Category Archives: Best Swiss watches

Ball Rescue Chronograph on Pre-Order Now

Ball just keep remixing that Roadmaster formula, with the latest variant being the Rescue Chronograph. Here’s the blurb;

Whether by air, land or sea, every rescue mission is unique. But there’s one common truth: timing is everything. A purpose-built tool for critical search and rescue situations, the new Roadmaster Rescue Chronograph delivers extreme accuracy, easy readability and high functionality.

Engineered with a patented pusher locking system, the chronograph function works in unison with the pulsometer scale to measure heart rate, while two illuminated sub-dial counters track elapsed time.

And for countdowns at all hours, the ceramic diving bezel features a bold micro gas tube inset. Vital functionality and versatile form that’s ready to venture wherever necessary.

Constructed from a titanium-steel combination, the 41mm case affords high impact strength, lightweight wearing comfort and trusted durability – even at extreme temperatures.

And with a case thickness of just 14.8mm, the tool watch fits securely with diverse types of gear. Atop the robust case, the steel bezel features a virtually scratchproof ceramic ring with countdown markings.

In the centre of the triangular marking, a micro gas tube inset ensures an instantly bright glow in darkness, allowing the uni-directional rotating bezel to be used for countdowns at all hours.

The latest addition to the Roadmaster Rescue Chronograph with black ceramic bezel inset put the focus on the dial design with the popular “panda” and “reverse panda” colorways. Limited to 1,000 pieces each, it is now available for pre-order until 17 September 2021 at an exclusive price of £1590.

 

Bell+Ross BR-5 GMT: Tool Watch Simplicity

The GMT is a watch tradition that never goes out of fashion. Yes, most of us don’t travel that much now that Covid19 has provided climate zealots with the ammunition to shutdown overseas jaunts for the 80%, but still, a GMT looks good. Plus it helps you stay in sync with an overseas office if you work in say global IT, insurance, media production etc.

Now Bell+Ross have that aircraft heritage and that cockpit dial gauge style thing going on. All good. The screwdown bezel gives it a too, watch focus, a utilitarian feel. Ditto the integrated bracelet links, which add a sort of `hewn from metal’ vibe.

Then there’s the stark white-on-black numbers and markers. Functional for sure, but also punchy, eye-catching and sort of timeless. This won’t go out of fashion like some Swiss watches do – anyone still collecting Ebel chronographs with their huge pushers and rounded off cases? Nope, thought not.

At 41mm across, it’s the right size, it also looks pure tool-watch slick, stripped down and ready to travel. No fancy additions, not even a day to sit alongside the date window.

This is a pricey watch at £4100 on a textured strap, £4500 on a bracelet. For all its super-clean, brushed steel brilliance the Bell+Ross BR-5 range is Sellita powered, albeit decorated and upgarded by the B&R concern.

That is a heck of a price to pay for a Sellita powered watch, so our verdict is spend the £4500 on a different GMT, like a pre-owned Explorer maybe, or even a new Tudor Black Bay. You will hold the watch value better in the long run because B&R simply does not have the fanbase in the UK that big brands like Rolex, Tudor, Omega, Breitling et al has, or ever will have.

Like so many watches that dare to be genuinely different, B&R pay the price in the fickle collector market.

TAG Aquaracer 300: New Night Diver Variants

Is a TAG watch cool or not? That’s a tough one, because a Monaco in Gulf colours, or even the blue dial, is a winner. Some of the Carrera models also look the business, as do the fume dial Autavias, with their vintage 70s racing driver vibe remixed for the modern era perfectly. But then, there’s the quartz stuff..and that smartwatch thing. Hmm.

But the Aquaracer has its fans, and for good reason; this is a dive watch you can wear with a suit and it looks distinctive, quality and reasonably fresh. Here’s the word from TAG;

INTRODUCING THE NIGHT DIVER

Following the launch of the new TAG Heuer Aquaracer
Professional 300 series during Watches and Wonders Geneva in April, TAG Heuer announces three additions to the go-anywhere family of watches, including a new iteration of a TAG Heuer icon, the all-black, lume-dialled TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 Night Diver.

TAG Heuer enthusiasts will recognise the name “Night Diver”, which was first introduced in the mid-1980s. Loved by active, style-conscious watch buyers who push their limits, exploring nature and
going beyond the edge, it became one of the most celebrated sports watches of its era.

Today’s TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 collection picks up this story. TAG Heuer’s design, engineering and heritage teams worked together to deliver a faithful update to a much-loved watch,
retaining and improving signature details such as the famous 12-sided bezel and the dial’s horizontal engraved lines to produce a refined, highly versatile modern classic.

So there are now 11 references in the new Aquaracer line-up. All three new models are non-limited and go into the core collection, each with a 43 mm stainless steel case and rubber strap equipped with TAG Heuer’s innovative adjustable folding clasp.

The new black and blue versions pick up on the bracelet models introduced at Watches and Wonders: both are colour-themed with matching black or blue dials, ceramic bezel inserts and rubber straps.
The standout model of the release is the black DLC-coated Night Diver, joining the TAG Heuer AquaracerProfessional 300 Tribute to Ref. 844 as the collection’s hero pieces.

Its stainless-steel case, bezel, crown, caseback and clasp are all coated in matt black diamond-like carbon, known as DLC, a high- performance, hard-wearing finish designed for use in extreme conditions. The bezel insert is highly resistant black ceramic.

EXTRA LUME

The Night Diver’s other signature feature is its fully luminescent dial, which is coated in green SuperLumiNova® to deliver exceptional glow-in-the-dark performance. To ensure ultimate legibility in extreme low-light conditions, the watch’s minute and central seconds hands are filled with blue lume to contrast with the green of the dial.

The hour hand and octagonal hour markers at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock are filled with green lume, and the remaining octagonal hour markers are all edged with black lacquer. The triangle on the unidirectional rotating bezel at 12, which is crucial to accurately and safely measure dive times, is also filled with striking blue lume to match the blue of the minute and central seconds hands.

FUNCTIONALITY

There’s a unidirectional rotating bezel, a screw-down crown, water resistance to at least 200 metres, luminous markings, a scratch-resistant crystal and a double safety clasp.

The 12 sides of the bezel are all faceted for grip, the crown is protected to prevent accidental damage and there’s a magnifying glass over the date, which is integrated into the underside of the sapphire crystal, making it smooth to the touch.

UK Prices start at £2250.

VERDICT; What we like about the Aquaracer 300m dive models is that you are getting much the same spec as the Omega Seamaster, but without the £3500-£4500 price tag. Forgive the pun. It’s a versatile watch, and at 43mm suits most wrists. You will always find someone wants to buy it from you pre-owned as well, and often for a decent percentage of the original RRP.

The many-sided bezel also adds a little difference, a bit of visual appeal, because so many dive watches – and all their homages – essentially look the same; round case 40-44mm, uni bezel with big lume numbers, cyclops and a screwdown protected crown. Sometimes a detail like the 12-sided feature makes you, the owner, stand out from the crowd. That’s a good thing we reckon.

Watch Investing: Five Watch Brands Best Avoided

We all know that flipping a Rolex is a no-brainer. If you can get a new Rolex Sub, Daytona or Sea-Dweller then you can sell it a few months later and probably make between 5K and 20K profit.

That’s why some Rolex dealers have three year waiting lists, they are the world’s safest investment this side of a detached property in Surrey. Not the Milgauss or the Air-King obviously, nobody really likes those.

But some watch brands not only fail to rise in value, they can lose you a fortune too, sometimes over 50% of the retail price in under two years. Depends on the model naturally, but here are some tips on which supposed `prestige’ brands are often a poor investment.

FAVRE LEUBA

Titan/Tata the car maker thought they would revive an old Swiss brand and yes, they produced some nice watches. The Favre-Leuba Raider for example is a nice Valjoux 7753 powered chronograph. But is it worth over two grand? Not really.

Titan are scaling down Favre-Leuba watch production this year and cutting their losses. The sorry episode shows you need more than an 18th century heritage to sell watches. If you’re tempted to buy an Favre-Leuba in the closing down sale our advice is don’t, you’ll never live long enough to see a return on that investment.

ETERNA

Once the byword for Swiss movement quality, the old Eterna name morphed into ETA, which still powers many watches today – made in Singapore, Swizerland or the UK.

Now Eterna produces Sellita powered automatics which are OK, albeit slightly dated in terms of style. That wouldn’t matter if they were charging Rotary or Seiko Tuna money RRP, but at £1700 or more an Eterna is a really huge waste of money. Look hard enough online and you can find some of them at £400.

Don’t buy the Eterna Kon-Tiki at £1600 thinking you will make money. With just 200m of depth resistance and a Sellita SW200 inside it Eterna are really taking the pi** frankly. There are better watches in the Christopher Ward range for £700.

HAMILTON

Ask 100 random watch browsers in a shop where they think Hamilton watches are made and I guarantee that at least 10 of them will say the USA. Still, after decades of being part of the Swatch Group, people still believe Hamilton is a US watch brand.

Try selling a Hamilton Jazzmaster (WTH is that name all about?), Khaki or even a Ventura at a watch shop or pawnbrokers and you will be shocked at the low offer.  Typically under £200 with box n papers. The problem is that many collectors have twigged that Hamilton use the same Powermatic 80 movement as the entry level Tissot models, which is a perfectly OK movement, but still.

The Intra-Matic looks nice but inside you’ll find the ancient Valjoux 7753 engine, adapted and tweaked. For £1600 that’s not a great deal.

You can buy lots of vintage Valjoux 7753 powered watches online for £600-£900 and you might actually make some cash. Need we go on? Buy a vintage Hamilton instead.

MONTBLANC

Looks like an IWC. Just buy an IWC. Better bet.

I once had a Montblanc foutain pen, lovely thing. That’s the trouble, many collectors still think this is a pen and accessory brand, not a watch brand.

Owned by Richemont, the Montblanc factory produces some amazing limited editions but their bread n butter range is seen gathering dust in many High Street jewellers shops. Unloved and viewed with some suspicion.

BREMONT

Controversial eh? Much as I like to support watchmaking in the UK,  after working 18 months in a pawnbrokers shop I had ONE, yes one, enquiry to see and try on a Bremont watch which languished in the window. The pre-owned Breitlings, TAGs, Rolex, Omega and other fast-moving models all had collectors asking to view on a daily basis.

These are beautifully made watches, very heavy too, so you feel like you’re getting lots of watch for the money. But four grand retail for the MBII or ALT P2? You will need an ejector seat when your wife finds out you spent 4K on a watch she’s never heard of. Fact.

 

 

 

Two Variations on the Tribute 1 From Armin Strom

We had some info from Armin Strom, here’s the press release;

Luxury watch manufacture Armin Strom has announced the launch of two new models of its ground-breaking Tribute 1. The brand’s post-modern interpretation of the classic dress watch was introduced in June of this year in an edition limited to only 25 pieces, which sold out quickly. Watch aficionados who missed the opportunity to acquire the Tribute 1 First Edition in grey with an 18k white gold barrel bridge now have the chance to add one of the new models to their collections. The two references – one with a black dial and one with a blue dial – are available in limited editions of 100 each.

Armin Strom’s unique twist on time

From a distance, the Armin Strom Tribute 1 watch may appear to be a classic manually-wound dress watch. It has an exquisitely proportioned 38 mm stainless steel case with an enticingly slender profile. It is presented on an elegant alligator strap. So far, it’s everything you would expect in an haute horlogerie dress watch. But a closer inspection immediately reveals that while Master Watchmaker Claude Greisler has embraced time-honoured watchmaking traditions, he has, in fact, again redefined the genre with a watch that will appeal to men and women who treasure the brand’s unique twist on time.

A study in three dimensions

Like every Armin Strom watch, the Tribute 1 is a study in three dimensions. It starts with an understated off-centre dial displaying hours, minutes and seconds. In attractively stark contrast to the dial is an adjacent plate whose grenage finish subtly transitions the hue of the dial from one shade to another as the light changes. The already distinctive face is rounded out with a barrel bridge, a feature that has become a hallmark in Armin Strom’s exclusive timepieces. The Tribute 1’s crown is located at 2 o’clock, a detail that enhances wearer comfort.

With a highly efficient motor barrel, whose arbor turns around the mainspring, the in-house Calibre AMW21 delivers a jaw-dropping 100-hour power reserve.

Exceptional hand finishing

The Tribute 1 watches are also characterized by Armin Strom’s commitment to exceptional hand-finishing of its movements. Claude Geisler says, “I’m obsessed with every detail of this watch, particularly when it comes to finishing. For example, the barrel, visible on the dial side of the timepiece, is meticulously hand-decorated, which is extremely time consuming. We also manufacture, polish and decorate the hands in-house, which is painstaking but ensures the quality while keeping the price reasonable.”

Price is about £11,000 by the way. Then you have VAT and import duty on top. That said, it’s cheaper than a Patek Calatrava.

We See Your Royal Oak, And We Pay Homage

Yes Bulgari, we see what you did with your latest Octo model, launched recently at Geneva Watch Days. The runaway success of the AP Royal Oak is something to be admired and let’s be honest, get a slice of the octagonal action by releasing more iterations of the Octo format.

So you have an eight-side bezel on this Bulgari model, which joins the existing Octo model line-up. This latest one has a Worldtimer dial display with Roma right at the top – well, you expect that.

The movement is an in-house Cal BVL257, which has similar gear work linking the auto rotor to the old Uno watches from the 60s and 70s, which I think were ETA powered. 42 hours reserve, which is pretty standard these days.

Here’s the word from Bulgari;

Jumping at a glance from one time zone to another, the Octo Roma WorldTimer serves as an open invitation to travel. Driven by a new integrated movement comprising 261 components, this creation renews the genre of a classic function, the WorldTimer, and propels it into the contemporary world by playing with temporal boundaries and enabling instant reading of the time in 24 cities.

This elegantly understated model with its iconic case is one of the most emblematic and timeless designs of 21st century Haute Horlogerie.

Octo Roma WorldTimer watch with mechanical manufacture movement, automatic winding, World Timer, 24 time zones and 24-hour indicator, hours, minutes and seconds, BVL257 caliber, 42-hour power reserve, 28,800 VpH (4Hz). 41 mm case (11.35 thick) in satin-brushed and polished stainless steel, blue sunburst dial and indicators, applied brushed rhodium-plated gold hour-markers, plus transparent caseback.

There’s a screw-lock stainless steel crown set with ceramic inlay serving to set the time as well as the cities indication, bracelet in satin-brushed and polished stainless steel with triple-blade folding clasp. Water-resistant up to 100 meters.

Price is £7100, you can buy online from the Bulgari website.

VERDICT; Way cheaper than a Royal Oak and a great looker. But arguably the Bulgari name is not really a safe investment like  Rolex, AP, Breitling, IWC or other established watch brands. We would probably take a Grand Seiko at five grand over this AP homage, because the GS goes its own way and boasts a decades old heritage.

Ball Engineer Skindiver: Perfect All-Rounder?

The latest from Ball watches is a classic design in our humble opinion. Not too big at 41.5mm across, two beautiful blue dial options, plus a great tech spec for the watch fan who wants soemthing versatile enough to handle watersports, but compact for everyday use too. Here’s the word from Ball;

The Engineer M Skindiver III series pulls together our signature features and next-generation capability, all while showcasing a few vintage touches.

Our one-of-a-kind micro gas tubes have been integrated below the ultra-durable domed sapphire bezel, ensuring extreme readability in all darkness. On the wrist, the 41.5mm diameter and 14mm height pair with 5mm domed sapphire crystal and drilled lugs to deliver the perfect mix of toughness and comfort.

And amid harsh knocks, our patented resistance technology shields the COSC certified precision of our in-house caliber. The newest in our long line of trusted divers, the Engineer M Skindiver III series is a game-changer for dark depths and watchmaking.

The Engineer M Skindiver III is available only at the BALL Watch official online store. Limited to 1,000 pieces, the latest addition – the Beyond in blue domed sapphire bezel is available for pre-order until 29 September 2021 at an exclusive price of £2200 ofr the entry level model, and £2950 for the top of the raneg which has some extra gas tube lume.

More here.

Ball Roadmaster Ocean Explorer

The Roadmaster Ocean Explorer equips you with a rotating external bezel that indicates high and low tides for a two-week period, while our in-house movement module reveals spring and neap tides alongside an illuminated moon phase indicator.
Designed to move against the current, it delivers toughness presented in a 41mm stainless steel case with robust water resistance. Its unique character and performance combine to create the ultimate watch for the open seas.
Limited to 1,000 pieces each. Pre-order now at a limited-time price until 1 september 2021, which is £1980.
Please remember, to avoid looking like a Dilbert, please don’t buy this watch unless you have sailing boat.

Ball Roadmaster Rescue Gets The Panda Treatment

Yep, Ball did that panda dial thing and we think it has a real visual punch. Here’s the word from Ball Watches;

A purpose-built tool for critical search and rescue situations, the new Roadmaster Rescue Chronograph delivers extreme accuracy, easy readability and high functionality. Engineered with a patented pusher locking system, the chronograph function works in unison with the pulsometer scale to measure heart rate, while two illuminated sub-dial counters track elapsed time.

And for countdowns at all hours, the ceramic diving bezel features a bold micro gas tube inset. Vital functionality and versatile form that’s ready to venture wherever necessary.

See the promo video here;

The latest addition to the Roadmaster Rescue Chronograph with black ceramic bezel inset put the focus on the dial design with the popular “panda” and “reverse panda” colorways. Limited to 1,000 pieces each, it is now available for pre-order until 17 September 2021 at an exclusive price of £1590.

 

 

Jaeger le-Coultre Proves Diamonds Are Forever

We don’t often cover ladies watches here at the Northern Watch Co maga and it isn’t because we don’t like them, or we hate women like trans activists seem to. No. It’s just because they are rarely collectable and the reason is that women usually have better things to do than collect watches, tinker with them, obsess over movements, springs, complications or any of that blokey oneupmanship.

But this Rendezvous model from JLC is really something special. I mean look at the way the diamonds are set around the bezel. It is a masterpiece of the jeweller’s art and I speak as someone who has glued in several CZ stones. Badly.

Yes, they even put a diamond in the winding crown. You would be scared to touch this thing. Best plan is just put inside a Pink Panther style glass vault, surrounded by alarms and look at it sometimes as you would do with a Monet or a Carravaggio.

That Lapis Lazuli dial has bold numbers, a stuning moonphase complication and inside there is a Cal 935 movement. JLC says that it needs no adjustment for 972 years. Who are we to argue?

Let’s just be glad that such obsessive devotion to creating truly mind-blowing timepieces still exists at JLC and other houses of horology. Sometimes watchmaking is all about the boundaries of space and time.