U-Boat Darkmoon 40

With its deep, lustrous oil-filled dial, vibrant colours and mercurial love-it-or-hate-it compensation bubble, the U-Boat Italo Fontana Darkmoon watch offers an exciting and genuinely different timepiece.
That playful air-bubble and deep, rich oil-filled dial make this timepiece instantly memorable and mesmerizingly engaging. We hope you enjoy our intro to a breathtaking on-wrist experience.
Read on, and then enjoy Jack Biggs’ popular U-Boat Darkmoon unboxing video on YouTube to understand why. Or if you just can’t wait to treat yourself or someone special, choose yours now.

You may see references to the ‘U-Boat Dark Moon Watch’ or ‘U Boat Dark Moon’; it’s easily done. However, according to U-Boat, Darkmoon is one word. This is the U-Boat Italo Fontana Darkmoon and, once seen, it’s unforgettable. Why dark moon? Because, to quote the manufacturer, it’s ‘A collection coming from the moon directly from its darker side’.

With this desirable range of handcrafted watches – proudly ‘Made in Tuscany’ – Italo Fontana has staked his claim for a slice of lunar-related watchmaking. We think they’re onto a winner. So does Paul Buchanan, whose encounter with an early Darkmoon led him to become the Italian watchmaker’s UK sales manager.
Paul takes up the story: ‘Just over two years ago I met Richard, the U-Boat’s distributor in the UK and Ireland. He knew I’d grown disillusioned with the watch trade as brands just copied each other time and time again. He also knew I was seeking an inspirational brand. After teasing and tantalising me with U-Boat’s beautiful Chimera, he followed up with this watch with a domed red glass that was stunning and mesmerising in every way possible. While Richard talked I just sat there with the watch on my wrist and looked at it from every angle. I bought that watch, one of the original Darkmoons, then became the brand’s UK sales manager. Two watches is all it took and the U-Boat Darkmoon red 44mm IPB is still my go-to watch of choice.’
The rich colour of this oil-filled beauty was just one of the features that mesmerised Paul and drew him to the brand. As soon as you see these amazing watches you notice how a Darkmoon’s striking dial delivers a ‘wide eyed’, spellbindingly-three-dimensional depth of colour and heightened legibility. From first glance, it’s obvious that they’re very different to the information-heavy visual complexity of other U-Boat classics such as the U-Boat U-65 skeleton watch.

Since the first Darkmoon, adoption of sapphire crystal and dial colour intensity refinements for better readability make a great product even more impressive. And then there’s the signature compensating bubble moving around the dial in its crystal clear oil bath. It helps amplify the view of the two hands – there’s no sweep-second hand – which appear to float free above the dial.
TikTok watch influencer Jack Biggs enthuses about these features in our U-Boat Dark Moon unboxing video. He says: ‘an additional benefit to the oil bath is that it magnifies the vision of the hands and compensates for temperature between zero to 60 degrees. I feel as though this gives it a more three-dimensional look to the watch and it gives it that deep feel on the dial.’

U-Boat themselves say the oil-filling gives ‘a surprisingly amplified view of the hands, which seem to float free as in absence of the glass’. It’s all possible through the proprietary oil bath technology pioneered in the Capsoil watch that premiered on Instagram in November 2018.

Since then, U-Boat has clearly worked hard on their second oil-filled product range. The result, Darkmoon, is now in its second iteration. It sits irresistibly alongside the original Capsoil Chronograph to dominate Watch Pilot’s U-Boat Italo Fontana product page where you can browse and buy the U-Boat watch of your choice.
At the time of writing, as Jack Biggs explains, the range revolves around Black, Cardinal Red, Elegant Brown, Noble Green and Imperial Blue Darkmoon watches. Naturally, they’re all equipped with the company’s signature left-handed ‘destro’ screw-down winding crown. And 50 m (5 ATM) water resistance, which is enough to handle splashes, gentle swimming and cold showers.

Depending on the model, strap and bracelet options include stylish light mesh, laser-cut handmade, hand-finished calf leather, and a vulcanised rubber strap embossed on both sides with the U-BOAT logotype in deep relief.
U-Boat’s watches are renowned for imposing case diameters – no-one goes unnoticed when wearing one! Though smaller than watches such as the 47mm U-47 Classico, 50mm Flight deck pilot’s watch or massive 55mm-diameter U-1001, the latest Darkmoon’s 44mm case guarantees attention grabbing wrist presence.

Such distinctive dial design deserves a durable, visually contrasting case finish. Depending on the watch, look forward to AISI 316L stainless steel with or without an IP Bronze (e.g. the 8467/B Men’s Brown Darkmoon) or IP Black coating (e.g. the 8464/MT Men’s Black Darkmoon).

Unsurprisingly, U-Boat Italo Fontana make much of how the Darkmoon dial, hands and quartz movement are all immersed in a special proprietary oil bath. More about that later. First, here’s a word about the movement powering Darkmoon.
Visit the well-rated Calibre-corner website, or the website of Ronda AG and you’ll quickly discover that the Darkmoon’s 712.3 movement is a reassuringly tried and tested Swiss-made workhorse of the Swiss watch movement industry.

With the 712.3 inside your U-Boat watch, you’re in good company. It’s a proven two-handed 26mm-diameter quartz movement from a brand that also powers watches from names like TAG-Heuer, Raymond Weil and Yema. As the company explains, ‘Ronda produces mechanical and quartz watch movements with Swiss precision for numerous leading watch brands. Our products can be found inside brand name watches ranging from elegant and sporty timepieces to stylish fashion accessories to luxurious models.’
Since watchmaking’s quartz revolution in the 1970s, the accuracy and reliability of these movements means a battery is needed.

At first glance, with Darkmoon’s dial and movement immersed in oil, changing the battery every few years would appear tricky. Because of the oil bath, early versions of the U-Boat Capsoil – this sounds like a portmanteau word derived from ‘encapsulated oil’ – needed specialist factory-attention back in Italy when the battery ran out. The same applied to early versions of the U-Boat Darkmoon watch.

Later Capsoil iterations and the latest Darkmoon get round this with a separate user-accessible battery chamber in the caseback. Kept oil-free by the innovative internal locking-ring system, it’s a welcome improvement over the first generation Darkmoon.
Look closely at Darkmoon’s caseback in Joe’s video and you’ll see the clearly identified battery port engraved with the battery identifier – SR936SW. This, and a different surface profile, differentiates the battery port from the (upper) oil regulation port. According to the manufacturer’s instruction manual, that one’s for use, ‘exclusively by U-BOAT specialized technicians’. In case you decide to explore, don’t say we didn’t warn you!

In his video, Jack raves about this important product improvement: ‘…previously on the traditional U Boat Dark Moon watches they only had one port. To change the battery you actually had to send it back to Italy, which could have been a massive inconvenience because it took about six to eight weeks to replace, which can be very annoying for those that are spending a lot of money on a watch and can’t wear it for a certain period of time.’ Now, thankfully, having a dry battery port makes it easy to replace your U-Boat’s battery. In fact, it’s probably easier than removing the caseback and changing the battery on a conventional quartz watch. It’s just another example of the U-Boat detailing and continuous product refinement that we’ve come to expect from the Tuscan company. Chances are you already know about U-Boat Watch Italo Fontana and how the Italian watchmaker has grown since 2000.

That was when Italo Fontana discovered grandfather Ilvo’s 1942 designs detailing an innovative watch for the Italian Navy, the Regia Marina.

For whatever reason, the design didn’t go into production. Instead, decades later, it inspired U-Boat’s founder to create his watch brand. Since then, Italo Fontana’s hand-crafted luxury watches, with their large cases, distinctive left-handed crowns, and signature retro-nautical – ‘Steampunk’ even, according to some commentators – designs, have built a loyal following. Compared with many U-Boat designs, the Darkmoon may appear remarkably restrained. However, its striking sunburst – U-Boat call it soleil – dial, under that seductively curvaceous domed sapphire crystal, is anything but low-key. Here’s what Rob Corder, editor of respected watch-industry magazine WatchPro, wrote in September 2020:

‘U-Boat has added to the Capsoil family this year with a sub-collection called Dark Moon [sic] — a reference to the blackness of their dials being like the dark side of the moon — and even given them a horror inflection with a blood red and black model. Mr Fontana channelling his inner werewolf, perhaps.’

It’s interesting, but not surprising, that the rich-red glow of the magnified dial on that particular model evoked such a visceral response. It was the same when we showed the range to Michael Langley, an experienced visual designer, founder of Uchi Clothing and creator of the Uchi Horology Series of watch art and clothing: ‘When I look at a piece like the red-on-black U-Boat 8466/MT,’ he says, ‘I’m impressed by the striking, visually-bold design that’s both practical looking and visually arresting. The liquid filled domed crystal and huge dial numbers increase the submarine vibe. If any of the Darkmoon range suggests such a strong connection to U-Boat’s traditional retro-nautical style it’s surely this one.’

For anyone attempting to understand why certain watch designs work so well, Watches Tell More Than Time, written by industrial design guru Del Coates in 2003 is a useful reference. Dipping into this book was a no-brainer when planning to write about Darkmoon. Gazing at the Darkmoon’s peripatetic compensating bubble reminds of Movado’s Nathan George Horwitt-designed Museum watch from 1947, with its single round ‘midday sun’ motif at 12 o’clock. To quote Coates:

‘The [Museum watch] earned its status, instead, on aesthetic grounds, by virtue of the seminal innovation of a numberless face…it has become one of the most memorable and emulated timepieces of all time’. The U-Boat Darkmoon may not be the most sophisticated oil-filled watch ever made, or the most expensive. But by incorporating that essential compensating bubble into such a visually deep and impressive ‘high value-contrast’ dial, it might position U-Boat as a design leader for others to try and copy in future.

And then, thinking of horological design leaders who’ve experimented with oil-filling, there’s Benoît Mintiens’ innovative Ressence brand… We won’t be the first commentators to be reminded of Ressence’s breathtaking – and seriously expensive – timepieces by Capsoil and Darkmoon. Actually, though they famously use oil-filled technology, they differ from the U-Boat watch in a couple of important ways.

Firstly, there’s the technology. The U-Boat Darkmoon completely immerses its Ronda quartz movement and dial in oil. Compare that to the TYPE 3 and TYPE 5 Ressence. They combine an air-filled chamber for the mechanical movement with an oil-filled upper chamber that delivers their trademark ‘water drop’ image projection effect. A sophisticated micro-magnetic transmission connects the two chambers. The other big difference is price. As Watch Pilot co-founder Tim Harrison explains: ‘A Ressence costs the same as a mid-size Audi, but you can buy U-Boat’s Darkmoon from us for well under £1000! You even get some Tuscan ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ too – that’s all’avanguardia della tecnica in Italian! It’s an exciting prospect when you remember that you‘re buying into this rather arcane oil-filled horological technology. And the stunning visual impact it makes possible.’ Is the U-Boat Darkmoon a ‘poor man’s Ressence’? We’ll let you be the judge of that. What we will say is that oil-filled watches have actually been around for decades, albeit as a specialised and exclusive horological sub-set… There’s Ressence of course, as well as anti-mist, reflection-free underwater mission watches such as Sinn’s UX. The rest, including timepieces such as the French Beauchat Genesis 4000 HPS, or Hydroil-filled Bell & Ross Hydromax 11100M, complete an exclusive club. But none, not even used examples, can be had for anywhere near the price of U-Boat’s latest Darkmoon. As mentioned earlier, the moving compensating bubble on the Darkmoon (and Capsoil’s) face is a constant reminder of the genuinely-iconic Movado Museum watch.

Why’s it there? The bubble, which evokes strongly polarised responses from watch-forum participants, isn’t just a designer’s idle aesthetic indulgence. Instead, though having the capacity to delight or torment for hours that bubble exists for an important technical reason. It provides compensation when the oil expands or contracts with changes in temperature within the manufacturer’s recommended operating range of 0 ° and +60 °C.

We can only speculate about how many Darkmoon wearers will be unable to resist trying to hold the bubble directly above their watch’s centre post. Is this a unisex U-Boat watch? Though U-Boat offers watches – such as its 8474 Rainbow Ladies Mother of Pearl – specifically targeted at women, it’s no secret that its primary audience has traditionally been young and male.

However, current fashion-forward watch-wearing regularly sees larger men’s watches gracing female wrists. According to U-Boat’s UK importers, with a 44 mm case that wears smaller than its dimensions suggest, Darkmoon is definitely wowing both sexes. Make no mistake; this is arguably one of the best U-Boat watches for women at the moment. After all, why should such a visually-engaging horological objet be reserved for the boys, particularly in a world where women happily rock men’s Rolexes and other luxury timepieces?

Clearly, brand chemistry that endears U-Boat to male celebs such as Sylvester Stallone and Nicholas Cage also works powerfully on their female counterparts such as Israeli model Bar Refaeli and actress Lindsay Lohan. How about you? So that’s the U-Boat Darkmoon. Do you love watches with a strong retro-nautical story, unmissable visual impact, and that conversation-starting oil-filled technology? If so, this piece, with its fascinating design and engaging ‘Made in Tuscany’ story could be for you.

Enjoy Jack’s YouTube video and soak up his infectious enthusiasm for these breathtaking timepieces. Then browse our collection of U-Boat watches for men – and women – to discover the wonderful dark side of the Darkmoon collection for yourself – or as a gift for someone special.

Maurice Lacroix Pontos Chronograph

It might seem from time to time that the immense success of the Maurice Lacroix Aikon collection overshadows other models in the brand’s portfolio. Sure, the Aikon has proven to be hugely popular and comes in a wide range of styles, but there’s far more to Maurice Lacroix of course. The Pontos for instance is a well-established collection within the brand and is also available in many guises. From a classy dress watch to dive watches and even a monopusher chronograph, there’s a lot going on with the Pontos. The Maurice Lacroix Pontos Chronograph collection was refreshed in 2020, and now the Maurice Lacroix Pontos Chronograph gets a sporty makeover. This is the new Maurice Lacroix Pontos S Chronograph.
With the refresh in 2020, Maurice Lacroix updated most of the Pontos collection, including the Pontos Chronograph. This rather classic yet contemporary watch was presented with a white or grey dial and classical hour numerals. The Pontos S Chronograph gets a far more sporty appeal, as the S designates. This comes in a 43mm wide stainless steel case with the familiar Pontos design. The biggest difference to the existing Pontos Chronographs is the external black ceramic bezel with tachymeter scale. The crown is flanked by two elongated chronograph pushers, just like its siblings.
The new Pontos S Chronograph is available with a deep blue or silvery-white dial, both with a typical tricompax layout and a sandblasted finish. The subdials for the small seconds, chronograph 30-minutes and 12-hours are given a sailing pattern and contrasting rings. The silvery-white version has a Panda-like look with two of the three registers done in dark grey. Surrounding the dial are faceted hour indices, luminous rectangles, and a sloped minute flange. The sword-shaped central hour and minute hands are luminous as well, and the chronograph seconds hand has a contrasting red tip. The final detail is the double window for the day and date indication at 3 o’clock.
The movement used for the Pontos S Chronograph is the same as we’ve seen in the Maurice Lacroix Pontos Chronograph . The Calibre ML112, based on a Sellita, can be seen through the sapphire crystal caseback. This provides a power reserve of 42 hours and runs at a frequency of 28,800vph (4Hz). Functions include central hours and minutes, small seconds, chronograph 12-hours, chronograph 30-minutes and chronograph seconds, as well as the day of the week and the date. The finishing includes circular graining, Côtes de Genève, rhodium-plating and more.

MB&F LM Split Escapement Evo

Hello from Geneva! I’m in Switzerland to cover the third annual Geneva Watch Days exhibition, a small Swiss industry trade show that popped up in 2020, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the conventional trade show calendar was in utter disarray. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to attend the first two iterations of the show due to pandemic travel restrictions, so I’m excited to officially be on the ground in Geneva to cover the show’s third time around the sun. First on my docket is MB&F, who is releasing a pair of enticing new colorways in the LM Split Escapement series.
The MB & F LM Split Escapement EVO could very rightfully be considered the fifth generation of MB&F’s Legacy Machine series. When it was first released in 2017, it was the fifth iteration of the Legacy Machine concept, following the LM1, the LM2, the LM101, and the Legacy Machine Perpetual Calendar. It could also, however, be accurately considered a bit of a back-to-basics moment for the inventive and eccentric Swiss watch company.

And I don’t mean that because it’s any less complicated a creation – despite only featuring the hours and minutes, power reserve, and date split across the three raised sub-dials, it’s all about the unique approach to the escapement, which soars above the rest of the dial, suspended in space thanks to a highly polished, arched V-shaped bridge. This so-called Split Escapement will likely be the first detail on the watch to capture your attention. But then, you might notice something odd: Where, pray tell, are the typical lever and escape wheel to provide impulse to the balance wheel? What sort of strange horological devil magic allows this watch to work?!
The secret is hidden in the watch’s name – the “split” in Split Escapement references to the appearance of an open separation set in between the oscillating balance wheel and its impulse-providing lever, escape wheel, and impulse jewel. The balance, clearly, is the star of the show, while the rest of the necessary escapement parts are positioned underneath the dial and hidden from view. Although the balance appears at first glance to be completely disconnected from any element outside its looming V-shaped bridge, there’s actually an extra-long balance staff measuring exactly 11.78 millimeters that links the sky-high balance wheel to the subterranean action of the Swiss lever, the impulse jewel, and the impulse roller.

As you might expect, the tolerances involved in ensuring the proper transmission of energy across 11.78 millimeters are absurdly infinitesimal. Just consider the architecture of a traditional Swiss lever escapement – the driving escape wheel, the lever, and the balance wheel are typically all placed together in sequence to ensure everything couples together without a hitch. Now, imagine intentionally breaking all of that up by nearly half an inch, with only a slim pole ensuring it all works out without issue. Pretty cool, right?
This unconventional approach was born from the brain of one Stephen McDonnell, the Irish mastermind behind two of my absolute favorite MB&F watches, the astoundingly clever LM Perpetual Calendar, and the recently released haymaker of a chronograph, the LM Sequential EVO. The Split Escapement approach was actually first used by McDonnell and MB&F inside the LM Perpetual Calendar in 2015, and it isn’t inaccurate to understand that the much simpler LM Split Escapement watches are more or less identical to the LM Perpetual Calendar, except with the elimination of the perpetual calendar mechanism. It’s a back-to-basics approach for the Legacy Machine series in a method that only MB&F could envision.

For 2022, MB & F LM Split Escapement EVO is adding two new color variants of the Split Escapement EVO to the collection. One example, featuring an attractive “Sky Blue” base dial and slate grey sub-dials, will enter serial production. The second release features a black base dial and dark blue sub-dials and is a limited edition of 25 pieces exclusive to the Beverly Hills MB&F LAB, a new in-store retail concept that MB&F is deploying in select markets and that operates as a smaller sibling of the company’s flagship MAD Gallery retail locations; the Beverly Hills MB&F LAB is run by Westime Jewelers.
Both of the new watches are placed in grade-5 titanium cases and are part of the company’s EVO series, which indicates additional sporty design elements, such as an integrated rubber strap, a screw-down crown, 80 total meters of water resistance, and a unique internal shock-absorbing system developed by MB&F called “FlexRing,” which is more or less a monobloc steel dampener that sits in between the case and movement. The first LM Split Escapement included in the EVO collection was actually released earlier this year in the UAE Golden Jubilee, a 10-piece limited edition with a salmon dial created at the request of Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, the region’s leading luxury watch retailer, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Arab Emirates.
There’s never been any doubt about MB&F’s creativity, innovation, and general horological ingenuity. Those are all fairly painless to appreciate, but I’m sure there have been more than one intrigued well-to-do collector who’s walked away from a potential acquisition over wearability concerns. The development of the more casual EVO elements throughout the greater Legacy Machine collection is meant to address any potential unease around fit.
MB&F introduced the EVO platform in 2020, so my first experience handling a fully EVO-kitted-out Legacy Machine wasn’t until I saw the Sequential chronograph earlier this year. I remember feeling suitably impressed at how it impacted the on-the-wrist experience compared to previous-gen LMs. There’s no question that MB & F LM Split Escapement EVO generally produces watches on the rather large side – they don’t hide from the fact! – but the addition of the integrated rubber strap and bezel-less case profile makes the entire silhouette more dynamic and endearing. If I was an MB&F owner, I imagine the additional EVO components would make it a lot easier to strap the watch on in the morning, especially compared to a stiff alligator leather strap.

So I think it’s a positive to see that MB&F is prioritizing the expansion of the EVO design elements throughout the entire Legacy Machine line-up, instead of focusing on one or two “sportier” references. I also appreciate how the Split Escapement is such an authentically MB&F creation even though it’s technically a spin-off of the company’s more complicated LM Perpetual Calendar.
As much as I adore the MB&F QP, I wouldn’t feel short-changed or disappointed at all to end up with the Split Escapement instead. It’s rare to find a watch that places such a priority on showing off its regulating organ, especially one that’s built around the traditional Swiss lever (albeit executed very differently than normal), but the MB & F LM Split Escapement EVO is all the better for it. It’s a timepiece that dictates its own aesthetics through the purity of its horological approach – the first thing you notice is the extra-large balance wheel seeming to spin freely through devil magic.

HYT Hastroid Supernova Blue

The return of Swiss HYT was marked by the release of the HYT Hastroid Green Nebula watch , but this subsequently released HYT Moonrunner is really where you’ll see the type of innovation that HYT is probably going to be known for moving forward. The Moonrunner Supernova Blue (dramatic name, I know) takes the same case architecture and base movement as the Hastroid but introduces a new dial display with moon phase and annual calendar. HYT Moonrunner Supernova Blue will go hands-on with the Hastroid soon, but for now, let’s get a look at the new 2022 HYT Moonrunner Supernova Blue.

HYT poetically calls the Moonrunner watch “a 3D moon window to space.” The celestial theme is a new hallmark of the brand, moving it away from the more traditional “futuristic watchmaking meets hydrologists” of the previous generation HYT company. The entirety of the Moonrunner dial is very impressive in both how the information is displayed and the deep three-dimensional design that makes good use of the space under the highly curved sapphire crystal dome over the face.
Moving outside in, the periphery of the Moonrunner Supernova Blue dial begins with HYT’s signature retrograde liquid display for the hours, which uses blue-colored liquid set against a lume-painted background. Moving inside is a more traditional minutes hand that is presented as a white arrow hand that moves under the moving calendar rings. Accordingly, as you move more to the center of the dial, you see first a month indicator ring and second a date indicator ring. Both are read via the hand positioned at the 6 o’clock on the dial. The very center of the Moonrunner dial is a three-dimensional blue and black sphere moving under a circular window that represents the moon phase indicator.
Most of the dial is crafted in matte surfaces and a lot of anodized aluminum. Indeed, there is a degree of glare from the crystal, but the mostly non-reflective display of the HYT Moonrunner is a real benefit to its overall design and makes it feel more like a futuristic instrument and less like another luxury wearable that tries too hard to attract attention via shiny surfaces. Viewers tend to like the look of concentric rings, and the Moonrunner’s display does this, perfecting not only using rings within rings to create the dial, but also creating a pyramid effect with a high level of depth. This is a dial that your eyes just really like to explore and investigate.
The “Supernova Blue” part of the Moonrunner’s name is probably a hint that HYT is going to plan on producing further color variations in the future, possibly with different case materials. This reference H02758-A Moonrunner has a PVD-coated black titanium case that has mostly sandblasted surfaces. You can see an inner blue structure in the case, which is produced from anodized aluminum. The case is quite comfortable despite its large size — 48mm-wide, 21.8mm-thick, with a 52.3mm lug-to-lug distance and a water resistance rating of 50 meters.
Inside the watch is an HYT movement the brand calls the caliber 601-MO. It is manually wound with 72 hours of power reserve, and it operates at 4Hz. At a glance, it might appear to be the legacy HYT movement, but it is a much-upgraded base that was developed via the old HYT team but never launched in a product. It improves upon a variety of things and certainly has some novel elements. HYT’s current management had to simply put on some finishing touches to the movement and then was able to properly industrialize it while creating the new moon display and annual calendar system module that fits over it.
An effective feature of the HYT Moonrunner Supernova Blue movement is the inset pushers on the left side of the case that allow for quick adjustment of the moon phase and month indicators. The funny part is that you’d really need to know this watch well to understand that because the symbol for the moon phase indicator is unlike those on the vast majority of moon phrase watches, and the “M” for month could easily be mistaken for “M” for moon. In any event, the watch functions are easy to adjust, and the combination of the practical annual calendar mixed with an emotional moon phase indicator makes for an interesting and original watch-wearing experience.

Hamilton Khaki AviationKhaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Mechanical

Boasting a distinct vintage military aviation design, Hamilton’s Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical Chronograph brings back the form and function of the chronographs issued to British Royal Air Force pilots in the 1970s.
The black-grained dial of this manual-winding chronograph spotlights two horizontally aligned subdials measuring chronograph minutes and running seconds.
Hands coated in a white lacquer consistent with the original RAF models further the Pilot Pioneer’s heritage appeal, as does a layer of Super-LumiNova. Also used on the dial markings, its beige-tone is reminiscent of the patina found today in vintage radium-based lume and ensures clarity in low light conditions
Distinctive features such as a right-side case bulge designed to protect the crown and pushers, as well as a dome-shaped ‘box’ crystal with double anti-reflective coating also nod to its historic use as a critical aviation tool.
The watch is equipped with the high-performance H-51-Si mechanical movement, introduced in 2021. This hand-winding chronograph caliber features a silicon balance spring and offers 60-hour power reserve.
Dressed in a 40mm diameter stainless steel case, the Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical Chronograph comes with a vintage themed brown leather strap.

Alittle while ago I reviewed what is probably the most popular field watch on the market, the Hamilton’s Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical Chronograph Whilst it’s a great watch in many ways, it didn’t quite hit the spot for me, and that’s because, to be honest, I found it a bit dull. I know that’s kind of the point of a field watch, but I’m no soldier stuck in the Vietnamese jungle. I’m a watch geek who wants a field watch because I like its aesthetics. And that’s why when I had the KFM, I was left wanting a field watch that was just a little bit nicer. Fortunately for me, Hamilton makes another field watch that I think is just what I’m after. That watch is their Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Mechanical.
It’s essentially a reissue of the Hamilton W10, which the company supplied to all three branches of the British military from 1973-1976. It also makes the name Pilot Pioneer something of a misnomer, as the design is for a general service watch, rather than one specifically designed for pilots.
In the past, I’ve been highly critical of the Pilot Pioneer’s retail price of £720, mainly because it’s almost twice the price of the Khaki Field Mechanical. That watch has very similar specs and styling, but it costs only £395. However, recently I’ve begun to wonder if the difference in the prices of these two models isn’t simply because the Pilot Pioneer costs that much more for Hamilton to make. Practically every aspect of it is finished to a higher standard, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that meant its production costs were almost double that of the KFM. And, if Hamilton applies the same percentage markup to both watches, then that would result in the large difference in the retail prices.
Let’s start by looking at the case. Just like the original W10, the Pilot Pioneer has a tonneau/cushion-shaped case with a brushed finish. The brushing keeps the watch looking toolish, but it also looks more refined than the bead blasting seen on the Khaki Field Mechanical.

The size of the case is a modest 36mm, with a lug-to-lug of 41mm, and a thickness of 10mm. This is pretty much the same size as the original Hamilton W10, and I’m glad to see Hamilton resisted the urge to upscale the watch for a modern audience. I find that the watch wears pretty true to these dimensions as well, so it will undoubtedly be too small for some people.
To add to the authenticity of the Pilot Pioneer, Hamilton’s Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical Chronograph opted to fit it with a boxed mineral crystal that mimics the shape of the acrylic crystals found on the original W10. It sits nice and proud from the case, which helps the watch to really nail the vintage look. However, I’m confused as to why Hamilton didn’t go with a sapphire crystal. Sapphire would be much more scratch-resistant, and the fact that the Pilot Pioneer only uses a mineral crystal is frankly inexcusable. Though the one thing the mineral crystal on the Pilot Pioneer does have going for it over the sapphire on the KFM, is that it has a double anti-reflective coating. This severely reduces any glare, and therefore I had no trouble at all in telling the time in bright sunlight.

U-Boat Classico 30

Luxury watchmaker U-Boat is a cult favourite among watch fanatics for their Tuscan craftsmanship and timeless style. For this latest season, the brand has introduced new 30mm iterations of its U boat Classico Lady timepiece, the smallest size ever conceived by the Italian label. Showcasing fine diamonds and expert horology, the new range is a surefire way to get noticed this summer
Italian luxury watchmaker U-Boat 30mm has unveiled a new range of 30mm jewellery watches, the smallest size ever conceived by the brand.

The new offering of U boat Classico Lady timepieces boast a delicate, feminine design, with a stainless steel AISI 316L case and the brand’s iconic crown on the left hand side. Framed by anti-reflective sapphire glass, the dial consists of three superimposed layers, of which the lower one in shiny metal and the upper layer in mother-of-pearl decline in three rich tones of pink, black and turquoise.
Elevating the design are the 12, 8 and 4 indexes, which come frosted with 36 white diamonds. Finished with a stainless steel strap and caseback in mineral glass (providing 50 metres of water resistance) the new Classico Lady 30mm range is available now, online and in stores globally.

Patek Philippe Calatrava Cortina Watch 50th Anniversary

Since Cortina Watch’s founding in 1972, it has represented one of the most respected brands in Swiss watchmaking – Patek Philippe. What began as a professional encounter between the founder of Cortina Watch, Mr. Anthony Lim, and the late Mr. Henri Stern over 66 years ago developed into a longstanding retail partnership that has helped to establish both brands across the Southeast and East Asia region. Today, Cortina Watch exclusively manages six Patek Philippe Calatrava Cortina Watch 50th Anniversary specialist boutiques across Asia.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Cortina Watch’s founding as well as five decades of partnership with Patek Philippe in the region, a special limited-edition watch has been created for the occasion. The Patek Philippe Ref. 5057G-010 is a new edition of the Ref. 5057R-001 created for Cortina Watch in 1997 to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Limited to 100 pieces, it will be available this year.
The new white gold Ref. 5057G-010 produced specially for the 50th anniversary features the same triple row guilloched “Clous de Paris” hobnail bezel as the first model created for Cortina Watch in 1997 to celebrate its 25th anniversary, with a charcoal grey sunburst dial with a black-gradient rim, white transfer-printed Roman numerals and white gold, pear-shaped hands.
Powered by the Caliber 240 PS IRM C LU, the display indicates the date, moon phases and power reserve on two subdials, with a small seconds indication between the four and five o’clock hour markers. The ultra-thin, self-winding movement has a 48-hour power reserve and can be viewed through the transparent sapphire caseback, which bears a commemorative inscription “Cortina Watch 50th Anniversary Since 1972” in white.
Patek Philippe has also created a unique dome clock in Grand Feu cloisonné enamel for the 50th anniversary celebration of Cortina Watch. The Ref. 20145M-001 “Singapore Skyline” celebrates Singapore’s beautiful urban landscape, from the Merlion mascot to the Central Business District, Gardens by the Bay, the Esplanade, and Marina Bay Sands, where the second Patek Philippe boutique was opened in Singapore by Cortina Watch.
To create the contours of the city skyline and its most emblematic monuments, the enameller used 9.2 m of 24K gold wire (18.45 g) measuring 0.2 x 0.6 mm in cross-section, cut into tiny segments, and shaped by hand.

For the scene’s magical tints, with their subtle gradations and layered effects, a palette of 50 enamel colors was used: 47 transparent, 1 opaque and 2 opalescent. Each enameled plate required from 10 to 14 firings at temperatures between 890º and 910º C. A shower of 50 gold stars and fireworks, made using gold and silver dust, cascade the sky to celebrate the jubilee. A guilloched hour circle with dentate edges echoing the flowers in the garden city, set with 12 baguette markers made of lapis lazuli (2.27ct), frames a dial center in cloisonné enamel. An engraved inscription “Cortina Watch – 50th Anniversary – Since 1972” is discreetly indicated on the clock. The dome table clock is powered by the Caliber 17’’’ PEND mechanical movement rewound by an electric motor.

MB&F Horological Machine N°10 HM10 Dark Bulldog

The first MB&F Horological Machine from MB&F was HM1, which was launched in 2007. Since then, we have seen eight more, along of course with the release of a myriad of other timepieces – clocks and watches both – from MB&F, which were not Horological Machines per se. The basic idea behind the Horological Machines was to create watches which break the idea of a watch down into fragments and build those fragments back up again into something – well, hopefully, something rich and strange, to paraphrase Shakespeare. Today, MB&F introduces the tenth Horological Machine, which combines the signature playful design and very serious watchmaking so characteristic of the HM series in a new way. The new Machine, HM10, is called the Bulldog.
The Bulldog combines several elements found in other watches from MB&F Horological Machine . The most immediately apparent are the timekeeping displays. Convex surfaces printed with numbers and which rotate on their axes to show the hours and minutes first appeared in the form of cones in HM3, and they were given a hemispherical shape in the HM3 “Frog,” which is maybe my favorite Horological Machine of them all. They make a return in the Bulldog and are accompanied by a design element which, prior to HM10, had been found only in the more traditionally designed Legacy Machines. This element is the balance wheel, which is suspended under a high-arched bridge and which appears to float above the plane of the dial.
The “Bull” in Bulldog comes partly from the configuration of the two crowns, which sit above the dial and which project outward like the horns of a bull. Usually, when it occurs in chronographs, this is referred to as a bullhead configuration. Here, the two crowns aren’t there to operate a chronograph. Instead, one crown, the left, is used to wind power into the mainspring (power reserve is 45 hours) and the other, on the right, to set the two domes to the correct time. The domes are made of extremely thin aluminum, so as to reduce as much as possible to a minimum the energy costs of driving them. And the watch has a unique power reserve display.
If the crowns are the dog’s ears and the domes its eyes, the power reserve is its jaw. Winding the mainspring causes the jaw to gradually open and as the mainspring winds down, the jaws close. The power reserve is located on the underside of the case, but thanks to the arrangement of the lugs and strap as well as its three-dimensionality, it can easily be seen when the watch is being worn – a private pleasure for the owner, as it’s not visible topside.

As is generally the case with the Horological Machines, the Bulldog is a fairly large watch, at 54mm x 45mm x 24mm. MB&F Horological Machine , however, does intend for its watches to be worn (indeed I have always felt that to own one and leave it in a safe or on a winder most of the time would be to miss a lot of the fun of owning one) and the Bulldog is equipped with articulated lugs that let the watch sit comfortably on wrists over a range of sizes.
The “engine” for HM10 (as MB&F likes to call its movements) is in-house, which is not terribly surprising when you consider the odds of finding a bulldog-jaw-power-reserve, elevated balance, time-dome-equipped off-the-shelf movement. A number of individuals worked on the various aspects of the movement; Simon Brette at MB&F led the movement development team. The overall concept for the watch is of course from Max Büsser, MB&F’s founder, with design by renowned watch designer Eric Giroud.

The HM10 Bulldog will be available in two versions. One has a grade 5 titanium body and blue “eyes” while the other will be in red gold, with black “eyes.”
The “engine” for HM10 (as MB&F likes to call its movements) is in-house, which is not terribly surprising when you consider the odds of finding a bulldog-jaw-power-reserve, elevated balance, time-dome-equipped off-the-shelf movement. A number of individuals worked on the various aspects of the movement; Simon Brette at MB&F led the movement development team. The overall concept for the watch is of course from Max Büsser, MB&F’s founder, with design by renowned watch designer Eric Giroud.

The HM10 Bulldog will be available in two versions. One has a grade 5 titanium body and blue “eyes” while the other will be in red gold, with black “eyes.”
The Bulldog is a watch I’m very grateful for as a watch writer – it is so far removed from the ordinary run of modern watchmaking, so far divorced from the risk-averse pseudo-innovation and lack of imagination common to much modern watchmaking. At the same time, it’s a very dangerous kind of watchmaking to do, and it requires constantly winning over the hearts and minds of a relatively small and very fickle group of collectors globally. The number of possible clients for any MB&F watch is small not only in terms of the cost of the watches but also in terms of tastes. It takes a lot of conviction for someone to spend six figures on the sort of mechanical flights of fancy that are MB&F’s stock in trade – and a tremendous amount of conviction for MB&F to continue producing them.
The Bulldog is an extremely interesting watch on a number of levels: It’s fascinating just taken as a very wild riff on what a watch can be, it’s mechanically and functionally interesting, and it also represents a combination of elements from MB&F’s watchmaking history which have never before been put together in a single watch. In some respects, the titanium version might be the more wearable on a semi-daily basis, but I have always enjoyed MB&F’s horological machines in red gold – somehow it seems to really bring out the case geometry. The Bulldog also does something which, in addition to being enjoyable in its own right, is a symptom of how good MB&F is at storytelling. It makes me wonder what happens next.

U-Boat Classico 42 Tungsteno

U-Boat is an Italian brand based on Tuscany. The watches are typically very large, from 45mm to 50mm and often seen as a different take to Italian dive watches than brands like Panerai. Designed by founder and creative director Italo Fontana, the Classico lineup is a collection which U-Boat describes as one which “takes elegance to a whole new level”. In our opinion, we will not accuse of any of the U-Boat creations as elegant by any stretch of imagination. Though at U-Boat Classico 42 Tungsteno, this novelty is somewhat smaller than the watches in the Classico series, if we do not include a model identified as Stratos in 40mm.
The series has a strong aesthetic which we would describe as rough and tough tool watch. The design is of the Classico collection is a destro arrangement with the crown on the left at 9 o’clock. The crown is protected by a patented crown protection system, one which is alike yet unlike the one found on Panerai. The guard is actually a huge crown cap, which is attached by a metal hinge at 7 o’clock and can be unscrewed to reveal the real crown. Though this is a kind of a armour which may offer some measure of protection for the crown, we feel the design is not particularly elegant.
Also of interest is that the model name says U-Boat Classico 42 Tungsteno , which translate to Tungsten in Italian, leads us to think that the case is made of tungsten. However, only the bezel is made of tungsten and not the entire case which is stainless steel in this new 42mm case sized Classico.
The case looks very robust, but water resistance is only rated to 100m. The movement is only specified as Swiss automatic winding Caliber STP 1-11. This leads us to assume that the movement is the Swiss Technology Production (a Fossil company) and a derivative of the ubqutious Sellita SW200-1/ETA 2824-1. The base specifications – dimensions, no of jewels, power reserve does line up. U-Boat specifies a custom rotor which is skeletonised to bear the U-Boat logo. However, the STP data sheet for the C. 1-11 says that the movement is time only with date, and is without the 24 hour indicator which is found on the U-Boat Classico 42. We are not certain if this is a special modification specified by U-Boat.
The Maison from Lucca reinterprets its Classico model in two versions, beige and black, with a reduced case size of 42 mm, tungsten bezel, glass caseback and visible movement.

A Classic is forever and when the design becomes iconic, it would be a mortal sin to change it.

U-Boat Classico 42 Tungsteno re-proposes its acclaimed time only Classico model, characterized by clean and essential lines, with 42 mm AISI 316L steel case and polished tungsten bezel.

The Classico model is now presented in two dial versions, in black and beige with indexes and numerals treated with SuperLuminova, on which an additional 24-hour counter stands.
On the caseback in full glass, fastened to the case with 6 screws that guarantee the watch’s water resistance up to 100 meters deep, a central window allows a view of the movement and the skeletonized rotor customized by the brand.

A lasered strap in leather, aged by a natural process and handmade in Tuscany by expertcraftsmen, completes the look of the two watches, with innate class and elegance, whichmakes them adapt to any type of outfit.

Maurice Lacroix Aikon #tide Benzilla

Maurice Lacroix has tasked Thai artist Benzilla with creating a street art-infused version of its new Maurice Lacroix AIKON #tide watch.The quartz-powered AIKON #tide was launched back in March as a colorful version of its AIKON sports watch with a case made from recycled ocean plastic, representing 17 bottles worth of plastic, which is collected from the seas around Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.This special edition AIKON #tide Benzilla was unveiled today at the opening of a new Maurice Lacroix boutique in Bangkok.Benzilla graduated Bangkok University after studying fine and applied art and is now best known for his colorful street art, despite…
Maurice Lacroix AIKON has tasked Thai artist Benzilla with creating a street art-infused version of its new AIKON #tide watch.

The quartz-powered Maurice Lacroix AIKON #tide was launched back in March as a colorful version of its AIKON sports watch with a case made from recycled ocean plastic, representing 17 bottles worth of plastic, which is collected from the seas around Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
This special edition Maurice Lacroix AIKON #tide Benzilla was unveiled today at the opening of a new Maurice Lacroix boutique in Bangkok.

Benzilla graduated Bangkok University after studying fine and applied art and is now best known for his colorful street art, despite being color blind.

The 40mm watch features a flat sapphire crystal above Benzilla’s dial design, which features his three-eyed character ‘LOOOK.’ While the bezel and crown are a sombre black, the case and quick change rubber strap are vibrant shades of orange and blue respectively.

Following the environmentally responsible theme, the watch is presented without “excessive packaging” but is offered with a color-coordinated mug.