Serious tech and heritage are not the only game in town as Breitling, Bell & Ross and TAG Heuer show
By James Gurney
I came across this Breitling Colt (above) at the brand’s Bond Street boutique and was struck by the combination of price and fun. As I wrote in the introduction to Ophion’s 786, the affordable end of the market is where the creativity is to be found at the moment, but just as I’d defined everything in the sub £2,500 range as either heavily tech-focussed with a bit of heritage thrown in, it seems that there’s a new category opening up that’s more pop than anything else. Colours that were once found on fashion watches or with haute horlogerie brands that don’t need sober designs to prove a point are taking over:
The basics are all present and correct, it’s just that there’s a bit more levity to proceedings. The Colt Skyracer has a 45mm ”Breitlight” polymer case, that’s quite as bomb-proof as much more expensive equivalents matched to a SuperQuartz chronometer movement, but fitted with a moulded rubber strap that’s pure Action Man with its macho instrument markings. The Colt Skyracer is peas in a pod with TAG Heuer’s Aquaracer Camouflage with its urban DPM dial. Another watch that’s definitively not serious, but nevertheless fitted with an undeniably proper combination of Calibre 5 automatic and PVD-treated titanium case.
Less macho, but equally pop is Bell & Ross’ BR-03-92 Carbon Orange. No different in substance from any number of variations on the cockpit instrument theme that Bell & Ross have produced since the original appeared a dozen years ago – it’s a 42mm automatic of surpassing simplicity that’s proved extremely difficult for others to copy successfully – it, nevertheless takes on a completely different character with a few bright orange accents on the dial and a blindingly bright orange strap.
Even the perennially tasteful and restrained Nomos Glashütte seem to have caught the bug – hence the vivid blue and red Ahoi Neomatik’s just hitting the market. And again, nothing is lost in terms of quality just because the designers have been at the poster paints, the £2,980 still gets you just about the best value in-house movement around.