The Wells family has a brand new addition – both in our watch range AND in real life! While our Brand Ambassador Daniel Wells & his family anticipate the arrival of their firstborn child, we named our latest Venture Rally model after the little champion.
Seiko VK64 movement, sapphire crystal and beautiful lume make this one a winner for us at NWC mag.
Daniel and the Wells family continue to push the boundaries of achievement in Rally Racing in Australia, recently topping their category at the April 2021 Sunraysia Motor Sports Club desert dash!
Complete with a racing stripe NATO strap, The Rally Wells Junior is housed in a super-tough & lightweight titanium chronograph with a tachymeter for gearheads to play with. Just like it’s parents, the Wells 201 & Wells 008, it delivers the quintessential field watch experience that has made the Venture a global favorite.
This one retails at $299, plus import duty and VAT.
You can pre-order the new Zelos Hammerhead V3 model in a couple of days, and we reckon the teal dial and emerald green dial are the pick of the range. With a slimmer profile at 13mm, the 44mm Hammerhead remains a serious dive watch, but is now something that can be worn slightly more comfortably every day. Sapphire crystal naturally, screw down crown, steel case, Seiko NH35 movement and 300m depth rating. You also get a date window for that practical wear-it-on-dry-land vibe too.
Chunky dive watches with sunburst/fume dials are not everyone’s cup of tea, but we love the sheer value that Zelos offers. Reliable Seiko power with real dive ability at just $349 plus import taxes etc is a bargain compared to a typical Swiss 300m dive watch. I mean an Oris Sixty-Five is about £1300 and can only handle 100m, the entry level Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba is another 100m watch, although it can be found for about £400. For a 300m Swiss made dive watch you need to look at spending over £2000, or £4000 if you want a prestige brand name like Omega,
The offer on this new Hammerhead is good until the end of May, and you can see the entire range; orange, brown, white dials etc here.
Timex is reviving the 1970s in fine style with the Q 1978 quartz model. Featuring the handy coin-operated battery cover on the caseback, this baby has that tonneau case design that denoted the 70s for many watch fans.
You get a 37mm case diameter plus a vintage style acrylic crystal too, which may not be super resistant to scratches, but it is a piece of cake to replace it with the right watch tool and new high dome crystal. It’s a functional watch with a day/date feature and silver coloured dial, plus a retro style plain black leather strap. We love what Timex are doing in terms of tapping into its rich heritage right now and a gold plated case version of this 1978 model would be a welcome addition we rekcon.
There is a little Starsky & Hutch style video to promote the watch which retails at £155 in the UK. Just slightly too pricey for us and may we suggest a Seiko 5 for £100 or therabouts, or an Accurist retro racer at £129 as alternative choices?
Can you believe that actual radioactive paint was applied to watches in the past? Yep, and watchmakers plus watch factory workers died prematurely because of it. But that was just one of several hundred industrial risks that affected European and North American people in the past, for times were harsher and life was cheap. Yep, even white lives.
Now Blancpain has released a watch to celebrate the end of the radioactive dials, much loved by armed forces procurement officers during WWII and the Cold War. Here’s the press info from Blancpain on this latest limited edition dive watch, which is a tribute to an age of enlightenment as regards tool watches.
Blancpain reinterprets one of its emblematic historical timepieces, the Fifty Fathoms “no radiations”. This mid-1960s diving instrument, of which one version was used by the German Navy’s Combat Swimmers, had the characteristic feature of being stamped with a “no radiations” logo indicating that Blancpain was not using luminescent materials
composed of radium. This distinctive symbol on the watch dial has forged its success; the timepiece and its variants are now among the most iconic Fifty Fathoms models, which
the new Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad intends to honour. Collectors take note: this watch is issued in a 500-piece limited series.
The Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad watch revisits the historical model that inspired it. Its matt deep black dial is punctuated by geometrical hour-markers, combining traditional round dots as well as rectangles and a diamond-shaped mark at 12 o’clock. The chapter ring, the hands and the time scale on the bezel all feature “old radium”-coloured Super-LumiNova® reprising the beige-orange hue of vintage indicators bearing the patina of time. At 3 o’clock sits a date aperture highlighted by a white rim, as seen on one of the 1960s models. The yellow and red “no radiations” logo remains the dominant element on the dial, adding to the already strong character of this timepiece.
FOUR DAY RESERVE
The unidirectional rotating bezel, featuring a graduation typical of the initial Fifty Fathoms models, is fitted with a sapphire insert, a distinctive feature of the contemporary collection. Its domed profile contributes to the depth effect of the watch face, already enhanced by the use of a glassbox-type sapphire crystal. Water-resistant to 300 metres,
the steel case measures 40.3 mm, a diameter exclusive to limited-edition Fifty Fathoms watches. It houses Blancpain Calibre 1151, a self-winding movement equipped with a silicon balance spring and endowed with a four-day power reserve. Its two barrels are wound by means of a rotor with a cartouche-shaped aperture, a nod to some of the historic timepieces in the collection, including the very first Fifty Fathoms. This now atypical detail was formerly used to increase the suppleness of the oscillating weight in order to safeguard the movement in the event of impacts. The watch comes with a strap in “Tropic”-type rubber, a material very popular with divers back in the day because of its durability and wearer comfort.
With this limited series, Blancpain is restoring a cult instrument from its past as a supplier to the navies of numerous armed forces worldwide. In 1953, French Combat Swimmers were the first to use the Fifty Fathoms for their underwater missions. Thanks to its watertightness, legibility, safety and robustness, the watch immediately became an indispensable component of their equipment. Others were to follow, including the German military, which in the mid1960s acquired the Fifty Fathoms RPG 1 model, now better known as “BUND No Rad”. This name refers to the term “Bundeswehr” (armed forces), engraved on the back of the watches that equipped the “Kampfschwimmer”, the elite German frogman commando unit, until the early 1970s. The distinguishing attribute of the RPG 1 model was the “no radiations” logo, featured for the first time on the dial of a Fifty Fathoms.
In the early 1960s, radium – a radioactive element used in watchmaking for its luminescent properties – was declared harmful to health. To reassure professional divers, as well as experienced amateurs who purchased their Fifty Fathoms watches from specialist equipment providers, Blancpain thus decided to clearly indicate that its timepieces were radium-free – and hence harmless. The special symbol consisting of three red segments on a yellow background with a black cross was accompanied by the words “no radiations” designed to ensure that the message was easily understood. The same logo subsequently appeared on the Fifty Fathoms RPGA 1 model, a calendar-based variant of the “BUND No Rad”, for which it would remain the main criterion. These diver’s watches, whose dial indicated the absence of radium through the “no radiations” logo, have become particularly sought-after collector’s items. They now form part of the Fifty Fathoms’ legendary heritage spanning almost 70 years.
UK Price is £11,800, which is kinda tasty but you get a watch that has undeniable credentials underwater, and might just be a collectable item in 25 years’ time.
Recreating the past is always a double-edged sword in watchmaking. You can get it right, like Zenith with their sharp dressed, perfectly balanced A384 homage to the original El Primero model. Or you can get it very wrong, like Breitling did when they committed the sin of making an AVI 765 revival in rose gold. You don’t make military watches with rose gold cases matey, end of. Breitling also made the chrono pushers on the revival 765 stick out like coat pegs, rather than fit a bit more flush to the case, as on the original 50s model.
It’s all personal opinion of course, but these things matter because why else are you buying a new, recreation watch rather than an original, antique collectors item? That’s right, you want modern tech housed in a vintage case and dial, like an AC Cobra replica. You also want something that will be genuinely collectable in the future too, surely?
So Seiko are being brave making a King model to celebrate 140 years of business. The 1965 watch was a classic of the 60s era, and has that neat, functional three hand look that the Swiss mastered so well in the 1950s. But is reviving the sleek, Madmen style, with new technology in movement design and assembly, enough to justify a steep price tag?
Here’s the word from Seiko;
The new re-creation brings the 1965 KSK back to life in every detail. The combination of the flat dial with the faceted indexes and broad, sharp hands re-creates the refined elegance of the original. The sharp, bold faceted lugs feature large flat planes and razor sharp angles and are Zaratsu polished to a distortion-free mirror finish. Just as on the first KSK, the index at twelve o’clock has a bright sparkle thanks to the way it is intricately faceted. The case back carries the King Seiko name and the same shield design as the original and the buckle, too, is an accurate reproduction. The Seiko name and a “W” mark that signifies the KSK’s water-resistance appear on the crown.
Powered by Seiko’s slimline automatic caliber, 6L35
While the re-creation is faithful in every aspect to the original design, it is completely up-todate in technology, function and form. Even with an automatic movement and the addition of a date window, the new watch retains its slim profile and is just 0.5mm thicker than the original, thanks to the thinness of Caliber 6L35. The case is slightly wider than the original at 38.1mm and the crystal is a boxed-shaped sapphire with an anti-reflective coating in the inner surface that delivers high legibility from any angle. The case’s durability is also enhanced by the super-hard coating which protects the watch from scratches.
The King Seiko KSK re-creation will be available from January 2021 as a limited edition of 3,000 at Seiko boutiques and at selected retail partners worldwide.
Verdict: Beautiful work, but at £3000 it’s too expensive for a Seiko, unless it says Grand on the dial, not King. Like many Seiko watches it has an understated look, a simple elegance that you can admire and as a timekeeper it will be streets ahead of an original King, Hi-Beat or Diashock that you might find at a vintage watch dealer’s website. The 6L35 movement is a great movement, I have one myself in the shape of a £300 Presage. Therein lies a problem – why pay three grand for the same engine in a different case?
Bamford have worked with Time+Tide to create a handsome GMT automatic for 2021. The watch features a Sellita SW300 movement, 40mm case and a rotating inner bezel. There is some good looking superlume applied to the numbers and hands too, sapphire crystal, plus that GMT hand of course. The strap is black cordura, with blue or orange stitching. There are two variations on the blue/black dial and case design by the way.
The watch is only available for 2021, then production will cease. Price is £1200, plus postage.
Verdict: Expensive for a Sellita SW300 powered watch, but great looks and collectability factor.
The word from Mido on their distinctly Austin Powers Ocean Star Dive model;
The Ocean Star Decompression Timer 1961 reproduces the vintage charm of the Ocean Star Skin Diver Watch, a popular 1960s Mido model that remains one of the brand’s most sought-after.
Dedicated to the underwater world, this watch also served as a precious diving tool thanks to the multicoloured display of decompression stops on the dial. The version paying tribute to it today is limited to 1,961 pieces – in reference to the year the original model was released – and features a polished 40.5 mm case.
It uses the best of current technology, like a rotating bezel with countdown timer and a coloured table beneath a ‘glassbox’-style sapphire crystal. The Ocean Star Decompression Timer 1961 is driven by the Caliber 80, which offers a power reserve of up to 80 hours. It’s the same base unit seen in the Tissot Powermatic. For dive fans, there’s a starfish engraved on the caseback, next to the timepiece number. Each model comes with three interchangeable strap options to vary the mood.
A nod to the ‘diving’ spirit of the 1960s
To help calculations before a dive, the `61 Ocean Star Skin Diver Watch indicated decompression times 6 metres below the surface. These times were displayed around contrasting coloured circles for enhanced legibility: yellow for a diving depth of 25 to 29 metres, green for 30 to 34 metres, pink for 35 to 39 metres and blue for 40 to 44 metres. By simply placing the minute hand at 12 o’clock before immersion, the wearer could read the information throughout the dive. The rotating bezel allowed diving time or decompression stops to be calculated.
The new Ocean Star Decompression Timer 1961 pays tribute to the model created by Mido in 1961 and its innovative decompression scale function. Against the black background of the dial, Mido reproduces the bright colours of the original table – a subtle nod to the aesthetics of its predecessor. The depths are indicated at 12 o’clock: in metres (left) and feet (right). Super-LumiNova® adorns the diamond-cut hour and minute hands, as well as the polished indexes, for perfect visibility underwater. The Mido logo from the 1960s also features on the black dial, and as an engraving on the case back, crown and strap clasps.
‘Glassbox’ and stainless steel
A modern version of the ‘glassbox’-style crystal from the 1950s-60s (less prone to scratches than the original) reinforces the vintage feel of the Ocean Star. For added radiance, Mido has polished the case. At 12 o’clock, a large Super-LumiNova® dot provides a point of reference on the fluted black aluminium unidirectional rotating bezel. The screwed crown and case back further enhance the durability of the watch, which is water-resistant up to 200 metres.
Presented in a special box with a limited edition certificate, each of the 1,961 timepieces comes with a choice of two leather straps and a metal bracelet: in black calfskin with four stitches in the colours of the table, in leather with a black synthetic coating and yellow stitching, and in braided polished steel. A user-friendly system facilitates quick strap changes.
At £940 the Mido isn’t expensive for a Swiss watch, but it is pricey for something with a Powermatic movement, depsite its extra bells and whistles. If you love the retro looks, this could be the entry level dive watch for you. But for our money, an indie brand like Baltic, An Ordain, Zelos or many more offers a better spec for a grand – or quite a bit less in some cases.
The word from Rolex on the new Sky-Dweller. Do you want a synthetic bracelet on your Rolex, or prefer a stainless steel one? Just curious that’s all.
Rolex is presenting a new 18 ct yellow gold version of its Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller, fitted with an Oysterflex bracelet. The watch is the first in the Classic category to include this innovative bracelet made of high-performance elastomer. It also features a bright black, sunray-finish dial with hands and hour markers in 18 ct yellow gold. The light reflections on the case sides and lugs highlight the refined profile of the 42 mm Oyster case.
An elegant watch for frequent travellers, the Sky-Dweller displays the time in two time zones simultaneously and has an annual calendar. The reference time, in 24-hour format, is shown via an off-centre disc, and the local time is read using conventional centre hands. The annual calendar, named Saros, automatically differentiates between 30- and 31-day months. It is operated by a patented mechanism and stands out for its innovative display: the months of the year are indicated in 12 apertures around the circumference of the dial, with the current month marked in red. The instantaneous date change is linked to the local time.
The Sky-Dweller includes the Ring Command system, an interface between the rotatable bezel, winding crown and movement that allows the wearer to select and set the timepiece’s functions one by one, easily, quickly and securely.
YES IT IS WATERPROOF, NATURALLY
A paragon of robustness and reliability, the Oyster case of the Sky-Dweller is guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet). The middle case is crafted from a solid piece of 18 ct yellow gold. The case back, edged with fine fluting, is hermetically screwed down. The Twinlock winding crown, fitted with a double waterproof system, screws down securely against the case. The crystal is made of virtually scratchproof sapphire ( says Rolex) and is fitted with the famous Cyclops magnifying lens at 3 o’clock for easier reading of the date.
CAL.9001 IS SOMETHING SPECIAL
This new version of the Sky-Dweller is equipped with calibre 9001, a movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. With multiple patents filed, this mechanical, self-winding movement is one of the most complex calibres created by the brand. Its architecture, manufacturing and innovative features make it exceptionally precise and reliable.
What I like about this movement, which was launched by Rolex in 2012 is that it kinda follows the genius of the Greek Antikythera mechanism, or the Orerry, which is an 18th century gadget that showed the movements of the planets to budding scientists. Both the Greek solar clock and the Orerry used precision cut gears to move the planets and moon in a predictable orbit. Now, the Saros system in the Cal. 9001 does much the same with months and the day/date flickover feature. It’s like there’s a planetary wheel moving next to the bezel, just under the dial plate, if you can visualise that.
So the Sky-Dweller knows when there’s a 30 day month, plus shows the month, and the time zone elsewhere like a GMT watch – but without the 4th hand. Clever eh?
Calibre 9001 has a blue Parachrom hairspring manufactured by Rolex in an exclusive paramagnetic alloy that makes it up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring in case of shocks. The blue Parachrom hairspring is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring the calibre’s regularity in any position. The oscillator is fitted on the Rolex-designed and -patented high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing the movement’s shock resistance.
Calibre 9001 is equipped with a self-winding module via a Perpetual rotor and offers a power reserve of approximately 72 hours.
Christopher Ward has just launched a Super Compressor C65 model, which has bold colours and more than respectable dive rating as part of the package. The RRP of £895 makes this SW200 powered watch a bargain we reckon.
The clever thing about a super compressor is that it uses the pressure of water to squish the O-Ring gasket inside, so the case doesn’t allow water in near the winding crown. That’s it. No helium valves, no triple-layered glass crystals, or super heavy bronze cases.
It’s a neat bit of mid-50s ingenuity that sums up that `can-do’ WW2 spirit that solved so many technical problems back then.
Co-founder and CEO Mike France and head of product design Adrian Buchmann acquired an original Super Compressor case, which the team in Switzerland reverse-engineered, aided and abetted by original drawings. France and Buchmann, however, realised that the resultant timepiece had to be a Super Compressor for the 21st century. It would benefit from lubricants and seals not available to its makers in the period from the mid-1950s to the early-1970s. But any changes would aggravate the pedants and purists.
When asked why the C65 Super Compressor featured an exhibition caseback, France said, “We wanted to do something never done before, to allow people to see the compression spring that allows the compressor action. Even though the spring is only 300 microns thick – roughly four times the thickness of a human hair – those with good eyesight (or if you’re like me, a loupe) can see the spring sitting within the compressor ring. I think that’s pretty cool.”
Further to disarm purists, he adds, “As you know, with the exacting standards of our modern case manufacture, a sapphire crystal back plate offers the same water resistance as a steel or titanium one.”
Another change from the original, which relied on superior O-rings, was fitting a screw-down crown. Explains France, “This has become one of the features watch reviewers often tick off as being a requirement on a modern watch. Even though it isn’t necessary for optimum water resistance, given the modern tolerances of the case and the high quality of modern gaskets, we wanted our customers to have a real sense of security which a screw-down crown gives, so we made an early decision to include it in the design.”
As for the lack of screw-down capability on the crown that operates the rotating inner bezel, he says, “It’s not necessary as it’s a single position crown – it doesn’t open – and it needs to be easy to used by the diver, which a screw-down crown isn’t. Although the chance of water ingress is remote, we have further added to the water resistance by using four gaskets in total around this crown: two outer and two internal. Your average duck would be more than happy with this arrangement.”
Examining pre-production examples, this fan of Super Compressors noted the appeal of its svelte 41mm case. The view through the back affords the opportunity to examine the compressor spring encircling the Sellita SW200 automatic movement; it’s orange so you can’t miss it. Orange is also used to accent the crown for the inner bezel, the triangle at 12 o’clock, the minute hand and the tip of the seconds hand – chosen for optimum legibility. Seasoned Super Compressor fans will have much to admire.