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For many years Precision Engineering AG, a sister company of H. Moser & Cie., has been making balance springs for MB&F. These two high-profile independent watchmakers today expand their ties well beyond sharing component-makers by each launching a watch with functions and designs originally found on watches from both companies.

Thus, on the new Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H. Moser × MB&F the wearer sees a cylindrical tourbillon and tilted dial that immediately recalls the MB&F LM Thunderdome or its Flying-T.

Likewise, on the new LM101 MB&F × H. Moser we see the highly recognizable MB&F suspended balance flying above a trademark H. Moser fumé dial with minimalized H. Moser hands indicating both time and power reserve.

Both companies have jointly created these two new watches and will make them available in several versions with each issued in a fifteen-piece limited series. Fifteen signifies the 15th anniversary of MB&F and the fifteenth anniversary of H. Moser & Cie.’s re-launch.

Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H. Moser × MB&F

For this 42mm model, H. Moser & Cie. takes the MB&F concept of three-dimensional movements to another technical level with a one-minute flying tourbillon (with the aforementioned cylindrical balance) popping out of an aperture at 12 o’clock.

Down at 6 o’clock we see a 40-degree tilted dial, lifted directly from MB&F’s LM Thunderdome or Flying –T.  Rather than the white lacquer dial used by MB&F, here we find clear sapphire marked only by the H. Moser name, two hands and the twelve hour markers.

H. Moser CEO Edouard Meylan explains that his company has “Moserized the MB&F universe by developing a sapphire subdial, which melts into the background so as to highlight the beauty of our fumé dials.”

H. Moser will make the watch available in five different versions cased in steel and with a selection of favorite H. Moser fumé dials: Funky Blue, Cosmic Green, Burgundy, Off-White or Ice Blue.

LM101 MB&F × H. Moser

For its part in the cooperative venture, MB&F has outfitted its Legacy Machine 101 with distinctive H. Moser elements.

MB&F has retained the watch’s suspended flying balance, but has removed its own logo as well as the LM101’s white domed subdials, replacing them with an H. Moser fumé dial and three H. Moser hands showing hours, minutes power reserve.

MB&F chose four fumé dials to illustrate the watch’s cooperative nature: Red, Cosmic Green, Aqua Blue and Funky Blue. MB&F also retained the 40mm by 16mm steel case and domed sapphire crystal.

MB&F has also redesigned the LM101’s large suspended balance wheel by adding a Straumann double balance spring produced by Precision Engineering AG, the component maker that shares ownership with H. Moser. MB&F says the new spring actually improves the movement’s precision and isochronism while also reducing friction.

And there’s more ‘Mosering’ visible on this new LM101 MB&F × H. Moser. Rather than using a Kari Voutilainen finish, MB&F has supplied a contemporary NAC treatment to the movement, which is visible from the clear sapphire caseback.

Moser CEO Edouard Meylan and MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser compare their new creations to a “duet recital in the form of an exceptional concerto for devotees of fine watchmaking.”

Clearly, the two independent watchmakers are making beautiful music together. 

The two models are available in several versions, each issued in a fifteen-piece limited series. Prices: $79,000  (Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H. Moser × MB&F) and $52,000 (LM101 MB&F × H. Moser).

 

 

 

Fresh from releasing two Chronomaster Revival pieces in recent months, Zenith this week returns to its forward-focused Defy collection with the Defy 21 Ultraviolet, a 44mm dual-escapement chronograph with eye-catching purple bridges, rotor and strap.

For this model, the color will now vie for attention with the Defy 21’s mesmerizing one-rotation-per-second central chronograph hand.

When activated, sending the seconds hand spinning around the dial, the regally hued watch times events using Zenith’s 1/100th-of-a-second El Primero 21 chronograph caliber, beating at an ultra-high 50Hz (360,000 vph).

The watch of course continues to retain the time of day, thanks to its three-hand indicators, powered by the more traditional El Primero caliber, with the watch’s second escapement vibrating at 36,000 vph.

Zenith has colored the bridges violet on watch’s El Primero 9004 automatic movement.

Mostly open dial

As with most of the earlier Defy El Primero 21 models, the dial here is mostly open, clearing a direct view to many of the violet-colored, angular-cut bridges within. But unlike most of the earlier, heavily skeletonized designs, the new Defy 21 Ultraviolet’s solid chronograph subdials most directly recall the Defy 21 El Primero 21 Carl Cox released earlier this year.

Echoing that model’s specialized subdial designs, this new example features three grey chronograph registers and a grey flange ring. Other than the Carl Cox edition, the only similar example with solid chronograph registers was seen last year within the Defy 21 El Primero 50th Anniversary edition and was only available as part of a box set of three watches.

Sandblasted case

All the purple-treated bridges inside this Defy 21 Ultraviolet stand out particularly well against the matte sandblasted grey titanium case.

Equally compelling – at least to consumers who appreciate the novelty of a violet-tinted watch – is the woven textile-like purple insert of the watch’s accompanying black rubber strap.

I’ve always appreciated how difficult it can be for historically rich Swiss watch companies to embrace more modern  design, and with this newest watch Zenith presents an eye-catching, contemporary variation for its already impressive Defy 21 technology.  While the new Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet is primarily an exercise in color and finishing, the choice of color here is not for the meek, and it makes the result particularly successful. Price: $13,100.

Specifications: Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet (Reference: 97.9001.9004/80.R922)

Key points: Unique violet 1/100th of a second chronograph movement with seconds hand rotation once per second. One escapement for the watch (36,000 Vph – 5 Hz) and one escapement for the chronograph (360,000 Vph – 50 Hz). Linear power reserve indicator. TIME LAB Chronometer certified.

Movement: El Primero 9004 automatic with ultraviolet finishings, with 50-hours of power reserve.

Functions: 1/100th of a second chronograph functions. Chronograph power-reserve indication at 12 o’clock. Hours and minutes in the center. Small seconds at 9 o’clock, Central chronograph hand, 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, 60-second counter at 6 o’clock

Case: 44mm micro-blasted titanium with 100 meters water resistance,

Dial: Special open dial with grey closed chronograph registers, rhodium-plated, faceted markers coated with SuperLumiNova. Hands are rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova

Bracelet: Violet fabric-effect strap with micro-blasted titanium double folding clasp

Price: $13,100.

Frederique Constant’s most recent Vintage Rally Healey limited edition was seen two years ago, so this week’s announcement of two new editions of the ode to classic Healey car races has been warmly welcomed among the racing fans.

Begun in 2004 after a partnership between the Frederique Constant Manufacture and the Austin-Healey car brand, the once-annual watch debuts were a source of kinship among not only rally fans but for enthusiasts of all manner of retro-themed industrial designs. 

No chrono

While this year Frederique Constant returns with new Vintage Rally Healey watches, the Geneva-based watchmaker diverts from tradition with two models sporting time and date only. Previous models included at least one chronograph.

Declaring a focus on “urban design,” whatever that is, Frederique Constant in 2020 debuts two automatic Vintage Rally Healey models. Each 40mm watch is issued as a limited edition of 2,888; one is cased in rose-gold plated steel and the second is all steel.

The primary differences between the two models lie in dial colors and case and strap finish.

The rose gold model features a silver-colored dial with a brown seconds flange and applied rose-gold-plated indexes.

The steel-cased edition is a bit sportier, with a true British Racing Green dial framed in a silvery seconds flange and set with applied silver-colored indexes. Both watches are deftly set with luminous material on hands and markers.

British Racing Green has long been associated with the vintage Austin Healey and was last used by Frederique Constant on a chronograph Vintage Rally Healey offering in 2018.

Both watches are fit with a calfskin strap that has been perforated to enhance air circulation, a feature of many racing watch straps during the early decades of the last century. The strap on the rose-gold-plated model is a bit darker than the strap on the steel edition. 

Each watch is powered by a Sellita-based automatic FC-303 caliber with a date window at 3 o’clock and a power reserve of 38 hours.

On each caseback you’ll find an engraving of a Healey 100S NOJ393, the same car Frederique Constant includes in miniature replica form with each watch. Price: $1,895 (both models).

Specifications: Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Automatic

Reference: FC-303HVBR5B4 (rose-gold-plated, limited to 2,888 pieces)

Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date

Movement: FC-303 caliber (Sellita-based), automatic, 26 jewels, 38-hour power reserve, 28’800 alt/h

Case: 40mm rose-gold-plated polished stainless steel, 2-part, convex sapphire crystal, water-resistant to 50 meters

Dial: Silver color with brown ring, applied rose-gold-plated indexes with white luminous material, date window at 3 o’clock, hand-polished rose-gold-plated hours and minutes hands with luminous and pearl black seconds hand

Strap: Dark brown calf leather

 

Reference: FC-303HGRS5B6 (steel, limited to 2,888 pieces)

Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date

Movement: Automatic FC-303 caliber (Sellita-based), 38-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph

Case: 40mm polished stainless steel, 2-part, convex sapphire crystal, water-resistant up 50 meters

Dial: British Racing Green with silver color ring, applied silver color indexes with white luminous material, date window at 3 o’clock, hand-polished silver color hours and minutes hands with luminous and silver color seconds hand.

Strap: Light brown calf leather

Story and Photos by Steve Lundin

Travelling through Berlin’s fractured, graffitied and tattooed streets, it’s understandable that Nomos founder Roland Schwertner would have been drawn to the balance, symmetry and inherent calm of the Bauhaus style. It represented an escape from the chaotic environment that was Berlin from before the war to the fall of the wall– and to this day.

The Berlin Wall

The net result of the confluence of Schwertner’s entrepreneurial spirit and a singular moment in history resulted in the formation of one of the most aesthetically pure and culturally reflective watch brands to emerge from Germany.

Uwe Ahrendt, Nomos Glashütte CEO

Schwertner, schooled in technology and photography, found himself, along with millions of other Germans, in a whirling vortex of opportunity with the opening of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, signaling the beginning of reunification of West and East Germany under the chant, “Tor auf!”

By the time reunification became official, on October 3, 1990, Schwertner had already made his move to establish a new German watch brand in GlashütteSaxony, where the German watchmaking industry began.

Schwertner wanted to build clean watches, something new and not gaudy, like many of the 1980s watches, with a reference to draftsmanship. He and designer Susanne Günther went through catalogues of watches from Glashütte and found one that was made in 1920s, that was not ornate like most watches of that time,” says Thomas Höhnel, product designer for Nomos Glashütte, and the creative driver behind , the Ahoi, the breakout water resistant sports model that received the Good Design, iF and Goldene Unruh awards. “This exception watch he found was simple and provided inspiration for the first watch.”

Thomas Höhnel, product designer for Nomos Glashütte

Höhnel works at Berlinerblau, the Nomos design studio, located in Berlin in what would be considered the urban part of any city in the world. The Hipster meets Goth meets Businessman meets Mad Max forms the interwoven Kevlar of the human experience that mesh together and drive the pulse of the busy streets surrounding the studio.

Through a courtyard that could have easily been a darkened spy drop during the Cold War, up an industrial steel grey elevator and through imposing doors lies the Nomos cognitive center, the head, populated by a crew of engineers, designers and marketers who feed their ideas to the production facilities in Glashütte, the thundering hands of the company.

“The creative part of the company comes from Berlin, there’s a reason why it’s there,” observes Uwe Ahrendt, CEO of Nomos Glashütte. “The spirit of the place is important. Glashütte is a town of watchmakers, it’s historical, but the design sensibility has to come from Berlin.”

“Berlin experienced chaos and then came together again,” adds Höhnel. “It’s evident everywhere and has helped it to becomes a creative hub.”  Höhnel conducted a thorough history of the company and its products from one of airy, white conference rooms at the Berlin studio.

Inside the Berlin Studio.

Berlinerblau itself is a reflection of the clean symmetry of the company’s design aesthetic, from the Eames furniture to the neat placement of nuts and chocolates thoughtfully positioned on the conference tables. It’s a highly ordered and logical environment, a far cry from the tumult in the streets below.

It started with Tangente

Among the mood boards and many company artifacts dotting Berlinerblau is a group of hand drawn numeric fonts on paper that were utilized in the design of the first family of products, the Orion, Ludwig, Tetra and Tangente, released in 1991. The elegant, elongated font is ascribed to “Suzi,” scrawled on the bottom of the art, however that actual name is lost in history. To everyone working at Nomos today, it’s simply called “the font.”

The original Nomos font, signed by ‘Suzi.”

The Tangente proved the star of the original lineup and is still the number one best-selling model, according to Florian M. Langenbucher, a multilingual watch industry professional and true gentleman who conducted our tour through Nomos’ many facilities.

The Nomos Tangente Update in dark platinum with Neomatik date caliber (DUW 6101).

The Tangente, held in mythic regard by the company, is the most emblematic watch of the entire 150-unit product line and has received multiple industry awards over the years, including the Chrono, iF and the highly coveted international Red Dot awards. Photos of the permutations of the model are everywhere, as are exploded diagrams of its guts, citations of its awards, advertising imagery and a library of articles detailing almost every aspect of its existence. Originally offered as a 39mm manual wound unisex watch with a Swiss movement, the line has expanded to twenty-one models, powered by in-house manual and automatic movements.

Höhnel gently caresses various models of the Tangente as he offers them, with gloved hands, for review.

“Notice how the slim Tangent is raised above the wrist on its lugs,” he observes, “this makes even the smaller models seem bigger.”

Three Nomos Tangente Club Sport neomatik 42 date models, with the first Nomos bracelet, handcrafted using 145 parts.

For Nomos, the Tangente is a challenging canvas for their creative output, as variation in the theme is restrained by  Schwertner’s mandate to not violate the original elemental aspects of the dial and case.

The addition of the crown guards, found on the new Sport Neomatik 42 ($4,980), or the external date ring on the Neomatik 41 update Ruthenium ($4,100), which won the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) Challenge Prize, required months of design deliberations and hand wringing before they were green-lighted for production.

“The development process on movements and cases can take up to two years,” says Höhnel. “Every model is reflective of the sensibilities of our audience. We must know how the end user thinks, what they like in design, in architecture, in cars, how they will interact with and use the watch. Sometimes we bring in outside designers, like Mark Braun who worked on the Metro Date Power Reserve ($3,780) a fantastic model with a unique power reserve indicator, to bring a new feel to the line. We work with all kinds of materials and colors just to get to a 3D- printed version that enables our team to interact with the product. Sometimes you just have to put a project down and let it sit for awhile.”

      Outside parties involved in the process include the case makers, hand makers and strap makers, with a supply chain that stretches all the way to the United States.

And then there was Glashütte

Two hours south of Berlin, near the famous city of Dresden, lies the small town of Glashütte, population 7,000, located in a valley that is home to more than ten watchmakers and manufacturers. It is here that the Nomos production facilities turn the ideas of the Berlin studio into a tangible product.

Nomos headquarters at the former Glashütte train station.

The pioneering work of Ferdinand Adolph Lange (of A. Lange and Söhne) established the area as a source of German watches, an alternative to importing Swiss products, while leveraging the local workforce. His work served to germinate a generation of watchmakers and parts suppliers that would ultimately work with other famous brands from the region including Tutima and Muhle-Glashütte.

Wartime production of aviation watches and timing devices to support the Axis military earned the region a target designation in WWII, and Allied bombers destroyed many of the factories and railways. After the war Germany was divided and Glashütte was now located in Soviet East Germany: the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

The Soviets seized the machinery as part of war reparations and began converting production to timekeeping pieces for Soviet consumption. In 1951, pre-war era private enterprises were outlawed and all commercial assets and intellectual property were combined to form the state-controlled Glashütte Uhrenbetrieb (GUB). The fall of the wall passed control of the GUB to the newly forming German Republic, and created opportunities for the legacy companies– and entrepreneurs like Schwertner.

Forming Nomos

For a German watch company, association with the name Glashütte represents an elite status. To receive the designation “Made in Glashütte/Sa,” more than fifty percent of the watches’ value has to be created on location. Protection of this identifying mark is strictly enforced by the manufacturers in the region, who have sought legal channels in the past against transgressors who have falsely identified the origin in their products, in the same manner that champagne producers guard the use of their region’s output to products made specifically in the Champagne region of France.

By locating production in Glashütte and design in Berlin, Schwertner successfully capitalized on two of the country’s hallmark regions.

Schwertner acquired the rights to several now defunct German companies, one of which was Nomos-Uhr-Gesellschaft, Guido Müller & Co. This company was in operation between 1906-1910 and was put out of business by other Glashütte companies for misleading advertising that indicated that it was producing authentic, assembled-in-Glashütte products.

Ironically Schwertner’s Nomos would later sue watch manufacturer Mühle, in 2007, for the same violation, driving Mühle into Chapter 11 insolvency. Mühle Glashütte returned to regular production in 2008, after agreeing to ensure that their production process added at least fifty percent of the value of the watch in Glashütte.

The Glashütte Name

“America represents our most important growth area, followed by the U.K. and Asia. The strength of the Glashütte name, the power of our brand and the quality we deliver for the money will help us become top brands in those areas,” said Ahrendt, from his stunning glass- walled office located in the town’s converted train station with direct views of competitors A. Lange & Söhne and Glashütte Original.

Uwe Ahrendt’s vintage Mercedes

Ahrendt arrived in a vintage pastel blue Mercedes and is himself a reflective embodiment of the brand. He carries the Berliner sense of style on the frame of a Saxon boxer, a hybridization of the intersection of the two regions.

“Our move to in-house movements represents two things: our liberation from suppliers and a demonstration of our innovation,” adds Ahrendt.

“We produce all our own calibers, including the Alpha, our original hand-wound movement, and six others, and our award-winning automatics. They are all sleek, highly crafted movements that represent the highest standards of engineering.”

The Nomos Alpha 01 movement

The Nomos production facilities are spread across several buildings in Glashütte and house technologies and capabilities equal to most tier-one manufacturers. Nomos worked with the Technical University of Dresden and invested 12 million Euros to develop its escapement and swing system, critical core elements of any watch movement, released in 2014. This move freed Nomos from relying on external suppliers, such as the monolithic Swatch Group, for this important element.

Nomos base plates.

The spotless facilities employ hundreds of skilled personnel who are involved with all aspects of the watchmaking processes. CNC machining equipment turns out base plates, which join over over 150 smaller parts made of brass, steel and other materials that are manufactured, ground, polished and finally assembled to pump out the region’s highest volume of products.

In 2015 Nomos released its 3.2 mm height DUW (Deutsche Uhrenwerke) 3001 Neomatik caliber automatic movement, an ultra-slim creation loyal to the brand’s style aesthetic.

The Nomos DUW 3001 movement, showing balance bridge.

This movement became the seed from which the entire automatic line grew, and the basis for the highly impressive DUW 5201, found in the Tangomat GMT ($4,920) and Zurich World Time ($6,100) models. Nomos’ current in-house produced calibers include the manual-wound Alpha, found in the original Tangente, and the DUW 1001, DUW 2002, DUW 4101, DUW 4301, and DUW 4401. Automatic movements include the DUW 3001, DUW 5001, DOW 5101, DUW 5201, DUW 6101 Epsilon and Zeta.  Collectively this impressive list of movements power thirteen families of watches and 150 models.

The Nomos Metro in a 33mm rose gold case.
The sapphire caseback of the Nomos Metro rose gold 33 shows the Nomos hand-wound Alpha caliber.

Price is one of the key differentiators of the Nomos brand, and something that’s repeatedly referred to by company representatives at every level. There is no one involved with the company that isn’t aware of the high level of quality and craftsmanship being delivered.

“Unlike most companies, when we produce a limited edition model we actually offer them at a lower price, like our ‘Century of Bauhaus’ Tangente commemorative model,” says Langenbucher.

“This market ethos also carries throughout the entire brand line. Look at the Metro Rose Gold 33, for $7,200 or the Tangente Neomatik 41 with a rare Ruthenium dial for $4,100. These are incredible products for the money,” he adds.

The Club Campus Neomatik 39 with midnight blue dial.

Speaking of money, when asked why Nomos continues to remain independent in spite of numerous offers from other companies, Ahrendt has a thoughtful response.

“We produce a watch called the Lambda Rose Gold, reference 930. It’s a fine, elegant men’s gold watch and if you look carefully at the balance cock you will see the words inscribed by hand, ‘lovingly produced in Glashütte.’ We put that there because it’s fun to do so. To answer the question, we won’t sell because we, and all the families that work with us, are just having too much fun.”

Four Nomos Duo models, all with white silver-plated dial, a brown dial font and a beige-colored velour leather strap.

And where will the company be in five years?

“Sharing our vision of quality and fun in many more markets internationally,” he adds. And if the meteoric rise of Nomos over the past twenty-nine years is any indication of future growth, this company may one day become a household name like other well-known and loved international brands.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of International Watch.

 

Wempe Glashütte I/SA, the watchmaking division of German-based watch and jewelry retailer Wempe, this week adds a third watch collection to its roster with Iron Walker, a set of four steel sport-leisure watches for men and women.    

The new Wempe Iron Walker Automatic Chronograph

Named in reference to steel girders used to build skyscrapers, the new Wempe Iron Walker is the latest of many high-profile collections industry-wide featuring integrated stainless-steel cases and bracelets. Of the recent integrated steel-cased watch debuts we’ve seen, Wempe’s Iron Walker is among the most comprehensive (and affordable) with a chronograph, a diver’s watch and two dressy unisex models. All together, Wempe is launching sixteen models (including a few with quartz movements).

Wempe’s new Iron Walker Automatic Chronograph

Automatic Chronograph

At the top of the line is an ETA 7753 (Valjoux)- powered automatic chronograph offered with two dial treatments: steel blue or black-silver in a ‘reverse panda’ layout. The 42mm watch features a date, tachymeter and three totalizers in a tri-compax arrangement; all hands and markers are coated with SuperLuminova. Two protected rectangular pushbuttons control the chronograph.

As is the case with all Wempe chronographs, the caliber here is adjusted in the company’s own workshops in Glashütte so that it passes the more stringent German chronometric testing standards. These require the movement’s maximum average rate variation at only two seconds per day when mounted in the case. Price: $4,250.

Wempe Iron Walker Automatic Diver’s Watch

Automatic Diver’s Watch

Water resistant to 300 meters, the dive model in the new collection is also a certified chronometer that adds a folding safety clasp with an extension element to the Iron Walker’s signature integrated three-row stainless-steel bracelet. With the extension element, the watch’s length can be increased by as much as 17mm.

This dive model utilizes an internal bezel dive-time ring, mounted behind the sapphire crystal, to meet all DIN and ISO standards for dive watches. To satisfy all underwater visibility requirements, Wempe has marked the watch’s triangular zero mark and its hands and markers with SuperLuminova. Both crowns are screw-in for added water resistance.

The Wempe Iron Walker Automatic Diver’s Watch on the wrist.

Despite its dive-ready technical design, the Wempe Iron Walker Automatic Diver’s Watch is sleeker than most dive watches. The watch is only 11.7mm thick – a moderate size that means it will fit nicely under any sleeve.

Inside Wempe places an ETA 2892 automatic movement that it watchmakers have adjusted to meet German chronometer and ISO 3159 dive watch standards. Price: $3,450.

Automatic and Quartz Unisex 


Iron Walker Automatic Women’s Watch (36mm).

As a moderately sized (40mm) or smaller sized (36mm) three-hand dress watch, Wempe’s remaining Iron Walker option is a simpler model offered with a choice of automatic or quartz movement.

Wempe’s 40mm Iron Walker Automatic Men’s Watch, also offered with a quartz movement.

All four models are certified chronometers with central hour, minute, and seconds hands and a date, and each features raised, luminous markers.

Iron Walker Automatic Women’s Watch (36mm).
Iron Walker Automatic Women’s Watch (blue dial).

Available with a black, blue or white dial, the automatic models are powered by an ETA 2892-A2 (power reserve of 50 hours) while and ETA E64.111 powers the quartz models (constant running time 41 months).

To impress as a dress watch, Wempe has made the both the larger ‘Men’s’ size and the smaller ‘Women’s’ size with a sleek 9.75mm-thick case. Nonetheless, any of these four dress models offers the same solid three-link tapered steel bracelet that marks the entire Iron Walker collection.

Iron Walker Automatic Women’s Watch
Iron Walker Quartz Men’s Watch

Prices: $1,950 (36mm quartz), $2,650 (36mm automatic), $2,050 (40mm quartz) and $2,750 (40mm automatic).

I’ve long been impressed with high value Wempe has built into its Chronometerwerke and Zeitmeister collections. With Iron Walker, Wempe appears to again combine well-considered styling with top-level specs.

Iron Walker’s elegant look, backed by the collection-wide chronometer rating, new angular case and three-link solid steel bracelet, is a winning combination. For details see the Wempe website.  Wempe’s U.S. store is located at 700 Fifth Avenue in New York City.

As Zenith prepared for last year’s fiftieth anniversary celebration of El Primero, its premier automatic chronograph, the Le Locle watchmaker sifted again through the cache of tools and prototypes slated for destruction in 1975, but preserved at the time by the forward-thinking Charles Vermot.

There, amid piles of boxes, Zenith found another version of its now well-known Chronomaster tri-color dial. But instead of the grey, black and blue subdials, the discovered prototype featured three different shades of blue.

And while Zenith says it has no records of these blue tri-color dials, the watchmaker has determined that they were part of the original prototype dials for the El Primero A386 in 1969 featuring a 38mm steel case.

New and Blue

This past week Zenith debuted the Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition, a production model Chronomaster cased in the El Primero A386 steel case and using the all-blue-subdial design on its dial. Of course, inside Zenith is placing its El Primero high-frequency automatic chronograph with column wheel.

Echoing earlier Revival models, Zenith is reproducing the recently discovered dial within the 38mm case (with pump-style pushers) paying close attention to the blueprints of the original. These Revival models will be cased in steel rather than in gold however, making them more affordable than the A386 Revival editions from 2019. 

Zenith adds that this release will be the final Revival model to feature the A386 case style and size.

The watchmaker will make the new Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition available for six months only on its pending e-commerce site (slated to open June 30) and then only at its Le Locle manufacturing facility after it reopens to the public for visits.

Zenith is producing special packaging for the watch. It will look like a book, and on its cover you’ll see a blueprint of the Zenith manufacture. Inside, Zenith adds a comic book about Charles Vermot. Price: $8,700

Specifications: Zenith Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition

(Reference: 03.Z386.400/60.C843)

Movement: Zenith El Primero 400 Automatic, 36,000 vph frequency, 50-hour power reserve.

Dial: White-lacquered dial with three shades of blue counters. Hours and minutes in the center, small seconds at nine o’clock. Chronograph: central chronograph hand, 12-hour counter at six o’clock, 30-minute counter at three o’clock. Tachymetric scale. Date indication at 4:30. Rhodium-plated hour markers, faceted and coated with SuperLuminova. Hands are white, faceted and coated with Super Luminova.

Case: 38mm steel

Bracelet & buckle: Blue alligator leather strap with protective rubber lining. Stainless steel pin buckle.

 

By Gary Girdvainis

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?

Tim Stracke, CEO of Chrono24

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.

The Chrono24 Watch Scanner allows the user to simply scan any watch and automatically identify it.

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.

 

How do you gather the data for estimated watch values in the Chrono24 Watch Collection?

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.

Chrono24 keeps tabs on global watch market. Here are just a few results of last year’s pre-quarantine figures.

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.

At Watches & Wonders 2020 Baume & Mercier added four Clifton watches with the impressive Baumatic automatic movement, which boasts a five-day power reserve, high efficiency escapement and silicon hairspring. These new models include watches that boast a perpetual calendar, a day-date model with moonphase, a date model with moonphase and a beautiful 39mm COSC-certified date and time-only watch.

And while all deliver the Baumatic movement within a nicely polished and satin-finished steel or rose gold case, we were particularly taken with the high value offered by the Clifton Baumatic Day/Date Moonphase, a 42mm watch that effortlessly combines all the indicators I need in any non-chronograph watch onto a particularly eye-catching gradient lacquered grey dial.

The Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic Day/Date Moonphase, in pink gold case.

The days at the top of the dial are clearly marked with minimal fuss while the accompanying date makes perfect sense just across the dial. With an easy symmetry, the day and the date are each indicated by a hand of the same shape and color.

The new Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic Day-Date Moonphase, steel case.
On the dial Baume & Mercier fits a grey sapphire wave-shaped aperture that allows the moon to shine.

Likewise the trapezoid-shaped hour markers perfectly echo the long, alpha-type hands, and both of these indicators are colored to match your choice of pink gold or steel case.

A secondary dial highlight, after the perfectly gradient dial work, is the dual-moonphase display that Baume & Mercier touches up with a somewhat hidden persuader: a grey sapphire wave-shaped aperture that allows the moon to shine according to schedule as the disc rotates.

This grey-tinted sapphire is a defining feature on both the pink gold and steel models, blending seamlessly with the gradation of the dial.

These dial details speak volumes about how Baume & Mercier continues to design thoughtfully considered classic dress watches at a level higher than their selling price might indicate. 

Long Power Reserve

Since Baume & Mercier knows that keeping all these indicators on time means keeping the mainspring wound and ticking, the Geneva manufacture supplies the watch (and the entire series of watches) with the aforementioned Baumatic movement built with a helpful five-day power reserve.

And to add another layer of luxury to this affordably priced watch (in steel, it is priced at $4,400), Baume & Mercier nicely decorates the in-house movement with a gilded, open-worked oscillating weight finished with Côtes 
de Genève and snailing. (Baume & Mercier indicates that the back can also be engraved by special order.)

The entire package, particularly in its steel case, emphasizes Baume & Mercier’s long-time strength as a legacy brand that maintains a high-value collection of Swiss- manufactured watches. Prices: $12,200 (pink gold case) and $4,400 (steel case). Both watches are slated to be delivered in October.       

    

Specifications:

Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic Day-Date Moonphase (pink gold)

REFERENCE: M0A10547

Movement: In-house self-winding Baumatic BM14 1975 AC2. Bridge with circular-grained décor, sandblasted plate with snailed décor, gilt open-worked oscillating weight adorned with “Côtes 
de Genève” and snailed decors, Baume & Mercier engravings, power reserve of 5 days (120 hours), Frequency of 28,800 vph.

Case: 42mm by 12.95 polished and satin-finished pink gold 
with antiglare and scratch-resistant domed sapphire crystal, polished 18-karat pink gold crown, open caseback secured with 4 screws

Dial: H/M/S, date-day and moonphase indication. Gradient grey lacquered, gilt riveted trapezoid-shaped indexes, slightly elongated gilt ‘alpha’ hands, grey transparent sapphire aperture at 6 o’clock, polished gilt moon-phase disc with blue lacquered finish

Strap: Interchangeable blue alligator with tone-on-tone stitching on the top and burgundy color on the bottom and bridle points at the buckle; system of curved bars with lug that allows strap change without tools. Polished and satin-finished 18-karat pink gold pin buckle.

Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic Day-Date Moonphase (steel)

REFERENCE :M0A10548

Movement: In-house self-winding Baumatic BM14 1975 AC2. Bridge with circular- grained décor, sandblasted plate with snailed décor, gilt open-worked oscillating weight adorned with “Côtes 
de Genève” and snailed decors, Baume & Mercier engravings, power reserve of 5 days (120 hours), Frequency of 28,800 vph.

Case: 42mm by 13.2mm polished and satin-finished stainless steel, antiglare scratch-resistant domed sapphire crystal, open caseback secured with 4 screws

Dial: H/M/S, day-date, moon-phase indications. Dial is gradient grey lacquered, rhodium-plated riveted trapezoid-shaped slightly elongated indexes, rhodium-plated ‘alpha’ hands, grey transparent sapphire aperture at 6 o’clock, polished rhodium-plated moon-phase disc with blue lacquered finish

Strap: Interchangeable blue alligator with tone-on-tone stitching on the top and burgundy color on the bottom and bridle points at the buckle; system of curved bars with lug that allows strap change without tools; triple folding buckle with security push-pieces

 

By Steve Lundin, Watch Culture Editor

There is a crucial moment that every watch collector faces in those fast seconds before a multi-day excursion: picking the watches to wear. My personal go-to for changing time zones includes a GMT for tracking home time and a rugged dive watch for everyday wear. Fate, in the form of a press release from Rado, showed up two days before I was scheduled to leave for Tamarindo, Costa Rica, with an offer to review the new Captain Cook dive watch.

I told their very responsive rep if he could get me the watch before I left, it would become my travelling companion on the trip for a hard-core review. Literally hours before departure I was unboxing their bronze beauty and tossing it in the carry-on bag. Welcome to the manifest, Captain.

The Rado with my usual traveling companions.

The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and its counterpart the Rolex Submariner have collectively set the standards by which all other dive watches should be measured. Like the Eames chair, they sport all the elements, on functional and aesthetic levels, that serve to define the breed. Virtually every other dive watch developed in the past seventy years has drawn from the feature sets of these two watches.         

                                  Rado side-by-side with the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms.

Rado’s reissue of its original 1960’s Captain Cook diver teases elements of these classics, with updates that tastefully reflect popular contemporary treatments and materials.

Let’s get into it…

The Rado delivers a rich wrist statement, utilizing the green and gold of the old Marshall Field’s logo (not John Deere, thank you), and is a striking take on the traditional dive treatment.

The Captain’s green dial is surrounded by a matching ceramic bezel and lives in a bronze case with a titanium back. While I would have preferred a matching color scheme on the bezel indices, the silver is subtle enough to work with the theme.

Its dial is called “green sunray” in the press materials and is slightly domed, giving the high gloss face a three-dimensional glean reminiscent of a highly polished fender on a British racing green Jaguar XK-120. Par for the vintage theme, the hands and markers are a cream-colored Super LumiNova.

The dial also sports a swiveling gold anchor at 12 o’clock, a neat, very, very subtle touch that gives users and excuse to twirl the watch around and wonder “why is my anchor spinning? What does it mean?” Tres 60’s!

The Movement

The Captain is waterproof to 1,000 feet and powered by an automatic ETA C07, 25-jewel, three- hand movement with a date at 3 o’clock and up to eighty hours power reserve. This is the ‘Powermatic 80’ movement with silicon balance spring, found in many models of Tissot, Certina and Mido watches.

The movement is a no-nonsense performer, offering an impressive power reserve and anti-magnetic properties through the use of a silicon escapement. For those interested in a deep dive into this movement, check out this article in Monochrome and complete technical specifications, including use in other watches, here on Watchbase.

The Bronze Case

The payoff for owners of the Good Captain is found in the bronze case, with a material that has been showing up in increased usage over the years. Unlike stainless steel or gold, that simply scratch and get dirty, bronze develops a unique patina as it’s worn.

The result of the oxidation of the copper component of the bronze can appear as brown, black, red, blue or green. Costa Rica provided the perfect environment to see if the Captain could live up to its name as a sea going adventurer and emerge as a newly colored denizen of the not so deep seas.

Wearing experience

The Captain looks and feels solid. The bezel has a nice loud ratchet sound that indicates things are properly aligned. It’s a medium-weight timepiece with a nicely unobtrusive 12.5mm x 42mm case.

While I prefer a horned watch crown and more aggressive ridges on the bezel, the coin-edged style has a more subdued look and feel than, say, the Rado Hyperchrome Captain Cook 2017, with its Fifty Fathoms-esque treatment.

The watch is incredibly easy to read and maintains a night’s worth of luminescence. I’m a personal fan the Captain’s titanium case back because of weight savings and hypoallergenic properties. 

The sample I received had a single-piece leather band, and would be better served with a lined Horween, but that’s strictly a personal preference. If anyone was actually going to use this as a dive watch (probably one tenth of one percent of the buyers), the strap and shallow ridges of the bezel would prove a problem underwater. However, for the moisture-averse who will more than likely purchase this product, that won’t be an issue.

Getting it wet                                                                     Rado in the pool.   

Given the Rado’s pedigree as a dive watch, ala the original 60s iteration, I intended to get the Captain wet and dirty, covered with sunscreen and oil, and then hang it out in the sun to dry. To this end the watch accompanied me in the surf, by the pool, up and down daily ten-mile walks through dusty hills and was worn while sweating and spilling margaritas and tequila shots.

Any dive watch that remains neat and clean and dry should be forcibly taken from its owner and that misguided individual barred from ever owning another watch with a water-resistant rating over one meter. But I digress.

The watch swum through the week of abuse with no undue scratching, scarring or unwanted mutating. The bronze case picked up a dull finish with some blackish highlights, answering the question of how it would tarnish. While the user’s manual states that the watch can be returned to Rado for cleaning (really), I found using metal polish worked just fine – see the before and after photos with minimal elbow grease.

Rado case before polishing.
And after polishing.

Would I buy this watch?

Absolutely – and for many several reasons. It’s great looking, in a non-blingy way, and punches well above its class for the price. Unlike stainless or gold watches, it feels organic.

The bronze changes and reflects the activity level of the user. It features a whopping four anchor logos between the case and strap, and three starfish on the case back (It would have been nice to see a mermaid as well), but who knows what the future may hold! It has a domed crystal and a groovy domed dial – a double dose of domage – awesome! And, finally, it holds its value: check out the used prices on eBay against the street price on this watch (as a comparison look at Romain Jerome as well – a cringe-worthy value dropper!).  

As a daily wear in dry conditions, the watch as configured with a leather strap will serve most users well. For those who actually wear dive watches for diving I’d suggest investing in a metal bracelet model. The Captain was a great travelling companion, and kudos to Rado for delivering exceptional quality at a realistic price point. Price: $2,600

   

Even though the Monaco Grand Prix, originally scheduled for last weekend, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TAG Heuer is still presenting a special-edition timepiece in tribute to the event and to the Monaco collection.

The new TAG Heuer Monaco Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Limited Edition features the race’s red-and-white color, but now includes a small silver classic car logo at the 1 o’clock position in honor of the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique race.

Additional race-imagery can be found on the caseback where TAG Heuer has printed the race’s logo on the inside of the transparent sapphire glass.

Inside, and visible through that caseback, TAG Heuer fits its in-house Caliber Heuer 02 chronograph movement, featuring a column wheel and a vertical clutch. The movement also offers an unusually long 80-hour power reserve. The new watch is to be made in a limited edition of 1,000, each of which is engraved with its unique number and the words “One of 1000”.

As is often the case with its limited editions, TAG Heuer is placing the new watch in its a themed package, which in this case is a red watch box decorated with a checkered racing flag. The new watch is available for pre-orders via www.tagheuer.com and in select TAG Heuer boutiques before its launch on July 27, 2020.

A scene from an earlier running of the Monaco Grand Prix Historiques, which was canceled this year due to COVID-19 concerns.

TAG Heuer is the Official Sponsor and Timekeeper of the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique as well as the Official Watch of the Monaco Grand Prix and the Official Watch Partner of the Monaco Top Cars Collection museum.

Price: CHF 6,700 (or approximately $6,885)

Specifications: TAG Heuer Monaco Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Limited Edition

(Reference CBL2114.FC6486, limited to 1,000 watches)

MOVEMENT: TAG Heuer Automatic Caliber Heuer 02 Manufacture automatic chronograph, 33 jewels, balance oscillating at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz), 80-hour power reserve

FUNCTIONS: Chronograph with minutes and hours, permanent second indicator; date, hours, minutes; central chronograph seconds hand.

CASE: 39mm fine-brushed and polished steel, fixed bezel, sapphire crystal with Grand Prix de Monaco Historique logo printing on the back, polished stainless-steel crown at 3 o’clock and push buttons at 2 and 4 o’clock, water-resistant to 100 meters, stainless-steel case back with limited-edition number engraving.

DIAL: Rhodium-plated red sunray brushed dial, rhodium-plated indexes and hour and minute hands with white SuperLuminova, red lacquered central hand, Grand Prix de Monaco Historique logo at 1 o’clock on the dial.

STRAP: Black calfskin leather strap, folding clasp in polished stainless steel