Thursday, 30 June 2011

Eterna sold to China Haidian

Bloomberg, citing Swiss business paper Bilanz, reports that Eterna has just been acquired by China Haidian from the Porsche family. Listed in Hong Kong, China Haidian owns Chinese brands Ebohr and Rossini, as well as the recently founded Swiss brand Codex. The same report notes Eterna is the second Swiss brand (as opposed to a movement or component maker) to be purchased by a Chinese group, after Milus was acquired by Hong Kong jewellery retailer Chow Tai Fook (who in turn bought it from bankrupt Hong Kong watchmaker Peace Mark) a few years back.


Monday, 27 June 2011

Just paid for my Mk II Kingston

Mk II Watches, run by Bill Yao, began as a watch repair and modification shop, especially known for its aftermarket parts like hands and dials that allowed one to modify a Seiko diver or ETA-based watch.

Then Mk II began making its own brand watches which were all remakes or reinterpretations of various famous vintage sports watches like the Rolex Explorer and Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Milspec. That was so successful Mk II ceased selling parts for watch modification. 

Mk II Kingston
Photo courtesy Mk II Watches

Last year Mk II embarked on an interesting project, the Kingston, so named because of the Jamaica setting of Dr No. The Kingston is a remake of the Rolex Submariner 6538 and 6536 known as the James Bond Submariners as one was worn by Sean Connery in Dr No.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

A Tour of "Treasures of Vacheron Constantin", An Exhibition Covering The History Of The Geneva Watchmaking

Running from 24 June to 14 August 2011 at the National Museum of Singapore, "Treasures of Vacheron Constantin - A legacy of watchmaking since 1755" is an extensive and fascinating exhibition showcasing VC timepieces from its beginnings until the present day.

Various fascinating timepieces are on display, including the original Americaine 1921 and a grande complication pocket watch presented to King Fouad of Egypt. The sheer number of watches and complications explain why VC is traditionally considered one of the 'big three watchmakers'.

Friday, 24 June 2011

The new Patek Philippe 5235 Annual Calendar Regulator

Patek Philippe 5235
Annual Calendar Regulateur
Just unveiled officially earlier this week in Geneva, the new 5235 Annual Calendar Regulator contains the new 31-260 REG QA (which obviously stands for regulateur quantieme annuel) movement. Though based on the classic microrotor cal. 240, the new 31-260 movement is vastly reworked. It is the first new Patek calibre to designed to use the Spiromax hairspring and Pulsomax escape wheel and anchor, which are etched from silicon.

In addition to the silicium parts, the new movement has some interesting features. Most notably it beats at 3.4 Hz or 23,040 bph, which allows for a better rate. Alongside that Patek has also increased the power reserve to 60 hours (vs 48 hours for the 240) and installed a gear train with new teeth profiles on the wheels for better energy transmission.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

News: Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Roue Carrée Seconde for Only Watch 2011

Maurice Lacroix's contribution to Only Watch 2011 is a unique Masterpiece Roue Carrée Seconde. The Masterpiece Roue Carrée Seconde is so named for its non-round gears on the dial - the seconds is indicated by a square wheel which is itself driven by a cloverleaf-shaped wheel.

Because the gears are not round, the teeth are have to be precisely irregular in order to mesh correctly. So the gears are etched from silicon Sigatec and decorated with a motif that echoes the shape of the gears. And because they are etched from silicon, it is possible to etch a microscopic Only Watch logo is on the square gear.

IWC Introduces Tribute to Patrouille Suisse Pilots Chronograph

IWC just unveiled a new limited edition Fliegerchronograph on its Facebook page. The Pilot's Watch Chronograph Edition Patrouille Suisse is dedicated to the acrobatic flying team of the Swiss Air Force. It has a grey dial and jet silhouette at the tip of the centre seconds hand. This is not striking different from the regular Pilots Chronograph, though the sandblasted steel case is unusual. I don't recall any steel IWC Pilot's watch with such a case finish before this one.

300 pieces will be made and they are available only in Switzerland.


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Introducing the Hotel L’Orologio, the watch-themed hotel in Italy

I just came across this on HH Journal. Owned by watch collector Sandro Fratini, Hotel L'Orologio has three floors, each dedicated to a specific watch brand - Rolex, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin - which are favourites of the owner. And each of the 54 rooms is dedicated to a particular model of each brand. 

Italians are one of the great watch collecting cultures, along with the Japanese, so it is not that surprising to find a hotel like that in Italy.

The hotel is part of Whythebest Hotels, an Italian boutique hotel chain. L'Orologio ranks nine on Tripadvisor's list of Florence hotels, with a price of EUR161-354 a night.


All photos courtesy Whythebest Hotels

Monday, 20 June 2011

A bit more on the Patek Philippe 5235 regulator

A few days ago I made a post about the new Patek Philippe 5235 regulator with annual calendar. It will be launched officially on 22 June 2011 in Geneva. What I know now is that the white gold case is 41 mm in diameter, and the new 31-260 movement is 2.53 mm high. The seconds are at six o'clock and off-centre hours are at 12.


Update: Full news on the new Patek 5235 Annual Calendar Regulator.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

The future of the watch in a post card

Post Secret is a website that posts pictures of postcards with a secret written on them, submitted by readers of the site. Many of them are sad, haunting or disturbing. But the latest update to the site contains an absolutely hilarious post card that might spell doom for the industry if it were the secret of millions around the world.


Photo credit Post Secret

Laurence Graff in the NYT

Photo credit Graff Diamonds
The New York Times just ran an article on Laurence Graff, the ultra-successful and somewhat mysterious diamond merchant. It's an interesting piece that explains Graff's business and background. Thrown in are some choice quotes, like when Graff talks about Hollywood celebrities wearing big, borrowed gems, “They don’t have that sort of money.”


Saturday, 18 June 2011

A look at Australian watchmaker Eva Leube

Eva Leube watch
Photo credit Sydney Tarts
Earlier this year Eva Leube, a watchmaker of German descent now living in Sydney, Australia, presented her first watch - proudly made in Australia. Before moving to Australia, Ms Leube worked for Thomas Prescher. Her first timepiece is a curved timepiece in the tradition of the Gruen Curvex and Movado Polyplan. 

The Sydney Tarts, a group of watch and food lovers who gather regularly in Sydney, posted a report on Eva Leube on their blog. It's fairly brief but worth reading for a look at one of the most interesting watchmaker to emerge this year.


Friday, 17 June 2011

Photoessay: The De Bethune DB28T tourbillon

Launched earlier this year with the other novelties including the DB28, the De Bethune DB28T uses the same high-beat tourbillon movement as the stunning Dream Watch 3.

The DB28T has a similar aesthetic to the Dream Watch - it is extravagantly shiny and a sight to behold. Unlike the Dream Watch which has an asymmetrical case, the DB28T has skeletonised spring loaded lugs first seen on the Maxichrono (which itself has not been seen).

This allows the DB28T to hug the wrist; coupled with its light titanium case it sits extremely comfortably on almost any wrist. The dial for the version pictured here is a mirror-finished blackened titanium.

The new Patek Philippe 5235 regulator

Patek Philippe 5235G
Photo credit Bruno.M1
The latest issue of its in-house magazine shows the new Patek Philippe 5235G annual calendar with regulator dial, containing the new 31-260 movement. Like the 240 it's a microrotor calibre but it is a new calibre. I like the elegant, yet modern, shapes of the bridges.

As far as I can remember, this is the first Patek with unusual time display since the 1989 anniversary jump hour. 


Update: Full news on the new Patek 5235 Annual Calendar Regulator.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

September launch for Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave

Citizen just announced the Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave will be launched in September 2011 with a retail price of JPY336,000 including Japanese tax of 5%, which is about USD4000 less tax. It will be a limited edition of 990 pieces. Also unveiled was a teaser site for the watch.

Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave
1. RX: receiving radio waves
2. Weekday, daylight saving time ON / OFF
3. NO: Radio reception failure
4. Date
5. Total 24
6. Notations City
7. OK: Radio reception success
Unlike traditional radio controlled watches, the Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave receives its time signals from GPS satellites, meaning it will be synchronised to the correct time anywhere in the world, as long as a signal can be received. In contrast a radio controlled watch only works in certain countries where the radio time signal is broadcast.

The watch case measures 48.5 mm wide, and is made of ceramic and Duratec DLC-coated steel, on a rubber strap. It's solar powered with a power reserve of 2.5 years when fully charged.

When receiving the satellite signals it is dead-on of course, but without signals it runs +/- 15 seconds a month. And in addition to the time it has a perpetual calendar and world time function.
Thanks to my good friend KIH for bringing this to my attention.

Update Oct 2011: Live photos of one of the first Satellite Wave watches to be delivered- worth a look, it is really cool.


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The first modern minute repeater from Glashütte

Tutima Hommage Minute Repeater
The first modern minute repeater from Glashütte comes not from any of the established high-end watchmakers, but from Tutima. Better known for its military chronograph that was once issued to NATO pilots and its remake of the Luftwaffe Fliegerchronograph, Tutima just opened its new factory in Glashütte earlier this year, joining Lange, Glashütte Original and Nomos. But more interestingly, along with the new factory Tutima also announced the Hommage Minute Repeater, the first minute repeater from Glashütte. 

Rumour had it that Lange had a repeater in the works, but nothing was shown at SIHH 2011. So the first repeater from Glashütte emerges from an unexpected entrant.

De Bethune DB25 for Only Watch 2011

For Only Watch 2011 De Bethune has created a unique DB25. It is an outrageously shiny and blue vision of watchmaking inspired by the past, in the same vein as the De Bethune Dream Watch and DB25 T regulator tourbillon. This is a wandering hours watch displaying the hours and minutes at six o'clock on two sandblasted sterling silver discs, with Arabic numerals for the minutes and Romans for the hours.

De Bethune DB25 for Only Watch 2011

The blued titanium dial - concave in the middle and convex on the outer ring giving the impression of the sky - depicts the night sky of 8 January 1297, when François Grimaldi, disguised as a Franciscan monk, entered Monaco castle only to have his men follow and capture the fort. Set in the titanium dial are white gold or diamond stars, representing the 115 stars in the nocturnal sky on that particular night. 

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Unique Lange Zeitwerk to the auctioned for Kidz Horizon charity in Singapore

On 27 Aug 2011, a piece unique Lange Zeitwerk - in white gold with grey dial and engraved "1/1 SGP 2011" - will be auctioned with all proceeds going to the Kidz Horizon charity in Singapore. It was contributed by the family of the late Duncan Wang, a prominent watch collector based in Singapore. Kidz Horizon benefits children with chronic illnesses whose parents cannot afford treatment.

In addition to the grey dial and white gold case - no other Zeitwerk has a grey dial - this watch is also distinguished by the engraving on the back. According to the organisers: "This piece being offered here is even more special. Designated as a pièce unique with the inscription  “1/1” on the case back, together with the commemorative phrase, “SGP 2011”, this watch is unique indeed. These two inscriptions are highly unusual for A. Lange & Söhne. The company rarely takes special requests for limited editions, and almost never with the inscription indicating that it is a pièce unique, or with the name of a city and year. The special exception was made by Lange CEO Wilhelm Schmid, as recognition to the late Duncan Wang as a special collector and a friend of the brand."

Hands-on with the MB&F HM4 "Flying Panda" for Only Watch 2011

Created in collaboration with Chinese contemporary artist Huang Hankang, the MB&F HM4 Only Watch is a unique Horological Machine No. 4 with a hand-engraved, white gold panda riding the machine. 

On the wrist this looks like a regular HM4, which already makes a tremendous statement in itself. Shaped like the pod racer from Star Wars, the HM4 is the most radical Horological Machine from MB&F.

Monday, 13 June 2011

New Seiko flagship store in Tokyo

Wako in Ginza taken on a rainy evening in 2009
Seiko has just announced it will open a new flagship store in Tokyo, located on the first level of the Wako department store in Ginza. Before this the Seiko store run by Wako (which is owned by Seiko Group) was located round the block from the main Wako store at Ginza junction; various other Wako stores including a cafe are scattered around the area as well. Though the current Seiko salon is well equipped, it's not on the main Ginza thoroughfare as the Wako department store is. 

When the renovated Wako store opens on 24 June, the first level will display Seiko watches and the basement will showcase Seiko clocks. Currently the basement is the fine watch department of Wako, displaying high-end watches of all brands.

I think this is a smart move to showcase the Seiko brand in a premier location. And it's also good news that Wako is renovating; the few times I stepped in before it felt like an extraordinarily stiff and conservative, but very high-end, store.


The MB&F HM4 Only Watch on Max Büsser

A few weeks ago MB&F unveiled the HM4 Only Watch, created for the Only Watch 2011 charity auction which will happen in Monte Carlo in September. Working with Chinese artist Huang Hankang, Maximilian Büsser used the Horological Machine No. 4 Thunderbolt as a base for the HM4 Only Watch piece unique. It features a detachable panda flying on the HM4.

Here are a couple of photos of the HM4 on Max Büsser's wrist. The panda isn't actually very evident on the wrist, unless you look closely. More photos of the watch soon.


Update: Many more photos of the MB&F HM4 Only Watch.

Up Close with the Zenith Captain Winsor Annual Calendar

Launched at Baselworld 2011, the Zenith Captain Winsor Annual Calendar is the first El Primero to have an annual calendar function (and an especially innovative one at that). It displays the date, day and month in easily legible windows, making it eminently useful. And it is superb value for money to boot. I am liking this a lot.

Zenith Captain Winsor annual calendar

Most notably the annual calendar is the same innovative and simplified 9-part mechanism that Ludwig Oeschlin designed for the stark MIH watch. Created to raise money for the Musée International d’Horlogerie in La Chaux-de-Fonds, where Mr Oeschlin is the curator, the MIH watch sells for a mere CHF5000 with 8% Swiss VAT. Mr Oeschlin is an ingenious and prolific horologist best known for its work at Ulysse-Nardin which included the Freak caroussel, and more recently his own brand ochs und junior.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

A quick review of the Richard Mille RM035 Rafael Nadal

I've worn the Richard Mille RM035 Rafael Nadal for a few days now. I poked fun at the watch when it was launched, but after experiencing its ethereal lightness I have to admit it is a mighty cool watch.

It is not haute horlogerie, in fact the level of finishing and construction is below par for a watch of this price, but the RM035 is so unorthodox that it is uniquely compelling.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The first look at the unique Ikepod Hourglass for Only Watch 2011

For Only Watch 2011 Ikepod has created a unique red mini hour glass. The regular hourglasses are clear glass, while the Only Watch piece unique is covered in transparent, red-tinted lacquer, giving the hourglass its striking appearance. Launched at Baselworld 2011, the mini hourglass is a 10 minute timer and stands about 15 cm tall, unlike its larger brother which is a 60 minute hour glass. The following video clip illustrates the hourglass and captures the soothing sound of the nanoballs rushing into the lower section of the hour glass when it's turned over.

More on this unique hour glass soon. In the mean time enjoy the pictures below.


Monday, 6 June 2011

Introducing the Urwerk UR-103 Phoenix for Only Watch 2011

Yet another brand has revealed its contribution to Only Watch 2011. Urwerk just announced on its Facebook page, a unique white gold Urwerk UR-103 will go under the hammer in September at the Only Watch auction. The Urwerk UR-103 Phoenix is hand engraved by Jean-Vincent Huguenin with a phoenix rising from the ashes.


Rafael Nadal's RM027 to be auctioned for Only Watch 2011

Richard Mille has donated the actual ultra-light RM027 tourbillon worn by Rafael Nadal when he won the 2011 Monte Carlo Championships to Only Watch 2011. This RM 027 is also the pre-production prototype of the RM027 edition which will total 50 watches.

Richard Mille RM 027 Rafael Nadal

Friday, 3 June 2011

Hands-On with the Upside Down by Ludovic Ballouard

An FP Journe alumnus, Ludovic Ballouard struck out on his own two years ago and last year presented his first timepiece, the Upside Down. Though novel, the time display is easy to understand. Minutes and seconds are indicated with conventional hands.

The Ludovic Ballouard Upside Down

The hour, on the other hand, is indicated by the right side up hour disc indicated with a dot, while all the other hours are upside down. In the photo at left the time is 6:45 - notice the dot above the six disc.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Chopard's contribution for Only Watch 2011

For Only Watch 2011 Chopard's contribution is a piece unique LUC Engine One Tourbillon with a DLC coated titanium case and yellow accents. Not excessively creative by any stretch of the imagination but it is for charity.


Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Revisiting the De Bethune 2011 novelties

The De Bethune DB28
with blued titanium lugs
Pierre Jacques, the recently appointed CEO of De Bethune, and Alessandro Zanetta, son of De Bethune co-founder David, are in Singapore to present the brand's 2011 collection. I am a fan of the brand's products, which I find uniquely stunning, both visually and technically. Here are photos of the new watches I snapped at SIHH. They are the DB10 automatic, the DB25T tourbillon and the DB28. Photos after the jump.

More on the 2011 novelties to come soon.


REPORT: Panerai "Time and Space - Tribute to Galileo Galilei" Exhibition in Shanghai

Panerai just concluded the "Time and Space - Tribute to Galileo Galilei" exhibition in Shanghai, China. Held at the Shanghai Sculpture Space, the show displayed an incredibly comprehensive collection of vintage and modern Panerai watches, as well as artefacts from the Galileo Museum in Florence.

Panerai Luminor Egiziano c. 1956

Most, if not all, of the notable Panerai watches from past and present were on show. Every iteration of the Luminor and Radiomir conceivable, as well as everything else in between like the transitional models and Mare Nostrum. Especially notable was the comprehensive range of vintage Panerai from the Panerai museum in Florence which are rarely seen anywhere. The Egiziano, Slytech and Mare Nostrum were all part of the exhibition.