I Chose the Wrong Time to Take Time Off
Boy, this was NOT the time to take a couple of weeks off from blogging. New releases just seemed to pup up all over the place and frankly, every single one of them was of interest to me. I’ll drill down into some of them in individual posts, but let’s do a quick roundup, shall we?
Christopher Ward’s Finest Hour
Christopher Ward have been on an absolute tear recently. From the C65 Aquitaine series to the 36mm C63, to the new C60 Trident 300 series which is giving my Trident 600 some serious dive watch envy, CW have been churning out one fantastic timepiece after another.
Yet nothing prepared the watch world for the revelation of the C1 Bel Canto. I can’t remember the last time a microbrand (I mean, are CW really a microbrand anymore?) released something like this.
The C1 Bel Canto is a truly striking watch. I got my hands on it when Will Brackfield, one CW’s designers, showed it off to me behind the Christopher Ward showcase at Windup Watch Fair in New York and it was very hard not to pull my credit card out and throw it at Will.
Which might’ve hurt, given my Apple Card is the same material as the case of the Bel Canto.
My detailed review of the CW Bel Canto will follow. It’s sitting in a box in my office. I’m afraid to open it.
If you blinked, you missed the most recent Zelos drop
Zelos refreshed its Swordfish lineup this week, adding six new colorways to the existing lineup. All but the Sage Green model sold out in the first five minutes and all the new colorways are now officially gone.
The Swordfish is definitely at the starter end of Zelos’ collection, featuring an NH35 movement in a 316L stainless steel case that lacks the signature Zelos scratch-resistant coating. For $299 though, that’s not at all a bad deal; you still get Zelos’ signature design and an excellent bracelet to go with it. There’s also the small attention to detail that Zelos is so well-known for: a custom colored date wheel, excellent lume, and the angular case design language that permeates much of Zelos’ offerings.
RZE opens pre-orders for the Ascentus GMT
Before going on break, I posted a blog about GMT watches based on the Seiko NH34 movement. One of those watches was the RZE Ascentus and now, RZE have opened preorders for it.
Fans of the RZE Endeavour will find plenty of similarities between the Acentus and the Endeavour. RZE have a pretty consistent theme that runs through most of their watches and the Ascentus is no different. Available in four colorways, the brand embrace a couple of bright colors in addition to the standard white and black models.
The Ascentus is Grade 2 titanium-cased and RZE have coupled that with a titanium bracelet to match. Both the bracelet and the watch case have been coated with their Ultra-Hex coating to increase the hardness of the titanium to 1200 HV on the Vickers scale, making this watch a lot more resistant to the typical scratches and scrapes we all manage to inflict on our timepieces.
Unimatic jumps on the titanium bandwagon
Chris Ward and RZE aren’t the only ones jumping on the titanium bandwagon. This week, Unimatic released three Ti-clad pieces based on their existing lineup. The new watches - The Modello Uno, Due, and the Uno GMT - house Swiss movements from ETA (for the GMT) and Sellita (for the other two) inside Grade 2 Ti cases.
They are also limited editions, priced at $1950 for the GMT, $1180 for the Modello Uno and $900 for the Due. Only 100 units of the GMT were made, while the Uno and Due had 500 units made each. As of the writing of this post, the GMT is already sold out.
Farer introduces stunning chronos
British brand Farer introduced a new lineup of chronographs they dubbed the Chrono Classic. Available in three colors, the stunning timepieces feature the “Swiss-made Dubois Dépraz DD2022, Top Grade, offset rod system, blue screws decorated with bespoke bronze coloured cut out turbine rotor.”
The movement allows for a bicompax chronograph complication with a 43-hour power reserve. It sits in a 316L stainless steel case that measures 39mm wide and 13.2 mm to the top of the domed sapphire crystal. Priced at $2395 USD, it’s not an inexpensive timepiece, but is still reasonable given the specifications.
The Chrono Classic series will ship starting November 17, 2022, and is a limited-edition series.
There were other announcements made these past few weeks, but these are the ones from the indie/micro world that stood out. I’ll have a Field Report on the C1 Bel Canto eventually; I have a few other watches that I am writing Field Reports on, including the DuFrane Travis, a really cool dive watch out of landlocked Austin, TX. I’m also going to debut a new review format called “Fast Impressions” which will be shorter first impressions of new watches I receive for review for short periods of time.
One last thing I’ll leave you with. This is a great time to be an independent or microbrand watch fan/collector. This sector of the market is receiving one fantastic release after another. Yes, there are the usual spate of Indigogo/Kickstarter watches that are just collections of parts from a white-label watch manufacturer, but even amongst that mess, you have some really well-done pieces like the Batavi Geograaf (which I just received) and the upcoming Crossroads by the Trafford Watch Co. Then you have indies like Fears, Chris Ward, William Wood, and Farer leading what I like to call the New British Invasion, delivering timepieces that offer extraordinary quality and inspired design for surprisingly affordable prices.
American watchmaking is also seeing a renaissance; brands like Monta, Islander, Traska, DuFrane, the aforementioned Trafford, Nodus, and so many others are turning out first-rate timepieces for prices that lay bare the inflated margins and tired old variations on a theme that some big companies have been putting out there.
I’m glad to be in this space, covering these amazing brands and their creations. Even if, on occasion, it taking a break leads to a major case of FOMO…