For 2012, Swarovski gets three new watch families, all for men. My favorite is the Octea Abyssal Automatic - which is essentially a male version of the Octea Sport that is a super-looking watch for women. The toughest thing that these watches have going for them is the Swarovksi swan logo. You see it on the dial, on the crown, and on the case back. I guess the logo can grow on you, but it isn't very masculine - not that it was ever designed to be.
Swiss watch brand Fortis has expanded their private label business to North America in partnership with their regional distributor the Gevril Group. Private label watches are those that have your own marking, logo, or image on the dial next to the Fortis logo. This is in contrast to white labeled watches which only have your logo printed on them (and not the producer).
With such a large size, the 50mm wide 5011 movement needed a large case if it was to be in a wristwatch. Hence the size of the Type 20 timepieces. Functionally the movement has the time, subsidiary seconds dial, and a power reserve indicator. Without that last feature I would not have taken it as seriously. The movement also has double balance springs. This is an important accuracy feature, but is difficult to notice from images. You can see that the escapement mechanism has double fine adjusters on the movement. With 48 hours of power reserve, the caliber 5011 (which Zenith actually called the 5011K in the Type 20) is also COSC Chronometer certified. A very cool movement to have in a watch like this, and according to Zenith it is among the most accurate production movements ever made in a wrist watch.
A fair question to ask is whether each private product contains the same security features as those granted to the military and government. The answer is more or less yes, but Brown Safe can't really discuss it. Video and details on the construction of their products can theoretically compromise security. It is an ironic double-edged sword for a product maker. That being; if they want to provide the most secure product possible, they must keep its details private. Having said that, Brown Safe is more than open about what their safes are made out of, and the type of security to expect.
Inside the GP Foudroyante Rattrapante (say that five times fast) is an in-house made Girard-Perregaux Caliber 8020 automatic movement. The case of the watch is highly polished with brushed sides and I like the no frills caseback which is just a nice piece of polished steel. Attached to the watch is a fitted reptile strap for a nice refined look. There is a lot to like about this incredibly unpretentious high-end timepiece. Price isn't that bad either considering the complications and the brand. Another upside is that this is a chronograph mechanism you'll love to use because watching it in action is so fun. Brands like Jaeger-LeCoultre even built watches with constant foudroyante hands because some people like watching them all the time.
Jewelling 23 jewels
Lately Graham USA sat down with me and we were able to chat. I learned a lot about you Graham, and was able to have a little bit more of an intimate experience with your watches. Yes, that is as racy as it sounds. Nothing like a steam room with nothing but oversize watches sticking to your skin. That latter part may not have happened… or maybe it did.
I'm not a big fan of integrated bracelets, because they make it very difficult to wear a watch with any other strap. Though this might just be a negative for me. At the same time, an integrated bracelet does add a custom look to a watch. Having said that, from the look of the lugs on this Rado, a semi-custom strap should be doable. The case shape is a tribute to designs from the 1970's, and I'm still not sure what I think of it.
Two of my favorite features, which are new in this model, are the oysterlock with easylink clasp and the ceramic bezel. First, the clasp. It is secured with two locks, the first to close the bracelet and the second to lock it with a fall over gold buckle adorned with the Rolex crown logo. It is by far my favorite clasp on a steel bracelet watch as it is comfortable yet very secure. It has a feel that you must wear to understand… simply superb.
The hardness of titanium is lower than some steels, so it scratches easier than most steel. However, titanium is much much harder than gold, platinum and aluminum. Coatings can improve the hardness of titanium as well, and there are many coatings out there that we might cover in another article. Grade 5 titanium has around 35 Rockwell C (Rc) hardness. Steels have a range of hardness from low values all the way up to 55 Rc for hardened carbon steels to 65 Rc for tool steels and even higher for special steels used for knifes (e.g. D-2 tool steel, S30V knife steel). Gold, platinum and aluminum are so soft that they are usually not even shown on the same Hardness scale (there are many hardness scales).
On and off, Ventura models have been in the Hamilton collection for years. The Ventura XXL that was released a few years ago was meant to be a larger, more modern version of the classic. It is 46mm by 45.5mm in size and comes here in a polished steel case. The design of the 2012 model is almost identical to that of the outgoing Ventura XXL limited edition model, but this is in polished steel versus PVD black coated steel. There is also a similar new model called the Ventura Medium. It comes in men's and women's versions and is 32.30mm by 50.30mm in size - shaped more similarly to the original.
For a solidly made Swiss watch at a price that won't make most people's heads spin around, Hamilton is one of the few good options. In fact, between Hamilton, Tissot, Certina, and Longines, the Swatch Group has the sub ,000 Swiss made mechanical watch market almost cornered. This Hamilton Cushion in the Jazzmaster collection is a solid mechanical watch buy for under ,000.
The most basic model will be a 40mm wide Ball BMW watch with a simple dial that includes a large BMW logo. This model to me looks the most like IWC's Ingenieur timepieces. Other models add in colors and textures to the dial for a look that is meant to go with the sportiest BMW car models. One thing that I really like about this watch and car maker relationship is that the watches are priced to be affordable by owners of the cars. We have seen situations where car watches cost as much or more than the cars themselves. I always thought that was quite silly. Reports indicate that there will be over two dozen watches including variations of the Ball BMW watches available by the end of 2012.