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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.

One model from Frederique Constant’s new Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture collection.

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).

Perpetual Calendar

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.

Open Heart

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.”

From the new Frederique Constant Highlife Heart Beat collection.

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.

This Highlife Heart Beat model offers a variation with a rose gold-plated case and a white dial, set with a brown leather strap and shipped with a rubber strap in the same shade.

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.

A two-tone model from Frederique Constant’s new Highlife Automatic COSC collection.

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.

 

H. Moser’s new Streamliner Centre Seconds, the second model from the independent Swiss brand’s integrated steel Streamliner collection, focuses on timekeeping basics by displaying simple hours, minutes and seconds. But echoing so many H. Moser debuts, the real eye-catcher is the stunning fumé dial, here in “Matrix Green.”

The H. Moser Streamliner Centre Seconds

The dial appears to glow, framed within its brushed steel 40mm case that links ever so smoothly to the matching steel  bracelet – with no sign of a lug.  

To reach that integrated ergonomic end zone, H. Moser extends a carefully curved bracelet atop the wrist directly into the case. Not only does it feels smooth on the wrist with articulated, gently waving links, the bracelet looks resplendent with its vertically brushed and polished finishing.

H.Moser explains that its rounded curves required the Streamliner’s designers to hollow out the case middle, satin-finish the sides and then alternately brush and polish surfaces throughout.

Any watch named Streamliner needs to have a domed sapphire crystal, which H. Moser wisely uses to top the Centre Seconds. Under that subtly curved dome you’ll find unusual hands (including a curved minute hand) formed with inserts made from Globolight, a ceramic-based material that features SuperLuminova.

Inside this H. Moser Streamliner Centre Seconds model is the watchmaker’s own automatic HMC 200 caliber. The movement is equipped with a regulating organ manufactured by H. Moser & Cie.’s sister company, Precision Engineering AG. Nicely decorated by H. Moser with its brand-developed double stripe décor, the caliber also stands out from other with a gold oscillating weight. Price: $21,900.

Specifications: H. Moser Streamliner Centre Seconds, Reference 6200-1200

Movement: HMC 200 self-winding caliber, frequency of 21,600 Vph, automatic bi-directional pawl winding system, 18-karat gold oscillating weight engraved with the H. Moser hallmark, power reserve of 3 days, original Straumann Hairspring, finish with Moser stripes.

Case: 40mm by 9.9mm steel topped by a gently domed sapphire crystal, see-through case back, screw-in crown adorned with an “M”, water-resistant to 120 meters.

Dial: Matrix Green fumé with sunburst pattern, applique indices, hour and minute hands with Globolight inserts.

Bracelet: Integrated steel bracelet, folding clasp with three steel blades, engraved with the Moser logo.

Grand Seiko continues its yearlong celebration of the first Grand Seiko collection it debuted six decades ago with a new Heritage Collection Automatic Limited Edition powered by automatic Caliber 9S65, the impressive technical upgrade of the Caliber 9S55.

Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Automatic Limited Edition

The dial and layout of the steel-cased watch echoes the 60th anniversary models presented earlier this year, with their blue dials and historically referenced hands and markers. Here, however, Grand Seiko adds a standard-beat automatic model to the anniversary lineup (the previously announced example features a Hi-Beat 36000 caliber).

Caliber 9S65 beats at a more traditional 28,800 bph and delivers a power reserve of 72 hours and a precision rate of +5 to –3 seconds a day.

Oxidation blue

The automatic caliber here is also marked on its visible rotor with a special shimmering blue color, created using an oxidation process that both echoes the blue dial and is meant to mirror light seen in the morning through the windows of the new Grand Seiko’s Shizukuishi and Shinshu studios.

The Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi.

Grand Seiko has applied the blue hue to the titanium sections of the oscillating weight, adding anniversary text and date and the Grand Seiko logo. All of this, framed in a red ring (to recall the “red of the morning sun”) is visible through the watch’s sapphire crystal caseback.

Caliber 9S65. Grand Seiko has significantly enhanced the basic performance of this caliber, and has also redesigned the way in which the oscillating weight winds the mainspring.

This new Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Automatic Limited Edition watch is offered as limited edition of 2,500. Price: $5,200.

Specifications: Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Automatic Limited Edition (SBGR321)

Movement: Caliber 9S65, 28,800 vibrations per hour (8 beats per second) Accuracy (mean daily rate): +5 to –3 seconds per day. Power reserve: 72 hours.

Dial: Blue with date and red-tipped seconds hand.

Case: 40mm by 13mm
steel case and bracelet, sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, see-through screw case back, rotor with blue color and grand Seiko lion logo, screw-down crown. 
Water resistance to 100 meters. Magnetic resistance: 4,800 A/m

Bracelet: Three-fold steel clasp with push button release.

Price: $5,200 (Limited edition of 2,500)

 

Ulysse Nardin this week launches Blast, the latest of the Le Locle-based watchmaker’s Executive Skeleton X series of open-worked watches that feature distinctive rectangular and X-shaped bridges within a broad, round bezel. The four new 45mm Blast watches accentuate the collection’s see-through X design with a new silicon tourbillon placed within its own X-shaped cage.

The White Blast features white ceramic, metallic grey and dark blue accents.

With these shape-within-a-shape bridges, the new Blast retains the geometrical focus we’ve seen in recent Ulysse Nardin X models, including the three-horned strap link, a smooth, often colored bezel and the barrel at 12 o’clock.

The new Ulysse Nardin Blue Blast has a titanium middle case, blue titanium bezel, blue brass rectangular bridge, blue tourbillon cage, blue and grey double “X” pattern, metallic grey sculpted hands and indexes.

Micro-rotor

But the new Blast offers much that differs from previous Skeleton X offerings, especially with its new case architecture and a new tourbillon movement employing Ulysse Nardin’s first-ever micro-rotor. 

The new skeletonized UN-172 movement (an evolution of the UN-171), with its silicon escape wheel, anchor and balance spring, powers each of the four Ulysse Nardin Blast watches.

The new skeletonized UN-172 movement in the Blast features a tourbillon with silicon escape wheel, anchor and balance spring.

As the first automatic tourbillon within Ulysse Nardin’s Skeleton collection, you’ll find a platinum micro-rotor (visible only from the front of the watch) winding the mainspring, supplying a three-day reserve when fully wound.

The Rose Gold Blast features a black DLC middle case and solid gold horns, black ceramic bezel, a bicolor tourbillon cage (rose gold colored and black PVD), sculpted rose gold indexes and hands.

New Lugs

Ulysse Nardin has also restyled the lugs, making them more angular and finishing each triangular surface differently. The lug surfaces, polished by laser using a new technique devised by Ulysse Nardin, alternate between polished, satin-finish and sand blasted. The idea, according to Ulysse Nardin, is to mimic “sharp rocks that jut out of a volcano.”

The Blast’s lug surfaces are polished by laser using a new technique devised by Ulysse Nardin.

Also new here is a self-deploying, three-blade buckle that releases with a single click. When closing, the system simultaneously pulls both ends of the strap toward the clasp. 

Blast features a new self-deploying buckle that releases with a single click.

Ulysse Nardin is making four distinct Blast models: White, Blue, Black and Rose Gold. Each offers its own set of color or design accents ­– even within the tourbillon itself. The Black Blast, for example, comes with a ceramic upper middle case and bezel, black rectangular bridge, red and black double “X” pattern and a stunning new red balance wheel – the first time Ulysse Nardin has ever colorized its balance wheel.

The Black Blast comes with a ceramic upper middle case and bezel, black rectangular bridge, red and black double “X” pattern and a stunning new red balance wheel – the first time that Ulysse Nardin has ever developed a colored balance wheel.

Several strap options are available for each model, including structured rubber, leather and velvet.

 

The back view of the Ulysse Nardin Black Blast.

 

Prices:

Blue (T-1723-400/03) $44,000

Black (T-1723-400/BLACK) $46,000

White (T-1723-400/00)  $46,000  

Rose Gold (T-1725-400/02) $54,000  

 

Specifications: Ulysse Nardin Blast

Movement: Caliber UN-172, skeletonized automatic tourbillon with micro-rotor. Functions: Tourbillon, hours, minutes, raised rectangular bridge, escapement wheel, anchor, and balance spring in silicon, platinum micro-rotor at 12 o’clock, 18,000 vph (2.5 Hz). Power reserve is 72 hours.

Case: 45mm x 13mm titanium or titanium/ceramic multi-part with PVD/DLC coating; rose gold and ceramic for rose gold model, sapphire case back, sapphire crystal, water resistance to 50 meters.

Strap:  Structured or plain rubber, alligator or calfskin, velvet or denim.

 

Bulgari advanced its six-year run of horological record-breaking this week with the new Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic, the sixth ultra-thin watch in as many years claiming ultimate horological thinness.

Bulgari’s new Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph.

Measuring a wispy 7.4mm thick, thanks to a 3.5mm thick skeletonized movement and a thin, sandblasted titanium case, the watch now claims the title as the thinnest watch with both a tourbillon and a single-push chronograph. 

A look at the Bulgari Octo Finissimo World Record ultra-thin watches since 2014, with the new Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph in front.

 

In addition to this headlining debut from Bulgari’s slate of three debuts at Geneva Watch Days, the Italo-Swiss watchmaker also showed the Gérald Genta Arena Bi-Retrograde Sport, a new model inspired by the famed Gerald Genta Arena design from 1969. Bulgari also debuted the Bulgari Aluminum, another retro-inspired watch based on the very successful aluminum-cased original from 1998.

Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic

This new watch combines features Bulgari has already mastered within an ultra-thin package: an automatic tourbillon (seen in the 2018 Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic) and the chronograph (debuted just last year with the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic).

The new watch measures 7.4mm thick, thanks to a 3.5mm thick skeletonized movement and a thin, sandblasted titanium case.

Here however Bulgari has transformed the chronograph from a three-subdial layout to a two-counter display, and is now activated, stopped and reset by pressing the top of two rectangular pushers. The lower pusher, at the 4 o’clock location, sets the crown to either allow for hand-winding or for setting the time.

The new skeletonized BVL388, with a horizontal clutch with a column wheel, has been finished and designed with eye-catching contemporary flair.

The chronograph subdials are the only real dials here as Bulgari has skeletonized the Caliber BVL388, including the tourbillon’s bridge, exposing more of the movement to the wearer. From the back, the wearer can also enjoy a view of the peripheral rotor Bulgari first added to the Finissimo series in the 2018 Chronograph GMT Automatic.

The new BVL388 skeletonized caliber, dial-side view.

The new watch’s gold oscillating weight races around a skeletonized BVL388 displaying a horizontal clutch with a column wheel, all of which Bulgari has finished and designed with eye-catching contemporary flair. 

Bulgari will make fifty Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph watches, each priced at $142,000.

The new Gerald Genta Arena Bi-Retro Sport

Gérald Genta Arena Bi-Retrograde Sport

This release is the second of the revived Gerald Genta collection dedicated to its namesake, the premiere watch designer of the past fifty years. You might recall that Bulgari debuted the first commemorative Gerald Genta model last year with the 50th Anniversary platinum Arena bi-retro watch. 

That release, first seen in Geneva last year, recalls Bulgari’s acquisition of the Gérald Genta and Daniel Roth brands in 2000, a purchase that has played a significant role in building Bulgari’s haute horlogerie expertise.

Gérald Genta, who died in 2011 at the age of 80, designed many of the icons of modern watch design, including the Universal Genève Polerouter, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the IWC Ingenieur, Cartier’s Pasha, the Omega Constellation, the Bvlgari Bvlgari and the Patek Philippe Nautilus. Many of these designs remain bestsellers for their respective brands.

Like the 2019 Genta release, the 2020 Gérald Genta Arena watch also focuses on the jumping hours display, here framed in titanium instead of the highly polished platinum seen last year. Bulgari places the watch’s characteristic jumping hours in a large window at 12 o’clock while the minutes are tracked on an arc that spans the top half of the matte black dial with brilliant yellow numerals and broad, skeletonized hands.

As with most Genta jumping hour watches of the past, the minute hand travels across the top of the dial, snapping back to zero every sixty minutes. The date is set in a smaller arc at 6 o’clock.

Powered by the BVL 300 Caliber with jumping hours, retrograde minutes (210°) and date (180°), the watch’s bidirectional self-winding movement boasts a 42-hour power reserve and is visible through the clear sapphire case back. Bulgari will match a matte black alligator strap and a titanium buckle with the titanium case.

Price: $14,800.

The three new Bulgari Aluminum watches.

Bulgari Aluminum

A surprising hit when it debuted in 1998, the original Bulgari Aluminum was quickly spotted on the wrists of celebrities and collectors alike. Made of rubber and aluminum, a combination not seen among higher-end Swiss watches previously, the watch was casually sporty and worn by men and women.

An ad for the 1998 Bulgari Aluminum watches.

The new Bulgari Aluminum echoes the original in most respects, from its case and bracelet materials (still aluminum and rubber), its wide, black rubber bezel and its large markers

But for this re-edition, Bulgari has replaced the mechatronic-quartz movement of the earlier model with new automatic movements. Bulgari has placed an ETA-based caliber B77 inside the time-only model and has fit Caliber B130 into the chronograph model.

In addition, Bulgari has reshaped the watch’s lugs to better fit the new 40mm case size, and it has utilized a new aluminum alloy, which Bulgari says is stronger and more resistant to wear than earlier alloys. The rubber quality has also been improved, says Bulgari.

Prices: $2,950 (time only, either dial color), and $4,250 (chronograph)

 

Specifications:

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic

(Limited edition of 50 pieces.)

Movement: Automatic Bulgari manufacture BVL 388 caliber ultra-thin skeleton with automatic winding, chronograph single-push and tourbillon, (3.50 mm thick). 52 hours power reserve, 21,600 vph (3Hz).

Dial: Solid chronograph subdials within skeletonized movement. Round primary bezel with eight-sided and marked inner bezel.

Case: Stepped eight-sided 42mm sandblasted titanium with transparent caseback; 7.40 mm thick, sandblasted titanium crown and push buttons; skeletonized grey matte dial with plain counters. Water-resistant to 30 meters.

Bracelet: Sandblasted titanium with folding buckle.

Bulgari Gérald Genta Arena Bi-Retrograde Sport

Movement: Manufacture mechanical movement bi-retro BVL300 caliber with automatic winding (bidirectional), jumping hours, retrograde minutes (210°) and date (180°). 42 hours power reserve, 28,800 vph (4Hz). thickness: 6.10mm.

Case: 43mm brushed titanium (12 mm thick), water-resistant to 100 meters;

Dial: Black and anthracite dial with yellow indexes and hands.

Bracelet: Matte black alligator strap with titanium buckle.

Bulgari Aluminum

Three-hand models

Movement: Mechanical ETA-based movement with automatic winding and date, B77 caliber, 42 hours of power reserve.

Case: 40mm aluminum with titanium caseback with DLC treatment and rubber bezel, titanium with DLC treatment crown, water-resistant to 100 meters.

Dial: Warm grey or black with SNL indexes and hands

Bracelet: Rubber with aluminum links, aluminum buckle.

Chronograph

Movement: Automatic chronograph with date, B130 caliber, 42 hours of power reserve.

Case: 40mm aluminum with titanium back case, DLC treatment and rubber bezel, titanium with DLC treatment push buttons and crown

Dial: Warm grey with black counters and SNL indexes and hands, water-resistant to 100 meters.

Bracelet: Rubber with aluminum links, Aluminum buckle.

 

By Laurent Martinez

Over the years, I have noticed a recurring pattern with collectors that are new to the vintage watch market. There seems to be a tendency to compulsively buy too many watches at once without clear motivation as to why.

However, it appears that many new collectors who have taken this approach are ready to part with at least half of their new collection only a few months after building it. Perhaps they were attracted to a certain style. Maybe they enjoyed the mystery of discovering something special.

Or maybe they purchased a watch thinking they got a good bargain despite never having seen or heard of the watch before.

I remember meeting a young collector in Paris who wanted to sell his watches. He came to me with bags of timepieces, but he did not really know what he had.

I unfortunately had to let him know that most of his watches were worthless. Out of the one hundred or so timepieces, he only had a few interesting pieces from Croton and Lip.

Of course, this type of collecting can have a serious impact on your wallet. Buying a watch without knowing much about its value ends up being a waste of time and money. It may end up costing you more to fix the watch than it is actually worth. You may not be able to resell the watch for the price you paid for it or worse; you may be unable to sell it at all—even at a loss.

Do your homework

So, how do you start a vintage watch collection? The most important thing to do is to do your homework to build some guidelines. This does not necessarily mean having to spend hundreds of hours researching watches, but at the very least you should invest time into setting some parameters.

For example, define your preferred style. Dressy or sporty? Simple three-handed dial or a more complex chronograph? Stainless steel or gold? Civilian watches or military-issued timepieces? While you may like all of the above, it is always better to start with some restrictions in mind to avoid getting carried away. This approach will narrow your options and give you more focus.

After you have thoughtfully acquired some pieces that fit your initial criteria, then you can expand the parameters.

 

Estimate value

In terms of estimating the value of a watch, you can always visit websites like eBay and Chrono24 for well-known brands to see what people are asking for. Yet, keep in mind that there is a difference between asking price and market price. Listed prices on eBay are a reflection of what people want to sell the watch for and not necessarily what buyers are willing to pay.

You can choose the “Sold Items” filter to see how much a watch was purchased for. What’s more, you have to also consider commission fees, state taxes, and other dues.

If possible, I always recommend going to flea markets, local watch shows or auction events to have the watch in hand before buying. This approach allows you to inspect the details of the watch and speak to the dealer to ask any questions you may have.

Talking to the seller face-to-face will give you a better sense of how accurately priced the watch is. You learn a lot this way, and most importantly doing this can give you a better feeling of what watches you actually like “in the metal.”

Be wary

Buying online can be trickier since some websites are full of retouched images and incorrect information. However, if you have no choice but to buy online, then my advice is to only purchase from a domestic seller. Buying internationally is always riskier whether its complications with shipping and customs or sourcing from regions that are known to be flooded with counterfeit products.

I would also advise purchasing watches that are priced at the lower end of the market rather than the higher end. It is easier to come to terms with making a mistake that costs a few hundred dollars over one that costs a few thousand.

Quartz or automatic?

As always, it is all about the details. For instance, new or vintage quartz watches rarely hold their value as well as mechanical watches. There is hardly any interest in quartz watches in the secondary market. You would fare better with a hand-wound or automatic watch. If you purchase a lower-priced quartz watch, the financial loss would not be too great.

Yet, remember that high-end brands like Breitling and Omega sell quartz watches and these battery-operated timepieces lose tremendous value in the pre-owned market.

Even in the mid-range market, you would be better off buying an automatic Invicta watch instead of a quartz one. I have a friend who collects mid-range priced watches and he is very successful. There is a flourishing market for mid-priced watches and they sell quickly. He is well versed in these particular watches and understands their specifications and how they differ from high-end timepieces. As such, I always try to pick his brain and ask his advice when I am about to get one of them.

Online queries

Another great tool to gain watch knowledge is checking watch forums. There are some very knowledgeable people there that are especially focused on the technical aspects of watchmaking, which can be very helpful. The great thing is that forum members are usually very helpful and willing to share information. Always cross-reference your information with several sources to make sure it is accurate.

When looking at a watch, always start with the basics. I recently saw a watch with chronograph pushers, but the watch had a calendar dial! Obviously, it was a fake.

And sometimes people pretend to know more than they do. A lady contacted me to appraise a watch she bought at a tag sale. Five of her friends told her it was a real Audemars Piguet with a tourbillon.

I had to regretfully inform her that it was not a tourbillon at 6 o’clock, but in fact, a running seconds subdial.

Take your time

In short, educate yourself, ask questions, and take your time. Do not buy on impulse and set a budget for yourself. If you can, see the watch in real life instead of just photos, but if this is not possible, do not be shy to ask for more pictures.

Most importantly, listen to your gut. Keep these tips in mind when building a watch collection and things should go relatively smoothly. Good luck!

Laurent Martinez is the proprietor of Laurent Fine Watches, Greenwich, Connecticut. Read more by him at blog.laurentfinewatches.com or visit his store’s site at www.laurentfinewatches.com

 

Armin Strom this week releases a rose gold version of its Gravity Equal Force, an innovative time-only design with an unusual constant-force mechanism.

The Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force, now with a black dial and a rose gold case, bridges and hands.

The watch, which Armin Strom debuted in steel last year, features an in-house movement that takes a cue from high-precision pocket watches of yore. The watch’s ASB19 automatic movement features a motor barrel (where the mainspring resides) that stays locked after the watch is wound, creating a more precise arbor to rotate and drive the gears that move the watch’s hands.

Effectively, the watchmakers at this independent Swiss atelier added a stop-work de-clutch mechanism to the automatic watch, driving consistent power to the balance.

As Armin Strom explains “it is clear that it is a demonstrably better system as it is more precise and stable during operation of the movement. Armin Strom’s watchmakers built on this idea to create an entirely new watch.”

Retro-futuristic

The Gravity Force debuted with a steel case last year as an update to the Armin Strom Resonance Clutch Spring that first demonstrated the brand’s retro-futuristic approach to delivering constant force within its automatic movement.

This newest rose gold-cased version brings along a bit of luxury to what remains a technically focused watch.

The Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force in a steel case debuted in 2019.

When it debuted, the watch’s 41mm case was a new size for the brand. That size remains on this new model, as do the dominant three bridges that echo the vintage pocket watch inspiration behind the movement’s design. Here the bridges are gold, creating a luxurious contrast with the black dial.

The Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force in rose gold is priced at $26,600.

Specifications: Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force, rose gold
 

Movement: Armin Strom manufacture Caliber ASB19, automatic winding with micro rotor, Geneva-drive equal force barrel, offset display with subdial seconds, balance wheel with 4 regulating screws. Power reserve limited to 72 hours. Frequency: 3.5 Hz (25,200 vph)

Case: 41mm by 12.65mm rose gold, sapphire crystal and caseback with anti-reflective treatment. Water-resistance to 30 meters

Dial: Offset with hours, minutes plus a seconds inner subdial, power reserve indicator subdial, rose gold hands.

Strap: Black alligator leather and 18-karat rose gold ardillon buckle. An 18-karat rose gold double-folding clasp is an option.

Price: $26,600.

 

TAG Heuer has updated its sea-focused Aquaracer collection with two colorful automatic models sporting a so-called tortoise-shell-pattern bezel. In addition, look for new Khaki-colored quartz Aquaracer model with an olive-green aluminum bezel and a matching fabric strap.

The new Aquaracer 43mm Tortoise Shell Effect Special Edition.

The new Aquaracer 43mm Tortoise Shell Effect Special Edition and the new Aquaracer 43 mm Khaki Special Edition watches enhance Aquaracer, TAG Heuer’s dive watch collection known for its 300-meter water resistance rating, unidirectional rotating bezel, luminous markers and hands and easy-to-read dials, as befits an ocean-centric sports watch.

All three of these debuts also feature a 43mm stainless-steel screw-down caseback engraved with the image of a vintage divers’ helmet.

Tortoise-pattern

To set these new models apart from earlier Aquaracers, TAG Heuer has subtly decorated the bezels with blue or brown resin that has been modified to create an interesting pattern that, according to TAG Heuer, mimic the sun’s reflection on the ocean.

Often seen on sunglasses, the tortoise-shell effect is rarely used to decorate watches, and represents TAG Heuer’s first attempt beyond variations in dial patterns to inject a bit of style into the generally sober Aquaracer line.

TAG Heuer even enhances the blue or brown bezels on these two debuts with blue or black sunray-pattern brushed dials with horizontal lines. Like the bezels, the dials can catch and reflect light, effectively doubling the ‘summertime’ focus of the new design.

TAG Heuer adds another novelty here with a rubber strap that features the exterior pattern of another reptile: the alligator.

The unidirectional bezels on both Aquaracer 43 mm Tortoise Shell Effect Special Edition models retain the Aqua-racer’s sixty-minute scale as well as the familiar angled magnifying lens over the date window at 3 o’clock.

The strap is held tight with a folding steel clasp with double safety push buttons. Inside is TAG Heuer’s Caliber 5, the brand’s reliable ETA-based or Sellita-based automatic movement. Price: $2,600 (Available in August).

New quartz Khaki

TAG Heuer’s new quartz-powered Aquaracer 43 mm Khaki Special Edition combines a sturdy olive-hued fabric strap and sharp-looking anthracite sunray brushed dial. And rather than a sun-dappled steel bezel, the watch’s aluminum unidirectional rotating bezel is tinted with a down-to-earth olive hue.

Like the new models above, this quartz debut features a polished and fine-brushed steel case, rhodium-plated and luminous hour, minute and seconds hands and the same angled date window.

Likewise, the back of the watch echoes the Aquaracer standard with a solid caseback engraved with an image of a vintage divers’ helmet. Price: $1,600.

 

Chronoswiss whets a chocolate-lover’s appetite with the latest edition of its Open Gear ReSec, a watch that boasts an interesting retrograde seconds display within an already unusual skeletonized regulator dial layout.

The new Chronoswiss Open Gear ReSec Chocolate

Not only does the Lucerne-based watchmaker dip the watch’s 44mm steel case in a chocolate-colored PVD coating, but it then sprinkles the ‘dial’ with a chili-colored textured red varnish – enhancing its attraction to the horological taste buds.   

Unlike previous iterations of this Chronoswiss best seller, the new Open Gear ReSec Chocolate minimizes distractions with only a very small set of numbers on the dial at the retrograde seconds display. Hours and minutes are displayed more simply with (luminous) markers.

As Maik Panziera, Chronoswiss head of design, explains, the tasty chili and cranberry red dial is actually the watch’s mainplate. “The fine-grained, powdery appearance is achieved by sandblasting a red varnish mixed with a see-through pigment.”

Retrograde display

Named for its premier function (ReSec stands for Retrograde Seconds), the watch’s jumping seconds hand operates in a half-circle, leaping from the thirty seconds position back to start its arc to complete counting each minute.

Chronoswiss places blackened bridges on the dial around the namesake retrograde seconds display. These bridges, which stand out clearly amid the chili red color, support the automatic Chronoswiss caliber C. 301 skeletonized open gear train wheels, which power the regulator hands. In regulator style (where minutes are the focus) the large minute hand circumnavigates the dial while the smaller hour hand is positioned at the 12 o’clock position.

In addition to the regulator layout, the Open Gear ReSec Chocolate features all the expected Chronoswiss design codes, including a three-dimensional dial, onion crown and fluted bezel.

The caseback dispays the Chronoswiss Caliber C.301 automatic movement with skeletonized black rotor with Côtes de Genève finish.

For collectors not sold on this latest horological nugget from Chronoswiss, the watchmaker adds another tasty bonus: Every customer who buys this watch, and also registers for the Chronoswiss three-year international warranty, will also receive a one-year (quarterly) chocolate subscription from Max Chocolatier, the Lucerne shop that inspired the watchmaker’s latest design. Price: $9,900.

 

Specifications: Chronoswiss Open Gear ReSec  Chocolate

Case: 44mm x 13.35mm 17-piece stainless steel case with brown PVD coating and satin finish. Bezel sand-blasted matte with partial knurling and curved, double-coated anti-reflective sapphire crystal, screw-down case back with satin finish and sapphire crystal, onion crown, water resistance up to 100 meters, strap holders screwed down with patented Autobloc system.

Movement: Chronoswiss caliber C. 301, automatic, with stop seconds, skeletonized and galvanic-black-plated with Côtes de Genève and ball bearing, polished pallet lever, escape wheel and screws; bridges and plates with perlage.

Dial: Elaborate 42-part construction on two levels: bottom level red varnish, upper level featuring screwed-on skeletonized train wheel bridges and funnel-like construction for hour display, as well as a retrograde seconds display and cylinder-shaped SuperLuminova indexes. Off-center hours at 12, central minutes, retrograde seconds at 6.

Strap: Calf leather, hand-sewn.

The Open Gear ReSec Chocolate is limited to fifty timepieces. Price: $9,900.

Nomos celebrates 175 years of watchmaking in its hometown of Glashütte, Germany, with three classically styled Nomos Ludwig watches, each offered as a limited edition.

The Nomos Ludwig, a 35mm model powered by the Alpha manual-wind caliber, in its new 175th anniversary celebratory dress.

The watches, each limited to 175 examples, include one 35mm Ludwig with a manual-wind Alpha caliber inside, one Ludwig neomatik 39 with an automatic Caliber DUW 3001 inside, and a Ludwig neomatik Date 41 powered by the automatic Caliber DUW 6101. All these calibers are designed and built by Nomos.

The Nomos Ludwig neomatik 39 175.

Nomos is dressing each celebratory watch in historical Glashütte watchmaking details, which means each features a white enamel dial with Roman numerals separated by slim markers, a small seconds display, and railroad minute markers.

The date model even sports a classical Roman numeral date indicator—a first for Nomos.

The Nomos Ludwig neomatik Date 175, showing thin profile.

These are thin watches (the manual-wind model measures a wispy 6.8mm thick) with classic leaf-shaped tempered blue hands, per Glashütte tradition. All watches announce their reason for being with a sapphire crystal glass back that shows ‘limited-edition’ and “175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte” engravings.

The back view of the 41mm Nomos Ludwig neomatik date 175, showing Caliber DUW 6101.
Detail on Nomos caliber DUW 3001.

Many of the typical Glashütte features Nomos builds into its movements can be seen through the sapphire crystal caseback on each watch. These features include a three-quarter plate, tempered blue screws, ribbed polishing, and Nomos-designed ‘swing system’ escapement.

With only 175 examples of each watch being made, and with offerings at very competitive prices, we expect strong demand for these Nomos debuts.

Prices: $2,260 (Ludwig manual-wind), $3,800 (Ludwig neomatik 39); and $4,200 (Ludwig neomatik 41 Date)