Category Archives: watch/ wristwatch

Glashütte Original Senator Chronograph Panorama Date

When it comes to watches from Glashütte, the vast majority of them are either classical pieces in precious metal cases or Bauhaus-inspired designs. In this, the steel Senator Chronograph Panorama Date by Glashütte Original stands apart in more than one way.

It begins with its movement. First released in 2014, Calibre 37 is an integrated chronograph which Glashütte Original developed and makes entirely in-house. Integrated means that it is not a base movement with a chronograph module mounted on top of it, but rather a movement that was made to be a chronograph from the beginning. Because of this, you can admire all the parts that support the chronograph through the sapphire glass case back, this includes the column-wheel.

The movement is fitted with a central rotor which is skeletonized and has a 21K gold segment screwed into it for added weight. A swan neck regulator and blued screws complement the typical Glashütte finish of this in-house caliber. The power reserve is 70 hours, which is quite generous and helps to further set this watch apart in the highly contested field of high-end chronographs.

As important as it is, the movement is only part of the equation. It is the 42mm steel case that puts this chronograph right into the sweet spot. Although precious metal chronographs are still in demand, steel versions are often the hot-sellers of many brands. It is an interesting part of the market of which any Haute Horlogerie brand wants a slice.

The case of the Senator Chronograph Panorama Date surrounds the black dial which is a satisfying mix of vintage and modern elements. The two Roman numerals give it a slightly classic look, but by filling this, as well as the other hour markers and the hands, with luminova, they get a modern edge. The sub dials are spaced out perfectly, and the panorama date (which sounds so much better than big or large date) is well positioned at six o’clock. A power reserve indicator is integrated into the subdial for the seconds at nine o’clock.

Although available on a metal bracelet and a leather strap, I thought that it looked especially good on the rubber strap with herringbone motive. The result is a very enticing chronograph that gives you that legendary Glashütte design and build quality in a very competitive package.

F.P. Journe Centigraphe Sport Titane

A titanium chronograph doesn’t sound like something François-Paul Journe would make, yet he does, but of course, it is not just any titanium chronograph. The Centigraphe Sport was initially launched in 2011 in aluminum. Although very light, it is also quite soft, and that is not always an advantage when you are making watches. Eventually, Journe switched over to titanium, renaming the watch Centigraphe Sport Titane.

Light weight was important in the creation of this watch. The lighter it is, the more comfortable it wears, and that is especially important when you are doing activities for which a sports watch is created. That is why the movement inside the Centigraphe Sport doesn’t feature the usual gold main plate and bridges but are they instead made of an aluminum alloy.

This is not the only focus on active use that Journe put into the watch. The chronograph is not operated by the usual pushers on the side of the case, but rather by a patented rocker. Allowing for easy operation, while at the same time it keeps the design of the watch more ergonomic. When you start the chronograph, you will notice how special it is, as the hand on the subdial between nine and eleven o’clock makes a full rotation in one second. This allows the owner to measure up to 1/100th of a second. Even with the chronograph continuously running does the Centigraphe Sport Titane have a power reserve of 24 hours. With the chronograph off it is 80 hours.

Because functionality was the aim when designing this watch, it is only 34.4 mm in diameter. This is rather small for a sports chronograph, but again it will greatly improve wearing comfort as well as the maneuverability of the wrist. This is also why the case and all the bracelet segments are polished smooth, and the dial is very easy to read despite providing the owner with quite some information. Even there Journe found space to make it extra special, by leaving a small opening in each subdial so that you have a sneak peak into the movement underneath.

However, what makes the F.P. Journe Centigraphe Sport really so special is that you get in essence a very serious sports watch, yet with that famed Journe craftsmanship and finish. Just like any other of his watches is also the Centigraphe Sport made by hand in his manufacture in Geneva.

The Death of Two-Tone

The latest edition of Baselworld confirmed the obvious: two-tone is dead! Where generally at least a few brand carry the steel-gold variety, now there were no prominent watches offered in this combination. The exception to this rule is, however, Rolex, who introduced the Sky-Dweller not only in steel but also in steel-gold.

So why did Rolex launch one of their most complicated, and may we say landmark, new models in a combination of metal’s that seems to be out of fashion? Because for Rolex steel-gold has traditionally been an important part of the brand identity. They even have a name of their own for it: Rolesor. In a way, Two-Tone watches represent what Rolex is standing for. On the steel-side, they are robust, with their waterproof Oyster-cases and overengineered movements. On the gold-side, they are probably the most recognized watch in the world, and with the exception of the sports models, they always have this well-dressed look about them.

Two-Tone is also a bridge between the steel and full-gold models. They offer a more luxurious look over steel, yet with a far more friendlier price tag than the all gold model. It is a watch for people who want the best of both worlds, as well as a look that has become almost synonymous with Rolex.

Traditionally Rolex offers their Rolesor models with a champagne colored dial (although there are most certainly other options available). This enhances the gold-look of the watch, and quite frankly, also the Rolex-factor. It has a velvet look to it, and the ring for the second time zone is made in the same color. The date is kept in a lighter color so it is easy to read, although I would have loved to see it with the same champagne background as Rolex used to do with this type of dial. That being said, it adds a little bit of a more sportive feel to it, as it corresponds with the luminova filled hour indexes, as well as the white indicators of the annual calendar.

Rolex also has always been disconnected with fashion, and rather creates it own. That is why it seemingly pays very little attention to what other brands are doing, but rather focusses on their own customers. These customers have long been pleased by a brand that might be called conservative, yet shows time and time again how well in touch it is with its own DNA. And that DNA includes two-tone watches, even when this category is more of less dead to the rest of the industry.

Having A Ball With Dior Timepieces

When Christian Dior presented his first haute couture collection in Paris on February 12 1947, he revolutionised taste and style in the world of ladies’ fashion. The planet was recovering from the Second World War and the predominant austere, masculine look that came with it. With the New Look collection, and the Bar Suit in particular with tight-fitting waist and padded hips, Dior brought back a blatant return to femininity that was both seductive and distinguished. Luxurious fabrics were reintroduced, and the ball gown came back as part of the celebrations.

At Baselworld 2017, Dior Timepieces enchanted us with their latest watches from the Dior Grand Bal collection, presented amid a charming display of 22 reduced models of real ball gowns created by the House of Dior, from Monsieur Dior until Maria Grazia Chiuri’s collection this year.
Each timepiece comes in a 36 mm case equipped with the automatic movement “Dior Inversé 11 ½” calibre, with functions of hours and minutes and a power reserve of 42 hours. The remarkable 360° functional oscillating weight placed on top of the dial is reminiscent of the swirling of a ball gown.

The two pieces shown above are part of the Dior Grand Bal Plume (Feather) collection, with, on the left, the Dior Grand Bal Plume Aventurine in steel and pink gold. Diamonds set the bezel while pink sapphires set the centre of the gorgeous blue aventurine dial. Note the oscillating weight made of real feathers! A strap in shiny blue alligator with diamond-set steel prong buckle completes this timepiece that carries a total of 137 diamonds and 83 pink sapphires.
Next to it, the Dior Grand Bal Plume Malachite in steel and yellow gold, is set with 137 diamonds and 83 tsavorite garnets, this time on a malachite dial with feather oscillating weight. The matching strap is in shiny green alligator.
In limited editions of 88 pieces each, priced at EUR25,000 for the aventurine version and EUR28,000 for the malachite, you will have to wait until June 2017 to see them in stores.
Here’s a close-up of the aventurine dial and feather weight:

The three timepieces below have fascinating, unique dials made of Australian white opal marquetry with polished, metallized and hand-engraved gold. With diamond-set crowns, bezels, and prong buckles on their straps, their casebacks are engraved and also diamond-set. Each is a one-of-a-kind piece from the Dior Grand Bal Galaxie collection, and comes with an extra black satin strap.

On the left, the Dior Grand Bal Galaxie Cygnus Gold is made of palladium, white and pink gold, and set with 401 diamonds and 115 pink sapphires. A pink to black-shaded patent calfskin strap complements the dial.
In the middle, the Dior Grand Bal Galaxie Dorado comes in yellow and pink gold, set with 256 diamonds. The matching strap is in yellow to black-shaded patent calfskin.
And on the right, the Dior Grand Bal Galaxie Draco is in palladium, white gold and pink gold, set with 235 diamonds and enhanced with a fushia to black-shaded patent calfskin strap.
These pieces are available now, with prices on request.

Dior Timepieces are designed in Paris to be at the centre of Dior creativity, and developed and manufactured at Les Ateliers Dior SA in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. CEO of Dior Timepieces and Jewellery Laurence Nicolas once told me it took Les Ateliers in Switzerland 6 months to find the right feathers from the right roosters to create the feather-made oscillating weight for the Grand Bal Plumes. “That’s French inspiration with Swiss precision!” she smiled.

Breitling Duograph owned by Formula One Champion Jack Brabham

Celebrity owned watches always seem to obtain a premium in regards to price, especially when the watch itself is desirable as well, and comes with quite a large dose of pedigree. That was the case of the Breitling Duograph that Phillips auctioned last year, and was previous the property of three-times Formula One Champion Jack Brabham.

Brabham made especially a name for himself for being the only Formula One driver to ever win a championship in a car that bears his own name. An accomplishment that I don’t see repeated anytime soon. In 1960 he was gifted this Breitling Duograph after winning the Championship in that year.
Jack Brabham in action in 1970 at Brands Hatch

Housed in a steel case of 38.5mm of diameter, the design of this Breitling is very clean and to the point. It does feature, however, a split-second complication, making it to one of the coveted Breitlings of its era. The same can be said of the movement that powers this watch. Venus caliber 185 was a manual wind split-second chronograph, fitted with a column wheel and a Breguet spiral mainspring. It was considered one of the prime chronograph movements of its time. It is also a complication that Breitling recently revived in its collection with the Navitimer Rattrapante.

Interesting is that it seems as if the chronograph only has two pushers, while the Venus caliber 185 is calibrated to have three. The third one stops one of the second’s hands and is located in the crown. When you look carefully, you can see that Breitling placed the entire crown slightly away from the case, acting as a whole for the pusher of the split-second function of the watch.

Brabham passed away in May of 2014 at the age of 88, leaving behind a legacy, as well as this watch. The amazing condition of it, either points out that he was a very careful owner, or safely stored the watch away. Either way, it is a great example of how an amazing watch can elevate to even higher grounds due to an impressive provenance.

Ulysse Nardin and the Art of a “simple” Tourbillon

There was a time when tourbillon’s where a rare and precious complication. While they are still precious, rare has gotten a different meaning. While you still don’t see them that often of the wrist of people, many brands have at least one model with a tourbillon, most of them even several. It has become significantly more difficult for brands to stand out with a tourbillon watch. Some respond to this by adding more tourbillon’s or give it multiple axes to rotate around. Ulysse Nardin did it differently and dedicated to showing us the art of the “simple” tourbillon, with the Marine Tourbillon Grand Feu Enamel.

Mind you, the term simple only applies here on the look fo the watch, which is rather understated and non-pretentious, especially for a tourbillon. It starts off by forgoing precious metals and selecting stainless steel to craft the 43mm case of the Marine Tourbillon Grand Feu Enamel from. While the added value in this can be found in the fact that it makes the watch more robust, it also doesn’t draw away too much attention from the dial.

That dial is made of grand feu enamel and looks as pure as freshly fallen snow. Ulysse Nardin knows to highlight this even more with the stretched out Roman numerals on the dial. The power reserve indicator at twelve o’clock brings some color to the dial with its red accents, and prevent it from becoming too “simple” in design. The six o’clock position is reserved for the tourbillon.

Ulysse Nardin visually shielded the tourbillon so that you cannot see the rest of the movement. They don’t have anything to hide, but a well finished manufacture movement, but more so wanted to highlight the tourbillon itself. It is a flying tourbillon, meaning that there is no bridge on top of it, blocking the view and of course is it fitted with Ulysse Nardin’s Silicium escapement and spring. The movement itself is automatic, with a beautiful rotor featuring the Ulysse Nardin logo between two anchors, and provides a generous power reserve of 60 hours.

In all its beauty, the Marine Tourbillon Grand Feu Enamel is, in fact, a very practical watch, something we cannot say of every tourbillon. Daily wear, even when you have an active lifestyle, should not be a problem. Not only for the stainless steel case but also because it is water resistant to 100 meters. While the blued hands look quite classical, they are filled with SuperLumiNova, making the time easy to read, even in low-light conditions.

Of course, such splendor comes with a price-tag. With 28.000 CHF it is one of the most competitive priced Swiss tourbillon’s, especially when you take into consideration the Chronometer certified manufacture movement, grand feu enamel dial, and overall high-quality finish. In fact, Ulysse Nardin is not only showing us the art of creating a “simple” tourbillon but is rather giving us a lesson on how to do this well. Class adjourned!

Breitling Avenger Hurricane Military

Breitling is no stranger to delivering watches to military units, and we are not only talking Air Force here. Their watches are equally appreciated by other branches of the armed forces. With the new Avenger Hurricane Military, the brand pays tribute to this heritage, and to those who serve.

Part of a 1.000 piece limited edition the Avenger Hurricane Military looks all business. Its case is crafted from Breitlight. This is an high-tech material exclusively developed for Breitling. It is 3.3 times lighter than titanium, yet harder than steel. This makes it also highly resistance against scratches, while at the same time the material is alto anti-allergenic and anti-magnetic.

Its light weight allowed Breitling to make this chronograph 50mm in diameter, allowing for superb visibility. The numerals on the dial feature a stenciled, military look, and although Breitling themselves look at the yellow-beige color of them as being vintage inspired, I see in them the perfect camouflage color for a desert operation, especially combined with the khaki-colored strap. This strap is made from a special high-resistance Military textile fiber.

The 24-hour dial is another reference to Breitling’s military heritage, but also civilians will grow to love it. That grow needs to be taken quite literally, as it will take most people some time to read a 24-hour dial with ease, especially at a glance. Then it turns out that it offers quite a few advantages over a regular 12-hour dial.

The chronograph is powered by Breitling’s manufacture Caliber B12. This Chronometer certified movement runs at 4Hz and has a generous power reserve of 70 hours. The case is water resistant to 100 meters/330 feet, and Breitling paid in particular attention that the crown, chronograph pushers, as well as the rotating bezel,  are easy to operate with gloves on. The sapphire crystal is chambered and glare proofed on both sides, for optimal visibility under all circumstances. The finishing touch on a watch that you definitely want on your wrist when the going gets tough.

Baselworld battle of the dials

Pre-releases from Seiko and now Bell & Ross and Frederique Constant suggest that Baselworld fair might well be sub-titled “new faces”.

Seiko has announced fresh enamel dials for a range of Presage models with Bell & Ross looking to cosmetic surgery for its iconic square watch with graphic lines first released in 2005, and Frederique Constant offering a world-timer.

Bell & Ross has two models in the offing,  a BR03-92 Horograph and BR03-92 Horolum, both 42mm watches they describe – somewhat puzzlingly – as “an invitation to travel”. This is because “their functionalist dials fulfill the mission of displaying time with the utmost efficiency”.

A minimalist Bauhaus-inspired design certainly doesn’t detract from optimum readability, with clean lines and minimal ornamentation adding to the cockpit-instrument feel of things.

As Bell & Ross describes it, “the BR03-92 Horograph reminds us of the clocks in airport terminals with its simple and uncluttered display with clear digits”, while the BR03-92 Horolum “reproduces the codes of runway lighting used to guide pilots night and day”.

Their name is made up by the common root “Horo”, from the Latin “hora” (hour), followed by “graph” (graphics) or “jum”, from the Latin “lumen” (light).

Constant classic

Frederique Constant’s new Classic Worldtimer is more literally a traveller’s watch given it covers 24 zones; the classic in its name is equally fitting.

A picture in rose gold-plated stainless steel, framing a brown-hued dial world map etched with a world map, it could be described as elegant and sophisticated compared with the no-nonsense Bell & Ross entries, but the latter wins on readability at least as far as the local time of day is concerned.

On the other hand the Frederique Constant with its 24 cities on its outer rim offers a clever complication that impressively is entirely controlled and adjusted via the crown.

What both have in common with the Seikos is that what’s new is primarily the fresh but not too radical faces they present, an indication that the trend this year is likely to be be “keep it simple folks”.

Montblanc launches smart watch

Montblanc has become the first multi-product luxury brand to launch a smart watch, with its Android-based Montblanc Summit timepiece to arrive in Australia in May.

Vintage looks and premium materials give the feel of a real watch on the wrist and the timepiece’s display is covered by a slightly curved sapphire glass, a world first in smart watches.

The announcement follows the launch early this week of Tag Heuer’s upgraded Connected watch, an Android device whose first iteration released last year exceeded sales expectations by a factor of three. The new Tag Connected costs $2300; the Montblanc Summit starting price will be €890, which with GST would translate to about $1500. No official price has yet been determined for Australia.

Montblanc’s move is sure to cause a ripple in the tradition-bound watch industry and comes as sales of mechanical watches have been declining month-on-month for more than a year.

Montblanc, founded in Germany in 1906, makes writing instruments, watches and leather goods. The Summit is a 46mm model that brings together the company’s upper-end watchmaking expertise with Google’s latest operating system, Android 2, and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor.

“Nothing compares to the sensation of traditional fine Swiss watchmaking, but in a fast-moving world being able to access all kinds of information digitally has become essential,” said Montblanc International chief executive Jérôme Lambert. “The Summit bridges these two worlds with a simple and highly functional product that gives its owners the freedom to have it all.”

Underscoring Montblanc’s discovery of the digital age, the watch will be sold exclusively online at Mr Porter for two weeks before being available via the Montblanc website and retail outlets.
The Summit borrows features from the Montblanc 1858.

Montblanc’s stated aim was to bring a one-of-a-kind vintage design to the category and inspire a younger generation who appreciate high quality materials and finishes, and who like the feeling of a mechanical watch on the wrist.

The brand turned to its 1858 collection as the inspiration for the case as well as the dials, which are digitally reproduced on a high-contrast AMOLED​ display.

The case comes in a choice of four different materials and styles —black PVD coated stainless steel, a bi-colour stainless steel case with a black PVD coated stainless steel bezel, stainless steel case with satinated finish and a grade 5 titanium case also with satinated finish.

Each is fitted with a pusher in the design of the crown from the 1858 collection.

There is a choice of eight straps, from a sporty, water-resistant rubber NATO in black, blue, green or red, to leather numbers from the MontblancPelletteria in Florence – all easily swapped thanks to quick-release spring bars.

Meet the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45

The new Android-based device, designated the TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45, takes the form of a regular watch but one whose lugs, case, strap, and buckle are interchangeable. Uniquely, though, it can accommodate a mechanical movement if the buyer chooses.

Yes, that includes the brand’s COSC-certified 02-T tourbillon if that’s your fancy.

Tag predicts it will sell about 150,000 of the new units, priced in Australia at $2300. It had hoped to sell 20,000 of the launch model but reported sales had reached triple that – about 56,000 – at the end of last year.

The Connected 45 is a distinct step up from the original Tag Connected. Made from satin or polished titanium with additional finishes in gold or ceramic, it comes in 56 different versions, 11 standard models offered instore, 45 others on request.

Jean-Claude Biver, chief executive and president of the watch division of Tag’s parent company LVMH, described the watch as “at the forefront of the latest technologies available in Silicon Valley and, at the same time, a genuine Swiss watch, bearing the Swiss Made label.”

Whether or not it’s the best of both worlds, few watches – if any – are as customisable. The exterior of the watch can be configured to taste as can the dials and displays, while 18 varieties of straps are available, in rubber, natural or grey leather, titanium or ceramic.
Regarding the AMOLED dials, despite being mere displays, some dip convincingly into traditional watch territory referencing historical Heuer designs such as the panda-dialed Carrera, all interchangeable with a single swipe of the finger.

Not satisfied with that?  You can proceed to play across the colour spectrum, changing the look of the metals on the indices down to the tips of the hands – even use a Tag Heuer Studio configurator to co-ordinate your watch to match whatever you’re wearing.

That of course is in addition to the usual smart-watch multi-function displays accessible via a new Android app with a fresh version coming too for Apple’s IOS. That said, Android Wear is the watch’s natural environment.

As to connectivity, there’s Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS and NFC, and the module is water-resistant to 50 metres. There’s 4 GB of storage memory and latest-generation lithium battery technology provides more than 29 hours of power.

For all that Silicon Valley input, the motherboard, the brain and body of the watch are produced in Switzerland, with assembly at Tag’s La Chaux-de-Fonds manufacture. Hence, unlike it’s predecessor, it qualifies for the prized “Swiss Made” certification.