Tag Archives: ceramic

Pottery Throwdown? No, This IWC is Tough Stuff

IWC have a strong reputation when it comes to pilots watches, in fact some might say they are the go-to choice. Others would perhaps choose a Breitling, or maybe a Bell & Ross. So a new variation – and a revival of a cult classic – of the familiar Pilot Chronograph is always interesting. Here’s the press release from IWC;

With the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705”, IWC Schaffhausen travels back in time to honour the legendary Ceramic Fliegerchronograph (ref. 3705) from 1994. After fading into obscurity for almost a quarter of a century, it became a cult classic and is now considered one of the most sought-after models from IWC’s recent history. The new tribute edition faithfully replicates the original’s dial design. Instead of using ceramic, however, it features a case made of Ceratanium®, a groundbreaking new material developed by IWC. Powered by the in-house 69380 calibre and fitted on a black calfskin strap, this special edition is limited to 1000 watches and sold exclusively on IWC.com.

Now we are no fans of watches or bracelets made from pottery here at The Northern Watch Co, because they shatter like a kid’s toy on Boxing Day. So this is good news, but there’s more;

Throughout its 152-year history, IWC has created modern icons such as the Big Pilot or the Portugieser Chronograph. But tucked away in the archives, there are also hidden gems; timepieces that are overlooked before they shoot to unexpected fame. One such model is the “IWC Fliegerchronograph Keramik” from 1994, which was IWC’s first Pilot’s Watch with a case made of black zirconium oxide ceramic. Despite its use of this highly innovative material and its purist instrument design, the chronograph enjoyed little success. After only about a thousand pieces, production was discontinued a few years later.

Very spartan, functional and matt black.

FROM OBSCURITY TO A CULT CLASSIC

The ref. 3705 did not become famous until about a quarter of a century later. Following various articles on specialised blogs, the “Black Flieger” caught the attention of a growing number of watch enthusiasts. With luminous indices and hands, which had aged over time to a warm orange, the once-forgotten chronograph was winning collector’s hearts with its distinct neovintage charm. One piece from the personal collection of former IWC director Günter Blümlein was auctioned for a staggering 53,750 US dollars. But the ref. 3705 does not only embody IWC’s heritage as a manufacturer of professional instrument watches for aviators. With its black ceramic case, the model is also an early testimony to the extensive materials expertise that IWC has acquired since the 1980s; a quality that still distinguishes the company as a modern watchmaker today.

FROM ZIRCONIUM OXIDE CERAMIC TO CERATANIUM®

The newly released Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” (Ref. 387905) pays homage to this exceptional timepiece and is limited to 1000 pieces. The dial is a replica of the original from the 1990s. Two totalizers at 9 and 12 o’clock display stop times of up to 12 hours, the small second is located at 6 o’clock. Another feature is the day and date display at 3 o’clock. The ref. 3705 was pioneering in the use of black ceramic, and the tribute edition likewise features a recent innovation from IWC’s material scientists: the case, chronograph pushers and pin buckle are made of Ceratanium®, an IWC-developed material that is light and robust like titanium, but also similarly hard and scratch-resistant like ceramic. In the first step, the case components are machined from a special titanium alloy. Afterwards, the parts are treated in a furnace firing process, during which a phase transformation takes place, and the surface of the material assumes properties similar to ceramic.

It has the edge over the Omega Speedmaster in terms of easy-to-read dial markers n hands, would you agree?

POWERED BY THE IN-HOUSE 69 CALIBRE

While the original ref. 3705 was powered by the Valjoux calibre 7750, the new Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” boasts sophisticated movement technology from Schaffhausen. Inside the 41-millimetre case, the in-house 69380 calibre is at work. This robust and precise chronograph movement in classic column wheel design is one of the latest developments from IWC’s engineers. A bi-directional pawl winding system reliably builds up a power reserve of 46 hours. The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” is available exclusively through IWC.com, wechat, YNAP, and official flagship store on Tmall as a limited edition of 1000 pieces.

Dear Hublot, We Refuse To Do Capitals, OK?

The word from Hublot, who have another variation on their successful Big Bang theme; This model has capitals in the press blurb, like many other watch brands insist on using, and we are going on strike today regarding using grammatically incorrect capitals. Stop shouting everyone, we love your watches OK?

Following on from its black ceramic, Hublot has launched its BIG BANG INTEGRAL in three new ceramic colours: white, navy blue and grey, all with built-in scratch-resistance, durability and hypoallergenic properties. Its monobloc architecture – an integrated bracelet on which the first link is fused with the case – affirms Hublot’s integral single-colour, single-material style.
A signature material at Hublot, ceramic represents the perfect fusion of hardness and lightness (two to three times harder than steel and 30% lighter). A high-tech material that is difficult to machine, used here to create a case, bezel, case-back and bracelet. An unparalleled material in perfect harmony with the skin – soft to the touch and a delight to wear thanks to its low thermal conductivity. A watch made entirely from ceramic except for the bezel lugs, which are in black, dark blue or grey composite, and the rubber elements on the crown and the pushers, for added user comfort.

The Big Bang Integral can be distinguished from the other Big Bang models by its fully integrated bracelet, which is fused with the 42-mm case. Launched in 2020, this represents a historic first for the 15-year-old Big Bang. Its aesthetic signature is powerful enough for it to be instantly associated with that of the Big Bang. Three links: one central and two lateral, the polished and satin-finished surfaces, and the bevelling and chamfering of the links create the same effect of depth and contrast as between the case and the bezel lug. Other stylistic retouches include the pushers, which mirror those found on the 2005 original, and whose bevels and chamfers lead into the bracelet with alternating polished and satin finishes.

The model is powered by the Unico proprietary manufacture movement in its V2 incarnation, the HUB1280, a modified version of its predecessor, the Unico HUB1242. Changes include the loss of the escapement platform, a thinner automatic winding system with a slimmer 1.3-mm movement, four new patented technical innovations (oscillating seconds clutch, chronograph friction system with ball-bearing adjustment, ratchet retaining system with unidirectional gears and index-assembly fine adjustment system). This updated version of the Unico features a redesigned architecture for easier assembly and more legible functions.

So, immaculate white, classic navy blue or a grey as deep as titanium itself? The choice is yours.

Verdict? This 42mm case sized model is quite restrained for a Hublot, which is some ways is a good thing. You can always tell thieves that you are wearing a Casio Edifice and if they’re really gone on crack, they may believe you. On the downside, it’s made from pottery, and we are no fans of ceramic bracelets, because they always break, sooner or later. On a £1200 Rado, that’s perhaps no big deal, but with a Big Bang you are looking at £400-£650 to get the broken link replaced and this ain’t no Timpsons job. It’s a fragile part, and a delicate operation replacing ceramic links.
No word on UK prices, but expect about £17,000-£20,000.

Latest Ball Roadmaster Gets A Ceramic Finishing Touch

The latest Ball Roadmaster Vanguard II now has a ceramic bezel for extra durability, taking this Swiss made watch up a notch. Ball are already producing handsome GMT models that feature striking gas-tube type lume on the hands and markers, bold dial designs and superb in-house, COSC level, movements. If you look at the polished steel cases and overall finish Ball are right up there with some of the best known Swiss brands, they just don’t get the High Street retailer exposure they deserve.

The latest Vanguard also has a day/night indicator at the 6pm position, so you can see if it’s night time back in GMT London when you’re travelling the world. Assuming you’re allowed to travel like a Towie celeb of course.

With quickset button features, steel bracelet and four variations on the familiar Blue/Black colour combinatuion that Rolex Batman lovers know so well, this watch is very good value at £1,525 on a pre-order deal (or £1,830 with a steel bracelet) until the 17th Feb 2021. It’s also a 1000 pieces limited edition.

It has a 200m depth rating as well, so it’s a GMT you can keep on your wrist when swimming.

Verdict; This is a serious, Swiss amde alternative to the 3 year waiting game for a Rolex Sub Batman, plus you get to save around 6 grand on the entry price. OK, you’ll never have that Rolex cachet or re-sale value, but you will own a beautifully made GMT for the same price as a military/retro piece from Longines, Rado, Tissot et al.

More at the Ball website.

Latest Omega Seamaster Bond Edition Reboots The Gun Spiral Logo

The word from Omega on their latest Bond themed watch. That most recognisable Bond theme logo, the spiral leaves from a camera shutter, with Bond firing a gun, has been captured on the dial face.

For the true Alan Partridge level of Bond fandom, this one is an essential collectors model. It’s actually a very striking change from some of the previous Bond Omega watches, which had veered towards the classic dive design, almost late 60s big lume markers on black dials kinda vibe.

Nothing wrong with that but this is a nice update on the 2006 Casino Royale Seamaster, with that cool 007 second hand.

omega-seamaster-casino-royale edition 2006

Here’s the press info;

Cutting-edge style and innovation have always been essential parts of the James Bond story. In keeping with that legacy, OMEGA has now delivered a brand new Seamaster Diver 300M James Bond Numbered Edition, offering plenty of high-tech details for 007 fans to enjoy.

OMEGA has been equipping James Bond with its Seamaster timepieces since GoldenEye in 1995. This special new release is a proud celebration of that partnership, and provides a new addition to the 007 collection.

For an exceptional look, the 42 mm case is crafted in platinum-gold, with a platinum-gold plate on its side, engraved with each Numbered Edition number. The same beautiful material is also used for the polished-brushed buckle of the watch’s black leather strap.

More unique details can be uncovered throughout the design, including a black ceramic bezel ring with a platinum diving scale in positive relief, as well as a black enamel dial, which has been given a spiralling gun barrel design in 18K white gold.

omega bond watch detail 2020

As part of the OMEGA James Bond collection that was launched last year, this watch also includes a hidden number 50 within the Super-LumiNova of the 10 o’clock index – a reference to the 50th anniversary of the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Elsewhere on the dial, you can find a 007 logo at 7 o’clock on the white enamel minute track, as well as 18K white gold features, including the hands, indexes and Bond family coat-of-arms at 12 o’clock.

Turning the watch over reveals a second Bond family coat-of-arms, which has been laser-engraved and filled with platinum on the sapphire crystal caseback. Its captivating final effect is completed with hand-engraved finishing in the finest detail. Through the glass, you can spy the OMEGA Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8807 – certified at the highest standards of precision, chronometric performance and magnetic resistance.

Finally, for fans who are able to obtain this Seamaster Diver 300M James Bond Numbered Edition, it comes presented in its own Globe-Trotter™ suitcase, bound by NATO-inspired straps. Inside, an additional black rubber strap is included.

Hublot Big Bang E Black Ceramic – Smart Move, or a Bit Pricey?

Would you pay Swiss luxury wristwatch prices for a smartwatch? Well Hublot think that you will, and they’ve launched their E Black Ceramic smartwatch, which retails for a tasty £4,800. 

It features a 42mm case width, with the case itself made from ceramic. Now we aren’t big fans of watches made from pottery here at The Northern Watch Co magazine because they are easy to break if dropped, and there’s no way it can be repaired. On the upside ceramic is easy to clean and very scratch-resistant, albeit a bit cold on the wrist in winter. There’s some titanium in the case construction as well as ceramic materials too.

The Hublot smartwatch runs on Google OS by the way, so if you have a Google account, Gmail and use Hangouts, Drive for your Docs etc then that is all peachy as heck. If you don’t, then that’s another heap of sync jazz that you’ll have to master.

It has a gyro and accelerometer in there of course, so you will have no trouble tracking fitness activities like cycling or running. It runs Bluetooth, you can take calls and speak into the mike naturally – the battery life is estimated at 24 hours.

e black ceramic features

Here’s some press kit blurb from Hublot;

Full of sophistication and advanced technology, this piece fits in perfectly with Hublot’s watchmaking tradition. All the codes that have helped build the brand’s reputation thus far can be recognised instantly, by enthusiasts and the public alike. 

A good pedigree always shines through! Its case is cut from materials such as black ceramic or titanium in a “sandwich” construction, an innovative style invented by Hublot in 2005. Extremely complex, it comprises 42 components, 27 of which are for the K Module alone, the “cage” which houses the digital heart of the watch. T

he design of the screws and pushers, the scratchproof sapphire crystal, and its rubber strap – with deployant buckle invented by Hublot in 1980 for the Classic model and the patented One Click system for easy interchangeability –  leave no-one in doubt: element by element, it is clear that this is a true Big Bang!