Airain Type 21 Re-Edition

One of the most enduring types of classic watch designs are military timepieces intended for pilots. The golden era for this was the middle of the 20th century when a variety of companies would produce spec watches for military organizations around the world. Rather than come up with entirely original designs, brands would make products to fit rubric design specifications set forth by military organizations. One of the most famous types of military pilot watches during the 20th century was the Type 20 and, later, the Type 21 dial designations. Many companies produced watches with Type 20 or Type 21 dials, including Airain. Originally founded by the Dodane family (another brand that made these types of military aviation chronograph watches), Airain produced Type 20 and Type 21 watches in the 1950s and 1960s. Airain is back today under Dutch ownership but with proudly Swiss Made products. Airain has already released “re-edition” versions of its Type 20 dial watches, and today, I review the Airain Type 21 Re-Edition reference 423.438 watch, which does a great job of offering a vintage military watch-wearing experience with entirely modern materials and construction. high quality replica watches

The Airain Type 20 and Type 21 Re-Edition watches are similar in design, style, and price. They also both launched as limited-edition/limited-production models that Airain claims will later be part of its permanent collection. The original Type 21 dial designation was intended to be a slightly tweaked Type 20, with what I understand was a bit more focus on legibility and refinement. Practically speaking, your preference between the Type 20 and Type 21 dial is going to be a matter of taste. I prefer the Type 21, as the dial is just a bit simpler, more elegant, and more legible, to my eye.
Some vintage-style watches feel thoroughly modern when worn and handled, and others are designed to replicate some of the look and actual feel of original models. The latter is the approach Airain took with the Type 20 and Type 21. The cases are modest in size, the designs are thankfully restrained, and the sapphire crystals over the dials are designed to look like an old acrylic crystal in terms of its shape and how the dial looks when viewed through it. Airain even decided to use a manually wound (versus automatic) movement to go with the “classic” wearing experience. Another benefit of using a manual movement is that it allows the case to be thinner.

The Airain Type 21 case is in polished steel, is 39mm wide (39.5mm wide at the bezel), and just 10.9mm thick (not including the crystal, which adds about two more millimeters). The case has a modest lug-to-lug length of 47.7mm and is water resistant to 50 meters (without a screw-down crown as that would make regular winding less convenient). This is a good opportunity to complement the crown design, which is comfortable to operate and doesn’t look disproportionately big in size.
The countdown bezel is an attractive and distinguishing feature of the Airain Type 21 case. It moves relatively securely even though it is bidirectional, and allows you to track or countdown anything you want using markers on the bezel. The matching steel-on-steel look of the bezel is visually appealing. Airain decided to use an “old radium” color for the luminant on the hands and hour markers. I am a fan of this color, as I find white to be too harsh. These khaki colors mixed with a black face always look pleasing to my eyes. There is little original about the dial design since most watch lovers are familiar with the chronograph dial look of Type 20 and Type 21 dials. With that said, Airain gets a lot of the details correct and succeeds in creating a sexy, historical, and still serious visage for the Type 21 Re-Edition. high quality replica watches
What is inside the Type 21? You can’t see the movement through the back of the case as Airain wanted the Type 21 to have a simple, instrument-style military watch caseback. The brand refers to the movement inside the Type 20 and Type 21 Re-Edition watches as the Airain AM2. This is a Sellita SW510-based modern chronograph movement, which has the automatic winding system removed and displays a 30-minute chronograph on the dial. It should be noted that the column-wheel controlled chronograph also has a flyback complication, which allows the chronograph to be immediately reset without having to be stopped first. The movement operates at 4Hz and has 63 hours of power reserve. Airain further claims that the movements are individually tested (to five positions) and regulated for peak accuracy and performance. I will admit that I prefer automatic-winding watches, but given the them here I don’t mind having to manually wind this timepiece since it is actually a pleasure to do so.
The Type 21 Re-Edition is not a budget watch, and accordingly, Airain includes high-end packaging as well as an extra strap light brown suede strap option. Airain even includes two different buckles that you can swap out, although I would have preferred if the brown strap did not require the exact same hardware as the black strap. That means if you want to swap out the straps regularly, you also have to swap out the buckle hardware – which isn’t ideal. It should not be a complicated fix for Airain to include just a few extra small metal parts in the kit to solve this issue.

Even if you have little interest in military aviation history or care that Airain used to supply timepieces to the French military, the Type 21 can be a very satisfying product. These types of classic-looking sports watches are enduringly popular because they are fashionable and rarely inappropriate for a setting. Mid-20th century “professional” watches of this type endure today in many forms whether they were designed for divers, drivers, flyers, or fighters. Conservative good looks, a slight air of adventure and class, and enthusiast appeal help make timepieces like the Airain Type 21 a success. I’ve certainly found it an easy choice to wear given its modern durability, sensible size, and casual style. high quality replica watches

Patek Philippe 5396G Annual Calendar Shines Bright

This year at Watches & Wonders, Patek Philippe introduced the white gold 5396G Annual Calendar, which adds a gradient blue dial and diamond baguette indices to the existing collection.

The 5396G is still a 5396, with a white gold case measuring 38.5 by 11.2mm and water resistant to 30 meters. Patek’s caliber 26‑330 S QA LU 24H is visible through a sapphire caseback and powers the annual calendar, moonphase, and a center sweep seconds hand. The day and month sit in-line below 12 o’clock, while the date is cut out of the subdial at 6 o’clock
The sunburst blue dial has a gradient that transitions to black by the minute track. The combination of the sunburst effect and smooth gradient has a subtle effect that keeps the dial more interesting than a typical flat treatment otherwise might. Sharp dauphine hands and a sweeping seconds finish off the look. The 5396G is delivered on a matching shiny blue alligator strap with a deployant clasp.

The Patek 5396G Annual Calendar has an MSRP of $63,510 – for reference, it’s $6,000 more than the existing 5396R that remains in the catalog.

Taking a step back for a moment, the Patek 5396 Annual Calendar was introduced way back 2006 as the first annual annual calendar in a Calatrava-style case; remember, the first Patek annual calendar was only introduced a decade earlier. Patek last updated the 5396 lineup in 2016 on the 20th anniversary of the complication. Now, the reference gets its most dressed-up treatment yet. Patek has used the blue gradient dial and baguette indices combinations a few times now; I particularly appreciate it in the 5170P, Patek’s first chronograph with an in-house caliber. Using the combination for its long-running annual calendar reference feels like a fitting tribute to the 5396. Doing it in platinum would’ve been a real statement, but perhaps platinum should stay (mostly) reserved for a higher comp like this year’s 5236P. Is the 5396 worthy of the baguette treatment? I dunno, but whenever I think of the reference I remember John Mayer waxing poetically about the limited-edition 5396G for Tiffany & Co. with a black dial and Breguet numerals. That watch was limited and more special than this version, but if the 5396 was good enough for Mayer and Tiffany & Co., surely it’s befitting of baguette indices. More broadly, baguette indices are one of my preferred modes of putting diamonds on a dial. It feels a bit more subdued than many other takes on diamond setting, as much as a bunch of diamonds can ever really be subdued. But it works well in Rexhep Rexhepi’s Rubis or Diamont, and it looks to succeed here, too. Combined with the typical gradient blue dial, it makes for a compelling addition to Patek’s annual calendar lineup.

Piaget Altiplano Concept Tourbillon

This year is Piaget’s 150th anniversary, and after digging into its heritage for the release of the Polo 79, now it’s showing off the technical watchmaking the manufacturer is most known for: ultra-thin. The Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon is just 2mm thick, the same thinness as the original record-setting Altiplano from 2018, but now Piaget has managed to add a tourbillon, making it the world’s thinnest tourbillon.

Let’s not waste any time, here’s what its profile looks like: The new Piaget AUC features a cobalt blue case that’s blue PVD-treated and measures 41.5x2mm. Most importantly, it’s powered by the Piaget caliber 970P-UC, a manual caliber with a one-minute peripheral tourbillon and 40-hour power reserve. According to Piaget, it had to redesign 90 percent of the movement to accommodate a tourbillon, which requires 25 percent more power from the mainspring. It takes the title of world’s thinnest tourbillon from the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon, which comes in at a positively chunky 3.95mm. high quality replica watches
While the caliber has been reworked, the principle of the AUC stays the same: the case and movement are one. In other words, the movement’s components are directly integrated into the caseback. The tourbillon rotates at 10 o’clock and the uncovered mainspring barrel sits prominently at 6 o’clock. The tourbillon uses ball bearings instead of pivots to rotate; this construction also allows Piaget to execute a sapphire opening in the caseback that makes the tourbillon visible. high quality replica watches

Price is on request, but to give you an idea, the original record-breaking Altiplano Ultimate Concept (without tourbillon) had a price north of $400,000. So you’ll have a thinner watch and wallet.

Even after picking up the Piaget AUC, it makes no sense. Like, you see the little tourbillon spinning inside, dutifully making its once-per-minute rotations, and you think to yourself, “surely, a watch that’s about as thick as my credit card can’t accommodate a spinning cage, right?” But it can and it does.
In many ways, Piaget is ultra-thin watchmaking. While Bulgari has reclaimed the title of the world’s thinnest watch with the new Octo Finissimo Ultra (1.7mm thin), Piaget’s after a different prize. I’m not sure my eyes are actually capable of perceiving the 0.3 difference between these two watches, nor can my mind comprehend how a tourbillon can spin freely in those cramped quarters. Or how Piaget managed to power that whirring mechanism? Sure, the manufacturer says it had to find a more powerful spring with a thicker blade, and it fit most of the gear train on ball bearings to minimize friction. high quality replica watches

Yes, I want Piaget to focus more on finding ways to revisit its heritage. But ultra-thin watchmaking is in its blood, too. With all of these watches chasing ultra-thin superlatives, we’re well beyond the realm of practicality. Brands are shaving tenths of a millimeter off of millimeters just because they can.

The Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon is a watch that has to be seen to be believed, but even after that, I’m not sure I comprehend it.

A Solid-Gold Rolex Deepsea

Raise your hand if you ever plan to dive 12,800 ft. down someday. Okay, now put on the new Rolex Deepsea on your wrist and try raising your hand again. Do it 10 more times. Is your arm tired? This new “dive watch” weighs a reported nearly 320 grams – nearly three-quarters of a pound. To put it into context, Vacheron announced the most complicated watch in the world yesterday and it weighs less than three times this watch. Even the watch I believe is the heaviest wristwatch ever made – the AP Royal Oak Offshore ref. 25721 – isn’t far off at 429 grams. But in a “hold my beer” moment for Rolex, this watch goes 39 times deeper than the Offshore. That means it might be the most unnecessary “tool” watch Rolex (or anyone) has ever released, and yet, sometimes, things go far past the part of making sense that they absolutely rock.
While Ben Clymer (below) can pull it off as a yacht rock look with a double-breasted suit and white dress shirt, we all can’t be so lucky. This watch isn’t just heavy, it’s BIG – 44mm x 17.7mm of nearly solid gold swagger (swagger I definitely don’t have). Those are the same dimensions as the Oystersteel-cased Deepsea ref. 136660 that was released in 2022. But this watch is an entirely new ballgame in so many ways.

It has a 5.5mm crystal and a helium escape value, and even with all that, the new Deepsea now has a blue lacquer dial to match the blue Cerachrom bezel unidirectional dive bezel with yellow gold numerals and accents. Oh, and there’s no “Sea-Dweller” on this watch. Instead, the dial boldly proclaims “Deepsea” in gold text, which is where a watch this heavy would drag you if you’re not careful. To borrow one of my favorite Ben-isms (something he says whenever we’ve seen or heard about a watch that’s so crazy, ridiculous, or unexpected that it’s hard to understand), “What are we even talking about anymore?”
That’s because, among a few other (and probably more important) changes, the Deepsea now stands on its own giant feet as a separate collection from the Sea-Dweller. This doesn’t just dwell in the sea, it commands the sea while commandeering your wrist space at the same time. You’ll no longer see “Sea-Dweller” on the Oystersteel dials either, which technically means that Rolex kind of introduced two new steel watches without telling us, or at least new generations of dials on the “D-Blue” and black-dialed Deepseas. It’s a realization I’m coming to while writing this story, so I’m glad you can be along for the ride of discovery.
If you look closely around the edge of the dial, you’ll see that yes, the watch has a helium escape value (as advertised in bold letters) and you might sneak a peak at it in a photo further down, but frankly, I was so overwhelmed by the wildness of this watch that I barely paid it any attention. There’s also a new compression ring made of blue ceramic, which works with the HEV and ensures water-tightness to those insane depths listed on the dial.
The other thing I forgot to photograph in the moment was that the Oyster clasp includes Glidelock, which gives you 10 notches, each adding 2mm of length to the bracelet (20mm total) so you can fit the watch over a wetsuit. I’ll put a picture below (after a photo to remind you how thick and how much gold we’re talking about) because it’s kind of amazing that Rolex went all-in on treating this watch like it was just your average Deepsea that folks will be taking to do things like… I don’t know, saturation diving to work on oil rigs? If that’s your gig and this is going to be your new watch, I’d love to hear from you.
If you’re dying to be the ’80s yacht rock saturation diver, you might have to put up with the fact that the caseback isn’t solid gold. Instead, it still remains RLX Titanium, which I get the impression isn’t a weight savings measure – that ship has sailed faster than and in the same way as I blow my “diet” plans at Thanksgiving time – but rather another measure to maintain strength under pressure.
The point, to me, is a bit of an afterthought, but if you’re the kind of person who can (and wants to) pull this watch off, you’re going to have to part with CHF 49,900. But man, you’re going to have a blast while wearing it.

As we passed this watch around the table, it was absolutely silly. My coworkers were in fits of laughter at the absurdity of the heft of this chonky, gold tool watch. People would put it on the wrist, wear it, pass it around, and ask for it back just to experience it one more time. Often, with any tool that’s become outdated in the face of technology, having fun is the entire point. Just because you can’t doesn’t mean you should, but it also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Thank god someone at Rolex shares that mentality. The same reason Rolex made it is probably similar to the reason most potential buyers will pick one up: because they can. Sure, that’s often an obnoxious reason, but in this case, I dig it.
So, who is this watch for? If “Her Deepness” Sylvia Earle – one of the most legendary marine biologists of all time – can wear a gold Datejust on her “casual” diving trips, this watch could be for anyone. While people aren’t likely to be diving to 12,800 ft. (which just so happens to be the average depth of the Atlantic Ocean) there’s a giant part of me that wants to strap this watch to my wrist and see what it’s like to wear the best, most unnecessary, most outrageous, and maybe most giddy-inducing release we’ve seen so far this year in the environment it was apparently designed for: deep-sea diving. But I’ll probably need to get two – one for each wrist – to balance things out so I don’t spend my entire dive swimming in circles.

Beach Stone Dial Oyster Perpetual: Malaika Crawford

As if we were on the same wavelength, Rolex teased its upcoming novelties in a short video on their various social media platforms. As always, it’s nearly impossible to decipher much from it, but in that video we saw what looks to be changes to bracelets, perhaps a new Sky-Dweller or a solid gold Datejust. There appeared to be a GMT-Master II in there as well as some interesting dial work and a curious yellow gold sports model with a caseback that had us scratching our heads (is it an exhibition style or a different metal?).
In any event, this just goes to show you what power Rolex wields when it comes to watch enthusiasts trying to figure out what they will and won’t do year in and year out. We certainly fall into that bucket and make it a yearly tradition to get clairvoyant with the Crown’s novelties. Last year we (okay, I) basically correctly foresaw the gold GMT and I’ll never let anyone forget it. This year our choices run the gamut from “obvious” to full-on funky. We made our Tudor picks yesterday, and now without further ado, here are our predictions for Rolex mere days ahead of Watches & Wonders 2024. Like we said yesterday, let us know what predictions you have in the comments and tell which of ours you like best!
Beach Stone Dial Oyster Perpetual: Malaika Crawford
Last year’s emoji Day-Date and celebration dial OP mean we all have carte blanche for anything our hearts desire in this round-up. I got swept up in the try-and-be-as-weird-as-possible approach and dreamt up some goofy colorful enamel heart-shaped gem-set novelties. My colleague TanTan brought me back down to earth with a more reasonable (but still enough of a fantasy to appease me) idea. How about a new take on “beach” Daytona dials. Why not remake pastel beachy colors and put them into OP cases? On bracelets. Obviously.

I say these 2024 beach dials should be close to the original concept and made of stone, TanTan wants pastel colored lacquer dials, but this is my “prediction” and so I am making executive decisions. We are going OG turquoise, yellow mother of pearl, pink mother of pearl, green chrysoprase/chalcedony. Okay, so the chances of this happening are slim but they are not impossible. And so if we are buying into this fantasy, let’s just go all the way “beach,” and make these in white gold.

This would be “new” for Rolex, no stone dial OP watches have been made. The modern OP is a relatively new Rolex model and was seemingly created to exist as a more moderately priced option, entry level we could say. But there is precedent to my prediction! Some of the rarest vintage stone dials are found in Datejusts, which was a similarly low-market model compared to the Day-Date at the time.

Pastel Colours for the Norqain Freedom 60 Chrono 40mm

Ben Küffer hit the ground running with the launch of his start-up watch brand Norqain in 2018. Thanks to a good network of family and friends associated with the watch industry, Ben counted on the support of his father, Marc Küffer, who owned and managed a prominent Swiss private label manufacturer, Ted Schneider, a member of the family that owned Breitling for decades and other heavyweights like Jean-Claude Biver. With just three families of outdoor adventure-style watches, Norqain has managed to secure a solid footing in the market with its well-designed, more contemporary and fashionable models. Just ahead of Watches & Wonders 2024 and warmer weather, Norqain releases a trilogy of 40mm Freedom 60 chronographs with attractive pastel dials. The Freedom 60 Chrono sub-collection is Norqain’s slightly retro, 1960s-inspired chronograph. It was first released in 2020 with a 43mm case and two years later in a more compact 40mm diameter. The trilogy released today comes in compact 40mm diameter stainless steel cases with a thickness of 14.9mm and a lug-to-lug distance of 49.2mm. The case is mostly polished with brushed flanks and features a domed sapphire crystal that offers retro distortions at angles like old acrylic. Twin vintage pump-style pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock operate the chronograph functions, while the large screw-down crown contributes to the 100-metre water-resistance rating. On the left side, there’s a plaque with twin screws that can be personally engraved (or just have the brand’s name) and a recessed pusher at 10 o’clock for date correction. Three-strap options are offered with the new Freedom 60 Chrono models: a stainless steel bracelet, a black Perlon rubber strap, and a Nortide linen strap in either grey or ivory made from recycled plastic recovered from the ocean. The trilogy’s calling card is the new dial colours, although beady-eyed readers might remember that a Freedom model with a lovely Ice Blue dial was released last year. It was a limited edition of 300 units and sold out. Inspired by the warm colours of summer in Toscana, the dials come in Sky Blue, Pistachio and a limited edition of 300 units in a pretty Peach colour. Using a traditional tricompax layout, the sub-dials – black for the Peach and Pistachio and dark blue for the Ice Blue – are recessed and snailed with the 30-minute elapsed chronograph times at 3, the 12-hour totaliser at 6 and the small seconds at 9 o’clock. Snuck in between 4 and 5 o’clock, the date window features the same colour background as the dial and is relatively discreet. All three dials are decorated with a silky sunray-brushed finish and a black tachymetre scale on the periphery. The flat diamond-cut and rhodium-plated indices and hour and minute hands are treated with luminescence; depending on the colour of the dial, the Super-LumiNova varies. The Peach and Pistachio dial have Old Radium SLN on their indices and hands, while the Sky Blue dial has white SLN. Powering the watch is the calibre N19 (Sellita SW510a), an automatic, cam-type integrated chronograph based on the 7753 architecture. It has 27 jewels, beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) and delivers a slightly longer 62-hour power reserve than the calibre NN18 used in earlier editions of the Freedom Chrono 60.

The Longines Conquest Heritage Central Power Reserve

While it’s quite the challenge indeed for a dress watch to achieve certified “hyped” or “viral” status, I will say that the release of Longines’ Conquest Heritage Central Power Reserve back in January received a novel amount of buzz despite this fact. The relative fervor around this launch definitely piqued my interest, so when I had the chance to explore what the buzz was all about, I didn’t think twice.
Longines’ signature Conquest collection celebrates its 70th birthday this year, and the Conquest Heritage Central Power Reserve we have here was created in large part to honor this milestone. As the name suggests, the most novel detail of this piece, is, of course, the central power reserve indicator disk, which traces its roots back to a Longines design from 1959. Outfitted in contemporary 38mm sizing in stainless steel, this model remains true to its vintage predecessor but has just enough updates in terms of design, construction, and functionality to make it feel relevant right now – which is arguably the key to the success of any revival piece in this oversaturated genre, after all.
While I would normally subconsciously gravitate toward the champagne and yellow-gold model — undoubtedly the most, well, heritage-looking of the trio released in January – I thought it might be a fun time to exercise some flexibility, try something different, and challenge my tastes. And, I will say, that I liked the combination of grey and rose gold much better than I thought I would. Generally speaking, it’s a smart move for brands to present a model that stylizes a vintage reboot design in a modern color palette alongside more classic options for the traditionalists. The “something for everyone” ethos continues to be an effective one.
If you were to take a look at the 1959 model and compare it with this one, you’d notice that the dial layout is nearly identical between the two – the only thing missing is the brand’s winged hourglass emblem. While there is quite a lot of text (and quite a lot of typography), the date window at 12 and the power reserve disk give it an overall balanced impression. The design language is, you guessed it, decidedly mid-century – an era that lends itself particularly well to the dress watch category. From the applied indices to the shape of the hands to the trapezoidal outline of the date window, all of these elements work in concert to help maintain a classic – you might even say timeless – feel.
A unique feature of the central power reserve function is that it isn’t just one disk that rotates, but two concentric disks that can be wound automatically or by hand thanks to the Longines caliber L896.5 within. Another quirk of the power reserve disk is that while it is only numbered up to 64, the reserve is capable of up to 72 hours of power, and is indicated by the last pip. This movement beats at a VPH of 25,200, is equipped with a monocrystalline silicon balance spring, and can be seen in action through the sapphire crystal caseback.
Here is where I will launch into my main gripe about this piece – the lugs (which have a 19mm lug width, for those interested). While I was excited about their short, truncated size, having it on my wrist I immediately felt that they were not quite curved enough. On each side, a gap was created between the lugs and leather strap and my wrist, a space hovering between that made me feel ill at ease. However, I will say that this could have been due to the strap that this watch was paired with was fresh out of the box, and its stiffness exacerbated this hovering dynamic in a way that a more well-worn strap would not. Additionally, I will note that if you have a wrist larger than mine, this complaint will likely not be so acutely noticeable. That said, I didn’t mind the look of the 38mm diameter itself aesthetically and was quite taken with this watch’s slightly oversized presence on my wrist.
This watch, along with its two contemporary siblings, has joined the permanent lineup of Longines’ heritage collection – though its $3,800 price tag is significantly higher than many other members of the line. Is that price justified by the novelty of the central power reserve indicator itself? I don’t know, you’ll have to tell me. But after spending a few leisurely afternoons with this model, I will say that I understood why this watch so effectively charmed many of my fellow watch enthusiasts out there. And, it might have made me reconsider my misgivings about the combo of rose gold and grey that seems to be reaching peak popularity lately.

As Wrestling Star Kevin Von Erich In ‘The Iron Claw’

The first notable scene where we spot the two-tone Datejust is during Efron’s character’s wedding reception after he marries his wife, Pam (played by Lilly James). In a touching scene, the husband and wife, along with the whole Von Erich family, get together to celebrate. And there’s a viral line-dancing moment that took the internet by storm. And while Efron’s Kevin Von Erich wears his Datejust throughout the wedding, there’s a more special moment that features the watch. Kevin finds his younger brother David (played by Harris Dickinson) in the bathroom dealing with a yet-to-be-diagnosed ailment. The two sit on the floor of the bathroom, and as Kevin tells his brother that he’s expecting his first child, you can see the silhouette of the Datejust in the front of the frame. There are two other key scenes in which the Datejust gets a closeup. One is featured in the Rolex advertisement (explained briefly above) where Efron’s Kevin embraces his children at the movie’s end. The other comes shortly before that scene. It is a highly emotional moment in the film that I will not spoil. But the stakes of this scene cause Kevin to confront his father and engage in a full-on physical altercation. He takes his father to the ground and begins to choke him. And as he relents, and loosens his grip, the camera cuts to his hands and we see the champagne dial of the two-tone Datejust. It’s not a happy scene by any means, but a highly emotional one that shows the watch in the midst of a poignant moment. The Iron Claw, starring Zac Efron, Lily James, Harris Dickison, Jeremey Allen Wright, Holt McCallany, Maura Tierney, and Stanley Simons is directed by Sean Durkin with props by Stephen P. Noell. It is available to rent or own on Apple and

Why Are Some Watch Brands Underappreciated?

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s another episode of Hodinkee Radio. In addition to the podcast feed, each episode also has video, so swing by Hodinkee’s YouTube channel (or watch below). Only want the audio? It’s being published to the same old Hodinkee Radio feed, so check your feeds or subscribe wherever you find your podcasts (might we recommend Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or TuneIn) .
This week I’m joined by Ben Clymer and client advisor Rich Fordon. We cover a range of topics, but our main discussion is about underappreciated high-end watch brands. Using Laurent Ferrier as something of a case study, we discuss why an important watchmaker might not be recognized as such by the market, what went wrong, and what can be done to change the perception of a brand .

Before that, we offer quick takes on some of the biggest news of the last week: We talk about Audemars Piguet’s slate of releases, including John Mayer’s limited edition QP; the Morgan Stanley Luxe Consult report on the Swiss watch industry in 2023; finally, with Oscars season behind us, we pitch Hollywood a few watch-related movies.

Thanks again to Accutron for supporting Hodinkee Radio. For more on the Accutron DNA Casino Collection, visit

The Nodus x Raven Trailtrekker

What do you know? It’s me, James “GMT” Stacey, back with another solid entry into the value category for travel watches formed in a collaboration between two boutique sports watch brands – Nodus Watches of California and Raven Watches of Kansas. The resulting watch combines elements of each brand’s core lineup, taking specific inspiration from the Nodus Contrail and the Raven Trekker. The two formats come together in a hyper-matte travel watch that forms a nod to the American explorers who pushed west while heading towards California. It’s called the Nodus Trailtrekker. Starting with the broad strokes, the Trailtrekker is a 39.5mm steel watch that is 11.8mm thick and 46.6mm lug to lug. With 200 meters of water resistance, drilled lugs, a sapphire crystal, and a solid steel case back, it’s a straightforward offering that clearly takes some inspiration from the Rolex perspective on an adventurous watch that can manage two time zones.
Where we see a departure from the established proportions –and that bezel design – is in the Trailtrekker’s application of a full treatment of a matte grey-tone DLC finish. The treatment protects and colors both the case and the included steel bracelet, while the fixed 24-hour bezel goes a step further with a Cerakote ceramic coating. The coloring is a deep and very flat grey with just a bit of a sandy brown coloring that Nodus calls “clay”, and the treatment gives the watch a unique experience on wrist, one that looks like an exaggerated form of titanium (the watch has essentially no luster at all) and forms a stage for the highly legible dial design .

I have had a good deal of experience with Raven watches in the past, including lots of hands-on time with the brand’s Trekker series of dive-adjacent sports watches. I remain a fan of the brand and think they continue to offer the sort of product that helped to establish the idea of a “microbrand” over the past decade. I even highlighted the brand a few years ago in a consideration of the changing world of the microbrand (perhaps “boutique” brand is indeed a better description).
For Nodus, I have tracked the brand over the past few years. And though I’ve seen quite a few at meets up and Wind Ups in the past, I have had very little regimented experience with the brand’s products. That said, Nodus has earned a following by making fun watches at fair prices, along with collaborations with other enthusiast elements like The Smoking Tire, Random Rob, and Watch Clicker .

Much like Raven, if you enjoy boutique watch product, Nodus sits solidly in the $500-$1000 category and offers a wide variety of designs and colorways. I’d say it’s worth having both on your radar, especially as both brands are open to interesting collaborations and continue to focus on value-driven products. Back to the Trailtrekker, inside this watch, we find the increasingly popular Miyota 9075. It’s a 4 Hz automatic movement that offers local-jumping dual time functionality in which the user is able to jump-set the local (main) hour hand to update the watch to a new time zone without interfering with the accuracy/timekeeping of the watch. This is a movement made by Miyota, which is part of the Citizen group of brands, and we’ve seen it (or versions of it) used on several recent entries into the value-driven GMT market, including the Citizen Series 8 GMT ($1,695), the Bulova Oceanographer GMT (from $1,295), the value-packed Lorier Hydra SIII ($599), and options from additional brands like Vaer, Lip, Boldr, and Traska (to name only a selection).

Nodus goes a step further with the 9075 by regulating the movement in-house to a stated +/- 8 seconds per day. As I have a timing machine at home, I figured I would test that number on the loaner that I received. I measured the watch, fully wound, in six static positions, and this one averaged out at +7 seconds/day. Not bad at all. With a fixed bezel layout, the Trailtrekker’s obvious inspiration from the Rolex Explorer II (specifically the 16570, to my eyes) is mirrored in its 9075-derived functionality. So you get a layout that is great for tracking two time zones, with a specific function for changing from one time zone to another. If you want more of a breakdown concerning how a rotating bezel augments how one can use a GMT, please see this guide to using a GMT bezel. Seeing as the Trailtrekker’s bezel doesn’t rotate, the functionality could not be more straightforward, and its travel focus is complemented by a date a six (which adjusts in both directions tied to the local hour hand, thanks again to the 9075) .

The case design is smooth, with softly faceted lugs, protruding crown guards, and a black knurled crown. The short, drilled lugs meet the bracelet via solid-fitted endlinks that have tool-less quick-release spring bars. The bracelet’s links are thin, with plenty of articulation for comfort and the added plus of single-sided screws (which make the bracelet very easy to size). Tapering from 20mm at the lugs to 16mm at the clasp, the solid steel clasp also includes a push-button closure and a fully integrated tool-free micro-adjust system called NodeX. The system, which is proprietary to Nodus but is available for licensing by other brands, is entirely built into the clasp and offers a simple button that releases a sliding extension that offers 10mm of adjustability. It’s no harder to use than Tudor’s T-Fit system, and I know I’m not alone in my continued appreciation of brands that add this functionality to their bracelets.

As a guy who has largely avoided bracelets for years, the ability to finely adjust the fit makes the whole concept much more comfortable on my wrist. While these design elements are not unheard of by many brands, the Trailtrekker checks the boxes while also still costing less than you’d pay for a bracelet for many luxury steel sports watches. Sure, these elements may not matter or even register on the radar for the average watch buyer. But for the qualified enthusiast – i.e., you, me, and our (mostly online) friends – these small elements can have a big effect as we weigh one watch against another. The details matter, and I love that the microbrand/boutique space continues to offer value without nickel-and-diming us out of the features that make the watches easier to live with. Aside over.

On-wrist, the Nodus Trailtrekker lives up to its proportions with a relatively lightweight experience that offers a specific, pseudo-tactical experience that contrasts the matte finish with a legible dial set with Nodus text, the Raven logo, and a see-it-from-space oversized orange-yellow GMT hand that reaches all the way to the edge of the dial with a distinctive shape hallmarked by its chopped tip. With large applied markers and matching brushed-finish hands, the lume on the Trailtrekker uses Super-LumiNova BGW9 that glows a strong blueish hue in low light. The framed date at six takes the place of the marker and uses a black-on-white date wheel for an easy-reading effect .

Sized for my 7-inch wrist, the Trailtrekker weighs 140 grams and is quite comfortable, especially thanks to the NodeX micro-adjust system. The flat links and short lugs ensure that the watch maintains an even balance. The contrast between the 12-hour and 24-hour handset aids in further simplicity when it comes to reading either of the displayed time zones. Included with the watch is a second strap option, an olive green NATO-style strap made from a ballistic fabric. I’ve been up and down most of the NATO-like options on the market and haven’t come across something all that similar. It’s soft and pliable while feeling nicely made, casual, and quite comfortable. A nice addition to a complete bit of kit from Nodus and Raven.

Ultimately, and not unlike my experience with the Lorier mentioned above, I have very few complaints when it comes to the Trailtrekker. Yes, I would have personally opted for a less Rolex-inspired bezel design, but I also think the watch eschews that connection with its dial design and the fully grey coloring, which also helps to build a bit of distance from another similar watch – the Tudor Black Bay Pro (which is also a watch inspired by the Explorer II). That said, with a list price of $875, it is really the end of the world if the Trailtrekker bears some bezel-related resemblance to a Rolex? Or a Tudor meant to invoke the same (or at least similar) Rolex? As always, it’s up to you to vote with your wallet, but despite being an owner of a 16570 Explorer II, the similar bezel didn’t manage to bother me all that much, especially in person

Also, let’s not forget that the Nodus offers double the water resistance of the Rolex and matches that of the Tudor while being nearly 3mm thinner – for $875. And that’s not a short-term preorder price, as the Trailtrekker is not a limited edition. It launched today and goes on sale via Nodus on March 15th at 9 AM PST. As is common for boutique watches these days, production is planned in batches, and that’s largely an acceptable way of doing such things as long as the communication is clear with prospective buyers. As a modern interpretation of the boutique watch scene spurred onward by the availability of a novel movement, the Trailtrekker is an effective platform for the talents and perspectives of the teams at Nodus and Raven.

As literal enthusiast product – the watch equivalent of preaching to a very specific choir – the Trailtrekker appeals to the type that likes sports watches with good specs, meaningful details, travel-ready functionality, and a price point that hinges on solid value for the asking price. Is it for everyone? No, but that’s the fun of the enthusiast’s choice. In this case, I’m certainly among the choir, and I’m sure many of you are as well.