatic mechanical movement, a rounded, 38-mm stainless-steel case and a classic mil-spec dial that could easily pass for a WWII-era watch. Other CWC GS models recreate the quartz units of the 1980s and ’90s in a number of military-inspired colorways.

Longines Heritage Military
No two of the Longines Heritage Military’s “aged” dials will be the same. With its simple 38-mm steel case and minimal dial text, it captures the stripped-down appeal of a classic field watch.
Bell & Ross BR V1-92
At just 38 mm across, the Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Black Steel is one of the smallest watches in the Bell & Ross catalog, but its striking, straightforward dial gives it massive wrist presence.

Longines Heritage Military Watch ($2,150) – Despite its somewhat ordinary name, the Longines Military Watch was one of the most alarming watches in all categories for 2018 because it included an intentionally “aged” dial. That aging was achieved by randomly splashing flecks of dark paint onto the cream dial, creating what many call “fauxtina.” That dial may look a little odd against the otherwise unblemished case and the brand new blued steel hands, but these speckles add depth and warmth to the simple elegance of this 38.5-mm time-only field watch. The L888 movement (built on an ETA A31 base) beats a little slower than today’s standard, but in so doing offers up a robust 65-hour power reserve.

Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Military and BR V1-92 Black Steel ($1,990) – Where CWC and Longines can draw on their own heritage, younger brands don’t let that stand in the way of producing some of today’s most compelling field watches. Consider the Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Military and BR V1-92 Black Steel, two 38.5-mm automatic mechanical field watches released in 2017. Bell & Ross excels at playfully patching together preexisting design elements to create their own concoctions, and with the BR V1-92 Military they’ve done so with characteristic grace: aged lume, a minutes track around the dial (no hours), a “mouse pip” at noon, a red “MT” logo (stands for Military Type) and a decidedly plain brushed steel case. For those seeking something more straightforward, the Black Steel’s monochromatic dial offers eye-grabbing legibility and classic military style. Though neither model resembles any historical reference, both the Military and the Black Steel look just like field watches ought to; as such, they are brilliant examples of how functional military design elements have become fashionable aesthetic cues over time.

Weiss 38-mm Standard Issue Field Watch ($950-$1,995) – Another interesting riff on the field watch comes from California-based Weiss Watches, a recent phenomenon in the American watch scene. We might catch a bit of irony in the name Standard Issue Field Watch, as this design is neither standard nor issued; instead, like the Bell & Ross, Weiss has combined classic field-watch details to excellent effect. With a 38-mm steel case, a subdial for running seconds at 6 and a railroad minutes track, this watch exudes classic field-watch style. Meanwhile, the “Los Angeles, CA” label across the dial announces that there’s no bona fide military connection whatsoever. Two movements are available: the manually wound Caliber 1005 built on an ETA 7001 base and the automatic Caliber 2100 built on an Eterna 39 base. Those looking for a bigger watch will want to jump up to the 42-mm model that features Weiss’s in-house manually wound Caliber 2005 (starting at $2,250 for steel and going up to $8,950 for the solid 18k yellow-gold models).

Seals Model C Field Explorer ($640) – Affordable, funky and inspired by seemingly everything from WWII at once, the Seals Model C Field Explorer combines various field-watch elements into a wholly original-looking watch. The blocky case and wire lugs are reminiscent of a Panerai Radiomir, while the generously lumed numerals and markers, broad hands and high contrast outer track offer classic field-watch legibility. Inside is a Swiss Technology Production 1-11 automatic mechanical movement capable of storing 44 hours of power. For the funkiest version, go for the aged stainless-steel finish with the blue dial.

Weiss Standard issue Field Watch
Weiss Standard issue Field Watch
Seals Model C Field Explorer
Seals Model C Field Explorer

The Future of the Field Watch

Where complicated watches draw us into nuanced engineering feats and bejeweled watches dazzle us with diamonds, the field watch must stick to the simplest design formula without succumbing to banality. Witnessing and judging attempts by watchmakers to meet that design challenge is surprisingly rewarding, enough so that over a century after its inception, simple field watches are some of the most highly anticipated iterations each year. Despite the slow pace of their evolution – or perhaps because of it – we can count on field watches to hold our imaginations, not only as companions for life’s various adventures, but as symbols of who we’d like to be as we explore, scout, range and traverse whatever it is we consider to be the field.

Eight Significant Pilot’s Watches That Landed in 2019

As we approach the end of 2019 and prepare for 2020 — surely destined to be another interesting year in the world of watches — we take a look back at some of the most noteworthy timepieces that came out this year, in various popular categories. Today, we look at eight watches from 2019 targeted at pilots and aviation enthusiasts.

Bell & Ross’s BR 03-92 MA-1 pays tribute to to the MA-1 “bomber,” whose parachute-derived nylon shell and reversible khaki green and orange design took it from utilitarian military gear in the ’50s to a stylish fashion statement in the ’70s. The 42-mm case is made of dark khaki-colored ceramic and The dial, also khaki-colored, is in the “sandwich” style with two superimposed metal plates, the lower one coated with orange Super-LumiNova that shines through the stenciled, cut-out numerals and indices in the upper layer. The calfskin leather strap — like the jacket, dark khaki on its its top layer and orange on its lining, and reversible — fastens to the wrist with a gunmetal-colored PVD steel pin buckle. This “flight jacket for the wrist” is powered by the automatic BR-CAL.302, based on the Sellita SW.300-1, which offers a 28,800-vph frequency and a 38-hour power reserve. More info, and original photos taken at the watch’s U.S. debut at CoutureTime 2019, are available here.

Bell & Ross Br 03-92 MA-1
Bell & Ross BR 03-92 MA-1

Britain’s Bremont unveiled its latest aviation history tribute piece, the H-4 Hercules Limited Edition “Spruce Goose” at our 2019 WatchTime New York collectors’ event. The watch is named for an American prototype plane from the 1940s designed by Howard Hughes and nicknamed “Spruce Goose” by its critics for its use of wood in construction due to a steel shortage; the H-4, conceived as a World War II transport aircraft, had the largest wingspan at the time of any aircraft built at 320 feet, 11 inches, and is currently on display at Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. The commemorative watch uses the company’s Trip-Tick case construction, with an onion-style screw-down crown and stepped-bezel, and is available in steel, rose gold, and platinum. Each dial has an outer curved GMT ring around a pilot-inspired minute ring and syringe-style hands. Inside is Bremont’s automatic Caliber BWC/02, visible through a sapphire caseback, and featuring a four-bladed propeller rotor made of  birchwood from the original H-4 Hercules fuselage. Find all versions and more details here.

Bremont H-4 Spruce Goose - RG
Bremont H-4 Hercules Limited Edition “Spruce Goose”

As perhaps the quintessential aviation watch brand, Breitling as usual put out a wealth of pilots’ timekeepers in 2019, many of them worthy of the end-of-year highlight roster. But the new collection that stands out for us is the military-themed Aviator 8 Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, particularly the 43-mm B01 Chronograph below, the only one of the three pieces equipped with an in-house movement, Breitling’s B01. The watch is inspired by the warplane produced by American manufacturer Curtiss Wright between 1938 and 1944 and famously piloted by the so-called Flying Tigers, a group of American volunteers in the Chinese Air Force, during World War II. The COSC-certified, self-winding movement is distinguished by its column-wheel-driven chronograph function and its impressive 70-hour power reserve. The dial layout features silvery white subdials on the military green dial at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, with a date window at 4:30. The B01 Chronograph is also the only one of the Curtiss Warhawk models with a transparent sapphire window in the caseback, albeit one that also features a printed image of the warplane with its “Flying Tigers” shark imagery and the historical Curtiss logo. For more details on the entire Curtiss Warhawk collection, click here.

Breitling Aviator 8 B01 Chronograph 43 Curtiss Warhawk - reclining
Breitling Aviator 8 B01 Chronograph 43 Curtiss Warhawk

In commemoration of the 30th anniversary (one of many anniversaries in 2019) of its sporty Promaster collection, Citizen introduced a trio of limited editions, one each built for land, sea and air. Built for the “Air,” and the pilots who make it their home, is the Eco-Drive Satellite Wave GPS Promaster 30th Anniversary, limited to 1,989 pieces (1989 being the year that Citizen debuted the first Promaster models). Its 47-mm case is made of Citizen’s “Super Titanium,” enhanced with a special surface-hardening treatment combining Duratect MRK and Duratect DLC for enhanced scratch-resistance. Its bezel sports an aviation-style scale using traditional pilots’ ground-air visual signal codes. The multi-level cockpit-inspired dial, with large hands and indices placed between a base dial and a clear crystal layer above, has orange accents and luminescent treatment. The Eco-Drive movement, powered by light and receiving time signals from GPS satellites, drives a 1/4-second chronograph timing up to 24 hours and displays the time in two different zones simultaneously. All three of the Promaster 30th Anniversary models can be found here.

Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave GPS Promaster 30th Anniversary
Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave GPS Promaster 30th Anniversary

Among the milestones of 2019 was the the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion of Normandy that turned the tide of World War II. Graham, a Swiss brand with a British pedigree, honored that historic Allied victory with the Chronofighter Vintage D-Day, in a 44-mm steel case with the hallmark trigger-style chrono pusher and powered by the automatic Caliber G1747, based on the ETA 7750. Its grained black dial has “D-Day” in large, bold white lettering directly below the Graham logo at 12 o’clock. At 6 o’clock is a subdial with “1944” and “June 6” printed in white, marking the exact date that British, American, Canadian, and Free French forces launched amphibious attacks on the five Normandy beaches in Nazi-occupied France. The circled star at 3 o’clock, a standard symbol for Allied military forces, marks the exact time on that momentous day that the Brits’ Mulberry Harbours — portable harbors built for rapid offloading of cargo until the major French ports could be recaptured from the Germans — set out across the English channel to resupply the invasion army. More details on both of Graham’s commemorative D-Day timepieces are here.

Graham Chronofighter Vintage D-Day - front
Graham Chronofighter Vintage D-Day

Like Breitling, IWC built much of its year on expanding its collections of pilots’ watches, with many remarkable pieces to choose from. We’re going with one of the rarest and most complicated: the Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph Edition “80 Years Flight to New York,” which continues the brand’s partnership with the estate of pilot and Le Petit Prince author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The watch, limited to just 80 pieces, commemorates the 80th anniversary of Saint-Exupéry’s trip aboard the French flying boat Latécoère 521 from Paris to New York, a historical moment in early aviation. This new execution of the Timezoner, which was introduced in 2016, features a 46-mm stainless steel case with a brown rotating bezel made of ceramic and a sepia-tone brown dial inspired by the color of pilots’ suits from its namesake’s era. Denoting this model as a special edition are the red-colored indications for “Paris” and “New York” on the bezel, which is inscribed with the names of 24 world cities, one for each time zone. The watch is outfitted with IWC’s Caliber 89760, which pairs a chronograph with patented, easy-to-use world-time function in which the wearer can easily re-set the time, along with the date and 24-hour hand, in a single turn of the bezel. Click here to learn more about this user-friendly function.

IWC Pilot's Watch Timezoner Chronograph 80 Years Flight to NY
IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph Edition “80 Years Flight to New York”

Germany’s Mühle-Glashütte, which marked its 150th anniversary in 2019, announced a limited edition honoring 80 years of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the AOPA AeroSport Limited Edition.  The watch, designed with the input of AOPA pilots, has a 42.5-mm steel case with a screw-down crown, an anti-glare sapphire crystal, and a classical coin-edge rotating bezel. Emblazoned on the bezel is a triangular pip that can be used either as a fixed GMT indicator or to calculate the length of flight times. The jet black dial has an AOPA logo above the 6 o’clock position. The watch, limited to 500 pieces, contains a modified Sellita SW-200-1 caliber, with the woodpecker-neck regulation device developed at Mühle’s headquarters in Glashütte, Germany, and a custom-designed AOPA 80th anniversary rotor. Click here for details.

Mühle Glashütte AOPA AeroSport Limited Edition

In addition to a plethora of new timepieces celebrating the 50th birthday of its El Primero caliber, Zenith also added to its popular vintage-look Pilot collection with the Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver, the first Zenith watch with a case made of 925 silver, a precious metal rarely found in the watch world. The 45-mm case features a big, ratcheted onion-style winding crown, an element borrowed from vintage aviation watches made for early 20th Century military pilots. The silver-brushed dial has a riveted motif, with shiny reflections, that calls to mind the fuselage of a WWII-era warplane. The large, period-appropriate Arabic hour numerals are applied entirely in Super-LumiNova for maximum brightness and legibility in a dark cockpit. Zenith’s in-house-made, automatic Elite 679 caliber beats inside, with a 28,800-vph frequency and a power reserve of 50 hours. Mounted on a brown, riveted calfskin leather strap, the watch is a limited edition of 250 pieces. More images and details here.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver - flat
Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver

10 Important Chronograph Watches Launched in 2019

As we approach the end of 2019 and prepare for 2020 — surely destined to be another interesting year in the world of watches — we take a look back at some of the most noteworthy timepieces that came out this year, in various popular categories. Today, we look at 10 chronograph watches released in 2019 that stood out from the pack.

Despite the industry-wide focus on its much-discussed new Code 11:59 collection, Audemars Piguet actually did launch several other notable new timepieces in 2019, including new models from the Royal Oak Offshore series with colorful ceramic case elements and color-coordinated camouflage-motif rubber straps. The Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronographs for 2019 use colored, high-tech ceramic for the bezel, chronograph pushers, and screw-locked crown. The colors of the bezels are echoed in the watches’ dials, which feature the “Mega Tapisserie” motif emblematic of the Offshore models, and in the integrated camo pattern straps, which are made of rubber. Inside, beneath a clear sapphire caseback, beats Audemars Piguet’s manufacture Caliber 3126/3840, a self-winding, chronograph-equipped movement with 59 jewels, a 21,600-vph frequency, and a minimum 50-hour power reserve. The tricompax dial layout offers subdials at 12, 9, and 6 o’clock and a round date window at 3 o’clock. Click here for more info and additional versions.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph - Green camo
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph

Bulgari just keeps on breaking thinness records in the watch world, and its latest impressive effort was revealed to admiring eyes at Baselworld 2019. The Octo Finissimo GMT Chronograph boasts the current record for thinnest automatic chronograph movement, at just 3.3 mm thick. Like the record-breaker that preceded it in 2018, the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic, it is fitted with a new in-house caliber (dubbed the BVL 318, with a 55-hour power reserve) that performs its automatic winding with a peripheral oscillating weight positioned on the back of the movement. The sandblasted titanium case is itself wafer-thin, its 42-mm diameter rising just 6.9mm above the wrist despite being water resistant up to 30 meters. In addition to the stopwatch, the watch hosts a GMT function that allows the wearer to easily advance the hour hand with a push-button. More details, and close-up photos taken at Baselworld, can be found here.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo GMT Chronograph

Directly inspired by a 34-mm bicompax chronograph from 1956 that was discovered in the Lucerne-based brand’s archives, the Carl F. Bucherer Bicompax Annual combines an annual calendar with a chronograph, in a 41-mm case available in either stainless steel, with a silver dial and a black-and-white “panda”-style dial orientation, or in two-tone rose gold with a rose-and-champagne dial. The annual calendar indicator consists of a big date indicator in the upper half of the dial and a month aperture tilted between 4 and 5 o’clock. The dial’s historically inspired details include syringe-shaped hands filled with Super-LumiNova, vintage-style Arabic numerals, elongated chronograph pushers, a box-style sapphire crystal, and the usage of a black rubber strap for the panda dial and a cognac brown calfskin strap for the champagne-dialed, two-tone model. Ticking inside is automatic Caliber CFB 1972 (an ETA base movement with a Dubois Dépraz module), which stores a 42-hour power reserve. Each version is limited to 888 pieces, in homage to Bucherer’s founding date of 1888.

Carl F. Bucherer Heritage Bicompax Annual
Carl F. Bucherer Heritage Bicompax Annual

Many luxury watch brands have partnered with automobile brands, but one of these partnerships that is little known in the United States is that between two Japanese marques: Grand Seiko and Nissan. The watchmaker has produced a handful of special-edition timepieces inspired by and paired with the automaker’s iconic Nissan GT-R racing cars, but up until this year, those watches were only sold in Japan. The Grand Seiko Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary Limited Edition, released in concert with the 2020 Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary Edition car, is limited to 200 pieces and commemorates dual anniversaries: 50 years of the Nissan GT-R and 20 years of the Seiko Spring Drive caliber. The watch uses “Bayside Blue,” famously introduced in the livery of the 1969 GT-R automobile, for several elements on the case, dial, and strap. The 46.4 mm-diameter case is made of high-intensity titanium and the Nissan racing livery, with its familiar white racing stripe, finds homage in the silvery-white dial with stacked chronograph subdials and the shiny white strap. The movement is Seiko’s Spring Drive Caliber 9R96, which achieves its high level of accuracy through its combination of a balance wheel, electromagnetic energy, and a quartz oscillator instead of a traditional escapement. More details and images here.

Grand Seiko Nissan GT-R Limited Edition - angle
Grand Seiko Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary Limited Edition

The Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Orlinksi Red Ceramic, limited to 200 pieces, is distinguished by the red ceramic used for its 45-mm case and sharply edged, angular bezel, for which Hublot’s research-and-development team needed four years to take from concept to industrialization, using a special process that fuses pressure and heat to sinter the ceramic without burning the pigment. The totally in-house process resulted in a secret, patent-protected formula, whose end result is a ceramic that not only achieves the extremely difficult red coloring but also a greater hardness than previous ceramics (1,500 HV1 vs. 1,200 HV2). The red coloring and geometrical angled lines of the case evoke the sculpture Born Wild Crocodile, from the oeuvre of French artist Richard Orlinski, which established the use of powerful shades of red as part of his Pop Art-style repertoire. The polished crimson case houses Hublot’s self-winding Caliber HUB1155, a skeletonized chronograph movement with a 42-hour power reserve and a 28,800-vph (4 Hz) frequency. The subdial at 9 o’clock tallies 30 elapsed minutes, while the hour and minute are displayed on red-lacquered hands and the small seconds tick away on the subdial at 3 o’clock.

Hublot Classic Fusion Orlinski Red Ceramic - front
Hublot Classic Fusion Orlinski Red Ceramic

Montblanc’s modern timepiece collection derives much of its aesthetic character from the historical watches of Minerva, a heralded Swiss producer of chronographs whose ancestral atelier was acquired by Richemont in 2006 and revived as the Montblanc Manufacture. The 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100 re-envisions the Minerva military watches of the 1930s in a luxurious contemporary vein. The watch has a 44-mm case made of full-satinated bronze and a black lacquered dial with rose-gold-colored details that echo the look of the case. Based on a legendary Minerva chronograph watch, the dial is defined by two classically designed scales on its periphery: a telemeter scale, used to measure distance based on visible and audible phenomena — i.e. the time between a flash of lightning and the first rumble of thunder — and a snail-shaped tachymeter scale in the dial’s center for measuring the speed of a moving object over a known distance. Both scales employ the watch’s monopusher rattrapante chronograph to measure intermediate times without interrupting the measurement of a longer interval. The integrated chronograph movement is the manually wound Montblanc Caliber MB M16.31, equipped with two column wheels, one driving the chronograph, the other controlling the split-seconds function. More details here.

Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100 - angle
Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100

It was a big year for Omega, which celebrated its historical milestone as maker of the first watch worn on the moon with the release of several special editions of its Speedmaster Professional “Moonwatch,” which accompanied the astronauts of Apollo 11 onto the lunar surface in 1969. It’s difficult to focus on just one, but we’re going with the Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition in Omega’s new “Moonshine gold” alloy. It’s a modern re-creation of a now-rare watch, with a yellow-gold case and burgundy bezel, given out at an “Astronauts Appreciation Dinner” in Houston in 1969 to celebrate the moon landing. Paler in hue than the 18k yellow gold used for the original model, Moonshine gold — composed of gold, silver, and palladium — has a high resistance to fading of color and luster over time. It’s used here not only for the case but also the dial, hands, and bracelet. The burgundy-colored tachymeter bezel, aluminum on the historical model, is in ceramic on the re-creation. Inside is Omega’s Master Chronometer Caliber 3861, which is manual wound like the original model’s Caliber 861, but includes a host of contemporary Omega elements like a co-axial escapement and a silicon balance spring, in addition to being enhanced for this special edition with a gold-plated mainplate and bridges. Lots more details on the watch, and its gala launch event at Cape Canaveral, can be found here.

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary LE - reclining
Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition

Patek Philippe introduced the first chronograph in its sportiest and perhaps most accessible family, the Aquanaut, in 2019.  The steel case of the Aquanaut Chronograph (Ref. 5968A-001), with its hallmark gently-rounded octagonal bezel, measures 42.2 mm in diameter and 11.9 mm thick and features alternating satin and polished finishing on its surfaces and flanks. The screw-down crown is embedded between the shoulders of a curving crown protector, which in turn is bordered on each side by two elongated chronograph pushers. The graduated light-to-dark gray dial sports the familiar embossed pattern of the Aquanaut range, with applied white-gold numerals and indices, a large, 60-minute chronograph-counter subdial at 6 o’clock subtly shaped to echo the curved octagonal shape of the bezel, and orange highlights to identify the chronograph indications. Patek Philippe’s automatic manufacture Caliber CH 28-520 C controls the watch’s integrated flyback chronograph function, which combines a classic column-wheel control with a modern vertical disk clutch. The latter device is designed to prevent the chrono hands from bouncing and rebounding when the stopwatch is started and, as an added bonus, allows the center-mounted sweep chronograph seconds hand to also be used as a continually running seconds hand due to its nearly friction-free design. This model also marks the debut of a new, cleverly designed foldover clasp with four independent catches for enhanced functionality in opening and closing. Click here for more details and photos.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph - reclining
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph

It wouldn’t be a complete roundup of the year’s chronograph highlights without a mention of another 50-year anniversary, this one for TAG Heuer’s iconic Monaco model, which was fêted with five new limited editions, each inspired by the original and representing one decade of the Monaco’s existence. We’ll go with the first-issued and funkiest-looking of the quintet, the Monaco 1969-1979 Limited Edition, whose dial was designed to channel the shapes and colors of the 1970s — dark green with brown and yellow details on the indices and hands, with grayish “sunray black” for the emblematic, softly squared subdials at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock. The addition of an elegant côtes de Genève finish to the dial of this famously sporty model also identifies it as special and collectible. The square 39-mm steel case has its chronograph pushers positioned at 2 and 4 o’clock on the right side, and the unconventionally placed at 9 o’clock on the left side, an arrangement pioneered by the original Monaco. Inside is the contemporary version of the famous Caliber 11, with automatic winding, a rapid date correction and a 40-hour power reserve. For more on the colorful history of the Monaco, click here.

TAG Heuer Monaco 1969-1979 LE - soldier
TAG Heuer Monaco 1969-1979 Limited Edition

Zenith, in the (you guessed it) 50th anniversary year of its heralded El Primero chronograph caliber, also offered a challenge as to which new watch to spotlight. We went with the most buzz-worthy piece among collectors and vintage-watch freaks, the El Primero A384 Revival, an almost note-for-note reproduction of the first wristwatch to house the El Primero, with a black-and-white “panda” subdial design. Zenith used a “reverse engineering” approach to create the watch, digitizing each component of the 1969 original to reproduce all elements as precisely as possible. The most major of these include the 37-mm-diameter, faceted, stainless steel case; the black-and-white lacquered dial with its surrounding tachymeter scale; and the mushroom-style chronograph pushers at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock. The manufacture took a more modern approach to the caseback, which was solid steel in the original but on this new model features a clear sapphire window to display the El Primero 400 caliber, the most up-to-date version of the classical movement, honed and fine-tuned over the course of a half century since its ancestor debuted. For those seeking out the most historically accurate version of the watch, Zenith will offer it on an integrated “ladder” steel bracelet of the type that graced the 1969 watch, as well as the black alligator strap shown here. Click here for more.

Zenith El Primero A384 Revival

Bring On the Water! 11 Watches Built for Water Sports

In addition to diving, water sports include sailing, surfing and even fishing. The appropriate watch can be a topic of conversation during breaks but also provides valuable time-related information. As Spring begins to usher in Summer, here are 11 water-sports watches worth checking out.

OMEGA SEAMASTER PLANET OCEAN ETNZ “DEEP BLACK” MASTER CHRONOMETER

Omega Planet Ocean ETNZ Deep Black
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean ETNZ “Deep Black” Master Chronometer ($11,200)

As sponsor of the Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) yachting crew, Omega knows what yachtsmen need. A 15-minute countdown precedes each start in a regatta. Omega displays this countdown with blue and red rubber markings on the black ceramic bezel of this Seamaster. The word “START” indicates the countdown’s final 5 minutes. Like the bezel, the 45.5-mm case and the dial are also made of ceramic. The dial bears a blue-and-red 24-hour scale to show the time in a second zone. Automatic Caliber 8906 powers the four central hands. This seaworthy watch remains watertight to 600 meters and has a black textile strap with an inner layer of rubber.

ROLEX OYSTER PERPETUAL YACHT-MASTER II

Rolex Yacht-Master II
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master II ($18,750)

Rolex premiered its first regatta watch 10 years ago. Since then, the Yacht-Master II has become a classic that’s currently available in stainless steel, yellow gold, white gold and in a bicolor variation combining stainless steel and rose gold. Rolex recently modified the dial so the hour hand of the Yacht-Master II now bears Rolex’s characteristic “Mercedes” symbol. The hour markings at 6 and 12 were also reworked. A feature of the Yacht-Master II is that the countdown can be programmed using the bezel and crown. The countdown also continues to run even when the chronograph is stopped and returned to zero. The stainless-steel version has a 44-mm case that stays watertight to 100 meters and encases chronometer-certified automatic Caliber 4161.

ULYSSE NARDIN MARINE REGATTA CHRONOGRAPH

Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta
Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta Chronograph ($15,900)

Having just been awarded the Sports Watch Prize at the 2017 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie in Geneva, Ulysse Nardin’s Marine Regatta Chronograph comes with a bidirectional chronograph counter that automatically begins timing the race once the countdown is complete, thus eliminating the need to hit the restart button at the precise moment the race begins. The 650-component Caliber UN-155 is based on automatic chronograph Caliber UN-153 and has a three-day power reserve. The 44-mm case is stainless steel and has a fluted bezel with rubber inserts, molded rubber pushers, a screw-down crown and 100-meter water resistance. There are two dial variations.

ANONIMO NAUTILO NATO

Anonimo Nautilo NATO
Anonimo Nautilo NATO ($2,350)

Some surfers spend a lifetime waiting for the perfect wave. If a long wait beside a sluggish sea puts a surfer in a dour mood, the colorful Anonimo Nautilo Nato will surely lift his spirits. This sports watch’s 44.4-mm case is watertight to 200 meters and boasts a yellow or green flange around a black dial. The chosen color is repeated in the accent stripes on the NATO strap and in the counterweight on the end of the seconds hand. The 15-minute scale on the black ceramic bezel is more than just a colorful element in the design; the yellow or green color makes it especially legible. The crown at 4 o’clock is a distinguishing feature of the Nautilo collection. This positioning is very practical because it ensures that the crown will not press uncomfortably against the back of the wearer’s hand and allows automatic Caliber SW200 to be reset easily.

BREMONT SUPERMARINE TYPE 301

Bremont S301
Bremont Supermarine Type 301 ($4,095)

To commemorate the 35th America’s Cup in 2017, Bremont introduced a series of watches with Regatta chronograph calibers. But the British brand also launched two new models in Bremont’s Supermarine divers’ watch series, the Type 300 and Type 301, which were a response to Bremont customers’ demands for sports watches with slightly smaller case dimensions. For divers who want a more vintage look, there is the Type 301 pictured here, which has Super-LumiNova-filled hour indexes instead of Arabic numerals on its matte black dial. Both the Type 300 and the Type 301 are powered by Bremont Caliber BE-92AE, an automatic, chronometer-certified movement with a 38-hour-minimum power reserve. All three new Supermarine dive watches are offered on stainless-steel bracelets, calf leather straps, or NATO straps with pin buckles.

SINN 240 ST GZ

Sinn 240-ST-GZ
Sinn 240 ST GZ ($1,830)

The Sinn 240 St GZ can track tides with the help of an internal bezel. The rotating tide bezel can be used to read the relative water level of a location in terms of current tide, i.e., the time until the next high tide. All the owner needs to know is the time of the last high tide (for example, from a tide table or tide calendar) and correlate this with the triangular mark “HW 1” on the rotating bezel. Expected water levels of the next high tide can then be read from the “HW 2” mark. The 240 St GZ is powered by an SW220-1 automatic movement. The 43-mm case is made of stainless steel and is water resistant to 100 meters.

MÜHLE-GLASHÜTTE LUNOVA CHRONOGRAPH

Muhle Glashutte Lunova Chronograph
Mühle-Glashütte Lunova Chronograph ($2,349)

Whole days can drift languidly by with a fishing rod in one’s hand and a Lunova Chronograph on one’s wrist. Thanks to automatic Caliber SW500, this chronograph from Mühle-Glashütte can tally elapsed intervals up to 30 minutes and 12 hours, while also displaying the date and the day of the week. The design of this 42.3-mm stainless-steel watch, which remains watertight to 100 meters, is both sporty and elegant, with orange accents, a brown leather strap, and a case with alternating polished and brushed surfaces. And this handsome watch can continue to perch atop its wearer’s wrist in the evening when he sits down to dine on the fish he caught earlier in the day.

PANERAI LUMINOR SUBMERSIBLE 1950 3 DAYS AUTOMATIC TITANIO

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Titanio
Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Titanio ($9,200)

Sometimes marine animals are more stimulating companions than barflies sitting beside a swimming pool. When you start to feel this way, it’s high time to take a dive. The Panerai Luminor Submersible can accompany you down to 300 meters. This divers’ watch combines a 47-mm titanium case, unidirectional rotatable bezel and characteristic crown guard. The dial is black, as is usual for Panerai, but the seconds hand adds a lone blue accent. Manufacture Caliber P.9010 animates this model.

IWC AQUATIMER AUTOMATIC 2000 EDITION “35 YEAR OCEAN 2000”

IWC Aquatimer Automatic Edition 35Years Ocean 2000
IWC Aquatimer Automatic 2000 Edition “35 Year Ocean 2000” ($7,400)

An appropriate topic for conversation among divers: IWC and Porsche Design collaboratively engineered a divers’ watch 35 years ago that complied with specifications stipulated by the German Armed Forces and military frogmen. The PD Ocean 2000 had a 42-mm titanium case that remained watertight to 2,000 meters. IWC was among the first brands to use titanium for many of its watches. Now a special model in the Aquatimer collection recalls the legendary PD Ocean 2000. The new model is released in a limited edition of 350 watches – another topic for conversation. The exterior-interior rotatable bezel is tempting to play with whenever there’s a dull moment, and it’s also very useful when beginning a dive. And the case keeps automatic Caliber ETA 2892 well protected against potential water damage up to a pressure of 200 bar.

MEISTERSINGER SALTHORA META X

Meistersinger Salthora Blue
Meistersinger Salthora Meta X ($3,350)

Telling more with less: MeisterSinger’s new Salthora Meta X comes with a unidirectional bezel with 60-minute scale and a central minutes hand (but no seconds hand, which would be required to meet the ISO standards for dive watches). Most importantly, the hour (which isn’t that important for a dive) is shown in the circular window at 12 o’clock using an instant jumping mechanism. The stainless-steel case of the Salthora Meta X is 43 mm in diameter and water-resistant to 200 meters; the bezel inlay is made of ceramic. The watch is powered by an ETA 2824-2 or Sellita 200-1 and equipped with a module for the “jumping hour.” The Salthora Meta X is available in three different versions. One model has a black dial, a red hand and red digits on a white background; a second model is designed with green digits and a green hand; the third version comes with its dial and rotating bezel in deep blue with white digits.

UTS 1000M V2 DIVE WATCH PACIFIC HORIZON

UTS 1000M Dive Watch Pacific Horizon
UTS 1000M Dive Watch Pacific Horizon (3,000 euros)

If you’re looking for something with “wrist presence,” thanks to the lugs and the massive case design, typical of UTS watches, the UTS 1000M has a total weight of 255 grams when worn on the stainless-steel bracelet that’s supplied with the watch. The optional sapphire crystal on the back of UTS’s 42-mm diver is impressive from an engineering point of view (given the water resistance of 1,000 meters) and offers the owner the chance to see the ETA 2824-2 automatic movement in action. the dial has a two-layered look, with a galvanic blue finish over an inner sunray pattern; the date disk between 4 and 5 o’clock is black. UTS also offers a black-dial model and a GMT version with a different bezel.

An Inside Look at the Various Technologies Pioneered by Sinn

When mechanical engineer Lothar Schmidt took control of the Frankfurt-based Sinn watch brand in 1994, he planned to use his technical knowledge and add innovative technologies to Sinn’s watches to enhance their functionality. The brand was founded in 1961 by pilot Helmut Sinn and sold pilots’ watches using Swiss private-label products. Schmidt renamed the firm Sinn Spezialuhren (Special watches) and the new company developed its first watch, manufactured with its own tools, in 1994. Model 244 had magnetic-field protection and a freely oscillating suspended movement. In 1995, Sinn premiered a 22k gold watch fabricated from a newly created alloy that made the precious metal as scratch resistant as stainless steel. That same year, Sinn introduced its complex Ar-Dehumidifying Technology for divers’ watches in the 203 Ti Ar. Other innovations soon followed. Schmidt transformed the brand into a company with its own technology, its own tools and its own development department. The private-label era was over.

Sinn - Lothar Schmidt
As an engineer, Sinn CEO Lothar Schmidt values innovation.

Schmidt entered the watch industry in a roundabout way. After earning a degree in engineering and serving in the German military, he started working at an engineering plant in La Chaux-de-Fonds. In 1976, he joined the Bräuchy case factory, also in La Chaux-de-Fonds, as a technical director. But he wanted to return to Germany, so in 1981 he applied for a position at VDO, a German company that makes parts for automobiles. VDO had recently purchased Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC and the firm was glad to hire someone with experience in case manufacturing. So Schmidt joined IWC in Schaffhausen, first working in the production and development divisions and later serving as a director. He stayed until 1994, when he took control of Sinn.

In addition to developing new watches, Schmidt retained some of the Sinn models that had been particularly successful. Model series 103, 140, 144 and 903, which are still in the brand’s current collection, were manufactured using Sinn’s own tools. They were given their final polishing, upgraded to state of the art and gradually equipped with Sinn technologies.

In subsequent years, Sinn developed Einsatzzeitmesser (mission timepieces), or EZM, which were specially made for professionals, including pilots, divers, firefighters, paramedics, rescue teams and special units of the German police, armed forces and navy.

The focus at Sinn was always on function. Everything unnecessary was left out. Clearly recognizable hands and indexes with plenty of luminous material formed the basis for good legibility. At the same time, Sinn developed technologies that made the brand’s watches even more robust and readable.

Ar-Dehumidifying Technology
One of Sinn’s most complex and innovative techniques is its Ar-Dehumidifying Technology, originally developed to prevent fogging on the underside of the crystals of its divers’ watches. This is caused by extreme temperature change, such as plunging into cool water on a hot day. Moisture condenses on the lower surface of the watch crystal and the fogging that results makes it hard to read the watch.

The technology is based on improved insulators, filling the watch with protective gas and stay-dry capsules. The insulators are made from Viton, a green material that lasts longer than the black nitrile insulators commonly used. It admits four times less gas and humidity into a watch’s interior than nitrile insulators and resists chemical corrosion better. Viton is also used for the two O-ring insulators and the flat seal for the crown. If an insulator is not available in the desired size, Schmidt will make the investment and build the tools to make it.

SINN Anti-Humidity technology
Sinn fills the stay-dry capsules with copper sulfate, which absorbs humidity.

Ar-Dehumidifying Technology got its name because the case was originally filled with argon (Ar), a noble gas with large molecules. Now Sinn uses nitrogen. The case is filled with a protective gas because the gas’s presence makes it more difficult for humidity to penetrate the case. The protective gas has a lower dew point, so moisture doesn’t begin to condense until much later.

If, despite the improved insulators and the protective gas, humidity still gets into the case, then the moisture is absorbed by powdered copper sulfate inside built-in desiccant capsules. A viewing window lets the wearer see whether the capsules are still absorbent (white) or already saturated (blue) and need to be replaced. On newer models, the viewing window is placed prominently on the dial at 6 o’clock rather than in the case. This change affords additional security because it eliminates one extra opening in the case. The newest version of the technology includes three additional desiccant capsules in the back or in the movement-holder ring.

The dry atmosphere inside the case lengthens the lifespan of the lubricant oil and helps prevent corrosion in the movement.

Temperature Resistance Technology
The rate of a mechanical watch worsens rapidly if the temperature gets hotter than 30° C (86° F). Cold conditions, on the other hand, make lubricant oil so viscous that chilled watches will eventually stop running entirely. With its Temperature Resistance Technology, Sinn has found a way to guarantee the proper functioning of its watches even when they’re exposed to temperatures from the frigid cold of -45° C (-49° F) to the sweltering heat of +80° C (176° F). Here, too, Schmidt relies on a technique with several components. The most important ingredient is special oil that maintains an unchanged viscosity throughout a much wider temperature range than conventional lubricant oils. Sinn sends this oil to ETA and Sellita to use to lubricate the movements destined for Sinn. The oil is equally suitable for the pallet jewels, the gear train and the balance’s bearings.

SINN 900 DIAPAL watch
Cutting-edge technologies are built into the Sinn 900 Diapal, which has a lubricant-free escapement, tegiment-hardened case, Ar-Dehumidifying and Temperature Resistance Technologies, and protection against magnetic fields ($4,310).

Hydro Technology
The Hydro technology Sinn uses for its divers’ watches ensures that their crystals are not susceptible to fogging, their dials uphold optimal legibility under water and their cases resist pressure down to every conceivable depth. For Hydro technology, which is used in watches in the UX series, the case is filled with a colorless nonconductive liquid, whose specifications Sinn won’t reveal.

Two problems arise when a watch is filled with liquid. First, liquids expand when heated, so the backs of the cases of Sinn’s current models are built from several parts and the inner part can move slightly outward to compensate for the larger volume of warmed liquid. The second arises because liquid has a much greater density than air, so fluid would exert too strong a braking effect on the balance in a mechanical movement. Therefore, Hydro technology can only be used with quartz calibers. Tests performed with Sinn’s extreme-pressure device have shown that the capsule containing the vibrating quartz crystal is sometimes squeezed at depths below 6,500 meters, causing the watch to stop running. Therefore, Hydro watches are suitable for dives “only” to a maximum depth of 5,000 meters.

This extreme pressure resistance is only one advantage of Hydro technology. The liquid that Sinn uses has the same refractive index as sapphire crystal, so the watch can be read underwater from any viewing angle. And the crystal never fogs up: condensation cannot occur because there is no air inside the case.

SINN EZM10 watch
The EZM 10 encases Sinn’s Caliber SZ01, the brand’s revised version of the ETA Valjoux 7750, which Sinn equips with a central elapsed-minutes counter ($5,480).

Tegiment Hardening
Impacts against rocks or equipment are nearly unavoidable during rigorous missions underwater or on dry land. Here, too, Schmidt wanted to improve functionality. To make its watch cases less susceptible to scratches, Sinn uses a technique called “tegimenting.” The case is sent to a specialist in Germany, where a “Kolsterising” method is used to harden the steel on and near the metal’s surface. This hardening is not a coating: the steel itself is transformed into a protective sheath.

Creating the scratch-resistant surface means that the hardened cases cannot be processed using conventional methods. Sinn’s watch cases are built by Sächsische Uhrentechnologie GmbH Glashütte (SUG), where Schmidt is a co-founder and majority shareholder, but he prefers to keep all aspects of the tegimenting process at Sinn. So there’s a dedicated room in Sinn’s Frankfurt facility, equipped with the necessary machinery, where processing methods are developed and utilized.

Tegiment technology works well with 316L stainless steel, the steel alloy that’s most commonly used in the watch world. But this method can achieve even better results with harder 904L steel, which is more resistant to corrosion by saltwater and which Sinn uses in its divers’ watches. “Submarine steel,” developed by the German submarine-building industry, achieves the hardest surface when tegimented. Sinn even uses the tegimenting technique with titanium. A tegimented case also serves as a good material to be coated with ultra-hard black PVD.

Sinn watchmaking
Sinn’s watchmakers go into the workings of the movement with Diapal technology with a new escape wheel and to create modifications like those in the SZ01.

Anti-reflective Treatment
The crystals above the dials of most Sinn watches are made from sapphire. Glaring reflections may detract from legibility, so Sinn, like many other manufacturers, has its crystals anti-reflectively treated. But the coatings often have a bluish tinge and scratch easily. Schmidt looked for a solution and found one in a different sector: namely, coatings applied to the surfaces of optical equipment lenses and eyeglasses. The method, while costly, results in an anti-reflective coating that is nearly colorless and almost as hard as its sapphire substrate. Sinn uses this coating on models that are equipped with other in-house technologies.

Safeguarded Against Low Pressure
A little-known technology guarantees that all of Sinn’s models are secured against low pressure. If a pilot is cruising at an altitude of 12,000 meters (39,370 feet) and a sudden explosion tears an opening in the aircraft’s pressurized cabin, the pressure aboard the airplane will decline abruptly. Suddenly, the pressure inside the pilot’s watch will be higher than the pressure in the environment, so the excess internal pressure can cause the crystal to burst. Sinn uses special construction methods to keep its watches from breaking under such conditions, but will not reveal any details.

How well this technology functions was shown in 2014, when Robert Alan Eustace wore a Sinn 857 UTC TESTAF on his wrist during a sky dive from the stratosphere. He leapt from an aircraft at an altitude of 41.4 kilometers (about 25.7 miles) and plunged into the extreme low pressure and frigid cold (-77° C or -106.6° F) of the stratosphere. In the course of his freefall, he broke the sound barrier and continued to accelerate until he reached a maximum speed of 1,322 kilometers per hour (821.5 miles per hour).

Alan Eustace wearing Sinn
Robert Alan Eustace wore a Sinn 857 UTC TESTAF when he plunged from the stratospheric height of 41.4 kilometers and broke the sound barrier in freefall.

Resistance to Saltwater Corrosion
Another danger for watches lurks in the ocean: salt. Watch cases are usually made from non-rusting stainless steel, but this doesn’t mean that they won’t corrode. Prolonged exposure to saltwater, especially in combination with warmth, can gradually corrode the surface. Divers’ watches should be resistant to corrosion by saltwater; the degree of resistance is expressed by the PRE value. (“PRE” stands for “pitting resistance equivalent.”) A watch with a PRE value of 32 is rated as resistant to saltwater. Higher PRE values are more resistant. The steel most frequently used for watch cases, the 316L alloy, has a PRE value of 24, so if these cases have been immersed in saltwater, they should be rinsed with freshwater afterward. Sinn is increasingly using 904L steel, which has a PRE value of 35 and is highly resistant to corrosion by saltwater.

Sinn uses submarine steel for the cases of many of its divers’ watches. This steel has a PRE value of 39. Other favorable characteristics are its strength and its special elastic behavior, which keeps submarines from springing leaks. It cannot become magnetized, and Sinn gives the metal its tegiment treatment for scratch resistance. Titanium is even more saltwater resistant: it doesn’t react to seawater at all. Sinn uses titanium in its T1 and T2 divers’ watches.

Sinn Temperature Test
Sinn tests its Temperature Resistant Technology for 24 hours inside a climate cabinet cooled to a frigid -45 C (-49 F).

Secured Rotatable Bezel
A typical rotatable bezel is merely pressed onto the case from above. To remove it, a watchmaker simply pries it upward until it snaps off the case. But a watch can lose such a bezel, for example, when a diver snags his watch on a submerged rock. To prevent this, Sinn developed the “impossible-to-lose” rotatable bezel. A clamping ring is fit into a groove in the bezel and then pressed into a matching groove in the case, where it is affixed by three screws. The connection is secure, but it also can be easily released.

The secured rotatable bezel, which Sinn uses on its T1 and T2 divers’ watches, also offers protection against unintentional resetting of the dive-time scale. Before beginning a dive, the diver turns the bezel until its luminous index is opposite the tip of the minutes hand; afterward he can see how long he has been underwater by glancing at his watch. If his diving computer malfunctions, he can use his bathometer and the dive-time scale on his watch to estimate approximately when he needs to begin swimming upward without having to interrupt his ascent for a decompression stop.

For safety’s sake, the bezel and its dive-time scale can only be rotated counterclockwise, which means that an inadvertent resetting can only lengthen the displayed dive time. Of course, it would be even better if the bezel couldn’t possibly be repositioned by accident, hence Sinn’s secured rotatable bezel, which cannot be turned at all unless its user simultaneously presses inward on two diametrically opposite points.

Sinn Magnetic-Resistant case
To protect the movement against magnetic fields up to 80,000 A/m, Sinn uses a protective shield consisting of a closed, magnetically soft inner case that includes the dial, the movement-holder ring and the caseback.

Magnetic Field Protection
Magnetic fields lurk everywhere: for example, in cellphones, loudspeakers and electric motors. They can disturb the rate behavior of watches because the hairspring is particularly sensitive to their influence. Modern movements are classified as “antimagnetic” if they do not deviate from correct timekeeping by more than 30 seconds per day when exposed to a magnetic field with an intensity of 4,800 A/m. But even the magnetic field surrounding an ordinary household magnet is four times stronger than that. Sinn found that 60 percent of all watches sent to its customer service department in Frankfurt had become magnetized and kept time imprecisely.

Sinn relies on a technique that was first developed for watches in the 1950s: an additional case made of magnetically soft material keeps magnetic fields away from the movement. Sinn’s protective shield usually consists of the dial, the movement-holder ring and an inner caseback. Watches equipped with this protection are undisturbed by magnetic fields up to an intensity of 80,000 A/m or 1,000 gauss.

Movement Modifications
Sinn doesn’t shy away from enhancing its movements if the modifications improve their functioning. Diapal technology is a good example. As we explained earlier, oil is a critical factor in mechanical watches. An especially vulnerable spot is in the escapement at the points of contact between the synthetic ruby pallet jewels on the lever and the steel teeth on the escape wheel. These parts strike against one another, which means that the oil here doesn’t last as long as it does in slide bearings located elsewhere in the movement. Insufficient oil at this spot has an extremely adverse effect on the accuracy of the rate. If the oil is absent, the watch won’t run at all after a few “oil-less” weeks have passed.

SINN EZM12 in Arctic
The EZM 12 with Temperature Resistance Technology was photographed during a research expedition in the Antarctic ($3,560).

Sinn’s specialists haven’t yet invented an oil-free watch, but they have devised an oil-free escapement. Sinn began working to solve this problem in 1995. The term “Diapal” was coined during the first experiments using diamond rather than ruby pallets – and the name was kept. The pairing of diamond and steel improved the “dry” performance, i.e. without oil, but failed to achieve the amplitude values of a lubricated escapement. This became possible somewhat later, when Diapal technology was used in tandem with a nano-coating on the escape wheel. Nowadays Sinn arranges to have its escape wheels made from a special material. The lever with ruby pallets can remain unaltered. The duo with the new escape wheel runs without lubricant, but nonetheless has less friction than a conventional oiled pairing. The resulting amplitude is so high that Sinn must take countermeasures to reduce it.

In this technique, highly trained watchmakers join a pinion to the specially made escape wheel, which is manufactured from a special alloy, and then insert the ensemble into the movement. A Diapal watch can be identified by its anthracite-colored dial with black counters. All Diapal watches rely on the same caliber: an ETA Valjoux 7750, which has been modified so that rather than showing the day of the week, it indicates the time in a second time zone in 12-hour format.

SINN UX Hydro-technology
The Hydro technology in the UX ($2,460) guarantees perfect legibility under water. Shown on the right: a case without liquid filling.

Also noteworthy is Caliber SZ01, which Sinn constructed based on the ETA Valjoux 7750 and which improves legibility. A special feature is that it’s equipped with a jumping 60-minute elapsed time hand, which sweeps its orbits from the center of the dial. This makes the elapsed minutes more legible than when shown on subdials.

There is plenty of work to do in the watchmakers’ atelier, where all movements are encased and all hands are inserted. In addition to modifying the base movements, these watchmakers assemble 14,000 watches annually. Schmidt proudly shows us another technology here: it reduces dust and thus lengthens the period during which customers can enjoy an accurately running watch. Each workstation is equipped with ionizers that rely on ozone to release dust adhering to case parts; the loosened specks can be blown off the surface with compressed air. Static electricity causes dust to cling so tenaciously to the components that pressurized air alone cannot fully free the parts from dust.

Tests and Certifications
Schmidt pursues unorthodox paths to test the functions of his watches and to certify the high developmental status of the techniques. He sends his divers’ watches to the DNV GL, an independent company that tests and certifies their pressure resistance, water tightness and insusceptibility to fogging and verifies that the timepieces satisfy the European standards for diving equipment. Furthermore, each divers’ watch is also tested at Sinn in Frankfurt at 125 percent of its rated pressure resistance.

SINN 856 B-Uhr watch
SINN 856 B-Uhr watch

Gazing Into the Future
Sinn’s new headquarters in Frankfurt has more than 50,000 square feet of floor space, twice as much as the old location. While guiding our tour of the new site, Schmidt reported that Sinn has now been able to further increase its vertical range of manufacturing. He also emphasized that numerous other technologies are in the planning stages. The new building symbolizes the success that this engineer’s brand enjoys with its innovative technologies.

The Next James Bond Movie Watch Revealed: Introducing the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition

Earlier this week, after much anticipation and speculation, Omega has announced the release of the watch to be worn by cinematic super-spy James Bond in the upcoming Bond film, No Time to Die: the Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition. This new timepiece will feature a similar red, black, and brown color scheme to that seen on previous Seamasters, but is now updated using the Seamaster Diver 300M design, with different vintage-look details, and set to run as a non-limited edition.

For reference, the last official Bond movie watch was the Seamaster 300 “SPECTRE” piece, which was a neo-vintage-inspired model released in 7,007 editions in the fall of 2015 alongside the 24th Bond film, simply titled Spectre. This new model is designed in the style of the Seamaster Diver 300M, a descendant of the original Seamaster first released in 1993, which has since evolved to become one of the most popular luxury dive watches out there — in part because of its long-term presence on the wrist of James Bond throughout the popular movie series. It’s no secret that Bond — created by author Ian Fleming in 1953 and a mainstay on the big screen since 1962 — has been a major cultural influence on purchasing decisions. Regarded by many as the pinnacle of male sophistication and style, the character has made quite an impact over the decades on the wristwear of his legions of fans worldwide.

This newest Seamaster Diver 300M features a 42-mm titanium case, with a brown “tropical” aluminum bezel ring to match its dial. It uses crown guards on its side to protect the screw-down crown, and features a helium release valve at the 10 o’clock position. On the dial, you can find an outer minute ring, with applied circular and rectangular tropical accented markers for each hour. Toward the top of the dial is the classic Omega logo, with a red-line script “Seamaster” just below it. More dial details are found toward the bottom of the face, including the arrow marker above 6 o’clock that recalls the era of the very first Bond movie, 1962’s Dr. No; such an arrow was a common postwar feature seen on sports watches at the time.

Sweeping over the dial are two large hands for the hour and minute, in the style commonly used in the series, while a red-tipped lollipop pointer counts the seconds. Inside the watch, powering these hands, is the Caliber Omega 8806 automatic movement, which like all modern Omega movements uses a co-axial escapement, is certified as a Master Chronometer approved by METAS, and is resistant to magnetic fields reaching 15,000 gauss. The movement stores a 55-hour power reserve and is protected by a solid caseback engraved with commemorative 007 markings meant to hearken back to genuine military-issue watches from the time of the original Bond film.

If you think that all of these homage traits in the new watch seem indicative of a larger anniversary for the Bond franchise, you’d be right. The year 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of Omega’s association with the Bond films, which began in 1995 with Goldeneye. (Omega also released another special edition Seamaster Diver 300M in late September of this year, celebrating a half-century since the release of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969.) This new 2020 available model carries on the celebration into the next half century, with Omega taking particular care to invoke the pre-Omega origins of the series and simultaneously push it forward. In the development of the new Seamaster, Omega for the first time explicitly sought out feedback and consultation from longtime Bond actor Daniel Craig, making use of  his extensive experience in the role to best produce a watch fit for a modern 007.

No Time to Die is set to be released in April 2020 as the 25th official James Bond film, and also as the ninth outing in which an Omega watch will make an appearance as the secret agent’s watch of choice. Unlike previous Bond movie-specific watches, the new model will not be produced in a limited series, and will be available from Omega starting in February 2020. It will be available on either a NATO-style polyester strap for $8,1000, or on a Milanese bracelet for $9,200.

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition - reclining
Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition – reclining

 To read more on James Bond and his watches, check out our in-depth history of all the Bond movie watches, from the Rolex Submariner Reference 6358 worn by Sean Connery in 1962’s Dr. No, up until 2015’s Omega Spectre watch, with all the additional models in between — from brands such as Rolex, Omega, Breitling, and Seiko — also included.

 

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

Essence of Emerald: 15 Green-Dial Watches On Sale Now

It doesn’t get any greener in today’s watch world. Or does it? There have never been as many green watches as there are today, and in this feature from our 2019 Special Design Issue, on sale now, we explore the emergence of the trend and showcase 15 currently available emerald-hued timepieces.

Although blue has been the most prominent trendy color for watches for the past several years, green is gaining in popularity. Blue has enjoyed such strong success that blue dials and straps have become a part of the standard col-lections of many brands. But the market constantly demands new attractions, so more than a few manufacturers have introduced new models in green. Is green the new blue?

The answer is, “No.” There will never be as many green watches as blue ones. A green watch evokes entirely different emotions than a blue one does. This reason alone makes it impossible to compare the two colors. Blue pleases everybody, but green sparks differences of opinion. From a fashion perspective, blue plays a transitional role between classic “non-colors” (black, gray and white) and “real” colors like red, yellow, orange and green. Dark blue business suits, pastel blue dress shirts and blue denim jeans are seen so frequently that we don’t really notice that they are any color. But a green shirt, sport jacket or pair of pants attracts attention – and not always in a good way. Wearing clothes in green hues is a no-go in some situations.

The contrast isn’t quite so extreme for watches, but green polarizes opinions here, too. Although green evokes many positive associations, such as nature and youth, green is also the complementary color of the red of our blood and represents the opposite of rosy good health. When people don’t feel well, their complexion may get a greenish tinge. Poisons are often green. Monsters are often depicted with green skin. Verdigris is poisonous. And moldy bread has a greenish hue.

When green is worn on the wrist, it’s a color for individualists. Wearing a green watch makes a statement. It seems to proclaim, “I’m free to do as I please.” Green has many nuances and everyone has his own idea of what a “typical” green is.

The watches pictured here conjure up widely diverse associations. The palette ranges from subdued dark green, through fashionable pastel green, to green with a blue or a yellow tinge. Green can refer to the military, to hunting or to nature. And, of course, there’s also the color known as British Racing Green.

Green won’t become the new blue. But it nonetheless offers the option of expressing self-confidence and joie de vivre by wearing a color that’s likely to attract other people’s gazes – or to simply delight its wearers, who have chosen to put their favorite color on their wrists.

H. MOSER & CIE. SWISS ALP WATCH CONCEPT COSMIC GREEN

Moser Swiss Alp Watch Cosmic Green
Moser Swiss Alp Watch Concept Cosmic Green

Fumé dials with a fluent transition between black and a “real” color have become the trademark of H. Moser & Cie. Now the version in Cosmic Green adorns the Swiss Alp Watch, with a case design that Jony Ive and Apple have generously overlooked. White gold, 38.2 mm by 44 mm, manufacture Caliber HMC 324, hand-wound, 20 pieces, $26,900.

AUDEMARS PIGUET ROYAL OAK OFFSHORE DIVER

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver

AP continues to rely on “funky colors” in this divers’ watch, which stays watertight to 300 meters. After bright yellow, orange and bright green, one of the newcomers in 2018 comes with a dial and rubber wristband in military khaki green. Stainless steel, 42 mm, manufacture Caliber AP 3120, automatic, $19,900.

HUBLOT CLASSIC FUSION GREEN

Hublot Classic Fusion Green
Hublot Classic Fusion Green

Considering the variety of colors that Hublot boasts, green simply couldn’t be missing from the spectrum. For the olive-green Classic Fusion, this brand is prioritizing the theme of unisex, as the 38-mm case suggests. Titanium, Sellita SW300, automatic, $6,600.

OMEGA SEAMASTER 300 MALACHITE

A dial made from South African malachite gives a noble aura to the Seamaster. The combination of a green mineral for the face and yellow gold for the case and bracelet ($56,250) seems more appropriate for another brand, so we prefer the platinum version, which is unfortunately much more costly ($88,500). 41 mm, Master Chronometer Caliber 8913, automatic.

RADO TRUE THINLINE NATURE

Rado True Thinline
Rado True Thinline Nature

Despite their hue, green watches seldom conjure up visions of verdant foliage. But this Rado watch is an exception: the mother-of-pearl dial with leafy structure distinguishes the look of the True Thinline, which has a case and bracelet made of high-tech ceramic. The design results from a partnership between Rado and the Grandi Giardini Italiani organization. 39 mm by 43 mm, quartz movement, $2,100.

BULGARI OCTO FINISSIMO

Bulgari Octo Green
Bulgari Octo Finissimo

The super-flat Octo Finissimo is a mere 5.15 mm thick. It encases 2.23-mm-slim manufacture Caliber BVL 138 with a platinum microrotor. Only 10 timepieces exist in this green version; they’re available at Harrods in London. Titanium, 40 mm, £12,000.

MB&F HOROLOGICAL MACHINE NO. 7 AQUAPOD

MB&F HM7 Aquapod - Green
MB&F HM7 Aquapod

The previous Aquapod with its luminous blue rotatable diving bezel was already an eye-catcher, but now it’s impossible to take one’s eyes off this new green jellyfish wristwatch. MB&F stays loyal to its concept of putting the utmost in the watchmaker’s art – here, a flying tourbillon – into playfully and provocatively shaped watches, thus transforming craftsmanship into fine art. Titanium, 53.8 mm by 21.3 mm, manufacture caliber, automatic, limited edition of 50 pieces, $108,000.

SINN HUNTER CHRONOGRAPH 3006

SINN Hunter Green
SINN Hunter Chronograph 3006

Sinn presents a watch designed expressly for hunters. A shade of green with a distinctly yellow tinge was chosen for the dial and the silicone strap. Along with the camouflage effect, this watch offers a second useful feature for hunters: a little moon appears above the T-shaped mark at the bottom of the dial to indicate that ambient lighting is bright enough for a hunt after sunset. Hardened stainless steel, 44 mm, ETA Valjoux 7751, $3,970.

CERTINA DS ACTION DIVER

Certina DS Action Diver Powermatic
Certina DS Action Diver Powermatic

Certina’s new divers’ watch isn’t only watertight to 300 meters, but is also equipped with self-winding Caliber Powermatic 80, which amasses an 80-hour power reserve. Connoisseurs who prefer a more subdued color scheme can opt for the same model with a black dial, rotatable bezel and green seconds hand. Stainless steel, 43 mm,

CHOPARD MILLE MIGLIA CLASSIC CHRONOGRAPH RACING COLORS

Chopard Mille Miglia Green
Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph

To celebrate its 30 years of partnership with the Mille Miglia rally for classic motorcars, Chopard presents five chronographs in the colors of historic race cars. This color scheme was devised approximately 100 years ago for drivers from different countries. British Racing Green was assigned to the drivers from England. This dark and subdued shade of green contrasts elegantly with bright yellow, red, silver or blue. Stainless steel, 42 mm, Caliber ETA 2894, automatic, chronometer, $6,080.

SEIKO 1968 AUTOMATIC COMMEMORATIVE LIMITED EDITION

Seiko Diver SLA019
Seiko Prospex Ref. SLA019

The Swiss aren’t the only ones who know that green also looks good on a divers’ watch. Seiko offers 1,968 pieces of the Prospex Reference SLA019, which is watertight to 300 meters, equipped with a rotatable ceramic bezel and delivered with an additional silicone wristband. Stainless steel, 44.3 mm, manufacture Caliber 8L35, automatic, $3,250.

GLASHÜTTE ORIGINAL SIXTIES PANORAMA DATE

Glashuette Original Sixties Panorama Date
Glashütte Original Sixties Panorama Date

The green version of the Sixties not only has a terrific color, but also fascinates with a sunburst of lacquer particles that look as though they’re exploding from the dial’s center and spreading out across the entire face like a supernova. Just how is this “dégradé” effect achieved? The experts at Glashütte Original’s dial factory keep the answer a closely guarded secret. Stainless steel, 42 mm, manufacture Caliber 39-47, automatic, $9,300.

HERMÈS ARCEAU CASAQUE

Hermes Arceau Casaque
Hermès Arceau Casaque

It’s not surprising that Hermès has adorned the dial of this watch with a stylized horse’s head because this brand has its roots in the saddler’s craft. The Arceau Casaque also alludes to a French board game in which little horses move across the playing board. The watch comes in the four basic colors used in the game: red, yellow, blue and this trendy green. Stainless steel, lacquered enamel dial, quartz movement, $3,400.

ORIS AQUIS DATE

Oris Aquis Date
Oris Aquis Date

The Aquis is a wonderful “no-nonsense” watch. It costs astonishingly little, but it offers surprisingly a lot: watertightness to 300 meters, a ceramic bezel, a stainless-steel bracelet and a fold-and-slide clasp with built-in extension piece. The version with a steel bracelet ($2,000) goes most handsomely with the green bezel and dial, although a variation with a brown leather strap is also available ($1,850). Stainless steel, 43.5 mm, Sellita SW200, automatic.

MONTBLANC 1858 MONOPUSHER CHRONOGRAPH LIMITED EDITION 100

Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph LE - flat
Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph

The technology and the dial arrangement of this handsome chronograph refer to a monopusher version that Minerva built in the 1920s. The green color gives a certain vintage character to this watch, which is actually a state-of-the-art timepiece. Stainless steel, 40 mm, manufacture Caliber MB M13.21, hand-wound, limited series of 100 watches, $30,000.

Americana on the Wrist: Timex Goes Back to Its Roots With U.S.-Made American Documents Series

As major watch manufacturers go, it’s hard to imagine one more quintessentially American than Timex. Founded in Waterbury, Connecticut in 1854 as the Waterbury Clock Company, its mission to “democratize” timekeeping for the masses began with the manufacture of clocks that were less expensive alternatives to their European-made counterparts. It continued through the following decades with the mass-produced Long Wind pocketwatch in 1877, to World War I military wristwatches modified from ladies’ pocketwatches in the early 20th century, to the introduction of the first official Mickey Mouse watches at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933, all the way to the famous “Takes a Licking but Keeps on Ticking” torture-test TV commercials of the 1960s.

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Timex American Documents combines American parts and craftsmanship with a Swiss-made quartz movement.

Now headquartered in Middlebury, CT, the Timex Group USA, as it is now called, is a large conglomerate, with numerous subsidiary companies, licensed fashion brands, and manufacturing operations throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. As a consequence of that growth, however, as with most all the historical watchmakers founded in the United States in the 19th century, Timex no longer makes the majority of its watches in the U.S. For the company’s 165th anniversary in 2019, however, Timex chose to honor its legacy by returning, at least partially, to its Made-in-America roots with the launch of the Timex American Documents collection.

The initial launch of American Documents consists of four models, all assembled by hand in Middlebury, all outfitted with Swiss-made quartz movements rather than the Asian-sourced quartz calibers that power most of Timex’s contemporary models. The movement parts are gold-plated to prevent oxidization and friction on the metal parts, making the occasional battery change the only regular maintenance required by the watch’s owner. It is on their exteriors, however, that the American Documents watches live up to their mandate of “capturing the spirit of what it means to be American-made,” in the words of Timex Group CEO Tobias Reiss-Schmidt.

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The forged steel cases have a beveled top ring and a brass caseback coin.

The watches’ 41-mm, satin-brushed steel cases are drop-forged (a first for American watchmaking) to maintain the material’s original grain and strength and feature a beveled top ring, individually turned in a proprietary process and polished by hand to a glossy finish. On the front side of the case, covering the dial, is a crystal made from Gorilla Glass 3 NDR, an impact-resistant, chemically strengthened glass used for iPhone screens and manufactured by its parent company, Corning, in Massachusetts. According to Timex, these crystals are cut in the same highly precise process used for the lenses of scientific instruments like telescopes.

On the back side is an inset coin in “Aged Waterbury Brass,” forged and stamped in New England, with a Timex logo centered in a tiny, hand-polished relief map of the continental United States, along with raised text reading “Waterbury, CT” and “Watchmakers Est. 1854.” Another, smaller brass insert, with a “TX” Timex logo, subtly decorates the fluted crown. (During the Industrial Revolution, Waterbury was a major producer of brass, earning it the distinction of being America’s “Brass City.”)

Timex American Documents - Crown Insert
A brass insert with relief Timex logo adorns the crown.
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The Aged Waterbury Brass Caseback commemorates the Connecticut city’s history of brass production.

The dials of all four American Documents watches — made from U.S.-sourced brass — are designed for classical simplicity: central hands for hours and minutes, small seconds on a 6 o’clock subdial, date window at 3 o’clock, and thin bar indexes for hour markers. Timex developed a new process to create the faceted hands, which are also made from brass and are, according to the company, the only such shaped watch hands currently made in the U.S.A. The dial itself is formed in the style of Timex’s early clocks and pocketwatches, two-layered and triple-printed on their faces for increased depth.

Timex American Documents - Dial - hands
Timex developed a new process to make the faceted brass hands.

Finally, the soft leather straps are made by American craftsmen from domestic cowhides sourced from S.B. Foot Tanning in Red Wing, Minnesota, a company founded in 1872 — nearly as old as Timex — and which remains the primary supplier of leather for Red Wing shoes and boots. The stitched, double-layered straps are designed to conform naturally to the wearer’s wrist over time.

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Over the grained dial is a crystal in Massachussetts-made Gorilla Glass.
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The soft leather straps used U.S.-sourced cowhide from Minnesota.

The packaging for American Documents is also a notch or two above that of your standard Timex. Each watch comes in a case made of solid, indigenous cherry wood, hand rubbed to a natural finish, with an inlaid magnetic closure and brass hinges. And since this is 2019 and not 1854, Timex has also included a digital component in its ticking tribute to Americana. Each purchaser of an American Documents watch also receives access to a downloadable, print-quality, high-resolution image from the American Documents gallery, a project that teamed Timex with photographer Bryan Schutmaat. To create this visual diary of America’s landscapes, people, and culture — the “documents” that lend the series its name, essentially — Schutmaat traveled from the Northeast, the cradle of American watchmaking, through Texas and the Midwest to the Montana Rockies. “There’s a sense of possibility that comes from the vastness of this country,” Schutmaat comments. “I wanted to capture the timelessness of our landscape to convey the spaces that bring us and our culture together, because American Documents, and every component of it, honors the beauty of our nation.”

The initial four Timex American Documents models are white dial/black strap, gray dial/blue strap, blue dial/brown strap, and black dial/brown strap, with a gunmetal-finish case. All are priced at $495.