Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Year In Review 2013: Our 10 most read stories of the past year

2013 was our best year ever in terms of readership, and dare we say, content. We encountered some fantastic timepieces in 2013, and also profiled some unbelievable collections.

Here's our top 10 most read stories of 2013.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Introducing the IWC Collectors’ Forum Pilots Chronograph CF3 (with specs and price)

IWC has just announced the third limited edition for its on-line Collectors' Forum, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Collectors’ Watch”, or the CF3. Based on the Spitfire chronograph, the CF3 has improvements which should appeal to traditionalists, like a soft iron cage to protect against magnetism.

Created for the members of the IWC Collectors' Forum (though it can be ordered by the public), the IWC Collectors’ Forum CF3 is based on the Spitfire Pilot's Chronograph, with the addition of some three tweaks.

Most notably, the three date aperture has been scrapped in favour of the conventional single date window. Second, the 43 mm steel case has a solid back and a soft iron inner cage for protection against magnetism, something absent in the Spitfire.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Hands-on with the Jean Daniel Nicolas Two-Minute Tourbillon, a masterpiece hand-made by Daniel Roth (with live photos and pricing)

Jean Daniel Nicolas is the brand of Mr Daniel Roth, one of the most prominent independent watchmakers of his generation. His one, and only, timepiece is a two-minute tourbillon, a hand-made and hand-finished masterpiece.

Daniel Roth played a key role in the revival of Breguet and its movement supplier Lemania starting in the seventies, before starting his eponymous brand in 1988. With that he became one of the first watchmakers to go down that path, paving the way for subsequent generations of independents like F. P. Journe. 

Though he was a pioneer, Roth has not enjoyed the commercial success his peers and successors have. Now in his early sixties, Roth separated from his namesake brand when Bulgari bought it in 2000, whereupon he embarked on his second career act as an independent watchmaker, creating the Jean Daniel Nicolas Two-Minute Tourbillon.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

SIHH 2014: Explaining the Rotonde de Cartier Earth and Moon, a tourbillon with an innovative, on-demand moon phase (with live photos and pricing)

The Rotonde de Cartier Earth and Moon is a tourbillon and moon phase, except that the tourbillon and moon phase are one and the same. Created in collaboration with Renaud & Papi, the Earth and Moon features an on-demand moon phase, called up with a pusher on the case.

Whereas most new moon phase mechanisms are improvements in the accuracy of the moon phase, typically achieved by using gears with more teeth, Carole Forestier's goal in developing this calibre was to offer an alternative to the traditional moon phase display. 

Forestier, Cartier's head of technical development, has a knack for creatively re-imagining conventional complications, with the new Astrocalendar being one example. In the Rotonde de Cartier Earth and Moon, the moon phase display is hidden, until called upon by means of a pusher at four o'clock.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Introducing the Chopard L.U.C 1963 anniversary chronometer, fitted with a new, pocket watch inspired calibre (with specs and price)

Created to mark the 50th anniversary of the Scheufele family's ownership of Chopard, the L.U.C. 1963 is a limited edition, chronometer wristwatch fitted with a newly developed, traditionally styled movement, the LUC Calibre 63.01-L.

Both Geneva Seal and COSC certified, the Chopard LUC 1963 is a wristwatch chronometer with a pocket watch movement. The movement inside the LUC 1963 is inspired by the large, manual wind movement created by Chopard in partnership with the Ecole d’Horlogerie de Genève (Geneva Watchmaking School) three years ago.

Tiffany Ordered To Pay Swatch Group US$449 Million For Failed Joint Venture

A Dutch arbitration panel has just awarded the Swatch Group 402 million francs (US$449 million) in its dispute with Tiffany & Co., stemming from the dissolution of their watchmaking joint venture. That amount is larger than Tiffany's most recent annual earnings. 

The Swatch Group inked an agreement with Tiffany & Co. in 2007 to manufacture and sell Tiffany branded timepieces, but the joint venture broke down in 2011 with Swatch alleging its American partner was blocking the development of the business. 

An arbitration panel in the Netherlands awarded Swatch 402 million francs plus legal fees and other expenses. The panel also dismissed Tiffany's counter-claim, according to the Swatch Group

The award is a significant figure compared to the 4.18 billion francs in revenue the Swatch Group posted for the six months to July 2013. For the same period its net income was 768 million francs.

More significantly, the sum exceeds Tiffany's annual profit, which for the nine months to October 31 was US$285 million, with revenue of US$2.7 billion.

Earlier this year Swatch acquired Harry Winston for US$1 billion including debt, adding the luxury jeweller to its stable of brands and filling the gap left by the split with Tiffany. The arbitration award is equivalent to about 45% of the acquisition cost.


Sunday, 22 December 2013

SIHH 2014: Explaining the Cartier Astrocalendaire and its innovative 'amphitheatre' perpetual calendar (with live photos and price)

Soon to be launched officially at SIHH 2014, the Rotonde de Cartier Astrocalendar is a perpetual calendar with tourbillon that introduces a novel 'amphitheatre' display for the calendar, as well as an entirely gear-based perpetual calendar mechanism that is far more robust than conventional set-ups.

The Cartier Astrocalendaire was conceived by the talented Carole Forestier, Cartier's head of development, and sticks closely to the philosophy established for the brand's Fine Watchmaking line. It re-imagines an existing complication, in this case the perpetual calendar, making it different (hence the new calendar display), but also improving it (the gear-based perpetual mechanism).

Friday, 20 December 2013

PROFILE: Meet Prasart Vidhayapat, the man with 1000 watches

Prasart Vidhayapat has been collecting watches, and many other things, for 30 years. He now has about 1000 watches, and more than 1000 clocks. Most of these are on show in his office, which doubles as a watch gallery. We visited him and his treasure trove, and this is what we found.

His business card reads "The owner of private watch gallery" in addition to his corporate title. Prasart Vidhayapat, an entrepreneur who founded and runs a stationery supplier, works in an office surrounded - literally surrounded, wall to wall - by watches and clocks. In his 30 years of collecting Mr Vidhayapat has accumulated about 1000 watches, and well over 1000 clocks. 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Pre-SIHH 2014: Introducing the Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931 chocolate (with specs and pricing)

At SIHH 2014, Jaeger-LeCoultre will present the latest version of the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931, this time with a chocolate dial and pink gold case, fitted on a cordovan strap made by polo equipment maker Casa Fagliano.

The Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931 has been a great success for Jaeger-LeCoultre. The case form has been adapted to multiple models, from the red dial Reverso Rouge to the Ultra Thin Skeleton, and more recently the Duoface. The latest model to join the family is the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931 chocolate, fitted with a chocolate dial and faux aged Luminova to give it a vintage-ish look.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

REPORT: A get-together with some independent stars, including the Jean Daniel Nicolas tourbillon

Not too long ago several collectors gathered over lunch in Singapore along with a visitor from Japan, and these are the watches that turned out.

Though it was not pre-arranged, most of the attendees turned up with watches from independent watchmakers, including a special Voutilainen Vingt-8 and the Dufour Simplicity. There were many special watches in attendance, but the star was without a doubt the Jean Daniel Nicolas Two-Minute Tourbillon.

Monday, 16 December 2013

The landmark Swatch Sistem51 is finally available, but only in Switzerland for now

The landmark Swatch Sistem51, the first ever mechanical watch assembled entirely by machine, is finally available, but only in Swatch stores in Switzerland until next year.

Launched at Baselworld in March 2013, the Swatch Sistem51 is undoubtedly one of the most significant watches of the year. Not because of the watch itself, which is yet another plastic Swatch, but because the Sistem51 is a vastly simplified mechanical movement made entirely by machine.

Hands-on with the Breva Genie 01, the first mechanical altimeter and barometer watch, and a weather station on the wrist (with live photos and price)

Breva made its debut at Baselworld 2013 with the Génie 01, the first mechanical wristwatch featuring an altimeter and barometer. It measures atmospheric pressure, allowing it to provide a forecast of sorts for the weather. 

Conceived by Breva founder Vincent Dupontreué, who founded and then sold his eponymously named clothing brand, the Génie 01 is less a watch than it is an ultra-luxe gadget. With a movement devised by Chronode's Jean-François Mojon, the Genie 01 has a built-in altimeter and barometer, both of which are entirely mechanical.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Pre-SIHH 2014: Introducing the Calibre de Cartier Diver, the first true dive watch from Cartier (with live photos and pricing)

Cartier has just unveiled its first true dive watch, the Calibre de Cartier Diver. Equipped with the 1904 MC movement, the Calibre de Cartier Diver is water resistant to 300 m, and was designed according to the ISO 6425 standard for scuba diving watches.

While Cartier has made sport watches before, the Calibre de Cartier is its first true dive watch. It was designed to conform to ISO 6425, a standard for dive watches. ISO 6425 is price- and brand-agnostic, and includes water, shock and temperature resistance. Meeting these requirements means the watch can be considered a diver's watch suitable for scuba diving.

Based on the Calibre de Cartier, the diver's version of this model uses the same basic case form, making it similar to last year's Calibre de Cartier Chronograph. The dive version, however, is distinguished by its unidirectional bezel, one of the key criteria of the ISO 6425 standard (which refers to it as a "time-preselecting device"). 

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Introducing the Devon Tread 1G, in yellow gold and black DLC (with specs and price)

Devon Works has just unveiled the luxe version of the its belt display wristwatch, the Tread 1G. With a case in black DLC coated steel and yellow gold, the Tread 1G is made to order.

Devon Works made a splash with its original Tread 1, an electronic wristwatch with a mechanical belt time display. Since it has unveiled more elaborate versions of the Tread 1, including the rivet-covered Steampunk and the Exoskeleton in clear polycarbonate. But the new yellow gold Tread 1G is the most extravagant version to date.

Introducing the Chopard L.U.C. XP Urushi Year of the Horse Special Edition (with specs and price)

Chopard has created a special edition L.U.C. XP timepiece for the Chinese Year of the Horse in 2014, with a dial decorated in Japanese lacquer, or maki-e.

The Chopard L.U.C. XP Urushi Year of the Horse is an ultra-thin timepiece with a lavishly decorated dial. Though Chopard calls this urushi, it is actually maki-e (Japanese for "sprinkled picture"), a highly developed technique of decorative lacquer.

Friday, 13 December 2013

The Panerai Jupiterium, an ultra-complicated planetarium-clock, arrives in Singapore for a public exhibition

Built to display the position of the Earth and other heavenly bodies, the Panerai Jupiterium has just hit Singapore's shores and will be on display at its boutique until February 2014.

First unveiled in 2009, the Panerai Jupiterium has since embarked on a world tour, with its most recent stop being Singapore. From now until 14 February 2014, the Jupiterium will be on display at Panerai's boutique in Singapore.

Introducing the Romain Jerome Skylab, the first RJ skeleton watch (with specs and price)

The first skeleton wristwatch from Romain Jerome, the open-worked bridges of the Skylab are inspired by the lines of NASA's first space station, which went into orbit 40 years ago.

Equipped with a open-worked movement from Concepto, the Romain Jerome Skylab is not just the brand's first skeleton timepiece, it is also the slimmest wristwatch in the Romain Jerome line-up.

Pre-SIHH 2014: A first look at three new Cartier Fine Watchmaking timepieces (with live photos, specs and pricing)

Cartier will present a diverse Fine Watchmaking line-up at SIHH 2014 next month, with three watches previewed here. Two of them creatively re-imagine the traditional complications of the perpetual calendar and moon phase.

The covers have been taken off three timepieces soon to be launched at SIHH 2014. At the very top end is the Rotonde de Cartier Earth and Moon, an ingenious on-demand moon phase and tourbillon with a movement by Renaud & Papi. Equally innovative is the Rotonde de Cartier Astrocalendaire which has a novel concentric perpetual calendar. And the third timepiece is the Tank MC Two-Tone Skeleton.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

SIHH 2014: Explaining the new Piaget Altiplano 38 mm 900P, now the thinnest mechanical watch in the world (with specs and pricing)

Piaget has just reclaimed the crown of the thinnest mechanical wristwatch in the world with the new Altiplano 38 mm 900P, recently unveiled as a preview of the SIHH 2014 line-up. It stands just 3.65 mm high in its entirety, thanks to a novel movement construction inspired by none other than a quartz watch.

Deliriously thin

Having carved out a niche for itself in ultra-thin timepieces, Piaget has been relentless shaving off the millimetres from its timepieces. It now  counts 23 ultra-thin calibres in its stable of 35 in-house movements, amongst them a slim, automatic minute repeater.

At SIHH 2013 Piaget briefly lost the crown for the thinnest mechanical wristwatch to Jaeger-LeCoultre when the latter unveiled its 4.05 mm thick Master Ultra Thin Jubilee. But with the Altiplano 38 mm 900P Piaget has retaken the title. The new Altiplano is just 3.65 mm high, so thin it is easily mistaken for a quartz watch.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Explaining The Girard-Perregaux Constant Escapement, A True Constant Impulse Escapement (With Photos And Price)

Winner of the Aiguille d’Or at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2013, after coming to fruition after several years in development, the Girard-Perregaux Constant Escapement is one of the few true constant force escapement timepieces on the market today.

The Girard-Perregaux Constant Escapement picked up the top prize at this year's Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, even though it was first announced several years ago. Equipped with an actual constant force escapement, the watch is complex, but works on a simple principle. Intriguingly, the concept was developed by engineer Nicolas Dehon while he was at Rolex, which decided not to pursue it. Then Dehon joined Girard-Perregaux and revived the idea, culminating in the Constant Escapement wristwatch.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Hands-on with the De Bethune Imperial Fountain Chinese Zodiac Dragon (with live photos and price)

Inspired by the storied animals heads of the water clock fountain of the Old Summer Palace in Beijing, the De Bethune DB25 Imperial Fountain is a set of 12 timepieces, each depicting one animal of the Zodiac.

Each watch of the De Bethune DB25 Imperial Fountain Chinese Zodiac set features a hand-engraved replica of one of the 12 animal heads found on the water clock at the Old Summer Palace in Beijing. Believed to have been designed by Giuseppe Castiglione, the Jesuit missionary turned painter to the Chinese court, the animal heads are symbolic of China's efforts to retrieve its cultural artefacts now residing overseas. 

The Old Summer Palace, or 圆明园 (Yuan Ming Yuan), was an expansive palace complex used by the Qing Emperors until its destruction during the Second Opium War. One of its most famous features was a water clock with 12 bronze animal heads, each representing one animal of the Chinese zodiac.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Pre-SIHH 2014: Ballon Bleu de Cartier Floral Marquetry Parrot watch, with a dial made of flower petals

Cartier's latest Metier d'Art creation is the Ballon Bleu de Cartier Floral Marquetry Parrot watch, with a dial depicting a parrot - formed with tiny flower petals.

For the first time Cartier is using the art of floral marquetry on a watch dial. The Ballon Bleu de Cartier Floral Marquetry Parrot watch features a brilliantly coloured dial decorated with a parrot. Each of the green, yellow and blue feathers are actually made from carefully cut flower petals.

Friday, 6 December 2013

VIDEO: HYT's hydro-mechanical technology explained

HYT created the first hydro-mechanical time display, displaying the time with fluids inside a glass tube, powered by an entirely mechanical movement.

Close-up of the HYT H2

HYT made its debut with the H1 last year, becoming the first watchmaker to indicate the time with a liquid, driven by a pair of bellows inside the movement. It then followed up with the much more impressive (and more expensive), H2 at Baselworld this year, which works on the same principle.

Introducing the Breitling Super Avenger Military, another big, bad and black chronograph from Breitling (with specs and pricing)

Breitling's latest timepiece is the Super Avenger Military limited edition, a large chronograph with a 24 hour time display, a DLC coated case and a chronometer certified movement.

One thing Breitling does rather well is large, aggressive looking chronographs. Its successful series of Blacksteel limited editions are a testament to this. The new Super Avenger Military is another example of this formula. 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Up Close With The Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari, An Engined-Shaped, 50-Day Power Reserve Monster (With Original Photos And Price)

Inspired by the hybrid LaFerrari supercar, the Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari is a superwatch. It has a transverse movement shaped like a car engine, with a vertical tourbillon at one end, and a record-breaking 50 day power reserve.

Hublot has been rapidly growing its line-up of Ferrari timepieces since inking its agreement with the Italian carmaker two years ago. Most of the Ferrari timepieces are ordinary, Big Bang-based watches. The MP-05 LaFerrari is radically different. The Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari is exotic as the cars it is inspired by.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Hands-on with the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-Day Tourbillon Collection Excellence Platine (with live photos and pricing)

Launched just earlier this year, the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-Day Tourbillon Collection Excellence Platine is a limited edition fitted with a platinum case and dial, and equipped with the stunning cal. 2260 movement.

Mechnically identical to the regular Patrimony Traditionelle 14-Day Tourbillon, the Collection Excellence Platine is a limited edition distinguished by the generous use of platinum. 

Like the other Collection Excellence Platine editions, the Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-Day Tourbillon Collection Excellence Platine has a platinum case, dial, buckle - even the thread used for the strap is platinum wire. And inside the case is the beautifully constructed cal. 2260 tourbillon movement with a two week power reserve. 

Pre-SIHH 2014: Introducing the Parmigiani Pomellato Tonda, a collaboration with the Italian jeweller (with specs and price)

Parmigiani has just announced its collaboration with Milanese jeweller Pomellato, along with the Tonda Pomellato collection, inspired by the baubles of the Italian firm.

Known of its use of colour stones and rose gold, Milanese jeweller and Parmigiani have created a line of timepeices based on the slim Parmigiani Tonda dress watch. 

Available only in rose gold, the Tonda Pomellato retains the 39 mm Tonda case and PF701 micro-rotor automatic movement, but the dial and hands have been redesigned and given more feminine lines.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Exclusive: Introducing the Stowa Flieger Singapore Edition 2014, the Lady Chin Swee (with specs and price)

Stowa, working with retailer Red Army Watches, has just unveiled the Lady Chin Swee Flieger. Made specially for Singapore, the Lady Chin Swee has a case back motif embodying diverse themes from Singapore's history.

The Flieger Lady Chin Swee is the first Singapore edition made by Stowa, a small German maker well liked for its affordable military timepieces like its minimalist Flieger Chronograph. Created in partnership with Red Army Watches, which specialises in accessible and quirky timepieces, the Lady Chin Swee is based on the hand-wound Stowa Flieger with a uniquely Singaporean motif on the case back.

Explaining the corporate turbulence at Laurent Ferrier

Laurent Ferrier, the recently founded but highly regarded independent watchmaker, lost its CEO not too long ago. A recent story in the New York Times explains why.

The Laurent Ferrier Galet Micro-Rotor

The Swiss watch industry almost always manages to retain its serene façade, regardless of the troubles bubbling away underneath. That veil has been recently and briefly lifted as the New York Times has just published a story detailing the turmoil at Laurent Ferrier, written by Nazanin Lankarani.

It details the fall-out which led to the CEO and minority shareholder, Olivier Müller, losing his job in August. The story gives side their due airtime, which essentially pits Müller against François Servanin, the founding and controlling shareholder. Ironically each party appears to be accusing the other of much the same thing - overly ambitious growth beyond the capabilities of the company.

Laurent Ferrier is not the only successful independent watchmaker to experience a shareholder battle, Franck Muller and Roger Dubuis are two notable past examples.


Introducing two new dials for the Patek Philippe ref. 5270G

Patek Philippe has just updated its website to include two new dials for the ref. 5270G perpetual calendar chronograph in white gold, including one in metallic blue.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5270G-014

Without fanfare Patek Philippe has introduced two new dials for the ref. 5270G perpetual calendar chronograph. One has a blue sunburst dial (the ref. 5270G-014) and the other has a silvery opaline finish (ref. 5270G-013)

These two new models come not long after the limited edition ref. 5270G-015 unveiled at Patek Philippe's KunstWerkUhr exhibition (or "Watch Art Grand Exhibition") in Munich.

Hands-On With The Baume & Mercier Clifton 10057 Triple Calendar-Moon Phase (With Photos And Pricing)

Launched at SIHH 2013, the Baume & Mercier Clifton 10057 triple calendar with moon phase is inspired by the complete calendar watches of the thirties and forties, right down to the traditional layout of the dial.

Baume & Mercier has leaned heavily on early to mid twentieth century wristwatches as it revamps its various watch lines. This is obvious in the Capeland chronographs, and likewise for the Clifton.

The flagship of the Clifton collection, the Clifton 10057 is a traditional full calendar watch, indicating the day, date, month and moon phase. Though the 43 mm diameter is a distinctly modern size, the layout and styling of the watch is clearly vintage-inspired.