Photo: The Business Times
When Longines Ambassador of Elegance Kate Winslet visited the brand’s Saint-Imier headquarters in Switzerland, a vintage yellow gold watch from the Flagship collection caught her eye. Launched in 1957, the model – which owes its name to the ship upon which the flag of the fleet’s commander in chief flaps in the wind – has stood the test of time with its chic white dial and refined thin profile. It was enough for the Titanic-actress to launch her own Flagship Heritage by Kate Winslet, a unique, signed collection with just five pieces produced earlier this year.
The 35-mm timepiece houses a self-winding mechanical movement in its round 18k gold case, and has a flagship, its number and “by Kate Winslet” stamped on the caseback to mark the exclusive identity of each watch. No. 1 of 5 is housed in the Longines Museum, while No. 5 of 5 is owned by Winslet herself. The remaining three were auctioned off last month with proceeds going to the Golden Hat Foundation which supports autism awareness. For those who missed out, there is the Winslet-inspired Flagship Heritage 60th Anniversary 1957-2017 collection that goes on public sale later this year. The numbered models beat with a L609 mechanical calibre in their 38.5mm steel (1957 pieces), yellow gold (60 pieces) or rose gold (60 pieces) cases.
In 1957, Omega created three professional timepieces that would go on to become modern classics: the Seamaster 300 which could withstand depths of 660 feet under water, the Railmaster which had anti-magnetic properties, and the Speedmaster which was a chronograph designed for race car drivers and was the first watch ever to be worn on the moon (it was also the first to feature the tachymeter scale on its bezel instead of being printed on the dial). To celebrate the spirit of ’57 and the 60th anniversary of each model, Omega has rebooted the trilogy and produced 1957 pieces of each watch. They can be bought individually or together in a special box set of three (limited to 557) which includes a leather roll, three spare leather straps, three NATO straps and a tool to change them. Each watch has been painstakingly recreated from the original through a unique X-ray scanning technology used by Omega for the first time; and while the timeless designs have been kept, the reboots feature state-of-the-art material and calibres.
LOST AND FOUND
Panerai‘s Mare Nostrum Chronograph is a watch that will leave you doing a double take because it looks nothing like their better known Luminor and Radiomir collection. One of the brand’s rarest models, it was the first chronograph ever produced by Panerai and its origins remain slightly murky. According to respected historians, the first prototypes surfaced in 1943 and the watch was made for deck officers of the Royal Italian Navy. It never went into production but one of the prototypes was discovered and acquired by the Panerai Museum which allowed it to reproduce it accurately and introduce a re-edition in 1993. Based on the latter comes the new Mare Nostrum Acciaio (PAM 716), which stays faithful to the original except it’s now more wearable because of its wrist-friendly 42mm steel case (instead of 52mm). Like the 1993 model, the dial is deep blue and it even uses the same movement from yesteryear: the OP XXXIII calibre, created and personalised by Panerai on the ETA 2801-2 base with a Dubois-Depraz chronograph module. The box of this 1000-pieces special edition contains a little model of the Luigi Durand De La Penne, the destroyer of the Italian Navy named in honour of Admiral Durand De La Penne, who was awarded the Gold Medal for Valour for taking part in the attacks in the port of Alexandria in Egypt in 1941.
Thanks to the Heritage Black Bay Reference 7922R which Tudor released about five years ago, the brand has enjoyed a revival of sorts. The retro-looking diver – reinterpreted from a historic 1954 model – has also swept several awards including the Revival prize at the prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve, the Oscars of watchmaking, in 2013. Since then, there have been various iterations including one in bronze case; and the latest is a two-tone version dubbed Heritage Black Bay S&G (steel and gold). It comes in the same standard 41mm case but with gold bezel, crown, end links and mid-links on the retro 1950s-inspired riveted bracelet; and beats with the caliber MT5612 (same as Tudor’s award-winning Pelagos collection) which makes this the first in the collection to have a date function. If you’ve been sitting on the fence with which Black Bay you should get, this one offers plenty of bang for your buck.
This article was first published at The Business Times, 15 July 2017.