Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Year In Review 2014: Our 10 Top Stories Of The Year

At the end of the year that was the best ever, with traffic stats up by over 60% across all metrics, here's a look at our ten top stories of 2014.

In terms of readership stories on Rolex and Seiko trump all the others, which is unsurprising since both are probably the most searched watch brands online. Other notable stories are our editorials on the end of the road for rising watch prices (ranked 6th and 8th), and the compilation of opinions from key figures in high horology on the Apple Watch.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Up Close With The Patek Philippe Ref. 5960/1A Chronograph Annual Calendar In Steel

Introduced for the very first time in steel, with a matching steel bracelet to boot, the Patek Philippe Ref. 5960/1A is the most affordable variant of the chronograph with annual calendar, and one that's very nearly a sports watch.

The Nautilus chronograph it is not, but the Patek Philippe Ref. 5960/1A comes very close to being a sports chronograph. And it is arguably more practical, combing both a chronograph and legible annual calendar function. Introduced at Baselworld earlier this year, the Ref. 5960/1A is entirely steel, unlike its precious metal predecessors, making this particular complication the most affordable it has ever been.

Hands-On With The Rotonde De Cartier With Calendar & Power Reserve - An Affordable Small Complication (With Photos And Price)

Cartier has started to expand its line of affordable, mid-range complicated timepieces, one of which is the Rotonde De Cartier With Calendar And Power Reserve, powered by an in-house movement and priced under US$10,000.

At Watches&Wonders 2014 Cartier unveiled a pair of petite complications, wristwatches with minor complications priced affordably. One was the Rotonde Second Time Zone Day/Night, and the other is the Rotonde De Cartier With Calendar And Power Reserve.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Pre-SIHH 2015: Introducing The Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum World Time (With Specs And Pricing)

Montblanc grows its classical Heritage line with the addition of the Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum, a world time with a day and night display that will make its debut at SIHH 2015.

At SIHH last year Montblanc unveiled the first of the Heritage collection, a line of classically styled timepieces at an accessible price point that is one of the key elements of the strategy in revamping Montblanc's watch business. That is set to continue at SIHH 2015 with the Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum, a world time wristwatch with a day and night indicator.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Up Close With The Patek Philippe 175th Anniversary World Time Moon Refs. 5575G and 7175R (With Photos And Price)

For its 175th anniversary Patek Philippe combined its signature world time with a photorealistic moon phase, paired with a carefully detailed case that features sculpted, lyre-shaped lugs.

Of the four models Patek Philippe unveiled for its 175th anniversary, the Multi-Scale Chronograph and World Time Moon stand out for being relatively affordable - after all, the top of the line anniversary Grandmaster Chime costs 2.5 million francs. Unsurprisingly, they have garnered the most interest, particularly the World Time Moon, according to anecdotal evidence from Patek Philippe retailers.

Made in both men's and ladies' variants (refs. 5575G and 7175R respectively), the World Time Moon is unusual in several respects. For one, it's the first time in the modern era Patek Philippe is combining a world time with another complication. And the World Time Moon is also a very large edition, totalling 1750 pieces for both versions. Less obvious but also significant is the sculpted case form, illustrating the great strides Patek Philippe has made in its case making.

Introducing The Luminox 25th Anniversary Limited Editions For Singapore (With Specs And Pricing)

American watch brand Luminox marks its 25th anniversary with a pair of limited edition watches featuring tritium tube illumination, available exclusively in Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei.

Luminox began in 1989 as the supplier to the US Navy Seals of affordable, robust timepieces with tritium vial dial illumination. Since then Luminox has supplied watches to other military and police units, while carving out a niche for itself in the marketplace as a very affordable, military-type timepiece. To mark its 25th year, Luminox has created a pair of limited editions for its key markets in South-East Asia, the Gold Navy SEAL Colormark and the Compass BlackOut.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Striking Season's Greetings From F.P. Journe

As is tradition F.P. Journe's holiday wishes come in the form of an elegant e-card. For 2014 the emphasis is on chiming watches, with a short trip through history on the evolution of the striking watch.

Enjoy the e-card right here: Season's greetings and a Happy New Year from F.P. Journe.

IWC Introduces Portofino Hand-Wound Pure Classic, A Distilled, Simplified Wristwatch (With Pricing)

The last new IWC for 2014 has been revealed: the Portofino Hand-Wound Pure Classic, a large and slim wristwatch with only two hands and an eight day power reserve.

The focus of IWC's collection at SIHH 2015 will be the Portuguese (including a new Portuguese Annual Calendar), but that only happens in January. The last addition to the IWC line-up for 2014 is the new Portofino Hand-Wound Pure Classic, a concise, time-only watch.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Pre-Basel 2015: Breguet Adds Retrograde Seconds To Its Signature La Tradition Watch

Inspired by nineteenth century pocket watches and arguably Breguet's signature timepiece, the La Tradition will be presented with a retrograde seconds hand at Baselworld 2015.

The new year has not yet arrived, but Breguet is first out of the gate with a pre-show announcement. At Baselworld in March next year the Breguet La Tradition will mark its tenth anniversary with several new versions, including the Tradition Automatique Seconde Rétrograde ref. 7097. The new Tradition Automatique Seconde Rétrograde has all the hallmarks of the La Tradition collection, including the exposed base plate and bridges decorated with a frosted finish, combined with a fresh feature, a retrograde seconds at 10 o'clock.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Pre-SIHH 2015: Up Close With The Rotonde de Cartier Annual Calendar 40 mm (With Photos, Specs And Pricing)

At SIHH 2015 Cartier will officially introduce a slimmed down version of the Rotonde de Cartier Annual Calendar in a 40 mm case, while retaining the clever calendar display.

Two years ago Cartier introduced its first annual calendar, combining its in-house automatic calibre with a novel calendar display. The next SIHH will see a face-lifted version of the Rotonde de Cartier Annual Calendar take to the stage, equipped with a cleaner, clearer dial, and a smaller, 40 mm case.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Pre-SIHH 2015: Introducing The Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Skeleton Flying Tourbillon With An Open-Worked Case (With Specs And Price)

Roger Dubuis's quintessential skeleton flying tourbillon is now paired with an open-worked titanium case, bringing to the minimalist yet theatrical aesthetic of the movement out into the watch case.

With its star-shaped bridge and linear architecture, the Roger Dubuis skeleton tourbillon is instantly recognisable. Though it has evolved over the last few years, the Excalibur tourbillon has remained largely the same, until now. The Excalibur Spider Skeleton Flying Tourbillon is very large but also light: the oversized, 45 mm case has been skeletonised, with much of the material removed.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

IWC Unveils Portuguese Hand-Wound Special Edition For Revolution Magazine (With Specs And Pricing)

IWC has remade its Jubilee Portuguese in a limited edition for the 10th anniversary of Revolution, a Singapore-based watch magazine, perhaps pointing the way to what its flagship product for the 75th anniversary of the Portuguese wristwatch coming next year.

In 1993 IWC celebrated its 125th anniversary with the Portuguese Jubilee ref. 5441, a watch much desired by IWC fans today. For the 10th anniversary of Revolution, IWC has remade the Jubilee in a 10-piece limited edition that is nearly identical, but not exactly so. 

Perhaps this reissue is a hint as to what is to come at SIHH 2015, which also happens to be the 75th year of the Portuguese, arguably IWC's most important product line. It makes little commercial sense for a company like IWC to make such a small run of watches, so fans of the classic Portuguese will probably like what's in store for SIHH next month.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Pre-SIHH 2015: Greubel Forsey Unveils The GMT Black In ADLC Titanium (With Pricing)

Greubel Forsey will offer its GMT, the travel watch with an inclined tourbillon for the private jet set, in black ADLC coated titanium. 

Last year Greubel Forsey took the covers off its first ever titanium watch, the Double Tourbillon Technique Black, which kept of all the brand's signature aesthetic and technical features but in a more subdued style. The same treatment has been applied to the GMT Black, a wristwatch that has a dual time zone function and the brand's patented 24 second tourbillon.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Pre-SIHH 2015: Introducing The Panerai Luminor 1950 Sealand Year of the Goat PAM848 (With Specs And Price)

Panerai continues its series of annual Sealand editions dedicated to the Chinese Zodiac with the Luminor 1950 Sealand Year of the Goat (PAM00848), featuring a hunter case decorated with gold-inlaid hand-engraving.

Fitted with distinctive flip covers over the dial, the hunter cases of Panerai Luminor Sealand watches are a perfect canvas for engraving. To be officially unveiled at SIHH, the 2015 edition of the Luminor 1950 Sealand is dedicated to the Year of the Goat, the seventh in an annual edition for each year's Chinese Zodiac and also the first in the Luminor 1950 case.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Pre-SIHH 2015: Introducing The Roger Dubuis Excalibur Automatic Skeleton - The First Open-Worked, Time-Only Wristwatch (With Specs And Price)

Roger Dubuis' signature timepiece has long been its skeleton tourbillons with their distinctive star-shaped bridges. Now Roger Dubuis has applied that same look to its time-only automatic in the Excalibur Automatic Skeleton, offering the same aesthetic at a lower price.

One of the key tactics in Roger Dubuis' product strategy is to create more accessible products in more manageable sizes. The new Excalibur Automatic Skeleton is exactly that. With a skeleton movement featuring the brand's signature star-shaped bridge, the Excalibur Automatic Skeleton looks like the brand's trademark skeleton tourbillon, but costs only half as much.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

REPORT: Vintage Rolex Asylum First Anniversary GTG - A Band Of Brothers

Vintage Rolex Asylum (VRA) is a club for collectors of vintage Rolex watches set up just recently in Jakarta, Indonesia. The VRA first anniversary get-together just happened earlier this week and I was fortunate to take part. Here's a quick report on what transpired.

Enthusiasm for vintage Rolex watches is a phenomenon that is sweeping the world. One hotspot for that is Indonesia, an archipelago with a population of over 250 million people. VRA was established in the capital, Jakarta, almost exactly a year ago and now counts in its ranks nearly 40 members. Its first official gathering took place on 11 December, with its members, and their watches, out in full force. I was there as a guest, and here's what happened.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Up Close With The Patek Philippe Ref. 5207P, A Spectacular Grand Complication

One of the most complicated timepieces Patek Philippe makes, the Ref. 5207P combines a minute repeater, instantaneous perpetual calendar as well as a tourbillon, inside a platinum case with hand-engraving on its flanks. The Ref. 5207P really is a grand complication.

Patek Philippe's grand complications are arguably the best from any major watch brand, demonstrating superlative movement construction and finishing. One of the the Geneva watchmaker's grandest complications is the Ref. 5207P. Equipped with a tourbillon, instantaneous perpetual calendar and a minute repeater, the Ref. 5207P is essentially an upgrade version of what was long Patek Philippe's flagship wristwatch, the Ref. 5016.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Rolex Develops Chronograph And Speedometer For Bloodhound SSC, The World's Fastest Car

Rolex has developed a pair of dashboard instruments for the Bloodhound SSC, a rocket-shaped car powered by jet and rocket engines that give it astounding 135,000 horsepower, conceived to break the world land speed record in 2015, and cross the 1000 mph mark the year after.  

In the works since 2008, the Bloodhound SSC is a super car powered by a Eurofighter Typhoon jet engine and a rocket booster that is being built to break the world land speed record of 763 mph next year. And more impressively it aims to crack the 1000 mph mark in 2016. Timekeeping for this project is provided by Rolex, which has designed a speedometer and chronograph for the dashboard of the Bloodhound.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Pre-SIHH 2015: Vacheron Constantin Marks The Chinese Zodiac Year Of The Goat (With Specs And Price)

Next month at SIHH Vacheron Constantin will officially unveil the Métiers d’Art The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac dedicated to the Year Of The Goat in 2015. With a hand-enamelled and engraved dial, the timepiece features window displays for the time and calendar.

Each year Vacheron Constantin creates a limited edition to commemorate the year's animal of the Chinese Zodiac - 2015 is the Year of the Goat. The Métiers d’Art Year Of The Goat is powered by the calibre 2460 G4, a self-winding movement that displays the time and calendar on four windows on the edge of the dial, creating a canvas for elaborate dial decor in enamel and engraving.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Pre-SIHH 2015: Introducing The Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon Skeleton - A Floating, Orbital Tourbillon (With Specs And Pricing)

Cartier has made one of its most distinctive tourbillons even more striking by skeletonising the movement, leaving the 9461 MC movement suspended inside the case as the tourbillon cage travels around it once a minute.

Cartier's signature tourbillon is the Astrotourbillon (Cartier picked this watch as the base for its first commercially available concept timepiece), a central carousel tourbillon that goes around the dial one a minute. That visual effect has now been amplified in the Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon Skeleton that will be unveiled at SIHH 2015. With the tourbillon carriage seemingly gliding around the dial in empty space, past the three slim supports that hold the movement in place, the Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon Skeleton resembles a tiny space station trapped inside a watch case.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Omega And Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology Announce New Watch Testing And Certification Standard

Omega and the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS) have jointly developed a new testing and certification process for timepieces, that includes functional testing under massive magnetic fields. Clearly aimed at the dominant COSC standard, the new certification will be applied to Master Co-Axial watches in 2015, though other watch brands are welcome to partake.

Earlier this year Omega its new Master Co-Axial movements with magnetism resistance of over 15,000 Gauss. But the lax standards of COSC, the biggest player in the watch certification sphere, has driven Omega to collaborate with METAS to create a new testing standard. Though Omega and METAS developed the standard together, METAS is an independent government body, and the certification will be open to other watch brands.

Introducing The MB&F LM1 In Platinum, A 33-Piece Limited Edition With A Electric Blue Dial (With Specs And Price)

The MB&F Legacy Machines combine retro-steampunk aesthetics with lovingly finished movements, and now the very first watch of the series, the LM1, is available in platinum with a bright blue dial in a limited edition of just 33 pieces.

Last year MB&F presented the second Legacy Machine with twin balance wheels, including a limited edition in platinum of just 18 pieces. Despite costing over US$200,000, the electric blue dial of the platinum LM2 proved popular and sold out quickly. Now MB&F has applied the same formula to the first watch in the Legacy Machine series, the dual time zone LM1 in a limited edition of 33 pieces, priced at half its more expensive cousin.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Pre-SIHH 2015: Introducing The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Calendar With Meteorite Dial - A Piece Of The Heavens For Just A Bit More (With Specs And Price)

Jaeger-LeCoultre has given its signature Master Calendar some extraterrestrial flair with a dial made of a thin slice of meteorite - all for an attractively small extra cost compared to the regular model.

SIHH 2015 will see Jaeger-LeCoultre present several calendar and astronomical themed timepieces, one of which is the new Master Calendar with meteorite dial. Launched two years ago with a conventional silvered dial, the Master Calendar has the traditional triple calendar layout with three windows and a date pointer. That is now made a little more interesting with a dial made from meteorite discovered in Sweden that originated much farther afield, from the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Introducing The Wilhelm Rieber Flying Tourbillon Wristwatch With Spring Detent Escapement

German independent watchmaker Wilhelm Rieber has just completed the world's first flying tourbillon wristwatch with a spring detent escapement, a wonderful example of watchmaking made even more remarkable by the fact that Rieber works alone.

Wilhelm Rieber is a German watchmaker who makes watches the traditional way. His latest timepiece is remarkable in itself - the world's first flying tourbillon with a spring detent escapement. That's made all the more impressive by the fact that he makes all his watches himself.

Pre-SIHH 2015: Introducing The Facelifted Lange Saxonia Hand-Wind, Automatic And Dual Time (With Pricing)

Lange will show the facelifted Saxonia collection at SIHH 2015, having tweaked the dials and cases of its entry-level collection of timepieces. The cases are slightly smaller, and the details a little more detailed.

SIHH 2015 will see the launch of three new timepieces from A. Lange & Söhne's most affordable line-up: the Saxonia, Saxonia Automatik and Saxonia Dual Time. All are facelifted versions of existing models, visually similar and mechanically identical to the existing models but with minor improvements in the size and design.

A Very Detailed Look At The Patek Philippe Ref. 5271P - Platinum, Diamonds, Perpetual Calendar And Chronograph (With Photos And Pricing)

Patek Philippe often pairs platinum cases with diamond settings, especially on its grand complications, the newest of which is the Ref. 5271P, a platinum chronograph with perpetual calendar set with nearly five carats of baguette diamonds.

Historically Patek Philippe has often paired its platinum timepieces with diamonds, usually with black dials. The models available in this glittery decor range from basic Calatrava watches to top of the line grand complications. One of the most impressive is the platinum perpetual calendar chronograph with diamonds, part of the collection since the eighties with the Ref. 3970. The latest, and possibly greatest, iteration of this chronograph (Patek Philippe has a remarkable history in fine chronograph wristwatches) is the Ref. 5271P, a flashy and impressive watch without being coarse or louche.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Pre-SIHH 2015: Up Close With The Rotonde De Cartier Reversed Tourbillon (With Photos, Specs And Pricing)

At SIHH 2015 Cartier will unveil a new version of its inverted tourbillon that reveals most of the movement on the dial, this time with a sun-ray guilloche dial made of 18k solid gold.

Cartier's head of movement development, Carole Forestier, is one of the few female technical directors at a watchmaker. And perhaps because of her gender, the movements she has conceived, like for the new Crash Skeleton, are often as much technical creations as they are aesthetic. The Rotonde De Cartier Reversed Tourbillon exemplifies that dichotomy, being a haute horlogerie complication that has been constructed for visual impact.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Timepieces From AP, Blancpain, JLC And Zenith Raise S$96,000 For Charity

Over the weekend four timepieces from Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Zenith were auctioned in Singapore. All sold for well above the retail prices, raising nearly S$100,000 for the Community Chest. 

On 30 November Singapore charity the Community Chest held its annual fundraising dinner (full disclosure: I was a member of the event's organising committee), which included an auction of items donated for the event. Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Zenith generously contributed timepieces for the charity auction. The four timepieces raised S$96,000, with all selling at above the recommended retail prices.

Pre-SIHH 2015: Piaget Introduces The Altiplano Chronograph - The Thinnest Chronograph On The Market (With Specs And Price)

Piaget continues to excel in creating ultra-thin movements with the new Altiplano Chronograph, equipped with a flyback as well as second time zone function. Standing just 8.24 mm high, case and all, the Altiplano Chronograph is the thinnest available.

For several years now Piaget has endeavoured to create one ultra-thin watch after another, last year's Altiplano 900P is the thinnest watch on the market. Next year at SIHH 2015 Piaget will officially unveil the Altiplano Chronograph. Just 8.24 mm high - the movement inside is only 4.65 mm thick - the Altiplano Chronograph is the thinnest chronograph on the market.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Introducing The Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi “Year of the Goat”, With A Hand-Painted Japanese Lacquer Dial (With Specs And Price)

Next year Chopard will officially introduce the L.U.C XP Urushi "Year of the Goat" special edition featuring a maki-e dial to mark the Chinese Zodiac sign for 2015.

A striking but little known sub-collection within Chopard's L.U.C line of timepiece is the Urushi collection, with dials decorated in maki-e, or Japanese lacquer. Each year Chopard brings out a special edition with the appropriate animal of the Chinese Zodiac, with the goat making its appearance in 2015 for the Year of the Wood Goat, which starts 19 February 2015 and ends on 7 February 2016.