UPDATE — June 4th, 2020: As always, the saga continues. The world is on fire, an outcry for change is being heard echo across the globe. We stand in support of those fighting for change, and we’re hopeful that through peace and perseverance we will see tangible steps taken to bring equality to the world.
That said, readers come to Watchuseek for an escape into their beloved hobby, and in a moment of respite we’re taking time to once again update you on the latest watch releases we’ve seen over the course of the last few weeks.
After a bit of pondering, we’ve decided to build this page out as a rolling compendium of the year’s watch releases. As we fetch more news, spot more noteworthy releases, and find time amongst the other larger business priorities at hand (Watchuseek is unfortunately one of several sites that need tending, and my working hours are being pulled elsewhere more than usual. —J. Mastine-Frost), we will endeavor to update this list with new releases for your reading pleasure.
MB&F / H. Moser & Cie LM101 and Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon
In the boundary-pushing indie space, this pair of watches is the biggest and best collaboration we’ve seen since De Bethune and URWerk teamed up for their Only Watch charity piece; the difference here is that these pieces are actually heading for open market. For the LM101, MB&F took their existing model and mated it with the sterile Moser Concept Watch dial design. No logos, just a hand set indicating hours and minutes, alongside a power reserve indication floating freely with no terminal points to be seen. Is it practical? Not necessarily, but it’s an absolutely stunning execution. The LM101 is also the most wearable of the Legacy Machine series, measuring 40mm in diameter compared to its 44mm counterparts.
In the case of the Moser Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon we go the other way. You have a Moser caliber, the cylindrical hairspring previously built by Moser’s sister company (Preciflex Engineering AG) for the MB&F Thunderdome, and a canted dial much akin to said previous release, all fitted in a Moser-designed left handed casing. Both models are cased in stainless steel (a rare thing at MB&F), and are priced at $79,000 for the Moser and $52,000 for the MB&F.
Longines Spirit Collection
On the more conservative end of the spectrum, as much visually as in pricing strategy, Longines has taken yet another dive into its historical archives with the re-release of the Spirit collection. At present, three new chronometer-certified automatic models are on offer—the 3-hand version, offered in both 40 and 42mm variants with a grained silver and black dial option, and a column-wheel chronograph in blue. All models are using fairly high-spec calibers, with silicon hairsprings visible via their display casebacks. The 3-hand models will offer a power reserve of 64 hours, and the chronograph 60. You’ll notice the extra pusher on the chronograph; sadly it’s not a split-seconds chronograph, but rather a quick-set date pusher.
Zelos Horizons GMT V2
Well, Zelos is at it again. The brand has long been a personal favorite (I’ve owned several over the years), and this latest update to the Horizons GMT is a solid one. The watch uses the ETA 2893 GMT caliber fitted with a custom rotor—nothing too fancy, but well executed for the sub-$1k category— and features a mix of brushed and polished finishes throughout. Its bracelet is one of the nicest I’ve seen from the brand thus far, closely rivalling the bracelet execution of the Monta OceanKing. The changes in the V2 are relatively straightforward. Its case thickness is cut down to 11mm (from 12), it uses a box-style sapphire crystal, its bezel options are all lumed sapphire, and the bracelet comes as standard kit with all dial variants. Prices range from $749 to $899, though the top end meteorite model is already sold out.
Wempe Iron Walker
The battle of the steel sports watches rages on, and the longstanding watch retailer Wempe has clearly heard the call from consumers for more approachable alternatives. The Iron walker collection is not some cheap “slap our brand logo on it and call it a day” watch like we see from fashion houses or other small run-of-the-mill retailers, but rather a line of quality Glashütte-built chronometer certified steel watches targeted at people capable of looking beyond the logo and hype that plagues the category. These pieces all use ETA/Valjoux based calibers—the Valjoux 7753 for the chronograph, measuring 42mm in diameter and 13.95mm thick, the ETA 2892-A2 for the 40mm mens auto, 42mm diver, and 36mm ladies automatic, and the ETA E64-111 for the quartz models. There’s definitely some “taking inspiration” at play here in terms of design, but given the price point of between $2,750 and $4,250 I’m not particularly fussed about it. When looking at the chronograph its hard not to see echoes of the current Vacheron Constantin Overseas. The 3-handers are clearly reminiscent of the IWC Ingenieur, whereas the diver (a personal favorite) is more akin to earlier IWC Aquatimer models when they still used an integrated strap/bracelet and internal rotating bezel.
Ocean Crawler Great Lakes
Back to the affordables in our list of updates, we were recently taking a look at the Sellita powered Great Lakes diver by Ocean Crawler. Most often known for larger pieces, the Great Lakes comes in a 39mm diameter compressor style case, albeit one that’s surprisingly chunky. It’s only 44mm from lug to lug but its 13.5mm case thickness makes for a pretty dramatic drop off at its lugs. On the wrist the piece takes a bit of getting used to, but in the end the shape works to its advantage. Most divers in the sub-40mm range start feeling a bit undersized and light, so this piece makes for a good compromise of visual heft without hanging off a smaller diameter wrist.
UPDATE—June 4th, 2020
Even with COVID-19 rearing its ugly head, the end of April remained busy in the watch world—as was intended should Baselworld and Watches & Wonders (ex. SIHH) have gone ahead in a virus-free world. For the watch reporters this makes for an interesting time. You’ll note that we’ve been quiet here on Watchuseek thus far—this is at least in part intentional, as we weren’t particularly keen on bringing you the same press-released news as every other watch outlet in a world where in 99% of cases, no one has actually seen these watches in-hand.
Bell & Ross BR03-92 HUD
Love them or hate them, Bell & Ross sure know how to do things differently. They’ve long had cockpit-instrument inspired pieces in their BR01 and BR03 collections, and new for 2020 comes the BR03-92 HUD—short for heads-up display. The piece uses the same BR-CAL.302 movement seen in other pieces of the series, with a pointed painted on a central disc to display its hour indications. The heads-up influence comes in the form of its green tinted sapphire crystal (far darker and more over than the faint tinge of the Rolex Milgauss), and the use of green section brackets on the underside of the crystal at the four corners of its dial. Though we can appreciate it being limited to only 999 pieces, we could have done without the small ‘LTD’ Logo in the bottom left corner. Otherwise though this is a solid effort that remains very true to the brand’s design codes. Its retail price is $3,990, and it’s currently available through the brand’s e-commerce portal.
De Bethune DB28XP
Celebrating 10 years of De Bethune’s flagship model, The DB28XP has landed as the new hero piece of the collection. It’s not a watch that has needed much changing. The DB28 is one of the most comfortable to wear watches on the planet, and its overall design, finishing, and general charm is hard to ignore. Dennis Flageolet is never one to rest on his laurels, so for this anniversary edition the mission was simple—how to make the DB28 and ‘ultra-thin’? The spherical moonphase complication has been stripped, and its cased has been given an added finesse, trimming, and some fresh curves in the process. The end result is a DB28XP that measures 43mm in diameter and a very modest 7.2mm thick. By comparison, the standard model is 9.3mm between the calipers. The titanium cased gem is priced at $79,000—not a small ask but reasonable within their current pricing strategy for a watch a beautiful as this, with a completely in-house caliber loaded with several patented engineering feats, including their shock protection system terminal curve balance, and regulating organ design.
Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph
Not everything in the Montblanc watch catalog sparks enthusiast interest these days, however This latest Monopusher Chronograph in the 1858 caught our attention in a hurry, especially upon seeing its modest sticker price. The vintage-styled piece draws inspiration from the defunct Minerva, with classic Pilot style indices, and basic brushed-finished cases that speak to more tool-focused use. They’re 42mm in diameter, with the bronze model as a limited edition (undisclosed but we expect 1858 pieces), and the steel model heading for serial production. The steel model is priced very competitively for a monopusher chronograph, coming in at $4,900 on leather strap. There will be a bracelet version available shortly, though pricing there is not yet available.
For anyone into tool watches that doesn’t have a larger wrist, the Sinn U1 was a watch that so many of us wished would come in a smaller size. Enter the U50—problem solved. In specification its depth rating is 500m instead of 1,000, but it uses the same tegimented hardening process for its steel, is powered by the Sellita SW300-1. For an initial launch, it’s being offered with a black dial with red accents, on bracelet or rubber strap as seen in the image above.
URWerk UR-100 Gold C-3PO
URWerk never shies away from a chance to be playful—a reality hammered home by the launch of their new gold case variant of the UR-100 with the nickname C-3PO on May the fourth. The UR-100 arrived as a hit from the brand last fall, entering as a completely new and compact design that still carries key hallmarks of URWerk design and time telling codes. It was their first stab at a more ‘entry level’ piece, and its two 25-piece launch editions (covered here) sold out in a hurry. This new version is equally limited, and priced at $60,000 USD—still more approachable than any other release from the brand in a precious metal, but not exactly a budget buy. Given its complexity, that is by no means a point of critique.
Jaeger LeCoultre Master Control Chronograph Calendar
From a fan favorite to a personal favorite, the Jaeger LeCoultre Master Control Chronograph Calendar is one of those watches that I’ve been pining for for quite some time. There’s just something about the triple date moonphase chronograph that has always caught my eye, and in recent years there haven’t been many brands offering this specific combination of complications. For this particular example, JLC got both the aesthetics and the proportions just right. At 40mm across and 12.05mm thick it’s as compact as one could hope for without a budget busting ultra-thin caliber, and it inherently feels a little vintage on account of the complication without the brand resorting to faux patina or other overplayed tricks. It’s not pushing any boundaries in terms of innovation, but at $14,500 I wouldn’t expect it to either.
Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Watch
Though painfully unattainable for all but a select few, the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept watch needs to be mentioned. You’re looking at the new record-holding ultrathin in the watch world—a piece that was unveiled as a concept in 2018, and is now going into (very limited) production. The piece (the ENTIRE piece, not just the movement) measures 2mm thick. It’s a beautiful example of watchmaking at its bleeding edge of technical capability, and the idea of having 167 of its movement components shaved down to a thickness of 0.12mm is hard to wrap your head around. For a closer look, check out their video here. We’re still looking for more details on their ‘cobalt-based alloy’ used for the case (Piaget doesn’t like using steel, and they found gold to be too soft given the dimensions at hand), but given how much else is going on with this piece it’s not especially relevant. Expect a six figure sticker price for this record breaker, as price is listed as ‘Upon Request’.
Panerai Luminor Marina Carbotech PAM01118
The Panerai Carbotech range Has expanded yet again, though in a very visual way for 2020. It seems that Panerai has caught on to the fact that Panerai enthusiasts are often also lume enthusiasts, leading them to create this beast. With a couple of fully luminous dials in my personal collection, I don’t hate the added treatment one bit, and I’m also impressed with Panerai’s decision to back this 270-piece limited edition run with a 70-year warranty (then again, at $16,000 they can afford to throw in some service work). There’s no real story to tell as of yet, and what’s also surprising is that they’re putting this warranty on their run-of-the-mill in-house P.9010 automatic caliber. This is a different play than the last big warranty Lab ID Carbotech piece that arrived with a sleek carbon caliber and 50-year warranty.
A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus White Gold
Arriving in a new metal and on a different strap combination is anything but big news, however I was impressed to see how much of a change the transition to a grey dial and rubber strap has made on the Lange Odysseus. Its overall case and bracelet design (as originally launched in steel) was a bit polarizing, and I’m still not convinced about the case shape here (waiting for post-COVID hands-on impressions). If you liked the blue dial but found the bracelet to be a bit ‘too much’, this does make for a more subdued alternative. Pricing is set at 39,500 Euros.
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