During the SIHH 2011 event, JeanRichard has presented its new take on their successful line of cushion-shaped watches. The Highlands Sand GMT features the familiar exterior, which is now presented in a more sanguine (if a trifle militarist) khaki color scheme and even offers a complementary calfskin leather strap with the standard textile strap that looks like it came directly from a tactical rifle.
The Swiss-based watchmaker JeanRichard keeps introducing new timepieces built around their JR1000 automatic base caliber. The idea is elegant in its simplicity: let’s introduce a dozen (or two) models that feature the same movement and (maybe) the economy of scale will kick in allowing us to make a bigger cut from the MSRP pie. I am not sure whether there is an actual market for a similarly shaped piece from the same brand, but the strategy is surely worth a try.
The company plays with styling ideas, too. Compared to their 2009 2TimeZones Zirconium limited-edition model, the Highlands Sand GMT, for example, features a more rugged look with sand-blasted surfaces and high-contrast dial but is at the same time somehow more refined thanks to a bit more complex design of its stainless steel case.
It is also a bit larger than the aforementioned model although I have the impression that its total length from lug to lug didn’t change much.
Something that a lot of enthusiasts won’t like is that the caliber that powers this watch is a lot simpler than the JR1060 of the 2TimeZones. Well, when you aim to create a simple timekeeper, you should use a simpler movement I guess.
The second time zone, of course, comes courtesy of their Caliber JR1000 self-winding movement. As far as I understood, the brand makes this beautifully finished caliber on their production facilities, which means that you get a more exclusive timekeeper with a bit higher collectability, but as a trade-off have more problems when it comes to servicing or repairing the mechanism. Another problem is that it is still a relatively new job, so there is still no info as to how the movement will behave on a longer distance.
The mechanism is, by the way, a simple three-hander with date module. The second time zone indication comes courtesy of an inevitable notched rotating bezel that gives JR’s “rugged” models their signature look.
Just turn the bezel so that the hour hand points at the Arabic numeral corresponding to a time in your desired time zone, and you are set!
As simple as it is, the design has a serious drawback: since the numerals are painted with non-fluorescent paint, they obviously won’t glow in darkness so the function becomes virtually useless: you will have to make mental calculations like on a usual three-hander.
As I have already mentioned, the case is a bit oversized. Measuring 44.50 mm wide and 40.00 mm long, the body looks massive on a normal wrist, but the effect is partly compensated with shorter lugs: measuring less than 50 millimeters from one pair of horns to the other, they don’t let the chunky case hang over your wrist.
Compared to most cushion-shaped watches, this one features a deliciously complex body that stands nicely even compared to that of Panerai timekeepers: a de facto industry standard.
The fact the setting crown is recessed into the case and doesn’t protrude much almost makes me want to cry with gratitude to the brand that thinks about persons who prefer to wear their watches closer to the palm.
The face, as usual for the brand, is simple, but gorgeous.
The black wide hands with beige Superluminova on them contrast against the background of the dial, while the Arabic numerals printed in a brighter shade of olive are, too, easy to read both in broad daylight and total darkness.
The calendar aperture is a bit too small to my taste and I miss a bull’s-eye lens here that would magnify the little red numerals.
As you can see in the pictures, the Highland‘s matt dial is painted in the “Ecru” color (looks more like an olive to me,) which is perfectly supported by a khaki-colored fabric strap.
Of course, you can always change the military-looking thing to a brown calfskin leather band, but in this case, the watch will inevitably lose around 83 percent of its masculinity. You were warned.
According to the Swiss brand, there will be two more versions: one with a khaki dial (it will be sold as Highlands Baobab, ref. 60150-11-80A-ANAD) and the other with a black face (Highlands Ebony, ref. 60150-11-60A-AEED.)
The price is approximately €4900, which is a bit steep for what is essentially a three-hander with a rotating bezel.
See also: JeanRichard Aquascope 300m diving tool
JeanRichard Highlands Sand specification
Movement: Automatic, Caliber JR1000, in-house, 27 jewels, 28,800 vph, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, GMT
Power reserve: 48 hours
Case: Stainless steel
Bezel shape: Round
Dimensions: 44.50 mm x 40.00 mm
Case height: 11.96 mm
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Delivered with 2 straps: Khaki fabric AND Brown calfskin, sports sand-blasted stainless steel folding buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, anti-reflective