Tonight: Richard ‘Hamster’ Hammond wears an Omega! ‘Captain Slow’ James May wears an Omega! And, Jeremy Clarkson wears an Omega! We’re going to have a look at the wrist-gear of the TOP GEAR presenters, and wonder, do they only drive in TOP GEAR or also wear TOP GEAR on the wrist? Do their watches make it to our cool wall?
First of all, I have to admit to being an absolute fan of Top Gear, when I first spotted an Omega Seamaster Professional on Jeremy Clarkson’s wrist, years ago, I was delighted. This year they are airing their 21st series and by now all three gents wear proper (read: mechanical, high-end) watches. However we have to be strict and an Omega Seamaster Professional is for sure a great watch, it does not really qualify as the Lamborghini Aventador of wristwatches. They might know their way around a test track but how do their watches fair in our world? We go from small to big, first up the Hamster Richard Hammond.
Richard Hammond, who when not having his teeth whitened, wears an true classic among wristwatches, the Omega Speedmaster. The Speedmaster aka ‘Moon Watch’ was the watch worn on the moon. In our three-part story about the history of the Omega Speedmaster (click here for part 1 the pre-moon editions, part 2 with the 1970’s models and part 3 about the rare and limited editions) we described everything you need to know about this legend among wrist watches.
Comparing this classic wristwatch to the car industry, the only real comparison can be the Volkswagen Golf. It ‘s been around since… ever, and there are a gazillion versions, yet it is still totally recognizable as a Volkswagen Golf… err, I mean an Omega Speedmaster. Great choice, Mr. Hammond, however we have no clue why you’re making that ‘dirty face’ in the picture? Can’t be the watch.
Round Two: Another classic on Richard Hammond’s wrist. The Breitling Navitimer has also been around for decades, in a more or less unchanged design. When thinking of a car that fits this watch it would have to be the BMW 3-series. The 3-series is a classic among cars, again, like the VW Golf, available in many variations and it has remained a proper 3-Series throughout the decades it has been around. Also like the Golf it has grown over the years (which is more than we can say for Richard Hammond!) The Navitimer has always been one of the larger watches on the market, which was a result of the dial with surrounding slide-rule that allowed pilots to make fuel consumption and speed calculations before the age of the computer. Because the 43mm diameter is now an average size, Breitling introduced two larger versions of the Navitimer (measuring 46mm and even 48mm) Maybe Mr. Hammond should stick to his own 43mm Navitimer, which, honestly, would be our choice as well.
Next up: Captain Slow James May. Here we see James wearing a Rolex Milgauss, which is also another classic among wristwatches. The Milgauss was designed as an antimagnetic watch, specifically for people who worked in power plants, medical facilities and research labs where electromagnetic fields can cause havoc with the timing of a watch. Rolex took the Milgauss out of production in 1988, but reintroduced it again in 2007 in its beefy 40mm configuration. Earlier this year they introduced a blue dial version, as we predicted. Comparing to the car industry, let’s say the Milgauss is a BMW 6-series; a beautiful coupe ALSO taken out of production in the late 80’s and then reintroduced by popular demand in the first decade of the new millennia.
Now this is a watch for true connoisseurs. While many watch aficionados and collectors will turn up their noses because it’s a quartz watch (for the really hardcore Monochrome readers: you know, with a battery inside!… haven’t seen one like this around here in a long time eh?), this is actually a pretty cool watch. It was originally launched in 1976 at the Montreal Olympic Games and was, at that time, Omega’s flagship chronograph. It was also the first digital/analog chronograph on the market and now a days it’s a sought after collector’s piece. There’s even a Wikpedia page about this watch and that also mentions James May as one of the famous owners of an Omega Seamaster Chrono Quartz. It was cool in the 1970’s, definitely uncool in the following decades and is now cool again… so it might compare a Reliant Scimitar GTE? (is that still not cool?)
Here we go, James May sporting another classic, the IWC Portuguese Chronograph. An all-time favorite here at the Monochrome headquarters, and one that looks good in pretty much every situation. Boardroom, fancy dinner or spending the day fishing with your mates, it looks great. Earlier this year we reviewed the new IWC Portuguese Chronograph Classic, which is another interpretation of this classic. When thinking of a car that suited both James May and the IWC Portuguese Chronograph the model that kept coming to mind was the Audi A6. It’s large, practical, its lines and ergonomics are clean and purposeful. And it’s probably equally popular among bankers as the Portuguese Chronograph.
Now we’re getting in more dangerous territory. ‘Some say’ Jeremy Clarkson can use a Seamaster to scale a fish. And, that on at least one occasion he broke out in hives at the thought of wearing a Breitling Aerospace Emergency watch. All we know is he had been wearing the Omega Seamaster Professional in the older Top Gear series, and has been seen with the newer Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean in more recent episodes.
Although this iteration of the Seamaster, the Seamaster Planet Ocean, has not been around for decades, it can already be considered a classic. In fact the entire Seamaster collection comprises several classics, all of which a perfect all-rounders and that makes it easy to compare it to cars. No, with this timepiece Jezza is not in Ferrari, Lambo, and or Benz AMG territory. He prefers his cars to be perfect for the track and totally unfit to go for groceries or picking up the kids from school. His watches are choses with a more practical approach. So what would be the Omega Seamaster’s equivalent with wheels? I think Mercedes-Benz C class makes a great all-rounder that fits almost any situation: a night at the opera, hauling rubbish to the dump and it dispatches all of its duties with grace. We had a closer look at both the Seamaster Planet Ocean Chronograph and the Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT and both make it to our cool wall! (as do all of the above)
Here we see Jezza wearing an Audi RS5 in black. Err… I mean of course that Jeremy Clarkson is wearing an IWC Pilot Chronograph Top Gun Edition. Bold, masculine, all the things Jeremy Clarkson would love to be associated with. The highly legible dial of the 46mm Top Gun Chronograph with fly-back function is perfect for measuring hot-laps in your track-day racer. The ceramic/titanium case is made to look good after aggressive use (OK, here you go… “more than we can say for Mr. Clarkson”)
And on that bombshell it’s time to end!