Friday, 31 January 2014

Hands-on with the Patek Philippe ref. 5075G cloisonné enamel "Horse"

Each year Patek Philippe creates a limited edition quartet of Calatrava wristwatches with dials decorated with enamel, marquetry or crafts. To mark the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Horse, here's a close-up look at the Patek Philippe ref. 5075G cloisonné enamel "Horse".

Starting in 2000, Patek Philippe has created annual limited edition sets of four Calatrava watches with special dials, often in enamel. Made in 2002, this particular ref. 5075G with a cloisonné enamel dial was from an edition inspired by a nineteenth century Qing Dynastry cloisonné bowl. Only three sets of this edition were made.

Lacklustre sales at LVMH watch and jewellery

LVMH just posted its results for 2013, showing slow growth overall. Sales at its watch and jewellery division were flat, though profit was up.

The world's largest luxury group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton saw revenues rise 4% in 2013, a slowdown after years of double digit growth. Its best performing division, and the only one with double digit growth, was duty free retailer DFS, which saw sales rise 13%.

Watch and jewellery sales fell 2% on an actual basis, but rose 4% based on constant exchange rates, meaning sales were essentially flat. Nonetheless, profit at the watch and jewellery division, which mainly comprises Bulgari, TAG Heuer, Hublot and Zenith, was up 12% compared to the year before. These results come just a few days after a management shake-up at its watch and jewellery division

These figures provide some evidence that after years of strong growth, the slowdown in luxury watchmaking is upon the industry, as discussed in our editorial, "Are watches too expensive?".

More details on its 2013 financials are available from LVMH.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Announcing the opening of our store, with an exclusive range of hand-made watch straps straight from Italy

We're proud to announce the opening of our on-line store, with an exclusive selection of watch straps available. These are made by hand in Italy, with the nuance and style that only Italian craftsmanship can offer.

Made near Florence by a talented artisan, Jean-Paul Menicucci, the straps are wonderfully detailed, with a flair that is distinctly Italian. Each strap is cut, stitched and finished by hand.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Watch entrepreneur Raymond Weil, one of the great success stories of his era, passes away at 87

Raymond Weil, founder of the eponymous brand and one of watchmaking's most successful entrepeneurs, has passed away, after a lifetime in the watch business. He was 87.

Raymond Weil started his career in the industry in 1949, fresh out of university. He joined Camy and stayed there until the quartz crisis, when he left to found his own brand. Along with contemporaries like Jean-Claude Biver and Ernest Schneider whose rise began with the quartz crisis, Weil was a true watchmaking entrepeneur.

Established in 1976, Raymond Weil is one of the few firms established during that era that has not only survived, but prospered. The firm made its name producing entry-level timepieces with classical designs reminiscent of more expensive watches.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Pre-Basel 2014: Introducing the Romain Jerome 1969, with silicon and meteorite dials (with specs and price)

Romain Jerome has unveiled a quarter of timepieces with either silicon or meteorite dials. Named after the year of the Moon landing, the Romain Jerome 1969 also has a tiny bit of Moon dust mixed into its case back.

Continuing with the smaller and slimmer case first used on the Skylab skeleton, the Romain Jerome 1969 is all about its exotic dial materials. Three of the models have coloured silicon dials, while the last has a dial made of meteorite.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Pre-Basel 2014: Introducing the Hublot Spirit of the Big Bang, powered by the Zenith El Primero (with specs and price)

Hublot's new Spirit of the Big Bang is a tonneau shaped chronograph in the typical Hublot style, with lots of carbon fibre, kevlar and fusion, and  but what sets it apart is the 36,000 bph Zenith El Primero movement inside.

For the new Spirit of the Big Bang chronograph, Hublot has relied on its sister company in LVMH for the movement. The HUB 4700 movement inside is actually the Zenith El Primero, running at its trademark 36,000 bph, but with skeletonised components to keep it in line with the Hublot aesthetic. With this, every watch brand of LVMH now uses the El Primero in one form or another.

SIHH 2014: Introducing the Baume & Mercier Clifton Flying Tourbillon, an entry-level tourbillon with a lot of IWC inside (with specs and price)

Baume & Mercier has just unveiled the Clifton 1892 Flying Tourbillon, an entry-level tourbillon which paradoxically is the brand's top-of-the-line timepiece. Inside is a movement made by ValFleurier, but actually an IWC calibre.

A long time ago, in 1892 to be exact, Baume & Mercier won the timing trial at the Kew Observatory in London with a tourbillon pocket watch. Equipped with a movement from IWC, the new Clifton 1892 Flying Tourbillon attempts to evoke some of that past glory.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

SIHH 2014: Introducing the Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées, skeleton watches for the gentleman (with specs and pricing)

Skeleton watches for the gentleman, the Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées combine open-working and subtle grand feu enamel accents, together with Gothic inspired design elements.

Vacheron Constantin is going all out with skeleton watches at SIHH 2014, unveiling open-worked versions of several calibres, including the 14-day tourbillon. The Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées use the simple, time-only cal. 4400 SQ, which has been skeletonised to wonderful effect.

SIHH 2014: Introducing the Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph 100, capable of measuring 1/100th of a second (with specs and pricing)

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph 100 can measure up to 1/100th of a second, thanks to a second balance wheel running at 360,000 bph, presented in a titanium and carbon fibre case.

A nod to historical Minerva stopwatches, the Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph 100 has a Minerva developed calibre, the MB M66.25, which can measure up to 1/100th of a second. This is actually a tuned down, and much more affordable, version of the movement developed for the TimeWriter II Chronographe Bi-Fréquence 1000, which went up to 1/1000th of a second.

Pre-Basel 2014: Introducing the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Platinum, the world's first diamond setting in ceramic and sapphire (with specs and price)

Omega has notched up a notable technical achievement with the Seamaster Planet Ocean Platinum with diamond-set ceramic and sapphire. It features diamonds set in the ceramic bezel and sapphire case back, the first time in watchmaking diamonds have been set in such hard materials.

The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Platinum with diamond-set ceramic and sapphire is a platinum Planet Ocean GMT with some very unusual gem-setting. All around the black ceramic bezel insert are baguette diamonds markers for the odd numbers of the 24 hour scale. And at the top is a a round diamond set in the triangle marker at 12 o'clock. Never before in watchmaking have diamonds been set in ceramic.

Pre-Basel 2014: Introducing the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Orange Ceramic GMT in platinum, the world's first orange ceramic bezel (with specs and price)

Omega unveils the Seamaster Planet Ocean Orange Ceramic, a limited edition in platinum and a striking orange ceramic bezel insert, a world first.

For its first watch with an orange ceramic bezel, Omega has chosen to make an eight piece limited edition Planet Ocena GMT in platinum. Not only does the Seamaster Planet Ocean Orange Ceramic have a 950 platinum case, but the bezel and dial are also made from platinum. 

But what's unique about this watch is not the precious alloy, but the orange ceramic insert in the bezel, the first of its kind. Due to its nature, ceramic used in watchmaking is typically dull and dark in colour, and brightly coloured ceramics are only just beginning to appear in watches.

SIHH 2014: Introducing the new and improved Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 42 mm ref. 26470 (with specs and price)

Audemars Piguet has updated the 42 mm Royal Oak Offshore, keeping much of it the same but improving several details, including ceramic pushers and crown, and giving it the in-house cal. 3126 movement.

In its 21st year, the Royal Oak Offshore has received a major, though subtle, revamp. This keeps the Offshore 42 mm in tune with the rest of the Royal Oak collection, while maintaining its key characteristics. The new Offshore ref. 26470 series comprises six models, in either pink gold or steel. Importantly, the new Offshore replaces all current Royal Oak Offshore 42 mm models.

SIHH 2014: Introducing the Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Planétarium Poetic Complication, the solar system on your wrist (with specs and price)

With help from with Dutch independent watchmaker Christiaan van der Klaauw, Van Cleef & Arpels unveils the Midnight Planétarium Poetic Complication, which shows the real-time position of Earth and five planets around the sun, making it one of the rare few planetarium wristwatches.

Van Cleef & Arpels recruited Christiaan van der Klaauw, the Dutch watchmaker who specialises in astronomical complications and a long-time AHCI member, to create the new Midnight Planétarium Poetic Complication. A miniature of the solar system, the planetarum displays the position of six planets, the Earth, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, as they orbit the Sun at the centre of the dial. Each of the latter five planets are visible from the Earth on a clear night.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

SIHH 2014: Introducing the Van Cleef & Arpels Heure d’ici & Heure d’ailleurs, a clever twin jump hour dual time zone with retrograde minutes (with specs and price)

Fresh off the press at SIHH 2014, the new Pierre Arpels Heure d’ici & Heure d’ailleurs from Van Cleef & Arpels is a simple but novel dual time zone, featuring a double jump hour plus retrograde minutes.

The Van Cleef & Arpels Pierre Arpels Heure d’ici & Heure d’ailleurs - "time here and time elsewhere" - is an elegant dual time zone that is simple yet complicated. With everything extraneous (and a little bit more) peeled away, it features only a double jump hour for each time zone, and a retrograde minutes display in between the two hour apertures.

SIHH 2014: Introducing the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-Day Tourbillon Openworked (with specs and pricing)

With a focus on skeleton timepieces at SIHH 2014, Vacheron Constantin unveils the Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-Day Tourbillon Openworked, a tourbillon with a skeletonised movement and a two week power reserve, giving it the longest autonomy of any skeleton tourbillon on the market.

Vacheron Constantin is going all out with its skeleton watches at SIHH 2014. After the Malte Tourbillon Openworked, the Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-Day Tourbillon Openworked is the second skeleton tourbillon unveiled by Vacheron Constantin at the fair.

SIHH 2014: Details on the full IWC Aquatimer collection (with specs and pricing)

IWC has revamped its entire collection of Aquatimer dive watches for 2014. The new IWC Aquatimer is diverse, ranging from the top-of-the-line Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month to the bronze Charles Darwin chronograph. All models are equipped with a new internal-external dive bezel, as well as a quick-change bracelet mechanism.

All the new Aquatimer watches share the IWC SafeDive bezel, a hybrid internal-external rotating bezel. Like all dive bezels, this turns only anticlockwise, moving in increments of one minute. An external, notched bezel is linked via a sliding clutch to the inner, dive bezel. Turning the external bezel turns the inner timing ring simultaneously. The bulge on the case at nine o'clock is the protective cover for the sliding clutch. 

A handful of the new IWC Aquatimer range were previewed before SIHH, and here is the rest of the collection, all of which have the quick-change system where the strap or bracelet can be removed with the press of a button.

SIHH 2014: Introducing the Montblanc Homage to Nicolas Rieussec, a redesigned signature chronograph from Montblanc (with specs and price)

Montblanc has redesigned its signature chronograph and given it a a more restrained and elegant aesthetic. Created in tribute to the inventor of the chronograph, the new Montblanc Homage to Nicolas Rieussec is a monopusher chronograph with second time zone, and unusual hidden hour indices that glow only in the dark.

Montblanc's most distinctive wristwatch is the twin counter Nicolas Rieussec chronograph. The latest iteration of that model, the limited edition Homage to Nicolas Rieussec, is also the most tasteful. Whereas the earlier versions of the Rieussec were unnecessarily fussy, the new Homage to Nicolas Rieussec has a simple ivory dial with blue accents.

Inspired by 1821 chronograph of Nicolas Rieussec, which was actually a stopwatch in a box, has twin white lacquered discs, made to resemble the enamel of the original, for the seconds on the left and minutes on the right. A horizontal blued steel hand which acts as a pointer for both counters.

SIHH 2014: Introducing the Cartier Ballon Bleu 39 Flying Tourbillon with blue flinqué enamel dial (with live photos, specs and pricing)

Now smaller and more elegant, the Ballon Bleu Flying Tourbillon is presented in a new 39 mm case, along with a brilliant blue flinqué enamel dial.

Originally available only in an oversized, 46 mm case the Ballon Bleu de Cartier Flying Tourbillon has been given more compact proportions. Now measuring 39 mm in diameter, the Ballon Bleu 39 Flying Tourbillon technically identical to its larger cousin, with the same 9452 MC movement inside. But beyond the size, the 39 mm tourbillon is special the white gold version is fitted with a blue flinqué enamel dial, a first for Cartier's Fine Watchmaking line.

Introducing the De Bethune Dream Watch 5, a sculpture for the wrist (with specs and pricing)

Sleek and entirely executed in mirror finished titanium, the De Bethune Dream Watch 5 is extreme, yet elegant. The Dream Watch 5 is the most avant-garde case from De Bethune yet.

Though its other timepieces have strikingly modern designs, all have roundish cases. In contrast the Dream Watch 5 is shaped like a space craft, or a seashell from an ocean on another planet. Its triangular shape is a design element found throughout the De Bethune line-up, often used for the hands, most recently on the DB25 Imperial Fountain.

Introducing the De Bethune DB28 Digitale, a jump hour with wandering minutes and spherical moon phase (with specs and price)

Inspired by the ornate French clocks of the nineteenth century, the De Bethune Digitale is a jump hour with wandering minutes and a spherical moon phase, fusing modern watchmaking with a classic horology.

The De Bethune Digitale combines the new and old in typical De Bethune style, with lots of polished surfaces and blued titanium. It is a jump hour with a wandering minutes, comprising rotating disc for the minutes indicated by an arrow at 12 o'clock. A blued titanium crescent set with white gold stars sits outside the minutes disc, representing the night sky.

SIHH 2014: Introducing the new 38.5 mm Lange 1815 hand-wind (with specs and pricing)

Lange has just unveiled a smaller version of the time-only Lange 1815. It still retains the same 1815 aesthetic and L051.1 movement, but with some minor tweaks to the case.

The new Lange 1815 is largely similar to the current model, with the primar
y difference being the case size and design. Smaller than the current 40 mm model (which will not be discontinued) at 38.5 mm in diameter, the new 1815 also has the stepped bezel first seen on the 1815 Up/Down launched last year.

News: Jean-Claude Biver takes charge of LVMH watchmaking, to oversee Hublot, TAG Heuer and Zenith

LVMH has appointed Jean-Claude Biver to oversee its watch division, comprising Hublot, TAG Heuer and Zenith. This happens as the group's watch and jewellery division is under-performing, in a general slowdown in the watch business.

Jean-Claude Biver

Jean-Claude Biver, the turnaround artist who successfully revived Blancpain, Omeg and Hublot, will soon take charge of all the three watch brands belonging to LVMH, namely Hublot, TAG Heuer and Zenith. This comes about at a time of slowing watch and jewellery sales at LVMH, with the division posting the slowest growth in the group.

Monday, 20 January 2014

SIHH 2014: Introducing the Panerai Radiomir 1940 Chronograph, In Precious Metals And Powered By A Minerva Calibre (with specs and pricing)

Panerai has just unveiled the Radiomir 1940 Chronograph, available only in gold or platinum. Heavily inspired by vintage chronographs, the Radiomir 1940 Chronograph powered by the OP XXV movement from Minerva.

Positioned as a top of the line model, the Radiomir 1940 Chronograph is a significant departure from the typical Panerai style. The watch is not based, or even inspired by, a specific Panerai model from the past, rather it combines various elements from Panerai and elsewhere. The cushion shaped case is distinctively Panerai, as are some of the dial elements, but the hands and tachymetre scale hark back to early twentieth century chronograph.

SIHH 2014: Introducing five new entry-level Panerai Luminor 8 days watches equipped with the P.5000, including two in titanium (with specs and price)

Here are five new entry-level Panerai Luminor 44 mm timepieces, freshly unveiled at SIHH. Comprising both the Luminor Base and Luminor Marina models, in both steel and titanium, all five are powered by the in-house P.5000 movement.

Last year Panerai introduced the first two Luminor models, the PAM510 and PAM511, to contain the P.5000 movement, a hand-wound, eight day power reserve movement positioned as the entry-level in-house calibre. At SIHH 2014 Panerai has unveiled five more watches to join the P.5000 line-up, ranging from the simplest Luminor Base in steel to a Luminor Marina in titanium.

SIHH 2014: Introducing the Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph, an entry-level Minerva monopusher chronograph (with specs and pricing)

Montbanc's new Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph is a limited edition, classically styled, monopusher chronograph with pulsometer, powered by a Minerva Villeret movement, all at a more affordable price point than before.

The Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage line is dedicated to its most famous pen, the Meisterstück 149. Though the new line is comprised of several models (more on them in the coming days), the most notable model in the new collection is the Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph, powered by a Minerva movement.

SIHH 2014: Introducing the Vacheron Constantin Malte Tourbillon Openworked, the return of Vacheron's skeleton tourbillon (with specs and price)

Vacheron Constantin has just unveiled the Malte Tourbillon Openworked, a platinum, tonneau shaped wristwatch featuring the skeletonised tourbillon calibre 2790 SQ, reviving its specialty of skeletonised complications.

In the nineties until several years ago Vacheron Constantin excelled at creating skeletonised, complicated timepieces. Utilising the cal. 2790 SQ, which has been delicately skeletonised and then intricately engraved, the new Malte Tourbillon Openworked revives that tradition in grand style.

SIHH 2014: Introducing the Rotonde de Cartier Day and Night (with live pics, explanation and price)

Cartier has revived one of its signature complications with the Rotonde de Cartier Day and Night. Now combined with a new retrograde moon phase display, the new Day and Night is equipped with the in-house 1904 MC movement.

The day and night display has a long history in Cartier's history, beginning with the Comet clocks of the twenties. But more recently, the Day and Night with its decorated disc, was one of the most distinctive timepieces in the Collection Privée Cartier Paris (CPCP) line. With that as an inspiration, Cartier has unveiled the new Rotonde de Cartier Day and Night, with the addition of a retrograde moon phase as well as the automatic 1904 MC movement.

SIHH 2014: Introducing the Lange 1815 Tourbillon, a simple tourbillon from Lange (with specs and price)

Lange has just unveiled the new 1815 Tourbillon, equipped with a hack seconds and zero-reset mechanism. This makes it Lange's simplest tourbillon wristwatch so far, and its most affordable, relatively speaking.

The new Lange 1815 Tourbillon combines three features developed in the past, namely the tourbillon, stop-seconds and zero-reset, none of which have been found in a single watch before. Together in the new cal. L102.1 movement, they are intended to improve the accuracy of the watch, with the tourbillon improving timekeeping, while the stop-seconds and zero-reset enabling precise time setting. Visually, the new 1815 Tourbillon resembles a simplified Pour le Mérite Tourbillon, without the sub-seconds and power reserve.

SIHH 2014: Introducing the Tank Louis Cartier Sapphire Skeleton (with live pics and price)

Cartier's recent history includes several notable skeleton movements, including its signature 9611 MC with Roman numerals. The Tank Louis Cartier Sapphire Skeleton takes the theme in a new direction, with an open-worked movement suspended in a clear sapphire main plate.

The Tank Louis Cartier Sapphire Skeleton combines the most classic of all Tank shapes with a patent-pending movement construction. Open-worked in such a manner that emphasises all the round forms of the movement, the 9616 MC calibre is nonetheless a conventional manual-wind movement. What makes it unusual is the sapphire base plate which encircles the movement.

SIHH 2014: Introducing the Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna, featuring celestial display and constant force mechanism (with specs, explanation and price)

The Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna features an instantaneous perpetual calendar on the dial, while a celestial display showing the relative positions of the Earth, Moon and Sun, as well as a moon phase, are found on the back of the watch. All of that is powered by a movement with a 14 day power reserve, fitted with a constant force escapement.

At SIHH 2014, Lange has just unveiled its first timepiece with a celestial display, the Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna. It features a perpetual calendar and power reserve on the regulator-style dial, and on the movement an orbital moon display indicates not only the phase of the moon, but also its position relative to the Earth and Sun.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Follow us for the latest at SIHH 2014

SIHH 2014 opens in Geneva at 8:30 am on January 20. 16 brands will showcase their newest creations to retailers, journalists and collectors. We will bring you the latest on the most notable new timepieces.

Keep an eye on our SIHH page for updates. Or follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to keep track of the happenings at SIHH 2014.

EDITORIAL: Are watches too expensive? (Part 2)

In the last decade, the retail prices of luxury watches has risen faster than inflation and incomes, they are getting more expensive quicker than most can afford. That is untenable in the long run. Already for 2013 watch exports from Switzerland are flat, a stark contrast with the rapid growth of previous years. Even though the outlook for the whole watch industry is uncertain – no brand will be immune from this – the outcome is likely to be positive for the watch buyer.

Several developments have given rise to the current situation, including consumer fatigue, especially in more developed markets that are saturated with watches, retailers and boutiques. And demand has fallen sharply in China, the largest market for luxury watches, after a crackdown on corruption. 

Watch production has increased apace for the last decade, with every additional year of production having a cumulative effect. Watches, arguably more than other luxury goods like bags or cars, have far greater longevity.

So what happens next?

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Presenting the Roger Smith GREAT Britain, a one-of-a-kind wristwatch 10 months in the making

Roger Smith has created a one-off wristwatch based on his Series 2, for GREAT Britain, a global campaign to promote the British Isles. Made of platinum with a Union Jack guilloche dial and a hand-engraved movement, the GREAT Britain watch is one of Roger Smith's most elaborate creations.

Now in its third year, the GREAT Britain campaign uses the best of what Britain has to offer in order to promote the country overseas. Roger W. Smith, the protege of the late George Daniels, being the only independent, high horology watchmaker based in the British Isles, was selected to create a wristwatch for the campaign.

The result is the GREAT Britain, a platinum case wristwatch based on the Series 2, fitted with a unique Union Jack dial and a highly decorated movement. According to Roger Smith, the GREAT Britain, which took 10 months to complete, is valued at an eyebrow-raising £180,000, equivalent to about US$295,000. It is on loan to the campaign for its duration and will be exhibited around the world.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Introducing the Breva Genie 02 Terre, a $132,000, titanium altimeter watch for the well-heeled mountain climber (with specs and pricing)

Breva has just unveiled its second wristwatch, the Genie 02 Terre in titanium. Equipped with a mechanical altimeter that can measure up to 5000 m or 16,400 ft, the movement of the Genie 02 Terre was developed by Jean-François Mojon of Chronode.

At its debut in Baselworld 2013, Breva presented its first wristwatch, the $170,000 Genie 01, powered by a movement from technical specialist Chronode. The titanium Genie 02 Terre is a more accessibly priced variant of the same movement, and is equipped with a built-in altimeter which can measure altitudes of up to 5000 m or 16,400 ft.

Pre-Basel 2014: Introducing the new Omega Speedmaster Mark II, a remake of the 1969 classic (with specs and pricing)

At Baselworld 2014 Omega will present the Speedmaster Mark II, a reissue of the 1969 original. Though almost identical to the original, the new Speedmaster Mark II is updated and improved, most notably with the in-house Co-Axial cal. 3330 movement.

First unveiled in 1969, the same year astronauts took a walk on the moon wearing the Omega Speedmaster Professional, the original Speedmaster Mark II was equipped with the hand-wind cal. 861 and a typically seventies tonneau shaped case. Omega has ditched the cal. 861 in favour of the Co-Axial cal. 3330, added a couple of other upgrades, but kept the distinctive, brushed steel case. And two dials are available, a classic black and a multi-coloured "racing" dial.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Introducing the Arnold & Son Time Pyramid skeleton, now available in steel (with specs and pricing)

The Arnold & Son Time Pyramid, a skeleton watch with an unusual, triangular movement layout, is now available in steel at a more accessible price. 

Introduced at Baselworld 2013 in rose gold, the Time Pyramid from Arnold & Son is now available in steel. The Time Pyramid is a skeleton watch with a symmetrical movement layout running from top to bottom.

At 12 o'clock sits the balance wheel, and below it the gear train. At either side of six o'clock are the twin barrels, each with its own power reserve indicator at three and nine o'clock respectively. Together the twin barrels provide a 90 hour power reserve.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Pre-SIHH 2014: Introducing the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon (with specs, explanation and pricing)

Jaeger-LeCoultre has just unveiled the Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon, now the world's thinnest minute repeating wristwatch. It achieves that thanks to several clever details in the case and movement, like the peripheral winding mechanism and a novel tourbillon flying tourbillon and flying balance wheel. Here's a walk-through of its features.

The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon has a headline grabbing claim to fame. It stands just 7.9 mm high, case and all, making it the thinnest minute repeating wristwatch on the market today, taking the title - by just 0.19 mm - from Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Contemporaine Ultra-Thin Calibre 1731 (though it is not the thinnest minute repeating movement - more on that later). To achieve that, it combines several notable features, some new and others seen elsewhere, to save the millimetres where they matter, both in the movement and on the case.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Introducing the new Girard-Perregaux Chrono Hawk, now with a steel bracelet (with specs and price)

The Girard-Perregaux Chrono Hawk, the brand's sports chronograph, is now available with a chunky, integrated bracelet equipped with a micro-adjustment clasp.

First launched last year on a strap, the Girard-Perregaux Chrono Hawk is now available with an integrated bracelet. Descended from the Laureato, the brand's first sports watch, the Chrono Hawk is a chunky, sculpted 44 mm case.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Hands-on with the stunning dials of the Vacheron Constantin Métiers d'Art les Univers Infinis (with live photos and pricing)

Inspired by the work of M. C. Escher, the Vacheron Constantin Métiers d'Art les Univers Infinis uses decorative techniques like enamelling and guilloche to create extraordinary dials with mesmerising, repeating patterns which only reveal their intricate detail up close.

Why the long face?

In the second series of the Métiers d'Art les Univers Infinis ('the infinite universe'), Vacheron Constantin has combined various decorative crafts, including enamelling, guilloche, engraving and gem-setting, to create unusually hypnotic dial motifs. The repetitive patterns on the dials are known as tessellations, a repeated geometric shape, with no gaps or overlaps, tiled across the surface. Tessellation was often used by Dutch artist M. C. Escher in his decorative graphics.

Each of the three Métiers d'Art les Univers Infinis watches has an elaborately decorated, solid gold dial. Though all the dials have the same shape repeated across its surface, each repetition of the shape is decorated differently.

Pre-SIHH 2014: Introducing the Montblanc Star Twin Moonphase with dual hemisphere moon phase display

At SIHH 2014 Montblanc will unveil the Star Twin Moonphase, featuring a moon phase display showing the age of the moon in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, as well as a pointer date.

SIHH later this month will be the first for Jerome Lambert, who took over as CEO just over half a year ago. One of the new watches that will be unveiled at the fair is the Star Twin Moonphase, an automatic with a moon phase and date display, a modest complication at a modest price.

The base movement is an ETA calibre, probably the 2892, with a module on top developed for Montblanc (likely by Dubois-Depraz) which indicates the moon phase in both hemispheres.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Introducing the Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 GMT 1903, a vintage-style pilot's watch (with specs and pricing)

Created to commemorate aviation pioneers the Wright brothers and their 1903 flight, the new Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 GMT 1903 is a limited edition with a DLC coated titanium case and faux vintage Luminova.

In December 1903, the Wright brothers took to the air in their wood and fabric aircraft at Kitty Hawk beach in North Carolina, USA. Over several attempts they eventually flew several hundred feet, making aviation history. Zenith commemorates this event with the new, limited edition 
Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 GMT 1903.

SIHH 2014: Hands-on with the new Cartier Tank MC Two-Tone Skeleton and its rose gold and ruthenium movement (with live photos and price)

Cartier has now given its signature skeleton movement a striking new aesthetic with dark ruthenium bridges highlighted by gilded bevels, which will be presented for the first time in the Tank MC at SIHH 2014.

Last year Cartier took the covers off the latest addition to its century-old Tank family, the Tank MC. Equipped with the 1904 MC, the base model Tank MC is the accessibly priced entry into Cartier's proprietary movements. At SIHH later this month Cartier will unveil a new Tank MC at the other end of the spectrum, the Tank MC Two-Tone Skeleton with a striking ruthenium and pink gold movement.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Hands-on with the Voutilainen Vingt-8 GMT, a dual time zone with a hand-engraved dial (with live photos and price)

Voutilainen is steadily expanding its repertoire and the latest wristwatch to utilise the cal. 28 is the Vingt-8 GMT, which has a second time zone function and a unique, hand-engraved dial.

Kari Voutilainen has built a range of timepieces using his in-house calibre 28 as a base, ranging from the basic Vingt-8 to the more recent V-8R with a power reserve display. The latest to join the line-up is the Vingt-8 GMT, which has the addition of a second time zone display at six o'clock, integrated into the subsidiary seconds.

Pre-SIHH 2014: Introducing the Greubel Forsey GMT Platinum, for travelling the world in style (with specs and pricing)

Now available in platinum for the first time, the Greubel Forsey GMT combines the brand's signature inclined tourbillon with a dual time zone and world time display, creating a travel watch for the private jet set.

With the tourbillon being Greubel Forsey's trademark complication, the Greubel Forsey GMT is naturally fitted with one. It is equipped with a 24-second tourbillon inclined at 25°, meaning it rotates once every 24 seconds on a plane at a slight angle to the dial. Alongside the tourbillon is a sphere representing the Earth, which indicates day or night of any point on the globe.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Introducing The Zenith El Primero 410, Reviving The Classic 70s Triple Calendar Chronograph (With Specs And Price)

Inspired by the original of 1969, the Zenith El Primero 410 is a retro-styled chronograph with triple calendar and moon phase functions, with the famed 36,000 bph chronograph calibre inside.

Zenith has leaned heavily on its past for its current collection of timepieces, and the new Zenith El Primero 410 continues that strategy. Like all the other Zenith reissues, the El Primero 410 has the same calibre as its 1969 inspiration, a testament to the longevity of Zenith's most famous movement. 

Saturday, 4 January 2014

EDITORIAL: Are watches too expensive? (Part 1)

For more than a decade the luxury watch industry has enjoyed a tremendous and lucrative boom. More people were buying more expensive watches than ever before. But things seem to have come to a head, and the business is at an inflexion point. Thus the relevance of a question frequently asked: are watches too expensive?

They are, but we still love them?

The general consensus amongst collectors, and even industry insiders, is yes. But how does that sentiment stack up against the actual data?

Figures from the Federation of Swiss Watch Industry (FHS) illustrate a significant price jump in prices. In 2004 the average export price of a Swiss watch was 440 Swiss francs, and in 2012, the last full year figure available, the price was 730 Swiss francs. That is an increase of 66% in nine years. 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Pre-SIHH 2014: Unveiling the new Roger Dubuis Hommage Chronograph

Roger Dubuis will unveil a revamped line of Hommage timepieces at SIHH 2014, one of which is the Hommage Chronograph equipped with the RD680 calibre, made in-house and one of the few self-winding chronograph movements with a micro-rotor. 

One of the original product lines created by Mr Roger Dubuis back in 1995, along with the distinctive Sympathie, the Hommage was a series of round, classically styled watches. At SIHH 2014 later this month Roger Dubuis will present a new line of Hommage timepieces, including the new 42 mm Hommage Chronograph. 
The Hommage line will feature complicated movements as well as embody various decorative crafts like guilloché and enamelling. 

Pre-SIHH 2014: Introducing the new IWC Aquatimer collection, including IWC's first bronze watch (with specs and pricing)

IWC will unveil the revamped Aquatimer collection of dive watches at SIHH 2014, including a Deep Three with depth gauge as well as IWC's first bronze watch, the Aquatimer Chronograph Charles Darwin.

Aquatimer Chronograph Edition "Expedition Charles Darwin" in bronze

IWC's Aquatimer line of dive watches gets a facelift in 2014. The most prominent change is the return to the inner rotating dive bezel, a feature used in historical Aquatimer watches. 

Furthermore, the Aquatimer range now features more in-house movements, as well as more complicated models, with the top of the line being the new Aquatimer Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month, a 49 mm behemoth. Another notable addition is the Aquatimer Deep Three, a mechanical depth gauge for dives of up to 50 m.