Friday, 28 February 2014

Introducing the Christian Klings "Open Version" Wristwatch (with specs and price)

German independent watchmaker Christian Klings recently completed the "Open Version", a time-only wristwatch with a skilfully open-worked movement and an unusual silk fabric dial.

Based in the Saxon town of Wechselburg, located about an hour from Dresden, Christian Klings is a German watchmaker who crafts his own timepieces. They are all classical in style and construction, significantly influenced by the likes of Breguet and Daners. His latest timepiece is the Open Version, a wristwatch commissioned by a noted collector.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Pre-Basel 2014: Introducing the MB&F LM1 Xia Hang and its Bowing Alien Power Reserve (with specs and price)

Working with Chinese contemporary artist Xia Hang, MB&F has created a limited edition Legacy Machine 1 with a micro-sculpture of an alien which functions as the power reserve indicator.

For the first limited edition of the Legacy Machine series, Maximilian Büsser has used the Legacy Machine 1 as a base and added a dose of Chinese contemporary art. Xia Hang, whose works are mainly sleek, polished steel sculptures, created a tiny alien figure for the LM1 Xia Hang. The alien functions as the power reserve indicator, sitting upright when the mainspring is fully wound, and slumping when the power reserve runs down.

Pre-Basel 2014: Introducing the Glashütte Original PanoMaticInverse (with specs and pricing)

Glashütte Original's signature inverted movement is now available as an automatic with extra-large date. Christened the the PanoMaticInverse, the new model will be launched officially at Baselworld 2014.

Unveiled in 2008, the Glashütte Original PanoInverse was novel because it displayed most of the movement on the dial side. Now Glashütte Original has applied the same formula to the new PanoMaticInverse, which has the addition of an oversized date and automatic winding mechanism, and will soon be shown at Baselworld 2014

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Pre-Basel 2014: Introducing the Speake-Marin Spirit Seafire, a sports chronograph in titanium (with specs and price)

Speake-Marin's first chronograph, the Spirit Seafire, will soon be presented at Baselworld. Cased in titanium with a military-inspired dial, the Spirit Seafire continues to broaden Speake-Marin's entry level line of timepieces. 

Named after a Second World War British navy fighter aircraft, the Spirit Seafire is Speake-Marin's first chronograph and comes just a few months after Spirit Wing Commander was presented, joining Speake-Marin's line of sporty watches inspired by vintage British military timepieces. 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Hands-on with the Rotonde de Cartier Tourbillon Chronograph, Equipped with a Renaud & Papi Movement (with live photos and pricing)

Presented at SIHH 2014, the Rotonde de Cartier Tourbillon Chronograph is powered by an impressive movement from Renaud & Papi with an eight day power reserve.

One of the major complications Cartier unveiled at SIHH 2014 is the Rotonde de Cartier Tourbillon Chronograph with eight day power reserve. The 9438 MC movement inside is actually manufactured by technical specialist Renaud & Papi, located a short drive away from the Cartier manufacture.

Hands-on with the IWC Aquatimer Automatic 2000 Ref. 3580 (with live photos and pricing)

Water resistant to 2000 m and entirely in titanium, the IWC Aquatimer Automatic 2000 is the flagship dive watch of the revamped Aquatimer collection which was just unveiled at SIHH 2014.

IWC's lineage of 2000 m rated dive watch started with the Porsche Design Ocean 2000 in 1982, and continued with subsequent GST and Aquatimer models. Introduced at SIHH 2014, the Aquatimer Automatic 2000 Ref. 3580 is the fifth in the 2000 m series.

At 46 mm in diameter, the Aquatimer Automatic 2000 is the largest dive watch IWC has ever made. But the case is entirely titanium, which gives it some heft without turning it into a diving weight.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Pre-Basel 2014: Introducing the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Gravity, with balance roller, pallet fork and escape wheel in silicon

Maurice Lacroix will soon unveil the Masterpiece Gravity, equipped with an in-house movement equipped with the pallet fork, escape wheel and balance roller in silicon.

At Baselworld 2014 the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Gravity will make it début. This is the first wristwatch from Maurice Lacroix with a silicon assortiment (literally "assortment"), referring to the regulating organs of the movement like the balance wheel, hairspring and escapement.

The Masterpiece Gravity uses silicium (French for silicon) for the double roller of the balance wheel, the pallet fork and the escape wheel, basically the parts of the movement that allow it to keep good time.

Pre-Basel 2014: Introducing the Arnold & Son Royal TEC1 Tourbillon Chronograph (with specs and price)

To mark the brand's 250th anniversary, Arnold & Son will unveil the Royal TEC1, a chronograph with flying tourbillon is powered by the proprietary A&S8305 movement.

250 years ago John Arnold was one of England's leading horologists, making clocks and watches for both the British Navy and the King. Today the resurrected brand name marks that anniversary with a tourbillon chronograph, which will be officially unveiled at Baselworld 2014.

Inside is the A&S8305 calibre, developed by Arnold & Son's sister company La Joux-Perret. Self-winding with a 55 hour power reserve, the movement has a tourbillon at 12 o'clock and a column wheel-controlled chronograph. 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Pre-Basel 2014: Introducing the ethereal Vincent Calabrese Régulus Flying Tourbillon (with specs and price)

One of Vincent Calabrese's signature timepieces are his artfully reduced calibres, exemplified by the incredibly Régulus Flying Tourbillon with a movement suspended inside a clear sapphire case.

Unveiled several years ago but modestly refreshed for Baselworld 2014, the Vincent Calabrese Régulus Flying Tourbillon has been reduced to the bare minimum in both components and size. As a result the movement floats serenely in the centre of the transparent case, with no visible attachments.

Up close with the miniature enamel painting of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Enamel

Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of the few manufactures with its own enamelling workshop, which is notable for being able to create miniature enamel painting, an uncommon craft illustrated in all its glory on a Reverso XGT in yellow gold.

Miniature enamel painting is a rare skill even amongst independent artisans, and rarer still inside a watch factory. With its enamel workshop, situated in a small building away from the massive main manufacture, led by the talented Miklos Merczel, Jaeger-LeCoultre is probably the only watch brand which can boast of doing miniature enamel painting in-house.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Pre-Basel 2014: Introducing the Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945 and 1966 with blue dials

Girard-Perregaux now offers its signature Vintage 1945 and 1966 models with dark blue, metallic finish dials. Both models are powered by the in-house GP cal. 3300 automatic movement.

Both of Girard-Perregaux's retro-inspired signature models, the Vintage 1945 and 1966 will soon be available with metallic blue dials. Girard-Perregaux is typically adept at classical designs, and these are no exception. Though they different versions of existing models, the new dials add a bit of colour to otherwise conservative designs. 

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Pre-Basel 2014: Introducing the Nomos Tetra Berlin set, four square watches in striking colours

The square Nomos Tetra is now available with four new striking dial colours, each inspired by the city of Berlin, and equipped with Nomos' in-house, hand-wound movements.

At Baselworld 2014 Nomos, the German manufacturer of cheerful and modestly priced timepieces, will present the Tetra Berlin set, a quartet of watches in what it calls "very metropolitan colours", ranging from rose gold to dark blue. Each Tetra has a 29.5 mm by 29.5 mm steel case with sapphire crystals on both sides, and coloured dials with gold-plated hands. And all are powered by Nomos' in-house calibres.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Hands-on with the Leroy Osmior Monopusher Chronograph, and the revival of Leroy (with live photos and price)

Leroy, a storied name in French watchmaking, was revived quietly several years ago. Now in the midst of a revamp under new management, one of the brand's signature timepieces is its Osmior single-button chronograph.

The original firm of Leroy (or Le Roy, as it was originally) was a contemporary of Breguet in the late eighteenth century. And like Breguet, Leroy was watchmaker to French royalty as well as the French navy; and notably for a French company, Leroy was also appointed watchmaker to Queen Victoria in 1863. 

But despite its gold plated client list and technical accomplishments in horology, Leroy, like nearly all great names in watchmaking, petered out in the late twentieth century. Then name was acquired by the Spain-based Festina Group in 2004, and quietly, very quietly, relaunched.

Last month Olivier Müller, the former CEO of Laurent Ferrier, took over the helm of L. Leroy, named after Louis Leroy. With ambitious plans to remake the company's timepieces, Leroy will début a complicated timepiece at Baselworld next year that Müller promises will be significant and noteworthy.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Pre-Basel 2014: Introducing the Vulcain Cricket 50s Presidents' Pegasus Limited Edition cloisonné dial (with specs and price)

Vulcain, the watchmaker synonymous with the Cricket alarm watch, has just unveiled the 50s Presidents' Pegasus, a limited edition alarm wristwatch with a cloisonné dial made by enamel specialist Donzé Cadrans

Having been worn by several American presidents in the fifties and sixties starting with Truman, Vulcain has since given each president since a Cricket alarm wristwatch. The watches gifted to each president have been decidedly more modest than the latest version of the Cricket, the 50s Presidents' Pegasus Limited Edition.

Zenith joins the ranks of watch brands offering an archive extract and authentication service

Zenith has just announced it will now offer both an extract from its archives, as well as a certificate of authenticity, joining the long list of brands that do the same.

Zenith Espada chronographs from the seventies, from the collection of P. Vidhayapat

For a modest fee, Zenith will now provide an extract from its archives concerning any watch it has manufactured in the past. 

According to Zenith, the extract will contain information like "the date the watch was manufactured in Le Locle and other information related to its production." In addition, Zenith notes, "Wherever possible, we will also provide historic catalogue extracts and historical advertisements along with this document." The extract costs 120 Swiss francs for a soft copy sent via email and 150 Swiss francs for a paper copy through the post.

Monday, 10 February 2014

A slow year for the Swiss watch industry in 2013

The FHS has just published the 2013 export figures for the Swiss watch industry, which ended the year practically flat compared to 2012, with growth in value of just 1.9% and a fall in volume.

2013 was still a record year for the Swiss watch industry, which produces the majority of luxury timepieces sold. According to trade body the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, known by its French acronym FHS, Switzerland exported 20.6 billion Swiss francs worth of watches, the highest ever. 

But compared to 2012, the value of exports grew only 1.9%. And more significantly, the number of watches exported fell 3.6%. The 2013 figures are a sharp departure from the performance of earlier years. Growth in export value was 11% in 2012, and nearly double that in the preceding three years.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Pre-Basel 2014: Introducing the Blancpain Villeret 8 days time-only with a grand feu enamel dial

A month before Baselworld 2014 Blancpain has taken the covers off the new Villeret time-only wristwatch with an eight day power reserve and a grand feu enamel dial, equipped with the cal. 1335.

Blancpain watches tend to be conservatively styled but made to a high standard in terms of materials, fit and finish. This new Villeret is no exception. With a 42 mm case in rose gold, the Villeret 8 Days is typically Blancpain in style, with a thin bezel, small lugs, leaf hands, and of course Roman numerals on its grand feu enamel dial.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Introducing the Speake-Marin Spirit Wing Commander in titanium, with big date and power reserve (with specs and price)

Speake-Marin's latest addition to its successful line of military-inspired sports watches is the Spirit Wing Commander. It's the first Spirit in titanium, featuring an oversized date and power reserve indicator.

The Speake-Marin Spirit collection started three years ago with the Spirit Pioneer, which not only gave the brand a new look, but also made it more accessibly priced. Now the line-up has been joined by the Spirit Mk 3 Wing Commander, the first model with complications. Earlier models like the Spirit Mk II are time-only.

Featuring an oversized date and power reserve display, the Wing Commander has the same military aesthetic as the other Spirit timepieces, which were inspired by historic British military wristwatches.

Friday, 7 February 2014

The Mastery of Time exhibition opens in Tokyo

An exhibition on the history of timekeeping, The Mastery of Time opens on 7 February at Roppongi Hills in Tokyo and runs for a week.

From sundials to modern atomic watches, The Mastery of Time covers the history of timekeeping. Organised by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), an industry body dedicated to spreading the gospel of fine watchmaking, the exhibition is open to the public and admittance is free. It runs from 7 to 12 February 2014, and is located at:

Asahi Tower TV 1F, Roppongi Hills, Tokyo 
6-9-1 Roppongi, Minatoku, 106-8001 Tokyo, Japan

The exhibition is also to mark the 150th anniversary of the conclusion of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Japan.

More details, including an exhibition catalogue, are available on the FHH official page.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Swatch Group posts healthy 2013 results, outperforming the industry

With a healthy rise in sales and a sharp jump in profits, the Swatch Group has just posted a strong set of numbers for the last year, outperforming the industry when business is slowing.

The Swatch Group had a better year than some of its competitors like LVMH, with an 8% rise in sales, despite adverse currency conditions and slower business in the industry overall. That compares with growth of just 1.8% in Swiss watch exports for the 11 months to November 2013. These numbers are partly due to the group's strong presence in entry and mid-level brands like Tissot and Longines, a position its rivals like Richemont cannot match.

Operating income rose 17%, thanks in part to the windfall from its dispute with Tiffany & Co. In fact, the compensation from the American jeweller helped restore the Swatch Group's cash position to practically the same level before its purchase of Harry Winston in early 2013.

And operating margin rose to 27.4%, with the rise mainly due to the compensation from Tiffany & Co.

Richemont, the third and last watch conglomerate in a few months and the comparison will be interesting.

Introducing the Döttling Legends safe No. 176, a retrofitted, ultra-luxe antique safe (with pricing)

One of German watch box maker Döttling's signature offerings is its Legends series of restored antique safes converted into posh watch storage chests. Its latest conversion, Legends safe no. 176 has just been completed.

Döttling's Legends are antique safes turned into luxury watch storage. Past projects have include including an eighteenth century safe that formerly belonged to the Medicis of Florence. The latest in the series, the Legends safe No. 176 was originally built by L. Duvilers, a Belgian safe maker in the nineteenth century. Dottling, a specialist in extravagant watch storage solutions, restored the safe, gave it a glossy piano lacquer finish, gold-plated all the decorative elements, and fitted out the inside to store watches.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Exclusive: A Sneak Peek at the Chopard Calibre L.U.C 03.07-L, a New Manual-Wind Chronograph with the Geneva Seal

Chopard will soon unveil the Calibre L.U.C 03.07-L, an in-house, manual-wind chronograph movement, complete with column wheel, vertical clutch and Geneva Seal, as well as the new LUC two-tone movement finish.

With the new Calibre L.U.C 03.07-L Chopard joins a select group of watch brands who can claim to manufacture their own high-end chronograph movement. Based on the automatic Chrono One movement introduced in 2007, the Calibre L.U.C 03.07-L reveals much more of the chronograph mechanism since there is no rotor and winding bridge. Though it shares many similarities with the automatic Chrono One calibre L.U.C 03.07-L will appeal much more to chronograph traditionalists.