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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Portrait of a Legend: Philippe Dufour

Spending a day with one of the legends of Independent watchmaking - The Grandmaster himself: Philippe Dufour is always such a great pleasure.

I count myself incredibly lucky to be able to own a Dufour Simplicity, and even more lucky to be able to call Philippe Dufour a good friend. So please pardon me for the delayed telecast of Friday's post, as I just had to indulge my friend, and bring him to eat one of his favourite Singapore dishes - Bak Kut Teh.
Even Lengendary Grandmasters need to eat!

Holding court, with my two other friends: Veteran watch journalist Larry Wee, and Mr Logistics: Eddie Sng.

As a watch collecting group, wrist shots are very popular.There is a Facebook site called Wristshots by my good friends at Watchonista which receive hundreds of postings a day, and another by Russell Cheong called Foodie's Watch which also very active. This would probably qualify as an ultimate wrist shot...
Dufour on Dufour

More portraits of the Grandmaster and others who attended the Hour Glass' Grandmaster event held recently in Singapore....hint...Kari Voultilainen, Laurent Ferrier and Roger Smith in the works...akan datang (Malay for coming soon).

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Grand Seiko Marinemaster Spring Drive

Another one in the series of Quickshots...the Seiko Marinemaster Spring Drive. Also another one I count as fascinating value for money catagory.

Seiko is one of the under rated companies in the world of high horology. While the world fusses over the Swiss and Germans...quietly, our Japanese friends in Shiojiri have been creating amazingly beautiful and incredibly innovative watches. Their Credor series, which I have featured in these pages peak the top of the finish sweepstakes. The Spring Drive is one of the wonderful innovations created by Seiko.

Today I feature the Grand Seiko Marinemaster Spring Drive

Photographed in a dark restaurant, but the magnificence of the watch shines...the case is quite large at 44mm, but fits well on my wrist.

Compared side by side to the more down to earth Seiko (note no the finishing for these pieces are less a focus than the design, but they are finished properly. And of course, much less expensive).

One of the hidden gems in high end horology.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Portraits from a luncheon

Portraits...from a recent lunch hosted by Breguet.

Breguet makes exquisite watches...we already know that. I am most intrigued and captivated by their beautiful dials. Over a lunch hosted by Breguet, they showed us how they make the beautiful dials, using a traditional rose engine machine. For the masters of this art, complex patterns can be made on the traditional gold dials used in their watches.

Here is the master demonstrating

But for that afternoon, we got to try our hand on the rose the substrate for guilloche was brass. And for the trial, we tried only to do straight lines.

The result...

Here is a picture of me trying my hand at credit to Fabien Lavrion, Breguet's chief in Singapore

I wonder if Breguet will give me a job on the rose machine...haha

Here is Suzanne Wong, Editor in Chief at Revolution Press trying her hand...

And my friend Larry Wee giving it a go as well

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Two new images of Lange's Datograph/1815 Chronograph movement

Available now on poster, email for details. Prints are limited edition of 10 copies, signed and numbered, approximately 800mmx600mm.

Friday, September 13, 2013

MB&F: LegacyMachine no2

Max Bussier...the man and the company which bears his name - Max Bussier and Friends, is always entertaing to watch, and his products always pushing the envelope.

The Legacy One created quite a stir when it was introduced two years ago, and the followup, with the same team of Mojon, Voutilainen and Giroud with Bussier has some tricks up their sleeves...and when the Legacy Two was unveiled, it was quite a sight for sore eyes.

Two balances, beating from the power of one train divided by a differential mechanism. Similar in concept to the Dufour Duality, which Max proudly says he drew his inspriration from.

The bridge layout is quite beautiful...very nicely done!

And the finish quite immaculate

Nicely job...I really love the way the bridges liquid from pivot to pivot.

On the wrist, it is magnificent...available in platinum, and in gold...the platinum is with a very beautiful blue dial.

Apologies for photographs...not my I did not bring my regular lighting, and had to shoot this in-situ at L'Atelier by The Hour Glass. For this reason, I shot almost exclusively at f/2.8, resulting in shallow depth of field.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Omega Seamaster GoodPlanet Coaxial

More Omegamania...with the Planet Ocean 600M Coaxial GMT

There is much to admire of Omega. Not only is it part of a large multinational group (The Swatch Group), but on its own, it is a formidable force in watchmaking. But yet, it is not one to rest on its laurels, and continue to innovate. The latest series of Omega watches, featuring the co-axial escapement, first introduced by George Daniels are one example.

In today's feature, the Seamaster GMT.

Designed as a tribute to the partnership between Omega and GoodPlanet Foundation, the watch has a beautiful blue dial, with applied indices, and bright orange accents on the rotating bezel. Quite a beautiful combination.

The movement is the caliber 8605, with the co-axial escapement and Si14 silicon balance spring. and the case is water resistant to 600m. The movement is self winding, with timezone and GMT functions.

As a sign of confidence, this watch is offered with a full 4 year warranty.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Portraits: Felix Baumgartner of Urwerk

As is now become tradition for product launches in Singapore, I will also offer the kind reader a little insight into the remarkable genius behind the watches. And today's feature follows Tuesday's Urwerk EMC launch with some portraits of Felix Baumgartner.

The man himself..."you need an Urwerk!"

Gazing with satisfaction at his new creation

Examining it...

And a parting shot...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Urwerk EMC: Mechanical Heart, Electronic Brain

Every once in a whle, the folks at Urwerk unleash their creativity and rock the world with their amazing creations. When the UR103 hit the horology world, it caused tremors still being felt today. As did the UR202, and later the UR1001. Last week, the creative genii of Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frey unveiled their latest creation...the EMC.

I was first introduced to the concept of this new piece in Geneva early this year. Felix unveiled this perspex box, with a blue board, which contained what seemed to me to be a mechanical movement and a circuit board, much like the box shown above. Conceptually, it was mind blowing...a marriage of the electronic to the mechanical...but in Felix's mind, there was an obvious heirachy.

Note the charging arm of the condensator was not replaced properly into the slot within the side of the case during the shoot. Normally it would be snug, with the handle fitting nicely inside the opening.

The electronic can and only must serve the mechanical heart. And so the concept of a mechanical timepiece, being watched over by an electronic brain, checking, and reporting on its accuracy, so the owner can perform his own adjustment to the mechanical heart.

Shown in the pic, the electronic brain's circuit board behind the slotted bridge, and the mainspring barrel...a double barrel running serially to provide power for the mechanical part of the movement.

The circuit on a board, carrying a condenser charged mechanically by moving an arm 5 to 10 times.

The circuit carries a light device watching over the hairspring as it beats, and comparing the beat of the hairspring to the electronic heart, and displaying the variance on a gauge on the dial. Like a Witschi machine, except more accurate, because the Witschi uses a microphone to pick up the engagement sounds of the escapement, the EMC is optical.

The balance is shrouded to protect the optical device used for measurement, so that stray light does not enter the system to confuse the electronics.

The challenge was first to miniaturize the circuit and to solve the power supply problem. These are two very common problems engineers have to solve in the electronic world. A special gearing was developed so that each stroke of the arm lever makes 250 revolutions to charge the condensator. If a regular 3032 battery were to be used, it would need to be replaced every few hours. A full charge of the condensator by working the arm 5 to 10 times will provide enough charge to the electronic brain to perform its measurement about 8 times.

Conceptually, I find this intelectually very interesting. And to be able to miniaturize this into a package small enough to be on a wristwatch is also amazing.

The movement proper, showing the little screw, which is acessable from the back of the case in regular use via a small screw driver through the case back. This screw is used to adjust, in precise increments the needed amount to align the mechanical beat to the electronic brain.

Not content with this electronic development, Urwerk decided also to do their own movement in-house. Earlier Urwerks have been based on the GP calibers which carry the in-house developed satelite system.

Some trivia on this new EMC movement...this is the first Urwerk to be equipped with a display back showing the entire movement. Earlier Urwerks have closed backs, with windows to show parts of the movement. This is also the first Urwerk, other than the one done for Goldpfiel, to have regular hands to indicate the hours, minutes and seconds.

The design of the case and the watch is totally form follows function. The dial at the first quadrant shows the seconds hand. The second quadrant shows the hours and minutes. The third quadrant is the power reserve indicator, and the fourth is a large dial showing the beat accuracy in seconds/day of the mechanical heart as compared to the electronic brain.

Quite a remarkable watch. Next installment, I will show a few portraits of the remarkable man behind the watch.