Buying Time: Titanium Watches (Panerai, IWC, JLC, and Vacheron)

Titanium Watches

Due to its relatively light weight, most watch enthusiasts are apt to recognize a watch with a titanium case through the simple act of picking it up.   Savvier collectors may recognize it from its flat, grey color, presuming it is unpolished.  Like gold or platinum (and unlike steel), titanium is a pure metal — its chemical element symbol is “Ti” and it sits at #22 on the periodic table of the elements.  The two most useful properties of the metal are corrosion resistance and the highest strength-to-density ratio of any metallic element.  More practically speaking (and as it pertains to watchmaking), titanium is in many cases as strong as steel yet much lighter, and it is highly resistant to the corrosive effects of sea water. Titanium is thus most often used for sport watches and dive watches, as opposed to dress watches; though overall it remains an uncommon choice of metal for higher end watches.  Even so, the metal is no stranger to even the most elite watch manufacturers (yes, even Patek Philippe makes titanium watches, but that’s another story), as you will see today.

In this week’s episode of Buying Time, we’ll take a look at four watches that are crafted using titanium.

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TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Ceramic “Black Phantom” and Other New Models (Pics, Specs, Pricing)

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Ceramic Black Phantom Cal 16 chronograph watch - Perpetuelle

In conjunction with its announcement as Official Time Keeper and Official Watch of the World Surf League & Big Wave Tour, TAG Heuer has unveiled its new lineup of Aquaracer 300m Ceramic watches.  In the 41mm case size are time + date models.  In the 43mm case size are the chronograph models.  All with ceramic bezels, 300m water resistance, automatic Swiss mechanical calibers, luminescent dial markers, diving bell engraved caseback and unidirectional rotating bezel.  What caught my eye were the limited edition “Black Phantom” models featuring black titanium cases, and the non-limited “Black Version” models with black titanium cases and yellow dial and strap accents.

With estimated pricing from $2,400 – $4,050 these watches are an attractive option for those looking to step into a sporty, mechanical TAG Heuer dive watch.  See all the new Aquaracers 300m, available starting October/November 2015, below.

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Will the Girard-Perregaux Hawk Collection Be Discontinued?

Girard-Perregaux Sea Hawk Vintage Style Ref 49960-11-636-BBBA - Perpetuelle

This new version of the Girard-Perregaux Sea Hawk — with a bit of a vintage look to it (the faux-faded hour dot markers and hands) — was recently revealed over at Watchtime.net (German language site).   As I was looking around for more details on the watch, my interweb travels led me to other discussions, namely what seems to be the impending discontinuation (entirely) of the GP Hawk collection (which is the collection in which this watch resides).   While this would be a loss for many fans and also in some sense a loss for GP as the Hawk collection is the brand’s only “sport” line, this March 2015 interview with then recently appointed Girard-Perregaux CEO Antonio Calce (formerly of Corum) seems to suggest that the present view is that Hawk does not have a place in the Girard-Perregaux family.  Calce seems to indicate we will see the beginnings of a return to “heritage” in 2016, with a full roll-out in 2017.  Which is interesting because from what I have read the Sea Hawk does have a decent history within GP.  A lot of speculation here, for sure.  It will be interesting to see what happens, stay tuned.

♥♥♥ Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 Chronograph

Stunning…

Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 Chronograph - Perpetuelle

Named Cornes de vache 1955 because of its distinctively-shaped lugs (cornes de vache translates as:  cow horns), the latest release from Vacheron Cosntantin is a contemporary interpretation of a model created by the manufacture in 1955, the Vacheron Constantin reference 6087.  The 6087 was the first water-resistant and anti-magnetic chronograph crafted by Vacheron Constantin, “one of the three chronographs from the Manufacture that are most keenly coveted by collectors.”  Alongside its emblematic lugs, the original ref 6087 featured a 35 mm-diameter round case in 18-carat yellow gold featuring twin “mushroom-type” pushpieces and a screwed-in back.  This double-pusher chronograph was equipped with a tachometric scale was powered by hand-wound Caliber 492, itself protected against magnetism by a soft iron cage. We’ll take a closer look at this new modern day interpretation, below.

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