Rolex GMT-Master II in Oystersteel: For the New Pepsi Generation

Almost as intriguing as the discovery of new watches every year at Baselworld are the guessing games that precede it, especially as regards Rolex. It’s become a cottage industry for online prognosticators to try to predict ahead of time what the Swiss power brand will roll out at the world’s biggest watch fair. However, few saw coming the timepiece that led off Rolex’s 2018 collection — a new version of the classic “Pepsi” GMT-Master II in “Oystersteel,” featuring several significant updates on both the inside and outside. We run through the most significant of them below.

The Rolex GMT-Master II Oystersteel features a new movement and a new Jubilee bracelet.

The 40-mm case made of Oystersteel — Rolex jargon for 904L stainless steel — is guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 300 meters, a robustness aided by a solid steel, fluted-edge caseback that is hermetically screwed down (with a special tool that is exclusive to Rolex) and the integrated crown guards emblematic of the GMT-Master II’s Oyster case flanking the screw-down crown. That recognizable Pepsi bezel frames a nearly scratchproof sapphire crystal, with the now-iconic Cyclops lens over the date window at 3 o’clock. For those not in the know, the bicolor bezel’s 24-hour scale can be synchronized with the red GMT hand on the dial to quickly and easily read the time in a time zone other than your own, while the hour and minute hands and date all continue to display the local time.

The screw-down crown and its guards help ensure a 100-meter water resistance.

The famous red-and-blue rotating GMT bezel, which appeared on the very first GMT-Master watch in 1955 and which inspired the model’s nickname, “Pepsi,” is here executed with a Cerachrom bezel insert, with red and blue ceramics that are exceptionally resistant to scratches, corrosion, and the effects of ultraviolet rays, which could otherwise dull the vibrant colors over time. Rolex makes its ceramics in-house, and the red segment of the 24-hour, bidirectionally rotating bezel proved to be exceptionally challenging: red ceramic cannot be created using the standard pigments, so Rolex needed to develop its own internal process, one for which it has filed several patent applications — certainly not a new experience for the company, whose list of watch-industry patents is extensive.

The Cyclops lens enlarges the date at 3 o’clock.

Speaking of patents: Rolex has 10 of them pending for technologies used in this watch’s all-new movement, Caliber 3285, which makes its debut in this model (as well as two other variants also launched at Baselworld, one in all-Everose gold, the other in gold-and-steel “Rolesor,” both with black-and-brown Cerachrom bezel inserts). Incorporating Rolex’s patented, energy efficient, magnetic-resistant Chronergy escapement, the movement is self-winding by means of a bidirectional rotor (hence Rolex’s designation of its movements as “Perpetual,” as in “will stay wound perpetually as long as you keep wearing it”), equipped with the brand’s exclusive blue Parachrom hairspring, which is 10 times more precise than the traditional type, and stores a power reserve of approximately 70 hours. Of course, like all Rolex watches since 2015, this one has aced the series of in-house tests necessary to achieve the “Superlative Chronometer” designation, which it touts on its black lacquered dial, orbited by white gold hands and studded at the hour markers with highly luminescent Chromalight appliqués.

The GMT-Master II is powered by the new manufacture Caliber 3285.

The other significant feature that Rolex fanatics will note right away is the bracelet — in the historical five-link “Jubilee” style rather than the more common three-link “Oyster” style. Created specifically for the first Rolex Datejust in 1945, the Jubilee bracelet was designed to be supple and comfortable, though it remains a subject of debate among serious connoisseurs of vintage and modern Rolex. Here it has engineered to integrate seamlessly into the case with a concealed attachment system. The bracelet is equipped with both the Oysterlock safety clasp (you’re seeing the theme here, right?) to prevent accidental opening and the Easylink quick-extension system — another Rolex patent, way back in 1966 —which allows the wearer to increase the bracelet’s length by 5 mm.

The five-link Jubilee bracelet debuted on the first Datejust in 1945.

The price of this new-generation GMT-Master II comes in just under 10 grand, at $9,250.

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Author: Mark Bernardo

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Hublot’s first smartwatch to be used by referees at World Cup 2018

Luxury watch brand Hublot has released its first smartwatch, which will be worn by referees at the FIFA World Cup in Russia this June.

The smartwatch, named Big Bang Referee, was designed for the FIFA World Cup 2018 at the request of the organisers and will allow referees on the pitch to connect to the video referee.

“Wanting a customised watch for the referees, FIFA asked Hublot to conceive the perfect watch to accompany them on the pitches during the matches,” said a statement from the company.

Hublot, the official timekeeper for this year’s World Cup, produced the smartwatch as controversial video-assisted referees (VAR) are set to be used at the tournament for the first time.

It will allow referees to communicate with the video assistants, which are used to confirm whether or not the ball crossed the goal line.

“The referees’ watches will be connected to goal-line technology, an electronic video assistance system for refereeing which follows all the trajectories of the ball and determines for certain if the ball did or did not entirely cross the goal line,” said a statement from the company.

The watch’s design is based on Hublot’s existing Big Bang series, featuring a kevlar insert and a bezel decorated with six H-shaped screws.

However, its dial is slightly thicker than the standard Big Bang model in order to contain the electronics needed for internet connectivity.

Designed with football fans in mind, the watch also comes with a range of World Cup-related functions. The smartwatch will send a notification 15 minutes before each of the matches begins and will also alert users to goals, and red or yellow cards.

During games, the watch face will display match statistics. If a team scores, it will vibrate and show the word “goal”.

“The Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia offers all the usual features of a smartwatch of course, but that’s not where Hublot has applied its innovation and audacity. It brings together everything that inspires the passion of football lovers!,” said Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot.

“The FIFA World Cup is the Holy Grail of emotions for football fans, so just imagine what an object such as a watch that captures each and every one of its moments, its turning points, its stakes could suddenly represent? The football aficionados from among the brand’s friends have been waiting for this watch for a long time,” he continued. 

A limited number of 2,018 of the smartwatches are available to mark the year of the tournament. Reportedly priced at £3,700, they come with two straps and a range of dials in the colours of each participating nation. A range of custom straps are also available.

Hublot is the latest company to have released a smartwatch. Danish brand Skagen unveiled its first touchscreen smartwatch earlier this year, while Fitbit launched a device aimed at rivalling the Apple Watch in 2017.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off on 14 June. The 64 matches will take place in 12 stadiums across 11 host cities, all in the European part of Russia.

The final is scheduled to take place on 15 July 2018 at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

The post Hublot’s first smartwatch to be used by referees at World Cup 2018 appeared first on Dezeen.

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Author: Tom Ravenscroft

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Midnight Over Monaco: TAG Heuer Teams With Bamford for New Special Edition

TAG Heuer first worked with the customization specialists at London-based Bamford Watch Department in 2017, offering some of its customers an opportunity to personalize their favorite TAG Heuer timepiece. This year, at Baselworld 2018, TAG unveiled the first official watch built in collaboration with Bamford — a bold reinterpretation of the classic Monaco with a solid carbon case and aqua blue highlights.

The TAG Heuer Monaco Bamford Edition

The word “iconic” is thrown around quite a bit in the modern watch industry, but it’s fair to say that the Monaco — released in 1969 as the first square-cased automatic chronograph with a left-side crown — fits the description. TAG Heuer has offered numerous variations on it over the years, including the recent Gulf Special Edition, a tribute to the Monaco famously worn by actor Steve McQueen in the 1971 racing film Le Mans, but this dark-coated “stealth” version marks the first time carbon is used for a Monaco case. Like its brethren, this Monaco’s square case measures 39 mm in diameter and features a left-hand crown, here in black PVD steel, the material also used for the chronograph push-buttons on the right side. The carbon used for the case, TAG says, is “incredibly lightweight” yet “highly resistant” and imparts a very high-tech, swirling textured look. The company had to develop a special mold to sculpt the carbon material into the exact dimensions of the Monaco case.

A bright aqua blue is used for the black dial’s highlights.

The carbon case has an intriguing textural look.

The watch’s black opaline dial sports the Monaco model’s two squared subdials (30-minute chrono counter at 9 o’clock, running seconds at 3 o’clock), here lacquered in a luminescent aqua blue, matching the aqua blue Super-LumiNova on the hands, indices, date window, and the vintage Heuer logo and Monaco printing at 12 o’clock. (The historical logo, sans “TAG,” also appears in aqua blue on the crown, and its use has become more commonplace in recent years, especially on vintage-inspired special editions.)

The watch comes on a sleek black alligator strap.

Inside this revolutionary case, and beating behind a sapphire caseback with a special “Monaco Bamford” engraving, along with the watch’s limited edition number, is the self-winding Caliber 11, which powers all modern iterations of the Monaco. The movement has 59 jewels, a balance frequency of 28,800 vph, and a power reserve of 40 hours, and boasts a COSC certification for chronometric performance. The Monaco Bamford Edition (TAG Heuer has not specified how many pieces will be made) comes on a black alligator leather strap with a rubber lining. It will be available exclusively at TAG Heuer boutiques and select online stores, priced at $8,150.

The Monaco Bamford will be available only at select TAG Heuer retailers.

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Author: Mark Bernardo

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Omega Seamaster and Seamaster Diver 300M Limited Editions Celebrate Two Anniversaries

If recent Baselworlds have taught us anything, it’s that anniversaries have become a fertile ground from which many watch brands’ headliner products spring. And the iconic Omega Seamaster can claim two of them in 2018: 70 years since the release of the original Seamaster in 1948, and 25 years since the launch of the Seamaster Professional Diver 300M model in 1993. In honor of this august dual milestone, Omega is offering three commemorative limited editions — two retro-look models of the postwar Seamaster gents’ watch, and one Diver 300M in tantalum, the material it introduced to the watch world back in ’93 — in addition to revamping the core Seamaster collection.

Omega Seamaster 1948 Limited Editions

To start from, literally, the beginning: the Seamaster 1948 Small Seconds and Seamaster 1948 Central Second — both limited to 1,948 pieces in honor of their inaugural year — are about as close as one could come in this modern era to the design of the original Seamaster. Released to the market in the wake of World War II, the Seamaster made its mark in watch history by incorporating the water-resistant technology Omega used in the military watches it provided during the war years for the British Royal Air Force and others — including the innovative rubber O-ring gasket — into an everyday dress watch. (It wasn’t until 1957 — with the launch of the Seamaster 300, an anniversary commemorated last year — that the Seamaster transitioned fully into a sports watch.) The contemporary models are in modest, period-appropriate 38-mm stainless steel cases, fronted by opaline silvery domed dials with hands, applied numerals and indices, and a vintage-style Omega logo (aka the Greek letter Omega) in 18k white gold.

Omega Seamaster 1948 Central Seconds

The watches differ from each other somewhat subtly in their details. Obviously, one has a center-mounted hand for the running seconds while the other has this function on a subdial at 6 o’clock. Looking more closely, one will note that the hands on the Central Second model are Dauphine-style, with a slight dome to both the minute hand and seconds hand, while the hands on the Small Seconds are leaf-shaped, with only the minute hand domed. The Small Seconds watch comes on a brown leather strap, while the Central Seconds is on a blue-gray leather strap; both close with a steel buckle shaped like a vintage Omega logo.

Omega Seamaster 1948 Small Seconds

The movement in these historically derived pieces, of course, is thoroughly modern: Omega’s Co-Axial Master Chronometer Caliber 8804 (Small Seconds)/8806 (Central Second), of which we have written at length previously (notably here and here). In short, it’s self-winding, magnetic-resistant to 15,000 Gauss, high-frequency (25,200 vph), decorated to exacting haute horlogerie standards, and possessed of a hefty 60-hour power reserve. It is also visible through a flat, sapphire caseback that is itself somewhat special, laser-engraved and hand-lacquered with a 70th Anniversary logo and the images of a Chris-Craft boat and Gloster Meteor plane, visual tributes to the RAF and its historic usage of Omega’s earliest water-resistant watches. The steel frame around the sapphire window is engraved with “NAIAD LOCK,” ‘SEAMASTER LIMITED EDITION” and the limited edition number. Both 1948 Editions come in a special collectors’ box, which also includes a spare NATO strap in Admiralty gray, a spare leather strap, and a strap-changing tool.

Omega’s Master Co-Axial Caliber 8804 is on display through the decorated caaeback.

Fast-forward to 1993, and the debut of the Seamaster Professional Diver 300M, a watch that “signaled Omega’s return to the world of diving watches,” according to the brand, as well as becoming the model that sparked its ongoing partnership with cinematic superspy James Bond. That first Seamaster Diver 300M introduced a robust, blue-gray, corrosion-resistant metal called tantalum to the world of watches — interestingly, a material still used only sparingly throughout the horological world by a relative handful of brands due to its density and high melting point. Headlining the 14 new Seamaster Diver 300M models that Omega introduced this week at Baselworld is a limited-edition that blends tantalum with both titanium and Omega’s proprietary Sedna gold.

The Omega Seamaster Professional Diver 300M Titanium Tantalum is limited to 2,500 pieces.

The watch bears all the hallmarks of the Seamaster Diver’s 25th-anniversary “facelift” that debuted at Baselworld this week: a larger case size of 42 mm; polished ceramic dial with a new laser-engraved execution of the wave motif that debuted on the original model; the same wave motif on the edge of the caseback and sapphire crystal of the exhibition caseback; a new, patented conical helium-release valve; and an integrated bracelet. (Stay tuned to for a full report on the revamped Seamaster Diver 300M collection.) But whereas the models in the main collection use ceramics for their rotating divers’s-scale bezels, the Seamaster Diver 300M Titanium Tantalum Limited Edition uses a tantalum base holding a Sedna gold bezel ring (for more on that proprietary alloy, click here). Grade 2 titanium serves as the metal for the main case and bracelet, with tantalum, its unique blue-gray tones providing a subtle contrast, making another appearance as the bracelet’s middle links. Other touches of Sedna gold round out the picture, drawing pleasant attention to the crown, helium release valve, and borders of the middle bracelet links, as well as the framework of the luminescent-coated hour and minute hands and hour indices.

Omega’s proprietary Sedna gold joins titanium and tantalum on the watch’s case and dial.

On the reverse side of the 300-meter water-resistant case you’ll find another sapphire caseback, with another special image, namely the iconic Seahorse medallion that has long been a symbol of Seamaster watches. Through this embellished pane, you can see another Co-Axial Master Chronometer movement — actually, Caliber 8806, the same one used in the 1948 Central Seconds model described above; the rest of the models in the newly released, revamped Seamaster Diver series, which are in either all-steel or two-tone steel-and-gold cases, use the base Caliber 8800, which includes a date window at 6 o’clock. The Omega Seamaster Professional Diver 300M is limited to 2,500 pieces (that would be 1,000 per each year of the model’s existence). Like all contemporary Omega watches, it comes with the four-year warranty.

The dial’s wave pattern appeared on the very first Seamaster Diver 300M model.

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Author: Mark Bernardo

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