Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Hands-On With The Omega Speedmaster Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award (With Original Photos & Price)

Omega introduced the Speedmaster Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award at Baselworld last month, a reminder the vital role the Moon Watch played in returning the Apollo 13 mission safely back to Earth. 

Some 56 hours into the Apollo 13 mission in April 1970, the oxygen tank on the space craft exploded. With skill and luck, the crew managed to survive, events chronicled in the film Apollo 13. Astronaut Jack Swigert's Omega Speedmaster Moon Watch was used to time the critical 14 seconds for a re-entry manoeuvre back into Earth's atmosphere, for which Omega was awarded a Silver Snoopy by the grateful mission crew. 45 years on that award is memorialised on the Speedmaster Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Up Close With The Vacheron Constantin Harmony Ultra-Thin Grande Complication Chronograph (With Original Photos & Price)

The most complicated wristwatch of Vacheron Constantin's offerings at SIHH 2015, the Harmony Ultra-Thin Grande Complication Chronograph is powered by a gorgeously complex split-seconds chronograph movement with a novel peripheral rotor.

Vacheron Constantin introduced three chronographs at SIHH 2015, all presented in the new cushion-shaped Harmony case, with the top of the line model being the Harmony Ultra-Thin Grande Complication Chronograph. It's a split seconds monopusher chronograph with a power reserve indicator, with the beautifully executed calibre 3500 inside.

Breguet "Innovations That Wrote History" Exhibition Opens In Singapore

An exhibition dedicated to Breguet's contemporary inventions like its magnetic balance opens on Monday, April 27 in Singapore at the Marina Bay Sands mall.

Breguet has notched up several significant innovations in recent years of its 200 year history, including the magnetic balance of the Classique Chronometrie and the Tradition chronograph that was just introduced at Baselworld 2015. "Innovations That Wrote History" explains seven of Breguet's most significant wristwatch innovations, including the tourbillon invented in 1801.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Getting a Look Inside The Apple Watch With iFixit's Teardown

iFixit carefully took apart an Apple Watch, revealing what's inside and how repairable it is in this video.

An open source site dedicated to guides on how to fix consumer technology, iFixit recently took apart an Apple Watch piece by piece. The conclusions are not surprising, it's reasonably easy to remove the screen and battery, but little else can be repaired at home. Lots of adhesive is used to keep it all together, while the buttons have rubber gaskets which means the Apple Watch is water resistant. And the Arm Cortex M3 chip for the touch screen is made in Singapore.

Girard-Perregaux Introduces The Chamber of Wonders - Antique Maps Rendered In Intricate Miniature (With Original Photos & Price)

The Chamber of Wonders is a trio of Girard-Perregaux 1966 wristwatches with dials decorated with miniatures of maps creating using artisanal techniques like marquetry and miniature painting.

Typically associated with complications like its signature tourbillon, Girard-Perregaux took a different tack at Baselworld 2015 with the Chamber of Wonders - three timepieces with plain gold cases and intricately decorated dials depicting maps from the 15th and 16th centuries. 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Urwerk Goes Technicolor With The UR-105 TA In Orange Or Yellow (With Prices)

Urwerk's entry level timepiece, the UR-105, is now offered in four new guises, including neon orange or yellow, a first for the brand synonymous with black or grey watches.

Urwerk has alway limited its colour palette to black, grey and sometimes rose gold. Offered in bright orange or yellow, the new UR-105 TA (short for turbine automatic) proves Urwerk can go beyond monochrome.

Up Close With The Panerai Radiomir Firenze PAM604 (With Original Photos, Price)

A small run of 99 pieces available only in Florence, the Radiomir Firenze PAM604 is the first Radiomir decorated with engraving, done by hand in the Florentine style.

Panerai has long offered watches with engraved hunter cases known as the Luminor Sealand, initially decorated by the gunmaker Purdey (its sister company in Richemont) and now by anonymous Italian craftsmen. Now it has extended the theme of an engraved case to the Radiomir with the PAM605, the most artisanal timepiece in its SIHH 2015 collection. The Radiomir Firenze has a 47 mm steel case entirely engraved, front and side, with a Florentine motif.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Up Close With The Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711/1R Rose Gold On Bracelet (With Original Photos & Price)

At Baselworld Patek Philippe unveiled the Nautilus Ref. 5711/1R, the first time the time-only Nautilus is available in gold with a matching bracelet.

Not too long ago, a gold Rolex was the quintessential status symbol for a particular segment of consumers, supplanted more recently by an Audemars Piguet or Richard Mille - symptomatic of the convergence of brands, products and consumers. Patek Philippe has caught up in that category with its Nautilus watches, especially the Nautilus chronograph in gold with a matching bracelet. But the basic Nautilus models were not available with gold bracelets (at least not in the regular catalogue), until the Ref. 5711/1R made its debut at Baselworld 2015.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

EDITORIAL: The Gradual Return Of Value

With the slowdown in the luxury watch business well established, the industry is reacting in a predictable manner that bodes well for the watch buyer.

At the start of last year I wrote an editorial predicting a slowdown in the watch business, as well as the possible consequences. That has come to pass. Value is returning, gradually and timidly, to watches and the watch buyer should rejoice. 

Up Close With The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Calendar Meteorite (With Original Photos & Price)

With the Master Calendar Meteorite, Jaeger-LeCoultre has bestowed a dial made from a thin slice of cosmic rock on one of its signature triple calendar wristwatch. 

The Jaeger-LeCoultre line-up at SIHH 2015 was heavy with moon phase watches, including the Master Calendar Meteorite. Part the JLC collection starting the nineties with a short interruption in the mid-2000s, the Master Calendar is styled like a mid-20th century triple calendar watch, sedate and functional, except it's now offered with a meteorite dial.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Introducing The Buben & Zorweg Mark IV, The Superhero Watch Winder Inspired By Iron Man

Buben & Zorweg recently completed the one of a kind Mark IV, a watch winder with a built-in mechanical clock, inspired by the Mark IV suit from Iron Man 2.  

Located in central Austria, Buben & Zorweg specialises in watch winders and cases that range from the elaborate to the extravagant. Its latest is the Mark IV, a winder for six watches with an eight-day clock that takes its cues from the Mark IV suit from the film Iron Man 2.

IWC Introduces The Ingenieur Automatic Edition “Laureus Sport for Good Foundation” (With Pricing)

IWC has just unveiled the Ingenieur Automatic Edition “Laureus Sport for Good Foundation”, the 2015 edition of its annual limited edition conceived to raise funds for the Laureus foundation.

For almost a decade and through nine Laureus editions, IWC has supported the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, a charity that aims to encourage sports amongst children in poor countries that has IWC's parent Richemont and Daimler as key sponsors. The latest edition in the series is the Ingenieur Automatic Edition “Laureus Sport for Good Foundation”, an entry-level Ingenieur wristwatch fitted with the signature metallic blue dial of the Laureus editions.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Up Close With The Very First F.P. Journe Historical Anniversary Tourbillon T30, Number 00/99

In 2013, to mark the 30th anniversary of his first timepiece, F.P. Journe unveiled the Historical Anniversary Tourbillon "T30", a scaled down, wristwatch version of the first Journe tourbillon. This is the very first one ever made, numbered "00/99".

F.P. Journe retains the first - numbered "00" or "000" - of every model produced, both limited and regular production, for its own archives. This Historical Anniversary Tourbillon "T30" is one of those timepieces, bearing the serial number "00".

Made to commemorate the 30 years since François-Paul Journe completed his first timepiece, a tourbillon pocket watch, the Historical Anniversary Tourbillon "T30" is essentially that pocket watch remade for the wrist. 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Introducing The MB&F LM101 Frost With A Traditional Gilt Finish (With Price)

Arguably its most classical timepiece to date, the LM101 Frost from MB&F is decorated front and back in a traditional frosted finish conceived by Kari Voutilainen.

Conceived as avant-garde interpretations of 19th century watchmaking, the MB&F Legacy Machines blend classical watchmaking with founder Maximilian Büsser's inimitable cocktail of mechanics and design. That 18th century inspiration has reached it Zenith with the LM101 Frost, a pair of limited editions that possess a fine, gilt frosted finish on the dial and movement.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Up Close With The Patek Philippe 5170G, Black Dial With Breguet Numerals (Original Photos & Price)

Introduced at Baselworld 2015, the Ref. 5170G-010 is the latest iteration of Patek Philippe's hand-wind chronograph, featuring a black dial with Breguet numerals, and the best looking yet.

Neither novel nor creative, the combination of Breguet numerals and feuille (leaf-shaped) hands nevertheless works well. Extremely well in fact, making the Patek Philippe Ref. 5170G-010 that only just made its debut at Baselworld its most attractive looking chronograph to date. 

Sunday, 12 April 2015

A Detailed Look At The Seiko Credor Eichi II - The Pinnacle Of Japanese Watchmaking

The Seiko Eichi II is perhaps the ultimate in Japanese watchmaking, a delicately simple timepiece executed with an exceptional devotion to quality and refinement. As movement finishing goes, the Eichi II is up there with the greats.

A simple premise lies behind the Seiko Eichi: a hand-wound, time-only wristwatch of unparalleled quality. That guiding philosophy was first realised with the Credor Eichi I, and then refined in its successor, the Eichi II. Introduced in August last year, the Seiko Eichi II made its international debut at Baselworld 2015.

The Eichi II maintains the key ingredients of the first generation, simple, functional aesthetics combined with the best materials - platinum, porcelain and blued steel. Some improvements are cosmetic, like the larger case diameter to accommodate modern tastes or the platinum deployant buckle. Others are fundamental, like the impetus to make as much of the watch as possible, which is why the porcelain dial is painted in-house. 

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Introducing The Girard-Perregaux Neo Tourbillon In DLC Titanium (With Original Photos & Price)

A modern take on the iconic Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges, the Neo Tourbillon is now available in a DLC-coated titanium case that lets the gilded gears and tourbillon regulator take centerstage. 

One of the most distinctive tourbillon movements ever, the Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges derives its signature aesthetic from the linear layout of the movement and the trio of horizontal bridges. Last year Girard-Perregaux unveiled the first Neo Tourbillon, replacing the traditional gold bridges with arched titanium bridges. Now the titanium bridges are matched with a titanium case coated in diamond-like carbon (DLC).

Up Close With The Urwerk UR-110 Eastwood - Where Wood Replaces Metal (With Original Photos & Price)

Exotic woods replace metal in the Urwerk UR-110 Eastwood, the final run of the UR-110, with Macassar ebony or red ebony carefully machined to form the front plate.

Certain woods can be nearly as hard as metal, making them exceptionally hard to machine. Historically Urwerk's prowess has been in machining exceptionally complex case forms (the 103, 201 and Opus V were groundbreaking in their day) in metal, a skill that has now been applied to wood for the first time. Instead of Urwerk the conventional steel or platinum, the front plate of the UR-110 Eastwood is made of hard wood, either Macassar ebony or red ebony. 

Friday, 10 April 2015

Introducing The RGM 801 Corps of Engineers, With A Fired Enamel Dial (With Specs & Price)

American watchmaker RGM has just unveiled the 801 Corps of Engineers featuring a fired enamel dial and a design modelled on railroad pocket watches, as well as an American made movement that may be inspired by the Swiss.

Named after its founder Roland G. Murphy, RGM watches are often modelled on vintage American timepieces, and so it is with the 801 Corps of Engineers. Railroad pocket watches used by the US Army Corps of Engineers during the first World War are the inspiration for the 801 Corps of Engineers, giving it an aesthetic that is attractively functional, and instantly recognisable as the standard look for early 20th century military timepieces. 

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Up Close With The IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar And The New Calibre 52000 Automatic (With Original Photos & Price)

IWC introduced its first ever annual calendar at SIHH 2015 with the Portugieser Annual Calendar, that is also equipped with the new calibre 52000 movement. 

Amongst the slew of new Portugieser watches unveiled at SIHH 2015, the Portugieser Annual Calendar is the most novel. The complication is a first for IWC, and it's built on the newly developed calibre 52000 seven-day automatic. Slightly reminiscent of a vintage Portugieser but thoroughly modern in construction, the Annual Calendar encapsulates the clever blending of high horology and high tech.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Introducing The Tiffany & Co. CT60, A New Beginning In Mechanical Watches (With Original Photos & Price)

Tiffany & Co. is getting back into the business of mechanical watches with the CT60, an accessibly priced line of self-winding timepieces modelled on a wristwatch once owned by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Two years ago Tiffany & Co. established a factory in sunny southern Switzerland, a beachhead for its strategy to establish itself in mechanical watchmaking. That strategy begins with the CT60, timepieces with a vintage bent equipped with automatic movements. Together with the East West driver's watch, the CT60 illustrates the direction of Tiffany & Co.'s timepieces: vintage-inspired and accessibly priced.

While the CT60 is new, Tiffany & Co.'s involvement in watchmaking is not. The New York jeweller has been retailing watches for over 150 years, most notably as the earliest retailer of Patek Philippe in America. It even opened its own watch factory in Geneva in 1874, which it subsequently sold to Patek Philippe.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Swatch Collection Of 5800 Watches Sells For US$6 Million at Sotheby's

The extraordinary Dunkel Collection Swatch watches has just sold for 46.48 million Hong Kong dollars, or just over US$6 million. With over 5800 timepieces in the collection, it sold for about US$1000 per watch.

Sotheby's in Hong Kong has just sold the Dunkel Collection of Swatch watches for HK$46.48 million, including the buyer's premium, or more than four times the estimate of HK$10 million. The buyer was a "European institution" according to the auction house. 

Comprising some 5800 watches collected over nearly 25 years by European collector Paul Dunkel, the collection is the largest Swatch collection ever sold, surpassing the lot sold by Phillips for HK$51 million in 2011 that was made up of 4363 watches.

Up Close With The Clé de Cartier, A Completely New Case Style With A Fresh, Entry Level In-House Movement (With Original Photos & Price)

Cartier introduced the cushion-shaped Clé de Cartier at SIHH 2015, along with the new calibre 1847 MC inside, positioning it as the entry level model in its offering of watches with in-house movements.

Classics like the Tank and Santos are the foundation of Cartier's watch collection, having been in production for over a century. But every few years Cartier will unveil a new case style, ranging from the traditional looking Ballon Bleu to the modern Calibre de Cartier. Unveiled only earlier this year, the Clé de Cartier tends towards traditional design, with a cushion-shaped case and the signature Cartier dial. 

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Zenith's History In Pilot's Watches Explained In Five Timepieces

From the A. Cairelli chronographs of the sixties to the Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 equipped with the 5011 K movement, Zenith has a strong claim to being of the most key manufacturers of aviator's timepieces. Here I explain Zenith's history in pilot's instruments with five significant timekeepers.

Zenith started making pilot's watches in the infancy of aviation when planes were made of wire and fabric. When French aviator Louis Blériot became the first man to fly across the English Channel in 1909, he had on his wrist a Zenith pilot's watch, beginning the brand's long history as a maker of aviation timepieces and instruments. 

Up Close With The Kari Voutilainen Masterpiece 7 Decimal Repeater "Seven Daughters Of Atlas"

The Masterpiece 7 was one of Kari Voutilainen's earlier watches, a LeCoultre ebauche completed as a decimal repeater with a second time zone function, inside a hunter-style case with a hand-engraved back.

Completed just under 10 years ago, the Masterpiece 7 was one of Kari Voutilainen's early works, dating from the same period as the Observatoire, arguably the watch that made him famous. Like the Observatoire and most of his other watches made then, the Masterpiece 7 started life as a movement blank, or ebauche, made by LeCoultre about a century ago. Voutilainen made the components to finish the movement, converting it into a decimal repeater, added a second time zone feature, and decorated it to a exemplary standard.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Introducing The Tiffany & Co. East West Driver's Watch (With Original Photos & Pricing)

Modelled on early twentieth century wristwatches with a ninety degree twist, the East West is a retro-style driver's watch designed to be read horizontally. Vintage-inspired without being derivative, the East West is just crying out to be made mechanical and for men.

Inspired by a 1940s purse watch from its archives, the Tiffany & Co. East West is laid out horizontally in the style of a driver's watch, timepieces popular in the early days of the automobile. These had dials that were angled so that they could be read with the hands on the wheel. 

Friday, 3 April 2015

AUCTION WATCH: Ten Picks From Phillips' Glamorous Day-Date Geneva Sale

Phillips will start off its watch auction season with "Glamorous Day-Date", a thematic sale dedicated to the Rolex "President", that features some of the rarest Day-Date variations ever made.

On 9 May the newly formed watch department at Phillips led by Aurel Bacs will start its auctions with the "Glamorous Day-Date", dedicated to the Rolex Day-Date. Of all the major Rolex wristwatch models, the Day-Date is arguably the least appreciated and exploited on the auction market. Despite it being the priciest model line from Rolex, the Day-Date does not often reach the stratospheric prices Rolex sports watches do. Thematic sales are a tried and tested route to firing up demand for a brand or watch, as the Christie's Daytona sale demonstrated.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Up Close With The Hajime Asaoka Tourbillon #1 (With Original Photos, Review & Price)

Designed and produced almost entirely by one man in a home workshop, the Tourbillon #1 was Hajime Asaoka's first timepiece and proof that is he one of the best emerging independent watchmakers.

Hajime Asaoka is a remarkably accomplished watchmaker, despite having no formal training. Working from a converted apartment, he learnt the craft from books, taught himself machining and created his first watch six years ago, the Tourbillon #1 (which was also the base for his collaboration with artist Takeshi Murakami). 

Hand-wound with a one minute tourbillon, the Tourbillon #1 set the template for the rest of his timepieces, boasting careful hand-finishing, precise machining and an unusual Art Deco inspired aesthetic. More importantly, it proves what a motivated and talented individual can accomplish with minimal training or equipment.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

AUCTION WATCH: Two Dozen Highlights From Phillips' Inaugural Geneva Watch Auction (Part 2)

Here's the second part of a series of highlights from the inaugural Phillips watch sale, "The Geneva Watch Auction: One", set to take place in Geneva next month.

Paul Boutros, International Strategy Advisor at Phillips' watch department, has selected just over two dozen highlights from the upcoming Philips sale (see part one for the first instalment). A collector, expert and journalist, Paul's taste is sophisticated and eclectic, resulting an a dozen varied and interesting timepieces.

AUCTION WATCH: Two Dozen Highlights From Phillips' Inaugural Geneva Watch Auction (Part 1)

The inaugural sale by the newly formed Phillips watch department, "The Geneva Watch Auction: One", will take place on May 10. Here's a selection of highlights from the sale, curated by watch expert Paul Boutros.

Phillips announced late last year it would form a watch department, confirming the expectations of many in the business. With Aurel Bacs leading the watch department, a great deal was from Phillips' inaugural watch sale given Bacs' stellar run at Christie's, where many record prices were set

The first Phillips sale takes place in Geneva next month on May 10, with an impressive line-up of watches encompassing the million or half million dollar Rolex and Patek Philippe watches that are de rigeur, as well as a host of other interesting and collectable watches. Paul Boutros, a New York based watch expert and International Strategy Advisor at Phillips' watch department, picked a few highlights in an exclusive preview.

IWC Introduces The Unique Portofino Monopusher Edition “Tribeca Film Festival 2015”

IWC has created a unique Portofino Monopusher Edition “Tribeca Film Festival 2015” for the eponymous event, that will be auctioned with all proceeds going to the Tribeca Film Institute.

Now in its third year as partner of the Tribeca Film Festival (TFF), IWC has just unveiled the third edition of the wristwatch for the TFF, the Portofino Monopusher Edition “Tribeca Film Festival 2015”. A piece unique with a grey dial and red chronograph counters, the Portofino TFF is all the more interesting because it's the first time the Portofino Monopusher chronograph has made it to market. The watch was revealed briefly at SIHH 2013, then quickly withdrawn.