Sunday, 29 November 2009

a marriage of art, science and some magic… the enthralling creations of greubel forsey…

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The following post is a short report from some time I had with two amazing timepieces by Greubel Forsey... My thanks to their excellent Marketing & Communications team and the fine folks at Yafriro in Singapore for this.

Greubel Forsey is a high end watch manufacture producing some of the most exceptional and exclusive timepieces in the world today. From my short journey in learning more about them, to my knowledge, their philosophy is on inventing innovative and new mechanisms in horlogerie, as evident in their pursuit of inventing relevant tourbillon systems for the wrist watch, which will actually contribute to its accuracy and chonometrie [as most watch enthusiasts know, the main purpose of the tourbillon in its original form was to negate the effects of gravitational pull in the vertical position for pocket watches as it was worn in that manner].

In this pursuit, they first came out with the Double Tourbillon 30° at Baselworld in 2004 (which has a second carriage inclined at 30° placed inside the first carriage), followed by the Quadruple Tourbillon Differential in 2005 and the Tourbillon 24 sec incline in 2006, creating what many, myself included, view as highly sophisticated mechanical wonders.

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In the metal, these watches are pretty spectacular. they have a nice substantial feeling, a certain lustrousness to them, a solidity in the hand and on the wrist. An impressive aesthetic all round… the fine hand finishing of the frosted bridges married with wonderful beveled edges and black polish, speculaire combined in the harmonious architecture of its movement… and the dance of its ‘whirlwinds’… magnificent…

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So who is responsible for crafting these fine testaments to contemporary horological art and science? Two gents from very different backgrounds… one from Alsace, France and one from St. Albans, England. One the son of a watchmaker and the other with a grandfather who worked in Bentley and Rolls Royce and a father who was an industrial chemist … their worlds came together when Robert brought Stephen into his team at AP Renaud et Papi and the rest of it? Well, its history in the making :) Recent deserved winners in the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève 2009 [Double Tourbillon “Technique” was awarded with the “Best Complicated” prize during the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie in Genève 2009 and the Quadruple Tourbillon won the “Best Complicated watch” at the 2009 Asian edition] and a 2009 Prix Gaïa at the MIH for the 'Esprit d'entreprise', i think its safe to say that they will be receiving a lot more awards & plaudits in the future… [one to keep a look out for is the Chronometrie 2009 competition organized by the Watchmaking Museum in Le Locle with results out 3 Dec 2009… the results of this will be most interesting, whoever wins it…]

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[ click to read the rest of the post... expand or collapse ]

The photos here then are of watches that exemplify mechanical excellence, fantastic finishing and are horological wonders to me. My hats off to the dynamic and passionate team at Greubel Forsey in their pursuit of excellence and breakthroughs in mechanical art and I look forward to further acquainting myself with them and their magnificent creations.


the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Incliné with a high angular velocity single inclined ultra-light tourbillon cage...
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next the Quadruple Tourbillon a Différentiel Sphérique...with its four tourbillons connected by a spherical differential which supplies the energy and allows for the mean average timekeeping result of the four tourbillons working together
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tempted to walk out the shop with this one or the lovely rose gold black dial version but then i caught sight of the price tag...lets just say that rarity, exclusivity does come at a price & rightly so... ;)
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Other worthwhile references

A short video about Greubel Forsey…


& some wonderful movement videos by Ian Skellern...the Quadruple Tourbillon à Différentiel Sphérique


the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Incliné by Greubel Forsey


& another video of a greubel forsey’s movements


A fair amount of info on the brand can be found on their site too of course click here... and on the horomundi greubel forsey forum moderated by the inimitable Ian Skellern

Friday, 27 November 2009

some time with vincent calabrese... a great watchmaker & creator

[before i begin this post, i would like to extend my thanks to the fine team at sincere watch academy & also mention my congrats to its new and very capable COO ;) thanks also to the fine folks at blancpain that came by to share with us today...]

before this nite, i knew a couple of things about mr. vincent calabrese based on the net and what i had read... i knew that he has made some very interesting watches eg. in the NHC series, the tourbillons, and the spatial watches which u could see a lot of the movement of... and of course that he is the creator of the golden bridge for corum... [for some pics of i took of this watch, click here]... I knew he was a founding father of the AHCI (the academy for independent watchmakers with many fine watchmakers in its membership) and the independent tag suits him to a T as he was from many many years back, doing things his way... coupled with an innovative mind and self taught technical know how, he has conceived some amazing creations in the last 20+ years...

raphmeister meeting with a great innovative watchmaker...
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tonight he was most kind to share with us about the 'Carrousel Volant Une Minute' that he helped Blancpain realise... this movement has a couple of 1sts under its belt... its somewhere on the net and don't be pedantic about it yuh if i get it wrong :) but its i believe the first automatic flying 1min Carrousel tourbillon in a wristwatch and the 1st with a centrally located balance...

a very nice looking tourbillon... the Blancpain Carrousel Volant Une Minute Watch

ok back to the night first... on reaching, i had a chance to enjoy the grub provided at swa :) some of the makan items were pretty good indeed... yummy
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photos of the crowd mingling and chowing down... familiar faces...
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and grabbed a pic with some mates of mine :) the boyz were down in force...
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then we had mr. calabrese give us an interesting presentation on the different styles of the tourbillon... or was he assembling one one-handed? hmmm ;)
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he was ably helped by another fine italian gent as he was speaking in italian and that would be uhm... italian to the majority of the non-italian speaking audience... hey, wait a moment...
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its my mate massi! professori by day and horology lover by nite...last seen coming up with a judging system for the grand prix d'horlogerie de geneve asia.. now taking on the role of translator it appears... a talent indeed... thanks massi for helping out in translating my questions and mr calabrese's answers to them... most appreciated mate :)
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i also had a chance to have a chat with Andre Meier, Head of International Sales... it was a most enjoyable conversation about blancpain's watches, innovations, past leaders and current structure... we spoke too of China's ascendancy in the wealth stakes & luxury products coming quick on its heels... he mentioned that Blancpain's positioning in this key market is a strong one and its up there in the top 3 with some other strong brands steeped in history... a most enjoyable chat with a knowledgeable man...
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some other watches from blancpain were around as well... bling wif a tourbillon... a hefty price tag on this one of course...Photobucket

flyback chrono, perpetual calendar, moon phase... not sure if the correctors allowing for adjustment to the perp calendar are hidden behind the lugs for this piece but wanted to remark that that is a most useful innovation on blancpain watches...
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tourbillon semainier, indication of the weeks, grande date... my photos do no justice to this... its much nicer in the metal...
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the goody bag contained the usual catalogues but also had a very nice magazine from blancpain called lettres du brassus which i haven't read as yet but a quick skim through shows it to have some pretty interesting articles... jeffrey kingston seems to be writing a fair bit for them...

to close this off, i wanted to bring the focus back to mr. calabrese... before tonite i was also aware that he had joined blancpain and that he would no longer be an 'independent' in the sense of having and running his own atelier... when i first heard about it, it had saddened me to a degree as it seemed that he had given up freedom and independence but after speaking with him today and with the team from blancpain, it does make a lot of sense for all involved...

mr. calabrese has the benefit of doing what he loves in research & design... in creating new wonders in horology and can leverage off the resources that can be availed to him from a brand like blancpain, which is part of the swatch group. at the same time the challenges of being an independent brand of making and selling his own watches will not weigh down on him and he can focus on the former but within an established brand... i wish him much success at blancpain and kudos to the team there for having the foresight of engaging this fine watchmaker and gentleman.

& to sign off, if u're reading mr. calabrese, my sincere wish to you for many happy years ahead creating, inventing & dreaming.. twas a pleasure meeting u sir :) cheers, raph

for more info on sincere watch academy and events that it does... click here

for more info on blancpain, click here google is your friend with drawing out more info on them and mr. calabrese of course :)

Monday, 23 November 2009

OT: no i can't give u a ferrari for Christmas but...

i can point you to something cool :) click here and configure the version u want... the raphmeister fezza is a wip...
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first unveiled at the frankfurt motor show 2009 and winning the car of the show award and embedding itself in the hearts and minds of all the boyz who love the prancing horse... the 458 italia... it is glorious.. some folks have commented on the rear and the triple exhaust tailpipes and the stick out rear lights... all of which is slightly ott but to me it actually all looks pretty good especially when its going so bloody fast ;)

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check these vids out... & start saving for it ;)




Downforce = the stuff that keeps your 458 on the ground and not in the tree ;) Ferrari says that at 200kph (124mph) the 458 generates 140kg of downforce!!! planted i believe is the word :)

the 458 is ferrari's latest mid-engined supercar rear wheel drive v8, combining aerospace alloys with a Pininfarina design... direct injection 4.5-liter V8 pumping out 563 horses, good for a 0-to-62 MPH sprint under 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 202 MPH.

in terms of other owners of this fine beast... michael schumacher, fernando alonso and i hear cristiano ronaldo is hot for it... trust me a lot of wankers will own one :) but its cool, most have earned their way into the hallowed halls of ultimate wank-dom... but of course there are non-wankish owners... one can dream to be one of them... the 458 Italia will be going on sale early next year with prices expected to be around the £150,000 mark in the UK... in singapore i would peg it around the S$8-900k range or 2.5-3ish times more (why does it increase to such a crazy price when breathing singapore air? why!!!!???)

the 458 also boasts some ‘green credentials’ with the supercar averaging a claimed 21.2mpg and emitting 307g/km of carbon dioxide. This may not sound too impressive but to put it into perspective, the slightly slower and less powerful F430 emits 420g/km and averages 15.4mpg... uhm... whatever...

a good writeup of it can be found here & last pics... sigh... jus look at those curves... a thing of beauty... prepare to want one & sell the house if need be ;)

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ok ok... and one pic in traditional red :)
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Thursday, 19 November 2009

best watches in different price ranges... some gift ideas ;)

doing this before the year end so that it gives folks ideas for watch gifts depending on budget. a Happy Thanksgiving, Hari Raya Haji, Christmas and New Year in advance ;)


[note this is just noting the stuffs dat cool or nice to me yuh. u make the call on purchases for yourself or for others... also i wanted to make this wider so i am noting watches that are good as well and not just the great & kickass i.e. just the stuff i would buy personally] nuff said, lets get on wif it :) additional note: at time of posting US$1 = S$1.40 thereabouts... (po) noted next to the watch means pre-owned.

seikos the spirit range and the diver style watches (sumos, samurais) could be checked out. some swatches, some starck designed fossils if still available and definitely check out the g-shocks :) [ I would say NO TO REPLICAS AND HOMMAGES(which is most of the time just a fancy-schmancy way of calling a replica and no it doesn't make it 'not a replica'... as the FHH says, fakes are for fake people]

i may want to buy a seiko... it would be my 1st after a long time... this spirit looks pretty damn good though... (pic sourced from the world wide web)
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if budget is an issue a good watch book could be considered... if the recipient is into rolex, there are a number of rolex related books out there... want to build a watch? - check out george daniel's book... love independents... get the book i recommended below this post, michael clerizo's Masters of Contemporary Watchmaking... check out kinokuniya watch section or amazon for ideas...

for the S$1-5k range - i would go vintage or small independent outfits...

pre-owned modern or vintage iwcs / jlcs / omegas / heuers / blancpains / longines / lower end rolexes etc, sinn tempus and other sinns, azimuth roulette watch, longines legend diver, stowa marine original...

the best choice for me would be these beauties from iwc... for a fair bit less than a grand seiko this is a no brainer...
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S$5-10k - Rolex rules this important category

Rolex Sub and GMT watches, milgauss gv, panerai pam zero logo and other panerais eg. the new ones with manifaturra movement, Gerald Genta Mickey Fantasy series(po), Vintage Omega Speedmaster with Calibre 321 (nouvelle lemania 2310) and other omegas in the current and vintage range, MIH...

the king of steel sports watches with a strong resale value drawing in the masses....
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the best sports chrono? well definitely up there with the zenith daytona but at less than half the price... i would get them now while they're still fantastic value for $$$
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S$10-20k - some icons to select from

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15300 or 15202 (Jumbo), Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore (po) White Rubberclad / Black themes etc, rolex daytona, iwc big pilot, jlc reversos / master compressors etc a lot of good choices here, iwc portuguese and vintage and others in the modern iwc range, Gerald Genta Gefica Safari, Breguet La Tradition(po), vh classic (po)

the futur anterieur collection... only the classic can be had for >S$20k pre-owned or brand new above S$20k from the hour glass... whatever it is, a vianney is a must have in any collection in my personal opinion ;) haha
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[ click to read the rest of the post... expand or collapse ]

S$20-50k - getting pretty serious now... looking for some keepers and fine pieces...

patek philippe annual calendars, corum golden bridge or ti-bridges, vc 1921 american or contemporaine sub seconds, vh goldpfeil (po) or classic (po), Peter Speake Marin piccadilly, shimoda, or rg serpent 42mm (this one i may want next year :) iwc portuguese jubilee, rolex yg daytona or everose gold, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak La Boutique NY or Offshore Bumblebee, FP Journe Octa Reserve de Marche or Chronometre Souverain, Lange 1 / 1815 / Datograph (po), Moser 1

peter speake marin has some lovely pieces and this one, the serpent calendar caught my eye the last we met...
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from the established brands... i like the bumblebee for sporty...
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and this vc for dressy... very nice...
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S$50-100k - the "u've been a very good boy and i want to get u someting very nice this year" category

mb&f 2 & 3, patek 5070G, un freaks, dufour simplicity, select patek philippe perpetual calendars, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Quantieme Perpetualle Squelette(po), Offshore Rubens Barichello II Ti and End of Days, FP Journe Resonance, Rolex Daytonas(the pricier ones), Kari Voutilainen Observatoire

a perfect dress chrono
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a lovely KV piece... customisable dials do the trick...
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a possible buy for the raphmeister in 2010? hmm....
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but if u don't want modern... have a gander at this ;) of course the paul newman models rule too, unfortunately i havent had the chance to take pics of those ones...
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>S$100 or the "thanks for the harry winston darling and heres one to go with your ferrari" category

Vianney Halter Antiqua, Harry Winston Opus III and V, Offerings from Greubel Forsey (eg. Invention Pieces, Quad Tourbillon etc), Philippe Dufour (eg. Sonneries), Kari Voutilainen (eg. Decimal Repeater), FP Journe (eg. Dead Seconds, Black Mother of Pearl dial beauties), Patek Philippe Grand Complications, Audemars Piguet Cabinet and Concept series, Richard Mille Tourbillons (eg. RM9, RM12, oh and the RM19... ), JLC Gyro-Tourbillon II, Maitres du Temps Chapter 1 Black, Cabestan...

greubel forsey quadruple tourbillon... horological art...
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3 top choices from 3 price brackets above...
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the 5970P... if u have $150-200k lying around, do yourself a favor and buy a 5970... white gold or platinum would be my choices...
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and the best ladies watch this year for the oil baron or hedge fund manager to consider for the mrs ;) the richard mille RM 019... celtic knot ladies tourbillion
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to end off what is it you would add or subtract to the above categories? I will refine the list if i agree with your recommendations ;) have a great end of the year... cheers, raph

Saturday, 14 November 2009

a lazy sunday and a good book in my hand... quickie review: Masters of Contemporary Watchmaking

i was interested in checking this out when i first heard of it. it features some great living watchmakers such as George Daniels, Philippe Dufour, Vianney Halter, Vincent Calabrese and more. i haven't read it all yet of course because its HUGE and is close to 300 pages but i like what i have read and seen so far. for folks who are interested to learn more about these watchmakers do check it out, i got mine at kinokuniya in ngee ann city but i believe borders has it too. cheers, raph

a very nice daniels movement on the cover...
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check out the watchmakers that are featured within...
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one of the pages has a picture of a horological work of art...
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Thursday, 12 November 2009

A Masterpiece of Horological Art... Vianney Halter Antiqua

so its been a couple of months of ownership now... [click here see the post when i first got it :)] what has the reaction been?

i do have a lot of people, 'folks on the street' giving it stares. sometimes i watch them watchin it and sometimes you just sense it... recently in a lift heading down, a colleague whom i have not met before steps in and says 'wow! thats a cool watch' and we start talking about this wonderful timepiece and about its maker, a French watch making genius... Vianney Halter, as we head down... other colleagues have commented too of course, the usual 'that looks interesting' 'that looks cool' etc... at a camera shop, the sales lady serving me seemed more interested to talk about it then the camera i was looking at... and the list of chance opportunities for me to share about it grows and grows...

a common 1st response from other watch loving mates who have seen pics of it on the net but not in the metal, as its a relatively rare beauty, is 'it looks much bigger in pictures' or 'i thought it was bigger' and one can't really blame them... check out the pictures below and you may think its the size of your PC monitor ;) but for me personally, its 'not-so-huge' size is wonderful. its further testament to its beauty... it doesn't have to be shouty, like the look-at-me racket of some wrist clocks out there. this is wonderful as it is... this is perfect... (to me at least :) the subtleness extends to the movement as well... simple and pure... and not trying at all and in that way succeeding in being mesmerizing with its mysterious rotor...

Kari Voutilainen noticed it when we met and commented how he really loved this piece, his eyes lighting up when we talked about it. Peter Speake Marin had much praise and echoed my views of Vianney and this watch when we had a chance to chat over a cup of tea. At my recent meetup with Max and Alain, Alain had mentioned to me how much he liked this piece and Max shared his wonderful story of seeking out Vianney after seeing this watch of his... the Opus 3 tale being one that will have a happy ending for a number of lucky owners. it may be realised by others but it was conceived and dreamed up by 2 of horology's greats in our time. an utterly relevant work of horological art.

but this is the center of all of it... this watch... a masterpiece... in case u are still wondering what i think about owning this, let me just say this... it never fails to make me dream...

a few simple pics to share with other lovers of timepieces as art below...

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i love to watch things on zoo tv... satellite of love...
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[ click to get another antiqua wallpaper ;) ]

to have your desktop looking like the raphmeisters... save this and make it your desktop background... only in 1680 * 1050 though

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