As I’ve written about before, the booming luxury watch market in (especially mainland) China has lead to an increasing number of brands creating models targeted at this market, especially limited editions.
The grand old house of Piaget is joining in with a new series models that will incorporate some very traditional Chinese elements – the dragon and the phoenix.
Historically, the dragon was the symbol of the Emperor, but it is seen as an auspicious beast, symbolising power, strength and good luck. In Chinese mythology, the phoenix is visually quite a different creature to its representation in other cultures, symbolising high virtue, grace, power and prosperity. It is also used to signify the Empress, usually in a pairing with a dragon, and so it is in Piaget’s upcoming models.
The upcoming Piaget Dragon and Phoenix wristwatch series of over a dozen models, which the company will officially unveil this December, will use everything from cloisonné, champlevé and grand feu enamelling to “grisaille”, a technique of monochrome or near-monochrome painting, to depict these two beasts, but also include the limited edition (of eight) Antiplano Double Jeu watches with 78 brilliant-cut diamonds, which will be priced at 2.4 million yuan.
With models available for both men and women, one of the limited editions will be eight pink gold Emperador XLs, priced at 1.8 million yuan, and dazzingly diamond covered Phoenix Piaget Limelight Twice (US$90,196).
*Thanks to Watch Match Maker
This is a watch honoring Anders Celsius, the inventor of the modern temperature measurement scale. Though, this is not the first time BALL has incorporated a mechanical thermometer into one of its watches — the mechanical thermometer module can also be found on BALL’s Engineer Master Diver II TMT watch. The mechanical thermometer module (“TMT”) was developed and patented by BALL, and is able to measure the outside temperature between -35°C and 45°C with an accuracy of 97%; the thermometer readings are given in the half-moon shaped window at six o’clock on the dial. As a final homage to the inventor of the modern temperature scale, the caseback bears the portrait of Anders Celsius. The dial and the hand are equipped with the luminescent technology developed by BALL Watch. Micro-tubes of 3H gas, requiring no external source of light or energy and 100 times more effective than conventional luminescent paint, ensure perfect legibility in the dark. Cool watch, if you ask me!
*Thanks to Perpetuelle
Hublot more than any other brand out there loves to put on a good show and get people talking. Whether or not their performance causes controversy matters not, they go for it. Witness the Bernie Eccelstone ad hocking watches with the F1 boss’s battered face after trying to fend off muggers going for his Hublot watch. Eccelstone failed to win the fight or keep the watch.
At the opening ceremony of Hublot’s 36th boutique on 31 New Bond Street in London with Time Products, Jean-Claude Biver took the opportunity to present their latest creation: the Nastie Bang for former tennis great Ilie Nastase. If two brands were ever meant to meet on the marketing stage, then it’s these two.
Nastase was as famous for his game as he was for his irascible temper. That’s how he got the nickname “Nasty”, which he gloried in and embraced. He’d stomp around the court, berate officials and opponents and fling his racquet across the court to display his displeasure about a line call or his state of play. But the crowd loved him for his bizarre antics and histrionics. One of Nastase’s famous quotes is, “As long as I can get angry, then I play well. If I play well, I can beat anybody. I am happy because I am getting angry.” I think that about sums up this guy’s combination of petulance and playfulness.
However, there’s no denying Nasty was a great talent. He remained the world’s number one player between August 23,1973 and June 2,1974 and he won a career 132 titles.
The “Nasty Bang”, in a limited edition of 132 to reflect the amount of titles Nastase won, is based on a 44mm Big Bang and comes in a black ceramic case with red and yellow details in reflection of the colors on the Romanian flag, Nastase’s home country.
Of course the watch incorporates homages to tennis with the two chronograph counters. The 60-second dial at 9 o’clock shows the points in a game of tennis with the winning “Game” reading “Game Nastase,” while the 30-minute dial at 3 o’clock has a backdrop of a tennis ball. Nastase’s signature appears under the crystal at 6 o’clock. Flip over the case to reveal a transfer of Nasty in action.
Once again Hublot makes another affiliation with a (once) high profile figure in the sports world. The “Nastie Bang” is sure to appeal to avid tennis fans; however, I think it will have to be an older customer who can remember Mr. Nasty because this maestro with a racket shone so long ago. Weren’t any current tennis players available with bad enough behavior?
The Nastie Bang retails for $17,600.
*Thanks to Watch Match Maker
When I dived into the history of Jaquet Droz recently and found the roots of the company date as far back as 1738, I started wondering what happened after 1791. As you might remember, the brand actually fell asleep around that year as both Pierre Jaquet Droz (1721-1790) and his son died shortly after each other. As mentioned, the importance of branding in the 18th century wasn´t comparable to what we see now-a-days, so a company, a brand name, carefully nurtured and built up with half a century of hard work and extensive travelling, could simply cease to exist.
After a long hibernation (check the catalogue and website of the brand, it’s silent), there was some activity under the brand’s name again in the second half of the 20th century. A case-maker, a dial-maker and a supplier of movements joined forces (symbolized in the three lines of the arrow, which was the logo at that time) to revitalize the brand. There´s an interesting article about this period with some pictures written by our friends at Fratellowatches. However, even this period in the brand’s history can be summarized both quickly and shortly: it doesn´t have anything to do with Jaquet Droz as we know it today. There is simply no stock of the movements that were used in this period of time and also they don’t undertake any service of the watches which were produced in that period.
If I´m allowed a small side-step here: it´s interesting to see how brands can be revamped after a dormant period of time. However, I do understand the choice of Jaquet Droz not to link itself to the watches that were produced in the 1960´s and 1970´s. There is no comparison when it comes to quality and finishing, let alone the movements that were used, so the customers of the ´old´ and the ´new´ brand don´t have much alike. A brand that misjudged this, is/was Favre Leuba: this was a popular watch for a broad range of watch fans some years ago, but when the company suddenly relaunched with high-end pieces (hardly any watch under 6K Euro), the search for a new clientele started from scratch. In the meantime the customers of the old collections, happy to finally being able to get their watches serviced again, cluttered the desks of the brand with outdated watches needing service; even though the purchase price of the watch was often below the service charge the company got used to. At their website there are still some beautiful pictures, but the contact address now belongs to a lawyer.
We´ll just take another jump in history and arrive at the turn of the century when the Swatch Group bought the brand Jaquet Droz. In 2001 Manuel Emch was appointed CEO of the brand and he developed the product lines that still form the basis of the collection that we know today. The branding went further (with a lot of success in Asia, where the typical 8-shape of the Grande Seconde dial was much appreciated as this is a lucky number in the region) and the company mainly focused on the esthetics of the watch: superb finishing, sensual case shapes and above all the most astonishing dials. Whether made of petrified woods, rare minerals or ´Grand Feu´ enamel, the face of the watch is always the centre of attention at Jaquet Droz. Maybe this is the link between the experience of Manuel Emch at Jaquet Droz and his responsibilities today at Romain Jerome, where moon dust, remains of the Titanic and parts of the Icelandic volcano are used for the watches.
The history lesson ends with the CEO of today: Marc Hayek. His grandfather took over the helm at Jaquet Droz in 2009 upon the departure of Manuel Emch, but unfortunately died (aged 82) within a year afterwards. Marc Hayek then overtook the responsibility for Jaquet Droz and Breguet, in addition to Blancpain, which he was already managing for years. With this integration the Swatch Group brought together the Swiss prestige brands under one man.
I’m very curious to see the developments in the coming years. The new Grande Seconde Quantieme, that was released during this years Baselworld, looks incredibly promising.
*Thanks to Monochrome
This new sporty beauty from Christopher Ward has been on the Watchuseek forum for a few days but it’s worth showing here on the blog in all its glory.
The C700 Grand Rapide Chronograph is made from a carbon fibre dial as used in the aerospace industry, the military and Formula 1, which is good if nothing groundbreaking.
It comes in a choice of a stainless steel bracelet, a leather strap or a rubber strap, which mirrors the dial with its polished chequered flag design.
The C700 has a 30 minute and 12 hour counter and the 60 second chronograph with its guilloche pattern takes its design inspiration from a rev counter. There’s Superluminova on the hands to ensure easy reading even in the dark.
Flip the C700 over and the crystal sapphire case back affords a clear view of the Swiss Made Sellita SW500 automatic movement.
Like all Christopher Ward watches, the C700 was designed in the UK and hand assembled by the company’s atelier in Switzerland.
At £799, the Grande Rapide is on the high side for a CW watch and some people are worry that Christopher Ward are going to slowly start raising the bar in terms of costs. We hope not. In USD that’s $1,300 which starts to be something of a ‘grande’ investment for the average mid price watch buyer. On the plus side, the Christopher Ward approach to good quality at keen prices is starting to make inroads into the US market.
*Thanks to Watch U Seek
Richard Mille revealed a one-of-a-kind tourbillon that will be sold to support Jackie Chan’s “Dragon’s Heart Foundation.” The RM 055 JC Tourbillon is a unique piece made in 18k white gold and specifically created to raise money at the Jackie Chan auction which is being held September 14th in Beijing to support children.
In collaboration with Jackie Chan and Mélanie Treton-Monceyron, artistic director to the brand, Richard Mille has created a one-off tourbillon. The RM 055 JC is a manual winding tourbillon with hours, minutes, power reserve indicator (70-hours), torque indicator and function selector. The movement’s baseplate is made of carbon nanofiber. The case is features Richard Mille’s signature tourneau shape, measuring 48.18 mm tall x 39.70 mm wide x 13.95 mm thick.
The money raised from the auction will enable Jackie Chan to pursue his actions in favor of aiding less favorable children in remote areas through the construction of new schools; 20 of which have already been built since 2004.
*Thanks to Professional Watches
The origins of EPOS Switzerland was established in 1925 by James Aubert, who opened for business in the famed Valle de Joux, still recognised as the heart of the Swiss watchmaking industry.
James Aubert was an enthusiastic mechanical watch engineer who dedicated his life to developing new watch mechanisms. A master engineer, he spent much time and effort developing chronographs and minute repeaters. He had first acquired his skills working as an engineer for the former Swiss mechanical watch movement manufacturers Valjoux and Landeron.
As is a tradition with many Swiss watch brands, Aubert handed the watch company on to a member of the family, his nephew Jean Aubert and his son-in-law, Jean Fillon, who is still the EPOS’ watch engineer-in-chief. Many complicated watches were created including the jumping hour, the power reserve indication, the big date, the regulator and the regulator with phases of the moon.
The quartz crisis
Come the 1980s and much of the Swiss watch industry ground to a standstill with the introduction of quartz technology that, for a while, threatened to eradicate hundreds of years of Swiss watch technology. No one wanted to produce mechanical watches any longer except for a few of the most exclusive brands. Several companies went to the wall and valuable equipment and machinery was put on the scrap heap.
Enter Peter Hofer, a man passionate about mechanical watches, and a long established expert in Swiss watchmaking. He formed Montre EPOS SA IN 1983. For 20 years Peter Hofer introduced several excellent collections, manufacturing out of Biel and incorporating complicated mechanisms. In 2002 he looked for a successor who shared his passion for mechanical watches and was willing to take over and develop the EPOS business. Ursula Forster, who came from a watchmakers’ family, and her husband Tamdi stepped up to the plate and have succeeded in continuing to produce well designed and reasonably priced watches with plenty of style and flair.
The EPOS watch collection
Today EPOS has a wide range of quality and affordable collections for both men and women. The gents watches alone are divided into no less than 8 different collections each affording plenty of choice, including a Sportive range, and several elegant collections such as Passion, Sophistiquee, Emotion – incorporating skeleton and moon phase watches, and Perfection which features rectangular cased watches. The EPOS collection tends to use ETA, Unitas or Valjoux movements cased in stainless steel or with PVD coating in black or rose gold. These are then transformed by the EPOS watchmakers, who add special functions and stunning decorations. The new creations manufactured in Jean Fillon’s workshop, James Aubert SA, are based on historical vintage movements, which are no longer in production. Once completed, the movement is very carefully decorated, often by hand. Nearly all the EPOS models are equipped with a crystal caseback to allow its owner to admire the work. As a result, EPOS collections are greatly sought after by collectors and watch lovers.
The entry level wristwatch by EPOS is the EPOS Originale, a dress watch with blued steel Breguet hands and the date at 3-0-clock. It comes with a mechanical self-winding movement ETA 2892-A2, decorated with the “perlage” pattern. See through back. Water resistant to 30m and available at around US$500.
EPOS PASSION REGULATOR
Even a top of the line model such as the EPOS Passion Regulator comes in at a very realistic list price of US$2,450 but can be picked up for less. The regulator dial, previously seen only on large precision clocks, has recently been introduced as a feature on fine luxury watches. On the regulator dial, there is a sub register with the hour hand at twelve, subsidiary seconds at six, and the minutes on the central pinion. This Epos Passion Regulator Automatic is in a 42.5mm x 9.5mm polished SS screw back case with display back, water resistant to 50 metres.
If you’re searching for an affordable and innovative dress watch or a stylish sporting chronograph, add EPOS Watches to your list of candidates.
*Thanks to Click Tempus
Longines, with its Lindberge models, has a rich heritage with pilot’s watches. It also supplied a model to Swissair in the 1950s for its pilots and navigators. The original, made between 1953 and 1956, is revived with the brand’s new Twenty-Four Hours.
It was during this period that Swissair purchased the new Douglas DC-7C to inaugurate non-stop service to the United States. The DC-7 was the first piston-engined transport that could reliably provide non-stop crossing of the Atlantic to America headed westward (against the jetstream) as well as eastward. Certainly, many of the original watches supplied to Swissair air crews made the trip frequently on the wrists of pilots and navigators.
The new Twenty Four Hours automatic is fitted with Longines’ caliber L704.2 self-winding movement in a generously sized 47.5mm stainless steel case. The model’s hands make one full circle of its matte black dial in twenty-four hours, pointing to Arabic numerals coated with SuperLuminova and a railway-track minute circle.
A stainless steel caseback cover opens to reveal a transparent caseback. The inside of the cover is engraved with the inscription. “Re-edition of a Longines navigation watch exclusively made for Swissair navigators, 1953-1956.”
*Thanks to iW
In autumn 2009, new kid on the block Revelation announced its first timepiece: a watch with two highly original complications. However, it would be another year before the dream became reality.
To say that Anouk Danthe and Olivier Leu don’t give up easily would be an understatement. In 2005, they decided to follow their dream to create a new watch brand, which they would call Revelation*. The name was well-chosen as their first timepiece reveals its movement through the dial when the bezel is raised, by means of an Archimedes screw which rotates a polarising disc 90° above a second identical disc to allow light to filter through. With the bezel down, time is displayed as on a classic watch. The second complication has been dubbed the Manège tourbillon. Its energy distributing and regulating organs are mounted on a rotating arm with a counterweight. Needless to say, the very thought of this watch was enough to make any collector’s mouth water.
Back to the drawing board
It was a long four years from theory to practice. When the first prototype saw daylight in 2009, expectations ran high that the watch would be unveiled at Baselworld 2010. But Revelation was conspicuous by its absence at last year’s international watch and jewellery show. It seemed the dream would never be anything more than that…. if it hadn’t been for the sheer strength of character of Danthe and Leu, both determined to see this adventure through to the end.
“There’s a simple explanation,” says Anouk Danthe. “In November 2009, we realised the delivered prototype wasn’t viable. This left us with no choice than to put together an independent team and begin the entire study over again, right from energy efficiency. Prior to that, we spent months retrieving technical data and stocks from our former supplier, which obviously didn’t make things easier. But every cloud has a silver lining, as it meant we could put the project, which was heading in completely the wrong direction, back on track.”
A manufacture movement
Anouk Danthe and Olivier Leu swapped their designer’s caps for a project manager hat to oversee the 40 contractors needed to manufacture the 300 or so parts that make up the two complications. In one year, the entire system was revised, backed by mathematical simulations and with the additional constraint of having to work around the existing cases. Two hundred modifications in all were made to the movement, mostly involving the gear ratios and the geometry of the mechanism to introduce a new assembly and adjusting logic. “It’s as though we changed everything without changing anything,” comments Olivier Leu. “And we got where we wanted to be, as we now have an authentic and reliable proprietary movement, made entirely to our design. The watch is presented as two models, one in titanium and one in white gold, of which there will be 15 each. They have a price point of CHF 176,000 and CHF 211,000 [USD 212,500 and 254,750 / EUR 147,650 and 177,000] respectively. This corresponds to prices seen in the 1990s for this level of complication.”
After six years’ hard graft, Revelation can now go out and meet its public through both classic and direct distribution. Anouk Danthe and Olivier Leu already have a stock of ideas for the successor to their first creation. Enough to make Revelation a full-fledged brand.
*Thanks to Magazine de la Haute Horlogerie
Frederique Constant in India signed Miss Earth Nicole Faria as global Brand Ambassador and at the same time sealed its associated with conservation and environmental projects in India as Faria is actively involved with earth-related initiatives. The Geneva-based brand was in Mumbai in June where it presented Faria a special Chocolate Double Heart Beat watch to commence their association.
“Time has always fascinated me. I was amazed to hear of the fact that Frederique Constant is a rare brand that supports earth-related initiatives. I strongly believe that this earth is a legacy that we need to pass on to future generations and the time to act is now. Similarly Frederique Constant is a brand that one would like to pass on to Gen-Next as a legacy. From the fashionista point of view, its classical styles are exactly what the Indian customer requires today,” said Faria.
Sebastien Cretegny, International Sales Manager, Frederique Constant, said, “In India, we decided to do something daringly different. When we met Miss Earth Nicole Faria, we felt that there was a sharing of passion, especially when she spoke about her conservation projects. I am proud to announce that this is the first time that Frederique Constant has associated with a beauty pageant icon anywhere in the world and it happened in India.”
*Thanks to iW
Scope the new Hublot King Power “Dwyane Wade” edition — the watch we’ve been waiting for since Hublot announced Dwyane Wade as its official Ambassador earlier this year. Actually, I knew this day was coming when I spied Dwyane Wade wearing a Hublot watch in early 2010 — Hublot Chief JC-Biver is never one to pass up a high profile Ambassador who is also a Hublotista.
As for the King Power Dwyane Wade watch, it is a decent take on Hublot’s “King Power” watch, with a black-white-red “Miami Heat” color scheme, including a red chrono-pusher, red outer bezel flange, and matching subdials, all of which set-off nicely against the 48mm bead-blasted black ceramic case. I like the strap pairing, too, a leather+rubber strap with “net” style cross-stitching. Dwyane Wade’s jersey number (3) is also featured at 3 o’clock.
*Thanks to Perpetuelle
Perhaps the best-recognized maker of pilot’s watches, Breitling has released the Transocean Chronograph Limited to reinterpret the original Breitling Transocean, first produced in 1958 at the dawning of jet age transatlantic travel.
Made possibly by a new generation of jet-propelled airliners, including the Douglas DC-8, De Havilland Comet and Boeing 707, the high-speed airborne crossings that ushered in the “jet age” created quite a stir. Passengers could board a jetliner on America’s East Coast and be in Western Europe just eight hours later.
No jet airliner was more widely used or better recognized than the famed Boeing 707. Pan American World Airways inaugurated transatlantic service between New York and Paris with the 707 in October 1958, roughly coincident with the debut of the original Transocean. Undoubtedly, many made trips back and forth across the Atlantic on the wrists of 707 pilots as Breitling watches were already well known in the worldwide aviation community.
The new Transocean Chronograph Limited updates the lines of the classic contemporary style. Breitling’s Caliber 01, self-winding chronograph movement powers the understated new watch. Its elegant 43mm case features a slender bezel with a beveled profile, streamlined lugs, classic round pushpieces and a compact crown.
The choronograph’s stylish dial in black or Mercury Silver incorporates large “baton” type straight-line hands, applied hour-markers and counters which are finely recessed and “snailed”. An 18-karat gold rendering of the initial B that served as the brand’s emblem for a period sits at 12 o’clock.
Issued first in a limited edition of 2000 steel case and 200 red gold case versions and available with a woven steel bracelet or crocodile leather strap, the Transocean Chronograph Limited exudes a similar panache as the original model – a popular accessory for the “Jet set”.
*Thanks to iW
Louis Vuitton, the Paris-based brand that makes its watches in Switzerland, is as adept at translating its sense of style and function in its watches as it is when making its world famous leather goods. With a nod to the famed Dassault designs and its forbearers, Louis Vuitton’s new Automatic Tambour Flyback is a bold chronograph that recalls tarmacs marked by innumerable landings and takeoffs. In two tones, set off by dashes of yellow, a reference to the firm’s well-known yellow couture thread, the watch’s dial presents two auxiliary counters inspired by aeronautic instruments, while the clear areas on the dial seem to resemble the aluminum pieces of old plane cabins riveted together.
Its precise graduation is engraved in yellow on the edge of the dial, introducing the flyback function, which originally was an essential pilot’s tool. It makes it possible to put the chronograph back to zero again and to instantly start it by pressing and immediately releasing the reset button.
Two new 44mm models in this series are being made, including a racing model with a tachometer that will be offered in pink gold. Three new references are also available in limited editions. This model will eventually be integrated with brown dials in the permanent collection.
*Thanks to iW
Founded in 1927 in Glashutte, Germany, Tutima has been producing pilot’s watches for most of its history. Today, the brand continues to emphasize the look and heritage of these timepieces in many of its modern collections. The classic Flieger Chronograph, made in the 1940s for Luftwaffe pilots, remains the central stylistic element.
New for 2011, the Grand Classic Black Chronograph PR builds on the design continuity of Tutima’s aviation chronographs. The chrono’s 43mm stainless steel case undergoes a special process to harden it below its surface layer. Both case and bracelet receive a coating of ultra-hard PVD to further protect from shocks and scratches.
A modified version of the Valjoux 7750 automatic movement drives the watch, and Tutima uses cues such as the watch’s fluted rotating bezel and characteristic red market at 12 o’clock. But it is the dial (available in black and red) that puts us in mind of another German aviation class, the Fokker E.1 “Eindecker”.
Dubbed “Eindecker” for its monoplane design, the Fokker E.1 introduced in 1915, pioneered an innovation that the fighter aircraft of World War 1 and beyond would incorporate. The world’s first true fighter featured synchronizer gearing that enabled the pilot to fire a Spandau machine gun through the arc of the propeller without striking its blades.
Known by the allies as the “Fokker Scourge”, the Eindecker gave the German Air Service air supremacy from the summer of 1915 through early 1916. The wire rigging of the E.1’s mid-mounted wing reminds us of the power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock on the Grand Classic Black PR’s dial – a fitting link between the two.
*Thanks to iW
Air racing in America got its start in 1910 and progressed in popularity through the 1930s with the wildly acclaimed, hugely attended Cleveland National Air Races. Privately-designed, single-purpose racing aircrafts dominated the pre-war period, but after the war, ex-military fighters produced by the nation’s burgeoning aviation industry came to the forefront in the Unlimited Class.
In 1947, a new class of racers appeared at Cleveland, created as an alternative to the Unlimiteds. The 190-cubic-inch division featured 85-horsepower custom-built midget racers, weighing as little as 500 pounds. Soon to be known as International Formula One (IF1), the class became one of the signature divisions of modern air racing and an integral part of the Reno National Championship Air Races (NCAR) that succeeded Cleveland as the Premier national air racing contest in the late 1960s.
First appearing in 1954, Tom Cassutt’s “Cassutt” mid-wing Formula One racer became one of the most successful and numerous designs ever to race in IF1. Refined and modernized through the decades, the Cassutt is still racing in IF1 57 years later. In 2010, Oris formed a link with that proud history, sponsoring the Oris Big Crown Racing Team.
Led by Swiss pilot and aerobatic champion, Don Vito Wypraechtiger, the team made its first appearance at the NCAR, campaigning “Scarlet Screamer”, a modified Cassuff III M. After qualifying an excellent third overall, Wypraechtiger flew Scarlet Screamer to a fantastic second place finish in the IF1 Gold Championship race at a speed of 234 mph.
Oris pays tribute to Wypraechtiger and the Big Crown Racing Team with the BC3 Air Racing Limited Edition version of its Big Crown pilot’s watch. Powered by Oris’ caliber 668 (ETA 2893-2 based), the BC3 surrounds its two time zone black dial with a 42mm multi-piece titanium case. The aircraft-shaped pointer that serves as the second time zone hand echoes the color of “the Scarlet Screamer” while the engraved caseback features a rendition of the Cassutt.
Available with a titanium bracelet and rubber strap, just 1,000 examples of the BC3 Air Racing Limited Edition will be made.
*Thanks to iW