Thursday, 20 August 2009

answering a fun poser... imagine u were new to watches and had a S$100k to buy some

the question posed: imagine u are young, eg. in your mid-20s, and have came into wealth (read loadsa$$$), of which you set aside s$100k for watch acquisition looking for a minimum of 3 watches. please include at least one sports watch and one dress watch.

my recommendations and rationale for them are as follows:

assessment of the rich boy: he's young (so no Pateks as they'll be in his future if he ever gets into watches i suppose... ) and loaded and he mixes with other young and loaded people (birds of a feather yuh...u know they uhm do stuff together) and he wants to drop 100k on watches similar like how i go out to buy bread i suppose :) i betcha he has some nice exotic(or pricey) cars too other than the sudden interest to spend the money on nice mechanical timepieces...

so 1st thing is... no middle of the road pieces. u're spending top $ to go with the ferrari or lambo (me guessing here ;) so get the best for your money. don't d!ck around with 20-30k wannabe or derivative type watches and maximise the 100k (and I'd recommend stretching it a little if possible :) so here goes...

For sporty, either the AP ROO EODs or the wonderful Rubens Barichello II Ti. I would ask him which he likes more, ceramic and ti racing theme cool or the black beast and go for that... no entry level RMs yuh, lets go for the top AP ROO LEs! :) [either one could be had for around low S$60k]

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore End of Days
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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Rubens Barichello II in Titanium


for dressy get the plat dato for less than 50k. its versatile with the black face and the sportier complication and can go with both a suit or jeans
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OR if you are fine with dropping the dressy for someting uber cool, then go for the Ulysse Nardin Freak at less than S$60k. why? its a freak man, u don't need a reason to want it. ok but if you must, then its highly innovative yuh and for young bucks should have or prize innovation and innovative stuff no? and i don't mean just the iphones yuh :)

FREAK OUT!!! Ulysee Nardin Freak 1 in RG
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having given it more thought, throw in the option of the MB&F HM2 for consideration too... it goes well with exotics ;)
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and lastly, get an ultra reliable daily beater... Rolex will do you good ;) Rolex GMT, Milgauss GV, Submariner or Seadweller. for daily wear or travel etc... he will learn that watches can be reliable and tough as nails and will have appreciation of them in that respect
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the other question at the back of my mind was, what if i had to do it all over again... knowing what i know, with my experiences and the same amount of $ i had plonked down for my collection, would i pick up different pieces? the answer to come in time :)

have a blessed weekend. cheers, raph

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Part II... more thoughts and photos to share of the Grail... Vianney Halter Antiqua

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what is a grail timepiece?

it is a watch that is most difficult for one to obtain at a certain point in time in one's life. it is something that you would have to stretch a fair bit for to obtain. something that you would consider out of reach to some degree... this would most likely be due to 3 factors:

- rarity: if really very rare than it'll be hard to get new and hard to get pre-owned. rarity could be due to the following (1) limited edition (2) limited production (3) pieces that are no longer offered by the brand[not in their latest catalogue to vintage pieces. for vintage, finding one in an acceptable condition to the buyer plays a huge part as well.]

- price: grails could have bigger price tags... either a seemingly out of reach price based on your current funds and projections of your $$$ to spend on timepieces or a price that you cannot stomach or fathom to pay for a watch... eg. if you are comfortable only buying $4-6k watches, your grail could be in the $40-60k range. if comfortable with $8-$20k watches, your grail could be $80-$200k range...

- opportunity: the opportunity may not present itself often... a grail becoming available for sale at a good price which you are able to do by stretching what you have to attain it. these opportunities are sometimes so very hard to come by that when they do, it makes you pause and wonder if this is the moment to JUST DO IT... eg. you have a third of the amount needed in cash and you can trade or sell 3-4 timepieces to pay off the other 2/3rds... JUST DO IT i says ;)

my take on it... for me there is only one grail... not one now and one 5 years later (at least i hope not). my view is that i'll have one grail for life and will have other watches that will come and go as part of my collection... attaining my grail at this point in my life and collecting journey gives me a lot of satisfaction and i hope for you out there that you are successful or close to attaining your grails too... the hunt or quest for it is great but attaining it is something else...

variants to this view is folks with (1) multiple grails i.e. a grail list or grail collection to obtain (2) a grail after every grail... these definitions are not for me...

the watch itself...

it is a perpetual calendar & it knows which months have how many days and accounts for leap years (except for once every 100 years, where the leap year has no 29feb). in case you’re wondering if its difficult to set, it took me all of 5minutes to adjust it to the right date day time leap year indication. its easy to read all the information off the dials too…

what else does it have going for it?

its made by quite an amazing man. a true artist and maverick of the watch world. most of the independents faced difficulties in the paths they have chosen and it was no different for Vianney. setting out from France to Switzerland and coming up with the prototype of the antiqua in 1998 after years of surviving on watch servicing and commissions from the big brands...

all antiquas are unique as they are mostly made by hand and with most of its parts all done in his manufacture. the dial engravings, the blueing of hands, the case work, all the finishing done by real people or himself at his atelier... it imbues a certain life, a certain imperfect transcendant quality to the machine... it is a seminal piece for the independents and from an aesthetics standpoint, it is most wonderful to me...

its a kind of magic...
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wristshot... 2 mates who have seen it have commented that its small as they thought it to be bigger from the pics they had seen of it... its not huge and shouty... and the size is perfect to me... not loud but speaks volumes...
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The Antiqua and The Classic with very similar DNA...
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joined here by Le Freak...
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in its wonderful box cum winder... functional and beautiful...
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Friday, 7 August 2009

a significant moment on any collectors' journey...the acquisition of a grail...the antiqua

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if u ever read love in the time of cholera (by gabriel garcia marquez and u should...) it speaks of a man's lifelong passion and love for a woman... he is unable to get her out of his mind. he has to be with her. he has to lie with her... he thinks of her and the life that she lives... married to a man different from him...and he longs for her...to hold her and to love her...

in life, we have passions that drive us other than the one of finding of our life partner... in our journeys, in searching for meaning, in our pursuits, we invariably come to points where we come across something special... and they connect with us, they call to us... for me my journey into horology began with questions of values and the perception of it in timepieces...somehow along the way, i woke up one day with a collection...

but the most significant highlights of the journey are moments such as these... i have quested for this, slayed fire-breathing dragons and spoken to kings in distant lands, sorcerors and wizards in my quest for the grail...(metaphorically speaking yuh :) and as i wipe the grime away from my blood stained brow and chain mail, a smile begins as the light of dawn gets steadily brighter... i have the antiqua in my hands...

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part II coming up soon... for all Singaporean readers, a Happy National Day :) cheers, raph

Thursday, 6 August 2009

the boyz are back in town... GTG with the boyz

"guess who just got back today? Them wild-eyed boys that had been away...But man, I still think them cats are crazy...Spread the word around...Guess who's back in town... i said The boys are back in town... The boys are back in town..." the boyz are back in town by thin lizzy


some IWCs came together at a nice little Japanese restaurant in Wheelock place this week... its a shame that these beautiful dials aren't in the IWC range any longer and that the script has dissapeared from their dials...
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the watch on the left belongs to an IWC expert here on Singapore shores. his dial is a standard color throughout and mine is a two-tone dial where the inner part is a slightly darker shade
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table shot... as can be expected from any proper WIS GTG :) hmm we have some dress watches here... Journe, IWCs, a GP alarm, Lange 1815, a Pam 232 with an IWC pocket watch attachment ;) a fortis flieger and a ulysse nardin... i tot i didn't like all other UNs other than the Freak but this one is mighty nice...
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a minty new omega ploprof that was just collected, Rolexes, the king of watches ;) a daytona, an explorer and a gmtIIc... a mighty nice royal oak, the city of sails and a MIH...
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the city of sails one more time...
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another look at the very nice UN :)
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and the lovely IWCs
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wristshots... whoever said 34mm was too small? :)
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and finally a shot of the boyz... its been awhile since we caught up so this was a very fun and fine nite :)
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ciao, raph

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

OT: drop dead gorgeous... u sexy thing u ;)

the last episode of top gear season 13 rolled up... one car that was mentioned in the last episode was the replacement for the ferrari f430...the f458 italia... 4.5-litre direct injection V8. 325kmh top speed. 0-100 in less than 3.4 seconds...


just look at it... it is a thing of beauty... fine italian art :)
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but as Season 13 comes to an end, we will once again be relegated to going through our top gear archives for great episodes in past seasons... some of my fave eps of the last 4 seasons are as follows:

- S10 Ep1: Porsche 911 GT3 RS vs. Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera vs. Aston Martin V8 Vantage N24 as they go to find the greatest driving road in the World.
- S10 Ep 10: BMW M3 vs. Mercedes C63 AMG vs. Audi RS4 shootout... with a fantastic ending...
- S11 Ep 4&5: Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione looked amazing in Ep4 & Nissan GT-R was fantastic and was in both episodes
- S11 Ep6: the British (Top Gear) vs. The Germans (D Motor) showdown was just great. Richard's bad winner act and stig-james trouncing them in the aston martin jus great. Jay Kay's drive in a reasonably priced car was cool and his interview interesting... slightly weird but interesting ;) gumpert being fastest until season 13 was cool too...
- S12Ep2: the boyz go to the USA and drive some muscle cars... James in a Cadillac CTSV, Jeremy drives the Corvette ZR1 and Richard drives a Dodge Challenger... Jeremy also drives the Abarth-tuned Fiat 500 (which Schumi drives in real life yuh)... a fun episode ;)
- S12Ep5: Lexus IS F vs the BMW M3 Saloon... & the Ferrari Daytona in Saint-Tropez... a slice of heaven no? :)
- S13Ep1: that whole show about michael being the stig... priceless :) and of course the outrageous ferrari fxx
- S13Ep2: Richard Hammond goes up against the Merc SL Black in a Lamborghini Murcielago SV and theres a race between a Bugatti Veyron and a McLaren F1. How cool is that? :)

stiggie... the best driver ever? on the top gear track, most definitely :)
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i love ferraris, which boy doesn't? but they i.e. all supercars and hypercars cost the earth in singapore... well ok a house(the type of house varies of course... some much nicer and in better districts than others) and if u read clarkson's great article entitled 'supercars' he says that it more or less says to women that the man driving it is either "(a) married (b) having a mid-life crises (c) has a penis measurable only with the assistance of a microscope" to quote mr. clarkson or it could be all 3 no? :) oh and by the way, jeremy has had a ferrari 355 and lamborghini gallardo before... hmm... [as a watch enthusiast, i think i know what kinda watches the folks that fall in (c) wear too :) they would have to be HUGE no? :)]

james may's article on owning a fezza, eg the f430, just once in your life though has also got me thinking... maybe i can get an old beat up scud one day... in a nearby country where they cost much less :) or something louder like a gallardo or smoother like the r8... or perhaps getting something more practical in a nearer country where car prices don't involve the sale of vital body parts? i could consider an r8, a dbs, a m3 or a gtr possibly?... hmm i tink i actually may be closer to a fiat 500 quite honestly, not even the abarth version :)

one other thing to note about most supercars though... i am not a slim athletic built type chap and getting in and out of the low slung supercars can be challenging and in worst cases undignified... hmm should I adopt the lotus position or the kneeled praying position ;) ok signing up for yoga lessons and weight loss may help to this end...

another thing mentioned in this season 13's last episode was felipe massa... sad to see him involved in such a crazy accident and i too would like to wish him a speedy recovery... on the other hand, i am also happy that schumi has decided to fill his seat for possibly the rest of the season... as someone who used to enjoy watching f1 and a tifosi, michael was just amazing to watch... some of the drives he did put him in a different class to the rest of the field and this is supposed to be the highest field there is... i hope to catch either him or both of them when the singapore f1 swings around...

here's wishing him all the best in his recovery... pic of us taken about a year back...
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Saturday, 1 August 2009

small can be beautiful... the acquisition of a charming lil beauty...

a fantastic cal 83 movement with incabloc beats inside this lovely timepiece...
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The obsession with big watches...

size has been a lot in focus with watches for the past decade and even more so in recent years. we've seen the march towards big watches being very much the norm now not only in sports watches but also in dress watches, its all been marching down the big watch path... sports watches have gone from 40mm to 44mm to 47mm to 55mm to 'one shudders to even consider it' sizes. the dress watches moving from 31-35mm in the past to current typical sizes of 38mm-42mm to 44mm and gulp... more...

Now i love my larger sized watches yuh but sometimes some watches have gone a bit TOO BIG... my view is that specific watches should be a certain size (well different people have different size preferences of course) or are just right being a certain size. An example is for clean simple dialled watches as if its too big it looks kinda like a big dish on your wrist. even for sporty watches, there is a limit relative to size of the wearer but for the majority of folks not built like AHHNuld or Sly, the max is probably 47mm.

taking relativity into account, a watch with its lugs extending beyond your wrist when looked at flat on is just comical. either you bulk up or you look at the smaller watches yuh. this advice is so you don't make a horse's behind of yerself :)

yes even the mighty Royal Oak Offshore sits pretty fine on my 7 & 1/3 inch wrist (to me at least :)
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was there another target?... yup there was :) two actually...

the nicely sized 38mm patek 5296G sector dial was also on my very short list for a dress watch. I was in 2 minds about this as it was appealing but for one or two shortcomings. first off the biggest issue with it which was the price. in Singapore it lists for S$34,800 and if it sold with a discount of 20% we're still looking at a price of S$27,840 thereabouts and honestly thats just too damn high for a nice simple watch. there was a time this piece was selling in the very low 20s. i think the overbuying from some rich tourists from neighbouring countries may have boosted demand and subsequently prices for this and other pateks in Singapore...

even a Richard Lange, which was not on the list coz of its 40mm diameter and lugs which extended out a fair bit, is going for a rather high S$29/30k with all the discounts by Sincere as they drop out of Authorised Distributorship for Lange and The Hour Glass picks it up...

Second big problem for the 5296G is that date aperture. its like someone asked the question, how do we spoil this wonderful dial... i don't even like the font used for the date wheel...

Patek 5296G Sector Dial... a could have been... a possible kwisatch haderack ;)
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potential target number two was this lovely piece... the vacheron constantin patrimony traditionelle with the new in-house 4400 movement & geneva sealed

the first problem with this piece was that theres like only one that came and i believe it got sold in a flash. i could put my name down for it, place a deposit and wait, all of which are not my fave things to do... when theres an itch i want to be able to scratch it u know wat i mean? :)

but the big problem with it though is that i would prefer it in a white metal, which for this range would most likely have to be white gold. my current preference for dressy watches is for it to be in a white metal as my slightly louder artpieces are in rose gold currently. more rose could be too much of a good thing...

list at S$23,100 means that its starting at a decent price... wouldn't be surprised if next sihh announces it in white metal and maybe even yellow gold and plat? perhaps... but then delivery again might take awhile=interminable wait
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Unveiling the acquisition then... drumroll please...
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u won't be able to guess this...
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even if you had like 3-5 tries :) ...
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i give you then... the 34mm Vintage IWC Cal 83 sector dial ;)

a beautiful sector dial, makes it extremely easy to read the time. wonderfully proportioned sectors and minute track. simple art deco arabic numerals brings it all together perfectly...
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it bears or should i say the dufour simplicity arabics dial bears some resemblance to this dial... of course the dufour is breathtakingly amazing but its out of my league currently... maybe one day... the roman dial one with breguet hands... one can dream :)
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so what does it have going for it?
  • There is no chopped off 6 – the chopped off numbers on some watches (not all watches mind you) just put me off BIG time. The good thing on this is that there is no mutilated numbers (eg. some have their sides chopped off, tops chopped off, bottoms chopped off etc) eg. Lange 1815 has a chopped up 6. some of the new portugiesers have chopped off numerals as well.
no decapitated 6 in sight... nice :)
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  • There is no date aperture – the last thing you need on a clean simple dial is a hole with a date. The key aesthetic issue with the 5296G.
  • It has a wonderful full bridge movement (read more about this lower down)
  • It has a great sector dial and railway minute track that makes reading the time soo easy
  • Its in a white metal, my preferred color for the dressy watches
  • It has the 'International Watch Company' in script on the dial as shown below instead of the modern IWC's "IWC" in capitalised letters...
this is soooooo much nicer than the "IWC" upper case letters in modern IWCs...
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Downsides of this piece in particular?

If i were forced to find one... hmmm... well, Its kinda old, uhm about 64 years old to be correct and may be due for a servicing soon... BUT it is keeping pretty decent time which is very cool :) note though that i am not an accuracy freak. for folks who are, just get a quartz watch ok. anything less than 3minutes a day deviance is fine with me even though most of my watches do much much better than that. this has a 1 plus minute a day deviance as far as i can tell...

ooh u sexy thing u... the beauty of this movement is so apparent...
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A bit about the IWC Calibre 83 then...

The highly regarded IWC Calibre 83 manual wind movement began life in 1936. The movement in my watch is signed “International Watch Co” with movement identifier C83. The C83 was the same one used in the Royal Air Force Mk X issued timepieces. This watch is likely to be from 1945 based on its movement and case number [this was obtained using the wonderful "DateYourIWC" program, google to get to it]. A small 12 ligne, 18,000vph movement, it was produced in 1930s and 40s, has an elegant six-bridge design and was one of the first wristwatch calibers and it shows as its similar to the refined IWC pocketwatch calibres of the time like the 95 and 98. The one in my watch features incabloc shock resistance and is rarer than the ones without it.

Do read these 2 fantastic articles which make mention of the Cal 83...

and the verdict... we have a winner!

This is a fantastic acquisition. Aesthetics matter to me and this watch is just great looking. I also get a very nice full bridge movement from a wonderful brand with a great history for a fraction of the price of other contemporary simple watches...

Although it's a bit small for todays tastes I am very happy with it. I think size of the watch is eventually more about your state of mind and wrist size so i am happy that i am very comfortable with this strapped on and happy that my taste has led me to this wonderful piece. All said, its a charming lil winner and a very rare one at that as i have yet to come across a similar watch :)

a simple and beautiful vintage
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a sense of perspective of the size on my 7 & 1/3 inch wrist... the 38mm fp journe on my wrist first...
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and the dainty iwc on my wrist next... not too shabby huh :)
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side by side next to another wonderfully well proportioned modern dress watch... the 38mm Journe Octa reserve de marche... 2 wonderful pieces... i think i'm done with dressy watches for a bit :) oh and notice how the lug lengths are about the same even with the difference in diameter. this does make a significant difference yuh
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i hope u enjoyed this post of my latest precious :) cheers, raph

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