Thursday, March 31, 2011

World record amount paid for Rolex wristwatch

Antiquorum's most recent watch auction, "Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces", was held in Geneva on Sunday, March 27, with a result of  CHF 6,457,937 (USD 7,057, 360) for 564 timepieces, with 83 % sold.

One of the most notable sales was that of Lot 527 - Rolex "Oyster Perpetual" Ref. 6284, an extremely rare 14k yellow gold wristwatch with a cloisonné enamel dial of the two Americas by Marguerite Koch. The pre-sale estimate for this watch was CHF 130,000 - 190,000, but it realised a staggering CHF 662,500, a world record not only for a time-only Rolex watch, but a record for a Rolex cloisonné enamel dial timepiece as well.

Here is the description from the catalogue :

LOT 527

Rolex Ref. 6284 Two Americas Cloisonne Dial by Marguerite Koch Rolex, "Oyster Perpetual", Ref. 6284. Made in only six examples circa 1950. Exceptionally rare and fine, self-winding, water-resistant, 14K yellow gold wristwatch with cloisonné enamel map of the two Americas. 

Sold (including buyer's premium) : 662,500 CHF


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hermès "suspends time" with 'Le Temps Suspendu'

Hermès is not normally my first (or even tenth) port of horological call, but the announcement at Baselworld 2011 of the Arceau Le Temps Suspendu grabbed my attention for its whimsy.

With Les Temps Suspendu, Hermès’ Arceau watch, created in 1978 by Henri d’Origny, has been horologically upgraded by the brand’s partnership with Agenhor and its founder Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, most well known for the MB&F HM2, Harry Winston’s Opus 9, Van Cleef & Arpels Pont-des-Amoureux, and the True North for Arnold & Son.  

The name means “suspended time”, and this retrograde complication is demonstrated through the pressing of a pusher at 9-o’clock which ‘suspends time’ by bringing both the hour and minute hands to the recessed area at 12 o’clock, hiding the retrograde date hand in the process. 

Despite appearances however, the movement continues running and keeping time. If you press the pusher again, the hands will then fly back to the correct position as at that moment. Interestingly, the hands may stay suspended for hours, days or even weeks, but so long as the movement is wound, the watch keeps on ticking.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A bit of Moonshine and some Northern stars from Stepan Sarpaneva

My fondness for Stepan Sarpaneva's moon continues unabated. Many find it too gloomy or despondent in appearance, but to me it's a contemplative, poignant, and only slightly mournful moon, reminiscent of Georges Méliès.

Finally, after much anticipation, the moon's latest appearance, courtesy of the Korona Moonshine, has been formally launched at Basel, though photos of it started appearing late last year. Here is the beautiful short film created for it.

The Moonshine shows the time via a single rotating disc that moves around the periphery of the dial; you read the time through a display window at 6 o'clock which reveals the moving disc. It's not a method of time display for those for whom accuracy to the minute is paramount, but it will appeal to fans of jump hours and direct read displays.

This 42mm watch will come in three versions. One in 18k red gold, and two in steel, with one of those being DLC coated in black.

Stowa Flieger Chronograph - Baselworld 2011

Now for something more affordable and less well known. In fact, I'm a little selfish about Stowa. To me, it's like one of the best kept secrets of the watch industry. They have history, great designs, great cases powered by reliable and proven ETA movements. They produced a gem of a chronograph last year, and this year is no different.

This year's Flieger Chronograph

The release this year has apparently polarized opinions, but I like it. A lot. I think it's a great take on the pilot chronograph, and they've done something not done before. The chronograph has been pared back to the basics, and anything you don't really need is deleted. So what you're left with is 2 hands for the time, and 2 hands for the chronograph. The minute counter at the 3:00 position only records elapsed time to 30 minutes, which to most people is more than enough. For me? Not quite as I use the chronograph to time parking, but that's not a deal breaker. I also quite like that fact that, since there's no space for the numerals at 2, 3 and 4, they deleted them completely, rather than having partially "eaten".

For me it is a very balanced looking watch, but unfortunately, the reduction of a few hands and date wheel did not reduce the overall height of the watch. It is still quite tall at around 14mm. This is one of the downsides of using a Valjoux 7753 movement as it's a very tall movement.

Having said that, Stowa represents one of the best value for money brands. Considering what you get, (Brilliant German case, high grade reliable ETA movement, modified to suit their needs) it's a bargain. Their chronograph is priced from 1650 Euro, and that includes the relatively high VAT.

I am a big fan of pilot watches and I'll most certainly be adding this one to the list. However, there is another Stowa further up, and that's the chronograph they released last year - Clean, simple and elegant. Reminds me of the IWC Portuguese, at a fraction of the price...

Following are the specs for the Flieger Chronograph (Data taken from the Stowa Website) : 

Diameter:   41.00 mm
Height:  14.70 mm
Strap width:  22 mm
Lug-to-Lug size:  50.20 mm
Waterproof:  up to 5 ATM 

Case:  Stainless steel, fine matt, grinded by hand
Dial: black matt, white printed, Superluminova C3
Crystals:  Front sapphire crystal domed and sapphire display case back
Hands:  Temperature-blued steel, Superluminova C3
Strap:  Leather strap or metal bracelet
Crown: Onion Crown

Caliber:  Valjoux 7753
Mechanism:  automatic
Half vibrations: 28.000 A/H
Function:  hour, minutes, 30 minute recorder (stop function)
Power Reserve:  approximately 40 hours
Number of jewels:  25 synthetic rubies
Finish:  Geneve Stripes finish, blued screws, golden STOWA engraving


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Glashütte Original - Living in the '70s

Most of the Tarts are old enough remember the 1970s, some as adults, most of us as children, but the fashion and design of that decade may well be ones that some of us prefer to forget.

Baselworld 2011 has brought a new offering from Glashütte Original, who are moving from the ‘Sixites’ to the ‘Seventies Panorama Date’, with its instantly recognisable stylistic nod to the eponymous decade, and featuring GO’s distinctive panorama date feature. The squarish shape, the bracelet, they both remind me of some of the watches my father had during that period.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Credor Spring Drive Minute Repeater

A little while ago I blogged about a very special Seiko, the Limited Edition Astron. BaselWorld 2011 brings another new commemorative watch from Seiko, which is celebrating its 130th anniversary this year.

Meet the almost half a million dollar (yes you read correctly) Credor Spring Drive Minute Repeater, the brand’s first minute repeater, and what a way to start.

This special timepiece has two cases; an inner one for the movement, and an outer one. The gongs are located in the space between these two cases, to achieve a clear and rich sound. The gong itself is made by Japanese steelmaker Munemichi Myochin, a 52nd generation master blacksmith, using the same steel as used in traditional Japanese wind chimes, and replicating its pure sound.

While most minute repeaters follow the traditional hour, quarter and minute system, the Credor Spring Drive Minute Repeater has a decimal system. The hammers strike the hour, ten-minute and one-minute sounds. This system was chosen as being more in keeping with the high technology character of the movement. It is perfectly logical and simple. At one fifty nine, the hour sound is struck once, the ten-minute sound is struck five times and the one-minute sound is struck nine times.


Ref. GBLS998
Movement : Caliber 7R11. Manual winding. Decimal minute repeater.
Jewels : 112 jewels
Power reserve: 72 hours (without using the minute repeater mechanism)
Accuracy: ±15 seconds per month
Movement : Diameter 36.6 mm, thickness: 7.8 mm
Case: 18 carat rose gold. See-through caseback with sapphire crystal. 42.8mm diameter,14.0mm thickness
Band: Crocodile with 18 karat rose gold three-fold clasp and push button release
Crystal: Dual-curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating

Recommended retail price in Japan: JPY 34,650,000 (USD 426,389 at today’s rates)

You can watch the gong and listen to this beautiful clear sound at Seiko’s website here (bottom of the page) and you can listen to the Credor Grand Sonnerie, also a creation of the Micro Artist Studio from a few years back, here.

This is a stunning watch, with a similarly stunning price. Only three will be produced per annum. I am just intrigued as to whether they will in fact *sell* three in a year.


Baselworld 2011 - Thoughts so far...

Basel 2011 - The biggest watch fair of them all.

It's only been a couple of days, but thanks to the speed of the interweb, those of us who weren't fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to attend, can keep up to date with the latest and greatest.

And my pick so far?

Let's rewind a little. For me, Omega has lost its way in terms of design in the last few years. They were producing some of the weirdest, strangest, overstyled watches in the market. There's no style or sense to these designs. This is coming from someone who has owned more than 20 Omegas (on and off) so I do speak as a great appreciator of the brand. I didn't like where they were headed and I hoped they would one day return to their glory days.

That day was to be today. Or, to be precise, whichever day they released the new Planet Ocean with the in house chronograph.

We won't dive (pun intended) into details about what constitutes "in house". There's enough debate on this subject on the various fora. But this chronograph has been a long time coming. They mentioned, at the launch of their in house caliber 8500, that they planned to do a chronograph based on this movement and 5 years on, here it is.

What really took my breath away is just how good the design is. Yes, there are hints to other dive watches from other companies, but the Planet Ocean look is based on their dive watch from back in the '70s. This new chrono has 2 subdials, yet still shows the chrono seconds, minutes and hours. The subdial at 9 is the constant running seconds, and the subdial at 3 features both the hour and minute chrono counters, so you can see the elapsed time in hour and minutes in one glance. IWC did the same thing when they introduced their own in house chrono a few years back. You know what they say about the most sincere form of flattery...

Hublot Big Bang Leopard

Dear Hublot,

I think that you may have met Rolex -

Perhaps once was enough?

All the best,


[Note : RRP is $40,800]

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Creperie Du Monde

Creperie Du Monde
51 Chatsworth Rd
London E5 0LH
Ph : +44 020 8525 5735

This is the most fantastic creperie that has opened in my home town of Hackney. 

The area seems to have aways been 'up and coming', but with cafes like this opening, it really just might be getting ahead.

Friday, March 18, 2011

FORTIS B-47 BIG BLACK Limited Edition 2012

Really. What is the point of having a blog if you're just going to regurgitate what was written on the press release and copy and past the specs? A monkey can do that. If you want to know the source of my rant, Google "Fortis B-47 Big Black" and you'll see what I mean. Twenty different websites and blogs, all saying exactly the same thing. Why won't the watch companies take bloggers seriously? It's a 2-way street. quid pro quo. If you're not going to put effort in, neither are they. But of course, that is another debate for another time...(or, if you do have the time, have a look at the post and comments on this very subject here)

Back to the topic at hand. I saw this watch maybe a week to two weeks ago online. It hit me hard. Its very existence is completely impactful (to use a term favoured by the mass media in recent years. Note, it's NOT an actual word).

Its style? I reckon it's about as "love-it-or-hate-it" as it gets. It was talked about on watch forums and there were no in-between comments. I for one, love it. If you're going to make something like this, make it like this. As something that will stir people up, cause debates and generate controversy. That's how you sell watches.

I think the picture doesn't do the watch justice. I'm sure it'll look much better in person, and I'm sure many people will change their mind once they see it in real life. This goes for a lot of publicity shots. They really just don't do the watch justice.

This is the publicity shot. I mean, come on. It's not even cropped properly.

The watch is 47mm, but in this day and age that's barely considered oversized anyway. I don't like all black watches that aren't legible, as that defeats the purpose of the watch itself - which is telling the time. Yes I know that as a watch geek, more often than not I need to look at a watch several times before I notice the time.  But this is something else. It's taking the idea of a "skeletonised" watch, but with a different take on it. I really like the idea of using the date and day discs as a kind of "rotating" dial, meaning it'll look slightly different every day. Sort of.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cafe Svensson

Café Svensson
96 Goulburn St
Sydney NSW 2000
Open Wednesdays 6 - 9.30 pm

My last post was about a place that I'd walked past many times, but had never ventured into, until that night. This post is similar, about a place that I'd been interested in visiting, but somehow never managed to get around to patronising, due in part to their idiosyncratic opening hours.

What brought me here, in the end, was an aquavit called Snälleröds Bokhällarens, sought after by @flavourfirst. After a fruitless search for a stockist in Australia, including calls out for help on twitter, I suggested that he try Café Svensso. The recommendation, by @foodetc, of Svensson's Kladdkaka was also a lure.

The Café serves an important role for many Swedes in Sydney, whether they be permanent residents, students or tourists, acting as a meeting point and a place where people can have homemade cinnamon buns, cakes, and open sandwiches, as well as stocking up on confectionery such as Bilar, lollies, and various Swedish packaged foods.

Kanelbullar, Semla at the back, and Kladdkaka in the front

We were fortunate to have chosen this day to visit, as there was a special item on the menu. Semla (also known as 'fastlagsbulle'), is a traditional Lent pastry made in various forms throughtout the Northern European countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, especially Shrove Monday or Shrove Tuesday.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Perfume River Vietnamese Restaurant

Perfume River Vietnamese Restaurant
89 Percival St
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong
Ph : +852 2576 2240
Open : 7 days 11am-11pm

There are those restaurants that you walk past, over a period of years, and eventually curiosity takes the better of you and you walk in, wondering what it is that has enabled it to endure in an area replete with eating places.

You go in, you eat, and you decide that perhaps next time, when in the area, you will visit another establishment.

Perfume River is one of those places.

This is an informal restaurant of many years standing, and I am doubtful that the interior has been updated during that period. Situated over two floors, they were sufficiently busy on this evening that the ground floor was full, and the upper floor occupied by about half a dozen tables.

The menu is extensive, and bears little resemblance to most Sydney Vietnamese restaurants, appearing to be some locally influenced.

Vietnamese pork on rice crackers (HKD35. AUD1 = 7.5HKD)

This photo is somewhat deceptive in the sense that it doesn't properly show how large the crackers were. These were a simple mix of minced pork, garlic, shallots and the like, but surprisingly filling. A bit on the oily side, but this turned out to be a recurring theme.

Beef satay hot pot (HKD58)

Another huge serving, too large to finish, this was a very soupy mixture of thinly sliced beef, Chinese cabbage and peanuts in a mild satay tasting broth. Arguably a meal unto itself, and not quite what I had been expecting - that is, a somewhat drier dish.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Torta di Mirtilli ma modificati

Gaz bakes a cake! 

I've never been wired to bake a cake.  Why?  It's because I simply cannot follow instructions, let alone prepare ingredients to precise proportions.

Regardless, I decided to give baking a go and found a rather interesting recipe - Torta di Mirtilli (Italian for 'blueberry cake') from La Cucina, published by Italianicious.  I was attracted to it because of its use of olive oil.


100 gm butter and a little flour to coat a cake tin
4 large eggs at room temperature
300 gm sugar
180 gm unsalted butter
115 ml olive oil
155 ml milk
1 tspn of vanilla extract
400 gm plain flour
1.5 tpsn baking powder
A pinch of salt
Zest of two lemons and two oranges
600 gms of blueberries


Four large eggs at room temperature

Lemon and orange zest
Did I mention before that I can't follow instructions?  I couldn't resist adding something to the recipe.


Cherries with stones removed

1. Preheat oven to 175 C. Grease cake tin with butter and flour.
2. Beat eggs and sugar for about 3 minutes, then add butter, oil, milk... In my excitement I completely forgot the vanilla extract!
3. Mix well and sift in flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Stir in 2/3rds of the mixed fruits.

5. Pour into cake tin and smooth out the surface.

6. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove from oven.  Put remaining fruit on top and push down gently.

7. Bake for another 35 minutes until top is golden.

8. Leave to cool.

Not bad for my first cake ever!

The textures made it rather interesting.

All that fruit made it rather moist in the middle.  Overall, I thought it was a success, even without the vanilla extract.

So baking wasn't too hard and I still manage to not follow the receipe.  Until next time...