This watch column took a break over Lunar New Year , and I want it known (publicly) that I spent the time off sifting through the hundreds of watches that have come to market since the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève, in January, and before Baselworld later this month (they are the world’s two biggest watch fairs). Privately, the truth is that I spent recent weeks trying to understand why people like the Winter Olympics. Ice dancing is not a sport, surely? It’s all very impressive, but anyone who has seen Blades of Glory won’t be convinced. And curling? Come on!
Back to the watches, and in an Olympian segue that is high on technical difficulty and artistic merit, I start this week with Omega’s latest Games-related timepieces. I suppose if there’s a column theme this week, it is colour – and the Omega Seamaster Olympic Games Collection goes all out with variations corresponding to the Olympic rings in blue, yellow, black, green and red.
Omega is an official Olympic Games partner, so it is no surprise that the Swiss watchmaker is trundling out Games-related timepieces, and this collection is a nice way to inject non-traditional watch colours via the strap and accents on the dial.
The design is partially inspired by stopwatches used in previous Games, including those in Montreal and Innsbruck, but that’s for the serious nerds. Another sporty feature is the pulse reader on the outside ring on the dial. The steel case measures 39.5mm and inside is a Master Chronometer 8800 movement. Priced at HK$44,300, the edition is limited to 2,032 pieces in each colour – a nod to Omega having the rights as the official Games timekeeper until 2032.
Colour is also the stand-out feature on the new Bell & Ross BR03-94 Horolum, which adds a new spin to the iconic square-faced aviation watch. Micro-blasting gives a distinctive sheen to the grey 42mm x 42mm steel case, which is augmented by a grey calfskin strap (as opposed to the brand’s standard rubber strap).
Green-tinted luminova on the dial and hands gives the watch a modern personality and makes it highly readable in low light. Features include a chronograph and a tachymeter scale. Inside sits a perfectly adequate BR-CAL.301 movement and the watch has 100 metres of water resistance. Limited to 500 pieces, the new Horolum is priced at HK$45,500.
Finally, we have a black watch – a colour that was quite rare a few years ago but is now pretty standard. Indeed, the industry is moving towards a full black-on-black trend thanks to pieces from modification brands such as Bamford and Project X, and even Omega.
Personally, I think it is all a bit too much, with such watches being difficult or impossible to read. Black case and black dial are fine, but you need legible markers and hands, and the ones on the new Alpina Startimer Pilot Chronograph Quartz are just dandy.
With a 42mm black PVD steel case, this is a classic aviation watch, and features a chronograph with three sub-dials and a nifty nylon strap (in black, of course). With a quartz movement inside featuring a 25-month battery life, the price is a very tempting HK$7,300.