New Watches this Week: Zenith, Another Omega Dark Side, A Kid’s Smartwatch, and Others

Posted by Robert Farago on August 04, 2020

Zenith Elite Classic – $12,600

“You can trust your car to the man who wears the star,” Texaco used to tell drivers. I don’t trust my car to anyone but I would trust Zenith to make a dress watch. And so they have. Why anyone would buy the Elite instead of the strikingly similar, fanatically perfect $7600 Grand Seiko SBGY003? New watch alert! The 40mm Zenith is slightly larger, made from gold and has a date window. How great is that?

The Elite Classic’s powered by “the quintessential automatic movement.” That would be Zenith’s “irreproachable” Elegance Automatic Elite Calibre 670 SK, found throughout their Defy line. Not Zenith’s legendary El Primero movement, then. To be fair, the Elite’s engine is a lot thinner with the same 50 hour power reserve. The fact that Zenith doesn’t show the caseback tells you something about their priorities. Mine is to press on . . .

OMEGA Speedmaster Moonwatch Team Alinghi LE – $10,800

A Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon for sailing? That “perfectly reflects the fast boats that fly across the water”? True story. The modded Moonwatch sports a sub-dial with a spinning logo that no one save [both] diehard sailing fans will recognize. “It was a racing watch built to calculate speed by measuring time over distance,” aBlogtoWatch prevaricates. “Even in this application, it can certainly still excel.”

To excel, to stop the Team Alinghi ceramic watch from snagging on a Halyard (apparently), the timepiece combines the Apollo 8’s jumbo size case (44.25mm) with OMEGA’s relatively svelte manually-wound cal. 1865 (rather than a Dark Side-standard Co-Axial calibre 9300). The sailing watch costs a grand more than the Apollo 8, because sailboat owners can afford it. It’s a limited edition but I wouldn’t worry about availability.

Franck Muller Vanguard Revolution 3 Skeleton – POA

What’s better than one tourbillon? Two! What’s better than two? Three! You gotta hand it to Franck, this watch makes the OMEGA sailing watch seem like a sensible choice for cave diving. While a tourbillon is as useful on a rear wing on a Kia Rio, at least the VR3S isn’t as ugly as the $3m Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 8888 MGA T CCR QPS. (What is?) But if you’re going that way, go spinning or go home! Like this:

“The triple axis tourbillon of the new Vanguard Revolution 3 Skeleton corrects the force of gravity in all positions,” Muller reassures anyone thinking of swapping out an unadjusted pocket watch. “This complex system of carriages is a technical marvel, the result of one of the most complex creations in Haute Horlogerie.” Alternatively, you could buy a flying tourbillon. Or a small plane.

Norquain Independence 20 LE – $2,999

New watch alert! The Independence 20 signals Norquain’s newfound dependence on movement maker Kenissi. That’s the company that created the new, shared “in-house” movement for Breitling and Tudor, that now supplies Chanel with its engines. Christened Calibre NN20/1 for the Independence, the COSC-certifiedmovement boasts a “weekend proof” 70-hour power reserve.

To differentiate itself from its brothers-under-the-skin, the Independence 20 offers a date-free forest green dial with an each-piece-unique scratched surface. The red-tipped seconds hand provides a pop of contrasting color and there’s a little plaque on the side for custom engraving. Norquain promises a jumping hours GMT version with the same movement for next year. If you like this LE, go ahead and jump.

Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback Chronograph – $8,700

The Manero may bring to mind Tony Manero, but Carl’s chronograph is far more stylish than John Travolta’s disco diva. All hail CFB for going bi-compax – if you’re putting a big ass date window on a 43mm chrono, a pair of subdials is the right answer. The fifty millionth entry into the steel sports watch category also gets props for priapic pistons masquerading as pushers.

The new watch alert amongst you will note the word “flyback.” It’s accomplished here by modifying an ETA 7750, substituting column-wheel control for a lever-and-cam mechanism. Which should make timing multiple pots of boiled eggs a far more satisfying experience. I’d told the transparent caseback reveals blued screws, but images of same are hard to come by. As is a more handsome Swiss chrono for the price.

VESUVIATE Doppio – $495

HoDinkee’s COO may consider Asian watch production inferior to unionized Swiss labor, but Mr. Yap Kong Wong begs to differ. While I wish he’d looked up the word “vesuviate” at urbandictionary.com before launching his Kickstarter campaign, I give Mr. Wong credit for coming-up with a unique selling point: five-layers of quarter-wavelength interference coatings for “low reflectance over a wide spectral band.” The Hamilton Murph really needs this.

Assuming the campaign comes to fruition, Mr. Wong’s watch will feature a “thermos-chemical” hardened case and an off-the-shelf automatic Miyota 9015 gold gilt movement. I’m particularly enamelled – I mean enamored by the combination of the 1-2-3-etc. ceramic bezel and the Tudor-ish indices. As always with Kickstarter, only invest if you’re prepared to wait a long time for a quality piece. And that’s the best case scenario.

Glashütte Original SeaQ – $10k

Before the SeaQ surfaced, I thought of Glashütte Original as an A. Lange & Söhne wannabe. Glashütte’s resurrected dive watch endowed the German watchmaker with horological Uberholt PrestigeBig, bold and brick shit house, the SeaQ makes Lange’s Odysseus look like a 99-pound weakling. Two problems: the SeaQ was a tad steroidal (43mm) and the date window barely hung on at the 4 o’clock.

New watch alert! The new SeaQ is a Goldilocks-sized 39.5mm and the date window’s moved up in the world. While they were at it, Glashütte matched the window background with the dial and added applied indices inlaid with Super-LumiNova. It’s still a proper DIN 8306 and ISO 6425 diver’s watch, powered by their magnificent in-house 39-11 caliber auto. The SeaQ’s no longer a vintage timepiece. It’s a true classic. Blue sunburst dial? Yeah baby!

Bell & Ross BR V2-94 Aeronavale Bronze – $5,200

For those of us who remain new watch alert, bronze watches are so last month (e.g., the Oris Hölstein Edition 2020 LE). But don’t discount the appeal of a 41mm Bell & Ross made out of CuAl7Si2 (though B&R dealers might). The stabilized metal “changes over time – as if by magic!” I think the word they’re looking for is “oxidizes.” Anyway, the BR V2-94 is a perfectly legible bi-compax chrono ready to go for a swim.

As you can see, the color scheme “subtly reflects the prestigious ceremonial uniform of water-borne cheese eating surrender monkeys French naval officers. Its hands are motivated by the BR-CAL.301 (ETA 2894-2 base). The temporal engine’s a hardy little thing, beavering away behind a sapphire caseback. Like the SeaQ, the date window color matches the dial. It’s not a Glashütte, but quand on a pas ce que l’on aime, il faut aimer ce que l’on aAnd there’s a lot to love.

Tobi Robot Smartwatch – $54.49

“How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?” Judy Garland asked parents of soldiers returning from World War I. By the same token, how are you going to get the next generation to read/wear/buy an analogue watch after they’ve worn a touchscreen Tobi Robot Smartwatch from the tender age of four?

Tobi – blessed with over 100 expressions – encourages kids through 50 games, teeth brushing and fitness. It take pictures and video (hello Apple?) and geo-locates the sprogs for helicopter parents. Of course it’s tough and waterproof. It might also be as annoying as Barney the Dinosaur, but as Tobi’s sold by Little Tikes, we can assume he/she/it/they will be equally anodyne. Can’t wait for the fundamentalist Christian version.

SuperGroupies Death Note Watch – $178

“Yagami Light is an ace student with great prospects, who’s bored out of his mind,” animenewsnetwork.comreveals. “One day he finds the ‘Death Note’: a notebook from the realm of the Death Gods, with the power to kill people in any way he desires.” Sounds like fun! I’m not sure how much play value you get from a timepiece with a hidden compartment, but manga fans gotta manga.

The caseback should tell you something. And I’m sure it does. What, I have no idea. But I have a sneaking suspicion that the watch is quartz powered, attached to a steel bracelet that’s at least as cheap, flimsy and downright nasty as anything Seiko dares put on a timepiece. Still, the chrono looks legible. So there is that.

Vandaag Schallmauer – $325

Schallmauer means “sound barrier” in German. Hence the embossed jet on the sealed caseback and a promo video featuring a single engine airplane. Wait. I’m pretty sure the airplane below has about as much chance of breaking the sound barrier as I do during my evening promenade. Anyway, Vandaag’s 42.5mm “black beast” chrono  is a comely creation – even if the date window suggests the watchmaker’s behind the 8 ball.

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