Michael Jordan has just reminded us of the modern classic in our midst that is the latest iteration of the Rolex Sky-Dweller, relaunched in 2017. And while Part 2 of his collection gave me, as a fortunate and fairly fanatical Big Pilot owner (oh, what a watch), a kick to be on team MJ, it also reminded me of a Rolex I’ve not yet managed to bring to earth and to my wrist. That 2017 Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller. I went back to our archives and found a video as well as this long review with absolutely stunning pictures, I was enamored all over again.
It reminded me that, while this lockdown and pause in new releases is surreal and frankly annoying, it is giving us more time than ever to reflect on past as well as present greatness. So here, I combine them into a supersized in-depth review, with a couple of videos and an owner’s perspective to complement it. For good measure, there’s also the video from Baselworld when we first encountered the watch. Scroll to the end of the post to see that, and a more thick version of me too. If that’s not enough, here’s a story about two people who bought the watch, and their different reactions. Phew. Comprehensive enough?
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller
Ok, let’s get into it. While the Sky-Dweller is, along with the Yacht-Master II, the most complicated of the Big Crown’s current offerings, its appeal is simple. A vastly cleaned up and optimally designed dial layout (those baton indices are just perfection), a stealth wealth materials combination of white gold and steel (in our favourite variants) and a very impressive party trick with its “ring command” bezel. The only problem with this watch is an enduring one – blue or black dial? I constantly waver. Today, blue. But then again, the GOAT chose black…
For years, the Sky-Dweller has been one of the most interesting and least understood modern Rolexes. It’s one of the most complicated watches in their lineup, as a luxury traveller’s watch, and is the patrician elder brother of the tool-like GMT-Master II. This niche proposition, along with its solid gold offering, always made it something of an outsider Rolex. Until now.
In some ways the case of the Sky-Dweller remains identical to the version released in 2012, but viewed a different way, the changes to the big 42mm case represent the single biggest shift to the model, which has seen it rocket to the top of many a fan’s list. It’s all about the material. For the first five years of its life, the Sky-Dweller existed only in precious metals: white, yellow or Everose gold. Not only did this place the watch into a premium price bracket, but it was also every inch the solid gold Rolex — unavoidably so with that large, fluted bezel. But as Baselworld 2017 rolled around and the Rolesor Sky-Dwellers were unveiled, the proposition suddenly changed. Fifty grand plus suddenly came down to around twenty, bringing the Sky-Dweller within reach of a whole lot more people. Rolex released two Rolesor versions — yellow gold with a precious bezel and centre bracelet links, or a white gold option where only the bezel is made from the precious metal.
Aside from the case, the other major change to the Sky-Dweller is the design of the dial. And not just that stellar starburst blue option. Gone are the radial Arabic or Roman numerals, replaced with elongated applied batons, filled with Chromalight. This one change makes a huge difference to the simplicity of the dial. That and the fact that the second time zone disc is now colour matched to the dial rather than contrasting. Aside from these cosmetic upgrades, the Sky-Dweller’s dial is still the same legible design that smartly packs a lot of information into a small space. The most obvious feature is the second time zone, displayed via an off-centre 24-hour display. There’s also a dual calendar, with the date displayed under the traditional Cyclops and the month subtly indicated by a red marker at the outer edge of the hour markers. Every time I see this month implementation, I’m beguiled by its simplicity, and it still confounds me that it’s not a more popular style of calendar (Rolex is the only volume brand who use it, to my knowledge).
It might be too much to say that this simplified, somewhat sportier dial is an improvement on the dial of the all-gold model, as that watch has a different personality to the Rolesor. But I am quite confident in saying that this new dial will appeal to a wider audience. Extra points for the cutouts on the hands so as to always allow maximum legibility of the home-time dial.
The most impressive part of the Sky-Dweller is the movement. Not just because the Calibre 9001 is a highly complicated, modern movement with a mighty 72 hours of power reserve and protected by seven patents. No, it stands out because of how you interact with the various functions. You see that pretty fluted gold bezel? That’s not a regular bezel, it’s actually quite an ingenious piece of user-friendly engineering called the Ring Command. Twist it to the left and you’ll notice it has three distinct positions. Change the position of this bezel, and the crown changes a different complication. The third position (hard left) allows you to change the home time, the second position changes local time, and the first position allows you to change the annual calendar.
It’s an innovative, over-engineered and user-friendly solution to a problem you never knew you had. Just the sort of innovation that Rolex excels at.
No surprises here. Of course the Sky-Dweller ships on the Oyster bracelet. Now, if you opted for the white gold Rolesor version, the bracelet is solid 904L steel. If yellow gold is more your jam, you get polished yellow gold centre links. Solid and supremely comfortable, thanks in part to the easily adjusted Oysterclasp, which gives you around 5mm of flex room to ensure maximum comfort.
On the wrist
The large case size and that light-flinging fluted bezel make the Sky-Dweller an attention-drawing watch, and the fact that it’s not solid gold only reduces the bling-factor so much but, honestly, you’ve just got to embrace it. Aside from that, it’s the typical flawless Rolex experience.
The Sky-Dweller has always been a great watch, and now, with its smartly redesigned dial and more accessible case material, it’s just a little bit greater.
Let me show you my Ring Command Bezel …
Who’s it for?
There’s no doubt that the Sky-Dweller is one of 2017’s ‘it’ Rolexes, along with the Sea-Dweller. But if you prefer brains over brawn, the Sky-Dweller might just be the one for you.
What would we change?
Watches like this always make me regret including the “what would we change” part of the review. Everything here is so considered and so thought through that there’s really not much to say. However, I included it, so there’s no getting around it. If it were up to me I’d love it in a slightly smaller case. Failing that, a bezel that’s a tad less extravagantly fluted would be right up my alley.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller U.K Pricing
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller in white gold Rolesor, £11,850 in yellow gold Rolesor, £14,150. For the White Rolesor version, you could look to pay up to £20,000 for one on the second-hand market or wait a few years on a waiting list.
Watchlotto ticket pricing
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In 2003, Omega released a limited edition Speedmaster which had a rather quirky addition to the dial and caseback. On the dial, in the running seconds sub-dial at 9:00, was an improbable little figure: a cartoon dog in a cartoon spacesuit, doing a cheerful jig against a stellar backdrop, with the words "Eyes On The Stars" above his helmet. The same image appears on the caseback. The dog in question is as instantly recognizable as the watch: It's none other than Snoopy, the adventurous, imaginative, and irrepressible beagle from Charles Schulz's famous "Peanuts" comic strip.
Snoopy ended up on the Speedmaster thanks to one of the most well-known close calls in the history of manned space flight, which took place fifty years ago today. The beagle first became associated with the space program thanks to Apollo 10, which was a dress rehearsal for Apollo 11. The Apollo 10 Command Module was called "Charlie Brown" and the Lunar Excursion Module, "Snoopy" (these were the actual official callsigns for the vehicles). "Snoopy" was chosen as the name for the LEM because its job was to "snoop around" for good landing sites for Apollo 11. In 1969, the "Peanuts" comic strip and its characters were a bona fide cultural phenomenon. The first animated special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, appeared in 1965, and Snoopy, who had an ongoing imaginary aerial feud with the Red Baron (Manfred Von Richtofen) in his persona as The World War I Flying Ace, was perhaps the breakout star of the entire "Peanuts" gang.
Apollo 10 Commander Tom Stafford, with Snoopy, who's being held by Jayme Flowers, secretary to astronaut Gordon Cooper.
NASA, in search of a way to acknowledge technicians, suppliers, and support staff whose work was of especially, well, stellar value, came up with the idea for the Silver Snoopy Award in 1968. The Silver Snoopy Award is unusual in that it is actually awarded by astronauts, "'In Appreciation' For professionalism, dedication, and outstanding support that greatly enhanced space flight safety and mission success." The man responsible for coming up with the award was Al Chop, then the Director of Public Affairs for the Manned Spacecraft Centre, and the Award was supposed to help promote better and more positive interactions between the hundreds of thousands of people whose work was necessary to make each mission a success.
Mission Commander Jim Lovell, launch day, Apollo 13.
This brings us to Apollo 13, which is sometimes called NASA's most successful unsuccessful mission, and with good reason. The mission took place during a period when interest in the lunar missions had begun to wane somewhat, but something very attention-getting happened at 55:54:53 (fifty-five hours, fifty-four minutes, and 53 seconds Mission Elapsed Time). The actual incident is recorded as having occurred at exactly 03:06 UTC on 14 April 1970 (10:06 PM, April 13 EST). One of the two oxygen tanks in the Service Module exploded during a routine maintenance procedure – a "cryo-stir" of the tanks' interior, intended to keep the contents from settling – severely damaging the spacecraft and making completion of the mission impossible.
Jim Lovell inside the Lunar Module. Image, NASA.
The astronauts and ground crew were forced to come up with several creative solutions to get the astronauts home safely, including using the Lunar Excursion Module as a lifeboat. The LEM and Command Module remained connected to each other as both spacecraft looped around the Moon and headed back to Earth, and in what is probably the single most-talked-about use of a wristwatch chronograph in history, the astronauts used their Speedmasters to time a critical, 14-second mid-course firing of the LEM's rocket engine to correct their homeward trajectory. (This was an anxious moment for the crew and ground support staff for several reasons, not the least of which was that the LEM rocket engine had not been designed for such things and had rather been intended to support descent to the lunar surface. In the event, the burn went off without a hitch.)
Recovery of the Apollo 13 crew; behind, the Iwo Jima.
The burn was timed so accurately that Apollo 13's command module and her crew successfully splashed down only a mile from the intended recovery point and just three-and-a-half nautical miles from the recovery ship Iwo Jima. To acknowledge the contribution Omega's Speedmaster made to the successful completion of the mission, the crew presented a Silver Snoopy Award to Omega in 1970.
The Silver Snoopy Award presented to Omega by Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise, the Apollo 13 crew.
The Silver Snoopy Award, by the way, gets its name from a little silver pin that was given to the award recipient, which is in the shape of the spacesuit-clad dancing beagle. The pins had actually been to space – first, on the Apollo missions, and later they went aloft during Space Shuttle missions as well.
Surprisingly enough, it was not until some time later – 2003, to be exact – that Omega released the first Silver Snoopy Speedmaster. This was a pretty straightforward Speedmaster, but with the Silver Snoopy emblem on the dial and also on the caseback. The watch was made in a production run of 5,441 but despite the large number, they now sell for well over the original list price. One has to be rather careful in buying one, as there are a number out there which were born as normal Speedmasters, but which had the dials and casebacks swapped out later (Robert-Jan Broer has a terrific breakdown of the 2003 Snoopy, as well as dos and don'ts if you're looking for one).
Speedmaster Professional Snoopy ref. 3578.51 from 2003.
The other Snoopy Speedmaster was the more recent Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award. This watch was launched at Baselworld 2015 (typing that made me pause for a moment and reflect on how unforeseeable the next five years would be for the evolution of the show).
This was a limited edition of 1,970 pieces (1970 being the year that Omega was presented with the award by the Apollo 13 crew), and it features a silver image of Snoopy on the caseback, as well as on the dial. Unlike the jaunty spaceman Snoopy on the 2003 watch, the 2015 Snoopy is lying in a prone position (one imagines, on the roof of his doghouse, where his ability to remain balanced while asleep defied the laws of physics) and a thought bubble to the upper right of his head contains the words spoken by Ed Harris as NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz, in the film Apollo 13: "Failure is not an option." Snoopy himself is visible at night thanks to Super-LumiNova, and the words "What could you do in 14 seconds?" follow the second's track from 0 to 14 to commemorate the 14-second course correction engine burn the Speedmaster timed and which was essential for a safe return to Earth.
Interestingly enough, both Snoopy Speedmasters have become increasingly expensive in the pre-owned market. Back in 2013, before the advent of the Silver Snoopy Award Speedy, Robert-Jan Broer already had reason to lament the rarity of the 2003 Snoopy Speedmaster on the secondary market, as well as its rising cost. The Silver Snoopy Award Speedmaster has likewise become difficult to find, at least at anything you might consider a reasonable price based on its price at launch – rather an amazing outcome for a rather niche version of the Speedmaster. Last September at Sotheby's, for example, one of them hammered for $23,500, over a high estimate of $7,000.
Given a choice between the two, I would find it very, very difficult – I suppose for me the 2003 version will always be the Snoopy Speedmaster, and I love the exuberance of the image of Snoopy, which really seems to capture the optimism and can-do attitude of the Apollo era. The fact that the Silver Snoopy Speedmaster's Snoopy glows in the dark, however, is very difficult to resist – and it exudes a childlike charm which I think has much to do with why so many enthusiasts (including Revolution magazine's founder, Wei Koh, as seen in Talking Watches) find it so irresistible.
With a practical design backed by robust specs, TAG Heuer's latest Autavia is an ideal daily-wear option.
The Autavia name, a contraction of "automobile" and "aviation," has been associated with TAG Heuer, née Heuer, since the early 1930s, when the Swiss company produced a series of dashboard timers suitable for use in both cars and planes. It wasn't until Heuer ceased production of dashboard timing devices, though, that the Autavia name was first used in relation to wristwatches when Jack Heuer unveiled the Autavia chronograph in 1962.
Autavia Calibre 5 Chronometer WBE5114 Blue Dial On Leather Strap
And that's how most collectors and enthusiasts recognize the name today, as a chronograph. Yet, last spring, TAG Heuer revealed a collection of watches that reimagined how the classic chronograph should be perceived. Which means, just like the Autavia's chronograph sibling from the 1960s, the Carrera, the Autavia is now available as a three-hander with date, with a modern design and an entry-level price tag of around $3,000.
The TAG Heuer Autavia Calibre 5 Chronometer
While the Autavia's name may give the impression that the watch historically has spent equal amounts of time on the wrists of pilots and drivers, it's more accurate to say that it's seen more time at the track than above the clouds. This has all changed with the TAG Heuer Autavia Calibre 5 Chronometer, however, as it incorporates design elements associated with both traditional pilot's watches as well as military field-style timepieces. Take, for example, the bidirectional 60-minute bezel, enabling the quick and precise calculation of elapsed time, or the chunky sword hands and applied Arabic numerals on the dial, all filled with a significant amount of green Super-LumiNova, allowing for clear-cut legibility whether day or night. The knurled crown is oversize without being over-the-top, a reference to the larger crowns commonly found on watches meant for flight.
Autavia Calibre 5 Chronometer WBE5114 Black Dial On Bracelet
Protected by a domed sapphire crystal that has undergone an anti-reflective treatment, the gradient and textured dial of the new Autavia is complemented by a polished ceramic bezel that, when rotated in either direction, appears to display different shades of its rich color. At three o’clock, the crisp edges surrounding the bezel flow into two layers of knurling on the crown, which sits between the beveled lugs of the sleek stainless steel case that is water-resistant up to 100 meters. The brushed case profile gives off a matte feel that is appropriate for the watch's practical nature, especially compared to the fully polished case used to house the contemporary Autavia chronographs.
Autavia Calibre 5 Chronometer WBE5114 Blue Dial On Bracelet
These modern iterations of the Autavia wear smaller than their 42mm diameter might indicate, thanks to an overall slim case profile. The watches are available on either a brown leather strap or a robust stainless-steel bracelet constructed of fine-brushed and polished links with a double push-button deployant clasp. TAG Heuer has also outfitted the collection with a modular system for changing the watch band, similar to what's found on the brand's line of Connected smartwatches. This makes switching between the strap and bracelet a tool-less process.
Autavia Calibre 5 Chronometer WBE5114 Black Dial On Leather Strap
TAG Heuer has turned to its tried-and-tested caliber 5 for use here, a reliable workhorse of an automatic movement with 38 hours of running autonomy and accuracy specced by COSC, the official Swiss governing body of accuracy and precision in wristwatches. Currently, not many TAG Heuer watches are offered with a chronometer certification; in fact, these new Autavias will be the only COSC-certified watches from the brand in the HODINKEE Shop. Protecting the movement is a stainless steel case back engraved with a unique propeller and tire motif that pays tribute to the watch's historic identity.
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The Rolex Hulk Submariner – A History & Review
Introduced in 2010, the Rolex Reference 116610LV (aka the Rolex Submariner Hulk ) struck an immediate chord among horology lovers worldwide. That led at least a few folks to wonder why this particular reference was such an instant out-of-the-park home run. Was it the brilliant aesthetic? The downright addictive wearability? The top shelf functionality? The answer, of course, is all of the above and then some. Put simply, the Rolex Submariner Hulk is a veritable modern classic with over fifty years of history behind it. Collectors love it. Enthusiasts love it. People who don’t normally wear watches love it. Plus, it’s a Rolex.
Today, we’re going to explore the Rolex Submariner Hulk by diving into its backstory and then segueing into its perennial appeal. After all, we’re watch lovers ourselves, and like so any other collectors, we find ourselves utterly transfixed by this epic timepiece. Not only does the range itself represent the best of form and functionality, but Reference 116610LV in particular transcends mere catch words, achieving something akin to modern myth status. Read on to see how this stunning timepiece came to be, and why people all over the world simply can’t get enough of it.
History of the Rolex Submariner Hulk
Long before the debut of the Rolex Submariner Hulk, there came a slew of predecessors, most of them likewise known for their sturdy construction, premium features and striking designs. Meanwhile, unifying the entire range are some core specs like a water-resistant case with screw-down crown, and premium self-winding movement. But first, let’s go back to 1953. That’s when experienced diver (and Rolex board of directors member) René-Paul Jeanneret came up with the idea for a watch that could function underwater while retaining the aesthetic benchmarks of a sophisticated, everyday timepiece. The watch would distinguish itself from similar, water-resistant models by being a true diver’s watch, as in one that could survive deep sea plunges. To help achieves its goal, the watch would take design and construction cues from Panerai diver’s watches, Panerai having been a subsidiary of Rolex at the time. Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf was immediately on board with the idea.
To ensure nothing but the utmost tier of quality, Rolex consulted with famous diver Jacques-Yves Cousteau himself. Extensive testing followed. In one instance, Rolex attached its new diving watch to the hull of a deep-diving submarine that plunged no less than 3100 metres below the ocean’s surface. After the vessel returned from its journey, Wilsdorf was delighted to find that the watch was still intact and functional. Deeper dives would follow, with each watch duly staying the course.
Jump ahead to Basel Fair (now known as BaselWorld), 1954. Next to a sign that read “Submariner – the diver’s friend” was a beautiful wristwatch with a matte black dial, luminous hands and a rotating bezel. Water resistant up to 100 metres, the watch employed a screw-down crown by way of Twinlock engineering. Under the skin was automatic movement.
Later that year, Rolex released three different Submariner models. At the top of the line was Reference 6200, which touted self-winding calibre movement and water resistance up to 200 metres. The entire range was a hit to say the least, and Rolex had a new winner on their hands. Over the years that followed, the brand would incorporate crown guards and omnidirectional bezels, experiment with new materials, upgrade the movement, tweak the design, put the name “Submariner” on the dial and evolve in general. Then, in 2010, a new model was introduced: Reference 116610LV. Featuring a green Cerachrom bezel, hefty case lugs and a new bracelet, the watch was quickly dubbed the Rolex Submariner Hulk.
Why People Love The Rolex Submariner Hulk
When talking about green face Rolex watches, people love to toss around the term “form and function” to the point of overkill, and yet there’s probably no better way to capture the essence of the Rolex Submariner Hulk. That is to say the watch is both profoundly versatile and resoundingly stylish. Hence, it’s no wonder that collectors and enthusiasts alike simply drool over this legendary timepiece. For starters, they love the distinctive green colour on the watch’s unidirectional bezel and robust dial. Not only is that colour completely eye-catching in its own right, but fluid as well, going from bright green to dark green depending on lighting conditions. Adding a touch of contrast are luminescent hour markers with green trim. Those markers were constructed from 18 ct gold in order to best retain their lustre.
Of course, there’s so much more to the Rolex Submariner Hulk than its colourway. For example, the watch case is made of super durable 904L stainless steel, the same kind used in the aerospace industry. Flaunting similar levels of outright robustness and style is the comfortable Oyster bracelet, which snaps together by way of a Glidelock clasp, allowing for adjustments without the need for tools. Powering the watch is calibre 3135, a self-winding mechanical movement (built in-house) with a 48 hour power reserve. That’s joined by Submariner mainstays like the Triplock waterproof system and crown guard. Speaking of waterproof, this baby can plunge up to 300 metres without losing its functional stride. Put it all together and you have the makings of a modern masterpiece, with the acclaim and mystique to show for it.
Specs for the Rolex Submariner Hulk
Since the Rolex Submariner Hulk is indeed simply bursting with functionality, we figured we’d include the full spec sheet for your enjoyment. Check it out below:
MODEL CASE: Oyster, 40 mm, steel
OYSTER ARCHITECTURE: Monobloc middle case, screw-down case back and winding crown
DIAMETER: 40 mm
MATERIAL: 904L steel
BEZEL: Unidirectional rotatable 60-minute graduated, scratch-resistant Cerachrom insert in ceramic, numerals and graduations coated in platinum
WINDING CROWN: Screw-down, Triplock triple waterproofness system
CRYSTAL: Scratch-resistant sapphire, Cyclops lens over the date
WATER-RESISTANCE: Waterproof to 300 metres / 1,000 feet
MOVEMENT: Perpetual, mechanical, self-winding
CALIBRE: 3135, Manufacture Rolex
PRECISION: -2/+2 sec/day, after casing
FUNCTIONS: Centre hour, minute and seconds hands. Instantaneous date with rapid setting. Stop-seconds for precise time setting
OSCILLATOR: Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring
WINDING: Bidirectional self-winding via Perpetual rotor
POWER RESERVE: Approximately 48 hours
BRACELET: Oyster, flat three-piece links
BRACELET MATERIAL: 904L steel
CLASP: Folding Oysterlock safety clasp with Rolex Glidelock extension system
DIAL DETAILS: Highly legible Chromalight display with long-lasting blue luminescence
Superlative Chronometer (COSC + Rolex certification after casing)
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Today, we’re facing off two of the music industry’s biggest names – the one and only Hova, AKA Jay-Z, is going to have his watches pitted against none other than Champagne Papi himself, Drake.
There’s going to be four rounds in this horological heavyweight showdown, spread across four different categories – dress watch to die for, modded and murdered out mayhem, weekend warrior, and deathblow, the ultimate flex piece.
Whose watches will come out on top in this installment of Celebrity Death Match? There’s only one way to find out.
Dress watch to die for:
Jay-Z – Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra-Thin Tribute to 1931 Pink Gold Ref. 2782521
A more classic dress watch we struggle to think of. Jay-Z’s JLC is a straight-up killer choice for the myriad red carpets the hip hop mogul would find himself on. In fact, the Reverso, although not initially designed as a dress watch, today may well be one of the archetypal models of the genre. This Reverso, in particular, the uber-rare Ultra-Thin Tribute to 1931 Pink Gold Ref. 2782521, just oozes class. Big props to J-Hova.
Drake – Richard Mille RM 07-01 Pink Gold
To use a very vogue exclamation… Oof. Talk about flamboyant dress watch, eh? Canadian megastar Drake really is, if you weren’t already aware, one of the strongest celebrity proponents of Richard Mille on the planet. This solid pink gold RM 07-01 is a provocative watch, thanks to its Cuban-style bracelet, full-factory diamond drip and overall feminine aesthetic. There aren’t many people on earth that can pull off this timepiece, especially in the context of a dress watch, but Champagne Papi rocks it with aplomb.
Verdict – Jay-Z’s Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra-Thin Tribute to 1931 Pink Gold Ref. 2782521
Modded and murdered out mayhem:
Jay-Z – Rolex Datejust Perpetual Calendar by Franck Muller
I have such a vivid and palpable hatred for almost modded watches in existence… but this one is different. Take one solid 18k gold Rolex Ref.16238, give it to the master of complications himself, Franck Muller, and what you end up with is the only Rolex Perpetual Calendar in the world. Back in the late ’80s, Muller made this one-off wonder for a dear friend, and now Jay-Z owns it. The historical importance of this watch cannot be understated and, once again, much like the aforementioned JLC, this timepiece offers a glimpse into the highly discerning nature of Jay-Z’s watch collection — the man hath some taste.
Drake – Patek Philippe Nautilus Annual Calendar Ref. 5726
You know how I just said I despise pretty much all modified watches… well, this is why. What we have here is a gorgeous Patek Philippe Nautilus Annual Calendar Ref.5726, one of the nicest watches money can buy, and it’s been taken by a talentless CEO of a brand nobody is going to care about in a decade, and destroyed. This watch has about as much tact as a booze-fuelled brawl on Kuta Beach… that is to say, none at all. The gem setting looks haphazard, the all-black treatment is lazy, and all this watch says about Aubrey Drake Graham is that he’s got more money than sense.
Verdict – Jay-Z’s Rolex Datejust Perpetual Calendar by Franck Muller
Jay-Z – Shawn Carter By Hublot Classic Fusion Black Ceramic
Way back in 2013, Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) — as part of his collaborative installation with Barneys of New York, “A New York Holiday” — released this limited edition Shawn Carter By Hublot Classic Fusion. Finished in all-black ceramic with the Shawn Carter logo etched into the dial, partially exposing the manually wound manufacture Calibre HUB1300 movement, this is a pretty cool weekend beater, especially considering it’s got Jay’s own name printed on the dial.
Drake – Rolex Day-Date Ref. 228398TBR
I know, the concept of a solid 18k yellow gold, diamond-bezelled, diamond-dialed Rolex Day-Date as a daily beater is an overtly foreign concept to most of us, but when you’ve got an estimated net worth of a quarter of a billion Aussie dollars, a circa $130 grand Rolex is just a drop in the ocean. I’ve got to give Drake some kudos for this watch, it’s an all-time classic, and with the bezel and dial configuration, this Day-Date is actually a very hard watch to find. It’s also nice to see Drake rocking some with factory ice, as opposed to the aforementioned monstrosity.
Verdict – Drake’s Rolex Day-Date Ref. 228398TBR
Deathblow, the ultimate flex piece:
Jay-Z – Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300G
When news and subsequent photos broke out onto the interwebs late last year that Jay-Z had rocked a Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300G to Sean “P.Diddy” Combs’ 50th birthday party, it shook the watch world to its core. I don’t care what you say, rocking a watch worth $3.8 million Aussie dollars to your mate’s birthday party is the ultimate flex… as is the watch. Arguably one of the finest timepieces ever constructed, this is the cherry on Jay-Z’s collection cake, the final pièce de résistance, and an unmatchable flex that exudes the very uppermost echelon of haute horology. What a watch, what a man.
Drake – Richard Mille RM 69 Erotic Tourbillon
It ain’t no Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300G, but Drake’s ultimate flex watch, this Richard Mille RM 69 Erotic Tourbillon, is still a unique piece of watchmaking. Not only has the extroverted timepiece’s tourbillon movement been co-developed with Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi, it also features what Richard Mille calls the “Oracle” complication, which is a mechanism that sees the rotation of three grade 5 titanium engraved tablets, which each display a word with a palpable level of innuendo. This RM presents as a real dichotomy – on the one hand, the message presented on the dial is almost laughable, but both the movement behind the absurd dial, as well as the watch’s price (well over $1,000,000 AUD) are about as serious as it gets. One thing’s for sure, though, you’ve got to have quite the ego to strap this amatory device to your wrist.
Verdict – Jay-Z’s Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300G
So, there you have it, Jay-Z has emerged victorious from this horological fight to the death, his far superior taste for timepieces wholeheartedly trounced Drake’s affinity for RM… I wonder who will be next on the hit list?
Not the most commonly seen Rolex, but also one of the boldest.
Justin Timberlake is best known to people around the world for his time as a member of the mega-successful boy band NSYNC and as a solo artist. During his career, he has won a total of 10 Grammys and sold over 32 million albums. In addition to music, Timberlake is an actor and has starred in notable films such as The Social Network, Friends with Benefits and Trolls. As far as watches go, Timberlake is no newcomer and has been spotted wearing Audemars Piguet and Rolex watches in the past. And a couple of days ago, it was yet another crown-branded model we spotted.
Justin Timberlake appeared on The Ellen Show last Wednesday and was sporting a less commonly seen model from the Rolex catalogue. For those wondering what was on Ellen’s wrist, she was wearing a Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time 5164A from her vast (to say the least) collection of timepieces.
The model in question is the Milgauss Reference 116400GV Z-Blue. The Milgauss was initially released in 1956 and was designed to be worn by scientists and engineers who worked in environments with strong magnetic fields. The Milgauss was able to withstand 1,000 gauss or 80,000 A/m and the watch derives its name from mille, French for 1,000, and the measurement of a magnetic field, gauss. After being discontinued in 1989, Rolex brought back a modern version at Baselworld 2007.
Timberlake owns the Z-Blue version of the Milgauss, which was introduced at Baselworld 2014. In addition to the unique green sapphire crystal, which was a watchmaking first when released in 2007, the watch has a striking blue dial, which Rolex calls Z-Blue (the Z stands for zirconium, used in the process to create the dial hue). It also features a contrasting orange seconds hand, shaped like a lightning bolt, which is a nod to the original Reference 6541. Like the original watch from 1956, the modern Milgauss can withstand magnetic fields up to 1,000-gauss, thanks to the soft iron cage which protects the Calibre 3131 movement and parts of the escapement which are made from anti-magnetic materials. If you want to win this watch, click here to buy tickets.
Lots of enthusiasts, when they first get into watches, ask themselves the question “Where does the ‘high end’ really start?” It’s not as simple as just taking cost into consideration – we can all think of brands that sell watches at massive mark-ups with components that are readily available on watches that sell for a fraction of the cost. A case can be made, I think, that in terms of traditional Swiss watches, from a big brand, high-end watches begin with the entry-level offerings from Omega. They offer tons of history and real, authentic heritage (if that’s your thing), timeless and traditional styles, and a truly excellent in-house movement with some of the best technology in the industry. This is a tough to beat proposition under $6,000, and Omega has a few distinct lines that check all of these boxes. Today we’re looking at a few new additions to their classic, everyday sports watch, the Seamaster Aqua Terra.
Case Material: Stainless steel
Dial: Blue, green
Water Resistance: 150 meters
Crown: Screw down
Movement: Master Chronometer Calibre 8900
Strap/bracelet: Bracelet, leather strap
Price: $5,400 – $5,700
Reference Number: 126.96.36.199.03.004, 188.8.131.52.10.001
Expected Release: Available now
The Seamaster umbrella now covers watches that run the gamut from hardcore professional divers, to heritage inspired tribute pieces, to modern dive watches aimed squarely at the mass market. The Aqua Terra line is the most land-based entry in the Seamaster lineup (no surprise given the name), and while it doesn’t feature a dive bezel or helium escape valve, with 150 meters of water resistance it will have no trouble standing up to just about any water based activity a regular person would typically partake in. This is Omega’s refined, everyday, sports watch, a timepiece genre that Omega practically invented.
The new versions of the Aqua Terra seem inspired by spring color schemes, with blue and olive green dials that incorporate the horizontal “teak” pattern that Omega has favored in this line for several years now, and is meant to conjure the wooden decks of luxury sailboats. This gives you an idea of the use case for an Aqua Terra – it’s more deck chairs and cocktails than dive suits and oxygen tanks.
Where previous versions of the Aqua Terra incorporated ever so subtle crown guards in the form of a case that bent just slightly toward asymmetrical on the right side, this newest generation of Aqua Terras has done away with that look, and now boasts a cleaner and more classically shaped case. The date window has also been moved to the 6:00 position, enhancing symmetry further. The finishing on the 41mm case mixes brushed and polished elements with precise transitions that are typical of Omega. They’ve been at this for a long time, and seem to have perfected the process of achieving this level of finishing on a mass scale.
Assuming you like the styling of the watch, the Aqua Terra’s not-so-secret weapon (and the factor that makes it that entry point to the high end discussed above), is the Master Chronometer Calibre 8900 movement beating away inside. Using Omega’s George Daniels derived co-axial escapement, this movement is METAS certified for timekeeping and resistance to magnetism. It’s packed with technology and built to be durable and provide years of worry free service (one of the key benefits of the co-axial escapement is less wear and tear on components, thus reduced service intervals). At $5,700 on a bracelet, this is a lot of watch for the money, and doesn’t skimp on real, high end horology. Omega
When it comes to G-Shock, the first thing that comes to mind, of course, is three things – strength, power and a unique Japanese style that is not found in other watch manufacturers.