Tuesday, December 21, 2010

JLC Reverso

With the Reverso’s 80th birthday being just around the corner I thought I’d share stories about the Reversos that have been a part of my life… 

The first Reverso I had was also the very first JLC watch I’ve ever owned - a Reverso Duo. The name Duo, meaning there are two faces to the watch, with each face being able to show a different time, with the hour hand being able to be set independently. A very useful watch if you happened to travel a lot, or have the need to call someone in a different timezone, or, if you were like me, I simply enjoyed the fact that I kinda have two watches in one, and depending on my mood, I’d choose once face over the other.

Mine had a little pusher on the side of the watch, and you need to use a push pin or a toothpick to change the time on the 2nd dial. Later models would come with a proper pusher, making time zone changes a lot easier.

This watch actually came into my life quite unexpectedly. It wasn’t on my to-buy list nor did it ever appear on the horizon for me. But I was given the chance to buy one at a price too good to refuse.

So I didn’t.

Refuse, that is…

It was a great watch and I think this watch made me start to really like Reverso watches in general, but just not this one. As much as I liked it, I couldn’t get over how small it was (Men’s watches used to be smaller, but as we all grew larger, so too, did the size of watches) and ultimately, I had to let it go.

Here are some specs on that particular watch:

Case size: 42.2mm by 26mm
Manual wind movement calibre 854
21,600 vph
21 Jewels
180 parts
Front: Hour, minute, seconds
Back, 2nd time zone, 24 hour display
Power reserve: 45 hours.

It would be a while before I wore another Reverso, and this one I thought was perfect for me size-wise. It’s the Reverso Squadra Hometime, and when it was released, a lot of people didn’t like it, as they felt the case too thick and too chunky and lacking that classic Reverso finesse. But it suited me just right, and even at retail, the price was extremely reasonable.  Then the price started to creep up year after year, until it become overpriced, but the prices have come back down to a more reasonable level.

This is powered by an automatic movement, but rather than having a second face on the back, it is see-through, and you can see the movement. To me personally, if you want to show the movement, at least make sure there’s something to see? I’d much rather a second face, or even a solid case back, which would be great for engraving, if I ever went for one.

Being automatic is great too, as at times I do get a bit lazy winding up watches in the morning, so it’s quite convenient to just put the watch on and go. Yes I realise quartz is even more convenient but then you wouldn’t really be reading this if quartz is your thang…

Even though it’s only really single-faced, it still offers the function of a second time zone, in the form of a skeleton hour hand, which you can hide under the regular hour hand if you have no need of a second time zone.

I’ve worn this watch for more than two years now, and I enjoy it just as much as the first time I put it on my wrist. I think that due to its size, it can be a bit of a scratch magnet, but I can live with that. Looks great on the chunky bracelet, but I think I’ll stick to leather straps for the time being. The only major issue I have with it is that as the case is so thick, the strap needs to be fitted to the case; otherwise it would look quite ungainly. And that means I can’t just fit any 22mm strap to it. Meaning I’m stuck with the OEM choices of black, brown or black rubber, or… I’d need to go down the custom made route…

Again, some specs on this watch:

Case size: 50.5mm x 35mm x 14mm high
Automatic movement calibre 977
28,800 vph
29 jewels
234 parts
48 hour power reserve
Hour, minute, seconds, 2nd time zone, date display.

However, I’m very much looking forward to their new releases coming up. The Pre-SIHH 2011 shots of the Tribute to 1931, the original Reverso, already have me salivating. And I think they’ve hit the nail on the head with the size of the case. Being an “ultra thin” model as well, it would go great with a suit, and the Reverso Squadra maybe relegated to weekend jeans/ t-shirt duty…

...and yes... just so you know, I do earn my keep from JLC.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rolex 5510 - Some notes

As we have mentioned in this previous post, Rolex 5510s have been in the news a little of late (and in the US$66,100 ebay 5510's case, this interest even appeared in the non-watch media).  Compared to the 5510 that went for US$98,500 only a matter of nine days later, the ebay one seems like a bargain, if you have that sort of money to play around with.

Why is the Rolex Ref. 5510 such a sought after watch, and not just amongst not just Rolex enthusiast? How do you identify a 5510?

Fortunately for us, one of the Tarts is a veritable encyclopaedia of vintage Rolex information, and so this information is courtesy of TonyC, whose knowledge of Rolex arcana is, simply put, amazing.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Verandah Restaurant

Verandah Restaurant and Wine Bar
55-65 Elizabeth St
(Entrances on both Elizabeth St and Castlereagh St)
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph : (02) 9239 5888
Open : 12-3pm Monday to Friday

British politics, links from the Daily Mail, and very likely the best gingerbread cookies in Sydney.

These are some of the things that I associate with chef Jonathan Ingram (or @jonathaningram3 as he is known on twitter) of Verandah. We crossed paths once, at the opening of the Wine Library, but didn’t actually meet or speak on that occasion, so a visit to Verandah was a long overdue event.

The sunny spacious restaurant is accessed via a walkway from the popular Verandah Bar area, and easy to miss if you’re not looking for it.

On this particular day, the clientele was very much the Suited City type, which made our table somewhat incongruous. I’d like to think that we added err ‘variety’.

We faffed around with our orders, one course or two? Quite ridiculous, really.

The problem was solved for us, in the end.

Zucchini flowers stuffed with Wild Rocket, Ricotta and Parmesan; Prawns on Ratatouille;
Crab and Avocado tian

My favourite of these three (yes the plate was as large as it appears) was the zucchini flowers, both the batter and filling of which were light texturally and tastewise. Sometimes I find zucchini flower filling a bit heavy, but these? Well I wished that I'd had more than one.  The tian contained generous amounts of crab, the classic avocado combination creamy but with the acidity of the accompanying tomatoes cutting a nice bite through the creaminess. Oh, and I think that the middle item was a small dollop of ratatouille beneath the plump fresh prawns, or if not, then something akin to it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

An evening at Vendôme Woollahra

Following on from our Vendôme Woollahra teaser last month, the evening finally arrived for our private viewing with Alex and Grant.

I shall let the photos do the talking. Some of the brands I've already shown in the post linked above.

 The champagne served on the night.

 Globe-Trotter luggage

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rolex 5510 - Christie's Auction 2366

If you lost out on the recent much talked about ebay auction of a Rolex 5510 covered here by Hodinkee, you can always try for this one, up for auction at Christie's Sale 2366 on 14 December in New York. It’s lot 166 and the estimate is US $40,000 - $60,000.

"Lot Description


Cal. 1530 nickel-finished lever movement, 25 jewels, black gloss dial, luminescent baton, dot and triangular numerals, center seconds, tonneau water-resistant-type case, revolving black bezel calibrated for 60 units, screw-down crown, screw back stamped 1.1958 and engraved ROLEX OYSTER CASE, case, dial and movement signed, stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet and deployant clasp.

38mm diam. 

Accompanied by a Rolex service box and additional watch parts.

This last version of the Submariner model without the crown guard is also the last model of an historical and experimental era during which small quantities of unusual and varying diver's watches were made. In production during a short period of time only, it is assumed that the reference 5510 was made in an exceedingly small series of less than 300 examples."

This auction also contains something unexpected. Well for us, anyway.

Actor Anthony LaPaglia appears to be a watch collector of some quantity and breadth; he is getting rid of some watches via the same auction. In fact lots 199 to 420 are all from his collection. That’s a staggering amount of watches by any stretch of a collector’s imagination, but it’s not just about quantity, it’s quality as well. You’ll find some rare vintage Rolexes, Langes, a Panerai Ref. 3646, vintage Blancpain 50 Fathoms, Omegas, vintage pocket watches…fairly much something for every watch enthusiast and collector.

Take a look at what he's selling, I can find at least two dozen that I'd be more than happy to provide a new home for...


Postscript : 15 Dec - Price realised $98,500

For the prices realise for the LaPaglia watches, click here for the first lot. 

If you want to learn more about the Rolex 5510, you can read some notes here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

EAT Deli Kitchen

Eat Deli Kitchen
Level 5
Westfield Sydney CBD
Pitt St Mall
Sydney NSW 2000

When the revitalised Westfields shopping precinct opened (the signage actually says “The Opening Begins”, which doesn’t make any sense), it was reported that there were queues of people waiting to be the first to enter and part with their cash. 

As well as those queueing to enter the new shopping mall, queues were also present, for the first day (and subsequent days in that first week or so) at some of the eateries within this new shopping centre, with people happily waiting for up to TWO HOURS for their food in this shiny new food court.

One of these new eateries is EAT Deli Kitchen, owned by Panerai wearing chef Michael Moore.  I haven’t managed to get a clear view of which Panerai it is (Luminor, bracelet), but I was there to try the Reuben (100kg of that salt beef was sold on day one of trading), for which I didn't have to wait for more than about five minutes.

The Reuben – Blackmores Wagyu Salt Beef served on Rye with Swiss Cheese, Dill Pickles, Sauerkraut, Mild Mustard Mayo ($13.50)

Why aren’t Reuben sandwiches more popular in Sydney? I mean seriously – why? Lauren Murdoch’s new restaurant Felix, which has just opened, also has it on the menu (and I can’t wait to try it); perhaps this is the start of a new trend?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Watch brand ephemera

Last week we had a visitor, TonyP.  Although mostly living in Shanghai  nowadays, he comes back to Sydney a few times a year. When he does, he'll pop by on a Thursday evening to say hello and catch up.  Yes, we're that predictable that if anyone comes into town and wants to see us, they know exactly where and when to turn up.

For the past couple of years, Tony has been accumulating some free bits and pieces from SIHH and the like, and on this occasion he brought along a small suitcase filled with branded products to share with those who came along that night.

Here are some of them. Thanks, Tony!

Omega Apollo badges

Blancpain credit card case

Set of three Maîtres du Temps Moleskines

Daniel Roth Pilot fountain pen

Daniel Roth Wenger Swiss Army Knife

Audemars Piguet leather notepad

Richard Mille Sony Cybershot

Mont Blanc single pen holder

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Azuma Patisserie & Cafe

Azuma Patisserie & Cafe
Address: Shop 10.01
Level 10, 501 George St
Sydney, NSW 2000
Monday - Saturday: 12pm - 10pm
Sunday: 1pm - 8pm

An unexpected phone call, a brief GTG at Azuma, the first visit for one of us.

Was this photo tweeted by @initialjh?

Tableshot : the Rolex is self-explanatory. On the right is a LE Stowa B-Uhr Flieger.  

The two small tarts are Cheesecake and Matcha Green Tea Ganache Tart, at $2.50 each.  With cheesecake filling in the Japanese style, the first was probably my preferred one. The Green Tea tart, its texture of a slightly chewy consistency, had a sweet, strong green tea flavour but the taste was of a more ordinary quality green tea powder, lacking that component of green tea aroma that comes with good green tea.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

AMVOX2 Chronograph DBS

AMVOX2 Chronograph DBS - 192T450

Ah what is it about cars and watches?  Whether it’s co-branding, collaboration or ‘inspired by’, TAGs, Rolex Daytonas, Chopard Mille Miglia, Panerai Ferrari, Breitling for Bentley, Manometro, the list is endless, with even Spyker is getting in on the act with their own watch.

One of the more popular lines (and probably my personal favourite) is the JLC-Aston Martin AMVOX collaboration.

The modern partnership between Aston Martin and Jaeger-LeCoultre began in 2004 with the launch of the Aston Martin Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX1, reviving a link between the two companies going back to the 1930s, when Edmond Jaeger created dashboard instruments for cars such as the 1.5-litre Aston Martin LM.

Jaeger had established a company in the 1920s specialising in automotive dashboard instruments, and at its peak it is believed that 95% of car races were won by cars equipped with Jaeger counters.

I unexpectedly got to have a bit of a play with an AMVOX2 DBS Titanium recently.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hands-on with MeisterSinger's No3 - PVD

For a company that has only been in existence since 2001, MeisterSinger has managed to do quite well, picking up awards here and there for their designs, and becoming arguably the most well known modern proponent of single-handed watches, also known as the watch to have when being accurate to the minute really isn’t a priority.

I shan’t go down the Wagnerian reference route, suffice to say the company’s name  and musical influence is dealt with on their website as follows :

"The harmony reflected in a well-balanced piece of music, the fine drama of a good act and the ability of music to set aside time, these are all as well inherent qualities of a MeisterSinger watch. Therefore the MeisterSinger logo carries the fermata - the sign of silence in music.”

2010 has seen a special sporty addition to MeisterSinger’s No.3 line.  The No.3 AM911 has only just hit the retailers in Australia, and is not even on their website yet. An all black PVD affair, the five minute markers are in red, the colour theme continuing onto the ‘No.3’ and the stitching in the leather strap.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Vacheron Constantin Royal Chronometer


The term ‘chronometer’ was coined by English watchmaker and writer Jeremy Thacker in 1714 in his pamphlet ‘The Longitudes Examin’d’ for clocks used to calculate longitude on marine voyages.  He invented a marine chronometer, a clock encased within a vacuum chamber that protected the movement from the inevitable effects of humidity and atmospheric pressure.

Thacker's Chronometer

Unfortunately, it was a failure as a chronometer.

Accurate to six seconds a day, it fell somewhat short of the three seconds a day required to win the £20,000 first offered by the English Board of Longitude in the same year (1714) to anyone who could solve the problem of establishing the longitude of a ship at sea.

Thacker was thus condemned to the historical shadows of John Harrison, who also managed to score a ranking of 39 in the BBC’s 2002 poll of ‘100 Greatest Britons’ for his achievements, something which I am sure, had he been able to discover this from an alternate universe in which he was still alive in 2002, would have mollified him somewhat for his lifetime’s worth of horological trials. 

Clockmaker John Harrison (24 March 1693 – 24 March 1776) presented his first attempt at a marine chronometer in 1730. It was his H5 ‘pocket’ chronometer, produced in 1772, and accurate to one-third of a second per day, which solved the problem of establishing the longitude of a ship at sea, thus revolutionising and extending the possibility of safe long distance sea travel, and earning him the title of ‘The Father of Longitude’.

By the time of the H5's public unveiling, he had been working on the chronometer problem since 1730.

Harrison's Chronometer H5
(Collection of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers)

In 1773, Harrison received £8,750 from Parliament for his achievements, after the direct intervention of George III.  He appealed directly to the King, and in 1772 Harrison's son William was summoned to an audience with the King. George III is reported to have said: "By God, Harrison, I will see you righted!".

Until the advent and implementation of global satellite navigation, an accurate chronometer was essential for marine and air navigation.


Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC) defines a chronometer as “a high-precision watch capable of displaying the seconds and housing a movement that has been tested over several days, in different positions and at different temperatures, by an official neutral body (COSC).”

Since 1973 the term ‘chronometer’ has designated a watch having successfully passed the COSC trials.

Launched in 1907, Vacheron Constantin’s Chronomètre Royal has most notably been recognised in recent years through VC’s celebration, in 2007, of its centenary with the Chronomètre Royal 1907.

For a comprehensive history of Vacheron’s Chronomètres, see Alex Ghotbi’s brilliant post at The Hour Lounge.

The example below dates from the 1960s.  In 1962 VC’s manual calibres 1007 and 1008 were replaced by calibre 1072, making it Vacheron Constantin’s first automatic calibre with COSC certification.

Cal 1070: automatic with small seconds, no date
Cal 1071: automatic with central seconds
Cal 1072: as cal 1071 but with date
Cal 1072/1: as 1072 but with Gyromax.

 Vacheron Constantin "Royal Chronometer”


Caliber : 1702
Jewels : 29
Metal : 0.750 18ct WG
Case :  Two-body, solid, polished and brushed, screwed-down case back, horn lugs, caseback engraved with the Maltese cross and "Chronomètre Royal".
Dial : Original silver dial with diamond set in Maltese Cross
Diameter : 35mm
Thickness : 12mm

Although 35mm is small by today’s standards, where a minimum of 40mm seems  almost de rigueur, the Ref. 6694 does not seem particularly small when worn. 

The idea behind the Chronomètre was that of a legible precision instrument robust enough for everyday use. With its distinctive case design clearly indicating its 1960s origins, this uncommon watch is a deceptively elegant functional piece, with a wink to frivolity courtesy of the discreet diamond in the Maltese Cross. 

When I first saw this watch (which has some signs of age discolourisation on the dial) I admit that it didn’t grab my attention in quite the way that it grabbed its owner’s, but as I spent some more time looking at it, in reading about the history, and in looking back at the photos, I was struck foremost by how much I missed in terms of appreciating the design of the case and secondly, of its historical interest as a timepiece. I suspect I'd like it a bit more if it didn't have the diamond, which I find a bit incongruous.

Like it though I may, if presented with the choice of two chronometers, this Ref. 6694 and a Chronomètre Royal 1907, I have to confess that I’d chose the latter in a heartbeat, I can't resist a beautiful 'red 12'!

A final thought - over a million official chronometer certificates are delivered each year, representing only 3% of the Swiss watch production.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Acacia Modern Japanese Dining

Shop 6&7 GPO Building
741 Pacific Hwy Gordon
02 9499 5214

The redevelopment of Gordon’s GPO building was completed quite a long time ago, with a lot of the building remaining empty. It took ages for the pizza place to open up in what used to be the Gordon post office. It was only very recently that another restaurant opened up in the building.

You can’t see this restaurant from Pacific Hwy, which may or may not be ideal. But if you’re like me, and take the train everyday, then yes, you can see the restaurant from the station side. Acacia is a modern Japanese restaurant, but really, it’s more of a Japanese/Western fusion, but with a lot more Japanese influence, but served in a Western style.

The décor is very modern, clean and the seats are comfortable. One issue I have with the décor is the noise suppression aspect. Or, should I say, the lack of it. It’s a fairly busy restaurant, meaning that the noise level can be quite high, almost to the point of lunch time yum cha levels. It is not at all romantic, as suggested by the restaurant’s advertising material. This is quite unfortunate.

It is also a very new restaurant, with the wait staff still learning the ropes and hence service is friendly, but inconsistent. Sometimes you get the feeling that the staff still aren’t quite sure about what to do, and  they can look a bit hesitant at times.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Vendôme Woollahra teaser

A little while ago, we mentioned a new boutique that was about to open in Sydney - Vendôme Woollahra. After they'd been open but a week, I was invited to pop by for a visit to meet Alex Simon and Grant Breen, and to get a glimpse of this new luxe shopping destination, which stocks a number of brands making their Australian appearance for the first time.

Here are a couple of teaser photos:

Hautlence HLS 02

Specifications :

Case : Ti2
Movement : Hand wound. Caliber HL. Power reserve 40hours. Jumping hours, retrograde minutes.
Bezel & Bumpers : DLC scratch-resistant, polished steel
Bezel flange : Brushed 18 carat pink gold.
Screws : Ti5
Oscillation: 21600 bph. 
Diameter : 45mm
Thickness : 12.5mm 
Water Resistance : 5ATM
Bracelet : Rubber, folding clasp
Limited edition of 88

Hautlence HLQ 08

Specifications :

Case : Titanium G2 case with polished crown
Buckle : Ardillon, Titanium G2
Dial : Black opaline with hand applied "HAUTLENCE" lettering.  Intermmediate dial with laser cut minutes.
Movement: Dedicated Calibre HAUTLENCE HLQ. Jumping date, Jumping hour, retrograde minute and running second.  Manual winding mechanical movement.
Power reserve : 40 hours
Oscillation: 21600 bph.
Diameter: 43.8mm 
Thickness: 10.65mm
Water Resistance : 30m (3ATM)
Caseback : Fine brushed galvanic treatment black gold. Manually angled bridges.  Identification and numbering plate on the back. Black varnish in the engraving.
Limited edition of 88

Romain Jerome Moondust DNA

Model: Steel Mood MG.F1.11BB.00.BB
Calibre:  C22RJ51
Bezel: carbon fibres evoke solar panels of spacecraft – Steel comprising fragments of the Apollo XI spacecraft,  5N pink gold
Case: Steel
Dial: Mineral structure containing moon dust - silver

We are hoping to have a small evening there soon, and I will share some more photos of the event and their watches in particular, afterwards.

In the meantime, do pay a visit to the very personable Alex and Grant at Vendôme Woollahra. I spent a really enjoyable hour or so there looking mostly at watches, but also at the Roland Iten belt buckles. They have also just launched their facebook page if you want to see some more photos and sign up to keep updated about their incoming goodies.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hands-on with Seiko's Quartz Astron

December 2009 was the 40th anniversary of the world’s first Quartz wristwatch, the Seiko Quartz Astron 35SQ. Based on a quartz crystal oscillator (an electrical signal with an extremely precise frequency), its importance is acknowledged by its registration on the IEEE Milestone list as a major advance in electrical engineering.

Seiko marked this anniversary by the commissioning of 40 new watch designs all based around the original Quartz Astron design, which were exhibited in the ‘Seiko Power Design Project’ in Dec 2009.

The culmination of Seiko’s commemoration was the new Quartz Astron, powered by the SEIKO quartz caliber 9F62, accurate within 10 seconds a year, and with its date change completed in an astonishing 1/2,000 of a second.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Peter Speake-Marin 2010

How time flies. Just a year ago we'd been fortunate enough to meet Peter Speake-Marin, wondering whether he would even come to our shores again, only to receive an email from him about his impending return to Australia.

Our new friend RJW has already posted on Purists about the dinner at Buzo Trattoria (many thanks to Traci, Roddy and the Buzo team for their always amazing hospitality) so here are just some photos taken on the night.  Much has already been said about the horological star of the evening, the Thalassa, so we shall not repeat the plaudits it has garnered, but direct you to this wonderful interview of Peter by AndrewD in Melbourne as a must-read.

Tony, RJW, Peter.