Tag Archives: Vacheron Constantin

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Gets New Black Dials

For over a century, the iconic Genevan manufacturer has been producing classic minimalist pieces. Since twenty years ago, Vacheron Constantin Overseas watch has became a symbol of watchmaking pleasure geared towards travel and escapism. 

Previously available in only blue or white, 2018 sees the emergence of a black dial version beautifully framed by the shimmering steel case. The sleek monotone creates the ‘iconic ‘panda’ look, popularised by the titular Paul Newman.

Both black-dialed models feature the original integrated bracelet and case design, coming in a set of steel, rubber and leather. With Vacheron’s patented quick-release system, replacement straps are easily changed by releasing the catch on the back of the strap.

The new face of Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph is distinguished by a “reverse panda” dial, the first contrasting black/silver subdial option for this model. The striking white counters on black is assuredly a gorgeous face-lift that is also practical as a sports watch. The vivid colour contrast of the sub-dials improve legibility by clearly separating time-telling and elapsed time measurement.

The twin-barrel movement is powered by a 54-jewel caliber 5200, viewable through a sapphire crystal caseback. The start, stop and reset functions are activated by a strong vertical clutch, designed to endure against physical conditions. Powered with 52 hours of reserve, the dimension of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph is moderately large – 42.5mm wide and 13.7mm thick.

The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Self-winding is a stainless-steel piece with a similar black lacquered dial, detailed with white gold indices and silver logo.

Wound by the brand’s iconic 22 carat oscillating weight and powered by a 5100 caliber. Equipped with two mainspring barrels, it is powered with 60 hours of reserve. The dimensions of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Self-Winding is smaller than the chronograph at 41mm in diameter, and is available on a metal bracelet or the optional of leather or rubber quick change (no tools) straps.

Despite bearing the Geneva hallmark for their top-notch movement finishing, Vacheron Constantin Overseas pieces are made to be absolutely practical. Anti-magnetic and water-resistant to 150 meters, these generation of timepieces achieve the perfect blend of performance and style.

Both watches will be available in Vacheron Constantin boutiques and retailers by June 2018.

Pricing is set at $30,300 USD for the Overseas Chronograph and $20,900 USD for the three hand variant.

Meet the Winners of GPHG 2017

The Oscars of the watch industry has just ended and 17th edition of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve (GPHG) has yielded some expected winners and also some unexpected upsets. Come meet the winners of GPHG 2017.

Meet the Winners of GPHG 2017

Founded in 2001, the main objective of the Foundation of Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) promotes Swiss watchmaking traditions and values worldwide. The annual GPHG honours excellence of horological production and the finest creations each November at the Grand Théâtre de Genève. This year, the GPHG 2017 panel of jurists have chosen these brands as winners for the following awards:

Winner of GPHG 2017 Ladies High Mech Watch Prize: Van Cleef & Arpels

Winner of GPHG 2017 Ladies High Mech Watch Prize: Van Cleef & Arpels  Lady Arpels Papillon Automate

Ever faithful to a poetic view of life, Van Cleef & Arpels introduced a distinctive dimension to the field of watchmaking: that of dreams and emotion. Best known of “poetic complications” or mechanical expressions of stories on the dial, the Van Cleef and Arpels Lady Arpels Papillon Automate expresses these values and themes emblematic to the maison.

Employing both watchmaking and artisanal skills, watchmakers, lapidaries, enamelers, engravers and stone-setters combine theirl savoir-faire to embellish complication watches and exceptional dials like those of the Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Papillon Automate to depict  a dreamlike perspective on the passage of time.

Why it won: As the hours and minutes flow, the butterfly of the Lady Arpels Papillon Automate beats its wings randomly – one to four times in a row, depending on the power reserve.The maison manages to create a lifelike automaton butterfly thanks to the irregular frequency of its movements, taking place every two to four minutes when the watch is not being worn and more often when it is on the wrist. The butterfly’s liveliness echoes that of its wearer, with alternating periods of calm and activity or it can be activated on demand via button.

Winner of GPHG 2017 Tourbillon and Escapement Watch Prize: Bulgari

Winner of GPHG 2017 Tourbillon and Escapement Watch Prize: Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton

Bulgari has been collecting watchmaking kudos since they astounded the industry with their 2014 Octo Finissimo Tourbillon, breaking records to become the world’s slimmest tourbillon. For 2017, the brand upped the horological ante by skeletonising their record breaking tourbillon and introducing the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton.

The Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton is driven by an ultra-thin, openworked tourbillon comprising 253 parts. To ensure perfect efficiency and precision, its barrel spring is equipped with a slipping spring and the tourbillon cage is fitted on a peripherally driven ultra-thin ball-bearing mechanism. This exceptional in-house movement houses a barrel held by three ball bearings, an innovative feature serving to double the height of the barrel spring and thus achieve an 80% increase in power reserve, delivering a 52-hour power reserve, an impressive accomplishment for such a slim tourbillon model.

Why it won: By skeletonising an ultra thin tourbillon and then applying ball bearings to further reduce the thickness of the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon, Bulgari moves to another level by offering devotees of beautiful watchmaking a new interpretation with an entirely skeleton-worked tourbillon. Bulgari also swept up the GPHG 2017 men’s watch prize with their Octo Finissimo automatic

Winner of GPHG 2017 Innovation Prize: Zenith

Winner of GPHG 2017 Innovation Prize: Zenith DEFY Lab

When World of Watches spoke to Jean Claude Biver in July, we learnt that the LVMH watchmaking chief had planned to position Zenith as the “future of tradition”. It was then that we learnt of a brand new Zenith oscillator. When the winner of GPHG 2017 innovation prize was revealed to be the Zenith DEFY Lab, there was really little surprise to the editorial team.

Zenith introduces a completely newly developed movement called the ZO 342 for the DEFY Lab. Instead of using the conventional means of regulating a mechanical watch by means of a balance and hairspring assembly with its more than 30 individual parts and a thickness of about 5 mm, the LVMH Watch Division Research & Development Department innovated the single 0.5 mm high Zenith-Oscillator. The monolithic regulating organ for the DEFY Lab which consists of only two components with considerably optimized functionality. The Zenith-Oscillator is an all-of-a-piece organ without mechanical linkages that replaces 31 ordinarily assembled, adjusted, regulated and controlled parts. The absence of conventional mechanical couplings eliminates contact, friction, wear, slack, lubrication, assemblies and dispersions.

Why it won: The 15 Hz (108,000 vibrations per hour) frequency of the Zenith-Oscillator is three times the historical frequency of the El Primero movement, while showing a 10 percent higher power reserve. In terms of precision of the Zenith DEFY Lab exceeds requirements of the ISO-3159 standard. In fact, never has a serially produced mechanical watch in the history of watchmaking reached such a high level of performance and precision amounting to +/- 0.5 seconds from 0 to 48 hours, trumping the best conventional series production balance assemblies range of +/- 2 seconds over 24 hours. Of course Zenith won the GPHG 2017 innovation prize, duh.

Winner of GPHG 2017 Petite Aiguille prize: Tudor

Winner of GPHG 2017 Petite Aiguille prize: Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph

The vintage inspired Tudor Black Bay Chronograph was winner of the GPHG 2017 Petite Aiguille prize. When Tudor released teasers about a new chronograph unveiling for Baselworld 2017, I had hoped it would be a Monte Carlo Chronograph, instead, their new manufacture Tudor Chronograph derived its core aesthetic elements from the Heritage Black Bay diver’s models. Nevertheless, it’s an attractive vintage looking two register chronograph and a distinct brand icon of modern Tudor rather than being another heritage re-issue.

Why it won: Boasting a 70-hour power reserve, a silicon balance spring and certification by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute, the Manufacture chronograph Calibre MT5813 that drives the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph model is a high-performance movement which was developed with Breitling (who themselves refer to the chronograph movement as manufacture calibre Breitling 01). The Tudor Black Bay Chronograph’s MT5813 uses the brand’s own high-precision regulating organ and exclusive finishing.

Winner of GPHG 2017 Revival watch: Longines

Winner of GPHG 2017 Revival watch: Longines Avigation BigEye

With a treasure trove of immense heritage (Longines was one of the original BIg Three before Patek), Longines regularly draws on its historical pieces to enhance its Heritage line. The Longines Avigation BigEye is a re-issue chronograph from the 1930es. The brand with the Flying Hourglass motif also has a great tradition of pilot watches and provenance within the field of aviation, case in point: Charles Lindbergh.

Why it won: The Longines Avigation BigEye is inspired by a chronograph whose aesthetic is typical of the great age of aviation. True to the spirit of pilots’ watches, this model displays a very readable dial with a focus on the minute counter and tactile push buttons operable with aviator gloves. Given the heritage, there’s little wonder the Longines Avigation BigEye takes the revival watch prize.

Winner of GPHG 2017 Aiguille D’or Grand Prix: Chopard

Winner of GPHG 2017 Aiguille D’or Grand Prix: Chopard L.U.C. Full Strike

To take top honours during your 20th birthday is a fitting celebration; the Winner of GPHG 2017 Aiguille D’or Grand Prix: Chopard L.U.C. Full Strike, the Fleurier manufacture’s first ever minute repeater. With more than six years of work, the L.U.C. Full Strike is Chopard’s most sophisticated chiming watch to date, building upon the L.U.C Strike One which chimes each striking hour, launched in 2006.

The L.U.C Full Strike chimes the hours, quarters and minutes on transparent crystal gongs, the result is exceptional clarity. These sapphire rings are an integral part of the watch glass, which creates a perfect loudspeaker faithfully to diffuse the chimes of the hammers striking the sapphire. This is a unique technical solution which is visible at 10 o’clock and results in a tone of matchless purity that is rich and full, powerful and resonant. It makes literal the traditional maxim “crystal-clear” sound.

Why it won: Almost 17,000 hours of development have been lavished on the development of calibre 08.01-L and Chopard has found all-new in-house responses to historical issues relating to the nature of the gongs, as well as to the operation and ergonomics of the striking system as a whole, in the process applying for three pending patents. Furthermore, a series of security systems protect the L.U.C Full Strike from all inappropriate handling operations that can damage minute repeaters. Finally, the rotations of the strike governor – the component that gives the striking mechanism its rhythm – traditionally produces a humming sound but on the calibre L.U.C 08.01-L is entirely inaudible. Editor’s Note: At a point in minute repeater history, a competing brand had indeed discovered a solution to silence the humming component only to have it re-introduced when the watch buying public considered the minute repeater “hum” a mark of quality.

Winner of GPHG 2017 Mechanical Exception Watch Prize: Vacheron Constantin

Winner of GPHG 2017 Mechanical Exception Watch Prize: Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600

Brooking the least argument, the winner of GPHG 2017 Mechanical Exception Watch Prize rightly belongs to the Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600.

The unique twin-dial Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 combines astronomy and the watchmaking art in a celestial white gold composition. Twenty-three essentially astronomical complications appear on the front and back dials of the watch, providing a reading of time in three modes – civil, solar and sidereal – each driven by its own gear train. Embodying the height of technical sophistication, its fully integrated 514-part calibre with six barrels guarantee three full weeks of autonomy.

Why it won: Featuring an all-new construction, Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 follows in the eminent wake of a unique creation representing a milestone in the history of mechanical horology and laying a veritable cornerstone for new watchmaking feats by Vacheron Constantin. Five years of development starting from a blank page, a dedicated master-watchmaker, along with two years of design, have given life to the one-of-a-kind Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600, displaying 23 complications on its twin dials. This Haute Horlogerie ‘heavenly phenomenon’ is one of the most complex ever made and heir to a proud lineage of astronomical timepieces. It provides a combined display of civil, solar and sidereal times by means of three separate gear trains.

Winner of GPHG 2017 Special Jury Prize: Chanel Mademoiselle Coromandel with enamel dial made by Anita Porchet and Suzanna Rohr

Winner of GPHG 2017 Special Jury Prize: Chanel Mademoiselle Coromandel with enamel dial made by Anita Porchet and Suzanna Rohr

The work of master artisans — enamellers, engravers, and stone-setters — the Mademoiselle Privé Coromandel exemplifies Chanel watchmaking and their penchant for intricate beauty. Suzanna Rohr and Anita Porchet are virtual strangers to industry outsiders but in high horology circles, they are veritable grand mistresses of enamelling.

A visit to Gabrielle Chanel’s Rue Cambon apartment will reveal her love for exotic orientalism – courtesy of the Coromandel panels dressing her home. That the Chanel Mademoiselle Coromandel with exquisite enamel dial made by Anita Porchet and Suzanna Rohr takes this special prize is fitting from both an artisan and brand heritage perspective.

GPHG 2017 Unexpected Upset 1: Fabergé Visionnaire Chronograph

The Visionnaire Chronograph, powered by the automatic calibre 6361, is a revolutionary new movement that imparts unprecedented clarity, precision and efficiency to the highly popular chronograph complication. The new chronograph movement developed by Agenhor, the Geneva-based movement specialist, is the brainchild of Jean-Marc Wiederrecht. This significant gain in legibility is thanks to the unique construction of the calibre 6361, comprising a central chronograph module set within an annular base movement.

The advantages imparted by the unique construction of the calibre 6361 go far beyond chronograph legibility. Chronographs are inextricably associated with the concept of precision, and the new instant-start indications of the calibre 6361 provide a significant advantage over the ambiguity of traditional chronographs and their semi-instantaneous twitches. This feat is achieved by a system of snail cams, fixed to the chronograph wheels along the central camshaft of the calibre 6361. Upon completion of a full minute or a full hour, a snail cam trips a pawl that instantly clicks the chronograph indication forwards by a single step. Further precision is provided by the patented AgenClutch, a completely novel, lateral-friction clutch that robustly combines the smooth engagement of the modern vertical clutch with the flatness of the traditional system.

GPHG 2017 Unexpected Upset 2: Montblanc 1815 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition

The 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition 100 showcases a vintage style: sunray  finished champagne dial matching the bronze case.

At the heart of the timepiece lies a traditional manual monopusher chronograph movement, the calibre MB M16.29, with a column wheel mechanism, horizontal coupling, chronograph bridge in a “V” shape, a large screwed balance wheel vibrating at a frequency of 18,000 semi oscillations per hour and a power reserve of 50 hours.

This in-house chronograph has been entirely handcrafted at the Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret and is characterized by an exceptional finishing. Designed in a large “pocket watch” style, the calibre MB M16.29 has been inspired by the original calibre 17.29 designed for pocket watches and wristwatches in the 1930s. This new version uses almost the same shape of components as the calibre 17.29 , but features different finishings, such as inside angles, Côtes de Genève stripes and circular graining.

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.

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.


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

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.

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.

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.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph

Originally launched in 1977 as the Ref. 222 to mark Vacheron Constantin’s 222nd anniversary, the Overseas line of sports watches was subsequently reintroduced in 1996. In 2004, it was refreshed, most notably with the integration of the Maltese Cross design into the bracelet links. Through the years, the watches enjoyed reasonable popularity with avid watch collectors even though they’ve been generally flying under the radar all this time.

Things may be set to change now that the new iteration is really made to shine because Vacheron Constantin has just revamped the Overseas collection with several new models including a 42.5mm self-winding chronograph. The movement used is a brand new Calibre 5200, developed in-house over a period of five years. This is a 12-hour chronograph with a Maltese Cross-shaped screw in the centre of the column wheel mechanism and a vertical coupling clutch for a smoother start of the chronograph second hand. Optimal torque is delivered for the period of about 52 hours, thanks to the twin barrel design. The movement’s 22K gold rotor is decorated with the wind rose emblem to reinforce the heritage of travel – the very purpose the collection is built for. A soft iron ring around the movement affords extra protection against magnetism.Vacheron-Constantin-Calibre-5200

This Geneva Seal-certified timepiece is designed with strap interchangeability in mind. Turn the watch around and you will see a small latch on both end-pieces to release the bracelet from the case. An alligator or rubber strap can then be attached with an easy snap. Extra straps are included in the package, and both the alligator and rubber straps are worn with the same triple-blade folding clasp. Of course, no tool is required to move this clasp from one strap to the next – a little turning on a pivot will do the job.

Even if you are not switching straps, you can still benefit from the bracelet clasp’s clever extension system. Simply pull at one or both ends to get a few extra millimetres of wrist comfort on demand. Once done, push the ends back and the bracelet returns to its original length – excellent for our hot and humid climate.


  • Dimensions: 42.5mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, chronograph
  • Power Reserve: 52 hours
  • Movement Self-winding Vacheron Constantin Calibre 5200
  • Case: Stainless steel
  • Water resistance: 150 meters
  • Strap: Steel bracelet with steel deployant buckle, plus black/blue alligator leather strap and black/blue rubber strap supplied with a second steel deployant buckle

Story Credits

Text by  Ruckdee Chotjinda

This story first appeared in WOW Magazine.

In Pictures: Many Facets of Iroshini Chua

Dr Iroshini Chua wears many hats as a mother of two, family physician, travel columnist, high society fixture, party planner, accomplished home chef, charity crusader, style influencer, among others. The multi-hyphenate is also well known for her good taste in accessories and her love of gemstones. She has designed jewelry as a hobby business in the past, and is planning to launch her own brand in the near future. We asked her to share a few secrets on how she balances style and comfort so effortlessly.

Hostess With The Mostest

Special thanks to The St. Regis Singapore for hosting the photo shoot at its lavishly appointed Presidential Suite, which features a master bedroom, living room, dining room, executive office, gym, and terrace. Displayed on the premises are prized artworks by masters including Marc Chagall, Mark Tobey, Le Pho, and Sam Francis. Hand-painted silk panels adorn the walls, while custom-made Czech crystal chandeliers cast a warm glow. Other highlights include a luxurious bedroom and a beautiful master bathroom with its own Jacuzzi and separate jet massage shower with marble steam chamber.

Special thanks to The St. Regis Singapore for hosting the photo shoot at its lavishly appointed Presidential Suite, which features a master bedroom, living room, dining room, executive office, gym, and terrace. Displayed on the premises are prized artworks by masters including Marc Chagall, Mark Tobey, Le Pho, and Sam Francis. Hand-painted silk panels adorn the walls, while custom-made Czech crystal chandeliers cast a warm glow. Other highlights include a luxurious bedroom and a beautiful master bathroom with its own Jacuzzi and separate jet massage shower with marble steam chamber.

Van Cleef & Arpels Magic Alhambra one-motif white gold and diamond long necklace, Perlée white gold hoop earrings, Cadenas white gold and diamond watch; Emporio Armani embroidered cotton-mix pleated dress.

Career Woman

Christian Dior La Mini D de Dior 19mm watch, Rose Dior Pré Catalan pink gold and amethyst necklace, earrings, and ring, polyamide-mix pleated dress.

Christian Dior La Mini D de Dior 19mm watch, Rose Dior Pré Catalan pink gold and amethyst necklace, earrings, and ring, polyamide-mix pleated dress.

“I like wearing timeless and feminine clothes and jewelry that can easily take me from the clinic to an evening engagement.”

Mummy Duty

The Presidential Suite is part of The St. Regis Singapore’s Suite Society programme, which also features the Manhattan, Metropolitan, Knickerbocker, Astoria, and King Cole Suites. Guests who book them are offered exclusive access to exceptional dining and lifestyle privileges.

The Presidential Suite is part of The St. Regis Singapore’s Suite Society program, which also features the Manhattan, Metropolitan, Knickerbocker, Astoria, and King Cole Suites. Guests who book them are offered exclusive access to exceptional dining and lifestyle privileges.

Audemars Piguet Ladies Royal Oak Self-winding 37mm diamond watch; Chanel pearl sautoir; Iroshini’s own pearl and diamond ring; Christian Dior printed cotton-knit top and viscose-mix skirt.


Available across all St. Regis properties around the world, the St. Regis Aficionado programme provides guests with exceptional bespoke experiences, such as private access to the world’s premier lifestyle collections and auctions, tasting rare private vintages, and getting a custom-tailored garment made.

Available across all St. Regis properties around the world, the St. Regis Aficionado programme provides guests with exceptional bespoke experiences, such as private access to the world’s premier lifestyle collections and auctions, tasting rare private vintages, and getting a custom-tailored garment made.

Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Small Model 33mm watch with diamonds; Iroshini’s own yellow sapphire ring, blue sapphire earrings; Ondademar silk kimono, cotton camisole, woven hat, heels.

“I love to discover new destinations, and I holiday at resorts about eight to 10 times a year. I don’t believe one should eschew style for comfort or vice-versa. This resort outfit is my perfect solution as it is comfortable for lounging by the pool as well as a chic ensemble for the restaurants. Matching it well is this Vacheron Constantin watch, which is so versatile and offers a pop of color.”

Lady Of Leisure

Chopard L’Heure du Diamant collection white gold necklace with 4.85 carats of diamonds, High Jewellery white gold ring with 13.6 carats of yellow diamonds and 1.28 carats of white diamonds, High Jewellery white gold and diamond ear studs; Diane von Furstenberg appliqué cotton-mix dress; Wedgwood Daisy Tea Story teacup and saucer set.

Chopard L’Heure du Diamant collection white gold necklace with 4.85 carats of diamonds, High Jewellery white gold ring with 13.6 carats of yellow diamonds and 1.28 carats of white diamonds, High Jewellery white gold and diamond ear studs; Diane von Furstenberg appliqué cotton-mix dress; Wedgwood Daisy Tea Story teacup and saucer set.

“I believe that diamonds can be beautifully paired with a busy print or loud colors to pull an entire look together without competing with them. This way, each can be admired in its own right.”

Belle Of The Ball

Home to one of the finest private art collections in Southeast Asia, The St. Regis Singapore offers exclusive access to museum-quality art. The collection showcases over 70 original works of art, including sculptures, paintings, and prints by internationally renowned artists. Hotel guests are invited to partake in The Art of Living tour around the hotel, conducted by the hotel butlers at 6pm daily.

Home to one of the finest private art collections in Southeast Asia, The St. Regis Singapore offers exclusive access to museum-quality art. The collection showcases over 70 original works of art, including sculptures, paintings, and prints by internationally renowned artists. Hotel guests are invited to partake in The Art of Living tour around the hotel, conducted by the hotel butlers at 6pm daily.

Piaget Extremely Piaget white gold ear cuff with 3.19 carats of diamonds and 12.76 carats of blue sapphires, Extremely Piaget white gold necklace with diamonds totalling 52.43 carats, a 20.06-carat cushion-cut sapphire, and a 7.35-carat pear-shaped blue sapphire, Limelight white gold secret watch with Polynesian mother-of-pearl and 506 multi-cut diamonds totaling 76.24 carats; Iroshini’s own Tex Saverio silk-mix laser-cut applique tiered gown; Jimmy Choo red suede clutch.

Party Princess

At The St. Regis Singapore, all guests have access to the signature St. Regis Butler Service, which includes food and beverage requests, unpacking and packing of luggage, garment pressing, and the e-butler option for access to the butler service, from within or outside the hotel, at any hour 
via e-mail.

At The St. Regis Singapore, all guests have access to the signature St. Regis Butler Service, which includes food and beverage requests, unpacking and packing of luggage, garment pressing, and the e-butler option for access to the butler service, from within or outside the hotel, at any hour 
via e-mail.

Cartier Panthère Captive de Cartier white gold watch with diamonds, emeralds, and onyx, Panthère de Cartier yellow gold earrings with tsavorites and diamonds, Panthère de Cartier yellow gold bracelets, one with tsavorites and onyx, the other with black lacquer, tsavorites, diamonds, and onyx; Iroshini’s own Tex Saverio polyester-mix laser-cut top; Marciano cotton-mix shorts; Ash gladiator heels

“My wardrobe contains edgy and architectural pieces for night outs. They allow me to have fun with fashion and be experimental. The iconic panther motif on the timepiece and jewels packs a punch and makes the entire look more impactful.”

Story Credits

Text by Yanni tan

Images by Wong Wei Liang

Styling by Vernon Sim

Styling Assistance by Christine Lim

Hair by Eileen Koh

Makeup by Amy Chow, using Chanel colors

Location The Presidential Suite at the St. Regis Singapore

This story first appeared in WOW Jewelry, Singapore.

Absolutely Brilliant: 14 Top Jewelry Watches

Like many things with a topping, jewellery watches tend to be larger than life. They may not be to everyone’s taste – there are those who wouldn’t touch a brew with cream and sugar in it or people who’d always scrape the icing off a cupcake; but when a watch is dressed in a Technicolor coat of precious stones, everything goes up a notch, or 10. Price for one, for not just the material, skill, design, and man-hours, but also sourcing stones from the ends of the Earth and working tirelessly over them, polishing, cutting, and setting racks up significantly higher costs. And secondly, there’s wattage: Not the electricity it takes to light a bulb, but metaphorically, an index of the amount of attention a jewelled watch is going to attract.

This happy circumstance of putting hand to stone, far from creating broken windows, has instead birthed a bewildering range of jewellery watches of every shade of colour, and taste, limited only by the collective imagination of the human race. Some watches go for subtlety, with just a light dusting of precious stones to bring up the lustre. In other instances, it is the diamonds and precious stones paved like tarmac that do the talking for the timepiece.

In both, and the continuum of moderation in between, a watch is worn all the better when the degree of ornamentation is pitched exactly to what the wearer intends. Here are some that have caught our eye.


If a wattage could be ascribed to this class, it would be on the top end of the scale, by the sheer weight of stones, usually diamonds, paved onto every nook and cranny of the timepiece’s three-dimensional form. It’s conceivable only the night sky will have more stars by number, however, the point is not really to count, but to declare, “Here I am!” People will stare for sure because watches in this class aren’t just slathered with the good stuff; they are also designed in a way that proclaims wealth, loud and proud.


Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph
When one of the most established Swiss watchmaking houses creates something that is modern and captures the spirit of the times, an icon is birthed. In this case, the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph, much-beloved of elite rapper and sports celebrities, is released in nearly as many special editions to match. Wholly carpeted with diamonds – save for onyxes to mark the hours – the result is a thoroughly aspirational emblem of excess.


Bulgari Octo Bi-Retrograde Full Diamonds
Squat and sleek at the same time, it’s like wearing a bunker on one’s wrist, its walls laid over with diamonds, and dual arcs in black ceramic for the retrograde minutes and date. Utterly glamorous with a commanding presence.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Collection EX45 Spyder 505SQ

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Skeleton Flying Tourbillon with Diamonds
It’s a little ironic that a watch from which so much material has been excised should have such a long name. And in comparison with other megawatt watches in this category, it hasn’t got that many carats on its spec sheet either. But in both senses, whether metal or stone, the Spider Tourbillon exemplifies the ideal of projecting so much presence with so little. And what diamonds it’s got are set using a unique process, into the rubber moulding wrapped around the bezel.


Hublot Big Bang Unico “10 Years” Haute Joaillerie
It’s been 10 years since Hublot’s Big Bang stormed into the watch collecting scene, and to celebrate, the company introduced three new Big Bang models valued at a combined $10 million – an arresting statement from a company that writes the book on making statements! In particular, the Unico Haute Joaillerie comes in four references, set to the hilt in precious stones: black diamonds, white diamonds, white diamonds and blue sapphires, and white diamonds and red rubies.


If elegance is conveyed in a whisper, that is only relative in a manner of speaking. Timepieces here are not ‘loud’; but for sheer beauty and luxury, they give no quarter in their ability to draw one’s eye. Not by the collar, as compared to pieces that are all about bold expression – that would not be very refined. Rather, they cast their spell by compelling persuasion, even seduction. Enthrallment rather than shock and awe, and once ensnared, many would find they’d rather do backflips than look away.


Vacheron Constantin Malte Tourbillon High Jewellery
There’s a white gold case forming the core of the watch, but one doesn’t get to see it, because the entire timepiece, save for the tourbillon and including the bracelet, is entirely paved with baguette-cut diamonds using an invisible setting technique. Working at tolerances down to 100th of a millimetre, the fit is perfect, no different from a second skin. A true creature of light.


Bulgari Octo Tourbillon Full Diamonds
The distinctiveness of its octagonal case and its angular lugs project immense presence. At the same time, the arctic blaze of the diamonds tiled over the whole watch finds beautiful contrast in the warmth and animation of the tourbillon.


Breguet Classique 5238
Even with diamonds up to its ears, paved on case, bezel, and lugs, the Classique 5238 with openworked dial has not shed a whit of the formal elegance and visual purity of the rest of the Classique family. Somehow, it manages to look luxurious without being extravagant, stealing the show without being 
overtly showy. Brilliant!


Breguet 5719 Classique Hora Mundi Haute Joaillerie
What looks to be a glamour piece for the ballroom actually scores very high on utility, featuring a self-winding movement with instant jump second time zone display at the 12 and 6 o’clock positions. Engraved day/night indicator is deliciously quaint, and the continent of one’s choice (America, Europe or Asia/Oceania) rendered in round-cut diamonds and set against wavy rose engine turned ocean is a sight to behold.


Every watch marched out of a serious watchmaking factory has had a lot of design thought into its creation: nothing is random, accidental, and every flourish makes a point even if it’s mechanically superfluous. But these watches take design a nudge further, ties are loosened if not flung away, and brushes are inked a little wetter for bolder strokes.


Cartier Pasha de Cartier 42mm Skeleton Dragon Motif Watch
Watch aficionados light up for the skeletonised manufacture movement specially shaped to complement the dragon motif; but the latter itself is wonderfully stylised, drawn with softer lines that are a departure from the more regular renditions, all snarly, teeth and talons. Exquisite; and the Pasha’s distinctive crown has just a bit of the oriental vibe to match.

Métiers d'Art Swan 86677-000G-B116

Vacheron Constantin Métiers D’art L’éloge De La Nature Swan
The swan being a symbol of enduring love, it is fitting that this watch should come as a pair, a men’s and a women’s model in 42mm and 39mm cases respectively. It takes two months to complete each dial, and four crafts – enamelling, engraving, guilloche, gem-setting – to impart vividness and liveliness to stone and metal, effecting a breath-taking rendition of a lustrous swan spreading its wings on a lake of enamel.


Very much of watchmaking is about technology and technique. The Swiss anchor and hairspring are important milestones in man’s technological advancement, a long way from stone tools and time measurement in drips and drabs. But especially in the 21st century, well into the age of digital and information technology holding sway, some watchmakers remain adamant about performing incredible feats of mechanical engineering, extending the relevance and wonder of the gear-driven timepiece.


Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari Golden Jubilee
The plain vanilla MP-05 is already more exclusive than its supercar namesake, being limited to 50 pieces. But the Golden Jubilee created to celebrate SG50 and Big Bang’s 10th anniversary is even more so, as a unique piece. As unique as its orientation, which is not top-down like most watches, but front-back, like a stack of coins stood on their edges. The watch has 11 barrels (most watches have one) stacked just like this, visible as the central spine on the watch face, terminating in a vertical tourbillon and flanked by marked cylinders telling time and power reserve, over a scale of 50 days! Golden Jubilee model adds plenty of diamonds, like scales on a cobra’s head.


Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle 14-Day Tourbillon
It’s like the watchmakers pussy-footed on the documents, to make doubly sure the mechanical merits are highlighted by precious stones without being upstaged; the archetypal “watch with jewellery” as opposed to the reverse. In this case, a handsome balance has been struck. Being adequately embellished, it’s not just the diamonds, but the supreme refinement and conservative elegance of Vacheron Constantin’s tourbillon – with the distinctive Maltese Cross tourbillon cage and outstanding 14-day power reserve – that shines through.


Piaget Emperador Coussin Tourbillon Diamond-Set Automatic Skeleton
How can one forget Piaget when thinking about gem-set watches? The manufacture’s dual expertise in watchmaking and jewellery crafting does not go unnoticed especially in such illustrious timepieces like this one. Of course the technical know-how is impressive; it’s not every day that a manufacture gets to successfully create an ultra-thin self-winding skeletonised flying tourbillon. But Piaget had already done that a few years ago, and with this new model, it went a step further, lavishing the movement Calibre 1270D with beautiful diamonds. The case, bezel, crown, and bracelet, as well as the micro-rotor, have all been set with a mix of brilliant- and baguette-cut gems.


Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition
The Grande Maison’s watchmaking mastery extends out of grand complications and into such luxuriant yet tasteful gem-setting as seen in these two stunning creations. We have the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétual with flawless baguette-cut gems cradling the tourbillon as well as set all around the bezel and crown, not to mention its indexes too, and the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique, which is fully paved with baguette-cut gemstones. In the latter, Jaeger-LeCoultre plays with colours, namely blue 
and silver, by mixing blue sapphires with diamonds, and white gold with blued steel.

Story Credits
Text by Yeo Suan Futt

This article was originally published on World of Watches

Focus: Vacheron Constantin Ref. 57260

Can you imagine waiting 10 years for a watch? In this amount of time, pre-teens would have turned into young adults, the world economy would have risen and fallen at least once, and a great number of marriages don’t even last half as long. But 10 years was exactly how long one watch aficionado had waited for his Vacheron Constantin pocket watch – now that’s commitment. And we may say “he” but the truth is, in strict accordance with its privacy policy, Vacheron Constantin never revealed the identity of the owner of the watch. Suffice it to say, we are talking about one of the manufacture’s very best customers.

Vacheron Constantin Tour de l’Île

Vacheron Constantin Tour de l’Île

Flashback to 2005, just as Vacheron Constantin celebrated its 250th anniversary, the manufacture made multiple headlines as it launched a seminal timepiece called Tour de l’Île. Named after the historical tower in Geneva where Vacheron Constantin’s first watchmaking atelier was located, this wristwatch with 16 complications was then considered the most complicated in the world. A total of seven pieces were produced and this double-face wristwatch was also fêted across the globe after it won the prestigious Aiguille d’Or prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.

Right about this time, the manufacture received a customer’s special request to build a watch – a pocket watch this time – that was even more complicated, so complicated that it could conceivably stand on its own alongside the manufacture’s greatest horological achievements of all time.

Greatest Of All Time

Across the ages, Vacheron Constantin has produced innumerable pocket and wristwatches and a large number of these timepieces had been high or grand complications. Within its grand complications hall of fame, four historical pocket watches stand out particularly for having been a greatest-of-all-time at some point in time. Vacheron Constantin produced them decades ago for some very specific clients, and so eminent are these individuals that the watches are now identified by the names of their illustrious owners. These masterpieces are the James Ward Packard pocket watch, the pocket watch for Count Guy de Boisrouvray, the pocket watch for King Fouad I of Egypt, and the pocket watch for King Farouk I of Egypt. Today, the King Farouk and Count Guy de Boisrouvray watches belong to the collections of private collectors, while the King Fouad and the James Ward Packard are kept safe in the Vacheron Constantin archives.


Just in time for its 260th anniversary in 2015, Vacheron Constantin was able to update this legendary collection of ultra complicated pocket watches with a fifth one named not after its owner this time, but rather, a set of reference numbers. Known somewhat cryptically as Ref. 57260, this newcomer exceeds all its predecessors in terms of size and number of complications, although Vacheron Constantin can quickly and easily explain the provenance of this symbolic five-digit number.


Where 260 is quite obviously linked to the celebratory year, 57 is not so immediately apparent, so here it is: There is a grand total of 57 complications in this watch, some of which are completely unprecedented. No wonder it measures a whopping 98mm in diameter and is 15.55mm thick. At the worldwide launch of Ref. 57260, Vacheron Constantin had also revealed that this timepiece weighs just under 1kg. In addition, the owner of the watch had specific requirements about its proportions, namely that the final product should neither be bigger nor heavier than another horological great – the Patek Philippe Calibre 89 – a timepiece that he happens to also have in his (surely) astonishing watch collection.

Like the James Ward Packard, Ref. 57260 was a collaborative effort between customer and manufacture, where the customer’s role was to express his horological desires and the manufacture’s, to be consulted and fulfil them. Yet, because the owner demanded full privacy (even as he did allow Vacheron Constantin to showcase the watch at an international event), this watch could only ever be known by its reference number instead of the owner’s name, as with the first four legendary pocket watches of the Genevan manufacture.

To accomodate all 57 complications, Vacheron Constantin had to utilise both sides of the watch

To accomodate all 57 complications, Vacheron Constantin had to utilise both sides of the watch

Sun With Moon

Another factor that immediately distinguishes Ref. 57260 from the others is that it is a two-face watch – how else to display 57 functions? Understanding it requires a fair amount of time and concentration plus a loupe, and a pair of reading glasses. A dram of single malt would also help. Even though chances are slight that this piece unique will be put up for sale any time soon, it’s still worth exploring as one of the most original and inspirational works of haute horlogerie in the 21st century, and definitely one of the most ground-breaking masterpieces ever made by Vacheron Constantin.

For a start, Ref. 57260 contains not just the traditional perpetual calendar complication, but four different calendar types. One of which, the Hebraic calendar, was the client’s special request and had never been made before in a mechanical timepiece. While this does suggest the client is Jewish, Vacheron Constantin has made no official statement confirming that.

The Metonic cycle, a period of 19 years, is central to the essential mechanics of the Hebraic calendar

The Metonic cycle, a period of 19 years, is central to the essential mechanics of the Hebraic calendar


As it is, the traditional, meaning Gregorian, perpetual calendar is a hard enough complication to make, but credit must go to today’s master watchmakers for their continual innovation. Another Swiss marque, Blancpain, had made a Chinese lunar perpetual calendar three years ago, and now Vacheron Constantin positively one-upped the Le Brassus manufacture with the Hebraic, which is known to be exceedingly hard to understand, much less construct.

Unlike the Chinese or even the Islamic calendars, which are based solely on the moon, the Hebraic calendar is lunisolar as it combines lunar months and solar years. The Hebrew lunar year is about 354.367 days (11 days shorter than the 365-day solar year) so it uses a 19-year system called the Metonic cycle that brings in intercalary months every two or three years for a total of seven times to align the lunar and solar cycles. To accurately display all the components of the Hebraic calendar perpetually without manual adjustment, Vacheron Constantin’s team of watchmakers and engineers had to come up with new sets of mathematical calculations and mechanical concepts never before done in the history of watchmaking.

To read the Hebraic calendar, begin with the two apertures under the sub-dials at three and nine o’clock. Displayed in Hebrew are respectively the days and months. For the date, look at the sub-dial at six o’clock and read from the gold serpentine hand tipped with a crescent. Corresponding to the 29.5-day lunar cycle, there are either 29 or 30 days in each month, and naturally, the watch adjusts itself accordingly. To know if there are 12 or 13 months this year, refer to the sub-dial at nine o’clock where a small gold hand indicates this clearly. Within the sub-dial at three o’clock, you get the Golden Number, which tells you how many more years till the end of the Metonic cycle.

This indication includes phases as well as age of the moon

This indication includes phases as well as age of the moon

There are religious observations in every culture, and in Judaism, the holiest day of the year is known as Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement. On the 10th day of the seventh month, Jews observe Yom Kippur by fasting for a 25-hour period and praying intensively. Since it’s a moveable feast, Yom Kippur occurs on a different day every year in the Metonic cycle, and Ref. 57260 displays a pre-calculated set of 19 dates in Gregorian calendar terms for convenience. The year is shown digitally in the wide aperture within the six o’clock sub-dial. At present, it states 5775 because the Hebraic calendar is calculated from the creation of the world in 3760 BC as opposed to anno Domini (AD) as used by the Gregorian calendar. Finally, the phases and age of the moon are placed prominently in the sub-dial at 12 o’clock and it requires only one correction every 1,027 years.

Take Your Chime

Cosying up to the Hebraic calendar at the front of the watch are its chiming indicators. Unlike many modern repeaters and sonneries, Ref. 57260 does not expose any part of the strike train or the movement for that matter. As such, the only way to assess the mechanism would be to activate the chimes. There are a total of five sets of hammers and gongs inside the case, four of which are dedicated to producing the Westminster chimes when the watch is in sonnerie mode, while the final set is reserved for the alarm function. Of course, Ref. 57260 being a timepiece of such superlative qualities, the owner can easily decide to switch off the strikes and choose between grande and petite sonnerie modes. More interestingly, Vacheron Constantin proffered an additional touch of personalisation: The owner can also select a night mode where the watch dutifully chimes the time in passing except between 10pm and 8am.

The owner can choose between chiming (grande or petite sonnerie), silent, and night modes, which is a new innovation by Vacheron Constantin

The owner can choose between chiming (grande or petite sonnerie), silent, and night modes, which is a new innovation by Vacheron Constantin

Pushers are located all around the watch, but rather than create bulk, they blend gently into the case. To choose between chime, night, and silence, push the button at nine o’clock, which engages the indicator on the dial at 10 o’clock, and alternate between grande and petite sonnerie using the button at 10 o’clock. Time on demand, however, is available 24/7 as long as the watch is properly wound. Simply activate the sliding lever at five o’clock to hear the hours, quarters, and minutes. There is a dedicated mainspring for the strike train. Winding it involves turning the crown and a gauge (denoted by a “C”) at nine o’clock monitors its remaining power. Turning the crown the other way winds the going train, which is aligned with the other power reserve indicator (denoted by an “M”) at three o’clock.

Alarm power reserve and mode display; choose between normal (N) and carillon (C) alarm chimes

Alarm power reserve and mode display; choose between normal (N) and carillon (C) alarm chimes

Along with the Count Guy de Boisrouvray and the King Farouk, Ref. 57260 includes an alarm function, but this is one alarm with a fancy upgrade. Apart from on/off, choose between one of two alarm modes where the first yields generic chimes from a single set of hammer and gong. The other mode invites you to enjoy the cascading chimes of the traditional Westminster carillon. See which mode is currently engaged using the indicator at two o’clock on the dial. While we’re not sure if it’s loud enough by which to be awakened, there is no doubt that the classical chimes of Big Ben struck by hammers on gongs are always more welcome to a connoisseur’s ears than Apple’s Marimba.

To activate or deactivate the alarm, use the button at 1.30 and to choose between normal and carillon mode, use the one at 2.30. When it’s time to wind the mainspring for the alarm, the owner gets to do something very cool. Being a pocket watch, albeit an exceedingly large one, it has the classic bow above the crown, but this is no ordinary bow for it controls the release mechanism for the alarm’s flush fit winding stem. Push and turn the bow clockwise by about 25 degrees and this winding stem pops out instantaneously. Use it to wind the mainspring and set the alarm time. Remaining power can be monitored via the gauge next to the alarm mode selector, and the alarm time is displayed at 12 o’clock, where the alarm hand is in gold with a triangular tip. When it is no longer needed, the alarm winding stem can be pushed back into the case.

The winding crown for the alarm is usually tucked into the case band and can be released by a push and twist of the bow at 12 o'clock

The winding crown for the alarm is usually tucked into the case band and can be released by a push and twist of the bow at 12 o’clock

Timekeeping With A Twist

In addition to the Hebraic calendar, the sonnerie night mode, and the carillon alarm, there is one other complication made for the very first time in Ref. 57260: The monopusher retrograde rattrapante chronograph. Where traditional rattrapante (or split-seconds) chronographs position both chronograph seconds hands on the same axis in order to keep the rattrapante hand from sight when not engaged, Ref. 57260 proudly displays both with equal prominence and allows each to move according to its own rhythm. For once, the rattrapante hand is not acquiescent to the chronograph seconds hand.

At rest, both hands point to zero on their respective scales. When timekeeping begins, they spring into action, ascending steadily up the scale towards 60. When they reach that point, the hands flit back to zero and instantaneously begin counting the next 60 seconds. At any point, when the rattrapante mechanism is activated, the rattrapante seconds hand (positioned on the left) stops, indicating first elapsed time. When deactivated, it swiftly catches up to the chronograph seconds hand no matter where it is. Elapsed minutes and hours can be read off the silver hands in the sub-dials at nine and three o’clock. Never mind the fact that this timepiece can only give you the time difference in terms of seconds because the fluid and graceful motion of the two retrograde hands sweeping up and down is reward enough for engaging the chronograph.

Unlike typical rattrapante chronographs, the two hands here never overlap, but rather, track individual paths on the dial

Unlike typical rattrapante chronographs, the two hands here never overlap, but rather, track individual paths on the dial

Because of the sheer heft of this timepiece, practically every component that went into its making had to be proportionately bigger than that of a wristwatch. This includes the hands, particularly, the retrograde chronograph hands and the minute hand. Because of their sheer length and fineness, the retrograde chronograph hands would be prone to wobbling and backlash whenever they’re moving and particularly when they retrograde or stop. The force of inertia acting on the farthest point of the hands – think the Road Runner when he abruptly stops running – causes them to be unstable at the pivoting point and does not meet the stringent watchmaking requirements at Vacheron Constantin. What the manufacture did to ameliorate the effect was to implement a deliberate and unique design so as to yield perfect stability and accuracy during operation.

Having successfully pulled off such extraordinary complications as the Hebraic calendar, the grande and petite sonnerie with personalised alarm, and the monopusher retrograde rattrapante chronograph, Vacheron Constantin could have called it a day, but it didn’t. So brace yourselves as we continue with part two of the Ref. 57260 tutorial.

Business & Leisure

The other calendar complications present in Ref. 57260 include the traditional Gregorian perpetual calendar, the formal business calendar also known as the ISO 8601 calendar, and the astronomical calendar complete with star chart, zodiac indications, the four seasons, as well as equinoxes and solstices. Date, day, month, and leap year are the key elements of the Gregorian perpetual calendar. Ref. 57260 presents the date in a retrograde indicator located at 12 o’clock with the leap year indication in a circular aperture to its right. The day and month displays have been set into the sub-dials at the nine and three o’clock postions respectively. Not to take away any merit, but as complex as it is, the traditional perpetual calendar is somehow still dwarfed by Ref. 57260’s plethora of high complications as well as unique technical achievements.

Finance executives, managers, and business owners would be familiar with at least one more calendar than the Gregorian: the ISO 8601 calendar, more commonly known as the business calendar. As a purely secular method of calculation, the business calendar operates without months, primarily focusing on day of the week and week of the year. It is often used in tandem with the Gregorian calendar for more practical reasons and is especially useful to professionals within the finance sector because it breaks down all 365 days of each year into a period of 52 weeks and seven days. Also, the business calendar has a full cycle of 400 years and the first day of the year is always a Monday. Ref. 57260 displays the week of the year in the sub-dial at three o’clock corresponding to a gold hand, while the day of the week in numerical form is displayed in the window above this sub-dial. Vacheron Constantin reveals that it is also possible to synchronise the business calendar with the Gregorian one.

The final calendar complication in Ref. 57260 is the astronomical calendar. While it does not have an especially practical application except to astronomers and astrologers, it does encourage one to fully contemplate the passage of time – and hence watchmaking – in a most poetic way. Offering the celestial sky chart and sidereal indications is a blue rotating disc at 12 o’clock that’s calibrated to the owner’s home city. Months are also displayed here, along with 12 red indices that indicate the last day of each month. Look around the circumference of the dial to obtain additional celestial information like month and day of the year in the outermost ring, zodiac sign period, and vernal and autumnal equinoxes, as well as summer and winter solstices in the middle ring, and the four seasons in the innermost ring. All of these are read off the long sweeping gold hand with a sun counterpoise.

The ISO 8601 calendar measures each year based on a set of 52 weeks and 7 days, with the days marked by numbers one to seven

The ISO 8601 calendar measures each year based on a set of 52 weeks and 7 days, with the days marked by numbers one to seven

Not just the stars but the sun also gets time of day in this watch, literally, because Ref. 57260 also provides the equation of time function – the equation of time being known as true solar time.

Measured in terms of the distance between the Sun and the Earth, true solar time can differ from civil time by as much as 16 minutes in a day. The elliptical orbit of the planets and Earth’s tilted axis also mean that the discrepancy can be faster or slower than civil time. When the equation of time hand points to zero, civil and solar time are the same. This complication is located just above the tourbillon, and is accompanied by indications for times of sunrise and sunset, as well as lengths of day and night.

Also displayed are larger notions of time including the months corresponding to zodiac and the four seasons

Also displayed are larger notions of time including the months corresponding to zodiac and the four seasons

Complex Notes

It appears that in spite of Ref. 57260’s fantastical offering of four calendar types, four striking complications, and an exceptionally complex chronograph, Vacheron Constantin remembered to be practical and so it included the second time zone function. Although it’s not like one would actually leave the house with this timepiece, much less travel with it, take it as yet another display of the manufacture’s immense watchmaking know-how because here’s a world time unlike any other.

A world time system that shows all 24 time zones simultaneously is clearly too much for the dial, so Vacheron Constantin only allows home city to be on display. Shown in hour and minute format, it also comes with a day/night indicator. Adjustment to the second time zone is done through the crown, which has a three-position stem linked to a window through the case next to the crown displaying “R” for rewind, “C” for celestial, and “M” for mise à l’heure (time setting).

This neat and concise world time complication is the first truly innovative display since Louis Cottier's design in the 1950s

This neat and concise world time complication is the first truly innovative display since Louis Cottier’s design in the 1950s

Of the 57 complications found in Ref. 57250, only the tourbillon was directly inspired by the historical roots of traditional watchmaking. More accurately, it is an armillary sphere tourbillon. Rotating on three axes, it is without doubt more accurate than a classical single-axis bridged tourbillon, and even more splendid to admire. Crafted out of featherweight aluminium, the carriage carries the shape of Vacheron Constantin’s insignia, the Maltese cross. Appearing once every 15 seconds due to the carriage’s rotations, its three dimensional form invites you to admire its polished and gently bevelled surfaces.

Vacheron Constantin explains that the choice of an armillary sphere tourbillon came from an historical four-sided clock supporting a mechanical astronomic armillary sphere ordered by King Louis XVI and made by legendary 18th century watchmaker Antide Janvier. Another historical watchmaking figure that inspired the Vacheron Constantin watchmaking team was Jacques Frédéric Houriet who was the inventor of the spherical spiral. Inside the carriage, the balance wheel, escapement, and spherical balance spring pulsate to a leisurely cadence of 18,000vph regarded by many connoisseurs as the perfect frequency with which to admire a tourbillon. This low frequency coupled with high inertia of the large balance wheel yields exceptional chronometry for the movement. According to the manufacture, time variance is only +/- one second per day.

Rotating on three axes, the tourbillon carriage forms the shape of Vacheron Constantin's insignia, the Maltese cross, once every 15 seconds

Rotating on three axes, the tourbillon carriage forms the shape of Vacheron Constantin’s insignia, the Maltese cross, once every 15 seconds

To power all 57 functions, Ref. 57260 cannot simply be based on any existing calibre because no movement that is capable of providing sufficient power exists. Even if there were one, Vacheron Constantin would still insist on building everything from scratch – that is only right for a timepiece made at the Ateliers de Cabinotiers. Designing the entire movement from ground up also made it possible for the watch to subsist only on a single mainspring apart from the one dedicated to the sonnerie. Imagine the huge amount of power required at 23.59 on New Year’s Eve when all the 13 or 14 indicators (15 if it’s a leap year) advance simultaneously. Without having owned the timepiece, it is hard for anyone to judge, but all doubts would be swiftly cast aside as soon as you realise that Ref. 57260 had received the approval of the Poinçon de Genève.

Easily taking the number one spot as the most historically significant timepiece made by Vacheron Constantin in the 21st century, Ref. 57260 took 10 years to materialise, but takes just moments to captivate the hearts of all haute horlogerie aficionados. A decade ago, the Tour de l’Île did the same and won an award. This year, Ref. 57260 shone the limelight on its makers, Micke Pintus, Yannick Pintus, and Jean-Luc Perrin. The three master watchmakers were awarded the Special Jury Prize at the 2015 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. What a spectacular finish to the grand anniversary festivities.

Take a closer look at the most complicated pocket watches ever made by Vacheron Constantin

The James Ward Packard

The James Ward Packard

  • The James Ward Packard

Commissioned by and made for the founder of the Packard Motor Company, James Ward Packard who was known widely for his passion for horology, this exceptional keyless pocket watch completed in 1919 was as luxurious as it was complicated. Cased in 20K yellow gold, as opposed to the more ubiquitous 18k variety, decorated with fine hand-chasing, and fitted with a rock crystal watch glass, which was notoriously difficult to polish and shape, the James Ward Packard pocket watch is the only known example of a grande and petite sonnerie striking clockwatch with trip quarter and half-quarter repeating and chronograph. It produces an additional strike on or after each elapsed 7.5 minutes following the full quarters. The pocket watch is also impressively precise as it uses a non-magnetic Guillaume balance, which has a near-zero thermal coefficient, and two spring barrels, one for the going train and another for the strike train.

The Count Guy de Boisrouvray

The Count Guy de Boisrouvray

  • The Count Guy de Boisrouvray

This 18K gold hunter’s case timepiece includes the carillon minute repeater with three hammers on three gongs, perpetual calendar with leap year indication, moon phases, split-seconds chronograph, register, and alarm. Sold to the Count in 1948, it was one of the few grand complication pocket watches of the 20th century that included an alarm function. Like the James Ward Packard, this timepiece is known for its high precision in spite of the numerous complications. It was also made with a Guillaume balance and features a unique regulation system for precision setting. Gold and platinum screws in the balance protect the movement further from temperature fluctuations. Its set of three gongs and hammers produce a cascading triple note when the striking mechanism is in play.

The King Fouad

The King Fouad

The King Fouad

This pocket watch was a gift to the king in 1929 by the Swiss expatriate community in Egypt. The story goes that in 1927, president of the Cairo Joint Tribunal, Francis Peter, who was a Swiss citizen, approached Vacheron Constantin for a suitable gift to the King. At that time, the watch was not yet complete, even though the manufacture had started to work on it in 1914, with the ambition to make it the most complicated Vacheron Constantin watch ever. Two years later, Peter presented the finished product to King Fouad I. Made over a period of more than 10 years, this watch included a carillon trip minute repeater with grande and petite sonnerie striking on three hammers, split-seconds chronograph, digital format perpetual calendar, and phases and age of the moon. 
The day and month indications were initially in English, but had been changed to French upon the King’s request.

The King Farouk

The King Farouk

The King Farouk

The King Farouk pocket watch is Vacheron Constantin’s most complicated creation of the 20th century. Presented to a young King Farouk on his 15th birthday, the slew of functions packed in this timepiece includes a carillon minute repeater with grande and petite sonnerie striking on three gongs, split-seconds chronograph with 30-minute register, perpetual calendar with phases and age of the moon, alarm, and two power reserve indications, one for the going train and another for the strike train. Apart from the Count Guy de Boisrouvray, there is no other Vacheron Constantin complicated pocket watches made in the 20th century that comes with an alarm function. The King Farouk has a staggering presence, measuring 80mm across – now that’s what we call king sized.

Story Credits

Text by Celine Yap

This article was originally published on World of Watches

Here Come The Goats

The Chinese Zodiac is a rich source of inspiration for art, given its cyclical nature and varied subjects, from the magnificent dragon to the more worldly pig. Come 19 February, Chinese around the world will welcome the Year of the Goat. Or Sheep. Or Ram. Curiously enough, a distinction was never made on the specific animal which occupies this sector of the zodiacal calendar which, as you can see below, has allowed much room for watchmakers’ interpretations.Here Come The GoatsJaquet Droz is offering two references dedicated to the goat this year. Based on its eponymous collection, the Petite Heure Minute Relief Goats comes in either a white or red gold case, and is rife with symbolism. Note, for example, the three goats which have been hard carved in relief from either red or white gold. Beyond their allusions to the Year of the Goat, their depiction on a mountain top also symbolises achievement, and the hope for success in the year ahead. The dial also contains stylised plum blossoms done in champlevé enamel. As one of the four “noble flowers” in Chinese iconography, plum blossoms flower in the winter and are seen as a herald of spring. Each reference of the Petite Heure Minute Relief Goats will come in a limited run of 28 pieces.Pam00848 PressPanerai’s Luminor 1950 Sealand 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 44mm is the seventh in the series to pay tribute to an animal of the Chinese Zodiac, beginning with the Year of the Ox in 2009. PAM848 has a decorated steel cover – a special tool called the sparsello is first used to engrave grooves into the cover, before multiple layers of gold thread are inlaid into these grooves and pounded to fill them up. Each representation of the goat is thus unique, since the process is done entirely by hand. The PAM848 contains Panerai’s in-house P.9000 calibre, fitted into the Luminor 1950 case which is 44mm wide. This boutique exclusive is limited to 100 pieces worldwide.Pam00848 Detail 3Piaget’s Art & Excellence collection is dedicated to special pieces commemorating the Chinese New Year. Like the models before it, the Altiplano Enamelled Cloisonné Goat has a dial featuring cloisonné enamel in muted tones that fully flaunt the artist’s mastery of the medium. The enameller, Anita Porchet, has used the cloisonné technique to great effect here – note the sharp demarcation between the shadowed outline of the goat and the light shades of the sky; the two shades of vitreous enamel would have mixed during firing if the gold wires weren’t present to separate them. The watch houses Piaget’s 430P ultra-thin movement, and has an 18K white gold case set with 78 brilliant-cut diamonds totalling approximately 0.7 carats. It is sold exclusively in Piaget boutiques, and has a limited run of 38 pieces. A separate reference in pink gold is also limited to 38 pieces.G0a39540Ulysse Nardin’s acquisition of dial enamelling specialist Donzé Cadrans in 2011 signalled the brand’s desire to vertically integrate this branch of metier d’art into its operations. A quick glance through the manufacture’s Classico collection will reveal just how well this decision has turned out. The latest from Ulysse Nardin, the Classico Goat, depicts a goat with two kids with champlevé enamelling. The UN-815 movement within it is COSC certified, and the watch is limited to 88 pieces.8156 111 2 ChevreVacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac collection has been updated with the Year of the Goat model. The boutique exclusive comes in either pink gold or platinum, with 12 pieces in each reference. The watch uses champlevé enamelling to create a background of leaves and honeysuckles, upon which a goat engraved in relief has been set. The timepiece has no hands. Instead, four digital displays allows its wearer to read off the time, day, and date. This timepiece is certified Poinçon de Genève. 

86073 000r 9889 86073 000p 9890 Tr 720635

Vacheron Constantin year of the goat watches

Vacheron Constantin celebrates the year of the goat

Vacheron Constantin year of the goat watches

Once again  is celebrating the Chinese Zodiac with its 12-year cycle of animals.

This year it’s the turn of the noble goat (with a creative and charming nature), which is set to take over from the horse on February 19, 2015.

The company has handcrafted two sets of limited edition timepieces (there are just 12 of each), which come in a choice of platinum or rose gold (with dark blue or dark brown alligator straps respectively).

Vacheron Constantin year of the goat blue

The design features a leaf motif inspired by classical Chinese iconography, which is etched directly in the metal dial.

This is topped with an engraved goat, which sits on top of the watch face and behind the sapphire crystal case.

The Calibre 2460 G4 mechanical, self-winding movement is equipped with a 22-carat gold oscillating weight, and has a 40 hour power reserve.

Vacheron Constantin The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac 2015

The watch is part of a wider trend for European luxury companies to create special pieces celebrating the Chinese zodiac.

Vacheron Constantin: A New Boutique and an Accompanying Exhibition

Vacheron Constantin has opened its second boutique in Singapore at ION Orchard, to complement its current one at The Shoppes at MBS. Julien Tornare, managing director of Vacheron Constantin Asia Pacific, opined that the additional boutique will strengthen the manufacture’s position within the market, and offer “an exceptional experience and the highest level of service” for its clients. This boutique features over 2000 square feet of floor space, with luxurious furnishings and details such as custom made Murano glass chandeliers and marble flooring from Italy.

More importantly, all timepieces from the manufacture are available for purchase from the new boutique, including limited editions and vintage timepieces. The latter, better known as Vacheron Constantin Collectionneurs, consists of vintage watches that the manufacture has fully restored, serviced, and certified authentic. Collectionneurs timepieces can be viewed in the Heritage Room, a VIP area within the boutique. Visitors to the boutique will also be able to view novelties such as the new Platinum Traditionnelle timepieces.

To offer better after-sales service, Vacheron Constantin has also installed an in-house watchmaker at the ION Orchard boutique. The manufacture aims to both reduce waiting times, and to allow clients to interact with a watchmaker responsible for their timepieces’ servicing.

To match the new ION Orchard boutique’s soft opening, Vacheron Constantin is presenting The Sound of Time exhibition, which will run from 8 to 16 November at Level 1 of the ION Atrium. The exhibition was originally presented at Watches & Wonders 2013, before being unveiled to the international press at SIHH earlier this year. As its name suggests, the manufacture is showcasing some of its striking watches from the Ref. 10302 made in 1812, all the way to the modern Patrimony Ultra-Thin Calibre 1731, currently the thinnest minute repeater movement housed in the slimmest manual-winding minute repeater watch. Vacheron Constantin has also released an app (for both iPhone and Android users) to partner the exhibition. The app can be downloaded here (please scroll down halfway to the link on the page).

Meanwhile, here are some of the timepieces that will be on display at the exhibition:

Vacheron Constantin A New Boutique And An Accompanying Exhibition 2

Ref 10302: Quarter repeater pocket watch from 1812, 18K pink gold guilloché case with enamel dial. Vacheron Constantin A New Boutique And An Accompanying Exhibition 3

Ref 11381: Minute repeater wristwatch with date and moon phase complications, from 1957Vacheron Constantin A New Boutique And An Accompanying Exhibition 4

Ref 11497: Minute repeater wristwatch from 1994, with sapphire dial and hand decorated and engraved movement

Vacheron Constantin boutique in Sao Paulo

Vacheron Constantin open first Latin American store

Vacheron Constantin boutique in Sao Paulo

The oldest Swiss watch brand, Vacheron Constantin, founded in Geneva in 1755, has a new South American outpost, with its 47th store worldwide located at the Shopping Cidade Jardim in Sao Paulo.

Vacheron Constantin store Sao Paulo

The brand chose Brazil, which earlier this year hosted the World Cup, and will welcome the Olympics in 2016, for its first location in Latin America.

Vacheron Constantin store in Sao Paulo

 has actually been present in Brazil for nearly 180 years, having established its first commercial presence in the country in 1835, but it has just now opened its debut standalone boutique.

Vacheron Constantin luxury store Sao Paulo

The 113 square meter space which opened last week in the country’s economic capital, features wood, bronze and leather design touches.

Vacheron Constantin boutique Sao Paulo

The store will sell the company’s collections, with an on-site watchmaker for all repairs.

Vacheron Constantin: Pre-Watches & Wonders Preview

With just seven days to go before Watches & Wonders takes place in Hong Kong, various brands have begun previewing their agendas for the fair to whet visitors’ appetites. Vacheron Constantin is no exception, having unveiled two new watches that will be added to its Collection Excellence Platine.

For the uninitiated, Collection Excellence Platine is a special collection of watches previously made by Vacheron Constantin from other collections, but re-released entirely in platinum. This collection was first introduced in 2006, and acts as a “Hall of Fame” of sorts for the manufacture’s exceptional creations. Like their elder siblings, the two new models to be admitted into this collection will have cases, crowns and even dials of 950 platinum. The usage of the metal extends right down to their straps: even the thread used to stitch them are a combination of silk and platinum!

Vacheron Constantin’s focus this time is on useful complications, with a related goal of beefing up its ‘medium complications’ product segment. Unsurprisingly, both timepieces hail from the Traditionnelle collection.Vacheron Constantin Pre Watches Wonders Preview 2The Traditionnelle Day-Date and Power Reserve is the first of the series and, as its name implies, presents its namesake astronomical and power reserve information on its dial in addition to telling the time. Within the 39.5mm platinum case, the day and date information are presented on separate sub-dials at nine and three o’clock respectively, while the power reserve counter occupies the sector at six o’clock. These auxiliary indicators have blued steel hands, while the sweeping hour, minute, and second hands are done in platinum, effectively separating the watch’s primary and secondary functions. The timepiece is driven by Vacheron Constantin’s Calibre 2475SC movement, which is self-winding with a 40 hour power reserve and certified Poinçon de Genève.Vacheron Constantin Pre Watches Wonders Preview 3Next up is the Traditionnelle World Time, aimed at the frequent traveller. This worldtimer tracks all 37 time zones around the world, from the main ones to those offset by 30 minutes (Adelaide: UTC+09:30) and 45 minutes (Nepal: UTC+05:45). Apart from the time in cities around the world, the Traditionnelle World Time also has a shaded sapphire crystal on the dial that rotates to display at a glance the cities experiencing day/night. To top it off, the entire setup with all its indicators are adjusted via the lone crown on the case’s right side – no pushers or hidden adjusters are necessary. The completeness of the worldtimer function, coupled with the ease of operation via a single crown, made the timepiece exceptionally well received, which explains its reintroduction here.

Historically, timepieces from Collection Excellence Platine are released in limited runs never exceeding 150 pieces. Both the Traditionnelle Day-Date and Power Reserve and the Traditionnelle World Time are no exceptions, and are limited to 100 individually numbered pieces each.

Besides these two watches, Vacheron Constantin has also promised a special exhibition at the fair. Patrimony: The Essence of Pureness will be held within the manufacture’s salon at Watches & Wonders, and features four areas ordered both chronologically and thematically. The exhibition will chart the Patrimony collection’s evolution from the 1950s to the present. 

Jewellery Time 2014: Updates!

As we inch closer towards Jewellery Time 2014, Cortina Watch has revealed more details about the biennial luxury watch showcase. For the readers who might have forgotten, the seventh edition of Jewellery Time will take place from 25 September to 5 October, 11am to 9pm daily at the main atrium of Paragon in Singapore.Jewellery Time 2014 Updates 3

Beyond our initial report which previewed some of the timepieces that will be on display, we now also know that the event will be housed within the purpose-built Collector’s Mansion. Said mansion has been designed in a style reminiscent of the Renaissance, while its white mesh structure juxtaposes modernity with old-world charms. Within the mansion, the contrast continues as contemporary furnishings meet Art Deco elements, topped off by chandeliers hanging from its ceiling.

Jewellery Time 2014 Updates 7

Setting aside, other details have also emerged. The showcase, which is open to the public, will feature over a hundred jewelled timepieces curated by the twelve participating brands: Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Bulgari, Cartier, Chopard, Corum, Ebel, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Omega, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin and Zenith. Taiwanese model-actress Sonia Sui has also been revealed as the face of Jewellery Time 2014. Sui has over a decade of experience in the modelling, film and television industry, and will be in attendance at Jewellery Time 2014’s official opening party on 25 September.Jewellery Time 2014 Updates 1

To celebrate the occasion, Chopard has created the Imperiale Automatic Full Set, a pair of watches combining haute joaillerie and haute horlogerie. Conceptualised and designed as a unique set, the timepieces are entirely paved with diamonds save for the bezel, which has been set with multi-coloured baguette cut sapphires. The beating hearts of the watches are Calibre 01.03-Cs that run at 28,800 vibrations per hour and feature 60-hour power reserves. These movements are in-house developed and manufactured by Fleurier Ebauches, a company under the Chopard group that was founded to reinforce the brand’s vertical integration in watch production. The watches come in one unique piece of white and pink gold each, and will be delivered in a special box bearing an engraved plaque with “Cortina Watch” celebrating the occasion.

Vacheron Constantin: Travels & Adornments Exhibition

Art, history and horology have come together in Vacheron Constantin’s Travels & Adornments exhibition, held in Maison Vacheron Constantin on the Quai de l’Ile in Geneva. The exhibition centres on decorations and ornamentations in horology, and showcases some 47 timepieces that were chosen from amongst the 1200 in the manufacture’s private collection. Various decorative techniques will be featured, including enamelling, engraving, guilloché and gemsetting. Also featured are some techniques that are perhaps less familiar to visitors, like glyptic art, which involves carving on a gem.

The timepieces on display have been organised around four different themes to illustrate several major artistic movements – the East, Greece, Europe and openworking. Exhibits from the East include a champlevé enamel pocket watch from India, dating back to 1831, and an 1824 pocket watch of Ottoman origins. The Greece section of the exhibition displays watches such as one with a reproduction of Hermes on his chariot in enamel, rimmed with a Hellenistic frieze. For Europe, the focus shifts to the Art Deco movement and its obsession with geometry, baguette-cut stones and two-tone colourings. The last portion of the exhibition, openworking, displays various skeleton watches by the manufacture.

You have until the end of October 2014 to get a rare look at cultural influences on watches’ exterior forms. Access to the exhibition is by appointment only, with details as follows:

Maison Vacheron Constantin, 7 Quai de l’Ile, 1204 Geneva
Tel: 022 930 20 05

Here is a preview of some of the pieces on display:

Vacheron Constantin Travels Adornments Exhibition

Pocket watch in yellow gold with champlevé enamelled case and guilloché dial (Asia). Vacheron Constantin Travels Adornments Exhibition 1

Pocket watch in yellow gold with jade case decorated with glyptic intaglio engraving and rose-cut diamonds (Asia). Vacheron Constantin Travels Adornments Exhibition 51921 pocket watch in yellow gold and enamel, with silvered dial (Europe).Vacheron Constantin Travels Adornments Exhibition 21939 lady’s wristwatch, in pink gold set with baguette-cut and square-cut rubies with double cord strap (Europe).Vacheron Constantin Travels Adornments Exhibition 4Pocket watch in white gold with german silver skeleton movement.

Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Hommage à l’Art de la Danse

Vacheron Constantin sponsored New York City Ballet’s 2014 Spring Gala for a second year on 8 May. The event celebrated the 50th anniversary of the opening of the David H. Koch Theater and the company’s residence at Lincoln Centre. Guests included actress Kristin Bell and singer Alicia Keys, and began with a private reception hosted by Vacheron Constantin followed by a series of performances and finally a candlelight dinner and dance on the Koch Theater’s Promenade.

Vacheron Constantin Hommage De La Danse 2

In celebration of the evening, Vacheron Constantin showcased three one-off additions to its Métiers d’Art Hommage à l’Art de la Danse collection, each drawing inspiration from a work by French artist Edgar Degas, who captured ballerinas in different mediums including painting and photography. The timepieces capture the various stages of a ballerina’s life, from dance school to the backstage of a dress rehearsal to the moment of the performance itself. The watches’ dials are finished with Grand Feu grisaille enamel painting, on a translucent brown enamel base instead of the traditional black, in order to soften the images while accentuating their depth. The enameller’s skill is clearly evident here – notice the folds in the ballerinas’ tutus and the transparencies of the various fabrics being depicted, all from just the interplay between the brown enamel base and the Limoges white enamel applied on it.

Vacheron Constantin Hommage De La Danse 3

Housed in a white gold case 40mm across, the watches are driven by Vacheron Constantin’s in-house, self-winding Calibre 2460 movement. Each watch bears the Hallmark of Geneva, and comes with a magnifying glass and a brochure detailing the skills and techniques involved in its creation.

Vacheron Constantin Malte Tourbillon Openworked: Ladies Beware

The Malte Tourbillon Openworked represents yet another chapter – though not the final word – in the openwork saga for Vacheron Constantin in 2014. In this particular shape – with a shaped manual winding movement of course – the architectural nods to the 19th century are particularly evident. For those who may not remember, the Malte watches are tonneau-shaped, with some models equipped with tonneau-shaped mechanical movements. While this Malte is a tourbillon watch, like the Patrimony model, the style of openworking offers a very different perspective. Here too the watchmaking artisans have employed a new technique to sculpt the movement, calibre 2790 SQ.

Vacheron Constantin Malte Tourbillon Openworked

Just like calibre 2260 SQP, 2790 SQ displays Vacheron Constantin’s commitment to showcasing how the openworking is actually the result of skilled human hands. The curved openings and narrow angles apparently cannot be reproduced by machines, as other manufactures have also been keen to emphasize. In the case of calibre 2790 SQ in particular, these human hands have created a mosaic of tiny triangles made up of recurring straight lines. From the drawing board to the final watch, the calibre alone took more than 500 hours of work. Cased in platinum 950, the 42mm watch also features some interesting dial executions, including an engraved and inked sapphire crystal ($367,000).

There is insufficient space to cover the seriously impressive openworking here, but we shall simply say the Métiers D’Art Fabuleux Ornements is a feminine offering. That a watchmaker of Vacheron Constantin’s standing is applying the art of openworking to a collection of watches for ladies is highly commendable. Perhaps we shall give this collection its due in a later issue.

 Vacheron Constantin Malte Tourbillon Openworked