Wednesday, March 7, 2007

2007 Geneva Auto Show

Well it's that time of the year again when Swiss prove once again that besides excellent watches, tasty chocolates and high end anonymous banking apparently they can throw a really nice auto show. Yup this week the big one is upon us - Geneva Auto Show - & with it a whole new slew of model introductions, interesting concepts & world first debuts. Really something for everyone car crazy and too much to talk about in detail although I would love to comment on a few notables of interest to me.

First is the all new Audi A5/S5 really an elegant & sporty interpretation by Audi. First seen as the Nuvolari quattro concept of 2003 this is today's interpretation of high performance and sophisticated coupe design. With a length of 4.63 m, the Audi is larger then it's BMW 3 series counterpart. Four comfortable seats, large usable trunk all add to make this "fiver" a comfortable long-distance tourer. The dynamic performance is provided by various choices of FSI and TDI engines with power ranging from 170 to 265 HP. The running gear is either front wheel or quattro four-wheel drive with choices of short shifted six-speed manual or multitronic auto gearbox. Here's a little video to see what I am talking about.

Second the all new BMW M3 disguised as a Concept car. The preferred daily weapon choice of performance enthusiast worldwide in addition to being a weekend race track warrior choice pictured here in "chrome shadow". Although following the lines of 3 Series Coupé, only the doors, trunk lid and head/tail lamps went unchanged with all other components especially engineered by the M Crew. Under the hood lays all new high-revving V8 engine derived directly from the V10 used in the M5/M6 rumored to be anywhere around 426-450 HP. The new engine, M specific sleek body styling and the high-technology CFRP roof are the highlights best seen in this video.

Third would be a malange of new models intros from: Mercedes new C-Class(blah!); the brand-new, gorgeous Pininfarina designed, long-awaited Maserati GranTurismo(sexy a very nice improvement); newly revised Nissan 350Z (with a new exterior and interior designs as well as a 313HP V6 engine); Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera (increased power, lower weight, robotized mechanical e-gear as standard, sports package including shock absorbers, and special interior & exterior upgraded equipment); and many more that I don't really care much about to comment. More on some fantastic concept machines at a later date.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

9th Habano Cigar Festival - New releases & discountinued cigars

Cuba's ninth annual Habano Festival, ended today, with it the celebration of all things cigar & tobacco. The main thing to be reported surely has to be the new line of renowned & certainly the most famous Cuba brand - Cohiba. The new line called Number five, was presented Monday night during the welcoming ceremony. VP of the Cuban-Spanish corporation Habanos S.A., Manuel Garcia, defined this project as most important for the company at this time. He pointed out that the new product brings together the best characteristics of the Cuban cigar manufacturing tradition which is based on the careful selection of tobacco leaves and a complex process of fermentation over five years. This new line will be presented in 3 new vitolas (Genios, Magicos and Secretos) in either 10 and 20 cigars per box.

Here is a detailed list of all the new releases & discontinued vitolas for 2007.

--- Habanos S.A. New Releases for 2007 ---

Cohiba Maduro 5 : Genios: 5 1/2 x 52
Cohiba Maduro 5 : Magicos: 4 1/2 x 52
Cohiba Maduro 5: Secretos: 4 1/4 x 40
Reserva del Montecristo No.4 - Only 5,000 boxes...20 cigars per box
Hoyo de Monterrey Regalos Edicion Limitada: 5 x 46
Romeo y Julieta Escudos Edicion Limitada: 5 1/2 x 50
Trinidad Ingenios Edicion Limitada: 6 1/2 x 42

Regional Releases

Asia/Pacific: Por Larranaga Robustos de Larranaga (4 7/8 x 50);
Baltic States: El Rey del Mundo Vikingos (5 1/2 x 50);
Belgium: Ramon Allones Specially Selected Gran Robusto (6 1/8 x 50);
Canada: Bolivar Simones (5 x 48);
Great Britain: Por Larranaga Magnifico (6 5/8 x 50);
Mexico: Edmundo Dantes 109 (7 1/4 x 50)
Middle East: Bolivar Double Coronas (7 5/8 x 49);
Spain: Vegas Robaina Maestros (5 1/2 x 50) and
Switzerland (2): Punch Robustos (4 7/8 x 50) and Ramon Allones
Eminencias (5 7/8 x 44)

--- Habanos Discontinued Cigars 2007 -(better get them while they still there) ---

Bolivar Coronas
Diplomaticos No.1
Diplomaticos No.3
Hoyo de Monterrey Hoyo Coronas
Hoyo de Monterrey Short Hoyo Coronas
Juan Lopez Coronas
Juan Lopez Panetelas Superba
Partagas Churchills de Luxe
Partagas Coronas
Partagas de Partagas No. 1
Rafael Gonzalez Lonsdales
Rafael Gonzalez Panetelas
Rafael Gonzalez Slenderellas
El Rey del Mundo Coronas de Luxe
El Rey del Mundo Tainos
Romeo y Julieta Tres Petit Coronas
Saint Luis Rey Lonsdales
Sancho Panza Bachilleres
Sancho Panza Coronas
Sancho Panza Coronas Gigantes
Sancho Panza Sanchos
Quai d'Orsay Gran Coronas.

All in all I have to say I like most of the new product announcements almost much more then last year. I really can't wait to try the new Cohiba Maduro 5's especially due to their rumored aged tobacco lineage to legendary last years LE - the unattainable Behike. Now all that is left is to wait patiently for their arrival, in the mean time relax, pour yourself a drink & light up another.

Friday, March 2, 2007

It's that time WIS again - BaselWorld & SIHH 2007

It is that time again for all of us Watch Idiot Savants.

BASELWORLD, the World Watch and Jewellery Show, will be opening its doors in Basel between April 12 and 19, 2007. As the luxurious venue for the watch and jewellery sectors, this leading trade Show within the industry is set to provide the economic impetus for 2007. For the 2,100 exhibiting companies and more than 90,000 visitors attracted from across the world, BASELWORLD 2007 will once again be the highlight of the year for the luxury goods sector.

SIHH, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, a private trade fair, now in its sixteenth year and held in Geneva each spring from April 16 to 21st, 2007. Sixteen prestigious Haute Horlogerie brands are exhibiting at the 17th SIHH: A.Lange & Söhne, Alfred Dunhill, Audemars Piguet, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Girard-Perregaux, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, JeanRichard, Montblanc, Officine Panerai, Parmigiani Fleurier, Piaget, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constantin, Van Cleef & Arpels.

In 2006, the SIHH welcomed more than 12,000 visitors, including 5,400 customers and 1,200 journalists from around the world. This year upon the invite from my friends at Jaeger-LeCoultre I will be in attandance to fully report on all the exhibiting brands.

Audemars Piguet - The Royal Oak Offshore 2007 Team Alinghi Chronograph

After all the hype and anticipation the news is finally out the AP's 2007 Team Alinghi ROO Chrono is finally here. Well I was never a huge fan of AP ROO's, but for me the initially response is definitely a positive one & I think it was well deserved. This design is truly out there more bold & out there compared to rather docile to all other more recent rehashed ROO's. This is a watch that will be honestly polarizing where you will either love it (or at least over time learn how to) or hate it. I have to say this one just might be that one piece that finally pushes me into the dark AP side.

Lightness and resistance were the key goals targeted both by the Alinghi architects and by the creators of the Royal Oak Offshore Alinghi Team chronograph, which is why the choice material for both was carbon. The watchmakers in Le Brassus discovered and employed a totally new concept applying forging technology to machining carbon resulting in forged carbon. "It's superior mechanical performances and chemical stability, combined with excellent shock-resistance and lightness, determined the choice of forged carbon as the most innovative material suited for it.

In this revolutionary machining of the bezel & case dies, housing a few centimetres of carbon wire pieces results in each part being truly unique. This "forged carbon" material produces an ultra-light 44mm sized chronograph (with the forged carbon version weighs an astonishing 100 grams).

The special design details has been applied this Royal Oak Offshore Alinghi Team chronograph an exceptional & very different ROO model. The dial features all specific Alighni sailing accents: the color red surrounds both the counter at 6 o'clock and 9 o'clock which all incorporate the openworked hand in shape of ship's prow (or some would say "Star Trek" element), while the red Alinghi logo stands at the 3 o'clock position.

The countdown aperture appears in the right-hand upper part of the dial. It counts off the minutes prior to the start of a regatta (10 + 1 minute) and gradually becomes red as it approaches the start time for the race.

The ceramic pushers, forged carbon crown guards and the crown itself form a homogeneous whole that is seamlessly integrated with the case making it appear much wider & flowing. The same is followed in the extra wide band directly integrated with the case via the undulating pin providing a sportier look in addition to optimal comfort wear. The octagonal bezel is in addition highlighted in red with silicon joint and matching black steel screws.

The fresh details and IMO very inviting addition is all these are newly designed oversized steel buckle & the extra wide rubber strap. Finally the amazing detailed caseback which is engraved with a Alinghi team in action as a fitting tribute to the winner of the 31st America's Cup in 2003. In addition to the version distinguished by an all forged carbon case, the Royal Oak Offshore Alinghi Team chronograph is also available with a forged carbon bezel on a pink gold or platinum case. You can read more in depth analysis of Team Alinghi as well the real nice approach to the AP ROO background story at Horomundi.

Rose Gold


Estimated MSRP for the each Team Alinghi model:
Carbon: ~$24,000
Rose Gold: ~$49,000
Platinum: ~$90,000

Technical specifications

26062FS.OO.A002CA.01: forged carbon case and bezel, black dial - limited series of 1,300
26062OR.OO.A002CA.01: 18-carat pink gold case, forged carbon bezel, black dial - limited series of 600
26062PT.OO.A002CA.01: 950 platinum case, forged carbon bezel, black and grey dial - limited series of 107.

Calibre: 2326/2848, selfwinding
Diameter: 11.5 lignes (25,60 mm)
Thickness: 7.30 mm
50 jewels
Power reserve: up to 60 hours
Cadence of the balance: 28,800 vibrations per hour
Finishing: all parts decorated by hand; plate rhodium-plated, bevelled and stippled; bridges adorned with C“tes de GenŠve motif

Forged carbon or 18-carat pink gold or 950 platinum
Forged carbon bezel
Diameter: 44 mm
Case in PVD-coated titanium case depicting a photo of Team Alinghi and bearing the inscription Royal Oak Offshore Alinghi Team - Limited Edition
Ceramic pushers and crown
Bevel screws in black PVD-coated steel

Black-lacquered with central zone adorned with "Mega-ta[word removed]erie" motif - black-lacquered for carbon and pink gold models and grey-lacquered for platinum version
Luminescent or applied numerals for 18-carat pink gold and platinum versions
Alinghi logo at 3 o'clock

Vulcanised rubber strap fully integrated with the case middle, and oversized pin buckle in PVD-coated titanium, or in 18-carat pink gold, or in 950 platinum

Hours and minutes
Flyback chronograph with regatta start function (central seconds hand)
Regatta countdown function

Daily thoughts, musings & interests about anything (mostly horology) that currently makes my soul & grey matter tick.