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Happy Diamonds Watches

Chopard Happy Diamonds: Interview with Caroline Scheufele about the collection

For an aesthetic that is still fresh and beloved today, it is pretty hard to believe that Chopard’s Happy Diamonds collection has just turned 40 years old. Indeed a sight to behold, the maison’s concept of sparkling, free-moving diamonds exudes an inexplicable sense of joy that has continued to captivate and surprise throughout an impressive four decades.

Chopard Happy Spirit Pendants

Happy Spirit Pendants

This delightful quality belies the design’s sheer originality and unconventionality that remains unsurpassed until today. Copied or referenced umpteenth times, the Happy Diamonds concept has been written into Chopard’s historical legacy as one of its chief creative triumphs and an instrumental part of its wide-ranging design lexicon.

Born in 1976, the concept was the brainchild of Chopard’s in-house designer  Ronald Kurowski, who got the inspiration from watching how sunbeams danced across a waterfall during a walk in the Black Forest. Seeking to reproduce the magic of water droplets sparkling under the sunlight with rainbow colours, he dreamt up the concept of leaving diamonds free to float and whirl between two slices of sapphire crystals.

Chopard Happy Diamonds

First Happy Diamonds watches from 1976

Each diamond was encased in a gold capsule with a bevelled base, allowing the stones to move in any direction, spinning and twirling as they go.

For those who associate Happy Diamonds with feminine creations, it must be astonishing for them to learn that the concept was originally meant for a men’s timepiece. When Chopard stalwart Karin Scheufele saw the first completed Happy Diamonds watch, she exclaimed, “These diamonds are happiest when they are free!” – and thus the collection was named.

Since winning the prestigious Golden Rose of Baden-Baden the same year Happy Diamonds made its debut, the concept has gone on to evolve into a complete watch and jewellery collection, largely thanks to the efforts of Karin Scheufele’s daughter Caroline Scheufele.

Chopard Happy Fish Watch

Happy Fish Watch

The current Chopard co-president and artistic director, Caroline Scheufele was just a teen when she set her eyes on the Happy Diamonds watch. “Being able to see the design and the inspiration come together to be produced into a timepiece was overwhelming and exciting, because the concept of having the diamonds dance between two sapphire crystals was new and refreshing,” she says.

Happy Diamonds Collections over the years

Happy Diamonds Collections over the years

The main person responsible for subsequent expressions of the original concept in jewellery and watch designs that became so warmly embraced worldwide, Scheufele created her first Happy Diamonds piece in the form of a clown with a tummy full of moving diamonds and colourful stones.

The success of this jewellery creation, initially produced as a one-off model for her own personal collection, led to the launch of the Happy Diamonds jewellery line in 1985, marking the beginning of jewellery-making at Chopard. The clown was followed by the elephant, the ladybird, the teddy bear, and of course, Scheufele’s much-cherished heart.

The later Happy Diamonds lines include Happy Sport, Happy Fish, Happy Spirit, Very Chopard, Happy 8, Happy Emotions, Happy Diamonds Good Luck Charms, and Happy Hearts.

Happy Clown Family

Happy Clown Family

This year, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the design, Chopard has launched an unprecedented innovation: a new prong setting for the free-roaming diamonds, which allows the stones to be larger than before, in a variety of sizes. They are featured in a romantic new jewellery collection, named Happy Dreams, that is reminiscent of fluffy clouds in the sky. The watchmaking department also presented a new ladies’ Happy Diamonds Icon watch that pays tribute to Chopard’s heritage by picking up the cushion shape of the very first model.

Recently in town for a VIP event, Scheufele shares her thoughts on her role in the evolution of Happy Diamonds, and the secrets behind its  remarkable success.

Caroline Scheufele

Caroline Scheufele

You’d initially sketched the Happy Diamonds into a clown. What inspired you to do that?

I have always loved the circus and watching the artistes, acrobats, animals, and clowns, especially the clowns because they make people happy. I created my first-ever design when I was 16, and it was a little clown with diamonds and precious stones moving in his belly. My dad saw the design and he had it made in our workshops as a surprise gift for Christmas. Some of our clients saw it and ordered it, and that sparked off the start of the jewellery at Chopard, because before this, we had no jewellery collection, only watches.

It seems that your creative involvement at Chopard began in your youth.

I love drawing and I have been designing since I was a young girl. I grew up in this family-owned company, and so I’ve been immersed in this creative state of mind from a very early age.

Personally, how much do you identify with the concept?

I would define myself as a free-spirited person.

Chopard Happy Curves Rings

Happy Curves Rings

Why do you think the Happy Diamonds concept is such a success and still evergreen in appeal over four decades?

It is such a unique concept that has become an icon, the DNA of the collection. Now the concept is recognisable whether it is expressed in the classic Happy Diamonds line of watches or jewellery, or Happy Sport watches. It is fun and makes people smile. We also keep proposing new designs for Happy Diamonds to our clients, with the latest being Happy Dreams.

What are your first thoughts when you unexpectedly see someone wearing a Happy Diamonds creation?

Happy! I am definitely elated to see someone wearing our Happy Diamonds collection, not only because the person is wearing my own creation, but also because it honours the hard work by the team, the skills of the artisans, the watchmakers’ knowledge, and the whole story behind it.

Talking about the new prong setting for your 40th anniversary collection, please take us through why it was conceived or necessary for the execution of the designs.

We decided to introduce a new prong setting for the 40th anniversary of Happy Diamonds so that the diamonds sparkle even more in their free and playful space, intensifying a wonderful spectrum of light as they spin.

How did you come up with the Happy Dreams idea?

I love clouds, their fluffiness, and the sky. It makes me feel peaceful and happy… I think many share this feeling.

Chopard Happy Hearts Bangles

Happy Hearts Bangles

Do you have a favourite Happy Diamonds watch or jewellery item that you always wear?

I don’t have a favourite one, and often it is my latest creation that becomes my favourite of the moment. These days, I usually wear the Happy Hearts collection – two sautoirs and lots of bangles that I love to stack. In terms of watches, I have a crush on the new Happy Diamonds Icon watch, with a square shape, which I wear all the time.

Do you think there is a type of personality suitable for Happy Diamonds, or there is a Happy Diamonds creation suitable for every type of personality?

This collection is very versatile and appeals to different personalities, styles, and ages,  which is what makes it so special.

What are you dreaming of creating next for the Happy Diamonds range?

That is a surprise for now! You will have to stay tuned for the launch of the new collections next year!

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.

Michael Kors Access

Michael Kors Access Smartwatch: Fashionably Smart

We love ourselves a smartwatch that cuts out the need to carry multiple devices at one time so the new Access smartwatch by Michael Kors and Fossil is a welcome treat. Rather than creating a range that would be simply functional, the designer ensured that the designs would be stylish as well. Apart from the 49 pre-customized faces, the timepiece also comes with easily interchangeable rubber and leather straps.

To learn more about the Michael Kors Access Smartwatch, visit L’Officiel Singapore.

Review: Corum Golden Bridge Watch

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

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

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

Specs

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

This article was first published in World of Watches.

Montblanc TimeWalker Pythagore Ultra-Light Concept

Review: Montblanc TimeWalker Pythagore Ultra-Light

Montblanc Ambassador and Chinese professional badminton player Lin Dan is an overpowering force, being the first and only player to have won all major titles in the sport, namely the Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup, Thomas Cup, Sudirman Cup, Super Series Masters Finals, All England Open, Asian Games, and Asian Championships. A watch that Lin can wear at work and at play would have to survive the violent bursts of speed that badminton is known for; it would have to be very light to complement Lin’s swift play, and be tough enough for the tremendous forces and shocks generated by every move.

Part of the TimeWalker collection that combines high performance with a contemporary and sporty aesthetic, the Pythagore Ultra-Light Concept was built with Lin in mind. This begins with a case built with ITR² Kevlar/Carbon elements in the case middle, case back, bezel, and crown, and black DLC titanium for the horns, resulting in a timepiece that weighs a mere 14.88g.

A composite material charged with carbon nanotubes, ITR² (Innovative, Technical, Revolutionary Resin) is eight times lighter than steel and four times lighter than titanium. According to Montblanc, only a handful of specialists have the know-how to make watch cases out of ITR², and Montblanc is even combining it, for the first time, with Kevlar/carbon, a highly resistant synthetic fibre.

Montblanc TimeWalker Pythagore Ultra-Light Concept

Montblanc TimeWalker Pythagore Ultra-Light Concept Caseback

To keep weight to the minimum, the titanium lugs are skeletonised, and mineral glass is used front and back in place of sapphire crystal.

Weigh savings go beyond the case: there is no dial to speak of; and the movement is largely skeletonised, exposing the handcrafted components to ready inspection. The mainplate is made of titanium, the seconds sub-dial is a ring of anodised aluminium applied directly onto it, while the minute track is merely etched on. The hands too, are of anodised aluminium. Bare as it is, Montblanc did not utterly forsake adornment, having engraved stars at eight and three o’clock to denote major championships Lin had won.

Beating within is the new manual-winding Calibre MB M62.48, which is inspired by a Minerva movement from 1943 that features straight architectural bridges of titanium that follow Pythagoras’s Golden Ratio for visual harmony, hence its name.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 40mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
  • Power Reserve: 50 hours
  • Movement: Manual-winding Calibre MB M62.48
  • Case: 40mm ITR² Kevlar/Carbon with DLC titanium lugs
  • Strap: Black nylon

This article was published in WOW magazine.

Twins Effect: Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon 7

Just when you thought it wouldn’t be possible for jeweler and watchmaker Harry Winston to surpass its previous tourbillon wristwatches, the American house continues to push – and break – the limits of traditional watchmaking theory with its seventh edition: the Histoire de Tourbillon 7. The Swatch Group-owned brand drew a lot of attention with this timepiece at BaselWorld 2016 and we definitely think it is one of the star pieces of the year.

HW_Histoire_de_Tourbillon_7_Anthracite_face_blackBG_HD - Copy

The Histoire de Tourbillon model – as the name suggests – is a timepiece series focused on tourbillons. Harry Winston has explored several variations on this theme; last year’s iteration saw a tri-axial tourbillon and previously, a double tourbillon. This year, the watchmaker explores the bi-axial tourbillon – with a twist in that there’s now two, both identical. Since the bi-axial tourbillons are both identical, let’s look at how one works. First of all, the term bi-axial tourbillon simply means that there are two cages here instead of the usual one and that both rotate on different axes. There is still just one balance, hairspring, pallet fork and escape wheel.

In the case of the Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon 7, the cage that houses the balance wheel – angled at 30 degrees – completes a rotation in 45 seconds. This assembly is in turn housed in a second cage that completes a rotation in 75 seconds. The two identical bi-axial tourbillons are then regulated by a spherical differential to create an average. Theoretically, if two tourbillons are better than one, the differential would result in the averaging out of two exceptional time keeping mechanisms working double-time to eliminate errors of rate. At the bottom of the dial, a power reserve indicator in roll form fills the little gap left by the dual tourbillons and hour and minute section.

HW_Histoire_de_Tourbillon_7_Red_face_blackBG_HD - Copy

Facade-wise, the Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon 7’s 18k white gold case houses a rectangular dial with an anodized aluminum design. Its 50mm diameter and 17mm thickness means this watch is a big fella but that is the trade-off for having angled bi-axial tourbillons in action. The horological masterpiece requires hundreds of hours of delicate artisanal expertise of hundreds of hours. In a limited edition of 20, the watch is available in either a red or anthracite version.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 50mm
  • Functions: Off-center hours and minutes, display of power reserve on roll
  • Power Reserve: 55 hours
  • Movement: Manual-winding calibre HW4502, bottom plate in satin-finish and stippled titanium, bridges in titanium, double Côtes de Genève, tourbillon bridges polished and beveled by hand
  • Material: 18K white gold
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Alligator leather

Ladies First: Breguet Tradition Dame 7038

Fine watches aren’t just reserved for gentlemen. Swiss watchmaker Breguet thought so too and hence created the Breguet Tradition Dame 7038. Like many of its other watches in the Tradition series, this watch is a horological masterpiece both technically and aesthetically.

Breguet knows that it is the littlest things that count. With the movement components arranged symmetrically on either side of the mainplate, this ultra-modern watch is a graphic work of art. The watch features a central barrel, which powers the hands of the dial at 12 o’clock, as well as a barrel wheel and intermediate wheels that form a delicate arc from 4 to 8 o’clock. Breguet might have a tradition of more than two centuries but it is a pioneer of horological technology. The Swiss company applies the hand-chamfered pare-chute to the bridge of the Tradition Dame 7038, a feature designed by Breguet himself in the 1790s to protect the delicate balance pivots in case of impact. At 10 o’clock, a discreet retrograde seconds is engraved upon the frosted finishing of the movement. Powered by the numbered and signed movement calibre 505SR (visible through the sapphire-crystal caseback), the watch shares the same movement as its older brother, the Tradition 7097.

And because it’s a timepiece for the most discerning of ladies, its bezel is encrusted with lots of brilliant-cut diamonds – all 68 of them, to be precise. Housed in a 37mm 18-carat white gold case, the watch sits elegantly on most women’s wrists, the Tahitian mother of pearl dial furthers this aesthetic, lending visual interest to the otherwise metallic face. On the barrel, an exquisite floral engraving completes the dial.

Specs:

Dimensions: 37mm

Functions: Hours, Minutes, Retrograde second

Power Reserve: 50 hours

Movement: Self-winding movement, numbered and signed movement, calibre 505SR.

Material: 18-carat white gold with delicately fluted case band. Bezel set with 68 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.895 carats).

Water Resistance: 30 meters

Strap: leather

Blackwater: HYT H2 Alinghi Watch

Hot on the heels of the HYT H4 Alinghi wristwatch, the H2 Alinghi sees the Swiss watchmaking company and sailing syndicate work together to create yet another horological masterpiece. For those who don’t recognize Alinghi as the champion sailors in this equation, HYT is the Swiss watchmaker. Just saying.

This is a watch of many firsts, like the HYT H2 Tradition. Unlike that watch, the central seconds hand function is no different to the standard H2 model (it jumps slightly at the 30 minute mark, as you can guess from the image above and below). Aesthetics-wise, the H2 Alinghi also retains its distinctive HYT flavor, including the oversized 48.8mm case diameter but goes through many upgrades. The watch now boasts a full untreated titanium case (HYT calls it as-cast titanium), giving it a sporty feel that’s only appropriate for a collaboration with a professional sports team. As the only watchmaking brand that integrates a liquid module into its mechanical movement, the new watch will feature a new black liquid.

Fans of the brand will be familiar with its development process – every colored formulation is painstakingly derived after years of research and the current shade was only revealed to the world earlier this year. The bezel rider tab is now also an elegant rounded shape (HYT says this is to better integrate the Alinghi logo), and succeeds in making the design ‘pop’ when on the wrist (as seen below). Lastly, HYT makes its hour markers stand out more by applying a twin satin/blasted effect on its flange. If you’re familiar with HYT, we think you’ll agree this is the clearest the hour markers have ever been. Mounted on the new ultra-resistant technical strap, the watch embodies both house’s codes of combining modernity with technology.

HYT-H2Alinghi-Lifestyle-6

Unfortunately, not all HYT fans will get their hands on this horological feat, which is only to be expected. Only 25 of what looks to be HYT’s most legible timepiece will be produced, so you’ll have to hurry to get your hands on (and in) it. The watch will be available from June 2016.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 48.8mm
  • Functions: Retrograde hours, minutes, power reserve indicator, thermal indicator, crown position indicator
  • Power Reserve: 192 hours (eight days)
  • Movement: Manual-winding HYT calibre with liquid module
  • Material: Titanium with polished, micro blasted and satin finishes
  • Water Resistance: 50 meters
  • Strap: dark charcoal grey fabric with a black stitching, titanium deployant buckle.

Monaco Grand Prix on Chinese Time with TAG Heuer

As if it wasn’t a star-studded enough event, TAG Heuer invited two Chinese superstars, rock-pop singer G.E.M. and actor Li Yifeng, to attend the prestigious Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix this year.

Both personalities boast millions of followers in their home country, and accompanied by the Chinese media, had the privilege of not only watching the race, but also to be greeted by the Ambassador of Monaco to China, Catherine Fautrier at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco for a private tour.

Monaco Formula One Grand Prix

As the world’s second largest economy, China passed the symbolic threshold of 300 billionaires this year, the average wealth of the 1,000 richest Chinese starting at $1.04 billion. Monaco has been keen on strengthening diplomatic relations, as seen from the appointment of ambassadors from both sides in 2006 and the construction of a Monaco pavilion within the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai. Earlier this year, Monaco reciprocated with the first-ever Chinese Festival in Monaco.

TAG Heuer and the F1 Grand Prix have had a long history, and great success. Stellar drivers such as Kimi Räikkönen, Fernando Alonso, and Lewis Hamilton are but a few TAG Heuer ambassadors who have taken the chequered flag. This year, the Swiss watch firm continues its legacy with Formula 1 by unveiling three new TAG Heuer watches at a world-exclusive launch in Monaco:

Red Bull Watch

CAZ1018.FC8213 THF1 SPECIAL EDITION RED BULL TEXTILE STRAP - PACKSHOT 2016

Bearing the team’s colors – midnight blue and red – the steel quartz chronograph reflects the DNA of TAG Heuer’s association with Formula 1 with a bezel sporting a tachymeter scale in matte blue aluminum. The special edition is available in two versions: a stainless steel bracelet or textile strap with red stitching, inspired by the racing car’s seat belts. Like every motor racing watch worth its salt, the quartz chronograph movement is accurate to a tenth of a second, and is displayed on the counter at 6 o’clock. Meanwhile, the symbolic black and white chequered flag of Formula 1 is engraved at the back of the case, together with the prestigious Red Bull Racing Team logo.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 43 mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, date, 1/10 second counter, chronograph hour counter, chronograph minute counter, running seconds counter
  • Movement: Ronda 5040D – Quartz chronograph
  • Water resistance: 200 meters
  • Strap: Triple-row brushed steel bracelet with brushed steel clasp, dual safety mechanism and extension for the motor races, or blue strap made from technical textile with red stitching.
Tag Heuer Connected in 18K Rose Gold

Barenia brun - or rose - chrono noir

Bearing the name of a luxury watchmaker with more than a century of history while innovating with smartwatches is no easy feat, but you’d be hard pressed to find fault with the latest upgrade for this smartwatch offering. For this special edition, Tag Heuer swapped the usual titanium for a more luxurious rose gold one. The latest lithium battery powers the water-resistant device and a sapphire crystal touchscreen ensures it stays scratch-free. While the watch comes with the same two-year standard warranty TAG Heuer offers its usual Connected Watches, customers have the option of exchanging the smartwatch for a mechanical watch should they decide to go old school.

Aquaracer 300M

WAY201A.BA0927 AQRC CALIBRE 5 BLACK CERAMIC - PR VIEW 2016

A sports chronograph first designed to meet the extreme requirements of professional water sportsmen, the Aquaracer is now an icon of TAG Heuer’s and has been reiterated countless times, each looking to better its predecessor. Aesthetic changes include engraved silver lacquer numerals on the ceramic bezel, as well as a bigger case, enlarged from 41mm to 43mm. Inside, the Calibre 5 automatic mechanical movement powers the timepiece with the promise of accuracy and reliability, and coupled with its 300m water-resistance, makes this robust timepiece the perfect companion for all kinds of extreme conditions.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 43 mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
  • Movement: TAG Heuer Automatic Calibre 5
  • Power Reserve: 38 hours
  • Water resistance: 300 meters
  • Strap: 3-row polished and satin-finished steel, with polished steel deployant buckle, safety push-buttons and diving extension

 

 

4 Aviation Watches to Take Flight With

By flying, we will include sitting in an airplane. That said, aviation watches are among the most beloved of collectors because of the particular fine qualities they are imbued with, in standing up to the operational demands of flight. Reliable, accurate, with clear, easy-to-read displays, they’re tops at balancing elegance, performance, and practicality.

Bell & Ross BR 03 Rafale

Bell & Ross

The Rafale is a beautifully shaped jet, and for folks that appreciate fighter planes, it is among the most advanced and lethal of combat planes being flown today. The Bell & Ross BR 03 Rafale in ceramic incorporates the cool grey colour and the typography of the plane onto the dial for a most fetching tribute. Limited to 500 pieces.

Perrelet Turbine Pilot

Perrelet Turbine Pilot
The company started producing watches sporting dual rotors from 2009, including one on the dial side. Most recently, it has extended the same concept to its take on the pilot’s watch. Aesthetically, the dial-side rotor sets itself apart from most others; it also looks like the spinning turbines of a jet engine. But time display is clear enough, and the slide rule bezel is handy for quick calculations (currency conversions, price of groceries by weight, etc.) and is quite readable, courtesy of the large case size.

Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524

patek phillipe calatrava pilot
A dramatic departure from Patek Philippe’s usual dress watch or high complication, Ref. 5524 in white gold is as luxurious as a pilot’s watch can be, while remaining eminently sensible. Twin pushers allow quick adjustment of local time, while a skeletonised hand indicates home time, with day/night indicators for home/local time, and date in a sub-dial at six o’clock.

Breguet Type XXI 3810

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Descended from the Type 20 aviator’s chronograph that was supplied to the French defence ministry in the 1950s, the titanium XXI 3810 is not only dressier than many pilot’s watches, with fine decorative detail including a fluted case band, it also includes the convenience of a flyback chronograph, with great ease of use by utilising a central hand to point out elapsed minutes.

This story was first published in World of Watches.

Drive de Cartier 1904-PS MC

Taut curves and refined lines – the Cartier manufacture has experimented (and mastered) all types of shapes throughout its established history – but the Drive de Cartier may be the most elegantly balanced and sophisticated model yet, complete with a dash of sportiness.

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Unlike last year’s unisex Clé de Cartier, however, the Drive de Cartier is a strictly men’s-only wristwatch. With the patterning of the guilloché dial resembling that of an old radiator grill, and the winding crown inspired by bolts used to hold a car together, the vintage automative-inspired wristwatch boasts an indisputable presence of a motor car and makes for a very masculine timepiece.

The Drive de Cartier sits impeccably on the wrist with its rounded cushion shape. The case, available in pink gold or steel variants, measures a reasonable 40mm, enveloping a black, grey or white guilloché dial marked by Roman numerals and punctuated by blued steel sword hands – pure Cartier.

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Inside, three calibres power the Drive de Cartier watch: the 1904-PS MC, the 1904-FU MC for the small complication and the 9452 MC for the Fine Watchmaking version – but we’ll talk about the 1904 MC today. The first movement entirely made in-house by Cartier, the 11½ line calibre is today well known for its reliability and technical refinement. In terms of functions, it covers all the basics: hours, minutes, small seconds and the date. Observant watch lovers will recognize the 1904 MC from previous iterations in the Calibre de Cartier, notably. The Côtes de Genève decoration on the bridges, oscillating weight and polished screw-heads are affirmation of the house’s high standards of quality. Designed to maintain chronometric stability, the watch also uses a double barrel system to ensure mainspring torque consistency over a long period, a testament to the house’s dedication to long-term reliability.

 

 

Good Times: HYT Skull Bad Boy

Death. Power. Celebration. The skull is associated with numerous themes, and HYT has used it to great effect in its namesake collection. The Skull watch was first released in two references with red and green liquids, each sporting matching eyes of the corresponding color and resembling a different comic book character. The Skull Maori came next, and had detailing that evoked traditional Maori tribal tattoos. For its latest creation, the Skull Bad Boy, HYT has ventured into the rebellious, grittier subcultures of biking and hard rock.

The most striking aspect of the new release is its fluid module’s black liquid, which had taken the brand over a year to develop. It’s worth noting that every new color used in the brand’s fluid modules is an individual “product” whose hue is just one aspect that must be engineered – the liquid must also maintain a defined meniscus within the glass tube, repel itself from the tube’s inner walls instead of sticking to it, have a suitable viscosity and thermal coefficient, and finally be UV resistant.

Chemistry aside, black also represents an entirely new shade for the brand, whose past developments have been confined to bright, almost fluorescent liquids. The new liquid is a perfect fit for the Skull Bad Boy’s monochromic color scheme, which includes a black DLC-coated titanium case and slate grey leather strap. The watch’s overall look is sinister, and fully deserving of its name. The general lack of vibrancy doesn’t translate into a lack of details though. Note how the grey hour indexes on the flange support the theme with their Gothic typeface, and the dial’s Clous de Paris pattern that resembles a leather cuff’s studs.

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The skull itself takes centre stage, and is a wonder to behold – it’s a steel/carbon composite created by folding the two materials over themselves multiple times, before being polished and sealed with varnish. The folding process is akin to that used in crafting Japanese swords, and creates a similar pattern of wavy layers. As every batch of materials folds differently during the process, no two skulls will be alike. The displays in the eyes return in the Skull Bad Boy; the socket on the left houses a rotating disc that acts as a running seconds indicator, while the one on the right is a power reserve indicator that turns progressively darker as the mainspring winds down.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 51mm
  • Functions: Hours, small seconds, power reserve indicator
  • Power Reserve: 65 hours
  • Movement: Manual-winding HYT calibre with fluid module and
  • 65-hour power reserve
  • Case: DLC-coated titanium
  • Water Resistance: 50m
  • Strap: Slate grey alligator leather with Velcro clasp

HYT-SkullBadBoy-Back

This story was originally published in World of Watches Singapore

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Meteorite

The Tonda 1950 Meteorite Special Edition’s two references might, at first glance, appear to just be new colorways that were added to the Tonda 1950 collection. However, a closer look will reveal a textured network of intersecting lines on the dials that point to their extra-terrestrial origins.

If its name isn’t enough of a hint, Parmigiani Fleurier’s new model has a dial that is actually a slice of a meteorite. The crisscrossing lines on it are known as Widmanstätten patterns, which can only be formed in outer space from the gradual cooling of iron-nickel alloys over thousands to millions of years. The resultant crystallisation creates three-dimensional structures that translate into varying patterns, depending on how the meteorite is eventually cut. Given the time span involved, this crystal structure cannot be replicated on Earth, thus limiting supplies to the meteorites that have already been recovered.

It takes several steps to create a watch dial from a chunk of meteorite. A piece of the material must first be cut out, then trimmed down to the exact shape and dimensions for the watch case. This is no mean feat – meteorite is hard, yet brittle, which makes it difficult to machine without chipping or breaking. Following this, the slice of meteorite is polished, then put through a series of acid baths to accentuate the Widmanstätten patterns, before undergoing electroplating to impart it with a deep blue or black hue. The final product is a slice of coloured meteorite just 0.3mm thick that is overlaid on a brass plate of the same height to form the dial.

Like the rest of the collection, the Tonda 1950 Meteorite Special Edition runs on Parmigiani Fleurier’s PF701 movement, an ultra-thin self-winding calibre that measures just 2.6mm high. In a first for the collection, however, both references of the new model sport titanium cases instead of white or rose gold, to better suit the technical slant of their dials.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 39mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
  • Power reserve: 42 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding Parmigiani Fleurier Calibre PF701
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
    Material: Titanium
  • Strap: Black or indigo alligator leather with ardillon buckle

Story Credits
Text by Jamie Tan

This article was originally published in World of Watches

Doctor’s Watch: Longines Pulsometer Chrono

With a history stretching back to 1832, Longines has a wealth of materials to draw from for inspiration when it comes to timepieces with vintage designs. The brand has kept up a successful run of such watches in its Heritage collection; recent releases include a line of field watches based on one made for British paratroopers in the 1940s, and a dive watch modelled on a reference from 1967. Another notable range from the collection is a series of monopusher chronographs, which counts the Pulsometer Chronograph as a member.

The monopusher chronograph predates the two-pusher design more commonly seen today. The single push-piece is responsible for all of the complication’s operations – consecutive presses will start, stop, and reset the chronograph sequentially. Although the user is unable to pause and resume the timing of an event with such a layout, the monopusher chronograph offers the advantage of a sleeker, more elegant case, especially when the pusher is integrated into the crown. This is what Longines has achieved in the Pulsometer Chronograph, with the rest of the watch reinforcing this design detail to give the timepiece a decidedly classical vibe.

As it is based on a doctor’s watch from the 1920s, the Pulsometer Chronograph exhibits many hallmarks of a chronograph from that era. Besides the monopusher case design, it also has a bi-compax dial layout executed on a white lacquer base, with black markings and a red pulsometric scale painted on it. Blued-steel hands complete the package. The central element of the watch is its pulsometer, which allows a person’s pulse rate to be taken quickly when it is used with the chronograph. The user just needs to activate the chronograph and stop it after counting thirty heartbeats, then read off the scale to get the converted pulse rate in beats per second.

In spite of its vintage inspiration, the Pulsometer Chronograph isn’t without a few modern touches, beginning with the addition of a date window, which is positioned at six o’clock to maintain the dial’s symmetry. The watch has also been sized for the contemporary wearer at 40mm, and houses an up-to-date L788 movement, which is a modified ETA Valgranges calibre that is based on the Valjoux 7753. The movement is made for Longines by ETA, and has been tweaked with a column wheel in lieu of a cam-actuated system, while also sporting a longer power reserve.

Specs

  • Longines Pulsometer Chronograph
  • Dimensions: 40mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, bi-compax chronograph, date
  • Power reserve: 54 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding Calibre L788.2 with 54-hour power reserve
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
    Case: Stainless steel
    Strap: Brown alligator leather with ardillon buckle

Story Credits
Text by Jamie Tan

This article was originally published in World of Watches Singapore

Power On-Demand: Cartier Panthères et Colibri

Ahead of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva next year, jeweler and watchmaker Cartier has opted to release some details on this dazzler. A power-reserve on-demand timepiece, the watch deserves some quiet time to contemplate so we will do just that. Luxury icon Cartier has been working hard at marrying its competencies in jewelry and watchmaking to appeal to the world’s 1% while also inspiring the rest of us. Also, it is just beautiful and as far as what this watch is or means, that is all you need to know. Well, you have to revel in the beauty of the piece so do take a moment to really look at the watch because there is a lot going on here – more than meets the eye in fact.

Ok, so what’s going on here? The answer is a little more complicated than our initial paragraph implied so bear with us. The movement behind the timekeeping functions of the Cartier Panthères et Colibri is the in-house mechanical calibre 9915MC. To be sure, this little (36.18mm x 5.45mm is not actually that little, relatively speaking) wonder of moving parts needs to be wound up every three days. Yes, the power reserve here is 3 days and should you forget in that time to wind it up (not uncommon in our experience with watches with longer than 48 hours of power reserve), the power reserve indicator will remind you of the state of mainspring. So far, everything is properly impressive, if a little pedestrian. Pedestrian is not a word that the watchmakers of the La Chaux-de-Fonds manufacture traffic in…

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Here we see the watch at rest, before the crown is pressed to activate the power reserve display

Aesthetics-wise, having the power reserve front-and-centre takes up valuable space on the dial and only communicates limited information – no pun intended. Even the hour and minute hands are off to the side here in this showcase of bejeweled beauty so how to integrate power reserve information? The watchmaking team of Carole Forestier-Kasapi delivers an elegant solution to the power reserve issue not by putting the display on the caseback, but by making it available only on demand. In practical terms, pressing the crown allows a panther cub (always cute) to spring up from under its mum to give chase to a hummingbird; the length of the hummingbird’s flight is the amount of power remaining in the mainspring. This is what we call mechanical ingenuity!

Ok, what this means is that the cub-and-hummingbird interaction is in fact the main attraction of this piece, at once making it a very distinctive and serious mechanical pleasure while simultaneously demonstrating a whimsical attitude. Adding to the serious beauty of the Panthères et Colibri is the 18k white gold of the 42.75mm case, the rhodium treated 18k white gold dial, similarly rhodium-finished 18k white gold mother panther with 270 brilliant cut diamonds, spots in black lacquer and single pear-shaped emerald for the eye. The cub and hummingbird appear to be in rose or yellow gold but press time there is no information about these (Update: Cartier informs us that the cub and hummingbird are indeed in rose gold and the hands are in gilded steel).

Manufacture mechanical movement with manual winding, calibre 9915 MC_Vincent Wulveryck c Cartier_01

Calibre 9915 MC, dial-side

Specs

  • Dimensions: 42.75mm x 11.4mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, on-demand power reserve
  • Power reserve: 3 Days
  • Movement: Mechanical, manual-winding, calibre 9915 MC
  • Water resistance: 30 meters
  • Material: 18k white gold, 314 brilliant cut diamonds, with black alligator strap (deployant folding clasp with 43 brilliant cut diamond). Also available with gem-set bracelet
  • Manufacture mechanical movement with manual winding, calibre 9915 MC_Vincent Wulveryck c Cartier_03

    Calibre 9915 MC, back view

Handwerkskunst: A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Tourbillon

A new tourbillon wristwatch from German fine watchmaking stalwarts A. Lange & Söhne is not news, in itself. However, the Glashütte-based collectors’ favorite is introducing this complication with a stop-seconds and zero-reset function in a Handwerkskunst edition. As far as we know, this is the first time such functions have coexisted in a tourbillon wristwatch and it is certainly a first in the Handwerkskunst vein; the Handwerkskunst editions have been ongoing since 2011 and the 1815 Tourbillon was introduced in 2014. Basically, this will be the only tourbillon that can be both stopped and have its seconds hand reset to zero in the world, allowing users to set their watches accurately to within one second.

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This actually speaks to what we like about this timepiece because it is, first and foremost, a deeply personal treasure. Sure there is very large tourbillon at 6 o’clock (occupying a third of the dial) but apart from that, everything that makes this watch amazing will be known only to the wearer (and the faithful of A. Lange & Söhne of course). From the delicate hand-finishing on the movement – even beneath the dial where no one can see it – to the case and dial, this is a pleasure reserved for the wearer (and anyone he chooses to share it with). On that note, it is also an intensely masculine watch, with that dark dial ( a result of a rhodium treatment on the rose gold material) and somewhat hefty 11mm case height.

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This new 39.5mm rose gold watch will be introduced to the world properly at the Salon International de la haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in January 2016. Limited to just 30 pieces, this fifth Handwerkskunst watch features a hand-engraved caseback and rhodiumized rose gold dial. On the dial, the engraving technique used is tremblage, which creates a fine grained texture; it is our understanding that every grain here is effectively individually crafted so just imagine how hard the finishing team worked on it! From the pictures, we see that this contrasts nicely with the hand-polished polished elements in relief, including the logo and numerals.

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Specs

  • Dimensions: 39.5mm x 11.1mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
  • Power reserve: 72 hours
  • Movement: Mechanical, manual-winding, hand-assembled and decorated, calibre L102.1
  • Water resistance: NA
  • Material: Rose gold, with hand-stitched alligator strap (deployant buckle)
  • Limited to 30 pieces
  • ALS_L102_1_1815_Tourbi_HWK_ZB_a4 ALS_L102_1_1815_Tourbi_HWK_RS_a4 ALS_L102_1_1815_Tourbi_HWK_D03_a4

Interview: Laurent Dordet for La Montre Hermès

The new head of Hermès Watches is hoping a more feminine touch, added with the fashion group’s own in-house know-how, will help it navigate through the turbulence rocking the sector.

Laurent Dordet, who took the helm of the watch division at the famous Paris fashion house last March, told AFP in an interview he wants to focus even more heavily on women’s timepieces, which already account for 80 percent of the brand’s sales.

“We plan to really develop feminine creation,” the 47-year-old said, adding that the brand aimed to explore a range of aspects of women’s watches, including the use of jewels on the timepieces.

World-famous for its silk scarves and iconic handbags, Hermès is eager to expand its share of the luxury watch market.

So Dordet, who took over after his predecessor Luc Perramond moved over to Ralph Lauren after six years at the helm, is planning to shake things up a bit and reorganize.

“But not through acquisitions,” he stressed, pointing out that the tough times for Swiss watchmakers were not ideal for major new investments.

Slim d Hermes Perspective Cavaliere_red & yelow

The Slim d’Hermes Perspective Cavaliere trades on a popular motif in the fashion line

After years of euphoria with booming sales in Asia, Swiss watchmakers have recently been hard-hit by collapsing watch exports to their top markets China and Hong Kong, as a strengthening Swiss franc has led to exploding production costs. So instead of looking out for new acquisitions, Hermès Watches is taking a good, hard look within.

“We have development ideas for certain exceptional skill sets, using our own Swiss and French workshops,” Dordet explained.

He pointed to a series of colorful models presented at the Baselworld 2014 watch show last year called Arceau Millefiori — or one thousand flowers — created in cooperation with Hermes affiliate Cristalleries de Saint-Louis, France’s oldest glass and crystal manufacturer.

The watches are equipped with unconventional crystal dials and covers inspired by 19th century paperweights, giving the illusion of a real bed of flowers.

Speaking in Brugg, on the outskirts of the northwestern Swiss town of Biel — a tradition-imbued watch metropolis — Dordet said the organizational changes needed included better integrating past acquisitions.

High-end purchases

Over the past decade, Hermes has made several purchases aimed at boosting its watchmaking credibility.

In 2006, it snapped up 25 percent of Vaucher Manucture Fleurier, a prestigious Swiss watch movement maker, before buying Nateber, which designs and manufactures watch dials, in 2012, and a year later pocketing Joseph Erard, which specializes in luxury watch cases. “Our first step will be to consolidate these skill-sets and digest them.”

Movement_Slim_Perpetual calendar_Claude Joray

Hermes uses proprietary mechanical movements in some watches, as seen here in the Slim d’Hermes Perpetual Calendar. Dordet wants to increase the internal know-how to support the core audience of women collectors.

Observers say Dordet’s profile gives an indication of the direction Hermès would like to see its watch brand take.

While his predecessor Perramond had climbed through the watchmaking ranks, spending part of his career at LVMH-owned Swiss luxury watch brand Tag Heuer, the new Hermès Watches chief has a largely in-house background with little timepiece experience. Having joined Hermes in 1995, he has spent most of his career working with textiles and precious leathers.

“Going for an in-house candidate might mean they are looking at this more from the fashion end,” Kepler Cheuvreux analyst Jon Cox told AFP. The question is whether the female fashion focus will be enough to boost sales in an overall morose market.

In October, Swiss watch exports plunged 12.3 percent, according to data from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, suggesting that retailers have accumulated too much of a backlog and are hesitant to refill their storerooms ahead of the holidays.

In this context, Dordet said he planned to be more selective in terms of where watches could be sold, adding the brand would prioritize Hermès’ own boutique network. “This is a network that has proven very resilient during difficult times,” he said.

The luxury watch sector has meanwhile just seen sales in France drop off a cliff, following the November 13 attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead.

Dordet said he was bracing to see how long the lull would last. “This is yet another element of instability in a market that does not need any more.”

Shock Value: Ulysse Nardin FreakLab

Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin rocked the world of watches in 2001 with the original Freak timepiece (a watch without dial, crown and hands) and now offers something a little different with the Ulysse Nardin boutique edition FreakLab. The FreakLab made its global debut at BaselWorld this year, bringing yet more innovations to watchmaking, including a newly centralized balance wheel. Collectors of course will recall that the original Freak had an off-centered escapement assembly, somewhat balancing the rest of the gear train visible dial-side. Features-wise, the FreakLab also includes the very first date display in the Freak line and new proprietary shock absorption system, UlyChoc. Indeed the in-house calibre UN-210 is very impressive indeed, with hairspring, escape wheels and anchor in silicon

Considering that the Freak was a monster from the start, it is hard not to think of the date here as a missed opportunity. The Freak deserves a date function every bit as extreme as its other timekeeping functions. No doubt adding a date function was challenging but we think the watchmakers should have thought about how to deliver an extraordinary date function. The limited edition (99 pieces only) version, exclusive to Ulysse Nardin boutiques around the world, also adds a dimension of material experimentation. The case middle and lugs are in blackened titanium while the bezel is in carbon fiber. We are not sure what process has been applied to get this finish on the titanium but we are willing to bet it is not anodizing! Likewise, we are unsure what the effect of having the balance at the center of the watch is and we won’t speculate here. Nevertheless, a central escapement seems like a good idea, if we only think of the escapement. This sentiment is amplified when one thinks of this movement, which has a massive mainspring beneath the exposed gear train and escapement methodically and merrily going about their dance of time.

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Specs

  • Dimensions: 45mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, date
  • Power reserve: 7 days
  • Movement: Mechanical, ultra-thin, manual-winding, calibre CRMA6
  • Water resistance: NA
  • Material: Titanium and carbon fiber, with rubber strap
  • Limited to 99 pieces

Interview: Max Büsser for MB&F

A decade of fantastical watchmaking later, MB&F’s Maximilian Büsser reflects on his road to rekindling our child-like curiosity with his avant-garde Horological Machines and Legacy Machines.

Some watch journalists have met Büsser so many times that they (including Luxuo’s Associate Publisher) just call him Max. Now this isn’t because Max is everyone’s best friend. In fact it is about sincerity. Max is nothing if not sincere, even when making a sales pitch. He can have very specific objectives and hew extremely closely to a carefully crafted script but he doesn’t spin the sorts of marketing tales that we typically expect from the more charismatic of watchmaking folks.

In this interview with the man who puts the MB in MB&F, originally published in Men’s Folio Singapore, we discover the truth of that statement.

Is your motivation still the same as 10 years ago?

It’s different. When I created MB&F, there was a lot of rage and anger. It was a rebellion against the industry – “How can they do such boring stuff all the time? I want to create something incredible!” Now, it’s not that at all. Now, it’s a creative adventure, which is all pleasure. Don’t get me wrong; we’ve had a lot of tough moments over the last 10 years, we’ve stumbled many times. But what’s important is we’ve always gotten back up on our feet, and each time we did, we were stronger. There’s virtually no more anger 10 years after, so it’s good.

MB&F Horological Machine No. 6: Space Pirate

According to Max, the HM6 (above) is the craziest watch MB&F have ever created

You said that you’ve achieved the size you wanted for MB&F, what then is next for the brand?

That’s funny because most people ask, “If you’re not growing, what’s going to happen?” Well, this year we’re doing 17 launches, 19 the next, but we’re not growing! We’re just being more creative, reinvesting every cent of what we make into creating, being smarter and getting out of our comfort zones. The goal is to create, not money or growth, and that’s rare. I’ve become addicted to creating. Production, sales, that’s all just ‘necessary evil’ to me; creating is the cool stuff. But I must admit this change in my life. From a 100 per cent creator, I’m now a creator at MB&F and a curator with my M.A.D. Galleries, and both give me equal pleasure.

How do you keep the creative streak going?

It’s an addiction. I’ve discovered over the last 10 years that this is my story I’m writing. I’m not doing this for the shareholders or the business, I’m doing it for myself. And on top of that, I’ve done a ton of other things I never expected to. If you had told me back then that I would one day create a round watch, I would have said, “Never! The rage!” Now I’ve created a music box, a clock, and an art gallery. So you evolve, and maybe some day, I don’t want to create anymore, but I doubt it. That’s not the way I function.

MB&F stands for Max Büsser & Friends. Did you ever take a step back to wonder why these “Friends” were willing to embark on this journey with you?

The initial Friends who joined me didn’t do so because I made them believe it was going to be a great journey. I didn’t promise them anything. They joined me because we already had a lot of pleasure and fun working together at Harry Winston. More importantly, they knew I was extremely trustworthy. When I say something, I’d do it. So they went into it with minimal risks. What we bring to the “Friends” is we take them out of their routine, because they’re all working in an industry where brands are doing more or less the same things and products look more or less the same. It’s funny because initially I had to jumpstart them, push them out of their comfort zones. Now, four or five years later, the same people are coming to me looking for the next project. So I brought to them a pleasure in working that they perhaps did not have with mainstream brands.

MELCHIOR – MB&F by L’Epée 1839

Melchior (above) is one of MB&F’s 10th anniversary pieces

What gave you the idea for three-dimensional timekeeping?

I don’t know actually! It was something I wanted to explore. I have to give credit to Felix Baumgartner of Urwerk, who blew me away with the UR-103. That sort of opened the door for me and made me realise that I adored what he’d done, and that I’d love to do something similar. So I owe Felix a lot.

Do you see your Horological Machines as inhabiting the realm of horology or art?

It’s really a cross-junction of both. The art aspect lies in the fact that it’s a selfish, creative process. It’s about expressing what I want to express, there is absolutely zero commercial considerations involved. The watchmaking comes when we deconstruct traditional watchmaking and reconstruct it into a piece of mechanical art. So for me, watchmaking is the canvas and the brush. I can’t sing, paint or make a sculpture, but give me the chance to rework a watch movement into something crazy, and it comes naturally. I don’t know why I can do that – it’s a gift.

Which of the Horological Machines is most representative of MB&F?

I’m a pretty bipolar individual, so I have to say there are two. Clearly, in the iconic sense of what has ‘ruffled’ the industry, the HM6 Space Pirate is the craziest piece of watchmaking we’ve done to date. At the same time, we are the creators of legacies, and the very first LM1 (Legacy Machine) is going to be an iconic piece going forward. I think it’s proof that you can be creative in the space of a very classic timepiece.

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The LM Perpetual is the latest time sculpture from MB&F, its first perpetual calendar

Would it be fair to say that one of the strengths of your timepieces is the storytelling?

I’m not a movement creator or a designer, so I get upset when we win design prizes – except for the Red Dot Award, that was pretty cool. But because we create concepts, you’re right to say there’s a story. I have a little issue with the word “storytelling”, because for me, that’s having a boring product and spinning an angle to try to make it interesting. We have great products with real stories, and we spend our time telling those stories – the product is the story.

And a lot of them are influenced by science fiction.

People think I’m a sci-fi geek when I’m not at all. They’re inspired by my childhood. My defence mechanism for being an only child who’s always lonely was to have an incredible imaginary life, and that’s being Captain Kirk or Han Solo defeating the Death Star. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to see the next Star Wars, that’s not who I am! When you’re a kid, everything is rich and vivid, and since my creativity is also my psychotherapy, I basically delved into that part of my life to revisit what made me happy then.

“A creative adult is a child who survived” – how did you preserve your inner child?

A hundred per cent of all children are creative: They sing, they dance, they draw. Then, 90 per cent of them become boring, uncreative adults. What happened? What caused this mass massacre of creativity? Children are creative because they’re not afraid of being wrong, and that gives them the freedom to create. But then, parents tell their kids they have to be the best if they want to be happy. Professors, of course, only accept the right answers, and bosses fire you if you’re wrong – the whole of society conspires to scare the living death out of you! So you lose your creativity. I was a creative child who became a boring young adult, but luckily for me, I managed to recapture it through my work. And it didn’t happen overnight; it took years where each time I dealt with something a little crazy, I realized I got pleasure out of it. So how do you keep that inner child? Stop being scared of being wrong.

 

Story Credits

Text by Yong Wei Jian

Extra Flat: Richard Mille RM 67-01

Swiss watch firm Richard Mille made waves with the RM 016 Ultra Thin model in 2010 and the company is stirring things up for 2016 with the RM 67-01 Automatic Extra Flat. Now this new model, a pre-SIHH release, is based off the RM 010 so collectors will be familiar with it. The most obvious and salient point to note here is that this is the first tonneau-shaped wristwatch from Richard Mille to be offered in ultra-thin or extra-flat mode. This sets it apart from the aforementioned RM 016 and RM 33-01. More details, and crucially images, will be available at the SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie) which will be held in Geneva from January 18 to January 22, 2016.

What is known as of this moment is that the automatic watch is only 7.75mm thick and is powered by a skeletonized CRMA6 automatic movement (3.6mm thick). As far as we know, this is the slimmest Richard Mille watch yet and possibly the slimmest tonneau-shaped watch and movement, period. According to the press release, the calibre CRMA6 was created by in-house specialists, which we will certainly try to look into further at the SIHH itself. Briefly, RM 67-01 displays hours, minutes and the date and has a function indicator. The power reserve is 50 hours.

RM67-01 BACK RGB

The view via the exhibition caseback looks amazing, revealing a very high degree of skeletonization on the barrel, the rotor, the gear train and the bridges of the automatic winding mechanism. This is even more impressive when one considers that the baseplate and the bridges are in grade 5 titanium and finished with an extroplasma treatment. While the press kit does not get into it, extroplasma may refer to plasma electrolytic oxidation, a process generating oxide coatings on metals that offers protection against wear and corrosion.

Dial-side, the date window is positioned at 5 o’clock in a vertical opening, complete with an outline in Luminova, while function indicator is located between 1 and 2 o’clock. This indicator makes it easy to see the winding, date setting and hand-setting positions of the crown.

The indices are made of metal and mounted on two linked and rigid titanium rails attached directly to the movement. Each index has been filled with Luminova for better legibility in the dark, which is a first for Richard Mille.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 38.7mm x 47mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, date, function indicator
  • Power reserve: 50 hours
  • Movement: Mechanical, ultra-thin, self-winding (platinum rotor), calibre CRMA6
  • Water resistance: 50 meters
  • Material: Titanium, with rubber strap