SINGAPORE - This is a regular series featuring the latest news in watches and all things horological.
Zenith Defy Extreme E Island X Prix special edition
The Extreme E - which took place two weeks ago in Sardinia, Italy - is an off-road racing series in electric sport utility vehicles. It is held in remote and exotic locations, chosen to raise awareness about different aspects of climate change.
In the spirit of gender equality, each team comprises a male and a female driver who share equal driving duties.
Swiss watchmaker Zenith is the official timekeeper and founding partner of the race, the first of which - the Desert X Prix - took place last year in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia.
Like it did in that inaugural race, the brand has unveiled a new watch - the Zenith Defy Extreme E Island X Prix special edition - for this year's competition on the Italian island.
Based on the Defy Extreme Carbon, it has an angular 45mm case made from lightweight carbon fibre and microblasted titanium. The rugged chronograph has an open multi-layered dial, marked with orange accents to evoke the sizzling temperatures of Sardinia in summer.
The automatic El Primero 9004 Calibre is partially visible through the dial and caseback. It has two independent high frequency escapements beating at 5Hz (36'000 VpH) - one for timekeeping, and the other for the chronograph function - allowing events to be timed down to 1/100th of a second.
The watch comes with three straps: an orange velcro one made from parts of recycled Continental tyres, as well as a black velcro and black rubber strap. Switching them is a cinch, thanks to a quick-change mechanism.
In line with the theme of sustainability, the timepiece - limited to just 20 pieces - comes in a waterproof case fashioned from recycled and upcycled material.
Eight years ago, Tudor reintroduced a sturdy tool watch - the Ranger - from its archives. The timepiece is back again, with upgrades to make it even more appealing. But first, a brief history lesson.
In 1952, about 30 British scientists and sailors left London on a scientific mission to study Greenland's ice sheets. The members of the British North Greenland Expedition all wore Tudor's first automatic and waterproof watch - the Oyster Prince model. Besides glaciological and seismic surveys, the team also collected data on the performance of the Oyster in the harsh conditions they were in.
The Ranger was born when Tudor later decided to launch an exploration watch just like the Oyster Prince for a wider audience in the 1960s. Its resurrection in 2014 did not gain much traction, but the new Ranger may just change that.
Firstly, it is good value for money. Priced at about $4,000, it not only boasts a proprietary movement - the MT5402 - which offers an impressive 70-hour power reserve, but is also chronometer-certified by the COSC, the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute. The balance wheel - beating at 28,800 vibrations per hour (4Hz) - comes with a non-magnetic silicon spring.
Secondly, it sits better on the wrist than its 2014 predecessor, thanks to a more streamlined case which is 39mm wide (instead of 41mm) and 12mm thick.
There are no bells and whistles but its clean appearance - including a matte black and finely textured dial, and Roman numerals at three, six and nine o'clock - makes the new Ranger even more attractive.
It also exudes a classic retro vibe, thanks to the hands and hour markers, which are coated in a beige luminescent material.
There are three strap options: steel bracelet with a micro adjustment clasp ($4,210), a green Nato strap with two red stripes and a rubber one covered in fabric (both $3,780).
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Music Edition
Audemars Piguet is saying - as the Abba song goes, "thank you for the music" - with five new Royal Oak Offshore references.
They are available in two sizes - 37mm and 43mm - and crafted in different materials: two models in titanium, two in gemset 18-karat white gold and one in black ceramic.
The one common feature? A colourful Tapisserie dial which bears the pattern of an equaliser (or VU meter) found in recording studios.
The Swiss luxury watchmaker has enjoyed a close relationship with the music world.
In 2005, it unveiled its first collaboration with a music artiste. To celebrate rapper Jay-Z's 10th anniversary in the industry, the watchmaker launched a Royal Oak Offshore limited edition with an iPod containing his discography.
Other limited-edition collaborations followed, including one with producer Quincy Jones in 2009.
The brand also became an official partner of the famous Montreux Jazz Festival in 2009.
Besides the unique Tapisserie dial, the five new Offshore models feature other music-inspired motifs, including the knurled-textured studs reminiscent of jack plugs as well as crown guards inspired by the fader on mixing consoles.
All boast self-winding movements driving hours, minutes and seconds hands - the new Calibre 5909 for the 37mm models and Calibre 4309 for the 43mm variants.
The watches also have casebacks featuring emblematic haute horlogerie decorations such as Cotes de Geneve (a stripe-like pattern etched on the smooth surfaces of the watch baseplate or other parts), circular graining and polished chamfers.
Each comes with four rubber straps - one in black or blue, and three others in turquoise, yellow and green.
The two white gold models (price upon request) - which have dials set with coloured "Harmony"-cut stones - are not limited edition, but the other three are limited to either 250 or 500 pieces and priced between $42,000 and $58,500.
Girard-Perregaux Laureato 42mm Pink Gold & Onyx
This is the latest iteration of Girard-Perregaux's famous Laureato model, first launched in 1975. And, boy, is it classy.
The use of pink gold accentuates the watch's striking features including its octagonal bezel, tonneau-shaped case and integrated bracelet, highlighting the beguiling juxtaposition of different shapes.
The use of black onyx for the dial is another master stroke in contrast since pink gold and black make a handsome combination.
Crafting the thin dial from onyx and polishing it until it shines like a mirror requires skilled artisans and no fewer than 15 different operations. The applied indices and GP logo are fashioned from 18-karat pink gold while the baton-style hands are gold-plated to match the 42mm case.
The heart of this watch is the Calibre GP01800, an in-house self-winding movement.
The intricacy of the movement, including the Cotes de Geneve on the oscillating weight, can be admired through the sapphire crystal caseback. The power reserve is a respectable 54 hours.
Price: $74,800, available from exclusive Girard-Perregaux retailer The Hour Glass