Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Patek Philippe shop-in-shop at Sincere Haute Horlogerie

Patek Phillippe at Sincere Haute Horlogerie
Sincere Haute Horlogerie at the Hilton Hotel in Singapore was in Singapore's first avant-garde watch retail store. It underwent a revamp recently and now boasts a Patek Phillippe shop-in-shop (which takes the place of the Franck Muller shop-in-shop). During the opening event the Patek Philippe Tiger Marquetry limited edition (ref. 5077P) was presented. It's a set of four timepieces depicting a tiger on the dial in marquetry - composed of hundreds of tiny pieces of various wood. Typically the Patek limited edition artisan quartet feature enamel dials which makes this quite unusual.


Photos courtesy Sincere Watch

The new catalogue from Habring²

The Habring2 dead seconds
Habring², an Austrian watchmake run by Maria and Richard Habring, has just released its 2011 catalogue in PDF format (opens in a new window). Richard was formerly at IWC and was one of the creators of signature IWC mechanisms like the split seconds and flying tourbillon. Habring² are interesting, honest and well priced and the catalogue is worth a read. It's not just a catalogue of models but also includes explanations of several mechanisms like the dead seconds. 


A look at selected Only Watch 2011 timepieces

The unique watches created for Only Watch 2011 were in Singapore for a day long exhibition at Malmaison by The Hour Glass. Here are photos of a couple of the timepieces. One that I did not photograph but is worth a look is the Ikepod hour glass

Pardon the poor photos, they were taken with a point-and-shoot through the display case. Some of the watches include links to a description in a separate post.


Bell & Ross BR01 Casino
A variant of the BR01 radar
The "0" indicate on the roulette wheel indicates the hours
and the white dot the minutes while the seconds is in the centre

Bernhard Lederer BLU Gagarin tourbillon
Created to mark the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's voyage
Contains a one minute tourbillon that makes one revolution around the dial in 108 minutes which was the length of Gagarin's orbit

Monday, 29 August 2011

News: Presenting the IWC Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia

IWC has just unveiled what it says is its most complex watch, the Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia; the other contender for that title is the Il Destriero Scafusia grande complication of 1993. (As an interesting aside IWC says this is its most complicated watch yet; the Il Destriero Scafusia had more complications but was built on the Valjoux 7750-based Grande Complication movement - so which one wins?) 

IWC Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia

As the name implies the IWC Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia is an astronomical complication - it displays sidereal time, star chart, sunrise and sunset display, as well as a perpetual calendar. And for good measure IWC has thrown in a constant force tourbillon.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Timeout for Time - an exhibition of Meissen porcelain timekeepers

Zeit Auszeit (Timeout for Time) is an exhibition of Meissen porcelain timekeepers at the Meissen factory in Meissen, a short drive from Dresden. Running till 28 February 2012, the exhibition showcases 25 timepieces in Meissen porcelain, mostly clocks from the 19th century to the modern age, as well as a pair of Glashütte Original watches.

Because Meissen has kept the moulds of every single design ever produced, the clocks below have two dates - the first is the date of the mould while the latter is the date of the production of the piece is question. Even today the Meissen catalogue contains some items that were originally design centuries ago.

Visiting the Meissen porcelain factory - the oldest porcelain works in Europe founded in 1710 - is worth the trip and this exhibition is a bonus. Many thanks to Glashütte Original for arranging this visit.


Saturday, 27 August 2011

A look at the process of electroplating

Chopard just issued an enlightening press release outlining the process of electroplating parts after they have been finished at the LUC workshops in Fleurier - this is where the LUC Engine One Tourbillon and LUC Tech Fleurier are made. This is a vital process in watchmaking as nearly all the large components in a movement, most obviously bridges and base plate, are plated, typically in rhodium or gold.


Press release:
The Electroplater

The electroplating workshop looks very much like an alchemist’s laboratory. Its function is to change brass into gold… or something similar. It actually works by in using electrolytic processes to apply layers of metal to parts that are out of metal themselves in order to protect and embellish them. An electroplating workshop is therefore first and foremost a set of liquid vats serving as containers for coating, washing and rinsing.

Bling on a budget

The Hublot Big Bang Black Caviar has a case, dial, bezel and crown in facetted, polished black ceramic which resembles pave black diamonds. It is well nigh impossible to tell the time in any lighting at any angle. This watch is ultra-bling but it's a brilliant idea - bling on a budget. Retail is somewhere in the region of US$10,000. And for some reason I like it.

Video taken at Hublot boutique in Ginza, Tokyo.


Friday, 26 August 2011

A tribute to Gerald Genta from Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet just released a short statement dedicated to the late Gerald Genta, who designed the Royal Oak, without which AP would not be what it is today. The 40th anniversary of the Royal Oak alluded to in the statement will happen in 2012. Kudos to AP for this admirable gesture.


The Business of Time

The Business of Time, the annual watch supplement published by The Business Times, Singapore's business daily, is out today.

From 6 pm Singapore time (1000 GMT) it can be read online until 2000 GMT. I have been a contributor to this supplement for several years and have three articles in this year's edition.


Thursday, 25 August 2011

Hublot Classic Fusion for Malmaison in Singapore

Hublot has just unveiled a limited edition Classic Fusion in Royal Purple for Malmaison, the ultra-luxe retail store run by The Hour Glass in Singapore. The strap is rubber with an alligator front and purple stitching. 100 will be made and sold at The Hour Glass stores and the Hublot boutique in Singapore.


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Urwerk unveils the UR-1001 Zeit Device pocket watch

Urwerk has just unveiled the impressive UR-1001 Zeit Device, a pocket watch with a 1000 year annual calendar. Both the time and calendar are displayed on rotating cubes first seen on the Harry Winston Opus V and now the UR-201 and UR-202. But the UR-1001 has a retrograde minute hand, just like the Opus V, instead of the telescopic minute pointer of the UR-201/202.

UPDATE: Close-ups of the actual UR-1001 Zeit Device.

Urwerk UR-1001

The calendar is displayed in similar fashion, with the months on cubes and the date on a retrograde hand.

Also on the front at the night and day, as well as power reserve display.

Turn the watch over and it displays the trademark Urwerk oil change indicator which reminds the owner to service the watch every five years. Also on the back is the 100 year indicator that moves in five year increments, and a 1000 year indicator that moves in 100 year increments.

The calibre is automatic and the pocket watch is presented with a winder. It is a limited edition of eight pieces in AlTiN coated steel.

This video illustrates how the cubes work on the UR-201.

Artya has a sense of humour

Artya, run by Yvan Arpa, the CEO of Romain Jerome in its rusty Titanic steel heyday, just announced the "Son of a Gun", a gun-themed watch ordered by a client. The press kit reads:

"To debut the collection Artya has imagined a watch containing real bullets. With a bezel and inner dial like a target sight, the piece showcases six 6mm Flobert bullets suspended in the dial almost like the barrel of a revolver. Use of copper wire like dynamite wire and the iconic 47mm wide steel case display Artya brand DNA.

Bite the Bullet: Guns don’t always kill people, time always does. [Italics added for emphasis]"

You have to love their sense of humour.


Monday, 22 August 2011

Toppling the icon

The icon
I owned the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch three times. Thrice. Over a few years, but many years ago The first was a seventies era Moonwatch, the second was from the eighties and the most recent was a modern version.

All were visually identical, more or less, with the same movement. The last one was the most different - it had a sturdier bracelet, compared to the rinky dink stamped bracelets of the old ones, and a display back showing the rose-gold plated movement.

The reason I bought the Moonwatch three time is because it is an icon. It went to the Moon and Omega never stops reminding us of that. Surely it must be a great watch.

And I sold it each time because I didn't like looking at it or wearing it. I found it lacklustre, ho-hum.

The lesson I took to heart is that it doesn't really matter how a watch is perceived. Others may sacrifice lambs under a full moon in its name, but that doesn't mean you'll like the watch.


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Some shots of the Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon

A blinged out Big Bang tourbillon. Notice the distinctive BNB Concept flying tourbillon and the big wheel on the dial that is purely for aesthetics. This watch is not about complications but about how it looks. Admittedly it does have a bizarre appeal, maybe because of the large baguette diamonds on the bezel which I like. This has several of the design elements, like a layered dial and complex case, that make it a visually attractive timepiece, like the Big Bang King Power. More photos after the jump.


Friday, 19 August 2011

Girard-Perregaux celebrates 220 years with exhibitions around the world

Girard-Perregaux Esmeralda tourbillon
To celebrate its 220th anniversary, Girard-Perregaux (which was recently acquired by PPR) will hold a series of exhibitions around the world, including stops in Singapore and New York, to show watches from its museum, including the famous Esmeralda Three Gold Bridges pocket watch.

I was fortunate enough to actually seen and hold the Esmeralda; it is larger and heavy than it looks and though it's clearly old the movement is beautiful.

The exhibition schedule is as follows:

The travelling exhibition:• Singapore – Art and Science Museum – from 16th to 18th September 2011
• Shanghai – Sinan Mansions – from 20th to 23rd October 2011
• New York – Boutique Girard-Perregaux on Madison – from 18th to 26th November 2011

Other timepieces from the museum:
• In a dedicated space of the Printemps Haussmann in Paris, from 25th August to 8th October 2011

Together with exhibitions organised by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie:• Mexico – Salón Internacional Alta Relojería – from 4th to 6th October 2011
• Moscow – Kremlin museum – from 21st October to 10th November 2011
• London – SalonQP – from 11th to 12th November 2011
• Paris – Salon Belles Montres – from 25th to 27th November 2011


Montblanc and VC&A for Only Watch 2011

Montblanc's contribution to Only Watch is a unique Vintage Pulsographe from the Villeret 1858 in rose gold with white Grand Feu enamel dial. Ordinarily the rose gold Pulsographe has a black enamel dial - the white looks much better. The movement inside is extremely classical in both construction and finishing (it is essentially a Minerva ebauche designed 50 years ago).

Van Cleef & Arpels has created a unique double retrograde inspired by Jules Verne, in keeping with the theme for the 2011 collection from the brand. This is mechanically identical to the "Five Weeks in a Balloon" presented at SIHH 2011 with the double retrograde mechanism conceived by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht.


But instead of the balloon this unique piece features a spaceship and star to indicate the time. Like the VC Dove watch, this VC&A is a showcase of the art of enamelling.


Thursday, 18 August 2011

Gerald Genta, designer and entrepreneur, passes away

I just heard that Gerald Genta has passed away. In recent years he had his own brand Gerald Charles, but his success and legacy will be his designs of the seventies and eighties like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Patek Philippe Nautilus, IWC Ingenieur, Bulgari-Bulgari and Omega Constellation.

Though he had not designed any significant watch for several years, Mr Genta will nevertheless go down as one of the most important watch designers of the 20th century. In fact he is probably the last of the superstar watch designers; it is difficult to imagine a designer enjoying the same level of success with numerous hits with different brands in today's saturated market.

And it should also be remembered Gerald Genta was more than a watch designer. He was a pioneer in independent, complicated watchmaking. His brand in the eighties and early nineties was a significant maker of highly complicated timepieces, many of which were designed and mostly made in-house. The Gerald Genta brand had two factories, one in Geneva and another in Le Sentier. 

Amongst other things his brand made the world's thinnest minute repeater (impressive if not always reliable) and more famously the first automatic grande et petit sonnerie with Westminster chime (some versions even had a perpetual calendar and tourbillon). In those days Gerald Genta was arguably the only recently established brand doing high complications in significant numbers.

His commercial success set the template for later independents where the driving force was an entrepreneur and designer rather than a watchmaker.

RIP Gerald Genta.


Monday, 15 August 2011

Unique Celsius phone for Only Watch 2011

Celsius phone for Only Watch 2011
Celsius X VI II, maker of the handmade LeDIX mobile phone with tourbillon, has created a unique phone for Only Watch 2011. Similar in form to the LeDIX, the unique piece is a clamshell phone with a mechanical movement (developed by Chronode which is run by Jean-Francois Mojon of Harry Winston Opus X fame) incorporated.

Unlike the LeDIX this has no tourbillon, though it has an exposed escapement. Instead it has a date and second time zone function, both of which are display by fibre optics. A slim tube of fibre optic cable carries the image of the date disc that is set fairly deep into the movement. (More photos follow.)

Friday, 12 August 2011

A look at the making of the Ikepod hourglass

Ikepod gave me these amazing black and white shots of the production of the hourglass designed by Marc Newson. As the photos depict, they are painstaking made by hand at Glaskeller in Basel, Switzerland. The mini hourglass made for Only Watch is produced in the exact same way, except it's smaller and coated in translucent red. They are actually stills from the video illustrating the production of the hourglass (which can be seen at the bottom of this post), but they capture the detail beautifully.


Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Limited editions watches by Cartier for Singapore

Cartier has just announced a pair of limited editions for Singapore.

The first is white gold ladies jewellery watch, a Bagnoire Hypnose with Dalmatian-like black and white diamonds.

The other is a Rotonde de Cartier large date in the 42 mm case. Originally part of the discontinued Collection Privee Cartier Paris line, this Rotonde is the final run of this particular model as it is no longer in production.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Only Watch 2011 exhibition in Singapore on 30 August

MB&F HM4 for Only Watch 2011
On 30 August 2011 all forty watches for Only Watch 2011 will be exhibited in Singapore at Malmaison by The Hour Glass. The exhibition will be open to the public:

Date:    30 August 2011
Time:    10am to 6pm
Venue:  Malmaison by The Hour Glass
              270 Orchard Road
              #01-01 Knightsbridge

              (Grand Park Hotel)

Singapore is the second stop on a world tour that culminates with the auction preview in Monaco on 21 and 22 September.

The unique watches on display include the MB&F HM4 "Panda", Ikepod's red hourglass, Vacheron Constantin's dove watch, De Bethune's stunning DB25, and the Hublot Oceanographic 4000.

Definitely worth a visit.


Wednesday, 3 August 2011

A gentleman's playround - Döttling collector rooms

Döttling, the German maker of ultra-luxe safes (the brand made the one tonne Coffret 55 safe that houses the Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica grande sonnerie set), just announced its "Collector rooms". Essentially Döttling will outfit the interior of the room to store whatever the owner hoards. Two security options are offered, a high security room or regular access with the security build into the storage cabinets. The photos supplied below depict a Mandarin Oriental meets Bellagio type decor but I reckon minimalist is possible too.


Monday, 1 August 2011

Traditional movement finishing techniques explained by Lange

I just received from Lange a wonderful press release, paired with terrific macro photos, outlining some of the most important traditional movement finishing techniques, like striping, perlage and anglage, so well executed by Lange in watches like the Double Split Chronograph

The full press release can be seen below. And fans of Lange will also want to know more about its in-house hairspring manufacturing.

Seiko 130th Anniversary commemorative site up

Seiko has just unveiled the special site dedicated to its 130th Anniversary. It covers the brand's history from 1881, world firsts like the E-Ink and 600 m diver, and also the 130th anniversary collection which includes the 130th Anniversary Grand Seiko watches. It's worth a look.


Seiko 130th Anniversary Grand Seiko