The "Holly Grail" of Swatches

Little is it known that the largest a most complete Swatch collection resides in Spain. In this "temple" there is not only the watches themselves but all merchandise remotely related to the brand. From matches to the Smart-Swatch car. Displays, phones, jackets, pencils, condoms, beepers, banners, stands... He simply has it all. From having almost four of each Swatch ever produced he also catalogues all "dummies" and variations of dummies (these are the watches that are used on displays and that are not really functional), prototypes, wall clocks, freakish mistakes and even fakes. I have seen many collections of many things in my life but something this extensive and complete NEVER.

Most astonishing is that amongst practically all that Swatch has ever produced there is one that might be king of them all. The "HAI ECK". Know as an urban legend to most Swatch collectors I have had the chance to hold it and shoot it personally.

Now to the story; Apparently this piece was made by an employee of Mr. Hayek some time ago. The dial was made to represent a shark and a corner as you might see from the picture. Translated into german this means "Hai" for shark and "Eck" for corner. Together they pronounce "HAYEK" which incidentally happens to be the last name of the owner. Once presented with this piece, far from being flattered at this tribute of admiration, he felt offended. Little was the artist aware of Mr. Hayek's laking sense of humor. Needles to say the creator of this unique Swatch got sacked. The watch disappeared for a while and resurfaced only to be acquired by this collector.

You wonder; "What else doe he have?" Well, practically everything. Apart from several "Kiki Picasso" more "Mimmo Paladino" he has prototypes that have and will never seen the light. Here are some samples.

Some Kiki Picassos and prototypes...

Some Mimmos...

The Puffs...

More prototypes...

Anyway, this can go on for ever. A full guided tour of the premises takes about 2 to 3 hours. I must say that I find myself very fortunate to count the owner of this incredible collection as my friend. Having the chance to see this is simply a privilege reserved for a fortunate few. I was never a Swatch collector, yet this collection it simply jaw dropping and could hardly be described in its full magnitude. I can't imagine what impact this collection would provoke to a real Swatch collector.

Love/Hate at first sight

This is one of those watches that I never considered at first but once discovered... I must admit it is causing me to loose some sleep lately for two different reasons. The first is that I love the back, the second is that I hate the front. Please take time to look at the pictures of the different movements I am including here. Simply breathtaking. Not only the astonishing finish but the whole architecture and design of the movement. Spectacular. The crown is on the back (one of my favorite features) and on top of that the proportions are just close to heaven. These being 41 millimeters wide and 11.3 millimeters thick. It simply fits most wrists from small-medium to large. The case is of classic conception but has some more modern accents. What a beauty. I am speechless.

Now, once I turn the watch and look at the front I just cry in despair. Awful. (Incidentally, I hope nobody at RG is actually reading this... actually if you are, please skip this chapter and go to the next) I just can't get to understand how this can come to be. Is it just me? I know that I am heavily biased against off-centered dials. However, this one is even worse since it is completely off-balance with nothing south on the dial to compensate. Even the design of the dial says absolutely nothing. Blend and boring... only barely elegant. My question to anybody that waste time reading this blog; Do you like the dial? Please be honest. I am trying to convince myself to get one of these works of art, pretty much like I try to convince myself that the Mona Lisa is actually a beautiful woman. After all these years she still looks to me like a flat-chested chubby woman without eyebrows. As far as art is concerned I was always more impressed by Goya's interpretation of "Saturn devouring one of his sons" than with the "Gioconda", connotations aside. Could this be the same here, could I be the "uneducated insensitive to art caveman" that my wife has been telling me for years? Hmmm, possibly...

The finish of the movement is really something to be very impressed about. One of the most difficult things to produce in handmade movements are sharp angles on bridges and baseplates. There are basically two kinds; outward angle and inward angle. The second of these two being the hardest one. When looking at a movement the way to immediately see if it's handmade is to look for these sharp angles. To date these can only be made by hand. No machine, no mater how expensive, can properly execute such angles. Now, until now I have not seen anybody, I mean anybody, make such a deep inward "anglage" like the guys at Romain Gauthier. By that I include any of the big guns like Lange, AP, L.U.C., Vacheron or Patek. These guys are in fact light years away from such finishes. Yes, these finishes are even above those of Voutilainen, Philippe Dufour and could even challenge the ever magnificent reign of Greubel Forsey. Look at this, judge, sit back and enjoy.

The only thing I am certain of is if Romain Gaultier were indeed one day to center its minutes and hours I would be looking for my piggy bank (life savings) like Jack Nicholson was looking, axe in hand, for his wife in the "Shining".

Memovox "International" UPDATE

This is the first official picture of the "International".

Details are as follows;

- Limited to 750 units in steel and 250 in rose gold.
- The oficial list price will be 8,250 € for the steel and 16.100 € for the rose gold version.
- The table stand will be sold separately and exclusively at the Boutiques as an accessory. The price will be 1,000 €

I find the price to be even more reasonable than anticipated. I guess that this is due to separating the stand from the piece. Quantities are within normal parameters. I guess that the decision to separate the "tablet stand" from the watch helps bring the price down. It is only logic to assume that some would rather spend 1.000 € less for the watch instead of having to forcefully buy a base they might not even want in the first place. The second benefit is that it will be available as an accessory to all those that have a regular Memovox. I can but applaud this decision. It's simply is a win-win situation for all. The watch is cheaper and anybody that owns a Memovox has the choice to purchase the base separately.

The base will be pretty much like it has been shown in the pictures bellow. It will be rhodium coated like the Atmos and the top will be padded with leather to prevent scratching. Actually the base fits so well it is only to prevent scratching the buckle when inserting the watch in the base.

Jaeger leCoultre...

P.s. I am still intrigued about where this base/stand came from. Once I have the proper data I will post here in that regard...

Memovox "International"

I am usually not in the game of making reportage bloging. However this time it is different. I have just been given a chance to test-drive the new, to be introduced in January, Memovox "International". At first I thought; "... 40mm, hmmm, too small for me" Being used used to be in the 44 to 46 range lately it did strike me to be a bit small at first . This reminds me that I should wear normal sized watches for a while or at least until I find 40mm normal again. Anyway, once on my wrist I could not help but be astonished at how strikingly elegant this was really is. For a moment I felt teleported to the 60's wearing a dark suit, white shirt, thin dark tie and the classic thick black Ray-ban sunglasses while crossing the TWA bridge at JFK Airport. When traveling had style and glamour, and flight attendants where graceful heavenly creatures. Almost hypnotizing to have something so 60's brand new on your wrist.

Needless to say that this is a first and nobody, I MEAN NOBODY, has published pictures of this piece yet. Yes, you saw it here first. By the way, I would hate to have to put watermarks on any of my pictures. If you want to use them, please go ahead but please have the grace to mention or even link where you got these photos from. Thanks in advance.

The second surprise is the prototype desk-stand. This is actually a replica of one that was sold originally with the Memovox in the past. Apart from being a stand for the Memovox it also amplifies the sound of the alarm. I really was smitten with the idea that they would bring this back. Awesome! Even if you are not the kind to take off your watch when at work or when asleep. This is a very cool accessory none the less.

The brass prototype of this stand/amplifier was clearly unfinished yet incredibly tight and well fitted to the Memovox. It is unclear what the indentation in the front was. Some believe it was possibly a thermometer, others a digital clock. This version will get a plate. This is pure speculation but it could be engraved in case of this being a gift. I still think one or two millimetres would have done this watch some good. And my only "but" is that the opening of the date does not have a steel frame like the previous Memovox. In this case I still have hope since this is not a 100% completed watch.

Since this was a prototype, a very well finished prototype, the details on the back are likely going to be different so there is no point in shoving it just now. The price will most likely be slightly higher than the Polaris. If the stand is part of the whole package I would estimate a 10% to 20% increase over the Polaris. Quantities are most likely going to range in the 1,000 range. Personally I can't but applaud these "vintage" editions. They are what many of us have been dreaming to have a chance to own one of these pieces of history.

Jaeger leCoultre...