Tag Archives: 38mm

Watch Trends: Is 38mm The New 42mm, Just Asking?

There are more 38mm watches breaking cover right now than we can keep up with, so let’s have a look at some we missed over 2021. By the way is 38mm your preferred case diameter, or are still on the 2020 42mm wavelength?

Maybe both? Whatever, your preference post a comment if you like. Here are three random 38mm case watches we spotted online and you know what, they have a symmetry, a balance, that every watch fan can enjoy for years.

MAEN GREENWICH 38

The Swedish brand have a handsome 38mm watch called the Greenwich, which is let’s face it, the perfect name for a wristwatch. Or a clock.

“The Greenwich is the perfect travel watch with its GMT function and comfortable rubber Tropic strap. A custom integrated rubber strap is also available,” says Maen.

This model has superluminova and an oversized crown too, which is handy on a smaller watch.

ZENITH CHRONOMASTER 38

For us, the black/white Chronomaster 38mm is the pick of the bunch, as we find the green Poker thingie too gaudy and the blue/silver variations are kinda samey. Zenith have been mining their El Primero heritage far too long in our view, but this punchy, classic monochrome contrast dial ticks the right vintage boxes.

It just looks right, bit like the original El Primero. Not too pricey at £7100 compared to other special editions at 10K or more.

OMEGA SPEEDMASTER 38 ORBIS EDITION

This is a stand-out model in the 38mm Speedmaster range we think. The beige/brown models are kinda wishy-washy for us and the green/gold editions are a sort of 1970s throwback in the same way a green dralon settee is; fun for five minutes and then you wish you hadn’t wasted your money.

But this deep, rich blue dial watch, with its date window and 6pm looking like a card sharp shuffling the deck, and that wonderful poker style second hand – yeah, the business. It’s a mere trifle at £4,360 which is way cheaper than many other Speedmaster watches in the Omega Pantheon – can we say it’s a Pantheon? Probably.

 

 

 

Will The 38mm Watch Trend Catch On?

NWC mag isn’t so sure, for despite the best efforts of Swiss and other watch manufacturers, the collector/investor market has been fed a steady diet of 40mm-45mm sized watches as prestige, statement items, over the last 20 years.

Men – and it primarily men – who fuel the global watch market above two grand, like big watches. They say to the wider world, `I’ve made it, check this baby out.’

Now 38mm, or even 36mm case diameter watches, were the benchmark standard size back in the 70s and 80s. Even in the 90s you would find plenty of takers for a Rolex Oyster 38mm, or a vintage Sub in 38mm. In fact I would be surprised if Rolex does NOT announce a 38mm Sub before Christmas, such is the momentum behind the smaller watch case trend right now.

Even though I don’t think a 38mm Submariner will be a success, Rolex will do it because that’s how the Swiss industry moves, en masse, like a marketing tsunami.

But if you look at the new Omega Seamaster 38mm, with its sandy beach dial and old school sub-second dial at 6 o’clock, you can see that some buyers will see that as a backward step. It’s too wishy-washy, too old fashioned and physically too small.

Might be proved wrong, but time will tell.

If you look at Hamilton’s 38mm Intra-Matic homage to its 60s predecessor, or the Tudor M12500 retro self winding gents dress watch, what you see that manufacturers trying to recapture and repackage the past. Personally, I think you can be inspired, but you have to offer the new, the modern, the novelty – those who want vintage watches in 38mm can find plenty on the pre-owned market.

There’s nothing wrong with the understated Tudor, but I am willing to bet that dealers are selling 100 Black Bays for every M12500. It lacks the visual punch of a modern 21st century wristwatch and it looks…well, basic. Like an old Rotary or Accurist. That ain’t a good thing, trust me.

Thing is, buyers wanted to move on from champagne dials, tiny date windows, small winding crowns that can be difficult for some men to get hold of easily and the slim, lightweight design of 1960s-1980s watches. We moved on, the market advanced.

Buying a watch over £3000 has become an investment decision, and many people buying at £500 or more also have an eye on future values. What that means is that buyers want complications, luxury, design details and branding elements that set their watch apart.

Once you offer a 38mm replica of their Grandad’s watch, you’ve lost the attention of about 80% of your potential market.

 

Torgoen T100 GMT, New 38mm Case Size

Torgoen has just sent us info on their new 38mm T100 GMT automatic model. First off, let’s mention the price which is just £217, plus import duty etc. but still impressive value for a Swiss movt powered watch with this fit n finish.

Love that chapter ring inside the dial, some cool colourways too; light grey, cream or a bold red. We like that crown protector detail as well.

Sapphire crystal and you have a 316 grade stainless steel case too. This could be the all-rounder watch you are looking for, makes a handy tool watch, or dress watch with that more compact size we reckon.

Zenith Needs to Stop Remixing The El Primero

Zenith has reworked their El Primero watch yet again. Smaller case, original dial colours and greater accuracy.

But it’s getting boring frankly, much as we love the classic 1969 design and many of the various El Primero revival models that Zenith has been offering since the 2019 anniversary year.

What you need to know;

There is an exact replica, 38mm steel case variant.

The rose gold case one looks ace. Expensive though.

We love the star detail on the crown.

Here’s the word on the latest iteration;

Original by name, original by substance. Few watches have been as influential and truly iconic as the Zenith A386, which made its debut in 1969 as one of the first steel watches to be equipped with the revolutionary El Primero calibre – the world’s first automatic high-frequency integrated chronograph movement.

Over 50 years later, the El Primero remains the benchmark of precision among automatic chronograph movements, giving way to new versions and iterations in a constant evolution of technicity (is that a made-up word?? – Ed) and performance.

While Zenith has paid tribute to many of its emblematic historical references, including gold versions of the A386 in its Chronomaster Revival collection that debuted during the El Primero’s 50th anniversary, a steel re-edition as part of the permanent Zenith collection has long been something that Zenith collectors and chronograph aficionados have been eagerly awaiting.

But beyond a modern reinterpretation of this enduring staple among chronographs, Zenith has gone a step further with the Chronomaster Original, which masterfully retains the singular and enduringly relevant design of the A386 while packing the performance of the 21st century version of the El Primero boasting 1/10th of a second precision and time measurement.

So the top spec gold case model is £16,000, and the steel case/leather strap version starts at £7,100.

Verdict; A classic El Primero is a better addition to your collection than a new model. Hardly any depreciation and you’re buying the watch that kinda changed everything, not a factory reproduction. It’s like buying an electric powered E-Type Jaguar, looks perfect but underneath it’s a different 21st century toy.

Zenith suffers huge depreciation in the UK market as collectors feel they are over-priced for what they are. They have a point. A Tudor Black Bay, Omega Speedmaster or Breitling Top Time do much the same job and for about half the price. The El Primero is in Rolex Sub territory in terms of price and the fact is, it simply cannot command that kind of RRP.

What Zenith needs is a watch that sells for about three grand, looks ultra fresh and modern and wins over new customers. Maybe work with design houses like Bamford London or produce some crossover branded watches using the Dior and Louis Vuitton names from within the group?

Fact is, Zenith has painted itself into a corener with the El Primero in exactly the same way Hublot has with the Big Bang, or AP has done with the Royal Oak. There is a real danger that many Swiss brands are essentially one hit wonders. And that spells long term decline.

Bowie didn’t stay Ziggy until he got his bus pass did he?