Tag Archives: Baselworld

BaselWorld 2017 brings new watches by Tissot, Grand Seiko, Zenith and more

Tissot Heritage Banana Centenary Edition

News events on the first day of the world’s most important watch and jewellery fair did not obscure the fact that this is the 100th edition of BaselWorld, by the official count. As far as we can tell, only one brand is deliberately paying tribute with a watch and that’s Tissot with the Heritage Banana Centenary Edition. The historical piece shares a birthday with BaselWorld. Celebrating its birth this year at the fair is none other than Grand Seiko, which has been spun off by parent Seiko as its own independent brand.

On the contemporary front, Zenith (which Jean-Claude Biver declared to be his priority in 2017) revealed its new Defy 21 line, which is a chronograph able to measure elapsed time down to 1/100th of a second. More importantly, this watch will feature an entirely new movement that uses two escapements, both using a never-before-seen hairspring made of a new material called carbon matrix carbon nanotubes. It is no understatement to say that this may be the most significant material development in escapements since CSEM, Swatch Group, Patek Philippe and Rolex began research into silicon possibly as early as the 1990s (Ulysse Nardin worked in parallel). Speaking of Patek Philippe, the Geneva brand has unveiled its own developments from its Advanced Research team but we will have more to say on this (and carbon nanotubes) later.

On the business side, Corum announced surprisingly positive – and welcome – news that its turnover increased by 38% in the last financial year, bucking trends in the watch trade across the board. Over at the Kingdom Swatch Group, Omega tells us that the limited Trilogy offering (Seamaster, Railmaster and Speedmaster) of 557 sets is well on its way to being oversubscribed. Nevertheless, the reality is that Omega makes many models and references every year and it is how those fare that will shape the year to come. Still, it looks like a good crop overall and we’ll be bringing more highlights to the fore in the coming days

Review Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Panorama Date Moon Phase

Review: Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Panorama Date Moon Phase

The story of Glashütte Original this year is all about Calibre 36 and it is certainly true that it is the beginning of a new story for the Saxon watchmaker. The Senator Excellence is at the heart of it but BaselWorld this year also showed us a hint of where the watchmaker intends to take this tale. Behold the Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Panorama Date Moon Phase, a chapter devoted to complexity made simple.

Well, to begin with, those familiar with moon phases will know all the usual stuff: it will be accurate for 122 years before it needs to be adjusted. Stellar stuff that is but the simplicity we seek lies in the operation of this adjustment. Again, those familiar with the moon phase, or own a watch with this charming complication, will know that there is a circumstance that will require manual intervention. If the watch stops for a prolonged period, it will need to be reset and, when it comes to the moon phase, that can be tedious. Not so for the Panorama Date Moon Phase.

From winding the watch to the setting of time, from changing the date to setting the moon phase, everything can be managed via the crown. When one pulls the crown out to position one, Calibre 36-04, can be wound. Position two allows the setting of both date and moon phase indicator, tied as they are to each other. Finally, position three allows the setting of time. Of course, the fact that the power reserve is rated to 100 hours also helps keep the pressure off. That, to keep it brief, takes care of the main message of simplicity.

Review Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Panorama Date Moon Phase

On the other hand, it is not only practically speaking that the watch offers advantages. A watch is something one wears and interacts with almost intuitively. Using a pusher to correct the moon phase gives one a feeling of being disconnected from this most personal of treasures. Glashütte Original corrects that defect with the Panorama Date Moon Phase.

Of course, this implies there is a great deal of complexity involved with what the Swatch Group-owned firm is doing with the automatic Calibre 36-04. Like Calibre 36, we know for certain it is using a silicium hairspring, a free-spring balance and a movement architecture aimed at solving technical issues down the line, including making servicing easier. All of these moves bring the German manufacture in-line with the practices of its parent group and have been a long time coming.

What hasn’t changed is the Glashütte Original look and feel, as seen in the double disc date display – pleasantly oversized as usual – and the off-kilter positioning of both the date and the moon phase indicator. Combined with the central hands and sweep seconds, the result is an admirably well-balanced 40mm watch.

Review Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Panorama Date Moon Phase

Specs

  • Dimensions: 40mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, moon phase
  • Power Reserve: 100 hours
  • Movement: Automatic Calibre 36-04 with date and moon phase
  • Material: Stainless steel or rose gold
  • Water resistance: 50 meters
  • Strap: Louisiana alligator or bracelet (stainless steel version)

Review: Breguet Classique 7147 Watch

In its press notes for the Breguet Classique 7147, the Swiss watchmaker calls the watch a ‘must-have’, a term criminally abused in fashion but blessedly uncommon in watchmaking parlance. Nevertheless, it is strange to refer to some kinds of things as must-haves. Take real estate for example. No one ever calls a house a must-have even though shelter is an actual bona fide must-have.

Don’t get us wrong here because Breguet watches obviously have a powerful appeal, particularly – we would argue – in gold. On the other hand, just as one would never call the Bugatti Chiron a must-have, a watch like the Breguet Classique 7147 should not be thought of in this way. To some, the Chiron will look a dream come to roaring mechanical life but others will see a nightmare of absurdity. Indeed, part of the appeal of the car is in this very divisiveness.

Fine watchmaking has a strong divisive streak and Breguet makes some lovely examples, one of which is the Classique 7147. Proposed by the Swatch Group-owned watchmaker as a dress watch, it is certain to upend the expectations, and upset the constitutions, of some gentlemen. By tradition, a dress watch is meant to be a paragon of subtle appeal. In contemporary times, this often translates as ‘boring’, which unfortunately goes hand-in-hand with the word ‘classic’. Typically, the dress watch sits quietly on the wrist, hidden under the sleeve, a pleasure exclusively for the wearer. The Classique 7147 sure does like a bit of attention though.

The Classique 7147 is far from properly classical, what with its off-kilter small seconds subdial, its 40mm diameter and bold decorative touches. These decorations include an engine-turned hobnail motif in the center of the dial and an angled cross weave guilloche pattern on the subdial. Roman numerals and blued steel Breguet hands complete the look.

breguet-classique-5140

By way of comparison, look at the Breguet Classique 5140, which sports a clean and pure dial, although some variations have added more decidedly ‘Breguet’ touches (as the version above does). No, we have not made a mistake, this is not the new 7147. The similarity in the look, right down to that quirky small seconds subdial, is to be expected as the 7147 replaces the 5140, which has been around in one shape or another since at least 2008.

One of the key differences between these two references is actually more subtle though and can’t really be illustrated well. The Classique 7147 is just 6.1mm thick, making it appropriately slim for a dress (it has to fit comfortably under shirt sleeves) and distinctly thinner than the 5140 (the current Breguet catalogue lists it as 10.8mm thick). This of course is a function of the movement within, calibre 502.3SD, which is just 2.4mm thick. The Classique 7147 has an exhibition caseback through which the movement can shine, which is another change from the 5140.

Specs

  • Diameter: 40mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
  • Power Reserve: 45 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding calibre 502.3SD with pallet fork and balance spring in silicon
  • Material: 18k rose gold and 18k white gold
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Leather
Chanel J12 watch Baselworld

Chanel J12 XS: Tough Chick

The first watch designed by Chanel with a masculine touch goes through a complete makeover and is now smaller, girlier and the most desirable it has ever been. This story is from the perspective of our friends at L’Officiel Singapore; we have previously adopted the WOW Singapore review of the same watch.

The year 2003 was no ordinary one for Chanel. It finally made its debut at BaselWorld (the industry’s biggest watch fair where top manufacturers gather annually in Switzerland to show off their latest horological feats), 16 years after the Parisian house unveiled its first timepiece, the Première. But the year was also a dismal one for the people of the world who were fiercely battling the Sars epidemic. “In fact, China realized that it had many more cases than what was officially announced,” Chanel’s International Watch Director Nicolas Beau recalls. “It was two days before the show and a lot of Chinese would be coming in. Everybody panicked. Some even wanted to go home.”

Chanel J12 watch Baselworld

Black high-tech ceramic and 18k white gold with baguette-cut diamonds, black onyw, matte leather and patent calfskin

But when BaselWorld concluded that year, people weren’t talking about Sars as much as Chanel’s J12, which was presented at the fair in a new white high-tech ceramic version (trumping the reception of its black predecessor launched back in 2000). “Suddenly we realized how powerful this creation was,” Beau adds. “The J12 introduced a new color and a new spirit to quite a traditional-looking watch. And because it’s a traditional-looking watch, it would be boring if we made it in steel. Ours in ceramic told people something different.”

The J12, which was Chanel’s first automatic timepiece, is a fascinating work of art. Seven years of research and development contribute to the allure of the watch, most of which lies within its high-tech ceramic case. Made entirely from scratch at the brand’s G&F Chatelain Manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the material is lighter and hardier than gold and steel, resistant to thermal and chemical shocks, and very comfortable to wear, absorbing and maintaining the skin’s temperature when worn. “We have discovered many new things since we started making ceramics in 2000,” Beau reveals. “We can even incorporate the material into mechanical movements now.”

That isn’t the only novelty. The J12 was also the first timepiece which Chanel designed with a surprising yet compellingly masculine approach. The house’s late artistic director Jacques Helleu had these goals in mind for the watch: it had to look timeless, be indestructible and remind him of “masterpieces in the world of automobiles”. As Beau points out: “We created a strong full-black watch with the original J12 and then followed up with an even stronger J12 in white. Today, both have become very key colors in the watch market.”

In October, Chanel gave the J12 its most exciting update yet (leading to both this and the previously published piece). Named the Chanel J12 XS, the new petite 19mm model is still beguiling with a case in either black or white high-tech ceramic, but it now exudes vibes that are way more girly than macho. There are four permanent boutique styles: the first two have slim patent calfskin straps that are worn over larger matte calfskin cuffs. The third is attached onto a pair of supple lambskin gloves, while the fourth features a patent calfskin cuff in multiple rows that’s quite rock ‘n’ roll.

Chanel J12 watch Baselworld

Black high-tech ceramic and steel with patent calfskin, lambskin and diamonds

The making of the J12 XS also involved France’s most brilliant craftsmen such as glove makers from the House of Causse and couture embroiderers from Maison Lesage (the latter is behind the most artistic dials of Chanel’s Mademoiselle Privé timepiece range). To make the new model even more desirable, there are also six sequinned styles which are hand-embroidered by Maison Lesage to resemble the natural patterns found on exotic python, alligator and shark leather.

For those with more exquisite taste, there are also four unique and extremely wearable high jewelry models. One comes with a large solid cuff (they are unlike the boutique-exclusive Chanel J12 XS watch cuffs, which are supple) while two come with smaller, solid cuffs. All three are decorated with diamond-set white gold trims. Finally, there is a cheeky time-telling ring that is set with 24 baguette-cut diamonds around a white gold flange.

“The J12 introduced a new colour and a new spirit to quite a traditional-looking watch. And because it’s a traditional-looking watch, it would be boring if we made it in steel. Ours in ceramic told people something different.” declared Nicolas Beau, Chanel’s international watch director.

This story was first published in l‘Officiel Singapore

Review: Breitling Chronomat 44 Blacksteel Special Edition

Review: Breitling Chronomat 44 Blacksteel Special

The Breitling Chronomat 44 Blacksteel Special Edition makes a strong statement on the wrist – not just because of that 44mm girth. Wrist appeal is something ephemeral that goes beyond dimensions and weight. Of course, given that this is a big and heavy watch, ephemeral might sound like entirely the wrong word to use but bear with us. While you are more likely to hear this watch described as a visceral pleasure, that misses the charm of the piece.

First of all, only Breitling could make a 44mm watch seem perfectly natural and reasonable, especially in the year of the massive Avenger Hurricane. Bear in mind, the Chronomat 44 still bears distinctive yellow markings and has that delightfully overstuffed-with-information feel that all Breitlings have. Actually, this yellow dial is new for the model even if the colors are trademark for the brand and, if you look a little closer, you’ll see that the square chronograph counters have been replaced with more typical round ones. This might appear familiar to you because Breitling actually released another version of the Chronomat earlier this year, prior to BaselWorld in fact.

Like that watch, this Special Edition sports the in-house Calibre 01 movement and an exhibition caseback to show it off. The rotor of the self-winding movement has also been given the all-black treatment, like the case. Finishing the aesthetic touches here is the two-tone rubber TwinPro rubber strap, which goes all-black too, except for lining in the same yellow as the dial. It is these little touches that speak to the ephemeral appeal we keep coming back to. Even that information-packed dial is part of this appeal, and indeed one of the key elements of what makes even smaller Breitling watches so easily identifiable even at a distance. A watch with this much going on must be a Breitling (or at least be Breitling-inspired).

Review: Breitling Chronomat 44 Blacksteel Special Edition

As this is a special edition, the ephemeral story goes on, continuing on the unidrectional bezel. Here we find rubber inlaid numerals that remind us of the strap. It can be argued that this, like the rider tabs on that bezel, are part of the visceral appeal because they have utility – the tabs can be used to both mark time and to improve how the bezel handles. The thought process that went into these details though speaks better to that ephemeral part because there is amazing continuity between, bezel, case, dial, movement and strap.

On that visceral side of things though, the polished DLC-treated case is water resistant to 200 meters. The screw-lock crown and chronograph pushers help in keeping things dry. The watch is clearly aimed at both people who like pilot’s watches (Breitling’s bread-and-butter) and diver’s watches. After all, it has a strong technical look and is very much a tool watch. Backing up that look is Calibre 01, a COSC-certified chronograph movement with a 70 hour power reserve.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 44mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph
  • Power Reserve: 70 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding Calibre 01 COSC-certified
    Material: DLC-treated steel
  • Water resistance: 200 meters
    Strap: Rubber TwinPro

This article was first published in World of Watches.

Steely Resolve: Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin

The L.U. Chopard insignia may be subtle and simple, even unremarkable, but what it stands for is the complete opposite. This collection of timepieces is in fact Chopard’s most technically accomplished, most horologically beautiful. It is, after all, named after the company founder, Louis-Ulysse Chopard. At its Fleurier and Geneva manufactures, Chopard carries out all the operations involved in watch production: movement construction, product design, gold smelting, case stamping and machining, movement components, traditional handcrafted decorations, surface treatments, polishing, assembly, adjustment, and quality control.

New to the L.U. Chopard line is the L.U.C Perpetual Twin (covered very briefly al BaselWorld). As its name suggests, this timepiece proffers the perpetual calendar complication, which displays the exact date in perpetuity. Day, date, month, and leap year indications are all clearly shown via two sub-dials marked in black, one each for the day and month, as well as a small black circular indicator for the leap years and a large date display. But the double-window display is not the reason why the watch is named Perpetual Twin. This has more to do with the watch’s movement than its dial display.

The movement, Calibre L.U.C 96.51-L, keeps the watch running for a maximum of 58 hours when fully wound. Here is where one of its most unique attributes can be found: A micro-rotor winds up the movement’s two barrels in what Chopard calls its patented Twin technology. Those familiar with Chopard’s watchmaking pursuits would recall that the manufacture is also known for its Quattro technology, which uses two sets of double stacked barrels for a whopping nine-day power reserve. Evidently, mainspring power is something of an obsession by the watchmakers at Chopard.

Technical matters aside, there is the all-important issue of finishing and decoration. In keeping with the strict criteria set by the manufacture, the movement comes with components that have hand-bevelled edges and surfaces that are either circular-grained or decorated with Côtes de Genève. It is also COSC-certified as Chopard’s co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, who personally oversees the L.U.C line, believes in the importance of independent certification of timekeeping precision.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 43mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph, perpetual calendar, moon phase indicator
  • Power Reserve: 58 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding Calibre 96.51-L COSC-certified perpetual calendar with 58-hour power reserve
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Water resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Hand-sewn black alligator leather with steel pin buckle

This story was first published in World of Watches.

Review: Breitling Avenger Hurricane 2016

There are not many watches larger than 46mm in diameter. And for good reason: If it gets bigger than that, then a significant share of the market gets alienated because the watch simply becomes unwearable. That said, there are some watches that are famously and fabulously oversized, and companies that are particularly worshipped for their predilection for larger proportions. Being a maker of instruments for professionals, Breitling is one such company. In order for its timepieces to fulfil their duty of legibility and reliability, they all have to be big enough. But ever the pragmatist, Breitling understands that while heft is a virtue, heaviness is not, so it set out to make an extra-large timepiece that does not weigh the wrist down. Enter the Avenger Hurricane (which was covered previously, at BaselWorld itself but here’s another go at it).

Imagine a 50mm sports watch with prominent lugs, a robust bezel, and sturdy pushers and crown. The Avenger Hurricane would be very close to that image. Now imagine this watch on your wrist. Chances are that you would expect a significant presence both in terms of volume and weight, but be prepared for a surprise should you have the good fortune to encounter this timepiece in the flesh. In spite of its extreme build, the Avenger Hurricane is super light. Super, almost unbelievably, light. It weighs 68.92 grams. The secret lies in its case material, and no, it’s not titanium; it is a material that’s lighter than even titanium.

Ultra-sturdy and ultra-light, this material is codenamed Breitlight, which is a world’s first according to Breitling. Essentially a high-tech polymer composite, it is 3.3 times lighter than titanium and 5.8 times lighter than steel. Yet, it is significantly harder and boasts a number of qualities including exceptional resistance to scratches, traction and corrosion, anti-magnetic, thermal stability, and anti-allergenic properties. It also proffers a tactile feel that’s warmer than metals, while appearing with a black, subtly mottled effect that stands it apart from anything else on the market.

The watch’s all-black look benefits from a dash of colour, yellow from the strap’s yellow rubber core and bits of details on the dial, as well as white from the hands and aviation-inspired stencil-type 24-hour numerals. On the inside, the in-house manufactured Breitling Calibre B12 keeps it animated. Accordingly, the self-winding COSC-certified chronograph tells the time over the 24-hour dial (customary in military timepieces) and as is expected of all aviation watches, the thick sapphire crystal is glareproofed on both sides.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 50mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph
  • Power Reserve: 70 hours
  • Movement: B12, automatic
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters
  • Material: Breitlight
  • Strap: Rubber and fabric

This story was first published in World of Watches.

Patek Philippe Nautilus 40th Anniversary Watches Ref. 5711/1P

Patek Philippe Nautilus 40th Anniversary Watches

The 1970s were a time of upheaval, especially for the traditional Swiss watch industry, resulting in some modern classics such as the Patek Philippe Nautilus. We are looking today at two new limited edition models that remind us once more of the genius of the late Gerald Genta (he designed the original 1976 Nautilus, reportedly on a napkin) but first we need to set the stage, as it were.

As the Patek Philippe Nautilus celebrates its 40th birthday this year, it is indeed odd that we find ourselves again in a period of unparalleled change. In a strange way, this reminds us that a watch like the Nautilus is resilient in the face of the inexorable march of time. In 1976, when Ref. 3700/1A debuted – the very first Nautilus model – it seemed an unthinkable decision on the part of Swiss watchmaking institution like Patek Philippe. Today, the family-owned company’s decision is celebrated.

The audacious design – typical for Genta – and the fact that it was a sports watch were both somewhat astonishing but this does not really explain why the watch was so important. The Nautilus was cased in steel and that material choice earned the watch its legendary status. For the 40th anniversary, the Geneva-based manufacture has once more made heads turn as both limited edition models for 2016 are in precious materials. Granted, sporty watches in precious materials are not uncommon at all, but honoring a watch that was famous for being made in steel with precious metal models is quite cheeky. Speaking of cheek, the old ads for the Nautilus were all cheek (and they illustrate that Patek Philippe has been casing Nautilus watches in precious metals for some time).

8939_pub_nautilus

This brings us to the watches proper, the Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711/1P 40th Anniversary Edition and the Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5976/1G 40th Anniversary Limited Edition. Both retain the signature “hinges” at 9 and 3 o’clock, and have the same eye-catching octagonal bezel as the original. It is enough, we think, to leave it at that for the salient similarities and move on to each of the watches in a little more detail.

5711_1p_rvb_patekpress08_1624568

We’ll address the watches by the reference numbers, as is traditional, as we dive deeper. Ref. 5711/1P most closely mirrors the original Ref. 3700/1A but it is of course cased in platinum with a matching bracelet, which (we imagine) makes it quite a load on the wrist. It is a 40mm time-only watch, with sweep seconds and date, as far as the functions go. There is quite a bit more precious about Ref. 5711/1P than the platinum case and bracelet here. The dial is in 18k gold and so are the hands and the hour makers too, though the markers are set with baguette-cut diamonds. There is one final diamond, set into the bezel at 6 o’clock, which is par for the course when it comes to Patek Philippe’s platinum models. You will already have noticed the embossed words, possibly the most controversial element here. The embossed wording also appears on Ref. 5976/1G. Limited as it is to just 700 pieces, Ref. 5711/1P clearly doesn’t have to appeal to everyone of course.

5976_1g_rvb_patekpress08_1624514hd

Ref. 5976/1G is of course a chronograph, which you will recognize from Patek Philippe’s signature numbering, even if the configuration and pushers don’t clue you in. This model is cased in 18k white gold and it is significantly larger than Ref. 5711/1P. Indeed, at 44mm this is might be one of the largest Patek Philippe watches we have ever covered (neither of these pieces were at BaselWorld, as we reported on so we haven’t seen them up close). Things are a bit less precious here as the dial is in brass (which is a common practice in watchmaking), though the hour markers and hands are all in 18k gold. Unlike Ref. 5711/1P, Ref. 5976/1G uses princess and baguette-cut diamonds. This watch is limited to 1,300 pieces so getting it will be a little easier than scoring the simpler Ref. 5711/1P but not by much.

Specs

  • Ref. 5711/1P
  • Dimensions: 40mm (corner to corner); 44.5mm (end-to-end width, including crown)
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, central seconds, date
  • Power Reserve: 45 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding Calibre 324 S C
  • Case: Platinum 950
  • Water Resistance: 120 meters
  • Strap: Link bracelet platinum 950, foldover clasp
  • Ref. 5976/1G
  • Dimensions: 44mm (corner to corner); 49.25mm (end-to-end width, incuding crown)
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, central seconds, date, chronograph
  • Power Reserve: 55 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding Calibre CH 28-520 C
  • Case: 18k white gold
  • Water Resistance: 120 meters
  • Strap: Link bracelet 18k white gold, foldover clasp
Glashütte Original PanoMatic Luna: Pale Blue Watch

Glashütte Original PanoMatic Luna: Pale Blue Watch

German watchmaker Glashütte Original knows a thing or two about beautiful dials, as illustrated here by the Glashütte Original PanoMatic Luna watch. This boutique edition sports a blue mother-of-pearl dial, showing off once more the manufacture’s affinity for this color. More importantly, it shows how useful it can be to have one’s own dialmaker, as Glashütte Original does.

On the face of it, this model – exclusive to Glashütte Original’s own boutiques – has the same features as any other Panomatic Luna. Hour, minutes, seconds, Panorama date and moon phase indicator are all accounted for and in the off-centered style favored by the manufacture. As with other models in the same series, the watch is powered by the automatic Calibre 90-12.

Glashütte Original PanoMatic Luna: Pale Blue Watch

To understand the particular beauty of this boutique edition of the PanoMatic Luna, one has to look at the pale blue dial, which shimmers with an uncanny incandescence. The work of the dialmakers at Pforzheim, Germany, this execution is what sets this model apart from all other versions in the collection. We look forward to seeing this variation in person (it was not at BaselWorld). Whoever the artisans responsible for the spate of beautiful blue dials (Senator Chronometer) and generally rich colors (Senator Sixties Iconic Collection) here, we salute them.

The perfect companion piece to this Glashütte Original PanoMatic Luna watch is the Louisiana alligator strap, in a matching pale blue. The effect is delicate and suitably feminine without being overt. Well we suppose the 83 diamonds decorating the case and the dial take care of that part!

Specs

  • Dimensions: 39.4mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, oversized date, moon phase indicator
  • Power Reserve: 42 hours
  • Movement: Automatic Calibre 90-12
  • Material: Stainless steel case set with 64 diamonds on the bezel, 18 diamonds on hour indexes and one 3mm diamond set on the crown (total carats: 1.09)
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Louisiana Alligator, pale blue

Glashütte Original PanoMatic Luna: Pale Blue Watch

Glashütte Original PanoMatic Luna: Pale Blue Watch

MB&F Balthazar: Time Gets Dark Playful Twist

MB&F Balthazar: Time Gets Dark Playful Twist

MB&F puts a mean twist on time with the Balthazar table clock – although in fairness calling Balthazar a mere clock misses the point entirely. Ok, so MB&F is a Swiss watchmaking outfit we’ve covered many times over the years. Just click on the tag MB&F if you’re a Thomas who doubts. Personally, I’ve had many a wonderful encounter with the good people at MB&F over the years as I’ve wandered the halls of BaselWorld (like Bono, I too have not found what I’m looking for) and have always come away entertained, if nothing else. Being entertained at the madhouse that is BaselWorld is no small matter.

MB&F Balthazar: Time Gets Dark, Playful Twist

This entertainment value is what comes to my mind when looking at the Balthazar clock, which shows (slowly) jumping hours and sweeping minutes, alongside 20-second retrograde seconds, a 35-day power reserve indicator and moon phase indicator. Reading a text description like this undercuts Balthazar’s power though and doesn’t tell you what’s so entertaining about this, unless you’re a watch geek.

In fact, Balthazar is so interesting that no less than TechCrunch dedicated Part 23 of its Goofy Rich-Person Gadgetry series to it. Being respectable techies, TechCrunch calls Balthazar a “novelty” made by hand to sell to rich people. It also calls MB&F a “glitzy watch manufacturer… Basically, that is what most tech-savvy people think of high-end watches and watchmaking but not to worry, we’ll do what we can to correct such notions. If that doesn’t work, maybe Balthazar can unleash his death rays on them…

Balthazar_Green_Light_Lres

Nevertheless, MB&F isn’t just positioning this to the rich, as they demonstrated with the Sherman and Melchior. Balthazar is a toy, with movable joints and everything, make no mistake but it is a toy for grown-ups. Founder Max Busser is quite open that what MB&F makes are objects inspired by his own childhood experiences. In this way, we suppose that MB&F channels Antoine de Saint Exupery, if you can accept Busser in the role of the Little Prince (we still love you Max).

Like the previous table clocks/kinetic sculptures, the movement here is by L’Epée, the high-end table clock specialist. Standing some 40cm tall, Balthazar is made up of 618 components but has a heart made of pure whimsy. When you rotate Balthazar’s torso 180 degrees, you see his more menacing visage, complete with Terminator-esque skull. Honestly, Balthazar reminds us of the Iron Giant, which is quite far removed from Busser’s childhood but perhaps speaks to some sort of universal and timeless experience.

Balthazar carries his winding key in his shield (on his right arm) and has moveable arms, at the shoulders and elbows, and his hands can grasp objects. While his torso does indeed rotate, Balthazar’s legs are immobile for greater stability. By the way, this mean machine weighs 8.2 kg so he needs adequate support.

Specs

  • MB&F and L’Epée Balthazar
  • Dimensions: 39.4mm x 23.8mm x 12.4mm
  • Functions: Slow jumping hours, sweeping minutes, 20-seconds retrograde display, power reserve indicator, double-hemisphere moon phase indicator
  • Power reserve: 35 Days
  • Movement: Mechanical, manual-winding calibre 1839, by L’Epée
  • Water resistance: NA (Balthazar doesn’t swim)
  • Material: Fully palladium plated polished brass, with black, silver, blue and green armor
  • Limited to 200 pieces: 50 in black, 50 in silver, 50 in blue and 50 in green

Review: Corum Golden Bridge Watch

Like the Bubble and the Coin watch, the Golden Bridge is one of Corum’s central pillars. The original Golden Bridge was presented in 1980 with a long, rectangular case containing a unique baguette movement. Occupying little space in the central vertical section, this manual-winding calibre has all its gear train’s components laid out in a linear fashion along its length. An entire collection has sprung from this initial release, with case designs gradually becoming barrel shaped and executed in both precious and technical materials to please all palates. Decorative elements such as dragon and phoenix figurines carved from gold have also been offered to play with the available space afforded by the movement, but the latter remains the star of the watch.Corum-Golden-Bridge-closeup

Corum’s novelties for BaselWorld this year may seem dominated by the numerous Bubble models, but the brand also introduced the Golden Bridge Round watch. This isn’t the first time the Golden Bridge has appeared in a round case; a previous interpretation of the shape has been done at least once before, in a small limited production run for an anniversary occasion.Corum-Golden-Bridge-closeup-2

For 2016, the Golden Bridge is offered in a round case for good, complete with a twist. Instead of leaving the space at the sides of the movement void as in most Golden Bridge watches, the watch’s designer, Dino Modolo, has decided to create a tribute to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge – the 2,727-meter long suspended bridge that served as the inspiration for this watch model in the first place. Rose gold sculptures now flank the movement, and take the form of lattice frameworks mimicking the Golden Gate Bridge. This piece of art can be appreciated at all angles, thanks to the use of a crystalline ring which forms the case’s middle.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 43mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes
  • Power Reserve: 40 hours
  • Movement: Manual-winding Corum Calibre C01133
  • Material: Rose gold (sapphire crystal case middle)
  • Water resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Brown alligator with rose gold ardillon buckle

This article was first published in World of Watches.

Bell & Ross BR 03-94

Review: Bell & Ross BR 03-94 Watch

Back in 2005, who would’ve imagined that a square watch could singlehandedly set Bell & Ross on the trajectory that’s brought the brand to where it is today? The BR 01 did just that, and went on to spawn two smaller iterations, the BR 03 and BR S, which were also extremely successful. The latest addition to the family, the BR-X1, was conceived as a platform for Bell & Ross to express its technical savoir-faire, but the brand hasn’t neglected its core collections despite this shift in direction. The proof? The BR 03-94 Desert Type.

The BR 03-94 Desert Type is the latest variation on the theme of the square aviation watch, which is one of Bell & Ross’s calling cards. Like the collection’s other models, it contains several recognisable design cues. For one, there’s the square case with a raised round bezel framing the circular dial. The dial itself is highly legible, thanks to a combination of sword-shaped hands and a mix of baton and Arabic numeral indexes. Finally, there are the four screws on the upper surface of the case – a nod to the screws used to mount aviation instruments (the collection’s inspiration) onto a cockpit’s panel.

The strength of the BR 01/03/S families’ design lies in its versatility, as the BR 03-94 Desert Type shows. Despite being dressed in matte black and khaki – the two primary hues used in desert camouflage – the watch maintains a striking visage. Part of this is due to the brand’s subtle play with textures. Note how the black portions of the hands have a grainier texture compared to the black ceramic case, for instance, or how the sub-dials have a circular grained pattern. Bell & Ross has also manipulated the sense of depth of this watch by going beyond the usual traits of a layered case/bezel construction and sloping inner flange. The sub-dials have been countersunk here, while the dial itself has a sandwich construction consisting of an upper dial with cutouts set over a lower dial of a contrasting colour.

Functionally, the BR 03-94 is powered by an ETA-based BR-CAL.301 chronograph movement. The watch is capable of measuring elapsed times of up to 30 minutes, and sports a clean bi-compax layout to facilitate this, with a date window at 4:30 rounding up its functions. Its wearer can opt for either a matching beige calfskin strap or a black synthetic fabric strap to complete the package.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 42mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes. chronograph
  • Power Reserve: 42 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding BR-CAL.301
  • Material: Black ceramic
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters
  • Strap: Beige calfskin or black fabric, both with black PVD-coated steel ardillon buckle

This article was first published in WOW.

Review: U-Boat Chimera Net Watch

Bronze dive watches are very much in vogue, and the U-Boat Chimera Net is the latest to join the fray. The timepiece has a 46mm case in naturally aged bronze, accentuated by a humongous crown and two equally imposing pushers on the left of the case, topped off with U-Boat’s signature protective lever. For an added layer of security, the sculpted pusher between the crown and its guard must be depressed to eject the crown from its recessed position before the date and time can be set.

To achieve the dial’s look, three sub-layers are imposed over each other, with the lowest made from laser-cut wire mesh. This affords a view of the U-77 modified Valjoux Top Soigné automatic movement underneath. The counters are laid out like the archetypal tri-compax chronograph, but with a twist – an additional 24-hour indicator has been included at seven o’clock.

The U-Boat Chimera Net’s design is clearly larger than life, and its technical aspects back things up, with an over-engineered slant that’s visually apparent in several places. To improve water resistance, the bezel and back of the case are locked together by external tubing, while the flat crystal on the back is sealed with two gaskets. The thick hand-finished calf leather strap makes for a very macho complement to this heavyweight bruiser, which is limited to 300 pieces.

Specs

Dimensions: 46mm

Functions: Hours, minutes, date, chronograph, 24-hour counter with day/night indicator

Movement: U-77 Vlajoux Top Soigné automatic chronograph calibre with 24-hour indicator

Case: Full bronze or bronze and blackened steel

Water Resistance: 100 meters

Strap: Brown calfskin leather with steel tongue and bronze inserts

This article was first published in WOW.

Review: Hermès Arceau Tigre Watch

On the metiers d’art front this year, Hermès has unveiled the stunning Arceau Tigre, created in partnership with the husband-and-wife team of Olivier and Dominique Vaucher. The timepiece marks the first time the shaded enamel (enamel ombrant) technique is used in watchmaking, and sports the motif of a tiger in the likeness of an illustration by Robert Dallet, an artist with whom Hermès collaborated in the 1980s.Arceau-Tigre-Email-Enamel-JohannSauty

As a technique, shaded enamel is derived from lithophanes – thin and translucent porcelain plates that display three-dimensional images when backlit. The design on a lithophane is formed by the porcelain’s varying thickness, which lets different amounts of light through to create this effect. In the Arceau Tigre, ambient light is used instead; to create the same effect, the tiger’s image is first carved in relief on a base of white gold, before translucent black enamel is applied over it and fired. This two-step process combines the best that each technique has to offer. The engraving is able to capture every nuance of Dallet’s original drawing, down to the individual strands of hair on the tiger. Enamelling, on the other hand, accentuates the engraving’s depth, as deeper parts of the engraving contain a thicker layer of enamel and appear correspondingly darker. The final product is an extremely lifelike recreation of a tiger that looks three-dimensional despite the smooth dial surface.Arceau-Tigre-Gravure-Engraving_JohannSauty

Housed in the asymmetric Arceau case, the timepiece has a simple two-hand layout that maximises the view of the dial art. The Arceau Tigre is limited to just 12 pieces worldwide.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 41mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes
  • Power Reserve: 50 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding Hermès H1837
  • Case: White gold
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Brown alligator with white gold ardillon buckle

This article was first published in WOW.

Review: Grand Seiko Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve

The Grand Seiko Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve is the first Grand Seiko watch to be produced by the manufacture’s Micro Artist Studio, located in Shiojiri within central Japan’s Nagano prefecture. Although “Micro Artist Studio” isn’t a misnomer per se, the name is an understatement through and through – the team of specialists there represents the absolute best from Seiko, and are more than capable of going toe-to-toe with the best from Europe, whether in terms of movement assembly/finishing or metiers d’art techniques.

The Micro Artist Studio’s creations run the gamut from the three-hand, time-only Credor Eichi II to the ultra-complicated Credor Spring Drive Minute Repeater. What’s common to these timepieces has always been their impeccable quality both inside and outside, and the new Grand Seiko Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve is no different. From the front, one immediately notices the mirror polish on the platinum case, which was achieved using an adapted zaratsu technique originally used in polishing Japanese blades.

In contrast with it, the dial sports a fine speckled texture that sparkles like freshly fallen snow, a finishing that Seiko calls diamond dust. The usual hallmarks of a Grand Seiko timepiece have been preserved here, from the facetted hour and minute hands, to the seconds hand that is shaped like a tapered lance.Grand-Seiko-Spring-Drive-8-Day-Power-Reserve-caseback

Flip the watch over, and the new 9R01 Spring Drive calibre presents itself, with the power reserve indicator at three o’clock. At 37mm, the movement is rather large, and fills the case properly without the need for spacer rings. Calibre 9R01 uses three barrels connected in parallel to achieve a power reserve of eight days and, as a hybrid Spring Drive movement, is capable of being accurate to +/- 10 seconds a month.

In the 9R01, Seiko has opted to use a single large plate in lieu of individual bridges and cocks. This makes assembling the movement far more challenging, as all the components underneath the plate must fit perfectly. A single plate, however, provides a rigid platform that’s almost like a second mainplate – all the movement parts are thus sandwiched more securely with no play between them.

Although the plate blocks the view into the movement, much can still be seen. Note, for instance, how the outline of the plate from nine to one o’clock has been shaped to resemble Mt. Fuji. Jewel bearings and blued screws aside, the movement plate also has holes that expose the wheels underneath it, all to evoke the lights of the city of Suwa, which is near the Artist Micro Studio’s home.

Specs

Dimensions: 43mm

Functions: Hours, minutes, central seconds, power reserve indicator (caseback)

Power Reserve: 8 Days

Movement: Manual-winding Seiko 9R01 Spring Drive

Case: Platinium

Water Resistance: 100 meters

Strap: Black alligator with platinium deployant buckle

This article was first published in WOW.

Review: Breguet Hora Mundi Watch

When the Classique Hora Mundi 5717 watch was launched, it stood out with its depiction of the world’s continents on a silvered gold dial. This year, the Breguet Classique Hora Mundi 5727 is introduced with the same complication, but without its predecessor’s visual representation of the continents – the dial bears clou de Paris guilloché instead. More engine-turning work is found on the 24-hour sub-dial, whose upper and lower halves, which correspond to the day and night, show the flame and cross weave motifs respectively.

The new iteration may be powered by the same engine underneath the dial, but it looks completely different, and arguably more wearable in everyday settings.

Breguet holds four patents associated with the Hora Mundi thanks to its unique complication, which is programmed to track and display the time in two cities on demand. When the crown at eight o’clock is pushed, the watch’s hour hand, 24-hour indicator, and date display at 12 o’clock simultaneously change from one preselected time zone to the other. Setting these two desired time zones is easily done by pulling the same crown out and turning it forwards or backwards until the desired city appears in the window at six o’clock.

The previous Hora Mundi, 5717, measures 43mm wide and 13.55mm thick. The new version, 5727, has the same diameter but clocks in at a slightly thinner 12.6mm. It is available in either white or rose gold.

Specifications

Dimensions: 43mm

Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, 24-hour counter, instant time zone jump on demand

Power Reserve: 55 hours

Movement: Self-winding Breguet Calibre 77FO with instant time zone jump on demand; 55-hour power reserve

Material: Rose or white gold

Water Resistance: 30 meters

Strap Brown or black alligator with rose or white gold ardillon buckle

This story was first published in World of Watches.

Story Credits

Text by Ruckdee Chotjinda

Space Cowboy: Bell & Ross BR-X1 Hyperstellar

Bell & Ross decided this year that space cowboys could use a chronograph to call their own, so enter the BR-X1 Hyperstellar. Its moon-grey titanium case with anodised blue aluminum inserts houses a skeletonized automatic chronograph movement that’s perfect for the journey into deep space.

The movement skeletonization makes sense in this context, as it strips all non-essential mass away to ensure that the spacefarer’s payload is optimised for launch. The black DLC-treated upper bridge is still formed in the shape of an “X” – both a variable and an unknown – and its push-buttons will suit the thick gloves used by astronauts. A rubber grip has also been integrated into the case for greater ease of handling. Application of Super-LumiNova in all the right spots such as the hour and minute hands and indexes enhances legibility. The rim of the minute totalizer, tachymeter, and bezel have all been executed in a distinctive cerulean hue for lonely and homesick mission specialists to remind themselves of the Blue Marble – home.

The appeal of the watch is accentuated by a titanium case back that now boasts a circular aperture, through which the cadence of the balance wheel can be appreciated. To secure the watch to the wrist in zero gravity, a hybrid strap of alligator leather and grey rubber, with a steel pin buckle, is provided.

This advancement of the BR-X1 is technically well crafted, and will certainly appeal to enthusiasts with a penchant for space exploration. It comes in a limited edition of 250 pieces.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 45mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph
  • Power Reserve: Not available
  • Movement: Self-winding Calibre BR-CAL.313
  • Materials: Titanium and anodised blue aluminum
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters
  • Strap: Black alligator leather and grey rubber with steel pin buckle

This article was first published in WOW.

Review: Frederique Constant Perpetual Calendar

Ah, the perpetual calendar. For this high complication, the name of the game is convenience – assuming that the watch is kept running, its calendar displays will not require any adjustment until 1 March 2100. The devil’s in the details though; like the chronograph, a perpetual calendar can be executed in varying levels of complexity, from modules tacked onto base movements to integrated ones that trade greater complexity for thinness.

As modular perpetual calendars become increasingly common, much of the barriers to entry of owning such a watch have been steadily worn down. With talk of value dominating BaselWorld this year, Frederique Constant’s Slimline Manufacture Perpetual Calendar was a case of perfect timing, as the most aggressively priced perpetual calendar watch on the market yet.

Frederique_Constant_2016_Perpetual_Calendar_Manufacture_white-dial-close-up

Visually, the Slimline Manufacture Perpetual Calendar isn’t a radical departure from the archetypal perpetual calendar, with a typical layout of three sub-dials and a separate aperture to display the moon phase. However, the perfect spacing between these elements – neither clustered at the dial’s centre nor spread too far out towards its edge – hints at a movement specifically developed for the watch, rather than an off-the-shelf solution. Indeed, the perpetual calendar module was developed in-house with a keen eye on the case and dial dimensions to achieve this balance, while also keeping its ease of assembly in mind, according to the brand’s design director Pim Koeslag.

Its development has taken the brand around three years to finalise but it paid off handsomely. A typical perpetual calendar movement that can take upwards of 30 hours to put together, but the assembly of the final calibre of the Slimline Manufacture Perpetual Calendar takes just two days. Quicker assembly naturally translates to lower costs, which has allowed Frederique Constant to offer such a compelling value proposition. With options in both steel and rose gold-plated steel, haute horlogerie has just gotten a little more affordable.

Frederique_Constant_2016_Perpetual_Calendar_Manufacture_white-dial

Specs

  • Dimensions: 42mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, perpetual calendar and moon phase display
  • Power Reserve: 38 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding Frederique Constant Manufacture Calibre FC-775
  • Case: Steel or rose gold-plated steel
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Black, brown, or navy alligator with stainless steel or rose gold-plated steel deployant buckle

 

This story was first published in World of Watches Magazine.

Real Steel: Jacquet Droz Grande Seconde Off-Centered

When it comes to watch cases, precious metals have always been a welcome option; who can argue against the warmth of red or yellow gold, each with its own distinctive flavor? Construct the case in good ol’ steel, however, and the material costs of the watch plunges while its technical and design details remain intact. For a manufacture that’s seeking more broad-based appeal, it is a very attractive option, especially given the negligible costs associated with maintaining a few new references within a collection. Jaquet Droz has done exactly that with the Grande Seconde Off-Centered watch this year, by introducing two new variants in steel.

The BaselWorld release of the Grande Seconde Off-Centered timepiece features a slightly busier silver opaline dial, in contrast to its sibling with an onyx dial, which was unveiled a month before. Aesthetically, this makes it less austere and arguably more versatile, although the general design details remain the same – compared to the Grande Seconde collection, movements in the watches here appear to have been rotated within their cases by about 40 degrees clockwise. The crown is thus positioned at four o’clock, while the sub-dials forming the figure “8” are now offset and asymmetric. This quirk in the sub-dials’ positioning is matched by other minutiae, such as how the hour indexes are rendered in Arabic rather than Roman numerals where the two counters overlap.

On the technical front, the new references remain identical to the rest of the collection’s watches. A self-winding movement powers each Grande Seconde Off-Centered timepiece, with two barrels to provide a going time of 68 hours to ensure that the watch is still ticking even after being unworn over the weekend. The balance spring and pallet fork of the movement are made of silicon, and thus impervious to magnetism and temperature fluctuations. For the latter, friction is also reduced with the use of this material.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 43mm
  • Power Reserve: 68 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding Jacquet Droz 2663A.P calibre
  • Case: Steel
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Black alligator with steel deployant buckle

 

  • This story was first published in World of Watches Magazine.

Dual Identity: Sinn 910 Anniversary

Sinn may be best known for its over-engineered technical timepieces aimed at specialists such as divers, pilots, and even fire fighters, but the brand has a classier side too. The Frankfurt Financial District collection, for instance, consists of dressier watches with complications that cater to the business environment, such as the calendar week and GMT displays. For its 55th anniversary, the brand has melded influences from both these ends of the spectrum to create the 910 Anniversary, a classic-looking chronograph that doesn’t scrimp on the technical details.

At first sight, the 910 Anniversary harks back to vintage chronographs of yore, with a bi-compax dial in grey and beige punctuated by bits of red, and a total absence of luminous coating. The mushroom-shaped crown and pushers further accentuate its traditional styling, although a closer look will reveal several modern details. Note, for one, how the minute and hour hands are similar to those used in existing Sinn pilot watches, instead of vintage chronographs’ leaf- or Breguet-shaped hands. The double tachymeter scale, which allows rates as low as 30 units per hour to be measured, is also unusual, even for modern timepieces.

Sinn is no stranger to adapting movements extensively to suit its needs. In the EZM10, for example, the Valjoux 7750’s chronograph minute totaliser was modified into a jumping hand positioned at the dial’s centre for improved legibility. For the 910 Anniversary, Sinn pulled off a similar coup by modifying the same movement, but into a column wheel controlled rattrapante chronograph instead. This accounts for the additional pusher at eight o’clock – actuating it stops the split-seconds hand for the intermediate time to be read and recorded, while a second press sends it forward to move in sync with the chronograph seconds hand again.

What would a rattrapante chronograph like this cost, given that it’s also limited to 300 pieces worldwide? The answer is a surprising “not too much”; the 910 Anniversary has a list price that is definitely a bargain for what one is getting.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 41.5mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, split-seconds chronograph
  • Movement: Self-winding modified Valjoux 7750
  • Case: Steel
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters
  • Strap: Brown leather or stainless steel bracelet

 

This story was first published in World of Watches Magazine.