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On The Wrist

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As G-Shock’s first watch outfitted with a heart-rate monitor, the new GBDH1000 reaches out to a host of fitness buffs requiring instant cardio data during their workout routines. Runners and athletes can access the new optical sensor and team them with the watch’s GPS and other sensors to measure a full range of health-focused metrics.

The GBDH1000, which announces G-Shock’s new Move collection of sports watches, includes sensors to measure acceleration (step counter), magnetic direction (compass), pressure (altimeter/barometer) and temperature (thermometer). Optical sensors on the back of the watch (below) flash an LED light to let you know they are detecting the blood flow under the skin in order to report your heart rate on the dial.

The watch’s five sensors help the wearer stay in touch with his or her activity in real time. G-Shock’s well-known GPS technology also allows the wearer to access location information as desired, which can then be combined with the stopwatch to keep track of information such as distance, speed, pace, and much more.

Solar power plus

Like many health and heart monitoring wrist devices, the watch can be powered-up via a USB charger wire (included), but unlike most other devices this watch will extend its battery life with exposure to any light source. In fact, the basic time mode, which also includes step count measurement and notification functions, can be powered indefinitely with solar charging alone.

But G-Shock typically builds more than ‘basic’ into its fitness watches, which the new Move model demonstrates quite effectively. During the weeks iW tested the watch, we saw very few dips in power during a typical daylight wearing. Officially, with about 2.5 hours of USB charging, the training features can be used continuously for up to fourteen hours.

Easy-to-read

The watch is large on the wrist—no surprises there. The case’s 63mm by 55mm size allows for easy LCD dial viewing while on the run or otherwise active. Large, slip-resistant pushers and a dominant Run button at 9 o’clock allow for simple operation of the watch’s myriad optional functions. A curved resin back enhances the efficiency of the heart sensor positioned there.

With a smartphone link to the G-Shock Move app, the GBDH1000 allows a secondary automatic time adjustment, easy watch setting with world time in more than 300 cities, alarm setting, training plan, training function setting, training log data management, notification and the highly useful phone finder.

And finally, the new urethane strap is generally quite comfortable. But more than that, the strap’s expanded number of keeper slots means you’ll always find just the right fit.

For active G-Shock fans, this debut Move model is an impressive and healthy combination of fit and (multiple) function. Price: $399.

 

Specifications: G-Shock GBDH1000 “Move”

Case: 63mm ×55mm × 20.4mm resin and steel, weight is 101g, shock resistant, mineral glass crystal, 200-meter water resistance

Features: Smartphone link functions: automatic time adjustment, easy watch setting (world time for over 300 cities, alarm setting), training plan, training function setting, training log data management, notification, phone finder, LED backlight (Super illuminator), GPS-controlled, solar-powered, Heart rate monitor, digital compass, barometer, thermometer, altimeter, step tracker, stopwatch, multi timer, daily alarm, vibration alarm. Power saving feature (goes dark after a period of inactivity).

We know Jeff Stein as a leading collector of vintage Heuer chronographs, who occasionally dabbles in the newer TAG Heuer models.  It caught our eye when, twelve hours after he received his Fragment Design Heuer 02 chronograph in July, Jeff posted on Instagram that this watch was his “favorite TAG Heuer chronograph, ever . . . and even though you won’t see the name on the watch, the best looking Autavia-inspired chronograph, ever.” 

Below,  Jeff tells us more about his infatuation with this very interesting watch.

The new TAG Heuer Fragment Design Heuer 02 chronograph.

Can you give us the “elevator version” of the Fragment Design Heuer 02 chronograph?

The watch was designed by Hiroshi Fujiwara, a god in the world of streetwear and the creator of Fragment Design. Fujiwara has designed all sorts of interesting things such as guitars for Eric Clapton, sneakers for Nike and Converse, and headphones for Beats. In the watch world, he has designed watches for Rolex and Zenith, as well as a Carrera for TAG Heuer, in November 2018. 

On the Heuer 02 chronograph, Fujiwara incorporated the design language of a 1970s Heuer Autavia into a TAG Heuer Formula 1 chronograph case, with the watch powered by the Heuer 02 movement. 

Why has the Fragment Design Formula 1 chronograph been controversial among the vintage Heuer enthusiasts?

Much of the controversy probably arises from the fact that the watch was inspired by the 1970s Autavias, but resides in the modern case that TAG Heuer uses for its Formula 1 chronographs.  There is no model name on the dial, neither “Autavia” nor “Formula 1,” so some traditionalists might see the watch as something of a Franken, which may be lacking the pure pedigree of either model.

Hiroshi Fujiwara

So how do you come to terms with these issues? 

For years, I have listened to the debates about what is and is not properly identified as an Autavia, a Carrera or a Formula 1.  Some traditionalists say that an Autavia has to be a chronograph, rather than a three-handed watch, or that a Carrera cannot have an outer bezel, because these were the rules when the models were launched in the 1960s. 

I have pretty well gotten over these hard-and-fast rules.  If Jack Heuer had felt constrained by such rules in the 1960s, the Autavia would have never made it from a dashboard timer to a chronograph and we might never have seen Heuer’s automatic chronographs.  Right now, I am more impressed with a brand making great looking, high quality watches and less concerned about the model name on the dial. 

Perhaps there is no requirement for watch models to be binary, so that the brands can incorporate elements of one model into another one.  We saw this recently when TAG Heuer incorporated the colors and style of the 1970s Montreal chronograph into a 1960s-based Carrera, and people liked the result.

The Successor – The last version of the Autavia produced by Heuer in the mid-1980s (Reference 11063, at left) and the Fragment Design Heuer 02 Limited Edition, introduced by TAG Heuer in June 2020.

As a physical object, what are your favorite elements of the Fragment Formula 1 chronograph?

I am a big fan of minimalist design, in general, and like the matte black and charcoal gray tones.  This is a great look in cars and Fujiwara has followed a similar approach with the new Formula 1, using a matte black dial. 

The hands and bezel are taken directly from the 1970s Autavias, but Fujiwara has deleted the elements that made those watches busier — the contrasting white registers, the concentric ridges in the registers and the frame around the date window. 

This is like deleting the chrome on a blacked-out car, and it makes the expanses of black more dramatic.  The red and white accents on the dial are the final touches that give the watch its pop. For several years, the Formula 1 chronographs have been housed in a case with geometry that is very close to the c-shape cases of the 1970s Autavias, so this Autavia color scheme from the 1970s looks right in the Formula 1 case.

And what are the intangibles that you enjoy with the new Fragment Design Formula 1 chronograph?

The Autavias of the 1960s and 1970s were the chronographs worn by the top drivers in motorsports.  We see them on the wrists of Mario Andretti, Jo Siffert, Graham Hill, Derek Bell and many other racers.  Beyond the top professionals, Autavias were popular among the amateurs and club racers, particularly with the Viceroy promotion, which offered a $200 Autavia for $88 with proof of purchase of ten packs of Viceroy cigarettes.  

The tachymeter bezel is the symbol of a racing watch, whether on the Autavia, or the Rolex Daytona or the Omega Speedmaster.  TAG Heuer is positioning the Formula 1 collection as the brand’s racing watches, and there is no better flagship for that collection than a watch that incorporates the design elements of the Autavia, the ultimate racing watch of the 1960s and 1970s.

People in the watch world may think of the Formula 1 as TAG Heuer’s “entry level” model.  How do you reconcile that with the $6,150 price tag on this model?

Essentially, this watch, and a couple of other Formula 1 models recently released by TAG Heuer, serve as a clear statement that the TAG Heuer collections will no longer follow a price hierarchy.  There is no entry-level collection or high-end collection.  Instead, the collections are defined by their aesthetics and purposes. 

The Formula 1 is TAG Heuer’s racing watch and the Autavia will be positioned as the watch for adventure.  To me, this is a much more sensible way to position the collections than just based on their price ranges.  TAG Heuer now offers its in-house Heuer 02 movement in four of its six collections, confirming that no model is relegated to “entry-level” status. 

How do you compare the new Fragment Formula 1 with the other Autavias that have been re-issued by TAG Heuer?

With the arrival of this Fragment Design chronograph, there are basically three series of Autavia re-issues.

The TAG Heuer Fragment Design Heuer 02 Limited Edition flanked by the first of the automatic Autavias, Reference 1163 (circa 1970), and the last one produced by Heuer, Reference 11063 (circa 1983).

In 2003, TAG Heuer offered two versions of a cushion-cased Autavia, one with the black / orange colors and the other with the white / black / blue Siffert colors. 

In 2017, TAG Heuer offered a new Autavia, modeled after the Rindt model from the late 1960s.  After the initial model with the black dial and white registers, we have seen several limited editions, incorporating other color schemes into this same case. 

I like these watches, but the case lacks the real connection to either the manual wind models of the 1960s or the automatic models of the 1970s. 

Every collector will have their own favorite, but to my eye, the Fragment Formula 1 captures the spirit of the 1970s Autavias, with the color scheme, the hands and bezel, and the case geometry. There’s no “Autavia” on the dial, but there’s no doubt about the origins of this watch.

How is the watch on your wrist?

It’s a big watch at 44 millimeters, and I have a small wrist, but it’s a great fit.  The more important measurement might be the thickness, and TAG Heuer has shaved the case to 14.4 millimeters.  That’s not exactly thin, but it makes the 44 millimeter case very wearable.  The bracelet is entirely new, and is relatively thin with a butterfly clasp, which also makes the watch wear smaller.

TAG Heuer has created a new style bracelet for the Fragment Formula 1 chronograph. It’s a five-row stainless steel bracelet, with a folding butterfly clasp.

Why does this watch have the TAG Heuer logo on the dial rather than the Heuer shield?

I believe that TAG Heuer is reserving the “Heuer” shield for re-issues of the heritage models, like the Carrera 160 Years models that we saw earlier in the year.  This Formula 1 is not a re-issue of a heritage model, but a new creation for TAG Heuer.  So it gets the TAG Heuer shield rather than the Heuer shield.What are your personal preferences, as far as the re-issues that so many brands seem to be offering in the year 2020?

In recent years, there has probably been more hand-to-hand combat in the vintage community on the subject of re-issues, re-editions, homages, tributes and the like than on any other single topic.  We see everything from one-to-one recreations of some of the classics, like Breitling and Omega have done with great success, to watches that carry the name, but bear no resemblance to the original models. 

I really like the approach of the two Fragment Design models: take an iconic model, boil it down to find the essence of the design, then punch up the elements that provide the style and feel of the original period. 

Echoing the TAG Heuer Fragment Carrera, Fujiwara also places thunderbolts at the center of the case back and the word “Fragment” between 4 and 5 o’clock.

On the Fragment Carrera, we see the power of the oversized registers; on the Fragment Formula 1, we see the dramatic black paint and the red accents, with the distinctive hands and bezel.  These elements defined the racers chronograph in 1970 and, fifty years later they continue to capture the excitement of racing.  To me, capturing this timelessness is the ultimate success of a re-edition.

Other than the Fragment Design models, which are your favorite of TAG Heuer’s heritage-inspired models?

I like the Limited Edition Skipper that was a collaboration with Hodinkee back in 2017, and the Carrera 160 Years Montreal Limited Edition from earlier this year. 

The Skipper captured the colors and spirit of one of the Heuer grails, the original Skipper from 1967, but took some liberties (for example, having a 30-minute register rather than the 15-minute count-down register). 

The Carrera Montreal took even more liberties, incorporating the colors and vibe of a wild-looking 1972 Montreal chronograph into a Carrera case. Once again, the traditionalists may frown, but if you like the look of these watches and enjoy the connection with the Heuer heritage, these are fun watches. 

If you could only have one of the Fragment models, the Carrera or the Formula 1, which would it be?

My first instinct is to dodge the question. The same way that the 1960s Carreras were different from the 1970s Autavias, the choice between the two Fragment models comes down to a matter of the mood and look that you want on a given day.

Fragment Design has developed two limited edition chronographs for TAG Heuer, the new Heuer 02, which draws from the Formula 1 and Autavia models, and the Carrera Heuer 02, from November 2018.

The quiet elegance of the Carrera is very different from the loud excitement of the 1970s Autavias.  Looking at my collection of vintage Heuers, I probably have four times as many 1970s Autavias as 1960s Carreras, so the Fragment probably gets the nod. 

If there will be a third Fragment Design chronograph for TAG Heuer, what are you hoping for?

Fujiwara has done a Carrera and an Autavia, so his third model will have to be a Monaco.  It would be fantastic to see what he would do with the extra-large canvas of the Monaco.

(Click here to read Jeff Stein’s “On the Dash” post about the TAG Heuer Fragment Design Heuer 02 Limited Edition.) 

 

A look inside a Claude Meylan skeleton watch.

By Eric Gregoire

Skeleton watches can be a polarizing topic, one that elicits strong opinions from all sides. There are those who dislike skeletons for what they consider a lack of legibility. Others prefer the simplicity that a plain dial can offer and look askance at the busyness of a dial-free watch.

The Claude Meylan 6045-W Skeleton — with companion.

Then there are other critics who dismiss a skeleton watch as a frivolous gimmick.

But there are many skeleton enthusiasts who appreciate the watches for their fun and whimsical nature, two elements that can remind us why we initially became enchanted with timepieces in the first place.

The people in this camp understand that in a world flooded with quartz movements and smartwatches, which can perform hundreds of functions better, faster and more reliably, a skeleton display is one thing that a mechanical movement can always do better.

Look inside

For true fans, these special timepieces offer a rare glimpse into the innermost workings of the magic and the science involved in what makes a watch tick. By exposing all the parts, by cutting away any extraneous piece and distilling everything down to the basics, the curtain of mystery is pulled back, revealing a timeless ballet where every component works together in harmonious balance.

When the movement is exposed, every decision regarding what to remove and what to leave behind becomes critical.

Not only do skeleton movements reveal this mesmerizing piece of performance art every time we breathe life into them by winding the mainspring, they also serve a practical role as tiny timekeeping machines.

It is the blending of these two worlds, one of art, the other of science, that effortlessly combine in a skeleton to form a beautiful and beguiling whole.

Doing it right

That’s not to say that all skeleton watches are worthy of such praise. There is no shortage of examples of the skeletonization process done poorly. When the movement is exposed, every decision regarding what to remove and what to leave behind becomes critical. Too little decoration can leave a movement looking cold, while too much can make it look gaudy.

There are also important decisions to make regarding proper handsets that create enough contrast to enhance legibility.

Clearly, it is no easy task to create a skeleton watch that is beautiful, functional and practical.

The Claude Meylan 6045, with black rehaut (inner bezel ring).

Claude Meylan

Given this era of uncertainty, it is understandable for watch manufacturers to play it safe and perhaps release another dive watch or maybe a vintage-inspired heritage model. In a landscape awash with an ever-increasing number of safe bets, Claude Meylan has opted to instead steer clear of the trends and forge its own path.

The decision to avoid each new trend as it emerges can make for a perilous journey, yet taking the unpredictable, less-traveled road ensures that Claude Meylan’s timepieces stand apart.

The Claude Meylan name itself was aptly chosen as it pays homage to the very same pioneering spirit of the original Meylan family. As a distinguished clan, members of the family have figured prominently throughout Swiss horological history, and it is not uncommon to find individuals bearing the name still occupying key positions within the watch industry today.

Historical records reveal that the Meylans were one of the first four families to bring watchmaking to the Vallée de Joux in the Jura region of Switzerland.

In the Jura

It is in the small village of L’Abbaye, nestled in that same valley within the Jura mountains, that the modern Claude Meylan – surrounded by history – has decided to chart its future.

While others are content to play it safe and tiptoe past the bone yard, Claude Meylan has not. Despite featuring a range of traditionally dialed timepieces, les squelettes have figured prominently in the lineup from the early days of the company’s inception in 1988.

The Claude Meylan 6045, with white internal bezel ring.

With a retail price of $1,450, the 6045 Skeleton represents the entry-level within the Claude Meylan stable of timepieces.

A model from Claude Meylan’s Legends collection.

Other models in the lineup include chronographs in the Legends Line, the popular tonneau-shaped Tortue Series, the truly unique Poya, which sets a small watch movement within a larger case that serve to display tableaus of fantasy dreamscapes. The innovative Fenêtre sur Temps features watches with rotating disks with a window cut out to serve as the hour hand.

Unitas inside

The 6045 Skeleton utilizes a Unitas caliber 6497, initially introduced in 1950 as a pocket watch movement. Measuring 16.5 lignes or 36.6mm, the manual-wind movement had been quietly waiting in the wings for decades until being pressed into service to power wristwatches as in recent years as fashion trends pushed case sizes ever larger.

An ETA Unitas 6497 prior to being skeletonized.

The ETA Unitas 6497 is available in a few different skeletonized options, including a modern, angular design and even with PVD coated offerings.

The type Claude Meylan selected for the 6045 Skeleton is of a more traditional design and features the familiar scroll work that has come to be associated with skeleton movements.

Case and crystal

The watch’s 42mm stainless steel case is polished on all surfaces. Although of ample size, the watch wears comfortably owing to its relatively shorter lug length.

Despite its generous proportions and short lugs, the Claude Meylan 6045 wears comfortably.

The unsigned crown is well proportioned to the case and also is of substantial size, suitable for its role on a manual-wind movement.

The steel case is topped off with a flat sapphire crystal, giving the whole package a sleek modern feel while creating an interesting counterbalance with the traditional mechanical movement.

The spade-style hands are blued and contrast nicely against the steel plates of the movement, giving the watch a high level of legibility for a skeleton.

The blued handset creates a sharp contrast to the movement.

Because this Unitas was initially created as a pocket watch movement, the sub-seconds hand is found at the nine o’clock position when fitted into a wristwatch.

Dial and back

The silvered (or white or black) rehaut carries Roman numerals and is thin enough to be unobtrusive but substantial enough to adequately perform its function. It features two different finishes, a frosted main section and a polished inner rim that carries the minute marks.

These small touches and attention to detail impart upon the watch a quality that resonates well above its asking price.

Turning the watch over and observing the backside, the eyes are treated to an even more delightful view of the movement. Ruby-red jewels are juxtaposed against blued screw heads, both of which are sprinkled generously throughout, as if the engineers were bakers putting the final glittering touches atop a cake.

The reverse view is as interesting as the front.

Good Math 

The designers at Claude Meylan continue to remind us that it is actually possible to achieve addition through subtraction. There is much for us to learn about how a watch functions simply by observing how all the components interact with one another.

But the most important thing we can learn from a skeleton has nothing to do with the science of timekeeping.

By stripping away everything down to the absolute necessities, we are left with nothing but the essential, and in doing so a skeleton reveals its greatest lesson: that the bare essentials are all we ever need.

Eric Gregoire is a watch collector and writer, who has covered a broad range of topics within the world of horology for more than twenty years. His latest book, “Eternal Springs: An Introduction to the World of Mechanical Watches,” is available for electronic download on Amazon here:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B082HFCQMJ

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

   

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  

Text and images by Ken Nichols

 The big, titanium HyperChrome Captain Cook is Rado’s recent interpretation of a dive watch with the bling and brawn for an underwater fashionista. If this Captain were a living, breathing sailor, he’d be a burly, broad-shoulder guy standing on a titanium peg-leg grinning with a polished, silver tooth.

Rado got some attention a few years ago when it reimagined the Captain Cook after its original model from the 1960s. Rado timed the vintage-like release perfectly, and it was the 37mm little brother that took the spotlight.  This watch’s namesake was the British Captain Cook, who explored the Pacific in the 1700s.

Design and Finish

Rado often goes unnoticed among Swatch Group’s other brands, but this watch refuses to get lost and is unapologetically bold. The HyperChrome Captain Cook comes in two distinct sizes. I got my hands on this large-and-in-charge 45mm model and was surprised by its slight weight of 147 grams on the metal bracelet.

The chunk of metal feels like a tool or a weapon on my wrist, but with the refined edges and smoothness of a surgical instrument. The massive lugs are brushed with a finely integrated bracelet with alternating polish. The case is predominately a titanium alloy, which highlights Rado’s niche-work with alloys and ceramic composite materials.

The 120-click ratcheting bezel is polished on its coin edge and mirrors the polished links on the center of the bracelet.

Titanium is found in more and more watches – and for good reasons. It represents a lightweight alternative to heavier stainless steel. The downside of the metal is that it tends to be easily scratched.

The Captain Cook’s case is predominately a titanium alloy, which highlights Rado’s niche-work with alloys and ceramic composite materials.

 The lugs on this case jut out like the bow of a ship and remind me of  design elements in vintage Omega Flightmasters or Seiko Bullheads. The bezel is a black, high-tech ceramic insert engraved and enclosed in a carbon-diffused steel unidirectional ring.

The lugs on this case jut out like the bow of a ship and remind me of design elements in vintage Omega Flightmasters or Seiko Bullheads.

The ring slopes toward the curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on both sides. The bezel and crystal create a bowl shape that highlights the bezel’s triangle at 12, and Arabic numerals at 15, 30 and 45-minute marks. The 120-click ratcheting bezel is polished on its coin edge and mirrors the polished links on the center of the bracelet.

I am a guy who loves steel bracelets but have never liked mixed-metal finishes. It might offer versatility in matching your attire, but I think the mixed titanium and polished steel draws more attention to the bracelet and less to the case even though the case stands nearly 14mm high.

The bezel and crystal create a bowl shape that highlights the Captain Cook’s bezel triangle at 12, and Arabic numerals at 15, 30 and 45-minute marks.

The bezel functions with some firmness, so there’s no casual bump or slight push with a finger to move it off its mark. You have to really grab it to turn and the coin-edge provides the traction. Once it’s set, however, there’s some mechanical play in it and this made me do a double-take and make sure its triangle of SuperLuminova was aimed at the right minute marker on the chapter ring.

The signed and polished grade-5 titanium screw-down crown has been given a hardening treatment.

The signed and polished grade-5 titanium screw-down crown has been given a hardening treatment to stand up to wear, but it still feels small compared to the rest of the case. Rado’s anchor on the crown is a nice visual element, but its size and placement on the case make it hard to unscrew. Sure, this screw-down feature helps give it the 200m water resistance, but it might be improved with a larger crown or better placement on the case.

 Innovation

The company launched in 1917 and the Rado name ascended in the market in the 1950s. The name means “wheel,” which seems appropriate for the many parts in the mechanical movements, but Rado’s niche has been finding innovative elements to make watches stronger and more resilient. They have a history of using innovative ceramics and carbide-based composites and watch-case coatings.

Inside all the innovative case materials is a tried and true automatic ETA movement that boasts an 80-hour power reserve.

Legibility

Form is important. Function is essential. This watch blends these two elements on the dial by providing exceptional contrast between the deep black dial and the applied indexes with white SuperLuminova. Rado floats a gold anchor rotating on a red disk at 12 o’clock above its name along with a subtle Captain Cook at 6. The date display has a black base that hides at 3 o’clock. If your watch needs a date, this is the way to show it on the dial.

The arrow hour-hand makes no mistake pointing the way and the second-hand has enough contrast in the day and luminescence at night to give you the details.

Rarity and value

The Rado brand is aimed at the “high range” market, which is Swatch Group’s second-shelf below the prestige and luxury range audience. This watch is in good company with Longines and Union Glashutte and has the legacy and support that comes with Swatch Group. It’s this stability and innovative history that has allowed Hyperchrome Captain Cook to be a unique, modern-day sport watch for a fashion-conscious diver. Price: $2,600.

Ken Nichols is a writer and photographer living in the South with his wife, three girls, vintage Airstream and humble watch collection. https://about.me/ken.nichols

 

Specifications: Rado HyperChrome Captain Cook

  • Reference number: 01.763.0501.3.015
  • Movement: 11 ½ ETA C07.611, automatic, 25 jewels, 3 hands, date at 3 o’clock, up to 80 hours power reserve
  • Case & Bezel: High-tech ceramic insert engraved and coated and inserted in a carbon diffused steel unidirectional bezel
  • Case Back: Screw-down titanium case back with 3 seahorses stamped
  • Crown: Polished grade 5 titanium screwed crown with hardening treatment
  • Crystal: curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on both sides
  • Water resistance: 20 bar (200m)
  • Dial: Blue sunbrushed, applied indexes with white Super-LumiNova® and large white moving anchor symbol with red background, white printed Captain Cook, Rado and Automatic logos
  • Hands: White SuperLuminova
  • Bracelet: satin brushed stainless steel cover with hardening treatment
  • Dimensions: 45mm wide x 54 long x 13.8mm high
  • Price: $2,600

 

 

Casio’s Edifice collection has long been the more conventional, metal-cased choice for those who enjoy the laundry list of high-tech features found on Casio’s wildly popular G-Shock watches, but prefer a thinner, polished case under their sleeve. Earlier this year Casio further endeared itself to all who even sometimes want a more traditional steel watch by releasing new full-featured Edifice bracelet models inside even slimmer cases.

The Casio Edifice EQB1000D-1A

       The Casio Edifice EQB1000D-1A is a recently released example of that Edifice focus. I’ve been wearing this watch for a few weeks, and it feels more luxurious than I expected for a brand known more for fit and function rather than eye-candy. Perhaps it’s the watch’s shiny aqua day/mode scale and matching second-time-zone hour hand.

      Most likely, that tinge of luxury is the result of its thinness. The watch is slim (just 8.9 mm thick compared to the 13.1mm of the previous models), an update Casio made despite incorporating the same multi-hand display, Bluetooth and Tough Solar functions.

The case is 8.9 mm thick, about 30 percent thinner than the previous model, which measured 13.1mm thick.

      And of course, when using the Casio Edifice app in conjunction with the watch, myriad additional features are available to wearer. Connecting via Bluetooth, the watch gets much smarter, accessing the correct time for up to 300 cities worldwide, even updating with the latest time zone and daylight saving time information.

The brushed bracelet is easy to adjust; the clasp is secure.

      Also when connected, the watch resets regularly four times a day by the smartphone to show both home time and world time correctly. You can also reset the watch manually with just a push of a button when crossing between time zones.

 Phone Finder

For the forgetful, however, there’s one feature that might prove to be the most useful: the Phone finder. Pressing a button on the watch causes your phone to sound a tone, even if it is in silent mode. This means you can quickly locate your phone if it’s reasonably close. I found that if I left my phone even fifteen feet away, the alarm would continue to sound. 

      But even without the connectivity, the watch offers more than you’d expect for what is essentially an analog model. Its dual timer enables users to view the current time plus the time in another time zone simultaneously –with a clear indication (at 12 o’clock) of daytime or nighttime at that zone. Additional features include water resistance up to 100 meters, a 1/1000th second stopwatch, 200-lap memory, a daily alarm and a full calendar.

            All these features would tend to tax the battery life on a standard smartwatch, but here, despite the Bluetooth and additional connected features, the Edifice EQB-1000D is actually smarter. It doesn’t need to be charged every day, or even every month. Casio’s superior Tough Solar feature allows a fully charged internal battery to last for five months, even if you or your watch hasn’t seen any sunlight for weeks. That’s because the Edifice’s battery charges from not only sunlight, but also from any artificial source, including florescent or LED light.

Casio’s solar power system transforms even weak light from sources such as fluorescent lamps into ample energy.

    The Casio Edifice EQB1000D-1A also boasts a sapphire crystal (not always found at this price point) with non-reflective coating. Priced at $330, it will be also be available with a sportier versions (with added tachymeter bezel) that opt for a black dial with red accents and a silver stainless steel band (EQB1000XD-1A; $330) and with a black dial with blue accents and a black IP coated stainless-steel band (EQB1000XDC-1A; $380).

 

The watch in a sportier version (with tachymeter and textured dial) is also available with red accents or with all-black case and blue accents.

Specifications: Casio Edifice EQB1000DC-1A 

Tough Solar (Solar powered)

Mobile link (Wireless linking using Bluetooth

Dual time (Home city time swapping)

One-second stopwatch (measuring capacity: 23:59’59). Others: Flyback, direct timing start from the timekeeping mode

Daily alarm

Power Saving (hands stop to save power when the watch is left in the dark)

Full auto-calendar (to year 2099)

Date display

Day indicator

Regular timekeeping

Analog: 3 hands (hour, minute (hand moves every 10 seconds)

Four dials (24-hour, day, dual time hour and minute, dual time 24-hour)

Accuracy: ±15 seconds per month (with no mobile link function)

Approx. battery operating time:Five months on rechargeable battery (operation period with normal use without exposure to light after charge) or nineteen months on rechargeable battery (operation period when stored in total darkness with the power save function on after full charge)

Module: 5604

Size of case /total weight: EQB-1000D………49.9 x 45.6 x 8.9 mm / 130 g

 

The latest Oris Diver Sixty-Five chronograph is big, bold, two-register, black and gold monster with a standout sapphire domed crystal.  

This vintage-inspired chronograph, which debuted in mid-2019,  grabs you with its striking black, glossy dial that’s framed with a bronze-edged bezel and gilt applied markers. It loudly says, “Read me. I don’t care if you’re under water or not.”

The brown leather strap (also in a steel bracelet) is comfortable on my loaner with exceptional legibility and super-functional features. Despite the 100 meter water resistance, this bad boy probably will not get wrapped around dive suit.  More than likely, it will time the heck out of a hamburger on a grill.

The watch’s bronze bezel trim is a nod to the highly successful limited edition Carl Brashear Chronograph in bronze which came out a couple of years ago. (Good luck finding one, along with the other limited edition versions Oris has launched recently.)

So what’s not to like?

Design and Finish
I think the downside of this watch includes the size and height and then the very thing that makes this so easy to see. I’m not a fan of gilt. I said it.  It’s me, not you. I don’t doubt their popularity, and I always take a second look at these. I’m just less formal.  My day-to-day watches are low key, usually vintage and don’t attract much attention.  

Don’t get me wrong, Oris isn’t flaunting the gold on this and uses a subtle edge of bronze around the bezel to contrast with the white 60-minutes ring on the black aluminum insert. Even now, in the low light of my laptop, I can see the time, the applied markers and the bezel’s 60 markers. There’s some play in the bezel on the model I have, but it’s not a deal breaker for me.  Still, someone looking at this watch may want to consider how tight they like the action in their bezel. 

Likewise the chronograph function on a diver seems out of sorts. The signed crown is a screw down crown and that always makes sense, so I think the absence of the screw down pushers is more about its design than function. 

From what I know around my dives at the public pool with my kids, this isn’t really a function I need unless I’m timing the life guard’s rest period.  

These are functional and aesthetical compromises, and I think it makes sense if you’re not a die-hard diver.  

Innovation
Innovation usually focuses on a brand’s ability to refine and improve a movement, new case materials, longer reserve time or design.  I think expanding a legacy model to the 21st Century is another way Oris innovates. 

It’s a clever diversification from the successful Sixty-Five diver.  Oris launched the line in 2015 and it keeps showing up with a new dial, case metal, case size options and limited editions. 

Legibility
The legibility of the watch is its dominant aspect. In low light, bright light and even at various angles, it reveals the time easily. The dial and the hands shine clearly through. The hour and minutes hands use SuperlumiNova Light Old Radium for luminescence in the dark. The chronograph hand is gold and has the right color and reflective contrast between the base during other times.

The 43mm case diameter shows off the rose-gold PVD-plated hour, minute and second hands and the hands filled with SuperlumiNova indices make them pop.

The vintage chronograph pushers and retro layout direct the wearer to a deep glossy black dial with two flat-black registers. The minutes counter is at nine and the 30-minute counter at three. Each is read by a stark white hand and a gilt base that offers an exceptional view into the function. 

Hold the watch to the light and you’ll appreciate the antireflective coating on the domed sapphire crystal. The curved sapphire dome offers a clear view heads on, but in any curved crystal, you can sacrifice legibility for design aesthetics, even though this crystal shape is worth it.  

Oris helped this curve with the antireflective coating on both sides of the crystal. What you might lose on the curved crystal (I will always love this despite it) you make it up with the dial size and gilted markers.  The dual-side coating offers clarity at almost any angle. 

Rarity and Value
Heritage lines are becoming very common in brands that can reach back in their archives. Oris did this very well on the first model of the Sixty-Five and continues with that success.

There aren’t many watches like this one to compare it to, although the use of gilt accents is a design element we’re seeing more frequently.  The gold or bronze accents aren’t unique but are well suited to sit next to other chronograph divers at a competitive price (for instance, alongside the recent Tudor Black Bay model.) 

Under all the bling, the Oris 771 movement, built from a Sellita SW 510 base, offers an automatic winding with a 48-hour reserve.  Its screw down crown offers water resistance and allows hand winding. 

 The design, comfortable brown leather strap with stainless steel buckle is a good version for land-lovers who want the functions and brand. Of course, Oris also offers a stainless-steel bracelet with folding clasp. 

Priced at $4,000 (leather strap) and $4,250 (steel bracelet), the Diver Sixty-Five chronograph shows that Oris continues to find the balance between design, function and value.


Specifications:

  • Reference number: 01 771 7744 4354
  • Movement: Oris 771, base SW 510
  • Case & Bezel: Multi-piece stainless steel and bronze uni-directional rotating diver’s bezel with an aluminum insert
  • Case Back: Stainless steel, screwed
  • Crown: Stainless steel screw-in security crown and pushers 
  • Crystal: Sapphire, domed on both sides, anti-reflective coating inside
  • Water resistance: 10 bar/100 m
  • Dial: Retro bi-compax dial layout with a black, curved dial and applied rose gold PVD plated indices and hour, minute and seconds hands
  • Hands: Applied Indices and hands are filled with SuperLumiNova® Light Old Radium
  • Bracelet: Brown leather strap with stainless steel buckle or stainless-steel bracelet with folding clasp
  • Dimensions: 43 mm and lug width 21 mm.