Wednesday, 22 October 2014

#30 Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 5175

Patek Philippe have unveiled a truly special piece, the Grandmaster Chime Ref. 5175 to commemorate their 175th Anniversary.

The piece is Patek's most complicated wristwatch yet with 20 complications, 1,336 movement parts and 214 case components.

Key facts:

- 7 years of development, 2 years of production
- 5 Chimes: Grand Sonnerie, Petite Sonnerie, Minute Repeater, Patented Date Repeater, Patented Alarm with time strike,
- 6 patents
- Limited edition of 7 pieces with one going to the Patek Philippe museum
- 2,500,000 CHF in price

Sunday, 6 July 2014

#28 Time = Money?

  • Classic cars rise 257%
  • Classic watches up 176%
  • Billionaire property doubles in value
Passion investments returned 77% (local currency terms)* since 2005, outperforming shares, according to the first edition of The Coutts Index: Objects of Desire. Launched today, the new Coutts Index aims to provide the global benchmark for monitoring the performance of passion assets.
The Index, developed in conjunction with Fathom Consulting, captures the price return in local currency (net of the holding costs) of 15 passion assets across two broad categories: trophy property and alternative investments. Alternative investments can be further broken down into fine art, collectibles and precious items.
Of all the alternative investments Coutts examined for the Index, classic cars have returned the most since 2005, rising by 257%, outpacing all other investments by more than 80 percentage points over the seven and-a-half-year timeframe. Classic watches have also proved they can stand the test of time, rising by 176% from 2005 to 30 June 2013.
Jewels returned 146% in comparison, while the standout performer in the fine art space is the traditional Chinese works of arts sector, which rose by 163% between 2005 and 30 June 2013.
Over the past seven and a half years, the Coutts Index, based in US$ terms, has risen by 82% – over the same period, the MSCI All Country Equity Index has risen by 53%, based in US$ terms.
The Coutts Index incorporates a real estate component supplied by Savills World Research. Trophy property comprises ‘billionaire’ residential properties in the ten prime global city locations and ‘leisure’ properties in the world’s most desirable leisure destinations associated with these cities. Both measures lost value in the run-up to the global recession, but billionaire property values have risen strongly since, rising 100% from 2005 to 30 June 2013.
Mohammad Kamal Syed , Head of Strategic Solutions at Coutts, said: “The Coutts Index has been created to measure passion assets, or objects or desire, in terms of performance, cost of storage and currency. But while many alternatives have provided spectacular returns, there is more to investing in these assets than price appreciation. For many people, profit is furthest from their mind."
He added that for many ultra-high-net-worth individuals, it is less about investing and more about purchasing – purchasing assets driven by their emotions.
"The benefit is more than just profit. Owners can bond with like-minded people in an elite network, with assets offering escapism and a chance to re-enact history. Indeed, there is one thing that the Coutts Index, for all its robustness, can’t measure – and that is happiness. The idea of someone paying $50m for an uncomfortable old car, with windows that don’t work and a noisy engine, seems illogical. In many ways it is. But the happiness such a car can bring is immeasurable.”
Coutts commissioned articles and interviewed experts for its first edition of the Coutts Index. They included Stanley Gibbons, the world’s leading stamp dealer, Berry Bros. & Rudd, the wine merchant and auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's.
Quentin Willson, broadcaster and classic car specialist, looked under the bonnet of the classic car market. He wrote: “If you had bought a 1970s Ferrari Daytona for £50,000 in 2003, it would be worth £250,000 today. A 1960s Aston Martin DB5 bought for £60,000 a decade ago would now command £350,000.”
“The question is whether the classic car market has peaked. I’ve been wondering whether the bubble will burst ever since prices started to rise in 2009. But they have kept on rising and were up 27% in the first half of 2013.”
Nick Foulkes, author, historian and watch enthusiast, revealed why he has been fascinated with watches since he was a child. He wrote: “I can still remember writing an article in the 1980s, saying that the price of an old ‘Paul Newman’ Rolex Daytona was about to overtake the price of a new one. Now you will be lucky to find one for under £70,000.”
“But not all watches will burn a hole in your pocket. Rolex recently launched some particularly attractive Day-Date models with brightly coloured dials. These recalled the original ‘Stella’ dialled Rolexes and are now creeping up in value, but these Day-Date models can still be purchased for four figures. And I still think that vintage Cartier watches are hugely undervalued.”

article by: Leonora Burtenshaw, Coutts 

Monday, 7 April 2014

#27 Patek Philippe Calatrava 3802


The Calatrava range has always been at the forefront of Patek Philippe's collection. Its seemingly 'simple' yet distinctive aesthetics give its unparalleled elegance. The reference 3802 here, cased in 18k yellow gold is no exception.

Upon close inspection, one will come to realise and appreciate the sophistication behind this piece. The unique hobnail bezel is finished at the highest level, giving this sheen.

The front of the lugs are polished and the sides of the lugs and the case are brushed. The crown is decorated with the Calatrava emblem just like other Pateks


I am pretty sure that many of the fortunate souls who had the pleasure of getting their hands on a Patek will agree with me in saying that the thing that amazes us most about Patek Philippe is their inordinate attention to minor details. I really believe that Patek are one the very few fine watch houses that have truly mastered the art of perfecting the fundamentals - and this probably is one of the reasons why Patek Philippe as a brand is so highly regarded by many in the watch community.

This rule applies to the inside as well. The movement that powers 3802 is Patek's in-house, Geneva-sealed automatic caliber 315sc*, which beats at 21,600vph. Often the finish on the movement translates into its reliability: this particular 3802 has been in our family possession for almost 20 years with fairly regular usage but till this day, it had never once gone back to the Patek workshop.

Even though the user of this piece has a few other Patek selections, including the Perpetual Calender 3940 in Platinum with roman numerals, he strongly feels that the 3802 is the most usable. Its understated suaveness, the size and the reliability make it so usable as a daily watch, whether you are just having a typical day or going abroad on a business trip.

*More on caliber 315sc:

Friday, 10 January 2014

#25 Audemars Piguet Grande Complication 40th anniversary

Whether you are a fan of AP or not, this should be considered as a serious timepiece. This is THE piece that embeds all the essential elements and qualities of the 140 year old Le Brassus based manufacture. This piece is a time capsule that contains significant parts of the history of haute horlogerie. This piece is personal, cherished and somewhat sentimental (I know some of you're going "huh?" but don't worry, I'll elaborate more on this point later!).

Needless to say, AP has a very rich history. They have always been pioneers in complicated watchmaking, setting standards for others to follow. They were the first ones to achieve many of the great things that revolutionised the art. They were the first ones to create a wristwatch with minute repeater. They were the first ones to create a jumping hour wristwatch. They were the ones to create the first selfwinding Grande Complication watch. They were the first ones that showed (quite rebelliously) the world that steel can be 'luxurious' through Royal Oak and the list of their milestone extends... 
In the context of the piece that we're discussing here, the important thing to take on board is that this is the watch that is packed with some of the AP's proud landmarks, landmarks that not only transformed AP themselves but also the industry. 

Aesthetically, this 40th anniversary Grande complication captures a lot of the iconic elements of the standard Royal Oak. The case, bezel and bracelet are all made from steel. Unlike most other variations of Grande Complication Royal Oaks, this features the blue Petite Tapisserie dial as it was in the original 1972 Royal Oak. The case measures 44.00mm and 14.80mm in width and thickness respectively, and yes, you might argue that it is bigger than the 'conventional' Royal Oaks, but Cal. 2885 inherently makes it bigger - I mean if you have a bigger brain, you need a bigger head. Don't you? 
When it comes to finishing on the case and the bracelet, as I mentioned about a million times in other AP posts, I think there's nothing quite like a Royal Oak - The brushed and polished finishing all the way down to the clasp is nothing short of magical. I don't believe I need to do much talking to explain or convince you how beautiful this piece is. I'll let the photos do the talking (There are more photos below). 

Let's talk a bit about the technical stuff now. This beast is powered by the automatic cal. 2885, which is an in-house movement that is composed of 648, mostly hand-finished parts with 52 jewels - just from the number of parts, you can probably understand why this watch is a "Grande Complication". Those 648 parts harmoniously work together to perform series of acts, which are otherwise known to us as: perpetual calendar with moon phases, minute repeater, split-seconds chronograph, week-indicator and hours and minutes. 

Unlike many other Grand Complication watches, this piece is powered by an automatic movement. The  rotor is made from 18-karat solid gold and the winding is unidirectional. I know some watch snobs might argue that you would want a manual-wind movement on Grande Complications to feel and absorb the piece but I would flip the argument and say having that extra complication of automatic winding makes it extra special, and of course, you are also getting a piece of gold! On top of that, AP allows you to customise the rotor should you wish to add a personal touch.

Pushers for split-seconds chronograph and correctors for day and date on the right side of the case

Lever for minute-repeater and correctors for leap-year, week and moon-phase on the left side of the case

I genuinely think that this is one of the most exciting, unusual Grande Complication watches around, both technically and aesthetically. When you talk about Grande complications, you generally would expect them to be quite 'conservative' with the case deisgn, but scrap that, this really is one of its kind. Even just the idea of having Grand complication in what is supposed to be classified as a sports watch is somewhat mind boggling - some of you might even get confused by this fusion of super complcated movement with a sporty case. Having such complex mechanism in a way defeats the purpose of a sports watch as it significantly reduces the resistance to water and so on but like I aforementioned, I think this is one of its kind, a watch that has its own rights, a watch that is neither a sports watch nor a dress watch but a watch that is simply "Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Grand Complication".

In the opening of this post, I have mentioned that this is a watch that is somewhat 'personal, cherished and sentimental' - I said this because, each and every Grand Complication piece created by AP is assembled and finished by a designated master watchmaker and when it comes back for servicing, it will be the same watchmaker who will service the piece. By owning one of these, you form a bond with the maker, which I think is something very special.  Above all, what I like most about this piece is the fact that this is a watch that shows what AP as one of the most prestigious watchmakers stand for. It's a piece that encapsulates a part of history of fine watchmaking - and if you are a bit of watch aficionado, I would imagine it would be hard for you to resist admiring a piece that tells a story (and that does plenty of other things!).

More images (Click to enlarge)

Assembling the Royal Oak Grande Complication

#24 "Time Machines" by James Wills & Tom Bolt

"The watch guru", Tom Bolt (you may have seen him on Channel 4's The Four Rooms) & James Wills takes a trip into the world of wrist watches - highly entertaining!