Not everything that shines is Gold...

There is a growing interest in more complex metals and materials used in watches recently. Some of them, like ALUSIC and ALACRITE 602, have never been used before. This was due for several reasons; not commercial, impossible to machine, too hard, can't find enough, too expensive, not discovered yet, etc... Today with new technologies there has been a recent number of watches with alternative materials. It is unfortunate that most of them are either Limited Editions or are no longer produced. Here is a list of some watches that are made out of more exotic stuff;

Harry Winston "Z2" - Zalium
Royal Oak "Concept" - Alacrite 602
IWC "Flieger" - Ceramic
SINN "U2" - U-boat (German Submarine) Steel
Panerai "172" - Tantalum

Will we see a growing number of alternatives to steel and gold in the future? I sure hope so. Let's see what this year brings us?

NOKIA "8800"

This Nokia is probably the most beatiful phone on the market today. A design based upon the 8810 a few years ago (now, that was a great phone!). The desk-stand and acccesories are great and the screen is extraordinary. The down side; the software is simply unbearable! You can't screen calls because the phone won't memorize the settings. You will have to use the on/off solution many times. There software is jammed with numerous bugs. Embarrassing is the fact that after 8 months in the market Nokia have not been capable of fixing the software. That is unacceptable, considering this is a 900 dollar/euro phone! If you use the phone a lot (during an average business day) the battery won't last to the evening. Hence, they had to include an extra battery with the Phone. Sound quality is nothing to cheer about, forget calling when in loud environments.

A pathetic performance from Nokia. Almost every Nokia product needs software updates after release. They are simply not capable of releasing a properly finished product. If they made only 15 great phones instead of 50 bad ones...

Ah, almost forgot, the "Premium Service" they publicize with this phone is a complete joke. Depending in what Country you live in, and if the technician feels like it, you will get barely adequate service. Read the fine-print and don't expect anything else that average and poor service from Nokia.

VERDICT: Horrible!!! If the software does not change, spend your money on something else...

UPDATE: Nokia has issued a new firmware (3.78). This seems to fix most bugs. Make sure you have this version on your 8800.

The Bang!!!

Considered an AP "Montoya" knockoff by many, the Big-Bang has put Hublot back on track in markets that where dead for them not so long ago. An extraordinary achievement by Jean Claude Biver. I was never a fan of Hublot but I must admit the Big-Bang is honestly priced. Sure, it isn't engineered out of a solid piece of gold, and the "sandwich" case considerably reduces production cost... but most people don't care, especially their target market.

When handling it feels surprisingly comfortable despite its size and weight. The strap is a bit too soft for me but it's more conformable to wear than harder rubber straps. The finishing and details are adequate and well worthy of its price-tag. Nothing to object it's approximately 17,000$. I personally like the rose gold and Tantalum bezel combo better. Extreme reactions generally accompany interesting products. No sense in denying that it looks gaudy and large, you might not like it but it's just what the market demands.


Brace yourself...

... for the avalanche of tasteless redesigns, not-so special editions, diamonds and bling galore as if it where a novelty, yawn... Yes, it smells like Basel World and the Geneva SIHH! It won't take long until you are bombarded by high quantities of inconsequential garbage. Here, you will be spared. I simply refuse to post shit.

What I might do, is a resume of the good and bad stuff this year at the fairs...

Basel World...

PROJECT: Spaceview "Part I"

As far as I can remember my first love was not Swiss but American. A Bulova Accutron "Spaceview" from the 60's owned by my father. I cherished it like a treasure for quite some time. Dazzled by its looks, hypnotized by its serene hummm. Loved that the crown was beneath on not on the side. The lack of face and view of the electronics. Then one day it was stolen.

The Spaceview has haunted me ever since, and it's only recently that I have decided to take maters in my own hands. I just bought a Spaceview from a collector and Accutron specialist Harold L. Bartell. I will receive the Spaceview next week and will attempt to do the job myself.

My next step is to find parts for the Spaceview I will try to restore.

Will keep you updated as things develop...

Jaeger LeCoultre "AMVOX 2"

At Last, somebody has come up with a different approach to the chronograph! Activated by pressing on the glass (at 12 o'clock) for the start/stop function again (at 6 o'clock) for the reset. Part of the mechanism is displayed to demonstrate, it actually looks like the brake calipers of a car.

At the present time there will only be 250 of this particular version on the market. There are no plans, at the present time, to include this movement in a regular production model, so once they are gone... Even if years from now it is re-issued, this one was the first and will always hold its ground. Could this be the sequel to the "Memovox Polaris" in years to come?

The AMVOX 2 will be available at your dealer in June 2006.

The price: 12,500 Euros.

Jaeger LeCoultre...

MIH "Watch"

Will be, without a doubt, a popular collectible with the watch-lover crowd. Designed to be minimalist to the extreme, it is a fantastic achievement at that price. What is even more stunning is that a large amount of the proceeds go to the "MUSEE INTERNATIONAL D'HORLOGERIE" to keep our sickness (not illness) alive for generations to come. A watch for the true "connoisseur". The annual production is around 200 units per year.

Ludwig Oechslin (Curator of the MIH) together with Paul Gerber and Chistian Gafner have designed this little gem from the ground up. An annual calendar, mono-pusher chrono, 30 minute chrono display on the back, for 5,000 sFR... awesome.


Nautilus Hype?

Few watches have risen to stardom like the Patek 3712 in such short time. It was announced several months ago that it was being discontinued (although orders are still being served until the whole run is finished). Some believe that it is a way to push sales of all Nautilus before the 30 year anniversary model and clear the old stock. Amongst others there is a rumor that claims that Patek will no longer produce any more steel watches. Once this rumor spread the 3710 joined the craze. The 3710, also known as the Jumbo, has been one of Patek's "hard to find" watches for a while now. Much more appreciated in Europe than in the US, it was already a difficult catch. Both, the 3710 and 3712, are rising in the market to outrageous prices as rumors spread like bonfire. Where the truth is in all of this? I wish I knew.

Personally I doubt that steel production will be stopped, since it would be quite stupid to market something as a sports watch and use precious metals. Gold and Platinum have no advantages over steel other that aesthetics, and even that sometimes is debatable. A sports watch in a soft and heavy metal case is not a good idea. In the mean time the presentation of the 30th anniversary has been delayed until the last quarter of this year.

Patek Philippe...

iPod "Video"

Again something completely off the subject. Sorry, can't help it! This is only a mockup from the new iPod Video that will be presented soon. Can't wait to get my hands on it although I am slightly worried that the battery life (apparently only 2 hours of video) will not make it such a great travel companion as the previous model.

Here is the source...

Self Service...

For many of us that love when things are on time there are several new watches that now permit you to adjust your watch your self. No need to send it for service to correct those 14 plus/minus seconds a day. With this new development you can fine-tune anytime you wish! The URWERK 103 and Opus V are amongst the first movement that allow you to adjust without having to open the case. Quite an interesting development that has not been addressed until now. With mechanical watches varying their precision according to temperature, use, age and position the accuracy tends to fluctuate. Sometimes they go slightly faster, sometimes slower. Being such a precision nut I wish all my watches had this option. Unfortunately only Felix Baumgartner's creations offer this regulation feature at present time. I can't wait to see a Lange, Patek or Panerai with this option!

Never has it been so fascinating to look at the back of your watch. I must admit that I love when watches have stuff on the back. There is a growing trend to place things behind to free up the front, let me scoop-up some of my archives and I will post a collection.

Luxury Phones

It was not too long ago when we used to pay around 4,000 $ for a mobile phone. The beast, a mitsubishi I reckon, used to be the size of your briefcase and just as heavy! Many carried it proudly around, some left it in the car, others on the boat. Then came that cream colored Motorola (about 3,000 $) and the size of the 2nd World War field walky-talky that Rommel himself used in the desert campaigns... Today, things have changed quite a bit. Phones are ridiculously small and are jammed with all sorts of interesting features. Operators throw them at you for peanuts plus thousands of free minutes. We where accustomed to the "that" back then, and we are used to "this" now. Then something like VERTU comes along. After all this time we forget and say things like; "I will never pay 4,000 bucks for a phone!". An interesting statement when you paid that much money 15 years ago for a 3 kilo (6 pounds) briefcase with a 4 hour battery life... What is contradictory is that we spend thousands on our watch, yet very little on one of our most crucial day-to-day appliance. Even though I am a watch-nut I must admit that the phone is a much more indispensable item. Which one would you take if you had to choose between one when leaving your home, your watch or your phone? When you forget one of them, which one feels more like you need it? Be honest...

The question is; Is there a market for luxury mobile/cellular phones? You bet there is! It won't be long since we start to see other brands that offer high-quality hardware in electronics. I am certain that Sony will be next in the battle with a Qualia series phone. Can't wait to see what they come up with!

Selling your Soul to the "Bling"

Audemars Piguet has gone a long way since the introduction of the Royal Oak in 1972. Revolutionary in every aspect, the Oak was first to brake the mold with a hi-end/high-cost steel sports watch. Further ahead came the OffShore, and broke the 42 mm barrier. All of us said that nobody would go for that size, it just seemed excessive at the time.

Today many manufacturers (yes, even Patek) have turned to pray to the "God of Bling"... and what seems worse, if you don't, you are in imminent danger of closing down your factory. There have always been markets in demand for diamonds and gold. When a "New Rich" market matured, another came along and picket up the torch. First the Middle East, then Russia and now the Far East. That is no news, what is news is that the latest trend in the US (considered a mature market in the eyes of many) is the "Bling-Factor". Diamonds and oversize timepieces are a growing trend that is starting to penetrate even Europe, manly through the UK. Trend setters like Beckham, Paris Hilton, Jay-Lo, 50 cent, no mater if you like them or not, dictate what is "IN". Many of them promote lifestyles of excess that most people don't share or understand. We all relate in one way or another with the things we buy and image is an important factor in our final choice of purchase. Because trends come and go, will it affect a company and its perception in the years to come? Or can this be fixed by sponsoring an obscure "Tree Foundation" or maybe even some distant "Natural Reserve" further down the line?

So, is AP's move to sign an influential hip/hop Singer/Composer wrong? Will this be a turnoff for many diehard/loyal AP followers? Quite a bold move to go from Nick Faldo and Kasparov to Jay-Z if you ask me... Maybe watches should not be related to people at all.

Time will tell.

BREGUET "Marine"

The best looking Breguet I have seen in a long time! Unfortunately there is only one and it has been sold for 110,000 € at the "Only Watch 2005 charity auction" in Monaco.


Then came Mickey Mouse...

Some time ago, a Greek myth claimed that some artists where blessed with the company of a "Muse" to inspire their creativity. When the Muse left, so did creativity. Now, is this what happened to Gerald Genta? Undoubtedly some of the best watch designs from las century came from Mr. Genta; the Nautilus, Bvlgary-Bvlgary, Vacheron Overseas, IWC Ingenieur... and last but not least, the Royal Oak. Yes, the Oak! Probably the only thing designed in the 70's that has not aged an inch. The original Royal Oak, with its near perfect proportions, is still produced today after 34 years! A real killer, and has been since the day it was introduced in the Basel Fair 1972. His creations are even now big sellers to companies such as Patek and Audemars. Actually, most of his work from the 70's (considered the dark ages of design) is still popular and up to date. As a mater of fact, I dare you to find something from the 70's (watch, car, building, fashion, etc...) that looks good today.

Then came Mickey Mouse...

... and most recently a whole "array" of awful, gaudy and tacky watches. What the hell happened there!?! I must admit I was expecting something extraordinary from what I consider one of the best Watch Designers of the 20th century. But this..? Take a look in here, Gerald Charles...

As much as I admire his previous creations, I must say that I am speechless at this work. Well, maybe "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" after all.

LINDE WERDELIN "The-Power-of-Two"

Just got my hands on the Linde Werdelin "Two-Timer". This is a perfect marriage between mechanical and technological. A match made in heaven for those of us that love technology yet can't go quartz on a watch. You have your diver automatic and when you need to get fancy, slap the computer on and... "vualá"! This baby is wireless to your computer; it measures your pulse, outside temperature, altitude and has a compass. The Linde is much more impressive in the flesh than in pictures. Very well machined and finished. The "Land" computer will only be available end of March so I can't give you my thoughts on that one yet. I am relieved to see that the rear is not sapphire/rear-glass, but solid instead. Divers should not be sapphire it defeats their purpose and considerably lowers it waterproofness. Most manufacturers like to display the movements for commercial reasons, generally a wrong move especially if it's a diver. The insides are quite common. The ETA "2893" is nothing fancy, but it's perfect for what this watch is supposed to accomplish. Remember, this is a sports watch, you do not want something excessively refined and delicate. Plus the ETA is so common that it can be serviced at a relatively low cost anywhere (in the civilized world).

Watches and computers are sold separately so that later you can choose the combination that most suits you. The price of the "Two Timer" with a computer should be around 5,500 Euros.

Linde Werdelin...

Rebirth of the Chrono?

It's on rare occasions that I am happy about a new trend or fashion. Chronos have not done it for me for quite some time now. Boooring as they are... most of them are either Zenith "El Primero", Valjoux "7750" or variations of them, yawn... With an obstructed view by the rotor automatic chronos are just uninteresting to look at. Deplorable is the interest that the Lemania "5100" has awoken once it has been ceased from production. After the topic; "You'll miss me when I'm gone..." the 5100 has been around for almost 3 decades, why didn't anybody take the time too look at it then?

Today the chrono is being about to be rediscovered, again.

Manual wound chronos have always been one of the most beautiful movements to look at. Unfortunately for them (and for us) with the arrival of the automatic movements they fell from grace. Until now, that is. Several "Nouvelle Lemania" movements (amongst others) have started to make their way back into the spotlight. Automatic chronos pale in comparison tho the manuals when looking at these movements. Seriously, you just can't stop looking at it! Panerai have included the "1872" in several models, some of them quite spectacular like the "Wempe 125 Anniversary". Even Patek in their 5070 have a Lemania ticking away... Oddly enough, it is one of their most heavily backordered watch. Yet the "crown" of manual chronos is heavily disputed between the Lange "Double-Split" and the Richard Mille "RM004 v2". Both radically different yet hypnotizing in every aspect, undoubtedly the two contenders to the title.

For those whose wallet can't take anymore strain, yes there is even one for you! The SINN H2, same 1872 and finish as the Panerai yet a fourth of the price. Limited to 220 units it will not be around for long.

I hope that the industry re-floats the "mono-pusher" as well. If they do... chrono heaven.

COHIBA "Sublimes"

This has nothing to do with watches but let me tell you... If you are still able to get your hands on the COHIBA "Sublimes", do so! By far, the best cigar I have ever smoked.


A beginning...

Like with most things, the difficult part is where to start.

I sincerely hope that this Blog will be able to share some of my passion for the Watch World. There are many things to be said about watches, some good some bad. Until the appearance of the Net, and blogs in particular, there has been literally no criticism on the Industry and all our voices where left silent. Blogs are a wonderful opportunity to voice our opinions, share and discus different aspects of our passion for watches.

Let's see what the future holds in store for us...