Tag Archives: projects

More Seiko MOD Goodness from Namoki

Namoki has sent us some info on their new case parts for Seiko SKX007 and the much underrated Seiko Field watch models. You have probably seen lots of repainted dial Seiko Field models on eBay, made in India and with the occasional rusty movement rotor visible in the photos.

So we say, the time is right to create some ace MOD watches from the Field Seiko range, which could incorporate some of the Alpinist vibe about the dial colours and bezels – just an idea.

So Namoki has new rose gold coloured, carbon/PVD black or polished steel cases for your SKX MOD project. Prices are $120 and it comes with spring bars and a crystal gasket, plus a caseback gasket for that ultra smooth fit when you build it.

The Field case kits start at $128.

More info here. 

Trafford SOE Watches: The Authentic Choice

We do love a good war story here at the Northern Watch Co magazine and what finer way to remember the sheer courage and bravery of the men – and women – who fought in the Special Operations Executive, than by wearing a chrono watch, that comes with a booklet telling the true story of each racing driver, turned anti-Nazi spy and saboteur.

Hats off to Trafford Watches in the USA for putting together an SOE Roadster watch collection that celebrates old school heroism and wants to remember history, rather than re-write it for the forever offended. Nazis and their enablers deserved some payback and SOE did exactly that, long before the beaches of Normandy were invaded. That took guts.

I was familiar with Robert Benoist from various books on special forces and the French Resistance, but Jean-Pierre Wimille and William Grover-Williams are two new names for me, and it’s amazing to read of their WWII exploits. Each of the three road racers has a themed colour dial; french blue, black and BRG for Grover-Williams. Inside the 41mm steel case, there is the Seiko V series meca-quartz movement, with a sapphire crystal on the top, Uni-directional bezel and super Luminova on the markers and hands. The de luxe box and booklet is a nice extra bonus too.

Unsurprisingly this one has been funded rapidly on Kickstarter and deliveries should start later in 2021. Early bird price is £215, but the watch ships from the USA so there could be import duty on top for UK customers.

There is a fourth watch in this collection on its way too, with a blazing red dial. Plus if you buy three, you get a wooden display box.

More here at the Trafford Watch Kick page.

On Kickstarter: Neucarl Sept Mai is Urbane, Modern & Bespoke

Modernism is highly overrated in our book. Think Le Corbusier’s blockhouses with flat roofs for rainy Europe, or Jackson Pollocks load of old bollocks masquerading as art. But watches like the Movado Museum, with its beautiful simplicity, or the utilitarian Junghans Max Bill of the mid-50s demonstrate that sometimes the modernist approach can really stand out. It’s where function meets timeless style.

So a tip of the hat to Neucarl who are trying to capture that Bauhaus elegance with the Sept-Mai model. Featuring a Sellita movement, this mechanical watch has a steel case, with a uniquely appealing dished dial, it looks countersunk, like a 1930s Lido in London town. The dial has a circle of cut-outs, as if light is being recessed into the watch, which is kinda like an old juke-box. They have spent a great deal of time thinking about the design.

It’s a super slim case too, just 8.3mm high and at 41mm wide it’s just right for the modern market. Each model is one of 99 numbered pieces by the way. There’s a choice of eight leather straps, plus dial colours including red, turquoise, blue and white, with each colour and design twist being named after a city, Rome, Paris, Reykjavik, NYC etc. It’s a project that has taken about four years to materialise and available for summer 2021 delivery right now, prices start at around £375 plus VAT and import duty from France.

Can Baume Survive as An Independent Brand?

I only ask the question because having worked for a few years in a pawbroker’s shop I can honestly say that not only have I seen no interest at all in the few Baume & Mercier watches in stock, but nobody ever enquired about a particular model either. Two people in two years came in Baume & Mercier watches to sell and were shocked at how little they were offered. Yoy may say that was because the pawnbroker was trying to buy them super cheap but you would be wrong. Fact is, most TAG quartz watches, nearly all modern Rado, Tissot and Longines, struggled to sell for over £700-£900 pre-owned, even in mint condition. Same story with B&M, they just don’t have the luxury cachet – or fanbase – associated with Omega, Breitling, IWC, JLC etc. The net result is that as a business, with huge overheads to pay every month, you end up offering £200-£300 on  watch that you might sell – might – for £600-£750 a year down the line. It’s just business, nothing personal.

So it was interesting when B&M announced that Baume would become a hip, younger brand. Looking at the 2021 Baume product line up, I can see the doughty Clifton Club and Baumatic models are still there, which is understandable, but I kinda expected a clean break with watch designs which look like something from the 1990s. These are mdoels which you dad, or grandad might buy, and imho you’ll never win new customers with that strategy. Nobody under 30 wants to wear the same watch as their dad, even if it’s a Rolex Oyster.

Baume have some entry level quartz watches, which at £450 are not too expensive, plus 2% of that cost goes towards projects that remove plastic waste from the oceans. This is a good idea, definitely.

Now the Baume Ocean Upcycled automatic watches are also a very good marketing idea, plus 5% of the price goes to the plastic waste clean-up. This new BAUME watch is created in collaboration with Waste Free Oceans (WFO) and SEAQUAL Initiative, two partners that collect plastic debris from the seas to transform them into innovative products. “The BAUME OCEAN Limited Edition from the BAUME collection is much more than a product. It symbolizes our determination to support our partners – WFO and SEAQUAL INITATIVE – in their daily combat against marine pollution, and to participate in a global consideration of the Brand’s role in today’s society,” explains David Chaumet, CEO of Baume & Mercier.

The 42mm case on the Ocean model is crafted using a recycled plastic cap produced by the NGO WFO, a historical partner of BAUME; and the case is then sheathed in blue or green anodized aluminum. The cap is made up of 80% recycled plastic gathered by the partner NGO Waste Free Oceans and reinforced with 20% glass fibers to increase its resistance. Baume say they spent time selecting the plastic debris from the ocean that offers the highest performance, durability, and quality. This is anew direction for the B&M factory and it might just be the right road to take.

You see, today’s wokerati generation demand a product back story; full of cuddly dolphins, happy islanders dragging in plastic-free fishing nets at sunset and fewer product miles, so that Instagrammers who spend 9 months of their year taking private jets to exotic locations for photo shoots, can blog about sustainability. It’s all drivel of course, but if it makes people feel good about using less of the earth’s resources in manufacturing new watches, then that can only be good news. Because in the end, if the watch industry doesn’t play this game, it WILL get cancelled. Make no mistake.

So being eco-friendly, supporting the circular economy, is a way that Baume can win over a new, younger collector audience. It could well be then that Baume eventually survives at the expense of the old B&M brand name which seems a bit old hat by comparison? Much depends on the popularity those hipster upcycled automatics and I would suggest Baume urgently needs a smartwatch that also helps clean up the oceans. Meantime, if you want to go a different, more sustainable path as regards your watch habit, then The OCEAN BAUME Limited Edition is available for sale at £1290 on www.baume-et-mercier.com and on partner sites such as www.mrporter.com

As a footnote, there is a huge opportunity for Omega to make its Planet Ocean watches the ultimate marine life badge of virtue-signalling, with a minimum 5% donation to plastic waste gathering and backing various recycling projects around the world. Just saying.

Each Joago Watch Takes 1Kg of Plastic Out of The Oceans

OK, it isn’t much but it is a start. You have to admire Joago, who, like many other watch brands, are deeply aware of how wasteful mass consumer goods production really is.

This stuff matters because in the 2020s we are going to see lots of activists attacking the jewellery and watch industry as an essentially white-privileged, elitist sector of the global economy. So, creating straps and cases from recycled materials shows a commitment to change the way watches are made, which helps the circular economy of course so you actually reduce product miles, stop pillaging raw materials at the usual rate, and boost local employment, assuming you can actually manufacture cost-effectively in your home country that is.

There are three Joago models on Kickstarter right now. Top of the tree is the solar powered Soleos model, with a Seiko/Epson cell inside its recycled stainless steel case. Then there’s the quartz Eos, which also comes with a vegan velvet strap option by the way, so you can tick another box and reject leather products.

At the budget end of the range there is the Terra quartz model, with a choice of straps; recycled steel, recycled pineapple waste, vegan velvet and recycled ocean plastics – all that for just $95 on the early bird offer.

Joago claim that their Soleos model will last a lifetime but as any Citizen Eco-Drive owners knows, that isn’t true – you cannot defeat physics. That said, this sort of marketing and manufacturing strategy is right on the money for younger watch buyers of course and at $229 on the early bird deal the Soleos is great value – also features a sapphire crystal. You can only admire the Joago recycling policy and hope other watch brands begin to reform their supply chains, stop using child labour in China and elsewhere, source batteries from mines where the zinc is extracted with some responsibility for the environment and so on.

Most of all, the watch industry needs to end its love affair with cheap, disposable quartz movement watches, because the waste button battery cell mountain alone must be millions every year. Automatics and mechanicals, with regular servicing, DO last a lifetime and the industry should be shouting that fact from the rooftops.

As a footnote, check out this Dutch plastic recycling barge which can work a river, save the fish and local plant life, plus harvest that waste plastic for more watch straps. It’s all good we say.

Tavannes Buggy Is a Watch For Adrenaline Junkies

Tavannes is one of those ancient names in watchmaking with a fine pedigree in making innovative timepieces. Pocket watch collectors will know the Tavannes brand, as the Swiss factory was producing thousands of them from the 1890s to the outbreak of WW1. Then there was the Tavannes belt watch, or the waterproof watch designed for submariners in 1917. Advanced stuff for sure.

Now a US company has the Tavannes name and branding rights, with production based in Tavannes, Switzerland. They have some great designs, includinga  revival of the famous belt buckle design. But one thing has been bugging Tavannes and that is the reluctance of men aged under 40 to get into collecting Swiss watches. Thing is, they see something like a Rolex Oyster and immediately associate that with their Dad – or grandad. So the answer is market a mechanical, or quartz watch that has abuggy-like cage.

The cage is super-light and very tough, you can see the Tavannes staff standing on it, so it will protect the watch case inside. It also mimics the dune buggy designs so beloved of racers from Baja California to Saudi Arabia. Sapphire crystal, 2 year guarantee, choice of straps when the funding target is hit pre-shipment of your watch. You can mix and match the watch with two different cage material designs, or a variety of straps too.

It costs £535 for the automatic variant, complete with NATO strap, which isn’t bad for something truly unique and a great deal cooler than an Armani or Hugo Boss watch that couldn’t really handle extreme sports every well. On a tight budget? Get an early bird offer on the Ronda quartz model from £245.

Verdict: A Casio G-Shock or Timex Ironman have been the default choices for adventure sports watch fans over the last few years so it’s great to see Tavannes taking on this segment of the market. Maybe a Buggy GPS Cage-Fighter model could be the next step and arguably bang on for the target customer too. We haven’t trademarked the name so you can have that on us!

The campaign is active right now on Kickstarter.

Kickstarter: SOVRYGN Skeleton is A Budget Winner

We love Kickstarter projects and this one should appeal to anyone who loves a skeleton movement, or a striking green dial.

Both are features of the SOVRYGN Successor model, which comes in automatic or quartz formats. Miyota power for the auto and there’s nothing wrong with that. The steel case features a sapphire crystal plus a sapphie see-thru caseback on the auto model, plus some nice superlume detailing. There’s a slightly square shaped quartz model with gold painted/plated case too.

The skeleton dial features a map of Nigeria, which is the home country of the SOVRYGN founder and the dial plate is made from carbon fibre. Leather straps or steel bracelets are available. There are also multi-buy options and discounts on the Kickstarter page too. It’s a novel twist on the Indie watch format, although some details don’t look that well finished to us, like the screws on the caseback for example. Just a minor detail, but they would look better set flush into the caseback, not indented.

The bottom line however is that the automatic SOVRYGN costs just £230 or therabouts, depending on the Canadian dollar exchange rate. That isn’t a bad price for a brand new automatic that looks as tasty as this one with see-thru features from both sides of the case. More details here, still four weeks to go on funding and delivery due in March 2021.

 

Kingsbury’s Varsity Motorsport Auto is a Quirky Alternative

Some people like a 4pm position winding crown, some don’t. But if you don’t like it on an automatic watch, then it’s no biggie, as you won’t be winding it very often.

So the Varsity budget auto from Canada based Kingsbury Watches, is a refreshing change from the mainstream, for several reasons not just the 4pm crown. Although it’s motorsport themed dials lack some of the visual punch of say Omogolato or Viquiera, the Varsity is more old school, a bit plainer, more 1950s/60s. But for some collectors less is more, there is a simplicity, a functionality at play here.

kingsbury watch varsity 3

Looks vintage, but the Varsity is in fact very modern; there’s a sapphire crystal, plus Superlume on the hands and markers and a stainless steel case. That classic sub-second dial with red hand gives this a dashboard clocks kinda vibe.

We like the engraved caseback too. You don’t often get details like this on a budget watch priced under £150.

kingsbury watch varsity 2

Fact is, a Seiko YN77 movement powered watch, with a spare NATO or leather strap, for about £120 is amazing value. You can buy a boxed set of all four yellow, blue, grey and black dialed Varsity watches for $840 Canadian dollars, which works out at just £480.

Given that each yellow/blue/black or grey watch is one of just 50 being made,  so 200 Varsity models in total, that is sweet deal we say.

There’s more here at the Kinsgbury Kickstarter page.

Oris Hangang River Edition Ticks The Right Green Boxes

Swiss brand Oris are ticking the green/climate change boxes, like many watch brands these days. The latest model called Hangang River, includes a donation to a clean-up of a much used industrial river in South Korea. Some might say that is the responsibility of the Korean government, but never mind.

It’s a partnership with the Korea Federation of Environmental Movements, and local litter picks, some work to old dams that were placed on the Hangang in the 80s to speed up mass industrialisation of the region and dealing with algae build-up are all goals for the programme. Worthy stuff.

Of course you may just love this vivid, very striking bright green watch, and all its beautifully made details. Will it become a colectors item in future? Unlikely we think, so investors should buy an Oris Carl Brashear limited edition bronze case diver instead.

Why? Just look at it. Cool, timeless, bronze case will age like fine wine, plus it has global appeal – the Hangang does not. Just saying.

oris carl brashear ltd diver bronze

The green Hangang River model retails at about £2100. Quite expensive for an Oris we think, but you are saving the world, so as Harry and Meghan would say from a video in their private jet, `It’s all good bro.’

Here are the tech specs on the Hangang River limited edition model;

Case; Multi-piece stainless steel case, unidirectional rotating bezel with ceramic insert
Size 43.50 mm (1.713 inches)
Dial Gradient green
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 of the Hangang River map

Stainless steel screw-in
security crown with crown protection
Bracelet Stainless steel metal bracelet,
security folding clasp with extension
Water resistance 30 bar (300 m)
Movement
Number Oris 743

Functions Centre hands for hours and
minutes, continuous seconds hand at
9 o’clock, circular date window with
white indicator, date corrector, fine
timing device and stop-second
Winding Automatic
Power reserve 38 hours

Limited edition 2,000 pieces, each
delivered in a special presentation box
Swiss retail price CHF 2,500
Available August 2020

Bowrington Bronze: Inspired by Naval History of Hong Kong

Bowrington are an indie brand based in Hong Kong and have delved into naval history to find inspiration ofr this vintage 42mm bronze cased automatic. Featuring a nice aged patina, lume on dial, vintage leather strap and tropical style dial colour, it’s on Kickstarter right now and heading towards its funding target.

Dubbed HMS Tamar, this watch marks the sinking of the Tamar in Hong Kong harbour during World War Two, when the British base there came under attack from the Japanese.

HMS Tamar was actually a Victorian era ship, powerd by sails and steam engines. In the early 20th century it had been converted into a floating base at HK, serving as an admin centre, training barracks etc. It was towed out into the harbour and scuttled as the Japanese attacked on 11th December 1941, during a night-time attack. The Tamar held air in the hull for some time and would not sink, so the British gun battery had to shoot holes into it to make sure it vanished benath the waves. The wreckage was discovered in 2015 and the anchor is on display in HK today.

bowrington bronze 42mm case

OK, back to the watch. The Bowrington is owered by a trusty Seiko NH35 movement, this is a budget auto for collectors who want that classic bronze/steampunk vibe. It has a 22m lug width, so you can choose another vintage strap or bracelet if you like. The watch is rated at 200m depth and the winding crown is also bronze by the way.

At just £211 on the early bird price, this is a very good value automatic watch and one of the cheapest bronze cased watches we have seen on the market recently.