Monday, March 12, 2012

Top Gear Wrist Watching Season 18 Ep.4

And… for episode four we continue our focus on James May's wrist. Well ... the other two need to step up their watch game if they want to be featured more prominantly in the Tarts blog.  It's actually a very special episode today, and for once we'll actually look at something that's NOT on the wrist, but more about that later.

James May's choice of watches seem to match his wardrobe...

May continues to impress with his wrist presence and it seems like he's a bit of a vintage buff as well, although he's never shown off his vintage collection till now (at least on Top Gear). I suppose they match his wardrobe…

So we all know that Jeremy's Seamaster never seems to leave his wrist these days, but he's not the only one out of the trio that sports a Seamaster. May also has a Seamaster. Just not as we know it. 


James May with the Omega Seamaster Chrono-Quartz

As I write this I find myself contemplating the average age of the Top Gear viewer. Given the merchandising efforts from them I've seen so far, it might appear that many of the target audience could in fact be quite young. In which case, a good many viewers of said program will have never ever seen anything like what May has on his wrist. Except … perhaps fromsome really dodgy recent efforts from Diesel and Police watches. No. I will not dignify them with an image. There's always THIS.

Now if you want a proper analogue/ digital watch with street cred, there are two ways to go about it. You either get a Casio G-Shock or you can go the vintage route. These were all the rage back in the '70s when the quartz crisis hit, and the Swiss watchmakers were trying to hold their ground against a Japanese onslaught. I think it was almost a case of "if you can't beat them, join them". So here we are - an Omega Seamaster Chrono-Quartz.

The Omega Seamaster Chrono-Quartz - image courtesy of Antiquorum. Amazing to see that "quartz" is actually a selling point back in those days- seeing how it's placed so prominently on the watch face... Even more prominently than the brand!

According to our good friends over at Hodinkee it's the 1st anadigi watch and they also talk at length about the identity crisis of the Seamaster name, but I think many brands, Swiss ones in particular, went through the same in that period. Some simply ceased to exist cuz they can't make up their mind about who they are… but that's another story for another time. I won't go into too much detail about the watch as you can read it all over at Hodinkee. But identity crisis or not, there are some gems to be had from this period and this is definitely one of them. This watch was actually designed for the Montreal olympic games in 1976.

It's a chunky watch with a chunky bracelet (in keeping with the sport styling of the day) and it has plenty of wrist presence. It's a well balanced watch and sits on the wrist nicely, due to its 'widescreen' design. It's also one of the very few quartz watches that commands quite a bit of a premium in the secondhand market.

There's nothing on Clarkson or Hammond this time round, but we did get a close look at the wrist of Brian Johnson, the lead singer of AC/DC ,who was a 'guest' of sorts on this week's episode. What we see is a fairly typical rock star/ celeb wrist wear - the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph of some description. There have been so many limited editions made of this watch that I think even AP's lost count…

Audemar Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chrono on Brian Johnson's wrist

Now, for something quite different…

1928 Bentley

This, according to James May, is a 1928 Le Mans body Bentley something or other, and back in those days, Jaeger (of Jaeger-LeCoultre) makes the dashboard instruments for many car brands, including Bentley, MG and Bamford & Martin (the latter would later on become Aston Martin, with whom Jaeger-LeCoultre has a modern day partnership, producing watches inspired by Aston Martin styling in their AMVOX range, and car key - in the form of the AMVOX 2 Transponder).

Jaeger dashboard instruments - Modern day Bentleys had to make do with Breitling clocks and "Breitling for Bentley" watches

Car key you say? well.. not quite. it doesn't start the car … yet, but I reckon James Bond would be better off with one of these on his wrist than that other brand... He can 'find' where his Aston Martin is in a sea of 'similar looking' cars in the car park, and open the doors to jump in for a quick getaway all by pressing on the crystal (it works in a similar way to remote car keys).

The Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX 2 DB9 Transponder

Let's hope we'll be able to talk about Clarkson or Hammond's wrists next time, and don't forget that all our other Top Gear watch spotting posts can be found by selecting the 'Top Gear' tag below…


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