Overall, the Mondaine Helvetica Smart watch falls short of the high bar set by Swiss competitors and Apple alike. In my review, I was surprised by the high-quality materials and finish evident in my steel Apple Watch. The reverse is true with the Mondaine; it’s just “good enough”. Combined with lackluster “smart watch” functionality, I’d call this a “do not buy”.
Some of the most recognizable and sought-after collectible watches weren’t all that expensive when they were new. One example of the low-end grail is the line of 7A28 Seiko chronographs designed by Italian designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro. These odd asymmetric watches were used in the 1986 film, “Aliens”, but were not considered collectibles at the time. Now they are so in demand that Seiko has reissued them as limited edition models in their home-market Spirit line.
Swatch is perhaps the most famous brand of Swiss watch (sorry, Rolex!) but they’re not known for luxury timepieces of high horology. No, Swatch is the brand that saved the Swiss industry, sold millions of watches, became a cultural touchpoint, and enabled the most powerful and profitable watch cartel the world has even known. That’s why this watch is so surprising!
Many novices assume that a movement that “ticks” more than once per second is a trait of high-end watches, but it’s actually nothing special. Nearly all mechanical watches, from Chinese and Japanese value lines to Haute Horology, tick at least 5 times per second! The smooth 8-beat seconds hand now associated with fancy Rolex watches isn’t the pinnacle of technology. Seiko and Zenith popularized 10-beat movements in the late 1960’s, and some exotic pieces tick even faster!
Once people realize I’m a “watch guy”, they tend to ask the same question: “What’s the best watch under $x price?” And most often, that price point is $1,000. There seems to be a psychological barrier to spending more than a grand on a piece of jewelry that has long since had its essential function taken away by electronic gadgets and computers.
Is the Apple Watch a personal communication revolution like the iPhone, a well-executed gadget like the Apple TV, or a total miss? Does it mark the end of the the world as we know it for watches? And what’s it like to use one? I’m a watch guy and a gadget guy, so perhaps my perspective will be of some value.
Here’s a real puzzle: What do you make of a watch with a standard case and the word “Automatic” on the face yet a quartz movement inside? And what if the seller of that watch claimed it was a rare prototype with an unknown movement number yet included no photos of the inside of the watch? You’d be skeptical, right? So was I, but I believe this is the real deal: One of two known Omega prototype watch movements running at an amazing 4.2 MHz.
If you’ve read this blog for long, you know that I love to scour auction listings for under-described watches that are way more special than they appear. But folks like me also often note pieces that are incorrectly described, and one great example just caught my eye: The Omega Seamaster 176.005 Chronograph is often described as the “Jedi”, an incorrect name for this model and an unofficial one regardless. Let’s take a look.
Apple will today detail their Watch, ending years of speculation. But Jony Ive and Marc Newsome are not the first Apple designers to create a watch, and the first one out of the gate was truly revolutionary. Pushed by legendary designer Hartmut Esslinger of FROG Design, the Junghans Mega 1 was the first miniaturized atomic clock receiver and sported a distinctive ceramic case.
Parmigiani Fleurier is not a company that ordinary people recognize, and even many watch enthusiasts are unfamiliar with them. But the company has produced some truly remarkable Haute Horology pieces and often prices them aggressively versus similar brands. This Kalpagraphe chronograph follows that trend, with an in-house 68 jewel (!) movement and eye-catching palladium case.