Monday, May 21, 2018

The Submarine Commander

From Tavannes -

Courtesy of Tavannes
This is an anniversary model from 2017.  Per Tavannes, the Submarine Commander was born from a request by two British submarine commanders during the Great War.  They needed a watch that would keep water out, be anti-magnetic, and a bold, highly legible face.  The case measures 41 mm in diameter, and is of stainless steel.  The movement is ETA's 2824-2 std.

Hours, minutes, seconds, date.  Water resistant to 100 meters / 330 feet.

Upon closer examination of the website, it appears that Tavannes watches are available in the US, but I was unable to find further info for locations outside the US.  Also worth noting, it appears that one of the key people involved in Tavannes is the President of the North American side, which at last report was Bruce Cummings, with the North American HQ being in Pennsylvania.  

It is nice to see Tavannes back in business, and it will be interesting to see what develops.



 

 


Saturday, May 19, 2018

30 Years Later

What constantly baffles me, and I feel that I can say this as a former (15 - 16 years) resident of California, why the Tour of California fails to deliver on its promise.  It is, sorry to say, a low rent option to the races that tend to run at the same time.  And this year it is coinciding with the Giro d’Italia.  While the Giro does tend to reside in the shadow of the Tour de France, in many ways it is a better race.  It's a bit more unpredictable.  The organizers tend to create a race that defies the preconceived notions of how a stage race should be laid out.  And that is what makes it so great.

This year also marks 30 years since American Andy Hampsten defied the odds and with his fellow journeymen from 7-Eleven, crept up the Gavia Pass in a near blizzard, and claimed the Maglia Rosa (that's pink jersey to you).  And where this all ties together with watches?  He and the entire 7-Eleven team wore watches from Tag Heuer.


So while the folks at Tag feel that sponsoring a (I'm sorry, but I've got to be honest here) truly hideous looking best young rider's jersey at a B level race and not sending any press about it is a better use of their marketing and pr money and efforts, I thought I would pick up the ball and air out this repeat. 


Remembering my First Tag Heuer and Team 7-ELEVEN

The year was 1990.  I was in my final year at the University of Oregon, and was visiting my father over the summer break.  I had one more term to go, and two days before I was set to head back to Eugene, my Bullova watch pooped out.  Trying to find someone capable of changing the battery was on par with finding an honest politician - it just didn't seem to be possible.  So on what must have been the fifth attempt to get a battery changed with no success, I looked down in the display case and saw what would become my first Swiss watch.  The Tag Heuer Formula 1, circa 1990.


I realize that we all had different introductions to Tag Heuer, and this was mine.  And out of necessity, a passion was born.

I have shamelessly borrowed this advertisement image from Calibre 11 - not directly Calibre 11, it was pulled-up via a Google search for images.  Hope you don't mind ; )
All of the models in this ad were available, but the one that went home with me was the third from the left, the red case, green strap and bezel - or as I came to refer to it - the 7-ELEVEN Tag Heuer Watch!
Borrowed shamelessly from the internet
Andy Hampsten and the 7-ELEVEN team were my cycling idols in the 80s.

And he was the first American winner of the Giro D'Italia back in 1988.
Courtesy, clearly, of someone else!
And the Tag Heuer connection to cycling (and my passion) went even further and was clearly shared by others, including one of the main voices of Tour de France television coverage today (at least here in the US) Bob Roll, a team mate of Hampsten's on team 7-ELEVEN.

Bob Roll on the left, Andy Hampsten on the right

Bob, or "Bobke" as he is often known is perhaps my all-time favorite cyclist.  Not because of his many wins in big-time races... let's face it, there weren't many!

Shamelessly borrowed
But Bob, Andy and the rest of the 7-ELEVEN team perhaps best embodied what Tag-Heur's motto is today - they did NOT "Crack under pressure".  No matter what the odds, Bobke put it all out there!

Courtesy of, clearly, someone else
Apart from Hampsten, and Davis Phinney, they were a team made up of journeymen dreamers.  Riders who had a sort of, "what the Hell, let's give it a go" attitude.  Keep in mind, this was the era of a certain fellow known as "the Badger" and a host of other cycling GODs.  But these guys threw their hats in the ring and gave it a go.  And in an age where US cyclists were viewed more as amateurs, they came to Europe and impressed the Europeans.

I got to meet one of my heroes in person when I was working for DOXA Watches and we presented him with a  Yellow DOXA Divingstar in San Francisco -



My identification with Tag Heuer went beyond just the 7-ELEVEN connection.  It was clearly a great brand with a great watch, but like team 7-ELEVEN people didn't just take that at face value.  Tag Heuer had to put in a lot of time and effort to get where they are today.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Marine Torpilleur Farfetch

From Ulysse Nardin -

Courtesy of Ulysse Nardin
Here are the pertinents, straight from the source -


Ulysse Nardin has chosen Farfetch.com for its first online launch, and presents a special edition of the blue Marine Torpilleur, exclusively available on the website of the international online luxury retailer. This new piece, with a subtly crafted dial, joins the ranks of the popular Marine Torpilleur that was launched in 2017 and is initially available in two more classic versions: a white dial with black indexes and a blue dial with white indexes. On the FARFETCH MARINE TORPILLEUR, you will find layered pink gold coloring. Sober and elegant, it gives a more refined look to the piece overall, accentuating the contrast with the 42 mm steel case. The pink gold brings out the dial’s shimmering, iconic blue. In the same vein, the pear-shaped hands are no longer rhodiumized, but pink gold colored. The power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock is no longer in vermeil red, but also made of pink gold, as is the case for the date of the Le Locle Manufacture’s creation, 1846. The indexes have a small additional touch: the immaculate white has been discreetly transformed into light gray, to soften the dial’s overall look.

This new FARFETCH MARINE TORPILLEUR, available with a leather, steel or rubber strap, completes a collection which is already a best-seller. This new addition to the permanent collection, only available online, now forms part of the troop of Torpilleurs.

References: 

1183-310/43-RG
 

Movement: 
Caliber UN-118, 13 ¾‘’’ Manufacture Movement 
Oscillator: Patented inertial balance wheel I 10 with silicium hairspring
Power reserve: 60 hours
Winding: Automatic

Functions:

C.O.S.C. chronometer with power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock.
Direct small seconds and large date at 6 o’clock.
Front and back date corrector.

Case:
Stainless steel

Bezel:
Stainless steel

Dial:

Blue with pale gray roman numerals

Crown:
Screw-down

Diameter:

42 mm

Water resistance:
50 m

Crystal:
Sapphire with anti-reflective coating

Back:

Sapphire

Strap:
Leather / stainless steel / rubber with a folding clasp






Thursday, May 17, 2018

Richemont Drops the Baume


Courtesy of Baume
Baume is a new brand spun out by Richemont this past week.  And I have to be very honest here - this was a beautiful, wonderful idea.  A watch brand that sought to position itself as a less flamboyant, more down to earth enterprise that would work hard to embrace eco-friendly ideals, that was, sadly, not executed very well.  If we are to take the concept of Baume at face (or PR pitch) value, it is meant to be a less expensive watch collection that speaks to Millennials and/or hipsters due to it's (by comparison) low entry level price and purported goal to offer an "upcycled" watch that contains potentially recycled and environmentally friendly materials.  And in principle, again, I love the idea. 

Sadly, the execution is lacking, and the actual communication of the brand and its ethos is not helping.  Hand to heart, word to God - I really do love the idea.  But, unfortunately, it is just that...  
a very charming, (we hope) sincere idea.  But it is also one that underscores what is really wrong with the watch industry as a whole, and the big groups in particular - FEAR.  Fear that if you take even a moderate stand (no more crocodile or alligator skins) you will suddenly lose market share.  Fear that if you try anything different with your established brand, you will lose market share.  Fear that if you take an existing brand, and try to help it rediscover where it was always meant to be (a more realistic price point), you will lose market share.

Baume & Mercier could very easily have said - "You know what?  Those videos of the poor animals being skinned alive to make handbags and watch straps and shoes that will be thrown away after one year were pretty bad.  How about we say that we won't use that material for our watch straps any longer?  We can still use leather, but let's do things that are elegant and ethical?"  

And in truth, that is a tone that not just Richemont, but every brand could take.  

But getting back to Baume, the price points while low for Richemont, are startling steep for the watch itself.  This is brought into sharp focus when considering that $560 buys the quartz (Ronda) versions, and nearly double that will get you the "Iconic"  41 mm automatic version (Miyota).  And this was another particularly baffling choice given the glut of Swiss mvts. currently available, and is somewhat anathema to the notion of cutting down on carbon footprints created by unnecessary shipping.  Unless Citizen is now manufacturing movements in the European Economic Community ; )

Customization is a big part of the marketing pitch as well.  And if I am being fairly honest, it is not really as diverse as it could be, and I while I did search for automatic version customization options, I was only able to select from Quartz options.

I am trying to imagine what the pitch meeting was like to come up with this brand concept.  My suspicion is that comparisons were drawn to some truly interesting micro brands that are using Miyota.  And I have no doubt reference was made to Daniel Wellington. 

I guess what this all boils down to me is what I can best describe as a "test case" for Richemont.  Not tons of effort on the press communication front (granted, outlet X got their usual exclusive and gave the anticipated levels of appropriate praise), but otherwise, not a lot of chatter.  

Baume is, in many ways, trying to approach two markets.  The Daniel Wellington crowd, and the idealist.  Both are very real, very tangible markets, but (forgive the pun) only time will tell if this test balloon flies.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

JUVO's Limited Edition Watch Boxes

Something fun to keep your watches in!

Courtesy of Juvo

Already known and appreciated for their winders, Juvo has taken the next step with their new series of watch boxes.  Some with a fun element, such as one dedicated to your pilot's watches (above and below) -

Courtesy of Juvo

And one for the desk divers out there -

Courtesy of Juvo

Both boxes are born out of a collaboration with Teun van Heerebeek of Watches and Pencils.  The box above features a Desk Diver illustration, and the one above it is with a Red Baron (Flieger) illustration. 

Both the boxes are limited to 100 pieces each, and retail price is $299 USD.