Revolution and The Rake Special Edition Watches: A Retrospective Over Seven Years

Revolution and The Rake Special Edition Watches: A Retrospective Over Seven Years

By the time you read this article, Revolution Group, encompassing both Revolution and The Rake magazines, will have made 23 different special edition watches. And so, I wanted to take a moment to look back at these different timepieces that represent seven years of our history and thank both the amazing people that were involved in their creation as well as our readers who have supported us by purchasing them.

Our history in collaboration watches goes back to 2013, when we created our very first timepiece together with Audemars Piguet. This was followed up in 2015 on the 10th anniversary of our magazine with the creation of two watches, one with IWC and one with Panerai, and in the subsequent years, by watches in partnership with Bvlgari and Blancpain. In each instance, the watches that have emerged from our partnerships are representative of our great friendship with these brands and their leaders. In many ways this article is just as much about the stories and personalities behind the creation of each limited edition as it is about the watches.

2013 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Revolution Limited Edition
2013 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Revolution Limited Edition

The most important thing when approaching a limited edition watch is not to simply impose your taste or sense of design on a brand, but to find some way to activate part of its history or look at its icons in new and meaningful ways. Even as we intend to vigorously intensify our limited edition program in 2021, the point is that we would never create a frivolous watch; a watch that was a pure design exercise without an underlying rationale or, if you will, a raison d’être for its existence. Every single watch that we’ve made is always measured using one all-important metric, which is, would I buy it myself? So far I have, with the exception of one watch — my personal watch ended up being sold to a client who wanted it. Without further ado, here is a look back at the 23 watches over seven years that represent our creative partnership with some of our very favorite brands.


2013 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Revolution Limited Edition

A tribute to the original ROO from 1993, 42mm, limited to 20 pieces in steel

2013 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Revolution Limited Edition

One of my favorite watches is the original Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore designed by Emmanuel Gueit. I think his personal watch was recently auctioned off by Phillips, and if there was a piece that I would have liked to put on permanent display at the Revolution Watch Bar, it would have been this.

Why do I think it’s so cool? Think about it from the context of the time. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, big watches were definitely not a thing. In fact, Patek launched the 3970 in 1985 and made their perpetual calendar chronograph 1.5mm smaller than its predecessor, the 2499. So Gueit’s idea was absolutely nuts. I love that saying, “It’s only the dead fish that swims with the current”, and that perfectly summarizes Gueit who apparently harassed the hell out of everyone at Audemars Piguet until they finally conceded to make his wildly oversized Royal Oak on steroids. But instead of it being a weird anomaly in their line-up, it became a hit adopted in particular by the archetypal ’80s muscle man Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’ve always thought that its very first incarnation with the steel case and blue tapisserie dial was the most handsome. But by the 2000s, Audemars Piguet had discontinued this version and was focused on making Offshores in forged carbon, ceramic, etc.

The original Royal Oak from 1972
The original Royal Oak from 1972

I proposed to the super cool Oliviero Bottinelli, then the head of Audemars Piguet in Southeast Asia and whose family is on the board of Audemars Piguet, that we revive this icon for its 20th birthday but this time with a sapphire caseback and Audemars Piguet’s in-house 3120 movement instead of the venerable 2121. He liked the idea and pitched it to François Bennahmias who also liked the idea, and it was a done deal. The watch was made in 20 pieces, and the deal was, anyone who bought it had to come to Singapore to pick it up at a dinner. They would also be invited as Audemars Piguet’s guest to the Singapore F1. I am lucky enough to own piece number 1/20. In retrospect, I wish I had ‘“Revolution” on the caseback, but at the time I think I was just so amazed that Audemars Piguet agreed to this that I forgot to ask. As a result, people don’t realize today this limited edition was initiated by us and was based in Singapore. Now you know.

2013 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Revolution Limited Edition

2015 IWC Portugieser Hand-wound Revolution 10th Anniversary Limited Edition

A tribute to the Portugieser Jubilee IW5441 from 1993, 42mm, limited to 10 pieces in rose gold

2015 IWC Portugieser Hand-wound Revolution 10th Anniversary Limited Edition (©Revolution)

Georges Kern is one of my favorite leaders in the watch industry. He pretty much single-handedly took a cerebral Germanic creator of tool watches which, admittedly, is one of the most functionally innovative brands around and made it one of the hottest brands in the world. I’m talking about IWC, of course. I love all of its many achievements, including Kurt Klaus’ perpetual calendar, the first of its kind that was totally synchronized and operated through the crown; and Richard Habring’s Doppelchronograph and his Deep One with its bourdon tube driven depth gauge. And who else would build a grand complication using a Valjoux 7750 as its base as they did with Il Destriero Scafusia, “The Warhorse of Schaffhausen”, which features the world’s first titanium-caged tourbillon? But the watch I love best comes from 1993, and it is named the Portugieser Jubilee, or the reference 5441. What exactly is the story of the legendary ref. 5441?

IWC Portuguese Jubilee Reference 5441
IWC Portuguese Jubilee Reference 5441

In 1993, to celebrate the brand’s anniversary, IWC released a limited run of thin three-handed watches that would become one of the most iconic and collectible timepieces of the 20th century. This watch, known as the Portugieser Jubilee, was an extraordinarily faithful homage to the very first original Portugieser watches created in the 1930s. Portugal in the ’30s was actually one of the world’s hottest horological hotbeds. So it was that two Portuguese businessmen made their way to Schaffhausen and requested a particularly intriguing watch that completely militated against the contemporary trends in wristwatches. In the ’30s, men generally wore small wristwatches, in keeping with the prevailing aesthetic themes of the Art Deco and Art Nouveau periods. But what these two gentlemen, Rodrigues and Teixeira, wanted was something totally different. They wanted a wristwatch that featured the type of precision normally found in a marine chronometer.

2015 IWC Portugieser Hand-wound Revolution 10th Anniversary Limited Edition (©Revolution)

IWC agreed to take on the project but realized that the only way to achieve this goal was by using one of their pocket watch movements. They selected the beautiful caliber 74 — a distinctive full-bridge movement where each key component of the train was mounted on a separate bridge, making it easier to service and adjust. The resulting watch was, in the context of the time, simply massive at 42mm in diameter. All in all, only 675 of these Portugieser watches were ever made, making these vintage timepieces extraordinarily rare.

Legend has it that during a visit to the manufacture, IWC’s watchmakers spotted a client wearing an original ref. 325 watch and were inspired by the sheer originality of the timepiece to create a tribute to it for the brand’s 125th anniversary. Like the original watch, the Jubilee featured the caliber 982 pocket watch movement; it was made in a limited run of 1,000 pieces in steel, 500 in gold and 250 in platinum.

Instead of the caliber 982 that was found in the original watches, we used the caliber 98200.
Instead of the caliber 982 that was found in the original watches, we used the caliber 98200.
2015 IWC Portugieser Hand-wound Revolution 10th Anniversary Limited Edition (©Revolution)

As we rolled up on Revolution’s 10th anniversary, I got it in my head to ask Georges if he might consider making a tribute to the 5441 in collaboration with us. He looked at me, laughed and said he would look into it. A few days later, I would be lounging at his booth at SIHH when he would come up to me and say, “OK, I have a few new old stock cases for the 5441 in rose gold that they found at the manufacture, so we can use these for your watch. But we can only make about 10 of them.”

I was totally floored by the thoughtfulness of his gesture. This is perhaps something people don’t know about this limited edition — the cases are actually new old stock. Instead of the caliber 982 that was found in the original watches, we ended up using the caliber 98200. But this time I’d learned my lesson from the Audemars Piguet and requested for “Revolution” to be engraved on the barrel of the watch. This is an amazing watch for me and a symbol of the friendship we’ve always had with IWC and Georges Kern.

The IWC Portugieser Revolution 10th Anniversary Limited Edition used the new old stock cases for the 5441 in rose gold
The IWC Portugieser Revolution 10th Anniversary Limited Edition used the new old stock cases for the 5441 in rose gold

2015 Panerai PAM 599 Revolution 10th Anniversary Limited Edition

With a “four-liner” dial, 44mm, limited to 50 pieces in steel with DLC coating

The very first story I ever wrote about watches was about a — at the time — relatively unknown Italian military tool that had somehow become a luxury brand, thanks to its discovery by Sylvester Stallone. That brand was, of course, Panerai. I soon became awed by the men who had created Panerai — Johann Rupert, of course, but also Franco Cologni, Giampiero Bodino who designed the watches, and the one and only Angelo Bonati. For early Paneristis, Bonati was a near-mythical figure for making watches that seemed like they were ripped from our collective subconsciousness, so adept was he at predicting exactly what we wanted. At the same time, Bonati was a swashbuckler jumping in on threads on the Paneristi forum posting as himself, such as when he broke the news that there would soon be an in-house Panerai movement. So it was that the first time I met him, I was actually quite intimidated until I realized that underneath the stern authoritarian air was actually an extremely affable, humorous and very kind man.

It took me several years to convince him of my journalistic creds, but I eventually won him over in 2007 with the brand’s celebration of its 10th anniversary under Richemont ownership. By then, Panerai had already launched its first caliber, the P.2002, and now unveiled the P.2003, P.2004 and P.2005 30-second tourbillon. At the end of the watch presentation, instead of sticking around for cocktails, I went back to my room, lit a cigar — you could do that back then — and cranked out a 5,000-word online article on the significance of these movements, which represented the transition of Panerai from a luxury brand to a manufacture, echoing its early shift from military tool to luxury brand. The next morning, Bonati invited me to have coffee with him. The first thing he said was, “Do you know why you are here?” He explained that while everyone had been enjoying themselves, I had been the only one to do some actual work. When he looked online, mine was the only full article that got what he is doing with Panerai. After that, we became friends.

The genesis of the special edition PAM 599 to celebrate Revolution’s 10th anniversary occurred in Singapore in 2014, when I finally met the man who is something of a legend in Panerai-collecting circles. His name is Alan Bloore, but he is much better known by his Internet handle, “Hammer”. His story of courage and perseverance in his recovery from a freak accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down has already been chronicled in the pages of our magazine. But what distinguishes Hammer is his incredible charisma and his wonderful enthusiasm. When I first mooted the idea of a Revolution special edition Panerai to Hammer, he replied, “You know, Mr Bonati probably won’t do it, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.” Similarly, when I asked my friend Alexandra Zoller, Panerai’s international retail director at the time, she laughed and told me, “You know, Angelo will probably say no, because he doesn’t like this kind of editions, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.” Finally, when I asked Jean-Sebastien Gerondeau, also a friend and at the time Panerai’s managing director of Asia Pacific, his answer too was, “It will be unlikely to happen, but it never hurts to ask.”

I finally gathered my courage and asked Angelo Bonati. My face was literally frozen in slack-jawed shock when Mr Bonati thought about it for a moment and replied, “Yes.” When I recovered, I asked Mr Bonati why he had said yes. To which he replied: “Because you are a friend. Basically, I disagree with this kind of things. We receive a lot of requests and I almost always say no. First, to protect the integrity of the brand. Second, I cannot continue to do special editions, because doing too many special editions in the economy of production doesn’t make sense. You lose money with these watches. This is the reality. But frankly speaking, with you, I cannot say no.”

Angelo Bonati, former CEO, Panerai
Angelo Bonati, former CEO, Panerai

I immediately contacted Hammer to tell him that, first of all, the “00” prototype of this watch would be jointly auctioned by Panerai and Revolution for his charity, the Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association, which uses sports to help reconnect individuals with spinal injuries to a life beyond the wheelchair. Secondly, I explained that we needed to start designing a watch! Amazingly, we both said the exact same two words: “Black Seal”. But let’s place these words in context. One of Hammer’s and my favorite eras in Panerai history relates to the “pre-Vendôme” era, which includes watches made between 1993 and 1997, when the brand started making 44mm Luminor Marina watches and 42mm Mare Nostrum chronographs for civilian consumption upon the cancellation of its contract with the Italian Navy.

Of the pre-Vendôme Luminor Marinas, nine different models were created, including the 5218-201/A Logo (in 677 pieces); the 5218-201/A Submersible Slytech (in 12 prototypes); the 5218-202/A Marina Militare with a black PVD-coated steel case (in 140 pieces); the 5218-203/A Luminor Marina with a black PVD-coated steel case (in 200 pieces); the 5218-205/A Submersible Slytech (in 95 pieces); the 5218-207/A Slytech “Daylight”, in conjunction with Sylvester Stallone’s film Daylight (in 105 pieces); the 5218-209 steel Luminor (in 12 pieces); and the 5218-210 Luminor with a PVD case made in just two pieces.

However, the most famous pre-Vendôme Panerai comes from 1996, and it is the 5218-218/A Luminor Marina with a black PVD-coated steel case and the four lines “Luminor, Black Seal, Slytech, Panerai” on its dial. It is simply stunning, and part of its lore is that it was prototyped in five examples but, due to the sale of Panerai to Richemont Group, was never produced in series. Hammer and I instinctively knew we wanted to pay homage to this incredible watch.

The 5218-218/A Luminor Marina with a black PVD-coated steel case and the four lines “Luminor, Black Seal, Slytech, Panerai” on its dial
The 5218-218/A Luminor Marina with a black PVD-coated steel case and the four lines “Luminor, Black Seal, Slytech, Panerai” on its dial

Mr Bonati replied, “I am saying no to your first proposal, but I propose to you something different.” Little did we know at the time that Bonati and Panerai had already prepared an incredible homage to the Black Seal, in the form of a set of paired pre-Vendôme inspired watches, dubbed PAM 785.

In the end, I think we created a watch that wonderfully unites two different eras in Panerai’s history. Its design is definitely pre-Vendôme in spirit; in particular, the three lines of text combined with the logo, which, in Panerai-collecting lore, makes it a coveted “four-liner”. Hammer says, “If you look at Panerai’s history, many of the most collectible watches are four-liners.” The DLC (diamond-like carbon) case is a fitting homage to the pre-Vendôme era’s PVD case and also emphasizes Panerai’s pioneer status as the first high luxury brand to use blackened steel cases. For many years, Angelo Bonati would refuse to make more black-cased watches because he felt the technology at the time was not good enough. He reintroduced black watches by using ceramic, the first of these being a Radiomir watch. For small, nostalgic limited productions, he would agree to make black steel cases, but now with DLC coatings which are far more robust than the PVD (physical vapor deposition) coatings of old. We asked for the Super-LumiNova, as well as the dial and hands, to be made in ecru to replicate aged vintage tritium and also to distinguish the PAM 599 from the PAM 195 four-liner Luminor Marina made several years ago for the website Paneristi. But while all of these design codes were backward-looking, inside would be Panerai’s in-house manual winding movement with an eight-day power reserve — an incredible testament to Angelo Bonati’s vision to transform Panerai into a true manufacture. In totality, the watch is an incredible gesture of friendship.

Revolution asked for the Super-LumiNova, as well as the dial and hands, to be made in ecru to replicate aged vintage tritium
Revolution asked for the Super-LumiNova, as well as the dial and hands, to be made in ecru to replicate aged vintage tritium

2016 Bvlgari-Revolution Octo Finissimo Limited Edition

With petite seconds and a pierced dial, 42mm, limited to 50 pieces in titanium

This Bvlgari-Revolution Octo Finissimo Limited Edition was inspired by the brand’s ultra-thin titanium minute repeater from 2016
This Bvlgari-Revolution Octo Finissimo Limited Edition was inspired by the brand’s ultra-thin titanium minute repeater from 2016

This was the first of our collaborations with Bvlgari which, to me, not only makes some of the coolest, most technically innovative and aesthetically daring watches, but is also helmed by some truly great individuals, specifically CEO Jean-Christophe Babin, creative director Fabrizio Buonamassa, and its managing directors — at the time of the first watch Guido Terreni, and throughout the creation of our second watch, Antoine Pin. It also has, heading up communications, the man I consider to the epitome of masculine sexiness, the legend that is Pascal Brandt.

Back in 2014, when I first set eyes on the Octo Finissimo, I was simply blown away. Here was a watch that was a crazy juxtaposition of a big bold case when viewed top down on your wrist, but when you looked at its profile, it seemed like an optical illusion. That’s how slim it was. Two years later in 2016, Bvlgari launched what I still think is one of the all-time greatest watches — their ultra-thin titanium minute repeater. This watch which played a superb repeater tone was almost unbelievable at just 6.85mm in thickness. It also expressed a wonderful stealth-cool aesthetic with a sandblasted finish for its titanium case and featured a solid 0.3mm-thick titanium dial with skeletonized indexes and seconds track for the repeater’s sound to escape through. I was simply in love with this watch.

Funnily, our limited edition Octo Finissimo Petite Seconds was born because it was a watch I wanted to wear. I realized that it wouldn’t make commercial sense for Bvlgari to make me a pièce unique, so I proposed that we do a special run of 50 watches. Basically, I loved the style of the minute repeater but I couldn’t afford it. But what if we used a similar pierced titanium dial on a simpler small seconds manual wind watch? To my delight, Jean-Christophe Babin gave us the green light on this project.

This was a super important watch because it was the first time we were given permission to sell watches directly to the consumer. This seems to be getting more normal now, but I can tell you, in the context of 2016, it was pretty rare. So I really want to thank Bvlgari and Jean-Christophe Babin that we could communicate and retail the watch professionally. I also want to thank them for being the first to understand that our special editions do not conflict with traditional retailers or normal production watches. The objective is to be a loudspeaker for that brand, its capabilities and to grow the awareness of its watches which I think are extraordinary. The moment I saw the Octo Finissimo, I felt it would be one of the most important watches of the modern era and with Bvlgari’s constant drive to innovate, culminating in last year’s awesome automatic tourbillon chronograph, I’m glad that this has now become the consensus. Our collaboration with Bvlgari also gave us the opportunity to meet many of our readers that have now become collectors of our watches, and our new Revolution Watch Bar is precisely that place where we can gather and share our passion.

Bulgari’s CEO Jean-Christophe Babin
Bvlgari’s CEO, Jean-Christophe Babin

2016 Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Revolution Limited Edition

38mm, limited to 30 pieces in steel

The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Revolution Limited Edition has a beautiful sunray-patterned grey-brown dial offset by a matte steel case.

Back when there was a Basel Fair before their parent company, the MCH Group, screwed itself out of existence with its ineptitude, my favorite place to hang out was Marc Hayek’s Blancpain booth. It was, in a word, epic. He had installed a special extractor fan so that it was the only indoor space where you could smoke cigars, and built a 20-foot long zinc bar where he would serve an endless array of incredible wines, Aperol Spritz and cocktails. He even had a Michelin-starred chef overseeing his food. It was, basically, thanks to Marc’s incredible kindness and generosity, my home away from home for a decade.

Accordingly, you would always find the most intriguing characters and industry leaders at the Blancpain booth, the most awe-inspiring of which would be Marc’s uncle, Nick Hayek. During one of these uber sybaritic sessions, I was seated with Blancpain’s product director Vincent Beccia, his wife Christel Beccia and Eric Singer, the drummer for the seminal rock band KISS, when I put forth an idea. What if Blancpain would use the case of their women’s diving watch to create a smaller sized Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe at 38mm in diameter? Everyone, especially Singer, was enthusiastic about the idea. Encouraged by Beccia and Singer, I made an appointment to speak to Marc Hayek the following day. When I explained the idea and made the request, Hayek smiled to himself. Interestingly, it was an idea that he had been toying with himself and so he gave the project the green light.

The resulting watch designed by Hayek is beautiful with a sunray-patterned grey-brown dial offset by a matte steel case. In retrospect, if there was one detail I could have changed, it would be to omit the date, but the end result was still a very fun and appealing watch. I was particularly honored when the watch was included in a curated collection of bathyscaphes at Blancpain’s presentation at Basel Fair. From what I understand, Hayek, who was in the process of teaching his son how to scuba dive, offered this watch to him as his first diving watch. To be part of that bond between them is a great pleasure.

Marc Hayek, who played an instrumental role in designing this watch, also presented this piece to his son as his first diving watch.
Marc Hayek, who played an instrumental role in designing this watch, also presented this piece to his son as his first diving watch.

2018 TAG Heuer × Revolution × The Rake Carrera Chronograph “Blue Dreamer”

39mm, limited to 100 pieces in steel

This was the very first of our limited edition watches that was strictly offered as an online purchase. Even though the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Limited Edition was the first watch we retailed, those watches were sold primarily in person to our client network in Southeast Asia, centered in Singapore where we are based. And it goes to show you what early adopters of the Octo Finissimo the Singaporean market was. I’ve been told when brands want to test their new watches in the past, they would use the Italian market. Today, they tend to use Singapore as the test bed because of the very sophisticated customers and collectors here. It’s hard to describe it unless you experience it yourself, but practically every single person in Singapore is on some level actively interested in watches. We’ve also been instrumental in building up new brands. It was Singaporean retailer The Hour Glass that bankrolled Philippe Dufour’s Grande Sonnerie project, and Singapore was really the first place where Richard Mille took off, thanks to the strength of Dave Tan, Richard’s partner here. Brands like F.P. Journe, Lange and even Franck Muller all have Singapore (and Tay Liam Wee, the ex-owner of Sincere Watch) to thank for playing a large part in their development.

Anyway, back to the Carrera. For this watch, I have to thank a number of people. The first is Jean-Claude Biver who at the time in his capacity as CEO of TAG Heuer greenlighted this project. The second is Ben Clymer, the founder of the US juggernaut that is Hodinkee, who allowed me to unveil the watch in my episode of “Talking Watches”. The Blue Dreamer is inspired by both the original Heuer Skipper reference 7754 — a regatta watch with a 15-minute counter that was distinguished by five-minute segments that are each painted a different color to clearly demarcate it — and also by the Hodinkee Skipper which is, to this day, one of the coolest limited edition watches around.

The Heuer Skipper Reference 7754
The Heuer Skipper Reference 7754

Of course, the Carrera Blue Dreamer made for my magazine The Rake, which is dedicated to classic elegance and the era of the real playboys like Gianni Agnelli, Porfirio Rubirosa and Aly Khan, had to be about dégagé Riviera élan. So I started with selecting three of my favorite shades of blue: Yves Klein blue for the dial, and ultramarine and cerulean blues for the details of the chronograph minute counter. In retrospect, I wish I had made the counter a 15-minute counter instead of a 30-minute one, but that would have added more complication to the process of creating this watch. The name of the watch “Blue Dreamer” is a homage to Marc Chagall and his love for the color blue, which he used with such vivid expression in paintings like Le Paysage Bleu, Lovers in the Sky and, of course, The Dream from 1939.

The “Blue Dreamer” is a homage to Marc Chagall and his love for the color blue, which he used with such vivid expression in paintings like Le Paysage Bleu, Lovers in the Sky and The Dream
The “Blue Dreamer” is a homage to Marc Chagall and his love for the color blue, which he used with such vivid expression in paintings like Le Paysage Bleu, Lovers in the Sky and The Dream

When I wrote the story about this watch, I wanted people to understand that, more than anything, it was about expressing an ineffable style. This was the opening passage to my story:

“‘Ciao come stai? Tutto Bene. Fammi un martini secco per favore! Grazie!’ If you’re bellowing this through a loudspeaker to the staff at the Capri Palace as they watch in awe as you — still resplendent in your silk shantung dinner jacket and soft-collared tropical-weight Marcella evening shirt — enact a perfect 10-point swan dive from the skid of your helicopter hovering above the pool, in homage to Gianni Agnelli’s famous entrance to the legendary Hotel du Cap, then this watch is for you.

“If, this summer, you plan to live to an internal soundtrack of Renato Carosone’s ‘Tu Vuò Fa L’Americano’ and on a steady diet of Aperol Spritzes, Cohiba Talismans and Vitamin B12 injections, then this watch is for you. If you long for the era when the rakes of the Riviera — Agnelli, Porfirio Rubirosa and Aly Khan — did battle for the affections of the most prominent beauties that glittered along the southern coastline of France, then this watch is for you.

“It is crafted to address all your timing needs this summer, whether ensconced upon the Riviera or not, so that you are able to lay command over the kitchen staff at the Pellicano, Marbella Club or the Gritti Palace to execute a perfectly timed three-minute egg enhanced with generous lashings of black truffle. You may choose to use it to time the duration of your Behike 54, reflecting on its creator Norma Fernández’s stroke of inspiration to utilize the sun-kissed medio tiempo leaves to create the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti of cigars. And should you decide to re-enact the famous Slim Aarons photograph titled Keep Your Cool, of a couple playing backgammon in a swimming pool in Acapulco, you will be delighted to hear that your TAG Heuer for The Rake & Revolution Carrera ‘Blue Dreamer’ Chronograph is water resistant to, at the very least, swimming pool depth.”

I think it’s clear from this that I wanted this watch to be a celebration of amazing sunlit times by the Mediterranean Sea. In the context of 2020 when I didn’t get to travel at all, I often put on my Blue Dreamer which I wear on a very cool Forstner “beads of rice” bracelet (you can check out the bracelet here) to relive my adventures at these fabled destinations even if just in my imagination. What is really cool about the watch is, if you search the hashtag #bluedreamer on Instagram, you’ll see there are over 500 posts of people and this watch. The Blue Dreamer was one of our most successful watches; it sold out in about 40 minutes and today, it goes for a pretty substantial premium on the secondary market.


2018 Bell & Ross × The Rake and Revolution Bellytanker Chronograph “Dusty”

41mm, limited to 100 pieces in steel

Two of my favorite people in the watch industry are Carlos Rosillo and Bruno Belamich who created the brand Bell & Ross. I think that one day they should star in a Netflix series on how to approach life in a way that is elegant yet mindful and incredibly genuine. Because they are both always in a great mood, and you genuinely feel that they wake up each and every day filled with passion for their métier and affection for the people around them. Each time I am in their company, along with their lovely head of communications Axelle Rogano, my mood is tremendously uplifted. We’ve shared great meals, bottles of wine, cigars and, most of all, memories together. So what could be better when your friends also create some genuinely great watches as Carlos and Bruno do?

Bruno Belamich, co-founder, Bell & Ross
Bruno Belamich, co-founder, Bell & Ross
Carlos-A. Rosillo, co-founder, Bell & Ross
Carlos-A. Rosillo, co-founder, Bell & Ross

One of the hardest things to do is to design an original sports chronograph without essentially replicating the Daytona or the Speedmaster. When I saw the Bell & Ross Bellytanker for the first time in 2017, I was genuinely impressed that it was an authentically original design. I like the oversized Arabic indexes, the long baton markers, the stepped dial, the thick crown guards and the screw-down pushers; everything just worked well and at 41mm, it was a good size.

The watch’s name brings to mind both the singer Dusty Springfield of “Son of a Preacher Man” fame and wrestler Dusty Rhodes.

Shortly after seeing the Bellytanker, I kept thinking, what if the watch had been launched in the 1950s and was buried in the ground in some unknown desert racing track, or left in the sun for years so that its black dial and bezel became scorched by the UV light and tropicalized to the extreme? Around this time I had witnessed the vintage world’s obsession with all things tropical, and I have to admit many of these watches were absolutely stunning to behold. However, most of these unicorns were also staggeringly expensive, and I thought that if we could get the styling of the watch just right, with the Bellytankers’ relatively accessible price point of around USD 4,000, we could have a really fun yet affordable “tropical” sports chronograph.

I pitched this idea to Bruno and Carlos and they came back with designs that were perfect. They had thought through every detail and found just the right shade of brown. The result is still one of my favorite watches; I always get questions about it when I have it on my wrist. People genuinely think that it’s an oversized vintage tropical dial watch at first, and it’s fun to watch them wrap their head around it. After searching for a name for this watch, our head of online proposed “Dusty”, which brings to mind both the singer Dusty Springfield of “Son of a Preacher Man” fame, and one of my favorite professional wrestlers as a kid, Dusty Rhodes, or “The American Dream”.


2018 Bell & Ross × The Rake and Revolution Bellytanker Chronograph “El Mirage”

41mm, limited to 100 pieces in stabilized bronze

I would be lying if I said this watch wasn’t at least partially inspired by the “John Player Special” Paul Newman Daytonas. But, of course, the idea was to create a watch that you could wear with ease and not worry about it at all, which is certainly not the case in the one-million-dollar-plus vintage watches. To take things to an even greater extreme, I came up with the idea of taking all the elements that should be black and turning them brown to create a kind of tropical feel. At the time, I had been looking at some of the incredible watches with these elements in past auction catalogues and thought it would be amazing to have a watch that channeled these aesthetics but in a far more accessible way. When Bell & Ross got involved, the resulting watch took on a design of its own that ultimately was far more unique and fun.

The first idea was to use bronze to replicate the look of a vintage gold chronograph, like a 6265 or a BA 145-022-69, but at a much more accessible price point. Bell & Ross came back to say that they had found an alloy of bronze that was far more stable than the bronze being used by the majority of the industry, which oxidizes very quickly and aggressively and is far less red in color. Sure enough, the bronze alloy they selected has a more yellow gold than copper color, and when it oxidizes, develops more of a greenish jade color which to me perfectly fits the concept of an aged gold watch.

Bell & Ross got every detail of the watch design right, and the interplay between the gold tones of the case and dial with the chocolate hue of the subdials and bezel creates a genuinely stylish timepiece. We decided to name the watch “El Mirage” in deference to the famous Bellytanker desert racetrack and also because of the way the watch toys with your perception. I have to say, as names of watches go, “El Mirage” is pretty cool!

The interplay between the gold tones of the case and dial with the chocolate hue of the subdials and bezel creates a genuinely stylish timepiece.
The interplay between the gold tones of the case and dial with the chocolate hue of the subdials and bezel creates a genuinely stylish timepiece.
The bronze alloy in this watch develops a greenish jade color on oxidisation, which perfectly fits the concept of an aged gold watch.

2018 Hublot × The Rake Special Edition Aerofusion Chronograph “Molon Labe”

45mm, limited to 25 pieces in bronze and titanium

One of the brands that has been a massive success story in the new millennium is Hublot. I remember the first time I met Jean-Claude Biver back in 2005 at The Hour Glass’ Tempus event here in Singapore. This was a cultural and educational initiative undertaken by Michael Tay. Biver proceeded to unfurl a sketch of a watch he intended to launch in 2005. It was named the Big Bang, and it was meant to unite traditional Swiss watchmaking with the materials and design influences of the future — what Biver called his vision for “Fusion”. Hublot would become such a success that a few years later, the brand was sold to LVMH Group and Jean-Claude Biver would hand over the reins of Hublot to his highly capable colleague Ricardo Guadalupe. Hublot has always been incredibly kind to me and, together with The Hour Glass, even invited me to the unforgettable experience of attending the World Cup in Brazil. So once our limited edition watch programme was underway, it was only natural to request a collaboration with Ricardo Guadalupe.

Our Hublot collaboration started with a friend of mine named Augusto Capitanucci. I met Augusto when he was the editor in chief of Gruppo24ore, and we quickly hit it off. He was pretty much the coolest guy on the watch journalism circuit. But then he made a radical transition to the brand side by joining Hublot and becoming its regional director for the Mediterranean countries where, by all accounts, he was smashing it. He was the first person I broached the idea with and soon he got the Hublot team involved and ultimately helped to secure Ricardo Guadalupe’s blessing.

For the watch in question, it began with the concept of ancient and contemporary universes colliding within the fiery crucible of Hublot’s concept of Fusion — the concept of modernity and tradition, the best of material innovation intrinsically, intermarried with the 200-year-old traditions of high Swiss watchmaking.

The first thing to achieve was to quickly arrive at the idea of metals each embodying the past and the future. And so, the materials selected for The Rake’s very first collaboration with Hublot are first an expression of contemporary technical advancement, and second — and perhaps more evocatively — an embodiment of the two most legendary warrior cultures of the ancient world. Their names bristle and resonate with a sense of purpose born out of their extensive use in combat.
Anyone with a penchant for handmade bicycles is going to be familiar with the metal titanium. Even in the age of carbon fiber, titanium is still the material of choice for the most coveted and beautiful frames from the world’s most artisanal builders. It is, simply speaking, the metal that boasts the highest strength-to-weight ratio. It has a near-infinite fatigue life, meaning that it can steadily absorb shock indefinitely with almost no change to its molecular structure and is totally impervious to corrosion. It is hypoallergenic, which makes it the substance of choice for medical implants. It is self-healing in that when scratched, a protective oxide layer instantly and spontaneously re-forms. This extraordinary material was discovered in Great Britain at the turn of the 19th century and was named for the Titans of Greek mythology.

At the height of its renown between the fourth and sixth century BC, the Spartan army was considered so superior to any other in the world that one Spartan soldier was considered more valuable than a multitude of men from any other nation. It was bronze that gave this army its technical advantage — the material was used to furnish the armor and weapons of the most legendary warrior culture of all time. Sparta differed from all other nations in that every male citizen was a full-time soldier first, and a farmer, poet or ruler second. One of my all-time favorite books is Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield, which chronicles the 300 Spartans combating Xerxes and the Persian Army at Thermopylae. My favorite scene in the book: when commanded by Xerxes to lay down his weapons and bow to his might, the Spartan King Leonidas retorts, “Molon labe!” or “Come and take them!” And so that became the name of the watch.

The name of this special Hublot chronograph is inspired by one of the scenes in the Gates of Fire written by Steven Pressfield
The name of this special Hublot chronograph is inspired by one of the scenes in the Gates of Fire written by Steven Pressfield

The watch was launched in 2018 with an event at the Corinthia Hotel in London in collaboration with Hublot and the incredible Arturo Fuente cigar brand. As a cigar lover, I have to say I have never seen more ultra coveted Opus X cigars amassed in one place before. I have to thank Ahmed “Shary” Rahman who purchased our prototype for this watch in an auction benefitting The Prince’s Trust. The second factory prototype was donated by Hublot in a really kind gesture for our COVID-19 Solidarity Auction last year where it achieved an impressive USD 15,000.

The watch was launched in 2018 with an event at the Corinthia Hotel in London. Seen here with Wei is noted watch collector Ahmed “Shary” Rahman
The watch was launched in 2018 with an event at the Corinthia Hotel in London. Seen here with Wei is noted watch collector Ahmed “Shary” Rahman

2018 Oris Divers Sixty-Five “Honey” for The Rake and Revolution

40mm, limited to 250 pieces in steel

Oris’ co-CEO Rolf Studer is a really nice man. I really got to know him when we were all gathered in New York for Hodinkee’s 10th anniversary event where Ben Clymer had kindly invited me to be a speaker. After the plenary discussion group sessions, the aforementioned Shary, Studer, Auro Montanari and I went to the Bar and Books on Hudson to smoke cigars and continue our Negroni-fueled afternoon. I shall not go into the details of how Auro went slightly missing after this, sending his friend Aurel Bacs into a bit of a panic. It was during this time I really got to know Studer and realized what a genuine, authentic, no-bullshit cool guy he is. I’m a big fan of Oris also because it is one of those brands that has demonstrated that you can have a great — zero compromise — watch for less than two thousand dollars with an awesome design and made with excellent quality. Among Oris’ watches, of course, I have a penchant for the Divers Sixty-Five. Around the time, I was conceptualizing a vibrant colored Divers Sixty-Five watch to pitch to him, the epic Divers Sixty-Five RedBar with its beautiful red dial came out. This was not only a great watch, but also a symbol of a great community of watch nuts, and I am very pleased that its co-founder Adam Craniotes is Revolution’s US editor at large.

The very cool red dial Divers Sixty-Five caused me to pivot. Oris already had blue and green dial watches. While I loved the idea of a pink dial watch, I am not sure many other people would. In the end, I thought of doing a tribute to the tropical dial diving watches that had become very popular. In particular, I liked the dials that had a halo effect where the center was lighter, and this became progressively darker to the edge of the dial. I proposed the idea to Oris’ Asia-Pacific regional manager Michael Meier and Studer, and they liked the idea. As an example of how seriously they take their product development, they made more sample dials than any other brand I’ve worked with. I remember poring over the myriad of dial options with Meier as we ate cheeseburgers, which seemed to aid in the creative process.

Oris Divers Sixty-Five from 2016
Oris Divers Sixty-Five from 2016

In the end, the one we arrived at had just the perfect evocative hue and actually reminds me of a 1959 sunburst Gibson Les Paul. To complement the warmth of the dial, we had to select the bronze bezel. We named the watch “Honey” in deference to the color and also because it’s just a cool name. In 2019, Oris came out with a two-tone bronze and steel bracelet for their regular production Divers Sixty-Five watches, and to me this actually elevates “Honey” to a higher level.


2018 Chopard L.U.C 1860 × The Rake & Revolution

36.5mm, limited to 10 pieces in white gold

To me, one of the greatest watches in the modern era is the somewhat overlooked Chopard L.U.C 1860 from 1997. Actually the prelude to the watch started a year earlier. Flashback to 1996, when Tom Cruise was bellowing, “Show me the money!” to his ambassador of Quan in the film Jerry Maguire, to the moment when Karl-Friedrich Scheufele unveiled his first L.U.C movement, a moment as revelatory and forever game-changing as the appearance of Kubrick’s monolith in 2001. That was the introduction of the caliber 1.96, which would usher in one of the most staggering two decades in mechanical movement innovation and bring a new, heretofore unknown level of performance to every complication in Christendom. All that from a brand previously considered primarily a jeweler.

Chopard L.U.C 1860 from 1997.
Chopard L.U.C 1860 from 1997.

t is almost impossible to fully express how mind-blowing Chopard’s L.U.C automatic caliber 1.96 was in the context of the mid-1990s. While Swiss mechanical watchmaking had pulled itself back from the brink of disaster post-Quartz Crisis, there was still a prevailing timidity related to movement innovation. That wasn’t good enough for Scheufele, who explained: “I knew that Chopard had long been considered a jewelry brand. But we were never seen as a serious horological maison. We were not a manufacturer of movements. So when I took the decision to start making our own movements, I wanted to create a caliber that reflected all the technical advances of our era and not repeat something that had already been done half a century before.”

Calibre 1.96 unveiled in 1996

How did the fundamental blueprint for the extraordinary caliber 1.96 come about? It is common knowledge that Scheufele consulted Michel Parmigiani on the movement’s design, but the requirements were very much based on his own desire for the perfect movement. He explained: “I wanted an elegant movement, so I liked the idea of a micro-rotor. But I wanted it to wind very efficiently and in both directions. This was the reason we used ball bearings to support the rotor assembly. I wanted the movement to have a long power reserve of 70 hours, both to aid in isochronism, but also because I liked the idea of winding your watch once and it having enough power to last an entire weekend and beyond.”

The solution for the long power reserve was to create a set of two stacked barrels that operated in sequence, one after the other. To aid in the accuracy of the watch, Scheufele wanted a modern 4Hz vibrational speed. “Generally speaking, this is the most effective vibrational speed as it is far more resistant to microshocks that a watch receives moment to moment,” he said. “Incidentally this vibrational speed is also a reason we are one of the only brands to have our tourbillons certified by COSC.”

The Rake and Revolution paid tribute to Chopard’s incredible history by remaking a limited series of 10 L.U.C 1860 watches – the timepiece that started it all – in white gold with salmon dial.
The Rake and Revolution paid tribute to Chopard’s incredible history by remaking a limited series of 10 L.U.C 1860 watches – the timepiece that started it all – in white gold with salmon dial.
In addition to the white gold case with a salmon dial, we asked Chopard to make the date wheel also in salmon to create a more integrated look and also to easily distinguish our limited edition at a glance.
In addition to the white gold case with a salmon dial, we asked Chopard to make the date wheel also in salmon to create a more integrated look and also to easily distinguish our limited edition at a glance.

The caliber 1.96 was jeweled to the barrel and had bridges and plates finished and angled by hand. It featured a swan-neck regulator as well as a Breguet overcoil for its hairspring. As a statement of peerless pedigree, the movement received both the Geneva Seal and the COSC certificate. You need to understand this in the context of the time. While everyone else was essentially relying on ETA, Valjoux or Piguet calibers, the caliber 1.96 was a shot across the bow of the industry, one of the most powerful statements of intent just simply based on its technical parameters. Add to this that Scheufele included with the movement certification by the two most prestigious independent entities in all of Switzerland and witness an act of sheer virtuoso mic-dropping badassitude.

Then there are the aesthetics of the watch which Louis Westphalen, when he was at Hodinkee, described as remarkably similar to Philippe Dufour’s Simplicity in this great article. It is hard to design a totally original round watch that endures the test of time, but that is precisely what the 1860 has achieved. Its slightly stepped bezel is thin and elegant. Its stunning gold dial featuring sunray guilloché was made by Metalem, one of the best dial makers in Switzerland. The dauphine hands, paired perfectly with the arrow-shaped hour markers, are sublime. Interestingly, from the first moment I set eyes on the watch, I’ve always remarked on its spiritual similarity with Philippe Dufour’s Simplicity which, when originally created, was 36mm and featured a very similar Metalem gold dial. The one clear difference has to do with the word “automatic” printed within the seconds subdial and the large aperture for the date. To me, Dufour’s Simplicity has always represented the very best of artisanal independent watchmaking, while the 1860 represents one of the greatest achievements in modern horology. Scheufele, who owns a Dufour Simplicity, said: “That is a complimentary thing to say, but I would have to agree that there is something of a spiritual kinship between the watches.”

“My proposal,” I explained, “is to remake an additional 10 of these watches in my favorite color combination of a white gold case with a salmon dial. If I could ask for one small change, it would be for the date wheel to also be in salmon to create a more integrated look and also to easily distinguish our limited edition at a glance. Let’s create a club of L.U.C aficionados and devotees. We can select who we allocate each of the 10 watches to and we will codename ourselves the Lucky L.U.C Club and meet once a year to share in conviviality, good cheer, amusing anecdotes and perhaps some half-decent wine.”

I looked at Karl-Friedrich to gauge his response. He smiled, nodded his head and said: “I like this idea very much.” That was the beginning of the journey to create the watch you see here. I should also take this opportunity to thank Scheufele’s wife, Christine, because at a certain moment we toyed with the idea of making the watch in steel instead of white gold. But that would necessitate us using a 40mm case. When we broached this idea with her, she replied: “If this is really a homage to the watch from 1997, then do it all the way. Don’t go by half measure. If the original size was 36.5mm, then make the watch 36.5mm. Anyway, it appears as if the world is turning back to these more classical dimensions. Or at least certain men with good taste are.” I thought that was a great statement.

We love our collaboration with Chopard so please look forward to more of our limited edition timepieces with them in 2021.

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele,co-president, Chopard
Karl-Friedrich Scheufele,co-president, Chopard

2018 IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Special Edition for The Rake and Revolution

A tribute to Mark 11 with Russian reindeer hide NATO-style strap crafted by George Cleverley, 36mm, limited to 150 pieces in bronze

This special edition developed by The Rake and Revolution with the brand evokes the utilitarian purity of the Mark 11 updated with a new colour palette never seen before in the Pilot's collection till now.
This special edition developed by The Rake and Revolution with the brand evokes the utilitarian purity of the Mark 11 updated with a new colour palette never seen before in the Pilot's collection till now.

Of the new generation of CEOs that have taken the helm of the big luxury brands, I have to say Chris Grainger is definitely one of the most dynamic. When I’m at watch junkets, I often like to go to the gym in the morning and see which CEOs are there working out in full beast mode before their day. Each time I got on the treadmill at the 2019 SIAR (El Salón Internacional Alta Relojería) in Mexico City, Grainger was already there crushing his workout.

Similarly, his approach to leading IWC has been unrelentingly forward-thinking and unafraid. At a time when much of the industry has been taken over by the same cookie-cutter INSEAD graduates generating soulless products rather than innovative passion projects, Grainger feels like the heir to the entrepreneurialism and bold leadership of his predecessor Georges Kern, albeit in his own way. He had just taken over the head of IWC when I pitched him the idea of a small sized no-date tribute to the Mark 11. He was cautious regarding the idea of collaboration, but because he liked the idea of The Rake’s audience being a sartorial crowd and that they would bring an all-new and unique audience to IWC, he eventually acquiesced. This project soon grew to encompass a four-model collection, which included a chronograph, a perpetual calendar and a Big Pilot-based model. Eventually, the decision was made for us to focus on the Mark 11, which had by this point incorporated a bronze case, olive green dial and aged lume.

Launched at the 2019 SIHH, the 150 pieces of this watch were sold out in nine minutes.
Launched at the 2019 SIHH, the 150 pieces of this watch were sold out in nine minutes.

Trying to think of a way to create an even more salient connection with The Rake, I approached my friend George Glasgow and his father — a shoemaking legend — about creating a strap in collaboration with George Cleverley, London’s fabled bespoke shoemaker. I pitched them the idea of a strap made from the 200-year-old Russian reindeer hide that had sunk in a Spanish frigate off the coast of Plymouth Sound and that Cleverley was renowned for making shoes from. Amazingly, they said yes, although I have to say that figuring out exactly how to treat the skins and cut them to make NATO watch straps (which have been more pliable as they fold backwards) took a not-inconsiderable amount of work from both Cleverley and IWC. Eventually, we launched the watch at the 2019 SIHH. The 150 pieces sold out in nine minutes. Normally I keep the Number 1 watch of our special editions, but I was really happy to sell George the No. 1 piece for his amazing ng father, who is one of the coolest guys I know in the London sartorial world. After some disastrous and expensive experiments with other brands, George Snr made me a pair of shoes that rescued my faith in bespoke shoes and showed me they could be transcendent. The fact that this was a collaboration with three guys I admire in a big way makes me really happy.

Nick Foulkes and Wei Koh at SIHH 2019

The secondary values for our IWC × Cleverley × The Rake limited edition Mark 11 tribute are strong; resale price is comfortably over the original retail price.


2019 Sinn × The Rake & Revolution 155 Bundeswehr “Dark Star”

A tribute to the original 155 Bundeswehr Chronograph, 43mm, limited to 150 pieces in steel

The pilot’s chronographs made for the Italian, West German and French air forces are some of my favorite timepieces. While the Type XX is still being produced by Breguet and Zenith makes a great version of the Cairelli CP-2, it was surprising to me that no one was making a modern version of the iconic Bundeswehr 1550 watch. The motivation for this project started selfishly enough in that I really wanted a Bundeswehr but couldn’t find one in perfect condition for a price below six thousand dollars. There were, of course, two legit producers of the legendary “Bund” chronograph. The first is Heuer which started off producing this watch for the West German Air Force. And of course, there is Sinn, which took over the production of this model as well as the servicing of all the existing military watches in circulation.

The iconic Bundeswehr 1550 watch.
The iconic Bundeswehr 1550 watch.

Three years ago, I had approached TAG Heuer with the idea of creating a Bundeswehr revival model but with a DLC titanium case and a manual wind movement. Some amazing designs were made for this watch — we came up with a stylized version of the old red “3H” symbol denoting radioactive dials, this time as a “TH” for TAG Heuer. We even thought of doing a special series of these regulated to start time to revive the “Sternzeit Reguliert” model. But the project didn’t see the light of day.

Then at the 2018 Baselworld, I met with my friend Volker Wiegmann, the head of communications at Sinn, and I asked if we could do this project with them. I knew that Sinn could be more receptive to this as they had already created a 2005 tribute to the 155 (the Bundeswehr in Sinn civilian nomenclature) for the Japanese market. This used original Bundeswehr cases combined with a manual wind Valjoux 7760. In 2008, Sinn had done another 155 tribute with the department store Manufactum.

For our collaboration, incredibly enough, Sinn managed to find cases, bezels and crystals identical to those in the vintage watches. To make it a more pragmatic watch, we decided on an automatic Sellita SW510 chronograph movement. The dial looks essentially the same as the vintage watches except for the use of syringe-shaped hands and Luminova on these and on the indexes that echoes the look of old tritium. But my favorite design element is the black-on-black star that refers to the star in the Revolution logo, but that is rendered subtly so that you really only see it in direct light. Immediately, the name “Dark Star” stuck in my head and so that’s what we called it. The reception to this piece was very heart-warming and it’s nice to see this watch trading for around double its initial retail price of USD 2,500.

The dial looks essentially the same as the brand’s vintage watches except for the use of syringe-shaped hands and Luminova on these and on the indexes that echoes the look of old tritium.
The dial looks essentially the same as the brand’s vintage watches except for the use of syringe-shaped hands and Luminova on these and on the indexes that echoes the look of old tritium.
Our favorite design element in this watch is the black-on-black star that refers to the star in the Revolution logo.

2019 Rado × The Rake & Revolution Captain Cook “Ghost Captain”

37mm, limited to 150 pieces in steel

At the 2018 Baselworld watch fair, after professing my love for the Captain Cook to Rado CEO Matthias Breschan, we began to discuss a possible collaboration on a limited edition of this great watch. Several of the timepieces we have worked on at Revolution have attempted to enhance the already existing vintage codes of their respective watches by endowing them with an extra measure of patina. However, the standard model Captain Cook has already travelled down this vintage path with great results, evinced in its grey-brown dial and yellow-green indexes. We initially made forays into an even more “distressed” watch based on images of vintage 1962 Captain Cooks, but somehow the designs just were not appealing.

Then we started to think about another way in which some very special watches have a tendency to age. A “ghost” bezel is one that, as a result of sun and seawater and general exposure over time, turns from a solid black into a highly appealing translucent grey. In some instances, dials exposed to these conditions turn this appealing shade of grey instead of the more usual brown. The result is a sort of hallucinatory, ethereal appearance for these watches where the bezel and dial are both a ghost-like grey.

The Rado Limited Edition Ghost Captain came with a variety of strap options— a grey leather NATO-style strap, a grey fabric NATO-style strap, a second grey leather strap and, perhaps more importantly, a beautiful “beads of rice” bracelet in stainless steel.
The Rado Limited Edition Ghost Captain came with a variety of strap options— a grey leather NATO-style strap, a grey fabric NATO-style strap, a second grey leather strap and, perhaps more importantly, a beautiful “beads of rice” bracelet in stainless steel.

The idea of the Rado × The Rake & Revolution Captain Cook “Ghost Captain” began to come together. What is impressive is that with Rado’s vast in-house manufacturing ability in HyperChrome, the brand was able to render the perfect shade of grey ceramic to counterpoint the grey dial. Instead of the faux-aged luminous indexes, we decided to keep the lume plots a clean white color, which we feel offers a more appealing contrast to the prevailing grey/silver color scheme of the watch.

In addition to that, the Rado Limited Edition Ghost Captain came with a variety of strap options: a grey leather NATO-style strap, a grey fabric NATO-style strap, a second grey leather strap and, perhaps more importantly, a beautiful “beads of rice” bracelet in stainless steel. This quartet of strap options makes the Ghost Captain truly a watch for every occasion. The bracelet can also be purchased separately by customers who’ve previously bought the Ghost Captain without the steel bracelet.

Instead of the faux-aged luminous indexes, we decided to keep the lume plots a clean white color, which offers a more appealing contrast to the grey collar scheme of the watch
Instead of the faux-aged luminous indexes, we decided to keep the lume plots a clean white color, which offers a more appealing contrast to the grey collar scheme of the watch

Amusingly, we realized we’ve got a few of these watches left. But in the process of shifting our office premises in the beginning of 2020, we actually misplaced a box of these and we are now offering the very last Ghost Captain 37mm watches replete with “beads of rice” bracelet for USD 2,000 as a value proposition.


2020 Zenith × Revolution Chronomaster Revival Ref. A3818 “Cover Girl”

37mm, limited to 100 pieces in steel

Our “Cover Girl” Revival does very well on the secondary market. The prototype of this watch was donated by Zenith to our COVID-19 Solidarity Auction and it achieved USD 20,000 (Image: Revolution©)
Our “Cover Girl” Revival does very well on the secondary market. The prototype of this watch was donated by Zenith to our COVID-19 Solidarity Auction and it achieved USD 20,000 (Image: Revolution©)

There are, of course, some incredibly iconic watches featuring the El Primero, two of which were introduced in 1969 along with the unveiling of the first Swiss integrated automatic movement at the Basel Fair that year — the cushion-shaped A384 and the round-cased A386. In recent years, both of these watches have been the vehicle for great limited editions such as the “Edge of Space” created by my friends George Bamford and Toby Bateman for Mr Porter and the tropical subdialled A386 created by Aurel Bacs for Phillips. However, when it came time for Revolution to get its own Zenith limited edition, there was only one model that immediately came to mind and that was the famous A3818, otherwise known as the “Cover Girl,” launched in 1971.

Zenith El Primero ref. A3818 circa 1971 (Image: © Phillips Watches)
Zenith El Primero ref. A3818 circa 1971 (Image: © Phillips Watches)

The watch gets its evocative nickname from appearing on the front cover of Manfred Rössler’s seminal book on Zenith. This cushion-shaped timepiece is distinguished by what I feel is the coolest dial in Zenith’s history. It features a Superman blue dial with vertical brushing and what has to be one of the coolest racing tracks ever created with a full 300 tiny hash marks that radiate at the perimeter of the dial in a distinct stepped or peaked uneven pattern. This means that there are five marks between each second with a space in between each of them, providing the perfect scale to read a chronograph hand accurate to 1/10th of a second. In addition, the dial features a very unique combination of pulsation scale calibrated for 15 pulses as well as a tachymeter.

This watch is also representative of a collaboration with two of the most dynamic and coolest guys in the watch industry — Zenith’s CEO Julien Tornare and its head of product Romain Marietta. Together you can see the incredible momentum behind Zenith and what it has achieved in the last couple of years, and that’s all down to them. When we were conceptualizing this watch, I came up with an idea to create one huge difference compared to the original model. This time, the entire dial would be treated with luminous paint, even down to the 300 markers on the integrated pulsation and tachymeter scale. In combination with the full luminous hand set, including those found on the subdials, it means you would even be able to record elapsed time, down to 1/10th of a second, in the dark.

We couldn’t revive this watch without the ladder bracelet, so the timepiece is obviously paired with one, and we are sure that Zenith enthusiasts will love this thoughtful touch. When it came to pricing the watch, thanks to Zenith, we were able to offer it at CHF 7,900 which is totally in alignment with a normal production A384 with the same bracelet. It is even more attractive in a time when vintage A3818s are commanding within the CHF 20,000 ballpark.

The funniest thing about the launch of this watch relates to the event we held for it in Miami. I had flown to Miami from Singapore to host this event together with Julien Tornare and Adam Craniotes, the co-founder of Red Bar. Adam had flown in from New York along with the Zenith US team and Julien had flown in from Le Locle in Switzerland. We had all convened and then one of us asked, “OK, who has the watch?” We had all travelled from different parts of the world only to forget that the prototype was still at the factory. Amazingly, despite this, the launch was not only huge fun, but a success. We sold all our allocation of this piece that night. Zenith would launch their allocation a week later, and by this time, people had called in advance to try to get one. The truth is, we could have had five times as many watches but we always want to do two things with our limited editions. We want to keep them rare enough that our customers feel respected, and we always want to work with the brands to keep the price as low as we can so as to offer value. We have made it a rule to never inflate the prices of our limited editions just because we might be able to, because I think that’s disrespectful to our customer base.

Zenith’s CEO Julien Tornare with Wei at the launch event for the Zenith x Revolution Chronomaster Revival Ref. A3818 “Cover Girl” in Miami.

I’m pleased to say that our “Cover Girl” Revival does very well on the secondary market. The prototype of this watch was donated by the great people at Zenith to our COVID-19 Solidarity Auction and it achieved USD 20,000.


2020 Hanhart × The Rake & Revolution 417 Chronograph

42mm, limited to 150 pieces in bronze

Steve McQueen was one of those guys with the most colossal ineffable style and so, of course, the clothes that he wore, the bikes he rode and the watches on his wrist are all the objects of cult devotion. McQueen is usually identified with two other watches: the iconic TAG Heuer Monaco 1133B, which was on his wrist in his 1971 film Le Mans, as well as the Rolex Submariner 5513 he wore in his personal life. There are, of course, also the Cartier Tank Cintrée and the Patek Philippe pocket watch that appear in the amazing The Thomas Crown Affair. And then there is the Hanhart 417 pilot’s chronograph which he wore while engaged in his favorite activity of riding his Triumph motorcycles, and which he conspicuously wore when he represented the USA at the 1964 ISDT motorcycle competition. Hanhart started producing pilot’s chronographs back in 1938 and introduced its first two-button model in 1941 with the basic iconography that we would see in the Type XX watches that would be created following the Second World War. It restarted production of its pilot’s chronographs from 1956 to 1958, and it was during this period that it manufactured the 417 model that would eventually make its way to McQueen’s wrist.

As the owner of a men’s classic elegance magazine, The Rake, a lover of vintage British bikes and a watch guy, I was, of course, more than familiar with the 417, which is why I was puzzled that Hanhart didn’t make this model anymore. During a meeting at the 2018 Basel Fair with Hanhart’s co-CEO Felix Wallner, I pitched him the idea of reviving this iconic model. His response was that he and Simon Hall, the brand’s other CEO, had plans to recreate the 417 based on the demand from their customers. We put our heads together and came up with an idea. What if Revolution was to create a limited edition watch as a prelude to pave the way for the revival of their iconic pilot’s chronograph? Both Wallner and Hall liked the idea and set about designing the bronze limited edition watch with a beautifully aged dial.

So back to the connection between the 417 and Steve McQueen. How McQueen came to own his watch is something of a mystery. What is clear is that he had exemplary taste in everything — motorcycles, particularly Bud-Ekins-tuned Triumphs and Nortons, and cars such as the 1958 Porsche 1600 356 “Super Speedster”, Ferrari 275 GTB/4 and Jaguar XKSS. Not to mention bespoke suits, as evinced by his collaboration with Douglas Hayward in The Thomas Crown Affair, and women the likes of Jacqueline Bisset, Candice Bergen and Ali MacGraw. So it is no surprise that he naturally gravitated to the strikingly masculine and highly reliable Hanhart 417 (his watch is believed to be an ES, for Edelstahl or stainless steel), which he wore most frequently on a Bund or “fat strap” style bracelet.

Steve McQueen resting after his run out on the 1964 ISDT track. On his wrist visible is the Hanhart 417 ES (Photo by Francois Gragnon / Paris Match via Getty Images)
Steve McQueen resting after his run out on the 1964 ISDT track. On his wrist visible is the Hanhart 417 ES (Photo by Francois Gragnon / Paris Match via Getty Images)

His affection for his Hanhart 417 was made conspicuous when McQueen went to East Germany in 1964, along with motorcycle racing specialists the Ekins brothers, to represent the United States at the International Six Days Trial (ISDT), often described as the Olympics of enduro motorcycle racing. McQueen was notoriously obsessed with detail when it came to competition. Prior to his 1964 race, he had gone to pick up his Triumph TR6 Trophy SC at Comerfords, London, where he proceeded to make all the modifications himself. So he surely applied that same sense of high scrutiny to the timepieces in his life. The mystery behind McQueen’s Hanhart 417 ES is that while the provenance of his Heuer Monacos and his Rolex Submariners have been well documented, the fate of his Hanhart is unknown. I keep telling Wallner and Hall to track down this watch and make it the star in their museum! How cool would that be?

Hand assembled at Hanhart's workshops, The Rake & Revolution Limited Edition Bronze 417 Chronograph is offered on a quick-patinating bronze CuSn8 case
Hand assembled at Hanhart's workshops, The Rake & Revolution Limited Edition Bronze 417 Chronograph is offered on a quick-patinating bronze CuSn8 case

I’m pleased to report that the Hanhart 417 Bronze Limited Edition is holding its value well and has actually been selling for almost double its retail price on the aftermarket.


2020 Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT “White Light” for Revolution & The Rake

42mm, limited to 25 pieces in titanium

I think one of the key takeaways from 2020 is that luxury brands will be regarded for what they represent as much as the watches they create. In both categories, Bvlgari has been exemplary. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Bvlgari’s CEO Jean-Christophe Babin was one of the very first to respond, funding a 3D microscope to help researchers at Spallanzani Hospital study the virus at the cellular level and transforming a fragrance factory outside of Milan to produce hand sanitizer. If the latter seems somewhat commonplace today, think back to when the world and, in particular, Italy faced a total shortage of sanitizers and PPE amid the first wave of COVID-19. In addition, Babin did something truly extraordinary. He and Bvlgari created a virus eradication fund dedicated not just to combating COVID-19, but to addressing future outbreaks of infectious diseases. This fund provided much needed medical school scholarships to the next generation of researchers and helped to fund vaccines, such as the one developed at Oxford University.

That aside, I vividly recall the moment in 2019 when I first set eyes on Bvlgari’s Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic. I was utterly blown away. As you may know, I am a fan of chronographs and one of my favorite movements is the Frédéric Piguet 1185, which for 31 years previous to 2019, was the world’s thinnest automatic time writer at 5.5mm. The movement in the Bvlgari watch smashed that. At 3.3mm in a watch that is just 6.9mm thick, the automatic BVL 318 is even thinner than the manual wind version of Piguet’s legendary vertical clutch caliber, the 1180, which is 3.95mm thick. In design, the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic is a supremely elegant achievement.

The Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic launched in 2019
The Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic launched in 2019
The platinum and aluminum periphery rotor of the BVL 318 movement powering the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic
The platinum and aluminum periphery rotor of the BVL 318 movement powering the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic

Almost immediately, though, I started dreaming of a decidedly more aggressive version of this watch. Broaching the subject with Bvlgari’s creative director Fabrizio Buonamassa, he found the concept appealing. He explained, “I love the idea of a ‘tool watch’ version of the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT. The first thought was that we should put a tachymeter on the bezel. For someone that is an auto enthusiast, this would be a valuable and iconic function to have.”

Bvlgari’s creative director Fabrizio Buonamassa
Bvlgari’s creative director Fabrizio Buonamassa

Even though Bvlgari has an Octo chronograph model with a tachymeter — its Zenith El Primero-driven Velocissimo — that watch is significantly thicker, as are all its parts. It wasn’t a question of printing a tachymeter scale on the bezel of the Octo Finissimo chronograph. Buonamassa explained, “The Velocissimo is considerably thicker, and the bezel is totally different. Engraving and printing a tachymeter scale on the ultra-slim Octo Finissimo took a lot of experimentation.” The way in which any Octo Finissimo is assembled involves posts integrated into the bezel, which run through the monocoque case and which are fixed on the caseback with special fasteners. During the engraving and printing process of the tachymeter, any pressure deforming the bezel would result in a case that would be compromised in its security. After considerable attempts, Buonamassa found the solution. But then we arrived at a second challenge.

Any tool watch needs to have luminous indexes and hands. In the Octo Finissimo, this proved almost impossible. Said Buonamassa, “With a dial that is only 0.2mm thick, the indexes and hands were just too thin to be coated with lume. But then I thought, what if we painted the entire dial, then all the indications would stand out in negative relief?”

As you can imagine, I loved this. Buonamassa immediately set to work on dial prototyping. He explained, “We went through quite a few dials. Some were too luminous so that even in normal light they were glowing, and some were not luminous enough. We wanted to find just the right balance so it looks like a normal white dial chronograph in daylight, but as soon as you move into darkness, it glows with perfect visibility and remains luminous for a long time.”

Once a specification of Super-LumiNova was determined, the team at Bvlgari had to reconfigure the amount of material used to stamp all of the markings on the dial of the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT. Essentially, the markings had to be made a lot thicker, effectively making this a “maxi dial” Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT. They had to do this so that the sheer glow of the dial completely covered in lume does not render the indexes illegible.

The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT White Light is powered by self-winding BVL 318 movement with peripheral winding rotor.
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT White Light is powered by self-winding BVL 318 movement with peripheral winding rotor.
The watch’s 0.2mm dial is entirely painted with lume so that the markers on it are illumated in the dark in negative relief.
The watch’s 0.2mm dial is entirely painted with lume so that the markers on it are illumated in the dark in negative relief.

One of my favorite moments when lockdown lifted was a video sent to me by Jean-Christophe Babin as he and Buonamassa were discussing the dials over lunch. I love a white dial chronograph. There is something so appealingly pure about it, and the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT perfectly encapsulates this.

The end result, the special edition Bvlgari Octo Finissimo “White Light”, has been a nice success for us, and we are really grateful for the response of our readers and customers. One person I really want to thank is Adam Craniotes, who has been a very big champion of this project.


2020 Ralph Lauren for The Rake Negroni Polo Bear Watch

42mm, limited to 200 pieces in steel

The opening to my story on the Ralph Lauren Negroni Bear watch goes like this:

“His countenance is known the world over. His visage has become an obsession for men and women alike. There are legions devoted to his ineffable style, his ability to move effortlessly between sublime sports chic, pitch-perfect preppy-dom, and transcendent black tie. He is the celebrity’s cause célèbre, with many, from Kanye West to Drake to John Mayer, smitten by him. And the mere rumor of his appearance on a skateboard literally broke the Internet, with millions of fans vying for the chance to meet him. He says little, but his warm, fathomless brown eyes speak volumes of his extraordinary depth. And while he may be small in stature, he exudes a heroism and strength of character that is singular and inspirational. Amid the turmoil of 2020, for many of us, he has become a symbol of hope and optimism. I speak, of course, of the Ralph Lauren Polo Bear, who at a mere 29 years of age, has ascended to the status of both fashion and popular culture icon.”

Which, I think, is a pretty good summation of the appeal of the Ralph Lauren Polo Bear.

The watch was inspired by Wei Koh’s favourite drink and reinterprets this iconic motif to show the Tuxedo Bear holding a negroni.
The watch was inspired by Wei Koh’s favourite drink and reinterprets this iconic motif to show the Tuxedo Bear holding a negroni.

In November 2019, the Polo Bear made his first appearance on the dials of three charming watches. The watches that marked the first Ralph Lauren Polo watches and set the stage for the Polo Player timepiece that launched last year featured our favorite ursine friend dressed in three of Lauren’s most iconic ensembles: the dinner jacket with frayed jeans and cowboy boots on the Tuxedo Bear; the tweed jacket, jodhpurs and riding boots on the Bedford Bear (after the town where Lauren resides); and the American flag sweater with denim jacket and jeans on the American Flag Bear.

Since the launch of the Polo Bear watch, I’ve secretly harbored a dream of a Rake Bear timepiece. After finally summoning the courage to request it, I was overjoyed to learn that Mr Ralph Lauren had given his personal assent. Immediately I began discussing with our team how our furry hero should be styled. Anyone who knows The Rake understands there is one cocktail that has become synonymous with the magazine, and that is the heady combination of bitter, vermouth and gin concocted in 1919 in Florence’s Café Casoni, where Count Camillo Negroni inspired the legendary barman Fosco Scarselli to create his namesake beverage. For the community of The Rake in 2020, the Negroni had become something of a symbol of resistance against despair; its distinct orange hue burning brightly against the darkness. Without hesitation, we requested that the Polo Bear be designed enjoying this libation, as he too would be standing firm and elegantly weathering the inclemencies of these unforgettable times. The dial of the watch features hands as well as the five o’clock index in distinct Negroni orange. Why the number five? Well, because it is always five o’clock somewhere.

The dial of the watch features hands as well as the five o’clock index in distinct Negroni orange. Why the number five? Well, because it is always five o’clock somewhere.
The dial of the watch features hands as well as the five o’clock index in distinct Negroni orange. Why the number five? Well, because it is always five o’clock somewhere.

What’s been really fun about the Negroni Bear watch is that so many people have posted images of themselves wearing the watch and dressed up in Polo style and, of course, drinking a Negroni. There are also some pretty cool bracelet options for the Negroni Bear watch, specifically a steel “beads of rice” bracelet from Switzerland as well as an epic Negroni stingray NATO strap made by our friend Huitcinq, ensuring that the Negroni Bear is certainly one of the best accessorized furry mammals around.


2020 Laurent Ferrier Classic Origin for Revolution & The Rake

With sector dial, 40mm, limited to 12 pieces in steel

In 2020, Laurent Ferrier celebrated his 10th anniversary with what might initially seem like a counter-intuitive move, which was to launch his most accessibly priced and simplest watch — the Classic Origin three-hand manual wind model. But this act of revisionist horological history has been in the works for a full decade. Said Ferrier with a smile, “It was important to me, 10 years ago, to position my brand at the highest level with a watch that had a substantial technical value, like the Tourbillon Double Spiral. But in my heart, I was always dreaming to create something that was a core expression of my purest values. A simple three-hand manual winding watch with a beautifully restrained movement expressing all my values — elegance, love for watchmaking history, ergonomics and finish at the highest level.”

Laurent Ferrier has used the sector dial to great effect, in particular in his Galet Square with the Only Watch 2015 pièce unique, the two limited editions for Chicago’s Swiss FineTiming and even in a luminous version with the borealis. But, to me, the most beautiful execution of this is the watch created by Aurel Bacs, the world’s greatest vintage watch auctioneer and expert. Around the time the Micro-Rotor watch emerged, Bacs came up with the idea of creating a pièce unique for himself with a sector dial. Using his extensive knowledge, he created what must objectively be called the most beautiful Laurent Ferrier watch of all time. It was so stunning that when he showed it to several of his team members at Phillips, including renowned experts and collectors Alex Ghotbi and Paul Boutros, they too wanted one. The watch was anointed as an icon when it was also ordered by none other than the incredible Auro Montanari or John Goldberger, historian, author and collector ne plus ultra.

Laurent Ferrier Classic Origin for Revolution & The Rake has its movement treated in a special yellow-gold finish that is micro-sandblasted, used previously in the Montre École watch
Laurent Ferrier Classic Origin for Revolution & The Rake has its movement treated in a special yellow-gold finish that is micro-sandblasted, used previously in the Montre École watch

While those watches featured a micro-rotor movement, when given an opportunity to create something on the Classic Origin hand-wound platform, I simply requested that Ferrier create something in the spirit of the Aurel Bacs watch, but without replicating it. The resulting design by Ferrier and Amandine Perrier is something I can only describe as ravishing. It features a two-tone dial with a cream center, surrounded by a printed sector track and Arabic markers. The dial is silver outside the central area, receives circular brushing under the indexes and is opaline under the minute track’s chemin de fer. Seconds are at six o’clock with a full seconds track and four enlarged markers at the compass points. The hands are Ferrier’s signature Assegai models that have been flame-blued and, to me, contrast perfectly with the cream of the dial. It should be noted that the Aurel Bacs watch features different hands selected by him, as well as a different styled crown.

While I had the choice of titanium or steel, I selected steel. Why? Because first, I found this more appropriate for a scientific-style watch and second, because we wanted to mount the watch on a steel “beads of rice” bracelet made in Japan with straight end-links — this is our preferred way of wearing the watch. This bracelet was directly inspired by Auro Montanari and his wearing of his own Laurent Ferrier Micro-Rotor Aurel Bacs scientific model on a vintage steel Gay Frères “beads of rice” style bracelet. A second Alcantara strap with beige lining fitted with a Laurent Ferrier pin buckle is included.

Laurent Ferrier Classic Origin for Revolution & The Rake on the Alcantara strap with beige lining fitted with Laurent Ferrier pin buckle

2020 Holthinrichs × Revolution Brutal Elegance Ornament

38mm, limited to 15 pieces in steel

One of my favorite discoveries of 2020 has been Holthinrichs Watches. Michiel Holthinrichs, who is based out of Delft in Amsterdam, has created precisely the type of watch that I feel the collector’s community was searching desperately for. Why? Well, first he created an all-new design that is simultaneously different and intriguing but somehow also familiar and comforting. Part of what makes his perfectly sized 38mm case so unique is his use of 3D printing, which allows a remarkable level of complexity, particularly in the amazing massive architectural voids he creates along the caseband and through his signature lugs, which are skeletonized along two axes and are, to me, reminiscent of the flying buttresses of France’s iconic Nantes Cathedral. I think it will come as no surprise that Michiel was an architect in a previous life. If there was a prize for sexiest modern watch lugs, I would be engraving Michiel’s name on the trophy.

The second thing I love about Holthinrichs is that each and every watch is made by him —meaning he applies the angling to the handmade hands and he is the one applying the angles and the engraving to the baseplates and bridges of every one of his highly modified vintage Peseux movements. In a world where automation, even in the rarefied field of horology, rules the day, it is refreshingly human to have the hand of the man whose name is on the dial actually finish and assemble every timepiece that leaves his workshop. The closest equivalent I can think of is the ultra cool Akira Nakai of Rough World, aka Rauh-Welt Begriff, the famed Japanese Porsche customiser who insists to fit each and every car with his signature fender flares, nose and speed tail personally.

A closer look at the sandblasted-type finish dial contrasted by high-polished angular applied Breguet numerals on the Holthinrichs Brutal Elegance Ornament for Revolution
A closer look at the sandblasted-type finish dial contrasted by high-polished angular applied Breguet numerals on the Holthinrichs Brutal Elegance Ornament for Revolution
A view of the skeleton lugs and a secret signature, 3D printed on the side of the case with the polished and the "raw" surfaces
A view of the skeleton lugs and a secret signature, 3D printed on the side of the case with the polished and the "raw" surfaces

Considering the not-insubstantial demand for Holthinrichs’ watches (OK, let’s just say he has a big-ass waiting list) I was surprised and touched that he reached out to propose a collaboration on a small series of handmade watches after I wrote an article on him. The idea that he had was intriguing. He explained, “I am a fan of both your magazines — Revolution which is one of the best and coolest watch magazines and websites around, and also The Rake which is really a unique voice for classic elegance. Why don’t we create a different design for each of these — one for Revolution and one for The Rake?”

For Revolution, Michiel created the B.E.O or Brutal Elegance Ornament. This features a 38mm steel case in his signature raw finish, which looks like a sandblasted treatment but is actually the way the metal emerges from the 3D printing process. The benefit to this is significant because although sandblasting creates a robust-looking finish, it is actually extremely delicate and scratches very easily. Conversely, the raw finish from Michiel’s 3D printing is relatively resistant to scratching. It is also uniquely identifiable as he is the only individual in watchmaking that uses this technique for his cases. As such, his “raw” look acts as a visual identifier for his brand. The beauty of the raw finish is sublimely contrasted by the high polishing applied to areas such as the lugs and the crown. This is a hugely labor-intensive process.

Michiel laughed, “I have to finish each of these cases with a small file and sandpaper to achieve the level of refinement I feel is necessary.” To keep the brutal theme going, Michiel selected a dial with a similarly brutal sandblasted-type finish. This is contrasted by stunning high-polished applied Breguet numerals. Said Michiel, “If you look closely, you will see these numerals have sharp straight edges to keep a maximum of dramatic contrast with the dial. This idea of dynamic tension between roughness and refinement is something I learned from architecture and perhaps most from Le Corbusier.”

For the Brutal Elegance Ornament, Michiel worked on different minute tracks, including applied markers. He finally arrived at a technique that looks like dots fixed to the dial but actually aren’t. He explained, “Because my dials are also 3D printed, I could specify to have these dots for the minutes that stand out in relief from the dial, but they are actually part of the printing process.” The result is a watch that expresses a sense of refined brutality that Michiel complemented with a rough and heavy buffalo strap.

For the movement, he wanted to keep the sandblasted effect and used a stunning frosted finish to the white rhodium-treated mainplate and bridges. The evidence of laborious hand work is on full display here. Said Michiel, “All the edges of the bridges are beveled and polished by me with sharp inward and outward angles that collectors will recognize as signs of real handmade anglage. There’s no milling machine that is capable of creating these sharp inward angles. Similarly, all the screw heads are black-polished by hand to achieve a mirror-like surface that doesn’t reflect light.”

The NOS Peseux 7001 movement used for the Holthinrichs Brutal Elegance Ornament for Revolution features the same sandblasted-type finish on its bridges as on the dial

2020 Holthinrichs × The Rake Refined Elegance Ornament

38mm, limited to 15 pieces in steel

For The Rake’s R.E.O or Refined Elegance Ornament, Michiel began with his high-polished 38mm Ornament steel case. He explained, “Immediately when I thought of a dandy’s watch, I thought of a grand feu enamel dial. But this would immediately shift our target price of 5,500 euros up dramatically. So I ended up using the Japanese lacquer that I have experience with from my Blue Delft Limited Edition.” This material, also called “stretched lacquer”, is applied in layers, and when it is finished, comes remarkably close to the look of grand feu enamel but without the fragility or super high cost. Said Michiel, “Because I knew we were going to have to drill holes in the dial for the applied Breguet numerals, I thought this was the best course.” Michiel’s attention to detail came down to creating a slightly different type of Breguet numeral than he used on the Brutal Elegance dial. He explained, “Here I used numerals with a softer, rounder profile which I feel complemented the lush, stunning high-gloss look of the Japanese lacquer dial better.”

A closer look at the white stretched lacquer dial contrasted by high-polished rounded applied Breguet numerals on the Holthinrichs Refined Elegance Ornament Limited Edition for The Rake Revolution
A closer look at the white stretched lacquer dial contrasted by high-polished rounded applied Breguet numerals on the Holthinrichs Refined Elegance Ornament Limited Edition for The Rake

For the minute indexes and his logo, Michiel selected a soft grey pad-printing technique which evokes faded indexes in vintage enamel. He explained, “Initially I tried black print but it came off too harsh. I wanted something more subtle and timeless-looking and, after many experiments, arrived at this grey.” For the movement, by this point, Michiel and our team had grown so enamored with the frosted finish applied to the Brutal Elegance Ornament that we wanted to continue with this finish for our Rake watch. Said Michiel, “There was, of course, the temptation to do a Côtes de Geneve and blued screws finish, but there is something both charming and unusual about the frosted finish. A lot of watchmakers don’t like to use this because it shows every mark that’s made on the movement. But it is also reminiscent of the finish that was used in traditional British watchmaking in the 18th century. Since The Rake is based in London, we thought this could be a fun nod to the magazine’s roots.”

The takeaway from our collaboration with Holthinrichs is that he considers every detail of his watches over and over. He explained, “We also included a kind of hidden message in the caseband of the watch which is deeply recessed, so it is subtle and something for the owner to discover. I love little touches like this.”

Finally, for the Refined Elegance watch, Michiel and I wanted to add another signature touch in the form of a “beads of rice” bracelet reminiscent of the vintage Gay Frères bracelet worn with a wide array of watches by renowned collectors such as John Goldberger, otherwise known as Auro Montanari.

The NOS Peseux 7001 movement used for the Holthinrichs Refined Elegance Ornament Limited Edition for The Rake features a sandblasted-type finish on its bridges
The NOS Peseux 7001 movement used for the Holthinrichs Refined Elegance Ornament Limited Edition for The Rake features a sandblasted-type finish on its bridges

2020 Moritz Grossmann Benu 37 for Revolution & The Rake

With grand feu enamel dial, 37mm, limited to eight pieces in steel

Christine Hutter is, in addition to being a watchmaker, the only woman to have founded an independent watchmaking brand and run it as CEO. From the perspective of technical creativity, her brand Moritz Grossmann ranks up there with some of the most sublime in her field. Her watchmaking pedigree couldn’t be more flawless. “Watchmaking is in our blood in Glashütte and so many of us have parents and even grandparents who were watchmakers,” she shared. “For everyone, the name Moritz Grossmann is incredibly meaningful because he founded the German School of Watchmaking here in our town in 1878. Students from all over Germany and beyond would come here to learn this craft. Grossmann was also a prolific watchmaker in his own right, and his dial designs and movements in his pocket watches contributed a great deal to what we think of today as German watchmaking.” Indeed, Grossmann, who created his eponymous brand in 1854, was revered by horologists throughout Europe. He even received first prize from the British Horological Institute in London for his 1866 treatise, “On the Detached Lever Escapement”.

Moritz Grossman CEO Christine Hutter
Moritz Grossman CEO Christine Hutter

Thus inspired, Hutter acquired the rights to the Moritz Grossmann name in 2008. She would set up a manufacture with the expressed purpose of ensuring that “the Moritz Grossmann name would never be sullied by ETA ébauche movements”, in a provocative statement about her in-house movement intentions.

In 2018, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the brand, Christine Hutter curated an amazing collection of vintage Moritz Grossmann watches paired with her timepieces which was auctioned by Christie’s. Amongst the auction lots was a very interesting and unique Atum 37mm × 9.2mm slim Hommage wristwatch that was paired with a pocket watch of the movement number 6126 made by Moritz Grossmann in 1872. To me, this wristwatch featured one of the most stunning dials I’d ever set my eyes on. The elegance of the ultra slim Roman numerals surrounded by the delicately printed chemin-de-fer minute indicator and contrasted by the four diamond-shaped markers at the cardinal points was wonderful. It was the most perfect example of Zen reductionist tranquility I’d seen in recent years and, in some ways, it staged a serious challenge to Laurent Ferrier’s wonderful language of restrained elegance. But this hand-fired enamel dial watch was only created in this one unique execution. Or so I thought, until I had the opportunity to speak to Christine Hutter on her visit to Singapore last year.

The Moritz Grossmann Autum “Hommage” paired with an original 1872 Moritz Grossmann pocket watch that was auctioned by Christie’s was the spark for the entire project.
The Moritz Grossmann Autum “Hommage” paired with an original 1872 Moritz Grossmann pocket watch that was auctioned by Christie’s was the spark for the entire project.

Remarking on the majesty of the auctioned watch, she asked if we might consider collaborating on a version of the timepiece. Of course I was humbled and delighted to acquiesce. She pointed out that the Benu Heritage 37mm case, which was launched in April of 2018, was exactly the same shape and dimension and could offer us the perfect platform to start.

We soon returned to her very original idea when she founded Moritz Grossmann, which was to forge a link between Saxon watchmaking’s past and future. From the past, we selected a grand feu enamel dial similar to the pièce unique auctioned by Christie’s. But instead of white, we decided on an ivory-colored dial with black Roman indexes, contrasted by a soft, seductive deep purple chemin de fer which perfectly complemented the signature flamed purple color on her lovely spade-shaped hands. To perfectly expressed the idea of ultimate horological tranquility, we decided to omit the seconds hand. This would, after all, be the watch of a flaneur or a boulevardier — an individual for whom time is a luxury — and it would simply not do to allow the banal encroachment of a small seconds indicator.

A closer look at the Moritz Grossmann Benu 37 Steel with Grand Feu Enamel Dial for Revolution & The Rake's grand feu enamel ivory dial and the watchmaker's incredibly delicate hands heat treated in their signature purple
A closer look at the Moritz Grossmann Benu 37 Steel with Grand Feu Enamel Dial for Revolution & The Rake's grand feu enamel ivory dial and the watchmaker's incredibly delicate hands heat treated in their signature purple

The movement would, of course, be the German silver masterpiece of the Benu 37, which allowed for the unencumbered view of the engraved escape wheel cock. The balance wheel and winder of the movement are now also manufactured in-house, allowing Christine Hutter the dignity of a movement she can call truly in-house. The end result, the Benu 37 in steel with grand feu enamel dial for Revolution & The Rake is one of my favorite of our collaborations, simply because it epitomizes a spirit of total authenticity embodied by Moritz Grossmann and Christine Hutter. And, if I may say so, at 37mm in diameter by 9.7mm in height and rendered as an expression of 19th century evocative calm, it is the perfect watch for that individual who lives an understated life full of nuanced riches and calm meditational sybaritism.

The Moritz Grossmann Benu 37 Steel with Grand Feu Enamel Dial for Revolution & The Rake is powered by the Manufactory calibre 102.1 which is forged in untreated German silver and decorated with wide Glashütte ribbing over the expansive three-quarter plate, marked with gold chatons and annealed brown-violet screws
The Moritz Grossmann Benu 37 Steel with Grand Feu Enamel Dial for Revolution & The Rake is powered by the Manufactory calibre 102.1 which is forged in untreated German silver and decorated with wide Glashütte ribbing over the expansive three-quarter plate, marked with gold chatons and annealed brown-violet screws

2020 Reservoir Hydrosphere × The Rake × Fari Islands

45mm, limited to 100 pieces in bronze

To complement the bronze case of this special Reservoir Hydrosphere, we found a dial with the perfect color of the rising sun and complemented by a beautiful sunray effect emanating from the center.
To complement the bronze case of this special Reservoir Hydrosphere, we found a dial with the perfect color of the rising sun and complemented by a beautiful sunray effect emanating from the center.

François Moreau has always had a fascination with gauges. Something that becomes abundantly clear at our first meeting in Mexico City during the 2019 SIAR — an event that now seems like it took place a lifetime ago considering the seismic changes of the last year. Immediately, we began to discuss the beautiful pragmatism of gauges like the Smith speedometer and tachymeter mounted to my 1972 Norton Commando as well as the VDO gauges that had presided over the stripped-out Spartan cabin of my 1979 Porsche 930 Turbo, a car that used to try to kill me on a daily basis as a young man living in Los Angeles.

To be fair, during our conversation, I had to admit I knew very little about his brand specializing in gauge-themed watches with jump hour and retrograde minute displays. So how did I go from a first meeting to discussing a limited edition? That was the moment I set eyes on François Moreau’s diving watch named the Hydrosphere. With the Hydrosphere, you get something totally different. It has to be the single most out-of-the-box, take-the-path-less-travelled, march-to-beat-of-its-own-drummer dive watch in existence, and the one and only jump hour retrograde minute dive watch in Christendom.

In this special edition, the indexes are made in rose gold, filled with luminous material, then applied to the dial for an extra touch of vibrancy and richness from the regular production watch.
In this special edition, the indexes are made in rose gold, filled with luminous material, then applied to the dial for an extra touch of vibrancy and richness from the regular production watch.

“Wait a minute. Hold up a second,” you say. Because you, too, have immediately zeroed in on the fact that a dive watch needs to have a unidirectional dive bezel to show elapsed time. And that this elapsed time is read from the bezel relative to the minute hand, which would absolutely not work in the context of a retrograde minute hand. Well, that’s just what is so damn cool about the Hydrosphere. Moreau has created the very first dive watch bezel that functions perfectly with his retrograde minute indicator.

When the opportunity arose to create a special edition watch with Reservoir, it was without hesitation that I asked for it to be on the Hydrosphere platform. As it turns out, we had the perfect theme. We will be opening our first physical retail shop in 2021. While many speculated that this would be in a major city like London, New York or Singapore, our first boutique will be located in the Maldives — specifically 50 minutes from Malé on a reef owned by our partners Pontiac Land, where they have reclaimed three islands for three different hotels comprising a total of almost 300 villas on the water.

Said Moreau, “We selected bronze because this has been a material for some of Revolution’s best-selling special edition watches, including the IWC Mark 11 in 36mm with a George Cleverley 200-year-old Russian reindeer hide strap. I recall all 150 pieces of this watch sold in 18 minutes in 2018 when it was launched. But even more because in the context of a diving watch, bronze was always the material used to create ancient marine elements like hardware, oar locks, latches and even propellers. The use of bronze gave our Hydrosphere the sense that it was an artifact from a Jules Verne fantasy. We loved the idea of this watch developing a beautiful patina because it was used in the stunning blue waters of the Maldives. To complement the bronze case, we found a dial with the perfect color of the rising sun and complemented by a beautiful sunray effect emanating from the center. Then, we found the perfect tone of brown ceramic for the bezel insert.”

IWC Mark 11 watch sold out in 18 mins according to The Rake Online

Note that on this special edition, the indexes are made in rose gold, filled with luminous material, then applied to the dial for an extra touch of vibrancy and richness from the regular production watch. The entire design was an interesting exercise in playing with much warmer color codes such as the cream-colored Luminova used on the bezel. The end result is a watch with a totally different character, much warmer and somehow sensual, and we love it. With the watch, we include both a rubber strap and a NATO strap with bronze hardware and keepers. This is an all-new strap design for us and is exclusive to the Revolution model. The Reservoir × Revolution Bronze Hydrosphere will be made in a limited edition of 100 pieces and is priced at CHF 4,350 including VAT. It also comes with a print of an all-original artwork by Alain Bouldouyre, commissioned by Reservoir to tell the story of our collaboration in the lush and wonderous Maldives.

Said Moreau, “It’s funny, when I look at the watch and dream of wearing it in the Maldives, I am filled with optimism. In some ways, the watch fills me with hopefulness for the future.” I am most inclined to agree with him.

Tags