De Bethune

A pleasant surprise. My first official contact to see De Bethune in the flesh. As far as I can remember the thing that kept me away from De Bethune was its funky moon-phase. Well, I still cant stand that revolving ball that just does not look right inside the dial of a watch. It might be a great technical feat, yet to me it's just... I don't know, it simply doesn't work for me. It's distracting and even if it is more graphically accurate I just can't seem to get the idea as to why interpret this complication as a 3D object when in fact we see and perceive it a a 2D object due to the distance. Regardless of the fact that this type of moon-phase thickens the watch at least a couple of millimeters.

Technically the whole collection is impeccable. True that most are a bit too big for my taste. Also having too much "extras" on the outside of the case make the whole a bit distracting. A lot of swinging parts to adapt to the wrist and awkward crown placements make it sometimes scary, yet the finishes are simply beyond reproach. Interestingly, and this is a first, I was much more interested in some of the more affordable models that the important pieces. These are smaller, cleaner and with the same finishes as the rest of the collection but with less distracting stuff inside and around the watch. These two pieces have definitely caught my eye.

DB25: Make me think what would happen if a Richard Mille "Perini Navi" and Patek "Calatrava" had a love child. These type of marriages rarely are successful but in this case i think they both would be proud. The DB25 is simply striking in its elegance despite being a modern watch. The power reserve at 12 o'clock is non-intrusive on the dial yet very easy to read. Like with all the rest of the collection the finishes are impeccable and technically right up there with the best. The DB25 is rather expensive yet it is well placed in its price range.

My only regret are the skeletonized strap holders and blue watches generally look better with dark blue straps. Other than that the DB25 is a very well balanced piece. Great watch.

DB24: This is a much more sporty version and also much larger than the DB25 yet thankfully it remains relatively thin. The dial has no paint/enamel since that blue color is achieved through heat and finished by various polishing methods. Like Richard's RM010 you have three positions to adapt the speed of the winding rotor to your lifestyle. However, here you can actually set them yourself at anytime without having to open or send the watch for service.

The setting can be seen from the front of the watch as well as from the back. I would have done without the front display since both indications are redundant. One would have suffused and having it in the back only would make the dial a bit cleaner. The power reserve at 12 o'clock looks hot yet a bit hard to see and the hour hand is easily confused with the minute hand or even dial. It is a possible option for those that want something modern yet just don' like the RM's tonneau shape.

I still think that prices such as these are no longer justifiable through "exclusivity" alone. With De Bethune I get hight prices but also more than others if compared at the same price range. De Bethune is a niche, a complicated one at that but one that has been growing strong especially during this crisis. The question remains if they will manage to get on that boat. Personally, I hope so.

De Bethune...

IWC: SIHH 2010

I wasn't expecting much from IWC this year. To be honest the las years have been quite boring or simply horrifying with the new interpretation of the DaVinci, the ghastly vintage collection or the "Lego Diver" collection of last year. Nothing really that got me interested at least since the Ingenieur Ceramic. The Portuguese has never really clicked with me. That is until now... I always found it blend, boring and expensive. That and the feeling that IWC could go a bit further with the Portuguese. You know, that feeling that they just came up short in with some details.

Now looking at this years Portuguese collection I must say that I am pleasantly surprised. Everything seems to be where it should be and the collection seems to have been injected with that little extra that makes it worth a second look. Out of all of them one stands out above the rest. I was especially surprised by the Portuguese Manual ref. 5454. Hmmm... nice, very nice.

The proportions are very elegant being 44mm wide and 10mm thick even if it could have been just a tad smaller. The dial looks much more elaborate that the previous equivalents and there is nothing to complain about the finish. What is a hit is the price that will be close to the 6,000 € mark. This one goes definitely on this year's list for candidates to be purchased.

Ahhh, and I forgot the 8-day Automatic. A bit of a contradiction (8-day automatic movements) but a welcome addition to the Portuguese collection.

The DaVinci chrono in ceramic on the other hand, is serious shit gone wrong. It looks like nothing, says nothing and is just as bad as all other DaVinci models. Have a look for your self. No comment.


Jaeger leCoultre: SIHH 2010

There are many very interesting pieces from Jaeger this year. Some where presented at the SIHH and some will be presented at a later date and I can't discus these yet. here are some of the highlights of Jaeger;

Extreme Lab 2: I was going to tell you later about my choice for the star of the 2010 SIHH but I can't hold it anymore. As far as I am concerned the Extreme Lab 2 takes that spot. I had three contenders in that cathegory; Lange's Zeitwerk, Richard Mille's RM027 and the Extreme. I will comment in a separate post later as to my reasons.

Master Grande Tradition:

I could have lived without that Tourbillon but what is really astonishing about this piece is the repeater volume. Simply astounding. I have not herd this decibel level from a pocket repeater ever, let alone from a wrist watch! This beast was very, I mean VERY loud in a padded room crowded with people at a distance of 5 meters!!! For a second I even thought there was a mic in the room. The trebuchet hammer system coupled with the one and a half time revolving gong spring simply blast anything I have ever heard before. Honestly, this beast was so loud I simply did not stop and look at any of the other complications! I would love to see a striped down version with this repeater system at a much lower cost. The first time I would consider a wrist repeater for myself.

Duometre Moon:
The second watch in the Duometre collection that confirms that there will be a continued Duometre line. This makes me very happy. This is one of those "smart" products that have sprung out of this year's SIHH (there are surprisingly many this year!). The time display is properly placed on the right side of the dial and the chrono has been replaced by a date and moon-phase. All this drops the list price by 5,000 Euros while it maintains the architecture and so much appreciated finish of the movement. Most of us do not use a chrono anyway so changing that for a more commonly useful complication while dropping the price is nothing but good news.

Navy Seals Automatic: Very clean with a great size and shape for normal wrists. It will be bellow the 6,000 Euro threshold. I like it, but I am not sure why yet.

Memovox International: As discussed in a previous post it is one of the most elegant watches I have seen in a long time. There is something almost mystical about the watch. I have held many Memovoxes yet this one has something special about it. I have had the chance to review this piece before the SIHH and my mind has not changed since then. Here is my previous review...

Extreme World Chrono: The reedition of the Extreme Chrono with a very pleasant hour hand on the chrono. Does not look like a Jaeger but it is a interesting development that I am very curious to see how it does in the stores.

Jaeger leCoultre...

URWERK "203 Razor"

The odometer and 5 year oil change indicator are back! But only for 20 times. The 203 could be seen as a fusion between the 201 and 202. The automatic turbine movement remains the same while the minute bezel and hour satellite have been skeletonized. This gives a better view of the turning dice mechanism as well as making the turning central satellite lighter. The finish is sandblasted platinum with URWERK's already popular PVD-like coating.

To be honest I was not expecting much from URWERK this year. Developing something like the CC1 for a small company like URWERK is simply a titanic task. After this "feat" a small rest would have been understandable. I regard the 203 as a "bridge" model for the future things to come. The next few years at URWERK will be very interesting if not astonishing.



As commented before here are the pictures of MB & F's "Horological Machine Nº2". A hypnotizing piece this HM2-SV. One of those watches that 90% of the time you look at them you do so without the intention to read the time. You just look at it to admire the architecture of the movement. I reckon that this is not everybody's cup of tea yet being different today is almost a complication in itself.

This is the third (actually fourth counting the Alain Silberstein) of the HM2. Very striking although my favorite remains the HM2 Ceramic version.

I know there are already new developments in the oven at MB & F and can't wait to see what will be presented shortly. I have the feeling that the HM2 has already been interpreted in the correct amounts, anymore would be taking the "OffShore" road. If the HM2 is Büsser's hottest product than it deserver a regular production slot. The problem with Limited Editions is explained in their own definition. They LIMIT your success. I still have hope that the industry will learn this, eventually.

MB & F...

Ralph Lauren: SIHH 2010

I think it better to get the garbage out of the way first. As you can appreciate from the pictures below, RL have given us diamonds on last year's phenomenal effort in imagination horological excellence. I would be vomiting right now but thankfully it has been a while since lunch. Thankfully I prepared myself for this year and they did not manage to cheat me into coming in early in the morning to be presented with this... well, whatever.


Barf, barf...

Mega barf...

Here is another prediction; I doubt this will last another season. Looking at last years "appalling" success coupled with this year's additions to the collection I doubt there will be a SIHH 2011 for them. If "Ferrari by Panerai" did not make it past year three this will not go much further.

The countdown is about to begin...

The general feel of the fair is better than last year but with with an emphasis on caution. The Tourbillon is still present but at least it has been relayed to a second or even third line. That is the next best thing next to complete normalization of this complication. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the Tourbillon, I just believe that they belong in pocket watches (where they should have never left) or at least brands that are built around that complication. Brands such as Greubel Forsey, Richard Mille or Breguet since it was the original inventor. I have no interest in Tourbillons inside Panerai, Jaeger, AP, Patek, Omega, BlancPain, IWC or Lange. I just feel that these have much more to offer when they do "other" things. Well, interestingly this year is the first since long where the Tourbillon is not the center of attention in all stands. Finally... Now the only cancer in the industry are the Limited Editions.

As to inovation Jaeger takes first place this time in detriment of AP. Panerai take first place when it comes to products that make sense and will be actually selling well. Very smart lineup from their side and contrary to las year the focus was much more on the Radiomir. Thanks for that. Vacheron seems to get its head out of the sand and is aiming straight at Patek with several interesting Patrimonies. IWC, well, not as awful as last year but nothing to loose sleep about. Lange introduced a very cool variation of the "Zeitwerk" with Luminova. Richard Mille and Greubel Forsey are part of the game. About time. AP plays it safe with the "Grand Prix" and introduces two pieces that are not new as far as movements are concerned but are holes that needed to be filled in the Jules Audemars and Royal Oak collections. Ralph Lauren... they are back again. Still don't know why. Montblanc has still the intention to make nice and expensive watches that feel like merchandising. Where and to whom do they sell this stuff? I wish they stuck to pens and gave back Minerva's corporate identity. Cartier surprised me with one piece I would actually consider. Stop, it must be the long hours in a closed hangar! GP is surprisingly not bankrupt yet and still present. Piaget is attempting to recuperate all the lost credit since they gave up on European markets since the 70s'. It is going to take them a while as well as a lot of money. Word of advice; MIKA is not the best image for getting serious collectors back. I still can't figure out Parmigiani. I have no clue as to why Van Cleef, Dunhill and Baume are doing there. Ahhh... and Ferrari has introduced a super stealth model... wait, forgot they where gone. I think I said this would happen in a post I made last year. (I remember getting slammed for predicting that...)

Well, I will start by focusing on the watches that caught my attention. I will try to be as brief as possible. The last post will be dedicated to the watch that in my opinion has been this years star at the show... Wait and see.

Good god... a year already!

It almost feels like yesterday since last year's SIHH. I will be off tomorrow to visits the years first show and in a week from know you will have my thoughts (for what they are worth) on this blog.

There is no doubt in my mind that this year's Fair will be interesting, not from a horological point of view, but rather to see how the sector has reacted to these last years of "complicated" sales. From the first view at the pre-Fair news, the Tourbillon as a means of generating hype and fast cash is indeed dead. Thank god for that. All those years lost in developing ultra complicated and expensive tourbillons while not really doing much on the lower end of the watch spectrum has simply resulted in diminishing the worth of the lower-end and mid-range watches on the price list. Many resources spend and time lost making 200k watches and developments that in most cases will never see the light on regular production models despite claims like; "... we will install this revolutionary escapement in over 80% of our watches regardless of their price range by the end of 2011...." Well, the cited escapement is today only available on a watch in the 200K range. Looks like the intention to upgrade all their movements will not be, at least for now.

The second "cancer" that is slowly eating away at the industry are of course senseless Limited Editions. There is nothing wrong with Limited Edition yet all within measure and quantity. By that I mean that very few should be made and very few editions should see the light. If this is not carefully revised the sales or regular production/collection items will be increasingly harder if not impossible. Incidentally several brands are already taking steps towards ending this nonsense, or at least this is what they have been saying for the last six months. We will know next week if this is so.

Well, I hope that this years SIHH and Time Exhibition shows are not as "grim" as last year. In any case I will keep you posted once I return.


This is only a sneak preview of what MB&F will present this year.

The HM2-SV will be officially presented on the 12th of January. It is based on the HM2 that I already discuseed in a previous post. It will be limited to 25 pieces to be distributed worldwide. As you can se from the picture the front is saphire glass so I will atach pictures of the regular model.

I will be posting full pictures as soon as they are made available yet for now you just must let your imagination fly...

MB & F...