It was June 2015 when I was bit by the vintage bug. I became enamored of those classic watches with wide boxy typography, thin cases, and a diameter that would actually fit nicely on my narrow wrist. Vintage aesthetics have since become the main influence on many of my drawings. To find a modern replication of the balance in vintage watches is rare (rarer still is when it is improved upon) and achieving that balance is something in the forefront of this pair of GMT watches.
Initially the main reason for redrawing this watch was to change the GMT track from a solid ring to the two semi-circles you see in the new version. I had wanted to create more of a day and night distinction. Upon examining the finished redesign, there are some regrets: it was a mistake to get rid of the red cross hair and I wish my red pen had a finer tip. One major positive change is the GMT hand, its arrow is closer to the center of the watch giving it a sharper appearance and there is a small point on the opposite end to remind you which of the twelve hours it is, once you pass noon. The other dial based changes involve the day and date windows. The date window has been moved down and changed into a trapezoid while the day window has been condensed. In retrospect it would also have been a good idea to change the day window to a trapezoid, allowing it to nestle in nicely with the GMT track.
The final major change is to the case. It has been significantly beefed up with a larger bezel and some pretty serious crown guards inspired by Lemania and Enicar watches. The vintage style is still there, but this is a watch that could take more of a knock in its current iteration.
10 July 2015 & 14 September 2016
Here we have a combination of ideas, all compressed into one watch. A monopusher chronograph, jumping digital indications (for the elapsed minute and hour counters), Breguet-style numerals, a thin vintage inspired case, a blued steel minute hand and a disc for the hour hand that could have been taken straight off of a JLC Memovox. The concept for the watch was an entirely selfish affair: I wanted to collect all of my favorite elements in horology and try to include them into one watch as a personal birthday present. The result was a concept prime for future improvement which is why this watch found its way into the review.
The goal this time around was not to combine a collection of elements I liked, but rather to distinguish each one on the watch as clearly as possible while still retaining the same style. The chronograph counters are placed further inwards on the dial, a change I realized was needed to both give more thickness to the walls of the case and to properly allow space for the discs to sit underneath the dial. The original watch had them so close to the edge of the dial it would probably be physically impossible to arrange them without overlapping the extremities of the case. Bringing the display for the chronograph counters in meant that the hour disc also needed to be made smaller. The hour and minute hands now also have lume as do the five-minute markers. Finally the case has been thickened and the lugs shortened to a more reasonable length. In my mind, it is still a special watch, but with these changes it is a bit more believable too.
Gigantic Balance Wheel
15 July 2015 & 16 September 2016
This watch came out of trying to combine the MB&F Legacy Machine with the Antoine Martin Slow Runner, or simply, the goal for this design was to put a voluptuously large, slow beating balance wheel on the dial side of a watch. Unfortunately I spent so much time trying to figure out what the balance wheel was going to look like that there was no time left to ink or color the drawing. It also appears that I forgot to draw an hour hand…
Well I am happy to say that some solid progress has been made on this watch: we now have some color on the dial and an all important hour hand. It appears however, that one hour was still insufficient to completely finish the drawing. The design has remained mostly the same: the layout, bridge, visible escape wheel and power reserve indicator have not budged. The hands are blued and capped, and there is a sector style dial for simple legibility. The balance wheel is closer in form to something you might find on a Voutilainen watch, and while the case is not colored, there has at least been some thought put into the shape and length of the lugs. I think the next step for the watch would have been to darken the dial a bit more and color in a rose gold finish for the case.
Inspiration from the Montblanc Homage to Nicolas Rieussec
13 August 2015 & 18 September 2016
The second chronograph in today’s article was inspired by a watch that I never expected to see in the metal: the Montblanc Homage to Nicolas Rieussec. Here is a watch that checks a bunch of my boxes. First of all, it is a monopusher chronograph with a non-traditional dial layout. It uses discs instead of hands, a unique shaped date aperture, it has a wicked set of oversized Breguet numerals (especially nice on the limited edition) and an eggshell dial. I was taking a rare vacation during August of 2015 when I chanced to see the limited edition of the Homage to Nicolas Rieussec at an authorized dealer. Thankfully the watch was too big for my wrist which aided in ending that particular watch crush, but it did inspire my own concept for a monopusher chronograph that used discs instead of hands.
The biggest reason why this watch is part of the review is because of one simple mistake. The original drawing is a chronograph that does not have an elapsed seconds hand. There is a little running seconds hand at 6 o’clock, but if you want to measure anything more specific than a minute, this watch is not for you. The other big flaw that I wanted to correct is the fact that the chronograph discs overlap the minute track which is a pretty big no-no in the world of chronographs. Luckily fixing those errors was a pretty quick affair and left plenty of time to adjust other parts of the design. Quarter marks were put in for the running seconds, the power reserve indicator was enlarged and hour dots were added. In what is becoming a trend in the OHW Review, the case was thickened and the lugs shortened. The dark grey monopusher was also changed from a concave to convex design for easier pushing, the crown was beefed up as well. After not being able to finish the previous watch, it seemed as if the Review was back on track with this successful redesign.
23 October 2015 & 20 September 2016
We are ending this week’s part with another chronograph. The original intent for this watch was to be a more formal, less sporty chronograph. The result was a large subdialed design that did not really achieve what it set out to do, but left some interesting cues to revisit. For the review, I decided to throw away the idea of a formal chronograph and work more with the concept of using a subdial layout of 2-6-10 instead of the traditional 3-6-9. Admittedly the 2-6-10 layout is not my favorite, watches like the Breitling Colt chronograph or the Swatch Irony Chrono simply do not strike my fancy while the plethora of cheap quartz chronographs that use this layout tend to elicit a gag reflex.
The redesigned watch eliminates the Breguet numerals, but keeps a piece of that family inspiration in the form of the thin 12-hour bezel similar to the Breguet Type 20. The new numerals come from the same vintage inspiration as the GMT watch that started this article. The alpha hands remain from the old design, however the running seconds hand looses its red color since it is not a chronograph hand. The coloring of the case could have used some extra minutes to smooth out the polished finish, however I feel that the current edits do add some much needed cohesion to the design. I am still on the fence when it comes to the 2-6-10 layout, but the watch design appears to be headed in an interesting direction.
That’s all for now. Do look out for next week’s article featuring the conclusion of the OHW Review.