The Swiss made replica Zenith Defy Classic Carbon stands out among all of the watches on this list as it is the only watch that includes a bracelet made of solid carbon as well. Considering the saturation of integrated-bracelet sports watches on the market, it is refreshing to see Zenith push the boundaries of what we have come to expect from an increasingly familiar framework.
The 41mm case is 100 metres water-resistant and the entire watch, including its bracelet, weighs a mere 65 grams. Unlike the Panerai above, Zenith has opted to leave a more organic carbon texture on the case – imbuing its appearance with an almost camouflage effect. Though it is made of carbon, both the case and bracelet feature sharp bevels. While not a mirror finish, the bevelling elevates the aesthetic of the sporty watch and adds a touch of elegance into the mix.
The openwork dial proudly displays the hi-tech movement within. The Elite movement, comprised of 187 components, includes both a silicon escape-wheel and lever – making its internals as futuristic and high-tech as its externals. With 50 hours of power reserve, the watch may not last an entire weekend without a wind like some of the others above. But with such a watch in your collection, it would be hard not to make this bad boy your weekend warrior.
The latter defines the tool watch: built to be useful, to resist, and for strength, accompanying its wearer on adventures during which it may even prove to be a vital companion.
Although the tool watch forms part of the bedrock of contemporary watchmaking, it would be a mistake to think that it first appeared in the 2000s. In actual fact, it has existed ever since wristwatches shifted from pure ornamentation to pure functionality. The latter defines the tool watch: built to be useful, to resist, and for strength, accompanying its wearer on adventures during which it may even prove to be a vital companion. Generally speaking, tool watches have three hands, but not necessarily a date. Occasionally, they come with a rotating bezel. This is usually unidirectional on diving models and bidirectional for racing watches; the latter also feature a chronograph complication, preferably with a flyback function. They tend to be black and made of steel or titanium. They are often military in origin (except for those designed for specific categories of very demanding users). Rolex, Blancpain, Tudor, and Breitling cite a wide range of missions, expeditions, campaigns, climbs and explorations – underground, underwater, or in the air – during which such watches have performed their duties without a hitch.
These timepieces are devoid of embellishments, robust, highly readable and uncluttered. They could almost be described as expendable, were it not for the fact that they have often played a vital role. Indeed, in the wake of vintage military trends and the quest for a no-frills style, their popularity has risen over the past 20 years, and shows no signs of slackening off. This backdrop helps explain the emergence of models such as Blancpain’s Bathyscaphe, a simplified version of its Fifty Fathoms – the contemporary reinterpretations of which are more in the luxury sports category than full-on tool watches. Then there’s the Tudor Black Bay, an iconic diving model now available on civvy street, and imbued with so much vintage spirit and finely-honed detail that it’s become the brand’s best-seller. It’s much the same story for several so-called ‘professional’ and ‘technical’ references from Rolex, the brand that has undoubtedly officialised the genre. Its aptly-named Explorers, Submariners, and GMT-Masters were brought into being with a view to being useful rather than merely decorative. The tool watch has also resulted in two watch accessories (although ‘accessory’ is hardly the right word anymore, since these are now essential style markers for contemporary timepieces): the metal (i.e. steel) bracelet, and the fabric strap, NATOstyle first and foremost (though there are others). The influence of these vintage styles has been crucial in defining many contemporary successes, and the trend shows no signs of waning.
The Explorer is a fake Rolex sport watch in its purest form. It’s unflashy but recognizable, and it presents the features, design language and history that underpins multiple icons of the brand. Most of all, however, it’s known as the watch that accompanied the first humans confirmed to summit Mount Everest. (Sort of.) The story of Everest and the Explorer is important and exciting, but it requires some unpacking and qualification right up front: Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of the world’s tallest mountain in 1953, and Rolex had sponsored the expedition and provided a watch. Just like when Rolex placed its waterproof Oyster replica watch on the wrist of Mercedes Gleitze for her 1923 swim across the English Channel, it was a brilliant marketing and publicity coup.
The Explorer’s role in the 1953 expedition has been so mythologized, however, it’s also been closely scrutinized, as nerdy watch collectors are want to do. Some have questioned what watch Hillary was actually wearing the moment he stepped foot on the peak, as he also had his own Smiths De Luxe watch with him — but there’s no way to confirm one way or the other. Both watches made the trip and both companies prominently advertised it. (Interestingly, it would seem that Norgay chose to take his own gold Rolex Datejust on the British 1953 expedition — one that he received as a gift from the company following an expedition in 1952). Which watches actually summited the mountain is still cause for fierce debate. It’s also noteworthy that the high quality Rolex replica provided was an Oyster Perpetual made in 1950 before there was such thing as an Explorer collection. Just as Hillary would later be knighted and have Sir tacked onto his name for the achievement, the Oyster Perpetual would only later be branded with “Explorer” on its dial. The Oyster Perpetual that went to Everest had a white dial, dagger indices, leaf hands, and lacked most of the design cues associated with the Explorer today.
Many of those traits, along with the “Explorer” designation, would be introduced the very same year as the Everest expedition. The 1953 reference 6350 had the proven-rugged Oyster case, automatic winding, the 3-6-9 Arabic numerals, triangular 12 o’clock marker and Rolex’s iconic Mercedes handset — all features that existed on previous best Rolex replica watches, but which coalesced to celebrate the occasion. It also had a delectably cool dial texture which collectors have come to refer to as “honeycomb” due to its pattern. So, if you buy a 2020 Rolex Explorer copy with black dial today, will it look at all like what was on Edmund Hillary’s wrist in 1953? Nope. But all the little details of the Explorer’s story serve to fill out its character and only make it more interesting. Between 1953 and the present, the Explorer has evolved but largely stayed true to the first model. The biggest change came in 1971 when the collection was expanded to include the Explorer II, a watch with very different looks and functions but connected to the original in its stated purpose. The Explorer II has a larger case with crown guards, a fixed steel bezel with 24-hour markings and a GMT complication expressed as a big, bright orange arrow on the dial. With its own tales of adventure, it’s sporty and cool, and one of the most popular Rolex models today. (Why the fixed, 24-hour bezel and GMT function? It was made for spelunkers, so that they could tell whether it was AM or PM in the darkness of a cave.)
The poor Explorer, with its smaller case, plain black dial and simple functionality lacking even a date display, is largely overshadowed by the Explorer II and other more exciting Rolex sport watches. In 2010, the 36mm case established in 1953 was updated to a more modern 39mm, but because it’s somewhat overlooked, it happens to be one of the most accessible Rolex watches available today ($5,900) and makes for an excellent everyday watch.
To help the stainless steel bracelet fake Rolex Explorer stand out in the catalog, Rolex might consider bringing back the “honeycomb” dial texture with a modern execution. It would excite brand fans and capitalize on all the current vintage watch enthusiasm. Add an updated movement like other watches have recently received with (the caliber 3230), and voila: another Rolex hit — no need for a 41mm case, thanks.
In this day and age, it’s rare to find a truly fresh-to-market replica watch of epic stature, mint condition, and true historic importance. Rare, but not impossible.
Here, we share for the first time the story of famed race car driver Carroll Shelby (1923–2012) and the rose gold case fake Patek Philippe chronograph ref. 1463 he was awarded in 1959 – a trophy for winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with co-driver Roy Salvadori, in an Aston Martin DBR1. Winning this race was the highlight of Shelby’s racing career. And the fact that a Patek chronograph, not a Rolex, was given as a prize for the ultimate car race? This rewrites watch history. The 2019 movie Ford v Ferrari will give you the framework (Hollywood style) for understanding Carroll Shelby (especially during his Ford years). The documentary Shelby American: The Carroll Shelby Story gives a more realistic insight into Shelby’s life and legacy, from his failed attempt as a chicken farmer, to his racing years, to his legacy and later development of the AC Cobra and Shelby Mustangs.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to Pat Shelby, Carroll Shelby’s youngest son, about the importance of this Patek Philippe ref. 1463 copy with brown leather strap. Pat was in the pit in Le Mans and is one of the last surviving members of the inner circle present on that memorable day. “I was a kid at the time,” he says, “and didn’t realize I was witnessing history until much later on.”
Carroll Shelby joined the U.S. Air Corps right out of high school. He reported to San Antonio for training and quickly developed a reputation as a talented pilot. According to his son, “They made him a flying sergeant, and he kept putting in to go overseas, but they kept him here to train others… He joined a year before Pearl Harbor. He trained other pilots, navigators, and bombardiers. He flew everything, and the last plane he flew while in the service was the B29. He always remained disappointed that he couldn’t go over to fight.”
After the war, Shelby turned his attention from the air to the ground and focused almost exclusively on car racing. He started driving professionally at the age of 29 and quickly gained the attention of the international racing community. He raced domestically in the late 1940s and early 1950s before going international. In 1954, he raced the 1,000 km Buenos Aires. There, he met with Aston Martin and started the relationship that led him to the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959. His racing profile and fame grew and culminated in the Le Mans race.
Throughout the 1950s, he honed his skills as a salesperson to convince various owners that he deserved to race their cars. Shelby convinced owners and teams that he was the right man for the job and raced cars from Aston Martin, Austin-Healey, Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche, and others.
Shelby knew that the 1959 race was the high point of his racing career, and the day he received the Patek Philippe replica for winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans set the stage for the next chapter of his life. In 1961, he opened the Shelby School of High Performance Driving at the Riverside Track in Southern California. “Winning the 24 Hours was probably the greatest thrill I ever got out of racing,” Shelby said. “I can think of plenty of other races that carry their quota of thrills for the winner, but when you win this one, it kind of gives you license to go out and tell people you’re good, and that often helps get some other deals together.”
According to his son, once he received the luxury fake Patek Philippe, he discreetly put it in his pocket and got back to the business of racing. Shelby wasn’t into racing for the riches and accolades. He was only in it to win. The ref. 1463 itself is extraordinarily well preserved. Shelby, not being the most materialistic person, rarely if ever wore the watch, and later gifted it to his teenage son Pat.
The family treasured the watch for its sentimental value, how it marked such a memorable day. “I didn’t wear it, and it upset him,” Pat says. “He said ‘You ought to wear it,’ and I said no. It was pristine, and I wanted to keep it that way.”
This ref. 1463’s condition speaks for itself. It still has its original presentation strap, original red box with gilt Calatrava logo, and it has never been cleaned or polished. As an example of a ref. 1463, it is a holy-grail specimen. Its remarkable history brings it to a new level. The engraving on the caseback: “Carroll Shelby. Aston Martin. 1st LeMans 1959. 2701 Miles” is perfectly preserved. The watch stayed carefully protected and unknown to those outside the family until Pat Shelby reached out to his longtime friend Denis Boulle a few years back. Denis is the owner of de Boulle Diamond & Jewelry in Dallas, Texas, a prominent Patek Philippe authorized retailer. Denis’ son Nick is a noted race car driver (@nickboulle).
Pat knew Denis and his son were the right people to trust with his family watch. Pat asked them, “You’re into racing, what’s this thing worth?” When Denis Boulle first held the watch he said, “I felt like I was holding part of racing history in my hands.”
Aware of the Shelby legacy, and the importance of a new old stock ref. 1463, the exchange led to a brilliant idea: to showcase the Aston Martin DBR1, recreated using as many original parts and manufacturing processes that helped Carroll Shelby win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, alongside the “trophy” Swiss Patek Philippe clone watch for sale at the deBoulle store in Dallas.
“Over the years, we have found that many of the people who collect cars also collect jewelry and watches,” Denis says. “We often invite clients to racing events all over the world, giving a VIP experience that they just can’t get anywhere else. Having the car and the watch on display in the store is a wonderful experience for all visitors.”
Fitting the reproduction 1959 Le Mans-winning DBR1 into the store was no easy feat, as Nick Boulle explains. “We had freshly installed front doors removed to make room, and the car was partially disassembled to ensure it safely squeezed through the door opening.”
Hundreds of people have made the pilgrimage to see the historic car and the watch, which are still on show for a limited time. As for the future of the watch? Not for sale. It’s a family heirloom that is going to stay in the family. As Pat said, “Heck, I might just start wearing it tomorrow.”
The unusual alternative, the unsung hero, a Piaget that isn’t ultra-thin? Yes, the Polo S will confound and surprise you, and what can we call this shape? This sports watch from the maison of Swiss made replica Piaget is as confusing as it is different, but with its indefinable shape and vertically striped dial, a quirky but viable value alternative to the Nautilus. What triggers your synapses is the bright emerald dial, on which the polished pink gold indices pop like crazy. What gets you are similitudes like the horizontal stripes combined with a smooth rehaut minute track.
Like the 5711, the back edges of the indices follow the squaround (I’ll copyright that!) inner edge of the bezel. Classic sword hands are balanced in length, the Piaget logo sits within a recessed plaque-like rectangle, and then that seconds hand. We love the counterbalance of the needle second hand, a diamond-shaped logo with a P, an applaudable whimsical move by perfect fake Piaget. An in-house 111P movement promises a 50-hour power reserve, while the brushed and polished H-link bracelet is superb. Main case body polished, large brushed bezel oval in shape, with a razor-sharp bevel, makes this a stunning 42mm alternative that wears smaller and, well, rocks. While showing inspiration that at first glance seems close to the Nautilus, it then twists your impression into something that can only be a quality Polo S replica.