The rose-gold pieces are $15,500 (38 mm), $18,200 (42 mm), $33,500 (38 mm, with diamonds), and $40,700 (42 mm, with diamonds). The white-gold models are $16,300 (38 mm) $19,000 (42 mm), $34,300 (38 mm( with diamonds) and $41,500 (42 mm, with diamonds).In this deep world of horology, it’s easy to eliminate sight of just how fascinating the cautious range of gears, jewels, levers, and screws that make up a wristwatch movement are. But when you encounter a watch like the Midnight Planétarium from Van Cleef & Arpels, you’re forced to pause. You’re forced to pause and think about the tasteful interplay of mechanics and artistry illustrated by means of a timepiece like this, in which an impossibly tiny solar system revolves around a dial in accurate stability. If you stared in this watch for 29 decades, you’d see Saturn create a complete revolution around the dial up. If you’ve got a couple minutes, then you’ll join us on a short journey exploring how the Midnight Planétarium came into be.In expectation of SIHH 2018, Van Cleef & Arpels dropped the Lady Arpels Planétarium, a more compact version of the Planétarium for men that the maison introduced and developed in 2014. When I first heard about this particular piece, I was very excited to see a highly-complicated watch that looked like something that I could really wear (if money were no object and/or I won the lottery). I was able to see that the bit in person yesterday and boy was it amazing. Not only is that a more compact version of the men’s Planétarium, it was also reworked particularly for female buyers. Let us see what this gem is about.
As its name implies, the Timex Archive collection is a series of watches influenced by the storied history of the American watch company, Timex. For watch enthusiasts there are some real bargains in here, and for those just getting into timepieces – there are some excellent ways to enjoy a classic look with a modern edge. Right now I’m looking at two interesting Archive Collection watches in the Metropolis sub-family of timepieces. What these two watches have in common are some design/material treatments as well as a neat new reversible strap that features a stripe of reflective material on one side. This reflective material is actually pretty cool – even if you aren’t going for that night runner look. One Metropolis watch is the three-hand Allied, while the chronograph model is the Allied Chrono. Each are well under $200 in price.
All images by Ariel Adams
The most refreshing part of the Timex Archive collection is that the watches are inspired by the past, but clearly not stuck in it. The unspoken design ethos here is to take popular vintage-style designs, and freshen them up a bit for modern consumption. Timex seems to implicitly understand that the look of function-focused watch designs from the past (when people still mostly relied on their wristwatch to tell the time) mixed with modern material treatments, colors, and design sensibilities is a wise strategy for appealing to today’s consumers. Unlike most fashion watches at these price levels, Timex doesn’t seem to forget that its products should first and foremost actually be good watches. This means that on top of spirited looks, these watches are comfortable, legible, and built for dependability. Such a claim cannot be made for many of the other approximately $150–$200 priced watches out there.
Clearly without wanting to confuse you, Timex produces both a watch called the Allied Chronograph and the Allied Chrono. Yes these watches are similar – but actually different watches, with different cases, and different straps (though they share the same movement). This particular Timex Allied Chrono is the reference TW2R76800LG, which means it has an off-white dial and a steel case with a sandblasted finish. The first interesting detail is the color of the dial, which is actually modified by the crystal. Timex gives this crystal a light “smoked finishing,” which means it is just a hair bit darker than a standard clear crystal. The effect doesn’t really reduce legibility, and adds an interesting sense of personality and character to the design.
The Allied Chrono case is water-resistant to 100m and is a decent 43mm wide on the wrist. Timex points out that the case material is brass (like many mechanical watch movement parts) while the exterior is steel. They aren’t entirely clear on how that is achieved, though I am guessing the steel outside is plated and then given the sandblasted finishing. The Allied Chrono dial is simple (in a vintage-style manner) but legible and attractive. The “light cement” color of the dial is matched with slightly glossy hour markers and orange color accents. The hands are properly sized and easy to read while also being painted with luminant. I want to forward a suggestion to Timex here that the hands be colored the same color as the hour markers in order to further aesthetic harmony. Lose out on darkness viewing you say? Not here. Most of us watch collectors have long forgotten Timex’s signature feature, which is a backlight they call INDIGLO. The feature is still as neat as it was when I first played with it as a child – being activated by pressing in the crown. When the crown is pressed, the entire dial glows an “ectoplasmic” green offering easy readability in even total darkness. So maybe it isn’t a terrible idea to make the hands black… or at least the outlines in black.
Inside the Timex Allied Chrono is a caliber M921 quartz chronograph movement produced by them. The movement has the time, date, and a 1/20th of a second chronograph complication. I should also point out that you can independently set the hour hand, which is good for traveling. This is also how you set the date. For a sub-$200 watch the detailing is really nice, including features such as a flange ring around the dial and well-detailed, crisp case construction. Attached to the 43mm wide case is a 20mm wide gray-color semi-NATO-style strap (given that it slips through the lug spring bars as opposed to being connected to them). The strap is produced and designed by Timex. It also happens to be rather comfortable.
I recall Timex showing me these straps last year and being excited about them. One side of this gray-colored strap is woven polyester with an attractive pattern. The other side – which is how I am wearing it in the images – is nylon, with a reflective “racing stripe” down the middle. That the strap is produced from two different layers is interesting in and of itself. Reversing the strap is actually really simple and just involves pulling out the strap, flipping it around, and then weaving the other side into spring bars. One of the most clever design features of the strap is how it is meant to have the buckle tongue move to either side depending what side of the strap you are using. I also like that its reversibility is very discreet – meaning if no one ever told you that the strap was designed to be reversible, you might easily miss that detail. Some might take issue with this discreet design choice, but I happen to like little “secrets” such as this.
The other Timex Archive Collection Metropolis watch on my wrist here is the reference TW2R75100LG Allied quartz movement-powered three-hand model with a smokey orange-tinted crystal and of course, the utility of the INDIGLO backlight system. This is a great looking timepiece with a fun personality thanks to the modern-themed reflective dual-side strap (this time in navy blue color) and the colorful take on the classic field watch dial. Military watch lovers will instantly find appeal in this dial style, while fashionistas will like the play on colors and materials. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, to make old watches look fresh… simply apply a new coat of paint.
The Metropolis Allied comes in the same style case but with a 40mm wide size and oddly only 50m of water resistance. One might think that with its extra pushers the Allied Chrono would have less water resistance, but the reserve is true in this instance. If water resistance is more important to you in a three-hand vintage-military look, then Timex also offers the Archive Collection Metropolis Navi Ocean models that have 100m of water resistance (albeit in a 38mm wide case with a rotating diver’s-style bezel). Unlike the chronograph movement, this three-hand movement is a bit on the louder side (although not as loud as a standard Swatch), which is important to note for those who want a silent timepiece.
If you don’t fancy the reflective strap with the orange Allied watch, then Timex also offers an almost identical watch in the reference TW2R31000LG Timex Scout. All that appears to be different about the Scout compared to the Allied is the strap, which is also reversible but with orange and gray stripes on one side, and all gray on the other side. More so, if smoked orange isn’t your thing, then the Timex Allied is also available as the reference TW2R75200LG with a black and yellow dial, slightly different reversible strap, and an “aged steel” case aesthetic for the same price.
Putting myself in the mindset of someone in the market for a conservative but spirited sub-$200 sport watch and something from Timex would certainly be on my short list. The vintage-style aesthetics with modern design sensibilities make for an easy draw, but so does Timex’s dedication to making the best possible product at these affordable price points. Nothing flashy, just a durable, decent tool watch that isn’t objectionable to look at. Your new beater watch could very well be one of these. The Timex Archive Collection Metropolis Allied Chrono reference TW2R76800LG has a retail price of $170 USD and the Allied reference TW2R75100LG has a retail price of $140 USD. timex.com