Following on from our August Edition, we are continuing our series of watches that have inspired us - and September really brought about some interesting releases, especially in the world of watch micro-brands!
Richard - Helm Vanuatu
September was a good month. After years of waiting, I was finally hands-on with a Helm Vanuatu. We’ll do a full review of this gem soon but if you are a follower of Helm you’ll know that waiting lists are pretty serious for these watches. The Vanuatu we had in for photography was actually the property of a friend of the Magazine and being a real trooper, he even loaned it to us before he’d worn it himself! It's always a fear when there is such a high expectation around a product that it may fail to deliver. Thankfully Helm exceeded expectations to such a degree that I have now joined the waiting list for this elusive brand.
Build quality was superb, particularly when you consider the price. The legendary lume was breathtaking at night and the general reassurance that comes with a fine tool watch was constantly present. I did promise my friend that I would not wear the watch, and the WG creative staff would only use it for images, but I cannot live with the guilt and need to confess. Sorry Don, I actually wore it on a dog walk, so desperate was I to try it. If this selfish act has in any way tarnished that “new watch” feel then I am very happy to take the Vanuatu off you….
Anthony - Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph
The most significant event of last month has been the passing of the Queen, and – perhaps like many people – I was surprised by just how moved and affected I felt by the end of the Elizabethan era.
Sadly, it was only once she was gone that I truly appreciated the extent of the consistency, dependability and decency she represented in a rapidly-shifting world. It’s probably one reason why I like watches too: as a constant in a sea of change.
Now that the period of national mourning is officially over, thoughts inevitably turn to King Charles III and what sort of monarch he will become. It’s far too early to judge, but like most people here, I am a great believer in the fact that you can tell an awful lot about a man from his choice of watch.
Throughout his earliest appearances as King, Charles III has mainly been wearing his Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph. It’s a watch that he’s worn on several momentous occasions before, such as at the wedding of his son Prince Harry, so it’s clearly a timepiece that accompanies him on all the significant chapters of his life.
A similar Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph to that of King Charles III - Image credit Kliton Ceku/Christie’s
Parmigiani has only been around since 1996 and King Charles III seems to have acquired his not long after that: possibly on a skiing trip to Klosters in Austria during the early 2000s. Michel Parmigiani’s reputation as a watchmaker has of course been established for a lot longer, having previously been commissioned to restore Patek Philippe watches for their own collection.
So what does the gorgeously intricate Toric Chronograph tell us about King Charles III? It says that he’s a man who appreciates heritage and quality – but feels absolutely no need to shout about it. It tells us also that he’s not interested in ‘brands’ or ‘labels’, but instead in celebrating excellence that’s not predicated on being led by the herd. It tells us that he’s thoughtful and open-minded, with a firm belief in promoting talent wherever he finds it. And most reassuringly of all, it tells us that he’s a watch man through and through: somebody who does his research and treasures his watches, both for what they are and what they mean to him.
Fabian - Christopher Ward Military Collection Series 2
On the topic of royalty, what really caught my eye this month is part of a collection that has been approved by His Majesty’s Ministry of Defence, aptly named the Military Collection Series 2 by Christopher Ward - one of only 5 global watchmakers to hold this honour.
As the ‘Series 2’ suggests, this collection is an upgrade of its all-chronometer counterpart that aims ‘to make the best even better’ according to Christopher Ward CEO Mike France.
Christopher Ward Military Collection - Image credit Christopher Ward.
Currently, there are five timepieces in the Military Collection. The first three in the range; the vintage-styled C65 Sandhurst, C65 Cranwell and C65 Dartmouth, are all named after the prestigious officer-training academies of the Army, RAF and Navy. And it’s these ‘Series 1’ models that have now been completely renewed – with one new addition – by Christopher Ward’s design and manufacturing teams.
The C65 Sandhurst is based on the classic Smiths W10, a field watch issued to British soldiers in 1969, its understated, ultra-legible design has gained fans worldwide since its release. Its 38mm LightCatcher™ case, which does an amazing job at reflecting light while remaining legible, is based on the original Series 1 model. However, it has been upgraded with arrowed, full-brushed hands, bringing it in line with Christopher Ward’s current design aesthetic. The brand are also working on releasing a bronze version of this watch, perfect for those of us preferring warmer tones to our watch cases.
The second watch in the series is the C65 Cranwell, which has received the most significant redesign of the trio. Modelled on the Jaeger-LeCoultre Mark XI 6B/346, an aviator watch aimed at bomber-navigators using celestial ‘look-up’ navigation, its case has been reduced to 38mm, while the dial has had a comprehensive and classic redesign.
Finally, the C65 Dartmouth, modelled off of the 1957 Omega Seamaster 300 ‘Big Triangle’, has been a favourite with vintage dive-watch lovers - but this second iteration takes it to a new level. Maintaining its 41mm case, it now boasts an incredible fully-lumed dial and lumed sapphire bezel – showcasing the advances Christopher Ward has made on watches like the C60 #tide, and the C65 Aquitaine Collection.
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