miércoles, 27 de febrero de 2013

Rotonde de Cartier Mystery Watch Versus The Levitas

The term "mystery" (whether in English or French) as applied to a clock or watch means that some part of its mechanism or operation is hidden from the user. In this case it means that you can't immediately see how the hands are attached. Two watches in 2013 battle it out for your less than mystery dollars.

It might be fair to say that the real distinction of a "mystery" watch innovator goes to Swiss brand Quinting. Those guys make some wildly interesting electronic quartz watches that for years have used transparent sapphire crystals to mount hands in order to create an "invisible setting" effect. They have cool stuff like chronographs and other interesting watches that apply this principle. While neat, I think Quinting still struggles a bit given their high price and quartz movement interior. That isn't to say that aren't pretty fantastic. On the mechanical watch front, you have some new mystery watch options from Konstantin Chaykin, and now Cartier.

I'd say that Cartier was one of the most impressive brands to visit (again) at SIHH for 2013. A duo of mystery watches delighted us eager watch writers. Now, Cartier has a long history with mystery clocks. Close to 100 years ago they were making a range of beautiful mystery desk and mantle clocks. That heritage has now been miniaturized into a pair of high-end wrist watches in their upper-end collection. One is the Rotonde de Cartier Mystery watch and the other is the Rotonde de Cartier Double Tourbillon Mystery Watch. That latter piece will likely get a dedicated article so stay tuned for more information on that.

A few months before Cartier unveiled the Rotonde Mystery watch our favorite (and possibly only) Russian watch maker Konstantin Chaykin unveiled his new Levitas collection of mystery watches. In execution and principle both of these timepieces are extremely similar. In fact, the layperson may be able to mistake them from a distance. I don't know whether or not the release of both of these timepieces in near proximity was a coincidence or not, but it is interesting that they both came out around the same time. Konstantin Chaykin is a small indie watch maker who isn't exactly a threat to Cartier, but he did technically beat them to the "announcement" punch. Let's look at these pieces more closely to see how they relate - because the price difference is significant.

Cartier's Rotonde Mystery watch is rather lovely and comes in 18k white or rose gold for 2013. I don't think a steel model will ever be available. The Rotonde-style case in this instance is 42mm wide with a ton of distinct Cartier styling. You get that typical deeply cut and engraved dial with blackened sections and Roman numerals for much of the dial. Then there is the "hole" where you see the hands. Just in case you aren't familiar with these systems, the movement moves two transparent sapphire crystals that have the hands mounted on them. It creates the illusion that the hands are floating in space. The effect is interesting, but as many people commented when I first put an image of this on Instagram and Facebook while at the show, it wasn't super sexy to see your arm hair through the watch.

Inside of the Cartier Rotonde Mystery watch is an in-house made caliber 9981 MC manually wound movement that is made up of 158 parts and operates at 21,800 bph. It has a power reserve of 48 hours, and is just 4.61mm thick. The entire Cartier watch is just 11.6mm thick. Overall relatively slim for what it is a nice movement. On the rear of the watch you can see the movement in its entirety. The challenge for a movement such as this is moving the relatively heavy discs which can effect accuracy tremendously.

Things are a bit different in the Levitas watch with Konstantin Chaykin's also in-house made caliber KMR 02-0 manually wound movement. And by a "bit different" I really mean just a bit. Only watch movement nerds will have a lot to say on this. Functionally the two movements are quite closely related. You'll notice that the Levitas watch has a significantly larger opening for the "mystery" dial. This means that the movement has much less space - a considerable challenge over the Cartier 9981 MC. The KMR 02-0 is a bit thicker at 5.5mm thick but overall takes up less space. It operates at a slower 18,000 bph, and has a shorter power reserve of 33 hours. Konstantin Chaykin also readily admits that the system is not incredibly accurate given the weighty sapphire discs and rates the movement as accurate to about 30-45 seconds a day. Unless told otherwise, I would guess that Cartier's movement isn't terribly off from this number given the same issues. Having said that, I think that Cartier's watch is probably a bit more accurate given the smaller discs. Last, it is worth noting that there are two versions of the Konstantin Chaykin mystery movement as there are two watch sizes. The larger of which contains an additional complication - a moon phase indicator.

As you can see there isn't too much terribly different about these movements. The Konstantin Chaykin offers a larger mystery dial and a moon phase indicator on the men's versions, while the Cartier watch offers a longer power reserve and arguably more accuracy - as well as the desirable Cartier name. Not sure if one should wear this timepiece assuming it will be accurate beyond showing everyone exactly how much of a "watch tan" you have. Both watches have precious metal case options, though the Konstantin Chaykin Levitas offers a steel model as well.

While the Cartier Rotonde Mystery is 42mm wide, the men's version of the Levitas is 44mm wide. As I said, there are 18k white or rose gold options, as well as steel models available. Note that Cartier also offers a full pave with diamonds version of its piece. Konstantin Chaykin also offers a few dial variations, with Roman or Arabic numerals and other decorative elements on the dial. There are also a few types of hands. No doubt the Cartier piece is more classic in style, but you get something a bit more unique with Konstantin Chaykin.

There is a 40mm wide version of the Levitas available as a women's piece. It also comes in an "Art" range that has interesting and more high-end dials. Some of the Levitas Art models also come with diamond covered cases (in case you wanted to know). When it comes down to it, 2013 is certainly a good year for mystery watches. If there is a market for these timepieces then we will find out soon. I think the watches are cool and will do reasonably well. Of course, there are some practical considerations to wearing these - namely that you will see part of your wrist through the watch each time you or your friends look at the dial. It was recommended to me (in jest but you could do it) that you could just selectively shave a round area on your wrist under the dial. So, by all means go for it.

None of these mechanical mystery watches are inexpensive, and predictably the Cartier Rotonde Mystery watches are more expensive. These retail for $52,500 Ref. W1556223 in pink gold and $56,000 Ref. W1556224 in white gold. The Levitas collection from Konstantin Chaykin offers more models that range from 20,950 Euros in steel to 26,500 Euros in rose gold for the 44mm men's models. The smaller ladies pieces with the hand-done art dials range from about 30,000 - 35,000 Euros. cartier.com konstantin-chaykin.com

martes, 26 de febrero de 2013

MB&F HM4 Final Edition Watch

Among controversial watch brands there are controversial models. MB&F is no stranger to this. While I personally found a lot to enjoy in the HM4 watch collection it was not everyone's favorite. Which is less than ironically the case for the HM1, HM2, HM3, and now the HM5. MB&F sort of relishes in the love and hate relationship people sometimes have with their products. I mention all this not to state the obvious but because I think that MB&F itself had this relationship with the HM4. Not that they disliked the watch, but rather that it proved so difficult to play around with - making for a difficult watch/watch designer relationship.

Consider watches like the HM2 and the HM3. Each of those enjoyed a range of rather impressive and diverse variations. I won't go into specifics, but the novice reader can spend a few minutes searching the aBlogtoWatch archives because I believe we covered them all. But just think of some of the examples. The HM2 watch version with the all-sapphire front plate, the HM2 designed by Alain Silberstein. Or how about the multitude of HM3 watches? They aren't even done yet with those. There was the fantastical jewelry collection owl versions done with Boucheron, and an evolution on the design with the Frog. The HM4 got a few paint jobs, and a panda rider.

Now, the HM4 Thunderbolt goes out with a model simply called the "Final Edition." The anticlimactic name halts the limited production model with an all-black version that has hoods over the time and power reserve dials to hide them from uncouth onlookers. I mean really, how dare people try to read the time off MY watch without asking? Hooligans...

I can't help but get the feeling that MB&F is/was stuck with the core design of the HM4 so much that they could not offer wild variations. The case and movement were so unique, the inner sapphire case segment so expensive that it was just too much effort to change the watch while still having it make financial sense and still being able to call it an HM4. I know none of this for a fact, but it merely looks this way to me. That is a shame because the HM4 was truly one of my favorites. Offering it with a cool painted and riveted case with the Razzle Dazzle & Double Trouble was totally cool, but it felt more like a fancy paint job than a meaningful variation. Seeing the HM4 versions that MB&F offered all together sort of compounds that sentiment. Despite saying all this, looking at the overall case and concept, I don't think I could have suggested to MB&F any meaningful ways on how to change it. There just wasn't that much room to play with.

Upset I am not, but it does make for an interesting observation. I have a feeling that in the future, the HM4 will be one of the more highly sought after and collectible of the Horological Machines because it is unique even among unique watches given how everything, and I mean everything about it was ultra-custom. Another unique part of the HM4 collection was that it was never technically a limited edition - at least not by name. MB&F said they would make a certain amount each year. However, they did say that they would only make a certain amount of HM4 movements (100 of them). What does that mean? Well basically that each model was technically a limited edition, but that at launch they had no idea what all of those models would be. They promised 100 movements to play around with and that was it.

The limited edition amounts of each of the HM4 models was staggeringly low - say eight or 18 pieces only. The Final Edition is limited to eight pieces. It looks like 2013 will be the final year of the Thunderbolt and its kin. One hundred pieces will be made and one of the more unique MB&F models will be laid to rest. I think that the HM4 was simply a great technical and logistical challenge for MB&F. It is my guess, but it would make sense given all that we have seen.

So getting back to the HM4 Final Edition we have two square hoods over the dials and a dark gray/black-coated titanium case. It looks just as cool as ever, but I prefer the original with its rounder dials. Having said that, the darker color of the Final Edition is pretty cool. The only other dark colored HM4 was a limited piece (of one) produced for Marcus (a watch store on Bond Street) in London with an all black case. So in total only nine HM4s in black were ever made.

As odd as it still looks, the HM4 is very comfy on the wrist. The flexible front lugs and thick strap make for a nice fit. It is still cool to look through the sapphire crystal middle section of the case to view the manually wound movement that looks like a Star Trek spaceship. As before, the HM4 features just the time and a useful power reserve indicator. This watch is all about the design and concept versus the mechanical complication. The watch features two crowns, one is for adjusting the time, and one is to wind the movement. With just 100 pieces around the world, the HM4 remains a rare treat and unique model that helped solidify MB&F as among today's great art watch makers, even though the HM4 perhaps never realized its full potential in a variety of forms. The Horological Machine No. 4 Final Edition watch will be limited to just 8 pieces with a price of $230,000. Consider that the HM4 Thunderbolt had a price of $158,000 at launch. mbandf.com

Tech specs from MB&F: Horological Machine No4 Final Edition; HM4 Final Edition is a limited edition of 8 pieces in blackened titanium


Three-dimensional horological engine developed 100% by MB&F
Manual winding with two mainspring barrels in parallel
Power reserve: 72 hours
Balance frequency: 21,600bph/3Hz
Number of components: 311
Number of jewels: 50


Hours, minutes and power reserve indicator
Hours and minutes on right dial, power reserve indicator on left dial
Separate crowns for time setting and winding


Grade 5 titanium coated with black PVD
Dimensions: 54mm wide x 52mm long x 24mm high
Number of components: 67
Articulation of lugs: 3°

Sapphire crystals:

Five sapphire crystals: 2 x dials, 1 x central case section, 2 x display panels (top and bottom)

Strap & Buckle:

Hand-stitched calfskin strap with titanium custom-designed folding buckle attached to articulated lugs

sábado, 23 de febrero de 2013

Nomos Glashütte Zürich Weltzeit Watch: A Complicated Meditation

Nomos Glashütte is one of those brands that any watch lover comes to know in a somewhat more intermediate stage of watch appreciation. Certain ideas of what makes a fine watch are realized at this stage, and Nomos Glashütte is fully formed to cater to the people who come up the ladder.

First, we have the in-house movements that power every Nomos watch. It is to be said that any watch brand with their own movements is instantly respected and set apart from the many brands that use the ubiquitously ETA-sourced movements.

Then, there is the location of the manufacture in Glashütte Germany, arguably the second most important place for fine watch-making after Switzerland. Indeed, this is a place that has something of a mystical air, coming as it has into prominence more recently. In fact, Nomos counts among its neighbours in the small town of Glashütte, other notable brands like A. Lange & Söhne and Glashütte Original.

Third, we have the price, which is a thoroughly accessible 4,080 Euros from the online Nomos store. Mind you as well, that this is for the Zürich Weltzeit that is under review, and is the current flagship of the brand.

As a brand then, Nomos Glashütte has all the essential ingredients of a watch lover's brand. Aside from these ingredients, one only has to look at the range of watches from Nomos to instantly recognize the strong design identity that immediately sets them apart.

The stark, severe Bauhaus inspired design, emphasizing function and minimalism is self-evident where not an inch of excess is to be found anywhere. Indeed, Nomos watches have been called minimalist, and the design identity is so strong that it extends to the packaging. I received this Nomos Zürich Weltzeit in a slim cardboard box that was only big enough for the watch to lay flat in. Protected by two pieces of dense black foam, the inner box where the watch is slides out from the main cover to be revealed in all its glory

Mind you, while the box is simple, it is strong, well made and serves the purpose of protecting the watch without any superfluous frills. That to me, was an unmatched delight, and proves the disciplined approach that Nomos has made to its entire product offering.

The Nomos Zurich Weltzeit is a watch that I've been longing to have a look at for a long time. It is the flagship of the range, with a complication that I particularly like, and I was interested to see how Nomos had placed its unique stamp on an otherwise common complication.

This Nomos Weltzeit that I've had for three weeks has opened the door to a quietly meditative watch wearing experience. This is the first Nomos watch that I have been able to wear for a reasonable amount of time, and it exemplifies the design ethos so thoroughly that I can safely say that design wise, there is nothing else quite like it.

While the watch is technically a GMT in the sense that one can only keep track of two time-zones at once, I am willing to consider it something of an in-between type complication between a normal GMT and a full world-timer. I offer two reasons. The first is that because it retains the world cities around the dial which still gives the feel of a world-timer. The second reason is that changing the time-zone is almost so effortless that it is no big deal to see what the time is in another city. In fact, given the way the complication works, I would even go so far as to say that it becomes a distinct pleasure to press the button at 2 o’clock in order to hear the click of the mechanism as the hour hand moves in conjunction with the city.

Consider that normal GMT watches with city rings require you to move the bezel to match a GMT hand in order to read the time in another city. Compared to the Nomos Weltzeit, that is just a pain in the ass.

So how do you use the watch?

First, you set your home time (heimat) at the little wheel at 3 o’clock. After that, you use a little pin to disengage the mechanism, and set the same time on the main hour and minute hands while synchronizing it to your home time zone. After that, your watch is set. Home time moves on its own accord, and the little pusher at 2 o’clock can then be pressed in order to move the main hour hand to the new time zone of your choice.

So, imagine now that you are at home in London and you are flying to New York. Your home time will always be showing you London time in a 24 hour format (so you know if it is day or night at home). When you land in New York, all you have to do is to use the little pusher to advance the city wheel to New York, aligned with the marker at 12 o’clock, and the main hand moves synchronously to show you local time in New York. Simple and effortless wouldn't you say?

Practical usage aside, there is much to enjoy about this watch as well.

The design is something quite breathtaking and the quiet beauty that I have mentioned strikes you at moments when you want to check the time. It would have been quite possible to busy up the dial given the amount of things that it has to have in order to function as a world-timer. However, Nomos has been able to give you functionality while retaining the minimalist ethos. I have to say that it is quite an achievement. In use, I was able to look quickly at what I needed to, and not be distracted by other things. I hazard to guess that the choice of colors for the markings on the dial has something to do with it.

Furthermore, the modest size of 40 mm allows this watch to disappear under your shirt cuff, and function as an outstanding dress or suit watch. And if you are working in an industry where keeping track of the time in other parts of the world is important, there is no better watch than this one.

Beauty in this watch also extends to those moments when you take it off, and turn the watch over to look at its display case back. The extent of the finishing on the movement is exceptional.

It was almost a disappointment when I had to pack up this watch to return it to Nomos after my time with it under review. I have had a wonderful time with it and I am sure that if you are looking at this watch as a next purchase, you will have a similar kind of appreciation of what this watch can give you.

I for one have placed this watch on my “to buy” list, and hopefully will be able to enjoy it again very soon.

Technical Specification

Calibre: NOMOS calibre xi

Case: stainless steel, ten parts; diameter 39.9 mm; sapphire crystal glass front & back; height 10.85 mm

Dial: galvanized, white silver-plated, with world time and 24-hour indicator

Hands: rhodium-plated, faceted

Water resistance: 3 atm

Lug width: 20 mm

Strap: Shell Cordovan black, size M

Necessary Data
>Brand: Nomos
>Model: Zurich Weltzeit
>Price: 4,800 Euros
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we'd recommend it to first: You want an affordable world-timer with an in-house made movement and the concept of Bauhaus design makes you happy.
>Best characteristic of watch: Good value for the money with a useful movement.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Well-made and meticulously detailed, the overall design of the watch has zero bling and will turn off luxury seekers.

Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon 4 Watch

Back in 2009 Harry Winston released the first Histoire de Tourbillon 1 watch. I rather enjoyed it especially as it looked a lot like the Sand People from Star Wars. Since then, the Histoire de Tourbillon watch collection has been a sort of "Opus light" that explored new and interesting ways of presenting a tourbillon watch. Harry Winston has just released the fourth iteration of the Histoire de Tourbillon which sadly doesn't look enough like any science fiction character for me to include supplementary article art. It is however, the next to last member of this collection that will end with the Histoire de Tourbillon 5 watch sometime in the future.

Looking like a mix between some of the more complicated Ocean watches and a Panerai style cushion case, the Histoire de Tourbillon 4 once again reminds us of its family with the blue and orange accents which mark the Histoire de Tourbillon collection. This piece also follows suit with a range of watches over the last few years with bubbles on or under the sapphire crystal. There is of course the obvious similarity to the bubble on the Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb (we covered the most recent one here), but also think of Greubel Forsey's GMT, and other pieces which try to go all "wild half orb" on the dial.

I want to add that I've been regularly impressed by the quality and fit and finishing of Harry Winston's most high-end timepieces when it comes to their final retail models. This includes Opus collection watches as well as Histoire de Tourbillon pieces. While the prototypes they show us are good enough, it is the final retail versions that look best. Writers like us rarely get to see these pieces, but on the rare occasions that I have, I am really happy with the results.

So what is the Histoire de Tourbillon 4 watch all about? The new evolution on the tourbillon here is very Greubel Forsey in style with a triple tourbillon that is a tourbillon inside of a tourbillon inside of a tourbillon. By all accounts it is a total pain in the ass to assemble. The inner tourbillons rotate at a faster rate, while the outside tourbillon rotates once each 300 seconds. Harry Winston will soon provide us with a video (that may be in this post by the time you are reading it), but for now you'll have to use your imagination on how this all works. Anyhow, the middle tourbillon rotates once each 75 seconds, and the most inner tourbillon that actually contains the escapement rotates once each 45 seconds. This is gonna be a darn cool timepiece to watch in action.

You'll notice that the tourbillon components are made from a mix of titanium (not surprising) and 18k gold (a bit surprising). The titanium is PVD treated for better color. It is all hand-polished and assembled of course. This is all under a bubbled section of the sapphire crystal and the watch height in total is 21.7mm thick. The Histoire de Tourbillon 4 cushion-shaped case will be 47mm wide with both 18k white gold and Zalium (a Harry Winston alloy similar to titanium). You can see how the front and back pieces of the watch are white gold and sandwich the middle Zalium segment.

Inside the Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon 4 watch is their new caliber HW4501 that is manually wound with a 50 hour power reserve. The movement apparently requires 160 hours to build and assemble (each one) and is comprised of 345 parts. Indications on the dial are simple but interesting. You have a dedicated dial for the hours, one for the minutes, and a power reserve indicator. There is no dedicated seconds dial save for the hand on the tourbillon that is like a five minute seconds indicator. Though you can track the hand in 60 second increments if you are timing something.

Overall this is yet another cool, polarizing, and beautifully over-the-top high-end luxury timepiece which people like me love. Not that I dislike Patek Philippe at all, but if all we got were high-end watches that looked like Patek Philippe I would probably stop blogging about watches pretty fast. Harry Winston will produce just 20 pieces of the limited edition Histoire de Tourbillon 4 watch, and once again it is the fourth piece out of a total of what will be five that will make up the Histoire de Tourbillon watch collection. harrywinston.com

Technical Specifications from Harry Winston

Name: Histoire de Tourbillon 4
Reference: HCOMDT47WZ001
Patented Movement Caliber HW4501
Type: Mechanical, manual-winding, tri-axial tourbillon
Dimensions of movement
- Diameter: 40.40 mm
- Height: 17.30 mm
Number of components
- Complete movement: 345 components
- Tourbillon: 134 components
- Tourbillon weight: 1.57 gr
Number of jewels: 59
Power reserve: 50 hours
- Rapid rotating twin barrels in series (1 turn in 3.2 hours)
- One barrel equipped with a slipping spring to avoid excess tension
Balance wheel: Variable-inertia balance fitted with 18 gold adjustment screws
Alt. / hour: 21’600 (3Hz)
Balance spring
- Phillips curves
- Geneva-type stud
Main plate: Titanium, micro-blasted, hand-chamfered, PVD treated Bridges
- Titanium, polished, hand-chamfered, PVD treated
- Polished gold, hand-chamfered intermediate carriage bridge
- Internal carriage containing the balance spring and the escapement pinion rotating cycle of 45 seconds
- Intermediate carriage rotating cycle of 75 seconds
- External carriage rotating cycle of 300 seconds
- Carriage pillars in titanium, circular graining, PVD treated

-Hours, minutes
-300 seconds indication on the tourbillon
-Power-reserve indicator
Case Material
-18K polished white gold
-Zalium with DLC treatment case band, arches, lugs and tourbillon bezel
Case dimensions
-Diameter: 47 mm
-Height: 21.7 mm
-Curved sapphire crystal on the tourbillon
-Harry Winston logo engraved on the tourbillon bezel
Case back
- Partially open
- Sapphire crystal, 18k white gold, ZaliumTM plate with DLC treatment
Water resistance: 30 meters
Crown: 18K white gold and rubber Dial
- Three-dimensional dial, black gold finish, with apertures on the movement
- Black galvanic flange and appliques
- Black and silver applied hours, minutes and power-reserve indicator with horizontal satin-brushed counters centers
- Engraved, black galvanic “HW” emerald logo at the center of the hours counter
- Indexes filled with black, grey, orange and blue varnish
Strap: Hand-sewn black alligator leather Buckle
18K white gold, double-ardillon buckle Limited Edition
20 pieces Collection Histoire de Tourbillon

jueves, 21 de febrero de 2013

Glashutte Original Grande Cosmopolite Watch

What exactly is a Cosmopolite? A "Grande" one at that? You may find out... In 2012 at Baselworld, I was excited about my forthcoming meeting with Glashutte Original. The (probably) under-appreciated Swatch Group-owned brand makes some fantastic watches. While they have their place in the Swatch Group and can't do everything they like, they still abide by Germanic principles to produce useful, high-end watches focused more on function and tradition versus mere luxury lifestyle. So I waited eagerly for my meeting, I even showed up with my own Glashutte Original watch that I actually own! They sadly didn't seem to notice or care. Like many other brands, 2012 was not exactly prolific when it came to the release of new models. Glashutte Original had a series of line extensions, some new sizes, but nothing really new. Guess I will have to wait until this upcoming Baselworld to see fresh stuff, but there was one interesting piece I did come across...

It was not however until months later that I had a chance to experience the Glashutte Original Grande Cosmopolite timepiece hands-on. As a limited edition of just 25 pieces, there won't be many of these. One has to wonder why a brand even goes to that effort. It is a branding experience for sure, but think of it through the rationalization of any normal mass-volume product maker. Three to four years of development and prototyping to make just 25 watches? Maybe a few more after that. You'd need to charge an arm and a leg just to break even. Which is actually what tends to happen given that pieces like the highly complex Grande Cosmopolite are brand makers versus money makers.

While the price of this watch is undoubtedly high, it could be higher given what Glashutte Original or any other brand would want to profit from the development of such a timepiece. This is after all the most complicated watch ever produced by the German brand as far as we know of. In a nutshell, the Grande Cosmopolite is a tourbillon-based world timer with a perpetual calendar that is able to track 37 versus "just" 24 time zones. Of course it also has Glashutte Original's Panorama Date (which is their name for a big date window).

The rear of the watch is hunter style, meaning it opens up via a hinge like the backs of many pocket watches. The inside of the case opening has some details on the world time function, and you get to see the rear of the movement where a convenient power reserve indicator is located for the manually wound in-house made Glashutte Original movement. It is all very nice and charming. According to Glashutte Original it will take about two years to produce the entire 25 piece run. There might be more after that, but the "original" Grande Cosmopolite case will only come in platinum. However, this being a prototype version they travel around with, the piece you see has a steel case. Try not to be too disappointed.

Given the wealth of information on the dial the face is surprisingly easy to digest. Two opposite windows near 9 and 3 o'clock handle all of the calendar information as well as a day/night indicator - in concert of course with the big date indicator. The top of the dial is dedicated to the large flying tourbillon. On a tangent I thought it was interesting and worth noting that the flying version of the tourbillon (no top bridge) is actually a German Glashutte creation. Anyhow, the lower part of the dial is your reference time, and two little windows near 8 o'clock indicate the local time. Glashutte Original will also customize the watch to show your reference time (home city) as your actual home city versus the standard airport code for the normal time zone reference city.

Remember when I said that the Glashutte Original Grande Cosmopolite tracks 37 time zones? Well it does. That means the world time function doesn't just cycle through 24 time zones moving the hour hand around, but it takes into consideration some of the half hour and quarter hour time zones certain countries have (perhaps defiantly) decided to create. Not only that, but it offers you those times in both daylight saving and standard times, and lets you know what places even have their time change at all. I really can't wait until daylight saving time is eradicated everywhere (by the way).

Another positive thing about the mechanism is that you can adjust the perpetual calendar both backwards and forwards in time. This seemingly obvious feature is by no means standard on most picky perpetual calendars. So in a nutshell Glashutte Original has developed a watch with a rather useful world timer, a rather useful perpetual calendar, and done so in a way that not only seems to improve upon the rest, but also combine all of it together in a single package. Oh, and all with a flying tourbillon. As is the case most of the time, tourbillons just sort of seem like thrown in bonuses to sweeten the luxury deal. It is like the final "wow" moment in infomercials. "And that's not all folks. If you order right now, the good people at Glashutte Original will throw in a flying tourbillon!" It's like I lose money by not buying it right?

The engine inside this rather impressive creation is the Glashutte Original Caliber 89-01 manually wound movement with a three-day power reserve. The movement operates at 21,600 bph and has two diamond endstones inside (for decorative purposes). It looks quite lovely through the back of the case, but you can tell that most of the interesting stuff is hiding under the dial.

All in all, the Grande Cosmopolite may have a silly sounding name but as a timepiece, Glashutte Original did a rather good job. They dutifully innovated with something new, made it useful, and put it in a package that someone can actually use on a daily basis. However, with a 48mm wide case (in platinum) it will be a heavy little number to lug around. As is common with high-end pieces of this nature, Glashutte Original includes a case with a crown winding claw to keep the calendar accurate. Though they would prefer that you travel with this watch. For the mechanical watch lover with a private jet and a hectic schedule... this is the watch for that person. Price is 325,000 Euros (about $360,000). glashuette-original.com

miércoles, 20 de febrero de 2013

Devon Tread 1 Exoskeleton Watch

One of the new Devon watches for 2013 to be presented at Baselworld will be this Exoskeleton version of the Tread 1 (reviewed here). This will be Devon's highest-end watch to-date. While the core electro-mechanical movement from the Tread 1 remains more or less the same, and the overall design is certainly "Tread 1", this piece is a different beast altogether. For one thing Devon is thinking about making it in precious materials such as 18k white or rose gold. More importantly, it will be highly "skeletonized."

Devon will likely use the same "ballistic polycarbonate" as the crystal for the many see-through elements of the watch. The plates over the time-telling treads are also new. One of the more interesting new features is that instead of coming on a strap, the Tread 1 Exoskeleton will come on a bracelet - also skeletonized. This is the most T1000 Terminator-worthy Devon watch to-date. It just needs glowing red parts. Skynet would be proud.

Specific details and pricing will need to wait until April when Devon will show off actual versions of the Tread 1 Exoskeleton. This is the watch to make Devon fans even more passionate, and the reverse is true for those who aren't into the brand's concept. devonworks.com

Romain Jerome Space Craft Watch

Ideally, there is a video attached to this article which describes in more detail the story behind what you are seeing. This watch is the Romain Jerome Space Craft, and like most things traveling in space, it is a lone object which arrived from a mysterious place. Romain Jerome had the compulsion to create something unique and unlike anything else in their collection. Something that also would not have anything else like it in the wider collection in the future. A random act of design, the Space Craft is still something that seems recognizable in 2013 given the existence of a fellow rare mechanical object.

No doubt you are going to connect this wedge shaped driver's style watch with the Horological Machine No. 5 "On The Road Again" by MB&F (reviewed here). And in fact, from a design perspective, you'd be right. Two rather limited edition wedge shaped driver-style watches released within months of one another, from two of Geneva's more interesting watch makers. Though the personality of the watches is worlds apart, the Space Craft and the HM5 have a surprising amount in common. These qualities are less about copying or one brand following the other, but more about the reality that the Swiss watch industry is a small place.

Romain Jerome and MB&F are actually located a few blocks apart in Geneva and of course are friendly with one another. They have also used some of the same designers and suppliers. More specifically, watch designer Eric Giroud frequently worked with MB&F and, Jean-Marc Wiederrecht and his company Agenhor have been a major part of some of MB&F's more spirited movements. The same two men worked on the Romain Jerome Space Craft watch. It is a small world indeed. Nevertheless, in earnest, both MB&F and Romain Jerome claim that the two designs had nothing to do with one another. It is a fact that both models required quite a while to develop and design, and it was really just a coincidence that the brands released such similar watches within less than half a year of one another. Having said that, upon close inspection, the pieces are quite different.

According to Romain Jerome CEO Manuel Emch, the Space Craft is a side-read watch inspired by 1970's futurism design, architecture, and Darth Vader's helmet. Emch is frank about the inspirations, but the resultant watch is no mere throw-back design gimmick. On his desk, Emch has models and prototype versions of the Space Craft. A year ago he showed me early versions of the watch and the final timepiece is quite cool - albeit sharp. Those angles don't just look pointy, they are pointy. Using "anglism," the Space Craft is all about sharp corners and flat surfaces. It is sort of a watch that a mother might warn "don't hurt anyone" before letting you put it on.

It is true that I was wearing a prototype, and RJ states that no doubt the final versions of the Space Craft will be a bit softer to the touch. Not too soft I hope, the many sharp angles of the design really help it to look distinct. The case is made from polished pieces of titanium as well as black PVD coated steel. You can tell that the construction wasn't simple, and to achieve the desired look, the parts need to fit together very well. Low tolerances here! Everything about the concept is about design. It looks like something from Star Wars or Star Trek, vehicle or building. You choose.

Inside the watch is an automatic movement based on the Swiss ETA 2892, but heavily modified thanks to Jean-Marc Weiderrecht's team at Agenhor. The movement has a front displaying jumping retrograde hour hand/marker, and a disc-style minute counter on the top of the case visible through a window. The hour indicator has a red marker behind a row of numerals to indicate the hour. It jumps to each hour as time passes.

Yes, you oddly need to consult the top of the watch after the front of the watch to get the time. Hours first, then minutes. Though odd as it is, it isn't a big deal. The watch is actually quite interesting to look at from most angles. Romain Jerome will be the first to tell you that their products are mostly not for people with a dire need to know the time with accuracy always.

It is probably a good thing that you can see the Space Craft watch on my wrist. It is not actually terribly large, but that doesn't mean it is necessarily small. The watch, while being very modern in its design, is more classic in its dimensions. Though, it is a tall watch in parts. The red color in the design and the complications makes me think that the watch is sort of a mechanical-styled KITT car. A 1980s throwback for sure, but this watch attempts to throw backwards and peek forward.

The Space Craft gets a lot of points for its aesthetics, its concept, and its execution. It is certainly cool. For sure cool, and not just because it is deliberately trying to be different or its 1970s theme. It is cool because it works together as a whole while still taking into consideration what watch lovers and design lovers are interested in. At first I was quite perplexed by the entire thing. Though, the shape and angularity of the design are elegant and very visually interesting. According to Romain Jerome it is a good timepiece to wear with jeans. What do you think?

Limited to 99 pieces, the Space Craft might end here with Romain Jerome satisfied with the run or we might see some additional versions in the future. The price is as Romain Jerome describes as "accessible." Which they remind us is not a synonym for affordable. It is just less expensive than other such "concept" watches. Price is about 20,000 Swiss Francs. romainjerome.com


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sábado, 16 de febrero de 2013

Linde Werdelin Oktopus II Moon Watch

Linde Werdelin must be working overtime in preparation for BaselWorld as they have announced a new edition of the Oktopus II, called the Moon. Three years ago, LW launched the Oktopus Moonphase and these new models build upon the same platform but will be limited to just 59 units. Why 59? Two different variations of the new Moon models and our lunar cycle takes a total of 29.5 days to complete. Ariel was able to get some images of the piece when seeing the brand recently so we can show you a hands-on look in addition to Linde Werdelin's pictures.

Units one through twelve will consist of Oktopus II Moon Gold versions which feature five-piece cases made of DLC titanium and rose gold with a ceramic bezel. The remaining 47 production units will be examples of the Oktopus II Moon Black, which employs a similar case design save for complete DLC titanium construction and blue dial detailing. Both iterations of the Oktopus II Moon series are 44mm wide with a height of 15mm.

Linde Werdelin does not specifically mention what movement is used in the new Oktopus II Moon models but the moon phase complication is now being produced in-house. The moon phase design, which was inspired by moonlit night diving, features a distinct layer in the three-layer dial design. Showing the user a progression of the upcoming and past lunar stages, each moon illustration is luminous and will glow to mimic the light reflected from the moon's surface. Additionally, this 300m dive watch has luminous hands and markers as well as prominent 3, 9 and 12 numerals. The crystal is sapphire and treated for anti-reflection and the screw down case back shows the same Octopus design that was used on past models and was actually drawn by Morten Linde.

While I am generally partial to LW's Spido watches, the Oktopus line is unlike anything else being made today. Quite distinctly a Linde Werdelin design while still being distinct from the Spido series. While the Oktopus II Moon is capable of 300m water resistance, we doubt this is the kind of watch you would select for your next dive trip. The bezel design cannot be used for countdown timing and there is no numbered minute scale present in the dial layout. So while the Oktopus II can easily survive a dive, we would recommend LW's own Reef dive computer attachment if you're planning a serious dive. As an everyday watch with an interesting complication, the Oktopus II Moon fits rather well into the Linde Werdelin lineup. As with all LW's, the pricing is well into the luxury scale with the Black version selling for CHF 12,500 (~$13650 USD) and the Gold variant carrying a list price of CHF 27,000 (~$29500 USD). I really like the Black version with its F-117-like stealthy black coating and hard angular case. Both models are very limited editions and offer yet another uniquely Linde Werdelin perspective on a modern and very masculine dive watch. lindewerdelin.com