Tag Archives: seiko

How the Japanese do a Luxury Dive Watch: Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Professional 600m Diver

 

In addition to the 5s, Seiko is famous for one other category – Diver’s watches. Armed (no pun intended) with catchy names like Samurai, Turtle or SKX007, Seiko Divers are not only icons but they also serve an under-served niche market for affordable, well built, divers’ watches. But when the company decides to take a more luxurious, precise and artisanal approach in that genre, what is birthed is a saturation diving watch which not only meets the requirements for reliability but also an approach to aesthetics that borders perfection.

How the Japanese do a Luxury Dive Watch: Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Professional 600m Diver

Saturation diving, defined with a depth of 600 metres, is the raison d’etre for Grand Seiko’s first professional diver’s watch. Constructed with a titanium case, resistant against magnetism and equipped with a high beat movement with 55 hour run time, the Grand Seiko Hi Beat Diver is a watch which not only exceeds the standards required for saturation diving but also adds aesthetic harmony in form to already laudable functions.

The Hi Beat Diver is bequeathed with the sort of details one usually finds in the Swiss indie counterparts – a sharp, angular polyhedron case with mirrored facets and chamfered edges embellished with Seiko’s vaunted Zaratsu polishing – hallmarks of Grand Seiko’s attention to detail lavished on what otherwise might be another perfunctory tool watch. To be clear, they’re not small watches, they might be decorated like your dress watches but they’re still a sizeable 46.9 mm and 17mm thick, that said, grade 5 titanium with a combination of brushed and polished finishes on a valve-free helium resistant case tends to lead one to the misunderstanding that this beauty should see the depths (or knocks) of serious diving.

 

In fact, the Hi-Beat 36000 Professional 600m Diver’s SBGH255 / SBGH257 watches may look like Clark Kent but they’re really a purpose built super-dive watch with very functional features like a uni-directional bezel made with supreme operability in mind thanks to the non-slip knurled finish with luminous ten second interval markers for improved legibility – that all this functionality looks elegant is icing on the watch.

The textured dial of the 600m diving Grand Seiko is made of pure iron, giving it the added benefit of magnetic shielding but redirecting the fields across and around the “cage” thus, it is a-magnetic rather than anti-magnetic, delivering a resistance of 16,000 A/m. High functionality is joined with an added boon of wear-ability when the bracelet is expressly designed for diving with an innovative sliding extension device to accommodate pressure changes.

The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat diver with calibre 9s85 beating within is fully made and tested at the Shizuku-Ishi Watch Studio.

Check out this and other new watch launches in the upcoming issue of World of Watches

Happy National Day Singapore: The simple elegance of Singapore’s First Prime Minister, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, rocking a 3 button suit jacket but expertly buttoning only the second one, accessorised with pocket square during a visit to Hong Kong.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew, rocking a 3 button suit jacket but expertly buttoning only the second one, accessorised with pocket square during a visit to Hong Kong.

Perhaps it is poignant that on this, Singapore’s 52nd national day or more accurately, our independence day celebrating our departure from the Malaysian Federated states that we remember the many times the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew showed the world how to look dapper in a well-tailored suit, as he was laying the groundwork for our small nation state to punch above its own weight. An intellectual behemoth, he has hobnobbed with Heads of State and Foreign Dignitaries with panache, style and wit, as a result, Lee is recognised by many (including Henry Kissinger) to be an enlightened statesman.

From the Richard Nixon archives, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew in a suit. Notice how it is not "boxy" like most other modern politicians? Again, note the pocket square, puff fold no less.

From the Richard Nixon archives, Mr Lee Kuan Yew in a suit. Notice how it is not “boxy” like most other modern politicians? Again, note the pocket square, puff fold no less.

That said, some aspects of Singapore’s history might have been injected with some hyperbole — chiefly that the country was a fishing village when we gained independence, there is little contention that Singapore with its incredible wealth (in part thanks to Dutch economist – Albert Winsemius and Singapore’s long-time economic advisor from 1961 to 1984 who spearheaded the formulation of Singapore’s national economic development strategy including our public housing policy and our attractiveness to multinational corporations) has grown from 581.5 km² in the 1960s to 723.2 km² today by reclaiming land with earth obtained from its own hills and neighbouring countries. The other point not in question, was how the Cambridge educated lawyer was impeccably dressed through his life as a strapping young man; naturally, this effortless classic style for a political leader who had to joust on the international stage to get Singapore her just dues and serve as her voice in a heavily anglicised and Westernised world succeeded in getting this little red dot recognised as a state favourable to conglomerate investment and not just some “Chinaman’s backwater banana republic”.

Left: Lee, aged 5, dapper as heck already (look at his pocket square game). Right: Lee with the Mrs. to be in Cambridge. Perfectly layered with wool vest and wide lapel blazer

Left: Lee, aged 5, dapper as heck already (look at his pocket square game). Right: Lee with the Mrs. to be in Cambridge. Perfectly layered with wool vest and wide lapel blazer. (incidentally, the original photo which made this author realise just how stylish he was)

The simple elegance of Singapore’s First Prime Minister, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew

As a personal philosophy, Mr Lee Kuan Yew embraced a spartan lifestyle of simplicity during his political life. His tenure as Singapore’s first Prime Minister also meant that he had to embody the kind of clean living he espoused and held his cabinet members to. His idea was that as Templars of Singapore’s nationhood and identity, he (and his parliamentarians) had to serve as a beacon and exemplar for Singaporeans to follow.

While he might be amused at appearing within these pages of a luxury lifestyle publication, there’s no doubt as to whether Mr Lee believed in quality beyond reproach – in other words, the essence of luxury (before it became over-blown and over-hyped). Thus, we explore the very accoutrements and trappings which supported the country’s first Prime Minister in his quest to put Singapore on the global map.

A representation (not the actual Seiko watches made there) - what was made at Marsailing factory was the Seiko 5 and later the Seiko quartz digital with analogue display

A representation (not the actual Seiko watches made there) – what was made at Marsailing factory was the Seiko 5 and later the Seiko quartz digital with analogue display

Mr Lee’s love for Seiko

“Young men and women who joined Singapore Time (Pte.) Ltd. must show that they could achieve this international level of competence. The Singapore worker must prove that he was as good as Seiko workers in Japan” – Mr. Lee Kuan Yew on the importance of Seiko in Singapore

Most might not recognise Seiko watches as a luxury. Heck, most might not even know that the humble Seiko 5 watch is of completely in-house origin from its movement parts to case to the bracelet. Back in 1976, Mr Lee had invited Seiko’s the Managing Director Ichio Hattori to establish Singapore Time Pte. a factory to make wrist watches on Marsiling drive in Woodlands new town – an example of Singapore’s social and economic development – 90 workers were trained in Daini-Sekiosha in Japan while the remaining Singaporean workforce trained under the returning specialists, among the specialists was Kok Kham Seng, the Division Manager for Seiko Total Quality Management department:

This was Seiko’s first factory outside of Japan and it was also equipped with the latest technology of the period – Singapore Time (eventually Seiko Instruments) was going to be a fully integrated factory from materials to finished products.

Underscoring the importance of Japanese enterprises in Singapore, a Ministry Press Release states that in 2006, some 1,600 Japanese companies located in Singapore invested between S$1.2 billion and S$1.8 billion annually in Fixed Asset Investment in the last 8 years making  Japan one of the top 3 foreign investors in Singapore.

“When I was about to complete my National Service, I saw a notice posted inside the camp advertising an apprenticeship with Seiko. They wanted to start a company here and needed technicians. Seiko was a big name at the time (1970s) and so I was interested.” – Kok Kham Seng, Seiko Total Quality Management Division Manager

Thus, the historic relationship has brought to attention some of Mr Lee’s watches including an 18K gold Seiko Pocket watch given to him by Hattori to commemorate the opening of the Seiko plant (the watch eventually sold at Sotheby’s Auction for S$65,000) including a pair of Seiko watches with the inscription “In memory of Ichrio Hattori, 26 May 1987” for him and his wife.

Left: Mr. Lee Kuan Yew's 1953 Rolex Oyster Perpetual. Right: Close up of a pristine version of that same vintage model

Left: Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s 1953 Rolex Oyster Perpetual. Right: Close up of a pristine version of that same vintage model

Mr Lee’s 1953 Rolex Perpetual

Gifted to him on 11 April 1953 by members of the Singapore Union of Postal and Telecommunications Workers, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s 1953 Rolex Oyster Perpetual is probably going to be one of the most anticipated watch auctions (given its provenance) should the National Museum ever consider (likely never) putting it up for auction. It was a gift celebrating Lee’s victory where he successfully represented the union during a wage dispute. Over 1000 clerks received 28 months’ back pay and they all contributed to the purchase of the watch.

1953 almost marked the year that Rolex’s professional collection was born – the Rolex Oyster Professional marked the enduring and robust watches which Rolex eventually came to be known for — the Explorer and the Submariner. The Explorer would go on to be associated with Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s ascent of Everest while the first Submariner would the world’s first timepiece resistant to 100 meters — many consider the vintage Submariner to be an evolution of the original Rolex Oyster Perpetual.

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Mr Lee Kuan Yew, expertly tailored by CYC

According to Straits Times, Mr Lee Kuan Yew had his work shirts tailored at Singapore’s own family-run tailoring business CYC The Custom Shop. According to Ms Fong Loo Fern, the 61-year-old daughter and managing director of the haberdasher, Mrs Lee always came in and made the orders for Mr Lee as he got busier with running the country:

“Mr Lee ordered shirts from us, and we also had pyjamas made for him. His name was usually embroidered on them in full. In the past, he was served by my father who was in charge of sales at the time in the 1960s. I remember my dad was very impressed with him, saying that Lee Kuan Yew was his hero.” – Fong Loo Fern, Managing Director, CYC The Custom Shop

CYC dressed Mr Lee since the first National Day Rally in 1965 and during a 2001 CYC exhibition, Singapore’s first Prime Minister was happy to loan three shirts for the show, among them, that very first shirt tailored by CYC – Lee had been a customer for more than 50 years. CYC is Singapore’s oldest tailor and custom shirt maker.

Mr. Lee with then Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad

Mr Lee with then Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad

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Seiko Think the Earth Wn-1 watch is Totally Covfefe

Founded on 19 February 2001, the Think the Earth Project was a Japanese based non-profit organisation with lofty ideals of encouraging people to think about global issues and also to “leave the Earth a beautiful place for our children”. In pursuit of those objectives, the NGO worked with Seiko to create a wrist-worn reminder of the planet and it eventually came to be known as the Seiko Think the Earth Wn-1; and in this age of Trump, the watch is not only creepily prescient but totally covfefe.

As Trump pulls out of the Paris Accord, the Seiko Think the Earth Wn-1 watch is totally covfefe and prescient.

As Trump pulls out of the Paris Accord, the Seiko Think the Earth Wn-1 watch is totally covfefe and prescient.

Seiko Think the Earth Wn-1 watch is Totally Covfefe

Featuring a 3D rendering of the planet Earth to the scale of 1:580 millionth, the Seiko Think the Earth Wn-1 was aesthetically revolutionary for 2006. Quartz driven, the model of Earth’s northern hemisphere performs a rotation at the same pace as planet Earth, making one full rotation every 24 hours, not only that, it does so mimicking the precise axial rotation – that is to say, the model Earth turns anti-clockwise just like the real one.

As Trump pulls out of the Paris Accord, the out of production Seiko Think the Earth Wn-1 (we found one for sale, details below) is not only totally covfefe but a timely reminder of what’s at stake. There’s one caveat, like many independent watches of today, it’s still not the easiest watch to read. The Seiko Wn-1 Earth watch operates a little counter-intuitively because it follows the true axial rotation of the planet, thus, you’d have to read time anti-clockwise via the small needle marker and this takes some getting used to.

At 45mm. the Seiko Think the Earth Wn-1 has amazing wrist presence, particularly from the side profile.

At 45mm. the Seiko Think the Earth Wn-1 has amazing wrist presence, particularly from the side profile.

That said, there’s an immense pay off for visually-inclined geography geeks, if you can accurately draw an imaginary line from the North Pole of the hemisphere and chart it’s course straight through the city of origin, down to the bezel markings, the Seiko Wn-1 Earth watch will give you time at any city immediately thus performing exceptionally as a world time watch.

That said, what really makes the 45mm Seiko Wn-1 Earth watch especially covfefe  is the unique aesthetic of northern hemisphere under a hardlex glass dome which imbues the watch with head-turning wrist presence, especially when viewed from side profile. The watch displays hours and minutes via the top down view of the planet.

Amazing side profile of the Seiko Think the Earth Wn-1

Amazing side profile of the Seiko Think the Earth Wn-1

Following the Seiko Wn-1 Earth watch is the WN-2, another rare model with updated quartz mechanisms driving the earth module. The new (but also out of stock and out of production) Seiko Wn-2 earth watch has a 3 reducing gears in the drive train that when backed by a new lithium battery, has a 10 year power supply. Both the Wn-1 and Wn-2, come equipped with a “Sophista” black band, a synthetic fabric with exceptional wearing characteristics (chiefly comfort), different from your typical NATO nylon material.

Whether in Wn-1 or Wn-2 configurations, the Seiko Think the Earth watch is a pretty cool piece of engineering – the etched bezel displays clearly mark hours while the bars give you relative indications of minutes; on the Wn-2 version, the bezel is demarcated into day and night halves, making it far easier to read 24 hour time. You can even elect to use the core module as a desk clock by unclipping the central body and installing it into any one of the solid holders packaged within the boxset. This is probably the only world timer watch which gives you the time at all locations of the globe simultaneously. That said, the manual is written in Japanese but this watch is easy to understand conceptually.

From left: The Seiko Think the Earth Wn-1 as separate components. You can assemble the core module into a stand and use it as a desk clock. Right: The Seiko Think the Earth Wn-2 with day-night bezel.

From left: The Seiko Think the Earth Wn-1 as separate components. You can assemble the core module into a stand and use it as a desk clock. Right: The Seiko Think the Earth Wn-2 with day-night bezel.

Technical Specifications of the Seiko WN-1 and WN-2 Earth Watch:

100% Japanese quartz movement by Seiko Japan
Waterproof to 10ATM
Materials: Dome- Hardlex Glass. Core module: stainless steel. Bezel- aluminum. Band- urethane-coated leather
24-hour time
Package includes two bezels (silver and sun/moon) and desktop display case. Note that second bezel on white version is differently styled, and does not display sun/moon
Size: 45 (diameter) x 22.4mm (face depth)

We found a Seiko Think the Earth WN-1 on Facebook for €1300

You can usually find the rare Seiko Think the Earth watches for sale on various watch forums for prices ranging from US$700 to US$1000 for a used model depending on condition but this particular model is in “unworn, new old stock condition”. Look up Patrik Bregy on the Seiko and Grand Seiko Watch Fans facebook group. That said, we make no claims or guarantees as to the authenticity of the watch or the physical condition of it. Luxuo and World of Watches is not liable for any purchase decisions arising from this article.

Review: Credor Fugaku Tourbillon Limited Edition

Grand Seiko is widely recognised as the top echelon of Seiko’s offerings, but for those who are in the know, there is a well-kept secret beyond it: Credor. Timepieces from Credor represent the absolute pinnacle of watchmaking that Seiko has to offer, whether in terms of movement design, production, finishing, and assembly, or the crafts and expertise necessary to produce the rest of the watch. Seiko has, however, only maintained a noticeable presence for this sub-brand in its domestic Japanese market, and put more effort into Grand Seiko for the rest of the world. This looks set to change from 2016, however, with the introduction of the Fugaku Tourbillon Limited Edition.

The Fugaku Tourbillon Limited Edition comes in a limited run of eight pieces and will be sold in Seiko boutiques worldwide. It comes as no surprise then, that Seiko has pulled out all the stops to create a timepiece that is brimming with both technical and artisanal content to give Credor a proper international debut. The watch’s Calibre 6830 movement is based on the ultra-thin Calibre 6800 family, and is Seiko’s first to contain a tourbillon. At just 3.98mm thick, Calibre 6830 is also, according to Seiko, the world’s smallest tourbillon movement by volume.rls1603-05_gbcc999_b-edited

This watch is the most ornate execution of a Credor timepiece yet; past models may have included lavish designs such as skeletonised movements with gold bridges and mainplates, but the Fugaku Tourbillon Limited Edition is clearly on another level with its display of artisanal techniques and materials. The watch depicts a wave motif on both its front and back, based on The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, a Japanese woodblock print first published circa 1830.

The waves are engravings of yellow and white gold here, and vary in thickness from 0.5mm to 1.6mm, which creates depth perception. The tourbillon bridge on the back of the watch also has an engraving of Mt. Fuji (known to the Japanese by another name: Fugaku) to mirror the original print. Lacquering is featured prominently too; note the blue-to-purple gradient from six to 12 o’clock on the dial that mirrors the sky at dawn, as well as the Credor signature executed in gold lacquer. Mother-of-pearl inlays on the dial and case middle contribute yet another texture to the watch.

Finally, the watch has been set with 48 sapphires totalling 3.22 carats. The result is a delightfully varied play with light, from lacquer that looks almost black, to shimmering mother of pearl, to sparkling sapphires, all enhanced by a sense of depth.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 43.1mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes
  • Power Reserve: 37 hours
  • Movement: Manual-winding Seiko Calibre 6830 tourbillon movement with 37-hour power reserve
    Material: 43.1mm in platinum
  • Water Resistant: 30 meters
    Strap: Navy blue crocodile with platinum deployant buckle

This article was first published in World of Watches.

Review: Grand Seiko Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve

The Grand Seiko Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve is the first Grand Seiko watch to be produced by the manufacture’s Micro Artist Studio, located in Shiojiri within central Japan’s Nagano prefecture. Although “Micro Artist Studio” isn’t a misnomer per se, the name is an understatement through and through – the team of specialists there represents the absolute best from Seiko, and are more than capable of going toe-to-toe with the best from Europe, whether in terms of movement assembly/finishing or metiers d’art techniques.

The Micro Artist Studio’s creations run the gamut from the three-hand, time-only Credor Eichi II to the ultra-complicated Credor Spring Drive Minute Repeater. What’s common to these timepieces has always been their impeccable quality both inside and outside, and the new Grand Seiko Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve is no different. From the front, one immediately notices the mirror polish on the platinum case, which was achieved using an adapted zaratsu technique originally used in polishing Japanese blades.

In contrast with it, the dial sports a fine speckled texture that sparkles like freshly fallen snow, a finishing that Seiko calls diamond dust. The usual hallmarks of a Grand Seiko timepiece have been preserved here, from the facetted hour and minute hands, to the seconds hand that is shaped like a tapered lance.Grand-Seiko-Spring-Drive-8-Day-Power-Reserve-caseback

Flip the watch over, and the new 9R01 Spring Drive calibre presents itself, with the power reserve indicator at three o’clock. At 37mm, the movement is rather large, and fills the case properly without the need for spacer rings. Calibre 9R01 uses three barrels connected in parallel to achieve a power reserve of eight days and, as a hybrid Spring Drive movement, is capable of being accurate to +/- 10 seconds a month.

In the 9R01, Seiko has opted to use a single large plate in lieu of individual bridges and cocks. This makes assembling the movement far more challenging, as all the components underneath the plate must fit perfectly. A single plate, however, provides a rigid platform that’s almost like a second mainplate – all the movement parts are thus sandwiched more securely with no play between them.

Although the plate blocks the view into the movement, much can still be seen. Note, for instance, how the outline of the plate from nine to one o’clock has been shaped to resemble Mt. Fuji. Jewel bearings and blued screws aside, the movement plate also has holes that expose the wheels underneath it, all to evoke the lights of the city of Suwa, which is near the Artist Micro Studio’s home.

Specs

Dimensions: 43mm

Functions: Hours, minutes, central seconds, power reserve indicator (caseback)

Power Reserve: 8 Days

Movement: Manual-winding Seiko 9R01 Spring Drive

Case: Platinium

Water Resistance: 100 meters

Strap: Black alligator with platinium deployant buckle

This article was first published in WOW.

Rough Stuff: 3 Watches for Paintball

Some families do it as a bonding exercise, but paintball is really naked, armed combat, without the live ammo. For the white-collar urbanite, that could mean a near lifetime’s worth of knocks and tumbles, compressed within the time slot printed on the receipt. Not just gamers are put through the wringer, the watch too has to stand up to like abuse; noodle-necks need not apply.

Luminox Navy SEAL Colormark Nova

Luminox---Mood-Yellow-EK4199

There are watches engineered to resist hellish environments, and there’s the Luminox that offers this with outstanding dial legibility under all lighting conditions, courtesy of the tritium gas vials on the hands and markers. Luminous paint glows for hours after exposure to light; tritium gas doesn’t stop glowing for around 25 years. Even harder to resist is that Luminox now makes the Colormark Nova in five colors.

Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT SUN049

RLS1503-03_SUN049

Seiko’s Kinetic movement unites many advantages of mechanical and quartz movement – powered by a rotor like an automatic, it has a six-month power reserve, with quartz-watch precision of around 15 seconds’ deviation in a month. And the Prospex Kinetic GMT is the kinetic that Seiko has specifically created for land sports.

Tudor North FlagWOW160126(Character)-015

In terms of design, performance, and price, this is an utterly sensible timepiece from Tudor that has been solidifying its own niche as maker of very sound, tool watches. The North Flag offers everything one needs to know, clearly displayed, including power reserve, in a hardy steel case with steel-ceramic bezel, and a manufacture movement with a 70-hour power reserve.

Story Credits

This story was first published in World of Watches.

16 Ways to Bring Fun to Luxury Watches

It’s time to add some color to your watch collection – luxury doesn’t always have to be understated. Here are 16 watches, in four categories, that our friends at WOW (World of Watches) have curated that will do the trick.

Just a Hint

This is where the adage that less is more holds sway. With the right hue and application, a dash of color is sometimes all that is necessary, whether to demarcate different functions or to highlight specific parts of a watch.

AP-2a

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver: This iteration of the Royal Oak Offshore Diver has a utilitarian slant that reinforces the collection’s tool watch DNA, beginning with a scratch-resistant case and bezel of black ceramic. A matching black dial maintains the serious vibes, while also adding a touch of class with its méga tapisserie guilloché – an Audemars Piguet signature. The crucial parts that divers rely on underwater have been highlighted orange here – the running second hand indicates that the watch is working, while the minute hand and 15-minute section of the inner bezel mark elapsed time underwater. (Price unavailable)

Rado-1a

Rado Hyperchrome Automatic Chronograph Court Collection: Blue-on-black isn’t the best combination for legibility, since the former doesn’t pop on the latter. Rado overcame this limitation on the Hyperchrome Automatic Chronograph Court Collection by finishing the watch’s dial with a subtle sunray texture, thus accentuating the contrast between the two colours. Blue wasn’t chosen frivolously – it represents the hard court surface tennis is played on, just like how its siblings’ orange and green accents mirror clay and grass courts respectively. An ETA 2894-2 chronograph movement drives the watch, encased in a monobloc black ceramic case with stainless steel inserts. ($6,170)

Breitling-2a

Breitling Chronomat 44 Raven: Despite having a black dial encased in Breitling’s “black steel” case, the Chronomat 44 Raven is far from a stealthy watch. That isn’t a concern anyway, since the Raven is a pilot chronograph, which places a far higher premium on legibility. The latter is achieved by rendering the watch’s hands, indexes, bezel markings, and inner flange in bright orange, to make telling the time and using the chronograph a cinch. Of course, due attention has been paid to accuracy – the Raven packs Breitling’s chronometer-grade Calibre 01. ($13,840)

Spread-1a

Raymond Weil Freelancer: This self-winding chronograph maintains the classic, understated styling that’s central to Raymond Weil’s DNA, but asserts its masculine and sporty side with subtle detailing. Note the watch’s industrial look with the screw bolting down the small seconds sub-dial, or the altimeter-esque date window that recalls a flight instrument panel. Red highlights set against a black and steel dial complete the package – both visually and functionally – by distinguishing the chronograph function from the rest of the watch, right down to the tachymeter’s markings. ($4,330)

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Dial It Up

There’s nothing subtle about flooding the dial with a single vivid hue. Watches like these aren’t just easily recognised at a distance – they’re also bold statements that will be visible from across the room. Only the confident need apply.

 

Victorinox I.n.o.x. (pictured above): Built to mark the 130th anniversary of Victorinox, the I.N.O.X. (inox is French for stainless steel) is the timekeeping counterpart to the Swiss Army knives the brand manufactures, and meant to complement it as a “companion for life”. To that end, the watch had to pass a battery of 130 tests, including spending two hours in a washing machine and being driven over by a 64-ton tank. Numerous little details contribute to the watch’s toughness, from the slightly recessed sapphire crystal to having stamped – not applied – indexes. A simple, no-nonsense dial design emphasises the watch’s pedigree, with a blue dial and matching strap complementing this. ($719)

Luminox-2a

Luminox Scott Cassell UVP Special Edition: Luminox’s partnership with Scott Cassell continues with the UVP Special Edition. Part of this watch’s sales proceeds will go towards funding UVP (Undersea Voyager Project), a non-profit organisation founded by Cassell that is dedicated to ocean health. The watch’s 44mm case is made of carbon-reinforced polycarbonate, which imparts an excellent strength-to-weight ratio. A yellow dial with black hands and indices impart legibility, and a matching canvas strap completes the look. ($674.10)

JeanRichard-1a

JeanRichard Aeroscope Arsenal: Arsenal Football Club’s fans can wear their hearts proudly on their wrists by donning the Aeroscope Arsenal, its official watch. The timepiece features the Gunners’ cannon in lieu of a hand for its small seconds sub-dial, and uses the club’s color liberally. Red is an extremely striking colour in and of itself. When paired with black, it pops even more to grab one’s attention. From the honeycombed dial to the tachymeter markings on the bezel to the pushers’ detailing, the color ensures the watch’s prominence. (Price unavailable)

Seiko---high-resa

Seiko Automatic Divers Watch: This is the revised version of the Seiko diver watch commonly (and reverently) referred to as the Orange Monster. The “second generation Orange Monster” updates the original in several areas, including new shark-tooth shaped indexes and a simplified chapter ring. Its 4R36 movement is arguably the biggest change – unlike the original, the new watch can now be both hacked and hand-wound. The new calibre retains Seiko’s bidirectional Magic Lever winding system for efficiency though. Despite the availability of other colorways for the watch, Seiko enthusiasts still consider the Orange Monster a rite of passage. Clearly, not all colors are created equal. ($593.90)

Mix & Match

Playful. Technical. Rebellious. Whimsical. Avant-garde. The design approaches in response to having a larger palette are as varied as the colors themselves. Results too, run the gamut from what are literally art pieces to serious, sporty watches.

Hublot-2a

Hublot Classic Fusion Enamel Britto: Brazilian artist Romero Britto is known for his colorful works melding Cubism, pop art, and graffiti painting. His partnership with Hublot is of little wonder then, given the latter’s penchant for the “art of fusion”. The Classic Fusion Enamel Britto’s dial reproduces one of Britto’s artworks in miniature via grand feu enamel, with the 45mm Classic Fusion case in black ceramic serving as the painting’s frame. This timepiece is a 50-piece limited edition. ($59,700)

Romain-Jeromea

Romain Jerome Pac-Man Level II 40 Colours: The landmark arcade game returns! This homage to Pac-Man comes complete with eight-bit renderings of the game’s titular character, his adversary ghosts, and the strawberry power-ups needed to defeat them. Although the background is a drab monotone, no attention to detail has been spared – the “stage” is three-layered, and each one has either been bead-blasted or straight-grained to contrast with the lacquered sprites mounted on the dial. Housed in a 40mm case, this reference has a limited run of just 20 pieces. ($24,800)

Alexander-Shorokhoff-3a

Alexander Shorokhoff Miss Avantgarde: Words like “edgy” or “free-spirited” cannot adequately describe the Miss Avantgarde, what with its loud and flashy dial that uses color with seemingly no pattern. There is a method to Alexander Shorokhoff’s madness though. The time can actually be read easily as each design element is confined to a specific section of the watch. Colors have also been compartmentalized to avoid an overly busy dial, while the hands are white for maximum contrast. (Price unavailable)

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Graham Chronofighter Oversize GMT: The Chronofighter Oversize GMT has a busy dial with red, blue, and white accents on a background of black. This is mirrored on the watch’s exterior, with its massive 47mm case sporting an equally colorful combination of steel, red gold, and black PVD surfaces. Interestingly, the chronograph, large date, and GMT complications haven’t been sorted by color. Instead, every part of the watch takes on its specific hues for maximum contrast – note how the bezel uses red gold against blue while the main dial has white against black instead. ($16,400)

Material Play

Paints and coatings aren’t the be all and end all for achieving colours that pop in a watch. Materials that are inherently brightly colored can do the same, and lend their unique textures to boot. Stones, glass, and even liquids? Bring them all on.

Spread-4a

HYT H1 Azo Project: No, it isn’t kryptonite. The H1 Azo Project’s florescent case is made of azo polyepoxide, a resin with exceptional scratchproof properties despite being much lighter than comparable materials like steel. Its color is, of course, a perfect match for the liquids encased in the watch’s fluid module – one has been colored a darker shade of green, while the other remains transparent. The hours are then read off the tip of what looks like an advancing column of liquid. ($95,000)

Hermes-2a

Hermès Arceau Millefiori: From straw marquetry to Japanese miniature painting on porcelain, Hermès has incorporated various crafts into watchmaking. The Arceau Millefiori focuses on glass art, specifically millefiori (a thousand flowers), where colored crystal canes are arranged to form various motifs before being sealed with transparent crystal. The technique is adapted here by cutting the finished product into thin slices and using them as dials. ($61,600)

Ulysse-Nardina

Ulysse Nardin Marine Perpetual: At first sight, the blue sapphires on the bezel are immediately apparent, and serve as the highlight of the Marine Perpetual. Upon closer inspection, however, the bezel itself is revealed to be atypical – it’s made of rubber, and the sapphires are set directly into it. The technique, dubbed “soft stone in the sky”, is revolutionary for setting gems in a soft material, and parallels the manufacture’s perpetual calendar movement, which allows forward and backward adjustments via just the crown. ($59,400)

Bell-&-Ross-1a

Bell & Ross BR 03 Red Radar: Bell & Ross’s timepieces are inspired by cockpit instruments but said instruments were never just confined to dials with hands and indexes. One outlier was the BR 03 Red Radar, which took the world by storm upon its release, and remains frequently cited as a milestone product for the brand. In lieu of hands, three black concentric discs are mounted to the movement, with a red mineral glass crystal sealing the watch. The result? A watch that displays the time like a radar screen. ($S$6,700)

 

Story Credits

Text by Jamie Tan

Photography by Raymond Lee

Art direction and styling by Tok Wei Lun

A Watch By Any Name

Watch collecting, like most other technical hobbies, is chock-full of nicknames and acronyms. Often, these nicknames stem from associations with a famous personality or event. Omega’s Speedmaster Professional went to the Moon in 1969 and is now known as the Moon Watch, while vintage Speedmasters which pre-date the Moon landing are thus known as pre-Moon Speedies.

The most avidly collected brands and genres are those with the greatest proliferation of nicknames, so it’s no surprise that the richest brand in the horological lexicon is Rolex, especially of the vintage sort. To the uninitiated, the vernacular of Rolex fanatics is baffling, yet often logical. Tropical dials refer to dials which were originally black, but have since faded to tones ranging from dark brown to light caramel, ostensibly due to the tropical sun.

Many nicknames are thanks to the famous wrists the watches were once spotted on. Paul Newman once wore a particular Rolex Daytona chronograph with a distinctive two-tone dial, giving that Daytona its nickname. A more recent vintage is the Patrizzi Daytona, named after Osvaldo Patrizzi, the Italian auctioneer who discovered, or at least publicised, the fact that a certain number of Rolex Daytona watches from the early 1990s have discolouration on their chronograph sub-dials – the silver rings darken into brown.

Patrizzi’s achievement also reveals another aspect of the Rolex collector dialect. Italian influence in vintage watch collecting, particularly in Rolex, is pronounced because the Italians were amongst the first and most enthusiastic collectors some thirty years ago. So the Rolex Eef. 8171 triple calendar is known as the padellone, which is Italian for large pan, in reference to its case shape.  And then, there is the ovettone (meaning ‘egg’ in English), which is a form of the Rolex Bubbleback, and also the freccione (big arrow), another nickname for the Steve McQueen Explorer which has a large, arrow-shaped GMT hand.

Nicknames are often shared, perhaps a reflection of the limited number of celebrities available for naming. The Rolex Explorer Ref. 1655 is named after Steve McQueen, but so is the square-cased Heuer Monaco chronograph.A Watch By Any Name 2This extends to imaginary characters as well. Amongst the most collectible vintage Rolex watches is the James Bond Submariner, which refers to the watch Sean Connery wore. Rolex was mentioned by Ian Fleming in his novels (he also mentioned Girard-Perregaux) and also used in the early films. But Omega has been a title sponsor for the super spy’s films since Pierce Brosnan, and now makes a limited edition for each Bond flick. However, Omega’s watches have also been decorated with nicknames of their own. The Constellation ‘Pie Pan’, for instance, caught on like wildfire when it was coined. Referring to the design of the dial, which resembles old-school pie-baking apparatus, it is widely loved for the distinctive shape. In fact, vintage Omega Constellations are also called Connies by watch aficionados. Amusingly, owners of the Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation also call their planes Connies. So you’ll want to be sure of the context of any conversation before jumping to announce you’ve got a Connie on the wrist.

And then there are the Genta creations of the 1970s: the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Patek Philippe Nautilus and IWC Ingenieur SL. All three were designed by Gerald Genta, the most influential watch designer of his day. They share similar wide and flat profiles, giving rise to the nickname Jumbo, which applies to all three.

But verbal creativity in watch collecting extends even to the most affordable end of the spectrum. Modern Seiko timepieces, especially dive watches, have a curious abundance of nicknames. There exist the Monster, Sumo, Samurai, Stargate, Starfish and the even Tuna (with the prefixes Baby, Darth and Gold). Though these are unofficial monikers, they have stuck fast. In fact, Seiko itself uses the Monster appellation for a series of limited editions made for the Thai market, which is an uncommon instance of a watch brand actually adopting an informal nickname. But why not, really? As the Italians always say, when you’ve got a nickname, it means they really love you.

The Beginner’s Guide To The Seiko 5

Seiko’s origins lie not in clock or watch manufacturing. Instead, the company’s founder, Kintaro Hattori, set up shop in Tokyo’s Ginza district in 1881 selling clocks imported from Europe.

Until the Meiji Restoration, Japan ran on traditional Japanese time, based on the hours of sunrise and sunset, measured with clocks known as wadokei. In the years following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the country underwent a tremendous transformation. Two specific events had a major impact on watchmaking in Japan: the adoption of the Gregorian calendar and rapid industrialisation. This period marked the beginning of domestic clock production in Japan. In 1892, Hattori set up Seikosha Co., Ltd primarily to manufacture wall clocks, and then included pocket watches three years later.

Seiko 5

Seiko’s first wristwatch, the tiny Laurel, only arrived in 1913, and it was only 50 years later that the company unveiled, arguably, the most significant mechanical watch in its history, the Seiko 5. Conceived in 1963 as a basic, affordable mechanical timepiece for the youth of the 1960s, it was originally named the Sportsmatic 5, designed to be functional, reliable and robust. A year after its launch, the Seiko 5 got a big boost from Seiko’s role as the official timekeeper of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. Together with the other products of the post-war Japanese manufacturing boom, like the Sony television and Toyota automobile, the Seiko 5 set out to conquer the world. Since then, untold millions have been sold. In fact, a mere four years after its introduction, production of the Seiko 5 had already crossed the five million mark.

The Seiko 5 got its name from the five key features which define it: Automatic winding, day and date displayed in a single window, water resistance, a recessed crown at four o’clock, and a durable case and bracelet.

Seiko 5

Seiko invented the Magic Lever automatic winding mechanism in 1959. This simple yet efficient winding system underpins not only the Seiko 5, but nearly all automatic Seiko watches. Essentially a V-shaped lever that winds the barrel regardless of the direction in which the rotor spins, the Magic Lever has proven popular on the other side of the world as well because it is an elegant yet effective solution. Leading brands like Cartier, Montblanc, Panerai and IWC are some of the luxury Swiss marques which use a similar mechanism.

This efficient winding mechanism is responsible for another key characteristic of the Seiko 5, the small crown at four o’clock. Because the Magic Lever is so good at what it does, there was little need for manual winding. Hence the original Seiko 5 movements had no hand winding capability, combined with an unobtrusive crown.

Seiko 5

But Seiko had since adapted to modern tastes, which dictate that hand winding option is preferred by the consumers. Hence, the latest generation of Seiko 5 movements, the 4R series, can all be wound by hand, although they still use the Magic Lever winding mechanism. Even though some modern pieces have crowns repositioned at three o’clock, the other elements of the Seiko 5 are still going strong. All still have a day and date feature, a minimum of three bar water resistance (equivalent to 30m), with most presented with a bracelet.

Half a century after its introduction, the Seiko 5 not only retains its five original characteristics, but also an informal sixth quality – affordability. Starting at around a hundred dollars and climbing to about $500 for high-end models, the Seiko 5 is probably the most affordable and durable mechanical timepiece in the world.

  

Rolex Submariner Roger Moore

Rolex, Omega and Seiko – James Bond’s timepieces

Rolex Submariner Roger Moore

Being on her Majesty’s secret service with a license to kill requires more than a penchant for martinis, a way with women and an ability to outsmart super villains.

It also requires being sharply dressed and wearing a very stylish watch. The best of James Bond’s timepieces are detailed below.
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seiko Active Matrix EPD watch

Watchmaker finds new way to display time

seiko Active Matrix EPD watch

Seiko Watch Corp. has developed a revolutionary new display system that it has incorporated into the world’s first Active Matrix EPD watch.

Three models are being released, each benefiting from detailed graphics and a clear, high-resolution screen that looks as clear as a top-end television screen.

With a resolution of 300 dpi and the ability to be seen at very oblique angles, the new watch “demonstrates the future of digital time,” the company said in a statement.
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