We recently sat down with our good friend Adam Craniotes—founder of the awesome RedBar, senior moderator at Timezone.com, contributing writer for publications like iW Magazine, Gear Patrol, and Supercompressor, and lifelong watch collector—to talk about a few watches we’re jazzed about. As ever, Craniotes had the awesome backstories and fascinating sidenotes on them in his back pocket. Learn a thing or two you may not have known about the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph, A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1, and OMEGA Speedmaster “Grey Side of the Moon” below…
AUDEMARS PIGUET Royal Oak Chronograph
“Audemars Piguet is one of the big three Swiss watch brands, along with Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin. They’ve got history, they’ve got pedigree, they’re all masters of complications.
“But as classic a brand as AP is, the watch that’s come to define them, with its very avant-garde design, is the Royal Oak. It’s bold, all sharp angles and bevels. The original version debuted in 1972, designed by Gérald Genta. While not initially a runaway success, it basically saved the company during the “quartz crisis,” when Japanese movements were flooding the market—cheaper, more robust, more accurate.
At a time when a Rolex Submariner cost about $300, Audemars Piguet essentially invented the luxury sport watch.
“So instead of trying to compete, or doubling down on precious metals and high complications, AP came out with a time-only, stainless steel sport watch that cost as much or more than most gold watches—over $3,000! So at a time when a Rolex Submariner would cost you about $300, Audemars Piguet essentially invented the luxury sport watch.
“This model is a variation on the original Royal Oak. It splits the difference between the original “jumbo” (so named because when it first came out at 39mm, that was considered large) and the supersized, muscle-bound Royal Oak Offshore, which came out in 1993.
“For some, the Royal Oak is a little too brutish compared to the more classical aesthetic of a brand like Lange or Patek Philippe. Though it’s interesting to note that Patek felt compelled to compete with the Royal Oak, which is how the Nautilus came to be. And you know who designed that? Gérald Genta.”
A. LANGE & SÖHNE Lange 1
“I touched earlier on the “holy trinity” of AP, Patek, and Vacheron, and yet you really have to make room for Lange in there. In some ways, I believe it exceeds those brands in terms of finishing. Flip this sucker over and look at the movement. Every little bit of painstaking detail, from the perfect polishing of the jewel sinks to the engraving on the balance cock, nothing has been overlooked. Even if you take off the mainplate and look at the finishing underneath—the stuff nobody’s going to see—that’s perfect, too. Any watch brand is proud to show off what’s under the hood, but with Lange you see a particular degree of pride in this.
“Lange is truly the standard-bearer when it comes to German watchmaking. The meticulous nature of the finishing, the spare designs and lack of unnecessary accoutrement—it all feels very German. The Lange should be on the bucket list of any real collector. Even if you don’t get the aesthetic, if it’s too simple for you…you still need to have one. When you see it, when feel it in your hands, it just makes perfect sense.
The Lange should be on the bucket list of any real collector.
“There’s just no bad Lange. Any model, whether entry-level or a $300,000 version, is going to have that same pride of manufacture in there. The person who recognizes this gorgeous thing on your wrist is the person you want to recognize it.”
OMEGA Speedmaster “Grey Side of the Moon”
“You know this is the Moonwatch, right? The OMEGA Speedmaster, in its original incarnation, was the first watch worn on the moon. It can operate in zero gravity in a vacuum and is still the only watch that’s flight-qualified for EVA.
Now, it wasn’t this model in particular, but rather its original incarnation—stainless steel, manual wind, plexiglass hesalite crystal, which is their fancy way of saying plastic.
With the original “Dark Side of the Moon,” the first major reinterpretation of the Speedmaster, the biggest change was the use of a movement. It’s automatic, part of the 9300 calibre series, so it’s co-axial, which was designed by George Daniels—a much more modern movement. And the case material is ceramic now, so even though this looks kind of like a gunmetal steel or titanium, only a diamond can truly scratch it.
And it is just beautiful. It’s definitely a versatile piece, style-wise. Nice enough to wear with a suit, and pretty safe for vacation, too.”
Adam is our ace on all things horological and can be yours, too. If you seek consult on a purchase, or just want to know more about a watch that’s struck your fancy, schedule some time with Adam and pick his marvelous brain.