Thursday, January 31, 2013

Top Gear Season 19 Episode 1: Wrist Watch

The long awaited season 19 of Top Gear is finally back on TV and the question on everyone's lips is (well, my lips at least) - Is Jeremy Clarkson still wearing his Omega Planet Ocean? Well, I'm happy to report that Clarkson FINALLY got himself a new watch! It seems like he now prefers to wear one watch and completely wear it out (in all the possible usage of the term 'wear') then goes off and buys a new one to do the same to. At least I think that's what his plan is. If wearing the watch out IS the plan then he has chosen wisely. His new watch will not age much (provided he doesn't drop it or wack it against something hard) and all he needs to do is change the strap every so often.

So... what IS his new watch?

Looks like the IWC Top Gun chrono in ceramic case. The Top Gun was part of IWC's 2012 SIHH release (see our post here) and I cannot fault his choice at all. IWC was the pioneer in ceramic watches (see post here) and it is only fitting they continue to produce watches with ceramic cases. The good thing about it is that the ceramic case will always look new. It is highly scratch resistant and hypo-allergenic. It's also very suited to this type of watches as it gives is a very stealthy look. If you don't like shiny watches this is for you!

Now here is where it gets tricky.

There are two different versions of the ceramic chrono. The ref: IW3789, is powered by valjoux/ETA 7750 and the one that Clarkson has, I believe is ref 3880 which houses the IWC manufactured 89365 calibre, which is a flyback chrono with 68 hour power reserve. Easiest way to tell them apart is that the Valjoux 7750 version has the running seconds at 9:00 position, and has both day and date displays.

Now don't be fooled by how the watch wears on Clarkson's wrist. Keep in mind that he IS a big guy, so any big watch will look normal on him. The IWC he's wearing measures 46mm in diametre and 16mm high. This is a big watch. I'd love to see how the 60mm Panerai Egiziano wears on his wrist.

I'll just gloss over what Hammond and May are wearing. James May has on his Omega Dynamic from the 70s in the studio shots (we covered the watch here) and can't quite make out what Hammond was wearing in the studio, but in the story piece he had the Breitling Navitimer on (covered here)

The other watch of note is the gold Rolex on one of the 'Dragons' of Dragon's Den. Ahhh.. I remember we used to have this show. It got axed quick smart. Maybe the dragons weren't as likeable. Or maybe we were lacking decent entrepeneurs. Looks like it's worked for the UK audience. The guy that tried out Clarkson's small car had a solid gold Rolex Yachtmaster II on.

The beauty of the Yachtmaster is in the eye of its beholder. It's a very bling watch, perfect for a 'dragon'. Aha. ha. I wonder if he ever uses the yacht part of his watch? The Yachtmaster features a prgrammable regatta countdown with mechanical memory for those of you into yachting.

That's kinda it for episode one. Hopefully in future episodes we'll have clearer shots of their wrists!

SIHH 2013 - Ralph Lauren's Portentous Tourbillon

This is a bit of a surprise. No, not that Ralph Lauren has released a tourbillon. No. Anyone who's everyone are releasing tourbillon watches. This once-coveted high-end watchmaking is now being produced a dime a dozen.

Yes you read right.

What's the easiest way for a new brand to 'cement' themselves on the high watchmaking scene (and thus setting a higher price point)? Do a tourbillon.

No. The surprise is that no Richemont brands were involved in the making of this tourbillon. (Previous releases all state with crystal clear transparency whose movements were used, be it IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre or Piaget) No. It is supplied by La Fabrique du Temps, a company that specialises in high complications. IE, high comp for hire, if you will. Well, in this case, for sale. I'm surprised given the close relationship and shareholding of Richemont and Ralph Lauren's watch and jewellery department, that no one was appointed to supply the movement. Hmmm... portentous twist, perhaps? Or am I reading too much into the use of Sellita movements for their entry level Sporting watch?

Do you want to know what else made me read just a little too much into this info? Assuming that my sources are correct, (in terms of La Fabrique du Temps supplied the tourbillon movement, cuz it certain don't look like ANY of the Richemont brands')  La Fabrique du Temps was acquired by Louis Vuitton in July 2011. Why buy movements from your direct competitor (LVMH) when you have plenty of capabilities within the group?

Other than that, am I the only one who thinks that the watch seems a bit too... rough around the edges? The movement looks unfinished. The dial looks like it was "cut" in "haste" to show off the tourbillon. The micro-rotor is a nice touch though. Let's hope that it's due to bad photography of a badly made prototype and when the real deal is realised it'll look a lot more finished. But then again for a paltry $55k (taking the brand image into consideration) suppose one cannot ask for too much?

Images from

Friday, January 25, 2013

SIHH 2013 - Panerai PAM 510 - In-house 8 Days 44mm Luminor Case!

Remember how I mentioned that brands were holding things back at SIHH? So they could possibly release these during/before Baselworld for thunder-stealing? some eagle eyed peeps on the forums discovered this gem!

This is what we all wanted/needed from Panerai! In-house, 8 days, manual wind in a 44mm Luminor case. Looks to me the perfect replacement for the current ETA-powered PAM 111

Rumoured pricing is around 5900 Euro, which, when you think about, isn't actually too bad. Compared to the price of IWC's Portofino 8 day in-house manual wind, it's a bargain! (And have a look at the retail price of the PAM 111 for comparison)

Let's hope this pricing is accurate. Because if it is, start saving now!!!

There is also PAM 511, gold version, and PAM 523 with a white dial.

I'm sure this is just the beginning as Panerai possibly start to phase out all the ETA-based models.

(images from Paneristi France)

SIHH 2013 - TREND: World Timer

I guess you could say there are two types of watches that has the multi-timezone feature. One is where there is a second dial/hand or a 24 hour hand to indicate another particular timezone. So you always have the time in two countries, but two countries only. This would be useful if you travel a lot and need to keep an eye on your "home" time. The other would be for those who may stay at "home" but needs to deal with various people from different parts of the world. This is where the world timer watches come in handy, as you can set the watch up so you can find out either at a glance or a quick turn of the crown (or push a button or something) the time in any given country.

At SIHH 2013 we can see there are quite a few different brands all offering their interpretation on the worldtimer feature. Now the thing with mechanical watches is that it is extremely difficult to meaure time in cities where their timezones are different to other cities in increments of 30min. (say, Adelaide or Mumbai) Up till quite recently, if you lived in these cities well... your best bet is a Casio G-Shock. If I recall correctly both Vacheron and Blancpain (?) managed to overcome that issue recently, but in 2013, JLC brings you a watch where you can set the time accurate to the minute! How's that in advancement in ye-olde-world technology?

IWC jumped the gun on their Richemont sister brands last year with the pilots Worldtimer. Let's see what we have from this year. Again, all the different price points are covered so if you're after a worldtimer, here are your SIHH 2013 choices.

(in alphabetical order)

Baume & Mercier Capeland Worldtimer - I've tried to find a decent pic but the only one I can find on the internet is a pic tweeted by @classiccreation and retweeted by @baumeetmercier. I have a feeling it's not meant to be seen 'officially' yet? Or did I just not look hard enough? This is a classic worldtimer, reminds me of the Longines version...

Cartier Tortue Multifuseaux - Ok, so Cartier also released a world timer last year in the Calibre de Cartier case. This year, in case you don't like round watches, you can have one in the Tortue case.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Unique Travel Time - You can set the second time to the nearest minute. But you'll need to know your GMTs, otherwise there's a chart on the case back outlining which city is at which timezone.

Montblanc TimeWalker Worldtime Hemispheres - it's also a bit of a trend to feature the 'world' on the worldtimer isn't it? Montblanc looked after everyone with 2 versions - northern and southern hemispheres. Wonder which one will sell more?

Ralph Lauren Sporting World Time - If the layout of the dial looks familiar to you, it should. This RL watch runs the JLC Geographic movement (which is also used minus the 'cities' disc in Vacheron's Overseas Dual time watch and AP's Royal Oak/Jules Audemars Dual time watches and a few others)

Richard Mille RO058 Tourbillon Jean Todt Worldtimer - If anyone needs a world timer watch Jean Todt would be it. President of the FIA he's bound to talk to people in various timezones. Most likely all at the same time too...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

SIHH 2013 - IWC Year Of The Ingenieur

As a fan of the Inge I'm very happy to see that overall IWC has done a very good job in launching the updated Ingenieur collection. However, what I really don't like is that they are blurring and messing up their collection/status structure. Hear me out.

About 10 years ago, IWC clearly defined their collection status and what each collection stands for. (They also made the decision to NOT do ladies watches but that's another story altogether) The Portuguese would be the high-end line with high complications and what not, the Portofino would be the entry level dress watch, the pilots range the entry to mid level 'sports' watch, Aqua Timer is obviously the divers watch, and the Ingenieur is the 'engineer' watch, you know, tough, anti-magnetic, all-round tool watch. IWC's Rolex, if you will. The Da Vinci (I really don't know where they fit in) perhaps IWC's non-round watch collection. Why not? The Vintage Collection I guess does have a place in the range and overall seem to have been quite well received. I just felt they were all a little too 'thick', but that's personal opinion.

Ingenieur Constant Force Tourbillon
So each collection has a clearly defined role in the brand. But no longer. Now, you have entry level Ingenieur with an ETA movement, all the way up to a constant force tourbillon. Complete with ceramic cases and carbon fibre cases somewhere in between. I mean, sure, I can see where ceramic and carbon fibre fits into the "engineer" category, but the fact that more than half the collection is not really "anti-magnetic" is a bit annoying. I'm not that much of a purist in this case, but the history of the Ingenieur line lies in their anti-magnetic-ness.

Ok, digression and rant aside, let's have a look at the pick of the Ingenieur line from SIHH 2013

There seem to be a new form of rubber strap - essentially a rubber strap with a leather in-lay...I'm really hoping that the stitching/glue will hold up over time on this...if it does then it's almost the best of both worlds. You get the leather look on the outside, and the durability of the rubber on the inside. Or something like that.

Now, the watches. I have to say I'm really taken with the chronographs. Either the slate grey dial racer or the Silberpfeil (silver arrow) with circular graining dial. The price point, on the other hand, is a little harder to swallow, but given it's an in-house chrono and the unique layout... I guess it's reasonable... ($13,100*)

The 40mm is a gem. It's a back-to-basic model and a true Ingenieur. Some people will complain that 40mm is too small, but the proportion is right and it wasn't that long ago when 38mm was considered the men's size... I just wish they'd stuck something other than an ETA2892 in it. Nothing wrong with that movement. It's a tried and tested workhorse, and I'm sure it's made to IWC's specifications, meaning it'll most like do something like +/-1 seconds a day, but C'mon IWC, how's about an in-house, smallish movement to fit in to watches like these? I mean, Panerai managed... Cuz they're certainly not built "down" to a price point. Not at $6500*

Last but not least, the AMG Black Series. The ceramic is a nice touch. It gives the watch a very stealthy and at the same time technical look. And it's going to look pristine after decades of abuse. Just... don't drop it. ($13,300*)

*Prices I believe are in USD. If you're in Australia, add 10-20% on top for "Australian Tax" and no. I'm not referring to the GST.

Below is the full list of pricing for the SIHH 2013 Ingenieur collection:

Constant-Force Tourbillon ref. 5900: $290,000

Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month ref. 3792: $49,700

Carbon Performance ref. 3224: $26,400

AMG Black Series Ceramic ref. 3225: $13,300

Racing Chronograph ref. 3785: $13,100-$14,300

Racing Chronograph "Silberpfeil" ref. 3785: $13,100

Double Chronograph Titanium ref. $3865: $12,700

Dual-Time Titanium ref. 3664: $8,800

Automatic 40mm ref. 3239: $6,500

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

SIHH 2013 - TREND: Triple Date Moonphase

I have a feeling that all the brands from SIHH/GTE are holding something back to around late April, you know, just to steal some thunder from the brands that show their new ware at Baselworld. But having seen the releases so far (through the wonderful medium of the interwebs) it seems there is a bit of a trend going on...

The most obvious one that caught my attention was the amount of new "triple date moonphase" watches launched this year. Granted. one of these is an annual calendar (ie only need to change the date in feb) and one has a tourbillon hidden from front view, but nevertheless they all have day-date-month-moonphase on top of time display. Three of the brands have a more traditional dial layout, one has a modern fresh taken on the traditional layout. Three automatics, two manuals.

Personally I find the moonphase one of the most useless complications to have, (I don't follow the lunar calendar, nor am I a werewolf or a witch...) however, I love it as it prettys up the dial. It gives and otherwise boring and monotone the dial that extra pop of colour.

So if moonphase is your thing and you need to know the day-date-month at a quick glance, (no we don't resort to looking at our smarty phones for that. No way.) here are your choices from SIHH/GTE 2013: (all price points and materials covered too!)

(In alphabetical order)

A.Lange & Sohne Saxonia Annual Calendar

Baume & Mercier Clifton 1830 Complete Calendar Moonphase

De Bethune DB16 Tourbillon

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Calendar

Montblanc Star Quantieme Complet

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

SIHH 2013 - Panerai Radiomir 1940

Is it just me or are Panerais really getting  a bit same old same old these days?

Granted there really isn't much else they could do unless they decide to completely stray away from the classic Panerai looks… I suppose they are holding back the Egiziano cases and the Mare Nostrum cases so far and only using them for very limited models. Perhaps they'll start to expand into these 2 cases once they've exhausted their “fourth” case after Luminor, Radiomir and ‘fiddy’ (although some might lump the fiddy case with the Luminor since... well... they ARE very similar.)

Regardless I'm still a big fan, but maybe with a more refined taste in what I like from their collection.

PAM 514

This fourth case that I speak of is the Radiomir 1940. It’s like the transitional case between the complete cushion case and wired lugs of the Radiomir and the chunky, squarer case with the crown bridge of the Luminor. In a way, to me anyway, it’s the best of both worlds. Yes I know some people say that a Panerai is not a Panerai without the crown bridge, but there are plenty other distinctive features that sets the Panerai apart from everyone else.

PAM 512

This year at SIHH 2013 Panerai released a few more models utilising the Radiomir 1940 case, in 2 sizes, 42mm and 47mm. (I guess these 2 sizes are their ‘new’ 40mm and 44mm) I'm really liking these models and personally would definitely go for the 47mm (the cushion case wears small) so the 47mm will feel more like a 45mm on the wrist. Both models come with Panerai’s inhouse manual wind movement


PAM512 Radiomir 1940 - 42mm

Movement: Hand-wound mechanical, Panerai P.999/1  calibre, 21,600 beats per hour
Power reserve 60 hours. 144 components.

Back: See-through sapphire crystal.

Dial: Black  with  luminous Arabic  numerals and hour markers. Seconds at 9 o’clock.

Crystal: Sapphire 1.6 mm thick. Anti-reflective coating.

PAM514 Radiomir 1940 3 Days – 47mm

Movement: Hand-wound mechanical, Panerai P.3000  calibre, 21,600 beats per hour.   Power reserve 3  days,  two barrels. 162 components.

Functions:   Hours, minutes, small   seconds, date.

Back: See-through sapphire crystal.

Dial: Black  with  luminous Arabic  numerals and hour  markers. Date  at 3 o’clock, seconds at 9 o’clock.

Crystal: Sapphire 1.8 mm thick. Anti-reflective coating.

SIHH 2013 - Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Calendar

JLC seemingly can do no wrong in recent years, bring out one winner after another. For me personally, it’s great to see JLC returning to the classic designs for their Master range (although some might say boring) after their period of… let’s just say… “adventurous” designs of the early to mid 2000s. This period does have its fans no doubt as people warmed to the unsymmetrical yet balanced designs of the Master Hometime, the Master 8 Days and the World Geographic to name but a few. It was almost as if JLC wanted to do wacky layouts just because they can.
SIHH 2013- New Master Calendar

However, timeless designs are exactly that- timeless. Wacky layouts might be in vogue for a few years, but classic, timeless layout will remain in style over numerous fashion ‘cycles’.  This brings me to the new Master Calendar.

The previous iteration was extremely well received and for me it was one of the most successful ‘wacky’ dials. How successful? They kept it on range from 2005 till now. And according to a couple of my favourite ADs they still sell like hot cakes. That’s an 8-year model run. The only thing that was slightly off-putting was the placement of the logo and brand. To me, the brand should always be front and centre, and to relegate it to a weird, 8:30 position is just not on. (this is my marketing 101 talking) To be honest I do see a spot at 12:00 for the logo and brand, even if it’ll be a bit squished. I think that would still be better than the offset position. But if this previous version sold faster than One Direction dolls to teenage girls, then the new one will be out the door in much less than 60 seconds.

Master Calendar (Just superseded)
The new Master Calendar, at first glance, will remind you of the Master “Moon” from the mid 90s and a lot of the “triple-date moonphase) watches from eras past. It is a very classic layout- with day and month up top, moonphase and seconds at 6:00 and date around the edge of the dial. The dial is extremely balanced, the case size shrank back to a dressier and manageable 39mm, (but bigger than the 37mm of the Master "Moon") and at a height of only 10.6mm, also extremely wearable. It’ll fit under the cuff no probs. They’ve attached a new calibre number to this watch, but to me it looks like the same movement as the previous Calendar with repositioned day-month window and minus the power reserve indication.
Master Moon from a while back
Classic design and classic proportions makes it an instant classic (especially in the sultry rose gold) and if the whispers of the price point I hear are true, the queue outside your favourite AD for this piece could just match the one for Air Jordan XI Retros.

Monday, January 21, 2013

SIHH 2013 - Jaeger-LeCoultre 180th Anniversary Jubilee Ultra Thin

As JLC celebrates their 180th birthday this year (2013), fans of the brand were eagerly anticipating something special from this manufacture, one of the very few brands that makes almost everything inhouse. (straps, some crystals and dials I believe are outsourced)

And so their “Jubilee” collection certainly did not disappoint. Out of the 3 watches in the set, the least expensive however, is what impressed me the most. Granted, the other two are high complication stuff, but these days everyone who’s anyone are churning out amazing out-of-this-world stuff. Still very impressive, but nothing as difficult as getting something simple and elegant just right.

The new Ultra Thin in the collection is simply breathtaking. Elegantly proportioned, it is magnificent in its simplicity. All that you need and nothing you don’t. Well, maybe a date, but then again I’ve never been big on dates anyways. At a diameter of 39mm, some may argue it’s still too big for a dress watch. Erm, welcome to the 21st century, where 47mm is no longer considered “big”. 

The fact that they’ve managed to make something so thin without resorting to producing a new thinner movement (it runs the current ultra thin manual wind movement calibre 849 clocking in at 1.85mm “thick”, just a tad thicker than Vacheron’s at 1.55mm “thick”) is nothing short of a miracle. Considering the total height of the watch is 4.05mm, (0.05 less than that of Vacheron’s to snag the title of the thinnest mechanical watch currently in production – or something like that) this leaves just a meagre 2.2mm to fit in a case, a crystal, dial and hands! You’d almost be forgiven to think that given JLC’s prowess in watchmaking, it might have been easier just to make a thinner movement! 

Using a proven movement does have its perks, since all the bugs would’ve been ironed out and no doubt all the JLC watchmakers will have been trained on the movement, so even on the rare occasion that it dies, you won’t have issues getting it fixed. Being so thin it’s a good thing that the watch is cased in ‘extra white’ platinum case. At least you’ll feel it on your wrist… Just. Limited to 880 pieces you’d better get in quick if you want bragging rights to having one of the thinnest and most elegant watches around. 


Manual wound movement Calibre 849
35 hour power reserve
21,600 beats per hour
1.85mm thick
19 jewels


39mm extra white platinum case
4.05mm thick
Water resistant to 50m

Limited to 880 pieces

GTE 2013 - Pagés of La-Chaux-de-Fonds "Tortoise"

Pagés of La-Chaux-de-Fonds

Before we start our coverage of SIHH2013, GTE has already begun, and although this is not really a watch (you can't tell the time with it) the basic idea is the same ie, the thing runs on a similar priciple to a watch movement.

Just have a look at this tortoise! How can you not love it!! Granted, it might be a very expensive "toy" for your kids, but it is so stunning and you can see the movement at work. This is a piece unique and there will be a series of piece unique featuring the tortoise.

Love the fact that you can flip the 'lid' ie, shell, to see the workings of the movement. Or, of course, you can flip the tortoise onto its back and see it through the 'case back' but remember to flip him back- as you know, once a tortoise is on its back, they can't flip themselves over. Just like Bender*

*A futurama ref for those scratching their heads...