Studio Ghibli x Seiko Presage Nausicaä of the Valley of The Wind

It’s no exaggeration to say that Seiko could publish a very large and handsome nature guide book of its home country.

A small selection of the things the celebrated Japanese watchmaker says have inspired the colours and textures of its dials. They are: birch trees; cherry blossom; the autumn moonlight; ‘a refreshing warm breeze’; wisteria; ‘the Ibaraki prefecture’s abundance of natural splendour’; the Mishakaike Pond; a sea of clouds; the Japanese chrysanthemum; winter snow; ‘a plum tree that resembles a dragon lying on the ground’ and the active volcano of Mount Iwate.

Last month it launched two new Grand Seiko designs. One was the ‘Sakura-Kakushi’, 'inspired by snow falling on pink cherry blossoms during Shunbun [the Spring equinox]'. The other is the ‘Sakura-Wakaba’, 'inspired by the fresh young leaves of the season that follows'.

You get the idea. Seiko loves nature.

It's fitting, then. That Seiko collaborated with Studio Ghibli, the animation studio, whose films nature plays a significant and recurring role. From the environmental themes of 1997’s Princess Mononoke to the lush landscapes and enchanting forests of 1988’s My Neighbor Totoro to the entire premise of 2001’s Spirited Away—that spirits and entities control the natural world.

Earlier this month Seiko released its third collaboration with the garlanded animation house, the excellent Studio Ghibli x Seiko Presage Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind—inspired by the 1984 film of the same name, whose subtext was the importance of our harmonious coexistence with the outdoors.

Studio Ghibli x Seiko Presage Nausicaä of the Valley of The Wind

Mr Takuya Matsumoto, Seiko’s designer and the creator of the watch, talked us through the new collab.

Esquire: Is there a particular customer your Studio Ghibli collaborations appeal to?

Mr Takuya Matsumoto: I believe the new creation will excite fans enchanted by Studio Ghibli films as it perfectly captures the worldview of the Nausicaä movie. I also think that watch fans who appreciate the combination of fine mechanical watchmaking and Japanese craftwork, for which the Presage collection is renowned. The pure blue enamel dial has been made possible through the skill of master craftsman Mitsuru Yokosawa, and his team.

ESQ: Seiko is often inspired by Japan's natural environment. That's also a theme of Studio Ghibli. Does this make the two a good match?

MTM: Indeed, the film covers an important theme of how the natural world and humans coexist. However, the Presage collection collaborated with Studio Ghibli because, since the collection's introduction in 2016, it has introduced many watches that combine fine mechanical watchmaking with various forms of Japanese art, such as Shippo enamel and Arita porcelain. Studio Ghibli perfectly represents a contemporary form of Japanese artistry. The studio and its works have been an excellent match for these collaborations. The first, with 1992’s Porco Rosso. And the second, with 1986’s Castle In The Sky.

ESQ: What do you like most about this new design?

MTM: The enamel dial’s blue colour. During discussions with Studio Ghibli, we came up with the idea of capturing Nausicaä's blue outfit. The enamel craftsman worked to develop a new shade of blue just for this watch. Blue is crucial to the film and for Nausicaä, as expressed by the line, ‘Clothed in blue robes, descending onto a golden field'. As the watch's designer, I am delighted that the outfit's colour is reproduced perfectly. Enamel is a material that does not fade easily, so its beauty will be enjoyed for a long time.

Originally published on Esquire UK

At the intersection of music, sports and time-manufacturing is Tissot's PRX Damian Lillard Special Edition. Sports fans are familiar with the Milwaukee Bucks point guard. And in the music sphere, he spits rhymes as Dame D.O.L.L.A. In his collaboration with Tissot, the PRX Damian Lillard Special Edition brings back the sleek lines and bold look of its predecessor, the PRX Powermatic 80. But this isn't a copy. It's so much more thanks to the nuances that tell Lillard's story.

It's a 40mm PVD gold model with automatic movement. The date is displayed with a beveled applied window. Super-LumiNova baton indices and repeated "0s" adorn the black dial. (The "0" is Lillard's jersey number but it is also an "O". This letter represents Lillard's formative years in Oakland, Odgen and Oregon. A stylised monogrammed "D" is etched on the seconds hand. Taking up the quadrants of the flange are the echoes of his triumphs. "DAME" and "TIME", his nickname, each take up a quadrant, respectively; "DDKK", is an homage to him and his family—Damian himself; Damian, his son; his daughters, Kali and Kalii. The final quadrant is "YKWTII"—“You Know What Time It Is”—which referenced "Dame Time"; the moments when Lillard makes big shots in the clutch.

Underneath is a opened mineral glass caseback that showcases the Powermatic 80 calibre. This little engine of precision has an 80-hour power reserve and Nivachron anti-magnetic balance hairsprings for enhanced reliability There's an image of Lillard The gold-PVD single-link bracelet reveals brushed surfaces and is secured with a quick-release spring bars, it can be switched out for a rubber or leather strap.

It is a beautiful gold timepiece. One that is a lovely tribute to Lillard, especially when in telling time, you are reminded that is "Dame Time". If not now, then somewhere else.

HUBLOT

One watch brand not short on out-there ideas is Hublot.

Despite closing in on its 45th birthday, it is still regarded as the enfant terrible of the luxury watchmaking biz*. With its Big Bang series, it skilfully blends all kinds of weird and wonderful materials including ceramic, cermet, Kevlar, tungsten, magnesium and rubber into shamelessly hench watches beloved of millionaires and sportsmen, and especially millionaire sportsmen.

It’s MP** series is the place to see its nuttiest creations. For example, 2013’s MP-02 Key of Time came with a one-off mechanism that allowed the wearer to adjust the time to four times faster or four times slower than the rate of actual time passing (Why? It was something to do with being able to control time, the true luxury of our age…).

While 2011’s MP-08 Antikythera Sun Moon paid tribute to the ancient Greek hand-powered model of the solar system, sometimes called the oldest-known example of an analogue computer. Looks-wise these creations have veered heavily towards the steampunk, and they tend to be wildly impractical for actually telling the time.

Hublot just unveiled the latest in the series—the MP-10 Tourbillon Weight Energy System Titanium, a timepiece every bit as unwieldy as its name. (It doesn’t have a dial or hands. You wind it using a pair of tiny sliding white gold weights.)

You’ve got to love that the MP series exists. It’s so barmy you wouldn’t be totally surprised if Hublot announced it had all been dreamed up by a computer squirrelling away in a Swiss bunker while the rest of the company got on with selling its (comparatively) normal watches.

We mention this because Ricardo Guadalupe, Hublot’s CEO, told Esquire he’d recently given the idea of an AI-generated watch some credence.

HUBLOT

“It happened three weeks ago,” he said. “We tried to use it in design. We did some experiments. I must say—amazing results.”

If Hublot was to introduce an AI-designed watch, would it make a virtue of it? Or would it hide behind it?

“I don’t know,” Guadalupe said. “It came up with ideas where it incorporated some complications from other brands, where we can see it was inspired by a [avant-garde independent brand] Grubel Forsey, for example. But really—the results were ‘wow!’ Because if you ask a designer in the company to do that, it will cost you a fortune! And that was for free! And it showed me 10 or 12 products.”

Happily for the human designers, many were only possible in theory.

“Some of them would be impossible to make. One was a kind of a tourbillon / minute repeater with an equation of time [complication]—a Big Bang. They put the screws in a different way. This one was impossible to realise. But it’s really interesting. Because even if it’s impossible, it can give you an idea, you know? It was inspirational. I was really surprised.”

If not Hublot, some brand will surely come up with an AI-designed watch, and soon. On Wednesday, the womenswear designer Norma Kamali announced she was teaching an AI system to replicate her design style—"downloading my brain”, she called it—so that when the day comes for her to retire, she won’t have to worry about a successor—a computer will simply carry on with her ideas.

Obviously this is all fairly terrifying and awful for anyone involved in the creative industries in any way at all. But it does make you wonder if a Hans Wilsdorf ‘designed’ Rolex from beyond the grave would make it any more authentic. Or quite what the ghost-in-the-machine of Omega’s founder Louis Brandt would have made of the 21 plastic MoonSwatches currently stealing the limelight from the brand’s more luxurious creations. Quite possibly he’d be spinning in his grave. Under a full Moon.

*Not least by itself.

**It stands for 'masterpiece'.

Originally published on Esquire UK

Check out the gadroons on the Piaget Polo 79

There are things that are too good to not to repeat. The Piaget Polo is one of them. Remember the '80s... or at least, how people describe the '80s? Bold colours, birth of pop culture, MTV... it was a vibrant time where Swiss watchmaker, Yves Piaget noticed the shifting change of his clients.

He saw sports becoming commonplace and decided to follow the rabbit and create a a sport line, one that combines elegance with sporty sophistication. Thus the Piaget Polo and 45 years later, in the same year, when the House celebrates its 150th anniversary, we see the return of the improved model, now called the Piaget Polo 79.

Originally crafted to withstand the rigours of the polo field by day and later for the nightlife, the primary version was one with the bracelet integrated into the case; with the engraved horizontal lines—gadroons. The latest iteration is a faithful tribute to its predecessor, this time as an 18K gold watch (case, bracelet, dial and so-on) that weighs close to 200g. The finish is nice to the touch and the watch measures at 38mm wide and 7.45mm thick. But beneath its opulent exterior is an in-house self-winding 1200P1 calibre to replace the quartz calibre.

The Piaget Polo 79 inner qualities

Using a micro-rotor, it has 44 hours of power reserve, the Polo 79's dial is clean. "Piaget" sits at 12 o'clock and the brushed gold hands are enough to tell time. And really, the Piaget Polo 79 in its simple glory is more than enough.

Recognised for its expertise and the quality of its products, Rolex stays true to the notion of perpetual excellence instilled by its founder, Hans Wilsdorf. This led to a slew of watchmaking innovations. Such as the Perpetual 1908, a masterpiece that’s inspired by the iconic Oyster Perpetual from 1931.

With its legacy ever in the rear-view mirror, the 1908 is a testimony of historic codes with ground-breaking watchmaking innovations. “1908” is the given name of the model. It's an homage to the year Wilsdorf devised the name “Rolex” to sign his creations and registered the brand in Switzerland. It is also a promise of unparalleled performance. Imagine the Oyster Perpetual timepiece but in a slimmer, sleeker design that’s replete with the brand’s signature style.

Crafted in 18k yellow or white gold, the slim case aggrandises a transparent back; a window into its beating heart—the movement finishings within. The innovative calibre 7140 is what powers the watch. A brand-new self-winding movement that is meticulously developed and manufactured by the Swiss Manufacture’s engineers. With two centre hands and a small seconds display, the calibre 7140 is a pinnacle of innovation, backed by five patent applications.

The Perpetual 1908 caseback reveals the calibre 7140 movement.

Caged within the sleek watch case is the essence of Rolex’s engineering prowess: the innovation of the oscillator, the Chronergy escapement, the Syloxi hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers, just to name a few. The 1908 offers a substantial power reserve. Approximately 66 hours of chronometric performance (–2/+2 seconds per day) to keep it ticking without worry of pause.

Distinct Arabic numerals 3, 9 and 12, along with a small seconds subdial at six o’clock beautifully reinterprets the 1931 Oyster Perpetual style. It paints the timepiece in a contemporary allure.

The 1908 is fitted on an alligator strap that comes in either matte brown or matte black. This elegant strap with a green calfskin lining and tone-on-tone stitching, is individually tailored for the new watch. It is equipped with a Dualclasp, a double folding clasp, in 18 ct yellow or white gold. Thanks to its carefully designed shape, the Dualclasp always sits centred on the wrist.

The double folding dualclasp.

The 1908 is a timepiece, yes. But it is also a milestone, a testament of a brand’s storied mastery and its perpetual quest for excellence. 

Antony Lindsay, CEO of Fabergé

On a warm afternoon in the middle of nowhere, Antony Lindsay, the newly-appointed CEO of Fabergé sits before us as the ice in a glass next to an unopened can of Coke, tinkles as it melts. As the CEO of a storied brand like Fabergé, Lindsay’s task is to spread the word (and work) of the Romanov’s favourite jewellery house. With Sincere Watch Limited as its official retailer in Singapore, Fabergé continues to make its presence known. And yes, Fabergé is synonymous with the gem-encrusted eggs but the house has other achievements like jewelled boxes; animals carved out of precious stones and other ornamental objects.

In 2007, the brand underwent a revival. Taking inspiration from its storied past, Fabergé created original pieces like the Vissionnaire watches, where a Chronograph model displays two time zones at once, and the Altruist line, which has a clean and simple-to-read dial, with a crown that’s reminiscent of winding up a traditional clock. The collection that secured Fabergé’s footing in the hard jewellery world is the Compliquée models, which won the 2015 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève award.

As water pool at the bottom of the glass, Lindsay talks to us. About his history, where Fabergé is at and the future.

ESQUIRE: Did Sean Gilbertson (Fabergé’s last CEO) leave you with any wisdom when you took over?

ANTONY LINDSAY: [laughs] There’s been many over the years. I’ve known Sean, coming up to almost 14 years, and we shared some moments, both good and challenging. Nothing springs to mind... except for this Winston Churchill quote, “If you ever find yourself going through hell, keep walking.”

ESQ: What’s your journey been like?

AL: I come from a family of jewellers and had an interest in gemmology at a young age. I’ve been neurolinguistically programmed to appreciate jewellery, timepieces and objets d’art just by hanging out at my dad’s atelier on the weekends. I’d look at the gemstones handled by the craftspeople. I have an appreciation for hard luxury and completed my apprenticeship as a bench jeweller. I’m proud of having played such an important role within Fabergé for about 14 years. I’ve worn different hats as well. Proud when I was appointed MD and was invited to join the board of Gemfields UK Limited. As well as becoming CEO this year.

I feel privileged and fortunate to be part of a team to write the next chapter of one of the most celebrated names in luxury. I see that as an honour. It’s the revival of the coloured gemstones on one hand and it’s also the revival of Fabergé on the other. It’s what keeps us very busy.

ESQ: What sets Fabergé apart from the rest of your competition?

AL: I’d say that Fabergé’s reputation for unrivalled craftsmanship and design is globally recognised. I’d say Fabergé’s diverse use of techniques like the guilloché enamel with the use of hard stone or visible setting. In keeping with tradition, we seek to work with the finest ateliers. Because we don’t have our own workshop, we seek out workmasters all around the world. That’s quite unique to us.

ESQ: Speaking of tradition, how do you maintain that heritage while courting the newer generation?

AL: That’s a good question. It’s important to us that we pay homage and recognise what was done in the past. We draw inspiration from Peter Carl Fabergé, whether that be through his philosophies, values or craftsmanship. To apply it in a modern and contemporary and relevant way; we like to consider ourselves as a forward-thinking brand.

ESQ: How did your partnership with Sincere come about?

AL: I’d say that we are actively looking to partner with the finest retailers in existence. We don’t profess to understand every market on the planet. So, we believe that by partnering with the best of the best, who understands how to represent a brand like Fabergé; and how to offer first-class customer service... that’s very important to us. Sincere Watch Group is the perfect fit for Fabergé and we’re delighted that they are representing us here in Singapore and soon in other parts of South East Asia.

Compliquée Peacock Emerald Watch

ESQ: What would you introduce to someone new to Fabergé?

AL: I would introduce the Compliquée Peacock watch, which is quintessentially Fabergé. We took inspiration from the Imperial Peacock Egg and, in keeping with the Fabergé tradition, we sought out the finest watch movement manufacturer and that led us to Jean-Marc Wiederrecht of Agenhor and now his two sons, Nicolas and Laurent, who run the business on a day-to-day basis. Throughout the discussions with them, we made the Peacock watch that has a special retrograde movement, that functions off four gears, and that allows us to add a feature for the peacock’s tail to unfurl.

ESQ: Peacocks, playing cards; are there other motifs that will utilise that movement in the future?

AL: There are some plans and they are confidential. [laughs]

ESQ: You talked about Fabergé as a book that you’re proud to be part of. What is the next chapter?

AL: To continue this revival and personally—and I know I speak on behalf of my co-workers—it’s about ensuring that the Fabergé story can still be told. What Fabergé symbolises is more than simply luxury and decadence. For us, it’s about creating prized possessions that can stand the test of time and be passed down through the generations. That’s important to us and runs through our DNA. You can scour through Christie’s and see that Fabergé is one of the highly sought-after hard luxury names in existence. 

It's worth noting that Bell & Ross has a finger on the pulse of the future. Aside from being in all kinds of watchmaking endeavours, the brant even ventured into aeronautics and transportation on terra firma. Bell & Ross continues its envelope-pushing course, with the BR 03 Cyber Ceramic.

Taking the iconic BR 03 line, the design is tweaked and given perspectives without erasing what came before. Bell & Ross’ co-founder and creative director, Bruno Belamich, combined the BR 03 design with the Cyber collection's graphic and futuristic codes.

Through faceted 3D designs, the timepiece's personality is shown through the lines making up its case. It reminds one of a stealth aircraft—with their sharp-edged fuselages and the distinct technical feature of reflecting waves, which is how spy planes, drones and strategic bombers become undetectable to radars. (It can be said that this was inspired by stealth design but we are pretty sure that the design is gonna turn some heads, but we digress.) The readability of flight instruments is added to the wrist with a graphic edge and an openwork feature is chosen for the dial and main components on the mechanical self-winding movement, the BR-CAL.383 calibre, with particularly spectacular 3D skeletonising.

Matte black is chosen as its bold shade, straying away from your usual precious materials used in traditional watchmaking. With a laser focus on technical and contemporary components, the BR 03 Cyber Ceramic 42 x 43.7 mm frame is a ceramic case. With the removal of the lugs, the rubber strap is cut into the case. Ceramic is used to decorate the 12 metallic indices and logo and treated in glossy black under the surface of the anti-reflective sapphire crystal. With a five-year warranty, production of this exceptional watch is limited to 500 pieces world-wide.

CHRISTOFFER RUDQUIST

You know Omega. It is easy for me to say that you know Omega, because you are reading Esquire and Omega is, at last standing, the world’s third-largest watch brand. But even if I were addressing you out of the blue, anywhere from Miami to Mumbai, I’d be confident in saying: you know Omega. Founded in 1848 in the Swiss town of La Chaux-de-Fonds by Louis Brandt, aged just 23, Omega is the powerhouse at the centre of Swatch Group, the world’s largest conglomerate of luxury watch brands. It is the official timekeeper of the Olympic Games; it is worn by George Clooney, Cindy Crawford and Nicole Kidman, and since 1995 it has appeared on the wrist of James Bond.

Perhaps you know it from the world of golf, where as well as gracing the left arm of Rory McIlroy it has sponsored both the PGA and Ryder Cup in the USA, and hosts its own pro-am tournament in the Swiss Alps every summer. Watch collectors know it first and foremost as the brand that sent its chronographs to the Moon, receiving space-flight certification from Nasa for the entire Apollo programme. As of last year, millions more now know it as the brand that lent this same famous design to its sister company, Swatch, to create the MoonSwatch. You might be justified in asking: after all this, is there anything about Omega that we don’t know?

Taken simply as the sum of its marketing campaigns, or its cold, hard, commercial figures, Omega might well present as a glossy luxury titan—which of course, it is, with production facilities as slick and devoid of imperfection as its computer-generated social videos. But that is only to scratch the surface. To jewellery-heads, it is home to Andrew Grima’s otherworldly creations of the early 1970s; devotees of military history will know it as the single largest provider of timepieces to the British armed forces in WW2; aesthetes will muse upon the weird and wonderful designs that peppered its late 1970s and 80s catalogues; and pilots, sailors and divers alike will admire its commitment to making watches suited to the extremes of our world.

There is a charming, lovable side to the brand, too. I’ll bet you didn’t know, for example, that in 1909 it sponsored the Gordon Bennett Cup, a hot air balloon race created by the eccentric millionaire newspaper proprietor, in which the aim was simply to travel as far as possible from the starting line, in any direction, before being forced to land.

The question is: as Omega strives to be the world’s biggest and best watchmaker, is there space for it to be all of these things? Is a rich, deep history bursting with invention compatible with ruthless, relentless growth and global commercial success?

The websites of all luxury watch brands make soulless statements like “innovative watchmaking is the cornerstone of our heritage”, but in Omega’s case, it happens to be true. The company is named after a movement, a 19-ligne pocket-watch calibre introduced in 1894 and noted for its accuracy, easy maintenance and mass production. It was one of the first movements to combine time-setting and winding functions in a single crown, and the Brandt brothers—Louis-Paul and César, who ran the company after their father’s death in 1879—were so proud of it they named it Omega, to underscore its status as the ultimate word in horological achievement.

Hyperbole aside, the movement proved extremely successful, and the name stuck—as did the tendency towards innovation. Omega has produced the first minute-repeater wristwatch, the first tourbillon wristwatch and the first Swiss quartz watch. It pioneered water-resistant cases and, alongside Patek Philippe, was the only company to take part in every Swiss chronometry trial, where makers competed to produce the most accurate watches.

CHRISTOFFER RUDQUIST

For a company more readily associated with iconic designs and globally renowned partnerships, it’s a redoubtable portfolio. “Omega has a much richer watchmaking legacy than Rolex—that’s beyond question,” says industry analyst Oliver R Müller. In recent years, Omega has redoubled its efforts to produce—for mainstream brands at least—the most technically adept, robust and resilient watches.

In 1999, it adopted the work of genius watchmaker George Daniels, and introduced the coaxial escapement, an invention that dramatically improves on the performance of a watch in ways that are complex, obscure and almost certainly unlikely to make for stimulating dinnertime conversation. Escapements are so astonishingly finicky, so wildly hard to engineer, that no other company has ever industrialised at any scale an alternative to the lesser, but ubiquitous, Swiss lever escapement.

Omega took the coaxial and, over the past two decades, used it as the foundation for an entire generation of movements. In 2015 it partnered with Switzerland’s national institute of metrology, METAS, to introduce a new certification process for what it calls “master chronometers”: watches that boast industry-leading levels of accuracy, magnetic resistance and everyday durability. At the launch, Omega was clear that the process was not proprietary—indeed, it invited other brands to follow suit. Deafening silence ensued, until this spring when Tudor, younger sibling to Rolex, announced that it too would put its watches through the master-chronometer certification.

To close observers of the Rolex-Omega relationship, this felt like a chess move from Rolex: equip Tudor’s far less expensive watches with a stamp of approval that puts them on an equal footing with your opponent. Was Omega CEO Raynald Aeschlimann pleased that someone else had finally joined the METAS club? “I don’t want to say ‘pleased’—for me the most important thing was that one of the brands of the Rolex group was considering [master-chronometer certification] as a new standard in the watch industry. Making that step was quite positive news for watchmaking.”

A certain degree of jostling with Rolex is a recurring undercurrent on planet Omega. Since 2015, Rolex’s “superlative chronometer” status gives its watches daily deviation of -2/+2 seconds; Omega’s master chronometers deviate between 0 and +5 seconds. Each argues that its own system is superior; Omega holding that it is better never to lose time than to lose or gain in a tighter window. The giants go toe-to-toe on materials, too: Rolex started calling its stainless-steel alloy “Oystersteel” in 2018; last year Omega introduced “O-megasteel” for the Planet Ocean Ultra Deep, a harder, more resilient alloy.

Everose gold at Rolex plays Sednagold at Omega; Rolex’s “cerachrom” bezels face off against Omega’s ceramic with “liquidmetal” infill. The latest salvo from Omega comes in the form of the Speedmaster Super Racing, a proof-of-concept chronograph equipped with something called the Spirate system. A new escapement system with a silicon balance spring designed to enable high-resolution adjustment of the watch’s rate—down to increments of 0.1 seconds a day—it makes Daniels’ coaxial look like Duplo.

I shall spare you the mechanical equations, but suffice to say the British Horological Institute described it as “a profoundly different idea that takes horology in a fresh direction, impossible with previous manufacturing methods”. Aeschlimann adds animatedly, “It’s getting into the next generation of rating, of precision. It’s incredible to see that you can invent… what we all want, which is precision on an industrial basis. It was a long development, and a very big launch, because everybody knows this is the heart [of things] and that it is also very, very difficult to get.”

CHRISTOFFER RUDQUIST

The Spirate—a blend of “spiral” and “rate”—should eventually appear across Omega’s range, as did the co-axial escapement before it, although Aeschlimann demurred when pressed on whether such technological advances would, or should, find a home on Omega’s most revered model, the Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional. As a totemic reference for the brand, this chronograph’s slow evolution embodies the tension at the heart of Omega: like many Swiss watch brands, it relies overwhelmingly on its heritage, yet asserts its excellence via high-tech achievements and cutting-edge materials science.

Since the Speedmaster’s use by Nasa and the careful nurturing of a fanbase around the space-going chronograph, the watch has held a special place for Omega fans, and attempts to modernise it are met with dismay in collector circles. The Speedmaster eschews a sapphire crystal glass for the original hesalite, and is hand-wound—a fundamental property given that automatic chronographs only arrived in 1969.

But it has, in 2021, finally been given master-chronometer status and surely, before long, will join the Spirate ranks. Why should it matter? Don’t we all want, as Aeschlimann says, precision? It’s up for debate: anyone buying into the legend of the only watch to have been worn on the Moon surely wants the soul of that 1960s watch to remain. Add too much technology and you risk diluting that legacy.

Omega’s vast headquarters, overhauled in 2017 by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, are—like most large watchmakers’ premises—quiet, spacious and pristine. There is an abundance of bare timber in the triple-height lobby, but the working spaces are cold, hard, clean and industrious. At the building’s centre sits a roboticised archive of parts, the central nervous system of the supply chain and production line.

This may be where Omega’s beating hearts are assembled, but its soul lives across the road, in another Ban creation, the grandly titled Cité du Temps, unveiled in 2019. Resembling a colossal invertebrate that has crashed gently onto north-east Biel, it houses Omega’s museum. Today, if you want to play at watchmaking’s top table, you invest in a gleaming, multimedia-enhanced shrine to your own past, and Omega’s is one of the best.

Nixon’s gold Speedmaster; JFK’s rare dress watch; the early Marine water-resistant cases, “flown” Speedmasters, prototype dive watches, military pieces and countless other artefacts of horological history are here. If your product line-up is founded on designs that began life in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, a well-kept archive is an essential part of the storytelling.

Concomitantly, brands are highly attentive to the vintage market. It is no secret that the top watch companies are active at auctions, working hard to build up the mythos surrounding their rarest and best-loved vintage models, understanding that a devoted lobby of connoisseur collectors can pay dividends on the high street. Omega’s presence in the vintage market—one area in which it trails Rolex significantly—has steadily risen over the last decade, which has seen the first Omega to sell for more than a million dollars.

In the vintage watch market, authenticity, provenance and condition are the holy trinity, and the staff in a brand’s museum, entrusted with cherishing its history, are the final arbiters of truth (in an often murky environment) and de facto custodians of the brand’s reputation. All of which makes it highly embarrassing that, earlier this year, Omega found itself at the centre of the biggest scandal to hit the vintage-watch world in decades.

After investigations first from independent blogger Jose Pereztroika and then the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper, it was claimed that at least three Omega staffers, including the former museum director, another employee in the heritage department, and his father, a top-level executive at the company, were involved in a scheme to defraud the company of more than £2.7m. Working with outside associates, it was alleged they had conspired to create a “franken-watch”—a vintage watch comprised of a hodge-podge of parts that is claimed to be as-new and original—and submitted it for auction at Phillips in Geneva.

Having forged components and created bogus paperwork that attested to the watch’s originality, they allegedly used at least two co-conspirators to bid on the watch, driving the price higher than anyone thought possible for an Omega, even a rare Speedmaster in unusually desirable condition. In a statement issued at the time, Omega said, “Omega and Phillips were the joint victims of organised criminal activity involving the selling of this specific watch by auction. … Omega is bringing criminal charges against all involved.”

At the time of writing, criminal proceedings were still ongoing. Given the nature of the scheme, many have questioned whether it could credibly be an isolated incident. “It was a big wake-up call, for sure,” says former Christie’s watch expert and vintage dealer Eric Wind. “It’s unfortunate it happened; it’s good people are aware that it can happen, and to proceed with caution when buying important watches.” Mr Aeschlimann concurred that it has “brought [a] spotlight on part of the industry, a big part of the business, that was maybe not always in the spotlight”.

CHRISTOFFER RUDQUIST

What the fallout will be, at Omega and beyond, remains to be seen, but for now its fortunes are undimmed. Crucially, Omega is adept at keeping the spotlight just where it wants it, and is not short of razzmatazz with which to sell its scientifically advanced creations to the world. Consider, for example, the Speedmaster Chrono Chime. Launched at the end of 2022, it is a remarkable combination of minute repeater and high-frequency chronograph, resulting in a watch that can measure time to 1/10th of a second and then ring off that measurement with a finely tuned peal of its miniature gongs.

It is, at £365,000, the most expensive watch Omega has ever retailed, the most complicated movement it has ever designed (and yes, it’s a certified master chronometer), and it was revealed not in Switzerland but at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Omega has also flexed its muscle on the Hollywood red carpet over the past few years, paying to place its watches on stars’ wrists at the Oscars and other high-profile events—signs that Omega has its sights set on the kind of visibility enjoyed by Rolex and Cartier.

Back on the topic of the Chrono Chime: “We like this kind of challenge and we are good for many years in terms of orders,” says Aeschlimann. As to why in the world Omega is making half-million-dollar extravagances, he refers back to the fact that Omega worked on the first-ever minute repeater for the wrist. “Of course, it’s a world where some other brands are [already], but it was still very well accepted, because it was linked with our DNA. It shows our commitment to watchmaking, and it shows that we’re able to push boundaries.”

With the most rapid growth now occurring in the highest price bracket of the watch industry, and seemingly no limit to the appetite of billionaire collectors for new marvels, does it signal that Omega intends to shift its focus to the ultra-high-net-worth market? “No. No, no, no,” insists Aeschlimann. “It signals that we have this ability, that we can deliver this kind of a wow effect, but it is not our strategy to go there.”

The wow factor was in evidence this summer too, as Omega decamped to Mykonos to mark the 75th anniversary of the Seamaster. There, having left the physics textbooks at home, it unveiled a collection of 13 references within the (vast, some would say overgrown) Seamaster family. Each had a blue dial, tinted lighter or darker depending on the watch’s water resistance: pale blue for a 150m-rated Aqua Terra; mid-blue for the hero Diver 300M and a blue-black gradient for the Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep, which will happily plunge to a depth of 6000m.

The whole thing was neat, masterfully choreographed and perfectly on-trend, which naturally led to a fair degree of whining that in focusing merely on colour rather than engineering (for once), Omega had sold out to the fashionistas. It’s not true; only last year, Omega was scrapping with Rolex over whose watches could dive the deepest. Rolex, with James Cameron, reached a depth of 10,908m in 2012; Omega topped that in 2019 when explorer Victor Vescovo took his submersible, complete with prototype watch, to 10,928m. Then, in 2022, Omega commercialised the design in the form of the Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep (depth rating: 6000m), only for Rolex to produce the Deepsea Challenge, rated to 11,000m—deeper than any point in the Earth’s oceans. Point made.

But away from the willy waving, the whiners have the kernel of a point. To compete in today’s landscape, a certain “fashionification” might be inevitable. The watch industry has undergone a rapid transformation in the past two years, with faster product cycles, an explosion of limited-edition pieces, an enormous diversification of colour and style and, most obviously of all, an obsession with collaborative design. Has Omega got what it takes to navigate these waters? In contrast with its competitors at LVMH, but also more nimble independent brands, the Swatch Group cohort has been reluctant to enlist outside designers or to partner with brands in other industries.

Aeschlimann, eager to disavow luxury as a concept—“I hate this word”—recognises that watches have learnt rapidly from fashion, particularly in relation to “consumer experience”. But he is bullish on collaborations, saying “we’re not really into finding a way to [raise our profile] by adding a collaboration. For me it has to be totally added value. If you are just making one plus one equal two, that doesn’t make any sense for me.”

Another trend from which Omega has been conspicuously absent is the communal adulation of designer Gérald Genta, who created such icons as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Patek Philippe Nautilus. So it’s surprising Omega hasn’t felt the temptation to move the focus to the Constellation, which Genta is known to have worked on, and leverage the connection for all it’s worth.

“We know that Gérald Genta has done an incredible design for Omega, as he has done for a lot of brands,” says Aeschlimann. “But Omega today is more important. We are lucky to have the four biggest lines, but we are also balancing the evolution of each and every line. If we remade everything people ask us to make, we would have a brand that, as you see in some of our competitors, is slightly losing their identity in terms of the key bestsellers.”

CHRISTOFFER RUDQUIST

On the subject of brand identity, it would be impossible to ignore the launch last year of the MoonSwatch, Omega’s seismic collaboration with sister brand Swatch that borrowed Speedmaster DNA and fused it into affordable, colourful, hype-tastic Swatches. It was a runaway sales success, but much of the feedback from the Omega faithful was that it cheapened the brand; not what you want to hear while you’re chasing Rolex.

Perhaps with this in mind, Aeschlimann emphasises that the MoonSwatch is “very much a Swatch property”, but he also highlights the impact it had on his brand. “The Speedmaster had its best-ever year last year: we sold twice as many watches as we’ve sold before. There have never been so many new customers in our own stores, wanting to know more about the Speedmaster and its history.” In early September, the Swatch Group lifted the lid on a collaboration with Blancpain, the Blancpain x Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms, hoping to pull off the same trick again.

According to an annual Morgan Stanley report, Omega produced an estimated 560,000 watches in 2022, giving it an implied market share of around seven per cent. Rolex, the report concludes, had a 29 per cent market share. “Of course it’s their dream one day to catch Rolex,” says Müller. “At the beginning of the 70s, Omega was number one and Rolex was behind. It’s not that things can’t change over time. But Rolex has managed over the last 50 years to build up such a strong brand. When you have so much positive momentum, when your brand is growing much faster than the market, for the challenger it becomes very difficult to catch up.”

You can’t say Omega isn’t putting the effort in. It’s hard to think of another mainstream brand that pushes as hard on a technological front, and by adding a healthy measure of showbiz glamour to sit alongside its core strengths of James Bond, the Olympics and Nasa, Omega has become the full package. At times, the upward acceleration can risk nosebleeds—Müller points out that the brand’s average sale price has tripled in the last two decades, and counsels that “you have to be very careful not to go up too fast, not to lose your natural clients”—but, seven years into the job, Raynald Aeschlimann shows no sign of slowing down.

Closing the gap on Rolex might be the target, but fans of the brand will want to know that it can be done without neglecting the less tangible qualities that differentiate Omega from the alpha brand in Geneva. Because regardless of what the league table says, for its followers, Omega might already be what its founders hoped 129 years ago. The last word in watchmaking.

Originally published on Esquire UK

Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic

Certain luxury fashion houses are fixated on their heritage, as though doing so would shield them from the erosion of progress. But the sole dependence on “legacy” and “estate” will not suffice. It’s not enough to just be, you must also matter. One of the brands that wouldn’t think of resting on its laurels is Bulgari, which is seeking to upend conventions with two additions to its Octo Finissimo series.

The products in question are the Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic and Perpetual Calendar models. “CarbonGold” is a mix of high-tech carbon and gold elements first introduced in 1993. Now the maison is outfitting the Octo Finissimo Automatic and Perpetual Calendar models with CarbonGold. When it comes to experimentation with new materials, the maison was among the first to venture into crafting steel jewellery watches before moving on to the use of titanium and platinum. But if you think it’s a simple task of changing up the Octo Finissimo line-up with a mould of CarbonGold material, you’ll be wrong.

The Road Less Taken

Never one to take the easy route, Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, Bulgari’s chief watch designer, saw the need to overhaul the watches from scratch when it came to implementing the new CarbonGold material. “Whenever we work with new materials, we are obliged to start development from scratch,” Stigliani explains. “We had to develop a brand new titanium case insert with lugs and holes for the screws for the case back, but with a different shape. The carbon case, bezel and bracelet came next. It was a challenge for us even after producing the carbon minute repeater.” The carbon cases are adorned with rose gold crowns and carbon dials with matching gold-coloured accents. The case, strap and dial are crafted from exceptionally lightweight, anthracite-coloured carbon with a matte finish. Clean lines border the models, which exude a measured majesty.

Within the remarkable slimness embodies the extraordinary watchmaking expertise of the manufacture. For the Perpetual Calendar, in this new carbon iteration, the classic ultra-thin perpetual calendar complication requires no adjustment until 2100. For the Automatic, there’s an automatic winding, gold bridges and a gold-plated platinum off-centred micro-rotor.

The slim profile of the Octo Finissimo CarbonGold

The Time it Took

Due to the difficult intricacies of CarbonGold, it took Stigliani and his team three years to develop. But at the end of the day, it is a technical marvel. “One of my obsessions as an industrial designer is things like these that look very simple,” Stigliani adds. “I love the execution, texture, and how unconventionally we played with the material. Everybody knows carbon in the watchmaking industry, but only Bulgari can make such a watch with this kind of thickness, bracelet and movement in carbon and gold.”

It’s not the goal of housing a complication in a slim profile, it was Stigliani’s objective to “enhance the dynamic tension—this unique proposition between having a watch that was, when viewed straight on, very muscular and even aggressive, yet when you turned it on its side, you’d be absolutely surprised to find how thin it was.”

There’s something to be said about Stigliani’s obsession with marrying CarbonGold with the Octo Finissimo. The man came from the school of thought where “beauty is a necessity”.

This is Stigliani’s unconscious search in finding beauty even in the most technical of forms.

The crowd at the TAG Heuer pop-out outside ION Orchard

Sergio Pérez goes by many names. He’s known as “Checo”; the “Mexican Wunderkind” and, judging by the crowd chanting his name, he can add “People's Choice”.

The prominent Mexican racing driver is firmly entrenched in the world of Formula One. Currently a racer for Team Red Bull Racing, Pérez’s racing prowess shines through with six remarkable victories in F1 Grand Prix races. His debut triumph occurred when driving for Racing Point at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix where he broke the record for the most starts before securing a race win, clocking in at 190.

Another defining moment in Pérez’s career happened at the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, where he clinched his inaugural Formula One pole position. This feat rewrote history by surpassing the record for the most races before claiming this coveted achievement, with a total of 215 races. Pérez’s journey in Formula One began back in 2011 when he made his debut as a Sauber driver. It was in the 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix that he achieved his first podium finish, all the more remarkable considering his youthful age and outstanding performance, earning him the moniker of “Mexican Wunderkind”.

A significant chapter in Pérez’s career unfolded when he joined McLaren for the 2013 season. Despite his best efforts, the team failed to secure a single podium finish, leading to Pérez’s replacement by Kevin Magnussen for the 2014 season. In 2014, Force India secured Pérez’s talents with a noteworthy €15 million contract.

Red Bull Racing teammates, Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez

He remained loyal to the team even during challenging times when they faced administration problems in 2018, subsequently rebranding as the Racing Point team for the 2019 season. His commitment to Racing Point was further solidified in 2019 with a three-year contract extension. However, in September 2020, Racing Point announced Pérez’s departure at the end of the season, as they had signed the illustrious four-time F1 world champion, Sebastian Vettel, to take his place. In a remarkable turn of events, Pérez inked a deal with Red Bull Racing in December, securing his place on the team for the 2021 season and beyond. Currently, Pérez is under contract with Red Bull Racing until the culmination of the 2024 season, promising continued excitement and excellence in the world of Formula One.

We are at the TAG Heuer Motorsports Experience Pop-Up at Ion Orchard. Already a crowd has swelled to about 180. Eager faces framed by F1 gear; carrying signs of support for Sergio Pérez and Max Verstappen who are due to make an appearance later. A small child, decked out in Team Red Bull race suit and cap, perched on his father's shoulders as he held up a placard saying, "Sergio Pérez 11; you are my number #1".

I tell this to Pérez later at our interview at the pop-up.

ESQUIRE: Did you ever think that you would have the support of fans in a country like Singapore?

SERGIO PÉREZ: Yeah, it’s amazing. It’s great to get so much support from all around the world. You’d think that when you’re so far away from home, that nobody would recognise me, but here people know who I am. It’s funny to see that happen.

ESQ: Where is the furthest that you’ve been in the world where you’re surprised that people have recognised you?

SERGIO: Singapore is quite far from Mexico. So, this would be one of the furthest places.

ESQ: Throughout your career. What is the high point and low point for you?

SERGIO: Obviously winning—it is everything in the sport. Winning is the high point. But then, you would also go through the difficult beats, you know. Sometimes you’d have difficult moments.

ESQ: Then, how do you deal with the pressure, especially as a member of Team Red Bull?

SERGIO: Oh yeah, the pressure. That’s part of the job. We’d have to deliver at the right time and so on. So that makes it really tricky at times. On the track, I need to make sure that I arrive when I should, and deliver when I can. That is very important.

ESQ: This marks the 250th time for you as a racer. What does this milestone mean for you?

SERGIO: It means a lot because, to be able to race this much, means you’ve survived many years of the sport. It’s the pinnacle of what you have achieved.

ESQ: What do you want to do in future?

SERGIO: I want it to be related to sports, to be able to support new athletes in different sporting fields. And maybe form a business that’s away from racing. Maybe real estate. That’s something I will enjoy doing that’s not racing.

ESQ: Before starting a race, do you have any rituals or superstitions that you observe to psych yourself up?

SERGIO: Not really. I just make sure that I’m adequately stretched and warmed up. That’s what I do to get ready for the race.

ESQ: What’s your strategy for the race?

SERGIO: Singapore is exciting and also very unexpected. This circuit is challenging. The heat and a circuit with no straight stretch are tough but we hope to drive well.

ESQ: Do you remember the first watch you got?

SERGIO: Yes. The first watch I ever bought, I remember that it was with my salary that I earned during the summer. Once I got that paycheque, I went straight to the shop to buy that watch.

ESQ: (points to the timepiece on Pérez’s wrist) Is that a [TAG Heuer] Monaco?

SERGIO: (shows the watch dial) This one. This is the Monaco watch that I got when I won my race.

ESQ: What do you like about the Monaco?

SERGIO: Mainly for its precision. That level of detail that goes into the watch, that’s something that I really like and respect.

The black DLC-coated titanium grade 5 case houses the expert Calibre Heuer 02, visible through the sapphire case back

The very model that Pérez is wearing has its sandblasted black skeletonised dial accented by luminous turquoise highlights and scarlet lacquered hands.

At his appearance, TAG Heuer’s CEO Frédéric Arnault unveiled the Monaco Night Driver Chronograph Limited Edition. Encased in a Grade 5 titanium housing and adorned with a black diamondlike carbon coating, the Monaco Night Driver chronograph showcases TAG Heuer’s in-house Heuer 02 movement. This marks its first utilisation of Grade 5 titanium in a Monaco timepiece.

The chronograph features an anthracite circle set in a sophisticated grey opaline dial, with three distinct counters at the three, six, and nine o’clock positions. At the three and nine o’clock places, you’ll find the anthracite luminescent minute and hour chronograph counters, while a second indicator gracefully resides at six o’clock.

When darkness falls, the luminescent outer dial constituting the grey opaline section shines with a vivid blue luminescence. This mesmerising hue contrasts with the black-lacquered hour indices. The chronograph counters also adopt this enchanting luminescent blue, harmonising with the hour, minute and chronograph seconds hands. Bright dots are placed around the anthracite circle to represent the hours. Capping the “light show” on the dial are the anthracite TAG Heuer logo and the inscriptions “Monaco” and “Automatic”.

Limited to 600 pieces worldwide, the Monaco Chronograph Night Driver Limited Edition will be individually engraved and presented in a distinctive “nomad” travel pouch.

Novelty is the meat and drink of traditional watchmaking, and it does
not get much more traditional than A. Lange & Söhne, where novelty
might be dessert too. In watchmaking parlance, novelty simply refers to new watches offered with new dials or case materials. As is true with the Lange 1 Time Zone and the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar. The former is now offered in a platinum case while the latter has been equipped with a fetching pink gold dial and a white gold case. We got to walk the hallowed halls of the manufacture and saw the assembly process for the base Lange 1 watch. We also heard a little from A. Lange & Söhne production director Anthony de Haas about the realities of production in general. The Lange 1 Time Zone from the Glashütte manufacture, in particular, allows us to craft a grounded story to relook at the brand’s character.

The Time Zone variant, launched in 2005 (named the Lange 1, with its wonderfully asymmetric dial and oversized double date goes all the way back to A. Lange & Söhne’s rebirth in 1994), added the functionality of tracking multiple time zones, making it one of the most interesting haute horlogerie GMT or dual time (more appropriately) watches. It is worth stating again for the record that the so-called Time Zoner is not a world timer, despite that telltale city ring. While the details are fascinating, we will restrict ourselves to revisiting only the points that have seen revision for this story.

In terms of the changes to the new A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Time Zone, platinum is literally the weightiest update. The watch is substantial in any material. Despite its on-paper statistics being a very reasonable 41.9mm (diameter) and 10.9mm (thickness); platinum will make it truly massive. Perhaps that is as it should be for the Time Zoner, particularly if you already own another version of this model. It might also interest those who love high-end dual-time watches. Although this sort of collectors should bear in mind that they will be competing with dyed-in-the-wool A. Lange & Söhne collectors.

This is because the watch is exclusive to boutiques. And is likely to be produced in very small numbers, given that the watchmakers are also working on other models. “Actually we created a problem for ourselves with the Odysseus and the Lange 1 because it is the same qualification of a watchmaker (as in level of expertise) that can work on these watches. This means we have to decide if the Odysseus is more important than the Lange 1… of course, it is not,” said de Haas.

All variants of the Odysseus remain phenomenally popular, thus underscoring the production conundrum the brand has to face. Of course, all current versions of the Lange 1 Time Zone remain in the picture. The movement is the same as the one introduced in 2020, the manual-winding calibre L141.1. Of course, all this means that not very many of the platinum pieces will be made.

The rhodiumised dial of the new Lange 1 Time Zone is a fair accompaniment to the idiosyncratic display. It plays well with the blue design notes, and might even be more legible. The combination of platinum and the glow of the dial is very attractive.

We will end this little update on A. Lange & Söhne with a brief note about the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar. It is now in a white gold case with a pink gold dial. Unlike the Time Zoner, this one is both a boutique-exclusive and a limited edition (100 pieces, with engraved numbering). It is only the third A. Lange & Söhne watch with such a dial and case combination. The others being the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon (2019) and the Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar.

Now, A. Lange & Söhne operates with a pretty lean output—just 5,000-odd watches annually, and it has a backlog of orders resulting from the pandemic that it has not yet resolved, according to de Haas. The brand is also owned by the Richemont group, which begs the question: don’t shareholders want to see more watches made and sold? Happily, de Haas has a reply to this question, which he must have faced many times over the years, given the popularity of A. Lange & Söhne watches.

“The only pressure we get from Richemont, which means Chairman Johann Rupert, is this: Stay as you are. Not too commercial. You are the watchmakers of the group. Don’t [play] around,” said de Haas. This may well please established collectors, but it ought to reassure even aspirants that A. Lange & Söhne is committed to making watches in its own particular way, and has no plans to change anything.

When Louis Cartier conceptualised the Tank in 1917, few could have imagined the fame and cultural importance that have become part of the timepiece’s legacy. Today, the Tank collection remains a staple among Cartier’s offerings, with its timeless aesthetic and versatility at the heart of its near- universal appeal. Cartier continues to refresh the Tank with the 2023 editions, reimagined in ways that not only add to, but transcend the seemingly insurmountable limits of horological universality.

The Tank—as its name suggests— has its roots couched in military history. Louis Cartier derived design inspiration for the Tank from the top- down silhouette of the Renault tanks he witnessed on the Western Front in World War I. One of the first few Tanks made was given to General John Pershing, commander of the Paris-based American Expeditionary Force—underscoring its military- inspired beginnings.

Interestingly, however, the timepiece was to find fame far from the mud and gore of the battlefield. It instead went on to become the defining timepiece of Hollywood’s Golden Age, appearing on the wrists of a string of A-listers. Actor Rudolph Valentino famously insisted on wearing his Tank throughout the filming of The Son of the Sheik, despite the obvious anachronism.

Its popularity was not confined to the early 20th century, transcending eras and reaching across gender and disciplines. Personalities from diverse backgrounds—from the realms of philanthropy and politics, to sports and art—were enamoured by the Tank. Appearing on the wrists of icons the likes of John F Kennedy, Princess Diana, Muhammad Ali and Andy Warhol, the Tank became a unisex symbol of elegance. Warhol famously quipped: “I don’t wear a Tank to tell the time. In fact, I never wind it. I wear a Tank because it’s the watch to wear”, which speaks volumes of its universal appeal and cultural significance.

Today, the watch stands as a unique example of design endurance, through its timeless style, versatility and appeal to a wide range of aesthetic sensibilities.

Cartier’s latest refresh of the Tank family pushes the limits of the collection’s universality even further. While the modern Tank family retains the iconic rectangular silhouette and brancards of its predecessors, each new member is also imbued with subtle differences that cater to different sensibilities.

Beginning with the Tank Américaine, the watch’s curved, elongated case mirrors that of the 1921 Tank Cintrée, with the addition of finer, more acrobatic lines that flawlessly integrate the brancards with the extension of the strap. Coupled with the iconic Roman-numerals on the dial, the timepiece’s ergonomic approach and pure form pay tribute to the Tank’s heritage, all while incorporating a contemporary elegance.

The Tank Française has also received a minor facelift that stays true to the monobloc metal design of its predecessors. The 2023 edition notably comes with a new satin-brushed strap with tighter- fitted links that give the timepiece a streamlined and athletic integrated- bracelet aesthetic. Topped off with factory-set diamonds along the brancards, the Tank Française makes for a sporty statement embellished with sophistication.

As with all families, there is always an artistically-inclined child—the Tank family is no different. The newest additions to the Tank Louis Cartier line retain all the design elements of a classic Tank, but are fitted with dazzling new dials that pay homage to the Tank Must dials of the vibrant ’70s. Playing on the concept of echoed elements and mirror constructions, the dials feature graphic motifs in gold, yellow gold, rose gold and white gold, creating optical grids that highlight the texture of geometry and contrasts. A juxtaposition of vintage aesthetics with the bold creativity of art, the Tank Louis Cartier balances the Tank’s historic elegance with artistic inclinations.

Most significantly, however, Cartier has announced that the Tank Normale is this year’s addition to its limited-release “collector’s collection”: Cartier Privé. It is a hotly anticipated inclusion worthy of a feature of its own. It shares many of the iconic design cues from the original 1917 Tank—similar proportions, bevelled sapphire crystal, “railroad track” on the inner dial and 1917 date hidden in the VII numeral. The key difference lies in the Privé Normale’s larger 35.2mm x 27.8mm dimensions. Available in six new designs, the Privé Normale line infuses the essence of the 1917 original with modern appearances, done in true Cartier sophistry and craftsmanship. A release that will more than please the purists, the Privé Normale bridges the gap between Cartier’s past and its present, alongside the other Privé Tank variations.

In a nutshell, the refreshed Tank collection keeps the iconic timepiece in touch with contemporary design cues, while pushing the boundaries of horological universality, making it an enduring icon.

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