Originally launched as a quartz watch, Maurice Lacroix’s archetypal Aikon series’ latest edition features an option with an automatic Swiss movement inside. The Aikon Venturer truly allows its wearer to venture because it is built rock-solid and is anti-magnetic, shock resistant and rated water resistant to an impressive three hundred meters.
The watch’s sporty look and diver-style overtones instill the robust feeling of a tool watch, but with style enough to wear anytime. At 43mm in diameter, the sapphire-capped stainless-steel case is full-figured but not huge, and actually quite comfortable on the wrist with either the solid-link bracelet or natural rubber strap.
With the brand’s deep technical background as a case maker and private label supplier to other (famous) Swiss brands, you can be sure that the Aikon is built with all the fine details that define a high quality watch.
Close inspection under a loupe reveals the finite perfection of those details that the naked eye appreciates as a whole, but may not individually dissect at a glance. Markers and printing are precise, as is the fit and finish of the bezel, strap, and case back.
Maurice Lacroix smartly adds convenience to the Aikon’s stylish design with a strap fixed to the lugs by means of the brand’s own Easy Change system, which has two bars fitted with protruding prongs. These make it possible to remove the rubber strap in two steps and to replace it with the finely articulated five-link satin-finished steel bracelet we’ve seen in earlier Aikon models.
Priced at $1,890 on the rubber strap and $1,990 on the solid-link stainless steel bracelet, the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Venturer is pound for pound (or dollar for dollar) as good or better than certain Greek Alphabet watches costing more than triple the price.
If the design of this watch feels somehow familiar, you won’t be surprised to learn that Detroit Watch co-designers Patrick and Amy Ayoub have once again applied their classical blueprint to their American-based brand.
Two variations of the brand’s new stand-alone Pontchartrain collection are housed in an elegantly stepped 42mm stainless steel case. Both feature automatic ETA Swiss-made movements, one with a sub-second and the other with a choice of silver or gold moon-phase complication.
All the qualities you’d expect in a high-quality, high-value watch are here, including sapphire crystal, exhibition back, superior decoration on the Swiss movement and a calfskin strap, which all come together to make a fine watch. Under the loupe the hands are as superb as the dials, and even the crown looks, feels and functions beautifully.
Those outside the Detroit area might ask why “Pontchartrain” for a Detroit-based brand? The Ayoubs chose this name to recall the historic fort that was built in 1701 and actually ended up applying its name to the city. France’s King Louis XIV commissioned Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit as the first permanent French settlement in the area and as a center for the fur trade and French military power in 1701.
Built along the Detroit River in order to protect the French trade from the British, the fort was named in honor of Louis XIV’s minister of marine and colonies, Louis Phélypeaux de Pontchartrain. Le Detroit, French for ‘the strait’ eventually came to identify Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit and the surrounding area and after 1751, was known simply as Fort Detroit.
Two brand-new releases from Seiko Prospex recall historic diver’s models from 1968 while a third new diver’s watch, offered on a silicone strap or a titanium bracelet, features a lighter titanium dial and a bracelet built with references to a Shogun’s helmet and armor.
Seiko has updated both models with the solid 6R35 automatic mechanical movement, which is appreciated for both its robust nature as well as its 70-hour power reserve.
Bi-directional winding via the magic finger system adds power to the movement while wearing the watch, but you can also manually wind it as well. Also, for all the watch “hacks” out there fixated on stopping the second hand in order to coordinate their next mission, the 6R35 does in-fact offer this over-appreciated feature.
While critics may search for other depredations in the fact that the frequency of the caliber 6R35 at 21,600 vph is a bit slower than other Japanese options, accuracy is the same or similar to those slightly faster mechanical heartbeats. One wonders if the internet’s instant experts have considered that putting less stress on a system that will inevitably need service and/or repair down the road might actually be a benefit rather than a detriment.
Seiko fits this movement into its Propex “Shogun” series (SPB189 and SPB191) are crafted in a 43.5 mm hardened titanium case rated to 200 meters of water resistance with the crown at the traditional 3 o’clock position. A super-huge date display is made even larger by a magnifying cyclops window, with a uni-directional diver’s bezel atop. The sapphire crystal over the dial will be difficult to mar or scratch unless you shatter it entirely.
Like its sister dive models, the Seiko Prospex ‘Shogun’ could not be any easier to read; Broad hands coated in a thick layer of LumiBrite glow brightly – just like the hour markers. Time is clearly of the essence with these masterful classics. Offered with a choice of a silicone strap at $1,350, or a titanium bracelet for an extra $200, the Shogun will be a fan favorite for both real and “desk” divers.
For Japanese warrior fans, Seiko says the triangular notches in the rotating bezel on this model resemble the ornaments of a traditional Shogun helmet. The yabane or “arrow feather” link shape of the bracelet version, according to the brand, calls to mind weapons and armor.
Bringing us back to 1968, the Seiko Prospex Diver SPB185 and SPB187 are slightly smaller at 42mm, slightly heavier as they are cast in steel, and slightly less expensive due to the aforementioned reasons.
Broader shoulders separate the sister-types, as does a crown migrated slightly south to the 4 o’clock position. Other nuances of design define each as the hands, markers, and bezel are endemic to each design. Otherwise these are very similar in the chassis build quality. Available only on a solid link steel bracelet, the 185 and 187 retail for $1,200.
In the signature style of this U.S.-based aviation-themed brand, the new Torgoen T42 features a straightforward design inspired by the ergonomic layout of instruments in airplane cockpits.
The automatic watch is built with a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, genuine Italian leather strap and an ETA 2824 Swiss movement. Purists will appreciate the dial for its ease in reference in both light and dark conditions.
The Swiss-made movement offers the wearer a quick date change and bi-directional self-winding. It is cased inside a 41mm 316Lstainless steel case built to handle water pressure 100 meters below the ocean’s surface.
Torgoen makes the T42 in four variations, each featuring a different color combination including: black, blue, cream and gray dials, all held together with a 21mm Italian leather strap, sewn with tone-on-tone stitching. Price: $790.
Chrono24 is a marketplace for luxury watches that offers buyers and sellers the opportunity to buy, and sell, pre-owned, vintage, and new luxury watches.
As iW recently discovered in an interview with Chrono 24 CEO Tim Stracke, Chrono24 does not consider itself strictly as a watch dealer, but instead call itself “a marketplace that provides a service with the technology to connect buyers and sellers, to provide transparency to the market and to make transactions safe through the platform.” Below we excerpt the highlights of our interview.
iW: How long has Chrono24 been in existence?
Tim Stracke: The website was established in 2003, and my partners and I took over the site in 2010. We were able to turn it into a real business at a time when online business was starting to evolve. Today, we have close to 300 employees as our headquarters in Karlsruhe, Germany, and we also have satellite offices in Berlin, Hong Kong, and New York that run Chrono24 as a global business. However, besides operating this company together, we are also very enthusiastic about watches.
The vast majority of our employees owns at least one watch that means a lot to them – altogether, we have quite a versatile watch collection. Through this, we probably reach one out of every three luxury watch lovers worldwide (including 9 million unique viewers every month), providing them access to more than 470,000 watch listings from over 100 countries.
When you took it over in 2010 – what changed?
For the first seven years, Chrono24 was pretty much a classifieds site where you could find watches and contact the seller, leaving the transaction entirely between buyer and seller. We converted this into a transactional marketplace, investing a massive amount of energy into make the transaction process secure. Now, the buyer transfers payment to our escrow account, and we make sure that the buyer is happy before forwarding payout to the seller.
We also offer a lot of additional services around the purchasing process. We have a magazine, as well as a lot of data you can use to easily compare prices. One of our more interesting features is the Chrono24 Watch Collection, which enables users to upload their watches and track their watch portfolio like they would their stocks.
In addition to this, we recently added two new functions to our app: The first is our Virtual Showroom, an AR tool that allows you to try on 12 very popular models virtually. These include the Rolex Submariner Date, Omega Speedmaster Professional, Patek Philippe Nautilus, and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.
Our latest addition is called the Watch Scanner, where you can simply scan any watch with your camera to automatically identify it. From there, you can add it to your Watch Collection or even create a listing.
We extrapolate the data from the tens of thousands of transactions made on our platform every per month to establish a fairly accurate range of values. For this calculation, we include actual sales prices from past sales, as well as current listing prices on Chrono24. If we don’t have enough data to make a valid estimation – for example, for rather rare reference numbers – we also include listing prices from the past. This calculation is refreshed daily and provides a representation of a watch’s performance over time.
Also, our algorithm ignores any extraordinarily high or low sales prices to avoid inaccurate estimated values. An added value for the user here is that if they’re worried about paying too much for a watch, they can follow it in a separate section of their Watch Collection and immediately see its current and historic value to help make the decision as to which watch to buy even easier. Plus, once they’ve made the purchase, they can add it to their own digital collection to monitor its financial performance over time. We’ve done this with some of our employee’s watches. It’s fun to use.
Is the condition very important?
Of course condition matters, but with watches, it is more about the rarity than the condition in many cases. This is especially true when it comes to limited editions like the Omega Speedy Tuesdays and rare vintage models; it’s quite fascinating how these timepiece perform over time.
You also provide a Watch Scanner tool in your app. How does it work?
It’s actually pretty easy to use: Once you’ve launched the Watch Scanner tool in the Chrono24 app, simply take a picture of the watch you want to identify. The tool compares the photo with a database of around 15,000 watches and almost 2 million images from more than 6.5 million previous and current listings on Chrono24.
Based on this data, the tool can recognize the model and provides the user with other information like the reference number and its estimated market value according to the Chrono24 Watch Collection.
So far, the tool is able to identify around 15,000 different watch models, which is a lot. But that’s just a small percentage of all existing luxury watches out there. However, since it is based on a learning artificial intelligence program, the Watch Scanner is constantly evolving. We will soon be releasing an improved version that will include a feedback function and be able to identify more models. So far, the tool has been used more than a million times – and it’s only four months old.
Do you envision a physical location (permanent or pop-up) as part of the Chrono24 formula?
Looking back ten years ago, I never could have imagined that Chrono24 would be as big or as relevant as it is today. We acquired one of our retail partners about a year ago. We did this mainly to learn what life is like on the other side of the “screen,” so to speak. We also see the potential for other services. We have partnered with Fratello Watches, and we now sell limited editions through Fratello.
As of today, we are not looking for retail locations; instead, we count on our partners and look to help them sell online. That said, we are an agile business, so it’s hard to predict the future.
What are the strongest markets for Chrono24?
Historically, Germany was our strongest market, but this was obviously due to the fact that that is where Chrono24 started. Today, Chrono24 is a global entity, with the United States and Europe leading the way, followed by Asia, which is growing very fast. That being said, the United States is one of our top-three markets in many aspects, including sales and visits. We are very proud that we have around 900,000 unique visitors from the United States every month and that there are more than 120,000 American user accounts on Chrono24.
Does Chrono24 sell more new or used watches?
It’s about two-thirds pre-owned – or “pre-loved,” as we like to call it – and one-third new watches.
Is Chrono24 a tool to help dealers move aging inventory?
We work with close to 3,500 dealers worldwide and dedicate entire teams to these strong and important partners. While many of our partners have existing storefronts, Chrono24 is becoming a more relevant part of their business, and some of our partners actually sell exclusively through Chrono24. Most dealers offer all of their inventory on Chrono24, and not only aging pieces.
What trends do you see in the U.S.?
Overall, we see a polarization of price points. The very high end remains strong –especially among well-known and recognized brands like Rolex, Omega, and AP – while the lower end of luxury watches (let’s say under $1,000) is not as strong as it could be. Also, our American users mostly buy from sellers that are also based in the United States – more than sixty percent of all U.S. sales are domestic. Surely one of the reasons for this is the high number of American dealers on our marketplace.
Globally, it’s a different picture: Approximately seventy percent of sales on Chrono24 are made across international borders.
What about smartwatches on Chrono24?
Based on what we are seeing, smartwatches are acting like a gateway into more traditional mechanical watches. That said, not many people are searching for Apple watches on Chrono24. It seems our customers are searching for something special, and when they want to buy a smartwatch, they go elsewhere to do their research and make purchases.
How has buying a luxury watch online evolved over the last decade or so?
I remember before Chrono24 started I would spend hours and hours researching watches online and feeling like the platforms at the time made had more of a flea market atmosphere. You would have to search site after site and numerous retailers. If each site had a few hundred options, you might have to search for a long time to find the watch you really wanted to have.
You also needed to have a lot of confidence that the individual or company that you were buying from was legitimate. We are now in a situation where we can provide global transparency, a huge selection, and create a platform that makes for secure and comfortable purchases.
How safe is it to buy a watch from Chron24 with regard to authenticity?
Authenticity is our number one priority, as is the safety and security of the entire transaction from placing to order to when it’s on your wrist. First of all, our global sales team verifies and vets every dealer before we let them on the platform – and not everyone meets our high standards.
Second, we created Trusted Checkout, a free escrow service. Once you’ve found your dream watch on Chrono24 and have come to an agreement with the dealer, you transfer the amount due to an escrow account. We only release the funds to the seller once you have received the watch and are happy to keep it.
If there are issues, our multi-lingual support team is there to help buyers and sellers and guarantee a smooth transaction. Should conflicts arise, we even have a mediation team to guide buyers and sellers toward a mutually satisfactory solution. At this time, we don’t perform physical checks of the watches; instead, we offer a no-questions-asked return policy as part of Trusted Checkout to safeguard ultimate safety for the transaction.
Do you consider Chrono24 a disruptor in the industry?
This is our role: changing the industry, changing the way people purchase watches, especially pre-owned and vintage watches. Considering our global transparency, huge inventory, and market data paired with the low cost for the service of selling a watch, I would say we are creating a new and possibly disruptive platform for buying and selling watches. Several years ago, industry leaders wouldn’t even talk to us, but this has quickly changed as they have seen the service we provide – and probably also the passion for luxury watches we share.
The story of Waldan Watches is an inspiring one.I’ve followed the progress of the company since the early days of International Watch, and with the re-birth of Waldan Watches underway, led by its new-generation leader Andrew Waldan, it’s time to review the Waldan story and introduce its latest collection.
The groundwork that laid the foundation for the Waldan International watch brand goes back to the late 1970s during a period when founder Oscar Waldan supplied retailers in the United States with in-house-branded timepieces.
A polish immigrant, Waldan arrived in the U.S. in 1946 as a rare survivor of not one, but two separate German concentration camps – thanks in large part to his ability to service and repair wristwatches. The decades between Oscar’s arrival in the U.S. in 1946 and the launch of his own brand in 1979 saw Oscar working in various positions in the U.S. offices of Tissot, Universal Genève, Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany & Co., and others.
Three decades after his arrival in the U.S., Oscar took the leap to start his own brand in 1979. He designed his own series of mechanical watches featuring exquisite dials, including chronographs, chronometers, world timers, alarms, and more.
These were all mechanical watches and all would carry the Waldan trademark on the dial.
Bear in-mind that this was in an era long before the cookie-cutter options that make it simpler for anyone to buy an off-the-shelf “made in China” watch. Back then, you really had to know what you were doing to have any chance to bring a watch brand together – especially when you were one of the few members of the industry that still believed the mechanical watch had a future in the newly minted quartz era. These early Waldan watches remain collector’s favorites and embody what a fine luxury wristwatch should be; mechanical complications with top-quality components inside and out, and a design that will never go out of style.
That said, these were, and are, out of the reach of most consumers. They were crafted exclusively in precious gold and platinum with mechanical Swiss Made chronographs and other complicated movements within, and their prices reflected those components.
But while Oscar’s early Waldans were worth more than he charged, they still called for a substantial investment in the thousands of dollars to acquire.
It’s no surprise that the founding father of Waldan Watches would bring his son Andrew into the family business.
At a very young age, Andrew was often found at the New York headquarters of Waldan International. There, with his father and the staff of assistants and watchmakers, Andrew grew into a young man surrounded by all things watches. All the while Andrew was developing an insider’s perspective on an industry about to experience a renaissance that his father had never actually abandoned.
Guided by his father’s indelible principles, Andrew combined an understanding of current market trends with his own experiences when he was called on to take over the company due to his father’s failing health in 2017. Having actively worked with his father at Waldan International since 2013, Andrew was well prepared to take the lead as the CEO of the Waldan brand when his father passed away in January 2018.
Andrew had decided it was time to evolve the brand. During this rebirth process he came to the conclusion that making the classic Waldan design available to a much wider audience might make sense.
So in a daring departure from the established path, he decided to build a watch in the United States, not in Switzerland, using the newly minted Ameriquartz movement inside.
Crafted in steel, the watches are targeting a retail price of under $500 each with a goal of expanding the potential reach for his father’s design(s) by an order of magnitude.
Working with his team, Andrew has now brought to life a watch collection that embraces the design cues of a Waldan watch, including the Waldan font, hands, color palette, fine leather straps, and, most critically, the iconic curves of the stepped case and lugs, all at a retail price will appeal to anyone at a modest $299.99.
More than skin deep
In making watches, the devil really is in the details. It’s easy to make a cheap handsome (or pretty) watch that won’t last until the first battery dies. Making one that will last a lifetime and beyond calls for a different approach.
Here’s where Andrew and his team – including his chief technical advisor – came together over the course of more than a year to examine and approve every component and every detail to finally put together a watch that passed muster for both esthetics and durability.
Andrew also chose to source American suppliers where possible to continue his father’s own goal in building a legitimate watch brand in the U.S. Waldan is currently the only brand authorized to use the Ameriquartz trademark on the dial of their watches.
Those unfamiliar with Ameriquartz movements should note that they are jeweled all-metal movements built in at a state-of-the-art facility in Fountain Hills, Arizona, to the highest standards.
As both a founding advisor to the company and as its sales manager, I can tell you that each movement is built using a combination of modern and traditional engineering to bring the quartz movement to its zenith with regards to accuracy and reliability, and each one is individually tested and certified when manufactured.
Each movement also carries a manufacturer’s five-year warranty against manufacturing defects.
Waldan’s new collection is presented in an easy-to-wear 40mm diameter case with a slim 8.6mm profile.Crafted in 316L stainless steel, they are water resistant to 50 meters with a flat sapphire crystal protecting each of six variations on the theme.
Waldan is introducing Heritage Professional series with dials in four colors, including black, white, off-white and green.
These join two Waldan Heritage Sportline versions with oil-pressed linear-patterned dials in black and silver, which rounds out the initial launch of the Waldan Heritage collection.
Although not limited to a specific numbered series, each Waldan Heritage is hand built in the U.S. using a proprietary ATAC (assess, test, assemble, certify) Zero-Defect protocol and will be limited by production capacity and likely to be a hot commodity when it releases in mid July.
To stay up to speed with new releases and details check in at the Waldan web-site (www.waldanwatches.com) which is currently being updated and modernized to better meet the preferences of today’s consumers.
Chrono24 just made it easier for watch buyers and sellers to conduct business and communicate with customers online with the release of a dealer app on iOS and Android.
Chrono24 dealers can use this app to more efficiently sell watches by selecting and uploading images directly from a smartphone and quickly update delivery and shipping details. Dealers can also monitor wristwatch availability within the app as well as keep track of monthly statistics like revenue and transactions.
The new Chrono24 app allows dealers to download invoices as a PDF. In addition it can be set to generate push notifications to alert the dealer to new requests and orders. And finally, the new app allows dealers to tap into the app’s mobile messenger to communicate directly with potential buyers and sellers around the world.
The idea, according to the German-based online watch market, is to offer dealers a modern tool to help process sales more quickly and facilitate communication with customers.
The free Chrono24 Dealer app is available for download here:
Changing the strap your watch wears is like changing the clothes on your back. Like the difference between a tuxedo and a t-shirt, the change can create an entirely different sartorial effect.
Watch lovers who want to spice up a particular favorite watch can now add any of the new 47 Ronin straps to the list of options to customize their look.
Each strap from the 47 Ronin collection is handmade by the Singaporean artisan that goes by the mononym “Tong”. With strong connections to Japan, Tong has opted for a variety of Japanese heritage textiles including Tatami, Kimono & Japanese print fabrics, Washi Japanese paper and other materials are hand sewn into a variety of leather types.
Tong travels the world with his kit of tools in tow and handcrafts straps wherever he may find himself. Custom commissions are also available and each strap features a quick-release spring bar for easy changeover. Prices range from $260-$360 for the varieties, all available at the company’s website.
Founded in Detroit in 2013 by designing duo Amy and Patrick Ayoub, the Detroit Watch Company recently introduced the latest addition to its collection with the M1 Woodward automatic with a custom-decorated Valjoux 7750 chronograph movement showcasing the DWC Fleur-de-lys logo.
Visible through the sapphire crystal back, the Fleur-de-lys decoration adds a subtle touch that speaks to the local provenance of the brand as the same patterns grace the flag of Detroit.
According to founder Patrick Ayoub, the M1-Woodward Avenue is a highway notably referred to as Detroit’s Main Street and follows the route of the old Saginaw Trail that linked Detroit with Pontiac, and at the time, Flint and Saginaw. Originally created after a devastating fire in 1805 and one of five principal avenues in Detroit devised by Augustus B. Woodward, it derived the “M-1”designation thanks to its heritage as the location of the first mile of concrete roadway.
The watch itself is a full-figured stainless steel 44mmx14.5mm beauty and one of the best values on the market for such a beautifully designed and well-built structure framing a fan favorite movement within.Even though offered in very limited editions, if this watch was put to market by ANY big Swiss name brand you could fully expect to see the price as double the $1,895 that the Ayoub’s ask for their work. More at www.detroitwatchco.com
First of all I do want to say that I am an absolute fan of the Baselworld fair and have benefited from my attendance in one way or another since my first fair in 1991. During both boom and bust years I always found it an invaluable event to discover new ideas and designs as well as re-connect with industry contacts.
Having said that I will also point out that at my very first World Watch Clock & Jewelry Show in Basel (not distilled into “Baselworld” at that time) a friendly Canadian watch distributor named John Keeping gave me a piece of advice that rings truer today than ever. He said, “Gary this is your first Basel Fair, so what I’m about to say may not make sense right now, but you will come to understand it if you continue in the wristwatch industry.” He said; “no money, no Swiss”.
Although not quite perfect English, John’s salient bon mot has proven over the years to be more a truism than I could have ever imagined at that early stage of my watching career.
While accurate on a brand and manufacturing level, Baselworld’s recent offer to PAID exhibitors for the cancelled 2020 event reaffirms why so many industry veterans make reference to the unmitigated gall and Swiss arrogance within the watch industry. Read below an excerpt from the recent Baselworld press release and ponder how you might react with your own money on the line.
From Baselworld press release dated April 3rd 2020:
“In this challenging environment, Baselworld is very conscious of the stakes for all exhibitors and is absorbing a significant portion of costs due to postponing the show by offering to carry forward 85% of the fees for Baselworld 2020 to Baselworld 2021 (the remaining 15% will serve to partially offset out-of-pocket costs already accrued). If needed, exhibitors can alternatively request a cash refund which will be of up to 30% of the fees, with 40% carried forward to Baselworld 2021.”
Now if this was offered up on April 1st I would have immediately called April Fool’s, but in this case the only fools were those brands that thought that Baselworld was going to evolve into a more welcoming event. Basically stick with us and we’ll stick it to you, or don’t stick with us and we’ll stick it to you worse.
Understanding the caveats of force majeure (and who could have predicted 2020’s turn of events?) have to be considered, and to be fair, Baselworld does have a staff of year-round employees that need to be paid, but this offer is really a slap in the face to their clients – at a time when the image and future of the fair was already under duress.
At this stage it may have been better to take the lumps now and work with the local canton and Swiss government for some kind of relief. The above “offer” will certainly alienate the existing brands and may be cause for pause to others that were on the fence and thinking of coming back to the annual event.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that major hotels, including some of the most expensive in Basel, are denying refunds and generally treating their upscale clientele to a shit sandwich. That, after charging exorbitant fees 3-5 times the usual rate, insisting on seven-night commitments, and demanding dinners and events be held on premises to bulk up the payola for the one week of the Baselworld Fair.
As a thirty-year veteran of the evolving halls of Basel’s watch & jewelry fair I appreciate the density of product and personnel that Basel embodies. It creates a target-rich environment for both editorial and marketing like no other event. That said, it needs to evolve; director Melikof has announced new digital activations embracing and developing the potential and reach in the digital age, but without the brands there is no show.
What will Basel become if Rolex, Patek Philippe – or both – withdraw? Having already lost the Swatch Group, Breitling, Bulgari, Gucci, and others, the management is on thin ice. Treating their existing exhibitors like this does not help.
Maybe moving the show to January will give it the chill it needs to make it safe to skate…..