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Pierre DeRoche is one of those interesting indy luxury watch brands you could go your whole life without noticing, but you'd be missing out on some interesting stuff. You might have heard of them if you are like me, so you'll be happy to check out my review of their fascinating SplitRock watch. A unique name for sure, there is nothing "rocky" about it. Though I will say that all of the brand's collections do have geologic style names. Aside from the SplitRock, there is the GrandCliff, and the Shiny Pebbles. The SplitRock comes in many flavors, I actually discussed one of its "artier" forms here when talking about the SplitRock Dare watch. In the 'standard' collection there are at least five different styles - including one with orange numerals and a diamond decorated version.

The U-2 is a spy plane that saw service first back in 1957 - they are still used today. I remember as a kid seeing one out at Edwards Airforce base in the CA desert. The planes are matte black and long. Really long. They look like flying pencils. Their use was for very high altitude recon. It was a cold war era spy plane after all. Meant to be stealthy and useful for long distances. Really, the plane looks like a cockpit and a large fuselage mounted jet engine. An image of the plane is placed right on the watch dial to remind you that the U-2 watch is themed on a plane, not a pop band.

And then 2009 saw lots of rubber, silly looking dials, and some questionable designs. Nothing about the new watches communicated a lack of physical quality or watches that were too hard to read, but rather they lacked the right design, as well as refinement. No longer was Tiffany & Co. the maker of classy watches. That isn't to say that none of their new watches is classy or well done, but such "proper models" are certainly more rare in the line up. I actually even like a few of their new watches. For instance the Atlas three-hand men's watch in steel and rubber is pretty cool. The chronograph looks too silly for me, but overall the watches are decent. Decent yes, but not Tiffany. These look more akin to watches offered by Calvin Klein (coincidentally another Swatch Group licensee brand). Maybe good for 0, not good for ,000. So there is nothing wrong with them, but they don't match what Tiffany's exacting image requirements should be, and don't look at all like watches that should cost a few thousand dollars. Swatch Group apparently is really confident that the Tiffany & Co. name alone on a watch will overcome design not fit for the brand. These are lower cost looking watches with a Tiffany & Co. name on them. I would prefer watches that look more expensive than they are and have the Tiffany & Co. name on them.

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When I visited the Porsche Design booth at Baselworld 2010 I was pretty amused to see the new P'6780 Diver watch cause it looked pretty familiar. In fact, just a few years ago Eterna released a watch that was almost identical, called the Eterna KonTiki Diver. I really loved about that piece and wrote about it here. Why was it that somehow the Eterna KonTiki Diver was now a simplified Porsche Design watch?

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Manually wound movements are often preferred in high luxury watches - especially those of distinct Germanic flavor. Why? Because the movements feel more traditional when they are manually wound, but more importantly, you can have an unobstructed view of the movement. A. Lange & Sohne makes all of their own movements. This includes the design, to the manufacture of tiny parts, to the decoration, to the intense assembly and testing. Because each watch spends so many hundreds of hours being detailed and finished, the brand needs you to see what it is that you are paying for. It begins to make a lot more sense why a watch cost's ,000 or more dollars when you know that it took 6-12 months to complete it by hand. Then when you see the movement and its beautiful, meticulous finishing and decor, you "get it." An automatic movement has so much of the movement covered with the oscillating rotor, that this becomes a bit of an issue. At least this is the idea. You can easily disagree with it.

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The dial also pops with detail, from the swirling guilloche to the individually cut and polished faceted hour markers.

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The blue bandit. It hits you, leaving you with a black and blue eye. This Bandido is blue, and only for the US. Franc Vila re-touches his FV Evos 8 Cobra to be in all black with bright, electric blue hands. The limited edition shares the rest of the Cobra characteristics from the carbon fiber elements on the case and custom automatic rotor on the movement. Limited to 88 pieces and ,000. Highway robbery? They don't call it a bandido for nothing.

Listen to the HourTime Interview with Xetum Watch Co. founder on starting a watch brand.

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Below that are two new models from NOA's 16.75 watch collection. Again, with Swiss quartz movement and awesome looking raised numerals and blend into the chapter ring. They are actually in painted metal and have a very high-quality look to them. These are among the best looking three-dimensional watches out there. You gotta love that refined, modern, technical look.

Here is probably his best quote from the interview:

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