Sunday, 30 September 2012

Face off: Tudor Black Bay vs Mk II Kingston

The Tudor Black Bay and Mk II Kingston are visually, and conceptually, similar. They shamelessly take inspiration from the 1950s Rolex (and Tudor) Submariner. Despite the superficial similarity, they are actually two fundamentally different watches.

Mk II Kingston (left) and Tudor Black Bay

Between the two, the Kingston, made by military watch homage specialist Mk II, is a more faithful remake. With its 39.2 mm diameter and rivet bracelet, it looks and feels like a vintage watch. The Kingston was obviously conceived with the intention of recreating the look and feel of a 1950s Submariner.

Friday, 28 September 2012

News: Seiko unveils Grand Seiko antimagnetic models

Seiko has been quite prolific with new models this year, most recently with its Star Wars collaboration. It recently announced the return of the antimagnetic Grand Seiko watches, with both automatic and quartz models.

These are Seiko's answer to the Rolex Milgauss or IWC Ingenieur, though unlike the competition the Grand Seiko lacks a sexy name. Like the competition, the antimagnetic Grand Seiko watches have an iron cage around the movement. This is the third notable series of Grand Seiko this year, after the blue dial GMT anniversary editions and the specially adjusted High Beat models.

Grand Seiko Antimagnetic quartz limited edition SBGX089

All the new antimagnetic Grand Seiko models feature a case style that is new for the Grand Seiko line. It has angular lugs with a flat case top, inspired by the Grand Seiko 62GS of 1966.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

News: Sign up for guided tours at the AP Royal Oak 40th Anniversary exhibition in Singapore

From 10 to 14 October, the Royal Oak 40th Anniversary exhibition will be on show in Singapore at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

The exhibition will showcase the Royal Oak in its many iterations, but also explore haute horlogerie in general. Also on show will be the work of three contemporary artists, creative director Sebastien Leon Agneessens, digital artist Quayola and photographer Dan Holdsworth, who interpret the Royal Oak in their own way.

Entry is free and the exhibition runs daily from 11 am to 6 pm. Guided tours are available via pre-registration online at the AP website.

Additionally, shuttle buses will be provided on 13 and 14 October with details on the registration page.

- SJX

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Introducing the Lange Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst in platinum, a boutique-only 30-piece limited edition (with specs and price)

Lange has just unveiled the Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst limited edition (Ref. 140.048), a 30 piece edition in platinum with a hand-engraved dial.

Lange Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst

Like the earlier Richard Lange Tourbillon “Pour le Mérite” Handwerkskunst, the Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst - which means "craftsmanship" - features a hand-engraved dial.

News: Christie's to sell Daniel Craig's James Bond Omega watches

To mark the 50th anniversary of James Bond, Christie's is auctioning off varied James Bond memorabilia, mostly trinkets but some notable items like Scaramanga's golden belt buckle complete with bullets. Two sales will be held, with the first being an online sale that runs from 28 September to 8 October, with all proceeds going to Unicef. Lot 37 of that sale is the rather grimy looking Omega Planet Ocean from Quantum of Solace, with an estimate of GBP6000-8000.

And on October 5 in London a unique, titanium Omega Planet Ocean worn in the upcoming 007 film Skyfall will be sold. It is Lot 45 and is similarly estimated to fetch GBP6000-8000. Proceeds from the live auction will go to ORBIS.

For fans who miss the watches on auction, there is the limited edition Skyfall Planet Ocean in steel.

- SJX

Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Skyfall

Monday, 24 September 2012

Up Close With the Roger Smith Series 2 Bespoke (With Original Photos)

Roger W. Smith, protege of the late George Daniels, makes his very English watches on the Isle of Man. His serially produced timepiece is the Series 2, a hand-wound wristwatch with power reserve indicator, styled and constructed much like an old English pocket watch.


This is a unique Roger Smith Series 2 wristwatch in yellow gold, with several unusual details specified by the owner, including a unique, hand-engraved dial.


Thursday, 20 September 2012

An F-15 pilot tells us what makes a good pilot's watch

For my story on pilot's watches in The Peak Selections: Timepieces (available at bookstores and newsstands in Singapore), I got in touch with Colonel Rich "Nemo" Sweeten. Nemo has spent most of his career flying the F-15C Eagle and is now Commander of the United States Air Force 102nd Air Operations Group.

Nemo is not only a pilot, but also a watch enthusiast - he has collection of watches but is especially a fan of English aviation watch brand Bremont -  so his thoughts on pilot's watches are instructive.

Nemo with his Bremont ALT1-Z in the cockpit of an F-15 Eagle

On what makes a good pilot's watch: "It needs to have good readability and be able to keep a good "hack". If it's a mechanical watch, then I want it to have a chronometer rating to ensure accuracy and good lume for night.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Watch of the day: Nomos Ludwig Oberlehrer

Nomos makes honest watches - honest quality and honest price. I like them; the recently launched Ludwig Oberlehrer limited edition is my third. This is the 2012 edition of the annual Wempe100 series, made for German retailer Wempe.

Nomos Ludwig Oberlehrer "chalkboard"

I put in my order very soon after hearing about it, so this is one of the first delivered, with a single digit serial number.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

A look at the Seiko Galante Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary

For the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Rolling Stones in 1962, Seiko created the Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary watch (ref. SBLL017) in tribute to one of the great rock bands of all time. Along with the Seiko Stars Wars limited editions, the Rolling Stones is Seiko's nod to pop culture for 2012. 

Seiko chose the Galante case, which at 45 mm is the largest and most striking watch case the company makes. Combine that size with the dial, and you have an extremely memorably watch.


Friday, 14 September 2012

Photo essay: Bovet Rising Star Triple Time Zone Tourbillon unique piece

Named after a Swiss watchmaker who was a pioneer in selling Swiss timepieces in China, Bovet watches are easily distinguished by the Lépine style pocket watch case with a crown at 12 o'clock. In fact, the straps on all Bovet watches are detachable to convert them into pocket watches, which Bovet calls the Amadeo convertible case.

This pocket watch styled case has been the hallmark of the brand since it was resurrected in the nineties by Roger Guye and Thierry Oulevay (who later founded Jean Dunand). In 2001, the Fleurier-based brand was acquired by Pascal Raffy. And just earlier this year Swiss trading house DKSH acquired a fifth of Bovet, as well as the right to distribute the brand in Asia.

Bovet Rising Star Triple Time Zone Tourbillon

Mr Raffy has made Bovet into a small high horology brand - production is about 2300 pieces a year - with a lot of focus on decorative dials and cases. Equally significant is Mr Raffy's decision to vertically integrate Bovet.

News: Panerai Luminor Submersible Amagnetic with ceramic bezel PAM389

Panerai just announced the Luminor Submersible 1950 Amagnetic 3 Days Automatic Titanio (PAM00389). This is a titanium, 47 mm Luminor Submersible with the in-house P.9000 calibre.

What makes the PAM389 unusual is that it is resistant to magnetic fields of up to 40,000 A/m. That is achieved with the tried and tested, and simplest, method of magnetism proofing a watch - a soft iron cage and dial which enclose the whole movement.

Panerai Luminor Submersible Amagnetic PAM389

The Submersible Amagnetic is actually the second antimagnetic Panerai, the first being the Arktos Amagetic PAM92 worn by explorer Mike Horn during his Artic expedition.


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

News: Seiko launches Star Wars limited edition watches

For the 35th anniversary of the release of Star Wars, Seiko has just unveiled a series of six limited edition watches, each dedicated to a Star Wars character. They encompass a range of models and functions, and include both mechanical and electronic watches. The series will be sold only in Japan and will be available from October 12, 2012.

Like the Astron GPS watch launched at Baselworld this year, these Star Wars watches have a very high geek factor. And best of all, unlike the usual movie tie-in watches, these are well made, solid watches, including some mechanicals.

Seiko Brightz Star Wars Darth Vader

The first is the Darth Vader World Time Solar Radio Wave Control (ref. SAGA125). This is a solar powered watch that synchronises with atomic clock radio wave signals available in certain countries like Japan, China and the USA.

News: Urwerk launches the UR-210, successor to the UR-202

A year after presenting the UR-110 Torpedo, which replaced the watch that launched the brand, the UR-103, Urwerk now unveils the successor of the 200 series, the UR-201, 202 and 203.

The Urwerk UR-210

Unsurprisingly dubbed the UR-210, the new is a further evolution of the satellite carousel system that has become the Urwerk trademark. It has three satellites on a carousel which indicate the hours, just like the earlier 200 series.

News: The Mastery of Time exhibition in Mexico City, London and Paris

The Mastery of Time exhibition will be in Mexico City, London and Paris from October to November this year, during the watch fairs in each of the cities. On show are one hundred objects and timekeepers that illustrate man's ability to keep time over the centuries.

The schedule for the exhibition is as follows:

Salon Internacional Alta Relojeria (SIAR), Mexico City: October 2-4, 2012
SalonQP, London: November 8-10, 2012
Belles Montres, Paris: November 22-25, 2012

Those in the cities during the exhibition should check it out, along with the watch fairs.

This exhibition is organised by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, an industry body dedicated to promoting fine watchmaking (the FHH is independent though it is sometimes perceived as pro-Richemont for historical reasons).

  - SJX

Lange is one of the partner brands of the FHH

Monday, 10 September 2012

Hands-on with the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Skyfall 007 (with live photos and pricing)

With every James Bond movie the Omega marketing machine cranks out another James Bond limited edition wristwatch. And so it is with the upcoming Skyfall James Bond film. The Seamaster Planet Ocean 600 m Skyfall is a steel, 42 mm Planet Ocean dive watch with ceramic bezel. Unlike the titanium watch specially made for Daniel Craig to wear in the film, the Omega Skyfall has a steel case and bracelet, as well as a much lower price.


What sets it apart from the regular Planet Ocean is the square grid dial motif, as well as the "007" logo at seven o'clock. And the Skyfall movie logo is engraved on the rotor as well.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Photo essay: Corum Admiral’s Cup 38 Mystery Moon

With Laurent Besse of Artisans Horlogers (he helped created the MB&F HM4 Thunderbolt) on board, Corum is beefing up its range of complications and high horology to go beyond the trademark Golden Bridge. Launched this year is the simple but unusual Admiral’s Cup 38 Mystery Moon.

Corum Admiral's Cup Mystery Moon

This is a 38 mm ladies' watch with a wandering moon phase. Once a day, the mother of pearl dial, which is decorated with a sunburst guilloche, turns to show the correct date as well as moon phase. In other words the dial rotates 31 times a month.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Photo essay: Omega Spacemaster Z-33

Launched at Baselworld 2012, the Spacemaster Z-33 is the successor to the X-33. The Z-33 is a multi function digital watch, in a titanium case styled like that of the 1970s Omega Flightmaster.


News: Hublot launches service watch

Hublot has just announced the roll-out of its service watch which will be given to customers to tide them over when their Hublot timepiece is away for overhaul. Known as the "Atelier Watch", this mini Big Bang will be available only at Hublot boutiques (at the discretion of boutique management), and not at any of the Hublot retailers.

Hublot Atelier Watch

The idea of a service watch has been tried out before, and it always failed for the same reason: the watches went missing. Lange, for instance, used to provide a steel 1815 as a service watch back in the nineties. Unsurprisingly lots of them never came back.

Hublot gets around this by making the service watch mostly plastic - case and bezel are black plastic secured with steel screws - back right down to the plastic buckle. The strap is rubber, and the movement is quartz. Where it comes from is also notable, Hublot states, "The great majority of the watch’s components were developed and made in Switzerland." [Italics added for emphasis]

- SJX

Friday, 7 September 2012

News: Notable revenue figures from Richemont

Richemont just announced its sales for the five months to end August 2012. Overall sales are still going strongly, though at a slower rate than before. Europe is doing notably well, rising 19% at constant exchange rates.

Source: Richemont

Of note is Montblanc's underperformance with single digit growth (+4% at constant rates), perhaps that's a sign that flat pen sales are not being offset by the brand's diversification?

The continued strong growth of retail (meaning boutiques) versus wholesale (referring to authorised retailers).

And Johann Rupert's statement included the following:

"We can confirm that operating profit for the six months should be some 20 to 40 % higher than last year, as was anticipated in the announcement made on 6 August."

Shareholders will be pleased.

- SJX

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Hands-on With The De Bethune DB25 IX Maya, Featuring A Solid Gold, Hand-Engraved Dial (With Live Photos And Price)

De Bethune unveiled the DB25 IX Maya at SIHH 2012, created to commemorate the Ninth Mayan Underworld, part of an exceptionally complex Mayan calendar. It is fitted with a hand-engraved, solid gold dial covered in Mayan hieroglyphics and motifs.


De Bethune is better known for its avant-garde designs with equally innovative movements, but this is a relatively classical timepiece. 

News: Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève nominees announced

The 70 nominees for the seven categories of the 2012 Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève have just been announced. As usual it's a mixed bag of deserving and significant watches, alongside less interesting ones. And unsurprisingly there are watches that seem incongruous in their category also - like the Montblanc Bi-Frequence as a sports watch?

The winners will be selected by the jury (which is listed at the bottom of this page) and announced on November 15, 2012.

- SJX

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

News: Sinn Tachymeter Chronograph exclusively for retailer Manufactum

Sinn recently unveiled the Tachymeter Chronograph, created especially for German catalogue retailer Manufactum. This is an unsual looking watch, it is basically a sixty second chronograph with a tachymeter function, and nothing else. The constant seconds are at nine o'clock while the date is at three.

Sinn Tachymeter Chronograph for Manufactum

Monday, 3 September 2012

News: Piece unique Royal Oak skeleton sells for US$136,000

The piece unique Audemars Piguet Royal Oak skeleton in a 41 mm, titanium and cermet case, sold two days ago at auction in Singapore for S$170,000, or about US$136,000. All proceeds go to Kidz Horizon, a children's charity in Singapore. The winning American bidder bid over the telephone. Congratulations to the winner and Kidz Horizon.

- SJX

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Hands-On With The Hermes Dressage H1837 Automatic, Powered By Manufacture Vaucher (With Live Photos And Price)

Hermes is obviously not reputed as a watchmaker, though it has done some interesting things recently with Jean-Marc Wiederrecht of Agenhor. However, after carefully examining some of the Hermes watch collection, I conclude they are beautifully executed timepieces, as good as other traditional watch houses in the same price segment, like Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC.

Hermes Dressage with H1837 movement