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The Sporting Time

Swiss sports watches are high-performance timepieces
Edward Kiersh
From the Print Edition:
Kevin Bacon, May/Jun 00

(continued from page 3)

"The X-33 is our next step in the race against time," says Alain Bezos, Omega's U.S. marketing and sales operations manager. "[It's] more than just a link to space--it's the future, a very lightweight titanium treasure perfectly suited for adventures and thrilling escapades."  

Equally equipped for fast-lane excitement, the new Speedmaster Split-Seconds Chronograph ($3,895) has a rattrapante function, meaning it can measure two or more split times: simultaneous events (such as Formula 1 or CART races) that start together but last unequal periods. Along with this function, the planned intricate caliber 3600 movement (exclusive to Omega) is so precise, the company says, that it's certified for accuracy by a Swiss testing institute. The self-winding Speedmaster, slated for release this fall, is water-resistant to 330 feet and boasts a stainless steel case with a tachometric scale, and the circular-grained, black carbon-fiber dial complements a black, rubberized leather strap with a foldover clasp. A version with a steel bracelet will be offered for $3,995.  

The Speedmaster Automatic Day/Date chronograph in 18-carat gold with a self-winding movement (caliber 1152), date indicator, silver dial and alligator strap is another piece that evokes images of life on the wild side. For thrills in the deep, the self-winding Seamaster 300m GMT Chronometer ($1,995 on a steel bracelet, $1,895 on a rubber strap) is certified for accuracy and water-resistant to 1,000 feet. It also features a red arrow­tipped 24-hour hand that indicates the hour in two additional time zones.  

If "From Switzerland With Love" trappings are a must, make like Pierce "James Bond" Brosnan and wear the Seamaster Professional Diver chronometer. Omegas aren't geared with high-powered magnets, laser guns, computerized message systems or retracting grappling hooks. But 007's official watch is equipped with a helium gas escape valve to allow pressure inside the watch to equalize the ambient air pressure deep underwater. Without this feature, the crystal would shatter. Also water-resistant to 1,000 feet, the blue-dialed timepiece has appeared in the past three 007 films (it's standard M16 issue, selected by Q himself, according to Alain Bezos) and is armed with an anti-reflex sapphire crystal to withstand the most jarring blows.  

As Bezos says, chuckling, "Along with loving cigars, Brosnan especially likes this elegant Seamaster, a watch that always allows him to dive into joie de vivre adventures."  

Offering its own tribute to the active life, the 170-year-old Geneva-based Baume & Mercier is celebrating the turning of the century with the CapeLand line. This recently introduced collection is billed as "an invitation to roam the world with resolute and relaxed" timepieces, and in pursuit of that rugged yet refined lifestyle, the company is showcasing several models, including a quartz version.  

Appropriate for casual or business situations, each $2,350 CapeLand in the line has a large round case, a curved, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and a screw-down fluted crown that makes the watch water-resistant to 100 meters. The Arabic-numeraled dials are either a finely circular-engraved silver or jet black. The automatic chronograph has a 7750 Valjoux movement that offers a 40-hour power reserve and a distinctively detailed egg-shaped small-seconds counter. The watch features a chic 39-millimeter black dial on a honey-brown strap.  

"CapeLand is the high-performance watch for anyone who's seeking new experiences," says Thomas Van der Kallen, the president of Baume & Mercier North America. "Its strong personality stands out."  

The sumptuousness of these chronographs is further accented in two new limited-edition versions, both of which are made with a 25-ruby, BM 13750 movement. One 99-piece series is in white gold, the other in pink gold, while both versions are "harmonized" with a black, saddle-stitched alligator strap and are numbered with a year of the twentieth century. Numerical markings, however, aren't the only distinguishing characteristics. Attesting to this legendary firm's love of detail (each limited-edition piece, which retails for $11,500, takes about a year to produce), the finishing is particularly fine, with the white-gold rotor and all the movement's visible surfaces embellished with a Côtes de Genevé pattern. Wearers of this automatic winding mechanical can view these refinements through a sapphire crystal back. Stressing CapeLand's unique appeal, the dial flaunts gold hour and minute hands, broad two-sided hour markers, and an engraved guilloche tapestry pattern.  

If limited-edition chronographs are the perfect accessories for the new millennium, retro-inspired quartz Hamptons, Classima chronos and other Baume & Mercier creations offer fashionable alternatives.  

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