domingo, 30 de septiembre de 2012

URWERK Black Cobra Watch: Can Comics Sell Luxury Watches?

While it is hard to give proper credit, Linde Werdelin is the first luxury watch brand that I know of that employed the use of comics (ahem, graphic novels) to sell high-end timepieces. They still do that, and certainly are going to carry that idea into the future. UPDATE: I just learned that I had it wrong. Linde Werdelin might have been the first to disseminate marketing comic imagery online (that I know of), but Urwerk had published comic content as far back as 2008 (republished here - thanks Ian).

Now luxury brand Urwerk offers a new comic strip (see below to check it out). I think the idea is brilliant. Why has it taken until modern times to do this? Because stuffy people in luxury watch company's were afraid of diluting the "prestige" of their brands with dirty comic book. Psh... what is this? 1986? Comic art has defined much of the last generation. What do you think rich people under 35 are going to associate with more positively. Cool graphic novel imagery for a new watch, or sponsoring a polo tournament?

See above (and in full via link below), this is the start of a futuristic comic series to help Urwerk market their new Linear Time Black Cobra watch. This is the black cased version of the UR-CC1 King Cobra that I discussed here. So what do you think? Is this comic cool? I think so. Will it get people slowly excited about the brand and the timepieces? We will see. Click on the thumb nail below.

sábado, 29 de septiembre de 2012

Ermenegildo Zegna High Performance Watches

I like these watches but I struggle to envision a scenario where I would spend the money on them. Fashion brand Ermenegildo Zegna recently debuted two watches in a new collection produced in collaboration with the Sowind Group. Based on the label’s “High Performance” collection of clothing, these new sport watches are fashionably (and practically satisfying). But are they worth your money compared to the alternatives?

Watch lovers probably know that Ermenegildo Zegna has worked with watch maker Girard-Perregaux in the past. GP is part of the Sowind Group (now part of PPR), which explains how the Sowind Group is involved in this latest collection. What I don’t know is how much Girard-Perregaux’s team is involved with the High Performance watches. GP goes so far as to produce Ermenegildo Zegna branded versions of some of their pieces, sold exclusively in Zegna boutiques.

Zegna has now moved from an extremely niche collection of high-end, gold-cased dress watches to those competing with the larger world of sport watches. Two watches will be available at debut, the High Performance Sea Diver and High Performance Chronograph.

While I know that “High Performance” is the name of a clothing collection for active urban office goers, it is an almost insultingly bland term. I would venture to say that it is even worse than the label “professional” on a watch dial. High Performance is merely an adjective. Consumers should demand to know why they are high performance rather than merely know that the brand would like for you to think they are. This type of blatant disregard for consumer intelligence irritates me – though it is mostly our fault. We consumers have allowed product makers to place baseless claims on their goods for so long that it is practically expected nowadays. We have become a culture of mostly unspecialized individuals, tending to rely on product makers to tell us how good their products are rather than the other way around. High Performance is practically an opinion. One that originated in a marketing meeting designed to arouse the notion of all day comfort and utility. If I made this watch I would remove the term from the dial and replace it with the more steadfast claim of “Works Just Fine” in bright red print. Enough about that.

Bot of the watches by the way are 42mm wide - which is a rather mainstream case size. Let’s discuss the High Performance Sea Diver first. It is a nice looking dive piece with a name so pulled from the soup of dive watch labels it is almost comical.

Most dive watches begin to look like one another because they share so many things in common. A thick case, rotating bezel, and easy to read dial with technical looking hands and indicators – the Sea Diver is no different. Its case is steel and the watch is water resistant to 300 meters. How deep can you go with Zegna High Performance clothing? The rotating bezel is classic looking and chunky with sharp edging and a black (likely aluminum) scale insert. These days it is hard however to accept non ceramic or sapphire inlay bezels on good dive watches. The dial is matte textured black with a combination of red and white Arabic numeral and baton hour markers. You’ll either love or hate the serpent-head hour hand and sword minute hand combo. Taken as a whole you can see a bit of the Girard-Perregaux Sea Hawk Diver’s DNA in this piece. Just a bit. Part of me thinks there is a bit too much red in the dial, but I’d have to wear it for a while to really know. I will give the High Performance Sea Diver the benefit of the doubt until then.

While we know that all Ermenegildo Zegna High Performance watches will have Swiss ETA movements, it isn’t clear which one is in the Sea Diver. I suspect a 2892 automatic. An interesting note about the watch is the case back which is secured with a series of hex screws versus having a screw-down caseback. That is uncommon in a diver. Attached to the watch is a black rubber strap.

The second watch in the High Performance collection is the High Performance Chronograph. Neither the name nor design are particularly original, but again it does look nice. I suspect that the case size is the same as the diver, but in this instance the material for the case is ceramic. That is nice enough, and if the cases are anything like those on the ceramic Girard-Perregaux models then they will be lovely.

Zegna uses the exact same hands for the Chronograph as they do on the Sea Diver. However, the dial space on the Chronograph is a bit larger so the hands end up being a bit too short on the Chronograph. Cost saving was likely to blame for this. The High Performance Chronograph is available with a black or white dial – with contrasting rings around the subsidiary dials. The red outlined Arabic numerals return as well, along with a few baton hour markers. I do like how bold the hour markers are, but only a long term test will help me understand how good they are on the eyes over the long haul. Around the dial is a tachymeter scale on the bezel. This element was practically guaranteed on a race-themed chronograph piece.

The High-Performance Chronographs compete in price and style with Porsche Design, almost too much so. At first glance I could see many people confusing these for Porsche Design timepieces. They clearly aren’t exact analogs, but there is a lot of “Porsche Design flattery” going on here in the Chronograph’s execution. Inside the High Performance Chronographs are Swiss ETA 2894 automatic chronograph movements. You can see that Zegna uses decorated versions of the movement with custom Ermenegildo Zegna rotors. Attached to the High Performance Chronograph watches are the same rubber straps as on the Sea Diver, or black textile straps with red contrast stitching.

While these timepieces aren’t priced up there with the Girard-Perregaux-made Zegna watches, they still compete with “name brand” watches. For the same money, what would you rather have? It is an interesting question as I have to ask myself in what instances someone wants a clothing maker’s name on a sport watch rather than a sport watch brand. Interestingly enough I care much less when it comes to dress watches. Even fashion types would probably opt for Omega, Porsche Design, or JeanRichard on a watch as opposed to the company that produced their button-up shirt. Would I wear these Ermenegildo Zegna High Performance watches? I probably would without hesitation, but not necessarily on my dollar. By the way, price for the High Performance Sea Diver is 2,500 Euros (2,800 Swiss Francs) and 4,500 Euros (5,000 Swiss Francs).

Tech Specs from Zegna:

High Performance Chronograph

Material: black ceramic with tachymeter engraved on the crown and side buttons and rubberised
Screw-down crown
Diameter: 42.00 mm
Height: 14.30 mm
Crystal: anti-reflective sapphire
Case back: Stainless steel, secured by 7 screws
Water Resistance: 3 ATM

Automatic ETA 2894
Calibre: 12 ½'' '
Frequency: 28,800 Vib / h - (4 Hz)
Power Reserve: 42 hours
Jewels: 37
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds, date and chronograph

Bracelets and clasps
Materials: rubber strap + 2 additional fabric bracelets
Clasps: stainless steel folding clasp engraved with "EZ" + clasp steel tip for fabric strap

High Performance SeaDiver

Material: stainless steel unidirectional rotating facet in alumunium black screw-down crown
Diameter: 42.00 mm
Height: 14.30 mm
Crystal: anti-reflective sapphire
Case back: Stainless steel, secured by 6 screws
Water Resistance: 30 ATM

Automatic ETA 2824
Calibre: 11 ½'' '
Frequency: 28,800 Vib / h - (4 Hz)
Power Reserve: 38 hours
Jewels: 25
Functions: hours, minutes, central seconds and date

Bracelets and clasps
Material: rubbery c
Clasp: folding clasp in stainless steel with engraving "EZ" on top

jueves, 27 de septiembre de 2012

The Christopher Ward C900 Single Pusher Chronograph

British retailer Christopher Ward has been on a roll as of late. They have announced a series of interesting watches like their first COSC certified watch the C50 Malvern, and the innovative and quite exclusive C9 Jumping Hour. Adding to their growing list of noteworthy watches, Christopher Ward has just announced a pre-order for their newest limited edition, the C900 Single Pusher Chronograph. Exhibiting a reserved and very elegant design, this new chronograph from Christopher Ward is just as cool inside as it is out. Sporting a movement modified by one Johannes Jahnke, the C900 uses an ETA/Unitas 6497 movement customized to feature a monopusher chronograph complication. A monopusher (or single pusher) allows the chronograph to be activated, paused and reset from a single button, which on the C900 is cleverly built into the crown.

The C900 features a 43mm case with a thickness of 15.7 mm so the size should suit nearly any wrist. Inside, the JJ02 hand wound calibre features traditional timekeeping with a sub-dial devoted to a 30 minute measure for the chronograph, and one to display the running seconds. The dial design is a mix of thin baton markers, roman numerals at six and twelve, and lovely needle-point hands. The effect is luxurious yet muted and can be matched with either a black or brown leather strap.

Christopher Ward is producing just 250 examples of the C900 Single Pusher with a list price of £2,450 (~$3875), which is a truly astounding price for a mechanical monopusher chronograph. Consider the Bell and Ross WWI Monopusher which sells for ~$7500 USD, the Longines L27764213 Single Push-Piece Column Wheel Chronograph at $4550, or even the Corum Centro Monopusher which will set you back around $9,000. The monopusher chronograph is a rare and expensive complication so it's noteworthy that Christopher Ward has produced one, let alone an example for less than four thousand dollars and still backed by a five year warranty. For those in the market for an interesting, rare and great looking watch, the Christopher Ward C900 should definitely make the cut.

miércoles, 26 de septiembre de 2012

Richard Mille RM 053 Watch

Richard Mille follows in Jaeger-LeCoultre's footsteps (sort of ) by creating a watch specially designed to be worn while playing polo. Jaeger-LeCoultre did this over 80 years ago with the Reverso, and now Richard Mille has the RM 053. While the Reverso was about flipping around the case to protect the crystal from shock, the RM 053 is about minimizing the dial (vulnerable area) while angling it towards the wearer like a driver's watch. Why anyone needs to wear a watch while playing polo is still a huge mystery to me. That does explain why the RM 053 will be part of a very limited edition of just 15 pieces.

The full name of this watch is the Richard Mille RM 053 Pablo Mac Donough. According to Richard Mille it was Mac Donough who had the idea. Mac Donough is an Argentinian polo player, and "partner of" the Richard Mille brand. I guess he pushed hard enough to have this watch made. In all titanium, the RM 053 is meant to be like a case of armor, putting the dial out of the way, and protecting it. Yes, it still has a tourbillon.

The coolest part of the watch is easily the RM053 movement. It is inclined to a 30 degree angle and looks as such when seen through the rear sapphire caseback window. You've never quite seen a movement that looks like this. The tourbillon is visible through the dial to the left under the seconds hand. Not too easy to see, but it is there. The movement is manually wound and has 48 hours of power reserve.

Reading the watch is done via the hour and minute hands on the right dial and the seconds on the left. The deep view into the movement is nice, but the legibility could have been improved if the Richard Mille included a full set of hour markers, not just some of them. For their size, the hands are rather easy to see, and both the hands and hour markers have applied lume. If anything saves this watch it is the view into the movement.

Those familiar with Richard Mille know of their pledge to put tourbillons in activities where they do not belong. Here, the case of the RM 053 is said to be rather shock resistant, but I personally wouldn't want to test it on my dime. The case is 50mm tall by 42.70mm wide and 20mm thick. For having such a small viewing area this is still a lot of watch. Of course, you need to make it clear you are wearing a Richard Mille right?

Then there is the matter of the design. Each of the dials flows out of the case with two arches behind them. The result is what looks like cleavage on the case. Either chest or rear cleavage - you decide for yourself. If the crack isn't enough to make you smile, the beady eye style dials should. This watch even looks like the head of a funny little robot that I really want to make my own. This is easily one of the strangest Richard Mille watches around and there will only be 15 of them.

martes, 25 de septiembre de 2012

Sinn & Paul Parey Limited Edition Hunting Watch

Sinn has announced the release of a limited edition chronograph in partnership with Paul Parey publishing. For those not in the know (myself included), Paul Parey is a German publisher of a wide range of hunting and fishing magazines. Sinn has essentially customized their excellent 756 chronograph with a dark green dial and earthy brown strap to make a hunting watch.

Hunters can be subjected to a wide range of environmental extremes so I think a Sinn fits nicely into the hunter/woodsman ethos. They are tough, no-nonsense, reliable and legible timepieces that are not meant to be safe queens, I can think of few better watches for the active outdoors type. Many of the military-ready qualities which Sinn incorporates into their watches are also of value to hunters and anglers alike.

While not specifically referenced, the Sinn Paul Parey Hunting Watch does appear to be a standard reference 756 which is built on a 40 x 14mm tegimented steel case and fitted with an AR coated sapphire crystal, ETA/Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement, and aviation inspired dial with a vertical bi-compax layout. Additionally, the 756 is water resistant to 200m and boasts considerable anti-magnetic protection (80,000 A/m) and shock resistance.

The 756 is one of those watches that ticks every "sport watch" box but still manages to cost less than you might guess. The base Sinn 756 on a leather strap can be had for $2400 USD. This new hunting version will be limited to 100 units and is being sold directly through a specialized website (found here, in German) for € 1,990.00 ($2570 USD). For a limited edition with a lovely green dial and two strap options, an increase of only $140 USD is quite reasonable. I think they should have given it a better name like "The Hunter", or the "Sinn 756 Hunter". Regardless of the name, the Sinn Paul Parey Hunting Watch is a cool and attractive limited edition variant to the standard Sinn 756.

domingo, 23 de septiembre de 2012

Cecil Purnell La Grande Date Tourbillon Watch

The market for really expensive toys isn't what it used to be. Don't get me wrong, that market for luxury play things comes and goes, but these days it is hard to promote a several hundred thousand dollar watch from a newer brand that looks like it was meant to appeal to fans of traditional watch making who are also weekend militia members. That is the case for this sportier version of the Cecil Purnell La Grand Date Tourbillon watch called the "Pit Lane V12."

Cecil Purnell is a brand that is really trying to legitimize itself, but they only probably need to sell a handful of watches each year to stay alive. According to them they ONLY make tourbillon-based watches, and subscribe to the "true values of haute horlogerie." Now that sounds like a BS marketing statement if I ever heard one. To be honest, I would take them much more seriously if their marketing copy didn't sound like it came from a kid who was really desperate to fit in on the playground.

Cecil Purnell's website is a joke and a mess. It was painfully difficult to find out the model names of their watches, and there is next to no technical information available about the cases and little about their movements. For a small brand, their movement family appears appealing on paper. They have tourbillons, tourbillons with big date mechanisms, and tourbillons with minute repeaters. They do something interesting actually and claim to have a policy of total transparency when it comes to what suppliers make the parts of their movements. If you have good sleuthing skills, you can find this diagram on their website. Only problem is that the chart does not indicate who produces their balance wheels and escapement assemblies. Murmurs on the internet point to the fact that the balance wheel is produced in China. Not a huge deal to some, and it actually doesn't negate their ability to call the watch "Swiss Made." Though it does come across as a very curious omission given their little policy.

The watches shown here each contain the brand's caliber CP-V12 manually wound tourbillon movement. It has the time, tourbillon (of course), and big date complication. The movement has a 55 hour power reserve. Graphically, the exposed movements look nice, and I overall think that the design firm(s) Cecil Purnell used for their movements and cases aren't half bad. As I mentioned above, the racing/Rambo inspired sport watch is called the Pit Lane. It has a rather un-sexy name and looks to be inspired by brands such as Paul Picot, Concord, Hublot, and others. It is fun looking, but probably not $200,000 fun looking.

The Pit Lane is offered in a range of materials, and is seen here in what I believe is titanium and 18k rose gold, mixed with rubber, other metal, and perhaps some other materials. The most classic looking piece which contains the CP-V12 movement is the La Croix. Available in 18k white or rose gold, the case opening is meant to look like a cross. There are going to be some regretful pious Catholic Spaniards who are upset that their current economic situation will prevent them from buying one of these. Perhaps they can ask the Italians, no wait. Maybe the Brazilians? I actually have no idea whether or not Cecil Purnell ordained the La Croix watch to have any religious symbolism to it - but with the design and name, it wouldn't surprise me.

Whether intentionally or not, Cecil Purnell makes less than 50 watches per year. Their marketing and promotional materials is that of a brand that hasn't figured itself out yet. They don't know their own strengths and weakness at this time, and are trying hard to find a client base. I applaud the efforts, but would caution them against sounding too desperate in their own materials. Oh, and to please make their website passably navigable with information people may actually be looking for.

sábado, 22 de septiembre de 2012

Bell & Ross BR 01 Horizon, Altimeter, & Turn Coordinator Watches

The original Bell & Ross BR 01 watch often had the term "Instrument" associated with it. Bell & Ross wanted to make it clear that the timepiece was based on aircraft cockpit instruments - especially the clock. Fair enough. Then a couple of years ago, Bell & Ross started taking the concept even further - making BR 01 watches with dials (that did tell the time) based on non-clock instruments. That started moving things in interesting directions.

Each of these watches are limited editions and design experiments. Bell & Ross wants to offer wrist-mounted cockpit instruments and increasingly they are. So let's look at the three new for 2012 limited edition Bell & Ross BR 01-92 instrument watches. Previous years had models such as the BR 01 Radar, BR 01 Red Radar, and BR 01 Compass.

What I have done (thanks to Bell & Ross) is include pictures of the actual instruments each of these watches is based on. These aren't just actual cockpit instruments, but the same ones that Bell & Ross designers used when coming up with the designs for the BR 01 Horizon, BR 01 Altimeter, and BR 01 Turn Coordinator watches. The names, while not terribly creative, are useful as it helps identify exactly what instrument the watch is based on. Pretty cool right?

It is easy to tell the time on all of these? Not at all. For me the BR 01 Radar series was cool, but mentally the hardest to read. At the same time, I think the BR 01 Altimeter is super easy to read - and is non-coincidentally my favorite piece. Visually, the BR 01 Turn Coordinator is pretty interesting. It uses the same system as the BR 01 Compass to tell the time, which are discs instead of hands. You read the time where the numbers line up via the vertical line that goes down the middle. There is a small disc in the center for the running seconds. I think it would have been really cool for Bell & Ross to include the level ball in liquid on the timepiece as well.

The BR 01 Horizon is an interesting model that is the most avant garde. Here Bell & Ross decided to produce another watch (like the Radar) with no numeric markers. It is a bit of a departure from the actual horizon instrument, but I think Bell & Ross actually made it look nicer. Here there is just an hour and minute hand on a dial that actually looks cool, but is certainly an acquired taste. The details on these watches are impressive, and you see the slick sort of restrained design ethos that keeps Bell & Ross watches feeling themed while not chintzy.

It is possible that the BR 01 Altimeter is my favorite in the collection because it is the most watch-like. Though it is different enough to warrant a second look. Also, I like how Bell & Ross turned the pressure indicator into a big date indicator. This could quite possibly be the only "open" date window that I actually feel makes sense. I knew it would happen eventually!

Being BR 01 watches, each of these comes in a 46mm wide square steel case with a PVD black coating. The crystals are sapphire and they come with both a black rubber and canvas strap. Inside the watches are modified Swiss ETA 2892 automatic movements. Though it would seem to make sense that the BR 01 Altimeter has an ETA 2896 given that it has a big date complication. Regardless, the series number indicates it as being in the BR 01-92 collection. It doesn't really matter I guess as the movements are inherently very similar. Each of the BR 01 Horizon, Altimeter, and Turn Coordinator watches are limited to 999 pieces and should be a serious consideration if you are a fan of the BR 01 watch range.

jueves, 20 de septiembre de 2012

Watch In The Wild: Hublot King Power Gold Unico

Contributed by Anish Bhatt

Not much can beat a warm day, a nice new watch and a good camera! We don't get too many of the first part in London, so when the temperature reaches anywhere over 20 degrees Celsius it's best to take advantage of it!

Our model: Oliver Knowles wears a single breasted suit in Alfred Brown wool, tailored on Saville Row by Timothy Everest. Cufflinks are by Mulberry, tie by Drakes and shirt by Hawes and Curtis. Grey and blue always seem to go together pretty perfectly. The cuffs are tapered well and the blazer creates a good shaped silhouette from shoulder to waist, which accentuates a gentleman's physique. Someone once said a woman sees a man in a well tailored suit in the same way a man sees lingerie on a woman...some food for thought. Notice small details like the dimple at the top of the tie where it meets the knot...a lesson in the finer arts of male attire.

Wristwear: Of course the watch must be the centre of attention, and in this instance it's the new 'King Gold' King Power Unico by Hublot. King Gold is basically rose gold mixed with platinum and extra copper to give it a warmer shade of red. You can judge the shade for yourself in the pictures. It has the added contrast of a carbon fibre weave bezel, which 'sports' the look up a little bit more. A nice alternative to rose/red/pink gold (or 'Everose' if you're Rolex!) and accentuated by the skeletonized dial and Unico movement well. By the way, the Unico feels amazing, and is (finally) a movement worthy of being in a watch at this price point.

The watch is pretty huge at 48mm in size and a gummy leather would have been a better option if you had to wear this with a suit, as rubber + big sports watch = smart casual in my book usually, but whatever, make hay while the sun shines and all that so onto the pics!

Hublot model reference is: 701.OQ.0180.RX and the retail price is GBP £32,300

miércoles, 19 de septiembre de 2012

Ball Watches For BMW Cars

A few months ago Ball Watches & BMW jointly announced that they would enter into an agreement to produce high-end watches from Ball for BMW. I got to see some prototypes and pictures a few months ago but was not allowed to discuss them until now. The relationship marks yet another watch brand plus car maker looking to make cool timepieces to appeal to both watch and car lovers. Will this be a success?

Design-wise these are modest departures from the standard classic and sporty Ball watch fare that we tend to like. I personally am a fan of many, but not all Ball watches. The good news is that each year Ball release enough new pieces such that there is something fresh and appealing for everyone. The Ball BMW watches are original, but have designs that closely look like a combination of modern IWC Ingenieur pieces and sporty Jaeger-LeCoultre sport watches like the Master Compressor and AMVOX collection. This isn't really an accident given that the pieces are supposed to be sporty, automotive-themed, and of course modern. There is nothing retro about that majority of BMW car designs. Plus, we hear that some of the same designer that worked on those Jaeger-LeCoultre watches worked on the Ball BMW watches.

At launch there will be many Ball BMW watches available, with one being a limited edition. Pictured in this article are just a few. Most of the watches use base Swiss ETA mechanical automatic movements with a range of basic features in addition to the time. You can see models here with a power reserve indicator for example. There will also be a GMT model and others in addition to a basic three-hand model. The limited edition version (of 1000 pieces) will feature Ball's special "TMT" mechanical thermometer module that it has used on some other watches in the past.

The most basic model will be a 40mm wide Ball BMW watch with a simple dial that includes a large BMW logo. This model to me looks the most like IWC's Ingenieur timepieces. Other models add in colors and textures to the dial for a look that is meant to go with the sportiest BMW car models. One thing that I really like about this watch and car maker relationship is that the watches are priced to be affordable by owners of the cars. We have seen situations where car watches cost as much or more than the cars themselves. I always thought that was quite silly. Reports indicate that there will be over two dozen watches including variations of the Ball BMW watches available by the end of 2012.

Ball specially designed the watches to hearken to design elements on many BMW cars both inside and outside of the vehicle. Curves on the case represent the same design ethos as the sharp yet deliberate lines on the outside of today's BMW automobiles. You can look at the unique lug angles as well as side of the cases which on some models is meant to look like the front grill of a BMW. The steel cases will have some contrast finishing as well which ought to look quite nice.

Depending on the model the BMW branding is either subtle or large. In my opinion the most popular models are going to be those with "BMW flavoring" as opposed to blatant branding. A tiny BMW logo with a spice of the Bavarian automakers design DNA is sure to attract much more earnest buyers than a large BMW logo taking the place of what should be Ball's name. The idea here is to have a watch that fits into the BMW lifestyle versus one that passes itself off as a wrist BMW. Thankfully, many of the watch we see here seem to have figured that out.

Like all Ball watches these models will feature tritium gas tube illumination on the hands and hour markers. Many of the models will also feature COSC Chronometer certified automatic movements. You can see that the Ball BMW watches will come both on metal bracelets and straps. These pieces have a good combination of BMW cache and familiar modern design to make them stand out a bit from the brand. Similar pieces from IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre are going to be much more expensive. Quality should be good as Ball tends to offer a lot of watch for the money. I look forward to getting more details and a hands-on experience with the Ball Watches for BMW cars in the near future. Prices will range from about 3,600 - 5,100 Swiss Francs and the watches will be available by the end of 2012.

lunes, 17 de septiembre de 2012

Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde SW Watch Review

As I wear this watch a smile comes to my face. I smirk knowing that this watch is not something that would have been designed today. This sport version of the iconic Grande Seconde watch by Jaquet Droz is a curious item that has a lot of merit but isn't something I ever saw coming from the brand. I first wrote about it back in 2008 when it was still called the Jaquet Droz SUW (yes, "Sport Utility Watch"). Today, the name has been "clarified" a bit, and I am glad to see that it still has a happy home in the house of Jaquet Droz.

It is very difficult to describe what this watch is all about. It isn't quite what I would call a true sport watch, but it's certainly sport themed from a visual perspective. It embodies the popular figure eight dial layout of the Grande Seconde collection from the brand. While historically not a cornerstone of original Jaquet Droz history, the modern version of the brand adopted this attractive figure eight layout as a way of differentiating their pieces from other high-end timepiece makers. The Grande Seconde family has been very popular, and someone probably wanted to do a sporty version of it. If you think about it, there are very few high-end "dressy" watch brands that don't have a sport watch in the collection. Piaget has the Polo for example. Breguet has the Type XX, XXI, XXII as well as the Marine. Blancpain has their dive and racing watches, and even Vacheron Constantin has the Overseas. Even Patek Philippe has the Nautilus and Aquanaut watches. Jaquet Droz probably felt that it needed something of its own along those lines.

According to a few people at Jaquet Droz, the Grande Seconde has always been a controversial piece for them. Some people love it, and others don't. One issue some people have had is that it doesn't necessarily fit into the brand's current DNA. There is nothing wrong with that. Some of the coolest watches around don't necessarily fit in the aesthetic DNA set forth by their brand siblings.

I recall that when I first learned about the SW watch I was excited to try one on. I always felt that the Grande Seconde dial design was elegant, and a youthful sport version of it really captured my curiosity. As you can tell, the dial captures the figure eight dial layout perfectly. A smaller dial is placed at the top which has hour and minute hands, while a larger dial for the subsidiary seconds is placed below. While reading the time is not necessarily as easy as on watches that use the entire dial, Jaquet Droz designed the look to be as legible as possible - as well as attractive. The rest of the dial is used for decorative and design purposes. I do feel that is a pretty cool thing.

The Grande Seconde SW case is a complex mishmash of design elements that do end up working well together in relative harmony. The design grows on you because it of balance and attention to detail. Though alone, elements of the watch can appear highly industrial and seemingly out of place. Skeletonized bezel claws on a Jaquet Droz? Not something I would have predicted to work, but they do. On the wrist you get an experiment in design, that doesn't fail to be comfortable or attractive. The SW is masculine, but extremely European in its graceful composure. It is artistic, while suggesting a sport theme. I guess that is the best way of describing it.

Over the years there have been a few versions of the Grande Seconde SW watch. That even includes a chronograph model. This particular version (ref. J029030440) is the newest one as of this review's writing. It is also my favorite. I should also mention that a metal bracelet option is now available as well. The case is 45mm wide in steel (though there have been 18k gold versions of the SW as well). On this version, Jaquet Droz opted for a black ceramic bezel. It matches the glossy black lacquer dial and adds a degree of durability (via scratch resistance).

The dial is very deliberate in its design. It mixes the simplicity of the Grande Seconde with the more architectural look of the SW case. There is a sort of screwed-down brushed metal bar that extends from claw to claw, while a raised and angled border lines the two overlapping dials. This version of the SW watch opts for a blue trim on the hands and indicators, while the original SW watch used orange. There is also a version with red trim. As I mentioned before, the dial is really about art. Tool watch purists will complain that too much space on the dial is being wasted, but I don't know why those people are looking at Jaquet Droz to begin with. This is an emotion rich high-end brand that waves a lace-ended sleeve at such silly notions.

Even as an art watch, Jaquet Droz put a lot of attention into comfort and use. For example there is a rubber section on the screw-down crown which helps to unscrew and operate it. The deployant clasp locks tightly and has a security bar to ensure your sizing doesn't undo itself. Plus, despite all the sharp angles on this watch, none of them are placed in a way that caused me to snag the watch on anything or scratch myself. I never take any of that for granted, as I've worn too many watches with terrible design woes. Honestly, most of those are lower-end pieces, but it does help my enthusiasm for high-end pieces that have a degree of thought and attention put into their design and production.

Inside the Grande Seconde SW watch is what Jaquet Droz calls their caliber 2663A-S automatic movement. They don't make it themselves, but it is make exclusively for them by Manufacture Blancpain. It was previously called Frederic Piguet, but lots of people in the Swatch Group still call it that. Frederic Piguet is like the high-end more exclusive ETA. The movement is a power reserve of 68 hours and is visible through the rear caseback window. It has an attractive level of decoration fitting a watch at this price point. The automatic rotor is further done in 18k white gold.

Unique and comfortable, the Grande Second SW watch is a good watch. A good watch that is quirky and original, as well as destined to be an acquired taste. Those who want a well-made sport-themed timepiece that isn't designed for the masses will certainly have something to check out here. I for one did quite enjoy its time on my wrist. Price for this version of the Jaquet Droz Grande Second SW watch is $15,400.