The word from Oris who have just launched a movie tie-in watch, based on their Aquis model;
We’re delighted to introduce our latest co-creation, the Sun Wukong Limited Edition, a 2,000-piece limited-edition version of our high-performance Aquis Date diver’s watch that’s been designed and produced in partnership with the Shanghai Animation Film Studio Co. (SAFS).
The watch celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Chinese animated feature film, The Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven, which was produced by the Wan brothers and originally released by SAFS in 1961 during the Second Golden Era of the Chinese film industry.
The Monkey King, or Sun Wukong in Mandarin Chinese, is a legendary mythical figure from the 16th century Chinese classic novel Journey to the West. The story tells of how Sun Wukong, a monkey born from stone, acquires supernatural powers before rebelling against heaven. In the story, the Monkey King acquires a red pillar with golden tips that he shrinks to become a staff to fight his enemies and their unjust ways with, creating the “uproar” described in the title.
Oris’s designers saw an opportunity in the Monkey King’s staff, a magical red and golden pillar he uses to defeat his enemies. The seconds hand became that weapon, red with golden tips. To express how fast the Monkey King spins it in battle, the designers abstracted the form, adding repeating flashes of blue that diminish and return in size and colour to suggest constant motion.
The effect is intoxicating, creating a tangible and yet otherworldly impression of a fast-spinning staff, which becomes almost audible as you look at it. Beyond its unique, playful aesthetic, the Sun Wukong Limited Edition carries the same quality signifiers and refined silhouette the Aquis Date has become known for. It has a 41.5 mm stainless steel case and a uni-directional rotating bezel that’s equipped with an ocean blue ceramic bezel that plays an appreciable role in delivering the watch’s singular character.
Crown protectors, a screw-down crown and a stainless steel bracelet with an extendable folding clasp serve as a reminder of the watch’s impeccable underwater credentials – as the dial indicates, the watch is water-resistant to 30 bar (300 metres). Inside it is an automatic mechanical movement that provides the watch with its sweeping, “spinning” central seconds hand. Completing the story, the case back is engraved with the head of Sun Wukong and his staff, while the same dial abstraction repeats on the special presentation case. Only 2,000 pieces will be made.
As activists around the developed world furiously try to impose their Marxist utopian visions on the rest of us, one target in their sights in consumerism itself. XR and many others want us to consume less – of everything; from meat to fast fashion, plastic to Swiss watches.
Those who disobey this edict can often find their companies being boycotted on Twitter, or other Woke spokespersons flaming them on mainstream media. Just look at the recent Amazon Black Friday protests in the UK and the coverage they get.
But one company in Switzerland is ahead of the curve when it comes to cancel culture, and they’re insuring their future – and the planet’s – to an extent, by using 100% recycled materials in their watches.
ID Geneve are using refurbished existing movements, rather than building brand new ones. They also make their cases from recycled steel. The straps are made from reclaimed grape press residue, which is a new one on us at NWC mag.
They even have a modular design, so some parts are inter-changeable, which makes service and repair easier and thus extends the lifespan of the product.
There is a lesson here for mass production quartz watch producers too; make it easier for people to repair your fashion watches, and cheaper, so they don’t all end up in landfill.
CIRCULAR ECONOMY NEEDS TO BE FOR EVERYONE, NOT JUST THE POOR
You have to hand it to ID, they are doing the circular economy thing to the next level. Maybe this is the future for many watch collectors? Recycle what you have, upgrade the watch with new recycled parts every few years, rather than acquire new watches?
Or perhaps new flagship luxury timepieces will be reserved for the tech/celeb/political elite, just like petrol supercars, jetset travel and the best healthcare already is?
At 3500 Swiss Francs (£2800 APPROX) this is not a cheap watch. There has to be a way of recycling Swiss watches that are inclusive to all, truly affordable, otherwise the consumer will do the maths and realise a new Tissot, Frederique Constant, Hamilton or Oris is a better choice than the ID Geneve, despite its obvious greener, 100% recycled, credentials.
If you look at what VinMov are doing in terms of recasing quality Swiss movements, then you can see there is a way of doing this. True, not every part is recycled, but with prices at under £300 mere mortals can afford to preserve some Swiss watchmaking heritage.
Ball watches have a 130th anniversary special on sale right now. Here’s the word from Ball;
Rooted in purposeful watchmaking, the Engineer II Moon Calendar is a dress watch with distinction. From its artful moon phase display to its robust stainless steel, it is a timepiece designed to go everywhere your imagination leads.
Anniversary price: the Engineer II Moon Calendar is part of our 130th celebration, limited to 1000 pieces and is now available for pre-order until 24 November 2021 at an exclusive price of £1810.
Crafted from stainless steel, the 40mm case of the Engineer II Moon Calendar is tough enough to handle all the unexpected bumps of daily wear with smooth elegance. At a case thickness of just 13.4mm, this everyday watch ensures a comfortable wearing experience.
The clean white dial presents the perfect backdrop to highlight the blue moon phase indicator as well as the dates of the month marked on the outer edge of the dial. With 4 recessed pushers on the flanks of the case to control the adjustment of the complications, the design of the Engineer II Moon Calendar is unadulterated minimalism at its best.
Day, date, month, and moon phase.
The true calendar timepiece showcases sophisticated functionality with high legibility. The spacious day and month windows are perfectly complemented by the whimsical fourth hand and its crescent moon tip that indicate the date.
Not to be overshadowed, the moon phase display showcases our watchmaking prowess with elegance and precision, accompanied by markings that indicate the time it takes for the moon to complete one phases cycle: 29½ days. A timepiece full of complications, presented with simplicity.
The Armin Strom Tribute 1 California, which continues the brand’s eye-catching fusion of tradition and transparent mechanics, features a California-style dial created in a choice of five fumé colours that offer a striking contrast to the black guilloché plate. Each colour option has been produced in a limited edition of five pieces.
The California dial: reviving a design icon
The newest interpretation of the Armin Strom Tribute 1, the brand’s popular modern dress watch, takes its name from the so-called California dial, which is distinguished by its alternating Roman and Arabic numerals.
The dial, which is offered in five different colours, also features bar markers and a railway track minute ring. The California dial design, which is a favourite among watch aficionados, dates back to the 1930s and with its distinct presentation on the coloured dials, it offers each proud owner a timepiece of distinction and a touch of exclusivity.
The visibility of the barrel on the dial makes the Tribute 1 California resolutely modern while the California dial gives it a pleasing vintage flair.
What we like about this; true handcrafted watchmaking. Got a real Fritz Lang Metropolis feel to it.
OK, it’s easy to answer, any Rolex except the really old 1930s gents models that now look like ladies watches. But watch collecting from an investment point of view isn’t that simple and there are options beyond the usual suspects, such as Subs, Daytonas, GMTs etc.
Let’s start with the affordable Rolex, Tudor, which is of course part of the Rolex empire and shares many common features technically.
From the Black Bay range sold over the last few years, you have to say the Bucherer bronze case editions from 2016-18 look like a safe bet for future price rises. That blue-on-blue dial and bezel combo is satisfying to look at and the bronze case gives it character over time. Definitely one to stash in the safe and wait until it appears in a retro movie or Netflix show in the 2030s.
Limited editions are always good, so if you can pick up one of the 2,010 Vancouver Winter Games Omega Seamasters, then I reckon you are onto a winner. It has a striking, bright red bezel, unusual for any Omega and the unique caseback sesign too.
Hard to find, which is always a good indicator of a watch keeping pace with inflation, even if it doesn’t quite race ahead.
THE F1 EFFECT
The TAG Formula 1 quartz is a budget choice, but bear with me. Yes, you won’t ever make a fortune collecting the 1980s/90s TAG F1 watches, even if you get them with box and papers. TAG made millions of them, in a variety of colours and bezel designs.
But they are durable for a quartz watch, battery changes are very easy to accomplish, and you can sometimes find straps or spare bracelet links at reasonable prices. For an investment of say 2K, a trio of TAG F1s makes an appealing mini collection – even better if you can pick `em off online from the same year.
Almost any triple day/date watch from the 40s-60s is going to appreciate in value, but the superstar brand for rising values is surely the Movado Triple Date. Consider this; in 2012 you could buy one from Bonhams for £350, now they fetching £2000 and above, depending on condition of course.
You need to make sure that the month, day and date indicator hand are all worrking of course. It’s debatable whether some fading of the dial is a good thing, as super clean dials tend to make collectors wary – has it been re-dialled or refurbished? Original is best and if you can buy a working example under £1000 we think it’s a safe bet. Not a watch to wear and use though, like anything 60-70 years old, it’s for looking at, not winding.
The news from Geneva that CIGA Design took an award win for Innovative design with their rotating globe, single hand timepiece was something of a wake-up call for us here.
Yep, NWC hasn’t really clocked on to CIGA as a brand and once we delved into their website and history it’s obvious we should paying more attention to the Chinese watch brand.
Why? Simple reason really, they love watches and balanced, compact engineering for its own sake, like Brunel or Tompion did in the past. We celebrate that ambition, that wonderful attention to detail.
They’re also ridiculously great value.
How much do you think an Indie brand, 18K gold plated, steel case, see-thru automatic, with spare strap and sapphire crystal should retail for? £500 perhaps, or a bargain at £300. Well the RRP is £189 in the UK and that includes a box that looks like a cool David Bailey photo collection book from the 1980s.
Got to say, we can’t wait to see what CIGA get busy creating next, because too many brands rely on essentially recycling their greatest hits.
St Anns Square in Manchester is one of the best places that watch fans can shop this Christmas. Within a few hundred metres you have nearly all the authorised big name Swiss dealers, plus independent watch shops and pawnbrokers.
Bremont has just set up a shop-within-a-shop franchise with Signet, better known as H Samuel and Ernest Jones to UK shoppers. You can also find official dealers for Duckworth Prestex, Ikepod, Junghans, Norqain and QlockTwo – and that’s just at Mappin & Webb.
If you like the luxury watches then Watches of Switzerland’s amazing shop on the main square is a good starting point. Here you’ll find Patek, Rolex, Omega, IWC, Cartier, Vacheron and Zenith. There is usually a burly security guy on the door by the way, checking people in and out, which is good to know if you have just bought a 40K watch.
If you love Rolex then official dealer David Robinson is across the way on the corner and they also have a wide range of pre-owned Rolex models. Very well trained staff in my experience, which is something worth your time if you like collecting a particular genre of Rolex, such as Subs, Daytonas or Sea Dwellers etc.
Walk towards Deansgate and you’ll see the separate Omega and TAG boutiques, plus a large Goldsmiths, multi-brand store. If you duck down that alleyway you will find Boodles on your left at the end as it joins King Street. Not my cup of tea, but undeniable high end watches and jewellery if that’s your thing.
On the way back along Police Street to St Anns Square, you might want to check out Rockefellers jewellers, which has a selection of pre-owned Rolex, Cartier, Breitling etc. Before you do, check Harrington & Hallworth on the corner of King St/Police St as they sometimes have some vintage pre-owned watches under 2K that are really nice quality. Very strong on knowledge at this shop, they know watch history which is a rare thing.
OK, now cross the square and head to the Exchange Arcade, where you will find Mays Pawnbrokers and Jewellers. This has about 15-20 watches in store but it’s part of a bigger chain of shops so they can search their database for you. All pre-owned stuff, they don’t stock new brands.
Neither does the Swiss Watch Shop opposite Mays, which has a big selection of pre-owned Swiss watches, with Rolex, Omega, TAG, Breitling etc being well represented. They will look at PX watches too.
Further along the arcade you’ll find Jenny Jones, who sometimes has the odd ladies vintage watch in store. They don’t really know much about watches tbh there, so skip it imho.
Now that is the question. The second question is something like, `should you bother with £20 clunkers, as they’re often not worth saving?’
Well, maybe not in terms of making money, because most eBay project watches are generally lesser known brands like this 39mm Mortima Datomatic. But there is a learning value, which is priceless. So if you want to learn a bit more about how to teach yourself watch repair, read on…
UNPICKING THE EVIDENCE OF PREVIOUS F***WITTERY
The story on this watch from the seller was that it `ran for a few minutes and kept stopping, found in a drawer.’ Well maybe so. Once unpacked it soon became obvious why the watch kept stopping; the hands were dragging on splashes of badly applied lume.
The crystal was also covered in scratches, but the steel case was generally OK, with a decent screw-on caseback. This was removed for a peek inside.
Yeah, re-luming the hands is a good idea – if you can manage it. But once inside the watch, I could see lume on the tips of the movement holder retaining ring. Wow. It takes some skill to get lume on the opposite side of the dial and movement.
What this also means is you have to clean the movement as lume could be inside the works.
I tried turning the hands and winding the watch, and this soon revealed that the extra lashings of lume had coagulated into a sticky mess, which then smeared around the dial, dragged by the hour hand, adding to the blobs already at the 7pm position. Oh pants. The joys of watch fettling.
Next step would be get the movement out but a good ten mins pressing the release button brought no freedom for the stem and crown. Drop of watch oil, still no joy.
That can happen, especially when a stem and crown has been rammed home in the past. I’m not saying that was the case on this Mortima, but a re-think was called for.
After a brew and a biscuit I looked at Plan B. Not not the UK govt plan to lock everyone down again and demand passports to visit the pubs, but a plan to remove the bezel and crystal and tidy up the dial by going in from the front.
The bezel didn’t want to move, but the thinnest blade on my case knife finally found a tiny gap. Worked this around a bit, protecting the case with a bit of polybag – the knife might slip. Then I used the bigger case knife blade to gradually prise open the gap. Take your time with this sort of thing on 50 year old watches as the bezels are often hiding skin, dirt and god knows what beneath them.
Finally, off it came and yes, you can see the dirt under the bezel and on the crystal too. I used a Bergeon crystal removing tool and my advice is don’t cheap out with a Chinese lift – it will lose its fine edges on the jaws and then slip, thus scratching crystals, or bezels.
Various parts now went in a bath of petroleum ether. Note the crystal on this, like many old watches, has a tension ring. (pic below) My advice is don’t remove it unless you have to.
REMOVE THE LUME FROM DIAL
For this task I used petroleum ether again, just a dab on the edge of my dial protector. This is plastic, so shouldn’t scratch the dial, and the ether dissolves the lume gradually, softening it up. You need to have a steady hand and a feel for the material becoming semi-liquid again, then lift it away and wipe it onto a clean tissue or kitchen roll.
The best plan would be to replace the damaged hands, but I didn’t have any hands in that fitted the cannon pinion. Measure this pinion carefully with a micrometer before attempting to fit new hands and check that the second hand can fit correctly as some have a thin spigot that the hand slides onto, absolutely flush.
Once you have the hands fited, always test them by moving the crown out and turning them slowly, if the minute and hour hand touch then you can damage them by moving them quickly.
Tip the watch upside down – over some kitchen roll or white paper – while the second hand is in situ – if it’s loose then it’s better it falls out now rather than when you have the watch re-assembled.
There are hundreds of different hand combinations on old watches. You can buy job lots but getting the right hands for an old watch can be difficult. Given a nice set of lumed dive watch hands can be £10-£15 a set, you need to be sure it’s worth spending cash on the watch.
Bear in mind that the hour hand may have to press on quite firmly, almost flush to the dial, so that means it needs a flat, flush profile on the back of the hand. You can buy a special set of tweezers for this task which have sort of dog-leg flat ends, that press down equally either side of the hand. Cousins or H Walsh are great sites for watch tools.
So, Plan B on the hands, work with what we have got.
I painstakingly removed the dodgy lume with a sharp cocktail stick and more ether. Slow process, but figured that empty `arrow type’ hands would look better once cleaned properly. Before replacing the hands I refitted the movement holder and put the caseback on, so the watch was dead level when pressing them on.
I use tweezers, plus tiny screwdriver, then once on, press gently with two flat blade screwdrivers. You need to practice and use a dial protector.
So now the bezel was clean after a soaking in an ether bath, I tried to refit the wire that goes in the tiny groove underneath. Ping! Off it went across the floor. Tried reworking the curve of it with my fingers, but after 15 mins messing it was obvious the bezel would never press on again. The wire was a kinda odd shape now it was free from its 50-year hiding place.
So, another session of bending and picking at dirt in the bezel groove, plus a tiny amount of watch oil improved matters. Using a caseback press I managed to get the bezel almost on again. It doesn’t fall off, and it turns quite nicely. But it ain’t 100% flush.
Despite loading up lots of pressure, it would not click down into position, and this is a common problem once you disturb old watch parts. They don’t like going back to factory settings, who does?
Spent 10 mins polishing the crystal but some deep scratches will not come out. Really, it needs a new one, but I don’t have one in stock with a date window magnifying section, so it’s a case of minimising the marks, or spending more cash on some thing that will probably never be worth more than fifty quid.
Finally, I fitted a NATO strap and took a snapshot – looks OK really, (see below) and after the movement being cleaned, the watch runs for 25 hours on a full wind. Compared to what we started with, we have a functioning old watch.
WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
Budget repairs only take you so far. Fixing the damage done by others is often impossible, unless you have a wealth of spare parts, so you can replace hands, bezels, wires, crystals etc with NOS parts and really, apart from prestige watch repairers and lifelong collectors, who has all that stuff to invest in a junkyard watch?
I reckon this Datomatic might make 35-50 quid on eBay now. It’s taken 5 hours of work, plus new strap, (£3) Polywatch polish, (£3) ether, (£15) tools etc (total investment for my little bench set up was about £350) to get there so is it worth it money-wise?
Nope, like restoring classic cars, or a local Council’s housing budget, it makes zero financial sense. But the getting of wisdom when it comes to fixing watches is an investment that pays off with a warm glow inside. Looking at a watch that runs nicely, and looks half OK, on your wrist and knowing you fixed it is a bit of good recycling karma. You learn so much from every rescue watch and if it all goes wrong, what have you lost? The price of a meal out and a few drinks.
The latest from Ball Watches – this is another handsome GMT model, with that traditional Ball lume all over the show. The GMT hand quick-set feature is a nifty gadget if you are a regular traveller. Here’s the word;
The Roadmaster Pilot GMT series is equipped with two remarkable timekeeping functions that soar to new levels of convenience. When travelling, simply push the quick-set buttons to jump the local 12-hour hand to its desired position without stopping the seconds hand.
Then easily turn the crown to jump the date correctly into position, eliminating the need to circle the dial with the hour hand. Complete with a virtually-scratchproof ceramic bezel, amazingly bright micro gas lights and chronometer-grade precision, the Pilot GMT is an ingenious traveler’s watch for the modern explorer.
The Roadmaster Pilot GMT series comes in 3 different variations and we are proud to introduce the latest addition with the black-green two-tone bezel that makes a striking statement with its vivid color.
Limited to 1,000 pieces each. Now available for pre-order until 15 December 2021 at an exclusive price, which is £1851.