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By Gary Girdvainis 

Throughout history watches and clocks have been designed to show the passage of time in a variety of ways beyond the current time. Think of the various functions for elapsed time, moon phase, sunrise, sunset, dual time, world time, countdown timers and tides. These movements and mechanisms have evolved to frenetically slice time into thinner and thinner segments striving for split-second accuracy.

With his own perspective, Israel-based Itay Noy uses modern mechanical technology to slow us down. With a longer view of the time continuum, Noy’s latest watch, Seven-Day Cycle, encourages us to visualize where each day resides in the longer scope of the week and in your own daily progression through time. Two companion models in the collection, Rest Day and Shabbat, fill out the full Seven-Day Cycle series with equally intriguing approaches to traditional timekeeping.    

Three watches in the Itay Noy Seven Day Cycle series. At top is Shabbat, with Seven-Day Cycle (left) and Rest Day (right).

I first met Itay Noy many years ago at the Basel Fair. His small and unassuming display at the back of Hall 5 was nothing impressive – merely a vitrine with his early models that looked nothing like watches I had seen before. 

I stopped and met with Itay and was as impressed by his enthusiasm and belief in his own vision as I was of his unusual take on timekeeping. While I’m typically skeptical of success for most new brands, his firm belief in himself and his designs led me to consider that Itay Noy had a better-than-average chance of surviving in the challenging and crowded field of watch brands.

More than twenty years later Itay Noy has not only survived but continues to thrive by evoking his own timekeeping designs hand-built in Israel in very small volumes – with dials and functions inspired by both secular and religious dogma.

The Seven-Day Cycle watch (below) reveals the weekdays on the dial with the seventh day as Sunday.

 

The Rest Day model.

“Instead of a single window revealing the traditional names of weekdays, I skeletonized all weekdays on the dial as numeric values (first day, second day and so on) and the seventh day as a rest day,” Itay Noy says of Rest Day.

“Each day will be highlighted in turn. Each watch can be personalized to the owner’s faith or preferences simply by choosing any day of the week as his (or her) rest day.”

The Shabbat watch from the Seven-Day Cycle series.

On the Shabbat watch, find the Hebrew weekdays on the dial and the seventh day is Shabbat. Each day will be highlighted in turn. In addition, each day a new Hebrew letter will appear in the small window at 6 o’clock and together complete the sentence: “God finished the work he has done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had; (Genesis 2:2).

Price: $4,900. 

 

SPECIFICATIONS: Ita Noy Seven-Day Cycle 

(A limited edition of 77, each numbered)

Movement: Automatic, INS200, Ø29mm, Height 5.05mm, 26 Jewels 28,800vph, power reserve 38 hours.            

Functions: hours, minutes, sweep seconds, quick-set date, and 7-day windows.

Case: 40mm by 8.4mm stainless steel 316L, sapphire crystal, screw-down case back, water-resistant to 50 meters. 

StrapHandmade leather.

Price:  $4,900.

Franck Muller’s Las Vegas Racing Watch celebrates the inaugural Formula One race hosted by the Sin City as it hits the apex of watchmaking design and accelerates onto the Las Vegas Strip.

The Franck Muller Las Vegas Racing Watch.

The compressed carbon chassis is cast in this sport-driven Vanguard design, this time with new coach works inspired by the fastest track cars in the world coming to Las Vegas for the first time.

Under the hood is the in-house designed and manufactured Franck Muller custom engine, enhanced with a roulette wheel function as it performs late-breaking maneuvers into the exclusive point of sale at the Las Vegas Neiman Marcus.

Issued in a very limited edition, the Franck Muller Las Vegas Racing is the perfect racing partner for those who live life in the fast lane. Price: $45,000.

 

By Gary Girdvainis 

It will come as no surprise to any fashionista that the retro-chic design of the Briston Clubmaster is a child of a Franco-Italian collaboration – in this case with a bit of Brit influence mixed in for good measure.

The Briston Clubmaster Sport

Crafted in cellulose acetate supplied by the sixth-generation-owned Italian manufacturer Mazzucchelli 1849, the watch has Briston making a case for a watch case in the form of a “squircle”. What’s a squircle you say? It’s actually a portmanteau of “square” and “circle” and really best describes the softened corners and flowing lines of this Briston case out of round.

Emulating the style of both luxury eyewear and fine writing instruments originally crafted in tortoise shell (a misnomer as most often sea turtle shell was used), the main body of the Briston Clubmaster case is sensually smooth and soft to the touch, hypo-allergenic, and even recyclable.

Variegated patterns evoke the tortoise-shell effect of its biological predecessor, and like natural shell, the man-made acetate versions will vary with no two cases being exactly alike. Unlike the original shell, the cellulose acetate can be brought to life in an amazing array of colors beyond the amber and cognacs of the original – including solid tone colors crafted in the same material.

In our Ice Blue Briston Clubmaster sample, the steel lugs spaced 20mm apart seamlessly emerge from the semi translucent case, while a threaded steel back and domed sapphire crystal protect the inner workings and lume-enhanced dial and hands.

Various colors are available in a 40mm x 40mm three-hand model as well as a 42mm x 42mm chronograph with day/night indicator at 3 o’clock. All are water resistant to 10atm and powered by Miyota quartz movements.

For smaller wrists there are also options in 36mm and 24mm in a variety of cool case colors and matching dials. 

Lightweight and stylish, Briston watches are an easy purchase with prices ranging from $195 to $440 at www.briston-watches.com 

 

By Gary Girdvainis 

Since it first launched, Zenith’s Chronomaster Sport has seen a variety of cases, dials, sizes and colors. Today, Zenith is releasing a collaboration on a new Chronomaster Sport with brand ambassador Aaron Rodgers, four-time NFL MVP and future football Hall of Fame quarterback.

The new Zenith Chronometer Sport developed with Aaron Rodgers.

Taking on the New York Jets team color, “Gotham” Green (pantone – PMS 7484 C), Zenith’s newest member of the Chronomaster Sport series keeps all the quality points and construction of its 41mm predecessors – this time in the affiliated garb of the brand’s favorite pigskin protagonist.

The El Primero Striking Tenth, which Zenith debuted in 2011, elevated the chronograph function to a logical zenith in human-actuated interval timekeeping. Zenith did this by taking the already high-speed El Primero movement beating at ten beats per second and adding a center chronograph seconds hand that moves along in 1/10th seconds intervals when actuated.

This finite timing, which breaks the second into tenths, is really at the very peak of human reaction time and represents both technical prowess and logical functionality. Of course there are mechanical watches that divide the second into hundredths, or even thousands, but when the best human reaction times to stimuli are at about .15 seconds, dividing the second into such small increments is more an example of technical achievement than actual useful functionality.

In addition to sporting the Gotham Green dial and bezel, this limited edition also has Aaron Rodgers’ logo engraved on the sapphire crystal back. Price: $12,800. 

See www.zenith-watches.com for more details. 

Here’s my take on the new watch:

 

 

By Gary Girdvainis

Ten years ago, business partners RT Custer and Tyler Wolfe created something new out of something old and brought the Vortic watch brand to life. Housing refurbished vintage American pocket watch movements into wristwatch cases crafted in the United States was a novel idea that brought renewed interest in an Americas watchmaking heritage, while simultaneously creating watches that could legitimately be called Made In the USA.

Ten years later,  a sister brand, Colorado Watch Company, joins the vintage-powered Vortic.

 Successfully launched on Kickstarter, the Colorado Watch Company is following the founding duos desire to build watches in the USA – in this case with a modern movement and the ability to scale from hundreds of watches per year to thousands.

Colorado Watch Company Field Watch Prototype, pictured in four options.

For us, Colorado Watch Company represents our desire to continue to do big, exciting things,” says RT Custer. “We know how to make hundreds of watches in America, and have been doing it with Vortic for nearly a decade. But what about thousands? What if we could create dozens of jobs, not just a handful? Colorado Watch Company represents our American Dream, and we like to dream big!”

As part of this expansion, the partners have relocated to a new facility in Fort Collins Colorado, and invested substantially in a series of machines and equipment critical to making cases and components for watches right in their own facility. Swiss lathes, five-axis CNC milling machines, automated pad printers and more have allowed the partners to take the next steps in American watchmaking.

Field Watch and GCT case machining process.

Initially, two case variations are offered; one is Tyler’s design (the 40mm Field Watch), and the other by RT (the 42mm GCT). Four variants of each are offered in total, each with two dial and two case options. 

The Field Watch

At 40mm with 20mm between the lugs, the 316L stainless-steel Field Watch will comfortably fit on almost anyones wrist. Its also slimmer than you might expect for an automatic watch at just 10.5mm due to the fact that the threaded case-back is recessed within the back and shaves off a couple of millimeters in height – a clever engineering solution for sure.

In the steel-case version, Colorado Watch decided to leave the subtle machining marks as a unique hallmark that adds an industrial effect while emphasizing that these cases were in fact made on-site.

The Field watch dial is machined and printed in Colorado.

Of course, these marks could be polished out and the makers could (and probably will) add different finishes in the future, but this clever bit of wabi-sabi adds an air of authenticity. DLC versions in black will not have the same effect and are polished before coating. 

Field watch and GCT back view, showing FTS automatic movement.

Inside the case beats an Americhron 7020 automatic-winding movement built by FTS USA in Arizona. Shock resistant, accurate, and beating at a frequency of 28,880 bph, the 7A20 movements have a power reserve of around 40 hours and were designed by a team of watchmakers, including FTSown Chief Technical Officer.

FTS automatic movement, showing balance assembly.

Above the movement, the stepped dials are available in a smooth white finish or machined steel. They are also crafted in-house at Fort Collins with integrated (not welded) dial feet adding strength and security to a notorious weak spot in almost any wristwatch. BGW9 lume graces the hands and pip at 12 oclock, while a domestically sourced sapphire crystal sits atop the case.

Even the screws and crown/stem combinations are made on site. Water resistance has been confirmed to 5atm with the non-screw-down crown, but expect a 10atm rating by the time they are delivered. Retail price is $995.

The Colorado Watch Company GCT Watch.

The GCT

Designed by RT, the GCT is slightly larger than the Field Watch at 42mm, but much more wearable than its 49mm inspiration – the original Military pocket-watch conversion that became a favorite among Vortic collectors. 

In this modern homage to the original, the screw-down crown is relocated to the 12 oclock position, while the stepped dial features Super-Luminova that recalls the colors of the aged radium look of the military original.

Like the Field watch, the GCT case is available in the raw steel version or the black DLC. Similarly, the stepped dials are available in a flat black or machined variation. The same Americhron 7A20 movement beats inside and is visible through the exhibition back in all versions.

Water resistant to 10atm when the crown is screwed down, the GCT also retains some water resistance even when the crown is in the unscrewed position thanks to a gasket system that acts as a backup for the absent-minded watch enthusiast. Retail price is $1,395. 

Growing from Vortic to adding Colorado Watch Company while installing the machinery and expertise is no easy task. Neither is it easy to build an American watch manufacturer that can scale up to produce thousands of watches per year.

The GCT’s steel components.

Nevertheless, Custer and Tyler have taken another massive step in bringing watchmaking back to life in the United States and I congratulate them on their success and look forward to following their watchmaking journey wherever it may lead them in the future. Learn more at the Vortic Watches site.