Hands-On: Rolex Daytona 116588TBR ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ Or ‘Rorschach Test’ Diamond Set Watch

Hands-On: Rolex Daytona 116588TBR 'Eye Of The Tiger' Or 'Rorschach Test' Diamond Set Watch Hands-On

No-holds-barred, creatively designed watches are the true limited editions of today’s biggest watch brands. Seeing 2018’s Rolex Daytona Rainbow almost triple in value, from its $90,000 retail well into the $200,000 range is just one of many fitting examples. On this occasion, we are going hands-on with the latest iteration of outlandish, factory diamond-set Rolex Daytona watches with the Rolex Daytona 116588TBR, nicknamed “Eye Of The Tiger Daytona” or, as I like to call it, the “Rorschach Test Daytona” after the unique gem-set pattern of its dial.

Hands-On: Rolex Daytona 116588TBR 'Eye Of The Tiger' Or 'Rorschach Test' Diamond Set Watch Hands-On

A LONG TRACK-RECORD OF OUTLANDISH ROLEX WATCHES

Rolex has one of the longest track records of consistently, if not frequently, making outlandish and creatively designed watches. I strongly believe this track record comes not simply from a “because we can” but rather a “because we have to” approach.  That is something important to think about, not merely for us watch enthusiasts (and the Rolex fans among us), but also for Rolex’s rivals.

Hands-On: Rolex Daytona 116588TBR 'Eye Of The Tiger' Or 'Rorschach Test' Diamond Set Watch Hands-On

All too often, I see how convenient it is to look at high-end watchmaking as the proving grounds for technical refinement, engineering capability, and manufacturing complexity in isolation. Creative watch design, by contrast, often has a take-it-or-leave-it element, whose presence is considered almost insignificant if there is enough technical grandness (infused with loud or condescending marketing) to direct attention away from the staleness that results from the lack of a creative presentation.

Hands-On: Rolex Daytona 116588TBR 'Eye Of The Tiger' Or 'Rorschach Test' Diamond Set Watch Hands-On

That said, I truly believe that the extent to which a brand is creatively/aesthetically exciting matters to every one of us watch-lovers — we just don’t talk about it as much as we do about pricing, watch movement performance, or the controversies around design elements. A brand’s ability to occasionally take itself less seriously is a rare and important treat. If a brand isn’t relevant in its design, it will soon grow irrelevant in other ways, as well.

Hands-On: Rolex Daytona 116588TBR 'Eye Of The Tiger' Or 'Rorschach Test' Diamond Set Watch Hands-On

BRIEF SIDE-NOTE ON HALO WATCHES

We must stick to the point of discussing this new Daytona and not go off-topic too much, but what is a thought-provoker if not such a watch from Rolex? It makes me think of other brands I really appreciate and have owned previously: IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre. Two mighty-awesome brands with fancy factories, rich histories, and more established watch collections than one could shake a stick at… and just look at how much less time we have recently spent speaking about these two.

Hands-On: Rolex Daytona 116588TBR 'Eye Of The Tiger' Or 'Rorschach Test' Diamond Set Watch Hands-On

They, and other established brands like Blancpain and Breguet, enjoy less time in the limelight than they used to just a few years ago. And while they can survive on luxury conglomerate money and by selling bucketloads of basic Reversos, vintage-inspired “novelties,” and the rest, wouldn’t you agree that there used to be so much more buzz when we had fascinating Master Compressors, crazy Extreme LABs, high-tech Ingenieurs and the like? Sure, we might have ended up buying base Reversos and classic IWC Pilots just the same, but we had contemporary watch stuff attracting us to these brands and not just ambassadors, partnerships, and the products that exclusively lived in the past. Halo products have right to exist — all I’m saying is that they should not be limited to technical excellence, but concern modern aesthetics, too.

Hands-On: Rolex Daytona 116588TBR 'Eye Of The Tiger' Or 'Rorschach Test' Diamond Set Watch Hands-On

Sure, it could be said that Rolex gets by selling bucketloads of, well, almost everything, and this gives them plenty of leeway to experiment. But how many major brands can you name that systematically go out on a limb with loud new interpretations on their bestselling designs and collections? There may be the occasional outrageous watch from others, but it’s exceedingly rare that it’s done with any bestselling collections. Whether or not the Rolex Daytona 116588TBR “Eye Of The Tiger” is liked and appreciated is down to a matter of personal taste — but a braver approach of major brands to debut borderline shocking designs is something I reckon would do all of us good.

Hands-On: Rolex Daytona 116588TBR 'Eye Of The Tiger' Or 'Rorschach Test' Diamond Set Watch Hands-On

DETAILS AND SPECIFICATIONS OF THE ROLEX DAYTONA 116588TBR “EYE OF THE TIGER”

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of these offbeat Rolex watches lies in Rolex’s agility in dancing around addressing or specifying literally anything about their actual theme, inspiration, design, or execution. In the watch’s 14-page official presentation, Rolex dedicates two entire pages to saying: “The Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona was born to race, and is the benchmark for those with a passion for driving and speed.” Like anyone cares!

Hands-On: Rolex Daytona 116588TBR 'Eye Of The Tiger' Or 'Rorschach Test' Diamond Set Watch Hands-On

To its credit, Rolex does refer to this version as “mysterious and sparkling” — a description hard to argue against. These two words are right where the presentation ends though, as they are followed by a very dry description of the bezel with its 36 trapeze-cut diamonds, and the paved black lacquer dial where “champagne-colour chronograph counters are intertwined with black lacquer and diamonds.” The rest of the entire document is Rolex describing its impressive features, such as the Manufacture Rolex Caliber 4130, the Oyster case, the Oysterflex bracelet in the exact same way as it does with all other watches.

Hands-On: Rolex Daytona 116588TBR 'Eye Of The Tiger' Or 'Rorschach Test' Diamond Set Watch Hands-On

So, why does the dial look like the eye of a tiger, then? Or a lacquer-diamond tribute to inkblots of Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach? Not a single word on these from Rolex; we are left to our own imagination. As for the core specs, the case is the olden but golden 40mm-wide Oyster Cosmograph Daytona case, fitted with a non-removable lug-structure that allows no three-link solid gold Oyster bracelet to ever be fitted.

Hands-On: Rolex Daytona 116588TBR 'Eye Of The Tiger' Or 'Rorschach Test' Diamond Set Watch Hands-On

In its place, we find the Oysterflex elastomer strap that has a flexible metal blade integrated into its structure. Inside the solid 18-karat gold case is the Rolex Manufacture Caliber 4130, exactly the same movement you would find in each and every other currently produced Cosmograph Daytona. The Cerachrom ceramic bezel has been replaced with 34 trapeze-cut diamonds, all invisibly set, stacked closely next to each other — experts refer to invisible setting as the most challenging setting technique in watchmaking, as the preparation of the slot, as well as the cut, has to be exactly right throughout.

Hands-On: Rolex Daytona 116588TBR 'Eye Of The Tiger' Or 'Rorschach Test' Diamond Set Watch Hands-On

Hands-On: Rolex Daytona 116588TBR 'Eye Of The Tiger' Or 'Rorschach Test' Diamond Set Watch Hands-On

I understand that, in today’s PC world, it’s probably best not to say anything — and if the Swiss watchmaking culture is absolutely world-class in something, it is “choosing not to comment” on anything. It’s often referred to as discretion — I’d rather call it secrecy verging on condescension. 2018’s rainbow model, and all other Daytona and Day-Date rainbows we have seen, are rather self-explanatory. Everyone knows what a rainbow is, and their recreation in colorful, semi-precious stones paints a likeable and neat picture. But this? The 116588TBR? You either get it/love it at first sight, or you probably never will, and Rolex appears not to make an effort to tip you over — save for its beautiful photography.

Hands-On: Rolex Daytona 116588TBR 'Eye Of The Tiger' Or 'Rorschach Test' Diamond Set Watch Hands-On

Hands-On: Rolex Daytona 116588TBR 'Eye Of The Tiger' Or 'Rorschach Test' Diamond Set Watch Hands-On

Okay, so what have learned from Rolex about one of Rolex’s most bizarre creations? Nothing. Better still, the watch is not to be found anywhere on Rolex.com — it is, however, present on the official press site, and it was on show at BaselWorld 2019. The wackiest, boldest, craziest, blingest Rolex watches that are made today will never ever make it to any of those websites, nor the public or media-reserved product viewings of the brand at BaselWorld. We do occasionally get our hands on one or two though.

Hands-On: Rolex Daytona 116588TBR 'Eye Of The Tiger' Or 'Rorschach Test' Diamond Set Watch Hands-On

CONCLUSION

Irrespective of whether you, I, or anyone else likes the Rolex Daytona 116588TBR, it is, objectively, one heck of a watch both in its execution — there’s a reason why you don’t see invisibly set baguette- or trapeze-cut diamond bezels that often — and in its daring looks. To get back to the original point, I’ll end on the following note. Rolex is considered to stand above others by so many for a vast variety of reasons, from reliability and engineering through history, design, and marketing. But there are other elements as well, a certain air of carefully engineered mysteriousness — which admittedly might irk those of us who want to know and understand it all, but it sure as hell attracts countless others. Having halo products like this that open up a new dimension of the brand, add a depth to Rolex that many of its competitors are yet to dare to create. It is easy to dismiss Rolex as a privileged brand that has the world at its feet — but, again, if what Rolex does was easy, those aforementioned brands would certainly be doing it as well.

Wild Horologists & Team Chronograph LCF888 Watch Review — An Industrialized Student Project

My first encounter with the Wild Horologists & Team LCF888 watch was via an email blast notifying me of a new release. Initially, I took the news as nothing more than a bog-standard press notification and was about to file it away for coverage at a later date when something caught my eye. Leaping out from the page were two words that piqued my interest: “school watch.”

Wild Horologists & Team Chronograph LCF888 Watch Review — An Industrialized Student Project Wrist Time Reviews

I went back and took another look at the lead image. It didn’t seem to correlate with the description of a school watch. It was too slick, too polished, too professional. As a former watchmaking apprentice, I’ve had firsthand experience in producing a school watch as part of my training. While the end products of such endeavors tend to be quite impressive when appreciated in context, they generally look nothing like the WH&T LCF888. Most students’ imaginations are limited by available materials, tooling, and, crucially for this project, contacts.

Wild Horologists & Team Chronograph LCF888 Watch Review — An Industrialized Student Project Wrist Time Reviews

When you’re starting out in the world of watchmaking, especially if you’re trying to carve a career for yourself at the bench, you’re unlikely to know many people in the industry — certainly not the kind of people you need to know to mobilize 15 separate high-end manufacturers to help in the production of a school project. Given that it is exactly what’s happened here, I thought more investigation was necessary.

Wild Horologists & Team Chronograph LCF888 Watch Review — An Industrialized Student Project Wrist Time Reviews

Wild Horologists & Team is a unique conglomeration of private educational facility tutors, students, and established industry suppliers. The project was conceived as a way to give the students of an advanced training school in La Chaux-de-Fonds the chance to take a watch from concept to creation, exposing them to a raft of techniques, necessary processes, and logistical hurdles any brand or individual would face when trying to bring a new watch to market.

Wild Horologists & Team Chronograph LCF888 Watch Review — An Industrialized Student Project Wrist Time Reviews

In an age in which many new brands talk about transparency in an attempt to convince potential purchasers that they are not being fleeced by ridiculous margins, WH&T still manages to offer incredible value when stacked up against brands utilizing that strategy. Asking how this is possible won’t really illuminate the difference between this project and others (because, theoretically, any project could run with such tight margins). The best way to make sense of the pricing structure is to ask why WH&T is doing this.

Wild Horologists & Team Chronograph LCF888 Watch Review — An Industrialized Student Project Wrist Time Reviews

This is an educational exercise more than it is a commercial project. While this watch could very likely gain sufficient traction at full retail price (should it be put to market following the currently active Kickstarter campaign), building a brand and all that comes with it isn’t part of the mission statement. What that means is that you get the chance to own one of these limited pieces for significantly less than you would expect to pay for a watch of similar quality.

Wild Horologists & Team Chronograph LCF888 Watch Review — An Industrialized Student Project Wrist Time Reviews

While the WH&T LCF888 does not have an in-house movement, it is proprietary. Caliber C3057 is based on the Valjoux 7750 but manufactured especially for the school by Concepto Watch Factory. The major modifications (aside from the obligatorily customized rotor weight) can be seen on the dial side of the watch. The skeleton display provides excellent depth and a unique visage, thanks to this movement having been designed especially for this project. What is reassuring, however, is that the vast majority of components used in the C3057 are compatible with those of the 7750, so after-care should be something many service centers can handle.

Wild Horologists & Team Chronograph LCF888 Watch Review — An Industrialized Student Project Wrist Time Reviews

The attention to detail on the dial is immediately apparent. The skeletonized date ring — read between 4 and 5 o’clock — is a joy to behold and not something one would expect to see executed to this level in a watch of this price. The anodized decoration ring that sits beneath the 41mm bezel and the 45mm case (53mm lug-to-lug) coordinates perfectly with the anodized rehaut ring and subdials. This kind of chromatic congruity gives the whole ensemble a look of something way beyond this price bracket. The original handset provides excellent legibility and a distinct character, and while this high-concept design will certainly not be to everyone’s taste, the level of effort and refinement that has gone into the design and sourcing of each component is surely something all lovers of watchmaking can appreciate.

And that appreciation need have nothing to do with the watch itself. The project could inspire a new generation of watchmakers. Just think, the class of students behind this could contain the next generation’s master. Who knows what this kind of experience so early in one’s career could lead to? But beyond the actual value and good vibes surrounding this project, it forced me to ask myself a few difficult questions.

Wild Horologists & Team Chronograph LCF888 Watch Review — An Industrialized Student Project Wrist Time Reviews

When I studied the watch (before I learned its price) I fell in love with it and decided I wanted to own it based on its appearance and the story behind it. As a lover of the Audemars Piguet concept watches and most mechanically interesting timepieces from Hublot, the aesthetic was right up my street, but I expected the price to be way out of my reach. When I learned how eminently attainable the LCF888 is likely to be, I couldn’t believe it. In some ways, I was disappointed it wasn’t more (which is not a feeling I ever thought I would have and one I can still barely understand).

I’ve spent the last 17 years of my life in and around the watch industry. Throughout that period, I professed heartily that quality mattered more to me than branding, that I sought out the products that offered more for less tirelessly and was unimpressed by status acquisition. Did I want a Rolex GMT Master II “Pepsi” at retail? Sure. But would I ever countenance paying over the odds for it because it was “hip?” No way. I’d much sooner save my money and buy something unheard of that was providing a necessary service to niche horology on an accessible level.

Wild Horologists & Team Chronograph LCF888 Watch Review — An Industrialized Student Project Wrist Time Reviews

As soon as I got the WH&T LCF888 Chronograph on my wrist, I was dumbfounded. I’d always wanted an AP or a Hublot, but knew I was never likely to be able to afford one. And while I still had neither, I had something that scratched that aesthetic itch without sacrificing quality. I’m not saying there is no difference between this watch and those produced by either Audemars Piguet or Hublot (that would be ridiculous), but, quite simply, there is nothing wrong with the LCF888. Try as I might, I couldn’t find fault with its execution.

There is a massive difference in the level of research and development and hand finishing that goes into creating an AP or a Hublot. Not to mention the impassable gulf of design provenance and industry significance. But from a material perspective, and from a visual perspective, the LCF888 was enough for me to no longer feel bad about not owning either of the other brands.

But it is not a brand. The story is simple, humble, and true. It does not confer a status boost upon a consumer (maybe kudos for those in the know, but that is a very slim slice of society). It is an experiment, a small club of people that buy watches for slightly different reasons. A brief and rare opportunity to be part of something fleeting. Were it not for the fact that a limited number of these timepieces are slated for production (around 1,000 units in total), this piece would have no chance of appreciation. It would be an anomalous object, floating in deep space.

Wild Horologists & Team Chronograph LCF888 Watch Review — An Industrialized Student Project Wrist Time Reviews

The Hublot Big Bang MECA-10 “Nicky Jam” High Jewellery Watch Is A Real Head-Scratcher

The MECA-10 ranks among the cooler and more novel in-house movements of the last decade. It’s niche, it’s not exactly practical, but once you dig into it, you’ll see that it’s an obscure love letter to mechanics. Ariel has chatted with the “movement engineer” at Hublot who was part of the two-year process of taking it from concept to reality. Now, the Hublot Big Bang MECA-10 “Nicky Jam” wraps that impressive movement in an, ahem, impressive number of diamonds and weird-colored defunct alligators.

It’s a real head-scratcher of a watch for me. At first sight, it looks like a prop from hip-hop videos — and at all the subsequent sights, this impression unpleasantly continues to linger around. But if it’s a bedazzled, “Look at me, did I tell you I got rich fast?” watch that you are after, boy does the MECA-10 “Nicky Jam” pass muster. If you still have a bit of sense left between your pierced ears, you’ll be quick to note that this piece from the top of the Nicky Jam limited-edition food chain is priced at €364,000, making it rather expensive, even by diamond-clad watch standards.

The next question is who, outside of Nicky Jam, would want to drop €364,000 on a watch that pays tribute to Nicky Jam, or anyone outside the manufacturer for that matter? That’s one very expensive way to say: I really am fond of Nicky Jam. For the record, I couldn’t say I have a better understanding or appreciation of six-digit-priced watches attributed to race car drivers, athletes, etc. So, if you are a fan of Nicky Jam and have dropped (or are planning to) €364,000 on this piece — or just €23,800 or €52,900 on either of the two other limited editions — drop a comment below and share why, exactly, because I genuinely am curious.

Where the Hublot Big Bang MECA-10 “Nicky Jam” really shines (ha!) is in the quality of its setting. The setting is so good it is almost wasted on this weird watch. Well, maybe “wasted” is too strong a word. It’s more like Claude Lorrain painting — not the The Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba, but a Nicky Jam concert. In all seriousness, the quality of the setting is easily on par with anything I have seen — and I have seen so many bejeweled watches that I need glasses now.

Having looked at my images and macro images closely, it definitely ranks among the top three insanely bedazzled watches, as far as the quality of the work is concerned. The setting used here to fix the 307 baguette-cut diamonds to the case is called “invisible setting,” as the stones are holding each other in place. This requires extremely thorough separation of the base material, the cuts, and the setting itself — Hublot has its in-house gem-setting atelier in Nyon, so big kudos to the craftspeople there. Many workshops and designs leave lots of space (thick material) around invisibly set stones to leave extra room and overall make the work a bit more safe and easy.

Casio G-Shock MTG-B1000RB Lunar Rainbow Watch Hands-On

Let me begin with a quick peek behind the scenes of aBlogtoWatch at BaselWorld. Every year, a large part of the aBlogtoWatch team gathers to check out the lamest-to-greatest watch novelties in the moderately charming town of Basel. Over countless meetings, a couple times it happens that a team member finds a novelty, leaps over the desk to check it out in haste, only to then look up with an exaggerated look of lust and new-found love in his eyes. Launched at BaselWorld 2019 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Casio G-Shock MTG line, the Casio G-Shock MTG-B1000RB Lunar Rainbow was, by all means, a watch that evoked such cartoonish gestures from more than one of us, as we first got our hands on it at our annual Casio meeting at BaselWorld.



It’s not just looks though; durability and technology also get a boost. A sapphire crystal, a new Core Guard Structure, a carbon-reinforced resin case and yet tougher lugs mean that you can now fall off an even higher waterfall and your watch will still be ticking, even though you will not. The tech includes Multi Band 6 (as it damn well should, for a whole grand), five motors to drive each hand separately, as well as Bluetooth smartphone connectivity with a G-Shock connected app. That sounds dorky as hell, but keeping track of the watch’s chronometrical self-adjustments, self-updates, and even the power generated by the solar charging panel is admittedly kind of cool interesting.

Cutting to the chase here, the whole point of the Casio G-Shock MTG-B1000RB Lunar Rainbow is its namesake feature: the “lunar rainbow” theme. Having never witnessed one, I can only report that the colors are inspired by a type of rainbow that is formed by the light of the moon. Anyhow, it’s a cool name to go with a special color scheme, so why not give it a pass? A unique rainbow ion-plated (IP) finish sets the case, crown, crown guards, bezel, screwheads and lug structure apart from any other watch you can think of — I do wish that there was a bracelet to go with it all, even though I remain uncertain whether my mind could actually process that sight.

Interestingly, although the pattern might at first appear to be random, all Casio G-Shock MTG-B1000RB Lunar Rainbow watches will have roughly the same pattern: purple around 6 and 12 o’clock, green and yellow elsewhere around the bezel, and blue on the lug structure. That said, Casio has confirmed that each and every watch will be slightly different, so the exact colors and the area that they cover will vary from one watch to another. The case measures 55.8mm-tall, 51.7mm-wide and 14.4mm-thick. A weight of 123 grams is tamed by a resin band matched to a tang buckle.

Despite those rather gargantuan proportions, the watch looked okay and felt shockingly good around my 6.75″ (~17cm) wrist. I can’t wait to get one of these in for review to gauge how it fairs out there in the real world, with the BaselWorld-romance all lifted from my eyes.

If you do know that you surely love this colorway but want to learn more about the MTG line of G-Shocks, you can learn all there is to it from Ariel’s review of the MTG-B1000 here. That is essentially the exact same watch but with a safer color scheme. Oh, and that one gets you a full metal bracelet and a 100-dollar savings over this fancy-colored Lunar Rainbow edition.

Price for the Casio G-Shock MTG-B1000RB Lunar Rainbow is $1,000 and, quite hilariously, they are limited to “one per household” on the G-Shock website. The good news is that the Lunar Rainbow doesn’t appear to be a numbered limited edition — but if you love it, you better head to your local store or order it online, because once these get out of production, a hefty second-hand premium will likely be attached to them.

Hands-On With The Richard Mille Bonbon Collection RM 07-03 Cupcake, RM 07-03 Marshmallow, And RM 16-01 Fraise Watches

It might sound creepy and all, but I sometimes wish I were a fly on the wall. Like when the idea for the Richard Mille Bonbon Collection was first raised and presented at the brand’s HQ, or when fellow exhibiting brands at SIHH saw Richard Mille’s swan song at its last SIHH this year. In other words, the Richard Mille RM 07-03 Cupcake, Richard Mille RM 07-03 Marshmallow, and Richard Mille RM 16-01 Fraise are basically destined, and perhaps programmed, to upset people — even though I am sure we would all agree to a watch industry in which such cheeky creativity is the be-all and end-all.

I don’t know. Maybe you think you do, but in reality, you cannot know for sure, either. What I mean is that I still don’t know if the Bonbon Collection is meant as a practical (and ridiculously expensive) joke, or if it is a genuine product created after careful consideration of market research and a deep understanding of a dedicated customer base. It would be tempting to go for the practical joke aspect, especially since Richard Mille is among that handful of brands that could actually pull off such a bonkers move. Just look at that wilfully wonky “SWISS MADE” text in a place where nobody asked for it or the actual cupcake-shaped crown, both on a $130,000 watch.

Or just look at this diabetes-inducing dial, with lollipops and other types of sweets I don’t even know the names of, all crafted by hand and laid over an elaborately machined, high-tech titanium movement that few in the luxury watch industry could even describe how to make — let alone actually make it. For the record, Richard Mille has been relying on Manufacture Vaucher’s expertise for its less complex automatic movements and on APR&P for its complicated calibers. The bipolarity between a child’s dream-diet and ultra-high-end watchmaking is enforced by those thick hands, which are so shockingly massive and elaborate they could give a seasoned hand-manufacturer sleepless nights over the prospect of a wasted life.

Forcing the prospect of an elaborate joke aside, could this be a product that has come to be after Richard Mille has taken a good look at the ultra-high-end luxury accessories market, its current trends and hot-sellers, as well as the heartfelt wishes of its established customer base? Maybe all it wanted to do is design a funky, colorful, and cheerful watch that would cater exactly to them? Ariel said it best when he referred to these as jewelry items in our hands-on video from when we saw the Richard Mille Bonbon collection at SIHH 2019.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe luxury jewelry, in general, not only gets a pass for being this playful and creative but is also by and large encouraged to be exactly that. By contrast, according to some, creativity in watchmaking should be limited to shaping the plates in a hand-wound chronograph movement a bit differently… Maybe a red chronograph seconds hand is acceptable.

This has set the foundations of an environment that is often hostile and extremely critical of watches of arguably weird and unusual bursts of creativity. As such, over the years we have seen hot-selling brands get severely criticized by those so insistent on a, ahem, more traditional taste. Some historic brands, as well as quick-to-the-top ones, had been motivated by their success to release increasingly bolder new watches that they thought their brands were strong enough to take. Franck Muller and Audemars Piguet immediately come to mind with different versions of their own mistakes — and having suffered for them big time. The difference between them and Richard Mille is that, apparently, the Richard Mille brand is robust enough to bear such a cheeky twist on its core designs — though it is notable that RM has left the famed RM-11 well clear of this adventure.

Just look at where the world’s leading high-end fashion houses are taking women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories and you will see how basically none of the established ultra-high-end watch brands are offering anything that would even loosely fit into the world of bold proportions and crazy colors dictated by fashion companies and followed with immediate effect the world over.

In line with the painful absence of actually trendy women’s watches, I have trouble imagining these pieces spending too long on the shelves. As far as women’s watches are concerned, none of the established brands come close to such borderline ridiculous levels of creativity. These days, Cartier and Bulgari are playing it too much within the confinements of their own DNA, while Patek Philippe and Jaeger-LeCoultre are limited to mixing neatly executed craft with vaguely emotional inspirations, mostly cheesy stuff such as the fish of the seas, or the aurora borealis. The world’s fashion-conscious rich simply can’t fit those into their daily rotation of expensive clothing — and so those watches, with very few exceptions, only really pass muster within the dimension of horology but don’t make enough of an impact outside. Sad, but true. Richard Mille goes all the way, into and through the wall, and gives its peers what they apparently want/need these days.


These being Richard Mille watches, they are of course chock full of high-tech and also highly refined details. Countless layers of variable thickness of Carbon TPT make up the bi-color cases of the Fruits collection, while TZP Ceramic is used to create the creamy-soft cases of the Sweets collection. To make the dials, a total of 3,000 hand-painted and hand-lacquered miniature sculptures were made and a new “sugar coating” effect was developed using powdered enamel and the fine sand from hourglasses — apparently. It’s old-school artisanship wrapped inside Carbon TPT.


So, why should we watch lovers care about this weird collection of outrageously expensive candy watches? Because they shock us into remembering that haute horlogerie and delicate crafts need not only be used to create derivative watches that somehow, I suspect, get a pass and these won’t. But something is telling me that the small workshop that made the 3,000 colorful dial components had a field day meeting this challenge, as opposed to painting the gazillionth cheesy enamel image onto a round dial. Just guessing.


To answer the original question, I think the solution is that the Richard Mille Bonbon Collection is a mix of both: It is a practical joke crafted after carefully gauging the number of established and tentative Richard Mille customers who have their black Centurions erect and ready for a swipe to be part of an elaborate joke like this. It’s horological entertainment performed at unrivaled levels of quality in execution, topped off with the showoff power of the Richard Mille name. Give me a reason why that wouldn’t work.


Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 007 James Bond On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Watch

Fresh off the press is a new Omega Seamaster dedicated to James Bond, Agent 007. The latest Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 007 James Bond On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is presented for the 50th anniversary of the sixth movie in the James Bond Series. Whether you are a fan of that specific movie, James Bond, or “just” the Seamaster, this reference 210.22.42.20.01.004 is packed with interesting details that you’ll want to know about, so let us discover them now.

Omega has been the official watch of James Bond ever since 1995, beginning with GoldenEye — that’s a solid run of 25 years and 8 feature films. Still, Omega reaching back to pre-Omega days of the franchise is a fascinating choice, given that pre-1995 James Bond was mostly known as a Rolex man. Perhaps Omega wants the world to see them marking James Bond — all of it — their territory now, and given that 25-year track record, that isn’t quite so much of an over-reach as it might at first appear.

Omega has been the official watch of James Bond ever since 1995, beginning with GoldenEye — that’s a solid run of 25 years and 8 feature films. Still, Omega reaching back to pre-Omega days of the franchise is a fascinating choice, given that pre-1995 James Bond was mostly known as a Rolex man. Perhaps Omega wants the world to see them marking James Bond — all of it — their territory now, and given that 25-year track record, that isn’t quite so much of an over-reach as it might at first appear.

That quarter of a century marked not only 8 movies, but a fair number of special edition commercially available Seamaster watches dedicated to its role alongside James Bond. As such, by now Omega has this practice nailed down and knows exactly how many 007-derived details to pour into its limited editions, balancing between neither making the watches gimmicky, nor leaving them uninteresting for fans of 007 and 007-themed Omega watches.

Consequently, the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 007 James Bond On Her Majesty’s Secret Service offers six notable details to have fans reaching for their wallets in excitement. First, and perhaps most apparently, there is the dial itself: crafted from spiral-brushed black ceramic (not lacquered brass, but solid ceramic), it features James Bond’s iconic gun barrel design, laser engraved into the ceramic. The very center of the spiral is in fact exactly 9mm wide, hinting at the size of the common cartridge used in pistols… Even though, apparently, Bond in the movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service used a Walther PPK with a .32 ACP cartridge that actually means a slightly smaller diameter of 7.65mm. To Omega’s credit, the Walther PPK has indeed also been manufactured with a 9mm caliber and Bond has used plenty of 9mm guns later on, so if you are a fan of the more modern Bond, this detail is for you. Plus, it has to be said that the dial does look more proportionate with the slightly wider, 9mm center that they opted for.

Then, at the 12 o’clock position we have a special index inspired by the Bond family coat-of-arms. All indices and hands are crafted from 18kt yellow gold, a fitting choice of material for a 50th anniversary, and are filled with Super-LumiNova with the color-coordinated green minute hand and bezel pip. The rest of the indications show up in bright blue in the dark.

Take a closer look at night and the third feature, “a secret signature” reveals itself: at the 10 o’clock (50-minute) marker, the lume reveals “50,” as another tribute to the 50th anniversary of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. There is a pattern here: the black-on-black gun barrel pattern, the minute detailing of the 12 o’clock marker, and “50” showing up in just one of the indices add up to a neat balancing act between Bond-specific details and everyday wearability.

Fourth, we are looking at a special detail on the date disc, something that will make 007 fans look forward to the 7th of the month that much more: number 7 is painted in the trademark 007 font. Speaking of which, as the fifth feature we are looking at a numbered plate set into the left side of the 42mm wide stainless steel case: an 18kt yellow gold plate, engraved with the unique limited edition number — no “one of 7’007” nonsense here, they are all individually numbered. Once again, Omega is yielding a double edged sword with these limited editions: some customers expect a certain level of exclusivity, but not too much exclusivity otherwise they themselves won’t be able to get their hands on it. So, yes, 7,007 watches is a lot for a limited edition — but not a lot for a global base of Seamaster and James Bond fans.

As the sixth detail comes the caseback. Omega has not supplied caseback images with the release but we were able to secure one from their brief product launch video. The transparent caseback reveals the Omega Master Co-Axial Calibre 8800, an in-house caliber with Master Chronometer certification, 55 hours of power reserve and an in-house tested daily rate between 0 and +5 seconds. Over the neatly decorated movement rests the Bond family crest noting “Orbis Non Sufficit” — i.e. the world is not enough. Rings a bell? It should.

One additional feature of this limited edition Omega Seamaster is its special presentation case that adds the stainless steel bracelet along with the rubber strap, along with a strap changing tool and a travel pouch with the Bond family crest on it. This may be one step too far for some, but truth be told, I’d find no hardship in rocking a Bond-style watch pouch.

To close on a personal note that hopefully you will be able to relate to, I will say that while I’m certainly not the biggest James Bond fan in the world (I just thoroughly enjoy the series), I’d still be very tempted to get this particular Seamaster over the regular one, simply for its exciting, fun, yet elegantly done details which I’d expect to find entertaining down the road. We don’t often see gun barrel patterned ceramic dials on watches, nor coats of arms in indices, and that’s not because they aren’t cool, but because you need a theme to be able to add these to an already successful watch collection. With the James Bond Seamaster, Omega has those bases well and truly covered.

Ocean Crawler Core Diver Watch Reissued In Four Colors

Following on from last year’s sell-out release of the Ocean Crawler Core Diver watch, the brand is back again with a second limited-edition version. This new model, which features several refinements from the original design, will be available in four colors from August 23rd, 2019.

In 2018, Ocean Crawler debuted the Core Diver watch in a run of 500 units. This year’s reissue will see the same number of watches hit the shelves, with each striking colorway strictly limited to 125 units each.

The Core Diver watch has been designed to be the ultimate diving companion. Every single watch has been wet tested to ensure it can withstand depths of up to 2000 feet. When designing the Ocean Crawler Core Diver, the brand considered the needs of water sports enthusiasts, especially those who partake in scuba diving, spearfishing, and ocean-bed exploration, to ensure the watch was not just attractive, but also a functional tool that could withstand the rigors of underwater activity.

Material choices are particularly important for watches that are intended to be subjected to such a challenging environment. As such, Ocean Crawler opted to use a sapphire insert in the unidirectional timing bezel to complement the main sapphire lens, which has been treated with an anti-reflective coating.

Through the 4mm thick sapphire lens, a high contrast display greets the eye. There is a choice of either a blue or gray sun-ray dial. Both boast applied hour markers that have been filled with seven layers of Swiss C3 Lume, which is also applied to the 120-click bezel and the hands. The importance of low-light legibility cannot be overstated, as it is critically important for a diver to be able to read the time that has passed since submersion, no matter the conditions.

For peace of mind, the Ocean Crawler Core Diver is powered by the reliable, self-winding Sellita Sw-200 movement. With an operating frequency of 28,800vph, which equates to 8 ticks per second, the SW-200 is regarded as an industry stalwart and is a popular choice for many sports and adventure watches due to its excellent resistance to shock and time-keeping accuracy when under duress.

Each of the 500 units produced by Ocean Crawler this time around will be individually numbered between 1 and 500. All watches will be made from 316L stainless steel, with the option of either black or blue DLC coatings (on both the case and the shark mesh bracelet). The case measures 44mm across (excluding crown), 50mm lug-to-lug, 15.6mm-thick, with a lug width of 22mm.

Ocean Crawler guarantees that its new Core Diver model will keep precise time for at least five years. The new wave of watches will be available for pre-order between August 23rd and September 12th. S

Ocean Crawler Core Diver Watch Reissued In Four Colors

Following on from last year’s sell-out release of the Ocean Crawler Core Diver watch, the brand is back again with a second limited-edition version. This new model, which features several refinements from the original design, will be available in four colors from August 23rd, 2019.

In 2018, Ocean Crawler debuted the Core Diver watch in a run of 500 units. This year’s reissue will see the same number of watches hit the shelves, with each striking colorway strictly limited to 125 units each.

The Core Diver watch has been designed to be the ultimate diving companion. Every single watch has been wet tested to ensure it can withstand depths of up to 2000 feet. When designing the Ocean Crawler Core Diver, the brand considered the needs of water sports enthusiasts, especially those who partake in scuba diving, spearfishing, and ocean-bed exploration, to ensure the watch was not just attractive, but also a functional tool that could withstand the rigors of underwater activity.

Material choices are particularly important for watches that are intended to be subjected to such a challenging environment. As such, Ocean Crawler opted to use a sapphire insert in the unidirectional timing bezel to complement the main sapphire lens, which has been treated with an anti-reflective coating.

Through the 4mm thick sapphire lens, a high contrast display greets the eye. There is a choice of either a blue or gray sun-ray dial. Both boast applied hour markers that have been filled with seven layers of Swiss C3 Lume, which is also applied to the 120-click bezel and the hands. The importance of low-light legibility cannot be overstated, as it is critically important for a diver to be able to read the time that has passed since submersion, no matter the conditions.

For peace of mind, the Ocean Crawler Core Diver is powered by the reliable, self-winding Sellita Sw-200 movement. With an operating frequency of 28,800vph, which equates to 8 ticks per second, the SW-200 is regarded as an industry stalwart and is a popular choice for many sports and adventure watches due to its excellent resistance to shock and time-keeping accuracy when under duress.

Each of the 500 units produced by Ocean Crawler this time around will be individually numbered between 1 and 500. All watches will be made from 316L stainless steel, with the option of either black or blue DLC coatings (on both the case and the shark mesh bracelet). The case measures 44mm across (excluding crown), 50mm lug-to-lug, 15.6mm-thick, with a lug width of 22mm.

Ocean Crawler guarantees that its new Core Diver model will keep precise time for at least five years. The new wave of watches will be available for pre-order between August 23rd and September 12th. During that time, the retail price for these pieces will be $799 per unit. After the pre-order period ends, the price will rise to $999.

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Chronoswiss Flying Grand Regulator Open Gear ReSec “Blue Note” Watch Hands-On

Moments into the aBlogtoWatch meeting with Chronoswiss at Baselworld 2019, I knew what my favorite new watch from the brand was. I was particularly enthused by this “Blue Note” (as I called it) Chronoswiss Flying Grand Regulator Open Gear ReSec watch, which is limited to just 50 pieces. Blue is a popular color right now, and this watch is literally covered with it.

It can be a bit challenging to sort through the many slightly different Chronoswiss regulator models. At times, I can easily confuse two models. For example, can you immediately tell the difference between this Grand Regulator Open Gear ReSec and the Chronoswiss Flying Regulator Open Gear (reviewed on aBlogtoWatch here)? The short answer: the use of a retrograde seconds indicator for the ReSec model, as opposed to the traditional seconds dial for the other watch. So, when selecting a Chronoswiss watch, it pays to choose carefully.

As I mentioned above, “ReSec” is Chronoswiss’ short way of saying “retrograde seconds.” Sometimes you might see this watch with its (deep breath) longer full name, which is “Chronoswiss Flying Grand Regulator Open Gear Retrograde Seconds.” Now you know why I told Chronoswiss, “Just call this particular model the Blue Note.” Doesn’t that sound better? The blue itself is striking, and on the case, it comes in the form of blue DLC-coating over the base steel layer. Chronoswiss pairs the case with a blue Hornback crocodile strap, as well as a blue dial with blue hands. This might be the bluest watch of the year!

Chronoswiss was careful to ensure high levels of legibility on the complicated dial that seems to throw in so many little details. Regulators at their core are all about precision-reading, but the concept often needs to be “sexed up” a bit in order to make for an attractive watch dial. Chronoswiss knows that the “regulator” is sort of their “thing,” so we have experienced a dial that attempts to build on the core concept as much as possible. This is not only represented in the rich three-dimensional look of the dial but also in the “Open Gear” look at part of the movement under the 12 o’clock position, as well as the retrograde seconds hand. One of my favorite dial details are the “columns” of solid luminous material (as opposed to paint), which act as five-minute indicator points. (If this were not a regulator, then they would be the hour markers, of course.)

The Flying Grand Regulator Open Gear ReSec is a watch lover’s collectible lifestyle item that combines a functional spirit with a lot of visual pizazz. With its striking blue design, 44mm-wide (and 13.35mm-thick) case, and multiple levels of decorative elements placed on the dial, such a watch is, in many instances, the polar opposite of a petite vintage sport watch — which is ironic, in a sense, because, underneath the blue and tricked-out dial, the Flying Grand Regulator Open Gear ReSec does look like a large vintage pilot watch in regard to the case and crown.

Longines Legend Diver Watch Now Available In 36mm

Longines Legend Diver Watch Now Available In 36mm Watch Releases

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Longines  Legend Diver series. I’m a big fan of “super compressor” style cases, and the complementary, bichromatic printing appeals to my fastidious tastes. The Legend Diver collection has its roots in reference 7042, released in 1960. The first re-edition came in 2007 and was followed by an updated date version in 2009, and  a PVD-coated version last year. All four releases were 42mm-wide. The Longines Legend Diver 36mm is much more conservatively proportioned and really opens up this model up to a wider audience.

MODERN VINTAGE APPEAL

I think Longines is going to find that, despite pitching this watch as a woman-first alternative to the 42mm version, there will be an awful lot of vintage-vaunting gents in the hunt for this new model.

There is an argument for staying true to the original 7042 and retaining the 42mm case diameter, but the editions from 2007 onward sneakily bulked up the crowns, which, in my opinion, grew the watch significantly on the wrist and made it far less comfortable to wear. As someone who enjoys wearing super compressor or compressor style cases because they move the crowns into a more ergonomic position for flexing the wrist, this annoyed me. It seems likely that the smaller sized 36mm version will circumnavigate this problem with its revised dimensions.

Longines Legend Diver Watch Now Available In 36mm Watch Releases

WHAT IS A SUPER COMPRESSOR?

The term “super compressor” is often used (erroneously) to describe any watch with twin crowns. The first watches to feature this design were fitted with special technology that meant the watches got more water resistant as the external pressure on them increased (hence the term “compressor”). The technology was a hit, but largely unnecessary for all the desk divers who just liked the look (and comfort) of crowns at 2 and 4 o’clock. That said, Longines elected to remain faithful to the original by using super compressors in their modern iterations of the 7042.

Longines Legend Diver Watch Now Available In 36mm Watch Releases

Super compressor technology was the brainchild of Ervin Piquerez SA (EPSA). It emerged in the 1950s and was popular until the quartz crisis really hit in the ’70s. A super compressor differs from a compressor by having a threaded or bayonet case back as opposed to a snap-on. When the case back is “screwed” down, it stops before it travels as far as it possibly could, due to a spring pushing back against the case middle.

Longines Legend Diver Watch Now Available In 36mm Watch Releases

CONCLUSION

This release sees not only a reduced size but also an increased color palette for the Longines Legend Diver watches. This model is available with black, purple fumé, burgundy fumé, tropical (brown fumé), and mother of pearl dials, and a selection of coordinating straps and bracelets.

Remarkably, despite shrinking by 6mm, the Longines Legend Diver 36mm retains the 3 o’clock date function added with the release of its 2009 forerunner. In spite of this, the dial does not appear cluttered in any way and remains one of the most legible and attractive displays on the market today. The price for these new releases starts at $2,150 and runs all the way up to $2,400.