The key design element of this particular watch is certainly the tachymeter bezel circling the perimeter of the silver dial. It’s in a contrasting black, which looks great and is a nice complement to the aforementioned subdials, and features red and yellow blocks at around the 3:00 point on the tachymeter scale that directly follow the words “In Benzin Veritas,” which translated from Latin equates roughly to “In fuel we trust.” The blocks of color on the outside of the dial and the tints of red and yellow in the hands give the whole dial a fuel gauge feel, which seems appropriate given the nature of the collaboration. The chronograph seconds hand is also shaped like a lightning bolt, because why not? The whole package is quite a bit quirkier than what we usually see from Breitling, and it’s fun to see them give the reins over to another brand and seemingly let them run with the design.
On the technical side, the Top Time Deus runs on Breitling Caliber 23, a COSC certified chronometer movement based on a modified version of the ETA 7753 with 48 hours of power reserve. The case measures 41mm in diameter and is a little over 14mm thick. Like last year’s Top Time, the case is highly polished, which is consistent with the purpose of the original version of the watch, which was meant to be more fashionable, and less of a tool. While we’d normally like to see more reserved case finishing on a sports watch, in context the decision to polish it in this manner makes sense.
The Top Time Deus is available now through Breitling, and is limited to 1,500 examples. The retail price is set at $4,990. Breitling
Russian NHL superstar Alexander Ovechkin, winner of the 2018 Stanley Cup as captain of the Washington Capitals, joined Hublot’s star-studded stable of athlete ambassadors in 2019. Like many who preceded him — notably “fastest man alive” Usain Bolt and late NBA legend Kobe Bryant — Ovechkin has collaborated with the Swiss watchmaker on a very special wristwatch with a number of personalized elements distinctive to the hockey player nicknamed “The Great Eight.”
The Hublot Big Bang Unico Red Carbon Alex Ovechkin is distinguished foremost by its eye-catching 45-mm case and signature screwed bezel, made of lightweight carbon fiber, interlaced with red accents from “Non Woven Fabric” (NWF) micro-glass fibers, which add robustness to the composite case material from which the case is made. Both the NWF and the carbon fiber are fused with a resin-tinted adhesive, resulting in the crimson color details that reflect both the flag of Ovechkin’s Russian homeland and the uniform of his NHL team. The toughness and resiliency of the composite material, Hublot says, represents Ovi’s own longevity as an elite player in his league: drafted in 2004, the 35-year-old has played his entire career with the Capitals and scored his 700th goal in 2020, a historic feat very few players in the sport have ever achieved.
Notable details continue on the red-accented, skeletonized dial, including the “Great Eight” logo placed at the 8 o’clock position, highlighting Ovechkin’s jersey number and the nickname derived from it; and the red-white-and-blue finish on the central chronograph hand, which references both the team colors of the Washington Capitals as well as the stripes of the Russian flag. Powering the watch, with its inner workings on display from both the front and back, is Hublot’s manufacture Caliber MHUB1242, a self-winding movement equipped with a column-wheel-controlled flyback chronograph function with a double clutch; a frequency of 28,800 vph; and a power reserve of 72 hours. Its 60-minute chronograph readout is on a subdial at 3 o’clock, which intersects a date window, while small seconds tick away on a subdial at 9 o’clock. The openworked date disk, another hallmark of the Unico caliber, borders the dial beneath the applied, black-plated hour appliqués with their red luminescent coating.
The sapphire window in the back of the 100-meter water-resistant case offers a glimpse into the movement behind a red-printed Alex Ovechkin signature. Limited to 100 pieces, the watch comes on a red fabric strap with a micro-blasted black ceramic buckle, and also includes an additional black rubber strap; the two bracelets can be easily switched via Hublot’s “One Click” fastening system. As “icing on the cake” (Hublot’s pun, not mine), each watch also comes with a custom hockey puck signed by Ovechkin. Available at retail now, the Big Bang Unico Red Carbon Alex Ovechkin retails for $26,200.
Two of the new references make adjustments to the case and bracelet as well as offering new dial designs, so we’ll look at those first. The most dramatic new take on the Grandrally is a variant with a black coated case and matching bracelet, which reads as sleek and modern. While the 70s certainly saw its share of coated watches, there’s something inherently contemporary about a watch in this style, whenever it happens to be made, and I think that’s largely what Zodiac is tapping into here. We’re also getting a gold tone case, with a contrasting black outer bezel. This variant comes mounted on an alligator-style strap, lending it an easygoing, casual sportiness.
The most traditional new Grandrally is likely the silver dialed version with black subdials. Red accents on the tachymeter bezel, running seconds subdial, and chronograph seconds hand provide just enough color to keep this one visually interesting. The fourth variant has a dark gray dial with a textured weave pattern reminiscent of carbon fiber, a silver tachymeter bezel, and is mounted to a rally strap.
The new Grandrally watches are available now through Zodiac with pricing set between $495 and $595. More information can be found here.
Omega inaugurated its role as official timekeeper of the 36th America’s Cup last year with the launch of a special edition from its Seamaster Planet Ocean collection. As the start of the world’s most prestigious sailing race (and the awarding of sports’ oldest international trophy) draws closer, Omega has released another special timepiece, this one based on the rugged, sporty Seamaster Diver 300M family of models, which boasts an array of “race ready” features. Here’s a closer look at the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M America’s Cup Chronograph.
The watch’s 44-mm-diameter case is in stainless steel, while both its wave-pattern dial and dive-scale bezel ring are in blue ceramic, the latter element using white enamel for the scale’s numerals and markers. The unidirectional bezel has an easy-to-grip scalloped edge. The chronograph pushers that flank the screw-down crown are made of soft-touch rubber and ergonomically designed for easier handling in the wet conditions that one would encounter while sailing; the pushers’ red and blue colors reflect those of the America’s Cup competition and are echoed throughout the watch.
At 3 o’clock on the laser-engraved dial is a specially designed subdial that allows the wearer to use the built-in stopwatch as a regatta countdown indicator. Inside an outer ring made of red anodized aluminum is an hour disk underneath the subdial and a red anodized aluminum minute hand and rhodium-plated small seconds hand, whose shapes resembles that of a boat hull. The central chronograph hand, also in red anodized aluminum, uses the silhouette of the America’s Cup trophy as its counterweight.
The 300-meter water-resistant case is also equipped with Omega’s exclusive Chrono Lock system, which locks and unlocks the chronograph pushers, preventing inadvertent adjustments while the stopwatch functions are being used, i.e., while in the final stretches of a high-stakes sailing race. The watch comes on a metal bracelet and also attaches to an additional rubber strap, both of which incorporate Omega’s new “Quick Change” system. To change bracelets, the wearer simply presses a button to release the pins from the watch-head, with no additional tools necessary.
The Alveol shaped caseback is graced with blue lacquer-filled engravings indicating “36th America’s Cup” and “Auckland 2021.” Through its sapphire window the wearer can glimpse Omega’s co-axial Master Chronometer Caliber 9900, an automatic movement with a column-wheel-driven chronograph and a power reserve of 60 hours stored in twin barrels. Like all Master Chronometer calibers, it features a silicon balance spring and a co-axial escapement and is antimagnetic to 15,000 Gauss. Its surfaces are embellished with Omega’s hallmark Geneva waves “in Arabesque” motif.
The Omega Seamaster Diver 300M America’s Cup Chronograph is presented, with its additional rubber strap, in a specially designed box with America’s Cup colors and branding. Available now, it is priced at $10,700. The 36th America’s Cup, presented by Prada, will begin on March 6, pitting Prada Cup winner Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli against Emirates Team New Zealand — a rematch of the finalists’ first duel in 2000, which as it turns out was the first America’s Cup for which Omega served as timekeeper.
The internals are a bit besides the point here, however. The dial showcases the work of Tom Christopher, depicting a colorful New York skyline circling the dial, with the skyscrapers pointing inward, where you’ll find a group of skaters situated throughout the inner portion of the dial. The patchwork depiction of the city features a myriad of color blocks which, from a distance, form a lovely tapestry of shape and color not readily identifiable. The name of the watch, ‘Skaters In The Sky’ is the biggest tell here in terms of framing the artwork within the context of a readily identifiable subject matter, removing it from the abstract at a distance altogether.
The Tom Christopher Megapod will be far more accessible than the KAWS or Koons variants, with 200 total planned for production (50 in the first batch) at a price of $1,700. Ikepod.
Vacheron Constantin’s sport-luxury Overseas collection, tracing its roots to an anniversary model in the 1970s, has become a versatile and resolutely modern cornerstone of the historical maison’s portfolio.
The mid-1970s are widely regarded as a regrettable era for fashion, but one fashion accessory, the wristwatch, was having what is now acknowledged as a renaissance. More to the point, it was in the Seventies that the style we generally refer to as sport-luxury was established. Foundation pieces like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, in 1972, and the Patek Philippe Nautilus, in 1976, set the stage for many to follow, bridging the divide between classical elegance and masculine robustness. Few would have expected such bold departures from heritage watch maisons like Audemars and Patek at the time, and certainly even fewer would have envisioned the timepiece that Vacheron Constantin, a Swiss manufacture even older than they and just as dedicated to tradition, would unveil for its 222nd anniversary in 1977.
The simply named Vacheron Constantin 222 was notable, and at the time viewed as somewhat radical, for its monobloc steel case, integrated steel bracelet with hexagonal center links, and scalloped, screw-down bezel, which evoked, but certainly did not duplicate, the emblematic octagonal bezels that defined the Royal Oak and Nautilus.
True to Vacheron’s historically understated proportions, the 222 was slender in its profile — 7.2 mm thick for a 37-mm diameter. It contained a similarly thin Swiss-made automatic movement, Vacheron’s Caliber 1121, based on the famed Caliber 920 from Jaeger-LeCoultre. Also found inside both the early Nautilus and Royal Oak, this movement is still counted among the thinnest self-winding calibers in the world. At 5 o’clock on the corner of the case was placed the seed from which a more enduring watch family would bloom, two decades hence — a small, inlaid Maltese cross, which Vacheron Constantin adopted as its brand icon way back in 1880, and which formed the aesthetic foundation of the modern Overseas collection.
The 222 is often described in shorthand as the direct inspiration for the Overseas, but according to Christian Selmoni, heritage director of Vacheron Constantin, the story is a bit more complicated than that. “The idea was really not to create an evident link between the Triple Two and the Overseas,” Selmoni says, using the in-house jargon for the 222 and describing the starting point for the modern col- lection. “It was more about finding a new way to express what can be both sport and elegance at Vacheron Constantin, and the Triple Two is a credible example. The common points between the two watches are the barrel-shaped case and what we call the flat-table bezel, but the bracelets and their incorporation have always been very different. We don’t really consider the Overseas an evolution of the 222.”
Because the 222 captured the Seventies sport-luxury zeitgeist in such a familiar manner, and hails from the same era, it was once widely believed to have been among the brainchildren of the prolific Gérald Genta, who designed both the Royal Oak and the Nautilus as well as another recognized pioneer of the genre, IWC’s 1976 revamp of the Ingenieur. In actuality, the creative force behind the 222 was Jörg Hysek, a Berlin-born former Rolex designer who, like Genta, would go on to establish his own eponymous watch brand years later, after plying his trade for marques as diverse as Breguet, Tiffany & Co., and Seiko.
Vacheron didn’t make that many pieces of the 222: only around 500 models in steel, and significantly fewer in gold and bi-material steel-and-gold. Its production was discontinued in 1985. Nevertheless, the company followed up the 222 in 1984 with a model called the 333, which retained the integrated bracelet but swapped out its predecessor’s tonneau case with an octagonal one. On the heels of that short- lived model came the Phidias, with a rounded case flowing into an integrated bracelet, which introduced complications like chronographs and GMTs into the series.
It was in 1996 — with the sleeping giant that was the luxury mechanical watch just beginning to stir after years of quartz-watch market dominance — that the first model called “Overseas” was launched. Vacheron Constantin was on its way to being acquired by the Vendôme Group (now known as Richemont) and one of the manufacture’s first major releases under the new ownership, a return to the newly energized sport-luxury market, was already underway. Spearheaded by Vacheron Constantin’s head of design Vincent Kaufmann, and another well-regarded gun-for-hire in the wristwatch design arena, Dino Modolo, the Overseas was envisioned as a return to a more “disruptive” style of sporty watch, according to Selmoni. “The Phidias had very much the look of a 1980s watch, in my opinion,” he says. “The idea for the Overseas One was to come back to a more sporty character — using steel was a must, but the watch had to be elegant, sophisticated, and refined as well as sporty. We were all very enthusiastic about the design, which integrated our Maltese Cross.”
The tonneau-shaped case of the first-generation men’s Overseas replicated the dimensions of the 222 at 37 mm (the trend for much larger timepieces was still over the horizon), but in this model the notched bezel of the 1970s watch — somewhat reminiscent of a knob or a bottle cap — was replaced by a more distinctive, eight-sided type that replicated the arrowhead-shaped quadrilaterals of the Maltese cross. Inside the case, Vacheron installed a self-winding movement it dubbed Caliber 1310, which used a Girard-Perregaux 3100 caliber as its base. Vacheron Constantin added a chronograph version of the Overseas in 1999, powered by Caliber 1137, based on the column-wheel chronograph-equipped Frédéric Piguet Caliber 1185.
With its new, immediately recognizable bezel, the Overseas had begun to break away from the design language of both the 222, which was its closest aesthetic ancestor, and the classic 1970s Genta watches to which it had always been compared. But something was still missing. Once again, Vacheron’s venerable icon, the Maltese cross, would provide the key to the next evolution.
The renaissance of the hyper-masculine sport-luxury watch was in full swing by 2004, when Vacheron Constantin unveiled the Overseas “Phase 2” edition, which debuted in a three-hand model and a chronograph with large date. In keeping with market trends in the early-to-mid-aughts, its case was bulked up, to 42 mm, and a decorative, textured pattern was added to the dials. Vacheron did away with the crown guards of the Phase 1 series, making for a more stream- lined look. The all-important Maltese-cross-themed bezel was still present — the theme was also recognizable in the dial’s pattern — but what really separated the Phase 2 model was the use of the same visual motif for an updated and much more distinctive bracelet; the bracelet’s links were now shaped like half-Maltese crosses, and the center link now extended up to the bezel for a more seamless integration into the case. Even the buckle and the crown were updated to visually evoke the ancient symbol. On the technical side, Vacheron added a soft-iron inner cage inside the case for a greater degree of antimagnetic protection. “It was an era of bigger, more assertive watches,” Selmoni recalls, “and in our internal discussions, we realized that the bracelet was the element that really needed an update to give the watch that power and assertiveness. In the final design, we used the Maltese cross almost everywhere, along with making the watch larger.”
In 2006, and in keeping with the era’s craze for more complications as well as more girth in its watches, came the first Overseas Dual Time model — at some point, someone realized that a watch called “Overseas” needed a function for world travelers — powered by Caliber VC1222, based on the Jaeger-LeCoultre 920. The first Overseas on an integrated rubber strap, rather than the traditional bracelet, followed a year later, and a slew of increasingly complicated time- pieces in the collection swiftly followed, including a perpetual calendar chronograph.
In its Phase 2 iteration, the Overseas had firmly earned its spot in the upper echelon of easily recognizable sport-luxury timepieces with 1970s roots. The only element that hadn’t yet been added was the one for which Vacheron Constantin had become known in the 21st century: an honest- to-gosh manufacture movement, rather then one based on an outsourced caliber from one of its high-horology peers like Jaeger-LeCoultre or Girard-Perregaux. That finally changed in 2016, with the most recent revamp of the Overseas.
Overseas Phase 3, under the creative direction of Kaufmann, brought the watch’s overall dimensions back to a slightly more restrained level — 41 mm, down from 42 mm, for the basic three-hand “Self-Winding” model, and a relatively svelte 11 mm tall. The Maltese cross bezel — which coincidentally or not, based on the collection’s nautical name, had come to resemble a ship’s steering wheel — was scaled down from eight “spokes” to six. (Perhaps losing the octagonal aesthetic was the last word in separating the Overseas from its longtime peers, the Royal Oak and Nautilus.) More significantly, Vacheron Constantin finally installed its own in-house calibers in its Overseas watches, three of which were developed specially for the collection: the base Caliber 5100, powering the three-hand models in place of the JLC-based movement; the column-wheel-equipped 5200, replacing the Frédéric Piguet movement inside the 42.5-mm chronograph models; and the 5300, a smaller movement developed for the modern Overseas ladies’ or “Small” models — which, at 37 mm in diameter, returned at least part of the series to its modestly sized roots.
Comparing the Phase 2 to the Phase 3 Overseas, Selmoni is matter-of-fact. “We lost a bit of the elegance of the original Overseas,” he says of the former, “but you have to look at in the context of the 2000s. It was a great success but it was very much rooted in that era, and missing the refine- ments that you might find on a Patrimony, for example. We wanted to incorporate more sophistication and elegance in the next generation. We wanted to add a little touch of ‘vintage’ to the design, which meant going a bit more toward the Triple Two. And we wanted to bring the design back in-house. It was really a team effort, and it was really the most difficult generation of Overseas to design.”
In Phase 3, Vacheron didn’t wait several years to trot out all the most complicated models. Debuting alongside the three-hand, chronograph, and high-jewelry ladies’ editions at SIHH 2016 was the Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra Thin, outfitted with Vacheron’s wafer-like manufacture Caliber 1120 QP, a movement that had already wowed the watch community inside the elegant Patrimony collection. All of the calibers used in the Overseas Phase 3 models bore a new element tying them indelibly to the collection — a sold gold rotor emblazoned with a wind rose, a historical nautical device found on a compass. All of them also earn the prestigious poinçon de Genève, or Geneva Hallmark — a distinction in which Vacheron’s watchmakers have long taken pride.
Vacheron, of course, was eager to put these new, attractive calibers on display behind exhibition casebacks, as per modern custom. However, it also wanted to continue protecting them from the ill effects of magnetism inside a soft iron inner cage, as in the previous models. Kaufmann and his team hit upon a clever solution: instead of the typical design of such a cage, in which the shell covers the back of the movement, this one is positioned just inside a casing ring that is steeply angled toward the back, protecting the movement without covering it entirely.
The final and most contemporary addition in Phase 3, and another feature entirely new to the über-traditional Vacheron, was the addition of an “easy-fit” interchangeable strap and bracelet system, which allows wearers to change between bracelet and strap options without the need for a tool, simply by twisting the bracelet via the lugs by 180 degrees.
The revamped Overseas collection quickly began to grow in the wake of its celebrated debut in Geneva. Later that same year, Vacheron added a World Time model to the family, slightly bigger at 43.5 mm, equipping it with the ultra-sophisticated Caliber 2460WT, which famously debuted in a Patrimony model in 2011. Vacheron is justly proud of this movement, one of the few in the horological universe that can display all 37 world time zones rather than the standard 24 based on Greenwich Mean Time. In 2019, the Overseas Tourbillon debuted, impressing watch aficionados with its ultra-thin profile (thanks to its use of a peripheral rotor in the movement, Caliber 2160), its 80-hour power reserve, and its gorgeous blue dial, which Selmoni says uses a secret sauce of electroplating, varnish and lacquer to achieve its vibrancy.
The Overseas Dual Time, a practical complication that joined the collection in Phase 2, made its return, now also boasting a manufacture movement, Vacheron’s Caliber 5110 DT, derived from the base 5110 movement. Its signature function is the simultaneous reading of two time zones on co-axial hands: the main hour hand indicates local time in the wearer’s current location, while the triangular-tipped GMT hand points to the reference time on the 12-hour scale, which is linked to the day-night (“AM/PM”) indicator at 9 o’clock, allowing a traveler wearing the watch to determine at a glance if it’s daytime or nighttime back home.
More recently, as part of the digital-platformed Watches & Wonders 2020 exhibition that stood in for the planned, pandemic-scuttled live event in Geneva, Vacheron Constantin revisited its most high-complication Overseas model, the Perpetual Calendar, in two distinct executions, both in rose-gold cases. One version features the lacquered blue dial that has become a mainstay of the collection; the other model is the first Overseas with a skeletonized dial. For the latter, Vacheron Constantin meticulously stripped down the self-winding Caliber 1120 QP/1 to its essentials and replaced the solid gold wind-rose rotor with a black NAC-treated oscillating mass that incorporates the ubiquitous Maltese cross shape. Through the sapphire dial, with four white disks displaying the calendar indications in a classical cloverleaf design, one can glimpse the ornate engravings, straight- grained and beveled edges, circular brushing, sunburst finishing, and other elements that elevate the timepiece from its sport-watch basics to the highest levels of haute horlogerie. Like the rest of the collection, it is offered with three quick- change bracelets — one in rose gold, one in blue alligator leather, one in textured blue rubber.
It is perhaps inevitable that the Vacheron Contantin Overseas will always be grouped among, and compared and contrasted with, the other iconic 1970s sport-luxury timepieces — despite the fact that the Overseas is actually several decades younger. What sets it apart, however, is the fact that while its design origins are traced to the same era, the Overseas has evolved more profoundly than any of its peers, representing for a growing contemporary audience an ideal amalgam of vintage and modern appeal.