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At the beginning of the 20th century, German-based Junghans was the largest clock manufacturer in the world. When it needed new, larger facilities in which to manufacture those clocks, the company teamed with architect Philipp Jakob Manz, who designed Terrassenbau, a dramatically terraced set of workplace buildings for the clockmaker. The building, in Schramberg, is one of the most spectacular industrial buildings worldwide to be built on a sloping site.

The Junghans Terrassenbau buildings.

The building, which today houses the Junghans museum, instantly became the centerpiece of the sprawling Junghans factory. During the 1950s and 1960s, the heyday of firm’s mechanical movements manufacturing era, Junghans created and manufactured numerous calibers in the building just in front of the site, with caliber and watch assembly conducted in the terrace building itself.

The Junghans Terrassenbau assembly room, pictured in 1920.

The long expanse of windowed floors allowed watchmakers to work with perfect daylight on assembly and regulation, uninterrupted by workers conducting other watchmaking processes.

The Terrace Building now houses the Junghans museum.

New watches

Just two years ago, Junghans celebrated 100 years of the architectural history of the facility with a limited edition, 40.7mm gold-cased Meister Chronoscope Terrassenbau. This year, Junghans debuts two steel-cased, non-chronograph Terrassenbau models, each a 1,500-piece limited edition.

Junghans Meister Classic Terrassenbau, an automatic model. ($1,895)

One, the Meister Classic Terrassenbau (Master Classic) is a three-hand automatic watch with date in a 38.4mm steel case. The second is a 37.7mm steel-cased, manual-wind time-only watch, the Meister Handaufzug Terrassenbau (the Master Handwind) with small seconds. Both watches feature ETA-based calibers upgraded by Junghans.

The Junghans Meister Handaufzug Terrassenbau, a manual-wind model. ($1,695)

In addition to their Terassenbau-colored dials, these new models incorporate elements of the Schramberg facility into their design. For example, the minute track of the matte-silver dial reflects the meandering design of the wall decorations in the terrace building, while the green alligator leather strap echoes the dark green of the wall tiles in the stairways.

The Master Handwind (Meister Handaufzug) Terrassenbau , showing caseback with ‘windows’ exposing the movement.

Even the caseback of each watch reveals a detailed image of the source of inspiration itself, applied using Junghans’ own printing plant. Also from the back, small windows provide a view into each watch’s movement.

The new watches are limited to 1,500 units each. Prices: The Jungians automatic Meister Classic Terrassenbau is $1,895 and the Junghans Meister Handaufzug Terrassenbau, the manual-wind model, is $1,695.

 

When Louis Erard debuted this watch late last year, we knew its days were numbered. This week the independent Swiss watchmaker announced that only a handful of models remain in the limited edition collection featuring a design by famed architect and watchmaker Alain Silberstein.

Available in two limited editions of 178 watches, the watch not only was Silberstein’s first-ever regulator, but it was also the first time Louis Erard had ever turned over its atelier to a guest designer. While the watchmaker did collaborate with watch designer Eric Giroud earlier in 2019 with a redesign of the Louis Erard Excellence Regulator, the collaboration with Silberstein gave the designer carte blanche.

As it turns out, Silberstein hadn’t designed a regulator in his four decades of making colorful, modernistic watches, so the function appealed to him on several levels. Fortunately, this also perfectly tied into the focus function of many existing Louis Erard offerings, primarily within its Excellence collection.

As a display seen historically on clocks used in watchmaking ateliers to set the hands of pocket watches, the regulator focuses the eye on a larger minute hand. Technically, by separating the indications of the hours, minutes and seconds, chronometric precision can improve.

As Alain Silberstein relates in Louis Erard’s promotion of this collaboration, the regulator transports him “far away to the clocks on buildings which historically told the time with just one hand, or to train station clocks.”

The 40mm steel watch is powered by an ETA 7001 manual-wind movement with Louis Erard’s own regulator module.

Two colors

Silberstein created one design with two color combinations for Louis Erard. He started with a large arrow for the central minute hand, which is yellow on the black-dialed version of the watch and deep blue on the white version.

The remainder of the dial shows us pure Silberstein: the geometric simplicity of rectangles, triangles and circles. Bauhaus movement, which in 2019 celebrated 100 years since its birth, inspired Silberstein’s use of primary colors.

The 40mm steel watch, powered by an ETA 7001 manual-wind movement with Louis Erard’s own regulator module, is a bargain at its CHF 2,800 price tag (approximately  $3,000).

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Louis Erard Excellence Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein

Movement: Manual winding regulator with power reserve, ETA Peseux 7001 movement with Louis Erard RE9 complication, 21,600 VpH (3Hz), 42 hours of power reserve. Côtes de Genève decoration, blue screws and Louis Erard engraving. Functions: hours, minutes and seconds. Hour hand on counter at 12 o’clock, central minute hand, seconds hand on counter at 6 o’clock, power reserve hand at 9 o’clock.

Case: 40mm steel or stainless steel + black PVD, 3 parts, sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides, case back with screws, top grade movement visible through the transparent case back, water-resistant up to a pressure of 50 meters, specially-decorated case back crystal with “Alain Silberstein X Louis Erard 1 of 178.”

Dial: Black and white matte or opaline (matte silver). Signature hands designed by Alain Silberstein. Red lacquered hour hand, yellow or blue lacquered minute hand, blue or yellow lacquered seconds hand, white or grey lacquered power reserve hand.

Strap: Black calf leather with signature stitching in red or brown calf leather with signature stitching in blue, pin buckle in stainless steel or stainless steel + black PVD.

Price: CHF 2,800. Developed in collaboration with Alain Silberstein in two limited editions of 178 pieces.

Greubel Forsey has re-engineered the unusual ovoid case it developed for the 2019 GMT Sport to develop the all-new Balancier S,  showcasing a large, high-precision inclined balance wheel and gear train.

Greubel Forsey’s new Balancier S

Now fit with a new movement, the new, sleeker version of that ovoid case frames a dramatic double suspended arched bridge holding an inclined gear train, all adjacent to the large (12.6mm) inclined balance wheel that gives the watch its name.

The Balancier S’s balance, which parallels the lower dial portion and sits at a 30-degree angle, provides what Greubel Forsey terms an “outstanding solution for limiting timing errors due to the effects of gravity on the regulating organ (balance wheel, spring and escapement) in stable positions.”

Recall that the watchmaker has utilized this escapement angle with great success within numerous tourbillon debuts in recent years, including the Tourbillon 24 Secondes, Quadruple Tourbillon and the Double Tourbillon 30°. For the first time however, we’re seeing the inclined balance alone rather than as a component within a tourbillon cage. 

Oval crystal

Like last year’s ovoid debut, the Balancier S appears circular from above, but once seen on the wrist betrays its extensive angular and curved attributes, including an oval, arched sapphire crystal, curved hour and minute hands, integrated lugs and strap and a satin-finished bezel engraved with the familiar script outlining Greubel Forsey’s ‘values.’

The new movement in the Balancier S operates with two coaxial barrels mounted in series offering a 72-hour power reserve (shown at 2 o’clock via a skeletonized red-tipped hand). A small seconds hand at 8 o’clock, also placed at a 30-degree angle, underscores the impressive depth Greubel Forsey built into this new caliber.

The watch’s unusual titanium case, sealed for 100 meters of water resistance, is echoed in a beautifully finished titanium mainplate and titanium bridges, which the watchmakers here say “proved much more difficult for manual hand-finishing than steel or even nickel silver.” Likewise, Greubel Forsey’s finishing reaches its usual high standards with extensive frosting, polished bevels and countersinks, circular and straight graining.

This Balancier S continues Greubel and Forsey’s foray into the sporty frontiers of high-end chronometry. Now that many collectors have made peace with the watch’s unusual ovoid case, expect many to look forward to additional sporty high-horology designs from this highly technical team. I already do.

Price: 195,000 Swiss francs. Eighteen pieces will be made.

 

Specifications: Greubel Forsey Balancier S

Movement: Balancier S manual-wind with 72-hour power reserve, escapement inclined 30 degrees, two coaxial series-coupled fast-rotating barrels, relief-engraved text, circular-grained, black treatment, polished chamfer, titanium and frosted bridges and mainplate, multi-level, suspended-arch bridge, polished with black treatment in relief, polished beveling and countersinks. Movement side: frosted bridges, polished edges and beveling
, gold plate with engraved limitation number.

Case: 45mm by 13.75mm titanium with curved synthetic sapphire crystal, three-dimensional, variable geometry-shaped bezel with raised engraved text, profiled lugs, case band with rubber, transparent back with high domed synthetic sapphire crystal, titanium security screws
, raised engraving. Crown is titanium and rubber with GF logo, color-coded rubber capping, interchangeable.

Dial: Three-dimensional, variable geometry hour-ring, lacquered hours and minutes indexes, power-reserve indicator, engraved and lacquered, gold small seconds dial, rhodium-colored, polished bevel, curved hour and minute hands in polished steel, small seconds w/red finish.

Strap: Rubber with text in relief
, titanium folding clasp, engraved GF logo

Price: 195,000 Swiss francs

We know Jeff Stein as a leading collector of vintage Heuer chronographs, who occasionally dabbles in the newer TAG Heuer models.  It caught our eye when, twelve hours after he received his Fragment Design Heuer 02 chronograph in July, Jeff posted on Instagram that this watch was his “favorite TAG Heuer chronograph, ever . . . and even though you won’t see the name on the watch, the best looking Autavia-inspired chronograph, ever.” 

Below,  Jeff tells us more about his infatuation with this very interesting watch.

The new TAG Heuer Fragment Design Heuer 02 chronograph.

Can you give us the “elevator version” of the Fragment Design Heuer 02 chronograph?

The watch was designed by Hiroshi Fujiwara, a god in the world of streetwear and the creator of Fragment Design. Fujiwara has designed all sorts of interesting things such as guitars for Eric Clapton, sneakers for Nike and Converse, and headphones for Beats. In the watch world, he has designed watches for Rolex and Zenith, as well as a Carrera for TAG Heuer, in November 2018. 

On the Heuer 02 chronograph, Fujiwara incorporated the design language of a 1970s Heuer Autavia into a TAG Heuer Formula 1 chronograph case, with the watch powered by the Heuer 02 movement. 

Why has the Fragment Design Formula 1 chronograph been controversial among the vintage Heuer enthusiasts?

Much of the controversy probably arises from the fact that the watch was inspired by the 1970s Autavias, but resides in the modern case that TAG Heuer uses for its Formula 1 chronographs.  There is no model name on the dial, neither “Autavia” nor “Formula 1,” so some traditionalists might see the watch as something of a Franken, which may be lacking the pure pedigree of either model.

Hiroshi Fujiwara

So how do you come to terms with these issues? 

For years, I have listened to the debates about what is and is not properly identified as an Autavia, a Carrera or a Formula 1.  Some traditionalists say that an Autavia has to be a chronograph, rather than a three-handed watch, or that a Carrera cannot have an outer bezel, because these were the rules when the models were launched in the 1960s. 

I have pretty well gotten over these hard-and-fast rules.  If Jack Heuer had felt constrained by such rules in the 1960s, the Autavia would have never made it from a dashboard timer to a chronograph and we might never have seen Heuer’s automatic chronographs.  Right now, I am more impressed with a brand making great looking, high quality watches and less concerned about the model name on the dial. 

Perhaps there is no requirement for watch models to be binary, so that the brands can incorporate elements of one model into another one.  We saw this recently when TAG Heuer incorporated the colors and style of the 1970s Montreal chronograph into a 1960s-based Carrera, and people liked the result.

The Successor – The last version of the Autavia produced by Heuer in the mid-1980s (Reference 11063, at left) and the Fragment Design Heuer 02 Limited Edition, introduced by TAG Heuer in June 2020.

As a physical object, what are your favorite elements of the Fragment Formula 1 chronograph?

I am a big fan of minimalist design, in general, and like the matte black and charcoal gray tones.  This is a great look in cars and Fujiwara has followed a similar approach with the new Formula 1, using a matte black dial. 

The hands and bezel are taken directly from the 1970s Autavias, but Fujiwara has deleted the elements that made those watches busier — the contrasting white registers, the concentric ridges in the registers and the frame around the date window. 

This is like deleting the chrome on a blacked-out car, and it makes the expanses of black more dramatic.  The red and white accents on the dial are the final touches that give the watch its pop. For several years, the Formula 1 chronographs have been housed in a case with geometry that is very close to the c-shape cases of the 1970s Autavias, so this Autavia color scheme from the 1970s looks right in the Formula 1 case.

And what are the intangibles that you enjoy with the new Fragment Design Formula 1 chronograph?

The Autavias of the 1960s and 1970s were the chronographs worn by the top drivers in motorsports.  We see them on the wrists of Mario Andretti, Jo Siffert, Graham Hill, Derek Bell and many other racers.  Beyond the top professionals, Autavias were popular among the amateurs and club racers, particularly with the Viceroy promotion, which offered a $200 Autavia for $88 with proof of purchase of ten packs of Viceroy cigarettes.  

The tachymeter bezel is the symbol of a racing watch, whether on the Autavia, or the Rolex Daytona or the Omega Speedmaster.  TAG Heuer is positioning the Formula 1 collection as the brand’s racing watches, and there is no better flagship for that collection than a watch that incorporates the design elements of the Autavia, the ultimate racing watch of the 1960s and 1970s.

People in the watch world may think of the Formula 1 as TAG Heuer’s “entry level” model.  How do you reconcile that with the $6,150 price tag on this model?

Essentially, this watch, and a couple of other Formula 1 models recently released by TAG Heuer, serve as a clear statement that the TAG Heuer collections will no longer follow a price hierarchy.  There is no entry-level collection or high-end collection.  Instead, the collections are defined by their aesthetics and purposes. 

The Formula 1 is TAG Heuer’s racing watch and the Autavia will be positioned as the watch for adventure.  To me, this is a much more sensible way to position the collections than just based on their price ranges.  TAG Heuer now offers its in-house Heuer 02 movement in four of its six collections, confirming that no model is relegated to “entry-level” status. 

How do you compare the new Fragment Formula 1 with the other Autavias that have been re-issued by TAG Heuer?

With the arrival of this Fragment Design chronograph, there are basically three series of Autavia re-issues.

The TAG Heuer Fragment Design Heuer 02 Limited Edition flanked by the first of the automatic Autavias, Reference 1163 (circa 1970), and the last one produced by Heuer, Reference 11063 (circa 1983).

In 2003, TAG Heuer offered two versions of a cushion-cased Autavia, one with the black / orange colors and the other with the white / black / blue Siffert colors. 

In 2017, TAG Heuer offered a new Autavia, modeled after the Rindt model from the late 1960s.  After the initial model with the black dial and white registers, we have seen several limited editions, incorporating other color schemes into this same case. 

I like these watches, but the case lacks the real connection to either the manual wind models of the 1960s or the automatic models of the 1970s. 

Every collector will have their own favorite, but to my eye, the Fragment Formula 1 captures the spirit of the 1970s Autavias, with the color scheme, the hands and bezel, and the case geometry. There’s no “Autavia” on the dial, but there’s no doubt about the origins of this watch.

How is the watch on your wrist?

It’s a big watch at 44 millimeters, and I have a small wrist, but it’s a great fit.  The more important measurement might be the thickness, and TAG Heuer has shaved the case to 14.4 millimeters.  That’s not exactly thin, but it makes the 44 millimeter case very wearable.  The bracelet is entirely new, and is relatively thin with a butterfly clasp, which also makes the watch wear smaller.

TAG Heuer has created a new style bracelet for the Fragment Formula 1 chronograph. It’s a five-row stainless steel bracelet, with a folding butterfly clasp.

Why does this watch have the TAG Heuer logo on the dial rather than the Heuer shield?

I believe that TAG Heuer is reserving the “Heuer” shield for re-issues of the heritage models, like the Carrera 160 Years models that we saw earlier in the year.  This Formula 1 is not a re-issue of a heritage model, but a new creation for TAG Heuer.  So it gets the TAG Heuer shield rather than the Heuer shield.What are your personal preferences, as far as the re-issues that so many brands seem to be offering in the year 2020?

In recent years, there has probably been more hand-to-hand combat in the vintage community on the subject of re-issues, re-editions, homages, tributes and the like than on any other single topic.  We see everything from one-to-one recreations of some of the classics, like Breitling and Omega have done with great success, to watches that carry the name, but bear no resemblance to the original models. 

I really like the approach of the two Fragment Design models: take an iconic model, boil it down to find the essence of the design, then punch up the elements that provide the style and feel of the original period. 

Echoing the TAG Heuer Fragment Carrera, Fujiwara also places thunderbolts at the center of the case back and the word “Fragment” between 4 and 5 o’clock.

On the Fragment Carrera, we see the power of the oversized registers; on the Fragment Formula 1, we see the dramatic black paint and the red accents, with the distinctive hands and bezel.  These elements defined the racers chronograph in 1970 and, fifty years later they continue to capture the excitement of racing.  To me, capturing this timelessness is the ultimate success of a re-edition.

Other than the Fragment Design models, which are your favorite of TAG Heuer’s heritage-inspired models?

I like the Limited Edition Skipper that was a collaboration with Hodinkee back in 2017, and the Carrera 160 Years Montreal Limited Edition from earlier this year. 

The Skipper captured the colors and spirit of one of the Heuer grails, the original Skipper from 1967, but took some liberties (for example, having a 30-minute register rather than the 15-minute count-down register). 

The Carrera Montreal took even more liberties, incorporating the colors and vibe of a wild-looking 1972 Montreal chronograph into a Carrera case. Once again, the traditionalists may frown, but if you like the look of these watches and enjoy the connection with the Heuer heritage, these are fun watches. 

If you could only have one of the Fragment models, the Carrera or the Formula 1, which would it be?

My first instinct is to dodge the question. The same way that the 1960s Carreras were different from the 1970s Autavias, the choice between the two Fragment models comes down to a matter of the mood and look that you want on a given day.

Fragment Design has developed two limited edition chronographs for TAG Heuer, the new Heuer 02, which draws from the Formula 1 and Autavia models, and the Carrera Heuer 02, from November 2018.

The quiet elegance of the Carrera is very different from the loud excitement of the 1970s Autavias.  Looking at my collection of vintage Heuers, I probably have four times as many 1970s Autavias as 1960s Carreras, so the Fragment probably gets the nod. 

If there will be a third Fragment Design chronograph for TAG Heuer, what are you hoping for?

Fujiwara has done a Carrera and an Autavia, so his third model will have to be a Monaco.  It would be fantastic to see what he would do with the extra-large canvas of the Monaco.

(Click here to read Jeff Stein’s “On the Dash” post about the TAG Heuer Fragment Design Heuer 02 Limited Edition.) 

 

By Laurent Martinez

Over the years, I have noticed a recurring pattern with collectors that are new to the vintage watch market. There seems to be a tendency to compulsively buy too many watches at once without clear motivation as to why.

However, it appears that many new collectors who have taken this approach are ready to part with at least half of their new collection only a few months after building it. Perhaps they were attracted to a certain style. Maybe they enjoyed the mystery of discovering something special.

Or maybe they purchased a watch thinking they got a good bargain despite never having seen or heard of the watch before.

I remember meeting a young collector in Paris who wanted to sell his watches. He came to me with bags of timepieces, but he did not really know what he had.

I unfortunately had to let him know that most of his watches were worthless. Out of the one hundred or so timepieces, he only had a few interesting pieces from Croton and Lip.

Of course, this type of collecting can have a serious impact on your wallet. Buying a watch without knowing much about its value ends up being a waste of time and money. It may end up costing you more to fix the watch than it is actually worth. You may not be able to resell the watch for the price you paid for it or worse; you may be unable to sell it at all—even at a loss.

Do your homework

So, how do you start a vintage watch collection? The most important thing to do is to do your homework to build some guidelines. This does not necessarily mean having to spend hundreds of hours researching watches, but at the very least you should invest time into setting some parameters.

For example, define your preferred style. Dressy or sporty? Simple three-handed dial or a more complex chronograph? Stainless steel or gold? Civilian watches or military-issued timepieces? While you may like all of the above, it is always better to start with some restrictions in mind to avoid getting carried away. This approach will narrow your options and give you more focus.

After you have thoughtfully acquired some pieces that fit your initial criteria, then you can expand the parameters.

 

Estimate value

In terms of estimating the value of a watch, you can always visit websites like eBay and Chrono24 for well-known brands to see what people are asking for. Yet, keep in mind that there is a difference between asking price and market price. Listed prices on eBay are a reflection of what people want to sell the watch for and not necessarily what buyers are willing to pay.

You can choose the “Sold Items” filter to see how much a watch was purchased for. What’s more, you have to also consider commission fees, state taxes, and other dues.

If possible, I always recommend going to flea markets, local watch shows or auction events to have the watch in hand before buying. This approach allows you to inspect the details of the watch and speak to the dealer to ask any questions you may have.

Talking to the seller face-to-face will give you a better sense of how accurately priced the watch is. You learn a lot this way, and most importantly doing this can give you a better feeling of what watches you actually like “in the metal.”

Be wary

Buying online can be trickier since some websites are full of retouched images and incorrect information. However, if you have no choice but to buy online, then my advice is to only purchase from a domestic seller. Buying internationally is always riskier whether its complications with shipping and customs or sourcing from regions that are known to be flooded with counterfeit products.

I would also advise purchasing watches that are priced at the lower end of the market rather than the higher end. It is easier to come to terms with making a mistake that costs a few hundred dollars over one that costs a few thousand.

Quartz or automatic?

As always, it is all about the details. For instance, new or vintage quartz watches rarely hold their value as well as mechanical watches. There is hardly any interest in quartz watches in the secondary market. You would fare better with a hand-wound or automatic watch. If you purchase a lower-priced quartz watch, the financial loss would not be too great.

Yet, remember that high-end brands like Breitling and Omega sell quartz watches and these battery-operated timepieces lose tremendous value in the pre-owned market.

Even in the mid-range market, you would be better off buying an automatic Invicta watch instead of a quartz one. I have a friend who collects mid-range priced watches and he is very successful. There is a flourishing market for mid-priced watches and they sell quickly. He is well versed in these particular watches and understands their specifications and how they differ from high-end timepieces. As such, I always try to pick his brain and ask his advice when I am about to get one of them.

Online queries

Another great tool to gain watch knowledge is checking watch forums. There are some very knowledgeable people there that are especially focused on the technical aspects of watchmaking, which can be very helpful. The great thing is that forum members are usually very helpful and willing to share information. Always cross-reference your information with several sources to make sure it is accurate.

When looking at a watch, always start with the basics. I recently saw a watch with chronograph pushers, but the watch had a calendar dial! Obviously, it was a fake.

And sometimes people pretend to know more than they do. A lady contacted me to appraise a watch she bought at a tag sale. Five of her friends told her it was a real Audemars Piguet with a tourbillon.

I had to regretfully inform her that it was not a tourbillon at 6 o’clock, but in fact, a running seconds subdial.

Take your time

In short, educate yourself, ask questions, and take your time. Do not buy on impulse and set a budget for yourself. If you can, see the watch in real life instead of just photos, but if this is not possible, do not be shy to ask for more pictures.

Most importantly, listen to your gut. Keep these tips in mind when building a watch collection and things should go relatively smoothly. Good luck!

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

 

Armin Strom this week releases a rose gold version of its Gravity Equal Force, an innovative time-only design with an unusual constant-force mechanism.

The Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force, now with a black dial and a rose gold case, bridges and hands.

The watch, which Armin Strom debuted in steel last year, features an in-house movement that takes a cue from high-precision pocket watches of yore. The watch’s ASB19 automatic movement features a motor barrel (where the mainspring resides) that stays locked after the watch is wound, creating a more precise arbor to rotate and drive the gears that move the watch’s hands.

Effectively, the watchmakers at this independent Swiss atelier added a stop-work de-clutch mechanism to the automatic watch, driving consistent power to the balance.

As Armin Strom explains “it is clear that it is a demonstrably better system as it is more precise and stable during operation of the movement. Armin Strom’s watchmakers built on this idea to create an entirely new watch.”

Retro-futuristic

The Gravity Force debuted with a steel case last year as an update to the Armin Strom Resonance Clutch Spring that first demonstrated the brand’s retro-futuristic approach to delivering constant force within its automatic movement.

This newest rose gold-cased version brings along a bit of luxury to what remains a technically focused watch.

The Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force in a steel case debuted in 2019.

When it debuted, the watch’s 41mm case was a new size for the brand. That size remains on this new model, as do the dominant three bridges that echo the vintage pocket watch inspiration behind the movement’s design. Here the bridges are gold, creating a luxurious contrast with the black dial.

The Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force in rose gold is priced at $26,600.

Specifications: Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force, rose gold
 

Movement: Armin Strom manufacture Caliber ASB19, automatic winding with micro rotor, Geneva-drive equal force barrel, offset display with subdial seconds, balance wheel with 4 regulating screws. Power reserve limited to 72 hours. Frequency: 3.5 Hz (25,200 vph)

Case: 41mm by 12.65mm rose gold, sapphire crystal and caseback with anti-reflective treatment. Water-resistance to 30 meters

Dial: Offset with hours, minutes plus a seconds inner subdial, power reserve indicator subdial, rose gold hands.

Strap: Black alligator leather and 18-karat rose gold ardillon buckle. An 18-karat rose gold double-folding clasp is an option.

Price: $26,600.

 

With multiple debuts during the past year, Franck Muller has shifted its skills at fashioning dynamic openwork movements into overdrive.

The Franck Muller Vanguard Revolution 3 Skeleton

Most recently, the independent Geneva-based watchmaker debuted a stunning Vanguard Revolution 3 Skeleton triple-axis tourbillon, the first time we’ve seen this mesmerizing movement inside the best-selling tonneau-shaped Vanguard case. (We’ll have details on this ultra-complicated watch in an upcoming post).

The Franck Muller Vanguard Skeleton-Swiss Limited Edition

In early July, Franck Muller debuted the red and white Vanguard Skeleton Swiss Limited Edition, dedicated to the brand’s home country.

Racing Skeleton

This spring in a more broad-based debut Franck Muller updated its Vanguard Racing Skeleton with a lighter, more open-worked movement and more intense use of titanium, carbon fiber and aluminum.

The new Franck Muller Vanguard Racing Skeleton, here with a carbon fiber case.

With a new, heavily skeletonized movement, you’ll see more hints of a racecar engine within the movement’s structure.

Perhaps the most noticeable nod to automotive timing is the seconds indicator. Here, you read seconds starting from the lower portion of the dial (at 6 o’clock) instead of the top. This echoes most automobile rev counters. With two red tips, the hand also shows the wearer an ongoing seconds display from both ends of the hand.

Furthermore, the white hand with red tip and the bicolor second indications track reinforce the idea of a rev counter. Even without a gas pedal, the owner might possibly want to push the hand into the red zone. Of course, as this is not a chronograph, any ‘racing’ will not technically include a timing element. The watch displays only hours, minutes, seconds and date.

Ultra-visible

To further accentuate the skeleton design, the date numbers have been fully skeletonized. The central seconds counter, thanks to a smoked sapphire glass, provides a full display while allowing complete movement visibility.

For a closer fit, Franck Muller has subtly integrated the strap into the case with the help of two unseen screws instead of the regular spring-bar technique.

And finally, the rubber inside the strap shapes more easily to the wrist, while the Alcantara suede layer recalls a sports car cockpit.

Franck Muller makes the Vanguard Racing Skeleton line in 44mm by 53.7mm rose gold, stainless steel, titanium and carbon case options. Prices upon request.

 

TAG Heuer has updated its sea-focused Aquaracer collection with two colorful automatic models sporting a so-called tortoise-shell-pattern bezel. In addition, look for new Khaki-colored quartz Aquaracer model with an olive-green aluminum bezel and a matching fabric strap.

The new Aquaracer 43mm Tortoise Shell Effect Special Edition.

The new Aquaracer 43mm Tortoise Shell Effect Special Edition and the new Aquaracer 43 mm Khaki Special Edition watches enhance Aquaracer, TAG Heuer’s dive watch collection known for its 300-meter water resistance rating, unidirectional rotating bezel, luminous markers and hands and easy-to-read dials, as befits an ocean-centric sports watch.

All three of these debuts also feature a 43mm stainless-steel screw-down caseback engraved with the image of a vintage divers’ helmet.

Tortoise-pattern

To set these new models apart from earlier Aquaracers, TAG Heuer has subtly decorated the bezels with blue or brown resin that has been modified to create an interesting pattern that, according to TAG Heuer, mimic the sun’s reflection on the ocean.

Often seen on sunglasses, the tortoise-shell effect is rarely used to decorate watches, and represents TAG Heuer’s first attempt beyond variations in dial patterns to inject a bit of style into the generally sober Aquaracer line.

TAG Heuer even enhances the blue or brown bezels on these two debuts with blue or black sunray-pattern brushed dials with horizontal lines. Like the bezels, the dials can catch and reflect light, effectively doubling the ‘summertime’ focus of the new design.

TAG Heuer adds another novelty here with a rubber strap that features the exterior pattern of another reptile: the alligator.

The unidirectional bezels on both Aquaracer 43 mm Tortoise Shell Effect Special Edition models retain the Aqua-racer’s sixty-minute scale as well as the familiar angled magnifying lens over the date window at 3 o’clock.

The strap is held tight with a folding steel clasp with double safety push buttons. Inside is TAG Heuer’s Caliber 5, the brand’s reliable ETA-based or Sellita-based automatic movement. Price: $2,600 (Available in August).

New quartz Khaki

TAG Heuer’s new quartz-powered Aquaracer 43 mm Khaki Special Edition combines a sturdy olive-hued fabric strap and sharp-looking anthracite sunray brushed dial. And rather than a sun-dappled steel bezel, the watch’s aluminum unidirectional rotating bezel is tinted with a down-to-earth olive hue.

Like the new models above, this quartz debut features a polished and fine-brushed steel case, rhodium-plated and luminous hour, minute and seconds hands and the same angled date window.

Likewise, the back of the watch echoes the Aquaracer standard with a solid caseback engraved with an image of a vintage divers’ helmet. Price: $1,600.

 

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.

 

Nomos celebrates 175 years of watchmaking in its hometown of Glashütte, Germany, with three classically styled Nomos Ludwig watches, each offered as a limited edition.

The Nomos Ludwig, a 35mm model powered by the Alpha manual-wind caliber, in its new 175th anniversary celebratory dress.

The watches, each limited to 175 examples, include one 35mm Ludwig with a manual-wind Alpha caliber inside, one Ludwig neomatik 39 with an automatic Caliber DUW 3001 inside, and a Ludwig neomatik Date 41 powered by the automatic Caliber DUW 6101. All these calibers are designed and built by Nomos.

The Nomos Ludwig neomatik 39 175.

Nomos is dressing each celebratory watch in historical Glashütte watchmaking details, which means each features a white enamel dial with Roman numerals separated by slim markers, a small seconds display, and railroad minute markers.

The date model even sports a classical Roman numeral date indicator—a first for Nomos.

The Nomos Ludwig neomatik Date 175, showing thin profile.

These are thin watches (the manual-wind model measures a wispy 6.8mm thick) with classic leaf-shaped tempered blue hands, per Glashütte tradition. All watches announce their reason for being with a sapphire crystal glass back that shows ‘limited-edition’ and “175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte” engravings.

The back view of the 41mm Nomos Ludwig neomatik date 175, showing Caliber DUW 6101.
Detail on Nomos caliber DUW 3001.

Many of the typical Glashütte features Nomos builds into its movements can be seen through the sapphire crystal caseback on each watch. These features include a three-quarter plate, tempered blue screws, ribbed polishing, and Nomos-designed ‘swing system’ escapement.

With only 175 examples of each watch being made, and with offerings at very competitive prices, we expect strong demand for these Nomos debuts.

Prices: $2,260 (Ludwig manual-wind), $3,800 (Ludwig neomatik 39); and $4,200 (Ludwig neomatik 41 Date)