Well, well, well, here's the latest new addition into Tudor's Black Bay family, a fully blue version dubbed the Black Bay Fifty-Eight "Navy Blue." While this will come as little surprise to anyone who frequents any of the Tudor enthusiast bases online, the original black/gilt BB58 ranks among the hottest watches on the market today (even more so at its price point), so a new addition – especially one that doubles down on the vintage inspiration – is huge news (even if some of you saw it coming).
The Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight "Navy Blue" with its available fabric strap (left), steel bracelet (center), and synthetic "soft touch" strap (right).
So, it's a Black Bay Fifty-Eight with a lovely, rich blue used for both the dial and the bezel. Like the original Fifty-Eight that was launched at Baselworld 2018 (pour one out) and which got a very close look in Stephen Pulvirent's A Week On The Wrist, this new reference 79030B is 39mm wide, 11.9mm thick, and employs Tudor's in-house MT5402 in the same date-free format. You'll probably recall that the MT5402 features a balance bridge for better shock resistance and stability, as well as a silicon balance spring and Rolex Microstella-style free-sprung, adjustable mass balance – very much a Rolex technology movement. As a small departure from the 2018 Fifty-Eight, this new colour way is available on a bracelet, one of Tudor's lovely fabric straps in blue with a silver stripe (now celebrating 10 years of production), or a blue synthetic strap made of a tactile material that Tudor says resembles flannel.
So, why navy blue? Or more specifically, why blue for the bezel and the dial, when so many past Black Bay models have only shown colour on their bezels? For that, you can thank the French Navy, aka the Marine Nationale. So prolific was the Marine Nationale's preference for using Tudor Subs as issued watches that an entire range of the brand's iconic "Snowflake" Submariner is commonly referred to as the "MN." While MN Tudors came in both black and blue, Tudor picked the blue variant as inspiration for this 2020 model, and that is why we see a blue dial and bezel for the new 79030B.
The eventual MN Tudors were born of earlier models that saw time on the battlefield, like Moki Martin's ref. 7928. Progressing through the '60s and into the '70s, Tudor's involvement with the Marine Nationale not only helped shape the development of their Submariner as a true military-issued dive watch, but legit signed examples of references like the late-60s 7016/0 and the mid-70s 9041/0 are seriously collectible and thus offer an ideal reference for a vintage-inspired watch like the Black Bay Fifty-Eight.
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Since 1948, Omega have been perfecting their formula for conquering the sea. What began as a splash-proof dress watch, quickly spiralled into a race for innovation amongst Switzerland’s finest as to who could plunge the deepest depths and still tell the time.
The Seamaster line is Omega’s crown jewel in technical achievement and design, with mesmerising good-looks intrinsically linked to having the utmost legibility under the waves. 2017 saw a revamped edition of the Seamaster 300, Omega’s famed 1957 release that has become an all-time classic. Last year saw the Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional reach a staggering 10,929m underwater, breaking the world record for a wristwatch in the Mariana Trench. Now, the Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial and the Planet Ocean are engaged in their own battle at the top of Omega’s steel-diver catalogue.
As much as the Planet Ocean is undoubtedly a modern beast, its roots aren’t all that detached from the Seamaster 300. The first generation, launched in 2005, took its dial inspiration from the 1960s SM300, reference 165.024. Specifically, it took the same font of Arabic numerals, and used the trapezoid-shaped printed markers to model its applied indices. Its broad-arrow hands are also inspired by the 1957 Trilogy watches, although the slender and sophisticated dauphine minute hand made way for an elongated arrow hand, allowing for a sharper, aggressive look with heaps of room for lume.
The modern generation of Planet Oceans has almost done away with printed Arabics altogether, leaving only a hint of its vintage origins. Bold, clean, and digital-looking applied numerals at 6, 9, and 12 glint under the light, while the indices are longer, fatter, and less angular which overall gives a stockier appearance. The greyed-out ZrO2 just beneath the hands gives away the use of Liquidmetal technology within the ceramic bezel, allowing for more detailed patterns such as the segmented lines after the 15-minute mark. Orange is the unofficial colour of the Planet Ocean line, and while some models blare that proudly with orange bezels, the tamed black references keep it subtle with two lines of orange script and an orange-tipped seconds hand.
The Seamaster 300 is a much easier dial to wrap your head around conceptually, as it’s a near-exact replica of the 1957 release. A slightly grainy matte black dial mimics some of the aged appearance of the originals, as does the faux-patina of the Super-LumiNova, matched neatly in the bezel pip. The elongated shark-tooth markers, along with the skinnier numerals on the simple, symmetrical bezel, keep the design language in a firmly mid-century era, with the only clue to its young age being the “Master Co-Axial Chronometer” print.
Since reverting to purely using in-house movements, Omega’s dedication to its Master Chronometers has been outstanding. With some of the most rigorous testing standards out there today, the dual certification between METAS and COSC ensures these movements run within -0/+5 seconds per day, after the movement has been installed in the case. The people who really understand what 15,000 Gauss means are few and far between, however this level of magnetic resistance is more than enough to give peace of mind to those working around strong magnetic fields, such as audio visual equipment or heavy machinery.
Both the calibre 8900 in the Planet Ocean and the 8400 in the Seamaster 300 are Master Chronometers, and each are essentially the same movement, although the 8400 is without a date complication. They both have the famed Daniels’ Co-Axial escapement, free-sprung balances with silicon balance springs, wind automatically in both directions, and have a 60-hour power reserve thanks to dual-mainspring barrels.
The Seamaster 300’s 41mm case is a small step up from the 39mm original, though the lengthy lugs give it more of a modern wrist presence than you may expect. The polished surfaces give it a certain refinement, and the flat, angular profile really rams home the fact that this watch is not of our time. Omega’s lyre-lug design present on the Planet Ocean may not be anything new, but it’s something we’re much more used to seeing on Seamasters and Speedmasters from the past few decades. In addition to the compound curves, which give the PO a more modern, organic appearance, those lugs also help to reduce the wrist presence of the references all the way from 37.5mm to 45.5mm.
Thickness is an issue that can’t be avoided with heavy-duty divers such as the 600M Planet Ocean, with the 43.5mm reference measuring 16.5mm high. This is a significant increase from the Seamaster 300’s 15mm; 1.5mm may not seem like much, but it does make a difference. Growing thickness has been a bit of a bugbear for Omega since introducing their in-house calibers. For example, the 42mm Planet Ocean with the ETA-based 2500 movement is just a hair over 14mm. This hasn’t seemed to upset too many customers, though, as the trade-off includes getting a display caseback into that stunningly finished movement.
Both of these Seamaster models are available on leather, but for purity and practicality, the true comparison should lie with the bracelets. Both are steel, three-link, and have Omega’s phenomenally easy micro-adjust system in the clasp, but that’s about where the similarities end. The personality of each bracelet is completely different, and each is tailored well to the watch. The Seamaster 300’s links appear largely flat, making it look very wide and stout, especially with those huge polished centre links. The outer links, being brushed, give just enough contrast to stop the whole watch from being blinding, however the centre links, as well as the lugs, do give the watch somewhat of a blingy look.
The Planet Ocean’s bracelet is much more what we’re used to seeing on luxury divers these days, with each link given a soft rounded edge to increase comfort and prevent distractions from the dial. The entirely brushed finish also gives the PO its ruggedness, much more a tool than a relic. One point of contention has been the transition to odd lug widths, such as 19mm for the 39.5mm Planet Ocean, and 21mm for the 43.5mm and the Seamaster 300.
There aren’t many punches one of these watches can throw that the other can’t return, which goes to show how impressively consistent the Seamaster line is. In many cases, you will know which of these you’re lusting after the moment you see them in person. If you’re after a touch of the old world and can’t stand the Helium Escape Valve, you would tend towards the Seamaster 300. If you’re all about robust brutishness, one of the bigger Planet Oceans is for you.
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Much like a car manufacturer does when it designs a brand new engine, TAG Heuer are making sure that their flagship self-winding chronograph movement, the Calibre Heuer 02, finds its way into every chrono they’ve released this year.
And just days after letting us know that their three in-demand limited edition chronographs equipped with the accomplished movement are still available for pre-order, the La Chaux-de-Fonds watchmaker has gone and dropped more bombshells in the shape of not one, but four entirely new Carreras. Called the Carrera Chrono Sport, these steely racers have scored a host of completely novel features and yes, you guessed it – the Calibre Heuer 02 powers them all.
The redesigned polished stainless steel cases of the Chronos are not for the faint of heart or slight of wrist – they measure 44mm across and approximately 16mm thick. However, thanks to shorter, lyre-style lugs, according to the watchmaker, these timepieces wear comfortably on the wrist. Anyone who’s familiar with modern TAGs will instantly recognise the familiar pump-style pushers and large multifaceted crown (hewn from 18k rose gold in the Ref.CBN2A5A model), and we’re quite glad TAG has stuck with this combo, as they have been a joy to interact with in the past. All four of the new Carreras will be sandwiched in sapphire crystal, with the front-facing glass scoring an anti-reflective coating.
Three different dial colours make up the four new Chronos – an inky sunburst Deep Blue, arresting sunburst Olive Green or uniform sunburst Black. All the dials have been given a concentric finish that harmonises well with the three similarly patterned sub-dials, which display a 30-minute totaliser at three o’clock, running seconds at six o’clock, and a 12-hour totaliser at nine o’clock. Like so many other models that sport the Calibre Heuer 02, the new Carreras feature a diminutive date aperture at six o’clock.
Highly polished baton-style indices and matching handset adorn the dials, with the blue, green and plain black iterations being finished in stainless steel. However, arguably the best-looking variant, the sunburst black model with rose gold accents Ref.CBN2A5A, has rather obviously been bestowed with indices and a handset that match the precious metal. All of the watches also score a polished ceramic bezel that matches the colour of the different dials and has a tachymeter scale etched into its surface.
Performance-wise, the Calibre Heuer 02 offers up exactly what it has in other models unveiled this year. That means an impressive spec sheet that includes a column-wheel chronograph complication with vertical clutch, 33 jewels, an operating frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz) and 80 hours of power reserve. And, as a result of the aforementioned sapphire crystal display caseback, owners can admire the neatly finished movement, which is especially good-looking on the black and rose gold model, as it features a black PVD-coated brass oscillating weight with a rose gold printing.
The Chrono Sport is being offered from TAG with either a tri-link tapered stainless steel bracelet with brushed and polished elements or, for the black and rose gold model, a black alligator leather band.
TAG Heuer Chrono Sport pricing and availability
Prices for the blue, green and black steel variants are £4,695.00 GBP, and the black and rose gold model is $9500 AUD. Praise be, these are also regular production models from TAG and not more limited editions, so you can actually sit and think for a second about the prospect of ownership, rather than having to hit the “add to cart” button faster than Max Verstappen trying to the purple sector at the Styrian Grand Prix.
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The popularity of some watches takes off the moment that they are introduced. A great example of this is the Black Bay Fifty-Eight, which Tudor launched in 2018. It was not only the charismatic black and gold color scheme that made the watch so instantly popular but also its size of 39mm. With that it is perfectly proportioned, breathing vintage style while being large enough to offer modern-day appeal.
At Watches of Switzerland, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight was an instant hit, and the new version in blue will likely follow its sibling. While the changes are only limited to the color, it gives the watch a completely different look. The blue looks somewhat sportier and dynamic, then the more vintage-inspired black and gold look. This even though the blue color scheme is also based on a vintage Tudor. Especially on a bracelet, it means that the Black Bay Fifty-Eight has more of a contemporary look. One thing that stayed the same is the versatility of the watch. Just like its sibling can also this Tudor be matched as easily with a suit and tie, as with shorts and a polo. But also when you change into your swim shorts or even your wet suit, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight can stay on the wrist, as it is water-resistant up to 200 meters.
The watch is fitted with caliber MT5402, an automatic manufacture movement that comes with a few welcome features. So is the balance wheel covered by a full bridge, which makes it more shock resistant, does it have a power reserve of 70 hours and does a Chronometer-certification testify the movement’s precision. Tudor is offering their latest watch on the classic stainless steel oyster bracelet, with its distinct rivets on the side, but there are also other options for those who feel that the dial and bezel offer not enough blue. The blue ‘soft touch’ strap looks almost like a suede leather but is a high-performance synthetic material that offers superb wearing comfort and doesn’t mind getting wet. Those who prefer their strap even more sportively can opt for the blue NATO-style strap with centerline in silver. While the new Black Bay Fifty-Eight in blue is not a limited edition, its popularity will most likely mean that collectors better hurry to official Tudor-retailers such as Watches of Switzerland and Mayors, to ensure that they can enjoy their great new watch this summer.
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Richard Mille’s latest adds to their most beloved line of timepieces, the RM 011. This family of chronographs was first launched in 2007 as the RM 011 Automatic Chronograph Felipe Massa, establishing for the brand a legacy and several lifetimes worth of admirers.
For 2020, the RM 011 welcomes its sixth chapter, the RM 11-05 Automatic Flyback Chronograph GMT. The first thing that should strike you about the watch is that as opposed to the more aggressive take on the Richard Mille tonneau case that we see now on the 11-03 and 04, the 11-05 has the prior sleek case styling that we last saw on the 11-02. And probably for good reason, we’ll come back to this.
The movement powering the watch is the Calibre RMAC3 that we’ve seen previously in the 11-03. As it is the Richard Mille religion, the baseplate and bridges of the RMAC3 are all forged in grade 5 titanium with extensive skeletonization.
However, the movement is set apart here with the inclusion of the GMT hand, seen here with the orange arrow tipped fourth hand on the central pinion. The GMT hand can be independently adjusted using a pusher integrated into the watch at 9 o’clock.
Beyond this the movement includes hours, minutes and running seconds at 3 o’clock; 60-minute and 24-hour totalizers for the flyback chronograph at 9 and 6 o’clock respectively, and lastly the annual calendar comprising the large date-display at 12 o’clock with the month aperture between 4 and 5 o’clock.
Now the hardcore follower of Richard Mille watches will note that the material we see on the bezel of the 11-05 is not one we’ve seen previously. After their last foray into a brand-new material utilized in case construction — graphene, used in the RM 50-03 — the brand has now plunged into using Cermet. Cermet is a compounded material formed using a metal element and ceramic. The metal element provides a lattice structure which is then filled with ceramic forming the Cermet (cer-met, i.e. ceramic + metal).
In the case of the 11-05, Richard Mille has utilized a zirconium-based Cermet for the bezel, formally: Zirconium carbide (ZrC). The brand has stated that the Cermet they are using “combines the lightness of titanium with the hardness of a ceramic.”
The production of ZrC requires starting off with zirconium dioxide, where the compound is reduced using a carbon source giving us ZrC in powered form. ZrC is a grey substance, which explains the color of the bezel on the 11-05. From there the solid form of the material is obtained by flash sintering, where the material is subjected to temperatures of up to 2000ºC all while a direct electric field is applied using specialized electrodes. Sintering is what helps form the solid, the flash aspect of it helps to dramatically reduce the time it takes for the sintering process to be completed.
According to Richard Mille, the resulting solid has a “…density of 4.1 g/cm3 — less than that of titanium — and its hardness of 2,360 Vickers — almost the same as diamond’s 2,400 Vickers — make Cermet a judicious choice for use in bezels that are very exposed to scratches, while maintaining overall lightness.” Which would explain why Richard Mille has gone ahead with the more sleek silhouette of their tonneau case as opposed to the later design that includes a lot more facets and would thus be harder to machine from a material that boasts such extreme physical qualities.
The tripartite case of the 11-05, therefore, has a Cermet bezel, a Carbon TPT® mid-case and a titanium back all held together by Richard Mille’s spline screws in grade 5 titanium.
The RM 11-05 Automatic Flyback Chronograph GMT will be available as of July 2020, in a limited run of 140 pieces.
Self-winding Calibre RMAC3; hours, minutes and small running seconds; chronograph with 60-minute and 24-hour totalizer; annual calendar with date and month display; 50-hour power reserve
Front bezel in grey Cermet, caseband in Carbon TPT® and case back in grade 5 titanium; water-resistant to 50m
Price and Availability
Available as of July 2020, in a limited run of 140 pieces; GBP 170,000 (excl. VAT)
There are hundreds of emotions that flood through you when looking at a Cartier watch. Authentic historical contributions to aviation timekeeping, coupled with more than 170 years in the jewellery industry, shrouds the French name in an air of romance, adventure and audacious style. With few models is this truer than the Santos-Dumont, originally designed in 1904 for the brave pilot of the same name, and revived in 2019 in an ultra-thin case echoing the century-old designs more accurately than previous Santos models.
Although the SIHH release was an undisputed hit, perhaps the only drawback was the quartz movement, lacking that bite of heritage which can only be attained from knowing a complex series of gears and levers are working away on your wrist. Cartier answered prayers in 2020’s Watches & Wonders online edition when they announced an XL hand-winding model, plus four extremely attractive special editions.
The first three aren’t especially mould-breaking, but that doesn’t make them any less stunning. Le Brésil pays homage to the aviator’s first flying balloon, deceptively simple with its monochromatic colour scheme comprised of a platinum case and grey strap — the only pop of colour being the red ruby cabochon crown. La Baladeuse is especially regal, with yellow gold encapsulating a sunburst champagne dial, but somehow not appearing overly blingy. The n°14 bis embraces a commitment to contrast, with the yellow gold bezel and sword hands popping out from the anthracite grey dial and smoky-black strap.
The standout, however, is La Demoiselle. Though dedicated to Santos-Dumont’s final aircraft design, the styling is actually modelled on one of his Panama hats. The fabric-weave styled guilloché in the centre of the cream dial is matched by a strap of the same material, although it also comes with a brown alligator strap (with matching tiger’s eye cufflinks) if the all-cream is too much for you.
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The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT is about as avant-garde an offering as one will find from a top-tier Swiss manufacture today, which seems to me to be an interesting thing to consider. The line and the basic design of its case have been with us for 18 years. The first Royal Oak Concept watch, designed by Claude Emmenegger, was presented in 2002 to mark the 30th anniversary of the Royal Oak, and it came with a movement developed by Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi (APR&P). As its name would lead you to believe, the Royal Oak Concept line tends to be a bit more experimental than, say, the Royal Oak Offshore. It's been a springboard for technical developments. The first AP Supersonnerie was a Concept piece, for example.
The watch we are introducing today is actually the second Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT. The first version came out two years ago and was itself a refresh of the slightly differently named Royal Oak Concept GMT Tourbillon. What made the refreshed 2018 version different was its asymmetric design and its use of a bridge-less (or flying) tourbillon.
The watch of two years ago combined a titanium case, a black ceramic bezel, a blacked-out dial/movement, and applied rose-gold accents, which added up to a pretty flashy look. Today, in a limited edition of 30 pieces to be sold through Paris AP retailer Arije, we've got a Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT that delivers a much more low-key vibe. Virtually everything about it is a muted, monochromatic grey, including the display, the rubber strap and clasp, and even the movement's back.
The large case is made from sandblasted titanium and has been fitted with a bezel that is also made of sandblasted titanium. There are still some ceramic components, namely the screw-down crown and the push-piece on the side of the case, but they are also rendered in grey.
The manually wound caliber 2954 delivers nearly 10 days of power reserve (237 hours, to be exact) on one full wind via two large barrels visible when you turn the watch over. On the dial side, everything is rendered in muted grey tones, from the wheel displaying the second time zone at three o'clock, to the function selector at six o'clock, to the flange with the hour / minute track. From the supplied photos, I get the sense that there is enough contrast between the skeletonized, lume-filled hands and the dial/movement surface that I do not expect legibility would be an issue. The movement comprises 348 parts.
The Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT is about as practical a watch as you are going to find in the RO Concept line. Granted, there is very little about a tourbillon-equipped wristwatch that screams practicality, but this one offers an extremely long power reserve matched with what I think is the most useful of all complications, the GMT.
I think it's fair to say that AP's Royal Oak Concept pieces aren't for every high-end watch lover. Consider the size alone. At 44mm in diameter by 16.1mm thick, this watch is a statement on the wrist, even if you've got a big wrist. And while it certainly may attract the same die-hard AP fan as, say, a far simpler Royal Oak Jumbo, this watch scratches a vastly different itch. I think enthusiasts might come to this watch from a few different angles. But to me, it's a compelling demonstration of what AP can do not just with complications, but also from a design standpoint. I think the fact that the Concept has been with us since 2002 is also a testament to the company's fierce independent streak.
Brand: Audemars Piguet
Model: Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT
Reference Number: 26589TI.GG.D006CA.01
Case Material: Sandblasted titanium
Dial Color: Grey
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Grey rubber strap with sandblasted titanium AP folding clasp. Additional grey alligator strap.
Caliber: Manufacture Caliber 2954
Functions: Hours, minutes, flying tourbillon, GMT, function selector
Diameter: 35.60 mm
Power Reserve: 237 hours
Winding: Manually wound
Frequency: 21,600 vph
Jewels: 24 hours
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