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The Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Hour with a 42-millimetre palladium case

Cartier watches from SIHH 2017: Novelty timepiece Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Hour

The Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Hour with a 42-millimetre palladium case

The Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Hour with a 42-millimetre palladium case

Here’s an experiment for you: Let’s assume that a sheet of paper represents the entirety of watches in the market. A circle the size of a can bottom should represent those with off-centered time indications, while skeletonised watches should fit within another circle of roughly the same size. Following this, the meagre population of mysterious watches should occupy a space not larger than a pill. In that tiny, tiny space where these three circles intersect, what watch would we find? Obviously, it is the Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Hour watch and, needless to say, it is the only watch there. Such is the extent of the uniqueness offered by this SIHH 2017 novelty.

The mysterious hour indication is a mechanical art of illusions — horological legerdemain if you will — famously associated with Cartier. While not as eye-catching as the tourbillon or as deeply choreographic as the perpetual calendar, the complication is magical in its own way.

Cartier produced its first mysterious clock in 1912 with the hour and the minute hands seemingly floating in the air; they are in fact borne by one sapphire disc each. These discs would have teeth on their circumference so they can be engaged and turned by the specially designed movement. Cartier has since miniaturised the mechanism to fit in wristwatches, and a reasonable variety of mysterious watches were offered in recent years.

More importantly, this Rotonde de Cartier piece marks the first time a mysterious watch from the French Maison is skeletonised to reveal the movement parts responsible for the magic of time display. Cartier is no stranger to this art, having first experimented with it in the 1930s. Then, in 2009, the firm developed its hallmark style of skeletonisation in the shape of Roman numerals, which is put to good use here. As the time display is off-centered to the left, the different numbers are radially elongated to fill the space from the sapphire discs to the inner cavity of the case. And in the true Cartier form, the crown is set with a prominent sapphire cabochon.

As watch buyers, we often ask the manufactures to deliver the kind of spectacles that will delight and surprise us. The Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Hour watch is exactly that, with curiosity-provoking techniques and sober aesthetics that are never boring. It is not a loud timepiece, but the impact it has on the observers can be lasting, as is the joy it brings to its owner.

Specifications

Movement Manual-winding Calibre 9983 MC
Power Reserve 48-hour
Case 42-millimetre palladium
Water Resistance Up to 30 metres
Strap Black alligator strap with white gold folding buckle
Price Unavailable

This article was originally published in WOW.

Grisaille enamel painting for Van Cleef & Arpels’s Midnight Nuit Boréale

Six Enamelling Techniques used for luxury watch making, from Patek Philippe to Cartier, Hermès and more

Enamelling at Swiss watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne

Enamelling at Swiss watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne

Enamelling is a tedious process, to put it mildly. The raw material must first be ground into a fine powder, then mixed with a suitable medium (oils or water are both used) to form a paint-like emulsion. This liquid is then applied like paint, before being fired in a kiln to vitrify it the medium evaporates, while the powder melts and fuses into glass. There are variations to these steps, of course. Some manufactures, for example, choose to sieve the power directly onto a base of either brass or gold, and fire this “layer” of powder directly. Whatever the process, every step is fraught with danger. The product may crack during the firing process. Unseen impurities may surface as imperfections. Colours may react in unexpected ways. There are numerous risks to endure. Why, then, does this technique continue to be used in watchmaking?

Despite all its drawbacks, enamel still has a depth and nuance that cannot be replicated anywhere else. It is also permanent vitrified enamel is essentially inert and, like noble metals, remains unchanged even a century from now. Different enamelling techniques are capable of creating a wide spectrum of products as well, from a single large surface free of blemishes, to microscopic levels of detail as part of a painting. Perhaps the romantic aspect of this metiers d’art also accounts for part of its appeal; the time and touch of the enamellist is the perfect counterpoint to the watchmaker, with art on one side and science on the other.

Variations on a Theme

Enamels are fired at various temperatures or not at all depending on their types. Grand feu (literally “great fire”) enamel is fired at around 820 degrees Celsius, although intermediate firings to “set” it may be at around 100 degrees Celsius, to boil the solvent off without fusing the powder. Enamels in general, including those used in miniature painting, may also be fired at around 100 degrees Celsius instead. Finally, there is cold enamel, an epoxy resin that cures and hardens at room temperature.

There are no hard and fast rules to the craft; every enamellist has his/her own materials and approach

There are no hard and fast rules to the craft; every enamellist has his/her own materials and approach

What difference does it make? For a start, higher temperatures are definitely more difficult to work with, since the enamel may crack during firing, or the subsequent cooling down process. The spectrum of colours used in grand feu enamelling is also more limited, as there are fewer compounds that can withstand the temperature. The choice of technique boils down to the desired product for all its drawbacks, grand feu enamel has an inimitable look.

Seiko’s Presage SRQ019 chronograph with white enamel dial

Seiko’s Presage SRQ019 chronograph with white enamel dial

Enamels, porcelains, and lacquers all share common properties of hardness, durability, and the ability to take on both matte and polished finishes. The three aren’t interchangeable though. Lacquer is an organic finish that is applied in layers, with each successive coat curing at room temperature before the next is added. Porcelain is a ceramic that is produced by firing materials in a kiln to vitrify them. Although enamel is also fired, it only contains glass and colouring compounds and lacks porcelain’s clay content.

Raised Fields

In champlevé enamelling, a thick dial base is engraved to create hollow cells, before these cavities are filled with enamel and fired. Because the engraving step produces rough surfaces at the bottom of each cell, the champlevé technique typically uses only opaque enamels. The method allows areas on the dial to be selectively excavated, and for enamels to be mixed freely within each dial. This is done to great effect in Piaget’s Emperador Coussin XL Large Moon Enamel watch, where the gold dial is largely untouched for the “continents”, while the “oceans” are created in champlevé enamel, with differing shades of blue to convey their varying depths.

An excavated cell in Ulysse Nardin’s Classico Goat being filled with enamel using the champlevé technique

An excavated cell in Ulysse Nardin’s Classico Goat being filled with enamel using the champlevé technique

Champlevé enamelling’s use isn’t limited to creating decorative art. In Parmigiani Fleurier’s Tecnica Ombre Blanche, for instance, it was simply the most appropriate technique. Although the timepiece has a simple white enamel dial, its surface is interrupted by three sub-dials and an aperture for the tourbillon. Using champlevé enamelling here allowed each dial element to have a clearly defined border without adding unnecessary thickness. A possible alternative would be to make a complete enamel dial, before cutting out the appropriate sections in the middle. One can, however, imagine the risks of doing that.

Patek Philippe’s Ref. 6002 combines champlevé and cloisonné enamelling

Patek Philippe’s Ref. 6002 combines champlevé and cloisonné enamelling

Is there a limit to the level of details that can be achieved with champlevé enamel? Patek Philippe may have the answer with the Ref. 6002 Sky Moon Tourbillon. Apart from the centre portion, which is produced using the cloisonné technique (discussed later), its dial is a work of champlevé enamel even the railway track chapter ring was milled out in relief, before the recesses are filled with enamel and fired.

Engraving isn’t necessarily the only way to produce the cells used in champlevé enamel though. Hublot puts a modern twist on things with the Classic Fusion Enamel Britto, by stamping the white gold dial base to create the raised borders between the cells. This not only reduces the time needed for each dial but also ensures uniformity between them. Subsequent steps, however, remain unchanged the cells were sequentially filled with different colours of enamel and fired multiple times before the entire dial surface is polished to form a uniformly smooth surface.

Wire Work

Cloisonné enamelling is almost like the opposite of the champlevé technique instead of removing material from a dial blank, things are added on it instead. The “cloisons” (literally “partitions”) here refer to the wires, each no thicker than a human hair, that the enamellist bends into shape and attaches onto a base to create enclosed cells. These cells are then filled with enamel of different colours before the dial is fired to fuse the powder. The wires remain visible in the final product, and look like outlines of a drawing, with a metallic sheen that contrasts with the glassy surfaces of the enamel.

Wires are shaped and attached to a dial to form cells, before enamel is painted in

Wires are shaped and attached to a dial to form cells, before enamel is painted in

Plique-à-jour (“letting in daylight”) enamel can be considered a variation of cloisonné enamel, but the technique is a lot rarer owing to its complexity and fragility. Like its cloisonné sibling, plique-à-jour enamelling involves creating enclosed cells using wires, before filling them with enamel. In this case, however, there is no base. The lack of a backing can be achieved in various ways, but usually involves working on a base layer à la cloisonné enamelling, before filing it away to leave just the wires holding onto vitrified enamel. Since there is no base, plique-à-jour enamelling almost always involves transparent or translucent enamel that allows light through, which essentially creates tiny stained glass windows.

A dial in cloisonné enamel is in the making

A dial in cloisonné enamel is in the making

Van Cleef & Arpels has used the above technique to great effect. In the Lady Arpels Jour Nuit Fée Ondine watch, a 24-hour module rotates a graduated lower dial once a day to mimic Earth’s diurnal rhythm, while an upper dial with elements executed in plique-à-jour enamel forms the foreground. The watch thus creates an ever-changing scene that mimics the rising and setting of the sun and moon, with the appropriate shades of blue for the sky and water, depending on the time of the day.

Hybrid Theory

There are several “hybrid” techniques that combine enamelling with other decorative arts, and flinqué enamelling is arguably the best known given its long history of use. The technique combines guillochage with enamelling a brass or gold dial is first decorated with guilloché, before layers of enamel are successively applied and fired. When this enamel coating is sufficiently thick, it is polished to create a smooth surface; the final result is a translucent lens through which the guilloché is admired. Depending on the desired effect, the enamel used may be colourless to impart a subtle sheen, or coloured for more visual oomph, like the trio of limited edition Rotonde de Cartier high complications unveiled at Watches & Wonders 2015. Vacheron Constantin has even adapted the technique by using guilloché patterns to mimic woven fabrics in the Métiers d’Art Elégance Sartoriale.

Enamel being applied to the engraved white gold base on the Hermès Arceau Tigre

Enamel being applied to the engraved white gold base on the Hermès Arceau Tigre

Developed by the husband-and-wife team of Olivier and Dominique Vaucher, shaded enamel (email ombrant) also involves the application of translucent enamel over an engraved dial. Instead of a regular pattern à la guilloché, however, shaded enamel entails the creation of an image in relief. In the Hermès Arceau Tigre, the likeness of the animal is first carved into a white gold base, before translucent black enamel is applied and fired. A thicker layer of enamel accumulates in areas where the engraving is deeper and appears darker as a result the shading corresponds to the depth of the enamel, which creates an extremely lifelike product.

Cartier Ballon Bleu de Cartier Enamel Granulation with Panther Motif

Cartier Ballon Bleu de Cartier Enamel Granulation with Panther Motif

The final technique here is Cartier’s enamel granulation, which combines enamelling with Etruscan granulation originally used by goldsmiths. The craft requires multiple steps and is extremely tedious, to say the least. Enamel is first worked into threads of different diameters before these threads are chipped off bit by bit to form beads of various sizes. The beads are then sorted by colour and applied to the dial successively to assemble an image, with intermediate firings to set and fuse the enamel. As different colours of enamel fuse at different temperatures, there is a clearly defined order for the assembly process; up to 30 firings are necessary, and each dial requires nearly a month to complete. Like shaded enamel, enamel granulation is a very recent development, and Cartier has only used it on one watch so far: the Ballon Bleu de Cartier Enamel Granulation with Panther Motif.

Metallic Content

Paillonné is among the rarest enamelling techniques today and practically synonymous with Jaquet Droz, which has maintained its expertise in this area. The manufacture currently has two full-time enamellists who don’t just produce enamel dials but also train artisans to perpetuate this know-how.

A paillon being applied to the coloured enamel “base”

A paillon being applied to the coloured enamel “base”

The “paillon” here refers to the small ornamental motifs that are created from gold leaf, and are the calling card of the technique. Essentially, paillonné enamelling involves setting paillons within enamel to form patterns, with regular geometric ones being the norm. To do so, a layer of coloured enamel is first fired to set it. Upon this layer, the paillons are positioned, before translucent enamel is applied and fired, thus “locking” the paillons in. Additional steps can be taken to create even more intricate designs. Before the coloured enamel layer is applied, for instance, the substrate surface may first be decorated with guilloché, which basically creates flinqué enamel that is then decorated with paillons over it. According to Jaquet Droz’s CEO Christian Lattmann, the textured base doesn’t just offer visual benefits but also helps the initial layer of coloured enamel to “stick” better. Lattmann also revealed that the choice of white or red gold as this base will impart a different tone to the finished product as well both because of its inherent colour and because of how the guillochage plays with light.

A watch from Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières collection, with applied precious metal powders on the enamelled surface

A watch from Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières collection, with applied precious metal powders on the enamelled surface

In lieu of regular patterns, Jaeger-LeCoultre opted for a twist on the technique, by distributing flecks of silver randomly on the dial instead. The result can be seen in the Hybris Artistica Duomètre Sphérotourbillon Enamel, whose enamel dial mimics the look of lapis lazuli. This technique was also used for the second dial of the Reverso One Duetto Moon.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Duetto Moon

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Duetto Moon

While not paillonné enamelling per se, Vacheron Constantin’s use of hand applied precious powder deserves a mention here. In the manufacture’s Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières timepieces, gold, platinum, diamond, and pearl powders are affixed to the surface of the enamel dial by Japanese enamel artisan Yoko Imai. Instead of being covered with a layer of enamel, these particles sit atop them, and catch the light variously to mimic a bird’s eye view of a city at night.

Brush Strokes

Enamel painting is simply painting with enamel pigments rather than some other medium. The technique is challenging not just due to the canvas’s size, which makes it miniature painting as well, but also because of the multiple firings needed to vitrify and set the enamels, colour by colour. Given the level of detail that can be achieved, however, this is one of the few techniques that are capable of making their subjects almost lifelike. Consider Slim d’Hermès Pocket Panthère, which has the eponymous animal rendered in this technique, for example. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso à Eclipse also showcases what enamel painting is capable of with its uncanny facsimile of Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait as a Painter on its dial.

Slim d’Hermès Pocket Panthère being painted. Image © Pierre-William Henry

Slim d’Hermès Pocket Panthère being painted. Image © Pierre-William Henry

Grisaille enamel can be considered a subset of enamel painting, and is a specific method of painting white on black to create monochromic imagery. The black canvas is grand feu enamel that must first be applied, fired, and then polished to create a perfectly smooth surface that’s free of imperfections. This preparatory step is, in and of itself, already very challenging, as minute flaws are extremely easy to spot on such a surface this explains why most watch brands offer white enamel dials, but black onyx or lacquer dials instead of enamel. Upon this black canvas, the enamellist paints using Blanc de Limoges, which is a white enamel whose powder is more finely ground than normal. To create micro details, fine brushes, needles, and even cactus thorns are used, and the dial is painted and fired multiple times to create the nuanced paintings grisaille enamel is known for.

Grisaille enamel painting for Van Cleef & Arpels’s Midnight Nuit Boréale

Grisaille enamel painting for Van Cleef & Arpels’s Midnight Nuit Boréale

Owing to its complexity, grisaille enamel is rarely seen. There are brands that still offer metiers d’art watches with them though, sometimes with their own take on the technique. In its Métiers d’Art Hommage à l’Art de la Danse collection, Vacheron Constantin opted to use translucent brown enamel for the dial base to impart a greater sense of depth, while softening the contrast between the two colours. Van Cleef & Arpels used a midnight blue base in its Midnight Nuit Boréale and Nuit Australe timepieces instead, to evoke the night sky.

This article was originally published in WOW.

Luxury watches made of steel: 6 stunning timepieces fetching higher prices from IWC, Ulysse Nardin and more

Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar

Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar

Steel-clad complications are no less precious than their counterparts in gold and platinum; they’ve merely skewed their value towards their movements and designs. In light of this, watchmakers have taken to releasing steel watches at even higher price points than watches made of more precious metals. Here are our six picks of steel timepieces for watch aficionados.

IWC Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Spitfire, S$47,300

IWC Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Spitfire

IWC Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Spitfire

Here are the two most useful complications to have. On one hand, the perpetual calendar minimises its owner’s involvement by accounting for differing lengths of the months automatically to display the correct date  at least until 2100. On the other hand, the chronograph encourages more fiddling, to time any and every event that its wearer encounters. Combine them with an eye on symmetry and a premium on legibility, and a winning package emerges. Hidden beneath the dial are other technical complexities, such as a seven-day power reserve, and a date-change mechanism that sends four discs jumping simultaneously at the end of every year.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duo, S$17,600

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duo

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duo

What better way to display a second time zone than on another face? The Reverso Tribute Duo tells local time via its main face, which has a white grained dial set with blue hands and indexes in an unmistakably Art Deco execution. Swivel the case around, and the flip side presents a dial that’s almost like a film negative of the main one blue is the dominant colour here instead, accentuated by silver hands and dial markings. In lieu of a small seconds display, the sub-dial
on the reverse is a day/night indicator.

Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar, S$17,900

Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar

Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar

The PanoMaticLunar is an exercise in asymmetry. Its dial elements may all be off-centre, but they form a pleasing whole thanks to their exacting positioning vis-à-vis each other. There are, for instance, two vertical (and invisible) lines running down the dial, one connecting the centres of the hour/minute and small second indicators, and the other linking the large date and moon phase displays. In turn, the lines are joined by another perfectly horizontal one that bisects the small second and large date displays. This nuanced arrangement was, according to Glashütte Original, inspired by the Golden Ratio. Closer study will reveal myriad other details on the dial, produced in-house by the manufacture’s facility in Pforzheim.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar, S$20,100

Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar

Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar

The Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar sports classic styling via its dial and hands to hark back to Ulysse Nardin’s past as a maker of marine chronometers, which contributed to transoceanic navigation. The movement beating within the timepiece is decidedly modern though, beginning with a silicium escapement and hairspring. Another fresh development here is the annual calendar that required just three additional wheels on top of the simple calendar mechanism, which has itself been pared down from 30-odd to around a dozen components. The result? Greatly improved convenience, as the date needs to be corrected just once a year. A chronograph function bumps up its appeal.

Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Watch with Large Date, Retrograde Second Time Zone, and Day/Night Indicator, S$12,800

Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Watch with Large Date, Retrograde Second Time Zone, and Day/Night Indicator

Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Watch with Large Date, Retrograde Second Time Zone, and Day/Night Indicator

This is a Cartier through and through; there’s no mistaking the classical styling that stems from the combination of minutiae here. Note for instance the Roman numeral indexes, the railway track chapter ring, and the silvered dial with a flinqué guilloché pattern. The remaining elements lend a fancier edge to the timepiece, beginning with a large date display at 12 o’clock. The second time zone complication takes things further with its atypical execution a retrograde indicator for the hour, which is paired with a separate day/night indicator.

Frédérique Constant Manufacture Worldtimer, S$5,400

Frédérique Constant Manufacture Worldtimer

Frédérique Constant Manufacture Worldtimer

A worldtimer complication isn’t exceedingly difficult to produce. Creating a worldtimer timepiece, however, is anything but, thanks to the sheer amount of information that must be presented on the dial harmoniously. Frédérique Constant has pulled it off here, and even managed to put various touches on the dial to increase its visual punch. A high contrast blue and white colour scheme ensures legibility, with dashes of red to anchor the GMT and Daylight Saving Time indications. The dial itself is built in tiers; the central world map is elevated above the cities and hour rings, while the date display is layered over it at six o’clock.

Credits

Photography GreenPlasticSoldiers
Art Direction
Joaelle Ng

This was originally published in WOW. We thank WatchesbySJX for insight given on the overall prices of steel watches in the luxury watch industry.

Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon: A look inside this new luxury chiming watch debuting at SIHH 2017

Chiming watches remain the most charming of all mechanical timepieces, mostly because they are discreet pleasures. After all, with a minute repeater for example, the beauty is in what it sounds like and the wearer is likely the only person who knows for sure. Visually, these rarefied watches that sound out the time often look like time-only pieces, with only the sliding piece on the case giving away the game. Skeletonising offers, to date, the best chance to transform a minute repeater into a feast for the eye as well as the ear. For 2017, the Cartier manufacture at La Chaux-de-Fonds clearly thinks it can do better.

With this striking timepiece, the Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon, the Cartier watchmakers have created a mechanical wristwatch that has never existed in any form, anywhere. This is the first time a mysterious flying double tourbillon has joined forces with a minute repeater (which is skeletonized to boot). In fact, to our knowledge, this is the first time a mysterious indication of time has been seen alongside a skeletonised minute repeater.

Now, Carole Forestier-Kasapi and her team are no strangers to repeaters and Cartier is certainly the only major brand to associate itself with the mysterious watch – a tradition dating back to the clocks of Louis Cartier in 1902. Creating a cohesive watch out of old traditions and new know-how is where Cartier excels and where the brand often adds value to watchmaking as a whole. To put it another way, Cartier may not innovate by tradition but it certainly makes innovation in watchmaking seem like a proud tradition, a beautiful one at that.

calibre 9407 MC

Calibre 9407 MC

“We don’t have a long experience in fine watchmaking. We wanted to do things differently. This fact probably makes our watches appealing to the client. And our watches are beautiful! You know, just because we make technical watches doesn’t mean the watches have to be ugly. We have always had very good designers in the house of Cartier and this is one of our strengths,” said Forestier-Kasapi.

She was speaking at that time, in 2012, about the Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon, powered by calibre 9402 MC. When you see the numbering in the new model, calibre 9407 MC, the provenance is clear, which you might have guessed from those dial-side hammers and gongs. Having said that, looking back at the various forms the Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon have taken at Cartier, there are clear differences here, made obvious by the open-worked movement and the position of the repeater push piece at 4 o’clock.

Triple Threat Pre-SIHH Novelties

We should say at the outset that Cartier never does anything by halfway measures so the Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon is only one of three novelties to be revealed prior to SIHH 2017. The others are the Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Hour and the Panthere Joueuse de Cartier, which are certainly winning propositions in their own right but we’ll have to address those in another issue, possibly when we look at the SIHH novelties in full or in a shoot sometime next year.

Minute Repeater Mechanism

Minute Repeater Mechanism

Turning back to the multi-complication of the pre-SIHH releases, Cartier definitely wants to window to show off this new watch before the onslaught of novelties begins. Truly, the virtues of the watch are obvious even as the mysterious mechanism remains fully, well, mysterious. Casual observers have already noted how well the calibre 9407 MC preserves the secrets of the mysterious flying double tourbillon, which it does. The visual pleasure of watching the tourbillon make a circuit in one minute, and then the entire assembly rotate in five minutes is delectable, as we have already seen with the Rotonde Mysterious Double Tourbillon in 2013.

The repeater portion of this calibre, which occupies the remaining 61% of calibre 9407 MC, is another matter. Doing a multi-complication is great and everything but does it compromise the quality of the delicate chiming mechanism? First of all, the many watchmakers we have spoken to over the years typically agree that adding a tourbillon to a movement with a minute repeater causes no problems overall and does not detract from the quality of the sound. In this particular instance, Cartier notes that the space for the double tourbillon is actually smaller than it was in the Rotonde Mysterious Double Tourbillon 9454 MC. This reduction of 1mm to 15.5mm was done to accommodate the repeater gongs.

Perfecting the Pitch

Ultimately, chiming watches must be judged on aural pleasure and that is entirely subjective. What we can highlight here is that Cartier has boiled down the essence of a successful minute repeater into four dimensions: intensity, tonality, tone and deadening. Those familiar with watches that strike the time will know a few more terms: volume, rhythm, harmony, pitch, duration, paired sounds and ready sounds… Happily, the Cartier manufacture’s approach with the Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon is refreshingly approachable.

On that note (no pun intended), it is important to bear in mind that this is a 45mm watch in grade 5 titanium while the gongs are in the usual steel as per Cartier’s other repeaters. The manufacture’s own notes suggest that titanium was chosen to reduce the case-gongs mass ratio for better acoustic transparency. As you might have guessed, the entire 45mm case acts as a resonance chamber for calibre 9407 MC. Cartier makes no other assertion on the choice of material for the case, in terms of its suitability for sounding the time in a sonorous fashion.

The Mysterious Cage

The Mysterious Cage

The manufacture does take some pains to establish that it has tried its best to improve the transmission of vibrations from movement to case by creating no less than six points that the movement connects with the case. Four of these are via screws linking the movement and the case while two are screws that link the gongs themselves to the case (at 6 o’clock, in the middle of the hammers). If you are familiar with other Cartier repeaters, you might also recognize that the gongs present a square profile to the hammers at the point of contact, to increase the surface area that the hammers can work with. Cartier reports that this improves the vibration velocity.

The low-pitched gong (tourbillon-side) sounds the hours and is calibrated to strike in B (5th octave). The high-pitched minutes gong is set to D (6th octave), by way of contrast. Low-pitch and high-pitch notes are separated by 10 dB, which seems like a good split. Interestingly, the intensity of the notes has been clocked at 66dB, as opposed to the 68dB of the previous Cartier repeaters. You will of course appreciate the quality of the sound is more important here than the actual intensity, given that the difference is a mere 2dB. That quality is assured here – as in all Cartier repeaters – by the use of a flying inertial governor instead of the more traditional recoil anchor. The governor has been moved from its position in 9402 MC, in single axis with the tourbillon and gongs to a spot just below the mysterious double tourbillons.

As for the actual quality of the sound, for the moment we only have the specifications from Cartier to go on but we might update on the actual sound quality online from SIHH 2017 itself. See you there.

Specifications

Movement Manual winding calibre 9407 MC, with mysterious double flying tourbillon and minute repeater; 84 hours power reserve

Case 45mm grade 5 titanium

Strap Black “Gomma” alligator

VACHERON CONSTANTIN Overseas Small Model in pink gold; TORY BURCH Trocadero wrap dress

Tiara Shaw shows us how to accessorise for every occasion

A popular fixture in the local society scene, Tiara Shaw is much more than the charismatic other half of Shaw Organisation executive vice-president Mark Shaw. The mother of one currently splits her time working in real estate as a Savills Residential sales director, jetting around the world, attending film festivals and business trips with her husband, and managing her start-up boutique wellness-travel portal, Om & Away. Sassy and chic, Tiara shows us her flair in clever accessorising for any occasion about town.

Big on Bulgaribulgari-serpenti

BVLGARI Serpenti tubogas pink gold necklace and earrings with pavé-set diamond scales; BOTTEGA VENETA lurex and wool jacket and pants, soft lurex bra, lurex and viscose scarf, Tippie Mary Jane pumps

Statement Maker
The intense and vibrant deep green beauty of the emerald makes it one of my favourite gemstones

The intense and vibrant deep green beauty of the emerald makes it one of my favourite gemstones

CHOPARD Red Carpet collection necklace with a 95.89-carat heart-shaped emerald and 61.4 carats of diamonds, High Jewellery earclips with 8.96 and 7.5 carats of pear-shaped diamonds on each side surrounded by more diamonds, High Jewellery solitaire ring with a 14.36-carat D-colour, Internally Flawless marquise-cut diamond surrounded by more diamonds; MIU MIU velluto coat, cashmere vest

Chromatic Queencartier-galanterie-de-cartier

CARTIER Galanterie de
Cartier white gold earrings, ring with black lacquer and diamonds, Galanterie de Cartier white gold necklace and bracelet with black lacquer, onyx, and diamonds, Love white gold bracelet with ceramic and diamonds; BOTTEGA VENETA silk organdy dress with paillettes and Swarovski embroidery

Respect for Heritagepatek-philippe

PATEK PHILIPPE Ladies’ Annual Calendar Ref. 4948G in white gold with mother-of-pearl dial; DKNY notched collar fitted jacket

Very Versatilevan-cleef-arpels

VAN CLEEF & ARPELS Bouton d’or pink gold necklace with diamonds, white mother-of-pearl, and carnelian, Perlée pink gold and diamonds ear studs, Perlée Couleurs pink gold between-the-finger ring with diamonds and carnelian; TORY BURCH Trocadero wrap dress

Winter Stylejaeger-lecoultre

JAEGER-LECOULTRE Reverso Classic Medium Duetto Ivy Red watch in pink gold with diamonds; CHAUMET Liens white gold necklace with an oval-cut ruby and diamonds, Joséphine Aube Printanière platinum ring with a pear-shaped ruby and diamonds; CH CAROLINA HERRERA wool coat and wool dress

Casual Elegancetiffany-co

TIFFANY & CO. Schlumberger Rope yellow gold and platinum two-row hoop earrings with diamonds, Schlumberger Rope yellow gold three-row X ring, Tiffany T yellow gold hinged wrap-bracelet with diamonds, Tiffany T yellow gold square bracelet; MONTBLANC Bohème Perpetual Calendar jewellery watch; CH CAROLINA HERRERA wool dress.

Credits:

Text by Yanni Tan
Photography Assistance Alfred Phang
Styling Assistance Joey Tan
Studio Assistance Stills Network Team
Hair Sha Shamsi/Indigo Artisans, using L’Oréal Professional
Makeup Cheryl Ow/Indigo Artisans, using Parfums Christian Dior

Tiffany & Co. Masterpieces 2016 Prism pendant necklace in platinum with 
tsavorite garnets and diamonds

13 Birthstones: Benefits of precious gems and where to find them

Add text.

January
Chanel Fine Jewellery Les Éternelles de Chanel Signature Garnet secret watch in white gold with a 39.9-carat cushion-cut red garnet, yellow sapphires, orange sapphires, spessartite garnets, and diamonds.

Chanel Fine Jewellery Les Éternelles de Chanel Signature Garnet secret watch in white gold with a 39.9-carat cushion-cut red garnet, yellow sapphires, orange sapphires, spessartite garnets, and diamonds. It is a unique piece equipped with a quartz movement

Garnet

Signifying eternal friendship and trust, the name garnet is derived from the Latin word “granatum”, which refers to the red seeds of the pomegranate. Apart from the red varieties, which were among the most ancient of healing talismans, garnet also comes in other colour types, the key ones being the orange-yellow spessartite and the bright green tsavorite.

February
Bvlgari Magnificent Inspirations Extravaganza necklace

Bvlgari Magnificent Inspirations Extravaganza necklace in pink gold with 12 sassi-cut amethysts totalling 344.25 carats, South Sea cultured pearls, emeralds, 
amethysts, spinels, and diamonds

Amethyst

Historically coveted by European royalty by virtue of its intoxicating purple and rarity then, the ever-popular amethyst was also used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to keep the wearer sober, sharp, and restraint. In fact, its name derives from the Greek word “amethystos”, which means “not drunken”.

March
Tiffany & Co. Blue Book collection Water Colours three-strand necklace

Tiffany & Co. Blue Book collection Water Colours three-strand necklace in platinum with 
a 52.80-carat cushion-cut aquamarine, tanzanites, green tourmalines, aquamarines, 
and diamonds

Aquamarine

Named for the Latin phrase “water of the sea”, the ethereal aquamarine was believed by the ancients to be the treasure of the mermaids, and by sailors as a talisman for protection and safe passage over water. The gem was also used to dispel gossip, and imbue the owner with a sense of
calm and confidence.

April
Cartier Magicien Illumination bracelet in white gold with one 31.16-carat D-colour, internally flawless emerald-cut diamond

Cartier Magicien Illumination bracelet in white gold with one 31.16-carat D-colour, internally flawless emerald-cut diamond, other diamonds in various cuts, and carved rock crystal.
The main diamond can be worn on a ring or replaced by a pavé diamond motif

Diamond

Adopted from the Greek work “adamas”, meaning “invincible”, diamond is symbolic of eternal love and strength today. The gem was referenced in Sanskrit texts as early as 400BC, and since antiquity, believed by various cultures to possess powers that range from therapy and healing, energy-boosting, to imparting balance and clarity of thought.

May
Van Cleef & Arpels Émeraude en Majesté Grand Opus transformable necklace

Van Cleef & Arpels Émeraude en Majesté Grand Opus transformable necklace in white gold with three old-mine Colombian emeralds (two are shown here) totalling 127.88 carats, diamonds, and white cultured pearls

Emerald

Emerald was a holy gemstone for many early civilisations, including the Egyptians and South Americans, and also revered by ancient royalty spanning the Greeks to Indians. A symbol of renewal and growth, the gem is believed to grant the owner youth, vision, and wisdom. Its name was derived from the Greek word “smaragdus”, for green.

June
Chaumet La Nature de Chaumet Le Chêne Racines Célestes transformable necklace

Chaumet La Nature de Chaumet Le Chêne Racines Célestes transformable necklace in white gold with an oval-cut pink spinel, cultured freshwater pearls, spinels, pink sapphires, and diamonds. This is the short version of the original long necklace that has a total of seven pink and violet spinels weighing 10.94, 8.40, 6.81, 6.80, 6.53, 5.29, and 1.87 carats

Pearl

Probably the first gem discovered by mankind to be used for adornment, pearl boasts a long and interesting legacy of mythical importance in countless civilisations, including the Romans and Tudors. Its natural form, colour, and radiance endowed it with a celestial quality, and it has become symbolic of innocence, purity, and virtue in modern history.

July
Chopard Red Carpet collection High Jewellery Necklace

Chopard Red Carpet collection High Jewellery Necklace with 33 cushion-shaped rubies 
totalling 64.12 carats, diamonds, and rubies of various cuts

Ruby

Symbolising passion, vitality, and wealth, the blood-red ruby was so fascinating and visceral in appeal to historical nobility, from Kublai Khan to the Indian maharajahs, that their obsession with it was the stuff of legends. Named from the Latin word “ruber” for “red”, the legendary gem is one of the oldest associated with royalty, and remains sought-after to this day.

August
Chanel Fine Jewellery Les Blés de Chanel Brins de Printemps earrings

Chanel Fine Jewellery Les Blés de Chanel Brins de Printemps earrings in white gold with 
two marquise-cut peridots totalling 10.4 carats, other peridots, green tourmalines, aquamarines, and diamonds

Peridot

Called chrysolite in early writings, peridot was believed to wield powers against nightmares and the dark forces, and bring the wearer influence and success. Named from the Arabic word “faridat” for “gem”, it is the national gemstone of Egypt as it was first discovered nearly 4,000 years ago on an Egypt-owned island in the Red Sea, where stones were mined for the kings.

September
Cartier Magicien Incantation necklace

Cartier Magicien Incantation necklace in platinum with one 22.84-carat cushion-cut
Sri Lankan blue sapphire and diamonds. The necklace can be worn inverted along 
its radius and the sapphire may be fitted onto a ring

Sapphire

The sky blue colour of sapphire endowed it with a divine quality, and naturally, it became a royal gem for many cultures tracing back to the Middle Ages. Since then, it has been associated with numerous virtues that range from devotion and loyalty, to wisdom, justice, and prophecy. Its name has roots in Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit, meaning “blue stone”.

October
Louis Vuitton Blossom High Jewellery ring in white gold with a 2.9-carat indicolite tourmaline set onto a 5.05-carat petal-shaped opal along with diamonds

Louis Vuitton Blossom High Jewellery ring in white gold with a 2.9-carat indicolite tourmaline set onto a 5.05-carat petal-shaped opal along with diamonds

Opal

Referring to its play-of-colour property, opal’s name was derived from the Greek word “opallos”, which means “to see a change of colour”. Its stunning visual quality led it to become a talisman for strengthening both one’s eyesight and higher consciousness.

October
Boucheron 26 Vendôme Passementerie necklace in pink and white gold with one 2.02-carat oval cabochon pink tourmaline, five rubellites totalling 35.53 carats, spessartite garnets, multi-cut pink tourmalines, multi-colour sapphires, diamonds, and a rock crystal

Boucheron 26 Vendôme Passementerie necklace in pink and white gold with one 2.02-carat oval cabochon pink tourmaline, five rubellites totalling 35.53 carats, spessartite garnets, multi-cut pink tourmalines, multi-colour sapphires, diamonds, and a rock crystal

Tourmaline

Also a birthstone for October, tourmaline is historically associated with matters of the heart, and stands for humanitarian love and positivity. The gem’s name, born of the old Sinhalese word “turmali” for “mixed colours”, reflects its many attractive colour varieties.

November
Chanel Fine Jewellery Sous le Signe du Lion Solaire brooch in white gold with with a 123.5-carat carved yellow citrine, a 7.8-carat cushion-cut orange topaz, 
diamonds, and yellow sapphires

Chanel Fine Jewellery Sous le Signe du Lion Solaire brooch in white gold with
with a 123.5-carat carved yellow citrine, a 7.8-carat cushion-cut orange topaz, 
diamonds, and yellow sapphires

Topaz & Citrine

A gemstone with many colour varieties, topaz was prized in antiquity, with the opulent orangey-pink stone hailed as the imperial topaz by the Russian tsars. It is supposed to possess a warm and gentle solar energy, and helps to soothe, stimulate, and recharge the owner. Because the yellow-orange topaz was historically thought to be the same as citrine, the latter has also come to be known as November’s birthstone too. Regarded as the “healing quartz”, it is believed to have a healthful, encouraging influence.

December
Bulgari Magnificent Inspirations Fiore ingenuo High Jewellery necklace in white gold 
with carved turquoise inserts, one 9.39-carat trillion-cut tanzanite, diamonds, 
moonstones, and blue sapphires

Bulgari Magnificent Inspirations Fiore ingenuo High Jewellery necklace in white gold 
with carved turquoise inserts, one 9.39-carat trillion-cut tanzanite, diamonds, 
moonstones, and blue sapphires

Turquoise

Another gem that pre-dates written history is turquoise, which was revered as an ornamental and ceremonial stone, especially in ancient Persian, Egyptian, and American civilisations. Its name came from the French expression “pierre tourques”, meaning “Turkish stone”, as it was first traded from Persia through Turkey to Europe in the 17th century.

Text by Yanni Tan

This article was first published in WOW.

Cartier Maison des Métiers d’Arts: A look inside the art of watchmaking

Over the last five years, the world of luxury watches has become that much more beautiful, thanks in no small part to the proliferation of traditional métiers d’arts, or artistic crafts, imbued into mechanical watches. While haute horlogerie is, in itself, an artistic craft, métiers d’arts bring the fine arts into watchmaking and they include hand engraving, miniature painting, grand feu enamel, gem setting, and more. Among the watch companies with the most profound interest and know-how of the métiers d’arts, the one that practices the widest repertoire of crafts, including the most arcane and age-old crafts, is undoubtedly Cartier.cartier-art-house

With a long and fabled history with the world of art that continues till today, it is only natural that the luxury maison gains full mastery of the métiers d’arts. What’s more surprising, though, is Cartier’s ability to blend technique with creativity and to marry lost arts with modern watchmaking. Also impressive is the extent to which Cartier is devoted to métiers d’arts. Now that they have become a major preoccupation of the maison, they deserve a dedicated space where the crafts are consolidated and artisans can work uninterrupted. Fittingly, Cartier calls this space Maison des Métiers d’Arts, or house of the artistic crafts.cartier-art-of-watchmaking

Consolidated Craftsmanship

Just a short distance away from Cartier’s magnificent manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds, what used to be a Bernese-style farm dating from the end of the 18th century is now the Cartier Maison des Métiers d’Arts. Considering how watchmaking used to be a part-time job for farmers in the winter when there are no crops to tend, this beautiful historical mansion is a perfectly chosen site. Cartier preserved as much of it as possible even as the interior has been refurbished with a modern framework – perhaps a metaphor for its gift for bridging the past and the present. All this becomes apparent as soon as you step into the mansion. Abundant light streaming in from the roof and open-worked gables lead one to think of the classical architecture of watch manufactures while wooden panelling and 18th century limestone flagstones, lime plaster, and period furnishing keep the spirit of the original building intact. Three rooms occupy the ground floor: Grand Salon, Petit Salon, and Salle de Présentation.cartier-traditional-machinery

Precious Metalworking

King of jewellers and jeweller of kings, Cartier prides itself on jewellery making know-how and the mansion’s first floor is given to all things gilded and glittery. Traditional gem setting and jewellery making are both accomplished here by Cartier’s master craftsmen and women, and motifs that are perennial favourites of the maison like the panther and the caiman, in addition to all manner of flora and fauna, sparkle with life. A painstaking process, the pieces are first rendered in an open-worked design drilled with cavities, which will eventually be studded with precious stones. It is the master gem-setter’s eye that decides which stone goes with which and then he carefully crafts the appropriate setting – prong, claw, collet, or bezel. The piece is polished several times throughout the crafting process, and is a consummate skill requiring years of experience to master.cartier-historical-pieces

In recent years, Cartier has expanded its repertoire of skills to include gold granulation and filigree work. To much critical acclaim, Cartier launched the Rotonde de Cartier Panther with Granulation in 2013, a watch that introduced a completely new craft to modern watchmaking. Having discovered the ancient Etruscan art of gold granulation, Cartier promptly researched deeply to study its technique. Likened to sowing seeds of gold, granulation involves creating gold beads using long gold wires that have been cut up, rolled in charcoal dust, and heated with a flame. The beads are then assembled one by one to create a motif, and then fused with a gold surface. Cartier’s panther with granulation is made up of nearly 3,800 gold beats and took approximately 360 hours to complete the underlying engraving and bead fusing.

Filigree work is just as intricate as gold granulation. Attributed to the ancient Sumerians, this craft dates back to 3000 BC and is done by twisting gold or platinum wires and then hammering to flatten the strips, which are shaped to form a motif and then soldered onto a surface. The latest craft to join Cartier’s repertoire, it will be featured in the Ronde Louis Cartier in 2015 which combines filigree work with the application of lacquer and gem setting. Taking the form of two panthers locked in an embrace, the filigree work in yellow gold and platinum takes no fewer than 10 days to complete.cartier-histoircal-pieces-3

Colour & Fire

One of the best loved forms of métiers d’arts, enamelling can be done with a wide range of techniques. Found on the second floor, the most superior and traditional technique is said to be grand feu enamelling, which requires the enameller to create a mixture of raw enamel and metallic oxides to be fired at a temperature of over 800 degrees Celsius. In order to create an elaborate painting with shades and colour nuances, the enameller has to use a palette of coloured raw enamel and each shade of each colour has to be fired individually. The result is a painting brought to life by layers of colours.

There are different techniques to apply enamel to a dial, all of which are considered traditional. Champlevé enamel involves carving out cavities where the raw enamel is to be applied, leaving only strips of metal in between the cavities. Cloisonné enamel is quite the opposite, as it involves applying strips of metal on the dial to demarcate where the raw enamel is to be applied. These strips are called cloisons (meaning partition) in French. Much rarer than champlevé or cloisonné is the plique-à-jour enamel, which resembles stained glass windows in churches. Plique-à-jour is similar to cloisonné except it does not have a base.cartier-historical-pieces-2

Grisaille enamel is also very rare. In fact it was almost a lost art. To perform grisaille enamelling, the enameller begins with a dial of black enamel and uses only translucent white enamel called limoge blanc to paint the desired images. Multiple layers of the limoge blanc is needed to achieve a clear white stroke, and each layer has to be fired individually, making grisaille enamelling one of the most laborious techniques of all. Yet, Cartier has managed to find a silver lining, make that a gold lining, with grisaille enamelling. Working with a gold paste instead of limoge blanc, the maison utilises the same technique with a precious material, adding just that bit of prestige to the age-old craft.

In addition to enamelling, this part of the Maison des Métiers d’Arts is also where one of Cartier’s most talked-about watches, the Ballon Bleu de Cartier Floral Marquetry, is made. Marquetry as an art traditionally involves combining pieces of sculpted wood to form a larger canvas. Instead of wood, however, Cartier made stunning works of marquetry using rose petals and straw. Again, these painstaking processes call for enormous concentration on the part of the craftsman as well as inordinate numbers of man-hours to complete. The Ballon Bleu de Cartier Floral Marquetry took two weeks just for the marquetry work alone while a straw marquetry creation like the Rotonde de Cartier Straw Marquetry with lion motif, where individual blades of straw were hand chosen, split blade by blade, flattened with a burnishing bone, and assembled by hand, took 45 hours to make.cartier-historical-pieces-4

Similar to marquetry, stone mosaic is another craft practiced by Cartier and is done on the Rotonde de Cartier Stone Mosaic with tiger motif. In this watch, the maison combines small miniature square stones for the background with irregular-shaped stones known as tesserae that are used for the motif. Observe how the natural nuances of stone has been used to create shadowed hues. Nearly 500 tiny tesserae and up to 70 hours of work were required to literally put this dial together.

Glorious Past

Ascend to the eaves of the Maison des Métiers d’Arts and you would enter into a sacred space devoted to Cartier’s creative universe. Not just reserved for exhibitions and private events, this area is open to the artisans of the maison should they seek a place to exchange ideas and share knowledge. Indeed, the exchange of ideas and sharing of knowledge is the primary objective of Maison des Métiers d’Arts. It is also why all the floors and rooms are designed with an open concept and are easily accessible from one to another. Like the masterpieces of yesteryears, Cartier’s modern creations break boundaries and rethink conventions but they are always beautifully interpreted. Now with Maison des Métiers d’Arts, Cartier looks set to bring haute horlogerie even closer to the fine arts.

This article was first published in WOW.

Cartier Hypnose

Cartier Hypnose Watch: Into A Trance

Shaped watches are something of a specialty at Cartier, with such memorable pieces as the Tank, Ballon Bleu, Baignoire, Tortue, Santos, and of course the one with the most unique shape of all, Crash. The new Hypnose comes in a familiar shape – oval, like the Baignoire – but with a surprise. More accurately, the case of the Hypnose is a double oval, one inside of another, and they do not touch.

Lined with sparkling diamonds, they are like two rings of fire surrounding the watch’s dial. Intensifying the optical illusion, the largest diamonds have been set at the top and bottom of the outer bezel, gradually decreasing in size as they reach the flanks, and then increasing again gradually till they reach the opposite point.Cartier Hypnose

But of course, the two bezels are not truly disconnected. Precious pink or white gold or rich, black lacquer fills the void where the diamonds do not touch. At just a glance, the dial appears airborne, until the eye parses the immense detail and craftsmanship – just another example of Cartier’s creativity at play.

Two alluring dial variations set out to charm you. One is the familiar Cartier dial with Roman numerals, flinqué decoration, and blued steel sword-shaped hands. The other is simply awash with more diamonds, paired with sword shaped hands in the same colour as the case. Cartier also offers the Hypnose in two sizes, small (30mm X 26.2mm) and large (37.8mm X 33.3mm), with one fully set variation paired with a gem-set bracelet. All of them come with quartz movements.

This article was first published in World of Watches: Jewellery.

Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Astromysterieux

Review: Rotonde de Cartier Astromystérieux Watch

Isn’t there a saying about doing something for a very long time, that you become really good at it? Well, Cartier has been producing mystery clocks for more than a century, and true enough, its latest creation proved to be its most impressive one yet, not least in terms of mechanics.

The history of Cartier’s mystery clocks go back to the early 20th century when Louis Cartier met an exceptional clockmaker named Maurice Couet who specialized in mysterious clocks. Couet had been inspired by the works of French clockmaker-turned-illusionist, Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin. With Cartier, he successfully began production of these clocks with hands not directly linked to the movement, but attached to two crystal discs (one for the hours hand and another for the minutes) fitted with serrated metal edges. The first mystery clock made was named Model A and it left Couet’s workshop in 1912.

In 2014, Cartier revisited the mystery clock concept. The R&D team, headed by Carole Forestier, found a way to miniaturise the movement to make it suitable for a wristwatch. Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Hours was the opening salvo that paved the way for other modern-era mysterious timepieces, including the Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Double Tourbillon. The latter was especially memorable because the mystery wasn’t in the way it told the time, but rather, how its flying tourbillon rotated with no apparent connection to the movement. Completing one full rotation in 60 seconds, the tourbillon provides a powerful burst of visual dynamics never before seen in other mystery timepieces.Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Astromysterieux

Following in the footsteps of the Mysterious Double Tourbillon, the Astromystérieux also used the rotating toothed sapphire discs concept for purposes other than to tell the time, namely, theatrics. And who would complain about that? As a matter of fact, knowing Forestier and her penchant for orbital complications, the realisation of a watch like the Astromystérieux was just a matter of time.

The mystery clock typically shows only the hours and minutes, keeping everything else away from sight. Indeed, that’s the whole point of a mystery clock – to display the time without any apparent connection with the movement. Astromystérieux, however, puts the entire movement on display, in addition to the hands. So then where’s the mystery? Take a closer look and you will begin to wonder how the movement, which is apparently suspended in midair, gets any power. How does one wind up the mainspring in this watch, when there are no mechanics connecting the barrel and the crown?

This astonishing movement, Calibre 9462 MC, utilises a completely novel concept where the escapement, balance wheel, gear train, and barrel are all held together by a set of plates and bridges. This collective unit effectively functions as the minute indicator because it completes one full turn every hour; the minutes hand is affixed to the movement thusly. Because of this rotation about a central axis, the entire construct is practically a flying tourbillon, although not in the most conventional sense.

A system of four sapphire discs holds the secret to the Astromystérieux. In lieu of a traditional carriage, the entire movement revolves, not just the balance and escapement, as its lower bridge is one of the four sapphire discs. Two upper bridges (one for the balance wheel and another for the escapement, gear train, and barrel) complete the construct that forms the tourbillon carriage. The hours are indicated by way of a second sapphire disc, which is linked to the tourbillon lower disc.Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Astromysterieux

Solving the mystery of how the Astromystérieux gets its power is a disc-based winding system that brings the third sapphire disc into play. This patented system connects the barrel with the crown using a floating pinion between the winding shaft and winding disc, allowing the movement to be wound only when the crown is in the correct position. A disconnectable system has also been developed so that the crown’s winding shaft and the barrel cannot be broken in the event of excessive winding.

Finally, the fourth sapphire disc is used to set the time. Situated at the base of the movement, it provides the motion required to turn the tourbillon carriage, but when the crown is pulled, it engages the time-setting system. All this is made possible because of a revolutionary lever that blocks the sapphire disc during the normal running of the watch. When the crown is pulled, it frees the lower sapphire disc, thus also freeing the tourbillon carriage (linked to the minutes wheel) and allowing time to be adjusted.

Although the negative space around the movement communicates a feeling of simplicity and emptiness, the Astromystérieux is anything but. This juxtaposition between the complex and the pure is perhaps the single most alluring thing about this awe-inspiring watch.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 43.5mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes
  • Power Reserve: 50 hours
  • Movement: Manual-winding Calibre 9462 MC with mysterious central tourbillon
  • Material: Palladium
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Black alligator leather with double adjustable folding clasp

This story was first published in World of Watches.

5 Must-Read Design Books 2016

The London Design Festival is bringing the art of design to the heart of the British capital, from now until September 25. Here is a look at some useful reading material to bring you up to speed with the world of design this fall.

Hadid by Philip Jodido, published by Taschen

After her sudden and unexpected death this year, this book celebrates one of the leading figures of world architecture. Known for her large, bold structures with audacious curves, Zaha Hadid was the first female recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. This Taschen monograph looks back over the renowned architect’s extraordinary career.

Arita / Table of Contents: Studies in Japanese Porcelain by Anniina Koivu, published by Phaidon

The art of Japanese porcelain manufacturing began in Arita, some 400 years ago. This book, published by Phaidon, celebrates traditional Japanese ceramic culture through the ages.

Volez Voguez Voyagez (Louis Vuitton) published by Assouline

Based on the recent Louis Vuitton exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris, this book from Assouline is ideal for anyone who couldn’t catch the show. It is also a great way to discover the world of the famous French luggage maker, intent on making traveling effortless and fashionable.

Empire Style: The Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris by Jörg Ebeling and Ulrich Leben, published by Flammarion

In 1803, Joséphine Bonaparte – wife of the future Emperor of France – acquired the Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris, which she renovated for her son, Eugène de Beauharnais. Becoming an embassy during the 19th century, the Hôtel is a visible incarnation of Consulate and Empire décor styles. This first monograph dedicated to the building is due for release in November.

Cartier Dazzling: High Jewelry and Precious Objects by François Chaille, published by Flammarion

Although mere mortals can only dream of donning Cartier’s legendary jewelry creations, this book showcases a selection of the luxury label’s dazzling delights. The tome is written by the same French fashion writer behind The Book of Ties.

L'Envol de Cartier Men's Fragrance

L’Envol de Cartier: Taking Flight

This must be what the Gods of Olympus smell like — at least according to Mathilde Laurent and French luxury powerhouse Cartier. The in-house perfumer for Cartier has come up with the brand’s first men’s cologne, L’Envol de Cartier, in eight years and it is set to take everyone to greater heights. To create the scent is to bring to life an idea so that everyone can share it, according to Laurent. She shares that the fragrance was inspired by the exploration of self, where one has to overcome fears and have courage.L'Envol de Cartier Men's Fragrance

The main ingredient for the fragrance stems from ambrosia, a food that was consumed by the Greek gods conferring them with immortality and longevity. Of course, ambrosia doesn’t exist so Laurent had her work cut out for her. With accents of honey, wood, patchouli and musk, the eau de parfum is said to be strong yet not overpowering. In a nutshell, the fragrance is perfect for those who like to smell good without making a statement, as if that is their natural scent.L'Envol de Cartier Men's Fragrance

Cartier could have gone all out to seal the honey-colored scent in a complicated and artistic bottle. Instead, the firm chose one that was unique yet not over-the-top, much like the fragrance. Stored in a glass capsule, the fragrance is covered by a detachable dome that helps to capture and reflect light as it shines through the bottle. The idea behind the bottle, comes from having to protect something precious The refillable bottle also features the brand’s signature guilloche motif on the metal filligreed top. The result of the thought and care that goes into creating l’Envol de Cartier is a fragrance that is fuss-free and invigorating for anyone who wears it.

Cartier Magicien: Spellbinding High Jewelry

Let’s face it, us muggles are fascinated by the world of magic and Cartier knows this all too well, which could explain why they created a collection called Cartier Magicien. Made up of three different sections, the high jewelry collection showcases the expertise of Cartier’s master craftsmen. Made up of 20 pieces, the collections called Magic of Design, Magic of Light and Magic of Nature feature one-of-a-kind creations that are sure to captivate and entice.

Cartier Magicien Incantation Necklace

Cartier Magicien collection Incantation Necklace

We explore the collection by looking at key pieces in each series, starting with the Magic of Design. Highlighting the power of design, Cartier introduces the Incantation. Set in platinum, the necklace boasts repeated geometric designs paved with diamonds in various cuts. With nearly 18 carats of diamonds, the necklace is a versatile creation that can be worn in two ways. The first is as a choker-style necklace, while the second can be created with a single touch. Inverting the curves, the interlaced designs of the necklace fan out. If the diamonds weren’t enough, the necklace also comes with a 22.84-carat cushion-shaped Ceylon sapphire that can be worn as a ring when not attached to the necklace.

Cartier Magicien collection Oracle necklace

Cartier Magicien collection Oracle necklace

If you thought that we would only be able to choose one piece to talk about, then you would be mistaken. The Magic of Design series provides us with another necklace, this one dubbed the Oracle. Boasting diamonds and Colombian emeralds, the necklace is a platinum creation that is reminiscent of Cartier’s necklaces and tiaras from the late 1930s. Again, the design is the focal point, with the steps of diamonds that surround the multiple emeralds at the heart of the necklace. With nearly 17 carats of Colombian emeralds, 40 carats of diamonds and 4 carats of onyx, this is a necklace for those who love the age of Art Deco.

Cartier Magicien Paillettes Solaires necklace

Cartier Magicien Paillettes Solaires necklace

The Magic of Light, is under the spotlight next with a diamond studded necklace called Paillettes Solaires. With a mix of platinum, white gold, yellow gold and diamonds of various cuts, this necklace is a statement piece that can be worn on its own. The mix of white and yellow diamonds along with cut diamonds and diamond beads ensure that the necklace shines from any and every angle (who needs Lumos, the wand lighting charm, when you have this?). The centre of attraction, happens to be the large sphere that is studded nearly 36 carats of rose-cut diamonds.

Cartier Magicien collection Questzal necklace

Cartier Magicien collection Questzal necklace

The final series to complete the magic of Cartier’s new High Jewelry collection, is the Magic of Nature. Cartier is no stranger from using animals, creatures and flora as inspiration in its designs so it comes as no surprise that the feathered serpent of Aztec legend and the Mandragore flower are under the spotlight here. The white and gold Mandragore flower comes to life with diamonds and tsavorites while the creature of Aztec folklore is imagined with the help of black lacquer and diamonds. In place of the mythical serpents head, is an exquisite rubellite cabochon that weighs in at an impressive 68.82 carats. To call the collection “captivating” is certainly an understatement.

To find out more about the magic that is the Cartier Magicien collection, visit Cartier.

Cartier-Women's Initiative Awards-2016_Ciara Clancy - Europe

Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards 2017: Register Now

If you’re confident your business plan could be the next big thing, the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards could be just the stepping stone you need to make your idea a reality. Held for the 10th year, the international business plan competition is looking for committed female entrepreneurs who have the tenacity and potential to grow in the industry.

And if you’re not yet convinced, watchmaker and jeweler Cartier has increased the Awards grant from $20,000 to $100,000 (a five-fold increase for those counting), besides a place in the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship 6-Day Executive Programme (ISEP), business mentoring, media visibility and networking opportunities.

Held in partnership with the INSEAD business school, Women’s Forum and global management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company, the 2017 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards is slated to be held at Singapore’s INSEAD campus. Here’s how the competition works: the first phase of the contest will see 18 finalists with the best project ideas worldwide receive coaching and media exposure in lieu of a presentation in front of an international jury at Finale Week, where six Laureates will be chosen.

Selection is based on three criteria – innovation, financial viability and demonstrable social or environmental impact – and women from any country, nationality and industry are welcomed to participate. As Richard Branson once pointed out, “No idea is too small, and all sorts of ideas have potential to change the world as we know it for the better,” so register your business plan now.

Applications for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards closes on August 31, 2016 10 a.m. Paris time (CET).

Cactus de Cartier: Sharp Looking

Long before Wallis Simpson donned its Art Deco inspired creations, French jeweler and watchmaker Cartier had been known for incorporating flora and fauna in its designs. Since 1925, the world has come to partake in the brand’s love affair with nature and this year we see it take on a new form with the Cactus de Cartier.Cactus-de-Cartier-cactus

Gone are the dainty flowers that the brand re-interpreted with precious stones. Instead Cartier found its inspiration from the sturdy desert flower. Simple and fascinating, the flowers come to life at night when they bloom. Rebelling against the delicate designs that are associated with femininity, the Cactus de Cartier lets the sturdy flower shine atop the prickly leaves. With three varying styles, we take a look at the collection below.

A Flower Without Spikes

Left: Cactus de Cartier bracelet, yellow gold, chrysoprases, emeralds, carnelians, set with brilliant-cut diamonds. Right: Cactus de Cartier bracelet, yellow gold, emeralds, carnelians, set with brilliant-cut diamonds.

Left: Cactus de Cartier bracelet, yellow gold, chrysoprases, emeralds, carnelians, set with brilliant-cut diamonds.
Right: Cactus de Cartier bracelet, yellow gold, emeralds, carnelians, set with brilliant-cut diamonds.

Using emeralds, the collection sees the mesmerizing stone in one design with two variations. Set in 18k yellow gold, the first is an array of green with chrysoprase imitating the prickly leaves of the cactus while emeralds are used to re-create the pins of the leaves. The flowers stand out thanks to the carnelians sitting proudly in the center of the design, complete with brilliant-cut diamonds. For the second variation, Cartier replaces the chrysoprase with 18k yellow gold and brilliant-cut diamonds take the place of the carnelians.

Desert Beauty

Cactus de Cartier in yellow gold, lapis lazuli, set with brilliant-cut diamonds

Cactus de Cartier in yellow gold, lapis lazuli, set with brilliant-cut diamonds

Here, the jeweler uses lapis lazuli and diamonds for what you would think is a simple design. But seeing as how there is beauty in simplicity, the gems make a captivating duo against the 18k yellow gold. Unlike the chrysoprase in the first design, Cartier uses 18k gold and diamonds to highlight the shaper edges. The lapis lazuli, in its beautiful blue hue the gem is used to color the flower petals.

Rebellious Flower

Cactus de Cartier in yellow gold, set with brilliant-cut diamonds

Cactus de Cartier in yellow gold, set with brilliant-cut diamonds

The simplest design of the collection also happens to be one of our favorites. Cartier uses the trusted 18k gold to form pearls that mimic the twists that can be found on the sturdy plant. The twisting contours are tiered while diamonds are used to recreate the flowers. Cartier’s take on the flower with Cactus de Cartier is unusual yet refreshing.

Top Jewelers Exit Paris Biennale des Antiquaires

Winds of change are blowing in the world of art, antiques and jewelry. Heralded as one of the world’s most important such fairs, the Paris Biennale des Antiquaires will see its last run as a biannual event and, we presume, its last as the Paris Biennale des Antiquaires. Come 2017, the art event will be reinvented as an annual event (although admittedly, Paris Annuale des Antiquaires doesn’t have as nice a ring to it).

Even so, this year’s event will see a 30 percent increase in size, with a minimum of 113 galleries from 12 countries, making it the year’s largest such event. The mantra is go big or go home, and that is exactly what some of the world’s top jewelers did, according to the reports we are seeing, following on the heels of Cartier’s announcement that it would stay away earlier this year .

Event organizers Syndicat National des Antiquaires’ renewed focus on antiques sat badly with many high jewelers, leading to the exodus,. Seriously, it is a veritable Jexit. Among these are familiar names such as Chaumet, Piaget, Van Cleef & Arpels (whose image from the ongoing Art and Science of Gems exhibition at MBS Singapore is showcased top), Boucheron and Bulgari, dramatically thinning out the ranks of high jewelry exhibitors. In fact, just four remain. It says a lot that this year’s largest accessory brand is first-time exhibitor Cindy Chao. The fair also marks her inaugural public exhibition.

Nevertheless, this year also marks the first historical non-selling timepiece exhibit by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), so at least there’s a twist here. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because the FHH are the organizers of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie and actually represent the entire Richemont Group; Richemont is the parent company of Cartier, Piaget and Van Cleef & Arpels, among others.

The Paris Biennale des Antiquaires will open September 10 at the Grand Palais, and will be held for nine days. For more information, visit the website here.

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.

Gender Bender: 3 Luxury Women’s Watches

The norm: boys like classics, girls want diamonds. Scratch that. The women’s timepieces we now lust after are neither too complicated nor decorated, but simple, slick and macho enough so the men can wear them too.

Chanel

Wool jacket and silk dress, Saint Laurent. Leather wallet, Isaac Reina.

Wool jacket and silk dress, Saint Laurent. Leather wallet, Isaac Reina.

It was the year 2000 when Chanel last channelled macho design codes for a timepiece. So when the Boyfriend burst onto the scene at the most recent Baselworld, it made headlines naturally – and for all the right reasons. Described by the Parisian house as having “a masculine allure just for women”, the watch has an elongated, octagonal case, a nod to the eight-sided form of the iconic Chanel No. 5 perfume flacon, the Premiere timepiece and Place Vendôme in Paris. Beige gold with alligator strap.

Tiffany & Co.

Jersey dress, Julien David. Cashmere sweater, Eric Bompard. Corduroy trousers, Bally. Leather notebook, Smythson.

Jersey dress, Julien David. Cashmere sweater, Eric Bompard. Corduroy trousers, Bally. Leather notebook, Smythson.

Inspired by the rectangular lines of a Tiffany & Co. travel clock from the ’40s, the East West mini, first unveiled last April, literally turns time on its side with a dial positioned horizontally. This year’s editions are fitted with a single or a new double-tour bracelet, and come with dials painted in three colours: white, dark blue and, our top pick, the Tiffany Blue which never, ever gets old. Steel with alligator strap.

Cartier

Someday calfskin satchel, Berluti.

Someday calfskin satchel, Berluti.

When Alberto Santos-Dumont – Brazilian pilot and friend of founder Louis Cartier – found his pocket timepiece cumbersome and impractical to use during his flights, his watchmaker pal invented a flat wristwatch with a distinct square case and rounded corners just for him to tell the time. Aptly named the Santos, the ticker is, today, one of Cartier’s most commercially successful designs and one of the most instantly recognizable in horology. Pink gold with alligator strap.

Story Credits

Photography Thomas Pico

Styling Roman Vallos

This article was first published in L’Officiel Singapore.

Christie’s: Joan Rivers Private Collection Auction

Fans of the late host and television personality Joan Rivers, will soon have the chance to own several personal pieces from her Manhattan Penthouse. On June 22, Christies will be holding an auction featuring an assortment of 200 items from the woman whose personality was larger than life.

Proceeds of the auction will go towards “God’s Love We Deliver” and “Guide Dogs For The Blind” — both charities that Rivers held close to her heart. A connoisseur of decorative arts, paintings and fine French furniture, Rivers’ personal items are expected to go under the hammer where prices will range from $500 to $200,000. One such piece, is the Edouard Vuillard painting Dans L’Atelier, circa 1915 ($120,000 – $180,000). Other items to look out for include a jewelled Nephrite study of a Lily of the Valley leaf by Fabergé ($200,000 – $300,000) and a silver water bowl from Tiffany & Co., engraved with “for Spike” ($500 – $ 800) that she had bought for her beloved dog.

Before the auction at Christie’s however, the auction house will also be hosting an online auction from June 16 – 23. During the online sale, unique costumes made by Bob Mackie, couture and personal jewelry from jewelers such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels as well as Harry Winston will be available. For someone as opinionated as Rivers, with a taste for the finer things in life, this sale will certainly not disappoint.

“My mother’s legacy as a much loved comedienne and philanthropist will be commemorated in this collaboration with Christie’s and her generosity to charitable causes is something I will continue in her honor” said her daughter Melissa Rivers.

Father’s Day Gift Guide 2016

In case you’ve missed the memo, Father’s day is only 11 days away. If this is news to you, then don’t panic because you still have time (not much but it will do). For those fretting about what to get dear old Dad, we are here to help. Each year, children around the world spend time, effort and money putting together the perfect gift for the woman who spent long sleepless nights looking after you. We often overlook the man who spent sleepless nights wondering how in the world raising a child costs so much.

It is only fair then, that we put as much thought and effort to coming up with gifts for the man who is your bank, knight in shining armor and partner in crime. The great thing about getting something for Dad is that you can narrow the list down fairly quickly. First up, we have something that we think every father wishes he could have had a glass or two of when paying for your little (it really wasn’t that much!) shopping sprees.

AlcoholMacallan-edition-no-1-featured

There is nothing better to complete your day, than a glass of whisky. Our favorite go to whisky of course is none other than the Macallan Edition No. 1. We’ve given you a glimpse into just how good it is, and it is our expert (by that we mean that we drink it often enough to call ourselves experts) opinion that this is the one to truly warm your father’s heart this year. With orange and dried fruit, the Edition No.1 is a special blend that leaves you wanting more. Just don’t drink it all before dad has had a glass, or 10.

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Don’t you just love it when someone smells as good as they look? This year, why not get dad a fragrance that will leave him feeling like a million bucks, with a little help from Burberry. With the brand’s latest fragrance, Mr Burberry, you can gift him a sophisticated scent that mixes classic and unexpected ingredients. The woody fragrance has hints of grapefruit and smokey guaiac wood for a touch of seduction. For father’s day, the brand even brings you a monogramming service for that personalized touch.

Writing Instruments

Montblanc Heritage Collection Rouge & Noir Writing Instruments

Montblanc Heritage Collection Rouge & Noir Writing Instruments

You can never go wrong with a luxury pen and what better than a Montblanc writing instrument. Our pick would be the writing instruments from the brand’s Montblanc Heritage Collection Rouge & Noir, Special Edition that was created to celebrate the brand’s 110th anniversary. The pen features a serpent on its cap; an emblem that has been linked to the brand since it first began. The instruments are available in coral and black.

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You could treat dad to a well-tailored suit for Father’s day, especially since it should be a staple in any man’s wardrobe. Head down to Dior Homme at ION Orchard, for an expertly crafted suit, that is sure to please the main man the moment he puts it on. If a suit isn’t something he favors, then you’re in luck. The spanking new store also carries one of Dior’s latest collections for men. This could be just the shopping spree that makes up for you using him as a flesh-and-blood ATM.

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Fresh from the latest Tod’s fall/winter collection, the Envelope bag is our accessory of choice. Sleek and simple, it is perfect for the modern man on the go. While the bag is available in black, we think this shade of brown will lend a youthful touch to an outfit. If you think he will love the bag as much as we do but it could be too bulky for an avid traveler, we have good news for you. The bag also comes in soft suede, so it can be stowed away in a luggage bag during travel with no trouble.

WatchesDRIVE_DE_-CARTIER_WATCH FACE

You may not be able to buy him a car — we have to be realistic and also, watch that carbon footprint people — but you can get him something inspired by automobiles. In walks the Drive de Cartier 1904-PS MC, with its cushion shaped case and exterior that takes its inspiration from cars. We have covered the timepiece in a previous article so we won’t bore you with the details but the guilloche dial and Roman numerals combined with the in-house Cartier movement make this a wonderful gift for a motor head.

Final Cut: 4 Red Carpet Trends Cannes 2016

Ah the red carpet and the beautiful women, designer gowns and gems worth millions drawn to it. It takes some time to sift through the images and galleries to find the trends that we know you love but someone has to do it.

We covered the yellow trend starting strong on opening night and you would be forgiven for overlooking several other trends. As the festival continued, the designers sent their best designs out and we were treated to more trends. We take a look at the four trends you may have missed.

Best Foot Forward

From left: Karlie Kloss (Marchesa gown with Chopard jewelry); Bella Hadid (Alexandre Vauthier gown); Alessandra Ambrosio (Redemption gown and Boucheron Jewelry); Izabel Goulart (Alexandre Vauthier gown); Ana Beatriz Barros (Ralph and Russo gown). Images from Runway Manhattan.

From left: Karlie Kloss (Marchesa gown with Chopard jewelry); Bella Hadid (Alexandre Vauthier gown); Alessandra Ambrosio (Redemption gown and Boucheron Jewelry); Izabel Goulart (Alexandre Vauthier gown); Ana Beatriz Barros (Ralph and Russo gown). Images from Runway Manhattan.

You could call Angelina Jolie the pioneer of leg flashers since she did bring this trend back in vogue at the Oscars in 2013. Three years on and it is far from over. In fact, if Bella Hadid’s dress is any indication, the slits just keep getting higher… Of course, these are models we speak of so naturally they really do have some of the best gams in the world. Just like those slits, where they end no one knows…

Belle of the Ball

From left: Blake Lively (Vivienne Westwood gown); Elle Fanning (Valentino gown); Jourdan Dunn (Ralph and Russo gown). Images from Runway Manhattan.

From left: Blake Lively (Vivienne Westwood gown); Elle Fanning (Valentino gown); Jourdan Dunn (Ralph and Russo gown). Images from Runway Manhattan.

We fell in love with several of these dresses that would have been a young girl’s fantasy. From Blake Lively in her Cinderella-esque gown to Elle Fanning who looked whimsical, the fairy-tale princesses made the red carpet their own and the pictures didn’t disappoint.

The Naked Dress

From left: Blake Lively (Atelier Versace gown); Kendall Jenner (Cavalli Couture gown); Bella Hadid (Cavalli Couture gown). Images from Runway Manhattan.

From left: Blake Lively (Atelier Versace gown); Kendall Jenner (Cavalli Couture gown); Bella Hadid (Cavalli Couture gown). Images from Runway Manhattan.

There are nude colored dresses and then there are the naked dresses. As risky to wear as the thigh-high slits, this requires a certain amount of bravado —and the confidence to go commando — to pull off. While some chose to use strategically placed panels to pull off this look, others went all out.

Suit Up

From left: Susan Sarandon (Saint Laurent suit); Victoria Beckham (Victoria Beckham Jumpsuit and Chopard jewelry); Charlize Theron (Christian Dior Couture and Cartier jewelry). Images from Runway Manhattan.

From left: Susan Sarandon (Saint Laurent suit); Victoria Beckham (Victoria Beckham Jumpsuit and Chopard jewelry); Charlize Theron (Christian Dior Couture and Cartier jewelry). Images from Runway Manhattan.

This one made us wonder if Barney Stinson decided to switch professions and dress Hollywood for a change. This look proved to be more controversial than the high slits or the naked dress. With a strict rule in place for all, the stars were expected to turn up in black tie appropriate attire and some of the ladies decided to walk the path less traveled. Forgoing the heavy gowns, Susan Sarandon and Victoria Beckham led the way in standing the dress code on its head with their pantsuits. While we think they looked just as elegant on the red carpet as anyone in a frock this year, if you take a look at the background, you’ll see why this generally is not a great idea. On that note, yes even the photographers at these events follow the dress code.