Monthly Archives: January 2017

audemars piguet royal oak extra thin caseback



At the SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie – International Fine Watchmaking Exhibition), the Le Brassus firm presented two new, extra-thin benchmark pieces with yellow gold cases – one of them also has a dial in yellow gold – in the Royal Oak collection, paying homage to their predecessors of 1972 and 1977.

In 1972, 45 years ago, a future legend was born; a luxury sports watch in steel radically different from the timepieces of the period: the Royal Oak. Designed by Gérald Genta (1931-2011), one of the greatest designers in the history of modern watchmaking, this new piece, topped with an octagonal bezel attached with eight hexagonal screws, appeared in yellow gold for the first time in 1977. This coloured metal, which suffered a decline towards the end of the 1990s and was abandoned in favour of white or rose gold, made a comeback less than two years ago. Indeed in 2016 at the SIHH, Audemars Piguet presented several Royal Oak watches in yellow gold (the quartz models, automatic models and those with the chronograph function) which enjoyed great success. The Le Brassus factory is renewing this experience this year with two new Royal Oak Extra-Thin watches.

audemars piguet royal oak extra thin caseback

Glowing like the sun, the case of this Royal Oak Extra-Thin watch in yellow gold measures 39mm in diameter (like its predecessor of 1972) by 8mm thick. Like the original Royal Oak of 1972, it has the 2121 calibre, manufactured by Audemars Piguet. This self-winding, mechanical movement measures the hours, minutes and date, and provides a power reserve of around 40 hours.

The dial is available in two colours on this model: a slightly paler blue than the usual shade which goes beautifully with the warmth of the gold, and an intensely-luminous, golden champagne colour which is reminiscent of the elegant watches of the Seventies. These two faces decorated with the “petite tapisserie” motif – the famous checkerboard textured pattern particular to the Royal Oak collection – hold an hour rim made up of luminescent markers. Two hands placed in the centre, also outlined in phosphorescent material, display the hours and the minutes, while the date appears in a display at the 3 o’clock position.

Price: 50,130 CHF

By Sharmila Bertin

omega speedmaster automatic closeup



The Bienne-based watchmaker has sped powerfully into 2017 and presents us with its new perfectly-tuned, black and orange-adorned time-keeping opus.

Omega’s Speedmaster collection is a treasure chest of iconic timepieces, like the legendary Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch – whose ceramic variations have been an outstanding hit – and other ever-so seductively-designed models like the Speedmaster ’57, the Speedmaster Racing and the Speedmaster Mark II. The design of the latter’s dual-level minute tracker, originally created in 1968, has integrated the new Speedmaster Automatic.

omega speedmaster automatic closeup

The Speedmaster Automatic case, housing this engine, is designed in steel and has a diameter of 44.25 mm. It is topped with a black ceramic bezel that boasts a Liquidmetal® tachymetric scale. This celebrated yet atypical minute tracker runs around the black dial flange. The hour chapter comprises luminescent arrow-shaped white gold indexes. The hours and minutes are displayed in the centre by two bright orange-varnished hands, a colour that also adorns the small second hand (at 9 o’clock) and the squares crowing the indexes. It is also used on the tip of the chronograph’s white direct-drive; the chronograph hours and minutes are clustered in a totalizer (at 3 o’clock) and are equipped with white hands. The date ticks over at the bottom of the dial at 6 o’clock.

Omega’s new model is proposed with a black leather, punch-patterned strap, lined with orange rubber.

Price: CHF 8,400

By Sharmila Bertin

tissot ballade both



The Locle-located brand has integrated a definite must into its Powermatic 80: silicon, an element that boasts cardinal qualities and that now features in Tissots T-Classic Ballade collection.

The silicon balance-spring, which Breguet introduced into its watch collections in 2006 and led other Swatch Group Prestige range brands to follow suit (Blancpain, Omega and Jaquet Droz), has now become indispensable. This element brings clear advantages to watchmaking through its lightness, its lifespan and its great resistance to shock, corrosion, magnetic fields and warping. Tissot, the Swatch Group’s high-volume brand, now benefits from this major technological breakthrough and incorporates a silicon balance-spring in its Powermatic 80 calibre which drives the Ballade collection.

tissot ballade both

Ballade – a name that adds a touch of romanticism and conjures up lyrical poems from the Middle Ages – proposes timepieces for both ladies and gents. The 32 or 41 mm-diameter “bare” steel cases or including PVD-coated yellow or rose gold bezels host the Powermatic 80 calibre that now embraces a silicon balance-spring. This self-winding mechanical movement, developed several years ago hand-in-hand with ETA and chronometer-certified by the COSC (the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute), powers the time functions and the calendar. But, it’s this engine’s autonomy that stands out and wows: 80 hours!

The Ballade model’s black dial alternates the different textures concentrically. The centre is decorated with a disc carved with a motif that is a mix between the Clous de Paris and a honeycomb structure and is reproduced on the bezel. The disc is encircled by a grained-finished ring that features the chapter ring embellished with silvered applique indexes and Arabic numerals; then, a black ring, close to the flange, hosts the minute tracker printed in white. This dial’s heart clasps two Dauphine hands indicating the hours and minutes and a direct-drive ticking away the seconds. The date is displayed in a silver-bevelled aperture at 3 o’clock.

Tissot’s small Ballade model embraces the same set-up and decoration but is proposed with a white mother-of-pearl dial centre.

Price not indicated

By Sharmila Bertin

cartier drive extra plat both views



As is the case at the beginning of each year for the SIHH, the Parisian company has presented a whole host of new timepieces, including an ultra-slim and elegant version of the Drive model.

Let’s be honest: despite campaigns strongly (not to say solely) aimed at men, Cartier’s Drive model is in fact a watch that would adorn a woman’s wrist as much as a man’s. As someone who wore one when it was first launched in 2016, and again this year for the Salon International de Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), I can confirm that the Drive is completely unisex. And I don’t exactly have a massive wrist.

cartier drive extra plat both views

For this 27th SIHH, Cartier has designed a slim, pure version of this piece, simply baptised Drive Extra-Flat. Its cushion-shaped case is 38mm by 39mm and under 7mm thick, and is available in white gold (limited to 200 pieces) or pink gold. The case contains the 430 MC calibre, a manual winding movement driving the hours and minutes, while providing a power reserve of about 40 hours.

On the silver dial with satin and sunburst finishes, the black minute track is displayed in the centre, where the two sword-shaped blue-tinted hands show the hours and minutes. They move across an hour marker featuring black Roman figures, in characteristic Cartier style. There’s no second hand – simply the essentials of time.

Price: 14,600 CHF (Rose Gold) and 15,700 CHF (White Gold)

By Sharmila Bertin

montblanc timewalker chronograph closeup



Montblanc’s urban collection has seen a change in lifestyle, so to speak, and now focuses on sport and speed, but without losing its dynamic and designer look. A contemporary homage to the chronographs that have been making the Manufacture Minerva’s reputation since 1908.

With Davide Cerrato’s appointment at the head of Montblanc’s Watch division, the Hamburg brand’s watch collections have been the subject of changes, with notably a new market position oriented towards sports watches. After bronze was introduced into the 1858 range, it’s now the turn of the TimeWalker to get a new look in both aesthetic and mechanical terms. This redefinition of the product epitomises the total merger between Montblanc and the Manufacture Minerva, providing it with more character, while maintaining a very reasonable price range.

Among the new Montblanc timepieces on display at the 27th Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), two sports watches attracted attention with their design, their complications and their affordable prices: the TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic and the TimeWalker Chronograph UTC.

montblanc timewalker chronograph closeup

Driven by the MB 25.07 automatic calibre that provides a power reserve of 46 hours and powers the chronograph and date functions, the TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic model features a 43 mm steel case. The case is fitted with a revolving black ceramic bezel where a 12-hour scale is engraved. The dial, equipped with a chapter ring around a black disc, displays an hour marker with indexes and large, rhodium, luminescent Arabic numerals. At the centre, two dauphine watch hands indicate the hours and minutes, while the seconds are shown in a counter at 9 o’clock. The date appears discreetly at 3 o’clock. The red, arrow-tipped second hand counts down the seconds of the chronograph, while two counters, placed at 12 and 6 o’clock, keep track of the minutes and the hours. The watch is also available with a silver dial.

The second model worth checking out is the TimeWalker Chronograph UTC. The self-winding MB 25.03 calibre is housed in a black DLC case measuring 43mm in diameter. Along with a chronograph function like the watch described above, this new TimeWalker Chronograph UTC also includes three time zones. Local time and the minutes are shown at the centre of the black dial by two rhodium Dauphine hands; the time at home is displayed with a stick hand tipped with a red arrow and, to finish, the black ceramic bezel has a 24-hour scale engraved in it.

Price: 3 990 EUR (chronograph on leather or rubber) – 4 290 EUR (chronograph on steel) – 4 990 EUR (UTC chronograph)

By Sharmila Bertin

panerai lab id luminor 1950 carbotech front and caseback



The “laboratory of ideas“ has deployed all its innovative energy to design a watch that is full of contrasts, between the coal black case and the blue turquoise display.

50 as in Luminor 1950, as in a limited edition of 50 pieces, as in a 50-year guarantee and as in 50 000 euros. 50 is Panerai’s new magic number with the release this year of a completely new timepiece developed in its Neuchâtel workshops, and which comes as a surprise in terms of look and technology. With a design revisiting the famous Luminor 1950 collection, the LAB-IDTM Luminor 1950 CarbotechTM 3 Days model (PAM 00700) is what might be called innovation in a concentrated form, both inside and out.

panerai lab id luminor 1950 carbotech front and caseback

Its large cushion case measures 49mm in diameter and is made of carbotech, a composite material produced using fine layers of compressed carbon fibres. The result is a slightly veined, matt black look, with improved resistance and less weight. The crown-guard features a locking lever and is also made of carbotech.

This solid case contains a manual wind movement that is partially on display. The P.3001/C (C as in “carbon“) calibre provides three days of power reserve – the indicator is on the back of the watch – and drives the hour/minute/second functions. Some parts of the mechanism, such as the plate, the bridges, the double barrel, the escapement and the anti-shock system (Incabloc®) are made from a composite material including carbon or are coated in DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon), thus limiting friction and rubbing, and eliminating the need for additional lubrication. This technical-technological innovation means Panerai can exceptionally guarantee the LAB-IDTM Luminor 1950 CarbotechTM 3 Days for 50 years.

The intense black colour on the dial with its famous sandwich structure is obtained using a light-absorbing carbon nanotube coating. The markers and hour numbers, the seconds dial at 9 o’clock, as well as the edges and tips of the hands are all highlighted in electric blue turquoise Super-LumiNova®. As for the Panerai logo, and the collection name, they are both engraved directly on the sapphire crystal that protects the dial.

Price: 50 000 EUR

By Sharmila Bertin

audemars piguet diamond outrage both



The Brassus factory presents the last watchmaking jewel of the “diamond” trilogy, the first one of which was born in 2015. It is a great, glittering, glamorous way to start the year, and to pay homage to the wild landscapes of their native area.

Two years ago, in 2015, Audemars Piguet began a new story in three chapters, with the creation that was part-watch and part-jewellery, and a fascinating design: Diamond Punk, a piece covered in diamonds, as its name suggests. The following year, in 2016, the Brassus factory continued this precious adventure with Diamond Fury, again covered in precious stones, and in 2017, they are concluding this trilogy with a spectacular “secret” cuff watch called Diamond Outrage.

audemars piguet diamond outrage both

To design Diamond Outrage, Audemars Piguet drew on their immediate surroundings: their native village of Brassus, in the heart of the Joux Valley in the Swiss Jura massif. The wild power of the landscape in the region known as the “Vaud Siberia”, and its pine forests with their tops covered with winter snow standing on the hillsides, obviously served as inspiration for the creation of a watch completely out of the ordinary, a unique piece that has more than 10,000 precious stones spread over the surface of its case.

Diamond Outrage is made up of a white gold case attached to a bracelet that is also made of white gold, both of which are completely covered with precious stones. The wild spirit of the Joux Valley is translated into a multitude of cones of different heights, ranging from 29 to 40mm. These “peaks”, like jewelled stalactites, are covered with 9,923 brilliant-cut diamonds (50.06 carats) placed using the snow-setting technique, and 354 baguette-cut diamonds (15.85 carats), embedded invisibly. Beneath this cloak of precious stones hides a mirror-polished dial where two little dauphine-shaped hour and minute hands glide, operated by the 2701 quartz movement.

There is a bluish-white version of the Diamond Outrage model which offers a case bristling with cones covered with 11,043 brilliant-cut sapphires (65.47 carats).

Price on request

By Sharmila Bertin

harry winston midnight date moonphase 36 both views



Harry Winston, “the diamond king“, strikes again! This time, he has created a miniature version of the queen of the night with its iridescent reflections, to bring a thousand sparkling lights to the most elegant wrists.

Since time immemorial, the moon and its vast silver disc has fascinated mankind. Untameable, it wanders across black-blue starry skies, modestly displaying its different moods. Sometimes impressive and full, sometimes discreetly waxing, the queen of the night goes through multiple phases, and each lunation – that is, the period between two new cycles – lasts about 29.5 days. For the greater pleasure of the most romantic among us, whose loved ones want to give us the moon as a gift, Harry Winston has captured the essence of the Earth’s only natural satellite and placed it in a timepiece, the Midnight Date Moon Phase Automatic.

harry winston midnight date moonphase 36 both views

The Midnight Date Moon Phase Automatic model has a 36mm case and is available in two versions, one in pink gold, and the other in white gold, and adorns the wrist with the help of a white alligator strap with an ardillon buckle set with precious stones. The bezel and the lugs extending from it are studded with 83 brilliant-cut diamonds. They are matched by a trio of gems placed on the famous triple arch at 3 o’clock, evoking the entrance-way of the Harry Winston boutique in New York.

With its sapphire crystal, the case back reveals the HW3205 calibre, a self-winding mechanism providing 68 hours of power reserve. The calibre drives the functions and the hour, minute, second and moon phase displays.

The dial on the Midnight Date Moon Phase Automatic model consists of a white mother-of-pearl disc, on top of which two interlaced circles are set to show the double bow of a precious 8. The first circle, highlighted by a ring set with 43 brilliant-cut diamonds, shows the hours and minutes with hands moving across an hour rim with rectangular indexes and three gemstones (at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock). The second circle is a date counter with a hand and a ring, and with figures to show the odd numbers and silver or golden dots for the even numbers. But the star of the dial is at 4 o’clock in a bevelled display of a crescent moon: the queen of the night, in all its splendour, embodied in a pink gold or white gold disc against a galvanic blue mother-of-pearl background. Last but not least, a diamond rounds off the Harry Winston logo, which stretches round the chapter ring in the upper part of the dial.

Price on request.

By Sharmila Bertin

vacheron constantin cabinotiers celestia 3600 face and rear views



After having dazzled the world with an incomparable timepiece embracing no less than 57 complications to celebrate its 260th anniversary, Vacheron Constantin renews the experience by showcasing an ultra-complex wristwatch powered by an extraordinarily groundbreaking calibre.

During the 18th century in Geneva, “cabinotiers” was the name given to craftsmen (watchmakers, engravers and jewellers) who made individually-commissioned, bespoke creations for a privileged circle of connoisseurs, in workshops known as “cabinets”, located on the top floors of buildings, in the attic spaces, where they could take optimal advantage of natural daylight. Although “cabinotiers” in their original sense no longer exist, Vacheron Constantin has immortalized the name, by using it for its collection of ever-so rare pieces, which includes the Cabinotiers Celestia Grand Complication 3600 timepiece, to be unveiled during the 2017 edition of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH – International Fine Watchmaking Exhibition), which will take place in Geneva from 16 to 20 January.

vacheron constantin cabinotiers celestia 3600 face and rear views

The Cabinotiers Celestia Grand Complication 3600 is a dual-faced watch that could be qualified as ingenious as it hosts 23 complications, features a triple time display (civil, solar and sidereal) implemented by three independent geartrains, and offers around three weeks’ autonomy through its six barrels assembled in two rows of three. These intricate indicators are driven by an innovational Vacheron Constantin-created and -produced movement, the hand-wound mechanical 3600 calibre, housing 514 components and beating at a rhythm of 18,000 vibrations per hour (2.5 Hz), yet measuring only 8.7 thick, set in a 45 mm diameter white gold case.

The slate grey opaline dial showcases 15 complications, including civil time (the universal 24-hour-based clock where each hour comprises 60 minutes) displayed in the centre by two white gold hollow moon-tip hands. A second, rose gold minute hand, tipped with an open-worked sun, tells solar time. This time is calculated based on the hour angle indicated by the sun’s movement during the day for a given location. The variation between these two aforementioned time displays is measured by an instantaneous, running equation of time. The dial also boasts a perpetual calendar which, through its mechanical memory, automatically integrates 30 and 31-day months, 28 and 29 days for February and leap years (featured in an aperture). The day and month are revealed in two rectangular windows at 1 o’clock whilst the date ticks over in a counter incorporating a silvered serpentine hand at 3 o’clock. An aperture located at 9 o’clock proposes a specific moon phase and indicates age. The dial is complemented by various other displays: day/night and its duration, sunrise and sunset times, a mareoscope indicating tide levels and a 3D depiction of the Earth-moon-sun alignment as well as a counter comprising the signs of the zodiac, the seasons, solstices and equinoxes.

The Cabinotiers Celestia Grand Complication 3600 caseback, which centre stages a tourbillon, is made of two sapphire crystal discs: one etched with a sky chart illustrating the constellation as seen from the northern hemisphere and the other displaying sidereal time – obtained by measuring the movement of the stars in relation to the prime meridian and counts 4 minutes difference with civil time, and the four cardinal points. These displays are encircled by a large anthracite flange featuring the months of the year and the power reserve indicator.

This unique Vacheron Constantin masterstroke, which required five years of work from the initial vision to the finished piece, is stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva (Poinçon de Genève).

Price on request

By Sharmila Bertin

hermes slim qp platine closeup


All the strength of mechanical memory

Seen as one of the finest watch complications, the perpetual calendar is now part of the Slim collection by Hermès.

It’s been two years now since Hermès released its Slim model, a simple and elegant classic watch with a face displaying the famous, almost ethereal type and figures designed by Philippe Apeloig. Its simplicity meant it could serve as a creative canvas for such artistic elements as the champlevé enamelwork graphic designs (Slim Perspective Cavalière) or the miniature painting on mother-of-pearl (Slim Mille Fleurs du Mexique), and for classic techniques like on the Slim Email Grand Feu. Today, Hermès is introducing a prestigious complication to this collection with the creation of the Slim Quantième Perpétuel Platine model.

hermes slim qp platine closeup

To make this piece, Hermès has chosen platinum, a noble and resistant material. The sapphire crystal background on the 39.5mm case reveals its mechanical heart, the H1950 calibre, together with an Agenhor module. This self-winding movement, which runs at 21,600 alterations an hour (3Hz) and provides 42 hours of power reserve, drives a wide range of functions and displays: hours and minutes, perpetual date, second time zone, moon phase and day/night indicator.

Made up of different levels, the blue face is encircled by a sunburst scale housing a silver hour rim. The centre, with stick-shaped hands for the hours and minutes, as well as four counters, is decorated with a circular guilloche pattern. Slightly bigger than the other dials, and with a red hand, the second time zone is set at 6 o’clock. The perpetual calendar is shared by two sub-dials: the months and the position in the leap-year cycle are grouped together at 9 o’clock, while the date is shown by a hand at 12 o’clock. Housed in an open, crescent-shaped display, the moon phase is represented by a white mother-of-pearl disc set against a blue aventurine background.

The Slim Quantième Perpétuel Platine by Hermès features an abyss blue alligator strap matching the ocean-blue tint on the dial.

Price: 38,000 CHF

By Sharmila Bertin