July 2, 2018
by Kenny Yeo
This month’s round-up features an eclectic mix of watches from well-established brands as well as independent watchmakers. In regards to the big brands, we have a hands-on with the Omega Speedmaster Dark Side Of The Moon Apollo 8 watch, take an in-depth look at the history of the popular Planet Ocean, and have a long-term review of the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001. As for the independents, we have a hands-on with the J.N. Shapiro Infinity watch, which features a dial hand-made in the USA.
From around the web, we have a couple of interesting interviews beginning with Julie Kraulis, a woman who has made a name for herself by drawing extremely detailed sketches of watches. We also have an interview with Philippe Dufour, who talks about the difficulties of finding a successor, and Jean-Claude Biver, who discusses his productivity habits and his sleep schedule.
The Omega Planet Ocean might seem like it’s been around for a while, but it’s actually more of a youngling. The Planet Ocean was only introduced in 2005, and its spiritual predecessor, the Seamaster Professional, only came onto the scene in 1993. To give some perspective, the Rolex Submariner, the watch that the Planet Ocean is perhaps most often compared to, has been around in some form since the early ’50s. As a result, the Planet Ocean is not tied to tradition like the Submariner is, which is why it is among one of the most advanced and high-tech dive watches today, featuring modern materials like ceramic, liquid metal, and silicon. This is the story of the Omega Planet Ocean.
Los Angeles is probably the last place that springs to mind when you think of independent watchmaking, but it is exactly where Josh Shapiro’s little workshop is located. Inspired by the work of George Daniels and his famous book Watchmaking, Shapiro decided that he would attempt to make his own watch. To be clear, the case and movement are both sourced from Germany but the exquisite guilloche dial is made entirely by Josh Shapiro using rose engines in Los Angeles. Similarities with George Daniels’ watches are immediately apparent, and the level of craftsmanship on display is impressive. Hit the link below for a closer look.
Victorinox may be famous for its Swiss Army knives, but in 2014, it decided to launch a collection of watches to complement its knives. This was the I.N.O.X collection, a breed of watches that were designed to be the ultimate tool. Victorinox devised no less than 130 tests for its new watches as a demonstration of their durability. One reason why these watches are so tough is because they are powered by quartz movements, which, because they have less moving parts, are more shock and impact resistant than mechanical watches. Still, because of the allure of automatic watches, it seems that it would make sense for Victorinox to one day release a mechanical version of their I.N.O.X. watches. Well, that day has finally come.
It is tempting to take a look at the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 and dismiss it as yet another version of the Dark Side of the Moon watch. After all, Omega has already released numerous variations prior to this one. However, the Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 is a little special for a number of reasons. Like all Dark Side of the Moon watches, it has a ceramic case, but unlike the rest, it features a manually wound Caliber 1869 movement. Because of that, it is substantially slimmer and more wearable than your typical Dark Side of the Moon watch. Finally, there’s the design—it has a cutaway dial with textures that resemble that of the moon.
The thing about most watch reviews is that we typically have the watch for a brief period of time, from a week or two to, if we’re lucky, a few months. Sometimes, we only have days. Obviously, this is not the same as owning a watch, which is why long-term reviews can be so enlightening and instructive. Wearing a watch for a few weeks is not the same as wearing it for nearly two years. Here’s what it’s like owning a Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001.
German-based watch retailer Wempe is one of a few watch retailers to have their own brand of watches. Focused on quality and value, the eponymously named watches are made in Glashütte and are mostly German-certified chronometers, which are subjected to more stringent tests than their Swiss counterparts. The watch we are interested in today is called the Wempe Zeitmeister, a chronometer-certified diver from Wempe with a classic dive watch aesthetic. If the usual Tudors or Omegas don’t catch your fancy, this is worth checking out.