Providing the most traditional take on a Pilot watch we have the Morgan, with a black dial and minute markings taking priority over the hour track. Each 5 minute segment is marked with Arabic numerals with the hours appearing on the inner ring. A radial texture is used on the outer portion of the dial, providing a subtle differentiation from the inner dial. The broadsword hands are white with a bright blue outline, while the seconds hand gets the Farer “A” in red. The bits of color provide some drama to the otherwise classic dial. Super Lumi-Nova is used at the minute markings and within the hands, again providing more than enough night time visibility.
Finally, we have the Cayley. This watch brings oversized Arabic and Roman numerals together in a California dial configuration set against a rich midnight blue dial. The dial is split into quadrants via subtle crosshairs. Like the other models, the Cayley is labeled with the Farer universal branding at 12 o’clock, and a single line reading ‘automatic’ at 6 o’clock. Unlike the others, there is no inner ring present, so the placement of the ‘automatic’ in particular feels very high. The gulf of negative space underneath may be troublesome, but as we saw with the date placement on the Crooms Bezel, it brings some personality to the watch that will likely cause a ‘love it or hate it’ type reaction.
TAG Heuer’s Monaco marked its 50th birthday in 2019, but the Swiss watchmaker is carrying on the celebration of its iconic square-cased chronograph into 2020 with the launch of three new models, two of them mounted on steel bracelets designed to evoke the ones used in the 1970s.
The Monaco Chronograph Heuer 39 mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic offers two distinct dial options, one in bold black with a sunray-brushed finish, the other in lustrous, sunray-brushed blue, with red and white details, for a look reminiscent of the original Monaco from 1969. Both these models feature the iconic square subdials at 3 and 9 o’clock (for elapsed hours and minutes), small seconds and date window at 6 o’clock, and a red central chronograph seconds hand, and are presented on the new stainless-steel bracelet. The third model pairs the black dial with with a black leather strap.
Inside the stainless steel, squared 39-mm cases of all three watches is the automatic Heuer 02 movement, beating at a 28,800-vph frequency behind a sapphire caseback and amassing a lengthy power reserve of 80 hours. The movement, which is equipped with a column wheel-driven chronograph mechanism with a vertical clutch, is the first fully in-house caliber to be installed in a Monaco timepiece.
The main talking point here, however, is the stainless-steel bracelet, which is the first to be used on a Monaco in nearly 20 years. This one takes its cue from an H-shaped-link bracelet used on Monaco watches in the early 1970s — particularly one found among the archive pieces at TAG Heuer’s Museum in La Chaux-de-Fonds — and has been refurbished to improve comfort for and wearability.
Like its ancestor, the bracelet is wider at the lugs in order to carry the weight of the watch head and tapers where it wraps around the wrist to improve comfort. The three-row bracelet’s horizontal bars connect with smaller horizontal links, and it fastens with a butterfly clasp, engraved with the TAG Heuer shield logo, which is operated by safety push-buttons.
The TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph 39 mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic on the new steel bracelets are available now, priced at $6,750; the model on alligator leather, also available now, comes in slightly lower, at $6,350.
For a hands-on review of the first Monaco outfitted with TAG Heuer Calibre 02, click here.
The dial plate retains a raw, roughly brushed texture with two large cavities at top and bottom. The design of these negative spaces is meant to evoke the front grill of the Aston Martin, and is filled with a more structured grid pattern set at the diagonal. The pairing of these textures works well and offers a unique dimensionality to these watches. The Arabic numerals are restricted to the dial plate and only feature minute readings. Their execution is very close to what you’d find on a Smith’s dashboard mounted gauge (in total, Smith’s provided 8 of the gauges that appeared in the DB5). Likewise, the hands are styled after the needles within those gauges, and appear quite thin as a result. Legibility looks to be compromised as a result, but we have not seen one of these models in the flesh so we’ll reserve final judgement.
Atelier Jalaper is using Miyota based automatic movements for these watches, the 8285 provides the day and date complications while the 821A pulls duty in the date only model. The case measures 40.5mm in diameter and features sculpted lug recess and a prominent plaque set into the case wall at 9 o’clock displaying the number of the production run (it’s not a pusher). The look does pull together successfully, even if a few concerns remain. These feel like a more delicate take on what we’ve seen from REC recently, and given the success of its Kickstarter campaign, raising €123,682 of its €120,000 goal, it seems the watch has found its niche. The time and date AJ001 is priced from €800 (~$950), and the day-date AJ002 is priced from €1,080 (~$1,275). More from Atelier Jalaper here.
Based in the Black Forest region in Germany, Jörg Schauer has been making watches for 30 years. With his two watch brands, Schauer and Stowa, he has built up quite a following online. Here’s a look back at where it all started and what Schauer is doing in 2020.
WT: You began making watches 30 years ago. How did you get started? JS: I originally trained as a goldsmith. After my apprenticeship in the late 1980s, I spent a little over a year on [the Spanish island] Lanzarote, where I worked in a jewelry shop that also sold watches. That’s how I discovered my passion for wristwatches. I returned to Germany around 1990, when the mechanical watch boom was just beginning. I went to many watch fairs and got to know an increasingly large number of collectors. Many of those aficionados owned interesting movements: some equipped with dials, others without dials, and all lacking cases. Time after time, one or another of those collectors would ask me to build a new case for a cherished movement.
WT: Why did so many connoisseurs have movements without cases? JS: Many people in the 1980s assumed that the mechanical watch was obsolete, so a great many watch owners had their gold cases melted down. More than a few of the “orphaned” movements were truly excellent products from manufacturers like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and IWC. Some were highly complicated calibers, like perpetual calendars or minute repeaters. Sometimes a client owned a complete watch but wanted to have its movement installed in a different case.
WT: How did it come about that you established your own brand, Schauer? JS: Up to 1997 or thereabouts, I had made approximately 400 unique timepieces in the way I just described. But as the boom in mechanical watches continued, from the mid-1990s onward, it became increasingly more difficult for me to get individual components from good suppliers, for example, sapphire crystals in various shapes and sizes. In order to be able to purchase components in larger quantities, I had to start serial production. I had already experimented with different cases at that time and this resulted in the Schauer case, with 12 screws in its bezel, which would later come to characterize my brand. I developed this further and then built my first chronograph.
WT:When did you move on to fabricating your first small series? JS: That was in 1997 with Edition 1, a chronograph encasing a modified Valjoux 7750. It had a white dial with asymmetrically arranged subdials.
WT: How did you end up owning the Stowa brand? JS: I had always been impressed by the large pilots’ watch that Stowa built for the German Air Force during World War II. It put Stowa in good company: IWC, Wempe, Laco, and A. Lange & Söhne all built watches for German military pilots. Stowa didn’t have any complicated watches in its portfolio, but all of its timepieces were really beautiful. That impressed me and I immediately saw an opportunity to offer good, handsome watches at an attractive price. I bought the brand in 1996, and one year later I presented the first watches at the Basel trade fair to mark Stowa’s 70th anniversary.
WT: What was the idea behind Stowa? JS: To offer good, affordable watches, initially for the German market. It also had something to do with pragmatism. I had numerous fans among Schauer’s clientele who owned 10 or more watches. Many of those aficionados came by frequently and were eager to chat with me. The logical step in that situation was to collaborate with a brand like Stowa. This enabled me shift the focus away from me as an individual and onto the brand per se.
WT: How did the coexistence of Schauer and Stowa evolve? JS: Schauer was the center of attention during the first nine or 10 years. The ratio was about 90 to 10. Changes in the market in the mid-noughties compelled me to think about how I wanted to orient myself in the future. The result was that I finally began selling Stowa watches directly via the internet.
WT: You were among the first to initiate online sales. How did that come about? JS: Around 2005, I had about 40 doors in Germany. But then the large corporate groups began to emerge and they increasingly pressured retailers not only to carry their brands, but also to purchase large numbers of their brands’ watches. The situation became increasingly difficult for independent labels like mine. I also had the feeling that dealers weren’t always able to provide optimal advice to customers who were interested in Schauer or Stowa. I concluded that I myself could take better care of my customers and their special wishes than a dealer can. So I started my online shop in 2006.
WT: Stowa quickly became much stronger than Schauer after the online shop was launched. Is that right? JS: Yes. Stowa watches were in great demand thanks to their historical pilots’ watch design and their good price-performance ratio. I still accepted orders for Schauer even after the start of the online shop with Stowa, but I had so much work to do with Stowa that delivery times for Schauer watches became longer and longer. I had no choice but to disappoint some customers. And the number of Schauer watches became smaller and smaller. The ratio between Schauer and Stowa watches reversed completely in just a few years’ time. Stowa had accounted for about 10 percent when the online shop was launched in 2006, but five years later Stowa’s share had grown to 90 percent.
WT: You rely on retro design with Stowa, but not with Schauer. How do you view the retro theme? JS: Retro design covers the largest part of the market and this situation will probably remain unchanged for the foreseeable future. But at Stowa I’ve always tried to do something contemporary in addition to retro aviation design. [For example,] my collaboration with Harmut Esslinger resulted in very modern timepieces like the Rana, the DIN pilots’ watches and the new Antea Dynadot. The Schauer brand, on the other hand, had always been about finding my own style. That style developed gradually from what I have done.
WT: How have customers in general changed over the last 30 years? JS: The rediscovery of mechanical watches was the main focus in the 1990s. There was strong demand for interesting movements and complications, as well as for outstanding craftsmanship as reflected, for example, in the construction of the cases. Prominent individualism played the leading role until the mid-1990s. Many customers were happy to find special models at independent manufacturers like mine or at other small manufacturers like Temption or Sothis. Owning those brands’ watches enabled their wearers to set themselves apart from friends who wore Rolexes or Omegas. The big brands have grown more and more powerful since 2005 or thereabouts: on the one hand, they’ve put their traditional icons in the spotlight. And on the other hand, they’ve invested heavily in their brand identities. This has enabled them to attract progressively more attention.
WT: And today? JS: The big brands are omnipresent and you see the same boutiques everywhere. This has prompted a budding countermovement. For the past year or two, I’ve noticed that many customers are again placing more value on individualism. Small brands are becoming more attractive. I feel that the mega hype surrounding the big brands is subsiding, not least because prices have gone through the roof. Watch buyers insist on more variety, and the big brands alone cannot grant every customer’s wish.
WT: Starting with the anniversary, do you want to focus more on the Schauer brand again? JS: The anniversary comes at just the right time to again call attention to the special design vocabulary and the high quality of Schauer watches. I’m firmly established with Stowa, which will always continue to offer interesting new models. But with Schauer, I can act much more freely when it comes to ideas, design and themes.
WT: What models are you bringing to the anniversary? JS: There will be two elite special editions, limited and individually numbered, of 130 and 160 timepieces, respectively. One is the Kulisse Edition 10 chronograph with its asymmetrical dial arrangement. It ranked among the most popular Schauer watches: my classic, so to speak. Now I’ve adapted it to suit contemporary tastes. The new bezel is narrower and I’ve added a date display at the 6. The second anniversary model is my single-handed watch, which I already had in my portfolio early on. A lone pink gold or platinum hand, which I fabricate myself, points from the dial’s center to a peripheral minute circle, which is finely calibrated so the time can be read to the nearest five minutes.
The Retromatic has a rectangular case measuring 36mm x 39.5mm, and it’s only 10.5mm thick. The style is clearly indebted to the funky sports watches of the 60s and 70s, with particular attention being paid to the bracelet, which uses straight links and has an integrated look. The case lines here are soft and Ferrer sought to make the watch feel compact and comfortable on the wrist. From the top, it looks like it might be a hulking and chunky throwback piece, but the measurements reveal a watch that we imagine is quite a bit more refined in the metal.
There are, of course, still elements of the Retromatic’s look that are inspired by coffee culture. Where we really see it is in the dial, which features a pattern of circular cutouts that are borrowed from drain-gates on espresso machines. This is typical of Brew’s design philosophy as of late: incorporate design elements from the coffee world that insiders will get and appreciate, but simply look nice to everyone else. This is a far better approach than explicit references to coffee – it reminds you of the link between Brew’s watches without being a novelty. For the Retromatic, dial variants include options in green, burgundy, blue, and black.
The Retromatic uses two different movements. The green and burgundy variants use Seiko’s NH35A automatic caliber, while the blue and black are powered by the Sellita SW200 (and feature the “Swiss Made” designation on the dial). The Retromatics running the Seiko movement are priced at $425, while the Sellita powered versions are $495. All are currently available through Brew’s website. Brew Watch Co.