I love autumn in Washington, DC. As we reach the latter half of September, the oppressive summer humidity finally abates, there is a new crispness to the morning air, and the WatchBuys Road Show comes to town. That last one has become one of my favorite traditions, and if you love watches, it should be yours too.
WatchBuys is an authorized U.S. dealer for several German bands including Sinn, Nomos Glashutte, Hanhart, Junghans, Dornbluth & Son, Jochen Benzinger, Thomas Ninchritz, Stephan Kudoke, and now, their first Swiss brand, Fortis. Owners Tim and Rob hail from North Carolina, but they have no brick and mortar store. All sales are online, so they bring their inventory around the country one a year for a little show and tell, allowing prospective buyers to really get a feel for the products.
The event is free but tightly controlled. Several sessions are scheduled over a period of two to three days at a private venue, the location of which is only released to registered attendees. Once inside, you will find tables full of fabulous watches. You can't buy a watch at these shows, but in a way, that is even better as there no pressure to buy. You can just relax, browse, and take advantage of WatchBuys encyclopedic knowledge.
If you would like to attend a Road Show near you, or to suggest a city for them to visit, head to their page and sign up. While you are waiting for them to come to your town, enjoy this selection of my personal favorites.
WatchBuys is the official North American Sinn dealer, so the famed German brand was more than adequately represented, like this 103 St Matte, which marries the iconic 41mm automatic mechanical chronograph with a no-nonsense, bead blasted case and bracelet. It features a domed acrylic crystal and 200m water resistance. It sells for $2190.
The special editions also included this pair of 38.5mm models 556 Red. Both are distinguished from the standard 556 by their display case backs and red second hands. The 556 A Red in the background has a matte dial, and the 556 I Red in the foreground has a glossy lacquer dial. Your choice for $1180.
Those looking for something larger might like the 43mm 757 Black. For $3340, you get true pilot's tool watch with a Tegimented PVD case and bracelet for extra hardness and scratch resistance, antimagnetic iron core, copper sulfate humidity control, sapphire crystal, and 200m water resistance.
Dive watch fans were not left out. The outstanding $2270 UX EZM 2 B HYDRO was back. This 44mm, 5000m (yes, 5k!) diver has a 44mm antimagnetic case of submarine steel, a Tegimented bezel, and a quartz movement, but the best part is that the watch is flooded with oil for a completely glare-free view. The hands and markers almost seem as if they are painted on the crystal. Very cool.
For something truly unique, try the 1800 S LE Damaszener. It is constructed of Tegimented Damasus steel for magnificent grained appearence. It costs $7360 and only 100 were made.
Just in case you thought Sinn didn't have a wild side, check out this U1 Camouflage limited edition that debuted at BaselWorld this year. Is a 44mm brute in submarine steel with a Tegimented bezel. Water resistance is 1000m and the black markers and hands are SuperLuminova. Only 500 are available worldwide. For $2230 you can have one for your next commando mission.
It is also available in blue with large knurled lunettes.
Released at BaselWold earlier this year, the Fortis Aviatis Stealth Chronograph sports a 42mm PVD black case, vintage lume, and an automatic movement for $2570.
The Junghans selection included their iconic Max Bill line of Bauhaus timepieces, but also some sportier numbers like this Meister Pilot Chronograph Classic. A new release from BaselWorld, it is 43.3mm wide with an automatic movement, domed sapphire crystal, and a design derived from the 1955 J88 Bundeswehrchronograph. I particularly liked the scalloped bezel. The watch is $2465.
The Junghans Meister Telemeter Chronoscope is another vintage inspired piece. This automatic mechanical chronograph harkens back to the 1950's with its domed Plexiglass crystal and detailed, silver-white dial that uses both Telemeter and tachymetre displays. It measures 40.8mm wide and 12.6mm thick. WatchBuys lists it for $2190.
WatchBuys carries a number of true, handcrafted watches. These highly decorated pieces are always a treat, like this $5380 Thomas Ninchritz Vice Versa II in rose gold. The movement is completely inverted, placing the movement functions and the dial on the same side. It is decorated with Côtes de Genève and perlage patterns, blued screws, screwed gold chatons, and a hand-engraved balance cock.
Stephan Kudoke electroplated his the bridges on this movement to achieve the dark colors in the aptly named Black Beauty ($5970). A sharp eye will notice the letter K cut away in the upper right, and the rich detailing of the hand engraved patterns.
Hanhart's signature red button is in full effect on this blue Racetimer GTM single-button chronograph. The automatic chronograph movement has been modified to use a single button and to push the registers to the outer edge of this 45mm instrument. It is water resistant to 100m and sells for $3260.
At $1140, the Hanhart Pioneer Preventor 9 was one of the most affordable watches at the show. The watch is 40mm wide with a matte black dial, satin finish case, and sapphire crystal. It is the only watch in the lineup that is not a chronograph. Its mechanical automatic movement has been modified by Dubois Dépraz to reconstruct the small seconds to 9 o'clock – just like the original Hanhart Calibre 41 it honors.