Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Baselworld 2015 Wrap Up Part 4 - Seiko Marine Master 1000

Style is a very subjective exercise and the watch world is by no means immune to it. Especially if it involves any sort of alterations to a much-loved style of the past or, a borrowing of styling cues across brands, the online/offline watch community will be vocal in expressing their disdain and not be shy about it. One of the many watches from this year's Baselworld subjected to such heated debate is the Seiko MarineMaster 1000 limited edition. (And you thought I was going to talk about THAT pilot watch...)

Being extremely subjective, I like it. Even that weird part attaching the bracelet to the case. I'm sure it'll sit ok on the wrist. The only thing I'm struggling with (and no it's not the thickness) is the price. It's around USD6800. I think the latent brand/watch snob in me is resurfacing. I can appreciate Grand Seikos, but I cannot bring myself to buy one at their prices, even if their reliability will most likely surpass their Swiss/German equivalent. And this is not even a Grand! It's a humble regular Seiko. (Yes I get that the movement is out of a Grand Seiko, and it's the only high-beat movement fitted to a Seiko).

On paper, the specs are simply impressive. It's a high beat (36000 VPH) automatic movement caliber 8L55 (optimised and adapted for use in a diver's watch). Titanium case at a massive 48.2mm diametre, mated to a titanium bracelet, both of which has a hard coating applied, making it more scratch resistant. The case is monocoque, made of one piece of titanium with no case back. It's close to 20mm thick but that's kind of required to pass the 1000m water resistant test. The crystal is sapphire and has an anti-fog coating. On top of that it's anti-magetic to 16,000A/M. There is nothing in the equivalent Swiss world that even comes close to the specs for the price. But this is like comparing a Hyundai Genesis to a Merc E Class isn't it?

This is the ultimate sleeper though. From the outside very few people would know the pedigree of the watch. Even less would give it a second glance. This is even more sleeper than a Patek Calatrava. The sleeper of the sports watch world. Well, as much as sleeper as a 48mm/20mm watch can be, that is.

Limited Edition of 700 Pieces

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Baselworld 2015 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

Baselworld 2015 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

Baselworld 2015 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").