The idea was to beat the Japanese at their own game, and in that, the Beta 21 nearly succeeded. It was one of the most hyper-accurate movements ever created, losing mere seconds in the single digits over the course of a year. During a series of tests in 1967, the Beta 21 set records with an accuracy of 0.003 seconds per day, leaving the chronometers of the moment in the timekeeping dust. It also appeared quite attractive for a quartz calibre. Despite its electronic foundation, the Beta 21 (and its brother, the Beta 22) were intentionally finished with traditional Swiss elegance - something Seiko, Citizen et al hadn't quite mastered at that point. In its seven year commercial existence between 1970 and 1977, the Beta 21 really proved itself as a crucial pivot of modern horology. It became the foundation for Rolex's still wildly underrated Oysterquartz, and arguably paved the way for future innovations like Seiko's Spring Drive movement.
Welcome back to an aBlogtoWatch original series, where we discuss important stores that sell watches all over the world. Each store we profile has an interesting story to tell about where they operate and who they sell to. Whether you buy watches from brick and mortar retailers or prefer to buy watches online, these are the stores that help shape our watch culture around the globe. There is a long list of stores to cover, but if there is a retail location in your favorite city that we simply can’t miss, let us know in the comments below.
Where to buy watches in Austin, Texas?
So with the pedigree of the new Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Time Ref. 5524 firmly established, let us now take a closer look at the watch. Unlike most pilot watches, the Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524 has a dark navy blue dial with grained finishing, and also matching blue hours and minute hands. The hands for the second timezone is skeletonized. The large arabic numerals are applied white gold markers, filled with SuperLuminova, as are the hours and minutes hands - the hand for the second timezone is not. At 6 o’clock is a large date subdial, and flanking it are apertures that serve as day/night indicators for the two timezones. The layout is very sensible and legible.
Jacob & Co. has a nice long history working with the Swiss movement maker Concepto, but it is another firm they worked with for the movement of the Astronomia. For this collection Jacob & Co. worked with Studio7h38 in Switzerland who is responsible for the wild-looking mechanical movement inside of the Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon. Look closely at it, and the mechanism is deeply impressive, but it isn’t finished like a Greubel Forsey. Well, nothing is really finished like that, so it isn’t a fair comparison. The movement is a tiny industrial mechanical mechanism, and I don’t even know how to describe its complications. Let’s start with the triple axis tourbillon that exists as one of the four arms on the movement.
Moving down to the MB&F Melchior's torso, you see discs used to indicate the minutes and hours. This is where you'll be primarily looking if you are interesting in using the MB&F Melchior to read the time. Look further down to the robot's pelvic region, and you'll see a power reserve indicator. The L’Epée-produced mechanical movement has a total power reserve of 40 days - which is a nice long time, so it is good that the clock comes with an attached winding key.
Welcome to the light-powered T-Touch, with the newer Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar. I've had a love affair with the Tissot T-Touch for well over a decade now (it originally came out back in 1999). Very few modern watches have remained as cool for as long. The T-Touch is easily the most popular type of Tissot you'll see on people's wrists, and many watch lovers have or have had at least one. When the Tissot T-Touch originally came out, it was difficult not to be mesmerized by its sapphire crystal touch screen. Offering similar functionality as Casio's popular Pathfinder (now Pro Trek) collection of outdoors/hiking watches with their "ABC" functionality (altimeter, barometer, compass), the Tissot T-Touch offered the same, with a slick analog/digital dial, with hands that repositioned themselves in order to show the various functions along with the digital screen.
The F.P. Journe Chronometre Souverain watch in 18k red gold with the "CS Traditional Dial" is priced at ,000. In platinum, it would be ,600. With the new gold dial, the F.P. Journe Chronometre Souverain in 18k red gold is ,200 and ,800 in platinum. fpjourne.com
The watch will communicate with the Touch Zero One app running on your phone – chances are that we are talking about both Android and iOS phones, acting as a fitness tracker which, in this case, happens to be designed with a focus not just on sports in general, but beach volleyball specifically.
So what’s so special about the TAG Heuer Monaco V4 Phantom? We are glad you asked. You see, the carbon fiber used in the TAG Heuer Monaco V4 Phantom is a special kind called Carbon Matrix Composite (CMC), and not only is the case made out of this new material, but the seven bridges of its movement are made using CMC too. CMC is formed using a special technique where carbon fibers are placed in a certain direction in the mould and micro-blasted to give it an orderly elegant look that TAG Heuer calls “matte black vertical brushed.” This is obvious if one looks closely at the movement bridges that form the dial. The choice of material is not just for looks; by using carbon fiber for all the main components, the TAG Heuer Monaco V4 Phantom is also light. Furthermore, the extensive use of carbon fiber also encapsulates the essence of this watch very nicely as it was inspired by motor-racing and engines.
I've tried to understand the source of the "Souverain" name, and from what I recall, it is a term that Francois-Paul himself simply liked and also liked how it sounded. With that said, the Souverain collection is inspired by 19th century pocket watches in wrist watch form, with F.P. Journe's own sense of style. The reason this model is called the Chronometre Souverain is because it is apparently inspired by old marine chronometer clocks whose purpose was to be accurate. F.P. Journe is sort of obsessed with accuracy (a trait I really hope most watchmakers harbor), and the in-house made calibre 1304 is one of many of his attempts at creating a very reliable and accurate mechanical movement.
Let's start with the movement. Omega decided to fit the Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M Co-Axial Master Chronometer with the same caliber 8900 family movement as found in the also new for 2015 Omega Globemaster Co-Axial Master Chronometer (hands-on here). This movement is essentially the same as the 8500 family of in-house made Omega movements that existed in the 2007 Seamaster Ploprof 1200M, but contains the anti-magnetic technology of what was previously known as "Master Co-Axial." It also employs Omega's new certification scheme, where movements are first sent to COSC for Chronometer certification, are cased at Omega, and then go through an additional and more stringent testing regimen. Accuracy for Co-Axial Master Chronometer watches is said to average -0, + 5 seconds per day.
Originally incorporated under the name "Waterloo," the city of Austin, Texas, has been a place of change since its origin in the 1830s. State capital? High-tech center? Live music capital? Austin is many things to many people these days. As a spread-out metropolitan area, you don't find a concentration of watch stores in a single area like you do in New York City (or Waikiki in Honolulu, for that matter). So you have to embark on a "search and enjoy" mission to find watch retailers such as Jack Ryan Fine Jewelry + Timepieces, which opened the doors to their intimate watch boutique in West Lake Hills in 2012.
aBlogtoWatch: What types of watches are popular in your market? What makes Austin a unique place to buy watches?
Grand Seiko 62GS collection technical specifications from Grand Seiko
It was delightful (and potentially expensive for enthusiasts like me) surprise to learn that Omega will soon release a brand new, new Seamaster Ploprof 1200M watch for 2015. It was 2007 that Omega released the last "new" Seamaster Ploprof 1200M based on the cult-favorite vintage diver watch from 1970. For 2015, we get the interesting and welcome update to the 2007 Seamaster Ploprof 1200M with the Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M Co-Axial Master Chronometer.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 01 fits into at least part of that – and my feeling is that it answers the question Mr. Biver has been asked for a long time, “can you built a less expensive Big Bang?” Like it or not, that is what I can surmise is part of the near-term future direction of TAG Heuer. So what exactly did Jean-Claude Biver do at Hublot that was so successful? Two major things, in my opinion. First was to create news that allowed a lot of people around the world (interested in watches or not) to be aware of the brand, and second was to create visually fascinating and masculine watches that got people excited about contemporary luxury watch design. Again, not all of this has gained Mr. Biver praise from the traditional watch industry, but his success speaks for itself.
What Seiko Kinetic watches lack is the ability to be "hand-wound." Meaning that the only way to generate power is by wearing them and moving them around. The major addition in Kinetic Direct Drive is the ability to turn the crown and generate power to charge the battery manually. With that comes a cool power reserve indicator that doubles as a real-time charge gauge, showing you how much power you are generating along a linear scale. It isn't necessary, per se, but it is cool to see in real time that your crown spinning is doing something. When you stop spinning the crown, the hand shows you how much power is now in the battery. Seiko Kinetic Direct Drive movements have a maximum power reserve of about a month.
ABTW: Do you serve mostly locals or tourists, or is it a good mix? Also, what percentage of your customers would you call "knowledgeable watch collectors?"
For 2015, Panerai has a few interesting new watches, but my favorite is the Panerai Radiomir Firenze 3 Days Acciaio 47mm aka PAM00604 (PAM604). This is really a watch for collectors, and Panerai has made especially sure that the PAM604 very much fits into Panerai lore, being available for sale exclusively in the brand's flagship boutique store in Florence, Italy, or Firenze in Italian - the city where the Panerai brand started. Hence the name of the watch "Radiomir Firenze."
Over on the dial-side of the H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Perpetual Calendar is where things get a bit more interesting. I liked calling the watch the "stealth perpetual calendar" because very few people knew that the watch even had this complication. One of the best features of the dial design is that it simply doesn't look like a busy perpetual calendar watch. At a glance, you would be forgiven for believing that the dial only had the time with subsidiary seconds, date window, and power reserve indicator.