Sunday, 9 April 2017

Wristwatch Update: Tudor, Breitling, Zenith, Tag Heuer

Anyone with a foot in the wristwatch world will know that it was recently Baselworld, at which watch companies show their new products. I'm not bringing you a full report (thank heavens), but here are four watches that caught my eye from some of my favourites. All have in-house or proprietary (rather than bought-in) mechanical movements and owe their designs to strong brand DNA. (Web links below).

Tudor released a few models at Baselworld. Their Heritage Black Bay Steel (below) looks attractive, sticking to the historic Tudor diving watch style.

Tudor Black Bay Heritage

While I've yet to see the watch in the flesh (keep an eye on my Instagram account for updates), it works aesthetically with its steel bezel (a newly introduced alternative to existing black or coloured bezels), date function, 'snowflake' hands and fabric strap (pictured). This Tudor is competitively priced, particularly as it has an in-house movement, at £2370 with leather strap and £2580 with bracelet. The fabric strap (my favourite) comes with all watches.

This is the watch I'd take on holiday as it can be worn securely all the time, on the beach, in the water (it's a dive watch) and afterwards at dinner in a local restaurant. For more on my coverage of Tudor Watches click here.

Breitling is a brand I've long admired. When I collected vintage watches I never quite got round to owning one, but the model I would have sought was the Navitimer, a watch designed for pilots which has been going since the early fifties. As with all successful watch brands, Breitling preserves its heritage and this shows in the Navitimer Rattrapante (below) - a split seconds timer with an in-house movement that is also chronometer certified.

Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante

The split seconds timer allows more than one object to be timed (or lap times) on two chronograph hands which normally sit one on top of the other, but are shown apart in the image above. The seconds hand is the left-hand of the sub-dials, the others being elapsed time for the chronograph (stopwatch) function. Split seconds watches are not common and are complicated to make, so this is a pretty cool timepiece, although on the large size (for me) at 45mm. Priced at £9910 in steel with croc folding clasp strap.

Zenith - one of my favourite chronographs from my watch collecting days was a Zenith. Sold on long ago, sadly, it represented the brand which was the first to market an automatic chronograph, the El Primero. Like all the watch brands mentioned in this feature, Zenith have stuck to their design heritage with this lovely piece, the Zenith Defy El Primero 21. With a chronometer accuracy rating, titanium case and the high-beating mechanical movement characteristic of the Zenith, this is an updated 21st century version of the original.

It comes with a titanium case (44mm) with a white traditional dial or an open work dial, or with a black ceramic aluminium case with an open work dial (as above). Prices £8,300, £9,100, £9,900 respectively.

Tag Heuer

The original Heuer Autavia was another vintage watch I admired but never got round to owning. The name is a contraction of AUTomobile and AVIAtion, a name taken from the first dash counter for racing cars and aircraft created by Heuer in 1933. 

Worn by the best-known racing drivers of the 1960s and 1970s: Jochen Rindt, Mario Andretti, Jo Siffert, Clay Regazzoni - names that resonate with me from the romantic era of motor sport - it has been reborn as the Tag Heuer Autavia. This is a handsome watch indeed, with a useful 12 hour bezel for the international traveller (rotate it to show local time). A well-proportioned watch, I love the white on black sub-dials and brown leather strap (also available with a steel bracelet). Prices £3,900 to £4,000 (with strap or with bracelet).

Tudor Watches.
Tag Heuer

This is an unsponsored post. The watches I've selected are a personal choice of watches I spotted from Baselworld coverage or from information sent to me by the brands themselves.

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