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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.

 

The newest Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU design enhances the dive watch’s existing, rugged construction with a revamped bezel and the addition of a new feature that underscores the NEDU’s solid dive-watch credentials.

The newest Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU.

On this new NEDU, a collection Ball Watch introduced in 2012, Ball has cut two chamfers into the case flange that supports the bezel. These cuts act as a drain for any water retained between these components during a dive.  As a result, the NEDU will offer virtually no opportunity for corrosion to take root under the bezel.

This feature expands the NEDU’s nautical readiness, which also includes a full –and impressive ­– 600-meters of water resistance, alongside Ball Watch extras like shock resistance to 7,500Gs and resistance to magnetic fields to an intensity of 4,800A/m. 

Dive survival

Dive readiness is the original argument for this particular Ball collection, which is named after the Navy Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU), the unit of the United States Navy responsible for rolling out operational diving and decompression rules for the United States Armed Forces. It assesses the systems and procedures involved in surviving hyperbaric and diving environments.

This origin story is partly why Ball has built the collection with an unusually thick case, which at 17.3mm is among the thickest we’ve seen for a watch that measures 42mm in diameter.

To assist the watch’s impressive water resistance rating Ball directly incorporated a (patented) automatic helium release valve directly into the crown. This is the same design Ball incorporates into all its Engineer Hydrocarbon models.

And of course the dial of the Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU lights up like few others in the dark with the famed Ball Watch luminous microtubes of H₃ gas fitted into the dial’s indexes and hands.

Chronometer-certified

Inside the watch Ball places a COSC-certified ETA Valjoux-based caliber RR1402-C automatic movement to measure and indicate elapsed time for up to twelve hours.

On the caseback Ball has stamped a diver motif to honor the NEDU’s official emblem.

The new Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU comes with a black dial, a blue dial or the brand-new gradient blue dial. On the caseback Ball has stamped a diver motif to honor the NEDU’s official emblem. In addition to a rubber strap, Ball offers a stainless steel and titanium bracelet alongside a patented triple folding buckle. This extension system allows the wearer top place the watch easily over a diving suit.

 

Price: The Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU on a stainless steel and titanium bracelet is $4,499 or $4,399 on a rubber strap. The new watch is available now on the Ball Watch online store and through the Ball Watch retailer network.

 

Specifications: The Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU

Movement: Automatic caliber BALL RR1402-C (ETA Valjoux-based), chronometer certified COSC

Case: 42mm x 17.3mm titanium with top ceramic luminous unidirectional rotating bezel, 3.7mm anti-reflective sapphire crystal, patented crown protection system, helium release system, shock resistance to 7,500 Gs, anti-magnetic to 4,800A/m, water resistant to 600 meters.

Dial: Gradient blue, black or blue, 21 micro gas tubes on hour, minute, second hands, markers. Indicators for hours, minutes, subsidiary seconds, day and date.

Bracelet: Tapered titanium and stainless steel with patented folding buckle & extension system or rubber strap with standard buckle.

Prices: $4,499 (stainless steel and titanium bracelet) or $4,399 (rubber strap.)

Well known for dials illuminated by H3 gas-filled microtubes within markers and hands, Ball Watch has begun to expand its use of the microtubes by placing them underneath the dials of select new watches.  

This placement results in a more intensely luminous dial and also gives Ball Watch a bit more design flexibility. With more open space on the dial, Ball Watch can create a more traditional sporty layout. Ball Watch demonstrated this first with its Engineer Hydrocarbon Original Fifteenth Anniversary model, which debuted earlier this year.

The Ball Watch Engineer III Marvelight Chronometer, available in two case sizes and three dial colors.

Now Ball Watch expands this treatment on the new Ball Watch Engineer III Marvelight Chronometer, which features the Ball Watch H3 gas tubes not only on the hands and primary markers, but also underneath all the dot-shaped seconds/minute markers. With H3 tubes on each hand, the time is always visible down to the second – and in the dark.

And for this debut, the lights are not only extra-brilliant, but on one model are unusually colorful. The ‘Caring Edition’ of the Engineer III Marvelight Chronometer will be sold with a rainbow-inspired dial, and sales of the watch will benefit the Salvation Army.

The Ball Watch Engineer III Marvelight Chronometer Caring Edition
The dial on the Ball Watch Engineer III Marvelight Chronometer Caring Edition.

Extra protection

Ball is offering the steel-cased Engineer III Marvelight in two sizes: 40mm and 43mm, both with a steel bracelet. Inside is the automatic COSC-certified chronometer, the ETA-based caliber BALL RR1103-C, protected by a screw-down crown to 100 meters of water resistance.

 

The watchmaker utilizes a surprising number of proprietary technologies to protect and enhance the precision of its calibers, including its Amortiser anti-shock system and a mu-metal anti-magnetic shield, both of which are in-force within the new watch.

While enhanced anti-shock systems are found in other Swiss-made sports watches, superior anti-magnetic protection is relatively rare, particularly among watches that, like Ball Watch, sell models with ‘affordable’ price tags. Indeed, Ball’s mu-metal protects the mechanical watch against magnetic fields that measure to the high intensity of 80,000A/m.

The Ball Watch Engineer III Marvelight Chronometer, also sold with a silver or black dial.

Ball’s new Engineer III Marvelight Chronometer is a limited edition of 1,000 in each dial color (black, blue or silver) and in each size. The Caring Edition offers a black dial with the multi-colored markers.

 

Ball Watch notes that the watch is available at a special pre-order price (before July 31) of $1,849 on shop.ballwatch.ch. Delivery is scheduled between November and December 2020. Regular price will be $2,199.

During the campaign, customers can select their limited edition number and can add a free-of-charge engraving on the caseback. Ball’s Engineer III Marvelight Chronometer – Caring Edition is priced at $2,199. Ball will donate $300 to The Salvation Army for every piece sold during the pre-order period.

Specifications: Ball Watch Engineer III Marvelight Chronometer

Movement: Automatic ETA-based caliber BALL RR1103-C, Amortiser patented anti-shock system, COSC chronometer-certified.

Dial: Blue, silver or black with 27 micro gas tubes on hour, minute and second hands and underneath dial for night reading capability, hours, minutes, seconds and magnified date. Special Caring Edition with black dial and colorful hour and minutes markers.

Case: 40mm or 43mm by 13.6mm stainless steel, anti-reflective sapphire crystal, screwed-in crown, water resistant to 100 meters, anti-magnetic to 80,000A/m.

Bracelet: Stainless steel bracelet with folding buckle

Limited Edition: 1,000 pieces of each color and size.

 

Tudor expands its flagship Black Bay Fifty-Eight this week with a new model sporting a navy blue dial and matte blue bezel.

The new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue, also available with two different fabric straps.

The retro-styled 39mm Black Bay Fifty-Eight, which quickly became a Tudor best seller after it debuted in 2018, traces its lineage back to Tudor dive models from the early 1950s, with most of its features linked to the Tudor reference 7924 from 1958, known as the Big Crown edition.

Gone are the gilded touches to the markers, bezel and the hands we saw on the Black Bay Fifty-Eight from two years ago. Here Tudor replaces those accents with sportier steel on the dial and silver-colored markers and numerals on the bezel, perfectly matching the case and bracelet.  

Modern movement

As with the 2018 black-dialed edition, the new Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue inhabits its retro style while steeped in modern technology, most notably underneath its dial. There you’ll find an in-house Tudor Caliber MT5402, an automatic caliber with a non-magnetic silicon balance spring and an impressive seventy-hour power reserve.

Tudor’s own automatic manufacture Caliber MT5402 with bidirectional rotor system,  Swiss chronometer certified by COSC.

Tudor notes that its caliber, tailor-made by Tudor for the 2018 Black Bay Fifty-Eight, performs with greater precision than its official COSC chronometer certification requires. Where COSC allows for an average variation in the daily running rate of a watch movement of between -4 and +6 seconds in relation to absolute time, Tudor says it applies a tolerance of between -2 and +4 seconds’ variation in its daily rate on the assembled watch.

While the front and even the sides of the new watch recall their origins in the 1950s and 1960s (notably regarding the Snowflake hands, seen first in 1969), the closed caseback gives away the game with engraved references to the manufacture caliber within.

Unscrewing the back, a watchmaker (or intrepid owner) would see a distinctly modern finish on the MT5402 caliber, notably a one-piece tungsten rotor that Tudor has open-worked, satin-brushed and sand-blasted. Tudor also alternates sand-blasted surfaces, polished surfaces and laser decorations on the movement’s bridges and mainplate.

Straps & bracelet

Those familiar with Tudor will know that its modern identity, and its success, is in part due to its unerring facility with fabric NATO-style straps, which the brand has embraced wholeheartedly since at least 2010.

Tudor continues that tradition with the new Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue, for which Tudor offers a handsome navy blue and silver-striped woven fabric strap (above) made in France by Julien Faure, a 150-year old family company. Tudor also offers a riveted steel bracelet (polished and satin finish) with folding clasp and safety catch and a blue “soft touch” strap with folding buckle and safety clasp.

Tudor offers this blue “soft touch” strap with folding clasp and safety catch as an option with the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue.

The remaining Tudor-curious collectors who were not sold on the 2018 Black Bay Fifty-Eight’s slightly luxe black and gold accented dial and bezel back in 2018 have their watch with this new Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue. It’s sportier, beautifully blue-hued and supplies the same Tudor high-value mechanicals teamed with expert retro dress.

With the same pricing as the earlier model ($3,700 for the bracelet model and $3,375 for fabric strap), the watch serves up no visible obstacles to any motivated fan.  

 

Specifications: Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue

(Ref. 79030B)

Movement: Automatic manufacture Caliber MT5402 with bidirectional rotor system, Swiss chronometer officially certified by COSC, 70-hour power reserve, variable inertia balance, micro-adjustment by screw, non-magnetic silicon balance spring; 28,800 bph (4 Hz) frequency.

Case: 39mm steel with polished and satin finish, unidirectional rotatable bezel in 316L steel with 60-minute graduated disc in matte blue anodized aluminum and silver gilded markings and numerals, steel screw-down winding crown with the Tudor rose in relief, with circular satin-brushed 316L steel winding crown tube, domed sapphire crystal, water resistant to 200 meters

Dial: Navy Blue, domed

Bracelet: Riveted 316L steel with polished and satin-brushed finish, or blue “soft touch” with folding clasp and safety catch, or blue fabric strap with silver band and buckle.

Prices: $3,700 (bracelet model) and $3,375 (either fabric strap)

 

Ulysse Nardin has partnered with Ocearch, a scientific organization that works with researchers and educational institutions to better understand the movement and habits of sharks.

The Le Locle watchmaker has historically manufactured marine chronometers and has even more recently released dive watches symbolized by the shark. The new partnership means Ulysse Nardin will financially back Ocearch’s mission and assist researchers in their work and provide resources to better understand the shark’s role in the ocean’s fragile ecosystem.

Ulysse Nardin U.S. brand president François-Xavier Hotier says he has wanted to align the brand with a nonprofit marine life conservation organization since he started with the watch company in 2018.

Ulysse Nardin U.S. President Francois-Xavier Hotier

“Ocearch’s passion and their commitment to the shark species equaled that of our company’s and I knew Ulysse Nardin could make a positive impact toward their, and truly our, collective mission to save the shark species and therein help balance the ocean’s delicate ecosystem,” he said in a press release.  

“In speaking with François-Xavier Hotier we came to realize, not only our shared passion for the impact of shark-based research but of the importance of doing good work for good,” says Chris Fischer, founder of Ocearch. “We rely on companies like Ulysse Nardin to help raise awareness for our mission and look forward to working with the team behind the scenes and on future research expeditions.”

Ulysse Nardin will support Ocearch on its upcoming expeditions and work together to raise awareness around marine research. The organization is currently planning two expeditions for the end of 2020. The first will take place August 5-20 in Massachusetts and the second from September 3-28 in Nova Scotia.

Recent Ulysse Nardin dive models that pay homage to different shark species include two limited editions, the Diver Chronograph Hammerhead Shark and the Lady Diver Great White. Both are pictured below.

The Ulysse Nardin Diver Chronograph Hammerhead Shark Limited Edition. Hammerhead Shark Limited Edition. The watch is offered with a titanium or rose gold case and with rubber or fabric strap.

 

 

The Ulysse Nardin Lady Diver Great White. The watch has a domed crystal and a concave unidirectional bezel and its dial is designed to look like the granular skin of a great white shark.

 

 

Caseback view of the Ulysse Nardin Lady Diver Great White Limited Edition.

Each year we take a moment to note the anniversary of the first tourbillon, the whirling regulation device Abraham-Louis Breguet patented on June 26, 1801. Breguet’s invention helped make pocket watches more precise by counteracting many of the negative effects of gravity on timekeeping precision.

Abraham-Louis Breguet

As is the case each year, Montres Breguet has provided us with a few visual reminders of how Breguet’s invention eventually started more than two centuries of tourbillon development by watchmakers.

A Breguet tourbillon

That development, however, was surprisingly slow. Found primarily in pocket watches and the occasional clock, the tourbillon wasn’t adopted for serially produced wristwatches until the 1980s, though a few prototype wristwatches with tourbillons were developed by Omega in 1947 and even earlier by special order at other Swiss manufacturers and by the French maker LIP.

Breguet Tourbillon N°1188

Breguet also reminds us that Abraham-Louis Breguet created only thirty-five tourbillon watches, with fewer than ten known to survive (including the No. 1188, pictured above).

The Breguet N°2567

The House of Breguet possesses several additional historical tourbillon pocket watches, including No. 1176 sold by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1809, and No. 2567 sold in 1812, along with original records that list every single Breguet historical creation.

Many original Breguet tourbillons can be found in the Breguet Boutique & Museum in Place Vendome, Paris.

Here are just a few recent Breguet tourbillon watches that bear witness to the legacy of the man who devised the device, and whose name is on the building.

For 2020, Breguet adorns the dial of its Extra-Thin Self-Winding Tourbillon with a touch of deep blue, by using the traditional grand feu enamel technique.
Engraved caseback of the newest Breguet Extra-Thin Self-Winding Tourbillon.
Breguet this year offers its Marine Tourbillon Équation Marchante 5887 with a rose gold case with a gold dial.
The eye-catching engraved caseback of the Breguet Marine Tourbillon Équation Marchante 5887.

Ball Watch this week combines its well-known dial illumination and solid crown protector with a racing tachymeter to create the Engineer Hydrocarbon Racer Chronograph, the brand’s first automotive racing watch in years.

The new Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon Racer Chronograph

While Ball has long focused on designing watches with functions requested by explorers, divers, travelers and adventurers, the historical U.S. brand (now based in Switzerland) now seeks to reach automobile racing enthusiasts with this new chronograph collection. Ball Watch has offered other watches with tachymeters in years past, including the Engineer Master II Slide Chronograph and two Fireman Storm Chaser models, but this debut is the first in recent years specifically designed with such a bezel.  

For Ball, adding a speed-monitoring tachymeter scale (here, in black ceramic) to the bezel of a chronograph is just a start. The remaining features Ball adds to the three-watch collection echo the brand’s attention to the needs of collectors who plan to wear their watch amid adverse conditions.

Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon Racer Chronograph, showing illumination.

Shock resistance

These features include a COSC-certified, chronometer-rated automatic movement (Ball’s Caliber RR1401, an upgraded and customized ETA Valjoux 7750), resistance to shocks of up to 7,500 g and anti-magnetic protection rated to 4,800 A/m.

That Ball crown protector (left), standard on the watches throughout the Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon collection, screws into the case once the owner sets the time on the watch. After the wearer clasps the patented steel protector over the crown, it won’t budge or allow dust or dirt to contamination the case interior.  

And as noted, Ball’s proprietary H3 gas tube illumination (colored green on the dial and hands and yellow at 12 o’clock) means that the time – and the timing – remains visible day or night. 

Three dials

Ball makes the new Engineer Hydrocarbon Racer Chronograph with a 42mm diameter stainless steel case with a black ceramic bezel and a choice of a black, blue or white dial.

Ball then finishes the watch with a stainless-steel brushed and polished bracelet with a folding clasp. Price: $3,599.

 

SPECIFICATIONS: Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon Racer Chronograph

Movement: Automatic caliber BALL RR1401-C (ETA-7750-based), chronometer-certified COSC,

7,500Gs shock resistance, 100-meters of water resistance, anti-magnetic to 4,800 A/m

Functions: Chronograph with accumulated measurement up to 45 minutes, tachymeter, hours, minutes, subsidiary seconds and date

Dial: Blue, silver or black with 15 micro gas tubes on hour and minute hands and dial for night reading capability

Case: 42mm by 15.2mm stainless steel with black ceramic bezel, anti-reflective sapphire crystal, patented crown protection system

Bracelet: Tapered stainless steel with patented folding buckle and extension system

Price: $3,599

 

Fresh from releasing two Chronomaster Revival pieces in recent months, Zenith this week returns to its forward-focused Defy collection with the Defy 21 Ultraviolet, a 44mm dual-escapement chronograph with eye-catching purple bridges, rotor and strap.

For this model, the color will now vie for attention with the Defy 21’s mesmerizing one-rotation-per-second central chronograph hand.

When activated, sending the seconds hand spinning around the dial, the regally hued watch times events using Zenith’s 1/100th-of-a-second El Primero 21 chronograph caliber, beating at an ultra-high 50Hz (360,000 vph).

The watch of course continues to retain the time of day, thanks to its three-hand indicators, powered by the more traditional El Primero caliber, with the watch’s second escapement vibrating at 36,000 vph.

Zenith has colored the bridges violet on watch’s El Primero 9004 automatic movement.

Mostly open dial

As with most of the earlier Defy El Primero 21 models, the dial here is mostly open, clearing a direct view to many of the violet-colored, angular-cut bridges within. But unlike most of the earlier, heavily skeletonized designs, the new Defy 21 Ultraviolet’s solid chronograph subdials most directly recall the Defy 21 El Primero 21 Carl Cox released earlier this year.

Echoing that model’s specialized subdial designs, this new example features three grey chronograph registers and a grey flange ring. Other than the Carl Cox edition, the only similar example with solid chronograph registers was seen last year within the Defy 21 El Primero 50th Anniversary edition and was only available as part of a box set of three watches.

Sandblasted case

All the purple-treated bridges inside this Defy 21 Ultraviolet stand out particularly well against the matte sandblasted grey titanium case.

Equally compelling – at least to consumers who appreciate the novelty of a violet-tinted watch – is the woven textile-like purple insert of the watch’s accompanying black rubber strap.

I’ve always appreciated how difficult it can be for historically rich Swiss watch companies to embrace more modern  design, and with this newest watch Zenith presents an eye-catching, contemporary variation for its already impressive Defy 21 technology.  While the new Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet is primarily an exercise in color and finishing, the choice of color here is not for the meek, and it makes the result particularly successful. Price: $13,100.

Specifications: Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet (Reference: 97.9001.9004/80.R922)

Key points: Unique violet 1/100th of a second chronograph movement with seconds hand rotation once per second. One escapement for the watch (36,000 Vph – 5 Hz) and one escapement for the chronograph (360,000 Vph – 50 Hz). Linear power reserve indicator. TIME LAB Chronometer certified.

Movement: El Primero 9004 automatic with ultraviolet finishings, with 50-hours of power reserve.

Functions: 1/100th of a second chronograph functions. Chronograph power-reserve indication at 12 o’clock. Hours and minutes in the center. Small seconds at 9 o’clock, Central chronograph hand, 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, 60-second counter at 6 o’clock

Case: 44mm micro-blasted titanium with 100 meters water resistance,

Dial: Special open dial with grey closed chronograph registers, rhodium-plated, faceted markers coated with SuperLumiNova. Hands are rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova

Bracelet: Violet fabric-effect strap with micro-blasted titanium double folding clasp

Price: $13,100.

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.

When it launched in 2016, Chopard’s L.U.C Perpetual Twin garnered applause for its easy-to-read steel-cased perpetual calendar. Its high-end finish, eclectic large-date dial and superlative C.O.S.C.-chronometer-rated L.U.C caliber attracted those in search of an ‘everyday’ steel-cased haute horology perpetual calendar.

The new Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin, here in a steel case.

For 2020, Chopard expands this previously limited offering with a somewhat dressier L.U.C Perpetual Twin design presented without the large Roman numerals of the earlier model. Chopard replaces those numerals with faceted gold markers and more fully harmonizes the colors within all three sub-dials and under the minutes track.

For 2020 Chopard debuts the first rose gold-cased L.U.C Perpetual Twin. Markers replace the Roman numerals of the earlier models.

Chopard presents all this refinement within either a 43mm rose gold case (a first for this model) or a more familiar 43mm stainless steel case.

Chopard’s excellent automatic caliber L.U.C 96.22-L is visible from the clear sapphire caseback of the L.U.C Perpetual Twin.

 The new design reprises the excellent automatic caliber L.U.C 96.22-L, with its impressive 65-hour power reserve, two-barrel Chopard Twin Technology wound by a handsome 22-karat gold micro-rotor.

The steel model fronts a blue dial while the rose gold edition features a subtle grey dial. On both, it’s the large date display that first attracts the eye, likely followed by the now unicolor sub-dials, including those that indicate the perpetual calendar’s day, month and leap year indications, and small seconds (at 6 o’clock). Price:  $24,700 (steel) and $49,800 (rose gold).

More 2020 Debuts

This all-new L.U.C. Perpetual Twin is just one of several 2020 debuts Chopard has just released. Others include the latest Mille Miglia watches (the Mille Miglia GTS Azzurro Power Control and the Mille Miglia Azzurro Chrono) plus two new jewelled Happy Sport watches.

Chopard’s new Mille Miglia GTS Azzurro Power Control.

Chopard’s new Mille Miglia GTS Azzurro Power Control ($9,690) is an automatic time and date steel watch, limited to 500 pieces in a 43mm stainless steel case with rose gold crown and bezel. In keeping with its historic role accompanying the 1,000-mile Mille Miglia classic car race, the watch features a power reserve indicator designed to mimic an automotive fuel gauge.

The clear caseback of the Mille Miglia GTS Azzurro Power Control exposes the in-house manufactured and decorated Chopard 01.08-C mechanical self-winding movement.
Chopard’s new Mille Miglia GTS Azzurro Chrono.

The second addition to the Mille Miglia collection is the Mille Miglia GTS Azzurro Chrono ($7,400), a 44mm stainless steel (750-piece limited edition) watch with a sub-dial layout inspired by a classic car instrument cluster.

Both these new watches are named for their steel blue ‘Azzurro’ dials, which Chopard contrasts with the traditional Mille Miglia red hue found on the hands and ‘1000 Miglia’ direction arrow that frames the date window on each watch.

And finally, Chopard has added a new Happy Sport watch to this ‘dancing diamond’ collection with two 36mm jewelled versions, each showcasing diamonds using a prong setting that maximizes the amount of light reaching the diamonds. Made in either white gold or rose gold, they feature the automatic Chopard 96.17-C caliber. Each is priced at $88,300.

The latest Chopard Happy Sport, in white gold.
The latest Chopard Happy Sport, in rose gold.

Specifications: Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin (stainless steel and in rose gold)

 Ref. 168561-3003 – in stainless steel

Ref. 161976-5003 – in 18-karat rose gold

Case: 43mm by 11.47mm stainless steel or rose gold with polished bezel and clear sapphire case back. Water resistance to 30 meters.

Movement: Automatic L.U.C 96.22-L, with 65-hours of power reserve. Frequency is 28,800 vph (4 Hz) using two barrels (Chopard Twin Technology) and a 22-karat gold rotor. COSC-chronometer certified.

Dial: Blue or ruthenium grey-colored dial with sunburst satin-brushed motif focused on the big date. Perpetual calendar dials (large-aperture date, day of the week, month and leap years), rhodium-plated or gilded Dauphine-type hour and minute hands, rhodium-plated or gilded baton-type hands small seconds, day and month indications, black-tipped or gilded triangular leap-year hand, facetted rhodium-plated or gilded hour-markers, minute track

Functions and displays: Central display of the hours and minutes, small seconds at 6 o’clock, date at 12 o’clock, day of the week and month displays at 9 and 3 o’clock respectively, offset leap-year display between 2 and 3 o’clock.

Strap and buckle: Blue or brown alligator leather with cognac alligator leather lining, polished and satin-brushed stainless steel or 18-karat rose gold pin buckle.