Tag Archives: audemars piguet

Art events in Asia: Cheng Ran’s ‘Circadian Rhythm’ presented by Audemars Piguet at Art Basel Hong Kong 2017

Cheng Ran, Film Still from ‘Circadian Rhythm’, 2017, video installation. Image courtesy of Audemars Piguet

Cheng Ran, Film Still from ‘Circadian Rhythm’, 2017, video installation. Image courtesy of Audemars Piguet

‘Circadian Rhythm’ by Cheng Ran, will be presented by Audemars Piguet at the Collectors Lounge at Art Basel Hong Kong. Since 2013, Audemars Piguet has invited artists to conceptualise original works based on the brand’s story to present at all three Art Basel shows in Hong Kong, Basel and Miami. The list includes British photographer Dan Holdsworth, French art duo Kolkoz, Austrian videographer Kurt Hentschläger and Geneva-based artist Alexandre Joly, and Chinese artist Cheng Ran joining the ranks with the latest commission.

Cheng, born in 1981 in Inner Mongolia, is known for his video artworks that are informed by both Chinese and Western culture. As an artist who frequently explores time and space in his artistic practice, he was a natural choice for the project with Audemars Piguet. Cheng’s recent solo exhibitions include ‘In Course of the Miraculous’ at the K11 Art Foundation in Hong Kong in 2016, and his first solo museum exhibition in the United States, ‘Cheng Ran: Diary of a Madman’ at the New Museum, co-presented with K11 Art Foundation, following a three-month residency.

Cheng Ran, Film Still from ‘Circadian Rhythm’, 2017, video installation. Image courtesy of Audemars Piguet

Cheng Ran, Film Still from ‘Circadian Rhythm’, 2017, video installation. Image courtesy of Audemars Piguet

For the latest Audemars Piguet commission, Cheng has taken inspiration from the beautiful landscape of Vallée du Joux, home to Audemars Piguet, where its precision timepieces are crafted. In an immersive video installation, the artist shows off the area’s verdant forest and gentle streams, set against an intricate soundscape of the peaceful Swiss Jura Mountains blending harmoniously with the precise mechanical ticks from the complicated mechanisms of Audemars Piguet watches.

Cheng Ran. Image courtesy of Audemars Piguet

Cheng Ran. Image courtesy of Audemars Piguet

Speaking about his concept, Cheng says, “I was inspired by the artistry and attention to detail Audemars Piguet dedicates to creating one single timepiece”. He adds, “I hope viewers will enjoy the immersive excursion I have created through landscapes and soundscapes, transporting them through experimental types of media. I am thankful to have been given the chance to continue my journey with Audemars Piguet since the piece was presented in Shanghai at the end of last year.” The work was first presented at Yuz Museum at the end of 2016 in the Audemars Piguet watch history exhibition, ‘To Break the Rules, You Must First Master Them’.

The pairing of Audemars Piguet watches with Cheng Ran’s work will be a visual and auditory treat for VIP guests at the art fair. “Audemars Piguet has pushed watchmaking boundaries ever since it was founded in 1875, a characteristic that is also fundamental to the production of great art,” says Olivier Audemars, Vice President of the Board of Directors of Audemars Piguet. “Through his video Cheng Ran reflects on the very heart of our craft and our connection to nature while managing to take the viewer on an unexpected journey. ‘Circadian Rhythm’ combines both art and watchmaking into a single pulse, like two hearts beating in unison”.

Art Republik looks forward to the Audemars Piguet presentation of Cheng’s work at Art Basel Hong Kong.

This article was originally published in Art Republik 14.

Luxury watches: 7 mechanical timepieces with digital displays

We popularly refer to the hands of time in many everyday events, typically when we want to talk about going back in time to fix something or making a tiresome meeting end quicker. We process these entirely natural set of metaphorical motions largely without thinking about why time even needs to have hands. In truth, since digital quartz watches spread like wildfire upon the wrists of more humans than ever before in the 1970s, time hasn’t needed hands to make sense. Soon, with the proliferation of those pesky handheld computers called mobile phones (our data suggests you are reading this story on one right now), an entire generation will cease to understand and appreciate anything other than digital time.

Well, mechanical watches too have caught the digital bug — digital display that is, as these seven watches show. Ok, some of them still use hands but mainly in unexpected ways or for aesthetic reasons.

This spread was first featured in World of Watches’ (WOW) Festive issue. The WOW team would like to highlight that this spread was incorrectly credited. The digital artist responsible is Zi Wen.

 

Review: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold

Review: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold

Upon hearing the words frosted gold, as we have here with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold, one cannot help but recall the festive season. It almost sounds like some tasty treat, like the legendary Frosted Malted of old. Well the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold is quite a delectable horological treat, a present to itself in a way to honor the 40th anniversary of the first lady’s model of the Royal Oak. The Royal Oak proper itself celebrated its 40th in 2012, which here in Singapore was a memorably grand affair at the old KTM train station at Tanjong Pagar. The women’s model got a suitably glitzy party at the international level but more on that another time.

Savvy watch collectors will think of a movement decoration technique used by the likes of Greubel Forsey and Kari Voutilainen upon reading the words frosted gold – superlative stuff that is best appreciated in person or via an extreme close-up. As it happens, this is related to the Royal Oak Frosted Gold because the gold in question indeed owes its frosted look to an age-old jewelry finishing style called the Florentine technique. According to Audemars Piguet, this technique derives from an ancient method of hammering gold, which we take to mean using a tiny hammer to bang out the wonderful little indentations seen here.

Bucci’s workshops use a diamond-tipped tool to create the tiny indentations, giving the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold its luster. It took many months of collaborative work between the Audemars Piguet manufacture and the Bucci workshop to port this technique over from jewelry to watchmaking. For the manufacture, the key was how to integrate the new technique with the Royal Oak’s signature combination of brushed and polished surfaces. It must be said that the results speak for themselves. You look at the pictures and you just want to reach out and touch the watch, which is an unqualified win for this new model.

ro_15454or-gg-1259or-01_2_closeup_prcmyk

Audemars Piguet is taking this opportunity shine the spotlight once more on the original designer for this model, Jacqueline Dimier. While the Royal Oak was famously created by the late Gerald Genta, Dimier took on the challenge of adapting the design for the feminine version. A major name in design in her own right, she was the in-house head of design for Audemars Piguet until 1999. The brand is relishing the opportunity to talk up Dimier again during the 40th anniversary and pay tribute with the Royal Oak Frosted Gold.

As far as the innards are concerned, Audemars Piguet has gone with safety and stability, which will disappoint some aficionados. In particular, the decision to use the quartz calibre 2713 for the 33mm version has drawn some flak from Internet commentators. This is exacerbated by manufacture’s decision to use the solidly dependable automatic calibre 3120 for the 37mm version. Arguably, if women favor the larger mechanical version, there might be a strong enough draw for the manufacture to consider it for the 33mm as well, if it can find an automatic solution. The answer will reveal itself in time…

Specs

  • Dimensions: 37mm and 33mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date; hours, minutes, date (33mm version)
  • Movements: Automatic calibre 3120; quartz calibre 2713 (33mm version)
  • Power Reserve: 60 hours (37mm version)
  • Materials: Rose gold and white gold
  • Water Resistance: 50 meters
  • Strap: Rose gold and white gold bracelet
audemars piguet exhibition shanghai

Audemars Piguet Hosts Ambitious Exhibit In Shanghai

“To break the rules, you must first master them” – the name set the tone. The luxury Swiss watch manufacturer is currently hosting its most ambitious exhibition which brings guests on a journey through its history — in Yuz Museum, Shanghai.

Audemars Piguet appointed French designer Mathieu Lehanneur to conceive a special installation: a large ring, made of 12 rooms – an allusion to a watch dial  – where 200 historical and contemprary timepieces are exposed. “This exhibition is a reflection on time… a dreamy vision of time where each instant differs from the previous one. Here every door opens onto a new story,” Lehanneur said.

audemars piguet exhibition shanghai

the “ring” installation, designed by Mathieu Lehanneur

In the middle of the circle stands a huge rock, created from cast replicas of those found in Audemars Piguet’s home in the Vallée de Joux. It is meant to remind the visitors of the brands origins and how far it has come from there. Key artists, as Cheng Ran, Dan Holdsworth and Alexandre Joly, also contributed to the exhibit, showing the brands commitment with the world of contemporary art.

audemars piguet exhibition shanghai

Since 1875, the oldest fine watchmaking manufacturer still in the hands of its founding families, has proven its expertise in Haute Horlogerie crafting and its capacity to adapt and prosper through the ages. This exhibition, presents the largest collection ever brought outside of its own Museum also explores a selection of horological arts and crafts that the brand has mastered over the centuries.

After Shanghai, the “ring” exhibit will be displayed in severl other art capitals throughout 2017.

“To Break the rules, you must first Master Them” by Audemars Piguet, Yuz Museum, Shanghai. Until November 13th

Double Balance Wheel

Why Two Balance Springs are Better than One

Just like the human body, a mechanical movement has a core anatomy. Typically, it includes a mainspring coiled within a barrel and a going train that consists of four gearing wheels, the escapement, and the balance wheel. Science has proven that larger brains equate to higher intelligence, so it stands to reason that having two brains is very likely better than just one.

It is the same for mechanical watches. When done well, having two balance wheels (or more) yields higher timekeeping accuracy and additional barrels understandably give more power. A set of gongs that encircle the movement twice, also known as cathedral gongs, produces chimes with greater resonance, color, and richness as opposed to traditional gongs that go round the movement only once. And two tourbillons are always better than one.

Audemars Piguet

For the first time, Audemars Piguet makes a Royal Oak equipped with two sets of balance wheels and hairsprings geared to one going train.

In their continual quest to build better watches, watchmakers have not only toyed with the concept that having additional critical components would improve performance, but they have also boldly acted on it, producing some of the most exciting mechanical movements in modern watchmaking history.

Fine BalanceAudemars Piguet

Oscillator is to watch what pendulum is to clock. A staggering majority of mechanical movements, whether made today or historically, have been designed with a single oscillator placed at the end of the gear train. The oscillator generally consists of balance wheel and balance spring, and its job is to convert the linear flow of power coming from the mainspring into oscillations, hence the back and forth motion. With each oscillation, it dispenses power to the escape wheel in pulses and this is how a watch advances each second.

Unlike a clock, which sits immobile on a mantelpiece or mounted on the wall, a watch and its movement are constantly put through different positions on the wrist. Gravity’s effect acts on the hairspring from as many as six different directions.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Quatuor

With four oscillatiors set at an incline and a differential mechanism to extrapolate the average rate, the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Quatuor places first in showmanship

The argument that a tourbillon would be the ideal solution to optimal rate accuracy (or not) is a tale as old as time. A less conventional but no less exciting solution is to implement additional balance wheels instead of just the one.

Companies like Roger Dubuis, F.P. Journe, and more recently, Audemars Piguet and Greubel Forsey all have stunning inventions to show. In particular, Roger Dubuis outdid even itself and worked with two pairs of two balances in pursuit of timekeeping precision. Even ultra-niche MB&F has thrown its hat in the ring with this formula.

Greubel Forsey Double Balancier Incliné

The Greubel Forsey Double Balancier Incliné uses two balance wheels set at a 30-degree incline

Audemars Piguet presented the Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked this year. It is the first timepiece by the Le Brassus manufacture to be made with two balance wheels, in what it calls the dual balance patented geometry.

Before this seminal invention, Audemars Piguet had only produced watches with double hairsprings. With the ambition to increase timekeeping precision, its watchmakers mounted a second balance wheel with its own balance spring on the same axis as the first, resulting in a regulator that oscillates at three hertz with double the mass. More mass equals more inertia, and more inertia enables the regulator to continue oscillating even when there is shock. Ergo, the greater the inertia, the more stable the timekeeping.

MB&F Legacy Machine No.2

The MB&F Legacy Machine No.2 flaunts two balance wheels hanging over the dial and seemingly disconnected from the differential wheel.

Precision also stands to benefit and this movement, Calibre 3132, boasts an average daily rate of -2/+10. Also, because the two balance wheels are set against each other, the hairsprings take turns to “breathe” and the effect of gravity gets cancelled out as the device regulates itself.

Greubel Forsey has always dabbled in movements with multiple balance wheels or multiple tourbillons set at multiple axes. From the get-go, this ultra-niche firm has been about modern horological inventions, and so it’s not surprising that it is home to the most robust collection of double (and quadruple) tourbillons on the market.

Joining the Double Balancier Incliné of 2009 is the breath-taking Double Balancier à Différentiel Constant with two balance wheels set at a 30-degree incline from the mainplate. Between two regulators lies a spherical and constant force differential that is used to average out the errors of the two balances. Note that because they’re set at an incline, the balances are already more accurate than ordinary ones, as no matter what position the watch is in, either one or both of the balances will not be completely vertical to the force of gravity.lm2_platinum_engine

Other than to even out the margins of errors of the two balances, the differential is also boosted by a constant force mechanism that sends energy in regular pulses to the two escapements. This means that irrespective of the movement’s state of wind, the amount of power being sent to the regulators remain constant.

Without it, the regulators stand to oscillate faster and stronger when the mainspring is fully wound, and with progressively less speed and power as energy in the mainspring depletes. Oscillating in tandem, the two balance wheels produce a hypnotic effect that is even more exciting to watch than any traditional high complication.

Going by the kind of watches Roger Dubuis has been producing, audacity would clearly be its middle name if the Genevan manufacture had one. Three years ago, it released a watch called the Excalibur Quatuor that had not one, not two, but four spring balances. Needless to say, the movement, Calibre RD101, stood beside itself both in terms of technique and aesthetic.

F.P Journe's Chronomètre à Résonance

F.P Journe’s Chronomètre à Résonance remains the only double balance movements that utilises the phenomenon of resonance for regulation.

Each of the four balance wheels was set at an incline to average out the effects of gravity on the movement, and the wheels work in pairs, compensating immediately for rate variations caused by changes in position. According to Roger Dubuis, what the tourbillon achieves in 60 seconds, the Quatuor does instantaneously.

This movement is also equipped with a differential device to average out the errors of both pairs of spring balances, and oscillating at four hertz each, they come together to bring the accuracy of the movement to an astonishing 16 hertz. Putting one’s ear next to the watch, the break-neck speed at which all four balances simultaneously oscillate produces a sound that’s not quite the soothing, traditional tick-ticking, but rather, an almost deafening trill not unlike the cacophonous chirping of crickets.

A sure sight for sore eyes, the MB&F Legacy Machine No. 2 offers a sleek and modern take on the double balance movement. Ironically, though, this timepiece finds more inspiration in the past as opposed to the future. According to MB&F founder, Maximilian Büsser, the idea for the LM2 came from timepieces made by two esteemed watchmaking legends: the double balance calibres made by Ferdinand Berthoud from the 18th century and the one-and-only Philippe Dufour Duality.F.P Journe's Chronomètre à Résonance

Hovering above the dial, the two balances are supported by a pair of curved arms designed to evoke a distinctive futuristic vibe echoed by the bridge supporting the gilded differential wheel. The objective of this differential wheel is, once again, to average out the errors between the two balances. Oscillating at a leisurely 18,000vph, these mesmerising devices mirror each other and reflect the twin wheel layout of two gear wheels seen from the case back, which remind one of a style of watchmaking that was dear to Berthoud. Done, as usual, in collaboration with friends of the brand, the LM2 movement was designed by Jean-François Mojon of the movement specialist firm, Chronode, and expertly finished by Kari Voutilainen.

Making a movement with two balance wheels isn’t as easy as it sounds. Bear in mind that in watchmaking, as with all kinds of engineering, having more parts means more parameters to control. Therefore, a double balance movement is more than twice as complicated to make. In lieu of a differential to even out the performances of both balances, F.P. Journe utilised the much under-explored physical phenomenon known as resonance to synchronize the two balances.

Mechanical resonance is where the frequency of oscillation of an object matches the frequency of another, resulting in an increase of amplitude. The F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance is, till date, the only wristwatch that relies on the resonance phenomenon for precision – proof that such a movement is immensely complex to design and difficult to achieve. Both balances have to be placed at the optimum distance from each other, and this is adjustable by a central pinion. Because they’re placed so near each other, one affects the other’s frequency, thus constantly compensating for the deviations. The two balances are also made in the signature F.P. Journe extra-large geometry with four arms and corresponding adjustable inertia weights, where large balance wheels typically offer greater stability thanks to higher moments of inertia generated.

Good Timekeeping

Another area where an additional balance wheel comes in extra handy is in chronograph movements. Traditionally, chronographs experience a sharp drop in amplitude whenever the stopwatch mechanism is activated because those components deplete power from the gear train. Thus, for that split second or so, timekeeping precision would suffer, and fully regain only when the chronograph is stopped and reset. This condition affects not only chronographs, but all movements with additional functions, particularly functions that require a significant amount of power to operate. Repeaters are another example.

Montblanc's Timewriter II Bi-Fréquence 1000

Montblanc’s Timewriter II Bi-Fréquence 1000 uses a separate balance wheel for the chronograph, which pulsates at 360,000vph, but thanks to a patented divisional mechanism, measures time accurate to 1/1,000th of a second.

Having a separate balance wheel for the chronograph function not only eliminates this problem but also enables the movement to measure time autonomously and with even greater accuracy. When it is no longer at the mercy of the gear train, the chronograph’s balance has the freedom to oscillate at higher frequencies than the regular balance wheel.

This brings with it several advantages. The higher the frequency, the more accurate the timekeeper. Yet high frequency balances are subject to a lot more wear and tear, so limiting its use to only when needed would be extremely judicious. Finally, a high frequency balance needs to be small in diameter, which although fast and accurate, is not especially stable; large balances are stable although not as accurate. Therefore, what is the optimal geometry for good chronograph activity isn’t at all good for the regular hours and minutes, and so having a dedicated balance to each is to have the best of both worlds.

For a time, TAG Heuer had committed itself to the development of some of the fastest, most accurate chronographs on the market. Watches like the Carrera Mikrograph and Carrera Mikrotimer Flying 1000 offer super accurate chronograph function on the one hand and stable timekeeping on the other. The Mikrograph’s chronograph records time accurate to the nearest 100th of a second with a micro balance wheel that beats at an insane 360,000vph while the main balance wheel for the hours and minutes cruises along at a relatively leisurely 28,800vph, which is actually considered pretty fast for the hours and minutes.

Breguet Tradition 7077 Chronograph Independent

The Breguet Tradition 7077 Chronograph Independent uses silicon balance springs with Breguet overcoil in both balance wheels

On the other hand, the Mikrotimer Flying 1000 takes things up another notch, measuring time to the nearest 1,000th of a second. Its micro balance wheel powers on at a breakneck speed of 3.6 million times per hour, making it 125 times faster than a standard Swiss chronograph, and a hundred times more accurate than the most prevalent industrialized fast-beat chronograph movement, the Zenith El Primero. To watch this timepiece in action is not for the faint hearted because the central seconds hand spins around the dial a whopping 10 times per second. The only drawback is that the chronograph is only able to clock short events of no more than 150 seconds.

Both the Mikrograph and Mikrotimer Flying 1000 are made with the TAG Heuer dual-chain architecture, which eliminates the need for a clutch, but more impressively, both timepieces received COSC certification. Even while the chronograph is running, the watches remain highly precise.

Also measuring time in high definition is Montblanc with its TimeWriter II Chronographe Bi-Fréquence 1000 released in 2012. Again, there is one balance wheel for timekeeping and another for the chronograph, where the former beats at a deliberate pace of 18,000vph or 2.5 hertz, while in stark contrast, the latter pulsates at 360,000vph or 50 hertz. Here’s where the ingenuity of independent watchmaker Bartomeu Gomila comes into play.

TAG Heuer Carrera Mikrograph

The TAG Heuer Carrera Mikrograph has two balance wheels, one for the hours and minutes oscillating at 28,00vph and another for the chronograph that oscillates at 360,000vph.

Compared to the Mikrotimer Flying 1000’s 3.6 million vph frequency, the Bi-Fréquence 1000 is 10 times slower. Yet it manages to display time just as accurately (to the nearest thousandth of a second) thanks to Gomila’s unique and patented mechanism. According to Montblanc, it took 10 years for Gomila to build the prototype, which is based on the idea of a childhood game involving a hoop and a stick. Using a thousandths wheel as the hoop and the chronograph gear train as the stick, the thousandths wheel rotates 10 times per second with each impulse received from the gear train. Thus, Gomila’s invention allows further division of the elapsed time by 10 times, thus yielding 1/1,000th of a second reading from a 1/100th of a second balance frequency.

The chronograph also has its own mainspring and can continue running for 45 minutes when fully wound. Both balance wheels can be seen through the dial, along with the chronograph minutes and seconds at six o’clock, the centrally mounted hundredths of a seconds hand that corresponds to the scale on the outermost circumference, and an arch window at 12 o’clock displaying 1/1,000th of a second.

If there were just one watch that deserves to be made with two balance wheels, it would be none other than the Breguet Tradition. Firstly, this timepiece inspired by early Breguet souscription watches is known for its fully openworked aesthetic, where the balance wheel is mirrored by the third wheel and its arbour to form a pleasantly symmetrical aesthetic. But where the balance wheel can be seen constantly oscillating, the third wheel appears not to move at all, even though in reality it is – just very slowly. As beautiful as the Tradition is, many purists and WISes lament this one tiny imperfection.

TAG Heuer Carrera Mikrotimer Flying 1000

With an incredible frequency of 3.6 million times per hour, the TAG Heuer Carrera Mikrotimer Flying 1000 records time accurate to 1/1,000th of a second.

With the Tradition 7077 Chronograph Independent, however, this “wrong” is finally righted, as instead of the third wheel, there is the chronograph balance wheel. To achieve maximum design integrity, Breguet made this balance wheel in the same size as the timekeeping balance. However, in order for it to function optimally, it had to be made in titanium. This is because it oscillates at five hertz and this needs to be lighter than the traditional timekeeping balance oscillating at three hertz.

It may not be ultra-precise like the TAG Heuer and the Montblanc but this timepiece is extra reliable as a pair of brakes engages the chronograph balance every time it starts and stops. Mainly, its role is to ensure positional integrity when the balance stops and optimal amplitude when it starts. Breguet has also used silicon overcoil hairsprings and pallet forks in these areas.

The chronograph can run continuously for 20 minutes because it has its own mainspring. Winding it isn’t done through the crown, but rather, it happens automatically when the reset button is pushed. The reset button winds a small blade spring, which can be seen through the sapphire case back.

Train Reaction

Apart from introducing additional balance wheels, some watchmakers have considered other means of isolating a movement’s timekeeping elements from its functional ones. The most prolific of them would have to be Jaeger-LeCoultre and its ingenious Dual Wing concept. Introduced in 2008, it is essentially a system with two separate gear trains, each with its own mainspring and barrel, and both sharing one regulating organ.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre à Quantième Lunaire

Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre à Quantième Lunaire

As with double balance movements, one of the gear trains is dedicated to timekeeping and the other, all the functions and complications built into the movement. To date, they include moon phases, dual time, chronograph, the Jaeger-LeCoultre patented Sphérotourbillon, and the grande sonnerie in the inimitable Hybris Mechanica à Grande Sonnerie.

With a balance frequency of 21,600vph, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre watches aren’t the fastest timekeepers on the market but in terms of rate precision there is no doubt that they’re among the very best. Reaching -1/+6 seconds per day, the Dual Wing construction allows all manner of complications to function without causing any loss of amplitude to the balance.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre Spherotourbillon Moon

Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre Spherotourbillon Moon

This is because there is no connection between the two going trains; the two gear trains run completely independently of each other, that is, until the end where they converge at the balance wheel. Of all the variations made to date, energy guzzlers like the chronograph and the Hybris Mechanica à Grande Sonnerie stand to benefit the most from the Dual Wing construction.

Manually wound, the Calibre 380 movement family stays powered for 50 hours. This applies to the hours and minutes as well as the complication, in the case of Calibre 380A, the chronograph. Each barrel is clearly labelled and they correspond to their respective power reserve indicators on either side of the foudroyante counter displaying 1/6th of a second.

Hot on the heels of the Duomètre is the F.P. Journe Centigraphe Souveraine, which also offers a method of chronograph timekeeping that does not sap the life out of the mainspring, not even for a fraction of a second. Again, the chronograph has been isolated from the timekeeping mechanism, but here is where the Centigraphe Souverain is absolutely unique.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre à Chronograph

Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre à Chronograph

The hands of the 100th of a second, the 20 seconds, and the 10 minutes counters are driven by two different wheel trains bifurcated from the chronograph gear train. Next, the one-second and 20-seconds counters are also driven by their own wheel trains positioned on either side of a single intermediate wheel driven by the barrel arbour. Finally, yet another separate train of wheels, also driven by the barrel arbour, drives the 10-minutes hands. In short, all of the hands draw power directly from the mainspring.

Forward Spiral

To average out the effects of gravity on the balance spring, a watchmaker may decide to construct a tourbillon carriage with which to protect the balance wheel and its spring, but this device makes regulation exponentially more difficult. Said watchmaker may also decide to split the flow of power into two sets of balance wheel and spring, interpolating their rates of precision with a differential, as seen with the timepieces discussed earlier by Audemars Piguet, Greubel Forsey, Roger Dubuis, and MB&F.

F.P Journe Centigraphe Souveraine

The F.P Journe Centigraphe Souveraine combines ultra-precise timekeeping with one-of-a-kind mechanics

While not quite as magnificent as the tourbillon, double balances are, in their own way, just as thrilling to admire. This places movements with double hairsprings one rung below the double balance when it comes to horological greatness.

Yet, it would not be fair to presume that such movements are inherently less complicated to make. The balance spring, a thing of beauty in itself, is something literally only a handful of watch companies can make in-house. To produce variants of the industry standard – Nivarox with Breguet overcoil – would be to call on a wholly different area of watchmaking expertise. At first blush, a double spiral looks deceptive simple, as it lacks the drama and fanfare of a tourbillon or a double balance system, but put it under the loupe and its beauty instantly becomes palpable.

Audemars Piguet Millenary Minute Repeater's Calibre 2928

Audemars Piguet Millenary Minute Repeater’s Calibre 2928 uses double hairsprings in one balance.

How does a double spiral system resist gravitational forces? Positioned opposite each other, the springs “breathe” alternately; when one expands, the other contracts. In addition, they each move in the opposite direction. So, when the center of gravity of the first balance spring makes a shift, the center of gravity of the second one moves in the exact opposite direction, thus compensating for the error and ensuring that the gravity center is always kept at the center of the balance wheel.

The theory behind achieving optimal rate accuracy using two spirals is not too different from that which uses two balances – components move in opposite directions to equal out the effect of gravity on the spirals. But having two spirals in one balance wheel reduces the need for additional components, thus making it easier to regulate the oscillator.

Audemars Piguet's Millenary Quadriennium

Introduced in 2015, the Millenary Quadriennium also comes with Audemars Piguet’s proprietary AP escapement and two balance springs

Before this year’s Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked, Audemars Piguet has presented timepieces with two spirals within a single balance wheel. The Millenary Minute Repeater with AP Escapement combines the proprietary AP escapement with a double spiral (flat terminal curve) and variable inertia balance wheel that oscillates at 21,600vph. Its vast expanse of a dial affords stunning views of the escapement as well as the regulator.

Likewise, the Millenary Quadriennium also boasts the AP escapement and a double spiral regulator oscillating at 21,600vph. According to Audemars Piguet, the movements are as precise as a tourbillon, since the AP escapement brings higher timekeeping efficiency and the double spiral compensates for potential poising flaws. While flat spirals typically do not breathe as concentrically as overcoil spirals, a double spiral construct renders this issue void because errors are effectively cancelled out when the springs take turns to breathe and in opposing directions.

H. Moser & Cie's Straumann double hairspring can be found in the Henry Double Hairspring, a watch named after the company's founding father.

H. Moser & Cie’s Straumann double hairspring can be found in the Henry Double Hairspring, a watch named after the company’s founding father.

The production of hairsprings is a regular milieu of a very select few watchmaking companies. There is literally only a handful of them, and H. Moser & Cie. might be considered the least likely to boast this capability on account of its ultra-niche branding and small production numbers. Its sister company, Precision Engineering AG, makes balance springs that are physically comparable to the Nivarox springs invented by Reinhard Straumann, which almost all companies today use. Nivarox consists of about 45 per cent cobalt, 20 per cent nickel, 20 per cent chromium, five per cent iron, and smaller percentages of titanium and beryllium, and so does the Straumann hairspring proprietary to H. Moser & Cie., so named in tribute to the inventor.

Note the set of two swan neck regulators under the balance bridge.

Note the set of two swan neck regulators under the balance bridge.

Using two Straumann hairsprings, H. Moser & Cie. made a double spiral for the escapement in a timepiece that paid tribute to its founding father, Heinrich Moser. Rather than a flat hairspring, the spiral is made with a Breguet overcoil to allow optimal concentric breathing, and like all H. Moser & Cie. watches, its entire escapement can be removed from the movement thanks to the interchangeable module design. The escape wheel and pallet fork are done in hardened gold, another key characteristic of an H. Moser & Cie. timepiece.

Laurent Ferrier Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral

The Laurent Ferrier Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral is classic on the outside, complex in the inside.

Speaking of in-house manufactured hairsprings, Montblanc not only produces them by hand at its Villeret manufacture, but it also managed to flaunt this exceptional mastery with a double cylindrical spiral in the Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique. Introduced in 2011, this timepiece is linked to historical marine chronometers, which also tended to be made with cylindrical hairsprings. In this work of mechanical showmanship, the double cylindrical hairspring is paired with an extra-large variable inertia regulator balance wheel and a magnificent tourbillon carriage that is essentially three infinity signs fused in one. The tourbillon bridge also follows through with the infinity symbol motif.

Where there is a double hairspring that already works to cancel out the effects of gravity, a tourbillon regulator is arguably superfluous. However, the Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique stubbornly combines both in this showpiece that offers a mere hint of watchmaking savoir-faire by Montblanc’s Villeret manufacture. The oscillator moves at a frequency of 2.5 hertz or 18,000vph, which is the traditional speed of all of Montblanc’s Villeret-made timepieces. Slow compared to even moderately paced movements, the manual-winding Calibre MB M65.63 was intentionally given this frequency so collectors could clearly admire the beauty of the spirals, the balance, and of course, the tourbillon.

Montblanc Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique

Montblanc Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique

Who else also made a tourbillon with two spirals? Watchmaking independent Laurent Ferrier, which is known for its pure, understated designs that juxtapose with elaborately finished and decorated movements. In the Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral, the balance wheel oscillates with two inverted hairsprings that are mounted at the center. Once again, the double hairsprings increase the reliability of the regulating system by neutralizing the lateral displacement of the balance axis. At a frequency of 21,600vph, the entire regulating system is housed within a gorgeously finished tourbillon carriage. In addition, it rotates once every 60 seconds under a hand-decorated and hand-finished tourbillon bridge.

Montblanc Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique

Montblanc Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique features two cylindrical hairsprings, one inside the other, within an extra-large balance and tourbillon carriage.

In their perpetual quest for timekeeping precision, watchmakers never fail to turn up new inventions that surprise and delight. This is where watchmaking becomes an art, not just a by-product of physics and mathematics in time telling. The beauty of two balance wheels oscillating to a classical cadence, the dance of two hairsprings taking turns to breathe, the elegance of two tourbillons rotating in unison… Less is not always more, especially in high watchmaking.

This article was first published in WOW.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Watch: Golden Age

The Royal Oak is enshrined within the annals of horology as the timepiece that proved the efficacy of steel in a high-end luxury sports watch. In fact, the watch was only offered in steel in the initial years of its production, since the material was central to the Royal Oak’s very identity. References in gold were eventually introduced in 1977, and all three colours of gold alloys have since been used, depending on the specific watch model.

Yellow gold has, however, been absent from the Royal Oak collection for a while… until this year, that is. Audemars Piguet’s reintroduction of this color variant may seem strange, given its (arguable) status as the less fashion forward alternative to its pink and white cousins, but the manufacture’s penchant for going against the grain is well known – it was this very quality that spawned the Royal Oak, after all.audemar-piguet-royal-oak-caseback

The Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is one of the models to receive the line extension in yellow gold. The top surfaces of the bezel, lugs, and bracelet links are all vertically brushed, and give way to high-polish slanted surfaces before returning to vertically brushed flanks. This combination of different finishes cleverly highlights the facetted case and bracelet; the rounded octagonal bezel, a mainstay of the Royal Oak’s design, is especially prominent given the surface treatment. A cool blue dial bearing the manufacture’s signature Grande Tapisserie guilloché balances the warmth of the case and bracelet. Upon it, three sub-dials present the information from the perpetual calendar, while the fourth at six o’clock bears an astronomical moon phase display, which requires a correction just once every 125 years and 317 days. The week is indicated by a centrally mounted white hand, which points to the markings on the flange.

Powering the watch is Audemars Piguet’s Calibre 5134, a slightly larger version of the ultra-thin 2120 calibre aimed at providing a better fit for the 41mm case. At just 4.31mm thick, however, the new movement manages to keep the watch case’s height to a reasonable 9.5mm.

New Sun Xun Work for Audemars Piguet Art Commission

New Sun Xun Work for Audemars Piguet Art Commission

Audemars Piguet is delighted to announce details of major new artwork by Chinese artist Sun Xun for the second Audemars Piguet Art Commission. The installation, which will be unveiled at Art Basel Miami Beach 2016, will be one of Sun Xun’s most ambitious projects. The Chinese artist’s entire multidisciplinary arsenal will be mobilized in the large-scale immersive environment of the installation. In addition to 2D and 3D animation, the work will include traditional scroll paintings, ink drawings, various architectural and design elements, as well as sound. The installation will be presented to the public on the Miami Beach oceanfront, and will span a city block across from Collins Park.

Since 2006, Sun Xun has overseen a large and growing animation studio to realize his increasingly complex productions. ‘Time Spy’, a film animation included in the installation, will be created using classic Chinese illustration methods, in which every frame is a fully executed woodcut. The work has required the assistance of hundreds of Chinese art students who have been supporting Sun Xun in the production of each individually crafted woodcut. The 3D animation will be projected onto a screen, which the audience will view through custom glasses designed by the artist.

www.audemarspiguet.com/en/explore/art

7 Perfect Sports Chronograph Qualities

Dreams do come true sometimes and when envisioning the perfect sports chronograph, we found ourselves listing out the qualities it would have to possess. Rather than to keep it all to ourselves, we knew it would entertain those who share our passion for fine watches. We present the seven sports chronograph qualities in our checklist.

The Movement

An El Primero movement from 1969. Note the column wheel at 12 o’clock. The intermediate wheel that meshes with the chronograph wheel to drive it is in red

An El Primero movement from 1969. Note the column wheel at 12 o’clock. The intermediate wheel that meshes with the chronograph wheel to drive it is in red

The movement may lie hidden within the case, but it makes its presence felt in very palpable ways, from the functions available to the dial’s layout and the pushers’ tactility. Variations abound, but some options are definitely preferred over others here.

Switching and transmission

TAG Heuer Carrera Mikrogirder

TAG Heuer Carrera Mikrogirder

For a start, there’s the familiar stomping ground of a chronograph’s actuation and coupling to consider. Actuation refers to the “switch” that controls the chronograph. Cam actuation uses the eponymous component, which is fairly easy to produce and assemble, but has a drawback of uneven tactility – the initial force required to start the chronograph is noticeably higher than what’s needed to stop or reset it. A column wheel, in contrast, is more difficult to manufacture and finish than a cam, but promises a smoother pusher feel akin to what gun enthusiasts describe as “snapping a glass rod” when they talk about a trigger’s tactility.

The coupling system determines how the chronograph mechanism is powered by the base movement. In horizontal coupling, a wheel swings horizontally and engages with the base movement to allow the chronograph to draw energy from the gear train. This engagement can be precisely adjusted, since it’s a system of levers that can be visually inspected by the watchmaker. It has its disadvantages though. For one, the connection puts an additional load on the mainspring all of a sudden. This reduces the energy sent to the balance and hence its swing amplitude, which affects isochronism. The meshing of wheels also causes wear and tear, and leads to a chronograph seconds hand that’s prone to flutter and backlash when the chronograph is first started. The vertical clutch does not have these problems, as the chronograph mechanism is constantly engaged with the base movement, and started by frictional meshing of two discs pressing into each other vertically. It’s considered a better solution but does, however, demand more skill in regulation and adjustment.

Rolex’s Calibre 4130 with column wheel and vertical clutch

Rolex’s Calibre 4130 with column wheel and vertical clutch

Quick ticks

A movement’s beat frequency typically runs from 2.5Hz (18,000vph) to 5Hz (36,000vph) in modern calibres. All else being equal, a movement with a higher beat rate will be more accurate, as the balance gives more “readings” per second, which averages out any erroneous beat’s timing to a greater extent. This is why quartz movements, whose crystals vibrate at 32,768Hz, are far more accurate than mechanical ones. A chronograph’s resolution corresponds to its beat rate – a 4Hz movement can measure elapsed time down to 1/8th of a second, while a 5Hz one goes to 1/10th of a second. Taken to the extreme, this can yield mindboggling results like TAG Heuer’s Carrera Mikrogirder, which beats at 1,000Hz to give a resolution of 1/2000 second.

Further complications

Flyback and rattrapante/split-seconds chronographs are variants on the simple chronograph. The flyback function allows a chronograph’s reset pusher to be actuated while the chronograph is running. This makes all its hands “fly back” to zero and continue running without lag – useful for timing consecutive events such as the legs in a plane’s navigation pattern. The rattrapante chronograph has two chronograph seconds hands. Actuating a third pusher stops one of them to allow an intermediate timing to be read, and pushing it again snaps it forward to catch up with the other instantaneously.

The verdict

Parmigiani Fleurier’s PF361 calibre in the Tonda Chronor Anniversaire

Parmigiani Fleurier’s PF361 calibre in the Tonda Chronor Anniversaire

The ideal movement for the ultimate sports chronograph should have the following: a column wheel for smooth and confident actuation, vertical coupling for greater accuracy and a precise start to the chronograph second hand, high frequency that’s both more accurate and capable of measuring smaller units of time, and split-seconds functionality to time simultaneous events that will arguably see more use than a flyback function.

Note the two column wheels

Note the two column wheels

Parmigiani Fleurier’s PF361 has all of the above, but is limited to just 50 pieces, and is constructed in gold. Relax the requirements, however, and more options present themselves. There’s Zenith’s El Primero, which remains the only high-beat chronograph movement in mass production, but it uses horizontal coupling and is a simple chronograph. Rolex’s Calibre 4130 is both column wheel-actuated and vertically coupled, but beats at 4Hz and lacks a split-second functionality. The list goes on (both Rolex and Zenith movements are detailed here).

Making A Case

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver chronograph in steel, with ceramic pushers

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver chronograph in steel, with ceramic pushers

A great movement is nothing without a case to protect it – and everything else – from the ravages of the outside environment. Of course, details such as water resistance and a scratchproof sapphire crystal are non-negotiable. However, the choice of material and production technique for the case are less clear cut given the permutations of the available options.

Metals and coatings

Bulgari Octo Velocissimo Ultranero

Bulgari Octo Velocissimo Ultranero

By eliminating precious metals like gold and platinum, as well as exotic ones such as tantalum, only stainless steel and titanium are left when it comes to metallic cases. Both are available in several variants. Grade 2 titanium, for instance, is close to steel in terms of its hardness, but it is far less dense, and therefore much lighter. Grade 5 titanium, on the other hand, is significantly harder than its Grade 2 sibling and just as light, but lacks the latter’s unique drab grey appearance.

Both steel and titanium cases can be toughened with a diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating applied via physical vapour deposition (PVD), which significantly increases their surfaces’ hardness. This is commonly done nowadays for both practical and aesthetic reasons, and its only drawback is perhaps the hassle and costs of repairing a chipped/damaged coating – the original layer of DLC must be completely stripped before the case is polished and a new coating is reapplied.

Exotic stuff

Instead of steel or titanium, ceramics and carbon can also be used to make a watch’s case. These materials vary in hardness and density, but generally exhibit a high level of toughness with a touch of the exotic. Ceramics are fairly straightforward – compact the powdered formulation in a mould, bake it under high pressure to sinter it into a solid, then machine this mass to create a finished case. Carbon, on the other hand, can be forged, baked, or vacuum-moulded together, often with other “ingredients” such as quartz fibres to enhance its properties. The last step is still machining though, to achieve the desired shape and contours.

New production techniques

Panerai PAM578

Panerai PAM578

The available materials described above are fairly well understood, and new ones being introduced tend to be variations on existing themes, with marginal improvements over current offerings. New production techniques, however, sometimes create paradigm shifts. Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), for example, was introduced by Panerai earlier this year in its Lo Scienziato Luminor 1950 Tourbillon GMT Titanio PAM578. The technique is already in use elsewhere, including the aerospace and medical industries, and works just like 3D printing – a solid component is “built” from a metal powder using a laser, which sinters the powder layer by layer. Unlike subtractive production, which involves removing material by cutting/milling out unwanted parts, DMLS is additive, and capable of producing solid components with hollow interiors. As the PAM578 shows, a hollow titanium case can be made with DMLS, with no loss of structural strength or water resistance thanks to the manipulation of the internal space’s shape.

The verdict

Oris Williams Chronograph Carbon Fibre Extreme

Oris Williams Chronograph Carbon Fibre Extreme

The clear winner here is the latest and greatest technology available – DMLS. Titanium, especially its Grade 5 variant, is already light and hardy enough to stand up to general abuse. With DMLS, further weight savings can be had for an extremely comfortable chronograph with no loss of strength.

Shock Proof

The MRG-G1000HT uses Alpha Gel for shock protection, like other metal-clad G-Shocks

The MRG-G1000HT uses Alpha Gel for shock protection, like other metal-clad G-Shocks

Shock protection such as Kif or Incabloc is ubiquitous in modern calibres, and serves to protect the delicate balance staff, which must be thin to reduce friction, yet support the weight of the entire balance wheel. Why stop there, though? The entire movement can be protected, and there are various ways to do this.

Suspended animation

A movement can only receive shocks through its case, so isolating the two from each other is a very viable method. Richard Mille does this in the RM 27-01 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal by suspending the movement with four braided steel cables, each just 0.35mm thick, and using a system of pulleys and tensioners to adjust their tautness. The brand claims that the watch has a shock resistance of 5,000G – enough to survive a tennis match on Nadal’s wrist.

Instead of minimising the contact between the movement and its case, Franck Muller took things to the other extreme with the Vanguard Backswing, its golf-themed timepiece. The watch has a relatively small movement just 26.2mm across, which is fitted into a case measuring 44mm by 53.7mm; a wide spacer ring containing silicone inserts takes up the rest of the inner case and cushions the movement from shocks and vibrations.

Steel cables suspend the movement inside the Richard Mille RM 27-01

Steel cables suspend the movement inside the Richard Mille RM 27-01

Gelled up

When Casio started developing G-Shocks with metal cases, it had to re-examine the issue of shock resistance, since the protection afforded by the original shock absorbing resin case was no longer available. The solution to circumvent this has evolved over the years, and the latest involves the judicious application of a high-tech material called Alpha Gel. This silicone-based substance is sourced from Taica Corporation, a Japanese R&D firm, and contains extraordinary shock absorption properties – a layer of Alpha Gel barely an inch thick can cushion a one-metre fall of an egg and keep it from breaking. By designing the movement and case to be in contact only at specific points, and “reinforcing” these points with Alpha Gel, the movement is effectively protected against shocks and vibrations.

The verdict

Suspending a movement with tensioned cables or floating it within a wide spacer ring are both effective solutions to creating a shock resistant watch. The main drawback, however, is the volume of space needed within the case to implement them. Alpha Gel thus emerges as a preferred option as it requires less internal space, which allows a larger movement to be used.

Surviving Magnetism

The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph has a soft iron inner cage

The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph has a soft iron inner cage

Magnetism is the bane of any mechanical watch. A magnetic field wreaks havoc on a movement’s accuracy by affecting the swing of the balance wheel, and continues to do so even after it’s gone should the movement become magnetised. From obvious sources like MRIs, to insidious ones like a handbag’s magnetic clasp, this invisible force permeates our daily life. Naturally, the perfect sports chronograph must guard against it.

There are two ways to render magnetism moot. The first is to shield the movement using a soft iron inner case, like what IWC does with some of its pilot’s watches. Such an inner case protects the movement by redirecting the magnetic field through itself, while remaining non-magnetised due to its soft iron construction. The advantage of this method is its simplicity and low cost – crafting an inner case with this common material is easy. In a sufficiently strong magnetic field, however, the soft iron inner case will be magnetically saturated, and any “residual” magnetic field will still pass through it to affect the movement. In addition, this principle requires a specific design – a sealed inner case that encases the movement – to work well. The dial and case back must thus have no cut outs lest the magnetic field affects the movement through these holes.

Rolex’s Syloxi hairspring

Rolex’s Syloxi hairspring

The alternative to shielding a movement is making its regulating organs amagnetic. The hairspring, pallet fork, and escape wheel can all be made in silicon, which is nonmagnetic, thanks to improved production techniques like DRIE (Deep Reactive Ion Etching). As a silicon hairspring is already cut specifically to promote concentric breathing, the balance assembly is free sprung and not regulated. This necessitates a variable inertia balance wheel with weighted screws on its rim for regulation, so the balance wheel is not rendered in silicon.

The verdict

Silicon pallet and escape wheel visible through the dial cut-out

Silicon pallet and escape wheel visible through the dial cut-out

In most environments, a soft iron inner cage is more than sufficient protection for a watch movement; the design’s longevity attests to its effectiveness. Why stop there, though? Silicon parts aren’t just impervious to magnetism, but also require little to no lubrication while weighing less than their traditional counterparts. The no holds barred option will have to be silicon.

Visibility In Darkness

Barring electronic solutions like LED lights, there are two main methods to making a watch visible in the dark. The first involves Super-LumiNova or other such luminous paints, which glow in the dark after being “charged” with light, whether natural or artificial, ambient or directed. Luminous paint can be applied in any pattern and, with some tweaks in production, anywhere on a watch down to its case and lugs. It can also be recharged an unlimited number of times, and a sufficiently thick layer of it will glow in the dark for hours before fading off.

Luminox Navy SEAL Colormark Nova

Luminox Navy SEAL Colormark Nova

The alternative to Super-LumiNova is self-powered light sources driven by the radioactive decay of tritium gas. To achieve this, tritium is sealed within a glass tube whose inner surface has been coated with a fluorescent material – the (very low levels of) radiation from tritium excites this coating, which glows and gives off light. This glow is constant, and lasts through the night. Tritium, however, has a half-life of just over 12 years – after this period, only half of the tritium gas in each glass tube remains radioactive, which means that the brightness has also been halved accordingly.

The verdict

Why make a choice between the two? As Luminox has demonstrated with its Colormark Nova series of watches – the two technologies are not mutually exclusive. It makes sense to use tritium-powered light for essential indicators such as the hands and hour indexes, which can then be complemented with Super-LumiNova on other indicators, such as bezel markings.

The Bezel

The right bezel can greatly enhance a watch’s functionality; the challenge lies in narrowing down the available options. Should it rotate? If it should, in one or both directions? What type of markings should it have?

Longines Pulsometer Chronograph

Longines Pulsometer Chronograph

The Options

Rotating bezels tend to come in two variations. A diver’s rotating bezel only turns counter-clockwise, and comes with count up markings to allow its user to measure elapsed time by aligning the marker at 12 o’clock with the minute hand. Other timepieces, such as pilot’s watches, tend to have bi-directional rotating bezels containing either count up markings that function similarly, or count down markings that function as reminders for time sensitive events.

The alternative to these are bezels with specific markings that must be used together with the chronograph seconds hand. These are usually fixed bezels, although manufactures including TAG Heuer have made rotating ones in the past.

The most common one is the tachymeter, which allows the wearer to read off its markings for the hourly rate of an activity, by measuring the time it takes to complete one unit of it. Starting the chronograph and stopping it after a car has travelled for one kilometre, for instance, will give the car’s speed in kilometres per hour – the wearer just needs to see where the chronograph seconds hand is pointing to on the tachymeter. The unit does not matter; one can arrive at the number of cookies a person eats in an hour by measuring the time he takes to finish one cookie.

Tudor Fastrider Black Shield with tachymeter on bezel

Tudor Fastrider Black Shield with tachymeter on bezel

The pulsometer and telemeter function similarly to the tachymeter, but are more specialised. A pulsometer gives the heart rate of a person (in beats per minute) by using the chronograph to measure the time it takes for a certain number of heart beats, usually 10 or 30. The telemeter, on the other hand, indicates the distance to an event, such as a lightning strike. The chronograph is started when the event is seen, and stopped when it is heard. By assuming that light travels instantly, while sound’s average speed through air is around 300m per second, a calibrated scale – the telemeter – can be made, and the distance to the event read off it.

The verdict

The tachymeter is an easy pick here for being the “Goldilocks” bezel – it is neither too general to make proper use of the chronograph, like the diver’s bezel, nor too specialised, like the pulsometer. The flexibility inherent to the tachymeter is also an important advantage – any event can be timed and instantly converted to give an hourly rate.

The Strap

The attention that’s lavished onto a timepiece, down to the last screw, usually leaves little love for its strap. Yet, as the interface between watch and wrist, the strap performs a vital function, and can make or break the wearer’s experience. Ideally, the perfect sports chronograph will be paired with a strap that’s comfortable, robust, and also convenient to wear and adjust. Naturally, these requirements preclude a dressy leather strap, but what of the other options out there?

Rolex’s Glidelock fine adjustment system

Rolex’s Glidelock fine adjustment system

The Options

The evergreen choice for a sporty watch, chronograph or not, is a metal bracelet. Whether rendered in steel or titanium, a well-made bracelet stands up to abuse well, and maintains a presence on the wrist with some reassuring heft. Many bracelets also feature fine adjustment clasps, which allows the bracelet to be sized even more precisely for a wrist after adding or removing links. Since it doesn’t require a tool, such a clasp also allows the bracelet’s fit to be changed out in the field, which is perfect for impromptu adjustments when wearing the watch over clothes like a windbreaker, for instance.

The rubber strap is another popular option, thanks to its lightweight, waterproof, and hypoallergenic (when made with synthetic materials) properties. Out of all the available choices, Rolex’s Oysterflex probably takes the cake – it has an internal skeleton of nickel titanium that makes it unbreakable, yet maintains the supple feel of a rubber strap with all the advantages described.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 40 with Oysterflex bracelet

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 40 with Oysterflex bracelet

A third possible alternative is the NATO strap. Usually woven from nylon or an equivalent material, it has a section with two layers, and is fastened to the wrist via a series of rings and a regular ardillon buckle. Compared to the bracelet and rubber strap, it has two benefits – it can be swapped without any tools, and it keeps the watch on the wrist even if a springbar were to fail.

The verdict

Easily replaceable and capable of keeping a watch attached should a springbar breaks, the NATO strap is a clear winner. Brands like Tudor offers some of their timepieces with NATO straps, while myriad aftermarket options are also available. The icing on the cake is its cost – NATO straps, even premium ones, are relatively cheap.

Magnificent Seven

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Cristiano Ronaldo with NATO strap

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Cristiano Ronaldo with NATO strap

To build the ultimate chronograph, one only needs to combine all the elements discussed above…right? Well, not exactly. If it isn’t obvious enough by now, the perfect chronograph doesn’t exist, not least because every wearer’s needs are different. The exercise that was done on the preceding pages was useful for revealing the breadth of available options to a manufacture, but choosing one over another for any category will almost certainly entail trade-offs, even if they weren’t explicitly mentioned. Making a strong, lightweight, hypoallergenic titanium case using DMLS is certainly an attractive proposition, but the process is slow, and far more costly than milling a similar case from a block of the same metal. In the same vein of things, a rattrapante chronograph with two column wheels and a vertical clutch may be the bee’s knees, but the production, assembly, regulation, and servicing of such a calibre will cost its owner, to say the least. Price and value are also important factors to consider for a watch buyer, which explains the longevity of the workhorse Valjoux 7750 – it’s not perfect, but it works, and it’s affordable. Ultimately, options are always a good thing, and the luxury of choice never hurts.

This article was first published in WOW.

Luxuo World of Watches Rolex Daytona closeup 2016

10 Important Collector Watch Calibres

Car nuts rattle off engine codes as a special lingo that authenticates membership within the tribe; trump card hoarding schoolboys of an earlier age would memorise service designations of combat jets, as well as such vital stats as engine thrust and capacity armament. Watch appreciation too, has a nerdier aspect that finds parallel obsession with calibres, mainly addressed by their number codes: 2824, 2892, 7750, 4130, etc.

Calibres, or movements, are the hearts of mechanical watches and the very engines that divide the continuum of existence into consistent intervals that we might know when it is that we are meeting for lunch.

As has been widely reported, though there are myriad brands in the watchmaking business, at least where the Swiss are concerned, most of the movements come from a single source: ETA. A movement maker within the Swatch Group, ETA supplies movements that can be found in around seven out of 10 Swiss watches, never mind what brand it says on the dial. Of these, the 2824 and 7750 come to mind as being among the most ubiquitous. The self-winding 2824 found in three-hand watches, and the 7750 in automatic chronographs, pretty much cover the field. We will not be including these two movements in our list, as they belong more properly to “movements you already know about”. Rather, our list includes movements that are noteworthy, from a collector’s standpoint for their relevance to the brand or particular collection; or that they represent a milestone in the ever-progressing evolution of the mechanical movement. As a whole, this ensemble was also chosen as a broad survey of watchmaking, old and new.

Patek Philippe Calibre 240Patek-Philippe-Calibre-240

Sitting at the pinnacle of fine Swiss watchmaking, Patek Philippe is renowned for its elegant high complication watches. Such a feat would not be possible were it not for movements like the 240, a trusty, self-winding ultra-thin movement designed to take on more modules for ever more complications, while still looking svelte, and gala-ready. Unlike most self-winding movements sporting a full-sized rotor, the 240’s is a micro-rotor, not stacked on top of the movement (thus adding height) but recessed on the periphery, hence contributing towards a slim profile. At the same time, it does not obscure the beauty of the wonderfully decorated 240 when viewed through a crystal case back, though the rotor too is a thing of beauty in itself, a solid piece of 22K gold.Patek-Philippe-Calibre-240-automatic-movement

Dating from 1977, the 240 has been updated over the years and today features the Spiromax (silicon) balance spring, which offers precision in operation and manufacture as well as resistance against magnetic fields. At its simplest, the 240 drives several of Patek Philippe’s time-only watches such as the Ref. 7200R ladies’ Calatrava.

That said, the 240 was designed as a base calibre to accommodate complication modules while retaining a slim profile. In Patek Philippe’s present catalogue, there exists no less than seven variants with an impressive array of complications, from the 240 HU with world time and day/night indication, 240 PS C with date hand and small seconds, up to the 240 Q offering moon phase and perpetual calendar! With the latter, the number of components had grown by more than 70 per cent, to 275 parts, and movement height increased from 1.61mm to 3.88mm. Because of the added energy required to drive these added components, power reserve had also dipped, but remains at an agreeable minimum of 38 hours.

Specifications

Automatic movement beating at 3Hz, with silicon hairspring and 48-hour power reserve

Dimensions: 27.5mm x 2.53mm

Number of parts: 161

Rolex Calibre 4130Rolex-Calibre-4130

Even in the relatively dignified realm of luxury watch collecting (high expense and a Britannica’s worth of technical history and cult lore promotes sobriety), there are fanboys, and the objects of their fevered affection falls upon Rolexes, not a few. Lusted after at a higher pitch even in this company, is the Cosmograph Daytona, and this was recently demonstrated once again at BaselWorld 2016 when the announcement of a new steel cased Daytona with white dial and black ceramic bezel sent the watch press and enthusiast community into another fit of ecstasy.

Why is this? Some credit surely accrues to the movement behind the silvered/lacquered face: the Calibre 4130.Rolex-Calibre-4130-Daytona-Movement

The Daytona wasn’t always mated to the 4130. Introduced in 1963, it was driven by a hand-wound Valjoux movement till 1988 when it was cased with Zenith’s self-winding El Primero movement (also featured on our list). However, Rolex famously detuned the movement from its native 5Hz to a more conventional 4Hz, while swapping out more than 50 per cent of the El Primero’s original parts. Major surgery; but still, not a Rolex movement. That would come in 2000, in the shape of the 4130, ticking all the right boxes: self-winding, column wheel control, vertical clutch for smooth starts, and Parachrom hairspring designed to perform well against magnetism, temperature variation, and shock. Rolex even reduced the number of parts enough that it could fit in a longer mainspring to achieve an impressive 72 hours of power reserve. It is a chronometer too, naturally.

Specifications

Automatic chronograph movement beating at 4Hz, with 72-hour power reserve

Dimensions: 30.5mm x 6.5mm

Number of parts: 201

Audemars Piguet Calibre 3120Audemars-Piguet-Calibre-3120

Often banded together with Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin as the “Big Three” of high watchmaking, Audemars Piguet is phenomenally plugged into pop culture while remaining firmly anchored in high watchmaking orthodoxy. Like no other, its long resume of firsts in watchmaking innovations and high complications sits very comfortably with associations on the funkier end of the cultural spectrum, being a perennial favourite of sports and rap royalty. Part of this comes from dynamic thinking, like in 1972, when Audemars Piguet practically created a new genre of the luxury sport watch when it introduced a steel watch, finished to the standard and priced accordingly, as one of gold: thus the Royal Oak (RO) was born. Together with the burlier Royal Oak Offshore (ROO) chronograph that came on the scene in 1993, and in an almost unlimited arsenal of limited editions in various colour combinations, the RO and ROO are wont to steal the thunder from the company’s arguably more accomplished collections. The movement that unites the handsome duo, is the self-winding Calibre 3120.Audemars-Piguet-Calibre-3120-movement

Like Patek Philippe’s 240 described above, the 3120 is also a base calibre meant to accommodate more modules for additional complications. What’s different is that the 3120 was not made thin, but robust, including a balance bridge that anchors the oscillator securely on two points, wound by a full-sized solid gold rotor. Its thickness is suited for the masculine, sporty RO and hulkier ROO. In the latter’s case, because the chronograph is a module stacked above the 3120, the date display looks recessed – a quirk that has done nothing to dampen its popularity.

Specifications

Automatic movement beating at 3Hz, with
60-hour power reserve

Dimensions: 26.6mm x 4.26mm

Number of parts: 280

Zenith El Primero Calibre 400Zenith-Primero-Calibre-400

A rock star among movements in more ways than one, the El Primero was unleashed to the world in a relatively low-key press conference in January 1969, which belied its ground-breaking specs. Not only was it the world’s first automatic integrated chronograph movement, it also featured an escapement that blitzed along at an unprecedented 5Hz which offered better chronometry and the ability to measure elapsed times to an accuracy of a tenth of a second. An engineering coup; but Oscar Wilde hit the nail on its head when he complained that people knew the price of everything and the value of nothing. In 1975, Zenith’s then-American owners decided to focus on making quartz watches and ordered the El Primero’s production equipment dismantled and sold as scrap. Instead of complying, an intrepid employee spirited away the El Primero’s technical plans and tooling bit by bit after work. Thanks to Charles Vermot, the El Primero resurfaced in 1984.Zenith-Primero-Calibre-400-movement

Today, the El Primero remains among the fastest beating mechanical movements at 5Hz, in the company of a few brands that have caught up with high beat movements in recent years. Though it started life as a chronograph, El Primero can now also be found in Zenith’s time-only watches such as the Synopsis, which drops the chronograph function but features an updated escapement with silicon wheel and lever visible through an opening on the dial. It has also made its way into the watches of Zenith’s sister brands within the LVMH group: TAG Heuer, Hublot, and Bulgari.

Specifications

Automatic chronograph movement beating at 5Hz,
with 50-hour power reserve

Dimensions: 30mm x 6.6mm

Number of parts: 278

A. Lange & Söhne Calibre L951.6A-Lange-Sohne-Calibre-L951-6

The beautiful images and videos about Lange’s watches and movements belie a much more dramatic history that the Lange manufacture shares with its home city, Dresden. Towards the end of World War II, the city was obliterated by aerial bombing. Lange too ceased to exist after it was nationalised together with other companies into a watchmaking consortium to serve the needs of the Eastern Bloc. But both Dresden and Lange have since regained their place in the world with the end of the Cold War. The former, rebuilt brick by brick – from original rubble, in the case of the magnificent Frauenkirche church; while Lange has shrugged off the mass market tickers it made in the Communist era to return to the high watchmaking of its roots. It is history that informs the ethic at Lange, and the difference this makes is amply demonstrated in Lange’s interpretation of the ubiquitous wristwatch chronograph: the Datograph Up/Down.

While the field is largely divided between sports chronographs made for everyday practicality and ruggedness or daintier dress chronographs meant to add a dash of dynamism to a formal getup, the Datograph is a little different in approach. On the outside, it is almost austere in its devotion to function, driven by visual clarity and balance without anything superfluous. Yet, turn the watch over and the Calibre L951.6 astounds with baroque richness. Lange doesn’t seem to care about ease of manufacture, since the L951.6 has got more parts than many perpetual calendars, all finished with stoic patience and consummate skill. At the same time, it brims with technical innovation: unlike most chronographs where the elapsed minutes is a dragging hand, that on the Datograph jumps from marker to marker, making for much clearer readings. It’s just one of a series of instances where Lange spares no effort in creating innovative solutions to easily overlooked issues, while remaining well within the old school realm of mechanical craft. Moreover, not only is the L951.6 an in-house movement, Lange is also in the even smaller class of companies that make their own hairsprings. No shortcuts.

Specifications

Hand-wound chronograph movement beating at 2.5Hz, with big date and power reserve indicator (60 hours)

Dimensions: 30.6mm x 7.9mm

Number of parts: 451

Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 854/1Jaeger-LeCoultre-Calibre-854-1

In an industry where most watch brands source their movements from other companies, Jaeger-LeCoultre is the technical superpower with more movements than we’ve got fingers to count them (more than a thousand different calibres, in its 180-year history, with hundreds of patents shepherding the evolution of mechanical watchmaking), and distinguished names on its client list include the likes of Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, and Cartier. Jaeger-LeCoultre today boasts a most expansive catalogue that showcases its deep expertise in diverse disciplines, covering high complications, artisan craft, and gem-setting. Of these, its most iconic watch is the Reverso; and even here, this venerable model exists in countless iterations, from petite quartz models for ladies, to high complication models with perpetual calendars, triple dial faces, repeaters, and multi-axis tourbillons spinning in cage within cage. Do we pick the movement one ought to know by drawing movement numbers out of a fish bowl? No. If we have to choose, we’d pick the Calibre 854/1.Jaeger-LeCoultre-Calibre-854-1-movement

The original Reverso was created in 1931 in answer to complaints by British army officers stationed in India over having their precious wristwatches smashed during energetic games of polo. With the Reverso, simply flipping the case over protected the fragile crystal and watch dial, while the metal case back that now faced the outside could be engraved with unit insignias or loving words. Outside the polo experience however, we think it more practical to have a second dial in place of bare steel, tracking a second time zone.

Enter the Reverso Duoface of 1994, refreshed in recent years with an ultra-thin and special edition blue dial versions, displaying time on each of its two sides. The GMT function is among the most practical of complications in this global village century, and while every other GMT watch in the business shows home time either via pointer, or window on one dial, the Reverso is alone in spacing this out over two. It may not be as efficient as checking dual time zones in a single glance, but the clarity can’t be beat. And because the Duoface sports contrasting dials, e.g. silvered dial and black on the reverse, it is essentially two watches in one, able to match near a complete range of dress codes and occasions. All this is made possible with the hand-wound 854/1, a single movement driving two time displays. Time can be set normally by pulling the crown, or when passing time zones, the hour hand in the second display can be advanced in one-hour jumps by pushing the flat pusher on the case side.

Specifications

Hand-wound movement beating at 3Hz, with dual time zone and 45-hour power reserve

Dimensions: 3.8mm thick

Number of parts: 180

Montblanc Minerva Calibre 16.29Montblanc-Minerva-Calibre-16-29

There is a logic to progress that is unflinching, almost ruthless in its efficiency. Making much more of something in shorter time, for much less, is an advantage that is very hard to pass up. For this reason, mass produced commodity is stamping out the niceties of artisan production everywhere. Yet, thanks to companies like Montblanc, industrial prowess is sometimes lent towards preserving precious pockets of artisan production so that future generations may yet wonder and actually acquire heritage objects of rare beauty.

Montblanc churns out timepieces by the tens of thousands a year from its facility at Le Locle. It also has a manufacture at Villeret (formerly Minerva SA before it was acquired by the Richemont Group in 2006 and turned over to Montblanc) that produces only around a couple of hundred timepieces a year – that’s about as many as possible, doing things the old way, everything in-house, with classical tools and machines, largely by hand!Montblanc-Minerva-Calibre-16-29-movement

Minerva was best known for its chronographs, and the Calibre 16.29 that is used in the Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter is a gorgeous sample of classical watchmaking. Based on a movement made by Minerva in the 1930s, the 16.29 is huge, filling up the 44mm watch case. There’s a column wheel, lateral coupling instead of vertical clutch favoured by its modern brethren, and the huge balance with weight screws oscillates at a stately 2.5Hz for maximum visual drama. But classical architecture is not the 16.29’s sole merit: lush finishing aside, the serpentine profile of its bridges and levers, including the signature devil’s tail of the chronograph hammer, makes many other chronograph movements
look ungainly in comparison.

Specifications

Hand-wound chronograph movement beating at 2.5Hz, with 50-hour power reserve

Dimensions: 38.4mm diameter

Number of parts: 252

Chopard L.U.C Calibre 98.01-LChopard-LUC-Calibre-98-01-L

Some companies just have the knack for juggling diverse competencies. Among these, Chopard could have been content with the knowledge that its haute joaillerie collections are no strangers to red carpet galas, while its Happy Diamonds watches are extremely popular as everyday luxury. But the latter can no more lay claim to “authentic watchmaking” than could the Swatch watch, though both are phenomenal success stories for their respective companies. To address this, Chopard co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele established the Chopard Manufacture in 1996 to create “serious” watches fitted with movements designed and manufactured in-house. Since then, Chopard Manufacture has kept the steady pace of a long-distance runner, creating no less than 10 base movements with some 60 variations, cased in beautifully finished, classically styled watches of varying degrees of complication under the L.U.C label, the initials of the original company founder.Chopard-LUC-Calibre-98-01-L-movement

Of these, Chopard’s 8Hz is a dazzler for sure; but for us, the L.U.C Calibre 98.01-L beating inside Chopard’s Quattro watch is more in character with the company’s bold gambit and tireless consistency. Quattro is Italian for “four”. In the 98.01-L, which was introduced in 2005, that refers to the movement’s four mainspring barrels coupled in two stacks – a world’s first! According to Chopard, each mainspring is 47cm long, and it’s no small feat to squeeze four of them into a 28mm movement that is just 3.7mm thick. As such, the watch boasts a power reserve of nine days when fully wound. What is noteworthy is that this is achieved despite having the movement beat at a relatively quick (and energy-hungry) 4Hz. Moreover, while accuracy can suffer in watches with long power reserves as the energy wanes, the 98.01-L manages to be a COSC-certified chronometer. Add to that, quality and provenance validated by the Geneva Seal, and no room is left to doubt Chopard’s intent and capability in authentic watchmaking.

Specifications

Hand-wound movement beating at 4Hz, with four barrels and nine-day power reserve

Dimensions: 28mm x 3.7mm

Number of parts: 223

Cartier Calibre 1904 MCCartier-Calibre-1904-MC

Cartier has an enviable history of supplying the most exquisite jewellery to royalty, and commercial success as a luxury purveyor to, well, the whole world. Its timepieces, too, have staked their place in watchmaking history. The Santos created in 1904 is one of the earliest true wristwatches (as opposed to pocket watches bound to the wrist by leather straps) for men, originally made for Alberto Santos-Dumont who flew the first true (powered) aeroplanes.

Still, for too long, Cartier hadn’t gotten the respect it deserved, not least for its Parisian (not Swiss) address, and that its most dazzling timepieces and complication creations, particularly those produced between 1998 and 2008 under the “Collection Privée Cartier Paris” (CPCP) label, used movements from companies like Jaeger-LeCoultre and Piaget, though Cartier did the finishing.Cartier-Calibre-1904-MC-movement

The sniggers stopped when Cartier introduced its first Geneva Seal watch in 2008, the Ballon Bleu Flying Tourbillon. However, it is a more mundane watch that is the real hitter into the heartland of Swiss watchmaking: the Calibre de Cartier, launched two years later. Though a humble three-hand with date, it is as pivotal as first love, containing Cartier’s first self-winding manufacture movement, designed, developed and made in-house: the Calibre 1904 MC.

Cartier now has a base movement from which to venture into higher complications, while broadening its reach tremendously, in bringing to market reasonably priced watches with authentic manufacture movements. To this end, the 1904 MC was engineered for reliability, ease of service, and efficient mass production. Performance also factored prominently in its design – though the 1904 MC boasts two mainspring barrels, they are arrayed in parallel, achieving only a modest power reserve of 48 hours, but energy delivery is made more consistent over a broad spread of its state of wind, contributing significantly to accuracy. The 1904 MC is also used in 2014’s Calibre de Cartier Diver, which meets the ISO 6425 international quality standard for diver’s watches.

Specifications

Automatic movement beating at 4Hz, with twin barrels and 48-hour power reserve

Dimensions: 25.6mm x 4mm

Number of parts: 186

IWC Calibre 52010IWC-Calibre-52010

Even among storied brands, IWC stands out for how deeply it has written itself into watchmaking history. Timepieces for air force pilots just as air power was gaining traction among military planners, watches for scuba diving, timepieces for engineers as we turned a corner into the modern technological age – individuals engaged in pushing boundaries on land, in the air, and under the sea need wristwatches and IWC has enriched its own heritage and know-how by making purpose-built wristwatches for them. For a dressier pick, the Portugieser is among the most iconic and best loved. The original introduced in the 1930s was borne from the need for a marine-chronometer grade wristwatch, then only possible by casing a large, high-quality pocket watch movement in a wristwatch case.IWC-Calibre-52010-movement

This collection has been characterised by large cases and IWC’s largest movements ever since, including 2000’s Portugieser Automatic with a 50000-calibre movement that boasts seven-day power reserve and a highly efficient Pellaton winding system. The calibre 52010 featured here is a 2015 update with further technical enhancement and better finishing. Ceramic parts have been added to the winding system, making it virtually impervious to wear and tear; the faster balance now beats at 4Hz for better accuracy. Moreover, 52010 has two mainspring barrels to supply the same seven days’ power reserve with greater consistency for improved chronometry. IWC also partly skeletonised the rotor so the improved finishing of the movement is more readily evident.

Specifications

Automatic movement beating at 4Hz, with two barrels and power reserve indicator (seven days)

Dimensions: 37.8mm x 7.5mm

Number of parts: 257

This article was first published in WOW.

In Pictures: Many Facets of Iroshini Chua

Dr Iroshini Chua wears many hats as a mother of two, family physician, travel columnist, high society fixture, party planner, accomplished home chef, charity crusader, style influencer, among others. The multi-hyphenate is also well known for her good taste in accessories and her love of gemstones. She has designed jewelry as a hobby business in the past, and is planning to launch her own brand in the near future. We asked her to share a few secrets on how she balances style and comfort so effortlessly.

Hostess With The Mostest

Special thanks to The St. Regis Singapore for hosting the photo shoot at its lavishly appointed Presidential Suite, which features a master bedroom, living room, dining room, executive office, gym, and terrace. Displayed on the premises are prized artworks by masters including Marc Chagall, Mark Tobey, Le Pho, and Sam Francis. Hand-painted silk panels adorn the walls, while custom-made Czech crystal chandeliers cast a warm glow. Other highlights include a luxurious bedroom and a beautiful master bathroom with its own Jacuzzi and separate jet massage shower with marble steam chamber.

Special thanks to The St. Regis Singapore for hosting the photo shoot at its lavishly appointed Presidential Suite, which features a master bedroom, living room, dining room, executive office, gym, and terrace. Displayed on the premises are prized artworks by masters including Marc Chagall, Mark Tobey, Le Pho, and Sam Francis. Hand-painted silk panels adorn the walls, while custom-made Czech crystal chandeliers cast a warm glow. Other highlights include a luxurious bedroom and a beautiful master bathroom with its own Jacuzzi and separate jet massage shower with marble steam chamber.

Van Cleef & Arpels Magic Alhambra one-motif white gold and diamond long necklace, Perlée white gold hoop earrings, Cadenas white gold and diamond watch; Emporio Armani embroidered cotton-mix pleated dress.

Career Woman

Christian Dior La Mini D de Dior 19mm watch, Rose Dior Pré Catalan pink gold and amethyst necklace, earrings, and ring, polyamide-mix pleated dress.

Christian Dior La Mini D de Dior 19mm watch, Rose Dior Pré Catalan pink gold and amethyst necklace, earrings, and ring, polyamide-mix pleated dress.

“I like wearing timeless and feminine clothes and jewelry that can easily take me from the clinic to an evening engagement.”

Mummy Duty

The Presidential Suite is part of The St. Regis Singapore’s Suite Society programme, which also features the Manhattan, Metropolitan, Knickerbocker, Astoria, and King Cole Suites. Guests who book them are offered exclusive access to exceptional dining and lifestyle privileges.

The Presidential Suite is part of The St. Regis Singapore’s Suite Society program, which also features the Manhattan, Metropolitan, Knickerbocker, Astoria, and King Cole Suites. Guests who book them are offered exclusive access to exceptional dining and lifestyle privileges.

Audemars Piguet Ladies Royal Oak Self-winding 37mm diamond watch; Chanel pearl sautoir; Iroshini’s own pearl and diamond ring; Christian Dior printed cotton-knit top and viscose-mix skirt.

Jet-setter

Available across all St. Regis properties around the world, the St. Regis Aficionado programme provides guests with exceptional bespoke experiences, such as private access to the world’s premier lifestyle collections and auctions, tasting rare private vintages, and getting a custom-tailored garment made.

Available across all St. Regis properties around the world, the St. Regis Aficionado programme provides guests with exceptional bespoke experiences, such as private access to the world’s premier lifestyle collections and auctions, tasting rare private vintages, and getting a custom-tailored garment made.

Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Small Model 33mm watch with diamonds; Iroshini’s own yellow sapphire ring, blue sapphire earrings; Ondademar silk kimono, cotton camisole, woven hat, heels.

“I love to discover new destinations, and I holiday at resorts about eight to 10 times a year. I don’t believe one should eschew style for comfort or vice-versa. This resort outfit is my perfect solution as it is comfortable for lounging by the pool as well as a chic ensemble for the restaurants. Matching it well is this Vacheron Constantin watch, which is so versatile and offers a pop of color.”

Lady Of Leisure

Chopard L’Heure du Diamant collection white gold necklace with 4.85 carats of diamonds, High Jewellery white gold ring with 13.6 carats of yellow diamonds and 1.28 carats of white diamonds, High Jewellery white gold and diamond ear studs; Diane von Furstenberg appliqué cotton-mix dress; Wedgwood Daisy Tea Story teacup and saucer set.

Chopard L’Heure du Diamant collection white gold necklace with 4.85 carats of diamonds, High Jewellery white gold ring with 13.6 carats of yellow diamonds and 1.28 carats of white diamonds, High Jewellery white gold and diamond ear studs; Diane von Furstenberg appliqué cotton-mix dress; Wedgwood Daisy Tea Story teacup and saucer set.

“I believe that diamonds can be beautifully paired with a busy print or loud colors to pull an entire look together without competing with them. This way, each can be admired in its own right.”

Belle Of The Ball

Home to one of the finest private art collections in Southeast Asia, The St. Regis Singapore offers exclusive access to museum-quality art. The collection showcases over 70 original works of art, including sculptures, paintings, and prints by internationally renowned artists. Hotel guests are invited to partake in The Art of Living tour around the hotel, conducted by the hotel butlers at 6pm daily.

Home to one of the finest private art collections in Southeast Asia, The St. Regis Singapore offers exclusive access to museum-quality art. The collection showcases over 70 original works of art, including sculptures, paintings, and prints by internationally renowned artists. Hotel guests are invited to partake in The Art of Living tour around the hotel, conducted by the hotel butlers at 6pm daily.

Piaget Extremely Piaget white gold ear cuff with 3.19 carats of diamonds and 12.76 carats of blue sapphires, Extremely Piaget white gold necklace with diamonds totalling 52.43 carats, a 20.06-carat cushion-cut sapphire, and a 7.35-carat pear-shaped blue sapphire, Limelight white gold secret watch with Polynesian mother-of-pearl and 506 multi-cut diamonds totaling 76.24 carats; Iroshini’s own Tex Saverio silk-mix laser-cut applique tiered gown; Jimmy Choo red suede clutch.

Party Princess

At The St. Regis Singapore, all guests have access to the signature St. Regis Butler Service, which includes food and beverage requests, unpacking and packing of luggage, garment pressing, and the e-butler option for access to the butler service, from within or outside the hotel, at any hour 
via e-mail.

At The St. Regis Singapore, all guests have access to the signature St. Regis Butler Service, which includes food and beverage requests, unpacking and packing of luggage, garment pressing, and the e-butler option for access to the butler service, from within or outside the hotel, at any hour 
via e-mail.

Cartier Panthère Captive de Cartier white gold watch with diamonds, emeralds, and onyx, Panthère de Cartier yellow gold earrings with tsavorites and diamonds, Panthère de Cartier yellow gold bracelets, one with tsavorites and onyx, the other with black lacquer, tsavorites, diamonds, and onyx; Iroshini’s own Tex Saverio polyester-mix laser-cut top; Marciano cotton-mix shorts; Ash gladiator heels

“My wardrobe contains edgy and architectural pieces for night outs. They allow me to have fun with fashion and be experimental. The iconic panther motif on the timepiece and jewels packs a punch and makes the entire look more impactful.”

Story Credits

Text by Yanni tan

Images by Wong Wei Liang

Styling by Vernon Sim

Styling Assistance by Christine Lim

Hair by Eileen Koh

Makeup by Amy Chow, using Chanel colors

Location The Presidential Suite at the St. Regis Singapore

This story first appeared in WOW Jewelry, Singapore.

Absolutely Brilliant: 14 Top Jewelry Watches

Like many things with a topping, jewellery watches tend to be larger than life. They may not be to everyone’s taste – there are those who wouldn’t touch a brew with cream and sugar in it or people who’d always scrape the icing off a cupcake; but when a watch is dressed in a Technicolor coat of precious stones, everything goes up a notch, or 10. Price for one, for not just the material, skill, design, and man-hours, but also sourcing stones from the ends of the Earth and working tirelessly over them, polishing, cutting, and setting racks up significantly higher costs. And secondly, there’s wattage: Not the electricity it takes to light a bulb, but metaphorically, an index of the amount of attention a jewelled watch is going to attract.

This happy circumstance of putting hand to stone, far from creating broken windows, has instead birthed a bewildering range of jewellery watches of every shade of colour, and taste, limited only by the collective imagination of the human race. Some watches go for subtlety, with just a light dusting of precious stones to bring up the lustre. In other instances, it is the diamonds and precious stones paved like tarmac that do the talking for the timepiece.

In both, and the continuum of moderation in between, a watch is worn all the better when the degree of ornamentation is pitched exactly to what the wearer intends. Here are some that have caught our eye.

RAPPERS & ROCK STARS

If a wattage could be ascribed to this class, it would be on the top end of the scale, by the sheer weight of stones, usually diamonds, paved onto every nook and cranny of the timepiece’s three-dimensional form. It’s conceivable only the night sky will have more stars by number, however, the point is not really to count, but to declare, “Here I am!” People will stare for sure because watches in this class aren’t just slathered with the good stuff; they are also designed in a way that proclaims wealth, loud and proud.

01-Audemars-Piguet-Royal-Oak-Offshore-Chronograph

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph
When one of the most established Swiss watchmaking houses creates something that is modern and captures the spirit of the times, an icon is birthed. In this case, the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph, much-beloved of elite rapper and sports celebrities, is released in nearly as many special editions to match. Wholly carpeted with diamonds – save for onyxes to mark the hours – the result is a thoroughly aspirational emblem of excess.

102075_BGOW43D2GD2DBR-DANIEL ROTH

Bulgari Octo Bi-Retrograde Full Diamonds
Squat and sleek at the same time, it’s like wearing a bunker on one’s wrist, its walls laid over with diamonds, and dual arcs in black ceramic for the retrograde minutes and date. Utterly glamorous with a commanding presence.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Collection EX45 Spyder 505SQ

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Skeleton Flying Tourbillon with Diamonds
It’s a little ironic that a watch from which so much material has been excised should have such a long name. And in comparison with other megawatt watches in this category, it hasn’t got that many carats on its spec sheet either. But in both senses, whether metal or stone, the Spider Tourbillon exemplifies the ideal of projecting so much presence with so little. And what diamonds it’s got are set using a unique process, into the rubber moulding wrapped around the bezel.

07-Hublot-Big-Bang-Unico-10-Years-Haute-Joaillerie-Red

Hublot Big Bang Unico “10 Years” Haute Joaillerie
It’s been 10 years since Hublot’s Big Bang stormed into the watch collecting scene, and to celebrate, the company introduced three new Big Bang models valued at a combined $10 million – an arresting statement from a company that writes the book on making statements! In particular, the Unico Haute Joaillerie comes in four references, set to the hilt in precious stones: black diamonds, white diamonds, white diamonds and blue sapphires, and white diamonds and red rubies.

OLD MONEY

If elegance is conveyed in a whisper, that is only relative in a manner of speaking. Timepieces here are not ‘loud’; but for sheer beauty and luxury, they give no quarter in their ability to draw one’s eye. Not by the collar, as compared to pieces that are all about bold expression – that would not be very refined. Rather, they cast their spell by compelling persuasion, even seduction. Enthrallment rather than shock and awe, and once ensnared, many would find they’d rather do backflips than look away.

30630-522G-9899_SDT.tif

Vacheron Constantin Malte Tourbillon High Jewellery
There’s a white gold case forming the core of the watch, but one doesn’t get to see it, because the entire timepiece, save for the tourbillon and including the bracelet, is entirely paved with baguette-cut diamonds using an invisible setting technique. Working at tolerances down to 100th of a millimetre, the fit is perfect, no different from a second skin. A true creature of light.

09-BVlgari-Octo-Tourbillon-Full-Diamonds

Bulgari Octo Tourbillon Full Diamonds
The distinctiveness of its octagonal case and its angular lugs project immense presence. At the same time, the arctic blaze of the diamonds tiled over the whole watch finds beautiful contrast in the warmth and animation of the tourbillon.

10-Breguet-Classique-5238

Breguet Classique 5238
Even with diamonds up to its ears, paved on case, bezel, and lugs, the Classique 5238 with openworked dial has not shed a whit of the formal elegance and visual purity of the rest of the Classique family. Somehow, it manages to look luxurious without being extravagant, stealing the show without being 
overtly showy. Brilliant!

11-Breguet-5719-Classique-Hora-Mundi-Haute-Joaillerie

Breguet 5719 Classique Hora Mundi Haute Joaillerie
What looks to be a glamour piece for the ballroom actually scores very high on utility, featuring a self-winding movement with instant jump second time zone display at the 12 and 6 o’clock positions. Engraved day/night indicator is deliciously quaint, and the continent of one’s choice (America, Europe or Asia/Oceania) rendered in round-cut diamonds and set against wavy rose engine turned ocean is a sight to behold.

BEAUTY QUEENS

Every watch marched out of a serious watchmaking factory has had a lot of design thought into its creation: nothing is random, accidental, and every flourish makes a point even if it’s mechanically superfluous. But these watches take design a nudge further, ties are loosened if not flung away, and brushes are inked a little wetter for bolder strokes.

13-Cartier-Pasha-De-Cartier-42MM-Skeleton-Dragon-Motif-Watch-White

Cartier Pasha de Cartier 42mm Skeleton Dragon Motif Watch
Watch aficionados light up for the skeletonised manufacture movement specially shaped to complement the dragon motif; but the latter itself is wonderfully stylised, drawn with softer lines that are a departure from the more regular renditions, all snarly, teeth and talons. Exquisite; and the Pasha’s distinctive crown has just a bit of the oriental vibe to match.

Métiers d'Art Swan 86677-000G-B116

Vacheron Constantin Métiers D’art L’éloge De La Nature Swan
The swan being a symbol of enduring love, it is fitting that this watch should come as a pair, a men’s and a women’s model in 42mm and 39mm cases respectively. It takes two months to complete each dial, and four crafts – enamelling, engraving, guilloche, gem-setting – to impart vividness and liveliness to stone and metal, effecting a breath-taking rendition of a lustrous swan spreading its wings on a lake of enamel.

TECH WIZ

Very much of watchmaking is about technology and technique. The Swiss anchor and hairspring are important milestones in man’s technological advancement, a long way from stone tools and time measurement in drips and drabs. But especially in the 21st century, well into the age of digital and information technology holding sway, some watchmakers remain adamant about performing incredible feats of mechanical engineering, extending the relevance and wonder of the gear-driven timepiece.

15-Hublot-MP-05-Laferrari-Golden-Jubilee

Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari Golden Jubilee
The plain vanilla MP-05 is already more exclusive than its supercar namesake, being limited to 50 pieces. But the Golden Jubilee created to celebrate SG50 and Big Bang’s 10th anniversary is even more so, as a unique piece. As unique as its orientation, which is not top-down like most watches, but front-back, like a stack of coins stood on their edges. The watch has 11 barrels (most watches have one) stacked just like this, visible as the central spine on the watch face, terminating in a vertical tourbillon and flanked by marked cylinders telling time and power reserve, over a scale of 50 days! Golden Jubilee model adds plenty of diamonds, like scales on a cobra’s head.

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Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle 14-Day Tourbillon
It’s like the watchmakers pussy-footed on the documents, to make doubly sure the mechanical merits are highlighted by precious stones without being upstaged; the archetypal “watch with jewellery” as opposed to the reverse. In this case, a handsome balance has been struck. Being adequately embellished, it’s not just the diamonds, but the supreme refinement and conservative elegance of Vacheron Constantin’s tourbillon – with the distinctive Maltese Cross tourbillon cage and outstanding 14-day power reserve – that shines through.

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Piaget Emperador Coussin Tourbillon Diamond-Set Automatic Skeleton
How can one forget Piaget when thinking about gem-set watches? The manufacture’s dual expertise in watchmaking and jewellery crafting does not go unnoticed especially in such illustrious timepieces like this one. Of course the technical know-how is impressive; it’s not every day that a manufacture gets to successfully create an ultra-thin self-winding skeletonised flying tourbillon. But Piaget had already done that a few years ago, and with this new model, it went a step further, lavishing the movement Calibre 1270D with beautiful diamonds. The case, bezel, crown, and bracelet, as well as the micro-rotor, have all been set with a mix of brilliant- and baguette-cut gems.

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Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition
The Grande Maison’s watchmaking mastery extends out of grand complications and into such luxuriant yet tasteful gem-setting as seen in these two stunning creations. We have the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétual with flawless baguette-cut gems cradling the tourbillon as well as set all around the bezel and crown, not to mention its indexes too, and the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique, which is fully paved with baguette-cut gemstones. In the latter, Jaeger-LeCoultre plays with colours, namely blue 
and silver, by mixing blue sapphires with diamonds, and white gold with blued steel.

Story Credits
Text by Yeo Suan Futt

This article was originally published on World of Watches

Welcome to Le Brassus, Singapore

Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet has opened its doors once again at Liat Towers, Singapore, with a brand new gleaming façade and a deeply impressive chandelier. Like the sapphire crystal of its watches, that façade resists glare and is a deft touch. The result of the 10-month facelift is a retail concept the brand calls a “Home Away from Home”. It is indeed so as the new 196 square meter flagship boutique has incorporated elements of Le Brassus into the décor, transporting clients to the brand’s birthplace in the Vallée de Joux, Switzerland.

We had the opportunity to visit the boutique and were given a tour of the two floors and learnt more about its three-story façade (yes, two floors and three stories) that can be seen as you walk along Orchard Road. Measuring over 10-meters, the façade is made up of angular shapes and forms in a bronze finish, inspired by the forests in Le Brassus. This design is replicated at the entrance on the first floor as you step into the boutique.

Welcome Lounge on the first floor

Welcome Lounge on the first floor

Greeting you at the reception area is the aforementioned chandelier that symbolizes the clouds and fog hovering over Vallée de Joux. The lights that hang from it take its inspiration from the raindrops that fall in Le Brassus. The welcome bar below the chandelier sits in front of the extra-large screen that shows you the landscape of Vallée de Joux.

The boutique’s layout is divided into two areas, “The Manufacture” and “The House”. The former is a detailed product display and watchmaker corner while the latter on the second floor is a full service bar and lounge where clients can enjoy an espresso or glass of champagne.

Along with the bar is a little corner that showcases little pieces of history from the manufacture at Le Brassus, and are changed once every six months. There is even a watchmaker’s bench that serves as the workspace of the technical advisor, sharing insights into the world of watchmaking and celebrating artistry.

Watchmaker's bench and lounge on the second floor

Watchmaker’s bench and lounge on the second floor

 

Yellow Fever: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak QP 2016

In advance of the big timepiece show in Geneva in 2016, Swiss watch manufacture Audemars Piguet has revealed a new Royal Oak model, a perpetual calendar in 18k yellow gold (the QP in our title refers to quantieme perpetuel, the traditional term for perpetual calendar). The mainstream press has found this sufficiently juicy to actually cover it, which is fairly remarkable. The in-house calibre powering the new watch is actually the self-winding calibre 5134, which was last featured in this very model, in stainless steel. Is this evidence of a new dawn for yellow gold in watchmaking? We will find out at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva, Switzerland, from January 18 to January 22, 2016.

So, what if yellow gold were to storm back to prominence in the watch industry next year? Retailers in some parts of Asia might not appreciate this but, frankly, gold looks best in yellow and is self-explanatory; other types of gold don’t even look like gold! Audemars Piguet itself has never shied away from using other sorts of precious metals, including rose gold and white gold, and is even famous for its experiments in using carbon and alacrite in watch cases.

First launched in 1972, Audemars Piguet’s iconic Royal Oak watch was a bold move in stainless steel that was worked and polished like a precious metal; this revolution in the watchmaking industry gained the Le Brassus-based firm a reputation for progressive, even fearless, values in traditional watchmaking. Ironically, now the buzz for an Audemars Piguet novelty lies in the use of yellow gold, that most traditional of materials!

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The new 41mm watch features a blue dial with a “Grande Tapisserie” pattern of three dimensional squares. It displays, via subdials, the month and leap year at 12 o’clock, date at 3 o’clock, day of the week at 9 o’clock, and the moon phase at 6 o’clock. The weeks of the year are marked on the rotating internal bezel.

On the dial, the applied hour markers and hands are in yellow gold, with a luminescent coating. The bracelet is also in 18k yellow gold with the Audemars Piguet folding clasp.

The Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar has an exhibition caseback showing off calibre 5134, which has a power reserve of 40 hours.

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Specs

  • Dimensions: 41mm x 9.5mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, central sweep seconds, perpetual calendar, moon phase indicator
  • Power reserve: 40 hours
  • Movement: Mechanical, self-winding, calibre 5134
  • Water resistance: 20 meters (based the stainless steel version)
  • Material: 18k yellow gold, matching bracelet with Audemars Piguet folding clasp

16 Ways to Bring Fun to Luxury Watches

It’s time to add some color to your watch collection – luxury doesn’t always have to be understated. Here are 16 watches, in four categories, that our friends at WOW (World of Watches) have curated that will do the trick.

Just a Hint

This is where the adage that less is more holds sway. With the right hue and application, a dash of color is sometimes all that is necessary, whether to demarcate different functions or to highlight specific parts of a watch.

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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver: This iteration of the Royal Oak Offshore Diver has a utilitarian slant that reinforces the collection’s tool watch DNA, beginning with a scratch-resistant case and bezel of black ceramic. A matching black dial maintains the serious vibes, while also adding a touch of class with its méga tapisserie guilloché – an Audemars Piguet signature. The crucial parts that divers rely on underwater have been highlighted orange here – the running second hand indicates that the watch is working, while the minute hand and 15-minute section of the inner bezel mark elapsed time underwater. (Price unavailable)

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Rado Hyperchrome Automatic Chronograph Court Collection: Blue-on-black isn’t the best combination for legibility, since the former doesn’t pop on the latter. Rado overcame this limitation on the Hyperchrome Automatic Chronograph Court Collection by finishing the watch’s dial with a subtle sunray texture, thus accentuating the contrast between the two colours. Blue wasn’t chosen frivolously – it represents the hard court surface tennis is played on, just like how its siblings’ orange and green accents mirror clay and grass courts respectively. An ETA 2894-2 chronograph movement drives the watch, encased in a monobloc black ceramic case with stainless steel inserts. ($6,170)

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Breitling Chronomat 44 Raven: Despite having a black dial encased in Breitling’s “black steel” case, the Chronomat 44 Raven is far from a stealthy watch. That isn’t a concern anyway, since the Raven is a pilot chronograph, which places a far higher premium on legibility. The latter is achieved by rendering the watch’s hands, indexes, bezel markings, and inner flange in bright orange, to make telling the time and using the chronograph a cinch. Of course, due attention has been paid to accuracy – the Raven packs Breitling’s chronometer-grade Calibre 01. ($13,840)

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Raymond Weil Freelancer: This self-winding chronograph maintains the classic, understated styling that’s central to Raymond Weil’s DNA, but asserts its masculine and sporty side with subtle detailing. Note the watch’s industrial look with the screw bolting down the small seconds sub-dial, or the altimeter-esque date window that recalls a flight instrument panel. Red highlights set against a black and steel dial complete the package – both visually and functionally – by distinguishing the chronograph function from the rest of the watch, right down to the tachymeter’s markings. ($4,330)

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Dial It Up

There’s nothing subtle about flooding the dial with a single vivid hue. Watches like these aren’t just easily recognised at a distance – they’re also bold statements that will be visible from across the room. Only the confident need apply.

 

Victorinox I.n.o.x. (pictured above): Built to mark the 130th anniversary of Victorinox, the I.N.O.X. (inox is French for stainless steel) is the timekeeping counterpart to the Swiss Army knives the brand manufactures, and meant to complement it as a “companion for life”. To that end, the watch had to pass a battery of 130 tests, including spending two hours in a washing machine and being driven over by a 64-ton tank. Numerous little details contribute to the watch’s toughness, from the slightly recessed sapphire crystal to having stamped – not applied – indexes. A simple, no-nonsense dial design emphasises the watch’s pedigree, with a blue dial and matching strap complementing this. ($719)

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Luminox Scott Cassell UVP Special Edition: Luminox’s partnership with Scott Cassell continues with the UVP Special Edition. Part of this watch’s sales proceeds will go towards funding UVP (Undersea Voyager Project), a non-profit organisation founded by Cassell that is dedicated to ocean health. The watch’s 44mm case is made of carbon-reinforced polycarbonate, which imparts an excellent strength-to-weight ratio. A yellow dial with black hands and indices impart legibility, and a matching canvas strap completes the look. ($674.10)

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JeanRichard Aeroscope Arsenal: Arsenal Football Club’s fans can wear their hearts proudly on their wrists by donning the Aeroscope Arsenal, its official watch. The timepiece features the Gunners’ cannon in lieu of a hand for its small seconds sub-dial, and uses the club’s color liberally. Red is an extremely striking colour in and of itself. When paired with black, it pops even more to grab one’s attention. From the honeycombed dial to the tachymeter markings on the bezel to the pushers’ detailing, the color ensures the watch’s prominence. (Price unavailable)

Seiko---high-resa

Seiko Automatic Divers Watch: This is the revised version of the Seiko diver watch commonly (and reverently) referred to as the Orange Monster. The “second generation Orange Monster” updates the original in several areas, including new shark-tooth shaped indexes and a simplified chapter ring. Its 4R36 movement is arguably the biggest change – unlike the original, the new watch can now be both hacked and hand-wound. The new calibre retains Seiko’s bidirectional Magic Lever winding system for efficiency though. Despite the availability of other colorways for the watch, Seiko enthusiasts still consider the Orange Monster a rite of passage. Clearly, not all colors are created equal. ($593.90)

Mix & Match

Playful. Technical. Rebellious. Whimsical. Avant-garde. The design approaches in response to having a larger palette are as varied as the colors themselves. Results too, run the gamut from what are literally art pieces to serious, sporty watches.

Hublot-2a

Hublot Classic Fusion Enamel Britto: Brazilian artist Romero Britto is known for his colorful works melding Cubism, pop art, and graffiti painting. His partnership with Hublot is of little wonder then, given the latter’s penchant for the “art of fusion”. The Classic Fusion Enamel Britto’s dial reproduces one of Britto’s artworks in miniature via grand feu enamel, with the 45mm Classic Fusion case in black ceramic serving as the painting’s frame. This timepiece is a 50-piece limited edition. ($59,700)

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Romain Jerome Pac-Man Level II 40 Colours: The landmark arcade game returns! This homage to Pac-Man comes complete with eight-bit renderings of the game’s titular character, his adversary ghosts, and the strawberry power-ups needed to defeat them. Although the background is a drab monotone, no attention to detail has been spared – the “stage” is three-layered, and each one has either been bead-blasted or straight-grained to contrast with the lacquered sprites mounted on the dial. Housed in a 40mm case, this reference has a limited run of just 20 pieces. ($24,800)

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Alexander Shorokhoff Miss Avantgarde: Words like “edgy” or “free-spirited” cannot adequately describe the Miss Avantgarde, what with its loud and flashy dial that uses color with seemingly no pattern. There is a method to Alexander Shorokhoff’s madness though. The time can actually be read easily as each design element is confined to a specific section of the watch. Colors have also been compartmentalized to avoid an overly busy dial, while the hands are white for maximum contrast. (Price unavailable)

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Graham Chronofighter Oversize GMT: The Chronofighter Oversize GMT has a busy dial with red, blue, and white accents on a background of black. This is mirrored on the watch’s exterior, with its massive 47mm case sporting an equally colorful combination of steel, red gold, and black PVD surfaces. Interestingly, the chronograph, large date, and GMT complications haven’t been sorted by color. Instead, every part of the watch takes on its specific hues for maximum contrast – note how the bezel uses red gold against blue while the main dial has white against black instead. ($16,400)

Material Play

Paints and coatings aren’t the be all and end all for achieving colours that pop in a watch. Materials that are inherently brightly colored can do the same, and lend their unique textures to boot. Stones, glass, and even liquids? Bring them all on.

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HYT H1 Azo Project: No, it isn’t kryptonite. The H1 Azo Project’s florescent case is made of azo polyepoxide, a resin with exceptional scratchproof properties despite being much lighter than comparable materials like steel. Its color is, of course, a perfect match for the liquids encased in the watch’s fluid module – one has been colored a darker shade of green, while the other remains transparent. The hours are then read off the tip of what looks like an advancing column of liquid. ($95,000)

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Hermès Arceau Millefiori: From straw marquetry to Japanese miniature painting on porcelain, Hermès has incorporated various crafts into watchmaking. The Arceau Millefiori focuses on glass art, specifically millefiori (a thousand flowers), where colored crystal canes are arranged to form various motifs before being sealed with transparent crystal. The technique is adapted here by cutting the finished product into thin slices and using them as dials. ($61,600)

Ulysse-Nardina

Ulysse Nardin Marine Perpetual: At first sight, the blue sapphires on the bezel are immediately apparent, and serve as the highlight of the Marine Perpetual. Upon closer inspection, however, the bezel itself is revealed to be atypical – it’s made of rubber, and the sapphires are set directly into it. The technique, dubbed “soft stone in the sky”, is revolutionary for setting gems in a soft material, and parallels the manufacture’s perpetual calendar movement, which allows forward and backward adjustments via just the crown. ($59,400)

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Bell & Ross BR 03 Red Radar: Bell & Ross’s timepieces are inspired by cockpit instruments but said instruments were never just confined to dials with hands and indexes. One outlier was the BR 03 Red Radar, which took the world by storm upon its release, and remains frequently cited as a milestone product for the brand. In lieu of hands, three black concentric discs are mounted to the movement, with a red mineral glass crystal sealing the watch. The result? A watch that displays the time like a radar screen. ($S$6,700)

 

Story Credits

Text by Jamie Tan

Photography by Raymond Lee

Art direction and styling by Tok Wei Lun

Freida Pinto

Audemars Piguet to Tap Freida Pinto as Ambassador

Freida Pinto

After being announced as the new face of Audemars Piguet, Freida Pinto attended a dinner hosted by the Luxury Swiss brand on monday in Paris.

Pinto, who played in “Slumdog Millionaire” was selected for her charity work in Plan Internationals “Because I am a Girl” campaign to support young women in developing countries, according to WWD.

She has been attending the events of Audemars Piguet regularly, including a party thrown by the brand during Art Basel Miami Beach in December.

As a brand ambassador for Audemars Piguet, she joins golfers Henrik Stenson, Victor Dubuisson, Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Ian Poulter, Louis Oosthuizen, Lee Westwood, Sir Nick Faldo and Serena Williams.

A Watch By Any Name

Watch collecting, like most other technical hobbies, is chock-full of nicknames and acronyms. Often, these nicknames stem from associations with a famous personality or event. Omega’s Speedmaster Professional went to the Moon in 1969 and is now known as the Moon Watch, while vintage Speedmasters which pre-date the Moon landing are thus known as pre-Moon Speedies.

The most avidly collected brands and genres are those with the greatest proliferation of nicknames, so it’s no surprise that the richest brand in the horological lexicon is Rolex, especially of the vintage sort. To the uninitiated, the vernacular of Rolex fanatics is baffling, yet often logical. Tropical dials refer to dials which were originally black, but have since faded to tones ranging from dark brown to light caramel, ostensibly due to the tropical sun.

Many nicknames are thanks to the famous wrists the watches were once spotted on. Paul Newman once wore a particular Rolex Daytona chronograph with a distinctive two-tone dial, giving that Daytona its nickname. A more recent vintage is the Patrizzi Daytona, named after Osvaldo Patrizzi, the Italian auctioneer who discovered, or at least publicised, the fact that a certain number of Rolex Daytona watches from the early 1990s have discolouration on their chronograph sub-dials – the silver rings darken into brown.

Patrizzi’s achievement also reveals another aspect of the Rolex collector dialect. Italian influence in vintage watch collecting, particularly in Rolex, is pronounced because the Italians were amongst the first and most enthusiastic collectors some thirty years ago. So the Rolex Eef. 8171 triple calendar is known as the padellone, which is Italian for large pan, in reference to its case shape.  And then, there is the ovettone (meaning ‘egg’ in English), which is a form of the Rolex Bubbleback, and also the freccione (big arrow), another nickname for the Steve McQueen Explorer which has a large, arrow-shaped GMT hand.

Nicknames are often shared, perhaps a reflection of the limited number of celebrities available for naming. The Rolex Explorer Ref. 1655 is named after Steve McQueen, but so is the square-cased Heuer Monaco chronograph.A Watch By Any Name 2This extends to imaginary characters as well. Amongst the most collectible vintage Rolex watches is the James Bond Submariner, which refers to the watch Sean Connery wore. Rolex was mentioned by Ian Fleming in his novels (he also mentioned Girard-Perregaux) and also used in the early films. But Omega has been a title sponsor for the super spy’s films since Pierce Brosnan, and now makes a limited edition for each Bond flick. However, Omega’s watches have also been decorated with nicknames of their own. The Constellation ‘Pie Pan’, for instance, caught on like wildfire when it was coined. Referring to the design of the dial, which resembles old-school pie-baking apparatus, it is widely loved for the distinctive shape. In fact, vintage Omega Constellations are also called Connies by watch aficionados. Amusingly, owners of the Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation also call their planes Connies. So you’ll want to be sure of the context of any conversation before jumping to announce you’ve got a Connie on the wrist.

And then there are the Genta creations of the 1970s: the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Patek Philippe Nautilus and IWC Ingenieur SL. All three were designed by Gerald Genta, the most influential watch designer of his day. They share similar wide and flat profiles, giving rise to the nickname Jumbo, which applies to all three.

But verbal creativity in watch collecting extends even to the most affordable end of the spectrum. Modern Seiko timepieces, especially dive watches, have a curious abundance of nicknames. There exist the Monster, Sumo, Samurai, Stargate, Starfish and the even Tuna (with the prefixes Baby, Darth and Gold). Though these are unofficial monikers, they have stuck fast. In fact, Seiko itself uses the Monster appellation for a series of limited editions made for the Thai market, which is an uncommon instance of a watch brand actually adopting an informal nickname. But why not, really? As the Italians always say, when you’ve got a nickname, it means they really love you.

Jewellery Time 2014: Updates!

As we inch closer towards Jewellery Time 2014, Cortina Watch has revealed more details about the biennial luxury watch showcase. For the readers who might have forgotten, the seventh edition of Jewellery Time will take place from 25 September to 5 October, 11am to 9pm daily at the main atrium of Paragon in Singapore.Jewellery Time 2014 Updates 3

Beyond our initial report which previewed some of the timepieces that will be on display, we now also know that the event will be housed within the purpose-built Collector’s Mansion. Said mansion has been designed in a style reminiscent of the Renaissance, while its white mesh structure juxtaposes modernity with old-world charms. Within the mansion, the contrast continues as contemporary furnishings meet Art Deco elements, topped off by chandeliers hanging from its ceiling.

Jewellery Time 2014 Updates 7

Setting aside, other details have also emerged. The showcase, which is open to the public, will feature over a hundred jewelled timepieces curated by the twelve participating brands: Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Bulgari, Cartier, Chopard, Corum, Ebel, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Omega, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin and Zenith. Taiwanese model-actress Sonia Sui has also been revealed as the face of Jewellery Time 2014. Sui has over a decade of experience in the modelling, film and television industry, and will be in attendance at Jewellery Time 2014’s official opening party on 25 September.Jewellery Time 2014 Updates 1

To celebrate the occasion, Chopard has created the Imperiale Automatic Full Set, a pair of watches combining haute joaillerie and haute horlogerie. Conceptualised and designed as a unique set, the timepieces are entirely paved with diamonds save for the bezel, which has been set with multi-coloured baguette cut sapphires. The beating hearts of the watches are Calibre 01.03-Cs that run at 28,800 vibrations per hour and feature 60-hour power reserves. These movements are in-house developed and manufactured by Fleurier Ebauches, a company under the Chopard group that was founded to reinforce the brand’s vertical integration in watch production. The watches come in one unique piece of white and pink gold each, and will be delivered in a special box bearing an engraved plaque with “Cortina Watch” celebrating the occasion.

Pharrell at BET Awards with his Audemars Piguet

7 time Grammy Award winner Pharrell Williams, whose recent collaboration with French electronic duo Daft Punk has yielded the hit single Get Lucky, was spotted at the BET Awards with an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Carbon Concept watch, in addition to a grey cashmere cardigan from Chanel’s Paris-Dallas 2013/14 collection. Pharrell is a long-time wearer of Audemars Piguet’s timepieces, originally favouring the skeleton Royal Oak collection but moving onto the Concept line afterwards.Pharrell Bet Awards Audemars Piguet 2

The Royal Oak Carbon Concept featured here comes in a forged carbon case 44mm wide, with a black ceramic bezel, crown and pushers. The Calibre 2895 Manufacture movement’s mainplate doubles as the watch dial here, and is made of carbon as well. For most readers who are familiar with watches, the tourbillon and power reserve indicator that dominate the left and upper sections of the dial respectively should be standard fare. What is interesting are its remaining portions. The section on the right is actually the chronograph’s elapsed minute counter, reimagined in linear form and capable of measuring up to 30 minutes. The final “subdial” at six o’clock is a crown position indicator. At N, the crown is in its neutral position. Pull the crown out a notch and the hand swings to R, indicating that manual winding can be done. Pull it out further and H is displayed for the adjustment of the watch’s hour and minutes.Pharrell Bet Awards Audemars Piguet 1

Audemars Piguet is extremely popular amongst hip hop artists, with numerous rap lyrics by the likes of Wiz Khalifa and Lil Wayne referencing the brand. The brand famously partnered with rapper Jay-Z to release a limited edition watch celebrating the latter’s 10th anniversary in the music business. Limited to just 100 pieces, the watches retailed from between US$23,500 to US$69,500 depending on the case material, and US$500,000 of the sales proceeds were donated to Jay-Z’s scholarship fund for inner-city children.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver: Whiteout

Following in all its immaculate glory, the new Royal Oak Offshore Diver in white ceramic is a wonder not only of form, but of function as well. Water-resistant up to 300m and protected by an anti-magnetic inner case, the model’s distinctive case back screws, intermediate bolts and hexagonal screws ensure the case is as watertight as a submarine. Divers will also find the time pre-selection device handy and conforming to the NIHS 92-11 standard for diving watches. The technical nature of the Diver is further enhanced by its internal rotating bezel operated by the screw-down crown located at 10 o’clock. Once the crown is screwed in, there is no risk of inadvertently modifying the dive time and the case protects the internal rotation mechanism from any form of external impacts.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver

While white may come off as less tough than its black predecessor, Audemars Piguet’s use of Super Ceramics means the new Diver’s bezel, case middle, and crown is 40% more resistant to scratches. In fact, because white ceramics are 9 times harder than steel, it also means the manufacturing process of these components is a painstaking and protracted process. For instance, it takes around 8 times longer to make the case middle, and ten times longer to make the bezel compared to that if it was made of steel. While this has the advantage of the Diver being virtually scratchproof, it also means that the octagonal bezel’s trademark satin-brushing and polishing finishes are particularly difficult to create.

The dial of the Diver is offered in Audemars Piguet’s iconic Mega Tapisserie pattern in a whitish-silver finish that provides a high-contrast look against the hands. Navy blue is used as an accent color on the dial while the hour markers and hands are produced in 18K white gold – mainly because of its ability to hold a polish and its corrosion-resistant qualities. The finishing touch is provided by a sporty white rubber strap and titanium buckle. Chic yet tough, this technical watch effortlessly does the job while looking impeccable.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak GMT Tourbillon: Show-stopping Audacity

Being the oldest fine watchmaking manufacture never to have left the hands of its founding families has its privileges. Autonomy, for one. And Audemars Piguet’s independent streak and unique vision have been boldly expressed in the Royal Oak Concept GMT Tourbillon. Initially launched as a tribute to the Royal Oak’s 30th anniversary in 2002, the latest Royal Oak Concept is a watch for avant-garde collectors and connoisseurs that challenges conventional limits both technically and aesthetically.

Through the years, design features originally designed by Gérald Genta have been refined, and this latest iteration features a white ceramic bezel, crown and push-pieces instead of black, all heightening the contrast with the titanium case. However, with typical revolutionary panache, Audemars Piguet went one step further and incorporated ceramic into the movement itself, replacing the blackened upper bridge of its predecessor with white ceramic. As a result, the new Concept is visually transformed, and its dazzling, hourglass-shaped bridge is further enhanced by the double symmetry of the tourbillon bridges and GMT display.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Gmt Tourbillon

Since ceramic is almost nine times harder than steel and virtually scratch-proof, creating the watch’s white ceramic parts is a complex and time-consuming process. Special milling-cutter machines equipped with diamond-tipped tools are employed for the process with each bezel taking about eight hours to make, compared to 45 minutes or so for a comparable bezel made of steel. This undoubtedly demonstrates Audemars Piguet’s full mastery of ceramic production. No ordinary case would do for such a special watch, so titanium made the cut to craft the watch’s 44mm case while the inner flange encircling the dial is made of lightweight anodised aluminium.

A defining characteristic of Concept watches is the integration of case and movement which is evident in this new model. The movement, hand-wound Calibre 2930, features twin barrel that provides a 10-day power reserve, providing energy for the tourbillon and second time-zone display. The escapement, which beats at a frequency of 21,600vph, rotates inside the tourbillon carriage every 60 seconds. The tourbillon cage is made up of 85 components, yet weighs only 0.45 grams. Each cage requires three days to assemble, including two full days to install, and the entire mechanism represents more than two full weeks of work. Each component is bevelled, polished, assembled and balanced by hand and Audemars Piguet’s proprietary parallel double barrel system generates a constant force to enhance timekeeping precision. Powerful and unabashedly eye catching, the latest Royal Oak Concept is a potent force to be reckoned with.