When you are racing across open waters at speeds closing in on 50 knots (which is just under 100kmh), you feel the crest of every wave as your vessel cuts through it. It is rough, as though the sea resents the intrusion and is ferociously trying to throw you off. By you, we mean anyone aboard the speedboat. If you are not strapped into a seat or holding on for dear life, you are likely to get lifted off your feet and dumped overboard. Holding on is exactly what I am doing as the Luna Rossa attempts to demonstrate the speeds that its foiling monohull can achieve.

Of course, the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team tells us that experiencing stomach-churning speeds on a powered vessel cannot really compare with what it feels like to sail aboard a foiling monohull. For one thing, even at the speeds we manage here off the coast of Cagliari, Italy, we would still be trailing behind the AC75 racing yacht that Luna Rossa will be fielding in the 37th America’s Cup 2024. Yes, speedboats can be outpaced by five-tonne sailing yachts, and—for some context—that is like saying a mechanical watch could be more precise than a quartz watch. This, of course, is a segue because we are here at the Luna Rossa base in Sardinia at the invitation of Panerai; the Swiss Made Italian watch brand is an official Luna Rossa sponsor.

Now, before you go accusing us of having too much Franciacorta—not to mince words about it—besides having our brains baked by the Sardinian sun, you should know that the AC75 monohulls have been known to achieve speeds in excess of 50 knots. Google it. In any case, the America’s Cup represents peak sailing, both from the perspective of sailing the monohulls and engineering them.

The legendary regatta is the Formula One of the sailing world and has been since before the motorcar was even a gleam in Karl Benz’s eye. Like the development of the automobile, the America’s Cup has quite a rich narrative and so we give it its own section. While the contemporary reality of sailing is far removed from its roots, some context is still useful. Just so you know, the America’s Cup is the world’s oldest sporting competition of any kind, with the first having taken place in 1851.

ABOVE THE WAVES

If you are in the mood to have your mind boggled by some sailing yacht facts, here's the low-down on the standard monohull hydrofoil that will be used in the coming America’s Cup. The AC75 (or America’s Cup 75 footer) is also the basis of the prototype that Luna Rossa is using, but more on that in due course. It helps to first know what in the world a hydrofoil monohull sailing yacht is, and how it manages to just glide above the waves.

The simple answer is that there are wings called hydrofoils attached to the hull, left and right, and these do what wings normally do. The tips or ends of these two wings and a rudder are the only elements that are in contact with the water when the yacht is at speed. Which makes it look for all the world like it is flying across the waves. Such a vessel should easily move at twice the prevailing wind speed, and might even go faster. This is difficult to grasp because the yacht is wind-powered after all, but it is what happens.

Here is what we have been able to glean from official sources on the technical details. The aforementioned wings are canting ballasted T-wing hydrofoils mounted on the port and starboard topside longitudinal drums; there is a centreline T-wing rudder, and no keel (source: Wikipedia).

The base of the Luna Rossa yacht.

All of the above is certainly standard fare but the America’s Cup race did not start using the hydrofoil design until 2017, and the monohull variant dates from just two years ago (2021). Team Luna Rossa itself is working on a new prototype, the LEQ 12, with the following publicly declared specifications:

This puts the LEQ 12 at an apparent disadvantage as far as top speeds go, because the AC75 has been clocked at speeds beyond 50 knots. But then of course, that is straight line speed, and the thing about sailing boats is the way they turn. Again, perhaps counterintuitively, sailing vessels can and do sail into the wind, and have been doing so since some clever sailor somewhere figured out how to angle the sails just right.

On that note, consider that the Luna Rossa team considers itself pretty clever too since it opted to create its own boat from scratch to challenge team New Zealand, the defender of the America’s Cup. The 10,000 sqm Cagliari base camp is where Luna Rossa is doing most of its development work, which is not inconsiderable. There is also a 4,000 sqm site in Barcelona, Spain, which is where the AC75 Challenger Selection Series will begin next year. In fact, Luna Rossa was one of the teams that developed the aforementioned AC75 foiling monohull standard.

Luminor Luna Rossa BiTempo.

AMERICA’S CUP HISTORY

Given that it predates the first Olympic Games by 45 years, the America’s Cup (also known as Auld Mug) is really the world’s oldest international sporting event. The first race was held in 1851 while the Summer Olympics began in 1896. It was originally a showdown between two yacht clubs or organisations in Great Britain and the United States, and what we call the America’s Cup today is named for the schooner that won the first race in 1851, the America.

The first defence of the America’s Cup only took place in 1870, by which time the New York Yacht Club, which was the steward of the Cup, was already under one of the most famous of the competition’s rules. That the holder of the America’s Cup is obliged to defend its right to steward Auld Mug (as it was originally called) should any qualifying club issue a challenge. This remains the case to this day. That is why the America’s Cup champion is called the Defender, while its rival is called the Challenger of Record. Until 1967, there was only one Challenger but from 1970, multiple clubs issued qualifying challenges. This was the beginning of the Challenger Selection Series. For this leg, all America’s Cup challengers competed until a victor emerged as the Challenger of Record to take on the Defender.

The race between the Challenger and Defender has evolved over time too, but the affair is still relatively stately, with the Defender and Challenger agreeing to terms prior to every challenge.

PANERAI LUNA ROSSA

Watch collectors will be more familiar with Panerai as the military secret that equipped Italian navy divers with precision instruments than anything else. The contemporary Panerai watchmaking brand has been associated with all manner of marine activities for the better part of this century. Since 2017, Panerai has created wristwatches with the sorts of materials that America’s Cup teams were experimenting with. One might even say that Panerai’s penchant for material innovation makes it an ideal partner for a racing team such as Luna Rossa, which is precisely how team Luna Rossa describes the watchmaker.

Of course, Panerai recognises its own virtues in exploring new frontiers in watchmaking, as Ficarelli told us, citing just the example of PAM01039. The brand knows to maximise on the emotional qualities of being innovative, which points to a certain spirit of boldness. Here, we enter the realm of character. As Panerai connects the dots between past and present, it hopes to build bridges with a community of watch lovers. “Storytelling is pivotal in cementing Panerai’s legitimacy, intertwining its deep-seated maritime roots with its modern identity,” said Ficarelli. “By chronicling its journey from creating robust instruments for the Italian Navy to embracing the adrenaline of performance boating, Panerai underscores its heritage and authenticity. Each watch, steeped in historical value and innovative prowess, symbolises a continuity of tradition and a forward-looking vision, fortifying the brand’s connection with enthusiasts who value both the legacy and the ongoing maritime saga.”

Panerai had a dedicated Luna Rossa series of watches that span a number of ranges. This includes the Submersible (although the 1309 is currently unavailable). Panerai watches are typically in-demand so the availability of Luna Rossa watches should be monitored closely. Currently, our pick includes the Luminor Luna Rossa Chrono Carbotech PAM01519 and the Luminor Luna Rossa Quaranta BiTempo PAM01404. The impressively named latter watch is especially notable for its automatic P.900 GMT calibre, which has a three-day power reserve. The chronograph is powered by calibre P.9200 and is currently the only available Luna Rossa watch cases in Carbotech. This is important for this watch because it is a 44mm whopper. The GMT model is a more reasonable 40mm watch in steel. There are also two Luminor Due references worth taking note of: PAM 01378 and PAM 01381.

Just as Formula One is an expensive sport, so too is the business of the America’s Cup. It's estimated that operating the teams running up to US$200 million for each competitive run. This is evident in the Luna Rossa base camp. There are at least two simulators, two prototypes (a slightly scaled-down model that we saw and another full-size model that takes to the waves), in-house manufacturing capabilities and engineers and technicians of many stripes all working together to develop the LEQ 12 that will eventually be the Luna Rossa racing yacht. In total, there are approximately 118 people on the distinctly Italian team. That includes the Skipper and Team Director Max Sirena and Circolo Della Vela Sicilia President Patrizio Bertelli.

If there is one Panerai watch that embodies the story here, it must be the Submersible Luna Rossa PAM01039. Panerai chief marketing officer Alessandro Ficarelli explains: “(The watch) stands out due to its use of innovative materials like Carbotech (a specially developed material used by the brand), representing the brand’s adventurous spirit and its watchmaking expertise. Moreover, its aesthetic intertwines sporty resilience with elegance, including details like the incorporation of actual sail material, which symbolises a forward-thinking vision that aligns with Panerai’s maritime legacy and its future aspirations.”

Leonardo Fioravanti (middle) having the Panerai Luna Rossa Surf Experience.

Those aspirations are on show on this visit to Sardinia, which was actually part of Panerai’s now-famous experiences. The Luna Rossa vessel itself might be a very expensive closely-held secret that amateurs have no business messing with. Although there are all manner of maritime activities that can be associated with the competitive team’s preparations. Popular on this particular occasion was water-skiing. But Panerai also went the distance with a surfing experience with the brand’s ambassador, surfing champion Leonardo Fioravanti. Of course, everything will pay off nicely for Panerai should Luna Rossa be on top form during the America’s Cup. First though, whether the Luna Rossa team will become the Challenger of Record in 2024. That will be determined when the season begins in Barcelona.

Photographs courtesy of Panerai and Luna Rossa

"Fly By Fruiting" by artist and sartorial style enthusiast, Samara Shuter

It’s a new year, and there’s a good chance you’re looking for a new job. Maybe you’re pondering going freelance or starting your own business. You are not alone. Statistics suggest that a third of the workforce switches jobs every 12 months nowadays. Witnessing wave after wave of layoffs, people have learnt that companies aren’t loyal to staff any more if indeed they ever were, so why should employees display blind loyalty to their bosses?

Even here in status-obsessed Singapore, where a stable and well-paid office job has long been seen as the ideal, more and more people are looking for “meaning and purpose in what they do, not just for good salaries,” per the gahmen’s recent Forward SG report. Giving new meaning to the phrase ‘Money no enough,’ today, we want jobs that are rewarding on a level beyond remuneration—jobs we’re passionate about. Often, that means creating a job for yourself.

Many of Canadian artist Samara Shuter’s super-detailed paintings celebrate the type of peacock sartorialism seen at the Pitti Uomo menswear fair. Why the passion for men’s style? Shuter’s family has deep roots in the garment trade—she grew up amongst bolts of colourful cloth, and she says her father’s dapper dressing when she was a young girl also left a lasting impression.

De Bethune's DB28XP Kind of Blue. If you've got a "crazy, leftfield" idea, "just go and do it," says watchmaker Denis Flageollet

“My father had an incredible appreciation for style. He had the most amazing collection of ties,” she recalls. Her dad’s struggles to support his family in various corporate sales roles, which required the Shuter clan to regularly relocate—“We moved every year or year-and-a-half; I was kinda like an army brat, it felt very unstable,” Shuter says of her peripatetic upbringing—also left an indelible mark.

So, when she set out to forge her own career, Shuter says, “It was important to me that I could do something that I love, but where I was in control.” Having seen her father suddenly lose jobs and the turmoil that caused for her whole family, she says, “It was important that what I did, nobody could take away from me.” So she became an artist. Back in the mid-’00s, Shuter took the money she’d saved waiting tables and tending bar and hired a booth at an art fair in Toronto. It was a big gamble, several thousand dollars, everything she had. “But that weekend, all the works I’d painted sold out. I couldn’t believe it.”

Soneva Jani

Three years later, Shuter was selling sufficient volume, at high enough prices, that she was able to quit pouring pints and focus on her art practice full-time.

Leading independent British bespoke shoemaker Nicholas Templeman says it was an invaluable experience mastering his craft as an employee of one of the most legendary firms in the trade. But to make the sort of shoes he was passionate about, he had to set up his own business. “I trained at an established bootmaker—I worked at John Lobb for seven years before going it alone,” he explains. “I had a great time there and there’s a lot I look back fondly on, I don’t think I could have learnt as much about shoes and bootmaking anywhere else in the world.”

Eventually, though, Templeman reached a point where to be fulfilled, he needed full creative and quality control over the footwear he made. “That’s only really possible when your name is stamped on the soles,” he says. Having his signature on the product also means Templeman is especially punctilious about quality. “I’m pretty fastidious about what I make, no shortcuts, even if, as currently, it makes the lead times longer than I’d like.”

Master watchmaker Denis Flageollet, cofounder of De Bethune and a godlike figure in the world of watches, reckons passion—and the confidence to express that passion—is an essential attribute in anyone aspiring to stand out in haute horlogerie. “I love talking to young independent watchmakers to see whether they have that spark inside them, that passion that will allow them to really grow their vision of what watchmaking can be,” he says.

“For several years now, I’ve realised I need to pass on the knowledge I have, not just to train new watchmakers for De Bethune, but to share what I know and my experiences with a larger audience,” Flageollet says. The advice he habitually gives young watchmakers is, “You have to be brave, you have to be bold. If you think you’ve got an idea, but it’s maybe a bit of a crazy idea, or it’s a bit left-field, just go and do it. The only way you’re going to know is to try it, and then see what the world thinks of it; it could be the next great idea.”

He says creatives have got to trust their instincts. “You shouldn’t be scared of not being understood. Maybe they’ll understand you in 10 years’ time—or after you’re dead! The most important thing is that you do what you believe in, what you’re passionate about.” Flageollet encourages rising watchmakers to place a bet on themselves. “I tell them to gamble, try and do something that they believe in, take a leap of faith because that ultimately is what’s going to make them happy.”

Independence is brilliant, but as any start-up entrepreneur, small business owner or freelancer will tell you, there’s also much to be said for a reliable monthly salary. However, those who choose to go the regular wage route are increasingly opting to work for purpose-driven businesses, where the sense of fulfilment goes beyond merely cashing that wonderfully predictable pay cheque.

Sonu Shivdasani says people are attracted to working for his Soneva resorts because the job comes with an authentic sense of purpose, above and beyond profits

“To be a successful organisation in the 21st century, to attract the best people, you need to be authentic,” says the co-founder of Soneva luxury resorts, Sonu Shivdasani, OBE. “You can’t be saying one thing and doing something different, because people will vote with their feet now—they don’t need the work. So if you aren’t authentic, you’re not going to attract the best people.”

In Soneva’s case, that authenticity comes down to what Shivdasani calls “a very clear focus, an undiluted philosophy” he has dubbed SLOWLIFE, an acronym standing for Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wellness, Learning, Inspiring, Fun, Experiences. “Essentially, offering luxuries, while minimising our impact on the environment and enhancing the overall wellbeing of our guests,” Shivdasani sums it up. Soneva is considered the gold standard in sustainable tourism.

The brand’s founders, Shivdasani and his wife Eva, believe a business must have a purpose beyond simply making money, if it hopes to generate high levels of employee engagement and as a flow-on effect, happy customers. “In our industry, in hospitality, the definition of luxury is the magic created by our people, the hosts—we don’t have employees at Soneva, we have hosts. And I believe that magical service has to come from the gut; you can’t train it, it has to be instilled. By having a core purpose that our hosts are aligned with, they become more engaged, more passionate.”

Preparing to open a new wing opened at Soneva Jani in the Maldives a couple of years ago, Shivdasani recalls, “We had 80 vacancies. And within a week, we had 3,000 applicants for those 80 vacancies.” When the successful candidates arrived and Shivdasani was performing their induction, he joked with the fresh hires, “You know, it’s actually tougher to get into Soneva Jani than it is to get into Goldman Sachs or Oxford—and that’s because people really were passionate about joining us.”

We’ll grant you that the prospect of working in a tropical paradise probably didn’t harm Soneva’s recruitment efforts. Nevertheless, there’s a potent lesson in the anecdote for organisations trying to engage people who’ll stay on for more than 12 months. Showing you care about something beyond the bottom line—demonstrating you care about your employees, your customers, and the world—has its advantages. Think about it, boss.

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

ESQUIRE / TAG HEUER

Tag Heuer is most famous for its chronographs: a watch genre it has excelled in so comprehensively that at one point it was producing them for many of its storied Swiss rivals, including Rolex. Its founder, Édouard Heuer, was an inventor and innovator and something of a maverick, setting up his 19th century watchmaking business in the village of St-Imier and becoming a central part of the history of watchmaking.

Heuer took out his first chronograph patent in 1882 and five years later came up with the oscillating pinion, the part that allows chronographs to be stopped and started, which is still used today. The company went on to design chronographs for planes, cars and boats. During the Thirties its innovations in dashboard chronographs led to the Autavia (a portmanteau of ‘automobile’ and ‘aviation’), which became one of its key lines. It also came up with the first wrist chronograph in 1914 and, soon after, began making stopwatches.

Heuer timepieces were used for three Olympics during the Twenties, so beginning an association with sports that stands to this day. By the Seventies, however, the company was beginning to falter and a private holding company, Tag (Techniques d’Avant-Garde), purchased a majority stake. The resulting business, now known as Tag Heuer (which is pronounced "tag hoy-yur", BTW), was in turn acquired by the LVMH luxury conglomerate in 1999, for nearly half a billion pounds.

Tag Heuer now sits as part of the same stable as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co and Moët champagne.

The association with sports and timing continues to be a profitable one, with numerous high-profile sponsorships including, at one time or another, Manchester United, the French Professional Football League, Porsche’s Formula E Electric Racing Team, the Ferrari F1 team and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. Accordingly, Tag Heuer has become synonymous with watches with a sturdy, sporty aesthetic – as borne out by the advertising slogan ‘Don’t Crack Under Pressure’ – perhaps most famously embodied in its Monaco, the square watch made famous by the film Le Mans, and also its Aquaracer and Formula 1 lines.

Most recently it has branched out into smartwatches. Its Connected line of modular watches come with a host of interchangeable features: allowing you to customise the watch faces via the touchscreen interface, as well as swap the straps, lugs, even the watch head itself.

It's innovation like this that keeps Tag Heuer in its pole position as one of the big names in quality, precision watchmaking. Édouard Heuer's maverick vision is alive and well in the 21st century.

1. Carrera Limited Edition Porsche

TAG HEUER

Though Porsche and Tag Heuer have shared the name ‘Carrera’ for decades, the two motorsport icons didn’t get round to collaborating until 2021. Now, on the car’s 50th birthday, the two have created on a watch honouring the mighty 911 Carrera RS 2.7 (named for its 2.7-litre engine). Riffing on its colour palate, two models are available: a blue version in steel and a red version in rose gold, the first limited to 500, the second to 250. Attention to detail is impressive: the ‘Carrera’ font is rendered in the same proportions on both watch and car, while that white dial isn’t actually white – it’s ‘competition white’, a specific shade Porsche owns.

2. Carrera Three

TAG HEUER

The Carrera models make up a very rich tapestry indeed. The bold lines and motorsport lineage are still there, but the alligator leather strap, day-date display and black and gold face give this a much more late night vibe – the sort of thing you'd wear having taken the chequered flag, done the champagne spray, showered off and headed out to celebrate rather than one for on the grid itself. Inside the calibre 5 automatic movement has a 38-hour power reserve.

3. Calibre E4

TAG HEUER

While most luxury Swiss companies held back in the face of the smartwatch boom, believing cogs and mainsprings would always trump Bluetooth and ECG sensors, Tag Heuer went all in. Its first “connected” model was released the same year as the first Apple Watch. Seven years on, its latest itineration, Calibre E4, is arguably the only serious Apple alternative. Battery life has been boosted by a third, a new workout function joins cycling, swimming and golf tracking with lessons from 3D motion-captured PTs, a feature that feels genuinely futuristic. You can toggle between digital and ‘real’ (ie: analogue) faces, too.

4. Formula 1

TAG HEUER

Unsurprisingly for a brand with such a rich motorsport heritage, the Formula 1 line has been a staple since the 1980s. Tag Heuer recently introduced a trio of bright racing-centric colourways into its offering: green, yellow and red. The new chronographs come in 43mm cases with PVD-steel tachymeter bezels and pushers at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock. All come on matching rubber straps, with the motif of a chequered flag on their casebacks.

5. Aquaracer Professional 1000 Superdiver

TAG HEUER

There’s been a race to the bottom for seriously deep, deep-diving dive watches (see also: Omega’s Ultra Deep, able to withstand depths of 6,000 meters). Since the world-record scuba dive stands at just 332.35 meters, the whole thing is faintly ridiculous – but maybe that’s the point. Most people don’t buy a Ferrari to drive it at 211mph. This 1,000 meter-diver is certainly handsome – black and orange details, sunray-brushed dial and a custom backlit case. It also comes with something not on the official specs – serious bragging rights.

6. Formula 1 X Red Bull Racing Special Edition

TAG HEUER

If any watch brand has earned the right to call product line "Formula 1", it's Tag Heuer. It has sponsored McLaren, Ferrari and Williams over the years, while its motorsport associations date back to 1968, when Jack Heuer signed a sponsorship deal with Swiss legend Jo "Seppi" Siffert. It is still the official timekeeper of the Monaco Grand Prix and the Automobile Club de Monaco. This new Red Bull Racing special edition chrono makes the connection explicit, deploying all the colours and graphic codes of the F1 team.

7. Aquaracer Professional 300

TAG HEUER

The newest iteration of the Aquaracer come with a number of spot-the-difference design tweaks that mark it out from its predecessors (the date window moves from 3 to 6 o’clock!). It’s also slimmer, with a better fit. These subtle improvements make it the nicest-looking dive watch in the Tag Heuer catalogue. Available in multiple colours, we like this all-blue with the sun-ray brushed dial – appropriate for a sporty dive watch.

8. Monaco

TAG HEUER

The iconic square-faced model as worn by Steve McQueen in Le Mans – and by Steve McQueen in Tag Heuer’s promotional material today. Available here in a black-on-stainless-steel-on-black colourway for something that looks a little more like a dress watch, while retaining some essential "Steve McQueen" DNA.

9. Aquaracer x Bamford Limited Edition

TAG HEUER

The UK’s leading watch customising company, Bamford Watch Department, teamed up with Tag Heuer in 2020 for this eye-catching Aquaracer. With its titanium case and bright orange details it harked back to classic sports models from the Sixties and Seventies – though the spec was entirely 21st century, of course. Boss George Bamford said they’d made “the ultimate tool watch”. He might have been right.

10. Indie 500

TAG HEUER

Another motorsport icon, this one inspired by the Carrera Panmericana, the Mexican/US border-to-border rally that ran for five years from 1951, often called The Most Dangerous Race in The World (at least 27 people died, including spectators, before it was shut down). It comes with a 42-hour power reserve and, as the name suggests, Tag Heuer’s leading Calibre 16 automatic movement.

11. Modular

TAG HEUER

The Calibre E is the current flagship Tag Heuer smartwatch, but this earlier Modular model has much to recommend it, featuring accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, heart rate monitor, Bluetooth, wi-fi and a whole suite of connected tech suitable for Android devices.

12. Autavia 60th Anniversary Flyback Chronograph

TAG HEUER

Tag Heuer excels at motorsport watches. But that’s not to say it can’t turn its hand to pilot’s watches, too. Its Autavia line has been around since 1933 and takes its name from a dashboard stopwatch engineered by the brand to meet the toughest ‘AUTomotive’ and ‘AVIAtion’ requirements. This anniversary model features an unusual flyback function, allowing you to rest the chronograph hand at the push of a button.

13. Carrera 02 160 Years Silver Limited Edition

TAG HEUER

Another handsomely designed anniversary model. The pops of colour – blue and red on the scale, yellow on the subdial, red on the central hand – set off the otherwise minimal design. The case back is engraved with “ONE of 1000” limited edition numbering.

14. Monaco Skeleton

TAG HEUER

In tribute to the first ever Monaco and its blue dial, Tag Heuer introduced a flurry of special blue touches to the iconic square watch earlier this year. The stand-out detail, though, is the skeletonised dial, which gives a glimpse at the inner workings of one of Tag Heuer’s best-loved styles.

15. Tag Heuer Connected Calibre E4 All Black 42mm

TAG HEUER

For better or for worse, fitness watches don’t have the best rep. But Tag’s Connected Calibre E4 manages to combine all the bells and whistles you’d expect – a smart interface, wellness and performance features and a whole host of sports tracking capabilities – with an enviable aesthetic. This option comes in matte black Sandblasted titanium, meaning there aren’t many smartwatches on the market that look better.

Originally published on Esquire UK

Rolex

Rolex’s founder, Hans Wilsdorf, was onto something when he made his company logo a crown—it has remained the king of watch brands for more than a century. Its enormous brand equity is partly because Rolex gives so little away, a key to its mystique. It's frequently ranked first in surveys of super-brands in the UK. And is resident in Forbes' list of the world's most powerful brands. Ask 100 people to name a luxury watch and most of them will say Rolex.

This reputation is not mere marketing—Rolex is Rolex because it makes peerless products. We love that so many classic Rolex models were made not just to look good but for specific, adventurous purposes. The GMT-Master, for example, was created for Pan-Am's pilots. Then experiencing a new phenomenon called jet-lag—they wanted a watch that showed two time zones simultaneously.

The Submariner was made for divers. The Milgauss was introduced in the Fifties as an anti-magnetic watch for people working in power plants, medical facilities and early nuclear research labs, where strong electromagnetic fields were present. Collectors are particularly passionate about Rolex sports models, which have long been associated with explorers, adventures and athletes. In addition to the famous James Bond Submariner, an early version of the GMT was worn by US flying ace Chuck Yeager as well as several astronauts.

Rolexes lend themselves to being dressed up and down more than other luxury watch brands. The company mastered the art of the design tweak: collectors wax lyrical over a different coloured bezel here or a bigger crown there. All this contributes to their collectability and value—if you're investing in a watch, buy a Rolex. According to Christie's, Rolexes gain value faster and more steadily than any other brand.

Wilsdorf had a gift for foresight. He bet on the wristwatch very early and each of his major innovations (putting a timepiece on the wrist, making it accurate, making it waterproof and making it automatic) helped create the modern wristwatch as we know it. The downside, some argue, is that Rolex varies its designs even less than other companies: and that’s saying something for the watch world, where a "revolutionary breakthrough" amounts to a new case size or deploying a slightly different type of gold. There is no Rolex tourbillon or sign of the zodiac complication. A 2019 Submariner resembles one from 50 years ago.

The counter-argument is that you don’t go messing with perfection. Instead of visible whistles and bells, the company concentrates on research and engineering, continually update the technology inside its watches on the quiet. A more common grumble is that Rolex’s are so hard to buy right now. Demand outstrips supply, at least for some models, while the aftershocks of the pandemic on supply chains is still being felt. None of this, contrary to one suggestion, is down to Rolex restricting supply.

On the other hand, the thrill of owning a Rolex is also in the chase—if you’re lucky enough to be able to buy one, chances are you’ll remember exactly when and where you were when you did so. In this way there is every reason to believe the Rolex crown will remain firmly in place for another hundred years, and beyond.

Rolex Air-King

Air-King. ROLEX

Often passed by in favour of the Submariner, the GMT-Master or any other of its flashier cousins, the Air-King is a wonderful watch. It is also one of Rolex’ more venerable lines, launched in 1945 as an entry-level model costing less than £100, around a third the price of a Datejust. One of many “Air” watches produced during World War II to honour RAF pilots—see also the long-forgotten Air-Lion, Air-Giant and Air-Tiger—its “King” name related to its size, a then-hefty 34mm—tiny by today’s standards.

The unusual mixing of the large 3, 6 and 9 numerals and the prominent minutes scale isn’t for everyone. Rolex is known for "classic" designs, cry the detractor but we remain firm fans at Esquire. Relaunched in 2022, the Air-King now comes with a redesigned bracelet, Rolex’s latest calibre 3230 movement and a more efficient gear train, giving it 70 hours of power reserve. Bonus trivia: it’s the only Rolex that uses the brand’s gold and green colour scheme.

£6,250

Rolex Day-Date 36 (2022)

Day-Date 36. ROLEX

Known as the “Presidents’ watch”—a mixed-blessing depending on who’s in charge, Biden took office in a Rolex though has recently become an Omega man—and still a signal you’ve “arrived” for a certain calibre of consumer. The day of the week spelt out in full at 12 o’clock divides opinion among watch snobs but it was no small technical feat when it debuted in 1956. New with an ice blue dial, a feature reserved for Rolex’s ‘950 platinum’ models, the ‘fluted’ bezel is another technical masterstroke, requiring “many years of research” to achieve in platinum, according to the brand.

£53,300

Rolex Submariner

Submariner. ROLEX

Anyone waiting for Rolex to release a completely new watch could be waiting some time. Rolex’s last new-new model was the Sky-Dweller (2012). Before that, the Yachtmaster (1992) and before that, the Sea-Dweller (1971).

Incremental tweaks to existing watch lines are what Rolex does—a business model that seems to be working out for them. It explains why news of a retooled Submariner, arguably Rolex’s single most iconic design, was one of the biggest watch releases of 2020—even though you’d need a microscope and a degree in horology to spot any updates, the first changes since 2008. (This one’s 1mm bigger, for example.) But the tweaks aren't insignificant. Inside, you get a new calibre (the 3230), an almost 50 per cent increase on the power reserve (up to 70 hours) and the latest escapement. In summing up: a fit-for-purpose 2020 Rolex, and a design classic that will outlive you.

£8,650

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36

Oyster Perpetual 36. ROLEX

Red and yellow and pink and green. Also: light blue. Rolex’s new Oyster Perpetual 36 comes in five colourful dials that represent something not always readily associated with the brand: fun. Anyone thinking Rolex has either (a) lost its mind or (b) suddenly decided to chase the youth vote needn’t worry. There is a precedent here, namely the brand’s so-called ‘Stella’ dials: poppy, hard enamel designs that appeared on its Day-Dates as the world turned rainbow-coloured in the early Seventies. They’ve subsequently become hugely sought-after. Watches at 36mm have a broad appeal, and these bright designs offer a welcome point-of-difference for anyone who finds Rolex’s more traditional line-up a tad too traditional.

£5,100

Rolex GMT-Master II ‘Pepsi’

GMT-Master II. ROLEX

A GMT Rolex is the ultimate globetrotter’s watch. In 1955, the iconic red and white 24-hour scale on the bezel was introduced. It earned the nickname ‘Pepsi’ (this black and blue version is known as the ‘Batman’). The most recent version in steel adds a state of the art movement and a dressier ‘jubilee’ bracelet. Other than that, the design has changed little in 60 years—though you can file this under timeless, rather than vintage.

£34,200

Rolex Explorer 40

Explorer 40. ROLEX

Sitting somewhere between a sports and a dress watch, the Explorer 40 was outfitted with calibre 3230, a self-winding mechanical movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. As the name suggests it was made for explorers and comes equipped with Paraflex shock absorbers for a higher shock resistance. But it’s really all about the handsomely proportioned dial, with its period detail numerals and matte finish.

From £6,450

Rolex Sky-Dweller

Sky-Dweller. ROLEX

There are statement watches, and then there’s the Sky-Dweller. The most complicated watch in Rolex’s arsenal, it comes with dual time and annual calendar functions. Previously available on a leather strap or an Oyster bracelet, this newer option comes on an Oysterflex bracelet—Rolex’s patented super-comfy design made up of a titanium and nickel alloy encased in black rubber. Also new is the option of Everose gold or 18k yellow gold. An upscale traveller’s watch might not be at the very top of everyone’s want list right now. But this is a stunning piece of kit to drool over, whatever timezone you happen to be trapped in.

£34,600

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41

Oyster Perpetual 41. ROLEX

In a line-up defined by headliners—the Daytona, the Submariner, the Explorer—it would be easy to leave out Rolex’s simplest offering. But if you wanted one watch that would look right with every outfit and in every situation for the rest of your life, that was distinctive without being flashy, this would be it. Though it has been around for decades, the Oyster Perpetual received an update in 2015 that included the a new 39mm case (up from 36mm), an oyster bracelet and an run of hand-finished dials in blue, grape red and dark rhodium.

£5,400

Rolex Cosmography Daytona

Cosmography Daytona. ROLEX

While you’d certainly be doing well if you stumbled across a vintage Daytona (Paul Newman’s 1968 model remains the most expensive wristwatch ever sold at auction, $17.8m in 2017), if you’re looking for the most advanced chronograph Rolex has ever produced then this recent version is a perfect blend of old and new. The hype, the history—everyone loves this watch.

£35,800

Rolex Submariner Date

Submariner Date. ROLEX

"Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date in Oyster Steel with Green Cerachrom Bezel and a Green Dial with Large Luminescent Hour Markers". Or, if you prefer: the Rolex Hulk. Introduced in 2010, it immediately fired the imagination of watch fans. The green isn’t just eye-catching, it’s fluid, going from bright to dark green in different light conditions.

£9,100

Rolex Datejust

Datejust. ROLEX

Probably Rolex’s most popular model. Released in 1945 to celebrate the watchmaker’s 40th anniversary, it also used the occasion to debut a new kind of bracelet—the now-distinctive "jubilee". The first wristwatch ever with a date that changed automatically, the name comes from one of Rolex’s trademark neologisms—the date changes just before midnight.

£6,800

Rolex Sea-Dweller

Sea-Dweller. ROLEX

When you're saturation diving, down in the depths of the ocean, you've got a lot of things to worry about. You're down there in a pressurised diving bell fretting about giant squid and the like. The last thing you need is your Rolex to give up the ghost. The gas mixture such divers breathe is mostly composed of helium. When helium get into the case they can start pushing it apart from the inside when the wearer returns to the surface. The Sea-Dweller is a companion piece to the Submariner, and arrived in 1967 as its beefier, techier, hardier little brother. The goal was to create a timepiece which could go deeper into the ocean. A smart helium valve in the case to release excess helium made that happen; first certified to 610 metres, then in 1978 doubled it to 1220 metres.

£11,500

Originally published on Esquire UK

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