A Week on the Wrist – Newmark 6BB RAF Chronograph 2018

Newmark 6BB RAF Chronograph

The Newmark 6BB was issued to aircrews by the RAF in 1980 in a run that was limited to about 500 pieces. Now it is back with some minor changes in a reissued form. We previewed the watch last month, and when the brand found out how much we love military wristwatches, they sent us a Newmark 6BB RAF Chronograph to try for ourselves. Here’s the WRUK verdict:

A Week on the Wrist – Newmark 6BB RAF Chronograph 2018

Although this Newmark is not the same brand that originally produced watches for the RAF, they have paid keen attention to detail. The watch arrives in a period-accurate box, stickered up with a (legitimate) NATO reference number and wrapped in military spec VCI paper. It’s a thrill to carefully unwrap the watch from its packaging and certainly gives that feeling of “quality”. The box is not as practical as a watch roll, but certainly better than a large presentation box that will end up languishing in a cupboard.

Case

The Newmark 6BB RAF Chronograph’s case is designed to match the original watch, and so it feels a little small by today’s standards.  The case measures 38-41mm, which is right at the low-end of our sweet spot, and it wears bigger. The case is nicely machined with no sharp edges, and the case back is inscribed with reference numbers. Overall, it meets both of our key tests – it looks and feels good and it is accurate to the original watch. We were impressed by how much attention to detail Newmark have paid to getting this watch right – they have even obtained a NATO stock number so everything is accurate. To a picky watch-enthusiast, these things are important – full credit to the design team.

Spot the difference – the reissued Newmark (left) compared to the original (right)

The crown does not screw down and is unsigned (which is period accurate) and the slight gap between it and the case is also accurate to the original. Pushers have a nice positive action and the meca-quartz VK64 movement instantly snaps the chronograph hand back to 12 O’clock with a satisfying click.

Dial and Hands

The dial is nicely distorted at the edges by the domed acrylic crystal, and the finish is clear and legible – as you’d expect from a military design. The lume on the dial is superb, a little shine with the UV torch and it glowed for what felt like an age. The sword hands are also well-proportioned and glow in the dark, and the sub-dials are easy to read.

A key difference from the original watch, thanks to the quartz movement, is that the sub-dials are different. Instead of running seconds at 9 and elapsed chronograph minutes at 3, the elapsed minutes are at 9 and the dial near the crown is a 24-hour indicator. We would have preferred running seconds, and hope that the brand decides to create a mechanical version in the future, perhaps using the Seagull hand-winding movement.

Strap and Buckle

The watch came with a single-piece military spec strap (not a NATO) which is good quality and comfortably fits any sized wrist. It also makes strap changing a cinch. The buckle is signed with Newmark and although nothing to write home about, it does the job well.

What We Liked

  • The presentation of the package and experience of unwrapping the watch is at Apple levels of superb
  • The watch feels great on the wrist and build quality is top-notch
  • Legibility – a common issue with chronographs – is brilliant

What We Didn’t Like

  • We’d have preferred a mechanical option, as the sub-dials are the only part that is not period accurate
  • The watch is on the small side for modern tastes, which may put some people off
  • Although it is an accurate replica, it lacks some of the common details that make good watches great – such as a signed crown or a display case-back.

Newmark 6BB RAF Chronograph 2018 – The WRUK Verdict

The question most of our readers would ask us is: if we were in the market for a military watch, would we buy this over a Seagull 1963 reissue chronograph? We think there is room for both in a watch collection, and the Newmark 6BB RAF Chronograph is sufficiently different in look and feel from the Chinese Seagull that we would not worry at all about buying both.

The Newmark is a brilliant workhorse for those who want a no-nonsense watch that tells the time and can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion. If you enjoy aviation watches and want the convenience of quartz then, for the money, this is a great purchase. For those who are not fans of quartz, we suggest letting Newmark know that you want

Buy a Newmark 6BB RAF Chronograph

For more details and to join the waiting list or link to the Kickstarter campaign which starts on 29th August, visit https://www.newmarkwatchcompany.com/

Pricing for the Kickstarter is as follows:

Level 1 – £200.00
The basic package (Kickstarter only) which will include:

The 6BB Chronograph
1 x deluxe NATO strap in Admiralty Grey
Instruction booklet and Guarantee
Within a basic (read military spec!) cardboard box.

This will be limited to between 100-125 pieces and priced at £200.00 (including postage).

Level 2 – £239.00
This represents what will be available as the standard retail package after the campaign and when the watch is made available on the website.

It will include

The 6BB Chronograph
1 x deluxe NATO strap in Admiralty Grey
1 x bespoke Cordura NATO strap in Khaki
Instruction booklet and Guarantee
In a larger, custom designed box.

This will be unlimited in availability on Kickstarter and priced at £239.00 (including postage) for the duration of the campaign, thereafter £289.00

Level 3 – £269.00
This offering will be a low serial number ‘special’ limited to 40 pieces and guaranteeing the purchaser a serial number between 010 and 050 and will include:

The 6BB Chronograph
1 x deluxe NATO strap in Admiralty Grey
1 x bespoke Cordura NATO strap in Khaki
1 x bespoke NATO strap in RAF colours
1 x ‘Speedbird’ NATO strap
1 x custom etched (with Newmark logo and watch serial number) vane from a Rolls Royce RB199 jet engine used to power the Tornado.
Instruction booklet and Guarantee
In a larger, custom designed box.

Author: Mike Richmond

Usually found skulking around eBay or the International Watch League forum, Mike writes for a living and spends what little money he makes building up his collection of timepieces.

7 Replies to “A Week on the Wrist – Newmark 6BB RAF Chronograph 2018

  1. So you don’t like the movement because it isn’t period accurate but you would like to see a signed crown and display caseback. Great reasoning there, mate.

    1. Thanks for your comment, and thanks for reading! For clarity, I didn’t necessarily mean I would like to see such adornments. But buyers will compare this with similarly-priced alternative timepieces and will note that it might seem to have a lower specification. Regular readers will be aware that I always make a point of finding both positive and negative comments in all my reviews for balance. Have you purchased the watch? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts: they will be delivered to backers soon – I’ve seen some photos of the finished pieces.

      1. Well, this is your platform but I would rather inform what the watch is so people wouldn’t make that kind of assumptions.

        Since you asked: I think what Ewans doing is cool. I like the proportions. I like the acrylic. It looks great. Good on him for not going with fixed springbars. I hate nato straps. Period. I don’t care for that particular movement because I find the 24h feature useless – and that would be what I would point out if I were to talk about inaccuracies. If I were to buy this watch and had the option of removing the 24h subdial (a ghosted feature if you like) I would rather have that. It’s an overall ridiculous feature and unwarranted on a watch like this. If you could set a second time independently I would be fine with it, but an am/pm indicator.. ridiculous.

        I know Ewan stated that ”there is no outward indication that this is a quartz movement” but he’s wrong. The first thing you notice when you look at VK64s is that they appear to be dead. There’s no running seconds. You have to stare at it and wait for the minute hand to move to find out if it seems to be running ok. I realize this isn’t a homage per se but in the end it kind of is. If I had this watch I would never ever feel like I was wearing a part of Newmark or military history. I haven’t seen it in person yet but I suspect if doesn’t quite feel like it either.

        1. We’re pretty much in agreement then. I love the authentic approach but can’t abide the 24 hour indicator either. Ticking seconds would even be preferable for me. But the watch is really nice. It is a solid and attractive timepiece. I just wish I could choose a mechanical option.

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