This is a review of what may have been the hottest watch of 2013. It certainly was based on internet buzz, and when we first laid hands on the Omega Speedmaster Dark Side Of The Moon (ref. 322.214.171.124.01.003) earlier in that year we knew it was going to be big. Finally, aBlogtoWatch offers a full, hands-on review of the famous all-black ceramic version of the new Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph which we are proud to offer as our first watch review of 2014.
Once a design is given the green light by the R&D and prototyping departments, it makes its way on to "mass manufacturing" – which probably corresponds roughly to the number major brands make when they are just testing their designs. There are about ten different CNC machines in operation at Julien Coudray, and by looking at that facility above you may rightfully ask, why is this necessary to make just 50 watches a year?
The Girard-Perregaux Sea Hawk case is in steel and sized at 44mm wide, though it does wear large given the broad lugs and 17.1mm of case thickness. The case is water resistant to 1000 meters, with a helium escape valve, and inside the watch is the Girard-Perregaux in-house made caliber GP03300-0074 automatic movement. It has a module on it that offers additional features such as the power reserve indicator, date, and subsidiary seconds dial. While asymmetrical, the dial is nevertheless well-balanced. I also happen to adore dive watches with power reserve indicators on them. It has a power reserve of 46 hours by the way and operates at 4 Hz.
With today's manufacturing abilities, creating the microscopic parts of a tourbillon escapement is difficult, but is nonetheless manageable, and so the real challenge lies in regulation, as the constantly rotating tourbillon is not only much more difficult to adjust than a fixed balance wheel, but is also a lot more time consuming to repeatedly check for accuracy as adjustments are performed. By contrast, according to Antoine Martin, the tourbillons in their watches are adjusted for five positions and for temperature changes; which is an appreciable, and again, not so ubiquitous effort.
Before we get into that, though, we need to dive into the bracelet that really is what most of us know Speidel for; the Twist-o-Flex. They introduced the flexible bracelet in 1959, when they had licensed it from it's inventor, Karl E. Stiegele. It ended up becoming such an important part of their brand identity that Speidel's logo became a Twist-o-Flex tied into a bow. The men's model was quickly followed by a women's bracelet (in 1961), as well as a children's one (1963).
1. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Ceramic Watch Review