A watch collection: Classic pieces to build a collection

Anyone looking to build a watch collection that has a sense of personality look no further than these classic icons:

1) Omega Speedmaster reference #311.30.42.30.01.005

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Every watch collection should include a Speedmaster. This piece has been to the moon and back. A classic icon that has changed very little since 1957 and is flight qualified for all manned space missions, hard to argue with that.

 

2) Rolex Submariner Date reference #116610LN

The Rolex submariner is probably one of the most recognizable watches on the face of the earth and has earned a reputation for being a solid, rugged piece that looks great when wearing a suit, or jeans and a t-shirt on the weekend. The perfect mix of dressy and sporty at the same time.

3) Brietling Navitimer 01 reference #AB012012|BB01|435X|A20BA.1

The Breitling Navitimer is the original professional pilot watch conceived in the early 1950’s and has changed very little aesthetically since then. It has a slide rule bezel that can be used to perform complex calculations for wind speed and fuel consumption (if your a pilot you will actually know how to use it) otherwise its a classic looking watch that will never go out of style.

4) Jaeger Le-Coultre Reverso 976 reference #3738420

Grande Reverso 976

The Jaeger Le-Coultre Reverso 976. With its art deco face and arabic numerals this is the original polo watch used by the british in colonial India with a face that swivels to reveal a solid caseback that protects the front of the watch. This piece comes in many variations but this is one of the cleanest and most classic interpretations.

5) IWC Portuguese Chronograph reference #IW371446

IW371446 Watch Front

A great looking balanced dial with blue hands and numerals with a matching blue crocodile strap makes a great business casual dress watch.

6) Audemar Piguet Royal Oak 41mm watch reference #15400ST.OO.1220ST.01

Royal Oak Selfwinding, Watch Reference 15400ST.OO.1220ST.01

The Royal Oak designed by the late Gerald Genta in 1970 this watch has a cult following and at 41mm makes for the perfect sporty dress watch. It’s iconic octagonal case set with 8 gold screws and hand engine turned dial make for a luxurious understated watch.

7) Panerai Luminor Base Logo Acciaio reference #PAM00000

The classic Panerai Luminor model. a 44mm watch that was originally used by Italian Frog men (combat divers during ww2). Instantly recognizable for its large oversized crown guard. This is a bold, masculine watch.

8) Cartier Tank MC reference #W5330004

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Cartier has been making classic refined dress watches since the early 1900’s. This modern re-interpretation of the classic Cartier Tank model features an updated size with the signature blue sapphire crown, a hallmark of the “king of jewellers, and jeweller to kings” The bold roman numerals really make this icon a striking piece.

 

 

 

 

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Omega Speedmaster Mark II 1969 Re-edition

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In 2014 Omega released a Speedmaster that caught my attention. The watch seen above is referred to as the Speedmaster Mark II (reference# 327.10.43.50.06.001) and was released as a re-edition from 1969. The obvious advantage to the modern reinterpretation of the classic is the Co-axial technology being used in the modern lineup of Omega timepieces.

The case measures 42.4 x 46.2 mm in diameter and has a satin brushed stainless steel case as well as bracelet. The case is tonneau and tapers to an oval shape to the sides of the hooded lugs and does a great job of pulling off the vintage case design that was popular in the late 60’s and early 70’s seen in a plethora of sporty racing inspired chronographs.

An interesting design feature of this watch is the tachymeter scale which goes right to the edge of the case and is placed under the sapphire crystal. The scale has a cool feature it glows a nice deep green in the dark due to it being treated with lume and gives it a unique look in low lighting conditions.

The overall look and feel of this watch is awesome. The charcoal black dial and red applied markers and chronograph seconds hand make for a strong contrast and gives this piece a great sporty feel to it.

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The movement being used is the Omega caliber 3330 and it’s a self-winding chronograph with column-wheel mechanism and co-axial escapement for greater precision, stability and overall durability of the movement. The balance spring is made from Si14 or silicon thus allowing the watch to be less affected by temperature changes as well as magnetism.

The movement is chronometer rated ensuring that it will keep great time over the course of many years to come. The technology being used in this watch is a great direction for Omega as it offers a lot of watch for your money. This watch comes with a full four year warranty (on the movement) which few other brands in the industry can offer, given that the standard tends to be two years international for the vast majority of brands these days.

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The asking price for the Speedmaster Mark II is $6,250.00 and with the current state of the higher valuation of the Swiss Franc recently, expect the USD as well as CAD prices to increase in the months to come.

The watch comes in two variations one with white applied markers and the model seen above with the red. I am pleased with the direction that Omega has been taking when it comes to re-editions. This is an Omega Speedmaster in a modern format with just the right splash of vintage feel to it.

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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 41mm Review

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Audemars Piguet is the oldest family owned and operated watch company located in Le Brassus in the Vallee De Joux, Switzerland. It has been in existence since 1875 making fine hand crafted timepieces producing under 30,000 pieces per year for the worldwide market.

Audemars Piguet did something revolutionary back in the 1970’s they created the world’s first “luxury sports watch” made in stainless steel and selling for what the price of a gold watch would go for back then. This watch was conceived by the late watch designer Gerald Genta and was introduced as the Royal Oak.

Since the inception of the Royal Oak it has become a cult icon and has earned its place on the wrists of serious watch collectors the world over. It belongs to the “holy trinity” of watch-making just behind the likes of Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin making it one of the top 3 watch companies in the world.

The watch worn on my wrist above is priced at $21,500 in stainless steel. That is a hard number to swallow considering that the watch is made out of stainless steel. The reason for the high price tag you ask? Well one has to understand that almost 40% of the value of the watch is due to the hands on labour intensive dial making, polishing, and movement finishing that goes into creating the Royal Oak. The watch case alone has three different types of finishing with a fine brushed, matte, and mirrored polish which is all done by hand!

The bracelet is a work of art and feels great on the wrist with a nice heft and overall high-end feel to it. The bracelet is brushed and polished between the links and tapers perfectly from the sides of the 41mm case and features a double deployant clasp as added security to ensure the watch won’t easily fall off the wrist.

Collectors and watch enthusiasts alike will recognize this watch from afar due to its distinct hexagon shaped bezel and beautiful engine-turned Grand Tapisserie dial. The Royal Oak is sought after, and not a watch that is mass-produced so acquiring this piece from an authorized retailer could mean limited availability and a lead time of several months to get your hands on one.

Bottom line: If you are in the market for a high-end luxury sports watch with a unique design this is an excellent piece to consider.

 

 

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TAG Heuer Monaco: The Steve McQueen Watch

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Out of all of the watches that have ever been produced by TAG Heuer this is my absolute favorite time-piece. Why do I love this watch…Well for starters it looks modern, edgy, and distinct at nearly 44 years of age! I mean other than some minor cosmetic changes on the dial, crown position, and case, the legendary design has been kept intact.

Right up there with the Omega Speedmaster Moon watch and the Rolex Submariner this is probably one of the most sought after icons in watch history. Anyone who collects time-pieces has seriously considered adding a Monaco (either new or vintage) to their collection at some point or another.

Back in 1969 when TAG Heuer was simply referred to as “Heuer” the Monaco design was so radical and rebellious that it took the right kind of personality to wear it and really show it off. When Steve McQueen chose to wear it and put it on his wrist in the 1970 racing inspired movie Le Mans, it was a match made in heaven.

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Steve McQueen wearing the Tag Heuer Monaco Calibre 11Image

This watch is the quintessential cool (much like Steve McQueen was). In a world of round it chose to be square, in fact when it was initially released it didn’t sell all that well…it took a little while for people to warm up to the design.  The Monaco has a distinct large brushed stainless steel case, (wears alot like a 42mm watch would if it had a round case) deep sapphire blue dial with bold white register sub-dials for the chronograph minutes and small running seconds at 3 o’clock.

There is a discreet white date window at 6 o’clock as well as the TAG Heuer Monaco logo and minor script on the dial detailing the “calibre 12” (ETA 2892-A2  as the base movement with a Dubois Depraz chronograph module built on top of it). The watch comes on a dyed dark blue alligator leather strap which matches the watch perfectly. The sub-dial counters have red hands as well as the chronograph running seconds hand that brings balance and harmony when paired against the blue background of the dial. The hour and minute hand are treated with lume, as well as the dot markers for the hour indications going around the dial.

Over the past few years Tag Heuer chose to update the Monaco and replace the hesalite crystal with a sapphire crystal which in my opinion was a smart decision for durability sake.

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Steve McQueen Monaco Chronograph Calibre 12 reference # CAW2111.FC6183

Final thoughts: This is not a watch for everyone, its not subdued or discreet, its bold and edgy and is definitely an attention grabber. Not the sort of watch that can be worn everyday or by everyone. The Tag Heuer Monaco isn’t really like any other watch, it’s a different breed from the rest and a keeper in my book.

It currently retails for $6300USD, a small price to pay for a living legend. There are several different dial color variations for this watch, but for me this is the only version that I would chose because it’s closest to the original. My only gripe is at this price point the price is a little steep for a watch fitted with an ETA movement…hopefully future models of the Monaco will opt for an In-House chronograph design.

For more information on this watch, and TAG Heuer authorized dealers visit http://www.tagheuer.com

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Montres DeWitt: Masters of the art of Guilloche

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DeWitt Twenty -8- Eight Tourbillon with engine turned Guilloche dial

This year marked the 10th anniversary of Dewitt, a luxury Swiss watch brand that utilizes the use of traditional watch making tools including 18th and 19th century lathe machines used to create beautiful engine turned Guilloche (engraved patterned dials).

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The link below gives a full explanation of the process which is painstakingly meticulous work performed by masters of Guilloche dedicated to a life of work using these ancient machines to create individual masterpieces completely unique with no single time-piece the same as another. There are only a handful of individuals in the world who can be called true master “Guillocheurs”.

http://blog.dewitt.ch/2012/02/the-art-of-guilloche/

An example of an exquisite dial produced by DeWitt seen below…This picture does not do the brand justice as you have to see these pieces in person to truly appreciate the time and  craftsmanship that go into them.

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DeWitt is a very exclusive brand with an average price point of $30,000USD. Exclusivity comes at a price and the luxury of knowing that at any point in your life should you prefer to have a piece recreated by DeWitt it can be done upon request! Also should any parts be needed for the time-piece an inventory is readily available to the customer for many years to come.

In as little as a few years DeWitt  made waves in the luxury watch industry, establishing itself as a serious player in an elite circle of high-end haute horlogerie brands.

I have personally had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Jerome DeWitt, the founder and creative mind behind Montres DeWitt. He is a fascinating individual who believes in the preservation of traditional watch making, he is mechanically minded, an avid lover of automobiles and the art of mechanics. He is an uncompromising individual who excepts nothing less than perfection and this is truly seen and felt when you hold one of his time-pieces.

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For more information on DeWitt time-pieces as well as authorized dealers check out http://www.dewitt.ch

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TAG Heuer Carerra Calibre 1887 Chronograph (43mm) Review

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TAG Heuer Calibre 1887 Carerra Chronograph (43mm) Reference # CAR2A10.BA7099

This new piece by Tag Heuer hits all the right notes. Simply put, it’s a racing inspired symphony on the wrist…If you are in the market for large cased, super sporty in-house column wheel chronograph under $6000 look no further. This newest incarnation of the Tag Heuer Carerra Calibre 1887 just got better with an updated 43mm diameter case and superbly comfortable stainless steel bracelet to match.

Watch Case:

The case is constructed from 316L surgical grade stainless steel and is significantly heavy and thick on the wrist, but a time-piece like this you wouldn’t want to feel light it would ruin the overall bold impression it makes. This version has a fine brushed and polished feel with sharper lugs meeting the bracelet.

Dial:

Similar to earlier versions of the previous non in-house (Calibre 16) ETA based variant with the day as well as date complication this features a clean date window at the 3 o’clock position. Personally I feel that the symmetry and composition of the dial looks more balanced without the day complication present. A much needed update is the addition of a black ceramic bezel with tachymetre scale on this model making it more modern and durable. A slightly curved double coated anti-reflective sapphire crystal is fitted over the dial. The dial has a deep matte black appearance with large bold circular silver tone sub-dials to track the chronograph minutes, hours, and small running seconds at 9 o’clock. The flange and large polished black numbers surrounding the dial complete the overall racing inspired feel of this piece.

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Movement:

Little needs to be said about this column wheel chronograph movement other than it is fully integrated, buttery smooth to operate and has a high efficiency winding system ensuring 50hrs power reserve when fully wound, meaning you could take it off for the weekend and it would still be running Monday morning. The movement is view-able via the sapphire exhibition case back and is nicely decorated with a cotes de geneve pattern, typical at this price point not exceptional, but decent to look at.

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Sapphire exhibition case-back with nicely finished movement.

Conclusion:

TAG Heuer has had to turn to alternative resources for sourcing its movements since the swatch group has slowly discontinued production of ETA based movements to competitor companies. As a finished product TAG Heuer has definitely come a long way in recent years and has adjusted their prices accordingly to reflect the quality that goes into their pieces. The current market price of this watch is $5500 USD, taking into account the movement and the level of finishing it is competitively priced and good value with a distinct bold look drawing on classic design cues from it’s former 1960’s models, but with a modern twist.

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Frederique Constant Manufacture (Slim Line): Moon Phase Watch

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This year thin is in. Slim dress watches seem to be all the rage this year, reminiscent of 1960’s era dress watches many brands have jumped on board releasing their own throwback pieces.

Frederique Constant has been around for a few years now and although a relatively young watch company (about 25 years old) it has managed to settle and find its place in the industry. Frederique Constant Manufacture has been designing and producing many of its own in-house calibres for over a decade and has quietly taken the industry by surprise producing pieces that normally cost several times more than competitors boasting similar complications. The company philosophy (from my understanding) is to create innovative, affordable, luxury time-pieces with a very high level of quality control and oversight.

Deep sapphire tone dial with matching alligator leather strap and white contrast stitching

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Both pieces seen above are completely designed and manufactured in-house (with the exception of the jewels and balance springs which are currently supplied by Nivarox a company owned and operated by the Swatch Group). The automatic movement contained within has a 42 hour power reserve with a date and moon phase indicator represented in a small sub-dial directly above the 6 o’clock position.

Turn the watch over and it features a nicely decorated rotor, blued screws, custom machined rotor with the company name on the rotor, and decorated manufacture movement visible through a sapphire exhibition.

Sapphire exhibition case-back with nicely decorated movement

Sapphire exhibition case-back with nicely decorated movement

All of their pieces are hand assembled and cases polished by hand. Available in either stainless steel or gold-plated with an asking price starting at $3500 USD for the stainless steel version.

Look for one at your nearest authorized dealer or boutique near you…

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