Last Week (In Watches) Today

2020 is understandably the year of relatively slow watch weeks, but somehow, someway, there is always enough new stuff happening to fill up these pages. So pull up a chair, have a coffee or a cuppa and let’s take a look:

Patek Philippe

Probably the biggest release this past week came from our friends over at Patek Philippe, who released an increasingly uncommon steel watch to commemorate the opening of their new, state-of-the-art headquarters in Plan-les-Ouates, on the outskirts of Geneva. This is part of an ongoing effort by Patek Philippe, started by Philippe Stern way back in 1996, to consolidate all aspects of their watchmaking under one roof. Prior to this initiative, there had been over a dozen important manufacturing sites for Patek Philippe, scattered all over Geneva. The new PP6 building is a 10-story (four of them underground), 50,000 square meter behemoth, complete with an 880 seat restaurant and underground parking garage for 635 vehicles in a city with notoriously restrictive parking regulations. The PP6 building even has space for a larger watchmaking institute to meet the company’s training needs, everything from basic to advanced training skills. To commemorate the opening of this new headquarters, say hello to the Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 6007A-001. You can read all about the limited-edition, (dress?) watch over in Dave Sergeant’s excellent write-up here. Limited to 1,000 pieces. $28,000 Patek Philippe

Oris

Martins of Glasgow Watch Servicing and Repair

Oris has released the Hölstein Edition 2020, a limited-edition, all-bronze variation of their Divers Sixty-Five chronograph. Named after the northern Swiss town that Oris has called home since their inception in 1904, this 250 piece LE is rendered almost entirely in bronze, save for the case back, the pins in the bracelet, and some gold-plating on the dial. The all-bronze bracelet is a claimed first in Swiss watchmaking, and I cannot recall ever seeing an all bronze bracelet anywhere, Swiss or otherwise. There has been a lot of internet speculation about how something like this would be handled, whether it would be normal bronze or some kind of specially treated alloy that would prevent patina, especially on the bracelet. Well, according to CEO Rolf Studer’s quote on the press release: “…our customers know what bronze is and will be aware that if they have a bronze watch, they may get oxidisation on their skin. But then you have a shower and it’s gone again. It’s part of the charm, and I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.” So there you have it, get your lemon juice tinctures ready. Green skin notwithstanding, you’re left with a charmingly vintage-looking, 100m water-resistant, modern chronograph. Running on Oris’ automatic 771 Movement, it beats at 28,800vph and offers a power reserve of 48 hours. Available now in boutiques and on Oris’ website for CHF 4800. Oris

Tag Heuer

Tag Heuer has dropped their second collaboration with streetwear pioneer Hiroshi Fujiwara. Fujiwara is the founder of Fragment Design, a multidisciplinary label created in 2003. Fujiwara has designed sneakers for Nike and Converse, jeans for Levis, bags for Louis Vuitton, headphones for Beats, snowboards for Burton, and even some guitars for ol’ Slowhand himself,  Eric Clapton. His first collaboration with Tag Heuer was a very minor reworking of the vintage Carrera ref. 2447 NT. This time around he has come up with a more original design, one that invokes the racing Heuers of the 1970s with its C-shaped case. The black opaline dial and black subdials with white text and numerals have a very monochromatic look, only broken up by some red accents on the five minute marks and the tips of the hour and minute hands, and a red-lacquered center chronograph hand. It also includes an unfortunate and very lonely-looking date window at 6 o’clock that I could have done without, but that is all personal taste and I am famous in some tiny, bizarre circles for hating most date windows, so take that with a grain of salt. Turning the watch over you see one of its most interesting features: a deep, blood red- colored sapphire caseback sporting the Fragment Design logo. This partially obscures the in-house Heuer 02 movement, an automatic column-wheel chronograph movement with an 80-hour power reserve. Another feature that sets this apart from other watches in the Tag Heuer catalog is the bracelet. A polished, fine-brushed, five-row steel bracelet with a steel butterfly clasp, “finely polished and brushed to catch the light with every movement of the wrist”. So you’ve got that going for you, which is nice. Available July 27, 2020 and limited to 500 pieces worldwide. $6,150 USD Tag Heuer

Hamilton X Christopher Nolan      

Hamilton Watches is no stranger to the world of film, having appeared in over 500 feature films, starting with 1932’s “Shanghai Express”. As the watch supplier to the U.S. military for years they were featured in many military movies, such as the hit 1951 film “The Frogmen” which focused on the work of a Navy Underwater Demolition Team. But perhaps the most famous appearance is the asymmetrical Ventura on the wrist of Elvis Presley in “Blue Hawaii”. More recently, the “Murph” Khaki Automatic had not just an appearance, but a key role in the 2014 Christopher Nolan film “Interstellar”, prompting Hamilton to release a special movie edition of the watch. Now, for 2020, Hamilton and Nolan’s prop team are back with a new watch for the upcoming film “Tenet”. I cannot currently find any info on what exact role the watch plays in the film, but according to Hamilton: “Initial conversations revealed that the film required a watch with features that do not currently exist in a commercially available Hamilton watch”, which could mean anything from a tourbillion to a laser cannon to a unified design language and aesthetic. Zing! Considering that unknown, the commercially available watches tied in with the film are more of an “inspired-by” situation. Based on the Hamilton Khaki Navy BeLOWZERO, this 46mm titanium-cased limited edition is available with either a blue or red-tipped second hand, a nod to something to do with the movie that we will all inevitably see and understand someday. Timekeeping is powered by Hamilton’s in-house Hamilton H-10 movement, a 21,600vph movement with an 80-hour power reserve, housed underneath a sapphire crystal. A solid caseback, rubber strap, and 1000m water resistance round out what is a pretty robust sport watch, no matter what your thoughts on movie tie-ins might be. Each color is limited to 888 pieces, which is palindrome just like TeneT. It will all make sense July 31st, 2020, you’ll see. Available now CHF2100 Hamilton

Seiko 5 “The SK Dress”

Seiko has quietly released a good number of new watches into the recently-relaunched Seiko 5 family. Last year saw the release of about 700 different variations of the “SKX-but-not-really” themed SRPD watches. Very familiar in design but featuring a few choices that left dive-watch diehards feeling cold, such as an exhibition caseback, no screw-down crown, and a paltry 100m of water resistance. Nevertheless, coming in at right around $300 USD I imagine they have still been very successful. This month, Seiko has seemingly doubled the lineup of new “5” watches, releasing a good number of the same or similar colorways from the SRPD series in the new SRPE watches. This time around they have gone with a more field watch feel and made two noticeable changes that I think pull these from the grey area that the SRPDs exist in, and make them more attractive options. First and most noticeably, they have completely gotten rid of the bezel, giving it a much cleaner and more refined look. Second, they have been slimmed down from 42.5mm to 40mm, for a much better (opinions will vary, of course) daily wear size. Other than that they are pretty much the same as the SRPD’s, case shape is the same, dial and date wheels are the same, and they are all powered by the same Seiko 4R36 automatic movement. Starting at $275 USD these are some very hard to argue with, entry-level mechanical watches. Too bad they didn’t quite make it out in time for Father’s Day. Next year, dad. Seiko