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.
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 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.
De Bethune’s new diver, introduced late last year and affectionately called the Yellow Submarine, brings a whole new look to the dive genre. While the DB28GSVY embraces the warmer tones of gold, amber and orange, its case and components are not crafted in gold but are actually made from heat-treated titanium and steel.
Mounted on De Bethune’s articulated case/lug platform, the Yellow Submarine embodies the past and future of watchmaking in a single case. Space-age design and materials are married to traditional watchmaking solutions and then taken to the next level.
Powering the watch is the DeBethune manual-wind caliber DB2080, which is comprised of 400 individual components, including 51 jewels. Power reserve is stretched to five days thanks to a dual-barrel system as well as the fine-tuned escapement, with its titanium balance, white gold inserts and a profile designed to minimize fluid friction. The balance wheel cycles at 28,800 beats per hour.
Releasing power to the unique balance is an escape wheel crafted in silicon. The entire escapement assembly is protected by a triple Pare-Chute system developed in-house by De Bethune. Other unique aspects to this particular timepiece include that it eschews the normal practice of slathering luminous paint everywhere to read the time. Only the hands have slim strips of lume while an amazing electro-mechanical system creates light via a micro-dynamo and LED lighting system activated by the push of the actuator at 6 o’clock.
Push the button and watch the repeater-like regulator spin while four LED sources cast light across the dial. Since this is technically a dive watch it also incorporates a rotating bezel, but in this case the outer coin-edge grip actually rotates an inner rehaute with pierced cutouts showing beautiful blue numerals. The 44mm case mounts the crown at 12 o’clock. Each example of the twenty-five in this very limited edition is priced at $110,000.
Junghans celebrates its 160th anniversary this year with an impressive array of new watches that primarily feature the German-based watchmaker and clockmaker’s historically based Max Bill and Meister collections.
In addition, Junghans adds a limited-edition model to its newer, minimalist Form line while also reviving a long-time favorite kitchen clock/timer it originally debuted in the 1950s.
Here, we’ll focus on the additions to the Meister line, with special attention to the Meister Signature Hand-winding Edition 160. Look to future postings for details about the clock and the Max Bill collection updates, or check them out here on the Junghans website.
The new Meister Signature Hand-winding Edition 160 is a manual-wind model cased in 18-karat gold and fit with an interesting Junghans movement that oscillates at a leisurely 18,000 bph. Measuring a wrist-friendly 39mm in diameter, the limited edition (of 160) watch recalls dress watch styling from the 1960s and 1970s, which Junghans underscores with a decidedly retro rendition of its brand name, as seen on Junghans products of yore.
Junghans produced the original J620 hand-winding movement between 1966 and 1975 and utilized it for a wide range of mechanical three-hand wristwatches. The J620 can also be found in the Junghans Olympic series of 14-karat gold watches made in 1971 and 1972.
For the new watch, Junghans has disassembled, decorated and reassembled existing, historical J620 movements, plating each with a coat of 18-karat rose gold for good measure. And Junghans has thoughtfully provided a clear sapphire caseback to view the work. Price: $9,800.
Meister Power Reserve
Displaying an unusual vertical power reserve indicator just above the 6 o’clock position, the new Meister Gangreserve (power reserve) Edition 160 echoes a similar design Junghans released in the 1950s.
As the power reserve recedes, the indicator’s color on the steel-bracelet model gradually changes from green to yellow and finally to red, which indicates that it’s time to wind the automatic watch again. Two leather-strap models are more subtle: When fully charged, the indicator shows the dial color (see example below). At fifty percent power, the indicator turn gray, and when power drops to zero, the indicator shows red. The Meister Gangreserve Edition 160 is limited to only 160 watches in each of three versions. Prices start at $1,700.
Meister Fein Automatic
This very modern design features a new convex case to frame its minimalist dial. Though not technically thin, it appears so on the wrist with a 39.5mm diameter, almost absent bezel and long hands and markers.
Only a date window interrupts the finely detailed dial. Inside, Junghans places a self-winding (ETA-based) J800.1 movement with a power reserve of up to 38 hours. Prices begin at $1,450.
Meister S Chronoscope, Platinum Edition 160
Junghans cases its most limited anniversary model in polished platinum. The Chronoscope is one of the brand’s top sellers, and here Junghans creates a twelve-piece numbered edition, with the limited edition number cleverly noted within the twelve-hour counter.
The 45mm by 15.9mm watch features a screwed solid platinum case back with edition logo engraving and a platinum screwed crown (and tube). Its dial reflects the precious case with a gold-hued markers and a nice lacquer finish that fades from matte silver-plate in the center to grey at the edge, set with luminous markers.
The synthetic rubber strap features an alligator leather inlay and a platinum buckle. Price: $19,200.
Movement: Historical hand-winding Junghans movement J620 with a power reserve of up to 45 hours, 18,000 bph, rose-gold plated, sunburst ratchet wheel, polished barrel bridge, gear bridge and balance cock with fine longitudinal grinding, stones in polished, bowl-shaped countersinks, outside with fine diamond cut, polished steel screws, Junghans star and caliber number engraving.
Case: 39mm by 10.3mm rose gold, five-times screwed gold caseback with sapphire crystal with anti-reflection coating on both sides, domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflection coating on both sides. Water resistant to 100 meters.
Dial: Matte silver-plated, minute track with applied dots, dauphin hands with diamond cut.
If Ulysse Nardin’s Freak isn’t unconventional enough for you, this week the Le Locle-based watchmaker unveils a limited edition of the famed Freak that doubles-down on its dial-free carrousel-movement display with an even freakier pattern. Where earlier Ulysse Nardin Freak X models show the time atop a blue or black movement plate, the new Ulysse Nardin Freak X Razzle Dazzle offers a hypnotic black and white movement plate.
Those with wartime nautical knowledge might recognize the pattern from a painting technique employed to camouflage British ships in World War I, and to a lesser extent in World War II. Called ‘dazzle camouflage,’ or ‘razzle dazzle’ or ‘dazzle painting,’ the pattern was one of many unusual warship patterns created to attract attention.
Drawing from its long history as a manufacturer of nautical timekeepers, Ulysse Nardin explains that the crossing lines are “meant to confuse the viewer and make it difficult to estimate the range, speed and direction of the ship, therefore misleading the enemy in regard to the ship’s course and resulting in the adversary making poor target firing decisions.”
To create the razzle-dazzle pattern on the Freak X, Ulysse Nardin’s artisans devised a new movement plate finish that combines three different dial-making techniques: lacquer, electroplating or galvanic treatment, and laser cutting. The resulting pattern is essentially a miniature optical illusion on your wrist.
Remember that since the Freak X has no traditional dial and no standard hands, its central bridge acts as a minute hand with one of the wheels indicating the hours. Thus, the entire movement plate turns once an hour to indicate the time. As it slowly rotates, the black and white lines create eye-catching patterns, ostensibly to dazzle the viewer.
Ulysse Nardin is making thirty Freak X Razzle Dazzle watches, each cased in titanium with a black DLC 43mm case and a black openwork rubber leather strap with “point de bride” stitches and rubber, or a white openwork calfskin leather strap with “point de bride” stitches. Price: $27,300.
Specifications: Ulysse Nardin Freak X Razzle Dazzle
Movement: Caliber UN-230, self-winding flying carrousel movement rotating around its own axis, extra-large diameter silicium oscillator, super-light 3 Hz silicium balance wheel, extra-wide, with nickel flyweights and stabilizing micro-blades. Index & bridges with SuperLuminova, 72-hour power reserve.
Case: 43mm titanium with black DLC, sandblasted & satin finish, sapphire crystal back, 50-meters of water resistance.
Dial: Razzle Dazzle pattern (decorative plate).
Strap: Black openwork rubber leather strap with “point de bride” stitches and rubber or white openwork calfskin leather strap with “point de bride” stitches.
Just ahead of Mother’s Day, Franck Muller unveils a bouquet of blooming beauty with the new Vanguard Rose Skeleton. And unlike many floral-themed timepieces, the new watch’s petals are more than an afterthought. The flowers on the watch are actually cut from the bridges and the bottom plate of the Franck Muller manual-wind movement.
This design enhances the technicality of what might be a classical skeleton movement that exposes the balance, barrel and gear train. Franck Muller’s artisans have hand-painted flowers within the caliber, varying the hues to match a rainbow of strap and case color options.
With a case measuring a moderate 32mm by 42.3mm, the Vanguard Rose Skeleton is sized for thinner wrists. This fit is enhanced by the caliber’s trim design, keeping the watch a fairly thin 9.9mm from crystal to back.
Franck Muller has built its own high-efficiency escapement for the movement, which helps provide a full four-day power reserve to the watch. And beyond the eye-catching floral enameling, the watchmaker’s artisans have attended to smaller, traditional finishing details. Artisans have mirror-polished and chamfered the bridges and the main plate, brushed and chamfered of all the steel components and have added fine circular brushing to the barrel and wheels.
As noted, Franck Muller is offering its Vanguard Rose Skeleton in a variety of color and case material variations. These options include models set with diamonds on two or on five of the roses, as well as options with a diamond-set case. Prices begin at CHF 20,800 (about $22,800) for a non-diamond model.
International Watch recently spoke with Omega CEO Raynald Aeschlimann, a watch industry veteran who first joined Omega in 1996 and who has led the watchmaking giant as CEO since 2016. He discussed Omega’s focus on innovation and precision, especially regarding the Master Chronometer certification process. In addition, we learn more about Omega’s celebrity sponsorships as well as its development of pre-owned Omega sales.
Read the full interview below.
By Vasken Chokarian
iW Magazine: Having been at Omega for more than two decades, how do you see your brand’s evolution to date?
Raynald Aeschlimann: When I first joined Omega in 1996, the brand was beginning to really make some important moves. It was around that time that we signed our first ambassador, Cindy Crawford, as well as forming new partnerships such as James Bond and Team New Zealand. It was a really critical era for growing our brand around the world.
Since then, I have been a part of so many fantastic changes and evolutions within the company. Especially in terms of Master Chronometer precision and the development of new materials and digital sales, we are constantly seeking to improve and lead the industry. I am very proud of the company we are today.
Omega invested quite heavily on in-house movement production and creativity. How important is that for the future direction of the product development and the Omega philosophy?
Precision has always been at the heart of Omega. It has always been our ambition to research, innovative and invest in better accuracy. To me, it shows the customer how much we care.It proves that we give everything possible to improve even the smallest margins of quality. For that reason, exceptional movements are a symbol of Omega’s identity and we will continue to maintain that philosophy into the future.
Tell us about the essence of the Master Chronometer certification at Omega.
To gain a chronometer rating, most watches in the Swiss industry are certified once by COSC (The Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute). They have specific criteria that a watch must pass. At Omega, we believed that our standards of precision, performance and magnetic resistance were even better than the COSC criteria.
To prove it, we developed “Master Chronometer” certification with the help of METAS (The Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology). Today, after passing the COSC tests, our Omega watches also face an additional eight METAS tests, which are much more stringent and with even finer criteria.
For the customer, this adds trust and confidence. They can buy an Omega Master Chronometer knowing that it has been double certified and proven at the very highest level of excellence.
After twenty-two years of the Co-Axial, what have you learned from both a technical and consumer perspective about this movement?
From a technical perspective, Co-Axial has been a massive success. It has showed that Omega is able to revolutionize the watch movement, not only in terms of quality, but also doing it on an industrial scale. That was the challenge that other brands couldn’t overcome. For our customers, it’s yet another improvement on quality.
The Co-Axial system produces less friction, and therefore less wear, so you don’t need to have the watch serviced as often. But it has also been the gateway to achieving more movement innovation, such as the silicon balance spring and other non-magnetic materials. All of these improvements are the main reason that our Omega watches are given a full and impressive five-year warranty.
There seems to be a migration of brands to the sustainable and/or carbon neutral approach. How will Omega engage if at all on these causes?
The environment is an important consideration for our brand. In recent years, we’ve partnered with organizations such as the GoodPlanet Foundation and NEKTON to raise awareness about the planet’s needs.
At a watchmaking level, we’ve also been making changes to the way we work. Our newest factory is perhaps the most impressive example. The sustainable development was built with an ingenious indoor climate and renewable energy concept, along with other beneficial systems. I think it’s important to adapt to this modern way of working.
Do you believe in the perception of investing in R&D is the way forward for a Swiss watch manufacturing brand? How challenging would that be with the business aspects of the industry?
I believe innovation is the key to any progressive business. Watchmaking is a traditional industry, but we still need to find ways of pushing ourselves forward and keeping our products relevant to the modern consumer. Investment is a big part of that, and the Swiss industry needs to maintain its position as the leader of global watchmaking. Every brand does it differently, but I know that Omega is always seeking to innovate. Having the support and expertise of the Swatch Group is a big part of helping us to do that.
How bad has it been at Omega with the global pandemic?
I wouldn’t use the word “bad”. Certainly, it’s been a challenging time and we’ve all ensured some unexpected months. But Omega is a company that has been going since 1848. We’ve witnessed massive global and economic upheaval during our lifetime, but we’ve always found a way to adapt and progress.
Right now, we’re adapting our strategy to what is going on, but I’m confident we’ll see more positive times ahead.
Are there plans for Omega to be involved in the pre-owned sphere of their own brand? If so, how?
Absolutely. In fact, we are already underway in this area. The interest in the pre-owned and vintage market is increasing rapidly around the world, and we feel we have a duty to help and support its growth.
Just recently, we launched the Certificate of Authenticity, which enables pre-owned Omegas to be checked and verified by our experts in Switzerland. It helps to create trust and confidence for those buying and selling, and provides a bit more transparency in the market.
Omega celebrity-ambassadors and sponsorships are a huge segment of Omega commitments. Do they add a lot of pressure to constantly perform year in and year out?
It’s not pressure, it’s enjoyment! The heritage and passions of Omega are unlike any other brand and they give us so much to celebrate every year. We have teams and experts dedicated to every area, so we’re always on top of each project. And with so much diversity, comes a lot of creativity. Things like James Bond, the Olympic Games and golf allow us to craft some very special timepieces that people around the world really love. If you plan well and use your time wisely, there shouldn’t be any pressure.
How committed is Omega to Swiss Made?
Omega is proudly Swiss Made, and it’s an important part of our identity. We see it as a mark of quality and a world-renowned symbol of excellence. Omega goes beyond the required Swiss Made standard, with almost every single part of our watches being made and assembled right here in Switzerland.
What challenges await the Swiss watchmaking industry and its future development?
Perhaps the most obvious challenge is keeping watches attractive to a new and younger generation of wearers. They have access to so much information, videos, blogs, reviews and opinions, so you have to be able to cut through. A big part of that is being authentic and having quality products they can believe in. It’s also important to build a digital presence, not only through social media and websites, but also the development of online sales and communication. I’m pleased to say that Omega is already well ahead in this regard.
Among its many notable 2021 debuts, Patek Philippe earlier this month unveiled two particularly interesting calendar watches. Each introduces a new approach to full-spectrum timekeeping, and, notably, neither debut is cased in gold.
One, the much-discussed in-line Perpetual Calendar (Ref. 5236P-001), is a new perpetual calendar that shows the day, date, and month in a single panoramic aperture at the top of the dial –the first such display in a Patek Philippe wristwatch.
The second calendar model, the Ref. 4947/1A-001 Annual Calendar, places an annual calendar in a steel case and on a steel bracelet. Recall that Patek Philippe pioneered the annual calendar for the wrist in 1996, and this new model is the brand’s first annual-calendar-only watch not cased in a precious metal.
The Perpetual Calendar
Patek Philippe has previously created in-line calendar displays, but strictly for pocket watches. Interestingly, these were made first for the American market. One example from 1972 (No. P- 1450) features a calendar format in the American style (“à l’américaine”), showing month, date, and then day.
Taking a cue from this historic model and a few others, Patek Philippe several years ago challenged itself to devise such a display in miniature for a wristwatch.
Patek Philippe’s watchmakers decided to design a system with two date disks – one for the tens and one for the units. This meant that the entire calendar display would require four disks, one for the day, two for the date, and one for the month, and all needed to be embedded in the same plane.
To accomplish this, and to maintain a thin caliber, Patek Philippe’s watchmakers built the new movement based on the caliber found in the Ref. 5235 Annual Calendar Regulator from 2011. The caliber in the Ref. 5235 features an off-center micro-rotor, which opens up space for the additional 118 components required to construct the in-line display.
Patek Philippe then had to re-engineer the caliber to more efficiently drive the extra energy required by a perpetual calendar. The firm’s watchmakers increased the torque of the spring barrel 20 percent and boosted the winding power by utilizing a platinum rotor rather than the more typical gold rotor.
And finally, Patek Philippe improved the caliber’s overall rate stability by increasing the frequency from 3.2 to 4 Hz (28,800 semi-oscillations per hour).
The resulting new automatic, ultra-thin caliber 31-260 PS QL boasts a recessed mini-rotor and a customized module for which Patek Philippe has filed three patents. In addition to powering the date display, the movement also powers two round displays that show the leap-year cycle as well as the day/night indications. A further window displays the moon phases.
Patek Philippe is launching the Perpetual Calendar Ref. 5236P-001 in a hand-polished 41.3mm x 11.07mm platinum case. Its handsome blue dial offers nicely gradated black at the edges. It arrives on a matching navy blue alligator leather strap secured with a fold-over clasp. Price: $130,108.
The new Patek PhilippeRef. 4947/1A-001 Annual Calendar finds the manufacturer re-designing the ultra-practical complication to fit within a steel Calatrava case for the first time. Equally interesting, the Calatrava is attached to an all-new steel bracelet.
You might recall that Patek Philippe invented the wrist-borne Annual Calendar in 1996, effectively creating an entirely new calendar watch category for itself (and many other high-end watchmakers.)
Requiring only one manual correction per year (at the end of February), the annual calendar brings with it a convenient, and moderately priced, calendar function to those who would like the all-encompassing coverage of a perpetual calendar, but balk at the high cost of nearly all examples of the mechanical complication.
Until this new model, Patek Philippe has offered its annual calendar in various ladies’ and men’s models, all in either gold or platinum cases.
The new 38mm steel-cased Patek Philippe Ref. 4947/1A-001 Annual Calendar offers a polished steel bezel that matches the new, totally integrated steel bracelet. Patek Philippe has created a luxurious five-row bracelet made of fully polished links and a fold-over clasp.
The blue dial on the new watch is patterned with vertical and horizontal satin finishes that appear textured, as on a matte linen fabric. This assures that the dial contrasts nicely with polish of the case and bracelet, creating a surprisingly contemporary overall appearance.
The watch’s calendar displays are easy to read: Two subsidiary dials between 9 and 10 o’clock indicate the day and, between 2 and 3 o’clock, the month; the date appears in an aperture at 6 o’clock just below a moon-phase display rounds out the calendar functions.
From the back, the wearer can enjoy a clear view of the beautifully finished automatic Patek Philippe caliber 324 S QA LU movement. The watch is nicely sized at 38mm and not too fussy, particularly given its array of calendar functions. It also holds a unique position within the Patek Philippe lineup, especially with its steel case and bracelet. If you’ve been waiting for a steel-cased Patek that is not a Nautilus and not a chronograph, this might be your new watch.
Specifications:Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar (Ref. 5236P-001)
Movement: Self-winding mechanical Caliber 31‑260 PS QL. In-line perpetual calendar. Day, date, month, leap year and day/night indication in apertures. Small seconds.
Greubel Forsey debuts its first metal bracelet today as it adds contemporary updates to its titanium GMT Sport. The all-new, fully integrated titanium bracelet echoes the new look of the unusual elliptical bezel, complete with the high level of hand finishing you’d expect from Greubel Forsey.
You might recall that when this high-end watchmaker first showed the world the GMT Sport in 2019, the watch’s distinctive ovoid bezel attracted just as much attention as the watch’s new movement featuring such Greubel Forsey specialties as a Tourbillon 24 Seconds and eye-catching three-dimensional GMT globe.
Likewise, the new bracelet here might garner outsized attention given its premiere status for this brand. Greubel Forsey has devised a three-link bracelet finished with many of the same styles we see on the 45mm-by-15.7mm case and bezel, notably straight graining, frosting and top-tier hand-polished beveling.
Greubel Forsey notes that it opted to frost-finish the lugs to better emphasize how the case and bracelet link directly along an uninterrupted row. The somewhat darker frosting continues along both edges of the bracelet as well, underscoring the visual unity of the two components.
Functionally, the bracelet features a fine adjustment system that allows the wearer to quickly loosen or tighten the bracelet’s fit. The watch will also arrive with a blue rubber strap with text in relief and a titanium folding clasp with engraved logo.
While adding a bracelet to the GMT Sport, Greubel Forsey has also removed something: The GMT Sport’s wide, undulating bezel is now free of the raised engraved text espousing the brand’s values. Instead, the elliptical bezel, which curves gently at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock, is cleaner, sporting expert hand-finished horizontal straight graining on top and a hand-polished frame.
Thus, instead of reading words like ‘perfection’ and ‘harmonie’, the wearer can focus on the GMT Sport’s intricate, multi-dimensional dial components and displays amid the bright new blue and titanium color scheme.
Indeed, the new color scheme of this GMT Sport highlights a matte blue finish on the mainplate, bridges, globe, second time zone dial and 24-second indicator ring of the Tourbillon 24 Seconds. The color nicely contrasts with the polished components of the steel and titanium movement components.
In addition, to draw attention to new blue color scheme, Greubel Forsey has decided to skeletonize the highly visible central suspended arched bridge and the tourbillon bridge.
The blue color splashes across the multi-level dial plates, replacing the dark grey hue of the previous GMT Sport. Between the blue plates wearers can check the time via a central hours and minutes display while eyeing a second time zone at 10 o’clock, a power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock and the GMT rotating terrestrial globe at 8 o’clock.
The GMT globe, first seen in 2011 and used within the GMT Black in 2015, displays the second time zone (as seen on the auxiliary dial just above at 10 o’clock). When the wearer combines this with the globe’s universal time display, he or she can read the current time anywhere in the world. And of course a wearer can enjoy the whirling Tourbillon 24 Secondes, positioned between 12 o’clock and 2 o’clock, which contributes to the watch’s high level of precision.
Greubel Forsey will make the new GMT Sport with the new titanium bracelet in a limited edition of thirty-three units. The price has not yet been announced, though the previous GMT Sport was priced at $500,000.
Specifications: Greubel Forsey GMT Sport
Features: In titanium, blue movement, limited edition hand-wound movement with three patents, GMT, 2nd time zone indication, rotating globe with universal time and day-and-night, universal time on 24 time zones, summer and wintertime indication, cities observing summer time, 24-second tourbillon, hours and minutes, small seconds, power-reserve indictor.
Movement: Greubel Forsey manual-wind caliber with 63 domed jewels in gold chatons, Tourbillon inclined at a 25° angle 1 rotation in 24 seconds, 72-hour power reserve, 21,600 bph,
Case: 45mm (with bezel) by 17.8mm (with crystals) titanium with curved synthetic sapphire crystal, three-dimensional, variable geometry-shaped bezel, hand-polished with hand-finished straight graining, 100-meter water resistance. O back is a sapphire disc displaying city names surrounded by 2 rings
Bracelet: New three-row metal bracelet in titanium, folding clasp with integrated fine adjustment, engraved GF logo. Also: rubber with text in relief, titanium folding clasp, engraved GF logo.
With this week’s debut, the DB28XP Meteorite, De Bethune has underscored its fascination – and expertise – at using material hewn from meteorites as watch dials.
The independent watchmaker has placed the extraterrestrial material into several of its watches over the years, including as the dial material for the brand’s Dream Watch 5 Meteorite and on the DB28 Kind of Blue Tourbillon Meteorite. This latest example highlights the eye-catching dial by framing it with the well-known ‘floating lug’ De Bethune DB28 case, now dramatically finished in matte black zirconium.
De Bethune differentiates its meteorite dials from others by heating the space-borne slice, a process that results in a spectacular blue shade while also enhancing the material’s random geometrical crosshatched patterns.
As the newest example of this technique, the dial on the new DB28XP Meteorite mimics its own celestial origins, complete with varying shades of blue, black and even purple. De Bethune takes full advantage of the scene by adding small white gold pins that appear as stars and planets amid the celestial void.
With this ‘sky map’ in mind, De Bethune will allow each DB28XP Meteorite owner to choose to have the brand customize their watch’s dial by specifying a constellation at a specific date, time and place.
Each customized dial will be placed within the DB28XP case, which here remains 43mm in diameter with its familiar round, ultra-thin crown at 12 o’clock, its hunter-type back and, of course, those dramatic architectural lugs.
The dial’s hour circle echoes the darkened case and is topped by an almost hidden De Bethune signature at 12 o’clock. The watch’s pink gold hands are identical to those on the De Bethune DB28XP Starry Sky dial.
With distinctively terrestrial origins, De Bethune’s own Caliber DB2115v7 represents its own mechanical universe. The manual-wind caliber, with its balance visible at the 6 o’clock position, is built with De Bethune’s well-known, award-winning technical proficiency.
Among those proprietary techniques: the use of a titanium balance with white gold weights placed around the rim, a silicon balance wheel, an in-house balance spring with a flat terminal curve and self-regulating twin barrels that ensure six days of power reserve.
Price: $138,000. De Bethune will make ten examples of the new DB28XP Meteorite.
Among its range of 2021 debuts, Grand Seiko adds a new 40mm platinum-cased model within its vintage-inspired Heritage collection. The new watch, called the Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition (SLGH007), features the Caliber 9SA5, the brand’s superb new high-beat movement, and a dial meant to echo the beauty of tree grain, or rings.
The watch debuts amid a 2021 Grand Seiko launch that also includes a new Spring Drive chronograph, a set of Elegance dress watches with dials inspired by the seasons, and a Spring Drive high jewelry model. We’ll show you details about these pieces in upcoming posts.
With its intricate depiction of tree grain, the new limited edition is meant to embody Seiko-founder Kintaro Hattori’s spirit and vision. “As if stretching back to reveal the very roots of Kintaro’s story, a series of delicate and organic lines echo the intricate rings that denote each year’s growth,” according to the brand.
Grand Seiko artisans have devised a dial with a three-dimensional appearance enhanced by how light plays off textural undulations. The wood grain effect appears realistic thanks to a subtle use of dark and light tones across the dial.
Grand Seiko says it plans to echo the design of this new model in the future, dubbing it Series 9, which will feature the larger hands designed to align exactly with grooved hour markers. In addition, this model offers its platinum case finished with a hairline pattern matched with a mirror finish.
As an anniversary piece, the watch’s precious metal is celebrated. On the dial, Grand Seiko places a star at six o’clock to indicate that the indexes are solid gold, as are the GS letters, the calendar frame and the buckle.
Inside, the Grand Seiko Caliber 9SA5 is billed by the brand as its finest – and for many reasons. Primarily, the movement is thinner and is more efficient than earlier automatic calibers, attributes driven in part by a wholly new Dual Impulse Escapement. This Grand Seiko invention combines direct impulse, where power is transferred directly from the escape wheel to the balance, with conventional indirect impulse. Twin barrels also enhance the caliber’s top-rate 80-hour power reserve.
The Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition will be available as a limited edition of 140 at the Grand Seiko Boutiques and selected Grand Seiko retailers worldwide in July 2021. Price: $59,000.
Movement: Automatic ‘Hi-Beat’ 36000 80 Hours Caliber 9SA5 , 36,000 vph (10 beats per second), accuracy (mean daily rate): +5 to –3 seconds per day, power reserve of 80 hours.
Case: 40mm by 11.7mm platinum 950 case and clasp, box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, see-through screw caseback, water resistance to 100 meters, magnetic resistance of 4,800 A/m.
Strap: Crocodile with three-fold clasp with push-button release.