Cartier Reflection De Cartier

Cartier strikes with another bangle/cuff watch-hybrid release. The new Reflection de Cartier is closer in style to the more traditional take on high jewelry watch design than its Baignoire bangle cousin. But its essence is aligned with the same overall message: women have a voracious appetite for modern, sculptural and chunky gold jewelry with a time-telling twist.
Available in plain yellow gold, plain rose gold and in three gem-set on white gold options, the quartz powered watch is concealed and set inside the opening of the cuff. The “reflection” is made on the opposite side of the cuff’s opening, onto the polished gold surface, creating a sort of backwards time-telling optical illusion. Clearly Cartier has been leaning into magic tricks these past few years. We’ve seen the Clash [Un]limited, a watch with a bracelet that has moving vertebrae, and the Cousin, a watch that breathes or squishes if you wanna get technical.
There are plenty of gems in the Reflection collection: an all white diamond-set model for the traditionalist; a model with a peacock motif, made up of chrysoprases, obsidian, emeralds, Paraiba tourmalines with iridescent blue-green lacquer – for the bold; and an opal, amethyst, spessartite garnet and tiger’s eye set cuff – for the even bolder.
Despite three of these five watches fitting neatly into the high jewelry watch category, the remaining rose and yellow gold models belong to a more modern and nuanced variety of watch design for women. The Reflection de Cartier is a slightly bolder counterpart to the Baignoire bangle. It’s a heavier and more geometric statement, making it a worthy competitor to the Bulgari Serpenti or a vintage Piaget cuff.
No doubt Cartier is riding high on the success of the Baignoire bangle. Their ability to market watches directly at women is currently unparalleled by any of the big brands. The Reflection definitely has less of a commercial appeal than its bangle predecessor and that’s what I love about it. It’s experimental, it’s a standout piece rather than a blend into your bracelet stack piece. I say it’s just plain glamorous. And who doesn’t want that from La Maison Cartier?

Our Rolex Predictions For Watches & Wonders 2024

Solid Gold Explorer 36 Redux: Tony Traina
You already gave us two-tone, Rolex, so why not go all the way? To be clear, nothing in Rolex’s past suggests it’d ever do this, which is exactly why I want it. At 36mm, the Explorer is my favorite modern sports watch in the Rolex catalog – I’m glad it’s come back to the One True Size for the Explorer, as seen in the 1016 most other references, even as Rolex also added a 40mm Explorer back to the collection.

We’ve had gold Subs and GMTs for years, but never a full gold Explorer. It feels like it’s about time. Danny begged for the same back in 2022, and now I’m adding my name to the chorus. There’s just something so undeniably perfect – unnecessary, ridiculous, ostentatious, and perfect – about a gold sports watch with a black dial and no date at a size that pretty much anyone could wear.
Funky Stone Dial Day-Date Yellow Gold: Erin Wilborn
The use of stone dials in the Rolex catalog has been largely relegated to the bygone era of the 70s (though many were still produced throughout the 80s and 90s), and even at that time, they were moreso available upon request than stocked with dealers. However, at last year’s Watches & Wonder’s lineup, Rolex did release a new Carnelian Dial Day-Date, among others, though this rendition might have played second fiddle to the much more talked about “Emoji” release.

Given the prevailing movement of green dial watch releases, I think it is much more fun and not-so-unreasonable to imagine that there could be a world in which Rolex could put its own signature on this trend by returning to the groovy malachite stone. Of course, the Day-Date would make the perfect canvas for this sort of thing, and, there’s no other way to go than to pair that rich color with a funky yellow gold case and bracelet. I’m manifesting a disco-era Rolex revival ASAP. I don’t think I’m alone in this either.
Titanium Milgauss With Grey Dial: James Stacey
Okay, so while I don’t actually believe that we will see Rolex release this watch any time soon, I do think that a titanium Milgauss makes a lot of sense.

First, the steel version has been discontinued. Second, titanium is having a moment – both broadly in the sports watch segment but also within the Rolex context (see: RLX Yacht-Master and the Deepsea Challenge). Third – and most specific to the Milgauss hypothesis – is that titanium is an excellent metal for use around magnetic fields as it is not magnetic. This is what makes it great for biomedical implants, as titanium has a crystalline structure without unpaired electrons.

Those of you who know your Rolex history will note that the Milgauss was created in the late ’50s as a watch for scientists and others who work in environments with strong magnetic fields. Heck, the name “Milgauss” is a reference to 1000 gauss, which was the level of magnetism that the original model was designed to resist.

With this in mind, wouldn’t an RLX Milgauss be both nicely aligned with the history and impetus of the entire Milgauss concept and incredibly cool? Yes. Fingers crossed, but don’t get your hopes up.

Czapek Brings The First Antarctique in Gold with the Mount Erebus

Back in 2020, Czapek launched its Antarctique, the brand’s first luxury sports watch that simultaneously featured the brand’s first in-house calibre. The design followed the codes of what a luxury sports watch is said to be, with a shaped case, integrated bracelet and a textured dial. But Czapek being Czapek, it didn’t cut any corners. The Antarctique was fresh, original, and beautifully finished. For Watches and Wonders 2024 and following steel or titanium versions, the Antarctique is available for the first time in gold in response to the demand from clients. To match the 40.5mm gold case, Czapek brings back the lamé dial of the original Antarctique Terre Adélie limited edition. And make sure to check the video on top to get a good look at this new, luxurious edition. Whoever is in the market for a luxury sports watch is spoilt for choice… yet some options are a bit more special than others. The segment has exploded in popularity over the past years, with the icons becoming virtually unattainable at some stage, with new players entering the genre and even independent brands stepping up to the plate. Among them is Czapek, which launched the Antarctique in 2020, a sporty-chic time-and-date luxury sports watch powered by the brand’s first in-house movement – the Calibre SXH5. Several iterations of the model have been presented over the past few years, including new movements with a split-second chronograph or a skeleton version. It is now time for Czapek to present a gold edition of this successful Antarctique with the Mount Erebus Deep Blue model. The intriguing Mount Erebus name is once again inspired by the geography of Antarctica. Mount Erebus is the largest volcano on the southernmost continent… and it has the particularity of spewing out tiny particles of pure gold into the air! The 40.5mm gold case of the Antarctique Mount Erebus retains the design of the steel version and it comes either on a matching integrated bracelet (with Czapek exclusive Easy Release system) or a rubber strap fitted with a gold folding buckle. For this gold Antarctique Mount Erebus, Czapek went back to the original Lamé dial, the first decoration introduced as the collection was launched 4 years ago. Made with dial specialist Metalem, it is made using a special comb to create its textured satin finish. The deep blue colour is obtained via CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition). The sword hands and indexes, matching the colour of the case, are fitted with luminescent material. The Antarctique Mount Erebus is powered by the self-winding calibre SXH5. This handsome 30mm movement is the first movement to have been developed and produced in-house by Czapek. It is wound by a platinum micro-rotor. The architecture of the movement is graced with seven openworked bridges, including the transversal bridge holding the variable inertia balance wheel in place. It beats at 28,800 vibrations/hour and boasts a comfortable 60-hour power reserve on one barrel. The Czapek Antarctique Mount Erebus Deep Blue pink gold will be produced in a limited run of 100 pieces per year. There is also a 2N yellow gold limited edition of 50 pieces. The retail price is EUR 55,000 with a gold bracelet and EUR 32,600 with a rubber strap and gold folding buckle. For more details,

The 42mm Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Is Back

Last year was a big year for Blancpain, with several new Fifty Fathoms limited edition releases to celebrate the model’s 70th anniversary. The “Act III” model hit many high notes for Mil-Spec models of the past, but the one thing that caught my eye was the new 42mm “Act I” release in stainless steel. I was hopeful it would be an adjustment for the brand down to more reasonable sizes; not just a flash-in-the-pan but rather a sign of good things to come. Well, those good things are here, with new 42mm by 14.2mm Fifty Fathoms now coming in titanium and 18k rose gold in two different dial colors.
The new ref. 5010 line of Fifty Fathoms can be broken down essentially two ways: blue dials or black, titanium or rose gold. You can get either combination, with matching color straps in sail-canvas, NATO, or (my pick) a tropic textured rubber inspired by the 1953 model. Unfortunately, there’s no gold Fifty Fathoms bracelet, but the titanium comes with the option for a bracelet (for $2,700 more than on the strap).
This is the more modern iteration of the Fifty Fathoms, reminiscent of its bigger, older brother in a 45mm case. You get the applied and lumed Arabic numerals on the sunburst dial, with arrow hour markers and a minute track around the outside. This time, the lume comes with metal surrounds, not just bare lume like the Act I release, bringing it a bit more into the modern design language. The uni-directional 120-click sapphire dive bezel has colors to match the dial. Unlike the 45mm Fifty Fathoms Automatique, the dial is flat, not stepped, simplifying the look quite a bit. There’s also a display caseback to see the caliber 1315 automatic movement, with 120 hours of power reserve thanks to the three series-coupled barrels and magnetic resistance due to the silicon hairspring.
Last year Tony Traina asked for a 40mm Fifty Fathoms and while we’re not quite there yet, these new Fifty Fathoms are great in their own right. It’s also a massive improvement on the past Fifty Fathoms Automatique. Take a look at the photo below and then the following comparing the new 42mm with the (until now) only standard option at 45mm. It’s night and day and the 45mm looks almost comically large.
There are certainly other things I’d change, but I liked these a lot in my short time with them. I might as well call out those issues, just for the sake of clarity. The lug width is a very strange 21.5mm, so good luck finding other NATOs in the drawer to fit your new watch. That’s more apparent on the bracelet, where the taper looks a bit odd. The date window is always going to irk people. I don’t find it necessary but it seems to be a top-down edict in the Swatch Group to put dates on watches when they can, and at 4:30 come hell or high water. Also, the Blancpain on the side of the case really needs to finally make its exit from the Fifty Fathoms. Would any of this kill my excitement for the new watches? No, not really. I’m still a fan and these watches wear super, super comfy on the wrist which is essentially the first criteria I have for a watch. The 45mm Fifty Fathoms basically precluded a large number of potential buyers who couldn’t begin to justify wearing a watch that large. Now, at least one problem is fixed. As for the price, that’s largely up to you. I think the unique design touches of a Blancpain certainly make it an enticing option for an eye-catching take on a classic dive watch, now at a more reasonable and widely-wearable size.

A Few Favorite Watches From Italy’s Parma Antique Fair

Last week, I was supposedly taking a vacation between a few work trips in Europe, and, unable to resist the siren’s call of the Italian watch scene, I popped down from Milan to Parma. Actually, I took the train back and forth twice on different days. Look, it’s very apparent I have a problem “turning off” when it comes to watches, but there’s something so magnetic about being around Italian collectors. But why Parma? Not (just) for the ham. Twice a year, “Mercante in Fiera” (Merchant at the Fair) takes place at a massive, sprawling, convention center outside the city of 200,000 people. I had the wrong image in my head when it comes to “the Parma Fair.” I expected a quaint, slightly dilapidated brick building with small booths and a few retailers. Not so much. Tens of thousands of Italian and international collectors – not just of watches but antiques, furniture, art, and more – gather at the fair for over a week, hoping to buy, sell, or trade their way into a good find. Prices for watches at the fair have become stiff in recent years, but you can still find a few good pieces for sale or (more likely) on the wrists of visitors. I didn’t actually plan to work, I promise. But I brought my camera just in case. In fact, you could say I got cajoled into this photo report by this man below. If he tells me I need to take a picture of a watch, I take a picture of a watch. The process usually involved Goldberger picking up a watch, running his thumb over the crystal to clean it, weighing it in his hand, tilting it to get a quick look to see if it passed muster, and handing it over. After that, I started to get in the rhythm of doing it myself. There were dozens of Daytonas – sometimes four or five Paul Newmans in one case – Day-Dates galore, and all the other usual suspects. Here’s what I found.

The Nodus x Raven Trailtrekker

What do you know? It’s me, James “GMT” Stacey, back with another solid entry into the value category for travel watches formed in a collaboration between two boutique sports watch brands – Nodus Watches of California and Raven Watches of Kansas. The resulting watch combines elements of each brand’s core lineup, taking specific inspiration from the Nodus Contrail and the Raven Trekker. The two formats come together in a hyper-matte travel watch that forms a nod to the American explorers who pushed west while heading towards California. It’s called the Nodus Trailtrekker. Starting with the broad strokes, the Trailtrekker is a 39.5mm steel watch that is 11.8mm thick and 46.6mm lug to lug. With 200 meters of water resistance, drilled lugs, a sapphire crystal, and a solid steel case back, it’s a straightforward offering that clearly takes some inspiration from the Rolex perspective on an adventurous watch that can manage two time zones.
Where we see a departure from the established proportions –and that bezel design – is in the Trailtrekker’s application of a full treatment of a matte grey-tone DLC finish. The treatment protects and colors both the case and the included steel bracelet, while the fixed 24-hour bezel goes a step further with a Cerakote ceramic coating. The coloring is a deep and very flat grey with just a bit of a sandy brown coloring that Nodus calls “clay”, and the treatment gives the watch a unique experience on wrist, one that looks like an exaggerated form of titanium (the watch has essentially no luster at all) and forms a stage for the highly legible dial design.

I have had a good deal of experience with Raven watches in the past, including lots of hands-on time with the brand’s Trekker series of dive-adjacent sports watches. I remain a fan of the brand and think they continue to offer the sort of product that helped to establish the idea of a “microbrand” over the past decade. I even highlighted the brand a few years ago in a consideration of the changing world of the microbrand (perhaps “boutique” brand is indeed a better description).
For Nodus, I have tracked the brand over the past few years. And though I’ve seen quite a few at meets up and Wind Ups in the past, I have had very little regimented experience with the brand’s products. That said, Nodus has earned a following by making fun watches at fair prices, along with collaborations with other enthusiast elements like The Smoking Tire, Random Rob, and Watch Clicker

Much like Raven, if you enjoy boutique watch product, Nodus sits solidly in the $500-$1000 category and offers a wide variety of designs and colorways. I’d say it’s worth having both on your radar, especially as both brands are open to interesting collaborations and continue to focus on value-driven products.
Back to the Trailtrekker, inside this watch, we find the increasingly popular Miyota 9075. It’s a 4 Hz automatic movement that offers local-jumping dual time functionality in which the user is able to jump-set the local (main) hour hand to update the watch to a new time zone without interfering with the accuracy/timekeeping of the watch. This is a movement made by Miyota, which is part of the Citizen group of brands, and we’ve seen it (or versions of it) used on several recent entries into the value-driven GMT market, including the Citizen Series 8 GMT ($1,695), the Bulova Oceanographer GMT (from $1,295), the value-packed Lorier Hydra SIII ($599), and options from additional brands like Vaer, Lip, Boldr, and Traska (to name only a selection).

Nodus goes a step further with the 9075 by regulating the movement in-house to a stated +/- 8 seconds per day. As I have a timing machine at home, I figured I would test that number on the loaner that I received. I measured the watch, fully wound, in six static positions, and this one averaged out at +7 seconds/day. Not bad at all.
With a fixed bezel layout, the Trailtrekker’s obvious inspiration from the Rolex Explorer II (specifically the 16570, to my eyes) is mirrored in its 9075-derived functionality. So you get a layout that is great for tracking two time zones, with a specific function for changing from one time zone to another. If you want more of a breakdown concerning how a rotating bezel augments how one can use a GMT, please see this guide to using a GMT bezel. Seeing as the Trailtrekker’s bezel doesn’t rotate, the functionality could not be more straightforward, and its travel focus is complemented by a date a six (which adjusts in both directions tied to the local hour hand, thanks again to the 9075).

The case design is smooth, with softly faceted lugs, protruding crown guards, and a black knurled crown. The short, drilled lugs meet the bracelet via solid-fitted endlinks that have tool-less quick-release spring bars. The bracelet’s links are thin, with plenty of articulation for comfort and the added plus of single-sided screws (which make the bracelet very easy to size). Tapering from 20mm at the lugs to 16mm at the clasp, the solid steel clasp also includes a push-button closure and a fully integrated tool-free micro-adjust system called NodeX
The system, which is proprietary to Nodus but is available for licensing by other brands, is entirely built into the clasp and offers a simple button that releases a sliding extension that offers 10mm of adjustability. It’s no harder to use than Tudor’s T-Fit system, and I know I’m not alone in my continued appreciation of brands that add this functionality to their bracelets.

As a guy who has largely avoided bracelets for years, the ability to finely adjust the fit makes the whole concept much more comfortable on my wrist. As a quick aside, while boutique brands largely made their market by offering genuine enthusiast products at a price and speed that was commonly not possible for larger brands, the whole scope of these brands has continued pushing evolution within the category. One of the core value statements comes from the consideration of many small elements, which are often ignored by larger brands. This could be as simple as drilled lugs or single-sided screws for the bracelet but has grown to include quick-release bracelets, tool-less micro adjust, and special coatings like Cerakote.
While these design elements are not unheard of by many brands, the Trailtrekker checks the boxes while also still costing less than you’d pay for a bracelet for many luxury steel sports watches. Sure, these elements may not matter or even register on the radar for the average watch buyer. But for the qualified enthusiast – i.e., you, me, and our (mostly online) friends – these small elements can have a big effect as we weigh one watch against another. The details matter, and I love that the microbrand/boutique space continues to offer value without nickel-and-diming us out of the features that make the watches easier to live with. Aside over

On-wrist, the Nodus Trailtrekker lives up to its proportions with a relatively lightweight experience that offers a specific, pseudo-tactical experience that contrasts the matte finish with a legible dial set with Nodus text, the Raven logo, and a see-it-from-space oversized orange-yellow GMT hand that reaches all the way to the edge of the dial with a distinctive shape hallmarked by its chopped tip. With large applied markers and matching brushed-finish hands, the lume on the Trailtrekker uses Super-LumiNova BGW9 that glows a strong blueish hue in low light. The framed date at six takes the place of the marker and uses a black-on-white date wheel for an easy-reading effect.

Sized for my 7-inch wrist, the Trailtrekker weighs 140 grams and is quite comfortable, especially thanks to the NodeX micro-adjust system. The flat links and short lugs ensure that the watch maintains an even balance. The contrast between the 12-hour and 24-hour handset aids in further simplicity when it comes to reading either of the displayed time zones. Included with the watch is a second strap option, an olive green NATO-style strap made from a ballistic fabric. I’ve been up and down most of the NATO-like options on the market and haven’t come across something all that similar. It’s soft and pliable while feeling nicely made, casual, and quite comfortable. A nice addition to a complete bit of kit from Nodus and Raven.

Ultimately, and not unlike my experience with the Lorier mentioned above, I have very few complaints when it comes to the Trailtrekker. Yes, I would have personally opted for a less Rolex-inspired bezel design, but I also think the watch eschews that connection with its dial design and the fully grey coloring, which also helps to build a bit of distance from another similar watch – the Tudor Black Bay Pro (which is also a watch inspired by the Explorer II). That said, with a list price of $875, it is really the end of the world if the Trailtrekker bears some bezel-related resemblance to a Rolex? Or a Tudor meant to invoke the same (or at least similar) Rolex? As always, it’s up to you to vote with your wallet, but despite being an owner of a 16570 Explorer II, the similar bezel didn’t manage to bother me all that much, especially in person

Also, let’s not forget that the Nodus offers double the water resistance of the Rolex and matches that of the Tudor while being nearly 3mm thinner – for $875. And that’s not a short-term preorder price, as the Trailtrekker is not a limited edition. It launched today and goes on sale via Nodus on March 15th at 9 AM PST. As is common for boutique watches these days, production is planned in batches, and that’s largely an acceptable way of doing such things as long as the communication is clear with prospective buyers. As a modern interpretation of the boutique watch scene spurred onward by the availability of a novel movement, the Trailtrekker is an effective platform for the talents and perspectives of the teams at Nodus and Raven

As literal enthusiast product – the watch equivalent of preaching to a very specific choir – the Trailtrekker appeals to the type that likes sports watches with good specs, meaningful details, travel-ready functionality, and a price point that hinges on solid value for the asking price. Is it for everyone? No, but that’s the fun of the enthusiast’s choice. In this case, I’m certainly among the choir, and I’m sure many of you are as well.

A Cadre Of Swiss Industry Veterans For A New Independent

The watch world is small enough – and the concept of a “secret” is often so loosely followed… that you probably already know some of this story. But as of today – March 11th – we finally get to see the first watch from a new United States-based independent brand called Fleming, the “Series 1 Launch Edition.” The time-only dress watch, made with Swiss partners, is the first in a line of three watches already in various stages of planning from the brand. And while you might not know the name “Fleming,” you may know some of the people behind this new brand. The Fleming Series 1 comes from the mind of young American founder Thomas Fleming, a collector who began dreaming of founding his own brand during the pandemic. To make that dream a reality, Fleming enlisted the help of some of the greats of the Swiss watch industry. He also connected with James Kong, better known by his Instagram handle @waitlisted, who left an 11-year career as a corporate attorney in New York to join Fleming as its COO and art director at the start of 2023. “It’s a project that comes down to passion,” Fleming says. “There are very few brands in the last 50 years that have started and survived more than a few years at any real big scale, so to take something on like this, you have to have a passion for it. And when it came down to it, I thought that because of my passion for watches, it’d be fun to make my own watch. But I also wanted to make sure I thought I had unique concepts for watches and an approach to watchmaking and creating a brand that would be different from anything else out there.”

Full disclosure: Kong has worked for Hodinkee as a freelance photographer and is a friend who I met at several New York watch events long before I joined Hodinkee. I connected with Fleming similarly over Instagram, and we started chatting a few years ago. But since day one, I’ve told both that any possible coverage of this launch would be solely predicated on them making a product worth talking about. I certainly think they’ve delivered. The Fleming Series 1 Launch Edition is what I’d consider a perfectly sized modern dress watch. The watch measures 38.5mm wide by 9mm thick (one millimeter of that coming from the dome crystal) with 46.5mm lug-to-lug length and cases made in three materials. Thomas Fleming dialed in the proportions by 3D printing “hundreds of cases” and wore them around to get the dimensions right. The midcase has three parts: brushed top and bottom surfaces, a polished case band, and a skeletonized opening in a horn-shaped lug. The watches will come in tantalum (25 pieces), rose gold (seven numbered pieces), and platinum (nine numbered pieces), with pricing ranging from CHF 45,500 to CHF 51,500. Inside the case is the Caliber FM-01, developed by renowned independent watchmaker Jean-François Mojon and his team at Chronode. The movement features traditional hand-finishing and semi-skeletonized bridges and barrels, allowing you to see how much wind has been given to the two barrels that impart a seven-day power reserve (there’s also a power reserve indicator on the back side of the movement)

The inclusion of Mojon is a real boon for the project – his work is (somewhat quietly, compared to his impact) legendary. From the movements for the MB&F LM01 and MB&F LM02 with Kari Voutilainen to the Harry Winston Opus X, Hermès’ L’Heure de la Lune, Czapek’s Quai des Bergues – the list goes on and on. A similar benefit to the project is the hand-decorated dials made at Comblémine, owned by master watchmaker Kari Voutilainen. The skills of the team there are apparent. The rose gold watch (made in seven numbered pieces) has a mix of hand-hammering on the inner dial and running seconds subdial and a hand-guillochéd outer ring. The platinum model’s dial is solely done in hand-turned guilloché. Finally, the tantalum model will have a dial with a mix of frosted platinum and dark blue aventurine. In addition to those suppliers, the brand gets additional parts from TMH SA in La Chaux-de-Fonds and works with Neodesis in Le Locle on the design. Efetor in Bassecourt, Switzerland, tackled the cases, including those in tantalum. Because of the skeletonized lugs, Fleming told me that no other casemaker thought a tantalum case would be possible.

Finally, and as a comforting bonus from a new brand, Fleming partnered with an insurance provider for one year of complimentary coverage activated at the time of sale with no enrollment or approval needed by the buyer. If the watch sounds more familiar than something made by people you follow on Instagram, there’s a reason. Fleming came out of nowhere last year when three-time Grand Slam finalist – and avid watch enthusiast – Casper Ruud basically “hard launched” the brand at Roland Garros in June 2023. It was a bold move, both for Fleming and Ruud. For Fleming, it was a gamble to speak (even in broad terms) about a brand that didn’t even technically exist and to do so before any guarantees the watch wouldn’t get stuck in the mire of production and parts delays that often hit even major brands – issues that did push back the brand’s official launch by months. The announcement elicited press coverage in the tennis world and a massive response on Instagram, as Rudd shared a post with Fleming with nearly 28,000 likes. It was likely a shock for people following tennis (and Ruud). When Fleming began their collaboration with Ruud in 2023, he was the number two-ranked men’s tennis player in the world, fresh off a season where he made the Grand Slam finals and was the ATP Finals’ runner-up. Undoubtedly, this drew the attention of watch brands who would have happily sponsored him for a chance to show up on his wrist, which would have arguably been the smart choice for Ruud. Instead, Ruud decided to join Fleming before a complete prototype of a single watch even existed and he took a stake in the brand

“We had nothing,” Fleming told me about when he approached Ruud. “All I had were really crude renderings I made myself. But I had to try. One of the first times I remember seeing a watch and paying attention was when I was a kid. I was a huge Rafa [Rafael Nadal] fan, and I saw his Richard Mille and thought it was crazy. The price, sure, but the idea of making a lightweight and advanced watch but with generally already existing technology. As a big tennis and golf fan, I thought, that’s something that I’d like to do too and I started thinking about people I’d love to have as a partner in a dream situation.”

“I tracked both sports and when someone came up that might be a good fit, I took note,” he continued. “You look at what Rolex has done in terms of partnerships, and it’s great. They align themselves with people who lead to a lot of stories behind their watches. I immediately saw Casper as the perfect partner, and since I’m half Norwegian, I really wanted to work with him. But then he started winning a lot, and I figured he’d eventually find a partner, so it was now or never. I sent an email to a contact page on his website so that I couldn’t say I didn’t try. Eventually I heard back from his manager, spoke with him and his family, learned that he’s a watch lover, and that’s how it all started.”

Fleming is also developing, for Ruud, a watch called the “Series 1 Ghost,” an ultra-lightweight version of the Series 1, with some “aesthetic twists” that will keep the general elegance of the Series 1 while being unobtrusive and wearable on the court. That watch will serve as a basic sketch of what the brand hopes to create with the Series 3, a highly shock-resistant and lightweight technical model. It’s a move that makes sense as we’ve seen Rafael Nadal sport a Richard Mille for some time, and recently, De Bethune has gotten into the tennis arena by sponsoring Tommy Paul and Jessica Pegula. In the meantime, work on the Series 2 is well underway. While the Series 1 was always planned as a classic dress watch, the Series 2 will be an integrated-bracelet sports watch from Fleming, designed in collaboration with Emmanuel Gueit. For those who can’t place the name, Gueit was the genius behind the (at the time controversial) Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore design, so it seems the plans are in good hands. As for the Series 1 Launch Edition, the prices are as follows: CHF 45,500 for the tantalum model; CHF 48,500 for the rose gold; and CHF 51,500 for the platinum. The brand anticipates producing around five to 10 pieces per month, with the first deliveries planned for April. At this time, all sales are being done direct, with buyers given 14 days to secure their piece with a 25% deposit and the remaining balance due pre-delivery

If I’m being critical, entering the market at this price point could be challenging. Price is an interesting topic for independents; many upstart independents make very little (if any) profit as they try to get started and entice customers, then raise prices later. Another factor is that, over the last few years, suppliers have seen a massive uptick in demand, which has meant rising prices and, therefore, rising costs for brands that aren’t always passed along to the customers. You could argue that Simon Brette’s Chronomètre Artisans set the bar for independents in this price range last year, providing more value in design and finishing than you often see around $50,000. Fleming is certainly no stranger to that watch – Kong himself was one of the people to support Brette early on by committing to a souscription piece. But Brette’s wait list has stretched to the unobtainable lengths we see with watchmakers like Rexhep Rexhepi, Roger Smith, or Kari Voutilainen. His prices have also nearly doubled for his precious metal watches. Fleming has said that while they’ve sunk a lot of money into design and R&D on things like their cases, this is the price you can expect from them long term – no “surprise” increases will come if the watch is a success.

Sure, $50,000 is a lot of money no matter which way you slice it, but by choosing to focus their first watch around the FM-01 movement, plus the high-end finishing and dial work of Comblémine, the brand brings something different to the table instead of going directly head-to-head with the options already on the market. The choice to use so many notable names in the industry should do a lot to comfort buyers on the fence as well.

After hearing about the project for more than two years, I’ve been very anxious to see the final product in person. Despite a level of anticipation that can often lead to disappointment, the watch exceeded my expectations. From the front, the materials and textures on the dial, mixed with a more modern case shape, provide a combination that you don’t really see on other independents. Of the two versions I saw (the tantalum was unfortunately tied up in Switzerland), the rose gold model is far and away my favorite; the dial matched the case wonderfully. In some ways, it’s classic yet eye-catching; in other ways, it’s modern yet not over-the-top. The watch reminds me a little bit of Kari Voutilainen’s 28Sport (not surprising, given where the dials are made) but dressed up a bit with the high-polish applied indices and lack of lume and with a more refined case shape. The skeletonized spider lugs not only are a nice design element but elegantly integrate into the midcase. With many independents, you’ll see movement designs done in ways that allow certain finishing styles to reign supreme. Some brands skeletonize their movements to the extreme to show off anglage as an added value to outsourced movements. Other brands will design their movements in-house and have nice full surfaces for Côtes de Genève with deep angles on the side (I’m thinking of the Chronomètre Contemporain here). With Fleming’s Series 1, you can immediately see that the double barrel design limits their ability to take either path. While the FM-01 movement doesn’t have the deepest anglage, it strikes a nice balance of hand finishing with technical watchmaking with an aesthetically interesting and relatively modern design. Finally, for some inexplicable reason, the Series 1 is one of the most comfortable-wearing watches I can remember recently. Maybe it’s the way the slightly longer lug length balances out the 38.5mm case. My only hope is that the Series 1 may eventually be made in a more affordable case material (like stainless steel or, in the case of the forthcoming Ghost, I’d guess we’d see titanium), which could be the key to Fleming unlocking a wider audience (like myself)

In that vein, Fleming shared a few other future projects they have planned at varying price points, things that – if they come to fruition – should result in a well-rounded brand with offerings for a large number of buyers. But until then, I can’t fault Fleming for taking the path they’ve done from the beginning; if you’re going to make your dream watch, dream big.

Tambour Slim Vivienne Jumping Hours Sakura And Astronaut

Finally, Louis Vuitton released a pair of new Tambour Jumping Hours watches: Sakura and Astronaut. In a bit of myth-making, Louis Vuitton says that Vivienne, a character created by the brand in 2017, is now its “mascot.” So for this pair of new Tambour jumping hours pieces, it’s put the mascot in two playful motifs. The first, “Sakura,” takes inspiration from the Japanese cherry blossoms, infusing the dial with flowers, monograms, and a pink mother-of-pearl dial. The second, “Astronaut,” sends little Viv to space, a blue MoP aventurine dial with some planets, and diamonds dutifully in orbit
In both, Vivienne sits inside a diamond-set white gold case measuring 38mm. It’s powered by the caliber LV 180, an automatic double aperture jumping hour developed and assembled by LFdT. The pair of jumping hours watches combines LV’s expertise in crafts and high watchmaking to create something that’s impressively LV.
The Tambour Slim Vivienne Jumping Hours Sakura and Astronaut measures 38 x 12.2mm. The white gold case is diamond set, and in total but watches have more than 3.8 carats of brilliant cut diamonds and another rose cut diamond

Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding 43mm With Rubber Bezel, Ref. 15605SK

I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Royal Oak Offshore, probably because I didn’t come up in the era where they were “hot.” The Offshore Diver in “khaki” was one of the few exceptions. Funny enough, they brought this new 43mm Offshore out on a tray to tease me, and maybe that did a little extra to convince me, but this new Offshore with a rubber bezel is kind of cool. The 43mm by 14.4mm case is a bit big, and since it’s not a diver, the watch only has 100m of water resistance. But making it a non-diver, non-chronograph ROO makes it kind of uncommon. The smoked blue dial has the new generation Méga Tapisserie pattern, rhodium-toned gold applied hour-markers, Royal Oak hands with luminescent material, and a blue inner bezel (which does not rotate since, again, it’s not the diver). The exterior rubber blue bezel is reminiscent of the Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad ref. 25940 launched in 2002, the first watch to use rubber anywhere but the bracelet, and it’s fun to see it come back
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding 43mm with Rubber Bezel, Ref. 15605SK; 43mm diameter by 14.4mm thick stainless steel case, with 100m water resistance. Smoked blue dial with new generation Méga Tapisserie pattern, rhodium-toned gold applied hour-markers, and Royal Oak hands with luminescent material, blue inner bezel. Hours, minutes, center seconds, date. Self-winding Calibre 4302 running at 4Hz and 70 hours of power reserve. Interchangeable blue rubber strap and stainless steel AP pin buckle. Additional interchangeable black rubber strap

A Rare Vintage Heuer Carrera With Racing Provenance

The link between Heuer and racing is about as strong as ordering a whiskey neat.

I grew up in Indianapolis going to the Indy 500, where a TAG Heuer logo atop the Speedway’s Pagoda casts a shadow over the track. But there’s a rare vintage Carrera coming to auction that reiterates the connection more than any childhood nostalgia: a rare Heuer Carrera 3647 with a Sunray DX logo that tells another chapter of this connection is part of Sotheby’s Fine Watches sale this month.

The Carrera comes from the original owner, Gary Goss. Gary joined the Sunray DX racing team in 1967, just as the team hit its stride thanks to Chevrolet dealer and car tuner Don Yenko, who was known for making Chevys go faster. Just 21, Gary became the racing team’s hauler and a pilot, getting the Sunray DX team and its cars wherever they needed to go across the country.
At the end of the ’67 racing season, the team manager gave Gary and a few other team members a Heuer Carrera with the red, white, and blue Sunray DX logo printed at 6 o’clock. According to Jeff Stein of On The Dash, it came with the words, “You earned it.”

“Probably only 12 of these watches were made, and Goss was standing there when they were handing them out to the other team members too,” Jeff Stein of On The Dash told me. Stein published the full story of the Corvette, Sunray DX, and the Carrera on his site – I recommend giving it a read
Stein said that this Sunray DX Carrera really represents an important time for Chevy, when “Sunray DX and Yenko finally succeeded in building the ultimate performance Corvette that could finally take on the Shelby Cobra.”

By the mid-1960s, oil company Sunray DX sponsored a number of regional races and teams. But in 1967 it went all in, funding a full-time racing program. Its first car purchase? A Corvette from Yenko Chevrolet, and Don Yenko became the team’s lead driver. And not just any Corvette: the first one with a super-charged L-88 engine.

While Chevy introduced the Corvette in 1953, it fell behind Ford in performance in 1962, when Carroll Shelby created the Cobra, putting a Ford V8 engine in a sports car.
By 1967, Chevrolet finally had its response: the L-88 Corvette, a thinly veiled race car designed to go fast. Don Yenko secured the first production model just weeks before the 12 Hours of Sebring, one leg of the “triple crown” of endurance racing, along with Le Mans and Daytona. Yenko would go on to win his class at Sebring, which would become the beginning of a hugely successful racing run for the Sunray DX team.

The peak came at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1968, when Yenko, along with the other two L-88 Sunray DX Corvettes pulled even to take a steep bank side-by-side.
As for Gary Goss, after his short stint as a pilot and hauler with Sunray DX, he moved to Florida where he had a long career in law enforcement with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. In addition to being a police officer, he logged more than 8,000 hours as a pilot. Most of the time, the Sunray DX Carrera he received in the summer of 1967 was on his wrist. As you can see, it’s on a Seiko bracelet, which I absolutely love

As we covered in our Carrera Reference Points, there are a number of different racing- and car-related logos that can be found on Carreras over the years.

“To me, the great thing about the [Sunray DX Carrera] is that it’s connected to an important car – a fantastic looking logo and car – and it’s straight from the original owner,” Stein said. He said it ranks right near the top in terms of logo-dial Carreras. “I’d rather have a racing watch like this than a dealer watch,” he added.

“The movie was Ford vs. Ferrari, but growing up in the U.S. in the ‘60s, my friends didn’t pay much attention to Ferrari,” Stein said. “If you were turning 16, you were either a Ford or a Chevy guy.”

And this Sunray DX Carrera tells the story of the L-88 Corvette, the watch that finally let Chevy take on, and beat, Ford and Carroll Shelby.