To mark the celebration of 50 years since the Apollo 11 moon landing, Omega have announced that they have put the infamous Calibre 321 movement back into production!
Over the last 2 years and operating in total secrecy under the codename Alaska II Omega have set up a dedicated Calibre 321 facility in Bienne.
Eugene Cernan’s watch – an ST 105.003 which incidentally is the reference model that NASA tested to to become flight certified, is currently in the Omega Museum in Bienne. This was digitally scanned using to create the reference model for re-creating the reborn Calibre 321.
The new facility in Bienne will see end to end production of Calibre 321 watches by the same watchmaker including the movement, watch head and bracelet.
The Calibre 321 – Omega’s column wheel chronograph movement was last seen in the original Speedmaster before it was replaced by the calibre 861 (a cam actuated movement) before finally being updated to the calibre 1861 which is till used today. For more information, take a read of our recently published article “An introduction to chronograph movements“
Omega fans have long been waiting to see the return of the Calibre 321 as it was last produced in 1968 and it will surprise few that Omega have chosen to bring this back as we look to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
We expect to see an announcement from Omega within the next few months of a Apollo 11 50th anniversary limited edition Speedmaster to be released this year.
What do you think? – Will you be rushing to place a deposit for one as soon as its announced? Let us know in the comments!
When it comes to chronographs, the movement is king, but did you know that there are a number of different ways of making a chronograph movement? Manufacturers will typically charge a hefty premium for a ‘high end’ chronograph so why is this and what differentiates one movement from another?
Firstly, There are two types of chronograph – modular & integrated…
A modular chronograph comprises two elements. The base movement and the chronograph module itself. An example of a modular chronograph is the ETA 2894, which comprises the 2892 base movement that can be used on its own, delivers basic timekeeping in a compact movement just 3.6mm in height. It contains all the ‘usual suspects’ (hacking, hand winding, hours, mins, seconds etc) for basic timekeeping, and also provides a drive that can deliver power from the mainspring to drive the additional module. In this case, ETA’s modular chronograph module sits on top.
The benefit of a modular movement is that if there’s a problem, a watchmaker can separate the two halves, and work on the just the bit that needs his attention. This also keeps costs down in both time, and replacement elements, as it’s possible to replace one or other elements (base movement or chronograph module) rather than the entire movement.
On the other hand, modular movements suffer from a lubrication issue: as the movement is basically built in two halves, unlike an integrated movement, each half needs separate lubrication and can, if left for too long dry up. As a guide, it is therefore important to run the chronograph on the movement periodically to ensure its all running smoothly and the lubrication has not dried up. Running the chronograph once a month for an hour should help prevent this.
One of the easy ways of identifying a modular movement, is to look at the placement of chronograph pushers on the case. If the two chronograph pushers sit higher than the winding crown, then they are attached to a module sitting on top of a base movement.
An integrated movement as you might imagine incorporates all the components in a single design. This invariably delivers a slimmer overall thickness of movement, and will include all of the expected characteristics of a chronograph. Overall it’s more efficient not to have space wasted with extra plates and drive wheels to transfer power to another module. A typical example of an integrated movement is the valjoux 7750 – one of the most prolific chronograph movements used in watchmaking for decades.
Of the two, modular movements are often regarded as the poor cousin of an integrated movement (as it results in bulkier watch cases due to the increased depth of the movement) and as I’ve mentioned is less efficient. Integrated movements are generally much more commonplace.
Again, on a side view of the case, if the chronograph pushers line up with the winding crown then they are part of an integrated movement.
In addition, there are two architectures of chronograph movements, cam actuated and column wheel. As you might imagine each has its benefits, so I’ll attempt to cover some of the basics.
In a cam actuated chronograph, levers activated by the top pusher engage and disengage the wheels that drive the chronograph hands with the main timekeeping parts of the watch using a layered cam where one layer receives input from the pusher, and the other engages and disengages the clutch connecting the chronograph to the movement. In addition the cam is designed to block the reset mechanism so that this cannot be performed while the chronograph is running as this would be fairly catastrophic while the chronograph is engaged to the main movement. The flyback chronograph was specifically developed to allow the reset of the chronograph while its running and in a single movement disengages the clutch, resets the chrono and re-engages the clutch. These movements are much rarer and more complicated as a result.
Incidentally, all modular chronographs are cam operated, as they have a limited depth to build the chronograph module without making the entire movement prohibitively thick whereas in an integrated chronograph, there is more depth to be able to include a column wheel which is deeper.
A column wheel was designed to do the same job but with less parts. Instead of multiple cam plates that are stacked, a single turret shaped wheel is used. However as you can imagine, this is a more complicated and difficult part to manufacture. However with less parts come less friction (and therefore wear) and also a more consistent feel requiring less pressure to actuate.
Many have also noted that the operation of a cam actuated chronograph experiences a jerk when it sets off however this has been attributed more to the lateral clutches present in cam operated chronographs as opposed to vertical clutches on column wheel chronographs.
So column wheel chronographs are more complicated to design and build resulting in an increased cost by the manufacturer however these movements are smoother to operate by the user, and more desirable as a consequence. Column wheel chronograph movements include the infamous Zenith El Primero and the manually wound Omega 321 movement used in the original Speedmaster. As you can imagine, pretty much all high end chronographs have column wheels including Patek Philippe’s CH 29-535 PS and A. Lange & Söhne’s L951.5
You may have noticed that trying to get hold of an original Speedmaster with a 321 movement will be a little pricey as will almost any watch with an El Primero movement (which not only has a column wheel by also a Hi-beat of 36,000 vibrations per hour) let alone a Patek or Lange.
However would it surprise you to learn that you can in fact buy a column wheel chronograph for a few hundred pounds that has a movement stretching back nearly 80 years?
Back in the 1940s Venus had created a pair of chronograph movements that became ubiquitous. The Calibre.170 and Calibre 175. The Calibre 170 was a twin register, vertically aligned, manually wound column wheel chronograph, and its sister the Calibre 175 was identical except its chronograph registers were horizontally aligned. These were not only highly regarded as exceptional movements but were adopted by a huge quantity of manufacturers including Breitling, Aristo, Birks, Helbros, Telda, Silvana, Bovet, Loyal and many more.
By the 1960’s, Venus decided to sell off the movement to raise capital in the light of newer architectures and future developments and sold the rights (as well as the tooling to produce the movements) to the Chinese who in 1963 in Tianjin released a pilots chronograph for the Chinese airforce. In 1992 the Tianjin Seagull Corporation was created as the foundation for the Seagull watch brand.
In 2011, Seagull re-issued this watch (the “Seagull 1963”pilots chronograph) which contains the very same movement. Seagull refer to this movement as the ST19 movement however this is in fact the Venus Calibre 175 still produced using the machinery and tooling procured during the 1960’s.
This watch is still available to buy today for under £300 (in a variety of models including the original 37.5mm with a hesalite crystal) which quite frankly is an astonishing value proposition.
If Seagull are able to produce this watch today with a manually wound column wheel chronograph movement, there is nothing stopping brands such as Omega producing a modern column wheel chronograph. If Omega released a column wheel as part of their yearly announcements I can imagine that it would only be part of a limited edition re-issue commemorating the Speedmaster and based on the last two limited editions – sold out within minutes. So if you would like to own a chronograph with a piece of heritage and history without breaking the bank, and from a supplier that is not sold out within minutes, look no further…
Do you own a column wheel chronograph? – What’s been your ownership experience? – let us know in the comments below.
In the inimitable words of Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, “ … there are dinner jackets and there are dinner jackets….. this is the latter….” she was of course referring to the truth that not all things are created equal!
The traditional and somewhat humble NATO strap was purely utilitarian by creation – there to ensure that the watch head wasn’t lost in the event of a spring bar failure. However nowadays, few of us undertake frequent activities that are likely to cause this (as well as the quality of spring-bars improving over the years) so nowadays most of us are buying and wearing NATO straps as watch accessories to complement both the watch itself and our attire. Indeed watch manufacturers have themselves caught on to this with Omega having launched a NATO configurator on its website allowing you to see what various straps will look like on a variety of their watches, and as you can imagine Omega NATO straps are not cheap – but controversially they are proportionate.
Like Omega, Tudor also made a name for themselves when they launched the ubiquitous Black Bay for their inclusion of an extremely high quality fabric strap that while not a strict NATO does embody the same purpose and function of a traditional NATO. Most if not all who have ever worn this will attest to the fact its probably the most comfortable strap they have ever put on.
It’s not a hard correlation to accept but clearly the quality of the strap directly affects the comfort of how your watch will feel and wear. With this in mind, if you’ve spent hundreds or thousands on a watch, you wont want the strap you wear it on to either be uncomfortable or to adversely affect its look.
With this in mind, I’d like to suggest that “…there are NATO straps and there are NATO straps”
Buying a quality NATO can be transformational in how it wears, but who makes a really good quality NATO strap and what sets apart one manufacturer from another?
We have probably bought more NATO straps than we care to admit – which as chance would have it means we have experienced some awesome (and some not so awesome) straps along the way…
There are ostensibly three things that contribute to a decent NATO (or for that matter any strap). The quality of the material used, the quality of the hardware (buckles & keepers etc) and the attention to detail. On a cheap strap, often quality control is the first thing that suffers. Cheap straps are much more susceptible to loose threads, fraying holes and before long the strap will deteriorate. Not to mention that poor quality fabric can be itchy & uncomfortable. The buckles are thin, cheap and flimsy, and overall instead of enhancing the look of your watch, you have in fact deteriorated not only the look and feel, but also the enjoyment of your watch.
While it’s not in our nature to put others down, it is in our nature to extol the virtues of people and products that we believe are excellent. With that in mind, we’ve shared a few or our personal recommendations below. We have spent time getting to know the owners of all three brands below and can attest to their focus on care and customer service. We have first hand experience of the straps having worn them extensively on a variety of watches so as usual these are our recommendations based on our own (unfortunately very extensive) experience!
Blusharkstraps Ever since I first discovered BluSharkstraps I fell in love with their premium feel – and this in fact has been their defining characteristic and mission in life. Joe’s relentless pursuit of designing, building and delivering high-quality NATO straps has produced some of the best NATO’s on the market. Our favourites are the Alphashark and AlphaPremier ranges that feature the very best hardware with brushed, polished or black PVD finishing available across their range of 18, 20, 22 & 24mm sizes. This allows you to choose, match and pair your NATO precisely to the watch that you are buying it for. The quality of fabric is excellent as is their attention to detail, stitching and hardware used.
The AlphaPremier straps are differentiated by a silky smooth material that is only 1.2mm thick, and a sliding first keeper. The AlphaShark straps are $32 (£25) and the AlphaPremier straps are $36 (£28) If you are looking for a conventional NATO strap in quite possibly the most diverse range of colours & sizes built to an extremely high standard that will complement an expensive watch you will not find better.
The only down side to BluShark’s straps if you live here in the UK (and this is not their fault) is that you will typically take advantage of their buy 2 get one free offer which will then cost you $72 (£56) for three – which still represents extremely good value in the light of Omega’s NATO at £120 however this then puts you above the import duty charges and will incur additional customs fees as it crosses into the UK.
Haveston If you are looking for the security of a NATO strap without the extra bulk that comes with multiple passes of material lifting your watch off your wrist as well as keepers to the side of your wrist holding excess material, then look no further than Haveston. Based here in the UK, Alex has taken the time to re-engineer the traditional NATO as a single pass strap delivering the benefits of a NATO strap while delivering the feel of a two piece canvas strap. We wrote an article on the straps and would recommend having a further read here. Ostensibly, because the single pass still passes between both spring bars, in the event of a failure the watch will still remain on your wrist. However because it only has a single piece of material beneath the watch, it sits much closer to your wrist. In addition, because there is no “third keeper” you can move the head of the watch further down the fabric ensuring the buckle and keepers are precisely underneath your wrist. Furthermore, Alex has engineered the second keeper as a ‘floating’ keeper allowing the flexibility of securing your watch consistently depending on how much excess is left. The buckles and hardware deliver a premium yet slender aesthetic and complement the fabric of the strap well. Havestons straps are available for $28.55 (£22) here in the UK. Although the price is listed in dollars this is more as a representation of a universal currency as a lot of customers are based overseas. Alex has informed us that the revised site will list the straps in local currencies which will be launching soon.
Bark & Jack If on the other hand you prefer the look of a traditional NATO strap but don’t want the bulk, then I would urge you to try a strap from Bark&Jack. Adrian has been working very hard finessing and prototyping a silky smooth, and extremely slender NATO resulting in a strap that has the traditional look of a NATO that is extremely comfortable to wear but doesn’t lift the watch head far from your wrist resulting in a much better aesthetic. In addition if you buy two, you are also provided with a ‘watch sock’ for protecting your watch from scratches while storing it. Currently available in 4 colours: black, green grey and sand in 20mm widths only. What is astonishing is that the quality is on a par with the best and yet these are available for a mere £18 here in the UK! In my humble opinion these are as good as (if not better than) the Omega NATO straps available in terms of quality. The only negative is that some may prefer a wider range of colours and sizes of NATO straps, however as this is a new product range and is Adrian’s first product, there is no doubt he has hit the ground running with a fantastic product, and we look forward to more colour choices and widths in the future!
With such excellent straps available at very reasonable prices it would be sacrilege to endure discomfort or a poor quality strap when both your wrist and your timepiece deserve better!
What’s your experience of NATO straps? Let us know in the comments below!
They say that there are in fact only two kinds of watch enthusiasts, those who have discovered the Seiko SKX, and those who are yet to discover the SKX!
The Seiko SKX is one of the worlds most ubiquitous watches. Universally loved by so many around the world, it manages to achieve the seemingly impossible. Let me explain the problem…
As a divers watch it is inherently robust, yet the case of the SKX has curved sides ensuring the watch is extremely comfortable when you flex your wrist. The lug to lug dimensions are modest at 46mm meaning it can be comfortably worn by wrists of all sizes (for comparison the 38mm NOMOS Club campus has a considerably larger lug to lug distance of 48.5mm). The crown is offset to the 4oclock position ensuring it doesn’t dig into the back of your hand. The dial is extremely legible and includes both a day and date, and it has an in-house movement that is so robust, people typically count the time between services in decades! What’s more this isn’t just water resistant to 200m – its an ISO6425 rated dive watch which means every single SKX has been tested to 125% of this depth(250m). The icing on the cake is that this amazing watch does not cost the earth but is available for the quite frankly unbelievable price in the UK of around £200.
The Seiko SKX is by no means perfect though. The action of the bezel leaves a lot to be desired, there are comments from numerous owners complaining that their chapter ring is misaligned, and you would be forgiven for thinking the jubilee bracelet available was a free gift in a box of cereal! Seiko uses their proprietary Hardlex crystal which is not as scratch resistant as sapphire glass, and the movement cannot be hand wound or stopped to synchronise it to a reference time.
However despite these shortcomings, every SKX owner will tell you they love their SKX – probably disproportionately – which is where the problems start…
If you were to look through watch collections you might be able to spot a theme. A series of beautiful, strategic and valuable watches from one or more manufacturers brought together to form the collectors choices and lurking at the back somewhere you will find the obligatory SKX. The most common ‘excuse’ that a collector will publicly admit to, is that they bought it as an everyday ‘beater’. In other words they bought it with the intention that they didn’t mind what happened to this cheap watch and that any damage it sustained while doing the gardening or other activity was damage not received by the rest of the collection. However if you look closely you will discover the SKX rarely has any damage. Why? because after buying this cheap watch he’s discovered how incredibly wearable it is. For some reason it looks great on almost any strap! Leather, NATO, canvas, crocodile, sailcloth, cordura – everything seems to go with an SKX.
Its at this point that things take a further turn for the worse. “If the watch is so wearable, how about fixing one or two of the shortcomings?” Well as you might imagine there is a whole host of companies producing parts specifically for the SKX including crystals, movements, bezels, dials, hands and many other alternative components should you wish to truly customise your watch. A common disposition is to replace the movement upgrading it to the NH35 and replace the Hardlex crystal with a sapphire crystal.
By this point in time some owners have spent as much getting the watch modified with the cost of a watchmakers time and parts as it cost them to buy in the first place and are left wondering why they had to do all this themselves and Seiko didn’t produce a more ‘premium’ Seiko SKX
This year at Baselworld, Seiko launched the SPB079 – while in derivative terms, its not a direct lineage of the SKX, it is in form. It’s powered by the 6R15 movement (Seiko’s in-house name for the NE15 which is an upgraded NH35 with a better main spring and a longer 50 hour power reserve) with hacking and hand winding, a sapphire crystal with AR coating, a quality rotating bezel, applied markers on the dial, a traditional crown at 4o’clock and like the SKX is an ISO6425 rated divers watch. The case design is sympathetic to the SKX’s iconic shape but with every contributory element improved, these all add up to a whole lot more. Once you hold the SPB079 the quality improvements are immediately apparent and the watch feels altogether a much more premium watch. The SPB079 retails at £799 and while that is considerably more that the SKX, it is far cheaper than the build quality suggests!
While it may be a little cheaper (but not much) to buy an SKX and upgrade the dial, hands, crystal, movement, bezel insert, bezel and strap, once you have added the watchmakers time you will be pretty close to the price of the SPB079.
The problem with the SKX is that it is such an amazing watch and so versatile that it connects with people causing them to fall in love with it for so many reasons. So here’s my advice: Buy one and love it. Don’t upgrade it – appreciate it for what it is. If you want a more premium watch buy a different watch. and if you want a beater watch – buy a G-Shock!
For the first time ever, Seiko have released two limited edition watches specifically for the European market. These are the Seiko Prospex “Dawn Grey” Turtle SRPD01K1 and Seiko Prospex “Dawn Grey” Samurai SRPD03K1. Each watch is Limited to just 2018 pieces each and available exclusively in Europe. The Dawn Grey theme pairs a silver/grey dial, bezel and chapter ring with a highlight burst of orange marking the initial dive time on the bezel, orange tip seconds hand, and subtle orange markers at the 3,6,9,12 on the chapter ring. I visited the only UK Seiko boutique to take a look.
The Dawn Grey Turtle (SRPD01K1) is priced at £470 and comes with both a steel bracelet with divers extension as well as a Grey colour matched silicone strap in a Limited Edition box. The dial is a beautiful metallic silver/grey dial with the dive time marking running round to the 20 minute marker aligning with the position of the crown. This was my first experience of a Seiko Turtle and I must say I was very impressed with the build quality and attention to detail. It certainly is a massive step up from the build quality of an SKX (a great watch in its own right but not in the same league) and many “accessible” high street Seiko’s. The 4R35 movement was beautifully smooth to wind and adjust, and the bezel action was superbly smooth with no play whatsoever.
The Dawn Grey Samurai (SRPD03K1) is priced lower at £410 however this only comes on the steel bracelet with divers extension and does not include the additional silicone rubber strap. The Samurai’s execution of the colours, fit and finish is essentially the same. In keeping with the design intention of the turtle, the orange marker on the bezel for the dive time runs to the 15 minute marker where the crown is located. This design element may seem trivial, however on execution demonstrates a level of intentionality with each watch and ensures a balanced aesthetic that is not immediately obvious.
Interestingly, the Dawn Grey Samurai is selling faster than the Turtle here in the UK with the last one of their initial stock sold as I was in the boutique on Monday afternoon. Rest assured, more are available and the London Seiko boutique will be receiving more next week as they we sent an initial stock only.
However if you want one I would advise you to act quickly as these are already showing up on Ebay with listings as high as £750!
The German Flieger or Pilots watch in the form it exists today is more a modern interpretation of traditional pilots watches produced and worn during world war II where these watches were strapped to the outside of flight suits. Although the flieger watches available today are much smaller than the 55mm watches produced during wartime, they carry many of the same features and specifications, drawing their identity from their heritage in producing clean, functional and reliable watches. While many brands might be accused of producing year after year the same watch, Stowa have continued to evolve and innovate their take on the traditional pilots watch and have more recently introduced a more contemporary model called the Ikarus. So we reached out to Stowa who were kind enough to send us one to spend some time with.
A little history of Stowa…
In 1927, Walter Storz founded Stowa in Hornberg, Black forest, Germany. In 1935, just 8 years later the company had outgrown its building and moved to Pforzheim. By 1937 Stowa had been producing numerous ‘Bauhaus’ watches inspired by the German school of art, design & architecture of the same name. With near constant growth, in 1938 Stowa moved to their new building which was built for them in Bismarckstraße in Pforzheim. However this growth would show little signs of letting up as the start of World War II brought even more demand…
Although it had long been established that pilots required accurate timekeeping for navigation, flight time and fuel use, the start of the second world war meant the German airforce – the ‘Luftwaffe’ was going to need watches in bulk. Specifications for official flieger watcher were drawn up and 5 companies commissioned to produce them – IWC, Laco, Wempe, A.Lang & Sohne and of course Stowa. These specifications were designed to ensure that no matter who produced these watches, they would be physically and functionally the same – these were critical tool watches after all. This specification included the case size (55mm) to aid legibility in poor conditions, crown – so it can be easily operated by pilots wearing gloves, the dial needed to include the (now iconic) triangle with two dots easily denoting the 12oclock position and confirming orientation, the dial, hour, minute, and seconds hands were all coated with radium in order to provide strong luminescence, and of course were accurate and able to be synchronised to a reference time (had a hacking function). The German Testing Office created an appropriate designation for the specification identifying that the watch was approved for flight (FL), navigation (23), and aeronautics (883) thus creating the official Flieger designation of FL23883 which would be applied to the watches from all 5 manufacturers.
Our first impressions…
Its always reassuring when a manufacturer provides an ‘appropriate’ box for the watch they are selling. Its not a good sign when its obvious that a large proportion of the price you have paid for the watch has gone on the box and presentation. Indeed Omega have often been chastised for some of the more ridiculous packages that are more akin to a suitcase and clearly cost a lot of money but once home will be shelved or put in the loft rarely to see the light of day again and making you feel like you have wasted a proportion of what you spent on the box. Alternatively if you’re spending good money on a good watch, receiving it in a carboard sleeve akin to free gift from a Kelloggs box of cornflakes is also not very reassuring! Its therefore refreshing to see Stowa provide the Ikarus in a modest but sturdy metal box that is sure to protect the watch, is not enormous, and yet is not overly expensive. The box is lined with a simple leather lining and contains the Ikarus and the Stowa guarantee.
The case of the Ikarus has a matte finish. Although it might look like its brushed, upon closer inspection there are no brush marks at all. The case is actually hand ground to a matte finish which starts to show how serious Stowa are about even their more affordable watches. The case measures 40mm without the crown, and is 10.2mm thick from top to bottom. These are a sweet-spot for proportions and allow it to wear comfortably on a variety of wrist sizes where it neither looks too large on a smaller wrist nor out of place on larger wrists, and allowing it to slip easily under the cuff. The flieger designation ‘FL23883’ is laser etched into the side of the case as a visual reminder of this watch’s heritage.
The Dial of the Stowa Ikarus is the most notable element setting it apart from its peers. As Stowa continues to innovate and evolve the presence of the Flieger bringing it into the modern era, they have created a beautiful grey metallic dial that starts to bridge the gap between a tool watch and something a little more dressy. This has been created by rhodium plating the dial and then bead blasting with glass beads. The indices are then painted in C3 Superluminova.
The hands are traditional flieger shaped hands and are thermally blued providing a subtle and authentic element of colour when the light catches them and are also filled with C3 Superluminova. This is well paired and contrasts with the depth of the grey dial behind. There is a date at 6 o’clock which has been thoughtfully executed. It does not ‘cut into’ any other element on the watch face and replaces the number 6 on the dial creating a balanced dial layout. To aid legibility, the date wheel has been implemented in black with white numerals which feels highly appropriate. Unlike a traditional Flieger the Stowa logo is subtly written on the dial under the traditional Triangle at 12.
The Onion crown is well proportioned and easy to wind & manipulate. Its a nice attention to detail harking back to traditional pilots watches. For anyone who has ever had any discomfort from the crown digging into the back of your hand, this crown will help as its predominantly round with no sharp edges.
The caseback is secured with 6 micro screws and has a sapphire porthole to view the movement. The watch is powered by an ETA 2824-2 in its base grade. Customers may if they wish upgrade the movement to a Top Grade ETA 2824-2 movement or alternative the 2804 hand wound derivative. The movement is not highly decorated, however it is supplied with a nice custom Stowa rotor. If customers elect for the top grade 2824 movement, Stowa will supply a traditional Flieger rotor. This is far more functional in design and contains specification text for the watch adding another touch of heritage.
The leather strap was a welcome surprise. Without handling the strap you would be forgiven for thinking its more ‘industrial’ than it actually is. Visually it would appear that with three keepers – one of which being metal it is a rugged strap engineered to be robust above all else, however the strap is made from a soft supple leather that is extremely comfortable to wear. The tang buckle is a solid milled buckle signed Stowa contributing to the “engineered” theme.
However if you left the Ikarus on the strap it comes with, you would be doing the watch an injustice as it pairs well with so many other straps. Throughout the time we had the Stowa, we continually changed the straps allowing the watch to show its versatility. In fact we thought it was such a versatile watch that we used in on a photoshoot for an article on Haveston’s watch straps which you can take a look here.
Casually, Stowa’s own strap dresses the watch down well. It allows the watch to take on a more ‘rugged look and feel while being extremely comfortable to wear. Canvas two piece straps suit the watch well and we spent some considerable time with these on the watch as they complement the slender proportions of the watch also allowing it to slip neatly under the cuff.
While the Ikarus is no dress watch, it definitely passes for a smarter casual watch suitable for most environments. Whether hanging out in coffee shops at the weekends, at work, or anywhere in between, the Stowa Ikarus makes for a compelling all round watch. Able to slip discretely under a cuff with a shirt thanks to its dimensions or brushing off the more formal looks with jeans. Either way the Ikarus is right at home.
The Stowa Ikarus presents a great value proposition. Its a modern iteration of a traditional German Flieger by a brand steeped in history and heritage, and yet it breaks away – bringing contemporary style to an otherwise traditional timepiece. The build quality is typically German – well engineered simplicity delivering everything necessary and nothing superfluous. The display case back is nice and at this price point the inclusion of an ETA movement is welcome.
Its hard to find something not to like about the Ikarus. We would have preferred the watch to have had a 100m water resistance allowing the watch to be worn comfortably near and in water. Interestingly Stowa make a larger model of the Ikarus called the Ikarus Sport at 43mm with 200m water resistance. This larger sport variant uses all the same components including the dial from the 40mm Ikarus, placing them in a larger case with a thicker bezel being the only difference.
So if you are considering an ‘all round watch’ I would encourage you to take a look at this fantastic piece at a great price of £600 (€680) which makes a pretty compelling value proposition.
Do you own a Flieger from One of the 5 above – if so what’s your experience of owning one? or are you interested in buying a pilots watch? Let us know in the comments below.
This evening at an invitation only event at the Design Museum in Kensington, Bremont launched a new limited edition timepiece – The Supersonic.
The launch of the Supersonic celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Concorde, and 100 years of British Airways. This is the eighth historical limited edition timepiece from Bremont and incorporates a ring of aluminium from Alpha Bravo – Heathrow’s last remaining Concorde in its construction.
The Supersonic contains Bremont’s first ever manual wind movement which features an 8 day power reserve with an indicator on the dial at the 12 o’clock position, an exhibition caseback and an elaborately decorated movement featuring the silhouette of Concorde within its construction.
The Bremont Supersonic will be available in three flavours.
Earlier this year we wrote an article calling out the issues with traditional NATO watch straps – namely that they add unnecessary bulk to a watch as well as lifting it further away from your wrist. We were quite surprised by quantity of positive feedback on the article. It seems that we were not alone in our views and one UK Company ‘Haveston’ have continued to innovate, evolving the design and implementation of the humble NATO strap without losing its two principal benefits – the ease of which you can change a strap and the added security ensuring you don’t lose your watch if a spring bar fails.
We contacted Haveston to take a look at their A2-Single pass layout straps, and Alex kindly sent us a selection.
The design of the A2-single pass layout straps has evolved the humble NATO into a truly modern strap. Firstly, the lack of the additional piece of material and buckle allows the watch to sit closer to the wrist as well as allowing you to move the strap futher along the fabric. This allows the wearer to position the watch on the top of the wrist whilst ensuring the buckle is positioned on the bottom balancing out the look and feel, and ensuring a comfortable fit. However Haveston did not stop there, they also re-engineered the placement of the traditional NATO metal keepers and allowed one to become a ‘floating’ keeper – able to move along the strap. This allows the excess strap to be held in position without the need to fold and tuck the excess back in on itself. This also contributes to a more slender wear as well as increased comfort.
The fabrics used are high quality heavy weave polyamide in a seatbelt pattern and the fit and finish is excellent. The straps are available with either a polished buckle and keepers, a brushed finish or a blasted PVD in 18, 20 or 22mm widths. Of note is their Canvas series providing a great alternative to the traditional fabric of NATO straps.On the wrist the straps feel extremely comfortable and in keeping with the military history of the nato strap, Haveston’s designs are all historically inspired with unique patterns and colours harking back to Army and Navy heritage.
We’re delighted that to see Haveston continue to innovate and look forward to more of their offerings currently under development.
The straps are all available directly from Haveston in the UK at www.haveston.com Prices are currently shown in USD as a universal price indication only and payment is taken in GBP. Haveston’s new website (coming soon) will offer localised currencies.
We are proud to announce that from today our Wristworthy online magazine is now available on Flipboard.
Since starting Wristworthy, we have wanted to deliver a unique perspective and journalistic narrative on watches to the broadest possible audience. As part of our strategy to deliver quality watch content, we feel its important not only to build relationships with brands and readers alike, but to also ensure our content is delivered on the best platforms and in the most accessible and appropriate way. For the last two months we have been working with Flipboard to satisfy their criteria as a professional publisher.
Before being approved, Flipboard’s editorial team take time to personally qualify each and every publisher to assure the content and prioritise quality over quantity. Only once approved can publishers deliver their content directly through Flipboard to their community of more than 100 million monthly active users. This achievement has broadened our reach and solidified our presence as a British publisher of quality watch content.
So what is Flipboard?
Flipboard is the world’s largest content curation platform. Flipboard makes it easy to stay informed and get inspired by the stories and products that fuel your passion. Over the years, in partnership with the world’s greatest publishers, Flipboard have built a curated experience with a plurality of voices, where people can find quality stories on any interest, investing in their lives and their passions. Flipboard work with over 4,000 of the world’s best publishers and an editorial team that hand-curates content around the clock to produce a 100% brand-safe environment that values quality over quantity. Flipboard has a Global reach of over 100 million Monthly Active Users (MAU) spanning every country, over a quarter of which are here in Europe.
Flipboard is available in the iTunes store for iOS, the Google Play store for Android, the Microsoft store for Windows and the Web.
You can find and add our magazine by searching for “Wristworthy” or clicking here.
So you’ve gone out and bought yourself a new watch and after having looked at the water resistance rating declared by the manufacturer you’re confident that it will stand up to the daily lifestyle that you’re accustomed to. However after having worn it in relatively light situations, you’ve now noticed that the watch is showing signs of water inside the case. Surely this cant be right?! Well, depending on the rating you could be in for a nasty surprise.
There are in fact two international standards for the water resistance of watches. These are ISO 22810:2010 and ISO 6425. ISO 22810:2010 (which as the designation implies was revised in 2010) defines the standard by which watches are tested and denotes the applied markings allowed to be placed on the watch.
You will note from the table that watches carrying a water resistance rating of 30m or 50m both state they are “Not suitable for showering, bathing, swimming, snorkeling, water related work, fishing, and diving.”
In our research we did find a number of websites, forums and watch manufacturers with differing views and opinions on the suitability of watches rated to 50m (or 5atm) with some stating that 50m should be fine for use while swimming, and others stating that a watch with a rating of 50m must not be subjected to more than a few “splashes”. While writing this article we actually have a watch lent to us by Stowa which has “Waterproof 5 atm” inscribed on the back. However in the guarantee booklet it clearly states “…removing the watch before bathing” – which is not exactly confidence inspiring from the manufacturer as it might as well say “For warrantly purposes, don’t get this watch wet”
ISO 6425 on the other hand is a completely different affair. As you can see from the table above, the minimum depth possible in order to attain ISO 6425 is 100m (from the older standard) and nowadays 200m is the minimum to attain ‘6425. Although there are a lot of additional requirements that a watch must meet in order to qualify (such as readability and resistance to magnetism) there are two significant differences with regards to water resistance.
Firstly the watch must be tested to 125% of the stated rating. So for a watch with a water resistance of 200m, it will be tested to a depth pressure rating of 250m. Secondly and most importantly every single watch must be tested. Not a sample but 100% of watches produced must be tested. Once all the test are satisfactorily passed, the watch may carry the designation “Divers”. Interestingly this is why there are a number of different Seamasters in Omega’s range with one called “Divers 300m” as this model conforms to the ISO6425 standard and all watches have been tested. Interestingly there are some great value watches that meet this standard and in fact the rather legendary Seiko SKX is one of them as you will see on the dial it bears the marking “Divers 200” – this alone makes the SKX incredible value for money.
One other notable factor is that sudden changes in heat can also adversely affect the seals in a watch. Therefore plunging into cold water or indeed a hot bath or hot tub could also compromise the seal of your watch allowing water to enter and potentially causing major damage.
As there is so much ambiguity as to the suitability of wearing a watch anywhere near water with a rating of less than 100m we would recommend that for the sake of preserving your watch you either remove it at the mere prospect of going near water or only buy watches that have at least 100m water resistance. However that leads us on to one last point…….
Panerai have produced almost exclusively divers watches for over 80 years (since 1938) ranging back to the Italian navy in world war II. First their Radiomir range of divers watches and then later their Luminor range of divers watches which contain patented crown locks. However their latest watch is nothing short of a lesson in irony. Allow me to introduce you to the Panerai Luminor ‘Due’. This watch as part of their Luminor range includes their iconic crown guard specifically designed to protect it in the event it comes into contact with an object underwater. So I hear you ask, what’s wrong with that? Well the watch has a water resistance rating of 30m! Yep that’s right Panerai have produced a divers watch that cannot go near water!
So which would you choose – a Panerai Divers watch that can’t go near water for £5100 or a Seiko SKX ISO certified Divers watch for less than £200?
Whats your experience of water resistance ratings? – let us know in the comments.
In the world of watchmaking a brands’ quality & heritage is usually measured by how many centuries it has been in existence. Brands most often considered ‘high-horology’ such as Vacheron Constantin and Breguet have heritage stretching back to the 1700’s with over two century’s of history and the majority of swiss watch brands you recognise today including Omega, Heuer, Zenith, IWC, AP & Breitling were all founded in the 1800’s.
And in the eyes of many, heritage equals quality after all we learn from experience right? The thought that through time a brand or product matures and improves leads to the thought that older companies produce better products. But is that a fair assumption that older is better and newer lacks the experience, finesse and charm?
Founded in 1990 and located in Glashütte, there is no doubt that NOMOS is a newcomer to the watch industry. Glashütte is a small town tucked away between forests and hills, south of Berlin and near Dresden, located in the eastern Ore Mountains and home to Germanys’ master watchmakers having settled there in 1845. You may have heard of a few other brands from this rather distinguished town including Moritz Grossmann, Glashütte Original and A. Lange & Söhne to name a few.
However in a relatively short space of time, NOMOS have started to make a name for themselves delivering quality and innovation at an affordable price point. With this in mind we wanted to take a look at NOMOS to see what this young German company has to offer.
Last year NOMOS released their Club Campus – a model aimed at first time watch owners & enthusiasts and so we thought that this would be as good as any place to start. We contacted the lovely folks at NOMOS who were kind enough to send us a watch to spend some time with – so we did!
The Club Campus is available in two sizes – a 36mm and 38.5mm and each is available with either a black or white dial. The watch we chose to spend some time with is the Club Campus 38 with the white dial and open case-back reference: 737. As a matter of fact, NOMOS were kind enough to send us both the 735 (with a closed case-back) and the 737 to compare. Considering the market that NOMOS are pursuing, this does provide two very sensible options. For those who wish to commemorate a notable occasion, the steel case-back has been designed with plenty of space in the centre for an inscription – and indeed NOMOS includes a free engraving with all Club Campus’s should you wish to have an inscription. For those who wish to appreciate the movement as well, the clear case back is available and offers a view of the inside.
The box for the club campus is a slender dark ash wooden box. Opening the box reveals a small envelope containing the instruction booklet and guarantee card tucked behind an elastic retainer in the lid, and held in place in the base underneath a NOMOS cloth is the watch itself. This presentation is in itself the epitome of NOMOS – unfussy, unpretentious, minimalist and yet elegant. NOMOS haven’t spent a disproportionate on their packaging with a high lacquered wooden or leather finished presentation case that you will put to one side and never see or look at again, neither have they supplied the watch in a cheap tin or cardboard box – it’s just ‘appropriate’ – proportionate and elegant.
Taking the watch out of the box reveals its proportions. With a height of only 8.5mm this is a slender and elegant watch that’s entirely polished. The watch case and bezel are one single piece with traditional formed lugs that protrude to carry the strap. Although 38.5mm in diameter, it wears comfortably on a 7” wrist due in part to the lug to lug distance of 48.5mm. The crown is signed ‘NOMOS’ which immediately shows an attention to detail as the text is only 4mm in its entirety, however as you might expect for a dress watch it is not a screw down. However despite this it is still water resistant to 10atm/100m allowing you to comfortably swim in it without fear of harming the watch.
The Dial of the Club Campus is a feature in itself – the result of an anodised white silver plating giving the dial a beautiful metallic finish. The design of the dial is also rather unique being a ‘reverse’ California dial with arabic numerals on the top half of the dial and roman numerals on the bottom. Incidentally, a dial with only roman numerals used on the dial is traditionally referred to as a ‘Buckley’ dial and a ‘California’ dial has roman numerals on the top half of the dial and arabic numerals on the bottom. This dial is particularly well balanced with 10, 12 & 2 on the top half of the dial and IV & VIII on the bottom half with the small seconds hand in the middle. Interestingly many dials using roman numerals do so incorrectly where 4 is represented as ‘IIII’ rather than the correct roman numeral ‘IV’. The remainder of the dial indices for ‘odd’ hours are represented purely by markers. Overall this creates a beautifully balanced dial that is uncluttered yet still interesting and individual. Indices are written in a beautiful soft hue of blue with a very feint orange surround matching the colour of the small second hand.
The Club Campus is powered by the NOMOS inhouse Alpha movement. Yes that’s right it has an in house movement – whats more its’s also beautifully finished with tempered blue screws, rhodium-plated surfaces with Glashütte ribbing and NOMOS perlage. If you choose the sapphire case back, this is all on display and can be appreciated. The caseback itself is screwed down helping it achieve its 100m water resistance.
Get in close – as we have tried to do with some macro photography, and you see the attention to detail up close. This is not a movement that has had corners cut even at this price point.
Although the alpha movement was their first movement, we were rather shocked and stunned by its performance. The average deviance measured against an atomic clock was 1.2 seconds per day over the course of the time that we had the watch. That’s not just within COSC chronometer standards (-4/+6 seconds average daily rate) but also within Rolex’s ‘Superlative Chronometer’ standard (-2/+2 seconds average daily rate). This is particularly interesting as NOMOS don’t make any claims regarding the Alpha movement’s accuracy.
NOMOS supplies the Club Campus 38 on their Velour leather anthracite strap which is beautifully soft, extremely comfortable and suits the watch well. Although you wouldn’t be doing the watch justice of you didn’t also try it on a plethora of other straps as its a strap monster! It dressed up beautifully with brown and caramel leather straps to casual social events. Due to the slender proportions of the watch at only 8.5mm thick, it was an ideal watch to wear on a NATO strap. Even with the extra two layers of material behind the watch it never looked clumsy or out of place.
The second hand meant it went particularly well with a couple of straps which added a flair of colour and allowed the watch to dress down very well. Interestingly on more than one occasion someone thought the watch and strap came together clearly demonstrating their suitability.
Over the course of two weeks we wore this watch to the office with a suit, to social occasions in the evening, to a barbeque, to an evening of Shakespeare and swimming with the kids.
The NOMOS Club Campus 38 is a fabulous watch. Delivering an elegant versatile aesthetic that works as well in the ballroom with black tie as it does on the beach and everywhere in between. Worn with a suit its a clean dress watch that due to its 8.5mm height slips under any cuff, and worn with jeans and a cashmere, its anthracite velour strap looks as casual as it does smart. Although not a typical feature of dress watches, the fact that this watch is also water resistant to 100m means you are able to swim with the watch on and not be overly concerned by the poolside while topping up your tan. In the modern world this is a practical feature and its clear that NOMOS have not compromised the design of the watch in order to achieve this.
Our personal choice is the silver dial and open caseback that allows the beautiful in-house hand-wound movement to be seen and appreciated as we discovered many people wanted to enjoy the back as much as the front of the watch given the chance.
Our two extremely minor criticisms would be that the lume on the dial and hands doesn’t last long and isn’t really usable in the dark. And as this watch works so well on such a variety of watch straps we would love to see NOMOS include quick release spring bars on their straps. This is especially useful when travelling and taking a couple of extra straps for all occasions and not requiring a strap changing tool and spare spring bars in your luggage.
Its clear that NOMOS is punching above its weight with attention to detail and quality that certainly cannot be beaten at this price point if not many times higher. Although short, NOMOS is creating a heritage to be proud of as an innovator with individual style and fantastic quality. While NOMOS may not have the same experience in watchmaking as other brands from Glashütte, it’s clear that previous assumptions need to be challenged. A heritage based on time alone has not prevented NOMOS from delivering quality, finesse and charm in equal proportions, and we look forward to spending more time with NOMOS in the future!
On Wednesday this week, HODINKEE launched a limited edition Omega Speedmaster celebrating a decade of HODINKEE called the ‘H10’. While it is unsurprising that Omega would take the opportunity to produce a Limited Edition watch, the timing of the release marks the second “Limited Edition Speedmaster” Omega have released in less than 2 months (the Speedmaster Ultraman was released on the 10th of July). Omega have often fallen foul of criticism relating to the number of ‘Limited Edition’ watches they produce and releases like this further contribute to that criticism. However,with a production run of only 500 pieces, this marks one of the few releases from Omega that are not produced in the thousands despite being a Limited Edition – the Seamaster ’40 Years of James Bond’ was limited to 10,007 pieces!
The watch itself takes its proportions from the ‘2998’ at 39.7 mm with no crown guards. The bezel is aluminium just as it was on the 1960’s 2998 reference, but there the similarities end with the hands and dial having cues from a number of references. It’s powered by the classic calibre 1861 – a favourite movement for the Speedmaster. The watch is supplied with two straps, a strap changing tool, display box and travel case.
The email arrived in our inbox at 15:07 on Wednesday where HODINKEE announced it was available to order in its store. By 15:18 when we looked, there was only 1 watch left – which was gone shortly after (some 11 mins later). With a window of less than 15 mins, the vast majority of watch lovers and enthusiasts will read their email and about the launch long after it has sold out.
Probably more disheartening was the price that the watch was offered at. The HODINKEE anniversary limited edition is $6500 which is $2000 more than the regular Omega Speedmaster which is $4500 or in GBP £5069.35 verses £3440. We cant help but feel that Omega ‘s marketing strategy is look for opportunities to produce a limited edition watch and then charge over the odds for it.
We think its wonderful to honour those that have inspired us and this clearly has had a very significant influence in Ben Clymer’s life. While many of us would like to own our fathers watch, few of us would ever have the opportunity to create a timepiece in memory of our grandfather – celebrating the “watch that started it all”
While we would like to celebrate with HODINKEE their success and contribution to the watch community over the last decade which has been considerable, we feel sad that so few will have had the opportunity to know about this before all pieces were sold and that Omega hadn’t taken the opportunity of exaggerating the price given the opportunity.
You can read more about the watch, the inspiration and how it came to be here.
Almost all watches we see today are rooted in one of the five main watch types that have evolved throughout the course of the 20th Century. Today we will take a brief look at what personifies each of these historic and iconic watch types, what makes them different and the natural setting and purpose of each. Although I’ve been collecting watches for decades I often wish that i had understood this fundamental perspective before I got very lost in the world of watches.
There is little direct science in creating the boundaries between watch types and i’m sure you will find examples of watches that bridge more than one type however these are broad guidelines that can be helpful in understanding appropriate styles and help refine your decision as to what might suit you well.
The Dress Watch
The Dress watch is the most formal of watches. At its core is the ability to elegantly impart just enough information as to convey the time and nothing more. Simplicity and elegance are the name of the game here. While it is true that at the highest of occasions (white tie with royal formality) wearing a watch in itself is frowned upon as it implies you are conscious of the time rather than pleasantly lost in the occasion, for all other occasions an elegant dress watch is suitable.
The dial is traditionally simple and sparse. Often with simple hour markers if present at all or alternatively elegant script stylising the numerals. The hands are elegant and simple without any luminescence – often with only the hour and minute hands present as knowing time to the second is superfluous at formal engagements. The movement in a dress watch is usually designed to be as thin as possible supporting the overall design and implementation of the watch as a whole to be as thin as possible imparting an elegant understated look. The case is usually polished in keeping with the theme of elegance and often made from precious metals. Complications typically border on the romantic – Tourbillions and moon phases demonstrate a technical prowess and elegant flair on a dress watch although neither form ‘essential functions’ and as such impart a luxurious feel. The strap will usually continue the theme of elegance and luxury typically being made of fine leather or other animal hide like crocodile, or ostrich for example, or from precious metals. Dress watches are at home in the office, at formal or social events.
The Field Watch
The origins of the field watch are steeped in military history. Initially created by adding wire lugs to pocket watches allowing soldiers to wear them on their wrists, they had been recognised as an essential piece of equipment for soldiers, and by the second world war had become ‘standard issue’. Field watches as their name suggests are designed to be a hardy timekeeper able to withstand the rigours of wartime. Able to cope with knocks, bumps and life in a harsh environment while being easy to read. Field watches are typically a little larger than dress watches at 38mm-42mm
As form has now been surpassed for function, practicality ensues. Modern field watches are a ‘jack of all trades’, able to withstand basic water ingress (from falling in a river or swimming) with a shock protection system ensuring the movement is able to maintain good time despite being subjected to a hard life and the ability to resist the effects of magnetic fields. The dial is easy to read and often comes with 24 hour markers (a signal back to its military heritage) a date and luminous hands to aid visibility at night. The case of the field watch will be made from hardened steel and is invariably brushed or sand blasted proving a more rugged and hardy aesthetic. The winding crown will typically be larger and easier to grasp & use and the case design will incorporate more substantial (rather than elegant) lugs with which to attach the strap. The strap can be made from a number of materials ranging from leather or canvas to a steel bracelet.
Field watches are often also referred to as Explorer watches as their ruggedised construction makes them ideal for world exploration and to ensure they stand up to the rigours of harsh environments. Field watches are possibly the most universal watch at home, in the office, worn casually at social events and rugged enough to go swimming in or worn to sports events. Some field watches when paired with the right strap can be worn very effectively as dress watches – the Rolex explorer for example when paired with a leather strap passes as a very acceptable dress watch.
The Pilots Watch
Pilots watches bear a lot of similarities to field watches except they are designed to be much larger. Pilots used watches to aid in navigation as they needed an accurate time reference along with their speed to know exactly how far they had travelled and therefore where they were. Although pilots had been using watches for decades to accomplish this, wartime is an incredible catalyst to accelerate innovation. In the early 1940’s during the second world war, Germany commissioned 4 companies to produce pilots watches for the German airforce (the Luftwaffe) known as Flieger watches. Each was to produce these watches to exacting specifications and stamped with FL23883 (FL = flight, 23 = navigation, 883 = specification by the German Research Institute for Aviation). They were built with many of the same requirements including resistance to magnetic fields, shock protection, and basic water resistance. However in addition to these, the crystal must be able to withstand negative differential pressure to prevent it from being pushed off the watch due to the expansion pressure from gasses inside the watch as the aircraft climbs.
The dial of pilots watches are simple and easy to read with both hour & minute references. The hands are large usually with considerable difference in size allowing easy time reading through flight goggles and applied with luminescence aiding visibility at night. The case of a traditional pilots’ watch is very large at 55mm to allow it to be worn on the outside of a flight jacket. The case of modern pilots’ watches are typically 40mm-47mm, and finished with a brushed or sand blasted finish which eliminates light reflections and glare from the case. The strap on a pilots’ watch is typically leather or canvas. Pilots watches lend themselves well to be worn casually rather than at more formal events where an oversized watch does not pair well with black or white tie.
The Sports Watch
With the advent of the motor car, it didn’t take long until the advent of motor racing. By the 1920’s Zenith and Universal had started to produce sports chronographs but it wasn’t until the 1940’s that large scale production of them began. In 1955 as motor racing continued to grow in popularity and culture, Rolex had launched the watch that was to become the Daytona – later to be worn on the wrist of the infamous Steve McQueen in the 1971 film Le Mans cementing its place in horological history. In 1957, Omega launched the Speedmaster their take on a racing watch – later to be adopted by NASA as officially qualified for space flight. These sporting chronographs allowed the wearer to measure intervals of time through the use of an integrated stopwatch or Chronograph. Many other manufacturers made chronographs based on movements made by Venus – the 170 and 175 movements were extremely popular and were used in almost hundreds of watches by a plethora of manufacturers. Other sports watches were created to allow gentlemen to play sports while wearing them without damaging them. In 1931 for example Jaeger LeCoultre released the Reverso specifically designed for Polo players as Polo mallets and glass watch crystals were not a good combination. So the watch was designed with a housing allowing the watch to flip over thereby protecting the glass.
With the exception of the Reverso, the dials on sports watches often contain a plethora of markings supporting the measurement of time to the smallest possible unit. Hands are usually thin or skeleton and designed not to obscure the dial. The cases of modern sports watches are practical and substantial whereas older traditional sports watches were more refined and elegant where sport engagements were a ‘gentleman’s pastime’. Typically leather straps or steel bracelets are used as sports watches are not designed for heavy water use. Sports watches are most often but not always made with timing chronographs so as to be able to measure specific lengths of sporting time. Sports watches are great to be worn casually in casual, social or work environments but do not lend themselves well to the most formal of events with the possible exception of JLC’s Reverso which is more akin to a sporty dress watch.
The Divers Watch
Diving watches were made popular during the 1950s with both Blancpain and Rolex investing heavily in the creation of divers watches at the same time as the Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) was developed. Although modern divers rely on dive computers to aid in their underwater activities, dive watches were used to calculate the quantity of air remaining to a diver which carries life or death consequences. Other than the obvious requirement for a divers watch to be able to resist the pressure of water ingress up to and typically beyond a specific depth, a divers watch has a number of other key requirements including an indicator that the watch is still running, thermal shock resistance, presence of a time-preselecting device (for example a unidirectional rotating bezel) protected against inadvertent rotation or wrong manipulation, resistance to salty water and more.
The dial of a Divers watch is large and intended to be read easily while wearing a face mask. Hands are typically large and highly luminous including the second hand indicating the watch is still running. The case will often incorporate crown guards to protect the crown from damage when coming into contact with objects underwater and generally be of a substantial construction. Typically the bezel if external will rotate counter clockwise only, and if internal will have a second crown to independently operate it. The strap on a divers watch will usually be made of a highly water resistant material. Rubber straps or metal bracelets are popular which usually incorporate a wet-suit extension allowing it to be worn over the top of the increased size of a wet suit. Alternatively, canvass or cordura straps are versatile options. Divers can be worn in most circumstances dependant on the model as some brands offer divers more akin to a dress watch (the Nomos-Ahoi for example).
Understanding these types will help you choose and wear a timepiece appropriate to you, your lifestyle and the social setting you most often find yourself in. In addition, you will probably notice watches that hold true to the core principals and identity of a particular purpose make an excellent choice. Although many watches today are universally acceptable, there are times when a 55mm flieger pilots watch is inappropriate – like wise it may prove an expensive mistake wearing your dress watch in the pool!
Due to style, culture and the era they were born many people find they often find one style of watch personally appealing, however as is often the case when people start collecting watches, they find as lifestyle becomes more diverse they’d like something different for occasions their ‘daily’ watch isn’t suited.
Which watch type do most identify with and which type of watch do you own? Do get in touch and let us know in the comments.
The Hamilton khaki field mechanical (reference: H69429901) is a great example of simple, well executed design, implemented at an accessible price point. The aesthetics deliver an everyday watch with classic proportions coupled with a seemingly unbeatable value proposition including sapphire glass, drilled lugs and a Swiss movement all for £375. Indeed there’s no shortage of blogs, articles and magazines singing its praises and recommending it as unbeatable at this price. However, although the Hamilton Khaki Field mechanical represents fantastic value for money, is there a higher value proposition with its bigger brother? We take a look at the Khaki Field Auto 38mm (reference: H70455533).
Firstly lets start with the visual appeal. We found the slightly dressier aesthetics of the auto made for an extremely versatile watch. The watch had an uncanny ability to be suitable with almost any attire. The stepped dial adds a level of texture and detail without becoming fussy.
Wearing the auto with a suit highlighted its versatility. The presence of the polished bezel allowed the watch to feel classy without drawing attention to itself. The brown leather strap that Hamilton provided was an almost perfect pairing with white stiching. The leather took very little time to contour to the shape of the wrist and was extremely comfortable and the flat tang on the buckle is curved to allow the strap and buckle to sit flatter when fastened which maximised comfort. As the watch is only 11mm in height it tucks under any cuff easily and seamlessly. The auto also includes a date complication which is invaluable at work. We liked the way the date was displayed on a white background contrasting the black dial which aided readability at a glance on a smaller dial.
It also paired beautifully with jeans, brogues, oxford shirts and sweaters to transition beautifully to casual attire without looking out of place. Here the brown leather strap continued the understated theme looking good without drawing attention to itself
On the beach paired with a rubber strap it was completely at home. One of the key differences is the auto has a 100m Water resistance whereas the mechanical only has 50m. This is a huge differentiator as a 50m water resistance means it is splash/rain resistant but not suitable for swimming whereas a 100m rating means it is suitable for recreational surfing, swimming, snorkeling, sailing and water sports. This brings with it a level of comfort knowing not only can you continue to wear the watch while you’re enjoying recreational activities, but if you accidentally end up in the water you don’t need a new watch!
At the heart of the Filed Auto is Hamiltons H10 automatic caliber. This is a highly modified derivative of the ETA 2824-2 in which amongst other things, the vibrations per hour have been lowered from 4Hz to 3Hz (28,800vph to 21,600vph) as well as controversially removing the traditional regulator to make a more robust movement with less variance. The result of this fettering is that is that the watch now has an 80 hour (3 days and 8 hours) power reserve allowing you to put the watch down on a Friday evening with the confidence it will still be running on Monday. While the movement cannot be regulated and is not COSC certified, it performed admirably within a few seconds of COSC requirements. Given this, Hamilton’s decision to remove the regulator and make an even more reliable movement that will stand up to the rigours of a hectic lifestyle was a good choice. The added display caseback allows you to see the movement which is a nice touch and here you can see the H10 Rotor denoted by the presence of an ‘H’ cut into the middle of the rotor.
Overall we spent a number of weeks with the Hamilton Khaki Auto in a variety of settings and found it to be an understated, dependable, versatile watch that not only served well as a daily wearer but a compelling choice especially at this price point. The additional water resistance, presence of a date, open caseback, leather strap and a whopping 80 hour power reserve add up to a substantially higher value proposition especially when you understand the cost difference. The retail price for the Hamilton Khaki Field Auto 38mm is £390 – a mere £15 more than the mechanical and we think this delivers quite frankly an incomparable value proposition.
This takes the ‘ultimate weekend watch’ characteristics of the mechanical and ups the ante delivering an everyday watch that’s as home in the office as it is at the beach, and everywhere in between. At under £400 it represents incredible value from a Swiss manufacturer with an in-house movement.
Over the last decade, more and more watch companies are supplying rubber watch straps and with good reason. Once chunky rubber straps were the staple necessity for a divers watch, however as technology, manufacturing processes and design and all have improved, rubber is no longer the cheap offering but a practical and luxurious alternative. With the hot weather upon us, a good rubber strap can be a life saver. Unlike canvas and leather straps, rubber straps are far more resilient to wear and tear. There is an inherent amount of give in a rubber that helps maintain its comfort as your wrist expands in the heat and in addition, it’s not made of a porous material, it doesn’t absorb sweat or other liquids.
What follows is in our view the most comprehensive look at rubber straps we think anyone has ever done. We have covered a plethora of price points from cheap to expensive, silicone to Vulcanised Rubber, aftermarket and manufacturer supplied. In total we looked at 13 straps from 8 suppliers on 6 watches! Read on for what we hope is an enlightening review!
Lets start where most people do when they think of cheap rubber straps – eBay!
Availabile from: www.ebay.co.uk Price: £ various
We chose to look at a number of straps available from eBay as we are aware many may choose this route for an ‘occasional’ rubber strap. We bought a number of straps from eBay however the fit and finish were not great and even though the price was low, so was the quality. This was usually because there was no brand name behind the strap that has any reputation to lose. The straps attract dust and lint and look very cheap. Often with excess rubber not properly trimmed from the straps. While this may seem a sensible option for a very cheap watch, we would not trust these to adequately secure an important watch. While it may be possible to buy a reasonable strap from eBay, our experience is that buying an inexpensive item without having the opportunity to see and feel the product before hand leads to very unreliable results. In most cases we would return the products as not being of suitable quality or as described.
Opinion: With affordable straps available from reputable suppliers we wouldn’t recommend buying a rubber strap from eBay. The quality is very low using cheap rubber that is a lint magnet. The straps constantly look dirty and make a decent watch feel like a cheap swimming pool key on your wrist. In addition, the price gap between these and Barton’s Elite Silicone is marginal while the difference in quality is staggering.
We have some experience with Barton’s canvas and leather straps so we were excited to try their silicone elite straps. These straps incorporate a number of surprising design features. Each is available as a bi-colour combination adding a flair of contrasting or complementing colour to your watch. It comes with a quality brushed stainless steel 316L buckle, and is fitted with quick release spring bars making it a breeze to change the straps. The shoulders of the straps are curved to help the rubber conform to the shape of your wrist – meaning the strap never feels tight while ensuring a snug fit, and it tapers from the lugs to the buckle. Each strap is supplied as standard with two lengths to ensure a good fit, with two floating keepers on the buckle length. Interestingly one keeper has a hidden tooth on the underside which locks into the end of the strap once on your wrist and wont move unintentionally. The silicone used is a “high tensile” silicone with a matt finish (rather than a traditional silicone) with a textured top which feels nicely tactile and overall the strap feels a much higher quality than you would expect given the price.
Opinion: We cannot recommend these enough. While these straps my not be a permanent replacement for a luxury strap on an expensive watch, they are perfect ‘additional’ straps for the hot weather or when you might get your watch wet. We would recommend adding these to your collection and keeping with you as ‘travel straps’ when you’re away from home and for the summer months.
Crafterblue Curved End Rubber Strap for TUDOR BLACK BAY Series (TD01)
Crafterblue’s strap clearly punches above its weight and is available for a range of Seiko divers watches as well as the Tudor Black Bay – each with a custom fit to conform to the lugs and barrel of the watch. The fit and finish of the blocked integration is superb and the dual colour is a nice touch. The buckle has been well designed using a flat tang that will not tear the rubber and includes two kinks to ensure the strap sits properly despite its thickness. It comes with a single floating metal keeper stamped with “Professional” that really adds to the premium feel of the strap. One interesting element that sets apart the Crafterblue strap is that it has been infused with vanilla essence. It is extremely subtle however it does mean that if you are particularly sweaty in the summer, your wrist wont smell like a gorilla’s armpit! If you were to go diving with your watch, this strap is clearly substantial enough to stand up to the rigours of wet suits, open water and the perils that lay beneath.
Opinion: CrafterBlue’s rubber strap is a good choice. Some will find the thickness of the strap lacks the finesse of more expensive straps, while others will feel the rugged aesthetics perfectly accompany a divers watch. We believe the quality and finish of the Crafterblue are great at this price point.
Vanguard Speciality Straps – Tudor Black Bay Fitted Rubber Strap
Vanguard are a relatively new company offering block integration straps for the Tudor Black bay. The strap is supplied with an inexpensive tang buckle so it can be worn traditionally as a conventional strap, however it has been designed to be fitted to Tudors ‘deployant’ clasp if you have one (this only comes on Tudors that are bought with a leather strap). This does provide a flexible option if you have and appreciate the benefits of a deployant clasp. The silicone has a matt finish and felt similar to the Barton Silicone Elite strap. Vanguard offer these straps exclusively for the Black bay and their current range includes Red, black and blue variants.
Opinion: These straps offer a more elegant aesthetic than the Crafterblue with a softer silicone rubber. Although the Vanguard straps didn’t match the quality of the Everest or RubberB straps it is half the price which represents good value. The buckle was the one area of weakness as we felt it let the strap down not being of commensurate quality.
Vanguard are in the process of substantially improving their strap and have been keen for feedback. As a consequence they are switching to a more premium rubber paired with a forged buckle. Vanguard are keen to share this with us as soon as its ready and when they do we will share the results of their hard work with you.
The Everest strap is clearly very well made. Its made from Vulcanised rubber which has distinctly different finish and feel to it than silicone rubber. This particular vulcanised rubber is extremely supple and very pliable allowing it to bend and flex comfortably to your wrist. The block integration is flawless and fitted our two Black bays perfectly. They have included a solid structure in the top of the strap to ensure the fitting remains rigid and installing and removing the strap is easy given the slot they have left. The strap tapers beautifully from the shoulders to the tip and Everest have included two keepers. Both are essentially ‘floating’ keepers that can move the length of the strap, however notches close to the buckle will allow one to remain as an initial keeper preventing it from moving without intent. Everest include an extremely well-engineered buckle. This appears to have been milled out of a single piece of steel and then brushed beautifully. It is very substantial and in keeping with the quality of the watch that the strap is intended to be fitted to. Closer inspection reveals the attention to detail for the design. The holes for the tang buckle are all at an angle and allow the strap to be secured without fear of tearing the rubber over time. The underside has a channel the length of the strap allowing sweat and moisture to escape.
The RubberB strap is unlike most others on the market. The Vulcanised rubber texture of the strap has a more matt finish and doesn’t have a ‘sheen’ like others. It is extremely slender with a profile much like a fine leather strap rather than a traditional chunky rubber strap, and is extremely pliable & soft. It has been designed to integrate with the Tudor deployant buckle and once connected you would be forgiven for thinking that it is an OEM strap supplied and fitted by Tudor. The Block integration at the top is perfect and completes the look of the strap. As a premium rubber strap it complements the watch’s aesthetics and had a superb premium feel to it. This has the quality and comfort to wear all year round. One of RubberB’s options is a Dual colour strap. This provides a subtle contrast to a pure black strap and if chosen correctly, will accentuate the colour of the watch it’s paired with. This is definitely a strap that you can wear all year round as your only strap on the watch without compromising the look or feel.
Opinion: A fantastic strap whose quality, fit and finish match the watch it is attached to. This can comfortably replace your steel bracelet or leather strap as your only strap to be worn all year round, and should last a long time if cared for properly. We have selected this strap for a long term review and will be writing about this later in the year.
Bremont provide a rubber strap as a second strap with a number of their watches so this becomes a good option during the summer months. Bremont has designed the strap to take on the form of a traditional blue leather strap with a padded centre spine which allows the strap to not stand out as a rubber strap. The ends of the strap are curved in keeping with Bremont’s leather straps. This allows the strap to maintain its snug fitting to the watch without rubbing on the knurled barrel of the watch and thereby wearing down the surface. The strap comes supplied with a pair of custom curved 22mm spring bars fitted to it which helpfully means the spring bars don’t easily get lost as they take some effort to extract form the strap. Its made of a substantial rubber, and takes Bremont’s traditional milled tang buckle. The only negative observation is that because this strap is not a block integrated strap it can feel like its squeezing your wrist when it’s fastened snugly, however this should pass in time with wear.
Opinion: A classy rubber strap that goes below the radar with the classic aesthetics of a leather strap. We favour watch brands who thoughtfully supply alternative straps with their watches and to this end Bremont have provided an excellent strap.
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean OEM Rubber strap.
Available from: Omega dealers Price: £185 (+ £185)
Omega’s rubber strap for the Seamaster Planet Ocean is quite unusual. It is made of soft, and supple high quality rubber with full ‘block integration’ at the lugs which provides a very clean look. The exterior surface although made of rubber, has the feel and texture of leather. This is further enhanced by stitching down each side in the same manner as most leather straps. The strap uses an Omega deployant clasp and incidentally cannot be used with a ‘tang’ type buckle. When closed and on your wrist, it maintains its clean lines as the excess rubber is tucked inside rather than outside requiring an additional keeper. The deployant clasp means its very quick to put the watch on and you’re extremely unlikely to drop the watch when undoing the strap as it will still hang loosely round your wrist.
Over the course of the review, most people were very surprised to learn that this was a rubber strap and all had assumed it was leather. This provides the durability of rubber with the visual aesthetics of leather meaning you can wear it comfortably at work and on occasions where smarter attire is appropriate. At £185 its not cheap but it is very good quality. It is a great choice if you are buying on a watch as invariably this is the same or cheaper as buying an Omega on a metal bracelet. However this may become an expensive option if you are buying this for an existing watch as you will need to additionally purchase the deployant clasp at an additional £185.
Opinion: An Omega rubber strap can easily be chosen as an alternative to a leather or steel bracelet to wear all year round. Its fantastic quality and comfort are a perfect accompaniment to an expensive watch.
While its very clear that you get what you pay for, there are a variety of options at different price points allowing you to get a good quality comfortable rubber strap to tackle the heat & humidity and add a little style while you’re at it. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality and comfort of Barton Watch Bands’s Elite straps who proved that a decent rubber strap is within the reach of everyone.
The blocked integration straps offered a great level of comfort as the fixed ends ensure the rubber curves nicely round your wrist rather than ‘clamping’ it between stiff rubber.
While the RubberB strap was the most expensive, we can see why. Everything from the type of vulcanised rubber to the proportions of the strap showed that a considerable quantity of time and effort has been spent finessing and perfecting this strap.
If you’re looking at getting a rubber strap and can afford it, the Everest & RubberB are simply the best. Both are supremely comfortable, built exceptionally & fit perfectly.
Over the years I have had many interesting conversations with people who extoll the virtues of NATO straps, however its amazing how many people simple regurgitate what they have been told. While its true that by the inherent design of a NATO strap it secures the watch by passing a single piece of material through both spring bars, the additional piece of material behind it is simply not necessary and serves no useful purpose on a modern watch.
The idea of a NATO is that in the event of a single spring bar failure, the whole watch doesn’t fall of your wrist but the strap remains attached to your arm, and the watch head will still be there attached by the remaining single spring bar – and while this is not ideal, it means you haven’t damaged your watch by if falling off your wrist or worse still lost it entirely while swimming in a river or ocean.
However, the additional piece of material and added keeper was not designed for modern watches – it was designed for very old fashioned lugs that were curved much more than modern watches and allowed a leather single piece strap to pass through them the lugs without having to be ‘kinked’. If you were to pick up this kind of strap by the buckle, the watch would simply slide off the end of the strap – therefore by adding an additional piece of material and keeper, behind, the watch head would remain securely in place until the owner intentionally removed the strap.
However, this original design has remained a staple feature of the trusty NATO strap and has two rather undesirable consequences on a modern watch. As there are now two additional pieces of material behind the watch lifting it further away from your wrist, the fit and visual aesthetics mean it now looks much more bulky and clumsy than it would with a fitted strap. This is further confounded by the fact that there is limited adjustment on a NATO as to where the watch head sits, so although the buckle is hopefully on the underside of your wrist, the stitched in keepers are on one side of your wrist, and the other additional keeper is on the other side.
Tudor’s answer to this problem was to design and build a fabric strap that is a hybrid with two clever elements. It is a single piece of material with holes integrated into the material for the spring bars to slide through. Additionally, Tudor use a buckle with a sliding adjustment. This allows you to move the buckle along the strap for fine adjustment ensuring it sits comfortably on the underside of your wrist. This means Tudor’s watches sit closer to your wrist, are extremely comfortable, and look like the strap was designed for the watch rather than an afterthought.
However, although Tudor’s solution to the problem is elegant, there is a much simpler solution – make a simpler NATO strap. By making a NATO strap that does not include the second piece of material, you can position the watch head anywhere on the strap ensuring the buckle is located on the underside of your wrist no matter how large or small your wrist, and with much cleaner aesthetics the watch sits closer to your wrist and looks smarter without buckles and keepers on the sides. In addition it is simpler to make, has less materials and would cost less – so everyone wins!
We’ve modified a NATO strap to see the difference and its really transformative! its comfy without compromise. Take a look to see for yourself:
We would love strap manufacturers to start making simple NATO straps and from our discussions with friends in writing this article – they would too! What’s your view? Do you wear NATO straps? Do drop us a line and let us know what you think!
Chances are if you were looking to buy a chronograph, you would probably choose one of three chronographs. These three watches are the most iconic, most famous and easily recognised chronographs in the world. That’s not to say that there aren’t other hugely iconic or famous chronographs, but put simply they are not in this league. Let me introduce you to the “Chrono-trinity”. The Rolex Daytona, the Breitling Navitimer, and the Omega Speedmaster. Each with its own unique heritage, these are the worlds most desirable chronographs.
In October last year the watch world went slightly crazy as Paul Newman’s own Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ‘Paul Newman’ came up for auction with Philips and sold for a record breaking $17.75m. Making this watch arguably the most desirable watch in the world. The Daytona’s fame was solidified by the romance and ownership of the watch by Paul Newman, who was photographed for an Italian magazine wearing the watch and subsequently its popularity rose exponentially. A talented and celebrated actor but also an avid motorsports enthusiast, political activist, and generous philanthropist, Paul Newman was in the public eye and and extremely fashionable man who many looked up to. Paul’s wife Joanne bought him the watch and had the back engraved “Drive very slowly Joanne”. So if you were looking for a chronograph, a Rolex Daytona would be as good as any place to start, however since the starting price of a new Daytona is over £9000 it is expensive, and pre-owned Daytona’s hold their value very well. “Paul Newman” Daytona’s are worth many, many times more.
In the 1940s, Breitling added a circular slide rule to the bezel of their chronograph models for use by aircraft pilots, and this became the famous Navitimer model. This allowed pilots to perform time/speed/distance calculations for navigation purposes and became an essential instrument. As a pilots watch these were big at 47mm allowing them to be read and used on the outside of pilots jackets. In 1961, Scott Carpenter, one of the original astronauts in the Mercury space program, approached Breitling with the idea of incorporating a 24-hour dial instead of the normal 12-hour dial. This was needed because of the lack of day and night during space travel. Breitling complied, and produced the 24-hour Navitimer which Carpenter wore on his 1962 space flight. Breitling then proceeded to produce the 24-hour version as the so-called Cosmonaute Navitimer. Although the Navitimer is significantly cheaper than the Rolex Daytona, it is still a significantly expensive watch. The 24 hour Cosmonaute Navitimer takes quite a bit of getting used to and is not a popular watch these days, however Breitling have continued to manufacture the Navitimer as one of the most popular icons in its range. Traditionally the Navitimer was powered by the Valjoux 7750, however Breitling now offer it with their latest B01 in-house chronograph movement.
The Omega Speedmaster – the one thats traditionally associated with space, is arguably the most iconic of the three and also the most financially accessible. This watch (very much like the Daytona) was a racing chronograph originally and only through NASA looking to find a watch that would serve their astronauts well in space did the Speedmaster become synonymous with space, creating the heritage it has today. Its heritage was further solidified by its use on Apollo 13 when it was used to time a precise burn of 4 mins 24 seconds to get the module on the right trajectory to get home. Interestingly the Speedmaster unlike the Daytona and the Navitimer is a manually wound watch not an automatic. While there have clearly been a number of variants and derivatives of both the Rolex Daytona and the Breitling Navitimer, none can compare to the quantity of models and special editions that Omega have released over the years – the number is quite staggering!
So each watch has its own unique heritage cementing its place in history and the hearts and minds of collectors.
The danger is that they are the obvious or lazy choices for a chronograph. They are typically bought by two groups. The first group are ordinary people who have come into some money and have decided they want a decentwatch and that they don’t want to buy a Rolex Submariner. So they these three provide an alternative at different price points. The second group are watch collectors who for some reason need to ‘tick a box’. They have to have a particularly famous or iconic piece. If you watch interviews with watch collectors you will hear them even use language like this “…. and of course I have the speedmaster……” its as if its a necessary thing for any serious watch appreciator or collector to have to do if they are to be taken seriously and that to me is ridiculous, because you’re buying a watch and adding it to your collection not because you actually like the watch or that it suits you, but because your collection wouldn’t be complete without it.
There is however a third group of people who buy these watches. Those who have admired for considerable time the visual aesthetics of one of these, and after trying on a number have bought one because it suits them & their personality, style, attire and they wear it on a regular basis & wouldn’t be without it. To those I give you my respect for this is the only reason you should buy one and to you I say: enjoy your timepiece!
For the rest who are tempted to buy one because they feel they need to, please dont. You will regret it as with all purchases, if your heart is not in it you will end up selling it at a later date or worse, never admit it to yourself and after having spent considerable money on it will be constantly defending the purchase to people who never see you wear it. Instead, there is a whole wealth of other chronographs that have been made over the last 80 years or so that offer so much. Take your time, investigate and find a piece that really suits you, and you will love it for years to come.
So what are your thoughts? Are you saving to buy one or have you bought one? what’s your experience of owning it been? We’d love to hear from you.
It never ceases to amaze me how much anticipation, excitement and then outcry follow an Omega release.
A year ago in recognition and celebration of the huge community of watch enthusiasts dedicating a specific day of the week to their beloved Omega Speedmaster, Omega launched the Speedmaster “SpeedyTuesday”. This was Omegas response to a conversation with Robert-Jan Broer the founder of Fratello watches who asked Omega to do something special and “not a cap or a T-shirt or a pen or a button..”. So omega agreed produced the ‘SpeedyTuesday’ watch.
The release went public on their website and their Instragram page and as Omega chose to release 2012 watches – the year ‘#SpeedyTuesday’ started, and these sold out in hours.
However Omega are renown for producing limited edition watches. Quite probably more so than any other brand in the industry. The limited editions of just the Speedmaster’s alone borders on the ridiculous. Here are just some…
the First Omega in Space, aka ‘FOIS’
the Moon Watch 42mm – celebrating, 40 years since Apollo 15
The Moon watch 40mm –
Omega Speedmaster Apollo
Omega Speedmaster 2998
Omega Speedmaster snoopy
Omega Speedmaster missions (22 separate mission watches available individually or in a combined case)
Omega Speedmaster ’57
However its not just the number of ‘limited editions’ that Omega have produced, but also the production run that really is not that limited. Take for example the 2008 Omega Seamaster Professional Bond watch (ref:188.8.131.52.01.001) of which Omega only made 10,007 watches as a limited edition. yes you did read that correctly, ten thousand and seven watches as a ‘Limited Edition’. In comparison Panerai’s typical yearly quota for models in their Luminor range are about 6500 watches.
So it was nice that Omega released the initial SpeedyTuesday in a relatively low numbers however as a consequence many were left wanting as this was a very popular watch.
Following on from last years initial “SpeedyTuesday” release Omega have this year produced another watch under the same label.
OMEGA’s 1967 “Moonwatch” has been a hit with collectors ever since it appeared in the Japanese TV show “RETURN OF ULTRAMAN.” Now, that popular chronograph has been reborn – in the form of an exclusive #SpeedyTuesday model that is limited to just 2,012 piecesOmega
On Tuesday 11th July, Omega announced via its website and Instagram the new #SpeedyTuesday Limited Edition “Ultraman” Ref:3184.108.40.206.01.001. The watch would be produced with the same production volume as the last – some 2012 watches in total and would come with its own special presentation case. Other details include a hesalite crystal, colour coded NATO, and a UV light on the end of the strap changer which when used on the dial reveals a silhouette of Ultraman’s face on the 9 o’clock subdial. Incidentally, the strap changer itself is shaped like Ultraman’s Beta Capsule
Although the watch is unavailable until mid-august, customers could make a reservation for the watch through their website and this year due to high anticipation that Omega were about to release another special edition, collectors were ready and poised on Tuesday morning to ensure they were able to acquire it. As a consequence, all the watches were reserved in exactly 1 hour, 53 minutes, and 17 seconds according to Omega!
And so follows the outcry. By the way in which Omega chooses to release these special edition watches, it provides no warning to collectors or consumers and massively disadvantages whole communities. In this instance all watches had gone before anyone in America had even heard about it. Furthermore Omega’s online reservation system kept crashing and provided wildly inconsistent results at times reporting it was “under maintenance”. Users on social media were reporting that they had tried multiple times to make a reservation only to find the system crashed at the confirmation stage with on screen buttons not working to accept confirmation.
Here is just a small excerpt from Instagram of the outcry to Omega..
Good job Omega! Had numbers 173, 1525 and 13XX reserved and couldn’t finish the reservation for any of them. How about a proper system for events like this 😡😡😡😡 j_sillanpaa
I collect omega watches and it is an absolute shame for such a successful watch company to not be able to spend the right money on a System that doesn’t crash every two second. Not me more anyone I spoke to could reserve one watch from the second it was launched. I’m extremely upset and hope omega will do something about it bisno10
@omega How about a reservation system that works? I had 3 watches at separate periods but reached the confirmation and the system flunked out. I couldn’t click your button! Really disappointed! mkcperspective
@mkcperspective same here. I actually got the confirmation email and confirmed within minutes only to get rejected anyway. Very annoying and waste of timecarmistine
@carmistine Best part… As a US/Canada West Coast. I waited until 3:00 AM, got my exact number, only to have a system error. I humbly accept if I lost out because I was late to the party but I wasn’t. I had 3 chances and the system failed 3 times. Not a fun experience if the confirmation button doesn’t work. @omega mkcperspective
Omg. I assume the wait list is worthless. Please release the next one at a reasonable hour for those in North America… watchfoodie
System kept crashing everytime I tried to confirm the reservation , @omega 😠 Not once but thrice. What’s with that 5min time limit anyways? kevinw73
I hate you guys for not producing more! I had no.1192 booked. And I was filling out the info and I kept clicking on confirm info but it didn’t work! The timer ran out and I ended up losing the watch!! mutawapawa
@omega the site in the bio is not working and says its under maintenance!!! ahmadb007
not fair @omega . your site won’t let me go through the confirmation page. got a preferred number and was very close to making a reservation. baynte_nwebe
Had a number, then site went unresponsive and timed out 😭watchanson
I filled in the info and suddenly it wasn’t available anymore… how can you reserve one? roy_hgvlt
For such a large company it is disappointing and unnecessary for customers to endure this kind experience. Omega have a huge and loyal fanbase and this is not how you treat customers. I would love to see a formal response from Omega to its loyal fans, but for now in the absence of being able to actually order the watch from Omega, all we will be able to enjoy are the press pictures.
…..or “why no one needs a helium release valve but everyone has one!”
If you’ve been reading articles in the watch world for a year or more it’s likely that you will have come across at least one article discussing the presence of helium release valves in modern watches. What most of those articles will quite rightly explain is that you simply don’t need one as most divers don’t dive with their watches – mainly because they now use dive computers, and for those who do, less than 1% are ‘saturation divers’ (the type of diving where a build up of helium on a watch is possible and likely). However what I’m going to explain is why they don’t need one either!
Firstly let’s cover the basics of what it is for and why a divers watch might need one.
When divers operate at great depths, they either live in a hyperbaric environment on the surface, or an ambient pressure underwater habitat. In order to counter the effects of nitrogen in the air breathed by the divers, the nitrogen is largely replaced by helium. And the pressure in these habitats is typically higher than sea level atmospheric pressure. Since helium atoms are the smallest natural gas particles found in nature, these gas atoms are able to work their way inside the watch, around any o-rings or other seals the watch may feature. So the helium is driven in by the more extreme pressure of the environment that they are living in (in a dry environment). Once there is a build up of helium is inside the watch, a drop in the outside pressure will mean the helium will want to escape to equalise the pressure. And without an ‘exit route’ it will force its way out usually popping off the crystal or damaging the watches seals elsewhere.
To counter this effect, manufacturers spent a considerable investment designing watches capable of dealing with helium and they do this in two different ways. Omega’s initial approach was to make the watch so impervious to helium getting in, that it didn’t have to worry about it getting out. This was the Omega Seamaster Ploprof. A watch case designed and made out of a single piece of metal with no opening case back. This was technically difficult to achieve as the entire movement had to be inserted through the front of the watch before the crystal was inserted. This was very effective but somewhat akin to wearing a cast iron safe on your wrist. Other manufacturers (including Omega in later years) chose to create helium release valves to safely allow the helium to escape as a more elegant solution.
There are two types of helium release valves created and used by watch manufacturers. Automatic and manual (no surprise here!) Automatic valves that operate a one way valve through a gasket held in place under tension from a taut spring (as used by Breitling and Rolex) . Alternatively, manual helium release valves usually resemble a second crown that the user unscrews to allow the valve to activate.
So why does a user need to unscrew the helium release valve? Well because in its open state, it’s not watertight, and would allow the ingress of water into the watch. In fact Omega specifically warns users to make sure the helium release valve is properly closed before entering the water to avoid water damage to the watch.
So to clarify, Omega (and many other manufacturers) have placed a helium release valve on a watch that can only be operated in a dry habitat to allow helium out of the watch. In addition this is only and quite specifically for what is known as saturation diving, and in no way improves the depth a divers watch can go in the water.
And this is the reason you don’t need one ladies and gentlemen: if you look carefully at your divers watch you will find you already have a watertight screw down crown used for setting the time. Merely unwind this crown to the first position when you would want to operate your helium release valve (thereby opening the gaskets) and your watch will beautifully stabilise it’s pressure without the crystal popping off or causing any damage your watch. Operating this crown in exactly the same manner as omega describe the operation of their helium release valve will achieve exactly the same results, and as you are operating it in a dry environment, there is no risk of water ingress.
This week I had the privilege of being invited to an Oris VIP evening where I had the opportunity to meet with their Chairman Urlich Herzog. I must admit that until very recently, Oris was not a company that I knew much about so this was a great opportunity to dispel myths, learn about the brand, and spend a little time in good company with some beautiful and somewhat unusual timepieces.
Ulrich is not your typical Chairman. He’s warm, friendly and approachable, and certainly not what you think of as a typical “chairman of the board” but then again he’s not come from that corporate culture. You see, unlike many Swiss watch manufacturers, Oris is still a privately owned business and one of the few remaining Swiss watch manufacturers that maintains its independence and is not subject to the influences of a parent group. And to this extent Ulrich leads the brand much like a father leading a family. What is utterly apparent is that he has a personal passion for the company, the brand, it’s history and it’s place in Swiss watch making.
Founded in 1904, the company became the largest employer in Hölstein where it was founded. In 1925 it began to fit bracelet buckles to pocket watches making them its first wristwatches. In 1927 George’s Christian (ORIS co founder) dies and Jacques-David LeCoultre becomes president, who later will go on to found Jaeger-LeCoultre. A year later Oscar Herzog (Georges Christian’s brother in law) takes over as general manager and remains there for 43 years. In 1970 ORIS became part of what will become the Swatch group and barely survived the “quartz crisis”. With ORIS in decline, in 1982 Ulrich Herzog together we Dr Rolf Portmann lead a successful management buy out of ORIS restoring its independence electing to abandon quartz and leaning on its heritage, produce only mechanical timepieces. For the last 36 years like his ancestor, Ulrich Herzog has led ORIS as a father figure.
This leads me to Oris’s more recent innovations. In 2013 ORIS created a dive watch with an integrated depth gauge. A special crystal with an integrated channel was created allowing water to enter a chamber under pressure and therefore mechanically indicating depth. This was integrated into the face of the watch without compromising the primary water resistance. An innovative approach by all means.
In 2014 for the celebration of their 110th anniversary, they announced a new in house manually wound movement combining a 10 day power reserve with a power reserve indicator. Creating a watch with a 10 day power reserve is by no means easy. Considering that most watch manufacturers measure the power reserve in hours – typically 38-42 hours for most mechanical watches and a few delivering 70 hours (Tudor & Rolex), this equates to 240 hours. What’s more – recent innovations in movements able to deliver extended power reserves from other manufacturers have done so using twin barrels – where energy is stored and released using two separate springs connected through gears. ORIS on the other hand have accompanied this remarkable feat using a single barrel. This saves valuable space in the movement.
It has always amazed me that manufacturers have added a power reserve indicator to an automatic movement as this seems a somewhat superfluous endeavour, as the watch will never run out of power while you’re wearing it. There is admittedly a small truth that a watch will be more accurate when it’s fully wound but it’s a trivial matter to wind and set an automatic and as long as it is worn, the movement will be constantly ‘topped up’.
However a power reserve indicator on a manual wind watch is the perfect complication for two reasons. First the obvious – it shows how long the watch will run before needing to be wound. Allowing the wearer to wind when necessary, keeping the watch in motion and not running out. However more importantly, automatic watches have a clutch mechanism that ensures no matter how much movement is exerted on the rotor, it cannot overwind and damage the movement. A manual movement does not have this and so it is very important the movement is not overwound, damaging the watch. So the presence of a reserve indicator on a manual movement is is clearly the most beneficial complication to have.
Building on the foundations of this movement ORIS have continued to iterate and expand their movement range adding a date, second time zones, a moon phase, and more. With all of this innovation in house, most brands would command a price far in excess of ORIS’s proposition. However as we have seen, ORIS does not follow traditional corporate culture and it’s philosophy of real watches for real people prevails, keeping Swiss watch innovation affordable.