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The Bremont Wright Flyer

July 24th, 2014 by

A piece of history being made and every watch a piece of history.

There’s not much middle ground with Bremont. It’s either ‘Bremont? I’ve got three already!’ or ‘Bremont? I’d rather wear a Casio.” This is a good thing. When a watchmaker polarises opinion, it generally means they’re doing something new, interesting and different. And that’s just what Bremont have done. They’ve created a new English watchmaking business from scratch. Starting in 2002, it’s grown in the twelve subsequent years from a tiny operation to a significant brand.

Make a success of something and you’ll attract your share of detractors and, historically, the watchbuying public have been split on Bremont. One side has talked about the quality of the watches, the warmth of the team (Bremont’s always been a hands-on business), and attention to detail. The other has accused them of being contrived, too focused on image and too dependent on branding. And there’s always been that ‘accusation’ of using ébauche movements, despite it being common practice in almost every watch company.

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It’s easy to see how those negatives could be true but for Bremont’s founders, Nick and Giles English. Meet them and you realise very quickly indeed that they’re making watches because they love watches, not to boost a corporate balance sheet. The brand’s ‘Boy’s Own hero’ style is theirs, not the focus-grouped contrivance of a slick Soho agency (although they did use London-based Abbott Mead Vickers to put together a series of press ads). The link to vintage aircraft is because the brothers restore and fly vintage aircraft. In short, Bremont is real, not front.

To prove it, Bremont have got a bit of a name for featuring exotic, flight-connected things inside their watch cases. So far, they’ve put Spitfire metal in the rotor of the EP120 and the P51 features aluminium from a P51 Mustang. If you’re going to go down the historical aviation track, these take some beating. But with their new watch, Bremont might just have aced the Spit’ and the ‘Stang .

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This evening, they unveiled their new aviation watch, the Bremont Wright Flyer, at London’s Science Museum. The watch is named for the Wright Brothers’ first ‘plane and the link with Orville and Wilbur Wright is very real indeed. The Flyer incorporates fragments of muslin fabric from the 1903 Wright Flyer – the landmark aircraft responsible for the world’s first heavier than air human flight.

You can sense Nick’s very genuine enthusiasm when he talks about the watch. “Giles and I still cannot believe that it’s happened. Holding the original and invaluable muslin used to cover the 1903 Wright Flyer is incredibly emotive. Does the creation of a special aviation-inspired watch really get any better than this?”

Bremont’s Henley-based watchmakers have layered the fabric inside the watch between the movement’s decorated rotor plate and a sapphire crystal display window. There’s a tiny fragment of it in each of the 450 watches they’re producing, but that’s hardly the point. Bremont weren’t about to cut-up the world’s most historically important aircraft to make the watchstraps. Family member Amanda Wright Lane says, “The wing cloth from the 1903 Wright Flyer is considered almost priceless by some, but we felt Bremont’s passion for aviation heritage made them a suitable choice for this rare use of the cloth.”

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The Wright connection on its own is quite something. But not only does the new Flyer contain a bit of aviation history, it makes a bit of watchmaking history too. The 43mm Trip-tick (that always raises a smile) case carries Bremont’s first in-house movement, laying the ébauche argument very firmly to rest. It’s all rather eclipsed by the Wright brothers historic angle, but this is a brand new Bremont movement with many elements made at Henley.

It underscores the English brothers’ enthusiasm for historic aviation that they decided to put their new movement in a watch that was going to hit the headlines anyway. In fact, the announcement of the new watch almost plays the new movement down: “Bremont unveils the ultimate aviation watch, incorporating original material from the 1903 Wright Flyer, plus its first in-house movement”. Oh yeah, we’ve just designed and made a whole new English watch movement but don’t worry about that – just look at what we’ve put in the case with it! It’s like Aston Martin announcing a new car with a dashboard made from David Brown’s old desk and casually mentioning it’s got a completely new engine that turns out 800bhp and runs on water.

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The new BWC/01 25 jewel movement deserves some space to itself. It’s an automatic that takes power on both the clockwise and anti-clockwise turn of the rotor. The crown itself is thoroughly period, with knurling and a taper towards the case. With a Nivarox balance spring beating at 28,800bph, Bremont claims a 50+ hour power reserve. The balance itself is cut from Glucydur; tough and thermally stable – so the Flyer should certainly be accurate (and the entire Bremont range are COSC rated in any case). Decoration-wise, you get Geneva stripes and an exhibition back to see them through. Mind you, perhaps we should be calling them ‘Henley Stripes’ now.

The metal dial gives you a choice of black or white with applied gold numerals. There’s a subsidiary seconds dial marked with ‘1903’ (the year of the first flight) and railtrack ten minute intervals. And, perhaps most significantly, it carries the word “London”. Looks like English watchmaking has taken another step forward.

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Steel edition, 300 pieces

You can have your Wright Flyer in a choice of stainless steel, rose gold or white gold. Bremont will be making 300, 100 and 50 pieces of each, respectively.

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Rose Gold edition, 100 pieces

One wonders what the English brothers will try next. We’ve had The Victory with its nautical theme, incorporating copper from HMS Victory in its case. The Codebreaker has fragments of Bletchley Park history in the form of part of an Enigma coding machine, pine from a hut and fragments of computer punchcard. The P51 and EP120 have clear aviation links through original aircraft metal. If I were running NASA’s museum I’d be keeping a careful eye for a couple of suspicious-looking Englishmen with tinsnips hanging around the Saturn V rocket and the Lunar Module.

White Gold edition, 50 pieces

White Gold edition, 50 pieces

Nick English has described the aim of Bremont as “To make a watch that, on its own merits, is a bloody good watch.” He, Giles and their team have gone rather further than that with the Flyer. It will be interesting to see how many detractors it carries cross the fence to the Bremont side. One suspects it’ll be more than a few.

Pricing TBD

by Mark McArthur Christie

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Christopher Ward C8 Regulator Review

July 23rd, 2014 by

After recent news, Christopher Ward is more likely to be known for their affordable in-house SH21 movement than anything else, but if you look our archives, you’ll find most of our reviews are of their pilot’s watches. We’ve looked at the C8 MKII, the C10, the C11 and the C1000 Typhoon, all of which offer something different. The C8 MKII is fairly classic pilot, reminiscent of IWC MK series, the C10 is a more formal, with a touch of navigator DNA, the C11 is a modern instrument panel-style aviator and the C1000 Typhoon is a dark and stealthy modern pilot realized in ceramic. Today, we’re going to take a look at a follow up to the C8 MKII; the C8 Regulator.

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What sets this watch apart is indicated clearly in the name; it’s a regulator. This fairly uncommon complication splits the hour, minutes and seconds into 3 separate dials. Typically, as is the case with the C8, you have the hours and seconds as secondary sub-dials, and the minutes about the center. The concept behind this watch, as in why you are finding a regulator on a pilot’s watch, is that in WW2, regulator’s were supposedly used for timing bombing runs. With minutes being the most significant unit of time to pay attention too, it makes sense to emphasize them in this way.

In order to achieve this functionality, Christopher Ward outfitted the C8 Regulator with a Unitas 6498 manual movement with a bespoke regulator module. As is evident in their various collaborations with Johannes Jahnke, they are adept at creating in-house components. Now that they are partners with Synergies Horologères, a Swiss movement manufacturer, I imagine they will be playing with bespoke modules for their regular lines more often.

Of course, this done come at a price, literally, as the C8 Regulator comes in at $1,425 as shown in PVD. This is on the higher end for Christopher Ward, being more than twice the price of the C8 MKII, and higher than your average Unitas powered watch. That said, aesthetically, it’s one of their more finely tuned pieces, and quality wise, is well executed.

Christopher Ward C8 Regulator Review CHRISTOPHER_WARD_C8_REGULATOR_FACE1Case: PVD Steel Movement: Unitas 6498 w/ Regulator Dial: Black Lume: Old Radium Super-Luminova Lens: Sapphie Strap: Leather Water Res.: 50M Dimensions: 44 x 52.6mm Thickness: 11 mm Lug Width: 22 mm Crown: 8 x 5 mm Warranty: 60:60 Guarantee Price: $1,425

Case

True to the pilot/flieger tradition, the C8 Regulator is a large watch. Measuring 44 x 52.6 x 11mm, it’s wide and flat, like its automatic brethren the MKII. The case shape and design are classic pilot, with slab sides, slender tapering lugs and a broad bezel. While it’s been a long time since we handled the C8 MKII, which is even thinner at 9.7mm, the 11mm thickness is striking. The bezel, central case and case back are nearly all the same, making for a very sleek profile.

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Contrasting this is the large onion/diamond crown at 3. Measuring 8x5mm, the crown is long and wide. This makes it very easy to grasp for winding the movement or setting the time, but a bit jagged and unwieldy. Coming off of a 44mm case, it will bite your wrist throughout the day.

Flipping the watch over, you’ll be presented with a great view of the Unitas movement inside. The glass runs practically edge to edge, giving you a very full view the inner workings of the watch. Since Unitas’ are manual and everything is oversized, they are especially enjoyable to ogle.

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As far as finishing goes, you have two options, the matte PVD shown or just matte steel. Though it costs a bit more, PVD works very well with this watch. The overall palette, which we’ll get into more when looking at the dial and strap, is dark, but warm, mixing black and brown almost like tortoise shell glasses. Though PVD can sometimes make a watch less versatile, here it completes the look.

Dial

The C8 Regulator takes a classic approach to the dial, utilizing the regulator layout and “old radium” lume to create something more interesting and dynamic. The primary index, which is minutes, consists of thick rectangles and small dashes, with numerals every 5. At 15 and 45 the numerals are removed for logos and a 30 and 60 they are removed for sub-dials, creating a sense of radial symmetry.

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The sub-dials at 60 and 30 are for the hours and seconds, respectively. Both have the same simple design, almost mirroring each other, which emulates the larger minutes index. Separating them from the main dial, which is entirely flat, is a ring of circular graining under the linear portion of the index, with the numerals set in towards the hand. If I were to register a complaint about this dial, it’s that it is very flat, which is emphasized by its large diameter. That said, the flatness makes it look more like WW2 era military design, so it’s staying true to itself.

What makes it all come together is use of the “old radium” super-luminova. The burnt, creamy orange color looks amazing against the matte black surface. And where the lume is not used, such as on the logos and the individual minute marks, they have color matched paint so you can’t distinguish between them. The effect is both aggressive and stylish, which is further emphasized by the matte PVD case. The only downside to this lume is that it’s not as bright as white or green paints.

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For hands, they went with broad roman swords, which are very clear and well proportioned. They also went for edge-to-edge lume, rather than a bordered style, which also works very well on this watch as it’s more bold. The minute hand, as is expected, is very large, so you can’t miss it at a glance, while the hour and seconds hands are much smaller. That said, they are large sub-dial hands, thus being easier to read and glowing better.

The regulator layout is a bit off putting at first, but within a short amount of time you acclimate to it. Then, it’s actually very easy and fast to read. There is a logic to having the hours above the minutes, so you can read the same way we say the time… i.e. 12…30. Also, I find I am generally aware of the hour, so I tend to look for the minutes first, which the regulator makes all the more simple. More over, it adds a level of uniqueness to this watch that separates it from other pilots. Though the language is the same, it really has a different feel.

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Movement

The Unitas 6498 is a workhorse manual movement of pocket watch descent that you’ll come across with some regularity. It features 17-jewels, manual winding, sub-seconds and a frequency of 18,000bph. In this instance, Christopher Ward created a module to separate the hours out onto a sub-dial, creating the regulator. The best thing about these movements is how large they are, making them great to look at. The balance wheel is huge, but beats fairly slowly, giving a hypnotic pulse. If you wind it while looking at the back, you can clearly see the mechanism in action.

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They also often serve as canvases for elaborate decoration or partial rebuilding (like when a German brand might switch in a 3/4 plate). In this case, the decoration is minimal, but still well executed. Under the balance is a plate of perlage, which makes the golden wheel stand out all the more. The main plates then have Cote de Geneve, a standard, but attractive pattern. The screws inside are all polished on the top surface, which I believe is the same “flat polish” they use in their new SH21 movement. More of a subtle approach than blue screws, but handsome. Lastly, on the barrel, in blue, is the Christopher Ward London logo.

Straps and Wearability

The C8 Regulator comes mounted on easily the nicest leather strap I’ve seen from the brand. Called a “vintage leather” this 22mm strap has gorgeous coloration and texture. It’s a mix of mid-dark brown with highlights of tan and gold which appear in the crevices of the natural texture. The highlights resonate with the “old radium” lume, tying the two together. The contruction of the strap is impeccable as well. It’s thin, with a light padding, tapering by the edges. There is a matching brown stitch that runs down the edge and black/very dark brown edge inking that flows into the PVD case.

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Accompanying the strap is their patented Bader deployant clasp. Designed by their new partner and founder of Synergies Horologères, Jörg Bader, it’s indeed an improvement over other designs. It creates a very clean, keeper free strap when closed, turning the leather into more of a bracelet. It then open with two buttons place on the top portion of the mechanism, rather than underneath where they can pinch your skin (something that annoys me often with deployants). The only potential downside is that for it to work, the straps themselves must be very thin in order to pass through the system. I personally prefer thinner straps, so that’s not a concern for me, but one couldn’t swap the strap with a 4.5mm thick piece of leather.

As expected, on the wrist, the C8 wears large. It’s big and flat, which further emphasizes the width, though makes it more comfortable than a tall and wide watch would be. The 52.6mm lug-to-lug isn’t too bad though, so I didn’t find it reaching over the sides of my 7” wrist. That said, this isn’t a watch for petite wrists or those who prefer smaller watches. Regarding comfort, the real offender is the crown, which does regularly push against the hand. I suppose you can get used to this, but it’s not very pleasant.

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Aesthetically, this is probably my favorite pilot’s watch from Christopher Ward. It’s aggressive, well balance, and has a beautiful, masculine palette. The mix of black and warm golden tans and browns speaks to patina, rugged leather, machinery, etc… All things that just work with casual men’s wear. Putting this watch on immediately makes me wish it was fall, so I could put on my Iron Rangers, black jeans, a heavy shirt and a leather jacket, and enjoy this watch in its element.

Conclusion

The Christopher Ward C8 Regulator is a very cool offering from the brand that has a bit more personality than their other pilots. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve liked them all in this way and that, but this one comes together in all the right ways. Interesting functionality, well executed aesthetics and a proper amount of aggressive edge put the C8 Regulator in a class of its own. It also stands apart from what else is out there, only really competing with a Bell & Ross that costs much more (it’s gorgeous too, but that’s a different article).

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The downsides are that it is big, which will make it hard to wear for some people, and costs a decent amount at $1,425 in PVD and $1,375 in steel. Though less than the C1000 Typhoon, it’s more than Fliegers from other brands, many Unitas 6498 powered watches and a fair portion of their own line. I assume the increased price cost is do to the added complication as well as rising costs on movements. As is always the case with C Ward’s it’s Swiss made, built and finished well and backed by their 360 warranty. So, in the end, if you are looking for a big pilot watch with a slight twist and a lot of style, and are willing to pay a bit more for that, you will like what you get.

by Zach Weiss

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Halios Progress Report

July 22nd, 2014 by

It’s no big secret that the worn&wound crew are huge fans of Halios. For the past 5 years, the Vancouver-based brand has been responsible for creating some of the most unique boutique divers on the market, all of which are priced well under a grand. 2013 was an especially exciting year for Halios, with the announcement of not one, but three new attractive models: the Tropik B, the Tropik SS, and the Delfin. Both Tropik models were huge hits upon their release and are currently sold out (more on this later).  The Delfin was initially expected to make a splash in late 2013, but a number of production delays pushed back that deadline to 2014. A few months ago, Halios founder Jason Lim revealed photos of the final Delfin prototype on Facebook, showing off a watch that promises to be the next Halios classic.

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Halios is known primarily for making solid tool divers like the Puck and the Holotype, with the Tropik series—boasting a more refined aesthetic—representing a slight departure from the norm. The Delfin seems to fall smack-dab in the middle, sportier than the Tropik line but with a touch of finesse that builds on the elements that made the Tropik a big hit. At 44mm, it’s certainly a watch that commands attention, but it’s the little details that really make it stand out. The custom case design, ceramic bezel, applied markers, and matching date wheel speak to a level of finishing rarely seen at this price (the projected MSRP is $650), making the Delfin an incredible value. The only real noticeable (and regrettable) difference from the original specs is the lack of drilled lugs. Less a design choice and more a matter of expedience, Lim decided to forego this beloved detail after encountering a number of manufacturing issues, which would have undoubtedly led to more delays. The Delfin is expected to be ready in 4-5 weeks, but Lim warns that the timeline is not set in stone. For those who want to be notified upon its release, email info@halioswatches.com.

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The reveal of the Delfin is not the only news coming out of Halios HQ. In a recent post on Facebook, Lim enlightened Halios customers on a number of outstanding issues that have in recent months become extremely divisive.

For those of us with Tropik Bs, the promised bronze buckle has become something of a fabled unicorn. After a lengthy holdup resulting from issues with flighty suppliers, I’m happy to say that the buckles are now on their way to their owners.

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Likewise, Tropik SS owners are likely to see an end to their wait for a bracelet. Lim recently approved the latest endlink prototypes, and they are now in production. With the rest of the bracelet ready to go, the full package should be available for order quite soon.

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And finally, for anyone who regrets not getting on the Tropik SS bandwagon back when they were first released, Lim announced that a second batch of white and black dialed Tropiks are 7-8 weeks out. (He also announced a handful of remaining Tropik Bs, which were happily scooped up within hours.)

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Tourbillon 1000% by Nicholas Manousos

July 21st, 2014 by

Tourbillons don’t grace the pages of worn&wound often as they are typically found in watches that cost tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s not a matter of not wanting to discuss them, it’s a matter of not having the chance. Yes, there are some “affordable” ones on the market, but they are one of those things that is tied so closely with the skill, craft and expertise of seasoned watchmaking, that inexpensive alternatives just don’t really make sense. Well, the other day I got to experience a tourbillon like no other, one that I am very excited to present to you.

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The Tourbillon 1000% doesn’t exist in a watch movement, rather it’s a 3D printed scale model of the complication. Designed, engineered and made by Nicholas Manousos, it’s the result of 3 years of engineering and design, stands several inches tall, with large parts all clearly demonstrating the actions of the escapement and tourbillon carriage. It’s fun and colorful, like a child’s toy, but shows a very complicated piece of horology in action.

Nicholas is an interesting guy who, after working in California in the tech world for 15 years, decided to shift gears after a chance meeting with Peter Speake-Marin and go to watch making school. He attended the WOSTEP program in Miami, where he learned the ins and outs of watchmaking. Now, with his mix of experiences and skills, Nicholas is looking at horology from a different perspective, one that applies new technology to this old craft. Currently working out of his NYC apartment, he is designing, engineering and making strives in his pursuits, as is clearly seen in this first work.

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There’s a lot going on with the Tourbillon 1000%, so it’s worth taking a step back for a second and looking at an overview. First, there is the tourbillon. For those new to the world of watches, or those who want a brief refresher, this complication was designed by Abraham Louis Breguet in 1795. After becoming aware of the inaccuracy that occurred in watches (pocket watches at the time) in different positions he discovered that gravity was effecting the escapement. His solution was to rotate the escapement in a carriage at a fixed rate, thus the effect of gravity would be spread out over time, counter-acting the negative effects. Thus the tourbillon or “whirlwind” was born. 210 years later, it’s still one of the most revered complications, often used to demonstrate a brand’s manufacturing skills.

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Second, also on the horological front, is the co-axial escapement. Invented by George Daniels, and currently employed by Omega, the co-axial design minimizes friction in the escapement, eliminating the need for lubrication and prolonging servicing intervals. The mechanics get complicated, but Nicholas, using the Tourbillon 1000% as a guide, explained the advantages to me. Essentially, lever escapements (the kind typically found in a movement) employ sliding friction to operate, where as the co-axial is a direct impulse. In his design, this is critical, as the lever escapement, even at this scale and in plastic, would have required lubrication. (For a great refresher on how a watch works and an easy visualization of a lever escapement, check out the video below, relevant material starts at 5:18)

Lastly, there is the emerging technology of 3d-printing or rapid prototyping. Though it has been a round for a while (I actually worked in a 3D-printing center in grad school, several years ago) with the advent of smaller, less expensive printers, like the Makerbot, and services like Shapeways, 3D-printing went from a tool for designers and engineers to a public fascination. There are various forms of 3D printing, from ones that use lasers to bond powders together, to UV printers that catalyze liquid plastics by using UV light, to the more common rapid deposition variety, where molten plastic is layered to form a solid, all of which offering benefits and negatives, from resolution to cost. Nicholas uses a printer of the last variety, which prints at a resolution of 200 microns, allowing for precise tolerances.

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Everything but the jewels are 3D-printed from PLA, a biodegradable plastic, in the Tourbillon 1000%, where he uses skateboard bearings to get the job done. As an abundant, functional and easily obtainable stand-in, the bearings make a lot of sense for his design. The Tourbillon itself is big and chunky in a fun way. It’s also colorful, with each component standing out for easy recognition. This is perhaps my favorite thing about the 1000%. It demystifies something quite complex in a fashion that is neither pretentious or arrogant.

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The construction of the 1000% clearly indicates this with the use of large, easily manipulated screws. In a few seconds you can take the whole thing apart, look at the individual components, and then reassemble it again. In fact, I had the pleasure of doing this very task, and through seeing it come together, gained a new understanding of how parts interwork…

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Of course, as with a watch movement, the real magic occurs when it comes to life. Standing upright, on the carriage, one can simply place a finger on a tooth of the fourth gear, which is on the opposite side from the balance, and let the weight of their hand act as the power source, and then… click, click, click, it instantly is in motion. The balance spring beats before your eyes as the balance wheel slowly, hypnotically swings back and forth at 1hz. Within, you can see the roller engage the pallet, which receives pulses from the escapement, all meshing seamlessly together. To see the Tourbillon effect more clearly, one holds the fourth wheel in hand, and pushes on the carriage (the grey frame) which then slowly rotates around the balance, moving a small distance per beat.

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It’s really quite a remarkable thing to behold. It’s almost surreal how something that, while completely inert and made of materials that are perceived of as “cheap” can, with just a bit of added energy, perform a set of complex tasks. Not the least of which is beat at regular intervals. Though I don’t need a reminder as to why I love wearing a watch, seeing this brings that sense of awe over what is really going on at the micro level in that funny object strapped to my wrist to the surface.

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Anyway, the Tourbillon 1000%, if you haven’t gotten the gist yet, is a really cool thing. As an object it’s alluring and as a teaching tool it’s effective. It’s just a very exciting development from an up and coming watchmakers who clearly is going about things in his own way. The 1000% is actually a part of his research, more than it is a final product, so you know great things are to come. As far as purchasing goes, Nicholas didn’t make this to be a mass produced product, so availability is limited. If you are interested, head to www.nicholasmanousos.com and contact him directly.

by Zach Weiss

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w&w instagram round-up #29

July 20th, 2014 by

This was a big week for us on Instagram, as worn&wound now has over 10k followers! We want to say thank you to everyone who follows us, whether you are a new comer or have been with us since we started the account! We appreciate immensely, and are already looking to our next milestone, 20k… hopefully we’ll be there soon! Anyway, here’s 12 awesome shots for you, enjoy!

In order for your picture to be considered it should:

a. include the hashtag #wornandwound and @wornandwound
b. be a watch related photo. It doesn’t have to be a watch on your wrist, but watches should be at the core of the image
c. be awesome (naturally)

Be sure to follow us on Instagram to stay up to date on what we’re up to, what watches we’re looking at and to be eligible for future giveaways. We also just appreciate your support!

zachcurd

@zachcurd and a vintage Zodiac chrono

@wristtime and a Hamilton Khaki Field

@wristtime and a Hamilton Khaki Field

@watchingmpls and a Hygge chrono

@watchingmpls and a Hygge chrono

@ulfmeister and a vintage Raketa

@ulfmeister and a vintage Raketa

@thevictorgg and a Tissot Tradition

@thevictorgg and a Tissot Tradition

@sangwoo.seok and a Damasko DA37

@sangwoo.seok and a Damasko DA37

@racerx66 and a Raven Vintage

@racerx66 and a Raven Vintage

@marks_watches and a Rossling & Co.

@marks_watches and a Rossling & Co.

@jho017 and a Seiko 5 SNK

@jho017 and a Seiko 5 SNK

@gshobbies and a Sinn U1

@gshobbies and a Sinn U1

@calvingsc and an Oris Artix GT

@calvingsc and an Oris Artix GT

@alistairasaurus and a Seiko SNDA65 on a w&w Model 1 Rye

@alistairasaurus and a Seiko SNDA65 on a w&w Model 1 Rye

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Introducing the Oris ProPilot Altimeter

July 18th, 2014 by

Who on earth ‘needs’ a watch with an altimeter? ‘Wants’ is a different matter.

So there you are at 15,000ft, about to tip your Mk XVI Spit into a dive.  You thumb the Merlin up to full boost then, casually – because you’re that sort of chap – you glance down to check your aircraft altimeter against your watch’s. Happens all the time, surely?

Oris have made a watch with a mechanical altimeter.  Why?  What on earth is the point?  You know what – the ‘why’ doesn’t matter.  After all, your local swimming bath is less than 3 metres deep, but you still wear a Sub. You probably don’t own a Formula 1 car but you wear a Tag Heuer F1.  Chances are you’re not a pilot – but it doesn’t matter either because this watch is an Industry First.

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Let’s look at the background…

The Oris Aviation Collection.  Watches and aviation.  It’s really a bit of a conceit.  Modern (and even older planes) have all the built-in gadgetry you need to fly.  You need a watch when you fly like you need a Sub when you dive.  But that’s not the point.  In fact, in Watchworld, practicality of function is seldom the point.  Watchmakers don’t do it because it’s useful, they do it because they can.

The ProPilot Alti is the first watch with a mechanical altimeter built-in.  But surely it’s easy to be a bit blase about an altimeter watch nowadays?  After all, you can nip onto the web and pick up a Casio, a Timex, a Citizen or a Suunto that’ll tell you just how high you are.  But this Oris is different…

Oris is one of the few independent watchmakers still run by the people who own it.  They’ve been building proper mechanical watches in the Jura mountains since 1904.  And the Hölstein business is one that’s run by enthusiasts, not people whose idea of a good time is counting beans.

The Oris ProPilot Altimeter is a properly clever piece of watchmaking.  Not only will it tell you how high you are, it’ll tell you what the barometric pressure is too.  That’s because the watch contains a wrist-sized mechanical pressure sensor.  That’s clever as.  Even cleverer is the altimeter indicator hand.

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An altimeter is a chunky bit of machinery, so the indicator hand needed to be light and thin to save space and weight.  But light and thin hands bend.  And that makes them inaccurate.  Unless, of course, you make them from laminated carbon fibre.  This one is ten times stiffer than a standard, metal hand. Seven times lighter too. If that doesn’t give you a few bragging rights, nothing will.  Told you this was a clever bit of watchmaking.  Why don’t more makers do it?

So how does it work?

Shrug off your Irvin jacket, pull off your sheepskin flying boots, pour a decent measure and watch…   Take your ProPilot Altimeter and unscrew the 2 o’clock crown (noticing that there’s also one at 4 o’clock).  That’ll do all the normal gubbins of setting the time, date and initial winding.

Now, unscrew that 4 o’clock crown. When it’s screwed down, you have a case that’s water-resistant to 10 bar.  Unscrew it and you can start using the altimeter.   Notice how you can see a red ring on the crown’s shaft?  Splendid.  That’s important – remember it for later.

Now you’ve unscrewed the crown, you can calibrate the altimeter.  Once done, you simply read altitude from the outer dial ring’s yellow indicator and scale and barometric pressure from the inner ring’s red scale and indicator. You can read up to 15,000 feet of altitude. If you’re feeling a little more metric, you can order a Ref. No. 733 7705 4164 TS with a metre scale.  Then you can ask your batman to nip off and pour you a little refresher after all the hard work.

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Now, remember that red ring?  It shows you that the altimeter is working AND, when you’ve finished taking your reading, that the crown needs screwing in again to return the watch to its 100m/10 bar water resistant status.

With the case needing to be at least partially open to the air, water-resistance is a big deal for a mechanical barometer/altimeter watch.  Oris have it nailed and have used a polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) membrane to keep moisture out and the case dry, even when using the altimeter.   Otherwise a spilled G&T from the mess could do untold damage.

Inside the multi-part stainless 47mm case is a movement based on the Sellita SW200, a cal.733 in Orisspeak.  That’s rather like an ETA 2824 for comparison.  Solid, workmanlike, unbustable.  38 hour power reserve, automatic and easy parts availability for when it needs a service.

Sorry – what was that?  How big?  47mm?  That’s b-i-g.  In fact, the Japanese had a Mk I anti-tank gun that fired shells the same diameter in WWII.  This is not a small, unobtrusive watch in the same way that the Lancaster was not a small, unobtrusive bombing aircraft.  But, like the Lanc, it carries its size and weight well.  It’s intended to be a proper instrument too, so it gets away with its size.  After all, a little 36mm thing isn’t going to cut it against all those cockpit lights.

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Oris have, yet again, done that thing they do so well.  They’ve built a watch that is different and engaging, designed and made by people who clearly give more than a damn at a price that doesn’t need a second mortgage.  In fact, you can pick one of these beauties up for $3,700 with textile strap, $3,900 with metal bracelet from from September this year.  Not cheap, sure, but a watchworld first for under $4k.

Oris have a knack of making gorgeous watches that are different from the rest of the ticking herd.  They say this is “a high-performance instrument for pilots, mountaineers, explorers and research scientists, who work at altitude.”  You may say “Meh.  It’s just gorgeous anyway.”

The ProPilot is a gloriously over-the-top, beautiful piece of watchmaking.  Who cares if you don’t really own that Spitfire?

by Mark McArthur Christie

1 Comment

Introducing the Portsea by Melbourne Watch Co.

July 17th, 2014 by

When last we looked at Melbourne Watch Co., I was pleasantly impressed by their first watch, the Flinders. It was well executed, refined, had a few surprising details and, most importantly, was enjoyable to wear. Beyond all else, it made me make a mental note that Melbourne Watch Co had some design chops, some clever ideas and clearly was a brand to watch. Today, we’re excited to talk about their next watch, the Portsea, which is currently kicking ass over on Kickstarter, having quickly blown through the initial goal and one stretch goal.

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It seems as though Marine Chronometer inspired watches are making a bit of a comeback. Sure, several brands have seemingly always offered classic interpretations, but we’ve seen a handful recently release ones, both affordable and not, that take the look, restyle it, making watches that are new designs. The Portsea is one of these watches, and to date is the most unique and perhaps the best looking. Named after a seaside locale on the Mornington Peninsula, the Marine DNA of the watch is clear, but there are added layers of complexity both visually and mechanically.

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Starting from the inside, the Portsea is powered by a Miyota 9120 automatic. This movement is essentially one of their 9015‘s, the growing favorite Japanese automatic, with added calendar complications. As such, you have sub-dials at 3 and 9, which indicate the month and day, respectively. You then have the date at 6, completing the triple calendar. Typically, this movement would also have a 24-hr sub-dial at 6, but Melbourne removed that, thus cleaning up the dial and allowing for the date at 6. Typically, Marine watches are time only, likely with a sub-seconds dial.

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The dial then takes the Marine vocabulary and executes it with some interesting twists. Most notably is the use of a ceramic disk, which includes the main index and rings for the sub-dials. The disk, which appears to have a blasted finish, stands off of the main dial, creating a textured and layered display. Further emphasizing this, the dial below has a pattern of indented horizontal lines (perhaps a nod to the Nautilus?), and above the disk is a chapter ring with a railroad index, for 3 layers. The indexes themselves stay true to the Marine style, with clear, almost sterile Arabic numerals and a serif typeface for lettering.

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The ring shaped sub-dials are particularly interesting and different. Sub-dials that sit below the main dial are so common that this obvious but effective twist creates a lot of visual intrigue. The play between the hand that has to raise through the center, the ring and its index as well as the textured dial beneath creates something that, in photos at least, is eye-catching. The dial will also be available in classic white with black markings and an unexpected navy blue with white markings, which is also a nice departure from the norm.

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The 316L steel case of the Portsea is 40mm in diameter, comes in polished steel or PVD rose gold (limited edition) and features a flat sapphire crystal. The design is classical and handsome with long slender lugs coming off of a slab-sided central case. The bezel, which is rounded and polished, is set in from the edge a bit and just below the lip of the lugs, creating a series of steps for a decorative detail. The case back has a surprising amount of intricacy with a 3-dimensional stamped “Nautical scene”, which includes an anchor, a trident and various other sea-worthy icons. It has a lot more depth than a typical etching or engraving, for an impressive, albeit hidden, scene.

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Melbourne set out to get $25,000 AUD on Kickstarter to fund the Portsea and have already surpassed that, plus their first stretch goal of $45,000 AUD to include German made alligator straps with the timepieces. At just about 60k (at the time of writing this) they are set to hit their next stretch goal of $75k to include AR coating on all sapphire crystals. Though they hardly seem to need our help getting the job done, if you’re interested, this is best way to get the Portsea at a bit of a discount. The eventual retail price will be about $725, but if you pick it up on KS, the pre-production cost is as low as $595 (there was a less expensive option, but it’s already gone!).

As a fan of the Marine style, I’m quite excited by what Melbourne has put together and am looking forward to getting my hands on one. Marine watches are interesting and fun to wear. They have formal qualities, speaking to classical aesthetics that date back to John Harrison, technical qualities, speaking to Nautical instruments and even a touch of sporty qualities too, with larger more bulky cases than a dress watch. As such, they are versatile watches that can be dressed up or down for the occasion or season.

It’s worth noting that there are some changes that will be made between the samples shown and production model, all for the best (from their KS page):

Hands – The “M” on the prototype seconds hand is undersized. This will be corrected for production to be similar to our previous models
Dial – We will be adding spacers between the mid and base dial layers to enhance the depth effect. We will also be enhancing the base layer horizontal pattern effect and overall colour palette and the cut out at 6 o’clock will be removed as it is no longer required for visibility of the date window.
Case – The “M” logo will be engraved onto the crown as per our previous models.
Case Back – We will be replacing the current screws with versions that do not protrude as substantially from the case.
Straps - The prototypes came fitted with deployant clasps. The production version will have regular buckles as per our previous models.

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Squale x Page&Cooper Vintage Master Review

July 16th, 2014 by

Occasionally, things come together in a product, like stars aligning, that elevate it above and beyond what is expected. When Jonathan of Page&Cooper told me he was working on a collaboration with Squale, during a conversation that took place at Basel 2013, I was immediately intrigued. It’s always interesting when a retailer and brand work together to create something different, as they tend to take more risks, but they don’t always turn out for the best. Knowing Page&Cooper, which is a model of what internet based watch retailers should be, as well as Squale, a brand everyone should know (for a succinct history, check out our review of their 50 Atmos model), I had a strong feeling these would not just be successful, they’d be exceptional.

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Slowly details dripped in on the watch and my excitement grew regularly until the great reveal. The Squale X Page&Cooper Vintage Master LE; a series of 60 watches broken up into 3 styles; silver/black, azure blue/black and all black, a mere 20 of each. The watch, a recreation of an early 60’s Squale model, would feature NOS bezels that had been found in the Squale archives, just waiting to see the light of day. These bezels, which are the star of the show though with a strong supporting cast, define “they don’t make ‘em like they used to,” but we’ll get more into that later. They also defined the scale of the watch, limiting it to a delightful, comfortable and proportionally appropriate 39mm.

With this, the challenge was set for Squale and Page&Cooper. Not only did they want to use the NOS bezels, they wanted to bring back, in the best of their abilities, a watch that has long since been available. So they created new 39mm cases in a style that would suit the period, outfitted them with domed acrylic crystals and achieved a 250m water resistance. Though they could have used sapphire to modernize, acrylic was very intentionally chosen to stay true to the heritage of the watch, and proved to be a difficult task to make, especially at the small quantity they were ordering. They, along with much the rest of the watch, ended up being made in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, in many of the same factories that produced the original Master watches, by many of the same skilled craftsmen. In fact, the final assembly is executed by Squale’s most experienced watchmaker, Franco, who is retiring once this project is complete.

While the style and some components are vintage, the top grade 2824-2 movement inside is thoroughly modern. Accompanying the watch are 2 perfectly chose straps, a cloth “Diver’s Roll” made by Saville Row tailor Timothy Everest, and a pocket knife by Joseph Rodgers, an old and prestigious british cutlery brand. Considering the scarcity (the blue is already sold out), extras and historical components, the asking price of £1,099 or about $1,880 seems like a fair price. Big thanks to Jonathan for giving us the opportunity for an exclusive hands-on review of the Squale X Page&Cooper Vintage Master, so let’s get to it.

Squale x Page&Cooper Vintage Master Review

SQUALE_PAGEANDCOOPER_VINTAGE_MASTER_FACES1Case: Steel
Movement: ETA 2824-2
Dial: Black, Blue, Silver
Lume: Yes
Lens: Acrylic
Strap: Leather + Rubber
Water Res.: 250M
Dimensions: 39 x 47.7mm
Thickness: 13.6 mm
Lug Width: 22 mm
Crown: 6 x 4 mm
Warranty: Yes
Price: £1,099 / $1,880

Case

Measuring 39 x 47.8 x 13.6mm (to the top of the dome) with 20mm lugs, the Vintage Master is a refreshing departure from today’s bloated divers. The case is slight and elegant, with simple forms and sharp edges, relating more to what we’d associate with modern casual than tool designs. From above, the bezel has a commanding presence, followed by  long, slender tapering lugs. One distinctly vintage detail is the lack of crown guards surrounding the screw-down Von Buren signed crown, which is accurate to the early 60’s. Aesthetically, it keeps the mass of the watch down a bit, and emphasizes the bezel.

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Though the geometry of the case appears very simple, there are some subtle points of interest. When looking down the case, one can see that the sides, though flat, taper in towards the top of the watch. This makes the bezel protrude out farther, making it easier to grasp, without actually being much wider than 39mm. The profile of the case itself is quite simple, being nearly flat with a slight turn down by the lugs to contour with the wrist. Finishing is also straightforward, but well executed, with brushing along the top surfaces and polished sides.

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Of course, you might not notice any of that, as you are likely to get stuck looking at just the gorgeous old stock bezels. What makes these cool isn’t just that they are old, but rather how they were made. Dimensional steel markers were applied on a painted surface, and then the whole thing was filled in with epoxy. This creates the look of a tactile, 3-dimensional surface that more resembles a dial than a bezel, and has a formal elegance that is unexpected on a dive watch. On top of that are the moments of patina found randomly where the colors have faded or the tritium has turned, creating something unique and textured.

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Unlike modern divers, it is a bi-directional friction bezel. This means that rather than having a ratcheting/locking mechanism, it is essentially free spinning, just with a tight fit. It’s tight enough that it doesn’t move on its own, and would have to be bumped pretty hard to spin. As this watch is more of a tribute to a brand and time period than a hardcore diver’s watch, I don’t see this as an issue. Especially since they went out of their way to try to keep things original. Modifying the bezels to accept a ratcheting mechanism would have betrayed the concept.

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Similarly, the domed acrylic crystal ties the watch together. Though they had to go out of their way to make it, it was the right choice for the watch. It’s authentic to the design and period, and adds a greasy sheen that is unique to plastics, thus relating to the epoxy bezel surface. Flipping the watch over reveals a nicely decorated screw down case back. The plate features an etching with various details on top of a wave pattern. It has both Squale and Page&Cooper logos as well as the edition number of the watch out of the 60 made.

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Dial

The dials of the vintage masters are new, but were designed in accordance to the originals. As such, you have an interesting mix of elements that speak to early dive watch concepts. There are 3 different dial colors, each chosen to emphasize one of the bezel variations, but we’ll look at that in a moment. The basic layout consists of a main index of applied lume filled steel markers at 12, 6 and 9, lumed squares for the other hours and a date window at 3. The markers all feel very mid-century. The applied markers in particular feel like a transplant from a dress watch, but in doing so add character one seeks out in vintage pieces. Similarly, the lume squares stay in one position rather than rotate with the angle of the hour, which is quirky, but cool looking. Between the markers are white or black lines (dial color depending) for the minute/second.

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Squale watches tend to have a lot of text/logos on their dials, and the Vintage Master is no different. Below twelve is the Von Buren Squale logo and above 6 is a small cluster of things. In small type it reads 25 ATM above 825 ft, nestled in the curving Squale shark logo. Beneath that it reads Master in a script font that, too, has a slight curve. For the hands, they went with a simple and classic straight sword in polished steel with lume filling and a stick seconds with a lumed block. No complaints about these here, they look right on the watch, are easy to read, and have surprisingly strong lume.

The color combinations take the three watches in different directions. Starting with the simplest, the black dial / black bezel combo is clean, sporty and sober. The dial here is matte black, making the markers stand out very clear, with a lot of contrast. Similarly the black bezel surface emphasizes the steel markers applied on it. Though this model has the least immediate wow factor, and perhaps looks a bit more modern, it has grown on me the most of the group, simply because of its versatility.

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The silver dial model is immediately very different, with more going on overall. The dial is a light silver sunburst, giving it a metallic and more formal appearance. Instead of white, text and markers on black on this dial for contrast. Similarly, the lumed squares have been outlined in black to give them a little more pop. The bezel is particularly nice, with two shades of cool grey under the applied markers. The top half is a dark graphite with a hint of teal while the bottom half is more of a neutral gray though with hints of blue. Together, the dial and 2 bezel tones come together for a very nice harmony. Of the group, this one to me feels the least like a dive watch and the most like a general sporty/casual design.

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Lastly, is the already sold out blue dial / bezel combo. I’m not surprised that this model was the most popular, as it is unique, and the most retro of the choices. The dial is a rich, medium blue sunburst that is bright and eye catching. All of the markings pop off of it, making it very legible. The bezel hits a perfect mid-century note with a near black teal top half (darker than on the silver dial) and a sea-foam blue/green lower half (what Page&Cooper refer to as “azure blue”). Together, the three colors are energetic and playful, clearly speaking to diving and the summer.

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Straps and Wearability

The Vintage Master’s come paired with 2 well-chosen 20mm straps, one for sport, one for fashion, but both very wearable. First you have a vintage style leather strap, with a tapered design. It’s a thick piece of stiff leather, vegetable tanned I would presume, that is not filled with foam, rather is straight leather. There is no stitching running down the side, but there are contrast stitches by the lugs and buckle. The buckle is cool too, with a aft profile that looks very mid-century. These are good looking and easy to wear straps that give the watches a bit of added rugged style.

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The other strap is a vintage styled rubber that is, honestly, the coolest rubber strap I’ve encountered. It has a notched design by the lugs, giving it extra width that allows for a smooth flow from the case in to the dramatically tapering design, which goes from 22mm to 16mm. The strap has a 3-dimensional top side, with channels running around the sizing holes and 3 large holes by the lug, akin to a rally strap. It looks very aggressive and sporty, while also speaking to the vintage aspects of the design. The rubber is also pleasantly thin at just about 2mm, making for a very comfortable strap.

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On the wrist, the Vintage Masters wear wonderfully. They remind you of how nice a smaller sport watch is. Actually, not just nice, but ideal. The watches don’t wear or feel small, rather they are well proportioned, compact and sturdy. Since they are divers, and the bezels are particularly eye-catching, they have an “all-dial” feel, which makes them be perceived as larger. In the end, they fit nicely on my 7” wrist and will fit wrists of many other sizes well too.

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In terms of looks… well, if you like dive watches, vintage watches, vintage dive watches, etc… they will be immediately very appealing. The mix of new and old components creates something dynamic that looks like one but feels like the other. The touch of patina and irregularity in the bezels gives you that character and story one seeks in a vintage piece, but the rest is very robust, so it can be worn like any other watch. Because of the smaller case and more formal elements in the design, these work as sport watches, casual watches and if dressed up properly, could be a fun watch to wear with a suit. Though I didn’t have one around to try, I bet a Milanese bracelet would look amazing on any of these.

Packaging and Accessories

To tie the whole project together, Page&Cooper went above and beyond with the extras, bringing a bit of British heritage into the project as well. First, you have the outer box, which might look very plain, but is in fact a specially chosen archival box with brass staples. Open it up, and you are presented with one of three fabric dive rolls, made specially for this project by Timothy Everest of Saville Row, a highly revered tailoring house that has made suits for films and celebrities. You will also find a specially made booklet telling the story of the watches from the finding of the bezels through

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The rolls come in bone white, denim blue or dark blue, all with royal blue straps that hold them together. This isn’t a watch roll, in the sense that it is not designed to hold several watches for travel, rather it is meant to keep one Vintage Master and it’s accompanying goods together. So inside you have a few slots, one for a warranty card, one for a spring bar tool, one for the Joseph Rogers pocket knife, one for an extra strap and lastly, one for the watch. The rolls are gorgeous, and certainly where you would keep the watch when not on your wrist or in a winder.

The last piece of kit is the aforementioned Joseph Rodgers pocket knife. Founded in 1682, Joseph Rodgers is an old English brand with a rich history. Now owned by the Egginton group, their knives are still manufactured in Sheffield. This simple pocket knife is all steel with brass rivets, featuring both brands logos, one of each side. It features, a non-locking knife and a locking bottle opener. It’s a cool little perk that builds on the story, and works as a keepsake for this special project.

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Conclusion

All in all, the Squale x Page&Cooper Vintage Masters are a hit. They look great, are fun to wear, but more importantly, they tell a story. They celebrate the history of a great and under discussed brand, Squale, and the promise of a fairly new and exciting brand, Page&Cooper. Yes, P&C are our friends, so that is biased, but what other on-line retailers are taking risks on cool and unique projects like this?

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At £1,099 or about $1,880 these aren’t pocket money inexpensive, but are fairly priced for such limited pieces, especially ones with old stock components. The accessories that come with them add value and make them all the more special and fun to own. The fact that a new, top grade ETA 2824-2 is moving the hands doesn’t hurt either. So, if you’re a dive watch enthusiast, a vintage watch collector, a fan of Squale and/or Page&Cooper, I have a feeling you’re going to want to seriously consider these. Just don’t take too long as they are going fast. I also have a feeling owners will hang onto these, so don’t expect them to popup on forums any day soon.

by Zach Weiss

7 Comments

Personal Style: A Conversation with Hooman Majd

July 15th, 2014 by

When Hooman Majd and his longtime friend Ken Browar launched their men’s lifestyle blog, The House of Majd, in 2012, they didn’t do so with the intention of creating one of the most insightful menswear sites on the web. But in a space saturated with far too many bloggers incapable of writing anything of real substance, that’s exactly what they achieved.

“Style is not about impressing other people, it’s not about fashion or about wealth; it’s about how you live your life with what you can have.” -Hooman Majd

Majd isn’t your typical style blogger, and that’s a good thing. Born in Tehran to a family in the diplomatic service, he spent most of his young life living abroad, attending a boarding school in England and later college in the United States. He was at one time the Executive Vice President of Island Records before the recording industry imploded, and at the age of 40 he returned to his first love—writing—tacking everything from style to international politics. Since then, he’s published three New York Times bestselling books exploring modern Iranian culture and politics (The Ayatollah Begs to Differ, The Ayatollahs’ Democracy, and The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay). He has also contributed to numerous publications, among them The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, The Los Angeles Times, Politico, GQ, and Salon.

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Today, in his mid-50s, Majd writes with something most bloggers lack—experience—and it’s this experience that really comes out in his work.  He doesn’t focus on fashion and trends (fret not, skinny-jean haters), nor does he accept advertising. Instead, Majd’s focus is an intimate look at style—specifically his own—and he explores the various facets of that style in romantically written posts paired with Browar’s professional photography. The beauty of the blog, and what makes it truly unique, is that it is wholly accessible; from posts about travel and luggage to posts about footwear and vintages wristwatches, there is something for everyone to take away.

I had the pleasure of asking Mr. Majd several questions about his background, style, and yes, even watches. Enjoy!

worn&wound: For our readers who may not know who you are, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? (And how you got involved in the “menswear” world).

Hooman Majd: I’m an author and journalist, based in NY. My main profession is writing—books and articles, and I’ve written for many publications apart from publishing three books. But I’ve also always been interested in style, and have had strong opinions about it—and have written for GQ and the NY Times Sunday Styles—and with my friends in the fashion business I suppose it was natural to venture into something like this blog.

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w&w: I’ve been reading The House of Majd since its inception in 2012. How did you and Ken come together to get this project started?

HM: Ken, my friend and a great photographer, suggested that we do this. He has always been complimentary about my style, and me of his photography. He thought I could do something more public with style, and he would photograph all our posts.

w&w: One of my favorite things about The House of Majd is that, unlike a number of other menswear blogs, it doesn’t read like a giant ad for a specific item or brand. Instead, you write about the things you seem to genuinely love and tell a story with each post. Everything feels organic. Was this something you intentionally set out to do?

HM: Indeed, and absolutely. We don’t take advertising, we don’t accept sponsors, and the idea was just to have a platform for style and taste. Hopefully people would come to enjoy the photographs and the writing, and perhaps even pick up a few tips. I could never write about something I didn’t like, or wasn’t to my taste.

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w&w: You write, “Style is not about impressing other people, it’s not about fashion or about wealth.” I’m a firm believer in the same. How would you describe your style, and how has it changed (or stayed the same) over the years in relation to this ethos?

HM: I suppose I’ve always been relatively conservative in style, but with a nod to fashion. Some things I think should stay the same—and that’s probably the whole heritage thing that’s fashionable now—so when it comes to jeans, sneakers, khakis and the like, I don’t think there’s much one should do beyond the basic, well-made stuff. But with suits, for example, I do think one is influenced by fashion to some degree, whether one even knows it or not. I used to have my suits made—I have enough that I don’t think I’ll have new ones made for quite some time (nor could I afford to anymore), and I think I chose a style of suit that would probably never be completely fashionable, but would always be stylish. Exaggerated proportions (except for a couple of 1930’s style suits that Savoia made for me) are what I stay away from. Although I admire Thom Browne tremendously and wear some things he makes, I think if I were to wear his suits as he cuts them I may regret the look in a few years. So basically I just try to stick with what I think works for me, and what is comfortable.

w&w: You and I are both big fans of Alden and Levi’s Vintage Clothing (the USA-made brand). What are some of your other favorite brands, and why?

HM: I’m a fan of anything well-made, and anything where the purpose isn’t just to sell you something, but where the maker has a purpose to create the best of something. Although Levis is a huge company, their bringing back their styles from as far back as a century ago—and making the jeans exactly as they did in the past—may be profitable for them, but also speaks to a desire to provide real quality and style. There are so many brands that are great—Red Wing shoes, Edward Green shoes, Sunspel, Crombie, Acquascutum, Kamakura shirts, Roberu (leather goods), Phigvel (Japan), and so many others the list would be too long….

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w&w: Some of my favorite posts on The House of Majd are the ones about your personal watch collection (by the way, I love that quirky Universal Genève chronograph). Can you tell me a bit about how you got into collecting watches, and what significance they have for you?

HM: Not all the watches are mine. The Universal and the Rolex bubbleback are Ken’s. I’ve always loved watches—jewelry for men, if you like—and when I could afford expensive ones I had them. Now I have a couple of vintage watches—not particularly valuable—that I’ve kept, but I just admire the look, and the workmanship, of watches, whether expensive or not.

w&w: Am I correct in my assumption that most, if not all, of your watches are vintage? What draws you to vintage pieces? (Full disclosure: I’m currently wearing a Seiko 6139 pepsi chronograph from the 70s.)

HM: Yes, and what draws me to them is not just the look, which can be fantastic, but the idea that they were created to last more than a lifetime (and do). Also, they are fashion-proof, and of course some vintage watches are a bargain compared to the equivalent new (some, of course, are extremely expensive).

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w&w: If price wasn’t an issue, what watch would you love to have strapped to your wrist right now, and why?

HM: A Cartier Tonneau in white gold, or a Vacheron Constantin “American 1921.” Because both are supremely elegant, and the Vacheron is elegant and unusual (originally a “driving” watch, with the face and crown offset from center).

w&w: What advice would you give a man who wants to develop his own personal style, but is a bit clueless as to where he should begin?

HM: No one is truly clueless, I believe, but sometimes a man needs inspiration. No one can help someone develop their own style, but I’d say to anyone that they shouldn’t try to copy style or fashion, but draw inspiration from it. And develop your style by trying things, and deciding what works for you, and more important, what you feel comfortable wearing.

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w&w: I really enjoyed your collaboration with Cremieux. Anything similar planned for the future?

HM: Indeed. We will be doing more collaborations, especially with clothing. And perhaps with Cremieux again!

by Ilya Ryvin

You can follow Ilya on Instagram: @RyvinI

photo credit: Ken Browar

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