Keep up with our pre-, post-, and live Baselworld 2015 coverage here.
Price-wise, the Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Spacemaster Orbital II Chronograph isn't cheap in the scheme of things most people buy on a regular basis, but it is very well-priced for what you get in terms of both features and quality. Ball has never tried to be a watch brand you are buying because of the name, but rather because you associate a certain look and feature set with the name. Ball watches, for the most part, make suitable daily wears, and their focus on things like functionality and ergonomics can only be truly appreciated when checking some of the competition. Of course, with their prolific designs, you never know what will come next, but for now, if you are looking for a feature-packed sporty chronograph, the Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Spacemaster Orbital II Chronograph ref. DC3036C-SA-BK is a solid choice. Price is ,999. ballwatch.com
It took the Top Gear duo more than 3 days to reach Hammond – who, as can be seen in the show, didn't handle too well his isolation in the freezing cold Canadian wilderness. Nevertheless, the Breitling Emergency II watch was displayed multiple times throughout the film as it performed in line with expectations.
The in-house flyback chronograph movement is visible on the sapphire case back showing the gold rotor that is tastefully decorated. As I mentioned before, the movement is reversed, with the chronograph pushers on the left, which facilitates usage at the track.
The dial is pretty cleanly laid out, with the sub-registers easy to read (another benefit of a larger case). It is a shame, however, that the day and date wheels are not color matched to the dial - they stand out a bit for my tastes. Additionally, the hour hand does feel a bit chopped. I realize that you need to be able to easily differentiate the hour and minute hands, but something about the scale of that hour hand just feels off to me.
The dial might look plain from afar, but upon closer inspection, there are lots of details to take in. The micro gas tubes are placed directly into the dial, and this gives it an unexpected level of texture and depth. The chapter ring is marked at five-minute intervals and also slightly recessed with guilloche, which adds a dash of contrast to the dial. There’s also the SG50 logo at 9 o’clock, which I think is well-sized. Ball could have easily made it larger, but they have thoughtfully kept it at an appropriate size to nicely balance out the date window at 3 o’clock. And with the Ball logo at 12 o’clock and the words “Limited Edition” and “Automatic” at 6 o’clock, the dial has a good sense of symmetry. That said, even though the dial of the Ball Fireman Night Train SG50 is certainly not as clean as the Ball Fireman Night Train DLC, I think Ball has shown considerable restraint and kept things neat and sensible. They could have thrown in the Singapore flag or the Merlion too, but didn't.
I've long since argued that the price increases over the last decade or more have been unsustainable and would ultimately hurt long-term sales. The watch industry increased prices for a range of reasons including booming emerging markets and the necessity of showing shareholders and investors year-on-year growth. With the January 2015 Swiss law that increased the value of the Swiss Franc by about 20% (at the time), a number of factors coalesced which forced the Swiss watch industry to re-examine prices and many brands have been focusing on more "realistic" prices. Brands like TAG Heuer even made the important decision to return to their more historic, accessible pricing scheme. The price reduction announcement today isn't directly related to TAG Heuer coming out with lower-priced models, but it is a positive sign for where the brand is going - and it was made with the typical sense of slick Biver swagger.
It shouldn't be too surprising that many Swarovski ladies' watches are a bit "blingy." That is sort of the nature of the brand, and if you are looking for totally understated simplicity, these are not watches for you, or your female counterparts. Most (but not all) Swarovski watches have varying amounts of crystals on them. Some even use faceted pieces of crystal for the bezel - which is the case with the Swarovski Octea Sport collection. I've photographed one of the Swarovski Octea Sport watches here - which is actually the first Swarovski watch I learned about that got me interested in the brand.
The deployant also ended up causing me some issues in the wear of the watch. Over the course of a day, I would feel like the clasp was digging into my wrist. Taking the watch off would confirm that as well. I tried adjusting the size it was set at, but then ended up with a watch that was too loose on the wrist. So, this is something that I would be aware of. Then again, this seems to be a common issue I run into with deployants on leather (oddly enough, on a bracelet, I have no issues). They just add too much bulk, and when they pair with a thicker strap as we have here, you can get discomfort.
The dials/movement plates are in 18k gold as well, and meant to match the case material of the watch. This adds a new harmonious looks to the MB&F LM101 Frost that did not exist with the previous models. It changes the nature of the watch, and these are certainly a bit more "blingy," being gold on gold. I wouldn't call them gaudy, though, as they take on a more traditional look which calls attention more in the sense of visual fascination versus pure status items. I think the MB&F LM101 Frost watches add an interesting look to the brand, even though they aren't what I would call "traditionally MB&F designs." In my opinion, the popularity of the Legacy Machine watches added a new tangential personality to the MB&F brand which is distinct and in some ways separate from its Horological Machine (HM) personality.
Along that path is another interesting "innovation" from the brand for 2015 that is worth bringing up as an example of what luxury watch makers are prone to getting excited about. One of the 2015 Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Skeleton Flying Tourbillon watches comes with a "gem-set rubber bezel" (ref. DBEX0480). This 45mm-wide black DLC-coated titanium watch has a rubber coated bezel that is also set with 60 baguette-cut diamonds (about 2.24 carats worth). The large sparkling stones contrast with the matte black surface of the rubber in a way that melds a degree of sportiness with jewelry romance. You either "get it" or you don't, but it is interesting to understand who this product is intended for. Inside the watch is the in-house made and manually-wound Roger Dubuis caliber RD505SQ skeletonized movement with the time and flying tourbillon. It exists as a limited edition of 88 pieces.
In front of me lay the vast stretches of the pacific ocean as our small dive boat chugged out of Hawaii Kai and into the open waters of Maunalua Bay. This is my first time in Hawaii and, as a diver trained in the cold and dark waters of Vancouver, I've been looking forward to my first tropical dive with no small amount of anticipation. In preparation for my Hawaii diving I've brought most of my core diving gear (happily left the dry suit at home) and an ideal watch, the Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT SUN023 diver.
The first of the new Tambour éVolution timepieces is the Louis Vuitton Tambour éVolution GMT in Black, which is 43mm wide and water resistant to 100 meters (well, they are all water resistant to 100 meters). With the cleanest dial of the bunch, this timepiece contains the automatic caliber LV71 (not in-house made) movement (operating at 4Hz with 42 hours of power reserve) which has two time zones with a day/night indicator for the second time zone and the date. I don't consider this a true GMT, because it (like the other models here) doesn't indicate one of the time zones in 24-hour format, but rather uses a second 12-hour hand. This is similar, but just makes for a "two-time-zone watch." Basically, you have two hour hands, with each representing a different time zone. As a basic travel watch, the Louis Vuitton Tambour éVolution GMT in Black is modernly cooly with a welcome black with red accent color tone. With this collection, the Tambour éVolution very much feels like Louis Vuitton's version of the Montblanc Timewalker (which is most certainly less expensive).
Last year at Baselworld 2014, Swiss Arnold & Son released a lovely new chronograph known as the Arnold & Son CTB Chronograph. As far as I know, this is the first chronograph watch with a "true beat" (dead beat) seconds hand paired to a traditional chronograph complication. aBlogtoWatch first debuted the Arnold & Son CTB Chronograph watch here last March with more technical specs, but read on to learn about this interesting and attractive timepiece.
Omega has made myriad limited edition Speedmasters over the years and has ensured that there is something out there for just about any taste. The Omega Speedmaster Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award Limited Edition watch will be limited to 1970 pieces which will come fitted to a black nylon strap and include decorative Silver Snoopy pins and a dedicated newspaper, all for 6,100 CHF (~US,100). With the Omega Speedmaster Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award Limited Edition, Omega has brought the whole Moonwatch ethos back to its roots and managed to design a noteworthy conversation piece for both watch and space enthusiasts. omegawatches.com
Reading the time is pretty easy, actually, but given that it is a regulator style display, you'll need to look at one area for the minutes and another for the hour. Yes, this is a necessary trade-off for having this unique way of displaying the time. The subsidiary seconds indicator disc isn't super easy to see either, but at the end of the day, its primary use is to create some visual movement on the dial - this is not a tool-style watch worn when someone wants to measure the time with extreme precision.
In the wake of this success, Cross found himself set to attend more formal events than he’d ever had to in his life – let alone the mother of them all, the Oscars, whose ceremony is broadcast to millions worldwide. A renowned film editor, Cross is best known for his work on edgy indie-cinema productions like Crazy Heart and We Own the Night, as well as notable TV shows like The Bridge and Deadwood. Seeing the dynamic precision timing of his cutting on the silver screen, it’s not surprising to discover Cross is also a passionate watch enthusiast.
The FC-945 movement offers the hours and minutes, synchronized 24-hour hand (which more-or-less acts as an AM/PM indicator), date dial, and moon phase indicator. It joins the very similar "cousin" movement which is the Frédérique Constant FC-942 in some other watches (with different dials). What is the difference between the FC-942 and the FC-945? The latter has the 24 hour indicator while the former doesn't and offers a bit more of a symmetrical layout for cleaner dials. For the time being, Frederique Constant Manufacture Heart Beat FC-942 watches also come with black versus silver-tone dials.