Thursday, March 26, 2015

#Baselworld2015 Wrap Up - Part 3 - Bell & Ross Vintage WW1 Edición Limitada

I think after 10 years of flogging their square cockpit instrument inspired watch (yes 10 years. B&R said so. Even released a watch to commemorate this occasion), Bell & Ross is quite possible most known for it. And why not? It is a very distinctive case design, cashing in on the whole "big watch" trend and nowadays much copied. I have nothing against the square watch design. I do like it. But I much prefer their vintage WW1 watch case. A simple, round watch with wire lugs harks back to the days when wrist watches were made this way (soldering wire lugs onto pocket watches and attach a strap to it. I'm guessing here. I wasn't born back then...)

They released something quite stunning this year at Basel, and this is the watch - the Vintage WW1 Edicion Limitada. I truly hope they'll continue on with this series, make it general release and cover up the hole in the dial. The movement is a manual wind 5 day affair and from first glance I don't recognise it. (Lemme know if you do) and I love the sunburst effect of the Geneva stripe. It's much more interesting than regular straps and reminds me of the JLC Master 8 Days movement decoration. Dial is clean and elegant. Oh Gee, look at that! they copied Zenith's numerals!!! (Heavy sarcasm applied here) And whilst we're at it, the watch case too!! straight copy!!

This one is limited to 99 pieces and comes in a cigar case. I reckon I'll put my name down for a steel version, hopefully with a slate grey dial. and vintage lume. That would be sublime. at 42mm case diametre this would make for a great subtle dress watch with a hint of sporting flair. You know, like an Audi S6.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

#Baselworld2015 Wrap Up - Part 2 - Trending Blue Watches

Feelin' blue? Well my friend you're right on trend because out of the blue, this year blue is the new black according to the fashion forward set at this year's Baselworld. Blue watches is one of the dominating trends with many brands releasing a blue watch of some sort.

Here at tarts we have curated a quick selection of blue watches in a wide range of price points and varying degrees of complication, suitable for everyone from blue collar to white collar to no collar. That's right. You don't have to be blue blooded anymore to own a blue watch. Why with all these choices there's no reason to sing the blues no mo'. So why don't you take the blue pill and get yourself a blue watch this year?

In no particular order:

Faberge, the egg makers makes a watch

Edox Hydro-Sub

Chris Ward Trident Pro

Breitling Super Ocean

Oris Thelonium Monk Limited Edition

Omega Speedmaster X-33
Frederique Constant World Timer

Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Gravity

Blancpain Fifty Fathom Chronograph The Ocean Commitment

JeanRichard Terrascope Blue

Hublot Big Bang Unico Italia Independent

Sarpaneva Korona Northern Lights

Tudor Pelagos 

Glashutte Original PanoReserve and PanoMaticLunar

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 007 Spectre

Konstantin Chaykin Diana

Omega Globemaster

Eterna Royal KonTiki

H Moser & Cie Endeavour Perpetual Calendar

Citizen Eco-Drive Divers

Monday, March 23, 2015

#Baselword2015 Wrap up - Part 1 - Rolex Oyster Perpetual

Given the multitudes of literal elbowing in trying to get the most blog/instagram/twitter coverage going on for #Baselworld2015 we here at tarts thought we'd sit this one out, sift through the masses of releases and cherry pick for you, our dear readers what we feel were the best of the show. For worst of show, we won't be dignifying any of those releases with even a mention. Nup. They don't deserve it. Having said that, to be honest, coverage on all the various platforms interwebbing media was truly disappointing. The show isn't just about Rolex, Patek and Omega, as the coverage would have led you to believe. There are people out there who don't give a rat's about who's copying who when it comes to certain flight related watch styling nor do they care if you release the same thing in 10 different colours.

There are some brands out there doing things out of the box, offering interesting and unexpected designs and watchmaking know-how. And these largely goes unnoticed. Sad, really. For example, the new Fortis Rolf Sachs. Quirky fun watch. Not much coverage. A funky Calvin Klein direct read. Again, not much interest. (probably cuz of the brand...) If you have a look at the list of exhibitors you'll realise just how many brands gets next to no coverage. (I suppose there's kinda lack of interst on many of these brands, but still...)

Anyhoo, rant out of the way let's get going with our selection of what we think are the "best of" show. These are in no particular order. Ok, in order of what comes to mind.

Disclaimer: this whole series of posts on #Baselworld2015 wrap up is heavily subjective. They are also all purely based on images only since none of the Tarts team are able to be in Switzerland in person (lack of time, finance and generally all round good planning). Tarts is not compensated in any way, shape or form by any brands for featuring these watches and of course, we hope that this will change soon. HINT. HINT.

Let me put my foot in my mouth and start off with a Rolex. Normally, I'm quite "meh" when it comes to Rolex watches. It's like an LV bag or a Mercedes. Everyone has one and yet everyone wants one. Yes I'm in that group. I want a Rolex, a LV messenger bag and I really like the Merc GLA45, amongst others. No, the pick of the Rolex from this year isn't the Yachtmaster with the "special" rubber strap nor the Day-date with the fancy new movement. No, the pick of the Rolex is the base model, the one they used to call the Air-King (long live the King). It's now just the Oyster Perpetual.

The Oyster Perpetual has always been a clean looking watch. The difference this year is that they've finally made one in my size- 39mm, in a gorgeous slate grey dial (for some unknown reason this colour tends to be used by many brands as a special limited edition colour, most often in combo with a white gold case). Dial is well balanced (no date) and overall proportion is spot on. So here's a simple, elegant watch, in steel with slate grey dial, on bracelet, with an in-house movement and unbeatable Rolex quality for CHF5,400. That's around $7k Aussie rubles. That is not bad at all! And Rolex will make a boatload of these as it's a bread and butter model, so I don't need to step on people to get one.

And the kicker? JUST 4 LINES OF TEXT ON THE WHOLE DIAL. (including the brand name, but excluding "swiss made").

Friday, January 30, 2015

Top 7 Thinnest Ultra Thin Mechanical Watches

It looks like ultra thin is still very much in vogue, and given our love of listicles these days, we thought we'd do one based on ultra thin watches. However, we're not going to be lazy like some websites out there and just give you a random selection of so-called ultra thin watches just because they looked thin or might have the terms "ultra" and "thin" in the name of the watch. No. The Tarts readers expect more. Hence the reason why even though we really wanted to do a top 10, we couldn't find 10 watches that fit the below criteria.

So what was our criteria for choosing the ultra thin watches for this list? Well, they all have to be powered by a mechanical movement, be Swiss or German made, and are simple, time only watches with the only complication being that it's thin. How thin is thin, you ask? we needed to draw the line somewhere, so we chose 6mm as a limit for the thickness of the watch case. Granted, had we raised it to 7mm, we might have found 10 watches for a proper top 10 list, but then that's just being too all-inclusive isn't it?? and 7mm?? That's not ultra thin.

Here we go, starting from the *ahem* thickest:

A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin - 5.9mm

The "thickest" watch on this list is also the only watch from Germany.

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim - 5.8mm

The only watch on the list that uses an outsourced, albeit very reliable movement, and the only piece with a pricing in the four figures. Low four figures, mind you... (the steel version that is. below image is obviously of the gold variety...)

Breguet Classique ultra thin - 5.4mm

Probably the most classical looking watch of the bunch. Featuring prominent Breguet design cues such as the hands and the guilloche dial

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo - 5.0mm

The only watch on this list featuring a running seconds hand. YOu gotta give them that. It takes up additional height to have an extra subdial with an additional hand. This is also the only watch that features a complex case (ie, not round).

Vacheron Constantin Historique 1955 - 4.1mm

It wasn't that long ago this Vacheron held the title for the thinnest mechanical watch in the world. How quickly times change and records tumble!

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin 1907 - 4.05mm

To show how quickly things change, JLC barely held the title for the thinnest mechanical watch (less than a year).

Piaget Altiplano 900P 3.65mm

Still the thinnest at the moment. I know I wondered whether it was possible to get any thinner. I didn't think it was. However, sources close to the watch industry suggests this record may be broken sooner than we think...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

SIHH 2015: Ralph Lauren Sporting Automotive Skeleton

OK... I think I'm in the minority here. But I quite like the new Ralph Lauren watches with the wooden bezel. Amboyna burl wood to be precise. It feels like they have finally found their "calling" and designing watches inspired by Mr Lauren's expansive vintage car collection. I believe this whole wooden thing is inspired by the dashboard of his 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe.

Granted, the massive RL initials logo is a bit of an amateurish attempt at an LV style logo and it doesn't work. (I'd much rather the simpler Ralph Lauren spelt out) I'm pretty sure I have a polo short from RL where the RL isn't overlapping. Even that was better. But having said that it is nice to have some sort of a logo at 12:00. Actually, scratch that. I'd rather a massive Arabic numeral 12 (like the khaki range). See that oversized 12 could almost become a design feature, along with the wooden bezel and the 6 bezel screws. and the designer lugs.

The overall look (I can't quite say feel since I'm only basing my very subjective judgement from images) is very clean and I like the colorway. It's powered by a lovely movement from IWC, just a shame that most of the target market of said watch won't care. It's a pleasant surprise from Ralph Lauren. Now I just need to find out if people actually bought these watches...

Friday, January 23, 2015

SIHH 2015: Cle de Cartier

The Cle de Cartier (Cle - French for key) is one of the nicest, cleanest designs I've seen from Cartier since the Santos Dumont. I believe the jury is still out of the use of the "key" rather than the "Crown" but given their whole line is named after said key, I'm sure their R&D department has thoroughly tested the idea to make sure it works in everyday situations. But then again, not everyone wears a different watch everyday and given that it's an automatic, I suppose you set it once and off you go. no need to touch the key again till the shorter months where you'll need it to advance the date. Plus, I'm sure the target market for this watch will have some sort of watch winder at home. whether that be an actual mechanical devise or someone you pay to wind the watch for ya.

I like these oval shaped cases. A nice through back to the sixties and seventies where these sort of cases were all the rage. Omega (Constellation, Seamaster) and IWC (Yacht Club) comes to mind immediately. It's a shape that's worked extremely well in the past I don't see why it won't work again today. It's distinctively Cartier, thanks to the Roman numeral hour markers and the blue sapphire used on the crown, sorry, key. Perfectly balanced and retains the classic Cartier elegance and design elements that we are so accustomed to.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

SIHH 2015: A Tale Of 2 Ultra Thin Chronos

So it looks like thin is still very much in vogue this year, with 2 companies both coming out with a thinnest of sorts. Piaget with their thinnest hand-wound flyback chronograph and Vacheron with the thinnest automatic split-second chronograph.

Here are the specs before we move on:

Piaget Calibre 883P:

Movement Height: 4.65mm
Watch Height: 8.24mm
Manually wound, 50 Hour power reserve

Vacheron Calibre 3500:

Movement Height: 5.20mm
Watch Height: 8.40mm
Automatic (peripheral oscillating weight), 51 Hour power reserve

That's pretty close, not much in it, although I think Vacheron managed to cram more into a similar watch height. (extra hand and automatic winding)

Hey no matter which way you cut it, it's damn thin. this is about half the height of your average Valjoux 7750 powered chronograph. Actually most 3 handed watch on the market are thicker than this pair. If you think about it, that's pretty impressive engineering and craftsmanship.