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The Manual Wind: Ralph Lauren Automotive Chronograph

manual wind ralph lauren automotive chronograph 1
It is a common misconception that the popularity in watches is on the decline.  Smart phones and watches, although far more functional and carried by all, have no shot in replacing the wristwatch.  Timeless design, ease of checking the time, and most of all, status, keep the timepiece firmly in place on the wrist.  With this sustained and growing popularity there is more motivation than ever to break into this market.  Long established fashion brands are taking note.  

1415030589306One example is Ralph Lauren.  The iconic designer with one of the most established brands in American history saw great opportunity as well.  A few years ago he introduced a line of watches inspired by his famed car collection.  His most recent release ahead of SIHH watch show 2015, The Ralph Lauren Automotive Chronograph, shows inspiration from the most famous Ralph-Lauren-Automotive-Chronograph-1member of that collection; the 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic coupe.

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Measuring a robust 45mm in diameter, this stainless steel Bugatti inspired case exhibits swooping lines at the lugs as well as the pushers.  The bezel, secured by six screws, surrounds the multi layered dial meant to give the watch a dash gauge appearance.  The matte black dial is recessed below this burl wood ring to add depth and further pronounce this vintage automobile inspiration.  Under the dial lies the caliber RL751A/1 automatic chronograph movement.  Specially made by Jaeger LeCoultre for Ralph Lauren, this 65 hour power RL-Automotive-Facereserve movement inches Ralph Lauren past the other fashion brand watches.  This very significant movement choice shows how serious Ralph Lauren is about breaking into the watch world.  

With every fashion line trying to cover their loyal followers under their umbrella, the watch game gets more interesting.  The likes of Hermes, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and of course Chanel had entered this race years ago.  Although they do not hold the clout of some of the more purist brands such as Audemars Piguet and aforementioned Jaeger LeCoultre, their clients do show loyalty when they see quality. Ralph Lauren has made bold moves in both design and movement choice to make a concerted effort to join the ranks and it shows with this latest release.  

Priced just below $10,000, I  don’t know if I would wear a fashion brand watch, but with the Jaeger LeCoultre movement, it is not out of the realm of possibility.

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The Manual Wind: The “Affordable” Tag Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 Tourbillon Chronograph
the manual wind affordable tag heuer carrera 02 tourbillon chronograph 16tag02b

The time has finally arrived, and it is being told by the most accurate complication; the tourbillon.  When Jean Claude Biver took over Tag Heuer, it was obvious there were big changes to come.  The first was the announcement of an affordable tourbillon.  This complication, first designed by Breguet in the 1800s, is bult for accuracy.  Counteracting the force of gravity on the movement, the aesthetically pleasing visual of the tourbillon is meant to keep the most accurate time in all eight positions a watch can be in.  This well out of reach complication sat at the top of every brands line with a six figure price tag.  Jean Claude Biver decided he would put the tourbillon within reach, and he has.

The Tag Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 Tourbillon is a 45mm modular case made up of twelve different components.  This modular design is reminiscent of Biver’s last brand resurection; Hublot.  Made of titanium, both brushed and blackened, this is a sport tourbillon.  The movement is an in-house caliber COSC certified chronograph automatic tourbillon with a 65 hour power reserve.  The dial has an industrial look that fits well with this multi finish and component case.  Black crocodile or rubber strap with titanium buckle completes this piece.

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The Manual Wind: Urwerk UR-105 T-Rex Limited Edition
the manual wind urwerk ur 105 t rex limited edition utrex2

Watches are meant to be worn.  Most brands live by that sentiment, but some are like to live outside it.  Boutique brands are typically those that throw all watch logistics out the window.  More than half of the MB&F production line has no shot at fitting under a cuff.  This is a characteristic of their brand.  Urwerk, on the other hand, is a boutique brand that has proven a watch can be both unique and ergonomic.  This pebble shaped timepiece is known for its time display.  For 2016, it will be known for its texture as well.  Introducing the Urwek UR-105 T-Rex.

The sleek pebble shaped case of the T-Rex look almost as if the case curves to rest on the wrist.  A window reveals the Urwerk rotating discs that carousel inside the case to display the time.  Each disk has three hour markings on it making for accurate timekeeping with rotation.  Sixty minuets are marked in a line along the path of these discs to complete this unique display.  What makes the T-Rex even more unique is the texture of the case.  Raised yet soft to the touch, hand crafted scales give this piece its name.  Cast in bronze, this piece takes on a very raw and natural look.  Even the crown and some movement parts have been scaled to complete this amazing look.  Attached with a crocodile strap, this piece looks like it belongs in a cage.  Urwek once again is capable of taking their mainstay design and creating something unique.  Most modern collectors with the means have an Urwerk in their collection but i have a feeling many will look to add this one as well.  Possibly the most badass casual watch out of SIHH 2016 watch show.  Looking head on at this masterpiece, you get the feeling you might get bit.  Nothing to worry about though, as their are only twenty-two of these being made and chances are you will not come across one in the wild.  Price yet to be announced.

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The Manual Wind: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph
the manual wind audemars piguet royal oak offshore diver chronograph ap1

The SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horology) watch show in Geneva is here and so are the watches!  The highly anticipated watch show kicks off the year and gives some of the top watch brands in the world the stage for their new pieces.  After just one day of the show there are plenty of highlights.  However, Audemars Piguet has got the pieces that resemble actual highlighters.

The Audemars Piguet Offshore Diver is a mainstay in the AP family.  42mm in diameter in stainless steel and ceramic, this piece was the simplest in the offshore family.  Audemars Piguet has decided to change that for 2016.  The Diver is now a chronograph and in bright colors.  Added to the time, date, and inner rotating bezel is now ceramic pushers and crown to operate the two register chronograph of the in-house Caliber 3124 movement.  This piece is truly different from the inside out.  Blue, orange, yellow, and lime green are the colors of the boutique only series.  The blue version contrasted with yellow has a matching blue rubber strap and tang buckle.  The orange, yellow, and lime are contrasted with black on the dial but truly standout with their bright matching rubber straps.

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