Monday, September 14, 2015

Reflections on Rebellious causes

Being invited to a rebellious cause will stir emotion in most of us, as we all have dreams of lashing out our creative energy into our passions. I suspect that the reason why most of us fail in this endeavor is our inherent need to often seek the approval of others.
En masse globalisation is standardising value systems and the mega brands increasingly seem to have the same look and feel despite their best efforts to instill the ‘disruptive mantra’.  Maybe it’s a symptom of the fact that corporate marketing departments like to play it safe by developing watches the current trends suggest rather than taking a risk creating a potential object of desire.

Now and then there are glimmers of hope, like this year’s Patek Philippe Pilot Watch controversy which got the world talking, but more on that later.

It was with particular joy to find out that I was invited to join in the celebrations of three rising independent watch brands, namely, De Bethune, MB&F and Urwerk.
I have to say that watch events in Singapore are of a different league in terms of standard and level of sophistication not just from the organiser but also the end collectors.
The knowledge base is astounding, as is the uncompromising critique when a new piece is launched. The HM6 Space Pirate is one watch that manages to spark in instant reaction from people, the initial reaction is confronting which is then followed by fascination and a deep respect of the craftsmanship and design complexity.
Ironically even Max thought that I would never buy a HM given that my watch collection is very classic. Intriguingly I’m drawn more to the Horological Machines now despite my earlier and most would think more rational preference for the Legacy Machine particularly given Kari Voutilainen’s input into the movement.

The HM2 is my personal favourite machine I just had to have one.
A true mechanical sculpture unique, technically complex and with strong elegant lines. I suspect that even H.G Wells and Leonardo Da Vinci would approve.
 A good friend of mine remarked on the fact that, “for a watch to have true inherent value to the collector, it must be an object of the highest quality, rare and relevant”. The last point is of particular interest as the vintage pieces that achieve auction records are all historically ‘relevant’ icons.
 A large number of these now considered ‘ classics’ were not that popular when first produced as they were often ahead of their time. This makes it even more exciting to be part of these pioneer’s journey and watch them create the horological icons of the future.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Vacheron-Constantin Harmony Chronograph and Champagne Lunch at Black By Ezard

In a lucky roster rotation, my wife got another Sunday off. Making the most of it, we decided to head into the city and stay at the Hilton again. After checking in we headed over to J Farren-Price to have a look at a new arrival from Vacheron Constantin, the rose gold Harmony Chronograph. This is a limited edition of 260 pieces  in celebration of Vacheron’s 260 anniversary. Taking inspiration from a historical Vacheron Doctor's chronograph from 1928, this piece is certainly vintage inspired with its cushion shaped case, mono-pusher activation, and pulsation dial.

This watch is a beautiful piece and well finished. The 42 mm cushion case that houses the caliber 3300 movement is very elegant and not too large on the wrist, yet has a nice weight to it. The white dial features blue hour markers, and the chronograph markings in black and red. I love an oversized crown and this was a nice example without being annoying when moving your wrist around.  
The rose gold case is paired with a brown Mississippi alligator strap and rose gold deployant clasp.
While the Vacheron-Constantin Harmony Chronograph is a lovely watch, it sadly doesn’t quite fit with the other pieces in my collection.

After our visit it was time for lunch. A quick discussion, found us heading across the Pyrmont Bridge to Black by Ezard, at The Star. 
Sunday at Black by Ezard is Champagne lunch day, with three courses and free flowing Moet and Chandon Champagne for $125. There are a couple of options that attract an extra charge but that is to be expected when you get such a great offer. Sunday lunch crowd is always buzzy and makes for good people watching and watch spotting.
There is nothing like a view of the city, water and luxury yachts while you dine. A sunny but partly cloudy day also helps.
After being seated, ordering and having our first glass of champagne poured a delicious mini loaf of house made brioche was bought to the table with Pepe Saya butter and Hawaiian black sea salt. Hawaiian black sea salt seems to be making an appearance everywhere as we also had it when we dined at Il Ristorante Luca Fantin in Tokyo.
I ordered the open ravioli of ox tail, smoked potato, walnut gremolata, bone marrow and watercress salad. A huge but tasty entrée that had me asking if it was my imagination or had food in Sydney improved a lot?
 My wife ordered the sautéed Spencer Gulf prawns, sweetcorn puree, watermelon, red onion, tomato, coriander, jalapeno peppers and crispy pancetta. Very colourful and she said it was very tasty.
For my main I ordered the grass fed Angus fillet, roasted cauliflower and pearl onion salad with gremolata. A selection of mustards, sauces along with café de Paris butter accompanied the steak. Of course we had to order some chips with garlic, parmesan and rosemary salt..
My wife ordered the roasted duck breast, Dutch carrots, spiced fennel chutney, Sichuan pepper sauce. I enjoyed this immensely. Vikki was very happy with her main, and slipped me a little taste,the fennel chutney was amazing with the duck, and the Dutch carrots done two ways was also very tasty. The fennel salad went well against the fattiness of the duck skin. My wife was happy to see nasturtium leaves being used in a meal. 
When the desserts came out we were really happy with our choices. I chose the cheesecake, lavender honey, blueberry sorbet and sable crumble.  The colour of the sorbet was astounding!! Deep and dark it looked like a jewel sitting on the cheesecake.
My wife chose the coffee parfait, mascarpone mousse, orange crumble and spiced caramel. Vikki and I swapped plates for a bit so we got to try each other’s desserts.  The flavours were amazing and the dried orange pieces, a real textural and flavor loaded sensation when you popped one in your mouth. 
We know Sydney has some great restaurants and many have had a long reputation of greatness, but somehow in the past year or two things seem to have really stepped up a notch or three.

We really enjoyed visiting Black By Ezard again, and look forward to returning for another visit in the future.