Saturday, 31 May 2014

Introducing the Chanel J12-365 in Ceramic And a New Alloy, Beige Gold (with specs and price)

Chanel has given its signature J12 a facelift with a larger case, guilloche dial and sub-seconds. And the J12-365 also marks the first time Chanel is using its newly developed yellow gold alloy known as beige gold.

Since its introduction 14 years ago, the Chanel J12 has become a best seller on a massive scale. Though Chanel was not the first to popularise ceramic watches (Rado has that distinction), it made ceramic fashionable. And Chanel also introduced white ceramic into watchmaking with the white J12 in 2003. Though the J12 has no pretensions at being a technical timepiece, it certainly is one of the most important timepieces of this era.

And so it is notable that the new Chanel J12-365 - this is intended to be on a lady's wrist all days of the year - is available with a new yellow gold alloy. Named beige gold, after Gabrielle Chanel's favourite colour, the new alloy has a hue in between the redness of rose gold and the pale colour of yellow gold.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Introducing the Valbray EL1 Chronograph For Leica's 100th Anniversary(with specs and price)

Leica celebrates its centenary this year and for the occasion Valbray has created a limited edition chronograph with a shutter dial that functions like the aperture of a camera, evoking the famous range finders of German camera maker.

Leica, arguably the grandest name in cameras, has lent its name to independent watchmaker Valbray for a series of wristwatches to mark Leica's centenary. Valbray's most notable product is a wristwatch with a shutter over the dial, which Valbray calls this the Oculus diaphragm system. The diaphragm shutter works exactly like the shutter on a camera, hence the collaboration between Leica and Valbray for the legendary camera maker's 100th anniversary.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

AUCTION WATCH: Highlights From Christie's Hong Kong Sale, With Some Special Patek and Lange

On May 28 Christie's will offer over 600 lots at its Hong Kong sale, including several rare Lemania-based Patek Philippe chronographs, a Panana Canal Rolex, and, for the first time ever at auction, the behemoth Lange 31. And for vintage fans there's a Rolex GMT-Master 6542 with original box and papers.

Christie's Spring auctions 2014 will take place at end May in Hong Kong, with a bumper crop of watches on offer. As is typically the case with the Hong Kong sale, there is a preponderance of contemporary watches, from both established and also independent brands.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Cartier's "Shape Your Time" Watchmaking Exhibition Opens in Singapore

A showcase of Cartier's contemporary watchmaking, the "Cartier, Shape Your Time" exhibition is open in Singapore from May 24 to 25 at the Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza on Orchard Road. The event is open to the public, with guided tours available.

"Cartier, Shape Your Time" is an exhibition dedicated to Cartier's key watch lines, most notably the iconic Santos and Tank, and also the official launch of the Calibre de Cartier Diver, the brand's first ever true dive watch.

The exhibition space is divided into five areas for each collection, including one for the Fine Watchmaking line of high complications, which includes timepieces from the SIHH 2014 collection like the innovative Astrocalendar. Multimedia displays, including touch screens, are on hand to explain Cartier's watchmaking history, as well as its current creations.

"Cartier, Shape Your Time" is open on 24 and 25 May 2014, from 11 am to 8 pm at the Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza on Orchard Road. It is open to the public, with guided tours available upon registration.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Introducing the Longines Heritage Diver, a Remake of the Seventies Super-Compressor Dive Watch (with specs and pricing)

Modelled on its distinctive, twin-crown Super-Compressor dive watches of the seventies, the Heritage Diver is another addition to the impressive line-up of historical remakes from Longines.

Whereas vintage remakes have only recently caught on for the watch industry as a whole, Longines has been rummaging through its archives for much longer. Its Heritage collection spans timepieces inspired by twenties pilots' watches to the most recent, the Heritage Diver.

Available as a time-only model or a chronograph, the Heritage Diver is based on the cushion-shaped dive watches Longines made in the seventies. Both new models are very close to the originals in form and design, right down to the same 43 mm case diameter.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Introducing the Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1948 (with specs and price)

The latest vintage inspired Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is a remake of the 1948 model, featuring a silver and blue dial with the distinctive "Fabriqué en Suisse" inscription as on the original.

Jaeger-LeCoultre hit a home run with the first Grande Reverso Ultra Thin (shown here in its Rouge variant), a remake of the 1931 Reverso with a black dial; that was recently joined by a chocolate dial version. JLC has been mining that vein ever since, with the newest addition being the Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1948.

Friday, 16 May 2014

EDITORIAL: Quieter Times for the Luxury Watch Business as Richemont Posts 2013 Results

Luxury watchmaking conglomerate Richemont just announced its full year 2013 results, echoing the rest of the industry, with slower growth and reduced margins due to a slowdown in China and currency effects.

Because Richemont's stable of brands comprise almost entirely of high-end brands like Cartier and Jaeger-LeCoultre, save for Baume & Mercier, its results are a useful as a barometer for the fine watchmaking industry at large.

For the full year to end March 2014 Richemont, which also owns Panerai and Vacheron Constantin, saw sales rise 5%, versus a 14% rise last year. Margins were down and net profit inched up by 3%. That was largely due to unfavourable currency movements and a continued weakness in Asia ex Japan, primarily in China and Hong Kong. This figures are in line with the performance of the Swiss watch industry as a whole.

At constant exchange rates, Europe, the Americas and Japan all grew by double digits, while Asia, which makes up 40% of sales, was up only 6%. Notably, the highest growth in Europe came from the main tourist destinations, implying that demand from travellers, many of whom are from China, is still strong. Chinese demand within Asia, however, has slowed due to the political situation on the Mainland hence the poor showing in the region. As this is likely to persist, so will the impact on watch sales. 

Monday, 12 May 2014

Chopard Acquires the Hotel de Vendôme in Paris to Secure Prime Real Estate for its Store

Chopard has just acquired the Hotel de Vendôme, a luxury hotel located at the Place Vendome in Paris famed for its string of luxury stores. With Chopard's flagship boutique on the ground level of the hotel, this purchase ensures Chopard will continue to be present in a vital retail location.

Illustrating the growing hunger for prime locations in the most expensive shopping districts amongst luxury brands, Chopard recently bought Union Hôtelière Parisienne (UHP), the company which owns the Hotel de Vendome, which sits on the Place Vendome. With just 29 rooms and 10 suites, the Hotel de Vendome is small, but definitely extravagant, with rates averaging US$1500 a night.

More importantly, on the ground level of the hotel is Chopard's flagship Paris store, making this take-over as much about diversification as securing the boutique's location. Now that Chopard owns UHP, the threat of getting turfed out in favour of another watch brand has passed.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Hands-On with Two Very Special Patek Philippe Refs. 5970, Including in Platinum with a Salmon Dial

At the end of the production of the reference 5970, Patek Philippe released a limited number of four-piece sets of the 5970 with special dials, amongst which are these two watches in platinum and rose gold.

Produced from 2005 to 2011, the Patek Philippe Reference 5970 was the last chronograph with perpetual calendar to use a Lemania movement, marking the end of the outsourced ebauche era in Patek Philippe's stellar chronograph history. As is increasingly the case with Patek Philippe's discontinued references, at the end of its production Patek Philippe produced a limited edition of the 5970 featuring special dials never seen before.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Hands-On with the New Vacheron Constantin Skeleton Tourbillon Wristwatches of SIHH 2014 (with live photos and pricing)

At SIHH 2014 Vacheron Constantin unveiled a pair of new open-worked tourbillons - the Malte Tourbillon Openworked and the Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-Day Tourbillon Openworked - bringing what was once a signature complication of the brand back into its line-up.

Vacheron Constantin, more so than its cross-town rival Patek Philippe, has always been amongst the best at skeletonised timepieces, including open-worked complications ranging from chronographs all the way to minute repeaters. In the nineties Vacheron Constantin offered its skeleton tourbillon in both round and tonneau cases, and aSIHH 2014 the brand returned to form with two brand new skeleton tourbillons. 

Both are beautifully open-worked and cased in platinum, but the similarities end there. The Malte Tourbillon Openworked is elegant and tonneau shaped with delicately shaped bridges. On the other hand, the Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-Day Tourbillon Openworked is a larger and heftier timepiece, both in terms of the case and the styling of the movement.