Graham Fortress Ltd

The Graham Fortress is a chronograph equipped with a monopusher set within the crown. By placing the monopusher/crown on the left flank of the case, the watch breaks with convention. However, there is much sense in taking this unusual approach to chronograph design.
What’s in a name? The Fortress upholds Graham‘s fondness for aviation-themed product names. Perhaps its moniker doffs its hat to the Flying Fortress of the 1930s? Alternatively, the word ‘ may evoke thoughts of military strongholds or castles and, by default, elicit images of strong, castellated buildings and impregnable structures. All of these associations are consistent with the tough nature of this new Graham model.

To really understand the watch brand from La Chaux de Fonds, a person has to think like Graham, ie don’t subscribe to convention or accept mediocrity be bold and brave. If a sign says ‘keep off the grass’, put on a pair of big boots and do a jig on the turf. If other brands choose to place push-pieces on the righthand side of the case, then break the rules and go for a leftfield approach.
Indeed, as you look at the new Fortress from Graham you will note a monopusher located on the left flank of the case. This lone pusher, positioned in the top of the crown, starts, stops and resets the chronograph. It’s a one-stop shop for all of your stopwatch needs. By combining it with the crown it endows the case with a clean, uncluttered profile.

But a leftfield design can also be eminently logical. A pusher on the left side of the case proves more intuitive to use. When using a chronograph, the wearer observes the start of an event, actuates the stopwatch function and thereafter, at the end of the event, halts the timer. The potential problem is the human factor, namely the time gap between seeing an event and pressing the push-piece. The shorter the gap between observation and pressing the pusher, the more validity the recorded elapsed time really has. The thumb is the fastest acting digit, hence with this design, a right-handed person will instinctively place their plumpest digit on the push-piece and press it with lightning bolt alacrity.
Another key benefit of positioning the combined crown and monopusher on the left is superior wearer comfort. Often when a watch is worn and the wearer flexes their wrist, the protrusions on the right flank of the case gouge the wrist, chafe the skin or inhibit free movement. The Fortress’s leftfield approach causes no such problems.
The blue sunray dial and the black grained dial feature bold, luminescent hours and minutes which collaborate with ample, applied Arabic numerals, imparting meaning. The dial has two circular brushed counters, a small seconds display at 3 o’clock and a 30-minute chronograph register at 6 o’clock. A date display is located adjacent the monopusher/crown. Housed in a 47mm stainless steel case, the generous proportions of the watch confer impressive wrist presence while the exhibition caseback affords sight of the Fortress’s Swiss automatic movement.

This rebellious firm doesn’t subscribe to slick marketing, it chooses to focus on making excellent watches, rich in character. Indeed, the Graham Fortress Ltd is a serious watch from a company that still knows how to have #fun.
La Chaux-de-Fonds based Swiss watch maker GRAHAM SA presents FORTRESS, a limited edition automatic mono-pusher chronograph watch with its operating elements placed on the left side of the case.

Dressed in a massive 47mm diameter stainless steel case, the GRAHAM FORTRESS watch is available with a blue sunray dial or a black grained dial. Each version is limited to 100 pieces.
Its bold, luminescent hour and minutes hands collaborate with ample, applied Arabic numerals to display the time. The dial has two circular brushed counters, a small seconds display at 3o’clock and a 30-minute chronograph register at 6o’ clock. A date display is located adjacent the monopusher/crown.
The generous proportions of the watch confer impressive wrist presence, while the exhibition caseback affords view of the Fortress’s Swiss automatic chronograph mono-pusher movement. Certified by Chronofiable, this calibre has a power reserve of 48 hours.
The pusher, positioned in the top of the crown, starts, stops and resets the chronograph. The deliberate positioning of crown and pusher on the left side of the case ensures quick and easy operation. Another key benefit of positioning the combined crown and mono-pusher on the left is superior wearer comfort.
The Graham Fortress Ltd is the latest creation from the Anglo-Swiss watch brand, best known for its unusual ‘trigger’ device. However, this new model eschews the legendary trigger in favour of a monopusher/crown. Could this model be the new face of Graham?
There are some brands which apply one or more stylistic elements to a product or its packaging, making it readily identifiable. The silhouette of a Porsche 911 is unlike no other car, distinguishing it from others. The ‘hobble-skirt’ bottle will forever be associated with Coca-Cola. A red pocket knife will always be termed a Swiss Army knife. In terms of watchmaking, Graham will forever be associated with the chronograph trigger.

The Swiss watch brand has equipped numerous chronographs with a prominent trigger on the left flank of the case. There is much sense in positioning the trigger on the left and, indeed, its design. Appraising the human hand, the thumb is the fastest acting digit. In military aircraft, weapons are engaged using the thumb. Graham’s trigger is ergonomically designed to accommodate the thumb, making actuation intuitive and quick. This is of vital importance.

When using a chronograph, the time interval between observing an event and actuating the pushpiece needs to be as small as possible if the recorded elapsed time is to have relevance. By endowing various models with its iconic trigger, Graham has significantly improved the value of the chronograph complication. Moreover, by locating the trigger, which also includes the crown, on the left, the arm is able to flex easily, hence wearer comfort isn’t compromised. The chronograph is reset with a separate pushpiece located at 10 o’clock.
In terms of the trigger’s design, ‘form follows function’. By seeking the optimum means of actuating the chronograph, Graham has created a look that differentiates its products from all others.

With all talk up to this point being about the trigger, it may come as a surprise to learn that the brand’s latest model, the Graham Fortress Ltd, eschews the actuation device in favour of a monopusher/crown. At the centre of the model’s fluted crown is a pushpiece with allows the wearer to start, stop and reset the stopwatch function. The monopusher/crown sits on the left flank of the case, upholding Graham’s design language as well exploiting the aforementioned ergonomic benefits.

Reading the Graham press release, there is a degree of mystery regarding the inspiration behind the ‘Fortress’ name. Is it a reference to the Flying Fortress of the 1930s or is it intended to convey the model’s robustness? One thing is certain, the Graham Fortress Ltd looks sturdy and ready to take on the world.
Housed in a 47mm steel case, this new watch is overtly masculine. The rhodium-plated ‘Modern’ hour and minute hands are treated with beige Super-LumiNova and efficiently converse with matching, fulsome Arabic numerals. A small seconds display is located at 3 o’clock and a 30-minute chronograph register is positioned at 6 o’clock. Lastly, a date display resides at 9 o’clock, completing the model’s inventory of functions. All indications are eminently legible.

With the advent of the Graham Fortress Ltd, one cannot help wondering if the monopusher/crown will become the new face of Graham.

Richard Mille RM 029 Automatic Le Mans Classic

On the occasion of the classic car event Le Mans Classic, Richard Mille presents the RM 029 Automatic Le Mans Classic, a limited special edition. The event was co-founded by the Manufacture and takes place every two years near Le Mans in France. The watch celebrates the return of the event in 2022, and accordingly features a green and white case – the colours of the event. However, the watch also offers several other references to racing and impressive mechanics under the hood.
Le Mans Classic usually takes place every second year in July on the site of the famous 24 heures du Mans race. At the event, which was co-founded by Richard Mille, drivers from all over the world compete with classic racing cars. The cars must be at least 40 years old. Since the first edition in 2002, Richard Mille has already presented seven special models dedicated to the event. The RM 029 Le Mans Classic is the eighth watch that celebrates the sport of racing.
Case & Materials of the RM 029 Automatic Le Mans Classic
The Richard Mille RM 029 Le Mans Classic comes in a three-piece 40.10 x 48.15 x 13.10 mm case. The white middle section consists of a solid block of white Quartz TPT. This material is composed of hundreds of layers of interwoven quartz fibres, which are heated to develop their unique pattern. The front and back bezel are meanwhile made of green Quartz TPT fixed to the middle section with screws. Two white stripes are embedded on the top – a tribute to the colours of the racing event.
The dial is, in fact, just a sapphire glass pane that allows a view of the mechanics. On it are the skeletonised hands with green tips that tell the time along with the Arabic numerals. Surrounding the dial is a green ring with fluorescent dot indices. Furthermore, there is a large date at 4 o’clock. The 24-hour display at 2 o’clock has a blue dot at 4 o’clock. This is the time at which the race starts. At 7 o’clock, the Manufacture has placed another reference to the event. The Le Mans Classic logo with the green and white chequered flag adorns the front.
Under the Bonnet of the RM 029 Le Mans Classic
The RMAS7 calibre powers the watch. The automatic winding system supplies two barrels with energy. Together, they provide a power reserve of approximately 55 hours. Meanwhile, the variable geometry rotor allows the winding speed to be adjusted to the wearer’s level of activity. Elsewhere, the free-sprung screw balance ensures reliability. The latter operates at a typical frequency of 4 hertz.
The Richard Mille RM 029 Automatic Le Mans Classic comes on a white, ventilated rubber strap. As a special edition
The silence has been eerie these last two years on the outskirts of Le Mans. Anyone familiar with the world’s most iconic historic racing event will know that every second July, the whole town vibrates to the sound of scorched tarmac in the distance. The legendary race, Le Mans Classic will return not only in 2022, but exceptionally the next year too, in 2023, to mark the centenary of the very first race on the Le Mans 24 Hours circuit.
Usually, 700 historic racing cars take to the legendary Bugatti circuit together with 8,500 others in the club areas. The event is more than likely to top next year the record of 135,000 spectators it last saw in 2018. Richard Mille has been a partner ever since its inception in 2002 and has created the 8th model dedicated specifically to this event, a limited edition of 150 timepieces, the RM 029 Automatic Le Mans Classic. Aficionados will instantly recognize the timeless green and white color combination of one of the world’s greatest historic racing event.

The RM 029 Automatic Le Mans Classic, with total case dimensions of 40.10 x 48.15 x 13.10 mm, has a caseband milled from a solid block of white Quartz TPT

, offset by front and back bezels in green Quartz TPT

. The front bezel sports the characteristic double Le Mans stripes. These have been created from separate pieces of white Quartz TPT

 that has been inlaid into the green Quartz TPT

 bezel at 12 and 6 o’clock – a first for the brand. The vibrancy of this classic color combination is perfectly accentuated by a sporty white vented strap in rubber, guaranteeing excellent long-term comfort.
The skeletonised grade 5 titanium calibre RMAS7 movement with its oversize date window at 4 o’clock and a unique variable geometry rotor system driving double winding barrels forms the heart of the new RM 029 Automatic Le Mans Classic. A dedicated and finely detailed 24-hour counter at 2 o’clock pays fitting homage not only to the event itself but also to the hundreds of automobiles and drivers who relay over the 24 hours, starting at 4pm (indicated by a blue arrow).

Day or night, this limited edition gets fans and drivers alike back where they belong – out on the circuit, crossing the legendary Le Mans black and white chequered flag in perfect time.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon Chronograph

Audemars Piguet has been creating some of the most technically interesting watches in their Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept collection for the past couple of years. Last year, they showed off the Royal Oak Concept Laptimer, a highly complicated chronograph with three column wheels that could measure consecutive lap times. And earlier this year, they unveiled the equally complex Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie Tourbillon Chronograph watch, a minute repeater exemplifying Audemars Piguet’s obsession with sound clarity and quality.
Of course, it would be cruel to show you pictures and tell you about this watch’s amazing sound without a video to let you hear it, so do play the video above to hear it for yourself. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie Tourbillon Chronograph watch is a piece that took Audemars Piguet eight long years to develop, and the goal was to create the ultimate striking watch. The minute repeater complication is often regarded as one of the most difficult and… well, complicated to make – so imagine how hard it is to create one from scratch. The next thing to remember is that Audemars Piguet didn’t only want to create a new minute repeater watch, they wanted to create one that would be the best.
Now, the “best” for Audemars Piguet means their striving to create the most clear and crisp sound of any minute repeater. The brand points to three accomplishments demonstrated in this watch, which I will briefly run through. First, the unique preparation of the steel used to create the gong structure allows the watchmakers to more accurately and easily adjust and hone the pitch, tone, and harmony of the minute repeater. Second, the way the case is built minimizes sound absorption and maximizes amplification. I’ll discuss this “soundboard” technique more a little bit later on. Finally, the striking regulator is redesigned so the anchor system acts like a shock absorber, minimizing shock noise.
One of the most important components of a minute repeater watch is the case because it is responsible for amplifying the sound. It is often said that gold is the best material for the job because it produces a richer sound, but the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie Tourbillon Chronograph watch opts for titanium. Titanium is a very light and strong metal, and its low density allows sound to pass through with less resistance. If you have any doubts about this, you only need to look at exotic supercars and their titanium exhausts. Titanium is also used elsewhere around the watch to improve the quality of the sound, but more on this later.
The use of titanium also means that despite the watch’s sizable dimensions, at 44mm wide and 16.5mm thick, it remains light and comfortable to wear. And thanks to its unique aesthetic, the case design immediately identifies the watch as a Royal Oak Concept and nothing else.
It goes without saying that the case is finished to an impeccably high standard with contrasting finishing. The bezel has mirror polished edges and features a satin-brushed finish on the top, which complements the exposed polished 18k white gold screw heads. The case has been sandblasted and features a matte finish that juxtaposes very well with the shinier bezel. The large crown and chronograph pushers are made out of ceramic.
The black satin-brushed dial is partly skeletonized to reveal the inner workings of the watch. The hour and minute hands are made of 18K white gold and are partly skeletonized as well. However, because they are fairly chunky, telling the time isn’t overly difficult, but legibility is not ideal. That being said, this isn’t really a piece where the hands are the focus. The running seconds hand for the chronograph is bright yellow to provide contrast against the black dial.
Finally, the individual minute markers and the markers for the 30-minute chronograph at 3 o’clock are rendered in yellow and white to provide maximum contrast and legibility. The 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock is also unique because it displays the elapsed minutes using a retrograde indicator. And lastly, at six o’clock is the tourbillon.
The movement is where the magic all happens. It is obviously in-house, and it is the calibre 2937. Manually wound, it features a staggering 478 components, beats at 3Hz, and provides a power reserve of 42 hours. And like all high-end chronograph movements, it has a column-wheel and lateral clutch.
What’s unusual about it, though, is its two gongs. Instead of mounting the gongs to the movement plate, they are attached to what Audemars Piguet calls a “sound board.” Basically, it is a thin membrane made of a special copper alloy that covers the back of the movement, held in place by screws, and also forming a water-tight seal. This explains how the Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie Tourbillon Chronograph watch is able to get a water-resistance rating of 20 meters, which may not sound like much to a casual observer, but this could not be more incorrect. The 20 meters is actually quite impressive considering the intricate construction of the watch.
When the hammers strike the gongs, this membrane vibrates and acts like the sound board of a guitar, dramatically amplifying the sounds of the gongs. In addition, the actual titanium case back is slightly raised to cover this membrane and has apertures along the edge to allow sounds to escape. This results in one of the loudest minute repeater watches we have ever heard. And interestingly, the watch seems even louder when it is worn on the wrist!
At the end of the day, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie Tourbillon Chronograph watch is yet another successful showcase of the brand’s almost breathtaking technical know-how and unique design sense. It is a thoroughly modern take on one of horology’s oldest complications, and we can see that in the case of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie Tourbillon Chronograph watch, it has also been thoroughly improved.

Richard Mille RM 07-01 Automatic Winding Coloured ceramics

Richard Mille is known for its complex tonneau cases, openworked movements and above all, its fearless use of colour. The latter is the standout feature of three new RM 07-01 Colored Ceramic editions. Each of the three editions is rendered in a unique combination of colours: the Pastel Blue combines light blue with turquoise accents; the Pastel Pink mixes purple and blue highlights; and the Pastel Lavender comes with red and orange elements.
The three-part case is a wearable 31.40 x 45.23 x 11.85 mm, and although the RM 07-01 is known as a ladies’ watch, the thickness and length are substantial enough for any wrist. The technicolour models are made of a pure ceramic called tetragonal zirconia polycrystal, which contains 95% zirconia. Richard Mille says the material is scratch resistant to 1,400 vickers, tougher than sapphire. A long and difficult machining and grinding process using diamond tools is required to create the complex forms of the bezel. The caseband is crafted in micro-blasted white gold with hand-polished pillars, while the base plate and bridges are made of micro-blasted grade 5 titanium.
The dial is made using a combination of traditional and modern techniques. It starts with a rhodium-plated red gold centre that is finished in a guilloché motif that the company describes as “part botanical, part sunburst and part Art Deco.” This is the first time Richard Mille, a rigorously contemporary brand, has applied guilloché to a watch dial, but the unusual pattern gives this old-world craft a modern kick. The centre is surrounded by microblasted ceramic inserts and geometrically patterned rubber appliqués in various interesting configurations and colours. The straps are bi-coloured, matching elements of the case: in cerulean-lilac, coral-tangerine or olive-aqua.
It contains the automatic calibre CRMA2, with a free-sprung balance, which Mille says guarantees greater reliability when subjected to shocks, resulting in better timekeeping. The rotor moves on ceramic ball bearings, which optimize the winding system. It has a 50-hour power reserve. The RM 07-01 Automatic Colored Ceramic is limited to 50 pieces in each colour, and priced at approx. $220,000.
Richard Mille is known for its complex tonneau cases, openworked movements and above all, its fearless use of color. The latter is the standout feature of three new RM 07-01 Colored Ceramic editions. Each of the three editions is rendered in a unique combination of colors: the Pastel Blue combines light blue with turquoise accents; the Pastel Pink mixes purple and blue highlights; and the Pastel Lavender comes with red and orange elements.
The three-part case is a wearable 31.40 x 45.23 x 11.85 mm, and although the RM 07-01 is known as a ladies’ watch, the thickness and length are substantial enough for any wrist. The technicolor models are made of a pure ceramic called tetragonal zirconia polycrystal, which contains 95% zirconia. Richard Mille says the material is scratch resistant to 1,400 vickers, tougher than sapphire. A long and difficult machining and grinding process using diamond tools is required to create the complex forms of the bezel. The caseband is crafted in micro-blasted white gold with hand-polished pillars, while the base plate and bridges are made of micro-blasted grade 5 titanium.
The dial is made using a combination of traditional and modern techniques. It starts with a rhodium-plated red gold center that is finished in a guilloché motif that the company describes as “part botanical, part sunburst and part Art Deco.” This is the first time Richard Mille, a rigorously contemporary brand, has applied guilloché to a watch dial, but the unusual pattern gives this old-world craft a modern kick. The center is surrounded by microblasted ceramic inserts and geometrically patterned rubber appliqués in various interesting configurations and colors. The straps are bi-colored, matching elements of the case: in cerulean-lilac, coral-tangerine or olive-aqua.
It contains the automatic caliber CRMA2, with a free-sprung balance, which Mille says guarantees greater reliability when subjected to shocks, resulting in better timekeeping. The rotor moves on ceramic ball bearings, which optimize the winding system. It has a 50-hour power reserve. The RM 07-01 Automatic Colored Ceramic is limited to 50 pieces in each color, and priced at $163,000.

Audemars Piguet Unveils Eight New Watches

THE NEW 34 MM AUDEMARS PIGUET ROYAL OAK SELFWINDING IN BLACK CERAMIC
The newest addition to the Audemars Piguet Selfwinding collection is crafted in black ceramics in a 34 mm size, perfect for smaller wrists. This all-black model’s sleek, bold look is complemented with pink gold accents for an enticing contrast.
The making of the black ceramic is a complex process requiring different stages of high-precision machining. The exact composition of the ceramics is a closely guarded secret, though. Each ceramic part is pre-polished and pre-satin-brushed before being finished by hand. The result is a light yet ultra-resistant and scratchproof case.

The Royal Oak Selfwinding watch sports a black “Grande Tapisserie” dial, one of the Royal Oak’s trademarks, achieved using know-how no longer taught in watchmaking school. Little squares are carved out on the dial’s metal plate by an engraving machine from the 1970s that reproduces a pattern motif. The indexes, hands, and bezel screws are in rose gold.
The timepiece is fitted with the automatic movement, Calibre 5800, and features a power reserve of 50 hours of power reserve and water resistance of 50 meters. The dedicated pink gold oscillating weight and inner workings are visible through the open case back.
THE NEW 34 MM AUDEMARS PIGUET ROYAL OAK SELFWINDING FROSTED GOLD
Audemars Piguet expands its 34 mm Royal Oak Selfwinding collection, first presented in April 2020, with a new reference in Frosted White Gold – a jewelry technique developed in 2016 in collaboration with Italian jewelry designer Carolina Bucci.
The Frosted Gold finishing takes inspiration from an ancient Florentine jewelry technique, reinterpreted by Carolina Bucci in her jewelry creations. Carolina assisted Audemar Piguet’s craftspeople in developing it into a horological craft suited to the Royal Oak’s case and bracelet. Small indentations are made on the gold surface with a diamond-tipped tool, resulting in a shimmering effect similar to “diamond dust.”
The 18-carat white gold piece features the iconic Audemars Piguet Tapisserie dial in new shades of blue. The white gold hour-markers and hands perfectly match the case.

You can admire the automatic Calibre 5800 and its dedicated pink gold oscillating weight through the open case back. This hour, minute, central second, and date movement has 50 hours of power reserve and is water-resistant to 50 meters.
THE NEW 38 MM ROYAL OAK SELFWINDING CHRONOGRAPH
Audemars Piguet’s new Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph in 38 mm will only be available in Audemars Piguet boutiques. For the first time, Audemars Piguet presents a solid 18-carat rose gold timepiece with a bezel set with baguette-cut amethysts. These purple gemstones match the purple “Grande Tapisserie” dial to perfection.
The dial is treated with a new color methodology made up of multiple layers of purple PVD to give that color-changing effect. The three chronograph counters on the dial are also purple, with 18-carat rose gold applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands.
Its rose gold case and bracelet feature alternating polished and satin-finished surfaces, an Audemars Piguet signature. The bezel is set with 32 baguette-cut amethysts (~2.85 carats) for the first time.
The Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph 38 mm is powered by the automatic Calibre 2385 with chronograph, hours, minutes, small seconds, date functions, and a power reserve of 40 hours. The rose gold case back features a “Royal Oak” engraving.

THE NEW ROYAL OAK FROSTED GOLD DOUBLE BALANCE WHEEL OPENWORKED AVAILABLE IN 41MM OR 37MM
In October of this year, Audemars Piguet will add three new references in 41 mm and two in 37 mm to its Royal Oak Frosted Gold Double Balance Wheel Openworked series, all with a rainbow bezel.
The new rainbow bezel is set with 12 different kinds of multi-colored gemstones, including rubies, tsavorites, emeralds, topaz, tanzanites, amethysts, and various colored sapphires. Each of the 32 gemstones has been carefully selected to offer the most vivid hues that seamlessly merge together on the bezel. Perfectly cut, polished, and aligned, the gemstones reflect the light to create a unique optical rainbow.
Both the case and the bracelet of the 37 mm and 41 mm models are in frosted gold – white, rose, or yellow gold. The openworked Manufacture movement, Caliber 3132, and its double balance wheel mechanism are visible on both sides of the case. The double balance wheel is a patented innovation introduced by Audemars Piguet in 2016, increasing the watch’s precision and stability.
In line with the existing 41 mm offering, the new yellow, pink or white Frosted Gold case and bracelet feature slate grey NAC-coated bridges and a black inner bezel. The double balance wheel at 8 o’clock takes on yellow gold-toned, pink gold-toned, or rhodium-toned hues to echo the case’s color. Similarly, the hour-markers and luminescent Royal Oak hands are in yellow, pink, or white gold.
The two new 37 mm Royal Oak Frosted Gold Double Balance Wheel Openworked references in 18-carat pink and yellow gold are perfect for the smaller wrist. The openworked movement matches the color of the case with only a blackened openworked barrel at 1 o’clock. In the same tone as the movement and case, the pink or yellow gold hour-makers and luminescent Royal Oak hands blend in to put forward the beauty of the Calibre 3132.
The new Royal Oak Frosted Gold Double Balance Wheel in 37 and 41 mm will be exclusively available in Audemars Piguet’s Boutiques as of October 2021.

Audemars Piguet’s Newest Novelties

Just as we were all recovering from our long Fourth of July weekend here in the States, Audemars Piguet lit off fireworks from Le Brassus, Switzerland, dropping a whole mess of watches in its Women Novelties collection – but don’t call them women’s watches.
The releases are plenty, in all manner of sizes and materials, so let’s cut the small talk and have a look.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 34mm in Black Ceramic
I think it best to start with the heavy-hitter. When news dropped of these releases, my eyes were immediately drawn to this watch. Black ceramic is certainly all the rage right now (here’s looking at you Tudor) so this release is very on-trend.

What we have is the traditional Royal Oak with its octagonal bezel, black “Grande Tapisserie” dial, and iconic bracelet, only it’s in ceramic. But that’s nothing new – AP has been hard at work in the ceramic game for some time now. You might remember the RO Perpetual Calendar released a few years back in full ceramic with a ceramic bracelet which Ben Clymer dubbed “the hottest watch of SIHH 2017.”
It’s the 34mm sizing that really makes this release interesting. We’ve heard it time and time again – ceramic is a notoriously difficult material, making it hard to fashion watch cases in smaller sizes. And yet, AP has managed to make it happen.

I would be interested to see how the all-black-everything aesthetic wears in the 34mm sizing. Blacked-out watches generally wear smaller than their diameter would suggest. If this was a 37mm watch – it might very well be the watch of the Summer – nay the year. But let’s not let that stop us from enjoying this one for awhile.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Open Worked
Rainbow Daytona, meet the latest rainbow ROs. Instead of releasing one watch into this collection, AP went ahead and dropped three – three different precious metal configurations of yellow, pink, and white gold, each with rainbow diamond bezels. There are two sizes presented in this release: 41mm and 37mm.

AP is calling this a new rainbow bezel. It’s set with 12 different types of multi-colored gemstones: Ruby, tsavorite, emerald, topaz, tanzanite, amethyst, and a host of different-colored sapphires.
In either size, the case and bracelet are presented in Frosted Gold. According to AP, this is achieved through a process where “tiny indentations are created on the gold surface with a diamond-tipped tool, giving a sparkle effect similar to that of precious stones, like ‘diamond dust.'” The Frosted Gold finish debuted in 2016 with the 40th Anniversary Audemars Piguet Ladies Royal Oak.

The dial gives way to the open-worked, in-house Calibre 3132, with its double balance wheel mechanism. You can actually view this from the front or back of the watch. That double balance mechanism, of course, also debuted in 2016 with the ref. 15407 (another openwork piece).
If Rolex’s success with rainbow models is any indication, I think these will be a massive hit. Both 37mm and 41mm represent sweet-spot sizes for a lot of people. This may be listed as a women’s novelty but it wouldn’t shock me to see a lot of men rocking these.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold 34mm
Here we have more Frosted Gold – only more icy. This new Royal Oak Frosted Gold model is being released in a 34mm sizing, just like the ceramic model.

Along with the case, the dial is the star here, presented in AP’s newly introduced light blue PVD-coated dial complete with the classic “Grande Tapisserie” pattern.
It’s powered by the self-winding Calibre 5800, featuring 50 hours of power reserve.

I truly believe that 34mm is a very wearable size for both men and women today. If this release floats your boat, go for it.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Self-Winding Chronograph 38mm in Pink Gold
While rainbow gems are all the rage, don’t sleep on this one – a 38mm Royal Oak Chrono, in pink gold, with purple dial and a bezel set with 32 baguette-cut amethysts (that’s a lot of amethysts).

The dial here is something altogether new for AP. It’s being called a chameleon dial because of its new color treatment that consists of applying multiple layers of purple PVD to the dial surface. As a result, what looks to be a standard purple dial has tones ranging from pink to purple, and even some shades of blue, depending on the angle of the watch in the light.
It’s worth mentioning that the 38mm RO chrono still uses the Frederic Piguet caliber 1185, although the caliber 4401 from the Code 11.59 collection has recently been introduced in a Royal Oak chrono, as well, albeit in a larger 41mm model – the new ref. 26239.

I would love to check this one out in the metal, if for no other reason than to hold this chameleon dial into the sun and watch its colors change – also to see the many … many amethysts.

Richard Mille RM 53-02 Tourbillon Sapphire

In the same spirit as the RM 012, with its highly architectural movement, we further elaborate. This time we wanted a calibre whose considerable volume could express resistance and lightness at once, while remaining exposed to the eye. The RM 53-02 is a testament to significant developments in the suspended movement using braided cables.
Richard Mille introduces a limited edtion RM 53-02 Tourbillon Sapphire timepiece. The Swiss luxury watchmaker produced only 10 pieces due to the challenge posed by its triple-curved sapphire tonneau case. The bezel, caseband and caseback are 100% crafted from a single block of sapphire crystal. The watch features a highly architectural movement and extremely sophisticated skeletonization. Its calibre’s volume express esresistance and lightness at once, while remaining exposed to the eye.
The RM 53-02 Tourbillon Sapphire is a testament to notable developments in the suspended movement using braided cables. The three-dimensional suspension bridge required the milling of two grade-5 titanium baseplates. The first, ‘peripheral’ baseplate, is attached to the caseband and supports the tensioner mechanism. The second, ‘central’ baseplate is attached by cables to the peripheral baseplate and includes all of the calibre’s wheels, as well as the winding mechanism. This supreme anti-shock system ensures that the RM 53-02 Tourbillon Sapphire’s 70-hour power reserve will smoothly unwind the seconds under almost any conditions.
Richard Mille’s team spent years of research and testing to produce a sapphire case and ensure its adequate response to the demands of strength and comfort. Swiss luxury watchbrand is the only one to date to achieve such a complex case design in sapphire. With a staggering growth time of more than 4 weeks, each block of sapphire requires more than 1,000 hours of machining to emerge as a case.
The brilliant Swiss watchmakers from Richard Mille have been pretty busy lately, trying to make us daydream once again about some of the most impressive timekeeping marvels we’ve ever seen. Today is one of those days when we’re all in for a treat.
The brand’s latest timepiece, the Richard Mille RM 53-02 Tourbillon Sapphire is part of a very limited series of just 10 pieces. And it’s not just another take on the company’s impressive RM-02 watch. It’s a real beauty, that comes with a world-first: a triple-curved sapphire tonneau case which posed quite a challenge for the well known brand.
First off – as unusual as it may sound, the bezel, case band, and case back were crafted from a single block of sapphire crystal.

Richard Mille’s team spent years researching and experimenting before developing a sapphire case that will ensure adequate levels of strength and comfort. You wouldn’t say that, but anyone who understands a thing or two about working with sapphire realizes the amount of work than went into this.
The renowned Swiss watchmaker is the only one to date to achieve such a complex case design in sapphire; just imagine this – each block of sapphire requires more than 1,000 hours of machining before that stunning case may adorn your wrist. One thousand hours.. you should be so lucky!

Then, there’s the highly architectural movement and extremely sophisticated skeletonization, with plenty of tiny wonders remaining exposed to the eye. We do enjoy admiring the magic that results from such a cool and carefully handcrafted mechanism, don’t we?
The RM 53-02 Tourbillon Sapphire also stands out for its unusual and interesting developments in the suspended movement, thanks to the use of braided cables that also allows this watch to benefit from a supreme anti-shock system. Furthermore, Richard Mille’s newest timepiece also brags about a 70-hour power reserve – that means almost 3 days of counting each and every second under almost any conditions in breathtaking fashion. Enjoy!

Urwerk UR-220 SL Asimov

I’m in a good mood today; a very good mood indeed. “Why,” you ask? Well, you may have recently noticed my continued love affair with the Swiss masters of avant-garde, URWERK. So when we get wind of a new launch, my happiness levels inevitably skyrocket, as is the case today! So I’m delighted to introduce you to the new URWERK UR-220 SL “Asimov”.

Let’s address the name first of all. “Asimov” all sounds very Russian, doesn’t it? Well, if that’s what you were thinking, you’d be partially correct. The name is actually a reference to the Russian-born American writer Isaac Asimov (1920-1992). The writer’s 1941 science fiction novelette, “Into The Nightfall”. To briefly summarise, the story is about the coming of darkness to the people of a planet ordinarily illuminated by sunlight at all times. It would appear that one of URWERK‘s founders, Martin Frei, was inspired by the story as it is the proud muse for the brand’s third iteration of the incredible UR-220.
The images are a dead giveaway to the UR-220 SL Asimov’s unique character. The UR-220 SL Asimov indicates the time on pyramid-shaped hour “blocks”, hewn from solid Super-LumiNova. OK, “hewn” may be a slight exaggeration. In reality, they are cast from a silicon mould and finished by hand to ensure perfection. The degree of hardness provided to the blocks at the end of the process is close to that of ceramic. These little things are solid!
On previous versions of the UR-220, the blocks were CNC machined, and then the numerals were infilled with luminous compound. I think the new solid Super-Luminova satellite hour blocks look incredible. Despite the rest of the UR-220 SL “Asimov” receiving more subtle design tweaks, the glowing hour blocks look fantastic.
One of the things I love about all of URWERK’s creations is the futuristic method of time display. It’s a combination of both analog and digital indicators. In the case of the UR-220 SL “Asimov”, the hours are displayed on the three rotating pyramid-shaped Super-LumiNova blacks. Each block is connected to a 3D minutes indicator which travels over the 120 degrees of the minute scale. When it reaches the end of the scale and the hour is complete, the indicator makes a big jump back to the “0” marker to welcome the next hour block. This retrograde minutes display is one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen. While the concept of a retrograde minutes display is not anything new, the execution here is flawless, and the operation is an absolute joy to watch.
The UR-220 watches also introduced the “split” power reserve. You can see two gauges at the top corners of the dial, each representing 24 hours of power. During winding, the right-hand gauge is the first to fill up. Once it has reached the maximum level, the left-hand indicator takes over. Split between the two gauges, the power-reserve display is composed of 83 mechanical elements, showing quite how intricate the construction of this split power reserve really is. In operation, it’s quite an elegant solution to more accurately allow the wearer to know how much power remains.
If you flip the watch over, the familiar sight of the “Oil Change” service indicator will greet you. While the dial-side of the watch has some aesthetic differences (but thankfully keeps the exceptionally cool CTP carbon case!) over its UR-220 siblings, the movement remains unchanged. If you want to read more about the “Oil Change” indicator and the movement, take a look at my previous hands-on review of the UR-220 C81 Falcon Project. I also explain a little more about the CTP carbon material too. It’s worth a read!
So there we have the new UR-220 SL “Asmimov” from URWERK. A watch with a unique personality that nicely fits into the UR-220 family. I’m excited to see the character of the UR-220 continue to evolve. I love seeing how Martin Frei is able to translate his inspirations into new personalities for the brand’s watches. The UR-220 is one of only 2 active model lines in the brand’s UR-Satellite catalog right now (the other being the UR-100), so you can expect to see more in the future!
URWERK has formed its signature revolving hour satellites from moulded Super-LumiNova to light up its new UR-220 SL Asimov.

For URWERK’s third take on its UR-220 model, co-founder Martin Frei has tweaked a number of materials, colors and finishes, using the black-coated movement and Carbon Thin Ply case as a backdrop to showcase the watch’s impressive new light-show.

While UR-220 satellites usually feature crisp edges refined by CNC machines, those for the new Asimov model are cast using Super-LumiNova’s X1 BL lume in silicon moulds, resulting in a hardness similar to ceramic, before being hand-finished and hour numerals added with lacquer.

The dial features a power reserve indicator for the movement’s single mainspring barrel, spread over two 24-hour gauges.

URWERK’s digital Oil Change complication is also present on the reverse and activated by removing a protective pin, which sets in motion a counter displaying the number of months the watch has been running, allowing the owner to keep track of the brand’s recommended 39-month service interval.

Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Gravity

During the Baselworld novelty presentation at Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Gravity, we were happily surprised by the new Masterpiece collection. Apart from the ‘Square wheel’ and ‘Mystery’ line-up, perhaps the most interesting novelty was the Masterpiece Gravity. We already posted some live wristshots on our @fratellowatches Instagram account. Now, we present our hands-on review of the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Gravity with better photos.

Maurice Lacroix describes the Gravity as ‘the force that is intended to attract admiring glances’. And to be honest, the Gravity was the first thing that caught our attention on the presentation tray, containing some of the novelty watches for this year’s Baselworld.

The large and domed sapphire crystal gives a great and clear view of the off-centre dial, balance wheel and small seconds at first sight.
The fact that they moved the balance wheel and escapement to the front of the watch makes it eye-catching right away. How cool is it to clearly see the ‘beating heart’ of your mechanical watch? Usually, these parts are visible behind a clear caseback or aren’t visible at all. Of course, there are other watches that make the balance wheel part of the visual experience on your wrist. The MB&F Legacy 1 is a good example. Not comparable though as it comes at a six times more expensive price tag. There are even watches that have 2 balance wheels on display like the MB&F Legacy 2 and the Arnold & Son Double Balance wheel GMT. Not even to mention the average tourbillon timepiece.

Back to the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Gravity . Looking at the watch from a certain angle really shows you how domed the sapphire crystal actually is and demonstrates the great ‘gravity defying’ depth of the watch.
There are actually two versions of the Masterpiece Gravity. One version comes with a stainless steel case with a combination of polished and satin finishing. This stainless steel model has reference number MP6118-SS001-110. It has a dial with printed Roman numerals and blued hands. The bridge is finished with a beautiful ‘Clous de Paris’ decoration. The other version with reference MP6118-SS001-130, also has a stainless steel case and has been finished with an anthracite PVD coating. The dial has applied indexes and rhodium plated hands. The bridge is finished with a ‘grand colimaçon’ decoration. Both versions of the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Gravity are equipped with the automatic in-house movement ML230. Maurice Lacroix has been producing their own movements for over 30 years and have created a total of 13 in-house movements to date.
In this side-by-side photo you can clearly see the differences between both models. The black PVD version has modern look with its clean minimalistic finish. The polished and brushed steel version with its brown alligator strap and highly decorated bridge and dial obviously has a more classical look.
Maurice Lacroix incorporated several silicon made parts in the movement. Silicon has been used in the watch industry for over a decade now. It is a self-lubricating, glass-like material that is three times lighter than steel. Known as a hard and light material that is not affected by environmental influences like temperature or magnetism. This is visible when you look at the pallet lever (or fork) and escapement wheel in the movement on the picture below.
We believe Maurice Lacroix has done a great job on the Gravity, which will be available in Q4 2014. Each version is limited to 250 pieces only. More information and full technical details of the Masterpiece Gravity can be found on the official Maurice Lacroix website.
The Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Gravity is limited to 500 pieces, 250 in steel and 250 in PVD. Please note this review contains no Sandra Bullock/George Clooney puns. Felix brings to his role as Editor of Time+Tide many years experience writing about watches, and a passion for all things horological.
Since Maurice Lacroix introduced their Masterpiece series (around 1990), they are able to compete with brands like Chronoswiss, Omega, Ebel and probably some more established brands. Maurice Lacroix is a relatively new player (1975) and in 2006 they introduced their manufacture chronograph movement.
This watch has a handwound ML104 movement based on ETA caliber 6498-1. With the domed sapphire crystal, massive silver dial and stainless steel 43.5mm case, Maurice Lacroix presents a serious wrist watch for mechanical watch collectors with a classic taste but who doesn’t want to be that conservative when it comes to watches.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph

In 2018, Patek Philippe launched the very first Aquanaut chronograph for men. The first model features a steel case with a black dial mounted on a black strap in a composite material and delivered with a second composite strap in orange (5968A-001).
In May 2021, the Geneva manufacture announced the launch of the first white-gold version of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph, with either of two colorways for the dial and matching strap: an elegant midnight blue shading to black on the dial (5968G-001) or an audacious khaki green (5968G-010). A key aesthetic feature is the harmonious integration of the chronograph into the Aquanaut design. The interplay of polished and satin-brushed surfaces on the case, bezel and pushers contributes to the effect. The 60-minute counter at 6 o’clock echoes the bezel’s rounded octagonal shape. The elongated pushers are positioned at 2 and 4 o’clock, either side of the screw-down crown. The chronograph indications (sweep seconds, quarter-second scale, 60-minute counter) stand out in white on the embossed Aquanaut pattern. Legibility is ensured by white-gold applied numerals and large white-gold baton-style hands with a luminescent coating. This model is equipped with the caliber CH 28-520 C self-winding flyback chronograph movement uniting tradition (column-wheel control) and innovation (vertical disk clutch). As the clutch is virtually friction-free, the center chronograph hand also functions as a permanent seconds hand. The flyback function allows the user to begin timing a new event while the chronograph is still running, with a simple pressure on the push-piece at 4 o’clock. Its 42.2 mm diameter case is water-resistant to 120 m. The integrated strap made of an ultra-resistant composite material is fitted with a patented fold-over clasp secured by four independent catches.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph now offers the Aquanaut with a chronograph movement. This sporty complication fits perfectly in the company’s increasingly youthful, dynamic collection. But how does it perform in real-life conditions? We find out in this in-depth review from the WatchTime archives (original photos by Patrick Mökesch).
The Patek Philippe Aquanaut was first launched in 1997 and is one of the newest collections at Patek Philippe, alongside the Twenty-4 introduced in 1999. The CH 28-520 C caliber that powers the watch is almost 10 years younger still – the first chronograph movement for the Nautilus-inspired watch with its rounded octagonal bezel.

The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph , our test watch, has a striking orange “Tropical” strap made of modern composite rubber that’s resistant to wear, saltwater and UV rays, and is combined with a new double folding clasp. With four independent catches and two side buttons, its patented design offers extreme reliability and ease of operation. It is attached with two spring bars at the strap ends so the strap must be trimmed to the wearer’s individual wrist size – a powerful move that doesn’t allow for mistakes. And in the event of a different occasion, Patek Philippe also delivers the Aquanaut Chronograph with an additional black strap.
For added stability on the wrist, the strap ends on the case are secured not only by conventional spring bars but also by two pins that lead from the strap ends into the body of the case. Therefore, Patek Philippe recommends having the strap changed by an authorized service person, which limits its ease of use.

But why change the strap at all? We found that the orange strap highlights the colorful accents that mark the chronograph functions on the dial; the long, slender chronograph hand that extends from the center of the dial; the minutes hand over the subdial at 6 o’clock; the markings of the 4-Hz chronograph track around the dial as well as the elapsed-minutes track around the subdial. This adopts the same shape as the rounded octagon of the bezel. On the other hand, the design on the surface of the strap blends nicely with the relief embossing on the Aquanaut’s main dial, which references the Earth’s coordinate system. Light plays on the dial’s sunburst finish so it sometimes appears deep black and sometimes light gray. Applied Arabic numerals, 12 markers, and the two bold baton-shaped hands for the hours and minutes are all made of white gold and have luminescent coating so the time is easy to read, day or night, thanks to the strong black-and-white contrast and the glowing green luminescence at night. The orange brass hands of the chronograph function are painted, and have no luminescent accents, but they point precisely to the chronograph scales on the dial.
Self-winding Caliber CH 28-520 C ensures a high level of accuracy, combining a classic column wheel with a modern vertical-disk clutch control. It is the only chronograph movement at Patek Philippe with this type of clutch. Its design prevents any forward or backward jumping of the stopwatch hand when the chronograph is engaged and it runs so smoothly that the centrally mounted chronograph hand can also be used as a permanent sweep seconds hand, which is why the Aquanaut Chronograph does not have a separate seconds hand. The flyback function makes it possible to set the watch precisely, to the second. The stopwatch hand can be set to zero from an ongoing measurement without a reset and restarted immediately. Of course, this also works by starting the chronograph precisely at a time signal. The only drawback: the movement has no hack mechanism so it may be necessary to reset the minutes hand.

Caliber CG 28-520 C has undergone some design changes for use in the Aquanaut. The hour counter has been omitted completely. But what young, dynamic person today needs such a thing? Elapsed minutes are easy to read on the large subdial counter, since it extends almost to the center of the dial and is intuitive – the 60-minute counter mirrors the standard minutes display on a watch dial (instead of a more commonly used 30-minute counter). A minute counter wheel rotating below operates with a direct transmission ratio to the chronograph runner, which allows the elapsed minutes display to run continuously and does not jump when the second hand passes “zero.” This mechanism is placed on the dial side of the chronograph.
The date is also noteworthy. It advances at midnight within a fraction of a second – so fast that the human eye cannot register it. It can be adjusted (with some effort) via an integrated pusher at 8 o’clock. Patek Philippe supplies a correction stylus made of ebony and white gold, but a crown-based function would be more convenient.

The self-winding movement has a 21k gold rotor and can build up a power reserve of up to 55 hours. Verifying the power reserve was part of our testing program, which was analogous to Patek Philippe’s quality control in its Munich workshop. When fully wound, the movement is specified to run 56 hours. Our test recorded 57 hours and 48 minutes. A second test simulating actual wear examined the efficiency of the winding mechanism. After winding for one hour and 34 minutes the watch should run for 18 hours. Our Aquanaut Chronograph clocked in at 24 hours.

In the simulated wearing test – while the chronograph is engaged – the watch ran with virtually no deviations at all. When fully wound and with the chronograph running, the timing machine recorded an average daily rate of -0.4 seconds per day, and after 24 hours of running time, without additional winding, the rate was -0.7 seconds. The values were similar when the chronograph function was not engaged. Amplitudes differed by about 10 degrees.
Specifications from Patek Philippe – within the framework outlined by its own quality seal – lie between -3 and +2 seconds per day. Our test watch remained reliably in this tolerance range. Caliber CH 28-520 C easily achieved these rate results with a system consisting of the long-standing Gyromax balance wheel (patented in 1949 and 1951) and the Spiromax hairspring made of Silinvar (introduced in 2006).

This new, patented material is based on a monocrystalline form of silicon, which is temperature-compensating, lightweight, hard, wear-resistant, anti-magnetic, elastic and resistant to corrosion and impacts. It is produced using the DRIE (Deep Reaction Ion Etching) process with a precision of 1/1,000th of a millimeter. When combined with the fine regulation using the asymmetrical regulating weights on the balance wheel, rate accuracy is optimized and isochronism is improved, as our tests showed.

The watch mechanism is housed in a stainless-steel case that sports both polished and brushed finishes and is water resistant to a depth of 120 meters. The crown guard gives it a slightly asymmetrical look. All screw-down operating elements functioned perfectly. Manual winding and setting operations are both extremely smooth. The wide, faceted chronograph pushers require firm pressure due to the jaws that hold and release the vertical clutch. Start and stop functions using the pusher at 2 o’clock work a little bit easier than the flyback and reset pusher at 4 o’clock. All these actions work reliably and consistently, aided in no small part by the brushed finish on the top of both chrono pushers.
The Aquanaut Chronograph lies snugly against the wrist thanks to downward sloping lugs and the attachment of the rubber strap. The clasp closes softly and securely and the crown has a solid and sumptuous feel. Both are exceptional in their operation. The youthful, dynamic spirit of this sporty timepiece extends to every last detail.