Three Kings

Panerai have followed up on last years p.2002 with three new home-backed movements. Three quite impressive movements in their conception although one is particularly interesting, the 10-day Chrono. The design and finishing of the movement is clean, modern and straight to the point. The finishings are attractive even though the classic "boise" finish (the little polished circles on the base plates and bridges) has been left aside. To be honest with you, I not only not miss it but welcome the lack of it. There is a distinctive look to them without being too exotic.

p.2005: The Tourbillon is like all tourbillon in another league. Not a really commercial solution since its price is a to high for a Panerai especially when Jaeger is priced at half that with the "Master Compressor". It is a beautiful 30 sec Tourbillon from behind. What is commendable is that they had the guts not to show the tourbillon cage from the front. That would have made any Panerai look awkward.

p.2003: The 10-day GMT is a great idea... however its concept is deeply flawed. IT MAKES NO SENSE TO HAVE A 10-DAY AUTOMATIC WATCH (Unless it is a perpetual calendar that is). Why? Because making it automatic voids the need of having the power reserve complication. Part of the "magic" of having a power reserve is to see its evolution and wind it when it needs to be wound. It is almost a way to establish a personal "rapport" with an object. Because the watch is automatic the 10-day power reserve will always be fully wound, hence it is useless.

p.2004: The 8-day Chrono is quite a piece of work. A manual monopusher chrono with a linear 8-day power reserve... uffff, I almost ran out of air. This is a watch purist's dream yet what remains to be seen is the price of this piece. I don't think it will reach the 20's yet it will be well above the 10's.

Where as this new strategy of Panerai will be successful remains to bee seen. It's clear that their intention is to raise the level and play in the bigger boys back yard. The new movements are quite interesting even at a price previously unseen in the brand. The markets reaction will be crucial during this year. Still, they are very well aware that their previous price range is what until now fed them.


HD3 "Three Minds"

Things are looking up for "alternative" ways to read time. I see more and more imagination used in the design of such displays. To be honest this system is nothing new since this is a derivative of jumping hours and digital minutes APs and Pateks from the 20's. Less aggressive, of course, but the very same concept nonetheless. The mecanism is a jumping hour (I sincerely hope so) since otherwise it would be unreadable and minutes plus seconds wheel. The "Three Minds" is a great piece of kit for the lovers of Oversize watches. A bit agressive but good enough to be recommended to anybody with a more "modern" taste in fashion. My guess is that it will be around the 50k mark. It sounds a bit excessive yet there will be only 33 pieces made in the different combos (Black Titanium, Rose Gold and Titanium/Rose Gold) which makes it more costly. Economies of scale and the exclusivity factor play an important role here.

Jorg Hysek has really been growing since he left the company bearing his name and founded HD3 with Valerie Ursenbacher and Fabrice Gonet. Looking at precedents like Gerald Genta and Frank Muller it was not what many expected. When BIG names leave the manufactures that they once named generally end up floating into the limbo of forgotten yet once in a while acknowledged. In this case HD3 is probably taking off right there where Hysek (the brand) seems to be stuck. The policy of making only 33 pieces per model seems a bit difficult to enforce in the future. As impossible as it was for Roger DuBuis to keep making only 28 pieces of each watch. Eventually HD3 will have to make 333 units just like DuBuis had to make 888 of some models. The other option is to keep demand at bay by raising prices and so adjusting the demand of their products. That practice, however, has its risks.


Grrrrrr... for a good cause.

Journe and Delon have teemed up for a good cause. This "piece unique" was made to raise funds for the IRP foundation that fights paraplegia. The "Le Guépard" is a one of a kind Octa based on the movie by the same name from Luchino Visconti. The face is hand engraved by Bernard Ditzoff.

I can't wait for the 21st of march since I am very curious on the outcome of this auction

F.P. Journe...


Leaving cheap sexual innuendoes and clichés aside, size matters. But not the way you might think, especially in the watch world. In a society obsessed with sizes, big is not better here. People want bigger penises, bigger breast, bigger burgers, bigger planes, bigger cars... except mobile phones that go smaller. If you are not big then you are nothing. At least that is what they want you to think. Never have people, men and women alike, been so concerned with the size of their genitals. Breast and penis enlargement procedures keep spiraling upwards. The same trend seems to be emerging with watches today. Manufacturers have struck a gold mine with the recent oversize madness and are offering the same'ol stuff just much larger. People spend more money than ever on watches and many unscrupulous manufacturers make them bigger, not only in size but also in price. Even respectable houses like Patek that "swore" never to make larger watches, and claimed that it was only a short lived trend, has succumbed to the call of larger watches and bigger money. Everybody does it. There is nothing wrong with that if the market demands it. However, don't be fooled, there are different ways to make the transition. Many manufacturers fall into the temptation to raise prices by increasing sizes and not making better watches. As far as I know the only manufacturer that has or had a policy regarding that is A. Lange & Söhne. Their idea is that what dictates the size of the case is the size of the movement. In other words... if you want a 44 mm case than you need a movement that will completely fill the case. Although I am not sure this is true anymore.

Historically the point of making pocket watches (and today wrist watches) was to make what was once very large, portable and small. The truth is that the smaller and thiner the better, and thus more exclusive and expensive. It is obvious that it takes much more skill to make a small watch rather than a large clock. Until not so long ago watches have always been small and thin. It is only ten years ago (with the birth of the OffShore and the rediscovery of the Panerai) that oversize watches have started to be fashionable at all. Yes, they have been around forever yet that does not mean that they where popular then. In fact they are very rare and today they get good prices at auctions around the world. There is nothing wrong with large watches, if they have a purpose that is. If you weight 300 pounds and your wrist is the size two-by-four then you are in luck. Never has there been so many 46 mm and larger sizes available. Personally I believe that it looks as silly, if not more, to wear a too large watch than a too small watch. Everybody has a size range, find yours. But beware, it is very difficult to go "smaller" once you get used to "bigger". I have set myself a personal limit, and have had many temptations to go bigger since then. Staying within this boundary allows me to go back and wear smaller watches from time to time. There are some fantastic small watches out there so make sure you don't discard them by going "too big".

Yes, SMALLER IS BETTER. Most of the times smaller is much more expensive. Although there is nothing wrong with big if there is a reason for a larger case. Some have a purpose but unfortunately many don't. Increasing the size of a watch by 2, 4 or 6 mm for aesthetic reasons does not justify an increase of several thousands of dollars/euros for the same movement/watch. A depth rating of 1,000 meters, a large and very complicated movement, antimagnetic protection, etc... is a good reason for it. There are several large watches that I respect for several of the cited reasons. The Porsche "Indicator", Lange "31-days", Jaeger's "Master Grand Reveil"... are some of the large watches that have a good reason to be large. The other side of the coin? Well the Cartier "Santos 100", U-boat, the ever growing "Biretros" by Genta and some I dare not mention in this Blog (to keep it clean).

I suspect that this year's Geneva and Basel shows could be horrifying to that respect. Something tells me that we should prepare for some real juggernauts coming our way this year.

Jaeger leCoultre...

Safari. The return...

Brass (bronze) was never a great idea for watches. In any case the spirit behind the Safari was much more that just the brass. I wonder how this will work with the general public.

The watch looks great at first site, although I would like to see the compass on the buckle like the original Genta Safari in the 80´s, that was part of its charm. More to come soon...

Gerald Genta...

Jean Dunant "SHABAKA"

Alternative ways to display time are becoming very popular lately. URWERK could be one of the first of this new movement with HD3 following close by. Lately Jean Dunant with their latest creation, the "Shabaka" have joined the party. Quite a "tour de force" if you look at its numbers. A perpetual minute repeater (with 721 parts and 54 jewels) was up until recently only available at one of the Three Geneva Princes (AP, Patek and Vacheron). The buttons on the side are not for a chrono, as many might think, but to set the date.

It is readable at first although I must admit the design reminds me of some sort of "hell-robot-juggernaut" from a bad 70's Sci-Fi flick. The price? I dare not ask.

P.s. The 70's where very prolific in "alternative" watches. If you like this stuff take a look in Watchismo's blog there is some great stuff in there.

Jean Dunand...
press release...


After much speculation an anticipation the new "Team Alinghi" is finally being presented.

By far the most aggressive AP to date. It will be a watch to love or hate. If you feel neither than it is likely you don't like watches to begin with. As with the first Tantalum watch AP is pioneering a new material for a watch case, "forged carbon". Nobody has used anything like this until now. Will it be as good as the materials used up until now? Don't know yet but I sure would love to test-drive this baby. Many will complain about its weight yet some do welcome light and comfortable watches once in a while.

There is no need to go into detail regarding the movement since most of you know the calibre already. It is the same one that is present inside the Polaris, a 10 minute countdown regatta chrono. I must admit that I am tempted to believe that since it is quite extreme and previous extreme models like the EOD and Montoya have done amazingly well in the grey market that this Team Alinghi will do as much.

The will be, like in the past, three versions. A bit silly since the whole thing about this watch is the full forged carbon case.

There is "one" thing that I am not particularly impressed with. Can't get used to the strap connection to the case. Just don't like the way it hooks to the case without the links. It looks sloppy, almost like cutting costs. I would recommend getting the regular rubber strap, four steel links (the ones that make the strap connect to the case) and have them PVD'ed by your local Jeweler. It would look better and you would have a deployant to boot. A kevlar strap on this baby would have been bliss...

Audemars Piguet...

Richard Mille "RM011"

I was not supposed to post these until the embargo was lifted somewhere around the 20th of March. Somebody pooped... again.

The "monster" is a Vaucher base with a Dubois Dépraz module. It is an "annual calendar-flyback-chrono" with an extra 60 minute countdown at nine o'clock. The month indicator is at 4 o'clock. A very impressive piece of kit! The price will range between 50 to 60 thousand euros. Many have been waiting for Richard to fill the huge gap between the RM010 and the RM004 which is around 80 thousand euros!!! This will likely ease the pressure on the RM004v2 order although they are entirely different animals.

It is regrettable that this watch did not see the light one year ago. It would have been a much bigger shock and would have set a higher standard when it comes to mono-compax chronos. Now there are already three mono-compax chronos out there, two of which use the 60 minutes/12 hours disposition.

Richard Mille...