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Citizen has updated and expanded its Series 8 collection, a popularly priced set of sporty steel watches previously sold only in Japan, and will offer them in the U.S. market.

With two models soon to be available in North America, Series 8 watches boast 40mm steel cases, strong anti-magnetic properties, three-hands with date and updated automatic movements. Alongside The Citizen, a 40mm steel watch set with Citizen’s impressive new automatic Caliber 0200, the Series 8 marks Citizen’s strongest entry into the U.S. mechanical sport watch market in many years.

From the new Citizen Series 8, this is the 40mm 870 Mechanical.

While Citizen has a long history as a manufacturer of mechanical movements, the company in recent years has focused much of its marketing and distribution efforts on its light-powered Eco-Drive technology. For U.S. buyers, Citizen’s Miyota mechanical movements are more likely found powering watches made elsewhere than within Citizen’s current U.S. lineup. For instance, Bulova, owned by Citizen, and many independent bands utilize Citizen-manufactured automatic movements. 

Look for Citizen to draw new attention to its own extensive history as a manufacturer of mechanical watches as it launches Series 8 and The Citizen within the United States.

The watches

Citizen will offer two models within Series 8 this fall. One, the 870 Mechanical, is a sporty round watch with a two-part bezel, which sets it apart from the second model, the 831 Mechanical, which features an octagonal case and one-piece bezel.

Citizen’s new 870 Mechanical is a sporty round watch with a two-part bezel.

The 870’s case is finished using both hairline and mirror finishes, and its dial is set with larger hands and markers than the 831 models. As a result, it’s the cleanest of the new Series 8 designs, with a focus on high visibility and casual sportiness, especially with its steel bracelet integrated directly into the steel case.

The automatic Citizen Caliber 0950 that powers this model offers the stronger specifications of the two Series 8 movements. It is rated to -5 /+10 seconds per day, and will operate for fifty hours on a full wind. Look for the 870 with either a black or a white dial.

Citizen’s automatic Cal. 0950 is found in model 870.

The 831 Mechanical offers a somewhat thinner octagonal case with crown protector, and a blue-dialed option.

The 831 Mechanical, with gold-tone case.

The latter, in a gold-tone steel case, arrives on a more leisurely blue calf leather strap. The automatic Citizen Caliber 9051 that powers this model is rated to -10 /+20 seconds per day, and will operate for forty-two hours on a full wind. Both watches are rated water resistant to 100 meters.

The new Citizen 831 Mechanical.

The 830 Mechanical

A third Series 8 model, the 830 Mechanical, is not scheduled to be offered by Citizen in the United States. This model adds a more complex dial to the same octagonal case used by the 831. It features a new sandwich-style dial with mother-of-pearl, mesh and metal layers.

The new 830 Mechanical, sold only in Japan, features a three-layered dial with mother-of-pearl and metal layers.

If the 830 appeals to your sense of style, you’ll have to search your overseas sources to purchase one. Thus far, the Citizen’s U.S. division has announced that it will only bring the Model 831 and 870 to the domestic U.S. market.

The movements   

Citizen notes that both the movements in the Series 8 offerings have been upgraded recently to provide enhanced magnetic resistance, and both are significantly thinner than earlier versions, even with the anti-magnetic upgrade.

Citizen explains “the watches also have enhanced magnetic resistance essential for our modern digital lives by providing protection against magnetic fields generated by smartphones, tablets, and other devices that can affect the accuracy of the watch.”

The new 831 Mechanical.

Prices: $1,500 (870 Mechanical), $1,000 (831 Mechanical) and $950 (831 Mechanical, with gold-tone case and blue leather strap). Citizen will make the Series 8 models available this fall.   

Originally launched as a quartz watch, Maurice Lacroix’s archetypal Aikon series’ latest edition features an option with 
an automatic Swiss movement inside. The Aikon Venturer truly allows its wearer to venture because it is built rock-solid and is anti-magnetic, shock resistant and rated water resistant to an impressive three hundred meters.

The Maurice Lacroix Aikon Venturer

The watch’s sporty look and diver-style overtones instill the robust feeling of a tool watch, but with style enough to wear anytime. At 43mm in diameter, the sapphire-capped stainless-steel case is full-figured but not huge, and actually quite comfortable on the wrist with either the solid-link bracelet or natural rubber strap.

With the brand’s deep technical background as a case maker and private label supplier to other (famous) Swiss brands, you can be sure that the Aikon is built with all the fine details that define a high quality watch.

Close inspection under a loupe reveals the finite perfection of those details that the naked eye appreciates as a whole, but may not individually dissect at a glance. Markers and printing are precise, as is the fit and finish of the bezel, strap, and case back.

Maurice Lacroix smartly adds convenience to the Aikon’s stylish design with a strap fixed to the lugs by means of the brand’s own Easy Change system, which has two bars fitted with protruding prongs. These make it possible to remove the rubber strap in two steps and to replace it with the finely articulated five-link satin-finished steel bracelet we’ve seen in earlier Aikon models.

Priced at $1,890 on the rubber strap and $1,990 on the solid-link stainless steel bracelet, the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Venturer is pound for pound (or dollar for dollar) as good or better than certain Greek Alphabet watches costing more than triple the price.

 

If the design of this watch feels somehow familiar, you won’t be surprised to learn that Detroit Watch co-designers Patrick and Amy Ayoub have once again applied their classical blueprint to their American-based brand.

The Pontchartrain Louis XIV model from the Detroit Watch Pontchartrain collection. A version with a moonphase display is also available.

Two variations of the brand’s new stand-alone Pontchartrain collection are housed in an elegantly stepped 42mm stainless steel case. Both feature automatic ETA Swiss-made movements, one with a sub-second and the other with a choice of silver or gold moon-phase complication.

All the qualities you’d expect in a high-quality, high-value watch are here, including sapphire crystal, exhibition back, superior decoration on the Swiss movement and a calfskin strap, which all come together to make a fine watch. Under the loupe the hands are as superb as the dials, and even the crown looks, feels and functions beautifully.

Those outside the Detroit area might ask why “Pontchartrain” for a Detroit-based brand? The Ayoubs chose this name to recall the historic fort that was built in 1701 and actually ended up applying its name to the city. France’s King Louis XIV commissioned Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit as the first permanent French settlement in the area and as a center for the fur trade and French military power in 1701.

Built along the Detroit River in order to protect the French trade from the British, the fort was named in honor of Louis XIV’s minister of marine and colonies, Louis Phélypeaux de Pontchartrain. Le Detroit, French for ‘the strait’ eventually came to identify Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit and the surrounding area and after 1751, was known simply as Fort Detroit.

The Ponchartrain limited edition Louis XlV.

A nice watch – and a history lesson.

Price: $1,295, available at www.detroitwatchco.com.

Just in time for the holiday season, A. Lange & Söhne adds sparkle to two models within its Saxonia collection.

First, the Glashütte-based watchmaker is debuting its newest Saxonia Thin with a solid-silver dial coated with shimmering black gold flux. The newest model reprises the glittery aspect of the much-discussed blue-gold flux dial first seen on the Saxonia Thin from 2018.

The new A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin with a solid-silver dial coated with shimmering black gold flux. Limited to 50 pieces.

The newest edition is one millimeter larger in diameter (40mm versus 39mm for the blue flux dial version) but maintains the same 6.2mm thickness, slim hour and minute hands and applied baton-style markers. The new model’s unusual black gold flux dial shimmers thanks to tiny copper-colored particles, which make the deep-black surface sparkle.

A.Lange & Söhne explains that the production process for gold flux was discovered during the 17thcentury in Venice. The glass and its copper constituents are heated, forming microscopically small copper crystals. Artisans must then carefully cast the material onto the silver dial in order to maintain an even, homogeneous surface.

A. Lange & Söhne places the very thin (2.9mm) manual-wind wound caliber L093.1 inside the Saxonia Thin.

Inside, A. Lange & Söhne places the very thin (2.9mm) manual-wind wound caliber L093.1, A. Lange & Söhne’s thinnest movement that, despite its compact size, offers a power reserve of three days.

Like the blue version, the new black gold-flux dial on this Saxonia Thin is a premiere for any A. Lange & Söhne watch. The new model, unlike the earlier piece, is a limited edition, with fifty pieces on offer. Price: $25,800.

Saxonia Outsize Date

The watchmaker’s other dial update finds the A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Outsize Date now available with a silver-colored dial, offered on 38.5mm white gold or a pink gold case (above). This addition complements the existing black-dialed options.

The new A. Lange & Sohne Saxonai Outsize Date, here in white gold with an silver-colored dial.

You might recall that this collection highlights its otherwise minimalistic dial with a large presentation of the date near the top of the dial. Made specifically to enhance visibility, the large date indicator (a touchstone display for the brand) is unusual in that it utilizes two separate display surfaces for the units and tens and is at least twice as large as in watches of a comparable size.

A. Lange & Söhne balances the date with a subsidiary seconds dial at the 6 o’clock position. The watchmaker has developed its automatic L086.8 movement with a particularly strong mainspring barrel in order to deliver an impressive power reserve of 72 hours. Price: $27,700.

The new Saxonia Outsize Date (two models, at left) and the new Saxonia Thin.

As we noted last week, Parmigiani Fleurier celebrated the 70th birthday of its founder, watchmaker Michel Parmigiani, with a seventy-piece limited edition steel Toric Heritage watch in honor of the first watch he designed.

The new Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Heritage, a limited edition of 70.

The new watch’s blue dial is decorated with eye-catching, radiating Grain d’Orge guilloché, a pattern also found on the gold rotor. Inside, the in-house COSC-certified Caliber PF441 features two barrels and seven hand-beveled bridges.

As is standard with Parmigiani Fleurier, the movement within the 42.8mm steel-cased watch is finished to haute horlogerie standards, with Côtes de Genève stripes, spiral-wound and circular-graining on the plates alone. The watch’s solid 22-karat rose gold rotor, visible through the clear sapphire caseback, features the same Grain d’Orge guilloché engraving seen on the dial.

The watch’s solid 22-karat rose gold rotor, visible through the clear sapphire caseback, features the same Grain d’Orge guilloché engraving seen on the dial.

The Founder

The company chose to echo its founder’s first watch in large part because the Toric design (which was updated in 2017) reflects Michel Parmigiani’s own history and interests.

Michel Parmigiani was born in the Swiss canton of Neuchatel and grew up with a devotion to both watchmaking and architecture. He has described the Toric case as a design inspire by the famed Fibonacci mathematical sequence and by the Golden Ratio that has inspired thousands of years of art and architecture.

Toric collection sketch by Michel Parmigiani.

According to Parmigiani, every aspect of the Toric’s design starts with the Golden Ratio, including the relationship between the hands, the fluted angles in the crown, the length-to-width ratios, the rate of curvature of the lugs as they taper away from the case, even the caseback design and placement of the sapphire crystal.

While he opted to formally study watchmaking (at the Val-de-Travers watchmaking school in the La Chaux-de-Fonds Technicum) Parmigiani started his career restoring historical clocks, pocket watches and related objects. Among the clients who came to Michel for restoration and maintenance was Switzerland’s Sandoz Family Foundation, which owned a significant collection of historical automata and clocks.

Michel Parmigiani was in the 4th year of his watchmaking studies in 1967, when this picture was taken.

Parmigiani eventually established his own restoration workshop, attracting a list of haute horlogerie clients that also included the Patek Philippe museum.

“I remember feeling a bit like a pariah, starting this adventure against all advice,” Parmigiani says in a press release. “Restoring antique timepieces saved me from nihilism. Working, as I was during this period, on so many wonders from times gone by, made the idea that traditional watchmaking might disappear absolutely unthinkable to me. Restoration gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my watchmaking dreams, despite the naysayers.”

Parmigiani Fleurier headquarters in Fleurier.

The Sandoz foundation encouraged Parmigiani to create his own watch brand­– with their full support. This was the beginning of Parmigiani Fleurier, which launched in 1996.

Today, Parmigiani Fleurier encompasses five specialized Swiss firms. Each of the factories also produces parts for other haute horlogerie clients, including La Montre Hermès, the watchmaking division of the celebrated French leather goods house, which is a co-owner of the Vaucher movement manufacturer.

Parmigiani Fleurier will make seventy examples of the new Toric Heritage watch. Price: $17,700.

The movement within the 42.8mm steel-cased watch is finished to haute horlogerie standards.

Specifications: Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Heritage

(Ref. PFC909-0000300-HA3282, a limited edition of 70).

Case: 42.8mm by 10mm polished steel, sapphire crystal and back, individually numbered, 30-meters of water resistance.

Dial: Blue Grain d’Orge guilloché, indexes are rhodium-plated 18-karat gold, javelin-shaped hands with luminescent coating.

Movement: In-house PF441 automatic, two barrels, 28,800 vph, 55-hour power reserve, 22-karat solid gold rotor with guilloche finish.

Strap:  Hermès Abyss Blue alligator strap with steel folding clasp.

Price: $17,700.

 

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.

 

By Laurent Martinez

I would like to share a hopeful story with you about an American Master Watchmaker working to achieve his lifelong dream.

For the past forty-five years, Don Loke has enjoyed a long and successful career as a professional master watchmaker and most recently has launched D Loke, his eponymous bespoke watch collection.

Loke’s deep watchmaking training and industry history has prepared him well for this most recent venture.

The watchmaker

Don Loke graduated in 1978 from the Bowman Technical School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and then worked with a master watchmaker in Meriden, Connecticut.

Master watchmaker Don Loke at his atelier in Connecticut .

After this experience, he went back to Bowman and took clock making courses to finally finish in 1984. After Lancaster, Loke attended WOSTEP, the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program, in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, where he graduated first in his class.

Learning from Masters

While he was at school he met Michel Parmigiani and Philippe Dufour—two master watchmakers and renowned personalities in the Swiss luxury watch industry.

This was just the beginning. Post-graduation, he was invited by Breguet and Jaeger-LeCoultre for training in Switzerland and became the official after-sale person for Breguet in the U.S. when it was still owned by Chaumet. He also worked for two years with Master Watchmaker Dennis Harmon, in Waterbury, Connecticut, after which he became Technical Director of movement maker ETA for the American market. Loke soon joined UTAC Americas (which distributed Audemars Piguet, Breguet, Bertolucci, and Girard-Perregaux) as its technical director.

During this time, Loke also learned from Master Watchmaker Daniel Roth in Switzerland, who taught him the ins-and-outs of the highly complex tourbillon mechanism. By the mid-1990s, Loke worked with prominent companies such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Gerald Genta, and Daniel Roth.

Loke served as U.S. representative for Parmigiani Fleurier in the U.S. for more than six years.

When Loke found out that Michel Parmigiani was striking out on his own, Loke reached out to his old friend and eventually became the U.S. representative for Parmigiani Fleurier for more than six years. Don even interacted with legendary horologist George Daniels, discussing his new escapement and the double-wheel escapement Loke eventually developed. After seven years, he turned the escapement into a Solidworks program.

George Daniels and Don Loke

High-level services

When Don Loke is not working on his own bespoke projects, he services incredible watches, ranging from minute repeaters to chronographs. He also restores intricate timepieces that require special attention, recreating parts from scratch to make identical versions of the original components. At the same time, he currently is in charge of the North American Service Center for Louis Moinet—a brand that makes exceptional watches that range between $80,000 and $350,000.

Loke currently is in charge of the North American Service Center for Louis Moinet. Pictured is the Louis Moinet Memoris Red Eclipse.

As you can see, Loke’s specialty is working on high-complication timepieces and his passion for watches and watchmaking has only augmented over the decades. 

Own brand: D Loke

After all these years of dedicating his time to other brands and watches, Don Loke recently began to make eponymous bespoke watches. He established two shops. One is the “clean room” to house machinery for fine turnings, cuttings, wheel making, and pinion producing. He has a microscope for measuring, a guilloché machine with forty-two discs for dial decorating, and an oven for enameling.

Loke at his workshop.

This room is also where Don Loke stores his sketches, drawing, layouts, and 3D modeling. The other is the “dirty room” for more heavy type work. Prototyping takes place at his shops and production models are executed with CNC technology.

Loke’s guilloche machine.

Dress chronographs

The first D Loke watch model is a chronograph dress watch—an idea Don Loke stored in the back of his mind for decades—where the chronograph pushers are hidden from sight.

Inside the 5 ATM water-resistant titanium case is a dial with asymmetric sub-dials and ornately cut center hands resembling blades. The rich blue details on the dial change color depending on the light, and there’s a crown at 9 o’clock to rotate the inner timing bezel.

Two D Loke dress chronographs.

The limited edition D Loke dress chronographs run on chronometer-rated Concepto calibers, a hybrid Swiss movement based on the ETA Valjoux 7750.

The Concepto Cal. 8100 (quality 1) decorated movement regulated by Loke to chronometer standards.

The watches took six months from design to manufacturing, and while the watch is made in Switzerland, the quality control and finishing are done in the U.S. There are twenty-five examples of the white-dial version, twenty-five examples of the white dial (with a blue bezel) version, and 300 examples of the blue dial version.

Although the watches are currently only available for purchase directly from Don Loke, his goal is to be in stores like Manfredi Jewels or Betteridge.

D Loke dress chronograph on the wrist.

Second model

Loke is already working on his second watch model and is currently completing the prototype of a new lever escapement. At the heart of the watch will be a 100% proprietary movement, based on Don Loke’s design and technical drawings – his very own invention.

Loke says he will source handmade gold dials from J.N. Shapiro in California. As a result, this will be a handmade watch made entirely in the United States. Don expects to manufacture five prototypes in the first year and he will become the first American watchmaker to make his own high-end watch powered by his own movement. The aim is to present this timepiece to the U.S. market by the end of 2020 with a price tag of $65,000 to $75,000.

Daniels connection

The third D Loke watch model will be a model with a double pivoted and spring detente escapement—invented by Don Loke based on conversations he had with George Daniels.

Yet again, this is his invention, with designs and technical drawings built from scratch. With already twenty-five orders in the books for this upcoming watch model, the American market should see it by the second quarter of 2021 with a price tag of $175,000.

Ultimately, it is Don’s dream to have his own watch on his wrist. Another goal of his is to bring his three children into the business. All are highly skilled engineers.

With all of these ideas and designs, including a future tourbillon piece, Loke is going to need plenty of talent and skill.

I love this spirit of entrepreneurship, and I wish Don Loke the very best and abundant success with his new company. Stay tuned for the end of the year when he unveils his new watches.

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

 

Japanese designer Hiroshi Fujiwara has teamed with TAG Heuer once again to design a limited edition watch based on TAG Heuer’s sporty Formula 1 model fit with the Caliber Heuer 02 chronograph movement.

The new TAG Heuer X Fragment Design Chronograph Limited Edition.

The new TAG Heuer X Fragment Design Chronograph Limited Edition combines Fujiwara’s streetwear designs with TAG Heuer’s technical expertise and current Formula 1 case, a design based on a cushion-shaped case TAG Heuer used in the late 1960s and 1970s.

The resulting chronograph watch features a less cluttered dial design than those found on the  TAG Heuer Formula 1 models. Fujiwara utilizes a retro-inspired two-subdial layout and then subtly customizes it with red accents and small white lettering and logos.

Fujiwara teamed with TAG Heuer in 2018 to put his designer touch on a Carrera, where TAG Heuer more typically utilizes its advanced in-house Heuer 02 Chronograph movement, most often in a three-subdial layout.  

Fragment influences

Japanese designer Hiroshi Fujiwara, founder of Fragment Design.

The 44m steel TAG Heuer Formula 1 case retains the collection’s black ceramic tachymeter bezel, but replaces standard markers with small red squares, with two squares at the top of the dial in place of the Formula 1’s familiar ‘12’ marker. Just below the two red squares Fujiwara places his Fragment Design logo, with ‘Fragment’ printed on the dial between the 4 and 5 o’clock positions.  

A circular red sapphire crystal window on the caseback displays the automatic column-wheel chronograph movement with a red overlay that also features the dual-lightning logo of Fragment Design, the influential design house Fujiwara founded in 2003.

The new watch arrives with a five-row steel bracelet with a folding clasp. TAG Heuer is engraving each watch with a unique limited-edition number from 1 to 500.

The new TAG Heuer X Fragment Design Chronograph Limited Edition will be available to pre-order from www.tagheuer.com and in select TAG Heuer boutiques before going on sale on July 27. As a limited edition of 500 pieces, and with the Fragment Design collaboration, expect strong demand. Price: $6,150.

 

Specifications: TAG Heuer X Fragment Design Chronograph Limited Edition

Movement: Automatic Caliber Heuer 02 with column-wheel chronograph and vertical clutch, 80-hour power reserve

Case: 44mm polished steel, ceramic black polished tachymeter, fixed bezel, flat sapphire crystal with double anti-reflective treatment, steel screw-down crown, red sapphire screw-down caseback with special engraving, water-resistant to 100 meters

Dial: Black opaline with two counters:

– 3 o’clock: black embossed minute chronograph counter

– 9 o’clock: black embossed hour chronograph counter

Red printed indexes, rhodium-plated hour and minute hands with white SuperLumiNova, red lacquered central hand, white TAG Heuer printed logo, date window at 6 o’clock, “HEUER 02 AUTOMATIC/FRAGMENT” printing

Bracelet: Polished, fine-brushed, five-row steel bracelet, steel butterfly folding clasp with safety push buttons

 

Bulgari this week adds a handsome blue dial to its ultra-thin Octo Finissimo Automatic Steel line, essentially doubling the options – from one model to two – available at the collection’s entry level.

The new Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic model offers a new blue lacquered dial with sunburst finish to the ultra-thin, satin-finished steel watch collection.

Recall that during its debut event this past January in Dubai, Bulgari debuted the first Octo Finissimo Automatic watch with a steel case, and with a black dial, to glowing notices (including ours).

The first Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic Satin-Polished Steel arrived in January with a black dial.

The Octo Finissimo collection is Bulgari’s multi-award-winning set of record-setting ultra-thin watches that includes complicated watches as well as this time-only edition. The design has previously only been offered with ceramic,  precious metal or titanium cases and bracelets.  

The new model adds a blue lacquered dial with sunburst finish to the satin-finished steel watch. Like its ceramic, titanium or gold brethren, the steel model is matched with a complex bracelet that echoes the case perfectly. Here that translates to full-length satin-finished steel links interspersed with central-set polished steel links.

Matte and polished finishes abound on both case and bracelet, adding a pleasing multi-dimensional caste to the watch.

Multi-dimensional

Matte and polished finishes abound on both case and bracelet, adding a pleasing multi-dimensional caste to the watch, especially when its wraps around a wrist.

Despite its 6.4mm thickness, just slightly thicker than the precious metal and titanium models, these steel Octo Finissimo Steel Automatic watches boast 100-meter water resistance thanks to a screw-down crown. The collection’s titanium, ceramic and precious metal models are rated to 30 meters.

Despite its 6.4mm thickness, just slightly thicker than previous models, the steel Octo Finissimo Steel Automatic watches boast 100-meter water resistance thanks to a screw-down crown.

The greater water resistance is appropriate for a steel watch, according to Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin, who suggests that with this sportier version of the Octo Finissimo Automatic “you can dive, swim, take a shower…you can wear it from the tennis court to the board room.”     

Platinum rotor

Inside you’ll find the same ultra-thin Bulgari BVL138 Finissimo caliber found in the other Octo Finissimo Automatic models. A record-breaking 2.23mm thin, the caliber is wound by a platinum micro-rotor nicely visible though the clear sapphire caseback, exposing its expertly applied Côtes de Genève motif, chamfered bridges and circular-grained baseplate.

The ultra-thin Bulgari BVL138 Finissimo caliber is a record-breaking 2.23mm thin and is wound by a platinum micro-rotor visible though the clear sapphire caseback.

With carefully calculate heft and machining, the rotor powers the watch’s hours, minutes and small seconds indications for up to sixty hours.  Price: $11,800.

 

Specifications: Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic Satin-Polished Steel

Movement: Automatic BVL138 Finissimo caliber (2.23mm thick), winding via a platinum micro-rotor, hours, minutes and small seconds indications. Adorned with Côtes de Genève motif, chamfered bridges and circular-grained baseplate, 60-hour power reserve, 21,600 VpH.

Case: 40mm extra-thin satin-polished steel case (6.40mm thick), transparent caseback; polished steel screw-down crown set with ceramic inlay

Dial: Blue lacquered dial with sunburst finishing, faceted diamond rhodium-plated hands; water-resistant up to 100m.

Bracelet: Integrated satin-polished steel bracelet with folding clasp.

Price: $11,800

 

Wempe Glashütte I/SA, the watchmaking division of German-based watch and jewelry retailer Wempe, this week adds a third watch collection to its roster with Iron Walker, a set of four steel sport-leisure watches for men and women.    

The new Wempe Iron Walker Automatic Chronograph

Named in reference to steel girders used to build skyscrapers, the new Wempe Iron Walker is the latest of many high-profile collections industry-wide featuring integrated stainless-steel cases and bracelets. Of the recent integrated steel-cased watch debuts we’ve seen, Wempe’s Iron Walker is among the most comprehensive (and affordable) with a chronograph, a diver’s watch and two dressy unisex models. All together, Wempe is launching sixteen models (including a few with quartz movements).

Wempe’s new Iron Walker Automatic Chronograph

Automatic Chronograph

At the top of the line is an ETA 7753 (Valjoux)- powered automatic chronograph offered with two dial treatments: steel blue or black-silver in a ‘reverse panda’ layout. The 42mm watch features a date, tachymeter and three totalizers in a tri-compax arrangement; all hands and markers are coated with SuperLuminova. Two protected rectangular pushbuttons control the chronograph.

As is the case with all Wempe chronographs, the caliber here is adjusted in the company’s own workshops in Glashütte so that it passes the more stringent German chronometric testing standards. These require the movement’s maximum average rate variation at only two seconds per day when mounted in the case. Price: $4,250.

Wempe Iron Walker Automatic Diver’s Watch

Automatic Diver’s Watch

Water resistant to 300 meters, the dive model in the new collection is also a certified chronometer that adds a folding safety clasp with an extension element to the Iron Walker’s signature integrated three-row stainless-steel bracelet. With the extension element, the watch’s length can be increased by as much as 17mm.

This dive model utilizes an internal bezel dive-time ring, mounted behind the sapphire crystal, to meet all DIN and ISO standards for dive watches. To satisfy all underwater visibility requirements, Wempe has marked the watch’s triangular zero mark and its hands and markers with SuperLuminova. Both crowns are screw-in for added water resistance.

The Wempe Iron Walker Automatic Diver’s Watch on the wrist.

Despite its dive-ready technical design, the Wempe Iron Walker Automatic Diver’s Watch is sleeker than most dive watches. The watch is only 11.7mm thick – a moderate size that means it will fit nicely under any sleeve.

Inside Wempe places an ETA 2892 automatic movement that it watchmakers have adjusted to meet German chronometer and ISO 3159 dive watch standards. Price: $3,450.

Automatic and Quartz Unisex 


Iron Walker Automatic Women’s Watch (36mm).

As a moderately sized (40mm) or smaller sized (36mm) three-hand dress watch, Wempe’s remaining Iron Walker option is a simpler model offered with a choice of automatic or quartz movement.

Wempe’s 40mm Iron Walker Automatic Men’s Watch, also offered with a quartz movement.

All four models are certified chronometers with central hour, minute, and seconds hands and a date, and each features raised, luminous markers.

Iron Walker Automatic Women’s Watch (36mm).
Iron Walker Automatic Women’s Watch (blue dial).

Available with a black, blue or white dial, the automatic models are powered by an ETA 2892-A2 (power reserve of 50 hours) while and ETA E64.111 powers the quartz models (constant running time 41 months).

To impress as a dress watch, Wempe has made the both the larger ‘Men’s’ size and the smaller ‘Women’s’ size with a sleek 9.75mm-thick case. Nonetheless, any of these four dress models offers the same solid three-link tapered steel bracelet that marks the entire Iron Walker collection.

Iron Walker Automatic Women’s Watch
Iron Walker Quartz Men’s Watch

Prices: $1,950 (36mm quartz), $2,650 (36mm automatic), $2,050 (40mm quartz) and $2,750 (40mm automatic).

I’ve long been impressed with high value Wempe has built into its Chronometerwerke and Zeitmeister collections. With Iron Walker, Wempe appears to again combine well-considered styling with top-level specs.

Iron Walker’s elegant look, backed by the collection-wide chronometer rating, new angular case and three-link solid steel bracelet, is a winning combination. For details see the Wempe website.  Wempe’s U.S. store is located at 700 Fifth Avenue in New York City.