Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Introducing the Arnold & Son TB88 dead seconds chronometer

Arnold & Son will present an interesting watch at Baselworld 2012, the TB88. "TB" stands for "true beat", referring to the dead beat seconds at eight o'clock. Additionally the calibre has twin barrels providing 100 hours of power reserve.

This is simple yet interesting. It's a welcome departure from the Arnold & Son watches of recent vintage which were bizarrely complicated astronomical and longitude watches. I remember one year the brand unveiled a watch that I found nearly impossible to comprehend.

New Urban Jurgensen P8 automatic calibre with detent escapement

Last year Urban Jürgensen & Sønner unveiled the P8 chronometer containing the brand's first in-house movement, the manual wind UJS-08 with detent escapement, designed by Kari Voutilainen and Jean-Francois Mojon. This year the automatic version of the Ref. 11 chronometer with the P8 movement will be launched. According to UJS, this is the first of several calibres based on the P8 detent movement.

Urban Jurgensen P8 Chronometer Automatic
in platinum

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Yvan Arpa wins his lawsuit and commemorates it with a watch

Artya Son of a Gun
"Guns don’t always kill people,
time always does."
Yvan Arpa, the CEO of Artya, has an irreverent sense of humour, as evidenced by the Bye Bye Euro watch. He was embroiled in a legal battle with his former employer, Romain Jerome, the company of rusty Titanic steel fame, but he apparently won. To mark his victory he made a watch with lawsuit - literally:

"The “Rust” comes from the staples removed from all the legal papers from the past three years (it took Arpa’s team two weeks to take all the staples out and process them into the rusted bezel) and the “Dust” on the dial is from the ashes of all the legal papers, which were ceremoniously burnt."  

Results for JLC super complications at auction and an unsold IWC

JLC Gyrotourbillon 1 in white gold
A couple of days ago the Antiquorum sale in Hong Kong (which had its preview in Singapore cancelled with no notice) saw the sale of a trio of JLC super complications.

The Gyrotourbillon 1 in white gold hammered at HKD2,420,000 or about USD312,000 (including buyer's premium), while the Reverso Gyrotourbillon 2 sold for HKD1,820,000 which is equivalent to about USD235,000.

The Reverso a Triptyque sold for HKD2,540,000 or about USD328,000. All the JLCs sold for a bit above the estimates and in line with past prices.

And the other notable complication at the sale, a piece unique IWC Destriero Scafusia in platinum, went unsold. As I noted in my earlier post pre-auction, the USD220,000-270,000 estimate for the IWC seemed ambitious.


Monday, 27 February 2012

A simple get together

The Philippe Dufour Simplicity is a watch of myth for many. It is reputed to be the best finished modern wristwatch in the world. The Simplicity has competitors, like the Voutilainen Vingt-8, but it is still legendary. Mr Dufour is so good at that Seiko approached him for guidance in finishing their superlative Credor Spring Drive Eichi.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Photo essay: Urwerk UR-110 AlTiN blue limited edition

A few days ago a five piece limited edition Urwerk UR-110 Torpedo AlTiN was announced. Made for Singapore retailer The Hour Glass, this limited edition has blue numerals on the satellites and minute index. These are the first live photos of this edition.

Though the blue is a quiet shade of blue, the overall effect is very striking, especially with the red accents on the dial.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Photo essay: Hublot MP-02 Key of Time

The Hublot MP-02 Key of Time was conceived by Mathias Buttet while BNB Concept was still in existence. Back then it was known as La Clef du Temps, but after Hublot's takeover of BNB the watch was redesigned for the better and presented at Baselword 2011. This watch makes quite the statement, looking like a prop from a sci-fi movie.

The case is DLC-coated titanium and sits wide on the wrist. But the integrated rubber strap curves nicely so it sits well even on small wrists.

Hublot MP-02 Key of Time

When this was first presented by BNB it was on an awful rope bracelet. Now it looks tremendously better, in a sculpted case with vents and ridges like a superhero's suit. The colour scheme reminds me of the high-tech Citizen Satellite Wave though.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

A much less inspired charity watch auction

Photo courtesy Antiquorum
On 29 February in Milan, Antiquorum will auction several watches to benefit the charity “Help them Onlus”. The proceeds will be used to build schools in Serbia and the whole project is endorsed by the Embassy of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in Belgrade.

Unlike Only Watch 2011 which had several unique and outstanding watches, the catalogue for this auction is lacklustre and in some cases embarrassing.

Cartier for instance contributed a steel, quartz Tank Solo, one of the lowest priced watches in its collection. And IWC's watch is the discontinued Ingenieur with ceramic bezel (shown left). But I suppose it's for a good cause anyway.


Limited edition UR-110 Torpedo for The Hour Glass

Urwerk just announced a limited edition UR-110 Torpedo made exclusively for Singapore retailer The Hour Glass. First presented with an uncoated steel front plate last year, the UR-110 has already seen several variants, including the champagne coloured UR-110 ZrN.

This edition has a steel front plate coated in aluminium titanium nitride (AlTiN) paired with blue numerals and indices. Only five pieces will be made. The retail price is SGD199,000, or about USD160,000 which is a pretty big jump from the steel UR-110 but about the same as the ZrN.


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Hanhart to use scratch-resistant and nickel-free steel

German stopwatch maker Hanhart just announced it will be used for its wristwatch chronographs starting in 2012. The steel alloy, HDSPro® steel, has a hardness of 600 to 700 HV, compared to about 200 HV for the commonly used 316L steel. In addition HDS Pro is nickel-free, which is good news for those with nickel allergy.

This is not a coating technology, but rather a hardened steel, similar to Sinn's Tegiment or Damasko's ice-hardened steel. Overall it appears promising and very practical.

Thomas Morf, the former CEO of Carl F. Bucherer, took over Hanhart in 2011 and has injected new life into the company to reposition it as a sports chronograph maker. The use of this alloy is a logical step.

Hanhart is not the only watch company using this alloy. According to the alloy maker NB Technologie GmbH, German case maker Fricker is also a customer. Fricker is best known for being a contract manufacturer of watches for various small brands sold online.


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The clever Qlocktwo clock

Thanks to my colleague Don Corson, I discovered Qlocktwo. This clever clock is made in Germany by Biegert & Funk. It requires one to read the time - literally.

The time is spelled out by text on the clock that is lit by an LED backlight. The text tells the time to an accuracy of five minutes, and additional minutes after the five minute mark are indicated by dots at the corner of the clock.

So for instance the clock pictured at left reads 12:34 - "IT IS HALF PAST TWELVE" plus four dots at each corner. Reading the time takes a bit of thought, no difference from an exotic independent watch actually.

Friday, 17 February 2012

A visit to the Laurent Ferrier workshop

Paul Boutros has just posted a wonderfully photographed article on his visit to the Laurent Ferrier workshop in Geneva, where the beautifully finished Galet Tourbillon is assembled.


Hands-on with the De Bethune DB25T Dead Seconds Tourbillon

A few days ago I posted a photo essay of the De Bethune DB25T Dead Beat Seconds Tourbillon, but the watch pictured was the prototype. I've taken some photos of the final production DB25T and as you can see it is even more stunning.

De Bethune DB25T 

Several notable changes between the prototype and this piece. The most obvious is the darker, richer heat blued titanium dial here. The numerals on the sterling silver chapter ring are also more finely engraved.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Photo essay: Hublot Oceanographic 4000

Hublot, and by extension Jean-Claude Biver, excels at over the top watches. The Oceanographic 4000 exemplifies that. Its sheer bigness is overwhelming. At 48 mm it is large but that is exaggerated by its design.

Two oversized crowns dominate the case. The one at two o'clock, secured by a cap, is for the rotating inner bezel, while the other crown is for the time and winding. The cap for the inner bezel crown is beautifully machined, as is the rest of the case.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

News: Konstantin Chaykin will show his Mystery at Baselworld 2012

At Basel Russian watchmaker Konstantin Chaykin will present his Mystery wristwatch. Originally developed by Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin but made most famous by Cartier with its Mystery clocks, the Mystery watch is essentially two hands floating in the middle of an open space, giving the impression the hands are floating.    

Konstantin Chaykin Mystery

Mr Chaykin doesn't reveal the workings of this mechanism in the press release but it's surely the tried and tested method of using a pair of sapphire discs, one for each of the hands. The discs have teeth on their periphery and are driven by gears.

JLC Gyros and Triptyque, and unique IWC Destriero Scafusia, at upcoming Antiquorum HK sale

JLC Reverso Gyrotourbillon2
The Antiquorum sale in Hong Kong on 26 February will feature some interesting timepieces from Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC. The JLCs are a three piece set of the Gyrotourbillon 1, Reverso Gyrotourbillon 2 and Reverso a Triptyque, lots 178-180 respectively, known as the "Hybris Mecanique" according to Antiquorum (or perhaps they confused it with the Hybris Mecanica grandes sonnerie set). 

The Gyrotourbillon is of course the landmark high complication for JLC and one that has done quite well at auction. Estimate for the Gyro 1 is USD250,000-300,000, Gyro 2 is USD180,000-220,000 and USD300,000-400,000 for the Triptyque.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A fascinating video on Hamilton in its heyday

This video, courtesy of the Prelinger Archives, was made in 1947 and details production of watches at Hamilton Watch Co.'s Lancaster, Pennsylvania plant. It's fascinating to see how vertically integrated Hamilton was at the time. The video shows not only the company's metal foundry but also hairspring production as well as a mini refinery making lubricants.

It is tempting to remark on how times have changed, yet there is so much that is the same in production and assembly. The hairspring production for instance is virtually the same today (like at Lange Uhren for example), except that all the companies making in-house hairsprings buy the alloy from Nivarox.

And from the height of this industrial power, in just over 20 years Hamilton was no longer making watches in America, and a few years after that it was gone for all intents and purposes. Even though its namesake today produces solid timepieces like the Pan Europ chronograph, it is not the same Hamilton as before.


Skip to 4:52 for the interesting part on watchmaking.

A top class screwdriver

Bergeon, the Swiss maker of precision tools widely used in watchmaking, just unveiled its latest Dynamometric Screwdriver. It allows for torque of between 10 to 120 mNm. These cost several hundred francs, but are pretty damn cool. There isn't a better way to change that strap secured by screws.

The model number is N°6901-TBPR-120 in case anyone wants one.


COMPARE: Lange Datograph Old And New

Last December Lange announced the new Datograph Up and Down, 12 years after the original Datograph, which has become a landmark watch. A friend of mine asked me for a pictorial comparison of the new and old Datographs, and here it is.

Because Lange maintained the proportions of the dial, even increasing the size of the date, it looks remarkably similar at first glance. Even the model reference remains the same 405.035.

New Datograph on left

Sunday, 5 February 2012

A close look at the De Bethune DB25T Dead Seconds Tourbillon

Last year De Bethune unveiled the DB25T Tourbillon Regulator with Dead Seconds. Unlike the space-age DB28T tourbillon launched at the same time, the DB25T is decidedly more classical.

Denis Flageollet, the technical mind behind the brand, explained the DB25T is inspired by vintage pocket watches. That inspiration is especially evident in the sandblasted sterling silver chapter ring with Roman numerals, as well as the Breguet hands. Though the watch is large at 44 mm in diameter, it has an elegant and refined feel.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

FP Journe launches the Octa Sport in Aluminium

Last year FP Journe launched the first in aluminium cased line of sports watches, the Centigraphe Sport, the first of which hammered for close to US$500,000 at a charity auction for the Japanese tsunami. Journe has just unveiled the second model in the lineSport, the Octa Sport.

The movement inside is similar to that in the regular Octa with 120 hours power reserve and big date, with the main difference being the aluminium bridges in the Octa Sport. Together with the aluminium case, the Octa Sport weighs only 52 g. The case diameter is 42 mm.

But given Journe's reputation for delicate movements, I wonder how this will hold up as a sports watch.


Introducing The M.A.D. Gallery, The Geneva Toy Shop Of MB&F

Maximilian Büsser recently opened the MAD Gallery in Geneva, located at 11 Rue Verdaine, in the Old Town not far from the MB&F offices. This is not a boutique solely for his MB&F brand of horological machines, though some of the machines like the Legacy Machine 1 are on sale.

Rather it’s a store dedicated to all manner of Mechanical Art Devices (MAD). This is a toy store for the boy in every man. It is stocked with all manner of quirky and cool gadgets. It is easy to see how the whole carefully curated, idiosyncratic vibe fits in with the Horological Machines.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A video clip of both the Gyrotourbillons 1 and 2 in action

I was in the Jaeger-LeCoultre manufacture recently and captured this short clip of both the Gyrotourbillon 1 (on the left) and Reverso Gyrotourbillon 2. The Gyrotourbillon is JLC's most important and successful high complication wristwatch, and a real treat to watch.

Even though the motion of the tourbillon is visually identical, the tourbillons are not. The Gyro 1 has a flat hairspring and the Gyro 2 a cylindrical hairspring. This video provides a closer look at the Gyrotourbillon 2.

And fans of the Gyro will want to take a much closer look at the Gyrotourbillon 2 in rose gold.