Sunday, May 29, 2011

Footballer gives £36,000 watch to waiter

Most watch enthusiasts know about Vladimir Putin's penchant for expensive timepieces and of how, on 15 September 2009, the then Russian Prime Minister handed over his Blancpain Léman Aqua Lung Grande Date to Russian factory worker Viktor Zagaevsky when the latter asked for a momento of Putin's visit to the arms factory of Tula.

Well another random high profile watch giveaway has just occurred, though this time, it involves a footballer. According to British newspaper reports, 25 year old Tottenham Hotspur defender Vedran Corluka gave his £36,000 watch to a nightclub waiter who had admired it.

The Croatian international joined Tottenham from Manchester City in 2008 for a transfer fee of £5.5 million.

A club spokesman confirmed that Corluka was at Whisky Mist in Mayfair when the waiter complimented him on his diamond-encrusted Hublot watch. He took it off to let the waiter have a better look at it and then offered to swap it for the waiter's £150 Seiko. The waiter thought he was joking.

I can't find a photo or reference to the actual model, so if anyone has knows, please let me know!


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Stephen Forsey in Sydney

Although it wasn't until 1999 that they began working on a new generation of tourbillons, Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey have a working relationship going back some two decades. Four years after they started working in earnest on their tourbillon development, they unveiled Greubel Forsey, introducing their concept of horological 'inventions' at Baselworld 2000 with the Double Tourbillon 30° (DT30).

In 2006 the Richemont Group acquired a 20% stake in Greubel Forsey’s share capital.

To date, Greubel Forsey has released the following core tourbillon-based watches: the Double Tourbillon 30° (DT30°) in 2004, the Quadruple Tourbillon à Différentiel in 2005, the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Incliné in 2006, and the Invention Pieces 1, 2, 3. Also, in 2006, they partnered with Harry Winston to create the Opus 6.

I don't think that I had ever thought that one, let alone two, independent watchmakers, would make the long journey to Australia, so I was completely surprised when I received an invitation to not only see some Greubel Forsey watches, but to meet Stephen Forsey himself.

Happily, I shared this occasion with a couple of others. I rather think that these occasions are best when shared.

First up, we got to see the Double Tourbillon Technique 30° in rose gold and silver.  The Double Tourbillon consists of an inner cage inclined by 30 degrees that does a full revolution every minute whilst the outer cage fully rotates every 4 minute. It was Greubel Forsey's first invention. At 47.5mm this is one one hefty watch size-wise, but is less heavy than one would expect because of the absence of dial, which also gives the watch an incredible depth.

In fact none of the watches could be considered to be slim of build, but that is because of the constraints set by the design and watch architecture chosen by Greubel Forsey.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hands-on with Hermes' Le Temps Suspendu

I had the pleasure, during a recent trip overseas, of getting hands-on with the Hermes 'Le Temps Suspendu', which simply means ‘time suspended’. The watch is based on the Hermes Arceau case and was a popular feature at BASEL 2011.

The watch houses a mechanism made by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, probably best known for his involvement in the engine for the MB&F timepieces Horological Machine No.2 (HM2) + Horological Machine No.3 (HM3), the Harry Winston Opus9.

So, what sort of complication is 'suspending time'? The philosophy is based on the idea that with the watch, you can simply activate the function, that is, 'suspend time'... and you will be in that moment for as long as you want. To achieve this, you simply press down on a button that is located on the left side of the watch case. And when held down, the hour and minute hands assume a “11-1” position. In the meantime, the watch is still ticking underneath...keeping precise time. And if you press the button again, the watch reverts back to telling the time... and it catches up from when it was pressed, meaning time is kept. And for as long as there's reserve power, the watch will catch up when released from suspension. Watches of this calibre are sold with a automatic watch winder too, which I thought was a great touch!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ad Lib Bistro

'Ad lib' - to improvise and deliver without preparation. Improvised, impromptu.

Ad Lib the Bistro - perhaps somewhat misnamed, but in the best possible way.

Pymble is a bit further than I normally travel for a meal, but I had wanted to go to Ad Lib, and so to Upper North Shore I must go. Situated somewhere on the unending expanse that is the Pacific Highway, it is very easy to pass without noticing.

Upon our arrival, the bread and butter were already on the table. Enjoyable, but merely a prelude to what I had been eagerly anticipating.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Zoomin Watch concept

This is about a watch that is only an idea at the moment. It's not haute horology and it has probably barely rate a blip on anyone's watch radar, but I saw it and I quite like it.

It's called the Zoomin.

The name requires a bit of work perhaps, although it does get to the point - the idea of magnifying nubs on the hands.

This watch concept by Gennady Martynov and Emre Cetinkoprulu uses a pair of small magnifiers which also form the hands of the watch to bring the current time into larger and clearer focus.

In terms of the dial design, the minutes are located on the outside circle and hours on the inside, with magnifying hands on each.

Although I am keen on the idea, and it’s also quite a sleek good looking design, the time-telling part may need a little tweaking. If you look at the concept images, it may be difficult for some people to tell the hour, and I have already found numerous comments to this effect in some discussions about the Zoomin. 

The time is 1:50 as illustrated in these images. For many of us, it is easy to read the time, but it does remind me a little about jump hour time displays and how some designs are in fact more difficult to read for many people than we realise. As this watch would probably be aimed both at a ‘fashion’ market and to those who would genuinely like/ need to have a watch that is more legible (without going digital display), the latter’s needs may possibly be better met if the inner hour circle was made just a fraction larger, so that the distance between the hours was greater and the potential for confusion lessened.

If it ever goes into production, the designers intend for it be available in a range of bold and bright colours.

Whether or not this concept becomes a reality remains to be seen, but it occurred to me that it might be the perfect sort of project to link up with Kickstarter, for whom the iPod LunaTik proved to be such a success in bringing to fruition.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hands on with the Technomarine Cruise Steel Camouflage

TechnoMarine is a well-known Geneva based brand whose focus is on casual watches and which is known for a particularly strong use of bold colours. In fact one of their selling points about the Cruise Collection is encouraging people to swap straps and cases to match their outfit.

The Cruise Steel Camouflage series is Technomarine’s crack at the eternally popular “fashion camo” look, featuring a vivid camouflage design on the dial matched by a coordinating strap and contrasted by either a black PVD coated or pink gold case. 

This blue (they call it turquoise) model is Ref.110071 and comes with a date window and  chronograph function. Its unidirectional rotating bezel is stainless steel with a blue aluminium insert. The crystal is anti-reflective sapphire.

Not unexpectedly, it is quartz powered, courtesy of a Swiss Ronda 5040D movement, and its water resistance is 20 ATM (200m).

Monday, May 16, 2011


Bread and butter. Why did I take a photo? It was there. That's about it, really. Oh yes it was good bread, the crust giving the requisite crunch, my plate a mess of crumbs, and all the rest. Right, let's move on then.

Friday set lunch menu : $35

Prix fixe - there should be more of it, really. Two of us chose this option, but in the meantime, there was the amuse bouche, an not-always-expected but pleasant surprise for lunch.

Amuse bouche : pumpkin soup

An ideal sort of an amuse bouche for a light lunch and for a soup lover. Light of taste, comforting, and boding well for the courses to come.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hublot’s new LE Manchester United King Power - Old Trafford included

The relationship between Hublot and Man United goes back to 2008, when they became the club's official timekeeper, but also manifested through the issuing of various limited edition watches featuring the club’s insignia. On Saturday 7 May 2011 Sir Alex Ferguson and Jean-Claude Biver launched the new limited edition King Power Red Devil, the latest (third) horological incarnation of the association between the two.

The attention-grabber in this watch is the use of blades of grass from Old Trafford's turf to make the watch indexes. The grass was picked by the club's grounds keepers then stabilised and preserved by Hublot. The blades of grass were then freeze-dried and inserted into the indexes, where they were coated with a special transparent lacquer to secure them permanently.

The new King Power is equipped with a chronograph movement via two centre hands. The first indicates the seconds and the other hand, specially developed for football, indicates the time elapsed out of the 45 mins in each half. The movement is the HUB4245 skeletonised automatic chronograph.

Size : 48mm
Case : Limited edition of 400 (micro blasted black matte ceramic); limited edition of 250 (18k “King Gold”, a new type of gold alloy)
Pushers : chronograph pushers have a “security bar”
Crystal : sapphire
Movement : Hublot HUB 4245 automatic chronograph
Dial : includes Man Utd “Red Devil” logo, indexes containing grass from Old Trafford
Strap : black rubber with red highlight

Each watch will come with by a certificate guaranteeing its authenticity, signed by Sir Alex Ferguson. As a child I actually followed Man Utd for a few years, but reading about this watch also made me think about Wimbledon’s famed turf (of which yes, I did pinch a few blades of grass from Centre Court many moons ago), Twickenham, Lords, and how important “hallowed sporting ground” can be to many sporting fans. 

Will the use of grass from Old Trafford in the watch mean desirability? To my mind, even when disregarding the turf, the black matte version is much more attractive generally than the previous Red Devil models, largely because of the skeletonisation, but yes, I can see the novelty of the indexes appealing to some diehard fans who also happen to be watch folk.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Blancpain 50 Fathoms Concept 2000

ChrisL was due for a new watch.

In the toss up between two very different watches and brands, an unbelievable deal proved too good to resist and so off it was to J.Farren-Price to pick up his new wrist toy.

The removal of one and a half links later, Chris' new "whoosy" was locked onto his wrist.


Reference : 2200-6530-66
Model : Fifty Fathoms Men's Stainless Steel and Rubber Diver's watch
Features : Time, date window between 4 and 5 o'clock, red tipped seconds hand
Dial : Black. Hands and indices with luminous material

Case and Bracelet : Stainless Steel and Rubber
Case Size : 40.5mm, thickness 13mm
Movement : Blancpain Caliber 115
Jewels : 29
Frequency : 21,600
Power Reserve : 100hrs

This is a surprisingly lightweight sports watch that sits comfortably on the wrist. At 40.5mm, it is not too large and quite nicely sized, by contemporary standards. It also sits quite discreetly on the wrist.

Other models that were released at the same time were the 50 Fathoms GMT 24 Two Time Zones and the Air Command Chronograph. Perhaps ChrisL will collect all three?

Congratulations ChrisL on the latest member of your Blancpain family.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine

Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine
Shop C/D
6/F Lee Theatre Plaza
99 Percival St
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong
Ph : +852 28901993

I had an unexpected yearning for Thai food one night, and somehow ended up at Sweet Basil Thai. Proximity to my hotel and slightly frustrated attempts at finding a good Thai restaurant in the area (namely through Open Rice) were major contributors to this.

Situated on one of the restaurant oriented floors of the Lee Theatre Plaza, Sweet Basil is not only quite large but has the appearance of having exploded beyond its original premises into the surrounding public space. I was curious about this, as surely it indicated that they must be popular?  As it turned out the 'outside' tables, of which there were easily two dozen in number, were mostly empty that evening. The interior could not be seen from where I was sitting, so I'm not sure how much business they did that night.

Mini combination platter (HKD88)

Sheer lack of imagination combined with the novelty value of ordering a "combination" anything was the reasoning behind this choice. If this is the "mini" version, the mind boggles at the larger one, as  despite appearances in this photo, this was actually a reasonably sized starter. Each of the components were quite filling.

Spring roll

These robustly sized spring rolls contained a good mix of some half a dozen types of meat and vegetables. Although not the best spring roll I ate during this trip (that was the one at Sportful Garden), these were hot, crunchy, and pleasant enough.

Stuffed chicken in lotus leaf

Deboned chicken simply stuffed with what appeared to be cabbage, wrapped in skin and cooked in lotus leaf. This may sound odd, but I found this too substantial for me to eat comfortably. It wasn't about the taste, which was really niether here nor there, but all that white chicken meat just seemed to sit heavily on my stomach by the time I made it half way through the parcel. It was at that point that I realised that too much food had been ordered.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Diving Chronograph GMT Navy Seals

I recently had a chance to test drive the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Diving Chronograph GMT Navy Seals (yes that full name is quite a mouthful) for a day and this is by no means a small watch. I'm glad that it's made of titanium as after a day you really do feel its heft. I shudder to think how my arm would feel had it been made of steel. I'm sure it would be a very good muscle building exercise. 

There is no doubt that this is a big watch. You know how some watches might seem big on paper but wear smaller? With this one, what you see is what you get. Really. You feel every millimeter and it does sit quite high, I can see why this particular watch in the Navy Seals range has people divided in their opinions. It is definitely a watch you will not get away with wearing it with a suit. There is no way it'll fit under the shirt cuff. However, it goes great with jeans.

Now having only worn it for a day I can't comment on the time keeping aspect of the watch but I'm sure it's fine. It is very discreet in its branding and from a distance it could be any dives watch. Only those in the know will be able to recognize its telltale compression crown and pushers. 

I suppose one thing, if anything that Navy Seals need is for a watch to be able to tell the time, and sure enough the time is certainly highly legible, thanks to the great contrast between black and white. However, if you want a dial that's cleaner and less crowded you can do much worse than having a look at the dive alarm, or even the dive auto, which differs from its brethrens by being made of stainless steel. (This is also the one that Paul Walker wore in the movie Fast 5)

The articulated rubber bracelet I'm a big fan of. It's comfortable, and subdued. The only thing I wish they'd coated in rubber was the clasp. It is highly scratch prone, and as a desk diver, I find that the clasp begins to look very second hand quite quickly.

For someone who actually likes big watches, I hate to say that this watch is perhaps a little too big for my wrist. I mean, I do manage to pull off some 50mm monstrosities, but this one, even at a mere 46 point something, I felt it was too big. I think that the 44mm alarm is the pick of the bunch, and the various fora would seem to agree with this assessment. 

Affectionally referred to as the NSA, it has become a sort of a strap darling, much like Panerais where people have a strap collection to match the watch. And, just like a Panerai, the watch can pull off the different looks that various straps give it. I think the watch looks best with a good solid thick strap that you perhaps bought for the Panerai. Hey, they are both dive watches, built for the Navy!


[Disclosure : [o] is an employee of JLC. All views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the views of JLC]

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Katong Laksa

Katong Laksa
G/F, 8 Mercer St.
Sheung Wan
Hong Kong
Ph : +852 25434088

Another branch at :
Shop D1
G/F, Kam Sing Mansion
155 Jaffe Rd
Ph : +852 3168 2478

Sunday lunchtime in the depths of Sheung Wan. A quiet time, and in the corner of Sheung Wan in which I found myself on this day, a surprisingly few number of places open at lunch time. I was in the area to meet up with my father, and the search for lunch ended taking up 15 minutes of walking around with very little in sight apart from two rather dubious looking places, a shop selling live snakes for the grocery shopping crowd, and two Malaysian restaurants.

And so it was that I found myself at Katong. It was there, it was open, and the exterior was bedecked with copies of reviews assuring passers-by of its place amongst the top Malaysian eateries in Hong Kong.

Katong is a small place with an open kitchen (there was only one chef cooking on  the day of my visit) and it also does deliveries and takeaways. The menu consists of 29 main items, four "afternoon tea sets" that are popular amongst old style Hong Kong "Westernised" cafes (Cha Chaan Teng) in particular, plus various non-alcoholic drink options.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hidetaka Fukaya and Gaziano & Girling - the next chapter

One of the biggest challenges of geting a bespoke garment or a pair of shoes is the time it takes for the completed product to arrive. It typically takes a shoemaker or a team of shoemakers between 50 to 60 hours to make a pair of hand welted shoes. However, fittings are required and this is best facilitated by easy access to the shoemaker, otherwise the process is slowed down to a snail's pace and dependent upon the shoemaker or your own travel schedules.

For better for or worst, I have reached the point in my bespoke shoe adventures where I have cultivated a pipeline, where one delivery can preoccupy me sufficiently between fittings and delivery. It has been six months or so since taking delivery of my first pair of bespoke shoes from Hidetaka Fukaya.

(Excuse the pants as they were new and a little too long. Rest assured that they have been fixed).

Hot on the heels (no pun intended) of the Hidetaka Fukaya was my order from Gaziano & Girling (or 'G&G' for short) and after a 12 month plus wait, one measurement and two fittings (one in Tokyo and another in Hong Kong) they have finally arrived.

A technically challenging and very rare seamless and stitchless (well only one visible stitch at the throat, slightly hidden) buffalo wholecuts.

Tony Gaziano applying the finishing touches.

So now that this pair has arrived, what else is in the pipeline?

A full brogue from Hidetaka Fukaya, with a second fitting thrown in to further perfect my pattern.

My first experience with a shoemaker who makes a trial shoe and subsequently rips it a part to better understand fit. For those in the know, you will be quick to recognise that this is a widely used technique by the French.

Stay tuned for more updates in the near or far future.