Flying High

UPDATE! “Pilots Steve Boultbee Brooks and Matt Jones have made aviation history after completing the first-ever round-the-world flight in the Spitfire. Boultbee Brooks and Jones landed just in time for Christmas to a rapturous welcome at Goodwood on the 5th of December, exactly four months after they set off on their epic expedition.”— IWC

When you first lay eyes on the Silver Spitfire, it looks wrong. 

Here, we have one of the most recognizable aviation silhouettes ever, the star of innumerable historic photos and newsreels, untold numbers of model airplane kits, countless museum exhibits, and vintage airshows. But in all those, the Spitfire appears wearing camouflage, spotted in squadron markings, usually with Browning machine guns on each wing. The WWII fighter plane, while iconic, remains synonymous with the deadliest conflict in human history.

But the Silver Spitfire isn’t like other Spitfires. No, this is a special “demilitarized” model, meaning it’s bereft of livery or armament. Washed of war paint, stripped of lethal power, you’re allowed to appreciate it as a technical design object, a functional sculpture. It’s no longer a relic of our capacity to destroy, but a towering monument to our ability to create. 

IWC's restored polished aluminum Silver Spitfire
IWC’s restored polished aluminum Silver Spitfire. Photo courtesy IWC.

Seen this way, the plane looks totally and utterly correct. Especially in the context of the SIHH watch fair in Geneva, where the Silver Spitfire made its debut at the IWC Schaffhausen booth. There, the aircraft was flanked by the Swiss brand’s Pilot’s Watch Spitfire collection. The common thread? Engineering elevated to high art. 

Consider the new collection’s smallest piece, a handsome 39mm two-hand automatic, which packs a 72-hour power reserve. There’s a precision chronograph variant, upsized to 41mm with triple sub-banks, as well as a Big Pilot’s Watch version. The latter features a unique green dial, bronze case, brown calfskin strap, perpetual calendar function, and moon-phase for both northern and southern hemispheres.

SIHH showgoers flocked to the IWC area, eager to snap photos of the new watches alongside an aeronautical legend. Developed during the 1930s, the Spitfire is often cited among the finest aviation designs of all-time. The short-range, high-performance aircraft helped pioneer the elliptical-wing configuration, using sunken rivets to achieve a super-thin cross-section, increasing top speed without sacrificing stability or safety. (R.J. Mitchell, the principal engineer, cut his teeth on racing seaplanes. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he also held a pilot’s license and flew regularly.) 

A newly restored 1943 Super Marine Spitfire MK.IX
A newly restored 1943 Super Marine Spitfire MK.IX currently heading through Asia towards the Middle East before returning home to the United Kingdom. Photo courtesy IWC.

During the famed Battle of Britain, in 1940, Mitchell’s machine took center stage, as British and Canadian pilots fended off a monthslong German and Italian onslaught. The fast, agile Spitfire became the darling of Allied airmen. It curried favor with military brass, too, thanks to its robustness and adaptability. This allowed the British to forgo a clean-sheet redesign for the entirety of the war; instead, they simply updated the trusty Spitfire, creating more than two dozen iterations, suitable for everything from ground attacks to photo-reconnaissance. In total, more than 20,000 examples rolled off the assembly lines between 1938 and 1950. Remarkably, less than 60 remain flightworthy today.

So spotting one always feels special. But coming nose-to-propeller with the Silver Spitfire is a bonafide event. This is a true one-off, born of a partnership between IWC and Britain’s prestigious Boultbee Flight Academy. Using the plane’s historic designation, MJ271, historians were able to trace its lineage and pedigree. Records indicate this particular plane was built in 1943 at a shadow factory in Castle Bromwich, the heart of Britain’s industrial Midlands. It was then flown by Australian, Canadian, Norwegian, Trinidadian, and British pilots, logging more than 50 combat missions before retiring in 1945.

But that was a past life. MJ271 earned the Silver Spitfire moniker after an intensive two-year restoration, during which its body panels were polished to silver-chrome perfection. This bespoke finish only makes the exterior lines more striking. The blister-shaped cockpit, gently swept elliptical wings, oblong tailfin—all intersect gracefully, creating a harmonious whole. It’s a far cry from the jutting, angular look of supersonic aircraft. Modern fighter jets blend into the background of Michael Bay films. The Silver Spitfire could star in an Ezra Stoller photograph. 

The Pilot's Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition "The Longest Flight"
The Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition “The Longest Flight” a limited edition of 250 pieces. A simple rotation of the bezel sets the watch to a different time zone.

Aviation buffs will note that the Silver Spitfire is an Mk IX variant, meaning it carries the famed Rolls-Royce Merlin 61 piston engine. Equipped with a trick two-stage supercharger, this 12-cylinder marvel was 30 percent smaller than the Nazi’s BMW radial motor but still produced more horsepower. Outstanding high-altitude performance afforded enormous tactical advantages—so much so that the United States licensed Rolls-Royce’s design, then put it into production stateside. Some historians refer to the Merlin as “the engine that won WWII.”

Which is to say: There’s a workhorse behind the Silver Spitfire’s show pony shell. Good thing, since IWC and Boultbee Flight Academy weren’t contented with the static display at SIHH. Instead, the two brands decided to take this special machine on an unprecedented, four-month-long, round-the-globe flight. Covering some 27,000 miles, the route map includes more than 100 individual legs, stopping in 30 countries. Boultbee Academy aces Steve Brooks and Matt Jones jumped at the opportunity to pilot the expedition.

Their journey commenced in early August when the Silver Spitfire flew west from the Goodwood Aerodrome, a former Royal Air Force base on Britain’s southern coast. At press time, the aircraft was flying over northern Japan, with Brooks and Jones having already logged an incredible 13,000 miles. Along the way, they’ve amassed a serious following: IWC’s plane has more than 75,000 fans across Facebook, Instagram (@thesilverspitfire), and Twitter (@longestflight). 

The evening before the Super Marine Spitfire's initial take off from Chichester/Goodwood Airport
The evening before the initial take off from Chichester/Goodwood Airport. Photo courtesy IWC.

Connect with any of those accounts, and you’ll be rewarded with a constant stream of live updates, plus stunning video and photo content. Look closely at Brooks and Jones—or, more specifically, their wrists—and you’ll also see the crown jewel of the new IWC collection: The Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Longest Flight. 

Hewn from stainless steel, this 46mm timepiece brings legibility (high-contrast black dial, lumed markers), and functionality (60 hours power reserve, 60 meters watch resistance) in equal measure. Crucially, it features IWC’s clever worldtime setup; adjust the timezone via bezel rotation, and the hour hand, 24-hour display, and date all synchronize automatically. This watch looks the part, too, with an oversized diamond-style crown, orientation triangle at the 12 o’clock position, and military-green textile strap.

It’s sure to pique the interest of IWC collectors, as the Spitfire Longest Flight is limited to just 250 pieces. But those enthusiasts with an appreciation for aviation will appreciate this watch most. Not only as a special edition that commemorates the Silver Spitfire, and the historic Brooks and Jones expedition, but as a symbolic object. Together, the plane and watch stand as great technical triumphs over two of mankind’s enduring obsessions: taking flight and comprehending time.

Pilots Steve Boultbee Brooks and Matt Jones
Pilots Steve Boultbee Brooks and Matt Jones attending the celebration of the official start of the “Silver Spitfire – The Longest Flight” expedition in Goodwood. (Photo by Remy Steiner/Getty Images for IWC).

Crazy Rich Collectors


What’s the best way to please your existing fan base while also attracting a new generation of watch collectors? Patek Philippe arrives in Singapore to show us how it’s done. 

As the last family-owned independent watch manufacturer in Geneva, Patek Philippe maintains a special place in the world of fine watchmaking. The brand’s singularly elegant and artistic design language has always defined its products; centuries of experience mean the technical know-how is innate, a tradition of innovation represented by more than 100 patents. 

Put simply: Nobody does it quite like Patek. 

Patek Philippe Watches (R to L) Ref. 5531 World Time Minute Repeater, Ref. 7234 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time, Ref. 5930 World Time Chronograph, all Singapore 2019 Special Editions.
(R to L) Ref. 5531 World Time Minute Repeater, Ref. 7234 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time, Ref. 5930 World Time Chronograph, all Singapore 2019 Special Editions.

All that history and grandeur goes on display at the Watch Art Exhibition. This traveling show, which began in Dubai in 2012, and has since visited Munich, London, and New York, offers free public admission and an opportunity to view some of the rarest and most iconic pieces from Patek’s archives. This year, the exhibition rolled into Singapore, and Watch Journal was on the ground to experience it firsthand. 

According to Patek, this was the ideal location for the 2019 show. For starters, it’s the Singaporean bicentennial—an important event in what’s become one of Patek’s most important retail markets. But the brand didn’t just grow here overnight. In fact, the relationship between Singapore and the watchmaker goes back to 1965, when the city-state first became a sovereign independent republic separate of Malaysia. Mr. Philippe Stern, the current ownership group’s third-generation patriarch, arrived on the scene to start a new sales network. The watches were a hit, Singapore grew into a booming financial hub, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, the bonds between country and brand is stronger than ever before. This much was clear inside the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel, which served as the base of operations for the Watch Art Exhibition. Inside, the venue’s 24,000-square-foot performance space was transformed into an extension of the watchmaker’s legendary museum and the grand salons of its Lake Geneva store. Important historical pieces were brought in from Switzerland; the accomplishments of scientists, metallurgists, and astronomers were proudly on display. There was even a live show presenting rare handcrafts, with master artisans practicing age-old crafts of enameling and engraving and marquetry. 

The Marina Bay Sands, site of the "Watch Art Grand Exhibition Singapore 2019."
The Marina Bay Sands, site of the “Watch Art Grand Exhibition Singapore 2019.”

In terms of programming, this resembled the previous events in London or New York. But the local flavor at this year’s Watch Art Exhibition was next-level. The entrance at Marina Bay Sands paid tribute to the spirit of Singapore, with hundreds of colorful paper flowers, called Majulah Singapura, installed for the occasion. (“Majulah Singapura” means “onwards Singapore,” the opening refrain of the national anthem.) Beautiful papercraft continued in the lobby windows, which were filled with artistic representations of birds and flowers. Also on display were new and rare pieces from the Patek Philippe Museum collection, along with unique timepieces created for Southeast Asian collectors in the past. 

There were treats for the region’s current—and emerging—crop of brand aficionados as well. At the show, Patek unveiled a smattering of exclusive pieces, including six limited-edition watches created specially for Singapore. (Among them: Ref.5930G-011, a red-dial Worldtime Chronograph; Ref.5167A-012, a steel Aquanaut with bold red coloring; Ref.5067A-027, a red Aquanaut Luce with a diamond bezel; and Ref.7234A-001, a stunning blue Calatrava Pilot World Time.) More exclusive debuts, which ranged from dome table clocks to pocket watches and chronographs, offered a selection of rare handcrafts inspired by cultural and artistic expressions of Southeast Asia. 

The Patek Philippe Ref. 5303 Minute Repeater Tourbillon, a world premiere Singapore 2019 Special Edition
A limited-edition of twelve pieces, Patek Philippe Ref. 5303 Minute Repeater Tourbillon, a world premiere Singapore 2019 Special Edition.

But in terms of high-watchmaking, the new Minute Repeater Ref. 5303R-010 managed to steal the show. Limited to a total of 12 pieces, this grand complication debuted an exceptional manually wound caliber; it displays the gong hammers on the dial side, exposing the entire repeater mechanism and tourbillon. The rose gold case and matching gilded baseplate are contrasted by a minute track running along the exterior, and a black leather strap with matching red stitching.

Predictably, all of these new designs kicked off a frenzy, with collectors and enthusiasts flying in from all points of the globe. But the ultra-desirable pieces (including the #trending red Aquanaut) were available exclusively to the residents of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Which is to say: Best of luck getting your hands on any of them.

Still, western collectors—and, really, anybody who cares about craftsmanship, design, or horology—could appreciate the Watch Art Exhibition. Patek’s history and products offer a unique perspective on humanity’s creative pursuits, and a small company that’s spent centuries honing its trade. Amid the monuments to that pursuit, the brand’s current patriarch, Thierry Stern, paused to reflect on the Patek Philippe magic. 

The steel Aquanaut in red, Patek Philippe Ref. 5167
The steel Aquanaut in red, Patek Philippe Ref. 5167, symbolizing good fortune (especially for the lucky 500 able to get their hands on one).

“It’s a family taking care of the business,” he said. “I have two people who know how to design. So we talk. Knowing them so well, and them knowing me so well, the image appears in front of us. After all these years, you simply know how to do it.”

Turn of Fortune

Jaeger-LeCoultre addresses Reverso, the watch that redefined the company—twice.

By James Malcolmson

Photographs by Atom Moore

A few months after her appointment as Jaeger-LeCoultre’s first female CEO, Catherine Rénier announced a change in marketing direction to her staff. Reverso, the famous 1930s model with the swiveling case, would be receiving renewed emphasis at the company’s historic Vallée de Joux manufacture.

Her decision ran counter to widely observed trends in the watch industry. For most of the 21st century, sales of Reverso (along with other shaped watches) have gradually given ground to rounder, more modern models in Jaeger-LeCoultre’s arsenal. The functional idiosyncrasies of Reverso, along with its distinctively art deco design are worlds away from the bland features most Swiss watch executives believe will appeal to a global audience.

Jaeger-LeCoultre executives have, in fact, expended considerable energy adapting Reverso to global trends. “Over the years, we’ve watched it become rounded, waterproofed and superluminova’ed in the more active lifestyle Gran’ Sport edition of 1999, and then seen the swiveling case switched from a rectangle into a square with 2006’s Reverso Squadra. But more recently, the company has brought the model closer to its original design.

The current Reverso Tribute editions, including this year’s rich wine-red model, speak to its art deco heritage, representing a rectilinear countercurrent to the modern wave of rounded shapes. Overall, Rénier’s decision to trend toward more traditional forms amounts to an acknowledgment that the spirit of Jaeger-LeCoultre is inextricably linked to the history of the Reverso. After all, it was not merely a successful product for the watchmaker, but a force that redefined the company more than once.

In fact, Jaeger-LeCoultre, owes its very identity to the development of Reverso. At the beginning of the 1930s, the LeCoultre company was still very much the movement manufacturer Antoine LeCoultre had founded in Switzerland’s Vallée de Joux, a century before. His grandson Jacques-David, had parlayed the firm’s established technical bona fides into profitable collaborations with a number of Paris-based specialists, including the renowned French watchmaker Edmond Jaeger, who put LeCoultre movements into his creations for the top Parisian jewelers. LeCoultre’s technical capabilities, including design and case making, proved essential when Jacques-David was approached by his friend César de Trey with an offbeat idea for a swiveling, reversible watch.

“De Trey was a Swiss businessman who had managed to make a small fortune in dental equipment,” says Stephane Belmont, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s director of heritage. “He developed a keen interest in watches and was exposed to many wealthy people during his travels around the world.”

Stopping in India during the waning days of the British Raj, de Trey managed to mix with members of the polo set, an encounter that led directly to the heavily mythologized story about the need for protection from errant polo mallets leading directly to the complex Reverso concept. Jacques-David LeCoultre was able to turn to the considerable Parisian watchmaking resources he had developed and tasked engineer Alfred Chauvot with the job of designing and engineering a functioning prototype that was first patented in 1931. That Chauvot managed to not only capture the classic proportions of the period, but create a mechanical system that has endured for nearly a century—one of the great unsung feats of watch design.

While LeCoultre marshaled the resources to build the watches, de Trey’s enthusiasm and promotional abilities contributed much to their commercial success. With the model’s popularity apparent, de Trey set up a distribution company in 1933, marketing the watch first under the Reverso brand, while also supplying other brands like Gübelin, Tiffany, and Patek Philippe with the same design. Such was the interconnectedness of the Swiss industry at that time that LeCoultre, still seeing itself more as a supplier than a public facing brand, had few qualms about sharing the benefit of a potential hit. That, however, was about to change.

“After two or three years, in 1937, it was the distribution company that first carried the name Jaeger-LeCoultre,” explains Belmont. It was decided at that time that all the watches actually made by LeCoultre in Switzerland and Paris would carry the name Jaeger-LeCoultre.”

While the Reverso was an integral part of the very formation of the Jaeger-LeCoultre brand, it would not be the last time the company owed its continued existence to the swiveling watch. The popularity of the Reverso gradually declined in the years after its ’30s heyday. By the late 1950s, production of the style had completely ceased. A quarter-century later, the company—reeling like the rest of the Swiss industry from quartz competition—brought back Reverso, not as a mechanical men’s watch it was, but as a comparatively small-sized, quartz model intended primarily for female clients. Once back on the market, the idiosyncratic design ran headlong into a new group of European watch collectors who had rediscovered the appeal of traditional mechanical watchmaking.

“In the eighties, the Reverso was a very different and interesting watch compared to the others,” said Stephane Belmont. “Later, it was the market that asked to combine Reverso again with the mechanical movement and to develop complications for it.”

This particular chapter in Reverso’s history is somewhat personal for Belmont. In 1985, in the midst of the model’s revival, his father, Henry-John Belmont, was appointed CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre. Working in concert with his group director, Günter Blümlein, Henry-John wasted little time in developing an action plan. By 1988, the management team had settled on an ambitious plan to relaunch Reverso as a modern and complicated mechanical watch on the model’s upcoming 60th anniversary in 1991. The team planned a slew of models to drive home the point that Reverso and Jaeger-LeCoultre were back.

A new, much larger Reverso Grande Taille would recast the watch with the modern dimensions. Another 60th-anniversary edition would incorporate an exhibition back to display a finely decorated gold movement. Most ambitiously, a series of six limited editions would offer special complicated movements for Reverso’s rectangular confines. “Internally, they took the unusual step of showing everyone the sketches for the watches before they were built,” recalls Stephane Belmont. “Janek [Deleskiewicz, JLC’s head designer] sketched the watches, but nobody knew if it was feasible or if it would work. But for the employees, it was a question of survival. Whether it was feasible or not, they had to do it.”

The 60th-anniversary Reversos were launched in a large exhibition designed to reflect the inside of a Reverso case. While there were a few quibbles about the size of the Grande Taille, the watches were extraordinarily successful. The march of complications throughout the ’90s led to a progression of daring double-sided functions that effectively showcased the brand’s technical side and created a female audience for mechanical watchmaking long before other industry competitors could catch on.

The lessons of history are not lost on Rénier, who now presides over one of the most legacy-driven Reverso collections in the company’s history. “My take is that when you are authentic, in the codes and identity of the Maison, no matter the generation, people will understand and will be interested in your products,” she says. “I think our job is to share who we are, to be true to who we are, and not to try to make a story to attract a clientele.”

As Time Goes By

With its reimagined Kalpa collection, Parmigiani Fleurier introduces a new generation of collectors to an old standby of Hollywood’s leading men: the tonneau-shaped dress watch.

It is rarely absent from any list of the greatest films ever made, but Casablanca seems to possess few of the qualities considered mandatory in any modern production. The budget was minimal, the sets sparse. There is physical violence and passion, yet the quantities of both can seem sub-theraputic to any viewer raised on the bikinis-and-explosions style known—in its most enthusiastic excesses—as “Bay-hem” after the director who perfected it.

What, then, is the secret of Casablanca’s enduring appeal? Only this: glamour, in its purest form. We see it in the peerless, refined beauty of Ingrid Bergman, in a Morocco rendered alternately as unspeakably vital and irredeemably louche. Most of all, we see it in the world-weary Arctic cool of Humphrey Bogart’s idealist turned restaurateur, the man who “stuck his neck out for nobody”—until, that is, the right (or wrong, depending on your viewpoint) somebody walked into his gin joint. Not a gentleman in the traditional sense of the term, he nonetheless is to the manor born in shawl collars, Burberry coat, and carelessly tilted fedora. On his wrist, a tonneau-shaped wristwatch with no pretense of sport or military use, and an unashamed focus on form over function.

The stunning Kalpa Qualité Fleurier, part of Parmigiani’s latest collection.

Our decidedly glamour-free current era, in which volume serves in place of virtue everywhere from Hollywood to Instagram, has been decidedly unkind to the dress watch in general, and the tonneau-shaped dress watch in particular. If there are any expatriate-owned bars placed daringly at the crossroads of violently-contested war zones nowadays, their owners are probably wearing chunky dive watches or aviation-themed behemoths. Not to say there isn’t a market for a watch that remixes Hollywood glamour with haute horlogerie; it simply means that any potential player in that market will have to clear a higher bar than the ones that guard entrances elsewhere.

Enter Parmigiani Fleurier, a Swiss outfit that finds itself in dire need of an unmet challenge. No stranger to the timekeeping equivalent of Bay-hem—the most outlandish watchmakers often source components from Parmigiani’s five distinct factories and workshops—the company, and its founder, Michel Parmigiani, are equally versed in the rarer art of the non-sporting men’s watch. Having accomplished everything from a sub-four-millimeter self-winding tourbillon to pantograph-articulation hands, Mr. Parmigiani has set his sights on something at once simple and murderously difficult: re-engineering the tonneau for modern wear.

Two decades after the debut of his first shaped movement, the award-winning PF110, we have the new Kalpa collection. It consists of four pieces: the Hebdomadaire, the Qualité Fleurier, the Chronor, and the Chronomètre. Each casts a tonneau shadow befitting Bogart and his contemporaries, introducing the subtle felicities of a curved rectilinear case to a generation rarely exposed to anything beyond the dull, heavy pressure of the bathysphere-thick diver.

The Kalpa Chronor, which uses the world’s first solid gold integrated self-winding chronograph movement.

“I set out,” says Mr. Parmigiani, “with the ambition to create a watch that was comfortable and ergonomic for all wrists… I wanted to create a piece whose dimensions were as universal as possible. I was also keen that the watch should be felt comfortably when the opposite hand was placed on the wrist… You can hardly feel the watch, yet it’s most certainly there!”

To that end, there is hardly a straight line to be found on the timepiece, with the lugs emerging almost organically as ovalized protrusions at each corner, and bending to follow the contours of a human wrist. As a result, the Kalpa makes a notable amount of contact with the wearer’s body. All the better to lighten the weight from cases rendered in precious rose and red gold. For the flagship Kalpa Chronor, mass does increase, albeit courtesy of the world’s first solid-gold integrated self-winding chronograph movement. As with each of the four Kalpa models, the caliber itself mimics the shape and proportions of the enclosing case. Here, Mr. Parmigiani does not mince words: “When you consider the horological masterpieces of the past, you never find any discordance between a movement and its case.”

Manual-wind enthusiasts and long-term fans of the brand will adore the radical Hebdomadaire, with its power-reserve indicator occupying a sort of alcove above an oval inset dial. Meanwhile, the Qualité Fleurier offers a self-winding mechanism and the collection’s subtle visual presentation, its time-and-date-only dial and Hermès alligator strap a lesson in striking restraint. Both are sized at approximately 42 x 32 mm, while the Chronomètre is larger, at 48 x 40 mm. The latter is perhaps at once the most conventional-looking piece in the lineup and the most handsome. It nestles a 36,000 vph column-wheel chronograph movement (code name PF362) behind a deep sapphire-blue face, with luminescent hands and a three-numeral date indicator. The modest water-resistance rating of 30 meters, a deliberate choice by Mr. Parmigiani, is sure to bring smiles to the faces of cognoscenti, as will the heavily engraved 22-karat rotor, shining brilliantly through the sapphire backing.

Transparent backing on the Kalpa Chronor, showcasing Parmigiani’s solid gold PF365 movement.

Parmigiani Fleurier is venerated as being a complete manufacture, among the few to spring from the imagination of a single man in recent times. So the introduction of four mechanically diverse watches at the same time amounts to nothing less than a tour de forceparticularly given the intense challenges involved in creating a solid-gold movement to modern standards of durability and accuracy. At the same time, an extremely limited scope of production (the Chronor is limited to 50 pieces, and the entire Kalpa remains statistically nonexistent when considered against traditional, mainstream luxury watchmakers) will restrict the possibility of ownership to those customers who possess the nontrivial quantities of both liquidity and perspicacity. The man in the street might scoff at the lack of a rotating bezel or crown guard. But those who know—will know.

In a perfectly romantic world, these four Kalpa models would easily and naturally make their way to the ones who know, to adorn their wrists as they pursue affairs of the heart or participate in matters of international intrigue. But progress must be recognized. Keeping pace in the era of liquid-crystal afflictions, Parmigiani has also created a KALPA smartphone application, which promises an immersive, augmented-reality retail experience. The prospective buyer can “unlock the mysteries” of the new pieces by scanning photographs that appear on the Parmigiani website. It’s a neat trick, but if you can manage it, try meeting the collection in person. Because if the new Kalpa watches disappear from boutiques and you haven’t tried one, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

Omega Attacks! The Return of #SpeedyTuesday

Watch out! 

A monster of a surprise has struck an unsuspecting watch-buying public once again…

(when you found out the #SpeedyTuesday Speedmaster was sold out)

The event occurred Tuesday, July 10, at approximately 6 a.m. Absolutely no one (and no wallet) was declared safe. Because, on this average summer day, Omega quietly snuck a new #SpeedyTuesday Speedmaster Limited Edition 42mm “Ultraman” under the radar, capturing watch enthusiasts off-guard. Tensions were high as collectors the world over debated how to avert this intense emotional decision. To buy or not to buy? Sadly, the Monster Attack Team was unavailable to aid in this crisis. The clock was ticking. What to do?

How did we get here? Flashback to 1967, when Japanese television introduced the science-fiction program “Ultraman.” A phenomenon of epic proportion, the show went on to reach mythological status, inspiring countless sequels and spin-offs. Among them, “Return of Ultraman” from 1970, in which the black-and-orange Omega Speedmaster was featured as an essential piece of the Monster Attack Team’s kit. Fact and fiction merged, the kaiju (“giant monster”) genre flourished, and the Moonwatch became part of Japanese sci-fi history.

Ultraman battles Oxter (Buffalo Monster) in Episode 30 of Return of Ultraman. 

This new 42mm Speedmaster is a fitting tribute; sci-fi design references abound. Ultraman’s superhero mode lasted approximately three minutes, indicated by a trio of orange markers on subdial at three o’clock. The strap-changing tool, made to look like Ultraman’s Beta Capsule, also holds an ultraviolet light; when illuminated, it reveals Ultraman’s hidden image on the nine o’clock subdial. The Speedy’s familiar caseback engraving (“FLIGHT-QUALIFIED BY NASA FOR ALL MANNED SPACE MISSIONS * THE FIRST WATCH WORN ON THE MOON”) is complemented by a unique serial number and #SpeedyTuesday etching, plus a vintage Omega logo and an orange-striped NATO strap, which matches the Monster Attack Team orange uniforms.

Still debating on how to handle this unsought and unsolicited pressure? Crisis averted. As of 8:15 a.m., all 2,012 pieces of the limited-run #SpeedTuesday Ultraman collection (retail: $7,100) have already sold out.

Gomen’nasai, tokei wa kanbaidesu. So sorry, the watch is sold out.

But! Like any good reoccurring installment, you won’t have to wait long: Netflix recently announced a new animated Ultraman series, slated for 2019. Chances are #SpeedyTuesday #3 will someday be appearing on a monitor near you.

Farewell, Ultraman! (for now).

https://youtu.be/kwOKA6mkUU8
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