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By Steve Huyton

A few years ago I featured a very special watch called the Crazy Wheel by Franck Dubarry in my “Independent Watchmakers” book. This watch was really a last-minute inclusion because at the time I wasn’t that familiar with the brand.

The original 43mm Franck Dubarry Crazy Wheel, made using titanium, forged carbon and Kevlar.

However, my editor absolutely loved the aesthetic and felt it was a worthy addition. What makes this piece so special is the 360° in-house gravitational flying-hour module, which takes center place on the dial. This amazing mechanism was conceived by specialist watchmaker Dominique Renaud, renowned for his work with high-end brands like Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille.

The Crazy Wheel is available in many versions including a Maori Tattoo version, which is my personal favorite. If you like brands like Audemars Piguet, Hublot and Linde Werdelin, this watch will really hit the spot.

The newest Crazy Wheel Gemma models sport bright colors and gemstones.

Feminine models

Originally, Crazy Wheel was targeted at the masculine and potentially unisex market. However, recently, I received a press release from the brand unveiling a new feminine model called the Crazy Wheel Gemma.

The ‘Crazy Wheel Gemma’ adopts the same 43mm x 50mm geometric case as the original version. A few years ago it would have been inconceivable that a watch this size would appeal to the feminine market. However, times are changing and now certain ladies prefer bolder designs.

To create a softer façade, Franck Dubarry has added precious gems into the composition. There are three new Maori engraved versions (two with bronze cases) with pink sapphire, blue sapphire and green emerald encrusted bezels. These stone perfectly compliment the meticulously finished lacquered colors on the flying-hour module. Prices start at $19,800.

Steve Huyton is an industrial designer, illustrator and author who publishes Total Design Reviews.

 

 

 

 

As football season continues, Accutron reminds collectors that the inspiration watches for two of its new Legacy models drew catchy gridiron nicknames in the 1960s.

The two models, the Accutron 565 and 203, were both initially launched in 1966 and were notable for their distinctive asymmetrical case designs, which accounted in part for their football-related nicknames.

The new Accutron Legacy 565. The original model 565 was known as the ‘Football Cross Hatch’ watch.

One watch, model 565, was known as the ‘Football Cross Hatch’ watch thanks the spiral pattern on its bezel. Likewise, fans called the 203 model the ‘Football Gold Relief’ watch primarily because of its case shape, which somewhat echoes that of the pigskin.

The new Accutron Legacy 203.

Accutron’s Legacy collection, first seen in late 2020, includes newly re-imagined versions of those original watches plus many others from the 1960s and 1970s. For these models (and the full Legacy collection) Accutron wisely resists the modern tendency by watchmakers to upscale retro editions by housing them in larger cases.

New versions

Accutron today adds the distinctive bezel cross hatch pattern to the crown (at 4 o’clock) on the new Legacy 565 ($1,390). This model is 34mm in diameter and features a silver-tone stainless steel case with a three-hand silver white dial, large hour markers and an outer minutes ring.

The new Accutron Legacy 203 ($1,450) offers the same 34mm size case, but with two-tone finish, a three-hand champagne-colored dial, Arabic numerals and thin markers on the outer ring. It’s sold with a brown croco-embossed leather strap with a double-press clasp.

The full Accutron Legacy collection is available online and in select stores with each design limited to 600 watches. All models feature sapphire crystals, a Sellita-based automatic movement and are water resistant to 30 meters.

All Accutron Legacy watches are priced at less than $1,500. Most retain what are now called 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.

 

Frederique Constant adds a tourbillon to its perpetual calendar to create the new Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Manufacture, a handsome 41mm complication available in a steel case or a rose gold case. And to underscore the Geneva-based watchmaker’s long-held mission to offer affordably priced fine Swiss watches, the steel model is priced just under $23,000.

The new Frederique Constant Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Manufacture, in steel.

For years Frederique Constant’s complicated watches, such as its flyback chronograph, in-house perpetual calendar and its manufacture tourbillon, have attracted collectors in search of affordably priced, classically styled Swiss watchmaking. Few (if any) Swiss in-house manufacturing watchmakers can boast a collection with a comparable set of complicated watches at the same price levels.

The new Frederique Constant Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Manufacture, with gold case.

The new Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Manufacture combines the brand’s existing know-how as found in its own manufacture tourbillon and stand-alone perpetual calendar. The new watch displays the date, day and month in three subdials along the top of the dial, echoing the existing Highlife Perpetual Calendar.

Frederique Constant replaces that model’s moonphase indicator with its manufacture tourbillon at the subdial located at 6 o’clock. I especially like the subdial at 12 o’clock that displays the month with the large hand and the leap year indication with a smaller hand. To balance this somewhat top-heavy design, Frederique Constant deftly places its own tourbillon with silicon escapement (the escape wheel and the lever) to add symmetry to the dial. The tourbillon displays seconds with its central hand.

Frederique Constant offers two blue-accented versions of the new watch, one more luxurious in a rose gold case and the other framed in steel. Both allow the wearer to enjoy a view into the FC-975 Manufacture caliber and its blued screws, perlage and Côtes de Genève finishes. If you look closer at the dial on either watch, you’ll see another nicely executed design detail: anti-reflective recessed perpetual calendar displays that ensure a quicker, more enjoyable read.

Frederique Constant notes that it offers collectors options to customize the individually numbered steel and rose gold editions of the new watch. Each one comes with two interchangeable straps. The rose gold version comes with a topstitched alligator leather strap and a second rubber strap. The same rubber strap also comes with the steel watch, which arrives on a bracelet with a three-link design and a folding buckle.

Prices: $39,995 (rose gold case) and $22,995 (steel case and bracelet).

 

Specifications: Frederique Constant Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Manufacture

(Steel-cased model, reference FC-975N4NH6B, limited to 88 pieces)

Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, day, month, leap year.

Movement: FC-975 caliber, automatic, tourbillon, perpetual calendar perlage, drafted marks and Côtes de Genève decorations, 38-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph, silicon escapement wheel and anchor.

Case: 41mm by 12.65mm brushed and polished stainless steel 3-part. Front convex sapphire crystal, see-through case back, water-resistant to 30 meters.

Dial: Skeleton with
Navy blue outer ring with white printed second markers.
Hand-polished silvered color with white luminous treatment hour and minute hands.
Navy blue day counter at 9 o’clock with hand-polished silvered color hand. Navy blue month and year counter at 12 o’clock with hand-polished silvered color hands.
Navy blue date counter at 3 o’clock with hand-polished silvered color hand. Open tourbillon cage at 6 o’clock with hand-polished silvered color second hand.

Strap: Brushed and polished stainless steel 3-link bracelet including an additional navy blue rubber strap.

Price: $22,995

 

Specifications: Frederique Constant Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Manufacture

(Rose gold edition, reference FC-975N4NH9, limited to 30 pieces)

Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, day, month, leap year.

Movement: FC-975 caliber, automatic, tourbillon, perpetual calendar perlage, drafted marks and Côtes de Genève decorations, 38-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph, silicon escapement wheel and anchor.

Case: 41mm by 12.65mm brushed and polished rose gold three-part. Front convex sapphire crystal, see-through case back, water-resistant to 30 meters.

Dial: Skeleton with Navy blue outer ring with white printed second markers.
Hand-polished rose gold-plated with white luminous treatment hour and minute hands.
Navy blue day counter at 9 o’clock with hand-polished rose gold-plated hand. Navy blue month and year counter at 12 o’clock with hand-polished rose gold-plated hands. Navy blue date counter at 3 o’clock with hand-polished rose gold-plated hand. Open tourbillon’s cage at 6 o’clock with hand-polished rose gold-plated seconds hand.

Strap: Navy blue alligator leather strap with nubuck finishing including an additional navy blue rubber strap

Price: $39,995

 

Franck Muller now offers metal bracelet options for the first time for its top-selling Vanguard collection.

The tonneau-shaped Vanguard collection, which includes a wide range of the Geneva watchmaker’s primarily sporty models on leather or textile straps, can now be attached to the wrist with a bracelet composed and finished with either brushed steel, polished steel, brushed titanium and black brushed titanium.

Franck Muller will make the polished and brushed link bracelets to fit into the two different Vanguard case sizes, 41 mm and 45mm.

The firm’s technicians have also developed a fine adjustment system that allow the bracelet to be sized to fit proportionally and ‘perfectly’ on the wrist, according to Franck Muller. Links can be quickly removed or added to lengthen or shorten the bracelet.

Zenith launches two jeweled versions of its blockbuster Chronomaster Original, the brand’s retro-inspired chronograph designed to commemorate the groundbreaking Zenith A386 steel El Primero from 1969.

The latest iteration offers the watch with either a multicolored mother-of-pearl dial or taupe tri-color dial, each set with fifty-six diamonds on the lugs. Both steel-cased watches remain 38mm in diameter, enhancing their unisex appeal.

The new Zenith Chronomaster Original, now available set with diamonds and a mother-of-pearl dial.

The model with the tri-color dial exhibits its grey and blue hues rendered in mother-of-pearl. Zenith uses four different colors of mother-of-pearl, including a white mother-of-pearl for the dial, two shades of blue for the chronograph counters and grey mother-of-pearl for the ongoing seconds.

The second version of this latest Chronomaster Original offers three tones of brown in the same signature layout against a satin-white dial. Both dials are set with diamonds for the hour markers.

Zenith pairs both models with soft calfskin leather straps in either light blue or taupe with tone-on-tone stitching to matching the respective dials.

Inside Zenith retains the the El Primero 3600, the latest version of Zenith’s famed high-beat chronograph caliber with column wheel. While the new movement beats at the same high frequency of 5Hz (36,000 vph) as its predecessors, the new generation displays 1/10th of a second chronograph on the dial with the central chronograph hand rotating once every ten seconds. The caliber also now offers a full sixty hours of power reserve.

Prices: $12,800 (brown dial with taupe calfskin leather strap) and $13,000 (blue dial with light blue calfskin leather strap).

 

Hublot extends its partnership with men’s fashion house Berluti with the new Big Bang Unico Berluti Aluminio, a 44mm limited edition flyback chronograph that elegantly melds leather and titanium.

The new Hublot Big Bang Unico Berluti Aluminio.

Once again Hublot utilizes its Unico collection for this latest Berluti collaboration. The series has deftly displayed fine leather from the French menswear maker within the dressy Unico dials in a variety of imaginative and stylish configurations since the series launched in 2016.

For this latest edition, Hublot again sets Berluti leather between two sapphire glass pieces. The dial’s indexes and “Swiss Made” declaration are heat pressed (gauffered) directly on the leather’s surface.

This model, per its name, features Berluti’s signature Aluminio patina, which will wear to reflect light in varying light grey tones. The result creates a more monochrome appearance than we’ve seen in previous Hublot/Berluti collaborations.

Leather bezel

Berluti leather also highlights the bezel. Using a sticky resin, artisans attach a 1mm-thick piece of the Berluti leather onto the grey titanium bezel, which is then screwed onto the case. This means that, in time, the bezel will wear to create an individualized patina that will match the Berluti leather strap.

Hublot plans to offer the strap in two versions: one in burnished Aluminio Venezia leather; another in patinated Aluminio Venezia leather with the Scritto motif, exclusively for Japan.

Hublot says its titanium case and choice of case and movement materials on the new Big Bang Unico Berluti Aluminio are also meant to match the leather’s eventual patina. These materials include titanium for the case and the strap’s deployant clasp, resin for the central lug, tungsten for the oscillating weight, and satin-finished rhodium for the hands.

Hublot exposes its Unico movement through the dial, framing gears and wheels with the hand-cut Aluminio leather. This movement, Hublot’s MHUB1280, features a flyback function with column wheel and an impressive 72-hour power reserve.

Hublot will the deliver the 100-piece limited-edition Big Bang Unico Berluti Aluminio in a special case with a travel pouch and a shoehorn key ring with the Berluti logo. Price: $25,200.

Specifications: Hublot Big Bang Unico Berluti Aluminio

(Reference 421.NX.0500.VR.BER21, limited to 100 pieces)

Dial: Genuine patinated Venezia leather by Berluti with indices in relief and words Swiss Made.

Case: 44mm by 15.45mm satin-finished and polished titanium. Water resistance is 100 meters. On sapphire back: satin-finished titanium etched with LIMITED EDITION 100NUM and BERLUTI. Satin-finished and polished titanium bezel with a genuine patinated Venezia leather insert by Berluti.

Movement: Hublot MHUB1280
Self-winding UNICO Manufacture chronograph flyback movement with column wheel. Frequency: 4 Hz (28,800 A/h), power reserve is 72 hours.

Strap: Black rubber and genuine patinated Venezia leather by Berluti,, titanium deployant buckle.

Price: $25,200

 

Bell & Boss expands its BR 05 collection with two models that offer luxurious options within the BR 05 design, which features a round-edged square case, wide bezel and round dial notably held together with a fully integrated bracelet.

The new Bell & Ross BR 05 Skeleton Gold, here on a black rubber strap.

One model, the BR 05 Skeleton, is now available with a full gold 40mm case and gold bracelet. While we’ve seen gold models within the BR 05 collection, this debut finds the skeletonized version with the precious dress for the first time.

This new gold case underscores the BR 05’s mono-case design. Fully 155 grams of gold encase the openwork dial, which gleams with its own gilded attributes.

All the dial’s appliqué indexes and skeletonized hour and minutes hands are coated with gold, as is the movement itself. Bell & Ross then smartly inlays a strip of white SuperLuminova on the hands and indexes with to enhance nighttime visibility.

The movement, a Sellita-based Bell & Ross BR-CAL.322, is wound by a 360° rose gold-plated oscillating weight that has been open-worked. And finally Bell & Ross and imprinted a metallized logo on the watch’s sapphire case-back.

Bell & Ross will make ninety-nine BR 05 Skeleton Gold models with the new gold case. The watch will be offered on the integrated gold bracelet ($34,700) and also with a black rubber strap ($23,700).

BR 05 Diamond

Those who prefer diamonds to gold for their luxury statement can now choose from among three steel-cased Bell & Ross BR 05 Diamond models, which sport the gem set into the bezel around a sunray black BR 05 three-hand dial with date.

The new Bell & Ross BR 05 Diamond, here on a rubber strap.

Bell& Ross offers three options, all with a fully diamond-set bezel. One model sports a black rubber strap ($10,700) while another attaches a steel bracelet ($11,200). The third new Bell & Ross BR 05 Diamond adds includes the steel bracelet but also adds diamonds to the bracelet’s central links ($21,500).

Inside Bell & Ross places its automatic Sellita-based BR-CAL.321 wound with a 360° oscillating weight visible through a sapphire back.

 

One look at this instrument/tool watch and it’s not a surprise that the Mühle-Glashütte S.A.R. Rescue-Timer has been equipping the maritime rescue workers of the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service (DGzRS) since 2002.

The Mühle-Glashütte S.A.R. Rescue-Timer Lumen.

One of its key virtues is the ability to easily read the time during night rescue missions. On-board lighting on sea rescue missions is typically kept at a minimum to allow night the best night vision possible while at sea. The S.A.R. Rescue-Timer features over-size hands and indices fully coated in layers of SuperLumiNova to shine the time even in pitch-black conditions.

The new version of the Mühle-Glashütte S.A.R. Rescue-Timer Lumen takes its name from that same luminosity now on the entire dial, providing a bright backdrop for its skeleton black hands.

Built like a tank and equipped with an impressive 4mm-thick scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, the 42mm stainless steel case features a screw-down back and crown with a confirmed, superior water resistance rating of 1,000 meters.

Three strap options are available to hold the watch in place including the popular rubber, dressier stainless, and now a fabric strap sporting the colors of the watch.

Inside beats a Sellita SW-200 regulated in six positions and customized with a woodpecker neck regulation system to achieve a 0 to +8 seconds per day rate. This is a slightly different chronometer standard that allows for a bit faster running – but never slower as compared to the typical Swiss -4 + 6 COSC standards. Price: $2,499. Available at  www.oldnortheastjewelers.com.

By Gary Girdvainis

Max is back and minimal is original. Sixty years after the launch of the Max Bill Automatic, Junghans has revisited not only that minimalistic design, but has dared to offer it in the authentic 34mm original size.

An original Max Bill watch from 1961 (left) and a new model, with date. Both are 34mm in diameter.

Tiny by today’s standards (for a men’s watch), the 34mm watch is powered by an automatic movement under a dial bereft of excess – or anything distracting, except, for some, a date display. Two dial options offer a choice between an numeral-free edition or a model with Arabic numerals in a fine font.

Whether with simple stick markers or Arabic numerals, the austere dial keeps the smaller size from feeling too crowded, while the almost-nonexistent bezel adds volume and expanse to the scant case.

Water resistance is nominal at 30 meters and good for splashes and rain, while a double-coated sapphire crystal reaches to the very perimeter of the case. A truly unisex watch, the modern rendition ranges in price from $1,095 to $1,195 depending on the case finish and strap or bracelet choice.

We continue to highlight a few of our favorite watches from among the more than fifty watchmakers that have created timepieces for the Only Watch charity auction, which commences Saturday, November 6, in Geneva. Christie’s will auction these incredible watches to raise funds that benefit research in the battle against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

While you may have seen a few of the watches set for auction earlier this year when Only Watch announced them, we thought you’d enjoy seeing many of these inspired designed again just ahead of the event.

Click here for details about the Only Watch world tour, which begins September 22.

Today, we highlight the offering from Zenith, which has teamed with artist Felipe Pantone for a spectacular special edition of its Defy 21 Double Tourbillon, which here is cased entirely of transparent sapphire crystal ­– a first for any watch in the Zenith Defy collection.

This watch, based on one of Zenith’s most complicated chronographs, is regulated by two independent tourbillons. They operate at five hertz (for the timekeeping function) and fifty hertz (for the 1/100th of a second chronograph). Pantone has transferred his own style to Zenith’s movement’s decoration and the open dial.

As Zenith explains, it has coated the bridges to reflect a gradient of metallic rainbow tones, marking the first time we’ve seen three-dimensional PVD with silicon particles as a surface treatment on a tourbillon chronograph movement. This produces an-eye-catching spectrum of colors. Zenith then fixes its movement within a case given the same rainbow effect. The caseback sports a similar rainbow PVD coating on the bridges, where “Unique Piece” is engraved on one of them under the blackened star-shaped winding rotor.

Pantone then distorts the central hour and minute hands to resemble lightning bolts. Echoing the movement, Zenith applies a rainbow gradient of colors in PVD to the hands, while each of the applied hour markers is filled with a different color. Zenith and Pantone create a crazy moiré optical effect on the dial, produced by thin alternating white and black using fine laser-engraving and precise lacquering techniques.

Finally, Zenith will package the watch in a special box resembling an art book and add an original signed artwork by Felipe Pantone.

Only Watch auction estimate: CHF 180,000 – 220,000.