Saturday, 29 June 2013

Explaining Seiko's Legendary History In Swiss Chronometer Trials, With Live Pictures Of Its Landmark Astronomical Observatory Chronometer

By the late sixties Seiko dominated Swiss observatory chronometry trials, just before the contests were cancelled for good. At the end of the sixties, 226 Seiko wristwatches were certified by the Neuchâtel observatory and sold to the public as Astronomical Observatory Chronometers, making them amongst the rarest and most desirable Seiko timepieces ever.

Seiko Astronomical Observatory Chronometer cal. 4520, c. 1968

Suwa Seikosha (now Seiko Epson) first participated in the chronometer contests organised by Observatoire Cantonal de Neuchâtel in 1963, submitting a quartz Crystal Chronometer clock in the marine chronometer category which placed tenth. That made Seiko the first company from outside Switzerland to finish in the top ten, and would mark the first of a string of chronometer contest victories.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Up close: IWC Ingenieur Chronograph Silberpfeil (with live photos and pricing)

The IWC Ingenieur Chronograph Silberpfeil is a tribute to the Mercedes-Benz W25 Silberpfeil, which won several European Grand Prix championships in the mid thirties.

Amongst the many Ingenieurs unveiled at SIHH 2013, the Ingenieur Chronograph Silberpfeil ("silver arrow"), stood out. Not for anything else but its aesthetics, especially the version with the silver dial. It is a big, chunky and good looking watch.

News: Bremont Codebreaker Flyback Chronograph GMT - tribute to Bletchley Park

Bremont's latest limited edition is the Codebreaker, a flyback GMT chronograph dedicated to the WWII Bletchley Park decryption centre, with the watch itself containing actual elements from Bletchley Park.

Bremont specialises in military-themed timepieces, which are surprisingly popular with actual military personnel. It just announced the Codebreaker, a flyback chronograph with GMT, to commemorates the United Kingdom's codebreaking effort during the Second World War. Actual elements from Bletchley Park, the UK's main codebreaking centre, are embedded inside the watch.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Event report: Singapore watch collectors get-together

Just this afternoon some friends of this blog gathered over lunch. There was food, but once the watches were rolled in, attention was diverted elsewhere...

Eight of our readers, two from foreign lands and the rest Singaporean, came together for lunch today. Between them there were 15 watches present. 

The assembled watches were diverse, a good balance between mainstream brands like Rolex and Panerai, and the independents; notable because two Philippe Dufour Simplicities turned up, one having flown here. 

News: Omega Seamaster Diver ETNZ Limited Edition for the 2013 America's Cup (with specs and price)The

Omega has just announced the Seamaster Diver ETNZ Limited Edition, created for Emirates Team New Zealand, one of the challengers for the 2013 America's Cup.

As a partner of Emirates Team New Zealand, Omega has created a limited edition for the team, which will soon take part in the Louis Vuitton Cup yachting contest to determine the challenger for the 34th America's Cup. Sailing cutting edge AC72 catamarans, three teams will compete with each other for the right to challenge the current holder of the cup, Oracle Team USA.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Hands-on with the JLC Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétuel Jubilee (live photos and price)

In 2013, Jaeger-LeCoultre marks the 180th anniversary of the founding of Antoine LeCoultre's workshop in Le Sentier. Amongst the watches created for the jubilee is the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétuel Jubilee in platinum.

As its name implies, the Tourbillon Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétuel features a tourbillon with cylindrical hairspring as well as a perpetual calendar. The case is platinum, while the dial is silver with a grained finish.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Hands-on with some very special H. Moser Mayu prototypes - an exclusive look at some surprising watches

H. Moser is known for its restrained designs and ingenious complications - so far. These Mayu prototypes maintain the typical Moser style, but with a surprising palette.

H. Moser CEO Edouard Meylan was recently in town, bringing with him the Baselworld 2013 collection (which includes the Nomad Dual Time we covered last week) as well as these prototypes of the Mayu, the brand's entry level model. Are they a tantalising hint of what H. Moser might do in the future?

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Hands-on with the Arnold & Son HM Perpetual Moon, the wristwatch "Supermoon" (with live photos and price)

Launched at Baselworld 2013, the HM Perpetual Moon from Arnold & Son is one of the largest moon phase displays available today, with a moon phase disc of 29 mm.

Today is the date of the "Supermoon", when the moon appears larger than normal, thanks to it being closest to the Earth during its elliptical orbit. In horology the HM Perpetual Moon from Arnold & Son is a contender for the wristwatch equivalent. A simple, but somewhat romantic, timepiece, the HM Perpetual Moon has the hours and minutes, and also a moon phase in grand detail and scale. 

Saturday, 22 June 2013

A History Of The Cartier Tank In Pictures, 1917-2013

Inspired by the lumbering armoured vehicles which made their debut in the First World War, the Cartier Tank has evolved over the decades, yet remained essentially the same. It is one of the most enduring wristwatch designs ever.

A rare Tank Cintrée in platinum from 1924

The Cartier Tank celebrates its centenary in four years (or six, depending on the date regarded as its birth). One of the first form wristwatches, the Tank has grown and shrunk, and also had various complications added, though mostly simple ones. The Cartier Tank has multiplied into dozens of forms, maybe even hundreds, but all retain the basic format of wide brancards framing the dial on each side.

Friday, 21 June 2013

News: Romain Jerome Moon Orbiter Tourbillon - an intergalactic flying tourbillon (with specs and price)

The latest addition to the Romain Jerome Moon-DNA collection, the Moon Orbiter is a flying tourbillon with a tiny bit of alloy from the Apollo 11 spacecraft as well as touch of moon dust.

Romain Jerome's second intergalactic timepiece after the warmly received and well priced Spacecraft is the Moon Orbiter flying tourbillon. Made by La Joux-Perret, the automatic movement has a the rocket-shaped tourbillon carriage on the left of the case, and the time display at right. And at the bottom is the indicator for the 42 hour power reserve.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Explaining The Patek Philippe Reference 3970 Chronograph Perpetual Calendar

Made from 1986 to 2004, the Patek Philippe Ref. 3970 was for many years the benchmark chronograph with perpetual calendar wristwatch. Widely regarded as less desirable than the preceding Ref. 2499 or subsequent Ref. 5970, the Ref. 3970 is nevertheless a significant timepiece.

Patek Philippe Ref. 3970G, third series

The introduction of the Ref. 3970 in 1986 marked the start of the modern era of chronograph with perpetual calendar watches from Patek Philippe. Equipped with the CH 27-70, based on the Lemania 2310, the Ref. 3970 was without peer in its time; even Vacheron Constantin did not have a comparable watch until the year 2000.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Hands-on with the Omega Speedmaster "Dark Side of the Moon" - first ceramic Speedy (live photos and price)

At Baselworld 2013 Omega unveiled the first Speedmaster Moonwatch in ceramic, the "Dark Side of the Moon", which has turned out to be one of Omega's biggest hits of the year.

Striking in sleek black ceramic with red accents, the Speedmaster "Dark Side of the Moon" has all the elements of the quintessential Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch, but it looks radically different. Despite the fact that the all-black look is decidedly tired, the Speedmaster "Dark Side of the Moon" is handsome. And more importantly, it won't look dated and passé like other all-black watches, because it is a Speedmaster and the Speedmaster is practically legendary.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Breaking news: PPR in talks to acquire Richard Mille

The news has just broken that French luxury conglomerate PPR is in talk to buy a controlling share in Richard Mille, valuing the company at CHF340-400 million.

Richard Mille RM059-01 Yohan Blake

Rumours have been swirling for months about Richard Mille being acquired by PPR and they have proven to be true. According to an anonymous source close to the deal quoted by Reuters, PPR is looking at acquiring a controlling, 51% stake in Richard Mille. The valuation is 2.5 to 3 times expected 2013 revenue of CHF135 million, valuing the whole company at CHF340-400 million.

Monday, 17 June 2013

News: Cartier Tank MC Skeleton in palladium - the first skeleton Tank with in-house calibre

The newest guise for the Cartier Fine Watchmaking skeleton watch is the Tank MC Skeleton. It is equipped with the 9611 MC and a palladium case.

Now the signature timepiece in Cartier's Fine Watchmaking collection, the cal. 9611 MC has open-worked bridges in the form of Roman numerals. But it was only available in the Santos 100 or Santos Dumont case, until now, with the introduction of the new Tank MC skeleton in palladium.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

News: Cartier Tank MC - a new entry level Tank with 1904 MC manufacture movement

Cartier recently announced the Tank MC, the brand's new entry level Tank wristwatch with the in-house 1904 MC automatic movement.

Cartier Tank MC in pink gold

Cartier has finally presented a Tank equipped with its in-house calibre 1904 MC-PS automatic movement. The new Tank MC - for "Manufacture Cartier" - features similar styling to the Tank Americaine, but with a wider, more squarish case.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Hands-on with the H. Moser Nomad Dual Time - a distillation of the travel watch (live photos and pricing)

Recently unveiled at Baselworld 2013, the H. Moser Nomad is a dual time zone watch reduced to its bare essentials - a second time zone hand plus a day and night indicator.

H. Moser simplifies complications, a philosophy exemplified by its innovative Perpetual 1 and now applied to the travel wristwatch. The H. Moser Nomad has the bare minimum necessary for a travel timepiece, resulting in a simple, elegant, yet practical second time zone watch.

Friday, 14 June 2013

News: De Bethune DB28 Skybridge MC for Only Watch 2013

A unique version of its DB28 Skybridge is De Bethune's contribution to the Only Watch 2013 charity auction. Its blued titanium dial shows the night sky over Monaco on its national day.

The De Bethune DB28 Skybridge MC is a unique version of the stunning DB28 Skybridge unveiled earlier this year. This Only Watch version has a 43 mm platinum case with the brand's signature titanium spring-loaded lugs, while the regular Skybridge has an all titanium case.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

News: Flik Flak will stop using aluminium for watch cases

Come August this year Flik Flak ditch its distinctive aluminium cases in favour of brighly coloured plastic in the new Cute Size collection.

Many will have fond memories of the vividly coloured, anodised aluminium Flik Flak watches from their childhood; I know I do. These came in a vast number of colours and designs, and always with a canvas band. Alas, starting from August 2013 Flik Flak, the division of Swatch responsible for children's timepieces, will use plastic for its watch cases instead. This is truly an end of an era.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

News: Laurent Ferrier Galet Classic Tourbillon Only Watch 2013 - unique steel edition with enamel dial

Laurent Ferrier will contribute a Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral in steel for Only Watch 2013. Equipped with a sand-coloured enamel dial, this is a unique piece numbered "000".

All Laurent Ferrier watches are usually available only in precious metals, except for unique or limited editions. The Galet Classic Only Watch - referring to the rounded style of the case, galet is French for pebble - is one such unique edition. Besides the steel case, this is also distinguished by its coffee-toned fired enamel dial decorated with a dove, which is the motif of Only Watch. And the coat-of-arms of Monaco is painted on the sub-seconds dial.

News: Piaget Altiplano Skeleton Only Watch - first ultra-thin with black PVD movement and case

Piaget has created a unique, all black Altiplano Skeleton for the Only Watch charity auction in September 2013, the first Piaget ultra-thin watch with an all black coating.

In contrast to the more colourful creations for Only Watch 2013, the Piaget Altiplano Skeleton Only Watch is monochromatic. Both the case and movement bridges are coated in dark PVD, the first time Piaget has applied this treatment to an ultra-thin watch.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Up close: IWC Ingenieur Constant-Force Tourbillon - the most complicated Ingenieur ever (with live photos and price)

Earlier in the year IWC debuted the most complicated Ingenieur watch ever, the  Ingenieur Constant-Force Tourbillon, in a ceramic and platinum case.

Originally a simple timepiece designed with engineers in mind, hence the name and the amagnetic properties of the earlier models. But this year IWC gave the line a reboot, and at the very top of the collection is the Ingenieur Constant-Force Tourbillon.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Hands-on with the Vianney Halter Deep Space Tourbillon - Vianney's triple-axis tribute to Star Trek (live photos, video and price)

After a seven year hiatus, Vianney Halter has returned. His latest creation is the Deep Space Tourbillon, a central, triple axis tourbillon that is a tribute to science fiction, Star Trek and Gene Roddenberry.

Vianney's seminal watch was the Antiqua perpetual calendar of 1998, the first watch of a series that in his signature steampunk style, heavily reminiscent of Jules Verne. But now Vianney has turned the page and stepped into the future with the Deep Space Tourbillon.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

News: Introducing Antti Rönkkö and the Steel Labyrinth - the first calibre from a new Finnish independent

Finnish watchmaker Antti Rönkkö presents the Steel Labyrinth. This is first wristwatch utilising his own calibre, the AR1, which draws heavily on vintage pocket watch movements for inspiration.

Antti Rönkkö recently announced the Steel Labyrinth, which uses the AR1 movementBased in Espoo, a city west of Helsinki, Antti Rönkkö joins fellow Finns Kari Voutilainen and Stepan Sarpaneva as an independent watchmaker.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Introdycing the Girard-Perregaux Tourbillon Bi-Axial in Tantalum and Sapphire (with specs and pricing)

Girard-Perregaux has just unveiled the Tourbillon Bi-Axial tantalum and sapphire, a double axis tourbillon with sapphire bridges in a tantalum case.

Tantalum is dense metal with a distinctive and beautiful greyish-blue colour with an exceptionally high melting point of over 3000 °C. At 45 mm wide, this will be a hefty watch. The tantalum case is combined with grey tinted sapphire bridges, including the bridge of the bi-axial tourbillon.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

News: Children of the Vallée de Joux visit Jaeger-LeCoultre - and envision the future of watchmaking

As part of its 180th anniversary events, Jaeger-LeCoultre invited sixth graders from schools in the Vallée de Joux to visit its manufacture in Le Sentier.

Applying circular graining to a base plate

During the visit the children got to meet the craftsmen of the manufacture, and even tried their hand at applying perlage to a base plate. Jaeger-LeCoultre's objective was to allow the children a peek into what is one of the largest enterprises in the valley.

News: Vacheron Constantin “Les Sons du Temps" - 200 years of striking watches on show at Geneva boutique

Vacheron Constantin just opened Les Sons du Temps, an exhibition of striking watches in its Geneva boutique, encompassing vintage pocket watches and even the Tour de l’Ile grand complication.

Vacheron Constantin ref. 10968, c. 1955 - minute repeater in platinum

Opened at the end of May, Les Sons du Temps, or the "the sound of time", is dedicated to Vacheron Constantin's history as a maker of striking watches. The earliest timepiece on display is a quarter repeater dating from 1812.

Monday, 3 June 2013

News: Lange and the moon phase - some noteworthy facts about the brand's moon display

Since its revival in 1994 Lange has created a dozen movements with moon phase display, from the simple to the complex. Most of its moon phases are accurate to a day in over a century, but for one calibre that figure is over a 1000 years.

Lange just put out a press release outlining the brand's moon phase complication, which displays the lunar month of 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 3 seconds. One notable and little publicised fact stood out: the rich blue colour of the moon phase disc is due to the coating on the disc that only reflects the blue portion of the visible light spectrum.

Recommended reading: Philosopher Peter Singer chastises buyers of fine watchmaking

Peter Singer, a well known ethical philosopher now resident at Princeton, recently published an essay titled "Why pay more?", which specifically deals with the phenomenon of expensive timepieces. 

The Swatch Sistem 51 - something Mr Singer would surely approve of

Though it is obvious he thoroughly disproves of those who buy expensive watches, his argument is slightly more nuanced than that. Specifically, public officials who shouldn't be able to afford pricey timepieces are named, as are those who look down on wearers of cheap watches.

News: Christophe Claret X-TREM-1 Pinball for Only Watch 2013

Christophe Claret has created a unique X-TREM-1 Pinball for the upcoming Only Watch charity auction. With the time indicated by metal balls in tubes, the orange and blue X-TREM-1 Pinball is meant to evoke a pinball machine.

The Christophe Claret X-TREM-1 indicates the time via two metal balls which travel up mesh tubes on the side of the case, indicating the hours on the left and minutes on the right. 

Saturday, 1 June 2013

News: Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time Only Watch 1/1

For Only Watch 2013 Vacheron Constantin has created a unique, platinum Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time with a cloisonné enamel dial.

Another addition to the Only Watch 2013 line-up is the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time Only Watch 1/1. This unique piece has a platinum case with a white cloisonné enamel dial depicting continental Europe.