AMERICAN ROAD TRIP
A special report dedicated to the American watch market and to watchmaking Made in the USA. .......................................... p. 8
A EUROPA STAR GROUP PUBLICATION
USA VOL. 55 NO. 308 | CHAPTER 2/2019 | WWW.EUROPASTAR.COM
Basel and Geneva play a game of go By Pierre Maillard
Start 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.
SIX DECADES OF WATCH ARCHIVES
Calatrava Semainier Reference 5212A-001
The week according to Patek Philippe
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! (Read on page 3)
Enjoy being different.
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Patek Philippe: the devil is in the detail Calatrava Semainier* Reference 5212A-001 *Semainier = Weekly Calendar
By Pierre Maillard
Looking 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? >
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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.
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.
CALATRAVA SEMAINIER 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.
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-ofa-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. >
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MOVEMENT PATEK PHILIPPE 26-330 S C J SE 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 – max. 45 hours
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 fric-
tion, and thus requiring additional adjustment, with high-tech components. Thus, the traditional uncoupling yoke has been replaced by a 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 sevenpointed 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 24-hour 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.
US WATCH MARKET REPORT
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A snapshot of the American watch market 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.
1st upheaval: the breakthrough of the smartwatch By Serge Maillard
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 once-great 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.
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.”
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 counteroffensive with their own connected products.
US WATCH MARKET REPORT
mains very small. According to the US Department of Commerce, it accounted for just $452 billion of the more than $5 trillion ($5,000 billion) spent by Americans on retail in 2017. But according to Bloomberg, “[It] isn’t as simple as Amazon.com Inc. taking market share or twentysomethings spending more on experiences than things. The root cause is that many of these long-standing chains are overloaded with debt, often from leveraged buyouts led by private equity firms.” The problem seems to lie essentially in the oversupply of commercial space in the United States. As Richard Hayne, CEO of Urban Outfitters, told The Guardian: “The US market is oversaturated with retail space and far too much of that space is occupied by stores selling apparel.” Hayne traced the problems to over-expansion in the 1990s and early 2000s, noting that the US now has six times the retail space per capita of either Europe or Japan. A reduction in the commercial space dedicated to a shrinking US middle class is under way. E-commerce is gaining market share, but distance buying currently 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 Foods chain and launching its own Amazon Go stores. The equation therefore seems to be more about finding the best balance between physical and virtual purchasing, according to an “omnichannel” model. In this respect, the local store, which is less artificial and more authentic than the mall, could even find new life. Indeed, it’s the huge and impersonal shopping malls, which multiplied in the 1990s in the United States, that are under the greatest threat...
MAJOR CHAIN STORE CLOSURES
14,000 12,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2,000
Major Chain Store Closures
Forecast Major Chain Closures
Source: Cushman & Wakefield
Richard Mille boutique in New York – its largest in the world – also marks the opening of a new era for the brand.
Would the emergence of the internet encourage online sales of smartwatches? Or of ultra-contemporary models? Neither, in fact. The first segment to benefit from the arrival of e-commerce has been the socalled “grandfather’s watch”, secondor 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 so-called preowned 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 secondhand 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 pre-owned 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.
According to The Observer, half of the approximately 1,200 shopping malls spread throughout the United States could close by 2023. In 2017, commercial real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield counted nearly 9,000 closures across the country. This is more 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 re-
3rd upheaval: e-commerce favours second-hand watches
It’s the huge and impersonal shopping malls, which multiplied in the 1990s in the United States, that are under the greatest threat.
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 retailer 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.
Looking beyond watchmaking, the American retail sector has been under strong pressure for more than a decade now. Several hundred branches of department stores such as Macy’s, Sears, Kmart and J.C. Penney are in the process of being liquidated. giants Toys “R” Us (toys) and HH Greg (electronics) have declared bankruptcy. Payless (shoes) and Rue 21 (clothing) have managed to restructure, but only after having been forced to close many outlets. RadioShack, a long-established chain of electronics stores, filed for bankruptcy before being bought by an investment fund. A rather gloomy picture, then.
2nd upheaval: European retailers arrive in force
SWISS WATCH EXPORTS TO THE USA SINCE 2015 (MILLION CHF)
A retail apocalypse? It’s not that simple…
2,216.4 2,145.3 2,049.1 2,359.1
2018 2017 2016 2015
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US WATCH MARKET REPORT
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Retail: European domination in America 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. Last 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 network of 17 stores (including one operated for Rolex): “Thanks to the acquisition of this more than 100-year-old company, we are learning a lot in preparation for our expansion in the United States,” says David Hurley.
The Tourneau turning point Another giant in European retail, the Swiss group Bucherer, triggered an earthquake one year ago when it bought Tourneau, a historical American chain founded in 1900 and the largest luxury watch retail-
er in the United States, with more than twenty sales outlets around the country. Tourneau had also strongly developed sales of pre-owned watches and e-commerce, two fastgrowing segments. Bucherer, being very close to its longstanding partner Rolex, did not miss this opportunity to dip its toe into the American market, which could further strengthen the crown brand’s dominance in the United States. The family business from Lucerne will also have the opportunity to develop its own brand, Carl F. Bucherer, on the US market. Since then, the Bucherer group has also acquired Baron & Leeds, another watch retail chain that operates in California and Hawaii, and is also a partner of Rolex. The period of upheaval in the watchmaking sector that began with the 2014 Chinese crisis has therefore fully benefited a giant like Bucherer, whose empire now extends from Europe to the United States. And the American market does indeed seem to be the new playground for major European retailers. For its part, the German retail leader Wempe operates a prestigious boutique in New York, as well as a brand boutique for... Rolex, yet again.
A clash of cultures? Smaller, traditional American retailers can legitimately fear the arrival of these European “superretailers”, who are very close geo-
“It’s not just about gaining market share. 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.” David Hurley, Executive Vice President of Watches of Switzerland
graphically, culturally and strategically to their Swiss partners. In an article published on the Forbes website in March 2018, entitled How The Swiss Luxury Watch Industry Is Dismantling Business Operations In America, American watch journalist Ariel Adams, founder of the specialised online platform A Blog to Watch, expressed concern about the growing control of Swiss and European companies over distribution networks in the United States. He writes: “Americans and Swiss in this industry will never see eye to eye on most things. A perpetually contentious relationship (…) has advanced to a state where one by one, fewer and fewer Americans are actually working in the American luxury watch sales industry.” He continues: “Recently, overseas companies have been purchasing historically American-run high-end watch store chains. I interpret these moves to acquire US watch retail chains as an attempt to promote further vertical integration of efforts (thus keeping margins closer to home), as well as having the effect of even more Americans exiting the luxury watch sales and distribution industry in the United States.” Can we expect to see a major culture clash? “We bring expertise in retail,” says David Hurley at Watches of Switzerland. “I believe that it is the untapped potential of the American market, with sales still far from the real size of the country, that explains our interest and that of other European retailers. We are investing in luxury, digital and pre-owned to bring growth to the United States.”
NEW LOOK | NEW VENUE | NEW EXPERIENCE
Friday, May 31 – Monday, June 3, 2019 P R E M I E R D E S T I N AT I O N TO D I S C O V E R W H AT ’ S N E W AND NEXT IN THE FINE JEWELRY MARKET SANDS EXPO & THE VENETIAN, LAS VEGAS R E G I S T E R TO DAY AT J C K L A S V E G A S 2 0 1 9. C O M
WEDNESDAY, MAY 29 –
THURSDAY, MAY 30 –
THURSDAY, MAY 30 –
MONDAY, JUNE 3, 2019
MONDAY, JUNE 3, 2019
MONDAY, JUNE 3, 2019
BY INVITATION ONLY MAY 29 – 30
SANDS EXPO & THE VENETIAN, LV
SANDS EXPO & THE VENETIAN, LV
THE VENETIAN, LV
US WATCH MARKET REPORT
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Roland Murphy – the last American master 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.
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. RGM 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.
Bad retail experiences
A pioneer in the “new wave” of independents 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. 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.
PS-801-CH “Chess in Enamel”
Roland G. Murphy founded RGM Watch Company in 1992 in Pennsylvania
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.”
In 2007 the RGM Watch Company launched its first in-house movement after seven years in development. Today, the company has four Made in America calibres, for an annual production of some 250 watches. The brand has specialised in the segment of custommade models, a growing niche, as well as in the trade-in of secondhand timepieces against new RGM watches.
How to source critical components
A certain vision of Americana
Fortunately for him, the watchmaker initially acquired a large number of Nivarox assortments via third parties, which he still uses today. The first models were skeletonised column-wheel chronographs equipped with Valjoux movements. With the help of Jean-Daniel Dubois (now director of Vaucher Manufacture), then at Lemania, he was also able to launch several small series of tourbillon, minute repeater and perpetual calendar watches. At the same time, he continues to work as a restorer of vintage timepieces, providing after-sales service in the United States for brands such as Sinn, Eberhard & Co. and Titoni. This supports RGM’s activity as an independent brand, with a dozen employees today.
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
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 experiences with retailers. “At first, I started by collaborating with retailers, but I realised that it was better to give it up for a small independent brand like mine,” explains the watchmaker. “The major brands give advantages to sellers to ensure their supremacy. 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: he was immediately redirected to another brand. This happened three times in three months. Enough to understand that it was no accident.” RGM Watch Company took the drastic step of withdrawing from the dozen or so points of sale that represented it in the United States. “By getting rid of this margin, it also allowed me to offer more affordable models,” continues Roland Murphy. “In the end, we reduced production and increased our margins. With the advent of the internet, we have really grown, especially thanks to the impact of social networks and the support of specialised blogs.” The watchmaker manages the Instagram account of his brand himself.
A region forgetting its horological past 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 sonin-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.
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The glory days of American watchmaking When he visited the World’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.
Indirectly, 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 ageold system of “établissage”. Between 1850 and 1957, Waltham produced around 40 million watches, clocks, speed counters, compasses, detonators and other high-preci-
Military issued Bulova A17 Vietnam War era
sion 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. 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 Hamilton’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...
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Shinola – timepieces, cola and bedrooms 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. After watches, bikes, notebooks and record-players, 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 co-founder 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 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. The new Shinola Runwell Automatic is powered by a Sellita movement.
A room in the new Shinola Hotel in Detroit
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Grand Seiko – the American bet 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. Grand Seiko, previously Seiko‘s upscale collection, has broken away from the parent company to become a fully-fledged brand in its own right. This is part of an ambition to conquer a bigger share of the global Haute Horlogerie market. In Japan itself, Grand Seiko was already renowned for the finesse of its design and the precision of its calibres. But elsewhere in the world, and especially in the United States, the name “Seiko” was mostly associated with entry-level watches, since the quartz revolution that saw the Japanese brand conquer the planet. It was to correct this narrow vision of the breadth of the company’s offering that Grand Seiko freed itself. And it is naturally in the United States that the first effects have been felt the quickest. No coincidence, then, if the world’s first Grand Seiko Boutique was inaugurated in Los Angeles, on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
“The United States is already the biggest market for Grand Seiko outside of Japan.” Brice Le Troadec, Brand President of Grand Seiko America
Europa Star had the opportunity to speak with two key figures about the development of the new entity in the United States: Akio Naito, Chairman and CEO of Grand Seiko Corporation of America, and Brice Le Troadec, Brand President of Grand Seiko America.
global ambition of Grand Seiko seems to have found fertile ground in the United States… Akio Naito: Indeed, the new strategy makes sense here. We have to catch up with all the potential that has not yet been deployed by Grand Seiko in the luxury market in the past, especially in the United States. Grand Seiko, born in 1960, had until now been almost exclusively promoted in the Japanese domestic market. When the company decided to expand internationally, it did so first through its production of affordable watches and not its more luxurious ranges. That’s why, even today and excluding Japan, a majority of people associate the name Seiko with an affordable brand. In the United States, the average price of a Seiko remains less than half of that in Japan! 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. 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?
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.
tion. We are also proud of our partnership with Hodinkee, who have a successful e-shop.
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.
The United States remains a stronghold of brands like Rolex and Breitling. How do you intend to convince American buyers?
“Our goal is to have approximately sixty What about online distribution? Grand Seiko partners Brice Le Troadec: We currently do of high quality in The first brand store has opened in not have a Grand Seiko e-commerce the United States.” Beverly Hills, there are limited editions for the US market and you’ve enjoyed a favourable reception by retailers and collectors. The new
platform; however, it is possible to find Grand Seiko models online through our authorised retail partners, but not the extended collec-
Akio Naito, Chairman and CEO of Grand Seiko Corporation of America
Akio Naito: We offer very highquality 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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Cellini: everything for independence 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 monobrand boutiques. It is all about working with independent brands that share similar values. In the watch industry, Cellini is not just the name of a famous Rolex collection. It is also that of a historic and uncompromising New York watch and jewellery boutique. In 1977, Leon Adams opened his first store in Manhattan’s legendary Waldorf Astoria. More than 40 years later, while the hotel (now owned by the Chinese Anbang Insurance Group) is being renovated, the retailer, who works with his two daughters, has just moved to a new space on Park Avenue. Once spread over two shops between the Waldorf Astoria and Madison Avenue, the collections are now under one roof. “Park Avenue is not the typical shopping destination, it is not where the majority of watch stores are located,” explains Leon Adams. “And in the end, it’s good, because we have an offer that sets us apart just as much.” The nearest
watch destinations are the headquarters of the Phillips auction house, as well as Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet boutiques. Indeed, Audemars Piguet illustrates the problem facing a large number of American retailers: with its strategy of direct control of its distribution, the Le Brassus brand recently ended a 40-year partnership with Cellini. The opening of brand boutiques and the development of e-commerce by major actors are
All for the local collector
pushing Leon Adams and others like him to get closer to smaller, more exclusive brands with whom dialogue is easier.
Fewer options for retailers “With the development of e-commerce and the distribution network, many brands have pushed the retailer completely to the sidelines,” explains this astute connoisseur of watchmaking history. “Nothing is attributed to us, in terms of online promotion, for example. Their key interest is to make their own stores profitable.” The retailer continues his analysis: “I am not against the idea of a monobrand store, which can make sense in large cities. But I don’t understand the need to open brand boutiques everywhere, including in more remote areas.” If Leon Adams thinks that brands are barking up the wrong tree, it is also because these strategies, “by pulling production upwards, are strengthening the grey market.” The only way to resolve this, says the retailer, “is not to open new stores or online platforms, but to reduce production and improve product traceability.”
Romain Gauthier, MB&F, Greubel Forsey, H. Moser & Cie, Laurent Ferrier and, very recently, Grönefeld.
“With the development of e-commerce and the distribution network, many brands have pushed the retailer completely to the sidelines.” Leon Adams, founder of Cellini in Manhattan
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,
“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.”
London Jewelers: everything for the family 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. If 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
“We are deeply rooted in our region, with warm and almost family ties with our customers.” Zachary, Jessica, Scott, Candy and Mark Udell, Randi Udell-Alper, Scott Alper
focuses primarily on strong personal relationships with its sophisticated clientele: “Our advantage is hands-on local service rather than digital distance. Touch and feel has never been more important than it is today,” says Mark Udell.
Above all, the brand can count on a territory with a well-off and loyal clientele, where it is very dominant. “The market is very healthy,” notes watch specialist Zachary Udell. “We are addressing a clientele that is looking for a relationship of trust.” About 65% of turnover is based on jewellery. One of the biggest challenges in selling watches, as is the case for many luxury retailers today, is access to the product, notably the most sought-after models by Rolex and Patek Philippe.
A first boutique in Manhattan “We are a family-owned business of 93 years where integrity, 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 retailer also invests in e-commerce,
for a selection of brands that allow it. It has also just entered into a partnership with the online platform Crown & Caliber, which specialises in preowned, in line with a strong trend in the sector in the United States. Owners of luxury watches are now able to resell or exchange their models in London Jewelers’ boutiques. Watches are evaluated by Crown & Caliber. In exchange, they can choose to receive the watch’s value in cash, or purchase credits from London Jewelers – in the latter case for an amount 20% higher than the first option. In addition, the retailer, which has already branched out from Long Island for the first time to open a boutique 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 only plan to go where there is insufficient supply and where development would be viable.”
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Hing Wa Lee: everything for the Asian-American community 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. David Lee’s Instagram account, aka “ferraricollector_davidlee”, has all the elements you might expect from the lifestyle of the super-rich in Southern California, like sports cars, private jets and extravagant watches. The owner of Hing Wa Lee Jewelers, in San Gabriel and Walnut, has one million subscribers on his private account. As a representative of Rolex, Cartier, Richard Mille, Hublot and Omega, he addresses a very specific clientele: the wealthy Asian community in Southern California, whether they are residents or visitors. It’s a successful niche for one of the last multi-brand retailers in this region. David Lee has dramatically increased the turnover of the family business founded 50 years ago by his father, a gemstone carver, since he took over. After swimming across the inlet between Hong
Kong and Macau, an extremely dangerous journey, his father settled in the United States in 1980 as a jewellery distributor.
“Some of our competitors can speak A growing Chinese, but the big target group difference is that we Now 52 years old and preparing the think in Chinese!” third generation to take over, David Lee took the initiative to start opening stores and diversifying into watchmaking when he joined the family business in 1992. “Today, we are satisfied because we have 99% of the watches we like to sell,” says the entrepreneur. With Chinese customers largely dominating global watch sales, some other stores in the region now hire employees with a good command of the language. David Lee, however, intends to keep his grip on
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 invest-
ments 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.”
David Lee, owner of Hing Wa Lee Jewelers in South California
his clientele, with a simple formula: “Some of our competitors can speak Chinese, but the big difference is that we think in Chinese! The entire team is able to manage the Chinese market in its diversity: a Shanghai customer is not a Beijing customer. It’s easier to do business with our cultural knowledge.”
Stephen Silver: everything for digital entrepreneurs 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. Stephen Silver delivers some of the world’s most exclusive watches to some of the most powerful men on the planet. In the heart of Silicon Valley, its stores in Redwood City and Menlo Park offer a selection of really rare watches – no mainstream brands here, only models by Greubel Forsey, F.P. Journe, Richard Mille, HYT, Bovet, De Bethune, Hermès, Bell & Ross, MB&F, Ressence, Laurent Ferrier and Urwerk. The best in the independent and ultracontemporary watchmaking scene. “My father is a gemmologist by training. He started out as a jewellery distributor and a consultant to wealthy entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, where he has built a very good network and privileged relationships with venture capital funds,” says Jared Silver, who joined the family company founded in 1980. In 2008 they opened their first small
“Would you dare to buy a De Bethune online without seeing it with your own eyes?” Jared Silver, Silicon Valley retailer
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 orig-
inality. They are looking for a local and real experience, in a relaxed way. Everyone knows the products of the major brands. But who has ever had the chance or opportunity to try a De Bethune? And would you dare to buy it online without seeing it with your own eyes?” As for watches that are better known to the public, Stephen Silver has decided to team up with True Facet, an online platform for the sale of second-hand luxury watches, to offer
Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet timepieces to its customers in Silicon Valley. It’s a way of uniting the old and the new, the physical and the virtual, but also the exclusivity of niche brands with the desirability of the industry’s icons. And all that is aimed at a very specific audience, made up of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who appreciate the value of tangible products all the more because they are shaping an ever more virtual world...
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Tiny Jewel Box: everything for the political elite 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. “We’re always very happy when we get a call from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” Matthew Rosenheim has a rare privilege in the watch industry: the president and owner of the Tiny Jewel Box boutique, which has sold timepieces for 17 years, is Rolex’s exclusive representative in central Washington DC – the most internationally sought-after brand, in the political heart of the most powerful country on the planet. While many fear for the survival of the “bricksand-mortar” model, such a competitive advantage is difficult to beat. “In many ways, and despite all the technological developments, my job remains very similar to that of my grandparents,” Matthew Rosenheim emphasises. “We do business based on human relations. Of course, we develop new strategies, but sometimes the simplest things work best.” Here, each new product entry is meticulously thought out by the Rosenheim family.
turning their only boutique, which now occupies a historic building in the city centre, into an impregnable bastion of jewellery and watchmaking. Its history began – unusually in the industry – with a woman, Roz Rosenheim, who opened her jewellery store in Washington in 1930 and counted Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a regular customer. The exhibition space is no longer confined to the 100 square feet of the original shop (hence the name of the boutique); its area has multiplied by 80 in 80 years, as the Washington
Post underlined in a portrait of this iconic DC store. “We like the idea of a single destination, embodied by familiar faces, with the owner on site to welcome you,” Matthew Rosenheim explains. “When you operate a family business, it is difficult to separate the business from your personal interests.”
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 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
Tiny is beautiful
Political elites, including a series of American presidents, are the primary clientele of this prestigious address. During the 2008 presidential transition, Michelle Obama
Unlike many of their competitors, the Rosenheim family systematically refused to open other stores,
“Here, the local currency is not money, but your network, who will take your call or not!” Matthew Rosenheim, CEO of Tiny Jewel Box in Washington DC
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.
Miami Design District – “Brands create different stores here” 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. “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 cul-
tural 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 con-
Craig Robins, “father” of the Miami Design District
noisseurs 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 watch-
es, 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)
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Auctions – “A watch culture in the making”
Can a country be at the forefront of the watch culture when its own once-flourishing industry has been erased from the map? Reflections with Paul Boutros, head of the American watch division for the Phillips auction house. We met Paul Boutros, a collector and former engineer converted to watchmaking, now in charge of the North American watch market for Phillips, at the “Styled” auction last December in New York City. “My best memories with my father are related to vintage watches,” he says. “I started by writing about timepieces, as well as taking watch photography.” In 2013, with the help of Swiss designer Eric Giroud, he began designing watches through his own consulting company. Phillips then wanted to use his services: “The CEO told me that they were going to open a watch division with Aurel Bacs. I met Aurel and it accelerated things.” He started at Phillips in 2014, with the ambition
of finding the highest quality collectible watches. We talked about the outlook for the vintage market in the United States. Europa Star: Can you estimate the size of the vintage watch market? Paul Boutros: Today, the watch auction market, essentially vintage – which means models dating from before 1985, according to our definition – accounts for around 250 million dollars per year worldwide. Despite the many record prices that have been established recently, the market is not growing in absolute size and has remained stable over the past five years. But Phillips’ relative share of this market has changed significantly. We represent
nearly half of the market, with an annual turnover of approximately $110 million in 2018. But it should be stressed that the so-called preowned watch market is much larger than the watch auction market.
“It’s a big market for Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Omega - we hope Where does the United States fig- that interest in other ure in this market? brands will grow.” The United States is becoming a destination for watch auctions, but remains behind Geneva and Hong Kong, where we organise two sales per year, compared to only one for the moment in New York. I don’t think it’s time yet to consider launching a second annual sale, because it is not easy to find enough watches that meet our quality requirements to make a satisfactory auction.
Paul Boutros, head of the American watch division for Phillips
How important is America to your supply of vintage watches?
It sounds like watch culture must be strong in North America, if you find so many vintage watches there…
Today, a large portion of the watches we sell worldwide come from the United States. And a majority of the bidders are Americans. But many of the bidders who eventually win the bids are Asian. This is particularly
true with the advent of online sales. There may be a different mindset between American collectors, who are often looking for the best deal, and Asian collectors, who will put a lot of financial resources into obtaining the best quality.
I may surprise you, but for me, the United States is not a country with a great watch culture, compared to Germany, France, Italy, Hong
Kong or Japan. This may be linked to the disappearance of the once flourishing American watch industry. It’s a big market for Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Omega, but beyond that, I don’t see very strong interest for other brands in the modern watch market. We hope that interest in watchmaking will grow. In this respect, we are ready to join our efforts with the brands themselves, which are increasingly highlighting their heritage. Our interests converge on this point. Indeed, brands are increasingly selling certified pre-owned timepieces themselves, alongside their contemporary creations. Could you see Phillips offering new watches alongside vintage models? Our own future could indeed combine vintage and contemporary watches, to become a “complete watchmaking destination”. But our short-term focus is to maintain solid financial performance, and to gradually build the best team of experts in the world.
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Conversation Pieces By Pierre Maillard
Masterpieces 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
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
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
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Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat perpetual calendar A 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?
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 ultra-sensitive 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, duallevel skeleton dial decorated with a radial guilloché and sand-blasted finish. 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.
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Hermès Arceau L’Heure De La Lune With 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-ofpearl moons are set as if in the cosmos, and completes one revolution every 59 days. This technical feat, brilliantly accomplished by JeanFrançois 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 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
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.
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“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
What a diabolically clever man, this Richard Mille. While for most watchmakers, the arts and crafts perpetuate a very outdated, eighteenthcentury-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.
While for most watchmakers, the arts and crafts perpetuate a very outdated, eighteenth-century-style iconography, Richard Mille is opening up a bright, pop-arty and psychedeliccoloured candy jar. 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 twentyfirst-century Marie-Antoinettes (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.
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“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 Carbon nanotubes are used to produce a new type of hairspring.
“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 mathemat-
ically 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 non-deforming 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
*Director of the Research Institute for the Watch Division of the LVMH Group
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 inhouse 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.
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The “Writing Slope” case in all transparency Bovet 1822 Récital 26 Brainstorm® Chapter One
Watches 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 move-
ment is fixed directly to the back, and not to the middle. This makes the timepiece perfectly transparent, the better to display the threedimensional 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 off-centre, 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 crescent-shaped 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
Dimier “writing desk” case, 48mm x 15.50mm, 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. Doubleface flying tourbillon.
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“Created for everyday enjoyment” Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel
Jaeger-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 multiaxis 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 constant-force mechanism. The remontoir d’égalité, which is periodically 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 crosssection 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. White gold case 43mm x 14.08mm. Calibre 184 – manual. Water resistance: 3 bar. Hour/Minute, jumping date, twoway 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.
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Verticality & chronometry F.P. Journe 30 second Vertical Tourbillon with constant force and dead second
At 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 own-
er’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 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
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. Highquality finish: guilloché Clous de Paris on bridges, circular Côtes de Genève on base plate, screw heads polished and bevelled.
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“Time respects what you take time to make” – Auguste Rodin Chopard L.U.C Flying T Twin Perpétuel
Karl-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 96.24L 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 timesetting.” Placed at 6 o’clock, the flying tourbillon looks as light as air, the largediameter 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 hand-guilloché 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
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GÉRALD 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
MB&F + L’ÉPÉE 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 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
DE BETHUNE DB28GS GRAND BLEU
FABERGÉ VISIONNAIRE DTZ GALLIVANTER Visionnaire by Fabergé, a much-talkedabout 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
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 highquality 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
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.
30 | WATCH AFICIONADO
TRILOBE LES MATINAUX SÉRIE INAUGURALE “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 master-watchmaker JeanFrançois Mojon. This inaugural series consists of 100 numbered pieces – and the venture “is only just beginning”. 41.5mm steel case. 2892 selfwinding 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.
JEAN MARCEL TANTUM 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.
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
“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. www.europastar.com/club | 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 2018 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 |
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Baumatic In-house self-winding Steel 40mm