Friday, 29 June 2012

Hands-on with the Tudor Heritage Black Bay ref. 79220R (with live photos and pricing)

Tudor launched a pair of dive watches at Baselworld 2012, one of which is the retro styled Heritage Black Bay, ref. 79220R. The other new diver is the 500 m Pelagos in titanium, ref. 25500TN, with self-adjusting dive clasp. Both watches have received lots of positive attention due to their design and price. There was lots of anticipation building up to its release date. Finally the Black Bay is just being delivered now and is already selling briskly, as expected. 

The Tudor Black Bay on the aged leather strap

Unlike most vintage inspired watches, the Black Bay is not a faithful remake of any specific model, rather it has elements from various dive watches from the past. Despite being a mish mash of different models, the result is a compelling buy.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

News: Unique 41 mm, titanium and cermet Royal Oak skeleton to be auctioned for charity

This is significant news for fans of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, especially since 2012 is the 40th anniversary of the Royal Oak.

A unique, 41 mm titanium Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Skeleton will be auctioned in Singapore on 1 Sep 2012, with proceeds going to charity. This unique watch uses the skeletonised 2139 movement like the regular Royal Oak Skeleton but with big differences in the case.

The case is titanium and 41 mm, with cermet bezel, as well as pink gold hands and indices. In contrast the regular version is 39 mm in steel or gold.

All proceeds will go to Kidz Horizon, a charity that helps children with chronic or terminal illnesses.

The watch was donated by the family of the late collector Duncan Wang, the third annual charity watch auction his family is supporting. Last year's watch was a unique Lange Zeitwerk with a grey dial.

For more information on the sale and how to participate, get in touch with Kidz Horizon.


Monday, 18 June 2012

Unique Patek 5131 cloisonne world time hammers for CHF1 million

The unique Patek Philippe 5131J “View of the City of Geneva” just hammered for CHF1 million, with proceeds going to a Swiss charity. The cloisonne dial depicts the Old Town of the city.

According to Patek it was bought by a Swiss client of the brand.

For a closer, critical look at the regular version of the world time, look no further.


Thursday, 14 June 2012

MB&F and Urwerk founders launch new brand and watch inspired by Wankel engine

C3H5N3O9 is a fresh brand with an interesting background, timepiece and distribution plan. It was created by Maximilian Büsser and Serge Kriknoff of MB&F (Mr Kriknoff is CEO of MB&F) along with Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner of Urwerk. Think of it as combining MB&F's marketing and communication prowess with Urwerk's accomplished nerdy DNA.

The brand's name is the chemical formula for nitroglycerine, which the brand explains as "Many of the most reactive (and most exciting) chemical reactions derive from combining seemingly innocuous ingredients." In addition, the brand says "C3H5N3O9 is an experimental platform, not a luxury brand." Those are the ambitions of C3H5N3O9; "concept" and "experimental" brands command a premium.

Rafael Nadal's stolen Richard Mille RM027 recovered from railway tracks

Richard Mille RM027 tourbillon
Barely a day after it was stolen, Rafael Nadal's $500,000, ultra-light Richard Mille RM027 tourbillon has been recovered, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Nadal was in Paris for the French Open, which he won, and he lost the watch, on loan from Richard Mille, after the championship match.

It turns out the culprit was a hotel barman who was arrested after police tracked his keycard access into Nadal's room.  The thief then led police to the stolen RM027 which he had hidden along a railway track.


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Lange Pour le Merite Tourbillon in yellow gold sells for $188,500

Antiquorum in New York just sold a Lange Tourbillon Pour le Mérite in yellow gold for US$188,500 inclusive of buyer's premium. That is a extremely strong result for the PLM, especially in yellow gold, which is the most common of the series. And this coming several months after record prices for a unique platinum PLM with salmon dial and the unique 36 mm PLM in platinum.

Lange Pour le Merite tourbillon in yellow gold
Photo courtesy Antiquorum

Lange prices were pretty soft on the secondary market after the aftermath of the recession in 2009 to 2010, but began to firm up last year. I reckon they will continue to climb gradually, especially for the important models like certain limited editions, Datograph and Lange 1. 


On-the-wrist review: the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo ref. 15202 (with live pics and pricing)

This year, the 40th anniversary of the Royal Oak and a year after Gerald Genta's passing, sees the redesign of the Royal Oak Extra Thin Selfwinding (ref. 15202), more commonly known as the "Jumbo", reverting back to almost its original form as penned by Gerald Genta in 1972. Iconic and legendary are overused terms, I am guilty of using them loosely too, but they are undeniably true for the Royal Oak Jumbo.

I am very lucky to have one of the new ref. 15202 Jumbos for a week and I love it. The loan is for a review upcoming in The Peak magazine; last year I got the Millenary 4101.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Hands-on with the Peter Speake-Marin Shimoda Majestic Monkey maki-e, a unique commission

This unique Peter Speake-Marin Shimoda with a monkey motif was commissioned several years ago - the owner has custom watches for each of his children depicting the child's zodiac sign.


Named after a Japanese client who suggested it, the Shimoda is Speake-Marin's distinctive and now discontinued one-hand watch.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Christie's to auction unique Patek 5131J cloisonne world time for charity

Unique Patek Philippe
5131J for Children Action
Tomorrow in Geneva Christie's a piece unique Patek Philippe ref. 5131J cloisonne dial world time will go under the hammer. Unlike the regular 5131J which has a cloisonne map, this depicts the Old Town of Geneva and the Jet d'Eau. "Geneva" is also highlighted in blue on the cities disc to remind the wearer what city it depicts; like on the regular 5131J the bezel is engraved "Geneva" just to be sure. 

Proceeds will go to Swiss charity Children Action - bids can be submitted with this form (PDF). The regular versions of the 5131 go for USD120,000 and up (retail is merely half that), so don't expect this to go cheaply. A worthy cause indeed but I am not a fan of this watch - here's why.


Saturday, 9 June 2012

Hands-on with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon 1 in platinum, the seminal JLC tourbillon (with live photos)

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon 1 with retrograde perpetual calendar and equation of time was launched in 2004 and is JLC's most important complication. Not just for its inherent technical qualities but also because it put JLC on th map as a haute horlogerie brand, and not just a haute horlogerie movement maker.

Since then JLC has created other super complications like the Duomètre à Sphérotourbillon launched at SIHH 2012, but none have the cachet of the Gyrotourbillon. In fact, the Gyrotourbillon is the most important JLC complication of the last decade in my humble opinion.

This is demonstrated by the fact that the Gyrotourbillon sells for handsome sums at auction, practically at its original street price, which is extremely unusual for an exotic complication that isn't a Patek.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The disappointing Graves collection soon to be sold at Sotheby's

On 14 June, Sotheby's in New York will auction about 50 timepieces which belonged to Reginald H. Fullerton Jr and his grandfather, Henry Graves Jr.

This auction has generated a lot of buzz, mainly because Henry Graves Jr was a legendary watch collector who commissioned the Graves supercomplication which was bought by Patek Philippe for US$11 million in 1999. So it's not surprising Sotheby's has dedicated an entire catalogue to the 61 lots in this sale.

I received the catalogue a few weeks ago but only just had the time to go through it. I was somewhat disappointed, I expected to be floored by page upon page of great timepieces but that isn't the case.

There are a few highlights like the tonneau-shaped repeater, the unique 3450 and the oversized rectangular wristwatch, but it is mostly regular fare, nothing that can't be found regularly at other auctions. That's because most of the good stuff has already been sold, and over a dozen ex-Graves watches are now in the Patek museum. 

And the fact that the sale includes lots which comprise boxes and papers for pocket watches previously sold somewhat lowers the tone of the auction.

Even less interesting are the modern timepieces, which are mostly the sort of watches a wealthy person with conservative but not extremely sophisticated taste would buy, in my opinion. Besides the usual Patek Philippe watches, the bulk of the contemporary timepieces are Breguet watches from the last 15 years - watches like the platinum Type XX and the Lemania-based tourbillon chronograph - hardly the stuff of legend.

Sotheby's has done a great job of marketing this auction, but to me it's more about the provenance about the watches than the timepieces themselves.