Just about every complication or feature in wristwatches was born out of a real need. Minute repeaters were useful for telling time in the dark, whereas GMT watches let their wearers easily track time in multiple timezones. Likewise, luminescent material – such as SuperLuminova – was invented to improve night-time legibility of watches. And when it comes to night time legibility, micro gas tubes filled with tritium are unbeatable because they are self-charging (meaning they do not need to be charged by a light source to glow) and can glow on their own for up to two decades or more. This month, we pay a unique visit to the workshops of MB Microtec, the world’s only supplier of micro gas tubes to watch brands, to see how these tiny self-illuminating tubes are made.
Speaking of micro gas tubes, Ball is probably the high-end watch brand most famous for using them. In fact, the use of these tubes has become synonymous with the brand. But micro gas tubes aside, Ball is also well known for making solid and affordable timepieces. And this month we review one of their newest limited edition pieces – the Fireman Night Train SG50, a special watch created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence.
That’s not all; we also review F.P. Journe’s lovely Chronometre Souverain, HYT’s funky and unique H4 Gotham watch, and also pay a visit to the hallowed work halls of one of the oldest and most respected manufactures in the business, Jaeger-LeCoultre.
1. Watchmaker Takes Us Inside The Popular Rolex 3135 Watch Movement
The Caliber 3135 is one of Rolex’s most long-serving movements and was introduced nearly three decades ago in 1988. Apart from the Submariner, it also powered the Sea-Dweller, Yacht-Master, and certain Datejust models. It is Rolex’s most widely used caliber and is renown for its timekeeping and reliability. To get a better idea of what makes it tick, we observe a watchmaker take apart a 16610 Submariner and disassemble its Caliber 3135 movement.
2. F.P. Journe Chronometre Souverain Watch Review
François-Paul Journe is often regarded as one of the top watchmakers of our time and although he has enjoyed much commercial success with his eponymous brand, the fact is that F.P Journe, the brand, produces only about 800 watches a year. This is only a fraction of other high-end brands such as A. Lange & Söhne and Patek Philippe – the former produces around 5000 to 10,000 pieces per year, while the latter, somewhere around 50,000. And if you are looking for an entry-level piece to the world of F.P. Journe, the Chronometre Souverain is a good starting point. Though a simple time-only piece, the 18k gold movement is absolutely exquisite. See the watch in greater detail in our review.
3. Ball Fireman Night Train SG50 Limited Edition Watch Review
In commemoration of Singapore’s 50th year of independence, Ball has released a special limited edition watch based on its very popular Fireman Night Train model called the Fireman Night Train SG50 Limited Edition. There are a few interesting thing about this watch for Ball fans. Firstly, this is the first time Ball has used micro gas tubes arranged to form letters of the alphabet; secondly, this watch also holds the record for most number of micro gas tubes used in a Ball Watch. If these details intrigue you, then hit the link below for an in-depth review of the watch.
4. A Unique Look Into How Glow-In-The-Dark Tritium Gas Tubes Are Made At MB-Microtec
Tritium or micro gas tubes are used by a handful of brands in their watches to improve the night time legibility of their watches. Unlike regular luminescent materials, these tiny gas tubes contain mildly radioactive materials that are self-illuminating. This gives them two crucial advantage: a) they do not need to be “charged” and b) their brightness only diminishes after years. And if you were ever curious about how these micro gas tubes are made and assembled, we have a behind the scenes look at MB Microtec, which claims to be the sole supplier to any and all brands that use micro gas tubes in their watches.
5. HYT H4 Gotham Watch Review
HYT is one of the most exciting brands to pop onto the haute horology scene in recent years and that is mainly because of the brand’s unique selling proposition of using liquid to tell time. The new HYT H4 is essentially a mashup of the brand’s previous watches. It is an H1 with a skeletonized movement inside the case of a HYT Skull. Regardless of the elements that make up the H4, it has a special red-colored liquid and a high-tech 3DTP carbon case and just looks cool, in our books.
6. Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon Watches Hands-On
In the last roundup, I featured a Jacob and Co. watch made mostly out of diamonds and costing an amazing $18 million. This time, I have something relatively more affordable. The Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon starts at “just” over $500,000, but it is no less striking than the $18 million Billionaire watch. This is because it has a case that is mostly sapphire and that allows an unbridled view of its exquisite triple-axis tourbillon movement, which features a spinning diamond ball and a representation of the earth.