Tag Archives: luxury

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.

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.

Girard-Perregaux: Three Bridges, Three Graces

Luxury cars and watches kinda go together like trophy wives and lip fillers. We tried to like this tech tour-de-force by Girard-Perregaux, which carries the famous Aston Martin name.

Yes, three bridges are beautiful, in a spartan Forth rail bridge kind of way. Those big jewels and empty spaces in the case are like a 3D drawing of a movement on show for everyone to appreciate. The bridges themselves are carbon fibre black, which somehow detracts from the symmetry for us. These movement vertabrae should be made from some rare exoticia metal surely, maybe recycled DB6 pistons?

But we hate to say this; overall,  it looks unfinished. Maybe you love it? It costs $146,000 by the way and there just 18 pieces being manufactured.

Here’s the press info;

The first timepiece borne of the recently announced partnership between Girard-Perregaux and Aston Martin has been revealed today. The Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges – Aston Martin Edition unites the watchmaking expertise of Girard-Perregaux with Aston Martin’s unique knowledge of luxury and performance.

Both brands demonstrate a passion for refined craftsmanship and have been working together, sharing their understanding of design, materials and technology. This latest model celebrates the iconic Three Bridges pocket watch from the 19th century in a decidedly contemporary way, down to the smallest details, including the strap. The latter is a world premiere, presented in black calf leather and featuring Rubber Alloy, an innovative rubber insert injected with white gold. The design of the strap is intended to evoke thoughts of Aston Martin racing cars of the past.

Upholding Girard-Perregaux tradition, this model skilfully plays with proportions and shapes much to the delight of aesthetes.

The 44 millimetre case of the Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges – Aston Martin Edition is formed of Grade 5 titanium, a strong, hypoallergenic alloy selected by Aston Martin for its lightweight properties. It is suffused with black DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon), bestowing the watch with a stealthy appearance. Interestingly, titanium ore was discovered in Great Britain, the home of Aston Martin, back in 1791 by an English clergyman, William Gregor, in the same year Girard-Perregaux was founded.

A sapphire crystal ‘box’ is positioned front of house, as well as to the rear, coaxing light to illuminate the case interior, thereby augmenting readability. The movement eschews a mainplate, sitting between both panes of sapphire crystal and seemingly floating in mid-air.

Three bridges, an iconic signature of Girard-Perregaux, span the dial and are formed of titanium with black PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) treatment and polished angles. The design endows the timepiece with an airy appearance, affording breathtaking views of movement components ordinarily hidden from view. While Girard-Perregaux has a long history of making the invisible visible, in this instance it has ventured off-piste, creating a watch whose movement appears to levitate within the case.

This is achieved by paring back the movement, causing the mainplate to seemingly disappear, thereby creating the illusion of the movement flying within the case. It was this particular characteristic that led to the term ‘Flying Bridges’.

The cage of the tourbillon, positioned in the lower portion of the dial, is ‘lyre-shaped’, a characteristic found on all the company’s tourbillons dating back to the 19th century. A blued hand affixed to the cage imparts the running seconds. The tourbillon cage, measuring a mere 10mm in diameter, is composed of 79 components which collectively weigh only 0.25 grams. This remarkably low figure helps mitigate energy consumption.

The barrel, positioned at 12 o’clock, is openworked, affording partial views of the mainspring. A white gold micro-rotor, positioned beneath the barrel, energises the mainspring and, unlike most automatic watches, it grants unobstructed views of the movement. The car company’s name is engraved on the vertical flank of the micro-rotor and is filled with white luminescent treatment which appears blue in restricted light. Likewise, the indexes and hands are also treated with white luminescent treatment and, once again, emit a blue glow in dim light.

Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of Girard-Perregaux, said, “We are delighted to partner with Aston Martin, entrusting their team with arguably our most iconic timepiece, delivering a fresh perspective on Haute Horlogerie. Rarely do we work with others to reinterpret the Three Bridges, however, on this occasion, we have made an exception, mindful of Aston Martin’s prowess for design.

“When viewing the design of an Aston Martin, you will note the firm’s distinctive front grille, first seen on the DB Mark III of the late 50s. Likewise, the scoops and side strakes found on the company’s modern-day models are functional elements, intended to improve airflow while enriching the overall appearance of each car.”

“At Girard-Perregaux we share a similar philosophy. For example, when the Maison released the now-legendary Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges in 1867, it transformed three functional elements into attractive aesthetic features and demonstrated an approach that we continue to employ today. Finally, this latest partnership provides a fascinating chapter in Girard-Perregaux’s 230-year history.”

Marek Reichman, Aston Martin Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer adds: ‘The greatest of the challenges we faced with the design of this new timepiece were those of scale, as you can imagine. We had to consider lines and proportion on a far smaller scale than we are used to in the realm of automotive design. That said, good design is good design, whether it is a watch or a car, the principles remain the same. I’m delighted with the finished watch and congratulate everyone who worked on this project as this collaboration has produced a timepiece of great beauty.

The Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges – Aston Martin Edition, a limited edition of 18 pieces, is immediately available worldwide in all authorised Girard-Perregaux retailers.

Oris Aquis Dat Watt is a Green Consumer Choice

Every luxury brand is now rushing to offset their carbon emissions, as ESG kicks in as a required part of company accounts and product policy. What is ESG? Environmental and Social Governance. That means profit is not the prime aim of any business, the objective is social good, sustainable production runs – as defined by activists and experts. Not the Board.

So Oris, like other watch brands is launching this Aquis special edition which helps preserving Wadden Sea habitat for future generations, which is a socially good thing. It also ticks a box on carbon offset too. Nice work.

The Oris Dat Watt is a limited edition model and it provides funds from each sale towards preserving the Waden Sea area of Northern Ntherlands/Denmark.  Call it a green levy if you like, soon every product will have a green tax on it by law, so get used to the idea.

Great looking watch, so if you support the idea of `wilding,’ which is reserved nature areas in Europe where humans are largely restricted from entering, then Dat Watt (German dialect for the Wadden Sea) is a purchase that makes a difference.

Oris Dat Watt Limited Edition

TECH SPEC:

Case Multi-piece stainless steel case, unidirectional rotating bezel
Size 43.50 mm (1.713 inches)
Dial Gradient blue/grey Luminous material Hands and indices
with Super-LumiNova®

Top glass Sapphire, domed on both sides, anti-reflective coating inside
Case back Stainless steel, screwed, special engravings

Stainless steel screw-in security crown with crown protection
Bracelet Stainless steel metal bracelet, folding clasp with extension
Water resistance 30 bar (300 m)
Movement: Number Oris 761

Functions Centre hands for hours, minutes and seconds, centre hand moon phase, date window, instantaneous date, date corrector,
fine timing device and stop-second

Winding Automatic
Power reserve 38 hours
Special edition Supplied in a special presentation box

Swiss retail price CHF 2,450 (APPROX £1920)
Available May 2021

Omega Certificates Will Help Watch Collectors Everywhere

For decades Swiss watch factories were totally uninterested in the pre-owned market. Many, like Rolex, would offer you a 5-10% discount on a new watch rather than repair your older model. They wanted their dealers to sell new watches, not pre-owned and often took action against smaller jewellers who had a secondhand section, such as removing the franchise.

But the rise of Watchfinder, Chrono24 and other sites has proved that there is huge demand for secondhand Swiss watches, from a classic Omega pie-pan Constellation, to a more recent Breitling Superocean. That’s why Richemont bought Watchfinder a few years ago – they can see there’s money in it. Of course, the rise in values for brands like Omega, Rolex, AP and Ptek ahas also prompted fakers to start selling replicas of older watches, complete with fading lume on the hands, patina on the dials and other tricks, simply to fool buyers online.

So Omega launching its own Certificate of Authenticity is perfectly timed. Collectors and watch dealers can bid on as watch knowing that it’s been verified by Omega as the real deal. As in-person auctions seem unlikely to ever happen again, due to the Plandemic hysteria and climate agenda zealots seeking to ban non-essential travel full stop, the only way that online watch reselling can go is down the verified, money back guarantee route, surely?

The Omega cert ONLY applies to models that have passed their 30th birthday by the way, so this doesn’t really address much of the fakery that poisons the pre-owned luxury watch market. But at the modern end, ideas like Breitling and Vacheron’s Blockchain digital certificates can do the same job of offering a guarantee that this is the real watch, as sold in Dubai 2019 etc.

But for collectors of older Omega bumper automatics, Constellations, Chronstops, Seamasters and more, this is a useful feature to look out for. Plus, watch dealers with something truly rare can get it checked out and certified. You can also order an extract from the Omega archive on the development and production run of watches that are a decade older or more – handy.

More here.

 

Bell+Ross Launch Three Time Zone GMT Model

The latest from Bell + Ross, who have a new GMT model in their range and yeah, for Family Guy fans, this one is a three-way;

True to its iconic square flagship model, the new BR 03-93 GMT replaces the existing version. Redesigned, more modern, more functional, more readable. This “tool watch” goes back to basics in terms of design and shape which were influenced by two keywords: functionality and legibility. Adding a new functionality from its predecessor, this new GMT provides the time in three different locations around the world thanks to the new bidirectional bezel.

This new updated version differs in many ways from its predecessor. The new BR 03-93 GMT timepiece provides the time in three different locations around the world. How does it work?

The GMT hand now stands out with its large red triangle which is perfectly visible both day and night. Spinning around the dial in 24 hours, this fourth hand displays a second time zone (or the local time on a 24-hour scale). For the first time, the iconic square shape is completed with a bi-directional bezel. The BR 03
case was specifically modified to welcome this new functional bezel. It enables the reading of the second time zone, but it can also show a third time zone. Rotating it clockwise subtracts hours and anti-clockwise adds hours.

The bezel – which borrows the same color combination as the dial – is equipped with a 24-hour scale graduation. Bell & Ross has opted for Black & Red-hot hues. Red is known for its frank, clear and dynamic properties. While the red section indicates daytime, the black backgrounds nighttime. Thus, the two-tone bezel provides a visual contrast / effect for discerning time reading and is made of anodized aluminum.

Salvatore Ferragamo Earth Day F-80 Skeleton

It was Earth Day earlier in March which gave Timex brand Salvatore Ferragamo the chance to offer a range of skeleton models with straps made from recycled materials. The first thing worth noting is that this is an automatic watch – so no battery. Once you understand the chain of supply for lithium batteries, and how often they need to be replaced, it’s obvious that an auto is the greener choice. Here’s the spec from Sal Ferra;

The F-80 Skeleton Sustainable, an exclusive, sustainable re-edition of one of its most successful timepieces. Available in green and blue versions, each made in a limited series of 200 pieces, the new F-80 Skeleton Sustainable has an elegant black satin case that contains an automatic movement visible through the transparent caseback and the skeleton dial, on which the double Gancini symbol stands out.

The strap is made of materials with a low environmental impact; a thin layer of FSC certified cork covers the inside, while the outside is of post-consumer recycled PET fibre fabric, with hole covers made of vegetable-tanned leather.

F-80 Skeleton Sustainable is presented in unique packaging, also made entirely of responsible materials; the outer box is in FSC certified cardboard, while the wood and metal protective shell – available in two shades that match those of the watch – is lined internally with hemp, and externally in post-consumer recycled PET fibre fabric. The watch support cushion is made of a bioplastic material obtained 100% from sugar cane.

The construction of the F-80 Skeleton Sustainable’s climate impact has been measured according to the ISO 14067 Product Carbon Footprint standard, which quantifies the emissions due to all of its production stages. To obtain the carbon offsets necessary to make this exclusive model “carbon neutral”, Salvatore Ferragamo has made use of the support of Rete Clima, a non-profit organization fighting against climate change, with whom the company will support the realization of the Burgos Wind Project, the largest wind farm in the Philippines; thus establishing an ideal parallel between the movement of the hands and that of the wind turbines. In addition to reducing the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by generating large-scale electricity from a clean and renewable source, the project will create jobs and concrete economic opportunities for local communities.

The new F-80 Skeleton Sustainable will be available from April in Salvatore Ferragamo stores, at authorised retailers, and online. There is a downside to this greener option however which is the £1800 retail price.

JLC Reverso With a Dash of Polo Playboy, Why Not?

JLC have sent us info on a special Fagliani edition of their famous Reverso, and we kinda like that bold red & gold vibe. Here’s the press release;

Uniting the dual-time zone complication of the Duoface with the purified aesthetic of the Tribute collection, the new Reverso Tribute Duoface Fagliano is complemented by an original strap, specially designed and hand-crafted by Casa Fagliano, the world-famous Argentinian maker of polo and riding boots. Issued in a limited edition, with a burgundy-red dial and pink gold case, the new timepiece pays tribute to its rare and timeless design.

Inspired by the canvas-and-leather boots that it makes for summer polo, Casa Fagliano combined cordovan leather and canvas for the new strap – as always, cutting and stitching every piece by hand.

As it has a gold case, you would expect this art deco classic to come with a hefty price tag and you are correct in that asumption. It retails at just over £20,000.

Is Rolex Fever Destroying The Luxury Watch Market?

Straight talk from the Editor’s keyboard;

I only ask the question because according to trade magazine WatchPro, one quarter of the entire Swiss watch industry is Rolex sales. The UK is arguably one of the most Rolex obsessed markets in the world, as the 2020 launch of the new Oyster, GMT and Subs showed. Flippers who managed to bri-sorry, get allocated a much prized Submariner were able to sell it on for around 50-80% above the RRP, depending on the dial colour, bezel etc.

Recently UK retailer Goldsmiths announced that it was rolling out a new store concept, based on Mayors of Miami, where watch brands would have dedicated zones. This offers consumers the chance to look at particular brands in detail. The danger with this idea is that it mirrors the disaster that is the Premiership in English football – all the money, marketing and top talent is concentrated on a handful of brands. Goldsmiths will have Rolex, Breitling, Omega, Cartier, TAG and Tudor – which is of course part of Rolex. You could say it’s Rolex-Lite, but that does minimise how good a Tudor Black Bay is in terms of value when compared to a Rolex Sub; same build quality for half the price, some might say.

But this focus on a handful of brands, with Rolex as the `One Watch To Rule Them All’ is going to damage the market in the end. Because history teaches us that every bubble, whether it’s a UK housing market, Tesla, South Sea, tulip bulbs or spices, will go pop eventually. When it does, then confidence is buying luxury watches as an investment will largely evaporate. It will have a catastrophic effect on watch retailing, as chains like Goldsmiths, Beaverbrooks and Watches of Switzerland depend on luxury Rolex and other watch sales to help keep them afloat, now that the government has decided that house arrest is a good idea long term. Footfall is NEVER coming back to pre-lockdown levels, and many older people – who make up a high percentage of luxury Rolex buyers – don’t trust the inetrnet. They also don’t want their Rolex purchase data to be held online either, as they rightly assume that various thieves and accomplices will hack that info at some point, leaving them vulnerable to house burglary or card fraud.

The final reason why Rolex domination is a bad thing is that it stifles innovation, to the extent where many of their watches are often quite boring. The Oyster range really needs a kick up the rear, as it’s becoming the Honda Jazz of the watch world; safe, steady, reliable but entirely uninteresting to any serious watch collector. There is nothing to talk about if you own an Oyster, exept its value.

Rolex don’t really do anything left field, quirky or challenging in their range, except perhaps the Milgauss, which is a 1950s idea still in production for some bizaarre reason. Personally, I like the Milgauss because I love the blue dial, but you have to admit that it’s a one-trick pony as a modern watch. Rolex could be creating some 21st century ground-breaking watchmaking tech instead, not just anti-magnetic as regards digital devices, but with tourbillions, liquid-powered chrono functions, or maybe a MODshop where well-heeled customers could order truly one-off Rolex models, created in the same way that Bamford London are doing. But better, with all the resources that a global brand can bring to bear.

When you are number one there’s only way you can go, and that is down. Change and development is necessary, despite the risks associated with it. Rolex is in a sweet spot right now – apart from the ongoing customer anger concerning waiting lists. Demand could not really be any higher and it is consistently voted the number one brand in any marketing survey you read. It is amazing that so many people believe that Rolex is the best watch in the world, despite the obvious truth to anyone who has taken their watches apart. They are not the very best, but they are brilliant at mass production to a very high level. But resting on those laurels is not a strategy for long term progress and it will also damage the entire watch industry when consumers decide that buying a Rolex is no longer as safe an investment as buying a Premium Bond.

Maybe that’s the future, the Rolex Fantasy Share Index? You basically mine your Rolex data like Bitcoin and when you get to GMT III level you cash in. Stranger things have happened…

Can Citizen Pull Off a Grand Seiko Move?

Maybe they can. Later in 2021 they will launch the new The Citizen. Yes, they went for that does-what-it-says-on-the-tin vibe with the name.

Featuring a new Cal 0200, produced by La Joux Perret, one of the many brands within the Citizen portfolio. It is going to be expensive, priced around six grand and features some hand-finished details that watch collectors will appreciate. A rippled sand effect dial, beautifully cut and polished steel bracelet links, plus an automatic rotor that is cut like a miniature geometry set.

The jewel and bridge work is outstanding, dare we say this is better finished than a Rolex? Well, it’s just an opinion – don’t cancel us.

Now if you don’t like the traditional sub-second dial design on the The Citizen then the Series 8 offer a very clean, modern take on the dress watch. Here’s the word from Citizen;

“We announce the release of three new mechanical models – 870, 830, and 831. These models feature our Caliber 0950 and Caliber 9051 movements equipped with magnetic resistance to ensure peak performance in today’s digital society.

Series 8 watches feature a contemporary case design with clean, straight lines and an uncluttered layout. The bold combination of simple styling and a matte hairline finish with a multitude of fine lines provides a modern, sporty look. Watch functions have a strong emphasis on practicality, utilizing the Cal. 0950 and Cal. 9051 mechanical movements newly developed in 2021. In addition to these new movements, the watches also have enhanced magnetic resistance essential for our modern digital society, providing protection against magnetic fields generated by smartphones, tablets, and other devices that can affect the accuracy of the watch. The movement is just 4.1 mm thick, resulting in a thinner case and an extremely comfortable fit. The figure 8 in the Series 8 name represents infinity (∞), expressing the infinite possibilities of CITIZEN’s craftsmanship.”

They are very keen to stress the anti-magnetic properties, which makes me wonder if my old Accurist keeps stopping because of the PC and smartphone nearby? Probably not, more likely it just has 50 years of dirt fragments inside it.

The price is much reasonable, at around $2000 for the black dial model, moving down to $1200 for the Cal 831 version There is a mother-of-pearl dial option which can only be described as 80s disco. More info here.