Working on the moon
Special edition watch that celebrates a lunar mission
When Commander Dave Scott went to the moon onboard Apollo 15 in 1971 he took two wristwatches: his NASA-issued Omega Speedmaster; and his own personal watch, a prototype electronic chronograph made by the US company Bulova.
When Scott’s standard-issue watch stopped working, he was left with the Bulova, which he took with him as he explored the moon’s surface. This made it the first privately owned watch to go to the moon, and also the first watch to take a ride in the Lunar Rover, where it provided Scott with vital time checks during his journeys around the moon’s surface on what was his third and final space mission.
Other watches that went to the moon remained the property of NASA, meaning they never went on sale, nor are they likely to – unless for some reason the US government finds itself needing to sell off the family silver to raise money. The Bulova, however, remained Scott’s property, until it was put up for auction in 2015. Given its historical backstory, the watch was expected to achieve a healthy hammer price, but nobody quite predicted that it would sell for a whopping $1.6million.
With that sole example sold to the highest bidder, Bulova has provided an opportunity for those of less stratospheric means to get hold of the next best thing. The Bulova Moon Watch is a recreation of Scott’s watch, a re-edition made using modern techniques and materials.
A question of timing…or how to honour the Mille Miglia
Chopard has been the official sponsor of the Mille Miglia since 1988, and the Swiss brand is so deeply involved with the event that it is hard to imagine one without the other. This is in large part down to the personal enthusiasm of Chopard’s car-crazy co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, who runs the company along with his sister Caroline.
Karl-Friedrich is a regular participant in the event, often sharing a ride with old friend and Le Mans legend Jacky Ickx. It is no surprise that Chopard is joining in with the celebrations of Mille Miglia’s 90th birthday this year. Chopard’s Mille Miglia watches have long been a staple of the Swiss brand’s line-up, with watches presented to participants in the rally.
This year alongside the Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph there is a limited-edition celebration watch. The 90th Anniversary Limited Edition is the first Mille Miglia watch to have a hand-wound, in-house movement made in Chopard’s L.U.C manufacture – a bit like the racing division of Chopard, where the brand’s top-end Haute Horlogerie watches are made.
As well being driven by the top-grade engine, the 90th Anniversary model benefits from some upgraded bodywork, with a case made from 18-carat rose gold and an open case-back that allows the hand-finished movement to be admired at will. In addition to the Mille Miglia insignia on the dial and engravings on the back, there are touches that nod towards the watch’s automotive inspirations, like piston-inspired chronograph pushers, the petrol-cap crown and the dashboard-style elapsed-time subdials.
There is also a tachymeter scale, the perfect tool for measuring speed over a set distance – fitting for the Mille Miglia Storica of the modern era, where precise timing has taken precedence over absolute speed.
Bulova, which was founded in New York in 1875, became an early pioneer of electronic watches in the 20th century and continues to push the technology further today. The new Moon Watch is powered by a high-frequency quartz movement. This high frequency provides much greater accuracy than standard quartz watches – to within a few seconds a year, rather than a few seconds per month. It also allows the chronograph hand to sweep smoothly, rather than ticking out the seconds like most quartz watches.
How a speed-record legend united Rolex and Daytona
As an early example of celebrity endorsement, it was pretty hard to beat. In 1935 Sir Malcolm Campbell sent a telegram to Rolex that simply said: “Rolex watch worn yesterday during record attempt and still going splendidly notwithstanding rough usage received.”
Campbell broke the land-speed record nine times between 1924 and 1935, and from 1930 he drove his Bluebirds with a Rolex Oyster on his wrist. Five of Campbell’s records were set on the sand at Daytona Beach, Florida. Although Campbell’s final, 301mph record was set at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, he had helped Rolex forge a relationship with Daytona Beach that continues today.
When Utah took over as the venue for land-speed record attempts, motor sport at Daytona Beach took off in a different direction, with stock cars racing around a four-mile oval, with sand on one side and a narrow road on the other. This laid the ground for the birth of NASCAR at Daytona in 1948. In the mid-1950s, with the sand deteriorating, William France Sr, the founder of NASCAR, laid ambitious plans for a permanent circuit, which became the Daytona International Speedway (it opened in 1959).
France Sr was a fan of both Campbell and Rolex, and in the early 1960s he named the Swiss watch brand as the official watch of the Speedway. In 1962 the circuit hosted the first edition of the Daytona Continental, a three-hour sports car race that would subsequently become the 24 Hours of Daytona, later renamed the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The year after the launch of the Daytona Continental, Rolex brought out what was to become one of its most famous watches. The Cosmograph was a steel-cased chronograph designed for racing drivers, with subdials in contrasting colours to make elapsed time more legible, and a tachymeter scale around the bezel to allow average speed across a driven mile to be easily calculated.
Not long after the Cosmograph was launched the word Daytona began to appear on the dial of certain models and before long it was written on all of them, to the point that the watch is referred to simply as the Daytona. The watch very quickly gained a loyal following, with Paul Newman a famous fan. The particular version of the watch that the actor-turned-racing-driver wore has now become highly prized by collectors, with “Paul Newman” Daytonas fetching eye-watering prices whenever they come up for sale.
As Rolex’s association with motor sport has grown, so the Daytona has evolved over the years. At first the movement was hand-wound and provided by an external supplier; in 1988 it was fitted with a modified El Primero automatic-winding movement; since 2000 it has been powered by an automatic-winding movement that is made completely in-house.
The Daytona continues to be a very popular model for Rolex, with new versions released this year to great acclaim from journalists and buyers alike – and of course they continue to benefit from endorsements by celebrities who have long since retired to the great raceways in the sky.
The pilot’s watch with wide appeal
Four design principles have served Bell & Ross well
Bell & Ross has a habit of referring to its watches as ‘instruments’ and the company ethos is explained by four stated design principles: legibility, functionality, reliability and precision. That all sounds quite serious, as does the fact that Bell & Ross has supplied watches to bomb disposal teams, French air force pilots and specialist police squadrons. But happily, through the pursuit of rigorous functionality, Bell & Ross has also discovered its own unique style that has won many admirers beyond its professional buyers.
The most recognisable Bell & Ross design is the round dial over a square case – as seen in the BR 01-92 Carbon (see left). This shape has been around for most of the company’s 25-year history and has become synonymous with the brand. The shape was inspired by aircraft cockpit instruments and this BR 01 series of watches is designed to be worn by pilots, or anyone else who wants a big, no-nonsense watch that is readable with the quickest of glances.
But even before the BR 01 became the company calling card, Bell & Ross brought out its Vintage series of round-cased watches based on pilots’ watches from the 1940s. This year the series has been updated with three new watches – two three-handers and one chronograph. The Vintage collection may look markedly different to the other watches the company offers, but with the same high-quality Swiss mechanical movements and clearly legible dials, they still conform strictly to the Bell & Ross design principles. Which instrument most takes your fancy is just a matter of personal style.
Tudor: long may it reign
Rolex’s sister brand has a fine heritage all its own
For some years now, I have been considering the idea of making a watch that our agents could sell at a more modest price than our Rolex watches, and yet one that would attain the standard of dependability for which Rolex is famous. I decided to form a separate company, with the object of making and marketing this new watch. It is called the Tudor watch company.”
That quote from the Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf laid out a very clear plan for the creation of Tudor: it was to be a sister brand to Rolex that was more affordable, without sacrificing any of Rolex’s hard-won and well-deserved reputation for high quality.
While the plan may have been clear, as mission statements go it did not sound particularly exciting. But the reality of Tudor is very different, as it is a brand that has refused to live in its big sister’s shadow and in the last few years, in particular, has become one of the most talked-about watch brands around.
From the start, Wilsdorf was committed to making Tudor an innovative brand in its own right. The first watches appeared in 1932, but it was after the war that Tudor really got into its stride. The Tudor Oyster Prince was marketed in the early ’50s under the slogan ‘Jarred Beyond Belief’ in a campaign that explained how the watch had kept on ticking perfectly after it was subjected to such indignities as being worn during the prolonged operation of a pneumatic drill and ridden roughly for 1,000 miles by a motorcycle racer.
Tudor worked with the French navy while developing the diving watches that went on to cement its name. This led to the development of crown guards to prevent them being knocked and letting water in. Tudor even beat Rolex in producing the first Submariner that was water-resistant to 200 metres.
In recent years, early Tudors have become very collectible as interest in pioneering watches from this period has increased. In 2010 Tudor launched its Heritage collection, which borrows heavily from the back catalogue but benefits from all the technological advancements of recent years. These Heritage watches have been a huge success for the company, winning many new admirers who see Tudor as an exciting brand making some
of the best-looking watches money can buy. The fact that they sell for a relatively affordable price is a bonus.
The heights of good taste
Vintage watch values are rising – and then some
In this era of advanced technologies, where consumer products become obsolete within months, people are attracted to the enduring aspect of fine mechanical watches, which are built to last an eternity. The community of educated watch collectors continues to grow thanks to the rise of social media, influential blogs and specialist watch magazines. With their increasing coverage of watch auctions, more and more people are discovering the long-term value and appeal of collectible watches.
People want things money can’t easily buy, and finding exceptional vintage watches, preserved in great condition, is especially difficult. As a result, for the highest quality vintage watches, there is a relative shortage of supply. We simply can’t find enough to satisfy demand, with Phillips Auction House having to reject up 70 per cent of the watches proposed to us due to the level of mediocrity on the market.
Looking forward, it is rare vintage watches with history and provenance that we feel will continue to perform strongly. Stainless steel sports watches, especially chronographs and diving watches, remain highly sought after. We are also finding growing interest in yellow gold and factory gem-set sports watches by brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet. We are also seeing increasing demand for more accessible brands such as Omega, Heuer and Breitling, as collectors discover their high quality and great value. With the growing interest in Heuer watches, we’re eagerly anticipating our November sale The Crosthwaite & Gavin Collection of Heuer Chronographs.
The upcoming season follows what was a historic year for collectible watches, with many record-breaking results achieved. We were thrilled in November to sell the first wristwatch to break through the $10 million mark at auction with the legendary stainless steel Patek Philippe reference 1518 perpetual calendar chronograph. Although some might feel prices have reached their peak, we think that the market for vintage watches remains healthy and strong and that there is plenty of room for future growth.
Paul Boutros, Phillips, www.phillips.com
infused with racing spirit… and proven in the himalayas
The Swiss watch brand Certina has been associated with many sports over the years. It has been into sailing, hockey and boxing – the company is justifiably proud of a mid-1970s picture of Muhammad Ali showing off his new Certina. But the principle sporting endeavour that Certina straps itself to is motor sport.
Following involvements with bike racing and Formula 1, Certina has been the official timekeeper for the World Rally Championship since 2013 and is also partnered with the ADAC GT Masters series. It is the GT Masters that was the inspiration for the watch pictured on this page, the DS Podium Chronograph Lap Timer – Racing Edition.
The new watch, with its chronometer-certified quartz movement and split-lap chronograph, is described by Certina as a “zero-compromise timepiece”. This explains the philosophy of the brand that lives by the motto ‘Reliability, Precision and Innovation’.
The company was founded in the Swiss town of Grenchen in 1888 under the name Grana, before becoming Certina in the 1930s. From the beginning it was known for innovation, getting in early on the transfer of watches from pocket to wrist, and also making a mechanical digital watch as early as 1936.
In the 1950s Certina developed its DS, or Double Security, system, for its line of shock- and water-resistant watches. Those DS watches ended up earning their stripes when they survived all the tough conditions of pressure, temperature and altitude endured on a Swiss expedition to the Himalayas.
One of the most talked about watch releases of the year, the Autavia is a modern interpretation of a classic watch, brought out following a poll of TAG Heuer fans to see which piece from the back catalogue they would like to see revived. The original 1966 Autavia – famously worn by the F1 champ Jochen Rindt – went on to become a collectors’ favourite. The modern version has a 42mm stainless-steel case and chronograph with classic black-on-white “reverse panda” subdials. The Autavia is available on a brown leather strap (£3900) or a polished steel bracelet (£4000)
Techframe Ferrari 70 Years Tourbillon Chronograph
For Ferrari’s 70th birthday, its brand partner Hublot has produced an entirely new watch. This is no rebranded special edition, but a completely fresh piece that was, the company says “designed by Ferrari, crafted by Hublot”. The lattice-structured case, offering greater strength with lighter weight, was designed at Maranello under the leadership of Ferrari design chief Flavio Manzoni. Within the lightweight frame beats the heart of a brand new hand-wound movement with tourbillon and chronograph. £114,000
RM 50-03 F1 Tourbillon
The F1 is the first piece to emerge from Richard Mille’s partnership with McLaren. Despite being a very complicated mechanical watch, with a tourbillon and a split-second chronograph, the use of a proprietary graphene composite called Graph TPT – developed in conjunction with McLaren – the F1 weighs in at just 40g. A lightweight watch from a heavyweight watchmaker that manages to nudge the million-pound mark. £996,500
It is quite a thing to behold, this latest record breaker from Bulgari. It is the slimmest self-winding watch on the market, with a case thickness of just 5.15mm, within which there is movement just 2.23mm thick. It comes after Bulgari set records for the thinnest tourbillon watch in 2014 and the thinnest minute-repeater last year. The ultra-thin movement is powered by a micro-rotor made out of platinum to give the maximum weight from the smallest size. The Octo Finissimo has a titanium case and bracelet and is waterproof to 30 metres. £11,300.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph
When the first Royal Oak was introduced in 1972, it was such an audacious design that initially sales were not good. The world was just not ready for a big chunky steel sports watch from a grand-old company like Audemars Piguet. But in time the Royal Oak – with a case inspired by a diver’s helmet, complete with screws – became a classic and designer Gérald Genta would later describe it as his masterpiece. Countless iterations of the watch have been produced, and among the new versions this year is a chronograph with a pink-gold case and a brown alligator-leather strap. £30,800
When you add more complications to a watch, like an annual calendar or a chronograph, you add many more moving parts to the movement. But you also decrease the amount of dial-space available for the various functions to be displayed. With some watchmakers this can lead to clutter. But Patek Philippe did not get where it is today by allowing its watches to suffer from anything so vulgar as clutter. The ingenious use of space on this 5960 sees the chronograph 12-hour and 60-minute counters displayed below the centre of the dial, leaving plenty of space for the annual calendar above. A clever design, beautifully executed. £37,040
Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon
The Mysterious Double Tourbillon is a patented Cartier invention introduced in 2013. It consists of a tourbillon that “floats” on a one-minute rotation within a sapphire disk which itself rotates once every five minutes. As if that isn’t enough complication, this watch also contains the highest of high complications – a minute-repeater, which on-demand sounds out the time with a series of tiny but perfectly tuned gongs. This has a hand-wound movement and a 45mm titanium case. £POA
Superocean Heritage II
The Superocean diving watch was first launched in 1957 and went on to become one of Breitling’s most successful lines. For the watch’s 60th birthday, Breitling has unveiled a new range of Superoceans which all come with a new ultra-hard steel bezel. The new automatic-winding watches come in a range of colours, with steel cases that are either 42mm or 46mm in diameter, £3990.
C1 Morgan 3 Wheeler Chronometer
Last year the British brand Christopher Ward announced a partnership with Morgan, and now produces three watches, each taking inspiration from either the Morgan Classic, the Aero or the 3 Wheeler. Each watch is powered by a hand-wound, Swiss-made movement that is certified to chronometer standard. The collection was designed by Christopher Ward’s Adrian Buchmann in collaboration with Morgan chief designer Jonathan Wells, £2250
The young British brand Farer has earned widespread praise since launching its first range of automatic watches last year. New for this year is Farer’s first GMT watch, which comes with an additional time zone. Designed in the UK, the watch is fitted with a Swiss automatic movement housed in a 39.5mm stainless steel case and visible through the exhibition caseback, £1175
Master Control Chronograph
Recent pieces from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s classically styled Master collection have been some of the most understatedly beautiful watches released in recent years. The Master line was the first watch, when first released 25 years ago, to benefit from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s “1000 Hours Control” – a radical series of testing over a six-week period. This extreme quality control was subsequently extended to all Jaeger-LeCoultre watches. The Master Control Chronograph has a 40mm steel case and an in-house, automatic movement. £6,700
This German brand MeisterSinger is best known as the maker of handsome, one-handed watches. Telling time by hour-hand alone is a nod back to the days when early clocks – and before that sundials – made do without a minute hand. And with the MeisterSinger’s clear dial and five-minute markings, you can tell the time accurately enough. But the idea is that, by choosing a watch like this, you are taking a more relaxed approach to time and worrying less about the passing minutes. The NeoPlus is powered by an automatic Swiss movement, £1195
This new chronograph is a reinterpretation of a vintage Zenith design. The open caseback shows a beautiful modern development of Zenith’s El Primero movement, the pioneering self-winding chronograph that cemented the company’s relationship in 1969. It has a 38mm stainless-steel case and the sunray-patterned dial has a central chronograph hand with a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, £5,500.
Deakin & Francis
The family-owned jeweller Deakin & Francis was founded in Birmingham in 1786. Today it is run by brothers James and Henry Deakin, seventh generation descendants of the company founders. Specialising in cufflinks and other accessories, Deakin & Francis makes traditionally handcrafted pieces using a range of precious metals and stones. Stirling silver steering wheel cufflinks with hand-enamelled rim. £245