Thursday, 17 September 2009

Rolex Sea Dweller Deep Sea

Big. Everything about this watch is big: the size, the depth rating, the price. It's the most extreme diving watch that Rolex have ever offered for sale, the only other watch they've ever made that can outdo it is the Deep Sea Special, which wasn't exactly a daily wearer. It's certainly an impressive watch - but is it as good as the hype would have you believe, and is it a viable watch for the ordinary watch wearer? I'll weigh up the pros and cons and come to my decision, and hopefully it might help yours as well.

Techincal Details

*Model Number: 116660
*904L Stainless Steel
*43mm Case Diameter
*Unidirectional rotating diving bezel, ceramic bezel insert with platinum numerals
*Maxi Dial and Hands, filled with Chromalight luminous material
*Ringlock system for extra strength at depth
*Automatic Helium Escape Valve
*Domed Sapphire crystal
*Titanium Caseback
*Oyster bracelet with Glidelock clasp
*Oversized Triplock crown
*Waterproof to 3900m/12800ft

The Movement

*Cal. 3135
*Self windng chronometer
*28.8k bph
*Quickset date complication
*Parachrom blue hairspring and Paraflex shock absorber system

UK RRP: £5790

The Aesthetics

Rolex have carried on their traditional diver's watch look: black dial, black bezel, easy to read and easy to see at night. Simple yet functional. However, this really does have a premium feel to it, and I, for one, feel that it is a huge improvement in terms of quality over the previous generation Sea Dweller. The bezel has a lovely feel to it, and glides smoothly into place, and has a lovely shine to it. Wisely, Rolex have kept the bracelet brushed, with only the case and bracelet sides being polished. This, for me, really means it stamps out its tool watch credentials straight away - it's not attracting attention to itself by being flashy, it's here to do a job and do it well. I love the honesty of it.

The size is a real "marmite" factor: some love the size of it, others hate it. In a world of Panerais, Breitlings and other oversized watches, 43mm for a case diameter is relatively modest. It's more the height of the watch which is an issue - I personally think it's just too tall for formal wear, there's no way of getting it comfortable under the cuff of a dress shirt. It absolutely dwarfs my Datejust:

However, it has the look of an industrial piece of engineering, it looks rough and ready to handle anything you could possibly throw at it. This is a watch crying out for outdoors activity, and I think that's the best place for it. In a business meeting, it'd look like a fish out of water, like a bodybuilder at a science fair. In it's element, however, it reigns supreme, and I'm sure the size and weight of it will give the wearer full confidence in it's abilities.


As already mentioned above, this isn't the most practical of formal watches. Not something I'd personally recommend as an only watch, but if you had this in conjunction with a more suitable watch for work wear, then you have yourself what I think is a brilliant weekend watch. It's waterproof to a depth no human can physically dive to without a submersible, its brushed finish means scratches will be only a minor concern, the ceramic bezel is extremely durable, and the Glidelock clasp makes a particularly heavy and cumbersome watch surprisingly comfortable to wear. In fact, the Glidelock is such an important feature of the Deepsea, it needs a little section all to itself.

The Glidelock, for me, is the best practical innovation Rolex have developed in years. Whilst the Yachtmaster II's movement is a fantastic piece of horology, it's way out of reach for the average watch colector. The Glidelock, on the other hand, is a revolution in clasp adjustment, and won't just be available on the Deepsea, but the Submariner range as well: the new 18Ct and two tone models already have it, and the new steel version is expected to have it when launched too. Whilst ostensibly designed with wetsuits in mind (the diver's extension link remains with the Glidelock providing an extra 1.8cm of adjustment), it is the perfect feature for an ordinary user. Hot day? Let it out a notch or two. Want to play tennis? Tighten it up. The Glidelock removes the need to move pins in the clasp around - whilst you could get a high level of fine adjustment on the previous generation Sea Dweller, it was a fiddly, complicated and time consuming task compared to the Glidelock. To use it, simply undo the clasp, lift a finger under the edge (as pictured) and slide the link as much as you need. Takes all of 5 seconds. If I was the head of Rolex, I'd have that clasp placed on every single watch in the line up - my only criticism of the clasp is that it's only available on divers' models.

Value for Money

You certainly get a lot of watch for your money. Incredible engineering, high quality parts, bragging rights ("Oh, so your watch can go down to 300m? Nice, but look at mine..."), and that little bit of magic that will appeal to the 10 year old inside you. Of course, it's not a watch for everyone: its critics will cite its size and ostentatiousness as flaws, it'll be simply too much for most. But you need to look at this watch from Rolex's point of view, and I think they've been incredibly clever with this watch. Firstly, they needed a watch that could realistically compete in terms of chunkiness with Panerai and Breitling, and no one can argue that they haven't done that successfully. Secondly, they needed to reiterate their reputation as the makers of watches that can survive the harshest of places - the Deepsea is an excellent example of this, and testiment to their overengineering. Thirdly, they needed to underline their reputation as a maker of the highest quality sports watches, something that the (please forgive me) Submariner and Sea Dweller 4000 lacked. I see the Deepsea as a statement for Rolex's future, a reminder of what they do best. Yes, it's a big price increase compared to the old Sea Dweller, but this is in a completely different league. The Sea Dweller was an excellent watch for the 20th century, but the Deepsea is a 21st century watch through and through.


Excellent technical achievement, but not for everyone. Quite possibly the best engineered tool watch of all time, and truly the new benchmark in terms of sports watches.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Daytona Update

Well, it's official, I've decided to remove myself from the Daytona waiting list. For me, at least, the love affair with the most sought-after watch in the world is over. I've just come to the conclusion that too many people have one these days, and I've never been one to follow the crowd. The GMT IIc is definitely my new mistress.


The GMT Master

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Chronoswiss Lunar Chronograph

This is another watch that has really caught my eye on my travels. Firstly, I should write a few words about Chronoswiss themselves, a largely unknown watch company that make some truly stunning timepieces. Founded in 1984 by Gerd-R. Lang, a former TAG master watchmaker, Chronoswiss is based in Germany, and makes timepieces focused on traditional watchmaking techniques, with some very modern technological advances. In the space of 25 years, Chronoswiss has grown to produce around 20000 timepieces per year worldwide, and win several prestigious awards. They have a very distinctive design ethos, with traditional case design, highly decorated movements, crystal display backs and the eponymous turnip-shaped winding crown. The movements themselves are largely heavily modified ETA movements, although recently they launched their own fully in-house movement. Their creative motto "Faszination der Mechanik" (the fascination of mechanics) is one that any true horology enthusiast can appreciate, and I for one love their bold designs, and impeccable attention to detail.

Technical Details

The particular model reviewed is the CH 7523 L bk, on a Louisiana crocodile leather strap.

*Case Diameter: 38mm
*Sapphire crystal both sides, one side Anti-Relective coated
*30m Water Resistance
*Stirling Silver dial

The Movement:

*Cal. c.755 (ETA 7750 base)
*28.8k beats per hour
*46 hour power reserve
*Self winding automatic
*Chronograph function with continuous seconds, minutes, hours and moonphase subdials
*Highly decorated finish

Retail price: £3920

The Aesthetics

The dial is quite a cluttered affair, with four subdials as well as an old-fashioned date display, so to the untrained eye, it can be somewhat daunting. However, this is one watch that can really sum up the "Faszination der Mechanik" mantra: there's always something intricate and intriguing to look at on both sides of the watch. If you'll excuse me for a moment, I'm going to, a la Top Gear, look at it from the perspective of a 10 year old boy. There's a lot happening with this watch, there's a hand to measure just about anything. Having a moonphase on your watch is quite the impressive statement, and the kind of gadget that could appeal to the child in any fully grown man. The chronograph function is just begging to be absent mindedly be fiddled with, the firm click of the top pusher bringing the long seconds hand into it's full sweeping majesty. Turning it over, there's even more to look at, with the crystal case back offering a tantalising glimpse into the innards of the watch. If you move the winding weight just so, you can see the beating heart of the watch in the form of the balance wheel whirring away, the escapement powering the tiny cogs within. This isn't just a watch, it's a piece of art.

The Practicality

Okay, so this watch could potentially be a bit over the top for every day wear, but it certainly is practical. Whilst the moonphase might not be of the utmost importance for the casual wearer, it has clear, if old-fashioned, date on it, and the chronograph function can come in handy in certain situations - a handy cooking tool, for example. The case has a brushed finish and sapphire crystals, and if combined with a leather strap, like the one reviewed, you won't have to worry about the perpetual problem of scratches. Once the leather has been worn in a little, the watch will be as comfortable as any, and Chronoswiss provide a myriad of colours for you to choose from. The one I've been handling had a very attractive blue strap on, which worked brilliantly. The level of water resistance means you don't have to worry about the watch getting wet should you accidentally immerse it, but I wouldn't recommend it for swimming.

Value for Money

At £3920, this is not a cheap watch by any stretch of the imagiation. For that kind of money, you're in Rolex Submariner/Breitling Navitimer/high-end Omega/Cartier territory. However, what Chronoswiss provides is the element of obscurity and exclusivity. With such low production numbers, the only place you're likely to bump into someone else wearing the same watch would be at a Watch Fair like Baselworld, or happen to be in an Authorised Dealer whilst someone else happens to purchase it. In terms of numbers, they have a similar production rate to Patek Philippe: my take on it is that Chronoswiss provides a Patek-like manufacturing ethos, Patek-like excusivity and a wholly unique design philosophy, all for the price of a mass-produced luxury watch brand. I don't know about you, but that makes this Chronoswiss seem like a very tempting proposition.


Chronoswiss also offer this watch with a silver dial as well as a larger size, known as the "Grand Lunar". I strongly urge you to take a look at Chronoswiss' website: it's a great read, and make sure you check out the Lunar Chronograph under zoom and look at the workmanship on the dial. Truly phenomenal.

Thanks for reading

The GMT Master

Raymond Weil Tango Chronograph

It's been a little while since I last updated this blog due to doing a lot of what I love doing best: selling high end watches. A couple of very successful weeks mean I've been going round with a smile on my face. Anyway, amidst the manic atmosphere at the shop, I was able to get my hands on one of the new arrivals, the Raymond Weil Tango Chronograph, a great looking watch, and a lovely addition to the Raymond Weil range. As a general rule, I've been struggling to find a watch that really appealed in their line up - undoubtedly nice quality watches, but just lacking that certain something that appeals to me. No longer: as soon as I saw this watch, I knew I had to take a much, much closer look.

The Technical Stuff

The model reviewed was the ref. 4899-ST-00668, which comes with the very attractive charcoal and silver dial. The watch is also available in an all black dial (ref. 4899-ST-00208), as well as options on leather straps.

*Case width: 40mm
*Sapphire Crystal
*Water Resistant to 50m
*Stainless steel
*Double push deployment clasp
*Big date (a particularly nice touch)
*Quartz Chronograph movement, w/ continuous seconds, 30 minute totaliser and 1/10th sub dials

RRP: £895

All in all a very nice little package, and quite a lot of watch for your money.

The Aesthetics

This watch is certainly good looking by any stretch of the imagination. For me, there are elements of Lange und Sohne, Rolex and Cartier in the design of this watch, and that's certainly no bad thing. The silver subdials are pleasing to the eye, and give a nice, subtle contrast, whilst the dial itself doesn't feel too cluttered, despite the array of features it offers. It has a nice weight to it, the clasp is solid and feels very secure, and the bracelet is more dressy than sporty. This feels like a watch more at home under a suit than one designed for the great outdoors. As shown in the photo below, it sits nicely on the wrist, and isn't overly large - the quartz movement stops the case from being too chunky.

Value for Money

Whilst it might be expensive for a quartz chronograph, the Tango Chronograph provides an elegent and robust entry to the world of luxury watches. At the price point it's at, I can see it being in competition with the likes of TAG and Omega, but out of all the models in the Raymond Weil range, I think this one can really hold it's own. In terms of practicality, it packs a lot of features into a very well presented package - to get a split seconds chronograph with oversized date, plus Roman numerals onto one dial without overcrowding it is no mean feat. When put next to a quartz Seamaster or F1, I think the Raymond's inherent dressiness can see it through, and provides an interesting alternative to more mainstream models.


Whilst the quartz movement may be a deterrent to some, this provides an excellent and unique pathway to the world of luxury watches. Raymond Weil is a brand often overlooked in favour of more heavily advertised marques, but this watch prooves that they can headturning yet classic timepiece for an exceptionally reasonable price.

Thanks for reading

The GMT Master