martes, 30 de octubre de 2012

Breitling Avenger Seawolf Code Yellow Watch

This is an exclusive first look at a new Breitling limited edition version of the Avenger Seawolf dive-style watch called the Avenger Seawolf Code Yellow. There isn't too much different here compared to the standard Avenger Seawolf aside from the black-coated steel case and yellow accents, but the design certainly his a sweet spot mixing military style with serious diver functionality. Breitling watch lovers will also recognize that the Avenger Seawolf Code Yellow is a modern three-hand version of the popular older limited edition Breitling Super Avenger Blacksteel Chronograph watch (pictured below).

The Breitling Avenger Seawolf Code Yellow is 45mm wide and is water resistant to 3,000 meters. Not that you'll ever need to dive that deep, but Breitling likes to give you the option (but even James Bond won't be going anywhere close to that depth without being in a machine). This style of watch is quite different than that majority of highly polished steel Breitling watches that you typically see. The all brushed, all black case has a tactical look that when combined with the stencil-style numerals gives the watch a very military/special ops feel. Breitling throws in a hint of yellow for needed style. The design is very satisfying as a fashion or functional object.

As a diver the Avenger Seawolf has a rotating diver's bezel and lots of lume on the hands and hour markers. The dial is extremely easy to read, but fully detailed with markings. Breitling calls the dial color "Volcano Black." Inside the watch is Breitling's caliber 17 movement which is a high-grade decorated and polished Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic that is regulated and has been COSC Chronometer certified.

The Breitling Avenger Seawolf Code Yellow watch is available with two rubber strap options. First is the popular Breitling Diver Pro II strap with a buckle, and second is the Ocean Racer strap with deployant clasp. The latter is has little portholes and is going to be more desirable as it comes with the fantastic deployant - both again are rubber. Breitling will produce 1,000 pieces of the limited edition Avenger Seawolf Code Yellow Watch with a price of $4,720 on the Diver Pro II strap or $5,420 on the Ocean Racer strap.

Tech Specs from Breitling:

•Breitling Caliber 17 Movement
•Chronometer-certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC)
•Self-winding movement
•Screw-locked crown
•Glare proofed on both sides
•Volcano black dial, black steel case
•1,000 piece-produced limited series
•Diameter: 45 mm
•Water resistant to 3,000 meters
•High-frequency (28,800 vibrations per hour)
•25 Jewels
•Unidirectional ratcheted rotating bezel
•Cambered sapphire crystal

lunes, 29 de octubre de 2012

Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantieme Watch Review

The Grande Seconde dial made the modern Jaquet Droz watch brand famous. Taken from an interesting 18th century pocket watch with a lovely figure eight style dial, the Grande Seconde wristwatch dial was not only visually appealing, but also resonated well with the Chinese consumer who has a penchant for the number "8." Today, the Grande Seconde dial is basically synonymous with the aged brand - even though the figure eight style dial was not a big part of the brand's true history.

To be honest, making modern Jaquet Droz watches that are visually and thematically similar to the exploits of the man himself would be next to impossible given today's tastes and budgets. With Mr. Droz himself having a fondness for the extremely ornate and complex (see the original Jaquet Droz "The Writer" automaton here), it would not make a ton of sense today to put a hand-painted and engraved watch with automatons into any type of volume production. While Jaquet Droz can do stuff like that once in a while, the modern brand has the difficult task of recalling the past while creating a modern DNA.

For most of its just over ten year lifespan, the Grande Seconde watch was a rather decadent, high-end luxury item available exclusively in precious metals. This Grande Seconde Quantieme is the first family of pieces in the Grande Seconde collection to be available in a "more" modestly priced steel case. That, and you get the date (indicated by the fancy sounding French word for calender, "quantieme.")

The resulting Grande Seconde Quantieme is more than just another model, but is a strategic product designed to help expand the Jaquet Droz market in times when people are less likely to shell out for gold-cased watches. Instead of reducing prices or quality, Jaquet Droz - the "most" boutique of the Swatch Group brands - decided to go with the "steel strategy." One major aim they have is the United States, and expanding their market here.

At 43mm wide the Grande Seconde Quantieme is sized for American formal watch tastes. I would never call it an "ultra-thin" watch, but not being that thick it could easily go with a tie given the overall theme of the watch. The steel case is polished all over and pleasantly simple in design. Smooth elegant lines typify the Grande Seconde collection which always tend to look fantastic in cleaned-up marketing images. Of course, this "simple" concept is in direct contrast to the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde SW watch's complex design concept (reviewed here). At least the brand knows how to play around with their own DNA.

Literally the most complex element of the case is the crown, which is nicely designed with the double star logo of the brand. I believe that the watch has three dial options, with this one being the black "technical dial." There is also an "all black technical dial" as well as a more classic looking silvery dial. The latter being my favorite, but this technical dial is interesting. It actually costs a couple hundred dollars more than the silver dial. What is a technical dial? Here is how Jaquet Droz describes it:

"[The technical dial] process involves crafting all of the dial components from solid metal, then dipping them in a chemical bath to obtain a perfect black coating. This extremely painstaking operation brings out the beauty of the indicators, which can have a fine-brushed finish, creating a unique interplay of light and textures."

Under close inspection the technical dial is interesting and certainly unique. It however can make the dial harder to read than some of the other more legible Grande Seconde dials. This is of course amplified by the fact that the subdial with the hour and minute hands is rather small. I personally prefer a bit more contrast when trying to read a dial such as this. The dial also uses a raised sapphire crystal that does have some AR coating, but given the nature of the crystal's shape, gives a fair amount of glare. Let me actually say right now that you are lucky if you never need to photograph this watch because getting a decent dial picture is very difficult.

As the name of the watch implies, the lower, larger subsdial is for the seconds. It is sort of cool having that dial be larger with the always sweeping subsidiary seconds hand. Integrated into that dial is also a date dial and hand. The date hand is made to be visually separate by having a red tip, and the dial, which although small, does have a full scale of either numerals or points to indicate the date. This feature is actually rather controversial. Some people say "we like the basic Grande Seconde dial without the date so much better," while others appreciate the addition of the useful complication. Personally I sit in the middle - having an appreciation for the original clean Grande Seconde dial look, but always feeling better with a watch that has the date.

Attached to the case is a very attractive looking black alligator strap. It is however thick and needs to be worn-in for it to sit properly without being stiff. The folding and locking deployant clasp is of a higher quality and complexity than you might expect. Inside the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantieme watch is their caliber 2660Q2 automatic movement with an almost three day power reserve. It is actually a base Frederic Piguet caliber 1150 (produced by the Swatch Group as well), which is at the heart of most all Jaquet Droz timepieces. You can see the movement visible through the sapphire exhibition caseback. It is not only a good movement but it is also well-finished.

Is this steel Jaquet Droz less expensive than its precious metal siblings? Yes, but it is still a pricy timepiece hovering around $10,000. Those intent on wearing the design will enjoy this option, as well as people like me who have an extreme fascination with the brand's history. They make some very quirky stuff, but that is not something you can say about many "group" watch brands. What I would like to see next are most of the Grande Seconde watches in steel and observe how the market responds. Retail price for the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantieme reference J007030241 watch is

domingo, 28 de octubre de 2012

Tsovet SVT-GR44 Limited Edition Watch

Fans of the Chip Ganassi Racing Teams will now have a new way of showing their allegiance via the limited edition Tsovet SVT-GR44 chronograph. This sporty 44mm automatic chronograph is being produced to commemorate the 145 wins that the various Chip Ganassi teams have claimed between 1994 and 2011. With teams running in Nascar, IndyCar, and Grand AM series racing, Chip Ganassi represents a very successful American racing institution. Tsovet is a Los Angeles based brand which launched in 2008 and has become known for their gauge-like styling and punchy wrist-presence. I find their look to be somewhere in the overlap between Bell & Ross, Hamilton and U-Boat and appreciate that they offer both mechanical and quartz timepieces which all feature Swiss-sourced movements.

The Tsovet SVT-GR44 is limited to 51 units and will come in a wooden display case and include a specially produced book covering the many successes of the Chip Ganassi teams. Sporting a 44mm stainless steel case with a gunmetal finish, the SVT-GR44 is predictably powered by the ETA 7750 offering a maximum 12 hour measure with 30 minute and main seconds resolutions. The dial design is clean and legible with large Hamilton-style numerals and a white-on-red day and date window to match with the red start/pause chronograph pusher. As far as race-inspired chronographs go, I really like this one. The subtle steel-blue coloring of the hands and numerals looks great against the gun metal finish of the case. I appreciate that Tsovet has resisted the urge to decorate the dial with logos or direct mention of the Chip Ganassi racing team, opting instead for a less cluttered dial layout which speaks for itself with contrasting colors and crisp text.

Previous to reading up on the SVT-GR44, I had never heard of Chip Ganassi as I don't actively follow any motorsports so the SVT-GR44 is likely not intended for my wrist. Furthermore, the price tag will likely filter out all but the most extreme of Chip Ganassi fans as this Tsovet carries a whopping list price of $3495.00 USD. That is quite expensive for a non-COSC certified ETA 7750-based chronograph, but only 51 will be made and Tsovet has designed the SVT-GR44 to appeal to the most die-hard Chip Ganassi Racing fans (of which I assume there are at least 52). If you're a fan of any of the Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, please let us know what you think of the SVT-GR44 in the comments.

sábado, 27 de octubre de 2012

Longines Telemeter & Tachymeter Chronograph Watches

Longines will soon release these two vintage inspired watches that are lovely and affordable examples of classic sport timing timepieces. The watches are the Telemeter Chronograph and Tachymeter Chronograph. What makes them different? The dials, that's pretty much it. Each of these designs are faces we have seen before in the past, rendered here nicely in what is in my opinion an affordable package.

Other than the dials, do these pieces look familiar? They should. The Tachymeter and Telemeter Chronograph pieces are slightly altered versions of the Longines Column Wheel Chronograph. Up from 40mm wide, these new pieces will be 41mm wide in steel, and will contain the same Longines caliber L688 automatic column wheel based chronograph movements. These are exclusive to Longines movements made by ETA (caliber A08 L01) with a 54 hour power reserve. The case shape is virtually identical to that in the Column Wheel Chronograph.

Higher-end brands such as Breguet, Montblanc Villeret, Glashutte Original, and others have offered enamel dial versions of this dial style. Those watches are extremely expensive. Longines uses lacquer dials which offer a very similar look, with bright colors and high contrast. The hands are pomme style and lumed, and the antique instrument style dials still look cool. While the time, date, and chronograph functions are all useful, the tachymeter and telemeter functions are vestigial scales at best. They simply aren't very useful these days. Call these watches nostalgic treats.

I have heard watch brands discuss the function of a telemeter in one way, "use it to measure how far lightning is from you." It uses sound and a visual reference to measure how far that thing is from you using the chronograph. You'll never use it, I promise. The tachymeter is similar and actually more popular (thanks Speedmaster). It is used to measure the speed of an object assuming you can measure a specified distance traveled. Again... it is of very limited utility. But hey, if you find these functions useful then please keep tachymeter and telemeters scales close to you at all times. Attached to Longines Telmeter & Tachymeter Chronograph watches is a handsome black alligator strap. Overall these are pretty attractive vintage homage pieces and will be priced at $3,250.

jueves, 25 de octubre de 2012

Harry Winston Ocean Triple Retrograde Chronograph Black Zalium Watch

Each year we get a new stream of interesting Harry Winston Ocean watches. Many are cool, some are strange, and some like this Ocean Triple Retrograde Chronograph watch just seem to hit a sweet spot. Release of this watch coincides with the interesting news that Harry Winston is looking to sell off their watch and jewelry making divisions. That doesn't mean the end of Harry Winston watches, but rather that someone other than Harry Winston may someday soon be making Harry Winston watches. With that comes a lot of regard as well as responsibility.

For over a decade the most interesting allure to the brand has been their Opus collection of fantastic partnership creations started by Max Busser (of MB&F) when he ran the watch division at Harry Winston. While it is incredible for PR, the Opus division is expensive, highly complicated, and a huge headache to keep going (this includes finding partner watch makers, designing cool products, making prototypes in time for the show, and eventually producing the limited edition models which can take... years). Having said that, it would be sore to see the Opus traditional stop by most all accords if the brand was sold to a buyer who didn't want to put in the time. Will a buyer want to keep it going? Will they do it just as well as it is done today? We just don't know. Nevertheless that is the future and according to Harry Winston they are not yet in talks with any prospective buyer - they merely made it known that they are looking to sell.

On to this watch. New for 2012 is this sexy looking Ocean Triple Retrograde Chronograph Black Zalium. It has a triple retrograde chronograph on a skeletonized dial in a 44mm wide Ocean style case made out of the brand's exclusive Zalium metal allow (much like titanium but more corrosion resistant). The black colored case is done with DLC coating and really makes the Ocean design look fantastic. It is muted and stealthy with nice proportions given the wide lugs that taper into the black rubber or alligator strap. The contrast of the mostly metallic looking dial has the overall composition looking modern, masculine, and attractive.

I am happy that the movement is an automatic. The lack of dial leaves the indicators reverse printed in white on the back of the sapphire crystal. That leaves just a pretty view of the movement placed with Cotes de Geneve striped polishing. There is some unique shapes on the bridges, and you have the iconic "Shiruken" subsidary seconds hand. That, and it actually isn't that hard of a chronograph to read. Plus, I like the neatly integrated chronograph pushers that could just as easily be crown guards. Nicely done Harry Winston. Price is $36,200.

Tech Specs from Harry Winston:

Name: Ocean Triple Retrograde Chronograph Black Zalium
Reference: 400/MCRA44ZKL.S
Movement: Mechanical with automatic winding. Power reserve 42 hours
Functions: Excentered hours and minutes. Retrograde Chronograph with hours, minutes and seconds. Shuriken (small seconds)
Case Material: Zalium® with DLC coating, satin finish
Crystal: Sapphire
Case back: Open/sapphire, displaying a rose gold rotor with ruthenium treatment
Diameter: 44 mm
Water resistance: 100 meters (10 ATM)
Dial: Sapphire, open dial onto a ruthenium treated movement decorated with Côtes de Genève. Engraved Harry Winston logo. Transferred subdials with sanded circles. Black Super Luminova on hands
Strap: Black rubber
Buckle Type: Folding clasp. Material: Zalium with DLC coating
Collection: The Ocean Collection™

miércoles, 24 de octubre de 2012

Bell & Ross 126 Sport Watch Review

This is the Bell & Ross 126 Sport and it is one of the most important watches currently sold by the sometimes polarizing Swiss brand. Bell & Ross is a recognizable luxury brand thanks to their line of instrument-style watches like the BR 01 and its many iterations. These square-cased watches offer owners a chance of effectively wearing an aeronautical gauge on their wrist as their design has been derived from the legible military styling of an airplane instrument cluster. Both airplane gauges and watches find value in a similar sort of styling, mainly one based in contrast and simplicity with the primary goal being accuracy and legibility of the displayed values.

While Bell & Ross may be best known for their instrument lines, the brand has recently been on something of a tear, expanding the scope of their aesthetic with a range of vintage-inspired watches which are meant to echo the military and war-time roots of pilot's watches. While we have shown you both the BR 123, BR 126 Original, and a highlight of the 126 Sport, we felt the need to try a 126 Sport on for a couple of weeks to offer a more complete view of this small but important variation of the BR 126 lineup (tough job, but you can thank me later).

The Bell & Ross 126 Sport is a 41mm sport chronograph featuring a bi-compax (two sub dial) layout. The main difference between the BR 126 and the BR 126 Sport is the addition of a thin fixed bezel which does give the 126 Sport a more... sporty look. While technically part of Bell & Ross' "Vintage" line, the 126 Sport doesn't exhibit any of the usual vintageshorthand we have seen in other watches like faux aged luminous paint, special markings or logos, or the use of retro-style hands/markers. The 126 Sport is a more simplified and modern example of a watch meant to suggest a certain respect for its lineage, if such a thing exists. With styling that is essentially a more military and pilot inspired take on the Omega Speedmaster, I think the BR 126 looks outstanding.

The bezel is 43mm wide so this 41mm watch wears a bit bigger than its listed size would suggest. Factoring for the size of the bezel and proportionally large dial, the BR 126 Sport wears like a perfectly modern sport watch and has a lot of wrist presence for a completely monochromatic watch.

The BR 126 Sport is powered by an ETA 2894 automatic chronograph movement, which can be seen via the sapphire display back. The ETA 2894 is essentially an ETA 2892A2 (top tier ETA three hand and date) which has been modified to offer a two dial chronograph. The chronograph displays its reading via the left sub dial (30 minute measure) and the full-size seconds hand. Running seconds for standard time are shown on the right sub dial.

The dial design is simple, balanced and very legible with crisp markers and long thin hands. The BR 123/126 signature over sized 6 and 12 markers are still here and add a bit of casual military appeal to the 126 Sport dial design.

On the wrist, the polished steel case is bright and nicely compliments the flat black dial and polished hands and markers. The 126 Sport wears large enough but is actually only 51mm lug to lug and 13mm tall, including the domed sapphire crystal. Weight comes in at a completely reasonable 104g on the pictured black leather strap and deployment clasp.

As we previously reported, the Bell & Ross 126 Sport carries a retail price of $4500 USD which is pricey but not surprising given both average Bell & Ross prices and the varied competition in this range. So what makes the Bell & Ross 126 Sport so important? It expands their brand into a more traditional space. While there is nothing wrong with the BR 01, the iconic Bell & Ross instrument watches are a love or hate affair, much like the Omega Proplof. I think the 123/126/126 Sport lineup offers a more accessible and versatile response to a buyer who appreciates Bell & Ross but isn't all that enamored by their instrument style watches. The 126 Sport is certainly not Bell & Ross re-inventing the wheel but it is a very attractive point in their evolution of expanding their main lineup to include models with more mass-market appeal. I have to agree with Ariel's assessment that the BR 126 Sport is an excellent option for someone looking for a well rounded, nicely made, and versatile daily wearer.

lunes, 22 de octubre de 2012

Tissot SeaStar 1000 Chronograph Valjoux Limited Edition Watch

If you are in the market for a new mechanical Tissot dive watch then this is the model you probably want. Tissot released this limited edition model as a higher-end version of the standard SeaStar 1000 Chronograph (which we covered here). At first glance the two are deviously similar. It does beg the question why Tissot released the higher-end models at all, but I am glad that they did because this is one great Tissot diver.

The Tissot SeaStar 1000 Chronograph Valjoux Limited Edition is better than the standard SeaStar 1000 Chronograph in almost every way. Better case, better movement, better dial. However, it does add about $1000 to the price compared with the Tissot SeaStar 1000 Chronograph. So let's see what that extra money is going toward.

The limited edition SeaStar 1000 Chronograph Valjoux is a hair larger than the standard model at 49mm wide versus 48mm wide. You can't really tell the size increase, but it is there. These are both large watches but with stubby lugs they are meant to sit on most wrists. The dial looks rather huge thanks to the thin vintage style rotating diver's bezel. That bezel is one of the first places you'll see a quality increase over the standard model. The bezel is made better with sharper engraved numerals and a more secure feel.

Both feature steel cases, but the finishing, polishing, and detailing are all better on the Valjoux model. However, both have 300 meters of water resistance and sapphire crystals on the front and back. I do think that the Valjoux model has better AR coating though. Features on the case are the same, but again the quality is better on the Valjoux. The watches have automatic helium release valves built into the left side of the case as well as screw-down security chronograph pushers. I like the large-sized crowns that are easy to grasp and operate. They are screw-down for water resistance of course.

The difference between the movements is a bit significant. The standard SeaStar 1000 Chronograph uses the budget-priced Swiss ETA C0.211 automatic chronograph movement, while the limited edition model uses the tried and true Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic movement with a gold-toned automatic rotor, both seen through the casebacks (I like the printed SeaStar logo and seahorse printed on the Valjoux version's caseback window). Neither of the movements are what I would call "fancy," but for sure, the 7750 is a better movement. ETA tried to make the distinction between the two movements a bit more pronounced in terms of function by having the C0.211 be a six hour chronograph versus the 12 hours of timing for the 7750. This is actually a very arbitrary distinction technically speaking, but I get why they did it. Also, the 7750 is a day/date movement while the C0.211 only shows the date. This is reflected on the dial of the watches accordingly.

The SeaStar 1000 Chronograph Valjoux (by the way the "1000" part of the name comes from the watch's roughly 1000 feet - versus 300 meters - of water resistance) indicates that it satisfied ISO 6425 standards for being a true dive watch on the rear of the watch. The standard version might pass as well, but Tissot wanted to make sure you know that for the limited edition model. Attached to both models is a rubber strap. The quality thereof is better for the Valjoux model. The standard model does come with a metal bracelet option that is not available for the limited model.

Easily the best part of the SeaStar 1000 Chronograph Valjoux model is the dial. This is an incredible upgrade over the standard model which is frankly cheap looking by comparison. You do need to have a basic like of the design, but the quality and legibility are outstanding for the limited piece. The matte black dial has some peripheral snailed texturing and more recessed subdials compared with the standard model. The limited version also includes applied hour markers with excellent lume. The applied hour markers make the piece look ten times better in my opinion. You can see little differences in the hands (such as the subsidiary seconds hand), as well as the text on the dial. Apparently the Valjoux model is "Professional" (whatever that means). As I mentioned earlier, the dials do look really similar at first glance, but upon close inspection there are all these numerous differences.

Tissot will produce just 1000 pieces of the SeaStar 1000 Chronograph Valjoux limited edition model. It really feels like the watch that Tissot designers wanted to make originally but were restricted by pricing concerns with the standard model. Somehow they got the green light to make a limited version of the high-end piece that they wanted to make. It is a surprisingly good watch and is among the higher quality Tissot mechanical watches I've ever had the pleasure of wearing. The visual similarity the limited edition model has to the standard model is rather amusing, but perhaps adds charm and mystique to the collection. Retail price for Tissot SeaStar 1000 Chronograph Valjoux limited edition watch is $2,250.

domingo, 21 de octubre de 2012

The Jorg Gray Clint Dempsey Limited Edition Game Timer Watch + Interview

In the wake of adding soccer star Clint Dempsey to their list of ambassadors, watch brand Jorg Gray has announced a new limited edition watch to commemorate the partnership. Clint "Deuce" Dempsey is an American soccer player who plays in both British and American leagues. Dempsey was recently traded from Fulham FC to Tottenham Hotspur FC in the British Premier League and is regarded as one of the top strikers playing today. The new watch is the Jorg Gray 2500-22 Clint Dempsey Limited Edition Game Timer and, unlike many ambassador models released to the watch world, Clint Dempsey actually helped to style and design the 2500-22. Dempsey fans should definitely take note of this limited edition soccer themed watch.

The idea behind the 2500-22 is that is has been designed by a soccer player for soccer fans. Measuring a prominent 52mm across, the 100m water resistant stainless steel case features an integrated rubber strap and a sapphire coated mineral crystal. Ticking away inside is the ISA 8271 quartz movement which features a football timer that can measure not only a 45 minute regular time countdown and a 15 minute extra time countdown, but also track up to seven and a half minutes of additional time. While I am not much of a soccer fan, I can see it being fun to keep time along with the game as it plays, especially if you are watching a game in person and not just on the TV. The dial is adorned with Clint's signature and "Deuce" nickname, and the bezel is ionic plated black to match the PVD case. Aesthetically, you will see elements from Linde Werdelin, Hublot and maybe even a little Richard Mille. I think the look is very sporty, aggressive and masculine which should do well with its intended market of serious soccer fans.

We were interested in learning a bit more about Clint's involvement and experience in working with Jorg Gray to design a watch that he was willing to put his name on. Luckily for us, Clint was able to answer a few questions to shed some light on the process and his thoughts on watches in general:

James Stacey: Why design a watch? Are you a fan of watches in general or was it just good fun given your ambassadorship with Jorg Gray?
Clint Dempsey: I’ve always been a fan of watches, they’re something I enjoy. There’s something about wearing a good watch that just makes you feel good. Time is such an important part of your day, you only get so many minutes and you can either let it be a hindrance or let it be a positive. I definitely like to look at the time you have in a positive way, and that’s why I enjoy watches.

JS: What elements of the design were left in your control?
CD: Jorg Gray let me create something that I was going to be able to get a lot of use out of, so I wanted something similar to watches that I’ve had previously. I asked them to make sure that you could get it wet, so you could go fishing or swimming with it on, but at the same time you could wear it with a suit. I wanted it to be an all-black watch, with a rubber band on it to give it a mean look while still looking nice. I just wanted to make sure that it was very versatile. I was really happy to be able to have a say in designing the watch because when you have that input you’re going to obviously like it that much more. Then the more you like it, the more you’re going to wear it. When I can wear a watch with pride I think I’m able to push and promote the watches a bit better, so that’s always a good thing.

JS: Were you able to influence the size of the watch? 52mm is quite large, does the size of the 2500-22 reflect your personal tastes?
CD: I didn’t really have any particular say in the size of the dial, I was more concerned with making it mean looking, but I think Jorg Gray has done a good job with it. I’m really happy with the way it has turned out, it doesn’t feel too big and it definitely has that edgy feel that we were looking for. I like to think that its versatility is a good reflection of my personality in the sense that I’m chilled when off the field but as soon as I get on the field I bring that grit and determination.

JS: What were the essential features or qualities you wanted to see included with your limited edition?
CD: The water resistance was crucial as I like to wear a watch all the time and when you like fishing and swimming, like I do, then you want a watch that you can do everything in. The more chance you get to wear it, the more you get your money’s worth! It’s the kind of watch that’s going to last the test of time, and I’m a strong believer that the more you wear a watch the more you will like it and the more it becomes a part of you. That’s why I wanted to have a say in the design of watch, because this is something that I’m going to want to wear more often.

JS: What is your favorite aspect of the watch?
CD: I like a lot of things about it but I’ve always had black cars, and I think that a black watch gives off a cool kind of vibe. So yeah, that’s one of my favorite aspects of it. Then the details Jorg Gray went into in making sure that I could wear it in everything I do is important too. It has a tough dial on it which would be difficult to scratch and the rubber band on it so that you can get it wet without messing things up inside. But I like everything about it to be honest….

JS: So what is it like being an American guy playing for an English soccer team?
CD: It’s cool because it’s one of the best leagues in the world and coming from a small town in Texas this is something that most people only ever dream about. Getting to play in Europe and a league like this is great. Some people where I’m from have never left the States, so it’s a great feeling to be able to fly the flag over here. There’s a good few other guys that have played over here, especially some of the guys in goal like Brad Friedel and Kasey Keller. Then there are the guys like Claudio Reyna and Eddie Lewis who have been over here too. But I’m just looking to play my part, go as far as I can go and make the most of my career.

We would like to thank Clint for making some time in his busy schedule to answer a few questions as it is undoubtedly cool to see that Jorg Gray was able to design a watch that reflects his tastes. The Jorg Gray 2500-22 Clint Dempsey Limited Edition Game Timer has been limited to 1000 units with a list price of $795. While the 2500-22 may not be hugely interesting from a horological standpoint, it is a watch with a built-in audience. Given its extremely soccer-centric (or football-centric) design and feature set, the 2500-22 LE should have little trouble finding a home with some of Clint's biggest fans.

viernes, 19 de octubre de 2012

Michael Schumacher Limited Edition Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshire Watch

As famed Formula 1 race car driver Michael Schumacher announced his retirement, Audemars Piguet also announced his new limited edition watch. A few days ago I debuted the Royal Oak Offshore Michael Schumacher Limited Edition watch here via Forbes. You can visit that post for details on the watch as well as more images. Here I'd like to offer some thoughts, humor, and more views of the watch itself.

It was about two years ago that Audemars Piguet announced their relationship with Schumacher - and they were damn proud. Schumacher is an excellent addition to their roster of sport champions, with Schumacher himself likely looking for a new watch brand partner at the time. While I don't know for sure, it is possible that Audemars Piguet and Hublot rivaled over the championship driver - as they have with some other people or events in the past. While not the first racer with an AP watch to their name, Michael Schumacher is likely one of the most well-known.

It took two years to finally get his first limited edition watch. Perhaps AP was waiting for Mike to announce his retirement from racing, but that is hard to say. What everyone did expect was for the eventual watch to be based on the Royal Oak Offshore, and for it to extend the modern design of the collection. It most certainly does that. At 44mm wide it is not huge by today's standards, but sits large on the wrist because of the wide lugs and chronograph pushers that make the case almost square-shaped. You can get a good idea of the size by seeing it on Schumacher's frame in the pictures.

Audemars Piguet did a nice little photo shoot with him for the watch debut campaign. I loved the almost creepy picture of him holding his jacket collar all 80's style. That pose along with Schumacher's appearance make him a dead ringer for Blade Runner's Roy (played by Rutger Hauer). Though I don't think that Schumacher is an android. We'll have to check on that.

The limited edition Royal Oak Offshore watches have a mere taste of Schumacher as opposed to his personality all over it. Sure you have his signature on the black-colored gold rotor of the automatic movement and the seven stars on the dial to represent his championships - but this is really just another flavor of ROO. Don't get me wrong, that is a good thing. Audemars Piguet's Octavio Garcia uses opportunities like this to play around with design ideas that would never be possible in unlimited pieces. You see a new style of hands which are sure to delight or annoy hardcore Royal Oak Offshore fans. Little touches of red mark the piece such as for the date font color and red on the crown.

As I mentioned in the Forbes article I think it is interesting that the minute scale is done in that "racing flag" style which is the same style used in limited edition Michael Schumacher Omega Speedmaster watches of the past. I tend to think this was Michael's input as it doesn't seem likely Audemars Piguet wanted to mimic the Omega pieces. But that is just a guess. Fans of the brands seemed mixed on the design of the watch. No one seemed to dislike it, but after all the waiting I think a few people wanted to see something a bit more unique and special given Schumacher's status. Aside from the design there is nothing unique in terms of the movement or the materials.

Audemars Piguet collectors and race fans of an elite status will find enough to enjoy. With the limited edition status and its cool sport watch look, this Royal Oak Offshore is a conservative but satisfying homage to Schumacher's career. We will be seeing more of this guy in the Audemars Piguet context in the years to come. The case has a cermet (ceramic metallic hybrid) bezel and will come in either titanium, 18k rose gold, or platinum with a caliber 3126/3840 automatic chronograph movement. Price for the pieces will be (titanium ref. 26568IM) $42,500, (rose gold ref. 26568OM) $75,000, and (platinum ref. 26568PM) $110,000. Or in other words around the price of a speeding ticket in Switzerland for those with the necessary income to afford them.

miércoles, 17 de octubre de 2012

Marvin Malton Cushion Watch Winner Follow-Up Review

Thanks to Victor M. of Raleigh, North Carolina for this thorough follow-up review of a Marvin Malton Cushion watch he was the lucky winner of during the September 2012 monthly watch giveaway. The giveaway specified an M119 watch, but it looks like he was able to get an M120 Limited Edition model instead (similar but with different dial). Check out his details reviews below:

I recently received the Marvin M120 Limited Edition watch, having won the contest held by our host here at, Mr. Ariel Adams.


As Mr. Adams mentioned back when he first covered the M119 introduction, The M118, 119 and 120 series are the first in Marvin's Malton Cushion cases. The largest difference between the models is that the M118 is a chronograph movement, M119 is the automatic 3-hand with Arabic numerals on the face in wide availability, and M120 has stick (baton) markers in limited editions.

Marvin seems to favor leather bands, both stitched with an accent color (M120) and inner padding with a perforated cover (M119). Two of the M119 models are available with a brushed and polished steel bracelet.

This brushed and polished combination stems from the case and bezel of all of the collection, excepting the PVD coated cases. The bezel is polished on all non-PVD steel cushion case watches, and the rest of the case is brushed in rays extending from the center to edge of the case. The lugs have a raised step that is polished. This is an unusual brushing pattern compared to the patterns on other watches, which usually brush the lugs in a path that follows the bezel.

The case back is a display back showing off the 26 jewel Swiss Sellita SW200 movement. The rotor is brushed in a ray pattern, and has the Marvin crown emblem in red, and is marked with two arrows showing rotation direction and the words "THE SWING". The back is held on with four screws at the corners of the back.

I've never had a Sellita-equipped watch before, so I don't know how to compare, but the movement from the rotor seems very loud. It's very easy to hear the rotor moving around and if it were not brand new from the manufacture, I'd be concerned. [Ed. Note – this is not uncommon and has to do with things like case thickness and the bearings used. It does not present a problem aside from the sound.]


I've never worn a cushion watch for any length of time. I've never really seen the cushion case as that popular; I've known people who wear Panerai, the quintessential cushion case watch, and I've known a man who wears a Wenger because he can't afford a Panerai, but outside of that the people I'm surrounded by wear a mix of Rolex, Casio, DKNY, and other fashion watches. My daily go-to is a Seiko SKX-007 on steel bracelet modified with MKII dial and plo-prof hands and a 24h bezel that I use as a GMT time zone (adjust hours to second time zone, divide the 24 marker by 2 to get the hour in the second time zone.) I travel frequently and never dive. The diver's bezel will never save my life.

Other watches I wear are a titanium Jünkers GMT (quartz) and a MKII LRRP GMT that looks like a Rolex 1655 with the big orange hand, but with a GMT bezel instead of the Explorer II capstone. The short version is that I favor somewhat classy retro tool watches with an emphasis on complications that I actually use. I'm not wedded to features I need exclusively - one of my favorites is the original Milgauss 6541 second hand.


I received the M120.13.49.64 which Marvin describes as being inspired by a 1950s vintage model with modern Marvin Cushion DNA. This explains why it is so appealing to me. It's very tasteful, with black dial, stick markers and a white and orange ring at the edge containing the black minute marks. The minute marks continue in white onto the black chapter ring/rehaut.

Besides being beautifully uncluttered, it's very readable. The hands extend long enough, with the minute hand stopping at the edge of the dial. The hour hand stops about 2mm short of the hour marker. The
markers and hands are all lumed, excepting the 8 o'clock marker which has red in place of lume. This is a Marvin brand hallmark. I know that it's not a dress watch, but it's as close as I've come so far, and it will fit nicely with my business meetings, although it's definitely not a slim watch for hiding under the sleeve cuff.

One thing I noticed immediately about wearing the Marvin is that the crown does not screw down. It's been years since I've had an automatic watch where the crown winds the watch when it is pushed in. I had to discover this. The watch arrived with no literature at all other than a small card inviting me to go to the Marvin Watches website. Registering the watch with them causes them to give 8 Swiss francs support to non-governmental charitable organizations.

The watch case is 42mm. It feels very comfortable, and I'm used to wearing a steel bracelet and, excepting the Seiko, a smaller 39mm size case. On the whole, it feels --right--. It isn't too heavy, and it's not too large.

The leather band is very well made. It has orange stitching that matches the dial, and is lined with red leather on the inside. These hidden details that are shared secrets between designer and wearer really resonate with me. Details matter. They show the manufacturer respects the product and respects the end user. The buckle has the Marvin crown emblem, which looks like an 'M' when inverted. The buckle is also a combination of brushed and polished surfaces. I'm not sure why, but the band has two metal studs sticking out of the band at the spring bar. What are these for? Why are they present? It seems like they could mark up the case. [Ed. Note – these are quick change levers for removing the straps easily when you want to change the strap without using a tool.]

Other details worth noting are the M Crown on the end of the octagonal crown, and the initials of the founders of the manufacture on the side of the case opposite the crown.


Packaging is one of the things manufacturers in any product space look to as a cost savings first. Some manufacturers will work backwards from their MSRP goal and use cheap packaging in an effort to put all available money into the product and still make a profit. Other manufacturers will adjust the MSRP up so that they can offer the product they really want to make and a package that does it justice.

Marvin made the right choice. It's a pleasant surprise opening a package and seeing that it honors the product it contains. Marvin sent the watch in a brown cardboard box that had the curious closure of plastic strapping like you'd use on a much heavier box or a lot of lumber. Overkill is a good thing. Inside, the display box was wrapped in white tissue.

The top of the box slides off like a sleeve. The inner box has a side that folds down revealing a drawer that could contain documentation, warranty cards - none of which were included.

The watch itself is held in a leather covered oval with a magnetic closure. Magnets and leather are a sign of the money spent on the packaging. Opening the box, I knew I was opening something special. Inside, the watch rests gently strapped to a small pillow. This is a sign of designers who honor their work and honor their customers.

IWC Vintage Ingenieur Automatic Limited Edition Watch For The UK

Back in 2008 IWC released a collection called "Vintage" which was a bit of a misnomer. It was the beginning of the serious retro watch craze and IWC released a collection of stunning vintage themed versions of their contemporary collection. The kick was that each of the pieces actually did have a real history. So it was new watches based on original vintage watches, but not 1:1 design reproductions of those watches. These were cool and an IWC Vintage Ingenieur was part of the collection. I felt that putting "Vintage" in the name could make some people think that they were actual antique watches.

Now in 2012 IWC has partnered with UK authorized watch dealer to sell a unique limited edition version of the IWC Vintage Ingenieur watch (first discussed here) in the UK (or online from some UK dealers). The 2012 limited edition piece has a metallic brown dial and brown reptile strap. It will be a limited edition and only 36 of the pieces will be available in the UK (exclusively through The Watch Gallery's stores and website).

As I understand it, the original Ingenieur watch was IWC's answer to Rolex's Milgauss watch collection - for scientists and engineers. Those utilitarian ideals are sort of lost as it is a luxury watch today, but the piece is still as handsome as ever. While dressy by today's standards it has a distinct masculinity to it. It is a dad's watch. Not a dad of today's watch, but a dad of yesterday. It is sober while effective, and attractive without being the least bit dandy. This watch looks good in a board room or while bowling. In brown, it looks just as nice as the steel and black model from 2008.

The Vintage Ingenieur watch is 42.5mm wide in steel with carefully mixed polished and brushed surfaces on the case. The prominent lume-coated dauphine hands mix well with the applied hour indicators. Lume dot auxillary hour markers help round-out the dial. While the dial does of course have lume, by today's standards it isn't going to be as bright as say a dive watch given the modest amount of SuperLumiNova placed on the dial.

Inside the IWC Vintage Ingenieur is an IWC made caliber 8011 automatic movement that was originally released in the mid 1990s. It has the brand's Pellaton winding system and is a great looking movement. What I like a lot about many of IWC's in-house movements are that they are intended to be large and fill up the entire caseback. As such, the caliber 8011 automatic is visible through the caseback of the watch.

500 of these pieces will be made globally for 2012. IWC places "2012 Limited Edition of 500 pieces" on the rear of the watch printed on the sapphire caseback window. Each market will only get a few pieces - mostly under specific retailers. It is unclear to me just how much the mainstream consumer is still interested in very "vintage" looks, but a piece like the IWC Vintage Ingenieur feels more retro than vintage, and certainly stands on its own today being just a bit fashionably dated in its design. Price is 5,950 British Pounds and in the UK for instance is exclusively available here online or at the Watch Gallery's London Selfridges and Westfield boutiques.