Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November GTG

For the second year in a row, one of our group kindly opened up their house for a large GTG, so that we could bring in more watches than we'd normally do in a cafe or restaurant and, of course, have a dedicated watch viewing area.

The number of watches brought in by individuals varied between "what's on my wrist" and about two dozen.

Here is a photographic glance at our evening.

This foam box (as in the box itself) was quite exciting to some folks, who immediately wanted to know how they could obtain one.

What was in the box was pretty interesting too. Yes that's a gorgeous Jaeger LeCoultre Perpetual Calendar on the right.

One collector decided on a JLC and Rolex theme.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Selections from Antiquorum's NY December auction

With the end of 2011 nigh, Antiquorum's December "Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces" auction in New York will feature a mixed bag of 450 modern and vintage timepieces, and even some parts (see lots 323 to 327).

You can view the full catalogue at this link but here are a couple of interesting (and sometimes quirky) timepieces that grabbed my attention. I am partial to lots 158 and 188. Descriptions and photographs are from the catalogue:

Lot 139 – Jaeger LeCoultre for Hermès, retailed by the latter. Movement No. 2176671, case No. 1315945. Made in the 1970's. Fine and rare, 18K yellow gold wristwatch with large lugs. Two-body, horizontal rectangular, polished and brushed, inclined bezel, extended lugs, winding-crown at 6. Satine silver with applied steel baton indexes. Steel baton hands. M. Cal. 818/2, tonneau, rhodium-plated, fausses cotes decoration, 17 jewels, straight lever escapement, monometallic balance, shock-absorber to balance and escape wheels, self-compensating fl at balance spring. Dial and movement signed. Dim. 42 x 30 mm. Thickness 7 mm.

Estimate: 1,000 USD - 2,000 USD
Estimate: 900 CHF - 1,700 CHF
Estimate: 700 EUR - 1,500 EUR

Lot 157 – Scarab beetle. Unsigned, Swiss, circa 1870. Fine gold and enamel, diamond-set pendant form watch designed as a scarab-beetle. Accompanied by a fitted box and key. Three part, underside chased and engraved with legs and underbody, wing covers entirely decorated in translucent red enamel over engine-turning with black spots, main body with black enamel stripes, the thorax with a diamond-set collar, spring loaded wing covers hinged and opening from a button in the base to reveal the dial. White enamel with Roman numerals. Blued steel "spade" hands. Oval 7"' 1/2 gilt brass, bar calibre with going barrel, 8 jewels, cylinder escapement and plain three-arm balance, fl at balance spring with regulator. Total length 46 mm.

Estimate: 15,000 USD - 20,000 USD
Estimate: 13,000 CHF - 17,000 CHF
Estimate: 11,000 EUR - 14,000 EUR

Lot 158 – Vacheron & Constantin Ref. 7323 white gold. Genève, No. 616631, case No. 49845. Circa 1970. Very fine and unusual, thin, keyless 18K white gold oval shaped pocket watch. Two body, polished bezel with satin reverse, cabouchon set winding crown. Silvered with painted Roman numerals. Blued steel index hands. Calibre. 1003 within oval steel holder, rhodium plated with fausses cotes decoration, 17 jewels, Geneva seal, straight-line lever escapement, blued steel balance spring adjusted to heat, cold, isochronism and 5 positions, index regulator. Dim. 35 mm x 47 mm.

Estimate: 2,800 USD - 4,300 USD
Estimate: 2,500 CHF - 3,800 CHF
Estimate: 2,000 EUR - 3,000 EUR

Lot 188 - Patek Philippe Telequartz. No. 842067. Circa 1975. Fine and rare, 220v., radio-controlled Module LS 0 electronic Master Clock. C. Rectangular, stepped, steel, black control panel with LCD display and buttons for setting. D. Electronic LCD digital display. M. Electronic, based on quartz oscillator, integral receiver Module AD 10SN, Serie 2384 receiver box. Dim. 24 x 33 x 7 cm.

Estimate: 1,500 USD - 3,000 USD
Estimate: 1,300 CHF - 2,600 CHF
Estimate: 1,000 EUR - 2,000 EUR

Lot 441 - Yellow gold top winder Vacheron & Constantin, Genève, No. 370816, case No. 262383. Made in the early 1930's. Very fine and rare, 18K yellow gold wristwatch. C. Three-body, solid, polished, concave lugs, winding crown at 12, domed crystal. D. Black with applied yellow gold Arabic numerals and baton indexes, outer minute divisions, subsidiary seconds dial. Yellow gold epée hands. M. Cal. 10 1/2''', gilt brass, 15 jewels, straight-line lever escapement, cut bimetallic compensation balance, blued steel fl at balance spring. Dial, case and movement signed. Diam. 30 mm. Thickness 8 mm.

Estimate: 4,300 USD - 7,000 USD
Estimate: 3,800 CHF - 6,000 CHF
Estimate: 3,000 EUR - 5,000 EUR

One of the stars of this auction, and the cover watch, is the Parmigiani Bugatti  Type 370. This piece unique, with a 10-day power reserve, is in a stunning curved rectangular shape, its movement shaped like an automotive engine set inside an oval-shaped cylinder. The watch is wound and set via the underside, and comes with a “starter key”, in the manner of a car. The key is inserted into the winding hole to wind the watch, the “key’s” reverse is used to set the time. It also has 28 baguette diamonds.

Lot 180 – Parmigiani Fleurier “Bugatti” 18-carat white gold and diamonds. "Bugatti - Type 370," Piece Unique, case No. 23706. Made in 2007, sold January 27th, 2008. Accompanied by the original fitted box, travel box, certificate of origin, instructions and automatic winding pen. Extremely fine, rare and unusual, rectangular curved, movement constructed in the shape of an automotive engine encased in an oval-shaped cylinder, 18K white gold and diamonds driver's wristwatch with 10-day autonomy (displayed on a graduated drum) and an 18K white gold Parmigiani double deployant clasp. Accompanied by the original fitted box, travel box, certificate of origin, instructions and automatic winding pen.

Eight-body, solid, polished, transparent top, sides and back to view the movement, bezel set with 28 tapered baguette diamonds (approx. carat weight 3.1), case back with 4 screws, sapphire crystals. White gold with oeil-de-perdrix decoration, applied white gold EB (Ettore Bugatti) logo, luminous white gold baton indexes on a matte black outer reserve. Luminous white gold alpha hands. M. Cal. PF 370 oval mounted on silent blocks, rhodium-plated, 37 jewels, straight-line lever escapement, monometallic balance, shock absorber, self-compensating fl at balance spring, double-barrel. Dial, case and movement signed. Dim. 32 x 50 mm. Thickness 19 mm.

Estimate: 100,000 USD - 150,000 USD
Estimate: 90,000 CHF - 130,000 CHF
Estimate: 70,000 EUR - 105,000 EUR

Happy bidding!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A day (or four) at the beach with a Bronzo

In a nutshell, bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the other ingredient, though the balance varies, thus rendering the term ‘bronze’ a bit difficult to pin down exactly. It’s a favoured medium for artwork, especially sculptures, for boat/ ship fittings, and of course there was the Bronze Age.

In the last year or so, it has become one of the most talked-about materials for watches, and one of the most talked-about bronze watches has been the LE (1,000 pieces) Panerai PAM 382, otherwise known as the Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic, or “Bronzo”. The bronze chosen by OP for the case of the PAM 382 is CuSn8.

Bronze develops a darker brown patina, over time, because of the effects of oxidation. Panerai’s use of untreated bronze means these surface changes will start occurring relatively early in the watch’s use. Once the surface layer of the bronze has oxidised (eventually becoming copper carbonate), it will form a protective layer for the rest of the watch.

Fittingly, with bronze having a superior resistance to corrosion and salt water compared to steel, one Bronzo owner often takes his to the beach. In this case, the beach at Hamilton Island during’s 10th P-Day.

Here are some ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots of a Bronzo after a day at the beach. 

(Photo credit : Gaz)

 (Photo credit : Volker)

Over the course of the four days, the case’s colour and ‘mottling’ changed every single day. Even if you’re not a fan of bronze watches, or of green dials (or you can’t wear a 47mm watch, for that matter), is still fascinating, and it means that every Bronzo ends up having a highly personalised character, perhaps making it harder to part with ...?


Movement: Automatic mechanical, Panerai P.9000 caliber, executed entirely by Panerai, 13¾ lignes, 7.9 mm thick, 28 jewels, Glucydur balance, 28,800vph. Incabloc anti-shock device. Power reserve 3 days, two barrels. 197 components.

Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, calculation of immersion time.

Case: Diameter 47 mm, brushed bronze. Brushed bronze bezel with anti-clockwise unidirectional rotating bezel with graduated scale for calculating the time of immersion, ratchet click at minute intervals.

Dial: Green with luminous hour markers. Date at 3 o’clock, small seconds at 9 o’clock.

Crystal: Sapphire, made from corundum, 4 mm thick. Anti-reflective coating.

Water-resistance: 30 bar (300 meters).


Monday, November 21, 2011

Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève 2011 : results

The 2011 Aiguille d'Or Grand Prix has just been awarded to De Bethune for its DB28 at the 11th Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix (GPHG) on Saturday 19 November.

The Grand Prix was founded in 2001 by the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix Foundation and the Banque Privée Edmond de Rothschild to celebrate and recognise horological excellence.

You can read about the nominated watches, which included Australia's own Eva Leube, here.

This year’s winners are :

“Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix: De Bethune DB28
“Petite Aiguille” Prize (for models under CHF 5’000): Montblanc, Star Worldtime GMT Automatic
Best Ladies’ Watch Prize: Boucheron, Crazy Jungle Hathi
Best Men’s Watch Prize: Hermès, Arceau Le Temps Suspendu
Best Design Watch Prize: Urwerk, UR-110
Best Jewellery and Artistic Crafts Watch Prize: Van Cleef & Arpels, Lady Arpels Polar Landscape
Best Complicated Watch Prize: Zenith, Academy Christophe Colomb Equation of Time
Best Sports Watch Prize: TAG Heuer, Mikrotimer Flying 1000 Chronograph
Best Watchmaker Prize: Vianney Halter
Special Jury Prize: Patek Philippe Museum

The public prize, awarded by visitors to the exhibition and voters on the World Tempus and GPHG, went to Audemars Piguet’s Millenary 4101.

All the prize winners and nominated watches will be exhibited at the Salon International de l’Horlogerie de Prestige Belles Montres at the Carrousel du Louvre from November 24th to 27th.

Available in four iterations (reference DB28TIS8 with the titanium case, black dial, and titanium floating lugs is 87'000 CHF), more information about this year’s winner can be found here.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

flour and stone

flour and stone
53 Riley St
NSW 2011
Ph : (02) 8068 8818
Hours : Mon-Fri 7am to 4pm. Saturday 8am to 2pm.

For fans of Nadine Ingram's Cookie Couture gingerbread (made, for years, by her husband Jonathan, chef at Verandah), the news that she was about to open flour and stone in the old Sweet Infinity space was eagerly anticipated. 

When we visited at lunchtime on their first day, there was clearly a lot of baking going on in the kitchen. Cookie Couture’s wares are now being made in Woolloomooloo, so if you buy your gingerbread there, it’s not only likely to be incredibly fresh, but you’ll be able to buy them in single portions, which is now impossible to do at their retailers, who seem to only stock gift packs. As well, there are giant gingerbread designs available, for those days when you really need a giant piece of gingerbread.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chinta Ria…Mood for Love

Chinta Ria…Mood for Love
Shop 6006, Level 6
Westfield CBD
188 Pitt St
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 8072 8888

Two weeks after it opened, I was invited by a friend to Chinta Ria...Mood for Love, a much anticipated venture by the ebullient and engaging Simon Goh (whose Sassy’s Red is on the level below), with chef John Poh (below) formerly of Kuali, at the cooking helm. 

The name of the restaurant is an obvious nod to Wong Kar-Wai's "In the Mood for Love", and a short film, commissioned by Simon, screens continuously in the main body of this small jewel of a restaurant, which is split between an intimate curtained-off space which can be used for a small group, and the larger area in which most diners sit.

What first struck me about MFL was the cleverness of the design. The traditionally styled entrance gives no pointers as to what is inside. I had been expecting a medium to large sized restaurant, and not the ambience that Simon and his designers have achieved.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5712/1A

This year has seen the loss of a number of watch luminaries. One of these was Gérald Genta.

One of the (many) watches for which he was (and still is) most well-known is Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, introduced in 1976. It was the brand's first move away from dress watches into sports watches, and has proven to be an immensely popular mainstay of their collections since then.

The stainless steel Nautilus Ref. 5712/1A is one of the more complicated watches in the Nautilus line-up. Apart from displaying hours and minutes on its grey-blue dial, the Ref. 5172/1A has a seconds subdial at 4 o’clock, a power-reserve indicator between 10 and 11 o'clock, and an analog date dial at 7 o’clock which has an integrated moon-phase display. There is a pusher for the moon-phase on the side of the case. Nautilus models generally have a water resistance rating of 120 meters, but this model is only 60 metres, because of the moon-phase pusher.

Ref. 5712/1A is powered by the 3.98mm thick (or rather, thin) automatic Patek Philippe calibre 240 PS IRM C LU movement which is visible through an open caseback, including the 22k gold mini-rotor. This movement is what makes helps make the watch feel so remarkably slim. Although 43mm x 38mm, it was far less hefty than I had expected it to be, and surprisingly light on the wrist, as well.

First up, I have to declare that the Nautilus isn’t really my type of watch, aesthetically. The shape, combined with the bracelet, don’t suit me, nor am I drawn to them. Not that I can afford one anyway, but in spite of my ambivalence towards the Nautilus design, in looking at this model, I had to admire this watch’s workmanship, and the view through the open case-back. The watch and bracelet moulded to the wrist, sitting very comfortably and discreetly. Not a watch for everyone, perhaps, but the quality shines through.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pre P-Day 10

It was the week prior to P-Day 10, and some of the overseas guests were visiting Sydney before heading up to Hamilton Island, so we organised a GTG at the Bavarian Bier Cafe. It was nice to match faces to names and, for those of us unable to make it up to Hamilton Island for P-Day, to be able to at least share some of the pre-celebratory atmosphere.

Some of the two dozen of us who were there

Sam, Peter, Tony

Tasting platter - schnitzel, pork belly, sausages, sauerkraut, fried onions

Moules (the frites are there, somewhere)

Nicolas, Sam and Gary (Minnesota)

Bernie and Doreen from Honolulu


Hagen (Germany), Tom (Sydney) and
Giulio (down from the Blue Mtns for his first Risti/ watch GTG)

Gary and his daughter

JLC Perpetual interloper

Who ordered salad at a bier cafe?

Special. 6152/1

One of the great things about P-Day this year was the number of families who attended

Taking a groupshot in a noisy bier cafe whilst standing on a chair and waving at everyone to get their attention was attempted, with err, variable success, but what's a Risti GTG without a groupshot?

Thank you to all our overseas friends for signing the Sydney Paneristi banner (which was subsequently taken to Hamilton Island, of course). It was a huge pleasure to be able to meet you, and we hope to see you again either in Australia or P-Day 11 or maybe in your home towns. For a great  video wrap-up of Hamilton Island by Amanda (Melbourne), click here.

[AP - photos by AP & ChrisL]

Monday, November 14, 2011

It took 60 years...

...but it seems that NATO straps have hit the mainstream.

A current display in a random Sydney CBD shop window :

The strap options are :

You can probably tell just from this photo that they aren't high quality straps. The NATOs I recently blogged about for my MeisterSinger are not only of much better quality, but the colour is a lot better as well.

Nonetheless, it's interesting to see these straps gradually filtering their way down the horological price points. You can find quite good quality NATOs (albeit in a limited variety of designs and colours) from Fossil, as well.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Queensland farm shed reveals 14th century timepiece

(Photo from Bonhams)

An extremely rare time-keeping device found in a bag of spare parts in a Queensland shed is estimated to fetch between GBP150,000 - 200,000 (AU$233,000-$311,000) at Bonhams' Fine Clocks and Scientific Instruments Sale on 13 December 2011.

Dating from 1396, this quadrant is the earliest of a group of three similar quadrants dated 1398, 1399 and c.1400, two of which are in the British Museum, and the other in the Dorset County Museum, Dorchester.

Like the other quadrants, the Queensland one shows equal hour markings i.e. the period from midnight to midnight is divided into twenty-four equal parts. This technique was one that was developed during the 14th century, with one of the earliest recorded uses of it being Richard II's abdication on 30 September 1399, which was stated to have been “at about the ninth stroke of the clock”.

On its reverse, the quadrant features a badge depicting a prone stag with a coronet around its throat, a symbol associated with Richard II. The tables on the back of the quadrant give the height of the sun at midday throughout the year.

(Photo from Bonhams)

Its owner Christopher Becker and his brother were playing in the shed of their family's cattle station in the mid-1970s when they came across the brass quadrant in a bag of pipe fittings. It struck them that it would make an excellent aid for their toy car games but their father, noticing that it was made of soft expensive metal, removed it from the boys.

The quadrant is believed to have been discovered by an ancestor of Becker’s in the mid 1800s in Northern England, before he emigrated to Australia. Christopher Becker's father attempted to find out more about it in the 1970s, taking it to the Queensland Museum, but they could only tell him that it was an astrolabe.

And so it remained on Christopher Becker's shelf, until earlier this year, when he decided to do some research. He found a number of references to similar quadrants with Richard II markings in a number of scientific journals, and his suspicions were confirmed by the British Museum

The 13 December auction catalogue is not yet available online, as items are still being invited for entry, but you can keep an eye out for it in Bonham’s listing of its future sales.

ADDENDUM : It failed to reach its reserve price and was passed in.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Which came first - Glashütte or Prim?

In 2007, Glashütte Original presented what would turn out to be the first in a line of "Sixties" models (with a square-cased tourbillon featuring in 2011's line-up) based on an almost identical design that they’d produced in, of course, the 1960s. The modern version was released in either a silver or black dial, and rose gold or stainless steel models.

This one is Reference 39-52-04-02-04


Case: Stainless steel
Size : 39 mm 
Crystal : domed sapphire
Dial : Arabic numerals and applied indices
Calibre : Automatic GO 39-52. 25 jewels, 28,800vph
Power reserve : 40 hours
Water resistance : 30m

This was one of those watches that, when its release was announced, I was convinced that I’d love, especially the silver dial version. Interestingly, my enthusiasm wasn’t anywhere near as great by the time I saw one in the flesh, the silver left me somewhat ambivalent.

The black one, to my mind, is more eye-catching, looks more elegant, and the dial feels as though it has more depth to it than its lighter sibling. In the flesh, they are very discreet classic looking watches and at 39mm, a comfortable size for both men and women (this one belongs to a woman).

You'll notice that this 1960s PRIM I have is more than a little similar to the silver dialled version. It makes me wonder how many other brands did a similar design in the ‘60s. Does anyone know of any others?


Monday, November 7, 2011

From 1786 to 2011

I recently had a NATO strap revelation, but just prior to the NATOs, I’d taken delivery of a rather more special strap, known as a "Metta". Five of us had placed a bulk order with Micah, each with a different stitch/ buckle configuration, and in barely a month, our handmade straps arrived.

There are many straps which are popular for Panerais owners, but there are only two that have really piqued my interest. The first was an A.B.P, of which I finally got one in ostrich leg. The second was a Metta, made from over 200 year old reindeer hide.

Firstly, a bit of history. 

In the 18th century, Russian leather was considered to be amongst the finest available in Europe. They were renowned for their colour, quality, texture and, strangely enough, their scent, which was reputedly so strong that it was an insect repellent.

The 100-tonne Danish brigantine Die Frau Metta Catharina von Flensburg, outward bound from St Petersburg to Genoa, was wrecked during a storm in Plymouth Sound in 1786. There it lay, with its leather treasure, until 1973, when a team of divers from Plymouth Sound BSAC found what they thought was a mass of rotting seaweed and timber. Investigating further, they found a bell on top of a mud blanket over the wreck. The divers investigated the holds, and discovered hundreds of reindeer hides that were not only intact, but in astonishingly fine condition.

The pressure of 15 fathoms of water combined with the hides’ tanning methods meant that for nearly 200 years, little water had penetrated them. The hides had been tanned in a traditional Russian method involving soaking in pits of willow bark and treatment with birch oil. 

With the consent of the wreck's owner, the Duke of Cornwall, the Plymouth divers, lead by project leader Ian Skelton and Glen Peacham, Plymouth Sound Diving Officer, started excavating the Metta Catharina.

The Plymouth divers didn’t understand the importance of the Metta Catharina’s cargo until a serendipitous overhearing of their conversation in a Falmouth pub by a leatherworker named Robin Snelson. He became the recipient of the early hides, working on the salvaged leather fairly much undisturbed until 1986, when London bespoke shoemakers John Carnera and George J. Cleverley examined the reindeer hide and confirmed their suspicions that this was, in fact, the famous Russian leather from that period.

The leather has since been used primarily for straps, leather goods and shoes, notably by Snelson, G.J. Cleverly, and Hidetaka Fukaya.

The excavation and display of material from the Metta Catharina was not completed until 2006.

And so we come to 2011, and my new Metta.

Firstly, we had to remove the A.B.P.

Micah has a number of stitching and buckle choices available. I chose the 1886 tan stitching and a pre-V buckle for my PAM48. With its distinctive marking, the Metta is quite a thick strap, but fairly soft.

Looks great, doesn't it?

The keepers are quite large, so one may be sufficient.

One of the tricky things about using leather from 1786 is that things will come up. In this case, a crack appeared on each strap segment, so I emailed Micah, who must be a contender for the most wide-ranging guarantee ever. He told me that this had recently come up as an issue for a couple of straps made from that part of the of hide (expecting consistency from hide that has been around that long would be a big ask), and that he would make me a new one immediately.

And so he did. In two days.

Metta Catharina : 53-ton Danish brigantine, built 1782 carrying hemp and reindeer hides. Leningrad for Genoa via Plymouth.

Sunk: 10 December, 1786 in Plymouth Sound after hitting Drake's Island in southerly gale.

Position: 50 21.10N; 04 09.77W. Depth: 34m.

The location of wreck can be viewed here on Google Maps.