Family-owned Breitling, one of the last remaining truly independent watch concerns, has sold to CVC Capital Partners, the Luxembourg-based private equity firm for an amount believed to be US$870 million ($1.1 billion).
CVC will acquire an 80 per cent stake in the watchmaker with owner Theodore Schneider “re-investing” and retaining 20 per cent of the company which began in 1884.
Breitling operates two manufacturing facilities, in Grenchen and La Chaux-de-Fonds and is famed for its pilot watches.
Schneider is quoted in European media at the weekend saying, “I am convinced CVC is the right partner to elevate Breitling to the next level. CVC’s expertise, track-record, and international network will help unlock Breitling’s full potential.”
Other reports suggest China is seen as a market of great potential to the brand, one whose mostly larger-sized watches have not been a natural choice there to this point.
Breitling reported sales of some $420 million last year but has been rumoured to be up for sale for some time. It is one of the few brands not belonging to the four luxury conglomerates: Richemont, the Swatch Group, LVMH and to a lesser extent Kering.
Gift-giving season is upon us and you know what’s better than unwrapping a luxury watch? Getting a coordinating pair of timepieces to share with your better half, of course! So if you agree that two is better than one, then read on for matching his and her watches to nail holiday shopping this year.
Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time
The perfect set for the jet-set couple, this duo of rose gold Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time watches are essentially the same except for their sizes. The ref. 5524 for him measures a generous 42mm case while the ref. 7234 for her measures a more restrained 37.5mm. Housed inside the Calatrava Pilot Travel cases are brown dials with oversized center hands—including one 12-hour hand for local time and one 24-hour hand for home time—that point to large and luminous numerals. Accompanying the dual time indication are two apertures to display day or night in each time zone and powering both Patek pilot’s watches is the automatic Caliber 324 S C FUS movement.
If there’s one thing Cartier is brilliant at, it is creating gender-neutral watch designs to be enjoyed by everyone. And the new Santos-Dumont collection exemplifies Maison Cartier’s approach. Featuring square bezels, leather straps, and classic Cartier dials with Roman numerals and blue sword-shaped hands, the Santos-Dumont watches are available in a variety of sizes, materials, and colorways to suit a range of tastes—making it is simple to pick a matching his and her watch set. Plus, for couples who seek practicality in their timepieces, the Santos-Dumont watches run on high autonomy quartz movements with six-year battery life.
Rolex GMT-Master II
The GMT-Master collection has been a part of the Rolex catalog since 1955, yet, last year was the first time the Crown offered Everose gold—the brand’s proprietary rose gold alloy—versions of the famed pilot watches. Whether the full Everose gold GMT-Master II 126715 or the two-tone Everose gold and stainless steel GMT-Master II 126711, the pinkish hue of the precious metal complements the black and brown ceramic bezels sitting on top of the well-proportioned 40mm cases beautifully. And if either of you has to travel to another time zone, the arrow-tipped 24-hour hand can be set to keep track of what time it is back home.
Hublot Classic Fusion Orlinski
Designed in collaboration with Richard Orlinski, the Hublot Classic Fusion Orlinski collection is ideal for the art and watch-loving twosome. Dressed in the artist’s signature dramatic lines made up of fab facets and bold bevels, the Classic Fusion Orlinski watches feature 40mm cases in either titanium or King Gold (Hublot’s proprietary 18k red gold alloy) and with or without diamonds. Pick a pair in the same metals to be completely coordinated or in contrasting ones so you can switch whenever the mood strikes. Whichever way you go, these are modern dress watches that bring some edge.
The sturdy and reliable Superocean Heritage II B01 Chronograph, brought to you from the renowned house of Breitling, is designed to endure the most challenging of voyages. Crafted from highly polished stainless steel, the 44 mm case contains a shimmering silver dial, adorned with luminescent steel-toned baton indexes and arrow-shaped hour and minute hands, for high visibility in dark waters
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A synthesis of sophisticated elegance, historic roots, and Italian design, since 2016 the Luminor Due has been the tangible expression of Panerai’s unceasing technical- aesthetic development. Today, the Luminor Due-42mm turns to gold with the Panerai Goldtech taking center stage.
The case, the bezel, the Safety LockTM crown protective device, the back and the buckle are formed of alchemy-like fusions of Panerai GoldtechTM—a special 18-carat gold alloy with an original composition which is notable for its high percentage of copper as well as the presence of platinum. The purpose of the copper is to give the color intensity and depth, while the platinum is there to lower the tarnishing effects of oxidation.
It has a mechanical movement with automatic winding and meets the requirement of being very practical and suitable for everyday use, while at the same time being a watch which is visually superb.
Powering the watch is the new P.900 Calibre, which fits perfectly into the small size of the Luminor Due case. Visible through the sapphire crystal back, with its thickness of just 4.2 mm it is today one of Panerai’s thinnest automatic movements. Entirely developed and assembled at the Panerai Manufacture in Neuchâtel, the automatic movement with such a small diameter, combines the functions of date, small seconds and a power reserve of three days.
Water-resistant to 3 bar the new Luminor Due – 42 mm watches are supplied with an interchangeable alligator leather strap fitted with the Quick Release System and a Panerai GoldtechTM clasp buckle. The strap comes in black with tone-on-tone sewing or dark brown with beige sewing.
The timeless classic worn by Steve McQueen. Like the race and city it's named for, the Monaco is the epitome of elegance and prestige with a vintage flair. The world’s first automatic chronograph became legendary after Steve McQueen sported it in the classic 1970 Hollywood racing film “Le Mans.” It's the ultimate watch for those living life in the fast lane. Lights, camera, ACTION !
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One of Cartier's biggest recent hits, now with a chronograph.
In the two years since its re-introduction, the redesigned Cartier Santos has become a favorite here in the HODINKEE offices. It's easy to understand why. The Santos is a timeless design from a classic house – maybe the most classic house – and it's also one of the most conveniently packaged watches to come along in a bit. It's fresh and stylish, but definitely grounded in a familiar design language with which generations of watch lovers can identify.
If 2018 was all about the revised Santos de Cartier collection, 2019 has been about the introduction of two new Santos lines, the quartz-powered Santos Dumont and the mechanical Santos Chronograph. It's the latter of these that we have the pleasure of going hands on with today. I think that of the famous non-round Cartier designs, the Santos design is particularly well-suited to being interpreted as a chronograph, making it one watch I have been very excited to take a closer look at since first seeing it at SIHH earlier this year.
My first impression upon trying on the Cartier Santos Chronograph was its substantial feel on the wrist. This is a watch that measures 43.3 mm from side to side, and like any square timepiece, its shape adds to the watch's imposing character. Having said that, this Santos is only 12.5mm thick. It doesn't feel bulky; to the contrary, it wears low and stable on the wrist, but you definitely know it's there. The 43.3mm case size is what Cartier refers to as the XL within the Santos range, and I can see the smaller wristed among us struggling a bit to pull it off. Three different executions of the Santos Chronograph currently exist, all in the XL size and covering a wide spread of prices. I can easily imagine these diverse offerings appealing to a wide range of watch buyers. The collection opens with a stainless-steel version with a bezel made of ADLC ($8,950) that is downright sporty, and continues to include a dressier yellow-gold-bezeled steel version ($13,500), and then tops out with a solid rose-gold execution ($24,700) that is pure luxury.
One of my favorite aspects of the Santos Chronograph is the way that the chronograph features are integrated into the watch as a whole without disrupting the lines of a famous watch design. Obviously, this applies to the markings on the dial as well as to the buttons on the case, but let's take a look a the case first. Like other models in the the revised Santos de Cartier collection, the Santos Chronograph features a screwed-down, squared bezel. But, whereas previous examples featured a simple square bezel screwed right on top of the watch to frame the dial, the new Santos Chronograph has a version with "hoods" at the 6 and 12 o'clock positions, better integrating with the watch's bracelet when there is one. The Santos Chronograph also features an unconventional arrangement for the chronograph pushers that elegantly integrates with the watch's design, while remaining easy to use. One starts and stops the chronograph with a discreetly placed pusher on the caseband at the 9 o'clock position. The chronograph reset function is integrated into the crown at 3 o'clock. And the watch comes with an ample 100 meters of water resistance – more than enough for the activities I imagine most owners of this watch aim to do with it, and a very respectable number for any chronograph, really.
The dials of each version feature a silvered satin finish and large Roman numerals around the perimeter. A 30-minute counter takes up the 3 o'clock position, and a 12-hour counter can be found at nine. The running seconds sub-dial occupies a smaller position at 6 o'clock. The date is there as well. The large chronograph sub-dials and the discreet use of SuperLuminova on the hands and hour markers make for a legible design.
All of the models in the Santos Chronograph collection feature Cartier's "QuickSwitch" system, which allows for simple changing of straps and bracelets without a tool. And the bracelets themselves feature the SmartLink adjustment system. One of my biggest complaints about bracelets on watches is that, with few exceptions, they don't accommodate seasonal variations in wrist size. With the "SmartLink" bracelet found on the latest lineup of Santos watches, popping a link in or out is simple. In fact, and this goes for the whole Santos collection, one of the best things about these watches are the bracelets. Not only do they look great and feel great, but their easy interchangeability also recognizes the fact that not everyone wanting to change out straps owns a spring-bar tool, or wants to risk using one on a brand-new Cartier.
The inclusion of these two systems is particularly relevant in a day and age when people more and more buy watches online. Anyone capable of unboxing their Santos is equally capable of sizing and changing the bracelet – no trip to a jeweler or watchmaker required. The steel and ADLC version comes with one strap in rubber and a second strap in black Gomma alligator leather with steel folding buckle. The two-tone gold-and-steel Santos has a steel bracelet featuring the “SmartLink” adjustment system and a second strap in rubber with steel folding buckle. And the all-rose-gold version comes with a strap in dark gray semi-matte alligator leather and second in rubber with 18k pink-gold folding buckle.
The movement powering the Santos Chronograph is the in-house caliber 1904 CH MC, an excellent self-winding column-wheel chronograph that has been part of the company's movement family since 2012. It was the work of Carol Forestier, a complications specialist whose name really needs no introduction to readers of this site. It's power reserve of 48 hours does put the 1904 CH MC toward the lower end of what one might expect of a (fairly) recently designed and released in-house chronograph movement, but that isn't a big concern to me considering the fact that it winds automatically and has powerful daily-wear watch appeal, particularly in the steel/ADLC and two-tone executions.
The Santos Chronograph is one of those watches that you have to put on your wrist to fully understand, I think. There will probably be those who see the XL case size designation and read the 43.3mm square case specification and succumb to the urge to count this watch out before they give it a chance, but that would be a mistake. In my opinion, this is the best-executed version of an iconic, non-round Cartier case shape in chronograph form.
Being as true to its namesake as a professional divers watch as it is to being a timeless style icon not much can come close to the Omega Seamaster Watch. Featuring a 41 mm stainless steel case this bold watch has a specification second to none. Omega has managed to successfully combine a high-quality timepiece and exceedingly masculine piece of jewellery into one amazing package which is no easy task, this watch has it all.
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Of the hundreds of thousands of wristwatches that have been created over the last century, how many are truly iconic? The answer: honestly, not many … not many at all.
Candidly, there are probably fewer than 50 timepieces of the last 100 years that can claim to have had an impact on the zeitgeist of the horological industry.
TAG Heuer’s Monaco is one of those watches – it captured a time and place in history so resolutely (think Steve McQueen and Le Mans) that it continues to be lauded to this day.
However, this icon is in the midst of a pivotal transition.
You see, it’s the Monaco’s 50 birthday this year, and just like you and I will experience a mid-life crisis, it too is going through some serious changes.
It hasn’t gone out and bought itself a Porsche and eloped with its secretary for pastures new, but it has acquired something shiny and expensive, and it’s causing quite the stir.
Housed inside its familiar square case that we all know and love, the Monaco is, for the first time since 1969, being powered by an in-house movement, the Calibre 02.
First released in TAG’s storied Autavia back in 2017, the Calibre 02 is the result of years of development at the Swiss marque’s watchmaking headquarters in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
There are some big talking points with this new movement, and chief among them is that the chronograph complication features both a column wheel and vertical clutch.
That’s a fair amount of tech in a watch that will set you back less than £5,000 GBP, but the movement’s features don’t end there. It also benefits from no less than 80 hours of power reserve, 33 jewels and a traditional operating frequency of 28,800 (4Hz) vibrations per hour.
Now, while all this sounds impressive on paper, what you really want to know is what this watch is like on the wrist, right?
Well, for a start, let me say that the watch’s dial is a complete success, honouring and capturing the essence of its 50-year legacy while forging a new path that blends old world with new.
The signature sunburst blue dial, which TAG now calls “petroleum blue”, is beautiful, radially brushed and dripping with character.
And the two sub-dials, located at three o’clock and nine o’clock and displaying a 30-minute counter and a 12-hour counter respectively, are finished in a contrasting white with red accents, which harkens back to the original timepiece.
Located at six o’clock you’ll find a small, sectoring cross-hairs that display the running sub-seconds, and slotted just below that is the narrow and unassuming date aperture.
The overriding aesthetic of the dial is well judged and evenly proportioned. It isn’t overly cluttered or illegible, it deals with its timekeeping complications with grace.
Capping the dial is a protruding, ever-so-slightly domed sapphire crystal which is treated with an anti-reflective coating, ensuring maximum levels of clarity and offering a good amount of vintage flair, reminiscent of the early Monacos and their acrylic crystal.
Speaking of sapphire crystal, TAG has decided to bestow the Calibre Heuer 02’s case-back with the same material, so you get a great opportunity to check out the new movement, replete with its skeletonised rotor, Geneva stripes and bright red column wheel.
Thanks to the aforementioned column wheel and vertical clutch, interacting with the chronograph complication is a joy, with both pushers offering good tactility and an assured ‘click’ when being used.
The signature stainless steel case, which features both brushed and polished elements, maintains its traditional 39x39mm dimensions. However, as a result of the powerful new movement, the case thickness has swelled somewhat, now close to being 16mm thick.
So, unless your shirt and jacket both hang looser than a wizard’s sleeve, there’s no way this new timepiece is tucking underneath a cuff.
That may be an issue for some, but thankfully, the remit of the Monaco isn’t that of a dress watch – it’s meant for more dynamic and less formal contexts.
Attached to the iconic timepiece is a harmonising blue alligator leather band with stainless steel deployant clasp. These wrist accoutrements complement the watch nicely; however, there is one small gripe, and it’s to do with the steel deployant clasp. It’s quite sharp in places — all the edges haven’t been rounded off. It’s actually so much of an issue that I scratched myself rather badly a couple of times on it.
Now I know, most of you are probably reading this and thinking, “drink some cement and harden up” … and you might have a point. But, for a watch that carries with it a £4,395 price tag, this really shouldn’t happen; it’s an unfortunate oversight that TAG needs to address.
It’s not a deal-breaker, however; far from it. The new TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre Heuer 02 is compelling and, as far as iconic timepieces go, the cost of admission is not only reasonable, it’s enticing.