Thursday, January 24, 2008

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronograph Watch Is Ultimate Aquatic Companion

Breitling recently released the wildly simple yet attractive Superocean Heritage based on diving watch designs from the 1950s. It was a controversial watch as some people failed to see it’s inherent beauty and appeal. Of course, observant enthusiasts noticed that it was just this simplicity that made the Superocean Heritage stand out. Breitlings are know for being ultra-busy in their designs. Often times people comment that they have a hard time telling the time among the many numbers and subdials on the standard Breitling watch face. This is true given the amount of information available with the slide rule on many models. Yet the Superocean Heritate deviated from this cluttered ideal.

What was lacking however in the Breitling Superocean Heritage was the feature that Breiting is best known for, the inclusion of a chronograph in its watches. Thus the standard Superocean Heritage might have been a bit lacking for some Breitling traditionalists, but a stellar timepiece by most standard with its COSC chronometer movement, large size, and classic appeal.
Now Breitling has announced a chronograph version of the Superocean Heritage to the delight of many fans. Using Breitling’s Caliber 13 movement (based on the Valjoux 7750), you get a chronometer class movement with a 12 hour chronograph. What separates this watch from many other Breitling chronographs is the legibility. This is not a busy and complicated watch to use or read. The beauty of Valjoux 7750 and alike movements is that it can be integrated and have little negative effect on the legibility of a watch. Here, the subdials are subdued, and the hour markers are prominent. The hands are large and thick enough to be identified at a quick glance. This functionality and style should appeal to anyone who enjoys the standard Breitling Superocean Heritage watch, and even those who do not.

While the image above shows the black version of the watch, it is also available in a blue or bronze color with matching rubber strap. There is also a classically styled steel bracelet available. Pricing for the Breitling Superocean Heritage is probably going to be in the $5000-$6000 range based on the premium that a chronograph movement usually fetches.
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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Patek Philippe Ref. 5960P Chrono Calendar: Nice And Classy If You Can Afford It

Patek Philippe is a star among watch makers. Almost like a higher class Rolex, Patek stays high among the uber-elite, and sneers down upon the lower classes of watches and people. This is where you get the sales people who treat you like your father cleaned their father’s bathrooms. Regardless of their attitude, Patek Philippe is an innovator in the watch world, and they helped further the movement to bring back the mechanical watch when quartz watches looked to be taking over in the 1980s. Today Patek Philippe is among those watch makers who have a reputation for ultra-high quality watches whose value can actually increase overtime.

Their latest foray is the Reference 5960P, the “P” standing for platinum. This is an innovative piece because it the first of it’s type for Patek as an in-house monochronograh (”monocounter” chronograph). This means the chronograph time elapsation windows are within each other for the minutes and hours. The seconds hand for the chronograph is on the main dial while it looks like the main clock has no seconds indicator.

While the chronograph is the main innovation of this watch, I am particularly impressed by the execution of the full annual calendar. The Patek Philippe reference 5960P displays in the most minimalist of manners the day of the week, month, date, AM/PM indicator, along with what I consider to be the best implemented power reserve indicator on the market. What is nice, is how the information if linearly displayed in simple symmetry. No gimmicky windows or dials, just what is simple, tested, and effective.

A Patek Philippe is the watch you reach for when you don’t need anything but your own eyes and hands to appreciate your watch collection. Not everyone can afford it, but for those who wear a Patek Philippe on a regular basis, no reassurance for their status in life is needed. There is no denying that this watch will look as good in 100 years as it does now. Often when designing a watch, the tendency is to create something creative and unique. Rarely is so much effort put on perfecting that which already accepted and desired. And it only costs $80,000 in platinum!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Blancpain Saint Valentin 2008 Women’s Watch: Very Nicely Done

Women’s watches usually aren’t given that much attention by watch enthusiasts. They come in two basic varieties, miniature dolled up versions of men’s watches, or some watch richly gilded with jewels. While these watch can be appreciate they are hardly things rich in innovation or novel interest. Typically, much more time is spend on men’s watches when it comes to new technology, avant-garde styling or new complications.

Another reason women’s watches tend to be less interesting is that they are often quartz movements. This makes sense as women tend to want watches with less hassle as they switch between several of them. In spite of this however, there are a good deal of mechanical women’s watches out there, and this Blancpain is an excellent example. While Blancpain has much history, it is a reemerging brand. Now owned by the Swatch Group who controls other luxury brands such as Breguet, Blancpain is best known for their diving watches the Aqualung and 50 fathoms meant to for deep dives and radioactivity resistance.

What impressed me about this watch is all the little touches. For this kind of money (many thousands) you expect lots diamonds and gold, and precious materials all around. You also expect top-notch craftsmanship and detailing. What don’t always get are design touches that really make a watch different. From a mechanical perspective, it is useful that Blancpain fit a 100 hour power reserve mainspring in this watch. This gives the women who are lucky enough to own this watch a couple of days between having to wear the watch and it not stopping. Having a full calendar complication means that if the watch stops, you need to adjust several things before it is ready to be useful again. 100 hours of power is about double of what you would expect on a watch this size typically.

Next are the little artistic details on the watch face. Notice the moon in the moonphase indicator with long feminine eye lashes and a female face. A wonderful little detail paying homage to the likely feminine ownership of this watch. Then, on top of the moonphase indicator is the seconds hand. Here the seconds hand is represented as a red heart which will continuously rotate indicating the elapsed seconds. It is rare to see watch hands transformed like this, and a welcome change of pace. I would not seem obvious, but Blancpain took a heart and transformed it into a perfect indicator. Looking at the implementation, you’d think hearts have been used for years as hands on watches. A new look, but a highly refined addition that will surely be copied on many watches in the future. Kudos to Blancpain for taking the time to release such a watch, with an obviously limited market, but a huge appeal.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Watch Magazines For Your Away From Computer Reading Pleasure

If you are into watches, then you spend a good deal of time online reading about, looking at, or shopping for watches. But you can supplement this time by looking at watch magazines. Yes, there are actually a good number of them. In fact, as watch enthusiasm draws some of the most artistic, mechanical, and style conscious fans, there is bound to be a good deal of well written print content on watches.

Watch magazines are a good deal like car magazines in that each has a particular appeal while trying to remain general as well. Some are more “technically driven,” discussing watch movements and innovations at length, while other magazines are more “style” or “lifestyle” focused. These latter options may appeal more to the casual watch enthusiast, and will most certainly include a few articles on other interests such as fine liquor and wine, cars, or travel. Technical watch magazines can easily bore readers by going into great detail with gear diagrams and the benefits of new techniques of micro engineering.

A glaringly open segment of watch magazines are those dedicated to, or even those that mention at any length less expensive watches. It is true that in terms of auto magazines, one prefers to read about high performing and beautiful exotic cars that they may rarely see, but it is important to have editorial content on watches that people can find in any city.
It is this sub $1000 watch segment which is mostly ignored. There are likely some reasons for this, but I think it is a negative omission that could easily be addressed. In the US, most watches sold, by far, are under $1000. There is no good resource for information on what is out there, and new items from manufactures. Aside from online forums, such as the Poor Man’s Watch Forum, there is little out there on the strongest segment of the US market. Hopefully this will change in time.

This is not to say that the established watch media never talks about anything save for the ultra expensive. There are common mentions, and occasional reviews of lower priced watches. No review has been of a quartz watch though (unless a very high-end quartz), and less expensive mentions are infrequent. Yes, a good purpose of watch magazines is to beef up, and promote the high-end watch market, but at the same time, there is a dedicated group of watch lovers who cannot afford watches in the many thousands of dollars, but are still worthy consumers.

So what is out there for your reading pleasure? Here is a non-exhaustive list of the most common watch magazines.
1. WatchTime: Available at most newstands, WatchTime is the “Car & Driver” of watch magazines. Good overview of fine watches with a handful of in depth reviews. Little mention of watch prices for the most part, but then again this can be blamed on the manufactures. WatchTime is coherently written, and always has a good deal of imagines and pictures. Another good aspect of the magazine are interviews with watch lovers, including celebrities or wealth collectors. Interesting to see how their love of watches started and developed.
2. Revolution: This is the high-end of watch magazines. Not a technical journal, but not a fashion magazine, Revolution touts itself as a “watch lifestyle” magazine. Probably the best watch magazine in terms of editorial content and articles, this highly polished testament to watch love is a collector’s piece in itself. The gem here is the attention to detail when discussing watches or watch personalities. Revolution understands that there is so much more to a watch than meets the eye, and each issue has lots dedicated to defining and discussing questions that most watch enthusiasts have, and cannot get answers to. Further, there are industry news mentions, and editorial articles focused on the more political or intellectual side of watch manufacturing and collecting. Revolution magazine is highly recommended.
3. International Watch (IW): Decent magazine. Well written and often has good assortments of watches (i.e. issue on sport, or diving watches). There is nothing particularly standout about this magazine, but it is a worthwhile read for the dedicated, and recommended as a newsstand pickup if you like what is being features in that issue.
4. InSync: Another watch magazine with no particular stand out features. This magazine however focuses more often on less expensive watches that are more affordable. You won’t have to complain that you can never afford any of the watches discussed. This is important as most other watch magazines ignore most “consumer” level timepieces.
5. Chronos: An aptly named magazine that is sadly often thin in size and overly bloated with advertisements. It is true that most watch magazine have a ton of ads, but that is half the charm as these are interesting to look at. Regardless, Chronos could easily segment itself by being more niche marketed. Instead, it simply overlaps to a great degree with other watch magazines and provides little stand out content. If you see a copy, by all means leaf through the pages, and pick on up if there is an article or two that catches your eye.
As the US watch market continues to expand, there will inevitably be more watch magazines available. Keep a sharp out, and regularly pick up on or more of the above magazines. You’ll enjoy them, and it will totally mystify most people who don’t like watches what could possibly be discussed in a magazine about watches. Ah, the ignorance of the uninitiated.

History of CORUM Watches

Corum, a Swiss watch manufacturer which ranks amongst the most prestigious in the world. Founded in 1956 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, the Corum brand acheived prominence because of its simple philosophy--"superb craftsmanship combines with the endless search for beauty and innovation." This initial commitment to excellence still prevails today.
Now, more than 45 years after the founder's dream gave rise to the venerable Corum name, another watch industry visionary, Severin Wunderman, has taken the helm as the new owner of the company.

Creating a new phase in Corum's history, his designs have already been hailed by the press as "youthful, dynamic and daring." Under Sevein Wunderman's vigilant guidance these unparalleled designs continue to flow from the company's headquarters.
Preserving the company's tradition of precision craftsmanship, as well as keeping a keen eye on the future, Severin Wunderman intends that Corum remains on the cutting edge of luxury Swiss watchmaking.

The teaching of this master profoundly influenced the young man and proved to be of great help to him in later years, particularly during the difficult time of the Great Depression. Once his training was completed, he worked as master horologist in seve-ral local factories. The economic crisis forced com-panies to drastically reduce production, certain of them closing down entirely. It is at this time that Louis Cottier decided to go into business on his own, working for 13 years in the back room of a book and stationery shop which his wife operated at rue Vautier 45 in Carouge. In this modest atelier he began his activity as a maker of desk clocks, pocket Corum watches, wristwatches and hand-made pro-totypes. In the beginning, he made wristwatches without hands, and watches with jumping digital hours, as well as watches with automata and jacque-marts. It was in this workshop that his first World Time pocket watch was made in 1931 for Beszan-ger, a well-known local jewelry and watch shop.

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