The new Franck Muller Skafander integrates a diving theme with a tonneau-shaped case – a combination rarely seen among marine-focused watch designs. Because divers require a unidirectional rotating bezel to assess correct dive time, watches for divers typically utilize a round case built with a round bezel.
Here, Franck Muller has devised a functional round diver’s bezel, but has placed it inside the Skafander’s large tonneau case, a shape deeply familiar to aficionados of this iconoclastic independent watchmaker. Once set and locked, the Skafander’s dive time is secured with a clearly labeled lock, which insures that the bezel won’t be accidently altered.
While not an officially certified dive watch, the Skafander will retain its water resistance to 100 meters, which allows wearers full, worry-free use while at the beach, boating – or in the pool.
Franck Muller offers the Skafander in a range of case metals, including titanium, steel and rose gold, all with a semi-skeletonized dial that allows a view into the automatic movement below.
Skippers might prefer the highly visible titanium-cased models with blue or yellow accents, or even the blue-accented watch cased in steel. We suspect the boat’s owner, however, might opt to the ritzier rose gold model.
Price: CHF 14,800 (about $16,100, for titanium models only).
Specifications: Franck Muller Skafander (titanium case edition)
Case: 46mm x 57mm x 15.60mm titanium with black PVD treatment. Water resistant to 100 meters.
Movement: Automatic, offering 42 hours power reserve.
Dial: Unidirectional internal rotating bezel indicating the diving time. Half-openwork movement in the center.
Strap: Blue rubber. More colors available with steel and gold models.
Watchmakers have been multiplying their automotive and motorsports collaborations in recent years. Here, we review a few prominent timekeeping/racing alliances.
By Y-Jean Mun-DelSalle
In this Part II of our four-part series outlining automotive-wristwatch partnerships, we highlight Casio and Ernst Benz.
Casio has been partnering with the AlphaTauri Racing Team since September 2020 and launched the second Edifice x AlphaTauri model last March.
Designed together with the F1 team around the theme of “speed and intelligence”, the super-sporty ECB-10AT in signature Scuderia AlphaTauri navy blue features a dial made of 6K carbon – a material used in racing car wings and floors – with the team’s logo engraved on the dial, caseback and band loop.
For men on the move, the timepiece includes a schedule timer function that syncs with a smartphone’s calendar app and also sets the watch to local time automatically.
Demonstrating its dedication to motorsports, Casio Edifice has also teamed with Honda Racing for the past three years, resulting in five Edifice x Honda Racing models, with the latest released last September.
That watch (EFS560HR-1A) sports a black Cordura strap with red accents to match the team’s emblematic colors, while its carbon-fiber dial mirrors the appearance of an asphalt racetrack and displays the Honda Racing logo, along with gold Edifice lettering to mark the model’s 20th anniversary.
Inspired by 1940s and 1950s aviator watches and the cockpit gauges that pilot, engineer and inventor Ernst Benz himself produced in the 1960s and ’70s, the brand is known for its timepieces that attest to its slogan: “Precision Instruments for Timekeeping”.
Ernst Benz and its affiliation with the world of motorsports evolved naturally from the field of aviation, according to Leonid Khankin, CEO of Ernst Benz. Both fields require accuracy, durability and performance.
“There is a natural connection between automotive timing and wristwatches, as wristwatches and chronographs were developed especially for aviators and timing cars,” Khankin notes. Both fields require accuracy, durability and performance and often share instruments. Benz was a gauge and instrument manufacture for two decades before creating his first wristwatch.
As the official timekeeper of the Nascar Coca-Cola 600 race, held last May at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, Ernst Benz presented the winner, Kyle Larson of Hendrick Racing, with a special edition of the Ernst Benz ChronoLunar Officer tool watch commemorating a decade since the ChronoLunar’s first release. Since it debuted, the ChronoLunar has become the best-known Ernst Benz collection, with the Officer being the most recent interpretation.
Larson’s prize ChronoLunar has been customized with Coca-Cola red details, a brushed stainless steel case, black dial and alligator strap with red top-stitching. It pairs a chronograph with calendar functions, while its 47-mm diameter size optimizes legibility.
Ernst Benz has also served as the official timekeeper of the Nascar AAA 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway, as well as the Nascar All-Star Race and the Roval 400 in Charlotte, for which it will renew its participation in October 2021.
“We take a personal approach when we partner with motorsports brands,” explains Khankin. “ We look at each race on a case-by-case basis to create watches directly themed to the particular event.” That approach, he adds, is recognized by the racers and the fans as more heartfelt and generates a strong bond between Ernst Benz and its partners.
“I’m extra proud that car guys love our watches,” Khankin adds.
Y-Jean Mun-DelSalleis a freelance journalist and editorial consultant who has lived on three different continents. She meets with inspirational individuals in pursuit of excellence: emerging and established artists, designers and craftsmen, engaging entrepreneurs and philanthropists, and the movers and shakers of the world today. She contributes regularly to regional and international titles such as Artsy, Asia Tatler, Design Anthology, Forbes, Portfolio, Robb Report, Shawati’ and Vogue, shining a spotlight in particular on art, architecture, design, horology and jewelry.
Arnold & Son has dressed one of its most impressive watches, the Globetrotter, in red gold, to create the Globetrotter Gold, effectively underscoring the luxury of this model’s world-time functionality.
Previously available cased in steel, the 45mm Globetrotter takes on a new golden glow, especially with its massive openworked bridge now so richly polished in the same gold used to case the watch.
That arched bridge does more that catch the eye. It holds a functional ruby atop the domed Northern Hemisphere dial. Reading world times starts at the ruby, where the eye imagines the start of a longitude line that extends to the 24-hour sapphire ring that surrounds the dial. The wearer identifies local time simply by reading the red hands pointing to the gold indexes.
With this Globetrotter Gold, Arnold & Son enhanced the elegance of the Globetrotter with new accents of both gold and deep blue. The dial’s appliqué indexes are faceted in red gold (and also painted in SuperLuminova). Artisans have also painted the oceans with several coats of blue-pigmented lacquer enriched with pearlescent powder, which means their glow is richer than you might expect for such a small detail. Also, note that Arnold & Son has lightened the coastlines, adding more SuperLuminova to enhance their visiblity in the dark. In contrast, all the mountain ranges are matte finished.
Look for equally fine finishing on the in-house automatic caliber A&S6022, which is visible through the sapphire back. The movement’s 22-karat gold oscillating weight is skeletonized and features the Clou de Paris guilloché pattern. For an added touch of elegance, the brand’s finishers have matched the high-quality anthracite movement plating to the red gold case.
Arnold & Son will make twenty-eight editions of the Globetrotter Gold. Price: CHF 41,900, or about $45,800.
Corum’s newest Bubble, called Bubble X-Ray, pays tribute to the first Bubble watches from 2000. That’s the year the late Severin Wunderman, the former Corum owner, debuted the Bubble collection, which from the beginning included a skull-dialed model. The eccentric domed Bubble design quickly became an object of desire for a wave of collectors in search of unconventional watches.
Hidden as a child during the Nazi occupation of Poland during WWII, Wunderman was “obsessed with life, death and the concept of Dia de Muertos, a celebration where friends and family gather to honor the dead in a festive manner,” according to Corum. He expressed his darker obsessions within many Corum Bubble designs over the years, including with themes like the Bubble Jolly Roger, to Bubble Lucifer, Bats, Nightflyer and others.
The new Corum Bubble X Ray recalls many of those designs with a stylized skull dial just beneath the large domed sapphire crystal, which slightly distorts the image. The skull is luminescent and glows green in the dark, adding to its otherworldly appeal. Corum even adds fluorescent green stitching to the Bubble X-Ray’s rubber-lined synthetic alligator-like strap.
Corum has blackened the steel case with a black PVD treatment and has placed a clear sapphire case back on it to allow a view of the automatic movement inside. The domed front crystal and the back crystal are coated with an anti-reflective treatment.
Corum will make eighty-eight of the limited edition 47mm Bubble X-Ray. Price: $4,000. And if the series is sold out before your purchase, take heart. Corum says the X Ray is just the first of several new Bubble watches.
Ulysse Nardin updates its already extensive dive watch collection with three dive models that add rose gold to existing favorites. Two of the updates include a new rose gold bezel atop a steel or a titanium case.A third debut includes diamonds set in a rose gold bezel atop a 39mm rose gold case.
Diver 42mm Grey and Rose Gold
This latest 42mm steel-cased PVD-satin-finished ‘shark grey’ dive model boasts a 42mm case with nicely contrasting rose gold and gray rubberized, unidirectional rotating, concave bezel.
Beneath the clearly domed sapphire crystal Ulysse Nardin offers a dial with a contemporary sandblasted finish. Ulysse Nardin has engraved its logo on the solid grey PVD back.
Inside you’ll find a Sellita-based automatic UN-816 movement (outfitted with a silicon escapement wheel and anchor) protected down to 300 meters under water. Finally, Ulysse Nardin secures the watch’s gray alligator strap with a stainless steel grey PVD buckle. Price: $10,400.
Diver Chronometer 44mm
With a larger (44mm) case, the Ulysse Nardin Diver Chronometer 44mm, with a classic ocean blue dial and blue PVD-coated titanium case, offers a more feature-filled option for nautical adventurers.
Its rose gold unidirectional bezel is appropriately easy to read with gold markers and luminous 0 at the top to mark dive time. The dial, itself well lit with SuperLuminova ands and markers, displays a power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock and a substantial small seconds hand in a subdial at 6 o’clock.
Inside, Ulysse Nardin fits its own Caliber UN-118, which boasts a Diamonsil (a diamond-silicon alloy) escapement wheel and anchor and a silicon balance spring, much of which is visible through a see-through sapphire caseback.
And despite the clear back, Ulysse Nardin assures us that the Ulysse Nardin Diver Chronometer 44mm, like the full Diver Chronometer 44mm collection, is built to withstand up to 300 meters of water pressure. Price: $13,300.
Lady Diver Rose Gold
Set with forty diamonds, this glittering 39mm watch may be a fashion-forward mother-of-pearl dial watch, but inside it’s all business.
Within the full rose gold case Ulysse Nardin fits its automatic UN-816 movement, the same one powering the Diver 42mm Grey and Rose Gold described above. That sharp-looking dial glows with eleven diamonds; the white alligator strap is held in place by a rose gold buckle. If you’re sporty, opt for the model with the white rubber strap. Price: $25,800.
If diving with the eye-catching Reservoir Limited-Edition Hydrosphere Bronze on your wrist isn’t enough of an inducement to buying the technically unique dive watch, perhaps you’ll be enticed by an invitation to dive wearing it alongside renowned diver and photographer Greg Lecoeur.
The new inducement means each buyer of the Hydrosphere Greg Lecoeur Limited Edition will be offered a half-day of diving with Lecoeur in the Port-Cros national park in Hyères, France, during a session in September (not including insurance, accommodation and transportation).
Lecoeur is also a supporter of coral protection, and funds from the sale of each special edition Hydrosphere Bronze will be donated to the replanting of a coral through the Coral Gardeners Association.
Reservoir and Lecoeur have teamed to design and produce the fifty-piece limited edition of the bronze-cased watch. Lecoeur chose a blue sunray dial for the limited edition, and each watch will be delivered with a package of photographs from one of his exploration notebooks, all placed into in a handy waterproof carrying case.
The new fifty-piece limited edition series also features a Greg Lecoeur engraving on the back and his name on the dial.
Reservoir’s Hydrosphere stands alone as the only single-hand functional dive watch we’ve seen. And while we’ve seen bronze encase more than a few nautically themed watches in recent years, the Hydrosphere’s unusual retrograde minute display and jumping hour module set it apart from traditional dive models while still upholding a diver’s need for highly legible dive timing, unidirectional bezel, helium valve and strong water resistance (here rated to 250 meters). Price: $4,850.
Case: 45mm bronze with satin finish, unidirectional ceramic rotating bezel with double scale for reading the time at different diving depths before and after the retrograde minute hand’s return, helium valve, stainless steel screwed back, screw-down crown, water resistant to 250 meters.
Dial: Blue with sundial finish, white index, magnifier on the jumping-hour window. Movement: Automatic with patented proprietary 124-piece module on ETA 2824-2 caliber, with retrograde minutes, jumping hour, power reserve of 37 hours, power reserve indicator.
Strap: Black rubber screwed onto the body, additional blue NATO strap provided, mounted on bronze stirrups.
My first experience of Meccaniche Veloci occurred several years ago when I visited a high-end boutique at Singapore Airport. I vividly remember seeing many of the brand’s QuattroValvole models and being mesmerized by the bold aesthetic. These distinctive watches have four different time zones and are unlike anything else on the market.
At that stage, the company was owned by the Italian jewelry group Cielo Venezia, which had previously bought the brand from Marco Colombo. He was the visionary who originally designed the concept for the QuattroValvole, a particular four-time-zone model that was inspired by the four-phase engine pistons of Ferrari racing cars.
Even though Meccaniche Veloci showed enormous potential, it was never realized under the control of Cielo Venezia. For example, the brand was oblivious that high-profile celebrities like Cristiano Ronaldo who actually purchased their watches. In a world dominated by brand ambassadors, this type of oversight seems inconceivable.
Fortunately, Swiss entrepreneur Cesare Cerrito could see huge potential in Mecchaniche Veloci and subsequently bought the brand in 2015. At this point, he also shifted the operation from Milan to Geneva to utilize the latest Swiss watchmaking technology. Now the headquarters (called MV House) is located in a trendy warehouse located in Plan-Les-Ouates.
I discovered Meccaniche Veloci’s boutique during the 2015 Baselworld and was intrigued to view their new releases. Previously, I had contacted the brand numerous times without much success. That is why I was pleasantly surprised to discover Cesare Cerrito had acquired the brand. He was very charming and was keen to show me some exclusive pieces. My favorite was the collaboration they had done with Italian helmet manufacturer Suomy.
When Cerrito first purchased Meccaniche Veloci, the most expensive models in the range were capped at around $5,000. The only real exception was the phenomenal QuattroValvole CCM (Carbon Ceramic), which was die cut from a Brembo brake disc. This is still one of my personal favorite watches.
Issues & In-House
Even though the concept of having a watch with four independent movements was very cool, it also came with issues. In my experience, some of the mechanisms lagged and then there was the inconvenience of servicing four Swiss ETA 2671 movements.
Fortunately, Cerrito had ambitious plans for the brand, and this involved creating a new proprietary single movement to replace the individual calibers.
After three fastidious years of extensive research and development, the company finally unveiled its first in-house caliber, an automatic model called the MV8802 that powers each separate display.
The Caliber MV8802 marked a new chapter for the brand. Even though Cerrito hasn’t got any formal design qualifications, he makes up for it with passion and enthusiasm. Under his guidance, Meccaniche Veloci has adopted a completely different marketing strategy.
The timepieces are now far more exclusive and crafted entirely in Switzerland in small batches. Now there are predominantly two collections: the Icon and QuattroValvole. The Icon models feature four separate dials with four separate anti-reflective sapphire crystals. The QuattroValvole models feature a single dial with one large anti-reflective sapphire crystal.
Highlights include models like the Damascus, NiteLite Japan Edition, MoneyMaker, Mud and Nardi Edition. There are also a couple of extravagant tourbillon models with solid 18-karat pink gold cases.
Alongside the many new dome clocks and pocket watches Patek Philippe is debuting during its wide-ranging Rare Handcrafts 2020-2021 exhibition in Geneva this month, the manufacture is also presenting six ongoing-collection wristwatches re-interpreted with new artisanal craftsmanship.
These debuts include a Ref. 6002R-001 Sky Moon Tourbillon, a diamond-set minute repeater with retrograde perpetual calendar (Ref. 5304/301R-001), a minute repeater with perpetual calendar (Ref. 5374-001), the Ref. 7040/250G-001 Minute Repeater for Ladies, a richly decorated Golden Ellipse (Ref. 5738/51G-001), and a white gold Nautilus set with diamonds. Prices for all these models are on request.
The Ref. 6002R-001 Sky Moon Tourbillon Haut Artisanat
Patek Philippe has given this ultra-complex watch (with twelve complications) a stunning hand-engraved rose-gold case with a brown dial in grand feu champlevé and cloisonné enamel.
Patek Philippe’s engravers spent more than 100 hours creating the ‘volutes and arabesques’ case, crown and repeater slide. As Patek Philippe’s second most complicated model, the Sky Moon Tourbillon combines a tourbillon and a minute repeater that strikes on cathedral gongs, a perpetual calendar with a retrograde date, a moon-phase display and the leap year cycle.
From the back, you’ll see a celestial chart showing the apparent motion of the moon and the stars. Patek Philippe will deliver the new Ref. 6002R-001 Sky Moon Tourbillon with hand-engraved cufflinks in rose gold. It replaces the Ref. 6002G-010 in white gold with a black grand feu enamel dial.
The Ref. 5374G-001 Minute Repeaterwith a perpetual calendar
Initially available in platinum, this chiming watch with cathedral gongs now boasts a white-gold case with a glossy blue grand feu enamel dial. Also new are the slightly larger perpetual calendar (day, date, month, leap year cycle) displays, placed on slightly enlarged subsidiary dials. In addition, the white gold hands are now highly luminous, while themoonphase aperture is made using the champlevé enamel technique and then framed in white gold (see below).
Ref. 7040/250G-001 Rare Handcrafts Minute Repeater for ladies
This groundbreaking minute repeater is now extra luxurious with a blue grand feu flinqué enamel dial and a bezel with a Flamme diamond setting. The new model is slightly larger (36m) than the earlier models, and also boasts a diamond-set bezel.
If you recall the dial on the Patek Philippe “Siamese Fighting Fish” pocket watch from 2019, you’ll see a similarity with this new model. Artisans fully guilloche the dial’s gold plate and then coat it with transparent blue enamel that allows the underlying decor to shine through. This method is an old technique called flinqué enameling. Patek Philippe insures that this watch remains thin (5.05mm) by using its self-winding caliber R 27 PS, powered by a 22-karat gold eccentric mini-rotor.
Ref. 5738/51G-001 Golden Ellipse Haut Artisanat
This new design takes full advantage of one of Patek Philippe’s most classic case shapes. Here in white gold, the Ellipse boasts a stunning champlevé enamel dial that has been manually engraved. The watch’s curly-cue decor, known technically as ‘volutes and arabesques,’ nicely complements the oval case shape of the Golden Ellipse.
Inside Patek Philippe places its famed automatic Caliber 240 powered by an off-center recessed mini-rotor in 22-karat gold. The thin (6.58mm) watch joins the current Golden Ellipse collection, which also includes Ref. 5738P-001 in platinum with a blue sunburst dial and the Ref. 5738R-001 in rose gold with an ebony black sunburst dial.
Ref. 7118/1450G Nautilus Haute Joaillerie
Released in rose gold just a few months ago, this newest highly reflective diamond-set Nautilus can now be had in a white gold case. Set with a random pavé setting (also called snow setting), the watch’s case, dial, bezel, and the bracelet are decorated with nearly 13 carats of diamonds. Still, despite the glitter, the blackened white gold hands remain visible thanks in part to a generous coating of luminous material.
This 32.5mm white-gold case is fitted with the automatic Caliber 324 S movement that has been elaborately finished and visible through the sapphire-crystal case back. Sunglasses please.
Ref. 5304/301R-001 Minute Repeater with a retrograde perpetual calendar
Now in a 43mm rose-gold case set with eighty baguette diamonds, this grand complication was first launched in 2006 in a platinum case. Its new diamond frame boasts 6.22 carats of diamonds on its bezel, lugs and clasp, dramatizing Patek Philippe’s seriously complicated system for clearly displaying the day, month, and leap year cycle with transparent sapphire-crystal disks. To add subplots to the drama, Patek Philippe has also added white-gold inlays with engraved leaf motifs in the case flanks and the repeater slide.
The back offers its own window into the architecture of the self-winding caliber R 27 PS QR LU movement, most notably the minute repeater mechanism with two gongs. The viewer can also watch the whirring of the centrifugal governor during chiming. Finally, Patek Philippe artisans re-imagined the finished here with a leaf motif now visible on the rose gold mini-rotor. Patek Philippe has built so many stunning technical and artisanal highlights into this watch, we highly recommend you view the brands’ own visual tour, available here.
Parmigiani Fleurier embraces its inner panda with the new Tondagraph GT Steel Silver Black and the Tondagraph GT Rose Gold Silver Black, both now with ‘panda style’ sporty bi-color dials.
The 42mm Tondagraph GT Steel Silver Blackis both a chronograph and annual calendar, and as with all annual calendars, this indicator requires adjustment only once per year, from February to March.
The back of the steel model allows the owner to see the movement’s 22-karat gold rotor through a sapphire case back. You’ll also see a host of decorative finishes, including the circular côtes de Genève pattern on the bridges.
In comparison to its black-dialed predecessor, which utilized orange numerals and details, this new model displays higher-contrast elements in white, panda style.
“With this new model we wanted to exalt the contrast between the counters and the silver dial,” says Parmigiani Fleurier CEO Guido Terreni. “Taking out the orange indicators of the first edition helped us obtain a pure and long-lasting aesthetic.”
The 42mm Tondagraph GT Rose Gold Silver Black is a follow up to last year’s Tondagraph GT Rose Gold Blue, and like that model is powered by PF071, a 36,000-bph integrated chronograph caliber. This is a COSC chronometer-certified movement based on Parmigiani’s GPHG award-winning Caliber PF361. It offers 65-hours of power reserve.
The integrated chronograph function uses a smooth column wheel rather than a cam, and a vertical clutch rather than a horizontal one. These are said to increase accuracy by enabling the chronograph to start without an initial jolt.
As you might expect from this brand, the movement is expertly finished by hand. You’ll find chamfering and polishing, sandblasted surfaces, a sunray pattern on the 22-karat gold oscillating weight and beautifully hand-finished bridges.
Just ahead of the annual Mille Miglia, the 1,000-mile classic car race in Italy slated for June 16 to 19, long-time race sponsor and participant Chopard has released its ode to the race, the new Mille Miglia 2021 Race Edition.
While this year’s race will run in the reverse direction (counter-clockwise) starting in Brescia, on to Rome and returning to Brescia to pay homage to the race’s original 1927 route, Chopard moves forward, offering two models of the new watch.
Chopard is making one of the new Mille Miglia 2021 Race Edition chronographs with a steel case, limited to 1,000 units, and will also make a second model cased in both steel and rose gold, limited to 250 units.
Each is a sporty 44mm chronograph with either a stainless steel or polished ethical rose gold bezel with a black ceramic insert with white ceramic markings. Chopard has designed the bezel to mimic dials and gauges of the types found in classic automobiles that annually participate in the Mille Miglia.
The watch also sports a grey dial with a circular satin-brushed finish, all highlighted by red accents on the chronograph hands and for the race’s historic ‘Red Arrow’ pennant.
Chopard secures the back with screws and engraves a checkered flag, the ’1000 Miglia’ logo and the inscription ‘Brescia > Roma > Brescia.’ Though it’s not visible, the ETA-based COSC-chronometer-certified automatic movement offers a 48-hour power reserve, stop-seconds function, water-resistance to 100 meters and a glare-resistant sapphire crystal.
And finally, the watch’s calfskin leather bracelet features perforations and red or black stitching reminiscent of 1960s Dunlop racing tires, echoing examples from previous years.