Men’s Pre-Selected Watches: Round Table Discussion Of The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2014
by Ian Skellern
From now until the end of October, we will bring you round table discussions on the pre-selected wristwatches in each category of the 2014 edition of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
This will give you the chance to listen to well-known tastemakers and journalists in the world of horology talking about their favorites in each category and the watches’ chances. And please don’t hesitate to let us know if you agree or not: taste is subjective.
Note: each contributor is responsible for his or her own opinion, and it may not reflect the stance of Quill & Pad.
Quill & Pad editor-in-chief Elizabeth Doerr may not participate in these round tables as she is one of the judges for the 2014 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève and must retain neutrality. In today’s edition you will read the following participants:
IS Ian Skellern, co-founder of Quill & Pad
JM Joshua Munchow, resident “nerdwriter” for Quill & Pad
GG GaryG, resident collector for Quill & Pad
RJB Robert-Jan Broer, founder of FratelloWatches
ER Ernie Romers, founder of WatchUSeek
These are men’s watches that do not have extra complications. Aside from purely telling the time, they may contain only two at most of the following indications: date, power reserve, classic moon phase, and second time zone. They may only contain a maximum of 5 ct of gems as embellishment.
It should be noted that our panel members did not discuss their final choices with each other beforehand and chose their predicted winning watches individually.
JM: Here is a category where I will probably be a bit disappointed with the choice, simply because I don’t think my two favorites will win. My first favorite is the MB&F Legacy Machine 101.
This is the first in-house movement for MB&F and follows the pattern of my favorite modern watch of all time, the original Legacy Machine 1. Simply put, it makes me the happiest to look at; the movement, dial, case, and amazing suspended balance all make me giggle with excitement. Basically, it is my style of watch in every way. That being said, I fear the jury will say they’ve seen this before, so they can’t really pick this one, plus its predecessor had a double victory in 2012.
ER: I’m also hesitant to immediately pick the MB&F Legacy Machine 101.
RJB: I would put my money on the MB&F Legacy Machine 101. Not only because, according to MB&F, it focuses on the essential part of the watch (the balance wheel) or the fact that it is MB&F’s first real in-house movement, but also because – with all due respect to the Horological Machine collection – the 101 is the first MB&F model that is really wearable.
Although I have a lot of love for the HM2 and HM3 models, I think a lot of watch enthusiasts also love a watch that is really wearable and looks like a watch in addition to being a stunning piece of horological art.
When I first laid my eyes on the Legacy Machine 1, I was flabbergasted. This was something I did not expect to see from MB&F, but upon closer inspection it is definitely a true MB&F timepiece. LM 101, the third piece in the Legacy Machine collection, has very modest dimensions compared to the first two and makes it in my opinion really wearable. At least I hope that the owners of all MB&F timepieces wear them, of course, instead of cherishing them in a safe or display!
A special mention on the finish of the movement: it is just stunning. Kari Voutilainen is the man responsible for specifying the nineteenth-century style hand-finishing of the MB&F LM101 movement.
GG: I love Kari Voutilainen, but I don’t think this is the year for either of the pre-selected watches to which he contributed: the MB&F LM 101 and the Urban Jürgensen & Sønner Central Seconds. Despite its claimed in-house movement, the LM 101 is for me too derivative of the earlier LM1.
And while the detent escapement of the Jürgensen remains a great accomplishment in a wristwatch and the addition of an indirect central seconds hand is interesting, it’s not “new” enough for me and the finishing is not at the incredible level of Kari’s own-brand watches.
JM: My second favorite is the Urban Jürgensen & Sønner Central Second. This is just a beautiful watch with an amazing movement, all finished to the maximum in my opinion. Its detent escapement and central seconds hand are very unique and impressive, especially considering the one-third of a second jump of the second hand with its 21,600 vph due to the function of the detent escapement. This is a fantastic and classic piece, and yet I fear it will be overlooked as well.
IS: While the rules of this category allow for two (relatively) minor complications, my bias, and often that of past juries, has been for simple, but beautifully executed, timepieces. So with that in mind, while the Breguet Classique Chronométrie is a watch I’d be very happy to own, I think that it has too much going on to be a contender here.
The same goes for the MB&F LM101, which, although it is simple in terms of indications, and is conservative as far as MB&F’s radical timepieces go, I think it is pushing the envelope too far for this generally conventional category.
GG: I’m calling this category for the Breguet. It has a really interesting movement, with its double balance spring, 10-Hertz frequency, and perhaps, most dramatically, the use of magnets to position the balance and provide shock protection. It’s a good-looking watch, too – if only Breguet would remove the “10Hz” script from the dial.
JM: My prediction for the winner is actually my third runner-up, and the same as Gary’s pick: the Breguet Classique Chronométrie. The last time Breguet won was in 2006 and that was the public prize. I think with this 10-Hertz, magnetic-pivot, double-hairspring marvel Breguet’s time has probably come again.
There can be no doubt of the awesomeness of the movement and the classic design of Breguet. I personally like the style and feel of my first two choices, but the Breguet does not play second fiddle technically, and for that I think it will be rewarded.
RJB: May I add another possible winner here? I think the buzz in Baselworld’s Hall 1 was at both the Tudor and Omega booth. The Tudor Black Bay in midnight blue has already proven to be a truly popular timepiece as it was delivered quickly after its introduction.
However, the Omega Seamaster 300 re-edition of the original 1957 Reference 2913 Seamaster 300 would be my pick in the “affordable” segment. At this time, it has not yet been delivered, but during Baselworld, and thereafter, the enthusiasm has been huge. Although I’ve seen re-editions of vintage watches before – even this year from several brands – it seems that Tudor and Omega did such a great job that they are both liked by people who aren’t into vintage watches at all as well as people who have a lot of love for vintage watches.
I can only imagine the discussions going on at the board meetings of these manufacturers about tiny details from the past and modern technology that “needed” to be in these watches.
IS: Both the Omega and Tudor are good, solid watches, but I think that they are too “sporty.” While the category definition doesn’t say men’s “dress” watches, that’s what I feel the jury is looking for here . . . as am I.
So that leaves me the Bulgari and the Urban Jürgensen. The Bulgari Octo Finissimo ticks all the boxes, and thin is definitely good as far as dress watches go. But my heart goes to the teardrop lugs, guilloche dial and gold-and-blued-steel Observatory hour hand of the Urban Jürgensen & Sønner Central Second. The detent escapement (which makes its debut in a serially-produced wristwatch) is the icing on the cake.
ER: My vote goes to the Tudor Heritage Black Bay. I had the privilege to see and handle it at Baselworld 2014, and was struck by its retro design, finish, beautiful blue bezel and crown design. For me this watch is the most no-brainer in the Men’s category, and in my humble opinion this is a watch for a large group of men (also considering the price range).
It’s also a watch that can be worn at almost any occasion: business, leisure, sports, parties. In short, this could very well be your new daily watch. It’s a new Tudor classic.
GG: Just one more added thought here: in any juried competition of this type, there are going to be a few head-scratchers for each of us, and this category has one for me. How could the charming and horologically interesting Van Cleef & Arpels Heures d’Ici et Heures d’Ailleurs have been omitted from the list of pre-selections? A travel watch with double jumping hours to communicate the two time zones in a case patterned after one developed by Pierre Arpels himself at a price point that makes it, in my view, good value for money? If I’m buying one watch this year that fits into this category, that Van Cleef is going to be the one.
The results are in, and the panel’s very different winners are:
Ian Skellern: Urban Jürgensen & Sønner Central Second
Joshua Munchow: Breguet Classique Chronométrie
GaryG: Breguet Classique Chronométrie
Robert-Jan Broer: MB&F LM 101
Ernie Romers: Tudor Heritage Black Bay
So, for the Men’s category each member of our panel has just about voted individually. If there is one winner here, it is the Breguet Classique Chronométrie with two panel members out of five voting for it.
For more information on the pre-selected Men’s watches:
Click here to vote www.gphg.org/watches/en/grand-prix-dhorlogerie-de-geneve/2014/PRE.
For more information on this year’s GPHG, please read New Jury And Categories At The 2014 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
To find out more about the MB&F LM 101, including the brand’s first in-house movement, please read: LM101 By MB&F: Distilling The Very Essence Of Time.
To read other GPHG round tables, please click: Ladies’ High-Mech Pre-Selected Watches: Round Table Discussion Of The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2014 and Ladies’ Pre-Selected Watches: Round Table Discussion Of The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2014.
Next up: the Chronograph category!
Also published on Medium.