The new Franck Muller Skafander integrates a diving theme with a tonneau-shaped case – a combination rarely seen among marine-focused watch designs. Because divers require a unidirectional rotating bezel to assess correct dive time, watches for divers typically utilize a round case built with a round bezel.
Here, Franck Muller has devised a functional round diver’s bezel, but has placed it inside the Skafander’s large tonneau case, a shape deeply familiar to aficionados of this iconoclastic independent watchmaker. Once set and locked, the Skafander’s dive time is secured with a clearly labeled lock, which insures that the bezel won’t be accidently altered.
While not an officially certified dive watch, the Skafander will retain its water resistance to 100 meters, which allows wearers full, worry-free use while at the beach, boating – or in the pool.
Franck Muller offers the Skafander in a range of case metals, including titanium, steel and rose gold, all with a semi-skeletonized dial that allows a view into the automatic movement below.
Skippers might prefer the highly visible titanium-cased models with blue or yellow accents, or even the blue-accented watch cased in steel. We suspect the boat’s owner, however, might opt to the ritzier rose gold model.
Price: CHF 14,800 (about $16,100, for titanium models only).
Specifications: Franck Muller Skafander (titanium case edition)
Case: 46mm x 57mm x 15.60mm titanium with black PVD treatment. Water resistant to 100 meters.
Movement: Automatic, offering 42 hours power reserve.
Dial: Unidirectional internal rotating bezel indicating the diving time. Half-openwork movement in the center.
Strap: Blue rubber. More colors available with steel and gold models.
For seventeen summers Frederique Constant has released a new Vintage Rally limited edition series, which the Geneva-based watchmaker dedicates to collectors of classic Austin-Healey vintage automobiles. The annual debut rarely disappoints, and this year’s releases are no exception.
This year’s highlight is an all-grey Vintage Rally Healey Automatic Small Seconds, with a range of the contemporary color on its dial, strap, steel case, index hour markers and hands.
The dressy 40mm watch sports the original Healey logo on the dial, just adjacent to the off-center small seconds hand at 9 o’clock. Around the decidedly matte dial is the flange displaying the sixty-minute scale. Frederique Constant has engraved each watch’s caseback with a Healey automobile in action. (See below for additional technical details).
Frederique Constant will make 888 examples of the grey-dialed Vintage Rally Healey Automatic Small Seconds, with each arriving in a gift set alongside a miniature replica of a vintage Austin-Healy automobile.
For buyers outside the United States, or by special order in the United States, two additional Vintage Rally watches are also available.
For these ‘international models” Frederique Constant offers a green dial and a blue dial, both colors that allude to the Austin-Healey company. One model features British racing green while the other offers a dial in navy blue within a rose gold-plated case. This model’s hour markers, hands and crown are also navy blue, which is hinted on the leather strap as well.
Only the grey model ($1,595) is available in the United States. As noted, the two “international” models are available here only by special order. Prices: $2,175 (Blue dial/rose-gold plated case) and $1,957 (Green dial, steel case).
Specifications: Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Automatic Small Seconds (Limited edition of 888.)
Movement: ETA-based FC-345 automatic caliber with 38-hour power reserve.
Case: 40mm by 11.15mm polished steel, two-part case, convex sapphire crystal, engraved case-back with Healey Noj 393 vintage car. Water resistant to 50 meters.
Dial: Grey with matte finishing, white inner ring with printed seconds graduation , silver color applied indexes with white luminous treatment, hand-polished silver color hour and minute hands with white luminous treatment, small seconds counter at 9 o’clock w/red hand , date window at 3 o’clock.
Strap: Grey calf leather with light grey stitching.
Zenith began celebrating El Primero’s fiftieth anniversary in 2019 with a series of Revival models. These have included the El Primero A386, A384 and A385 Revival models, among others, up to the most recent Chronomaster Revival Safari. With all these releases, the Le Locle-based watchmaker has kept the Revival series dial and case designs largely true to their historic proportions and, often, their original hues.
But as Zenith admits, none of these Revival models filled a void within its collections for a ongoing, steel-cased Chronomaster El Primero A386 model. Remember that the first A386 Revival from 2019 was cased in gold. And while the hot steel-cased Chronomaster Sport Zenith debuted early in 2021 has seemingly met the demand for a new, sportier Chronomaster El Primero chronograph, customers in search of a steel-cased, dressier El Primero A386 have been waiting since 2019.
Zenith this week launches the Chronomaster Original to fill that void. The five watches in the new collection (four are steel-cased, one is cased in gold) retain the most identifiable aspects of the much-loved El Primero A386 from 1969, including a 38mm round and bezel-free steel case with a domed crystal, pump-style chronograph pushers, faceted lugs, and brushed and polished surfaces.
Zenith however updates several key elements of the now familiar Chronomaster Revival profile. First, Zenith replaces the retro 1960s ladder bracelet found on the recent Revival models with a new, richly-finished solid-link bracelet.
More notably however Zenith updates the tachymeter scale, replacing the original 1/100th-of-an-hour calculation scale with a 1/10-of-a-second chronograph scale. This allows instantaneous reading of a 10th of a second using the chronograph seconds hand.
Within the case Zenith fits the primary reason for this change of tachymetric scale : the latest version of the El Primero caliber, dubbed the El Primero 3600. Also found powering the new Zenith Chronomaster Sport (and originally seen in an earlier, very limited Chronomaster 2), the caliber of course retains the El Primero’s signature high frequency of 5 Hz (36,000 VpH).
Thus, with a central chronograph seconds hand that rotates once around the dial in exactly ten seconds, the movement offers a true 1/10th-of-second indication in conjunction with the new scale. And now that the scale frames the dials of both the Chronomaster Sport and this new Chronomaster Original design, Zenith now offers two ongoing collections with this most practical utililization of its high-speed El Primero caliber.
In addition to its new application, the new El Primero 3600 features a newly blued column wheel and “new architecture” that Zenith says is more efficient than earlier El Primeros. The new efficiency also influences the caliber’s power reserve, which is now rated to sixty hours.
Zenith is offering the new Chronomaster Original in three models. One model, sold on a steel bracelet or a blue calfskin strap, features the well-known Chronomaster tri-color dial configuration. Another model features a so-called ‘reverse panda’ black dial with silver chronograph registers and is sold on a steel bracelet or a beige calfskin strap. Intrestingly, these two models use a rhodium-plated central seconds hand rather than the red central seconds hand found on the tri-color dial versions. The third model is cased in gold and features the tri-color dial design. The logo on each new model has been updated to the Zenith’s more contemporary script.
Both steel-bracelet models are priced at $9,000 while both strap models are priced at $8,400. The third model ($19,100), cased in rose gold with a silvered dial and tri-color subdials, is offered on a brown calfskin strap.
Ulysse Nardin updates its already extensive dive watch collection with three dive models that add rose gold to existing favorites. Two of the updates include a new rose gold bezel atop a steel or a titanium case.A third debut includes diamonds set in a rose gold bezel atop a 39mm rose gold case.
Diver 42mm Grey and Rose Gold
This latest 42mm steel-cased PVD-satin-finished ‘shark grey’ dive model boasts a 42mm case with nicely contrasting rose gold and gray rubberized, unidirectional rotating, concave bezel.
Beneath the clearly domed sapphire crystal Ulysse Nardin offers a dial with a contemporary sandblasted finish. Ulysse Nardin has engraved its logo on the solid grey PVD back.
Inside you’ll find a Sellita-based automatic UN-816 movement (outfitted with a silicon escapement wheel and anchor) protected down to 300 meters under water. Finally, Ulysse Nardin secures the watch’s gray alligator strap with a stainless steel grey PVD buckle. Price: $10,400.
Diver Chronometer 44mm
With a larger (44mm) case, the Ulysse Nardin Diver Chronometer 44mm, with a classic ocean blue dial and blue PVD-coated titanium case, offers a more feature-filled option for nautical adventurers.
Its rose gold unidirectional bezel is appropriately easy to read with gold markers and luminous 0 at the top to mark dive time. The dial, itself well lit with SuperLuminova ands and markers, displays a power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock and a substantial small seconds hand in a subdial at 6 o’clock.
Inside, Ulysse Nardin fits its own Caliber UN-118, which boasts a Diamonsil (a diamond-silicon alloy) escapement wheel and anchor and a silicon balance spring, much of which is visible through a see-through sapphire caseback.
And despite the clear back, Ulysse Nardin assures us that the Ulysse Nardin Diver Chronometer 44mm, like the full Diver Chronometer 44mm collection, is built to withstand up to 300 meters of water pressure. Price: $13,300.
Lady Diver Rose Gold
Set with forty diamonds, this glittering 39mm watch may be a fashion-forward mother-of-pearl dial watch, but inside it’s all business.
Within the full rose gold case Ulysse Nardin fits its automatic UN-816 movement, the same one powering the Diver 42mm Grey and Rose Gold described above. That sharp-looking dial glows with eleven diamonds; the white alligator strap is held in place by a rose gold buckle. If you’re sporty, opt for the model with the white rubber strap. Price: $25,800.
My first experience of Meccaniche Veloci occurred several years ago when I visited a high-end boutique at Singapore Airport. I vividly remember seeing many of the brand’s QuattroValvole models and being mesmerized by the bold aesthetic. These distinctive watches have four different time zones and are unlike anything else on the market.
At that stage, the company was owned by the Italian jewelry group Cielo Venezia, which had previously bought the brand from Marco Colombo. He was the visionary who originally designed the concept for the QuattroValvole, a particular four-time-zone model that was inspired by the four-phase engine pistons of Ferrari racing cars.
Even though Meccaniche Veloci showed enormous potential, it was never realized under the control of Cielo Venezia. For example, the brand was oblivious that high-profile celebrities like Cristiano Ronaldo who actually purchased their watches. In a world dominated by brand ambassadors, this type of oversight seems inconceivable.
Fortunately, Swiss entrepreneur Cesare Cerrito could see huge potential in Mecchaniche Veloci and subsequently bought the brand in 2015. At this point, he also shifted the operation from Milan to Geneva to utilize the latest Swiss watchmaking technology. Now the headquarters (called MV House) is located in a trendy warehouse located in Plan-Les-Ouates.
I discovered Meccaniche Veloci’s boutique during the 2015 Baselworld and was intrigued to view their new releases. Previously, I had contacted the brand numerous times without much success. That is why I was pleasantly surprised to discover Cesare Cerrito had acquired the brand. He was very charming and was keen to show me some exclusive pieces. My favorite was the collaboration they had done with Italian helmet manufacturer Suomy.
When Cerrito first purchased Meccaniche Veloci, the most expensive models in the range were capped at around $5,000. The only real exception was the phenomenal QuattroValvole CCM (Carbon Ceramic), which was die cut from a Brembo brake disc. This is still one of my personal favorite watches.
Issues & In-House
Even though the concept of having a watch with four independent movements was very cool, it also came with issues. In my experience, some of the mechanisms lagged and then there was the inconvenience of servicing four Swiss ETA 2671 movements.
Fortunately, Cerrito had ambitious plans for the brand, and this involved creating a new proprietary single movement to replace the individual calibers.
After three fastidious years of extensive research and development, the company finally unveiled its first in-house caliber, an automatic model called the MV8802 that powers each separate display.
The Caliber MV8802 marked a new chapter for the brand. Even though Cerrito hasn’t got any formal design qualifications, he makes up for it with passion and enthusiasm. Under his guidance, Meccaniche Veloci has adopted a completely different marketing strategy.
The timepieces are now far more exclusive and crafted entirely in Switzerland in small batches. Now there are predominantly two collections: the Icon and QuattroValvole. The Icon models feature four separate dials with four separate anti-reflective sapphire crystals. The QuattroValvole models feature a single dial with one large anti-reflective sapphire crystal.
Highlights include models like the Damascus, NiteLite Japan Edition, MoneyMaker, Mud and Nardi Edition. There are also a couple of extravagant tourbillon models with solid 18-karat pink gold cases.
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
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.
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 Ref. 5374G-001 Minute Repeaterwith 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 themoonphase aperture is made using the champlevé enamel technique and then framed in white gold (see below).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Parmigiani Fleurier embraces its inner panda with the new Tondagraph GT Steel Silver Black and the Tondagraph GT Rose Gold Silver Black, both now with ‘panda style’ sporty bi-color dials.
The 42mm Tondagraph GT Steel Silver Blackis both a chronograph and annual calendar, and as with all annual calendars, this indicator requires adjustment only once per year, from February to March.
The back of the steel model allows the owner to see the movement’s 22-karat gold rotor through a sapphire case back. You’ll also see a host of decorative finishes, including the circular côtes de Genève pattern on the bridges.
In comparison to its black-dialed predecessor, which utilized orange numerals and details, this new model displays higher-contrast elements in white, panda style.
“With this new model we wanted to exalt the contrast between the counters and the silver dial,” says Parmigiani Fleurier CEO Guido Terreni. “Taking out the orange indicators of the first edition helped us obtain a pure and long-lasting aesthetic.”
The 42mm Tondagraph GT Rose Gold Silver Black is a follow up to last year’s Tondagraph GT Rose Gold Blue, and like that model is powered by PF071, a 36,000-bph integrated chronograph caliber. This is a COSC chronometer-certified movement based on Parmigiani’s GPHG award-winning Caliber PF361. It offers 65-hours of power reserve.
The integrated chronograph function uses a smooth column wheel rather than a cam, and a vertical clutch rather than a horizontal one. These are said to increase accuracy by enabling the chronograph to start without an initial jolt.
As you might expect from this brand, the movement is expertly finished by hand. You’ll find chamfering and polishing, sandblasted surfaces, a sunray pattern on the 22-karat gold oscillating weight and beautifully hand-finished bridges.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Just ahead of the annual Mille Miglia, the 1,000-mile classic car race in Italy slated for June 16 to 19, long-time race sponsor and participant Chopard has released its ode to the race, the new Mille Miglia 2021 Race Edition.
While this year’s race will run in the reverse direction (counter-clockwise) starting in Brescia, on to Rome and returning to Brescia to pay homage to the race’s original 1927 route, Chopard moves forward, offering two models of the new watch.
Chopard is making one of the new Mille Miglia 2021 Race Edition chronographs with a steel case, limited to 1,000 units, and will also make a second model cased in both steel and rose gold, limited to 250 units.
Each is a sporty 44mm chronograph with either a stainless steel or polished ethical rose gold bezel with a black ceramic insert with white ceramic markings. Chopard has designed the bezel to mimic dials and gauges of the types found in classic automobiles that annually participate in the Mille Miglia.
The watch also sports a grey dial with a circular satin-brushed finish, all highlighted by red accents on the chronograph hands and for the race’s historic ‘Red Arrow’ pennant.
Chopard secures the back with screws and engraves a checkered flag, the ’1000 Miglia’ logo and the inscription ‘Brescia > Roma > Brescia.’ Though it’s not visible, the ETA-based COSC-chronometer-certified automatic movement offers a 48-hour power reserve, stop-seconds function, water-resistance to 100 meters and a glare-resistant sapphire crystal.
And finally, the watch’s calfskin leather bracelet features perforations and red or black stitching reminiscent of 1960s Dunlop racing tires, echoing examples from previous years.