Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dubey & Schaldenbrand Unveils Grand the Shar DBT Ti Tourbillon

Dubey & Schaldenbrand (founded 1946) unveils a surprisingly dark case to house its latest tourbillon movement. The darkness of case is due to titanium grade 5 treated with an  electroplasma oxidation process.  This process further increases the hardness and resilience of the case.  The rich blackness is accentuated by electric blue screws and hands.
This is the first time Dubey & Schaldenbrand has housed a tourbillon in a case treated with this patented oxidation process.  Although this process is used in the sophisticated medical and aerospace industries, Dubey & Schaldenbrand has improved the process to enhance the quality of its timepieces.

  Bold roman numerals emblazon the upper half of the dial in contrasting white. Skeleton DS hands are coated with SuperLuminova, which ensures time display in dim conditions.
  The case shape is by far one of my favorites.  The shape resembles that of a large wooden cable reel,  The likes one would see on an electrical truck baring bright yellow cables.  The vision of this comparison makes the perception of the watch all the more powerful. The dial is protected by an attractive convex spherical scratch resistance sapphire crystal treated on either side with an anti-reflective coating.  For optimal viewing of the tourbillon base 8001 movement, transparent sapphire crystal is affixed to the case back as well.

  The watch is equipped with a shock protection Incabloc.  A trade name for a spring-loaded mounting system for the jewel bearings which support the balance wheel.  This system protects the wheel's pivots from harm if the watch is subjected to sudden sharp movements.

The watch is capable of a 100 hour power reserve and is water resistant to 50 meters. A black alligator strap is affixed to the watch case by really cool lugs and is secured around the wrist by a titanium grade 5 buckle treated with the electroplasma oxidation process.

Yes! Powerful yet elegant.  An excellent combination - sought after, but often unattained.

The cost of the watch: $127,500.

Bovet Timekeeping Elegance from Wrist to Tabletop to Fob (Fashion Permitting)

It is one thing having an elegant timepiece strapped to ones wrist.  Quite another set upon a table for all to see.  Bovet has provided for both in an exquisite display of timekeeping versatility.  This attractive and highly sociable concept is "the Amadeo Concept" as described by Bovet. This case concept allows for transformation from wristwatch to table top clock to pocket watch without the need for tools.  The particular timepieces depicted above are Bovet's  new line of watches in commemoration of the 190th anniversary of the company. The Amadeo Fleurer Rising Star is a fine addition to the Bovet Grand Complication Collection.
Although the timepiece exudes extravagant elegance in its entirety, it is the wondrous componential designs  interacting in aesthetics and function. The movement is entirely in-house - crafted by Bovet's manufacture Dimier 1738, Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie Artisanale.
  • The star of the show is the tourbillon.  Invented by Abraham Louis Breguet in 1795 for use in a pocket watch., this watch mechanism (the tourbillon is not strictly defined as a complication) is a revolving cage in which the balance wheel and escapement is placed.  It function: to counteract the effects of gravity on the watches movement - click here for an in depth tourbillon discussion.  The 13.50 mm diameter tourbillon of the Amadeo Fleurer Rising Star is crafted in such a manner as to appear floating in mid air without support. 
  • Above the arresting tourbillon, two three quarter plates incorporate additional complications.
  •  A main guilloché dial in rippling royal blue is the backdrop to an elegant ,almost whimsical, display of time. Two sub-dials , one at the 3'o' clock position and another at the 9 'o'clock position display additional time zones each baring an entirely separate day/night indicators. Clearly labelled above each sub dial is the name of the corresponding city, of which there are 24 choices.
  • A 7 day power reserve indicator is situated at the 12 'o'clock.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Neil Armstrong and his Omega Speedmaster

The world grieves the death of astronaut and legend Neil Armstrong who died this past Saturday at 2:45pm at the age of 82 from complications due to heart surgery.
Neil Armstrong will be known for generations to come as the first man on the moon.
 On July 20th 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped out of his Apollo 11 lunar module "Eagle" and onto the rocky surface of the moon uttering the iconic phrase 
 "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind ."
The timekeeper for the Apollo 11 mission was the Omega Speedmaster professional. The only watch approved by NASA for EVH or extra-vehicular activities. The watch was suitable for use outside a spacecraft. Both Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were given an Omega Speedmaster for this mission.
Neil Armstrong left his Omega Speedmaster in the lunar capsule, while Buzz Aldren wore his on the moon.  Buzz Aldrin wrote about his Omega Speedmaster in his 1973 book, "Return to Earth"
"It was optional to wear while we were walking on the surface of the moon ... few things are less necessary when walking around on the moon than knowing what time it is in Houston, Texas. Nonetheless, being a watch guy, I decided to strap the Speedmaster onto my right wrist around the outside of my bulky spacesuit."

2005 Omega Speedmaster Professional - Gemini 4- First Space Walk-40th Anniversary

  We know the reason why Buzz Aldrin wore his Speedmaster on the moon. Unfortunately that particular watch disappeared in the early 1970's on its way to the Smithsonian Institution.

What is the reason Neil Armstrong left his Speedmaster in the lunar capsule?

After all, the Speedmaster was equipped to handle the unearthly atmosphere.  

Buzz Aldrin and his Speedmaster on his Apollo 11 mission
In fact, NASA had actually chosen the Swiss-made timekeeper for all its astronauts four years prior to this momentous date.
NASA did not simply pick Omega out of a hat, the Speedmaster and its rivals were subjected to rigorous testing. The watches simmered for hours at 93 degrees then were immediately frozen at - 18 degrees. The watches were steeped in pure Oxygen for two days, struck with tremendous blows, compressed then decompressed, vibrated, subjected to incredible speeds and numerous other experiments. The only watch to emerge virtually unscathed within the allowed deviations of 5 seconds per day was the Speedmaster.
Till today, the Speedmaster is the preferred choice for astronauts. The Russians too came to favor the Omega Speedmaster when they discovered the Watch in 1975 during the Apollo-Soyuz link-up.
Speedmaster professional Moonwatch Apollo 11 40th Anniversary -2009 LE
As a watch leaves the confines of earths atmosphere, it is subjected to elements never experienced on earth. The atmospheric pressure within a watch might explode as the watch experiences zero-gravity. Omega with its ingenuity has affixed a clamp ring to the glass of the Speedmaster, enabling the watch to withstand five times the amount of pressure the watch will experience in space. The internal pressure of the watch has to remain constant in order to prevent the lubricating oil ,which adheres to the moving parts of the watch, to leak, obscuring the glass and preventing the watch mechanisms from working properly. Alternatively, a vacuum inside the watch may cause the watch to run to quickly as it would prevent the balance wheel from effectively working.
Omega Speedmaster's glass is sufficiently thick and elastic to withstand the great temperature differences that occur while exiting the earths atmosphere and traveling through space.

 In addition the Watch needs to be extremely accurate as the depletion of an Astronauts Oxygen Supply occurs in minutes and seconds rather than in volume. Other Luxury Watch Companies have tried and tried again to vanquish the Omega Speedmaster, and capture the NASA contract; however, the Speedmaster has always defeated the rivals, and till today, still remains the Watch in Space.

Prior to the Speedmaster's trip to the moon, the watches were used in other space missions.  Gus Grissom and John Young wore their Speed masters on Gemini 3 on March 23rd, 1965. Ed White wore his Speedmaster 105.003 secured with velcro and a long nylon strap to the outside of the left-side sleeve of his G4C spacesuit during the first American Space Walk.

Neil Armstrong did not leave his Speedmaster in the lunar capsule as a result of the watches ineptitude, but rather as a result of its extreme integrity in harsh conditions. You see, the module's electronic counter had failed, and Armstrong left the Watch on board as a back-up.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

MB & F Moon Machine Watch with Stepan Sarpaneva

One thing I love about MB & F horological machines is its fluid capacity to incorporate other watch companies and artists into its Horological Machines without effecting the signature mark of its maker.   In the name of his company, "Maximilian Büsser and Friends, Maximilian Büsser stresses the importance of joint collaboration in creating masterpieces. Joint collaboration that harnesses the best of best to make a product of perfection.

On MB & F Friends List
Maximilian Büsser and Stepan Sarpaneva

MB & F and Boucheron
In the past,   MB & F has collaborated with  Boucheron  to create an horological machine encrusted in  bright colored gems.   For the Only Watch Auction of 2011,  Maximilian Büsser worked in collaboration with Paris-based Chinese artist, Huang Hankang, who painted the Panda astride the Thunderbolt, to serve as the reference for the HM4 Only Watch. The  HM2.2 "Black Box"  had the bright signature shapes of Alain Silberstein. In 2009, the horological world was abuzz with the MB & F HM No.1 which heralded great watchmaking and designing  minds like Peter Speake-Marin, Eric Giroud and Laurent Besse.

MB & F Adds a Friend 

One striking collaboration produced the MB & F Moon Machine Watch.  The moon face is the  creation of Finland based watchmaker, Stepan Sarpaneva,who has contributed to Parmigiani, Piaget and Christophe Claret. His distinct Korona Moonshine face lends a creepy knowing look to his representation of the moon. Upon meeting Maximilian Büsser, Stepan Sarpaneva suggested a moon phase for the great MB & F horological machines. Maximilian Büsser loved the idea and a collaboration was born. The MB & F movement design is founded on the 3D mechanism created by Jean-Marc Viderreht/Agenhor. Stepan Sarpaneva's touch upon the Moon Machine Watch is threefold 1) The "Moon Face" 2) Northern Star theme 3) Sarpaneva's signature "tooth faced" Korona".

The HM3 in the Light of the Moon

Sarpaneva Korona Moonshine Watch
On the MB & F Moon Machine, beneath the bulging  eyes of the HM3 Frog, seven bright stars of the  Ursa Major constellation portray the Big Bear Constellation and the seven stars of the Ursa Minor .  With an unblinking gaze, the moon ,an almost lifelike expression of amused disdain, play its phase as a good moon should.  It is no wonder the moon looks slightly unhappy, thinking it is the master of time now bends and bows to another - the frog - as it appears and disappears time after time within a distinct Sarpaneva Korona.

The finished product is a work of moving art.  Something of beauty with a definite function. The bulbous eyes are aluminum  rotating domes  upon which the time in hours and minutes is writ. Display of time is enabled by the passage of ceramic ball bearings and the rotating hemispheres.  A single tear centers atop each dome as if the frog crying its eventual demise.  An allusive multi level rotor disc crafted from steel and 22K gold is treated with laser to create the twinkling likeness of the Northern Stars.

The timepiece of 319 components and 36 rubies beat at 28,800 vph.  The hemispheres and the cased back and front are covered with scratch resistance sapphire crystal.

To have this mechanical wonder upon ones wrist grants  the privilege of two great minds in a single timepiece - provided you have $100,000 to spend. The MB & F Moon Machine watch  is available in three collections of limited to 18 pieces each: Black titanium case baring white gold moons against a dark blue sky; Black titanium case baring white gold moons against a blue sky or a pink gold case baring pink gold moons against the backdrop of an anthracite sky. The watch is affixed to the wrist with a black crocodile strap and sealed with a folding clasp in titanium or gold.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Olympics Omega Lost to Longines.

It is a great honor to be an Olympic Timekeeper - an honor which has been an unbroken chain of timekeeping triumphs for Omega since Los Angeles 1932. Almost unbroken that is... For whatever reason Omega lost its right to time the ill-fated Munich 1972 games.
In a recent exclusive interview with Master of Sports-timing ,since 1969, Omega's Peter Hürzeler and Swimming World, Peter explained:

"In those years, we were two big watch groups- OMEGA and Longines. We were timing competitions in our respective names, and were able to collaborate for major events, but, we were 30kms away doing the same thing. In 1972, after we lost (the right to time-sic) the Olympic Games in Munich, Swiss Timing was founded to be the leader in sports timekeeping. OMEGA returned as Official Olympic Timekeeper in 1976" 

So Longines got the right to time the  Munich 1972 Olympic games, a bitter sweet one-time honor clouded by the Munich Massacre in which 11 Israeli athletes and trainers were surprised in their sleep and captured by a Palestinian Terrorist Organization - Black September. The 11 Israelis and trainers were all murdered.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Jamaican Sprinter Silver Medalist Yohan Blake Among Top Sportsman to Wear Richard Mille

Yohan Blake
Newly appointed Richard Mille ambassador Jamaican Sprinter Silver Medalist, Yohan Blake ran the 100m and the 200m race with the exquisite $500,000 Richard Mille yellow and green watch strapped to his wrist.   Being of extreme lightweight, the watch did not effect his stride in the least, and it complimented the Jamaican running gear to perfection, but it did run him into some trouble.
The watch in all its colorful glory raised an IOC eyebrow or too. They may want to question Yohan Blake to see if any IOC branding guidelines were crossed.

If it was an Omega timepiece well that would be a whole other issue, since Omega is the official Olympic timekeeper since the 1932 Los Angeles games, and things get a bit prickly if anther watch company takes center stage. IOC wants to limit exposure to non-Olympic brands at the Games.  Even spectators are limited to the logo size on their own clothes.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Glowing de Grisogono Tondo by Night - The Life of the Party

One can always rely on de Grisigono to introduce a unique watch with the utmost of elegance and flair. The new Tondo by Night actually glows in the dark like a light stick at a concert.  Of course de Grisogono has not forgotten the "by day" scene.  By day the watches in fact are an almost blinding spectacle of bright color and dazzling magnificence. By night the photo-luminescent composite fiberglass watch case material takes on a glow. - video below  
This is actually the first time I have ever seen a watch company add photo-luminescence to the watch case and band, rather than just to the dial.  For me this is actually quite thrilling as I love when innovative watchmaking materials are used.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

3 Different Watch Boutiques. 3 Very Different Experiences.

The perks of living in New York is that once in a while I find time to go Watch Boutique hopping along Madison Avenue.  I highly enjoy these little adventures.  Oftentimes I head home with an armload of hands-on information.  I absolutely love knowledgeable salespeople and feel kind of jilted if they cannot answer my questions.

On my latest excursion, the salesperson in the first boutique I walked into was pleasant enough, but as soon as I inquired about the movement of a particular timepiece with quite an impressive range of functions, he frowned and said,
"We are not the watchmakers, but you can take this instead," He handed me an exquisite catalog with a detailed description of every movement.

My immediate thought was, "How long would it take him to read his own catalog book?"

I left the Boutique with one of the nicest catalogs I have ever seen, but lacking any renewed excitement about the brand itself. 

The next Boutique I walked into was a low to mid range watch boutique with a lovely bubbly salesperson who really was very sweet.  The entire place was in bright pinks and purples with fine art depictions emblazoned beyond the showcases. She knew her watches quite well until I asked her if the dial hands were luminescent.  She peered at me quizzically not knowing that particular watch term, so I asked her if the hands on the watch glowed in the dark,
"I don't know?  I am never in the boutique after dark." she said
" but I will  take it into a dark closet and see."
As I said, she was very sweet.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cyrus Klepcys Mars Watch Inspired by the Past, Indicating the Presentand Voyaging to the Future.

As Rover Curiosity unfurls its head, positions its cameras and beams down never before seen footage of Mars, the inhabitants of earth stare transfixed at images of the unknown. As the days go by Rover focus will improve and it will  beam back images in color with better more pronounced resolution.  Thus on this monumental day in the history of space exploration I must blog about a Mars Watch - The Cyrus Klepcys Mars Watch.
The Cyrus watch brand new and already iconic Klepcys Collection - a collection  which took three years of research and development as well as a multiple patented functions -  was awarded the best brand in the category  "cutting-edge watchmaking" at the "Nuit de l'Horlogerie" back in May at the Grimuldi Forum, Monaco.
Just by looking at the complex watch dial featuring a miniature Mars, one can determine this watch was created with calculated ingenuity, in part due to Cyrus collaboration with Jean-François Mojon recipient of the best conceptor / developer at the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix held in November 2010.

 For the Cyrus Klepcys Mars Watch, the moon was replaced by Mars. The rotation of Mars differs slightly to that of  earth.  24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35.244 seconds is a day on Mars as opposed to 23 hours, 56 minutes, 4.2 seconds on earth.  Thus Cyrus has adjusted its miniature 7.6mm 3D Mars to perform the rotation to mirror Mars. At the 7 'o'clock the "Face on Mars" peers out in the same likeness as it was first spotted on Mars in an image from Mars taken by Viking 1 on July 25th, 1976.   Scientist ascertain  the face embedded in the Cydonia region of Martian landscape is merely a Martian mountain, but others perceive it as the work of some other kind. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The First Plastic Watch Movement Ever Made Tissot IDEA 2001

Today the talk is about Carbon Fiber, Nanotubes, Daimeze and Zalium (Harry Winston specialty), but imagine when the prolific plastic came into being. Plastic infiltrated every industry changing our world forever. Now we are suffering the consequence of its use.  Just ask IWC ambassador David de Rothschild who sailed the world in his bottle boat named "Plastiki" to create awareness of the detrimental effects plastics create in our environment - particularly from the multitude of plastic nurdles floating  in our oceans.
 But I have gone off topic - a terrible habit of mine.  I have not written this blog to frown at plastics, but rather to reminisce about  its entrance into the world of horology.

Plastics were around for decades before Tissot unveiled the groundbreaking  IDEA 2001 in 1971.

Articles announced with amazed astonishment,

" THROWAWAY WATCH: A timepiece with plastic works so inexpensive that they can be discarded and replaced whenever they fail to function properly has been developed by Tissot of Geneva"

The IDEA 2001 also known as Astrolon 2250  or SYSTAL "Systeme Total d'Autolubrification" looks like a cheap wind up plastic toy - the kind that inevitably gets stepped on by oblivious adults and has to be thrown away.  In actual fact some 40 years later, some of these watches are in perfect working order keeping excellent time and requiring very little maintenance. The movement has only 52 components as opposed to the 91 components of a standard Swiss mechanical movement, since pieces are molded together rather that screwed.   As you can see there are no screws, but rather wheels with pinions. There is but one jewel - the impulse pin of the escapement which is a synthetic ruby. The only metal in the movement is the balance assembly  (gold plated brass and Elinvar balance spring), mainspring and barrel as well as the winding mechanism. The injected molded plastic components required no lubrication - plastic after all is made from oil - and the intended purpose was to merely throw away the watch once it ceased working.