Alpina revives the hunter-style flip-open caseback with its new limited edition Startimer Pilot Heritage Automatic. The new model, which features a vintage-style dial and a new case, includes the hunter design, in part to reference an earlier Startimer Pilot watch from 2015 that also featured the retro style.
This latest addition to the pilot series is built with a 44 mm steel case that frames a matte black dial displaying luminescent beige hour, minute and 24-hour markers that nicely replicate a typical shade used on pilot watches starting in the 1930s and 1940s.
Additional vintage details include the triangular Alpina logo on the dial, which utilizes the original font used by Alpina during the peak of the manufacturer’s mid-century pilot watch production. The logo, which differs from the logo Alpina places on its contemporary pilot models, also serves a practical purpose by separating the 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock markers. A colorful red counterbalance on the seconds hand accents the all-business dial, which includes a date indicator.
Alpina decorates the outside of the revived hunter caseback with a fine perlage pattern. When clicked open by pressing the button at 4 o’clock, the back exposes a Sellita-based AL-525 automatic movement sporting a darkened rotor, and otherwise basic finishing.
The crown and the strap also echo the vintage pilot design. The former is large and grooved while the latter is brown and calfskin, accented with beige topstitching.
With this launch, Alpina continues its support of the National Park Foundation as an official partner. For every Startimer Pilot Automatic 40mm purchased through the brand’s U.S. website, Alpina will donate $100 to the parks.
Limited to 1,883 pieces, the new Alpina Startimer Pilot Heritage Automatic is priced at $1,295.
Seiko’s rich legacy of products that represent absolute real estate in the rich tapestry of wristwatch history lend themselves to recreations and homages, with 2020 delivering a singular treat in the release of a three-watch edition that charts the story of Seiko’s indelible mark on adventure, diving and outdoor sports.
Released this September, Seiko’s Prospex “Built for the Ice Diver” collection represents a material homage to Seiko’s 55-year history of producing sports diving watches, beginning in 1965 with the release of Japan’s first dive watch, the 62MAS.
The new collection is comprised of recreations of highly desirable classics that represent modern technology brought to bear on a vintage subject.
“Built for the Ice Diver” is a reference to Seiko’s position as Japan’s watch for the adventurer, tested in extreme conditions both underwater and as a companion to high mountaineers. The 62MAS set the standard for many subsequent Seiko dive watches, with an automatic movement, quickset date and 37mm stainless steel case capped with a plexiglass crystal and rectangular tritium minute markers, ratcheted bezel and broad hands. Vintage examples sell for more than $4,000.
This particular watch, of the many, many variations of Seiko’s developed across multiple markets, grew to prominence because of two men, one real and one fictional. The first, acclaimed Japanese Adventurer Naomi Uemura, chose the original Seiko 62MAS because it was a robust, waterproof watch, and made in Japan to boot.
Sure, he could have picked a Rolex Explorer or Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, like any other run-of-the-mill international adventurer, but Uemura was a standard bearer for his country and selected that most Japanese of all brands, Seiko. He (probably) wore the watch throughout many of his treks, which included a one-man dog sled run from Greenland to Alaska, the first solo walk to the North Pole and ascension of the North American Denali Mountain, which marked his last adventure. He disappeared on the Denali hike, presumably with a Seiko on his wrist.
The second man in the Seiko storybook is the legendary “Captain Willard” from Francis Coppola’s film, “Apocalypse Now.” Willard, played by Martin Sheen, wore a Seiko in the same dive watch family, which gave rise to the watch’s status among collectors, (we love our little tribute names, don’t we), and its value on the secondary vintage watch market.
Seiko has re-issued this watch in several variants over the years, and at varying price points, creating secondary and tertiary collectors’ markets for the multiple iterations of this product.
The new collection
For the uninitiated collector, deciphering the complicated soup of Seiko designations, per market, is itself a treasure hunt and the stuff many lengthy Seiko forum discussions. Suffice to say, the current Prospex Ice collection is alluring enough to satisfy anyone interested in wearing a tough watch that looks like a classic from the analogue era. So, let’s get on with now.
The Ice Diver collection is comprised of three watches, each with its own twist on our theme. Shop for SKUs SPB175 (grey dial/bezel), SPB177 (green dial/bezel) and SPB179 (blue dial/bezel), packaged in the Seiko Sumo case, released exclusively in the North American market and priced at a very competitive $900.
The Sumo variant is a wide (44mm), thin (12mm) all stainless watch case and signed bracelet, powered by a Seiko automatic caliber 6R35 movement, beating at a frequency of 21,600 BPH, pivoting on 24 jewels, with a 70-hour power reserve. It’s water resistant to 600 feet and has a dual curved sapphire crystal. It has a date indicator, rotating bezel, Lumibrite hands and markers and a three-year manufacturer’s warranty.
And if that’s not enough, it’s supplied to the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition (JARE), which means that the homage on an homage on an homage is now itself a bona fide collectible with its own nascent back story. Face it folks, for $900 this is one hell of a watch – and by the time you read this it will probably be sold out anyway, and headed to become a $1,500 watch on the collector’s market. And so it goes with Seiko.
Prospex is Seiko’s mid-range sports watch brand, with its own higher end LX series. It’s fascinating to watch Seiko grow and prune their brands into unique shapes, like an artistic gardener tending to a Bonsai tree.
With the chain-sawing of brands across many U.S. distribution points in 2019, Seiko drew a line in the sand: cut broad distribution, cut SKU’s, focus heavily on retailers and educate the consumer on the products to create new demand.
This release reflects that tactic in action. The Ice Diver collection plays off the perception of heritage, coupled with limited availability, backed by a lot of watch for the money. Instant collectible equals increased market desire for subsequent releases. Hats off to the company for delivering sales during a time period when we’re seeing other companies disappear into the vanity fueled, limited edition, lofty priced abyss.
Seiko Extra: The Spring Drive Prospex LX SNR029
For those seeking a classic-looking Seiko homage with all the attributes of current issue Seiko technology, take a look at the GPHG-award-winning Seiko Prospex LX SNR029.
This watch literally straddles both of our planet’s unknown universes: space and water. At a list price of $6,000, this watch gives its Grand Seiko cousin a run for the money. This Prospex LX is titanium, with a case developed by Porsche designer Ken Okuyama and powered by Seiko’s 5R65 Spring Drive movement that is less susceptible to atmospheric deviations than a standard automatic watch.
The movement is found in Grand Seiko models and was actually worn in space by video game designer Richard Garriott, a citizen who paid the Russians to make him the sixth non-astronaut to travel to space. Needless to say, he wore a Seiko Spring Drive watch (whaddya think about that, Omega, Breitling, Casio, Rolex and Fortis). If you can get your hands on this classic – grab it!
TAG Heuer added four dressy chronographs to its bedrock Carrera collection a few weeks ago, in part to balance the sporty line with sleek, tachymeter-free options.
Along with the new aesthetic choice, however, TAG Heuer powers all these new Carrera Elegant Chronographs with its in-house Caliber Heuer 02, the brand’s highly efficient column-wheel chronograph with vertical clutch that delivers an impressive eighty-hour power reserve.
TAG Heuer emphasizes its use of the top-line caliber with “Heuer 02 80 Hours” capitalized on the dial just below the date.
Thin bezel, slim bracelet
The dressier profile here doesn’t simply rely on the generally unencumbered chronograph dial. The steel bezel itself, while reminiscent of the original Carrera from 1963, frames a simple one-fifth seconds track and connects the ends of a thin steel bracelet with rounded inner and outer links, or to a classic brown alligator strap. The result creates a subdued case and bracelet (or strap) that slides nicely under any shirt cuff.
The four dial hues extend TAG Heuer’s message of elegance-focused sport. The Le Locle manufacturer is making the Carrera Elegant Chronograph with dials of opaline black or sunray brushed blue, anthracite and silver (with rose-gold-plated hands). The recognizable TAG Heuer “azurage” subdials at 3 and 9 o’clock and the polished hands echo many other TAG Heuer offerings.
TAG Heuer is offering the watches with black and blue dials initially on the steel bracelet while pairing the bicolored version with a silver-colored dial and rose- gold-plated hands and the model with the anthracite dial are paired with the brown alligator leather strap.
From the back, you’ll view the Caliber Heuer 02, which features an also-dressy rose-gold-colored oscillating mass.
Prices: $5,350 and $5,550 (for model with silver-colored dial and rose-gold-plated hands).
Panerai earlier this month underscored its role as Official Sponsor of the Luna Rossa Team to compete for the America’s Cup by launching a new watch: the Luminor Luna Rossa GMT – 42 mm (PAM01096).
Already known for its use of a new carbon composite called Carbotech for its bezel, the watch now also highlights a new material called Scafotech, made of residue collected from the hull and hydrofoils of the Italian team’s AC75 yacht. Panerai has recycled and forged the carbon residue, and each watch within this limited edition (of 250) will utilize the new material within its dial.
To highlight the upcoming Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series, scheduled between January and February 2021 in waters off Auckland, New Zealand, Panerai has added the red color of the Prada logo to the new watch’s small seconds and triangular GMT hands.
In addition, Panerai adds a Luna Rossa inscription to the dial and to the titanium caseback.
Inside, Panerai fits its rugged in-house Caliber P.9010/GMT, an automatic movement with a three-day power reserve and a rapid time adjustment system automatically connected to the date indicator.
The Panerai Luminor Luna Rossa GMT – 42 mm is water-resistant to 100 meters and features a black alligator leather strap with tone-on-tone stitching and a titanium trapezoidal pin buckle. A second black rubber strap is also included, along with a tool to change the straps, a screwdriver for removing the buckle and a box wrapped in personalized Panerai and Luna Rossa sailcloth. Price: $10,800.
Specifications: Luminor Luna Rossa GMT – 42 mm (PAM01096)
(A limited edition of 250 pieces)
Movement: Automatic Caliber P.9010/GMT, 28,800 vibrations/hour, Glucydur balance wheel, Incabloc shockproof device, two barrels and 3-day power reserve.
Dial: Scafotech sandwich structure with Arabic numerals and indices in white Super-LumiNova with green luminescence. Personalized with “Luna Rossa Challenger 36th America’s Cup,” hours, minutes, small seconds, date, GMT displays.
Case: 42mm by 14.4mm sandblasted titanium, Carbotech bezel, safety Lock crown protection device in sandblasted titanium. Screwed dodecagonal case back in sandblasted titanium with Luna Rossa logo, Luna Rossa AC75 monohull and engraved image of the America’s Cup trophy.
Strap: Black alligator leather with tone-on-tone stitching and trapezoidal ardillon buckle in titanium. Additional black rubber strap.
Among Rolex’s 2020 debuts, the watchmaker’s colorful additions to the Oyster Perpetual lineup will likely attract more new fans to the brand (if that’s possible) than will be drawn by Rolex’s updates to the latest Submariner.
Where Rolex altered the case size by one mm (to 41mm) and updated the caliber on this year’s Submariner and Submariner Date, the Geneva giant matched these for the new Oyster Perpetual collection, but also included a wider range of dial hues, brighter dial luminescence and the premiere use within the Oyster Perpetual line of the excellent folding Oysterclasp and the Easylink extension link.
New size & colors
Echoing the new Submariner size, Rolex adds a 41mm case size to the Oyster Perpetual lineup in 2020, replacing the 39mm models. This means that the collection’s other 2020 debut, a new lineup of the already popular 36mm models, will be even more in demand by those who prefer a smaller size.
Rolex also expands the fun factor of this relatively affordable collection (the starting price is $5,600, compared to $8,100 starting price for the Submariner) with a slate of eye-catching colorful lacquer dials for the Oyster Perpetual 36. The include candy pink, turquoise blue, yellow, coral red and green.
But these aren’t the only dial options that will attract new fans. One version of the Oyster Perpetual 41 sports an interesting silver, sunray-finish dial with hands and hour markers in 18-karat yellow gold. A second version offers a bright black sunray-finish dial with white gold hands and hour markers.
Throughout the Oyster Perpetual collection Rolex updates the hands and markers with its own luminescent formula called Chromalight, which emits a long-lasting blue glow.
Upgraded caliber & bracelet
The Oyster Perpetual 41 and the new versions of the Oyster Perpetual 36 are equipped with its also-new Caliber 3230 (which powers the new, date-free 41mm Submariner as well). This caliber enhances the Oyster Perpetual considerably, upgrading and already solid technical resume by adding Rolex’s own ultra-efficient and anti-magnetic Chronergy escapement and the brand’s Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing the movement’s shock resistance.
For collectors who like to swap their wrist wear frequently, the new seventy-hour power reserve that comes along with the new caliber might be the most useful enhancement with the 2020 collection.
And finally, this newest Oyster Perpetual will secure to your wrist with the Rolex Oystersteel bracelet fitted with Rolex’s folding Oysterclasp and the Easylink comfort extension link. This allows the wearer to adjust the bracelet length by five millimeters. This is the first time that this extension system has been used on a bracelet for the Oyster Perpetual range.
You can learn more about all Rolex’s 2020 debuts here.
Tutima Glashütte expands its Grand Flieger Airport collection with a new chronograph and a new three-handed model, both sporting an eye-catching new bezel. Tutima has now forged the collection’s identifiable bidirectional bezel using ultra-hard scratch-resistant ceramic, perfectly colored to echo the dial.
Tutima has historically offered its Grand Flieger Classic collection with Tutima’s well-known military-sourced fluted aviation bezel with a red marking point at the top of the dial.
To launch the newer look, Tutima offers a dégradé ‘military’ green dial and a classic blue hue, both color-coordinated with the dial and strap. The strap is made from grey Cordura textile and secured by a stainless steel deployant clasp. Both models, cased in 43mm steel, are also available with a steel bracelet.
Inside each three-hand watch Tutima fits its reliable ETA-based automatic Caliber 330, with a gold seal on its rotor. The chronograph, the ETA-Valjoux-based Caliber 310, powers the counters (12 elapsed hours, 60 elapsed seconds and 30 elapsed minutes) plus the day/date display. The chronograph’s hour display is particularly easy to read with red numerals circling the subdial.
Prices: Chronograph: $3,900 (on a strap) and $4,300 (on steel bracelet). Three-hand: $2,500 (on strap) and $2,900 (on steel bracelet.
At the beginning of the 20th century, German-based Junghans was the largest clock manufacturer in the world. When it needed new, larger facilities in which to manufacture those clocks, the company teamed with architect Philipp Jakob Manz, who designed Terrassenbau, a dramatically terraced set of workplace buildings for the clockmaker. The building, in Schramberg, is one of the most spectacular industrial buildings worldwide to be built on a sloping site.
The building, which today houses the Junghans museum, instantly became the centerpiece of the sprawling Junghans factory. During the 1950s and 1960s, the heyday of firm’s mechanical movements manufacturing era, Junghans created and manufactured numerous calibers in the building just in front of the site, with caliber and watch assembly conducted in the terrace building itself.
The long expanse of windowed floors allowed watchmakers to work with perfect daylight on assembly and regulation, uninterrupted by workers conducting other watchmaking processes.
Just two years ago, Junghans celebrated 100 years of the architectural history of the facility with a limited edition, 40.7mm gold-cased Meister Chronoscope Terrassenbau. This year, Junghans debuts two steel-cased, non-chronograph Terrassenbau models, each a 1,500-piece limited edition.
One, the Meister Classic Terrassenbau (Master Classic) is a three-hand automatic watch with date in a 38.4mm steel case. The second is a 37.7mm steel-cased, manual-wind time-only watch, the Meister Handaufzug Terrassenbau (the Master Handwind) with small seconds. Both watches feature ETA-based calibers upgraded by Junghans.
In addition to their Terassenbau-colored dials, these new models incorporate elements of the Schramberg facility into their design. For example, the minute track of the matte-silver dial reflects the meandering design of the wall decorations in the terrace building, while the green alligator leather strap echoes the dark green of the wall tiles in the stairways.
Even the caseback of each watch reveals a detailed image of the source of inspiration itself, applied using Junghans’ own printing plant. Also from the back, small windows provide a view into each watch’s movement.
The new watches are limited to 1,500 units each. Prices: The Jungians automatic Meister Classic Terrassenbau is $1,895 and the Junghans Meister Handaufzug Terrassenbau, the manual-wind model, is $1,695.
Bulova recently dug deep into its vast design vault and – with the assistance of collectors – emerged last week with the Accutron Legacy collection, twelve limited edition automatic watches that re-imagine eye-catching 1960s and 1970s Accutron designs.
The collection, available now online and in select stores with each design limited to 600 watches, all feature sapphire crystals, a Sellita-based automatic movement and are water resistant to 30 meters. All are priced at less than $1,500.
Most retain what are now unisex sizes, from 34mm to 38.5mm in diameter, and almost all are sold in both silver-tone steel and gold-tone steel cases. While several offer steel or gold-tone bracelets, most echo the era and come with croco-embossed or retro-style leather straps.
Rather than display all the new Accutron Legacy models, here is an edited selection of our favorites.
Ulysse Nardin this week refreshes its Executive Dual Time with a slightly smaller case, reduced lug size, thinner bezel and a decidedly cleaner dial. This new, dressier version, however, retains the watchmaker’s instant second-time-zone display adjustment, a feature Ulysse Nardin debuted in 1994 well ahead of just about any other manufacturer.
Ulysse Nardin’s system, still among the simplest available, allows the user to adjust the local time hour hand forward or backward (in one-hour increments) with the touch of the “+” and “-” pushers located opposite the crown. The ‘dual time’ window will continue to display the hour at the wearer’s home. The date adjusts automatically with the local time as indicated by the hands, though it can also be adjust manually using the crown.
Now in the same case as the newly prominent Skeleton X models, the new Dual Time presents a more subdued dial, with several alterations, when compared with the previous version. The new case also measures 42mm in diameter, a bit smaller when compared to the earlier collection’s 43mm measurement.
First, smaller Roman numerals at the twelve, three, six and nine o’clock locations no longer dominate the dial as they do on existing models. In addition, Ulysse Nardin has moved the watch’s seconds markers from the rectangular track in the dial’s center to the inner bezel. And finally, the ‘dual time’ text no longer circles the round home time display, but more simply abuts it on two lines.
Ulysse Nardin’s Caliber 24, which combines the brand’s superb dual-time module to an upgraded ETA base caliber, is visible through the exhibition case back. Look for a new oscillating weight with a prominent, encircled UN logo Ulysse Nardin through the sapphire back.
Ulysse Nardin is offering the new Dual Time in either a rose gold case with a blue dial or a stainless steel case with a blue or a black dial. All are water resistant to fifty meters and each piece is individually numbered. Prices: $22,800 (Rose gold), $8,300 (black or blue dial, steel case).
Specifications: Ulysse Nardin Dual Time
Movement: Caliber UN-24 (UN module on ETA base), patented quickset second time (home) display at 9 o’clock, patented Big Date display, small seconds-hand counter. Power reserve is 42 hours.
Dial: Black or blue with home time at 9 o’clock, large date
Case: 42mm stainless steel or rose gold, sapphire crystal, 50 meters water resistance
Bracelet: Alligator leather strap with pin buckle or rubber strap with pin buckle
Prices: $22,800 (Rose gold), $8,300 (black or blue dial, steel case)
Frederique Constant this week brings back its Highlife collection, one of the Geneva watchmaker’s earliest lines, updated with an integrated steel bracelet and a contemporary dial design. The watchmaker debuts the newly returned collection with three new models: The Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture, Highlife Heart Beat and Highlife Automatic COSC.
All three new Highlife models display the same 41mm case as the original collection from 1999, but the new dials feature a globe design that the Geneva brand says is “intended to unify the collection and symbolize the Earth, harmony, and perfection of the circle.”
While not Frederique Constant’s first integrated bracelet, these Highlife debuts mark a premiere of a newer, interchangeable bracelet that allows the wearer to swap the bracelet without additional tools by pressing on the two pushpins at the end of the bracelet or strap to disconnect it from the case and click a new one into place.
Versatility is a focus here. Each watch will come with an additional leather strap and a rubber strap, and Frederique Constant is also offering a set of three additional crocodile calf suede straps in brown, blue, and black (purchased separately).
When it made its first perpetual calendar four years ago, Frederique Constant stuck to its mission of offering a high value-to-price ratio across all its collections. That premier Slimline Perpetual Calendar model wowed collectors and critics alike with its thin Caliber FC-775 movement, attractive dial layout and a double-take price (less than $9,000 for the steel-cased model).
With this latest example, the Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture, Frederique Constant’s continues that mission. The watchmaker’s starts with that in-house FC-775 perpetual calendar caliber and places in the newly integrated steel case/bracelet, fronted by the globe design on the dial.
As with previous examples, the new Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture features three counters: day at 9 o’clock, month and leap year at 12 o’clock, date at 3 o’clock and moon phase at 6 o’clock. The watch’s polished hands and all the index hour markers are topped with a luminescent material.
Frederique Constant is making three different variations of the watch. One (pictured above) offers a very cool two-tone style that combines steel and rose gold plating on the bezel, bracelet, and crown. For added luxury you’ll also get a textured black rubber strap with a rose gold-plated buckle.
The second version features a blue dial with silver hands and index hour markers and comes with a blue rubber strap and a steel pin buckle. The third version comes with a white dial, silver index hour markers, a black leather strap and a black rubber strap. Prices start at $9,095.
The new Highlife Heart Beat collection revisits this brand’s initial ‘iconic’ design.
When it debuted in 1994, the Heart Beat was only serially produced non-skeleton Swiss-made collection that boasted an open dial, displaying the automatic caliber’s escape wheel at the 12 o’clock position. Frederique Constant kicked off a design trend with that original Heartbeat collection, and today regrets the fact that it never protected the initial design, an error the brand says was “rooted in the brand’s youthful inexperience.”
The new versions retain that open window into the movement at the top of the dial, which here appears at the pole position on the globe dial design. Portions of the automatic Sellita-based FC-310 caliber are visible from both front and back through the sapphire crystal.
The new Highlife Heart Beat is now available in three different steel versions. The first offers a white dial and rose gold-plated case with only a brown leather strap and a brown rubber strap. The second features a blue dial with a steel bracelet, complemented by a blue rubber strap and the third features a black dial with a steel case and bracelet and arrives with a black rubber strap. Prices start at $1,995.
New and Certified
As the first COSC-certified watch from Frederique Constant, the new Highlife Automatic COSC (Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute) echoes the original Highlife collection from 1999.
The simplest design of the new globe-dial Highlife collection, this time-only series combines the hands seen on the Heart Beat and the date from the Perpetual Calendar Manufacture, but powers them both with its automatic Sellita-based Caliber FC-310.
Look for four models: one with a two-tone steel bracelet and a white dial, one with a steel bracelet and a blue dial, and a model with a black leather strap and a white dial. The fourth design offers a variation with a rose gold-plated case and a black dial, all set with a brown leather strap and shipped with a rubber strap in the same shade. Prices start at $1,895.