Friday, November 14, 2008

Watch News: The prize-winners of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2008

The prize-giving ceremony of the 8th Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix took place on November 13, at the Grand Théâtre of Geneva, illuminated by Gerry Hostetter.

The most prestigious prize, the “Aiguille d’Or” (“Golden Hand”), was given this year to the watch by F.P. Journe: The Centigraph Souverain. This new chronograph conquered the hearts and minds of the jury.


With a dozen different prize categories, the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix honors the most creative watchmaking brands every year. Officially supported by the City and State of Geneva, the ceremony attracted the leading managers, journalists and aficionados of the watchmaking world. Presided by Pierre-François Unger in front of a crowd of more than 1500 guests, it was a not-to-be-missed event for international horology.

Adjudged by an international jury of recognized professionals (see the list on www.worldtempus.com), the prizes consecrate the winners in various categories noted below as well as the Best Watchmaker Prize, the Jury’s Prize, the Public Prize and the “Golden Hand” Grand Prix.

The winning watches, in addition to all the other preselected timepieces, can be viewed until the 21st of November in the UBS Corraterie branch office in the centre of Geneva.


List of the prize-winners of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2008

Grand Prix « l’Aiguille d’or » (Golden Hand Prize)- F.P. Journe, Centigraphe Souverain

Best Watchmaker Prize - Giulio Papi

Special Jury Prize - Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie

Favourite Ladies Watch - Piaget, Limelight Magic Hour

Favourite Men’s Watch - Vacheron Constantin, Quai de l’Ile

Favourite Design Watch - Concord, C1 Tourbillon Gravity

Favourite Jewellery Watch - Audemars Piguet, Millenary Pianoforte

Favourite Watch with complication - Jaeger-LeCoultre, Reverso Gyrotourbillon 2

Favourite Sports Watch - TAG Heuer, Grande Carrera Calibre 36 RS Caliper Chronographe

Favourite Full Calendar Watch - Audemars Piguet, Equation du Temps Squelette Jules Audemars

Public Prize - Maurice Lacroix, Starside Eternal Moo

Congratulations to all the winners as most selections like the JLC's Gyrotourbillon 2 & F.P. Journe Centigraphe Souverain seem to validate further the exceptional mastery of hi end watchmaking as well as the hard work being presented in today's horological industry although some of the other category winner choices remain to leave me befuddled.

Info via Worldtempus.com

Saturday, November 8, 2008

News: United States President elect Barack Obama and his watches


I don't get to political on this blog, but this week historical Presidential elections here in the US captured mine as well the global attention thus they need to be mentioned even if it is just in the context of watches.

The junior United States Senator from Chicago, Illinois Barack Obama made history and is the first African American to be elected as the 44th President of the United States. This besides sweeping away the last racial barrier in American politics electing him with ease in many ways it signifies change and new hope for the citizens of this country as well the US image abroad in these difficult economic times.


So in the words of my President elect "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment, change has come to America." All I can say Thank you Mr. President.

So enough of my mumbling about politics I thought it would be appropriate to take a look at the man of the moment from a different aspect and a more personal horological insight in this fantastic article Obama's watches by Jeff Stein. Enjoy!

Watch News: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Survivor Chronograph


Over the last year much has been speculated by AP's ferment ROO aficionados about the final design and name of yet another very much talked about AP Special Edition ROO. Well the time has come and it's finally here! On November 6th the day of the Global Launch (sounds so sinister) all of the AP ROO faithful have gather around the world to be finally introduced to a finished product they debated about for so long.


Overall I find the finishing and many of the design cues to be very interesting and well executed in particular my surprise that I'm for once a fan of the execution of the dial which with ROO's can be IMHO very cluttered and dare I say colorfully confusing. The open worked hands and vertical grooved ceramic bezel are another two aesthetically successful details tying up the whole "sinister" design. I also liked that they successful carried on the wider non-tappered vulcanized rubber style strap first introduced on the Team Ainghi LE.


On the other hand what I don't like is cartoonish elements such as these crown guards, notched "gun barrel" rim of the crown, as well as the ratcheted case edge. Then its the usual complaint of YET another LE ROO (number 69 and counting LOL), yet another PVD'd black watch (I thought only Hublot was the company that still thinks that is something innovative) and of course lets not forget the very lame name. No secret here that I am no fanboy of ROO's altogether but c'mon AP how long can you continue following the same old ROO LE thing.

“Survivor” mission:

- Readability, functionality and high precision, the wearer is liable to find himself confronted with an unknown and hostile environment – overpopulated megalopolis, urban jungle cosmic construction sites, etc.
- High-tech architecture: ultra-light, high-resistance materials that adjust to body temperature.
- Design: ergonomic and sophisticated, genetic markers of the Royal Oak Offshore collection pushed to extremes.
- Mechanical performance: exclusive chronograph movement.

Technical specifications:

Follow this link to see the SURVIVOR MOVIE

High-tech materials:

Blackened titanium plays the starring role. This ultra-light material has been chosen for the case and the surrounding elements: studs, push pieces and guards, crown and oversize strap buckle. The same goes for the medallion back featuring a special non-slip texture.

Titanium also shows up on the lower part of the octagonal bezel, while its upper part opts for ceramics. The latter is distinguished by clearly marked vertical grooves reminiscent of the characteristic satin finish of the Royal Oak Offshore collection.

The strap is made from vulcanized rubber, an indispensable part of the extreme sports universe. Its matte black granular surface accentuates the adventurous camouflage-type look of this chronograph issued in a limited edition of 1000.

Shapes and ergonomics:


Each detail is meticulously designed to ensure a blend of efficiency and lightness. The perforations on the bezel lighten up the structure without compromising its sturdiness. The hollowed push pieces equipped with a security look ensure user-friendly handling. In a similar vein, the generous size and notched rim of the crown, as well as the ratcheted case edge, facilitate getting a quick and sure grip on this exceptional instrument. The conical shape of the push pieces guarantees instant activation of the chronograph function, while the skeleton hands, luminescent hour-markers and silver-colored small seconds counter guarantee optimal readability by day or night. And finally, since nothing is left to chance, a careful observer will note the apertures on the case middle and studs.

The Royal Oak Offshore signature features:

- Strongbox-type case water-resistant to 100 meters, with anti magnetic system designed to protect the mechanism from any hostile element
- Hexagonal socket-head screws echoing the legendary hexagonal screws of the Royal Oak Offshore models
- Exclusive “Mega Tapisserie” guilloché pattern on the dial, matched on this model by the checkered motif on the strap
- Strap perfectly integrated with the case

High-precision instrument

The Royal Oak Offshore Survivor houses the exclusive Audemars Piguet self-winding Calibre 3126/3840, guaranteeing sturdiness, reliability and precision rating:
- up to 60 hours’ power reserve thanks to a mainspring which, by supplying constant force over a longer time-span, ensures enhanced rating accuracy;
- a cross-through balance-cock reinforcing the stability of the movement;
- a balance-stop mechanism serving to immobilize the seconds hand and thus enabling time-setting to the nearest second;
- a variable-inertia balance equipped with eight inertia-blocks enabling precise and stable adjustment;
- fast date correction with an integrated security system avoiding any risk of date disc blockage when the adjustment occurs at midnight;
- bidirectional automatic winding of the mainspring by means of a 22-carat gold rotor mounted on a ball-bearing mechanism;


Technical Specifications
Royal Oak Offshore Survivor Chronograph

Reference
26165IO.OO.A002CA.01
Limited series of 1000

Movement
Calibre: 3126/3840, self winding
Total diameter : 26 mm (11 ½ lignes)
Thickness : 7.16 mm
59 jewels
365 parts
Up to 60-hour power reserve
Cadence of the balance: 21,600 vibrations per hour
Variable-inertia type balance with eight inertia-blocks and a flag balance-spring
Geneva-type mobile balance-spring stud-holder
Three-position winding crown
Finishing: all parts decorated by hand; main plate rhodium-plated, bevelled and stippled; bridges adorned with Côtes de Genève motif

Case
Strongbox-type case with anti magnetic system, cone-shaped pushpieces, hollowed pushpiece guards, crown, crown guard and studs in blackened titanium
Perforated ceramic bezel
Diameter: 42 mm
Thickness: 1.565 mm
Water resistance: 100 metres
Medallion back in blackened titanium with non-slip motif, titanium zone engraved with the inscription Royal Oak Offshore Survivor – Limited Edition

Dial
Matt black, exclusive “Mega Tapisserie” guilloché motif
Snailed hour circle
Luminescent open worked hour and minute hands
Luminescent applied hour-markers

Strap

Vulcanized rubber with chequered motifs and oversized buckle in blackened titanium

Functions
Hours and minutes
Small seconds
Chronograph with central sweep seconds hand, 30-minute and 12-hour counters
Tachometer scale around the flange
Date

For more real world photos of the watch as well some excellent coverage of the Survivor launch follow the link posted by TZ's Paul Boutros of the AP NY Boutique event

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

News: Jaeger-LeCoultre signed a Partnership agreement with the U.S. Navy SEALs!


Yup exciting news for all vintage, military and especially JLC aficionados report by the great Stephan Ciejka from LaRevuedesMontre


Translated: "The Swiss Manufacture Jaeger LeCoultre has signed a cooperation agreement with the special forces command of the U.S. Navy, and becomes the partner of the famous watchmaker Navy SEALs, commandos and combat swimmers of the Navy of the United States. This collaboration is expected to last several years, and will lead to the production of special series, and more limited, which will be tested by operators of the unit during the coming months. The activity of this elite unit made a test laboratory particularly valuable."


In short the announcement of the cooperation with JLC and U.S. Navy SEALs resulting in development of some very cool diving watches over the next few years. The only other thing I can disclose is that we might see some sooner then the summer is expected ;-)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Independent watchmakers News: Great artickle about new brand from Ludwig Oeschslin - "Ochs und Junior"


A great report by Timm Delfs brought us by Ian Skellern at Horomundi. If you are fan of the simplistic genius work that Ludwig Oeschslin has been doing over the years you will definitely love to hear more about this collaboration with Paul Gerber. Both the "Settimana Junior" and "Anno" feature innovative and simple display such as the one seen on Settimana - semicircle of dots that indicate what day of the week it is.


"Anno" a more "serious" piece features a new Paul Gerber automatic caliber and Ludwig's specialty of annual calendar. All this and being in such minimalist design yet on the other hand quite complicated and impeccably finished. I love news like this thus I am quite intrigued and can't wait to hear more.

Info and photo via www.Horomundi.com and www.ochsundjunior.ch/

Thursday, October 30, 2008

TAG Heuer joins the FHH club


La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland — TAG Heuer has become a member of the exclusive Swiss watchmaking club, the Foundation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), joining the ranks of the Richmond heavyweights such as Cartier, Jaeger Le-Coultre and Audemars Piguet.

For TAG Heuer, the membership became official Oct. 1, capping off "a 150-year history dedicated to the pursuit of ultimate precision and inspired by a constant quest for innovation," the brand said in a press release issued earlier this week.


As part of its association, TAG Heuer will showcase the "Grand Carrera Calibre 8 RS Grande Date GMT," part of the Grand Carrera series of 2007, at two of this season's most important watch fairs: the Munich Time show, set for Oct. 30 through Nov. 2, 2008, in Munich, Germany, and the Salon Belles Montres in Paris, set to take place Nov. 28-30.

Established in Geneva in 2005 to celebrate the heritage and values of fine watchmaking, the FHH promotes Swiss watchmaking culture and tradition by communicating the professional and ethical values of authenticity, creativity and innovation on which the industry's legitimacy is founded.

"The FHH has gained the respect and admiration of the fine watchmaking industry as a whole," Jean-Christophe Babin, president and chief executive officer of TAG Heuer said in a press release issued Monday. "We are extremely proud to become an active member and thus demonstrate our commitment to the founding values of haute horlogerie."

More details can be found on the official FHH Web site.

I welcome their addition so hopefully at a future event we'll finally get to see the much talked about yet maligned in both delivery & execution - the Monaco V4 concept.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Economic downturn & the effects on the horlogy industry?

Much has been said already about the global economic downturn affecting the US and now the rest of the world. So much in fact that it affects our daily thoughts in every aspect of our life. This impact is here to stay with us for unforeseen times thus affecting everything including many of ours horology acquisition and collecting habits. Now I will not go on about what/whom/where/why did it happen nor will I try and predict the future. All I will state is how I see it affecting me/us right not and how I see it developing.

There is definitely a correction from watch market valuation highs from the middle of the year especially evident in the vintage watch markets. The biggest change I see now (and for the future) is in the middle to low market where the effects are clearly evident. The middle to entry level consumers momentarily will see the sharpest decline due to lack of disposable income for luxury objects of desire. I say momentarily because as disposable income becomes available we will see the return en mass because the timepiece in today's digital age is not anymore just a time telling tool but rather the reflection of ones style, persona & emotional desires (very much like ones home, car, clothes, etc). On the other hand there is no abating in the high-end market with clear expansion in the very high-end due to unseciable demand in ever growing numbers of emerging markets new millionaires.

The positive thing of potential reduced demand for watches as a result of this is that finally the supply and manufacturing capabilities of the companies will catch up to true demand. Thus resulting in a move back to the equilibrium including both exuberant pricing increases of the past few years, increase in service and quality control of manufacturing, increase in true watchmaking talent pool & timely deliveries for the true aficionados that will stay in this horology game.

Another positive result evident already is sharp reduction of speculators and flippers which puts a smile on every true watch aficionado dial. In addition I foresee further consolidation in the horology industry with hopefully weeding out the overcrowded field of the weak, lemmings & the inconsequential that benefited from the past half decade of the horology renaissance. All in all as you can see not all news are that bad because once the economic fortunes bounce back (which eventually they undoubtedly will) the industry will emerge much more complete, efficient and stronger – of course this is just my humble opinion which just might be completely wrong.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cigar Review: Saint Louis Rey – Serie A

Cigar review: Saint Louis Rey – Serie A Box Code: Nov. 1995

This box was abruptly cracked open after a 13 year sleep in the humidor specifically on my request and generously gifted by a good friend, so big thanks to Viken. I figured this at least deserved a proper review as one doesn’t get a chance to find such home aged treasures so easy. So enough of the chit chat and let’s get into the nitty gritty of things.


As you might see for yourself the wrapper held a nice colorado color and was devoid of any veins (not much plume to report to which I was surprised due to its 13 year old age, but I could have just whipped it off while handling it).  I had it a bit on a dry side below 63% RH (still no to dry) to avoid any draw and burn problems - there were none.  The draw was excellent, easy and slow yet not to fast to rush the cigar.  The cigar provided a nice amount of smoke and created wonderful white and firm ash.
It was truly divine and nothing like I expected it to be (isn't being positively surprised the best thing in the end?).  If I was to guess I would have not been even close to SLR Series A as the profile was even mellower then what I was expecting, however the taste was wonderfully complexed.  As for taste I was drinking a nice Bordeaux (with my NY strip) so it didn't really jibe perfectly overpowering the cigar which I rectified soon enough by poring a bit of my Caol Ila aka peaty nectar of Gods ;-)  Now for the taste there was no harshness of a young cigar to be noticed whatsoever. Also I didn't get any licorice, chocolate or too much cedar taste so easily associated with Series A, but rather the musky meaty earthy tones which later developed into espresso and dark chocolate all over laced with subtitle yet noticeable sweetness that I could only describe as combo of honey and caramel.  From my memory the progression from start to finish was not as pronounced as with many younger examples I sampled before although there certainly was a progression it was much more delicate and smooth.  The overall flavor of tobacco and cedar was there even though it didn't dominate the palate (as with many fresh cigars) it maintained the presence through, while allowing other flavors to show through and enhance the overall tasting experience.  I don't do analytical scoring, however if I did this one would score right there at the top in the category of delicate and refined flavors experiences I had a chance to enjoy.

The biggest mistake I did was not pairing this up with more suitable restrained drinking choice as it certainly did deserve a much superior match.  What I gathered from this experience is that really there is no myth of aging cigars that indeed it is a reality - they do get better with age just like fine wine.  Now as for the fact that I was perhaps a bit overmatched to truly gouge the subtleties of such a fine example I will plead the 5th.

Update ... I'm baaack!

First a note of apology to everyone that has been leaving messages and comments of support during my unexpected time off from the blog. I have just been way to busy with day to day life as well sincerely unmotivated due to some past personal & professional issues. The good news is that so many of you have been just been so encouraging and appreciative for all the posts that I simply can not digress anymore or use any lame excuses, but to get back on track.

Note of caution thought! I do like to share my sincere thoughts and not hold back writing in a certain way, but always while inspired and truly immersed in the topics at hand. From now on in order to catch up as well to frequently post I just might throw some posts/pictures/comments together that might not be as I (and You) have been used to. This will not be a lowering of a certain standard that I behold to maintain, but rather a snippet, instead of the usual essay of the daily topic at hand (including my point of view arguments, observations of daily life, recollections and reflections). Hope you enjoy the ride!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Watch News: Decima MAS Strumento XZ 221 further versions

I have just gotten a confirmation from the makers of the Decima MAS seen in last year review of the Decima MAS Strumento XZ 221 that two additional variations of this Limited Edition model are incoming to market. As you read in the introduction of this piece the XZ221-001 is a water-proof instrument, produced and tested for extreme climatic condition featuring that unique, highly distinctive and IMHO wonderful red chocolate a.k.a. "root beer" dial. Since the watch inception as a dedicated LE of 1941 pieces it was originally planned to have, within this millesemation number, slight yet different variations to distinguish this unique model series even further.


Since then we have seen the addition of all black dial, but the news of the day is that the the new variants of the Strumento XZ will follow closely to the tool heroic roots. Think almost tactical series - an all manual wind 16 lignes movement and an all black case finish!!! Sounds stupendous thus I can't wait for a full debrief.

Due to embargo I can't specify much more, but I should have further detailed information towards the start of next week.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Auction News: Sotheby’s Geneva Evening Sale of Important Watches

Sotheby’s Geneva Evening Sale will offer Important Watches at Auction on Sunday, May 11th, 2008. Comprising around 200 lots, the sale is highlighted by an important and possibly unique over-sized single button chronograph wristwatch created by Patek Philippe in 1932. Formerly the property of Count Carlo Felice Trossi, this piece is estimated to sell over $2 million.


The “Trossi Legenda” Patek Philippe

Measuring 46 millimeters in diameter, this chronograph is most probably unique and is one of the largest wristwatches ever made by the company. It was clearly specially chosen by Count Trossi as a practical timekeeper for use in motor racing and aviation to assist with the accurate timing of events in a highly visible format. In later years, aviators’ wristwatches were typically large in size and very few were made by Patek Philippe. Only one other wristwatch of similar size by Patek Philippe has appeared on the auction market and that was manufactured some 20 years later with a substantially smaller movement. Count Carlo Felice Trossiwas was born into an aristocratic Italian family 100 years ago on 27th April 1908. Captivated by the possibilities of speed, Count Trossi was a motor car and speed boat racer as well as an early pioneer of flight. In 1932 he became the President of Ferrari Scuderia. The highlights of Trossi’s motoring career culminated in his wins at the Italian and Swiss Grand Prix respectively in the years 1947 and 1948.

Another highlight in the sale is an extremely rare and fine over-sized stainless steel chronograph Patek Philippe wristwatch with register, no.862323, Ref. 530A, dated 1939. Among the four wristwatches with reference 530A known to have been made by Patek Philippe, the example included in the sale is the only one featuring this particular dial. From a private collector, this piece is estimated at CHF700,000-900,000 ($635,000-815,000 ).

Info via Sotheby's and Europastar.

Horology News: Richemont: Unaudited Sales Figures for the financial year ended 31 March 2008

Some interesting Richemont sales figures data for this past year just released. What we can easily see is almost double digit sales across the whole group areas of business, but especially in the specialty watchmaking groups noted highest sales growth by IWC and Jaeger LeCoultre. Farther geographical breakdown shows the anticipated highest growth in the Asia-Pacific region of 31% (headed by China and Hong Kong) with suspected low teens percentage growth in both Europe and Americas. Interesting how Europe still counts for almost 43% of the total group sales as compared to quarter of Asia-Pacific and one fifth of Americas. Another clue is that Middle East and I assume Russia as well are counted as Europe group sales so it would be very interesting to see a further country breakdowns. Sadly there were no individual brand sales breakdowns for further analysis.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Brand Overview: de Grisogono "say what?"

de Grisogono .... say what?

History

Who would have when I would have ever talked about watch news from de Grisogono or any other mainly jewelry/fashion oriented brand. This year marks de Grisogono 15th anniversary and the 8th year since it introduced its first watch. They have much to celebrate having accomplished a remarkable amount in its fairly brief history. Founded in 1993 as a Geneva boutique based jewelry maker lauded early for its inventive high-end jewelry pieces and the untraditional use of gemstones. The brands commander and designer in chief, unrestrained and always bold Fawaz Gruosi, is the one always deservedly credited for the continuing growth and success of this brand. Although he never obtained any formal design or horology schooling Gruosi knows and does what he likes and so far it has proven to be a winning strategy. From his love affair with dark gemstones (today he is credited with popularizing black diamonds which are sort of a signature of the brand), to icy white diamonds collection (paired up in combination with pearls and gems), galuchat (highly texture stingray skin), to grey and brown gold and diamonds. You could say anything unusual has crossed it doors and became wildly popular with de Grisogono customers.


In 2000 finally the watches got their turn and Gruosi didn't fail to disappoint. Under the guide of his own preferences for functions Gruosi designed the Instrumento No. Uno which was a bonafied hit and still is the best seller of this young brand. Among the dual functions, large geometric case with mobile lugs, a very distinctive styling and finally the signature touch of a black diamond set in the crown. Followed were annual intros of models comprising of men's and women's various limited and non-limited as well as dress and sport versions. As demand has grown so has their manufacturing but at a measured pace. Operating from the recently expanded Plans-les-Quates workshop they produced approximately 4,000 watches in 2007 and may expand in future up to a self imposed cap of 10,000 watches. As well keeping their distribution exclusive and retail in check, their goal it to establish up to 20 boutiques worldwide.

All this leading up to BaselWorld 2008 with excited rumors of a revolutionary new models including a new movement that would change the way de Grisogono was perceived in the eyes of many horology aficionados. After having a chance to view the new models all I can say is that they certainly succeeded at that.

Otturatore

De Grisogono defied the fundamentals of watchmaking with the launching of its Otturatore, a timepiece combining audacity, refinement and modernism. Aptly named
9Otturatore means shutter) recalling the function of the photo cameras with goood reason as its mobile dial features a sequential display of seconds, date, moon phases and power reserve, with 3 of them always concealed.


By a simple manipulation, the sequential mechanism of the Otturatore can be displaced by 90°, simplifying the display of multiple subdials and indicators which tend to clutter a dial by revealing only one at a time, of course at its owners demand. Building this mechanical module (2892 base with a module made by Soprod) that makes this possible is quite a complex challenge with a lot of thought and R&D needed to accomplish this successfully in house. This highly ingenious, very playful and pleasing function is in principle appearing very simple yet it is deceptively just the opposite.


At a slight press of the buttons (only a millimeter) it has to release enough energy to move the mobile dial by 90 degrees in a few tenths of the millisecond (for the purpose of comparison ordinary chronograph movement takes a few hundreds of a millisecond). Thus this piece needs to sync and performs 15 dynamic functions (command, coupling, uncoupling, mechanical memory, gearing's, etc) in a few tenths of a millisecond taking into account inertia, energy and friction.


What should be notable for this timepiece, brand and horology overall is that until now horological complications usually played the showmanship extroverted part in the execution of a particular function while the Otturatore definitely belongs to the other dimension.


Movement
Automatic DG 037, exclusive De Grisogono/Soprod 9015 calibre, 21,600 vib/h, 39 jewels, 44-hour power reserve

Functions
Hours, minutes, seconds, date, moon phase, and power reserve indicator

Case
Curved rectangular, 5N 18K pink gold, 31.40 x 32.70 mm
Sapphire front and back
Water-resistant to 30 m

Dial
Silvered, Clou de Paris decoration, in two pieces with bidirectional rotating center
Sequential mechanical display of seconds, date, moon phases and power reserve at 9, 3, 12 and 6 o’clock respectively
Applied hour-markers and dauphine hands in 18K pink gold

Bracelet/Strap
Black crocodile, 18K pink gold double folding clasp


Meccanico DG

De Grisogono ushers in a new era with its creation of the very first mechanical digital display. A veritable horological masterpiece with a movement comprising no fewer than 651 elements, making this mechanical movement one of the most intricate made today. The Meccanico DG features two time zones, it is the first to display both analogue and digital time by mechanical means. This world first - and de GRISOGONO patent! - features a highly complex time mechanism inside a particularly contemporary design.


The MECCANICO dG can be described as a dense cluster of microsystems featuring extremely elaborate cam and gear assemblies. Its exclusive de GRISOGONO handwound mechanical movement comprises 651 components. It is composed of an analogue display of the hours and minutes on the upper dial and a digitally displayed second timezone on the lower dial. The mechanically operated digital display of the second timezone shows tens of hours, single hours, tens of minutes and single minutes, all displayed by mobile microsegments driven by an assemblage of 23 cams connected to a set of gears and a triggering and synchronization system. The time information is displayed by an array of 23 horizontally and vertically positioned micro segments. Vertical segments are 9 mm high and weigh at most 25 milligrams while the horizontal segments measure 2.90 mm in length and weigh only 10 milligrams. The segments have four faces: two opposing visible faces fitted with colored strips and two opposing unmarked faces. Time changes are effected by 90° rotations of the required segment or segments. Involving one to twelve segments, time changes are lightning fast.

Its intricate mechanical systems are visible through its transparent dial plate. Also featuring colored strips, the analogue time displays hour markers seem suspended in thin air so as to reveal the underlying mechanism. Like every de GRISOGONO movement, the MECCANICO dG's own caliber is meticulously finished and its components blackened.


Despite the power needed to generate the double analogue and digital display and the torque required to effect the instantaneous rotation of the digital displays micro segments, the MECCANICO's hand wound mechanical movement, exclusive to de GRISOGONO, provides a power reserve of some 35 hours, visible through a cambered sapphire backplate on a 90° sectoral display on the movement's reverse side.


The MECCANICO dG is expertly fashioned to match its exceptional movement. Notable for large dimensions (56 x 48 mm) and cambered lines, water-resistant to 30 meters (~ 100 feet), this innovating design is available in a choice of styles: titanium, titanium and red gold, titanium and rubber and titanium and platinum. In keeping with the designs futuristic allure, its correctors and the crown guard are fashioned from vulcanized rubber. Its analogue display is set by the crown opposite 3 o'clock while the second timezone is set by a pair of correctors - for hours at left, for minutes at right. Also crafted from vulcanized rubber, the strap is fitted with a deployment clasp buckle featuring the de Grisogono crest.


Driven by an insatiable quest for innovation, the maestro Fawaz Gruosi has achieved what others do not dare to dream, propelling haute horlogerie into a new dimension. Limited edition of 177.

Movement
Hand-wound DG 042, exclusive De Grisogono calibre, 28,800 vib/h, 35-hour power reserve

Functions
Analogue display of hours and minutes in upper part
Mechanical digital display of second time zone in lower part

Case
Curved rectangular in titanium, 18K pink gold, titanium and 18K pink gold, titanium and rubber, or titanium and platinum, 56 x 48 mm
Sapphire front and back
Correctors and crown-cover in vulcanised rubber
Water-resistant to 30 m

Dial
Transparent black
Two time zone displays, analogue and digital mechanical, De Grisogono patent
Green or gold dauphine hands

Bracelet/Strap
Black natural rubber with titanium or 18K pink gold folding clasp

Info via InSync, Swisstime, and de Grisogono.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Brand Preview: Favre-Leuba "the brand that made its comeback"

Combining past and future

The company has enjoyed its moments of glory, but like so many other old watchmaking companies , it almost disappeared from the horology collective vernaculars. The luck would have it that with the current Horology Renaissance the brand survived the very worst of times and become active again in the watchword with grand plans coupled with re inventive strategy and vigor.

After several takeovers from 1969 onwards (ranging from Bendome SA to LMVH), the watch company finally regained its independence in 2003. During that period a Spanish financier, Roberto Lopez Haba, bought the firm and established a small yet ever growing enthusiastic team. Since everything had to be started from scratch everything had to be moved level by level with overall management given to young Richmond bred CEO Clement Brunet-Moret. The comprised small team armed with the huge number of historical products works in unison with a network of independent specialist on resurrecting the old brand in a new age of haute horologie. The proposed pieces objective is to go beyond the simple measure of time to offer new innovations and functions with refinement in the execution. Targeting this niche market the stated goal is to produce 2,000 pieces per year with a price range from 10,000 to 30,000.

Last year, in a return to its origins, it launched a new mens collection called Mercury and this year with the new Bathy V2. Inspired by the eclipse of the planet Mercury by Venus in 1737 – the year that the Favre Manufacture was officially registered – this collection marks the return of the brand to the center of the watch stage.

Historical roots of the brand


Even though Abraham Favre laid the foundation stone of the Favre-Leuba building almost three hundred years ago, it was from 1940 to 1970 that the brand made its most important technical advances in the field of watchmaking, at a time when it was producing almost 600,000 watches a year. Many of us will have forgotten that Favre-Leuba created the first twin-barrel movements, like the FL 251 calibre and the extra-thin FL 269.

BIVOUAC - The watch for every summit


In 1934, the young ethnologist, Paul-Emile Victor, made his first trip to Greenland. In 1947, this ecology pioneer founded the French Polar Expeditions and went on to lead 31 missions to the Arctic and Antarctic. From 1962 onwards, one instrument emerged as his indispensable companion: the famous Favre-Leuba Bivouac.

1962 – BIVOUAC



The revolutionary BIVOUAC has been regarded as an essential instrument for mountaineers since its launch in 1962. It is equipped with multiple measurement functions, one of which indicates the altitude and the weather based on barometric pressure. The aneroid barometer is a real mechanical marvel that functions by means of a partial vacuum in a metal capsule, which contracts when the air pressure is high and expands when it is low. These variations are amplified and transmitted to a mechanism which, coupled with an altimeter, displays the information on the dial.

– Rotating bezel with mobile altitude scale
– Barometric scale with red marker at 760 mmHg
– Red altimeter-barometer hand

Housed in a stainless steel case, the movement has really been really put through its paces, on all five continents and in all conditions. History will remember the extremely accurate performance of this legendary watch in the most hostile environments, at least for as long as it remembers the adventures of some very exceptional men who loved the great outdoors. Aside from Paul-Emile Victor’s expeditions to the Antarctic mentioned above, there were Michel Darbellay’s first
solo ascent of the Eiger and Walter Bonatti’s first conquest of the north face of the Matterhorn. At the end of his climb, this mountaineering virtuoso said, “I can only praise the good performance of the Bivouac; a marvel and a friend!”

From ice to ocean depths


Before worrying about rust, watchmakers sought a way to combat dust. It was from research into sealing their timepieces against air-born impurities that the first water-resistant watches were born. But it was thanks to the invention of the screw-down
crown that the first truly waterproof watch was made. Since then, diver’s watches have undergone spectacular progress, aided by their use in submarine combat units.

1966 - BATHY

BIVOUAC on left and BATHY on right

It was with the BATHY that Favre-Leuba created the first depth gauge graduated in metres (50 m) and feet (160 ft). Besides indicating the length of time spent underwater, the BATHY gave divers a direct and accurate reading of their depth. The BATHY still embodies the Favre-Leuba spirit: inventing new precision instruments that unite the art of watchmaking and a passion for sport.

– Water-resistance tested to 10 atm
– Unidirectional rotating bezel with 60 notches for calculating diving time
– Decompression stages indicator
– High-resistance glass
– Fluorescent displays

2007 - MERCURY

The Mercury collection (name cleverly combining two unique events: the official registration of the Favre Manufacture in Le Locle in 1737 and an extremely rare eclipse (it occurs only every 396 years) of the planet Mercury by Venus) illustrates Favre-Leuba’s ongoing commitment to quality and inspiration as well as its dedication to perfection.


It comprises three lines: Mercury Chronograph FL 301, Mercury Big Date FL 302 and Mercury Power Reserve FL 303. Each of the timepieces are fitted with automatic movements (currently ETA models with Dubois Despraz module) with additional manufacture-made modules.


Each model in the collection stands out for its unique design and the very meticulous attention paid to the finishing, a succession of brushed or polished surfaces, hallmarking our watchmakers' obsession with perfection. Also noteworthy is the perfect integration of the system of push buttons with the bridge which harmonize perfectly with the shape of the watch case, thus giving strength, refinement and balance to the Mercury collection timepieces. The exposed screws proudly bear engravings of the celebrated hourglass, the logo of our Maison. The back of the case back depicts the eclipse of 1737, a discreet reference to the origins of Favre-Leuba.


The dial is both refined due to its complexity (it is made up of 27 parts), but also powerful due to the volumes of the guilloché and its indexes. More careful observers will notice the presence of the Greek letter sigma, an ancestral indication that the indexes are in solid gold. The use of solid gold for the hands also attests the attention to detail and to quality.

Notoriety and inventiveness have also been built up at the Maison Favre-Leuba through the development of exclusive watchmaking systems. The Mercury collection now introduces the « Embedded Running Indicator » (ERI) and the « Bidirectional / Crown Locking System » (B/CLS).

The ERI (embedded running indicator) is a continuously rotating disc decorated with the hourglass (the logo of the brand since time immemorial). Partially hidden and giving life to the dial, it reflects the duality of the conjunction between Mercury and Venus in the year when Favre-Leuba was founded, and symbolizes the vitality of the timepiece, its inner life.

The innovative and patented B/CLS (bidirectional / crown locking system) which equips all Mercury models prevents the crown from being manipulated accidentally, possibly resulting in unintended changes of the date or time. There are in fact two crowns on the models equipped with this system: an inner crown, which has first to be turned either way (clockwise or anti-clockwise) to unlock the system before the outer crown can be pulled out to adjust the date or time. A red visual indication on the bridge between the two crowns indicates if the system is unlocked. Another innovation of this system is that the movement can be wound up by hand regardless of the position of the B/CLS system. Furthermore it ensures the timepiece remains waterproof at all times, even when the system is unlocked with the outer crown pulled in its adjustment position. It thus provides optimal protection to the calibre which is therefore never exposed to outside air that could vehicle micro-particles or humidity.

The folding clasp, an exclusive and patented Favre-Leuba system, introduces a new spring and pushers technology. And with two pins the strap has a better hold and therefore greater security when these timepieces are used in a sports environment. The buckle has also been designed to limit to the absolute minimum any direct contact between the skin and metal, with the longer part of the strap passing between the wrist and the buckle, thus making it as comfortable to wear as possible.

Price ranges between 10,000- 20,000 CHF's depending on the selected configuration of the model and the materials.

2008 - BATHY V.2

This year at BeaselWorld 2008 the brand presented the prototypes of the new Bathy V2, more than 40 years after its revolutionary impact on the world of diver’s watches, the legendary Bathy is making a major comeback. The Bathy V.2 is equiped with innovative depth meter which functions by means of pressure on a membrane which is still classified although it is unofficially confirmed to be a beryllium copper.


This membrane contracts under the pressure of the water entering the double back resulting in truly impressive deviation of less than 0.18%. Bathy V.2 will be available in three models with three different membranes with depth meters of 45m,150m and 300 meters respectively. Amongst other features it will be a fully automatic movement encased in a complex grade five titanium 46mm case with rotating bezel with large numerals and easily readable over sized hands all held together by a rubber strap.

Mercury Collection - TECHNICAL DATA:

The FL 301 Chronograph Rose Gold



Movement
Calibre FL 301, chronometer certified COSC
Self-winding mechanical movement,
28,800 vib/h, 55 jewels, 297 components
Power reserve of 44 hours.

Functions
Hours, minutes, date
Chronograph with 45 minutes counter Embedded Running Indicator (ERI).

Case
Rose Gold (18K) Diameter 44 mm
Cambered sapphire glass with extra hard anti-reflection coating
Patented Bidirectional / Crown Locking System (B/CLS)
Screwed in caseback and bezel
Screws with Favre-Leuba logo requesting special tool to be unscrewed
Water-resistant to 100 meters in all conditions even with the crown pulled in adjustment position.

Dial
27 components
Galvanic treatment
Exclusive guilloche
Hands and indexes applied in gold (18K) with superluminova, excepted big second in pfinodal Greek Sigma symbol on the dial indicating that the indexes are in solid gold.

Straps
Rubber strap,
Exclusive and patented folding clasp in Rose Gold (18K) with twin safety lock system

The FL 305 Bathy V.2


Movement
Automatic, exclusive FL 305 calibre,
23 jewels, 28,800 vib/h, 224 components, 44-hour power reserve

Functions
Hours, minutes, seconds, date.
Depth gauge to 45 meters or 150 feet, decompression-stage indicator, diving-time gauge

Case
Grade 5 titanium, 46 mm
Anti-reflective convex sapphire crystal
Screw-down, engraved double back with membrane depth gauge (metres or feet)
Water-resistant to 300 m

Dial
Galvanic black, engine-turned by Favre-Leuba
Rotating flange and large Arabic numerals
Depth indicator in red, yellow or orange
All elements coated with Superluminova

Bracelet/Strap
Grey rubber with buckle

More detailed photos and information can be found on the Favre-Leuba Website.

Horology News: LVMH acquires the Swiss watchmaker Hublot

Paris, 24 April 2008

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s leading luxury group, announces that it has signed an agreement to acquire the Hublot group, a top of the range watchmaker enjoying very strong growth.

LVMH will acquire Hublot from Mr Carlo Crocco, who founded the group in 1980, and a company controlled by Mr Jean-Claude Biver, who has managed ublot since 2004.

Hublot is a brand that is highly complementary to LVMH’s existing watch portfolio comprising TAG Heuer, the world leader in prestigious sport watches and chronographs, the Swiss Watch Manufacturer Zenith, Dior Montres, Louis Vuitton watches sold exclusively in Louis Vuitton stores, and the watch collections of jewellers Chaumet, Fred and De Beers.

Strong growth potential


Hublot, which has its headquarters and workshops near Geneva, has started building a factory at Nyon to accommodate its expansion plans. Having grown at a rapid pace since 2004, the brand achieved net revenue of more than CHF150 million in 2007 with an excellent profitability. A very significant increase in revenue is expected in 2008.

Today, Hublot has a very selective and efficient distribution network which is limited to 300 stores worldwide.

Hublot has a well-balanced geographic footprint spanning Switzerland, Spain, France, Germany, the US, Latin America, Middle East, Russia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore… The brand has recently been launched in China and India and has strong growth potential in Asia, Japan, North America and in certain European markets.

Exceptional watches and chronographs

Hublot offers ranges of exceptional quality watches that are innovative, very differentiated and combining fusions of materials, precious metals, (gold, platinum,…) technological metals (titanium, tantalum…), ceramics, diamonds and natural rubber.

The renowned Big Bang collection includes models equipped with automatic movements whose prices range from €8,000 (steel and ceramic) to over €300,000, integrating precious metals and technical complexity.

A new Big Bang collection for women was launched at the last Basel watch fair with great success.

Finally, the traditional classic line has been recently redesigned using natural rubber, zircon, gold and ceramics.

Carlo Crocco, founder of Hublot, said : “I am happy that Hublot, an innovative brand since is creation, is joining the LVMH group, the world leader in luxury goods, whose creative passion is without any doubt a value that I have always shared.”

Jean-Claude Biver, the architect of the success of the Big Bang collection and the recent strong growth of Hublot, commented: “I am delighted that Hublot will be able to benefit from LVMH’s support and strategic leadership in the luxury goods industry and so maximise its growth potential in the years to come. I am happy to be pursuing this adventure and to be able to contribute to the development of LVMH’s watchmaking division alongside Philippe Pascal.”
Philippe Pascal, Chief Executive Officer of LVMH’s Watches & Jewelry business group, added: “Hublot is a strategic and very complementary acquisition. Its high-end positioning, selective distribution, financial performance and growth potential make Hublot a ‘rising star’. Hublot will strengthen our Watches & Jewelry business group which, over the last three years, has been growing strongly. We are very happy that Jean-Claude Biver will, along with the management team of Hublot, continue on this remarkable journey and contribute his considerable expertise to our development in this promising sector.”

Info via Watchluxus.com

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

2008 BaselWorld and SIHH: Horology Market Impressions

2008 BaselWorld and SIHH Impressions

These are in short some of the most prevalent impressions of market trends that I noticed & few of my humble opinions that I would dare to contemplate at this time:

- new various complications by majority of industry in my humble observation for the sake of public shock and awe or as some would say bragging rights rather then for the true sake of practical (if not just useful) horology innovations (excluding a few honorable mentions)

- again like last year prevalent usage of unusual materials (alusic, zenithium, hublonium, tantalum, magnesium, ceramic and lithium) prevalent on the case aesthetic side and to some extent in the movement side of watch making. Definite trend in the across board contribution of all non traditional watch materials, but with notable addition of practical usage of the movement side of things (silicum balance spring, easium carbonitride, ceramic ball-bearings, etc)

- steel and gold seems are no longer the prevailing big guns of the watchmaking arsenal. Brands are continuing to venture down this less-trodden path (from last years bronze of Genta, forged carbon of AP, fusion of materials of Hublot, rusted Titanic steel of Romain Jerome, etc) to new dimensions of materials that were borrowed from many different sectors and in some instances R&D’ed on their own. More on this at a later time.

- reissue of older venerable names of the past as new years models. Some executed perfectly (like the Tribute to Polaris by MJLC) and some following the lead and utilizing it as a new strategy to a lesser extent (IMO Longines and to some extent IWC).

- demand for larger cases is still prevalent even though there is a some easing of that pressure across the board by the resurgence of movement towards less “flashy” if not more restrained case sizes.

- importance of focus on the new “emerging economies” markets (China, Russia, India and Middle East) over the “traditional” markets of Europe and US especially in regards to the top level market segment pieces.

- continuing development into the “bling” segment of horology development due to insatiable appetites of the “nouveaux riches” customers whose rise from common poverty left an ongoing rising demand to show off their newfound riches.

- continuing increase in the average cost of the watches across the segment thus making the accessibility of this hobby of ours further out of reach for many especially when considering the higher brackets of Haute Horology.

More in depth analysis of market, respective brands, selective models and imperative points we are faced to follow.

MJLC News: Construction started on the new building of the Manufacture - Live Video

On the eve of its 175th anniversary, Jaeger-LeCoultre continues to extend within its natural environment.

Today, April 22, at 4PM CET, Jaeger-LeCoultre marked a historic moment, laying the first stone of new building in Le Sentier, which will extend Antoine LeCoultre’s original workshop and current-day Manufacture. Possible to view live at the JLC's Webcam at Le Club .

The new area will add 9,000 square meters bringing the total surface to 25,000 square meters to the Manufacture by the year 2010.

A commitment to the future of watchmaking


This integration of the Manufacture with its natural setting is obviously also complemented by a concern for the human dimension. To further accentuate this symbiosis between a company and the development of its region, Jaeger-LeCoultre will double the number of apprenticeships offered as soon as the new workshops are operational and will train almost forty new professionals each year. A tour of the facilities for the press and invited guests in honor of the event and the 175th anniversary of the campus will follow.

Jaeger-LeCoultre, which has always chosen to grow exclusively within its historical site, now incorporates 40 different professions under its roof. This approach to development reflects its pioneering spirit and the strength of its global innovation. The certainty of working within an environment that is kept intact by avant-garde methods also contributes to stimulating the creativity of the watchmakers and engineers of an exceptional brand whose achievements have been stirring public passion for almost two centuries through their inventiveness, their reliability and their elegance.

Info via JLC Le Club

Monday, April 21, 2008

SIHH 2008



Just came back from this years SIHH and boy was this an enlightening fair. I have to admit that the first impressions (as always) are everlasting, but in the end they are enduring only after some time has passed thus making the real sense of it all. I have plenty of literature to go through and to add to the blog for your viewing pleasure as well to include some more press releases, personal impressions about the fairs, brands, models and horology industry as whole. Unfortunately there will not be as many live watch photos from the fair as last year as my main (brand new I might add) 8GB memory card got corrupted and with it majority of images from the personal viewings of watches presented at the SIHH. I will try to catch up ASAP to answer all the backlog of emails and comments. Please stay tuned as soon we will be back to our more regular programming interval ;-)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Horology Market Predictions: Right or Wrong?

Interesting facet is that the last year conclusions (in my 2007 SIHH report ) of the current market trends displayed were quite accurate by simply looking over this year developments (as well announced novelties for this 2008 SIHH and BaselWorld).

What I wrote last time was :

"The prevalent market trends are:

- cases are growing and becoming larger due to overwhelming demand by the customers no matter what many do think
- with larger case sizes (and sometimes even without) the prices are exponentially increasing. If one would really use this parallel comparison seriously it would almost make you wonder how much each mm in size costs ;-)
- precious materials and in house movements are the norm to exclusivity (and again increasing in pricing)
- daring design experimentation as well usage of new materials (especially in the movement side of things) are the next frontier & reality for the daring few
- everyone taunts innovation & proficiency of their watchmaking yet only few actually deliver

MJLC is (in my humble opinion) the KING!"



Correct Points:

Pretty much I was spot on the ever growing case sizes and commensurately increasing prices (not surprised that even diehard Rolex is jumping to the new tune). They have been prevalent and present thought the whole gamme of horology although with a few notable deviants from that general strategy. More precious (including many rare hard to work with as well pronounce) materials have made their inroads into line ups of most brands. Basically “everyone” announced their “new in house” movements or at least that they’re working on one, thus brining another notch to their “exclusivity” (and escalating pricing). New experimentation with daring designs was a definite positive result of the daring few and even less of those who actually furthered the developments on the movement side of things. Lot’s of different news and announcements promising various effects, however in reality few actual deliveries (especially those that work in real life).

Lastly from everything that I saw from pre announcements again the biggest inroads for me were done by that true Manufacture house of Jaeger LeCoultre with the stunning new Gryotourbillon 2, AMVOX3 and lastly (but not the least) the fantastic reintroduction of legendary Polaris. I have to admit that Vacheron Constantine has me very intrigued with its Quai de I’lle line announcement. More about all the specific favored models at a latter time.


Missed point(s):

The thing is that I probably missed the most important market trend which now I year later seems very obvious which is limited/special editions phenomena that has overtaken almost every haute horology house. I mean just look at the Hublot which has practically used it to a T as its marketing strategy. Panerai, as usual has employed it as well, in addition to further legitimizing its even higher bracket pricing with its newly acquired ”in house” movements. AP is following the path of least resistance - need I really say anything more then yet another color of ROO or Scuba edition. Patek has not abated from this strategy except pushing it more towards the emerging Far East markets. Funny that even conservative stalwart like Rolex is changing its tune as well and introducing some more “Special” and “Anniversary” editions as well. Now Lange is in the game as well and I am sure many else are following the suit.

Hey don’t get me wrong I like to have Limited and Special editions models – not that I have something personal against them. They surely add a dash of exclusivity and some kind of importance when one is able to track them down and purchase the piece. The only thing is when a company does a special or limited edition that is in essence really not that special or that limited per se, what are they really creating? An easy exploitable marketing tool for creating sales without really doing that much additional work? Additional market demand with the today’s not so discerning buyer for that perceived and oh so elusive aura of exclusivity that one gets with those “special” pieces? Lack of ideas or really an easy way out for creating more sales and revenue in this current sizzling horology market? Is there a real one singular correct answer which satisfies all these queries? Whatever the real reasoning behind this all (and I mean from both sides of the looking glass) is that it is working, well at least for now. Since it does it will be exploited to the max until not one person, but the majority of us act collectively with our wallets. Please don’t take me for a pessimist, but rather the constructive critic which only says what is on minds of many which have been in this game of horology for a while now. Many companies have no other choice but to follow the 8 ball and take what is given to them. Many have been transformed from smaller workshop places of horology to parts of the conglomerates and have requirements towards their shareholders. Many have traded their glorious names of the past (together with their contributions to innovation in horology) for the profits of today to what consequence in the long run only the future holds. Despite it all my opinion is that I think we are going in the right direction. Eventually every renaissance (including this horology one) must bloom, grow, and expand to the point of no room to mature anymore and to die out again. No, not to die forever! Instead to refocus and restart again in the new direction (and presumably better one) in the process loosing many of the old bad habits that contributed to its collapse and following the path of positive influence. That I see as I real success coming out of this all. Let’s just hope that our favorites will emerge as survivors stronger then ever and following the other righteous path so beautifully exhibited in many of the great accomplishments seen so many times over the good last part of this decade.

Embeded video about 175 years of the MJLC & the masterpiece that is Reverso Gryotourbillon2

SIHH 2008 Preview: Montblanc Star Nicolas Rieussec Monopusher Chronograph Calibres

Montblanc unveiled its first watch movement manufactured entirely in-house at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva.

On Monday, 7 April 2008 Montblanc's announced the presentation of its very first chronograph featuring a movement developed and manufactured entirely in the company's own workshops - The Montblanc Star Nicolas Rieussec Monopusher Chronograph.

This watch is the first one ever to feature a movement that has been developed, produced and assembled in Montblanc's own workshops. The two chronograph movements (the MB R100 handwound calibre and the MB R200 automatic) are yet another highlight in a success story going back more than ten years for Montblanc watches: 'We're very proud of the fact that this first movement of our own further justifies our claim to be a provider of traditional European craftsmanship in the mechanical watch sector. And it means we've set up a further milestone in the success story of Montblanc watch manufacture,' explains Lutz Bethge, CEO Montblanc International. It also means that the Montblanc brand not only joins an exclusive circle of classical watch manufacturers by demonstrating its expertise and professionalism in this market segment, but also underpins something the brand embodies in all its product lines: the practice and cultivation of European craftsmanship and an authentic tradition of manufacturing by hand.

Rieussec: a name that writes the history of time

The Montblanc Star Nicolas Rieussec Monopusher is dedicated to Nicolas Rieussec, who invented the chronograph in 1821: his was a wooden case containing a clock movement that drove two rotating dials on the lid. Above them was a fixed index that left a drop of ink on the rotating dials whenever a button was pushed. For the first time ever, the device made it possible to record the exact times put up by individual horses at racing events. The principle used gave the chronograph its name and comes from the Greek: chronos for time and graphein for write. It seems only logical that the first watch movement to be developed by Montblanc, which has established itself as the world's leading manufacturer of top-quality writing instruments, should be one that 'writes time'. The principle of the rotating dials was the inspiration for the design of the new Montblanc chronograph and gives the watch its unmistakable appearance.

A stopwatch that fuses tradition and innovation

The Montblanc MB R100 calibre is a hand-wound movement with displays for the time of day, the date and a chronograph that combines classical column wheel operation with a modern vertical plate clutch. The chronograph is operated using a pushbutton in the side of the case at 8 o'clock. The time of day is displayed in an off-centre dial that features a 1 to 31 scale for the date indicator within the hour circle. The movement has two barrels, which generate a 72-hour power reserve. The remaining power reserve is shown on a display at the back of the movement, which can be seen through the sapphire glass cover. Alternatively, Montblanc also offers its own automatic movement, the Montblanc MB R200 calibre.


Montblanc Star Nicolas Rieussec Monopusher Chronograph: a watch for connoisseurs in a limited edition
The Montblanc Star Nicolas Rieussec Monopusher Chronograph is a piece for connoisseurs that will be available only in limited numbers: 25 watches in platinum 950, 75 in 18 K white gold and 75 in 18 K yellow gold, together with 125 watches in 18 K red gold. In keeping with traditional watchmaking methods the precious metal cases, measuring 43 millimetres in diameter, are cold-moulded and painstakingly finished by hand. A convex sapphire glass with an antireflective coating on both sides covers the dial while a sapphire glass back cover provides a view of the ornately decorated movement and its visible chronograph mechanism and power reserve display. With its unique combination of features, complex precision mechanics and limited availability, the Montblanc Star Nicolas Rieussec Monopusher Chronograph has all the makings of a much sought-after collector's item.

Specifications:


The case measures 43mm X 14.8mm with 22mm lugs. The crystal is sapphire with AR-coating, as is the display back. It is water resistant to 30 meters. It is available in a rose gold version of 125 pieces, with a platinum version of 25 pieces and a white gold version of 75 pieces.

The movement, the in-house Montblanc Caliber MB R100 is hand-wound, with twin barrels and stop balance wheel. It has 286 parts, with 33 jewels, beating at 28,800 bph and with a power reserve of 72 hours. The plates are Rhodium-plated and circular-grained; Bridge are Rhodium-plated with Geneva stripes. The chronograph features a new type of display on 60-second and 30-minute counters using rotating discs and fixed hands, with a power reserve display on the case back. Monopusher operation at 8 o'clock features column wheel control and a vertical disc clutch.

Info via Montblanc press file

SIHH 2008 Preview: Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945 Square Perpetual Calendar

Girard-Perregaux revisits the perpetual calendar, incorporating this sophisticated mechanism in the elegant case of a Vintage 1945 Square. Automatically indicating the date, day and month, this timepiece is also the first to be equipped with the all-new Microvar free sprung balance.

With the Vintage 1945 Square Perpetual Calendar, the Manufacture has created one of the finest jewels of a collection which has been constantly updated with refinement. Inspired by a rectangular wristwatch created in 1945, Girard-Perregaux has developed this Art Deco derived line, retaining the clean spaces and straight angles, but adopting a square case. The curve of the domed dial and the recessed applique counters play on the depth and spaces.

The attention paid to the details is revealed in all the parts, down to the rounded indices. This timepiece displays the date, day, month and moon phase, automatically taking into account the length of the months and leap years. Its 1461 day (i.e. 4-year) "mechanical memory" takes into consideration the variations in the Gregorian calendar.

This concentrated piece of watchmaking technology requires the combination of hundreds of components, forming a complex architecture. The movement crafted in-house by Girard-Perregaux is visible via the transparent case-back.


The Vintage 1945 Square Perpetual Calendar also incorporates an innovation derived from Girard-Perregaux's research in the field of chronometry: the Microvar free sprung balance. This exclusive development by the Manufacture combines a six-screw system and two regulating weights positioned on the rim of the balance, which are used to respectively set the balance of the rim and the rate of the watch. This construction enhances the excellence of the timepiece, fully expressing Girard-Perregaux's know-how.

Specifications:

Pink gold case

Dimensions: 34.20 x 32 mm
Sapphire crystal
Sapphire case-back secured by 4 screws
Water resistance: 30 meters

Girard-Perregaux movement Ref. GP0033Q0

mechanical with automatic winding
Calibre: 11 ½ ’’’
Frequency: 28,800 vibrations/hour (4 Hz)
Jewels: 27
Power reserve: minimum 46 hours
Functions: hour, minute, perpetual calendar, moon phases indicatorAlligator strap with folding buckle

Also available with a white gold case and/or a black dial.

Info via Girard Perregaux press file.

SIHH 2008 Preview: Girard-Perregaux Tourbillon Chronograph with Rattrapante and Foudroyante

Girard-Perregaux presents a world premiere: the first Tourbillon Chronograph with Rattrapante and Foudroyante. A remarkable tribute to the Manufacture's heritage, this timepiece reveals an unprecedented combination of some of the most sophisticated complications.

In around 1880, Constant Girard would develop one of the most effective and most accurate time measurement instruments of its era: a Rattrapante Chronograph with Foudroyante second, housed in a pocket watch. Nine years later, he would pull off another feat: his Tourbillon with three gold Bridges, a prize-winner at the Paris Universal Exhibition. In 2008, Girard-Perregaux is once more making use of these complex mechanisms, taking on a new challenge: combining all these complications in a perfectly proportioned wristwatch.


Only thirty-three connoisseurs will be able to own this uncommon watchmaking combination. Mass production has no place in this exceptional field: some five hundred and seven components are assembled by hand to make up the complete movement housed in the pink gold case, following the stringent rules of a watchmaking art that prizes special achievements.

In presenting this timepiece, Girard-Perregaux is remaining true to its tradition, and is continuing the development of its models with rattrapante and foudroyante second, which are among its most spectacular Haute Horlogerie creations. The rattrapante chronograph can register split times, during sports events for example. In this case it is supplemented by a foudroyante second, which runs in a counter at 9 o'clock: the hand makes a complete turn of its dial in one second, while imperceptibly marking a stop time every sixth of a second.


Lit up by the graceful Tourbillon with gold Bridge, the design of this timepiece is the be-all in elegance. Its host of complications blends into a harmonious dial which takes the expertise of the master-watchmaker, who knows that perfection is concealed in the most delicate details. The fine chronograph and rattrapante hands are superimposed when stopped. The rattrapante function is made especially discreet by the model only having two push-pieces: the one at 2 o'clock controls the rattrapante hand, while the one at 4 o'clock starts, stops and resets the chronograph. To complement the creation, the case lugs ensure a perfect fit on the wrist.

There are other sophistications specific to this movement. Girard-Perregaux improves the chronometric developments by equipping the rattrapante with an isolating device that ensures a constant balance amplitude. The foudroyante second mechanism is also ingeniously designed, to enable it to be combined with a Tourbillon.

Specifications:

Pink gold case

- Diameter: 44 mm
- Height: 17.10 mm
- Sapphire crystal
- See-through case-back secured by 6 screws
- Water resistance: 30 metres

Girard-Perregaux movement GP9973 mechanical with manual winding

- Tourbillon with gold Bridge, chronograph with rattrapante and foudroyante
- Calibre: 14 ½ ’’’Height: 9.30 mm
- Frequency: 21,600 vibrations/hour (3 Hz)
- Jewels: 43Power reserve: minimum 96 hours (4 days)
- Tourbillon cage: 69 components, 0.4 grams
- Functions: hour, minute, small second on the Tourbillon, date, chronograph with rattrapante and foudroyante
- 507 parts
- Alligator strap with folding buckle

Limited and numbered edition of 33 pieces.

Info via Girard Perregaux press file.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Superb Video featuring the marvelous JLC Reverso Gyrotourbillon2


Take a look at this amazing video featuring the spectacular Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso GyroTourbillon2 . Simply marvelous and definitely worth spending some time to admire all the precise work put in this creation by the very best of the talented watchmaking team from the Grande Maison.


Again fantastic work by the whole MJLC team both in creation of this masterpiece as well as such suitable promotion vehicle. Bravo!

SIHH 2008 Preview: Vacheron Constantin Overseas

Across Land and Sea, Vacheron Celebrates Travel with Two New Overseas Models

Two years after celebrating the Overseas’ tenth anniversary, Vacheron Constantin has added two new models to this line, which is dedicated to the spirit of travel: the watch Overseas Dual Time, combining useful functions with a diamond setting, and a new pink gold version of the now-famous Overseas Chronograph.

The well-named Overseas is the line for frequent travelers, a line that crosses land and sea, that transcends time-zones. Since their launch in 1996, Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas watches have been faithful companions to international travelers who appreciate technical and aesthetic excellence.

They are also ideal for anyone looking for a time-measuring instrument that reflects their character: dynamic and sporty, elegant and distinguished. Vacheron Constantin’s two exceptional new models - the Overseas Dual Time and the pink gold Overseas Chronograph – are both invitations to travel.


History

Travel and the desire to explore the world has always been part of the Vacheron Constantin spirit. Jacques Vacheron started the trend in 1810, traveling throughout Europe and selling his watches to the rich and powerful. As the manufacture expanded, his journeys became longer and more frequent. François Constantin, who took over in 1819, traveled even further afield, presenting the brand’s masterpieces around the world. About 1930, the brand noticed that a good number of its customers were regularly crossing the seas and oceans on business or for pleasure. Its response was a stainless steel watch for active, enterprising travellers, brought out in 1932.

Since 1973, Vacheron Constantin has established itself as a pioneer of the ultra-functional stainless steel timepieces that the period craved, to such a degree that the Overseas is now one of the most successful watches in its category. It was hardly a surprise when the brand marked its 222nd anniversary in 1977 with the launching of a rather unusual steel watch. Bearing the code name 222, its one-piece case featured a screw-down “porthole” bezel, creating a robust entity designed for intensive use in a hostile environment. Equipped with an integrated bracelet, the watch 222 had highly legible luminous hands and hour-markers and was offered in gold, steel or a combination of both. Thanks to a crown protected by two water-resistant gaskets, the watch 222 was water-resistant to 120 meters. And what was rare for the period, the case was fitted with an anti-magnetic shield.

Contemporary in spirit and absolutely functional, the watch 222 was the first quality watch to be designed for travel and adventure, and can be legitimately viewed as the precursor of the Overseas line.


Functionality and legibility

In 1996, Vacheron Constantin decided to launch a new line of timepieces for travelers: the Overseas. With their clean, naturally elegant lines, these highly technical watches have been one of the most successful in the genre. Dedicated to travel and to today’s explorers, the Overseas models have won many admirers thanks to their classical and dynamic styling, remarkable functionality and excellent legibility.

In 2006, the Overseas’ 10th anniversary was celebrated with the launching of the Dual Time with a second time zone - one of the most useful functions for frequent travelers - as well as a yellow gold chronograph.

2008: two years after the line’s 10th anniversary, the new Overseas Dual Time models are presented in pink or white gold, diamond-set and on white straps.

The model Overseas Dual Time features a date and two other very practical complications: a second time zone and a power reserve. Its 18K 5N pink or white gold case, generous 42-mm diameter and clear-cut, harmonious lines give this timepiece a very strong character.

The white gold bezel, whose design is reminiscent of the manufactures characteristic Maltese cross, creates a soft contrast. Set with precious stones that conform to the most stringent criteria in terms of purity, color and size, it shimmers with 88 brilliant-cut diamonds.

This watch also has a solid caseback stamped with the “Overseas” medallion, a two-masted sailing ship. Thanks to its screw-down crown, this veritable jewel of elegance is water-resistant to a depth of 15 Atm equivalent to approximately 150 meters.


A dial with exceptional finishing and excellent legibility.

A complicated watch in every respect, the Overseas Dual Time is a perfect example of the exceptional technical and aesthetic savoir-faire of the watchmakers and craftsmen at Vacheron Constantin.

The matte white varnished dial, with its luminescent, pink gold leaf-shaped hands, provides perfect legibility for reading the various indications.

The Vacheron Constantin 1222 SC self-winding movement beats at 28,800 vibrations an hour. Besides the central hours, minutes and seconds, the Dual Time features a second time zone on a rhodium-plated opaline sub-dial at 6 o’clock, to which a small day/night hour indicator is attached. This means the wearer will be able to keep track of the time, anywhere in the world.

Harmoniously positioned at 2 o’clock and 9 o’clock respectively are a silvered opaline date dial, numbered from 1 to 31, and a rhodium-plated opaline 40-hour power reserve indicator.

Like every Overseas model, the watch Dual Time features an anti-magnetic shield. Researched and developed by Vacheron Constantin, this means that, no matter where the owner is, her timepiece will not be affected by magnetic forces, which influence both the running and accuracy of the watch. A further important addition to this watch’s aesthetic and technical qualities.


New white straps, in alligator leather or rubber

Diamonds sparkle at their brightest when they come together with luminous materials, one of the reasons why Vacheron Constantin decided to deck out the watch Overseas Dual Time with a white vulcarbonised rubber strap.

Delivered with this very trendy strap is the main one, in alligator leather, also in white, and featuring a triple folding clasp in 18K white gold or 18K 5N pink gold.

2008: precious, elegant in any situation, and ideal for long journeys, the emblematic Overseas Chronograph is now presented in pink gold

In response to the success of the first Overseas Chronograph in stainless steel, Vacheron Constantin brought out the same model in yellow gold in 2006 as part of the line’s 10th anniversary celebrations.

To follow up the success of this emblematic model, Vacheron Constantin now presents the self-winding Overseas Chronograph in a new pink gold version.


The sporty, stylish 42-mm case displays all the qualities associated with the collection. With its sleek lines, Maltese-cross-inspired bezel, luminescent hour-markers, screw-down push-pieces, water-resistance to a depth of 15 Atm equivalent to approx.150 meters, and the Overseas’ emblematic two-masted sailing ship motif engraved on the solid caseback, the new pink gold Overseas Chronograph is a worthy descendant of the Vacheron Constantin tradition of distinguished chronographs that look elegant in any situation.

The case has a strong and instantly-recognizable design and its large anthracite dial clearly sets off all the useful functions offered by the Vacheron Constantin 1137 movement, which beats at a rate of 21,600 vibrations/hour.

As well as its classical functions – hours, minutes and seconds - the pink gold Overseas Chronograph features two counters: 30 minutes at 3 o’clock and 12 hours at 9 o’clock. The date is displayed in an oversized window at 12 o’clock.

As the pink gold hands and hour-markers are coated with a white luminescent material, this unpretentious yet sophisticated design provides optimal legibility in any circumstances.

In keeping with all the models in the line, the new pink gold Overseas Chronograph is equipped with an anti-magnetic shield that protects the movement and complex gear-trains from disturbances caused by local magnetic fields. A major advantage that will not go unnoticed by travellers who are constantly on the move.

The new Overseas Chronograph comes with a choice of 3 straps: pink gold, hand-sewn alligator leather, or dark-brown vulcarbonised rubber

Designed along very strict ergonomic lines, the Overseas Chronograph’s pink gold bracelet has an exclusive shape - a succession of half-Maltese-cross links – that gives it a precious and particularly refined look. With its triple folding clasp and double pushpiece locking system, this meticulously polished and satin-finished bracelet is incredibly supple and comfortable.

For sportier travellers, the pink gold Overseas Chronograph is also available on an elegant dark-brown, hand-sewn alligator strap, which is delivered with a second, more casual vulcarbonised rubber strap, also in dark brown.


Specifications:

Reference 47751/000G-9351 and 47751/000R-9351

Movement: 1222 SC, Self-winding mechanical
Anti-magnetic protection
Height of movement 4.90 mm
Diameter of movement 26.60 mm
Jewelling 34 rubies
Frequency 28,800 vibrations/hour

Indications: Hours, minutes, central seconds
Power reserve
2nd time zone with day / night indicator
Date hand

Power reserve: Approximately 40 hours

Case: 18K white gold or 18K 5N pink gold
Set with 88 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.90 ct)

Water-resistance 15 ATM, equivalent to a depth of 150 meters

Dial: Matte white varnish.
Slate day / night indication
10 applied hour-markers in 18K 5N pink gold with white luminescent strip

Strap: White hand-stitched, square-scaled alligator leather
Delivered with a second strap in white vulcarbonized rubber.

Clasp: 18K white gold or 5N 18K pink gold triple-blade, double-safety folding clasp
Polished half Maltese cross


Reference 49150/B01R-9338 and 49150/000R-9338

Movement: 1137, Self-winding mechanic
Anti-magnetic protection
Height of movement 6.60 mm
Diameter of movement 26.20 mm
jeweling 37 rubies
Frequency 21,600 vibrations/hour

Indications: Hours, minutes and small seconds at 6 o’clock
Column-wheel chronograph
12-hour and 30-minute counter
Large date at 12 o’clock

Power reserve: Approximately 40 hours

Case: 18K 5N pink gold

Water-resistance 15 ATM, equivalent to a depth of 150 meters

Dial: Anthracite 12 applied 18K 5N pink gold hour-makers in with white luminescent strip

Strap: Polished and satin-finished 18K 5N pink gold or
Hand-stitched, square scaled, dark brown alligator leather
Delivered with a second strap in dark brown vulcarbonized rubber

Clasp: 5N 18K pink gold triple-blade, double-safety folding clasp polished half Maltese cross

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