Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Introducing the Rolex GMT II Ceramic Pepsi !!!

HOT OFF THE PRESS!!!! HOT! HOT! HOT!

The Rolex GMT II Ceramic Pepsi Bezel has finally landed... the 116710 line finally has a pepsi bezel version to complement its all black ceramic bezelled brother...

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its got everything all the Rolex GMT fans have been asking for... the red hand, the red text on the dial, which are perfect complements to all the different bezels out there for the GMT... the all black, the coke, the pepsi, all blue... green just doesn't go with anything really (at least for me)...

but wait there is more

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wait for it...
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patience...
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its officially...
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a joke :) sorry guys had to rain on your parade. rolex hasn't launched this baby yet but when they do, it will be the hottest watch around... and a perfect complement to this bad boy...


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my 1675 chilling ... as cool watches are wont to do ;)
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I would like to credit daibach from one of the rolex forums out there for his amazing photoshopped pic that had me salivating at my keyboard... wishing and hoping that Rolex had finally managed to get ceramic looking blue and red... there is nothing like the pepsi bezel on the gmt. if it ain't pepsi it ain't a gmt in my books :)

cheers
raph

Friday, 25 July 2008

Beobachtungs-Uhren ... & a cool flieger hommage watch

Before I go into the review proper of a really cool watch and something that is good value for money... i would like to provide a some definitions and personal views first...

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Replica (fake) - What tries to be a copy of a real watch. (You should know what this refers to)

Replica (copy) - Identical enough to a current/recent production watch that make people who notice it wonder/ask if it's a watch from the original brand eg. Pam 249 and the army of clones and of other Panerai clones across their models. A Rolex lookalike with a different brand on the dial eg. Sandoz and (sadly) Debaufre's Rolex Submariners lookalikes. RXW and their marina militaires and their other Panerai replicas NOT hommages.

Hommage - a copy or highly identical watch of a non-current production watch. Typically the original should be a watch available some time back(several decades would be good) and must not be in recent productions, even for up to 10 or more years back, from a watch brand(s) that has any kind of official rights to it.

In my books, hommages are fine but replicas, outright fakes or copies, are rubbish but the line can be pretty thin of course.

Hommage to Replica

For eg. if someone were to issue hommage Italian military dive watches in the 1980s before panerai was big and did their own hommages to the Kampschwimmers than that would be alright(i think). But once panerai became big and did the 127, 217, 232s and 249s, all other watch companies who then make hommages to the kamp, MM, and other similar old school italian military dive watch styles, capitalising on what panerai has done, are just making replicas and they then suck BIGTIME (imho).

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Replica(fake) watch wearers ... U need help


The bottom of the food chain is the people who wear watches that are total replicas/fakes. If you can't get the original than be smart and don't wear the fake. The worst kind of #@!%@^# is the kind that says 'I have the money to buy the original but I don't see the need so I just get this.' or spends on a collection of fakes that could have gotten them several decent real watches instead. If I begin criticising these @#!* I would probably not stop ranting for awhile... please go for replica rehab, realise the error of your ways and buy original watches.

The Brand at Hand

Debaufre then makes a fair number of replica(copy) watches. Eg. their Ocean-1 is a copy of the Rolex Sub and their GMT is a copy of the Rolex GMT... sigh So its not looking good but there may still be hope...

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It comes in the form of a Beobachtungs-Uhren watch which has its origins in World War II (end of 1930s-mid 40s). It was a war aviator's watch for the German Luftwaffe or German aerial fighting unit then. The original watch is 55mm which is far too big, so Steinhart/Debaufre (pronounced day-boh-fray as per their site) has wisely chosen to offer 44mm and 48mm versions of it with different movements and minor variations to dial, crown and creating different series of limited and regular editions across their 2 brands. I would rather they didn't use the 'limited' moniker and then reissue a watch that is close to identical to one of their other limiteds in a regular or limited version. It can get pretty confusing after awhile.

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but back to the watch... it is really quite impressive for what its supposed to be, which is a hommage to the the B-Uhr. It should be big, with an uncluttered no-nonsense dial with a rugged aesthetic and this, the debaufre nav-b limited edition delivers in spades.

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If u talk to brand conscious WIS and you mention pilots watch, their thoughts immediately go to IWC and as big watches are in (at least still for now), the Big Pilot comes to mind. IWC also has several ranges of pilots watches in the Mark series, the 3717 range and the LEs. Back to the BP then... its a handsome watch in the older dial but its got too much stuff on it. it has the brand, date and power reserve. it basically is a not so great hommage to the IWC 52SC with all the clutter on the dial which is what the Nav-B is a hommage to. so in comparison then, this Nav-B LE totally works.

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Watch factors
  • Size – Dimensions are (48mm (54mm with crown) * 56.5mm * 15mm) Works great for my 7+” wrist. it sits well and the crown digs in only when i bend my hand back
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  • Case Construction quality – Standard 316L stainless steel. no nicks or cuts out from the box. Polished 3mm around the bezel and brushed stainless case combo works well.
  • Case back – normal solid metal caseback. It should be solid back as if its clear, you would be staring at a gawdawful metal spacer and smallish eta 2892-2 for this size watch.
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  • Crystal – curved sapphire and supposed ar coating on one side
  • Aesthetic – Clutter free dial. Simplistic design, clean and bold. No unnecessary date, power reserve indicators etc. No unnecessary brand, logos, wordings. True to what most would say is the definitive beobachstung-uhr look except for the size which is 48mm vs original 55mm or wearable size vs unwearable. Anything above 50mm is a joke unless you are built like Arnuld. Rugged looking due to its WWII history(well except for the polished bit which is rectifiable if you want it all brushed or bead blasted etc)
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  • Dial – no printing irregularities under higher magnification. lume application not the best though. uneven in one main part (the 12 o'clock triangle) and not applied fully over the printed numeral for some of the numbers. Proportion of the numerals to the dial size is excellent and its of course very easy to read the time
  • Hands – cut and quality is alright. under higher magnification there are light marks on it but you can't see them with the naked eye. alignment is fine. the blue of the hands is a bit dark but ok. under stronger light or at certain angles, the color looks how it should look all the time.
  • Crown – easy to grip and not sharp. good size relative to the watch and complements it perfectly.
  • Lume quality – Brightness - good. Endurance - ok. well see for yourself
Lume me up baby... LED power to the contenders...
the Nav-B LE and the PAM 111 (nuthin beats the lume on this so far)
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after 5mins of charge... this is the level of glow at the start
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after 5mins in a totally dark place... hard to make out the numerals on the nav-b
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after 30mins... luminance is almost gone. picture was taken with reduced ISO...
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  • Strap, color and quality – 2 straps came with this. Black and marone old vintage which I requested for. the black is ok but the marone shines. they are both meaty and substantial straps and decent lengths. I swapped out the black to the marone once i got it and put on a deployant :) just my preference. the buckle that comes with the watch is done well enough.
  • Movement – didn't have time to do an accuracy test but it has the eta 2892-2 workhorse so it shouldn't be that far off. will do the test some other time. Winding is smooth. Rotor is not too loud and no Valjoux wobble (as found in the 7750). Should it come with a handwind movement eg. unitas 6497 which is a better size for this and handwinding being more close to the original? Doesn't really matter imo. metal spacer ring for the huge amount of space between the movement and case size. Another great thing about this is that any watchmaker can service this for not much $ which is cool
Additional factors:
  • Presentation box and papers - box is good quality for the price. Nice wood and decent construction but strong glue smell(as someone else noted) but it totally doesn't matter as I am not inhaling the box. The metal plate has the LE number on it.Paper has LE number and is dated. Instructions on the movements within and some co. literature/cards
  • Customer service – Reasonable. They were prompt in reverts but some minor miscommunication at times but these were easily clarified.
  • Shipping time – Excellent. I had informed them of the urgency as I was moving and they sent it out express.
  • Brand – the brand is not strong (see comments above) but i wouldn't think too much about it though as it's meant to be a fun piece to own. From an aesthetics standpoint, I think it holds itself up better than the a lot of fliegers costing a whole lot more
  • Exclusivity – This is a bit of a question mark as noted before. Steinhart and Debaufre seem to come out with regular B-Uhr hommages in different sizes, dial designs, movements, crown types and make them limited or regular editions.

Conclusion: I rate this watch highly. Its well built and looks the part. A good timepiece for the price and recommended if brand is not a key factor in your watch purchase decision and you want a good hommage to the B-Uhr or a cool flieger watch.

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Saturday, 19 July 2008

Jaeger LeCoultre Watchmaking Wk SIN Part One: Classes

Part One: Watch Training Masterclass

Mysteriously, 2 white domes, somewhat similar to a certain item of ladies undergarment appeared in front of the open space in the middle of town in Singapore, at Orchard Road's Ngee Ann City Shopping Centre. Curiousity got the better of me and I strayed too close to the main entrance and a strong vortex sucked me into another realm... Holy Smokes! It was Le Sentier descended onto Orchard Rd. Well I always wanted to visit the Vallee de Joux and having a portal at the entrance my fave shopping mecca suited me just fine ;) what lies ahead though?

side view of one of the domes

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Apparently as the watchmaking gods would have it... it was time again to prove myself
at one of Jaeger LeCoultre's Masterclasses... Having displayed more valor than ability at
the classes conducted during Tempus, this seemed like an opportune time to redeem myself

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i had always wished to see what ticked inside my Master Compressor Extreme world chrono
and i found out that i would have a chance of dismantling and assembling the chrono... that is
SOOOO COOOLLL !!! ;)

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Our guide for this journey then... Mr Frank Martin. My teacher at the tempus class, Frank's a
top guy, trains budding watch makers back at Le Sentier and does these gigs too.

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So our challenge today, the calibre 751/1 which is in the Master Compressor Chrono and as
mentioned is the movement in my EWC just without the worldtime complication. EWC Cal is 752

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as part of the class we got to dismantle the chrono including the column wheel...
taking out stuff was the easy part, putting them back... that was a whole different ballgame

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Frank at work... showing us the moves...

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Chong from JLC, who is based here, was a great help to us too...

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this guy, can't remember the name now... think he's that new employee in the service department, responsible for destroying several tourbillon movements... waitaminute

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thats me :) yup the raphmeister is gonna work it out...

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this was how far we got to in terms of stripping the movement...

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wrist shot of Frank and my Compressors...

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collecting the certificate... after 4 years of training...
uhm it was actually 4 hours...

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and there you go... the boy is certified... or is it certifiable? hmm
(note: the movement can't be taken home yuh. i know. i tried
and have the bruises from the security dudes to show for it... [kidding])

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still part One: Decoration Class


a thorn amongst the roses... oops got it wrong ;) i meant a rose among the thorns...
alethea from jlc. top gal who helped in arranging our sessions and was busy and will be
busy till the end of the watchmaking week i suspect

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the boyz... george, raph, eddie, lionel and kc (after a sumptious sashimi meal) harry who was
with us, is not in the shot... probably taking some mean watch pics somewhere else...

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this is what i managed to do in 2 hours of the decoration class...

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if u believe that than you'll believe anything :) of course that was the handiwork of this man...
Dominique Vuez, Maitre Graveur

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Dominique doesnt speak English and so was ably translated by Rachel who's in Marketing
and at the boutique and doing a whole lot of other stuff too... including looking fine i might add ;)

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some parts he has been working on on display

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my workbench and my weapons of destruction.. my first cuts to get the jlc logo out...

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clamping it to finish it more... ohh looks pretty bad raphy

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george going at it... the light weight of the team alinghi on his wrist not a hindrance
to his finishing efforts...

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raphmeister trying to get it to shine... stress on the keyword 'trying'

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dominique was wearing a familiar watch so the wristshot was mandatory :) 2 mc ewcs in
da house... err in da domes

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and another certificate :) at this rate, they are gonna give me a contract
of employment next ;) haha

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a nice memento... its not going into any watch but it was fun and a totally enjoyable experience

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the takeaway from both classes is that A LOT goes into these mechanical watches, from the assembly of the parts, to the finishing of all the large and tiny bits of the movement, and it totally makes you appreciate your fine mechanical timepieces so much more which is all good with me :) wonderful way to learn more about the watchmakers art and craft and hopefully spread the passion. oh and make sure you have a JLC in the collection as they make damn fine movements and watches :)

my sincere thanks to the kind folks at JLC for having me... Stephane, Xavier, Rachel, Alethea, Garina... our class teachers Frank, Chong, Dominique et al and Jaw at Le Club and Horomundi... it was an absolute treat (look out for part 2 coming soon... )

Jaeger LeCoultre Watchmaking Wk SIN Part Two: Exhibits

Part Two: Exhibits

atmos marqueterie featuring art by gustav klimt...
i really like this...

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combination of the different types of art... very impressive indeed
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this is cool too... marc newson designed and baccarat crystal all around
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atmos' r just about the best clocks out there for folks like
us wif watches on the brain

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the gyro 1... so impressive but overshadowed by the gyro 2
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JLCs on display... these show 2nd timezones or world times
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chronographs galore
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gorgeous master 8 days perpetual... but a lil tough to read perhaps
in this openworked piece? but it is beautiful to look at so maybe that was the
intention? take your time to admire the watch while getting the date info
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blingy but nice for ladies of course :)
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the master tourbillons... excellent stuff
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the triptyque with 3 faces on a reverso...
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master minute repeater... very nice
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the extreme lab with the lubrication free movement. i love that so much and hope that they will succeed in mass producing this at a more affordable price so that lubrication free movements will be standard in mechanical timepieces in the future... its a real revolution. i don't like the design on the extreme lab though... but it does house the future, hopefully
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the duometre... many guys raving about it but i don't like it.
to each their own yuh :) the pock marked pitted dial doesnt make sense to me...
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nonetheless it is pretty impressive...
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nice enamel dial reverso
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putting the reverso caseback to good use... simply lovely
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engraving on reverso cases are interesting ways to personalise them too
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A few lovely pocket watches on display...
amazing art on some of the cases

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this is something else, a grand complication on the left and a
repeater on the right (if memory serves correct)

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its mind boggling how they were able to make these back in the 1800s... without cnc machines, computers etc etc etc
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and the fabled millionometer to measure components to the
nearest thousandths of a millimetre or a micron

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