Nostalgia for the golden age of motorsport is alive and well at TAG Heuer, which is revisiting Gulf Oil’s victory in the 1968 24 Hours of Le Mans with the Formula 1 Gulf Special Edition. Encased in steel, the 43 mm quartz chronograph features a notched steel bezel and an aluminum ring with a tachymeter scale. The blue-and-orange color scheme on the dial as well as a caseback engraved with the Gulf logo
are subtly elegant reminders of the model’s historic origins.
Tailor-made for stylish sailors or anyone who aspires to look the part, the new Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph from Swiss-German watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen belongs to the brand’s “Summer Editions” collection. With its blue dial, sturdy blue rubber strap and water resistant 43.5 mm stainless steel case, the piece has good looks to spare. But it’s the manufacture caliber with flyback function that truly elevates this sporty chronograph.
Surveying the heroes of the Brooklyn food scene with a selection of fine chronographs.
Photographs by Doug Young
It’s almost as easy to lampoon the great awakening of American eating (“The chicken’s name was Colin. Here are his papers.”) as it is easy to lampoon modern-day Brooklyn (“Nah man, Martha’s, that new artisanal mayonnaise spot.”) But the fedora foodies are moving to Ohio, and the half-cocked concept joints closing down, leaving behind only the smartest, realest, most passionate culinary characters. The kind of characters that made Brooklyn’s food scene so remarkable to begin with. The kind of characters that make modern dining feel like a privilege.
In recognition, we spent two days touring the borough, catching up with its most exciting and influential local chefs. We talked about food and progress and the city. Then we dressed them in exciting and influential chronographs, newcomers and mainstays, and photographed them inside the kitchen.
Each chef had a different way of thinking about food. But they all agreed on one thing: It’s a damn good time to be cooking (and dining) in Brooklyn.
Name: Chef T.J. Steele
Known for: Spending more than a decade in Mexico, embedded with local cooks and mezcaleros, then returning to New York and blowing minds.
He says: “All the décor comes straight from my friends in Oaxaca. The bar tiles are from Francisco Toledo and Dr. Lakra. They did the murals, too. There was this famous cantina down there, and it had a mural with three pigs cooking a woman. So we kinda did our own thing with it. Three goats. Pretty great, right?”
They say: “Old-school Brooklyn baking is very much Italian, very traditional. New Brooklyn is lot of people like us. More casual, more home-style. When we came here in 1999, it was all delis, you know? Now there’s a coffee shop on every corner.”
Four & Twenty Blackbirds 439 3rd Avenue (718) 499-2917
Name: Chef Dale Talde
Known for: Besides finishing sixth on Top Chef? Probably the pretzeled dumplings.
He says: “There’s an ability to take risks out here. Maybe more so before, when rent was cheap. It was the Wild West. When we opened, I couldn’t name another restaurant on Seventh Ave. Did I think I’d still be serving that pretzel dish six years later? No. But I’m happy doing it, because that’s what the neighborhood wants. This restaurant belongs to their neighborhood. If you’re a chef, and you haven’t caught onto that yet, you’re fucking lost.”
Talde 369 Seventh Avenue (347) 916-0031
Name: Chef Erin Shambura
Known for: Creating a buzzy, wine-focused Italian restaurant that actually lives up to the hype.
Wearing: Hermès Arceau Chrono Titane, $5,100; hermes.comShe says: “We wanted a 1950s Italy feel, but in a modern-day Brooklyn setting. I lived in the Veneto, about 30 kilometers from Venice. The traditional, hand-extruded pasta has sentimental value to me. We’ve got this Tajarin, an egg-based noodle, a play on carbonara, so instead of heavy black pepper in the sauce, the black pepper is in the actual noodle. We’re serving it with ramps, house-cured pancetta, finished with an organic egg … People have so much more knowledge about food than they ever have. They’re eating so many more things. So we can have the pastas, but also sardines and whole fish, presented on the bone. It’s beautiful.”
Fausto 348 Flatbush Avenue (917) 909-1427
Name: Chef Vincent Fraissange & Cat Alexander
Known for: One of the borough’s smartest seasonal menus, dished up at an unpretentious bistro hidden under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
They say: “We got married three years ago, and started a catering company. We were looking for spaces, basically a commissary kitchen, and saw the ‘For Lease’ sign. We live like a block away, and this was a famous butcher shop in the neighborhood, Graham Avenue Meats, a staple for like thirty years. Once we signed the lease, we were like, ‘Man, the neighborhood really needs a restaurant.’ So we just went for it.”
Pheasant 445 Graham Avenue (718) 675-5588
Name: Chef Justin Bazdarich
Known for: Initiating Brooklynites to gourmet-level, rustic wood-fired eats.
Wearing: Patek Philippe Ref. 5905P Chronograph with Annual Calendar, $78,250; patek.com
He says: “My other restaurants [Speedy Romeo] have wood-burning ovens. At first, New York City said we couldn’t have a wood-burning grill. We had to figure out all this stuff with permitting, but we got it done. So I’m sticking with that wood-fired theme here [at Oxomoco], but just doing Mexican cuisine.”
Iceland is defined by its lack of humanity. Instead of being edited by men, chopped down and drilled into and paved over, this place was shaped by nature. Rainfall and erosion, volcanic eruption and glacial collapse, life and death and the rightful order of things, all conspiring with the passing of time to shape the most beautiful natural landscape on the planet. We see something like that, and we want to understand.
So it’s only natural that we create devices to mark the hours, weeks, decades—to measure then and now and record the change. Few men contributed more to that endeavor than the horologist Antoine LeCoultre. During the 19th century, his name became synonymous with innovation and accuracy; later, it was spelled out across the dials of icons, like the Reverso, the Geophysic, and the Polaris Memovox.
The latter watch, a midcentury landmark, famously introduced an underwater alarm function for intrepid divers. This year, Jaeger-LeCoultre is releasing an updated version, instantly recognizable to anybody familiar with the original. Like its eponym, the new Polaris Memovox has the distinctive trapezoidal indices and vanilla-tinted lume hands, that sleek 42 mm case with its signature three-crown layout. But now the case is water-resistant to 200 meters. The hands are wider; the lume is brighter. The crowns are redesigned, tweaked ever so slightly, in the interest of improved ergonomics. Important changes, but small ones, shaped by the passing of time.
So when Alex Strohl made for Iceland, it’s only natural that he did so with a new Polaris Memovox on his wrist. The Spanish-born photographer took to the country’s scenic passes. He went freediving and explored on foot. He sailed across fjords and wheeled up mountains. And he photographed it all. Seeing it all through his lens, we can better understand the place—and, maybe, time itself—just a little better.
On the rich history (and promising future) of Seiko dive watches.
By Jack Baruth
Ku areba raku ari. This Japanese proverb is often equated to the English speaker’s “Every cloud has a silver lining,” but a more literal translation might be: “If you struggle through bitter effort, you will have ease.” In 1953, as Blancpain was fusing high style and high function to produce the Fifty Fathoms for recreational diving, then a burgeoning leisure activity, Seiko was still wading through the bitterness. It was the first year in which the company would match its prewar annual production record of 2.3 million clocks and watches—more than half of Japan’s entire output. This strong footing would leave Seiko free to reach for the stars. It did just that.
In short order, the brand developed an in-house standard for chronometer certification and, in 1960, a Grand Seiko luxury watch to meet that standard. When the Summer Olympics came to Tokyo, four years later, Seiko produced more than 1,000 precision timepieces for the event. It was, in many ways, a coming-out party for Japan in general and Seiko in particular—one in which all parties demonstrated not just a willingness, but an eagerness to compete on the global stage.
The “62MAS” 150m Diver of 1965 was Japan’s first dive watch. Its bidirectional rotating bezel and non-screw-down crown, placed at the three o’clock position, serve as proof that there was not yet an agreed-upon feature set for this category. Yet it proved to be a commercially successful timepiece, rugged enough for use in Japan’s 8th Antarctic Research Expedition. Early examples are, of course, must-have items for committed collectors of the brand. So, too, is the Model 6159 300m Diver, powered by the 36,000 vph “Hi-Beat” Grand Seiko movement, released in 1968.
Shortly thereafter, the company received a letter from a Hiroshima-area professional “saturation diver.” Seiko watch crystals, he complained, were prone to cracking during ascent, due to accumulation of the helium gas used in SAT diving. (He also pointed out their inability to endure accidental strikes on rocks and other underwater objects.) Seiko’s response was to devote seven years of research and development to one goal: Create a nearly indestructible diver’s watch.
When the Professional 600m appeared, in 1975, it featured a variety of cost-is-no-object solutions to that lofty challenge. It was antimagnetic, shock-resistant, and highly luminous. The case was made of titanium, a material that at the time was sourced primarily from the Soviet Union and was far more expensive than it is today. And while Swiss competitors of the era used helium relief valves to address the problem of cracking crystals, Seiko chose the more difficult and elaborate route of preventing helium entry in the first place, scrutinizing everything from case design to gasket compound. More research. More development.
Soon, the dive watch became Seiko’s showcase for technological advancements. Quartz movements arrived in 1978, followed by special ceramic coatings, a low-battery warning feature, and a 1000m rating for new variants of the Professional. When dive computers replaced wristwatches for most commercial and deep-water divers, Seiko responded by creating function-over-form quartz watches, which incorporated all the features of a dive computer (including depth sensors).
At the same time, the firm continued developing its everyday-use dive watches by fielding variants with Kinetic and, eventually, Spring Drive movements. Today, there are Seiko dive watches for nearly every taste and budget, including the SNZH55 and its sibling variants of the Seiko 5, which are often modified in the aftermarket to create “Fifty-Five Fathoms” tributes to the Blancpain original.
This year, Seiko is releasing a collection of six Prospex-branded divers’ watches, an homage to—and developments of—its distinguished lineage in this area. The S23626 and S23627 are recreations of the landmark thousand-meter 1978 quartz Professional, with titanium cases and an optional Cermet ceramic/metal composite coating in violet gold.
The remaining four are derived from the 1968 300m Model 6159, which has maintained an evergreen popularity with collectors. The SLA025 is a highlight. Limited to 1,500 pieces, each priced at $5,400, this piece uses Hi-Beat 36,000 vph movement and, in terms of design language, is the most faithful to the original. (Note the monoblock case and excellent silicone strap.) Customers wanting a more modern interpretation can choose the SLA019, which features a green ceramic bezel, a metal bracelet, and the 28,000 vph Caliber 8L35 which is an undecorated and unregulated variant of a Grand Seiko movement. It retails for $3,250 and, appropriately, is limited to 1,968 pieces.
But most pertinent for the majority of American Seiko fanatics is the “1968 Automatic Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation SPB077 and SPB079.” These are modern watches, powered by the hacking and hand-wound 6R15 caliber, and scaled to current tastes at a 44 mm case diameter. The SPB077 features a metal bracelet and black bezel, but our eyes were drawn to the silicone-strap SPB079 and its steel-blue bezel. It pays honest tribute to the look of the Model 6159 while also providing a few contemporary changes, such as an arrow hour hand and slightly smaller luminous markers. It retails at $850—sound value for a Japanese-made diver’s watch with ties to both past and present.
By providing everything from a by-the-numbers re-creation to a spirit-of-the-thing modern everyday watch, Seiko is displaying its ability to connect with customers and collectors on their own terms. They’re attracted to the brand because of its endearing ability to be both serious and playful, all while maintaining (and growing) what has become an enviable legacy. It has always been a substantial effort. But, in creating these new Prospex pieces, Seiko has never seemed so unencumbered. Ku areba raku ari. If you struggle through bitter effort, you will have ease.
Speed freaks will appreciate the story behind Baume & Mercier’s Clifton Club Indian model, which pays tribute to Burt Munro, the New Zealander who set—and still holds—the record for the fastest speed reached on an Indian motorcycle, a feat he accomplished in 1967, at age 68, riding across Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats. Fifty years later, the watchmaker honors Munro’s daring spirit with this limited-edition automatic chronograph.
The aesthetics of enlisted men have been kicking off fashion crazes for centuries, often by way of civilian trendsetters. Consider Humphrey Bogart’s trench coat, Tom Cruise’s Ray Bans, Andy Warhol’s camouflage prints. Or, in the case of the pilot’s wristwatch, Charles Lindbergh and Professor Philip Weems.
The evolution of the aviation watch from a practical instrument to modern wardrobe staple is woven into “Time and Navigation,” on display at The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. The exhibit explores how the intersection of time and navigation has changed and shaped our world over the last three centuries. It’s broken up into four sections: seagoing navigation, space navigation, satellite navigation, and air navigation. The latter is of particular interest, as it highlights the unique challenges associated with adapting techniques that worked at sea for use in the air.
Artifacts on show include early chronometers, sextants, and charts used by famous aviators. There’s also interwar flying gear and all types of radio equipment, plus the crystal oscillator of the 1920s, which electrically vibrated a crystal, measured its resonance, and gave the time down to the microsecond. But the real treasure is the 1930s-era Longines’ Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch — and the story behind it.
Navigation during the pioneering days of aviation was a struggle. Airplanes weren’t ideal places to do mathematical calculations: there was an open cockpit, pilots wore thick gloves, and the sky was often obscured, making it difficult to see the horizon. Also, the tools weren’t good. Accuracy suffered; pilots didn’t always end up where they thought they were going.
Roger Connor, curator of the “Time and Navigation” exhibition, says that on Charles Lindbergh’s famous 1927 flight from New York to Paris, he didn’t bring a radio or a sextant because they simply didn’t work very well. These tools were also heavy, and he’d rather carry extra fuel to accommodate for navigational errors. Incredibly, when Lindbergh became the first person to make a nonstop solo transatlantic flight, he did so using a compass and a clock.
But he was nicknamed “Lucky Lindy” for a reason: on the day of his historic trip, the net wind drift across the Atlantic was zero, ideal conditions for navigation. After he made headlines, other pilots thought the trip would be equally as easy; many were injured or killed trying to replicate similar flights. Soon, aviators realized the complexities of negotiating long-range flying.
“Lindbergh himself got lost a couple times (while flying) and finally the lightbulb goes on for him that he needs to figure out how to navigate, because no one else had figured out how to navigate well in an airplane,” explains Connor. “He started asking around and finally someone told him, ‘Oh, this P.V.H. Weems guy has been doing a lot of work on this problem and he’s got some pretty good ideas.’”
Philip Van Horn Weems, an Olympic wrestler and Annapolis graduate, was a decorated veteran of both World Wars and the Godfather of modern avigation. As a US naval officer in the late 1920s and early 1930s, he’d pursued new ways of approaching navigation, ultimately creating a new standard for tabulating Greenwich hour angle to improve accuracy, a technique that the military would use for another three decades. This development earned him a position teaching at the Naval Academy at the dawn of precision flying and, later, early space travel. In 1953, Weems was awarded the Magellanic Premium for his contributions to navigation, an honor that has been given only 33 times since its establishment in 1786.
But as far as his developments have gotten him, Weems had a humble beginning: he started with a simple Waltham torpedo boat wristwatch, which was a standard early 20th century military chronometer. He added a hacking feature to it, meaning he could continually adjust it to the second. This new “hack” watch allowed airplane navigators to set the time on their watches using radio signals, instead of setting their time in port like they did with ships.
“Why is this a big deal? Well, if you can’t adjust it to the second, you might be up to thirty seconds off the minute, even if it’s technically set accurately,” Connor explains. “And that type of inaccuracy could mean you’re flying a few miles off of the equator, so it’s a big error. The ability to set the watch to the second really simplifies the process of calculation, and that’s what it’s all about in the airplane: you have to do it quickly and easily.”
After the two men met in 1928, Weems gave Lindbergh one of these second-setting watches and taught him how to use it. Soon after, the Navy assigned Weems to teach Lindbergh celestial navigation, which differs from traditional navigation because the movement of the stars is slightly different than that of the sun. The two came up with the idea of a watch that measured celestial time, so that airplane navigators didn’t have to work out corrections mathematically. Instead, they’d just check the time on their wrist.
Lindbergh and Weems went to Longines with the idea of creating the Hour Angle Watch, which used Weems’s method of calculating the celestial fix. The bezel and dial of the watch would “allow navigators to read off the hour angle of a celestial object at Greenwich, eliminating a simple but troublesome calculation.” Longines was ecstatic at the idea of making a Lindbergh watch, and aggressively marketed the collection in the mid-1930s. Because of Lindbergh’s fame, the watches became wildly popular, and not just among aviators. In doing so, the duo became unlikely sartorial heroes, making the flight-ready aesthetic into a salable item, helping blaze a trail for decades of high-style, aero-inspired timepieces.
“The aviation watch became a fashion accessory and it’s funny because, going back to Lindbergh and Weems, they’re the ones who actually kind of created that fashion craze,” Connor explains. “The practical watches had big knobs so you could adjust them with those thick pilot gloves on, but obviously they were shrunk down for the fashion watch. It wasn’t really for aviators anymore, it was really so you could walk around and say, ‘Oh yeah, I have a Lindbergh watch.’”
With the so-called “blood moon” happening tonight due to the longest lunar eclipse of the century, prophecies and conspiracy theories are predicting the worst. Now might be the perfect time to arm yourself with an extraordinary moon phase. Lasting an impossible to believe 103 minutes, the next total lunar eclipse of this length won’t occur again until 2123.
Feel the pull and predict your lunar energy within the confines of a dazzling complicated timepiece. Charge it now, enjoy, and wait for a new day to dawn. Visible from every country on earth except the US, at least you’ll be able to gaze upon wristwatch magnificence.
Bulgari’s new watch pays homage to both the past and the future.
By Emily Selter
Photos by Doug Young
Emperor Caracalla, who ruled the Roman Empire from 211 until 217 A.D., was notorious for his cruelty. After ordering the assassination of his brother Geta, and murdering more than 10,000 of his sibling’s supporters, Caracalla enacted a damnatio memoriae, a “condemnation of memory.” This edict made it a capital offense to even utter Geta’s name. Sculptures that depicted him were destroyed, coins bearing his image were melted, and his moniker was wiped from papyrus records. Caracalla himself was assassinated six years later, but passing a damnatio memoriae on his name would have been futile. His memory will never be expunged from history—one of civilization’s largest and most important ancient monuments bears his name.
The Baths of Caracalla were completed in 217 A.D., and were among the grandest public structures of their type in ancient Rome. The expansive complex encompassed saunas, salons, studios—even athletic facilities. They fell into disuse after the city was sacked but, miraculously, the pozzolana and marble edifice still stand today. The site contains numerous artistic treasures, from elaborate sculptures to ancient mosaics. Scholars and archaeologists have spent almost two centuries excavating and restoring the baths, but the monument remains shrouded in its own unique mythos, holding on tightly to its many secrets.
Treasures like these are what draw people to Rome from near and far; even after centuries, the city’s remarkable ancient ruins are a continual source of fascination. They are especially beloved by the proud Roman luxury goods brand Bulgari. Founded in the Eternal City in 1884, the company has long sponsored cultural conservation in its hometown. Recent endeavors include the painstaking (and dazzling) restoration of the Spanish Steps, the grand staircase between the Piazza di Spagna and Trinità dei Monti church, and, yes, a section of tiles in the famed Baths of Caracalla.
The polychrome-marble mosaic flooring, located in the structure’s western gymnasium, had been in complete disrepair. (It also hadn’t been seen by the public in more than four decades; in an attempt to prevent further degradation, the tiles were covered with fabric and soil.) In 2015, Bulgari helped fund a complex, multiphase restoration effort. The following year, CEO Jean-Christophe Babin joined local officials in revealing the mosaic, a pattern of undulating geometric triangles crafted from brightly saturated tiles. It earned praise in the arts community, and garnered international news coverage.
Still, Bulgari’s investment in preserving Roman relics extends beyond goodwill or recognition. The brand’s designers frequently take inspiration from these monuments, channeling the city’s vibrant past to create some of the world’s most innovative watches and jewelry. Look closely, and you’ll see the shape of sidewalk joints along the glamorous Via dei Condotti reinterpreted as a bracelet link; the Spanish Steps in the arrangement of a diamond necklace; the Baths of Caracalla mosaic pattern in pendants and earrings of the Divas’ Dream Collection. Modern riffs on that rich Roman pedigree that Bulgari continues to protect.
Similarly, the new Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon represents a clever (and seamless) blending of classic references with contemporary materials and applications, a striking integration of the past and future, old-world Italian craftsmanship gone high-tech.
As the name suggests, this new timepiece is made out of an epoxy thermosetting resin called Carbon Thin Ply, or CTP. The material is remarkably strong and incredibly lightweight. But it can be difficult and time-consuming to manufacture, and Bulgari hadn’t worked with the composite before developing this new Octo model.
“The challenge of using this material was to transform its constraints into an opportunity to develop and propose a stunning timepiece,” says Fabrizio Buonamassa, the director of Bulgari’s Watches Design Center.
Traditionally, getting quality sound transmission from a minute repeater case demanded roominess and rigidity. Rose gold has long been the default choice, joined, in recent years, by titanium. But CTP is lighter than either, and offers unique physical advantages—namely the rare acoustic properties of its polymers. Buonamassa went a step further with the Octo Carbon’s design, with strategic incisions that amplify resonance inside the case, compensating for the absence of substantial internal volume. This allowed Bulgari to employ its in-house BVL 362 movement, the world’s thinnest repeater caliber, while still endowing the Octo Carbon with powerful sound output.
Incredibly, the new watch is just 6.85 mm thick, nearly 10 percent louder than an equivalent titanium piece, and weighs less than a regulation PGA golf ball.
But this isn’t some hollow, artless technical study. True to the brand, Buonamassa paired his super-progressive design to ancient motifs, naming architectural elements among his inspirations. (The octagon was a common interior detailing motif in Roman antiquity.) Owing to variations inherent to CTP, the patterns and textures of each case and dial are unique. Like the Via dei Condotti or Spanish Steps or Baths of Caracalla, or Bulgari itself, every Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon is one of a kind, a timeless entity, simultaneously a product of Rome and, above all else, totally unforgettable.
The name of Nomos Glashütte’s brand new Autobahn model says it all: Designed by celebrated product designer Werner Aisslinger as an ode to speed—and the vintage race cars from the 1960s and ’70s that embodied it—the piece features a concave dial whose edge is curved like the outside lane of a racetrack. Equipped with the new Neomatik date caliber, the 41 mm timepiece, four years in the making, is available in three dial colors: white silver-plated, “sports gray,” and this midnight blue.
A cornerstone of Omega’s 2018 introductions, the Seamaster Diver 300M line—introduced in 1993 and completely overhauled this year—now features a larger 42 mm case and a slew of aesthetic and technical updates, including a ceramic diving bezel, polished ceramic dial, and newly patented conical helium escape valve. The timepiece also has a hidden perk: its Master Chronometer Calibre 8800, known for its superior precision and magnetic resistance.
Introduced on the eve of World Oceans Day, the Bremont Waterman is a limited-edition dive watch from the U.K.-based brand and its ambassador, Mark Healey, a big-wave surfer, freediver and ocean environmentalist who helped test the timepiece while riding some of the world’s biggest waves. Equipped with a unidirectional rotating bezel with Super-LumiNova, an automatic helium escape valve and crown protector, and water resistance to 500 meters, the 43 mm stainless steel watch also boasts GMT functionality.
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.
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.
At first glance, the Source of Life Limited Edition from Oris is a handsome dive watch complete with standard features such as a unidirectional rotating bezel, applied indices filled with Super-LumiNova and water resistance to 300 meters. But beneath its surface, the model—whose caseback is embossed with a map of the 766-mile River Rhine—is described by the Swiss watchmaker as a “philosophical watch,” intended to draw attention to water’s life-sustaining properties.
$2,200 on rubber strap, $2,400 on stainless-steel bracelet; oris.ch
Around the turn of the last century, Ulysse Nardin began supplying deck chronometers to the U.S. Navy. This 50-piece limited edition wristwatch featuring a stars-and-stripes dial decoration in red, white, and blue pays tribute to that little-known relationship, which continued until the early 1950s. Appealing to fans of Ulysse Nardin and patriotic watch lovers alike, the skeletonized timepiece was introduced on—you guessed it—Independence Day.
Porsche enthusiasts are a lot like other car enthusiasts. They’ve got lingo (“slant nose,” “Moby Dick,” “PDK”), icons (Bruce Canepa) and iconoclasts (Magnus Walker), a pedantic hierarchy (964 Carrera 911 RS trumps 996 911 GT3 RS, but both lose to 911 Carrera 2.7 RS). What makes Porsche enthusiasts unique is the degree of clubbiness, the vaguely secretive vibe. The ferocity of the mystique.
You can see how they got there. At their best, cars from Stuttgart are as involving and gratifying as any on the planet. The brand, as its devotees will remind you, has a long tradition of building innovative racing prototypes, ballsy street-legal sports cars, and exclusive special-edition models that blend the best elements of each. But the rarest Porsches tend to be kept under wraps. The company’s own museum meters out public appearances; private collectors are, understandably, hesitant to run irreplaceable, multimillion-dollar machines at the racetrack.
Held every third year (or thereabouts) since 2001, this vintage racing event is billed as the world’s largest gathering of Porsches. Derek Bell and Bruce Canepa and Magnus Walker are there, along with nearly 60,000 other zealots, letting their freak flag fly. So are the 964 RS, 996 GT3 RS, and 2.7 RS, plus virtually every significant Porsche racing car from the past seven decades, including Le Mans winners, like the 917 and 962.
All told, some 330 cars take to the circuit, the location of which varies depending on the year. Past venues include historic Lime Rock Park, in Connecticut, and Daytona Speedway. Rennsport Reunion VI (September 27-30, 2018) is scheduled to take place at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, in Monterey, California.
To mark the occasion, Porsche Design has created a new timepiece, the Chronotimer Rennsport Reunion VI Limited Edition. It pays homage to event, but also to the original Chronograph I, released in 1972. That piece helped put Porsche Design on the map; the company reportedly sold some 50,000 examples, more than a few of which wound up on the wrists of pro drivers.
Like the Chronograph I, the Chronotimer Rennsport Reunion VI Limited Edition has a distinctive matte-black finish, a nod to the instrument panels in the cockpits of racing cars. The 42mm carbide-coated titanium case is black, as is the dial; the sapphire crystal backing allows for a clear view of the automatic Valjoux movement. It all hangs on a black calfskin strap made from “original Porsche interiors,” replete with red contrast stitching. Each watch features a unique numbered engraving.
Each Rennsport Reunion feels like a rare and special thing, and this new Porsche Design watch aims to capture that sentiment. Accordingly, it’s limited to a scant 70 pieces, distributed only within the U.S. Other car enthusiasts might not see the appeal. But Porsche fanatics? The want for this one will be downright ferocious.
Products need only last as long as a glimpse at Instagram, so what does good design mean now? For Dieter Rams, it has always been about purity, ever since he started his industrial design career during the mid-1950s. Rams, who recently turned 86, served as the Chief Design Officer of Braun from 1961 until 1995; his famed “Ten Principals of Good Design,” and its influence on everyday objects, especially technology and electronics, remains unparalleled. An upcoming auction at Wright in Chicago (July 12th) celebrates the German’s prolific career and continued legacy, sending more than 130 of seminal products by Rams’ and his Braun colleagues across the block.
Nearly everything in this collection, sourced from Los Angeles connoisseur-and-dealer JF Chen, is fascinating. Here, Watch Journal narrows the scoping, picking out a few favorite lots to illustrate Rams’s “Ten Principals.”
Dieter Rams: The JF Chen Collection, Chicago, July 12, 2018; wright20.com
About the photographer:Junichi Ito was born and raised in Tokyo. Based in New York since 2005, he has photographed major commercial campaigns for Armani, Barneys, Estée Lauder, Moët & Chandon, Nike, and Victoria’s Secret. He has also shot original editorial content for Allure, Fast Company, Real Simple, Vogue Japan, and Wallpaper. His Instagram is a must-follow.
And now, for something completely different—but not so you’d notice.
Inside the Hybrid Manufacture’s 42 mm case sits a 33-jewel, self-winding mechanical movement, driving the conventional second, hour, minute, and date functions. The twist? Built into this caliber is a battery-powered digital module, which, via subdial display and iPhone app, brings next-gen functionality, including sleep tracking and fitness coaching. It also logs analytics for the mechanical movement, measuring rate and beat error, and adds a worldtime complication.
Apple’s third-generation digital connectivity wearable has been with us for several months now, and it’s proven itself moderately desirable, moderately useful, and, one imagines, moderately frustrating for the folks in Cupertino. Apple has addressed every issue users brought to their attention—did their best to fix every problem, real and perceived. Yet its utility is being challenged by “hearable” assistants, like Google’s Alexa, and although sales are very respectable, well…
There are some who say the Apple Watch’s most notable accomplishment has been replacing the rudeness of checking your phone while someone’s talking to you with the more traditional rudeness of looking at your watch while someone is talking to you. That’s absolutely unfair, because whatever its cultural niche, this latest version of the device is a technical marvel, and should be acknowledged as such. To be clear: It’s the first mass-market smartwatch that’s so good that it’s possible to top asking whether or not it’s capable and start asking whether or not it’s desirable. And that’s an intriguing question.
Because what the Apple Watch does, it now does very well indeed. The battery-life issue has been addressed, and a full charge will see you clear for a couple days’ worth of normal use, even in the honeymoon stage when you’re texting people from your wrist with the thrill of novelty once felt only by phoning people from the plane. Voice assistant Siri is now more or less seamlessly integrated, meaning that if works for you on your phone it’ll work for you here. And the slow, stuttering interface has been remedied with new, faster processors, so response to input is now instant. On the main screen, as you roll through the array of app icons with a careful finger, the tiny symbols move so smoothly it’s like they’re suspended in oil. It’s a very pleasant GUI-based illusion, and reinforces the feeling of deep quality that carries through the entire experience; even the haptic feedback is well-considered, with the watch responding to your taps and long presses with crisp, sharp little raps of its own, not the wheezing, asthmatic whirr of some competing devices.
Even the added capabilities function well—within the limits of current technologies, at any rate. The 3’s biggest hype point has been its ability to break free of phone tethering, allowing the owner to knock about town without a phone ruining the line of their slacks—more likely, their running togs, if we’re being honest—but also without the terrible social risks of breaking connectivity. All the basic phone functions are present on the Watch 3’s LTE connection, which is surprisingly strong and easy to set up; we experienced no appreciable loss of signal or function whether in Downtown L.A. or a Wisconsin state forest. Generally speaking, we found that if the iPhone shows a couple of bars, your watch will work, allowing you to get texts and make calls right on your wrist, if you wind up liking that kind of thing. (More about that later.)
As it stands, though, the aforementioned limits of current technologies come right to the forefront when you realize how much battery power you’re burning when the Watch 3 is off on its own. You’ll have to toss it back on the charger after a freewheeling outing of any reasonable length of time. Potentially bad news for runners, a group Apple has targeted particularly hard: You’ll most likely want to have a full charge before tackling anything more than 10 miles, assuming you’re tracking progress, getting messages, and listening to music over Bluetooth, which is a safe assumption because why wouldn’t you? And once you’re back from this unusually sybaritic jog, the watch will most likely go right back on the charger.
But of course battery technology will improve, though so far it stubbornly refuses to obey anything like Moore’s Law of huge advances in short periods of time. And the platform is evolving; big news for devotees is that a Spotify app is coming this summer, which will allow users to opt out of at least a part of the Apple ecosystem. In short, the watch just keeps getting better. In fact, it works so well that it’s finally lifted the smartwatch from the status of interesting toy to that of possible tool.
“There’s a social hurdle, one aided and abetted by Apple itself. For many people, the smartphone replaced the wristwatch. Now the company wants us to buy a wristwatch to enhance the smartphone experience.”
That may be somewhat of a problem, or at least a situation. Here’s the thing: It took a while for people to adjust to taking phone calls in public, and some people still can’t do so within the bounds of the etiquette that evolved to fit the new social reality. The same thing happened with Bluetooth calling: Walking down the street talking into your phone was one thing, but walking down the street talking to nothing visible was quite another. Now we have the Dick Tracy option to speak into our wrist, which you will, because although the watch can interpret letters drawn on its screen, using voice-to-text is still the best way to respond to text messages, and we couldn’t find a Bluetooth device that worked anywhere near as well for that as speaking directly into the watch itself. And there’s the looking-at-your-watch thing again.
There’s another social hurdle to overcome, one aided and abetted by Apple itself. For many people, the smartphone replaced the wristwatch; now Apple wants us to buy a wristwatch to enhance the smartphone experience. Okay.
As beautifully and seamlessly as it works, the Apple Watch’s looks have always been somewhat less than beautiful. Because it’s locked into the brand’s minimalist, function-over-form design language, it’s basically a thick rectangular lozenge with a crown on the side. This is without a doubt the best—perhaps the only—choice for a touchscreen-based digital assistant, maximizing tactile real estate without metastasizing into an embarrassing digital lump. It’s a brilliant lozenge, as lozenges go, with the proportions carefully considered, the edges radiused just so, the single knob of the Digital Crown proportioned precisely and set in exactly the right place, the strap disappearing into the body of the watch so cleanly that you won’t notice it unless you make a point of looking. And isn’t there a long tradition of rectangular watches, from the Cartier Tank on down, for Apple to buy into?
Sure. But those are wristwatches. They have mystique. They tick and wind down and mark time whether you’re looking at them or not; to their users, they have a complex inner life, and if you doubt this you’re ignoring the long tradition of windows allowing you to view the movements and complications. People like to see their watches move, to literally see what makes them tick. But when you’re not using it, or receiving a notification, the Apple Watch simply goes blank. This robs the user of some of its best design, the digital watch faces, some of which are well-executed versions of standard dials, some of which are entertainingly weird, and all of which, sadly, disappear after a few seconds of inactivity. It’s a battery issue again, and it’s one the engineers have to get cracking on now, because having the Watch go blank is possibly a bigger problem for the watch as a product than the limited LTE connectivity.
One of the reasons early LED watches haven’t really caught on as classic collectibles, despite marking an interesting chapter in horology, is that unless the button was pressed to display the time, they were inert hunks of expensive billet. When LCD watches hit the market, with their lower power consumption allowing the time to be displayed constantly, designers found that incorporating some sort of motion made their gadgets much more desirable, which is why the colon flashes once a second on your vintage Casio. That it marks the passing seconds is, well, secondary—the fact is, people like the blinking “tick.” It’s the visible complication of the late 20th century.
Apple, on the other hand, from its computers to its phones to this watch, is notorious about concealing any sort of complications from the user. They most certainly do not want you to see what makes their stuff tick. That may work for media players and phones, but it ignores a large part of what the experience of luxury watch ownership is about. Whenever you look at it, or even happen to glance at it, or catch it in your peripheral vision, a traditional watch is dynamic by design; something is moving, a spinning tourbillon or sweeping second hand, or that flashing separator, but something. The Apple Watch is glossy, black, empty. It looks sleek in photos; in person, it suffers from a near-complete lack of presence. It’s one thing for Siri to be silent until you need her. But the Watch, when not actively telling you something, doesn’t do anything at all. It just looks… not dead, exactly, but certainly lifeless.
Those with a use for it, the hyper-connected and the hyper-fit, will like it, because it makes sense as a tool for those who run the world and those who just run. Those who don’t need it, though, will continue to have a hard time wanting it. That’s a shame, because the Apple Watch 3 is an exceptional wearable. And just a tick shy of being a brilliant watch.
Are connected chronographs the next big thing in competitive sailing?
Breitling thinks so. The 46 mm Yachting offers the same features as the other Bluetooth-enabled Exospace watches (text and call notifications, a dedicated smartphone app, digital/analog quartz movement, rapid USB charging). But there are now regatta-ready features, including split timing and a dedicated countdown system, allowing multiple resets to synchronize with the judge’s timer.
It’s happening slowly and all at once; more and more, tomorrow looks a lot like yesterday, run through a funhouse mirror. Did you see Star Trek: Discovery, the next-gen period piece that’s set a decade before the original series? Catch high-fashion’s astro-chic looks on the runways last year? Or hear that S.J. Clarkson, a young Netflix director, will helm the franchise’s next film? Welcome to life inside the supercollider of “back then” and “right now” and “in a moment.” It’s pretty weird in here.
It’s also harder than ever to put a finger on the zeitgeist. But that’s exactly what Girard-Perregaux is doing with its current collection. The latest entry into that heady catalog, the new Neo Tourbillon Three Bridges Skeleton, arrives steeped in tradition; its triple-arch layout, the brand’s signature motif, dates back to 1884. One hundred and thirty years later, Girard-Perregaux reinterpreted the idea with the Neo Tourbillon. The bridges, traditionally gold, have been enlarged and hewn from titanium, a nod to modern cable-stayed structures, like Southern France’s Millau Viaduct, the tallest in the world.
The new Skeleton conveys all that history, while also introducing decidedly futuristic design elements. Girard-Perregaux’s flagship automatic movement carries over here, composed of 260 components, with a lightweight, titanium tourbillon cage and 18k white gold micro-rotor, offering a 60-hour power reserve. But the 45 mm case is taller and, crucially, the baseplate is gone. Exposed screws now sit deep into the structure of the openwork movement, holding the polished and bevelled bridges in place.
Somehow, the resulting piece, a mash-up of heritage and progress, feels cohesive. The Neo Tourbillon Three Bridges Skeleton isn’t a limited-run proposition. But its $138,000 price point ensures exclusivity, and, in a way, it’s the rarest piece of all: one that’s both timely and timeless. Like the rest of Girard-Perregaux’s contemporary portfolio, it would look right on the wrist of William Shatner’s Kirk, or Patrick Stewart’s Piccard, or Jason Issacs’s Lorca, in any galaxy and on any planet, a watch sure to remain fashionable and collectible well into the future—even if that future is just a colorful sendup of the past…
Neo Tourbillon Three Bridges Skeleton
It starts with the case, steeply-cambered, anti-reflective-treated sapphire front glass and sapphire crystal caseback. Inside, the unidirectional, self-winding mechanical movement features a brilliant 18k white gold micro-rotor. Still, the bridges remain a highlight. They’re made of titanium, sandblasted, blackened via PVD process. Their shape is so complex, composed of interior angles, arches, extensions and overhangs, that their machining is a watchmaking feat in itself. The result is a taut and powerful shape. Gravity, mass, transparency—what do you need with a spaceship? This radical new skeleton has it all.
The L.M.’s avant-garde, titanium case contains an innovative solution to the age-old horological concern: how to maintain the precision and regularity of a mechanical watch. Introduced as a prototype in 2008, this award-winning movement uses an integrated, microscopic silicon blade; it serves as an intermediary device in the escapement, metering energy to ensure constant power delivery to the oscillator, and, in turn, constant amplitude and constant rate. Sound like science fiction? Consider this: Even with Girard-Perregaux’s master watchmakers gave ‘er all they had, the super-complicated L.M. still required eight years of research and development.
The Laureato is sports watch icon. Designed by a Milanese architecture studio, it was released in 1975, flourishing in an era that celebrated leisure for leisure’s sake. In 2016, Girard-Perregaux brought out a limited-edition re-release; it was so well-received, the brand upped the ante, bringing out a whole new range. This Laureato 42 mm beams the octagonal case styling of its iconic 1975 predecessor straight into the present, but brings two thoroughly modern touches: a handsome rubber strap in place of the old integrated bracelet, and the acclaimed mechanical GP01800 caliber (designed, produced, assembled, and adjusted in-house) in place of the original’s quartz movement.
That new Laureato collection? It now includes dozens of references, housed in a variety of case sizes and materials. Among them, a skeletonized ceramic, which uses a thin, suspended, indexed ring as a dial, in turn offering a glimpse deep into the heart of the movement, dubbed GP01800-006, those last three digits denoting a skeleton variant. It’s a self-winding labyrinth, comprised of 173 total components, sand-brushed and treated using a galvanic process (“anthracite gray ruthenium,” according to the Girard-Perregaux’s master watchmakers), decorated by hand in a “unique and contemporary manner.” Which is all to say: the Laureato Skeleton Ceramic is a collector siren. Resistance is futile.
Spending time at work, hours and minutes can often feel slow and deliberate. But when visiting a foreign city on vacation, rules change. Scheduling becomes irrelevant. In a recent issue of Watch Journal, we featured a travel story about Berlin, a city our friends at NOMOS Glashütte know well. Concurrently, the German watch brand brings us a new series of watches with a significant update: Tangente, Orion, and Ludwig, each with a radically redesigned caliber, the neomatik date DUW 6101. These pieces require less maintenance, provide greater precision, and offer super-legible date indicators. Perfect for getting the most out of a day in Berlin, a bustling city that demands punctuality.
The ideal watch to start the day, the Tangente easily synchronizes to local time (GMT +2). Gained or lost a day in transit? A simple turn of the crown sets the date backward or forward, with a cool, red marker that travels around the outer ring of the dial.
“This boutique hotel occupies an old public bathing house [designed by architect Ludwig Hoffmann in 1898]–the rooms still have some of the old features, and, more importantly, the swimming pool is open to all. We held an event here last summer to launch our Aqua series.”
– NOMOS Glashütte
10:30 am – Tour The Boros Collection, but keep an eye on the Tangente. The museum can only accommodate 12 people at a time, and German-language tours start on the full hour, English on the half-hour. Open Thursday thru Sunday, 10 am to 8 pm. (Make sure to book a viewing in advance.)
“Only in Berlin can you find 3,000 meters of exhibition space in a converted war bunker. We share the Boros’ love for clean and creative design, rooted in the 20th century but constantly in dialogue with today’s developments.”
Midday is ideal for contemplating great German design. The Ludwig has it in spades. Its date window sits at the 4 o’clock position, displayed in Arabic type—a smart, contrasting twist alongside the dial’s elegant Roman numerals.
“This is one of our favorite museums in Berlin, as it focuses on local art from the past 150 years, giving a real insight into the cultural history of the city.”
– NOMOS Glashütte
3:00 pm – Visit the Istanbul-inspired Turkish Bazaar. Again, timing is everything here. The open-air market is only open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 11:30 am to 6:30 pm.
“NOMOS employees can often be found here on their lunch breaks, having a stroll, or getting groceries.”
Nighttime is ideal for the Orion, named after the constellation, with its elegant golden indices, small seconds at the 6 o’clock position, and date window at 3. Ideal for a stylish night out on the town. Here, that means a fabulous dinner at Katz Orange. Reservations can easily be made online via OpenTable.
“We also think [Katz Orange] has great taste in desserts—try the petit fours, to which we have dedicated our latest series of Tetra watches.”
Working alongside Steve Jobs, a young watch collector named Tony Fadell helped create the iPhone. Ten years later, he reflects on the fallout—and shares his vision for building a better future.
By Oliver Franklin-Wallis Portrait by Céline Clanet
It’s a crisp January morning in Paris’s 13th Arrondissement, and outside Station F, the former freight terminal that is the epicenter of France’s startup scene, twentysomethings climb out of cars hailed using iPhone apps. They approach the huge, glass-fronted concrete arches, heads bowed over screens, thumbs dancing out social media updates, pristine white earphones poking out from under beanies or from behind shoulder-length hair. The gates are activated by QR code, so they hold out their iPhones to get into work, where they’re probably building iPhone apps themselves, to connect our homes, cars, everything, to the device in our pockets.
This is the world that Tony Fadell helped build. Fadell is known in Silicon Valley as the father of the iPod, which, with its iconic wheel and those classic white earbuds, helped transform Apple’s fortunes from a struggling computer manufacturer to the most valuable public company in history. He played a central role in the creation of the iPhone, helping Steve Jobs and Jony Ive usher in the smartphone age. After leaving Apple, in 2010, Fadell founded the smart-home company Nest, which Google bought in 2014 for $3.2 billion. Few have played bigger roles in shaping today’s technological landscape. No iPod, no iPhone. No iPhone, no Instagram, Snapchat, Uber, or Pokémon Go.
But lately Fadell, like many in Silicon Valley, has been reconsidering the changes he and his colleagues have brought about. In recent months, several former engineers and executives from Google and Facebook—including the inventor of the “like” button—have spoken out publicly about the dangers of smartphones, in particular the design of apps that are intentionally addictive. In June 2017, Fadell told an audience at London’s Design Museum, “I wake up in cold sweats every so often thinking, What did we bring to the world?” This January, after two of the largest investors in Apple called on the company to take action against smartphone addiction in children, Fadell joined in, publicly urging both his former employers to do more.
When I meet him, two weeks later, the subject is still on Fadell’s mind. To be clear: He doesn’t blame Apple—“We can’t say all iPhones are bad”—or even social media companies, although he admits there are “what some people judge as bad actors out there.” Instead, he believes that today’s shocks are a symptom of society reckoning with an unprecedented technological change.
We’re sitting on a bright yellow sofa in Station F, where he has set up his own investment firm, Future Shape. At 48, he is a lean, energetic presence, wearing a teal V-neck, cords, and black zip-up boots. “My first son was born three weeks before the iPhone was released, so my kids have never known a world without them,” Fadell says. He believes that Silicon Valley’s current crisis of conscience can be traced back in part to the architects of the mobile age having children and seeing the impact of their creations. “Your worldview changes dramatically when you have your first kid. You change from ‘me, me, me’ to family and community.” Fadell has three children and, although two of them have smartphones, the family imposes time limits, “screen-free Sundays,” and parental controls.
“When I think about digital well-being, I go back to packaged and mass-produced foods,” he says. “We have created a nomenclature around fats, sugars, proteins. What is obesity? What is bulimia?” Like food, Fadell argues, apps should be subject to their own health classifications. But our smartphones, he says, are just refrigerators. “They’re not going to cause you to be an addict or not. But they always stock themselves, and will give you the ability to buy anything you want.”
When Fadell stepped back from Apple in 2009, the family went traveling. They fell in love with Paris; the city suits Fadell, who has a taste for European culture and design. They later moved back to the Bay Area when Fadell was working on Nest, but when he quit Google in 2016 the Fadells moved to France for good, buying an apartment in the Seventh Arrondissement, and enrolling their children in school.
Station F might be downtown Paris, but it feels very Silicon Valley. It’s midmorning, and young startup workers are playing foosball over cappuccinos. There’s a “Creative Zone” complete with craft supplies; food trucks linger outside. Funded by the French telecommunications billionaire Xavier Niel, it’s vast, with space for a thousand companies. Facebook, Microsoft, and LVMH have already moved in. France’s high taxes and red tape have previously been seen as inimical to startups, but that’s changing: President Macron toured Station F last summer, and the government even has an office here.
Future Shape was still settling in when I visited. The space wasn’t much to look at: a few tasteful chairs and a conference table in a glass-fronted former shipping container. Fadell had ordered a clock—it currently hangs in London’s Ham Yard Hotel—but it hadn’t arrived yet.
Fadell began investing nearly a decade ago (he won’t reveal the extent of his personal wealth, but given Apple stock and Nest’s sale, it’s likely substantial) and has stakes in around 200 companies. They range from OpenROV, a manufacturer of underwater drones, to Grenoble-based Aryballe, which develops biosensors to detect smells and tastes, and Karius, a medical startup that claims to be able to diagnose more than 1,000 infectious diseases from a single blood test. “We get to put ourselves in two hundred different scenarios—in agriculture technology, food technology, financial technology, pharma, and drugs. For me, that kind of stuff is oxygen,” Fadell says.
Living in Paris has also given him time to work on personal projects, such as Ressence, the Brussels-based luxury watch brand, which has won acclaim for its blend of traditional craft and modern technology. Fadell met its founder, Benoît Mintiens, after buying a Ressence Type 3, which has an innovative oil-filled display. (He’d explored similar approaches when developing touchscreens at General Magic in the early 1990s.)
“When I saw it, I was like, ‘This must be a Photoshop.’ Because it was stunning. The dial was just so pristine,” Fadell says. “Then I started reading the description, and I thought: that’s genius! I need to get this watch. I went crazy.”
The week before we met, at the 2018 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie watch fair in Geneva, Ressence unveiled the “E-crown”—a mechanical movement that connects to a smartphone to regulate its own time, meaning it never requires winding. It’s being acclaimed as a breakthrough timepiece. Fadell, a longtime watch collector, whose tastes range from vintage Heuer and Ikepod to contemporary Panerai and Patek Philippe, consulted on the design.
“Two and a half years ago, Benoît sends a text message and says, ‘Hey I got an idea. It’s really secret, but I want to make a next-generation mechanical watch. We have watch winders today that are little robots. So let’s put [one] inside.’ That’s where the two of us started brainstorming,” Fadell says. “He had a whole list of things that he wanted. I had my list of things, both electronically and mechanically, that I wanted. We had to find and strike the right balance … The whole magic was, how do you make a better mechanical watch, not [just] a smartwatch?”
“We look at products in a similar way,” says Mintiens. “Tony is someone who is putting the user in the center. In the end, with watches, it’s about: How efficiently do you express time?”
For Fadell, user experience is everything. “If we look at the major Cambrian explosions of digital technology, it’s always come from a disruptive combination of cutting-edge technology with cutting-edge user experience,” Fadell says. Every detail should be intuitive and create delight from the moment of unboxing; it was this, he says, that drove Jobs to create Apple Stores and ship iPhones with pre-charged batteries. “When you get that experience right, you put that device in somebody’s hand and they go, ‘Wow.’”
The first time Fadell tried to create the iPhone, it was 15 years too early. Born in Detroit, Fadell picked up engineering from his grandfather, a lifelong tinkerer who helped Fadell buy his first computer. Fadell showed a prodigious talent for computing; in college, he even sold a new microprocessor design for the Apple II to Apple itself.
After graduation, Fadell joined General Magic, a now-storied Silicon Valley company (alumni include eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and Android creator Andy Rubin) that was working on an early personal communications device. “We had email, we had downloadable games, downloadable apps, we had shopping, we had books,” Fadell recalls—in other words, the key features of today’s smartphones. General Magic built two devices, for Sony and Motorola, but neither took off, and the company folded. “It was too soon,” says Fadell.
Shortly afterwards, Philips appointed Fadell, then just 25, as its chief technology officer. It was at Philips that Fadell started thinking about digital music. “He had a vision for music being liberated from CD players—how music and portability could be reinvented,” recalls the designer Yves Béhar. The pair sketched out ideas for a portable MP3 player.
In 1999, Fadell formed his own company, Fuse Systems, to build it. However, as the dotcom bubble burst, the company struggled to raise money. Then, in 2001, Fadell was approached by Apple to consult on the design of an MP3 player—what would become the iPod. Steve Jobs hired him to run the new division.
Today, it’s easy to forget the iPod’s significance. “When I started, [Apple] had $25 million in the bank and $500 million in debt,” says Fadell. The iPod, with its navigation wheel and crisp white aesthetic, was far superior to anything on the market. But it wasn’t an instant success. “Steve was always saying the iPod’s going to help us sell more Macs, so the iPod can only work on the Mac,” says Fadell. Infuriated, he lead a skunkworks effort to make a PC-compatible version. “[Steve] said, ‘Over my dead body.’” It was only after Jobs relented that the iPod exploded, selling by the hundreds of millions. Mac sales also began to take off. “It was the gateway drug.”
When Jobs decided to build the iPhone, he initially appointed two rival teams to develop it. One, headed by Fadell, worked on integrating phone functions into the iPod’s click wheel design. The other, lead by then head of software Scott Forstall, attempted to slim down the Mac’s operating system to work on a touchscreen. Ultimately, the latter won out, but given Fadell’s experience with the iPod, he was brought in to oversee the hardware development. Inside Apple, Fadell had a reputation for being a troublemaker. He’d argue fiercely with Jobs, and occasionally quit or get himself fired. “His aggressive, combative style is what endeared him to Steve,” says David Bell, a friend who then worked for an Apple semiconductor supplier. “[But] he would sometimes be too argumentative, and that would piss people off.”
When Google bought Nest, in 2014, Fadell’s style caused conflict again, and although the products racked up design awards, the connected home didn’t take off as expected. After Google restructured in 2015, becoming Alphabet, Nest came under financial pressure. “When Google decided they wanted to sell Nest, I said, ‘Fine, I’m not staying,’” Fadell says. (Alphabet reportedly tried to sell Nest in 2016, but failed to find a buyer. This February, Nest was rolled into Google’s hardware team.)
In Paris, we talked about what Fadell has learned about mentorship. “When someone works for me, they say, ‘Tony pushed me harder than I ever was, and it was frustrating, but I did work that I never thought I’d do,’” he says. “That’s what people did for me. They pushed me when I wasn’t thinking properly, when I was being an idiot.”
“It’s difficult. You’re not always loved, and you’re not always liked.”
Recently, he’s started taking meetings in museums. “Steve Jobs and I would go on walks. You’d just walk and talk, and get to know somebody,” he says. In museums, “you get to be inspired, and also get to know the person. How do they think about that art? Can they look at things and think differently?”
He likes the notions of artists having creative periods. I ask if, after Nest, his own entrepreneurial period is over. “Maybe there’s something that pops up that’s like, ‘I have to do it,’” he says. “I’ve been close. But everything takes time.”
Today’s technology landscape is very different than when Fadell started. Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook loom above everything, with near-infinite reach and financial capital, buying every promising startup—as Fadell himself experienced. I ask if it’s possible that the next big breakthrough could come from outside those companies.
“[If we thought] that you can’t unseat giants, we would have never made the iPod,” says Fadell. “When we were doing that first iPod, I said ‘Steve, Sony is the number one in the world. They own every single audio category. How are we going to beat them?’ And he goes, ‘We will beat Sony. Watch me. If you guys build this, we’re going to put every single marketing dollar behind it.’ And where is Sony in audio today? Where is Nokia?”
His focus on “deep tech” companies at Future Shape—the portfolio includes new types of transistors and microscopic LEDs—is intentional, he says. “I’m doing the things that I know can unseat the big guys. If we get [the technology] right, we can build product companies around it.”
One area that particularly excites him is biotechnology. “Computational synthetic biology is a whole new world,” he says. “We can literally write code, like you would write code for a computer, synthesize it in DNA. We are at the cusp of making biological computers.” Future Shape’s investments include Impossible Burger, which makes lab-grown meat substitutes, and Modern Meadow, which has created a lab-grown leather alternative. “He’s been more than an investor,” says the latter’s founder, Andras Forgacs. “Tony really understands where design and technology come together to create great consumer products. That is not common among investors.”
Fadell is skeptical about the current hype around autonomous vehicles. “The self-driving cars world is making lots of progress, but there’s so much more to do. People don’t understand: They don’t work in certain weather, they don’t work in certain times of day, they don’t work in a fog.”
Robotics and artificial intelligence, Fadell thinks, are also further off than most people think. “We are so far away from being able to create real humanoid kinds of robots,” he says. “These robots are so fragile. And we’re not even talking about intelligence. We’re just talking about grasping and picking up and and walking.”
“The one thing I learned, especially from my General Magic experience, is sometimes the technology is not there, and sometimes society is not there yet.”
Fadell is starting to think about the generation that will succeed him. In 2015, Fadell cofounded an electric go-kart company, Actev Motors, with David Bell. “I said: ‘What was the experience that I had that was formative for me?’ And that was being in a workshop with my grandfather, fixing things, building the soapbox derby racer, and learning about different technologies.”
Actev’s go-kart is designed to be taken apart and modified: Parents can set speed and safety limits, while kids learn about electronics and basic coding skills. “It gives kids some opportunity to do ‘do it yourself,’” says Bell. “It’s really a modern version of what he and his grandfather would do.”
I ask Fadell about one of the tech industry’s growing problems, planned obsolescence: the relentless cycle of waste driven by constant product updates. Apple has recently been the subject of global furor and ongoing lawsuits after it was revealed that the company intentionally limits the performance of older phones, supposedly to protect battery performance. “Everyone went really crazy with the iPod because it [had] a sealed battery,” he recalls. Today, he worries about the environmental impacts of devices. “Reuse is really important. We have limited resources on this planet. That was the reason for Nest,” he says, noting that the company’s products are designed to last decades.
Increasingly, Fadell thinks the next generation of technology designers should commit to a kind of Hippocratic oath: first, do no harm. He has lobbied Apple and Google to introduce a “digital scale” function, to help us track our smartphone habits. “They’re tracking our physical well-being. Why don’t we have the same thing for our digital life?” At Future Shape, he’s pushing founders to think about impact early. “What is the purpose? How does it affect society?”
Fadell remains optimistic about the future. He often thinks back to his childhood in Detroit, building racers and taking apart radios with his grandfather. “What my grandfather would tell me is, ‘If a human made this—and they did—you can fix it,’” he says, his eyes shining. “‘And you can make it better, too.’”
When it came to the next-gen Carrera, TAG Heuer boss Jean-Claude Biver was, as he put it, “faced with a choice between a vintage-inspired piece and a modern reworking.”
Clearly, he went the latter route.
This new iteration, introduced at the Baselworld watch fair, keeps the Carrera 01’s modular-skeleton-meets-circuit board aesthetic, but incorporates the brand’s latest in-house automatic chronograph caliber, called Heuer 02, boosting power reserve from 50 to 75 hours.
Even Longines president Walter Von Känel was taken off guard when this chronograph took home the Revival Prize at last year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie. In retrospect, we shouldn’t have been so surprised; the BigEye oozes authenticity. It’s a straight reissue of an obscure 1930s pilot’s watch, rediscovered by a collector and brought to the attention of the brand’s heritage team.
They revived it, shoehorning a modern automatic movement (54-hour power reserve, 4Hz frequency) inside a 41 mm stainless case, while faithfully recreating the original’s dial arrangement. Between that quirky, oversized sub-register at the 3 o’clock position, the neat backstory, everyman price point, and GPHG pedigree, this one’s a no-brainer.
The world’s oldest independent military air fleet, England’s Royal Air Force, turns 100 this year.
Fittingly, it’s Bremont kicking off centennial celebrations, skipping Baselworld to debut a fresh iteration of its flagship chronograph in London. Here, the ALT1-C ditches Arabic numerals for dial indices, and gets a new handset, a 43 mm satin case, and an enlarged exhibition-style caseback. Plus a blue dial and matching nubuck strap, a nod to the RAF’s signature color.
If the Freak Vision—a small-batch, all-platinum, self-winding, 45 mm wristwatch without a crown or hands—wasn’t wild enough for you, check the Coral Bay.
In the foreground, red and white acrylic paints go onto the barrel bridge; behind it, lacquers are mixed directly on the dial and heat-treated at 90 degrees between each application. Details are hand-applied, requiring some 20 hours of painting time.
Building stately, capable 4×4 rigs for expedition remains Land Rover’s core competency.
But modern customers are more Moschino than Magellan. The new Range Rover SVAutobiography fills out the brand’s rugged backbone with next-level luxe accoutrements. It’s offered exclusively as a long-wheelbase model, guaranteeing limo-like legroom. Highlights include hot-stone-massaging rear seats, an onboard Champagne chiller, and push-button-operated electronic doors.
The El Primero Range Rover Special Edition strikes a similar balance between style and utility, putting Zenith’s venerated high-beat chronograph movement inside a unique 42 mm ceramised aluminum case with a perforated leather strap. For making an entrance at far-flung locales, nothing else comes close.
On March 6, Louis Vuitton designer Nicolas Ghesquière unveiled his fall/winter 2018 fashion collection in a little-used hidden courtyard at the Louvre Museum, in Paris. An inspired visionary, Ghesquière’s ideas of how we’ll want to look in six months will, no doubt, have repercussions on fashion for years to come. Science fiction references have always been an integral part of his work, interweaving idealized concepts of the future and what humans will want to wear. The latest garments referenced multiple time periods, paired with a single long glove, astronaut style name tags, and printed bags resembling circuit boards. The models emerged on what appeared to be the hatch of a spaceship, introducing the Vuitton fall/winter collection with a startling intergalactic appeal.
Two weeks earlier, on the other side of the globe, La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, the equally visionary watchmaking division of LVMH, unveiled another avant-garde timepiece, the Tambour Moon Mystérieuse Flying Tourbillon, with a little less fanfare. Resembling the clean lines of Star Trek’s Enterprise, the platinum Tambour Moon updates the 19th-century “mysterious” concept to propose a modern-day movement that appears to be floating in space.
Created using sapphire crystal discs with imaginative ingenuity, the optical illusion plays an important technical part in the mechanics of the watch, but magically disappears before your very eyes. And, like the iconic Vuitton luggage, the back of the tourbillon cage can be personalized with the customer’s own initials. The mesmerizing gleam of the spinning mechanical elements brings to mind the interlocking initials and fleur-de-lis symbols of the iconic “LV” monogram.
The LV 110 caliber, which boasts a remarkable eight-day power reserve, is concealed within the 54 mm Tambour Moon’s concave platinum case. The manual wind mechanical movement displays hours and minutes, along with a tourbillon cage designed to resemble a monogram flower that rotates around the dial every 60 seconds. Beneath the Monogram Flower at 12 o’clock lies the co-axial double barrel, above the central wheels dedicated to the hours and minutes, followed by the tourbillon carriage at 6 o’clock, all forming a vertical straight line.
This is where the “mysterious” use of transparent sapphire crystal comes into play, allowing for the appearance of the lack of connection between the winding crown and the double barrel, along with the spinning flying tourbillon that rotates around the dial once every minute. The introduction of the Tambour Moon propels Louis Vuitton into the stratosphere of high watchmaking, while still adhering to the original fundamental codes of the house.
Founded in 1854, Louis Vuitton has always played a supporting role in developing transportation technologies by creating innovative goods for all types of travel. This has helped the maison evolve, keeping pace with changing times by proposing solutions for passengers and operators of automobiles, passenger liners, trains, and airplanes, all intended for ease of use, freedom, and, of course, style.
It will only be a matter of time before Vuitton introduces goods for space travel; the day of taking your moon phase to the Moon (and someday Mars) will be here before you know it. Just as fashion shows allow us, however briefly, to look seasons ahead, the Louis Vuitton Tambour Moon Mystérieuse Flying Tourbillon envisions the future with startling clarity.
If Gérald Genta is the Phil Spector of watch design, then Cartier is the Berry Gordy, having produced some of the 20th century’s greatest hits: the Tank, the Santos, the Ballon Bleu. The past few years have seen Cartier paying homage to its most iconic watches—2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the ever-popular Tank and the reintroduction of the Panthére, born of the 1980’s glitzy excesses. This year, the spotlight turns to the Baignoire, a style that epitomizes the house’s penchant for pieces with sleek, geometric lines.
Named for its distinct oval dial (the name translates to “bathtub” en français), the Baignoire was designed by Louis Cartier in 1906, though it truly rose to popularity in the 1960s after being donned by screen sirens Catherine Deneuve and Romy Schneider. With its elegant curves and delicate proportions, the Baignoire is pure feminine grace.
But the latest batch of Baignoires, debuted at Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie 2018, leave all of that demure heritage in the dust. The new collection, called Cartier Libre, takes the classic oval form and turns up the volume, distorting and reimagining the shape in four limited-edition styles: These are all about big, bold extravagance, pushing the Baignoire’s silhouette to extremes.
The Baignoire Débordante, which translates roughly to “overflowing bathtub,” features an elongated black dial surrounded by white gold rays dripping with diamonds and black spinels. The Baignoire Infinie uses a thick cuff bracelet as the base for a microdial surrounded by rings of sunburst marquetry, inlaid with a mix of diamond baguettes, black spinels, and white-and-gray mother-of-pearl.
The Baignoire Etoilée turns the oval horizontally, with a quilted dial suspended from a fluid bracelet of cascading white diamonds that fade into black spinels. The Baignoire Interdite also features a horizontal dial, but oversize and obscured by glossy black Roman numerals that haphazardly wrap around the face and diamond-studded bezel like very luxurious bondage.
Each of the styles will be produced in numbered editions of between 15 and 50 pieces, making them inherently collectible. But the appeal of Cartier Libre goes beyond mere exclusivity. Not only are these four designs imaginative displays of the brand’s decorative savoir faire, they are evidence of what is surely a rare occurrence: Cartier throwing orthodoxy out the window and reveling in its wild side.
Inside a modest workshop on the western outskirts of Buenos Aires, four men are hard at work.
They measure patterns and heat irons over an open flame, methodically whetting and polishing and hammering. The tables are covered in awls, spurs, wrought-iron pincers. Rolls of exquisite calfskin and horsehide are stacked waist-high. Rows and rows of hardwood shoe lasts line the shelves.
Welcome to Casa Fagliano, a bastion of traditional bootmaking. The workshop first opened in 1892, across the street from the Asociación Civil Hurlingham Club. The latter establishment grew into the nation’s equestrian sports epicenter, hosting Abierto de Hurlingham, one of the world’s most prestigious polo tournaments. Casa Fagliano found an eager clientele. English-style polo boots became a specialty.
Four generations later, the operation remains a family affair. Rodolfo, the 86-year-old patriarch, cuts leather and welts soles alongside his sons, Eduardo and Hector, and his grandson, Germán. To them, “mass-production” is a four-letter word; these guys make each boot by hand, one at a time. Order a bespoke pair with matching kneepads and wood trees, and you can expect to join a six-to-eight-month waiting list—albeit one that includes Prince Harry, Tommy Lee Jones, and the Sultan of Brunei.
Also Jaeger-LeCoultre. The Swiss watchmaker first collaborated with Casa Fagliano seven years ago, commissioning straps for a limited-edition Reverso Tribute to 1931. Now, the two firms have teamed up again, this time on a special version of the Reverso Tribute Duo, which features a Cordovan leather strap, designed and handmade in the Fagliano workshop. According to Geoffroy Lefebvre, deputy CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre, the continued partnership is a matter of values and pedigree.
“Both our realms share a passion for the product, respect for expert craftsmanship, meticulous attention to detail and the pursuit of perfection,” says Lefebvre. “The Reverso was originally created in 1931 for British Army officers in India who were anxious to protect the glass of their watches while playing polo…. Therefore the relationship between the inventor of the polo watch and the most prestigious polo boot manufacturer was natural.”
The two-tone Fagliano band complements the Duo’s pink-gold case, which, as ever, features two dials. The main face is sun-brushed satin gray; it swivels and tucks away to reveal a secondary dial, silvered with Clous de Paris guilloché detailing and a day-night indicator. Both sides have formal dauphine hands, gold-plated hour markers, and run off a manual, in-house movement, offering a 42-hour power reserve.
Just 100 examples of the Reverso Tribute Duo will be offered on a Casa Fagiliano Edition strap, an order that took the leather-workers an entire year to fill. But, unlike the previous Tribute to 1931, which was exclusive to American stores, this new watch will be available at Jaeger-LeCoultre boutiques worldwide—and, yes, that includes the Buenos Aires store.
The notable, the collectible, the just plain cool…
For a no-nonsense take on the modern office watch, consider going German. The NOMOS At Work line (seriously, nonsense is verboten) puts the company’s thinnest, lightest automatic caliber into a larger 38.5 mm case, then adds a super-sleek, mega-minimal face. The collection encompasses more than a dozen pieces, all of them exceptionally sharp. Even in that company, the Metro, now available in brilliant rose gold, is a standout.
The notable, the collectible, the just plain cool…
Walter Lange was a horological titan, equal parts technical maestro and visionary businessman. When the Berlin Wall came down, he seized on the opportunity to resurrect his great grandfather’s watch company; within a decade of relaunching, the firm was turning out instant-classic designs and developing superfine mechanicals in-house. The felicitously-named Tribute to Walter Lange celebrates the man, who died last year, by debuting an all-new movement. It’s a hand-wound, 36-jewel beauty, featuring an independent, stoppable seconds function—one of Lange’s favorite complications. The watch is available in pink, yellow, or white gold, limited to 145 pieces total and retailing at $47,000 each. The stainless steel example seen here? It’s a one-off made for charity, set to be auctioned by Phillips in Geneva on May 12.
*** Final Hammer Price: Sold for $852,525. Read more about it here.
The notable, the collectible, the just plain cool…
The standout piece from Montblanc’s Timewalker collection defies categorization. Fundamentally, it’s a dashboard lap timer. But it’s designed to detach from the mounting bezel, effectively becoming a monopusher stopwatch. There’s also a deployable leather wrist strap, so you can wear it as an oversized chronograph. The kicker? Two legs fold out from the caseback, transforming the Rally Timer 100 into a handsome desk clock.
The notable, the collectible, the just plain cool…
While the name begs for nostalgia—“eight” translates to huit in French, an allusion to Breitling’s Huit Aviation Department from WWI—the execution here is unsentimental. The latest Navitimer has no slide rule, no winged “B” logo, both breaks from long-standing tradition. (It was also unveiled on Instagram and launched in Shanghai, a decidedly progressive approach for one of Switzerland’s oldest marques.) The familiar in-house automatic chronometer movement does carry over. But consider the B01, the first new watch under Georges Kern, who departed IWC to take over Breitling last year, a harbinger of change for the brand.
The backstory is the stuff of horological legend. In the mid 1970s, as the Swiss watch industry teetered on the brink of collapse, Michel Parmigiani decided that somebody should be protecting the country’s old-world relics. The finicky pocket watches and fragile objéts d’art seemed particularly precious and vulnerable. So he opened a workshop in Fleurier, Switzerland, and he started fixing them.
The move proved cathartic—“Restoring antique timepieces saved me from nihilism,” Parmigiani says—and it allowed him to amass a singular wealth of knowledge. Partial backing from the Sandoz Family Foundation, an artistic-leaning venture capitalist outfit, turned Parmigiani’s once-modest operation into a full-blown manufacture, dubbed Parmigiani Fleurier, in 1996. The brand’s first in-house movement was rolled out two years later.
Known as PF110, the inaugural calibre was a manual-winding marvel, brimming with artisan details and boasting an epic eight-day power reserve. Watch nerds swooned. Collectors did the same when the movement debuted inside Parmigiani Fleurier’s flagship wristwatch, the Kalpa, in 2001.
This year, that iconic piece will enjoy a renaissance of sorts, as the company introduces three new creations under the Kapla banner. Each offers a clever reimagining of the original watch’s signature styling, incorporating the classic tonneau-shaped case and teardrop-shaped lugs. The Kalpa Hebdomadaire even uses an updated version of that original PF110 movement, making it a surefire hit with brand devotees.
On the eve of its premiere, we sat down with Michel Parmigiani to discuss the virtues of independence, finding inspiration in Southeast Asia, and the future of his namesake manufacture.
You’ve spent your life making and restoring luxury watches. What keeps you going?
Curiosity. Curiosity, and the desire to discover this noble work.
Why is it noble?
It’s a vocation that requires mastery of your own hands, mastery of your actions. And before you can do that, you must first master your mind. It is a life discipline, similar to that of a surgeon. One must learn how to use tools, while maintaining complete control over them.
I’ve read that you initially wanted to be an architect. Is this true?
Architecture has always captivated me—building houses and bridges, the ability to measure and produce a certain form. It is a source of inexhaustible inspiration, and horology is very similar. At first, I really hesitated between these two professions. But there was a watchmaking school fifteen minutes from my place in Fleurier. So I enrolled there.
You launched your brand in 1996. The watch world was a very different place then—we barely had the internet. What’s different now?
The simple parts of watchmaking have become industrialized, and computers certainly help us achieve more, and more rapidly. But in the end, a fine luxury watch must still be made by hand. Take our 1950 Tourbillon, for example. Its creation requires a very high-end process that we’ve been developing for twenty years. You need both machines and experienced watchmakers to deliver it. There is no other way to compose this work of art but by patience and experience.
Why did you choose the Toric Memory Time as your debut watch?
Before we launched, I was walking on a beach in Malaysia and picked up a shell with a striking shape. It was thick in front, but if you turned it just forty-five degrees, it gave the impression of being very thin. I said to myself, When I launch my first watch, I’m going to capture this optical illusion. Toric Memory Time also displays a second time zone for travelers. For the launch, it was important to demonstrate my know-how, my savoir faire. This watch is particularly complex, and I’ve been developing different models of it ever since.
Back in 2011, you created a movement based on the Hijri Calendar, which tracks the lunar cycles of the Islamic year. Why did that interest you?
The moon has great importance in our lives, and we don’t pay much attention to it. So I wanted to create a perpetual lunar calendar, which meant I had to be able to measure it. The lunar year is faster than the solar year, with difference of about eleven days. It’s not religious symbolism. It’s a scientific instrument that depicts the lunar cycle in mechanical form. When you look at it, you can see the days, months, and years of the moon.
This took years to develop. Did your colleagues call you crazy?
I’ve always been considered crazy for doing this job in the first place! When I started in watchmaking, the industry was in a quartz crisis. But, for me, it is very important to develop new projects and new ways of thinking—which allows the industry to evolve.
You also spent a great deal of time restoring a 200-year-old gold-and-pearl pistol that fires a chirping mechanical bird. Why?
It wasn’t working. Before launching my brand, I was known for restoring old timepieces, including pocket watches. When you see what has been created in the past, it’s very humbling. As for the pistol, and it took a year and a half to restore. I ended up restoring three of them for our collection.
The world’s top watchmakers enlist your company—which employs roughly 400 watchmakers, in five separate manufacturing houses—to make parts for their products. How do you explain what sets you apart?
We’re masters of the tools we use. We’re nimble, efficient, and a hundred percent Swiss-made. Not many houses can say that.
How do you see Parmigiani Fleurier evolving?
We don’t plan to buy anything, or expand. We just want to make beautiful mechanical watches and remain independent. Over the past twenty years, we’ve invested in a strong staff that has truly mastered the tourbillon and chronograph. Of course, we won’t stop there. For me, it’s simple: I want to break the rules and making something you cannot find anywhere else.
Bell & Ross channels the heyday of American Land Speed Record
Looking for a retro-style timepiece with a killer backstory? Look no further than the Bell & Ross Vintage Bellytanker collection, inspired by early Land Speed Record racecars, which invaded dry lake beds and salt flats during the 1940s and ’50s. Like hot rods, bellytankers were highly customized in nature and home-brew in spirit. Unlike hot rods, they weren’t recognizable as Mercurys or Chevrolets; Land Speed Record car bodies were streamlined fabrications, often utilizing World War II fighter plane emergency drop tanks—“belly tanks,” in military parlance.
Bill Burke, a former Coast Guardsman, is widely credited with building the first bellytanker, repurposing a P-51 Mustang spare that he purchased for $35. The resulting creation, once equipped with a hopped-up V8 engine, was capable of reaching 130 mph. (For reference, most family sedans of the era struggled to hit 70 mph.) But Burke soon realized the 165-gallon tank couldn’t accommodate a full-size driver seat. So he welded in a bicycle seat.
Repeat: These guys went 130 mph, inside a scrapped fuel tank, sitting on a bicycle seat.
Wherever there’s history, airplanes, and lunatic speeds, Bell & Ross is sure to be nearby. The company honors Burke and his breed of hot-rodder with Bellytanker editions of two pieces from the Vintage collection, the time-and-date BR V1-92 and the BR V1-94 chronograph. The former offers a simpler, plain-bezel look and smaller 38.5 mm size, while the latter measures 41 mm and features a fixed-position tachymeter.
Both employ an automatic mechanical movement, boast a satin-steel-polished case and gorgeous gilt metallic copper dial, offer 100m water resistance, and feature a too-cool custom casebook design. Unsurprisingly, these Bellytanker watches are a limited-run proposition. Only 1000 will be made in total—500 of the BR V1-92 and 500 of the BR V1-94.
Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Bellytanker ($2,300) and BR V2-94 Bellytanker ($4,400 – $4,700); bellross.com
Black bezel, bronze details, leather strap. Rado cranks up the contrast.
More than a century after the company was founded, Rado remains synonymous with pioneering use of ceramic. The material is handsome, hypoallergenic, lightweight. It’s also tough as hell, and that means most Rados won’t score and scuff like a comparable steel watch. For those who like a little patina on their wrist, there’s the new HyperChrome Bronze Chrono.
Limited to 999 pieces, special-edition takes the classic 45mm HyperChrome design and introduces bronze elements—the chrono pushers, side inserts, and crown are all hewn from the stuff. The addition of rose gold hands and indexes emphasize the metallic sheen, creating a neat contrast with the high-tech black ceramic. It’ll only get more striking with age, as the bronze continues to wear-in around the rest of the scratch-resistant case.
Inside, there’s a 37-jewel ETA automatic chronograph movement, offering 42 hours power reserve, and Rado says it’s water resistant up to 100 meters. Unique engravings (on the side, “CuSn8,” the code for bronze alloy, plus requisite caseback numbering) and a vintage-look leather strap (instead of the standard HyperChrome bracelet) round out the look.
Like what you see? Keep an eye out, as the Bronze Chrono is set to debut at Baselworld next month. Expect a price tag around $5,000 when it reaches retailers later this year.
We love complicated divers and bold pilots’ watches as much as the next guy. But unless you’re James Cameron, or currently enrolled in the Top Gun program, those might not be suitable for the office. For a stylish alternative, check the latest Neomatik models from NOMOS Glashütte, which bring a no–nonsense approach to the modern office watch. Simply called “At Work”—seriously, nonsense is verboten—this new line matches a slender automatic caliber and larger 38.5 mm diameter, then adds super-refined dial layout. The collection encompasses 14 pieces, all of them exceptionally sharp. Even in that company, the Metro, available for the first time in 18-karat rose gold, is a standout.
Sleek. Geometric. Detailed. The integrated steel bracelet and case of Ralph Lauren’s new 867 timepiece (now enlarged to 35 mm) feels unabashedly art deco, harking back to the architectural splendor of 1930s New York. The dial injects Jazz Age swing, agreeably mixing Arabic and Roman numerals with Breguet-style hands. To maximize the effect, go for that off-white lacquered face. It’s like Benny Goodman standing in a Raymond Hood lobby, sitting on your wrist. Sure, there’s a trusty Sellita-based, self-winding Swiss mechanical movement ticking away inside. But make no mistake: This one’s an American classic.
Hermès updates a high-class classic: the Double Tour Cape Cod.
More than a quarter-century after its introduction, the Cape Cod remains a smart-prep staple. The design marries nautical callbacks (the case shape comes from Hermès’ “Chaîne d’Ancre” link, aping an anchor chain), high-fashion flourishes (the “Double Tour” strap, added in 1998, was famously designed by Martin Margiela), and Parisian whimsey (Hey, square-inside-rectangle!)
This latest iteration emphasizes the maritime element, replacing the traditional Arabic numerals with Chaîne d’Ancre hour markers at the cardinal positions. It also introduces an handsome new blue-lacquered dial. Double down with the Malta blue grained strap, for full oceanic effect.
A. Lange & Söhne honors the inimitable Walter Lange with an inimitable special-edition timepiece (and an all-new movement.)
Walter Lange was a horological titan, equal parts technical maestro and visionary businessman. When the Berlin Wall came down, he seized on the opportunity to resurrect his great grandfather’s watch company; within a decade of relaunching, the firm was turning out instant-classic designs and developing superfine mechanical movements.
The felicitously named A. Lange & Söhne Tribute to Walter Lange celebrates the man, who died last year, by debuting an all-new movement. It’s a hand-wound, 36-jewel beauty, which features an independent, stoppable seconds complication. In a nice touch, the caliber name (L1924) and reference no. (297) also point to Lange’s birthday (July 29, 1924).
Breguet’s super-slim tourbillon gets a minimalist makeover.
Looking for a thin tourbillon? Talk about being spoiled for choice. In recent years, we’ve seen remarkably slender movements from Arnold & Son (2.97 mm) and Bulgari (1.95 mm). But both of those are manual-wind. Breguet’s caliber 581, found in the Classique line, lays claim to the thinnest automatic tourbillon on the market today.
The Classique Extra-Plat 5367 brings a new grand feu off-white enamel dial, sans power indicator, offering maximum contrast with minimal clutter. The 18-karat rose gold case retains the customary open backing—all the better to study the mechanical triumph therein: an 80-hour power reserve, at 4Hz frequency, from a 3mm movement.
Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Automatique 5367, Price Upon Request; breguet.com
With a completely transparent encasing of its Grand Complication, Hublot redefines the concept of what a precious material can be.
By Stephen Watson
Pink gold? Platinum? Titanium? Market trends predict a return to a new type of discretion. So how about a grand complication that can barely be seen yet has nowhere to hide?
We’re talking, of course, about the magnificent watch on this month’s cover: Hublot’s Big Bang Unico Sapphire. What at first glance appears to be a timepiece made out of clear plastic is, in fact, an ingenious see-through case cut from a solid block of sapphire crystal. Incredibly scratch-resistant and almost as tough as diamond, the case lays bare the inner workings of the HUB1270 UNICO Manufacture self-winding perpetual calendar and chronograph movement in all its technical virtuosity. It’s a watch that must be seen to be believed.
Watch Journal had the opportunity to speak with Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot, about the brand’s cutting-edge creativity, mechanical innovations, and enduring devotion to the Art of Fusion.
How did the concept of the clear watch come about?
The idea was to play with the visible and the invisible—to present the heart of an exceptional timepiece as if it was suspended in the air. With a transparent case, a movement can be admired at 360 degrees. Our dream had long been to produce such a watch entirely in colorless sapphire, which is light, nearly invisible, and virtually scratch-proof. Sapphire is one of the hardest materials on earth, second only to diamond.
We also liked the idea that a transparent watch would allow us to highlight Hublot’s tradition of constant innovation in using and developing new materials.
Speaking of cutting-edge materials, Hublot is known for what it calls the Art of Fusion. How has this helped to define the brand’s DNA?
Combining two materials that never coexist in nature is the driving idea at Hublot. Even the first Hublot models from 1980 merged gold cases with rubber straps—quite extravagant for that time! Just like watchmakers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, we will use classic materials such as gold for the case or brass for the movement—however, we combine them with other materials like titanium, ceramic, carbon fiber, Kevlar, even rubber. And we don’t stop there, because we also develop our own new materials. For instance, we have worked in conjunction with the EPFL in Lausanne on basic scientific research for many years. And from this cooperation has arisen a scratch-resistant gold and ceramic alloy that Hublot calls “Magic Gold.”
As a motto, the “Art of Fusion” refers not only to the materials themselves but also encompasses more abstract ideas: the fusion of past and present, tradition and innovation.
How is the sapphire material generated?
Sapphire can be generated by various types of processes, but the ones we use are the Kyropoulos and Verneuil processes. Because sapphire is so hard—measuring 2,000 on the Vickers scale—it requires specific machines to manufacture it and to polish it. Making the sapphire crystal itself was not the issue for us—it was the manufacturing of our components in sapphire that was challenging.The material comes to us in a raw block, which then to be cut into the correct shape. We invested several million Swiss francs in machinery to be able to produce the components and we also invested in machines able to polish the transparency of the sapphire. It took us nearly twenty years to develop the tools and technology that could create the watches to our satisfaction.
What are the possibilities of generating this material? Colors? Textures? Patterns?
The standard color for sapphire is “clear,” but by adding additives during the growth of the crystal, it is possible to create different colors. In 2017 we introduced the sapphire in red and blue. Regarding textures and finishes, it is possible to have a matte or a polished surface finish. Regarding the patterns, for the time being, we use black metallization (for the realization of black smoked sapphire) as well as laser engraving and fill with color lacquer for engravings on the caseback of the watch.
Can you talk us through some of the steps of the watch’s fabrication?
The different essential steps include diamond wire cutting for the raw material, diamond milling for the components to roughed out and diamond polishing of the finished components, so that the surfaces are perfectly polished, revealing the total transparency of this material. The polishing step is very complicated because this is not easy to do on complex shapes and there is a considerable risk of breakage. Sometimes the end step of polishing will also reveal minimal defaults in the crystal.
How long does the process take from start to finish?
It takes between twenty to thirty days to grow a crystal which weighs around 110 to 150 kilos. After this time, we need to cut the raw material, mill it, and polish it. Depending on the component, it can take hundreds of hours to achieve a finished component. And the results aren’t guaranteed until we polish and carefully examine the result.
How do new elements, such as sapphire, help reimagine traditional luxury?
Hublot stands for always being first, unique and different. I think there will always be a place for watches like ours because we are producing watches that are eternal. You have a world of emotions in a box that will last for the next fifty, hundred or two hundred years, but we give them a contemporary design thanks to the unique materials we use and create.
The world’s earliest civilizations kept time by observing the moon—tracking the days from one new moon to the next. The ancient Greeks took the process a leap further, inventing the Antikythera, one of the first-known complex machines. Housed in a wooden box with more than 30 bronze gears, the instrument could predict the moon’s phases and position in the sky. According to historians, the Antikythera’s four-annum cycle was used for adjusting to leap years or pinpointing the best city—sans eclipses—to host the next Olympic games.
Alas, this innovative tool (along with the instructions needed to replicate it) was lost at sea, near the isle for which it was later named. Other tinkerers wouldn’t catch up to the Antikythera’s technology for more than a thousand years. But by the late Middle Ages, Italian astronomer and engineer Giovanni Dondi dell-Orologio of Padua had created the Astrarium, an astrological clock that mapped the positions of the five then-known planets, along with the sun and the moon. This time, the device was reproduced—and shared widely—greatly influencing the burgeoning clock (and future watch) industries.
Rudimentary moon pointers—special discs that rotated on the dial to aim at numerals signifying the moon’s monthly age in days, from 1 to 29—can be found on pocket watches dating back to the turn of the 17th century. But since the real moon’s cycle is about a half day longer, these early versions required manually adjusting the watch at least every couple of years. Over time, the moon-phase complication became both more accurate and more beautiful as elaborate sky scenes were painted on or beneath the rotating discs (which sometimes had open holes to reproduce the waxing and waning of the moon). Adding more teeth to the gears turning these lunar mechanisms resulted in watches that needed far less correction. Some moon phases can now stay true for more than a thousand millennia.
Of course, in the current age of smartphones communicating with satellites in real time, moon phases no longer serve any functional purpose. Their value is purely historic and aesthetic, enhancing traditional timepieces with often gorgeous complications. Take the new Rolex Cellini Moonphase (reference 50535), for example. A handsome, oversize 39 mm case in 18-k Everose gold contains a self-winding movement made by Rolex with the company’s Superlative Chronometer certification, with an accuracy of plus or minus two seconds a day. The blue enamel disc at 6 o’clock tracks the various phases of the moon, indicated by an arrow indicator on the subdial. A full moon is depicted by a meteorite appliqué, while the new moon is designated by a simple silver ring.
The Cellini, the most elegant of Rolex’s styles, has long been overshadowed by the brand’s sportier models, like the Daytona and the Submariner. But this particular edition, designed with a subtle brown alligator-leather strap and spare white lacquer dial demands the spotlight—not least because it’s the first moon phase Rolex has issued in more than six decades.
“Rolex watches with a moon-phase indication are exceptionally rare—among the rarest of all of the brand’s historic and modern models,” says Paul Boutros, Americas & International Strategy advisor and senior vice president at Phillips auction house. Boutros points out that, before the new Cellini, only two Rolex moon phases were ever manufactured: “Reference 8171 and reference 6062 were both produced for only a few short years, from about 1950 until approximately 1954. Due to their timeless beauty, size, and rarity, these references are among the most sought-after of all vintage Rolex watches.”
One particular example, the Bao Dai Rolex, a 6062 moon phase in yellow gold with a black dial and diamond indices, once owned by the last emperor of Vietnam, has set records at Phillips both times it has come to market. It sold for $372,346 in 2002 and $5,034,084 in May of 2017, marking the highest price ever fetched by a Rolex, not once, but twice.
“The new Cellini is especially noteworthy since it is the first modern Rolex wristwatch to include a moon phase,” Boutros says. “Due to its large size and classic aesthetic, we believe it will sell well to collectors of modern, complicated wristwatches.”
Resale value is but one reason to get moonstruck.
WHERE TO WEAR IT
With the once stark line between work and leisure dissolving into a blur, few opportunities remain for true formal dress—and the Cellini Moonphase is, undoubtedly, a formal watch. Perhaps that’s why Rolex has become such an ardent supporter of the arts? It’s certainly one way to ensure the brand’s devotees can find suitable venues to exhibit their finery.
The company underwrites select performances at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Royal Opera House in London, the Opéra National de Paris, the Sulzburg Festival and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in Austria, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, which just celebrated its 50th year at Lincoln Center. Even at the Met, though, dress codes have eased. “Monday nights at the old Met [on Broadway and 39th Street] were all white tie,” says Susan Froemke, a filmmaker who documented the Met’s 1966 move to the Upper West Side in this year’s exceptional The Opera House. “Everybody adhered to those rules,” she adds. “The old house was built by the nouveau riche—the Vanderbilts, if you can believe it—people who couldn’t get boxes at the old Academy of Music. They wanted a place to be seen in their ermine and jewels.”
Now, at Lincoln Center, inside Wallace Harrison’s sleek Modernist temple to the arts, there’s considerably more variety in audience attire. “Today, people are coming straight from work,” Froemke says. “But luckily, they do still make an effort.”
Under the starburst “sputnik” chandeliers, the Cellini will look right at home.
With runway references and an emphasis on crafting in-house movements, Chanel fuses high fashion and watchmaking artistry.
The Chanel Code watch, plus essentials. (Photo: Doug Young)
There’s no arguing that Chanel is a newcomer to the haute horlogerie block. In an industry that measures legacies in centuries, Chanel launched its first watch a mere 30 years ago. But the commitment to the category—bolstered by collaborations with independent watchmaker Romain Gauthier and ownership of watch assembly company Châtelain—has helped it quickly gain on the old guard. Chanel’s mix of technical expertise and its seemingly endless archive crammed with Parisienne elegance makes for a formidable combination.
The jewelry watch Code Coco is a case in point. It borrows design elements from one of Chanel’s iconic handbags, the 2.55, and features crisp, sophisticated engineering. Since debuting in February of 1955, the 2.55 has had a bar-shaped closure called the Mademoiselle Lock, a moniker that—according to lore—referred to Coco Chanel’s perennially unmarried status (or perhaps her alleged habit of secreting love notes in her handbag). The same lock serves as a closure for the quartz-powered Code Coco. It clicks into two positions: When horizontal, the black lacquered dial, which measures 38.1 by 21.5 mm, is fully visible. When the lock swivels into a vertical orientation, it conceals the watch’s hands, obscuring the passage of time. It’s a fitting gesture from a brand whose founder declared, “I don’t know how to be anywhere but in the present.”
The Code Coco’s flexible stainless-steel bracelet unfurls from a bangle to a flat position once opened. A grid pattern that evokes the quilted leather exterior of the 2.55 decorates the polished metal—even the faintest movement scatters light across its textured surface. Another degree of glitz comes from diamond accents. Stainless-steel models include a single diamond on their dials and bezels with or without diamonds. A version in white gold, completely covered in diamonds, is available too—but in a limited edition of five, Chanel’s lucky number and the numeral associated with a certain famous perfume.
Skeletons from Bell & Ross and Girard Perregaux, a race-inspired TAG Heuer, and more.
F.P. Journe Chronomètre Holland & Holland
Catering to the world’s most discerning sportsmen, Holland & Holland has been manufacturing guns since 1835, in a store that conjures visions of time-honored country life, with its deeply ingrained British traditions and quirks. Joining forces with watchmaker F.P. Journe, they used two 100-year-old barrels from the Holland & Holland museum to create limited edition “browned” Damascus steel–patterned dials using traditional gun-making techniques. The two barrels were registered by hand in the company’s books. Barrel No. 1382, dating back to 1868, yielded 38 dials, while barrel No. 7183, dating to 1882, produced 28 dials.
Third-generation watchmaker Laurent Ferrier plainly states on his website his horological values: simplicity, precision, and pure, uncluttered beauty. These ideals are exhibited perfectly in his limited-edition porcelain-dial Galet Square watch, which houses an exclusive in-house movement developed and assembled in the Laurent Ferrier workshops. The gentle curves of the case bring to mind the shape of a pebble, the direct translation of the French word galet. Breguet numerals with a red 12 o’clock and gold-colored minute outer rail beautifully set off the glossy white dial—so difficult to produce that only 10 pieces will be made worldwide.
Bell & Ross is well known for its aviation association, with distinctive square-shaped watches resembling instruments taken directly from a cockpit control panel. Made of titanium, matte white ceramic, and rubber, contrasting red details provide excellent readability of the automatic skeletonized chronograph movement. The BR-X1 White Hawk looks precisely to business aircraft for its stylish inspiration, the white-and-gray materials taking their cues from private-jet interiors.
First launched in 1975, the sporty and versatile Laureato design from Girard Perregaux continues to evolve with the all-black Laureato Skeleton Ceramic. Brushed and satin finishes enhance the dark surface of the Laureato by intensifying the dramatic black PVD-treated openwork movement with exposed 18-k pink-gold details. The Laureato style is entirely adaptable, the stealth and contemporary look making this version appealing to a new generation.
TAG Heuer AUTAVIA Jack Heuer 85th Anniversary Limited Edition
2017 will go down as the year of the chronograph, especially for styles referencing the golden age of auto racing. The 42 mm polished-steel TAG Heuer reissue, a limited edition of 1,932 pieces, features the new Heuer-02 caliber proprietary chronograph and all the best features of the 1960s original redesigned by Jack Heuer himself. Jack says, “The story of the Autavia is a rich drama, full of twists and turns. It is one of my proudest achievements to have successfully converted chronographs into the Autavia wristwatch in 1962, so this collection has a special place in my heart.”
How a former Formula One champ turned cyclist helped Richard Mille design his latest ne plus ultra watch.
By James Jung
Richard Mille may be one of the world’s most preeminent watchmakers, but he’s almost as famous for his obsession with race cars. Ever since bursting onto the scene in 2001 with his radical and highly technical take on the classic, barrel-shaped tonneau, the charismatic Frenchman has drawn inspiration from the high performance machines of Formula One.
In the stone-and-timber garage of his 18th-century château in Brittany, you’ll find one of the world’s most coveted vintage-car collections (replete with iconic open-wheel McLarens and Ferraris), while his eponymous brand name can be spotted scrawled across racing grids the world over. But it’s in Mille’s unmistakable skeleton-dial watches that his obsession truly manifests itself. From aluminum-and-carbon fiber casings to shock-resistant movements as precise as a four-stroke turbocharged V6 engine, the similarities between Mille’s sleek, ultra-luxe watches and the world’s most bleeding-edge racing cars are striking.
And yet, for his latest limited edition timepiece, the bearded, rakishly stylish 66-year-old turned to an unexpected inspiration: cycling. It’s a sport that Mille—like any self-respecting Frenchman—grew up with, and one that has recently joined his ever-growing list of passions.
“I am stunned by the power cyclists churn out,” says Mille, who can be found logging serious miles on his local country lanes when he’s not bombing around those same roads behind the wheel of his Lancia Stratos rally car. He has also been following the Tour de France in person, often in the backseat of a commissioner’s car embedded in the fast-moving peloton. In 2016, after Mille struck up a friendship with professional cyclist Mark Cavendish, he gifted the Welshman his personal Felipe Massa Flyback Chronograph. The decorated sprinter won his 29th Tour de France stage the following day, the timepiece strapped firmly on his wrist.
Such are the fortunes of a man who has built a business based as much on spontaneity as on rigorous devotion to detail. But, as befitting any true gear head, it was the technical innovations of modern racing bikes that most intrigued Mille. “The introduction of composites, the lighter materials, the performance gains in gear assemblies, these were revolutionary,” Mille says. “As a tech fanatic, I appreciate the many subtleties involved.”
To create a Tour de France–worthy timepiece, Mille knew he needed a collaborator. But rather than looking toward any number of world-class cycling companies for this venture, the watchmaker returned to his first love—Formula One. As it turned out, Mille’s longtime friend, four-time F1 champ Alain Prost, had been bitten by the biking bug as well.
“Richard is the one who had the idea for this watch,” recalls Prost, who at the height of his career was known as “The Professor,” due to his cerebral approach to car racing. “He wanted to blend automobiles and bicycles.” Prost himself began cycling at the behest of his trainer more than two decades ago. (The idea was that the sport would help better condition him for the demands of F1 driving—a sport where heart rates consistently exceed 160 bpm.) Today, Prost rides upwards of 200 kilometers a week, and regularly competes in races like the vertiginous L’Étape du Tour and the prestigious Masters World Cycling Championships.
The RM 70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost—which is limited to 30 collectors’ pieces—is the result of Mille and Prost’s three-year collaboration. On it, you’ll find numerous nods to cycling. Take, for instance, aesthetic details such as a barrel ratchet resembling a spoked wheel and a dynamometric crown evoking a pedal. For those more concerned with engineering, there’s the Grade 5 titanium used for both the baseplate and the Allen screws, which provides a stiffness capable of withstanding the roughest of road conditions, whether the local tarmac or the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix.
Of course, this being a Richard Mille creation, form always follows function. So, much like he’s done before for athletes including tennis star Rafael Nadal, golfer Bubba Watson and Jamaican runner Yohan Blake, he’s created a watch perfectly optimized for the day-to-day demands of sport. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the tonneau’s rectangular and asymmetrical carbon cage, which molds to the wrist without ever digging into the skin no matter where you grip the drop bars on a road bike.
The biggest innovation, however, belongs to the titanium odometer, a five-digit roller readout that allows riders to easily add the day’s distance to their ongoing tally. Cyclists live and die by their metrics. But while most will rattle off figures like their maximum heart rate or the average amount of watts they can generate in an hour, Prost found that few can recall the total mileage they’ve logged at the end of the season. The RM 70-01 solves that problem. By pressing the pusher at 2 o’clock, a cyclist can activate any of the odometer’s five rollers, while the pusher at 10 o’clock allows the rider to increase the number by increments of one. And there’s no danger of slipping up, thanks to a spring-lock neutral position that protects you from accidentally moving the wrong roller.
Sure, most cycling computers offer an odometer—one that automatically calculates total miles—at ten-thousandths of the cost, but anyone who’s resorting to basic bean counting clearly isn’t in the Richard Mille demographic.
For those who are, the RM 70-01, which is priced at a cool $815,000, comes with an added bonus: a hand-built Colnago carbon racing bike with an electronic Campagnolo drive train and thoroughbred Italian pedigree that evokes the spirit of Formula One.
The timeless Cartier Tank celebrates its first centennial.
By Sara James Mnookin
“I don’t wear a Tank to tell the time . . . I wear a Tank because it’s the watch to wear.” – Andy Warhol
It was sleeker than the Santos, evoking an aerial view of the tank, with elongated brancards on either side of a square compact case—a design innovation that also solved a nagging dilemma in those early days of the wristwatch: how to join a flat band to a round face. “The majority of men’s wristwatches during World War I were converted pocket watches,” says Nate Borgelt, international senior specialist at Sotheby’s. “The Tank, a design directly based on a machine for war, was masculine, made from the ground up to be worn on the wrist.”
According to Cartier lore, the first Tank was offered to General John Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces (who would later rise to garner an unofficial six-star status as General of the Armies). Soon thereafter, Cartier placed six pieces in its stores, which sold out in record time.
“It was really the first high-profile celebrity watch,” says Marion Fasel, founder and editorial director of the fine jewelry blog, The Adventurine, who points to the precise moment that cemented the Tank’s iconic status, when “silent-film star Rudolph Valentino insisted on wearing it in The Son of the Sheik.” Dubiously dressed in a turban and a wristwatch, Valentino may have made little narrative sense on screen, but he changed sartorial history, inspiring men from London to L.A. to shelve their pocket watches for good.
“Stars have been wearing the style ever since,” Fasel adds. Its strong lines and formidable military credentials have indeed drawn a platoon of famous admirers—among them, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Marcello Mastroianni, Alain Delon, Frank Sinatra, and Warren Beatty. Truman Capote claimed to own no fewer than eight Tanks—enough to pull one off his wrist and give it to a passing journalist whose style he found lacking. Capote’s friend Andy Warhol never even wound his, famously remarking, “I don’t wear a Tank watch to tell the time… I wear a Tank watch because it’s the watch to wear.” Yves Saint Laurent evidently agreed.
So did many women. Greta Garbo, trailblazing androgyny, naturally wanted a Tank on her wrist. Sex bombs Brigitte Bardot and Elizabeth Taylor used it almost as a counterweight, to cool off their curves. Ingrid Bergman and Grace Kelly ensured the style became de rigueur for willowy WASPs throughout Europe and the U.S., while Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis carried the Tank trend well into the unisex-obsessed 1970s.
It seems that, for many women, the Tank has become a kind of armor. Recall Princess Diana’s frequent appearances in her black-strapped Tank L.C. or yellow gold Tank Française in the years after her painful split from Prince Charles.
“It is neither too masculine nor too feminine,” Fasel says. “The design is really the golden mean.”
Such wide reach is hardly mere happenstance. The Tank not only pioneered watch design, but also its marketing, as one of the first styles to be sold by size rather than sex. Freed from traditional boundaries, many men found they preferred the trimmer lines of the smaller case, and a few ladies elected to size up. The Tank opened up new ground between genders, carving out space for vanguards to challenge fashion (and thus societal) norms—and all long before most of the world was ready to grapple with the concept of that sort of fluidity.
“If all tanks were made by Cartier, we’d have the time to live in peace.” – Jean-Charles de Castelbajac
The De Stijl movement, also born in 1917, called for simplicity in design, isolating elements down to form and color. Cartier’s Tank thus has its own specific vernacular—a crisp roman-numeral dial, blue-steel hands, and a sapphire cabochon crown, although the house has never shied away from tinkering with this formula. “The style has a very recognizable language, modified to keep it relevant and new,” Borgelt says. By changing small aspects—size, angles, the way the crown is elongated or shortened, the colors of the stones and cabochons—Cartier prevented the classic from ever feeling quite done.
In 1921 alone, the face was stretched into the Tank Cintrée, which followed the natural curvature of the wrist, and the case lines were made to overlap the brancards for the luxe Tank Chinoise. An extra-flat version, the Tank Normale, arrived in 1964, and the bolder, sturdier Américaine, in 1988. Bucking the gritty minimalism of the ’90s, the Tank Française flashed its shiny steel and gold bracelets, starting in 1996.
Today, Borgelt says the most collectible Tanks tend to be “any limited editions or vintage pieces, particularly from their London workshops or with European Watch and Clock Company movements.”
To celebrate the style’s 100th birthday, Cartier has released 13 new models in four of the Tank families: the Tank Louis Cartier, Française, Américaine and Cintrée. The dearest are a pair of Cintrée skeleton watches with mechanical movements and manual winding, in pink-gold and platinum, for $56,000 and $62,000 respectively.
Flammarion published a sumptuous new book, The Cartier Tank Watch, on November 14. In it, frequent collaborator Franco Cologni charts the Tank’s evolution, reminding the world that, in the age of the Apple Watch, there is still only one definitive rectangular timepiece.
“Tanks will be with us as long as watches are worn,” Borgelt predicts. And presumably that will be for at least a few more days.