It seems the media embargo is up, with seemingly dozens of publications publishing their Apple Watch Series 5 review today (The Verge and Hodinkee being perhaps the best). But, I always look to Jonathan Gruber’s Daring Fireball for the best and hottest Apple takes. He’s particularly adept at explaining his experiences with the Apple Watch from the perspective of a self-professed watch lover. He’s talked about his love affair with his Rolex Submariner before, explaining that, even as an Apple fanboy, he prefers analog watches.
Tell me if this sounds familiar: you’re perusing the internet late at night or scrolling through your Instagram feed, when you spot a good-looking watch from a brand you’ve never heard of. You quickly realize you’ve discovered a new microbrand, and while you’re tempted to make a purchase, you also don’t want to drop a large chunk of change on a watch you’ve never even seen in person before.
Well, Rich Park (YouTube: whatsonthewrist) also kept encountering this problem, and heard of others with the same problem. So, he decided to do something about it. Enter MicroLux.
While there’s plenty of places in Chicago to go shopping for watches (see my list here), there’d always been a certain lack of brand boutiques that meant Chicago could never compete with cities like New York, London, or even Miami or Los Angeles as a watch shopping destination. In almost an instant, that’s changed, with the opening of three boutiques from Richemont’s stable of brands.
IWC, Panerai, and A. Lange and Sohne have all announced the opening of brand boutiques at 11 E Walton Street, in the Waldorf Astoria hotel.
Earlier this year, Zenith announced its Zenith Defy El Primero Boutique-Exclusive Limited Edition. It’s a cool modern watch, and an astounding technical achievement: the Defy El Primero 21 beats at a frequency of 360,000 vph (50 Hz), ten times that of its El Primero predecessor, enabling 1/100th of a second precision. But still, I didn’t think much of it — brands try to do boutique exclusives all the time to get people into their stores. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
The Zenith Defy was originally launched back in 1967, but Zenith revamped the line in 2017 (thanks, Jean-Claude Biver). Since then, it’s become a staple of Zenith’s collection and a platform for some of its most innovative experiments and concept watches.
In case you didn’t know, July 20th marked the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. My weekly newsletter was basically moon themed, I’ve covered results from Sotheby’s special Speedmaster auction, and I’m sure everyone is tired of the Speemaster wrist shots everyone else is posting on Instagram.
I’ve got one more (I promise) moon-themed post, and it’s just to highlight an awesome watch Unimatic released that sold out almost instantly. I’ve highlighted the Italian brand before, as I’ve long loved their classic Italian-inspired dive watches (think Panerai, kind of, but not really), but with a modern, minimalist twist.
To celebrate the moon landing, Unimatic released a special limited edition of its Modello Uno, calling it the Unamtic U1-SP (SP for “Space Program”). Production was limited to just 50 pieces, and it sold out almost as soon as Unimatic announced it.
As I covered just last week, Tom Ford has some rules for wearing watches in 2019. We knew from his recent runway show and release that his eponymous brand was gearing up to release its second wristwatch, this time a round model. It comes just a year after releasing the Tank style, quartz powered Tom Ford 001 collection (covered in-depth in the previous link).
Well, the Tom Ford 002 collection has been officially released, and it’s about what we expected. There’s some stuff to like and a lot not to like, so let’s dig in real quick. As promised, the 002 collection has a circular case, measuring 40mm in diameter. This seems a bit big for a bezel-less dress watch, but whatever. I also haven’t seen any thickness measurements yet, but I doubt it sits thin: the straps do this weird nato-like thing where they loop through the lugs. This is surely because Tom Ford is intent on selling you multiple straps, and making straps easy to change like this will encourage such additional purchases.
As we’ve covered before, smartwatch sales are booming. Sales were up 51% in 2018 the U.S., and a global new report shows there are no signs of slowing down. According to Counterpoint, global smartwatch shipments grew a healthy rate of 48% year-on-year (YoY) in Q1 2019 driven by Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and Huawei. The Apple Watch saw 49% YoY growth, driven by its latest Series 4 release, which doubled-down on health-related features like ECG, fall-detection, and other stuff.
According to Counterpoint, Apple has 35.8% market share worldwide as of Q1 2019, up slightly from 35.5% in 2018. Samsung was the closest competitor, with 11.1% of the market, up from 7.2% in 2018, thanks to 127% YoY growth. Turns out people like the latest Galaxy watch, with its extended battery life, traditional round face, and LTE connection capabilities. Fitbit sits at fourth with 5.5% of the global smartwatch market.
The approaching of May means the approaching of the spring auction season in Geneva. Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s are all hosting equally exciting auctions between May 12-14. Today, I’m taking a look at the lots coming up at the Christie’s sale. Christie’s has a bunch of exciting watches on the high end: Daytonas and Pateks of course, but also this a watch owned by Andy Warhol (more on that below), as well as an online-only auction with a bunch of accessibly-priced vintage timepieces. I’m going to highlight a few of my favorites from each auction. So let’s dig through all the “fine and rare” superlatives these auction houses love to shower upon their lots and see what’s actually worth a look.
In early 2018, Tom Ford and his eponymous brand launched their first watch, the Tom Ford 001. Now, they’re ready to release their first automatic watch. It looks like they new release will be in a classic round case, with both automatic and quartz movement options.
Tom Ford’s first watch effort is a collection of rectangular, tank-style, quartz-powered watches that come in 27mm x 40mm or 30mm x 44mm sizes. The rectangular case comes in 18k gold or stainless steel with either a brushed, polished, or matte finish. Prices range from $9,900 for the large 18k gold version to $2,190 for the medium stainless steel version.
The timepieces are being manufactured by Bedrock Manufacturing, a company we’ve covered here before as the parent company of Shinola and Filson (while being owned by the same guy who started Fossil).
Of course, just a few days after I write about my favorite “made in America” watches, everyone’s favorite American-based brand releases its own Made in American collection. But that’s what Timex has done with its new American Documents collection.
Timex was founded as the Waterbury Clock Company in 1854 in Waterbury, CT, and has called that area of Connecticut home ever since. Today, even though Timex USA is a subsidiary of Dutch-based Timex Group, there is still a strong corporate presence in Middlebury, CT, the home of its US headquarters.
I first came across Merci Instruments through an Instagram post by @mrgrandseiko. He was showing off this trio of beautifully simple field watches that I’d never seen before. Sure, they looked a little like the Timexes or Hamiltons I so often see, but there was something about these that made me stop scrolling for just a second (no small feat). The guy behind this account is always taking great photos, but even this one caught my eye. Turns out the group of watches I was looking at is made by a 10-year old French brand named Merci. It’s a retailer with one shop in the Marais neighborhood of Paris.
This week, eBay is auctioning off (click to check it out) a group of luxury watches in its “Time to Treat Yourself” auction. There are 51 watches total, ranging from Oris to five-figure timepieces from Rolex, Patek Phillipe and Audemars Piguet. Frankly, I see a lot of nice watches on eBay every day (and a lot more duds), and it’s unclear why some of the watches were included in this promoted auction. But, there are a few headliners in the auction worth pointing out.
Garmin has announced the launch of its new premium smart watch, the Marq Collection. The collection of watches, ranging in price from $1,500-$2,500, is certainly a move into the luxury watch market by Garmin, which has been a leader in the fitness-focused smartwatch space for years.