luxury brands

The new TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Tourbillon Nanograph is a lot of buzzwords in a beautiful package

Posted by | carrera, chronograph, Clocks, Culture, Gadgets, luxury brands, tag heuer, TC, time, tourbillon, watches | No Comments

Almost every word in the name of TAG Heuer’s new watch – the Carrera Calibre Heuer 02T Tourbillon Nanograph – is important. Carrera connects it to TAG’s long history of chronographs while Calibre suggests a handmade watch made with some technical prowess. Tourbillon means you can expect this thing to cost more than a car (about $25,000 when it goes on sale) and Nanograph suggests that this thing is doing something quite unique. And it is.

TAG Heuer loves experimenting with new materials and the Nanograph features a new hairspring design that is unique to TAG. The hairspring, which is made of carbon-composite, is lightweight and unaffected by gravity or shock. It also offers “perfect concentric oscillations” and is completely antimagnetic. Couple that with the rotating tourbillon and the suggestion is that this watch will remain accurate under all sorts of pressure.

Further, rest of the movement includes carbon fiber and aluminum which reduces the effects of temperature and looks pretty darn cool. It doesn’t do much – it basically shows elapsed time – but it does it in a decidedly sexy way.

“This new interpretation of the TAG Heuer Carrera with its advanced in-house technology underscores our legacy in achieving watchmaking excellence and proves that we remain true to our values of performance, disruption and avant-garde,” said TAG CEO Stéphane Bianchi.

It is quite fascinating to note the range materials that went into this little mechanical marvel are surprisingly new. Not many manufacturers are using carbon fiber in this way and the fact that it’s going into a chronograph mechanical watch for less than $100,000 is surprising. Now you just have to convince yourself to spend $25,000 on a watch.

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The Tissot Seastar 1000 is a low-cost and high-quality Swiss diver

Posted by | Bank, Clothing, Culture, Diver, eta, Fashion, Gadgets, luxury brands, omega watches, seastar, seiko, swatch, swatch group, tag heuer, TC, watches | No Comments

In the pantheon of watches there are a few that stand out. Looking for your first automatic watch? Pick up a Seiko Orange Monster. Looking for a piece with a little history? The Omega Speedmaster is your man. Looking for an entry-level Swiss diver that won’t break the bank? Tissot’s Seastar has always had you covered.

The latest version of the Seastar is an interesting catch. A few years ago – circa 2010 – the pieces were all black with bold hands and a more staid case style. Now Tissot, a Swatch Group brand, has turned the Seastar into a chunkier diver with massive bar hands and case that looks like a steel sandwich.

The $695 Seastar 1000 contains a Powermatic 80/ETA C07.111 movement with an eighty hour power reserve which means the watch contains a massive mainspring that keeps things going for most of three days without winding. The Seastar is also water resistant to 1000 feet thanks to a huge screw down crown and thick casing. The new model has an exhibition back where you can see the rotor spinning over and balance wheel. The watch also has a ceramic bezel, a fairly top-of-the-line feature in an entry level watch.

Tissot has a long and interesting history. Best known for their high-tech T-Touch watches which had touchable crystals, allowing you to activate a compass, barometer, or altimeter with a single tap, the mechanical pieces have always seemed like an afterthought. The company also produces the classic Tissot Le Locle as well as a chronograph that I absolutely loved, the T-Navigator, but that has been discontinued. The Seastar, then, is one of the few mechanical pieces they sell and at sub-$1,000 prices you’re basically getting a Swiss watch with solid power reserve and great looks.

Watch folks I’ve talked to over the past few months see a distinct upturn in the Swiss watch market. Their belief that the Apple Watch is driving sales of mechanical watches seems to be coming true, even if it means cheaper fashion watches are being decimated. Tissot sits in that sweet spot between luxury and fashion, a spot that also contains Tag Heuer and Longines. Ultimately this is an entry level watch for the beginning collector but it’s a beautiful and beefy piece and worth a look.

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Grand Seiko is an homage to watchmaking’s past

Posted by | Culture, Gadgets, luxury brands, rolex, seiko, TC, time, watches | No Comments

The 1960s were a beautiful time for watches. Horology was in its prime and the great names we know and love today – Rolex, Omega, Cartier – were just one of many watchmakers churning out commodity products to a world that needed to tell the time. Their watches – simple, elegant, and mechanically complex – were the ultimate in mechanical efficiency and design and no one did it quite as well as Seiko. This mechanical golden age ended in the late 1970s with the rise of the quartz watch but Seiko is resurrecting it with their Grand Seiko line of luxury pieces.

Grand Seiko is special for a few reasons. First, it’s Seiko’s haute horlogerie skunkworks, allowing the company to experiment with all the fancy materials and techniques that Swiss watchmakers have worked with for years. The watches are made of precious metals and feature Seiko Hi-Beat movements. These watches “vibrate” 36,000 times an hour or ten times a second. This means that the balance wheel inside the watch is moving back and forth far faster than, say, an Omega Co-Axial 8500/1 series which is clocked at 25,200 vibrations per hour. What this means in practice is that the seconds hand moves with an almost uncanny smoothness.

The rest of the watch I tested, the euphoniously-named SBGH263G, is based on a piece from 1968 that came from Seiko’s mechanical hey-day. The $6,200 watch has a 39mm case and, according to Seiko, is style for maximum elegance. They write:

The dial has elegant and easy-to-see Arabic numeral for the hour mark. The concept color “Shironeri” is a reflection of Japanese tradition. The color and texture of the dial come from the glossy white silk of the outfit worn by the bride in a Japanese wedding. It symbolizes purity and innocence.

This watch is a formal piece for wearing, presumably, to your own wedding. That said, it’s also very reminiscent of 1960s style watches. The size, case shape, and polished hands and numerals all hearken back to a simpler time in watchmaking when everything didn’t have to look like a robot’s goiter or a pie plate.

It is quite small and if you’re used to Panerais or Nixons you’ll definitely notice a grandpa vibe about this piece. Because it is not very complex – that is it does not have any real complications like a stopwatch – it is very pricey. However, knowing Grand Seiko’s dedication to a very lost art of non-Swiss horology, it’s well worth a look.

I’ve been following Grand Seiko for years now and the quality and care the company has been putting into these watches is palpable. This watch is no commodity product. The case is polished to a high sheen and everything – from the screws to the beautiful domed sapphire crystal – is put together with great care. Seiko also makes lower end pieces – my favorite is the Orange Monster – but this is far above that in terms of build quality and price.

Pieces like this Grand Seiko remind us that, before Apple Watches and Fitbits, there was an entire universe of truly striking timepieces made for the absolutely sole purpose of telling the time. I love pieces like this one because they are no frills and yet they are full of frills. The watch is as simple as can be – three hands and a date window without any lume or extraneous buttons – and yet it shows amazing technical skill. It is expensive but this is a handmade watch by a storied manufacturer and it’s well worth the price of admission if you’re a lover of the elegantly antiquated.

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LIV is Kickstarting a beefy and bold chronograph for race lovers

Posted by | Android, chronograph, Clothing, Diver, Fashion, Gadgets, luxury brands, omega watches, TC, Timers, watches | No Comments

LIV Watches is a crowdfunding darling with a number of Kickstarted watches under its belt. Now it’s offering a unique set of watches to backers, including the Liv Genesis GX-AC, an automatic chronograph with date. The watch runs a Sellita Caliber SW500, visible through the see-through back, and features a screw down crown and massive metal pushers.

The company prides itself on the size of its watches and this piece is no exception. The GX-AC isn’t wildly big – at 46mm it’s just a bit bigger than most Android Wear watches – and it fits nicely thanks to a rounded rubber band that hugs the top and bottom of the case. There is a small running seconds hand at nine-o’clock and registers for minutes and hours at noon and six.

If you’ve seen automatic chronographs before you know what you’re in for – a standard movement encased in a special steel case that is designed to appeal to a certain demographic. LIV is also Kickstarting a number of other watches, including a Day-Date chronograph that is flight-inspired and a diver, so check them out. However, if you’re into this piece then you’re in for a treat. It starts at $790, far below most mechanical chronographs I’ve seen, and the workmanship and quality of this piece is quite nice.

I wore it a little over the past few weeks and found it very comfortable and easy to read. The running seconds hand is a bit small and the lume is limited to the pips and hands but as a fashion/everyday wear piece it’s excellent. If you particularly like the style – F1 racing meets Kylo Ren – then you’re probably going to like this thing and since they’ve already surpassed their goal and hit $602,000 you can expect delivery of your perk.

Again, watches like this one require a specific style and taste. The LIV is reminiscent of Alpina and Tissot in its case style and decoration and it pays homage to racing and speed. Grabbing a Swiss made watch for under $1,000 is a treat and this is a good example of the species and well worth a look.

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This three-axis tourbillon movement is a 3D printed marvel

Posted by | breguet, Clocks, economy, Gadgets, luxury brands, TC, time, tourbillon, watch | No Comments

The three-axis tourbillon is one of the most complex watch complications in the world. Originally based on a design by watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet, this type of tourbillon – literally “whirlwind” – rotates the balance wheel of a watch in order to ensure that gravity doesn’t adversely affect any part of the watch. It’s a clever, complex, and essentially useless complication in an era of atomic clocks and nano materials but darn if it isn’t cool-looking.

Based on this original, simpler model, this new three-axis tourbillon is available for download here. It consists of 70 potentially fiddly parts and runs using a basic motor.

As you can see, the main component is the balance wheel which flips back and forth to drive the watch. The balance wheel is contained inside a sort of spike-shaped cage that rotates on multiple axes. The balance wheel controls the speed of the spin and often these devices are used as second hands on more complex – and more expensive – tourbillon watches. Tourbillons were originally intended to increase watch accuracy when they were riding in a vest pocket, the thinking being that gravity would pull down a watch’s balance wheel differently when it was vertical as compared to being horizontal. In this case, the wheel takes into account all possible positions leading to a delightful bit of horological overkill.

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Bell & Ross creates a transparent tourbillon

Posted by | bell & ross, breguet, Clocks, Culture, economy, Gadgets, honda, luxury brands, TC, time, tourbillon, watch | No Comments

It’s spring and that means it’s time for Basel, the definitive international watch show. Around this time every year all of your favorite brands – and brands you’ve never heard of – launch unique timepieces that cost more than a few dozen Honda Accords and look like something made by Doctor Manhattan during one of his less melancholy moments.

Today’s wild timepiece comes to use from Bell & Ross, makers of big square watches that look like aircraft dials. This new piece, called the BR-X1-Skeleton-Tourbillon-Sapphire, maintains the traditional B&R shape but is almost completely clear with a case made of sapphire and held together by pins and screws. The movement, which comes in three colors, is a complete hand-wound tourbillon system and is beautifully visible from all angles.

A tourbillon, for the uninitiated, is a system for rotating the watch’s balance wheel 360 degrees. This system, originally created by Breguet, ensured that a watch didn’t slow down when subjected to odd gravitational forces. Now, however, it’s a wildly expensive conversation starter.

This is a beautiful update to B&R’s original see-through watch and, while the vast majority of us will never own something like this, it’s nice to know that someone still cares about horological complexity paired with wild design. How much does it cost to own the watch equivalent of Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet? About $500,000. The piece, for those interested in picking one up, will be available online.

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The MB&F MoonMachine 2 reconnects you with the celestial

Posted by | Gadgets, luxury brands, mb&f, TC, watch | No Comments

 If and when your crypto investments go back up feel free to spend about $100,000 on one of these new creations from the watchmakers at MB&F and noted horologist Stepan Sarpaneva. The watch, called the MoonMachine 2, has a “heads-up” time display on the back end of the case where you see the hours and minutes in bold numerals along with a Sarpaneva-style moonphase display that… Read More

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Swiss watchmaker Omega joins the ecommerce bandwagon

Posted by | Crafts, economy, Gadgets, luxury brands, panerai, property, TC, watch | No Comments

 Swiss watchmakers have long resisted the siren call of ecommerce. While many of their products sold online – you can find everything from Swatch to Breguet on the “grey market” – there were no official online channels for many brands. Until now. Omega, a Swiss watchmaker whose wares now grace the wrist of James Bond, just started selling online, joining Panerai and… Read More

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Defakto’s ‘Stille Nacht’ watch is a limited edition of galactic proportions

Posted by | Crafts, Defakto, Gadgets, hardware, luxury brands, TC, watch, Wearables | No Comments

 Independent watchmaker Defakto creates some stunning timepieces via its regular collection, but it has a new limited series that is particularly eye-catching. The new Defakto Stille Nacht is a collaboration with artist Friederike Bellman, and it uses a hand-painted star field to brighten and distinguish each watchface for the 50-piece limited edition run.
The Stille Nacht (‘Silent… Read More

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Breitling’s Avenger Hurricane 45 watch uses dense composites to stay light

Posted by | Audemars Piguet, Culture, Gadgets, luxury brands, manufacturing, property, rolex, seiko, TC, watch | No Comments

 According to horological legend the first luxury watch made of steel – the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak caused great consternation when it launched in 1972. Up until then there were timekeepers – small, cheap watches like Timex and Seiko – and expensive pieces that you handed out at retirements from brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe. To build a luxury watch in steel was an… Read More

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