Friday, 29 July 2011

Hands-on with the Celsius X VI II LeDIX mobile phone with tourbillon

The Celsius LeDIX is not just any mobile phone but a clamshell phone that contains a mechanical watch movement as well as a tourbillon regulator. Contradictions abound with this phone. The LeDIX is a beautifully crafted, but at the same time it eminently useless in a practical sense. It is a $400,000 mobile phone, yet it is brilliant commercial idea. 

Celsius X VI II LeDIX

The LeDIX belongs to the category of luxury items that are inspired by watchmaking in terms of craftsmanship, along with Roland Iten belts and Vertu phones. Made of brushed titanium with polished, bevelled edges, and fitted with ebony wood inserts, everything about the LeDIX feels solid and fitted together precisely. I particularly like the way the cover for the battery jumps open with a reassuring click. Attention to detail is apparent throughout, like in the applied indices on the watch dial.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

A superb report on Vacheron Constantin

Dials at Stern Creations
Photo credit Paul Boutros
Paul Boutros has just posted a terrific, five part report on his visit to Vacheron Constantin in Switzerland for the launch of the New York boutique edition watches which includes the wonderfully retro Historique American 1921. His report includes his visit to dial maker Stern Creations which is notably interesting, as well as the VC facilities in Le Sentier and Plans-les-Ouates (or Plans-les-watch as wags call it).

VC has been very active lately. The Treasures of Vacheron Constantin exhibition illustrating its history, which I explored in detail, is still running in Singapore.


VC Historiques American 1921 Boutique New York
Photo credit The Hour Lounge

Sunday, 24 July 2011

75 years of the speaking clock

Sara Mendes de Costa
Voice of the Speaking Clock
Photo credit BBC News
When I was young I used to call 1611 for the time here in Singapore. The BBC has just run a fascinating article on that service in the UK, known as the speaking clock, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. According to the piece the speaking clock is accurate "to within five thousandths of a second" because it gets its time signal from the atomic clocks at the National Phyiscal Laboratory. But I'd  assume there is a small error in the time since it is read out to the caller, which takes a few seconds. The article notes the service still gets 30 million calls each year despite the internet, mobile phones and GPS. Who'd have imagined that?


Saturday, 23 July 2011

Hublot Oceanographic 4000 for Only Watch 2011

For Only Watch 2011 Hublot has created a unique red, white and black Oceanographic 4000 dive watch. Launched at Baselworld 2011, the watch is water resistant to 4000 m with a case and bezel in carbon fibre. Not my favourite material given the questionable long term durability. It is a massive watch at 48 mm but lightweight thanks to the case material.

This is not terrible creative - the only difference from the regular edition is the colour scheme.


Thursday, 21 July 2011

An explanation of the Cartier Astroregulateur

Unveiled at SIHH earlier this year, the Cartier Astroregulateur is a new look at the age old problem of gravity induced variations of the balance frequency and amplitude. Carole Forestier's solution is to fix the balance to the rotor, ensuring it always reverts to an upright position when the watch is vertical. I explain the watch with the help of diagrams from Cartier.


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Pateks in Geneva

A blog reader recently sent me these pictures. The first is a pair of rarely seen Patek 5016 grandes complications in rose gold and platinum, both with black dials. But where are they?

Patek Philippe 5016R and 5016P

The second photo reveals the location - Patek Philippe itself. A group of collectors went there to visit.

Patek Philippe 3970P

Thanks for the contribution.


Monday, 18 July 2011

When It Comes to Buying a Watch, Don’t Miss the Forest for the Trees

My first column has just been published on, the online portal of the magazine August Man.

I opine on the important factors to consider when buying a watch and not be distracted: "One must recognise and appreciate that key element. One cannot look for a quality that is not there or that is totally incongruous with that particular watch or class of watches. To use an automotive analogy, one cannot criticise a Rolls-Royce for having too much wood veneer. Neither can one call a Ferrari a bad car for being unable to seat a family of seven comfortably.


Corum Golden Bridge Automatic for Only Watch 2011

Corum Golden Bridge Automatic
for Only Watch 2011
Corum's Golden Bridge, the brand's iconic watch originally developed by Vincent Calabrese, was once legendary for its poor reliability. But it has undergone a tremendous makeover in recent years. Reengineered by Laurent Besse of the now defunct Les Artisan Horlogers, who amongst other things helped develop the MB&F HM4 Thunderbolt, the Golden Bridge became the Ti Bridge and then this year it was offered in automatic form. Wound by a linear weight, like the TAG Heuer Monaco V4, a unique version of the Golden Bridge Automatic is being contributed to Only Watch 2011 by Corum.

This unique piece is housed in a Titalyt coated titanium case with red accents on the strap. Only aesthetic changes versus the regular model but attractive nevertheless.

I examined and photographed the regular version of the Golden Bridge Automatic some weeks ago and will be posting my photos of it soon.


Sunday, 17 July 2011

COMPARISON: The Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570 White Vs Black

I encountered the new Rolex Explorer II ref. 216570, launched at Baselworld 2011, at the Rolex boutique run by Lexia in Ginza, Tokyo, a few weeks ago. Because both dial versions were present, I managed to compare the two. 

The new Rolex Explorer II ref. 216570

I own its predecessor, the Explorer 2 ref. 16570, in the white dial variant, which I always preferred over the black dial 16570. But for the new Explorer II I very much prefer the black dial for several reasons.

Making of the Vacheron Constantin Dove watch for Only Watch 2011

Engraving the dial of the Dove watch
Photo courtesy Alex G at The Hour Lounge
Over at the official Vacheron Constantin forum, Alex G has posted a superb series of photos detailing the process of making the unique Dove watch created by VC for Only Watch 2011. It illustrates the engraving, gemsetting, guillochage and enamelling of the dial.


Thursday, 14 July 2011

Hands-On With The Seiko 130th Anniversary Commemorative Collection

I wrote about these in an earlier post but recently had the chance to see the whole collection in person, save for the Credor minute repeater, at Seiko Watch Corp. office in Tokyo. The crowd favourite, and also my personal preference (I will have one on my wrist by August hopefully), is the 130th anniversary Grand Seiko hand wind models, in steel, platinum and yellow gold (refs. SBGW033, SBGW039 and SBGW040 respectively). 1300 pieces in steel, and 130 each in gold and platinum.

Grand Seiko 130th anniversary watches
from left: platinum, gold and steel

(Update Oct 2011: I just received the steel edition SBGW033 and these are my initial impressions. In short I love it.)

Of the three I like the steel and yellow gold best. The platinum looks slightly dull and monochrome, while the steel has a beautiful blued steel seconds hand that is perfect. And the yellow gold looks perfectly vintage. Interestingly the dial colour of all three are not identical - the steel has an ivory tone on the dial while the platinum is silver, and the gold in somewhere in between.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Louis Vuitton Tambour Diving II Chronograph Only Watch 2011

I quite like the Louis Vuitton Tambour dive watch, the original one with the mother-of-pearl second subdial, despite its lack of horological credibility and the branding. For Only Watch 2011 Louis Vuitton has created a unique Tambour Diving II Chronograph which looks good.

According to the press release it has a La Joux-Perret calibre, which I am certain is a Valjoux 7750 modified to have a column wheel instead of cam. The 45.5 mm case is white gold with black PVD coating and is waterproof to 100 m.


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The most expensive mobile phone in the world

Celsius X V II
Is the Celsius X VI II Papillon LeDIX. Crafted from titanium with a variety of inserts available, pictured are ebony wood inserts, the phone features a flying tourbillon and watch which are wound by opening and closing the clamshell phone.

The watch movement is crafted by the ex-BNB folks now at Hublot; I saw parts for this phone at Hublot in Nyon when I visited. You can hear the tourbillon ticking away, quite audibly, while using the phone. And there is a function to reduce the volume if the call is tedious, so the user can just listen to the tourbillon.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Wristwatches forgotten, then rediscovered in the NYT

A few months ago, the New York Times ran an article that implied the demise of the wristwatch. I disagreed.

And now the NYT concurs in a piece from several days ago titled "Watches Are Rediscovered by the Cellphone Generation", the same generation that the earlier article thought had forgotten them.

Nice to know the NYT times agrees.


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Breaking news: PPR acquires 50.1% of Sowind

PPR, owner of Gucci and Puma, has just acquired 50.1% of Sowind Group which comprises Girard Perregaux and JeanRichard. PPR previously held a minority stake in Sowind. Since the passing of Gino Macaluso, there has been speculation on the future direction of Sowind so this is not unexpected. With PPR's minority stake this was long expected. Both his sons will continue in their roles running GP and JR respectively.

This acquisition marks the end of the independence of one of the last family owned high end watchmakers.


Monday, 4 July 2011

Travelling from July 5-11.

More interesting content when I return.


An interview with Eva Leube

Eva Leube Ari
The Sydney Tarts, an Australian group of watch and food lovers, just posted an interview with watchmaker Eva Leube. Australia's first independent watchmaker, Eva's first creation is the curved Ari, which takes its cues from the Movado Polyplan and Gruen Curvex of the last century.


Sunday, 3 July 2011

A visit to the Ikepod pop-up store in Paris

Run by watch retailer Antonine Macedo, the Ikepod pop-up store in Paris is housed in a space that will host other temporary stores. The Ikepod store will stay up till the end of July. My good friend Francois-Xavier takes us on a tour of the store.


Saturday, 2 July 2011

Live photos of the Vacheron Constantin Dove Watch for Only Watch 2011

The inimitable Alex G has brought us live and exclusive photos of the Vacheron Constantin Dove Watch made for Only Watch 2011. They can be seen on The Hour Lounge.


Friday, 1 July 2011

Vacheron Constantin's MC Escher inspired Dove watch for Only Watch 2011

Decorated with red and white dove shaped tessellations, the Vacheron Constantin unique piece, the Métiers d’Art Perspectives d’Art “Dove”, for Only Watch 2011 is all about the dial. Decorated with a repeated motif of doves in red and white, inspired by the tessellations of MC Escher, the dial is engraved, enamelled and set with diamonds. Specifically, according to the press release, the dial includes:

Engraving with champlevé enamelling
Red birds: translucide enamelling
White birds: opalescent enamelling
Gold birds: hand-guilloché
One bird set with 40 brilliant-cut diamonds, total weight of approx 0.08 carat