#ARCTICWHITE Season Is Here — Top Picks from Omega, Grand Seiko, and Rolex
So, this should be easy as I’m on home turf (home snow?) so to speak, even if my bio reveals my embarrassing secret. Yes, I am the only Norwegian who doesn’t ski, neither cross country nor slalom. And no, I don’t even own a snowboard. The closest I get to winter sports is sledding with the kids, which is actually quite a dangerous pursuit.
So what better than some #ARCTICWHITE gear to camouflage me from the laughter of my mates as I sneak off to the city? While they’re drunk at the Après Ski, I’ve snuck off to a coffee shop. You’ll find me enjoying a strong macchiato with my writer’s laptop, so sue me. However, I do enjoy the crisp polar white of a sports watch dial. Maybe even matched with some cool, arctic-fresh Nikes. So here’s my street-cool selection with a surprise or two.
Omega Speedmaster Alaska Project 2008
Well, after my story yesterday, I tried on the new Speedmaster Professional today, and concluded my contemplation with a resounding YES: it is really that different, and the bracelet is sublime. I need one. This Speedmaster here, however, will only be found if you do some patient waiting and deep research on Chrono24 or an auction. The 2008 re-edition of the Alaska Project is one of the strangest Speedmasters around, and that white-out dial is hypnotizing. Read Robert-Jan’s fascinating story here, and I dare you to not want one of these, if only for its mythical tale.
I’ll leave that for RJ to tell you, and concentrate on the crispy-cool white of this baby. Deltawing fighter jets inhabit the registers, and a searingly bright red chronograph seconds hand makes for a wholly unusual visual dynamic. The recessed registers look like circular footprints (lunar lander feet?) in the snow. As if the Omega design team spent years researching the brightest white tone, the details seem to lift clean off the dial. Such is the clarity with which it imbues the classic Moonwatch. Omega only made 1970 examples, but be patient, and you’ll have one of the coolest #arcticwhite Speedmasters around. I can’t take my eyes off it and have started my search.
The North Face Aconcagua down jacket
Imagine wearing the Alaska Project Speedy and this warm yet urban jacket from The North Face. It might not be expedition-ready for €200, but it is blindingly polar white and looks terrific with the grey details. For that perfectionist look, find yourself a quality gray NATO for that crisp Alaska Speedy. And yes, you will find the watch as long as you persevere. Rock this look at a GTG, and your name will be written in RedBar lore for all time.
Grand Seiko Tough Quartz SBGX341
Lex had me hooked from the first shot in his story here. I might well have to get this for myself but stay away from Instagram as Lex will surely know I’m trying to steal his thunder. No, seriously, this is the epitome of why we love Grand Seiko, and why I personally have pivoted towards quartz as a great option. I’ve had the discontinued SBGV245 before, so I can attest to the superb nature of the 40mm case, which is markedly small for a Grand Seiko sports watch. It is simply devastatingly good, both in finish and comfort. The only thing I missed was a bracelet, and here we have a resolutely modern take on a steel Oyster-like design.
The medium-sized but muscular case design is instantly recognizable, with a razor-sharp bevel that meets a steep lug. The Zaratsu finish is impeccable, and the four o’clock crown is ergonomic perfection. Deliciously short at 44mm with an 11.65mm thickness, it’s as svelte as it is 200 meters of tough. Crisp as an arctic ice floe, the reddish-orange accents and seconds hand makes this JDM model sports perfection incarnate. This wintery cool is framed by one of my favorite Grand Seiko bezel designs. The contrast between the steep polished edge and the flat brushed top is just sublime. You’ll find it for about $3,700, and the search is worth it.
Nike Air Jordan 1 Acclimate — #ARCTICWHITE and urban
Oof! Stay away from puddles, or better yet, don’t walk very far. These Air Jordan 1 Acclimates are as crisp in their full-on soft whiteness as they are rather susceptible to the smallest fleck of dirt. So consider these cool kicks #ARCTICFRESH in name, but urban in nature — not for wading through the snow in the least. But, despite their street-cool aesthetics, toebox perforations are sealed in to prevent your socks from getting wet, while boot-like metal D-ring eyelets line up around the top of the tongue. There’s a textured panel wrapping your ankle in place of the “Wings” motif, and a tonal grey lateral Swoosh. Coming soon to Nike at $150.
Rolex Explorer II
Polar white says it all. Despite my story earlier this week on the Grand Seiko SBGJ255, I still fancy the 42mm Explorer II. Yes, for 42mm, the Rolex magic works. I’d love it to be 40 millimeters of sweetness, but never you mind because of that dial. The polar white Rolex dial is fresh no matter how you look at it, and the orange GMT hand pops like a mother… Yes, I am still frustrated that the incremental changes were so small that a loupe is needed along with a full spec sheet to spot them. But still, the evolutionary qualities are here for all to see. And they are annoyingly perfect. The all-brushed aesthetic is silky smooth, and merely underlines the fact that this isn’t a tool watch for anyone but the wealthiest.
But heck, it is a very, very good watch. Legibility is optimal, and Rolex’s modern tight tolerances are blisteringly apparent as soon as you touch it. It might not be a tool in this day and age, but it simply transmits a calm solidity like few others. And coupled with the caliber 3285 and eyecatching orange hand, it is a winner in many a collector’s eyes. The Oyster bracelet will drape around your wrist with its blend of soft finishing and weight, and despite the big size, it is rather comfortable. It’s comfortable enough for many small-diameter lovers to embrace the polar white flash of the Explorer II. It’s a decent value at retail, but we all know that is not real, so check these on Chrono24 readily available from under $13,000.
What do you think of these #ARCTICWHITE picks? And what would you pair with the Explorer II? Let me know down in the comments below!