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Watchmakers have been multiplying their automotive and motorsports collaborations in recent years. Here, we review a few prominent timekeeping/racing alliances.

By Y-Jean Mun-DelSalle

In this final installment of our series outlining automotive-wristwatch partnerships, we highlight Girard-Perregaux and Richard Mille. 

 

Girard-Perregaux

Girard-Perregaux has signed a multi-year agreement as the official watch partner of British automotive manufacturer Aston Martin Lagonda and the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula 1 team. Both brands are commemorating milestones this year: founded in 1791, the Swiss watchmaker is one of the oldest fine watchmaking manufactures still in operation and celebrates its 230th anniversary, while Aston Martin marks its return to Formula 1 after a hiatus of over sixty years.

For the 2021 F1 season, Girard-Perregaux branding appears on Aston Martin F1 car rear-view mirrors and team uniforms. Girard-Perregaux’s and Aston Martin’s design teams have participated in high-level discussions on movements, esthetics, functionality, material usage and ergonomics.

Several limited-edition timepieces will be unveiled, the first of which was released last June.

The Girard-Perregaux Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges Aston Martin Edition.

Revisiting a Girard-Perregaux legend, the Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges Aston Martin Edition is an 18-piece skeletonized high-end timekeeper with no dial or bezel. Three black PVD-treated titanium bridges appear to float between panes of sapphire crystal.

Back view of the Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges Aston Martin Edition.

The lightweight, 79-component tourbillon cage weighs in at only 0.25 grams, thereby reducing energy consumption, while the micro-rotor’s vertical flank is etched with the Aston Martin name filled with white luminescence.

In a world first, Girard-Perregaux introduces an innovative material never used before in watchmaking on its calf leather strap: a central insert in rubber injected with white gold.

“Rarely do we work with others to reinterpret the Three Bridges, explains CEO Patrick Pruniaux. “However, on this occasion, we have made an exception, mindful of Aston Martin’s prowess for design.”

Later in 2021, a second timepiece will be launched, from another of the manufacture’s iconic collections. We can also expect to see Girard-Perregaux clocks in Aston Martin road cars.

Girard-Perregaux has a long history of collaborations with the automotive universe. During the mid-1990s, then owner and car enthusiast Luigi Macaluso began a ten-year partnership with Ferrari, and together they produced the highly-successful Ferrari watches.

“Girard-Perregaux has had strong ties to the automotive world in the past, which we were keen to reactivate in a stronger way,” notes Clémence Dubois, Girard-Perregaux’s chief marketing and product officer.

 

Richard Mille

Calling its timepieces ‘racing machines on the wrist,’ Richard Mille is no stranger to the automotive world, with friends and partners like Jean Todt, Alain Prost, Felipe Massa, Sébastien Loeb and the Venturi Formula E team. The brand even owns an all-women LMP2 racing team.

After discussions for Richard Mille’s collaboration with both Ferrari’s racing and road car divisions were initiated last summer, this year it is partnering two F1 teams – Scuderia Ferrari and McLaren Racing – while continuing personal relationships with F1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Mick Schumacher.

The Ferrari F1 SF21 is Scuderia’s 2021 Formula 1 race car.

The new multi-year tie-up extends from Formula 1, WEC endurance programs and Competizioni GT to the renowned Ferrari Challenge single-model championship for gentlemen drivers worldwide as well as for the Ferrari Driver Academy. Starting in 2022 Richard Mille will launch a series of watches bearing the famous Ferrari Prancing Horse logo, developed by Richard Mille’s team in Switzerland and Ferrari’s designers and engineers.

Ferrari F1 Racer Charles Leclerc, wearing the RM 67-02.

“Richard Mille has since its inception been viewed as the Formula 1 of watchmaking,” says Tim Malachard, Richard Mille’s marketing director. “The inspiration of materials and technology found in F1 being applied to produce extremely technical, ergonomic and light timepieces. It is also not a secret that those who like cars and motor racing are also fans of watches. Ferrari and Richard Mille share many common values, and many of our customers are owners of either brand, so another good reason to collaborate over the next few years.”

The RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail.

To mark its fifth year of partnership with McLaren Automotive, Richard Mille launched the RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail last May in tribute to the fastest road-going car the British carmaker has ever built, with a top speed of 250 mph. The watch is available in a limited edition of 106 timepieces to match the exclusivity of the 106 Speedtail hypercars.

The platinum and red gold winding rotor on the RM 40-01 is inspired by the Speedtail’s hood.

“There are many similarities between the way that Richard Mille and McLaren approach common design and engineering challenges, such as saving weight, reducing vibrational impact and minimizing resistance,” says Rob Melville, McLaren automotive’s design director.

The Speedtail is a streamlined hypercar that is the fourth car in McLaren’s Utimate range.

The watch’s lines mimic the car’s teardrop shape – significantly wider at 12 o’clock than at 6 o’clock – and its bezel indentations evoke bonnet openings while its pushers recall air outlets behind the front wheels.

The watch also debuts numerous firsts in a Richard Mille-manufactured automatic tourbillon: in-house power reserve display, oversize date and function selector complications. Richard Mille’s casing department required an unprecedented 2,800 hours over eighteen months to perfect the contours of the titanium and Carbon TPT case, with the conception of five prototypes before the optimum shape was reached.

As the case tapers between the bezel and caseback, Richard Mille developed an innovative upper crystal glass featuring a “triple contour” to protect the movement.

 

Y-Jean Mun-DelSalle is a freelance journalist and editorial consultant who has lived on three different continents. She meets with inspirational individuals in pursuit of excellence: emerging and established artists, designers and craftsmen, engaging entrepreneurs and philanthropists, and the movers and shakers of the world today. She contributes regularly to regional and international titles such as Artsy, Asia Tatler, Design Anthology, Forbes, Portfolio, Robb Report, Shawati’ and Vogue, shining a spotlight in particular on art, architecture, design, horology and jewelry.

Among the four summer A. Lange & Söhne debuts launched last week, the German watchmaker’s new Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst certainly stirred the most interest.

While all the previous six deeply artisanal Handwerkskunst models are horological works of both art and technique, this latest example may be the first to also revive (if only for this debut) a retired collection, the rectangular-cased Cabaret.

The new A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst, cased in platinum.

The limited-edition (of thirty pieces) watch is a special, possibly one-off version of a Cabaret that, in 2008, was the first mechanical wristwatch with tourbillon stop seconds.

The new Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst re-introduces (with updates) the still unusual rectangular-shaped movement A. Lange & Söhne used in earlier Cabaret Tourbillon models. But in addition to that already intriguing launch, the debut heightens the watch’s eye-appeal with an impressive applied enamel lozenge-patterned dial.

The watch features a hand-engraved dial in the ‘lozenge’ design style.
In comparison with the 2008 Cabaret tourbillon caliber, this version (Cal. L042.1, seen from the back) has a new indexless oscillation system with a Lange balance spring.

Each section of the dial has been separated with a decorated thin line, which also creates a dramatic three-dimensional aspect. Then A. Lange & Söhne coats the dial with a semi-transparent enamel layer that adds even more depth and showcases the dial’s metallic shades of grey. Price: 315,000 euros.

 

Here are the other debuts from A. Lange & Söhne for Summer 2021.

The newest Langematik Perpetual is available with a blue dial and in two limited editions, one in pink gold and one in white gold.

Langematik Perpetual

A.Lange & Söhne celebrates the twentieth anniversary of its famed Langematik Perpetual with two models, both with a blue dial. Look for it in both pink gold and white gold.

This is the watchmaker’s first self-winding watch with a perpetual calendar and the Lange outsize date. It features a zero reset mechanism and a primary corrector that simultaneously advances all calendar displays. Both models are made as limited editions of fifty pieces. Price: $91,800.

The newest A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin is cased in pink gold in a limited edition of 50 watches. On the solid-silver dial coated with blue gold flux, tiny copper-colored particles create sparkling highlights.

Saxonia Thin

The fourth debut is a newly gold-cased Saxonia Thin with an arresting gold-flux-coated blue dial. The glittering manual-wind watch, a favorite (at least at iW) since its debut several years ago in white gold, measures 40mm by 6.2mm and really sparkles in any light to emulate a starry night sky. The secret: Thousands of copper oxide crystals embedded in the deep blue dial. In its all-new pink gold case, the watch comes in a limited edition of fifty watches. Technically, the watch offers the Cal. L093.1 movement with a superior 72 hours of power reserve. Price: $27,100.

 

Specifications: The A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst (Limited Edition of 30)

 

Case: 29.5mm × 39.2mm × 10.3mm
 platinum

Dial: 18-karat white gold, grey with hand-engraved lozenge pattern, semi-transparent enameling.

Functions: Time indicated in hours, minutes, and subsidiary seconds; one-minute tourbillon with stop seconds; Up/Down power-reserve indicator; large date.

Movement:  Lange manufacture Caliber L042.1, manually wound, decorated and assembled twice by hand; precision-adjusted in five positions; three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver; tourbillon and intermediate wheel cocks engraved by hand.

Strap: Hand-stitched black leather with grey seam, deployant buckle in 950 platinum.

Price: 315,000 euros.

(Editor note: Benrus has discontinued selling this watch. “Unfortunately there was a question around the movement and its authenticity,” according to a Benrus publicist. “Out of an abundance of caution Benrus has removed this product and is conducting further research.”)

Mechanical alarm watches combine a truly useful timekeeping function with the collector’s love of automatic or manual-wind movements. This week the recently revived watchmaker Benrus, founded in New York in 1921, debuts a superb retro-inspired alarm watch that offers these enticements, but also adds another compelling component: a vintage movement.

Inside the Benrus Wrist Alarm you’ll find a fully rebuilt A. Schild manual-wind movement from the 1970s.Thus, inside the new Benrus Wrist Alarm you’ll find a fully rebuilt A. Schild 1931 manual-wind movement from the 1970s. Benrus is utilizing movements that were never used and have been carefully disassembled and fully serviced in Switzerland to assure they are operating as if they were new. More than 330,000 original AS 1931 movements were sold between 1970 and 1974, according to Benrus, which offers more details about the history of the original movement on its website.

The new 38mm steel Benrus Wrist Alarm allows the wearer to set the alarm hand as desired using the crown at the 2 o’clock position. After winding the alarm with the same crown, the user can expect a fairly loud buzz for about ten seconds at the chosen time.

The watch itself echoes the look of a Benrus alarm watch circa 1956. Within its steel case you’ll see an off-white linen patterned dial, applied polished stainless steel numerals and markers and domed sapphire crystal.

Benrus sets the Wrist Alarm with a dark blue genuine leather strap with deployant buckle. The watch is water resistant to 50 meters and has an enhanced 50-hour power reserve. Benrus will make 500 Wrist Alarms. Price: $1,295.

(Please see note at the top of this story regarding the availability of this watch.) 

 

The watchmakers at Grand Seiko’s Micro Artists Studio once again display their technical and artistic expertise with a new platinum-cased Spring Drive masterpiece.

The new Masterpiece Collection
 Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition is a beautiful example of the brand’s nature-based aesthetic with a dial and engraved case meant to recall the night skies above Achi, a Japanese mountain village famous for its both its remoteness and its clean air.

Grand Seiko’s new Masterpiece Collection Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition.

Grand Seiko artisans use a variety of manufacturing and finishing techniques to create the dial, including stamping, plating and hand painting.  

Artisans use a variety of manufacturing and finishing techniques to create the dial, including stamping, plating and hand painting.

Named to celebrate Seiko’s 140th anniversary, the watch’s stunning and highly engraved 38.5mm platinum case also expresses the natural clarity of Achi’s night skies. Pleasing groups of leaf-like patterns cover the entire case, repeated in varying directions to capture “the exquisite order and ever-changing aspect of Achi’s starry skies,” according to Grand Seiko.

Inside Grand Seiko fits it superb Spring Drive manual-winding caliber 9R02, a movement first seen in 2019 when it marked the 20th anniversary of Spring Drive.  

The movement itself continues Grand Seiko’s ode to natural beauty. For example, the barrel is shaped to echo the bellflower that is the symbol of the Shiojiri region, home to the Micro Artists Studio. Next to the barrel is the power reserve indicator.

The power reserve here is an impressive eighty-four hours, largely thanks to the Caliber 9R02’s Dual Spring Barrel. Not surprisingly, Grand Seiko expertly hand polishes the rims of all the bridges, the holes for the rubies and the screws.

Note the 18-karat yellow gold plaque on the lower bridge. While it is marked with the engraved words “Micro Artist,” Grand Seiko allows the owner of the watch the option to replace these words with a phrase of his or her choice.  Available starting in August, the watch is a limited edition of fifty. Price: $79,000.

Specifications: Grand Seiko Masterpiece Collection 
Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition (Limited edition of 50)

Movement: Caliber 9R02 manual-winding Spring Drive with power reserve of 84 hours. Accuracy: ± 1 second per day (± 15 seconds per month). Dual-Spring Barrel and torque return system, 
power reserve indicator.

Case: 38.5mm by 9.8mm
platinum with clasp, hand-engraved, dual-curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, see-through screw case back. 
Water resistance: 30 meters. Magnetic resistance: 4,800 A/m.

Dial: Blue with sparkles made with stamping, plating and hand painting.

Strap: Crocodile strap with three-fold clasp with push button release.

Price: $79,000.

 

Alongside the many new dome clocks and pocket watches Patek Philippe is debuting during its wide-ranging Rare Handcrafts 2020-2021 exhibition in Geneva this month, the manufacture is also presenting six ongoing-collection wristwatches re-interpreted with new artisanal craftsmanship.

These debuts include a Ref. 6002R-001 Sky Moon Tourbillon, a diamond-set minute repeater with retrograde perpetual calendar (Ref. 5304/301R-001), a minute repeater with perpetual calendar (Ref. 5374-001), the Ref. 7040/250G-001 Minute Repeater for Ladies, a richly decorated Golden Ellipse (Ref. 5738/51G-001), and a white gold Nautilus set with diamonds. Prices for all these models are on request.

The Ref. 6002R-001 Sky Moon Tourbillon Haut Artisanat.

The Ref. 6002R-001 Sky Moon Tourbillon Haut Artisanat

Patek Philippe has given this ultra-complex watch (with twelve complications) a stunning hand-engraved rose-gold case with a brown dial in grand feu champlevé and cloisonné enamel.

Patek Philippe’s engravers spent more than 100 hours creating the ‘volutes and arabesques’ case, crown and repeater slide. As Patek Philippe’s second most complicated model, the Sky Moon Tourbillon combines a tourbillon and a minute repeater that strikes on cathedral gongs, a perpetual calendar with a retrograde date, a moon-phase display and the leap year cycle.

The reverse side of the Patek Philippe The Ref. 6002R-001 Sky Moon Tourbillon Haut Artisanat.

From the back, you’ll see a celestial chart showing the apparent motion of the moon and the stars. Patek Philippe will deliver the new Ref. 6002R-001 Sky Moon Tourbillon with hand-engraved cufflinks in rose gold. It replaces the Ref. 6002G-010 in white gold with a black grand feu enamel dial.

The new Ref. 5374G-001 Minute Repeater with a perpetual calendar.

The Ref. 5374G-001 Minute Repeater with a perpetual calendar

Initially available in platinum, this chiming watch with cathedral gongs now boasts a white-gold case with a glossy blue grand feu enamel dial. Also new are the slightly larger perpetual calendar (day, date, month, leap year cycle) displays, placed on slightly enlarged subsidiary dials. In addition, the white gold hands are now highly luminous, while the  moonphase aperture is made using the champlevé enamel technique and then framed in white gold (see below).

Up close on the Patek Philippe Ref. 5374G-001 Minute Repeater with a perpetual calendar.

Ref. 7040/250G-001 Rare Handcrafts Minute Repeater for ladies

This groundbreaking minute repeater is now extra luxurious with a blue grand feu flinqué enamel dial and a bezel with a Flamme diamond setting. The new model is slightly larger (36m) than the earlier models, and also boasts a diamond-set bezel.

The stunning Ref. 7040/250G-001 Rare Handcrafts Minute Repeater for ladies.

If you recall the dial on the Patek Philippe “Siamese Fighting Fish” pocket watch from 2019, you’ll see a similarity with this new model. Artisans fully guilloche the dial’s gold plate and then coat it with transparent blue enamel that allows the underlying decor to shine through. This method is an old technique called flinqué enameling. Patek Philippe insures that this watch remains thin (5.05mm) by using its self-winding caliber R 27 PS, powered by a 22-karat gold eccentric mini-rotor.

The new Patek Philippe Ref. 5738/51G-001 Golden Ellipse Haut Artisanat.

Ref. 5738/51G-001 Golden Ellipse Haut Artisanat

This new design takes full advantage of one of Patek Philippe’s most classic case shapes. Here in white gold, the Ellipse boasts a stunning champlevé enamel dial that has been manually engraved. The watch’s curly-cue decor, known technically as ‘volutes and arabesques,’ nicely complements the oval case shape of the Golden Ellipse.

Inside Patek Philippe places its famed automatic Caliber 240 powered by an off-center recessed mini-rotor in 22-karat gold. The thin (6.58mm) watch joins the current Golden Ellipse collection, which also includes Ref. 5738P-001 in platinum with a blue sunburst dial and the Ref. 5738R-001 in rose gold with an ebony black sunburst dial.

The new high-glitter Patek Philippe Ref. 7118/1450G Nautilus Haute Joaillerie.

Ref. 7118/1450G Nautilus Haute Joaillerie

Released in rose gold just a few months ago, this newest highly reflective diamond-set Nautilus can now be had in a white gold case. Set with a random pavé setting (also called snow setting), the watch’s case, dial, bezel, and the bracelet are decorated with nearly 13 carats of diamonds. Still, despite the glitter, the blackened white gold hands remain visible thanks in part to a generous coating of luminous material.

The watch’s blackened white gold hands remain visible thanks in part to a generous coating of luminous material.

This 32.5mm white-gold case is fitted with the automatic Caliber 324 S movement that has been elaborately finished and visible through the sapphire-crystal case back. Sunglasses please.

The Ref. 5304/301R-001 Minute Repeater with a retrograde perpetual calendar
 is now framed in baguette diamonds.

Ref. 5304/301R-001 Minute Repeater with a retrograde perpetual calendar


Now in a 43mm rose-gold case set with eighty baguette diamonds, this grand complication was first launched in 2006 in a platinum case. Its new diamond frame boasts 6.22 carats of diamonds on its bezel, lugs and clasp, dramatizing Patek Philippe’s seriously complicated system for clearly displaying the day, month, and leap year cycle with transparent sapphire-crystal disks. To add subplots to the drama, Patek Philippe has also added white-gold inlays with engraved leaf motifs in the case flanks and the repeater slide.

The back offers its own window into the architecture of the self-winding caliber R 27 PS QR LU movement, most notably the minute repeater mechanism with two gongs. The viewer can also watch the whirring of the centrifugal governor during chiming. Finally, Patek Philippe artisans re-imagined the finished here with a leaf motif now visible on the rose gold mini-rotor. Patek Philippe has built so many stunning technical and artisanal highlights into this watch, we highly recommend you view the brands’ own visual tour, available here.

A clear view into Patek Philippe’s R 27 PS QR LU movement, showing the minute repeater mechanism with two gongs.

 

De Bethune bills its new DB25 GMT Starry Varius as the smaller (42mm) alternative to the 45mm DB25 World Traveller, which debuted in 2016. For the most part, that’s true, though you won’t find a series of city names positioned around the dial on this new dual-time model to quickly display global times.

The new De Bethune DB25 GMT Starry Varius.

The new watch, however, adds a GMT function to the displays, which smartly retains the original model’s multi-level, concentric spheres and its unusual miniature gold and blued-steel orb, dubbed the ‘microsphere.’

In its smaller guise (42mm by 11.8mm), the new watch also retains other characteristics De Bethune builds into its entire DB25 Starry Varius collection. These include a polished grade-5 titanium case, a starry sky accompanied by its Milky Way and De Bethune’s characteristic integrated, open-worked lugs.

Reading the dial

With the date visible in the central disc visa a jumping hand, the two time zones can be discerned with a check of the blued central hands (local time) and the mysteriously circling dual-metal orb (second ‘home’ time). You’ll even know whether it’s daytime or nighttime at home thanks to the orb’s two halves: one blue (evening) and the other pink gold (daytime). For added realistic affect, the slow-rotating microsphere very gradually reveals both sunrise and sunset.

De Bethune’s microsphere is an unusual miniature gold and blued-steel orb that displays both a second time zone and daytime and nighttime.

To add an even more poetic display to the dial, De Bethune places a polished pink gold sun in the dial’s center, just across from the beautifully blued and polished titanium miniature night sky dotted with white gold ‘star’ pins.

De Bethune powers its new DB25 GMT Starry Varius with its hand-wound Caliber DB2507, the independent watchmaker’s twenty-ninth movement.

De Bethune powers its new GMT Starry Varius with its hand-wound Caliber DB2507, the independent watchmaker’s twenty-ninth movement.

Visible through the watch’s sapphire caseback, the movement operates by drawing on an extensive list of advanced features, all of which again underscore De Bethune’s well-earned reputation for technical mastery.

Just a partial list of these features includes: A titanium balance with white gold inlays, a balance spring with a De Bethune flat terminal curve, an escape-wheel made of silicon and a regulator held in place by a triple pare-chute system which combines a titanium bridge held in place by a leaf-spring system. The movement’s two barrels, which are partially visible from the caseback, boast an impressive five-day power reserve. Price: $110,000.

Through a new in-store digital application, Bulgari watch customers can now design their own Bulgari Octo Roma Naturalia, a 44mm manual-wind watch with a tourbillon and eye-catching stone-set bridges and mainplate.

One of three base models of Bulgari’s Octo Roma Naturalia, showing malachite version in a rose gold case.

The Bulgari app, called Maestria, allows the budding watch designer/owner to choose from three decorative natural stones: onyx, lapis lazuli and malachite. Any of these three stones can be placed onto the Octo Roma Naturalia’s skeletonized bridges/markers and on the mainplate within a rose gold, titanium or platinum case.   

This version of the customizable Bulgari Octo Roma Naturalia shows a black titanium case with onyx.

 

Available since April at Bulgari boutiques, and planned for the brand’s high-jewelry events in the future, the Maestria process starts when a Bulgari salesperson logs on and leads the customer through a series of steps that offer the customer a choice of stone, case material, case setting (including diamonds) and any engraving on the back.

Bulgari explains that once the design is chosen, its watchmakers will select the customer’s favored stone, which will then be hand cut and polished. When this step is complete, watchmakers will then insert thin slices of the same stone onto the skeletonized components as both markers and as the watch’s mainplate.

An additional slice of the chosen stone will also be inserted into the movement itself. All watches will be set with the Bulgari manual-wind caliber BVL206 with flying tourbillon.

In all, Maestria will offer the customer thirty customizable variations of the Octo Roma Naturalia. Base prices: $89,000 (onyx in titanium), $129,000 (malachite in rose gold) and $243,000 (lapis lazuli in platinum with diamonds).

The customizable Bulgari Octo Roma Naturalia, with lapis lazuli and diamonds set within a platinum and gold case.

The dial on the latest elegant Grand Seiko Spring Drive watch beautifully mimics the undulations of lake Suwa when its surface is frozen, a natural phenomenon called Omiwatari.

Grand Seiko says its watchmakers and dial designers were inspired by the lake to create the ice-blue dial on the new SBGY007, a 38.5mm steel watch.

The new Grand Seiko SBGY007.

To make the dial, Grand Seiko artisans at the Shinshu Watch Studio near Lake Suwa hammered the dial’s mold to create the visible edges and the round shape, then polished the indexes and sharpened the hands.

Thanks to these angles and colors, light glimmers across the hands and dial, a result said to reflect Grand Seiko’s Nature of Time design philosophy.

Grand Seiko powers the watch with its own hybrid, super-precise Spring Drive Caliber 9R31, with dual barrels that deliver a power reserve of 72 hours when fully wound. Turning the watch over, viewers can eye the nicely finished Spring Drive movement, beautifully flecked with tempered blue screws and its power reserve indicator.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Caliber 9R31

Grand Seiko expects this new SBGY007 to be made available in early July at Grand Seiko Boutiques and retail partners. Price: $8,300.

Specifications: Grand Seiko Elegance Collection SBGY007

Movement: Manual-winding Spring Drive Caliber 9R31. 
Driving system: Spring Drive with accuracy: ±1 second per day / ±15 seconds per month (average) power reserve: 72 Hours.  

Dial: Hand-hammered ice blue, polished and faceted hands and markers.

Case: 38.5mm by 10.2mm steel, water resistant to 30 meters.

Strap: Black crocodile with blue stitching.

Price: $8,300.

By Stuart Gleich

I am the proud owner of a 1965 Accutron Spaceview with its humming tuning fork. Love to hold that baby up to my ear and listen to that tuning fork just hum its little heart out!

Obtaining this watch was no easy task. Thank goodness for the expertise of John at Budget Accutron in Waterford, Michigan. The watch looks like new!

So, one year ago, when I first read about Accutron’s intention to possibly release their electrostatic Spaceview 2020, I dreamed about possibly having one on my wrist.

The Accutron Spaceview 2020.

And then the announcement came and Accutron’s 60th Anniversary electrostatic Spaceview was due for release at the end of October 2020.

I began to investigate the possibility of working out a trade with for one by saying goodbye to some of personal favorite timepieces. All served me well over the years and brought me much happiness.

I found my way to Exquisite Timepieces in Florida, where Evan Richardson is the proprietor. Communications went back and forth concerning three watches that I hoped I could put toward a trade for this technological marvel.

My 1965 Accutron Spaceview

So, with my Meistersinger Monograph, my Tissot Squelette and my Ball Watch Trainmaster Power Glow and the balance in U.S. currency, I was able to order my newest edition!

What makes this all so sweet is that I own an original Accutron Spaceview.  By 1962 the Accutron wristwatch was adopted by NASA’s Mercury 7 astronauts, United States Air Force and civilian test pilots, and even by CIA pilots flying the A12 reconnaissance aircraft.

My two Accutron Spaceviews, side by side.

And now I have the two side by side. What is old, using a technology that was state of the art back in the 1960s has again truly become new and revolutionary, once again, in 2020.

 

A small watchmaking venture started as an experiment continues to design watches that offer simple solutions and unorthodox displays for complex timekeeping functions.   

By James Henderson

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of one of the longest running experiments in the watch business. Back in 2006, Ludwig Oechslin (of Ulysse Nardin fame and until 2014 curator of the Musée International d’Horlogerie (MIH) in La Chaux-de-Fonds) and his fellow Ochs und Junior co-founders asked the watch world a contrary question – if you could buy a watch with complications that were distilled down to their most basic level, would you?

Dr. Ludwig Oechslin

Then they took it a few steps further. What if the case was not polished, but somewhat, well, basic?

In other words, what if you could buy a watch conceived by one of the most famous watch creators of recent times, one that possessed marvelous complications that apart from the dial of the watch, remained hidden away beneath a solid caseback?

In a world where watches are meant to be highly polished and eerily similar in look and feel, what if you went a different way?

The famed 39mm Ochs und Junior Annual-Calendar. Check out this video of Ludwig Oechslin explaining the date spiral for his perpetual calendar, which is also relevant for his moon phase watch.

Fast-forward to 2021. While the experiment continues, it appears to be a resounding success with Ludwig Oechslin and Ochs und Junior continuing to swim against the mainstream. Here’s a short, three-part history of the idiosyncratic watchmaker.

The Foundation

 This period involves Ludwig Oechslin, Beat Weinmann and Kurt König (the owner of Embassy, the Lucerne-based jewelry store that Beat Weinmann was working for at the time). Ochs und Junior produced a very small number of esoteric watches. These were known to a small group of collectors.

The Ochs und Junior Two-Timezones Date with rose gold PVD.

The Growth Period

This was when Ulysse Nardin was brought in as a partner and Ochs und Junior set up shop in a studio space, a little bit off the beaten path in Lucerne.

The Ochs Period

In 2019, after a lot of thought and consultation within the family, Kornelia Imesch and Ludwig Oechslin bought all the shares of Ochs und Junior. But it is important to note that this was only done once it was clear that some of the “Junior Ochs” would join the company.  And to that end, it has been agreed that two of the younger Oechslins will be joining the team, which is now based in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Inside the Ochs und Junior Annual Calendar.

Ochs und Junior today is a family company, led by Dr. Ludwig Oechslin. The rest of the band includes Christian Gafner, who is head of brand and design, Violaine Baudouin, the marketing chief, and Louise Krank (a junior), communication designer. The company’s watchmakers are Jost Schlatter and Masaki Kanazawa, who is a Master Watchmaker for Ludwig Oechslin’s special projects.

Ludwig Oechslin’s ideas will continue to set the tone moving forward, which is really what has made Ochs und Junior what it is today. As the company evolves, it continues to grow through experimentation. Below are some of Ochs und Junior’s most recent designs.

All three Ochs und Junior Calendario Cent’anni models.

The Calendario Cent’anni

This 100-year calendar, designed by Ludwig Oechslin, features a dial with indication of hours, minutes and seconds in addition to correct date, month, leap or non-leap year. The 40mm watch is titanium and is powered by a Ulysse Nardin UN-320 automatic movement. The Arabic character or indices with hour/minute hands are coated with SuperLuminova.

The Calendario Cent’anni (CCAII), a 100-year calendar.

Here’s how it shows the time and date:

  • The dates (28, 29, 30 or 31 days of any month) are visible for 100 years, without needing correction for the length of any month (including February in leap years), and are displayed via a traveling, rectangular dot on the date spiral.
  • The month and leap years are on a central rotating disk. The leap year and the three following years are displayed on a decentralized disc, rotating together with the position of the month-display. Finally, the central hour and minutes with the seconds rotating are seen on a small disk at 6 o’clock.

    The Calendario Cent’anni (CCAI), or 100-year calendar.

Prices begin at CHF 15,230 (approximately $16,600).

The Settimana Limited

This watch is designed to help savor a favorite day of the week, allowing the wearer to set six “standard” days and one “extra special” one. It colorfully indicates hours, minutes and seconds, and all seven weekdays by clockwise rotating dot between 1 o’clock and 7 o’clock.

The trio of Settimana models. They colorfully indicate hours, minutes and seconds, and all seven weekdays by clockwise rotating dot between 1 o’clock and 7 o’clock.

The titanium-cased Settimama measures 36mm in diameter and is powered by a Sellita SW 200-1 automatic movement. The watch is available in three limited color versions of 11 pieces each. Prices start at CHF 3,046, or approximately $3,300.

The new Moonphase Trilogy. All are 39mm and cased in titanium

Ochs und Junior moonphase

This special edition of the Ochs und Junior Moon Phase is available for pre-order in three 39mm variations, and can be purchased as a trio or individually.

The 39mm moonphase Emerald Green model features a lacquered dial with black galvanized moon disk and golden markers and hands. It also features a jade-stone as the sun at the 12 o’clock position.

Option one features a black galvanized dial and red lacquer-coated moon disk with red markers and hands with a case of black PVD-coated titanium. Another option has a red lacquer-coated dial with black galvanized moon disk, black markers and hands in a titanium case. Option number three has an emerald-green lacquer-coated dial with black galvanized moon disk, and gold colored markers and hands. This emerald green watch will feature a jade sun at the 12 o’clock position. The straps are made from red or black textile with a titanium buckle. Prices: CHF 7,400, or approximately $8,100.

The Ochs und Junio Moonphase with black galvanic dial.

And there are more interesting developments to come, but suffice it to say after fifteen years Ochs und Junior is here to stay.