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old collections, happy to finally being able to get their watches serviced again, cluttered the desks of the brand with outdated watches needing service; even though the purchase price of the watch was often below the service charge the company got used to.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
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
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
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
The Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar from Audemars Piguet is most remarkable for the classic arrangement of its four subdials showing the date, day, month and moon-phase, the same layout used for pocketwatches. There is also a small hand within the month display to indicate the leap year. The small date subdial at 3 o’clock is more difficult to read than a window date display, but its black hand stands in sharp contrast to the silver dial. This is also true of the day subdial at 9 o’clock. The month subdial, at 12 o’clock, is crowded and hence somewhat harder to make out – but this dial isn’t used much, anyway. Luckily, one refers even less to the leap-year display, because here the tiny print requires a loupe to decipher. This watch needs only 45 minutes for all its calendar displays to change at year’s end.
Although the watch is part of AP’s sporty Royal Oak collection, it has an elegant look, especially the version with rose-gold case and alligator strap. The classic dial underscores the watch’s dressy side and tends to overshadow the watch’s sportier features. The case is surprisingly thin, just 9.4mm. Only the four steel correctors appear out of place on the gold case and their placement between the case’s middle section and bezel poses some risk that the wearer’s finger could slip when setting the date.
The hexagonal crown pullout to just one position, for setting the time. The fact that the watch has no hack mechanism is not immediately apparent because the watch has no seconds hand. The time is easy to read, even in the dark, thanks to the luminous material on the hour and minute hands and hour markers.
Audemars Piguet’s finishing quality is equal to Patek Philippe’s. The variety and complexity of satin and polished finishes on the watch’s case are impressive, as are other details like the hand-sewn strap and the folding clasp featuring the brand’s initials.
The movement was also decorated with great attention to detail. The gold, skeletonized rotor is hand-engraved and the flanks of the gear teeth are polished, as are the screw heads and beveled edges. Fine regulation is done by means of weights on the balance wheel and the escape wheel has a shock absorber. Consisting of the ultra thin 2120 (2.45mm thick) and a perpetual calendar module, the movement is just 4mm thick.
The perpetual calendars from Patek Philippe and A. Lange & Sohne are similarly priced. Complications from major manufacturers almost necessarily have a hefty price.
Estimated price is US$59,000.
*Thanks to Watch Time
Ulysse Nardin combines its perpetual calendar with a second time zone. This watch, the GMT Perpetual, emphasizes ease of operation. It is the only perpetual calendar in which you can set the date forward of back via the crown. First you pull the crown out to the second position and set the minute and hour hands forward or back until the correct day is shown. Then you push the crown back to the first position (which requires a bit of fine motor skill) to set the large date display forward or back. If you pass the 31st day of the month going in either direction, you will also change the month. If you go from December to January or vice versa, the year will change as well.
It takes about 45 minutes for the day and date to change completely. When advancing from February 28 to March 1 (when the date must change four times) this process takes about three hours. Shortly after 12 o’clock the GMT Perpetual shows all the correct calendar information.
The calendar displays appear to be distributed somewhat randomly on the dial. The large date display (which is very easy to read) is located near the top of the dial and the day is placed within the seconds subdial at 9 o’clock, the month on the opposite side of the dial and the last two digits of the year at the bottom at 6 o’clock. There is a triangle-tipped GMT hand that points to the 24-hour track on the inner flange that is divided into two colored sections for day and night.
Pushers marked with “+” and “-“ on the left and right sides of the case are used to advance the hour hand by one hour forward or back. The GMT hand continues to show the home time – a practical feature when traveling into a different time zone.
This caliber is derived from the movement developed in 1994 by Nouvelle Lemania for the Ebel chronographs and the perpetual calendar for Ulysse Nardin. The calendar mechanism was designed by Ludwig Oechslin for Ulysse Nardin. The beautiful rotor bears the brand logo, an anchor on a blue background.
Like the movement, the case, dial and hand-sewn strap are nicely finished. However, the strap is quite stiff when new and detracts from the watch’s overall wearing comfort.
Estimated price is US$65,000.
*Thanks to Watch Time
The futuristic CI MeaTech is a new variation of Concord’s CI Chronograph, introduced in 2007 when the company completely revamped its product range. It’s distinguished from other 1 Chronograph models by the grille in the center of its dial, whose pattern echoes the crisscross design of the dial’s outer portion. The watch contains a COSC-certified automatic ETA Valgranges movement, which has a frequency of 28,800 vph and a 48-hour power reserve. Like all C1 Chronographs, this one has an unusual running seconds display at 9 o’clock, which incorporates a rotating disk rather than a hand. The case, 44mm in diameter and 16.7mm thick, is made of steel with a black PVD coating. It is water-resistant to 200 meters and has a transparent back. The bezel is rose gold and has eight black rubber segments. The crystal is made of sapphire and is 3.3mm thick. It has nonfeflective coating on both sides. The indexes and the hours and minutes hands have a Super-Luminova coating.
Estimated price is US$20,000.
*Thanks to Watch Time
Like many other brands, Alpina has a history of producing pilot’s watches. The new timepieces from the 2011 Startimer collection take styling cues from the military watches the brand made in the 1920s and 1930s.
Four models comprise the collection, including; a three-hand date automatic utilizing Alpina’s caliber AL-525, an automatic featuring minute and hour indication and off-center date hand powered by the in-house AL-710 caliber, the Startimer Pilot Regulator with central minute hand and off-center hour subdial driven by Alpina’s in-house caliber AL-950, and finally an automatic chronograph version built on the AL-860 movement.
All employ matte black dials and a clean, attractive design with oversized white luminous numerals, a glare-free sapphire crystal and the signature red Alpina-triangle on the second hand. Their stainless steel cases measure 44mm and attach to the wrist via a distinctive leather strap which closes on the front side of the wrist, not on the reverse or lower sides, resembling the vintage leather straps of the past.
Alpina is releasing the Startimer collection in conjunction with Cessna Aviation and Swiss business/private jet charter company PrivatAir to cross promote their pilot’s watch. Cessna’s new Citation Ten is the latest in the company’s highly regarded Citation X long-range bizjet line and also a model that can be found among PrivatAir’s fleet. Debuting in 2011, it’s the fastest civilian aircraft in the sky. Able to cruise at up to Mach .92 or 604mph, while carrying eight to twelve passengers in great comfort for as much as 3000 miles, the Ten is now the crown jewel in the famous manufacturer’s long line of business jets and piston-powered private aircrafts.
*Thanks to iW
Take an up close and personal look with the cool new Chrono-Matic Blacksteel Limited from Breitling. Created in a limited edition of 2,000 pieces this is one powerful looking timepiece. What’s more, it is absolutely great on the wrist. It feels good, too, thanks to the red rubber-molded bidirectional rotating bezel. The 49mm steel case is made using a high resistance carbon-based treatment so it doesn’t feel heavy and it simply doesn’t look too big in its black and red format. It just looks innovative, modern and must have.
The watch is a COSC-certified chronometer chronograph that is smartly equipped with an Ocean Racer perforated black rubber strap to reinforce the original appearance of the watch. It houses the Breitling Caliber 14 with self-winding movement that beats at 28,800 vibrations per hour with 38 jewels and 42 hours of power reserve. The chronograph times to ¼ second and has 30-minute and 12-hour totalizers. The watch also offers a date indication via dial aperture and the bezel features a circular slide rule — chocking a whole lot into a small space – but doing it beautifully—as only Breitling knows how. The watch is water resistant to 3 bars. In all, this distinctive look can go racing, water sporting – or anywhere you want– for a cool $9,000.
*Thanks to A Timely Perspective
A new addition to Corum’s Admiral’s Cup collection, the Admiral’s Cup Seafender 48 Times, is a sophisticated tides watch with functions developed in-house. The subdial at 12 o’clock displays phases of the moon and their relation to high and low tides, as indicated by a pointer and a numerical coefficient scale. At 6 o’clock, another subdial shows the time on a 24-hour scale with day-night indication and the times of the next high and low tides. Finally, the counter at 9 o’clock uses a pointer to show whether the tide is rising or falling and a red line indicating maximum current strength: the closer the pointer to the line, the stronger the current.
The movement developed for this watch, CO277, is an automatic with hours, minutes, seconds, date and a 42-hour power reserve. The 12-sided Admiral’s Cup case, with its trademark nautical pennants marking the hours on the flange, is 48mm in diameter and made of lightweight, grade 5 titanium, with vulcanized rubber elements on the bezel, crown protector and caseback. Titanium corrector buttons at 4, 6 and 8 o’clock control the tides functions. The skeletonized hands have Super-LumiNova tips. The watch is water-resistant to 300 meters and comes on a black vulcanized rubber strap.
Estimated price is US$8,800.
*Thanks to Watch Time
Living up to its namesake, the Hommage 1910 collection embraces the company’s origins. An automatic Dubois Depraz Calibre 285 movement is housed in a lightweight 44mm titanium case that only weighs 70 grams. Inspired by an aircraft cockpit, the dial features luminescent hands and red-accented white counters. The timepiece has hours, minutes, seconds, date and a chronograph function. A black leather strap is attached to the case.
*Thanks to iW