Monday, 28 April 2014

EVENT: Christie's Discussion Forum on Watch Collecting in Singapore on 3 May 2014

As part of the preview of its Spring sales in Hong Kong, Christie's has organised a series of special events in Singapore, including a panel discussion on watch collecting, with a focus on vintage timepieces and independent watchmakers, moderated by SJX.

Titled "The Convergence of Collecting", the panel discussion will discuss two different ends of watch collecting - independent watchmaking and vintage wristwatches - that are wildly popular in South-East Asia. This event happens alongside the preview of timepieces to be offered at Christie's sale in Hong Kong at end May.

Moderated by Su Jia Xian (SJX), the editor of this blog, the panel will comprise Sam Hines, the Head of Christie's Watch Department, as well as watch collector Audric Haryadi, and Ong Ban, who heads watch retailer Sincere Fine Watches.

The event will take place on Saturday, 3 May 2014 at 11 am in the Shangri-La Hotel. Registration is required for attendance - that can be done on Christie's registration page.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

LESSON: Hand-Engraving a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

With its swivelling, double sided case, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso offers a perfect canvas for customisation. Hand-engraving is the most frequently applied craft for customisation, with a simplicity of technique that belies the skill required. And despite the deft hand required, engraving is a surprisingly affordable.

Dominique Vuez, master engraver

Jaeger-LeCoultre recently had your correspondent try his hand at engraving a simple straight line on a piece of stainless steel, under the watchful eye of Dominique Vuez, one of the engravers at the manufacture.

Engraving is the process of creating a design on a surface by removing tiny slivers of material, leaving behind grooves. The tools required are simple - a vice to hold the part being engraved, a sharp-tipped burin, and a pair of magnifying visor. 

Friday, 25 April 2014

AUCTION WATCH: Christie's Geneva Sale May 2014, Including One-of-a-Kind Patek, Rolex and Lange

Christie's upcoming sale in Geneva comprises 440 lots. The line-up is diverse, including vintage and modern timepieces. But most notable are several one-of-a-kind timepieces from the star brands of the auction world, Patek Philippe and Rolex.

As is typical of Geneva auctions (sales in Hong Kong tend to emphasise modern watches), the offerings at Christie's for its 12 May 2014 sale feature numerous significant and pricey vintage timepieces. One of the highlights of the sale is the lot 376, a possibly unique Patek Philippe reference 1518 signed "CALENDRIER PERPÉTUEL" on the dial.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Introducing the Urwerk UR-105M, the Armoured Time Satellite Wristwatch (with specs and pricing)

Urwerk has just revealed the second generation of its signature satellite hour display wristwatch, the UR-105M, which becomes the new entry level timepiece in Urwerk's line-up. With a thick steel plate screwed onto the front of the case, the new UR-105M has a strong resemblance to its bigger brother, the UR-210.

The watch that put Urwerk on the map as a maker of avant-garde timepieces was the Urwerk 103, introduced just over 10 years ago. Now the 103's replacement has finally arrived, in the form of the UR-105M. Positioned as an entry level timepiece into the Urwerk universe, the UR-105M retains the trademark time display found in the 103, a wandering hours comprised of four satellite discs.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Hands-On with the Vulcain Cricket Alarm Pegasus Cloisonné Limited Edition (with live photos and pricing)

Recently unveiled at Baselworld 2014, the Vulcain Cricket 50s Presidents' Pegasus combines the brand's trademark alarm function with a fine cloisonné enamel dial depicting a winged stallion amongst the clouds.

Vulcain is synonymous with the Cricket, a loud and insistent alarm wristwatch it invented in 1947. Having earned the moniker "the presidents' watch" because it was worn by several American presidents in the fifties and sixties, the Cricket was presented with a cloisonné enamel dial at Baselworld 2014. Made by Donzé Cadrans, the Cricket Pegasus amongst the most elaborately decorative alarm watches on the market.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Introducing the Eone Bradley, a Tactile Way to Tell the Time

Launched last year on Kickstarter, the Eone Bradley is a watch that allows the user to tell the time through touch, intended primarily for the blind. Affordable and attractive, most Bradleys sold so far are to sighted people.

The Bradley is a titanium wristwatch designed for telling the time through touch, while looking like a conventional wristwatch. It allows the visually impaired to tell the time, yet is attractive enough that most of the sales so far have been to sighted individuals, with only 1-2% of watches sold going to the blind.

This is the accessible, modern equivalent of the montre à tact, the so-called tactful pocket watches made by the likes of Breguet for telling the time inconspicuously. Unlike other watches for the visually impaired that speak the time, the Bradley is discreet.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Hands-On with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931 Chocolate, Plus Its Original, Vintage Inspiration (with live photos and pricing)

Jaeger-LeCoultre recently added the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931 Chocolate to its successful range of oversized, slim Reverso watches modelled on the vintage originals. The new chocolate Reverso 1931 takes after the faded brown dials found on some specimens.

Since its launch the bestselling Reverso 1931 has evolved into a plethora of different models, ranging from an enamelled skeleton to the twin-time zone Duoface, all with the same large but slim proportions. The latest addition to the collection is the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931 Chocolate, which like the Reverso Rouge, is inspired by a vintage Reverso.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Introducing Two F.P. Journe Limited Editions for 50 Years of France-China Relations (with specs and pricing)

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and France, F.P. Journe has created a pair of limited edition watches, a blue dial Octa Automatique Lune and an Elégante with a jade dial.

F.P. Journe is the official watchmaker of France-China 50, a series of events throughout 2014 held to commemorate 50 years of diplomatic ties between France and China. Though his eponymous brand is based in Switzerland, François-Paul Journe himself was born in Marseilles, and counts French horologists Breguet and Janvier amongst his inspirations.

In a period where there seem to be almost as many limited edition watches for the Chinese market as there are people in the Middle Kingdom, F.P. Journe has created a pair of limited edition watches with the subtlest of references to the target market (Zenith's most recent release was the polar opposite).

Introducing the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic 1958 Limited Edition (with specs and price)

Jaeger-LeCoultre has remade its Geophysic chronometer as a limited edition, sticking closely to the aesthetics of the original but injecting modern features like a larger diameter and the self-winding calibre 898 movement.

In 1958 Jaeger-LeCoultre unveiled the original Geophysic to coincide with the International Geophysical Year (IGY). Resistant to magnetism and equipped with the 478BWSbr movement JLC used in its Royal Air Force pilots' watches, the Geophysic was conceived as a precise, durable and no-nonsense chronometer for the explorers and scientists taking part in the expeditions during the IGY.

JLC has just unveiled a remake of the Geophysic, applying the same formula it used for the successful Reverso 1931 - an accessibly priced, vintage-style timepiece equipped with stock, modern movement. 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Introducing the Zenith Christophe Colomb Hurricane Revolución, Starring Simón Bolívar, Che Guevara and Emiliano Zapata (with specs and pricing)

Latin America's most famous revolutionaries - Simón Bolívar, Che Guevara and Emiliano Zapata - form the motif of the Zenith Christophe Colomb Hurricane Revolución, equipped with a gyroscopic escapement as well as a chain and fusée mechanism.

There is a great deal of irony in the latest versions of the Christophe Colomb Hurricane, the most complicated timepiece from Zenith, whose CEO will soon decamp for Rolex. This trio of timepieces, which retail for just over US$400,000 each, commemorate three legendary liberators of Latin American, an important market for Zenith, with Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Emiliano Zapata and Simón Bolívar immortalised in colourful relief.

Monday, 14 April 2014

NEWS: Jean-Frédéric Dufour Appointed New CEO of Rolex

Rolex has appointed Jean-Frédéric Dufour its incoming CEO, putting him in charge of the world's largest luxury watchmaker. Dufour, who currently runs Zenith, will succeed Gian Riccardo Marini, who took over Rolex only in 2011.

Jean-Frédéric Dufour

According to Swiss newspaper Le Temps Rolex employees were informed on Monday morning that Jean-Frédéric Dufour will take over as Director-General (the equivalent of Chief Executive Officer) of Rolex, departing the same role at Zenith. He will replace Gian Riccardo Marini as head of the largest luxury watch brand in the world, which produced some 800,000 watches in 2013.

For Rolex, a company regarded as a paragon of stability, Dufour will be the fourth CEO since 2008. That was when Patrick Heiniger, who inherited the title from his father and reigned at Rolex for 16 years, abruptly departed Rolex “to pursue personal interests”. At that same time, Rolex also publicly denied reports that it had lost a large sum of money with fraudster Bernard Madoff.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Hands-On with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Perpetual Calendar 8 Days Skeleton (with live photos and pricing)

A combination of the twin crafts of enamelling and skeletonisation, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Perpetual Calendar 8 Days Skeleton is the most elaborately decorated perpetual calendar yet to emerge from the manufacture.

Inspired by a Jaeger-LeCoultre skeleton pocket watch with a blue enamelled case from 1928, the Master Grande Tradition à Quantième Perpétuel 8 jours SQ features an open-worked movement, and grand feu enamel chapter rings - on the front and back of the watch. Unveiled at SIHH 2014, this demonstrates the degree to which Jaeger-LeCoultre is vertically integrated, with both the enamelling and skeletonisation are done in-house. 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Win a Baume & Mercier Clifton Automatic in its "Special Moments" Social Media Contest

Baume & Mercier has just announced a contest, which will take place on social media platforms, to mark the start of its new "special moments" ad campaign shot by Peter Lindbergh, with the top prize a Baume & Mercier Clifton automatic.

Shot by noted German photographer Peter Lindbergh, the new Baume & Mercier ad campaign has just gotten underway. To create some buzz for the campaign, Baume & Mercier has also organised a social media contest with a first prize of a Baume & Mercier Clifton automatic small seconds watch (model 10052), which has a US$2700 retail price.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

A Hands-On, In-Depth Guide to the New Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 42 mm Ref. 26470 (with live photos and price)

Presented at SIHH 2014, the new Royal Oak Offshore Ref. 26470 is the first major and complete revamp of the classic 42 mm Offshore since its introduction. Audemars Piguet kept all the key elements of the watch, but made several vital improvements, leaving it much the same, but better.

Audemars Piguet launched the Royal Oak Offshore in 1993 as a larger, sportier version of its classic Royal Oak. It took a while for the Offshore to catch on, but eventually it became one of the horological status symbols of the last decade. 

Though the Offshore multiplied into dozens upon dozens of variations in recent years, the basic 42 mm Offshore remained fundamentally the same. And so it was high time for a revamp, which happened at SIHH 2014 with the new Royal Oak Offshore 42 mm Ref. 26470, a tangibly better watch than its predecessor.

Monday, 7 April 2014

FEATURE: A Guide to Swiss Watch Certification and Testing, From COSC to Chronometrique+

Many watches are certified, for various qualities like accuracy, durability and water-resistance, by independent agencies, ranging from COSC to TIMELAB. These certifications are proof of watchmaking and chronometric excellence, with a sprinkle of savvy marketing. Here's a handy guide to the most important Swiss watch certificates. 

All watch brands conduct product quality testing in-house to make sure their watches work as they should. Some, however, go the extra mile and get their watches certified by external bodies, for that extra cachet. That mile might not actually be that far, because the external testing varies in duration, ardour and comprehensiveness.

The best known and most widely used are COSC at the mass-market level and the Geneva Seal, which is issued by TIMELAB, for high-end watches made in Geneva. While TIMELAB not too long ago updated the criteria for the Geneva Seal, keeping it appropriately rigorous for a luxury watch, market leader COSC has remained constant for decades. 

Friday, 4 April 2014

Announcing Chronometric+ Observatory, a New, Comprehensive Swiss Wristwatch Certification

TIMELAB, the body that administers the Geneva Seal, has just announced Chronometric+ Observatory, a new certification standard that tests for both timekeeping as well as reliability, in finished wristwatches. Open to all watches in Switzerland, Observatoire Chronométrique+ is an ostensible rival to chronometry giant COSC.

Operating under the authority of the Cantonal government of Geneva, TIMELAB has just unveiled Observatoire Chronométrique+, a new certificate that is open to all Swiss made watches. Chronometric+ Observatory is a comprehensive certification, covering both chronometry - watches are tested to the same standard as COSC uses - and also functional aspects like water-resistance, power reserve and so on.