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

By Y-Jean Mun-DelSalle

In this Part III of our recently expanded four-part series outlining automotive-wristwatch partnerships, we highlight TAG Heuer.

TAG Heuer

Historically rooted in motorsports, TAG Heuer has worked with many car companies, starting with Scuderia Ferrari, but also McLaren, Mercedes, Audi and, more recently, Aston Martin.

As one of the most highly-anticipated watch/car partnerships with authentic motor racing heritage and on-track success, the friendship between TAG Heuer and Porsche has existed for decades and is now transformed into a strategic partnership ranging from sports competition to product development.

From a 1959 Ralley.

Racing fans and watch fans will know that the Carrera Panamericana road race in Mexico gave its name to creations from both brands. Porsche named its most powerful engine the Carrera after its class win in the 1954 Carrera Panamericana, and Edouard Heuer’s great-grandson, Jack Heuer, conceived the first Heuer Carrera chronograph in 1963.

Jo Siffert, wearing Heuer.

Thereafter, Jack Heuer struck a sponsorship arrangement with Jo Siffert at the wheel of various Porsches with the Heuer logo on his car and suit. Siffert was the Swiss racing driver on which Steve McQueen had based his character during the filming of Le Mans in 1970 in which he drove a Porsche 917.

The Porsche 911 Carrera, from 1972.

In the 1980s, TAG Heuer and Porsche developed the TAG-Turbo engine that led the McLaren team to three consecutive F1 world titles. Porsche also created its own Formula E team with TAG Heuer as title and timing partner in 2019, the Swiss watchmaker being a founding partner of the electric racing championship.

The TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team tackles its second season running the Porsche 99X Electric race car in 2021.

And there is more. The two brands will be collaborating in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the Porsche Carrera Cup worldwide one-make cup series. For their first joint timepiece, they produced the 44-mm TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph, powered by the in-house Caliber Heuer 02 with 80-hour power reserve.

In the Porsche colors of red, black and gray recalling historic Heuer models, the watch features a rotor in the shape of Porsche’s trademark steering wheel. Arabic numerals suggesting the numbers on Porsche dashboards are set against an asphalt-effect dial.

The TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph Special Edition.

“Time is at the very core of racing. Without its mastery, there is no competition, no progress,” says Frédéric Arnault, TAG Heuer CEO.

Back view of the TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph Special Edition, showing the Caliber Heuer 02.

“From its early years, Heuer made it its specialty to develop tools like chronographs, stopwatches and dashboard timers, which helped drivers, teams and race organizers keep time in increasingly accurate ways,” Arnault continues. “The company served a very tangible purpose in motor racing from the start; it was in its DNA. Later, it was Jack Heuer who saw the natural connection from a branding perspective, and we became the first non-automotive brand to sponsor a F1 team. We started with Carrera as it’s an iconic name we share, but that was just the first step.”

 

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

 

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

Inside the Benrus Wrist Alarm you’ll find a fully rebuilt A. Schild manual-wind movement from the 1970s.

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

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

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

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

 

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 new all-grey Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Automatic Small Seconds.

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.

Custom green

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.

Price: $1,595

 

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. 

The new 38mm Zenith Chronomaster Original, here with a steel case and bracelet.

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.

Practical scale

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.

The new El Primero 3600 caliber offers a 1/10th-of-second-display from the 36,000-VpH escapement as well as an extended power reserve of 60 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.

  

MB&F expands its award-winning Legacy Machine FlyingT collection with a new model boasting a vivid green malachite dial plate. You might recall that the independent watchmaker launched the LM FlyingT in 2019 in three white gold diamond-set editions.

The new MB&F LM FlyingT Malachite.

The 38.5mm watch was MB&F’s first venture into feminine-focused design, and it was quite a success. Customers clamored for it, and much of the industry awarded it the prize for Best Ladies’ Complication at the 2019 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.

Just last year MB&F added a limited edition guilloché-dialed series cased in red gold and platinum. More recently, the watchmaker launched an eye-catching Lapis Lazuli LM FlyingT model, accompanied by an explanation that the brand expected to announce at least one new gemstone-set edition annually.

As on the earlier LM Flying T editions, the new watch’s 18-karat white gold case, set with diamonds, frames the malachite dial plate and, at 7 o’clock, the angled (at 50 degrees) time display, also set with malachite. A dramatic 60-second flying tourbillon emerges from the center of the malachite plate anchored at the top by a cantilevered double-arch upper bridge. Turn the watch over to enjoy the three-dimensional red gold sun rotor with sculpted rays.

MB&F explains that malachite varies in color, veering from light green to dark green. Historically malachite has been associated with omens of good health, including protection from lightning. No word on whether MB&F is offering similar such protections, but we can safely assure anyone wearing the new MB&F LM FlyingT Malachite full protection from a dull wrist. Price: $145,000.

The full collection of MB&F Legacy Machine FlyingT models.

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.

The new Chopard Mille Miglia 2021 Race Edition, with a 44mm steel case A second model offers a rose gold and steel case.

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.

The steel and rose gold version of the Chopard Mille Miglia 2021 Race Edition.

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.

Prices: $7,610 (steel model) and $11,000 (steel and ethical rose gold).

 

Zenith’s newest Revival, the Chronomaster Revival Safari, reinterprets the historical Zenith A384 chronograph from 1969, but instead of the original’s 37mm steel case we now have a micro-blasted 37mm titanium case.

The new Zenith Chronomaster Revival Safari

The watch’s deep matte green dial with contrasting black registers and tachymeter scale is new, while the beige SuperLumiNova on the applied baton markers and hands is distinctly vintage.

The rubber strap takes on the same khaki-green tone as the dial, and is fixed to a matte micro-blasted titanium pin buckle. Price: $9,000.

Specifications: Zenith Chronomaster Revival “Safari”

(Reference: 97.T384.400.57.C856, a boutiques & e-commerce edition.)

Movement: El Primero 400 automatic chronograph with column-wheel, frequency of 36,000 Vph (5 Hz), a power reserve of 50 hours. Functions: Hours and minutes in the center, small seconds at nine o’clock. Chronograph: central chronograph hand, 12-hour counter at six o’clock, 30-minute counter at three o’clock. Date indication at 4:30.

Case: 37mm micro-blasted titanium, 50 meters of water resistance

Dial: Khaki green with black counters, tachometer scale, hour-markers and hands are rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with beige SuperLumiNova.

Bracelet: Khaki green “cordura effect” strap and white stitching. Micro blasted titanium pin buckle.

Price: $9,000.

 

 

If you’re in Geneva between June 16 and June 26, we suggest you visit the historic headquarters of Patek Philippe on Rue du Rhône. There, the watchmaker is exhibiting more than seventy-five Rare Handcrafts items from its collection.

In its largest such collection of rare handcrafts masterpieces, Patek Philippe mixes in several of its 2021 Rare Handcrafts with a curated selection of seventy 2020 artisanal items, including one-of-a-kind limited editions. These include pocket watches, wristwatches, dome table clocks and bracket clocks made using a broad range of artisanal skills.

This genuine ‘panda’ dial from Patek Philippe will be on display at the exhibit.

These skills include manual engraving, precious miniature painting on enamel (a Genevan specialty), flinqué enamel on hand guilloching, paillonné enamel, enamel with Limoges painting, fauré enamel (relief enamel), Longwy enamel on faience, and gem-setting.

Patek Philippe has even included several rarely seen examples of wood micro-marquetry as well as mixed-technique pieces that combine marquetry, manual engraving, and flinqué enamel.

While exploring the exhibits, visitors can also observe the artisans at work as they demonstrate their expertise in enameling, miniature painting on enamel, engraving, marquetry and guilloching.

The “Rare Handcrafts 2020-2021” exhibition at the Patek Philippe salons in Geneva on Rue du Rhône 41 is open to the public from June 16 to 26, 2021, every day (except Sundays) from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visitors should register at http://www.patek.com/rhc2021/ in advance.

 

By Steve Huyton

I first became aware of Richard Paige approximately nine years ago via various watch forums. We instantly hit it off because we appreciate Art Deco and independent watchmaking. Before establishing his own brand called RPaige Watches, Richard owned a successful high-profile watch boutique in California. The flagship store called, Paris 1925, was located in San Francisco.

However, after several years in the business, Paige became very frustrated dealing with corporate groups. At this stage, he started TimeZone.com, which is considered a template for many new watch blogs.

The RPaige Speakeasy, with an Art Deco dial, case and font. Inside is a vintage Waltham movement.

For several years Paige has resided in Honolulu, where he spends his days creating beautiful timepieces for discerning customers around the globe. The unique selling point of RPaige Watches is the striking Art Deco-inspired aesthetic and the choice of historic movements. Early on, Richard decided to use vintage pocket watch calibers from Elgin (Illinois) and Waltham (Massachusetts) and originally manufactured between 1897 and 1929.

Enamel JukeBox

Over the years Richard has created several popular collections like the Aviator, DuoFace, Skyscraper and Speakeasy. A few months ago Paige mentioned to me that he would be unveiling a dress style watch called the JukeBox, inspired by the 1940’s Moderne style of vintage watches.

The RPaige JukeBox features a beautiful white enamel dial.

JukeBox is a departure from the Art Deco style, and is the smallest timepiece RPaige has created, with a brushed steel case measuring 41mm x 12mm. Certainly, the finished result is impressive, and I am sure devotees of the brand will be enticed.

Even though the JukeBox is a limited series (100 pieces) every watch will have a different dial. This means that customers essentially will get the opportunity to own a unique 1/1 piece that is assembled in Paige’s own workshop.

For this review, I’ll focus on the latest JukeBox model (numbered 71/100) with a beautiful white vintage antique fire-enameled dial. It is also priced very competitively at $1,400.  Other features include bold black (12-hour) and red (24-hour) Arabic numerals. This model also has a steel crown with inset blue crystal and blue enameled Cathedral style hour/minute hands with luminous coating.

The manual-wind Unitas 6498-1, with higher-end finish, is visible from the clear caseback.

Powering the watch is a Swiss-made Elabore-grade (higher-end-version) 17-jewel Unitas 6498-1. The manual-wind mechanism oscillates at a frequency of 18,000 vibrations per hour and is visible via the sapphire crystal exhibition case back.

This use of the Unitas caliber represents a different direction for RPaige, which has previously only used vintage U.S. calibers. I suspect it’s an availability issue, but feel this is a great alternative.

As a final touch, the JukeBox is presented on a brown genuine alligator strap, with brown stitching and steel buckle. Price: $1,400.

Steve Huyton is an industrial designer, illustrator and author who publishes Total Design Reviews.

 

TAG Heuer this week adds a teal-green-dialed beauty to its Carrera collection with the Carrera Green Special Edition, an eye-catching ode to the brand’s famed 1963 original.

The new TAG Heuer Carrera Green Special Edition.

While the shimmering, sunray-finished blue-green color is new for Carrera, the watch’s signature lugs, polished steel case and pushers recall the original with purist accuracy, though the case now measures 39mm in diameter rather than 36mm for the original.

The enviable dial retains the same Heuer tri-compax layout (minute chronograph at 3 o’clock, hour chronograph at 9 o’clock and permanent second indicator at 6 o’clock) found on the original.

The watch’s nicely faceted hands, domed glass box crystal and Heuer logo thoughtfully extend the commemoration. In fact, the vintage-hued SuperLuminova seems to amplify the apparent depth of the dial, a visual effect already strengthened by the crystal’s curves.

TAG Heuer extends the dial’s teal color to the movement, where thanks to the transparent caseback you’ll see the color on the movement’s column wheel and in the Calibre Heuer 02 and Swiss Made inscriptions on the rotor.

Inside the Carrera Green Special Edition TAG Heuer fits its superior Caliber Heuer 02 manufacture movement that utilizes a column wheel and vertical clutch and boasts an impressive 80-hour power reserve. Finally, TAG Heuer attaches the watch to your wrist with a black alligator leather strap with a folding clasp and two safety push buttons.

TAG Heuer now offers the 500-piece limited edition chronograph on its e-commerce websites and at TAG Heuer boutiques. Price: $6,650.

 

Specifications: TAG Heuer Carrera Green Special Edition

Reference: CBK221F.FC6479 (Limited Edition of 500)

Movement: TAG Heuer Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic manufacture movement. Chronograph with minute and hour hands, permanent second, hour and minute indicators, center seconds hand.

Case: 39mm polished stainless-steel case and fixed bezel, domed sapphire crystal with double anti-reflective treatment, polished stainless-steel crown with push buttons at 2 and 4 o’clock. Water-resistant to 100 meters, SPECIAL EDITION engraved on the caseback

Dial: Teal sunray brushed dial and flange with three snailed subdials. Permanent seconds indicator, polished and rhodium-plated hour and minute hands coated with SuperlumiNova.

Strap: Black alligator leather strap featuring a polished stainless-steel folding clasp with two safety push buttons.

Price: $6,650.