70 years of the FIFTY FATHOMS The Sustainable Issue
WATCHES | STYLE | CULTURE ISSUE 89
RACING | IN-HOUSE STYLE |
I don’t care what the socially acceptable timeframe is here, as our first issue of the year I’m just going to come out and say it: Happy New Year! Partly, I need to keep reminding myself that it is indeed 2023; partly to remind myself that it’s a big year ahead. Not only do we have plans here at Oracle, but on a personal note I’ll be married before 2024.
It’s also a big year for Blancpain who are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the iconic Fifty Fathoms, a diving watch that has launched a fleet of imitators, but remains the grand dame of professional divers. From military specs to Jaques Cousteau, James Buttery ruminates on the storied history of the Fifty Fathoms on page 48 - and takes a look at its future. Want a sneak peak? Check out our cover.
Now, watchmaking in general is a relatively sustainable industry. The most a mechanical watch needs – other than regular servicing – is lubrication and that’s not exactly a full tank of oil. But even then, there are some brands pioneering new and exciting angles from which to up their environmental credentials.
In this issue’s sandy shoot on page 81, we discover a selection of those pieces, which use everything from recycled steel to upcycled straps to keep their carbon footprint as low as possible. It also helps that many of them are just good looking watches. After all, what good is an eco-friendly timepiece if nobody wants to wear the thing?
That said, cutting-edge materials aren’t the only way to keep things sustainable. In fact, one way is looking to the past by using movements that would otherwise be sitting in a box gathering dust. Find out more about New Old Stock movements and the watches that use them on page 43. Microbrands too tend to relatively sustainable. Low production, an entrepreneurial need to make the most of everything, a direct-to-consumer structure, these small, agile brands are innately eco-conscious. They also happen to make some of the coolest, most accessible takes on watchmaking around. There are a lot out there, so check out our guide to the best of 2023 on page 124, fit for every budget. From funky impulse buys to haute horology without the price tag, there’s a lot to love.
The watch industry isn’t the only one looking for ways to stay relevant in an ever more environmentally conscious world. Take racing, for example. Yes, car racing. As Adam HayNicholls investigates, not only has Formula 1 futureproofed their high-octane racing, but both Formula E and Extreme E have been blazing a trail for electric-powered speed. Extreme E in particular are even doing their part for the environment outside of racing. Find out how on page 91.
Closer to home, Charlie Thomas takes a look at the British brands promoting home grown and home made style. From Private White VC to Malloch’s, not only are they giving a platform to British manufacturing, the results are classic styles with a carbon footprint of next to nothing. It’s a good look, aesthetically and ethically.
Finally, if you’re tired of reading the word ‘sustainability’ and just want to read about a guy that wrestles crocodiles – that’s very specific but ok – we have you covered. Dominic Bliss talks to Netflix’s Crocodile Wrangler, Matt Wright on page 38. I won’t spoil it here, but he’s a lad.
Whether you’re sticking to your New Year’s resolution to keep vegan or simply want to get yourself a shiny new watch sans carbon guilt, look no further than these pages. So, stay safe, stay sane, and if anyone knows how to plan a wedding… help.
And as ever, enjoy this issue.
Sam Kessler, Editor
KEEP IN TOUCH: @oracle_time | @oracle_time | facebook.com/oracleoftime | oracleoftime.com
Photography: Alex Teuscher
ORACLE TIME #89
Watch: Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
WATCHES | STYLE | CULTURE
EDITOR Sam Kessler email@example.com
ART DIRECTOR Hicham Kasbi firstname.lastname@example.org
Shane C. Kurup
Shane is a men’s style editor who has worked for a range of leading titles, including The MR PORTER Journal, Men’s Health UK, Esquire US, PORT, The Telegraph and Wallpaper*. He’s rather partial to a jazzy silk shirt, wide-leg trousers and a gin and Dubonnet (or three).
lives and breathes watches, editing watch industry bible WatchPro before moving to QP magazine.
He has been called on to comment on watches and the industry by the BBC, CNN and the International New York Times among others.
Dominic Bliss is a London-based journalist, specialising in long-form feature writing for the likes of National Geographic, Men’s Health and GQ. His late grandfather once owned a beautiful antique Jaeger-LeCoultre watch, an heirloom which sadly ended up on the wrist of another member of the family.
specialises in Formula 1, expensive cars and luxury travel, and contributes to GQ, the Sunday Telegraph , City A.M. and Metro. Among his many international adventures, he’s raced McLarens in the Arctic Circle, been a chauffeur in Las Vegas and flown non-stop around the world by private jet.
James began collecting wristwatches around 35 years ago and writing about them a decade later; his third book, this one on the Hans Wilsdorf years at Rolex in London and Geneva will be published in the New Year. His recent pronouncement that quartz timekeeping was the most important horological advance of the 20th Century has seen him ostracised from almost all polite watch circles. But still he persists.
Brad has been a watch enthusiast for over a decade. He has a very poor memory for watch references, but a love of anything that looks pretty. He has also dabbled in photography for a number of brands, is partial to a Ducati and enjoys spending weekends making vroom vroom noises on country roads. You can follow him on instagram @ bradwatch
Charlie Thomas is a UK-based writer and photographer. An eternal pessimist, he has an equal love of both fine food and KFC. His work has appeared in The Independent, The Times, NME, the London Evening Standard, Tatler and Esquire.
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ORACLE TIME #89
by Stephens & George Ltd using vegetable-based inks onto materials which have been sourced
18 — AFICIONADO
Discover all the latest on our radar and what should be in your basket this month
24 — NEWS
What’s going on in the world of luxury, haute horology and the latest current affairs
38 — THE CROC DOC
Tackling the largest reptiles on the planet with the ultimate crocodile wrangler
43 — THE ORACLE SPEAKS
The pros and cons of fitting a new watch with an old heart of New Old Stock movements
48 — FATHOMS DEEP
From Jacques Cousteau to the Special Forces, a deep dive into the history – and revival – of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
luminous hour markers
Fathoms Deep — p48
OT MAGAZINE / ISSUE 89
Legibility underwater was to be paramount, aided by a case larger than the dainty offerings of the day with a black dial and large
ORACLE TIME #89
It’s built like a tank, looks like a sports car, and dives like a submarine
Oracle Time Microbrand Guide 2023 — p124
57 — CROWNING MOMENT
Mr Rolex himself predicts the coming year for the watch with the crown
66 — KEEPING IT IN-HOUSE
The British-made brands that place quality above quantity
SUSTAINABLY SHOT WATCHES
The horological stars that are moving watchmaking into a green frame of mind
91 — RACING GREEN
The most environmentallyfriendly sport is motorsport, apparently
100 — FREE-D PRINTING
How SevenFriday is embracing the future with their 3D printed piece of insanity
104 — MEN OF INFLUENCE
Bremont’s Nick English open up about Fender Telecasters and living life to the full
111 — WATCH REVIEWS
Oracle Time gets hands on with Andersen Geneve, a Fears collab, and Audemars Piguet
124 — OT MICROBRAND GUIDE 2023
Our annual deep dive into the ever-creative world of microbrands, conveniently arranged by price
RESTAURANT AND BAR NEWS
The best restaurants across London to break you New Year resolutions in this month
145 – UNSUNG VINTAGE HERO
A giant of a bygone era that produced one of the most advanced divers in the world
148 – IN FOCUS
Architecture meets horology, heritage and creativity combine, and Finnish icons create a capsule collection
160 – MOVIE WATCH
Exploring the movie in which the mystery is as obvious and fun as the timepieces on show
91 80 66 38
ORACLE TIME #89
edited by: SAM KESSLER
The coolest things in sustainability right now
ON YOUR BIKE
E-bikes are nothing new, but neither are many of them all that visually appealing. The Pendler from Layer Design combines an eye-catching u-shaped design and a hidden electric motor. To make life easier, it also comes with a series of detachable accessories for carrying shopping and luggage, or securing your phone. It’s a modern, compact solution to urban travel with fantastic performance and all the charm of a vintage bike ride along the Seine. It’s just a concept for now, but with promise like this, here’s hoping it comes to a painfully chic neighbourhood near you soon.
SENSE & SUSTAINABILITY
It may seem strange that Six Senses haven’t spread their particular style of sustainable luxury to the Caribbean yet, but coming later this year the resort group will be opening their first site across 38 acres of southern Grenada. The low-rise (no higher than a palm tree) village will be connected with paths made from natural materials like cocoa and nutmeg shells, all centred around the brand’s signature spa, which is only accessible via gondola. With views of bright blue lagoons and tropical beaches, you will be able experience the spice isle at its natural best.
Opening late 2023, sixsenses.com
The biggest reveal from Sony at this year’s CES wasn’t some gargantuan screen, but a car – the tech giant’s first electric car, to be precise. Built in collaboration with Honda, Afeela is billed as a media room on four wheels. That includes screens in every direction and a programmable rear light show to tell tailgaters just how much you appreciate them. Essentially a four-door saloon follow-up to Sony’s previous Vision-S cars, technical details are sparse other than the tech focus, with 45 cameras and sensors, the Unreal graphics engine and a top-end processor from Qualcomm. It’s basically a gaming rig on wheels. Grand Turismo, anyone?
Due for delivery in 2026, sony.co.uk
When is a blanket not just a blanket? When it’s made by Italian designers Fabiola di Virgilio and Andrea Rosso, aka REdDUO. Their new Loads of Lines collection is a limited series of blankets in a funky, pop art statement of swooshes and colour. Better yet, all of them are made using discarded wool, repurposed by a trio of tailors and then hand-painted and finished with an upcycled label. They’re as sustainable as you can get and, because of the processes to achieve that, incredibly limited. And incredibly cool.
From €530 (approx. £470), redmilk.space
CLAE X BEDWIN AND THE HEARTBREAKERS
Teaming up with LA-based sneaker brand Clae (a champion of West Coast style and sustainability), Japanese label Bedwin & The Heartbreakers have launched an upcycled capsule collection. The unisex sneakers use scraps of material left over from Bedwin’s main line to create a patchwork everyday shoe. The material used comes specifically from Amsterdam manufactuer Byborre, which have also created a series of sweatshirts from the same scraps. The entire collection is cool, understated, and eco-friendly in the extreme.
Yen 27,500 (approx. £170), bedwintokyo.com
ROLEX ANNOUNCE PLANS TO ADD VALUE IN 2023
We might be a full month into 2023 but all eyes continue to be trained on Rolex to see what the biggest name in watchmaking has planned for the year ahead. Realistically we won’t hear about any new watch launches until Watches & Wonders later in the year, but the Rolex news is still flowing. Just before Christmas they announced a new certified preowned watches service. The project is simple enough. Rolex will take in a pre-owned watch, service it, check that everything’s above board and then issue it a new, two-year warranty. If anyone’s going to know what they’re talking about, it’s (hopefully) the Crown. It will then go to retail through a certified Rolex authorised dealer.
Additionally, the start of the new year has seen the inevitable and dreaded price rises. However, in reality the rises aren’t as bad as expected. The standard steel no date Submariner has gone from £7,500 to £7,700, a change of just £200 and 2.7%. It’s a similar story for their other hype watches as well, the steel Daytona rising from £12,150 to a clean £12,500, a mark up of 2.9%. The average 2.5% rise across the catalogue sits below the current rate of inflation in the UK.
THE LATEST FROM THE WORLD OF WATCHES AND LUXURY LIFESTYLE
EDITED BY SAM KESSLER
BMW VIRTUAL ADVENTURE
BMW have embraced the digital age with their new i Vision Dee concept, a virtual companion that accompanies you on journeys through physical and virtual reality via a new head-up display. This concept is the next step on the road to launching their next gen car, the Neue Klasse, in 2025. To celebrate the announcement, BMW have released a free video game that you can play in your browser. Having played through the entire game, it’s surprisingly well executed with impressive, trippy visuals and simple but entertaining game play. Plus, a celebrity cameo from Arnold Schwarzenegger is the cherry on top.
Sure, it essentially amounts to a marketing campaign, but in a world where the metaverse and digital spaces are taking off, this is the first practical application of that technology we’ve actually seen. It’s exciting to see what insanity BMW is up to with the Neue Klasse – colour changing bodywork as has been teased sets the benchmark high. Find out more at bmw.com or play the game at joytopia.com
This concept is the next step on the road to launching their next gen car, the Neue Klasse, in 2025. To celebrate, BMW have released a free video game
ORIENT EXPRESS HEADS TO THE ALPS
The legendary Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express has been ferrying people from London Victoria to Venice for 40 years, passing through some of Europe’s most famous cities, including Paris and Prague. For this winter season, a new route has been added to the itinerary, taking the train through the stunning vistas of the French Alps. There’s no finer way to experience the mountainous region, in sumptuous luxury with a well-stocked bar on hand. Find out more at orient-express.com
G-SHOCK FROGMAN 30TH ANNIVERSARY
The G-Shock Frogman is known for its rugged durability, chunky aesthetic and entirely modern approach to watch technology. It might come as a surprise then to learn that the Frogman is 30 years old. It’s impressive that the archetypal G-Shock continues to capture the hearts of dedicated collectors and new enthusiasts alike. To celebrate this milestone, Casio have launched the new Poison Dart Frogman, which aside from an amazing pun, is a fun and brightly coloured interpretation of the watch.
Find out more at g-shock.co.uk
25 world news
The archetypal G-Shock continues to capture the hearts of dedicated collectors and new enthusiasts alike
LVMH WATCH WEEK
While Watches and Wonders might be the biggest watch event of the Year, LVMH have put on an impressive showing with their Watch Week. Between Bulgari, Hublot, Tag Heuer, and Zenith, it’s seen new collections and watch launches from some of the world’s biggest watchmakers. Let’s take a quick look at the highlights.
TAG HEUER MONZA FLYBACK
While the Monza is often overshadowed by the Monaco in Tag Heuer’s heritage chronograph line-up, there’s no denying that the new Monza Flyback Chronometer is an impressive watch. Now presented in a carbon fibre case with a diameter of 42mm and a cushion design, it’s a modern reinterpretation of a vintage classic. The technical aesthetic is enhanced by a skeleton dial and asymmetrical subdial layout.
BULGARI DIVA’S DREAM
During LVMH Watch Week Bulgari’s attention was squarely set on their women’s collection. The new Diva’s Dream is frankly spectacular. A rose gold flower with diamond petals and 8 prominently positioned rubies. Between the prominence of red and gold as colours as well as the relevance of the number 8, you can perhaps guess that this is also Bulgari’s contribution to the Chinese New Year. As the year of the Wood Rabbit, 2023 is a year for easy-going sociability and creativity, which after the last few years would be welcome indeed.
ZENITH DEFY SKYLINE BOUTIQUE EDITION
Kicking the new releases off is the Zenith Defy Skyline Boutique Edition and it’s by far the prettiest Skyline to date. It features a 41mm case with the range’s signature facetted case with integrated bracelet and dodecagonal bezel, highlighting the sports luxe vibe. However, what makes it fabulous is the dial, which takes the star motif pattern and reimagines it in rose gold against an anthracite backdrop. The twinkling of the stars is intoxicating and while it doesn’t compare to aventurine glass in terms of creating a realistic stellar field, the stylisation and intricacy of it is just as attractive.
26 world news
ROYAL CRESCENT REFURBISHMENT
If you’re looking to escape the decidedly wintery weather in the capital, the Royal Crescent’s newly refurbished suites are the perfect get away. Set in the idyllic surroundings of Bath, each of the 11 redesigned suites now feature gorgeous contemporary furnishings that pay homage to the historic Georgian roots of the classic architecture. Alternatively, if you’re looking to plan a spring wedding, the Sir Percy Blakeney Suite is ideal with its hand-painted ceilings and airy yet comfortable décor. Plus, there’s a huge four-poster bed with lightweight fabric drapes and soft textures.
Jaeger-LeCoultre have launched a new vintage watch programme called The Collectibles, a capsule collection of high profile vintage watches. The watches will be displayed in JLC’s Geneva boutique prior to being sold online through their digital store. Each timepiece is accompanied by an extract from the Jaeger-LeCoultre archives, a new strap and box, as well as the originals (when available), a two-year warranty, and a copy of the new Collectibles book. The book details the history of 17 prominent JLC models, from the Reverso, to the Memovox, Futurematic, and Geophysic. The initial launch of The Collectibles includes a Geomatic, a Memovox Parking, a Master Mariner Deep Sea and a Shark Deep Sea among others. However, The Collectibles isn’t a one off and it will instead becoming a permanent addition to JLC’s services, featuring an ever evolving range of authentic vintage watches.
27 world news
Each timepiece is accompanied by an extract from the Jaeger-LeCoultre archives, a new strap and box, as well as the originals (when available), a two-year warranty, and a copy of the new Collectibles book
WATCHFINDER & CO. EXPAND TO INCLUDE NEW MARKETPLACE
Watchfinder & Co. are already one of the largest and most reputable pre-owned watch retailers and they’re set to get even bigger in 2023 with the launch of a new marketplace. Essentially, they’ll be expanding their platform to include a series of other approved watch retailers in addition to themselves. The new service will expand the range of watches on offer and make it easier for prospective buyers to find the timepiece of their dreams. As part of the marketplace, buyers will also gain access to Watchfinder’s full servicing and after care services.
Find out more at watchfinder.co.uk
WATCHES AND WONDERS 2023
Watches and Wonders returns in 2023 from 27th March to 2nd April, as the biggest watch event on the calendar. Taking place in the international home of high end watchmaking, Geneva, Watches and Wonders will host 50 iconic brands exhibiting their latest watches and new releases. This is the big one people, where we’ll discover what brands like Rolex, Tudor, Patek Philippe, JaegerLeCoultre and more have been working on for the past 12 months.
In 2022, the highlights of W&W included the Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222, the new Rolex Air King, and the Grand Seiko Kodo, which you voted for as the Oracle Times Reader’s Choice watch of the year. You’re going to want to put the end of March in your calendar. We’ll be covering the event online and in print to make sure you don’t miss any of the key launches. watchesandwonders.com
28 world news
This is the big one where we’ll discover what brands like Rolex, Tudor, Patek Philippe, and Jaeger-LeCoultre have been working on for the past 12 months
ORACLE TIME :OUT
Practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to watch photography, and to be a professional you have to have practiced a lot. It’s therefore not too much of a surprise that Will, @thetimepiecebandit – who also happens to be the product photographer for strap shop @ watchobsession - has a seriously good eye for a layout. And colour. Lots and lots of colour.
At the centre, the ever lovely Tudor Black Bay Blue, equipped with a royal blue strap (courtesy of @ watchobsession, of course). Paired with a yellow mouse
mat, green foliage and a double stack of colourful Oracle Time covers, the shot’s a rainbow of complimentary shades. Honestly, this is what we wish our desks here looked like.
Want to showcase your own eye for a perfectly composed watch shot? Well, get your hands on this issue, get snapping and don’t forget to use #oracletimeout for your chance to nab a page to yourself next month. For now though, Oracle Time, Out.
30 time out
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• 37mm stainless steel case with 300m water resistance
• ELITE 670 calibre automatic movement with 50-hour power reserve
• CHF 6,900 (approx. £6,100), zenith-watches.com
TAG HEUER CARRERA Chronograph 60th Anniversary
Six decades ago, the Carrera defined the nascent racing watch archetype. It goes without saying therefore that modern TAG Heuer are gearing up for a party, with this handsome 60th anniversary edition Carrera Chronograph as the guest of honour. Based on the uber-collectible 2447 SN (silver noir), everything from the panda dial to the vintage Heuer logo is wonderfully faithful, with the caveats of the 60-minute and 12-hour counters being reversed and the lack of radioactive tritium. Limited to 600 pieces, it’s a handsome throwback to a watch worth commemorating.
• 39mm stainless steel case with 100m water resistance
• Calibre HEUER 02 Automatic movement with 80-hour power reserve
• £5,600, limited to 600 pieces, tagheuer.com
DEFY Revival A3691
Historically, the early Defy collection is known for colour – a reputation which stemmed from the original A3691, now recaptured in Zenith’s latest revival release with a splash of bright red. The extremely faceted case is as retro cool as ever, an unsung sports luxe superstar and, in this particular version, becomes the first revival piece to not be limited. Who knows? You might actually be able to get your hands on it.
35 FRONT — introducing
It might have been a flop on release, but if Back to the Future has taught us anything, it’s that the DeLorean is cool. That, by extension, means that REC’s latest retrofuturistic timepiece is cool, too. How could it not be? In keeping with the brand’s approach to watchmaking, it includes material from John Z. DeLorean’s own DMC-12 company car. With its carworthy faceted shape and a dial as intense as any flux capacitor, REC’s is a perfect tribute to an 80s icon.
• 39mm stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
• Sellita SW200-1 S c automatic movement with 41-hour power reserve
• £1,745, limited to 456 pieces, recwatches.com
It’s fitting that the latest edition of Cyrus’ seminal double independent chronograph has more highoctane flair than previous versions; timing and racing go hand-in-hand and that goes double for a double chronograph. The chunky mix of lightweight titanium and forged carbon not only fits thematically, but makes for a surprisingly comfortable watch. With bright highlights across the dial to put Richard Mille to shame, it’s a statement piece if ever there was one.
• 42mm titanium case with 100m water resistance
• calibre CYR718 automatic movement with 60-hour power reserve
• £33,250, limited to 50 pieces, cyrus-watches.ch
Klepcys DICE Racing
FRONT — introducing
Meister Fein Automatic Erhard Edition
A full gold tribute to founder Erhard Junghans, the latest limited edition of the German watchmaker’s quintessentially Bauhaus dress watch is a beautiful historical tribute that won’t break the bank. With its more vintage flavour (elongated Roman numerals, original Junghans signature and slim lugs) and either yellow or white gold case, it’s an absolute beauty. Fitted with a customised ETA movement and limited to a comparatively small number, it’s a watch to make Erhard proud.
• 39.5mm white gold or yellow gold case with 30m water resistance
• Jungans calibre J800.1 automatic movement with 38-hour power reserve
• £8,450, limited to 200 pieces, junghans.de
Excalibur Blacklight Monobalancier
In the Excalibur Blacklight Monobalancier, Roger Dubuis have turned low-light visibility into an art form. The collection’s signature star bridges aren’t just colourful during the day, but at night – and under a UV light – they glow. As does one single diamond in the bezel. It’s the kind of secret twist RD collectors will love, backed by all the chronometric performance of the watchmaker’s latest monobalancier movement. It’s an eye-catching statement piece, just like the Excalibur should be.
• 42mm white gold case with 50m water resistance
• Calibre RD720SQ automatic movement with 72-hour power reserve
• £82,000, Limited to 28 pieces, rogerdubuis.com
FRONT — introducing
Words: Dominic Bliss
The Interview: MATT WRIGHT
TACKLING THE LARGEST REPTILES ON THE PLANET WITH THE ULTIMATE CROCODILE WRANGLER
38 matt wright
Saltwater crocodiles are the largest reptiles on the planet, reaching more than six metres long in some cases. At one end is an enormous jaw and a vicious set of teeth. At the other a massive tail which can thrash around with the power to topple a small tree.
Australian crocodile wrangler Matt Wright is all too familiar with both ends of these ‘salties’, as they’re known. Star of the new Netflix series Wild Croc Territory, he spends much of his time handling and trapping these giant, often vicious beasts. A while back, when working for National Geographic, he had his ankle broken by a thrashing tail.
“He was a reasonably big croc, about 14 feet long,” Wright remembers. “I was going to tie him up to a tree and let him calm down a bit. I gave him a little tap on the tail with my foot to hurry him up. He came back with the biggest tail swipe.” Wright had his feet swept from beneath his body, his ankle instantly snapped. On another occasion he was catapulted high into the air, landing clumsily on his head. “It knocked me out for a few minutes. At first I thought I’d broken my neck.”
For a crocodile catcher based in Australia’s Northern Territory, these are
everyday risks. The 43-year-old Wright and his team of wranglers patrol the savannas and estuaries close to Darwin, in search of killer crocodiles. “They’re the kings, the most aggressive in the world,” he warns.
Thanks to years of preservation, there are now some 150,000 wild salties in northern Australia, so that many find their natural territory encroached upon by human activity. Some end up preying on farmers’ livestock, while others pose a threat to humans. Either way, it’s Wright’s job to trap them humanely and then transport them, by truck or
Living in northern Australia means sharing the vast territory with 150,000 wild saltwater crocodiles that can measure up to 14 feet in length. This would be a terrifying prospect for many Poms not used to seeing any large reptile, let alone the biggest on the planet, but Matt Wright has made a career out of trapping them humanely and transporting them by truck, or even helicopter, to a safe location
40 matt wright
helicopter, to a location where they can’t cause trouble.
Given the reptiles’ size and aggression, it’s no simple task. Usually, Wright and his team lure a beast into a baited steel cage. Then they use harpoon darts and rope nooses, first to secure a rope around its top jaw, before wrapping duct tape around its snout to stop the teeth from snapping. Understandably, the croc is far from happy about this situation. And tranquilisers don’t help since the animals would slip unconscious into the water and drown.
Wright has been around wild animals his entire life. As a youngster, he grew up in Queensland and South Australia, even spending a short period in Papua New Guinea. “It was a transient, gypsy life,” he recalls.
Of all the countries on the planet, Australia is surely home to more lethal beasts than any other. Crocs aren’t the only killers. Here you’re never far from a deadly snake, spider, shark, or jellyfish. Even a well-placed kangaroo kick can end you. Yet, as a kid, Wright couldn’t resist the lure of the wild. “I used to catch deadly snakes and bring them
Having worked with elephants and rhinos in Africa, elephants and orangutans in Indonesia, and polar bears and elk in Canada, Wright is no stranger to dealing with some of the planet’s largest beasts, but it’s not all denim-clad wrangling fun as a salty once broke Wright’s ankle and one even left him unconscious
home,” he remembers. “Any sick or injured animal, I would bring home to look after. Mum wasn’t very impressed, so we did a deal where, if I was allowed a pet snake, I wouldn’t bring any wild snakes home.” The young Wright did fairly well out of the deal after persuading his mother to buy a 10-footlong carpet python.
After school, he naturally gravitated into wildlife conservation, specialising in the relocation of larger animals. Over the years there were elephants and rhinos in Africa, elephants and orangutans in Indonesia, as well as polar bears, wolves, bison, caribou and elk in Canada.
But it’s back in Australia, with the salties, that Wright feels most at home. He is proud he has helped changed the public perception of this dangerous reptile. “You have this apex predator but people now see it as a valuable commodity,” he says.
In the final episode of Wild Croc Territory, he sums up his mission: “While crocodile numbers keep increasing and humans continue to encroach on their domain, I’ll keep doing what I can to protect them both. It’s a lot more than just a job for me. This land, its creatures and its people are a special breed: tough but still vulnerable. Up here in the Northern Territory, I’m just doing what I can to keep one of the world’s last frontiers wild.”
Wild Croc Territory is streaming on Netflix
“Any sick or injured animal, I would bring home to look after. Mum wasn’t very impressed, so we did a deal where, if I was allowed a pet snake, I wouldn’t bring any wild snakes home”
THE ORACLE SPEAKS
The wizardry of the watch world explained
BUILDING A WATCH MOVEMENT FROM SCRATCH IS A SERIOUS ENDEAVOUR. IT’S NOT JUST THE DESIGNING THAT TAKES UNFATHOMABLE EXPERTISE, BUT ACTUALLY BUILDING THE THING. YOU NEED THE RAW MATERIALS, THE MACHINES TO CUT THE COMPONENTS, THE OIL TO COOL THE WHOLE LOT DOWN, IT’S A LOT. IT’S ALSO NOT THE MOST SUSTAINABLE WAY TO BUILD A WATCH, BUT THE ORACLE IS ONHAND TO EXPLORE THE ROMANCE OF MARRYING THESE VINTAGE MOVEMENTS WITH NEW WATCHES.
Upcycling and using deadstock materials – leathers, textiles, whatever is just lying around not being used – has been a huge thing in fashion recently. Not only does it mean you’re using materials that would otherwise be going to waste, it also means you don’t need to make those materials yourself. It’s a win-win.
It’s something that watchmaking’s known for a good long while now, just with a different name. Rather than being known as deadstock, old, unused and often forgotten calibres are called New Old Stock (NOS) movement.
Watches housing NOS movements are relatively few and far-between, for a number of reasons. Often the stories go that a watchmaker finds some previously undiscovered box of rare calibres under
a Swiss farmer’s stairs. In actuality, most movements get used. There simply aren’t all that many stashes of old calibres gathering dust around the world and many are kept for spare parts. It’s easier to cannibalise the mainspring of a couple of wheels from an old movement to repair a vintage piece than it is to machine those parts from scratch.
Secondly, there’s the unfortunate fact that NOS movements just tend to be worse than modern calibres. While the actual mechanical nature of watchmaking hasn’t changed all that much over the centuries, production methods have. New machines, improved production lines and materials with greater tolerances have all, over the years, improved the chronometric performance of baseline calibres in a way that older, handmade movements just can’t match.
Even restoring them to working order can be a trial. Movements are meant to be kept wound, and like a classic car that never sees the light of day, letting them stay dormant too long is asking for trouble. Dried-up lubricant, dust, the wear and tear of time, many New Old Stock movements need some serious TLC. Given that, due to their handmade nature, many of these movements are unique, that can be easier said than done.
As Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, Managing Director of British brand Fears puts it, “NOS movements always require full servicing and upgrading to a modern main spring. The main challenge is the lack of spare parts for servicing and sometimes unusual movement architecture.”
Bowman-Scargill has a unique attachment to NOS movements. Fears’ biggest launch in their fledgling second history was the Archival, a pair of vintagestyled rectangular timepieces that used two different movements from two different time periods. That allowed both a small seconds and time-only version. But there’s more to it than that, and not just thematically.
Building a new watch movement from scratch or restoring one is a labour of love more than a practical solution to a fault, as improved production lines and materials with greater tolerances mean that handmade movements just can’t match the chronometric performance of modern baseline calibres
There simply aren’t all that many stashes of old calibres gathering dust around the world and many are kept for spare parts. It’s easier to cannibalise the mainspring of a couple of wheels from an old movement to repair a vintage piece than it is to machine those parts from scratch
“It felt right as it kept it authentic and also allowed us to do that particular shape of Watch as modern movements aren’t shaped for shaped cases,” explained Bowman-Scargill. Fears’ movements, incidentally, were from the 1930s (small seconds) and the 60s (two hand), and they’re not the only ones that necessitated a specific movement.
Long before the Fears Archival, British watchmaker Peter Roberts brought out the Concentrique, a new version of the watch he built while training in horology. The original was the first five central-handed wristwatch. The only way it was ever going to get built was using the same New Old Stock Valjoux movements Peter would have used back in 1972. Unfortunately, that also made it extremely limited. If you happen to see one of these bad boys on a wrist, it’s something special.
British brands aren’t the only ones making use of vintage movements either – or even using the oldest. Omega have one of the most impressive horological histories in the business – and apparently a stock of movements going back a century. In 2018, the watchmaker paid tribute to the first Omega Wrist-Chronograph in a superb, limited edition. Only 18 of the watches were built and were absolutely stunning. More importantly
than the looks however, the archival look was mirrored by a genuine movement from the early 20th century, the very same that the original timepiece would have contained. The downside – other than getting it serviced anyway – is that each piece cost well over £100,000. Ouch.
If you’re looking for something a little more accessible, French label Semper & Adhuc have built their entire brand around rehabilitating vintage movements, for a very reasonable price. Take the Immédiate Transatlantique, as an example. The cushion shaped watch houses a vintage Bulova 5 series movement, one developed for 30 years between 1940 and 1970. Aesthetically however it’s a lot more modern than its movement, with a funky layout of white and red against blue. Very tricolore.
The bottom line is that New Old Stock movements are the purest form of upcycling in watchmaking. There’s no melting down, resmelting, anything like that. It’s simply giving forgotten movements a new lease of life. It brings its own challenges – they are, by their nature, in strictly limited supply and invariably need some work mechanically – but it’s worth it, whether that’s a funky, accessible French watch or one of the finest heritage Omegas ever built.
British brands have made use of upcycled vintage movements over the years, with Fears’ Archival vintage-styled rectangular timepieces a classy example that used two different movements from two different time periods
48 fathoms deep
FROM JACQUES COUSTEAU TO THE SPECIAL FORCES, A DEEP DIVE INTO THE HISTORY – AND REVIVAL – OF THE BLANCPAIN FIFTY FATHOMS
49 fathoms deep
WORDS: JAMES BUTTERY
Blancpain’s talismanic Fifty Fathoms was the very first modern dive watch. In hindsight, it’s a horological icon whose creation was inevitable, historically traced by a two-pronged mission from both civilian and military parties treading parallel paths before eventually converging, by chance, in a joint effort that would serve scuba divers, as well as it did special forces. And lead to one hell of a handsome watch, obviously.
The watch’s genesis 70 years ago is made all the more intriguing by the shadow cast over it by famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. His Légion d’honneur-winning wartime resistance saw him cocreate the Aqualung in occupied France, modifying Emile Gagnan’s fuel regulator to offer on-demand compressed air to divers for the first time, which afforded them greatly increased dive times.
Not only did Cousteau’s invention open up the undersea world like never before – creating the need for such a watch to safely time dives – but it was through one of his companies that a pair of war heroes, on the trail of a diving watch that could keep up with them, would meet the diving-mad CEO of Blancpain.
By 1952 French secret agent Captain Robert ‘Bob’ Maloubier and Special Forces officer Lieutenant Claude Riffaud had been tasked with establishing a new combat diving unit, the French Combat Swimmers to employ the kind of tactics they had used during WWII with Britain’s Special Operations Executive. Foremost among the instruments the new unit would require was a watch for timing dives and operations, but one that would be robust enough to perform in the punishing environments its operatives would face.
Maloubier and Riffaud first tested a number of commercially available watches, but all failed. The pair decided that if the right watch didn’t exist then it would need to be created and drafted up a series of criteria for their new watch. Legibility underwater was to be paramount, aided by a case much larger than the dainty offerings of the day with a black dial and large luminous hour markers in a variety of shapes for intuitive orientation in low light. The watch would also need to be anti-magnetic, automatic and, of course, water-resistant. The pair sent their proposal out to several watch manufacturers.
French watch giant Lip famously passed on the project in a meeting that Maloubier recalled in his 1986 autobiography, Plonge dans l’or noir, espion!
“Encouraged, I go to Lip, Rue Royale. A dynamic young executive offers me a small gold-plated thing, equipped with a domed glass, and a white strap. ‘She’s all the rage on our beaches, Captain!’ I turn the golden miniature between my fat fingers. ‘And water at the same time, because it is not automatic, your jewel... and a winding seal is not eternal... you will replace the wrecks, I hope!’”
“He refuses to have a model made on a RiffaudMaloubier plan that I submit to him and that he flies over, wrinkling his nose. This watch is too massive. No future. Wasted investment.”
Maloubier and Riffaud soon found themselves talking to the co-CEO of “une petite societe d’horlogerie” called Blancpain, Jean-Jacques Fiechter, himself an avid diver and member of the world’s first diving club, the Club Alpin Sous-Marin in Cannes. The two parties were introduced by a former French Navy officer working at Spirotechnique, a subsidiary of Cousteau’s Air Liquide company.
Fiechter, the CEO and nephew of Blancpain’s coowner Betty Fiechter, knew only too well the dangers of diving, having once mistimed a dive and nearly run out of air on his ascent.
Realising the need for a dedicated diving watch to time dives, he developed an entirely new watch from scratch with a double gasket crown, two-piece screwdown caseback and a ‘push to unlock’ unidirectional crown, all of which he’d have patented by 1954. The watch answered each of Maloubier and Riffaud’s requirements except one, anti-magnetism, which was solved by means of a soft iron cage.
Legibility underwater was to be paramount, aided by a case much larger than the dainty offerings of the day with a black dial and large luminous hour markers
The 70th anniversary edition of the Fifty Fathoms (above) will be available in a limited run of 210 pieces that will house the automatic Calibre 1315, but most notably will use the 42mm case size of the original for the first time
Blancpain’s Jean-Jacques Fiechter (right, testing a Fifty Fathoms prototype in the south of France, 1952) answered the call from French secret agent Captain Robert ‘Bob’ Maloubier and Special Forces officer Lieutenant Claude Riffaud to create a watch for timing dives and operations that would also be robust enough to perform in punishing ocean environments
52 fathoms deep
Taking its name from a line in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the Fifty Fathoms set the template for future diving watches when it was delivered in 1953 in a 42mm stainless steel case that was positively hulking compared to the majority of watches available at the time
54 fathoms deep
President John F. Kennedy speaking with U.S. Navy SEAL divers wearing the Fifty Fathoms (above), which would be adopted by Navy SEALs in 1958, but under the Tornek-Rayville name to circumvent post-war ‘Buy American Act’ procurement regulations
The first Blancpain Fifty Fathoms watches were delivered – with Spirotechnique acting as the required French middle-man – to Maloubier and Riffaud’s new unit for testing in 1953 in a 42mm stainless steel case; positively hulking compared to the majority of watches available at the time. The watch expressed no water resistance rating on the dial. Fifty Fathoms (which is equal to just over 91m) was merely a play on a line from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
The Fifty Fathoms codified the template for virtually every diving watch made since then and, as well as meeting the requirements of Maloubier and Riffaud’s new unit, proved a hit with divers around the world, especially after the Spirotechnique connection led to Jacques Cousteau wearing the watch in his breakthrough Palme d’Or-winning 1956 film, The Silent World.
Its special forces credentials were then bolstered in 1958 when the US Navy began searching for a dependable diving watch to equip its combat divers, including four years later the Navy SEALs, and found in favour of the Fifty Fathoms when tested against Rolex and Enicar watches as part of Operation HARDTACK. However, before the $55.50 USD watches could be issued they underwent rebranding as ‘TornekRayville’ to circumvent the post-war ‘Buy American Act’ procurement regulations.
Even Lip’s founder, Fred Lip, came around to the concept and, from 1954 until 1959, offered the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms – double-signed with the Lip logo – for sale through his 2,000-plus outlets.
Blancpain produced the Fifty Fathoms for both civilian and military markets and, by 1971, the commercially available collection had grown to include three lines, the Fifty Fathoms, Fifty Fathoms 1000 and Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe.
Despite the success of the Fifty Fathoms with military divers, Blancpain’s own fortunes varied wildly during this period. The business – now detached from the founding family – was compelled to change its name following Fiechter’s acquisition in 1932. The newly establish Rayville would join the SSIH conglomerate in 1961 and, while still making watches under the Blancpain name, switched focus to making movements for others, something that initially served it well –
peaking at 220,000 movements in 1971 – before Blancpain made its final appearance at Basel in 1975, followed by Rayville in 1980, both falling victims of the Quartz Crisis.
The Blancpain name would be revived in 1982 – its archives and tooling had been destroyed in 1979 and its Villeret premises handed to Omega – when it was acquired by Jean-Claude Biver and Jacques Piguet, of the renowned Frederique Piguet movement manufacturer, before being sold to Swatch Group in 1992.
Blancpain in turn eventually revived the Fifty Fathoms name in the final years of the 20th Century. They got off to what honestly feels like a bit of a false start, somewhat clumsily attempting to amalgamate a version of the iconic diver – it featured an incongruous bare metal relief-etched bezel – and its Air Command chronograph to form the Trilogy (Sea, Earth, Sky) collection.
The first truly authentic revival would come in 2003, when newly appointed CEO Mark A. Hayek another enthusiastic diver, marked the model’s 50th anniversary with three 50-piece limited editions across three territories. Housed in 40mm stainless steel cases with domed, sapphire crystal-topped bezels and water resistant to 300m, the Series 1, 2 and 3 watches quickly sold-out in Asia, Europe, and North America, respectively. Hayek would celebrate the launch by going for a dive with an 80-year-old Robert Maloubier in Thailand.
In 2023, with the Fifty Fathoms now celebrating its 70th anniversary, Blancpain is releasing another series of limited editions that take their cues not only from the very first watch, but also that 2003 ‘renaissance’ trio.
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Series 1, 2 and 3 will offer 70 pieces to each of those same three territories, for a total of 210 pieces, but will use the 42mm case size of the original Fifty Fathoms, the first modern version of the watch to do so, with recent limited editions housed in 40mm cases and collection pieces using 45mm cases.
Inside is the same automatic Calibre 1315 that’s been powering Fifty Fathoms watches at Blancpain since 2007, with three barrels providing five days of power reserve. With materials – including a silicon hairspring – now helping the watch achieve anti-magnetism, rather than that original soft iron cage, Blancpain is free to show off the movement through a sapphire crystal caseback.
The exhibition caseback reveals a custom 70th Anniversary Series winding rotor in platinum featuring an aperture used by Blancpain in the 1950s as a shockabsorbing feature, designed to increase the suppleness of the rotor.
Supplied on a black NATO strap, made from 100% recycled recovered fishing nets, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Series is available to preorder now, priced £15,200.
With the Fifty Fathoms now celebrating its 70th anniversary, Blancpain is releasing another series of limited editions that take their cues not only from the very first watch, but also that 2003 ‘renaissance’ trio
In a previous life, I moderated the Rolex forum on timezone.com, and one of the busiest threads each year would be during the weeks leading up to Baselworld when contributors tried to predict what Rolex would be introducing. I made it a point to NEVER post anything in this thread, as the likelihood of getting it completely wrong and the potential for subsequent public humiliation kept me well away from my keyboard. But now Oracle Time's esteemed editor has asked me to place my reputation on the line by putting in print my predictions for the 2023 Watches & Wonders Rolex launches. So, here goes!
Historically, Rolex have made two kinds of introductions: logical ones and those which come out of the left field. Logical choices include last year’s launch of the Yachtmaster in yellow gold. As this was previously available in both white gold and Everose red gold, bringing it out in yellow gold was practically the dictionary definition of a no-brainer. It’s the left field (or in the case of last year, left-hand) watches which are hard to predict; nobody expected the Destro GMT Master last year, or November’s ‘drop’ of the titanium hockey puck which is the Deepsea Challenge. Let’s start with the logical predictions. Looking at the current catalogue, there are two models which haven’t received either movement or case changes in ages: the Milgauss and the Daytona. These two are linked by one significant factor - they are two of the last watches from Rolex to be powered by movements using the conventional lever escapement. Pretty much every other men’s watch now uses Rolex’s own Chronergy escapement which gives watches an extra ten hours of power reserve. The Chronergy system is also highly antimagnetic, as it is constructed from a nickel phosphorous alloy and so should be a pretty good fit for the Milgauss.
57 crowning moment
© Kelly Coombes
WORDS BY JAMES DOWLING
DOWLING – AKA MR
ROLEX – PREDICTS THE COMING YEAR FOR THE WATCH WITH THE CROWN. GOOD LUCK TO HIM
However, you can’t just drop a new escapement into an existing movement. You need to redesign the movement, and these new 32XX movements are also fitted with a completely redesigned mainspring barrel. So, if the Milgauss is going to be updated – and it’s my bet that it will – the main change will be the substitution of the current 3131
movement, with a new one, most likely to be called the 3231. Will the Milgauss join the AirKing in acquiring ‘shoulders’? For some things, we will just have to wait and see, but one thing we can be certain of, is that there will be a change to either the case or dial, so that the new model is easily differentiated from its predecessor.
MILGAUSS WITH AIRKING SHOULDERS / NEW DIAL (GREEN?)
The Daytona is a whole different matter. The 4130 calibre which powers it is now the oldest calibre in the Rolex catalogue, having been introduced at the turn of the century. So, logic suggests that it will be the next to be updated, but my gut tells me that Rolex will leave it alone for another year, at least, and probably wait for two, as in 2025 the current model and its movement will have reached their quarter century. As for the left field introductions, I am sorry – I have no idea – but let me take a swing at some of the possible introductions. Most of us were slightly bemused when they introduced the Sea Dweller in Rolessor (steel and gold), so why not a gold version and a Rolessor Deep Sea? Looking at the Datejust, it used to be available in three sizes 28mm, 31mm, and 36mm, then the 41mm version was added – looking at the size of the Deep Sea Challenge, Rolex seem to see bigger as better – so why not a 45mm or 46mm Datejust? Also, looking around, we see the revival of high accuracy and high value quartz; F-P Journe makes one and Citizen’s 0100 ultra accurate watch sells for over £15,000. Rolex patented and produced in prototype form their 5355 perpetual calendar high accuracy quartz movement over a decade ago. So, maybe 2023 is the time to actually launch it.
Looking at the size of the Deep Sea Challenge, Rolex seem to see bigger as better
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TWO-TONE DEEP SEA, 45MM DATEJUST, REF. 5355
However, something more might be known in the weeks prior to Watches & Wonders. Let me explain why. I always used to say that predicting Rolex introductions was essentially futile, as the firm was extremely good at keeping the information within their walls, but COVID changed all that. Previously watches were announced at Baselworld and subsequently appeared in the retailers’ windows five to six months later. During Baselworld there were only a few non-working models used as display pieces. But, a big change happened during COVID. Watches are now launched, not on the first day of the show, but when ready and since they are in the stores immediately after introduction, it means that retailers are alerted to the introductions BEFORE W&W, making leaks inevitable, as we saw last year.
One of the problems with writing about Rolex is that watch nuts, like readers of this magazine, tend to home in on the professional models and ignore the mainstream, and the more popular models like the Datejust and the Day-Date; but one thing that I can be certain of is that Rolex will, once again, increase the unit value of these watches. This is different from increasing the retail price – although rises there should not be ruled out too – as the secondary market has shown that Rolex watches are remarkably price insensitive. Increasing the unit value can best be illustrated with the Daytona; when launched it came in steel, 18ct yellow gold, or a combination of the two. All three are still available, but so are both white and Everose gold, as well as platinum and let’s not forget the jewelled ‘Rainbow’ Daytona. All of these introductions have been at the higher end of the price spectrum, thereby pushing the unit value upwards. Similarly, recent introductions on the ladies’ Datejust watches have featured mother of pearl dials with applied gold dust motifs, or diamond studded mosaic ones, all pushing up the unit value of each watch.
60 crowning moment
61 crowning moment
RAINBOW YACHTMASTER –PLATINUM YACHTMASTER (ICE BLUE DIAL?)
If Rolex want to increase their income, this is about the only avenue open to them, as they are physically unable to increase their production, with their factories already running at 100% capacity, and, like the rest of the Swiss watch industry, they are unable to recruit more staff. This is the reason behind the recent announcement that the firm will open a new factory in Bulle, in the predominantly agricultural Gruyères region. Historically, watchmaking has been confined to the Geneva region or the Valeè de Joux area of Neuchatel, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Bienne, and LeLocle (where Tudor, the sister brand of Rolex have located their new movement factory) because that is where trained staff can be found. But the current problem is that there are no more trained staff looking for jobs in these locations. So, Rolex have made the brave decision to site their new factory half way between the two centres, where they will not only build a new factory but also create and train a new 2,000 strong workforce. None of this will do anything to alleviate the current product shortage, as the new factory is not expected to be in production until the end of the decade. So, there are two things that we can be sure will happen in 2023; that it will still be difficult to find the new Rolex you desire and that the gradual roll out of the Rolex Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) programme will continue.……but that’s another story.
Rolex have made the brave decision to site their new factory half way between two centres, where they will not only build a new factory but also create and train a new 2,000 strong workforce
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\ 66 / Introducing the British-made brands that place quality above quantity
\ 74 / The forward-thinking names that are sowing the seeds of a greener future
\ 79 /
Rack up those planetfirst style points with some guilt-free staples
EDITED BY SHANE KURUP & DAN MOBBS
\ 80 / The horological stars moving watchmaking into a green frame of mind
> > In a world that’s increasingly focused on responsible production, fashion houses are increasingly trying to green their operations. Often, this is marketing spiel that doesn’t stretch further than an advert featuring achingly good looking models cuddling lambs, while the company continues to outsource production and ship their wares across the world, with a weighty carbon footprint in tow. Thankfully, there are brands of integrity dedicated to making clothes under their own roof, within their own country, and with next to no global footprint. And of course, in the best possible taste and quality.
Oracle Style — Feb.23 65
The production of clothes on home soil is now a rarity in the UK thanks to the expense, the lack of skilled workers, and cheaper overseas production, as it’s simply easier and more profitable to move production elsewhere
KEEPING IT IN-HOUSE
The UK-made brands that place quality above quantity
67 STYLE — in-house
WORDS: CHARLIE THOMAS
Most brands aren’t sustainable. They may claim ‘responsible production’ and ‘traceability’ in their marketing spiel, but more often than not they still manufacture large batch runs in factories outside the country they’re based. That usually means numerous flights back and forth and clothes being shipped across continents each season, resulting in a carbon footprint that belies the perceived good work being done. No clothing brand is truly sustainable. If they were, they wouldn’t be in the business of making clothes. The world simply doesn’t need any more than it already has. In the US alone, an estimated 85% of all textiles are left for landfill every year, according to Earth. org. But there are a number of things that can be done for brands to be as sustainable as possible. One of which is to manufacture on home soil, and
preferably in their own factory. This is now a rarity in the UK thanks to the expense, the lack of skilled workers, and of course, cheaper overseas production. It’s simply easier and more profitable to move production elsewhere. But a number of brands refuse to make this compromise.
Private White VC is one such label. Occupying a vast Victorian red brick factory in the heart of Manchester, the historic brand is most well known for its exemplary outerwear. From its waxed cotton motorcycle jackets through to its tailored pea coats, it offers something for everyone. What’s most impressive about the brand is the sheer variety of
styles and garments it makes under one roof. Everything from T-shirts and polos to sweatshirts, hoodies, tailoring, and the aforementioned outerwear is crafted from start to finish here. It also offers a lifetime repair service, ensuring each piece will outlive the owner.
Speaking of which, a pair of properly made, Goodyear-welted shoes will, if looked after correctly, also last a lifetime. Once at the heart of Northampton’s shoemaking industry, Crockett & Jones is now one of the few traditional brands still going strong. Back in 1840 there were an estimated 1,821 shoemakers in the town, whereas today there are just 19 remaining, showing how drastically the industry has changed. Crockett & Jones has no doubt had to innovate throughout its 144 year history in order to survive, but it’s stayed true to its roots, still producing the finest quality shoes and boots, from start to finish, in its own factory. It’s still family-owned too, unlike many of its contemporaries which at some point had to be sold off to luxury fashion houses or conglomerates.
While Crockett & Jones is known for its incredibly sharp, semi-formal designs, there’s another independent shoe brand that’s in the market of producing durable, equally well made pairs at the other end of the spectrum.
Solovair isn’t known by as many people as it should be. Having been around since 1881, it’s a stalwart of the Northampton shoe industry, but it’s the brand’s more recent history that makes it interesting. Solovair was essentially the original Dr Martens, producing the shoes and boots for the latter up until the 1980s, when it went overseas for its production. Solovair stayed put though, continuing to make its signature sturdy work boots in its own factory on Northampton’s South Street, which it has occupied since 1899. The attention to detail and quality of materials used is unrivalled within its space. Indeed, when it comes to work boots, with hard
STYLE — in-house
Solovair stands tall as one of the British shoe manufacturers that’s stayed true to its roots and kept production in Britain since its inception in 1881. As producers of the original Dr Martens, the Northampton based manufacturer has remained in its Northampton South Street factory that it’s occupied since 1899, while Dr Martens moved production overseas in the 1980s
Back in 1840 there were 1,821 shoemakers in the town, whereas today there are just 19 remaining, showing how drastically the industry has changed
69 STYLE — in-house
70 STYLE — in-house
Crockett & Jones (pictured) remains as one of the few remaining shoe manufacturers that has kept production in Britain throughout its 144 year history, as it’s still family-owned and still produces high quality shoes and boots, from start to finish, in its own factory
STYLE — in-house
© Sebastian Boettcher
wearing (yet soft) leather and chunky rubber soles, nobody does it better. What about suits then? There’s arguably no form of clothing more sustainable than bespoke tailoring. Here is a garment that’s made entirely from scratch to the precise measurements of the individual, and which, should it be needed, can be taken in or let out infinite times. So feasibly, it will fit you forever regardless of how much your body changes. The obvious destination would be Savile Row. The street is full of historic houses that have been on and around the area for over a century. But it’s often the younger names that are the most exciting. Its youngest tailor, Cad & The Dandy launched in 2008 with the goal of modernising this most prestigious of streets. It’s fair to say it’s achieved its lofty goals, having grown from two co-founders to a team of 200 people, now operating around the world from New York to Stockholm. Its bespoke offering is still made in the time-honoured tradition though; that is, within the walls of its flagship home at 13 Savile Row. “Every single customer has a bespoke pattern made for them”, says James Sleater, one of the cofounders. “That’s a pattern drafted from scratch. It’s a 2D object in essence before being turned into a 3D product in either a shirt or a suit”, with every process taking place at the hands of the finest craftspeople the world has to offer. For tailoring, chances are said craftspeople will be based around London, but for knitwear, there’s only one destination: Scotland. Malloch’s may not manufacture under a factory in its own name, but it does just about everything it can to place quality, attention to detail, and sustainability at the forefront, making use of the north of the UK’s best talent. It was started with the aim of championing British craft, and as such it only works with the very best workshops in Scotland for its knitwear. “From the outset I wanted to produce in the UK and champion British manufacturers”, says founder Chris
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Founded by William Laborde, Efe Laborde (right) is a young brand in the early stages of its development that produces its classic bespoke English shoes by hand using time-honoured techniques from its small, sustainable workshop in Bethnal Green
Chasseaud. “Scottish knitwear is revered around the world and I wanted to tap into their experience and know-how”. Many of the most well known knitwear brands outsource the production, but for Chasseaud, making in the UK is integral to the brand’s success. It also allows him to develop close relationships to the workshops he uses, which is important as he handles everything, from design to sourcing and marketing himself. “There’s a certain charm to being small that customers appreciate. They write an email and get a response from the founder and creative director. That interaction is invaluable.”
This is something Efe Laborde knows well. It’s a young brand in the early stages of its development, but its foundations are incredibly strong, given that every single process of its construction is made under one roof, by one man. A full bespoke shoemaker, it makes classic English shoes by hand in a small workshop in Bethel Green. Founded by William Laborde, each pair is painstakingly constructed to the unique measurements of the client, using time-honoured techniques that ensure they’ll last a lifetime. It’s a commitment to quality Laborde feels strongly about, and he sees no other option than to make in this slow and deliberate manner. “Making shoes is divided into specialties: measuring the foot and carving the wooden last; creating a paper pattern, cutting and assembling the leather (closing), and assembling the shoe by hand sewing (bottom making). These broad specialties were divided in the big houses among individual craftsmen. Unlike the bigger firms, I see through the entire process myself. The attention I give to my work and the fact that I oversee each process, means I am limited to about 24 pairs a year, inherently making what I do quite exclusive.”
73 STYLE — in-house
“There’s a charm to being small that customers appreciate. They write an email and get a response from the founder and creative director. That interaction is invaluable”
Cad & The Dandy (left) represents the new wave of fine British tailoring after launching in 2008 and growing from a two man operation to a team of 200 based on 13 Savile Row. For knitwear, a trip north of the border to Malloch’s (below) reveals another manufacturer that places quality, attention to detail, and sustainability at the forefront of their production
Setting the Trend
Edited by SHANE C. KURUP
Given that the clothing industry is responsible for more climate-warping C02 than the airline and shipping industries combined, you might think it’s time we all embraced naturism. But as the response to the ecological crisis gathers pace, some forward-thinking names are sowing the seeds of a greener future.
> > Eagled-eyed Oracle Time readers will recall that last year’s Sustainability Issue featured sneakers made from grape and pineapple leaf leather. Well, Japan’s cult sneaker label, Onitsuka Tiger, is now adding a new frond to this foliage-based sneaker movement with its MEXICO 66 CACTFUL line, made with cacti leather. Developed in partnership with DESSERTO – the firm pioneering the use of the succulent fibre – the material utilises the fast-growing Nopal variety of the desert plant, found in surplus across Mexico and has an 80% lower carbon footprint than traditional leather. Even if you can’t keep a house cactus alive, you won’t put a foot wrong in these.
Onitsuka Tiger MEXICO 66 CACTFUL sneakers, £120.00 onitsukatiger.com
> > One of the biggest causes of pollution is the processing of virgin materials for clothing – a statistic that Gabriella Hearst, is tackling head on, by using only recycled and repurposed fabrics from 2022. But it’s not any old rags that go into her louche, considered collections – cloud-soft cashmere and merino outerwear, knitwear and tailoring are made from recycled yarns and premium deadstock materials. QR codes come with each garment, providing full transparency of origin, while the use of aloe-treated linen reduces water consumption during production. Even Hearst’s stores are built with sustainable materials, and her runway shows are carbon neutral. So now you can feel a little less guilty about luxuriating in your plush threads.
> > For Nick Reed, founder of UK-based Neem, his brand is the antithesis of fast fashion. Describing its 100% carbonneutral model as a ‘closed loop’ clothing system, sustainability is woven into every fibre of the business, from its use of back-to-farm traceable fibres and responsible factories, to ZQ merino wool and organic cotton, produced using regenerative agriculture to keep both flora and fauna in rude health. In addition, it also offers a repairs and alterations service, via the aptly named Clothes Doctor, as well as exchanging your love-worn garments for store credit, which it recycles, putting still-useful fibres back into its circular system. If Greenpeace had an own label, this might well be it. neemlondon.com
STYLE — style manifesto
> > MR PORTER – the web’s most considered menswear destination – has introduced a host of initiatives to green its operations. As part of this crusade, its RESELL programme gives unworn pieces a new lease of life in exchange for cold, hard cash, while every garment from its own label, MR P, bears a digital QR code detailing provenance and care tips to help your wardrobe favourites go the distance. Then there’s its Craftsmanship Code, which fosters artisanal brands that prioritise low-impact production methods and the wellbeing of its craftspeople. Because going green is the height of fashion.
Keeping it Local
> > Knowing that staying close to home is key to cutting our carbon footprint, Patrick Grant, designer and Savile Row tailor of The Great British Sewing Bee fame, established Community Clothing in 2016. Headquartered in the former cloth county of Lancashire, it partners with British factories that specialise in a particular genre – from denim, to field jackets, and socks – ensuring the well-honed skills of Blighty’s craftspeople aren’t lost to the sweatshops of far-flung lands. By sticking to classic, seasonless garments, it keeps costs down, enabling a fair wage to be paid to our homegrown textile talent. Crucially, it never has a sale, but instead prices fairly from the start, eschewing the sky-high mark-ups favoured by most labels. It’s a model that puts the profligate ways of fashion’s powerhouses to shame. communityclothing.co.uk
> > Cold-weather outerwear, with its plasticfantastic fibres and PETA-irking down fillings, often bears of the brunt of the eco-brigade’s wrath. But PANGAIA, a self-styled ‘materials science company’, takes a planet-first approach to its products, including its FLWRDWN range, which uses an innovative wadding made with organic wildflowers and a corn-based biopolymer. Not only does it side step the welfare issues surrounding traditional down, but it also retains the heat-retaining efficiency of a lab-engineered fill without tapping crude oil reserves. Blooming marvellous.
PANGAIA FLWRDWN collection pangaia.com
STYLE — style manifesto
Edited by SHANE C. KURUP
ALL THE RIGHT GEAR
Ulysse Nardin and outdoorwear brand Norrøna bring their green ambition to the fore with a timely collaboration
> > Given all the floods, forest fires, and flotillas of ocean plastic that dominate the daily doomscroll, it doesn’t take the grey matter of Greta Thunberg to realise that Mother Earth isn’t living her best life right now. It’s exactly why Le Locle firm Ulysse Nardin has teamed up with Norrøna, Norway’s greenest outdoorwear brand, to produce a limited-edition watch and jacket that aims to redress this ecological fallout.
The timepiece – the Ulysse Nardin Norrøna
Arctic Night – is the eco-conscious firm’s most sustainable yet, made from lightweight carbonium and stainless steel derived from jet plane fuselage off-cuts and disused automotive parts, while the strap is fashioned from salvaged fishing nets.
Norrøna’s Arktis Pro jacket on the other hand, has a GORE-TEX shell made entirely from recycled nylon treated with sustainable bluesigncertified dye and design details to tackle the worst the weather has up its sleeve. “It’s the most technically advanced outdoorwear brand and its approach is always genuine”, says Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of Ulysse Nardin, who has been wearing Norrøna apparel for 30 years. “The jacket, like our watch, is a proper tool”, he adds. The Nordic label, established in 1929, has pioneered the use of materials like BioNylon – a biomass technical fabric derived from castor bean oil – and is aiming for a zero carbon footprint and waste business model by 2029.
To cement the partnership, Norwegian polar explorer Børge Ousland, who has seen a 60% loss of ice in the Arctic Ocean since the 1990s, was enlisted to field-test the fruits of the
GOING THE DISTANCE
Jørgen Jørgensen, fourth-generation owner and CEO of Norrøna, shares his tips for getting the most out of your winter jacket
1/ When your jacket gets very dirty, the fabric’s micro pores won’t breathe effectively. Wash it at 40c, but skip the spin cycle to avoid wear
2 / After air-drying, recoat it with waterrepellent spray (DWR) and pop it in the drier for a few minutes to reactivate the repellent compounds
3 / If you notice any damage or loose seams, get it fixed as soon as possible. We offer a lifetime repair service for our clothing
alliance. And while he admits that a limited run of 29 watches and jackets isn’t going to solve our ecological woes overnight, for Ousland, it’s about the message the project broadcasts. “Someone has to lead by example, so others will follow suit, realising the consumer actively wants to make better choices”.
So, even if the closest you make it to becoming a intrepid Arctic explorer is a frosty suburban platform as you wait for the 8.55 to Liverpool Street, you’ll still feel like an eco-warrior with this timely duo.
Ulysse Nardin Norrøna Arctic Night and Norrøna Arktis GORETEX Pro jacket set, £11,300 EURO
A limited run of 29 watches and jackets is available at ulysse-nardin.com
78 STYLE — Wardrobe Champion
Edited by SHANE C. KURUP
79 STYLE — kit bag
1 7 4 5 3 2 8 6 9
1/ Paka alpaca-blend Mountain socks, $18, pakaapparel.com 2/ Oris Aquis Date Upcycle, £1,800, oris.ch 3/ Peregrine British wool fleece, £132, peregrineclothing.co.uk 4/ TOBEFRANK recycled cotton-blend Peace and Human Rights T-shirt, £55, tbfuk.com 5/ Stella McCartney x Yoshitomo Nara sheep baseball cap, £275, stellamccartney.com 6/ Montblanc Blue Spirit ECONYL tote, £665, montblanc.com 7/ Raey selvedge-denim organic-cotton jeans, £175, matchesfashion.com. 8/ John Lewis ANYDAY recycled puffer gilet, £31.50, johnlewis.com 9/ Palladium x Finisterre Pallatrooper Hiker WP+ boots, £170, palladiumboots.com
Rack up those planet-first style points with these guilt-free staples
While our shots may look the part, sustainability is more than skin deep. It’s (hopefully) all but impossible to tell one type of steel from a more eco-friendly kind. So, we’re here to explain just how each of the stars of this shoot have done their part to move watchmaking into a more environmentally thoughtful frame of mind.
• 44mm ESteel case with 300m water resistance
• Calibre P.9010 automatic movement with 72-hour power reserve
• £7,900, panerai.com
80 STYLE — sustainable watches
Photography by FRASER VINCENT
Panerai Luminor Marina ESteel Blu Profondo
• 36mm Lucent Steel case with 100m water resistance
• Calibre 09.01-C automatic movement with 42-hour power reserve
• £9,200, chopard.com
81 STYLE — sustainable watches
Chopard Alpine Eagle
• 42mm stainless steel case with 600m water resistance
• Sellita SW200 automatic movement with 38-hour power reserve
• £1,070, christopherward.com
82 STYLE — sustainable watches
Christopher Ward C60 #tide
• 44mm Recycled PA 6 (70%) and Glass Fibre case with 300m water resistance
• Calibre AL-525 automatic movement with 38-hour power reserve
• £1,395, alpinawatches.com
83 STYLE — sustainable watches
Alpina Seastrong Gyre
Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57 Outerknown
• 42mm stainless steel case with 100m water resistance
• Breitling 10 automatic movement with 42-hour power reserve
• £3,700, breitling.com
84 STYLE — sustainable watches
Oris Big Crown Calibre 473
• 38mm stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
• Calibre 473 automatic movement with 120-hour power reserve
• CHF 4,200 (approx. £3,700), oris.ch
85 STYLE — sustainable watches
TAG Heuer Aquaracer
Professional 200 Solargraph
• 40mm titanium case with 200m water resistance
• TH50-00 solar powered quartz movement with six month charge
• £2,550, tagheuer.com
Luminor Marina ESteel Blu Profondo
A hefty 44mm of stainless steel, it’s good to know that over half of the Luminor’s weight (58.4%, to be precise) is made from recycled materials. Other than the nod on the dial, Panerai don’t make a big thing about the novel material; if it weren’t for the ESteel lettering, you’d assume it was the same as any other Luminor, a handsome, heritage diver – which is very much the point.
With the Alpine Eagle, Chopard not only built one of the few new sports luxe pieces in the upper echelons of watchmaking, but amped up both parts of the equation. First, it’s a chunky, industrial piece with some serious wrist presence; second, the proprietary Lucent Steel has a lustre akin to white gold, with none of the impractical downsides. What’s less known however is that Lucent Steel A223 is also made using 70% recycled steel. Looks good, does good, is good.
Alpina Seastrong Gyre
With its gorgeous smoked blue dial and matching strap in aqua shades, it’s easy to fall in love with Alpina’s flagship diving watch without needing to rely on its sustainable credentials. But what credentials they are: the case is made using 70% recycled plastic and a strap made from plastic bottles. Where some watchmakers dabble in these kinds of materials, Alpina are all in – and it works.
The C60 #tide wears its oceanic inspirations on its sleeve or, more accurately, it’s dial, with a deep blue, semi-transparent wavy number. But the theme is more than aesthetic; both the strap and a ring in the caseback have been made from recycled ocean plastics courtesy of the #tide project, which not only gives the watch its name, but receives proceeds from the sale of each watch. It’s a good-looking watch for an even better cause.
87 STYLE — sustainable watches explained
Christopher Ward C60 #tide
Oris Big Crown Calibre 473
The biggest story about the new Big Crown is the movement, which is the next in line of Oris’ phenomenal calibre 400 series, with a five-day power reserve and 10 year warranty. What you might not realise however is that the strap isn’t from the Swiss watchmaker, but Cervo Volante. The brand takes waste materials, specifically deer skins, and turns them into luxury leather goods. Generally that means shoes, but here it’s all about the sumptuous leather strap.
Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57 Outerknown
In keeping with the laid-back surfer vibes of the Heritage ’57, this particular version of the Superocean comes equipped with a strap from Kelly Slater’s sustainable surfing label Outerknown. Made from ECONYL yarn, which uses old fishing nets and other waste nylon, it’s just one of Breitling’s exclusive sustainable straps, one in which the brown perfectly matches the sepia-tinted retro vibes of the dial.
Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph
It’s not just windy and sunlit countries getting in on the green energy game; the latest quartz-powered take on TAG Heuer’s entry level diver is now solar powered. The translucent dial lets it charge throughout the day, with two-minutes of sunlight equating to a full day of charge. It also helps that with its polar blue highlights, the Solargraph is also one of the best looking, if restrained, Aquaracer Professional models around.
88 STYLE — sustainable watches explained
THE MOST ECO-FRIENDLY SPORT IS MOTORSPORT, SAYS ADAM HAY-NICHOLLS
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It’s August and it is just above freezing. I’ve been shivering in a tent on a glacier in Greenland, many miles from civilisation, waiting for a motor race to start: The Extreme E Arctic X Prix. This is a most unusual place for a race, but then Extreme E is a rather novel rally championship. It’s an all-electric race which visits some of our planet’s most tortured landscapes in order to draw attention to the climate emergency (Greenland’s ice sheet being ground zero), instigate philanthropic legacy programmes to combat it, and show what electric vehicles can do.
This innovative wheel-to-wheel competition includes jaw-dropping jumps and some of the biggest names in off-road racing (Carlos Sainz and Sébastien Loeb, who have 11 World Rally Championships between them, to name two). In the run up to events, they plant trees, clean beaches, and swim with sea lions. It has audiences of 19 million tuning in for the live event broadcasts, which include messages from environmental scientists as well as the drivers and the action they provide. There are just a handful of local spectators on the ground, so as to keep
the event’s carbon footprint low and limit any additional damage that might be done. Likewise, personnel numbers are kept to a minimum with just six technicians per team. Through social media, the pilots and other personalities highlight the eco challenges and show viewers how they can change their habits and do their bit.
Its mastermind is a Spanish entrepreneur named Alejandro Agag, 52, and this isn’t his first rodeo. He foresaw which way government policy and the motor industry was headed a decade ago. In 2014, he launched the Formula E series, an all-electric single-seater championship designed to race in city centres, attract manufacturers, and draw spectators that might not ordinarily attend a motor race. It wasn’t invented to rival Formula One – the pinnacle of single-seater racing – but to create a new niche and develop zero-emission technologies that could be adapted to road cars. It kicked off its ninth season in January, with eight manufacturer teams that include Porsche, Nissan, and Jaguar.
As well as automotive marques, the green element has attracted prestige commercial partners, such as LVMH’s Tag Heuer and Zenith, which sponsor the Formula E and Extreme E Championship respectively. Watch brands and racing cars have had a synergy since Steve McQueen rocked up at Le Mans in 1970, but Zenith CEO Julien Tornare tells me, “we had to go in a different direction. I wanted to stay in cars, but in a green way and in an extreme environment. I was already looking towards electric car racing, because it’s difficult to show you are respecting the environment and then partner with a highly-polluting activity.”
That is the perception of Formula One, but it’s made big changes in the last eight years. In 2014, the formula became hybrid. The 700bhp 1.6-litre V6 turbos, mated to electric motors that generate 300bhp from the brakes (kinetic) and exhaust (thermal), are the most efficient power units in the world. Ask what fans love the most, a lot of them will say the noise – and the sound of V6 Turbos isn’t a patch on the deafening wail of naturally-aspirated V8s, V10s and V12s, but the younger fans – which are growing
The Extreme E Arctic X Prix certainly lives it up to its name, as the punishing race series takes in some of the world’s most affected landscapes to draw attention to the climate emergency and show what electric cars can do with the help of World Rally champions, Carlos Sainz and Sébastien Loeb
“It has audiences of 19 million tuning in for the live event broadcasts, which include messages from environmental scientists as well as the drivers and the action they provide”
93 racing green
94 racing green
The brainchild of Spanish entrepreneur, Alejandro Agag, who launched the Formula E series in 2014, the Extreme E Arctic X Prix knows its place with the racing calendar as it doesn’t want to rival Formula 1, but instead create a new niche and develop zero-emission technologies that can be adapted for use in road cars
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dramatically in number – don’t know what they’re missing and, according to F1’s former managing director Ross Brawn, prefer peace and quiet.
“There is a new demographic out there who think [V10s et al] are a bit of an oddity,” the championship-winning engineer, who retired from the sport in December, tells me over dinner. “People like different things, and there are a huge number of fans who probably quite like they can have a chat in the grandstands while the cars go around. It’s not so important to them. We came from an era where we liked to hear a V12 scream, but it was painful. You forget how loud they really were.”
The emissions generated by the ten F1 teams’ 20 cars across 21 grands prix, including testing and practice sessions, accounts for just 0.7 percent of F1’s total carbon footprint. By far the biggest CO2 creators are logistics and the movement of people, and in this area F1 isn’t all that different from the ATP tennis tour, PGA golf, or international football. Unlike grass sports, motor racing offers technological solutions to the climate crisis, as exemplified by its fuel-efficient engines and energy recovery systems.
F1 plans to be net zero carbon by 2030, and will run synthetic fuel from 2026; fuel that can also be used in road carssomething F1 will play a big role in the R&D of. Synthetic fuel emits no carbon dioxide from the tailpipe, capturing the element in the manufacturing process. Overall, it’s still not as green as electricity, but it could be a more practical solution for a lot of transportation. And there is another energy source motorsport is about to highlight.
Hydrogen fuel cell cars match battery electric cars for greenness, but with the advantage they have greater range and can be fuelled in just a few minutes. Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota have all brought hydrogen fuel cell family cars to market. They are complex, though. Racing can act as a laboratory, in this respect. In 2024, Agag plans to introduce Extreme H. This will be the first hydrogen-powered championship. “In my view, hydrogen is a good compliment to battery cars,” says Agag. “BEVs are great in cities, but for long-haul journeys maybe hydrogen is better. Maybe I’ll have
97 racing green
“F1 plans to be net zero carbon by 2030, and will run synthetic fuel from 2026; fuel that can also be used in road cars”
Formula E has shown audiences that adrenaline fuelled racing can have a green tinge to its approach, and more is to follow as racing entrepreneur Alejandro Agag plans to introduce Extreme H, the first hydrogenpowered championship. “In my view, hydrogen is a good compliment to battery cars,” he explains
ten Extreme E cars and ten Extreme H, or five and five. I’m making the first prototype at the moment.”
Former F1 champion and Extreme E team owner Nico Rosberg says he’s interested in fielding both. “Hydrogen will have a role to play in transportation in the future. I know of OEMs (vehicle manufacturers) that would be extremely interested to enter Extreme H. We will definitely look at it too, because it’s an extremely relevant technology.”
Christiana Figueres was, in her role as United Nations Executive Secretary on Climate Change, the main author of the 2015 Paris Agreement. I ask for her views on the need to turn petrolheads like me into electroheads – or maybe ‘hydroheads’. “The transport sector is responsible for roughly 30 percent of the world’s carbon emissions,” she explains. “We have to stop transporting ourselves
in a polluting way. We need catalysts to spark changes in technology and behaviour. There’s no doubt that motorsport is exciting and has many fans. We need to bring all of those people on the same journey.”
A race to save the planet? Count me in, so long as the cars are fast and the crashes spectacular.
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“We have to stop transporting ourselves in a polluting way. We need catalysts to spark changes in technology”
Former F1 champion and Extreme E team owner of Rosberg X Racing, Nico Rosberg has left behind his petrolhead ways in favour of a life as an entrepreneur in sustainable racing
It might seem like pure sci-fi even now, but 3D printing has been around longer than you might think. Since the 1980s in fact, where a facsimile of modern 3D printing was used for rapid prototyping among a handful of cutting-edge companies. Still, it’s amazing how far the technology has come in just the past few years, going from a fringe production technique to an Etsy staple thanks to home printers.
Even though you’ve definitely heard about 3D printing by now, it’s worth diving a little deeper into precisely what it is, especially as it’s now a watchmaking wunderkind – which we’ll get onto. So, a 3D printer is a machine that turns a three-dimensional design on a computer into a real-life object. It’s basically a slower Star Trek replicator.
The printer does this by layering a building material in sequential layers. The material can be practically anything – and because it’s done in ultra-thin slices, it can print the inside of an object too, without the need for any kind of machining. Between those two core aspects, you can 3D print pretty much anything, from He-Man toys to guns to human hearts.
It’s therefore not too big a stretch to see 3D printing crop up in watchmaking, too. After all, it’s not so far from physical vapour deposition (your black, scratch resistant PVD) in concept that it’s some strange piece of mad science. In fact, a few brands have even embraced it, from the off-kilter eclecticism of Holthinrichs to the much more aesthetically accessible Oris Coulson with its 3D printed carbon case.
Perhaps the most extraordinary example last year however came from an unexpected quarter: SevenFriday. The idiosyncratic and worryingly collectible watchmaker is used to building intensely multi-layered dials, but 3D printing is at the extreme, as is what they’ve done with it. The Free-D is like nothing else.
Words: Sam Kessler
HOW SEVENFRIDAY IS EMBRACING THE SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGY OF THE FUTURE IN THEIR 3D PRINTED PIECE OF INSANITY
Designed to celebrate their 10th anniversary, SevenFriday’s 3D printed outer case on one of the brand’s signature ‘squircle’ cases has taken their intensely multi-layered dials to another level of intricacy
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Looking like the kind of sci-fi silhouette even MB&F would deem a bit too much, the Free-D was designed to celebrate SevenFriday’s 10th anniversary. It’s a 3D printed outer case added onto one of the brand’s signature ‘squircle’ cases to create an entirely new and distinct silhouette.
As for the material, it’s plastic – but not the same as your kids’ Peppa Pig beater. Dubbed PA11 (catchy), it’s similar to a lot of the high-end composites you’d expect to find in the upper echelon sports watch brands.
“Besides being organic and plant based,” explains Daniel Niederer, founder and CEO of SevenFriday, “it has extremely interesting properties like being super durable, extremely light, non-allergic, heat resistant and more. It’s been space and medicine tested!”
“As for production, the technology allows us to create shapes, forms and finished constructions that wouldn’t be possible otherwise in a traditional way. The Free-D is a design concept purely developed based on the properties of 3D printing and would make a lot less sense otherwise. It was specifically done to accommodate and embrace the 3D printing technique as well as the material used.”
In short, the Free-D is inseparable
from the technology used to build it. It just wouldn’t be possible without 3D printing. Which, befitting the theme of this issue, makes it eminently sustainable. The polyamide is plantbased; there’s no wasted material and the traditionally made Swiss movement is about as sustainable as a machine can be. Granted, the environment’s probably not your first thought looking at the watch, but it’s a good example of how 3D printing can genuinely impact watchmaking for the better, were more brands to really embrace it.
“The Free-D is a symbiosis of tradition and future in the present! We are using a very traditional Swiss mechanic movement (which is very sustainable…) and bringing it together with the latest development in 3D printing. It’s two worlds coming together.”
Of course, the oddly shaped elephant in the room is that the Free-D isn’t a concept that’s fully ‘there’ yet. It cuts an imposing figure, but it’s in essence a bolt-on to the standard squircle watch that SevenFriday have been building for over a decade now. So how about it? Any chance of delving deeper and building the entire watch with a 3D printer?
“We are constantly investigating and testing new developments,” says Niederer, “and I wouldn’t want to exclude anything. The technology doesn’t seem to be fully there yet…but who knows?”
Hopefully this is just the start – and not just for SevenFriday. Watchmaking is a craftsmanship-heavy enough industry that its inefficiencies are minute when compared to say, cars or construction. But things like oil for machining and energy to reclaim the excess shavings of metal and heat metal and ceramic are all things that could be seriously lessened with 3D printing.
It does take some of the romance out of it, but I don’t expect Breguet or Vacheron to start 3D printing everything, even if it were possible. But for a certain type of watchmaker with a certain type of audience – i.e. SevenFriday – it makes perfect, futureproof sense.
Produced from a plant-based polyamide to ensure there’s no wasted material, the mechanical aesthetic of the watch hides its sustainable and organic roots that point the way towards how 3D printing can positively impact and futureproof watchmaking
“The Free-D is a symbiosis of tradition and future. We are using a traditional Swiss mechanic movement and bringing it together with the latest development in 3D printing”
Words: Sam Kessler
Men of Influence: NICK ENGLISH
WE TALK TO BREMONT COFOUNDER NICK ENGLISH ABOUT FENDER TELECASTERS, MENORCA AND LIVING LIFE TO THE FULL
men of influence
What was the last watch you bought?
At Bremont we do get a good deal on watches, so the last one I wanted funnily enough was the blue dialled Fury with our H1 movement. I’ve not bought a non-Bremont for… probably 20 years which is terrible! My Bremont collection on the other hand forever expands.
Do you collect anything outside of watches? I collect a couple of things. First edition Ian Fleming James Bond novels, which are fun. You can buy them for a few hundred quid or a lot more, so it’s like collecting the Dirty Dozen. The early ones are really hard to find because they did relatively few.
Guitars, too. I have a bit of a fetish for them, it’s terrible really. I keep trying to convince my wife it’s the same guitar I’ve had for a long time. But they’re pieces of art! At least, that’s my justification.
What, other than a watch, is at the top of your wish list?
If you get a decent original copy of something like Casino Royale, they go for so much money. That or a late 1950s Fender Telecaster. It’s important to have these things to work towards!
A recent find/discovery?
A couple of weekends ago I went to the Hauser & Wirth Gallery in Menorca. There’s an old hospital island that they’ve converted partly into a gallery along with a beautiful café. You can only get there by boat and it’s like going back in time; all shabby chic. It felt very untouristy and incredibly well done in an understated way.
Otherwise just the fact that walking the 6K to work every day and back again while listening to an audiobook is the best meditation ever!
What inspires you?
It’s always my family. Over the years it’s been our father, who inspired us in a massive way. But as I’ve gotten older – I have an incredible, strong-willed wife –her no-nonsense approach is incredibly inspiring. Recently too, my eldest just packed up and said he was going to Barcelona University. I see these people on a daily basis, your flesh and blood, seeing them do things I’m not sure I’d
men of influence
© George Romain
Flying the flag for Bremont, the company co-founder, Nick English can often be found with his head in an Ian Fleming first edition during downtime, when he’s not jetting off to discover hidden Menorcan islands
106 men of influence
© Nick Tydeman
Nick posing with his brother, and Bremont co-founder, Giles, in their freshly opened 35,000 square foot Bremont Manufacturing & Technology Centre (top) that opened last year at a cost of more than £20 million
have been able to do is inspiring. Then there’s my brother Giles who over the past 20 to 30 years, has helped me past so many hurdles.
A book/podcast/album that changed the way you think?
On a podcast side, and I recommend it to everyone, is Dr. Andrew Huberman’s Huberman Lab. He’s a Stanford Professor and he’s incredible. We got to know him originally because he wears a Bremont, but once I started listening to him about things like the effects of heat treatment, backed up by scientific research, it’s amazing. He covers a ton of different health topics (which I’m quite into myself) and I thoroughly recommend him to anyone with a passing interest.
Book-wise, it has to be the Lonely Sea and The Sky, about Francis Chichester, that our father gave us when we were young. He was a great navigator and in 1928 he flew a gypsy moth from England to Australia and wrote all about his adventures along the way. He was also the first guy to sail solo across the world. He made me realise that we’re just all wusses these days; back then they just hopped in this canvas and plywood biplane and off they went!
Who is a celebrity/person of note/intellectual you admire?
In the past couple of years, Harrison Ford. He’s as big as they get in the film world, but he’s such a lovely guy. He has a hanger of airplanes and flies himself around the world. He’s still making movies at 80 years old, he’s fit, witty, and incredibly humble. He’s a special guy – there aren’t many people like that around.
What’s your ideal long weekend?
I’d nip off to Barcelona, see some mates and family over there. The food, the architecture, the weather, everything’s marvellous. I’d take the overnight ferry to our place in Menorca, do some watersports and play some tennis on the clay courts out there. I’m not one to sit around and binge watch Netflix for a weekend. If you pack enough stuff in, it can feel like a lot longer, so I pack in as much as possible.
Live life to the full, for goodness sake! My father died at 49, but he crammed so much in. He built boats, sailed from England to Africa, piloted in air shows
What would we always find in your fridge? Bone broth and oat milk – not together.
What’s a rule/mantra that you live by? There ares two. One is to treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself. The way I am with people is the way I’d like them to be with me – what goes around comes around, after all.
Secondly – and this is the most important – live life to the full, for goodness sake! My father died at 49, but he crammed so much in. He built boats, sailed from England to Africa, piloted in
air shows, did all this stuff. He’s a good role model to live life by.
What does the year ahead look like for you? It’s going to be a year of travel actually. There’s a ton we’ve done here on the engineering side, technical innovation on the movement here at the Wing, but now that China’s opened up and markets have opened up again, there’s a lot we need to do internationally. And I want to do a few flying adventures in old airplanes, some car racing, everything we can cram in!
107 men of influence
WORDS: SAM KESSLER
PUTTING YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MORALS ARE WITH SUSTAINABLE INVESTMENTS
From hydroelectric plants to infrastructure that provides greater access to schools for underprivileged communities, data driven decisions can help investors build a diverse, risk-averse portfolio that puts the planet first
© Thomas Richter
Investing is all too often seen as a mercenary endeavour, one in which making money is all that matters. But that completely disregards that you, as an investor, have values. You have your own principles and ethics, causes you prefer to support and moral standards you refuse to compromise on. Nor should you. That’s the idea behind sustainable investing.
It’s worth noting that this kind of sustainable investing isn’t new. For years now, investors have been concerned with making sure their personal values align with how they use their money. But in recent years, with climate change, political turmoil and worker exploitation a greater part of discourse than ever before, it’s become a necessity for any conscientious investor.
There’s a practical standpoint to it too. Climate change is a global threat and yet many investments are directly affected by the crisis. It makes sense therefore to ensure that your money isn’t somewhere that will suffer from climate change, but instead helps combat it. Diversity in the boardroom is a consideration too, not just because equality is a good thing, but because studies have proven that it leads to greater profitability – and therefore a higher return on your investment.
The starting point, as ever, is data. ESG (environmental, social and governance) data has yet to be standardised, so finding out precisely how well different companies are doing when it comes to sustainability is harder than it should be. That’s why companies like MSCI (a well-known investment research firm) provides insights which are important to potential portfolios. MSCI represents the gold standard for this kind of research, and offers the level of data any investor needs to understand what their money is going towards.
Once you have the data, sustainable investing is all about embracing the good while limiting the bad. A large part of the former is dictated by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which aim for the kind of ideals we can all agree on: no poverty or hunger, quality health and education, clean energy and
non-exploitative economic growth, among other things.
There are a ton of investment opportunities out there that move towards these goals, whether that’s new hydroelectric plants or infrastructure to ensure greater access to schools for underprivileged communities. For every major problem in the world, there’s an investment opportunity to counteract it. Enough, in fact, that you can easily cut out some of the more negative investment opportunities out there.
If you don’t know where your money is going, there’s a chance that it will go towards something harmful. That’s why sustainable investment cuts out things like alcohol, civilian firearms, gambling and fossil fuels. Projects that are harmful to people or the planet are by their very nature toxic to your portfolio, not to
mention against the UN’s stated goals. Sometimes it’s impossible to cut everything out entirely – hence the word ‘limit’ rather than exclude – but you can minimise the impact.
By balancing these two areas –embracing the good and limiting the bad – you not only build a diverse, riskaverse portfolio, but one that genuinely promotes healthy growth and helps counteract some of the biggest issues of the era. Whether because it aligns with your personal values or simply as a sound way to grow your money, sustainable investing is the future.
Of course, it’s a concept that only really works with a certain level of transparency, reporting and the expertise to parse the data and pick out the best projects for your capital. As a multi award-winning private bank and wealth manager, Nedbank Private Wealth has all the tools to create a newly sustainable investment portfolio for you. For more information, visit nedbankprivatewealth.com
© Eyoel Kahssay
If you don’t know where your money is going, there’s a chance it will go towards something harmful. That’s why sustainable investment cuts out civilian firearms, gambling, and fossil fuels
• 39.8mm rose gold case with 30m water resistance
• High quality automatic movement upgraded by ANDERSEN Genève with 40-hour power reserve
• £££, limited to 24 pieces, andersen-geneve.ch
ANDERSEN GENEVE WORLD TIME ASPREY
The rarefied watchmaker brings its craft to some of Asprey’s most wellheeled patrons
Between your Harrods Greens, Bucherer Blues and enough Hodinkee collaborations to populate their storefront, the not-so-humble boutique edition is very much here to stay. It generally makes sense as a concept; who better to understand what their customers are after than those directly selling them watches?
That said, recolours of existing watches aren’t exactly high effort endeavours, even if they do typically look good. They speak of a quick turnaround on a straightforward, saleable product. Then there’s the Andersen Geneve World Time Asprey.
Andersen Geneve began making world time watches over 30 years ago so you’d assume that means they’ve done a fair few in their time. You’d be wrong. The watchmaker only releases a scant handful of models each year and their annual production sits at well, well under 100 pieces. Not 100,000, but 100. If you were wondering why you don’t see them all that often, there you go.
The fact that a watchmaker with such rarefied production has collaborated with a retailer at all shows just how much of an institution Asprey is. They may have moved from their hallowed Bond Street location a little while back, but they’re still purveyor of fine objets to some of London’s most wellheeled patrons. They were never going to collaborate on something we’d consider ‘affordable’.
So, what about the watch itself? Well, it’s basically a revamp of Andersen Geneve’s fifth World Time watch, 2015’s Tempus Terrae, which recently saw a pair of anniversary editions with blue gem-set bezels. The Asprey is different for a few reasons. First, it doesn’t have the gem-set bezel, instead opting for plain rose gold. Second, those lugs.
The trinangle lugs actually come from previous Andersen Geneve models, specifically the 1996’s Secular Perpetual Calendar and 2002’s Orbit Lunae. In fact, the lugs are what came to define both pieces. This being the first World Time model to use them makes for an aesthetic melting pot that should have been fired up well before now.
Of course, most of the action is happening on the dial with that incredible blue gold guilloche. The pattern is inspired by Asprey’s signature engine turning pattern, an intricate series of diamonds in diamonds that you can see on a few Asprey products – though it’s never been used on a watch before. What has been used however is the material, as it’s been an Andersen Geneve staple since 2005. In short, this is a greatest hits of the watchmaker’s particular brand of haute horology dressed up in Asprey. It’s hard not to love.
At just under 40mm it sits nicely on the wrist and with the relatively large lettering the various time zones are easy to read without a loupe, something that many world timers fall down on. It does feel like the cities are crowding out the rest of the dial a bit, but from a practical standpoint there’s not much to be done there without enlarging the entire piece.
On the left-hand side at nine o’clock there’s a painstakingly finished quick-change button for the world time function, which is always useful. It’s just not the easiest to use in this instance, which is a shame. Still, it’s awkward because it’s so subtle and once set it makes for a much more elegant looking watch. Swings and roundabouts.
The movement is, as you might expect, stunning. The rotor has been matched to the dial in engine-turned blue gold, which somehow looks even better against the metal of the movement. The calibre itself – with its 40-hour power reserve – is well finished but without ostentation. It’s about as restrained as you can get, unlike the frame: a ring of black jade with the names of both companies inlaid with gold. Honestly, the amount of effort lavished upon the World Time Asprey puts most boutique editions to shame. It’s not a recolour of anything, but a completely new watch that shows off the elements that have come to define Andersen Geneve. Even without the Apsrey link, it would be a great watch; with, it adds that extra twist to make it, in my eyes at least, the most convincing case in 2022 for boutique editions as a concept.
The World Time Asprey is limited to 24 pieces which sounds miniscule, but given Andersen Geneve’s annual production it’s a surprisingly big clutch of timepieces. It also makes sense in an on-the-nose way. 24 pieces for 24 timezones. As for price, it was never going to be cheap:
For us mere mortals, that’s never going to happen. For the various millionaires and royals around the world that shop at Asprey though, that’s not too bad. And while Andersen Geneve might not have the profile they deserve, it’s a beauty that’s well worth the money.
£55,000, limited to 24 pieces, andersen-geneve.ch
hands-on reviews FEARS CHRISTOPHER WARD ALLIANCE 01 A collaborative home-grown effort to celebrate the Alliance of British Watch and Clock Makers THE SPECS • 40.5mm diameter x 12.80mm thickness, stainless steel case, burgundy red sunburst dial • Swiss made Sellita calibre SW200, 25 jewels, automatic, JJ01 jumping hour module • £3,950, limited to 50 pieces, christopherward.com, fearswatches.com
When the Alliance of British Watch and Clockmakers was launched back in 2020 its stated aims were to promote British watch and clock making around the world, to encourage British supply-chain, technology and jobs, to give the sector a voice, and to champion British provenance.
In an exercise to showcase the skills and cooperation that can be fostered between some of the 75+ brands which now form part of the Alliance, Fears and Christopher Ward have collaborated to produce the first Alliance watch: the Fears Christopher Ward Alliance 01. Profits from this endeavour will then help the Alliance to fund efforts in supporting and promoting British watch and clock making.
As for the watch, it’s a perfect marriage of the two brands, bringing together Fears’ design language and Christopher Ward’s impressive JJ01 jumping-hour calibre. It’s not quite as straightforward as a Fears watch housing a Christopher Ward movement though. During early discussions, Fears’ Managing Director Nicholas Bowman-Scargill first posed the idea of using the JJ01; a movement which Christopher Ward doesn’t currently offer in any of their line-up, though it does form the basis of the triumphant Bel Canto.
With the possibility of collaborating on a jumping-hour in limited numbers given the green light, it was actually the design team of Christopher Ward who penned their vision of how a Fears watch using this movement might look. The resulting watch is testament to both the talent of the Christopher Ward design team, and to the clarity of the Fears design language.
Christopher Ward’s JJ01 calibre is their in-house jumpinghour module, developed by Johannes Jahnke, sitting atop the Sellita SW200 automatic movement. The bespoke hour wheel is printed with Fears’ ‘Edwin’ numerals. The dial, described as Burgundy Red, is deep in tone. The sunburst outer portion is pleasantly sparse. The only branding on the front is that of the Fears name hugging the outermost edge of the dial at its top, with England mirrored at the bottom. The colour of the dial is matched by an Oxblood calf leather strap.
The inner portion, in which the central minute hand sits, has the same concentric circle pattern you might expect to find in a sub-seconds dial. The two distinct dial areas are separated by a rhodium-plated ring, with the same also surrounding the jump hour aperture above. The single hand features a crisp bevel with different finishes on either edge, with the aim of giving some distinction against the dial in any light.
Like many jump-hour movements — or base automatic movements with ‘piggy-back’ modules — the JJ01 isn’t all that thin. Even with a closed case back and eliminating as much space as possible between the dial and sapphire crystal, the Alliance 01 is still 12.8mm thick. On paper, that’s thicker than many 200m rated dive watches. This piece doesn’t have the benefit of looking like a hulking dive watch though. The cushion case closely resembles that of the Fears’ successful Brunswick model, but this is an entirely new and bespoke case with a diameter of 40.5mm.
While the dial and case sizings are influenced heavily by
the choice of movement that they surround, the dimensions suit the overall character of the watch. It admittedly sits towards the dressier end of the spectrum, though the case isn’t delicate enough, or the dial discreet enough to warrant being treated as a dress watch. Nevertheless, there’s no hiding its height.
The most pleasing aspect of wearing a jumping-hour watch, especially one in which the hands and movement are calibrated to such fine tolerances, is the snap which happens every 60 minutes. The hour wheel jumps forward with great precision and gives a rather satisfying audible tick to boot.
With no evidence of Christopher Ward visible on the dial, despite providing the engine inside and playing a significant part in the overall design, the rear of the watch does hint at their involvement. The solid case back has no markings, but the underside of each lug bears an engraving. Fears’ ‘Pipette’, Christopher Ward’s ‘Twin flags’, and the Association of British Watch and Clock Makers logo all appear, with the fourth lug showing the LE number of each watch.
Only 50 pieces of this limited edition collaboration are going to be made. Additionally, they will only be available to members of the Alliance of British Watch and Clock Makers. If you want to purchase one, you’ll need to make sure your membership is registered before the watch goes on sale on 27 January. The Fears Christopher Ward Alliance 01 is priced at £3,995 including VAT (£3,291.67 exc. VAT); Alliance membership, in case you were wondering, is £55 p/a. It’s not that big an investment, considering. £3,995, limited to 50 pieces, christopherward.com, fearswatches.com
It’s a perfect marriage of the two brands, bringing together Fears’ design language and Christopher Ward’s impressive JJ01 jumping-hour calibre
hands-on reviews THE AUDEMARS PIGUET STARWHEEL A 90s classic returns to the collection via the lens of the Code 11:59 THE SPECS • 41mm ceramic and white gold case with 30m water resistance • Calibre 4130 automatic movement with 70-hour power reserve • £49,700, audemarspiguet.com
The 90s wasn’t a great time for watchmaking. Sure, there were some high points here and there – Ikepod springs to mind – but otherwise there wasn’t a huge amount to talk about. The quartz crisis was over, but the watchmaking renaissance we’re the beneficiaries of these days had yet to appear. Which made it a bit confusing when Audemars Piguet decided to launch the Starwheel.
The Starwheel was a strange, wandering hours watch, a method of display that’s rare today, let alone the low point of 1991. I’m not going to get into the complication’s storied history but suffice to say it has old roots. It’s defined by a trio of dials that spin around the dial, using the correct hour to mark off the minute along a scale at 12 o’clock. Even weirder, the dials were made from sapphire, meaning you could see the hole at the centre of the dial.
Needless to say, the Starwheel wasn’t the next Royal Oak. That’s not to say it wasn’t successful; AP kept producing it well into the 2000s, but nobody particularly cried when they stopped production. It was a fun novelty, but once brands like Urwerk came in and made the concept their own, it fell by the wayside. Until now.
In light of the Code 11:59 and Audemars Piguet’s return to round(ish) watchmaking, (as well as the growing recognition that the 90s models were, in fact, cool) it’s the perfect time to bring back a watch that has fallen by the wayside. And honestly, I prefer the overall look of the shiny new 2022 Starwheel.
First off, despite being the same base complication, three satellite dials using the hour to indicate the minute at 12 o’clock, it looks much better than the 90s version, with solid, aluminium PVD dials and the mechanism – and the startpointed teeth that give the watch its name – just visible underneath. It’s also been given a monochromatic paint job, with the collection’s signature circle-with-an-octagon case in black ceramic and white gold. The only part that’s not black or silver is the thematically fitting aventurine outer dial, the stars in Starwheel.
The ensemble is powered by the calibre 4310, an in-house movement based on the 4309, which in turn was launched with the original run of Code 11:59 automatic watches. It’s a classy piece of watchmaking, both for the finishing (which is the only traditional part of the watch, with Cotes de Geneve, pearlage and a solid gold rotor) and for it’s 70-hour power reserve. Given that the wandering hours is a module – and therefore more draining on the mainspring – that’s pretty impressive.
As with all satellite watches, it’s incredibly easy to read once you’ve gotten over the lack of traditional hands. It’s almost as easy as a digital display, but with a lot more character. It also wears well, even if it feels a touch larger than its 41mm diameter might suggest. That’s all to do with the layered case which is as interesting now as it was in 2019. That’s to say very, before you get the wrong idea. I was one of the few that actually liked the Code 11:59 at launch, even if it did flounder a little.
That said, this for me is what the Code 11:59 has been waiting for. Sure, the collection’s played host to a fair few grande complications, including a Sonnerie, but the animation the satellite display brings to bear is a league apart. It’s not the most complicated, but it’s the best fit for the watch. Is this the beginning of a wave of 90s nostalgia? God, I hope not. I grew up then and even I hate the 90s. But at least it shows that not everything needs to be a 60s revival piece. £49,700, audemarspiguet.com
In light of the Code 11:59 and Audemars Piguet’s return to round(ish) watchmaking, it’s the perfect time to bring back a watch that has fallen by the wayside
Edited by : SAM KESSLER
THE ORACLE TIME MICROBRAND GUIDE 2023
From funky impulse buys to accessible haute horology, these are the microbrand releases to know about this year… so far
It may have had some stigma in the past but the word ‘microbrand’ is these days, in watchmaking at least, shorthand for creativity. It stands for the small, independent makers, the designers willing to stamp their unique aesthetics onto their watches and the innovators putting the big horological players to shame. It’s also an ever-shifting sea of new timepieces that needs a bit of guidance to navigate properly. So here we are, with our selection of the finest microbrand releases available. Whether you’re after a professional standard diver (or something well-beyond professional, for that matter) or something eye-catching for daily wear, we have you covered. And to make life easier on your wallet, we’ve put everything in order of price, impulse buys this end, more serious price tags the others. Enjoy!
122 FRONT — microbrand guide
• 42mm stainless steel case with 200m water resistance
• Miyota 9015 automatic movement with 42-hour power reserve
• $389 (approx. £315), bernhardtwatch.com
BERNHARDT WATCH Company Corsair Diver
A pioneer of direct-to-consumer watch selling – yes, it didn’t always exist and that makes us feel old – a large part of Bernhardt’s reputation was built on the superb Corsaid, of which this is the latest version. The lovechild of a dive watch and pilots’ watch, the Corsair is named after the F4U Corsair, a fighter that saw action in the Pacific theatre of WWII. Practically, its specs land more on the sea side, with solid depth resistance and an eye-catching two-tone 60-minute bezel. It’s a lot of watch for not a lot of money.
It can’t be a year in microbrands without a reimagining of a classic dual-crown compressor, and the Model 2 from Alkin is a fun tribute. It’s not a true compressor, but with 300m water resistance it has more than enough depth for your average diver. With its oversized numerals, high-contrast black-on-white look, and sandwich indexes, it’s an eyecatching (and wallet pleasingly accessible) tool watch. Oh, and if that weren’t enough, the entire dial is lumed. How’s that for low-light visibility?
• 41mm stainless steel case with 300m water resistance
• Miyota 9039 automatic movement with 42-hour power reserve
• £415, alkinwatches.com
VARIO VERSA Dual Time
Many a microbrand have embraced Art Deco aesthetics over the years, but few have taken on the horological icon of the movement that is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. Enter the Vario VERSA which, like the prestige equivalent, can flip (this time vertically) between dials, with a different time zone on each. Aesthetically it’s slightly more curved than pure Art Deco, inspired as it is by the Streamline Moderne train, but let’s be honest, if you’re looking for a cool, affordable alternative to the Reverso, this is the quartzequipped slice of versatile vintage style you’re looking for.
• 40mm x 26mm stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
• Ronda Slimtech 1062 quartz movement with 6-year battery life
• US$428 (approx. £350), vario.sg
THE DETAIL 40mm titanium case with 200m water resistance
Seiko SII NH34 automatic movement with 41-hour power reserve $549 (approx. £450), rzewatches.com
We’ve come to expect three things from Singaporean microbrand RZE: cool, colour, and accessibility. It’s something they nailed with their titanium Valour collection and now they’re doing it again, this time across multiple time zones. A quartet of pieces – though the standouts are obviously the yellow and tiffany-adjacent blue – in the brand’s signature UltraHex titanium are as robust as they are lightweight, finished with one of the most comfortable micro bracelets around. The GMT is told via the orange central hand, while the 24-hour bezel can be turned a la the GMT-Master II. What more is there to say? We love it.
124 FRONT — m microbrand guide
Our editor’s favourite microbrand release of 2022, Boldr’s darkly cool Singularity is a testament to the brand’s signature tool watch practicality with a modern twist. The dial uses Musou Black paint, second in darkness only to Vantablack, with orange-lumed hands floating above. It’s as alluring as a black hole, on top of being an incredibly wearable field watch. Hell, it even has a full titanium case, all for a price that puts many major brands to absolute shame. It’s going to be a big 2023 for Boldr.
• 38mm titanium case with 200m water resistance
• Seiko SII NH35A automatic movement with 41-hour power reserve
• £373, boldrsupply.co
FRONT — m under £500
Living up to the name on the dial, the Isaria is inspired by the river of the same name that runs through Munich, and there’s no doubt a lot of love and attention has been lavished on the model. The intensely faceted case and prominent lugs that extend around the case (a signature of the brand) ensure it has a unique silhouette, while the wavey dial echoes the movement of its namesake river. Rather than your usual workhorse calibre, BWC have opted instead for a Landeron L24 manufacture. It’s the most subtle point of difference in this watch, but it’s a good one.
• 42.2mm stainless steel case with 200m water resistance
• Landeron L24 manufacture automatic movement with 40hour power reserve
• €555 (approx. £490), bavarian-watch.com
Yes, yes, Baltic are on the borderline when it comes to microbrands (they entered Only Watch, for example) but they still tick all the boxes that define one. Elegant 44mm case in point, the MR01. It’s not just a handsome dress watch with a vintage textured salmon dial – though it is of course painfully good-looking – but it houses a superb micro-rotor movement, something you rarely come across anywhere near this price point. The only downside? Expect a bit of a wait to get one on your wrist. The good news is that it’ll be worth the wait.
• 44mm stainless steel case with 30m water resistance
• Hangzhou CAL5000a automatic movement with 42-hour power reserve
• €545 (approx. £480), baltic-watches.com
126 FRONT — microbrand guide
Expect a bit of a wait to get one on your wrist. The good news is that it’ll be worth the wait
STUDIO UNDERD0G Watermel0n
While it’s not the newest design in Studio Underd0g’s line-up, it is a good part of the reason the microbrand has become a British success story. And these days, there’s even more to it than it’s namesake combination of green, pink, and watermelon textured dial. Last year Studio Underd0g made a conscious drive to bring things back to the UK. So, every Swiss-made movement is overhauled by British watchmaker Horologium and every strap is from the Strap Tailor. But hey, if all you love about it are the colours, that’s fine too.
• 40.5mm titanium case with 100m water resistance
• Sellita SW360 Elabore automatic movement with 42-hour power reserve
• $795 (approx. £650), axiatime.com
• 38.5mm stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
• Seagull ST-1901 manual-wind movement with 42-hour power reserve
• £500, underd0g.com
What do you want from a field watch? A rugged, hard-wearing case, sure. Anti-magnetism? If you’re a true explorer, of course!
Sapphire glass and scratch resistance to keep it looking its best would be good, too. That’s not just what we want; that’s what the watch community want too, whose 6,500 votes were crowdsourced into the Circula ProTrail. A stunner of a field watch with a specs sheet to match, the Pforzheim-based brand has knocked it out of the park and, while the Old Radium edition is limited enough to sell out quick (99 pieces) the other editions are just as cool.
Proving that titanium can work just as well on a more classical watch as it can on something in the field, the Sofia II walks the thin aesthetic line between elegant and sporty. The tiered blue or black dial might look simple, but with lume-filled indexes, a colour-matched date wheel and a circular brushed finished, it shines in the details. Equipped with a cut-above Sellita Elabore movement and offering a pair of straps (including this handsome NATO option) and complimentary engraving, it’s the complete timepiece package.
• 40mm titanium case with 150m water resistance
• Sellita SW 200-1 Elaboré automatic movement with 38-hour power reserve
• €899 (approx. £790), circulawatches.com
FRONT — m under £800
ISOTOPE X SCOTTISH WATCHES Hydrium Alba
With its instantly recognisable lacrima (the teardrop on the dial) and rugged style, the Hydrium is a modern microbrand icon and in their partnership with Scottish watches, Isotope have built the cleanest, sharpest version yet. The podcast hosts being more patriotic than William Wallace, the so-called Alba, named after an ancient name for Scotland is in their flag colours of white enamel and blue highlights. Finished with a 120-click bezel with a black insert and backed by 300m water resistance, it’s as practical as it is crisply cool.
• 40mm stainless steel case with 300m water resistance
• Landeron automatic movement with 40-hour power reserve
• £840, limited to 100 pieces, isotopewatches.com
The debut timepiece from Neopolitan watch brand Tolentino ticks all the boxes you’d want from a professional-level diving watch. The rugged case has 200m water resistance; the rotating diving bezel has an ultra-hard ceramic insert, and the screw caseback and safety clasp combination means you don’t need to worry about a worst-case scenario. The fact that it’s also a looker, with its contrasting minute marker and, in this case, high-contrast blue bezel, means you’re not just buying it for the specs. Though at this price point, it’s tempting for those alone.
• 40mm stainless steel case with 200m water resistance
• Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement with 41-hour power reserve
• €990 (approx. £865), tolentinowatches.com
NEUCARL Sept Mai Berlin Edition
Designed to echo the colourful vibrancy of the German capital, the Berlin Edition of Neucarl’s seminal Sept Mai has all the architectural touches and curvaceous, tactile case that’s made the brand’s debut such a success. A combination of deep black, white and electric blue makes for a bright, eye-catching design in more ways than one. Finished on a canvas strap with blue contrast stitching and backed by a workhorse Swiss movement, it’s a retrofuturistic classic in the making.
• 41mm stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
• Swiss manual-wind movement with 42-hour power reserve
• £878, neucarl.com
FRONT — microbrand guide
Deep Marine Explorer III
Any watch that can head down to 3,000m deep is a pretty serious piece of kit that’s usually made from huge chunks of intimidating steel without a hint of frill. But 3,000m water resistance in bicolour? Now that’s a lot more fun. Don’t worry, US-based Oceaneva have opted for plating rather than solid gold, so it has all the practicality and accessibility of steel, just with the kind of aesthetic quirk that defines the boat-to-boat-club vibe. It’s built like a tank, looks like a sports car, and dives like a submarine. Oh and it’ll set you back a lot, lot less than a Submariner.
• 42mm stainless steel case with 3,000m water resistance
• Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement with a 38-hour power reserve
• $1,099 (approx. £890), oceaneva.com
The Players Edition SPORT
With an extraordinary heritage and strict limited editions, on paper Olivier Meylan look like a serious prestige brand. And while they certainly have some historical cache, it’s tempered by a far more accessible price tag than you might expect. Take the Players Edition SPORT. A dark, monochrome watch with all the industrial stylings of a sports luxe icon – visible screws, an integrated bracelet – and a black marble dial, it’s a seriously solid piece. Backed by the chronometric accessibility of an ETA movement, it’s a lot of watch.
• 42mm stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
• Swiss ETA movement with 38hour power reserve
• £899, limited to 25 pieces, oliviermeylan.com
FRONT — m under £1,000
It’s built like a tank, looks like a sports car, and dives like a submarine
MOELS & CO 528 Silky Rose
With enough mid-century flair to fill a ‘best of the 1960s’ playlist, Möels & Co’s signature, broad TV-shaped design is a statement piece without the price tag. There’s a good reason it won gold at the A’ Design Award & Competition. In this particular case, the lines branding from the middle of the off-centre layout are set on a background of perfectly retro burnt orange dial with a horizontal satin brush. There’s nothing else like it built during the past decade at least, and the 528 is hard not to love.
• 45mm x 33mm stainless steel case with 100m water resistance
• Sellita SW200-1 b calibre automatic movement with 38-hour power reserve
• £946, moelsandco.com
Dumoreau is a California-based microbrand established as a creative outlet for award winning architect and product designer, Carlo Aiello. It’s a passion project in every sense and that really shows in the classic aesthetic of the DM02. It features a 39mm round case in stainless steel that contains a dial with a concentric circle pattern design. It’s inspired by the natural flow of life and is evocative of Japanese zen gardens. While Dumoreau is American, they work closely with brands across Europe, such as Roventa-Henex and Matteo Torre to ensure quality production of the watch and its strap.
• 39mm stainless steel case with 100m water resistance
• Sellita SW210-1 automatic movement with 42-hour power reserve
• $1,250 (approx. £1,010), dumoreau.com
Did you think we could make it through a microbrand guide without a tachymeter-equipped racing chronograph? For shame. At least in this instance the Tangerine, Depancel’s follow-up to last year’s successful Allure, is a winner. With a big eye layout and blood orange details, it’s an intensely modern, aesthetically technical timepiece backed by a customised ETA movement. As racy as a hot lap around the Baku Street Circuit, you’ll need to be just as quick to nab one of the ultra-limited 100 pieces available.
• 43mm stainless steel case with 100m water resistance
• ETA 7753 calibre automatic movement with 48-hour power reserve
• €1,695 (approx. £1,500), limited to 100 pieces, depancel.com
130 FRONT — microbrand guide
There’s nothing else like it built during the past decade at least, and the 528 is hard not to love
Ocean Seacrest Preto e Bronze
Following on from their debut, explorer themed seafaring timepiece, the latest edition of Escudo’s luxuriously handsome diver is this time in partnership with ambassador Jose Fonte - and has serious Tudor vibes. The rugged, bi-colour steel and bronze construction paired with the brand’s signature details (their compass point indexes being a highlight) it’s way more accessible than it looks. Or feels, for that matter.
• 39mm stainless steel case with 200m water resistance
• Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement with 38-hour reserve
• £1,600, escudo-watches.com
As the name suggests, R Paige take their Art Deco inspirations very seriously. Not only is the dial of their new Wrocket a gorgeously appropriate mix of black guilloche and brushed rose gold, but the case it’s set in is all ready to join the champagne laced party with intricately stepped lugs. High in contrast, high in style and high in roaring 20s glamour, it’s just a shame it’s limited to just 10 pieces.
• 44mm stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
• DB-6 calibre manual wind movement with 168-hour power reserve
• $1,750 (approx. £1,415), limited to 10 pieces, rpaigewatch.com
FRONT — m under £2,000
Wrocket Deco Black
• 38mm stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
• Artel calibre AR068 automatic movement with 50-hour power reserve
• $1,950 (approx. £1,620), artelrotec.com
ARTEL ROTEC Sky Series
Fresh off the back of their V Series success, Artel Rotec are bringing a touch of pared-back elegance to the usually sporty tonneau case shape. With a smaller, 38mm size and stainless steel replacing their previous Richard Mille-esque carbon composite, the models are complete with a trio of dials. There’s an emerald green version with Arabic numerals, all very classical, and a pair in black and silver with simpler arrow indexes. Beautiful as the green is, our choice would be the monochromatic silver number. It’s sporty, streamlined and sophisticated – not an easy balance to strike.
DWISS M3W Wandering Hours
While it may have its genesis in the early days of horology, wandering hours as a display is synonymous with haute horology, be that Urwerk or Audemars Piguet. DWISS on the other hand are bringing the complication to the masses with the M3W. The trio of rotating satellites with which to read the time off the scale at 12 o’clock float on top of a skeletonised dial to show off the various wheels underneath. It’s a visually intense amount of watchmaking, especially in this crisp, white version with a rubber strap, for a less-than-intense price.
• 41mm stainless steel case with 30m water resistance
• Soprod M100 automatic movement with a 40-hour power reserve
• CHF 2,300 (approx. £2,050), limited to 40 pieces, oligowatches.com
• 42mm stainless steel case with 200m water resistance
• Sellita SW-200 automatic movement with 38-hour power reserve
• $1,990 (approx. £1,650), dwiss.com
There’s streamlined, there’s minimal, then there’s Oligo, a brand whose singular timepiece is so stripped back, the hands aren’t even attached. As a mystery watch, we’re assuming the hands are suspended on sapphire crystal discs, with bright chrome hands over a fantastic azure dial. Honestly, we’ve not seen a microbrand release like it. It also happens to be eco-friendly, with the watch built entirely in French Switzerland with recycled steel, while the packaging is made in Geneva and the vegan straps in Italy via a collaboration with ColaReb. It’s at the top end of the microbrand market in price, but fortunately it’s up there in just about every other facet as well.
132 FRONT — microbrand guide
• 41mm stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
• La Joux-Perret calibre L112 automatic movement with 42h power reserve
• €2,995 (approx. £2,600), limited to 577 pieces, vondoren.no
Not just one of the best microbrand releases of the year, the petrol-blooded Il Tempo is among the best chronographs, full stop. The new watch is a 1970s-flavoured racing chronograph inspired by Norwegian stop motion film, The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix. If you’ve not heard of it, don’t worry, until now neither had we. The watch is defined by an impressively proportioned case in a colourful, quirky take on a retro racing stopwatch, pared back for daily wear. Equipped with an engine from La Joux-Perret, you’ll need to keep your engines warm to snag one of the under-600 pieces.
RP 01 Titanium
Italy and dive watches go hand-in-hand, from the early days of Panerai to the host of Florentine-flavoured beaters that followed in their wake, most of whom have left. Unlike many of the others though, Paradisi isn’t just Italian in style, but backs up that heritage with a full grade five titanium case and 1,000m water resistance. It’s not small at 44mm of industrially machined, intensely utilitarian metal, yet pared back in the way that only a solid tool watch can be.
• 44mm titanium case with 1,000m water resistance
• ETA 2824-2 calibre automatic movement with 38-hour power reserve
• From €3,200 (approx. £2,800), paradisiwatches.com
Il Tempo Gigante Automatisk Kronograf
FRONT — m under £8,000
FRONT — m under £8,000
Watch MooN Werewolf Limited Edition
Microbrands are generally synonymous with hands-off, third-party built accessibility, but Saxon-based Schaumburg have something to say –howl, maybe – about that. The horror-themed timepiece has been entirely hand-engraved which, given the monstrous scene completed with a bat-silhouetted blood moon and golden eyes, is pretty damn impressive. Packed with a modified Sellita, it’s also a good deal more accessible than you’d expect from a metiers d’art limited edition. It might be a long time until Halloween, but Shaumburg’s is still a tempting bit of wrist candy.
• 43mm stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
• SW-11 automatic movement with
• €8,900 (approx. £7,800), Limited to 25 pieces, schaumburgwatch.com
> >There is one major caveat with buying a microbrand watch: servicing. While many use the same third-party movements, by their very nature many a micro is just too small to easily turnaround a watch for repair in good time, which can be a bit frustrating. You don’t want to be without your funky statement watch or casual beater for long.
That’s where Horologium come in. Founded by Raphael Pfund and Raquel Palmieri in 2020, the UK-based workshop has made a name for itself in everything from servicing and repairs to assembly and restoration. They also happen to regularly work with microbrands (check out Studio Underd0g). So, whether you have a colourful impulse buy in need of a service, or your taste of accessible haute
Find out more at horologium.uk
It’s a good deal more accessible than you’d expect from a metiers d’art limited edition
EDITED BY MICHAEL SONSINO
RESTAURANT &BAR NEWS
2023 is still young but there have already been a handful of notable restaurant openings in London and there are more on the cards in the coming months. Now, then, is the perfect time to find your new favourite eatery and maybe set aside that diet that we all know was more of a suggestion than a resolution.
12 St George Street, Mayfair, W1S 2FB
Protégé of Michelin star chef Endo Kazutoshi, Miller Prada has debuted his first solo project Humo in Mayfair. The word humo translates to smoke in Spanish, a reference to their focus on wood-fired cooking with a four metre robata grill. However, while the name is Spanish, the food has a Japanese twist with Ike-Jime trout from Hampshire, marinated and smoked in juniper, seared with white Ubame Oak, topped with six month aged Baerii Caviar and grilled, wrapped in kombu kelp. Find out more at humolondon.com
136 > >> >> >
CULTURE — food & drink
The Now Building, Denmark St, Soho, WC2H 0LA
Nestled near Tottanham Court Road station, Cavo is a new Mediterranean restaurant and rooftop bar above the Now Building that’s bringing classic food into the centre of trendy, modern London. As befits the Mediterranean vibe of the menu, it features an extensive range of seafood and fish, transporting sun-drenched flavour to the capital. A highlight is the alfresco rooftop bar area, which provides hand-crafted cocktails and a picturesque view of the London skyline. Book now at cavorestaurant.com
As befits the Mediterranean menu, it features an extensive range of seafood and fish, transporting sundrenched flavour to the capital
Battersea Power Station Shopping Centre, SW11 8AL
The new Battersea Power Station shopping centre is one of the most exciting developments in recent months, not least because there are plenty of watch shops housed inside. However, in addition, there are a number of dining venues including the new restaurant Joia from two Michelin-starred chef Henrique Sá Pessoa, which opens this month. The menu is inspired by a fusion of British and Iberian cuisine, with dishes such as scallops with black garlic sabayon and braised Iberian pork cheek. Opens in February, keep up to date at joiabattersea.co.uk
137 CULTURE — food & drink
86 Brewer Street, Soho, W1F 9UB
Nessa is a new bistro opening in Soho in March. It will feature an extensive menu of classic British dishes given a distinctive bistro twist. Steak tartare, brioche with black pudding, and ox cheek hot pot are just some examples of the food on offer. Plus, there’s a wine and cocktail list perfect for evening and post-work drinks with lounge seating. If you prefer a more informal approach to fine dining, Nessa could well be the spot for you, especially in lively Soho.
Stay up to date at nessasoho.com
↑ CANTINETTA ANTINORI
4 Harriet Street, Knightsbridge, SW1X 9JR
The name Cantinetta Antinori might be familiar to some, it’s one of the premier Tuscan restaurants operated by famous Italian wine family, the Antinoris. In March, the family Antinori is opening their first London restaurant in Knightbridge, bringing with them their classic Italian menu and extensive wine list. You can’t get a pairing more perfect than a wine that was made in the same region as the food on the menu.
Follow news of the opening on Instagram @cantinettaantinori_london
CULTURE — food & drink
You can’t get a pairing more perfect than a wine that was made in the same region as the food on the menu
Drury House, 34-43 Russell Street, Covent Garden, WC2B 5HA
Penelope’s is a new Spanish-Israeli fusion restaurant in Covent Garden. It’s housed within the boutique four-star hotel Amano, making it the site of their monthly Isramani parties, which are described as a dancing-on-tables celebrations with plenty of food and music. Just make sure that if you do get up on the table, don’t step in the tapas or Penelope’s signature baklava. If you’re looking for a dinner party venue, you know where to go.
Book a table at amanogroup.de
43 Chiltern Street, Marylebone, W1U 6LS
Mayha proves again, if more proof were needed, that Japanese food is so popular at the higher end of dining that chefs from all over the world are beginning to specialise in it. Mayha, nestled among the tailors’ shops of Chiltern Street, is ostensibly Lebanese, however its central concept is the Japanese tradition of Omakase. Omakase is a style of dining where the chef is in complete control of the menu with an emphasis on seasonal tasting menus.
Learn more at mayhalondon.com
CULTURE — food & drink
Just make sure that if you do get up on the table, don’t step in the tapas or Penelope’s signature baklava
Words: Sam Kessler
A SOUND INVESTMENT
WE LISTEN TO THE ALL-IN-ONE STREAMING MASTERPIECE FROM ITALIAN AUDIO SPECIALISTS SONUS FABER
Speak to most old school audiophiles and they’ll wax lyrical about their set-ups, all the way from the speakers to the preamp right down to the cables that connect the whole thing. It’s a lot. And definitely worth it if you’re into super fine-tuning your system. But when you can get sound as phenomenal as that produced by the Sonus Faber at the press of a button, it’s hard not to choose the lazy option.
140 sound investment
A quick rundown then. The Omnia –Latin for ‘prepared in all things’ – is Sonus Faber’s big, all-in-one loudspeaker system that connects wirelessly to whatever digital player you have to hand, whether that’s your in-home streaming set-up or your phone. These types of things are designed more for ease of use than pinnacle clarity, but it’s hard to find just where that supposedly inevitable compromise is within the Omnia.
Stopwatch (or in our case chronograph) set, it took under a minute to get music playing on the Omnia. It took longer to slide it out of the box. You just plug it in, hit start and connect. There’s no downloading some proprietary app, no dodgy Bluetooth, just seamless, instant connectivity. Even your Amazon Echo needs more effort put into it.
Fortunately, there’s no lack of effort from Sonus Faber themselves. Obviously, the Omnia is a beauty, channelling the Italian audio specialist’s signature Stradivarius-adjacent design ethos into a broader, flatter construction than their standing speakers. Granted, it looks a little like a high-end balance board or a set of scales you’d find at a modern five star hotel, but it’s still handsome in the extreme, especially when compared to its competition.
That’s not all that’s typically Sonus Faber about it either. The combination of seven different speakers – two of which are on the sides – and an inhouse signal processing tech fittingly dubbed Crescendo make for startlingly natural sound. It’s not up there with what you can do in a fully kitted out listening room, but it has no business offering this kind of clarity in this small a package. The soundstage is also punching above its weight.
The Omnia promises 360-degree sound and while that’s a bit of a stretch, it’s certainly broad enough that there’s no perfect spot to listen from. You definitely get the best experience with plenty of breathing space around the speaker, though there is a ‘near the wall’ option, if one that’s a bit awkward to get to. Volume-wise, even turned up to its raucous highest, there was, at least to
our relatively untrained ears, no distortion. It’s basically everything we love about the maker distilled into a much more accessible piece of equipment. It’s the perfect Sonus Faber for a studio flat.
The three lines of light on the top of the Omnia have two functions. Firstly, the panel is used to control all the settings in a minimal, tactile way. I can’t say I ever really used it though – the remote felt distinctly un-luxury, but I just found it more convenient – so the second function was simply an easy-tounderstand visualisation of what’s going on. It’s a hell of a lot nicer to look at than a load of numbers. It even changes colour according to input, with the shortest line at the front indicating input, with orange for HDMI, green for Spotify, et al. As the various functions suggest, it’s a seriously versatile piece of kit. Not only is there an MM input so you can connect a turntable, but it can sit under a TV and double as a soundbar. We got hands-on with the graphite version of the Ominia, which although housing the exact same technology as the walnut option, has a completely different aesthetic. It’s less classically Sonus Faber sans luxury wood, but the cleaner, high contrast look is a lot more minimally modern, and the curvaceous
shape still more than holds up. It perhaps wasn’t best suited to our converted barn of an office, but for a glossy apartment there would be nothing better.
Honestly, we didn’t have nearly enough time with the Omnia. And we probably wouldn’t unless one of us took it home and blamed it on the postal strikes. So, we only really trialled it on Spotify, Amazon Music, and Air Play, but it supports pretty much everything other than Tidal’s Masters or Atmos. All of them are used through their own apps, without some custom, third-party Sonus Faber mess getting in the way. I love this. God knows my phone has enough random apps on it without another, and it means there’s no need to get used to yet another interface.
Prepared for all things is right. Even in a market increasingly dominated by all-in-one systems from some of the biggest names in audio, the Omnia is a seriously impressive contender. Less than a minute to one of the best wireless listening experiences around makes it all the harder to go back to the usual tangle of cables. I’d say its inspiration to zen my life a bit, but I know better than that. The Sonus Faber Omnia is priced at £1,599. Find your nearest retailer at sonusfaber.com
Available in walnut and the minimally modern graphite version featured, the Ominia’s seven speakers and in-house signal processing tech make for startlingly natural sound that will fill any room
The Omnia is a beauty, channelling the Italian audio specialist’s signature Stradivarius-adjacent design ethos into a broader, flatter construction than their standing speakers
ALL-IN-ONE STREAMING ALTERNATIVES
When there’s a world of possibilities at your fingertips, you’ll want a wireless device that does your music justice
NAIM MU-SO 2
The first Mu-so was one of the first success stories in all-in-one streaming speakers from the audiophile big boys, and the second generation amps up the ante. Its neat, compact appearance is at odds with the rich sound it can produce, and while it’s more expensive than the older version, it’s worth every penny. The system can stream online or offline with both wireless and Bluetooth connectivity, and an HDMI ARC socket for a wired connection, which are all controllable through Naim’s multi-room functional app. Consider this a sequel more in line with Empire Strikes Back than Speed 2. £1,299, naimaudio.com
Retro to a charming fault, the Ruark R5 is an aesthetic blast from the past in the best possible way, a modern equivalent of the post-war radiograms your parents probably grew up with. Not only does it have an integrated CD player, but it has a detachable DAB-FM antenna and a mechanical feeling dial to operate. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s outdated though. It supports most streaming services, including Tidal, Deezer, and Amazon Music, and offers excellent sound across the board with a pair of full-range drivers and an integrated subwoofer. It’s neo-retro streaming at its finest.
BOWERS & WILKINS ZEPPELIN
One of the most visually arresting pieces of audio equipment on the market, the B&W Zeppelin looks ready to take off. With built in Alexa functionality it’s one massive upgrade to your Echo Dot – and massive is right. It’s a heifer, but one whose unique shape makes sense from an audiophile standpoint, too. Tweeters are positioned at either end, with midrange nearer the middle, creating a crisp soundstage. It’s not as fantastic to listen to as other all-in-one wireless speakers, but it’s also not the most expensive, making it the sculptural value-for-money option.
142 alt streaming
Its neat, compact appearance is at odds with the rich sound it can produce
UNSUNG VINTAGE HERO: THE LIP NAUTIC-SKI
A giant of watchmaking in a bygone era, Lip produced one of the most cutting-edge divers in the world, which is unfathomably overlooked today
CULTURE — unsung heroes
CULTURE — unsung heroes
The original Nautic-Ski (above) was only available with a glossy black dial and futuristic, funky elongated indexes, but the re-issue (left) opted for a safer aesthetic and automatic movement
Surprising as it might be if you’re only aware of the modern Lip, but at one point they were one of the biggest horological players in the world. Not only were they the largest watchmaker in France, they were one of the only ones with a presence outside the country, not to mention oldest – they were founded way back in 1867. They were also responsible for one of the biggest innovations in watchmaking. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves there.
Of all Lip’s many, many collectible pieces from their heyday in the late 1960s and early 70s, there’s one that stands head and shoulders above the rest: the Nautic-Ski. While it shares a few aesthetic quirks with other similar timepieces of the era, it had a lot more going for it than you might get from a glance.
Before we get onto the watch itself, we have to talk about the first electric movement ever designed, the R27. Yes, the first was produced by Lip. Using electromagnets for regulation, it was a technical marvel… with some major caveats. It worked, but Lip’s own batteries had a worrying propensity for exploding and even when they switched to third party versions, the resulting movement was awkward, expensive, and limiting.
After an arms war with the Hamilton calibre 500 over the next few years, Bulova released the tuning-fork Accutron in 1960 and put both of them to bed. And so, Lip took another run at things and a scant handful of years later, produced the movement that has come to define them: the R148.
Like their previous attempt, the R148 is an electro-mechanical movement, where a classical balance is pushed by a pair of electromagnets. Every time the balance is pushed, it makes contact, creates a circuit and
sets off another push. But, not only was the new movement more reliable than the R27, it only needed one battery, beat at 18,000 bph and had a hacking seconds function. All in all, it was a serious upgrade, ready to rival Bulova.
So, what were Lip to do with this new movement? Well, with their 100-year anniversary in 1967, Lip wanted something to really show off what they could do, combining sportiness with their cutting-edge electronic movement – which brings us to the Nautic-Ski.
The name was an on-the-nose amalgamation of nautical and ski, the former due to its obvious underwater credentials and 200m water resistance; the latter to capitalise on the 1968 winter Olympics in France. It’s not subtle, but it works. More importantly however, it was both the first diver to use an electronic movement (the aforementioned R27) and the first 200m capable diver with a rotating inner bezel. Paired with a super compressor case courtesy of Ervin Piquerez S.A, it used pressure to ensure an ever more airtight seal and create what at the time was arguably the most cuttingedge diver in the world.
Originally, the Nautic-Ski was only available with a glossy black dial, a pared back, utilitarian vibe in keeping with its tool watch specs, but with funky elongated indexes and numerals for a fittingly futuristic flair.
To this day, the original is still the most collectible Nautic-Ski model, but it’s certainly not the only one. Fellow countryman and fashion designer Pierre Cardin urged Lip to offer more dial variations and colours, including a snazzy purple, among others. Needless to say, it became Lip’s core model on the more serious side of watchmaking, though their fashion watches like the De Baschmakoff cuff timepiece had their places.
Now, in 2015 the modern Lip decided to capitalise on the Nautic-Ski legacy with a re-issue. Aesthetically it looked similar in the general super compressor way, with its two crowns and rotating inner bezel. But all of them have automatic movements, which from our perspective completely misses the point of what made the original Nautic-Ski so special.
If that doesn’t matter to you (not to be a snob but it should) then you can get a modern Nautic-Ski for €500. Otherwise, you can get one of the initial run pieces, complete with the legendary R27 movement for between £500 and £700. For one of the coolest watches from an era of incredible timepieces, that’s about as unsung as you can get.
CULTURE — lip nautic-ski
The original is still the most collectible Nautic-Ski, but it’s certainly not the only one. Fellow countryman and fashion designer Pierre Cardin urged Lip to offer more dial variations and colours, including a snazzy purple
EDITED BY SAM KESSLER
A WATCH INFUSING ARCHITECTURE WITH HOROLOGY, HERITAGE AND CREATIVITY COMBINE IN A SWISS CENTENNIAL, AND TWO FINNISH ICONS CREATE A CAPSULE COLLECTION
Downsizing the design codes of architecture onto the canvas of a watch
Famed architect Frank Gehry once said, “architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness”. It’s either fitting or ironic then – depending on how you look at it – that a passion for architecture directly led to the creation of one of the most exciting watch microbrands of the moment, Neucarl.
The thing is, watches were never the primary passion of Francois Carlier, founder of Neucarl. Sure, he’s always had an appreciation for good design, but when it comes down to it (or up to it, in the case of a high-rise), his aesthetic inclinations were always around architecture.
It makes sense. Good design shapes all of our lives, but architecture shapes our very landscape. What’s London without its iconic skyline? How many Art Deco aficionados have been inspired by New York’s Chrysler building? Even airports have something to lend to the mix – but we’re getting ahead of ourselves there.
And so it was that Carlier spent his spare time between entrepreneurial projects sketching houses, gardens, furniture, gradually moving from grand imagined projects to ever smaller canvases. It was a logical progression then that took him to watches. Planning a huge complex is one thing; designing across the 40mm of a watch dial is something entirely more demanding.
These initial watch sketches weren’t just idle daydreaming either. On 7th May 2015, Carlier set out for himself and founded Neucarl, an amalgamation of the German word for New and his second name. In essence, the watch brand was the start of his new life. Nearly eight years and a pandemic later, it’s good for him then that the project is still going strong.
A large part of that success is thanks to where the design concept came from. Carlier sketched out his first designs in a vacuum, completely away from other watch brands. Rather than being penned in by the standard archetypes – your Submariners, Tanks, various breeds of Nautilus derivation – he began with a blank canvas. Indeed, the only concrete (in more ways than one) inspiration behind the fittingly named Sept Mai (French for 7th May) was the TWA terminal at New York’s JFK airport.
Designed by Eero Saarinen, the flight centre is defined by its gargantuan wing-shaped roof, supported by four y-shaped piers. It no longer operates as a terminal (it’s now a hotel) but remains a historic landmark. It’s also the direct inspiration for the case of the Sept Mai, which pays tribute to
Taking its cues from architecture and created away from the bubble of stereotypical watch design, the case of the Sept Mai was inspired by a terminal at New York’s JFK airport, while the Model 2 takes inspiration from the work of the late Zaha Hadid
the building’s striking retrofuturistic style.
There’s also something distinctly organic about the shape of both the TWA’s wing and the resultant case of the Sept Mai. However, when it comes to sweeping curves and organic lines, no architect in history has done it better than the tour de force that is the late, great Zaha Hadid. It’s fitting then that Neucarl’s second collection – the equally fittingly-named Model 2 – takes inspiration from her work.
Not to be confused with the anOrdain Model 2 –dubbed Project 360 for a reason we’ll get on to – the neu Neucarl is still in the prototyping phase, so we may need to return to it once it actually launches by the end of next month. For now though, it looks like a marked step up for the budding watch brand.
Pairing a curvaceous take on the kind of sports luxe look we’ve come to associate with the Bulgari Octo, the multi-layered case is married with a circular guilloche dial, ringed by a solid block of lume. The result is something between a watch and an architectural installation, all wrapped up in grade 2 titanium across both 40mm case and bracelet.
Together with the Sept Mai, the Model 2 illustrates Neucarl’s distinct approach to design, one that encompasses not just the tenets of watchmaking, but the design codes of architecture and the aesthetics that define everything around us. As Zaha Hadid herself once said, “There are 360 degrees, so why stick to one?” Find out more at neucarl.com
IN FOCUS — neucarl
IN FOCUS — milus
The heritage and creativity of the fiercely independent Swiss centennial
Independence is freedom. I don’t mean that in any grandiose life lesson way – no splitting with your partner because of a little article in a watch magazine. But when it comes to watchmakers, its easy to get bogged down by your LVMHs, Richemonts, and Swatch Groups, to think that every major brand out there is part of some multi-headed luxury hydra with about as much freedom as your pinky has from your thumb. It’s something that often comes up in watch discourse, with the general vibe that creativity gets stymied by board meetings, the cutting edge dulled by inter-brand politics.
On the other hand, ‘independent watchmaking’ tends to evoke two distinct poles: on the one hand you have the unobtainable grail pieces from F.P. Journe, Philippe Dufour, et al. Think low volume masterpieces from horological auteurs. On the other you have a raft of microbrands, entrepreneurial start-ups with wildly varying levels of quality, style, and sanity. Somewhere in the middle of all that you have Milus, an accessible heritage brand in the middle of a modern renaissance.
Founded in 1919 by Paul William Junod, Milus was a giant of early 20th century watchmaking. With pieces like the elegant Snow Star, a timepiece that saved lives as part of an Air Force barter kit, they cut their teeth building watches that ran the gamut between refined elegance and more minimal Bauhaus design. It was enough for them to be considered one of the most influential Swiss watchmakers of the 20th century.
Yet independence isn’t just about freedom of creativity, but agility, too. Brands that have one owner, one person making most of the decisions – in Milus’ case, the Junod family – can take a bad situation and turn it into an opportunity. So it was when the quartz crisis hit in the 1970s. Rather than try to fight the tide and lose like far too many watchmakers did, Milus went with the current (literally). In 1972 with two other watchmakers, they built the first electronic watch with a liquid crystal display.
They also went white label, building watches for Aston Martin, Georg Jensen, and Mario Botta among others. Sure, they weren’t as spectacular as watches produced in the British car maker’s current partnership with Girard-Perregaux, but it’s a testament to how well-respected Milus watches were. Aston Martin aren’t known for compromised quality.
In the years since, Milus’ presence as a big player diminished slightly, but they instead staked a claim as a serious cult watchmaker. Even throughout the 80s, the Junod family was still at the helm and it
showed. Their Bauhaus approach made them a favourite among creative circles, winning prizes for the originality of pieces like the revolutionary Far Side model in 1992.
After a brief stint under the stewardship of foreign investors – though still as an independent watchmaker, of course – the modern renaissance for Milus began in 2016 when they became family owned once again. Just not by the Junods. Instead, it was another family with serious watchmaking pedigree: the Tissots. Yes, that Tissot.
Since then, the Tissot family has been holding a mirror up to Milus, reflecting on some of their most iconic historical models, the timepieces that aren’t just darlings among vintage collectors, but showcase the brand’s consistent spirit of innovation. There’s the incredibly successful modern reinterpretation of the Snow Star; the Archimède, a successor to Milus’ Super Compressor divers from the 70s and the LAB 01, a watch that embodies all the frenetic creativity of the 90s.
Today, Milus stands apart. They’re one of the few brands today that not only has an extraordinary watchmaking heritage dating back over a century, but retains an unprecedented level of independence. For collectors they offer some serious quality and deft aesthetics based on their century of heritage, while at the same time remaining an accessible player in the watch world.
Over the years, Milus have been defined by their independence. It hasn’t just allowed them to survive and thrive where other brands have failed; it’s allowed them to find that perfect middle ground between prestige and accessibility. They may be in the middle of a renaissance, but there’s plenty more yet to come.
Find out more at milus.com
IN FOCUS — milus
Occupying the perfect middle ground between prestige and accessibility, Milus have undergone a modern renaissance following its purchase by the Tissot family, resulting in the incredibly successful modern reinterpretation of the Snow Star (left) to cement its status as a watchmaker of both heritage and independence
152 IN FOCUS — leijona
The legendary Finnish brand returns with a serious capsule collection by Kari
Leijona is the watch brand of Finland. It’s a big statement for sure – how can one watchmaker define an entire country? But not only are they the largest timepiece brand in the country, they’ve been making watches specifically for the Finns for well over a century. Indeed, Leijona’s very logo, a lion with a shield, is a symbol of Finnish independence, an animal that today can be found on the country’s National Coat of Arms. Leijona timepieces have been with them from the notorious Winter War to the 1995 Men’s Ice Hockey World Championships in Stockholm. To say they’re inextricably linked with Finland isn’t hyperbole; it’s fact.
Needless to say, Leijona timepieces have graced the wrists of some of Finland’s greatest exports, though it has to be said that in recent years their watchmaking isn’t quite what it was in their heyday. Well-made yet accessible watches are their breadand-butter, with sports pieces like the Järwi coasting around the Euro 300 mark. But there’s one Finnish export dedicated to hammering home just what the Leijona name stands for: Kari Voutilainen.
The independent watchmaking maestro’s very first timepiece was a Leijona diver and, while it’s distinctive tool watch look is a world away from the kind of ornate finishing he’s synonymous with, it evidently had an effect on Voutilainen – so much so, in fact, that he’s gone right back to the source with a collaborative capsule collection.
Don’t worry about the sort of intense, haute horology price tags and unavailability of Voutilainen’s usual work; while the trio of timepieces in the collection aren’t cheap, they are definitely more on the accessible side. Indeed, there are some similarities here with what Hajime Asaoka achieved with Kuorono Tokyo, channelling the exceptional skill of a master watchmaker into something more everyday. Yet where Asaoka’s focus was on his home country of Japan, here the emphasis is instead of Leijona’s own heritage.
The Four watches in question are the Heritage 1907 Jalo Sport, Urho Chrono, Oiva Classic and, closest to Voutilainen’s heart, the Försti Diver.
The Jalo Sport is chronologically the first, with design language taken from the 1960s. It’s a simple,
elegant, cushion cased watch with fittingly sporty overtones, especially in the sunburst grey version. It’s made for ruggedness and legibility, with a silhouette inspired by the Val-de-Travers valley in which Leijona watches have traditionally been built. It’s gorgeous.
Next is the Urho Chrono, which perhaps not unexpectedly channels 70s racing culture. The retro bi-compax layout, mushroom pushers and perforated strap, with the incredibly detailed case, with its combination of vertically and horizontally cut surfaces, hand-finished at Voutilainen & Cattin SA. It’s a masterclass in how to make a refined yet racy chronograph.
The Oiva Classic is, as the name suggests, a more minimal, streamlined dress watch where most of the action – in keeping with Voutilainen’s modus operandi – is on the dial. Based on Leijona models from the 50s, it’s as timeless as they come, especially in the white-dialled version.
Finally, there’s the Försti Diver. While it might look every bit the classic diver of the 60s, it’s actually more directly inspired by the 70s and 80s, in particular the quartz divers Leijona made at the time – which just so happen to be almost identical to Kari Voutilainen’s own watch in the red and black bezelled version.
Aside from the Leijona heritage and their names (each is named after a key figure of Perkko, the company behind the Leijona name), what links these four pieces? As you’d expect from anything Voutilainen has worked on, it’s all in the details. From the stepped cases of the Urho to the silhouette of the Jalo to the dials of the Försti –which despite being in line with a diver’s tool watch vibe, we made in-house by Kari Voutilainen’s own Comblémine SA – they represent archetypal heritage designs but with the thought and attention to detail they deserve.
To ensure accessibility without compromising on chronometric performance, all four use workhorse Sellita movements, nicely finished and, on the Urho Chrono, visible through a sapphire caseback. It worked too; the Försti diver comes in at Euro 4,490 and the Urho Chrono at just under Euro 5,000, with the more streamlined Jalo almost half that. Perhaps more importantly, the use of Sellita movements makes sure that they are easy to service and repair thanks to the sheer unbiquity of the third-party movement.
Leijona is a name that’s been around for well over a century now, a watch brand that has not only been the de facto national watch of Finland during that time, but has used the opportunity to inspire one of the greatest watchmakers of the generation. It’s fitting then that it’s Kari Voutilainen that has given Leijona just the horological shot in the arm it needs. Find out more at leijonawatches.com
IN FOCUS — leijona
The Finnish powerhouse pairing of Kari Voutilainen and Leijona have joined forces for a collaborative capsule collection that channels the exceptional skill of a master watchmaker into something more everyday and financially accessible
SCHAUMBURG –STEAMPUNK RE-CREATION
Sometimes you just want a watch to be bonkers and by bonkers, we mean Schaumburg. They’re a German watchmaker who specialise in extreme watches on both technical and visual levels, from werewolf themed moonphases to this, the Steampunk Re-Creation. It’s technically a skeleton watch with the SW-07.1 automatic movement serving as the dial, it’s been browned by hand using heating to give it a worn appearance. The calibre has a 46-hour power reserve and it’s housed in a 42mm case. €1,860 (approx. £1,625), available at schaumburgwatch.com
DAY & NIGHT – XERXES
Day & Night believe in pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and putting in the work to get to where you want to go in life. That’s why their collection of watches bear the names of iconic leaders from history such as Xerxes, Thutmoses and more, it’s all about aspiration. Which is also why their watches are inspired by one of the most famous watch designs of all time, created by Gerald Genta. Specifically, the Xerxes has a 42mm stainless steel case with a chunky octagonal bezel, which surrounds a striking black and white dial. It houses a Miyota quartz movement. $179 (approx. £145), available from dayandnightwatches.com
MÖELS & CO. – 528
The Möels & Co. 528 is an award winning watch for good reason. Designed by 21-year-old Betina Menescal, it features an unusual TV-shaped case design in stainless steel with an asymmetrical display inspired by the golden ratio. It rides the line between dress and sports watch thanks to its refined aesthetic, influenced by mid-century design and surprisingly robust 100m water resistance and large 45mm x 33mm proportions. Ultimately, that makes it ideal for virtually all occasions. It’s powered by the Sellita SW200-1 movement. £946, available from moelsandco.com
BWG BAVARIAN WATCH – ISARIA
BWG Bavarian Watch are a German watchmaking brand that create watches inspired by the dual personality of Bavaria. On the one hand you have grand, soaring castles with Romantic designs and on the other, you have the bustling, city of Munich. As such, BWG watches tread a line between luxurious design and practical utility, both of which are exemplified in the new Isaria model with its 42.2mm case with 200m water resistance and bold facetted design. The name and colourway options are inspired by the river Isar, which flows through Munich. €555 for first 50 buyers, €1,555 standard price (approx. £490/£1,375), pre-order at bavarian-watch.com
Tolentino – Undici/11
While Tolentino was founded in Italy, near Naples, they are committed to producing accessible Swiss Made diving watches for all occasions. Their flagship Undici/11 certainly lives up to that expectation. It has a 40mm stainless steel case with 200m water resistance and features a classic dive watch aesthetic, right down to the unidirectional rotating bezel. Importantly, the bezel features a ceramic insert, a high tech material that’s uncommon among microbrands. It’s powered by the Sellita SW200-1 automatic calibre. €999 (approx. £885), available from tolentinowatches.com
WHAT’S ON OUR SHOPPING LIST AND WHY 156 watches
Temporal Goods –Watch Stand
The Watch Stand by Temporal Goods is a highly modern and industrial piece of design, as well as being the perfect place to store your watch on display. It consists of a 100% wool pad supported by a carbon fibre and stainless steel base that securely holds your watch. Its understated simplicity means it comes with a lifetime warranty, guaranteeing that you’ll have a place to keep you watch safe from one generation to the next.
£125, available from temporalgoods.com
WATCH & STRAP – THE BERLIN
Watch & Strap was founded in 2019 to fill a gap in the luxury watch accessories market. Specifically, a range of luxury straps that are suitable for every kind of watch from an entry level Seiko to the finest Patek Philippe. This is The Berlin: Cracked Burgundy Padded Leather Watch Strap, it has a rich red tone that becomes more apparent as the leather is stretched, giving it a strong vintage, worn in aesthetic. Every strap is designed by a passionate expert and the result shows, as each has a wealth of five-star reviews.
£22.99, available from watchandstrap.co.uk
Forshaw Leather – Rembordé Straps
Based in the north of England, Forshaw Leather produce handcrafts watch straps following the Rembordé style. Rembordé translates to ‘rolled edge’, a reference to the production technique that ensures there are no painted or raw edges, creating a super finish. Forshaw also use carved leather in the core of each strap, a unique method that creates a stronger, more durable strap. They’re available in black, nut brown, Havanah brown, and tan. £135, available from forshawleather.com
BARRINGTON – SINGLE BLACK WATCH WINDER
Barrington are a British brand specialising in watch winders, aiming to bridge the gap between accessibility and high end performance and design. Having studied the best winders on the market, they created the Single Watch Winder, with the depth and box aesthetic of high end models without the concurrent price tag. Operating with super quiet Japanese Mabuchi motors, they’re unobtrusive, practical and beautiful.
£175, available from barringtonwatchwinders.com
JEAN PAUL MENICUCCI –VINTAGE LEATHER STRAP
Jean Pail Menicucci started in the leather trade designing and creating high end custom belts, although they have since expanded to the watch industry. Today, they produce all manner of watch accessories ranging from custom watch boxes, cases and straps. Due to their focus on vintage materials and hand production, every product is unique. Pictured is the Powder Fiore leather strap with handmade side rough stitches. Learn more at jeanpaulmenicucci.com
157 watch accessories
VIVVANT – BRION BROWN PATINA CHELSEA BOOTS
The Brion Brown Patona Chelsea Boots from Vivvant are a classic. They’re hand-crafted in their atelier in Florence. The cap-toe’s perforated details give them a classical look, while the heavy rubber sole provides contemporary features, aged with a patina finish that makes the look well loved. The triple V leather stitch on the back represents the triple V in the Vivvant brand name. The perfect fusion of British-inspired design and Italian execution.
£335, available at vivvant.co.uk
Any sneaker head will be familiar with the desire to buy new shoes and the fear of actually wearing them. It’s inevitable that after being worn for an extended period, signs of wear and tear will appear, especially in vulnerable areas such as the heel. Enter the Vyn Classics, a pair of luxury sneakers with replaceable heels that enable you to repair the shoes yourself. Plus, it also allows you to swap designs to rep your own personal style.
£375, available from vyn.one
BUDD SHIRTS - HERRINGBONE WOOL SAFARI SHIRT BLUE
Budd’s safari shirts have been an iconic part of the London brand’s collections for over a decade. However, safaris aren’t always warm and so for this winter season, they’ve introduced a winter version into the mix. The herringbone wool cloth is woven in England by the Holland & Sherry mill and the cut and quality are exceptional. It features a cool blue colouration and touts four button-up pockets making it as practical as it is stylish.
£895, available from buddshirts.co.uk
Acqua di Parma – Lilly of the Valley Love Letter
February is the season of love and Valentine’s Day is here. To celebrate, Acqua di Parma have launched a special edition of their Lily of the Valley fragrance. It features dual tones of Lily of the Valley and zesty citrus notes, evoking scenes of Italian hillsides, the home of Venus. It comes with special packaging including a paper charm and a love note hidden behind a golden wax seal. Making the entire fragrance bottle part of your personal love letter.
£212, available from acquadiparma.com
ISTO – CASHMERE SWEATER
ISTO are a Portuguese fashion label committed to transparent fashion, which means they can trace the materials used in their clothing back to source. For example, their signature cashmere sweater is crafted from cashmere produced by the iconic Cariaggi factory in Italy, which use the finest fibres from Mongolian mountain goats. The sweater itself is beautifully understated and soft, featuring ribbed cuffs and neckline as well as being available in brown, navy blue and dark grey.
£265, available from isto.pt
Dyson – Zone Headphones
Dyson have announced a new headphone concept called the Dyson Zone. These hybrid headphones are part sound system, part air purification device. Through their numerous projects, Dyson have developed an expertise in noise cancellation technology and have turned that wealth of knowledge towards audio. Built into the structure of the headphones is a removable visor that directs purified air towards your nose and mouth. Keep up to date at dyson.co.uk
Kreafunk – aBOOM+
With a name that sounds like an underground wave of disco music, Kreafunk is a Danish audio brand that specialise in portable and wireless sound systems. Unfortunately, while busting down to some Kreafunk music sounds fun, the name is actually a combination of the Danish words for ‘creative’ and ‘functional’, two concepts the brand embodies well. The aBOOM+ is their largest Bluetooth speaker with a 20-hour run time and splashproof design.
€249.95 (approx. £220), available from kreafunk.com
SONOS – SUB MINI
Sonos have introduced the Sub Mini, delivering a rich low end sound without taking up too much space below your TV or sound system. It has a sleek cylindrical design with inward facing speakers that cancels out distortion and interference. Plus, with Trueplay tuning technology it will actively adapt to the acoustics of its surroundings, and with wireless connectivity, those surroundings can be virtually anywhere. £429, available from sonos.com
BOOM BOCS – STUDIO
In this era of retro nostalgia, the Boom Bocs Studio scratches your 80s itch perfectly. It’s inspired by the aesthetics of vintage boom boxes with fresh colours and a clean shape. However, operating via wi-fi or Bluetooth it has all the utility of a modern device, compatible with a variety of streaming services including Spotify, Deezer, and Amazon Music. With a 12 to 15-hour battery life, it’s perfect for supplying atmosphere to sunny picnics, poolside barbeques and more.
£129.99, available from boombocs.com
DELIVITA –WOOD FIRE PIZZA OVEN
The DeliVita pizza oven is designed to be easy to use and small enough to be portable while still cooking you perfect artisanal pizzas. Weighing just 30kg, each oven is hand crafted from a clay composite in Yorkshire, inspired by traditional Italian ovens. There are also multiple colours available, ranging from chilli red to very black, with emerald, orange, and purple in between. Wood-fired pizza anywhere you want? Sounds like a dream.
£1,395-£2,495, available from delivita.com
by MICHAEL SONSINO
Knives Out: Glass Onion
As is always the case when a new whodunnit emerges, people have been pouring over every frame of Knives Out: Glass Onion to uncover the smallest hints and tiniest easter eggs that have been laced throughout the film. Of course, when I watched the movie, I was less
concerned with dissecting the (somewhat obvious) clues and more interested in the wristwatches sported by the characters and I was not disappointed.
The premise of Glass Onion is relatively simple, an Agatha Christie classic in many ways, sees a group of mega-rich influencers and politicians isolated on a remote island ready to
backstab each other. Daniel Craig’s southern detective, Benoit Blanc, must then peel back the layers of the proverbial onion to uncover that the killer was in fact the person we suspected all along.
On Benoit’s wrist is the Omega Seamaster 1948 Co-Axial Master Chronometer Petite Seconde 38mm. It’s a gorgeous timepiece with a classy round case in vintage proportions housing a domed opaline dial. While it may feature the Seamaster name, it’s a far cry from the Omega dive watches that Craig is famous for wearing in his Bond days. Bond might be the gentleman spy, but Benoit Blanc is a gentleman of a different breed, with all the southern charm that entails.
Second is the watch worn by Kathryn Hahn, who plays corrupt politician Claire Debella. Claire’s watch of choice is the Cartier Tank Francaise in stainless steel with bracelet. This is an incredibly savvy choice, the Tank Francaise balances femininity with a bold profile brilliantly thanks to the thick lines of its case and 25mm x 20mm sizing. Plus, the dial is classic Cartier with Roman numerals and a strong Art Deco aesthetic. It correlates to Claire’s serious office as a politician and hints at the underhand dealings she’s involved in that led her to a party island in the middle of a political crisis.
Lastly, we have Duke Cody, a men’s influencer and Twitch streamer in the same vein as Andrew Tate, as played by Dave Bautista. Duke’s character is all about the illusion of masculinity, he’s big, he’s buff, he has a hot girlfriend, he likes video games and cars. Oh and guns. He REALLY likes guns. Duke’s watch is another element of his ultra-masculine façade, a Panerai Submersible in polished goldtech. With a large 42mm diameter cushion case, it’s the kind of watch that dwarfs small wrists, giving it a reputation for being a “manly” watch.
Of the three watches, the one I’d most like in my collection is the Omega Seamaster 1948 and honestly, it’s not even a close contest. A limited edition, retro Omega with a master chronometer, antimagnetic movement with 55-hour power reserve is a thing of beauty.
160 END — watches out
“The dial is classic Cartier with Roman numerals and a strong Art Deco aesthetic”