Week in Watches
A Week In Watches: Week 5
In the interest of honesty… This week has been a tad quiet in the watch world. Whilst the world is battling with the challenges of slowly returning back to a ‘normal-ish’ way of life, releasing new watches has not been top of the list! However, the past 4 weeks or so have been jam packed, and it is worth noting that there has still been some tasty nuggets of watch news this week for you all, so sit back and enjoy!
Extra-Flat MING 27.01
The 27.01 is almost a flagship for MING. The watch was released as their first foray into the watch industry, and it was incredibly well received by the watch community. MING are incidentally one of my favourite brands, micro or not. I do not imagine that this release will be any different. Featuring a case profile of under 3mm, and the same striking dial, which uses negative space perfectly, this watch will no doubt be a big, big hit. As I always say about MING, they are killing it, and I want one. Badly…
Photo Credit: Hodinkee (Surprisingly)
Watches in the Wild: Space X dOmega Speedmaster X-33
For those of you geeks who tuned into the SpaceX launch at the weekend, you have noticed an ‘oddball’ speedmaster on the wrist of astronaut Bob Behnken . Since 1998 when it was released, the Omega Speedmaster X-33 has been adorning the wrists of NASA astronauts. I must say I'd get more of a tingly feeling in the pants region if they still used regular speedies, but practicality outways the ‘exciting Felix quotient’ sadly... The Speedmaster X-33 is a quirky ani/digi speedmaster with more functionality than any normal person would need. It is not an everyday watch, being the epitome of a tool watch, but very very cool nonetheless!
Photo Credit: Hodinkee
Ressence x Southeby’s Design Competition
A few weeks ago, Southeby’s and Ressence launched a competition and auction to support the efforts against COVID-19. I think 3 out of the 5 weeks I have written these articles have mentioned some efforts within the watch industry to help with COVID, which is truly commendable that so many watch brands are doing their bit. The idea behind the competition was that everyone had access to a high-resolution outline out of the watch, and could go completely wild with designing their own interpretation! The winning entrants design will actually be produced as a piece unique and auctioned through Sotheby’s with the proceeds going to COVID-19 research.
There were over 450 entrants, from children to top designers submitting their efforts. The panel of judges narrowed the entrants down to 4, and then turned to Instagram to get the community to decide the winner, and here it is below! The winner is a man called Raymond Ramsden, a 58 year old from Yorkshire! And I have to say congratulations as this design is just awesome. But anyway this is a fantastic initiative, and I wish this became a production model, because it is such a cool mix of swatch style casual with all of the colours, and serious haute horologie with the pedigree of Ressence.
Photo Credit: Hodinkee
As always, thank you very much for reading, and I hope, despite the lack of new releases, that you still enjoyed this round-up of the week's watch news! So, until next week…
The Young Horologist
16th May 2020
We are back! The third installment of ‘A Week in Watches’. Considering this is currently week 10 of isolation, to say that I am losing my marbles would be somewhat of an understatement. Luckily for me, and you, we have this fantastic hobby to keep us occupied! So sit back, relax, and let us take a look at what has happened this week in the horological universe.
Baltic Aquascaphe Bronze
Baltic are very quickly becoming a serious player in the ‘affordable’ watch space. Whilst they are still classed as a microbrand, I would say at this stage they are only in the sense of scale. Their timeless and nerdy designs, coupled with collaborations with the likes of Worn & Wound are putting them firmly on the map. I would bet it has got to the point where even ‘non-watch’ people might start to know who they are. And their new release of the pillar of their collection, the Aquascaphe, now in bronze, is a very cool addition.
I still have not quite made up my mind about whether I like bronze as a case material or not. There are certain applications which I loath, and others which I love. The Undone x Simple Union being one that falls into the latter camp (pictured below). And I feel like it might be joined by this Baltic. This piece retains the superb vintage dimensions (39mm wide and 12mm deep) as well as a gorgeous sunray blue dial. I think once the case starts to patinate, it will really make that dial pop. Ultimately bronze is a fairly polarising area of watchmaking, and whilst a bronze watch is not a viable daily (It just isn’t so don’t bother trying to justify it) as a summer watch or a weekend piece I think it can add some real fun to a collection, so well done Baltic!
Credit to FiftyFathomsMilSpec for this stunner…
De Bethune DBX28XP
Now, we are going from one of my favourite brands at the lower end of the spectrum to one of my favourite brands at the dizzying top end of the spectrum, De Bethune. De Bethune are this year celebrating 10 years of their innovative and wacky watchmaking, and they are doing it by celebrating one of their most iconic models, the DB28. Now, I appreciate that De Bethune is pretty polarising watchmaking, but even if you would not wear one, you have to appreciate the sheer watchmaking brilliance that goes into their watches. Amongst a whole host of technical achievements, they are credited with inventing the most ingenious lug system I have ever seen. If you are not aware of what I am talking about, look into the ‘floating lugs’ that De Bethune have come up with, it is ingenious and aesthetically stunning.
This piece, the DBX28XP ‘Extra Flat’ utilises this ingenious lug mechanism, as well as Titanium as the case material, making it light as a feather. Unlike the standard DB28, this special piece does away with the moonphase and is upsized in case diameter to 43mm, but smoothed down from 9.3mm to 7.2mm. This is capped off by a totally bonkers in-house movement, which has more patents attached to I thought it was possible, and you have what I think is one of the coolest pieces of watchmaking. To coin a phrase that I came up with with a few friends a number of years ago, this is the definition of ‘horny horology’. To say that this watch gives me a tingly feeling in the pants region is a complete understatement.
However, as is often the case with watches that are this awesome, owning one of these does come at a price. £64,000 could buy you a lot of things, 32,000 pints at my local (in East London you will be surprised to hear) or 64,000 penny sweets, the list of sensible alternatives really is endless.This watch hits the same spot for me as MB&F, it is unusual, technically amazing, and so futuristic I do sometimes wonder where the team at De Bethune are actually from the year 2200, and I love it.
Photo Credit: Hodinkee
Urwerk UR-100 gold auction
Following on from last week’s debrief about the Urban Jurgensen Big 8 “London Edition” for A Collected Man, which are for sale to raise money for COVID-19, this week Urwerk have followed suit with this, A gold version of the UR-100. The auction, which took place on Urwek’s website, allowed the winner to specify the chosen charity whom they would like to donate too, a very nice touch.
The watch itself is honed from a block of 2N yellow gold. Which for Urwerk is actually something that they only really dabble in. The cool thing about this particular execution of gold is that it is inspired by Star Wars, the hueue taken from the colour of, you guessed it, C-3PO! It also, instead of featuring the number of pieces ‘25 PCS’ this particular UR-100 has ‘FIGHT C19’ instead, again another nice touch.
Outside of this watch being awesome, it also highlights the brilliance of this hobby. Brands are now doing whatever they can to help the efforts to end this pandemic.
Photo Credit: Hodinkee
MB&F L’Epee 1839 Starfleet Explorer
As well as making truly bonkers and awesome watches, MB&F have also been known for making desk clocks and other devices that tell the time. In 2014, MB&F partnered with L’Epee to release a truly bonkers table clock. Now, 6 years later, they have partnered again to release this, the 1839 Starfleet Explorer.
Photo Credit: Hodinkee
This, along with some of the other creations that MB&F have come up with, are the epitome of fun in watches. Who needs a desk clock that looks like a space station?! Absolutely no one… But everyone should be able to appreciate the fun that would be evoked through having one of these sitting on the corner of your desk. This particular clock comes in at 16.5cm across and 11cm tall. It comes with an eight-day movement, so for a week it takes care of itself. The time is displayed on two stacked disks, the top displaying minutes, and the lower displaying hours. Coming in three colour accent options (Red, Green and Blue) this truly is a piece of art. I cannot imagine ever really looking at this on my desk to check the time, being a watch wearer. But as effectively a piece of horological art, these are something absolutely awesome. However, being a limited edition of 99 pieces per colour, and setting you back around £8,300, this is a purchase for a collector who has that sort of cash lying around and doesn’t want to spend it on a watch! You can find them here if you would so like.
Once again, thank you for tuning into my little round-up of some of the watch news of the week! I must say I am thoroughly enjoying having the freedom to look at a number of different pieces of news from the week, alongside a more focussed piece of editorial, which you can find on the website. But as always, have an enjoyable and restful weekend, and come back next week for more of the same.
The Young Horologist
23rd May 2020
This week is a good one, not meaning to blow my own trumpet. I should caveat that by saying it is a good week in terms of watch things, not in general. We are still very much in lockdown in the UK (all though there is light at the end of the tunnel) and after 11 weeks of WFH/Lockdown I have lost each and every one of my marbles. But luckily enough I have lots of watchy things to write about to distract me, so without further-ado, let's get into it shall we?
Longine Flagship Heritage Black Dial
Longines, In my humble opinion, are the best brand for vintage re-editions. The Heritage Military 1948, the Heritage Classic ‘Sector’ and the Military Watch being my personal favourites. They consistently release watches that harken back to their historic catalogue. They are faithful, stylish, and truly give you the best of both vintage and modern. They also know how to execute ‘fauxtina’ well, which is a bonus. The Flagship Heritage Black Dial is no exception, having been inspired by the Flagship models from the 50’s and 60’s. The watch features a black gloss dial, rose gold indices and hands, as well as a nicely placed date window at 6 o’clock. It also features a very understated sub-seconds dial at 6, which is gorgeous. This watch is the perfect blend of vintage styling, with the practicality and wearability of a modern watch. Once again, bravo Longines.
GS x WOS Toge Special Edition
One of the most popular Grand Seiko models in recent years is their Ref. SBGM221 GMT. The standard model is versatile, a brilliant size, and features a very nice but subtle GMT complication. This particular model has been released in collaboration with the iconic Watches of Switzerland retailer. The usual ivory dial has been traded out for a deep, almost British racing green dial to pay homage to the UK retailer. The watch comes with the standard 9S66 movement from Grand Seiko, making it neither high-beat nor spring drive, however the movement architecture and quality is still superb, and can be seen through the display case back, a touch I always appreciate. This watch appeals to me for many reasons, not least that it is honouring a retailer that has been so influential in my watch journey. Despite not having purchased a watch from WOS, my educational journey has been heavily influenced by the welcoming staff, friendly atmosphere, and Redbar events that have been held there. I feel a Grand Seiko is a brand that everyone should experience at some point, just to appreciate quite how incredible they are, and I do not think that this is a bad place to start.
AP RO Jumbo Extra-Thin with diamond indexes
Last week, Audemars Piguet released another watch. They released it in the same way that they have been releasing some watches over the past year or so, very bloody quietly. They have adopted the policy of just adding new watches to the catalogue on their website, which I quite like. The latest watch released in this manner is this, the Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin, now with diamond indices. It is no secret amongst my watch mates that I love a bit of bling on a watch, and for me this is no different. This new release comes in platinum and rose gold, with a gorgeous black lacquer dial. As I mentioned, the hour markers are diamonds, apart from at the 3 o’clock, where there is a very subtle date window, which is very well executed. For me this piece is the perfect bit of bling if you do not want to look like a rapper, but like the idea of a little bit of bling. However, being a boutique only Limited Edition of 30 pieces (Rose Gold) and 70 pieces (Platinum), which I find completely bizarre, good luck getting your hands on one! For me the decision not to make this a full production model is bonkers, as i think this would be a BIG seller, especially given the price for the Rose Gold model being £50,000. Maybe we will see this released down the line as a production model, but who knows…
Recommended Reading: On The Dash article ‘Chasing the Grails’
Within the watch industry, there are renowned experts in their particular focus. Auro Montanari and George Cramer are certainly experts when it comes to Cartier, Eric Ku is certainly an expert when it comes to vintage in general. However, when it comes to Heuer, there is one undisputed champion of knowledge. I am of course talking about none other than Jeff Stein. If you do not know who Jeff Stein is, click the link and watch the early episode of Talking Watches he did. Not only does he have an unsurpassed knowledge about vintage Heuer, he has without a doubt the most impressive collection of Heuer I have ever seen. He claims that most of the watches he buys are to further his knowledge on the subject. To be honest this seems like a very good excuse to tell his wife, but nonetheless it has certainly done wonders for the community.
Jeff is responsible for the website OnTheDash, which is basically Wikipedia but for Heuer. It is a one stop shop for any information you might need, or want to learn, and considering it is run solely by Jeff; who also has a part time job, it is truly remarkable. His editorial work is something that I take great pleasure in sitting down and reading, and his latest article is no different. Jeff has recently posted what could be described as a thesis on the grails within vintage Heuer collecting. It is absolutely fascinating, and is written in a very approachable style. I cannot recommend it enough to you. Whether you are a fan of Heuer or not, it is incredibly interesting, and comes of course with photos of some rather cool pieces.
As always, thank you very much for tuning in for this little summary of the weeks watch news. A couple of new releases, the AP being a personal favourite In Rose Gold because why the hell not?! I hope you all have a good weekend, and see you next week.
The Young Horologist
9th May 2020
Another week of quarantine has passed… Whilst last week saw a sea of new releases, this week has been a comparably quiet week in the watch industry. And if you ask me, I am not complaining. Considering the barrage of new watches last week, it was too much to take in at the time. As a result I have spent the past week actually reading up on more of the new pieces, and making sure that new watches both good and bad have not slipped past me. This week I have followed the same rough format as my first article. I am turning the spotlight on a few of my favorites, as well as a couple of insights into some fascinating topics that I have recently become aware of…
- MING have been making waves in the microbrand space for some years now, culminating in them being awarded the Horological Revelation for the Ming 17.06 Copper at GPHG 2019. Ming have continued to go from strength to strength since then, which has now culminated in their first ultra-thin piece. What we have here is the Ming 27.01, and like all Ming watches to date, it gives me a tingly feeling in the pants region.
Looking at this Ming gives you the same familiar aesthetic, those signature curvaceous lugs and overall case shape would lead you to believe that this is Ming similar to previous, and you would be forgiven for thinking that until you look at it on its side profile. This watch is thin, and I mean thin. 6.9mm to be exact, the same thickness as an Iphone 6s apparently!
It houses a movement which is at its base an ETA/Peseaux 7001. But to say this houses an ‘ETA’ would be like saying that a Rolls Royce is basically a 6 figure BMW… If we are going to split hairs it technically is, but not really. The entire movement has been re-worked, and only the escapement and the going train still remain from the original movement. Few parts have retained their original colour, which when set against the deep black background offers an incredibly striking visual. I am in love with this watch. Ming has been on my radar for sometime now, and they are certainly at the forefront of the microbrands that are knocking on the doors of more established brands. However at just over £3,000 and limited to 125 pieces, I sadly will not be getting one…
Photo Credit: Acquire Magazine
Zenith Chronomaster Revival ‘Shadow’
I have had the pleasure of trying out the A384 reference of this piece in the Watches of Switzerland Boutique on Bond Street; my ‘local’ if you will. The more traditional el primero (see below) has never really tickled my pickle in all honesty. However the regular A384 and now definitely the Shadow model most certainly do. I am on a bit of an all-black watch hype at the moment, and this one is another favourite in that respect. 37mm of pure stealth, with the fantastic colour scheme of black and grey make this watch awesome to be honest. I am in love.
Photo Credit: Monochrome Watches
Recently, two of my friends have made purchases from Gekota, specifically watches. Whilst I have known for a while now that Gekota make watches as well as straps, I have never really given them any thought. However, the most recent acquisition from Chris (who runs the website you are reading this on!) has made me realise that they need more appreciation than they are getting. Their current line comprises vintage inspired watches powered by Sellita movements, both quartz and automatic. They are vintage inspired, as opposed to homages, and frankly they are stunning. What is more is that they are well under £500 and without having got my hands on any yet, I feel like they offer phenomenal value. Even if you are not in the market for a new watch right now, I strongly urge you to go and have a browse of their current stock as they are gorgeous.
Photo credit: Geckota Watches
Recommended Reading: A Collected Man's Guide to Double-Signed Watches
Last month, A Collected Man published a 6000 article about Double-Signed Watches entitled ‘An Exploration of Double Signed Watches’. Now I must admit my knowledge of Double-Signed watches was nothing more than a love of them as a niche of watch collecting and an idea of some of the double signed watches that have appeared over the years. This article has changed that. They take a deep dive into why brands used retailers during the 30’s,40’s and subsequent years as well as what effect retail signatures have had on the second hand and more specifically the auction space. Despite being 45 pages long, it is truly a fantastic article. Hot tip, if you save the webpage in ‘books’ on your Iphone and/or Ipad, you can not only read it offline and bookmark where you got to if you don't read it in one go, but you can also highlight and makes notes if you’re a nerd like me!
Photo Credit: A Collected Man
Thank you again for reading. Whilst this week was not a crazy week for watch releases, it has certainly been fun to catch up on the releases from Watches & Wonders. Ming are quickly becoming a favourite of mine, and if they carry on in the trajectory that they are going at, they are going to be a force to reckoned with in the next few years.
In the immortal words of Leslie Chow, ‘Toodaloo madafacaaaaaars’
The Young Horologist
2nd May 2020
One of, if not the best thing about this wonderful passion (insert addiction if appropriate) is the connections and friendships that are made because of these little time telling devices that we strap onto our left or right wrist every day. Whilst not a crucial box to tick when applying for your watch nerd membership, the social aspect certainly helps to make this an infinitely more enjoyable hobby. And a relationship like this is how you are all reading my ramblings on the Mushi Straps website. Chris and myself have been talking for the past few months over ‘The Gram’ and have formed an Insta based watch friendship. Considering we are both similar sized businesses, and both are very much aligned in terms of our watch philosophy, collaborating in some way seemed like a no brainer! Chris dropped me a message a few weeks ago, suggesting that I wrote a short ‘week in watches’ piece for his website in order to put each of our businesses on the radar of our respective readership, and give some diversity to our offerings. Considering I was asked if I wanted to write more about watches than I already do, I of course bit Chris’ hand off; after having asked my two fellow founders over at TYH of course… So, without further-a-do, let’s take a quick look at what has been a pretty exciting week in watches!
To start with, and this may or may not be the formula of these articles going forward, I am going to shed a smidgen of light on my three favourite releases from the previous week. As we are effectively in the midst of watch Christmas, this is fairly easy at the moment. It has been a pretty exciting week, with IWC releasing a whole host of new models, as well as Seiko releasing some stunning Prospex Divers, however, my three are as follows…
The Cartier Prive Collection Tank ‘Asymetrique’
I am kicking off my favourite three with a watch that I feel maybe slightly polarising. Firstly, it is a square watch. And before you all go after me in the comments, the Cartier Tank is not only one of my favourite watches of all time, but one of the most iconic without question. However it is hard to argue with the fact that square or rectangular watches are just not as popular as their circular brothers and sisters. That being said, this new release from Cartier is a home run in my opinion. It takes the tank design, and adds a smattering of ‘quirk’ by adopting a rhombus case shape, with a tilted dial. The premise of this is that having the 12 at the top point of the case makes it easier to read at a glance. All of the variations are stunning, however the Gold model listed below is my personal favourite. The only slight downside for me is the three arm lugs, but it would not deter me enough to put me off buying one.
(Photo Credit Watches by SJX)
The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton
What a mouthful… To say this watch is packing a lot in would be an understatement. But what you have to remember is that it has been done by none other than Vacheron, and as a result it manages to be busy, but also incredibly elegant. Stephen Pulverent (Hodinkee) said a few days ago that “this is the most Vacheron watch that Vacheron have ever made”. I am paraphrasing that slightly, but I think he is completely spot on. In recent months, the development of the Overseas line and the Odysseus from Lange have taken my joint top spot as favourite modern integrated(ish) sports watch, and this release only cements their position at the top. I don’t really know what to say about this watch. It is an ultra-thin perpetual calendar, skeletonised, in a rose gold Overseas case, from one of the holy trinity brands. I think this watch is just unbelievable, and if I had £92,568.10 I would buy one in an instant. Step aside AP and Patek!
(Photo Credit Monochrome Watches)
The Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept
Just to caveat this article, I do like conservative watches as well. But when Vacheron releases that stunner and then Piaget release the thinnest watch EVER MADE as a production model, having teased it as a concept a few years ago, it was hard for me not to put them in my top three. This watch is just unbelievable. Being able to get a fully automatic movement into a case that is just 2mm thick is honestly unbelievable. 2mm… TWO MILLIMETERS?!?! The watch could have hands shaped like penises for all I care, the fact that it is that thin will never cease to amaze me. What’s more, just to make this watch even more unbelievable, it is customisable. Yes, if being the owner of what I can imagine will be an exceedingly low production watch isn’t exclusive enough for you, you can make it your own. You can specify your choice of colours for the subdial displaying the time, the movement plate, the finish of the hands and the strap material. Piaget claim to have over 10,000 possible variations. Suffice to say even if you did meet a fellow owner of one of these, theirs will not be the same as yours. This watch is the epitome of intriguing watchmaking, Bravo Piaget.
(Photo Credit: Hodinkee)
This week of new watch releases during the global pandemic puts an interesting topic of conversation on the table. With Baselworld all but dead, and brands contemplating whether to follow Rolex and Patek to their new trade fair next year, do trade fairs have a future? Are they needed? There is no doubt that the best way to release watches is over social media, because of the reach brands can get, and the cheaper costs. However, is this detrimental to the social aspect of this hobby? I think the fashion world would be affected if Pitti Uomo was cancelled, or Geneva Carshow for the automotive world, so it does I think put increased importance on brand specific events, or meet-up groups such as RedBar. It will be very interesting to see over the coming weeks and months whether Rolex and Patek get any brands wanting to join their new fair in April of next year, or whether in fact Rolex and Patek ditch that plan and decide to follow suit of other brands. We shall have to wait and see.
The Urban Jürgensen Big 8 'London Edition' For A Collected Man
Urban Jurgensen have been gaining popularity in recent years. They are evolving at a rate which is seeing them reaching dizzying levels of quality (Lange esq dare I say it). This new Limited Edition is based on the brands flagship model, the ‘Big 8’. The reason that I am shedding light on this is because not only has it been done in collaboration with one of my favourite watch dealers, A Collected Man, but it has also been released to raise money for the efforts to tackle COVID-19. UJ have taken the normal ‘Big 8’, and have let ACM have a play with it. This version comes in a steel case, with a gorgeous British racing green coloured guilloche dial. It also does not feature a date window, which is something I am a big fan of. It was the one thing that annoyed me about the production ‘Big 8’. It is worth noting though that the movement is the same, so there is an empty position on the crown when you pull it out… But that would not be an issue for me at all. All of the proceeds go to helping tackle COVID-19, and at £13,500, only £1,200 more than the regular steel model, I think that is a very fair price for such a handsome piece of haute horlogerie.
Photo Credit: Monochrome Watches
I hope you have enjoyed the first instalment of ‘A Week in Watches’. As this is the first one, it is subject to change, and both Chris and I really welcome your feedback as to what you would like to see, how long you would like them to be, and whether you like how they are written.
But until next week, take care…