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Anonimo WRC Edition Is an Expensive Chronograph

Here’s one we missed from January, Anonimo’s WRC limited edition chronograph. We are motorsport fans here at NWC, so always keen to showcase stuff like this. Here’s the press info from Anonimo and apologies in advance for the annoying use of capitals – all brands are doing it now, kinda boring;

To mark the first rally of the 2020 season in Monte Carlo, ANONIMO, Official Timekeeper of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), presents a new version of its MILITARE chronograph bearing the newly unveiled championship colours.

Oliver Ciesla, managing director of WRC Promoter, said: ““The excitement in WRC revolves around battles fought against the clock for vital tenths of a second. We are delighted that ANONIMO has chosen to launch its new special edition, the MILITARE Chrono WRC, at the opening of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship season in Monte-Carlo and that the WRC holds such a high-profile in the portfolio of such a prestigious Swiss watch brand as ANONIMO”.

On the new piece, orange replaces the green that has up to now been the WRC’s official signature colour. Subtle touches of the colour appear on the chronograph hand, the minute track on the flange, the 30-minute counter hand and indices, the chronograph start push-button and the strap stitching.

This MILITARE is easily recognisable thanks to its hand-brushed grey dial, its stainless steel case with PVD & DLC coating and its crown at 12 o’clock. The patented articulation system that protects the crown guarantees comfort and makes the piece water resistant. This Swiss Made watch is equipped with a Sellita SW 300 self-winding movement with an additional bi-compax DD2035M chronograph module developed exclusively for ANONIMO. In tribute to this partnership, the dial bears the WRC logo and the glass back is adorned with a special engraved design.

CW Sellors have it on sale in the UK at £4590.

Verdict; Expensive for a watch powered by a Sellita SW300 and the depreciation is likely to be much higher than say a Breitling, Rolex, Omega or IWC at this price level.

Citizen CZ Combines Sporty Style With Modern Data Functions

Citizen are entering the smartwatch fray in 2021 with their CZ model. Now for older readers, the name CZ means smoky two-stroke motorbikes made in the Czech Republic, but those days are long gone and a new generation will like the snappy name – and the great looking, multi-function watches. We are old school mechanical/auto here at the Northern Watch Co mag, but you gotta keep an open mind on the future.

The new CZ Smart smartwatch is designed for every moment, says Citizen. Inspired by iconic sport technical timepieces, CZ Smart marries modern technologies with the style and quality you expect from Citizen. The sport edition features a colour touchscreen dial and black anodized aluminum top ring, framed and finished with a silver tone stainless steel case and comfortable blue silicone strap. CZ Smart also features a 46mm three-piece case construction and a rugged blue bezel design. So yeah, it’s kinda big.

We like the dive watch style bezel they have painted on the CZ and the chunky winding crown and pushers too. This model is definitely one for someone who loves a mechanical watch look but wants all the tech gizmos that make modern life such a 24/7, always on-call, tsunami of updates. We’re really selling you the dream here ain’t we?

Powered with Wear OS by Google™, CZ Smart is compatible with both iPhone® and Android™ phones to fit your lifestyle. Plus, the customisable menu of dials and technology that provides the information you need at your fingertips.You can make calls and there’s a little speaker in there too, so you can keep up with things like Ring doorbell or Alexa alerts too. The watch connects via Bluetooth to an earpiece or headset, so you can take calls without slowing too much on your 10-speed racer hill climb. Naturally, the CZ features all that heart rate/steps per day data that fitness enthusiasts know and love.

You can change functions and menus by pushing the winding crown in, plus get further choices by rotating it so it scrolls through menu options like a Nest heating dial. Chrono pushers? The top one lets you delve into your initial app choice on screen, so say you want to scroll through music tracks then push the top button in. The bottom pusher, usually the flyback on a conventional watch, controls your Google Pay info/settings. Yes, you can also pay for stuff at modern POS terminals in shops with the CZ watch.

In daily use, you simply swipe up or down, left-to-right, to access the various function menus. You can also press and hold the dial to choose a different colour every day, plus there’s a steel bracelet and blue leather strap option, as well as the sporty silicone one you would expect on a sports watch.

It retails at £349 and although your watch blogger would rather have a Citizen automatic, I can see how this watch and it’s multiple data functions offers all kinds of uses beyond old fashioned timekeeping. More here at Citizen’s website. 

 

New Cal 400 From Oris is a Worthy Workhorse

Oris has lauched a new in-house calibre movement recently. Why does this matter? Well it’s important because those of us who love watches are always keen to own something unique, that doesn’t share its engine with other watches. For example, you might think Tissot, Certina or a Hamilton were more interesting brands when they didn’t all share the Powermatic 80 movement. Then again, you may not care.

But an in-house calibre also ticks a box with the EU, which is important for the Swiss industry. The EU hates monopolies, except their own of course, and so companies cannot let ETA, or anyone else, dominate the supply of watch movements. There’s some background in the FT newspaper on the Swatch Group’s dispute with the EU here by the way. The edict on movement supply came down from the EU about 4 years ago and that’s partly why TAG, Oris, Breitling, Frederique Constant and others have been busy building movement factories or forging partnerships regarding parts supply, so they can essentially customise an existing ETA or Sellita template.

Now Oris have really gone above and beyond with the Cal 400 as it has five days of power reserve, two mainspring barrels and a new method of mounting the automatic rotor; rather than tiny ball bearings within a track. It’s also anti-magnetic, with a a silicon hairspring and pallet fork.

Rolex of course use a silicon hairspring and the benefit is that you need less power to move that crucial last link in the chain when it comes to transforming tension from the mainspring into actually make the watch tick. The gear train’s power reduction by the time it reaches the pallet fork is hefty, so any way that you can reduce the load required to tap the balance spring back and to, is a good thing. In essence, you extend the power reserve by reducing friction and tiny amounts of torque at the end of the cycle.

This movement also comes with a 10 year warranty, which is impressive. Watches, especially mechanical and automatic models, should have a long guarantee – I never get how some makers get away with just two years. One detail I noticed on the 400 movement is the spring clip fastener for the rotor, it just pushes on and off, no retaining screw. That is an indicator that this movement is built to a price, and designed for longevity in the same way modern car engines are, with 20K service intervals.

This looks like the workhorse of the Swiss watch world to me and will power the type of £1500-£4000 timepiece that never gets serviced in its 20 year lifespan with an owner, but is regarded as great value and relaiable when it comes to timekeeping. That’s another benefit of replacing metal parts with silicon, they don’t need regular oiling.

More here at Oris.

 

What Is a Bumper Automatic & How Does It Work?

Good question.

The short answer is that a bumper auto watch works by using kinetic energy to bounce the rotor from one side of the watch to the other, thus winding it as you move your wrist. A conventional automatic lets the rotor slip back and forth using gravity, but the springs inside a bumper send the rotor back on its original path. It’s a watch technology you will find inside older 1940s and 1950s watches, usually from Jaeger le Coultre, Omega or this Mido Multifort.

The bumper auto evolved naturally from the first mass produced automatic or self winding watch, the Harwood – made by John Harwood who developed his prototype in the early 1920s. Harwood had served in WW1 and saw how damaging mud and dirt was to the first wristwatches that gained popularity back then. By the way, soldiers stopped using pocket watches because the flash of light as the watch was checked for time was all that a sniper needed to fix on a target.

Harwood’s original automatic had two plungers, bit like miniature shock absorbers on a motorcycle, to act as pushers inside the case. The rotor ran on a little track and bounced between the two plaungers. Harwood staked all he had on his own watch factory in 1928 and started making his watches, but the crash of `29 and the Depression put him out of business.

THE SWISS AND OTHERS RUN WITH HARWOOD’S IDEA

That left the field open for the Swiss and the Americans, who were very big on watchmaking in the 1930s. A Schild made a kind of bumper kit movement (or ebauche) for several Swiss brands. Companies like Omega-Tissot and others were busy forming partnerships and merging in order to survive the Depression, so buying in movements was commonplace.

I have seen Jaeger le Coultre bumper autos from the 50s sell for about £1000-£1500 at auction, or almost two grand in a watch shop. A nice Omega bumper auto might sell for £800-£1200, depending on codition. The Mido isn’t so valuable, but it does much the same job and with some regular maintenance will survive for 100 years I’d guess. Look at the solidity of that rotor, the chunky simplicity of the gears. For a small movement, the parts are kinda over-engineered.

What puts off collectors is the tiny size of most bumper automatics. Watches were small in the 30s, because many men worked outdoors in all weathers, and so hiding your expensive watch beneath the sleeves of a tweed jacket was a wise move. That meant 31-33mm case sizes were typical. Those would be ladies case sizes today of course.

Harwood was reportedly inspired by the actions of a wooden see-saw in a playground. He noted how the energy from the bump-stop sent the plank back into the air. Sometimes simple ideas are all around us. Harwood also invented the impact screwdriver and the automatic watch winder – he sold his own winding box design. A brilliant engineer, born in Bolton Lancashire, he is almost forgotten now. You are more likely to see a statue of Ash Sarkar being erected in Bolton today, than see any acknowledgement of John Harwood.