Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Hands-On With The Panerai Luminor 1950 3-Days PAM372

I just had the pleasure of wearing the new Panerai PAM00372 Luminor 1950 3 Days 47 mm for several days. Equipped with the new P.3000 movement, the Panerai PAM 372 was just launched at SIHH 2011 and is shaping up to the one of the most sought after Panerai watches of the year. A faithful and authentic looking remake of a vintage Panerai, the PAM372 everything that a Paneristi desires. 

Panerai got all the details right for the PAM372, the colour of the Luminova, the thick strap with unfinished edges, the engraved lettering on the sandwich dial, and the flat caseback. All hark back to the original Luminors.

FP Journe Centigraphe Sport hammers for a stunning $467,152

The FP Journe Centigraphe Sport with serial no. 001 just sold at Christie's Hong Kong sale for a hefty HK$3,620,000 or US$467,152. Weighing only 55 g thanks to its aluminium case, bracelet and movement, the Centigraphe Sport is the first of a new sports watch line from Journe.

This certainly beats Richard Mille in price per ounce but remember the proceeds from this Journe are going to tsunami relief in Japan.


Monday, 30 May 2011

Barcelona wins the Champions League

FC Barcelona just won the UEFA Champions League, beating Manchester United. Seiko is Barca's watch partner, while Hublot is the maker of the official Manchester United watch, the Big Bang King Power Red Devil.

Even though Man Utd lost, it is the club with a greater global appeal and Hublot's partnership with the Red Devils is a shrewd move. That being said Barca also has legions of fans worldwide, as well as arguably the world's greatest player in Lionel Messi, but it remains to be seen if Seiko can leverage the partnership to promote its brand. If Seiko can do half as well as Hublot in exploiting its partnership with Barcelona it would do wonders for the brand.


Saturday, 28 May 2011

More on the Tudor Heritage Advisor

Launched at Baselworld 2011, the Tudor Heritage Advisor is the second model in the line of historically inspired watches that began with the smash hit Tudor Heritage Chronograph "Monte Carlo" of 2010.

The Tudor Heritage Advisor and its inspiration

I recently saw the watch in the metal at a dinner organised by Singapore retailer Sincere Watch Ltd. I liked what I saw.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Comparison: Patek Philippe World Time ref. 5131 cloisonne dial

The Patek Philippe Ref. 5131 World Time with cloisonne enamel dial is one of the most sought after current Patek models. It is inspired by the Patek world time watches from the 40s and 50s with the distinctive Louis Cottier mechanism. Several of these Patek world timers have sold for world record prices at auction.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5131G (left) and Ref. 5131J

Two versions are available, the yellow gold 5131J which was introduced in 2008, and the white gold 5131G which came a year later.

Just returned from a trip

Apologies for the lack of posts, I've been travelling. Will have interesting content soon.


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Introducing two special creations from Vacheron Constantin's Atelier Cabinotiers, including the Vladimir supercomplication

Revealing the details of unusual bespoke timepieces is uncommon, but Vacheron Constantin has recently presented two watches created by its Atelier Cabinotiers, the one-handed Philosophia and the Vladimir grande complication. 

The VC Philosophia

Headed by Dominique Bernaz, who previously ran the Patek Philippe boutique in Geneva, Atelier Cabinotiers was set up in 2006 to cater to clients with big or bigger budgets seeking a special timepiece, something like the Philosophia.

Though it looks traditional, the Philosophia is a fascinating interpretation of time. It only has an hour hand so it tells the approximate time more or less, but the owner has the option of knowing the time to the minute by activating the minute repeater. In fact Alex Ghotbi of The Hour Lounge shared that the owner originally wanted a watch with no hands, only a minute repeater mechanism, but eventually changed his mind.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Introducing the FP Journe Centigraphe Sport; and a new line of Journe sports watches

An FP Journe Centigraphe Sport to be sold on May 30 at Christie's for charity. This is the first of a new line of ultra-light, sports timepieces from FP Journe. The watch is entirely aluminium, case, bracelet and movement, giving it a weight of only 55 g. The crown, pushers and sides of the bracelet are coated in rubber to absorb shock.

According to Journe the aluminium alloy used is "scratch resistant... [with] anti-corrosive and anti-allergic properties." This is good news as past attempts to use aluminium for watch cases, by IWC and Bulgari for example, were not notably successful given the softness of aluminium.

FP Journe launches the Centigraphe Sport in aluminium and rubber

I just heard of this from my friends Ay and Ty. This is the most unusual FP Journe yet, the Centrigraphe Sport chronograph. The case and bracelet are in aluminium, with rubber covering the crown and rocker for the chronograph. Piece no. 1 will be auctioned at the end of May by Christie's in Hong Kong with proceeds going to Japan earthquake relief. Based on the photo alone it reminds me of a Swatch aluminium.

The description from Christie's:


Calibre 1506 entirely crafted from aluminum alloy, semi-skeletonised aluminum alloy dial, subdials for 100th of a second, 20-seconds and 10 minute registers, circular aluminum alloy with rubber inserts, titanium crown with rubber coating, patented ergonomic chronograph reset button in the band at 2 o'clock which is rocked back and forth for the stopping and starting of the chronograph, F.P. Journe aluminum alloy bracelet with rubber inserts with titanium and rubber coateddeployant clasp, case, dial and movement signed
Diameter: 42 mm"

Update: More on the Centigraphe Sport.


Saturday, 14 May 2011

A forthcoming review of the Audemars Piguet Millenary 4101

AP Millenary 4101 in steel
Beginning several years ago Audemars Piguet began to modernise the Millenary, the perennial runner-up to the Royal Oak. But the results of these attempts were extremely high-end complicated watches with six figure prices while the more accessibly priced Millennary watches remained fairly traditional. This changed at SIHH 2011 when AP unveiled the Millenary 4101, a radical looking watch that surprisingly enough is entirely traditional mechanically.

I have had the pleasure of wearing a prototype of the steel Millenary 4101 for several days, thanks to the CEO of AP Asia, and I am thoroughly enamoured by it.

The Millennary 4101 is entirely about aesthetic, rather than technical, innovation. Despite its looks the movement is an entirely ordinary, albeit very well finished, automatic calibre with lever escapement. The layout and construction of the movement has been dramatised to great effect.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Personalise your Reverso online

A sample virtual Reverso with choice three letter initials
Jaeger-LeCoultre has just unveiled an online personalisation service for its iconic Reverso, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year. The swivel case of the Reverso makes it a perfect choice for custom decoration on the case back, be it enamel or engraving. JLC offers initials, coat-of-arms, maps, various motifs and a few of the simpler ones are available online. The site allows the user to create a mock-up of a personalised Reverso.

While quick and painless the online personalisation engine lacks the romance of doing it in person. I have a mental image of a client visiting a Jaeger-LeCoultre boutique to select an engraving, choosing from a thick book of images, including personalised Reverso watches belonging to long dead famous people. And sitting on the table is a tray of delicately engraved sample cases. And if there is nothing suitable the sales person will offer some erudite and clever suggestion of incorporating some personal symbol in a special motif.


Sunday, 8 May 2011

A method to the madness - the Hublot King Power Red Devil

Collaborations, tie-ups and ambassadors are dime a dozen in watchmaking, and Hublot is an especially egregious offender. It just announced the Hublot King Power Red Devil, the second watch Hublot Manchester United watch after the Big Bang Red Devil. Hublot signed its sponsorship agreement with Manchester United in 2008, and it also has tie-ups with a plethora of other sporting organisations and celebrities. There is a method to the madness.

As Jean-Claude Biver, Hublot's irrepressible CEO, explains it, soccer is watched by everyone everywhere. Rich and poor, young and old, football transcends boundaries. Rich people buy football clubs while millions of youths in developing countries watch soccer.

Consequently you can reach an enormous audience at all ends of the spectrum in partnership with Manchester United, an incredibly powerful brand and possibly the world's most famous football club. So when Hublot entered China, it did so with Man U when the club went on its Asian tour.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Enamelling and engraving at Cartier - the Tortue XL with jaguar

At SIHH 2011 Cartier unveiled several Metier d'Art watches, each of which demonstrated a particular artisan craft, including enamelling, marquetry and miniature mosaic. The Tortue XL with jaguar motif was one of my favourites of the fair. Not only is it visually striking, the Tortue jaguar demonstrates artisan craft and contains such incredible detail. This is not often found in watchmaking, which usually tends to leans towards technical skills rather than artisan skills. 

Friday, 6 May 2011

A clip of the Ulysse-Nardin Circus Minute Repeater

Ulysse-Nardin was one of the pioneers modern automata wristwatches, beginning with the San Marco Jaquemart in the 80s created by Christophe Claret at the behest of Rolf Schdnyder. The current collection includes the Circus Minute Repeater, one of several striking watches with automata UN makes.

When the repeater is activated, the show begins. "The monkey begins interfering in the ballgame of the clown; this movement indicates the hour chiming. The trainer with the whip reaches out to the tiger, indicating the quarters. The tiger stretches its paw, indicating the minutes. The bear bows in front of the ballet dancer while the chiming mechanism is activated."

This clip illustrates the motion of the automata.

The Circus repeater is a limited edition of 30 pieces in white gold with an aventurine dial. All the automaton figures are hand-carved white gold.


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Up Close with the Ulysse Nardin Freak Diavolo Rolf 75

The late Rolf Schnyder turned 75 last year and to commemorate the occasion Ulysse-Nardin unveiled the Freak Diavolo Rolf 75. No other watch embodies UN, and by extension Rolf Schnyder, as much as the Freak. In a poignant tribute to the Freak's importance one of these watches remained on Rolf Schnyder's during his cremation.

So christened for its unorthodox movement, the Freak has an enormous mainspring sitting under the gear train and bridges which are themselves the minute hand. And of course the Freak was a pioneer in the use of silicon in watchmaking. Unlike the original Freak the Diavolo is also a flying tourbillon that rotates once a minute.