Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Investing In Luxury Watches.

Blancpain 2188F-3618-53 Leman Ivory Dial Leather Alligator Men's Automatic Troubillon Chronograph Flyback Watch

Collectible Luxury Watches from highly reputable watch manufacturers like Blancpain, Vacheron Constantin and Pateck Phillipe, are being regarded by collectors as a worthy investment. Due to the recession, the luxury watch market has been effected significantly. Swiss Luxury Watch Exports fell by 25% since February, especially for high end watches crafted from gold and platinum. Many companies have had to downsize their production. However, collectible watches play by a whole different set of rules, and this the collectible luxury watch market have more or less remained unchanged. New investors rethink their investment strategy's, after being hurt by the stock market, rushed to invest in a collectible luxury watches. Auction houses such as Antiquorium, Sothebys and Christies brought in 90 million francs with the auctioning off of luxury collectible timepieces.

The return on your investment, when it comes to collectible luxury watches, is by no means immediate ,like many solid investments one has to be in it for the long term. A collectible luxury watch, especially limited edition, increases in value as time goes on.
Many watch companies such as Vacheron Constantin, Corum, Audemars Piuget, Tag Heuer create collectibles by producing limited edition watches; linking watches to famous movie or sport stars; sponsoring companies, movies or sporting events; becoming official timekeepers.

If you are interested in purchasing a "collectible" timepiece there are a few things to keep in mind:
  • Make sure you purchase your timepiece from a reputable seller. Private sales need to be thoroughly researched including any papers regarding the timepiece.
  • Authenticity must be established.
  • Research the watches and watch companies. To become a collector requires some knowledge of watch companies and the watch industry.
  • Antique masterpieces; especially those with multiple complications such as tourbillons, sonneries, minute repeaters, moon phases and perpetual calenders can up the value of the timepiece significantly.
  • Watches belonging to historical people are also of great value, even in less than perfect condition.
Finally, investing in a collectible luxury watch provides one with the knowledge that they possess a slice of history, the mark of perfection and an instrument that tracks time, but is unaffected by it.
To read more regarding this topic check out this enlightening article from CNBC

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The New Omega Constellation Collection Gets a Starry Welcome.

The Omega Constellation Collection has been around for a while, but now Omega has given the collection a makeover with some starry help. Nicole Kidman, an Omega ambassador for the Constellation line, attended the Omega Constellation Timepiece event at the Omega Flagship Boutique in New York City, where she met with OMEGA CEO Stephen Urquhart. She donated her Omega Constellation to the "Ambassador Collection Series" of Autographed Watches.

Cindy Crawford, an Omega spokesperson since 1995, and a long time promoter of the Omega Constellation was in London with the OMEGA president Stephen Urquhart, to promote the new Constellation Collection. She visited the OMEGA Boutique at London Westfield, and autographed a box containing a new Constellation watch. The box and its contents were placed in a transparent safe which was locked and placed on display.

Later that evening, Stephen Urquhart and Cindy Crawford hosted an exclusive VIP party at The Almada, a member’s-only club in London’s Mayfair district, to celebrate the new Constellation line. Olympic Gold Medalists shared company with renowned actors and popular singers. The evening was accompanied by a tinge of excitement when it became known that the Constellation ,locked in a safe at the Westfield OMEGA Boutique, would soon be the property of one lucky guest. Guests were given a key in an Omega Constellation Pouch as they left the party. Only one key opened the safe autographed by Cindy Crawford.

The Constellation Timepiece is a stylishly elegant women's timepiece. The new collection has added a lot of dazzle and intense color. Diamonds glitter on the bezel which bares the signature Constellation claws. Diamonds mark the hours amidst a delicate falling satin pattern on the dial. The purple timepiece depicted here lusciously appeals to all senses; it seems to smell of violets; sound like the wind breezing through a chandelier; taste like moist grapes and feel like the brush of silk curtains on bare skin.

The watch is also available in pristine white. The price is still shrouded in mystery as are the constellations of the universe.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Sonnerie by Gerald Genta

The Gerald Genta Arena Metasonic Watch encompasses a complication rarely accomplished by even the most revered watch makers - the sonnerie. In addition Gerald Genta has incorporated a number of musical complications which heightens the level of complexity.

The Sonnerie is likened to a minute repeater; however, a minute repeater is set to chimes at the will of the wearer, on the other hand a Sonnerie (or sometimes known as a clockwatch) chime automatically. "Sonnerie" is French for "making sound" or "ring". The Sonnerie is like a tower clock which chimes on the hour (petit sonnerie) or quarter hour (grande sonnerie).

Both movements are extremely complex to create, and incorporate a large number of intricate parts. In the early nineties Gerald Genta created its first Sonnerie. The Arena Metasonic has utilized metallurgy to enhance the sounds emitted during chiming. The 46mm wide case is specially designed to carry the sounds. This timepiece is manually wound to power the extremely complex movement which includes a tourbillon escapement, and sonnerie. The face of the watch resembles a clock suspended on a building chiming the time to all the residents on the streets below. The hammers are visible on the lower left hand side.

The watches which will be available in limited edition, will arrive in a box worthy of mention. A light will illuminate the watch in the box, but to get at it you will have to place your hand on a bimometric reader. A wonderful playful edition.

Sonnerie's are quite rare compared with the prolific market of repeaters and minute repeaters. The Sonnerie requires a continuous power supply by the mainspring as it chimes automatically on the hour. The Repeaters are powered by a repeater slide and a spring mechanism, the Sonnerie requires a single strike train. In the past the watchclocks that striked at the hours and quarter required separate strike trains for each (the hour strike train and the quarter), the end-product being a "triple train: clockwatch with three mainsprings.Although these watches are quite rare, albeit rather pricey, they can be quite annoying striking on the quarter of an hour. However the watches are equipped with a rather clever "strike-silent, or Silence mode. Choosing to use the sonnerie complications means sliding the slide bolt on the case. The watch enters the sonnerie mode and chimes, clear and delicate, at the next hour or quarter. Some clockwatches are crafted with a repeater as well. The repetition function is powered by the second mainspring, and usually is operated by a button rather than the slide. The only setback in this case would be the use of the repeater will deplete the power reserve required by the sonnerie.
Gerald Genta timepieces are available at The Watchery for a whopping 75% off the List Prices

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

When You Just Gotto Watch!

Check this out! A Video Watch with an impressive 8GB of internal flash memory and a full color 1.8" screen. This Watch/Video/Million other features is crafted from stainless steel. High pixel count and frames per second make viewing a joy. With a built-in voice recorder, built-in high quality speaker and earphone jack, the ability to view JPEG pictures and listen to music at the same time, etc. I wouldn't wear it to a business meeting, it may seem a little loud... but I think I could put this thing to good use.

This one has an OLED screen, and it is slightly more reserved. Sigh! Modern Technology sure is something turning a watch into a your very own cinema.

How far we have come from the times where moving black and white films were only available in vast ornate movie theatres. Where the thrill of the crowd was palpable as dramatic scenes lit up the wonder struck upturned faces.

Gizmos and Gadgets are being produced at a furious pace, and I must admit their is a definite Wow factor to them, not in reverence to the way they have been crafted, but merely as a gadget to fasten the pace of life.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Omega's Seamaster Planet Ocean Liquidmetal®

From being the only watch brand on the moon to the Official Timekeeper of the Olympic games, Omega is renowned for being a watch brand built to withstand tough and rough conditions. Now Omega has unveiled a watch fusing two of the most resilient materials: ceramic and Liquidmetal®.

Liquidmetal® alloys are a revolutionary material, twice the strength of titanium and as workable as plastic. This material can be specifically crafted to suit the need of a multitude of day to day items replacing much weaker and more expensive materials.

Liquidmetal® provides a high yield strength; extreme hardness; superior strength/weight ratio; high elastic limit, high corrosion resistance & high wear resistance.

To create a watch comprising of ceramics and Liquidmetal®, Swatch Group researchers collaborated with Omega's product development team. The result is incredible: silvery Liquidmetal® alloy numbers and scaling shimmer against the coal black of the ceramic diving bezel and dial. The bracelet and case are stainless steel. The watch is powered by Omega's Co-axial calibre 2500, a movement which has successfully undergone a battery of rigorous chronometric testing.
The Seamaster Planet Ocean Liquidmetal® is available in a limited edition of 1948 pieces, the year Omega launched the Seamaster line.

Undeniably Omega is at the top of its game, recently The International Committee IOC and The Swatch Group Ltd. signed a long term partnership in regard to timing, scoring and venue results services for the Olympic games. Omega and the Olympic games have had a long standing relationship since 1932 with no end in sight. The Swatch Group Ltd will be the Official Timekeeper and Results Service Partner for the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi in 2014, The Olympiad in 2016, Olympic Winter Games 2018 and the Olympiad Games in 2020.Timekeeper and Results.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

DOW Skips to the 10,000 Mark for the First Time Since 10/03/08

What does this mean for the luxury market? The market is showing a definite improvement, which means a whole lot of people on Wall Street are doing better than around March of this year, when the Dow sunk into the mid 6000's. I am not an economist's, far from it, but I am a hopeless optimist sprinkled with a good dose of realism.

My feeling is those fellows on Wall Street and all the millions of businesses and families effected by its rise and fall, are suffering from spending deprivation. The sale of luxury items have fallen dramatically, but at the expense of the psyche of the unspendor. That much needed regular yearly trip to the Bahamas- cancelled; the Holiday office party- scrapped; large birthday bash- a tiny muted affair around a pool table; slightly over the top birthday present for a loved one- ungiven but not forgotten. All those things cancelled, and what is left is a slightly depressed, slightly wrinkled unhappy individual. Now there is a glimmer on the horizon - hope, and with hope comes a hesitant feeling of elation.

Stock portfolio's begin to unsag, and the tired person slowly shakes off the ashes of despair and awakens.

That Bahama vacation so terribly needed becomes a reality, and that shamefully belated gift for that someone special is within reach.

And it is on this vein I may add that a luxury watch is the perfect gift to give. A luxury watch provides a longevity that surpasses most other gifts. Electronics become so yesterday within the blink of eye; clothes - risky; jewelry- real pretty, but so much more with the function of a luxury watch.

It will take some time before the economy rights itself, and thus when you feel the desperate need to splurge just a little, splurge on a luxury watch.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

20,000 Feet Under the Sea

Its finally here, the worlds most resilient watch, The 20,000 Feet by CX Military Watch, tantalizing watch enthusiasts since Baselworld. You now can schedule your deep sea dive with a highly competent watch around your wrist, as this truly amazing mechanical timepiece can survive ocean depths of up to 20,000 feet.

Only thing is 20,000 Feet is a long way off from the exploration of man, where pressure at this depth is 5 tons on one inch. The deepest dive was performed in 2005 by French diver Pascal Bernabé who dove into the Guiness Book of Records at 1,083 feet. (Deep dives are no longer recognized by the Guiness Book of Records as a result of Health and Safety concerns.) I am sure those weird little fishes swimming near ocean trenches may like a mechanical companion.

However, this timepiece is as tough as nails, and if diving is not your thing, "The 20,000 Feet" can endure a whole lot above sea level. This watch survived being shot at; being submerged by an airport fire engine (of all things); driven over by a truck and being exposed to 100 grams of explosives with a detonation velocity of 5,000 meters per second -enough to destroy a two ton vehicle.

This latter experiment was particularly interesting. Gamsit (the powerful explosive) was placed in a quarry. Two watches were placed on either side at 10cm from the explosive. One watch was "The 20,000 Feet" Watch, and the other a sturdy enough watch of another brand. With cameras in place; the fuse was lit and 120 seconds later, the explosion was heard. After the explosion, the men on the scene rushed forward and find unbelievably "The 20,000 feet was in full working conditions and suffered only minor scratches on its side; the other watch was completely destroyed and only a piece of the buckle and a bit of bracelet was salvaged.

The CX Military Watch has been recognized by the Guiness Book of Records for the timepiece with the deepest water resistance, but the tests for this watch has just begun.

The chronograph timepiece was subjected to three Real Life Tests:
1)Fired at by a Winchester rifle from a distance of just eight metres2) Placed on an explosive charge blasting at a speed of 5,000 metres/second3) Submerged by water spurting at 6,000 litres/minute.

The 20,000 Feet passed with flying colors, but its ultimate test is still undecided. At Basel World 2009, journalists and readers were asked to come up with their own real life tests for this indestructible timepiece. All ideas, no matter how ludicrous shall be considered. I wonder if it will last in a classroom full of three year olds or used as an ice hockey puck in a particularly rowdy ice hockey game. Anyway the ultimate test shall be performed at the end of 2009, so keep your eyes open and possibly your hands clamped tightly over your ears.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Richard Mille and Its Ceramic Ball Bearings.

Yesterday, I wrote about Richard Mille's new diving watches, and suddenly I realized I have never actually given quite enough attention to the wondrous, technological watch designs and functions masterminded by Richard Mille, in particular RM 016 and its ceramic ball bearings.

Richard Mille is a perfect example of futuristic movements. His watches are so ... mechanical. He is a watch manufacturer of the new millennium. After several years of intense technical design development, he presented his RM-001-1 privately. Very soon his watches were synonymous with extreme cutting edge and high tech concepts. The technological concepts and materials of the RM-001-1 tourbillon and its many high tech successors were inspired by the Formula 1 racing car. In the first model Richard Mille had a no nonsense, no superfluous frills ideal of a Timepiece. Richard Mille is passionate about Formula 1 and the tremendous technological power that drives it, he extended that power and passion to his watches. Whether watch or Formula 1 car, both are a symbiotic workings of high performance parts which must fulfill their function with a large margin of security and resistance to shocks and stress. So that in both cases perfection is reached thus ensuring the optimum performance results even under duress. Each and every part is individually developed and no standard parts will be found in a Richard Mille high performance time-piece.
Richard Mille has developed its own unique approach to watch-making thereby increasing its strength in the highly competitive watch-making industry. Many watch manufacturers order standard parts from mass suppliers to build a watch and many reinvent old watch concepts from previous models. Richard Mille is a young company and thus has completely fresh ideas, in addition no parts come standard and every part down to the last screw is designed with precise dimensions. Each piece has an individual requirement which will be crafted to the minutest detail. Richard Mille requires of its watchmakers many years of specialized watchmaking experience, materials are chosen with care.
The drive to create the image of perfection is displayed with incredible clarity in every Richard Mille Watch.
The watch above is one of Richard Mille's latest: The RM 016. It has the same movement as the RM 010, with a baseplate, bridges and balance cock of PVD-coated titanium. This watch has an astounding 55 hours of power reserve and its rotor is fitted with ceramic rotor ball bearings.

This is the back of the RM 007, those strange round things are actually 100 microballs of gold. These microballs are placed in a rotor weight fitted on a red-gold rotor. The balls allow for better shock absorption and more efficient winding, and it provides an interesting topic of conversation.
The RM007 is available from simple elegant precious metals, to completely covered in diamonds or diamonds and other precious gems in various colors and designs.
This is the RM012 Tourbillon with its unique tubular baseplate and bridge construction for a watch made with Phinox - chosen for its resistance to corrosion and fatigue as well as thermal and mechanical shocks. It has a power reserve of 48 hours, variable inertia balance with overcoil, platinum adjustment screws with blue movement jewels. It is the first watch crafted with going train wheels made of Anticorodal aluminum.
Richard Mille has many firsts in the watchmaking industry which just goes to show his incredible ability to blend old-world watchmaking traditions with futuristic materials and high-end technology for performance watches.

By R. Van Halem

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

An In Depth Look at Richard Mille

RM 028

Richard Mille went to great depths to bring us the latest Diver's Watch, the RM 028 (as seen above.) But wait a minute, this watch is round, a far cry from Richard Mille's signature elongated watch cases, as round as a submarine's porthole. Round, round, round,round! However, the roundness of the watch is by no means to enter the realms of ordinary, but to increase the watches integrity as a diver's watch; to maximise the water resistancy of up to 300 meters. Any other shape may jeopardize the efficiency of the water resistance.

Richard Mille unveiled its first diver's watch, the RM 025 Tourbillon Chronograph, back in January 2009. I am not sure what good a tourbillon may do under water, but it makes for a nice additional complication. The RM 025 is something to behold at 50.7mm in diameter and comprised of a clever composite of 18ct red or white gold and titanium case with luminous markers for exploring underground watery caves (if you wish). The complex inner workings are clearly visible, including all the screws, which, in itself, is an incredible technological breakthrough based on its 300 meter water resistancy. The chronograph has a column wheel of titanium, and the entire movement is based on the RM 008 carbon nanofibre calibre.

The new RM 028 is slightly smaller with a diameter of 47mm and boasts a skeletonized automatic movement utilizing a rotor. As always Richard Mille adds a unique touch to its watches. In the RM028 the level of automatic winding can be adjusted, via the setting of two 18ct white gold wings, to the users preference based on his habits. Richard Mille has created a new depth in diving watches. It is always a pleasurable surprise to see what Richard Mille comes up with next.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Mind Bending Cabestan Winch Tourbillon Vertical

Perception of a time piece of this nature pulls one from the realms of common timekeeping. This grand specimen is nothing short of absolute mechanical brilliance. Jean-Francois Ruchonnet, a unique watch engineer, reinvented timekeeping creating vertical movement driven by a fusee and chain. The chain looks very much like that on a bicycle, but Mr. Ruchonnet drew his inspiration from a yacht. A yacht which incorporates a vertical winch system, moved by a crank. The force produced from the winch system is such that it has the power to hoist and adjust a sail or to raise the anchor.

The Cabestan Winch Tourbillon Vertical began as an idea which became reality back in 2007 thanks to Jean-Francois Ruchonnet and watchmaker, Vianney Halter. The first prototype was greeted with much enthusiasm and fanfare as well as a couple raised eyebrows. A watch like no other, no dial and no hour markers. Instead the hours, minutes, seconds and power reserve are displayed on four rotating aluminium drums, mounted on ball-bearings, at the four corners of the movement. Quite remarkable; however, incredibly a tourbillon is included next to the seconds drum. A Tourbillon was invented in 1795 by Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet, to counter the effect gravity had on the movement of the watch. The actual premise regarding the effect of the Tourbillon is questionable; however, the tourbillon is becoming increasingly popular due to its mesmerizing beauty. The Tourbillon is a mechanism mastered by only the best watchmakers, and to incorporate a Tourbillon into the Cabestan Winch, is to achieve the impossible.
My favorite aspect of this watch is the Cabestan chain. The hand made chain comprises of 450 steel links and 150 rivets which provides constant torque to the movement. The chain is driven by the barrel and winds around fifth drum thus vertically crossing the entire mechanism. It takes 40 hours of labor to complete just one chain. The watch is wound and time is set via a tiny cranks much like the one found on a yacht. The crank locks onto a capstan to connect with the fusee to wind the watch and another capstan connects to the hour and minute drums. When not in use the crank fits into the folding buckle The watch boasts a 72 hour power reserve. The time set crank. The entire watch movement is protected by two thermo-formed Pyrex crystals.

Romaine Jerome was captivated by the Cebeston Winch Tourbillon and in 2008 incorporated the movement in a set of six "The Romaine Jerome Cabestan Titanic DNA Tourbillon watch" combining innovative haute horlogerie and artistic design. The Romain Jerome Cabestan Titanic DNA Tourbillon watch's case is contains actual oxidized material obtained from the Titanic shipwreck, fused to steel obtained from the Harland & Wolff shipyards, the area where the Titanic was built in the early 20th century.
The Cabestan 2 is already in the works. It is at the 3D conceptualisation stage, crucial to watch development. The Cabestan 2 ,with a chronograph, will utilize a hydraulic column wheel. The pushers will force liquid through pipes that run across bridges and thus under pressure will trigger the chronograph command. As if one tourbillon is not enough, the newer model will boast two vertical tourbillons. Unfortunately you will have to have a little patience to see the actual timepiece; the Cabestan 2 is scheduled for release in 2012.
By R. Van Halem

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Oldest Valid Trademark in the International Registary at WIPO celebrates 120th Anniversary

Beneath the 12 'o'clock position of this fine watch crafted by Longines, a winged hourglass logo is visible. Longines logo holds as much profundity as the company itself. The Longines winged hourglass logo is the oldest valid trademark in the International Registary at WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). An organization created by the United Nations in 1967 "to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world" as stated at a convention to establish its existence.

The WIPO is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, an horological hotbed.

The iconic winged hourglass was originally registered in 1889 in Switzerland followed by a filing under the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks in 1893. In 1893, the Madrid Agreement included only six member States: Switzerland, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Longines was the 14th application filed in the Registery, but it is the only mark still in use today as opposed to the 13 other marks which have lapsed in years past.

In 1867, in Les Longines, Mr. Ernest Francillon consolidated his families watch making skills under one roof. He renamed his company, Longines, a name now associated with the finest in Aviatiors Watches. The most iconic of which was designed by the legendary Charles Lindbergh immediately after his transatlantic flight.

On May 20, 1927 at 7:52 a.m., Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field on Long Island for Paris. 33 1/2 hours later, (10:22 p.m. French time) Lindbergh set the Spirit of St. Louis down at Le Bourget Field near Paris. He had flown 3,600 miles and became the first to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic. He became an instant celebrity, and to this day he is an icon in aviation. It seems that while he was on his long voyage, he gave much thought to a watch that would be ideal for a pilot. He returned to the US and immediately began to draw up plans for a special pilot’s watch. Linbergh turned to Longines to create a perfect and practical pilot's instrumental watch. Longines watchmakers immediately went to work . A few months later the first prototype was presented to Lindbergh. He was extremely satisfied with the result.

Longines winged hourglass is engraved on all its pieces, the original version on the case back and the updated version on the dial. Longines is a company geared to innovation with over 160 patents for new watch movements and technical innovations in Switzerland.

Longines can boast a long list of firsts; Longines was the first to drop the winding key and invent the integrated crown mechanism for winding and setting the time. This new invention was presented at the 1867 Universal Exhibition in Paris where it received a bronze medal for invention.

In 1905, Longines was the first to produce a wristwatch mechanically. In 1979 the Longines "Feuille d'Or" model became the world's thinnest watch, at 1.98 mm powered by a quartz movement wholly integrated within the slim case. In 1984, Longines made a breakthrough by unveiling a timepiece with a VHP or Very High Precision Movement - a system of thermo compensation which proved to be five to ten times more accurate than quartz.

Longines also made waves in its new and innovative watch designs. In the Art Deco period of the 1920's and 30's, Longines crafted its watches utilizing organic form and structural geometry.

In commemoration of the 120th anniversary of the original registration Longines has unveiled a themed exhibition at the Cité du Temps in Geneva and published a study about the logo, as well as creating two limited series of numbered watches, each of 120 pieces.