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The Breva Genie 01, a mechanical watch that not only tells time but also forecasts the weather and the altitude of where the wearer is located. It is the brainchild of Mr Vincent Dupontreue (Founder) and Mr Jean-Francois Mojon. 
The brand itself was launched in 2010 and it took the team 3 years to develop its first calibre and launch it as the GENIE 01. 

This time dial is located at the 8 o'clock position. at the 2 o'clock position is the weather dial indicating the different degrees of probablility of Sun, Rain or Thunderstorm. Both of the subdials are on smoked crystals that allows the user to see the level below them. At the top of the dial is a retrograde scale altimeter. It features a 65 hour power reserve which is also indicated at the 4 o'clock position. The standard crown that is commonly expected is located at the 9 position. The crown at the 2 o'clock position is for the barometer adjustment and reseting of the altimeter. The crown at the 4 position is the valve to allow the watch to take the air pressure readings. 
Overall the watch is impressive on the wrist and an achievement in designing a sensitive barometric instrument in a watch case. 
The watch was presented at a small gathering at The Equinox with a small selected group of guests. At the launch was also Mr Jean-Francois Mojon (who was the watchmaker behind the Opus 10).  

During the dinner proceedings Mr Vincent Dupontreue spoke passionately at length about Breva, their philosophy and the development of their new GENIE 01. 

 


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The Millenary hosted a small intimate dinner for a handful of renowned collectors to showcase the latest 2013 novelties from Hautlence during their trip here to touch base with potential retailers.

Of all the watches shown, undoubtedly the HL2 series has the most presence and design that reflected the brand's ambition.  With crystals covering almost three complete sides to show off the unique rotating carousel escapement located on the left of the dial. Cleverly, on this edge of the case, it is open crystal to allow the viewing of the rotation. Finished very nicely in two contrasting colours of grey and gold the digital hour rotates on a belt and the minutes in retrograde. 

On hand were Mr Betrand Meylan (CEO of Melb Asia) and Mr Gulllaume Tetu, (co-founder and CEO of Hautlence) where guests were hosted to a wonderful 10 course Chinese haute cuisine - and a wonderful selection of watches from the brand.  

Mr Tetu spoke at length about the new Hautlence watches and it's brand philosophy. 
Hautlence has been a brand that collectors perceived as a avante garde with open dials and the TV styled case. They are a small brand with ambition to grow a wider audience. Hopefully with their return to the Singapore market and the partnership with the right retailer, Hautlence will better understand the independents collectors mindset here. Meanwhile I am already looking forward to see what they have in store for 2014.

 


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The Star Trek franchise is able to lay claim for inspiring many special and highly desirable watches. Many of the MB&F had featured several design elements and most notable was the Klingon battle axe on its rotor. The most recent is the Vianney Halter Deep Space Tourbillon which was inspired by the design of the Deep Space Nine space station.

Here is one influence that some would probably conclude as purely coincidental. The Federation logo on the DeBethune open dial.


Is there any resemblance or do you think there was subtle influence that even David Zanetta (founder and CEO) and Denis Flagollet (chief designer) did not realise? You decide.

 


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Parmigiani is one of those brands that had been flying under the radar of collectors and forums. However, for those who in the know and serious collectors, they would be familiar with the name and know the long history that the brand enjoys. While it had not been as aggressive as some brands with its marketing, Parmigiani has nonetheless endeavoured to focus on its core strengths and reaching out to its customers who know what it does. However with its partnership with their Singapore authorised dealer, The Hour Glass, it seems that the brand is now making a stronger and more effective step towards marketing and raising its profile in Singapore and Asia. 

On 14th November, Parmigiani and The Hour Glass celebrated the grand opening of a new boutique at the Marina Bay Sands. 


The evening included a grand dinner at the Science Museum where guests were treated to aerial performances and some beautiful arias while enjoying a wonderful dinner.


Parmigiani appears to have found a retailer that understands its market position and knows how to help it fulfil its future plans. 


 


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Martin Braun the founder of Antoine Martin was this week in Singapore to launch the brand's partnership with Yafriro as its local authorised dealer. Hosting a small dinner for collectors and media at St Regis Hotel, Martin Braun spoke at length how the new company was formed in 2011 and showcased at Baselworld 2013 the Slow Runner. The food served was impressive as expected from the six star hotel whose reputation for quality is thoroughly deserved.


The function room hosted the 20 guests and representatives of the authorised dealer and Antoine Martin. It was a congenial event where many who are unfamiliar to each other and to the brand found themselves enjoying the music food and the watches laid out for guests to inspect.



Martin Braun seen here in this collage speaking passionately about how after creating the brand Martin Braun, he partnered with a backer to create the new brand Antoine Martin for the purpose of creating watches not previously featured in the market. This was the motivation for the creation of the Slow Runner which has the largest balance wheel ever seen in a wrist watch. Running at only 7200 beats per hour the balance wheel is somewhat hypnotic to look at.


The watch seen here in stainless steel is priced in excess of SGD 30,000.  The aesthetic novelty of the large movement would be attractive for those who are enamoured by mechanical movements. The simplicity of this large balance wheel belies the difficult engineering problems that had to be solved.


Notably there are large rubies at the end of each spoke of the balance wheel which are probably to assist in dealing with the potential friction.


The delivery of this model is expected very soon. While the style and design of the new balance wheel may not be universally popular, there are some who liked the novel idea of a large pulsating balance wheel.
Please click on the images to view the higher resolution versions.

 


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Here is a desktop wallpaper of the Wempe Chronometerwerke for fans of this watch. Taken with a simple single lighting setup.





 


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Tudor had its grand opening of its new boutique in Singapore at the Marina Bay Sands last weekend with a large reception of guests and customers. The new boutique is the first among many being launched by the brand which has since 2009 with the appointment of Mr Philippe Peverelli as their CEO, taken a different direction away from the shadow of Rolex. 


Tudor being wholly owned by Rolex had for many decades offered similar looking models but with a different movements making them seen by many as the poor man's Rolex. However under the leadership of Mr Peverelli, Tudor has retained Rolex's demanding quality of materials and assembly but changed its design direction. It now offers some very interesting models from 2011-2013 featuring reissue of its historically special models with small changes yet made with today's new method of production and materials.  An example is the Heritage Chrono Blue (reported here previously). 


The Ducati Blackshield motorcycle was also featured at the boutique opening.



At the boutique opening the new Blackshield chronograph watches were showcased. Both the black and red and black and brown versions. Made with ceramic, the Blackshield is reputedly scratch proof. At a list price at S$6500 the Blackshield will probably prove to be a sellout. 



 


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The second offering from Omega at the Baselworld 2013 that has the attention from collectors and magazine editors is the new Titanium Speedmaster '57. The new '57 is a throwback to some 50 years ago when the first speedmasters were made (even before the Moonwatch). It still feature the straight lugs of the original which makes the watch look and feel bigger than its 41.5mm case size. Seen here side by side with the Darkside of the Moon, it is imperceptible visually that there is a difference of 3mm. While it features the same Calibre 9300 found in the Darkside, the Grade 5 Titanium with polished and brush finishing looks quite dramatically different from other Speedmasters due to the unique blue grey dial.

For those with smaller wrists or those preferring the mainstream case dimension  of under 42mm, the '57 is a wonderful option. While it many not have the visual uniqueness of the black ceramic of the Darkside, the Grade 5 Titanium is a material not easy to come by. It is understated yet bristling with Omega's cutting edge technological achievements - such as polished Titanium and the wonderful calibre 9300 (silicium balance spring that has inherently antimagnetic properties).

Most importantly however, must be how it looks and feel on the wrist. Without a doubt the most impressive visual aspect of this model is how the dial looks. The tone of the blue grey changes with every angle. This model stands out as one with a strong character and look. 


 


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This year's Baselworld 2013 offerings from Omega had been a positive surprise with a handful of timepieces deserving serious attention from both seasoned collectors and novices. The first is a watch that had been the talk of the town - is the new all black Speedmaster named Darkside of the Moon.

The Speedmaster series has been an important collection for Omega as it reflects its continued technical prowess that few other brands can even lay claim to. Being the first and still the only official timepiece of NASA Astronauts since the 60s, the Speedmaster has had many variants and limited editions over the decades past but none so enticing as this model which features the famed Calibre 9300 coaxial Chronograph movement with a silicon balance spring. Easily recognisable with its two symmetrical sub-dials. Unlike the original Speedmaster (and other Chronographs) that features three sub-dials, the hour counter is located in the right subdial together with the 60 minute counter.

The Darkside is probably the only watch in the market today that features a full ceramic case and dial. Measuring a hefty 44.25mm, it is the largest Speedmaster and will most certainly please many who enjoy large timepieces.

This watch is visually stunning. Black ceramic cases are not new but Omega has seemingly borrowed the experience and material sciences from its fellow stable of brands at Swatch Group to present one of the best looking black watches ever seen. Personally I have gravitated away from big watches and later, all black watches - but this is one model that is making me change my mind. It feels better on the wrist than the Speedmaster '57 which has a 41.5mm case - probably due to how the lugs are designed (more about the '57 later).

It is retailing at SGD$15,500 and a few pieces are just arriving into the market as this report is being published. With so much going for it - the famed look of Speedmaster; the new ceramic materials and most of all the Calibre 9300 co-axial chronograph. Chances are, these pieces will not stay long in the shops.



 


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This is the new HYT H2 --- HYT is the brand that features the unique hydro-mechanical movements. Last year the award winning H1 took the collecting world by storm. This year the H2, still featuring the huge 48mm case,  but now with a new layout with the balance spring sitting in the dial side near the 12 position and the fluid cylinders in a V position unlike the H1 that had them in parallel. Designed in collaboration with the horological genius Mr Papi at Audemars Piguet, HYT is making developments on the fluid hour concept. 

Variations on this model is expected such as red instead of luminous green fluid for models with red toned cases. Several polymer cases are already being made to meet the demand for funkier and brighter designs for some markets such in South America. 




While the 48mm case is huge, those who are horologically inclined would find the details and mechanical design to be quite unique and different from others in the market today. While the dial is a complex myriad of gears and levers, the back of the watch reflected a sense of symmetry and reminds me of a well finished car engine with two pistons in a V position and a pair of overlaid gears. Clean and nicely finished with 8 day power reserve.

According to Mr Vincent Perriard, CEO of HYT, while this watch has none of the renowned complications, the design of fluid hours will in the near future be featuring complications such as GMT and even a unique date function. The brand is young but seems to be in good and experienced hands of Mr Perriard who is familiar to many in the industry. 



 


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Smartwatches are now coming to a store near you. Apple has yet to show its hand but there are already several models in the market to meet the demands of those who use Andrioid phones to pair with. Are Smartwatches worth being considered today? CNET reports that in some cases they are just eye candy but in most of these new models, they suffer from the same issues as smartphones - poor battery performance. Will the smartphone become the new tech gadget of 2013 or even 2014? I believe there is serious potential - if they are able to work seemlessly (and effectively) with useful apps together with the mobile smartphones today and has real long life battery capacity. So far there is nothing offered today that would make me seriously consider replacing my analog Swiss luxury timepieces. Just yet.

CNET REVIEW of SmartWatches 2013

 


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On the evening of 26th Sept, Philippe Dufour, Roger Smith, Kari Voutiliannen and Laurent Ferrier (all four each own and run brands under their name) sat together on stage to share their thoughts to questions posed by collectors. Vianney Halter was also invited but he was not medically fit to fly to Singapore. The moderator, Mr Kevin Tan opened the session by taking questions from the audience. The four masters fielded many questions but only a few had answers that were either surprising or reassuring.

For example, Dufour renowned for his class leading finishing that made his simple three handed watch, the Simplicity - said that watches do not need to be finished well. High level of finishing is a luxury and as such skills and talent for that feature is not widely available.


When the panel was asked what watch each of them would recommend to new collectors (budget between $10,000 to $20,000), Dufour suggested Nomos as a brand worthy of collecting. Smith and Ferrier suggested Rolex, which seemed both surprising (as it is a brand on the other end of the spectrum of independents) and safe answer (as experienced collectors recommend this to new collectors).


The interesting part of their responses is that both Smith and Ferrier mentions that Rolex is renowned for its reliability and both advocate the philosophy of good watchmaking is about making a reliable watch to last for generations - and that in their opinion as watchmakers, Rolex is successful in making watches that will continue to be around for years.


Ferrier volunteered another comment to the same question by suggesting new collectors to pick up vintage pieces at auctions that are certified to be running in good condition. The simple logic being that if their movements have lasted for several decades, they will continue to do so for a very long time - unlike new calibres that possibly suffer from teething problems.


The hour long session ended all too quickly and after it came to a close, the four masters spent two hours answering private questions and taking photos with their fans.


-HT

 


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The Project Z6 Blue Edition is the latest in the Project Z series. Project Z series introduced Zalium™ as a watch case material. Light, harder than titanium, non-allergenic and extremely anti-corrosion resistant, Zalium is an aerospace type zirconium alloy exclusive to Harry Winston in watch making.

It features the calibre HW1010 which is a hand-wound movement composed of 338 parts, displaying the hours, minutes, and seconds (via Harry Winston’s unique “Shuriken” revolving power indicator). The Z6 is also an alarm watch. The alarm consists of a minute repeater style hammer, which strikes a gong.

Further emphasizing the practical functionality, the double barrels guarantee a full 72-hour power-reserve and ensure that the complication will not disrupt the movement timekeeping functions. Sized at 44 mm the Zalium case it is coated by a grey DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) finish. The watch retails at S$78,900.

HW watches are unique with its signature style and distinctive with its use of new materials. This blue version conveys a dynamic sporty style with its deep blue dial and strap. Its repeater style alarm is a wonderful feature.

 


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The Hourglass event called "Supermachines & Horological Heroes" features some of the most exciting watches in recent years - most of which hails from the ateliers of independent watchmakers. Many of these independents are considered living legends like Phillip Dufour, Vianney Halter, Roger Smith and Voutilianen. All four of these men are in Singapore for the next few days talking to collectors and speaking at the plenary discussion happening today.

Amongst the many very rare and award winning watches shown at this exhibition are books and exhibits from all the renowned comic series including superman, batman and ironman. The beautifully constructed and finished models also include the scene above of Ironman being adorned with his metal suit. This amazingly well made model is only 1 foot tall.

If you are in Singapore over the next few days (up to 30th Sept), make sure you drop by the Paragon to have a look at the wonderful timepieces. But if you wish to meet the legends, you only have today!





- HT

 


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Buben & Zorweg recently launched its brand new Perpetual Calendar ONE in Singapore. A brand that has its origins in watch boxes and winders that progressed into become leaders of watch safes and watch displays that are hand crafted from beautiful wood panels, glass to rare metals. Their bank grade safes are something to behold. At this launch however, a small diminutive but very sophisticated winder was created to provide collectors with a winder that is designed to turn the crown (as opposed to most watch winders that relies on automatic movements with rotors that winds the watch while it is being rotated). Such winder needs to be extraordinarily engineered so that it is capable of automatically stopping without overwinding a watch. All previous offerings of such a winder tended to be quite large but Buben managed to engineer theirs to be small enough to be inserted into a safe.  

 
Together with the launch of the new winder is the new ONE Perpetual calender. A large watch at 46mm which features a large balance wheel with silicium escapement. The large date is featured through a double window at the bottom of the dial and the day and month at the top of the dial. The watch has a nice personality and presence on the wrist. Unfortunately this watch comes in very limited numbers and with a price tag that would in all probability restrict their market to those who can afford their high end safes. Check out Buben & Zorweg website for more information. If you are in Singapore stop by their store at Timeless Gallery at ION Singapore.

 


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During my 2013 trip to Vienna, I chanced on the Wempe store in the heart of the shopping belt in the city and despite trying to resist the temptation to step in, I could not stop going in the store to investigate the German retailer to assess their quality of service (that has operations also in New York). As with all top tier luxury watch retailers in Europe, Wempe is an agent for the top tier brands and during my visit a pleasant lady served me and was very helpful in taking out from the store windows and safe many of the models I wanted to see. I had no intention to acquire any timepieces during my visit to Vienna but she showed me something I have not seen anywhere before.

A house branded watch catalogue was given to me and I was thoroughly intrigued. After browsing through it I made the critical error of asking to see the Chronometerwerke and she happily obliged. She took out almost the whole range for me to investigate, wind and study with a loupe. I had the sinking feeling I was being cleverly sold and my resistance... well, was quite futile. The more I studied the watch, the harder it was to resist.

Wempe the retailer has become a watch brand itself. They worked together with NOMOS to develop new calibres for their watches. The Chronometerwerke really spoke a lot about Wempe's effort to be taken seriously as a watch making brand. It was extraordinarily well finished for their price point. The tourneau case design has a tourneau shaped calibre that was finished very close to the top tier Glashutte brands (where the Wempe watches are made). On the wrist this watch was perfect - as I was in the market to acquire my first non-round watch (admittedly the Reverso and Cartier tank were in contention). The Chronometerwerke comes with two barrels providing 80 hours of power reserve and manually wound with a beautifully finished three quarter plate made of German Silver that features red rubies with gold chatons and blued screws.

There were several versions of the watch and the gold cased, white dial was extraordinary but not wanting to put a huge bet on a lesser known brand, the stainless steel version was just perfect at its price point with the white dial, blued hands and arabic numbers.

The watch has grown on me even more over the months of ownership and being worn. It is discreet yet quite comfortable and handsome on the wrist. The watch represents especially good value at below S$5k (after return of VAT and retail discount). Study the image collage below (click on it for a large version) and consider - what other watch in the market today provides such value at this price point?


Postscript - Forgot to mention earlier, this watch features a wonderfully hand engraved balance cock with a swan neck adjustment. This is not usually found in watches under S$10k.

The new round Chronometerwerke Power Reserve is quite handsome and should be considered by collectors wanting an affordable and well made German timepiece. Click Here for a video of it.

For official details of this watch, visit WEMPE.DE.

- HT

 


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When the original Rolex Sea Dweller was released several decades ago, it was considered a large watch for its time. Though it was sized similar to the ubiquitous Submariner, it was made thicker to improve its depth capability to 4000 ft. Its replacement is the Sea Dweller Deep Sea that has tripled its capability to 12800 ft. Unfortunately this means the watch had to be made even bigger. This set of images was taken with an iPhone at a recent get together with a few collector friends. The Deep Sea is much thicker and larger and one could only appreciate how much bigger it is by making a side by side comparison.

Not obvious in these images is that the watch sits very tall on the wrist and dwarfs average wrists. The bracelet that it comes with was a surprise to all as it is no larger than the original Sea Dweller. With the increased dimensions of the watch the bracelet is imbalanced. While the Deep Sea is a monumental achievement in depth capability and made of the best materials available, it is not a watch that is meant for every day use. While the original Sea Dweller has become somewhat of a collectors piece, it is still very much a tool watch capable of being work for work or play. Its now anonymous design (due to so many variations from other brands with the same look) makes it an easy wear even while travelling. The new Deep Sea however which is more than double the price of the original, will probably become a rarefied watch for collectors of diving watches.

 


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The Hour Glass will unveil another groundbreaking project in the form of a pop-up store situated at the heart of Orchard Road at leading shopping centre, Paragon from 18th to 30th September.  Themed “Super Machines and Horological Heroes”, this pop-up will stage avant-garde timepieces, paying homage to a collective of individuals who revolutionised watchmaking and watch design at the turn of the millennium. 

Coinciding with the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix Race weekend, “Super Machines and Horological Heroes will offer a unique cultural experience to both locals and out-of-town guests during the 13-day showcase at the Main Atrium of Paragon shopping centre. 

"Super Machines and Horological Heroes seeks to play out the virtuosity of visionary watchmakers and profiling their technically innovative masterpieces.  Since the dawn of the new millennium heralding the birth of contemporary watchmaking: a period where visionaries sought to define a new path for horology with a respect for patrimony whilst shaking design conventions of what is considered high watchmaking.

Hailed by pundits as ‘Superheroes’ in the world of horology, these trailblazing brands and individuals harnessed the dexterity and technological advancement in artistic watchmaking; giving rise to these spectacular ‘super machines’.

There will be an inauguration of 21 inimitable timepieces of which 7 limited-editions are exclusively available through The Hour Glass.  These exclusives editions are Ferrari Big Bang by Hublot, Experiment ZR012 by C3H5N3O9 (an exclusive collaboration between two creative houses - MB&F and Urwerk), Bugatti Super Sport by Parmigiani Fleurier, Freak by Ulysse Nardin, Imperial Fountain by De Bethune, Poison Dart Frog by MB&F and Galet Micro-Rotor by Laurent Ferrier.

 


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In recent years Tudor had been successfully reinventing itself by returning to it's successful historical pieces. The reissue of the Heritage Chrono Grey and the Black Bay diver, even the Pelagos diver - all are clever reissues of Tudor watches from the early 70s. For 2013, Tudor reissues its 1970s Monte Carlo Chronograph Blue. This watch took Baselworld 2013 by storm capturing much of the attention usually reserved for top end luxury models at the annual show. The first few shipments of these new watches started arriving in late August and for a fortunate select group of collectors (who placed orders on the announcement of the model). Having arrived on our shores here, does the watch match the hype?

The 42mm steel cased chronograph comes with a tri-coloured blue, yellow and red fabric strap and a steel bracelet made at a level of finish one comes to expect from Tudor or even Rolex. Although it is somewhat taller than most chronographs at 13mm, on the wrist it does not feel as if the watch is overly tall unlike watches with larger dimensions.



The dial of this Heritage is a well appointed with handsome hands laid on a familiar Tudor design that is reminiscent of the 70s Monte Carlo watches.  The colour combination of beige, orange and blue is a surprisingly handsome and attractive looking dial. Enhanced by the proportionate applied markers that compliments the design of the hands. The movement is the much respected ETA 2892 with a Dupuis Depraz chrono module. This combination makes the chronograph action much more sophisticated than the commonly available Valjoux 7750 found in many chronographs.



The case construction is a pleasant surprise - note the image below showing the quality of the knurl on the bezel and crowns. The two chronograph crowns have screw functions to release and lock the buttons in place.






On the wrist this Heritage Chrono feels like it is worth much more than it's retail price. It is a well made watch with wonderful details put together with great thought given to almost all aspects. Regardless whether one is using the steel bracelet or the fabric strap, on the wrist the watch has a positive summer character to it. 


The Tudor Heritage Blue Chrono easily achieves a "Highly Recommended" for its total package of being a well made, handsome watch that is not only distinctive in design but well executed and priced honestly. Click on the images to view them in larger resolution.

More images to come when WH makes a photographic comparison between this new Heritage Chrono with the original Tudor 1970s Monte Carlo.

 


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For seven days from 23rd August 2913, Paragon Shopping Centre was the location of the Omega Co-Axial Exhibition. The exhibition was a showcase for much of the recent horological achievements of Omega - in particular the work with George Daniels and his much vaunted Co-Axial mechanism. The exhibition brought some of the most precious timepieces that are on permanent display at the Omega Museum in Bienne. The Co-Axial escapement which is now featured on all of current Omega models (save for some historical models such as Speedmaster Professional which are still featuring the original calibres from the 60s and 70s to meet the demand from collectors). The co-axial is an evolutionary development and is already surpassing its promise by being a highly tolerant, low maintenance escapement. Omega has such faith in the new escapement that it provides industry leading 4 year warranty on its watches.


In conjunction with the state of the art co-axial, the development of new silicium materials and the development of amagnetic movements (movements that are not affected by magnetic forces), Omega as a company is leading the way forward for the Swiss industry - showing that continued investment in research and development together with old world watch making know how can make a winning combination.

 


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Here is IWC's video to celebrate this year's Swiss National Day. It features Mr Kurt Klaus the grand watchmaker who created IWC's perpetual calendar complication which is used in all its model lines. Worth viewing and most definitely a new and more positive IWC character is emerging. 





 


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I certainly hope so. This question has been with me for sometime and I was reminded of it again recently. It was a question that had been put to me many times and this time from a watch industry professional. It is very difficult to reply regardless whether one intends to tell the truth or to lie - for both will have negative consequences.

So what is that question? It is simply -- "How many watches do you own?" For all intents and purposes, especially for some this question is as polite as asking, "How much do you earn?" It is probably an innocent enough question for the uninitiated. But for the collector it can be embarrassing number (either too many or  too few - because there is no such thing as just the right number).

For me personally, unfortunately - there is no number that would not be embarrassing. There were times when I decided to be honest, I got responses of incredulity that I was giving an unbelievably small number and others that I was out of control and have too many to be rational. Worse still, the two dreaded follow on questions - "What are your watches you own" and "How much are they worth?"

In aid of good social graces and for proper conduct of conversation with watch collectors, non collectors please be aware of the boundaries and realise such questions put collectors into a difficult position. Avoid the faux pas of asking such questions if you do not intend to put your foot in it. Unless of course that is your intent.

For the collectors, here is my suggestion which I shall share - learnt from years of having been asked this and similar questions. Simply reply with a polite smile and say, "I hope you will not be offended if I did not answer that question." or if the moment and questioner warrants it, "Even my wife does not know, why should you?" Hopefully, that should give you enough pause to make a quick exit - or change the subject.

- HT

 


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I just found this webpage on CNET News. A website I regularly read to update myself on all things tech. But when I found this page, it made me pause - only because I was not able to see the connection of luxury independent mechanical watchmaking with new high tech. Is this an expansion of the interest covered by CNET or is this much more important development that needs further consideration? Clearly the atmospheric prices of these luxury rare pieces is going to be of little interest to a rare few regulars of CNET (just note the comments left behind on the page). But it does seem that this page is buried under the category of "Crave" inside CNET. Nevertheless, CNET reaches out to a huge worldwide audience and Vianney's Deep Space Tourbillon - as I mentioned in earlier posts - will touch the techies and especially trekkie techies.

You can tell these trekkie techies at CNET aren't serious watch aficionados. Their by-line called the watch Deep Space 9 Tourbillon. Clearly, the official name sans the 9.

CNET NEWS on VH DEEP SPACE

 


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Professor Massimiliano Landi was at the small private dinner with Vianney Halter who tried on the watch and allowed me to capture him with it. For a 46mm watch, it look surprisingly well proportioned on his average sized wrist. The Deep Space Tourbillon however is a very tall watch due to the huge convex crystal. One needs to be extra careful with it as I suspect the cost of replacing the crystal could be prohibitive. 


The other known watch that has similar tall convex crystal is the MB&F Legacy Machine 1. Both are completely different watches in terms of design philosophy and intended market. 

I find it curious that MB&F is a brand that has been described by its founder as having been strongly influenced by Star Trek design concepts as was Vianney's Deep Space Tourbillon. Gene Roddenberry's legacy to entertainment and science fiction continues to grow with new generation of followers (with the re-release of the franchise of the original series in new time frame in the movie cinemas). Now, manifested in high horology with more than one revered brand. I cannot wait to see how other models are being conceived with Star Trek influence.

I am sure Gene Roddenberry would approve.

HT

 


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In person Vianney is an enigma to many. One moment he is cool, relaxed, smiling and gregarious. In an instant,  he would let his intensity and artistic sensibility come out - especially when he speaks about philosophy, thought, art and all things he has passion for. He would readily share his thoughts on many aspects about horology and in particular how he finds inspiration for his designs. Though he is not a natural English speaker, he would enter into long discussions in this unfamiliar language. One cannot miss his passion and his desire to communicate his thought process. 

It has been five years since his last visit here and this time he made time to for a sitting for me to capture a series of portraits. This time I endeavoured to capture that quiet intensity from his eyes - which the decades passing has clearly not dimmed. (Click on the collage to view it in large resolution)


 


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It has been seven years since Vianney launched a new watch but the new Deep Space Tourbillon is worth of the wait. Not one to launch a watch unless he is certain it has all the core elements of his artistic sensibilities, this new watch is Vianney's tribute to his latest inspiration - Star Trek Deep Space Nine space station. 


A triple tourbillon is at the heart of the watch - with its escapement rotating on three axis. The movement drives the unique hour and minute hands that rotates from the edges of the dial instead of centre pivoted hands found in most watches. 

The concept of tourbillon is the mechanical solution to compensate the effect of gravity. The tourbillon rotates the oscillating balance wheel so that the impact of gravity is reduced. Vianney's triple axis adds two additional rotational pivots - the first axis is the tourbillon cage that completes a rotation in 40 seconds. The second axis is the whole bridge that rotates completely in 6 minutes. The third axis is the rotation of the large blue ring that whole bridge sits on. This takes 30 minutes for a full rotation. 

Clearly there is no gravity in outer space and artificial gravity in fictional space travel has not been invented yet. Nevertheless, the engineering needed to create a three axis tourbillon is quite complex, should prove to be an amazingly accurate timepiece - to compensate and even out any and all gravitational forces. However, I anticipate that those who acquire this watch will not be looking for a timekeeper but a mechanical marvel for those who admire horological milestones.  


The Hour Glass retail price of this watch is SGD$291,000.

 The Deep Space case is at a wearable 46mm, made of titanium (with a titanium folding clasp) with a huge deep convex sapphire crystal. The convex crystal is quite impressive and superbly coated with anti reflective material. It is though probably the most vulnerable aspect of this watch as it is quite tall.

The movement itself is fitted with 41 jewels to manage the complex moving parts, features 55 hours of power reserve. It comes with a unique black combination strap of calf leather inlaid with alligator scales.


The watch shown here on its creator's wrist, Mr Vianney Halter himself who modelled the watch for me during his visit here in Singapore to launch the watch with The Hour Glass.

Is this watch worthy to be described as the Watch of 2013? From my brief time with the watch in the metal and photographing the details, anyone who is familiar with Vianney Halter watches would easily conclude that this watch does not have any design (or at the most very little - save the crown) or engineeering connection with any of the earlier Vianney models. But this design and engineering step away from the first two decades of his watch design may very well be a positive and effective step to garnering a wider audience of collectors. I think the concept is brave and the execution is breathtaking. This will be one of the watches that I know will be the envy of those who could not get their hands on one.

It may be just coincidental but this watch may well be a stroke of genius for the Vianney brand. In a world where the geeks and nerds of the 70s and 80s now own and rule much of the technological businesses - and many of them are closet trekkies - I suspect those and the gizmodo followers will be queueing up for this pricey piece of horological nirvana. 

HT

 





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