Monday, December 15, 2014

SIHH 2015 Audemars Piguet Creates the Perfect Chime

Audemars Piguet is set to drown out the show with a new improved Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Acoustic Research Episode 1 Watch.  Aside for the lengthy scientific title, this watch promises a minute repeater louder and clearer than any other mechanical watch. Of course the title does imply quite a bit of actual scientific research  including some cognitive and neuropsychology dealing with human perceptions (yay my degrees in psychology did not go to waste)  that went into this timepiece.   This type of attentiveness to the scientific approach, as opposed to trial and error, is becoming quite the thing in watchmaking.  The first company that really applied this principle with a huge success is  Greubel Forsey, after which the awards kept piling on.  One just has to look at the most recent being the first middle east awards in Dubai, where Greubel Forsey won the Best Technical Innovation Watch. 
So with a concept in hand, Audemars Piguet's highly reputable Le Brassus  Renaud & Papi Audemars enlisted the help of young innovative minds at the  EPFL polytechnic school of Lausanne (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) to assist in creating the perfect chime as perceived by the mind.
Now one must remember to emit a loud chime, quite a few factors come into play.  The watch case must serve as an amplifier of sorts.  The striking hammer must  bare down on thegongs with as much force as possible.  To create a great amplification and a large force within the small confines of a watch case is quite a challenge.  So before one even begins, the octagon Royal Oak case shape, designed by Gerald Genta, has the spacial capability to accommodate a great many complications.  A couple years ago, I went to a fascinating Royal Oak Exhibition, at Antiquorium in NYC; the great number and variety of Royal Oak timepieces on display was quite astounding.  It is quite one thing surveying a collection here, a collection there; a model here, a model there, but to actually view decades of Royal Oak timepieces laying side by side, emphasizes the versatility of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. 

How does Audemars Piguet succeed in creating the Perfect Chime?

After no less than eight years of intense research and development, the prototype of the  Audemars Piguet's
Royal Oak Concept Acoustic Research must be downright amazing.  Within the 44mm titanium case, an in-house tourbillon, visible at the 6 'o'clock position,  ensures gravity will not exert unnecessary force upon the movement and column wheel chronograph, aided by a 30 minute counter at the 3 'o'clock,  ensures additional timing complications.  But it is the loud chime which compels Audemars Piguet to announce:
“the first chiming watch so acoustically considered as to become a sound concept in its own right.”
For this chime, Audemars applies a stringed instrument concept, which creates a loud and clear chime. Since January 19th, 2015 is still over a month away, Audemars Piguet is still mum about the actual nitty gritty of the mechanics.  So instead of boring you all with suppositions of the watch's acoustic mechanics, I will hold my ramblings at bay and wait until Audemars Piguet is ready to release more details. 

As a conclusion, I find this concept watch fitting into a unique niche portraying a sporty and resilient minute repeater as opposed to the more dressy timepieces in which this particular complications is most often found.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Jaeger-LeCoultre to Hit SIHH 2015 with A Meteorite Dial

 Jaeger-LeCoultre is stepping outside the boundaries of traditional watch making material and bringing forth an ancient material - a dial comprised of a rare meteorite. Besides for the unworldly dial material, the actual concept of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Calendar timepiece was introduced back in 2011. The perfect 39mm round face, sleek bold 18k gold or stainless steel, bezel, lugs and case, as well as the clear day/night indicator and  two date apertures ,not to mention the highly competent automatic Caliber 866,  all spell classic efficient elegance, yet the dial captured within the confines of classic convention is as mysterious as time itself. 
Companies that one expects to utilize this type of material is Romain Jerome, Artya and maybe even Omega - not so much Jaeger-LeCoultre.  Don't get me wrong, Jaeger LeCoultre has an intense fascination with the skies above, I mean their Rendez-Vous Celestial watches depict constellations , zodiacs and whimsical shooting stars, but actually utilizing a material that plummeted from a place far beyond our own to a place upon our wrist is highly intriguing. 

Scientist can determine the origin of the meteorite by examining the specific crystalline structure as well as the meteorite patterns.  The geometric pattern on the dial is known as a Widmanstätten pattern, which is a geometric pattern resulting from the formation of long nickel-iron crystals in octahedrite  iron meteorites. The pattern is recognizable by the octehedra, which in layman's terms is solid in three dimensions with eight faces. This particular meteorite found on the face of Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Calender is from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, which fell onto Swedish soil.  To work with any material with complex crystalline structures requires exceptional know how.     First the hard, fragile material must be thinly cut after which it is polished to expose the geometric patterns. Since each dial is fashioned from a different portion of the meteorite, the resulting pattern is unique to every timepiece.  

The meteorite dial serves as a compelling backdrop to the dial design.  Just beyond the bezel, the days of the month are clearly indicated by straight hand capped by blue or red arc. At the 6 'o'clock position, a  clear day night indicator doubles as a small seconds sub dial.  Below the 12 'o'clock position, a clear day aperture is located next to a matching month aperture.  Both the dial and case back is protected by a scratch resistant sapphire crystal. The transparent sapphire crystal on the case back allows one view of the Jaeger-LeCoultre in-house Calibre 866, blued screws, beveled angles, Geneva striping and the gold rotor inserts. 

The timepiece equipped with a 43 hour power reserve will be priced around the 10,000 Euro mark in stainless steel and 20,000 Euro mark in 18k gold.  Keep in mind this is not a perpetual calender , which accounts for differing lengths of months and leap years, but rather an ordinary calender, which must be adjusted every two months. In this regard the timepiece is still in the realms of relative affordability. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ka La Ladies Watch Kickstarter Campaign

Ka La Men's Watches have quite a unique display based on the ancient sun dial. Now the Hawaiian based designer  ,Mark Carson, has the gears in motion to run a Ladies Ka La line. 

All is explained in his Kickstarter Campaign!

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Eery Watches of Mr Jones

"Mr. Jones Laugh Now Cry Later " Limited Edition 20 pieces

I do not know what it is that makes Mr Jones tick, but it must be quite chilling judging from his selection of timepieces and accompanying presentations. However, with all due respect the watches make for a simply lovely Halloween blog.  And for that I take off my hat to Mr. Jones. Let me begin by saying, Mr Jones does have a selection of rather cheery watches particularly for the ladies, where squirming worms will cause a sudden paling of pallor and hysterical shrieking.

Some watches may seem cheery like "The Ambassador" watch.  The watch title is a nod to the Hans Holbein painting, "The Ambassadors".  At first glance the watch seems like colorful smudges on a dial and vacant squares, but as the hour and minute hand line up,  a skull slides into view.  Much like Hans Holbein's painting. Most often Mr. Jones seeks the assistance of current artists for his artistic expression, but alas in this case Hans Holbein the Younger died from the plague in 1543. Like Mr Jones's watch, the painting seems quite normal, but viewing the painting from a different angle will yield a floating skull, symbolizing mortality,  beneath the rather ordinary representation of two wealthy, educated and powerful young men.

 The watch is priced at roughly $235 US Dollars. The watch case is crafted from surgical grade 316L stainless steel and coated in PVD.  This PVD coating increases the longevity and durability of the timepiece.  The movement is a Ronda 513 quartz movement, which is a great movement when going fro quartz. The watch is water resistant to 5ATM or 50 meters, which really means you water the lawn or wash a dish or two with it, but you cannot take a dive in a pond or lake.

Another Mr Jones creation which makes one dive under ones covers until morn is the "Last Laugh Tattoo Edition"  The Last Laugh Tattoo Edition is decorated in the bright colors reminiscent of the Mexican "Day of the Dead Festival".

 The watch is powered by a Chinese mechanical movement - the ST1721, A pretty basic 20 jewel movement that does the job.  Tianjin Seagull Watch Group manufacturers is the worlds largest manufacturer of mechanical movements, but you don't really hear much about them in the world of horology.  The company does have a rather intriguing tale to tell, where in 1992 it decided to discontinue all production of mechanical movements and concentrate on quartz and then five years later did a complete and utter reversal when discontinuing quartz and concentrating exclusively on the manufacturer of mechanical movements.   With over 3000 employees (and that was back in 2011), the company has mastered highly complex tourbillons such as the multi-axial orbital tourbillon movement.  The watch case is PVD coated 316L stainless steel.

For more on China's role in the world of horology - specifically tourbillons - read my blog

The Mysterious Chinese Tourbillon and the History of Chinese Timekeeping.

The watch , Laugh Now Cry Later, presented at the beginning of the blog, is the artwork of renowned London tattoo artist, Adrian Willard, which is complimentary to his last laugh creation depicted above.  I for one find this watch a tad more chilling than his Last Laugh timepiece, perhaps its the bright pink bow above leering eyes and red lips. It too represents the Mexican Day of the Dead Festival; but for some reason I can't help being reminded of Steven King's clown in "IT". 

 No one can deny the tasteful originality of Mr. Jones, even when presented on a squirming bed of maggots.

 MR Jones

Friday, September 19, 2014

Julien Coudray 1518 Manufacture Competentia 1515

Julien Courdray 1518 Manufacture Competentia 1515 circa 2013
There is absolutely  nothing wrong with a perfectly traditional looking watch with stunning craftsmanship.  After covering the new Apple Watch, reviewing a watch such as the Julien Coudray 1518 Competentia 1515, once again satiates my horological appetite after the past weeks abstinence due to technological advancements.  (Now do not get me wrong, the Apple hype of yesterday, today and tomorrow was met upon by exuberant teenagers who had already ordered an iPhone 6 from mom or dad)   

Company's Inspiration 

  Although the company's name, Julien Coudray 1518 manufacture sounds like a company who rubbed shoulders with the likes of Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci, the company actually is very new. Of course, there was an original Julien Coudray, who was watchmaker to King Louis XIII of France as well as Francois I.    Julien Coudray was highly creative and contributed to the flourishing artistic Renaissance Era.  He worked with Leonardo de Vinci under the auspices of King Francois I. In 1518, the year adopted by the current company, the original Julien Coudray created the first portable watch at the request of Francois I. The watch was a spring-based movement fitted into the pommel of two of the king's daggers. Half a millennia later, Julien Coudray 1518 of today honors his name with the creation of outstanding timepieces. At the helm of the company stands Fabien Lamarche who is somewhat of a modern day Julien Courdray.  He has worked for high end watch companies like Roger Dubuis and Breguet and has experience in micro-mechanics, robotics and computers.  In addition he is a designer and inventor and passionate about the past.  He even writes his letters using parchment and seals.

500 Years Later ...
 Founded in 2012 by Fabien Lamarche , Julien Courdray is a highly exclusive watch brand based in Le Locle.  This highly haute horloger produces annually, fifty timepieces, one at a time.

Julein Courdray Competentia 1515 solid yellow gold 2N
This may not seem like much, but creating watches of this refinement is comparable ,on a larger scale, to a builder building a building.  The production is not about quantity and all about quality. As the name suggests "Manufacture", means most of the watch components are manufactured in-house.  For Julien Coudray 1518 Manufacture means 95% in-house.  Thus from concept to final inspection 46 different highly skilled artisans work under its one roof. Only the sapphire crystal, bracelets, seals, jewels and springs  are purchased from outside manufactures. The reason being is that these components do not vary much from watch to watch and are often made with materials such as silicon and rubber, which require a very specific manufacturing process far removed from actual watchmaking.  In addition, a company cannot dabble in small scale silicon processing, rubber processing or synthetic ruby making.  It just does not make sense.  For these type of components it makes more sense to leave it up to that particular large scale industry.  If you see a company claiming to be 100% in-house, inquire as to how they manufactured the synthetic rubies and screws. However to the company's credit, it does have quite an impressive range of high tech watchmaking machines for such a small company, so much so that some high end parts components are actually sold to other companies.  Not only that, Julien Courdray 1518 Manufacture also makes most of its own tools.  

 Julien Courdray 1518 prides itself in creating traditional well made masterpieces concentrating on exceptional dial construction, which we will get to later.

The Julien Courdray 1518 Manufacture Competentia 1515 in platinum 950  is a $478,000 manual wound 43mm Jardin à la Française inspired timepiece powered by a Calibre JC 1515 tourbillon movement and equipped with a power reserve indicator, four year service indicator, day and night indicator (back of case) and a one minute tourbillon. 

The Julien Courdray 1518 Manufacture Competentia 1515 Watch Case: 

The 43 mm diameter case, is crafted from Platinum 950. Platinum 950 means that 95% of the metal is pure platinum and 5% is another metal. Since this number is determined by weight and Platinum is very heavy with an atomic weight of 195.078 , you may have much more of the other lighter metal by volume.  For example fill half a bag of feathers with half a bag of gold.  By volume the feathers and gold are equal, but by weight gold makes up 95%. There are commonly four different alloys used when working with platinum resulting in different Vickers of hardness: 5%  Iridium (atomic weight 192.217-  Vickers hardness - 80 ); 5% ruthenium (atomic weight 101.07 - Vickers hardness - 135); 5% cobalt (atomic weight - 58.9332 - Vickers hardness - 135); 10% iridium ( atomic weight 192.217 -Vickers hardness - 110).  The choice of the alloy depends on the malleability at the workbench and the hardness of the end product.  As you can see Iridium with an atomic weight almost identical to platinum will result in a volume most closely representing 95%; however, the end product as you can see the resulting Vickers hardness is 80, which translates into a soft alloy susceptible to dents.  Of course it is very easy to work with, but not very resilient. The 5% ruthenium has excellent longevity, but is not very malleable and prone to cracking, but once set last forever. A cobalt alloy turns the platinum a delicate shade of blue - since it is a particularly light metal and thus more of it is required by volume to make up the platinum percentage by weight. In addition cobalt is magnetic which is certainly not a good choice for the delicate equilibrium of movement required in a precision timepiece. Thus using the correct platinum 950 alloy is crucial in the resilience and longevity of the watch.

For Julien Cordray 1518, the platinum 950 chosen is critical, since in a Julien Courdray 1518 timepiece the metal of the watch case is the metal of the movement. The front and back of the watch is protected by a transparent scratch resistant Sapphire Crystal through which  the dial and movement is clearly visible.  The back of the timepiece also features a day/night indicator. The watch renders a sophisticated elegance and fits flat on the wrist due to its thickness of 9.82mm. The lugs arch gracefully upwards serving as the foundation for securing the band.

The Movement Material: 

The entire movement is made from platinum and decorated by hand. Platinum is the least reactive metal which translated in layman's terms to a metal which is highly resistant to corrosion.  The movement thus will last practically forever, long after other watches have corroded into lumps of metal. It is very rare for a watch company to fashion watch movements exclusively from platinum - the reason being that although platinum is quite malleable and ductile it is the 2nd most dense metal's and thus very difficult to weld, grind and machine. 
Even if companies say that the movement is platinum, often the smaller components are fashioned from white gold. Platinum casting is notoriously difficult  requiring centrifugal machines due to its high melting temperature. In addition, platinum requires the use of carbide tools and a carbon free environment.  Platinum becomes brittle in the event of carbon contamination and brittleness of metal is a watchmakers nightmare.   Thus the work area must be immaculate and any steel tools is out of the question.  Tungsten Carbide is thus used for polishing.  Tungsten Carbide is abrasion resistant and can withstand high temperatures as required when working with platinum.

 Since this is not a metallurgy blog, I will not go into all the difficulties in working with platinum, but suffice to say working with platinum  requires high expertise to attain the perfection required by each and every component manufactured by Julien Courdray 1518. In creating this movement Julien Courdroy 1518 took upon an immense challenge, and after two and a half years of tireless effort and 3.3 lbs of solid platinum per watch, defeated the challenge very well.  The result is exceptional and very very rare.    In a world of horological abundance, true rather than proclaimed rarity is highly appealing.
Thus out of 300 components, the Competentia 1515 is 95% platinum. Competentia in Latin means Competence, which as you can see ranks high at Julien Courdray 1518.


The Movement: 
The Caliber 1515 15" PT mechanical movement is manual and thus has no rotor.  This means the mainspring is wound ay the crown. Although the movement is platinum, Julien Courdray 1518 did not simply create a "simple movement", but incorporated a 48g tourbillon.  A tourbillon places the escapement and balance wheel in a rotating cage thereby counteracting the force of gravity and improving watch precision.  Although this idea was quite receptive in 1795, nowadays the tourbillon more of a testament to competent watch making abilities.  I wouldn't quite say that a tourbillon is a complication, as it does not perform an extra function other than being aesthetically pleasing and arguably dispelling gravity. However crafting a tourbillon from platinum 950 is quite remarkable.  On second thought, I am not sure I have ever come across a platinum tourbillon. Tourbillon housed in platinum are a plenty especially when it comes to special edition anniversary watches, but actual movements are rare and with a tourbillon even rarer.

In addition, the watch movement has a total of 60 jewels, quite a bit more than the usual 17, 21 or 25.  This is probably due to platinum differing friction coefficient to gold and its denser properties as well as an esthetic appeal.  In addition the jewels are set directly into platinum without the use of a jewel collets markedly reducing friction.  This requires precise measurement of the jewel hole, for if the hole is too big, the jewel will simply fall out; if the whole is too small, the jewel will not fit into the designated hole or simply crack.  

 In addition, the tolerances of every component at all angles is calculated and indicated on  the technical drawing prior to prototyping and long before the manufacturing process commences.  This is crucial as the indicated tolerance will have an impact on manufacturing methods. Another aspect of working with platinum is the necessity to recalibrate all the machinery after manufacturing one platinum movement, as apposed to a more common brass movement. This reason being is that the platinum, being as hard as it is, resists change and places an enormous amount of stress on the machinery.  Think of it as trying to carve a figure out of ebony rather than pine.  Since Julien Courdray 1518 is one of the only companies to manufacture  platinum movements, they had to make there own tools as well, since most tools on the market designed for manufacturing movement components such as plates and bridges simply cannot handle working with platinum. After each and every component is made, it is carefully hand finished to achieve the utmost in perfection.

The movement has a vph of 28,800 and is equipped with a 55 hour power reserve exquisitely indicated as an arch above the 8 and 9 'o'clock. The movement is extensively decorated by hand creating a picturesque landscape dotted with rubies, blued screws and the constant tourbillon rotation.

The Dial:
Being so taken by the movement, I delayed in writing about the breathtaking dial.  Without a doubt, this dial is one of the most spectacular dial structures I have ever seen. Julien Courdray chose to use Palladium on the dial, as this metal is much less dense than platinum and can be beaten into thin leaf forms. Julien Courdray 1518, as young a company as it is, it has already gained quite a reputation for its high standard of dial enameling. This is because, Julien Courdray 1518 has only experts and highly talented apprentices under one roof.  The master craftsman is highly skilled with years of training who divulges his craft to a hand picked apprentice thereby following a centuries old horological tradition.

Julien Courdray 1518 does not use paint or glue, as these techniques are not conducive to the longevity of the timepiece, rather the dial is enameled by hand and the dial hands are heated to reach its final blue color. In this way the signature Roman Numerals are expertly enameled on the dial by a single artisan, and another enameler is designated for unique one-of-a-kind dial artistry. Each hand painted Roman Numeral on the dial is on an individual white plate featuring domed enameling. The center of the dial features a translucent light blue plique-à-jour ("letting in daylight")  enameling which requires high expertise to create the perfect hue of this blue. The transparent enamel is applied to gold and then heated to a fiery 800°C. The dial decoration is inspired by the  Renaissance era  "Jardin à la Française"  or French formal garden where symmetry directs nature.

 Just beyond the 12 'o'clock position is a tiny aperture, which is actually a four year service indicator. Fitted on all Julien Courdray timepiece, the four year indicator is actually a disc connected to the going train of the movement.  This slow turning disc completes its revolution after four years, after which a service is needed.  The first of which is on the house at Julien Courdray 1518.  

After 9 months of work, the Julien Courdray Competentia 1515 is completed.  The watches are limited to 15 pieces, the exact number of which is clearly engraved on a gold plate at the 8 'o'clock position. The final product is presented on a hand stitched alligator leather band hand secured to the wrist by a platinum 950 buckle. The watch is presented with a hand written letter from company founder and CEO Fabien Lamarche as well as an engraved metal box.  The box, which contains an extra sapphire crystal, assortment of watch components and a complete escapement,  is engraved with the model name, serial number and watch material. The Competentia 1515 is also available in solid yellow gold 2N, 18k rose gold 5N, 18k white gold as well as 18k solid Pd 125.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The New Apple Watch

Apple just announced the release of a WATCH which is highly adapted to the individualized needs of the wearer especially in terms of health and fitness. Apple is very clear to emphasize that this watch is NOT merely a shrunken iPhone stuck onto a strap and worn around the wrist. It is a highly sensitive device capable of catering to a whole list of wearers needs.

  The interface that powers this watch is unlike anything ever created.  The watch, which can be adjusted to display an analog dial,  comes equipped with a digital crown, which is as far removed from the traditional mechanical crown. A traditional crown is used to wind the mainspring in manual watches as well as adjust the calender, time etc in any other mechanical watches.  This Apple Crown is actually a dial which allows one to quickly hone in on apps without effecting the current dial display. Although the watch just made face, left-handed critiques are complaining the crown is not very susceptible to them. Oh Well! However, on further research its seems if one flips the watch and whear it on your right hand, the watch automatically knows it is servicing a  lefty or any other "right hand watch wearer". 

 One little tap displays ones friend list and the message capability.
The touchscreen can actually sense force, which allows it to differentiate between a tap and a press.
Of course the watch has a retina display.
The watch also has a haptic feedback engine which can pick up ones heart beat. Haptics is .as per the trusty Wikipedia, " is a tactile feedback technology, which recreates the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations or motions to the user. I wonder if Siri, who has conveniently been squeezed into the watch, will frantically call the medics if ones heart races to dangerous levels. Also there is an accelerometer, which gives you notifications when raising your wrist.  This might be most helpful during road rage or the like, "Calm Down! Take Control! - if it actually works that way.

The watch is available in two sizes as well as two different models.  A Sports Model and a fancier model.  Seriously I have a hard time describing this watch using the same terms as a mechanical watch. For although this item may look like a watch, it is not.  It still is, in my eyes, a miniature computer on the wrist. It's along the same lines as calling Google glasses, glasses for reading.
The Sports model is lightweight and durable, whereas the fancier model, which is called the "Apple Watch
Edition" is manufactured (I was going to say crafted, but did not) from 18k gold, which must be some sort of alloy as it is twice as hard as standard gold.
To describe the watch face is a bit difficult as it can be greatly personalized to preference. however, I have displayed above a smiley face as well as the Home screen.
I must say as for modern technology this is great, but truth be told in a generation where babies tap on National Geographic photos to try and get the images to move, a company has to be quite innovative to impress.  Am I impressed with the capabilities of the watch?  Sure its cool.  I mean you can play music stored from devices around you; find the time in faraway place.

As for the tiny typing issues, the Watch allows for a Tap or a cute Emoji response to a variety of instances.  You can also dictate into the watch instead of typing.

The watch also features an upgraded location feature, which vibrates when you must make a turn.  Of course there is tons of apps.  I can think up a few myself such as improving a golf swing stance.  The fitness side of the watch is great for athletic performance as well as calorie intake and sitting time vs standing. It probably will have an app to aid in sleeping habits etc.

I hope the Watch crystal is somewhat shatter resistant, since it is supposed to accompany one on strenuous exercises, which can mean the watch may take a knock or two. It probably is scratch resistant sapphire crystal.

It is important to note that this watch is a kind of accessory to the iPhone and can only work in conjunction with the iPhone, so if you want an Apple Watch and don't have an iPhone, you must get an iPhone.
As for the power reserve of the watch,  well it does come with a charger, which is plugged into the back of the watch.
Ok! Now I know you really really want the watch; however, you will have to wait until early 2015.  
Cook:"It will redefine what people expect from a watch," 

  I am not so sure this type of electronic will be entirely regarded as a watch. It may redefine what people expect from an electronic gadget, but it will not redefine what people expect from a watch. 
What people expect from a watch is exceptional craftsmanship, mechanical mastery and precision based on individualized components working in perfect harmony without the need for any other power source, but that of the wearer.  For me that is what I call personalization where the watch can only function via the power exerted solely by the watch wearer and whereby no external power is needed.

Should the Swiss Watch Industry fear another Quartz Crisis?  Certainly Not.  Why? Well there are a few reasons.
1) People in the market to purchase a Vacheron Constantin are not the same buyers as those running to purchase an Apple Watch.  It's like comparing a Rolls Royce to a bicycle. 
2) This is not a new concept.  It is just an improvement on an already existing product. The Smart Watch.
3) The main consumer of the Watch will be people who use their cellphones to tell the time, and thus purchase the Watch as a cute accessory.
4) Mid to High End timepieces are often  worn as jewelry and most often not used to tell the time.
5) The battery life is a major issue.  People who do not have constant access to power outlets and need to know the time will not forgo there watch for an Apple Watch.
6) An Apple Watch does not and will never have the same status symbol and image upgrade as a High End timepiece.  After a while the Apple Watch will not be a conversation starter, but a conversation stopper as alerts and beeps will require immediate attention. 
7) Once the watch battery runs out, one is going to look a bit silly wearing a blank screen on the wrist - no matter how much gold frames its blank face.
8) A High End Watches is an investment - An Apple Watch is not, especially a Generation One Apple Watch or whatever Apple has called the firstborn of its iPod offspring.

 Jean-Claude Biver founder of Hublot told German media in regard to the new Apple Watch:

"This watch has no sex appeal. It's too feminine and looks too much like the smart-watches already on the market," Biver said in an interview with daily Die Welt.
"To be totally honest, it looks like it was designed by a student in their first trimester,"

Suffice to say he was not impressed.

My humble thoughts:
Low end quartz watches will be the most effected by the Apple Watch and thus I do see a greater rift occurring between the Low Range/ Mid Range Quartz Watches to High End Watches.
Unfortunately as technology gets better and better, our dependence on technical gadgets  running our day to day lives increases dramatically. A high end watch depends on no one else besides the watch wearer.   It does not rely on a power grid, electrical outlet or power cord.  It relies on the power of a person to wind the mainspring which sets the gears in motion.  An intimate circle of power between you and your time machine. No matter how advanced technology gets, there is absolutely no replacement for that.

 Price for the Watch: $349 plus the cost of an iPhone 5 or higher.

From Ikepod to Apple

Horizon by KAWS
Ikepod Company co- founder and owner, Marc Newson, is heading to Apple Inc as part of his  friend, Jony Ive's, design team. As Apple is gearing up to introduce the iPhone 6 there are rumors that Apple Inc. will branch out into serious wearable items.  With Marc Newson, famous for the design of the embryo chair, body jet packs, hourglass clocks, camera's, land, sea and air stuff, Apple is gearing up to not only compete with its competition, but obliterate them entirely. If Apple stocks were not at a all time high today, I would cram a couple into my portfolio.  For Apple and Marc Newson, this new venture is going to be good, really good.

Ikepod Hourglass Only Watch Auction 2011
Marc Newson designs often exhibit a streamlined almost fluid look as though the object is has a viscosity rather than solid dimensions.  I cannot wait to see what influence Marc Newson will have on Apple products.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Artya Russian Roulette Watch

Artya's version of "Carpe Diem" - Seize the day is a Russian Roulette Watch with a spinning dial. One cannot argue with the Artya's inevitable albeit positive proclamation beneath the image of the watch:
" "Remember to live.  Because you see the time. But you don't know yours."
Wow! What a statement and so true.  I am just about to leave my desk, jump on a train, find a boat and set sail for unknown lands. 
This watch is part of Yvan Arpa's Son of a Gun Collection, which is a collection where bullets and barrels are part of the decor.  Although watches bearing various depiction of bullets ,especially one depicting the daring and the somewhat dumb game of Russian Roulette, do portray violence and death.    Yvan Arpa's actual idea behind the watch is LIFE.
As far as aesthetics, I think this is one of the most elegant Artya watches to date.  If one would replace the gun barrel dial with a simple black dial, the result would be quite a conventional timepiece.  However I would not describe Artya as anything conventional.  If I may say so myself and supporting the statement with quite a few examples, Artya is the least conventional watch company out there.

As promised - examples of Yvan's Artya's daringly unique watches are:

The Heaviest Watch in the World
Two Silver Bullets, rubbed in garlic above werewolf blood.
A entombed spider discovered in Yvan's garden.
Having fun yet.....Shall I continue?
A Watch themed watch baring gears upon the bezel.
Mechanical watches baring burnt bezels.
Toad skin straps and dinosaur dung.

Watches paying homage to guitar greats and gunslingers. Entomologists and paleontologists; to free thinkers and watch lovers. With each new year, Artya founded in 2009 by Yvan Arpa - formally of Romain Jerome, the company is proving to be quite a formidable presence in the world of horology.  A huge amount of horological interests are paid to new models with quirky articles and blogs describing Yvan Arpa's latest endeavors. In a world where individuality seems so hard to come by; Artya forges ahead.

Even by looking beyond the dial of Artya's Russian Roulette Watch, you may think the lateral inserts you see are traditional rose gold, but everything is not what it seems when it comes to an Artya Watch.   What looks like rose gold on the lateral inserts are in fact ArtOr - an alloy of gold, zinc and copper.  The copper is used from real bullets further accentuating the Son of A Gun theme.

The Revolving Dial
Of course, the revolving dial is quite an interesting aspect to the watch.  The watch is manual, which means the mainspring must be wound by hand via the crown.  The dial on the other hand moves by the motion of the watch wearer, but does not wind the mainspring.  So although this watch may seem to be automatic likened to Perellet's (father of automatic watches) winding turbine on the dial idea, it is not.  Yet again another mysterious aspect to the watch. So what is the purpose of the revolving 6 cylinder baring a single 357 Magnum round end hand applied to the dial?  The purpose is of course entertainment, intrigue and mechanical mysteries.  Beneath the dial rotor, which revolves with the aid of ball bearings and weighted by the single bullet,  is another plate punctuated by 6 holes.  These theme is expanded to the mainspring barrel which also sports 6 holes.  As to the more technical specifications of the watch...  the case size is 44mm size, slightly smaller than Artya's usual 47mm.  The movement is a Swiss ETA Unitas which has been skeletonized and optimized with custom components, visible in all its Artya glory via a transparent case back. Blued screws, jewels and artistically rendered bridges create quite a grand spectacle of the movement.

As you can see the hands are bold and relatively simple allowing for a  clear read out. 

Most often Artya's watches are individual - no two alike, but in the case of the Russian Roulette steel models, Artya is producing 99 models available for around $8,300. The gold models ,which are individually unique cost around 31,800 Dollars.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Eleven James "Rent A Luxury Watch" Idea

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 2014
I love blogging about really high end watches, but only a pinnacle of people can really own one. Of course there is the new "Eleven James"  business  that has recently made some news. One can rent a high end watch for an introductory price of  $249 a month, but then you are only privy to some cheaper models.

Company founder, Randy Brandoff has a point.  Spending an exorbitant amount of money on a watch that may not feel comfortable on the wrist or has a dial that is almost impossible to decipher, is a bit of a gamble. So why not rent the watch, and if you simply cannot part with it; buy it. He claims the wealthy are getting smarter about spending and would rather rent than own.
I must admit I am no where in the league of uber- wealthy, but I just cannot come to terms with the fact that renting a watch is more financially savvy than actually owning one.  For example his "Aficionado" plan, one has to pay $2,700 for three two month long watch rotations a year. Watches available at this price range from $7,000 to $15,000.  If one pays $4,850, one is privy to six two month rotations per year.  Up a notch to the "Virtuosa" plan and one pays $9,700 for three rotations of watches in the $30,000 to $50,000. $17,250 gets you six rotations a year for watches in this range. However after spending all this money, one is left with nothing to show for it.  A potential asset becomes nothing more than a monthly expense like the electricity or phone bill.

Eleven James is servicing those that have it all and thus a shortened excitement span for new toys, kind of like a seven year old kid with a new lego set.  Get excited! Build the lego model! Glance at it a time or two! ... Pay it no more mind!
So in this case, one can rent the watch; impress some friends; admire it and return it.  This is really a great idea; however, it makes me kind of uneasy.  I mean real high end jewelry companies rent out magnificent pieces for red carpet wearing, but those pieces are designed as showpieces destined for stardom. 
The stance of high end watch manufacturers are more on the individual level, as though a watch accessorizes the very personality of a person.
Calibre de Cartier Diver - 2014

I asked the opinion of a Rolex wearing youngster fixated in high end luxury watches.

"You heard of this new Rent-A-Watch idea, where you pay say 500 bucks a month and you get to wear a really high end watch for a while?" I casually asked.
"Why would I do that?" , he asked
"I don't know... maybe so you can try out a couple different watches without actually buying them.", I said
"Nah!! Imagine a friend walked up to me and said "Hey cool watch. Did you just get it?"...
"NO! I'm renting it!" I'd rent a sports car.  Not a watch!" he said.

Is Eleven James marketing to the wannabees of the world, whose personal financial statement does not quite match up to the idealized versions of themselves or is it an  excellent service filling a former vacancy in horological environment?
Of course it all depends on ones vantage point and attachment to material things. The Rent A Timepiece idea is to create an impression of wealth.  It is not an investment of fortunes nor does it add to the persona of a person, it is merely a fleeting object like time itself. Now that's not necessarily a bad thing - on the contrary its truly delightful.  The Rent-A-Timepiece idea promotes the feeling of daring adventure.  The timepiece is strapped to ones wrist for that moment in time where an instant impression is all that is needed to solidify a foundation of lasting respect. It may be in the crucial moments of decision making where a glint of a watch beneath a starched cuff raises an appraising eyebrow.

However when the year is up and money is spent, there is nothing to show for it aside for a wrist shot or two.  I am not sure if this can be called clever spending as Randy Brandoff claims, but rather frivolous spending meant for instant enjoyment. The only way this can work in my mind is to use this service as a "Rent to Buy" rather than a Netflix type service.   

Monday, April 28, 2014

10 Watches with a Penchant for Peacocks

What is it they say about Peacocks? Well depending which culture you belong to, they can bring good luck or other luck.  There raucous caw can get kind of grating, but they are beautiful to see when strutting their stuff. The feathers are glorious and have been used as decoration on furniture, paintings, hair accessories and of course watches. In 1963, the peacock was designated the National Bird of India. 

Below I have listed ten watches adorned in peacocks and the different dial decorating techniques used to portray the peacock theme. 

Corum Heritage Artisans Feather Watch - Circa 2014

 Dial Decorating Technique: Individually sorted, cut and glued peacock feathers.

“Into The Wild” Collection by Le Vian- Circa 2011

Dial Decorating Technique: Paved and Raised Gem-Setting. 

Harry Winston Premier Feather Watch - Peacock Feathers - circa 2012

Dial Decorating Technique: Individually sorted, cut and glued peacock feathers.
Corum Peacock Feather Watch - Circa 1970's

Dial Decorating Technique: Cutting and Glueing peacock feather. 

Chopard's Peacock Watch - Circa 2011
Dial Decorating Technique: Japanese "maki-e technique" lacquering technique.  Artist:
Kiichiro Masumura.  Urushi technique - multiple layers of Urushi tree sap is applied to the dial and then sprayed with gold.
DeLaneau XRD Peacock- Circa 2012

 Dial Decorating Technique: Enameling

Boucheron Héra Tourbillon - Circa 2011

Dial Decorating Technique: Girard Perregaux Three Gold Bridges in White Gold surrounded by paraiba tourmalines, sapphire and diamond paving.  Peacock is in white gold set with paraiba tourmalines, sapphire and diamond paving.

Bovet Amadeo-Fleurier 42 Jumping Hours Peacock (Unique Piece)

Dial Decorating Technique:  Hand-painted on mother-of-pearl.

Boucheron Watch Crazy Jungle Peacock - Circa 2010

 Dial Decorating Technique:   White Gold - Champlevé Grand Feu Enamel Dial 

Piaget Altiplano Double Jeu - The Mythical Journey Collection - Circa 2014

 Dial Decorating Technique: Two Cases - Upper Case Dial - Gold engraved peacock set with diamonds. Lower case dial (not depicted) - Piaget signature dazzling white dial with gold hands. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Concord RE-Launches the Mariner

Baselworld 2014 marks an  historic milestone for Concord - the reintroduction of the Mariner.  Historic - since it seems Concord has a serious change of heart in regard to its older collections.  When Concord recently relaunched the Saratoga, I thought this sudden nostalgia was a once off deal, but a second relaunch proves Concord has renewed faith in its past.  Although the C1's , 2s  and Clabs are still quite hot, a brand of this size comprised entirely of one idea has limitations. The C hype has faded.  Its been five years ago since the Baselworld 2009 release of the QuantumGravity Tourbillon. An entire company - HYT - started by former Concord CEO Vincent Perriard - was built on its hydro mechanical concept.  

 Even though I blogged quite a bit about the C models - I could not fathom how a company could throw away all its previous and well loved collections.  I was terribly sad to see the production of Deliriums and La Scalas stopped.  La Scala is actually one of my favorite Ladies Watch.  The Delirium's and La Scala's ,still available on Ebay and on quite a few watch sites, have not lost their place in the watch world.  I personally think there is a definite market for new models of  old collections.
It seems Movado Group. owned Concord has finally realized that the C collections ,no matter how cutting edge and cool, is not enough for Concord.

 Of course the newer models of old collections are modernized.  In the words of Concord..
"This Iconic Collection has been updated to reflect a modern and beautiful sense of style"

The Mariner Collection is supposed to evoke an "ahoy there" feel; even engraved with the wind-rose logo on the case back. However, I think the watch collection can stand on its own as a really elegant  sporty timepiece without the Nautical nuances.
The mens 41mm models  have a really great automatic Sellita movement, beneath an engaging anthracite dial and housed in a stainless steel case.  A ETA quartz movement lies beneath a silver-toned dial. The watches are only water resistant to 50 meters which is not really ideal for waterways. The indices and hands are Rhodium plated and treated with Superluminova

The white mother of pearl dial upon the  30mm ladies timepiece is punctuated by 12 diamonds. A stainless steel case houses an ETA quartz movement.  An Anti-reflective treatment is applied to the scratch resistant sapphire crystal enabling read-out at high noon.

One collection I am eager to welcome is the Concord Delirium.
I suppose we will just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pre-Basil Intrigue by Omega

In just 2 days Baselworld doors swing open to the waiting world of watches. Omega has just released an intriguing video of an Omega Seamaster Master Co-axial Chronometer.   Although we only catch glimpses of the watch, we can ascertain with out any doubt that Omega's latest addition is a beaut."Diving Heritage meets the future of watchmaking"
1957 Omega Seamaster 300
The watch in question has an uncanny resemblance to Omega's first Seamaster diving watch "The Omega Seamaster 300" introduced in 1957.  The indices, numerals, bezel, bracelet, hands, colors all point to an undeniable assessment of the surprise that awaits avid Omega fans at Omega's Baselworld 2014. In terms of the innovative inner workings of the Omega Seamaster Master Co-axial Chronometer, I have to be patient.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Countdown to Baselworld 2014

A week from now Baselworld doors fling open unto an eager crowd of watch and jewelry enthusiasts, buyers, boutique owners, journalists and seekers. From March 27th to April 3rd, show goers will venture from hall to hall and event to event gathering information about new styles, prices and brands. Old friends will meet, new ones made, contacts forged, orders arranged and signed upon the dotted line. Seven informative Baselword Daily News issues ,available online and at the show itself,  keeps visitors abreast of "must-see", news and current trends. A Baselword App on your i-phone, i-pad, blackberry and android provides useful interactive information.

I have outlined a brief Pre-Baselworld Virtual Walk to Navigate the halls. Keep in mind, this is just a hint of what awaits you at the show.

Hall 1.0 is a given to go with highly popular prolific top notch brands such as Rolex, Breitling, Omega, Patek Phillipe, Tissot, Hublot, Tag Heuer - you get the gist.

Breitling for Bentley 6.75 Midnight carbon

Hall 1.1 houses a bejeweled assortment of high end brands - famous for gem encrusted watches and jewelry  such as House of Graff, Boucheron, Jacob &; Co. and of course de Grisigono.  Great Sporty brands such as Edox, U-Boat and Clerc are displayed among high end accessory brands such as Hermès, Dior and Chanel. Seiko holds a prominent place being in a category of its own.
Quite a few lessor known brands are within these walls, but favorites are found all around.  Europa Star spans one wall - an excellent watch news source.
 Hall 1.3 showcases affordable brands such as Invicta, Follie Follie, Guess and Casio.
Jacob & Co. Epic SF 24

International Brands
Hall 2.0, 2.1, 2.2 is abundant with jewelry - each booth displaying originality in design and expertise.
Eterna, Ball Watch USA holds command of Hall 5.0.
The Palace is by far my favorite Baselworld local, housing unparallelled watch making expertise.  HYT renowned for its hydro mechanical timepiece is at P03, while at P06, the edgy and daring Artya brand  rubs shoulders with the elusive Haldimann Horology.

HYT H2 Forged from Titanium & White Gold with Blue Fluid
 The Palace is abundant with complex complications perfected by MB &F, Konstantin Chaykin (genius in watch design) and Christophe Claret.  Badollet - keeper of my favorite design and De Bethune- creator of the finest blue  are found at P01 and P02 respectively.
Badollet Ivresse like a Painters Pallet

Hall 3.0 and 3.1 is abundant with jewelry and gem.
Hall 4U holds necessary tools for the trade and Hall 4.0 and 4.1 are National Pavilions.

Unlike the exclusive SIHH , where visitors must receive an invitation to attend, Baselworld is open to the public without prior registration.  Simply show up and purchase your ticket "on-the-spot" or online at Prices are quite affordable at CHF   60.-for the day or CHF 150.-for the week.

Coming from far and away without a place to stay? Enjoy some Swiss Hospitality at the Mövenpick Hotel Egerkingen. If you wish to be a bit closer to the action, a room at the Hotel Alexander Basel is a stones throw away. Zürich is  a 90 minute train ride away with hotels galore ready to welcome a Baselword traveller. But whether you come by land or air, it is on the water you can stay.  Book a floating room on the "Hotel Ship" for the duration of your trip. A free shuttle bus will transport you to the show - just 15 minutes away. 

The show does not end at closing time, Baselworld Village is open from 6pm until 2am.  Restaurants and Bars provide prime places to seal a deal over some fine wine and delectable dine.  

For the best and most productive Baselworld experience planning is crucial, but  the most memorable moment may just be chance. Make a memory, a deal, a contract, a sale, a moment.  Come to Baselworld.

Monday, January 20, 2014

24th SIHH 2014 Begins Today

The 24th Salon International de la Haute Horogerie opened in Geneva today.  The show runs from Monday January 20th to Friday January 24th, but don't pack your bags just yet, the SIHH is reserved for guests of the exhibiting brands and professionals- by invitation only. The rest of us will have to be patient - eagerly anticipating the new Timepieces crafted by exceptional Watch Brands. Only 16 brands will be participate this year (rather than 19 of past years)  with Greubel Forsey, Vacheron Constantin and Panerai taking center stage.   These 16 brands will get quite a showing; tastefully exhibited over 30,000 sqft with 12,500 privileged guests consisting of international retailers, journalists and brand representatives.

Of course as with prior years,  SIHH is still very much a Richemont affair with 11 of its brands taking part in the show  as well as  Ralph Lauren Watch and Jewerly Co whose 2009 joint venture with Richemont is proving quite a success.
The 11 Richemont brands are: A. Lange & Sohne, Baume  Mercier, Cartier, IWC, Jaeger LeCoultre, Montblanc,Panerai, Piaget, Roger Dubois, Vacheron Constantin , Van Cleef  Arpels.
Alfred Dunhill left in 2012 and  JeanRichard (owned by the Sowind Group) is no longer a participant.

The SIHH is a project of the  The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH).

The FHH was established in 2005 in Geneva because of the rapid increase in watch making brands. Countless brands are releasing fine watch creations. FHH has taken on the role of providing information and guidance from the watch making specialists to the press as there has been an increasing interest from the media and the public.
The FHH is a modern Foundation which for the most part utilizes the Internet for the release of information.
In addition the FHH recognizes Luxury Watches have evolved from a "social aspiration" into a "cultural aspiration"
The FHH focuses its primary attention on information and training in Horology.

Every year the SIHH is accompanied by an intriguing watch related exhibition.  This year the Exhibition describes Horology - The Child of Astronomy.  Quite a remarkable concept which requires much deliberation. At the exhibition, one is awarded to a closer look into the astronomical complications

However, the complications most prevalent in SIHH 2014 timepieces is one with far more gravity - the tourbillon. A host of timepieces feature Breguet's remarkable invention, which serves to counteract the effects of gravity on the movement by placing the escapement in a rotating cage. 

A. Lange 1815 Tourbillon Featuiring Stop Seconds and Zero Reset
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionelle 14 Day Tourbillon 

SIHH guests will also be awarded an up close and personal view of Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept GMT Tourbillon.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Grammy Award Winning Pop Star's 15 Carat Diamond Engagement Ring by Avianne & Co.

Avianne & Co. brings dazzling dreams to life for Celebrities.  Fix your gaze on Grammy Award Winning Ciara's 15 Carat Custom-made diamond engagement ring. Future, Ciara's Rapper heartthrob, knew where to turn for a spectacular custom-made engagement ring - Avianne & Co. Leaving no stone unturned, he teamed up with Elliot, one of Avianne & Co.s highly talented custom jewelry designers, and created a ring of  extraordinary splendor.  Future and Elliot worked on the ring for 4 weeks giving much thought to the significance of detail. After many design molds, Future chose a setting which symbolized Ciara's past, present and "Future" while ensuring maximum gem stability and index of refraction - its shine.

In NYC, Future popped the question and  presented the Avianne & Co. Custom Engagement Ring to Ciara of "Body Part"  fame.   As with the ring, he gave much thought to the day: Ciara's  28th birthday.

A closer look at the ring reveals emerald cut diamonds expertly enhanced by round cut diamonds  nestling side by side in a  micro-pave setting.  A setting Avianne &  Co. has honed to perfection. The entire eternity style band is smothered in diamonds encircling Ciara's finger in a dazzling display of dancing lights.

For even closer inspection Avianne & Co. has provided an Exclusive video of Ciara's 15 Carat Diamond Engagement Ring.