Thursday, 28 February 2013

Hands-On With The TAG Heuer Mikrotimer Flying 1000, The 1/1000th Second Chronograph (With Live Photos And Pricing)

First unveiled in 2011, the Mikrotimer Flying 1000 was the first wristwatch to be able to measure 1/1000th of a second and in the same year it won the Best Sports Watch award at the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève. It was preceded by the Carrera 360 and Carrera Mikrograph, both of which could measure 1/100th of a second. Much like how exotic car manufacturers shave off fractions of a second each year, TAG Heuer does the same for chronographs.

TAG Heuer Mikrotimer Flying 1000

TAG Heuer has been the most successful amongst its peers (think Omega, Breitling, Rolex) in creating a niche for itself in advanced watchmaking. Its high horology efforts diverge into two distinct strands. 

The first is high frequency chronographs, like the Mikrotimer Flying 1000 which measures up to 1/1000th of a second; an obvious nod to the brand's history. Alongside the stopwatches are the concept watches which rethink the three key mechanisms inside a movement - power transmission (belts in the Monaco V4), the regulator (the magnetic balance wheel in the Carrera Pendulum) and lastly the power source (in a yet to be announced timepiece).  Each year at Baselworld when TAG Heuer unveils its latest concept watch, collectors and the industry tend to take notice.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

News: MB&F HM4 Final Edition "Stealth Fighter" (with live pics and price)

The MB&F HM4 Thunderbolt has finally reached the end of its 100 piece run. The last eight pieces will be turned into the HM4 Final Edition "Stealth Fighter".

Featuring the same titanium case as the original HM4, the Final Edition has the addition of a black PVD coating, hence the "Stealth Fighter" nickname.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Hands-On With The Franck Muller Cintree Curvex Vintage 7 Days Power Reserve (With Live Photos, Price)

In January, concurrent with the recently concluded SIHH 2013, the Franck Muller Watchland Group held its own exhibition, World Presentation of Haute Horlogerie (WPHH), in a suburb of Geneva. At the show Franck Muller presented the Cintree Curvex Vintage 7-Days Power Reserve, one of the hidden gems of the January exhibition season.

Franck Muller FM 1700 inside the Cintree Curvex Vintage 7 Days Power Reserve

Inside the Cintree Curvex case is the cal. FM 1700, a 31 mm wide movement with seven days power reserve and twin barrels. 

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Hands-on with the Richard Mille RM027-01 Rafael Nadal, the lightest watch in the world (with live photos and price)

At SIHH 2013, Richard Mille unveiled the latest lightest watch ever, the RM027-01 Rafael Nadal. This weighs 19 g, including the Velcro strap. In comparison, the earlier RM027 weighed in at 13 g without strap, and just over 20 g with the rubber strap. Both are light enough that Rafael Nadal wears them on his right, non-playing wrist during matches. 

The RM027-01 is the new undisputed champion in the segment of the featherweight luxury watch which Richard Mille pioneered.

Crowdsourcing a watch - The Nautilus from Czech forum Chronomag

It is not uncommon for watch forum communities to band together and create limited edition watches. Such editions are often ordinary; it is unusual to get something unique at a reasonable price. Two years ago, members of the Czech watch forum Chronomag embarked on a project to create a small run of wristwatches for forum members, with many of the eventual components of the watch being locally sourced as well. The result was the Nautilus, which proves a little bit of imagination can go a long way, even for something designed by committee.

Chronomag Nautilus equipped with the Unitas 6498

Housed in a 42 mm sandblasted steel case - made by a friend of one of the project's leaders - with a Unitas 6498 inside, the Nautilus is named after the Nautilus submarine of Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Saturday, 23 February 2013

News: Habring² Doppel 3 split seconds chronograph

Last year Habring² presented the Doppel 2.0, which was based on the simplified split seconds chronograph built on a Valjoux 7750 base that Richard Habring developed at IWC. It was a success - the limited edition of 20 pieces sold out quickly and the Doppel 2.0 also won the Sports Watch Award at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2012. So it is no surprise that Habring² has just announced the Doppel 3.

The biggest upgrade is that the Doppel 3 is now a monopusher chronograph - the button at two o'clock controls the start, stop and reset while the button at ten o'clock is for the split seconds hand.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Photo essay: Corum Chargé d'Affaires alarm

Last year at Baselworld Corum presented the Chargé d'Affaires alarm watch, a limited edition using a new old stock AS 1475 (Anton Schild) manual wind alarm calibre.

Corum Chargé d'Affaires in white gold

A faithful replica of the 1956 original save for its modern 38 mm size case, the Chargé d'Affaires is part of Corum's Heritage collection, which comprises remakes of vintage timepieces. The brand's better known timepiece is of course the Golden Bridge, originally designed by Vincent Calabrese, who recently joined Corum.

Baselworld 2013: Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon 4

Harry Winston, which was just acquired by the Swatch Group, will unveil the Histoire de Tourbillon 4 at Baselworld 2013 in April. The Histoire de Tourbillon 4 is a triple axis tourbillon - the balance wheel inside three concentric cages, each rotating at a different speed. 

The goal of all that is to average out the errors caused by gravity in all positions, not unlike what the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon does, albeit with two instead of three tourbillon cages (note the visual similarities in the tourbillon cage).

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Hands-on with the De Bethune DB28 Skybridge (live pics and price)

Unveiled for the first time last month, the De Bethune DB28 Skybridge is the most spectacular looking watch from the brand. Similar to the unique piece made for Only Watch 2011, the DB28  Skybridge is a variant of the DB28 with spring-loaded lugs and mechanically it is identical to the earlier iterations of the DB28. 

It displays the hours, minutes and also has De Bethune's patented spherical moon display.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Hands-on with the Romain Jerome Spacecraft (with live photos and price)

A few weeks ago Romain Jerome unveiled a teaser showing its CEO Manuel Emch, Jean-Marc Wiederrecht and Eric Giroud. I finally got to see the new watch, the Spacecraft, in January - and I loved it.

Coming from the company best known for its infamous and oft derided rusty Titanic DNA watches, this is a surprising product with respectable horological credentials. This is a retrograde, jumping hour with hours on the front and minutes on top, at a surprising price point.

News: Hublot Big Bang and Oceanographic Jeans with DSquared denim dial and strap

Hublot has just launched its line of Jeans watches in DSquared2 denim. Conceived by Tina Zegg of Monaco retailer Zegg & Cerlati, the Jeans line comprises three Big Bang Jeans models for ladies and the Oceanographic 4000 Jeans.

Big Bang Jeans

All of them have denim dials coated in epoxy and rubber straps covered in denim from DSquared2. This idea is not entirely original, some aftermarket strap makers specialising in Panerai style straps have been offering straps in leather resembling denim for several years now.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

News: Breguet Tourbillon exhibition in Singapore

From 25 February to 1 March 2013, an exhibition covering Breguet's contemporary tourbillon wristwatches will take place at the Sincere Watch retail store in Ngee Ann City. 19 Breguet tourbillon watches will be on show, ranging from the diamond-set Marine Tourbillon to the La Tradition tourbillon with chain and fusee. The exhibition is open to the public.


Breguet La Tradition Tourbillon in rose gold

Baselworld 2013: Chanel J12 Matte Black Superleggera and J12 White Phantom 10th Anniversary

Last year Chanel made available for the first time its black ceramic J12 in a matte finish. At Baselworld 2013 it will present the J12 Superleggera Chronograph in matte black.

Chanel J12 Matte Black Superleggera Chronograph

Inside the 42 mm ceramic case is a COSC certified ETA 2892 with chronograph module.

I've always liked the J12 Superleggera Chronograph, though it more about fashion and less about horology, and in matte ceramic it looks even better.

Baselworld 2013: Chanel Mademoiselle Prive with Anita Porchet enamel dial

At Baselworld 2013 Chanel will unveil the Mademoiselle Privé with Coromandel Decoration. 

Made by noted enameller Anita Porchet, the dial is Grand Feu enamel on a solid 18k gold disc, depicting a motif inspired by Coromandel lacquer screens. 

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Hands-on with the Zenith Captain Winsor Annual Calendar Boutique Edition (with live pics and price)

The Zenith Captain Winsor Annual Calendar is one of the best value propositions today. It features an annual calendar module, using the simplified mechanism Ludwig Oeschlin designed for the MIH watch, on top of the El Primero calibre. All of that in a watch that retails for about US$8000 in steel.

Previously the Winsor Annual Calendar was available only with the guilloche dial and baton markers that are typical of the Zenith Captain line. A few weeks ago Zenith announced the new boutique edition of the Winsor, which has a new dial with railway track minute index and applied Arabic numbers.

News: Richemont results and new Bulgari CEO

LVMH recently announced that TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Christophe Babin will take the reins of its largest watch and jewellery brand, Bulgari, before June 30. He replaces Michael Burke, who moves on to lead Louis Vuitton, after its CEO quit a month into the job for health reasons. 

No successor has yet been named for Babin, who joined TAG Heuer in 2000 and moved the brand upmarket as well as vastly increased its vertical integration. LVMH, which also owns Hublot, bought Bulgari for a hefty EUR3.7 billion two years ago and Babin's likely goal is to raise the brand's profile to compete with Cartier.

Meanwhile over the Richemont, which owns Cartier, results for the third quarter ended 31 December 2012 were notable for several reasons.

Overall revenue inched up by 5% at constant exchange rates. Growth in Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan, was flat. On the other hand, the Americas grew at 13% and Europe at 9%. This confirms what many industry executives have been saying for some time, that Europe and the USA are picking up, while Asia is slowing rapidly, in part due to political shifts in China.

As expect, retail sales (through own boutiques) outpaced wholesale (via distributers and retailers) at 9% against 2%.

Lastly, the group's watch brands grew at 9% while Montblanc revenue was flat.


News: Vacheron Constantin 1972 Prestige

Vacheron Constantin recently announced the return of its asymmetrical 1972 Prestige to coincide with the opening of its boutique at 2 Rue de la Paix in Paris. Essentially a remake of the Prestige de la France, created to mark the occasion of VC receiving the eponymous award from the Comité de France in 1972.

Vacheron Constantin 1972 Prestige

The new 1972 is naturally larger than the original; its white gold case measures 25 mm by 47 mm. And the dial is a pale grey with a herringbone pattern, paired with rose gold hands. 

I had the chance to see this in person at SIHH last year and it is a gorgeous timepiece, a formal dress watch with a twist. The herringbone motif on the dial is an especially beautiful detail.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Hands-on with the Lange 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar, and explaining its movement construction (live photos and pricing)

Unveiled at SIHH 2013, the Lange 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar is the first wristwatch from Lange combining the split-seconds and perpetual calendar complications. 

Lange 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar
The watch is study in contrasts. It has a symmetrical, conservatively styled dial with four sub-dials, giving it a pocket watch aesthetic, but the movement is unusual in layout and construction. 

Friday, 15 February 2013

News: Lange "State of the Art Tradition" Exhibition in Singapore 2 - 5 March

To mark the official opening of its first boutique in Singapore, Lange will stage the "State of the Art Tradition" Exhibition. From 2 to 5 March 2013, the exhibition at ION Art on level four of ION Orchard will explain Lange's brand of fine watchmaking, and includes live demonstrations of watch assembly, engraving and finishing by staff from Lange in Glashütte.

In addition there will be guided tours and workshops. The schedule of activities is as follows:

At the same time, the Lange collection just unveiled at SIHH 2013 will be on show at the Lange boutique on level two of ION Orchard, as part of the SIHH 2013 world tour.


Exploring The Clocks Of Miki Eleta In The MB&F MAD Gallery

Miki Eleta is one of the few members of the AHCI who is a clock-, rather than watch-maker. He specialises in highly complex clocks though up till 2001, Eleta only created kinetic sculptures, until challenged by a client to create a clock. 

Miki Eleta

Largely self taught, though he consulted Paul Gerber early in his clockmaking career, Eleta created his first clock within a year, and since then has made 28 unique clocks entirely in his own workshop. He even invented his own pendulum escapement.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

SIHH 2013: Van Cleef & Arpels (with live photos)

This year Van Cleef & Arpels continues with its speciality of jewelled ladies’ watches, mostly in an Art Nouveau style. Unlike previous years, however, VC&A did not have a major new Poetic Complication (the brand’s range of ladies’ complicated watches) to present. Last year for example VC&A unveiled the impressive pair of Poetic Wish Five Minute Repeaters.

Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantée Poetic Complication

Reminiscent of the Poetic Complication Féérie which inaugurated the Poetic Complications line six years ago, the new Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantée is similar to the double retrograde watches of previous years, but it differs in two key respects.

SIHH 2013: Piaget (with live photos)

In 2013 Piaget continues to emphasise its in-house, ultra-thin movements. Personally I find an ultra-thin movement in itself not exceptionally fascinating, unless combined with complications or a high level of finishing, as Piaget does.

Piaget Altiplano Date Ultra-Thin 40 mm

Building on the successful ultra-thin Altiplanos of previous years, the new Altiplano Date Ultra-Thin differs from the previous models in that it has a smaller, 40 mm case as well as a date display. 

News: Chopard L.U.C XPS Poinçon de Genève in platinum

For the opening of its new boutique in Geneva Chopard has created a 25 piece, platinum limited edition LUC XPS with a brilliant, metallic blue dial. Like the earlier limited edition in rose gold, this watch has the Poinçon de Genève (Geneva Seal) as well as COSC certification. Inside is the calibre LUC 96.01-L, which is a variant of the cal. 1.96 which launched the LUC line.  

The LUC XPS Poinçon de Genève has a 39.5 mm case that is just 7.13 mm high. The case back is platinum with a hand engraved Geneva Seal logo.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

News: Lange SIHH 2013 collection world tour

The 2013 collection Lange just presented at SIHH, which includes the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar and also the Grand Lange 1 Lumen, will very soon embark on a world tour at various Lange boutiques around the world, starting with Singapore and Palm Beach on 25 February. The schedule is as follows:

Singapore (25 February to 5 March)
Palm Beach (25 February to 8 March)
Seoul (11 to 17 March)
Shanghai (25 to 31 March)
Tokyo (6 to 14 April)
Dubai (22 to 29 April)
Abu Dhabi (1 to 10 May)
Paris (18 to 26 May)
Dresden (2 to 9 June)
Hong Kong (17 to 23 June)

For those who can't attend the exhibition, or who want a taste of what will be on show, check out my SIHH 2013 photo report.


Lange 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar

Monday, 11 February 2013

SIHH 2013: Parmigiani (with live photos)

Parmigiani had a small collection to present this year, with no major new movements, but with several beautiful unique minute repeaters which demonstrate Parmigiani’s exemplary standard of finishing in its haute horlogerie models. My favourite is the Kalpa Resonance repeater with an enamelled owl on the back.

Parmigiani Kalpa Resonance Minute Repeater piece unique

This has a 42 mm platinum case and an exquisite guilloche dial with a wavy, moiré pattern. The heft of the platinum case means the repeater sounds a bit muted, however, though the sound is pleasant.

Friday, 8 February 2013

SIHH 2013: Roger Dubuis (with live photos)

Since its acquisition by Richemont, Roger Dubuis made dramatic progress in product and production. Design, finishing and quality control have improved. That is obvious with the 2013 collection, for it is the first year that the brand has presented major and novel calibre since the Richemont takeover.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Quatuor

One of RD’s best selling products is the double tourbillon so the cal. RD101 of the Excalibur Quatuor treads the same path. While I am not a fan of the more-is-better school of watch construction, this is interesting and fresh. It has four balance wheels, linked in pairs, and five differentials. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

SIHH 2013: Montblanc (with live photos)

With its high-end Villeret 1858 line Montblanc moderated some of its ambitions of previous years. The new additions to the Villeret 1858 collection were characterised by cosmetic improvements, rather than major technical changes. Though the Villeret 1858 are still not widely appreciated, they are certainly some of the best finished timepieces from a big manufacturer available today.

One of the watches to received a facelift is the ExoTourbillon Chronographe, which has an unusual tourbillon construction with the tourbillon carriage placed below the balance wheel. This is available in rose or white gold, each limited to eight pieces.

Montblanc Collection Villeret 1858 ExoTourbillon Chronographe
with mother of pearl dial

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

SIHH 2013: Cartier (with live photos)

Cartier had a strong year in 2013. Amongst the SIHH exhibitors, it was amongst the best in terms of breadth, complications and ideas. For me the notable watches are the pair of mystery watches in the Fine Watchmaking line, the Crash on bracelet, and the little publicised small complications in Santos-Dumont and Tortue cases. I will cover a few highlights from the 2013 collection here. Additional detail on these watches, as well as the rest of the 2013 collection, can be seen on the Cartier forum I moderate.

Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Double Tourbillon

Inspired by the iconic Cartier mystery clocks of the early 20th century are the two Rotonde de Cartier mystery watches. Both work on the same principle of a sapphire disc with a toothed rim that is driven by gears hidden under the dial, just like the original mystery clocks.

SIHH 2013: Richard Mille (with live photos)

Richard Mille presented a headline grabbing collection of watches, each designed for a particular celebrity friend. 

Richard Mille RM027-01 Rafael Nadal

The biggest headline definitely belonged to the smallest watch - Richard Mille topped his previous record of lightest wristwatch with the new RM027-01 Rafael Nadal, which weighs just 19 g, inclusive of the velcro strap - the earlier RM027 weight 13 g without a strap. The case of this 50 piece limited edition is a polymer with carbon nanotubes.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Introducing the Döttling Fortress watch safe - contents insurable up to $1 million

Döttling, the maker of lavish and sometimes over the top watch boxes and winders, has just announced The Fortress, a half tonne safe. According to Döttling, it is certified for up to US$1 million in insurance coverage if an optional burglar alarm is installed.

For the wealthy and paranoid watch collector

Inside the lower half of the Fortress sits eight watch winders, each individually programmable for direction, speed and duration. 

SIHH 2013: Panerai (with live photos)

Panerai's collection at SIHH 2013 can be easily summarised into three main themes: Submersibles, Radiomir 1940 and the new P.9100 chronograph calibre.

The Submersible has been in the Panerai line-up since it was revived by Richemont in 1998, but it has never quite been as popular as its Luminor cousins. This year sees the addition of three new limited edition Submersible models, including a new Bronzo.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Power Reserve Automatic Bronzo PAM507

Launched in 2011, the first PAM382 Bronzo was a big hit, so it is not surprising that Panerai has used the same bronze case once again. 

Friday, 1 February 2013

Introducing The F.P. Journe Quantième Perpétuel (With Specs And Price)

FP Journe rarely announces new models, and just a few months after the premiere of the Chronomètre Optimum equipped with a constant force mechanism, Journe unveiled the Quantième Perpétuel (or perpetual calendar).

FP Journe Quantième Perpétuel in platinum

This is his second perpetual calendar timepiece, the first was a limited edition that was visually similar to the Octa Calendrier. Thus the new Quantième Perpétuel replaces the now discontinued Octa Calendrier in the collection.

SIHH 2013: A. Lange & Söhne (with live photos)

Lange was one of the most talked about brands at SIHH 2013, because it unveiled the most complicated and expensive watch of the fair. The Lange Grand Complication is a grande sonnerie, rattrapante chronograph with foudroyante seconds, and perpetual calendar. With a 50 mm case and a price tag of over EUR1.9 million, the Grand Complication is an immense watch in all senses.

Though I have no pictures of it, the watch does exist and it does work. It was shown, and I heard it chime nicely, but no one was allowed to touch or photograph the watch. Only six will be made, one a year starting in 2014. And all are apparently sold.

Lange 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar

2013 is the year of the 1815, with several new additions to the line, including, all of which are styled like vintage pocket watches (including the Grand Complication, which is the same size as a pocket watch).