Thursday, 11 December 2014

Press Release & My Thoughts On It All: OMEGA and the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology Announce New Watch Certificate

As a watch lover, without reading the press release info, when it comes to watch certification I want (i) relevant standards and tests, (ii) reliable non-subjective processes (iii) credible and neutral assessments/assessors. So let's check out the press release from Omega and i will then circle back at the end to see what gets checked off :) all my thoughts in red font and all press release info in black. 

At a press conference at Geneva's Cité du Temps on Tuesday, Swiss watch brand OMEGA and the director of the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS) announced their collaboration on a new watch certification process that the brand will begin using in 2015 to test each of its Master Co-Axial watches. 


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Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek was joined by Dr Christian Bock, the Director of METAS, Stephen Urquhart, President of OMEGA and OMEGA Vice Presidents Raynald Aeschlimann and Andreas Hobmeier. 

After welcoming media and guests, Stephen Urquhart recalled some of the technological milestones in OMEGA's long history, including its launch in 2013 of a mechanical movement resistant to magnetic fields greater than 15,000 gauss. He explained that the increasing number of magnets in our daily lives can affect the performance of watches and showed a short film explaining how OMEGA had overcome one of watchmaking's greatest challenges.

The anti-magnetic movements were introduced on a large-scale in OMEGA's Master Co-Axial watches earlier this year.

Nick Hayek then pointed out that Swatch Group has long been a leader in its promotion of the Swiss watch industry and the "Swiss made" label and he expressed his satisfaction with the innovations that have made it so robust. He added that Swatch Group is committed to retaining its leadership position in the Swiss watch industry and said that the partnership with METAS was the logical next step. 


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Mr. Hayek suggested that in recent years it has become obvious that the COSC chronometer certification, long the industry norm, needs to be strengthened. 

In the middle of 2015, the first OMEGA watches will be produced with the Master Co-Axial Officially Certified designation. A significant difference between the new certification and its predecessors is that it will test the finished watch instead of its movement.

Dr Christian Bock, the Director of METAS, was introduced and explained the role that his organization plays in the Swiss federal government.  The Institute, he said, is the centre of competence for the Swiss government for all matters involving measurement and measuring procedures.  

The METAS Director said that the new certification process would give OMEGA and other Swiss watchmakers the opportunity to demonstrate the quality and timekeeping performance of their watches to a greater extent than has previously been possible.  He added that it was important to point out that METAS is completely independent – with no bias or prejudice – and only agreed to work on projects when it was convinced that its neutrality was not compromised. The agreement with OMEGA has no suggestion of exclusivity and other clients would have access to the same certification.   

Raynald Aeschlimann, OMEGA's Vice President and Head of International Sales, said that the certification of the watches by an independent institution that is part of the Swiss Federal Government made as bold a statement about OMEGA as its monobrand boutiques and the transparent casebacks that reveal the movements inside. "All of these define our brand. The boutiques place our watches close to the consumers where they can explore them in detail. The casebacks allow the examination of the movements that are such an important part of our story. And this new, completely independent 'Swiss Made' certification confirms the quality of each watch that earns it. It's an important milestone for both our brand and the industry."

Andreas Hobmeier, OMEGA Vice President of Production and Procurement, spoke in detail about the tests each Master Co-Axial watch will have to pass in order to earn the "Officially Certified" distinction. The watches will be tested for their precision during and after exposure to magnetic fields greater than 15,000 gauss – they will have to perform within a tolerance of 0 and +5 seconds per day, for autonomy (functioning without winding, measured in hours) and water resistance.

Owners of watches that are Master Co-Axial Officially Certified will be able to access online or via a smartphone the results and performance parameters of the tests passed by their watches.

In response to a question following the presentations, Mr. Hayek said that the current level of innovation certified with the Master Co-Axial calibres is presently unbeatable and added that the new standard would motivate other brands to move ahead to meet the new criteria. "This," he said, "would benefit the entire industry – not only in Switzerland but in China and Japan and in other countries with a history of innovative watchmaking. More importantly, it would also benefit the consumers and that has to be a good thing."   

Circling back then... 

(i) relevant standards and tests - This is a tie-up with METAS so Omega says this is the benchmark I set for myself and it will be verified that my watches meet that benchmark. Another company can tie up with METAS and set their own benchmark that differs from Omega's so this does not really have to be an industry level certification. If it was put forward as such though, the pertinent question would be which other brand would like to reach this level? Would Swatch Group want other brands in its stable to move towards this high bar?   
  • More accurate: COSC's main achilles heel was testing the uncased movement to -4+6 so this cert ups that by testing the cased watch to 0 -+5. 
  • Higher Anti-Magnetism: Watches functioning fine after 15,000 gauss exposure which is something only Omega can meet at the current time. This standard is relevant as magnetised watches is one of the more(most?) common reasons watches become highly inaccurate.
(ii) reliable non-subjective processes(iii) credible and neutral assessments - This is through METAS involvement. 

end of day, we get watches that are checked and certified to be more accurate and with better anti-magnetism and that is a good thing. i look forward to more of such steps in the right direction for the industry as a whole and it is good that Swatch Group with Omega, is showing the way in this regard. cheers, raph

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Vacheron Constantin Immersion... A Look At Some Traditionnelle Pieces, A Collectionneurs Pocketwatch and An Exclusive Goat! :)

Apologies if the title misled :) i meant a boutique exclusive Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art
The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac Year of the Goat timepiece (now that's a mouthful...) this 
picture titled 'The Fearless Goat & The Blue Dragon' ;) [Limited edition of 12 pieces for each
 model. Each year will see the zodiac animal for the year and 12 pieces in rose gold and 12
 in platinum. The series started off last year in 2014 with the year of the horse]
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So from the wonderful evening of Vacheron Constantin's gala opening and exhibition LINK, i had a hankering to get some pics of the traditionelle pieces and have a feel of them in the metal and possibly other pieces that had caught my eye. I would like to thank Vacheron Constantin for the opportunity to spend some time with these pieces and enhancing my appreciation for their wonderful offerings. 


First up let's look at the excellent Traditionnelle range with the Chronograph in Pink Gold. 
A comfortable piece at a good sized 42mm with the Calibre 1141, manual handwind  [Price S$82,600]
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the Traditionnelle range has a great patrimony and has strong dna from past lines
featuring similar complications... definitely a winner from the front
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and the back... oh my what do we have here... 
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a lemania after my own heart... the lemania 2310 finished to geneve seal standards no less
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one of my fave chronograph movements with variants of it found in my speedmaster 
cal321 LINK and the Patek 5070 LINK and to Roger Dubuis LINK...  
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next up the traditionnelle perpetual calendar chronograph. Platinum 950 in a 43mm case
Handwind perpetuals are interesting as you gotta make sure it's always wound to be powered up. i 
have seen a contraption before that winds the crown and it was made for these watches in mind
but that will probably not come cheap too... a magnificent piece nonetheless
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deep and nice grey dial with different tones of grey and silver and white at play 
Retail is S$223,100 
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another piece of note at the boutique is the boutique exclusive Traditionnelle model with 950
 platinum case, opaline silver-toned dial and baguette-cut diamond hour-markers(totalling 
approximately 0.3 carats) which was presented at the inauguration of the Singapore ION Orchard boutique

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i wasn't able to take decent shots of this piece but it's a simple classic piece in the metal. 
the baguette diamond markers are rather subtle which is interesting. the diamonds 
and the plat case go towards the pricing of it at S$87,400
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movement is exceptionally finished as with all geneva seal movements from VC. not a good shot 
as the caseback sticker was still on but you get the idea ;)
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as the shoot was done at the Ion boutique it afforded me more time to have a look see...
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the tree is up as u can see from the bokeh'ed lights in the background :)
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there's interesting supersized watch movements and old skool machines & lathes 
to make watch components
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and literature for the more studious ones amongst us ;) 
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And we come back to The Goat... at first glance it didn't grab me but the more i held it and 
took pics of it the more i appreciated it. Métiers d’Art is an ongoing collection showcasing artistic
 crafts in timepieces. Vacheron Constantin presents The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac - a series
 of captivating timepieces based on the 12-year cycle and this year we have him... A symbol
 of a vivacious, independent spirit, the sign of the goat will take over from the horse on February
 19th 2014. To mark this occasion, the Manufacture presents two new watch creations 
magnificently enhanced by enamelling and engraving.

Since its founding in 1755, Vacheron Constantin has excelled in the field of precious ornamental
 techniques and cultivates passionate ties with the artistic crafts that it has consistently promoted
 by nurturing the transmission of expertise from one generation to the next. This know-how provides
 the Geneva-based watchmaking House with the opportunity to highlight its fundamental values –
 including of course its constant quest for excellence, as well as sharing passion, passing 
on knowledge and openness to the world expressed through unconditional support for both
native and foreign forms of artistic expression.
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A contemporary alliance of traditional artistic crafts for a magnificent dial -  The leaf motif 
appearing on the dial and stemming from classic Chinese iconography, is etched directly
 in the metal. The pattern remains semi-embedded and stands out from its gold base by a subtle
 stage-setting of variously accentuated reliefs creating a depth effect. The raised honeysuckle flowers
 appear to be floating over the dial. With the goat engraving, on which the details of the fleece
 measure a mere fraction of a millimetre, the artisan provides a tangible expression of the
 artistic vision behind this creation. Then comes the stage of Grand Feu enamelling, a 
technique invented in Geneva and which remains the exclusive preserve of a rare breed of 
artisans. By applying the enamel in successive layers, the enamel specialist further enhances
 the visual intensity of the blue or bronze-toned dial. The necessity of maintaining tight
 control of the colour and the reactions to the firing process that takes place in a kiln at around
 800 to 900°C, calls for a specific way of reasoning that takes years to acquire. A final layer
 of enamel is then applied before a final firing operation that vitrifies the dial and lends a shiny
 glazed effect that gives added definition to the floral motif. The goat is delicately applied
 to the centre of the dial, exuding a sense of calm and serenity through the sapphire crystal
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A calibre focusing on space with an original display ~ hands-free display of time through 
four windows respectively revealing the hour, the minutes, the day and the date. The first
 two indications are of the dragging kind and the last two of the jumping type, and each appears
 through one of the four apertures arranged around the central dial motif. Beating at a rate
 of 28,800 vibrations per hour, the mechanical self-winding movement is equipped with 
a 22-carat gold oscillating weight adorned with a dynamic geometrical motif inspired by the
 shape of the Maltese Cross, the historical House emblem. All its parts are treated to exceptionally
 sophisticated finishing that meets the criteria laid down by the Hallmark of Geneva – one of the
 highest tokens of horological craftsmanship created in 1886 and recognised around the world. 
This requirement now applies to the entire timepiece, which is duly certified by the Hallmark of Geneva
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The Year of the Goat model, part of the Métiers d’Art Légende du Zodiaque Chinois collection,
 is endowed with that unique touch of soul possessed by watches bearing the Hallmark of Geneva.
With this exceptional collection, Vacheron Constantin intends to pursue its special ongoing 
dialogue with collectors and devotees of Fine Watchmaking.[Priced at $165,000 for the Pink Gold] 
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to end off this post, i wanted to post 2 pics of a pocketwatch and post up some of the changes 
in the font and brand logo through the years for Vacheron Constantin. Next year will be 
it's 260th anniversary and it has had an amazing legacy and fine pieces throughout it's history.
 “Vacheron Constantin Collectionneurs” timepieces are carefully chosen and screened by 
Vacheron Constantin heritage specialists, they are superbly presented in Vacheron Constantin
 cases, come fully serviced with a certificate of authenticity, a free one year guarantee and 
access to the highly experienced Vacheron Constantin after-sales service and restoration teams
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 Each timepiece is a part of vacheron constantin’s 260 years of heritage ~ With “Vacheron Constantin
 Collectionneurs”, you are not only buying a timepiece, you are also buying an important piece of 
Vacheron Constantin’s 260 years of heritage, and as such benefit from the company’s vast and 
comprehensive archives and the exceptional talent of its master watchmakers. As a consequence, 
“Vacheron Constantin Collectionneurs” is able to offer its clients timepieces that have been 
fully and lovingly serviced and restored. And what better place than at the Vacheron Constantin
 Boutique in ION Orchard to find “Vacheron Constantin Collectionneurs”, to discover such jewels
 in the crown of Vacheron Constantin – timepieces that have been preciously guarded for generations.  
Pocket watch, minute-repeater in 18K yellow gold . Silvered dial, black enamelled Arabic 
numerals, small seconds at 6 o'clock and external railroad minute-circle. Year 1920, Calibre 
RA 17" 29/12. Price S$116,000
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and some of the logos from before (not in any chronological order)... 
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that last one i really like. hope u enjoyed the post and uhm, which VC were you planning on getting? ;) cheers, raph

Friday, 28 November 2014

Rolex Milgauss Z Blue 116400GV and Pepsi GMT 116719 BLRO In the Metal, In Hand Quickie Review

Rolex Rolex Rolex... nope I am not reading the rehaut of the watch but shaking my head at a good opportunity squandered. the press pix were pretty cool of this piece but the in-the-metal look of it is a bit of a letdown... damp squib moment for me coming up [note this happened to me only now after i had a chance to see it in the metal recently. not sure if the basel piece was any different]

oh that's it?
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now this is still a nice watch. the milgauss design is great but the blue could have been done better impo [my 2008 milgauss review here LINK]
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this went quickly from a potential buy to a just another watch out there in the mix and an option
if you were looking at the milgauss or equivalents
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and apologies for the iphone pic below... the Pepsi GMT 116719 BLRO... S$50,030 retail
if only it had come out in steel, i would buy it even with the cyclops... but in WG and wanting to make
it more exclusive unncessarily... i see it as a bit of a wasted opportunity. well the uber wealthy 
can have another piece to flaunt[not a big thing in the biggest market in the world] but the 
Pepsi fans(myself included) will be denied... even if i had the $, there are so many other 
watches to consider at that kinda price point. for example I could buy a 1675 AND a Patek 5711 instead :)
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gone but not forgotten :)
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Thursday, 27 November 2014

A Look At Richard Mille Hyper Luxury Timepieces & Some Pics of a RM032 in a Ferrari 458 Speciale No Less

Under A Blood Red Sky
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Sorry what was the title of the post? Ah, Richard Mille!

So who is the man behind the brand? His relatively short history can be found on wikipedia LINK... jewelry sales and marketing, then watch head for Mauboussin and then starting Richard Mille in 1999 and the RM001 coming out in 2001. Had wanted to talk more about the production of the watches but that's been covered really well in this ablogtowatch post LINK (do check it out) 

My short simple take on him is that he is a marketing genius for being able to sell what he does and price it the way he has and the bar just seems to get higher and higher to join the exclusive club of RM owners. He also has some design mojo since he has a hand in the designs or greenlighting them. On the quality and technical kick-a$$ery front though, i would make a distinction between RMs that have APRP [Audemars Piguet Renaud Papi] movements/complications vs the Vauchers but to most as long as it's an RM... it'll do :)

You know those articles that say what your watch says about you? RM owners would fall into the category of (1) too much money to care about prices much or at all (2) too much money to care about what they're actually paying for or maybe just (3) too much money period. [Luxury watch purchases are not highly rational decisions as it is, this is just stretching iiiitttttt ] No surprise that RM becomes a de riguer brand to own for the flash car/exotics/supercar/hypercar owner. these are hyper luxury products and for the people with the $, the price does not matter.

Enough of words and onto the pics... and there are a number of them. hope u like 'em. cheers, raph

RM011-FM Dubail Ti
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movement view... 
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profile has nice mix of brushed and polished surfaces
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very consistent machine aesthetic through the range

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RM032... we meet again
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movement view
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going all in...
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red storm rising... [ok i've officially run out of things to say about it... for now :)]
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Ferrari 458 Speciale

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engine bay... so beautiful... 
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i wish they all could be california... 
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beautiful inside and out of course... 

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it even looks good in black and white :)
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Forza Ferrari!

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and coz i took pics of another RM recently... let's have a quick look at RM030 AN Ti
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movement view
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the transparency of these pieces are cool
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RM032 Ti with the Ferrari

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exiting the beast
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totally in it's natural environment :)

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we are ready for liftoff...

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hmm i wonder what this button does... oops that's me ready to launch this bad boy
hmm nice team alinghi forged carbon... kinda goes with the carbon fibre methinks
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objects in the mirror are closer than they appear... may be a good thing there's nothing there
then coz we left em all behind :)
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