2024-02-06

ZRC Grand Fonds MN64 PHÉNIX Limited EDITION [The Search for the PHOENIX]

ZRC is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year, 2024. And much like the mythical bird, the brand has risen majestically from the ashes of history now with one of its most beautiful aesthetics. 

The Phoenix Q157 Expedition “La voix du souvenir” looks to write one of the most intriguing chapters of the brand’s fascinating story.

  

As the main partner of the Expedition Phoenix Q157 «La Voix Du Souvenir» ZRC has sent a support team of experienced divers who hope to find the lost wreck of a French Navy submarine that went missing on June 15th 1939.

  

For this expedition, a Limited Edition (numbered 200 pieces) of the Grands Fonds 300 will be unveiled. 

This model has the technical characteristics inherent to the collection (patented ECS system and Crown Protection System). 

It is nevertheless distinguished by its machined 316L stainless steel case waterproof up to 300 meters depth.

  

A luminescent SLN Old radium X1 paint adorns the hour and minute hands as well as the hour markers on the unidirectional bezel with a bright blue insert coordinated with the dial. 

Its case-back is also decorated with a specific engraving representing a mythical phoenix. 

 

The GF42168PH diving watch is powered by the Swiss made Sellita SW-300 caliber. This self-winding movement delivers 56 hours of power reserve. 

Highly efficient, this mechanism is also very precise with a 5-position adjustment.

  

The watch will come with an exceptional enhancement in an alcantara packaging featuring these stunning accessories: 

a Phoenix submarine replica, a miniature Phoenix souvenir mat, a tool for changing wristbands and a watchmaker’s loupe plus an additional bracelet in organic leather.

  

From ZRC: The story of the lost submarine begins in 1939; the start of WWII and the world is already at boiling point. France is surrounded by conflicts. 

Tensions between nations are escalating. A year earlier, Austria was annexed by Germany. Japan attacked China. 

 

The Spanish war ended with a fatal epilogue with the beginning of the Franco dictatorship. Mussolini approached Hitler, who signed a pact with Stalin. 

And fascism unfolds its sinister shadow. The dark hours put the armies in motion for the belligerents, in a state of alert for the States at peace.

 

The French navy was then one of the most modern. It consisted of multiple buildings, including 78 submersibles. One of them, on June 15, crosses off the Indochinese peninsula. 

With its 93.2 m long, 8.2 m wide, two diesel engines with a total power of 6,000 horsepower usable on surface, its electric thrusters developing 2,000 hp when diving, the submarine Le Phénix Q157 is one of the flagships of the fleet.

  

On this spring day, the weather conditions are ideal... An immersion exercise in the bay of Cam-Ranh where the funds exceed 150 meters of depth is programmed. 

The ship is not going up. The alert is given quickly. With the exception of an oil stain on the surface of the China Sea, there is no indication of the causes of the ongoing incident. 

 

The following day, the submarine was located northeast of Hon Chut Island. Refloating operations began on 22nd of June. 

On several occasions, attempts were made to pass a chain around the vessel to tow it to a depth at which divers could act.

 

A rescue ship arrived on 28th of June, but the excessive depth of the wreck, still floating between two waters around 95 meters, prevented any intervention. 

The search was halted. 71 crewmen disappeared during the sinking. It now lies at a depth of 105 meters.

  

The investigations conducted at the time and reported by the press gave nothing. Impossible at the time to locate precisely the wreck of the Phoenix whose secret will remain hidden in the archives of the National Navy. 

Eighty-four years have passed…

  

The memory of the tragedy remains. Tributes are regularly paid to the disappeared, highlighting the risk of being a sailor. On this shipwreck, different theories exist, none are corroborated.

  

In 2020, the law on documents classified as “secret defense” allows their declassification beyond a period of 50 to 75 years. 

The idea of an expedition using modern tools is emerging. Better yet, it was created by history-loving divers and the association “La Voix du Souvenir” in order to find the submarine and provide clear answers to families.

  

Thus, during the first phases scheduled for 2023‑24, a survey will be conducted to limit the search area. 

If the wreck is located, from the following month, dives will be carried out with the logistical support of the Maritime Institute of this expedition is mainly supported by ZRC.

 

2024-02-05

OX OCEANIX FROG300 Pro Diver [Zombies can't swim]

** IMPORTANT UPDATE ** 

The FROG300 is now getting the Miyota 9075 GMT. Please scroll down for NEW details.

Frozen in a grotesque mimicry of their former selves, shuffling eerily, eyes devoid of life, face bereft of even the faintest flicker of humanity, these seemingly apathetic abominations can't do much of anything. 

But the second a horde of ravenous zombies senses your presence, they explode with a primal rage as they relentlessly chase and hunt you down until they eventually catch up with you and chew your frightened face off.

But … "zombies can't swim", so let them remain on dry land while we venture into the water for a deep dive with the forthcoming FROG300 pro diver collection from OX OCEANIX. Your life depends on it! 

I've introduced more new diver's watch projects over the past almost two decades than I can shake a large stick at but never have I come across such an intriguing, whimsical yet thought provoking slogan as "zombies can't swim."

It tells me several things; to expect the unexpected, to buckle up for a potentially wild ride. Such as jumping out of a rescue helicopter into the raging sea or launching into space with NASA's Artemis-II on a trip to the moon. And that life's too short to be taken so seriously. 

It also tells me that the maverick, the mastermind behind OX OCEANIX and the FROG300, Joseph Bolart might be a fan of the forthcoming comic of the same name from Kim Herbst. I don't know, but he has my attention.

When it comes to attention grabbing diver's watches, I'm not talking about those pretty faced vintage watches with one foot stuck in the past and another in a smart dress shoe that are undeniably, ubiquitously popular. 

And of which the dive watch collector's market is about as saturated with, as a small yellow sponge boy living in his pineapple under the sea is with seawater.

I'm talking about fully employed diving instruments, proper modern day tool-watches like those that are perhaps being produced by the true masters of durability, reliability and utility, the Japanese. 

Watches like G-SHOCK's colorful, indestructible Frogman or Seiko's prolific, iconic Marinemaster, or Citizen's dependable, durable Promaster.

Now here comes a brand-new watchmaker that imbues all those watchmaking values, those diver-centric design traits that divers have sought out in their diving companions, in their life preserving safety equipment for decades. 

Only with an outlook and an aesthetic as modern and as fresh as the latest iphone. This is OCEANIX and this is the inimitable, the inexorable FROG300 pro diver collection with its innovative, technical, lifesaving safety features and its seven striking contemporary looks.

And like a horde of zombies or a shower of frogs raining down from the sky it plans to take the dive watch world by storm. Introducing the OCEANIX FROG300, the next generation of pro diver's watches, a disruptive new watch featuring lifesaving technological innovations such as its ID+SYS™.

After more than two years of intense research and development the FROG300 diver's watch with its breathtaking blend of watchmaking tradition and technological innovation is here. 

Well almost. Pre-orders are open but you'll have to hang on just a while longer as manufacturing is still underway. But until then why not see what all the fuss is about.

OCEANIX, a new watch manufacturing company makes the bold claim that it is the first watch brand in the world to successfully merge traditional mechanical watchmaking with useful technology as illustrated by the FROG300, their debut diver's model. 

The watch doesn't adhere to the traditional tried and tested or perhaps that should be "tired" (as in yawn-yawn) and tested conventions of the 300m diver’s watch segment with its titanium case.

In fact the opposite is true as it sets out to break preconceived notions of what a diver should or shouldn't be with its refreshingly bold aesthetic. 

Furthermore the FROG300 has been designed to be a supremely durable wristwatch, with a highly robust case construction that makes use of high-tech materials such as titanium grade 4 as well as DLC surface treatment on some of its components. 

Making it the sort of tough timepiece that has been built to withstand whatever life might throw its way, and as such a worthy proposition not only for frogmen or those involved in maritime pursuits but any form of adventure and exploration. And one day it might actually save your life!

The FROG300 pro diver’s watch boasts 3 vital functions: Advanced Dive Time, GMT Time and ID+SYS™. ID+SYS™ EMERGENCY DATA SYSTEM OX® FROG300 introduces the patented (pat. pending 06/23) and internationally registered ID+SYS™ system, allowing owners to have vital data (The ones they have chosen to enter, such as personal, contact, medical information on allergies, incompatibilities, or medical conditions, and medical insurance details…) on the ID+SYS™ Disk inside watch for use in emergency situations, providing an unparalleled layer of security in watchmaking and instrument watches.

Furthermore, the NFC technology used does not require a battery, Wi-Fi connection, or any coverage, and it remains active at all times. The ID+SYS™ will deliver relevant data of the accident victim to the rescue team, maritime rescue, or paramedics, helping to save the life of the FROG300 owner, if necessary. 

ADVANCED 'DIVE TIME' CROWN Precision Underwater: Designed as an auxiliary tool, especially for demanding divers, the FROG300 features an advanced 'Dive Time' crown that allows precise unidirectional adjustment of 60 minutes even underwater (e.g., adjusting from dive time to decompression time), a distinctive and crucial feature for diving professionals. 

Additionally, the crown self-locks, preventing accidental changes to the adjusted time on the unidirectional inner bezel with high legibility in both day and night.

AUTOMATIC TRUE GMT. MIYOTA® RELIABILITY The automatic True GMT caliber, the 9075 manufactured by MIYOTA® (Citizen® Movement Division) in Japan, is the perfect companion for the FROG300, a traveler’s GMT that features the jumping hour hand functionality.


With 28,800 vibrations per hour, 24 jewels, and a power reserve of 42 hours, this mechanism ensures precision. This excellent mechanism is a guarantee of durability, thanks to its internal Parashock system and redesigned Cushion. The accuracy is adjusted (and tested) in-house to +15/-10 sec/day as an act of good faith to meet expectations.

DURABLE CONSTRUCTION Manufactured from marine-grade titanium - grade 4 Sandblasted finished, the FROG300 Diver's combines strength, hardness, and lightweight properties to withstand the most extreme diving environments. 

It features a double-curved sapphire crystal with blue anti-reflective AR coating on the inner surface. The standard straps are made of high-density FKM (fluoroelastomer).

ADVANCED CLASP The titanium clasp, also of a proprietary design, allows strap micro-adjustments for user customization as well as adjustment over wetsuits or technical gear. It includes a safety lock button. 

ACCESSORIES AND COMPLEMENTS The FROG300 can be customized with the use of a solid titanium bracelet with colored inner links or with textile and nylon straps with Velcro® Cosmoband© closures, available when delivering the initial FROG300 units. 

SUPERIOR COMFORT With its distinctive design and anthropometric focus, the watch features internal crowns that free the wrist, ensuring unrestricted movement and exceptional comfort throughout the day. 

Despite its 45mm case diameter, the lug-to-lug distance is very short, making it adaptable to medium and large wrists alike. Furthermore, due to its eccentric case design, the case's mass along with the center of gravity is shifted inward, achieving an additional level of comfort.

ISO-CERTIFIED DEPTH The FROG300 diver raises the bar for water-resistance with its usable dive bezel function and a rating to 300 meters (1000 feet). It complies with ISO 6425 standards, offering highly precise hourly and dive-time readings in both daytime and low visibility conditions, thanks to the use of Super-LumiNova, applied in strategic areas in two-tone colors to differentiate both readings. 

(C5 Light Green for Time and GMT hand, hours markers too, BG W9 A Grade Blue for Dive Time, markers or Dive Time zone from 0 to 15’. And the exception in the GMT zone of Depth Rainbow model, that is in C5 Dark Red on hand and 24H marks).

A 300M RESISTANT FROG In the case of water-resistance, the FROG300 has a depth rating to 30 ATM, 300 meters and as previously mentioned, is equipped with a Helium Expulsion Valve integrated within the crown area, a feature that whether or not we agree is essential offers a further stylistic touch of utility. 

In addition to these outstanding features, the FROG300 Diver's offers a unique ownership experience. Owners can reserve their watch during the pre-sale, which began in July 2023, and will be kept informed of the process continuously.

The watches will be manufactured in Hong Kong and will be delivered in April 2024 (or even earlier). Each watch comes with an international warranty of 2 years, extendable to 6 years with a simple online registration on the official website. 

The warranty system has been designed with Pick-up and Delivery (PaP) service, subject to acceptance and validation of the case registration in the Customer Service section of our website. Prices start from MSRP 1,430 USD up to 9,100 USD for the 18K Gold case alloyed with G2 Titanium version.

OX OCEANIX is an American company that challenges convention by merging automatic watches with useful technology. Founded in 2023, the company is committed to offering 'Next Gen' creations of exceptional quality and technological innovation, always in limited production and under the umbrella of instrument or Diver's watches. 

They are working to launch 2 more advanced models in the near future, demonstrating its ongoing commitment to innovation and excellence in the technical and Diver's watch segment. The launch of two new models is scheduled for the end of 2024 (Diver's GT) and in 2025 (EMERGENCY PRO).

The FROG300 Diver's is now available for pre-order at www.frog300.com, and in 2024/2025, showrooms will open in New York, Barcelona, Milan, and other strategically selected cities where you can see, touch, and try out OX®'s first creation. 

The FROG300 diver’s watches will be available for delivery to owners in April 2024 (or earlier).

Thoughts? No stone left unturned, no box left un-ticked, no man left behind, all zombies left on the shore. OCEANIX has left absolutely nothing to chance. Seldom have I encountered such an eye wateringly complete debut diver's collection. 

Seldom have I encountered such fastidious attention to detail. Such imagination. Such thought for the design and innovation of utilitarian diver's features. It's a truly staggering first foray and from a newcomer to boot. The obvious investment of time, and money. The passion, the obsession it all shines through.

The FROG300 professional diver's watch promises so much. Features such as its dual dive-time safety system, its lifesaving disk embedded into the case-back, its safety locking clasp. 

Then there's its attractive retro-futurist, asymmetrical case design, constructed from titanium grade 4 and offered in seven uniquely striking looks, the plethora of colorful accessories on offer, including a bespoke full titanium grade 4 bracelet. 

OX OCEANIX's FROG300 could be the refreshingly functional technical tour de force that modern day divers and survivors of the zombie apocalypse have been waiting for. To the diver, professional, recreational or otherwise, how will this fresh faced frog function in the pond? How will it perform beneath the lily pads, down there in the deep?

And to the collector; when and if you can ever decide which of these seven seductive looks to choose from; what will the FROG300 look and feel like on the wrist? And how will it perform on a day to day basis? Ultimately all these questions must be answered. 

When at last we can defy the zombies with OX OCEANIX. And explore the ocean's depths, the depths of our imagination with the FROG300 pro diver's watch, unmolested by the living dead as we drift beneath the waves while zombies sink. ;)

2024-01-26

HELICON Master 62 Collection [a brave new beginning]

Here’s a good old-fashioned mom and pop business from the UK, one that aims to offer vintage inspired diver’s watches that are based on lost and forgotten horological gems from the golden days of watchmaking. 

With the solemn promise of offering true exclusivity by producing small series that are limited to just 250 pieces per run and with only 50 of each dial color made, ever. But watches with real modern-day, diving chops such as ceramic bezel inlays and precision-made movements such as those from Seiko, Japan.

They don’t believe in crowd-funding or pre-orders. Instead they’ve put their money where the mouths are and have invested in the infrastructure for a bricks and mortar watch company that intends to be around for many years to come; all the while wanting to offer fair and realistic pricing aka true bang for your buck. Meet the HELICON Watch Co. hailing from London’s answer to Hollywood, Elstree where some of the most famous feature films were produced: the Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies, Superman, Moby Dick, The Dam Busters, The Shining, Ice Cold in Alex, and the Labyrinth.

Launched in 2023 by a pair of industry veterans with more than two decades of experience; a husband and wife team who were involved in conceptualizing and developing for the watch industry - 

and through their network of professionals from Germany, Japan and Switzerland; that include designers, historians and manufacturers were able to bring Helicon and their debut Master 62 collection to fruition.

The Helicon Master 62 is the quintessential vintage diver’s watch but don’t be fooled by its pretty face and diminutive form; it’s more than up to the job. Crafted from high-grade 316L Stainless steel and topped with a domed sapphire crystal and unidirectional diver’s bezel with a lumed ceramic inlay and boasting 200m or 656ft. of water-resistance, the Master 62’s dimensions are right on trend at just 38.5mm in diameter. But its diving and sporting credentials don’t end there, housed inside its case is a bespoke IP-plated Faraday cage (an inner brass case) there to ensure not only a high degree of magnetic-resistance as well as additional shock-resistance but further protection for the highly accurate, Seiko Japan manufactured automatic movement. Every watch features a charming, 3D image of a pearl diver on its case-back and is individually numbered out of 50. And to ensure that the Master 62 stays safely secured to your wrist is a 316L Stainless steel link bracelet with a diver’s extension, a fold-over safety clasp, micro-adjustments and a push-button release, signed with the Helicon logo. I love a good vintage case silhouette just as much as the next dive watch obsessive. They are by no means thin on the ground though; from the very smallest micro-brands to the most hallowed halls of Swiss haute horology, vintage design cues are king. The Master 62 takes its design cues from a 1960s prototype discovered in the dusty archives of a now forgotten Swiss watchmaker, combining many of its most appealing form-and-function features borrowed from that ‘golden era’ with the best materials, technology and manufacturing techniques available today.

But where the Master 62 and indeed Helicon truly excels is when it comes to their stunning dials. Of the five alluring dial colors currently offered for the Master 62 collection which include; 

The Blue Hour, Granite, Iridium, Lichen and Claret, there are two stand outs, The Blue Hour and Helicon’s newest color, Claret.

The blue hour or l'heure bleue as it is known on the continent. You know where people like to measure dive watch depth ratings in meters rather than feet or fathoms (I degrees), is that all too fleeting, ethereal moment of twilight that appears just as the dawn is breaking. 

Or when the dusk fades, and the Sun is sat just below the horizon. It was the muse for this particular dial color and I think it has been exquisitely captured creating a real sense of serenity and nostalgia for those halcyon days of summer.

Helicon’s latest colorway, Claret brings that all too rare color pallet to a dive watch. Red is seldom seen adorning a dive watch dial. And only the fabled few have managed to use it to such great effect. There was an Oris diver with a cherry red dial that caused a stir a few years back.

Here we have a combination of application techniques, including a soft brushed sunray finish, in addition to multi-layering of alternating colors, and finally a sumptuous lacquer coating. 

This meticulous process creates a dial that will truly captivate with its subtle interplay of light and reflections. Helicon guarantees that the colors will never be repeated once each batch is sold-out.

Meanwhile a roulette date window (one with alternating red and black numerals) can be found at 3 o’clock on the Master 62’s dial. It’s a feature that was found on early Rolex DJs dating back to 1945 and one that you’ll either love or hate. Most seasoned collectors would happily forgo the convenience of a date altogether. The dial colors are something to behold all of which are hand-finished with applied indices and Swiss C3 SuperLuminova markings and fitted with luminous, polished hands. I don’t think they’ve nailed the dial text though. Just with my own personal preferences in mind. The dial text could be rethought, perhaps less text itself and slightly different text size, placement etc. etc. But it’s a minor quibble and one that could be easily addressed in future color iterations, models or indeed a special edition. By the way, where does the name Helicon come from I hear you ask? And what is a helicon when it’s at home? Honestly, I couldn’t tell you. Is it the name of a river that ran through ancient Macedonia? Is it a large brass tuba-like musical instrument? It’s likely none of the above. Besides horological history has taught us, that when it comes to brand names, it is far more important to know where a name is heading, than from whence it came. And I envisage a bright future for this fledgling English name. I would however love to see the Helicon brand leaning into their Englishness, their Britishness a tad more, okay a lot more. It’s a small thing but even putting the depth-rating in feet instead of meters would lend even more charm. And perhaps some retro dial font, some vintage script wouldn’t go amiss. And why wouldn’t you put Elstree, London or England on the dial?

For more information on the Helicon Watch Co. and their debut Master 62 collection, please follow the LINK here or the one embedded in the HELICON logo, above. 

HELICON MASTER 62 SPEC. 

Case: 38.5mm 316L stainless steel. Engraved and individually numbered on back Bezel: 120 click, unidirectional and with ceramic insert and Swiss C3 SuperLuminova Crystal: Domed, scratch-resistant sapphire 

Dial: Hand finished in one of five unique colors and with applied indices, Swiss C3 SuperLuminova markings, bespoke 'roulette' date wheel and luminous, polished hands. 

Movement: Seiko mechanical automatic. 21 jewels, 41 hours power reserve housed in bespoke IP plated Faraday cage. 

Bracelet: Bespoke in 316L stainless steel with dive extension, folder over safety clasp, micro adjustment and push-button release 

WR: 200 meters 

Warranty: Two years. 

Price: £466.67 excluding of VAT

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