Several years ago the mandate at Tudor was “up your game boys, Rolex wants to offer the world’s best watch from about $2,000-$5,000” (which of course is just under the starting price of a new Rolex.) So the historic brand Tudor was re-shaped and refocused into what is perhaps the best value in Swiss watches today, given what you get in regard to style and quality. The Ranger is a new three-hand watch that in my opinion is a less expensive Rolex Explorer I, but that is in many ways more appealing. It is a military style field watch with a slick design, awesomely made 42mm wide case and a dial that is both legible and highly attractive. Tudor offers the Ranger both on a steel metal bracelet and range of strap options including this fabric camo strap. With a vintage inspired design and tool-like feel, there is almost nothing better for the money. The Tudor Rangerstarts at $2,825.
It is both an evolution and a revival, but there is something about a modern Pepsi bezel GMT-Master II that feels great. Rolex continues to show off its ability to mass-produce extremely high-quality sophisticated ceramic parts with a new ceramic bezel that is half blue and half red. This takes the modernization of historic designs full circle to the newest iteration of the GMT-Master II. The up and down of it is the 18k white gold case. For better or worse, Rolex made this iconic sport watch an exclusive luxury item because of its non-steel price. It is perhaps the least blingy high-end luxury watch of 2014 priced at around $40,000 (36,500 Swiss Francs).
For me it is difficult to get sold on a “complicated looking” dress watch. That doesn’t mean it is actually complicated per se, but rather that a company takes a more traditional case that is not a sport watch and puts an intricate movement inside that merely shows the time (and perhaps a bit more). Maurice Lacroix’s new Masterpiece Gravity combines a slick modern look with a sophisticated openworked dial that is designed to show off the entirely in-house made movement. Maurice Lacroix even produces some of the more difficult to manufacture parts such as the silicon elements as well as the metal hairspring. That is all nice and good, but at the end of the day this beautiful to look at automatic mechanical movement and timepiece mix together well in a watch for movement lovers with taste. Priced at around $13,000.
Rather than being a new limited edition release each couple of years, Chopard has made the Monaco Historique collection a new permanent family of watches. Black and yellow mark 2014 with a collection of Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Chrono watches that include a three-hander, power reserve indicator, and of course chronograph. The collection uses a new titanium case that is wonderfully polished and the race inspired dial details are gorgeous. A new element are the matte black hands and hour markers that make everything important on the face just pop. The mix of quality, composure, and sheer beauty make this a rare race-inspired men’s watch one can easily wear on a daily basis. Price for the Chrono version of the Chopard Monaco Historique is $7,640.
OK, so Omega had a lot of really nice new watches for 2014, making one difficult to choose. However, in terms of mixing price, design, and wearing desire it was hard not to choose the new Speedmaster Mark II. As an unabashedly “new vintage” watch, Omega took the historic Omega Speedmaster Mark II case design and concept and produced a brand new collection from modern materials with a modern movement. It is literally like giving people born a few decades too late a chance to enjoy what was one of the most iconic sport chronograph watches of all time. The Mark II has a lovely tonneau case that, when mixed with the tool-watch dial, makes for functional item that is no doubt still very beautiful. It also happens to have a very nice mechanical automatic movement with a Co-Axial escapement, silicon parts, and is a COSC certified Chronometer. All this for a price of $6,250 makes it a hard proposition to beat.
Armin Strom One Week Skeleton
It was a very good idea for Armin Strom to decide to combine its skill for making movements and decorating them into a single watch. Before the boutique watch maker began producing in-house movements it took sourced movements and skeletonized and engraved them. With the new for 2014 One Week Skeleton they decided to give their decorative treatment to one of their own movements for the first time. The in-house made manually wound caliber has a full seven days of power reserve PLUS a power reserve indicator, which makes it good in my books. According to Armin Strom, the movement takes about 10 days to engrave and decorate by hand alone. Most importantly, the result is breathtakingly beautiful. I literally cannot stop taking my eyes off of this engraved and open-worked golden beauty. While it isn’t cheap, the price of $49,900 feels extremely fair for what you get.
One of the big pieces of news from British Bremont is their partnership with Boeing. The aviation watch brand is (among other things) producing an aviation watch in collaboration with the major plane producer. At first this will include a three-hand watch as well as this Boeing Model 247 Chronograph. It will come with either a black or white dial, and I happen to really like white-dialed sport watches. Interestingly enough, Bremont promises to produce the watches out of a unique steel alloy made by Boeing called 465 steel that is harder and more resistant than 316L steel. A titanium version will come later, also with an exclusive industrial alloy for aviation. The chronograph version is legible and attractive, and contains a thin rotating bezel with a sapphire crystal overlay.Price is $6,750.
Allow us to reiterate Zenith USA’s disclaimer that this watch is not available in the United States. That is because it is a boutique-only edition and Zenith’s upcoming first store in the USA hasn’t opened yet. Zenith clearly doesn’t realize many or most of the aBlogtoWatch readers are international. Anyhow, this particular version of the Captain collection watch was very satisfying, and really summed up some of the reasons we like the brand. First of all it is clear and composed with perfectly sized hands. Are you a watch designer and don’t know how long the hands on your watch should be? Well then look at this Captain Central Seconds Boutique Edition timepiece for a hint. Like a little clock on the wrist, the clean dial has applied Arabic numerals and a symmetrically placed date window. The generously polished steel case is modestly-sized and relatively thing for containing an in-house made Zenith automatic Elite family movement. It may be simple, but this Captain Central Seconds watch is extremely satisfying and prices at 5,200 Swiss Francs.
As one of the first watches to contain the new, totally in-house made and designed caliber CH 80 automatic chronograph watch movements, the Carrera CH 80 is a timepiece based on the history of the Carrera as an icon. Adding a bit of red color gives the historically-inspired dial a connection with the TAG Heuer of today. Nevertheless, the 41mm wide polished steel case and clean dial make for a wonderful reminder of the Carrera’s humble beginnings. TAG Heuer will produce this new version of the Carrera with either a black or white dial and contrasting chronograph subdials. The tri-compax layout of the new 80 hour power reserve movement makes it a strong contender across the competitive landscape and the design and quality are what people want to expect from the brand. Price is about $5,500.
For years Zenith dominated the higher-end chronograph market with the famous El Primero running at a stable 5Hz while most other chronograph movements were running at 4Hz. For 2014 Manufacture Blancpain releases what I am sure the Swatch Group is trying to push as their answer to the El Primero with the lovely new caliber F385 automatic chronograph that also operates at 5Hz. It exists as a chronograph with a flyback complication as is very welcome in the group’s family. The first watch to include the movement is the new chronograph version of the Blancpain Bathyscaphe. Now in steel and ceramic, the Liquidmetal hour markers and sharp dial make for a handsome and eminently legible timepiece. I felt that the three-hand version was a bit empty, Blancpain resolves that with a fantastic new version that hits home on a range of levels. The chronograph pushers even work safely down to 300 meters under water. Here in steel it comes on either a canvas strap or steel metal bracelet with a price starting at 13,800 Swiss Francs ($14,800