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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Manufacture within a manufacture: Atokalpa

Last Friday, I introduced the concept of the true and full manufacture, and used the example pf Parmigiani Fleurier as the prime example of such a complete manufacture. Today, I start by examining one of the manufactures within the manufacture: Atokalpa

Conceived by Michel Parmigiani by combining from the Greek words which mean the shortest and longest measurable time, this is an amazing manufacture, supporting the industry, especially after the reduced supply from Nivarox, a Swatch company started the industry scrambling for alternative sources of the regulating organ used in mechanical watches.

Click here for my article on Atokalpa in the Parmigiani blog

Friday, January 25, 2013

Did you know who are the true and full manufactures?

In the world of high horology, the word manufacture is truly overused and abused. Many who just do some assembly, or some design or some form of manufacture claim they are a manufacture. But a true and full manufacture is one who is capable of making all components in a watch totally and independently. One such manufacture is Parmigiani Fleurier.

In my article published in the Parmigiani blog, I tell the interesting story of Parmigiani Fleurier as a manufacture. Please click on the banner link to the PF Blog, or this link for the article.

Over the weeks, I will explore each of the manufactures within the PF Group, each a full manufacture by its own right, and how it masterfully comes together into one big piece to be presented as Parmigiani Fleurier.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Its SIHH!!

Watchscapes attends this space for magnificent, high resolution photographs from SIHH and GTE soon. Meantime, as I am in Geneva attending the show, I will try and post short snipets.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Preparing for SIHH

Very short post today, as I prepare to attend SIHH 2013. I leave for Geneva tomorrow, so need to spend some time ensuring all gear etc are in place for the great show. Plus it is supposed to be extra cold this year...But today' post is a wrist shot of one of the most beautiful watches I have seen...the Jaeger LeCoultre GyroTourbillon 2.

Magnificent gyrotourbillon in a reverso case. Rose gold. On my wrist. Beautiful.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

DeBethune DB27

Being a seasoned watch collector means that nothing much takes my breath away these days...but today's post is one such unusual, but without being overtly so. So beautiful, but yet, retains some of the charm of being slightly quirky. So refined and well finished, yet a bit garage-home made feel.

Bravo David Zanetta and Denis Flagolet.

The DeBethune DB27 with dead beat seconds. Enough said. Just admire.

Friday, January 11, 2013

UN Perpetual Ludwig: oldie but goodie

Ulysse Nardin is an old, interesting watchmaker who have, over the years come up with interesting, albeit sometimes quirky innovations to horology. Today's feature: The UN Perpetual Ludwig has all the innovation, but IMHO, none of the quirkiness.

Conceived by Ludwig Oeschlin for the late Rolf Schnyder, who was then owner of Ulysse Nardin, this watch is a landmark for a perpetual calendar.

It allows all the indicators to be adjusted via the single crown. And allows the date and other perpetual indicators to be ajdusted bi-directionally. When it was premiered, this was a great innovation. Today, a few other perpetual calendars offer this feature, amongst them the Lange 1 Perpetual Calender Tourbillon and the Moser Perpetual 1, both of which I have featured on this blog.

The dial is magnificent, uncluttered in its layout, supreme legibility, with outsided date.

I just love the bark like finish. Rolf tells that the dial is so difficult to make perfect, that the reject rate is incredibly high. Later Perpetual Ludwigs have done away with this beautiful textured dial. Later examples added a GMT feature.

The movement is based on the ubiquitious ETA 2892. Ludwig says this is a reliable, powerful movement, and has the torque to pile complications on top without affecting the reliability and running accuracy. The UN Trilogy with astronomical complications is also based on the same base caliber.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Baum Corretto

Time for another dream bike photography and brief impressions. This time, a magnificent handmade bicycle from Australia, and one of the most sought after bike frames ever...the Baum! From the same good friend who loaned me his Zullo MazSilenus and Pegoretti Responsorium, here is his Baum Corretto.

On the Floating Platform at the Marina Bay area overlooking the Marina Bay Sands and the Science Museum.

As I mentioned in earlier bicycle posts, the world of the handmade bicycle is as elusive as the world of handmade independent watchmakers. Very few aspire to the art, and even fewer manage to make a namefor themselves. Darren Baum in Australia is one such distinguished individual.

Just by the fountains at the Marina Barrage.

His bikes have the reputation of great ridability and yet stiff, efficient and ability to compete with race bred bikes in terms of its ability to transfer every ounce of precious power from your legs to propel you forward. Race or relaxed geometry? Seems you don't have to choose.

At Gardens by the Bay East, overlooking the Marina Bay with a view of the Singapore CBD. Click on the image for a 1920 wide wallpaper.

Click on the above picture for a full sized wallpaper of the magnificent bicycle with the Singapore skyline as shown from Gardens by the Bay East.

Handbuilt in Australia, each bike is custom. Darren takes into consideration the rider's weight, riding characteristics and intended usage of the bike. The bike featured today is the Baum Corretto. I am slightly bemused by the name...Baum...the surname of the creator means Tree in German. Corretto means correct in Italian (normally an espresso with a shot of grappa), and the bike is made in Australia.

The Corretto is made from grade 9 titanium (also known as Ti 3Al-2.5V - 3% aluminium and 2.5% vanadium makes the metal a good balance between ease of welding, and manufacturing and the high strength of Grade 5...which is known as Ti 6Al-4V. Grade 9 is commonly used in aircraft tubing and bicycles.)

On the waterside just across from the Marina Bay Financial Centre, overlooking the Marina Bay Sands.

Unlike many other custom builders who choose from a set of factory butted tubes and blend the tubes for the ride characteristic he is designing for, Darren uses straight gauge tubing for the Corretto, but internally or externally butts each individual tube himself to achieve what he envisions to be the best to achieve the ride goal. This level of attention to detail is almost unique and characterises the Baum builds.

On the Marna Barrage, overlooking the Singapore Flyer.

The result, as expected is the magic carpet ride people ascribe to titanium without the flex and with the stiffness of steel. Magnificent ride. Compliant, smooth, but with the ability to transfer every bit of power to the wheels. I feel I am riding one cog smaller than on the Pegoretti or Zullo. And I reached 50.5 kph at the Garden by the Bay East stretch without too much stress to my old ticker...I could have easily have gone faster...but only slowed down because some kids were rollerskating ahead of me, and I fear of crashing into them at that speed. My previous fastest speed at that stretch was 48 kph on the Pegoretti, but I noted at a higher heart rate and more apparent effort. I broke all my personal bests - for 1 hour cycling, and best times for 10km, 10 miles, 20 km, 50 km all within 3 rides over a week.

The paintwork is fantastic...the pearlescent paint almost glows in the sunlight. Each weld prefect. The bike bears an Enve 2.0 fork, ARX carbon stem and a zero setback Enve seatpost, all painted to match the frame.

No expense was spared with the drivetrain...the Campagnolo Super Record 11 EPS.

Not obvious in the photograph above, but the bottom bracket is specified as BB30 PressFit, to ensure stiffness. This might not have been the wisest choice, as the owner confesses to me an adapter is required to fit the Campagnolo drivetrain onto the BB30, and this may sometimes cause creaking noises from the bottom bracket.

Introduced in 2011, this electronic groupset is as good as it gets. Shimano introduced their Di2 electronic groupset somewhat earlier in 2009. Campy's responded not only with a top of the line offering, but also with electronic capability to the Record and Athena. Campy's offering is also 11 speed, while Shimano only gets 11 speed in 2013.

Two electronic units, one below the stem, as shown in the pic above, and another on the top side of the downtube, see pic above that, are employed to provide the electronic brains and battery power to do the shifting.

The rear derailleur, showing the micro step motors which enable the shifting of the rear cogs.

It would seem the system is a bit messy, but in practice, it works perfectly. Each shift is precise, very fast. And the system allows one to move across the entire rear cassette with one push of the up or down shift button, situated much like the mechanical Super Record on the hoods. But as these are electronic buttons instead of levers pulling a cable to actuate the shifts, the shifting is effortless. Until I had ridden on an electronic groupset, I also thought that this was an overkill system. A bit like a quartz watch...super accurate, but no soul...but this was not to be the case. The system is so beautifully put together, and works so well, I am dreading having to go back to a mechanical Athena 11 I have on my own bike.

As with the mechanical Super Record, the crank is carbon fibre on a titanium spindle chainset: a road standard double 53/39

I installed my own Crank Brothers Egg Beaters SL on each of these "sponsored" bikes as I prefer to wear mountain bike shoes so I can walk normally when not on the bike. Though road shoes have stiffer soles and transfer power better, I prefer the convenience of being able to walk and as I am not racing, don't mind to lose out on the efficiency. If I were to race, I would use Speedplay Zeros - light, low stack, and well designed.

The wheelset on this build is the remarkable Enve 1.25 carbon tubular wheelset, laced onto Tune hubs. The hubs are very nicely balanced, and very smooth rolling. Tyres are Veloflex Extreme tubulars on latex tubes, which contributes also to the magic carper ride. I still preferred the FMB Challenge CX Silks on the Zullo MazSilenus, but the Veloflex is still a bit more comfortable than the Challenge Stradas. All at 105psi rear, 100 front pressures.

Total weight for the bike as shown, including pedals, without the Topeak saddle bag was weighed to be 6.92kg on a digital scale.

Headset is from Chris King with the Extralite cap, with the curious graphic characteristic of Extralite.

The brakes are Campagnolo Super Record skeletons, with the proprietary brake pads of the Enve rims. Though specified for 25mm tyres, there seem space to perhaps fit 28mm ones. Note the beefy chainstays, which are essential to provide efficient transfer of power.

Photographed on site at the Marina Barrage, Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands area. I rode the bicycle for the shoot, and was only able to carry the small Panasonic Lumix LX-3 which took all these photographs. The image below also opens up to a 1920 wide wallpaper.

On the Gardens by the Bay East, overlooking the climate control buildings of the Gardens by the Bay known as the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest conservatories, with Marina Bay Sands and the CBD skyline in the background.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Lange Boutique opens in Singapore

A. Lange & Sohne opens boutique in Singapore.

Soft opening, with the boutique open for business and showing. The official opening is currently scheduled for February 28, 2013. Singapore Lange fans can expect some celebration and exhibitions during the first week of March to mark the official opening.

Here is a glimpse of the new boutique at Ion Orchard.

Within, the Lange boutique DNA is apparent...

A closer look at one of the corners

And a semi-private room within the main entrance hall

Photograph was taken just before Christmas 2012, hence the Christmas tree.

And special for the boutique, the Honey Gold Tribute to FA Lange set, comprising of the 1815 Moonphase, the Pour le Merite Tourbograph and the Lange 1 Tourbillon in honey gold. Set numbered 1.

Photographically speaking this is a challenging interior to shoot. The mix of lighting modes created spots with different colour temperatures. And the high intensity lamps used for lighting the display cause havoc to the dynamic range of the photograph. I decided to let the window displays washout, as the rest of the interiors were more critical. In a print, the window display can be saved to show some detail, as print media has a larger dynamic range and lattitude than the web.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2013. Best wishes to all friends, clients and readers....most of you are all 3. Thank you very much for your friendship and support. No photo post today...Watchscapes takes a break. Back on Fri.