Watches of the Week: 04/07/2022 - 10/07/2022
After taking a brief but warranted break from what felt like me just going through the routine motions, I am back and feeling refreshed and reinvigorated, ready to pick up on where I left off. In the past my Watches of the Week segment took a more objective, factual approach where the schematic direction was more along the lines of impartiality, rather than, dare I say it, originality. I felt that the information I was giving was just that, informative and true-to-life, details of which you can easily gather for yourself by simply reading the manufacturer's take on their newest watch release. This time I'll be taking a more personal approach, giving my own unbiased and wholly genuine opinion on the new watch releases, whether it be positive, negative or a bit of both!
So here I am, recommencing my retrospective dissection of the past week's new watch releases in the concise yet subjectively detailed and subsequently borderline polarising Watches of the Week editorial.
Side note: I would love to hear (or perhaps read is more appropriate here) your feedback on my new take on the Watches of the Week. All criticisms will be taken on constructively. :)
HYT Moon Runner White Neon
The exploration of HYT's resurgence from the proverbial ashes, headed up by the incredibly bold Davide Cerrato, continues with the maison's latest and greatest, the Moon Runner White Neon. Made in celebration of its 10th anniversary, the HYT Moon Runner White Neon is a scintillating timepiece that heralds in a new frontier for the watchmaker. The HYT Moon Runner White Neon combines the most contemporary version of Super-Luminova® (made by RC Tritec, a leading Swiss laboratory in Teufen), along with a new hyper luminescent hybrid ceramic and a new luminescent material called Tec Light®.
In addition to these super modern luminescent additions, the HYT Moon Runner White Neon continues to be categorised by its fluidique time display, as noted by the borosilicate capillary tube filled with black liquid. Surrounding the 516-part 601-MO sandblasted and satin polished calibre is a hydro carbon and Tec Light® case made up of 64 parts, with a black titanium crown and a domed sapphire crystal continuing to enhance the theatrical aspects of the HYT Moon Runner White Neon.
The HYT Moon Runner White Neon is available in a limited run of only 10 pieces and is priced at 130,000.
Verdict: A stellar winner from a watchmaker that we almost lost but thankfully didn't.
Grönefeld 1941 Grönograaf
Grönefeld has long been one of my favourite watchmakers, independent or not. The 1941 Remontoire is one of my all-time favourite watches and makes up one of the positions in my top five watches I would most certainly want to own. So, when I heard Grönefeld was producing a new watch, my attention was obviously spiked. And for good reason. Introducing the Grönefeld brothers' very first chronograph, the 1941 Grönograaf. Spectacular in its design, brilliant in its execution and sublime in its entirety, the Grönefeld 1941 Grönograaf is an exercise in flexing the independent maison's horological might, no pun intended.
The Grönefeld 1941 Grönograaf features the new calibre G-04, a column-wheel chronograph mechanism with lateral coupling and a 'soft reset' mechanism. It has a centrifugal governor that slows down the reset function, essentially giving it a softer reset (much like the same that you would find on a minute repeater). Technically brilliant, the Grönefeld 1941 Grönograaf's mechanical prowess is matched only by its sublime aesthetics, The very Grönfeld-like dial features an abundance of finishings and details, very much in-line with the maison's other models, like the 1941 Remontoire, the One Hertz and the Parallax Tourbillon. The distinct styling is exact, meticulous yet not overly done. Very Dutch like. There is little to nit-pick here, with everything sitting and looking exactly as you would like it. If there was one independently made chronograph to own, this would be it.
The Grönefeld 1941 Grönograaf is available in tantalum (25 pieces, €165,000) and stainless steel (188 pieces, €155,000). At the time of writing the tantalum model was all sold out.
Verdict: Watch of the year. So far.
Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture
Not to regurgitate what the hoards have been saying, but the new Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture is out of this world. Everything, and I mean everything, is on show. What we have with the new Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture is a distinctive case design made up of titanium synthetic sapphire crystal sculpted in a convex shape. The end result is an almost uninterrupted three-dimensional view of the movement in its entirety. That means you can see the polished titanium bridges, the matte finish on the mainplate, the 25° inclined tourbillon that rotates every 24-seconds, the hand-sculpted barrel bridges, the polished spherical surfaces, the polished beveling and the countersinks. It also means you can see the engraving, the lacquering and the circular-graining.
Chronometric power is what I think of when I look at the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture. But coupled with a certain degree of functionality. I mean, for a watch that measures 47.05mm (or 45mm of you only measure the width of bezel, mamely due to the inversion of the case), and which sits at a height of 16.80mm, it does look remarkably wearable as per the digital assets. This could be a play on angles, but it doesn't look any less wearable than a Richard Mille (aside from the RM-UP 01 Ferrari, duh).
The Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture is priced at $500,000USD, with 11 pieces being produced in 2022, with 18 pieces being produced per year for the next 3 years, to be capped by 2025 with a total of 65 pieces being produced.
Verdict: The usual reminder that Greubel Forsey is in a league of its own.
Franck Muller Curvex™️ CX Grand Central Tourbillon
Franck Muller continues to produce some magnificent haute horlogerie examples. I've long been a fan of Franck Muller, the "original tonneau casemakers", with the Curvex™️ CX Grand Central Tourbillon being the latest example of the maison's exemplary and emphatic approach to its watchmaking. This is the first time a tourbillon sits in the middle of a tonneau shaped watch, another example of Franck Muller's pioneering approach to its rather bubble-like horological works.
The obvious complexity here is shifting that tourbillon from the bottom of the dial to the middle, a problem made even more difficult thanks to the shape of the movement having to fit in the tonneau case. But the end result is one that is pleasing to the eye. I do feel that the tourbillon could be a few millimeters large in diameter as it looks slightly undersized in comparison to those enlarged hour numerals. But aside from that it's a beautiful timepiece that effortlessly combines classicism with unique ingenuity.
Unfortunately I don't have any pricing indicators for the Franck Muller Curvex™️ CX Grand Central Tourbillon yet. I will update this once I do.
Verdict: Size of the tourbillon is lack-lustre and a bit diminutive where it should have been the uncontested focal point, but otherwise wholly impressive.
Zenith DEFY Extreme E "Island X Prix" Edition
New from Zenith is the DEFY Extreme E "Island X Prix" Edition. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I'm less interested in the collaborative partnership with the new DEFY Extreme piece and more interested in the fact that Zenith is absolutely knocking it out of the ballpark with these new carbon DEFY Extreme models. I love the Defy Extreme "E Desert X Prix", and I love the original DEFY Extreme Carbon, so I guess it's no surprise that I love this new Zenith DEFY Extreme E "Island X Prix" Edition.
While I don't care much for its collaborative purpose, I guess it won't hurt to touch on what it was made. It was "inspired" by the sustainable electric car racing league Extreme E, a rally car race held in Sardinia, Italy. Ok, touched on. Now, back to the watch. The Zenith DEFY Extreme E "Island X Prix" Edition features the El Primero 21 calibre, which is a 1/100th of a second high-frequency chronograph calibre, encased in carbon and spruced up with pops of orange complimented by an orange Velcro strap (which is actually made from recycled tires!). Just so freakin' good!
The Zenith DEFY Extreme E "Island X Prix" Edition is limited to 20 pieces and is priced at €26,500.
Verdict: Zero qualms, would buy it if I could.
Richard Mille RM UP-01 Ferrari
Last but most certainly not least is the paper-thin Richard Mille RM UP-01 Ferrari. This caused quite the stir when it was released, and at 1.75mm thick the Richard Mille RM UP-01 Ferrari is officially the world's thinnest mechanical watch. This coveted title has long been contested by Piaget and Bulgari, but out of the woodwork Richard Mille took the mantle in one fell swoop.
The way Richard Mille did this was by using the caseback as the baseplate and assembling the tiny 1.18mm manually wound movement (developed with Renaud & Papi) inside the case. As pioneering and innovative as it is, the Richard Mille RM UP-01 Ferrari certainly did not appease everyone's tastes. I'm not particularly fond of how it looks nor that the calibre is not a manufacture movement, but I am super impressed at the pioneering spirit Richard Mille employed with the design, engineering and development of the RM UP-01 Ferrari.
The Richard Mille RM UP-01 Ferrari is limited to 150 pieces and is priced at 1,700,000CHF.
Verdict: Thin is in, but where do we go from here?