For those with special requests Jaeger is pushing its "Enamel Special Request" division more than ever. The pieces are simply breathtaking, even under a 10x loupe. Having people with these skills it would be a shame not to. Reversos with only one side have been personalized with initials, logos and even artwork for quite some time now. This now extends to other products from Jaeger.

You can either personalize a Reverso, Atmos or even a Master Minute Repeater to what ever your heart desires (within the subtle boundaries of taste, that is...). Most request are from paintings owned by collector that wish to have replicated on the watch. Prices vary quite dramatically on a Reverso or an Atmos. The work should range from 14,000 € and upwards on a Reverso to well over 50,000 € on an Atmos depending of the complexity of the drawing and time spent to execute the artwork.

This is probably one of the few times that you value something other than a mechanism on a watch. I don't see myself as a client for something such as this but I admire the work none the less.

Jaeger leCoultre...

Jaeger leCoultre "Navy Seal Diving Alarm"

There is no sense hiding that Jaeger leCoultre are amongst my favorites. This year instead of presenting a battery of ultra complicated and expensive pieces Jaeger have decided to go with the lover range and produce an offer that will work quite well in these times.

The "Navy Seal Memovox" is a real beauty, some even venture to call it the next Polaris. I would not be surtprised if they where right, this is a great piece! The only thing I do not understand is why this is not a regular production model. I believe Jaeger are passing on the chance to have a permanent best seller in their catalogue.

Perhaps one of the most surprising aspects about it is the incledibly thin looking face. For some magic optical effect the hands and face seen to be very close to the glass making it look quite shallow. This despite being around 12 mm think, like any diver out there. The proportions of the case are very well balanced and even if it is a large 44 mm diver it is not a huge monster. In fact, this could even be worn with long sleeve shirts. Not ideal, but possible. This "Navy Seal" is proof to 300 meters (1,000 feet) and yet the titanium case transmits the sound of the alarm as if it where an AMVOX1. The ceramic bezel works wonders apart from being a "must have" feature by now for a sports watch. It works also to accentuate the relatively shallow perception of the face. The placement of the brand and logo on the inside of the glass, so as to maintain a clean look on the face, works wonders. The classic solution would have been to place them on the turning alarm disk. This solution works better for me. There will be up to four different straps available; Articulated rubber, cordura fibber leather, titanium, moulded rubber and a diver kevlar strap as present in the box.

The list price for this Navy Seal will be 8,900 € which is surprisingly well priced considering precedents such as the Polaris (that was priced at 10,500 €). It will be limited to 1,500. Egoistically, I would have loved these to be much less, yet I expect these to be in such high demand that they might turn out to be to few. Remember that the Compressor Memovox has been discontinued and there is no diver alarm available in their entire catalogue (apart from the Polaris replica, although that would be more a collectors piece). I base my prediction on the fact that this is a product that, like the Polaris, has been demanded by the public for some time. If you need proof that just take a look here (Link here...). As you can see further down, the piece "thought" by Velociphile dates as far back as February 2005 and looks frighteningly familiar.

Jaeger leCoultre...

FERRARI by Panerai

Now, this could be just another chapter of the X-Files. Taneenoneenoneee... After THREE, yes THREE previous and unsuccessful attempts (Longines, Cartier, Girard-Perregaux)... somebody decided that they HAD to give it another try. What in the name of good would lead one to believe that now this could work? As I predicted a year ago, the "Ferrari by Panerai" has not been a hot item to say the least. Granted, it was a match made in heaven, in theory. It is obvious by now that there is little chemistry between both. Mixing two good things don't always make a great thing. Mix a 21 year old Scotch with a triple distiled Russian premium Vodka and you get a notoriously horrible experience, a headache the size of Nebraska and a sizable bounty on your head in the entire Scottish highlands. Yet the Ferrari by Panerai are quite a good product. If you ask me, I would even dare say that some are better than the regular Panerai. The flaw of this plan was really woven from the start. The attempted to "bank" on Ferrari owners as a strategy was clearly not the way to go. In business, if you expect a sure sell, then better have a contingency plan ready. Ferrari owners, all I know at least, want an OffShore (preferably in gold). Ferrari owners are "status" buyers and Panerai, although widely recognized... just don't cut it.

Unfortunately, the very same thing that was meant to attract sales, the prancing horse, is the very thing that prevents this watch to be a bestseller. Makes sort of sense; if you don't have the car you look like you settled for the watch... if you got the car plus the watch, then you only need a shirt and cap to look like a complete dork. There is nothing wrong with the product, it's impeccable. Don't like all of them but some are actually quite buyable. If it where not for the Ferrari logo I would have not doubted to bounce on the Minerva chrono or even the new "California". (As expected there where NO pictures of that piece in the press kit). This regular PVD-DLC rattrapante chrono is more than just a good buy considering the quality of the face and general finish. Yet... the horse. Don't be surprised that these would sell much better if they just had "Panerai" on them.

I am not sure how long this venture is going to last. What I am certain is that when it is over all these might actually become quite a collectors item. Panerai have a way of getting very collectible if they are bashed by collectors at first and then loved once retired. The latest example was the ceramic Radiomir with the two divers on top of a torpedo (looked like a massive dildo to me). Once they removed that disturbing picture the ceramic Black Seal has been steadily increasing its value. Same thing happened when GP gave up they Ferrari line. Despite them being downright ghastly! I have heard no rummers yet, but the economic situation the way it is it could happen rather sooner that later. If this happens, be ready to snatch one because I suspect they could be very desirable in a not too distant future.

Ferrari by Panerai...


Some so much and others so little... Panerai, unlike Lange, have got their press kit completely wrong. Two discs, one USB key and a whatever gift (that I gladly passed on to my neighbor). No pictures of their two new calibers and many pictures of stuff that looks all the same. I really wish that brands stop giving presents to the press. The only thing it encourages is to have the wrong people attend your happenings for the wrong reasons. I also feel that it is wrong to constantly get presents for doing ones job. It just sends the wrong message. I wonder if any of these brands aware that if the press go to visit them it is only because they want their publicity money? Save the gifts and give them to "real" customers or aficionados. They will surely welcome the gifts with more gratitude.

The most interesting Panerai product this year are the two in-house "Manifatura" movements and the return to the price range that seemed to be abandoned lately by Panerai. I guess the open complaints from diehard Paneristi have had an effect after all. Thank god they listened! Looking at the current economic situation this can't come at a better time. The first to get this new automatic 72 hour power-reserve movement will be a Luminor 1950. The pricing will be just above the 4,000€ mark. Which considering the piece is more than very reasonable. the new Luminor is also fitted with the new bracelet. A big improvement over the previous version.

The two new calibre presented where an automatic to be used as a base calibre in the future and a rattrapante chrono. The only problem I see with both these movements is that one is 8 millimeters think ant the other just nearly reaches one centimeter. This means that if you wish to use the rattrapante movement and you wish to make it water-resistant to 300 meters (30 ATMs) you will end up with a BURGER that would be around TWO centimeters thick. Now, how about their other entry level in-house movement. If it where to be used as a base and a module to be added on top you can easily add an extra 3 millimeters to the equation. Now, I don't get it. Wasn't the trent regarding size and especially the thickness going down..? If you are developing stuff from scratch why wont you make it versatile enough to fit in any future model? A key factor is to make it as thin as can be so that it may fit as many cases as possible. Can you picture a 45 millimeter Radiomir with a 20 mm case? Need I say that there are no pictures of the burgers... sorry, movements in their press kit?

Upssss... forgot Hulk's watch! At a whopping 60 millimeters we have the The "Egiziano"! Nothing to object to it. In fact I like that replicas are made of mythical watches. In this case it is really just an "item" for collector and not really a wearable watch. At 300 units I am not certain many non-collectors will ever get a chance to buy-for-use. Actually, I wonder how long it takes for the first pictures of this "behemoth" on Beckham's wrist are in the media... Even the fellow presenting it admitted that it was just impossible to wear casually on your wrist. I must admit I would have liked them to make it in steel, like the original one, and not in Titanium. Would have also been useful when going out. Somebody get on your case, just throw him your watch. Hit him in the head, hospital journey guaranteed.


A. Lange & Soehne

I must say that Lange made first place in the best/smartest/useful/intelligent press gift/kit this year. Unlike the useless garbage and tons of paper that you are given at the end of the product presentations (really convenient if you still have miles to walk and seven hours more to go). This time they gave a simple black paper notebook (the kind Colombo used) with all information in it. When I say all, I mean all. The miniature USB key included inside had not only the presented novelties but ALL, yes ALL the current watch catalogue as well. Including high-res pictures of the movements. Simply spectacular. The whole thing fits in your pocket. I only wish that the rest of brands would do the same.

I already reviewed their star of the show, the Richard Lange "Pour le Merite". There is little more to be said other that it is an extraordinary piece. The more I see it the more I find it sublime. Here are some of the pictures of their little "fusée-and-chain" wonder... By the way, the rose gold will, be priced at around 80,000€ which is pretty much what was expected.

Apart from these beauty there is the new 1815 that is now larger at 40mm. Much better if you ask me since its predecessor is by now almost a women sized piece. Like everything that comes from Lange the finishing is simply poetry. The prices star at 14,000€ for all three gold versions. (Incidentally, I was wondering if I should get this 1815 or the Ralph Lauren? Hmmm... tough call.)

You can also bet that the movement of the RL is very similar in finish and design to this Lange (cough, cough...). It is with utter regret to tell you that RL did not add pictures of their calibre in their press kit...

Now that they gave the 1815 a litle push in size waht about the Datograph? I am certain that sales would sore for a 43mm Dato despite the economic situation. Although I love the piece I still find the proportions between thickness and width completely off. It is way too chubby. If their religion does not permit them make a larger case for an already used movement than just take the movement and add a power reserve or double barrel as an excuse. The result would have me camp outside my jeweler like a nerd for an iPhone.

A. Lange & Soehne...

SIHH 2009

I was going to wait until the end but it makes sense after a request to have a short summary of the general feel of the situation of this years SIHH.

Here is the final Press Release by the SIHH:

Summed up it says that they went in fearing the worst yet things not being as bad as anticipated. Compared to other years I would put attendance closer to a 40% less and not a 20% as mentioned in the release. There are other reasons apart from the "... tough economic climate in the American and Japanese markets..." (believe me, Europe is not that hot either). Essentially the Richemont Group has significantly lowered the number of invited press (I should say bribed, but I won't...), the invites to collectors and guests have been more strict. There has also been a cutdown on dealers that did not meet payments in due time that where obviously not invited. Many of the freelance press (especially from the far east) have not attended due to cost and distance. Bare in mind that the travel time for many of them is around 20 hours to get to Geneva. A good bunch will have chosen to go Basel 2009 instead. Which makes more sense for freelance reporting due to the variety of products and newcomers that Basel offers.

In general there where few new things this year as products are concerned (mind you, they only had 9 months between fairs this year!). There is a feeling of consolidating for now and "wait and see what happens..." further down the line. I know from almost all country managers that things have gone better than expected, which initially looked very grim. More than one feared for their jobs. Buyers have been cautious and realistic when placing orders as well. Let's hope that there are few order cancelations unlike last year.

As far as horology is concerned the star of the show was AP's "ChronAP". The question on ALL the competitor's lips was "... Have you seen AP's chronometer?". Much the same reaction as Jaeger's "Gyrotourbillon" last year. As far as brands are concerned Jaeger leCoutre would be probably the most coherent strategy. They focused on filling holes and adding much awaited pieces to the collection. Their stuff makes sense This year they decided to focus on the more human stuff leaving limited ultra-expensive pieces for a later date. Smart move.

The general outlook for the luxury and super-luxury segments is that things will get better on the financial crisis stabilizes and gradually pics up. This is expected to slowly happen around summer this year (unless several financial institutions go bust in quick succession). For the mid to low range things look a bit more difficult since they are more dependent on the economic crisis which will take considerably longer to heal.

The Swiss watchmaking industry was remarkably quick to the draw when firing people in order to prevent further problems down the line. There is a general feeling that things have changed and what was easy to sell only one year ago is not worth manufacturing at the moment. Tourbillons at any price are gone (about time) and silly experiments have lost their appeal. Due to this crisis the tables have turned and for the first time in many decades the ones holding the better hand are the customers. Up until now it was as if as a customer you granted the "privilege" to purchase their products. Now this has changed, the customers won't buy unless they like. The equation is simple really; You make something I like, you get money. You make something I don't like, you no get money. You no get money, you close business. Simple.

Ralph Lauren

It becomes very apparent to me that some people in the business think that we as consumers are just a bunch of brain dead morons. Now, that is understandable since there are things out there that get sold no mater what. This year, Ralph Lauren has raised the bar to a whole new level. This is probably the first time that I remember feeling offended at a presentation. To think that I actually had to get up in the morning to see this!

I was pleasantly surprised at first when seeing the pictures from the outside of their stand. No wonder, I expected something in the line of D & G or Tommy Hilfiger. At a first glance the pieces looked very good, with a distinct Cartier and Piaget DNA, but tasteful none the less. No wonder, since RL has more than just good taste. I attempted several times to get the press kit and skip the presentation but with little success. One needed to sit through about 30 minutes of the presentation to get the kit. Little was I to know the almost unbearable torture they where going to subject me to.

Finally the presentation starts and it becomes apparent quite soon that somebody has clearly not done their homework. With a total disregard for potential customers and a blatantly superficial assessment of what watchmaking really means. I was speechless, but mainly sleepy. Was there any research done at all on any of these? I was still a little asleep for the Women's model (sorry it was early in the morning). After a bunch of pictures of pretty people... finally it was the turn of the one piece that caught my eye, the elegant ultra-slim Gentleman's gold watch. Interesting but flawed since the hour and minute hands are so similar that somebody with bad eyesight might have problems distinguishing them. Now, the absolute stunner... the price. This is when my head popped right out of my butt. 13,100 € (I guess it would be around the 18,000 in the US)! This for a men's watch that carries nothing but a shitty Ladies (small) Piaget movement!!! WTF! Who in their right f..ing mind would get this instead of a Calatrava by Patek or a classic piece by Breguet?!?

What sent me in a new dimension of pissed that I have rarely bee in before (at least at a press conference) was the Sport version. Which, by the way, is uglier than raising a hand to your own father... This one carried the very appreciated F.A. Jones calibre by IWC. The crown they designed for this lovely manual movement was polished to a whole new level of slippery. Very smart and thoughtful for the poor idiot that needs to wind it every other day. Unbelievable. The others have Jaeger movements. I would not be surprised if Jerome Lambert's balls shrunk the size of raisins when he saw where his movements where going! Mine surely would have.

Their idea is to have these three lines available at their Flagship stores world wide and exclusive high-end dealers. Yeah, keep dreaming. Dealers are not stupid. In fact one told me when walking by; "... I have the underwear and the shirt. Why would I want the watch?"

In any case, I doubt this will be around for more than three years. Considering the current economic situation and the price at which this rather poor effort has been placed I doubt it will make many future SIHHs. Expect to see a great upsurge in sales at first when placed in their stores world-wide. The real sell-out figures from the stores would be interesting to see.

Ralph Lauren...

P.s. If you think I am being harsh. Believe me, I had to go over this text several times and censor myself.


I can't shake the feeling that the OffShore is going where I don't want it to go. Limited Editions have been going insane and the way the OffShore is marketed simply does not relate to me. Every year I hear the same ol' story that the indiscriminate LEs will be stopped and every year at the fair the thing gets worse and worse. Even thought the color combinations seem endless I just can't get excited by an OffShore anymore unless it is a piece like the EOD, Survivor, Barrichello II, Alinghi Team, Singapore F1, etc... Regular color-moded OffShores are stating to get tiresome at best. Many of these LEs are for dealers that get complacent when it comes to doing their job and selling the regular collection. This is not the way to go. Right now there are more Limited Editions than regular collections models under production for 2009. Insane. To top this there about 8 LEs expected for this year that have a very similar color combo (Red and black). A real pisser. It's clear now to many that this could sooner or later kill the Goose of the Golden egg. Strange enough, commercially successful brands like Rolex or Patek Philippe that have a close to NO Limited Edition policy, still sell. I get the feeling that the regular pieces are being devalued and easily tagged as regular or less important. A very counterproductive side effect over the long run. I am pretty certain that the same level of sales can be achieved even if Limited Editions are stopped. Listening to customer would be a good start.

Fortunately for many (myself included) there is still the RoyalOak. Its reputation is still untarnished and has not varied much over the years. It almost seems to belong to a different line altogether. The Jumbo, the Dual Time and the Chrono are more and more attractive to me. Oddly enough I have been seeing a transition back to the RoyalOak in the last few months.

There is also something to be said regarding the direction which the Offshore is taking as well as the marketing decisions taken lately. I find the recent choice of "ambassadors" questionable at best. The latest is this "Masato" edition. Don't know the guy and will not discuss his proficiency at what he does yet lately AP have gone from Garry Kasparov to what is in essence a glorified thug. The "Masato" is just another tuned OffShore that brings nothing in terms of horology except a fashion statement. This is very much in tune with the Millenary marketing placement. It seems that they have achieved with the OffShore what they intended to do with the Millenary. What a great excuse to kill the Millenary... Just do the "bling" to the max and keep milking away. This would be a fantastic opportunity to bring the "John Schaeffer" back into a regular production model line.

Now, to the Howard Stern mater. Fortunately for whoever decided to place AP at that show, little is known about and of Howard Stern in Europe. I personally was a listener back when I lived in the US and I have no problem in saying that I respect the guy. He was refreshing although vulgar most of the times. Quite a rare bird in an otherwise restricted and over-controlled media. However, the product placement at the "Howard Stern Show" is the least adequate place for AP. Seriously, would you place your product next to the "star-guest" of the show that was invited for her remarkable ability to stick a 12 inch sausage down her throat and still whistle dixie-doodle while being topless? I think not. I would not be surprised if things where to "hAPpen" once Switzerland get a sample and idea of what the show is like. I have a feeling they will not be hAPpy...

Audemars Piguet...


Like last year's RoyalOak Chrono facelift, the Offshore has just been granted two new faces. Love them, both. Surprising is the black Luminova used. A first at AP. Black luminova is not the greatest performance-vise but it is so beautiful when you drive into the darkens of a tunnel. It just glows in a very special way, almost eerie. So far collection pieces have been almost monochromatic so these new faces are refreshing and welcomed.

I am very glad these did not end up as a LE such as a "Tour Auto" or some obscure third-world dealer somewhere in the limitless boundaries of time and space...

Audemars Piguet...

OffShore "Lady Carbon"

Finally something for the Ladies. Until now the focus on super sporty pieces was manly focused on the Gents. The movement brings nothing new yet it is a first when it comes to the materials and look. Forged carbon and ceramic make this the option for those women that felt a bit neglected by the OffShore. Could this be the next hottest thing after Patek's Twenty-4? Could be... Mind you, I would have done without the diamonds.

Any Ladies out there? What do you think? Is this for you?

Audemars Piguet...

John Schaeffer "Tradition"

The "John Schaeffer" is back and I dearly hope it is here to stay. Even if there already was one presented last year, these new three new versions seem to make it a collection again. Unfortunately this is not certain since they are under the "Tradition" banner and they could only be a short term reappearance. Personally it's time to retire the Edward Piguet line or at least put it back on the drawing board (preferably on a treadmill to loose some thickness). Nobody wants a thick dress watch. Apparently this is a message that has been difficult to transmit.

All three are equipped with the finest and more "mystical" movements AP can offer. The finishes are well over what is usually expected or seen at AP. My favorite is the John Schaeffer equipped with the 2120 calibre which is the base for the RoyalOak perpetual and the non-date version of the Jumbo's engine. A rare movement by itself. The last time I saw this it was on a skeletonized version of the Jumbo.

I love the vintage look and Art-Deco hour markers. they are clean, well executed and transmit the "magic" like few watches. This is actually the first time I would choose an AP over a Patek in the vintage segment. Unfortunately I find them to be all too large. The same rules do not apply to cushion cases for some reason. Whille 43 mm is optimal on a round case for me, it is just too big on a cushion. I would have made all the 3 mm smaller. Especially the hour minutes model. On the other two there is the excuse that they are historically pocketwatch movements and are considerably larger than regular movements. so the extra headroom is justified in this case.

Apart from being happy to see these again I am perplexed at the price. 51,000$ or 41,000€ seems to be a bit steep, to put it in a mild way. At this price you should require a bit more than hours and minutes. Maybe a jumping hours regulator, an annual calendar or even a manual 8-day power reserve. At that prize range, even in platinum, I would expect at least that.

Audemars Piguet...

Jules Audemars "Chronometer"

The star of the show at AP, and you could even say at the SIHH, was undoubtedly the internally baptized "ChronAP". Definitely the small talk on the competitors lips. If I may add, in a tense manner in some cases...

For all others this is called "Jules Audemars Watch with Audemars Piguet Escapement"... because this is a bit long and not commercially wise I will stick to calling it "ChronAP" from here on. Quite frankly, it's not very sexy either.

I usually avoid commenting on watches of this price and limited availability since most of the time the only exclusive factor is price, but in this case there is more to it.
This is a pure racing machine. Conceived for the sole purpose of competing in the new time/accuracy venues up ahead. Yes, the competition is back for probably this year and many are preparing for it with anticipation. APRP prepared this in order to take the trophy back home. At 43,200 v/r, what is equivalent to 6 HZ, it could very well do the trick. You should not regard this as an everyday watch but more at the equivalent of a "Stradale" Ferrari or Porsche "GT3". They are an ultra performance version of what already is a great product.

On the negative side, at least for me, I would have liked this to be a regulator and not a small hours and minutes at 12 o'clock. Added is the general comment that it is very similar, too similar, to the Breguet "La Tradition" pieces. This could be true yet the Breguet in turn could be also a copy of watch designs used for several centuries. Unfortunately the Breguet "La Tradition" is a successful product and is latest in many collector's and aficionado's retinas. I guess that the strength of looking "inwards" as a company has had a negative effect in this case. In any case, the finish and details on this piece are miles apart. So is the 260,000$ price tag...

Well, 25 will be made of these a year. I only hope that the new escapement slowly finds its way into all other movements by AP. That would be an extraordinary achievement.

Audemars Piguet...

New format...

This year I will be giving my report brand by brand. Again, these are only personal opinions that are subject to any debate and criticism.


SIHH 2009

This years SIHH surely presents itself interesting. Not because of the novelties but more on the behavior of buyers and sellers. Rumors that there will be substantially less customers this year are well founded. On one side there are many from far away markets that had to choose between Basel 2009 or the SIHH. On the other the Richemont Group have downscaled the fully-treated to plane and hotel customers/press to a bare essential. Another is that many ADs in trouble think that by not showing up they will not be presented with an order sheet. Wrong... Richemont will make sure that all will go through the order sheet. Proof that there will be less attending the venue than before is that the very busy and overbooked Kempinsky Hotel has still rooms readily available.

Personally I am glad since I will be able to examine and see everything in detail instead of running like possessed. I will be able to give a more in depth critique brand-by-brand this year. I was able to see several to be presented novelties and in some cases I am appalled! I will not say anything until I get to see some of them in the flesh but some brands will have a very difficult 2009 to say the least.

My wish for this year is that the industry reacts fast and kill all "TOURBIBULLSHIT" projects and get down to business. They were fast to the trigger when laying off workers... Let's hope they react just as quickly with useless-overrated-complications and spend some R&D on not fully resolved problems such as shockproof movements, magnetism or an even better performance than a Tourbillon at down to earth prices and over their whole collection. Man, I am ranting again! Sorry... Anyway, I will be there for the whole week and eager to return and comment.

Report coming your way soon...

Refining refinement...

It is not rare that o good product undergo several updates and minor tweaks. I hide not that I already had a weak spot for the HM2, but adding ceramic to the equation brings nothing but advantages. For those that love black watches ceramic is the way to go. PVD and DLC treatments have taken giant strides as durability are concerned but are no way near the resistance of ceramics. As the production gets perfected and more complex forms can be achieved ceramics will find its way in more and more watches from here on. In the case of the HM2 I could even say that this version is but a logical step. Maybe I would have done something more aggressive with a a greener or yellower tone on the markers. Since I have not seen this piece in the flesh yet I could be wrong. So I will not venture and say more until I hold it in my hands.

The look of MB &F's creations are singular and recognizable from afar. A rare treat our days, since most of the stuff out there looks the same. Most classic watch lovers are still a bit "scared" of this new concept yet they will come around. The best way to get an idea is to see one in the flesh. The contrast of the black and the white and red gold is definitely a winer.

I can't wait to see this piece next monday!

MB & F...