New Watches: Fortis, Urwerk, Vertex, Christopher Ward and Others

Posted by Robert Farago on September 21, 2020

Fortis Flieger F-39 – $3400

“This is not a pilot’s watch,” Fortis proclaims on its website. “It is a piece of time.” It’s pizza time? But seriously, why call the F-39 a flieger and flee from the facts? Sure, fliegers have two dots on either side of the 12 o’clock triangle, but who’s zoomin who? Anyway, new watch alert! The new Fortis Flieger F-39 is a brutally handsome and, above all, legible timekeeper. Better yet . . .

It’s built like a brick Scheißhaus. No transparent caseback peep show here. Just a 39mm stainless steel screwdown case engraved with a fliegeriffic propeller. Fortis ain’t sayin’ which movement donated its bits to their UW-30 engine, but it’s been modded for durability. Another $500 buys a bigger dial on a steel bracelet, but the sustainably produced vegetable tanned leather strap better suits the tool watch vibe. Tool watch. Not pilot’s watch. M’kay?

Unimatic X Mihara Yasuhiro U1-MY2 LE – ?

Now there’s something you don’t see everyday. In fact, there’s something you can’t see. Italy’s Unimatic teamed-up with Japanese designer Mihara Yasuhiro for this post-modern monochromatic diver’s watch. It combines a white matte dial with white indices (with white Super-LumiNova) surrounded by a white rotating bezel and steel case (courtesy Cerakote), attached to a white calf leather strap.

The white time is the right time thanks to a Seiko NH35A automatic running at 21600 bph with a 41h power reserve and hacking seconds. The accuracy isn’t stellar (-20/+40 seconds a day), but the watch is water resistant to 300m. And entirely legible at night. The not dissimilar Unimatic UF-1 runs $525, so this statement piece shouldn’t cost much. And sell out like that.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Suburbia –  $858,500 

Twin titanium tourbillons may balance out the Excalibur’s design but it does zip in terms of accuracy. Which isn’t the point. It’s all about the Benjamins. I’m O.K. with that. aBlogtoWatch isn’t. “Roger Dubuis openly describes the watch as ‘the ultimate totem for a tribe of people who trust that life is but a game that is for making the most of’ — in other words, those who successfully (and often egregiously) exploit others.”

Pot calling kettle black? Anyway, you’re looking at an 18k white gold 45mm watch adorned with 600 tetrahedron-cut diamonds and deep blue sapphires affixed with sufficient craftsmanship to earn the Geneva Seal. The RD108SQ movement’s good for 72 hours of power reserve. Roger calls the watch an example of “Hyper Horlogerie.” We call it Hyper Bling. Or just plain hype.

Urwerk UR-220 – $160k

Urwerk watches are notably gem-free. They justify their astronomical price with high-tech design using high-tech materials. Urwerk fashions the new watch’s lug-free case from 81 layers of carbon thin-ply composite in a circular pattern – creating far more visual interest than its predecessor and “slimming down” to 14.8mm. The ribbing at the bottom of the “dial” is also welcome and new, if not the ribbing its owner will take from Patek owners.

The caseback reveals the time left before an “oil change.” Given the unknown but no doubt expensive cost of servicing the UR-220 – you’d like insure this package for how much? – it should Bluetooth to your accountant. The rubber strap is also new and semi-ironic – the UR-220 is only water resistant to 10m. Still, the UR-220 offers enough spizzarkle to make UR-221 owners jelly. Do they do trade-ins?

Vertex Bronze 75 – $3k

Old new watch alert! Seems like just yesterday that everyone and their mother was bringing out a bronze watch, with the Tudor Black Bay Bronze leading the charge. The unique selling point: the case oxidizes over time, creating an “aged” patina. Vertex comes late to the party with a new old design that will eventually become an old-looking new old design. Go figure.

Vertex’s “tribute” to the watch they produced for the British military in 1944 and 1945 is a modern size timepiece (40mm), attached to a reproduction A.F.0210. military strap, powered by a top grade ETA 7001. The solid caseback and dial display the up arrow indicating [pretend] military issue. Fauxtina haters need not apply and it’s a bit dear, but what price bronze age nostalgia?

Yema Superman Bronze Black GMT – $749 (Kickstarter)

A lot less money for bronze here – and you get a new in-house caliber with a GMT function. We’ve review two Yema’s (five-star Flygraf here, four star Navygraf Heritage here), both of which were superb value-for-money propositions. Available in either 39 or 41mm, the new watch dives to an deeply admirable 990 feet and offers the proprietary Superman bezel-lock at 3 o’clock, found on all Superman models since 1963

Yema claims the Kickstarter-funded YEMA3000 GMT Caliber is accurate to +/- 10 seconds per day. The “it’s not a ETA or Miyota” bragging rights are incontrovertible (comparison chart here). As is the fact that your Superman will have to fly back to France for servicing. The movement will make its way into other models; this one’s a limited edition of 1948 pieces that’s sure to sell out. As a bronze watch it will fade, but not fade away.

Hublot 40th Anniversary Black Ceramic LE – $10,400

I was going to pass on passing on this putting this watch in today’s new watch alert. The titanium, gold and steel versions are boring AF and the date window sticks out like the Pope at a craps table. The black ceramic whispers “buy me” minimalism. The Darth Vader aesthetic makes the titanium H screws a feature not a bug. That said, the misaligned screw at 8 o’clock screams DON’T DO IT at my OCD.

For the history minded, “the Brand’s creation of a gold watch on a rubber strap in 1980 broke with conventional codes and laid the foundations for its own vision of Haute Horlogerie.” The 40th Anniversary models are updated with the Hublot’s HUB1112 (base Sellita SW300-1) behind a transparent caseback. Oh, and the original Hublot Fusion’s 12 conventionally shaped,  solid gold case screws doubled as indices. And they were perfectly aligned.

Swatch SILVERWAKATI – $70

Swatch collectors! New watch alert! Sell! Swatch’s re-issue of their 1983 debut timepieces is gonna ding the original versions’ value. Meanwhile, a message to Swatchistas who weren’t born when ETA created the first plastic fantastic watch (a Hail Mary in the middle of the quartz crisis): the debut Swatches were 34mm. As is this one. Go small or go home.

Given the wild designs of current line, it’ll be interesting to see if this restrained timepiece finds favor. Today’s Swatch is all about bold designs and computerized personalization (within prescribed limits). If you’re a minimalist, you might even say Swatch lost their way – even as they saved the entire Swiss watch industry. Which could use a bit more saving right about now. Just sayin’ . . .

Ralph Lauren Polo Watch Collection – $1,650 to $2,150

When HoDinkee can’t say anything nice about a watch, there’s nothing nice to say. You know those speech balloons over a comic character’s head? Danny Milton’s “initial thoughts” are an empty bubble. Allow me . . . New watch alert! At best, Ralph Lauren’s “polo” watch is kitsch. At worst, it’s tacky. To paraphrase legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, the Polo logo isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.

The 42mm self-proclaimed “fashion watch” runs on the RL200 caliber – a Sellita SW300-1 with a Ralph Lauren-branded rotor and Côtes de Genève stripes. Cost of the actual movement? About $300. The rest of your money buys you 100m water resistance and a steel bracelet of unknown quality. The Jaeger-leCoultre’s Reverso is the real polo watch, but reality is no match for RL’s relentless refashioning of WASP gestalt. Much to the delight of Chinese counterfeiters.

Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 600 – $845

Instead of spending a grand-and-a-half for a faux dive watch with a prancing pony, how about using the readies for a real diver with a zirconia ceramic bezel, leaving enough lucre to buy Muffy and the girls a round of champers? The C60’s lacquered, equine-free dial boasts brushed and polished indexes. It’s circumnavigated by a redesigned hour hand that’s a “bold arrow contrasting against its baton-shaped minute partner.” Sounds like a party to me.

The C60’s engraved screwdown caseback shelters a Sellita SW200-1, good for +/- 20 seconds per day accuracy and 38 hours of power reserve. We’ve gone hands on with Mr. Ward’s C65 Trident Diver and not found it wanting. There’s every reason to believe the C60 can take it to the (600m) limit one more time. Fashion victims may not agree, but even on terra firma Christopher Ward is the chukker champion’s best bet.

Accutron Legacy “521” LE – $1450

New watch alert! Accutron’s offering authentically-sized recreations of its 1960’s watches in their new Legacy collection (again, collectors will be a LOT less than thrilled). Bulova’s decision to power the pieces with a Sellita-based automatic movement is so wrong it’s astounding. The name Accutron was coined for the Bulova’s battery-powered movement that kept time via a tuning fork driven by an electromagnetic coil system. This is like putting a modern turbo four into a reproduction 1963 split window Vette.

The asymmetrical model above – 32.8 x 32.5mm – is a recreation of the 521. The original lured celebs with a 14k gold case. The “gold-tone” stainless steel incarnation is both overpriced and underwhelming. The early 521’s weren’t water resistant, whereas its ancestor is good for unlimited handwashing (50m). Bottom line: an Accutron that doesn’t hum, that doesn’t have a sweeping second hand, doesn’t deserve the name.

TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph – $5,350 

TAG Heuer knocked it out of the park with this one. It’s not retro, exactly, but it’s faithful to the simplicity and utility of its horological forebears. By simplifying the small seconds hand “subdial,” the designers created a hugely legible bi-compax chronograph. At the same time, the indices-less space renders the date window [largely] inoffensive. Not to mention right-sized hands and the blessed lack of a tachymeter and external bezel.

The Carrera’s luminous hands are powered by TAG’s in-house Calibre HEUER 02. Launched in 2018, the temporal engine is thinner than its predecessor and offers a massive 80 hour power reserve. The column wheel, vertical clutch chrono measures down the quarter second, and/or up to 12 hours and 30 minutes. The Carrera’s not COSC-certified, so ultimate accuracy is not the thing. Beauty, as always, is.

Which are your favorites?

Which of these week’s new watch releases do you have your eyes on? Let us know in the comments!

This article was republished with permission from TheTruthAboutWatches.

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Gruppo Gamma is an independent brand from Singapore that has gained a cult following among tool watch enthusiasts. Enter to win this brand new Divemaster, with a retail price of $950! Five additional winners will receive a strap of their choice from StrapHabit.com.

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