Thursday, January 22, 2015

5 Luxury Watches That Actually Exist

by Cassandra Stevens

Watches are the quintessential piece of jewelry for men. Whether it’s a $10 Wal-Mart watch or a Rolex, a watch shows that a man values his and other people’s time. Time rules over all our earthly doings. Our work, play time, sleep, and so on is all scheduled to be at certain times of the day which makes us look at the time constantly. Why not give yourself something nice to look at on a daily basis? Something you would be proud to wear, something that’s unique. Not all of us can afford to buy an expensive time piece but we can dream, here are 5 watches to get your thoughts moving. Note: Many of these watches are extremely valuable and expensive. While not wearing them, I would recommend protecting them by storage in a luxury jewelry safe, which you can learn more about here.

Breitling Cockpit B50 Watch – $6,600+
Being a fighter pilot is already ridiculous enough, which would mean most pilots would need a ridiculous watch. This watch has both an analog and digital display. Its inner workings where developed specifically for the aviator, featuring a tachometer, a bidirectional compass scale bezel, a rechargeable battery, and a “chrono flight” mode that records flight times and memorizes  the time that you depart and arrive along with the date when these moments take place.

Rado Hyperchrome Touch Dual Timer Watch – $3,000+
This watch took something that the “smart watch” movement did and made it for the businessman. Every function of this watch is manipulated by touch. You can set the time for two different time zones just by touching the face and swap in between the two by using multiple fingers at the same time. Not only that, it’s gorgeous. The watches case is a grey high tech ceramic that’s tough to reproduce consistently.

MB &F  HM6 Space Pirate Watch - $230,000
This time piece makes you wish you were a space pirate. Its odd design is inspired by Japanese sci-fi cartoons from the 70’s and features a biomorphic design. Its titanium case houses 475 different components, 68 jewels and a complex network of gears, turbines, and rotors that keep the Hour and minute spheres moving underneath four of the watches 10 domes sapphire crystals. The strap itself seems basic but is actually made of premier calfskin. Most people will be too pre-occupied to notice it though because they will be staring at the spherical abomination on top your wrist.

Patek Philippe World Time Moon Watch - $48,000
Have you ever wondered what phase the moon is currently in? This watch will tell you. It features a moon phase display made of two thin glass disks, which combine to show a large image of the moon in its current phase. It also blends old and new by using the company’s world time mechanism that made its debut in the 1930’s. It also comes with a hand stitched alligator strap.
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Goldfinger Watch - $115,000
Ever wanted to be more like James Bond? Then this watch is for you. This luxurious time piece was created to celebrate the films 50’s anniversary and features a Co-Axial calibre 8501 movement. It’s covered in 18k gold. From the bracelet, to the dial and hands themselves.   There’s also a 007 counter weight that perfectly honors the iconic film.

Cassandra Stevens writes for Casoro Custom Safes, she enjoys vintage jewelry and riding horses in her spare time.

Monday, January 19, 2015

SIHH 2015 Begins today and Marks its 25th year!

SIHH is off to a flying start, where 16 exhibiting maisons are showcasing new models for 2015. Unlike Baselworld, this convention is all about watches. Salon International De La Haute Horlogerie Geneve is run by Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie established in Geneva as a result of a rapid increase in watch making brands and resulting products.   Countless brands are releasing fine watch creations and thus FHH has taken on the role of providing information and guidance to the public from watch making specialists.  The FHH is a modern Foundation which for the most part utilizes the Internet for the release of information.
In addition the FHH recognizes that Luxury Watches has evolved from a "social aspiration" into a "cultural aspiration"  The FHH focuses its primary attention on information and training in Horology.
Even after 25 years, there still is a remarkably few exhibitors.  These exhibitors, however, have quite the advantage in being part of an exhibition held so close to the beginning of the year.  Since the holiday season, and now for a couple more weeks, blog sites, and other social networking arenas are flooded with the information about new watches and novelties  unveiled at SIHH.  These 16 brands are now commanding their position in the world of horology - this year 2015.  The press kits are being sent in a flurry of Emails and watch write ups are entering a state of frenzy.

That said, who are the brands - even if you know next to nothing about watches - you are likely to have heard these names around:
A Lange & Sohne Saxonia Dual Time SIHH 2015

A Lange & Sohne - click here for their colorful 2015 debut especially a clever Datograph Perpetual Watch, a Saxonia Dual Time, Zeidwerk Minute Repeater
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Acoustic Research Episode 1 Watch SIHH 2015

Audemars Piguet - This year Audemars Piguet reveals the  perfect chime thanks to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Acoustic Research Episode 1 Watch

Baume & Mercier Clifton Big Date and Power Reserve SIHH 2015
Baume & Mercier - Releases some really elegant timepieces, which is suited at any boardroom anywhere including a really handsome Clifton Model featuring a Big Date and Power Reserve.  In addition its Hampton Collection is 20 years.  Time does speed along - does it not? 

Cartier Crash Skeleton SIHH 2015
Cartier - has crashed the party - not in anyway I or you imagine, but rather with its signature women's Cartier Skeleton Crash Watch.  Although the original inspiration for the idea is up for grabs - the resulting timepiece has always been quite a hit. 
Greubel Forsey QP à Equation Computeur Mécanique SIHH 2015

Greubel Forsey -  Writing about this rather young brand sends me reeling with inferiority  in the shadow of scientific geniuses. 
Now as they say the genre of steampunk is a mechanical alternate world - a place where mechanical accomplishments continued to evolve if the invention of electricity had never occured.  This ,my friends, is Greubel Forsey - who unveiled today the “Computeur Mécanique,”or a mechanical computer.  To all my steampunk friends out there - this is it! This is what happened if electricity was never invented and computers had never come to pass. A mind like Greubel and Forsey spearheading a mechanical revolution. Now enough of my excited caffeine frenzied rant.  Geubel Forsey's 7th invention has a bunch of patents and is a brilliant assembly of 25 sub movements with a  rotating, co-axial coded elements or its "brain" if you like which are arranged in programmable moveable sections.  The complexity of this timepiece goes beyond the usual complication and reaches a realm which has barely been touched by other watch brands.
IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar SIHH 2015

IWC Shaffhausen- heralding its "Year of the Portugieser" releases the IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar boasting two firsts: an in-house movement equipped with an annual calender and a two barrel enabling a seven day power reserve.

Jaeger-LeCoultre - A brand which has risen and risen in mechanical complexity and  reached a pinnacle of horological perfection (one of my favorite brands as you can very well tell)... and to prove my "mechanical complexity point"  the curtain opens - or should I say the heavens open onto the Duometre Spherotourbillon sporting a brand new moon-phase indicator. 
Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum SIHH 2015

Mont Blanc - of fine pens and even finer watches ,pens which are a useful tool when needed and a rather coveted tool in the post office, holds no fascination for me; however, Mont Blanc watches including a new model to their new 2014 line, holds the world on a wrist and that, my friend is fascination for me.
The Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum, holds the worlds view from the North Pole as Peary would have seen it - if he in fact reached that cold cold place and was able to view beyond the snowy covered emptiness. Mont Blanc's new collection depicts 24 cities beyond the bezel, displaying a 24 hour time zone.
Panerai Luminor Chrono Flyback Ceramica PAM00580 SIHH 2015

Panerai - a trendy Italian  brand who has perfected the black and brown look, releases Panerai Luminor Chrono Flyback Ceramica PAM00580.  The case is highly resilient being of a zirconium oxide base.  It apparently is five times harder than steel and resistant to scratches, corrosion and high temperatures.  Come to think of it, the Italian WWII frogmen would have loved this material for their Panerai watches, luckily for them Panerai was quite advanced with the use of Luminescence enabling them to make out the time while they dived in  murky and turbulent waters.
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Squellete SIHH 2015

Parmigiani Fleurier- how I love this brand. Parmigiani solidified my infatuation with watches and its strong ties to its history.  Although Parmigiani is current in their trends, the ties to vintage versions of itself ,to me, is so much more than a marketing ploy of other brands.  Possibly because the founder, Micheal Parmigiani spent so much time restoring mechanical watches from the much loved Sandoz family collection, and in this formed the bond that became Parmigiani.  Parmigiani's reveals a Squellete version to its 1950 Tonda Collection. a sapphire crystaled dial - The Squellete is exceptionally thin and quite complex and all can be seen via the transparent dial and case back including a micro rotor - small but visible on both sides.
Piaget Altiplano Chronograph

Piaget - A brand firmly fixed into haute -holorgerie has gone quite slender for the party while breaking two records in its wake. Read my blog on the Slim Piaget Altiplano Chronograph

Ralph Lauren Automotive Chronograph SIHH 2015

Ralph Lauren - quite new to the world of SIHH and quite new to the watch world has become an excepted watch brand. Being the only fashion watch brand at the SIHH, I think it does quite well for itself beyond the initial "fashion brand entering the real brand world" skeptism.  Of course it is a joint venture between Ralph Lauren Watch and Jewelry Co, and Richmont Group  - and since this is a mostly Richmont affair, Ralph Lauren is quite welcome.  On the other hand the venture could have gone the way of Tiffany and Swatch - but it did not and Ralph Lauren is doing quite well for itself and Richmont. So what's in store for 2015? A sporty, woodsy and seriously trendy Automotive Chronograph which gleans its inspiration from the dashboard of a 1938 Buggati.  Personally I love the elm burl, steel and black combination. Hat's off and awhistle blow to Ralph Lauren. 

Richard MIlle RM-33-01 SIHH 2015

Richard Mille - If slimmness is a Piaget Quality - What is Richard Milles Quality? ..... Got it? Got it? Give Up?   Lightness.  Richard Milles manufactures the lightest watches in the world without compromising the resilience or the precision of the timepiece.  How does the company achieve this remarkable feat?  - well in part by being at the forefront of metallurgy and innovation in watch making materials as well as not worrying about the resulting sales price of the end product.  So in light of this - What is at Richard Milles SIHH exhibition today?  RM-33-01.  A round watch! Richard Mille who is famous for their tonneau case shape has opted for quite a traditional setting.

Roger Dubuis - What does the  first brand to adhere to the new stringent requirements of the Geneva Seal reveal on this first day of the SIHH? One of the most beautiful watches in the world.  The Excalibur Automatic Skeleton Watch - somehow made more beautiful without the tourbillon.

Van Cleef & Arpels -For the SIHH 2015, Van Cleef & Arpels presents a timepiece without the artistic enameling so prolific among most of its timepieces, but rather nine new models from the iconic Cadenas Collection - Read more about the lock shaped watch in my recent Cadenas Blog.
Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac Year Of  The Goat SIHH 2015
Vacheron Constantin - also fight the "whose the slimmest fight", but what always catches my attention is the new additions to their Métiers d’Art.  This year Vacheron Constantin  dedicates Métiers d’Art models to The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac the Year Of The Goat in 2015. Suffice to say, the Chinese market is huge and still largely untapped - although China has been quite instrumental in mechanical timekeeping. (How could one forget Sun-Song Heavenly Clockwork tower) and a collection dedicated to the Chinese New Year is a clever marketing strategy.  The watch is beautiful with quite a nice caliber 2460 G4 jumping hours movement featuring only four windows displaying the hours, minutes, date and days.  

So there you have it, an oh so brief run down displayed as we speak across 30,000 sq/m in Geneve - the original watchmaking capital of the world.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

SIHH 2015 Van Cleef & Arpels Unlocks the Cadenas Watch

Van Cleef & Arpels Cadenas Sertie Watches- SIHH 2015
Van Cleef & Arpels reintroduces its famed Cadenas watch.  A timepiece first unlocked back in 1935.  The new Cadenas Collection boasts a more modern look and larger case.  Cadenas ,meaning "lock" in French, is a signature Van Cleef & Arpels design with a strong symbolic sentiment. The lock symbolizes a union between two groups or individuals.  Van Cleef  Arpels claims the padlock idea was that of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the same Duchess who commissioned the famous Cartier Panther bracelet.

Photo Credit: Van Cleef & Arpels Archive
Photo Credit: Van Cleef & Arpels Archive Cadenas 1935
Since the 1930's, the Cadenas watch is a permanent feature in Van Cleef & Arpels Collections.  Back in the 1930's , the Cadena's watch took its own stand against women's suffrage.  It was not proper for women to glance at a watch on their wrist, especially during social engagements. It was not proper to even wear one.  Women were not supposed to seem bored or have anywhere else to go to.  So Van Cleef & Arpels set about designing a watch where the watch face could be noticed by no one else but the wearer.

Van Cleef & Arpels designed a fashionable snake chain bracelet to which the  padlock watch case  was attached.   To effectively conceal the watch and its telling indices, the Maison extraordinaire masked the face with the padlock shank and the clasp attachment.

It comes as no surprise that this design became quite popular. During the past 80 years, different Cadenas Models were created with slight changes to suit the current trends of the time.    As women's rights grew, the watch face became less inconspicuous and the padlock shank lowered revealing the dial face to others.

Cadenas Sertie Watch - Yellow or White Gold with Snake Chain Bracelett - SIHH 2015

The Van Cleef & Arpels Cadenas timepiece  revealed in a couple days at SIHH 2015, boasts a lowered padlock shank and a streamlined bold look.  To maintain the look of the original Cadenas Watch, Van Cleef & Arpels kept the double snake chain gold bracelet. (or Bracelet Or - Or is gold in French)  The clasp, however, is now equipped with small ceramic spheres to ensure a more secure closure of the clasp. The mother-of-pearl dial is now prominent with a clear unobstructed read out.  The dial,  now larger,  bares a look of open confidence with bold hands and clear baton indices. A diamond encrusted banner decorated in a snow setting  adds to the elegant ensemble of the watch.A snow setting or "serti neige" is the term used to describe diamonds of various sizes set to completely encrust the metal beneath.  As no two diamonds are exactly alike, each snow setting is completely unique.  Each stone is carefully selected to perfectly fit into the setting in order to create a balanced seamless look. Hence the "Sertie" title added to these models of the Cadenas Collection. 

Cadenas Sertie Watch Yellow or White Gold with Alligator Strap 

There are 9 new additions to the Cadenas collection, two white or yellow gold Sertie models are available with alligator leather straps.  The unique leather strap attachment is  also decorated with a band bejeweled  by a snow setting which further enhances the watch as a prized piece of joaillerie. There will also be models without diamonds for those looking for a more elegant yet casual Cadenas timepiece.

Cadenas Pavee Watch Models

Three other additions to the Cadenas collection are the haute -joaillerie Pavee models. A glimpse at these models pre-SIHH 2015 is only in sketch; however, Van Cleef & Arpels may have a Pavee model or two at SIHH 2015.  The Cadenas Pavee Collection is simply smothered in diamonds.  Princess cut diamonds pave the upper surface of the case, while the reminder of the case as well as dial and class are covered with round cut diamonds in a snow setting. The pink Cadenas Pavée Saphirs Roses Bracelet Or watch  is a combination of pink sapphires and diamonds and rose gold.  A wonderful Valentines Day gift.  The Pavee model is also available in white gold either secured by the alligator strap or a gold bracelet.

The Cadenas timepiece is powered by a Quartz movement. Pricing is not available yet.
Van Cleef & Arpels

Monday, January 5, 2015

Piaget Slims Down Even More for SIHH 2015

If Piaget  were a person one may advise them to seek help for their constant desire to be the thinnest. In Horology however, this obsession proves to be quite desirable especially when an entirely new set of components must be created for compactness of case.
Piaget has released quite a number of record breaking slim watches such as The Incredibly Thin Piaget Emperador Coussin Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater  or the 5.25mm thick Piaget Altiplano circa 2010.

Piaget will unveil another of its record breaking thin watches following last year's real skinny 38mm Altiplano.  This year Piaget welcomes the worlds thinnest hand wound fly back chronograph coupled with a dual time feature.  The Piaget Altiplano Chronograph actually breaks two records - one for the 4.65 mm movement and one for its 8.24mm case.  This newest addition to Piaget's Size 0 watches (sorry - not sure why I keep thinking of waist size when writing about slim watches - I suppose it has something to do with "I must  lose weight" imminent and often broken New Year's Resolution ) adds to a very impressive record breaking movements: 25 ultra-slim movements and 14 record breakers.  One must remember though they are in constant competition with Vacheron Constantin over "Who is the Slimmest of Them All!"and the new competitor to the game, Bvlgari with their Baselworld 2014 Bulgari Octo Finissomo Tourbillon - thinnest tourbillon of its kind.  Gerald Genta's Octo bares eight sides making the case ideal for allowing for a slim structure.


The Piaget Altiplano Chronograph is powered by the new Caliber 883P, which is based on the thinnest movement available to date -  Piaget's Caliber 880P.  To get a better perspective on how thin the Caliber 883P actually is, the chronograph gear finger is only .06mm, which is thinner than a strand of hair.  The cannon-pinion is .12mm and the barrel staff is a mere .115mm - not to mention the other 237 super thin components and although the watch is incredibly slim, Piaget did not use this as an excuse to cut corners, on the contrary the watch is incorporated with a vertical clutch and column wheel. Of course with a company like Piaget there is absolutely no room for error.  As to understanding the challenge of creating a perfect piece of machinery in dimensions opted by Piaget, think of constructing perfectly working appliances for a doll house, appliances that not only do the job but are top of the line as well.

In addition there is a 50 hour power reserve, and thus only requires winding once every two days.
The 41mm classic dial is marvelously easy to read while exuding a sense of precise confidence and an undeniably attractive elegance. Strong bold indices mark hour and minute with the sweep of baton-type hands  across a sunburst satin-brushed finish dial.  The seconds are marked by a sub dial at the six a clock position.  Precision timing is indicated via a 30 minute counter at the 3 'o'clock and a 24 hour dual time indicator at the 9 'o'clock. The flyback feature is initiated by a simple push of the button located at the 4 'o'clock position and the chronograph resets itself without further ado.

The super-slim caliber 883P is visible via a scratch resistant sapphire crystal case back where exquisitely blued screws punctuate a circular grained main plate, finely beveled bridges and finished with lovely circular Côtes de Genève.  The prominent Piaget Coat of Arms used since 2007 to certify the movement has been formed, developed, created, assembled and decorated in house.

The 41mm Piaget Altiplano Chronograph will be available in 18k rose gold and white gold.  The white gold will be garnished with a ring of brilliant cut diamonds upon the bezel. Priced at $29,000, the Piaget Altiplano Chronograph is a worthy addition to the world of horology.  Piaget