The ginger prince chooses an orange hand Explorer II

Harry and his Exp II

Harry and his Exp II

Here we see young Harry Wales, brother of the Duke of Cambridge (Wills) sporting his lovely “polar” dial Rolex Explorer II in 42mm.

It’s an excellent choice for a young man on-the-go such as Harry with all his wounded warrior charity work, military service and active lifestyle. The hour hand is independently adjustable for travel to a new local time while the orange “GMT” or reference time hand goes once around in 24 hours, kept in check with the non rotatable 24 hour bezel.

The orange hand Explorer II is a tribute to the old Explorer II from the early until late ’70s that also sported a distinctive orange hand but only came with a black dial.

Explorer II model 1655

Though the 1655 vintage models are highly collectible, ¬†I think the latest generation (model 216570) is much more useful, functions-wise and a lot more solid in so many ways. Glad I have one. In white, too though it also comes with a black dial ūüôā

My Explorer II "polar"

My Explorer II “polar”

Below is a lovely billboard that greets visitors and skiers that get out of the cattle car cable car at the top of the Klein Matterhorn in Switzerland. Relevant product placement in advertising is important!

Rolex billboard - Klein Matterhorn

Rolex billboard – Klein Matterhorn




My Reliable Travel Companion

Was recently in Asia and Europe (including the Basel World show) and this lovely Patek Philippe 5164A Aquanaut Travel Time accompanied me faithfully and accurately the entire time.

Aquanaut Travel Time

Aquanaut Travel Time

What I love about this watch, in addition to its low profile good looks (it doesn’t scream “look at me! I’m a Patek!”) is the amazingly simple and useful dual timezone complication with day and night indicators for local and home time. You can learn more about all the details at the Patek Philippe website but let me just sum it up: Easy to use, highly functional, handsome, accurate, and a pleasure to wear.

The engine

The engine

The movement is a version of the now workhorse caliber 324 and beats the previous iterations of Patek’s Travel Time watches that were hand winding. Coincidentally, my good friend in Switzerland and I were discussing how cool it would have been had Patek originally put the movement in a Nautilus case and lo and behold a few days after our chat, Patek premiered the new Nautilus 5990 Travel Time Chronograph!(¬†¬†) Personally, I think this watch is not something I would have done (combining travel time with a chrono) as it just looks too busy and possibly confusing, but then again I’m not Thierry Stern (see my paparazzi shot of T.S. below sneaking a smoke break during the Basel show between halls 1 & 2). I really don’t like the fact that Patek’s automatic chronographs (5980, 5960) do NOT have a running seconds hand and can only have one when the chrono is activated, thus also starting minutes and hours counting. I think the Travel Time is great as-is and with a continuous sweeping seconds and the globe-like detail in the date ring, which reinforces that travel theme. I see their target clientele is getting younger, hence all the new doo dads in steel sports watches. But then again, perhaps I’m a bit prejudiced. Anyway, my 5164 is going to see many¬†more miles in the future!

My Mecca

My Mecca

This was my first ever visit to Switzerland and the Baselworld exhibition! It’s sensory overload and even if you’re an incurable WIS, you’ll grow weary of all the booths and watches there. I did manage to spot some celebs of both the watch world and Hollywood, which was good fun.

Thierry Stern, popping out for a smoke

Thierry Stern, popping out for a smoke

By the way, I do highly recommend a visit to Switzerland. A lot of the country is like a post card of how one imagines Europe to be (since Switzerland wasn’t razed by bombing during WWII). Lovely cities, nice people and efficient transportation everywhere! In addition to Basel, I also visited Schaffhausen (IWC and Moser & Co.), Zermatt to view the famous, non-Disney Matterhorn and a few towns in between. I made new friends there and I’ll definitely go back one day in the near future.

Rhine Falls, Schaffhausen

Rhine Falls, Schaffhausen


The Matterhorn

The Matterhorn

Conveniently place Rolex ad at the top of a mountain cable car docking station

Conveniently placed Rolex “Explorer” ad at the top of a mountain cable car docking station

An interesting find in my recent China travels

This automatic Patek Philippe watch was discovered in the southern city of Guangzhou at an interesting market I know of that deals in various antiques, some “antiques” and a whole lotta high end watches if you know where to look and ask.

The watch was in very good condition, probably seldom worn, and came with the original paperwork & box from Patek Philippe. Also an interesting story behind the the organization that commissioned the engraving and issuance of the watch that can found here:

Though a bit small at about 35mm, I was attracted to its simplicity and classic styling. Look at the beautiful movement, too – one of Patek’s most famous and beautiful! Though I’m not a big fan of the integrated ’70s style bracelets, this fine mesh one didn’t bother me that much as it had more play than other integrated Patek bracelets I’ve tried on from that era


And now for something non Swiss…

This is a “You Yi” (Friendship) watch from the Suzhou Watch Company. It’s a little kitschy with the seagulls, Chinese numeric markings and background picture of what I think is the Forbidden City at Tian An Men Square, but a fun watch, overall.

It’s got a ’70s style case and is hand winding with a locally produced movement though probably actually assembled in the late 80s or early 90s using a mish mash of parts. Back when China was a hardcore planned economy with entirely state owned factories, virtually every major region/city had a watch factory of its own ¬†with people proclaiming that so-and-so factory produced the best watches out of local pride. In my experience, Chinese movements are a bit crude and basic but they are robust, get the job done and are pretty reliable. ¬†Naturally even the Chinese watch industry has had to consolidate and downsize but they are still making some good stuff, including tourbillons and have virtually mastered reproducing basic Swiss movements like the ETA 7750 and 2824 probably due to Swatch Group having many factories in country and the ability to use machining now available to them thanks to the Swiss.You Yi

How “Swiss” is a Swiss watch? Maybe more, now…

For those losing sleep at night worrying about the origins of their new “Swiss Made” watch:

After six years of work, the Swiss Parliament has passed the Swissness bill, which sets at 60% the minimum rate of Swiss value for Swiss industrial products. 

The FH (Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry), which has been closely involved in this issue and has consistently supported the 60% rate, welcomed the move. 

The bill will bolster the reputation of ¬†Swiss products abroad and answers the wishes of consumers, who rightly expect that products marked “Swiss Made” should be manufactured for the most part in Switzerland.¬†

Approval of the Swissness bill was a prerequisite for advancing the project to strengthen Swiss made in the watch industry. No further obstacles or time limits now stand in the way of commencing the revision procedure.

Definitely a step in the right direction with more and more players entering the field and prices getting higher and higher.