Welcome back to an original aBlogtoWatch feature, "My First Grail Watch". In this series, we ask prominent people in the watch industry about the first timepiece that they lusted after.
The final oddity about the Excalibur Quatuor watch collection is in the material of one of its versions. Both Quatuor models will be limited editions, the 18k red gold one to 88 pieces, but the other version to just three pieces. What is so special about it? Well it is actually made out of silicon. Yes, that material everyone has been so googly eyed about for years when it came to replacing metal parts in mechanical movements... made its way into a watch case (as the entire case). Now as far as I am told silicon is very scratch resistant. I can't personally attest to that, but it is light. Damn light. I picked up both silicon, titanium, and steel cases of the same volume and the silicon was by far the lightest, taking a dark gray almost gun metal hue. And it costs a fortune to machine properly.
Case: Stainless steel, bezel ring with black DLC coating.
Dial: Titanium Turbine, black under-dial and dial ring. Luminous Arabic numerals and hour-markers.
Girard-Perregaux is a solid name in high-end watch making. They produce their own movements in Switzerland that are even used as base movements for other brands (even MB&F). Their movements are pretty spot on, but what does that mean in a world where it takes a nice movement and nice design to sell an expensive watch? Girard-Perregaux (in the US at least) is a bit of a collector's secret or underdog watch maker. The brand is working hard to assert itself in the world of fashion, style, etc... but it is not always easy. Why? Well because for years they were a watch lover's watch brand. Playing more mainstream requires a different way of thinking. The straight-forward purist mentality of selling good watches isn't enough anymore. Which is sort of a shame because we are then subjected to a load of lifestyle marketing - but that is another conversation.
This new model in question is the Timemaster Chrono GMT S-Ray 007 (product page), created especially for Iren Dornier, a pilot and adventurer who's embarking on an around-the-world trip in an amphibious plane to raise awareness (and funds) for a charitable project. While much of the Timemaster line already hews closely to a vintage aviation aesthetic, the input of Dornier has created a model that looks to draw even more inspiration from aviation.
The SOLO/WH-SI has been fitted with a series of luminous elements including chapter markings, markers at 12, 3, 6, and 9, as well as large aviator-style hands. The hands do a very good job and glow a lasting cool blue while the smaller markers fade much faster than the hands. I had no trouble checking the time in movie theaters and the hands and markers all have a bright chrome-like surround so you can easily turn the face towards any available light source to see the position of the hands. The twelve o'clock marker and the seconds hand have a dark red accent that works well with the otherwise monochromatic dial design. The date window blends in next to the three o'clock marker and is a very close match to the white of the dial.
You can purchase them here via a special page on Teenage Grandpa's Etsy page.
At SIHH 2013, the most prestigious of the actually many prestigious new Jaeger-LeCoultre watches was a new version of the famous Gyrotourbillon. I don't think it is exactly what a lot of Gyrotourbillon fans were expecting given its return to a very classical demeanor and style, but it is a truly new Gyrotourbillon with some interesting features. As part of the master collection, this new piece is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3 Jubilee watch.
The self-winding rotor is decorated with the TAG Heuer name and logo and cut open to better show the movement which is itself decorated with rubies, blue steel screws, and brass gears. The whole thing is quite impressive and accentuates the feel of a solid instrument.
I wasn't very sure about this though, given that a potential criticism is how to justify a huge price tag with such a simple design. The fact of limiting quantity to 50 pieces annually doesn't help when many watches in this price range are naturally limited to small numbers. The only two advantages that I can put to a potential Ivresse buyer is that the design is unique (you would really have to love this particular design) and the speed of delivery. I was told by Philippe that Badollet were able to respond quickly to a customer order and deliver the watch much quicker than other brands. Two weeks was one example he mentioned.
As always, the Zenith Stratos watch is 45.5mm wide and again in a steel case for this version. Though come to think of it, an 18k rose gold would look really interesting with the blue bezel and dial. The bezel is again in ceramic, with etched sections painted in for the minute indicators. I've mentioned this before, but it is worth noting that the rotating bezel is sloped inwards somewhat, which makes for a much more challenging production when it comes to making the ceramic bezel inserts. The bold dial is imminently legible with properly sized hands that are coated in lume. Given the mix of military looks and polished elements, I think that the Stratos makes for a very good dressy sports watch... that is still undeniably a sports watch.
If your watch is seriously dirty, then cleaning it with water and liquid hand soap isn't a problem (assuming it is water resistant to 50 meters or more), liquid soap is better than a bar of soap as any foam and excess soap gets rinsed away. You can gently remove loose debris with a soft toothbrush, make sure it is a soft bristle brush so you don't scratch the watch. Try to gently submerge the watch into water versus having the faucet water splash on it. That will prevent water from entering worn seals that may have gaskets that have weakened over time. Though, newer dive watches can take a lot of splashing for sure. If you clean the leather strap make sure it fully dries off the wrist before you wear it again otherwise your body heat can make it start to rot!
Before the Cartier Tank, most wristwatches were little more than modified pocket watches for the wrist, the Tank was the first to really be conceived with comfort and style in mind.
In 9 years (including 2013), starting from a scratch, we have developed 12 different complicated mechanisms with useful and/or fun complications (such as the Royal Retro). Proportionally speaking, we are probably one of the most creative brands. And all these complications have been developed exclusively for us. This differentiation is our strongest USP. Finally, after ten years PDR, remains 100% independent, which is also very important.
This is a question I was recently wondering myself while in Hong Kong. For years, Hong Kong was considered a top world destination for watches when it came to price and selection. These days that is different because of a lot of factors. When it comes down to it, the perfect watch shopping destination will have good prices, a great selection, and a safe buying environment where consumers can trust in the quality of what they are buying. The problem is that these places continue to change, and with the Internet being a good place to shop, these issues become less salient.
GM: Knowing I wanted to be an independent designer, identification of the niche market was the other big question. It was an elimination process of all the coolest things I would picture myself designing. Making cars was number one but was certainly too big of a project to take on my own. Making watches was number two...and here I am today! The actual design of the Division Furtive watches came from my desire to innovate while using most of my skill set. Having a background in microelectronics rather than watchmaking (watch journalists have been referring to me as an "outsider"), I found it foolish to try to compete with the 400-year old Swiss watchmaking tradition and take this as a starting point. Still I wanted to do a mechanical design (purely electronic design only came later) so I simply took the shortest path between what I knew was doable and what would look like a mechanical watch.
Laurent Picciotto is one of the most influential people in horology. As the owner of the famous Chronopassion watch store, Picciotto also believed in investing in promising watch brands. Some of these brands have gone on to find much success. He was one of the earliest investors in brands like Hublot, MB&F and URWERK. In this special two part interview with Watch Anish, Laurent talks about his work and experience with working with some of these brands that he invested in, and also about the mentality of watch collectors. Well worth watching!
Most importantly, the watches time, date and accuracy are all updated by the phone. This can be very convenient in traveling, as long as you have your phone set up to auto adjust timezones. Since the iPhone is accurate to the atomic clock, your Proximity will be as well. You can always calibrate the time on the watch to the phone by pushing the lower right button for three seconds. Without the updates, they are accurate to -/+ 15 seconds a month.