Based in a Jura mountain village of Charquemont commune in Eastern France, watchmaker Michel Herbelin sits so close to the Swiss border it just can’t stop producing the finest quartz watches in the world. Well, excluding Switzerland, of course. Meet the new Michel Herbelin Newport Trophy Grand Sport family that is going to bring some rugged elegance into your life.
Almost forty years ago, at the time when most fine watchmakers still kept their faith and focused their attention on mechanical watches desperately trying to fight the onslaught of the dirt-cheap, high-quality Japanese quartz, Michel Herbelin was one of the first to reinvent their business model embracing the new technology.
I don’t know how much deliberation and soul-searching went into the process, but at the end -apparently soon enough to save the brand from bankruptcy- the French company started to build their luxury timepieces around relatively inexpensive, but more accurate quartz movements.
Even at that time, quartz mechanisms were perceived as the main attribute of super-affordable watches that compensated the meager price premium with the economy of scale and the relatively small brand had neither means for, nor was interested in making their timekeepers by the millions. The main challenge, therefore, was to compensate for the lack of hand-crafted mechanical movements with interesting design and superior quality of the case: at that time a quartz watch was still synonymous with cheap, uninteresting, mass-produced design, so the business opportunity was definitely there.
The French brand introduced its Newport model that immediately became their, so to speak, calling card for the next four decades.
Which brings me neatly to the Newport Trophy Grand Sport.
Available both as a diving watch or a chronograph, designed both for men and ladies, the new Newport Trophy is a tribute to the famous Newport Yacht Club, which is located in Great Britain.
The 2008 model is presented in a massive-looking 43 mm wide case that sports alternating satin-finished and polished surfaces. The impression of solidity is further increased with a huge setting crown, which is protected from accidental hits with a pair of crown guards, also not particularly small.
Being a real diver (with its double-sealed crown and a thick anti-reflective sapphire crystal it is water-resistant up to 1000 meters, which is nothing to sneeze at,) the timekeeper is equipped with a rotating diving bezel and features generously proportioned hands and hour markers with enough lume on them to use the watch even in the murkiest water.
Alas, Michel Herbelin‘s PR department says nothing about the movement, only noting that it is a “Swiss-made” quartz caliber.
See also: Oris Divers GMT Date diving companion
Build Quality: 4.5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4.5/5
Value for Money: 3.5/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
Photos: Michel Herbelin
Michel Herbelin Newport Trophy Grand Sport specification
Movement: Quartz, Swiss made
Complications: Chronograph, date
Power reserve: A couple of years
Case: Stainless steel
Diameter: 43.00 mm
Case height: 12.00 mm
Water resistance: 300 meters for the chronograph, 1000 meters for the three-hander
Strap: Stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire crystal, scratch-proof