The past month has presented the watch loving world with a truly immense selection of new models, not least the selection of new Patek Philippe Models. Today I would like to highlight five releases which have caught my attention for their beauty, cleverness, or their controversy. Please do note that I will not discuss the new Omega Seamaster 300M 007 Limited Edition nor will I address the Bell & Ross BR 05 as these already have their own articles here at Watch Chronicler.
The Traveller’s Diver – Aquadive Poseidon GMT
The first watch which has caught my eye is a new piece from Aquadive, a brand resurrected in 2011 after closing its doors in the 1980s under pressure from quartz watches. However, this is a brand which enjoyed a very rich history amongst early dive watches in the 1960s through the 1980s. As a consequence, their watches and designs were forged amongst the eccentrically cased extreme dive watches of the 1970s — an aesthetic continued to the present day.
Recently announced, the new newest addition to the range is the Poseidon GMT. As has been the case with Doxas in the past, this watch is the product of a collaboration with the Swedish diving equipment firm Poseidon. Founded in 1958 and now purveyor of diving gear to the Swedish Royal Family, Poseidon was the first brand to produce single-hose scuba regulators. Clearly, they are the ideal counterpart to Aquadive. This partnership is presented on the dive watch through a large Poseidon logo on the dial giving a vintage touch to the looks of this austere and technical diver.
Offered in a limited run of 300 pieces, the Poseidon GMT features a 42mm barrel case with a very finely brushed surface. It is also adorned with polished bevels to give a vintage lustre whilst retaining a premium feel in the hand. The beauty of this shape is that it offers a large diameter, whilst keeping a 49mm lug-to-lug length which is wearable or possibly even comfortable for most. With a screw-down crown, the watch is also able to offer a 1,000m water resistance: effectively as deep as any diver would need a watch to go considering that the record for experimental saturation diving rests at 701m. Intriguingly, Aquadive chose to omit the helium escape valve from this professional diver. With that being said, many modern divers do not need such devices even for saturation diving due to development of more effective gaskets.
“…a fascinating mix of modernity and a certain minimal vintage charm.”
Rising conically from the case is the bezel which, due to the slim mid-case, does not make the watch overbearing or unwieldy. In true Aquadive style, it features matted and polished surfaces for visual interest whilst offering 120 clicks and a ceramic insert which is luminous. The dial is matte black with a strong luminous treatment on both the hands and the markers. Whilst simple, the quality of the dial is unmistakably good and gives a fascinating mix of modernity and a certain minimal vintage charm. In order to create visual division for legibility, the GMT hand and corresponding chapter ring are both a distinctive Poseidon yellow and are not luminous.
Within this watch’s German-made case is housed a very well respected Swiss automatic movement in the form of the ETA 2893-2. This offers a 42 hour power reserve and gives a smooth 4Hz beat rate. Admittedly, it does not feature an independent hour function; this really is no issue as a second timezone is evidently also a secondary function on what is primarily a dive watch.
All in all, this Aquadive promises to be an impressive alternative to Doxa, especially with a competitive price of £1,400 in the UK market.
’70s Madness – Hamilton Chrono-Matic 50 Auto Chrono
The next piece in this video is something of an enigma as it has not, to my knowledge, been officially announced by Hamilton and neither have full specifications been released. What is entirely clear is that no major public attention has been directed at this model: a shame in my opinion. The watch in question is the Hamilton American Classic Chrono-Matic 50, and is a watch which marks the 50th anniversary of the famous calibre 11.
For those who are unfamiliar with the calibre 11, this was a movement released in 1969 as one of the contestants for the crown of being the first automatic chronograph movement. Importantly, it is not to be confused with the modern TAG-Heuer calibre 11 which is unrelated. The origins of this movement are found in a collaboration between Hamilton, Heuer, Breitling, Buren and Dubois-Depraz. Composed of a Buren micro-rotor automatic movement and a Dubois-Depraz chronograph module, calibre 11 was not fully integrated like the Zenith El Primero. Uniquely, the curious movement design meant that the crown was placed on the opposite side of the case to the pushers resulting in a characteristic appearance.
The watch in question upon which this new piece is based is the ‘Chronograph E’ which was released in 1972. Oddly enough, this watch did not feature the calibre 11 at all but rather its GMT counterpart, the calibre 14. The modern watch’s stainless-steel case is immense at 48.5mm in diameter and 51.5mm from end to end but, to a Speedmaster Mark III owner like me, is absolutely stunning. Its case is largely brushed with a matted crown and a very heavily box-domed sapphire crystal over the top for vintage effect. It also offers a 100m water resistance for everyday use. The dial is satisfyingly complex with a reverse-panda arrangement, an internal tachymetre and a countdown bezel operated from the left-hand crown. Red is seen across this timepiece and even on the chronograph pushers which are placed on the right-hand side of the case. Where the pushers and crown are concerned, Hamilton has used the ‘ears’ of the case to conceal the movement’s different functions placement of functions.
Internally, the watch features the Hamilton H31, an automatic chronograph movement derived from the Valjoux 7750. However, being produced by the Swatch Group it has several quirks which appear similar to those of some of Longines’ movements. It features a horizontal sub-dial layout displaying the running seconds and chronograph minutes with the date at 6 o’clock. The power reserve has been extended from 46 to 60 hours whilst, due to the new orientation, the quick-set date operates from the black pusher instead of from a crown position. In truth, my only major complaint is that it does not feature the original GMT function. This does make me wonder whether it would have been better to recreate an actual calibre 11 watch, rather than this more complex vintage.
Offered in a limited run of 1972 pieces for a price of £2,150, it is not cheap. Considering what you get for that though, I think that it’s a great deal for those who like something different.
Simplicity at its Best – Nomos Metro 33
There is remarkably little to be said about this most recent Nomos — the Metro 33 — since it’s a watch which offers a delightfully simple package. Designed with Mark Braun, this could be the 21st century’s answer to beautiful 1950s dress watches with a near-perfect mix of 20th century elegance and the modern urban world.
“…one is greeted with a delicate silver-plated white dial…”
Shrunk to a delightfully dainty 33mm size, this watch, with its stippled crown and beautiful wire shape lugs, is presented in 18K rose gold with a subtly domed sapphire crystal and sapphire case-back. Through the front one is greeted with a delicate silver-plated white dial with very modern and sober markings. No complications but the time are offered, thus making it less complex than many preceding models in the Metro line. The hands are rose gold and a pseudo-syringe shape whilst the minute markings are purple: a delightful little touch to retain playfulness. Most evident is the fact that this watch is for the purist who enjoys perfect symmetry.
Mechanically, this watch is as simple as it seems. The movement used is the Nomos Alpha calibre: an in-house movement loosely based on the architecture of the Peseux 7001. It is fully decorated and, due to being manually wound, is beautiful to look at with visible blued screws. This 17 jewel movement also offers a 43 hour power reserve: a perfectly acceptable specification for a dress watch. Of course, a more complex movement would have been welcome although this movement is perhaps more in keeping with the watch as a whole.
The new Metro 33 offers something new to a customer as, whilst not giving an elaborate movement, it does give a solid gold dress watch for £5,600. This is a markedly lower price than previous gold Nomos timepieces due to the simplicity of the concept.
Straight from the ’80s – Chopard Alpine Eagle
Perhaps the most controversial of releases this month is the new Chopard Alpine Eagle: a brand-new stainless-steel luxury sports watch with an integrated bracelet. I think, even with those first 26 words, some eyebrows will have been raised.
For that reason, let’s first of all address the elephant in the room. This new Chopard is based upon their 1980 release of the St Moritz. This was a luxury watch which featured an integrated bracelet and a screwed bezel — very much features of their era. It was released in a period when popular designs such as Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak, Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, IWC’s Ingenieur SL and Vacheron Constantin’s 222 were leading the way for a new design aesthetic. At the time, the St Moritz was one of the quirkier pieces yielded by this period with a large bezel which overhung the case. Whilst dormant for a significant period, growing admiration for Gerald Genta’s work and importance in design history has boosted demand for this style. Unsurprisingly, brands such as Bell & Ross have released their own homages to this format, yet I do not see any issue with Chopard resurrecting one of their own designs from the period based upon popularity. Is it sacrilegious or wrong? No, it is not. Is it unimaginative? I think so.
“…beautifully textured in a gentle spiral of coarse furrows…”
However, once that’s out of the way, this is actually a very interesting and, in my estimation, very well-conceived watch. It comes in two main families, the large version which is 41mm wide by 9.7mm thick, and the small version which is 36mm wide by 8.4mm thick. The large model comes in steel and steel-and-gold, whilst the small version comes in a myriad of variants using steel, gold and diamonds. Evidently, Chopard have a clear idea of the target demographic for each. The first curious aspect of this watch is in the very materials chosen. In keeping with Chopard’s commitments, the gold used is ethically sourced and the steel is Lucent Steel A223. This alloy is 50% harder than normal steels as well as reflecting light better than 316L. The result is a claimed superior lustre, although without yet having seen it in person, I cannot comment on the result.
The dials are beautifully textured in a gentle spiral of coarse furrows whilst the date is offered on the larger version only. As one can expect from Chopard, the detailing is excellent and the hands are impeccably shaped and bevelled to match the Roman numerals. Dial text has also been kept to a minimum, without even the world ‘automatic’ finding its way into the design. Where the bracelet is concerned, we are presented with a particularly beautiful row of flat links connected by hidden joints which can be removed with screws. I find this to be a particularly elegant way to modernise the original design whilst retaining the polished bracelet centre. The ears of the original St Moritz’s bezel are echoed in the flanks of the new case and the crown-guards and particular attention has been given to aligning the bezel screws.
Technically, Chopard’s experience is unmistakable and each of the two sizes feature different in-house movements, both of which are COSC chronometer certified and automatic bit different. The smaller features the calibre 09.01-C which beats at 7 ticks per second with a 42 hour power reserve and the large uses the cal. 01.01-C which gives 8 ticks per second and a 60 hour power reserve. Both movements are very well decorated and feature attractive bevelling but also make full use of their respective case sizes considering the inferior specifications of the 36mm version.
With prices starting at CHF 9,760 for the smaller and CHF 12,450 for the larger, it is undoubtedly not badly priced, but I cannot help but be left cold by the design due to its evident interests to latch onto a market trend rather than forging a new path for the brand.
Simply Exquisite – A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon “25th Anniversary”
The final watch in this roundup was, in truth, inevitable. It represents the final and most elaborate watch in the 25th anniversary series from A. Lange & Söhne. This collection has been released in a steady trickle over the past few months and has offered increasingly complex reinterpretations of existing models with a few specific details.
“…blue reigns supreme as is the case across the 25th anniversary range. “
For many, the Lange 1 is the most perfect expression of this brand’s approach to watchmaking. With its decentralised display, quietly thoughtful demeanour and sober presentation, it is the zenith of Teutonic design. This particular arrangement with its small seconds, power reserve indicator, large date and tourbillon was released originally in 2000. It was later refined and, in this 25th anniversary form, has a large aperture cut onto the dial in order to view the tourbillon, the hacking function and the sapphire date wheel. Otherwise the dial is silver and, across all print and the thermally treated hands, blue reigns supreme as is the case across the 25th anniversary range.
If one turns over the 38.5mm 18K white gold case which provides heft despite a 9.8mm thickness, one is greeted with the stunning in-house cal L961.4. Witnessing any of this house’s watchmaking is one of life’s great joys and this is no exception. A 51 jewel movement with a three day power reserve is largely covered by a large plate yet, even here, the striping and gold chatons are exquisite. The screws are perfectly formed and any view of motion is well chosen.
The movement is made from uncoated nickel silver which, counterintuitively, is not a form of silver and lends a warm tone. A highlight of this watch is the use of diamonds as endstones on either side of the tourbillon in order to reduce wear. In the style of this limited series, the two cocks at the bottom of the movement are hand engraved and coloured blue with a depiction of the large date displaying number 25. This both celebrates the anniversary and mimics the displays of watches on displayed when Lange relaunched on the 24th of October 1994. These early watches were set in such a way in order to show the correct date in the following day’s newspapers.
Of course, as the culmination of these limited editions produced by this remarkable brand this year, the price was always going to be high. In this case, ‘high’ is 165,000 Euros for each of the 25 examples to be produced. In any case, however, they are marvels to be appreciated by all who witness them.