This week has been a busy one, with Tudor, Grand Seiko and Patek Philippe releasing watches on consecutive days before a local Singaporean brand, Zelos decided to join in fun. In other news, we have Cartier break auction records, drug dealers using luxury watches as currency and Bremont partnering with Williams Racing. These are the top 7 things in the world of watches; let’s get into it.
Record breaking Cartier London watches
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If you were to ask the average person about Cartier today, chances are you would only hear about some aspect of its wonderful jewellery business, and for good reason. However, Cartier has had a long history in watchmaking and has done some incredible work just in the past few years. It appears that interest in the watch world for vintage Cartier pieces has picked up, particularly for Cartier London pieces. In a recent auction by Watches of Knightsbridge, a Cartier Octagonal sold of a world record (for the model) £120,192. This is in line with an earlier auction result at Philips Geneva Watch Auction XIII where a Cartier London Pebble Baseball set a record when it sold for £120,192. With most of the demand today being for steel sports watches whether modern or vintage, I for one, am pleased to see some of these yellow gold dress pieces get their day in the limelight.
Drug Dealers & Luxury Watches
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Speaking of hotly demanded watches, with prices of luxury watches such as Rolex sports models sky rocketing in the past five years or so, it appears that organised crime has started using them as currency to trade with, according to the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB). Drug dealers, in particular make up the majority of those whom CAB has found to be using such forms of currency. While there is no denying the seriousness of this darker shadier side of things, the one thing I find interesting is that in this world, Hublots are mentioned in the same breath as Rolex, AP and Patek Philippe. Given that Hublot clearly doesn’t hold its value or appreciate the way the other three do, I wonder if it’s a case of criminals not caring or knowing about what the loss that they take in converting cash into watches. The other option of course, is that Hublot has successfully positioned itself in the minds of consumers as a symbol of success, and therefore is held in the same regard as the other three. I guess I’ll never know. Still, on a more serious note, it is always good to be aware of the darker side of this hobby.
Bremont partners with Williams Racing
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If you heard the 24 May 2021 podcast with guest Frank Stephenson, you would have heard all about some of the overlaps between watch and racing car design. Bremont certainly seems to subscribe to this philosophy as it has now partnered with F1’s Williams Racing. The official partnership is for Bremont to be the Official Timing Partner for the Williams Racing, though co-founder Giles English believes there is bound to be more crossover on a manufacturing and technical level. It is definitely interesting to see where these two British businesses go from here.
Tudor Black Bay Ceramic
So Tudor didn’t release the watch that many believed they would i.e. a Marine Nationale watch, which to be fair, was not something the brand announced that it would be releasing. What it did release though, was its most technically advanced watch yet, a ceramic Black Bay with a METAS certified movement. It is a cool, stealthy watch that looks remarkably like the piece released at Only Watch in 2019, but with more legible lume in a white/off-white shade. As you would imagine, the monobloc case is fully ceramic which would help to ward off those dastardly scratches shows shiny silver underneath, something the Black Bay dark potentially faced. Its bezel insert is also ceramic, for the first time in the Black Bay history. It is a shame though, that the bezel itself, the crown, and buckle that comes on the hybrid leather rubber strap is PVD coated, given that these are the parts of the watch that tends to face a lot of wear. Still, it is a good value watch, particularly with the highly rated METAS certified movement that before was the domain of Omega. This is especially when considering that a similarly spec-ed watch from the latter costs almost double and you don’t get the extra strap that comes with this release. Now if only the brand would release this in the perfectly proportions Fifty-Eight size. For more, check out my first impressions here.
Grand Seiko STGF359
With the Tudor Black Bay Ceramic taking up all the attention last Wednesday, it would be hard to fault anyone for missing out another far quieter release, this time from Grand Seiko. Grand Seiko released the STGF359, which is, in my opinion, an extremely important watch that is vastly different from what its current offerings, at least in the international market. The irony is that the watch bears what is probably the brand’s most well-known dial, the snowflake dial. What then is different about the watch? For starters, it is only a mere 28.9mm, and it comes with the standard more angular case that the brand uses on several of its entry models. What is really different though, is what the watch does not have, i.e. any adornment of jewellery, or an oddly shaped case. This makes the watch viable every day option for those who prefer a size is stereotypically associated with women, where previously, they would only have had odd case shapes that were covered in gemstones. The quartz movement of course does break the mold but this is definitely a good start from the brand. For more, check out my thoughts here.
Patek Philippe Aquanauts
Speaking of ladies watches, Patek Philippe has released not one, not two, but five new watches to its ladies Aquanaut collection. In has also added two chronographs to its men’s collection, increasing its overall collection by 7 pieces. While it is a shame that the five additions to the ladies collection feature only diamond studded bezels, at least there are three dial options to pick from, olive green, navy, and white. The white dial models offer great additional options as well, with two models in rose gold, that have either an automatic movement or a cool quartz travel time movement. The additions to the men’s collection feature white gold fly-back chronograph options that have olive green or navy blue dials. With the Nautilus bidding adieu this year, fans and scalpers alike would no doubt turn their sights to the already hotly demanded Aquanaut. and these additions would at least create a greater variety to choose from. And while most would not actually be able to choose anything, these additions would at least spread the demand out a little more. Availability aside, I for one have never really liked the Nautilus’ design and personally, and ironically feel that the Aquanaut’s design is far more elegant. These are no exceptions and do expand the current collection in a meaningful way.
Zelos Mirage 2 Eight-Day Skeleton
Finally, we have something that is far less prohibitive, price wise, though it will be difficult to say the same for availability. Zelos, a Singaporean microbrand (I am certainly biased here), has just released its Mirage 2 collection of watches. These watches follow up from the initial Mirage Tourbillon collection, and feature equally cool, if not cooler, pieces. This is evident with just one look at the semi-open-worked dial that allows a visual appreciation of the beautifully finished twin barrels that are designed somewhat like turbines. Of course, I am merely judging off photos, but given that the movement the calibre LJP7500 from the renown La Joux-Perret, I would not expect anything less. The movement has an 8-day power reserve which you can tell from the 12 o’clock sub-dial, and is also visible via the open case back. The portion of the gunmetal grey and black dial that is not open-worked is finished with an intricate patterns that when combined with the turbine twin barrels gives the watch a rather futuristic appeal. That futuristic vibe is further enhanced by some of the case material options such as Zirconium-Titanium alloy (an industry first), tantalum and sapphire. The Zirconium-Titanium alloy, in particular, sports a hand-torched finish that gives it something akin to charred lines on a well-grilled steak that loos really cool. Unfortunately, there are no photos available at this time of for the tantalum and sapphire options. For the more conservative, there is also the more normal titanium case and bracelet option. While the price, that ranges from US$3,900 to US$8,900, is relatively more than the regular offerings from the brand (usually under S$1,000), the kind of value on offer is remarkable and unparalleled. It is also extremely limited, with only 25 to 50 pieces of each variant depending on the material used. For those interested, order start at 11PM in Singapore (GMT +8), so happy camping.
So that is it for this week. As always, get in on all the action on the Scottish Watches website, YouTube Channels (Scottish Watches, Scottish Watches Live & Watches Unboxed) and of course, the podcasts on your podcaster of choice. Till next time, take care everyone.
Photo Credit: WatchPro