Justin Mastine-Frost

Posts by Justin:

12.06.2018

OPINION: The “McQueen” Submariner: What we really know, what we don’t, and what actually matters

By now, you’ve seen the news everywhere. Phillips auctions touting their upcoming sale with headlines like “Phillips to Sell Steve McQueen’s Rolex Submariner”, and lines that read as “a historically important and previously unknown Rolex Submariner owned and worn by Steve McQueen.” (copied directly from the Phillips Auctions website at time of writing). As soon as this hit the news, I had to read and re-read what was being presented, as I – and numerous collectors and industry professionals – couldn’t help but question some of the details of what some would interpret as an intricately woven tale of a…

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22.05.2018

IN-DEPTH: the Drive de Cartier Extra Flat in steel — driving the value proposition

The story in a second: A lot of value for not a lot of case. Though “perceived value” has become the new marketing-speak of the last couple of years in the watch industry, there still aren’t that many brands in the luxury watch industry that have taken any real significant strides. Sure, we’ve seen prices nudge their way down from Zenith through to Bell & Ross, but in my opinion these moves have been more about correcting past price creep rather than delivering greater bang-for-your-buck than what’s already been on the market. Of all the players at the big table,…

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18.05.2018

IN-DEPTH: The Hublot Big Bang Unico GMT Titanium

The story in a second: A funky and practical Hublot packed with style and substance. Launched early last year in Geneva, the Big Bang Unico GMT — which technically is a dual time zone watch and not a true GMT, as there’s no hand running on a 24-hour scale — is the first arrival in the Big Bang family with a multiple time zone indication, powered by a then new in-house caliber with a few tricks up its sleeve. Offered in King Gold, carbon, and titanium casing options, we were instantly drawn to the relatively understated appearance of the titanium…

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14.05.2018

HANDS-ON: The Patek Philippe Ref. 5524 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time

Effectively a new dial and case metal of an existing reference, initially launched in white gold with a blue dial, what makes this new version of the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time really interesting is the way it was unveiled, and the sister piece that accompanies it. It’s hard to believe, but Patek Philippe finally joined the modern world of social media in the week leading up to Baselworld 2018, and their first big announcement through the channel was this new release, alongside a “ladies version” measuring 37.5mm in diameter, which has been dubbed the ref. 7234R. Both sizes are powered…

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08.05.2018

HANDS-ON: The record-shattering Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic

The tit-for-tat battle between Piaget and Bulgari for title of “Master of the Ultrathin” rages on, and it would seem Bulgari has struck another blow at Baselworld in 2018 with the new Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic. The new piece dethrones Piaget’s latest self-winder, the Altiplano Ultimate Automatic 910P that launched ahead of SIHH 2018 as the new thinnest automatic watch, and at the same time swipes the title from Audemars Piguet of world’s thinnest tourbillon, which the brand has been holding onto since 1986. Bulgari was able to swipe the title for thinnest tourbillon movement in 2015; however, it took…

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03.05.2018

HANDS-ON: The Zenith Defy Classic Skeleton — a Defy Lab-inspired entry level to the collection

It sort of feels like all we’ve been hearing about from Zenith through the last year leading up to Baselworld 2018 has been all things Defy. And fair enough, the Defy Lab is technically the biggest thing since the horological equivalent of sliced bread (the winding rotor perhaps?). As we got closer to the fair, it was clear that there’s no way a production version of the Defy Lab could be ready in time. Instead, Zenith have treated us to a couple of new models in the collection, including an entry-level offering that takes a healthy dose of design cues…

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30.04.2018

HANDS-ON: With the winning Omega Olympic Official Timekeeper collection

Though technically introduced ahead of Baselworld 2018, the fair provided the first opportunity to take a first-hand look at the latest Omega watch collection for the 2018 Olympics, and to be perfectly frank, I was more than impressed. More oft than not, Omega’s releases tied to the Olympic Games can be quite hit-and-miss. Case in point, the Mark II Speedmaster launched for Rio in 2016 was a home run, whereas the white dial Seamaster for the Vancouver 2010 Games (with a cherry-red bezel) was a bit lacklustre. This year, a collection of five dressy vintage-inspired Seamaster watches (one in each…

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28.04.2018

LIST: The 10 best independent watches of Baselworld 2018

The dust of Baselworld 2018 has finally settled, and while there was a ton of quick news to hammer through, there are certain topics that require a little more digestion. Case in point: the world of small independent watchmaking had a lot on offer this year, both outlandish and understated. Having seen and handled innumerable watches during the duration of the fair, sifting through the archives to come to a decision on who led the pack required both patience and a healthy dose of decompression. Of course, there were some obvious frontrunners from the likes of H. Moser, Angelus, and…

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19.04.2018

HANDS-ON: The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph Ref. 5968A — A Patek for the cool kids

One of the more entertaining games to play at Baselworld 2018 is: “Who is Brand X after with this watch?” In some cases the answer can be as clear as mud, but in the case of the new Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph it’s a bit of a no-brainer. Bright orange accents on its dial, and sold with both black and bright orange straps, this is the new king-casual Patek for a new generation. With the steel Nautilus in brutally short supply these days, this new Aquanaut is expected to be the new entry point into the Patek Philippe universe. Having taken a closer…

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18.04.2018

HANDS-ON: The Zenith Defy El Primero Zero G

Since the launch of the Defy 21 last year, and the shockingly innovative Defy Lab later in 2017, it wasn’t a matter of speculation that more releases for the new collection were coming to Baselworld in 2018. The new Zero G is this year’s Halo watch from the brand as we wait for the groundbreaking new escapement to trickle down to series production. Though this is a new execution, the Zero G’s clever gyroscopic escapement — said to have been based on the concept of the gimbals used in old marine chronometers — is nothing new. Oddly enough, the first…

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17.04.2018

HANDS-ON: The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Moon Black Enamel

Last year, Jaquet Droz rolled out a first round of the Grande Seconde Moon in three editions, including two steel models, and an ivory-coloured enamel dial cased in red gold. Building on the model’s success (and the growing popularity of black and gold wristwatches across the board), the brand added a fourth model to the collection at Baselworld 2018 in the form of this elegant-yet-modern black enamel model cased in red gold. Given how smitten I was with the first iterations — especially the beautiful level of detail in the execution of their moonphase complication — I couldn’t wait to take a…

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14.04.2018

INTRODUCING: The big bad Hublot Big Bang MP-11 14-Days 3D Carbon

Given how much Hublot unveiled in Geneva back in January, the volume of additional novelties the brand had ready to go for Baselworld 2018 came as a bit of a surprise. Though nearly faced with a little analysis paralysis, given the broad range of models to choose from, getting a closer look at the Big Bang MP-11 14-Days 3D Carbon was a real no-brainer. The melding of the classic Big Bang case with the clever engineering of the Hublot Masterpiece collection is a total win-win, and provided ample motivation to take a closer look. Vital statistics As it says in…

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12.04.2018

HANDS-ON: The Glashütte Original Vintage Sixties –  the ultimate green dial of 2018?

Now a third year into the Sixties series of watches — one that started with a limited production of five colourways of the watch seen here in 2016, and a similar set of colours in a square chronograph for 2017 — Glashütte Original have opted to cut choice out of the equation for Baselworld 2018. A beautifully textured green dial, stamped using vintage dies from the brand’s archives, will be available from boutiques and retailers for a one-year period (rather than being limited to a specific volume of watches). We’ve been seeing green making the rounds of luxury watch brands for…

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06.04.2018

HANDS-ON: The Chopard L.U.C Quattro goes casual, and has never looked better

Chopard have had a really solid last couple of years when it comes to their new releases, and all told they did not disappoint at Baselworld 2018. Some funky new colours were added to the Mille Miglia line, but one of the real stars of the show was this new take on the L.U.C Quattro. Past iterations of the piece, while technically brilliant, have always come off as quite conservative. For 2018, the Quattro takes on much more casual airs, and though limited to only 50 pieces worldwide, we can’t help but hope that a similar variant will make it…

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05.04.2018

HANDS-ON: The Hublot Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

It was only a matter of time before Hublot wound up in the smartwatch game, and somewhere in the onslaught of new product, Baselworld 2018 was the time and place for it to become a reality. The Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, or BBR2FWCR for short, follows on the heels of other LVMH Group Smart Watches (TAG Heuer and Louis Vuitton are already in the game), though Hublot tell a pretty interesting story about this piece’s creation when compared to its siblings. So, the story goes (or how the brand chooses to weave it) that during a…

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29.03.2018

HANDS-ON: The Hublot Big Bang Unico Titanium Chronograph 42mm – a more compact bang

Amidst the pile of big and bold Hublot offerings at Baselworld 2018, it was a pleasant surprise to see a rare level of conservatism land on the table in the form of a more compact Big Bang Unico Chronograph — four references measuring 42mm in diameter, offered in King Gold, King Gold and ceramic, titanium and ceramic, and the titanium and ceramic model seen here. For some, one of the biggest gripes about the Big Bang is its significant presence on the wrist, and after closer examination, this slightly reduced variant puts the chronograph on just enough of a diet.…

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26.03.2018

HANDS-ON: Red alert – the Hublot Big Bang Unico Red Magic

There’s been a lot of big colour surfacing at Baselworld 2018, but little that stop traffic in the same fashion as the Hublot Big Bang Red Magic. Though we can’t be surprised that Hublot would deliver something as loud and in-your-face as this new release, certain colours of ceramic have long been known as very challenging to produce, and red in particular has long been avoided for exactly that reason. Being heavily invested in materials innovation, Hublot have forged ahead to deliver the first red ceramic watch on the market and, boy, is it ever red … Vital statistics At…

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24.03.2018

HANDS-ON: The TAG Heuer Monaco Bamford

In many ways, you could say that few people have had as significant an impact on the watch industry from a design standpoint in recent years than George Bamford. Beloved by many, despised by a good few at least, Bamford is single-handedly the reason why watch customisation is now so prevalent in offerings directly from watch manufacturers. After many years on his own, his recent collaborations with LVMH, selling brand-authorised custom offerings from the TAG Heuer, Zenith, and Bulgari catalogues, further legitimised his efforts, but this new release, unveiled at Baselworld 2018, kicks things up a healthy few notches. You’re…

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12.02.2018

HANDS-ON: A prestigious new entry point – the Vacheron Constantin FiftySix

Making luxury watches more approachable without compromising quality is a delicate art, and one that Vacheron Constantin have been quite successful at in recent years. With the unveiling of their all-new FiftySix collection, they have reaffirmed their commitment to delivering some serious, value-packed offerings. All told, the collection is comprised of six models, three in stainless steel and three in pink gold, and at the entry point of the collection we’re seeing a new and lower starting price for the brand with the steel FiftySix self-winding. This is the first time in a number of years that we’ve seen a…

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07.02.2018

HANDS-ON:  H. Moser & Cie. step outside their comfort zone with new Endeavour Flying Hours

When you think of H. Moser, a select handful of words come to mind: classic, traditional and, of course, fumé. There’s also the other side of the business that loves taking potshots at the industry with its polarising marketing tactics (as we all saw once again during SIHH), but in the halls of SIHH our focus was set on the brand’s latest creation: the new Endeavour Flying Hours. Looking solely at its sleek case and the blue hue of its dial, the piece still oozes H. Moser design DNA; however, its time indication is something entirely different. Using a unique…

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01.02.2018

LIST: From indies with love – 6 watches I fell for in the Carré des Horlogers

From the first days of my downward spiral into my geeky obsession with horology, the world of the independent watchmakers has always held a warm place in my heart. Even when the Swiss watch industry was filled with doom and gloom, these small passion-fuelled outfits forged ahead, creating new and innovative releases at a time when the big-box brands were doing their best to stay afloat by releasing an endless flood of dial variations and other minor updates. In recent years, this unique microcosm of watchmaking has continued to see growing interest from the collecting and enthusiast community at large,…

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30.01.2018

HANDS-ON: Zenith Takes patina to the skies with new CP-2 Bronze Flyback Chronograph

There’s no denying how many of us are often frustrated by the frequent “mild updates” launched by brands — new dial colours, new case and bezel materials, and the like; however, this year in Geneva, Zenith were one of the few to do so with such thoughtful execution that we couldn’t not make it a point of discussion. Yes, we’re talking about the beloved Cairelli chronograph reissue, the Pilot Cronometro Tipo CP-2 Flyback, unveiled in bronze (as well as aged steel) for 2018. Bronze continues to gain huge traction in the “accessible luxury” segment, and having first capitalised on the…

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25.01.2018

HANDS-ON: Feeling Blue With the Hublot Big Bang Meca-10 Blue Ceramic

Hublot is another one of those brands that polarises watch enthusiasts, and rightfully so. On one hand, the brand is constantly releasing new product with boundary-pushing design, and engaging in partnerships with every industry, charity, and destination one can imagine, eventually pushing us all to the point I lovingly refer to as THS — Total Hublot Saturation. If this was the only trick up their sleeve, this would be a different story, but there’s another side of Hublot that continues to keep them relevant and appreciated by even the most discerning of watch nerds. Year after year the brand unveils beautifully…

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18.01.2018

HANDS-ON: Ulysse Nardin get their Freak Vision on at SIHH 2018

After a warm reception to the forward-thinking Freak-based Ulysse Nardin Innovision 2 at SIHH in 2017, the highly anticipated production variant — dubbed the Freak Vision — took centre-stage at the brand’s ocean-themed booth at SIHH. Of the original 10 patents (four issued, six pending) that found their way into the concept watch, three have been integrated  into this new production piece, including the recently launched anchor escapement design, large-diameter silicium oscillator, and ultra-efficient “grinder” self-winding system. Cased in a brushed platinum with a blued bezel and case flanks (with a titanium bezel), the 45mm beast wears surprisingly comfortably given its…

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17.01.2018

HANDS-ON: Why the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “150 Years” is the underdog of their anniversary collection

By now you’ve likely been beaten over the head with the endless coverage of IWC’s cool Tribute to Pallweber, with its jumping hours and minutes, and  seen the additions to the growing Portofino collection. Hiding in the corner of IWC’s presentation, alongside a pair of Big Pilot models rested a lone chronograph – the IWC Pilot’s Chronograph Edition “150 Years”. Limited to only 1000 pieces worldwide, this new version of IWC’s classic 3777 isn’t particularly groundbreaking, though it is one of the cooler interpretations we’ve seen in a while. Though at first glance this may seem like a simple white dial,…

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09.01.2017

LIST: The 9 best watches of 2016 – $4000 to $5000 (and a bit more)

Time for the final leg of our tour of the best ‘affordable’ watches of 2016. We’re now at the upper end, at that fun little sweet spot where things start to get really interesting, with some serious in-house movements on offer, and amazing solid designs. It’s the upper limit for many people, so a lot of these options are less disposable and more ‘one good watch’. We’ve snuck a few pieces in that are priced just north of 5k, because we’re devious like that. And of course, if you wanted to spend a few (hundred/thousand) dollars more, the sky’s the limit,…

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08.01.2017

LIST: The 7 best watches of 2016 – $3000 to $4000

That’s right folks, we’re at it again, clawing our way through our top choices with an ever-ballooning budget, and believe it or not, this was our toughest category yet. The $3000 to $4000 category seems to have run a little thin for 2016, but we’ve still been able to round out a healthy assortment of picks that would make a nice (and in some cases quite peculiar) addition to your growing watch brigade. Again, we’ve  snuck in a couple of big guns just under the $4k cap including one of our favourite releases of the year from a brand our own Andy Green just…

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07.01.2017

LIST: The 11 best watches of 2016 – $2000 to $3000

For our third instalment we’re entering a slightly different echelon of watches. Some buyers will just dive right into their first watch at this price bracket, whereas others will have whetted their appetites on more entry-level pieces, and are now ready to step up their game. You’ll notice a lot more familiar names on this list, as well as a few surprises. Overall it’s a healthy pack of contenders with a nice mix of  divers and dress watches. Oak and Oscar Sandford On the heels of the much-loved Burnham three-hand model, the Oak and Oscar Sandford continued to impress fans by offering…

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06.01.2017

LIST: The 9 best watches of 2016 – $1000 to $2000

We’ve already got you covered in the zero to 1K category, but as you inch your way up the watch-buying food chain, the decisions don’t automatically get much easier, and the $1-2K range is just as tricky to navigate. While there’s still plenty to pick from, the quality can be all over the board in the same way it can in lower price brackets. After all, this is the spectrum where fashion houses like Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo try to sell you ETA quartz-powered timepieces for no other reason than the fact their logos adorn the dials and casebacks. Once again, we’ve…

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05.01.2017

LIST: The 8 best watches of 2016 – under $1000

“What watch should I buy for ___ dollars?” is the almighty question we hear day in and day out. And while there’s no simple answer, we thought we’d point you in the right direction with a ‘best of’ hit list in every thousand dollar interval from one to five over the next few days. We can’t possibly hit every single watch in each segment, but our goal is simple — to give our fellow enthusiasts a healthy set of options that fit a wide range of tastes and budgets. With that in mind, let’s kick things off with eight of the best…

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31.03.2016

HANDS-ON: The Omega Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon Meteorite, plan 9 from outer space

Omega is clearly focusing on the Planet Ocean and Speedmaster this year, with a solid cluster of variants in each model range being unveiled at Baselworld 2016. The attention-grabbing blue dialed Speedy Moonphase was instantly a fan favourite, while those of us who remember the jaw-dropping meteorite dial from Jaeger-LeCoultre last year took little time to begin fawning over Omega’s take on the sexy material from outer space. This is quickly turning into the year at Basel where models I’ve seen press shots of – and been none too impressed – have managed to win me over in real life. In…

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28.03.2016

HANDS-ON: The Bulgari Octo Solotempo Ultranero – 4 reasons this is the first Bulgari watch to win me over

I’ve never really gotten all that “into” Bulgari. Look,  I can appreciate the level of craftsmanship that the Italian haute joaillerie brand puts into their casework, (and more recently their movements), but I’ve never pictured myself wearing one. The Octo Solotempo Ultranero might just have changed all that. A case so sharp you could cut yourself What more can be said about Gerald Genta’s famous case design that hasn’t already been said? It’s a stunningly crafted piece of hardware that is even more impressive when finished in black DLC. Bulgari is proud to point out that there are 110 facets on…

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22.03.2016

HANDS-ON: The Hublot Big Bang MECA-10, for when one power reserve indicator isn’t enough

Hublot are one of the boldest (and most polarising) brands in the luxury watch industry – their designs inspire intense feelings, both negative and positive. Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, they’re constantly innovating and challenging their watchmakers and design teams with bold ideas that sometimes answer a why, and others simply a why not? More often than not, that answer comes from the helm – the powerful voice of Chairman of the Board Jean-Claude Biver stating with confidence that the answer is “Because we are Hublot, and that is what we do.” I’m the first…

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21.03.2016

HANDS-ON: The Seiko Presage Chronograph 60th Anniversary Limited Edition, where quality meets affordability

While much attention has been paid to the latest Grand Seiko offerings, as well as their ultra-cool Prospex Marinemaster GPS-Solar Dual Time, we can safely argue that the limited edition Presage chronographs are their finest under-the-radar offerings of 2016. Seiko is launching the Presage collection internationally this year, and these two watches celebrate the 60th anniversary of Seiko’s first automatic watch. The pair of sleek vintage-inspired chronographs come in at a comfortable 42mm, and offer two very attractive, and very traditional dial options ­- white enamel, and the gorgeous and incredibly labour-intensive deep black Urushi Lacquer. Both just about made…

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18.03.2016

HANDS-ON: The Longines Heritage 1918, old world charm done right

There’s no arguing that the vintage reissue trend is still going strong, though this latest offering from Longines digs further back into the archives than we were expecting. Their newly unveiled Heritage 1918 draws on the brand’s early history, having a very early pocketwatch-conversion vibe to it that, though a little unconventional at first, has grown on us quickly, and reminds us of the Longines Heritage Spirit. Its rich lacquered dial, contrasting honey-brown varnish painted numerals, and blued cathedral hands scream classic early 1900s watchmaking. Unlike the faux-tina lume we have seen from countless other brands in an attempt to…

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