William McCleary

William McCleary

First Published: December 09, 2018
Following a lengthy stint as an Entertainment Reporter in Hollywood, William focuses on writing for the travel and lifestyle sectors. His clients include Google, Hotels.com, and AccorHotels, specializing in website content, SEO-friendly blog posts and product-marketing copy. He also pens a wide range of feature articles, microcopy and a slew of social media content.
  1. Articles by William McCleary
  2. History of the Omega Speedmaster

    History of the Omega Speedmaster

    For decades the Omega Speedmaster has embodied the essence of auto racing and held a coveted spot at the forefront of racing-inspired watches. What makes it so special? Let’s trace the evolution of this quintessential racing watch. Omega Speedmaster, It Was Part of a Trilogy When we first met the Omega Speedmaster in 1957 it was not alone, launched in conjunction with the Seamaster 300 CK 2913 dive watch, and the Railmaster CK 2914, which had antimagnetic properties for train travel. In the 1950s, Omega was the official timekeeper of the Olympic Games and so stopwatch chronograph functions were high on their list of priorities. It was only natural that the very first Speedmaster (ref. CK2915) had a triple-register chronograph design that’s remarkably similar to the Speedmasters produced today. Dubbed the “Broad Arrow” for its hour hand, this ode to classic Italian auto racing was only in production for three years, making it popular with collectors today. Omega Speedmaster Moon Madness Takes Hold in the 60s We got a few more similar versions of the Speedmaster in the late 1950s and early 60s. Omega started putting “Professional” on the dials in the summer of 1965, during one of the watch’s most notable periods in the midst of the Space Race. So much has been said about the Omega Speedmaster and its association with space missions. A Speedmaster, famously called the “Moonwatch,” was worn by astronaut Walter Schirra on the Sigma 7 launch in 1962 and one went along for the first lunar landing in 1969. The watch continued its association with NASA during the decades that followed. Mark II Ushers in the 70s As Omega peered over the edge of a new decade, they sought designs that would take them from the 60s into the 70s. Enter the Omega Mark II, with a striking barrel-shaped case that was unconventional at the time. The original Mark II that debuted in 1969 came in two versions, one with a black-and-white design scheme, and a special racing edition with orange elements. We only got a few years of Mark IIs, as Omega soon moved on to Mark IIIs. But in 2014 Omega gave us an updated edition of the Mark II with all the trademarks of the original. Mark III Takes the Reins The Speedmaster Mark III had an eye-catching design when it was unveiled in 1971, and praise for its modern lines continues to this day. With its signature Flightmaster case, this first of the automatic Speedmasters was also the very first to have a date function, a day-night indicator, and sub-dial features that match today’s modern Speedmasters. Available with blue, silver, and black dials, the Mark III is an atypical entry, which makes watch aficionados love them even more. Things Get Funky in the 70s Cultural norms were upended in the 1970s. Music and fashion were breaking barriers like never before. Revolution was in the air. Omega had to shake things up and deliver some designs that fit with the times. One such example is the Speedmaster 125 that debuted in 1973. One look and you can see why the watch might have its detractors. It’s big, bulky, and the dial looks like something you might find on an old Russian submarine. But the watch has its throwback charms and some historical significance as it was released to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Omega’s founding. Digital Days With the X-33 Here’s one from the late 90s that’s for the quirkier of collectors. The “Mars Watch” didn’t go as Omega had wished. Hoping to build on their “moon“ success, the watchmakers went for the next step of Mars exploration, but the campaign never generated excitement. Still, the Mars move gave us one of the more unusual members of the Omega Speedmaster family, the Speedmaster X-33. Your eyes do not deceive you. That is a digital display on a Speedmaster, which functions like both a digital watch and a mechanical chronograph. While this hybrid never made it to Mars, it was involved in several space missions and used by astronauts on the International Space Station. Omega Speedmaster Celebrating 50 Years in 2007  Many recall the recent 60th anniversary Speedmaster in 2017. And that’s an impressive addition to the catalog, with a design that mirrors the very first Speedmaster from 1957. But discerning collectors have taken more note of the 50th anniversary Speedmaster we met in 2007. The 2007 watch broke a few norms on the its Golden Jubilee birthday. While most Speedmasters have matte dials, this one went with a lustrous enamel dial. The usual 50 meters of water resistance was doubled to a depth of 100 meters. And on the inside, Omega placed the much-praised caliber 3201 movement. Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon to Today In 2013 we got a tribute to the lunar-landing days of the Speedmaster with the now-classic Dark Side of the Moon. This ceramic “Moonwatch” is aptly named with its stark black design. And it is ceramic through and through, from its case and chronograph pushers to the caseback and dial, made from black zirconium oxide ceramic. While the watch does harken back to the long-over Space Race, it’s a decidedly modern timepiece. Omega streamlined the design by taking three subdials down to two, and beefing up the size of the case, to boldly go into the contemporary world. So where do you fall? Are you a modern watch wearer who prefers a sleek ceramic Speedmaster? Maybe you take to vintage charm from the 70s or perhaps lean more to one-off oddities from the 90s. With over eight decades of Speedmasters to choose from, surely there’s one that suits your style.

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  3. Top 5 Swiss Watch Brands

    Top 5 Swiss Watch Brands

    Which luxury company produces the finest Swiss watch brands? Let’s run through the five top Swiss watch brands and look at why they enjoy enviable places in the upper echelon of the watchmaking world. Swiss Watch Brands  1: Rolex Are They Really That Good? They’ve got the world’s best-known name in luxury watches and Swiss watch brands, but what do you get when you buy a Rolex? Well, you get a watch like no other because Rolex is a company like no other. They’re privately owned, for one, and the freedom to operate independently can’t be overstated. While most other high-end watchmakers use 316L stainless steel, Rolex exclusively uses 904L steel. They retooled their production facilities to handle the super durable alloy that looks different from your usual stainless steel. The benefits of Rolex operating on its own includes an on-site foundry for smelting gold, in-house manufacturing of all movements, and their own science labs to examine everything from oil viscosity to metallurgy on a microscopic level. And as for variety, with nearly a century of history, the choices are almost innumerable. Among the most-popular Rolexes ever made we have the Submariner dive watches, the Cosmograph Daytona racing watches, and the Yacht-Master and Yacht-Master II. The Yacht-Masters came decades after the debuts of the Daytona and the Submariner. So they lack history. But their versatility and adaptability put them in contention for the all-time favorite Rolexes. 2: Omega for Swiss Heritage If you’re interested in Swiss watch brands, and you’re talking about a Rolex, then you’re probably going to be talking about an Omega too. It’s the age-old question: Which is better, a Rolex or an Omega? We may never be able to find a quantifiable answer, but we can look at a few reasons why one might lean to Omega. Omega has been around for longer than Rolex. That’s usually a surprise to many as Rolex is synonymous with watch heritage. But Omega is older by over half a century, tracing its roots to a Swiss workshop that opened in 1848. Perhaps Omega isn’t perceived so much as an “older” brand because it’s often seen in popular culture, on the wrists of the current James Bond and a host of celebs, including brand ambassadors such as George Clooney, Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman, and Michael Phelps, to name a few. The undisputed champ when it comes to popularity is the Omega Speedmaster Professional, or “Moonwatch,” a classic timepiece made for space flight that’s taken well to terrestrial life. But, perhaps nearly as known and loved, are the Omega Seamasters. In particular, Planet Ocean Seamasters are some of the best dive watches you can buy that complement nearly any wardrobe on land. 3: Patek Philippe with Dress and Dive Classics Folks have long joked that Patek Philippe is a “Rich Man’s Rolex.” While that may not be literally true, there is truth in the sense that you are looking at a different level when considering a Patek Philippe dress watch. Patek Philippe is a go-to brand for people who want to ascend to that rare air without being too flashy about it. Bling is for other brands. Patek Philippe’s best-known and most-iconic watch is, without doubt, the Calatrava. The legendary dress watch bowed in 1932 and today remains an ever-popular flagship model for the brand. The Calatrava set the standard for what a good dress watch should be — simple and elegant with moderate proportions. While it has less time in the spotlight than the Calatrava, the Patek Philippe Nautilus comes a close second in terms of popularity. People were slow to embrace the dive watch, which debuted in 1976 to little fanfare. But in 2006 the 30th-anniversary edition was an enormous hit and popularity hasn’t waned to this day. 4: TAG Heuer Has Auto Racing History Any look at TAG Heuer watches should first peer past 1985, when the company Techniques d’Avant-Garde (TAG) bought a big part of Heuer Watches. Heuer’s tale actually begins in 1860, when Edouard Heuer set up his watchmaking shop in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. He was soon known for making chronographs, especially for airplanes and cars, and in 1914 Heuer made a chronograph for the wrist. The Heuer racing watch was born! The watchmaker would be synonymous with auto racing to this day, producing the famed Monaco’s and Carrera’s. Other than its race-inspired offerings, TAG Heuer excels at dive watches, which they didn’t get into until the 1980s. The late start doesn’t seem to have done any harm as the Aquaracer competes with some of the best dive offerings from Omega and Rolex. 5: IWC for Big, Bold Statements The International Watch Company (IWC) makes some really nice dive watches, such as the Aquatimer. But IWC will probably never outdo Omega dive watches. And the IWC chronographs, specifically the Portugieser, are wonderful. But they may never beat Rolex chronographs, at least in the minds of many. What IWC can lay claim to, perhaps more than any other Swiss luxury brand, is pilot watches. This Swiss watch brand’s reputation earned with sweat, and blood. Literally, as IWC watches went into combat in both World War One and World War Two. There are a vast number of models under their five categories of pilot watches. That includes Top Gun, Spitfire, Classic, Le Petit Prince, and a category for Le Petit Prince author Antoine De Saint-Exupéry. But the pilot watch most everyone knows and loves is the IWC Big Pilot, the brand’s most-iconic watch with its huge dial and signature onion crown. Swiss Watch Brands We should give honorable mentions to Audemars Piguet, Tissot, and Longines, who all trace their histories back to Switzerland more than a century ago. With that kind of heritage, it’s hard to find a fine Swiss watchmaker you wouldn’t welcome into the Top 5!

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  4. Top Celebrity Picks in Luxury Watches

    Top Celebrity Picks in Luxury Watches

    It’s no secret that celebrities love high-end luxury watches, but what are these cool watches we mere mortals only get glimpses of on Instagram? Let’s take a closer look at the luxury timepieces that some of the top stars are sporting. Kim Kardashian Relishes Rolex If you’ve kept up with Kim Kardashian, you know she’s rarely seen without a dazzling timepiece on her wrist. And that watch is usually a Rolex. Her go-to Rolex is a Day-Date Presidential, but when she’s walking red carpets expect to see a Datejust with a mother-of-pearl dial. And, no stranger to bling, Kim loads her gold Datejust with diamonds. We also know Kim’s got a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona in rose gold with a chocolate dial. Jay-Z gifted Kim, among other VIPs at a charity event, with the $40,000 swag. King James and His Royal Oaks View this post on Instagram Ain’t got time to f%^* with you……. Living my best LIFE! LIVE.LAUGH.LOVE???❤️ A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on Sep 20, 2018 at 12:50pm PDT LeBron James is an Audemars Piguet fan. A longtime wearer, James collaborated with  Audemars Piguet on the Royal Oak Offshore LeBron James limited edition, featuring a 44mm rose gold case and diamond-set titanium bezel. The precious stones may explain some of the watch’s $100,000 price tag. LeBron has also been spotted wearing a Royal Oak Offshore Volcano, an eye-catching model with a face ringed by fiery orange, bringing a real sporty feel to the classic design. We’ve also seen the NBA star sporting a Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Tourbillon with an openwork dial. Brad Pitt’s Long Road to Breitling Let’s hop into the time machine, heading way back to the more innocent days of 1992. Bill Clinton played sax into the White House, Nirvana played “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and Thelma & Louise stunned moviegoers with their suicide run. That movie was also Brad Pitt’s breakthrough, and the actor has been building a watch collection with his big Hollywood paychecks ever since. It was mostly Rolex back in the early days, when we saw him wearing a stainless steel Rolex Daytona with a white dial, as well as a classic Rolex Submariner. Brad’s also fond of a yellow gold Rolex Yacht-Master. He’s given to rotating two models, one modern and one vintage, of the Patek Philippe Nautilus. Brad’s luxury Cartier is a limited edition Tank à Guichet. From A. Lange & Söhne, Pitt wears the Lange 1 Timezone in rose gold. But Brad’s now an ambassador for Breitling, and that’s what we see him wearing most these days, notably the Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 Norton Edition. The homage to classic motorbikes is a collaboration between the Swiss watchmakers and British motorcycle makers Norton. Brad’s also known to wear a traditional Breitling Avenger Chronograph. Trevor Noah Goes Retro with Patek Philippe View this post on Instagram Hey you, stop that! Hump Day just means the middle of the week. ??‍♂️ Happy Middle of the Week Day everyone! ?? ?: @imseangallagher A post shared by Trevor Noah (@trevornoah) on Jun 12, 2019 at 7:46am PDT The Daily Show host is one serious watch lover. Among the watches we’ve seen, Rolex ranks high. Trevor’s been spotted off-camera with a yellow gold President Day-Date with a champagne dial. At the Grammys, we saw Noah in formal wear and his everose gold Rolex GMT-Master II, notable for its gem-set Pepsi bezel. For a more charming offering, there’s Trevor’s Root Beer GMT-Master II with its eclectic use of brown hues. Trevor’s been seen wearing a stainless steel Audemars Piguet Royal Oak with a blue-black dial. Patek Philippe seems to be another watchmaker Noah favors, as we’ve seen him wearing a Nautilus Perpetual Calendar, an homage to the 1976 design of renowned Swiss watchmaker Gérald Genta. Noah flashed this high-end timepiece while scarfing down chicken wings on the YouTube show Hot Ones. Ryan Gosling and his Vintage Air King The Oscar-nominated star has been spotted on all kinds of occasions, from red-carpet galas to casual affairs in jeans and a shirt, with his period Rolex Air King. Gosling has one of the first models of the watch that debuted in 1958, a timepiece designed to capture the glory days of aviation in the 1930s. Gosling’s love for vintage style continues with his next favorite, a Jaeger LeCoultre Master Memovox, giving a sleek sheen to a minimalist old school design. And Gosling’s got a Patek Philippe Calatrava. Sorta. In making the movie Drive, Gosling wanted his stunt-driver character to wear a Patek Philippe Calatrava, as the watch is part of the plot. But for filming purposes, they needed a prop watch. So they made a replica and Gosling got to keep the movie memorabilia. Kylie Jenner is All About Audemars Piguet View this post on Instagram someone said there was a vday party♥️♥️♥️ A post shared by Kylie ? (@kyliejenner) on Feb 12, 2020 at 10:30pm PST 20-something mogul and social-media superstar Kylie Jenner is rarely seen without a luxury timepiece, often worn over the sleeve in her signature style. She’s made it clear she’s an Audemars Piguet girl. And specifically into Royal Oaks. We’ve seen Kylie wear many different luxury watches. Those watches includes a Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel and a Royal Oak Diamond Pave. Also a Royal Oak Frosted in white gold. Her Royal Oak Diamond Bezel in 18-carat white gold is for dressier occasions. She gets a bit creative with the Openworked Royal Oak, featuring front-and-back displays of mechanical wonders. Chances are you’re not a celebrity, don’t know a celebrity, and probably don’t care to. So why should you follow their examples? You shouldn’t. This is just one look at what high-profile watch lovers are wearing. But you’ve got to admit that most of them have good taste. And, sure, maybe you’ll feel a small connection to the A-listers if you’re slipping  on the same luxury watches.

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  5. 5 Steps to Finding the Perfect Luxury Watch

    5 Steps to Finding the Perfect Luxury Watch

    Finding that perfect timepiece when buying watches online often means navigating a complicated maze of collections from high-end watch brands. So it’s a good idea to figure out what you really want instead of just plunging into the overload of offerings. These simple steps can guide you in your search for that perfect luxury watch. Step 1: Set Your Price Range As with almost every other transaction in life, things go a lot smoother if you know how much money you’re planning to spend. And don’t go over! The world will be a happier place if you set a budget and stick to it. So what prices are we talking about with luxury watches? There are some nice options for under $1,000. Tissot is a good brand to go to in this budget, with solid Swiss-made selections from the T-Sport and T-Classic lines, or perhaps the Tissot Gentleman, a dress watch that wears at a higher level than its entry-level pricing suggests. Hamilton is another great name in the same price range. From $1,000 to $5,000, your options go broader, and you’re getting into (or at least close to) entry-level models from names like Rolex, Tudor, and TAG Heuer, among the better-known upscale brands. But above $5,000 and up to around $40,000 is where you’ll find the majority of luxury watches. Think Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and Jaeger LeCoultre. Step 2: Match Your Personality This is a big one. It requires you to take inventory of yourself. Honestly. Taking a hard look at the true you help to identify those parts of yourself you put out there for the world to see. And the job of a good watch is to accentuate those public-facing aspects of your personality, while still staying true to your more private side. So take the well-known Myers-Briggs personality test (it’s free!) and figure out which of the distinct 16 personality types you match. Then go with your gut feelings on how that personality type would pair with watches. You could come up as, say, The Thinker, leaning to the quiet and reserved side, a thoughtful type drawn to intimate gatherings who would stay away from big and brash watches. An elegant dress watch like the Junghans Max Bill Automatic or the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony is more fitting for The Thinker. On the other end of the scale, you might turn out to be a Performer personality, living in the moment at the center of attention. That type calls for watches that get noticed, and perhaps something from the aviation arena such as the IWC Big Pilot. Or maybe the test finds you’re a Caregiver, in touch with emotions, best paired with the charms of classic watches such as the Cartier Tank. Step 3: Consider Where You’ll Wear Your Luxury Watch So we’ve, hopefully, got a clearer idea of who you are, now we should take a look at what you do. Or at least, specifically, what you will be doing while wearing the watch. Some realist reflection here is also helpful. If you don’t go to red-carpet galas now, chances are you’re not going to need a formal watch for them in the future. If your life does include a lot of dress-casual gatherings, you might consider something dressy but versatile from the Longines Heritage collection. Someone given to casual weekends in jeans and t-shirts may want to go with sportier watches that brandish commanding style like the Rolex Submariner or a Rolex Oyster Perpetual. Step 4: Targeted Search with an Open Mind You’ve narrowed things down for a luxury watch, limited by price (step 1), type (step 2), and use (step 3). Next up, targeted searches. But where? Online, sure, and it’s good to buy directly from the watchmakers’ websites. But you can usually get better prices with similar trustworthiness from the long-established online watch retailers. Browse the watch sites, focused on type, use, and price (searching, for example, a dive watch that can go dress-casual for $3,000). Flip along through images, images, and more images until one just stops you. And what if you’re not grabbed by that gotcha watch? Well, then you can get a little calculated about things. Make a checklist from the first three steps and apply the criteria to possible contenders.   Step 5: Plan for its Future Like puppies and plants, watches need care after you bring them home. If you’re getting automatic movement, you might want to consider the pros and cons of a watch winder. Most watches are not covered under warranty for damages done by moisture, often caused by not storing your watch in a dry enough place. Which raises an important point: know your warranty for a luxury watch! A good watch-sales site will post their policies on a prominent page, with warranties typically ranging from two to five years. Experts recommend you have a luxury watch professionally serviced every four to five years, so keep the paperwork for technicians to log. Why wait? The best that high-end luxury watches has to offer is just a few clicks away. And armed with the understanding of who you are, where you’re going, and how you’re going there, you’re right on the cusp of finding that perfect luxury watch.

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  6. 6 Affordable Pilot Watches

    6 Affordable Pilot Watches

    When considering affordable watches, pilot watches often aren’t the first timepieces that might come to mind. Pilot watches came to fame in the Jet Set Age. A golden era of air travel when a small but glamorous subset of the population enjoyed globetrotting in luxurious style. The first pilot watches were precise tools used by aviators for navigation, with price tags to match their much-needed precision. But things have changed since the first glory days of accessible air travel. The prices of many pilot watches have dropped to put them within reach of the average consumer. Let’s look at some of the top affordable options. Deals for Less Than $200 Orient Flight Orient goes for a classic look with its Flight, keeping the dial straightforward yet still sleek feeling with large Arabic numerals contrasting slim minute markers on the outer perimeter of the face. The contrast continues with a black-and-white color scheme for easy visibility, aided by luminescent hands and markers. Probably not the watch you want to wear to the office, the Flight is more suited to your dressed-down times. Stührling Original Aviator Photo from stuhrling officialDeveloped by the German Air Force, Flieger style is instantly recognizable, with large steel cases, oversized crowns, sword-shaped hands, and a signature triangle at the 12-o’clock position. The Stührling Original Aviator stays true to that classic design. This traditional watch feels elegant enough for dressier times when fitted with a fine leather strap, yet it can also skew quite casual. That’s in part because at 41mm in diameter it’s smaller than many Flieger (which means “airman” in German) watches that go as high as 55mm in case diameters. Seiko Flightmaster Quite the opposite of Stührling’s strict adherence to traditional pilot-watch design, Seiko heaps its dial and bezel with a massive helping of information to create an analog “flight computer.” Whether it’s visually impressive or a frenetic eyesore depends on the beholder. But none can deny the Flightmaster’s functionality, a sheer marvel for anyone who wants to geek out with calculations. The bezel recreates a conventional slide rule, capable of an almost incalculable number of computations, in conjunction with three chronograph subdials. And all of that is packed into a 42mm watch, which makes it wear smaller than the first-glance overload might lead you to believe. Pilot Picks Under $500 Hamilton Khaki King Pilot Watches Hamilton doesn’t diverge much from the Flieger formula, and again we see the classic round case, large crown, black-and-white scheme, sword-shaped hands, and even the 12 o’clock triangle. But, as Hamilton is known to do, there are features that take things up a few pegs. The day-date window on the dial is a nice subtle touch. A sapphire crystal is anti-reflective and scratch-resistant, while the watch is water-resistant up to 200 meters. Its crisp, clean design gives it almost a regal air, especially when paired with a black leather strap. Laco 42mm Pilot Watches While Laco may not be a household name, the brand is well known among watch lovers, especially those with penchants for pilots. That’s because Laco was actually involved in creating watches for the German Air Force in the 1940s. Rhose that serve as the design inspiration for pilot watches to this day. So it’s not surprising we find all of the hallmarks of a Flieger watch here — case, hands, and indices all according to time-honored tradition. But Laco throws in some nice new touches. Such as a riveted leather band, sapphire crystal, and numbers coated with Superluminova C3. Simple in the best possible sense of the word, the Laco pilot is about as classic as you can get. Bulova Lunar Pilot Chronograph Photo from AmazonWe think of pilot watches as made for the folks who fly aircraft, but Bulova reminds us that they’ve made watches for pilots of spacecraft as well. A Bulova chronograph was used to make critical calculations on the Apollo 15 mission in 1971. It was one of the dozens of NASA launches that the watchmakers have joined. So, as you might expect, we see something of a departure from terrestrial style with the Lunar Pilot. It features a silver-toned tonneau-shaped case instead of round and polished stainless steel and a floating second hand. Dress this one up on a textured black leather strap, or down on a black nylon band. Pilot Watches Conclusion So what are you waiting for? If you can afford $100 (or even less!) you can pick up a really nice pilot watch. And if you’re willing to go a little higher, then slipping a fine aviation timepiece that performs well beyond its price tag is well within your reach.

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  7. 6 Top Affordable Field Watches

    6 Top Affordable Field Watches

    More than most other timepieces, field watches are often affordable watches because they are basically designed to do one thing: tell time. They’re also built to withstand the blows of battlefields and steeped in over a century of military history. They’re fabulous when you’re looking to wear a little vintage flair. If you want all that at an affordable price, here are some of your best options. Bargains for Under $100 Bucks Timex Expedition Scout The Timex Expedition Collection is a great place to start if you’re on the hunt for an affordable field watch, as the choices range from $50 to $100. The brand has proven itself over more than a century. Timex’s famed slogan of “takes a licking and keeps on ticking” certainly applies to their field watches. The Expedition Ranger and Expedition Pioneer lines have solid offerings. The Scout 40 distinguishes itself with a no-nonsense design that embodies the true essence of a military watch, without trying to do anything else. On a leather strap, it could easily be your go-to watch to pair with everyday attire. Seiko 5 Automatic Field Watch Timex and Seiko have been battling each other for dominance in the entry-level market for over a century. The competition has yielded some amazing watches at surprisingly low prices. So it’s no wonder that the Seiko 5 field watch is a strong competitor with the Timex Scout. And the Japanese offering just might edge out its American counterpart if you prefer automatic movement over quartz. While the Seiko 5 takes the same no-frills approach to military design, it does so with a little more subtlety. Doing so notably with the SNK809 model that measures 37mm in diameter, offering a low profile with the same casual coolness. Field Watches for Less than $200 The range of field watches you can pick up for that price difference widens considerably. It also opens you up to more automatic options. Getting an automatic movement for less than $200 is a great deal with any type of timepiece. Citizen BM8180 True, automatic purists may still not approve, but the quartz movement on this Citizen field watch is solar powered! Beyond the classic military design with the black-and-white scheme and round stainless steel case, the BM8180 adds extra toughness with 100 meters of water resistance. It’ll never be a “dress watch,” but it’s understated enough to dress up somewhat on a leather strap. However, this rough-and-ready timepiece really belongs on a thick woven-canvas band in military green. Orient Defender Orient has long been the brand that many look to for low-cost dress watches, and the Orient Bambino is legendary for its affordable sophistication. The same holds true for the Defender, an automatic field watch that almost defies definition. It is firmly rooted in military-style, with black-and-white or olive-green motifs in a round stainless steel case. But the Defender takes a big swerve away from field style with asymmetric subdials on its face. It gives this watch plenty of unique personality. Much more than other field watches, the Defender wears as well on a link bracelet as it does on a canvas band. Top Picks for Under $500 By their very nature, field watches are not meant to be luxury timepieces. They are watches made for soldiers in action. But that hasn’t stopped upscale brands from infusing field watches with some subtle refinement. Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic There’s no surprise this one makes the list. Ask any aficionado about a field watch and almost inevitably they’ll point you to the Hamilton Khaki Field, either their Old School mechanical version or the precision-crafted automatic. The Hamilton Khaki Field sticks to the military script, with an olive green or black face, white numerals and indices (or the reverse), and a stainless steel case. But it does so with a cosmopolitan vibe that makes it feel exquisitely modern. Plus, there’s 25-jewel Swiss automatic movement with 80 hours of reserve power, a sapphire crystal on the front, and an exhibition case on the back. Luminox Atacama Field Day 1925 Luminox brings out a big bold statement with its Atacama 1925 field watch, full of swagger at 45mm across. Yet it doesn’t wear with brash arrogance, largely thanks to its traditional style that takes its cues from military watches of the 1920s. Like others in the Atacama Field Collection, such as the 1927, the 1925 takes a departure from the usual field watch style, going with a gunmetal PVD case instead of the traditional polished stainless steel. A vintage-inspired black dial features big brown hour markers and numerals that feel lifted right out of the trench warfare of old. The throwback vibe continues with a brown leather strap and its ivory contrast stitching. Maybe you’re on the hunt for a military-inspired bargain. Or you might be willing to spend a little extra for a field watch with unique style and fine craftsmanship. However you lean, there’s surely an affordable field watch out there for you.

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  8. 3 Most Common Watch Styles

    3 Most Common Watch Styles

    Among the broad range of watch styles to choose from, a few types of popular watches always grab our attention: dress, field, and dive watches. Let’s look at why we love these pervasive and prized timepieces. Watch Styles’ Elegance of Dress Watches If you’ve been given a watch as a gift for a life event, say graduation or a big new job, chances are pretty good that it was a dress watch. Because dress watches are about so much more than dressing up. A dress watch embraces the expectation of a promising future in which a display of refinement on your wrist is only fitting. Many feel a dress ensemble simply isn’t truly complete until you’ve slipped on an elegant dress watch. What Makes a Good Dress Watch? There’s no simple answer. Watch styles like dress watches have some of the loosest definitions when compared to others like chronographs and field watches, which tend to stay more in their own lanes with regard to how you can wear them. We see lots of other watches filling in for dress watches. For example, you can easily fit a dive watch with an alligator strap to go dressy with a fine suit. James Bond rarely even bothered to swap out his Oyster bracelet when going black tie with his divers. But if you want to keep things classic and traditional, which is what fine dress watches do, there are a few aspects to look for. They’re simple. Dress watches don’t overload with complications, multiple subdials, extra windows, or pronounced indices. Things that cry out for attention, which we absolutely love on other timepieces, are best left off of a dress watch. Examples of this classic approach to understated elegance are too many to list but think of iconic favorites like the Patek Philippe Calatrava, Jaeger LeCoultre Master Control, and the A Lange & Sohne Saxonia. They’re on the small side. When the Calatrava was introduced back in the 1930s, it was just 31mm in diameter. Sure, most watches were smaller back then, but the diminutive size set a precedent. Today’s Calatrava’s are in the 35mm to 40mm range, the latter being the unofficial ceiling for dress-watch size. Anything over 40mm and you’re inviting attention, the exact opposite of what a good dress watch intends. They’re made from precious metals. Usually, anyway, most often in yellow gold, white gold, or rose gold. While you can find lots of exceptions in stainless steel, from lower-end Grand Seiko’s to higher-end Omega watches, gold is really the way to go with a dress watch. And keep in mind that dress watches aren’t just for dress occasions. Not at all! Pretty much any dress watch also works wonderfully with jeans and a t-shirt. Shop Watch Styles   Field Watches: Military Style Goes Metro Field watches are also called military watches, originally created for use on battlefields over a century ago. But today’s field watches, while they still embody that rugged heritage, are much more at home at upscale bistros, modern offices, and on relaxed weekends spent strolling farmers’ markets. A few key features of field watches include: They’re built tough. While some more modern incarnations go with titanium, carbon fiber, or PVD coating, a traditional field watch has a stainless steel case. They’re made tough enough to take any knocks one might encounter in the heat of battle, even though your combat might only be a fight against rush hour traffic. More than twice as hard as white gold and platinum, stainless steel is highly resistant to scratches, dings, and dents. Field watches pair well with leather for a dressier look but generally feel more at home on a canvas strap. They’re easy to read. Most field watches feature black dials with white numerals and markings. Olive drab, also known as military green, is also widely used as the dial color. The high-contrast design is for easy visibility at a glance, as is the generous lume and glare-proof crystals we usually see on field watches. You’re spoiled for choices when it comes to field watches, with nice offerings in every price range. Some iconic favorites include the Hamilton Khaki Field, a well-crafted classic that truly embodies the original military spirit. The Timex Expedition Scout is a great low-budget option, while the Tudor Heritage Ranger is a popular choice on the higher end. Watch Styles: Diving into Divers   Dive watches have been around for nearly a century, starting with the water-resistant Rolex Oyster we met in 1927. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that divers went mainstream when the Rolex Submariner, Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, and Zodiac Sea Wolf all competing for the emerging scuba-diving market. They’re made for underwater use. So, obviously, they’re water-resistant, usually up to at least 100 meters. Dive watches have rotating bezels, originally used to gauge oxygen tanks, though computers do those calculations today. They have corrosion-resistant cases of stainless steel or titanium, and plenty of lume for visibility underwater. Most also have screw-down crowns to keep the water out. They’re style statements. Most people who wear dive watches aren’t going gonzo with plunges into the ocean depths. So dive style is adaptable to a number of occasions on land. Most dive watches are medium-sized and lend themselves to a wide span of attires, from super casual, to business casual, and up to business dress. But don’t take it too far. Unless you’re James Bond, never pair a dive watch with a tuxedo. With close to 100 years of dive watches to choose from, your options are almost innumerable. There are some serious classics in this category, such as the Omega Seamaster, Tudor Black Bay, and Rolex Deepsea. Splurge on gorgeous pieces like the Hublot Oceanographic or a Patek Philippe Nautilus. You can also do well with affordable options like the Orient Mako II or something reliable from Seiko’s line of dive watches. Shop Dive Watches Conclusion of Watch Styles So which will you choose? A dress watch for more formal times? A field watch to go casual cool or a dive watch for something sporty? Why not just go with all three!

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  9. Zelos Watches: Top 3 Collections

    Zelos Watches: Top 3 Collections

    Some great affordable watch brands have had humble beginnings, and that’s certainly the case with Zelos Watches. A 2014 Kickstarter campaign took the Singapore-based brand’s assets from near zero to around $80,000. This allowed founder Elshan Tang to break into the microbrand market. In the years since Zelos watches shown serious staying power with stunning designs and solid workmanship at reasonable prices. Most models featuring sapphire crystals, automatic movements, and high-grade materials such as 316L stainless steel. Zelos watches prove that high quality can come at a low cost. At least low when compared to more upscale brands such as Rolex and Omega, as the Zelos prices run the gamut from about $300 to $1,300. So what do we have in this price range that’s well within the reach of most watch lovers? Let’s take a look at three of their top collections. Relish Retro Style with the Hammerhead Drawing inspiration from cherished cushion-shaped dive watches from the 1960s and 1970s, the Hammerhead combines a vintage design with the technology of today. Hammerhead sharks are stealthy and strong. They’re often found stalking prey along the pressure-heavy ocean floor and using their namesake heads as weapons when they come across a quarry. So too the Zelos Hammerhead is one tough timepiece, with cases of either 316L steel or marine-grade bronze. For maximum protection, a double-domed anti-reflective sapphire crystal tops the dial, while the display caseback is similarly made of sapphire. Photo from zeloswatchesThe Hammerhead’s bezel continues the commitment to toughness with the option of zirconium-oxide ceramic. It is incredibly resistant to scratches, abrasions, and corrosion. The material is gauged several times more durable than stainless steel. It measures at an impressive 1,500 HV on the Vickers hardness test. Water-resistant up to 1,000 meters with a screw-down crown, the Hammerhead was literally built for swimming with sharks. For something truly unique, go with the meteorite version with a dial and bezel made from a meteorite. A meteorite, meteorite? Yup, a big old rock that was formed billions of years ago, hurtled through space for millennium on end, plummeted to earth in a fiery fall and then got sourced for a watch. Meteorite models are one of a kind as the patterns of no two space rocks are the same. Chroma for Minimalist Charm While the Hammerhead offers a big dose of bravado, the Chroma Collection comes in with subtle and understated warmth. With 42mm diameters, you might think that Chromas wear large, but the lack of lugs makes them come off considerably smaller than their actual size would suggest. Photo from zeloswatchesChroma watches do share some of the Hammerhead’s attributes in terms of toughness, such as sapphire crystals front and back, 316L stainless steel, bronze, or carbon fiber cases, along with water resistance up to 50 meters. But they also have finer sides, with versions that mix satin-brushed and polished stainless steel finishes with rose gold plating. Adding an elegant touch, 20mm straps are crafted from waxed crazy horse leather, coveted for the antique look they acquire as they age gracefully. The most affordable timepieces Zelos offers, nearly all of the watches in the Chroma line are priced between $269 and $299, with a few exceptions. One such outlier that’s priced at $499 is a limited edition made of Damascus steel, an alloy often used in making high-end knives that finishes with an eye-catching wood grain pattern. And these are all especially nice given the price, as they’re not quartz but actually automatics with Miyota 821A movements. Skyraider Takes Aviation to a New Era Zelos looked back to World War Two for inspiration in its latest aviation watch, named after the Douglas A-1 Skyraider. The famous fighter plane was revered for its resilience, serving as the last propeller-driven aircraft to fly missions for the United States Air Force. And while the design of the Skyraider Collection takes cues from classic pilot watches, we also get a modern take with meteorite and skeletonized dials among its contemporary notes. Photo from zeloswatchesCases go on the larger side with 42.5mm width and lug-to-lug spans of 50mm. And we go seriously Old School with a classic manual-wind movement. An ETA 6498 caliber with 44 hours of reserve power that originally got its start in pocket watches. The large crown is not screw-down and has no crown guards. That means it gives the watch a truly vintage look of pilot watches from a time gone by. Dials are eye-catching, each unique in their own distinct ways. The titanium and bronze case models offer dial options. Options including skeletonized, meteorite, and “atmosphere blue” with a turbine pattern and a gradient that goes from blue to black. A Muonionalusta meteorite that plummeted to what we today call Sweden about a million years ago offers a one-of-a-kind pattern. The skeletonized version shows us the inner workings, topped by hands with a generous amount to C3-Super-LumiNova. That guards against legibility issues we sometimes see with skeletonized watches. Zelos Watches Conclusion Following that first fateful Kickstarter campaign, Elshan Tang did more. Elshan went on to create a series of successful crowd-sourced initiatives. He raised more than a million dollars for his watchmaking enterprises. Most days you can find him hunched over a workbench at his Singapore studio. As he is busy working on the next great Zelos watches.

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  10. 5 Reasons Why Mk II Watches Are Good Watches

    5 Reasons Why Mk II Watches Are Good Watches

    You may wonder if Mk II watches are indeed good watches. It’s a fair question as the microbrand has flown somewhat under the radar and occupies an odd space in the watchmaking world. They do homages, contemporary takes on classic designs that could be disastrous in the wrong hands. But Mk II watches do this arguably better than anyone else. Here are a few reasons why. 1: The Spirit of Bill Yao Founder Bill Yao is about as hands-on as a company head can get. Literally. He’s often found at his workbench agonizing over every little detail on whatever watch he’s currently fixated on. A graduate of the elite Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Yao turned away from the world of high finance and a lucrative career on Wall Street. Instead, he followed his love of tinkering with timepieces and started making aftermarket parts for Seiko watches. That passion project would eventually lead to his launching Mk II Watches in 2002, based in the suburbs of Philadelphia where Yao was born and raised. Photos from mkiiwatches officialAnd while Mk II has a range of ready-made offerings, they’re equally known for their customizations that are done by Bill himself. That kind of personalized attention requires patience from his loyal fans, who can wait months or even years until their one-of-a-kind creation is complete. 2: The Turbulent Tale of the Kingston If you’ve heard nearly nothing about Mk II, which is the case for many a non-watch-geek, the little you have heard probably involves the Kingston. It’s the watch that put the fledgling company on the map and nearly caused its downfall. It started with a simple idea. Yao wanted to create a watch that payed tribute the Rolex Submariner Reference 6538 worn by Sean Connery in the James Bond flick Dr. No. Sounds straightforward enough. He wanted to build it to match Rolex quality and offer that high-end craftsmanship at a price of just over $1,000. Okay, ambitious, but plausible given Yao’s skills. Soon enough, 100 trusting customers made pre-orders. Photos from mkiiwatches officialBut the financial crisis that was rippling across the world in 2009 had its say. From vendors to assembly and quality control, you name a stage of the watchmaking process and there was a problem facing Yao. Delays led to more delays, with months turning into years. Some customers even accused Yao of fraud. But, after five harrowing years, the last of the initial orders was delivered, though with little profit to show for the years of pain. Then fortune took a turn. The Kingston was so well received that nobody even talked about the disastrous rollout. Reviews were glowing. Some people started reselling the watches for two and three times the price they just paid. Many felt the homage actually outdid the original Rolex! Yao was suddenly famed for homage watches, renowned for creating affordable masterworks that were well worth the wait. Mk II had arrived. 3: They Transcend Homages Say the word “homage” and you can almost feel the collective eye roll of serious watch aficionados. But for Mk II watches, “homage” is a guiding principle, with a very specific meaning. That’s why the company is named Mark 2, as in the second version, common in military speak. Mark 2 is the new chapter in a watch’s story. So for Mk II, this second evolution of a timepiece means capturing the original style of watches from the past and making them more accessible with today’s technology. Mk II has some strict rules about how they handle homages. First, in order for a watch design to get the homage treatment, it must be at least 15 years old, and preferably much older. You can’t pay homage to a contemporary timepiece, that’s not how homages work. Second, the functionality of the homage must be equal to, or better than, the watch that they’re honoring. They don’t do cheap knock-offs. Third, the homage should bring value to a watch’s story. Changes and modern interpretations on original designs take the initial intent into account and attempt to honor that intention rather than simply go for similarity. 4: Modern Military Style Among the list of things that Mk II watches does well in, and that’s a solid list, perhaps none is better than making military-inspired watches. Photos from mkiiwatches officialThe Mk II Paradive goes in a different direction with its homage to military watches, notably with the Gen 3 model that mirrors the Benrus Type I divers watch that was issued to US soldiers during the Vietnam War. While looking decidedly modern, the Gen 3 echoes the style of the Benrus on its dial, bezel, and case without ever slipping into tactless imitation. Drawing inspiration from Rolex and Tudor’s MilSub, the Fulcrum is what Mk II likes to call its “American MilSub.” The Fulcrum is unique in the Mk II line as it doesn’t pay homage to any specific model, but rather the genre of vintage military watches as a whole. Instead of a diver-style rotating bezel, an American MilSub has a prominent twelve-hour unidirectional bezel. A bead-blasted steel case wears on the large side at 42mm in diameter, with anti-magnetism and a sapphire crystal adding durability. It’s ready for action on a sturdy rubber strap. 5: A Nice Price From the beginning, affordability was at the heart of Bill Yao’s plan. The goal was to make luxury watches accessible through imitation. And the reasonable price tags of their ready-to-wear timepieces prove that Mk II watches have succeeded. Offerings in their Cruxible line are available online for about $650, while their Hawkinge models cost even less at under $600. Their Paradive watches come in at just under $900. And for true bargains, they’re accepting pre-orders for their Stingray II and Tornek-Rayville watches at $450 each. Photos from mkiiwatches officialNone of this is to say that a Rolex isn’t worth the cost. Or that an homage to an Omega is better than the real thing. But if you broaden your thinking a bit, and understand the motivation behind an homage watch, a creation from Bill Yao’s MKII workshop just might be the next timepiece you put on your wrist.

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  11. An Introduction to Monta Watches

    An Introduction to Monta Watches

    Given the surge of boutique watch brands in recent years, Monta Watches may not have hit your radar screen. But maybe they should have. While headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, the microbrand makes all of its watches in Switzerland. They have a passion to preserve the centuries-old tradition of fine Swiss watchmaking. In less than five years Monta has earned the respect of watch aficionados. They’ve offered some serious competition to established brands. Let’s take a closer look at this American-born Swiss-made success story. It Started with the Oceanking In 2016, Monta watches debuted its first-ever offering. The Monta Oceanking may have been new but it owed much of its makeup to the greatest dive watches in the history of horology. Specifically, those from the 1950s, as the Oceanking is an unashamed homage to classics like the Rolex Sea-Dweller, Omega Seamaster, Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, and others that captured the imagination of adventurous watch lovers decades ago. The connection to Rolex is even deeper (pardon the pun) as the founders of Monta watches hail from Everest Horology, which produces rubber straps for Rolex sports watches. Photo from montawatch officialIn design, the Oceanking checks all of the boxes that all great dive watches should. A 40mm stainless steel case has a large nearly-onion-shaped crown for easy underwater gripping. Its bearing-mounted bezel is equally grip-friendly. Plus there’s water resistance up to 1,000 meters. An anti-reflective domed crystal tops a non-nonsense matte dial with easy legibility that serves well in undersea situations and presents subdued sophistication on land. And while the case has notes that echo a contemporary Rolex Submariner, its beveled edges and polished flanks give it a truly unique feel. Comparisons to other luxury dive watches get even better when you consider the Oceanking’s price point of around two grand. Monta Watches, Then Came the Triumph In strictly branding terms, one might have thought the Triumph Field should have been Monta’s debut timepiece. The name Monta, derived from “mountain,” is an ode to the company’s connection to Everest. It stands to reason that a watch designed for mountainous terrain would have come first. But we didn’t meet the Triumph Field until Baselworld 2017. It has some design elements that echo the Oceanking. One could call the Triumph Field a military spin-off of Monta’s first-ever watch. Photo from montawatch officialIt has a case diameter of 38.5mm and 9.6mm thickness. The Triumph is slightly smaller than the Oceanking, but wears just about as big given the heft of its broad lugs. The stainless steel case mixes finish with polished (chamfers, for example) and brushed (planes) surfaces. That continues the unique mix on the bezel, bracelet, and clasp. The dial follows the Oceanking’s no-frills approach. Flip it over to find a display case back that lets you get a look at the Swiss-made Sellita SW-300 automatic movement. And while the Triumph Field falls squarely into the tool-watch bucket, it wears well in dressy situations, equally at ease on a link bracelet or a sturdy rubber strap as it is on fine leather for more formal occasions. Things Soar with the Skyquest GMT Another Monta watch we met at Baselworld 2017, the Skyquest GMT again serves as an homage to the great tool watches of the 1950s. This time we harken back to the revered Rolex GMT Master Ref. 6542, first made for Pan Am pilots in 1954 and today beloved by collectors for its once-groundbreaking ability to track dual time zones with a glance to the wrist. Photo from montawatch officialWe owe some of Skyquest’s design to the Oceanking. This could also be considered a spin-off, a GMT version of Monta’s firstborn. Just as Rolex did when they rolled out the Submariner and its GMT-Master cousin together back in 1954 at the Swiss Watch Show that would become Baselworld. Even the names of Monta’s “Oceanking” and “Skyquest” sound like they could be part of the Rolex family. More on Skyquest But the Skyquest departs from Rolex’s influence in a number of intriguing ways. Skyquest’s ramp-up GMT hand is more reminiscent of classic Seiko models than Rolex. The coin-edge bi-directional bezel features a target-shaped and lumed pip at the 12’clock position. Available in two finishes, black and gilt, the Skyquest dials don’t spare the lume and are super bright with an intensity that rivals pro dive watches. Rhodium-plated sword hands and red accents offer a vintage feel without going old-timey. Photo from montawatch officialThe Skyquest’s stainless steel case also mixes brushed and polished finishes. While its Sellita SW330 automatic GMT movement has 25 jewels and a power reserve of 42 hours. Priced in the $1,600 to $1,900 range, this is not the cheapest GMT out there, as the market today is flooded with automatic GMTs you can pick up for under a grand. But the quality and craftsmanship of the Skyquest is comparable to that of luxury watches found at much higher prices. Monta Watches Conclusion If you’re in the market for a fine tool watch, you can, as many do, look to the established brands like Rolex, Hublot, and Tudor, to name a few. Or turn your eyes to emerging brands who have looked back to watchmaking heritage to stake out new paths ahead. Monta watches will likely one day spawn its own new generation of watchmakers intent on continuing the tradition.

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