Tag Archives: timepiece

Poker Face: 4 Watches to Tempt Lady Luck

Whatever we know about poker, we largely learned from watching Casino Royale. That’s not a lot. But the general idea is in wearing a “poker face” to mask emotions like panic, while wearing a watch that gets all the attention to make the former easier to effect. To be a shark, one must look it, at least.

Franck Muller Vanguard GravityFRANCK-MULLER_Vanguard-Gravity_New

It’s only conventional looking at first glance. After that, the elliptical tourbillon cage does its magic, the way something a little out of alignment or off-centre compels the viewer to be obsessed about it. One cannot help but stare.

Richard Mille Tourbillon Evil EyeRM-26-02-TOURBILLON-EVIL-EYE---FRONT-EDITED

Richard Mille is an old hand at translating futuristic technologies into its timepieces. For the gambler, it has also gone to the other extreme, into the past, for the “evil eye” that is quite prevalent in ancient times from various cultures. Gambling is heavily shrouded in superstition and luck; the Tourbillon Evil Eye then is a tabletop nuke to spook all opponents held in its dreadful gaze. With a 50-hour power reserve, it is good to play for more than two whole days – are you game?

Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane Grand Voyage IIAcademy_CC_Hurricane_Grand_Voyage_II_packshot

The myriad displays exert a hypnotic effect; steampunk classy and  sophisticated, one already looks a winner regardless of the hand fate has dealt. An archaic fusée-and-chain mechanism ensures constant force transmission, while a gyroscopic module keeps the escapement permanently in the horizontal position. While the El Primero beating heart moves at a super-fast frequency, make sure yours stays calm as a clam.

U-Boat Flightdeck 925 ElementiumU-Boat-Flightdeck-925-Elementium

The 50mm sterling silver case alone is eye catching enough, but just in case, fissures have been drilled into the chassis, and 204 diamonds set into the cracks (brown and black). The cracks even extend to the leather strap, to an effect reminiscent of ruptured tarmac. Comes with a carbon fibre dial for even more in-your-face badassery.

Story Credits

Text by Yeo Suan Futt

Styling by Ong Weisheng

Photography by GreenPlasticSoldierS

This story was first published in World of Watches.

Interview: Glashütte Original CEO Yann Gamard

With the release of the new Senator Excellence line, the German watch manufactory Glashütte may have hit a new milestone as a whole, even featuring its own in-house certification for the watch. CEO Yann Gamard holds a lot of hope for the future vision of the long-standing brand – especially since the house has stood strong against Swiss watchmakers, while ensuring that the brand retains its uniquely German quality.

Men’s Folio recently sat down with Gamard to talk with him about the new release, as well as other things regarding the brand. You can check out this interview over at the Men’s Folio site to get an in-depth look into the Glashütte process and worldview.

Drive de Cartier 1904-PS MC

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

DRIVE_DE_-CARTIER_WATCH FACE

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

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

04_DRIVE_DE_-CARTIER

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

 

 

Focus: Baume & Mercier Clifton Chronograph

As Baume & Mercier has demonstrated time and again, well-made luxury watches can be had at reasonable prices. The brand’s latest proof of this mantra (from the SIHH 2016) is the Clifton Chronograph Complete Calendar, which combines two of the arguably most popular complications – the chronograph and complete calendar – and tops them off with a moon phase display for a touch of whimsy.

A complete calendar shows the current day, date, and month, while a chronograph typically measures and displays elapsed time in hours, minutes, and seconds. Put the two complications together, and they will demand much finesse in dial design, what with the sheer amount of information that must be displayed. Baume & Mercier has done a brilliant job here by using just three sub-dials to do so without compromising on the watch’s legibility or elegance.

The time is read off the centrally mounted minutes and hours hands, while the small seconds hand shares a sub-dial at nine o’clock with the 24-hour indicator. To contrast with them visually, the chronograph hands are executed in blued steel in a familiar layout – a central chronograph seconds hand, with the minutes and hour totalisers at 12 and six o’clock respectively. Finally, there are the calendar indications. On this watch, the date is read off a ring printed on the dial’s edge, the day and month are displayed in two apertures at 12 o’clock, and the moon phase is shown at six o’clock.Baume-mercier-Clifton-Chronograph-WOW

With its carefully selected typeface and sober case design, the Clifton Chronograph Complete Calendar is a decidedly modern yet classy timepiece. Flip it over, and the workhorse Valjoux 7751 calibre can be observed through the sapphire crystal case back. The movement has been finished with several decorative techniques ranging from snailing and Côtes de Genève for the oscillating weight, to straight and circular graining and perlage for the mainplate and bridges.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 43mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph, complete calendar, moon phase indicator
  • Power Reserve: 48 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding Valjoux 7751 with chronograph and complete calendar and moon phase indications
  • Material: Steel, or steel and pink gold
  • Water resistance: 50 meters
  • Strap: Black or brown alligator leather with steel deployant buckle, or steel bracelet with deployant buckle

This story was first published in WOW.

5 Watches Making Old School Chic

If we are determined to think the worst, then it could be designers hitting a brick wall in their heads, or shareholders holding watch CEOs at gun point, that vintage watch designs are being raided from company archives and given new life in contemporary collections that look… little different. This is, however, not an isolated phenomenon unique to the watch trade. Beyond that received wisdom that the world’s largest luxury market that is China prefers conservatively styled, three-hand dress watches with silvered dials (PVD, be gone!), there is also this hipsterism thing going on that’s blowing in from the West, on the wings of Instagram, java, and jive. Typewriter showrooms are morphing into coffee shops, with junkyard garages following suit; and there’s been a revival of all things artisanal, as blog empires trumpet the return of the “gentleman”, with hats, brollies, and high-waisted pants. Old is gold, and watch companies are only giving consumers what they want when they rehash last generation’s icons.

It is not a bad thing. Petrolheads should be so lucky to have car companies ape their cousins in the watch trade. But they are not. And for watch buyers, let us count our blessings and sample some of the notable icons that have been given a refresh of the body, but thankfully, not in spirit.

Zenith Pilot Montre D’Aeronef Type 20 Extra SpecialZenith-Pilot-Montre-Daeronef-type-20-extra-special-2

Watchmakers can be inspired by aviation in any number of ways, like making watches with design cues lifted wholesale off actual flight instruments. Zenith is among a very few who can boast that it actually made these cockpit instruments, from 1910 to 1960. These were very momentous decades for aviation, stretching from the dawn of powered flight, through two World Wars, to the flowering of jet propulsion technology. And after shedding its fancy pants in recent past, Zenith decided to re-connect with its roots in classical watchmaking, and with its aviation heritage in particular when it released three pilot’s watches in 2012.

Of these, the Type 20 in particular, is a spitting image of vintage aircraft cockpit clocks that Zenith used to supply, as well as the watch that Louis Charles Joseph Blériot was wearing on his wrist when he made the world’s first Channel crossing in a heavier-than-air aircraft in 1909. The Type 20 has since grown into a diverse collection, encompassing a variety of complications including GMT, annual calendar, tourbillon, and even ladies’ models; as well as models showcasing elaborate engraving, skeletonisation, and dials of enamel and meteorite. But of particular interest here is the Type 20 Extra Special in bronze, introduced in 2015.

To make the collection more accessible, Zenith previously released a Type 20 Extra Special in steel, in 2014. However, with a lower price tag, came a third-party movement supplier (Sellita). No shame in that, but a third-party movement for an accomplished movement maker and vertical manufacturing pioneer like Zenith is, to say the least, inappropriate. Hence, the bronze model released in 2015 came equipped with an in-house movement.

For its colour, and the way it ages, bronze delivers character, charisma, and stand-out looks without the cost of a precious metal. There is such a thing as “bronze disease”, which refers to an irreversible chloride corrosion that affects copper-based alloys including bronze, manifested as a greening of the metal. Saltwater is one factor, and one might even be wary about sweating on the watch; but in reality, bronze artefacts have survived from as far back as five millennia BC (seven thousand years, some in the sea), and bronze is still used to make ship propellers, which are dipped into the ocean all the time! Moreover, at least among bronze watches from brands of comparable cachet, the Type 20’s asking price is attractive, in one case, by nearly half. Titanium (hypoallergenic) case back is a thoughtful feature towards wearer comfort.

IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage WatchIWC-Big-Pilot's-Heritage-Watch

Vintage Pilot’s watches are the stuff of legend in part because pilots of today – in an age of GPS, radar, and planes that can practically fly themselves – do not need watches as much as their forebears, who depended on watches to derive such fundamental information such as where one is, and how long the fuel will last. In this regard, a pilot’s watch had to be precise, and hardy enough to operate reliably in the flight environment, in the face of gravitational stress from fast manoeuvres, rapid fluctuations in temperature and pressure with altitude, and magnetic fields emitting from flight equipment. IWC has much claim to making authentic pilot’s watches, for the long years it has been supplying them to the preeminent air forces of the day, including the Luftwaffe in the 1940s, and the UK Royal Air Force during the post-war years.IWC-Big-Pilot's-Heritage-Watch-back

For 2016, IWC has refreshed its pilot’s watch collections, most distinctive of them being the Big Pilot’s Heritage watch in a colossal 55mm case size, as large as the 1940 model that was a saucer of a watch strapped to the thigh rather than worn on the wrist. Legibility counted for much, and one flew seated. Unlike the original, IWC has chosen to construct the case out of sandblasted titanium, cutting the weight by 18 per cent to 150g. Limited to 100 pieces, it’s a piece of history. But for something more wrist-friendly, the Heritage also comes in 48mm case size. This model features a longer running movement than the 55mm model (eight days’ power reserve, as opposed to 46 hours), and while both have soft iron inner cases to shield the movement against magnetic fields, IWC has managed to craft a sapphire crystal window onto the 48mm model’s back case. Hero jewellery.

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph TachymeterMontblanc-1858-Chronograph-Tachymeter

Why are vintage-inspired products lately resurgent? Is it just a matter of aesthetics? It could be, for some. And that would be enough. But for others, it is also about the way things used to be done, that with progress, we had somehow traded away beauty, elegance, and significance for cost effectiveness and convenience. To right that balance is probably why Montblanc took the Minerva manufacture under its wings in 2006. Established in 1858, Minerva is notable for creating beautiful, handcrafted movements, and since its acquisition, its expertise and ideals have been secured, and have coloured Montblanc’s watchmaking collections, from limited edition high complications to more accessible, non-limited timepieces. The 1858 chronograph, in a limited edition of 100 pieces, follows this fine tradition; it’s Old School through and through.

The watch face is of the traditional bi-compax layout, with two sub-dials; lumed Arabic numerals and quaint needle-tipped cathedral hands are right for optimal legibility; while traditional railway track markings are hard to beat for precise division of time. There is good reason for having a pair of chronograph pushers, but a monopusher integrated with the crown is visually cleaner. Montblanc has also reverted to an old logo, to more coherently pair with the overall aesthetic of the watch.Montblanc-1858-Chronograph-Tachymeter-back

Some traditionalists might baulk at the 1858’s case size, though: an immodest 44mm, at odds with vintage codes, to say the least. The upside to this is that it offers room for a large, lushly decorated movement, the manual-winding MB M16.29, inspired by a Minerva movement from 1929. Column wheel, lateral coupling, a large balance with weight screws and swan neck regulator; and a Minerva signature, the chronograph hammer shaped like a devil’s tail. It’s a modern-sized widescreen window into the pillars of classical watchmaking. And what a view.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic 195Jaeger-lecoultre-geophysics-1958

What better way to remember the Cold War than with a wristwatch to commemorate a rather weird episode within this global contest where nations came together across an ideological divide to co-explore the globe with socialist zeal; while on the wings, the Superpowers shadow-boxed like ex-lovers over milk gone sour. The period in question is the International Geophysical Year (IGY) that lasted from July 1, 1957, to December 31, 1958. Some 67 countries collaborated on scientific and exploration projects related to the earth sciences. The Soviet Union stunned the US when it successfully launched Sputnik 1 in October 1957. The US returned the favour in August the following year when the USS Nautilus, the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine, steamed from Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean, crossed under the North Pole, and surfaced in the Atlantic, northeast of Greenland, practically in the USSR’s backyard. International cooperation aside, it was about putting one’s rival within nuke range.Jaeger-lecoultre-geophysics-1958-white

Jaeger-LeCoultre’s contribution to the IGY was the Geophysic, the most capable watch it knew how to make at that point in time, best suited to the precision, reliability, and toughness required of scientific exploration. With production run lasting about a year, only a little over 1,000 pieces were ever made in stainless steel, and 30 in gold. In 2014, the manufacture has re-issued the Geophysic, in a slightly larger case size (38.5mm as opposed to 35mm), powered by a modern, proven self-winding movement in place of the original’s hand-wound movement, and validated by JLC’s own 1,000 hours of testing, which exceeds the COSC standard for which the original was certified. A new Cold War is brewing; good time for a new Geophysic, in three variants and two dial layouts.

Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955Vacheron-Constantin-Historiques-Cornes-de-Vache-1955

Last year, Vacheron Constantin released a vintage-styled chronograph with a recognisably generic design, bearing two sub-dials on a silvered dial. Many other brands have something like this too. But not the lugs! Rounded, voluptuous, and pointy; for an otherwise very sober watch, they are a most peculiar appendage, almost kinky. By the lugs, one can identify it for the Vacheron “Cornes de Vache”. Horns of a cow, in English. The spiritual successor to the Ref. 6087 of 1955. Even back then, it seems Vacheron Constantin already had a sense of humour. A bull would be a fiercer animal some of us prefer to associate with, what with rage, power, and bullish markets. Cows, on the other hand, give butter. But bull would be “taureau”, not “vache” and the wordplay would be lost. Cow (vache) it is… and only from Vacheron!Vacheron-Constantin-Historiques-Cornes-de-Vache-1955-back

But it takes somewhat more than a pun to make a legend. Ref. 6087 was the company’s first chronograph that was water resistant and anti-magnetic, being equipped with screwed-in case back and soft iron inner case. It is also among the rarest of Vacheron Constantin’s chronographs – only 36 were ever made; 26 in yellow gold and eight in pink gold from 1955 to the mid 1960s, followed by two in platinum in the 1990s, which bore the same reference number and movement but in a case without the cow horn lugs. Ref. 6087 was also the manufacture’s last chronograph model till 1989.

In name, form, and its pivotal place in the company’s history, the Historiques “Cornes de Vache 1955” makes a compelling proposition, beyond the fact that it’s been so beautifully made.

Story Credits

Text by Yeo Suan Futt

This story was first published in World of Watches.

Reverso by Christian Louboutin Plays with Time

Swiss watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre has been talking up its Christian Louboutin collaboration in the press since the SIHH earlier this year. For the most part, we have concentrated on the high complications from the Le Sentier-based watchmaker but, thanks to our news alerts, we’ve learned that there is a new short film starring Elisa Sednaoui showcasing what is at the heart of this Reverso by Christian Louboutin affair. This really changed our minds about writing this up because addressing this quirky collection by breaking down its technical specifications is an exercise in futility…

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, for those who don’t know, is a watch with two faces that strongly reflects its Art Deco origins (the first one was made in the 1930s), the manufacture’s commitment to traditional mechanical watchmaking and, perhaps paradoxically, a passion for innovation. Those who know the brand will of course understand perfectly how this is all embodied in a Jaeger-LeCoultre wristwatch but for most people, this is the sort of brand messaging that elicits puzzlement. Happily, this short film conveys the idea and nature of time and the relationship between time and inspirational objects in just 45 seconds. We invite you to watch it and make your own judgment.

To our eyes, this video is a triumph, which makes the next part, a practical summary of the watch’s technical characteristics irrelevant. Seriously though, this watch is at its heart a Reverso Classic Duetto, so it shares all the specifications of that model. What Louboutin brings to the special collection is ephemeral. It plays with reflections and transparency – as amply evident in the short film – and is available in two sizes and that is about all one can usefully say. To some extent, there are many variants of this watch, with all manner of different details, including the model seen top with the iridescent shades.

“I understood that the Reverso’s iconic Art Deco lines and very specific format could be customized and changed, but never improved. The exciting part is not about enhancing the Reverso, but instead offering a different perception of it,” said Christian Louboutin.

And that will have to suffice by way of explanation. Reverso models designed in collaboration with Christian Louboutin will be available for one year as part of the Atelier Reverso concept in Jaeger-LeCoultre boutiques. If you really yearn to know the details about the Reverso by Christian Louboutin, seek out the nearest boutique.

Boucheron Lights Up Second Singapore Store

Located at the heart of Singapore’s busy retail hub, Orchard Road is French jewelry house Boucheron’s new concept boutique – the Maison Boucheron. The store is found at the Takashimaya Department store and it is the second boutique to open in Singapore, with the current one being at Marina Bay Sands. Beyond the stunning jewelry that Boucheron is well known for, the boutique will also have a dedicated showcase for their comprehensive eyewear range.

Exterior Side(B)x

One of the focal points of this new boutique is its luminous setting, which was inspired by 26 Place Vendôme – the original historic boutique chosen by Frédéric Boucheron in 1893. The original boutique was positioned in a location where the sun would ensure the diamonds would dazzle from dawn till dusk. Taking that idea and applying it to a contemporary setting, the new one is swathed all over with white as its predominant color, and uses tastefully modern angular box-lightings for the ceiling, hung over the glass cases.

Interior Frontal Boucheron

Within those glass cases contains all of the iconic jewelry creations made with Boucheron’s design finesse. The sculptural Quatre, for example is one of those pieces taking center stage, as well as Boucheron’s collection of jeweled animals, and the symbolic serpentine jewelry – the Serpent Bohème. Other than jewelry, Boucheron’s exquisite timepieces feature too, like the Reflet watch and the new collection: Epure.

Side View

Overall, the mixture of the luminous atmosphere and the glow of the jewelry work in tandem to create for a calm and graceful purchasing experience. Indeed, Boucheron has been renowned over the years for its hospitality towards its customers, gaining the support of countless illustrious clientele. In keeping with that, a special order service will also be offered to keep with clients needs and desires.

Display closeup

For more information, you can check out Boucheron’s website over here.

Crystal Cases: Close-Up on Sapphire Watches

Sapphire watches have come a long way. This type of timepiece has been long coveted by many a horological fan whose been enamored with the see-through casing. The process itself though, is quite the hassle, which also accounts for why watchmakers can’t afford to make it with any lasting regularity. But many, including Richard Mille, Hublot, and H. Moser & Cie., have risen up to the challenge

You can check out more on this story over at Men’s Folio.

Van Cleef & Arpels 
Midnight Nuit Lumineuse

Since its debut in 2006, Van Cleef & Arpels’s Poetic Complications collection has been defined by the creative display of time using purpose-built complications. The maison’s unique blend of artistic and technical savoir faire has created several icons over the years; who could forget the Lady Arpels Pont des Amoureux, which depicts a rendezvous between two lovers on a bridge using a bi-retrograde module? Or the Midnight Planetarium, whose dial reproduces the orbits of our solar system’s inner six planets, and their actual positions vis-à-vis each other? Indicating the time poetically continues this year with the Midnight Nuit Lumineuse, a time-only watch that, quite expectedly, does more than just that.

The Midnight Nuit Lumineuse indicates the time with a single retrograde hand that sweeps from six to 12 o’clock. Design wise, the watch clearly means to evoke a nocturnal view of the heavens, beginning with a dial of aventurine that mimics the night sky. Upon this canvas, the maison has drawn a star chart showing various constellations through miniature painting and diamond setting. The most eye-catching among them is obviously Monoceros the unicorn, which appears as an array of six diamonds set in a detailed drawing at four o’clock. Far from being just the biggest and most detailed constellation on the dial, Monoceros is also its highlight – literally. Actuating the pusher at eight o’clock brings the unicorn to life, as its six diamonds are each backlit by a single Light Emitting Diode (LED).

The electricity powering these LEDs isn’t from a battery. Rather, the lighting module within the watch relies on piezoelectricity, which is generated by some materials when they are mechanically stressed. In this case, a cantilevered ceramic blade functions as the ‘turbine’ – pressing on the pusher makes it vibrate, and the physical deformation from its flexing to and fro generates the current to power the LEDs for around four seconds.

According to Van Cleef & Arpels, the lighting system in the Midnight Nuit Lumineuse holds much potential for further development. The type and cut of the gemstone used, for example, will affect its color and brilliance. The specifics of the circuitry, on the other hand, will determine the brightness and number of LEDs used, and whether they can be flashed in any pattern or sequence. For now, the lighting module is the subject of a patent application for the maison.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 42mm
  • Functions: Retrograde hours, light on-demand
  • Power Reserve: 40 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding
  • Material: White gold
  • Water resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Black alligator with ardillon buckle in white gold

Story Credits

Text by Jamie Tan

This story was first published in World of Watches.

Tour Auto Optic 2000: Classic Cars, Zenith Watches

What better way to spend a day than racing through the most beautiful regions of France in a refined ride? It was this mindset that got the Tour Auto Optic 2000 race off the blocks; the historic car race is in its 25th iteration this year and ran from April 18 to 23. The 240 contestants tested their mettle on closed roads, with the full circuit running from Paris to Cannes. For this year, though, the even more historic luxury watch brand Zenith chose to step up as the race’s official timepiece, releasing a limited series of the El Primero Chronomaster 1969 Tour Auto Edition as a tribute to the stately competition.

Tour-Auto-Zenith-Watch

Limited to just 500 pieces, the El Primero Tour Auto runs at a speed of 36,000 vibrations per hour with impeccable precision due to the legendary El Primero movement. The 5Hz escapement is a key feature of the El Primero since its debut in 1969. The current design features a sporty look, with a long three-colored (the old red, white and blue) stripe down the dial and strap, very fitting for the renowned race.

Aldo Magada, Michel Rostang, Jean-Paul Lacombe, and Michel Chabran

Aldo Magada, Michel Rostang, Jean-Paul Lacombe, and Michel Chabran

Aldo Magada, CEO & President of Zenith, commented: “We serve as official timekeeper for Tour Auto and Peter Auto events around Europe. We share a passion for fine mechanisms, timeless aesthetics as well as history. And most of all, a passion for competition, great escapes and travel. We want to be far more than a sponsor and instead a real partner.”

tourauto (13)

The race itself ended in a final night-time stage, specially organized for the 25th anniversary of the event, with a win by the Parisian driving team of Jean-Pierre Lajournade and Christophe Bouchet, in their trusty E-type Jaguar. Overall, the participants unanimously voted it a success due to the quality of the itinerary, the choices and standards of the meals, and the overall organization.

grandpalais,

 

In the meantime, Zenith welcomed Hong Kong actor Francis Ng, and Michelin starred chefs –Michel Rostang, Michel Chabran and Jean-Paul Lacombe – as well as the firm’s other ambassadors and friends for the grand opening of the race. A watchmaking ‘class’ focused on the El Primero Tour Auto limited edition was also held.

Francis Ng

Francis Ng

With the end of a fantastic event, you can bet that the participants are already looking forward to next year’s run. Who knows how much better that will be? We can’t wait to find out.

6 Métiers d’Arts Monkey Year Watches

The year of the monkey began several months ago but that doesn’t mean its too late for you to get some arm candy featuring exceptional artwork. We bring you six timepieces that combine the art with the zodiac in a sophisticated way.

Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the MonkeyChopard-Monkey-Business

Reprising the Japanese art of lacquer painting, the L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Monkey depicts a scene considered particularly auspicious: A monkey gathering eight peaches. This symbolises longevity and good fortune since peaches stand for good health and eight is a lucky number. Chopard worked with the Yamada Heiando lacquerware firm, which happens to be the official purveyor to the Japanese imperial family.

Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Relief MonkeyJaquet-Droz-Monkey-Business

The incredibly lifelike Petite Heure Minute Relief Monkey resembles a mini-diorama, the kind you might find in a natural history museum. No less than four métiers d’art techniques were employed in its making: mother-of-pearl marquetry (on the peach tree), hand-engraving and sculpture in relief (on the macaque and branch), and lacquering (on the dial). Two versions exist, one in white gold and the other in red gold, each limited to 28 pieces.

Panerai Luminor 1950 Sealand 3 Days Automatic Acciaio PAM850Panerai-Monkey-Business

Panerai’s tradition of making Luminor 1950 Sealand models engraved with animals of the Chinese zodiac continues this year. It began with the Year of the Ox in 2009. This year, PAM850 bears a picture of a monkey surrounded by peach blossoms. While the subject engraved on the case cover is indisputably Chinese in style, the technique used is Italian, involving the hammering of gold threads into hand-chiselled grooves.

Ulysse Nardin Classico Year of the MonkeyUlysse-Nardin-Monkey-Business

Going for a more comic strip-like style as opposed to attempting to create a lifelike image, Ulysse Nardin presents a monkey motif that is alert, lithe, and impish yet artistic. This dial had been created for Ulysse Nardin by sister firm and dial specialist, Donze Cadrans, which used the champlevé technique. Chiselling grooves on the dial and filling them with vitreous enamel, the background lends a nice contrast to the gold markings.

Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art La Légende du Zodiaque Chinois Year of the MonkeyVacheron-Constanin-Monkey-Business

Crafting artistic watches is Vacheron Constantin’s specialty and its Chinese zodiac collection has always aimed to replicate the nuances in poise and expression of the animals. This year’s piece combines relief engraving with the traditional art of paper cutting. In addition, Grand Feu enamel was used to create the backdrop of a blue or bronze-toned dial. Using the Calibre 2460 G4 allows for a view that is not obscured by hour and minute hands.

Piaget Altiplano Cloisonné EnamelPiaget-Monkey-Business

After the dragon, snake, horse, and goat, Piaget gives the monkey a go in this 12-year series. World-renowned master enameller, Anita Porchet, graciously loaned her skills to the manufacture, presenting a dial that resembles a traditional Chinese watercolour painting. Here, Porchet used the cloisonné technique with the Grand Feu method and her initials have been painted by hand at five o’clock. Only 38 pieces have been produced.

Story Credits

This story was first published in World of Watches.

Numbers Game: Seven Friday V Series

SevenFriday has been making waves in the watch industry since the launch of its inaugural collection, the P Series, in mid-2012. The M Series followed in 2014, and was an instant hit as well; by the end of that year, the brand had sold nearly 40,000 watches worldwide. Much of SevenFriday’s success can be attributed to its potent mix of quirky designs and affordable prices, which has made them popular with both casual watch buyers and hard-core collectors alike. Who could resist owning a fun watch like the P2, especially since it isn’t ruinously expensive?

The brand has tweaked this winning formula to create its third collection, the V Series, currently available in two colourways. The new watch remains chunky and, like its predecessors, uses integrated lugs to ensure a proper fit even on smaller wrists. With its asymmetric cushion-like shape, however, the V Series’ case is decidedly more complex. The intricately layered dial also makes its return and sports a new patent pending “additioner” system to indicate the time. Finally, the engine driving the watch is still a Japanese Miyota movement.

This “additioner” system probably requires an explanation. First, the easy bit: The sweep (and only) hand points to the minutes, which are read off the chapter ring on the flange like a conventional watch. Telling the hour, on the other hand, requires the fan-shaped sector lying between 11 and three o’clock, the centrally mounted rotating disc, and a little mathematics. As the image on this page shows, the disc currently points at the sector with its “+4” marking, which has advanced past the “1” on the sector. Adding the numbers together gives the hour – five o’clock. The seconds are indicated with the same system between three and six o’clock, but segregated from the hours as the displays are placed on separate layers. Finally, a day/night indicator at 10 o’clock completes the information presented on the dial. There’s nothing intuitive here. Rather, having fun – without breaking the bank on something like a wandering hours complication – is the name of the game.

Besides having a new visual complication, the V Series also contains a few upgrades over SevenFriday’s previous collections. There’s the quick change system for its straps, which requires just any pointy object like a pen. In addition, each V Series watch has an integrated Near Field Communication (NFC) chip that allows it to be authenticated and registered easily. These are subtle tweaks, but welcomed nonetheless.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 44.3 x 49.7mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, day/night indicator
  • Power Reserve: 40 hours
  • Movement Self-winding Miyota 82S7
  • Material: Steel
  • Water resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Black or brown calf leather with ardillon buckle

Story Credits

Text by Jamie Tan

This story first appeared in World of Watches.

Dress Grey: Junghans Meister Agenda Watch

Everyone can tell you instantaneously that one year has 12 months or 365 days, but not everyone can tell you just as instantaneously how many weeks there are. For the record, it’s 52 and if you know this by heart, chances are high that you are a financier – or that you dole out wages by the week – but if you don’t, worry not as long as you have the Junghans Meister Agenda on the wrist. This handsome timepiece is designed to be a handy business organizer capable of telling not just the day and date, but also which week of the year it is.

With the sub-dial at 12 o’clock, a nifty hand goes from one to 52 and it is synchronized with the day and date apertures at nine and three o’clock. By using a mix of sub-dials and apertures, Junghans manages to keep the dial minimalist, which complements the Zen allure of the ultra-thin case. Very subtly, Junghans adds visual interest without detracting from the sober design direction of the timepiece. Four applied hour indexes occupy the dial’s four cardinal points, while printed linear ones complete the 12 hour indexes. Sharp and polished hands take their place around the dial. Facets in the apertures add necessary details. Even the sub-dial at six o’clock, which displays the power reserve contains only what is absolutely needed, nothing more.

Underscoring its minimalist charm is the dial, which had been finished in a cool matte grey that does wonders for the shiny polish of the indexes and hands. All the transferred numerals and the insignia have been rendered in black, and together with the white sub-dials, contribute to an overall monochromatic color palette. Pair the Meister Agenda with something classy like a grey Ermenegildo Zegna suit and then sit back and let the watch work its charm.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 40.7mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, day and week
  • Power Reserve: 42 hours
  • Movement Self-winding Calibre J810.5
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Horseskin leather or Louisiana alligator leather with steel folding clasp

Story Credits

Text by Celine Yap

This story was first published in World of Watches.

Golden Ratio: Vulcain 50s Presidents’ Watch

Ever found something to be so beautiful but don’t know why? Chances are high that the reason for this goes back to the Fibonacci Sequence, a set of numbers discovered by the Italian mathematician, Leonardo Bonacci. The Fibonacci Sequence is the basis of Johannes Kepler’s famous Golden Ratio, which is also known as nature’s formula for perfection. In numerous instances, the perfect anything is somehow associated with the Golden Ratio. As it is found often in nature – for what is nature but perfect – some of the most memorable examples include the arrangement of sunflower seeds inside the flower’s corolla, the flowering pattern of an artichoke, the spiraling shell segments of a nautilus, and the arrangement of a pine cone’s bracts.

Of course, the Golden Ratio is also prevalent in numerous works from the fields of design, art, and architecture, but by choosing it as the design motif for a dial, Vulcain honors this extraordinary formula in a completely different way.

With its iconic bestseller, the 50s Presidents’ Watch, as the medium, Vulcain took inspiration from the art of traditional Swiss guillochage to produce a new series of dials, all of which bear a circular motif reminiscent of the Golden Ratio in nature. It is as if the center of the dial is the corolla of a sunflower, while the outer area where the Golden Ratio ends and its hour markers reside is where the flower’s petals ought to be. Vulcain offers two dial variations, one in silver and another in charcoal grey, as well as two case variations, full stainless steel and bi-color pink gold with stainless steel.

Contrasting against the sharp mirror-polished indexes and hands, the guilloché dials add a good measure of sophistication to the watch, which is a familiar one to many watch connoisseurs. Indeed, the Cricket Manufacture V-11 proffers one of the most unique alarm functions on the market. Already tempted to acquire the Vulcain 50s Presidents’ Watch? These updated models might just be what you’re looking for.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 42mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, alarm
  • Power Reserve: 42 hours
  • Movement Manual-winding Calibre Vulcain Cricket Manufacture V-11 with Cricket alarm function
  • Material: Steel or bi-color steel and pink gold
  • Water Resistance: 50 meters
  • Strap: Brown, greystone, sandstone, or black Louisiana alligator leather with steel pin buckle or steel folding clasp

Story Credits

Text by Celine Yap

This story was first published in World of Watches.

Blackstar: Bulgari Octo Ultranero Solotempo

When it comes to case materials, luxury watches have long defaulted to metals. The usual suspects range from steel to platinum, with the different shades of gold falling between them. Naturally, cases used to display just these metallic hues. Black, as a color (for watch cases), is a recent innovation, whether via DLC and other coatings, or materials that are inherently black, like carbon composite. The color’s neutrality makes it very, very versatile. Looking to tone down a timepiece’s bling factor? Black is the answer. Need to emphasize another’s technical slant? Make its case surfaces black. Want a touch of mystery? Black will do just that too. The color expresses many diverse qualities, depending on the specific watch’s design. And, as the Octo Ultranero Solotempo shows, much also hinges on the extent of its application.

The Ultranero isn’t a collection per se, but a label Bulgari applies to existing watches that are clad in black. Previously, the only Octo watch with such a treatment was a special edition timepiece commemorating the brand’s partnership with the All Blacks rugby team. Bulgari has, however, released three Ultranero watches in the Octo collection this year, including the time-only Solotempo that’s available in two references. One sports a DLC-coated bezel that blends in with the case, while the other has a pink gold bezel that pops out from it instead. The difference is significant, to say the least. The all-black version exudes a decidedly understated vibe, as the usage of pink gold is limited to accents on its dial and crown. Its sibling, on the other hand, looks far more luxurious, both because a larger proportion of its surfaces are in pink gold, and because the bezel frames the dial with that contrasting material.

Differences in bezel material (and luxe factor) aside, the two references are otherwise identical – to each other, and to the Solotempo they are based on. The angular, faceted Octo case retains its sporty sensibility here while acquiring an added dimension of seriousness thanks to its new color. This is further enhanced by a rubber strap fitted with a buckle that’s also in DLC-coated steel. Finally, Bulgari’s self-winding BVL 193 calibre remains – a no-nonsense automatic calibre with a going time of 50 hours.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 41mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
  • Power reserve: 50 hours
  • Movement Self-winding Calibre BVL 193
  • Material: DLC-coated steel with bezel in the same material or rose gold
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters
  • Strap: Black rubber with ardillon buckle in DLC-coated steel

Story Credits

Text by Jamie Tan

This story was first published in World of Watches. 

Interview: Nicola Andreatta for Tiffany & Co.

As the vice president and general manager of Swiss watches for Tiffany & Co., Nicola Andreatta is determined to give the brand’s watchmaking arm its second wind. Through approaching the brand’s deep history and understanding the demographic for the timepieces, Andreatta is keen on returning a Tiffany & Co. watch to its elegant and simple form.

You can check out the full interview over at Men’s Folio.

Green Light: Franck Muller Vanguard Carbon Krypton

The past few years have witnessed many advances in case construction using materials and techniques previously unseen in the watch industry, such as NTPT carbon and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS). Given the success of its Vanguard collection and penchant for venturing off the beaten path, it comes as no surprise that Franck Muller, too, would join the fray with a creation of its own. Enter the Vanguard Carbon Krypton.

First unveiled at WPHH 2016, the Vanguard Carbon Krypton takes its inspiration – and name – from Kryptonite, a fictional material from the DC Comics universe. Usually depicted as a green glowing mineral, Kryptonite is Superman’s Achilles heel as its radiation can severely weaken the otherwise invulnerable superhero, which makes it a popular plot device for writers. Under normal lighting, the Vanguard Carbon Krypton bears little resemblance to the substance, although its dial does sport some detailing in fluorescent green. In the dark, the timepiece presents a whole other visage as specks of green Super-LumiNova, previously all but invisible, emit their characteristic glow across the case and dial.

Do not expect the strong glow of a neon light though. The effect is subtler; the closest analogue is probably the glow given off by bioluminescent plankton in the ocean. With a little imagination, it’s easy to see the watch transforming into a shaped chunk of ore embedded with flecks of Kryptonite. Unfortunately, this is nearly impossible to capture accurately in a photo, and best appreciated in person. To accomplish this, Franck Muller tweaked the case production process to have Super-LumiNova particles interspersed within the carbon fibre matrix, before the resin is cured and milled into a completed case.

Visual impact aside, the Vanguard Carbon Krypton maintains the winning formula that has made the Vanguard collection so popular. Its Cintrée Curvex case is a bold 44mm by 53.7mm, but remains wearable due to the lack of lugs, and houses a three-hand movement fitted with a simple date complication. A hybrid strap with a nylon-on-rubber construction and matching green stitching completes the package.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 44mm x 53.7mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
  • Power Reserve: 42 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding FM 0800 calibre
  • Material: Carbon
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Nylon on rubber, with ardillon clasp

Story Credits

Text by Jamie Tan

This story was first published in World of Watches.

Blue Label: HYT H2 Tradition Watch

Gears, wheels, and liquids? Steampunk! If there’s any watchmaker that can pull of a timepiece with such a theme, it’s HYT. After all, no other brand out there tells the time using a liquid module that’s completely integrated with a mechanical movement. The H2 Tradition was meant to be HYT’s exercise in the design codes of traditional watchmaking. With the liquid module so prominently displayed on its dial, however, the timepiece also has an ultramodern dimension to it. Synthesize the two, and a work resembling something from the retrofuturism art movement emerges.

The H2 Tradition marks many firsts for the brand. It’s the first HYT watch to be decorated with guillochage, the first to have lacquered dials, and the first to be fitted with blued hands (a more typical HYT watch is this). These details are apparent enough, but the timepiece wasn’t merely the result of just changing a few components and slapping on a previously unused finishing technique. A quick comparison with previous H2 models will reveal that the minute indicator has been moved to a sub-dial at 12 o’clock, while the balance now nestles in the “V” formed by the bellows. This rearrangement has necessitated a redesign of the calibre, as the gear train has to accommodate its components’ new positions.

HYT H2 Tradition Front

For this, HYT looked to its partner, Audemars Piguet Renaud et Papi (APRP), to implement the changes. The decision to finish the mainplate with guilloché – both on the front and the back – was another technical detail that APRP had to work on. Since material was going to be removed, the mainplate needed to be thicker to maintain its integrity. This, in turn, affected the tolerances for the parts’ dimensions and fitting, which had to be recalculated.

Major changes aside, it’s also the minutiae on the H2 Tradition that gives the watch its classical slant. Note how the sub-dials and flange are outlined in gold, and the absence of a crown protector seen on the rest of the H2 models. The final touch is the judicious use of blue, beginning with blued hands that are matched with an alligator leather strap in the same color. The hour indicator also uses that color, for a timepiece that is literally blue-blooded.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 48.8mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, power reserve indicator
  • Power Reserve: Eight days
  • Movement: Manual-winding HYT calibre with liquid module
  • Material: White gold and titanium
  • Water Resistance: 50 meters
  • Strap: Patent blue alligator leather with titanium deployant buckle
  • HYT H2 Tradition Caseback

Story Credits

Text by Jamie Tan

This story was originally published in World of Watches Singapore

Ultra Violet: MB&F HMX Black Badger

When we heard about HMX Black Badger, we were – frankly – flummoxed. What sort of watch emerges from rage, I wondered as I went to see the actual piece at Baselworld this year, along with my colleague from Men’s Folio Singapore. So, the press release said the watch features “three-dimensional objects” milled from “solid light.” The science geek in me recoils at such phrasing but nevertheless, I was curious and keen to learn what alchemical tricks James Thompson – the MB&F friend of the moment – had used to transform his rage into solid light. First of all, this is a new version of the HMX, so-called because it was the anniversary piece from MB&F in 2015. At that time, it was the most affordable MB&F wristwatch and spelled out founder Max Büsser’s vision for his watches because the words A Creative Adult is a Child who Survived are engraved on the caseback. In a very direct way, this takes us back to Thompson and why his rage against the machine appealed to Büsser (whom we sometimes just call Max).

MB&F HMX Black Badger Purple Reign

MB&F HMX Black Badger Purple Reign

Thompson’s creativity comes from being unceremoniously ejected from a masters program in Sweden due to an administrative change in how the university handled international students – Thompson is Canadian. He founded Black Badger Advanced Composites and proceeded to make a name for himself in creating glowing rings, powered by a material called AGT Ultra. Thompson’s rebellious streak and creativity were obvious draws for Büsser, who himself railed against conventions in the watch trade when he established MB&F.

MB&F HMX Black Badger Phantom Blue

MB&F HMX Black Badger Phantom Blue

Ok, so what is this HMX Black Badger then? Well, the basic configuration of the HMX remains unchanged – it still displays only hours (jumping) and minutes (trailing) via sapphire crystal windows along the case middle. What has changed is visible fully from the top because the so-called engine rocker covers are now in what the press release calls “lume” but that Thompson calls AGT Ultra. Basically, this is a material that absorbs light which is especially sensitive to the UV range; the resulting illumination is significantly brighter than any SuperLuminova I have ever seen. Thanks to how the numerals display with the HMX, they will actually glow in a color that matches the AGT Ultra shade. There are three options with this watch: Radar Green, Phantom Blue and Purple Reign. Each version is limited to 18 pieces.

MB&F HMX Black Badger Radar Green

MB&F HMX Black Badger Radar Green

Specs

  • Dimensions: 46.8 x 44.3 x 20.7mm
  • Functions: Bi-directional jumping hours, trailing minutes (these are displayed via dual reflective sapphire crystal prisms and integrated magnifying lens)
  • Power Reserve: 42 hours
  • Movement: Automatic Selita gear train with in-house jumping hour and trailing minutes module
  • Material: Grade 5 titanium and steel
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Partially perforated calfskin strap with color complementary to Engine rocker covers, titanium tang buckle

 

 

Trunk Story: Louis Vuitton Fifty Five

When Louis Vuitton started out as a trunk company way back in the 19th century, there was little to indicate that it would become one of the most powerful French luxury brands in the world. Right up to present times, the company draws constant inspiration from those original trunk designs. The Louis Vuitton Fifty Five (the ‘Fifty Five’ comes from the roman numerals LV) is one of those – the timepiece takes its cues from aluminum military trunks forged in the past.

You can check out more on this story at Men’s Folio.