This Week (in Watches) Today, 28 June 2022: 7 things you should know

The Seiko Group would be really happy this week, since both its main Seiko brand and more luxury Grand Seiko brand picked up design awards. We also have a flurry of fun and interesting releases, from Hublot, Fears, Garrick. These are the top 7 things in the world of watches; let’s get into it.

Grand Seiko SLGH005 “White Birch” wins Red Dot Award

I wonder if Grand Seiko knew how much of a winner it had on its hands when it released its SLGH005 “White Birch” last year. Well, here we are a year later with this first regular production Calibre 9SA5 powered model having just snagged its second award in the Red Dot Product Design for Wristwatches. The Red Dot Award looks for the best designs of the period and receives thousands of entries in each edition. The judging panel is made up of 48 members from 23 different countries who were presented with each entry via video calls, while having the products available to view in person at the Red Dot judging hall. Snagging this award speaks to the brilliance of the brand’s relatively new Evolution 9 design which carries all the hallmarks of Grand Seiko’s design ethos while taking on a brand new form.

Seiko SLA055 1968 Modern Reinterpretation also wins Red Dot Award

Not to be left out, Seiko also picked up a Red Dot Design Award for its 1968 Diver re-issue, the SLA055. While Seiko’s first diver was introduced in 1965, its first 300m water resistant watch was only produced in 1968 for the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition. Seiko introduced the re-issue to this historic model late last year as a Save the Ocean limited edition. The watch came with largely the same aesthetic but had updated proportions, a beautiful smoked ocean blue dial and the brand’s latest “Ever Brilliant” steel which is the brand’s proprietary take on 904L steel. It also came with a be brand’s higher quality calibre 8L35. Ironically, it had 100m less water resistance than the original. Still, it has done enough to impress the jurors from Red Dot and is another testament to the wonderful work that the brand puts out.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Essential Grey

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Hublot is often gets a bad rep in watch enthusiasts circles because of its overall blingy, flashy celebrity association, but it is actually a very solid watch brand, at least to me. Its work with different materials is second to none & in the Big Bang collection, the brand has that oft coveted in-house calibre i.e. HUB1280, a flyback chronograph movement with 72 hours of power reserve.

The latest release in this collection is the Unico Essential Grey, which is apt, since the watch pares the collection’s classic 42mm x 52mm x 14.6mm proportions down to its bare essentials, amazingly, without being boring. Hublot usual brilliance at mixing brushed and polished surfaces comes to the fore here. I’m a fan even if this isn’t a small watch.

The watch comes with the usual openworked dial with dual sub-registers & large alternating Arabic numerals & bar indices as well as the printed logo on the inside of the sapphire crystal. It is paired with both a fabric Velcro strap that could be confused with a Milanese bracelet and a rubber strap option will make for a very comfortable wear especially with a titanium case.

At US$20,900, it isn’t a cheap watch. Then again, no Hublot is. This is rather limited though, with only 200 pieces available. If you can stomach the price though & snag one before it sells out, you would have an awesome looking watch to enjoy.

Fears X Toppers Brunswick 40 Edition

Fears has been in a collaborative mood recently with its second collaborative project in a few months, this time with Topper Jewellers. The pair of watches present a series of first for Fears, given that it is the first sporty watch from what is currently a rather dressy brand. The infusion of this sportiness comes from the firsts from the brand including a slightly larger 40mm x 46.5mm x 11.1mm Brunswick case, which is 100m water resistant & the first automatic movement (top grade ETA 2824) the brand has used since the 1970s. However, listing these changes merely as specs are somewhat reductive. After all, the two companies went back to the drawing board and really designed the new case from the ground up to ensure it retains the understated elegance

The California dials in particular are the result of the close attention to detail that we are accustomed to from Fears. Between the inky liquid white lacquer, the grainy black texture, & the beautifully lume-filled applied markers, these two pieces are not your run-of-the-mill limited editions with token changes. My favourite is naturally the white dial variant something I love on sporty watches, though the black dial has a touch more playfulness with its bright yellow seconds hand.

To me, by shifting to a more sporty direction, Fears is giving up what in my opinion is most obvious differentiating factor it has from Panerai. Its an unfair comparison for sure since Fears use of cushion cases started earlier, but the Fifty-Fathoms & Smiths’ Everest are tell-tale lessons that life isn’t always fair. What Fears has going for it is its amazing quality that shows up in the small details which you would probably have to experience in person to fully appreciate. Regardless, as of the time of writing, all 50 pieces (25 each) have sold out so it is a rather moot point.

Louis Vuitton Spin Time

The Louis Vuitton trunk manufacturers in Paris have been making Spin Time watches since 2009 and the 2022 Escale collection stands in fine company. For the first time, Spin Time watches are available in stainless steel with PVD coated areas within a 41mm case.

There are two variants each of which shares a movement made by La Fabrique du Temps and uses a novel way to indicate the hours. Conventional indices are replaced by eleven cubes with the 12th space reserved for the actual hour. This is certainly unique, quite shockingly so for the rainbow version where all the cubes are highly colored.

These are the most restrained of the Spin Time collection and because of that are the most attractive. The novel way of indicating the time is more successfully integrated into the case and dial and adds a degree of class to the previous excesses. These won’t be for everyone but they are brave and unique designs that in this toned-down form deserve wider recognition. Priced at $35,500 these will be rare guaranteed talking points should one find its way onto your wrist. – Mark Wheeler

Garrick S5

Recent decades have seen a re-emergence of British brands that honor the ingenuity and craftsmanship that once made Britain today’s Switzerland. Few do it as well as Garrick. The latest range to come out of Norfolk, England is the S5 which caused a lot of fanfare when the 3D printed case and partial movement were first teased. The actual pictures do not disappoint. This evolution brings in a new case design, dial layout, and movement that together make up a great classical watch

The S5 refines Garrick’s DNA, starting with the case at 39mm in diameter. It is a size that the dress watch-loving part of the community will be smitten with because it offers enough presence while keeping a classical profile. The elegance of the case can’t be solely attributed to the decrease from a 42 to 39mm but also its rounder profile, similar to the recent Fears Garrick collaboration, with fully polished surfaces on both the steel and gold versions. If this is the new design language of the brand, especially with that amazing hand-guilloché dial, I’m fully on board. Check out my thoughts in the full article here. – Misael Alves

Citizen Tsuyosa Collection

In the market for an integrated bracelet steel sports watch? Who isn’t these days? And who isn’t giving you options? Citizen is throwing another one of their hats into the ring at a very competitive price point of 299 euros. Not only competitive in its pricing but also specks.

The Citizen Tsuyosa Collection comes with a vertically brushed and polished 40mm tonneau case that’s water-resistant to 50m, and the crown is placed at 4 o’clock. The finishing of the case could be considered the budget version of what we find in the caliber 200 which still means you’re getting a lot for your buck. The integrated bracelet has polished inner and brushed outer rounded links in a 3-link setup. Sapphire is featured on both sides of the watch for the display case back, where we see the in-house caliber 8210, with a gilded finish, running at 3Hz and that stores 40 hours of power reserve, and on the dial side with a cyclops to aid the viewing of the date at 3 o’clock.

The dials are simple with rectangular markers and hands. The four available colors are yellow, my favorite, green, a color that’s been appearing more in this style of watch, and the classic blue and back. Would you go with these over the competition? Available in July. – Misael Alves

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.