Tag Archives: tech

Swatch NASA Collection Has a Bioceramic Edge

With Space X sending rockets into the skies, and then landing the boosters back on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship – yep, the videos are so cool – the time is right for some 60s/70s Spaceman type watches.

So, Swatch Group has launched a new NASA inspired collection, plus it ticks the recycling box as they are using reclaimed plastic waste materials making these watches. Hopefully Elon Musk will sign a deal with a big watch brand to create some amazing Spaxce X watches, or manufacture them in-house. Now that would be interesting.

Here’s the word;

Time is what you make of it, and at Swatch, the sky’s not the limit; dreams are. While the perceptions of NASA differ across generations, one thing remains the same – the space agency’s ability to capture the public’s imagination and desire to explore the stars and new horizons. The brand’s latest collection taps into this feeling, inspiring people to dream big, create their own universe and make the most of their time on earth.

Fueled by a passion for innovation, the Space Collection celebrates NASA and reveals the next chapter of the BIOCERAMIC Swatch story. Two-thirds ceramic and one-third bio-sourced plastic, BIOCERAMIC boasts a silk-like touch and is extremely resilient—the best of both worlds. Three of the five watches feature elements of bio-sourced material and are directly inspired by the spacesuits worn by NASA astronauts.

BIG BOLD CHRONO EXTRAVEHICULAR looks to the iconic white spacesuit for inspiration. First worn in 1983 by NASA astronauts Story Musgrave and Donald Peterson, the white suits shield astronauts from the sun’s radiation.

The white chrono features a 47mm BIOCERAMIC case and a bio-sourced plastic glass. The chrono timer is not set to the usual full hour marker but ten seconds prior and highlighted in red as a nod to the final countdown to liftoff. The crown is positioned at 3 o’clock alongside two pushers, while the red and blue strap loops, hands with Swatch glow and NASA logo complete the design.

The orange Advanced Crew Escape Suit, also known as the Pumpkin Suit, inspires the BIG BOLD CHRONO LAUNCH. The bright orange color of the watch mirrors the highly visible suits worn by astronauts for the ascent into space.

The orange chrono features a 47mm BIOCERAMIC case and a bio-sourced plastic glass. The chrono timer is not set to the usual full hour marker but ten seconds prior and highlighted in red as a nod to the final countdown to liftoff. The crown is positioned at 3 o’clock alongside two pushers, while the blue and white strap loops, silver-colored dial, hands with Swatch glow and NASA logo complete the design.

The BIG BOLD JUMPSUIT echoes the everyday go-to blue jumpsuits astronauts wear for press conferences or working in the NASA facility. The blue watch features a 47mm BIOCERAMIC case and a bio-sourced plastic glass. The crown is positioned at 2 o’clock, while the white strap loops, hands with Swatch glow and NASA logo complete the design.

Rounding up the Swatch Space Collection is TAKE ME TO THE MOON ‘NEW GENT’ with a transparent case, and SPACE RACE ‘GENT’ with a mirror-effect ilver-colored dial.

Watch out for the Swatch Space Collection exclusive set that includes the youngest member of the Swatch family. Available in selected Swatch stores from June 3, 2021.

Breitling’s Digital Passports Could Revolutionise Resale Market

Proof of ownership is crucial when it comes to luxury watches. If you’ve ever tried selling a Swiss watch without box & paperwork, then you’ll know that many UK dealers aren’t keen. They are rightly aware of replica Rolex, Breitling, TAG, AP and many other brands knocking about. Then there’s that thing where angry relatives appear in the shop, saying old Dave had no right selling that watch, it was promised to little Kev, who still has the empty box…you can see how that can go pear-shaped right?

Then there’s the possibility of losing the box and paperwork – that can happen very easily. Suddenly your Navitimer has lost about £500 in resale value. Not good.

So is the answer digital passports? Breitling think so, here’s the word from their press office;

As the first luxury watch brand to extend digital blockchain technology to all of its watches, Breitling is transforming blockchain innovation through a service available to everyone. All of Breitling’s watches produced after October 13 include a digital passport with blockchain – secured by the Arianee protocol – that allows owners to prove the authenticity of their products and the legitimacy of their ownership.

Beyond ensuring the authenticity of each product, the digital passport is at the heart of a new ecosystem of digital services for Breitling watch owners. The passport is automatically connected to Breitling’s digital warranty program powered by Dentsu Tracking, and it also allows owners to initiate and track any repairs to the watch, and soon to extend the warranty period and subscribe to an insurance for theft or loss.

At the heart of Breitling’s vision lies the possibility for watch owners to control their personal data and to remain anonymous, without missing out on an innovative and symbiotic brand–customer relationship in the luxury industry.

The protocol developed by Arianee offers a fixed digital identity that is unique to each product, with blockchain technology ensuring airtight security and privacy.

Digital Wallet

From October 13, 2020, each new Breitling watch includes a private and unique digital passport. Watch owners can simply scan their electronic guarantee card with their smartphone camera to automatically download the private, encrypted digital wallet, which safely stores the digital passport. This passport contains every detail of the owner’s watch, including its serial number, and the product is time-stamped with the activation date of its digital warranty and its purchase. Accessible only through the digital wallet, this passport includes a transfer feature that allows the owner to prove the watch’s authenticity and assess its ownership, as well as an option to transfer the watch if the current owner desires.

This innovative new feature enhances watch ownership, as owners now no longer need to present a physical certificate of authenticity for their Breitling watches. Furthermore, watch owners can safely and securely transfer this certificate in case of resale. With this blockchain-based digital passport, collectors no longer need to retain paper documents, and instead can freely consult with Breitling more efficiently and anonymously thanks to an embedded chat feature.

Through this novel way of proving ownership of luxury watches through digital means, Breitling’s customers can, for the first time, experience a new way to collect watches. Repairs are registered in the certificate with a timestamp in the blockchain, upcoming insurance services are more reactive to issues like loss or theft, and resale warranties enhance the brand experience.

Georges Kern, Breitling CEO:
“The successful launch of the Top Time last March underlined how many benefits Breitling owners could get through a sustained relationship with the brand. This is why, as of today, we are offering the Breitling digital passport with every new Breitling watch without exception! By offering a comprehensive range of innovative services for their watches, we are concretely providing our clients with the inclusivity that characterizes our belief and approach at Breitling. Stay tuned as we are about to announce another significant change for our clients, again increasing the value of our watches.”

Antonio Carriero, Chief Digital and Technology Officer of Breitling:“Here, we are truly making an industry change: we are empowering the customer not only through the watch on their wrist, but also with a digital passport in a secured digital wallet, always providing tailored suggestions throughout the ownership experience. Customer engagement is at the heart of everything we do, so it goes without saying that we will continue to offer additional services to Breitling owners with absolute security and a complete respect for privacy. This is truly what brand innovation should be in 2020: transforming the relationship with our customers.”

Pierre-Nicolas Hurstel, co-founder and CEO of Arianee: “Our ambition is to give Breitling the opportunity to develop its own service economy and to transform their customer relationships by proposing a more circular, transparent model for their products. The fact that Arianee’s protocol is completely decentralized gives us the ability to envision the emergence of an open-source technology that is free and available to its users, avoiding all of the negative impacts that larger, more centralized systems have on our daily lives.”

Does this move give you confidence in owning a Breitling, or is it perhaps another way that brands can track and trace owners, plus mither the life out them re servicing and extras? Post a comment if you feel the urge.

Rolex Sky-Dweller: Synthetic Strap, Cal 9001 Movement

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.

new Rolex Sky-dweller specs

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?

Check this Clickspring reconstruction of the Antikythera clock here. It is mind-blowing.

More info from Rolex in this pdf by the way.

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.

New Bulova Accutron Combines Retro With Electrostatic Turbines

Can Accutron stand alone as a brand like say Lexus from Toyota, or Infiniti from Nissan, or even AMG from Mercedes come to that? It’s a brave move by Citizen/Bulova to give the Accutron its own website and range of models, all with the unique electrical dynamo type power movement inside.

The original Accutron watches are going up in value now, as fewer of them are still functioning, which is no surprise given that they were never meant to last 50 years or more. So a new variant, or two, is welcome. These see-thru watches will spark up conversations with fellow watch fans, with their spinning turbine blades looking like mini power stations – which they are of course.

The wheels spin and statically charge electrodes, and like your hair standing on end, the small charge of electrical power then makes the second hand turn.

accutron DNA green

There are two models, with the historic DNA model being closer to the original in terms of styling. It’s bigger though, at some 45mm wide, which won’t suit every wrist.

Interestingly if you read the instruction manual it says the timepiece is designed to run from the factory for two years, but it has a five year warranty. Like an automatic, you do need to move your wrist to make the turbine wheels rotate and thus charge the motor. The manual says under no circumtances must the back be opened to fit a new capacitor by the way.

accutron spaceview 1

The Accutron Spaceview 2020 (above) is a limited edition, with 300 units being sold, complete with box and special booklet. It’s a very striking luminous green colour, with those turbine blades fully on show for your delight. You get some superluminova paint on the hands, plus a copper coloured second hand too. Great stuff, but it costs $4000, some $700 extra over the DNA model.

accutron legacy 600 ltd edition

Then there’s the Accutron Legacy range, which are automatics using Swiss 26 jewel movements. A 34mm case size and a 4pm winder position, just like many 1970s gents mechanical watches from Montine, Oriosa, Seiko and others, gives the legacy models a real old school feel. But is that enough for $1290 and above? Hmmm, not sure.

It is interesting that Citizen, who own Bulova have decided to tap into the US heritage that Bulova enjoyed back in the 60s with their Swiss made marketing. Hence a Swiss auto movement instead of a Citizen/Miyota. It is hard to see how the Accutron revivals will sell well in Europe, where the originals remain something of a cult and $3300 for a non-Swiss watch is seen as a real gamble when it comes to resale values for many collectors.

More info at the new Accutron watches website here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hublot Big Bang E Black Ceramic – Smart Move, or a Bit Pricey?

Would you pay Swiss luxury wristwatch prices for a smartwatch? Well Hublot think that you will, and they’ve launched their E Black Ceramic smartwatch, which retails for a tasty £4,800. 

It features a 42mm case width, with the case itself made from ceramic. Now we aren’t big fans of watches made from pottery here at The Northern Watch Co magazine because they are easy to break if dropped, and there’s no way it can be repaired. On the upside ceramic is easy to clean and very scratch-resistant, albeit a bit cold on the wrist in winter. There’s some titanium in the case construction as well as ceramic materials too.

The Hublot smartwatch runs on Google OS by the way, so if you have a Google account, Gmail and use Hangouts, Drive for your Docs etc then that is all peachy as heck. If you don’t, then that’s another heap of sync jazz that you’ll have to master.

It has a gyro and accelerometer in there of course, so you will have no trouble tracking fitness activities like cycling or running. It runs Bluetooth, you can take calls and speak into the mike naturally – the battery life is estimated at 24 hours.

e black ceramic features

Here’s some press kit blurb from Hublot;

Full of sophistication and advanced technology, this piece fits in perfectly with Hublot’s watchmaking tradition. All the codes that have helped build the brand’s reputation thus far can be recognised instantly, by enthusiasts and the public alike. 

A good pedigree always shines through! Its case is cut from materials such as black ceramic or titanium in a “sandwich” construction, an innovative style invented by Hublot in 2005. Extremely complex, it comprises 42 components, 27 of which are for the K Module alone, the “cage” which houses the digital heart of the watch. T

he design of the screws and pushers, the scratchproof sapphire crystal, and its rubber strap – with deployant buckle invented by Hublot in 1980 for the Classic model and the patented One Click system for easy interchangeability –  leave no-one in doubt: element by element, it is clear that this is a true Big Bang!

 

Richard Mille Re-Invents The Pocket Watch

Luxury watchmaker Richard Mille has given the old school pocket watch a modern twist, with a tourbillon movement inside a square case, attached to a keychain. It’s a high quality bespoke piece as you’d expect, with carbon fibre and titanium all over the shop.

Inside is the RM20 movement and on the dial you’ll see a kind of gearbox indicator which lets you know when you’re in the winding position, or hands setting mode. Interesting detail; it runs at quite a low 21,000vph speed, so should have long term reliability, as in a lifetime of service.

Here’s a little bit of tech detail from the RM website;

The RM 020, the only pocket watch in the Richard Mille collection, has a unique, slightly rectangular case housing its exceptional 10-day tourbillon movement, with the two bezels curving outwards in two directions. The creation of a case like this, including the front and back sapphire glass which offers an open view of all parts, is a veritable tour-de-force of Swiss casemaking in haute horlogerie. The case is assembled with 16 spline screws in grade 5 titanium and abrasion-resistant washers in 316L stainless steel.

rm pocket watch

Here’s the tech specs from RM;

Movement dimensions: 42.20 x 42.20 mm
Thickness: 8.40 mm
Tourbillon diameter: 12.30 mm
Number of jewels: 28, set in white gold chatons
Balance wheel diameter: 9.12 mm
Balance: Glucydur®, 2 arms, 4 setting screws, moment of inertia 10 mg•cm2, angle of lift 53°
Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)
Balance spring: elinvar by Nivarox®
Shock protection: KIF Elastor KE 160 B28
Barrel shaft: nickel-free Chronifer® (DIN x 46 Cr 13 + S) with the following characteristics: stainless – antimagnetic – suitable for tempering

We cannot see any clues as to the UK price on the RM website,but let’s take a guess at about £70,000. Reassuringly expensive.

 

 

New Watches: JLC Master Control is One For The Watchmakers

We have a soft spot for Jaeger le Coultre watches here at the Northern Watch Co. It started with a 1940s bumper automatic that was discovered lurking in an antique shop in Ireland a few years back. A thorough clean-up and that watch was a runner again – the mark of quality engineering we say. Innovations like the Reverso and Powermatic, with its handy reserve display once made JLC a premiership level watch brand.

Those days are gone to be blunt, but the Jaeger name still means build quality, in-house expertise and beautiful finishing. As an investment JLC might not have the appeal of a Rolex GMT or Royal Oak, but if you simply love watchmaking, then the range is always worth a look.

The Master Control Chronograph, which features a triple date calendar and moonphase dial display is one of those rare technical feats that not every watch collector will appreciate – unless they try to take one apart and re-assemble it again. Certainly beyond the skill of most of us. However, the resale value of a JLC like this – which costs a hefty £12,900 RRP – compared to say a Rolex Submariner Batman, is pretty appalling. You’re going to lose TAG F1 percentages basically – about 40% in year one, maybe another 15% over the next three years of ownership. That’s a big hit financially.

The other thing to consider from JLC’s marketing point of view is that again, we have a very simple, clean dial design. It is slightly underwhelming for the money and the fact is, some people who DO have 13K or more to spend on a wristwatch actually need poor people to gasp in awe at the huge chunk of bling on their wrists. I’m not one of those impressed by enormous cases and multi-featured bezels and buttons as found on some Breitlings. But you can’t argue with the sales stats – big flashy watches do sell.

Here’s the press info from Richemont below;

JLC master control chrono 12900
Chrono version retails at £12,900 and that is a big problem for many watch enthusiasts. You have to be dedicated to love the JLC brand.

Since it was introduced in 1992, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Master Control collection has been defined by technical rigour and stylistic restraint. In 2020, La Grande Maison relaunches the collection, drawing inspiration from the classic round watches of the 1950s, such as the Futurematic, PowerMatic and Memovox models, and adding a dash of 21st-century flair. Rather than paying homage to a single historic reference, Jaeger-LeCoultre presents a range of timepieces featuring some of its most emblematic complications.

jaeger le coultre master control side view

When launched in 1992, the Master Control line was the first of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s collections to benefit from its pioneering ‘1000 Hours Control’ certification – which inspired the collection’s name.

A demanding process that tests the entire cased-up watch (not just its movement), it set a new benchmark when introduced and has continually evolved in response to technological advances, to remain one of the watch industry’s most stringent testing protocols. Naturally, with this background, the Manufacture’s engineers have comprehensively revised and updated all of the movements, increasing power reserves to as much as 70 hours and enhancing overall performance and reliability. Like all Jaeger-LeCoultre timepieces, the Master Control watches carry an 8-year warranty in addition to the 1,000 Hours Control certification.

 

jaeger reverso blue
The Reverso is arguably just as influential design as the Cartier Tank, but few mainstream watch consumers seem aware of it.

 

In the 1940s and ’50s Jaeger-LeCoultre was renowned for its triple calendar moon-phase movements, and the new Master Control Calendar brings that tradition into the 21st century. With a case measuring 40mm x 10.95mm, it is offered in either steel or Le Grand Rose gold®.

 

The finely balanced classical layout of the dial is retained, with the dates marked around the periphery, indicated by a red-tipped hand, the days and months displayed in the upper part of the dial, and the moon-phase set within the small seconds subdial in the lower part.

But there is a fresh new twist to the date display: as well as updating Calibre 866 with the same performance-enhancing improvements made to cal.899, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s engineers have added a delightful new jumping complication. Every month, the date hand makes a 90-degree leap from the 15th to the 16th, in order not to obscure the moon-phase display.

Alternative triple date chronographs? If you’re on a budget then a nice example of the Omega Moonwatch from the 1990s could be a wise investment at about £1800-£2200. How about something truly rare? An Angelus triple date chronograph from the 1950s might cost you about 3K for a really nice example. It’s more delicate than an Omega Speedmaster perhaps, but arguably forms part of the inspiration for the modern JLC Master Control Chronograph.