Thursday, 19 December 2013

#22 AP Jules Audemars Openworked Minute Repeater with Jumping Hour.



Jules Audemars Jumping Hour Minute Repeater (26356PT) by Audemars Piguet.

The last few years have indeed been an interesting period in Haute Horlogerie. We have witnessed a number of makers introducing Jumping hours, including Zeitwerk by Lange, which probably is the most 'comparable' piece to this Jules Audemars. 

This exquisite piece features jumping hour with blue central minute hand & second hand at 6 o' clock position. Minute repeaters, although widely regarded as one of the most difficult complications to execute, AP, as one of the pioneers of complicated watchmaking, perfected the mastery through their 'savoir faire'. The highest degree of engineering is complemented by solid platinum casing to produce a sound that is not only loud but also beautiful. 

The architecture of the movement itself is simply mesmerising. Touches of gold and contrasting hand brushed & polished finishing provides the piece with depth.  Moreover, the bridges and the baseplate are sculpted in such a way that it looks as though it's stretching outwards, which I gives the piece its own distinctive flamboyancy. 



 The case measures at 43mm and is accompanied by the highest quality blue hand-stitched crocodile strap. 



The piece features sapphire crystal exhibition back displaying the in-house hand-wound Cal. 2907, which is built with 420 parts and 35 jewels, providing 72 hour power-reserve.
Individual components are hand finished and decorated by the master artisans of Audemars Piguet. (apologies for the fingerprints)



So all-in-all, my verdict is that this is one special piece (I seem to say this for every piece but it's true!). It is crafted and finished at the highest degree, such that you can actually physically see and feel how much attention to detail has gone in to create this piece. Needless to say, it's a very unique piece in its own respect - It's an openworked piece that combines jumping hours with minute hand with a minute repeater, which at least for the moment, you are not going to see elsewhere. Above all, I think this is one of those piece through which you can really experience what Audemars Piguet as a watchmaker stands for - tradition, innovation and attention to detail. The only 'downside' with this piece I suppose is the price with a hefty price tag of GBP 313,720.


I would like to thank Adam at AP for letting me play around with this exceptional piece. (Please feel free to contact me should you be interested in purchasing the piece)


Monday, 9 December 2013

#20 Rolex by Bamford Watch Department


Rolex by Bamford Watch Department

Bamford Watch Department are one of the few renown watch-customisers in the market. They work on some of the finest sports pieces including Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore, Patek Philippe Nautilus and Rolex's. For those of you who are wary or unaware of these customisers, you may think of them as Mansory or Brabus of watches. 

Bamford's general theme is to 'black-out' the pieces and add a bit of 'pop' flavour to the dial. The outer surfaces are coated using their own unique, military-grade PVD. Some of their 'preset' designs are available as well as giving you the option to tailor the design to your taste and preferences.



Below are two Rolex examples (GMT-Master II and Gold Sky-dweller)



Gold Sky-dweller on a lady's wrist.
 The bezel looks absolutely superb - The combination of the groovy gold bezel and Bamford's PVD gives off this unique Black-gold sheen that perfectly complements Bamford's signature lilac blue colour on the dial.

Gold Sky-Dweller on a gent's wrist (Apologies for the fingerprints!)

GMT-Master II 
The dial on this GMT-Master is also a work of art - the Carbon fibre looking dial with contrasting hour markers, fonts and hands are just stunning. 


Strictly speaking, although customisation is purely for cosmetic purposes (Bamford and other customisers do NOT work on the movements, thus the time-keeping aspects are unaffected) and is quite costly, if you are one of those people who do not fancy being generic, Bamford will offer you the leeway. They offer highly flexible customisation without sacrificing quality - Everything from the PVD treatment to dial customisation is completed at the highest standards. More info on www.bamfordwatchdepartment.com



Sunday, 1 December 2013

#19 Hublot La Ferrari MP-05


I was lucky enough to get a hold of one of the maddest pieces in modern horology.
This wonderful piece is still at prototype stage but will come into the market for sale early next year and will be limited to 50 pieces with only 2 coming to the U.K. The Hublot La Ferrari features suspended vertical Tourbillon with 11 barrels, which when fully wound will power the piece for an incredible 50 DAYS! 
It certainly is one special piece both in terms of aesthetics and horology. 





You can see the vertical tourbillon at the front.  


 'blueprint' of MP-05



Thursday, 28 November 2013

#18 Hublot Big Bang Ferrari U.K. limited edition



Hublot Big Bang Ferrari U.K. Limited edition, November 28th 2013.

I once again, had the greatest of pleasure of attending the launch event of the new Hublot Big Bang Ferrari U.K. limited edition at the H.R. Owen Ferrari Atelier, hosted by Ferrari and Marcus Watches. 


The revelation
Marcus Margulies, CEO of Marcus watches (left);  Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot (right)

This is the piece that was unveiled on the night.
Some of the key features of the Hublot Big Bang Ferrari UK limited edition include the in-house Unico chronograph movement (since this is fairly standard within the Big Bang range, I won't go into details with the movement), Titanium case with display back, ceramic bezel and of course the trademark quick-change strap system and black leather strap with Ferrari-red stitching. The case measures at 45mm and the dial is decorated with Ferrari-red hands and hour-markers and the Ferrari Stallion at 9 o'clock position. 




The reset push button with red Ferrari logo




 A bit of party-pooping but just wanted to show how it differs with an Offshore in terms of size. 
The Ferrari Big Bang measures 3mm bigger than the Offshore and it sure does feel much bigger when put on the wrist. Although the piece is quite chunky, it feels quite light because as aforementioned, the case and the bezel are made from titanium and ceramic respectively.






These will retail for 19,900GBP and they are strictly limited to 50 pieces (and obviously will only be available in the U.K.)

To summarise the piece in one sentence - I personally think this is one of the best Hublot's out in the market at this moment. I think it looks great and it feels great when it is on the wrist. If you are thinking of acquiring a Hublot, this piece should seriously be considered.




Friday, 8 November 2013

#17 A couple of pieces from Salon QP



Whilst there were countless number of exceptional time pieces, these two really caught my eyes alongside the MB&F's LM2 and HM5. 

A. Lange & Söhne Grand Lange 1 Lumen (limited edition of 200 pieces)

The only Lange 1 range piece that is luminescent. Part of the dial is semi-transparent, which adds a magical look.
 
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Open-Worked Perpetual Calendar
This is one of the most beautiful open-worked pc's in my opinion. The finishing on the movement is absolutely exquisite, especially on the backside.

Comes in a platinum case with blue croc straps.

(A wrist shot of the Vacheron is on our instagram)

If I had to choose a single dress piece, this one would definitely be on the shortlist!



#16 With MB&F at Marcus



I've had the greatest pleasure of attending the private MB&F event hosted by Marcus before zooming off to Salon QP. Getting my hands on some of the finest, most unique (or shall I say 'MAD') timepieces was an absolute treat but above all, interacting with the man behind these wonderful creations was what made my day. 

Max Büsser, the owner and the creative director of MB&F is a pioneer who is purely driven by his own beliefs and passion. In the world that we are living in, converting one's dreams into reality comes with a hefty price, if not impossible, but Max has done so with full integrity and this is what I think he should be respected for (I hope I am not sounding too cheesy!). Well, at least for me, the story and the philosophy behind MB&F is what I love about them. What's even better is that, this passion of theirs is very frankly reflected in their unique creations and every piece comes with its own story. 
I wish Max and his friends the best luck in their future endeavors and I am already looking forward to the next surprise!
   

Max Büsser
"HM2"
"HM3 Frog"
"HM3"
"HM4"
Their latest creation "HM5 On the Road Again", inspired by the 1970s.

Back of the HM5, displaying the 22k gold 'battle axe' rotor

The engine that powers the new "HM5"




MB&F "Legacy Machine 1", which features dual time


"Legacy Machine 2", kindly modeled by Max himself.
All MB&F pieces are fantastic but I must say, the "LM2" is my pick of the bunch - Everything from the aesthetics to the concept just rings my bell. The "LM2" features double balance wheels hovering on top of the movement, which are just hypnotising. This concept of double balance wheels was floated by Breguet, Berthoud and Janvier  around 250 years ago, picked up by Philippe Dufour through the legendary "duality" in recent years and reinvigorated by MB&F.

The general idea behind the double balance wheel mechanism is to take the average of the two balance wheels beating at two different rates, thereby increase accuracy.


Max (left) and Marcus Margulies (Right), the owner of Marcus watches


The featured pieces are available at Marcus' Bond street store.

I would like to thank Max and everyone at Marcus, especially Alex for a truly insightful night!



Monday, 4 November 2013

#15 SalonQP - The fine watch exhibition





The fifth annual SalonQP will welcome some of the finest watchmakers including: A. Lange & Sohne, Jaeger-LeCoultre, MB&F, Urwerk & Vacheron Constantin just to name a few...


Tickets & more info are available on:



#14 "Remember, remember, the fifth of November"





Royal Oak 15400



Thursday, 31 October 2013

#13 Royal Oak - The Screws





I have come across many instances where people have thought that the screws on the bezel are there purely for design purposes. This 'misconception' generally is sparked because the hexagonal holes on the bezel would not allow the screws to rotate - so quite naturally, it may lead one to think that they're just fixed there with no mechanical functionality. On top of that, what makes this 'mystery' even more convincing is that, yes, the screws are polished 18 carat white gold, which do add to the Royal Oak's beauty by displaying contrasting finish and shine with the brushed bezel - but I am about to tell you that in fact, those eight hexagonal screws serve more than cosmetic duties. 

Besides adding the looks, the screws play a key role in the architecture of the Royal Oak, such that the whole design is in fact patented. 

The screws on the bezel does actually sit in fixed positions and here comes the genious part - the screws on the back of the case are in fact nuts (shown on the top part of the image right below). 


image source: timezone.com

Once the bezel screws (#11 in the diagram) are placed in fixed positions where #5 represents the bezel, the nuts (#9) that are placed on the back are screwed down the thread (#10). This 'screw & nut' system is in fact also employed for holding straps and bracelets on Royal Oaks.





So the screw & nut mechanism not only holds the bezel and the back but also holds the metal support ring, the rubber seal ring, the gaskets and the sapphire crystal in place.
This mechanism as illustrated, play a critical role in keeping this extraordinarily intelligent design intact and thus, almost perfectly isolating the movement from its archenemy - moisture.

The iconic hexagonal screws on the bezel can arguably be regarded as the key that led to the birth and the success of Royal Oak. What's more certain is that Mr. Genta, the genius behind this double-tap solution to design and practicality well deserves a place in the history of industrial design and watchmaking.


Sunday, 27 October 2013

#11 A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia & Langematik



A. Lange & Söhne  are one of the few brands that are outside this 'Swiss ring of watchmaking' and in fact the only few non-Swiss makers that are in the high-end watch industry. With a rich history that dates back to 1845, they continue to create some of the finest, most sophisticated timepieces around. Although this is a purely subjective matter, some connoisseurs regard Lange as the only true rival to Patek Philippe and they do indeed have a legitimate reason for having such opinion. Lange pieces are embedded with this romanticism that not every brand can express - classic yet unique designs with warm dials make them subtly stand out. 

And of course, it's not just the looks that makes Lange such a power house. Their mechanical finesse and that extra love and care for the movements is also what makes them tick - believe it or not, every movement is assembled twice for quality checks which ensures durability and functionality. Moreover, unlike most brands in the industry, Lange use 'German Silver',  a copper-nickel alloy as opposed to brass, which gives the unique aesthetics.

The two pieces here are: 
Saxonia Annual Calender in white gold ref.330.026 (left) and Langematik Perpetual in platinum ref.310.025 (right). 






 

The Saxonia Annual Calender features the Lange's trademark double-square date window; day & month dials and moon-phases. This reference comes with beautiful blue hands - not many can get the blue hands right. It can either look really tacky or too casual but Lange really hammered this one.

It is powered by the in-house L085.1 SAX-0-MAT automatic movement with 46 hour power reserve and employs the patented Zero-Reset handsetting mechanism. It consists of 476 parts and 43 jewels and beats at 21,600 vph or 3 Hz.





As aforementioned, the movement is constructed from German Silver, giving this unusual look - I personally think Lange make some of the best looking movements alongside Patek Philippe, Philippe Dufour, Audemars Piguet and F.P. Journe. The lust and the layout of this calibre is simply breathtaking.

You may have noticed already but this movement features a micro-rotor. Patek Philippe and Lange are two of the very few haute-horlogerie houses that employ the micro-rotor system (yes, there are makers like Laurent Ferrier but...) and the only two who has the know-how to really pull this off in terms of mechanics and aesthetics in my humble opinion. A special architecture is required to utilised these micro-rotors - since they are physically smaller than standard rotors, any miscalculation will inevitably lead to inefficiency in winding - and we all know that when it comes to engineering, miscalculations are simply not tolerated by Germans!


So, how does it feel when worn?





This piece measures 38.5mm and 9.8mm in size and height respectively. It certainly isn't the smallest dress watches of all but also not the biggest. This piece certainly represents that Lange have kept up with time and perhaps this is something that differentiates the German maker from Patek Philippe - I am certainly not suggesting that Patek are not keeping up with time but they tend to be a little bit conservative when it comes to sizing. 

It sits very comfortably on your wrist with the hand stitched croc strap with white gold tang buckle. The blue hands with a decently sized white gold case gives this young yet classy look. 





The Langematic Perpetual, as the name suggests features perpetual calender with moon phases powered by the in-house Cal. L922.1 SAX-0-MAT with 46-hour power reserve made up with 478 parts and 43 jewels, beating at 21,600 or 3 Hz, employing patented Zero-Reset handsetting mechanism.
This piece is the world's first mechanical watch that combines a perpetual calender with an outsize date.


The back looks remarkably similar, if not the same as the Saxonia Annual Calender, featuring German silver plates and a micro-rotor. 


 The overall layout of the dial is also quite similar to that of the Saxonia Annual Calender but the Langematik Perpetual displays roman numeral hour markers and luminous silver hands.




Measuring at 38.5mm in diameter and 10.2mm in thickness, it sits marginally higher than the Saxonia annual calender but still provides the same comfort. This application of roman numeral markers and silver hands gives a very different feeling by giving off a more mature look than the blue hands. This piece also has an added depth of sophistication by employing perpetual calender, thus unconsciously giving that extra depth of class. 

Both the Saxonia Annual Calender and the Langematik Perpetual are true connoisseurs' pieces. They are embedded with horological excellence and elegance, capturing what Lange as a brand stand for. Either one of these would make a good candidate for any watch collector's grail piece. 


Friday, 25 October 2013

#10 George Daniels' "Watchmaking"



George Daniels, a British Horologist and one of the greatest masters of watchmaking art, commonly known for being an avid "fan" of the French maker, Breguet and developing the famous Co-axial escapement that is featured in most of the modern Omega  watches has published the Horologist's bible. His student and the one and only apprentice Roger Smith not only attended George Daniels' lessons, but also known to have extensively utilised this book.


George Daniels had several purposes in writing this book. According to Daniels himself, he wrote it “to inspire and encourage the art of watchmaking, especially among a new generation of enthusiasts” and that “great care has been taken to ensure the text is easy to follow and to avoid complicated technical descriptions.” Helping and encouraging people (even those with little to no academic knowledge regarding watchmaking) in understanding the specified issues is the primary objective. Since George Daniels built watches all with his hands without the aid of CNC machines (he even manufactured the entire escapement, something that several of the greatest brands outsource for the special difficulties involved in their manufacturing processes), quite literally ALL operational aspects of watchmaking are covered. Everything that one always wanted but did not know where to ask is thoroughly covered in fantastic details with coloured images and easy-to-understand diagrams.
These are the main things that he discusses: Workshop and equipment; Hand tools; Finishing steel and brass; Turning, Wheels and Pinions; Making small components; Jewelling; Escapements; Mainsprings and accessories; Movement design; The balance and spring; Casemaking; Engine-turned cases and dials. He takes a close look at all technicalities, often unfolding mathematical calculations, machining techniques and requirements of parts of a movement that one may have never even heard of - but don't worry, everything is clearly explained and demonstrated.


If you are true aficionado or someone who wants to learn about watchmaking, this should be the bible for you. This tremendous piece of work essentially covers all aspects of watchmaking in detail in a reader-friendly manner. George Daniels' passion for Horology is clearly reflected in this book and upon reading, one will immediately concur with the fact that he truly deserves a place in history as one of the greatest and most influential artisans.



#9 Bergeon Ergonomic Screwdrivers



The Swiss based Bergeon, are the makers of some of the finest watchmakers' tools. The ergonomic stainless steel screwdriver series come in all sizes. They are extremely well machined and finished and as the name suggests, they are extremely comfortable to use. The difference between the ergonomic set and the standard set is the colour coded swivel heads. The size of the heads make them more visible and gives you better grip, thus easier to handle. The hexagonal head comes in self-lubricating, synthetic POM (Derlin) material, which adds to the ergonomics of these. 




I have used other brands like Horotec before, but when it comes to screwdrivers, in terms of quality and ergonomics, I think Bergeon leads the line.