This Week (in Watches) Today, 14 June 2022: 7 things you should know

 

The past week started rather slowly, but then finished with aplomb. Norqain scored a major win in Jean-Claude Biver, WatchBox continues its expansion in two interesting locations, Jaeger LeCoultre made a collection changing move, and Seiko, IWC and Bradley Taylor give us their latest watches. These are the top 7 things in the world of watches; let’s get into it.

Jean-Claude Biver joins Norqain

Photo Credit: WatchPro

Jean Claude Biver has signed on with Norqain in an advisory role. Norqain has grown rapidly over the past couple of years. In 2021, the brand reported that its sales had grown about 50% despite being in the middle of the pandemic. While the brand has certainly benefitted from the experience its management had in Breitling, the scale that it has reached is extremely impressive.

Well it is now ready to take the next step with this renown industry heavyweight. Mr. Biver had previously revitalised brands like Blancpain, Omega, Hublot & TAG Heuer. Most recently, he announced that he would be starting his own watch brand. Mr Biver stated that he is in the stage of life where he finds value in sharing the wealth of experience he has accumulated over his 40 years in the industry with young talent and this is one avenue to do so. It will definitely be interesting to see what he can do with a relative newcomer aldbeit one with a very solid foundation.

 WatchBox opens in UK

Photo Credit: WatchPro

WatchBox has been expanding rapidly over the past 18 months or so, and its expansion now continues into the UK and China, or at least is expected to in the next 6 months. According to the company’s CEO, Justin Reis, these two markets are in the top five global watch markets, and would provide for ideal regions to expand its business into. Through its unique lounge retail concept which seeks to be more luxury comfort instead of sales point, WatchBox aims to be “home away from home for watch collectors” for these two regions which are major international business hubs. The UK in particular is an interesting choice for the brand since it is home to competitor, WatchFinder which has 80% of its turnover from the region. Despite the recent softening of the secondary market, the luxury watch market is still doing tremendously, and it will be interesting see how this expansion plays out over the coming months.

Jaeger LeCoultre adds bracelet to its Master Control collection

Martins of Glasgow Watch Servicing and Repair

It was 2020, the world was largely in lockdown, trade shows were cancelled, until Watches & Wonders stepped up to save the day, online any way. The standout release from that year was a Jaeger LeCoulture (JLC) Master Control Chronograph Calendar, watch that packed in a chronograph and a complete calendar all into a svelte 40mm x 12.05mm thick case. It instantly became a grail watch for me. Well that watch, along with the rest of the collection just got better.

JLC has added a bracelet option for the entire collection. Now before the outcry about why this is big news. That watch was always mismatched with its calf leather strap option because it wasn’t as dressy as the Master Ultra Thin series, nor as sporty as the Polaris collection. It was a perfect piece that bridged the two, but its hydrophobic leather strap was always going to hold it back from being used in anything other than cool comfortable settings. With a bracelet however, it now becomes the smart casual option it was always best suited to. Of course, that also comes with an increase in price, but you also get the leather strap from the original version so it is well worth it in my opinion.

Seiko 5 Sports GMT

If you are a fan of the SKX & “5KX” collections, but want something a little different from all the diver-styled options, well Seiko has the answer for you. The brand dropped three new watches in its “5KX” lineup, this time with additional GMT functionality. The watches are good-looking, and there is something about the addition of the GMT hand and 24-hour bezel that somehow refreshes the look of these models.

There are three dial variants but the orange one has to be the best, for me anyway. It might even make me look past my distaste for  4 o’clock crowns. That said, the introduction of this new movement from Seiko is probably the bigger news. After all, they pave the way for both Seiko and many other microbrands to release extremely affordable GMT-based watches, even if it’s a “caller GMT”. Check out the full article here.

Seiko Prospex Divers; SPB313, SPB315 & SPB317

Seiko has a gift for making large diameter dive watches wear more compact than the dimensions suggest. But for us still looking for smaller models the new Prospex Diver 200m SPB313, 315, and 317 do the trick. With inspiration being taken from the Turtle, this trio has a crown at 4 o’clock and a cushion case with 41mm x12.3mm x 47mm dimensions. The 12.3mm height makes this Seiko’s thinnest diver. They are paired to a 5-link bracelet with a divers’ extension or rubber strap for the SPB317.

Seiko didn’t take risks with the design of these releases which will either make them pass on as boring or perfectly classic divers. They are quintessential mostly brushed Seiko divers with white, black/gold, and black dials’ indices, and hands are taken from the Willard, with an added small color-matched date window at 4:30. I spend a lot of time not noticing the date window. Behind the case back is the caliber 6R35. These pieces sit on Seiko’s upper price. The SPB313 and 315 are priced at £990, and £810 for the SPB317. – Misael Alves

IWC Pilot 41 Chronograph in Bronze


IWC’s latest Pilot Chronograph 41 is a bronze piece, the second of its kind by the brand (first one being in SIHH in 2019). This latest release is largely similar to that initial Spitfire model, though it does not sit in the Spitfire collection. However, there are several valuable upgrades. The thickness is a major one, going almost a full millimeter down from 15.3mm to 14.5mm which should wear better. It’s also impressive that this thinner case comes with a display case back whereas the Spitfire variant had an engraved case back. It also gives the brand a chance to show off its in-house chronograph caliber 69385.

The most obvious difference between the latest release and the 2019 model would be the dial. Where the latter had a rugged olive green dial, this has a rich deep blue dial. Both pair with the warm tones of the bronze case extremely well and should work well even after the material’s unique patina forms. I prefer the blue if only because we have been over-saturated with green dials seem over the past year. On a side note, IWC was ahead of the curve on that one.

For all the upgrades that the latest Pilot’s chronograph has, you would have to pay a slight premium of EUR 660 since its retail price is EUR 7,650. To me, that is worth it for a more wearable case, & one that allows you to enjoy the finishing that has gone into this in-house caliber.

Bradley Taylor Lutria

Photo Credit: Bradley Taylor

Finally, independent watchmaker Bradley Taylor has released its second watch model, the Lutria. The Canadian based brand started just over a year ago and has a focus on making traditional dress watches updated with modern proportions & specifications.

The Lutria is housed in the same 39mm x 9.8mm x 47mm case as the original, the Paragon. This is slightly larger that I believe a pure dress watch should be, but it never crosses into a sporty territory. The dial plays a big part in that, given its beautiful ocean waves guilloché pattern in your choice of ocean turquoise or salmon. While not produced in-house, the dial comes from Comblemine, dial production company of the renown Kari Voutilainen. What is produced in-house, is the arrow head hands with your choice of a fully polished or heat purpled treatment. These are all brought together by alternating highly polished Arabic numerals & bead indices, a smart choice that allows the guilloché pattern to stand out.

Despite the dressy aesthetic, the watch has an impressive 120m water resistance that is even more remarkable given how slim it is. Of course, that slimness is primarily attributed to the use of a hand guilloché, 22 karat micro-rotor powered movement (3Hz, 48 hours power reserve) produced by  Vaucher, which also comes with hand finishing that rivals that on the dial.

Overall, the watch is a very classy watch that can withstand day to day use, something that I really appreciate.

Photo Credit: Bradley Taylor

So that is it for this week. As always, get in on all the action on the Scottish Watches website, and of course, the podcast on your podcaster of choice. Till next time, take care everyone.