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?


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.


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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

The FL 305 Bathy V.2

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

SIHH 2008 Preview: Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile Collection Concept

Vacheron Constantin introduces Quai de l’Ile

Personalization, service, security, innovation: Spotlight on tomorrow’s watchmaking

The new Quai de l’Ile line from the Vacheron Constantin Manufacture introduces a unique dimension in the world of Haute Horlogerie. Personalized to meet the client’s wishes, this resolutely contemporary watch combines the most advanced technologies with the finest horological savoir-faire. Innovative, original, contemporary and sophisticated, the Quai de l’Ile line meets the demands of tomorrow’s Haute Horlogerie: personalization, security, service, excellent workmanship and savoir-faire.

With its new Quai de l’Ile line – named after the brand’s historic Geneva address – the Vacheron Constantin Manufacture reveals its pioneering character while drawing on over two and a half centuries of experience.

The case is revolutionary, the dial incorporates a whole range of security-printing technologies, the two self-winding mechanical movements – stamped with the Geneva Hallmark – have been designed and developed at Vacheron Constantin, and the product’s accessories – box, passport, USB key and multimedia elements – break new ground in the world of watchmaking.

Characterized by both technology and tradition, this combination of elements constitutes the unique genetic heritage of Vacheron Constantin’s new Quai de l’Ile line, an innovative and resolutely contemporary line that embodies the notions of service and the special relationship with the customer.

Personalization, the ultimate luxury

Personalization is the ultimate expression of luxury. It is also the elemental link in the relationship between a customer and brand, between expectations and service. It is to strengthen this link and to offer a unique experience to its clientèle that Vacheron Constantin has developed a concept of personalization that is totally new in Haute Horlogerie, a world first in fact. Thanks to the Quai de l’Ile case and its remarkable seven-piece middle, the customer can choose from three metals, two dials & two different finishes on the movements to realize the watch of his dreams. While the cushion shaped case allows for an infinite number of combinations, Vacheron Constantin is offering almost 400 for this year’s launching.

Quai de l’Ile: a name, a history, a symbol

The Quai de l’Ile has been Vacheron Constantin’s historical address in Geneva since the 19th century, ever since Jean-François Constantin (1829-1900) had a building constructed there in 1873-1874. A visionary, he already felt the need to give the manufactory a place which would help it stand out in the world of Geneva’s Haute Horlogerie and give it a more international dimension. This address soon became the symbol of an incomparable quality of service with the creation of personalized Haute Horlogerie timepieces that reflected the brand’s motto, “Do better if possible, which is always possible”.

Dynamic character

Designed in the dynamic of a sophisticated and contemporary line, the instantly identifiable Quai de l’Ile case expresses the tradition behind Vacheron Constantin’s 250+ years of history as well as the line’s resolutely innovative character. The case is cushion-shaped in the spirit of several historical models and its modernity is underscored by its dynamic character, fluid lines and original shapes, all of which give it a subtle balance.

Avant-garde technologies

The Quai de l’Ile’s complex mechanism can be seen through the line’s semi-transparent dials, which are an innovative blend of the world of watchmaking and sophisticated, top-secret technologies of security printing. Art and cutting-edge technology, extreme precision and aesthetic creativity come together in these exclusive and secure dials, which have four patents pending.

The Manufacture’s signature

The new Quai de l’Ile line will be launched with two models: the Quai de l’Ile Date Self-winding and the Quai de l’Ile Day-Date and Power-Reserve Self-winding. Both movements are stamped with the prestigious Geneva Hallmark. Designed, developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin, these state-of-the-art movements are coated with rhodium or ruthenium and visible through the dial. As well as indicating the hours, minutes and central seconds, the 2460QH calibre displays the date by means of
a disc, while the 2475SC/1 calibre displays the date, day of the week and power reserve with hands.

Pair of straps

Each Quai de l’Ile model is delivered with two straps: one in black or dark-brown hand-stitched, saddle-finish, large square-scaled alligator leather; the other in dark-brown or black vulcanized rubber, with a refined and elegant design. Both types of strap come with a new triple-folding, double-safety clasp with a half-Maltese-cross flap. Specially designed for the Quai de l’Ile line, this clasp matches
the heart of the case and has a polished (palladium or pink gold) or satined(titanium) finish.

Secure environment

Vacheron Constantin was determined to push to the limits the concept of security that is the hallmark of the Quai de l’Ile line. The innovative product environment is an integral and extended part of the security and inviolability that characterize the dials. A Vacheron Constantin passport offering similar standards of protection and quality as a Swiss passport will accompany every watch in the line for its
lifetime. An innovative box, a USB key and a multimedia tool - all very original elements for a Haute Horlogerie watch - have been designed to correspond in every way to the watch’s contemporary character.

Pushing back the limits

With its sophisticated and contemporary character, the new Quai de l’Ile line (identified by its cushion shape) will develop alongside Vacheron Constantin’s two main pillars, the Malte (tonneau) and the Patrimony (round). It will be distinguished by its sophisticated technologies and its distinctive concept of personalization. The launching of the Quai de l’Ile line represents a milestone in Vacheron Constantin’s history, with the concept of personalization pushing back even further the limits of
exclusiveness that the Geneva-based manufacture has made its own.

Quai de l’Ile - The ultimate luxury of personalization

With its novel concept of personalization, the Quai de l’Ile line has given Haute Horlogerie a new dimension.

Sophisticated, bold and resolutely innovative, this contemporary line has achieved the feat of marrying the most sophisticated technologies to over 250 years of horological savoir-faire. As a result, Vacheron Constantin is determining the shape of tomorrow’s watchmaking.

Transparency and architecture

A watch from the new Quai de l’Ile line makes an immediate impact. Its semi-transparent dial is fascinating, its suspended displays astonishing, its distinguished, modern case appealing and its combination of materials intriguing. The case has been designed and developed in a resolutely avantgarde and architectural dynamic and lies at the heart of the personalization process. With a dial embodying the very latest security-printing technologies and a cushion-shaped case, the designers opted for a theme of transparency and avant-garde design. The technology invested in the case, as well as the vigour and power that emanate from it, will satisfy the most demanding enthusiasts of technical prowess, luxury and exclusiveness.

Almost 400 combinations

The personalization concept at the heart of the Quai de l’Ile line is unique in the world of Haute Horlogerie, a line that is midway between models from the Collection – entirely designed and made in the Manufacture – and the 100% made-to-measure watches from the Atelier Cabinotiers Special Order department. Personalization is based on four elements: the seven-piece case and middle, the dial with the latest security-printing technologies, the movement finishing, and the strap. In total, there are almost 400 combinations from which to create an exceptional timepiece that mirrors the wearer’s personality.

The Quai de l’Ile line will be launched with two models in 2008: the Quai de l’Ile Date Self-winding (calibre 2460QH) and the Quai de l’Ile Day-Date and Power-Reserve Self-winding (calibre2475SC/1). In the first instance, only the latter will be available in a personalized version in 100 exclusive sales points (Vacheron Constantin boutiques and retailers carefully selected for their quality of service).

First, the personalized watch is envisaged and designed by the future buyer with the aid of an interactive tactile screen developed by Vacheron Constantin and a set of material and color samples. It then enters its production cycle in Geneva and will be delivered within a few weeks, as agreed on beforehand with the client.

Avant-garde design

There is no need to explain to connoisseurs that the Quai de l’Ile cushion case is an avant-garde reinterpretation of a classic watch shape. Like legendary cars that are constantly redesigned to anticipate changes in style, the Quai de l’Ile case is the expression of an avant-garde watch conception, but one which is perfectly faithful to Vacheron Constantin’s stylistic spirit. In their search for fluidity, visually perfect curves, an assertive character and dynamism, the engineers and designers at Vacheron
Constantin explored the limits of these areas and created the case that today symbolizes Vacheron

Constantin’s concept of personalization - Quai de l’Ile

At the heart of personalization: the case

The innovative personalization of the Quai de l’Ile line is made possible by the unique 7-part construction of the case and middle.

Along with the other components of the watch – movement, dial and strap – this extraordinary construction means that Vacheron Constantin can offer almost 400 different combinations for the Quai de l’Ile Day-Date and Power-Reserve Self-winding model.

While the middle – one of the components of a case – is normally a single element, Vacheron Constantin’s personalization concept is based on an assembled 7-part case comprising the following elements:

- Lateral flank at 3 o’clock
- Lateral flank at 9 o’clock
- Lugs at 12 o’clock
- Lugs at 6 o’clock
- Inter-lug piece at 12 o’clock
- Inter-lug piece at 6 o’clock
- Support plate

In addition to these 7 parts, the 41 mm case middle includes:

- Titanium inner case for all models
- Bezel
- Back
- Crown

Three groups of components

In its concern to preserve the aesthetic harmony of the whole and not wanting to make an impact with tens of thousands of combinations, though this would be technically possible, the Vacheron Constantin Manufacture opted for a carefully planned personalization system. For this reason, it has defined three groups of components:

- Heart of the case (lugs + inter-lug pieces + back)
- Bezel
- Lateral flanks and support plate

The crown can also be personalized, but it has to be made of the material chosen for one of the other three groups.

A choice of three metals in any combination

The Quai de l’Ile Day-Date and Power-Reserve Self-winding can be personalized with a choice of three metals - 5N pink gold, titanium and palladium - for each of the three groups of components, and in any combination. This is the first time Vacheron Constantin has ever used titanium and palladium in one of its standard collections.

Pink gold (Au).

Titanium (Ti).

Palladium (Pd).

Besides the Quai de l’Ile watches that can be personalized in almost 400 combinations, Vacheron Constantin decided to offer a standard Quai de l’Ile line, comprising two models for its launching this year:

- Quai de l’Ile Date Self-winding (calibre 2460QH)
- Quai de l’Ile Day-Date and Power-Reserve Self-winding (calibre 2475 SC/1)

Both models will be available in three different versions:

- Middle, back, bezel and crown in palladium – grey dial – rhodium-plated movement
- Middle, back, bezel and crown in pink gold – light dial – rhodium-plated movement
- Middle, back, bezel and crown in titanium – dark dial – ruthenium movement

Quai de l’Ile - At the heart of innovation: the dial

The dials of the Quai de l’Ile line are to watchmaking what the latest security printing techniques for bank notes are to the Gutenberg press. Light years apart!

These semi-transparent dials, which have four patents pending, are safeguards against
counterfeiting, integrating secret texts, micro-printing, security inks and UV markings using invisible ink. While incorporating the very latest advances in technology, they also present a magical visual effect.

For the first time, an Haute Horlogerie brand has joined forces with the world of security printing, that of bank notes and other documents that cannot be forged. Some of the most secret technologies have been used to produce the safest dials ever made, dials with truly innovative graphics that are absolutely faithful to the Vacheron Constantin spirit.

At the crossroads of art and the most sophisticated printing techniques, the spectacular dials of the Quai de l’Ile line are both eye-catching and intriguing.

With strange depths, striking contours, subtle interplays of transparency and opaqueness, alternating visible and invisible elements, precision markings and micro-printing, there is nothing remotely similar with the dial of an ordinary watch.

With the Quai de l’Ile watch, Vacheron Constantin is taking Haute Horlogerie into a new dimension.

Protection against counterfeiting

Orell Füssli Security Printing Ltd, printers of bank notes and Swiss passports, accepted for the first time to put its highly specialized savior-faire at the service of the watch industry. To give a more artistic dimension to this very technical process, Vacheron Constantin called on the services of Mr Roger Pfund, an internationally renowned Swiss designer who, among other things, has produced the graphics for many bank notes, both Swiss and foreign. He has designed the present
Swiss passport.

The Quai de l’Ile dials are remarkable for their technical features as well as their spectacular decorations, which in no way hinder the perfect legibility of the information they display. Other indications and markings are invisible in normal conditions, making these dials the most secure on the market.

This ultra-sophisticated dial, therefore, gives the Quai de l’Ile models complete protection against the scourge of counterfeiting.

Futuristic processes on sapphire

Technically, the Quai de l’Ile dials comprise two main elements:

- A sapphire crystal
- A security polymer

The sapphire crystal is an amalgam of cutting-edge techniques and refined processes, in particular those of:

- Laser engraving (with or without inking)
- Galvanic growth of metal, gold-plated
- Metallization

A sun alludes to the history of Vacheron Constantin

The dials on both models in the new line are illuminated by the sun, also produced by the metallization process. It is inspired by the clock on the Tour de l’Ile in Place Bel-Air, in the Saint-Gervais district of Geneva. At one time, all the watchmakers on the square set their watches and clocks by it.

An allusion to Vacheron Constantin’s past as well as a key security feature of the dial, the invisible ink disc affixed to the back of the security polymer (at the centre of the sun) can only be seen with a UV lamp.

This distinctive sign is also on the passport which comes with each watch.

The three secrets of the security transparent film

Stuck under the sapphire crystal, the security transparent film – the same one used for printing on bank notes – is made from a special chemical compound.

This security transparent film guarantees complete protection against counterfeiting, once it has been subjected to various products and extremely precise operations, like:

- The printing of micro-characters
- The use of security inks
- UV markings using invisible ink

On the movement side, the security transparent film has a pattern of hundreds of Maltese crosses and concentric circles. Depending on the version, it is printed with white or black ink.

On the dial side, the security transparent film has a pattern of concentric lines representing the spiral of time. These also serve as a seconds track. These lines – or rays – are printed alternately with light-grey and sepia ink or with light-grey and white ink.

A choice of two dials (dark or light) for 3 different effects

Three dial finishes are offered on all Quai de l’Ile versions:

- Grey – dark dial with a rhodium-plated movement
- White – light dial with a rhodium-plated movement
- Black – dark dial with a ruthenium movement

2475 SC/1 caliber (Quai de l’Ile Day-Date and Power-Reserve Self-winding)
2460 QH caliber (Quai de l’Ile Date Self-winding)

Although the Quai de l’Ile line is the expression of a very contemporary language, the Vacheron Constantin Manufacture never forgets the legitimacy it has earned in the watch industry from over 250 years of uninterrupted activity.

Accumulated experience and patiently acquired savoir-faire nourish the day-to-day thinking that goes into developing new mechanisms. Designed, developed and produced in-house, the 2475SC/1 and 2460QH calibres, which will power the first models of the Quai de l’Ile line, have grown out of this dynamic.

An exceptional timepiece needs an exceptional movement.

Respecting this principle, as it has for over 250 years, the Vacheron Constantin Manufacture decided to equip the first models in its new Quai de l’Ile line with two of the very latest generation of self winding movements, developed and produced by the Manufacture and stamped with the famous Geneva Hallmark, the distinctive and prestigious sign of Haute Horlogerie.

Besides bearing the Geneva Hallmark, both movements are meticulously finished, in the Haute Horlogerie tradition: this includes Côtes de Genève decorations (circular on the dial side, straight on the movement side), chamfered, rhodium-plated bridges, and circular-grained plates.

Choice of finishing with both movements:
- Rhodium (light)
- Ruthenium (dark)

For the 2460QH calibre (Quai de l’Ile Date Self-winding): Hours, minutes and central seconds, with an additional plate for the date disc. This date function has a novel feature: it is the disc that moves, not the numbers. The visual effect is of a date that “moves” every day to a different place on the dial.

For the 2475SC/1 calibre (Quai de l’Ile Day-Date and Power-Reserve Self-winding): Hours, minutes and central seconds, with an additional plate displaying the power reserve, date, and day of the week with hands.

These exemplary finishings have a special three-dimensional effect thanks to the unique interplay of transparencies created by the line’s sapphire crystal and by the view it provides into the heart of the mechanical movement.

To provide optimal legibility of the dial’s hour-circle, the two movements have a snailed exterior ring, rhodium - or ruthenium-finished depending on the version.

Finally, a new rotor has been developed – its design inspired by the back of the case - to reflect the spirit of the line. Made in ruthenium-finished 22K gold, it is distinguished by its pure lines, which are enhanced by five embossed fillets.

Quai de l’Ile - Meticulously planned environment

Everything for the Quai de l’Ile line has been meticulously planned. And coherence has been the watchword throughout the whole creative process, from designing the mechanical movements to making the presentation box.

The elements comprising the product environment have been subject to the same innovation, personalization and security criteria as those applied to the creative process of the timepiece itself.

The introduction of the Quai de l’Ile line has been an opportunity for Vacheron Constantin to totally re-think its approach to the product environment and to develop its role as a “citizen’s brand” by constructing solid bridges between the watch, its strong character and the set of elements designed to accompany it throughout its life. It has achieved this by not hesitating, when it is justified, to modernise the traditional characteristics of Haute Horlogerie. In so doing, Vacheron Constantin has
once again showed itself to be an innovator.

The new box has a resolutely contemporary and refined design: an unusual vertical shape, an integrated “display-case” window for admiring the watch at all times, even when it is closed, and a more compact size than a standard box of similar quality.

It has been designed to contain all the accessories that come with the new Quai de l’Ile watch. It holds a small travel pouch, lighter and more practical, that can also hold the watch and its accessories. Its size has been optimized to take up as little room as possible and to ensure that the owner can feel perfectly confident about safely carrying the watch in it.

As well as the watch, the pouch will hold all the Quai de l’Ile line accessories:

- A real passport: unique and dedicated to the watch,
- A USB key: with instructions for use, maintenance tips, technical information, a presentation of the manufacture, its history and its savoir-faire, photos, animated sequences, etc. The instructions for use are only printed in French and English to save on paper,
- Tools: a magnifying glass, a corrector pencil for the Quai de l’Ile Day-Date and Power-Reserve Self-winding model, and a microfiber cloth,
- Second strap in alligator leather or rubber.

Info via Vacheron Constantine press file

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