MB&F Horological Machine N°11 HM11 Architect

There’s something poetic about MB&F’s choice to launch the MB&F HM11 “Architect” the day before Dubai Watch Week in a country Büsser has called home since 2014. It is, paradoxically, a watch that seems furthest from home of Büsser’s recent Horological Machine designs which have become (and I hate to say this) often predictably automotive. But this is, as the brand has told me, “a home for the wrist.”

No, that’s not a commentary on the typically enormous size of any MB&F Horological Machine N°11 HM11 Architect watch, though here, measuring a relatively small 42mm wide by (still pretty hefty) 23mm thick. It’s not even a jab at the cost of the HM-11, a cool $230,000. Most of MB&F’s Horological Machines look like “things” (many of them automotive, some of them unintentionally – well – like an eggplant emoji). This time, the watch draws inspiration from the futuristic architecture of the 1960s and 1970s that incorporated modernism and organic architecture philosophies. And it’s undeniably one of the brand’s most creative and interesting designs.
It’s not a far cry from Matti Suuronen’s Futuro house – the Finnish designer’s 1970 fiberglass-reinforced plastic design – which was met with some of the same hostility (or at least incredulousness) I often see for MB&F’s HMs. Adjusted for inflation, the Futuro cost less at around $105,000. The apertures look a little more like Antti Lovag’s “Palais Bulles” (without the water features) meets Charles Haertling’s “Brenton House.” In fact, Büsser admits that while his wife wouldn’t love to live in these buildings, he would. It was an Instagram post of “Brenton House“ that made Büsser think “that would make a good watch.”

Just like any of the above buildings, I wouldn’t say I ever really felt like any HM was really for me (save for maybe the HM5 or HM8 Mark II). But I still do my best to at least interpret them and understand the appeal. Looking back to the 1960s and 1970s, architects of the day often attempted to break free from traditional design language that, while comfortable and accessible to mass audiences, had failed to evolve to take advantage of modern building techniques, materials, and engineering capabilities. If that sounds familiar, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the efforts of these architects and their approach to modernizing design have (unsurprisingly) fascinated Büsser for years. The same challenges Büsser’s team have had to learn to overcome – nearly impossible shaped sapphire crystal, hard-to-machine titanium – all come into play here. But rather than looking to the automotive industry as the team has in the past, Eric Giroud, the design leader, drew on his architectural background to inform the layout of HM11. Büsser and Giroud have envisioned the HM11 as a house with four rooms. It’s somewhat like Monsanto’s “House of Tomorrow,” with a central area and branching useful spaces built off of it. In that middle space on the MB&F Horological Machine N°11 HM11 Architect is a one-minute reverse-rotation central flying tourbillon under a double-domed sapphire. The watch will come in two colors, one with PVD-coated “ozone blue” plates, and the other in 5N gold – 25 pieces each. But as eye-catching as they are, the real party is being held in the side rooms of the HM11 house.
On a practical level, the HM11 is read similarly to every Horological Machine since HM3: at an angle on the wrist. To that effect, this may be the least legible Horological Machine that MB&F has ever made. I’m lucky to have 20/20 vision and am generally the last to decry legibility with even the most unusual combinations of dial colors, handsets, or odd displays like the Cartier Tank à Guichet. It’s actually something I struggle to remember in these reviews – call it a “forest for the trees” situation. But in both those instances – and here – the redeeming factor is that these aren’t so much practical watches as sculptural horological machines – as the name explicitly states – for the wrist. If you want legibility and practicality, head to the “Legacy Machine” lineup from MB&F Horological Machine N°11 HM11 Architect and pick your poison. Even the LMs aren’t the most legible watches on the market, but that’s not what you’re buying anyway. In this case, what you’re actually buying is a brilliantly thought-out homage to some of the greatest designers of the 1960s and 1970s, a design that goes further than the overall pod-like design. Case in point: in the first of the four rooms, you can see a small display with two white arrow hands featuring red tips. And they are quite small, about 0.6mm. Those hands point to metal balls on short rods radiating from the center of the display – silver-colored for the quarter hours and brass at the other five-minute intervals. Its timekeeping is drawn from American industrial designer George Nelson’s “Horloge Vitra” Ball Clocks, a design so deeply embedded in my memory that I had never questioned who created it until I saw the HM11. All that is housed in a window about 11.45mm tall, so it’s not the largest face for a watch, to say the least. To translate the horizontal plane of the tourbillon movement to a vertical display for the watch (and the other rooms, which we’ll get to) the brand continues to lean on conical gears which are more visible here than any other HM I can remember, which makes it a perfect way to study the ingenuity that makes MB&F Horological Machine N°11 HM11 Architect watches so compelling. As with most modern architectural projects, energy efficiency is key, and the HM11 acknowledges that in two ways. First is in room two. There, you’ll find a similar display for the power reserve, counting down the 96 hours of power reserve held in the mainspring. To get to the second room from the first, there’s no contortion required. Instead, the watch – rather intuitively rotates unidirectionally around a central axis with an easy twist, locking into position every 45 or 90 degrees so it won’t freely spin. In fact, if you turn it only 45 degrees, it’s almost even more easily viewed as a “driver’s” watch. All of this is suspended on a lightweight titanium frame with long lugs. Room three is something novel and unusual these days: a thermometer, available in either Celcius or Fahrenheit. In fact, this makes it one of maybe a handful of mechanical modern watches with a thermometer. While these kinds of complications used to be made in pocket watches (I seem to recall seeing a number by Jules Jurgensen, for instance) I can only think of one other, by Ball, on the modern market. That watch requires the wearer to remove it from their wrist for a period of time or their body temperature will impact the thermometer’s function – essentially it’ll read your body’s temperature all day. The new HM11 doesnot have that problem. It’s a pretty smart (though maybe less useful) inclusion, all things considered, if for no other reason than the fact the design of the thermometer takes advantage of MB&F’s watchmakers’ existing skills. The watch uses a spring thermometer, with a coiled metal that expands when the temperature rises and contracts as it cools. Just as watchmakers learn to work hairsprings, those skills apparently apply just as well when it comes to regulating a thermometer. The final “room” sits at what would be three o’clock on a normal watch – if the watch is set for viewing the time, at least. Instead of another function, the room is a see-through crystal crown for time setting, a room the brand calls the watch’s front door. It’s the appropriate place for a crown, but this isn’t any ordinary crown.

While a normal crown needs a 2mm gasket, the large size of this crown required some rethinking. Instead, two sets of gaskets are used, creating a kind of double airlock, with eight gaskets total for the crown (19 are used in the watch). This gives the watch 20m of water resistance. But the size of the crown caused a problem. With the initial design of the watch, any attempt to pull the crown out immediately caused it to be sucked back in by the vacuum of the small amount of air inside the domed crystal? The solution was to make the crown’s volume bigger, lessening the impact of a small change in volume when the crown is pulled out. With most brands working to make their watches thinner, it’s a funny but smart and necessary change. One thing you’ll notice while wearing the watch is that the crown doesn’t actually wind the movement. And yet, it’s a manually-wound watch. I mentioned that energy efficiency is key and the fact that the “house” rotates on its foundation isn’t just a parlor trick. Each 45° clockwise turn not only gives you a tactile click, it delivers 72 minutes of power directly to the barrel. After 10 complete rotations, HM11 is at its maximum power. For all the technical specs and creative features, I’ve probably missed a few things. But I’ve also glossed over one important question: how does the watch wear? Well, I’m guessing that even with its steep price tag, there are 50 eager buyers out there for the MB&F Horological Machine N°11 HM11 Architect , many of whom have probably seen a preview of the watch just like I did and have made up their own minds on that question. I doubt buyers really care that much about how the watch wears. For people who can’t afford the watch, I’d bet a lot of people would glibly say that the wearability doesn’t matter much. I could tell you that I was surprised at how comfortable it was on my wrist at 42mm (2mm thinner than the Sequential Evo) and how it didn’t feel nearly as thick as the 23mm specs. It even fit under a shirt cuff. But you’re right. None of that matters much. The most important fact is that Büsser is doing what he’s always done: thinking so far outside the box that it challenges what we even consider a watch anymore. It might not be as technically innovative as last year’s Sequential Evo, nor would it be what I would consider the quintessential distillation of Büsser’s designs in the way an LM-101 might be. But in an age where so many brands are homogenizing their releases (and trust me, I get constant press releases from new brands creating the same watches as so many others), or falling into complacency, at least something is comforting in knowing I can yet again expect to be surprised by Büsser and his team.

U-Boat Darkmoon 44 BR

Colours have always influenced our emotions, our daily life, and they do it unconsciously, to the point of often becoming synonymous with our emotional states, stimulating our imagination and determining our mood. Wearing our favorite colours and their shades as well as beautifully designed objects is certainly a good strategy to have a more positive mood every day.
The new U-Boat Darkmoon 44 BR range consists of 13 watches characterized by the innovative concept of “Oil Immersion”, tested for the first time in the Capsoil model, where an oil bath completely immerses the Swiss Ronda quartz movement and completely surrounds the dial turning it into a full, deep color. A compensation bubble floats freely on the dial protecting the watch from the changes in the external temperature.
Always interested in how colors exert their influence upon us, Italo Fontana expands the U-Boat Darkmoon 44 BR collection of watches, offering the chance to its wearer to choose the nuance of the dial that feels most its own and positively influence its own moods passing from red, to black, to blue, to green and brown.
From a technical point of view, the designer from Lucca adds an innovative locking ring system with quick battery replacement, an innovation not only conceived for all Darkmoon models but also for the acclaimed Capsoil Chrono watch in both the steel case and the U-Boat Darkmoon 44 BR black DLC version.

Urwerk UR-100V Time and Culture II

URWERK has embarked on another historically inspired journey with its latest timepiece, the UR-100V Time and Culture II, also nicknamed the “Sumer.” This watch collection delves into the core of Mesopotamian civilization, specifically spotlighting the ancient city of Ur, a significant source of inspiration for the brand.

Further inspiration is derived from the fact that the Sumerians of Ur, back in 3000 BC, pioneered the initial unit of time, establishing the basis for modern time measurement. They revered the number 60, which is mirrored in the 60 seconds and 60 minutes we use today.

Speaking more on this, URWERK’s co-founder and artistic director Martin Frei explained, “Through my reading and my travels, I’ve been fortunate enough to discover all the richness and diversity of the Sumerians. Their mythology is rich and fertile, their constructions truly timeless. This astonishingly little-known civilization is fascinating. For this new creation, I loved staging some of its hallmark features: mythology, astronomy, astrology and time measurement.”

Encased under a sapphire dome, “Sumer” is a tribute to ancient Sumerian deities, showcasing a modern rendition of the Sun god Utu at its core, represented by a four-pointed sun symbolizing the four cardinal points. Nestled between the lugs, in a seemingly orbital float, is the moon god Nanna, paying homage to Ur’s chief deity — all displayed through eccentric detail.

URWERK shared that the watch’s blue hue is an ode to lapis lazuli, linked to the goddess of Love, War and Fertility, Innana. This vivid color, along with authentic sky charts and planispheres, highlights the Sumerians’ astronomical prowess and their appreciation for celestial bodies.

Looking at its technicals, the UR-100V “Sumer” boasts a self-winding UR 12.02 movement, with a 48-hour power reserve. The meticulous laser-engraved designs, subtle yet precise, are designed to be a testimony to the Sumerian civilization’s timeless contribution to time and culture. The hours and minutes on the watch are uniquely displayed alongside data on the Earth’s rotation and revolution, offering a blend of history, astronomy and modern horology to the wearer.
Today, URWERK Geneve launched the all-new UR-100V ‘Time And Culture II’, featuring intricate laser-engraved motifs.

In a new artistic leap towards the future of independent watchmaking, URWERK dives into the hotbed of civilization, Mesopotamia, to draw inspiration for its second edition of the UR-100V Time and Culture Collection. The Swiss watch brand’s latest offering, titled ‘Sumer,’ honors the city of Ur and the Sumerians who defined the first unit of time around 3000 BC. Known for their astronomical wisdom and rich mythology, the Sumerians chose the golden number 60, laying the groundwork for the 60-second minute and 60-minute hour we use today. From its mythology to its architecture, the Sumerian influence is palpable in every detail of the UR-100V ‘Sumer.’ Nestled beneath its sapphire dome is a tribute to ancient figures like Utu, the Sun god, represented in a modern yet timeless four-pointed design. Orbiting subtlety between the lugs is the moon god Nanna, adding another layer of celestial reverence to the watch.

Richard Mille RM 07-01 Automatic Coloured Ceramics

Over the course of the last several years, Richard Mille has created a number of different timepieces within the RM 07-01 series, and as its latest new release of 2023, the brand has announced a trio of new models based upon this rather compact platform. Two years ago, Richard Mille created a batch of limited-edition RM 07-01 watches with colored ceramic cases, and it is now bringing back this concept with a new trio of models. Along with featuring different colorways from the previous editions, the new Richard Mille RM 07-01 Coloured Ceramics are inspired by the 1980s Italian art and architecture movement Memphis Design, and they feature gem-set dials with guilloché elements in a variety of different shapes and colors. Although Richard Mille created its first model specifically for women back in 2005, the brand has released a number of watches with more compact cases over the course of the last several years, and it has also placed an emphasis on expanding its offerings for women in a horologically meaningful manner. For example, it was a women’s model that debuted the brand’s first Carbon TPT bracelet back in 2019, and just earlier this year, Richard Mille launched its first purpose-built women’s sports watch, which features an ultra-lightweight design and a function selector switch that allows the winding crown to be disengaged from the movement to help prevent the transfer of shocks and impacts. While Richard Mille does produce models specifically intended for women, many people would agree that watches are inherently rather unisex items, and the already rather tenuous gender lines of watch design get further blurred when you try to apply them to the bold, colorful, and ultra-modern aesthetic of Richard Mille’s catalog. There has been a gradual shift within the industry towards removing the gender category from watches, and although the rather compact Richard Mille RM 07-01 Coloured Ceramics series has historically been presented as a women’s model, none of the official press literature for the new Richard Mille RM 07-01 Coloured Ceramics watches make any explicit mention of them being specifically intended for women. That said, if you search by gender on Richard Mille’s website, the new trio will populate exclusively within the women’s filter, although the brand still presents these new RM 07-01 Coloured Ceramics models in a fairly gender-neutral manner. Within the realm of Richard Mille’s smaller watches, the RM 07-01 is one of its more simple and straightforward designs, and it therefore typically serves as the foundation for the brand’s more art-oriented pieces, such as the RM 07-01 Intergalactic watches that were unveiled last year. Consequently, the primary focus of the new Richard Mille RM 07-01 Coloured Ceramics is their colorful Memphis Design-inspired appearance, although just like everything else that the brand produces, there is a significant amount of craftsmanship and technical engineering that goes into every element of their design and construction. The three new Richard Mille RM 07-01 Coloured Ceramics watches feature the brand’s signature tonneau-shaped profile, and they measure 31.40mm in diameter by 11.85mm thick, with an overall lug-to-lug profile of 45.23mm. While each one features a different color of TZP (Tetragonal Zirconia Polycrystal) ceramic for its bezel and caseback, all of them include middle cases crafted from 18k white gold that has been given a micro-blasted finish with hand-polished pillars. As for the three colors of TZP ceramic, the RM 07-01 Pastel Pink features blush pink components, while the RM 07-01 Pastel Lavender showcases a lavender pink hue, and the RM 07-01 Pastel Blue has its TZP ceramic bezel and caseback appear in a powder blue color. Sapphire crystals are fitted to both the dial side of the new Richard Mille RM 07-01 Coloured Ceramics watches and their display-style casebacks, while rubberized crowns protrude from the side of the case at the 3 o’clock location. The three-part case is held together by a set of grade 5 titanium spline screws with abrasion-resistant washers made from 316L stainless steel, and the gaskets placed between the various case components help provide the new Richard Mille RM 07-01 Coloured Ceramics models with 50 meters of water resistance to protect against daily contact. Since TZP ceramic consists of over 95% zirconia (ZrO2), it offers many of the benefits of other types of ceramic, such as extreme corrosion resistance and a hardness rating of 1,400 Vickers. At the center of the new Richard Mille RM 07-01 Coloured Ceramics watches are their dials, which feature a partially skeletonized design that is adorned with various decorative elements to give them their Memphis Design appearance. The base layer of the dial is crafted from 5N red gold and given a gray PVD treatment, while the colorful decorative elements are applied to the surface and either adorned with guilloché or set with ceramic, rubber, or diamonds. Each of the three different models features a slightly different style of dial that rearranges the shapes, colors, and textures to create a unique twist on the same Memphis Design aesthetic. Powering the new trio of Richard Mille RM 07-01 Coloured Ceramics models is the brand’s Caliber CRMA2 automatic movement, which is what you will also find inside the previously mentioned RM 07-01 Intergalactic watches from last year. Running at a frequency of 28,800vph (4Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 50 hours, the Richard Mille Cal. CRMA2 features grade 5 titanium plates and bridges, along with the brand’s variable geometry rotor. Mounted on ceramic ball bearings and crafted from 5N red gold, the variable geometry rotor features two heavy metal weight segments along its outer rim that can be adjusted to adapt the bidirectional winding system to the lifestyle of its individual owner. Fitted to the lugs of the new Richard Mille RM 07-01 Coloured Ceramics watches are velcro-style straps, with each one appearing in a different contrasting color to complement the specific hue of the case. The RM 07-01 Pastel Pink has a teal strap, the RM 07-01 Pastel Lavender is fitted with a yellow strap, and the RM 07-01 Pastel Blue has its strap in a pale shade of red. All three of the different straps feature a speckled pattern in a contrasting color on the outermost folding velcro section, while the connection point for the two ends is a “Richard Mille” signed loop that is made from micro-blasted and polished 18k white gold.

MB&F Legacy Machine

MB&F has just unveiled the brand-new Legacy Machine Split Escapement EVO. The Legacy Machine Split Escapement that was first designed and conceived by master watchmaker Stephen McDonnell in 2015 was warmly welcomed by MB&F fans as one of the Legacy Machine collection’s most eye-catching and technically intriguing additions. As he wanted to display both the flying balance wheel and the escapement prominently at the center of the dial, McDonnell devised an ingenious solution – a balance staff.

The MB&F Legacy Machine’s balance staff is the longest one ever made, and traverses the entire movement. It takes its middle name, ‘Split Escapement’, from McDonnell’s witty idea of moving the anchor and escape wheel to the back of the movement. Indeed, McDonnell had split the escapement and left his large balance wheel fleeting alone on the top of the movement.

The movement in question is the manual-winding, 298-component movement invented by McDonnell that stores 72 hours of power reserve in double barrels.What’s ‘EVO’, you might ask? Fans of MB&F might be familiar with the EVO case that has been used in the Legacy Machine Perpetual EVO; in the Legacy Machine Sequential EVO, which is the first-ever chronograph; and also in the UAE Golden Jubilee Legacy Machine Split Escapement EVO, which was limited to 10 pieces. My favourite innovation of this beautiful timepiece is its date-setting push button, which McDonnell engineered as an idiot-proof way for anyone to set the date without any possibility of accidentally damaging the movement.

This latest evolution of the Legacy Machine is similar to the preceding LM Split Escapement, albeit rotated 60 degrees clockwise and relaunched with a pastel blue or black dial. Pastel blue is a dial color that is growing increasingly popular with watch collectors. The curved ergonomic lugs of this new timepiece fit the wrist better than the lugs of its predecessor. It also has a minimally thin bezel, so that we can admire its dial from more angles.

The Legacy Machine Split Escapement EVO is available in two versions. Besides this grade 5 titanium case with a pastel blue baseplate and dark grey dials version, it also comes in a Beverly Hills edition that has a black baseplate and blue dials instead, and is limited to 25 pieces. If you’d like to see the brand-new MB&F LM Split Escapement Evo in action, keep an eye on Revolution’s Instagram profile as we’ll be posting videos today!

As if that wasn’t enough, MB&F will be opening an MB&F Lab in Raffles Hotel in Singapore in mid-September. Themed on a new experiential concept that immerses visitors in the technicality and beauty of MB&F creations, the first-ever MB&F Labs boutiques will open in Raffles Hotel, Singapore and Beverly Hills, California.

Greubel Forsey Double Balancier Convexe Carbon

Stephen Forsey and Robert Greubel originally met at complications specialist Renaud & Papi (now Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi) in the 1990s, and each found in the other a kindred spirit (although you would kind of expect to find lots of kindred spirits at APRP if you’re interested in complications at all). The two founded their own complications house – Complitime – in 2001 and in 2004, launched Greubel Forsey Double Balancier Convexe Carbon. The company has made its mark making extremely ingenious complicated watches – generally, variations on the tourbillon, though not exclusively, and with other complications, as well – which are also hand-finished to an almost unbelievable degree. Their watches have generally not been anything you’d think of taking out for a hike or (God forbid) swimming with, but in recent years, the company has worked on creating watches that still have all the same technical and aesthetic merits you’d expect from Greubel Forsey Double Balancier Convexe Carbon , but with easier-to-wear cases and better water resistance. The Greubel Forsey Balancier S was introduced in August of 2020 and this year, the company is introducing a new version of the Balancier S curved case, fitted with double balance wheels, inclined at 30º. The Double Balancier Convexe is, as is usually the case with Greubel Forsey, a large watch, at 43.50mm x 13.75mm (bezel diameter 46.50mm) but the titanium case, as well as its pronounced curvature, should make it much more wearable than you’d think from the hefty size. It’s also water-resistant to 100 meters which means you could actually dive with it if you wanted to (and I would bet real money that sometime in the next couple of years, someone’s going to). The dial side of the watch is where most of the horological action is, and if you like borderline mad-scientist horological experimentation happily married to top-tier haute horlogerie finishing, you’re going to love the Greubel Forsey Double Balancier Convexe Carbon . The watch is, despite its generous deployment of the ol’ razzle-dazzle, fairly straightforward functionally – there are two hands for the hours and minutes, a subdial for the running seconds display, and a four-minute indicator for the differential that supplies power to the two balances. There’s also a linear power display at two o’clock. The two stacked mainspring barrels, supplying 72 hours of running time, sit under an engraved cover at 11:00, and the differential sits between the two balances. The basic idea behind an inclined balance is the same as the thinking behind the tourbillon – if the balance is not in the horizontal or vertical plane exactly, you tend to get less variation between positions because the balance is never in one extreme position or the other (one of the earliest uses of an inclined balance I’m aware of is by the American watchmaker A. H. Potter, who made a tourbillon with inclined balance in around 1860, astonishingly enough). Greubel Forsey Double Balancier Convexe Carbon has created inclined tourbillons as well, including the Quadruple Tourbillon GMT (which, like Potter’s design, has the balances set at a 25º angle) but has also done interesting work with inclined balances. The ideal angle for canceling out rate variations would probably be 45º, however that would produce a very thick movement. You could get around this to some extent by using a smaller diameter balance but beyond a certain point this adversely affects precision, and so such watches are generally designed around a compromise value – in the case of the Double Balancier Convexe, 30º. The idea behind using two balances is that even if one of the balances is in a completely flat or completely vertical position, the other will not be and the sum of their rates will be more precise than either one taken alone. The differential passes energy to both balances but since the hands of a watch are driven by the going train wheels, it also functions to average the rates of the two balances and produce a single rate which is displayed by the hands. The balances are free-sprung (i.e., no regulator, since it’s brought to time with the gold mean-time screws on the balance rims) with Phillips overcoil balance springs.

Every surface is finished, and very elaborately finished – screws, for instance, have chamfered heads and slots, and are polished on top, on the flanks, on the chamfers, and in the slots (which is a lot of polishing operations for a single component). Generally, Greubel Forsey uses a combination of very traditional finishing techniques and more modern finishes, and the classic gleam of polished steel and brass is complemented in the Double Balancier Convexe with the anthracite color of the titanium mainplate. The Double Balancier Convexe is a limited edition of 66 pieces and price at launch is $328,000. The haute horlogerie brand has chosen its Greubel Forsey Double Balancier Convexe Carbon and Balancier Convexe S² to introduce high-tech carbon to its collection while simultaneously giving them smaller, more wearable cases.
While some watchmakers have used this week’s Geneva Watch Days to unveil brand-new movements, fresh dial executions, or exciting collaborations, Greubel Forsey has taken advantage of the decentralized fair to unveil its first timepieces to feature a carbon fiber case.

Specifically, the high-end independent brand has chosen its Double Greubel Forsey Double Balancier Convexe Carbon and Balancier Convexe S² to debut this high-tech case material, which catches the eye with its horizontal veining and bold presence on the wrist.

What’s more, switching to carbon fiber has allowed the La Chaux de Fonds-based outfit to make a slightly smaller sized case – 42.5mm instead of 43.5mm for the Double Balancier Convexe, and 41.5mm rather than 43.5mm for the Balancier Convexe S².

Richard Mille RM 30-01 Automatic with Declutchable Rotor

When it comes to creating the most technologically involved execution of a fairly simple concept, arguably no brand goes harder than Richard Mille. Regardless of how you may feel about the brand’s ultra-modern aesthetic and sky-high price point, there is a lot of interesting technology behind the timepieces that it produces, and Richard Mille simply does not make boring watches. As its latest new release of 2023, Richard Mille has announced the next chapter in the evolution of the RM 030 that originally made an appearance back in 2011, and the new Richard Mille RM 03-01 Automatic with Declutchable Rotor represents a revamped and more advanced rendition of one of the brand’s signature models.
The new Richard Mille RM 03-01 Automatic with Declutchable Rotor is essentially just a self-winding watch with a date display and power reserve indicator, although this description doesn’t even tell half the story. The two numerals for the date are each displayed by a separate DLC-treated titanium disc, while the self-winding movement features an integrated clutch mechanism that automatically disconnects the rotor from the barrel once the mainspring is fully wound. Additionally, rather than simply having a crown with multiple different positions like watches from virtually all other brands, the RM 03-01 has a function selector switch operated by a pusher that is located on the side of the case at 2 o’clock, which allows users to switch between winding (W), hand-setting (H), and date-adjustment (D) positions for the crown.
Richard Mille’s declutchable rotor concept originally debuted way back in 2011 on the RM 030, although the new Richard Mille RM 03-01 turns things up a notch with the addition of a function selector switch, along with a number of other refinements and updates to both its overall construction and internal movement technologies. On top of that, the new RM 03-01 also offers a completely overhauled display, which features a noticeably more open-worked aesthetic that is based upon angular lines, instead of the curved forms that characterized the dial of the original Richard Mille RM 030.
Rather than featuring a full set of Arabic numeral markers with a date display at 7 o’clock and the rest of its indicators placed around the center of the dial, the new Richard Mille RM 03-01 has a diamond-shaped power reserve indicator sitting to the left of the hands in the center, while its date window has been relocated to 4 o’clock. Sitting just above the date display is an indicator for the function selector switch, while an on/off display for the status of the declutchable rotor appears in the far upper left corner at the 11 o’clock position. As for the actual dial of the RM 03-01, it features a two-layer construction, with the first made from transparent sapphire, while the other is crafted from titanium and has a diamond-shaped design that mirrors the appearance of the plates and bridges of the movement.
The new Richard Mille RM 03-01 Automatic with Declutchable Rotor is offered in two different configurations, with one featuring a case that is crafted entirely from grade 5 titanium, while the other has a middle case made from titanium that is paired with upper and lower sections in 5N red gold. Despite their different materials, both versions of the new Richard Mille RM 03-01 feature tonneau-shaped cases that measure 42mm in diameter by 17.59mm thick, with an overall lug-to-lug profile of 49.94mm. Additionally, sapphire crystals with anti-reflective treatment are fitted to both the dial sides of the watches and their display casebacks, while water resistance for the RM03-01 comes in at a fairly standard 50 meters. Rather than using an intermediary casing ring to hold the movement inside of the watch like a number of previous Richard Mille models, the internal caliber is developed to be integrated into the design of the new RM 03-01, and it sits on rubber chassis mounting components that are attached by four spline screws in grade 5 titanium. Additionally, just like virtually all of the other tonneau-shaped models in Richard Mille’s lineup, the various case components of the RM 03-01 are held together with a set of titanium spline screws that are paired with abrasion-resistant washers made from 316L stainless steel. Powering the new Richard Mille RM 30-01 Automatic with Declutchable Rotor is the brand’s Caliber RMAR2 skeletonized self-winding movement, which runs at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) while offering users a power reserve of approximately 55 hours. Although the biggest mechanical difference between the new Richard Mille RM 30-01 Automatic with Declutchable Rotor and the original RM 030 from 2011 is the addition of the function selector switch, both models are characterized by their signature declutchable self-winding mechanisms and variable geometry rotors. In order to ensure that their movements do not over-wind themselves, nearly all automatic watches feature a sliding flange within their barrels that allows the mainspring spring to slip when the watch is fully wound. As a way to prevent the additional wear that can occur while the mainspring slips within its barrel, the Richard Mille RM 30-01 Automatic with Declutchable Rotor Cal. RMAR2 features a clutch that automatically disconnects the rotor from the winding mechanism once the watch is fully wound. The clutch will then autonomously re-engage the rotor once the power reserve drops below 40 hours so that the movement can maintain an optimum level of tension in the mainspring. As for the variable geometry rotor, the multi-component structure features a five-position adjustable weight system (the pair of wing-shaped things that sit within it), which allows its winding ability to be fine-tuned and optimized for its individual owner’s lifestyle and wearing habits.

King Seiko Returns With A Floral Dial Limited Edition

Earlier this year King Seiko released two non-limited edition and higher-end watches, the SJE089 and SJE091, to start rounding out the relatively newly-revived portion of the Seiko brand. The watches were slightly upsized from previous King Seiko limited edition releases –38.6mm in diameter versus 38.1mm – and slightly thinner too – 10.7mm compared to 11.4mm but otherwise stuck to the heritage and design language of the original 1965 King Seiko icon.

Now King Seiko is back with the SJE095 “chrysanthemum” dial in a limited edition of 600 pieces for €3,500. The chrysanthemum is one of Japan’s national flowers, with great significance in Japanese culture, representing longevity and rejuvenation – an apt pick for a newly rejuvenated brand. The dial design is done with a pattern of finely intersecting lines called kiku tsunagi-mon which is especially associated with edo-kiriko glassware, a form of traditional cut glass considered to be one of the most popular craftworks from Japan. The watch features the same Caliber 6L35 in-house slimline movement often found in Seiko Presage series watches, with 45 hours of power reserve and a date at three o’clock. Also the same is the sharp, angular stainless steel case with high polish (but not Zaratsu) surfaces, 50m of water resistance, and theKing Seiko emblem on the caseback. The watch comes on a seven-link stainless steel bracelet with a grey leather strap is included. If you’re interested in picking one up, you can do so at Seiko boutiques and select retailers in a few months, starting October 2023. While I’ve never gone brand-by-brand through every single SKU released in a year, I have to imagine that Seiko might be one of the most active brands in the market. Across the board, I’m generally a fan of the finishing and design across Seiko and Grand Seiko, but like a lot of enthusiasts was curious to see what would happen when Grand Seiko started to move more upmarket. With the King Seiko line reintroduced in 2021 and its permanent collection in 2022, Seiko covered even more ground, and gave me hope for the kind of value proposition I was looking for. But unfortunately, I’m still waiting to be blown away. The company is obviously taking cues from King Seiko’s sister brands. Here we have what amounts to a fine nature-inspired dial that is otherwise just a variation on the existing King Seiko SJE089 and SJE09 that were announced a few months ago, a move straight out of the Grand Seiko playbook. While the price should theoretically be positioned between the average Seiko and GS, at $3,400 it’s also dangerously close to GS’s line, especially since that’s far more than the entry-level SBGX Grand Seiko quartz line. Time will tell if King Seiko can start to find its footing as its own distinct brand among its more established siblings.

U-Boat Somerso Ceramic

Today, I will attempt to write about a brand that has special meaning to me and hope that I do it justice.

This is one of the first few brands that I was exposed to a long time ago and it kick-started me on my horological journey. My nascent watch fascination began not with the likes of Seiko-es or Rolex-es, but, it was the unique detailing that stood out from a certain timepiece. A behemoth of a watch and an equally commanding crown cap connected to the side of the case with a clasp mechanism was something I has never seen. It stood out to me and demanded that I gave it my every attention.

And for this, I have U-Boat Somerso Ceramic to thank. For its physical arresting pieces that took me off the mainstream route and forced me to explore more uniquely styled watches that stood out for other more interesting reasons. Since then I have always had a predilection towards this brand and watches styled in such a similar fashion. It has inevitably led me down the road of loving bigger and chunkier pieces. In this range of larger and more masculine styled watches, U-Boat has acquired some very notable fans. Stallone has been to known to like his watches larger and has even been spotted with some U-Boat Somerso Ceramic . To some, larger watches make bigger statements, are bolder, allow better legibility and for a mix of more complications or unique designs or themes. U-Boat has done all of the above. U-Boat, over the years has had many interesting styles, designs, concepts and with some pieces that has had some very intricate engravings on the side of cases, show casing some of Italy’s finest monuments such as the Colosseum.For me, U-Boat Somerso Ceramic embodies the best of military and nautical styled pieces with a very distinctive Italian flair. U-Boat has carved out a very singular path in which it has excelled in and has grown much bigger and has been garnering a lot more attention from people and watch collectors a like. While the likes of U-Boat may never be a watch that ‘fits the bill’ for everyone, it still is a very definite statement piece. Personally, as someone who has been following the brand for over ten years, I feel that in the past few years U-Boat is more singularly focused on improving their craft and removing the dross in the sense of making pieces that now seem more refined and embodies the Italian philosophy of Sprezzatura. For that we have Italo Fontana to thank, a designer and the brains behind U-Boat.

Another certain with a U-Boat Somerso Ceramic is having exquisitely built pieces with the highest of craftsmanship. Most of their pieces are assembled by hand, from the best of Italian artisans from the heart of Tuscany and beyond. Really no details are spared, and that is really something I appreciate and love and it’s a very positively met trait of U-Boat. Every aspect of the timepiece from the centre stage being the case and dial, from the caseback, to the strap and down to the buckle, very fine details are placed and attention to ensure each part is finished finely and with perfection. Another distinctive trait of U-Boat pieces is that due to their bigger sizes, they place their crowns and chronographs on the left. This is done so that they do not dig into the wearers’ wrist and would be less prone to getting damaged. Oddly, it seems that this style has also taken off with other watches that come in at a similar or lager size.

Without further ado, I have with me today a very finely crafted Classico Sommerso bronze ceramic in 46MM that I have the pleasure of reviewing today.
The U-Boat Sommerso Bronze watch is an exquisite timepiece that combines the brand’s iconic design with exceptional craftsmanship. Inspired by the world of submarines, this watch delivers a unique blend of rugged durability and sophisticated style.

With its rich history rooted in Italian watchmaking, U-Boat has gained recognition for its distinctive designs and exceptional quality. Not to mention that every U-Boat watch is handcrafted by Italian watchmakers. The Sommerso Bronze stands as a testament to U-Boat’s commitment to excellence and innovation.

The U-Boat Sommerso Bronzo Ceramic BZ Ref. 8646/C is the latest offering with its unique bronze case and its latest ceramic bezel. This U-Boat Sommerso review aims to delve into the features, craftsmanship, and performance of this remarkable watch.

Let’s explore the remarkable characteristics that make the U-Boat Sommerso Bronze a coveted timepiece among watch enthusiasts and connoisseurs.

HYT Hastroid Rainbow

For over a year now, HYT Hastroid Rainbow has been back in action with its creativity and boldness revived. The return of the brand was marked by the Hastroid, a watch with familiar mechanics and, of course, the signature – and industry unique – fluidic indication of the time. Besides the obvious sci-fi inspiration behind the design of the most recent creations of HYT, the use of bright colours is another trait of the brand’s DNA. But today, it goes a few steps further in colouring time and features a rainbow radiating its colours on the Hastroid… But it’s not about setting coloured stones on the case or dial. The new HYT Hastroid Rainbow is a familiar watch when it comes to its specifications. Overall, it comes with all the features of the existing Green Nebula, Supernova Blue or Cosmic Hunter models. So let’s rewind briefly and speak about the watch itself. The Hastroid was a turning point in the brand’s history, marking a new start with its redefined design. The case, still on the large side, was entirely novel and designed like a spaceship. Big, bright and bold, I said in my first article. Angular, layered, and relatively aerial with an openworked and architectural construction, it mixes materials. Measuring 48 mm in diameter and over 17mm in thickness, it has a length of 52mm. And it is surprisingly more comfortable than expected. The case’s multi-layer “sandwich-like” construction also integrates cut-out areas on the sides with grilles. The dial and display have also been redefined with more depth and a complex multi-part structure. Composed of 43 components, the dial has an openworked, textured structure revealing most of the mechanical elements, and both the mechanical section (on top) and the fluidic section (the bellows on the lower part and the capillary tube around the dial) are entirely visible. A black-coated plate frames the movement with a grid pattern, on which bold Arabic numerals in HYT Hastroid Rainbow urse, the main attraction, the retrograde fluidic indication of the hours. Still powered by two bellows, the left-side bellow/piston module pushes the coloured fluid into the capillary tube, and as time passes, it pushes the transparent fluid into the right-side bellow. Powering our HYT Hastroid Green Nebula is the calibre HYT 501-CM, using the same base as the H5, refined for the HYT Hastroid. Made of two separate modules connected by a lever, the upper side is dedicated to timekeeping and is a hand-wound movement running at 4Hz with a power reserve of 72 hours. It is also the driving force for the fluidic indication, giving its power and delivering a constant displacement to act on the motion of the fluids, thanks to an oversized lever and a curved feeler-spindle. This sensor transforms the circular motion of the movement’s wheels into a linear motion that pushes the bellow. Now, what about this new HYT Hastroid Rainbow? Well, it’s all about the use of multiple colours on the dial. The case is made from multi-layer carbon fibre with a profile in matte black DLC-coated titanium. It is worn on a bright, HYT Hastroid Rainbow bold purple rubber strap with black inlay. The rainbow effect is applied to the dial’s grille using tinted Zapon lacquer – a premium single-component lacquer mainly used to provide long-term protection for dials which have undergone a galvanic treatment. Each dial is individually executed by Yan Patriarca, a lacquering expert. Each colour is sprayed by hand, in several layers, and with an imperceptible gradient effect. In addition, the fluid contained in the capillary tube is black, and when it moves around the coloured dial, it gives the impression that it is tinted in the shade assigned to each time slot.