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Elegance is an attitude Simon Baker
*Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute
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THAN ENTREPRENEURS” – Nicolas Hayek, Europa Star, 1993 BY SERGE MAILLARD
Today, lots of brands are led by technocrats who talk about emotion,” says JeanClaude Biver in this issue of Europa Star (read the article on p. 116). Browsing our archives – a vast treasure trove of data that has recently been digitised* – we came across an interesting quote from Nicolas Hayek in 1993 expressing a similar opinion, just as Mr Biver was starting work at Omega: “For a long moment, until the beginning of the Eighties, Omega had to put up with heads that were incapable of understanding the brand’s message. They behaved more like managers than entrepreneurs.” At a time when the industry’s messaging tends to highlight the human qualities of mechanical watchmaking and its value as a form of contemporary craftsmanship (the watch as an object having lost its monopoly over technical precision), it is even more important that this narrative should convey warmth, substance and authenticity. In other words, the industry needs to appear human; it needs to offer a welcom- In an era in thrall ing face to newcomers hoping to be initiated into this wonderful art. to digital tools and But the risk of “de-humanisation” is ever-present – perhaps all the more accounting deadlines, so in our digital era. As Nicolas Hayek rightly noted in the 1990s, this is that touch of human also a concern at the top of the pyramid, as evidenced by the frenetic whirl of managers who are more functionaries than entrepreneurs. magic has never And there’s another risk, linked to brand communication. As produc- been so important for tion has become more standardised and the industry has coalesced watchmaking success. around huge international groups, the compulsion to focus on the human element where marketing is concerned has become all the more pronounced. Sorry, that should be Marketing with a capital M. External agencies are springing up like mushrooms, as they are in every industry, to “manage” the dialogue and “streamline” the narrative. But emotion must first come from the guts of the spokesmen who are the watch brands’ primary ambassadors. And, when it comes down to it, the products themselves are still the main vehicle in terms of perception of the industry’s essential humanity. Look at Bulgari: in recent years, the Roman jeweller has made great strides in watchmaking because it has forged ahead into unexplored territory with the Finissimo line. Bulgari’s managers don’t finesse their financial quarters in response to shareholder pressure – they act out of an utterly human spirit of enterprise and initiative. In an era in thrall to digital tools and accounting deadlines, that touch of human magic has never been so important for watchmaking success. After all, the idea of strapping onto your wrist a piece of technology invented centuries ago – that must be the ultimate act of human folly. *The lessons of the past have never been so relevant to today! With one click, you can gain access to 60 years of watchmaking on www.europastar.com/club 12
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GLOBAL EDITION | CHAPTER 2.2019 PATEK PHILIPPE CALATRAVA WEEKLY CALENDAR REFERENCE 5212A-001 Silvery opaline dial, blackened gold applied hour markers. Blackened white gold two-face dauphine hands. Steel case 40 mm x 10.79 mm. Water-resistant to 30 m. Sapphire crystal case back. Strap: calfskin, hand-stitched, light brown, prong buckle. Calibre 26-330 S C J SE. Self-winding. Weekly calendar, day and week number by hands, date in an aperture. Sweep seconds. Central rotor in 21K gold. Frequency: 28,800 semi-oscillations/hour (4 Hz). Power reserve: min. 35 hours max. 45 hours. Day-of-week and week number correctors. Poinçon Patek Philippe.
REPORT – AMERICAN ROAD TRIP
PATEK PHILIPPE: THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL
ANNE BIÉLER THE CULTURE OF ENCOUNTERS
28 A SNAPSHOT OF THE WATCH MARKET 32 A RETAIL APOCALYPSE? 34 EUROPEAN DOMINATION IN AMERICA 38 ROLAND MURPHY – THE LAST AMERICAN MASTER 42 THE GLORY DAYS OF AMERICAN WATCHMAKING 46 SHINOLA: TIMEPIECES, COLA AND BEDROOMS 48 GRAND SEIKO – THE AMERICAN BET 52 RETAIL – CASE STUDIES 64 MIAMI DESIGN DISTRICT
PATEK PHILIPPE SA Ch. du Pont-du-Centenaire 141 CH 1211 Genève 2, Switzerland Tel. : +41 (0)22 884 20 20 www.patek.com
LAST WORD TO START
BASEL AND GENEVA PLAY A GAME OF GO
SWISS STYLE AND WATCHMAKING
A MISSED OPPORTUNITY
MEETING WITH JEAN-CLAUDE BIVER
A GIANT OF THE INDUSTRY SEEN THROUGH THE EUROPA STAR ARCHIVES
68 URBAN JÜRGENSEN 70 TITONI 72 TAG HEUER 74 HAMILTON 76 MAURON MUSY 78 MAURICE LACROIX 80 MÜHLE-GLASHÜTTE 82 CITIZEN 84 ONEOF 86 TRASER 88 CASIO
94 VACHERON CONSTANTIN 96 HERMÈS 98 RICHARD MILLE 100 TAG HEUER 102 BOVET 1822 104 JAEGER-LECOULTRE 106 F.P. JOURNE 108 CHOPARD 110 FOR THE DELIGHT OF THE EYES
SUBSCRIBE TO EUROPA STAR www.europastar.com/club | SUBSCRIBE TO THE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER www.europastar.com/newsletter | CHAIRMAN Philippe Maillard PUBLISHER Serge Maillard EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Pierre Maillard CONCEPTION & DESIGN Serge Maillard, Pierre Maillard, Alexis Sgouridis DIGITAL EDITOR Ashkhen Longet PUBLISHING / MARKETING / CIRCULATION Nathalie Glattfelder, Marianne Bechtel/Bab-Consulting, Jocelyne Bailly, Véronique Zorzi BUSINESS MANAGER Catherine Giloux MAGAZINES Europa Star Global | USA | China | Première (Switzerland) | Bulletin d’informations | Eurotec EUROPA STAR HBM SA Route des Acacias 25, CH-1227 Geneva - Switzerland, Tel +41 22 307 78 37, Fax +41 22 300 37 48, firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright 2019 EUROPA STAR | All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of Europa Star HBM SA Geneva. The statements and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily Europa Star. ISSN 2504-4591 | www.europastar.com |
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL PATEK PHILIPPE
CALATRAVA WEEKLY CALENDAR REFERENCE 5212A-001
BY PIERRE MAILLARD
A completely new Patek Philippe has joined the rich range of “small complications” in the Geneva watchmaker’s repertoire: a weekly calendar. It’s a first for the manufacture, which over the course of its venerable history has produced an entire anthology of calendar watches, from the simple date window to the highly complex century perpetual calendar (which won’t require any adjustment until the 28th century), with a plethora of perpetual calendars (to be corrected in 2100) and the famous patented annual calendar of 1996. All that was missing was a weekly calendar. But not any longer!
CALATRAVA WEEKLY CALENDAR REFERENCE 5212A-001 DIAL: Silvery opaline, blackened gold applied hour markers. Blackened white gold two-face dauphine hands. CASE: Steel. Diameter: 40 mm. Height: 10.79 mm. Water-resistant to 30 m. Sapphire crystal case back. STRAP: Calfskin, hand-stitched, light brown, prong buckle. DISPLAYS: Hour hand, Minute hand, Second hand, Day hand, Week number hand with corresponding month. Aperture: Date. CORRECTORS: Day-of-week correction. Week number correction. Poinçon Patek Philippe.
ooking at this watch, which is fresh off the bench, you have the impression that it’s been around forever. It already looks like a Patek Philippe classic. And yet this impression is completely false, because Patek Philippe has never offered a week number function before. So, where does this impression come from? Probably from a host of subtle details that are invisible at first glance, but which exert a tangible effect on the viewer. What is most striking from the outset is its great legibility. The eye is not forced to scrutinise the dial to understand what it’s seeing. The hierarchy of time and calendar indications, supplied by five central hands and a single window, is crystal clear. This refreshingly lucid geometry is displayed in black against a silvery opaline dial. The chromatic high point is the hammer-shaped red tip of the two central hands, one pointing to the day of the week (in a ring around the centre) and the other to the month and associated week number (on the two concentric scales around the periphery). Only the date is displayed traditionally, in a window at 3 o’clock. But the display as a whole, which might have come across as overly rigid, technical and ruthlessly utilitarian, instead has a unique charm. The dial is visually appealing. But what makes it so seductive?
Take a closer look On paying closer attention it becomes clear that the singular resonance of this piece comes not only from its perfectly centred geometry, but also, and perhaps mainly, from its typography. Not one figure, not one letter is like another. Each one is unique, and slightly different from all the rest. And that’s because it is all done by hand. The lettering is the work of one of the manufacture’s designers, adopted and replicated exactly on the dial. It was a rather inspired decision, taken by Thierry Stern himself, we’re told. And it’s probably the lettering that immediately sets the vintage tone of this watch. But it’s a kind of vintage that we haven’t seen before, embodied in this unique display with its discreetly poetic interpretation of hand lettering, its whiff of calligraphic nostalgia. The vintage appeal is enhanced by the round Calatrava-style case, with its 40 mm diameter and height of 11.18 mm, in steel – not a material we’re used to seeing from Patek Philippe. The generous bezel and two-tiered gently curved lugs draw inspiration directly from a one-of-a-kind model dating back to 1955 (the Reference 2512, which connoisseurs can see at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva). Top it off with a subtle box-type sapphire crystal, and you have the Calatrava Weekly Calendar. We think it’s a very fine watch; a keeper, without a doubt.
New base movement So, what do we have under the dial? The week day and week number functions are supplied by a mechanism partially integrated into a brand new self-winding base movement, the calibre 26-330. While based on the calibre 324, it features several innovations and optimisations. In order to avoid any risk of the seconds hand vibrating, the traditional centre second pinion with friction spring has been replaced by an anti-backlash third wheel. This component made using the LIGA process from a nickel-phosphorus alloy, finished with a gold-copper-iridium coating, stops the seconds hand vibrating thanks to the use of long split teeth, each with its own tiny 22-micron leaf spring. The teeth of the anti-backlash third wheel engage with the teeth of the centre second pinion to suppress vibrations. A stop-seconds mechanism has also been added, which allows the wearer to stop the balance, set the exact second and set it in motion again when the crown is pushed home. Some highly technical improvements to the automatic winding system have resulted in improved performance and reliability, by replacing some parts subject to friction, and thus requiring additional adjustment, with high-tech components. Thus, the traditional uncoupling yoke has been replaced by a 20
MOVEMENT: Calibre 26-330 S C J SE. Self-winding. Weekly calendar. Day and week number indicated by hands. Date displayed in an aperture. Sweep seconds. Diameter: 27 mm. Height: 4.82 mm. Number of parts: 304. Winding rotor: central rotor in 21K gold. Frequency: 28,800 semi-oscillations/hour (4 Hz). Power reserve: min. 35 hours â€“ max. 45 hours
new patented clutch wheel (the result of a highly complex manufacturing process, we are told) that drives the mainspring barrel in one direction and uncouples it in the other. Another optimisation is the addition of a reduction wheel that is uncoupled from the automatic winder when the watch is wound manually. Multiple efforts to reduce friction, and thus increase performance and reliability, all combine to make this movement what it is.
Semi-integrated mechanism The semi-integrated mechanism of the weekly calendar includes 92 additional components, for a height of just 1.52 mm. This brings the total height of the movement, inclusive of the semi-integrated mechanism, to 4.82 mm, with 304 components. This extreme thinness comes thanks to a baseplate specifically developed and machined to accommodate the mechanism.
The day display is driven by a seven-pointed star placed in the centre of the movement, on the hour wheel. The week wheel with its 53 teeth (because, every five to six years, a year has 53 weeks rather than the usual 52 – the next time this happens will be in 2020) is driven by a second seven-pointed star with an extended Sunday tip, which starts off the new week on a Monday, in accordance with the ISO 8601 standard (see sidebar). In order to avoid energy consumption peaks (the automatic movement has a power reserve of at least 35 hours, up to a maximum of 45 hours) the calendar displays advance semi-instantaneously in discrete steps. Another important point is that, as a so-called “useful” complication, it should deserve its title. Accordingly, the safety features implemented by the movement’s designers allow the user to make the necessary corrections at any time of the day or night. For the weekday and number, adjustments are made via two pushers placed at 8 o’clock and 10 o’clock respectively. The date is corrected on the crown (pulled out halfway – the maximum extension is used to stop the balance in order to set the exact time). It bears repeating: this Calatrava Weekly Calendar is successful in every respect, and certainly has a promising future ahead. After all, as people sometimes also say: “God is in the detail”.
What are the chances of seeing a perpetual weekly calendar? The week numbering system is defined by ISO standard 8601. Created in 1988, and based on the Gregorian calendar and the 24hour system, this standard describes a “way to represent dates and times using numbers”, which also extends to numbering the weeks. The numbering system is mainly used for logistical purposes in industry, business and IT. According to this internationally recognised ISO standard, the week begins on Monday, the days are numbered from 1 to 7, week 1 is the week that contains the first Thursday of the year, and the last week is the one that contains the last Thursday of the year. But, as Wikipedia explains, a year generally contains 52 weeks of seven days, but that makes a total of only 364 days. Because a year in fact has 365 and one-quarter days, the date of the first day of each week goes backwards by one day from one year to the next (two days, for a leap year). If we didn’t have a 53rd week from time to time, week 1 of the year would end up in the previous year. So here’s a question for watchmakers: given that the 53rd intercalary week only makes an occasional appearance, what are the chances of being able to create a mechanical perpetual weekly calendar? If we take a few real-life examples, it looks like quite a head-scratcher: in 2020/21, 2026/27, 2037/38 and 2048/49, week 53 will begin on Monday 28 December, and end on Sunday 3 January; but in 2032/33 week 53 begins on Monday 27 December, and ends on Sunday 2 January. Get your thinking caps on. 21
THE CULTURE OF ENCOUNTERS
TEXT BY PIERRE MAILLARD. PHOTOS GUILLAUME PERRET/LUNDI13
How did I first get involved in watchmaking? How come I stayed so long in the industry?” Anne Biéler asks herself out loud, with a mischievous look. The answer is spontaneous: “It’s not so much for the watches themselves, but more because of the people behind them: the watchmakers and the craftsmen. I have met some fantastic people.” Aside from her early fascination for craftsmanship, there was nothing to suggest that Anne Biéler would become a key figure in the world of haute horlogerie. The Fondation Sandoz approached her in 1995 to work on the communication of the Parmigiani brand that it was preparing to launch. At the time, Anne, who had travelled the world with her diplomat husband, was involved in dance and theatre. She was head of ARC, a home for artists in Romainmôtier, at the foot of the Jura. When she discovered the workshop where Michel Parmigiani restored antique timepieces, she fell in love with this exceptional art. She has kept up this passion ever since. “I learnt so much from Michel. At the time, relations with watchmakers were direct, there were no intermediaries. That has all changed. Gradually everything has become controlled, delineated and compartmentalised. But the best part of this industry is the relationships,” she sighs. ”However, watchmaking is unfortunately simply following the trend of society as a whole.” She left Parmigiani on a whim in 2000, and found herself unemployed. Three days later though, she got a call from Franco Cologni asking her to work in the communications and press relations department of the SIHH.
“I loved working with him, and with Fabienne Lupo. Franco Cologni was my mentor. He was uncompromising but brilliant, a true visionary. He forces you to excel yourself intellectually. He is clever, seductive and has a great ability to unite people. But you don’t want to get on his wrong side. There's no one like him left in the watch industry today. Standardisation comes at a price.” Another significant encounter was with Gino Macaluso, who was the director and owner of Girard-Perregaux. She worked by his side from 2004 to 2010 for the Swiss press. “Gino was a gentleman. He was more of an aesthete than a businessman. Everything was based on beauty with him. And the atmosphere was always pleasant. I was very fond of him.” She then moved to Vacheron Constantin, where she was taken on by Juan Carlos Torres. “I mainly worked on major cultural partnerships, with the Institut des métiers d’art, the Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, etc. I stayed there four years, working hands-on with the arts.” From then on, Anne Biéler, who had always worked freelance, left the watchmaking industry and pursued her career in culture, supporting artists and, among many other things, working on the Verbier Music Festival. “That is what I have always enjoyed most: being in close contact with artists and creators, beauty, diversity and new generations. I have got so much out of it, which is the main thing.” As the saying goes, you get out what you put in.
2 1 RECIPE BOOK, EARLY 20TH CENTURY “It was written by my grandmother. She was an exceptional woman and a friend who taught me everything I needed to know in life. She was always surrounded by young people and artists. I have never stopped using her recipes. I photocopied the entire book for my children, so that it gets passed down the generations.” 2 GLASS CANDLESTICKS FROM CZECHOSLOVAKIA, LATE 19TH CENTURY “These, very light silvered candlesticks were hand-blown and passed down the family. I recently moved, and I only took with me objects with me that have a history. It is a token of my love for craftsmanship. It is also a form of connection: I learnt to be sensitive to beauty and elegance.” 3 PHOTO, MAN IN A BOOKSHOP, CAIRO, 1930S “This photo was taken by photographers Lehnert & Landrock, in their bookshop in Cairo, which they moved to in the 1930s. In fact the bookshop still exists. I take this photo with me everywhere. It represents my awareness of the inequality of opportunity and access to culture. I discovered poverty and instability in Egypt, but also their gift for being welcoming and their generosity.” 4 HOUSE IN TAVIRA, DRAWN BY DOMINIQUE APPIA “Dominique Appia, a painter and friend, drew my house in Portugal. It used to be a sheep pen when I bought it 40 years ago. Over time, it has virtually turned into a hamlet. It is here that I started to discover Portugal. It is a country full of gentle, proud and modest people. It is not a Mediterranean country, it overlooks the Atlantic. It opens onto the ocean, bringing a sense of melancholy and fatalism. It is a country like no other, removed from the hustle and bustle of other places. It is my refuge.” 5 HAMMAM BOWL, ALEPPO “You need to put a little water in the bowl, and soap in the middle so that it doesn’t slip. It is a very intimate object that reflects a form of feminine wisdom. Women meet up and talk in hammams. I have met some extraordinary people there. It represents calm, relaxation and sharing. This simple hammam bowl symbolises my entire relationship with the Middle East.” 6 GIRARD-PERREGAUX WATCH “During a private sale for employees, Gino Macaluso said to me, ‘Buy that one!’, and I followed his advice. I like this watch because of its simplicity, its ultra-flat thinness and its very fine hour markers as well as its elegance. It is basically exactly what Gino liked. He was a man of culture and knowledge, and had a remarkable eye for detail. He was the epitome of elegance. A great man.”
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America: Trump, the great outdoors, the dreams and the violence, the grandeur and the misery... and also the firepower of Apple Watch and Rolex, as well as all the evolutions that usually take root here before reaching the rest of the world. We spend a good part of the year in the United States, reporting case studies, testimonies, observations, watchmaking news and opinion, which we are presenting to you in this special report dedicated to the American market, and to watchmaking Made in the USA. But can a country that has lost its oncegreat industry still be a watch nirvana? We have gathered comments from various voices, on our road trip through the highways and byways of American watchmaking.
T H SN W E AP AT A SH O M C E T H R OF M IC A A RK N ET
INT RO DU CT ION
In the United States, as in most parts of the world, we saw something of a catch-up effect in 2018. But behind the scenes, the fundamentals of the American market are in turmoil, as a result of the growth of the smartwatch, the concentration of retail in European hands and the strong growth of the secondary market, thanks to the internet.
Faced with the mighty Apple Watch, large American groups active in the entry-level watch segment, such as Fossil Group and Movado, are launching a counter-offensive with their own connected products.
1st upheaval: the breakthrough of the smartwatch You can do a test, in a New York restaurant or at a Los Angeles gym, by looking at the wrists of the other people there. There is no doubt that the Apple Watch will be in the majority – and this includes women. Even more so than in Europe, the smartwatch has established itself in the under-$500 watch segment in the United States. It is one of the major upheavals to have occurred in North America since 2015. However, it doesn’t seem to have impacted the traditional luxury mechanical watch market. On the contrary, “fine mechanics” were on the road to recovery in 2018, a catching-up effect observed in both the US and in Asia. With more than 2.2 billion francs of Swiss watch exports to the United States last year, the market grew by 8% and is approaching the results of 2015. To sum up, one could say that the “volume” market seems to be gradually moving towards Apple, while “value” remains firmly anchored among the traditional Swiss brands.
Is there any room left for the American fashion watch giants such as Fossil Group, Movado Group and Timex in this scenario? Since its acquisition of Misfit in 2015, Fossil Group has resolutely opted for the switch to connection, launching “smart” models of Fossil, Armani, Diesel and Michael Kors watches quarter after quarter. The erosion of its stock market share illustrates the group’s difficulties in the face of Apple’s arrival on its playing field. Nevertheless, the sale in January 2019 of $40 million worth of connection technologies to Google reassured investors and could signal the beginning of a trend reversal. Kosta Kartsotis, Chairman and CEO of the Fossil Group, stated last November: “While the business continues to face topline headwinds stemming from declines in the traditional watch category, combined with business exits and closings of underperforming stores, we are focused on narrowing the gap with gains in connected and digital sales.”
SWISS WATCH EXPORTS TO THE USA SINCE 2015 (MILLION CHF)
2018 2017 2016 2015
2,216.4 2,145.3 2,049.1 2,359.1
Richard Mille boutique in New York – its largest in the world – also marks the opening of a new era for the brand.
tailer Watches of Switzerland. As for Germany’s leading retailer, Wempe, it is firmly established in New York with a store on Fifth Avenue, as well as a space that the retailer operates for Rolex. All are attracted by the promise of a market that could grow in absolute numbers.
3rd upheaval: e-commerce favours second-hand watches
2nd upheaval: European retailers arrive in force A second major upheaval in the United States is the evolution of retail structures. As everywhere in the world, a significant proportion of brands intend to combine opening their own stores with controlling online sales to lock their distribution. The most recent cases are those of Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet, which both left the SIHH trade show at the same time. The recent opening of a Richard Mille boutique in New York – the largest in the world – also marks the opening of a new era. Audemars Piguet, meanwhile, intends to abandon distribution in multi-brand outlets within three and a half years, according to its CEO François-Henry Bennahmias. In the United States, there have been many closures of traditional small to medium-sized shops. We also see a growing concentration of distribution in a handful of powerful European chains that remain very close to their bestselling brands, such as Rolex, a dominant brand in the United States. We have observed the takeover of the Tourneau chain by the Swiss retail giant Bucherer, and that of the Mayors chain by British re30
Would the emergence of the internet encourage online sales of smartwatches? Or of ultracontemporary models? Neither, in fact. The first segment to benefit from the arrival of e-commerce has been the so-called “grandfather’s watch”, second- or even third-hand, on a market that is still often greyish, fuelled by genuine vintage timepieces, but also by the effects of an overproduction of watches, via socalled pre-owned models, in reality often “never-worn”, at fire-sale prices. The online watch sales landscape remains something of a jungle, but clearings are starting to appear. In this respect the United States, the cradle of digital technology, is acting as a pioneer, but it needs to be closely monitored. Beyond Amazon or eBay, major players specialising in the sale of second-hand luxury watches have set up shop. WatchBox has just opened an office in Switzerland, and there’s also True Facet. The latest step is to bring the online secondary market closer to authorised retailers and brands. WatchBox has set up a partnership with Californian retailer Hing Wa Lee, and its arrival in Switzerland is also related to its desire to offer brands a direct channel to the secondary market. The historic American retailer London Jewelers has established a partnership with the preowned platform Crown & Caliber. Having just raised $10 million in venture capital, True Facet is working with Silicon Valley retailer Stephen Silver, and also directly with brands such as Raymond Weil and Fendi.
A A RE IT P TH ’S O TA AT NO CA IL SI T L YP M
than the total number of closures recorded between 2003 and 2006. Although this phenomenon has been widely described as a “retail apocalypse”, the picture needs to be nuanced. Of course, the essence of the explanation lies in new purchasing behaviours: consumers no longer need to visit “super malls” to access product. But e-commerce’s share of total purchases nevertheless remains very small. According to the It’s the huge and US Department of Commerce, it acimpersonal shopping counted for just $452 billion of the malls, which more than $5 trillion ($5,000 billion) spent by Americans on retail in 2017. multiplied in the But according to Bloomberg, “[It] isn’t 1990s in the United as simple as Amazon.com Inc. taking States, that are under market share or twenty-somethings ooking beyond watchmaking, the greatest threat. spending more on experiences than the American retail sector has things. The root cause is that many of been under strong pressure for more than a these long-standing chains are overloaded with debt, decade now. Several hundred branches of department often from leveraged buyouts led by private equity stores such as Macy’s, Sears, Kmart and J.C. Penney are in firms.” the process of being liquidated. giants Toys “R” Us (toys) The problem seems to lie essentially in the oversupply and HH Greg (electronics) have declared bankruptcy. of commercial space in the United States. As Richard Payless (shoes) and Rue 21 (clothing) have managed to Hayne, CEO of Urban Outfitters, told The Guardian: restructure, but only after having been forced to close “The US market is oversaturated with retail space and many outlets. RadioShack, a long-established chain far too much of that space is occupied by stores selling of electronics stores, filed for bankruptcy before be- apparel.” Hayne traced the problems to over-expaning bought by an investment fund. A rather gloomy sion in the 1990s and early 2000s, noting that the US picture, then. now has six times the retail space per capita of either According to The Observer, half of the approximately Europe or Japan. 1,200 shopping malls spread throughout the United A reduction in the commercial space dedicated to a States could close by 2023. In 2017, commercial real es- shrinking US middle class is under way. E-commerce tate services company Cushman & Wakefield counted is gaining market share, but distance buying currently nearly 9,000 closures across the country. This is more accounts for only about 10% of total spending. What is more, e-commerce giant Amazon has started to invest in bricks and mortar, buying the Whole MAJOR CHAIN STORE CLOSURES Foods chain and launching its own Amazon Go stores. 14,000 The equation therefore seems to be more about find12,000 ing the best balance between physical and virtual pur10,000 chasing, according to an “omnichannel” model. 8,000 In this respect, the local store, which is less artificial 6,000 and more authentic than the mall, could even find 4,000 new life. Indeed, it’s the huge and impersonal shopping 2,000 malls, which multiplied in the 1990s in the United States, 0 that are under the greatest threat... Major Chain Store Closures
Forecast Major Chain Closures
Source: Cushman & Wakefield
The new Watches of Switzerland store in SoHo, New York City. The British retailer is undertaking a massive expansion plan in the United States.
EU W D R AT A O M O CH M PE M ER IN A A IC AT N RKE T A IO N IN
Leading Swiss retailer Bucherer, German leader Wempe and British powerhouse Watches of Switzerland have all invested heavily in acquisitions and store openings in the United States. The American market, already dominated by watch brands from the Old World, is becoming European in terms of retail as well.
ast December in New York, British watch retail giant Watches of Switzerland opened its first American point of sale. We had the opportunity to visit the two-storey space on Greene Street in SoHo, a district not traditionally known as a mecca for watches – most of the luxury stores being concentrated on Fifth or Madison Avenue. The British group has also opened a store in Las Vegas, as well as brand boutiques for Rolex, Omega and
Breitling, all located in the Wynn Hotel. No end to the expansion is in sight, as there are plans to open a store in the giant Hudson Yards real estate project in Manhattan this spring, and later on another boutique in the American Dream Meadowlands shopping mall, in New Jersey. “It’s not just about gaining market share,” says David Hurley, Executive Vice President of Watches of Switzerland. “The American market can grow in absolute terms. It is already six times the size of the British market in terms of jewellery. However, it is only one and a half times the size of the United Kingdom in terms of watches. You can see the growth potential.” The group is owned by Apollo Global Management, which is expected to go public in 2019, according to several sources. A real giant is setting foot in the United States. Earlier in the year, Watches of Switzerland swallowed up the Mayors jewellery and watchmaking chain, which operates in Florida and Georgia through
A clash of cultures? Smaller, traditional American retailers can legitimately fear the arrival of these European “super-retailers”, who are very close a network of 17 stores (including one geographically, culturally and strateoperated for Rolex): “Thanks to the acgically to their Swiss partners. quisition of this more than 100-yearIn an article published on the Forbes old company, we are learning a lot in website in March 2018, entitled How preparation for our expansion in the The Swiss Luxury Watch Industry Is DisUnited States,” says David Hurley. mantling Business Operations In America, American watch journalist Ariel Adams, founder of the specialised online platform A Blog to Watch, exThe Tourneau turning point pressed concern about the growing control of Swiss and European comAnother giant in European retail, the “It’s not just about panies over distribution networks in Swiss group Bucherer, triggered an gaining market share. the United States. earthquake one year ago when it bought The American market He writes: “Americans and Swiss in this Tourneau, a historical American chain industry will never see eye to eye on founded in 1900 and the largest luxury can grow in absolute most things. A perpetually contentious watch retailer in the United States, terms. It is already six relationship (…) has advanced to a with more than twenty sales outlets state where one by one, fewer and fewer around the country. Tourneau had also times the size of the Americans are actually working in the strongly developed sales of pre-owned British market in terms American luxury watch sales industry.” watches and e-commerce, two fast- of jewellery. However, He continues: “Recently, overseas comgrowing segments. it is only one and a panies have been purchasing historiBucherer, being very close to its longcally American-run high-end watch standing partner Rolex, did not miss half times the size of store chains. I interpret these moves this opportunity to dip its toe into the United Kingdom to acquire US watch retail chains the American market, which could in terms of watches.” as an attempt to promote further further strengthen the crown brand’s vertical integration of efforts (thus dominance in the United States. The David Hurley, Executive Vice President family business from Lucerne will also of Watches of Switzerland keeping margins closer to home), as have the opportunity to develop its well as having the effect of even more own brand, Carl F. Bucherer, on the US market. Since Americans exiting the luxury watch sales and distrithen, the Bucherer group has also acquired Baron & bution industry in the United States.” Leeds, another watch retail chain that operates in Cali- Can we expect to see a major culture clash? fornia and Hawaii, and is also a partner of Rolex. “We bring expertise in retail,” says David Hurley at The period of upheaval in the watchmaking sector Watches of Switzerland. “I believe that it is the unthat began with the 2014 Chinese crisis has therefore tapped potential of the American market, with sales fully benefited a giant like Bucherer, whose empire still far from the real size of the country, that explains now extends from Europe to the United States. And our interest and that of other European retailers. We the American market does indeed seem to be the new are investing in luxury, digital and pre-owned to bring playground for major European retailers. For its part, growth to the United States.” the German retail leader Wempe operates a prestigious boutique in New York, as well as a brand boutique for... Rolex, yet again. 36
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In the place where the erstwhile giants of American watchmaking, including Hamilton Watch Company, were established, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, we met Roland G. Murphy. This master watch restorer founded the RGM Watch Company brand in 1992, the only American watchmaker still producing its own mechanical movements. He represents an isolated, independent mind on the other side of the Atlantic, far away from the Swiss ecosystem.
GM Watch Company is housed in a former bank in the small town of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania. It’s a solid brick-built structure with a vintage but still very reliable safe. On the ground floor, three watchmakers are busy at their workbenches. After the tour, the discussion begins with Roland G. Murphy, one of America’s only master clock and watchmakers. “The United States has always been a country oriented towards mass watch production, before everything moved to Asia,” says Roland Murphy. “The large factories in our region operated very differently from our craft workshops. In a sense, I am an heir to this watchmaking tradition, but an heir with a very different face.” He feels closer in spirit to the likes of Kari Voutilainen, Svend Andersen, Peter Speake-Marin or the Grönefeld brothers. However, it was at the Hamilton facilities in Lancaster that it all began for the native of Maryland. Before Hamilton he completed an apprenticeship as a carpenter. During that time he took a job with Danecker Clock Co. where he worked on the wooden cabinets for clocks. When the company went bankrupt, Roland Murphy bought the stock of clocks and began to analyse their movements. This was the beginning of a passion that still grips him today.
A pioneer in the “new wave” of independents
The headquarters of the company: a former bank in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania.
He joined a technical school in Pennsylvania (which has since closed its doors) to take a watchmaking course, before flying to Switzerland in 1986, where he perfected his skills at Wostep in Neuchâtel. Back in the United States, he was hired by SMH to work on product development for the Hamilton brand in Lancaster.
“One day, a customer went to a point of sale that represented me in California and asked for the price of one of my watches: the retailer immediately redirected him to another brand. This happened three times in three months. Enough to understand that this was no accident.” Roland G. Murphy, founder of RGM Watch Company
However, Roland Murphy did not really feel at home in a group, where individual initiative is necessarily limited by the many constraints, work meetings and hierarchical superiors. Besides, he missed working with his hands. He decided to leave the group. Hamilton, meanwhile, would relocate permanently to Biel in 2003. At the beginning of the 1990s, there were just a handful of independent master watchmakers, a new generation led by François-Paul Journe, Franck Muller, Antoine Preziuso and Vincent Calabrese – a far cry from the current Carré des Horlogers! When he founded RGM Watch Company in 1992, Roland Murphy was one of the early birds of this “new wave” in watchmaking. And he was operating under additional constraints, because of his location, far from Switzerland’s watch supply chains. “My colleagues have access to local technologies and skilled labour, support from foundations and much more media attention,” says Roland Murphy. “I’ve been wanting to hire a Finnish watchmaker for several years now, a former intern, but working visas are very difficult to obtain.” 39
Bad retail experiences Most customers are American watch connoisseurs. Roland Murphy chose to switch to a 100% direct sales model more than a decade ago, after a series of bad Fortunately for him, the watchmaker initially acquired experiences with retailers. a large number of Nivarox assortments via third parties, “At first, I started by collaborating with retailers, but which he still uses today. The first models were skeleton- I realised that it was better to give it up for a small ised column-wheel chronographs equipped with Valjoux independent brand like mine,” explains the watchmovements. With the help of Jean-Daniel Dubois (now maker. “The major brands give advantages to sellers director of Vaucher Manufacture), then at Lemania, he to ensure their supremacy. One day, a customer went was also able to launch several small series of tourbillon, to a point of sale that represented me in California minute repeater and perpetual calendar watches. and asked for the price of one of my watches: he was At the same time, he continues to work as a restorer immediately redirected to another brand. This hapof vintage timepieces, providing after-sales service in pened three times in three months. Enough to unthe United States for brands such as Sinn, Eberhard derstand that it was no accident.” & Co. and Titoni. This supports RGM’s activity as an RGM Watch Company took the drastic step of withindependent brand, with a dozen emdrawing from the dozen or so points of ployees today. sale that represented it in the United In 2007 the RGM Watch Company States. “By getting rid of this margin, it launched its first in-house movement afalso allowed me to offer more affordater seven years in development. Today, the ble models,” continues Roland Murphy. company has four Made in America cali“In the end, we reduced production and bres, for an annual production of some increased our margins. With the advent 250 watches. The brand has specialised of the internet, we have really grown, in the segment of custom-made models, especially thanks to the impact of social a growing niche, as well as in the trade-in networks and the support of specialised of second-hand timepieces against new blogs.” The watchmaker manages the RGM watches. RGM Calibre 20 movement with motor Instagram account of his brand himself.
How to source critical components
barrel and precise moonphase
A certain vision of Americana
A region forgetting its horological past
Current collections include the Pennsylvania series, which ranges from models under $10,000, equipped with custom cases, with parts made by a local aerospace industry supplier (!), to a tourbillon model in steel priced at $95,000. For the company’s twentieth anniversary in 2012, the Calibre 20 was launched on a model with guilloché dial and precise moon-phase indication. The most recent movement developed by Roland Murphy and his team is the Calibre 801 with a sweep second, inspired by Patek Philippe’s classic central second system. The watchmaker is currently working on a new higher-end calibre, similar to the Zenith 135 or the Peseux 260. RGM Watch Company also uses ETA movements to offer more accessible watches, such as the 151 model priced at $3,000. The company even offers its vision of Americana through the Baseball Watch model.
With his experience as a restorer, the watchmaker doesn’t want to hear about using silicon in his calibres: “When I think of a watch, I think of its repair in several decades’ time. Too few brands take this into account. This is also why independents are so popular with collectors. We’re dealing with humans, not technocrats.” Roland Murphy's succession seems to be assured, since his son-in-law works for the company, and his son has just graduated with a specialisation in CNC operations. The citizens of his region are no longer exposed to the importance of the watchmaking industry, however. “Many people are unaware of the long industrial and watchmaking heritage of our territory, despite the presence of the National Museum of Watchmakers and Clockmakers.” So, with his good humour and sincere speech, Roland Murphy acts as a salutary reminder, which may lead to new vocations among those whose grandparents devoted their lives to watchmaking.
PS-801-CH “Chess in Enamel”: the first RGM timepiece with a double-sunk real glass fired enamel dial. The inspiration for this watch was a pocket watch given to American chess master Paul Morphy in 1859.
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When he visited the Worldâ€™s Fair in Philadelphia in 1876, Swiss watchmaker Jacques David was alarmed by the rapid growth of American industry. His letter to his colleagues remains famous, as it triggered a strong wave of modernisation in the Swiss industry. We take a look back at the most successful years of the Made in USA watch.
ndirectly, Swiss watchmaking owes a debt of gratitude to American industrial genius. Indeed, it was the threat of obsolescence in the face of US productivism that set in motion a major project to modernise the working structures of the Swiss watch industry at the end of the 19th century. Something similar would happen again a century later, in the face of the performance of the Japanese quartz watch... America was built on the conquest of new territories and the advance of the railways deeper and deeper into the Wild West. Watchmakers played a major role in this undertaking by providing time measurement tools to coordinate this progress and avoid accidents in a very large country with a multitude of time zones. For the needs of the railway and the conquest of the West, American watchmakers worked hard to accelerate production, quickly moving towards assembly lines and mechanisation. At the Philadelphia International Exhibition in 1876, Waltham, based in Massachusetts, demonstrated the capabilities of a watch production line, introducing a fully automated machine to manufacture precision screws. This had a great impact on Jacques David, Longines’ technical director. His letter to his compatriots, entitled “MM. Les Horlogers Suisses: Réveillez-vous” (Swiss watchmakers, wake up!), acted as an alarm bell for the Swiss industry, which was still largely based on the age-old system of “établissage”.
Military issued Bulova A17 Vietnam War era
Between 1850 and 1957, Waltham produced around 40 million watches, clocks, speed counters, compasses, detonators and other high-precision instruments. Another national company, Elgin, based in Illinois, supplied nearly half of the total number of pocket watches manufactured in the United States during its century of existence from 1864 to 1964. Another brand, launched in New York by Bohemian immigrant Joseph Bulova, established itself as one of the pioneers of standardised mass production of watches. It aired the first radio commercial, providing the time to millions of Americans from 1926 onwards. 43
Hamilton, still known to the general public but now under a Swiss flag, was founded in 1892 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Its history is linked to the advance of the railway in the United States: in the 1920s, more than half of Hamiltonâ€™s production was devoted to watches for railway employees. But it also accompanied the rise of the American army: GIs wore Hamilton timepieces during the D-Day landings. The Second World War saw the Lancaster firm produce one million chronographs for the needs of the army. American watch factories were operating at full capacity at the time... 44
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The Detroit firm is a symbol in the American industrial city. Thanks to its partnership with Ronda and a network of own-brand stores, it has managed to make a name for itself in the cool and young quartz watch segment in the United States. The opening of a hotel in its home town accentuates its lifestyle aspect. Shinola is now introducing new lines equipped with mechanical calibres. 46
A view of the interior of Shinola’s first hotel in Detroit.
fter watches, bikes, notebooks and recordplayers, it’s the turn of loudspeakers and headphones, as well as a hotel and a brand of cola. After all, why should a watch brand restrict itself to its primary mission, especially if its groove is lifestyle? Shinola, launched in 2011 by Tom Kartsotis (the cofounder of Fossil), has taken things to an extreme, since it is has just opened its first hotel in Detroit. The leitmotiv of this ongoing diversification, in whatever product category, is design. Watches remain the principal business of this young brand with an old name – Shinola was a famous American shoe polish manufacturer during the first half of the twentieth century. The careful, ultra-classic, elegant design of the watches has won over new generations of buyers in the United States. The best-selling lines are the Bedrock and the Runwell, with prices ranging from USD 550 to 2,200. The brand has so far produced almost exclusively quartz watches, except for a few mechanical series in limited editions. And quite naturally so, since the Shinola factory in Detroit, where the watches are assembled, was born of a partnership with a Swiss champion of quartz watches, Ronda. However, in 2019 it is launching an offensive on the automatic watch front, this time partnering with Sellita to supply calibres for the new Runwell Automatic timepieces.
Today the company has no fewer than 28 proprietary boutiques in the US, from Boston to Honolulu. It is also distributed in several renowned stores in Europe, such as Le Bon Marché in Paris, and has opened its own store on the Old Continent, in London.
A new calibre in Motor City A few years ago, the brand was admonished by the strict Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the Swiss and non-American origins of certain components of its watches, including, precisely, those from its partner Ronda. Since then, it has had to use the label “Built in Detroit using Swiss and imported parts”. But who cares about the label, the locals would say, because in Detroit, the brand has become the living symbol of a city which is seeking to create a post-industrial dream, “Motor City” having been ruined long since by globalised delocalisation. Shinola now employs more than 650 people across factories, retail, and corporate. The brand shares its Argonaut Building premises with a famous industrial design establishment, the College for Creative Studies, and does not hesitate to make use of its young talent. Not content with just reburnishing Detroit’s image, Shinola is now placing itself in the role of moral support-giver to immigrants, with its Statue of Liberty line, an extension of its Great Americans series and, first and foremost, a reference to a tense political context on this issue in the United States.
The new Shinola Runwell Automatic is powered by a Sellita movement.
The challenge facing Shinola will be to withstand the test of time, when the current predilection for ultraclassic, vintage lines starts to wane. What will happen the day when the hipsters shave off their beards and start looking ahead, towards more futuristic products once again? On that day, Shinola will have to be able to fall back on its natural elegance.
A series of limited-edition Grand Seiko Spring Drive models have been launched for the American market. The "Kara-zuri" dial is inspired by ukiyo-e paintings and the textures featured in portraits of Kabuki actors.
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The new deployment of the Japanese brand overseas starts with America. Seiko has opened the world’s first boutique dedicated exclusively to Grand Seiko in Beverly Hills. It has also launched a series of limited editions for the US market. Interview with the American management.
rand Seiko, previously Seiko‘s upscale collec- The first brand store has opened in Beverly Hills, tion, has broken away from the parent com- there are limited editions for the US market and pany to become a fully-fledged brand in its you’ve enjoyed a favourable reception by retailers own right. This is part of an ambition to conquer a and collectors. The new global ambition of Grand bigger share of the global Haute Horlogerie market. Seiko seems to have found fertile ground in the In Japan itself, Grand Seiko was already United States… renowned for the finesse of its design and the precision of its calibres. But Akio Naito: Indeed, the new strategy elsewhere in the world, and especially makes sense here. We have to catch in the United States, the name “Seiko” up with all the potential that has not was mostly associated with entry-level yet been deployed by Grand Seiko watches, since the quartz revolution in the luxury market in the past, esthat saw the Japanese brand conquer pecially in the United States. Grand the planet. Seiko, born in 1960, had until now It was to correct this narrow vision of been almost exclusively promoted in the breadth of the company’s offering the Japanese domestic market. When that Grand Seiko freed itself. And it is the company decided to expand innaturally in the United States that the “The United States is ternationally, it did so first through first effects have been felt the quickest. already the biggest its production of affordable watches No coincidence, then, if the world’s market for Grand Seiko and not its more luxurious ranges. first Grand Seiko Boutique was inauguThat’s why, even today and excluding rated in Los Angeles, on Rodeo Drive in outside of Japan.” Japan, a majority of people associate Beverly Hills. the name Seiko with an affordable Brice Le Troadec, Brand President Europa Star had the opportunity to of Grand Seiko America brand. In the United States, the averspeak with two key figures about the deage price of a Seiko remains less than velopment of the new entity in the United States: Akio half of that in Japan! Naito, Chairman and CEO of Grand Seiko Corporation of America, and Brice Le Troadec, Brand President of Grand Seiko America. 49
Brice Le Troadec: We are very pleased with the first results of this strategic decision to make Grand Seiko a brand apart. Collectors who already know the brand are our first customers, but we intend to gradually expand this base to a wider audience. US retailers are very excited! We are delighted to see so many new customers interested in Grand Seiko. The United States is already the biggest market for Grand Seiko outside of Japan.
We are also proud of our partnership with Hodinkee, who have a successful e-shop.
The United States remains a stronghold of brands like Rolex and Breitling. How do you intend to convince American buyers?
You have opened a Grand Seiko store in Los Angeles and have Seiko stores in New York and Miami. What is your strategy for the distribution of Grand Seiko in the United States, especially in terms of the difference between retail and wholesale networks? Akio Naito: The flagship store inaugurated in Beverly Hills is part of our new strategy, because it allows us to control our image in order to deepen this market. However, the idea is not to multiply brand stores. The wholesale network is our priority. Our goal is to have approximately sixty Grand Seiko partners of high quality in the United States.
“Our goal is to have approximately sixty Grand Seiko partners of high quality in the United States.” Akio Naito, Chairman and CEO of Grand Seiko Corporation of America
What about online distribution? Brice Le Troadec: We currently do not have a Grand Seiko e-commerce platform; however, it is possible to find Grand Seiko models online through our authorised retail partners, but not the extended collection. 50
Akio Naito: We offer very high-quality watches, with a focus on precision and finishing. The most sought-after Grand Seiko models are powered by our innovative Spring Drive in-house movement. Watches equipped with high-frequency Hi-Beat calibres are also particularly popular. As for our prices, they start at $2,200 for quartz watches. In general, I was surprised by the young age of Grand Seiko collectors in America. Our models are particularly appreciated by the new entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley, and have a very strong appreciation from watch connoisseurs who understand the intense craftsmanship with which the brand has become synonymous.
Brice Le Troadec: We have launched three Grand Seiko Spring Drive models reserved for the American market, with very original finishes and motifs on the dial, introduced as “Kabuki Kimono” dials. The dial texture is inspired by the Karazuri “empty printing” technique used in the texture of the kimonos worn by actors in Kabuki theatre. We are counting on these limited series of the 44G line, which have been very well received, to increase our brand recognition in the United States.
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From his new Manhattan boutique, Leon Adams, a leading figure on the American watchmaking stage, details his strategy for resisting the growing influence of large watch chains and mono-brand boutiques. It is all about working with independent brands that share similar values.
n the watch industry, Cellini is e-commerce by major actors are pushnot just the name of a famous ing Leon Adams and others like him to Rolex collection. It is also that of get closer to smaller, more exclusive a historic and uncompromising New brands with whom dialogue is easier. York watch and jewellery boutique. In 1977, Leon Adams opened his first store in Manhattan’s legendary Waldorf Fewer options for retailers Astoria. More than 40 years later, while the hotel (now owned by the Chinese “With the development of e-commerce Anbang Insurance Group) is being renand the distribution network, many ovated, the retailer, who works with his brands have pushed the retailer comtwo daughters, has just moved to a new “With the development pletely to the sidelines,” explains this of e-commerce space on Park Avenue. astute connoisseur of watchmaking Once spread over two shops between and the distribution history. “Nothing is attributed to us, in the Waldorf Astoria and Madison network, many brands terms of online promotion, for examAvenue, the collections are now unple. Their key interest is to make their have pushed the der one roof. “Park Avenue is not the own stores profitable.” retailer completely typical shopping destination, it is not The retailer continues his analysis: “I am where the majority of watch stores are to the sidelines.” not against the idea of a mono-brand located,” explains Leon Adams. “And in store, which can make sense in large Leon Adams, founder of the end, it’s good, because we have an Cellini in Manhattan cities. But I don’t understand the need offer that sets us apart just as much.” to open brand boutiques everywhere, The nearest watch destinations are the headquarters of including in more remote areas.” the Phillips auction house, as well as Richard Mille If Leon Adams thinks that brands are barking up the and Audemars Piguet boutiques. wrong tree, it is also because these strategies, “by Indeed, Audemars Piguet illustrates the problem facing pulling production upwards, are strengthening the a large number of American retailers: with its strategy grey market.” The only way to resolve this, says the reof direct control of its distribution, the Le Brassus brand tailer, “is not to open new stores or online platforms, recently ended a 40-year partnership with Cellini. The but to reduce production and improve product traceopening of brand boutiques and the development of ability.”
In the face of these adverse conditions, Cellini’s strategy has been to grow with independent high-end brands that have neither the size nor the pressure power of the giants. The retailer’s portfolio highlights companies such as Ressence, Urban Jürgensen, Voutilainen, De Bethune, Romain Gauthier, MB&F, Greubel Forsey, H. Moser & Cie, Laurent Ferrier and, very recently, Grönefeld.
All for the local collector “And it’s a phenomenal success,” says Leon Adams. “This brings a new customer base. While the mainstream market has been relatively stagnant in terms of technological innovation in recent years, these highly
creative independent brands are attracting a lot of interest.” In recent years, the number of tourists has also declined due to the appreciation of the dollar, making it even more essential to find strategies for reviving the local customer base. “The watch business in America is becoming a little healthier, because a certain number of brands have finally decided to reduce their production and release fewer new products, thus stopping flooding the market,” admits Leon Adams. “Other companies, such as our partners Vacheron Constantin or Jaeger-LeCoultre, have decided to launch new, more affordable collections, which should therefore be easier to sell. But what still hurts our business is that brands continue to try to sell directly and forcefully. The grey market remains far too important. The industry created this monster.”
MB&F and Ressence are among the “indy” watch brands carried by Cellini.
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He is an embodiment of the American dream. His father, a gemstone carver, made it to Hong Kong under incredibly difficult circumstances before emigrating to California. David Lee is now a watch retailer with unusual business acumen, as well as being one of the world’s greatest collectors of Ferraris.
avid Lee’s Instagram account, A growing target group aka “ferraricollector_davidlee”, has all the elements you might Now 52 years old and preparing the expect from the lifestyle of the superthird generation to take over, David rich in Southern California, like sports Lee took the initiative to start opening cars, private jets and extravagant watchstores and diversifying into watchmakes. The owner of Hing Wa Lee Jewelers, ing when he joined the family business in San Gabriel and Walnut, has one milin 1992. “Today, we are satisfied because lion subscribers on his private account. we have 99% of the watches we like to As a representative of Rolex, Cartier, sell,” says the entrepreneur. Richard Mille, Hublot and Omega, he With Chinese customers largely “Some of our addresses a very specific clientele: the dominating global watch sales, some wealthy Asian community in Southern competitors can speak other stores in the region now hire California, whether they are residents Chinese, but the big employees with a good command of or visitors. It’s a successful niche for one difference is that we the language. David Lee, however, inof the last multi-brand retailers in this tends to keep his grip on his clientele, think in Chinese!” region. David Lee has dramatically inwith a simple formula: “Some of our creased the turnover of the family busi- David Lee, owner of Hing Wa Lee competitors can speak Chinese, but ness founded 50 years ago by his father, Jewelers in South California the big difference is that we think in a gemstone carver, since he took over. Chinese! The entire team is able to After swimming across the inlet between Hong Kong manage the Chinese market in its diversity: a Shangand Macau, an extremely dangerous journey, his fa- hai customer is not a Beijing customer. It’s easier to do ther settled in the United States in 1980 as a jewellery business with our cultural knowledge.” distributor.
The pre-owned equation Aside from his high-traffic Instagram account, David Lee uses the internet mainly for information purposes: “We are not authorised by brands to sell online. In any case, we would not be able to compete with the grey market. And anyone looking to buy a watch online is looking for the best price, not an experience. Brands don’t have the solution yet.” The retailer has also diversified into real estate: “Given the changes in the distribution structure, I am interested in any investment opportunity in store takeovers. We have a solid financial base and the ability to grow. For example, we can consider taking over retailers who want to retire or fail to keep up the investments requested by the brands.”
In the latest adaptation to date, in response to the growth of the secondary market, Hing Wa Lee has entered into a partnership with the WatchBox platform, which specialises in the sale of second-hand luxury watches. “This is the first partnership of its kind,” says the retailer. “It started in October. The results are good, because there is a real need for recycling pre-owned watches in the industry, and we do a lot of trade-in, even if the brands themselves don’t really know how to deal with this segment yet.” Chinese clients, who are the main focus at Hing Wa Lee, want above all to buy new watches: “But there is a real interest when it comes to selling a pre-owned watch and exchanging it for a new one. We thus answer this equation.”
The Hing Wa Lee Plaza store in Walnut, with the personal Ferrari collection of owner David Lee.
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The fourth generation of the Udell family has arrived at the Long Island retailer, which has also expanded into Manhattan. Deeply rooted in its community, it has created its own “artery of luxury” on Long Island, an alignment of boutiques combining watchmaking and jewellery, as well as multi- and mono-brand stores.
f we could only mention one historical family watch retailer in the United States, it would probably be London Jewelers on Long Island. It’s simple: we met the whole family, the third and fourth generation, and each member took turns telling their story, with strictly rationed speaking time. After more than 90 years in business, London Jewelers has boutiques in Manhasset, Greenvale, Glen Cove, East Hampton and Southampton on Long Island, as well as in the Oculus at Westfield World Trade Center, in Manhattan. The retailer has created a unique boutique alignment in Manhasset, where it operates a true “artery of luxury”: a multi-brand store, a Van Cleef & Arpels boutique, a Chanel boutique, a David Yurman boutique, a Cartier boutique, and an innovative bridal concept boutique exist side by side.
Territorial control Candy Udell is in charge of the jewellery department within the family company, which also produces its own collections. Daughter Randi assists in design and is also responsible for social media. Mark and Candy's son Scott is responsible for growing the digital business and oversees the Two by London bridal boutique. As for watches, the retailer has long represented the essentials: Rolex, Cartier, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe. Today, it has a portfolio of around 40 brands. Not surprisingly, London Jewelers focuses primarily on
“We are deeply rooted in our region, with warm and almost family ties with our customers.”
retailer also invests in e-commerce, for strong personal relationships with its a selection of brands that allow it. It sophisticated clientele: “Our advanhas also just entered into a partnertage is hands-on local service rather ship with the online platform Crown than digital distance. Touch and feel Zachary, Jessica, Scott, Candy and Mark & Caliber, which specialises in prehas never been more important than it Udell, Randi Udell-Alper, Scott Alper owned, in line with a strong trend in is today,” says Mark Udell. Above all, the brand can count on a territory with a the sector in the United States. well-off and loyal clientele, where it is very dominant. Owners of luxury watches are now able to resell or ex“The market is very healthy,” notes watch specialist change their models in London Jewelers’ boutiques. Zachary Udell. “We are addressing a clientele that is Watches are evaluated by Crown & Caliber. In exchange, looking for a relationship of trust.” About 65% of turn- they can choose to receive the watch’s value in cash, or over is based on jewellery. One of the biggest challeng- purchase credits from London Jewelers – in the latter es in selling watches, as is the case for many luxury re- case for an amount 20% higher than the first option. tailers today, is access to the product, notably the most In addition, the retailer, which has already branched out from Long Island for the first time to open a bousought-after models by Rolex and Patek Philippe. tique in the Oculus in Manhattan, is not ruling out further expansion, if the right opportunity presents itself. “Retail is not dead,” says Mark Udell. “But we A first boutique in Manhattan only plan to go where there is insufficient supply and “We are a family-owned business of 93 years where in- where development would be viable.” tegrity, service and attention to detail come first,” says Candy Udell. “We are deeply rooted in our region, with warm and almost family ties with our customers.” The
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Located in the richest valley of the world, the independent retailer has access to a constantly growing pool of customers. Since its extension to watchmaking in 2014, the jeweller has been working with Bitcoin and independent brands.
In 2008 they opened their first small store dedicated to jewellery. Stephen Silver’s son continues: “I saw all the development potential that exists in the region with watchmaking, in order to reach a male clientele. Finally, in 2014, we opened a watch store, which from the beginning accepted crypto-currencies as a means of payment.” Most of the customers are young, with strong purchasing power, already collectors, with a pronounced taste for the exclusive and disruptive luxury segment. “Of course, they are very active people who travel a lot and could buy watches anywhere in the world, but we offer two advantages: a solid inventory and a responsive local service,” explains Jared Silver.
A relaxed mode of selling luxury timepieces
The young entrepreneur defends the idea of an “authentic” vision of watchmaking in a standardised world, where products and stores are increasingly homogeneous: “New generations cannot necessarily find their way there, because they place a premium on authenticity and originality. They are looking for a local and real experience, in a relaxed way. Everyone knows tephen Silver delivers some of “Would you dare to buy the products of the major brands. But the world’s most exclusive watchwho has ever had the chance or oppora De Bethune online es to some of the most powertunity to try a De Bethune? And would ful men on the planet. In the heart of without seeing it with you dare to buy it online without seeSilicon Valley, its stores in Redwood your own eyes?” ing it with your own eyes?” City and Menlo Park offer a selection Jared Silver, Silicon Valley retailer As for watches that are better known of really rare watches – no mainstream to the public, Stephen Silver has debrands here, only models by Greubel Forsey, F.P. Journe, cided to team up with True Facet, an online platform Richard Mille, HYT, Bovet, De Bethune, Hermès, Bell & for the sale of second-hand luxury watches, to offer Ross, MB&F, Ressence, Laurent Ferrier and Urwerk. Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet timepiecThe best in the independent and ultra-contemporary es to its customers in Silicon Valley. watchmaking scene. It’s a way of uniting the old and the new, the physi“My father is a gemmologist by training. He started out cal and the virtual, but also the exclusivity of niche as a jewellery distributor and a consultant to wealthy brands with the desirability of the industry’s icons. entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, where he has built a And all that is aimed at a very specific audience, made very good network and privileged relationships with up of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who appreciate the venture capital funds,” says Jared Silver, who joined value of tangible products all the more because they the family company founded in 1980. are shaping an ever more virtual world...
From top, clockwise: Stephen and Jared Silver. The retailer carries the ultra-exclusive creations of Greubel Forsey. A view of the Stephen Silver store in Menlo Park.
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Since Roosevelt in the 1930s, the American political establishment has been buying jewellery from a specific retailer: Tiny Jewel Box. This historic address in Washington DC successfully added watches to its portfolio in 2001. Tiny is beautiful
Unlike many of their competitors, We’re always very happy when we the Rosenheim family systematicalget a call from 1600 Pennsylvania ly refused to open other stores, turnAvenue.” Matthew Rosenheim ing their only boutique, which now has a rare privilege in the watch indusoccupies a historic building in the city try: the president and owner of the centre, into an impregnable bastion Tiny Jewel Box boutique, which has of jewellery and watchmaking. Its hissold timepieces for 17 years, is Rolex’s tory began – unusually in the industry exclusive representative in central – with a woman, Roz Rosenheim, who Washington DC – the most internaopened her jewellery store in Washingtionally sought-after brand, in the ton in 1930 and counted Franklin Depolitical heart of the most powerful “Here, the local lano Roosevelt as a regular customer. country on the planet. While many The exhibition space is no longer concurrency is not fear for the survival of the “bricks-andfined to the 100 square feet of the mortar” model, such a competitive money, but your original shop (hence the name of the network, who will take advantage is difficult to beat. boutique); its area has multiplied by “In many ways, and despite all the your call or not!” 80 in 80 years, as the Washington Post technological developments, my Matthew Rosenheim, CEO of Tiny underlined in a portrait of this iconic job remains very similar to that of Jewel Box in Washington DC DC store. “We like the idea of a single my grandparents,” Matthew Rosendestination, embodied by familiar facheim emphasises. “We do business based on human es, with the owner on site to welcome you,” Matthew relations. Of course, we develop new strategies, but Rosenheim explains. “When you operate a family busisometimes the simplest things work best.” Here, each ness, it is difficult to separate the business from your new product entry is meticulously thought out by the personal interests.” Rosenheim family.
The Tiny Jewel Box store in downtown Washington DC.
Watchmaking and “understatement” The basic conditions are rather favourable to Tiny Jewel Box. This unique location, a stone’s throw from the White House, has always determined its destiny. Moreover, few brands have opened their own boutiques in the American capital. The proximity of New York probably plays a role, but also the profile of their (rather conservative) clientele. “I believe that there is a whole fringe of watchmaking clientele that is not necessarily ready to adhere to the concept of a single-brand boutique. The concept of ‘brand loyalty’ is now more in question than ever,” says Matthew Rosenheim. Over and above the advantages of its location, it was Tiny Jewel Box’s cautious and highly selective strategy that paid off. Initially a jeweller, the company expanded into watchmaking quite late, at the turn of the year 2000. It has since caught up quickly, forging successive partnerships with Rolex in 2001, Cartier in 2015 (which coincided with the expansion of the boutique, taking over premises previously occupied by Burberry, and freeing up a lot of space for the new watchmaking section) and Patek Philippe in 2016. Sporting timepieces with a disruptive design or covered with precious materials do not necessarily fit in 62
with the electoral base and the public service mission of its representatives. The word “understatement” takes on its full meaning here – and has nothing to do with purchasing power... “Here, the local currency is not money, but your network, who will take your call or not!” Matthew Rosenheim points out.
When Obama and Bush meet Political elites, including a series of American presidents, are the primary clientele of this prestigious address. During the 2008 presidential transition, Michelle Obama presented Laura Bush with a gift from Tiny Jewel Box. A vintage brooch that the Obamas presented to the Queen of England in 2011 also came from there. In addition to customers and institutions from the political world, the shop also attracts businessmen visiting the American capital. The demographic structure of the city itself is changing. While the middle to wealthy classes settled in the suburbs from the 1960s onwards, as they did in many other American cities, we are now witnessing the opposite phenomenon, with the corollary of a real estate boom. Washington is gentrifying.
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Craig Robins, CEO of Dacra Development and the man behind the Miami Design District, talks about the creation of this experimental shopping experience, unusual for the United States, mixing architecture and business. It’s where the Watches & Wonders fair takes place.
Craig Robins, “father” of the Miami Design District
I was born in Miami Beach, with a father working in real estate. My focus has always been to merge my interest in art with my interest in real estate. The first artist I convinced to come to South Beach was Keith Haring. Every time, the idea was to discover the next neighbourhood: after South Beach, my focus went to developing the Design District project. What I find interesting in this project is that it is a contained area, with development we can control. We want to make it an iconic cultural destination. You don’t need to come to shop, you can simply walk around and see architectural and design masterpieces such as the façade imagined by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto. Global brands like Louis Vuitton or Hermès create stores here that are different from the rest of the world. It is this combination of business and architectural discovery that makes the Design District an international experience. During this year’s Watches & Wonders, we welcomed more people than ever before, from watch connoisseurs and car fanatics to locals and first-time visitors. Foot traffic almost doubled from last year, reaching nearly 28,000 attendees over three days. What will happen now is that we want more critical mass in the district, building on events like Watches & Wonders. We can still add space to this neighbourhood, with good perspectives for residential and offices. As for my personal taste in watches, I like wearing the Lamborghini edition created by Roger Dubuis. Timepieces fall naturally for me in the collectible category: the more you know, the more interesting they become. The amount of talent and engineering is fascinating. But I am still a complete amateur!”
(transcript of a talk given at Watches & Wonders 2019 and on Hodinkee Radio Live)
A view of the Palm Court plaza in the heart of the Miami Design District. 64
HIGHLIGHTS This sponsored section gives our partners the opportunity to introduce their latest developments. Be it exclusive timepieces, legends of watchmaking or disruptive models, it shows a variety of designs, techniques and proposals. In a nutshell, it offers a glimpse into the incredible creativity present in the watch industry. We also take the opportunity afforded by our recently digitised 60,000+ pages of archives to go back in time and include some articles that we wrote back in the 1960s, 1970s or even earlier, about the timepieces presented by our partners. Look out for the archives in some of these Highlights. As a matter of fact, this section also highlights the longstanding coverage of industry news by our publication. And for the industry in charge of measuring it, isnâ€™t time the most precious resource of all?
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URBAN JÜRGENSEN GENESIS OF A WATCH
FIRST SIGHTING OF THE JÜRGENSEN ONE (PART 2/5) In our January issue, we introduced the concept laying the foundation for the first luxury stainless steel collection in the history of Urban Jürgensen. In this new episode, we highlight the design of the new timepiece, baptised “Jürgensen One”, which is a direct result of this philosophy. With these four new timepieces, the CEO hopes to bring a note of freshness to the vaunted luxury stainless steel category, that “has seen very little real news since its defining era in the 1970’s with Gerald Genta’s designs and their inspired variants”. The design as a whole – calm yet edgy, classic yet futuristic, elegant yet robust – achieve a form of balance. Søren Jenry Petersen is “particularly The evolutive DNA concept used by Urban Jürgensen proud of the bracelet integration and to create the new One Collection. the double shape pointed oval connd the watch is born! The concept out- struction, which were done with an absolute master lined in the first episode is now a concrete of bracelet manufacturing”. He continues: “I believe timepiece, the Jürgsensen One, introduced we have created an attractive option for the indein 3-hand and GMT versions. “Evolving a concept to pendently thinking client, who is not content to sima final design is not a committee or project team ply follow some hyped, partly old, artificial trend, but process – you need to have decision-making rooted quietly and knowledgeably makes a choice to invest in a honed sense of product culture and, like a good in something truly rare and exceptional.” architect, summon all decisions and tradeoffs while Where did the design inspiration come from? “Born always pushing the limit,” says Urban Jürgensen out of an almost DNA-like inspirational thought that President & CEO, Søren Jenry Petersen. watches are round, the circles and ovals form a baThe Reference 5241, an automatic three-hand time- sic coherence and balance in the design to which piece with date and sweep seconds, is available with the details are anchored. This is why in the end the soft white, charcoal grey and urban blue dial col- One Collection seems to have such an innate balours. The Reference 5541 GMT, with two pushers for ance. Even though the design is completely different forward/backward correction of the central hour from all comparable products, it still is not stressed hand, unidirectional date change, sweep seconds or overly desperate to be different, even though you and a 24 hour subdial for home time, is available ex- will recognise the watch 10 metres away. And it is clusively in urban blue. still of pure Urban Jürgensen heritage.”
In the upcoming issue, we will explore in more details the technical aspects of this new line. Stay tuned!
The Reference 5541 GMT
The Reference 5241 in Soft White, Charcoal Grey and Urban Blue
A SWISS BRAND WITH A FAMILY SOUL FROM 1919 TO 2019 TITONI is one of the last remaining truly independent watch companies. It is run by Daniel Schluep, who represents the third generation of his family. The mission of the family firm, based in Grenchen in the heart of German-speaking Switzerland’s watchmaking region, has always been to offer durable, high-quality timepieces at an affordable price. Digging through the Europa Star archives, we found hundreds of pages that tell the story of the brand since its early days. Two particularly exciting discoveries were the celebration of the company’s 40th anniversary, in the pages of a 1959 issue, and references to its 50th anniversary ten years later (see below). For the first half of its history the brand was known by the name FELCO, the name under which it was originally founded, back in 1919, as well as FELCA, to which it was renamed shortly after. FELCA watches were sold all over the world, and in their day were among the most famous Swiss watches. In the 1950s a second brand, TITONI, was created, and became a hit in the complex Asian market. With the success of TITONI over the years, the independent family company decided to fully integrate FELCA into TITONI, and to devote all its dedication, watchmaking know-how and efforts to a single brand. As we see in a 1970 issue of Europa Star, the company claimed the three adjectives “Accurate”, “Dependable” and “Elegant” – three words that still apply today, 100 years after the company was founded!
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THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY LIMITED-EDITION WATCH To celebrate a century of existence, the independent family firm is launching a limited edition (199 pieces) of its famous Master Series chronometer-certified watch: the 83188 S-1919R. This timepiece has all the same great attributes of a regular Master Series, with the addition of a silver sunray-brushed dial with elements in a subtle rose gold tone, as well as a 100-year logo at 9 o’clock to remind the wearer of the brand’s long history and tradition. The back of the watch presents another special detail: a classic green rotor with the number of the limited series in elegant gold lettering. Green has always been TITONI’s company colour, and has been gracefully incorporated into the watch for this special occasion. This elegant timepiece perfectly reflects what TITONI continues to stand for, after 100 years of existence: long-lasting, high-quality classic watches with an understated elegance and a passion for the finest details.
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TAG HEUER AUTAVIA
THE LEGEND IS BACK TAG Heuer introduces a revamped version of the iconic Autavia. Inspired by its rich heritage and origins in the automobile and aircraft industries, this twenty-first-century model is ready for a life of adventure. From 1933 to 1957, the Autavia was a dashboard instrument used in racing cars and aircraft. The name itself comes from the combination of automobile and aviation. After production of the Autavia dashboard timer stopped, the name was still available. Then-CEO Jack Heuer decided to use it for the chronograph wristwatch the Swiss watchmaker launched in 1962 and produced until 1985. Since then, the Autavia had never returned as a collection. The original Autavia was known for making use of the latest technology, and the model introducing the rebirth of this model is no different. It houses the avant-garde watchmaker’s new Isograph carbon-composite hairspring, introduced earlier this year, for improved timekeeping performance. Powering the versatile Autavia 42 mm three-hand timepiece is the chronometer-certified Calibre 5. Having followed the brand since the 1920s, Europa Star has found in its archives several pages on the Autavia collection, including the example opposite. An on-board counter “Super-Autavia” featured in Europa Star in 1963.
The cockpit-inspired Autavia 42 mm three-hand model features SuperLuminova® details on its smoky-effect blue dial and is perfectly legible in any conditions. A date window is located at 6 o’clock on the dial. The blue ceramic bezel rotates bidirectionally, and the rounded stainless-steel case and bevelled lugs mimic those of the Autavia from the 1960s. The XL crown takes inspiration from TAG Heuer pilots’ watches and timers from 1933 to 1957.
KHAKI FIELD MURPH A DEFINING MOVIE MOMENT
HAMILTON AND HOLLYWOOD: A RETROSPECTIVE The Swiss made brand with an American spirit was founded in 1892 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Known for its innovative design, Hamilton has a strong foothold in Hollywood, with products appearing in more than 500 films. This is readily observed from the archives of Europa Star, which has followed the evolution of Hamilton for the last 90 years. Here are a few examples, from movies such as 1961’s “Blue Hawaii” starring Elvis Presley, to the classic 1968 “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Stanley Kubrick, which all featured Hamilton timepieces on the big screen. More recently, in 2014, the futuristic blockbuster Interstellar hit movie theatres, captivating audiences with its special effects, intriguing plot and the love story between a father and his daughter. The Khaki Field Murph timepiece is one of the main emotional links between the two main characters. It was clear that fans of the movie wanted an opportunity to own a piece of cinema history. Now that Hamilton is celebrating its cinema year, here comes the Khaki Field Murph!
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THE KHAKI FIELD MURPH With its 42 mm stainless steel case, black dial, beige Super-LumiNova® inlaid hands, H-10 automatic movement with 80-hour power reserve and black leather strap, the Khaki Field Murph is an exact reproduction of the movie watch. The only difference is one that is sure to appeal to fans of the movie. The word ‘Eureka’ is printed in lacquer in Morse code on the seconds hand. If you didn’t know it was there, you’d never see it: it is barely visible to the naked eye. For those in on the secret, it’s clear to see and will have special significance for Interstellar fans. In close collaboration with the film’s award-winning production designer, Nathan Crowley, the brand has also developed a special limited-edition box for the timepieces.
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MAURON MUSY ARMURE MU03
INSPIRED BY THE PAST, SHAPING THE FUTURE Robust, sporty and sleek, yet also refined, intriguing, sophisticated: the new ARMURE MU03 with manufacture movement is a world of its own. It is equipped with the nO-Ring® mechanical direct-seal gasket-free watertightness technology. Water-resistant to 300m, but also splash-proof and easy to handle under water, the new watch by Mauron Musy is an ideal partner for all settings, including the most hostile environments. Entirely clad in anti-allergenic titanium, immediately recognisable by its industrial design and brushed finishes, it goes equally well with adventurers’ gear or an evening outfit. This model houses an exclusive Manufacture movement, with a maintenance-free five-year guarantee. The Calibre MM01, which drives the hours, minutes, small seconds and date functions, is an in-house mechanical selfwinding movement with an optimal 55-hour power reserve, developed in collaboration with the Manufacture La Joux-Perret. It features a unique high-end decorative finish: for the first time at Mauron Musy, the bridges and oscillating weight have been hollowed out and microblasted in the centre and satin or sunburst-finished around the rim, in order to highlight the various inscriptions appearing in relief. The case also manufactured entirely in-house represents an authentic watch complication in its own right. Mauron Musy is the only watch brand in the world to have developed a mechanical gasket-free water-tightness system, the patented nO-Ring® technology. The result is a watch completely free of the costly maintenance associated with ageing polymers.
On the front, the in-house dial features a sandwich structure composed of two superimposed metal plates. The upper part has a finely microblasted surface finish with a curved snailed pattern in the centre and on the small seconds counter. The hour markers and cartouches on the lower dial are machined using the champlevé technique, highlighting the polished script appearing in relief.
THE RENAISSANCE OF THE CALYPSO 994 Europa Star Europe 2/1 991 Europa Star Europe 4/1
THE CALYPSO In 1990, Maurice Lacroix released an eye-catching timepiece, the Calypso. The Swiss brand has revived its iconic timepiece, first in 2016 with the Aikon in quartz, then in 2018 with the Aikon Automatic, a direct reinterpretation, adapted to contemporary codes. Europa Star found a treasure trove of data about the Calypso in its own archives. Part of the original success of the Calypso can be attributed to several key design elements. The sapphire crystal over the dial was flat, giving it a neat appearance. The bezel was adorned with six distinctive ‘arms’, the lugs featured an innovative design and the slender case bestowed a sense of lightness. Highly precise Swiss mechanical or quartz movements delivered both precision and convenience. The Calypso was produced from 1990 until 2003. The design proved an immediate success and led to annual sales in excess of 100,000 watches in its heyday. It was the bestselling model in the history of the brand and its retail partners. The Aikon is Maurice Lacroix’s new line, which takes its inspiration from the legendary Calypso. A lengthy design and development process was undertaken to ensure keeping the DNA of the Calypso while interpreting it to today’s taste in order to achieve a product with best quality to price ratio. Europa Star Europe 1/1993
THE AIKON AUTOMATIC
THE AIKON LADIES This timepiece (35mm) exudes feminity while offering the convenience of a quartz movement. The beauty of the stainless steel case is heightened with a choice among a variety of possible dials. Wearers can also choose from a luxurious stainless steel bracelet or high quality, calf-leather strap.
The Aikon Automatic 42mm builds on the Calypso’s reputation. The round case features a prominent bezel, incorporating six ‘arms’ which embrace its form, conveying an impression of strength and solidity, as well as a caring and loving embrace. The case in stainless steel successfully blends polished, brushed and sunbrushed surfaces. The dial features a Clous de Paris motif. The Aikon Automatic is water resistant to 200m and comes with a choice of a luxurious leather strap, featuring an integrated ‘M’ logo, or a stylish bracelet. The Aikon collection is constantly being enriched with new timepieces, including smaller dimensions (39 mm), chronographs, skeletonised timepieces and limited editions. A wide choice!
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SEA-TIMER BLACKMOTION NO SPORT, NO FUN
Whether on, in or by the water, the Sea-Timer BlackMotion is totally in its element. This robust sports watch is the ideal companion for anyone who loves to be outdoors. And it is made by a brand that celebrates 150 years of experience in producing reliable instruments. This new Mühle sports watch is an absolute must for anyone who is always on the move and simply cannot wait to try out exciting new sports activities. The black stainless steel case of the Sea-Timer BlackMotion is highly recognisable. It features not only a 2.5-millimetre-thick double antiglare sapphire crystal but also boasts a solid screw-in crown with extra side protection. A process known as PVD (physical vapour deposition) is used to coat the case of the watch in multiple layers of titanium carbide (TiC). It provides multiple benefits: a surface as black as night, extremely resistant layer thicknesses and increased hardness of the stainless steel case. The case also boasts a pressure resistance of up to 30 bar and is complemented by an equally dark textile strap, made of water-resistant fibres. The calibre of the watch is the reliable SW 200-1 Mühle version movement. It contains the company’s patented particularly shockproof woodpecker neck regulator and is set to ensure accuracy values of between 0 and a maximum of +8 seconds per day.
The combination of casual styling and top functionality is reflected in the face and hands of the the Sea-Timer BlackMotion. The outer area of the face, which is home to the watch’s fine minute graduation and high-contrast white hour indices, features a matt black design as an ideal solution for excellent readability. This is joined by blackened nickelplated hands, which stand out perfectly as they complete their 24-hour circuit training.
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THE WORLD’S MOST ACCURATE TIME-KEEPING The Japanese brand unveils three new Eco-Drive models that deliver the world’s most precise time-keeping accuracy: within ±1 second per year. Caliber 0100. The world’s most accurate light-powered watch. Accurate to within one second per year; it keeps telling the right time. It is impossible to make a watch accurate to within one second per year without insisting on extreme precision in all the components that go into that watch. Eco-Drive has been continuously improved for over 40 years. By combining multiple technologies developed over this time, CITIZEN has created Caliber 0100. It is an Eco-Drive watch that marks — and keeps marking — each pure, individual second, beautifully, confidently and proudly.
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ACCURACY BOUTIQUE EDITION SOLVING THE MAGNETISATION PROBLEM The Accuracy boutique edition by ONEOF® is the very first connected tool specifically designed for stores and capable of simultaneously measuring and demagnetising any mechanical watch. The magnetisation of a mechanical movement has become the most common problem for all watch manufactures. Strong magnetic fields emitted by commonly used items (smartphones, leather goods, children’s toys…) can drastically affect the precision of a watch, up to minutes per day. The Accuracy boutique edition released by ONEOF® is the first connected tool designed to solve the problem of magnetisation, directly in-store. Its user-friendliness is impressive: once the device is connected to the tablet, it takes less than two minutes to measure, demagnetise and check the watch with a single touch on the app. With its neat design and customisation possibilities, the Accuracy boutique edition definitely adds great value to the customer experience. ONEOF® was created by two engineers with considerable experience in the watch industry. They were deeply involved in the development of some of the most exotic movements at TAG Heuer during the Jean-Christophe Babin era. Their credentials include the co-invention of the MikroPendulum and Mikrogirder, awarded the Aiguille d’Or at the prestigious Geneva Grand Prix in 2012.
www.one-of.com | Baselworld Booth G07 - Hall 4.1
Accuracy boutique edition is the smartest tool ever designed for boutiques, bringing great benefits to the client experience. Already approved by more than 500 mono-brand boutiques, this Swiss made solution is on its way to ending the irritating problem of magnetisation.
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THE WORLD’S BRIGHTEST SELF-ILLUMINATING WATCH The T1000 is the world’s brightest watch with self-powered illumination. This concept watch was created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of mb-microtec, the parent company of traser. This radiant sensation, making its debut at Baselworld 2019, glows with an intensity of over 1000 microlumens and is fitted with no fewer than 318 trigalight pipes. The light output was measured and certified by the Federal Office of Metrology (METAS). The traser T1000 is the brighest self-illuminating watch in the world. A proprietary development, it shines 50 times more brightly than any conventional watch using H3 technology, which generates light in tiny glass tubes by combining zinc sulphide and tritium gas. The record-breaking watch is a special model that pays tribute to the 50th anniversary of mb-microtec. The Bern-based company is the inventor of the self-powered illumination technology trigalight, and a world market leader in processing glass capillary tubes. Traser’s parent company has been pioneering luminescence for 50 years and developed the world’s very first watch with self-powered illumination.
Some key features of the T1000; Luminous elements: 318 trigalight tubes on the dial. Light output: 1100 ± 110 μlm. Activity: 41.8 GBq. Concept watch, not for sale.
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ABSOLUTE. EVOLUTIONARY. DISTINCTIVE.
Casio is evolving its timepieces in all directions. The Japanese brand has developed various materials consistent with its concept of Absolute Toughness. Evolutionary technology has pursued reductions in thickness on a scale of 1/100mm for greater accuracy and attractiveness in design. Distinctive technique has applied traditional skills in original ways to achieve a new manifestation of Japanese beauty.
G-SHOCK GRAVITYMASTER GWR-B1000 THE EVOLUTION OF SHOCK-RESISTANT STRUCTURES HAS REACHED A NEW LEVEL. THE NEXT STAGE OF TOUGHNESS BASED ON CARBON MATERIALS. Casio has developed a carbon core guard structure, a new kind of shock-resistant structure. In addition, the pursuit of extreme toughness has led to the use of a carbon monocoque case, which unifies the case and case back for a further improved airtight construction. Through the use of highly functional materials, such as the carbon on the bezel and band and titanium for the push buttons and button pipes, the structure of the watch is made stronger, more lightweight, and rust-resistant. The GWR-B1000 is equipped with BluetoothÂŽ and a radiocontrolled timekeeping system to achieve the accuracy required for professional flight missions. Introducing the new GRAVITYMASTER, an unwavering challenge to our utmost limits. SPECIFICATIONS Shock-resistant. Rust-resistant. Triple G Resist. Radio-controlled (Multi Band 6). Smartphone link functions: automatic time adjustment, easy watch setting (world time for over 300 cities, home time/world time switching, alarm setting), flight log function, phone finder. Solar-powered. Auto Hand Home Position Correction. Hybrid Mount Construction. Smart Access. Dual Time. Stopwatch. Daily alarm. LED light (Super Illuminator). 20-bar water resistance.
OCEANUS OCW-S5000 INNOVATION: A THINNER CASE FOR A MORE SOPHISTICATED LOOK. ELEGANCE AND TECHNOLOGY. This innovative watch combines a unique blue colour with advanced titanium technology. The original, elegant style of OCEANUS is moving into a new era of innovation. An elegantly slim case just 9.4 mm thick is the result of one-sided mounting with high-density technology and a reduction in module components. Furthermore, the advanced time-correction system can acquire the correct time worldwide. The linked smartphone apps provide simple operation of various functions. The OCW-S5000 is the culmination of 15 years of OCEANUS evolution in pursuit of elegance and technology. SPECIFICATIONS Radio-controlled (Multi Band 6). Smartphone link functions: automatic time adjustment, easy watch setting (world time for over 300 cities, home time/ world time switching), phone finder. Solar-powered. Auto Hand Home Position Correction. Hybrid Mount Construction. Smart Access. Dual Dial World Time: two-city simultaneous time display. Stopwatch. 10-bar water resistance.
EDIFICE EQB-1000D SUPER SLIM HIGH SPEC CHRONOGRAPH WITH FLAT DESIGN CONCEPT Introducing a new model that features smartphone link-up and the thinnest profile in the series. With this model, the engineers have achieved a slim design of just 8.9 mm, despite the multiple chronograph hands and the inclusion of high-spec functionality such as BluetoothÂŽ and Tough Solar. The reduction in thickness has been accomplished by incorporating high-density, one-sided mounting technology and by further reducing the thickness of the module parts. SPECIFICATIONS Smartphone link functions: automatic time adjustment, easy watch setting (world time for over 300 cities, home time/world time switching, alarm setting), stopwatch data transfer, phone finder. Solar-powered. Dual Time. Stopwatch (1/1000-second display on smartphone, 200-lap memory, last lap indicator). Daily alarm. 10-bar water resistance.
G-SHOCK MRG-G2000GA IMPRESSIVE DIGNITY, STRENGTH, AND BEAUTY. DISTINGUISHED PRESENCE BORN OF FINE CRAFTSMANSHIP. The Japanese sword is an object that expresses the strength and beauty behind the craftsman’s skill. The centre links on the band are finished by the swordsmith Sadanobu Gassan. Furthermore, the watch has a COBARION® bezel in a motif that represents the beautiful shape of a sword point, a recrystallised titanium case that recreates the feel of a tempered blade, and deep-violet-AIP® processing reminiscent of hardened steel. In every way, the watch displays solid craftsmanship resulting from the fusion of Japan’s respected traditional skills and the latest Casio technologies. The ultimate G-SHOCK, combined with the qualities of a fine Japanese sword. This achievement comes in a shockresistant full-metal solar-powered G-SHOCK with Bluetooth®, GPS and radio-controlled timekeeping installed. SPECIFICATIONS Shock-resistant. GPS-controlled. Radio-controlled (Multi Band 6). Smartphone link functions: automatic time adjustment, easy watch setting (world time for over 300 cities, home time/world time switching, alarm setting). Solarpowered. Auto Hand. Home Position Correction. Hybrid Mount Construction. Smart Access. Dual Dial World Time: two-city simultaneous time display. Stopwatch. Daily alarm. LED light (Super Illuminator). Magnetic resistance (ISO 764 standard-compliant). 20-bar water resistance.
Swordsmith SADANOBU GASSAN Born in Nara Prefecture in 1979, a member of the famous Gassan family of swordsmiths, Sadanobu Gassan was exposed to the world of swordmaking from a young age. In 1998, he began training with his father, Sadatoshi Gassan. In 2006, he was recognised as a swordmaker by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs. Since that time, he has continued to challenge himself in new areas of craftsmanship that carry forth the traditions of the past, and has won numerous prizes and accolades in various competitions. As the sixth in the Gassan line from Osaka, he carries the burden of the next generation of Japanese swords. Sadanobu Gassan currently serves as a director for the All Japan Swordsmith Association.
H. MOSER & CIE SWISS ALP WATCH CONCEPT BLACK No more logo, no more indices, no more hands – just a 1-minute flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock. But for those who absolutely insist on knowing what time it is, this Swiss Alp Watch Concept Black offers a minute repeater with angled gongs – a rarity. And you set the time by ear, via the crown. A real conversation piece, in platinum. CHF 350,000 92
PIECES BY PIERRE MAILLARD
asterpieces destined ultimately for museums? Some, yes, perhaps. Or conversation pieces, worn with affected casualness and keen attention as to their effect? Whatever their true status, present and future, these timepieces – most of them costing a fortune – all affirm that watchmaking is very much alive; they represent a challenge, propose improvements and in some cases even pave the way to the future. By improving the function, ergonomics and ease of use of its most prestigious timepieces, haute horlogerie seems to be doing everything it can to bring them out of their twilit, strongbox existence into daily use. For example, Jaeger-LeCoultre has reduced its gyrotourbillon to wearable proportions, coupled it with a perpetual calendar which is adjustable in both directions, and is specifically enjoining future owners to wear it on an daily basis (a somewhat dangerous proposition, depending on where you go). Another example is Vacheron Constantin, which has come up with a brilliant innovation by presenting a perpetual calendar with two different regulators, one for when the watch is being worn and the other with a power reserve of up to two full months. That means you can leave your perpetual calendar in the drawer without worrying about it stopping and requiring a tedious readjustment. Even more fundamentally, there's also advanced research. Guy Sémon demonstrates as much once again, this time with a TAG Heuer
tourbillon, the balance spring of which is made of carbon nanotubes. It's sufficient to make LVMH virtually autonomous, industrially speaking, in the strategic domain of hairsprings, but also to write an important page in the grand book of scientific theory. Another example of research concerns the field of precision and reliability – witness F. P. Journe who, with his vertical tourbillon, offers the ideal – and self-evident, with the benefit of hindsight – solution for making the tourbillon genuinely operational in a wristwatch. Because, as everyone knows, it was invented for the pocket watch, which spent most of its time in a vertical position. On the aesthetics side, three-dimensionality is everywhere. It attains spectacular depth at Bovet 1822, for example, whose all-sapphire “writing slope” case provides a brilliant stage for the watch’s functions and indications; or, in a more understated and poetic register, at Hermès, which sets two moons against a cosmic background, their phases traced by two dials that hover above them. As for the artistic aspect, which is often overly conservative, the very clever Richard Mille has really upset the apple cart with his amazing technicolour Bonbons. And there are many more tasty treats to discover in our Gallery…
A TRULY PERPETUAL CALENDAR VACHERON CONSTANTIN TRADITIONNELLE TWIN BEAT PERPETUAL CALENDAR
perpetual calendar is meant to show at least the hours, minutes, date, month and leap years up to 2100, theoretically without human intervention. Except that if it reaches the end of its power reserve and stops, you have to launch into a tedious re-setting operation. It's a problem that Vacheron Constantin recently solved with a stroke of genius. The solution? The name says it all: Twin Beat. The inspiration for it came from the Japanese clocks of the Edo period (1603 - 1868) in which day and night were divided into six segments of differing durations, which varied with the seasons. These clocks were equipped with simple or double foliot balances that enabled their speed of operation to be modified. So how could this kind of functionality be translated into a wristwatch? 94
CLOSE-UP VIEW OF THE TWIN OSCILLATORS AT THE BACK OF THE WATCH Left, the Active-mode 5Hz oscillator; right, the Standby-mode oscillator. Recognisable by its large diameter and slow beat, its more delicate hairspring is four times smaller in cross-section. Note also that this same calibre has a new, instantaneous jumping mechanism for the date, month and leap year indications that reduces the effect of the jump on the amplitude of the oscillator.
Two distinct balance wheels The Traditionnelle Twin Beat perpetual calendar is equipped with a double barrel and two mainsprings that transmit their energy to two distinct gear trains powering two equally distinct regulating organs functioning at two distinct frequencies. There is the “Active” mode, with a high-frequency oscillator at 5Hz (36,000 vibrations/h), offering a power reserve of four days; and the “Standby” mode, with a low-frequency oscillator vibrating at 1.2Hz (8,640 vibrations/h), offering a power reserve of at least 65 days! With the aid of a simple push button at 8 o’clock, the user can switch from one mode to the other according to whether they are wearing it – at 5Hz the watch keeps perfect time regardless of any brusque movements by the wearer – or are leaving it rest in low-frequency mode. In that case, it only requires rewinding manually once every two months. Placed at the top of the dial, the power reserve is unique: depending on whether the chosen mode is Active or Standby, a single needle automatically displays 4 or 65 days.
The most pertinent of all perpetual calendars When you transition from one mode to another, there is no lag in the time display and calendar indications, thanks to an instantaneous switching system that stops one oscillator at the exact instant that the other starts, an operation that takes a fraction of a second. At the heart of this highly innovative system is a differential that allows the hands to draw variable information from two gear trains for one reading of the time, whatever the selected mode. A second differential, mounted on the barrel, applies a suitable amount of torque to the Standby balance, the very fine and ultrasensitive hairspring of which (its section much finer than that of a human hair) was specially designed for this very slow beat. Lastly, two supplementary differentials provide the information specific to the single hand that indicates one of the two power reserves. The 480 components of this calibre 3160 QP are contained in a space 6mm thick and 32mm in diameter. A real feat. CHF 210,000
THE VACHERON CONSTANTIN TRADITIONNELLE TWIN BEAT PERPETUAL CALENDAR has Geneva Hallmark certification and comes in a classic platinum case 42mm in diameter and 12.3mm thick, which contrasts with its highly contemporary-looking, dual-level skeleton dial decorated with a radial guilloché and sand-blasted finish.
HERMÈS ARCEAU L’HEURE DE LA LUNE
ith its Le temps suspendu watch in particular, which has become uniquely emblematic of a manner of playing poetically and philosophically with the very notion of time, Hermès has built up a horological territory of expression unlike any other. The new Arceau L’Heure De La Lune fully conforms to this whimsical trope which reinvents or reinterprets watch functions in a playful and dreamlike fashion. This moonphase, or double moonphase to be more accurate, in its own unique way revisits and transfigures one of the most explored indications in watchmaking. The new Arceau L’Heure De La Lune simultaneously displays the phases of the moon in the northern and southern hemispheres, playing havoc with our vision of things from the outset by placing South at the top and North at the bottom. And rather than being placed in an aperture, or even orbiting the Earth, the two moons stay put, and it is the two “Earths” – two mobile counters, one displaying the hour and minutes and the other the date on our home planet – that orbit, concealing or revealing the moon discs. All this while maintaining a horizontal reading position. The two counters are placed on a mobile chassis that literally hovers above the meteorite or aventurine dial in which the two mother-of-pearl moons are set as if in the cosmos, and completes one revolution every 59 days. This technical feat, brilliantly accomplished by Jean-François Mojon (Chronode) and powered by the Hermès in-house Calibre H1837 (produced in collaboration with Vaucher Manufacture, in which Hermès is a stakeholder) is enclosed in an exclusive mechanical module, it alone made up of 117 components. “The principal technical challenges lay in the wheel train transmission system and the planetary gears, and in finding suitable materials,” J.-F. Mojon explains.
THE ARCEAU L’HEURE DE LA LUNE WATCH is available in two series limited to 100 each. It is mounted on a matte graphite or abyss blue alligator strap with a white gold folding clasp. Automatic movement, sapphire crystal and caseback. 43mm white gold case.
The magic of dreams Quite beyond the technical feat of having two counters revolve over a period of 59 days while maintaining them in the same horizontal axis thanks to an invisible pivot system, and even though “it took three years of development to create this watch,” the beauty of this timepiece lies in the magic, the apparent simplicity and the dreams it evokes. The expression “space-time” was perhaps never as appropriate as here. The depth of the watch; the finely engraved moons – the northern moon with its realistic craters and the southern moon bearing a winged horse (what child has never looked for shapes in the moon’s surface?); the aventurine or meteorite background; the simplicity and elegance of the indications; the classy typography of the lacquered, floating dials; the limpid case of the Arceau with its symmetrical lugs – everything conspires to make this delicate and poetic watch a fascinating microcosm of space-time to wear on the wrist. CHF 26,000
“CANDY DOESN’T HAVE TO HAVE A POINT. THAT’S WHY IT’S CANDY.” From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a film by Tim Burton
RICHARD MILLE BONBON COLLECTION
hat a diabolically clever man, this Richard Mille. While for most watchmakers, the arts and crafts perpetuate a very outdated, eighteenth-century-style iconography made up of flowers, wild animals and bucolic landscapes, here he is, opening up a bright, pop-arty and psychedeliccoloured candy jar. Lollipops, marshmallows, cupcakes, liquorice, bilberries, lychees, cherries, kiwis, strawberries, lemons – before our very eyes an explosion of 60 dazzling colours across 10 different models: 4 Sweets and 6 Fruits. Take a basket and pick and mix. On condition, it must be pointed out, that you’re the kid of very rich parents. These little treats, 300 in all, weigh between CHF 106,000 and 157,000 each. Some have up to 16 sweets and fruits per dial. All in relief and of breathtaking micro-realism. Say what one will, Richard the Candy Man is way ahead of the rest of planet Horology. This said, he’s no stranger to colours, materials and textures. He has played with them in an extremely disciplined manner since his debut in 1999, from the outset combining visibly avant-garde mechanical architecture with research into materials. Hence the colours. And when Richard Mille does something, he does not do it by halves. Developing one single colour/texture/material – for example, imitating with precious exactitude the texture of a liquorice wheel – “takes us a year and demands an investment of over 100,000 francs” they tell us, with the utmost seriousness.
As if made to measure for twenty-first-century MarieAntoinettes (100% motorised in consequence), these contemporary fine-art candies make their co-exhibits, vaunting their butterflies from a bygone age, look positively antiquated. No doubt some shrewd opportunists will soon be jumping on this bandwagon, which is already “trending”. To prove the point: the Bonbons (of which there are 300 in all, remember) are already sold out. 99
“R&D IS ABOUT CREATING SUBSTANCE” GUY SÉMON SPEAKS ABOUT THE HIGHLY INNOVATIVE CARBON NANOTUBE HAIRSPRING OF THE TAG HEUER CARRERA CALIBRE HEUER 02T TOURBILLON NANOGRAPH
Since 1675, the year when Huygens invented the balance spring, nothing has changed. Except for the introduction of silicon. Ok, it’s antimagnetic, but the process is expensive and complicated – all that to make something that breaks. What’s more, LVMH does not have access to silicon, which was more reason to tackle the problem and give LVMH the capacity to produce its own hairsprings, independently. That’s where R&D comes in. It's a long story but I'll make it brief. Back then I was doing some research into flexible materials. I was visiting a laboratory in New Mexico. On Sundays I’d get bored, so I’d read scientific literature. And that was when I came across an article on carbon. I went to take a closer look, in Utah, and I realised you could make hairsprings with carbon.
So I hired a Mormon PhD student, Jason, who was doing theoretical work on carbon and had designed chemical reactors to produce graphite-and-diamond-based composites, two carbon atoms but organised differently. Graphene had already been discovered back in 1996, and with it you can produce nanotubes with interesting properties: no fatigue, no wear. But the laws of physics are different at the atomic scale and the macroscopic scale – the scale of a hairspring. They are not transposable. But with my teams I succeeded in developing a passage from the atomic to the macroscopic scale. It was a major theoretical advance, with major applications in physics and will soon be the subject of a publication. Basically, it’s like making a cake while building the oven and thinking up the recipe. You mathematically calculate the geometry of the hairspring you want according to the required specifications, frequency etc., and with the aid of a molecular crayon, you draw it with iron atoms on a silicon base – a wafer – covered with a layer of aluminium oxide (like the butter in a cake tin). You then bake it in a reactor (the oven that we designed), the enclosure of which is made of solid quartz and which works at 950°. Into it we pump two gases, a hydrogen vector and an ethylene precursor, which release the carbon molecules. These molecules come to rest on the iron atoms and create a catalytic reaction, forming carbon tubes, like a field of wheat. These nanotubes are empty, made up of empty mesh, their interiors are empty, the whole thing is 95% emptiness. Between these different carbon nanotubes that have sprung up following the hairspring shape we drew, we infuse carbon atoms that act like molecular glue. The end result is a modulus of elasticity, which is nondeforming and springs back to its original position – the essential characteristic of a hairspring – without fatigue or creep. The hairspring is very lightweight, which reduces the effect of shocks. It can withstand up
to 5,000g/1m fall. It is anti-magnetic, and with its anodised aluminium balance, perfectly thermo-compensated. Setting the watch is done in the traditional way with an inertia block and a standard index – which is not possible with silicon. This carbon nanotube hairspring is extremely flat, which facilitates assembly, and 100% are chronometers. With our two machines, we’ve already attained a capacity of 120,000 items a year, but we’re planning to increase this. For its release, we chose to implement it in a tourbillon watch, a 4Hz movement, but with this extremely innovative process we can easily produce hairsprings for any frequency. So it’s no marketing ploy, it’s science with substance and it offers LVMH the chance of becoming completely autonomous, and innovative, where hairsprings are concerned.”
CARRERA HEUER 02T TOURBILLON NANOGRAPH TAG Heuer Calibre Heuer 02T tourbillon manufacture movement with new in-house hairspring made of carbon composite, diameter 31mm, 33 jewels, balance oscillating at a frequency of 28,000 vibrations per hour (4Hz), 65-hour power reserve. Chronometer certified automatic tourbillon chronograph: hour and minute counters; tourbillon, hour, minute and seconds. 45mm case and lugs in black PVD titanium, carbon bezel with tachymeter scale, sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides, water-resistant to 100 metres (10 bar). Black open-worked dial with hexagon pattern, black flange with 60 seconds scale, black-gold plated chronograph minute and hour counters and tourbillon frame, rhodium-plated indexes and hands filled with SuperLuminova®, hexagon pattern. Price: CHF 24,900. Special packaging with integrated watch winder.
RÉCITAL 26 BRAINSTORM® CHAPTER ONE Dimier “writing desk” case, 48mm x15.50mm, in sapphire with titanium lugs and caseback. Full grain alligator strap with 18K white gold pin buckle. Water resistance 30m. Hours, minutes, seconds on tourbillon, big date, power reserve indicator, hemispherical moon phase indicator. Guarantee 5 years. Three patents: spherical winding system, tri-dimensional toothing with multiple gearing. Double-face flying tourbillon.
THE “WRITING SLOPE” CASE IN ALL TRANSPARENCY
BOVET 1822 RÉCITAL 26 BRAINSTORM® CHAPTER ONE
atches are designed to write the time before our very eyes. So why not base its shape on a writing slope? Starting from this simple idea, Bovet 1822 developed its famous case in the shape of a sloped writing desk, which offers an inclined area making it easy to read and capable of enclosing three-dimensional components. Consequently, the manufacture (a well-deserved designation, since Bovet 1822 manufactures virtually all its parts in-house, including the hairspring) has been able to produce numerous variations on the display theme, with rollers, domes, discs and three-dimensional hands. In this sense, the “writing slope” case creates a stage for the movement and its indications. This characteristic is used to particular advantage in the new Récital 26 Brainstorm® Chapter One, with its all-transparent, sapphire, inclined case – a bold and complex technical feat given the asymmetric profile of the middle, which forms a single element with the crystal. The only exception is the back, which consists of a grade-5 titanium bezel that holds a sapphire crystal and four grade-5 titanium horns. The movement is fixed directly to the back, and not to the middle. This makes the timepiece perfectly transparent, the better to display the three-dimensional spectacle of the movement and indications. The movement is regulated by a double-face flying tourbillon with a variable inertia balance that draws its energy from a single barrel which provides a power reserve of 10 days. Manual rewinding is made easier by a differential winding system that halves the number of turns of the crown required.
Above the tourbillon, under the highest section of the tilted case, the hours and minutes are displayed offcentre, with a particularly high hand-fitting. Above this suspended dial is a moon phase in the shape of an engraved dome, into which are set two circular aventurine glass plates (the moon of the northern and southern hemispheres). Above these are two circular apertures that indicate the moon’s phases. Placed at 4 o’clock, the power reserve indicator is a crescentshaped gauge, while at 8 o’clock a large date appears in a circular aperture, the mechanism of which is visible. Let the show commence. In all transparency. CHF 295,000 103
“CREATED FOR EVERYDAY ENJOYMENT” JAEGER-LECOULTRE MASTER GRANDE TRADITION GYROTOURBILLON WESTMINSTER PERPÉTUEL
aeger-LeCoultre gets straight to the point: “We have created a truly wearable Gyrotourbillon, bringing high complication out of the watch safe and onto the wrist for everyday enjoyment.” That said, before wearing it on your wrist and venturing out into the dangerous urban jungle, you will have had to open your safe and withdraw 800,000 francs. And hire a bodyguard. But the watch itself, strong on aesthetics yet relatively discreet, is truly amazing. We have been familiar with the highly sculptural and kinetic multi-axis Gyrotourbillon since 2004, but here it is again with much-reduced dimensions to allow it to cohabit with a Westminster carillon minute repeater and a perpetual calendar. All of this fits into what is indeed a perfectly wearable case, 43mm in diameter and 14.8mm high. Not overtly hubristic, it sums up in a nutshell a long series of improvements over the years aimed at chronometric precision, sound quality and gong volume, and at simplifying the use of a perpetual calendar. Its chronometric precision is backed up by a constantforce mechanism. The remontoir d’égalité, which is pe-
riodically re-armed by the barrel mainspring, acts as an energy regulator. By regulating the minute wheel, it creates a more precise jumping minute hand that eliminates any possibility of a cadence error. The euphony of the four famous notes of the Westminster chime is achieved through a combination of several other advances: there are no delays in the hour, quarter and minute strikes; the square cross-section gongs welded directly to the crystal, which acts as a sound board, provide an exemplary sound. The trebuchet hammers, an exclusivity already seen in previous watches, deliver precise, clean strikes. The perpetual calendar, which displays the date by means of a central hand with a red pointer and the day, month and year (in whole figures) in apertures, can be set both forwards and backwards – a detail which may appear insignificant but which is complex to build and above all, highly appreciable if the watch, which has a power reserve of 50 hours, has stopped because it hasn’t been rewound. So to prevent any unwelcome surprises, it’s better to wear it.
MASTER GRANDE TRADITION GYROTOURBILLON WESTMINSTER PERPÉTUEL White gold case 43mm x 14.08mm. Calibre 184 – manual. Water resistance: 3 bar. Hour/Minute, jumping date, two-way perpetual calendar (day/date/month/year), Gyrotourbillon, minute repeater with Westminster chime. Power reserve: 50 h. Dial: blue guilloché enamel or silver grained. Caseback: open. Limited to 18 pieces. 105
VERTICALITY & CHRONOMETRY
F.P. JOURNE TOURBILLON SOUVERAIN VERTICAL
t first glance, you might think that this tourbillon, fixed vertically in a “light shaft” pierced through the dial, is a simple choice of aesthetics, as we have seen in many recent tourbillons. But you would be doing an injustice to François-Paul Journe, who would never be satisfied with making solely aesthetic improvements of no technical significance. As it is, the reasoning behind this watch is crystal clear and offers genuine progress in matters of chronometry. It is a well-known fact that the tourbillon was designed by Abraham-Louis Breguet to compensate for the effects of gravity by continually changing positions. It is a device specifically designed for pocket watches which, as their name indicates, spend most of their time in a vertical position, slipped into the watch pocket of their owner’s waistcoat, and raised and consulted vertically. Consequently, the tourbillon inherently serves little purpose in a wristwatch, which naturally changes position when worn. But placed flat during the night – or for days on end – the horizontal tourbillon of a wristwatch will vary in amplitude. So, as François-Paul Journe explains, “I have designed this vertical tourbillon to keep it constant. Whether the watch is worn or placed flat in the case of a pin buckle, or on its side in the case of a folding clasp, the tourbillon always remains vertical and consequently maintains the same amplitude.” Which is in itself a guarantee of better chronometry and “corrects the defect” of a tourbillon mounted on a strap. Designed for the 20th anniversary of his first Tourbillon Souverain, this Tourbillon Souverain Vertical rotates in 30 seconds instead of the customary minute, offering a
30 SECOND VERTICAL TOURBILLON WITH CONSTANT FORCE AND DEAD SECOND Hours and minutes at 3 o’clock, small second at 6 o’clock, power reserve at 12 o’clock, vertical tourbillon at 9 o’clock. Power reserve 80 hours ± 2h. Manual winding calibre 1519 / 29 turns of crown. Platinum PT 950 or 18K 6N gold case 42 mm by 13.60 mm. Movement in 18K rose 4N gold with hour dial in enamel on white gold. High-quality finish: guilloché Clous de Paris on bridges, circular Côtes de Genève on base plate, screw heads polished and bevelled.
quite fascinating spectacle which is reflected in the polished mirror sides of the light shaft in which it hangs. The watch is equipped with a remontoir d'égalité that supplies a constant force to the balance, ensuring that its amplitude does not vary. But here, the spring of the constant-force device is re-armed every second to drive a deadbeat seconds device that jumps precisely every second, with no danger of inaccuracy, which Journe calls a “natural deadbeat second”. Beauty and efficiency come together in this vertical tourbillon, the first of its kind. It was just asking to be invented. And made. This has now been done, brilliantly. CHF 248,000 107
“TIME RESPECTS WHAT YOU TAKE TIME TO MAKE” Auguste Rodin
CHOPARD L.U.C FLYING T TWIN
arl-Friederich Scheufele is a man of determination and takes all the time necessary to achieve his objective. This much is evident from the gradual evolution of L.U.C, his collection of haute horlogerie watches, and his vines – wine being his second great passion. The L.U.C manufacture, which presented its first in-house movement in 1996, is now almost completely vertically integrated. From the development of the movement to the finished product design, gold smelting, case stamping and machining, calibre components, traditional hand-crafted finishes, surface treatments, polishing, assembly, adjustments and quality controls, Chopard masters the full range of watchmaking operations internally and applies them to each and every L.U.C watch. Moreover, since July 2018, the company has used Fairmined 100% ethical gold for the production of all its watches and jewellery. It's rather like his vineyard at Monestier LaTour in south-western France, which K.-F. Scheufele has patiently converted to biodynamic farming, and which you could also now describe as wholly vertically integrated. Because biodynamic farming means producing, drying and storing an impressive list of plants to serve as “homeopathic” treatments for the vines, which are now totally chemical-free out of respect for biodiversity. It’s another way, as in watchmaking, of perpetuating ancestral know-how.
The very recent and highly elegant L.U.C Flying T Twin flying tourbillon is a fine example of the same exacting standard. Its ultra-thin, chic, 40mm round case, just 7.2mm thick, encloses the new Calibre 96.24-L equipped with a flying tourbillon, driven by two superimposed barrels (the Twin architecture patented by Chopard), wound by a 22-carat gold micro-rotor and offering an excellent power reserve of 65 hours. “To preserve the purity of the design and leave ample space for the tourbillon,” K.-F. Scheufele explains, “this chronometer-certified movement has no date but features a rare stop-seconds device that allows for perfectly accurate time-setting.” Placed at 6 o’clock, the flying tourbillon looks as light as air, the large-diameter aperture in which it is suspended creating transparency and depth. It moves two rose gold hands, which pass over a finely designed, solid gold dial with a ruthenium finish showing a handguilloché honeycomb motif reminiscent of the hive that was the first logo used by Louis-Ulysse Chopard. This central medallion is encircled by a snailed chapter ring and a railroad minutes track. A small white triangular hand affixed to the flying tourbillon carriage serves as a small-seconds hand. This COSC-certified watch also bears the Geneva Seal, the hallmark of excellent craftsmanship. 50 pieces. CHF 152,000
FOR THE DELIGHT OF THE EYES
MB&F + L’EPEE 1839 MEDUSA Its dome and glass tentacles – blue, green or pink, 50 pieces per colour – are hand-blown in Murano. It can be hung from the ceiling or placed on a desk, but whichever way you choose, it looks superb. This fascinating Medusa is not only an astonishing object: it also houses a movement made up of two rotating rings, one for the hours and the other for the minutes. These are driven by a mechanical movement beating at 2.5Hz, constructed along a vertical axis “mimicking the 110
radial symmetry of a jellyfish’s neural column” and placed just below the time indication. In the darkness, the Medusa glows with a light that evokes images of the sea bottom. This bewitching mechanical glass creature is the result of collaboration between the designer Fabrice Gonet, MB&F and L’Epée 1839. This is the tenth collaboration between MB&F and the Swiss clockmaker who, together, have totally renewed the genre. CHF 25,500
CHANEL BOY·FRIEND TWEED ART What is more different than tweed and enamel? One consists of supple, warm, coarsely woven wool, the other of hard and fragile metal plates painted layer by layer and baked in the oven. They are worlds apart, but if anyone is capable of reconciling them, it is Chanel. The texture and colours of tweed were the inspiration for a beautifully delicate, abstract painting in cloisonné grand feu enamel. It is framed by beige 18-carat gold and mounted on a satin strap. Perfection. Large model (37 x 28.6 x 7.75 mm) Limited edition of 20 pieces. Manual-winding mechanical movement. Waterproof down to 30 metres. Price not communicated.
DE BETHUNE DB28GS GRAND BLEU Denis Flageollet is one of the most consistent watchmakers in the haute horlogerie world. His utterly contemporary style, albeit informed by classical culture, is unique, and every single one of his timepieces deserves attention. This is certainly the case of the DB28GS, the brand’s first 100% sports watch. Driven by a new, manual-winding calibre, having a power reserve of 5 days (the company’s 27th in-house calibre), anti-magnetic, thermo-compensated and with high-quality regulating organs, this diving watch will descend to 100m and is equipped with a triple pare-chute shock absorption system. Its innovative features include a rotating bezel that turns the crystal to calculate dive time, and the interior lights up thanks to a fully mechanical feature – on request, a miniature dynamo lights a blueish-white LED. CHF 85,000
GERALD GENTA 50TH ANNIVERSARY ARENA BI-RETRO BY BULGARI To mark the 50th anniversary of the brand created by the most famous watch designer of the mechanical renaissance, all kinds of initiatives are springing up. The Association Gérald Genta has just been created by his widow, Evelyne Genta, and Bulgari is honouring the designer with the re-release of an Arena Bi-Retro bearing just the Gérald Genta logo – something we haven’t seen in a long time. An opportune reminder which has the merit of putting the spotlight back on a retrograde regulator of rare simplicity. In-house mechanical movement, self-winding (bi-directional). Bi-retro BVL 300 calibre, jumping hours, retrograde minutes (210°), retrograde date (180°). 41mm platinum case, blue lacquered dial, blue alligator strap, white gold folding buckle. CHF 55,000 111
GRAND SEIKO URUSHI With its amber-coloured (or black, once mixed with iron) dial in Urushi lacquer sourced from trees near the Shizukuishi Watch Centre, where some of Seiko’s most advanced watchmakers work, its case polished using a new technique of the traditional Zaratsu method, which accentuates the beauty of its curved surfaces, and its sapphire glass, also curved, the Grand Seiko Urushi reaffirms the deeply Japanese identity of an otherwise global watchmaker. The new automatic calibre 9S63 that drives it, with a delicate small-seconds dial at 9 o’clock and power reserve (72 hours) at 3 o’clock, is accurate to +5 or -3 seconds a day. Three limited editions (rose gold (150), yellow gold (150) and stainless steel (1,500)), sell at between $7,400 and $29,000.
FABERGÉ VISIONNAIRE DTZ GALLIVANTER Visionnaire by Fabergé, a much-talked-about watch that won a GPHG award in 2016, comes dressed in new finery. With its yellow gold case and faceted blue dial, it has a slightly vintage feel. The second time zone at the centre is perfectly legible thanks to a magnifying glass which lends depth as well as immediate, intuitive readability. Definitely the most intelligent and aesthetically pleasing of all dual time zone watches. Guaranteed 10 years! CHF 29,500
JEAN MARCEL TANTUM With a very low total height of 11 mm, the Tantum chronographs are among the flattest automatic chronographs in the world. That’s no coincidence: the mechanical heart of each watch is the recently redesigned Swiss Made calibre JM A10 based on an ETA 2894-2, which is currently the world’s flattest automatic chronograph movement with a large rotor. A ring-shaped opening with a mostly unobstructed view of the date disc is eye-catching and striking. The date window is positioned between 4 and 5 o’clock. The positioning of the totalisers is reminiscent of the “classic” Swiss tricompax arrangement: the small second is located next to the 3 o’clock index and the stop minute next to the 9 o’clock position. Steel case, two colour limited editions (100), deep midnight blue and slate grey. €2,395 112
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TRILOBE LES MATINAUX INAUGURAL SERIES “Ride your luck, seize your joy and confront your risk. To witness you will see them converted.” René Char, Les Matinaux. It is rare for a watchmaker to quote a poet as demanding as René Char to “sum up the spirit in which Gautier Massoneau created Trilobe”. Seeing this watch is certain to convert you to this way of reading the time, which is innovative, elegant and, in its own way, classic, as is its geometry and trefoil motif. The movement was designed by the acclaimed Swiss masterwatchmaker Jean-François Mojon. This inaugural series consists of 100 numbered pieces – and the venture “is only just beginning”. 41.5mm steel case. 2892 self-winding movement with an additional module. Introductory price: €7320 incl. tax.
LOUIS VUITTON TAMBOUR SPIN TIME AIR The hour is displayed by twelve rotating cubes. Each time the hour changes, two cubes revolve instantaneously to hide the hour that has passed and to reveal the new. This concept, developed in 2009, is given a gossamer-light and bejewelled makeover thanks to a new automatic calibre placed in a “container” suspended at the centre of the watch. Seven models in white gold, 42.5mm in diameter, set with diamonds or coloured stones, lacquered or satin-brushed. Original and fun. Price not communicated.
MUSE WATCH Never before has time been displayed like this: by the intermediary of finely worked geometrical compositions in perpetual motion (broken down into hours, minutes and seconds), the motifs of which are inspired by fractals. The creators of this new brand are two experienced watch engineers based in the canton of Vaud, whose aim is to “offer genuine living art”. Featuring automatic ETA 2276 “collector” movements, which were produced from 1969 to 1989, dials in natural stone and titanium cases (37mm or 44mm), they sell at prices ranging from CHF2,690 to CHF 2,990. 114
BIVER BREAKS WITH THE PAST,
BREAKTHROUGHS TO THE FUTURE A GIANT OF THE INDUSTRY SEEN THROUGH THE EUROPA STAR ARCHIVES INTERVIEW BY PIERRE AND SERGE MAILLARD
As everybody knows, Jean-Claude Biver has stepped down from day-to-day operational responsibilities, but remains – for the moment – nonexecutive president of the watch divisions of LVMH and the three brands Zenith, Hublot and TAG Heuer. An ideal opportunity for Europa Star – which has just digitised its archives from 1960 to the present – to have a long meeting with him to talk about his career and the successive transformations undergone by the Swiss watchmaking industry. Europa Star: In 1975, after completing an Economics degree at the University of Lausanne and having settled in the countryside, in the Joux Valley, you joined Audemars Piguet and were appointed sales manager for the European countries, mainly Germany. The watch manufacturer had just released the Royal Oak and some strategic decisions had to be taken that will have a decisive impact on the brand’s future orientation… Jean-Claude Biver: Georges Golay, the charismatic boss of Audemars Piguet back then, had the courage to launch the Royal Oak designed by the brilliant Gérald Genta. One day, he summoned us. He was worried: this first steel watch, which was totally innovative back then
– you could even see the screws on the bezel – had been rejected by most of the markets, except Italy. And on the other hand, he’d noted that Patek Philippe was buying back its old timepieces. What were we to do? The young generation, of which I was a part, wanted to invest to conquer the future, not bolster up the past. Mr Golay replied: “Ok, but be careful, the Royal Oak must not cannibalise the collection!” We thought that would never happen; at that time sales stood at around a hundred items. But Mr Golay had sensed the risk and today it has to be admitted that in launching its Code 11.59 Audemars Piguet is trying to get out of a situation he anticipated a few decades ago. That said, the incredible good fortune of the Royal Oak perfectly demonstrates that the greatest watchmaking successes are achieved by immediately recognisable watches. It’s the end customer who feels the need to have their watch recognised by society. That’s a lesson you should never forget.
In 1979, right in the middle of the quartz revolution, you left Audemars Piguet for Omega… J-Cl. B.: Omega put me in charge of developing sales of gold watches. At that time, Omega was selling lots of gold-plated products and the danger was that they risked killing off the actual gold products. Gold watches target another type of customer, so they had to be different, truly distinct. So I created a specific department to develop a gold collection. But from 1980 on, the production portfolio was made up basically of quartz watches. At that time, the prestige, the supreme value, was in precision. That was avantgarde! To visually suggest that the precision of quartz was indeed present and no adjustment was needed, we launched a De Ville collection without a crown, a very special watch. That brief period with Omega lasted until 1981, when the “Hayek plan” to restructure the watchmaking industry began. Fritz Ammann, the boss of Omega, resigned and I didn’t get on with the new boss, Peter Gross, who came from the bank UBS. So, I resigned along with the “Ammann bunch” and left without a new job to go to.
And shortly after that the venture with Blancpain begins… J-Cl. B.: I was frustrated with my time at Omega and quartz watches had little appeal for me, but I was impressed by Lemania, which made the mechanical chronograph Calibre 321, for example – which Omega has just re-launched, incidentally! I also knew that the SSIH had in its portfolio several brands it wanted to get rid of, including Blancpain, which it had bought from Villeret in 1963. I was friendly with Jacques Piguet, who worked in the mechanical movement workshop belonging to his father, Frédéric Piguet. I phoned him and talked about Blancpain, founded in 1735, which had tiny movements. Why not purchase the brand? We decided to give it a try, against all current trends. SSIH sold it to us for CHF 21,500. But it came with nothing, all An Omega DeVille the archives had been destroyed. quartz gold watch, We set up business in the Joux Valley, without a crown on the historic farm of Louis-Elisée Piguet adjacent to the Frédéric Piguet workshop. At that time, they supplied the ultra-thin Calibre 21 to Patek Philippe, to Corum for its Dollar watches, and to Vacheron Constantin; to Audemars Piguet they supplied mainly the ultra-thin Calibre 71P with a decentralised rotor. At the same time, Frédéric Piguet had
signed a contract with Ebel. Pierre-Alain Blum wanted a special quartz movement for Cartier, a better-finished quartz, dressier than current trends. By accepting that contract, Frédéric Piguet had to lay off watchmakers, but he knew very well that for him, the future did not lie in quartz and that it was impossible for him to compete over any distance with the industrial watchmakers. With the creation of Blancpain, new synergies were able to emerge between Frédéric Piguet and ourselves. Blancpain had to be successful.
And in the context of the times, nothing was less sure… J-Cl. B.: Indeed, but in 1982 the post-1968 generation was coming into economic power, 30-35-year-olds who’d been influenced by the hippie generation, with strong intellectual propensities, an awareness of values, of the fact that the future is built on and with tradition… We transformed the discourse of the time, turning communications upside down by talking about “miracle hands”, suggesting that ultimately, quartz had neither a soul nor a future because unlike mechanical watches, it was doomed to obsolescence. With our slogan “Since 1735 there has never been a quartz Blancpain. And there never will be,” we were talking about credibility, patriarchal wisdom. Philippe Stern wrote, to congratulate us. That famous quartz precision became of secondary importance. Who cares about ultra-precision to a quarter of a second in everyday life? As a famous Italian retailer explained to his customers: you’re a lord, and a lord doesn’t need the exact time! But it wasn’t easy. One day, I received a letter from the Fédération Horlogère reproaching me for having said
at a Credit Suisse meeting that quartz was carcinogenic, dangerous because of its batteries – it’s true that I’d invented the story of a Zurich doctor who forbade his patients to keep their quartz watch on their wrist and offered them a mechanical watch in exchange (laughs).
And beyond the communications, what was your idea for Blancpain itself, as a product? J-Cl. B.: I didn’t want to relaunch Blancpain solely with hours and minutes watches. They had to have the traditional sobriety, beautiful finishes, but also additional features. A moon phase was an ideal indicator to our minds, infused with nostalgia and poetry. In the attic at Frédéric Piguet, we found all the tools we needed, unused since the 1940s, to make a day, month, date and moon phase movement. We got to work right away and modified it so that the month changed automatically every 31.
Browsing through our own archives, which we’ve just digitised, we’ve realised that the renaissance of the mechanical watch actually happened very fast. Quartz did plenty of damage, profoundly transforming the structure of Swiss watchmaking, but it didn't reign supreme for long. J-Cl. B.: The new rise of mechanical watches happened in just a couple of years. Judging by the growing success of Blancpain, mechanical watches came back in force from as early in 1982. Franck Muller was one of the first. Günter Blümlein, who headed up IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre at the time, played a major role, along with others… But it should be pointed out that during this whole time, apart from the Oysterquartz – highly sought-after today, by the way – Rolex, unlike others, never stopped producing mechanical watches.
Europa Star 2/
Watch cases, bracelets and buckles for Haute Horlogerie.
Sale of Blancpain to the SMH Group Europa Star 4/1992
Yet in 1992 you sold Blancpain to Nicolas Hayek… J-Cl. B.: Yes, I sold Blancpain to Nicolas Hayek at a difficult time for me, a divorce that I was having a tough time going through. The sale took place on 7 July 1992 for 60 million Swiss francs, while Blancpain was making profits of 12 million. A glass of port and the deed was done. The next day, 8 July, I got the whole staff together and announced it. But three weeks later I was already phoning Hayek. I was depressed, I’d lost my love, I’d lost my passion. I asked him to hire me again. Which he did, but he warned me: “You’re going to be frustrated: I’m giving you a challenge, to get Omega back on its feet again.” 120
At the time, Omega was a destructured brand moving in all directions at once, with obsolete marketing. People’s tongues wagged, they said he’d bought me. But Hayek jumped at the opportunity, because he wanted to hire an entrepreneur. From 1992 to 2001, we had an outstanding relationship, strong and direct. I’d say to him “Let’s take Cindy Crawford” and he’d say “ok” right away. Today, lots of brands are led by technocrats who talk about emotion, but know nothing about the real trade.
Nicolas Hayek Sr. on Jean-Claude Biver… (excerpt from Europa Star 4/1993)
During those years, Omega seemed to grow spectacularly. J-Cl. B.: At Omega, I was in charge of marketing and products. But otherwise I was still CEO of Blancpain and in charge of SMH (not yet called the Swatch Group) for Japan, South Korea and Singapore. Between 1972 and 2001 Omega increased its turnover from CHF 370 million to 1 billion. One of the key reasons for this success was the openingup of China from 1993, to which we gave proper status. Until then, all the watchmakers had regarded China as a dumping-ground, but I introduced quite a different policy: in China we delivered the same products as in Europe and the United States. We not only took Cindy Crawford, but James Bond, NASA and Michael Schumacher as well. At the same time as to all the other markets.
But why and how did this extraordinary venture end? J-Cl. B.: In 1999 I caught Legionnaire’s disease which floored me and in 2001, worn out, I quit my responsibilities at Omega, keeping the others. I became a free agent. But I was no longer a money-spinner; people more or less forgot about me. So two years later, at the end of 2003, I left the Swatch Group completely. But my passion for entrepreneurship was undiminished, and in 2004 I approached Hublot and its boss and owner, Carlo Crocco. I knew him because he was the distributor of Blancpain in Italy. He was intending to step down from the operational side of the business a little and devote himself to his major philanthropic projects, especially in India.
During our interview I asked him: “What is your message with your brand?” Carlo Crocco replied: “We’ve made a gold watch and for the first time we’ve mounted it on a rubber strap. Its design, that resembles a porthole, is reminiscent of the yachting world, the sea….” I said to him: “But what you’re telling me there is the product description, that’s not a message!” And I made a drawing for him that any child could understand. I explained to him that the most important thing was the concept. I drew the sky, and there’s the Earth. On this Earth there are trees, underground there are treasures, oil, uranium, gold. But gold and rubber have never been associated, because gold is underground and rubber in the trees. But they were together once upon a time, before the Big Bang, and when the Big Bang happened, the gold said “I’m going underground” and the rubber said “I’m off to the trees”. And since the Big Bang they’ve never been together, but you, Mr Crocco, you have brought the gold back from underground, and you’ve brought the rubber down from the tree and you’ve fused them together. And you’ve created the first fusion in the art of watchmaking. And so I’m going to call the brand’s message the “Art of Fusion” and I’m going to call the watch Big Bang.
Drawing by Jean-Claude Biver, 16.1.2019 121
A child of five can understand it, repeat it, and make the same drawing. That’s the strength of the message, the simplicity of the concept.
And this simple concept of fusion applies to the product, but to more than that… J-Cl. B.: It applies to everything. You find this duality everywhere: hot/cold; day/night; yin/yang. Always contrasts: Hublot is always about contrasts. Moreover it applies even to life itself: only living things can connect yesterday and tomorrow. Dead things can only connect yesterday and now. So this concept of fusion is the concept of life. When you have a concept which is that of life and what’s more you can draw it for kids, how can you lose! Even footballers can understand it (laughs). Few brands have such a clear concept and that explains the success of Hublot, which is probably the brand with the strongest growth over the past 15 years.
But like with Blancpain before and more recently Hublot, you act by breaking with the past. Yet today, one gets the impression that the watchmaking industry is looking to its past rather than to its future. J-Cl. B.: That’s because of the millennials. Those who haven’t known the past want to rediscover it. They drive their parents’ 1950s Vespas, they search for photos of Brigitte Bardot…
But today, what might a break with the past look like? You introduced smartwatches to TAG Heuer, the revolutionary oscillator of the Defy at Zenith… J-Cl. B.: The oscillator dreamed up by Guy Sémon and his research teams was a real thunderbolt, a whole new direction. For the first time we bypassed Huygens; watchmaking walked straight into the future while remaining in the mechanical sphere. Because the property peculiar to mechanical watches, unlike all the other products, is that its technology may be obsolete, but the product itself is not affected by obsolescence. Mechanical watches are the only objects that come from the past but connect you with the future, with eternity. That said, given smartwatches, there’s no longer any reason to buy a mechanical watch costing CHF 500 that only shows you the hours and the minutes. But 122
for CHF 50, there is. Or for several thousand francs. It’s the whole middle range that’s in danger.
With Hublot, TAG Heuer, Zenith, you invested heavily in research and materials, but also in features. I’m thinking in particular of the 1/100th then 1/1,000th of a second … J-Cl. B.: I’ve always invested huge amounts in R&D. I’ve always believed in R&D and I’ve always said: if you do lots of marketing, you have to always bear in mind that marketing is air, it has no substance. Sooner or later, a ball pumped full of air will deflate and fall. So let’s build substance and credibility with R&D, that way the ball will be bolstered up, it won’t fall. As an entrepreneur I think I’m one of the only people who have always thought and said that investment in R&D has to be proportional not to turnover, but to the investment in marketing. But R&D demands patience. There’s always waste in basic research, you’re never sure of succeeding and quite often, when you’re looking for this you find that. You shouldn’t look solely at the figures. You have to move forwards, sometimes in the dark. And financiers don’t understand that very well, they get impatient, they want immediate results. Without Guy Sémon, a physicist, mathematician and researcher, I would never have succeeded in doing what we did at TAG Heuer, whether the smartwatch or any of the mechanical innovations. He advised me, guided me, right from the first day we met.
Now you’ve arrived at the end of a cycle. Are you ready to embark on new adventures. J-Cl. B.: Quite honestly, I don’t know what to do with myself (laughs). It’s possible that one day, I’ll have an idea and start off again. But until I’ve had some thunderbolt of an idea, I won’t embark on anything. I still have a little “buffer” of around ten years, and no one’s waiting for me to turn out an extra-flat automatic watch. I don’t want to play that one game too many. OK, I could have gone to see Mr Arnault and told him we were splitting it fifty-fifty and that we were going to launch Guy Sémon’s oscillator under my name. That would have made a sensation, I can tell you! But now it’s Zenith who’s taking care of it and that’s fine. Having said that, if one day you have a really good idea, feel free to come and see me. But I’ll only make a move for something really exceptional.
18-21 JUIN 2019 PALEXPO GENÈVE AU CŒUR DE L’INNOVATION
VISITEURS PROFESSIONNELS PLUS DE
W W W. E P H J. C H
SWISS STYLE AND WATCHMAKING:
The original Helvetica font (top) vs. the Arial font, a cheaper version.
A MISSED OPPORTUNITY BY PIERRE GROSJEAN / LARGENETWORK
For all their use of characters, Swiss watchmakers have failed to take advantage of their country’s reputation for excellence in typography, with some experts even accusing them of negligence in this regard. We explore this phenomenon within the Swiss watchmaking industry.
wiss watchmakers are often eager to stress that they are masters of their craft, down to the smallest details. Every micro-element, they argue, takes its rightful place in a watch’s composition. This is certainly true in terms of mechanics. But there remains an elephant in the room: typography. Be it numbers (for hours and dates) or letters (for the brand’s logo, the name of the model or the ‘Swiss made’ notice), typographical characters play a central role in a watch’s identity. They can evoke classicism and tradition, as well as strength, precision and technique. Each typographic font has its own set of connotations. In Swiss watchmaking, however, characters are often selected and implemented without any real process of reflection. “A mere glance at contemporary watchmaking production is enough to see that most manufacturers’ typographical choices lack professionalism and originality,” says designer Vincent Sauvaire, who wrote a thesis on the subject during his studies at the Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL).
A “COSMIC VACUUM”
Sa ut y
Independent watch designer Eric Giroud, who works with several manufacturers, is just as harsh in his criticism. “The use of typography in Swiss watchmaking is what I call a cosmic vacuum,” he claims, “which is surprising. I’m an architect by training, so I strive to be rigorous in my approach to these issues; but I can't help but notice a serious lack of awareness on the part of watchmaking brands, whose managers often have very little grasp of the importance of typography.” Watchmakers sometimes choose logos based solely on their personal tastes. Rather than focusing on the essential and scaling down their artistic use of characters, they instead opt for a combination of fonts, giving free rein to their fantasies. The result? Noticeable inconsistencies on numerous pieces, even among those produced by the most reputable manufacturers. For a long time, the Audemars Piguet logo, for instance, displayed two incompatible types of serif (though this n han o: Jo has recently been corrected). And on t o h P one Vacheron Constantin dial, the days of the week were bizarrely print- “Typographical ed in different typefaces. Even Rolex, a errors are not limited watchmaking giant considered to be one of the most reliable in terms of ty- to dials. They are pography, is sometimes guilty of this. often found on Its site, for example, presents a dial movements too.” for its Explorer model with irregular Eric Giroud, spacing between the letters L and O. independent watch designer
AN OVERUSE OF ARIAL? Among the majority of manufacturers, this constitutes “a true display of clumsiness”, states Eric Giroud. “And typographical errors are not limited to dials. They are often found on movements, where engravings might indicate the number of rubies for example. Engineers add a large amount of gibberish without a thought for typography, using Arial left, right and centre.” (Arial is generally considered to be a cheap copy of the famous Helvetica font — Ed.) This problem often originates in the creative process. “When we receive a brief for a new watch, typography is often entirely overlooked,” says designer Antoine Tschumi, whose agency Neodesis works with several watchmaking houses. “The brief is sometimes even
A stamp issued for the anniversary of the CFF railway clock, an icon of Swiss design.
reduced to a discussion in a cafe!” But what exactly is behind such carelessness? Has the near-obsessive attention to detail that forms the basis of this industry’s reputation faded amidst the euphoria of years of growth? “It’s possible,” answers Eric Giroud. “Brands have successfully marketed and sold their models without troubling themselves too much with typographical research.” The issue is also a cultural one. “Graphic design skills are undervalued in watchmaking, unfortunately,” adds his colleague Tschumi. “Budgeting is clearly a dominant issue: to create a mid-range watch, for example, designers are generally given a total of 100-200 hours. More time would certainly be needed in order to produce high-quality typographical work.”
AN ACE UP THE SLEEVE Watch designers still need to be trained in typography. “The watchmaking stream at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Neuchâtel doesn’t include a single typography course,” laments Tschumi. “Their training is clearly not practical enough.” The same is true of the new chair in watch design at the School of Art and Design (Haute école d’art et de design, or HEAD) in Geneva, which also doesn’t offer typography courses.
A great exemple of Swiss Style in Europa Star in 1961. The collaboration between Max Bill and German brand Junghans remains unchallenged to this day in terms of style and typography.
This lack of interest is all the more surprising given the Swiss watchmaking industry’s real potential in terms of attracting customers interested in the beauty of numerical figures. After all, the nation is considered the cradle of modern typography. Professionals admire the renowned ‘Swiss style’, which dominated the global graphic arts industry for several decades and whose influence has spread throughout the world, from the minimalism of Apple products to signage on the New York subway. Yet Swiss watch brands have not sought, or have perhaps failed, to capitalise on this reputation, save for some exceptions such as Mondaine and its revival of the rail dial, or Ventura which requested a dial from Adrian Frutiger. “We must also not forget that the concept of Swiss graphic arts is relatively recent, dating back to the 1940s at the very earliest,” as the typography professor François Rappo reminds us. Major watch manufacturers, in contrast, draw on a far older tradition. “Their DNA is stronger than that of Swiss graphic arts,” he adds, referring to the creations of Patek Philippe and Breguet. 126
A GERMAN SENSITIVITY Over the past few decades, German brands such as Junghans (with its dial designed by Max Bill in 1961) and Nomos Glashütte have successfully positioned themselves within the contemporary rigour segment of the market. “These brands have been particularly clever in their decision to work with designers trained in typography,” explains the watch industry journalist Timm Delfs, co-author of a book on watch design (On Time, Museum für Gestaltung, Zurich). Will Swiss brands follow suit? Vincent Sauvaire believes so. “It was my fascination with international typographical style, and particularly Josef Müller-Brockmann’s work on the grid system, that led me to come to study graphic arts and typography in Switzerland,” he says. “And since I was surprised by the extent of work that remained to be done in this area within the watchmaking industry, I decided to start offering my services to the major brands.” Indeed, the endeavour has proven a success, and Sauvaire has had the opportunity to collaborate with several companies based in Switzerland, including Vacheron Constantin and La Montre Hermès.
“Switzerland to stop producing mechanical watches? (…) After sinking slowly for five years, we have now touched the bottom. Everything seems to have been in league to destroy the very foundation of what was once a flourishing and seemingly indestructible industry.” (Europa Star, issue 119, 1980)
Time is the ultimate master.
To keep in mind the lessons of the past, | CLUB and get instant subscribe to access to over 60,000 pages of watch history.
RECOMMENDED READING BY FABRICE MUGNIER, WATCHPRINT.COM
A MOON WATCH STORY
THE EXTRAORDINARY DESTINY OF THE OMEGA SPEEDMASTER
One small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind and an extraordinary destiny for the watch that accompanied Man’s first steps on the Moon, thereby becoming the greatest icon in watchmaking history: the Omega Speedmaster “Moonwatch”. Introduced to the public by Omega in 1957, the Speedmaster was designed for mainly sporting purposes, such as in motor racing. However, its fate took a completely different turn in the early 1960s. Astronauts going to space, some of whom wore a Speedmaster for private use, wanted to be officially equipped with a reliable, accurate and resistant watch. For this reason, NASA undertook a series of rigorous tests in extreme conditions in 1964 to select the best chronograph to accompany them on their space missions. The Omega Speedmaster won these tests and was officially certified (“Flight Qualified for All Manned Space Missions”) by NASA on March 1, 1965 for the Gemini project. It was in July 1969 that it truly made history, serving the astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins) for man’s first steps on the Moon. This book retraces an extraordinary epic and the evolution of a unique and timeless watch which, from its beginnings in 1957 through to the current models, has remained endlessly fascinating.
INDEX Acrotec 84, 85, COVER III Anonimo 61 Apple 27, 29 Audemars Piguet 30, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 116, 117 Baselworld 129, 130 Baume & Mercier COVER IV Bell & Ross 58, 59 Blancpain 117, 118, 120, 122 Bovet 13, 58, 59, 102, 103 Breguet 126 Breitling 35 Bulgari 111 Bulova 42, 43, 44 Carl F. Bucherer 10, 11, 36 Cartier 54, 55, 56, 57, 60, 62, 117 Casio 88, 89, 90, 91 Chanel 6, 7, 111 Chopard 108, 109 Citizen 82, 83 Corum 117 Couture 65 De Bethune 52, 53, 58, 59, 111 Ebel 117 Eberhard & Co 45 Elgin 42, 43, 44 EPHJ 123 ETA 37 Fabergé 112 Fossil 29 F.P.Journe 58, 59, 106, 107 Gerald Genta 111
Girard-Perregaux 23, 24 Grand Seiko 31, 33, 48, 49, 50, 112 Greubel Forsey 52, 53, 58, 59 Grönefeld 52, 53 Hamilton 38, 39, 42, 43, 44, 74, 75 Hermès 8, 9, 58, 59, 96, 97, 126 HKTDC 115 H. Moser & Cie 52, 53, 92 Hublot 54, 55, 116, 121, 122 HYT 58, 59 IWC 117 Jaeger-LeCoultre 53, 104, 105, 117 Jean Marcel 112 Junghans 126 Laurent Ferrier 52, 53, 58, 59 Longines 4, 5 Louis Vuitton 114 LVMH 116 Maurice Lacroix 78, 79 Mauron Musy 76, 77 MB&F 52, 53, 58, 59, 110 Mondaine 125 Movado 29 Mühle-Glashütte 80, 81 Muse 114 Nomos 126 Ogival 63 Omega 12, 35, 54, 55, 117, 120, 121, 128
Parmigiani Fleurier 23 Patek Philippe COVER I, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 62, 117, 126 Promotion 113 Ressence 52, 53, 58, 59 RGM Watch Company 38, 39, 40, 41 Richard Mille 30, 54, 55, 58, 59, 98, 99 Rolex COVER II, 3, 27, 30, 35, 36, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 62, 117 Romain Gauthier 52, 53 Salin 119 Shinola 46, 47 SIHH 23, 130 Swatch Group 12 TAG Heuer 15, 72, 73, 100, 101, 116, 122 Timex 29 Tissot 25 Titoni 51, 70, 71 Traser 86, 87 Trilobe 114 Urban Jürgensen, 52, 53, 68, 69 Urwerk 58, 59 Vacheron Constantin 23, 53, 94, 95, 117, 126 Voutilainen 52, 53 Waltham 42, 43, 44 Zenith 116, 122
THE WORLD OF WATCHES
224 pages | CHF 49 | Format 22 X 22 cm
Available at www.watchprint.com 128
BASELWORLD 1.0 LOBBY ENTRANCE SOUTH
A last word to start
BASEL AND GENEVA PLAY A GAME OF GO
BY PIERRE MAILLARD
tart from the edges, take territory with the highest value, know when to give up are the three main principles of go, a game about staking out and capturing territory. And that’s exactly what is currently happening between the two major international watch events, Baselworld and the SIHH. Since 1991, the SIHH definitely started its game of go “from the edges”, with the three brands Cartier, Piaget and Baume & Mercier, joined by then independent brands Gérald Genta and Daniel Roth. Starting with this modest edge of the board, the SIHH gradually expanded its territory through the group’s acquisitions and a few independent additions. Its strategy, as in go, was to gradually surround Basel, with the eventual aim of controlling the board from the centre, according to the second rule of go: “Take territory with the highest value,” which in this instance meant nailing its colours to the aristocratic mast of Haute Horlogerie. Up to this year, 2019, it was easy to assume that the SIHH’s territorial strategy was the obvious winner, despite the defections announced by Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet, who for unrelated reasons had decided to abandon the big watch fairs altogether. With the recent addition of the Carré des Horlogers, featuring the most celebrated independent watchmakers of the moment, and the support of powerful neighbours come to bask in its aura, the SIHH seemed to have all but dominated the central territory of the goban (the go playing board) with its 361 intersections. Meanwhile, the Swatch Group, master of another central territory, seemed to have dealt a fatal blow to Baselworld by implementing the third principle of go: “Know when to abandon your position”, thus leaving an enormous void by pulling out. The territories of power players Rolex and Patek Philippe, as well as those of other venerable actors like Chopard, still seem to be holding strong. Geographically positioned on the edge of the goban, the LVMH brands appeared to be undecided, as did the hallowed domains of Breitling and Chanel. Were they about to go over to the enemy? There came a surprise announcement that completely turned the tables. The two adversaries announced they would form an alliance, in the form of a chronological rapprochement from 2020 (the SIHH will run from 26 to 29 April in Geneva, followed immediately by Baselworld, from 30 April to 5 May). The game would thus be declared a draw. But, according to the rules of go, there can be no draw, thanks to the komi, a compensation bonus including the only half point it’s possible to score in the game. So someone always wins, even if by just half a point. Who will win the current game? Baselworld, which many had thought was in its death throes? The SIHH? Why should anyone in the Carré des Horlogers or in the lavish hotel suites near the lake bother to exhibit in Geneva, if they’re going to Basel immediately after? The Swatch Group, as the distant observer? But as long as Rolex, Patek Philippe, LVMH, Chopard, Chanel and Breitling stand firm in their Basel territory, the game of go will not be over.
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