Saturday, 19 April 2014

Hands-On with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931 Chocolate, Plus a Rare Vintage Reverso for Walser Wald (with live photos and pricing)

Jaeger-LeCoultre recently added the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931 Chocolate to its successful range of oversized, slim Reverso watches modelled on the vintage originals. The new chocolate Reverso 1931 takes after the faded brown dials found on some specimens.

Since its launch the bestselling Reverso 1931 has evolved into a plethora of different models, ranging from an enamelled skeleton to the twin-time zone Duoface, all with the same large but slim proportions. The latest addition to the collection is the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931 Chocolate, which like the Reverso Rouge, is inspired by a vintage Reverso.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Introducing Two F.P. Journe Limited Editions for 50 Years of France-China Relations (with specs and pricing)

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and France, F.P. Journe has created a pair of limited edition watches, a blue dial Octa Automatique Lune and an Elégante with a jade dial.

F.P. Journe is the official watchmaker of France-China 50, a series of events throughout 2014 held to commemorate 50 years of diplomatic ties between France and China. Though his eponymous brand is based in Switzerland, François-Paul Journe himself was born in Marseilles, and counts French horologists Breguet and Janvier amongst his inspirations.

In a period where there seem to be almost as many limited edition watches for the Chinese market as there are people in the Middle Kingdom, F.P. Journe has created a pair of limited edition watches with the subtlest of references to the target market (Zenith's most recent release was the polar opposite).

Introducing the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic 1958 Limited Edition (with specs and price)

Jaeger-LeCoultre has remade its Geophysic chronometer as a limited edition, sticking closely to the aesthetics of the original but injecting modern features like a larger diameter and the self-winding calibre 898 movement.

In 1958 Jaeger-LeCoultre unveiled the original Geophysic to coincide with the International Geophysical Year (IGY). Resistant to magnetism and equipped with the 478BWSbr movement JLC used in its Royal Air Force pilots' watches, the Geophysic was conceived as a precise, durable and no-nonsense chronometer for the explorers and scientists taking part in the expeditions during the IGY.

JLC has just unveiled a remake of the Geophysic, applying the same formula it used for the successful Reverso 1931 - an accessibly priced, vintage-style timepiece equipped with stock, modern movement. 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Introducing the Zenith Christophe Colomb Hurricane Revolución, Starring Simón Bolívar, Che Guevara and Emiliano Zapata (with specs and pricing)

Latin America's most famous revolutionaries - Simón Bolívar, Che Guevara and Emiliano Zapata - form the motif of the Zenith Christophe Colomb Hurricane Revolución, equipped with a gyroscopic escapement as well as a chain and fusée mechanism.

There is a great deal of irony in the latest versions of the Christophe Colomb Hurricane, the most complicated timepiece from Zenith, whose CEO will soon decamp for Rolex. This trio of timepieces, which retail for just over US$400,000 each, commemorate three legendary liberators of Latin American, an important market for Zenith, with Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Emiliano Zapata and Simón Bolívar immortalised in colourful relief.

Monday, 14 April 2014

NEWS: Jean-Frédéric Dufour Appointed New CEO of Rolex

Rolex has appointed Jean-Frédéric Dufour its incoming CEO, putting him in charge of the world's largest luxury watchmaker. Dufour, who currently runs Zenith, will succeed Gian Riccardo Marini, who took over Rolex only in 2011.

Jean-Frédéric Dufour

According to Swiss newspaper Le Temps Rolex employees were informed on Monday morning that Jean-Frédéric Dufour will take over as Director-General (the equivalent of Chief Executive Officer) of Rolex, departing the same role at Zenith. He will replace Gian Riccardo Marini as head of the largest luxury watch brand in the world, which produced some 800,000 watches in 2013.

For Rolex, a company regarded as a paragon of stability, Dufour will be the fourth CEO since 2008. That was when Patrick Heiniger, who inherited the title from his father and reigned at Rolex for 16 years, abruptly departed Rolex “to pursue personal interests”. At that same time, Rolex also publicly denied reports that it had lost a large sum of money with fraudster Bernard Madoff.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Hands-On with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Perpetual Calendar 8 Days Skeleton (with live photos and pricing)

A combination of the twin crafts of enamelling and skeletonisation, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Perpetual Calendar 8 Days Skeleton is the most elaborately decorated perpetual calendar yet to emerge from the manufacture.

Inspired by a Jaeger-LeCoultre skeleton pocket watch with a blue enamelled case from 1928, the Master Grande Tradition à Quantième Perpétuel 8 jours SQ features an open-worked movement, and grand feu enamel chapter rings - on the front and back of the watch. Unveiled at SIHH 2014, this demonstrates the degree to which Jaeger-LeCoultre is vertically integrated, with both the enamelling and skeletonisation are done in-house. 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Win a Baume & Mercier Clifton Automatic in its "Special Moments" Social Media Contest

Baume & Mercier has just announced a contest, which will take place on social media platforms, to mark the start of its new "special moments" ad campaign shot by Peter Lindbergh, with the top prize a Baume & Mercier Clifton automatic.

Shot by noted German photographer Peter Lindbergh, the new Baume & Mercier ad campaign has just gotten underway. To create some buzz for the campaign, Baume & Mercier has also organised a social media contest with a first prize of a Baume & Mercier Clifton automatic small seconds watch (model 10052), which has a US$2700 retail price.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

A Hands-On, In-Depth Guide to the New Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 42 mm Ref. 26470 (with live photos and price)

Presented at SIHH 2014, the new Royal Oak Offshore Ref. 26470 is the first major and complete revamp of the classic 42 mm Offshore since its introduction. Audemars Piguet kept all the key elements of the watch, but made several vital improvements, leaving it much the same, but better.

Audemars Piguet launched the Royal Oak Offshore in 1993 as a larger, sportier version of its classic Royal Oak. It took a while for the Offshore to catch on, but eventually it became one of the horological status symbols of the last decade. 

Though the Offshore multiplied into dozens upon dozens of variations in recent years, the basic 42 mm Offshore remained fundamentally the same. And so it was high time for a revamp, which happened at SIHH 2014 with the new Royal Oak Offshore 42 mm Ref. 26470, a tangibly better watch than its predecessor.

Monday, 7 April 2014

FEATURE: A Guide to Swiss Watch Certification and Testing, From COSC to Chronometrique+

Many watches are certified, for various qualities like accuracy, durability and water-resistance, by independent agencies, ranging from COSC to TIMELAB. These certifications are proof of watchmaking and chronometric excellence, with a sprinkle of savvy marketing. Here's a handy guide to the most important Swiss watch certificates. 

All watch brands conduct product quality testing in-house to make sure their watches work as they should. Some, however, go the extra mile and get their watches certified by external bodies, for that extra cachet. That mile might not actually be that far, because the external testing varies in duration, ardour and comprehensiveness.

The best known and most widely used are COSC at the mass-market level and the Geneva Seal, which is issued by TIMELAB, for high-end watches made in Geneva. While TIMELAB not too long ago updated the criteria for the Geneva Seal, keeping it appropriately rigorous for a luxury watch, market leader COSC has remained constant for decades. 

Friday, 4 April 2014

Announcing Chronometric+ Observatory, a New, Comprehensive Swiss Wristwatch Certification

TIMELAB, the body that administers the Geneva Seal, has just announced Chronometric+ Observatory, a new certification standard that tests for both timekeeping as well as reliability, in finished wristwatches. Open to all watches in Switzerland, Observatoire Chronométrique+ is an ostensible rival to chronometry giant COSC.

Operating under the authority of the Cantonal government of Geneva, TIMELAB has just unveiled Observatoire Chronométrique+, a new certificate that is open to all Swiss made watches. Chronometric+ Observatory is a comprehensive certification, covering both chronometry - watches are tested to the same standard as COSC uses - and also functional aspects like water-resistance, power reserve and so on.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Rolex Daytona Platinum with Diamond Bezel and Dial 116576 TBR (with specs and price)

The new Rolex Cosmograph Daytona has everything that makes a Rolex expensive - a platinum case with a matching platinum bracelet, a baguette diamond bezel and diamond pave dial.

Last year Rolex unveiled the first ever Daytona in platinum, complete with a beautifully crafted platinum bracelet. This year at Baselworld 2014 Rolex presents the same, but with diamonds set on the bezel and dial. For those who thought last year's Daytona was not enough, the new Daytona with diamonds (ref. 116576 TBR) should do the trick.

Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Grand Seiko 1964 Self-Dater Remake in Spring Drive and High-Precision Quartz (with specs and price)

Distinguished by its wide and flat lugs, the Grand Seiko "Self-Dater" of 1964 provides the template for five new Grand Seiko models in 2014, including both Spring Drive and high-precision 9F quartz models.

Introduced in 1964, the Grand Seiko 57GS, nicknamed "Self-Dater", was the first Grand Seiko with a date function. Its most striking design element was the broad and flat lugs, making it appear larger than its smallish 36.5 mm. With that as an inspiration, Seiko has unveiled five new Grand Seiko models at Baselworld 2014, all based on the 1964 Self-Dater.

Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Omega De Ville Trésor, Retro Fifties Elegance with an Antimagnetic, Co-Axial Movement (with specs and pricing)

Inspired by the fifties model of the same name, the Omega De Ville Trésor is a slim, vintage style wristwatch featuring a non-magnetic, Master Co-Axial movement that is, unusually for a modern Omega, manually wound.

The Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial is not the only new Omega at Baselworld 2014 that looks to the past. With the aesthetics of mid-twentieth century wristwatches, the Omega De Ville Trésor is an elegant 40 mm wide, with a thin bezel, hobnail guilloche dial and a box-shaped sapphire crystal.

Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Chopard L.U.C 8HF Power Control, in Black Ceramic and Running at 57,600 bph (with specs and price)

Chopard has given its ultra-high frequency movement a striking, modern look, with a black ceramic case and red accents, available as the 250-piece limited edition L.U.C 8HF Power Control.

Chopard was amongst the first brands to create a serially produced, ultra-high beat movement when it presented the L.U.C 8HF back in 2012. Running at 8 Hz or 57,600 beats per hour (bph), the L.U.C Calibre 01.09-L movement returns at Baselworld 2014, inside the L.U.C 8HF Power Control.

Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Seiko Prospex Air Diver "Monster" in Black PVD, SRP581 and SRP583 (with specs and price)

As Seiko brings its Prospex line global in 2014, it has introduced new Prospex "Monster" Air Diver watches featuring black PVD coated cases and 4R36 automatic movements.

For the first time Seiko will distribute its Prospex line outside of Japan starting in 2014, and one of the new models for this global push is the Prospex Air Diver 200 m "Monster". The Prospex Monster has the same specs as the other Monster watches powered by the 4R36 movement, but it features new case colours as well as the redesigned Prospex logo on the dial.

Baselworld 2014: Presenting the Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT "Tuna" Diver (with specs and pricing)

Seiko has unveiled the Prospex Kinetic GMT Diver, featuring an updated "tuna" shrouded case and an electro-mechanical Kinetic movement with second time zone. This model is amongst the first new Prospex watches which will now be available worldwide.

An abbreviation of "professional specification", the Seiko Prospex line of sports watches for rigorous activities on land, in the air as well as under water. Prospex gets a new logo and goes global in 2014 - previously available only in Japan, the Prospex line will now be sold worldwide. One of the key new Prospex models presented at Baselworld 2014 is the Kinetic GMT "Tuna" Diver.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Baselworld 2014: Presenting the Girard-Perregaux Tri-Axial Tourbillon, the Most Complex Tourbillon Ever from GP (with specs and pricing)

Girard-Perregaux, a brand famous for its tourbillons, has revealed its most complicated tourbillon ever, the Tri-Axial Tourbillon, with 140-part tourbillon rotating on three axes under a sapphire bubble.

Maker of the iconic Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges, Girard-Perregaux has gone a step, or rather an axis, further with its new Tri-Axial Tourbillon, which we previewed here before Baselworld 2014. Already having a double axis tourbillon in its line-up, a triple axis tourbillon was the predictable and necessary next step, given Girard-Perregaux's strong association with the complication.

Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 11 45th Anniversary in Titanium and Rose Gold (with specs and pricing)

For the 45th anniversary of the first moon landing in 1969, Omega has created a limited edition Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch in titanium and rose gold, with a laser etched black PVD dial.

The first men to land on the moon famously did so with the Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch on their wrists. It's 45 years since the lunar landing naturally at Baselworld 2014 Omega unveiled a limited edition to commemorate the Apollo 11 mission. 

Joining the dozens of Speedmaster limited editions created over the years, the Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Limited Edition has features unusual for a Speedmaster Moonwatch: a titanium and Sedna gold case fitted to a NATO strap.

Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Revamped Rolex Cellini Collection, New Designs and New Movements

Just introduced at Baselworld, the new Cellini collection features an entirely new design with fluted bezels and guilloche dials. The line-up offers three new models, ranging from a time-only to a dual time with day and night indicator.

Conceived as a more formal wristwatch than the all conquering Rolex Oyster, the diverse and perhaps confusing Cellini has been in existence for as long as anyone can remember, but never did catch on. Baselworld 2014 sees the unveiling a new Cellini line, featuring classical but distinctive designs as well as several new movements.

Baselworld 2014: Introducing the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre CH 80 Chronograph - Vintage Style Chrono with New In-House Movement for Under $6000 (with specs and price)

The new TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre CH 80 Chronograph is the first timepiece to feature the brand's first in-house chronograph movement, the CH 80 which boasts a column wheel, vertical clutch and 80 hour power reserve.

Baselworld 2014 sees TAG Heuer unveil its first in-house chronograph movement, the CH 80. Named after the town of Chevenez in the Jura where it is made, with the 80 a reference to its power reserve, the CH 80 is a key step in TAG Heuer's plan of complete vertical integration. The CH 80 makes it debut in the Carrera Calibre CH 80 Chronograph, a vintage style driver's chronograph inspired by the original "panda" dial Carrera watches of the sixties.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Baselworld 2014: Introducing New Dials for the Rolex Sky-Dweller Annual Calendar, Including White Gold with a Black Dial

Rolex is filling out the Sky-Dweller collection with new variants, including one in white gold with a black dial, the most modern looking version of the Rolex annual calendar yet.

Two years ago Rolex unveiled its most complicated watch yet, the Sky-Dweller, an extremely impressive and cleverly engineered annual calendar with second time zone function. A breeze to operate and adjust, the Sky-Dweller has a function selector bezel that allows everything to be done via the crown. 

But the first three Sky-Dweller timepieces were large, shiny in a somewhat outdated ostentatious style. At Baselworld 2014 Rolex added three new Sky-Dweller variants to the line-up, fortunately including one in white gold with a black dial (ref. 326139) on a black alligator strap.

Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat GMT, the First 36,000 bph GS GMT (with specs and pricing)

Seiko has just announced the first high beat Grand Seiko GMT, equipped with the newly developed 9S86 automatic movement running at 36,000 bph, inside the larger, 44GS type case.

The flagship product of the Grand Seiko line-up at Baselworld 2014, the new Grand Seiko Hi-Beat GMT is the most complicated mechanical (as opposed to Spring Drive) Grand Seiko timepiece yet. It features the new 9S86 movement, which combines a second time zone function with the high beat escapement, combined with the 44GS style case unveiled last year.

Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Hermès Dressage L'heure masquée, a Dual Time Zone with a Secret Hour Hand (with specs and price)

The latest from Hermès is the Dressage L'heure masquée, a novel timepiece with a secret hour hand as well as second time zone, both of which are revealed on demand, powered by the proprietary H1925 movement.

Three years ago Hermès presented the Arceau Le Temps suspendu, a watch that suspended time until the wearer demanded it. This year at Baselworld 2014 Hermès has introduced a watch with a similarly whimsical time display, the Dressage L'heure masquée. Both the hour hand and GMT display remain hidden until the crown is pressed, before disappearing when the pusher is released.

Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial - Remaking a Classic with the Latest Tech (with specs and pricing)

Omega has just unveiled a reissue of the Seamaster 300, its first modern dive watch. Faithful to the fifties original in style, the new Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial has all the latest in Omega innovations, including a anti-magnetic movement as well as a ceramic bezel and dial.

In 1957 Omega presented the Seamaster 300 CK2913, its first professional dive watch and one collectors regard as a true classic. Omega has remade - and re-engineered - that classic and presented it at Baselworld 2014 as the Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial. 

The new Seamaster 300 is not just an aesthetic exercise in revisiting the past. Though it sticks to the classic design of the original, including the straight lugs, arrow hands and Arabic numerals, it is equipped with the newest in Omega watchmaking.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Entry Level Rolex Oyster Perpetual, Now with New Metallic Dial Colours (with specs and pricing)

Rolex has unveiled a series of metallic finish dials for its no-frills Oyster Perpetual watches, giving an otherwise conservative and almost old-fashioned timepiece striking new colours.

The Oyster Perpetual is the base model in the Rolex Oyster line-up, which includes watches like the Sea-Dweller and Milgauss. Being the entry level timepieces, the Oyster Perpetual tells only the time, and features only the Rolex basics like the Oyster case and an in-house automatic movement. 

But the Oyster Perpetual has just been given a facelift, with striking new dial options in bright metallic finishes in colours like the purple "Red Grape" (pictured above).