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Highlights of Rare Watches from Antiquorum’s June Auction in New York

With preview from 19 June leading up the June 22nd auction of “Important Modern and Vintage Timpieces”, collectors from all over the world can now participate in Antiquorum’s auction online or in person at Antiquorum’s offices located at 805 Third Avenue in New York City. Meanwhile, here are some of the Highlights of Rare Watches from Antiquorum’s June Auction in New York with prime horological exemplars including Rolex, Patek Philippe and particularly significant A. Lange & Sohne.

Highlights of Rare Watches from Antiquorum’s June Auction in New York (and available online)

Perhaps, due to the ubiquity and almost universal love for Rolex in the watch collecting world, it’s almost inevitable that a Rolex Ref. 6239 Paul Newman naturally headlines the sale of most watch auctions, Antiquorum’s including. Come 22 June, the Rolex Ref. 6239 Paul Newman with Tropical Dial in Steel, unarguably one of the most  sought-after vintage Rolex sports model today goes on sale. Antiquorum’s own appraisers believe that it is sure to attract worldwide attention due to the striking “tropical” subdials, naturally faded into a soft and creamy chocolate color, enhancing the exceptional beauty of this vintage Rolex Daytona. Sans screw-down pushers, this rare and desirable vintage Rolex Daytona made circa 1965 is accompanied by service papers dated May 30, 1995.

1. Rolex Ref. 6239 Paul Newman with Tropical Dial in Steel

This Rolex Ref. 6239 Paul Newman with Tropical Dial in Steel, unarguably one of the most sought-after vintage Rolex sports model today goes on sale at Antiquorum's Important Modern and Vintage Timpieces, this June in New York. Estimated auction price: $70,000 -$100,000

This Rolex Ref. 6239 Paul Newman with Tropical Dial in Steel, unarguably one of the most sought-after vintage Rolex sports model today goes on sale at Antiquorum’s Important Modern and Vintage Timpieces, this June in New York. Estimated auction price: $70,000 -$100,000

Another extraordinary highlight of the  “Important Modern and Vintage Timpieces” Antiquorum auction is the Patek Philippe Ref. 5078 Minute-Repeater with Black Dial in Platinum. Sold in 2010, one of the lesser known but more charming attributes of a Patek Philippe Ref. in platinum is a small diamond in the mid-case at 6 o’clock, differentiating a watch of exceptional material from the more commonplace white gold (or God forbid, mistaken for mirror polished steel) – a visual reminder of the superior exclusivity of this Patek Philippe Minute-Repeater with black lacquer dial. This Patek Ref. 5078 is accompanied by a certificate of origin and a solid platinum case back, which unfortunately, would obscure the view of the superlative finishing (Geneva stripes, guilloche, graining and chamfering of the various components) of the Calibre 27 R PS.

2. Patek Philippe Ref. 5078 Minute-Repeater with Black Dial in Platinum

This Patek Philippe Ref. 5078 Minute-Repeater with Black Dial in Platinum from the Antiquorum auction "Important Modern and Vintage Timpieces" is accompanied by a certificate of origin and a solid platinum case back, which unfortunately, would obscure the view of the superlative finishing on the chiming calibre. Estimated auction price: $250,000 - $350,000

This Patek Philippe Ref. 5078 Minute-Repeater with Black Dial in Platinum from the Antiquorum auction “Important Modern and Vintage Timpieces” is accompanied by a certificate of origin and a solid platinum case back, which unfortunately, would obscure the view of the superlative finishing on the chiming calibre. Estimated auction price: $250,000 – $350,000

Connoisseurs of A. Lange & Sohne will be chomping at the bit for this Antiquorum auction piece, up for grabs – an A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 Ref. 704025 Tourbillon in Platinum with Special Ordered Blue Steel Hands. Why? Because this  A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 Ref. 704025 is a bonafide rare highlight, the only known example in platinum fitted with blue steel hands. Apparently, it was a bespoke custom order ordained by the late honorary Chairman Walter Lange himself for a special customer. The provenance of this piece is impeccable – from manufacture documentation of special dispensation for this unique A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 reference, preserved in pristine unworn condition complete with original accessories, acquisition of this Lange 1 is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

3. A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 Ref. 704025 Tourbillon in Platinum with Special Ordered Blue Steel Hands

Made in 2011, this is an extremely rare A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 Ref. 704025 Tourbillon in Platinum with Special Ordered Blue Steel Hands is a unique piece ordained by Walter Lange himself for a special customer. It is the only known example in platinum fitted with blue steel hands; and it can be yours thanks to this Antiquorum auction in June. Estimated auction price: $100,000 - $150,000

Made in 2011, this is an extremely rare A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 Ref. 704025 Tourbillon in Platinum with Special Ordered Blue Steel Hands is a unique piece ordained by Walter Lange himself for a special customer. It is the only known example in platinum fitted with blue steel hands; and it can be yours thanks to this Antiquorum auction in June. Estimated auction price: $100,000 – $150,000

Also for sale at the June Antiquorum auction in New York is an unopen and unworn Patek Philippe Ref. 5970 Chronograph Perpetual Calendar in Yellow Gold. Widely considered to be the best watch Patek Philippe ever made due to its balanced proportions, it had a relatively short run from 2004 to 2011 due to the introduction of the in-house calibre 5270. Sold in 2008, this Lemania-based Patek Philippe Ref. 5970 Chronograph Perpetual Calendar in 18K yellow gold with perpetual calendar, moon phases, chronograph and tachymeter is considered by watch collectors to be one of the safer investments when it comes to watch collecting (the piece previously hammered north of US$89 thousand, now they cost double now at Gemnation). The lot offered by Antiquorum comes with the original wooden box, Certificate of Origin, solid 18K yellow gold caseback, setting pin and booklets.

4. Patek Philippe Ref. 5970 Chronograph Perpetual Calendar in 18K yellow gold

The Lemania-based Patek Philippe Ref. 5970 Chronograph Perpetual Calendar in 18K yellow gold is considered by many watch collectors to be one of the safer "investment pieces". Case in point, auction prices have risen from each subsequent auction. Estimated Antiquorum auction price: $90,000 -$130,000

The Lemania-based Patek Philippe Ref. 5970 Chronograph Perpetual Calendar in 18K yellow gold is considered by many watch collectors to be one of the safer “investment pieces”. Case in point, auction prices have risen from each subsequent auction. Estimated Antiquorum auction price: $90,000 -$130,000

Next up, not the most auction friendly (in terms of value appreciation) but definitely one of the more interesting timepieces for bids at Antiquorum’s online auction, the Jean Dunand Shabaka Piece Unique in White Gold, made circa 2007. We find the Jean Dunand Shabaka particularly appealing due to the unique roller-system to indicate calendar information. Its art deco aesthetic is undeniable as is its geometric and angular case. That’s not even counting the minute repeater function. This unusual Antiquorum auction piece is available in large 18K white gold and originally retailed for $515,000. Though it’s not expected to fetch a wealth of bids, it does come as a complete set with original box, certificate, setting tool and instruction set.

5. Jean Dunand Shabaka Piece Unique in White Gold

Not the most auction friendly (in terms of value appreciation) but definitely one of the more interesting timepieces for bids at Antiquorum's online auction, the Jean Dunand Shabaka Piece Unique in White Gold originally retailed for US$515,000 but it's estimated to fetch: $80,000 - $120,000

Not the most auction friendly (in terms of value appreciation) but definitely one of the more interesting timepieces for bids at Antiquorum’s online auction, the Jean Dunand Shabaka Piece Unique in White Gold originally retailed for US$515,000 but it’s estimated to fetch: $80,000 – $120,000

One of the outstanding highlights of rare watches from Antiquorum’s June auction in New York is this amazing openworked Christophe Claret Piece Unique Tourbillon De La Roche In Platinum. A unique piece inspired by Christophe Claret’s acquisition of Chateau De La Roche in the Besancon region of France in September 2005, the Christophe Claret Piece Unique Tourbillon De La Roche is so named for the property of Baron Othon De La Roche, Duke of Athens and a knight of the fourth crusade. Made circa 2005, this is a unique and stunning, platinum and sapphire-set tourbillon wristwatch with a visible one-minute tourbillon regulator movement is made especially intriguing thanks to visible gearwork unobstructed by a dial.

6. Christophe Claret Piece Unique Tourbillon De La Roche In Platinum

The Christophe Claret Piece Unique Tourbillon De La Roche is so named for the property of Baron Othon De La Roche, Duke of Athens and a knight of the fourth crusade. One of the outstanding highlights of rare watches from Antiquorum’s June auction in New York, estimated to fetch $55,000 to $85,000

The Christophe Claret Piece Unique Tourbillon De La Roche is so named for the property of Baron Othon De La Roche, Duke of Athens and a knight of the fourth crusade. One of the outstanding highlights of rare watches from Antiquorum’s June auction in New York, estimated to fetch $55,000 to $85,000

Not exactly a highlight (due to relative availability as far as rare watches go), not exactly a staple but a fan favourite at many rare watch auctions and perhaps one of the most affordable “panda” style Rolex 6263s, Antiquorum has a Rolex Ref. 6263 Big Red in Steel up for bids this June. You’d be remiss to lose out, considering it’s a piece of history at a smidgen more than the price of the new ceramic Daytonas.

7. Rolex Ref. 6263 Big Red in Steel

The June Antiquorum auction in New York has a Rolex Ref. 6263 Big Red in Steel up for bids this June estimated to fetch: $25,000 – 35,000.

The June Antiquorum auction in New York has a Rolex Ref. 6263 Big Red in Steel up for bids this June estimated to fetch: $25,000 – 35,000.

No one ever says no to a Pepsi, especially when it comes in Rolex GMT form, even a Coke fan will acquiesce. A rare and definitely interesting highlight is this Rolex Ref. 6542 GMT Bakelite Bezel with Gilt Tropical Dial in Steel. Made in 1955, it’s in pretty good shape considering that Bakelite bezels have become extremely rare due to their fragility and were often replaced with later metal inserts. This Antiquorum lot up for auction in June still retains its original Bakelite bezel and the dial has turned a beautiful brown color.

8. Rolex Ref. 6542 GMT Bakelite Bezel with Gilt Tropical Dial in Steel

This Antiquorum lot Rolex Ref. 6542 GMT with Gilt Tropical Dial in Steel up for auction in June still retains its original Bakelite bezel and the dial has turned a beautiful brown color. Estimated auction price: $15,000 - $35,000

This Antiquorum lot Rolex Ref. 6542 GMT with Gilt Tropical Dial in Steel up for auction in June still retains its original Bakelite bezel and the dial has turned a beautiful brown color. Estimated auction price: $15,000 – $35,000

Something for the ladies too…

A 1970s, Patek Philippe Ref. 4347 Lady’s Diamond & Yellow Gold wristwatch. The rare and not exactly rectangular, cushion-shaped, 18K yellow gold and diamond lady’s wristwatch with a stunning turquoise dial and integrated 18K yellow gold woven Patek Philippe mesh bracelet.

1970s, Patek Philippe Ref. 4347 Lady’s Diamond & Yellow Gold wristwatch

The Antiquorum for Lots 1-208 will begin at Thursday, June 22, 10am Eastern Daylight Time. You can bid online or attend the preview from 19 to 21 June (11am to 7pm) or be present at the live auction at this address on 22 June:

Antiquorum Auctioneers
805 Third Avenue, 10 fl
New York, NY 10022
Tel (212) 750 -1103
Email: [email protected]

Patek Philippe presents ‘The Art of Watches, Grand Exhibition’ in New York

Luxury Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe celebrates its long history and prowess in watch making with a 10-day exhibition. The show, titled ‘The Art of Watches, Grand Exhibition New York 2017’ is slated to take place from July 13 to 23 at Ciprani 42nd Street. A showcase of the Swiss watchmaker’s 178-year-old history, the exhibition covers the tradition of haute horologerie and the brand’s heritage, giving visitors the chance to peak into the world of the last privately family owned Geneva Watch Company.

Watches and timepieces from 1530 will be put on show in a space of 13,218 square feet. The exhibition consists of 10 different rooms, each created to showcase different bits of history. Amongst these is the Napoleon room, which will display limited edition timepieces created specifically for the US market. For a trip back in time, visit the Museum room. Some of the greatest historical timepieces from the last five centuries, including the oldest timepieces to date will be put on view. Not to be missed is the Grand Complication room: Dedicated to Patek Philippe’s most complicated and innovative timepieces, this collection will no doubt showcase the brand’s mastery in horology.

Other than browsing through the informative sections, feast your eyes on Watchmaker and Artisan demonstrations at the Interactive room. Dive into the inner workings of luxury watchmaking by taking part in these activities. For a quick break, the Patek Philippe Café is a great place for rest and relaxation.

Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon

According to Jasmina Steele, the International Communication & Public Relations Director of Patek Philippe, the aim of the Grand Exhibition is to recreate elements of the company that will provide an unforgettable experience for each visitor as close as possible to the feeling Patek Philippe guests have when they visit the company’s manufacture in Geneva, The Museum, and the historical Salons on the Rue du Rhone. “By offering visitors an immersion inside the world of Patek Philippe, we really want to share our passion for watchmaking and hope visitors will come out of the Exhibition with a greater knowledge and appreciation of the art of watches”, says Jasmina.

Patek Philippe President Thierry Stern commented “From its earliest days, when our founder Antoine Norbert de Patek made his first journey to America in the 1850’s until today, the importance of America to Patek Philippe can be seen through our history exhibited in the Grand Exhibition in New York. Moreover, it is a tradition in my family that the owners of Patek Philippe train in the new world, following the path of my grandfather Henri who founded in 1946 the Henri Stern Watch Agency in the Rockefeller Center and my father Philippe, I trained in the US when I started in the company. I am very proud that American visitors will be able to learn more about the historic and contemporary ties between our company and the American market.”

The Art of Watches, Grand Exhibition opens on July 13 and will be open to the general public. Admissions are free of charge from 10am-7pm on Monday to Sunday, with extended evening hours on Thursday, July 20 from 10am-9pm

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.

Unique watches that break the rules: 7 amazing luxury timepieces from Cartier to Patek Philippe with unconventional designs

Watchmaking is unmistakably about craftsmanship. Some commentators insist that watchmaking is very much like art and this might be true but only if one considers it an industrialized and cooperative art, like filmmaking. Nevertheless, the imaginations of luxury watchmakers have birthed timepieces that are out of this world, effectively making them larger than life. This spread takes that idea and brings it to life, paying tribute to the efforts of the watchmakers. Combining both technical elegance and grit, these seven watches challenge the boundaries of watchmaking, if there are any.

HYT H3

Known for their state of the art luxury fluidic watches, the HYT H3 defies the generalisation of traditional watches. Incorporating a linear design as the series’ trademark, the H3 is a step away from the usual circular face in previous ‘H’ watches.  A capillary is located above a horizontal layer of 6 cubes –which contain each quarter of the day- that operates on a jump hour. Clockwork: the red retrograde minute hand snaps back from 60 to 00 after every hour. When it’s the last hour of the quarter the green liquid retracts back to the first cube signaling a new part of the day. The movement is powered by the energy created a pair of bellows as well as a vacuum in the fluid system. Shockingly unique and mesmerizing, the H3 unlocks a whole new world to watch design and engineering.

Patek Philippe Grand Complications Ref. 6300G-001 Grandmaster Chime

A more classic take on its cousin, the blockbuster Grandmaster Chime Ref. 5175, legendary watchmaker Patek Philippe has unveiled a new reference of its 175th-anniversary giant. The 6300G-001 is a double-faced reversible wristwatch that includes the original 20 head spinning complications. Its two faces showcase the sonnerie and time, the other a full perpetual calendar. The 6300G-001is the most complicated wristwatch of all time but not by the mere number of complications. Obviously there are mechanical wonders with more complications but none has dared to take the pinnacle of timekeeping – the grand sonnerie – to even greater heights by sounding out the date too. As of 2017, no other watch has even come close.

Bell & Ross BR-X1 Chronograph Tourbillon Sapphire

Bell & Ross has long been a brand fascinated with vintage aviation design. This admiration has been captured and reimagined in multiple forms through its BR series. With the BR-X1 Chronograph Tourbillon Sapphire, this dedication is encased in a 45mm case cut out from nine blocks of sapphire, adding a degree of technical complexity that one can feel as well as see – and see through. This renders the watch fully transparent, providing a window to view all of its intricacies. The case is paired with a translucent rubber strap inlaid with metallic finish woven Kevlar, achieving contemporary style and finish.

Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Astromystèrieux

When you look at a watch like the Rotonde de Cartier Astromystérieux, the illusion it presents is near hypnotic. The watch’s central display area is completely transparent, adding instead of taking away from the mysteries of its workings. With the word ‘mystery’ smack in its name, it is no wonder this piece by Cartier presents itself as another horological puzzle. The question this watch poses is how it is connected to the winding and setting mechanism, which is via the crown. As you can see, there appears to be no connection between the mechanical calibre and the crown. Well, how does it work? Four separate sapphire crystal disks are layered upon each other — each housing a different component — creating an illusion that the entire movement is suspended in the oculus of the watch dial. The juxtaposition between the elegance and complexity of this watch is what makes it breathtaking.

Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari

As Ferrari‘s official timekeeper and watchmaker, Hublot first revealed the MP-05 LaFerrari in 2013 and has since put out a full sapphire version. The original all-black watch was created as a tribute to Ferrari, with its design reminiscent of the iconic LaFerrari car’s V-shaped engine block. The watch’s movement runs on an astounding 637 components, coupled with a scratch resistant sapphire crystal face and a matte black finish for the titanium case. Black anodized cylinders with red accents along the 11 mainspring barrels reveal the time. With an exceptional power reserve of 50 days, the LaFerrari surely does live up to its powerful counterpart.

Franck Muller Vanguard Gravity

Franck Muller‘s avant-garde style is revered as refreshingly different and daring, and this leading watch master has never been known to follow the norms. Part of the Vanguard collection, the Vanguard Gravity embodies the company’s raison d’être of uniqueness in both technicality and design. Boasting peerless visual impact in a tourbillon watch (the tourbillon section is massive), the watch represents an evolution of the Cintrée Curvex aesthetic. Set off center, the balance wheel pulls attention to the curved cage that holds it in place.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Quatour Cobalt MicroMelt

The Roger Dubuis Excalibur Quatuor Cobalt MicroMelt is not a new watch per se, but rather a revamped version in a striking new material. Having recently made its debut at SIHH 2017, the watch boasts a cobalt-chromium alloy case, making it a world-first. Extremely resistant to the effects of time, the case is made using MicroMelt technology. Like precious metals that maintain their lustre forever, this new material promises to be eternal – while also adding an element of extreme durability. This process consists of melting the alloy down before a high-pressure gas stream is employed, atomizing the alloy and resulting in a powder. Followed by a hot-isostatic pressing, it is condensed into maximum density making the case material extremely durable. The incredible technology used to create this timepiece is what boosts it into our list.

These images were first published as a spread in the Festive Issue 2016 of WOW (World of Watches). The WOW team would like to highlight that this spread was incorrectly credited. The digital artist responsible is Zi Wen. 

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

Review: Patek Philippe World Timer Ref. 5230

One of the most agonising dilemmas, and also the most pleasurable conundrums, a watch collector could ever face is having to choose a Patek Philippe complication, especially if it is to be one’s first complicated Patek Philippe watch – that it wouldn’t be the last is another matter for the very fortunate individuals. Just when your heart says it should be an annual calendar piece, your brain tells you it can only be a chronograph model. Then there’s the world timer, which you’ve set your eyes on since forever…

Don’t bother asking Siri. Unless you want to send her straight into shut down mode – or a complete system meltdown. And don’t type this question into Google unless you want to break the Internet, which is far, far worse. OK, we jest. But it’s not like we have a solution and we have been debating for years. Just know this: there is no right or wrong choice. There is only the timely choice, like this Patek Philippe World Time Ref. 5230. Let us explain.

New for 2016, Ref. 5230 is poised to replace all existing world timers at Patek Philippe. This means that it is the latest and most updated version of the watch. Doubtlessly, the manufacture constantly updates all of its timepieces, but for the world timer, this is especially germane, seeing as the world is also constantly changing. In particular, indication of the world’s time zones would see all kinds of fluctuations every now and then. Some zones are now defined by new cities: Dubai instead of Riyadh, for instance, and Brisbane instead of Noumea (capital city of New Caledonia).

In 2014, Moscow switched from UTC +4 to UTC +3. As such, Ref. 5230 is the perfect platform to reflect all these changes, although, the world time display isn’t the only part of the watch to be updated. Patek Philippe took the opportunity to rework the case, dial, and hands, giving the watch a refreshing new look that, however, isn’t too far from its original mien.

While it comes with the traditional Calatrava case, its lugs and bezel deserve special mention. Winglet-style lugs lend it an old-school vibe and the narrow, polished bezel distinguishes it from the earlier world timers. Unlike Ref. 5131, this watch does not have the “Patek Philippe” and “Geneve” engravings on the bezel – for every one collector who would be pleased with this touch of refinement, another will bemoan the loss of a small but treasured detail.

The hands are another part of the watch that got an update. Before, the gold hours hand is ring-shaped. Now, it reflects the contours of the Southern Cross constellation. The minutes hand, too, changed from Dauphine to a lozenge shape. Both hands mark their individual paths around the dial, which features a hand-guillochéd center featuring an elaborate vieux panier basket weave pattern. This center portion of the Patek Philippe world timer is always a source of delight for watch connoisseurs, as it typically showcases exquisite guillochage in various styles (grain d’orge, sunburst, etc) or cloisonné enamel featuring, appropriately, a world map.

Otherwise, the core aesthetics remain unchanged, with a cities ring encircling the dial and the 24-hour ring with day/night indication. Local time refers to time in the city indicated by the red arrow tip at 12 o’clock, while the remaining 23 time zones can be deciphered at a glance. Control the 24-hour ring by pushing the button at 10 o’clock, which is synchronised with the hours hand. The minutes hand, however, can be adjusted freely by manipulating the crown – especially handy when you’re travelling to cities with half- or quarter-hour deviations.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 38.5mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, world time with 24 time zones
  • Power Reserve: 48 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding Calibre 240 with 24 time zones and micro-rotor providing 48-hour power reserve
  • Material: White or rose gold
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Hand-stitched alligator leather in black or chocolate brown with fold-over clasp

 

This article was first published in World of Watches.

Christie’s Forecasts Realistic Auction Prices

Christie’s Forecasts Realistic Auction Prices

The world has gotten used to ever increasing values for virtually all categories of so-called investments of passion over the last few years. Nevertheless, Christie’s is cautioning that “selective demand” and the global slump in demand is pushing the auction house to seek more “realistic estimates” on their offerings in the coming auction season.

“This year the market is not at the same level as it was one year or two years ago. We are facing a more challenging market,” Guillaume Cerruti, Christie’s president for Europe, the Middle East, Russia and India, told journalists in Dubai.

“To face this situation, the key word for us is selectivity,” he said, announcing two auctions this week in the glitzy Gulf emirate, one on Modern and Contemporary Art and another showcasing Important Watches.

“We want to have sales that are well curated, sales with maybe less objects but of high quality at… realistic estimates,” he said.

Displaying a distinct preference for finding an upside, he did not provide specific figures on the fall in overall sales. Instead, he said that online-only sales “have been a real success.”

“For the first six months of the year, we have sold through our online-only sales of 20 million pounds ($24.4 million) around the world,” a 100-percent over the same period of 2015, he added.

“We’re making sure that we find good quality of works that are well priced to ride through this more challenging period,” said Christie’s Middle East managing director, Michael Jeha.

In an auction on Tuesday of 113 artworks, the highest estimated price has been set at $180,000, far below the $400,000 price tag on paintings sold in March this year. Around 150 watches go up for auction on Wednesday, with estimated prices reaching $250,000.

Among them are two Patek Philippe 18K white gold automatic wristwatches with the Iraqi coat of arms and the name “Saddam”, after executed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein who ordered the watches in 1974 and 1980 as gifts. Their prices are estimated at $10,000 and $18,000 each.

London-based Christie’s, which celebrates its 250th anniversary on December 5, says its sales at Dubai auctions have exceeded $300 million since it opened a branch in the emirate 10 years ago.

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

Patek Philippe Nautilus 40th Anniversary Watches

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

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

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

8939_pub_nautilus

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

5711_1p_rvb_patekpress08_1624568

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

5976_1g_rvb_patekpress08_1624514hd

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

Specs

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

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

WOW160126(Character)-006

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.

23 Watches Offering Multiple Complications

Whether for increased functionality, to uphold tradition, or just because, an extra serving of complex mechanics always delights the connoisseur. Here, we take a look at several timepieces that will make you do a double take.

Chronograph + Calendar

Breitling Navitimer 01

Breitling Navitimer 01

Mention the chronograph, and a sporty timepiece invariably comes to mind. It’s an easy association to make, since the complication has played pivotal roles in the tales of derring-do that have taken place in cockpits, race cars, and even outer space. Its contributions in less thrilling situations may be oft overlooked, but aren’t any less significant. Doctors in the past, for instance, relied on chronographs with pulsometer scales to quickly and accurately determine their patients’ heart rates. The chronograph’s myriad uses make it one of the handiest complications to have on the wrist – even today – whether in a robust, sporty timepiece designed to brave the elements, or a dressier one meant for the office. So what better complication to pair it with, than another perennially useful one – the calendar?

Date And Time
Omega Speedmaster White Side of the Moon

Omega Speedmaster White Side of the Moon

The calendar is the most relevant astronomical complication for daily life, bar none, which explains its ubiquity in watches. Combine it with the chronograph, and a winner emerges. On the technical front, this isn’t particularly difficult, since calendar modules can be stacked onto an existing movement relatively easily, if it doesn’t already have a date indicator. There are also plenty of choices, depending on the desired level of complexity for the watch, as well as the considerations for its dial design.

The most straightforward option is, of course, a simple date indicator that requires an adjustment at the end of every month with less than 31 days. Most integrated chronograph movements will already include such a complication, since it doesn’t take up much space, requires few parts, and is simple to accomplish. The Breitling Calibre 01 used in the Navitimer 01 is one such example, with the date display at 4:30 on the dial. Omega’s co-axial Calibre 9300 is another; its date window sits at six o’clock to maintain the symmetry of the watch’s bi-compax layout, as shown in the Speedmaster White Side of the Moon.

Zenith El Primero Winsor Annual Calendar

Zenith El Primero Winsor Annual Calendar

Annual Affair

To kick things up a notch, the chronograph can be paired with the annual calendar, which requires a manual correction just once a year at the end of every February. The added complexity of the complication is apparent on the dial, which now displays the day of the week and the month. This can be managed in different ways. In the Annual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5905P, Patek Philippe began by doing away with a running seconds hand, thus removing a sub-dial entirely. The hour totaliser was also excluded to leave a single counter at six o’clock, which marks the elapsed minutes, to further reduce clutter. Zenith, on the other hand, removed just the hour totaliser (arguably the least used portion of the chronograph), but kept the small seconds sub-dial on its El Primero Winsor Annual Calendar.

Good Till 2100
IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition "75th Anniversary"

IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition “75th Anniversary”

If the annual calendar isn’t enough, there’s always the perpetual calendar. The usage of this complication moves the watch into high watchmaking territory, and creates an interesting dichotomy at the same time. As long as the watch is kept running, the perpetual calendar requires no input from its wearer (at least until 2100), so having a chronograph function encourages him to interact more with it – start-stop-reset, start-stop-reset.

Presenting the information from a chronograph and a perpetual calendar becomes even more challenging with the inclusion of a leap year indicator. For Hublot, this necessitated the combination of multiple indicators into each sub-dial, as the Big Bang Chrono Perpetual Calendar shows. The counter at nine o’clock, for instance, combines the month, leap year, and chronograph minute totaliser, with the information displayed in three concentric layers. The brand also organised the information with distinct visual cues – white arrow-tipped hands for the calendar, red-tipped hands for the chronograph, and plain stick hands for the time. The thoughtful layout has even enabled Hublot to sneak in a moon phase indicator.

Hublot Big Bang Chrono Perpetual Calendar

Hublot Big Bang Chrono Perpetual Calendar

IWC, on the other hand, took a different route by utilising digital displays in its Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition ‘’75th Anniversary’’ watch. By confining the date and month to two such displays, the manufacture could free up valuable real estate on the dial for an airier design. The chronograph sub-dial reinforces this by merging the minute and hour totalisers, which also allows elapsed time to be read like a normal watch, rather than the more common 30-minute counter.

Time Zones + Alarm

Vulcain Aviator Cricket

Vulcain Aviator Cricket

The world timer was created to allow its wearer to keep track of multiple time zones at a glance. From this came the simpler GMT complication that Rolex developed for airline pilots, to provide them with an easy reference for Greenwich Mean Time, the basis of all flight operations. These complications didn’t remain the exclusive domain of businessmen and aviators though. Globalisation, best exemplified by the democratisation of air travel in the mid-20th century, made both the world timer and GMT complications popular with a far wider audience, and has kept them relevant even today.

Ringing Reminder
Hublot Big Bang Alarm Repeater

Hublot Big Bang Alarm Repeater

Of course, one could use a little help if he has multiple time zones to keep track of. A rotating bezel could work – just align the 12 o’clock marker to the important time, and it will serve as a reminder. Why not go one step further, though, and use an actual alarm? Archaic as it seems, a mechanical alarm does offer benefits over its digital counterpart that’s available on a smartphone. For one, it’s integrated with the watch, which never leaves its wearer’s wrist, so it cannot be misplaced. There’re also no concerns with battery life either. Since the complication is powered by a separate mainspring that’s wound up manually, keeping it ‘charged’ is a nonissue.

Blancpain Leman Réveil GMT

Blancpain Leman Réveil GMT

Although the mechanical alarm isn’t a common complication, some manufactures do offer it in watches that track multiple time zones. Vulcain is one of them, as the brand was already producing watches equipped with mechanical alarms for Swissair pilots in the 1950s to help them with the important milestones in a flight. The spiritual successor to those watches is the Aviator Cricket, which pairs the world timer with a mechanical alarm. Operating the watch is easy: The alarm is set by positioning the central red-tipped hand to the desired time. Blancpain and Hublot have similar offerings, albeit with the GMT complication instead of a world timer. Blancpain’s Leman Réveil GMT has a sub-dial for the second time zone at three o’clock, with the alarm set like Vulcain’s timepiece. Rounding up the trio is Hublot’s Big Bang Alarm Repeater, which allows the alarm time to be set to the minute through a separate sub-dial at four o’clock.

Hybrid Theory
Jaeger Le Coultre Master Geographic

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Geographic

What other complications can a GMT or a world timer synergise with? With each other! Strange as it sounds, the two actually complement each other perfectly. Consider this: The GMT complication is intuitive to use, but tracks just one other time zone; the world timer, on the other hand, sacrifices some legibility to display far more information. Therefore, a hybrid can offer the best of both worlds by showing a selected time zone prominently, while the rest is available on demand.

Breitling for Bentley GMT Light Body B04 S

Breitling for Bentley GMT Light Body B04 S

Fusing the GMT and world timer complications can be done in several ways. For the Breitling for Bentley GMT Light Body B04 S, the red GMT hand continues to track home time, as the hour hand is set when one moves to a new time zone. To read the times in other cities, its user needs only to turn the bezel to align the home city on the inner flange with the GMT hand.

In A. Lange & Söhne’s Lange 1 Time Zone, local time is indicated by the larger sub-dial at nine o’clock. The smaller one at five o’clock has a triangular arrow that points at the city ring on the flange, and displays its corresponding time. Actuating the pusher at eight o’clock advances this city ring, and changes the time in the smaller sub-dial accordingly.

A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 Time Zone

A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 Time Zone

Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Master Geographic works similarly, with the crown at 10 o’clock responsible for changing the city at six o’clock. The time for the chosen city is then displayed accordingly in the sub-dial immediately above it. Granted, these three examples are not world timers per se. They do, however, have the ability to offer the time in more than 2 cities with just a little extra effort.

IWC Timezoner Chronographer

IWC Timezoner Chronographer

IWC’s Timezoner Chronograph, a 2016 novelty, deserves a special mention here. The timepiece displays the time of just a single city – the one at 12 o’clock on the bezel – in both 12- and 24-hour formats. Turn the bezel, however, and the white and red central hands that indicate the hours will jump accordingly, with the corresponding date correctly displayed at three o’clock. It’s both a GMT and a world timer watch, yet paradoxically it is also neither.

Perpetual Calendar + Moon phase

Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar "Terraluna" requires an adjustment for its moon phase dispaly just once every 1,058 years.

Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar “Terraluna” requires an adjustment for its moon phase dispaly just once every 1,058 years.

The perpetual calendar was covered earlier as a pairing option for the chronograph. On its own, however, this complication has almost always been paired with the moon phase display. For the man on the street, an indicator showing the current phase of the moon has about as much use as one that tracks the equation of time. This hasn’t stopped manufactures from including it in their perpetual calendar watches though, and for good reason – the moon phase display is the perfect feminine balance to the masculine perpetual calendar and its practical concerns with accuracy. Besides, it also lends a poetic touch to the dial that might otherwise be cluttered with hard information like the month and the day of the week – one certainly can’t argue against this, if he still appreciates wearing a mechanical watch in this day and age.

IWC Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun

Integrating a moon phase display into a calendar complication is easy. The period of the lunar cycle is roughly 29.53059 days, so a wheel with 59 teeth is commonly used. This wheel is advanced by a finger once every day, just like the rest of the calendar’s displays. The tiny difference between the two accumulates over time though, so a correction of one day is needed every 2.64 years. For the perfectionists out there, there’s good news – alternative gearing ratios for the moon phase do exist, and can drastically increase the complication’s accuracy. The A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar “Terraluna”, for instance, has a moon phase display that requires a correction just once every 1,058 years.

Montbalnc Heritage Spirit Perpetual Calendar Sapphire

Montbalnc Heritage Spirit Perpetual Calendar Sapphire

Technical details aside, the way the moon phase indicator meshes with the perpetual calendar’s displays also bears some study, and Vacheron Constantin’s Patrimony Perpetual Calendar is about as classic as it gets. Three sub-dials for the perpetual calendar’s full array of information, balanced by the graphical moon phase indicator. To reduce clutter, the manufacture merged the month and leap year into a single hand at 12 o’clock, which makes a complete revolution just once every four years. This reductionist approach extends to the simple aperture that shows the moon phase.

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Perpetual Calendar

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Perpetual Calendar

Montblanc’s Heritage Spirit Perpetual Calendar Sapphire has all its information sorted into the same positions on the dial, but looks far more contemporary because of its smoked sapphire dial, and the more elaborate sub-dial for the moon phase. IWC’s Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun is another variation on the theme, with the information presented in a slightly different arrangement. The highlight here is the double moon indicator at 12 o’clock, which simultaneously displays the moon phase as it is viewed from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

Glashütte Original Senator Perpetual Calendar

Glashütte Original Senator Perpetual Calendar

Finally, there’s Glashütte Original, which has stripped things to the bare minimum on the Senator Perpetual Calendar. The central hour and minute hands remain alongside a sweep seconds hand. All other information is shown via five apertures on the dial, including a single coloured dot that indicates the leap year.

Minute Repeater + tourbillon

It’s impossible to talk about the minute repeater without bringing out the superlatives. The complication remains the most revered among watchmakers and collectors alike, not least because of its complexity; a ‘simple’ minute repeater watch consists of over 300 parts that must all be finished, assembled, and adjusted. What’s more, there’s no room for error in several of the steps, like the removal of material to tune the gongs, as they are irreversible. It’s little wonder then, that the minute repeater remains the last bastion of high watchmaking that’s still well out of mass production’s reach. Its rarity is just part of its charm though. There’s nothing quite like listening to a minute repeater ‘live’ as its chimes announce the time down to the exact minute.

Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater with Flying Tourbillon

Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater with Flying Tourbillon

Spins & Strikes

Although minute repeaters frequently display their inner mechanisms through transparent case backs or open-worked dials, to admire them is to, above all else, have an auditory experience. As such, what better complication than the tourbillon to pair it with in order to create a multi-sensorial experience?

Jaeger- LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon

Jaeger- LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon

The tourbillon was conceived to even out a balance’s positional errors by constantly spinning it through all its possible positions. It might be an unintended consequence, but the rotating tourbillon carriage is mesmerising to watch, to say the least. Franck Muller was the first to recognise this and designed a movement where the device was first visible from the dial side of the watch, to create a constantly moving spectacle on the wrist. Combining the minute repeater with the tourbillon results in a timepiece with both audio and visual interest in spades.

Breguet Tradition Minute Repeater Tourbillon Ref.7087

Breguet Tradition Minute Repeater Tourbillon Ref.7087

Several manufactures offer such a match currently, but their executions differ widely from each other. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon has its tourbillon prominently displayed at six o’clock, but keeps the minute repeater hidden when the watch is viewed from the dial side. Cartier’s Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater with Flying Tourbillon, on the other hand, has its gongs and hammers in the same position, while its tourbillon is moved to 12 o’clock to provide balance instead.

Girard Perregaux Minute Repeater Tourbillon With Gold Bridges

Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tourbillon With Gold Bridges

Those who want even more visual details will do well to consider either Breguet’s Tradition Minute Repeater Tourbillon Ref. 7087, or Girard-Perregaux’s Minute Repeater Tourbillon With Gold Bridges. In each watch, the movement design allows large portions of the minute repeater mechanism to be visible from the dial side. These components only come to life when the strike train is activated though, which leaves the tourbillon as the star attraction normally.

Patek Philippe Ref.5539G-001

Patek Philippe Ref.5539G-001

Patek Philippe’s Ref. 5539G-001 deserves special mention here. Ever the stalwart of tradition, the manufacture has kept the tourbillon on the back of the watch, with the only hint of its existence being the text on its dial at six o’clock.

Story Credits

Text by Jamie Tan

This story was first published in World of Watches.

All the Time in the World: Patek Philippe 5930

Can a watch be ostentatious and subtle at the same time? This new reference from legendary Geneva watchmaker Patek Philippe does just that, combining for the first time ever the crowd-pleasing worldtimer complication and the chronograph. Alright, if you are like us, you took a look at the watch and wondered what’s going on here. Well, you can make out the city ring and the 24-hour ring – both of which act in sync and are controlled by the pusher at 10 o’clock. Confusing matters are what appear to be two seconds hands, one a subdial and the other a large central affair. Of course, this is where the chronograph comes into play. The subdial is a 30-minute counter while the central hand is the chronograph sweep seconds. Obviously, this is where things get interesting and divisive.

Patek-Philippe-Chronograph-World-Time-Ref.-5930G-dial

On the one hand, this combination of complications has never appeared in a standard production Patek Philippe before, which makes it noteworthy. In view of this, Patek Philippe can reasonably claim that this is the thinnest such watch in the world, at 12.6mm; the worldtimer and chronograph combination is rare even in other brands, with only the ww.tc from Girard-Perregaux coming to mind immediately.

On the other hand, the layout of the dial makes the watch quite low key while also being very busy, which is unusual for Patek Philippe. At the presentation and in the press release, the brand takes pains to mention that reference 5930 is a tribute to a unique wristwatch from the archives, No. 862 442, from 1940. If you visit the Patek Philippe museum in Geneva you can see it there but here is the visual supplied by the brand, for more immediate relief of curiosity.

Patek-Philippe-Chronograph-World-Time-Ref.-1940

As has been noted by other commentators, there isn’t much linking the two pieces as both are very much of their own times, so to speak. Well, actually both watches are very busy! In terms of calibers, Patek Philippe is using the self-winding mechanical movement, caliber CH 28-520 HU, which combines the CH 28-520 PS chronograph caliber used in reference 5170 and the company’s famous world time module.

Patek-Philippe-Chronograph-World-Time-Ref.-5930G-back

Speaking of which, this watch is actually in the same dimensions as the old worldtimer reference, 39.5mm. Patek Philippe has reduced the proportions of the new worldtimers but more on that in a later story. Currently, there is only one version of this watch, in 18k white gold, with a hand-guilloched dial in blue.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 39.5mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, chronograph, world time
  • Power Reserve: 55 hours maximum
  • Movement: Automatic caliber CH 28-520 HU
  • Material: 18k white gold
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Hand-stitched blue alligator leather

BaselWorld 2016 : Preview Day 0

BaselWorld is the most wonderful time of the year, literally. Well it really should be because there is no greater celebration of timekeeping (and jewelry too, which people often forget) in the world (sorry SIHH). So far, there hasn’t been much news but that will change rapidly. Rolex never does any preBasel releases and Patek Philippe has decided against the practice this year. On the jewelry side, the pictures are far more telling than any words and there aren’t any just yet. Here is what we know so far.

The Breguet Classique Phase de Lune Dame 9088 ladies' watch

The Breguet Classique Phase de Lune Dame 9088 ladies’ watch

Geneva-based watchmaker Patek Philippe says that there will not be a new Nautilus at the fair. Yes this is a major anniversary but Patek has other business to settle up first, apparently. Then again, that news is not official, merely industry gossip. Rolex on the other hand is showing a new Cosmograph Daytona with a ceramic bezel and some new dials. That may not sound like much but small changes like this one can cause tidal waves.

Once we see what’s up first hand – we are here as usual, this time with our colleagues from World of Watches, L’Officiel Singapore and Malaysia and Men’s Folio Singapore and Malaysia – you’ll be the first to hear of it. Here, as it happens, is 141,000 sqm of exhibition space, with 1,500 exhibitors from 40 countries showing off their wares from March 17-24.

The J12 Mirror by Chanel

The J12 Mirror by Chanel

For now, we bring you what news we do have, from a few key players that have sought out some pre-BaselWorld love. Hamilton and Chanel are teasing special dials – 3D at Hamilton and mirror at Chanel – while Breguet is offering a ladies model in the Classique range, with a new moonphase indicator. Personally, we are looking forward to seeing what new wonders Breguet and Omega will have lined up for us. These big boys usually play the high tech card and fly the standard of excellence in chronometry high. Ulysse Nardin is another one that always delivers on pushing the boundaries of mechanical timekeeping. Of course, we absolutely must bring you all the news that’s fit to report from Rolex and Patek Philippe…

Jazzmaster Open Heart Lady by Hamilton

Jazzmaster Open Heart Lady by Hamilton

Interview: Jilly Wang

Jilly Wang is what one would expect of a woman at the top of her game. She’s decisive, no-nonsense and cuts straight to the chase. “I am a very straightforward person in business. If I want something, it means I want something,” says the restaurateur behind popular Italian joint Alkaff Mansion Ristorante, who restored the 19th-century colonial residence to its former glory close to four years ago. “The building’s conditions then were a far cry from what it is today, but I had a strong gut feeling that this space had a story to tell. So right away, without any experience in the wine and dine business, I told my husband I would transform the mansion into an Italian restaurant.”

Her quick decision paid off. Despite sitting off the beaten path amid the lush greenery of Telok Blangah Green, Alkaff Mansion Ristorante – now sporting a charming facade and modern interiors – is home to a steady flow of diners, weddings and private events – thanks in part to a well-designed menu by executive chef and Sardinian native Simone Depalmas. “Both my husband and I are fans of Italian food and every year we spend close to three weeks travelling around Italy,” reveals Wang, who’d discuss regular updates to the menu with Depalmas. “Since I live in Singapore, I know the preferences of its people and I would share with him [Depalmas] the kinds of dishes they’d prefer.”

Having hosted a fair bit of parties herself, Wang points out that the key to throwing the perfect bash starts innately from the host. “He or she should have a clear vision of the experience they’d like to offer their guests. The ‘feel’ of the party is very important, and that ‘feel’ starts right at the building’s doorstep, be it through decorations or even performances,” she says. “The host must be able to imagine the party setting in his or her mind, what he or she would like to see and hear. Everything I do, I do it with all my heart, and a big part of a good party is an experience that’s incredibly personal.”

Story Credits
Text by Kenny Loh

Image by Long Fei

Hair & Makeup Nikki Fu using Redken and YSL Beaute

Outfit Cotton Shirt from Shanghai Tang; “Ladies Calatrava Travel Time Ref. 4934” white gold watch with mother-of-pearl, diamonds and alligator strap from Patek Philippe; skirt, shoes and jewelery are Jilly’s own.

Most Expensive Watch in the World: Patek Philippe 5016

It is ironic that the world’s most expensive wristwatch (US$7.3 million) is now a stainless steel one-off model. The unique Patek Philippe 5016 high complication wristwatch fetched the record price when it went under the hammer in Geneva November 7, with the proceeds going to charity, according to the organizers of the Only Watch auction.

The watch, which had been listed with an asking price of only CHF700,000-900,000, had sold for CHF7.3 million Swiss francs (US$7.3 million, 6.7 million euros) after nine minutes of intense bidding by two anonymous telephone bidders, the Phillips auction house said.

That is “the highest price ever paid for a wristwatch at auction,” it said in a statement, adding that once the hammer fell the sale had been greeted by a standing ovation in the room at the luxury La Reserve Hotel in Geneva.

The Patek Philippe piece, with tourbillon, minute repeater and perpetual calendar with moon-phase display, was one of 44 unique timepieces created for the “Only Watch” auction by luxury watchmakers and jewellers, including Blancpain, Harry Winston, Piaget and Chanel. Connoiseurs will appreciate that ref. 5016 does not show the tourbillon dial-side and that the blue enamel dial actually features gold applique Breguet numerals.

In related news, the original photo for this story, compiled by the AFP, included an image of quite the wrong watch! By the looks of it, it appears to be a vintage Reference 5270 from Patek Philippe. Having in-house watch specialists is very handy!

A pink gold Patek Philippe Swiss bracelet-watch is displayed during a Sotheby's auction preview on November 12, 2008 in Geneva. The very rare pink gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon-phases expects to reach 860,820 to 1.291,230 Euros (USD 1.080,000 to 1.620,000) at a watches auction in Geneva on next November 16. AFP PHOTO/ FABRICE COFFRINI

AFP PHOTO/ FABRICE COFFRINI

Returning to Only Watch, in total, this year’s activities raked in US$11.2 million (10.3 million euros), Phillips said.

All the proceeds of the charity auction go towards research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a tragic muscle-wasting disease that occurs in roughly one in 3,500 males.

“This fantastic result will allow us to strengthen our efforts in targeting a cure for this severe disease,” said Luc Pettavino, head of the Monaco-based AMM association dedicated to finding a cure for the disease and founder of the “Only Watch” auction.

The auction is held every two years under the patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Interview: Thierry Stern for Patek Philippe

It’s not easy being the president of such a venerated company as Patek Philippe, although one could say that Thierry Stern had been training his whole life for this role; one could even say he was born for it. He is a part of the family after all, and growing up in what must be the most revered of watchmaking institutions, it was almost impossible not to be impassioned by the craft. Our friends at WOW bring us this interview and story, as published in Singapore.

Upon completing his studies at the École de Commerce in Geneva, and then an accelerated program at the Watchmaking School of Geneva, Stern found himself at a fork in the road. He had to choose between pursuing further education and going straight into the business. Knowing full well that sitting in a classroom or an office all day is not his idea of work, with the blessing of his father, Stern made a beeline for the workforce.

He started out as an administrative employee with Patek Philippe and was dispatched to Germany where he spent two years working very closely with two large Patek Philippe retailers. This was when he picked up all the tricks of the retail trade and learned how to sell. After Germany, he flew across the Atlantic Ocean to the U.S. to work at one of the largest Patek Philippe subsidiaries, the Henri Stern Watch Agency in New York, where he was trained in sales, inventory management for bracelets and components, after-sales service, and business relations.

Next, Stern went into production by joining Ateliers Réunis SA, the company that made bracelets and cases for Patek Philippe, working alongside great watchmaking artisans and craftsmen. In 1997, he went back to the commercial side and took on the role of marketing manager for Patek Philippe in the Benelux region. Finally, he returned to the company headquarters in Geneva. From 1998 to 2003, he was responsible for product development and creation. Thereafter, he was ready to lead Patek Philippe alongside his father, until 2009 when the torch was officially passed to him.

It’s been six years since Thierry Stern ascended to the role of brand president of Patek Philippe. He took over the reins from his father, Philippe Stern, who is today the company’s honorary president. The older Stern had, in turn, succeeded his own father, Henri Stern, in 1993. Indeed, over the 83 years that the Stern family owned Patek Philippe, the company had always been passed down from father to son. Stern’s management style is thus not one that can be learned from books. It is only inherited from his predecessors and absorbed through sheer passion and intuition. Like this, Patek Philippe continues to be the strong, family-owned traditional watchmaker for generations.

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The two faces of Grandmaster Chime Ref. 5175 (above and below)

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Congratulations on the 175th anniversary of Patek Philippe as well as the beautiful collection that resulted from this commemoration. Can you share with us your thoughts on this major milestone?

On the one hand, it is a relief because after seven years of hard work, we finally could present the collection. It was a long process and when you work this long, you’ll be happy to present the results. Yet, at the same time, you’re a little sad. Something like this is unique and I would like to see it hopefully three times in my life. I witnessed the 150th anniversary, now I’m part of the 175th anniversary, and I hope I will be here for the 200th because that would definitely be my anniversary. To me, the 175th is the anniversary of my father because he’s the one who really led the company at the time.

Tell us more about process that led to the collection.

First, it’s never easy to work on something you have to wait seven years to present. You have to know the market very well. Our main objective was to think about what was really missing in the collection. I wasn’t simply going to break records in terms of number of complications. That’s something we already did with the Star Calibre, Calibre 89. So I spoke to my father. I asked him, “Do you think we should do something even more complicated or something different?” Without hesitation, he said we should do something different. He also said it should be done in a wristwatch this time. After analysing the collection and listening to the clients, we arrived at the concept of Grandmaster Chime.

How did you go about creating this watch?

This was a very complicated movement to realise. For us, we took on the challenge and I think it was quite fun because the first thing you have to establish is what you are willing and able to add to it. Of course we added complications, but we also wanted something new because when you do something like this, it’s important to show that while we are able to fabricate something complicated, we can also be creative. I think it’s very important for a brand to have ideas and not just redo things already existing in the time of pocket watches.

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 Front and back views of Calibre GS AL 36-750 QIS FUS IRM, the movement behind Ref. 5175

300_GS36_750_AMB_verso_pontsa

Did you meet any challenges along the way?

It was interesting because from the beginning we have been developing this watch with a single dial. About a year into the R&D, my father showed me a pocket watch perpetual calendar he had acquired for the museum. It was a very beautiful watch, very sober, very clean. And then he said the words, “By the way, I would like to add a perpetual calendar into the anniversary watch because it’s a beautiful complication.” (Laughs) I was stunned for a moment and of course I told him that it would change the whole project! He simply said, “Well, figure it out.” (Laughs)

How did you overcome this unique challenge?

To include a perpetual calendar, we cannot have a simple dial. That’s how we came upon the idea of a double-face watch. The only other way is to realise two watches, which was out of the question. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of working on a double-face watch because the difficulty is to make it simple for the client. You see, as a watchmaker you’re willing to do very complicated things, but you need to think for the person who’s wearing it. We looked two years for a good solution to manipulate the case and eventually found a way for the watch to be manipulated easily by taking the two lugs, bending them a little, and flipping it over with one finger. We patented it as soon as we were sure it works and I’m certain we will reuse it in the future.

What else stands out to you about this product?

I had also chosen to show the skill of Patek in terms of engraving. I think it’s a nice idea in terms of design. We can like it or not, people have a choice. Some customers told me it’s a nice piece, but they don’t like the engraving. Others say they love it. Well, it’s an anniversary piece. That’s why it has to be decorated like this. I chose a specific engraver to do the job. He is the one guy working on all seven pieces because this would also ensure consistency. I would rather have consistency and wait a little longer than be inconsistent just to have the products faster. Maybe people won’t notice it but for me, it’s important. That’s why we are a little bit late on the delivery. Of course, the engraver cannot be rushed, but I hope everything will be complete by the end of this year.

PP_5175R_DET-36752_Vignettea

 

Close-up of Ref. 5175

Overall, how satisfied are you with this watch?

The only regret I have is not being able to have an enamel dial. This was not possible because all the dials you see are functional, so below the dial, there are a lot of technical elements. The dial needs to be thinner than normal so there’s no way we can decorate it with enamel because once you put it in the oven, it is going to move. We cannot have that. But it doesn’t matter. I still think the dial is very nice, and well, there are two of them.

Apart from commemorating the 175th anniversary of Patek Philippe, what was the philosophy going into the Grandmaster Chime?

My idea was to add new things. I think it’s important to have our DNA into it. That DNA can be in terms of design or movement techniques. We ended up with the alarm function that doesn’t just ring generically, but chimes the hours. This is quite easy to explain, but very hard to realise because you need to add a lot of different components. Second, something totally new is the date on demand. That’s also really nice because like a minute repeater, it chimes the date. It’s totally new, and a very nice idea to have. It was funny because at some point, I had to consciously stop talking about ideas because otherwise, we would never stop adding new functions.

Twenty complications and 1,366 components sounds like a whole lot.

I think the result is quite impressive because I’m always amazed to see all those parts work together. This is so difficult to do, but when you have the technology and experience, and the right people, everything is possible. You have to believe in what you’re doing. You have to follow a line. And I think that’s really what makes Patek Philippe strong. We have a very clean and clear strategy. We know what we are willing to do, so it was easy for me in one sense. To me, the most impressive thing is not only the technology we’ve been using, but also the fact that we are using both vintage and high-tech machines. If you’re only using vintage technology, I don’t think you can really evolve, and you’ll be a bit dusty in the end. If you’re only using new technology, then you’ll make iWatches, which are interesting, but not something that can stay, not mechanical. This mix is something that always attracts me. It’s the same for my father and his before him. We always add both tradition and technology.

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World Time Ref. 5131 with enamel dial

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Ref. 5275P-001 with chiming jump hour

But where do you draw the line?

I think that’s difficult to say. It’s part of the education that I had growing up in this family. I know there’s a line I cannot cross. Where? I cannot say because there is no book. It’s all by instinct.

What was the most surprising thing about the entire process, across all seven years, of producing the Grandmaster Chime?

At the beginning of the project, there were maybe 200 people knowing about it. Every year, you could add another 100. At the end, there were 1,000 people involved, but the amazing thing was that nobody spoke about it to anyone outside of the project. People have tried to search the Internet for what we were doing for the 175th anniversary, but there was nothing at all. This was, for me, the most fantastic part. When you’re able to do this, especially these days with the Internet when nothing is secret, you know you have a good company and the people trust you. I’m still amazed by it today. I didn’t make anyone sign non-disclosure contracts, but everybody knew. Even today we talk about this. It was the best part of the project. An amazing effort. Our people believed in it and are willing to keep the surprise for the customers.

If confidentiality was not an issue, what were your main concerns about the collection’s launch?

It was a tough period for me because I had to work on three collections simultaneously. There was the 2014 collection, the anniversary collection, and I had to prepare for 2015. Since the beginning, I knew I would have to be very strong also in 2015, because everybody would be thinking that Patek Philippe did a great job for the anniversary collection, so the following year, we would be tired and present nothing new at BaselWorld.

Do you think the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time achieved that for you?

To be frank, this was a watch I did on the corner of the table, so to speak, when I had a little bit of time. I had some spare time, so I did it. (Laughs)

5524G_001_img15a

Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524


So which novelty this year was the main highlight for you?

For me, it is the Ref. 5370. I was really surprised that people talked so much about the pilot’s watch. It was a product that we did because it was fun and a pilot’s watch is cool. I’m amazed. It’s crazy. Of course, people either like it or they do not. That’s why it’s fun with this watch. You see, it’s always important to surprise people. I can totally understand that some people don’t like it, but it was the same with the Aquanaut at the time, the same with the Nautilus, which was during my dad’s time. I think it’s our duty to surprise and do something new. I was also amazed when some people said that the pilot’s watch is not Patek Philipe. But how can they say that when I had created it? And I’m pretty sure I’m inside the DNA of Patek Philippe.

But you must agree that it is not exactly a Calatrava in the purest sense of the collection?

We put it in the Calatrava because I didn’t see anything bad in doing so. There really wasn’t any complicated strategy behind it. I didn’t want to launch a pilot’s watch line because it’s not a field I should go into. This was just one shot, just to show I am able to do something different. Maybe in the future, there will be different models, but even that I’m not so sure of. That’s why I didn’t want to set anything in stone. You know, I often have questions like these about Patek Philippe myself. Sometimes when I look at our archives, I ask, “Why did they choose things like this… or why did they do something like that? What was the logic behind?” My father would look at me and say, “But it’s not about logic.” Think simple, he always says. Don’t complicate things. So that’s how we do it.

Story Credits

Text and interview by Celine Yap

Reopened: Patek Philippe’s London Salon

After a nine-month renovation and expansion program, Patek Philippe reopened its London Salon last month. Located at Bond Street, this space was originally acquired by Patek Philippe in 1997 and last renovated in 2008. With this overhaul, the London Salon has expanded from its original 85m2 to 400m2 spread over two floors, thus becoming the largest watch presence on Bond Street. Naturally, it will carry the largest range of Patek Philippe watches in the UK, including all the models in the current collection, as well as grand complications and haute joaillerie timepieces. Watches aside, the Salon will also house a fully equipped customer service centre staffed by two Patek Philippe trained watchmakers.

Thierry Stern, president of Patek Philippe, noted that the London Salon is part of the “historic and prestigious Patek Philippe addresses alongside the Rue du Rhône in Geneva and Place Vendôme in Paris”, and expressed his happiness that at the opportunity to finally expand the brand’s presence in the UK. These three locations are also the only retail showrooms that are fully owned by Patek Philippe. 

Reopened Patek Philippes London Salon 1

Sold: Patek Philippe Henry Graces Supercomplication

The Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication has been sold! As we’ve previously covered, the Graves Supercomplication is a pocket watch commissioned in 1925 by Henry Graves Jr, a New York banker, as part of a watch arms race with James Ward Packard, an automobile manufacturer. The watch was finally delivered in 1933, after Patek Philippe finished it sometime in 1932. Weighing over a pound and housing 24 complications, this watch was only surpassed as the most complicated watch ever built 56 years later, again by Patek Philippe.

The Graves Supercomplication was sold at Sotheby’s Important Watches auction in Geneva on 11 November, with a hammer price of 20.6 million CHF, up from the initial estimate of 15 million CHF. The final price (which includes the buyer’s premium) comes up to 23.237 million CHF. This breaks the watch’s own record as the most expensive watch ever sold, with the previous high of US$11 million set in 1999. The watch was sold to Aurel Bacs, formerly the head of watches at Christie’s, and currently an auctioneer/consultant. 

Sold Patek Philippe Henry Graces Supercomplication 2

The Henry Graves Supercomplication handmade watch by Patek Philippe

Swiss Pocket Watch Sells for Record $24 Million

The Henry Graves Supercomplication handmade watch by Patek Philippe

A gold pocket watch made by Patek Philippe for a banker in the 1930s has sold for a record $21.3 million at auction in Geneva.

The sale of the “Henry Graves Supercomplication”, a handcrafted timepiece named after its original owner, a New York banker who ordered it in 1925, weighs more than half a kilo and comprises 900 separate parts.

The winning bidder, who remained anonymous, will have to fork out a total of $24 million, including the commission.

It took  five years to assemble the watch, which has Graves’s name on the dial.

DON’T MISS: PATEK PHILIPPE UNVEILS $2.6M WATCH

Supercomplication

Tim Bourne, Sotheby’s worldwide head of watches, said the sale confirmed the watch’s “superstar status”. Bourne called it an “icon of the 20th century, a masterpiece that elevates the discipline of watchmaking to art”.

A watch industry expert told AFP before the auction the timepiece was not just an immensely expensive accessory.

This is not a watch you can wear. It is a watch that symbolises strength, power and money,” he said.

DON’T MISS: PATEK PHILIPPE CLOCK FETCHES $2.3 MILLION

The Patek Philippe piece displays not only the hour but also a plethora of other indicators: a perpetual calendar, the phases of the moon, sidereal time, indications for the time of sunset and sunrise, and the shifting night sky over Manhattan. Its Westminster chimes sing joyfully every 15 minutes.

The seller and buyer chose to remain anonymous at the auction at a Geneva lakeside hotel, where bidding lasted 15 minutes.

Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime

Luxury Watchmaker Patek Philippe Unveils $2.6M Watch

Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime

To commemorate its 175th anniversary, Swiss luxury watchmaker  on Tuesday unveiled a new $2.6 million wristwatch.

Featuring 18-karat gold and sapphire crystals, the Grandmaster Chime timepiece is the most expensive wristwatch Patek has ever built.

It has two faces—one that shows the time and the other, the calendar. The case turns on a vertical axis to alternate between the two (below).

It’s the most complicated wristwatch ever, featuring 20 different complications including a range of different sonneries and repeaters.

The company apparently logged 100,000 hours for the watch’s development, production, and assembly with 11,060 meticulously hand-finished parts in the seven limited-edition exemplars of the watch.

DON’T MISS: MOST EXPENSIVE PATEK TO RETURN TO AUCTION

One of them will go on display in the company’s permanent collection, while the six others are priced at 2.5 million Swiss Francs ($2.6 million).

Here are the watch’s 20 complications: 

1 Grande Sonnerie
2 Petite Sonnerie
3 Minute repeater
4 Strikework mode display (Silence/Grand Sonnerie/Petite Sonnerie)
5 Alarm with time strike
6 Date repeater
7 Movement power-reserve indicator
8 Strikework power-reserve indicator
9 Strikework isolator display
10 Second time zone
11 Second time zone day/night indicator
12 Instantaneous perpetual calendar
13 Day-of-week display
14 Month display
15 Date display (on both dials)
16 Leap year cycle
17 Four-digit year display
18 24-hour and minute subdial
19 Moon phase
20 Crown position indicator (RAH)

Grandmaster Chime