In lieu of creating a gift guide article for the holidays (honestly, you’re too late anyhow and you might as well just wait for the after Christmas sales), the team at Fratello Watches thought we’d put together a few of our favorite things from this year. We have a fairly diverse team, so hopefully you’ll enjoy the wide range of responses. Let’s take a look!
The boss, the chief, el Presidente…or Mr. SpeedyTuesday. Let’s see what RJ says “dank je” for this year…
Speedmaster Event in Houston
In 2012 we came up with the Speedy Tuesday feature on Fratello Watches, but my personal interest for this watch goes back much longer. It was therefore an awesome experience to travel to Houston and witness the official introduction (post-BaselWorld) of the new line-up of Speedmaster watches. To be seated at the big gala diner next to astronaut Tom Stafford was mindblowing, perhaps even more so as he recognized me from an earlier encounter and commented on my gold Speedmaster (he has exactly the same) and asked me to see and hold it.
Trip to Seiko in Japan
I often had to hear about colleague journalists that went to Japan, to see Seiko or Casio. Or both. This year it was my turn and I had an amazing time to see the Seiko manufactures in several places. The pride of the Seiko people is unheard of and I was struck by the level of effort they put in the finish of that perfect watch. It really makes you want a Grand Seiko. Besides that, Japan was an amazing country to visit and it screams for a quick return.
Besides those two huge trips, I am thankful for the other travels I have made for Fratello Watches both on invitation and privately for watch events and manufacture visits. The annual pilgrimage to Basel, Geneva and London are – besides work – great trips that allows me to meet and see other professionals in the watch industry to have a chat and drink. Some of them have become great personal friends in the past +10 years. These are also moments, especially BaselWorld, that the entire Fratello Watches team is together for some days to hang out and have fun.
I only planned to buy one particular watch in 2015, which was the Speedmaster Professional Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award, but I ended up with several others as well.
At the beginning of 2015 I received the Marinemaster 300 SBDX001 from Seiko. An amazing divers watch and great value for money. The monobloc case and the 8L35 movement (Grand Seiko based) are the most important ingredients for me to be very fond of it.
At the end of the summer, I received an e-mail from someone who had a Speedmaster Professional 145.022-69 from 1971 and wanted to sell it. It appeared he lived nearby my office so I went down to his address and had a look at his watch. I made him an offer to which he agreed and that made me the proud owner of another Speedmaster in my collection. A wonderful and especially ‘honest’ watch that has its signs of wear, but is absolutely original and came with the original bracelet as well as a spare bracelet of a later type. A watch I find myself wearing very often.
Another watch I didn’t plan to buy was this Seiko “Grandfather Tuna” reference 6159-7010 that Michael described in a wonderful article comparing the original to the current Tuna model. During my visit to Japan, I met the engineer who’s responsible for developing this particular watch. During my last day there, I decided to go out and buy a Tuna can watch (SBDX011 or SBDX013) but found out that the price tags on these watches were quite substantial. As soon as I got home I regretted the fact that I didn’t spent a couple of hundred Euros more so I went on eBay to search for a nice Tuna watch. I found this original 1975 reference 6159-7010 Tuna with hi-beat movement. I made the seller an offer, which he accepted, and a few days later I was the proud owner of the original Seiko Tuna diver.
The watch that I ordered even the day before it was officially introduced, the Speedmaster Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award came in last month and I couldn’t be more happy with it. Although I did have my doubts about the dial at first, the watch in the flesh is stunning and the white dial is quite refreshing compared to all other (black) Speedmaster Pro dials that I have. I requested a special number, which I received and I am very happy with that. The case back with its silver Snoopy Award medallion and enamel blue background is just sensational. As a true Speedmaster fan and admirer, I am happy to have all three Apollo 13 commemorating Speedies in my possession.
Besides the aforementioned watches, there isn’t much that I spend money on this year except for a new camera. I normally use my Nikon D7100 with 60mm Nikkor macro (or as Nikon says ‘Micro’) lens and flash. However, for a lot of things a point-and-shoot camera would do. That made me look for some other cameras but Bert, Gerard and George advised me to have a look at the Sony A7 system camera with full frame capabilities. I did and decided to buy the A7. I am now pondering about the macro lens (30mm) for the Sony, which George used to do some nice photo shoots just recently for Fratello Watches. If that works nicely, I might be selling all of my Nikon equipment.
I also bought a leather & canvas watch roll from Bulang and Sons that I used very often when taking watches with me on a trip. It is a sturdy roll that can hold up to 6 watches. I prefer these watch rolls to the watch tubes (that often look better tbh) as they take less space.
This was a year without buying fountain pens (I have a collection of Montblancs, Pelikan, Stipula etc. vintage and new) or bags (I received a nice bag from Hautlence that I find myself using on a daily basis). I just did not feel the need of doing so. However, what I did buy is this Rimowa cabin trolley in aluminum that I wanted for a couple of years already. They don’t come cheap, but it might be my best non-watch purchase this year anyway. I take it with me on every trip and it can keep up to 3 days of clothes and a Macbook and camera for short trips. The good thing about it is that the luggage of other passengers won’t crush your bag or case with precious thing inside.
The man on the trigger, the shutterbug, and the natural born griller…Bert’s the one responsible for the vast majority of the stunning images on Fratello Watches. When he’s not firing shots, he’s probably manning one of his many BBQ grills making all of us jealous with his ridiculous displays of carnivorous plentitude. Is he thankful? Let’s see..
We travel quite a lot to bring you either news on watch novelties or reporting about press trips.
Getting back to Baselworld is a pleasure each year. Besides all the novelties we get to see in the flesh, it’s great to be together with our entire team and catching up with colleagues and friends in the watch industry.
It’s a privilege that we get to travel to see watch manufactories up close, join events by individual brands and meet friends and collectors during several meetings. Looking back at this year I’ve been in several countries and learned so much, besides about the obvious, watches. Having travelled to Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Sweden I cannot think of a favourite trip. All are equally impressive for their own uniqueness.
Not having any plans on acquiring watches this year did bring me a few and the most valuable one is, don’t get shocked now, a quartz one. At the beginning of this year my father passed away unexpectedly. Shortly after, I received his Tag Heuer which he bought in the late 80’s or early 90’s. This watch has been on his wrist most of the time and almost every pictures I have shows him wearing this watch. When was going for my Padi Open Water Diver in the early 90’s, I had his watch on my wrist for the first time. So as you can imagine this watch is one to cherish.
Later this year during a Seiko Event I fell in love with the Seiko Prospex ‘Baby Tuna’ Special Edition in blue. The price/quality on this SRP653K1-A is simply amazing. The watch is very well built and finished. Where I always say that 40mm is big enough and Speedmasters are the max, I still really like this watch which still wears comfortable, even with the 50mm case.
Currently I am looking back at a very busy year with several big ups and downs, some of which I mentioned. With all travelling I switched to mirrorless due to size and portability. Where I would normally drag along a big and heavy backpack filled with camera and lenses, the Sony A7 stepped in being light and ultra portable yet still high quality and full frame. Most of my travel reports have been created with the Sony. For my watch photography I still use my Nikon camera’s.
Geo joined us recently part-time and needless to say, while most of us are like school on Sunday – no class, Geo ups the luxury quotient by bringing in the heavy hitting pieces. Geo is a Cartier wizard and discusses a lot of other high end brands on Fratello Watches. We know he was thankful about one piece this year!
I only joined FratelloWatches since last Summer and just part time as a contributor, so I do not travel as often as the other guys do. For me the SIHH in Geneva is an important fair that I’ve visited for 10 years and mainly because of Cartier, a brand that I’ve followed closely for a very long time.
SIHH gives me the possibility to shoot the new models and to meet the staff from the head offices of the brands and chat with other journalists. Besides Cartier, I also write about some independents and next year for the first time, they will all be present at the SIHH.
Privately, I went 5 weeks to Asia to warm up and to visit friends in Singapore, KualaLumpur, Bangkok and Muscat. Asia for me is a very polite and relaxed part of the world. And I also made a 5 week trip by car through the Baltic States and that was a real eye opener. Such great scenery, nice people and few tourists, that it definitely is a reason to go back.
On the wish list remains Tokyo and Havanna.
When it comes to watches, I think I have said it all in my story at FratelloWatches, since after many years, I found my holy grail, the Cartier Tortue XL in platinum. Less than 150 pieces were produced of this watch, so it was really hard to find.
A highlight when we’re talking watches in general, was the release of the Apple watch. Whether it is a watch or not, Apple did its homework well with a good looking watch and a steel bracelet, where the industry should take notice. As soon as I tried the one Gerard had, I was sold. Amazing product, that I mainly wear at night, when I sleep, since it’s the only device that’s capable to wake me up. One of the best looking watches from BaselWorld this year was, at least for me; the DeGrisogono New Retro and the really cool Vortex Tourbillon by Hautlence.
On accessories I bought the Dunnhill watch roll and I find it one of the very few rolls that are easy to work with, since it has three short pillows, instead of one long one. Taking out the one in the middle was always a drag.
Two years ago I traded my full frame Canon 5DMKII and 100mm macro for the full frame Sony A7. It was a bit of an experiment since the camera was just released and there were hardly any test reports out yet. It turned out to be a success.
For me this camera is absolute great, not only because of its small size, but also because of the fold out screen, that I use actually all the time when shooting watches. The Canon 5DMKII gave me superb results, but it was too much pain, to wear that camera around my neck, all day. And I strongly believe that the quality of pictures comes from the eyes of the photographer and I doubt, that a better camera will give me a better result. Photography for me is a very important factor, to make my articles attractive to read and to create an atmosphere for the watch.
Blaise, the man who scours the globe for the best handmade straps and accessories, has an encyclopedic mind when it comes to certain Omega references and is also able to pull out all kinds of old-school hip hop references when he’s getting a bit saucy. Blaise goes “diggin’ in the crates” to talk about a few of his favorite things…
First and foremost I’m still thankful for being a member of this awesome group of individuals, though we might come from different, countries, backgrounds, profession, age groups (ahem) I think it’s safe to say we form a great group of likeminded individuals, who love watches, schnitzel and the occasional beer pints (not to mention Bert’s BBQs). So I’m thankful for being a Fratello and I hope it will stay like this for a long time to come. And remember: you always have to strive for greatness!
On the road
I’m thankful for the amazing experiences I’ve had this year. Starting with moving to Germany, working for the company I work for where I’m being surrounded by a great group of guys. I’m thankful that I did not have to go on this journey alone and I have that special person in my life.
For all the great places I’ve visited, the people I’ve met, the things I’ve done (planes I flew, cars I rode in) whether it was in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland or the UK. I’m looking forward to next year with many more interesting places to see and report on the pages of Fratello Watches.
I did not go crazy on watch purchases this year and to be fair I usually flip a lot but the one watch I am truly thankful is the one I featured a while ago on #TBT. That is the Angelus L.E. that I acquired through my friend Andras from 10ora10. That is a piece I was looking to get for a while and now that I have one I could not be happier. I’m also glad Mike drove my attention to the amazing Nivada Datomaster – another past #TBT topic. In general though all my watches I have or had in the past, just happy to have this hobby and experience all these wonderful time pieces.
As you might know Mike and I are not blessed with the talent (well, me anyways) or the presence of Bert when it comes to photography, meaning we have to shoot our own photos for our articles.
What I was missing badly was a decent macro lens for up-close shots. RJ came to the rescue and from Salon QP I came home with his 40mm macro (and a flash). What a difference it makes…
Gerard, or G2 as we call him, is the calmest member of the team. He’s a man of many interests, whether it’s a bottle of Rose, old Swedish vehicles or Italian crotch rockets, G2 is full of surprises. With so many interests, how does he find even more to be thankful about…?
This could have been a long list. Most of the ‘things’ in my life seem watch related. Or photography related, which is more or less watch related as well in my case, as watches and watch events are the majority of subjects I take pictures of.
However to keep it digestable I’ll keep it to the things which favored me the very most this year.
Not being very much an SIHH kind of guy, I normally awake from my yearly horological hybernation at Baselworld. This year not being different. I was happy to enjoy my 20th consecutive visit to the show, and at the same time my first for Fratello Watches. I enjoyed the show a lot as usual however I enjoyed ‘our’ team certainly no less.
The next event which I am happy to have joined was the EPHJ in Geneva. A fair worth visiting to anyone interested in the structure of the watch industry. Here it gets clear to you who the real manufacturers are – the majority you’ll never have heard of.
I’ll end my favorite watch related ‘things’ for 2015 with the visit to a huge event in Dresden. The celebration of F.A. Lange’s 200th birthday. which included the presentation of the A. Lange 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst. I guess this was one of the largest events I ever attended, and at the same time it was one of the most organised as well. Not specifically my preference, however extremely impressive nevertheless.
During Baselworld I aquired my first important watch of the year as well, the Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 45th Anniversary in Sedna Gold and Titanium – last year’s special edition. I missed out on buying it new, and found a like new in box one in Switzerland, not far from Basel, even at a good price.
Haters will be haters, but I just love my Apple Watch. As indicated in my article about it here on Fratello Watches not as a watch, however as a remote screen for my iPhone (wearing it on my right wrist) which now remains residing most of the time in my pocket or in my bag. It does the activity tracker function of my Nike+ Fuel Band as well, which now got banned back in its box.
A very strange bird in my watch aquisitions was the Mondaine Stop2Go rail road watch. A quartz watch, and I’m certainly a mechanical watch guy. So why? It’s such a special quartz watch that I couldn’t resist it. First the second hand doesn’t jump per second however runs almost like a mechanical (or electrical) watch. And then it stops every time it gets to the 12 and starts running again after 2 seconds. Really you have to see this to believe it. And to understand it my review is here.
Amongst the watches which didn’t make it to my above list list are a one owner (KLM airline pilot) Omega Speedmaster Professional with ‘straight inscription’. This watch has been flown all over and across the globe for almost 40 years. His first owner now retired, as did the Speedmaster. The latter in my collection.
Further an Omega Military Watch with caliber 30T2, supplied in 1945 to the Britisch Government, found its way to me. I was suprised to see that I’m actually wearing this watch quite often.
And of course another Casio found it’s way into my ever growing G-Shock collection, the GW-M5610-1jf (Japan only model). A technically modern, solar powered and radio controlled, interpretation of the original DW-5000 model. Special for this specific model are the carbon reinforced strap and slightly transparent black casing.
Not really watch related, however I can explain it slightly is. I bought a SMART Ebike. Yes indeed, an electrical bike even while I’m not retired yet. I never knew I liked cycling that much, and I find the design of the bike nothing short of stunningly beautifull. I love riding it from my house to the photo studio where I take pictures of watches.
As mentioned in the intro already photography is very much watch related to me. Like many many other photographers I switched to mirorless full-frame photography as well. Or at least I’m giving it a try, I’m still giving it a try. The Sony A7-II which I bought pointed out to be a very practical general purpose camera. What fun to work with it, take it in your hands and shoot! However for real sharp studio close-up pictures of watches I still use and prefer my trustworthy Nikon D300s with 40mm Micro Nikkor lens. And for serious events or fairs, I still rely on and prefer my trustworthy Canon 5DM2 with 28-105mm f/4 USM.
Photography again, however I can’t get this watch related in any way. At the end of this year I started film photography again. Using a 1966 Leica M2 for 35mm and a 1979 Mamiya C220 for 6×6 medium format, I experienced how different and beautifull photography is by using analog film and equipment. And how difficult.
The artist of the team, Teun is responsible for bringing a little “color” to Fratello Watches. He’s our newest member but has already gained quite a following with “Watches and Pencils”. Is he thankful for anything?
My favorite pick-up this year was definitely my own designed watch: P1lot One. The first few months I’ve experienced such a great time releasing this “Flieger” inspired project-watch. It was like a dream coming true to experience such a unique project from design until production. Together with four other forum-members we’ve released 52 watches and we’re still proud of the result.
More info can be found here.
After this period I’ve looked out for a new watch related challenge and came up with some ideas. A few meetings with Robert-Jan later I was approved to join the FW-team and launched the ‘Watches & Pencils’ feature. Although this is not a physical watch related object, for me it felt like a watch related present to join such a great blog.
To end up I would like to note a handy watch-tool which I’ve bought earlier this year. It’s a pen with a fiber glass point to ‘repair’ brushed metal surfaces on watches. It came in handy on my Tudor Pelagos when an accident caused a few nasty scratches on some brushed titanium surfaces. Almost everything ‘disappeared’ after I used this tool. The trick is to start with very light brushing and take note to the brush direction. The tool can be found here.
Wonderful holidays and a Happy New Year!
This article’s author and your vintage writer who has an uncontrollable appetite for all things vintage and chronograph. Am I thankful? Absolutely…
It’s difficult to pick just one watch from 2015 that I’m most thankful for, but if I have to do so, it must be the Breitling 765CP. There’s just something about this large, simply designed chronograph that strikes my fancy. Sure, it’s not a cheap watch, but the prices have been lower than other comparable pieces for so long that it’s still deal a relative deal. It’s the watch I most often find myself grabbing when I can’t decide what to wear!
I have to hand it to my partner in crime, Blaise. Before joining Fratello Watches, I liked straps, but his attention to the subject has taken my interest in them to a whole different level. I’ve been lucky enough to “meet” some fantastic strap and accessory makers this year such as (Decamp, BCatt, and that enigma Giuliano) and they’ve done a wonderful job of helping me outfit my precious vintage pieces with appropriate “shoes” and watch rolls.
Thanks to them not only for the generosity but for proving that working with one’s hands is not a dying art.
First off, I have to thank RJ for bringing me aboard, erm, well, keeping me on when I sort of landed as a stowaway. It’s been a wild year and I really look forward to more. I mean it when I say it, but we can pretty much write whatever we want on this site whenever we wish. That’s a fantastic freedom that allows us to be creative, candid and a bit controversial. So…a big thanks!
Then there’s that oft-used term, “the watchfam”. Well, I have one and I’m awfully thankful for them. I won’t name any names, but if they happen to be reading this, they’ll know it’s them. I have many of them to thank for some absolutely epic advice this year on pieces that I’ve added and some where I thankfully abstained!
As Blaise mentioned, none of us are close in skill with the camera to “Bertmember”, but that hasn’t stopped us from trying! For me, that meant picking up a new camera with a better sensor and more features. I “shoot” Olympus Micro 4/3 which makes me a bit of a contrarian, but I figure that if it’s light enough for me to carry, I’ll actually use the thing. This year, I bought Olympus’ OM-D EM-5 MkII to replace my PEN and I love it. So far, it’s a great camera with a great lens in the 12-40mm, but I’ve just barely tapped its capabilities. For this, I’ll head North to Bert’s lair of BBQ and imaging tech…I can’t wait!
Last but not least, we must say thank you to – well, you! – our readers for coming back to us each and every day. We enjoy the communication that we have with you and look forward to even more. If you feel like sharing a few of your favorite things, please feel free to do so below!! Happy Holidays!!!
Michael was born in South Florida in the USA. As a full-time role, he works in the Automotive Industry. He's lived and worked in many locations and when he's not cruising at 30,000 feet, he calls Germany home. Michael became... read more