Sign of the Times: All The Latest Watch News
The watch news, launches, collaborations and innovations that you need to know about.
Help For Heroes
British watch name Avi-8 has just launched its new, limited-edition collaboration with Help For Heroes, the AVI-8 Flyboy Engineer Automatic. A classic 42mm pilot’s watch, it features a tri-coloured tab (navy blue, red and light blue) at 12 o’clock to nod to the three sections of the British Armed Forces: the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force. A moulded roundel inspired by the markings on British WW2 fighters sits on the edge of the conical crown, and inside there’s a dependable Japanese NH35 automatic movement. With only 300 pieces available, a portion of the sale from every watch will go to Help For Heroes, the charity offering lifelong support to personnel and veterans of the British Armed Forces. £265, avi-8.co.uk
Colour Me Beautiful
Not since the 1970s has the watch world seen such a riot of colour as it’s experiencing right now. Forty years ago Rolex was matching its gold Day-Date models with enamel Stella dials in bold tones, and has again opened the paintbox to dramatic and delightful effect. Its suite of 36mm Oyster Perpetuals in cheery shades of pink, mustard yellow, coral, turquoise and racing green are a tonic for 2020’s gloom. The stainless steel Oyster Perpetual is a much humbler piece than the Day-Date, but the colour pops are if anything even stronger, while the 36mm sizing ensures unisex appeal that’s equally au courant. £4,450. rolex.com
Is It A Bird?
Early next year, Rolls-Royce is aiming to break the speed record for electric aircraft with its zero- emissions plane, the Spirit of Innovation. Brit luxury player Bremont will be on board as Official Timing Partner, and has even machined cockpit parts at its Henley factory. For flight fans, meanwhile, comes the handsome Bremont ‘ionBird’, named after the technology propelling the plane. Its lightweight titanium case, GMT display for two time zones, and chronometer rating, make it the high-tech flying watch par excellence. £4,495. bremont.com
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Polaris range, inspired by the 1960s dive watch of the same name, curiously lacked a capable modern dive number. No longer. The Mariner Memovox meets professional dive watch standards, with a 300-metre depth rating plus the vibrating buzz of the mechanical Memovox alarm to remind you to resurface. It carries the sheen of hand-crafted luxury, with the movement on show and a dial of inkiest blue. Its ‘face’ is Benedict Cumberbatch, who enjoys the spiritual aspects of both freediving and meditation. He wears it well. £15,800. jaeger-lecoultre.com
With the world effectively grounded, a travel watch seems either anachronistic or romantic – the latter surely the case with Patek Philippe’s cultishly popular pilot-style watches. There’s something of the glamour of historic travel running through the design, while the GMT hand gives you a second time zone. The latest incarnation, in white gold with a grey-blue dial, is classed as a women’s watch at 37.5mm, though only recently that was about par for the brand’s men’s watches and I’d happily sport this one. £37,350. patek.com
You wouldn’t expect anything understated from a watch called the Sparkling Blast – nor do you get it with this cool-as-ice fusion of technique and design, plus a sprinkling of snow. The Blast’s X-shaped skeleton architecture centres around a flying tourbillon, with both case and movement coated in 211 diamonds, cut in free-form shards that complement the tessellated contours of the case. CHF 410,000 (around £345,800). ulysse-nardin.com
The Oris mixture of winning design and dependable value takes a leap forwards with this dive watch containing the brand’s new in-house automatic movement. It delivers a whopping power reserve of five days – wear it only at weekends and it’ll still be running after the working week – and enhanced anti-magnetism to fend off interference from pesky digital devices. Most impressive is the ten-year warranty – twice that of Rolex or Omega, with a recommended service interval to match. £2,600. oris.ch
For those getting in touch with their inner Tom Cruise (aren’t we all), IWC is launching a commercial version of the chronograph it makes exclusively for graduates of the US Navy’s Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor (SFTI) programme – better known as Top Gun. A limited-edition variation on the popular Pilot’s Watch Chronograph, it’s cased in matte black ceramic, with the back in ceratanium, a titanium/ceramic composite. So, it’s lightweight and extremely tough, as you’d expect for something designed for the pilots of supersonic jets. The olive- green textile strap adds further military edge to a watch that’s all about the need for speed. £9,400. iwc.com
In A Whirl
‘Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel…’ Noel Harrison’s famous lyrics could apply equally to the latest Royal Oak Concept watch from Audemars Piguet – the Frosted Gold Flying Tourbillon – or to the spiralling form of the brand’s extraordinary new museum, the Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet, in its historic Swiss home town of Le Brassus. Designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, the museum provides a light-filled showcase for 145 years of Audemars watchmaking, including the atelier where the firm’s most complex timepieces are handmade. Tours can be booked through the brand’s website and, should you make it out there, you’ll have a sensational place to stay as well: Audemars Piguet bought the village hotel, knocked it down and had Ingels design its luxurious replacement. Ingels took the museum’s form from the spiral hairspring found in mechanical watches; it’s perhaps also behind the concentric circles fanning around the watch dial. The hand-hammered ‘frosted’ finish developed by jewellery artist Carolina Bucci, and the sculptural beauty of the dial, give a jewel-like quality that is unique in watchmaking. CHF 145,000 (around £122,290). audemarspiguet.com
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