THE WORLD’S MOST INFLUENTIAL WATCH MAGAZINE INTERNATIONAL
INTERNATIONAL EDITION All Europe - EEC, Central & Eastern Europe, Russia
N° 358 1/ 2011 Feb. / March 02
CH F 1 2 / € 1 0 / U S $ 1 0
A WEEK IN GENEVA
1 BaselWorld Previews 1 Watches for Real Men 1 Time for the Girls
Watch in black high-tech ceramic and 18K white gold, limited to 10 pieces. CHANEL RMT-10 calibre with manual winding exclusively designed for CHANEL by Renaud et Papi Manufacture (APRP SA). High-tech ceramic mainplate. Retrograde minute hand. Tourbillon. 10-day power reserve. Retractable crown.
17th of September 1755. In the offices of the solicitor Mr. Choisy, a young Master Watchmaker from Geneva named Jean-Marc Vacheron is about to hire his first apprentice. This agreement is the first known reference to the founding watchmaker of a prestigious dynasty and it represents the establishment of Vacheron Constantin, the oldest watchmaking manufacturer in the world in continuous operation. Ever since this agreement, and true to the history that built its reputation, Vacheron Constantin has been committed to passing on its knowledge to each of its Master Watchmakers in order to guarantee the excellence and durability of its craftsmanship and of its timepieces.
Patrimony Contemporaine Hallmark of Geneva, Pink gold case, Hand-wound mechanical movement Ref. 81180/000R-9159
JULES AUDEMARS PERPETUAL CALENDAR
The Jules Audemars Perpetual Calendar watch is a masterpiece of miniaturisation developed on the basis of the extra-thin self-winding Calibre 2120 and the 2802 module. The entire mechanism is indeed just 4 millimetres thick. Intended to reproduce the intricacies of our calendar by displaying the cadence of the minutes, hours, days, date and months, this complex movement also smoothly handles the irregularity of 30- and 31-day months as well as the leap-year cycle. The calendar module is designed to require no correction before March 1st 2100, a date when the Gregorian calendar will imply an adjustment â€“ exactly the kind of detail true connoisseurs will appreciate. Pink gold case, brown or silvered dial, applied pink gold hour-markers, pink gold hour and minute hands.
AUDEMARS PIGUET LE BRASSUS (VALLĂ‰E DE JOUX) SWITZERLAND, TEL +41 21 845 14 00 www.audemarspiguet.com
6 EDITORIAL europa star
‘The minimalism superhero’
Since time is in the form of a spiral, meaning that it always returns upon its x-axis but not on its y-axis (or the opposite, if you like), we always return to the same trends even if they are a bit different every time. The ultra-thin movement, since we are talking about it, of 2011 is not exactly the same as the ultra-thin calibre of the 1960s of the last century. Just try, for example, to return exactly into your footprints left in the snow or in the sand… Based on the expression of the architect, Mies van der Rohe, that “less is more,” the artistic minimalism of the 1960s seemed to be a reaction against subjectivity, against emotional overload, against the ornamentation that prevailed up to then. We might also say, history repeating itself, that today’s new watchmaking minimalism is a reaction against the stylistic overload and the ornamental and mechanical excesses of the preceding years. With too much excess killing excess, we are now returning to an era of much greater simplicity, like a person who is sickened by the sight of food after a very rich meal. In analyzing this return to stylistic frugality, there have been many reasons, if not explanations, beginning with the ‘crisis’. Watchmakers, however, have nearly always evoked this crisis as if it had nothing to do with them, as if it was
merely a fatality that fell upon them without warning. This is faulty reasoning, in our opinion, because watchmaking, like many other sectors, has nourished the terrain of the crisis with its excesses. Clearly, it was the financial community that started the crisis with activities that were closer to casino gambling than healthy financial management, but they evolved in a larger universe that permitted all this, that pushed them into this. In its own way, watchmaking is a good mirror of society. Larger, more extravagant, more visible, heavier, and more expensive were the words of the day that everyone, not only the bankers, more or less followed. But watchmakers, seeing the land beneath their feet suddenly falling away, changed direction. And, like a single individual, they decreed that the times of excess were over, that it was necessary to return to more measured thinking. They thus turned, in unison, to what they imagined to be their new savoir—after the maximalist era, long live minimalism. The creation of new collections is measured in many months, and in this case, they all reached maturity at the same time, more than two years after the initial direction change. But the simultaneous flood of propositions involving three hands and small
R Pierre M. Maillard Editor-in-Chief seconds also sends a cloudy message. If we in the watch community know who has true legitimacy in the thin movement and who does not, if we know who has worked steadily and consistently and who is merely being opportunistic, the public at large understands this to a much less degree. To maximize the minimalist offer, we again run the same risks. Those who are on a diet of bread and water for so long will, in turn, become sick of it all, and thus will want to order a copious meal. But while waiting for the next change of direction, which should not be long in coming, let us slowly savour our pleasure in the frugal offerings, made of a pure product, one devoid of sophisticated sauces and other garnishing. And, between us, what is more beautiful than a watch in its most simple form?
For relaxed East-West relations.
An imposing time machine full of character, developed with the highest watchmaking passion: the Patravi TravelTec is a chronograph with chronometer certiﬁcation, which displays three time zones simultaneously. Simply and comfortably thanks to the patented monopusher at 10 o’clock, the travel direction – eastwards or westwards – can be pre-selected and individual time zones jump across. The mechanism developed for this is integrated in the highly complex case and remains visible through a side window. Carl F. Bucherer’s philosophy of the intelligent, useful functions and mechanisms could not have been implemented more perfectly. www.carl-f-bucherer.com
10 CONTENTS europa star
THE WORLD’S MOST INFLUENTIAL WATCH MAGAZINE INTERNATIONAL
N° 358 1/2011 FEB./MARCH
EDITORIAL Maximum minimalism
COVER STORY Ralph Lauren: Staying the course and broadening the offering
16 38 52
POST-GENEVA Classical offensive and retreat of the UFOs Time for the girls Watches for real men
BASEL PREVIEW Century – elegant, resistant and transparent
MARKETS Titoni, China from the inside
CASE STUDY Rodolphe – What’s in a name?
POST CARD Postcard from Glashütte
RETAILER PROFILE Simonetta Orsini – Time in Buenos Aires
WORLDWATCHWEB Retailers in the digital era
EDITORIAL AND ADVERTISERS’ INDEX
LAKIN AT LARGE Comeuppance time down south
37 58 60
ADVERTISERS’ SPOTLIGHTS Today’s Spark Tomorrow’s Sparkle Ice-Watch® The King of Cool Post-80s artists sponsored by TITONI Ltd. return to China SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT The SeptagraphTM by BorgeauD
SPORTING WOOD by Ralph Lauren The Ralph Lauren Sporting watch with wood dial, recalls the refined interior of Ralph Lauren’s personal 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe. This timepiece features a stainless steel case with a warmly handsome dial in rich loupe d’orme or elm burlwood–in honor of the car’s iconic wooden dashboard and trim detail. The Ralph Lauren Sporting is equipped with a manual winding mechanical movement–caliber RL98295 made by IWC for Ralph Lauren–featuring a power reserve of 45 hours and a frequency of 18,000 vibrations per hour.
Ralph Lauren Watch and Jewelry Co. chemin de Blandonnet 8 1214 Vernier Switzerland Tel: +41 (0)22 595 59 00 Fax: +41 (0)22 595 59 01 www.ralphlaurenwatches.com
Europa Star HBM SA 25 Route des Acacias P.O. Box 1355 CH-1211 Geneva 26 Switzerland Tel +41 (0)22 307 78 37 Fax +41 (0)22 300 37 48 www.europastar.com email@example.com © 2011 EUROPA STAR Audited REMP 2010 The statements and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily Europa Star.
The CENTURY watch is a unique creation. Beyond its beauty, this jewel of time embodies pure technical mastery. Each CENTURY sapphire is cut and polished by hand.
Century Time Gems Ltd. Zihlstrasse 50 CH-2560 Nidau Switzerland Tel. +41 32 332 98 88 www.century.com
12 COVER STORY europa star
RALPH LAUREN: STAYING THE COURSE AND BROADENING THE OFFERING From the beginning, Ralph Lauren Watches & Jewelry has had a clear vision about its direction and with this year's SIHH novelties the brand is demonstrating that it is successfully on track.
RKeith W. Strandberg
Ralph Lauren watches are mandated to be classic, traditional, high quality timepieces with an uncompromising attention to detail. A fashion icon, Lauren was determined to make a watch brand of which he could be proud, and Ralph Lauren watches are designed to appeal to the sensibilities of America’s most famous arbiter of taste and style.
Brief history In 2009, Ralph Lauren Watches debuted at the SIHH, with its three core collections, the iconic Stirrup, the elegant Slim Classique and the more casual Sporting, using some of the best movements in the entire Richemont Group. Last year, as the brand was entering the Asian market, Ralph Lauren Watches deepened its offering with diamond pieces and some smaller versions in each collection. “When you are a newcomer, you need to build credibility,” explains Guy Châtillon, CEO of Ralph Lauren Watch & Jewelry Co. “Our objective is to build a strong foundation with these
three collections. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to be working on new products, but for the time being it’s line extensions, not new collections. We are using the best manufacture movements and prestigious materials. Over time, our coherent and consistent approach will help us build credibility and legitimacy in the industry.” Ralph Lauren watches certainly feature iconic styling with great movements and they are perfectly positioned for the times, with classic, traditional designs and high quality. This year at the SIHH, Ralph Lauren Watches has continued to focus on its three collections,
COVER STORY 13
SPORTING 45MM CHRONOGRAPH
introducing interesting new shapes, materials and designs to broaden its offering, both at the lower and higher ends of the price spectrum.
New for 2011 Ralph Lauren has broadened its offerings for 2011, introducing a new square case shape in the Slim Classique line, three new Sporting watches, one inspired by Ralph Lauren’s classic car collection, a chronograph reinforcing the brand's sophisticated sporty style with elegant guilloche craftsmanship on the dial and bezel, and another chronograph in striking black ceramic, and new steel versions of the Stirrup, lowering the entry price to Ralph Lauren Watches. The most intriguing new watch is the Sporting with a wood dial, directly inspired by the interior of Lauren’s model 1938 Bugatti Type
57SC Atlantic Coupe. The dial uses loupe d’orme – or elm burl wood – to echo the Bugatti‘s iconic wooden dashboard and trim detail. The black calf leather strap is meant to be evocative of the black leather seating in this incredible car. This watch is powered by calibre RL98295, a hand wound mechanical movement made by IWC for Ralph Lauren (45-hour power reserve). “We wanted to reinforce the Ralph Lauren touch – this is the first watch inspired by his vintage car collection,” Châtillon details. “We used Arabic numerals to match the car’s counters and an elm burl wood dial on the car’s dashboard.” The other new Sporting edition is the 45mm chronograph in black ceramic, a first for Ralph Lauren Watches. The chronograph’s case and bracelet are ceramic zirconia, a high-tech
14 COVER STORY europa star
SLIM CLASSIQUE SQUARE WATCH
material used in such demanding and industrial applications as jet engines, and the ceramic features a silky mat finish. The result is a bold watch with black on black styling (except for the white markers and a red chronograph second hand) that is nearly scratchproof and extremely light weight that makes it as comfortable as it is resilient. The movement is the calibre RL750, made by Jaeger-LeCoultre for Ralph Lauren, with a 48 hour power reserve and a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour. This timepiece is also available in a 39mm version, with the centre chronograph hand in classic white. “We looked at industries where strength, robustness, attention to detail, quality and longevity were important,” Châtillon says. “We looked at aeronautics, sailing, medical, cars and we discovered ceramic zirconia, used in the aeronautical and medical industries. You can work with a high level of detail and precision with this material. This new Sporting Chronograph is full of ceramic except for the screws and the buckle. It is really a material that has strength, resistance and longevity.”
The Slim Classique Square Watch is the first square watch in the Ralph Lauren collection. Inspired by the grand era of Art Deco style, the dial mixes Roman and Arabic numerals to great effect. Thin and classic, the Slim Classique Square uses calibre RL430, made by Piaget for
Ralph Lauren, with a 40-hour power reserve. This watch is available in rose gold or white gold, including a white gold guilloché version that continues Ralph Lauren’s devotion to the fine art of guilloché craftsmanship (and featured on the original, round Slim Classique).
COVER STORY 15
In addition to the above, Ralph Lauren introduced a high jewellery Stirrup, a timepiece that combines jewellery and watches. This watch was introduced when Ralph Lauren debuted its new jewellery collection. This version of the Stirrup features 1500 diamonds, in 12 different sizes, for a total of nearly 25 carats.
“We wanted to introduce a square watch, while keeping the timelessness and the thinness of this collection,” Châtillon recalls. “It had to be in rose or white gold, and we wanted a unisex watch. The resulting watch, the Slim Classique Square, sized at 27.5mm, strengthens what makes Ralph Lauren unique – modernity and timelessness. We used a Piaget movement, so the watch would be very thin. “I think the Square is very well balanced, with a unique design in line with the Ralph Lauren DNA, while breaking the rules in a good way,” Châtillon continues. “We wanted an eclectic, Art Deco look on the dial and came up with the idea of doing Arabic and Roman numerals.” In the Stirrup collection, Ralph Lauren introduces a large and medium size in stainless steel, for the first time. To make it easy to see which versions are steel, several design adaptations were made. For example, the steel versions use open minute markers on the dial versus the railroadtrack style markers on the gold watches. The steel models are presented on calf leather straps with pin buckles whereas the gold models are on alligator straps with folding clasps.
The large steel model features the automatic, chronograph calibre RL750, made by Jaeger-LeCoultre for Ralph Lauren, while the medium steel model is powered by the automatic calibre RL514, made by Piaget for Ralph Lauren, with a 40 hour power reserve.
Staying Ralph Lauren The brand is keen to maintain the unique aesthetic of Ralph Lauren while continuing to offer high quality, attention to detail and incredible craftsmanship. “Breaking the rules and introducing new materials helps create a distinct Ralph Lauren identity,” Châtillon details. “We wanted to widen the collection, with 50 different models in three collections, for different customers preferences. “The key words that describe Ralph Lauren watches are qualitative, authentic and distinctive,” he continues. “The unique aesthetic of Ralph Lauren is present throughout the collection. We have reinforced the style and soul of Ralph Lauren with the new watches.” O For more information about Ralph Lauren click on Brand Index at www.europastar.com
16 POST-GENEVA europa star
CLASSICAL OFFENSIVE AND RETREAT OF THE UFOS RPierre Maillard
At a very opportune time, the 17th of January, at the very same moment the SIHH was opening its doors and the first guests were lining up to pass through the mandatory electronic security detectors, Richemont published its numbers for the last quarter of 2010. Verdict: sales were up 23 per cent at a constant exchange rate (33 per cent in local currencies), providing a turnover of €2.107 billion. In the stands that bordered the vast hallways of the Salon, the CEOs rubbed their hands together while waiting for their regular customers. The ‘elements of their communication language’ had been carefully chosen and the collections they were about to reveal bore witness to this strict selection: ‘rigour, classicism and thinness’ would be the key words this year. But for those diehard macho fans of the ‘Hummers’ of the wrist or those amorous of bling bling, they need not worry. There will always be something for everyone and, despite this neo-classic offensive, they will
have no trouble finding, here or there, what they require to adorn their substantial wrists (on this subject, see the article Watches For Real Men by Keith Strandberg in this issue). If they didn’t find what they wanted among the 19 exhibitors at the SIHH, they could always slide into one of the limousines that were already warming up their engines in the adjacent hallways, waiting to take visitors to private suites in a number of hotels along the lakeside or to the GTE, a show for independent brands. Paradoxically, in spite of the efforts made by the SIHH, external exhibitions have taken on greater and greater importance each year. Around this grand flagship, increasing numbers of brands—and not the least significant among them—gather to showcase their wares. The Swatch Group was quite present this year and inaugurated two exhibitions— Jaquet-Droz and Breguet—with a world first, the Type XXII ticking at 10Hz, or 72,000 vibrations per hour. LVMH also came out in force with TAG Heuer where they showcased, along with fabulous race cars, another world first—the TAG Heuer Carrera Mikrograph, a column-wheel chronograph displaying 100th of a second. Zenith, in full renaissance, held its exhibition at the Kempinski Hotel, while
Hublot made a big splash at the Métropole Hotel on the other side of the lake. The Franck Muller group organized its ritual ‘World Presentation of Haute Horlogerie’ at its site in Genthod near Geneva. A number of powerful independent brands also took place, including Corum, which took advantage of the occasion to reveal the coherence of its new collections (see our next issue). In addition, all of the Geneva-based brands, in a more discreet manner, invited the most influential retailers to their headquarters. We also must mention the luxury niche watchmakers that exhibited along the lakeside, such as De Bethune, Christophe Claret, Jean Dunand, Urwerk, Bovet, Antoine Preziuso, DeLaneau and deLaCour, to cite only a few of the more than 100 brands present during this hectic week in Geneva. Given all this outside activity, the SIHH tried to eliminate or at least contain as far as possible this potential loss of visitors and capital. This year, the Salon was much stricter in the selection of its invited guests and the rules were more clearly defined and communicated to the interested parties—quite understandable since it was the SIHH brands that paid the plane tickets, hotel rooms and nights on the town for their guests.
ULTRA-THIN TOURBILLON by Piaget
ALTIPLANO by Piaget
The importance of consistency Let’s visit, first of all, the corridors of the SIHH (even if, as residents of Geneva, the journalists at Europa Star owe nothing to anyone and are thus perfectly free in their movements). We noted from the beginning that the key word of neoclassicism was followed to the letter at the Salon and that a strict low-calorie diet was energetically enforced, everywhere. Sizes had been reduced, the excess trappings had melted away and the faces had been cleaned up. But, in this exercise of generalized fitness, those brands that have always been fit are the ones that did better. In this category, the uncontested prize went to Piaget, which saw itself rewarded for never having deviated from its line, for always remaining faithful to its genes—in other words, for being thin and elegant. “The ultra-flat is our religion,” affirmed the brand’s CEO Philippe Léopold-Metzger, who was happy to note that it was not the brand that needed to follow the trend but rather that the trend caught up to it. Piaget introduced an impressive array of 64 new models, as well as its thematic collection, designed to specifically celebrate the Chinese New Year. While the current trend favours Piaget, the brand realized that it is necessary to also satisfy its principal market. It did not have to change its nature in order to offer,
Calibre 1270P by Piaget
among others, a wonderful demonstration of elegance with its Altiplano collection. This family of timekeepers was born in 1957 with the 2-mm Calibre 9P followed in the 1960s by an automatic version, the Calibre 12P, the thinnest automatic movement in the world. Let’s remember in passing that of the 29 movements developed up to now by Piaget, 17 are ultra-flat. Metzger is thus right to sing the praises of his brand’s expertise in this domain, a domain that has returned to the centre of attention. He thus expects, after 2010, a “very good year and an explosion of sales, especially in Asia”. While the Altiplano collection is still as thin, it is now available in three different sizes—38mm, 40mm and 43mm. Very exacting and rigorous workmanship can be seen on the different dials of the Altiplano family, emphasizing the quintessence of readability and display: baton hands, small seconds, alternating simple and
double baton indices on clear and important dials. Even with the totally pavé-set dials— Piaget remains, of course, a jewellery house— the Altiplano conserves its luxurious simplicity. Moreover, a new calibre demonstrates that Piaget’s expertise in thinness is not merely a slogan. The 5.5-mm Calibre 1270P, composed of 200 pieces, can claim to be the flattest tourbillon in the world. Based on two other movements, the 1208P (which brings its automatic winding system using a micro rotor, one of the big hits of the Salon, as well as its system for correcting the time) and the 600P (which provides the tourbillon escapement whose cage weighs only 0.2 grams), the 11270P is a form movement in the unusual cushion shape that was designed specifically for its case. The sophisticated symbiosis between the form of the movement and the case has allowed Piaget’s designers, who inversed the architecture and the arrangement of the elements of the movement (placing the micro rotor, barrel and regulating organ on the dial side) to create a magnificent watch that is only 10.4mm thick. The operational functions can be seen through a sapphire dial that has been laser-engraved with a sun pattern. At the back of the watch, two openings have been created, one revealing the other side of the tourbillon, the other displaying the power reserve indicator.
18 POST-GENEVA europa star
PATRIMONY TRADITIONNELLE WORLD TIME by Vacheron Constantin
PERPETUAL CALENDAR by Vacheron Constantin
The most beautiful watch of the season Another big brand that was already in line with the neoclassic trend is Vacheron Constantin. Above and beyond its simplest models, the Geneva manufacture presented a watch that we can qualify, without hesitation, as the most beautiful watch seen during the Geneva watch week regardless of category: the Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time. The first particularity of this magnificent timepiece is that it is the first wristwatch to show the 37 time zones used throughout the year by the nations of the world. We can count among them 13 half-hour or even quarter-hour time zones, for example Katmandu in Nepal. (In all, there are 43 time zones around the world, of which six are only used during part of the year for winter and daylight savings times in the North and South poles). The second particularity is that the day/night indicator is not in a small window, as is usual, but can be viewed via a tinted sapphire disc for half of a darker zone that rotates over the world map. As poetic as it is practical, it lets the wearer see night coming and to immediately understand which part of the night is found in some other location. The third particularity and not the least, is that everything can be adjusted easily using a single crown, thus conferring upon the 42.5-mm pink
ARONDE by Vacheron Constantin
gold case an allure of classic purity. Driven by the new 8.10-mm automatic 2460 WT calibre, composed of 255 component parts with its oscillating weight mounted on ceramic ball bearings and featuring a 40-hour power reserve and the Poinçon de Genève hallmark, the Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time has another advantage that is as unbeatable as it is perfectly calibrated—its price, at €28,900. This will undoubtedly be a future ‘Watch of the Year’. Moreover, in its Patrimony Contemporaine collection, Vacheron Constantin introduced a very lovely Perpetual Calendar, readable and pure in form, equipped with a 4.05-mm Calibre 1120 QP, which is one of the flattest
perpetual calendars in the world. The brand also emphasized its personalized series of Quai de l'Ile timepieces, introduced in 2008, which has added dials with alternating vertical satined and opaline finishes as well as a new perpetual calendar movement with a retrograde date display. More than 700 different variations and combinations are available. Finally, Vacheron Constantin is re-editing a piece dating back to 1954. Larger than the original, the Aronde has been revisited and corrected so that the curves of its ‘swallow wings’ are softer. The piece unmistakably evokes the organic forms that were in vogue after the war.
Italian and American nostalgia A similar nostalgia for the ‘dolce vita’ of the 1950s presided over the launch of the new Portofino collection by IWC. The Schaffhausen manufacture has obviously bet heavily on the revival of a very classic collection born in 1953. The brand has pulled out all the marketing stops, to the point that it seems it has tried too hard to alter destiny at any price. Its booth evoked the cinematographic décor of the small but very select Italian port that inspired the name of the collection. A grand soirée, ‘A Night in Portofino’, offered Italian food and an avalanche of stars (Kate Blanchett, Kevin
Hora Mundi III 36 Avenue Cardinal-Mermillod 1227 CAROUGE – Switzerland T +41 22 703 4020 F +41 22 703 4029 www.jean-mairetgillman.com distribution enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
César Jean-Mairet Founder A passionate watchmaker’s homage to heritage and classicism.
20 POST-GENEVA europa star
PORTOFINO DUAL TIME by IWC
strong retro accents, is the Capeland flyback chronograph, directly inspired from a 1948 timepiece. With its form reminiscent of a pebble polished by the waves, its short horns, its Arabic numerals, its telemeter and tachometer scales, this watch is very successful in its 1950s style and is perfectly emblematic of the revival sought by Baume & Mercier. Driven by an automatic Bi-Compax calibre from Lajoux-Perret, it is available in steel or in red gold on a black crocodile strap. It has the lovely allure of a timeless classic, although not revolutionary and is perfectly representative of the SIHH 2011.
The playful Germans
Spacey, Jean Reno, Zinedine Zidane, etc.). The evening’s activities were photographed by another star, Peter Lindbergh. It was a really big affair to launch the entirely renovated and completed collection ranging from the very simple three-hand automatic with date equipped with a Calibre 35110 (a Sellita Calibre SW300), selling for approximately €3,500, to the manualwinding power-reserve model equipped with an IWC Calibre 59210 and featuring an extra large barrel ensuring nine days of working reserve. In between is a chronograph with date and day as well as a Dual Time equipped with a new in-house 72-hour double-barrel calibre. Round and elegant, it is offered on a leather strap (from the well-known Italian house, Santoni, for the dual time zone and manual-winding models) or on the very flexible and lovely Milanese link bracelets, which also evoke an air of nostalgia. IWC’s essentially commercial offensive was similar on a number of points to another offensive led by Baume & Mercier. At the booth of this Geneva brand, now directed by Alain Zimmermann, formerly at Cartier and IWC and an adept of storytelling, another type of décor also evoked a film studio, but this one was dedicated to the upscale Hamptons, situated on Long Island. Rather than Fellini’s Dolce Vita, it was the
America of the Kennedys that Baume & Mercier called to mind. Illustrations of happy families, nice couples and charming children, barbecues at the foot of the sand dunes, elegant interiors made of light wood… ‘Life is about moments’ was the theme used to initiate this new adventure and relaunch of the brand. After having experienced a number of re-orientations, it is now positioned in the category of ‘elegance at a correct price’, in other words, at prices ranging from €2,000 to €4,000. The exemplary watch of this renewal, evoking
Another latitude, another type of horlogerie and another approach were found at A.Lange & Söhne. Not having obtained, it seems, the expected sales results, Fabian Krone had to cede his position, in September 2009, to Jérôme Lambert, CEO of JaegerLeCoultre, who came on a temporary basis to get the Saxon manufacture ‘back on track’. Yet, based on the products proposed, the brand seemed to be operating quite in line with its standards. We might recall, for example, the last launch managed by Fabian Krone—a piece with a very interesting digital display, the Lange Zeitwerk. CAPELAND FLYBACK CHRONOGRAPH by Baume & Mercier
RICHARD LANGE TOURBILLON POUR LE MÉRITE by A. Lange & Söhne
A.Lange & Söhne is also considerably enlarging its Saxonia collection with the introduction of a new flatter automatic movement, a manual winding version, a dual time model and, in keeping with the current trends, a Saxonia Thin, whose movement is 2.87mm thick, placed in a 5.9-mm case. We will return to the Saxonia collection in an upcoming issue.
Playing on the ‘dark side’
Now managed by a new CEO, Wilhelm Schmid, who came from the commercial and marketing division at BMW, A.Lange & Söhne has not deviated from its journey but has added a small playful touch to its particular type of watchmaking—one that is still very German and orthodox. It also seems that the manufacture has geared to a higher speed. Of the forty movements it has created totally inhouse since 1994, the date of its renaissance, 11 have come out over the last two years, of which five are new movements for 20102011 and equip six new models presented this year at the SIHH. Among them, one that stands out is the ‘Richard Lange Tourbillon Pour le Mérite’, featuring an innovation in the form of a mesmerizing dial that denotes the ‘new spirit’ that is wafting through the hills in Glasshütte. A magnificent regulator designed with three circles that divide the dial to display minutes, hours and seconds, this new ‘Pour le Mérite’ tourbillon is equipped with a fusée-and-chain mechanism for energy transmission. Inspired by a pocket watch realized by Johann Heinrich Seyfert—the explorer Alexander von Humboldt was among his demanding clients—it hides a mechanism that is as original as it is surprising. The tourbillon seems only partially visible, covered in part by the hour display. But this part of the dial disap-
pears instantaneously when the hour hand reaches 12 o’clock, affording a complete view of the usual superlative finishing of the tourbillon carriage and the mechanism. When the hand comes to 6 o’clock, the dial returns to its place in an instantaneous jump. Another remarkable realization is the new Lange Zeitwerk Striking Time. As its name indicates and with its visible hammers and gongs, this timepiece chimes the passing hours and quarter-hours.
Another brand in the Richemont group that has seen a change in leadership, Roger Dubuis is now directly managed by Georges Kern, also CEO of IWC. Kern proceeded to a major relaunch of the brand by totally redefining its collections. The year 2011 marks the first step of this initiative that, while drawing on the savoir-faire acquired by the brand in terms of movements (30 movements created in 15 years, verticalization of production, including springs and escapements, although access to the spring production site remains off-limits), will involve reining in the brand stylistically while redefining its target audience. Roger Dubuis is henceforth qualified as ‘a little extravagant’, not worried either by ‘a touch of audacity’ or by playing a little on ‘the dark side’ of existence. ‘Dark’ is also a theme of the new LANGE ZEITWERK STRIKING TIME by A. Lange & Söhne
22 POST-GENEVA europa star
LA MONÉGASQUE by Roger Dubuis
La Monégasque collection, evoking gambling, casinos and risk. It is also seen in the world of warriors and samurais in the brand’s high complications, while the world of divas, femme fatales and seduction applies to the feminine timepieces. Finally, the world of ‘adventurers and thieves’ inspires the future sports watch collection to be presented in 2012. Although flirting with the limits of political correctness, Roger Dubuis is more restrained in its products than in its communication. In our opinion, this is a good thing. The La Monégasque collection, in particular, demonstrates this very well. While remaining effusive, always with a few touches of exuberance (as seen in the improbable La Monégasque Club leather strap evoking the gentlemen’s club Chesterfield, whose dial is carved from tortoise shell), the new Roger Dubuis style has become more elegant. Without totally bathing in the minimalism that reigned in all the other booths, the cases here have thinned down, the proportions have been revisited and superfluous elements have been removed. The watch offers new and more graceful harmonies. Forty references make up the heart of the offer, with prices ranging from CHF 12,000 to CHF 70,000, made up of automatic chronographs and other useful complications, limited series and the ‘Millésimes’ showcasing the brand’s
mechanical savoir-faire and custom design. Roger Dubuis has also placed the accent on the movement, having made major efforts in reliability, control, homologation and rationalization of its totally independent production, all of which is 100-per cent certified with the Poinçon de Genève hallmark. It has also developed 30 calibres in 15 years, a too rapid rhythm that brings up questions of quality over the long term as well as of competiveness. The new base that has given birth to the new family of movements is called RD680. This 13"' automatic calibre with a micro rotor has been entirely revisited in both design and fabrication. According to Grégory Bruttin, responsible for movement development, these changes have resulted in the ‘improvement’ of four complications: double tourbillon, flyback chronograph, perpetual calendar and a skeletonized tourbillon. We will also come back, in an upcoming issue, to Roger Dubuis’ refocusing, in terms of style and quality.
Legitimacy in Haute Horlogerie There was no ‘refocusing’ at Cartier, but rather a marked deepening of its watchmaking orientations begun during the preceding seasons. This year, a particular accent was placed on haute joaillerie and the Métiers d'art with a splendid Cartier d'Art collection
RD680 by Roger Dubuis
incorporating stone mosaics, plique-à-jour paillonné enamel, wood marquetery, motherof-pearl and grand feu champlevé enamel. (For more on these pieces, as well as the new feminine Délices de Cartier, see the article by Sophie Furley in this issue.) On the Haute Horlogerie masculine side, the teams led by Carole Forestier continue their efforts to fully legitimize Cartier in this sector. Four new movements have thus been proposed and are used in a Rotonde Astrorégulateur, a Multifuseaux Calibre, a skeleton flying Pasha Tourbillon and an Astrotourbillon Calibre. The Astrorégulateur is particularly revealing of Cartier’s grand ambitions in this domain. It is impossible to detail all its inner workings in this article so we will return to it in an upcoming issue. We can, however, simply say that it involves an alternative to the traditional tourbillon, whose escapement carriage passes by all possible centres of gravity and averages time disparities in vertical positions, thus providing better isochronism. The watchmakers at Cartier took a whole different approach when they designed this original system for compensating
RUE R OYALE C o l l e c t i o n CALIBRE ROYAL
featuring multiple integrated complications. Fully designed and built in Pequignet’s Haute Horlogerie laboratory. This unique 13 ¾ Calibre, with a maximum thickness of just 5.88 mm, houses all complications on its original main plate: Double Large Day and Date Windows, 88-hour Power Reserve Indicator, Large Moon Phase and dual direction automatic winding system. 21,600 oscillations/hour (3 Hz). Initial force distribution by a central large barrel axis. High-inertia large balance with compensating screws. These features create an exceptionally accurate and reliable timepiece. This masterpiece of watchmaking innovation and technology represents Plato’s “Beauty is the splendour of the truth”, when the multiple complications of Haute Horlogerie combine in perfect symmetry and elegance. Tel. +33 (0)3 81 67 30 66 - Contact : email@example.com www.pequignet.com
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ROTONDE ASTRORÉGULATEUR by Cartier
for the negative effects of gravity. They placed the escapement, the oscillator and the second pendulum directly on the rotor, which, in the vertical position, always returns to the same position, thus offering a single centre of gravity, thus allowing the watchmaker to regulate the oscillator in this unique position. In addition, two differentials let the variable speeds, which are transmitted to the rotor by the movements of the wrist, be changed into constant speed. This ensures regular operation of the second pendular that moves with the micro rotor, whose weight is in platinum. Placed in a very light and superbly finished niobium-titanium case (circular-grained main plate, bridges that are bevelled, drawn and decorated with the Côtes de Genève pattern). Stylistically all Cartier—two overlapping displays on the dial, transferred Roman numerals, monochrome tones in grey, slate and silvered—the Astrorégulateur is protected by four patents and testifies well to the “profound engagement by Cartier in the development of Haute Horlogerie,” as affirmed by the brand’s managers.Another good example is the innovative Multifuseaux whose indication of the second time zone is placed laterally.
Regarding the other brands of the Richemont group presented at the SIHH, see our special Jaeger-LeCoultre publication delivered with our
MULTIFUSEAUX CALIBRE by Cartier
Europe edition, as well as our Cover Story on Ralph Lauren and the articles by Sophie Furley and Keith Strandberg.
Classicism of the independent brands at the SIHH As for the independent brands participating in the SIHH, we noticed the same trends. Classicism, minimalism and vintage influences were especially evident at Girard-Perregaux and Parmigiani—a small vintage, we might say, in regard to the latter. Parmigiani introduced a new collection, the Tonda 1950, whose name says it all. It is the first ultra-thin classic watch made by the manufacture and features hours, minutes and small seconds, as well as a new 2.6-mm 13¼"' automatic movement, the PF 701. It features a power reserve of 42 hours and an off-centred micro rotor, decidedly in vogue this year and is placed into a fine case measuring 7.80mm in thickness and 39mm in diameter. From a design point of view, the essential codes of the brand have been well respected, notably the profile of its very characteristic horns. And, as usual, the finishing is perfect—nickel-silver main plate with a sandblasted, circular-grained and rhodium-plated finish; drawn, hand-bevelled and rhodiumplated bridges; chamfered, milled and circular designs on both sides of the gears. In addition,
Parmigiani (which stated that it made 5,000 watches last year and whose verticalization is nearly complete following its new production centre in Moutiers) is presenting a new version of its Bugatti Super Sport. The new movement is not on a transversal axis like the preceding model, but on a vertical axis that conserves nonetheless the lateral reading of time, made possible by a system of returning the hour at 90 degrees composed of double pinions with conic gearing. Finally, Michel Parmigiani personally delved into the realization of a unique piece (with a price tag of CHF 3.5 million) in the form of a world first: a small table clock with a Hegira Calendar, working on a cyclic TONDA 1950 by Parmigiani
GP 1966 TOURBILLON ANNIVERSARY by Girard-Perregaux
base of 30 years. We will return later to this very interesting timekeeper. As we all know, Girard-Perregaux had a very sad year with the death of its charismatic leader, Gino Macaluso, who passed away in October 2010 at the age of 62. His two sons, Stefano and Massimo, joined by their mother, have taken over the reins of the Sowind group that also controls JeanRichard. This transition has been happily carried out up to now, especially important since Girard-Perregaux is celebrating its 220th anniversary this year. These difficult circumstances certainly explain why Girard-Perregaux presented only a few new pieces at the SIHH. These are essentially
classic or commemorative in nature, such as the very lovely and stylistically pure GP 1966 Tourbillon Anniversary with its elegant tourbillon bridge and its superb rocking arms. Another reference to the 1966 is its new and very pure Small Seconds on an enamel dial that, with its railroad motion works, is one of the loveliest classics of the season. Two watches present another look to the past, also Vintage 1945, with the famous Art Deco inspired rectangular case, the XXL (even though it measures ‘only’ 32.25 x 36.20 mm) and the Lady with a case set with 70 diamonds. In the feminine domain, there is a new version of the Cat's Eye, featuring small seconds. BUGATTI SUPER SPORT by Parmigiani
VINTAGE 1945 by Girard-Perregaux
The two pillars At Audemars Piguet, which affirmed having produced 25,000 watches in 2010, the new models are divided between the two pillars of the brand, the Haute Horlogerie and the Royal Oak (regarding the new Royal Oak watches, see the article in this issue by Keith Strandberg). The manufacture, located in Le Brassus, also makes its contribution to thinness, purity and classicism with a totally revisited and increased Jules Audemars collection: an Automatic version with date and central seconds hand; a 28.40-mm Extra-Thin, one of the flattest movements in the marketplace, the in-house Calibre 2120; a Petites Secondes; a Dual Time; and a Moon-Phase Calendar. This allows the brand’s 560 points of sale to satisfy the varied demand of the new adepts of understatement (the Chinese are quite emblematic of this trend and Audemars Piguet enjoyed double-digit growth last year in China). The brand’s most marked new watch is the Millenary 4101, equipped with a new and dedicated calibre in an oval form, like its case. What is most interesting is that the three-dimensional construction has been inversed to show all the mechanical activity at the front of the watch.
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JULES AUDEMARS COLLECTION by Audemars Piguet
This view of the mechanism required perfect integration between the movement’s engineering and the case’s design. The regulating organ is particularly visible. Located at 9 o’clock, it has a variable inertia balance with eight weights and the palettes and the escapement wheel can be clearly seen through the opening that traverses the thickness of the movement. The bridges and decoration accentuate the threedimensional appearance. On the back of the piece is the off-centred oscillating weight with a ceramic ball bearing reverser. It is a lovely watch positioned harmoniously at the crossroads between classic watchmaking and very contemporary design. We also find this delicate post-modern balance in the new manual-winding Millenary Répétition Minutes (165 hours of power reserve assured by two barrels, with a third barrel dedicated to the minute repeater) equipped with an Audemars Piguet escape-
MILLENARY 4101 by Audemars Piguet
MILLENARY RÉPÉTITION MINUTES by Audemars Piguet
ment. The regulating organ of the Calibre 2190 is composed of two balance springs placed in a ‘sandwich’ arrangement and inversed 180 degrees, which allows for the auto-compensation of any problems related to the balance.
Being your own classic Contrary to its colleagues, Richard Mille was not tempted to follow the call of renewed classicism, unless it is the brand’s own classicism. Adept already for a number of years in combining lightweight with robustness, the brand has, however, decreased the thickness of its movements. In this vein, Richard Mille presented a new ultra-flat automatic calibre, the RM 033, measuring 2.60mm in thickness. To attain this thinness, the brand integrated an off-centred and bi-directional platinum micro rotor (again, another one!). To ensure the robustness of the
fine interlacing elements of this skeleton movement, the main plate, bridges and balance-cock are made in Grade 5 titanium plated with Titalyt or PVD (for the bridges). A variable inertia balance, fluted screws and a ceramic crown with a double O-ring joint make up the other elements of this thin but nonetheless very ‘Mille’ timepiece. Continuing in the domain of the ultra-thin, Richard Mille also presented an ultra-flat tourbillon set in a rectangular case, the RM 017 (presented as a prototype last year) that has been entirely revisited and whose main plate and bridges are also in Grade 5 titanium. Equipped with a blocking system preventing too much tension due to over winding, the RM 017 features a function indicator inspired by the gear boxes of cars. This crown function displays a W (winding), an N (neutral) and an H (setting). Devoid of the encasing circle, the movement is directly mounted on the ‘chassis’ and fixed by four titanium screws and by silent blocks. They are, however, only two of the many products coming out of the Richard Mille pipeline. This year, the brand also launched the following: the RM 026, a high jewellery tourbillon that, under its sapphire crystal, includes two threedimensional snakes made of rubies, emeralds and diamonds on a black onyx main plate; the RM 029, an automatic large date indicated by
Treasure the past, embrace the future | www.titoni.ch
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RM 033 by Richard Mille
two discs and carried by a rotor with a variable geometry (made up of two adjustable wings on six different positions as a function of the more or less active lifestyle of the wearer); the RM 030, an automatic featuring a rotor with variable geometry that can also be disconnected, thus letting the disconnected rotor turn freely from the movement already mounted on the block; and the RM 038 designed for Bubba Watson, the left-handed golfer who is nearly two metres tall and known for his long drives. After tennis star Rafael Nadal, Watson will test this ultra-resistant magnesium-tatalium skeleton tourbillon under real conditions. “My type of watchmaking has a little aspect of rock n’ roll,” confided Richard Mille, “but on the technical plan, it is always very, very serious. I always have several projects in motion at once. This is even more exciting given that the lifespan of watch products tends to get shorter and shorter, meaning that we must constantly create. But it is ok like that.” With 2,500 watches sold in 2010, the adventure is going well and will, as promised by Mille, “always remain on a human scale”.
One watch per year and per person On a scale more ‘than human’, at Greubel Forsey, the production—and what amazing quality it is—is limited to 100 pieces per year in both good and bad years, supported by
around 100 employees. With the rate of one watch per year per person, Greubel Forsey undoubtedly beats all world records, including that held by Philippe Dufour, the great ‘Master’ with which the brand shares the exigency for quality finishing unlike any other. Faithful to its mission, it is evocative of the ‘reinvention’ of the great mechanical classics and suggestive of the notion of ‘rediscovery’ (rediscovering, for example, the tourbillon in all its forms, such as the tourbillon 30º or the double tourbillon). Greubel Forsey takes the time to develop and certify its pieces before DOUBLE TOURBILLON 30º TECHNIQUE by Greubel Forsey
RM 017 by Richard Mille
perpetuating its inventions, as is the case of the Invention Piece 2 with 594 components that pays tribute to the Quadruple Tourbillon. This piece is composed of two double tourbillons, one positioned at a 30-degree angle and making one rotation per minute, while the other is inversed and makes a rotation in four minutes. They are linked by a spherical differential that averages their operations. With this degree of complexity, where the hour indications become secondary, the price climbs very high—CHF 730,000 for each of the 11 pieces made in platinum and
DB28 by De Bethune
RÉGULATEUR TOURBILLON by De Bethune
CHF 750,000 for the 11 made in red gold. Another remarkable timepiece, notably for the excellence of the ‘guarantee’ of its chronometry, is the brand’s Double Tourbillon 30º Technique in platinum, which is equipped with four co-axial in-line barrels thus obtaining a power reserve of 120 hours at an amplitude of 120 degrees.
The best kept secret A high technical level—basing its approach on the highest traditions in order to better enhance its pieces—and a high design quality can be found at another independent, but this time exhibiting outside of the SIHH: De Bethune. This brand is perhaps the best kept secret of all the brands created less than ten years ago. To overcome the relative unfamiliarity of what is one of the most compact, innovative and complete small manufactures in Switzerland (40 people, 200 to 300 pieces produced per year), De Bethune just hired Pierre Jacques, a former editor (GMT), former retailer (Les Ambassadeurs, Geneva) and now CEO of the company founded jointly by Denis Flageollet, watchmaker and David Zanetta, a connoisseur and businessman with an eye for aesthetics. Denis Flageollet stated that, with De Bethune, “Pierre Jacques has received the keys to a healthy company. All the design and technical canons of the brand have been established;
nothing has been done merely for the short term or only for commercial reasons; the style is unique; the research is advanced; the savoir-faire has been mastered. He has no excuse!” We have confidence in him. This year, as testimony to the art of watchmaking according to De Bethune, is the DB28. Emblematic of the brand’s particular style with its strong identifying codes—totally original spherical moon; silicon/palladium balance (balances are one of Denis Flageollet’s favoured avenues of research); triple pare-chute shock absorber system; self-regulating twin barrels; patented floating lugs that easily adapt to all wrist sizes; beauty of the blued screws; etc. The DB28 is a ‘wearable piece of art’ that is as graceful, lightweight (case in titanium) and ergonometric as it is fully contemporary, if not
even a bit futuristic (with price tags ranging from CHF 80,000 for a titanium version to CHF 87,500 for a watch in red gold). Wanting to show those who might be overwhelmed by the contemporary aspect and thus don’t see the classicism, adapted to the 21st century that underlies De Bethune’s timekeeping, the brand is also presenting a timepiece in the form of an authentic regulator for the wrist, the De Bethune Régulateur Tourbillon. Its tourbillon carriage weighs only 0.18 grams, the lightest in the market and spins once every 30 seconds. Its architecture comprises 50 component parts, of which the lightest weighs less than 0.0001 gram and the heaviest is 0.0276 gram.” A technical exploit in the service of chronometry. Thanks to its lightness, its frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour and its maximum rotation speed result in a minimum of inertia. This high-tech watchmaking movement equips a timepiece whose dial features a blued titanium night sky adorned with golden stars that would not displease those who appreciate 18th century regulator clocks. Among the characteristics is a central jumping seconds hand with double palettes that subtly adds rhythm to the piece. With its very nice workmanship, the Régulateur Tourbillon is among the most beautiful pieces seen during the Geneva week.
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ADAGIO by Christophe Claret
Brand launch Not far from De Bethune, in another hotel suite, Christophe Claret has ‘leaped ahead’, we might say. After its remarkable Dual Tow introduced last year—the first piece that the constructor-manufacturer presented under his own name (he is also a partner with Thierry Oulevay at Jean Dunand)—and on the occasion of its 20th anniversary, Claret presented his second piece, the Adagio. He will introduce his third watch, which is apparently ‘spectacular’, at BaselWorld in March. Christophe Claret has launched his own brand. The Adagio is a minute repeater with a large date and GMT, whose design is as pure and classic (and clothed in a suit of black onyx or lapis lazuli or white gold) as the Dual Tow was ‘post-industrial’ with its steel chenilles and pawls. Here, we find an elegant dial, with indications well distributed under deep golden openings. Does this represent the birth of a new Claret style? For the answer, see the next issue, the Europa Star Special BaselWorld 2011 edition.
Sunbeams at the GTE At the GTE, the sun was shining. That of Frédéric Jouvenot, winner of the GTE Super Watch Award given for his radiant Helios watch, is a sun composed of twelve sunbeams
that are shining at noon but dark at midnight. At the centre of the sun is a small circular module measuring 5mm in thickness and 12mm in diameter, from which emanate the 12 sunbeams representing the hours. This module, on which is attached the minute disc, includes a mechanism that causes the hour beams to pivot a half turn that corresponds to the hour to be shown. At noon, all the beams are golden, but then, hour after hour, they instantaneously pivot on themselves until all become dark at midnight. At 1 o’clock in the morning, the day begins again and the first sun beam begins to shine. At 1 o’clock in the afternoon, the first black beam appears. A superb mechanical-poetic realization, the Helios offers an original way to read the time, both by using colour and mechanical animation, becoming thus a 24-hour instantaneous reading. For a young brand, this is a lovely masterpiece and in keeping with current trends since the sunbeam animation remains very pure and classic, in a delightful, lightweight and modern case. The finishing is also excellent (sides of the bezel finely engraved with a Grecian geometric frieze, reminiscent of the place where Frédéric Jouvenot first ‘dreamed of’ the Helios). To purchase this superb timekeeper, you will have to lay out CHF 49,000 for the DLC version and CHF 47,200 for the titanium
HELIOS by Frédéric Jouvenot
version. (We will look at Frédéric Jouvenot’s watches in more detail in one of our next issues.) This year, the GTE brought together not less than 54 exhibitors, all independents but all different, offering a form of richness, we might have thought, if not for the fact that times are more and more difficult for the small players! (We will return to the changes that are restructuring the watchmaking landscape in our Retrospective-Perspective 2010/2011 to be published in our next issue, the Special BaselWorld edition.) It is impossible to detail all of the GTE exhibitors here, but we will take a look at a few, especially those in the mechanical domain. Undeniably, the major buzz at the GTE was the presence of the new ‘former’ watchmaker, Laurent Ferrier. He is considered the new pope of great neoclassic timekeeping, with his ‘secret tourbillon’ hidden under a romantic night sky that is one of the most beautiful enamel pieces seen in Geneva during the week (the well-known Anita Porchet was the artist). We will also come back to this interesting timepiece at a later time. Another watchmaker working in the classic sense appeared at the stand of a new brand whose name evokes its ambitions: Heritage Watch Manufactory. Created by a handful of investors centred around Christian Güntermann
G U E S S W AT C H E S . C O M A R T D I R : PA U L M A R C I A N O
PH: YU TSAI
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TENSUS by Heritage Watch Manufactory
with the goal of launching a brand for ‘veritable connoisseurs’ with the key word being ‘chronometry’, Heritage engaged the exclusive services of a well-known watchmaker, Karsten Fraessdorf, who had just left a rather unfortunate adventure with the Fabrication de Montres Normande. With his head full of projects designed to improve traditional chronometry, Fraessdorf arrived with various key ideas in his luggage. Among them was a very large inertia balance, beating at 18,000 vibrations per hour, similar to those used at the dawn of timekeeping. The very solid Vivax balance and the Sequax escapement, both patented, are driven by a barrel with two balance springs, each developing 3.4 kilos, procuring 50 hours of constant force on its 72-hour power reserve. These are not the only patents awarded to this lovely movement. Another device lets the balance spring be maintained or removed without deforming it, thus offering the possibility of very accurate adjustment. A different mechanism, also patented, facilitates the adjustment of the balance-cock. Besides the talents of Karsten Fraessdorf, Heritage called upon the graphic gifts of designer, Eric Giroud, responsible for some of the most remarkable watches of the last few years. From this great collaboration came two amazing timekeepers: the Tensus, a watch with
ASTRALIS by Louis Moinet
a traditional and simple appearance featuring hours, minutes, small seconds at 6 o’clock and power reserve indicator at 9 o’clock and the Magnus that features hours, minutes and small seconds. It is particularly remarkable in its Contemporaine version with a dial that has volume but is devoid of anything superfluous. Without a doubt, the Heritage Watch Manufactory will do justice to its name. At Louis Moinet, the extraordinary creative efforts of Jean-Marie Schaller over the last few years seem to finally be bearing fruit. The year 2010 was “excellent” and encouraged the brand to “expand its research into materials and different ideas even further”. Louis Moinet watchmaking, as conceived by Mr. Schaller, has in fact invested in an area that it can now rightfully claim as its own: its relationship with the stars, which we saw last year in the form of an exceptional planetarium. This year, we find this same relationship in a piece called Astralis. This triple complication offers a tourbillon qualified as ‘astral’ that is on a main plate made of aventurine, a gemstone shining with lots of small ‘stars’. It features a flyback column-wheel chronograph in blued steel and a 24-hour planetarium. This mechanism makes one rotation a day and presents four planets successfully in a window. The planets are placed on plates made of meteorite embedded in a disc: Mars, with a
KLEPCYS by Cyrus
piece of one of the 75 Martian meteorites inventoried in the world; Mercury, with a fragment of the Sahara 99555, a unique meteorite, the oldest known rock of the solar system (its age is estimated at 4.566 billion years) and that could well have come from Mercury, although this is not scientifically proven; the Sun, represented by the Itqiy meteorite, coming from an asteroid that formed after the sun; and the Moon, coming from one of the 100 lunar meteorites found in the world. Designed and realized with a high regard for detail, such as the ‘shooting star’ flyback hand or the ‘dew drop’ of the other hands, with its harmonious Côtes du Jura design and its 18K 46.5-mm pink gold case, the Astralis is offered in a limited series of 12 pieces. It is certainly emblematic of the excellent timekeeping offered by Louis Moinet. A younger brand, since it was recently created by two cousins, Laurent and Julien Lecamp, the Cyrus brand demonstrates solid intentions in the art of watchmaking with two collections. Kuros is a large, well-designed watch equipped with an automatic movement based on an ETA 2094 calibre, made in gold or titanium, which features a second crown at 9 o’clock whose single function is to hide a plate bearing the number of the watch. Available in a limited series, the Kuros is exemplary in terms of its execution.
The pedal next to the brake or a component in a chronograph watch?
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TOURBILLON by Pierre Thomas
In addition to this piece, another impressive watch is the Klepcys, realized in collaboration with Jean-François Mojon (designer of the outstanding Opus X, among others). A triple complication, it proposes a surprising display (partially inspired by some of Urwerk’s advanced research). The hour is read over a 180-degree sector with a strong retrograde ‘hand’ composed of dice that, when rotating, alternately mark the day and night. The minutes and seconds are read linearly in the interior extension of this hand, on two respective central discs. Between 1 o’clock and 4 o’clock, a retrograde date is indicated using a scale of 0 to 9. Finally, a very lovely detail can be discovered at 5 o’clock—a hyper-realistic spherical moon that shows the phases of this astral body thanks to a semi-spherical lid that gradually covers the lunar surface. These ‘beginners’ have created a very remarkable watch. Still in the mechanical domain, another initiative comes from Pierre Thomas, a brand founded by Pierre Galli, a dial maker and Thomas Engeler, a watchmaker-constructor. These two men slipped a large and very airy tourbillon of their own design into ancient Fontainemelon movements, with the ébauches dating back to 1870. Placed at 8 o’clock and mounted on two arms, this large tourbillon offers a splendid view of its inner workings, itself located in a ‘well’ of
SLYDE by HD3
light that traverses the movement. This piece is at the height of their classic ambitions and is another demonstration of traditional excellence and purity. With hours, minutes and small seconds (at 6 o’clock or at 9 o’clock), it is proposed on a mechanical base dating back to 1930. Superbly finished, the dials are available in black mother-of-pearl, meteorite, or brown or red lacquer and the exquisitely designed curved cylindrical case measures 49mm in diameter and 12.70mm in thickness. In terms of numbers, quantities are modest, with 100 pieces for the tourbillon model, 200 pieces for the hour, minute and small seconds model, but the quality is great. It is impossible to discuss all the mechanical initiatives seen at the GTE or in the Geneva hotels. We will return to many of these brands, some of which are also exhibitors at BaselWorld, in our next issues.
These marvellous flying follies To end the hectic watch week in Geneva on a different note and to demonstrate that if neoclassicism has returned to centre stage, watchmakers on the edge tend to propose some really crazy timekeepers. We thus, take a small visit to HD3 and Artya. In their highly different approaches, these two brands show two opposing horizons of watch-
SPIDER by Artya
making. In his provocative fashion, Jorg Hysek, co-founder of HD3, wants to show that the physical play of the gears, rods, cams and other regulating organs has reached its end. He has now designed a classic and very haut de gamme case, which does not enclose a movement but whose curved crystal is a tactile screen. Like a smart phone, you can slide your fingers across the screen to bring up all sorts of virtual timekeepers, fulfilling all the desired functions. This watch can change its appearance at will and can store photos or even be used as an agenda. At €4,000 euros, not including the various available downloadable modules, will the Slyde catch on? At the opposite end, Yvan Arpa, also a born provocateur, is betting on the extreme individualism of watches, whose cases he treats with lightning. He is now going even further, not without a bit of humor and stuffs his movements with electronic components used in designs or imprisons horrible insects in a glue of his own invention. The art of watchmaking according to Arpa is devoid of all good taste and of any notion of political correctness. It is a sort of Dadaist timekeeping. After so much ‘good taste’, a little voluntary ‘bad taste’ might be considered as acceptable and helps to put things in their place. O
Today’s Spark Tomorrow’s Sparkle THE EXQUISITE AND STYLISH LADIES WATCH DESIGN TAKES MIRA INTO A NEW ERA
his year at BaselWorld, MIRA is delighted to launch its ladies’ watch collection: Fée Céleste. The collection is a combination of stylish elegance served by retrograde technology. MIRA’s designers and watchmakers have combined their talent to create a storytelling timepiece. This year, MIRA introduces its own interpretation of feminine watchmaking through three Fée Céleste models, available in diamond-set steel or embellished with a diamond-set 18K pink gold bezel. The case has a diameter of 43mm offering quite audacious and modern volumes for ladies’ watches. The Fée Céleste collection definitively speaks to ladies’ at the forefront of fashion. The M107 style is the star product from the collection. The inspiration came from an article about swans that MIRA’s designer discovered purely by chance. Swans are also known as “Love-birds”; they are a symbol of “True Love”. They never leave each other once they have formed a couple. This tale portrays the graceful movement and romance about swans. MIRA’s designer has illustrated the beauty and purity of swans on each watch for women to admire.
image of a swan floats gracefully around the dark lake of the dial, waiting for her loved one to arrive, this is a simple love story that every woman dreams of. MIRA’s collections always awaken the imagination. A retrograde minute arc on the tip of the swan’s tail adds fun and surprise to the reading of the time. In the background is the sparkling black aventurine, inspiring the wearer’s imagination of a star-studded night sky. To complete the splendor, the hour display at 12 o’clock is picked out with 12 brilliant diamonds, they are sparkling like 12 shining stars. And the brand’s star logo stands out in the sky, representing one of the brightest variable stars in the universe, the MIRA. In the heart of the watches beats a self-winding mechanical movement offering a retrograde minutes function, highlighted by a beautiful “Swan” motif on the dial preciously adorned by diamonds, mother-of-pearl and aventurine. The diamond-set bezel and delicate engraved mother-of-pearl watch case back contribute to the Fée Céleste’s refinement.
The 18K pink gold bezel is hand-set with 80 diamonds. Red topazes adorn the lugs; a feminine touch recalling the color of the MIRA star. Also glittering on the crown is a diamond set at the center of the brand’s star logo. The black mother-of-pearl dial is transformed into a piece of art by MIRA’s talented watchmakers. With its fabulous diamond-tiara between 8 and 9 o’clock, and its gorgeous layered feathers crafted with diamonds and mother-of-pearl, the curving, bejeweled (totaling 72 diamonds)
Established in 1896 in Switzerland, the Swiss watch brand MIRA was born with an inextricable connection with the Universe: its name was derived from a star, namely, a giant and powerful red binary star 350 light years away from Earth, residing amidst the constellation of Cetus. The star was discovered by astronomer David Fabricius in 1596 and later named by Johannes Hevelius in 1662 as “MIRA”, meaning “wonderful” and “astonishing” in Latin. MIRA today carries a 4M logo standing for Miraculous, Marvelous, Magical and Magnificent. These characteristics perfectly fit with its latest watch collections; Merveille de l’Espace, Odyssée d'Univers and Fée Céleste.
New advertising campaign by Baume & Mercier
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TIME FOR THE GIRLS This year’s Geneva shows revealed that the ladies are just as hungry for new watches as their male counterparts, with new products galore.
Ladies’ timepieces were certainly not forgotten this year as brands at the SIHH, the GTE and those presenting in the suites of the Geneva hotels presented some exquisite ladies’ timepieces, exclusively and unconditionally designed for women. New designs, creative concepts, magical mechanics and experimental techniques were all called upon to seduce the female client who has never had such a large choice of fine timepieces.
METIERS D’ARTS One of the most delightful trends currently sweeping the watch industry is the revival of traditional watch crafts. Enamelling, gem-setting, engraving, wood marquetry, the use of semi-precious stones and more have returned to modern day watchmaking after a long intermission. This return to the arts follows the general tendency towards traditional watchmaking. It started over a decade ago with the rebirth of the mechanical watch, and has now embraced a multitude of historical watchmaking crafts whose techniques came very close to disappearing forever.
Jewellery brands are perhaps the best qualified for artisanal work in their watchmaking workshops thanks to their expertise in a variety of different crafts. Cartier is one such brand that has been developing its artistic timepiece collections that they call their Métiers d’arts collections. This year Cartier presented a menagerie of animals using a variety of new and traditional techniques.
the Rotonde de Cartier Turtle whose dial is created as a miniature mosaic with 1,167 pieces of stone measuring only 0.75mm square and 0.4mm thick. Onyx, tiger’s eye, falcon’s eye, yellow Pietersite, carnelian, yellow jasper, palm jasper, Kalahari jasper, yellow agate, moss agate, coral and mother-of-pearl are delicately cut and positioned to give the turtle its colour, shape and form. All the stones are fixed and cemented to ensure an even surface, a process that takes over 60 hours to complete.
There are six different timepieces in this new collection that not only continue these artistic crafts, but reinvent them in totally new ways. One of the most stunning examples of this is
Another artistic piece in Cartier’s collection this year, and that definitely deserves a mention, is the Rotonde de Cartier Polar Bear. This enamelled timepiece is created using plique à jour paillonné enamel. The technique dates back to the 14th century and is a complex process that
ROTONDE TURTLE by Cartier
ROTONDE POLAR BEAR by Cartier
depicts two emblematic flowers in Turkish folklore: The red tulip, associated with eternal love, and the Myosotis, better known as the Forget-me-not. The Nicée is created in 18carat white gold with 62 diamonds and a white satin strap lined with red leather.
WHAT’S THE TIME CINDARELLA?
EXTRAORDINARY DIALS by Van Cleef & Arpels
results in a stained glass window effect (For enamel techniques see The witchcraft of watch craft on www.europastar.com). White gold stars, called paillons, are also applied to the enamel to create a starry night sky effect.
A voyage with Van Cleef & Arpels Van Cleef & Arpels presented another anthology of Poetic Complications and Extraordinary Dials this year with a number of collections dedicated to the author and adventurer Jules Vernes. Jules Gabriel Verne was born in France in 1828 and is often referred to as the father of science fiction. His most famous novels include Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,A Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days.Verne’s tales relate the wonders of space, air and underwater travel even before the invention of the airplane or the submarine. Verne’s adventures gave Van Cleef & Arpels’s designers strong themes for inspiration. “We take something, a book, a place, a work of art, and see how we can translate it into watches and jewellery,” notes Nicolas Bos, Van Cleef & Arpels’s Vice President and Director of Creations. “Plato, Shakespeare and Jules Verne are all storytellers…we continue their stories in new directions,” he explains. The stories that the brand has chosen to continue take the watch lover to the South Pole, through the jungle and across the planes of Africa using a variety of artistic crafts that bring each timepiece to life.
Peter Tanisman brings a personal touch to watchmaking As Swiss traditional watch crafts are making a comeback across the female watch segment, Peter Tanisman has decided to celebrate a well-known art form from his own Turkish homeland. Iznik ceramic is named after a town in western Anatolia where it was made and where it reached the height of its popularity in the sixteenth century. This highly decorative pottery is instantly recognisable with its floral designs and the use of different shades of blue. Peter Tanisman has interpreted this traditional art in his Caroussel line of timepieces using enamel techniques that bring out the beauty of the Iznik design on both the dial and the spinning barrel below. The timepiece photographed here is the Nicée model and NICÉE by Peter Tanisman
To wear, or not to wear a watch with an evening gown has long been a controversial question. There are certainly many elegant timepieces that would not look out of place, but should ladies really be checking the time on such refined occasions? For women who have to work in the morning, knowing the hour is of utmost importance, and no, a quick peak at the illuminating screen of a cell phone is certainly a no no.The solution: a secret watch hidden in a bejewelled bracelet that provides both a beautiful piece of jewellery and the function of a timepiece. Secret watches first appeared in the 1800s and are now making a comeback, much to the delight of today’s jewellers and high society ladies.
A little Magic from DeLaneau DeLaneau has reinforced its reputation as the ‘jeweller of the watch’ this year with the unveiling of an extremely intricate secret watch. The creation is called the Magic and is a sculpture of baguette rubies that spiral around a gold MAGIC by DeLaneau
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AQUASCOPE LADY NIGHT by JeanRichard
RM 026 by Richard Mille
dome. The difficulty of setting the dome is a feat of jewellery engineering as each perfectly matched ruby is cut into a different shape and set around the dome. The gem-setter starts at the bottom and works upwards in a spiral, leaving no margin for error at the pinnacle of the dome. A closer look at this delicate timepiece reveals an articulated bracelet with a combination of baguettes and micro-cut diamonds displaying the huge talent of DeLaneau’s gem-setters. The hidden timepiece below is equipped with a small mechanical movement and is accessed by sliding the dome to the left or the right for a peak at the time.
Piaget’s Garden Party Piaget never fails to delight and surprise the crowds at the SIHH and this year was no exception. On the one side were the world record slim movements for men, and on the other, a selection of jewellery and timepieces for ladies around the theme of a garden party. Cherry blossom, cocktails, birds and garden lanterns were represented in necklaces, rings, earrings and a selection of ladies timepieces. Piaget’s secret watch is created in white gold with white chalcedony and precious stones depicting cherry blossoms on a white satin strap. The floral face slides to the side to reveal a secret watch beneath. This feminine timepiece is part of jewellery collection that follows the same theme with a cherry blossom ring and a necklace. For more information see our sister magazine www.cijintl.com.
TOM BOYS At the complete opposite end of the spectrum, the trend for more masculine looking watches is also gaining in popularity. Many women love to steal their husbands’ or boyfriends’ timepieces to make a bold fashion statement, and watch brands have been observing this phenomenon for some time now.
Richard Mille’s sexy snakes Richard Mille is one brand that provides women with it all – a powerful watch with a feminine touch. One of the brand’s star introductions at the SIHH was its RM 026 tourbillion with two gem-set snakes. These two serpents are set with rubies, emeralds, diamonds and red coral (for the tongue) and intertwine with the tourbillon movement. “We have many glamorous pieces, but it hasn’t been easy due to our technical/macho image,” explains Richard Mille. “We pushed for years, but now it is working well,” he says. No concessions have been made with regards to quality: a tripartite tonneau case, a tourbillon, a newly developed power reserve indicator and torque limiting crown all add to the attraction of this imposing timepiece that will look good whether it’s on the wrist of the husband or his wife!
JeanRichard makes a splash After the success of its 2010 Aquascope Lady collection, JeanRichard has released two new versions for 2011. The Aquascope is a sportchic diving watch with a professional water
resistance of 300 metres and JeanRichard’s JR1000 automatic movement. This retroinspired collection is a reinterpretation of a 1960s model with the brand’s distinctive round bezel on a tonneau case, rotating aluminium bezel, satin finishes and red touches. This year’s new releases include the Aquascope Lady Day (in white) and the Aquascope Lady Night in an intense black. The Night version combines the masculine nature of the black diving watch, with its black case, bezel and strap, and the glamour of a ladies timepiece with eight diamond indexes and a fabric strap.
MECHANICS FOR GIRLS The popularity of mechanical movements in ladies timepieces gains ground every year as women become more knowledgeable about watchmaking. “At the high-end ladies are often making the choice, but their husbands are sometimes reluctant to invest a lot of money in quartz” shares Van Cleef & Arpels’s Nicolas Bos, “We like to offer the choice - some people really like mechanical while others prefer quartz,” he adds. There is no arguing with the practicality of quartz, but a mechanical movement gives a little extra magic to a timepiece that has been crafted with such attention to detail.
EXCALIBUR LADY by Roger Dubuis
numerals that stretch across the face of the watch, along with a satin sunburst design and a variety of diamond settings. TRANSPARENCY by Quinting
Quinting’s crystal mechanics
Watchmaking may be veering towards a return to the classics for men, but it seems that the ladies are not ready to go back to the small, round timepiece of yesteryear just yet. New and unusual case shapes made their appearance all over Geneva.
Quinting is best known for its mystery movements that are hidden with the help of sapphire crystal components. Each Quinting movement is made using several thin toothed sapphire crystal discs that are superimposed onto each other. The brand’s chronograph, for example, has 13 thin layers of sapphire, seven of them are stationary and six (the ones holding the hands) are mobile. As an aside, Quinting produced the stunning Mysérieuse movement for Dior. Predominantly a brand focused on the male client, Quinting is now offering a myriad of timepieces for women with a variety of different gem-settings.
Roger Dubuis treats the ladies At the heart of Roger Dubuis’s Excalibur Lady lies the RD821 in-house mechanical movement, hallmarked with the prestigious Poinçon de Genève and certified by COSC, which are both rare in a women’s timepiece. It isn’t only the movement that has received Roger Dubuis’s attention, this 36mm timepiece incorporates a number of design cues from the men’s Excalibur collection – a characteristic indented bezel, triple lugs and Roman numerals – giving this timepiece a distinctive feminine twist. The dial is decorated in tapered Roman
Demoiselle D, love-me, love-me-not… The Demoiselle D booth at the GTE was definitely the most difficult place to get into in January. There was always someone in deep conversation with the brand’s husband and wife team, Jean and Véronique Muller, a very good sign for this newcomer to the watch industry. Demoiselle D’s timepieces are resolutely feminine with their cases inspired by the shapes of flowers (for the Demoiselle Rosa and Demoiselle Capucine collections) and orbiting planets (for the Demoiselle O line). All three collections are unique in their form and we look forward to seeing and hearing more from this resolutely feminine brand in the future.
Cartier’s Delight Cartier has always liked to play with forms in its ladies’ collections and this year the brand offered a new collection called the Délice. The
case is shaped in a twisted oval with diamond links and bezel as well as an integrated brushed canvas strap or bracelet. It is available in three sizes in both pink gold and rhodium-plated white gold. The shape is a little disconcerting at first glance, but once on the wrist it is a real delight. Photographed here is the XL model in rhodium plated 18 carat white gold with 5.23 carats of diamonds on the dial, bezel and lugs.
SOMETHING SPECIAL There are different ways to personalise a timepiece and people have been engraving dates, messages and initials on casebacks since the very first pocket watch. As the global market place reaches further and further a field, it is just as easy to find the same timepieces in DÉLICE LADY by Cartier
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Diane Kruger and GRAND REVERSO LADY ULTRA THIN by Jaeger-LeCoultre
remote places as it is in the big cities, making the quest to be unique even harder. Personalising a timepiece is one way to have something special and many watch brands are providing ways for their clients to individualise their watch.
A frame to fill Jaeger-LeCoultre has been offering the possibility to personalise the second face of its Reverso watches since the model’s inception, however the brand never really promoted the fact as such. For the Reverso’s 80th anniversary this year, Jaeger-LeCoultre has decided to share its passion for the decorative arts and all the possibilities for personalising a Reverso timepiece. A visit to the brand’s engraving workshop revealed just some of the special requests that have been realised over the years - from diamond set initials and lacquered monograms to enamel miniature paintings and engraved portraits – a beautiful way for a client to add his or her own creativity to a timepiece and mark the time.
Time in pairs DeLaneau launched an interesting new concept for women this January by offering any of its watches in a set of two. The idea is to create a bond between women by proposing twoof-a-kind timepieces that link two ladies together. The pairs could be for a mother and daughter, sisters, best friends or business partners, for example, creating a link between
ATAME by DeLaneau
them and their appreciation of time. The first pair of DeLaneau timepieces will be created as mirror images in the brand’s Atame collection. For a lady who falls in love with the design of one of the pairs, but doesn’t necessarily want to buy two, the link is not necessarily lost as she will have the opportunity to contact the owner of the twin timepiece and perhaps acquire a new friend as well as a new watch.
“Life is about moments”
Baume & Mercier presented a brand new concept during the SIHH this year - the celebration of life’s moments - with an emotional context of seaside living in the Hamptons. “It isn’t about where you live, but more a mindset,” shares Rudy Chavez, Baume & Mercier’s President for North America. “It is about special moments that transcend generations and cultures” he explains. Each timepiece is personalised by the reason for its purchase, and that is personal to everyone.
It is easy for us to get lost in the workings of watches, the savoir-faire, the distribution figures and the prices, but it is important not to forget why watches are so dear to us. Most of us remember our first watch as a child, and most definitely remember our first luxury timepiece. Whether it was a present from a loved one or a gift to oneself, a timepiece captures a moment in time: a graduation, a birthday, a new job, a wedding or the birth of a child.
So as the January shows closed their doors and the brands started to tally up their orders, it was a joy to see that for women celebrating events in 2011, there would be plenty of gorgeous timepieces to choose from – from haute-joaillerie timepieces to striking shaped cases, mechanical marvels and sporty watches – maybe us girls don’t need an occasion after all! O LINEA by Baume & Mercier
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Century – elegant, resistant and transparent Watch crystal has come a long way over the last fifty years, but no one fashions it quite like Century does.
Beauty and light
The use of sapphire crystal in watchmaking has become increasingly popular these last few years (See our article Crystal clear on www.europastar.com), but it is nothing new to the craftsmen at Century, who have been sculpting this tough material for more than half a century.
The majority of high-end watch brands use synthetic sapphire crystal to cover and protect their dials. The material has amazing properties as it is not only close to scratch-resistant, but it refracts so little light that it provides an almost unobstructed view on the dial. Yet, when it is coloured, hand-cut and polished like a precious gem, the light subtly shimmers off the surface, just enough to reveal a hint of the architecture, dimensions and lines within. Each of Century’s creations is a crystal sculpture - from the nine facets of the brand’s Empire line, to the 40 facets of the art deco inspired Couture pieces,
and all the way up to the breathtaking 192 facets of the Mogul collection - the complexity of each piece is considerable.
Resistance and endurance Crystal is no easy material to reshape. It hits a staggering 9 on the Mohs scale, closely following the diamond that holds the top position at 10 Mohs. This extreme hardness hinders its malleability, making it extremely difficult to work with, but gives it a lustre that will last forever. Century’s master craftsmen and women have been sculpting sapphire crystal for over 50 years and it is this artistry
that enables the brand to bring both strength and sparkle to ladies timepieces in such an elegant way.
and 32mm with an automatic movement – and is fitted with a black or white mother-ofpearl dial, six diamonds (totalling 0.032 diamonds) and a steel bracelet.
New releases – Elegance Lady New this year is the brand’s ‘Elegance Lady’ timepiece from its Contemporary Timepiece Collection. All 48 facets of the sapphire crystal that span the bezel and dial are expertly cut and polished by hand, resulting in a myriad of reflections that highlight this stylish ladies’ timepiece. The Elegance Lady is available in two sizes – 23mm with a quartz movement PRIME TIME CHRONOGRAPH LADY
The Prime Time Chronograph Lady The sapphire crystal case of the new Prime Time Chronograph Lady has been designed in a dodecagonal form. The 12 sapphire crystal facets produce both a strong design and a robust timepiece that will be able to take on the knocks and scrapes of today’s busy women. A date at 4 o’clock, central seconds, chrono-
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graph subdials, a mother-of-pearl dial and white crocodile strap complete this bold timepiece. Sapphire crystal is not something that the watch industry pays much attention to, maybe because it is hardly visible, but it is one of the most fascinating crafts associated with watchmaking. In our next issue (no. 2/2011) we will be taking a closer look at how Century’s sapphire crystal is created, from the drawing board to the final piece – so stay tuned. O For more information about Century click on Brand Index at www.europastar.com
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Titoni, China from the inside RPierre Maillard
At a time when watchmakers look in the mirror every morning and think “China, China, China” as they shave, there is one brand for which China is the mirror. For more than fifty years (since 1959), this brand has been solidly anchored in this vast nation. It has traversed the trials and tribulations of the country, from the Cultural Revolution to the current opening, from the most intransigent Maoism to today’s most original single-party capitalism. It is thus with a very special awareness—and a particular distance—that Daniel Schluep, representing the third generation of the family owners of Titoni, looks at the current obsession for China, a country that he knows extremely well and in which he has travelled extensively for some thirty years. Talking about his long time business partner based in Hong Kong—a family enterprise also managed by its third generation—Schluep says that they “have known each other forever.” Together, each with a 50 per cent share, they own an import company in Shenzhen, four different branches (Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Changchun), eleven large brand boutiques (of which four are owned directly), and 700
points of sale in China, of which 450 are Titoni ‘shop-in-shops’. All this is used to distribute approximately 160,000 watches per year, but as Schluep adds, “an additional 100,000 watches would not pose a problem in 2011”.
“It is good for Titoni” Contrary to what one might think, Daniel Schluep looks favourably on the current rush of new competitors into the Chinese market. He does not fear the mass arrival of brands wanting to take part in this immense playing field. Quite the opposite. He thinks that “it is good for Titoni”. He goes on to explain that “hardly seven years ago, there was simply no ‘luxury’ structure in China. The opening of this market has transformed the traditional practices and now it is possible to work in a much more professional, planned and efficient manner than
before. During these last seven years of major transformations, we have also strengthened our image and our branding process. With the arrival of the high luxury brands, of haute horlogerie, selling very expensive watches, the entire market has seen its watch level gradually rise. This period has also seen an increase in understanding and knowledge of timekeeping. All of this clearly benefits us. Just think about it for a moment. Ten years ago, it was nearly impossible to sell a COSC-certified chronometer in China. No one was interested in them. Today, more than ten per cent of our watches are COSC-certified and, believe me, the Chinese consumer places much importance on this fact. When he goes home, he will patiently check the precision of his watch. He will participate in all the online chat rooms and if he is not happy, he will not hesitate to come back and let us know.”
ever we should loose ground, part of our market share will be taken by the Swatch Group since it is the only player to also propose lines and brands in the segments and with the qualities that are comparable to ours, with prices ranging from CHF 600 to CHF 1,500 and an average price of around CHF 1,000. Our most expensive timepiece is priced at CHF 12,000 for an automatic watch in a gold case.”
Titoni, a case apart
Avoiding trompe-l'oeil Yet, while he views the current excitement and activities with satisfaction, Daniel Schluep also knows how to differentiate the impacts of marketing from the realities in the field. “All the brands sell watches in all the segments in China. But, beyond the marketing effects, there are many brands on the other side of the bamboo curtain that are merely raising their stocks. It is for this reason that we have redoubled our vigilance and, in a very precise and detailed manner, we are closely controlling our sell-out, store by store, display by display, week after week. We know exactly what we have sold and where we sold it. The eighty people who work for us are constantly in the field. I can assure you that our organization has an iron will…” He opens a large file folder in which all the sales points in China are recorded, filed, and photographed with their sales figures, their decorations and their quality of service. In looking through the file folder, it is easy to understand the extent of the network that Titoni has patiently created throughout China, where no secondary city has been ignored. It even reaches to the outer markets of the empire, including Tibet and Mongolia, not to mention the vast Chinese diaspora of Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
A very classic market From a stylistic point of view, has the opening of the Chinese watch Eldorado changed things, we ask. “Titoni is and will remain a classic brand, with nine clearly defined product families, of
which eight lines are automatic, and one is a uniquely feminine quartz line. In the near future, we are undoubtedly going to reduce our collection to seven well-targeted lines that will nonetheless maintain our classic orientation. You know, we cannot trust all the marketing hype. I believe that the current strength of the demand for luxury comes essentially from the trade itself, even if there will always be a Chinese
Daniel Schluep continues, “You know, Titoni is considered to be a case apart. We are very particular and we follow our own path, with discretion and consistency. We are totally independent, in perfectly good health, and we have very close relationships with our distributors. In a few years, the fourth generation of the Schluep family will be in the starting gate. I am thus very confident about our future, while still remaining aware of the risks. The only limit to
billionaire to purchase extravagant watches. The commercial base of the Chinese market, however, remains fundamentally classic, even very classic. The Chinese consumer wants a serious Swiss watch, one that is durable and precise. His three main criteria are: quality, quality, and quality. And, he also wants totally irreproachable after-sales service. The brand name is secondary. This, in a nutshell, is what guides us.” Apparently, Daniel Schluep is not worried about the increased competition, at least not in the medium term. “China is so vast that, in the medium term, there is room for everyone. In the long term, it is more difficult to say, but based on what is happening now, I believe that the great winner will be the Swatch Group. If
our development is in our dependence on movements. Ninety per cent of our pieces are equipped with calibres made by ETA, with whom we have an excellent relationship. For our products, there is really no viable alternative in Switzerland. We are therefore obliged, like many others, to actively think about developing our own movement. Even though this would require a great deal of time and effort, we must think about it. To paraphrase Nicolas Hayek who once said, ‘money is to me like painting is to a painter,’ I would say that ‘movements are to Titoni like painting is to a painter. Without movements, there are no watches.’”O For more information about Titoni click on Brand Index at www.europastar.com
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Rodolphe – What’s in a name? In the beginning, there was ‘Rodolphe by Longines’, then ‘Rodolphe by Rodolphe’, and then simply ‘Rodolphe’, followed by ‘Rodolphe’ at the heart of the Franck Müller Group. Now, there is ‘Manufacture Rodolphe Cattin SA’. In the small world of watch designers, Rodolphe is a case apart and the only one, without a doubt, that has been able to impose a first name as a signature. It must be said that, without really having planned it, Rodolphe was a precursor, the first designer to have been made a ‘star’ by the brand that employed him.
When, in 1984, barely out of the applied arts school, Ecole des arts Appliqués, in La Chauxde-Fonds, the term ‘designer’ was not really used in watch ateliers. The creative tasks were entrusted to designated designers in white lab coats. With his rock ’n’ roll allure—that he maintains today—the young Rodolphe stuck out like a sore thumb in this conservative and vaguely ‘boring’ universe. He was interested not only in watch design but he also avidly followed the developments in the worlds of music, cinema and fashion. Contrary to all expectations, the young artist with a rebel streak got along quite well with
the firm-handed CEO of Longines, Walter von Kaenel, who was also a highly ranked officer in the Swiss army. Von Kaenel undoubtedly understood that he had, in Rodolphe, an opportunity to rejuvenate the brand. Thus, he gave the young man more and more responsibilities. Rodolphe was put in charge of watch
design and of the brand’s image. Often sent to Italy, he would come back with rather alarming reports. He noted the rapid arrival of new competitors coming from the world of fashion that were more reactive, more attractive to a new public and more in phase with current trends. His conclusion: Longines must reinvent itself. During one of the friendly cocktail hours that Walter von Kaenel liked to organize on Friday evenings, the CEO gave Rodolphe a challenge: “Since you are more clever than the others, make me a proposition!” No sooner said than done. The next Monday morning, Rodolphe went to see von Kaenel with a file folder full of drawings—actually prepared much earlier following his dreams and inspirations. His proposition was to create a sub-brand whose collections would be inspired by fashion, something along the lines of, for example, a ‘Jean-Paul Gaultier by Longines timepiece’.
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Von Kaenel opened his workshops to Rodolphe, giving him carte blanche and three months to come back with everything—the collection, the prototypes and a communication plan. When asked in the workshops what to write on the dials of the prototypes, the young designer did not know what to say, so merely answered, “just put, Rodolphe”. When the collection was ready, it was presented in a global seminar by Longines that brought together the brand’s international representatives in Hong Kong. The response was enthusiastic and when it came to naming this new collection, everyone insisted on “Rodolphe by Longines”. Launched immediately, this adventure would last eight years, with approximately 60,000 watches sold per year.
First steps towards independence Following this success, Rodolphe began receiving requests from all over the world for his services, but he could not accept since he was under contract to Longines. Walter von Kaenel understood, however, and gave the young designer what he wanted—his independence while also continuing to work for Longines. Rodolphe thus opened his own design studio, working 50 per cent for the Swatch Group and 50 per cent for other brands, which offered no direct competition. But, little by little, the situation began to deteriorate. Apparently, Nicolas Hayek was somewhat irritated by the success of ‘Rodolphe by Longines’. In parallel, but without a direct cause and effect, Hayek took over the distribution of his brands in Italy, managed by Marcello Binda, a close friend of the designer. Left with only his single brand, Breil, Binda asked Rodolphe to help him relaunch the Binda brand with the aid of his design studio. It was an enormous success, but one that offended Hayek, who summoned Rodolphe to his office. Expecting to be sharply rebuked, the designer was stupefied by what happened—Hayek actually asked him to repeat what he had done for Binda, but this time, do it for Omega. The ‘deal’ was destined not to be, however, because Walter von Kaenel’s verbal agreement with
each cost. Then Hayek offered a good price to purchase Rodolphe’s trademarked name, his design studio, his employees, basically everything. It was a ‘take it or leave it’ proposition and Rodolphe had only the weekend to make a decision. Hesitating and not being able to sleep, he chose, at the end of the night, his liberty. Hayek angrily declared that Rodolphe was now the ‘enemy’ and that, in his opinion, he no longer existed. Hayek made the breakup official with a press release but the result was totally unexpected. Rodolphe was flooded with offers of work.
From Rodolphe by Rodolphe to Rodolphe by Franck Müller
Rodolphe precluded working for competitor brands, including Omega, even if both Omega and Longines belonged to the same group. Three months later, Hayek again summoned Rodolphe to his office. In a new surprise, the head of the Swatch Group closely questioned him, calculator in hand, about each job and
Two years later, in 1996, in parallel with his flourishing activities as a designer carried out with his associate, Gabriel Guidi, Rodolphe decided to create his own watch brand under his own first name. He took the plunge with a childhood friend, Denis Bolzli, then owner of Louis Erard. They had a strong design strategy, daring to create new collections every 18 months, and a goal of carving out a distinct and recognizable niche in the mid-range sector.
50 CASE STUDY europa star
that he was a true professional. The two men agreed on the same strategy, which was to propose an original mix of design and haute horlogerie, offering something characteristic and distinctive, and working only with the watchmaking network in the Jura region. Their agreement was signed on 22 March 2005. Sirmakes took 51 per cent ownership of all the companies that had ‘Rodolphe’ in their name: Rodolphe & Co (the watches) and Rodolphe Montres & Bijoux (the design).
The winds of recession
In Switzerland at that time, though, the focus was on intricate mechanical timekeeping. It was the era that saw the creation of the first Opus timepieces by Harry Winston and the spotlight turned towards watchmaking’s rediscovered ‘new mechanical frontiers’. A general move upmarket followed. In 2004, Rodolphe moved upmarket, in turn, with a new partner, Jacky Epitaux, ex- Zenith, a man (now at the head of Rudis Sylva) who came from the same region as Rodolphe. The two men already had the idea of working only with a network of local suppliers and equipping their watches with ETA based movements transformed by Dubois-Dépraz.The watch’s average price would be around CHF 3,000. The announcement by the Swatch Group of gradually stopping delivery of ETA movement kits put a damper on their long-term vision. So what to do? Move to quartz? Stop everything? Or find an industrial partner, a manufacturer to work with? Rodolphe met with all the prospective brands at the time. They all were, according to his criteria, able to offer a quality movement.They also were reasonably integrated manufacturers, thus capable of ensuring strong distribution and hav-
ing ‘something charismatic’, like Rodolphe himself. In the end, he met with Vartan Sirmakes, in charge of the Franck Müller group. Rodolphe was wary of his interlocutor, whose reputation left a lot to be desired, and who was reproached by many for a multitude of things. The designer expressed his reservations, offering precise examples of problems that involved suppliers notably in the Jura region. But Vartan Sirmakes had an answer for everything and provided solid arguments for his own side. And, Rodolphe felt
During two and a half years, everything worked fine. “It was the grande classe,” as Rodolphe liked to say. The designs were validated, the prototypes also, the collections were manufactured, the offices were ready (as well as a successful bar named Rodolphe that was opened in Neuchâtel), and the orders started flowing in. The only thing left was to deliver the watches. But then, nothing happened. It must be said that, in between time, the first winds of the recession began to appear, blowing particularly early and violent over Watchland in Genthod, near Geneva.To weather the tempest, it was the flagship brand that had to be saved above all, so Vartan Sirmakes announced that all the other brands would be put on hold. In Geneva and in the canton of Vaud, 200 people out of 428 were laid off. All the others were called together to focus on the Franck Müller flagship that was beginning to take on water. On top of all this, Rodolphe, who harboured a certain bitterness about the situation, had serious differences with his partner Gabriel Guidi. The two men no longer got along at all. In October 2009, Rodolphe decided to keep his 35 per cent share of the company, but to quit, leaving his former friend in charge of the brand. He quit all the operational functions within the group and thus, once again, obtained his freedom.
Adding a last name to the first name But what was he going to do with his newfound liberty? He pondered the question and,
by his own admission, the watchmaker became depressed. He then left for Brittany in France, a region that he loved—a little like the Jura on the ocean—where he had time to think. Upon his return to Neuchâtel, he created a design studio called Rodolphe Design SA, with a small group of five or six people, not more. In January 2010, after the relaunch of his design business, Rodolphe went to the SIHH with a friend, Thomas Müller, who was not from the local area. Müller sold tropical wood before becoming impassioned with watchmaking. He joined Aquanautic, then became responsible for sales at Bertolucci before return-
All of them said the same thing, “With the crisis also comes opportunity”. But what did the markets need, what were they asking for? On that point, too, everyone agreed. “What the market wanted were real and beautiful ladies’ watches, and for men, not divers’ watches (as there were already too many on the market), nor copies of Patek Philippe or Vacheron Constantin because of the importance of authenticity, especially today. What was needed was something new, of course, but something that made sense… and something elegant.” In terms of price, the markets also demanded “an end to the so-often seen WITNESS
ing to Aquanautic, but this time as the brand’s CEO. When he left Aquanautic, he had an idea for a brand that would be closely tied to the region, in Chaux-deFonds—a ‘manufacture’ in the old style, in other words, using a solid network made up of complementary suppliers and associates. This idea was not displeasing to Rodolphe. Together, at the SIHH, the two men met with a number of agents from around the world that they had known for a long time.
discrepancies between the price and the product. The actual price was not so important since today prices are all over the map. But there was a condition—the price had to be correct in relation to the product.” The two men agreed on the project, finalized their partnership, and created others over the long term with the movement designer and manufacturer, Concepto, with a case maker, and an assembler, all local to the region.They organized their company’s capital (Rodolphe main-
CASE STUDY 51
tains the majority) and created the Manufacture Rodolphe Cattin SA. The first watches have just been revealed.
Balls and drops Rodolphe went to work at his drawing board, visualizing purity, softness, a lack of ostentation and a restrained size. Beginning with the feminine timepiece, he designed his remarkable first model—a curved watch, playing on its lines like a pebble, ending by little balls integrated into the case, balls in which were inserted the bracelet and which offered a thousand decorative varieties based on their material, their type of polishing and their stone setting. On the masculine side, these balls transform into elongated drops using the horns, giving the piece a soft vigour and a calm avant-gardism, if we can describe it thusly. Watches in steel, pink gold, or black PVD with a variety of mother-ofpearl dials range from CHF 2,000 for a steel ladies’ watch to CHF 3,000 for a men’s automatic, or even CHF 5,000 for a chronograph. From the beginning, however, Rodolphe Cattin has also offered a higher level of timekeepers consisting of tubular skeletonized tourbillons or displays using discs, designed in collaboration with the ‘motorist’ Concepto, as well as minute repeaters and other complications already in the pipeline. In the realm of the jewellery watch, the brand proposes remarkable designs set with diamonds, precious stones and pearls. The goal for the first year is to produce 1,000 watches, later reaching 5,000. Some of the markets that had advised the brand in the beginning are now open and waiting for their deliveries, as is the entire Middle East, whether Qatar, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Oman or Saudi Arabia, as well as Russia. Discussions are well underway in China with two different groups and the hour of decision is not far off.As for the other markets, the Manufacture Rodolphe Cattin expects to open them soon with a new first and last name.They say that cats have nine lives. Rodolphe is now on his fifth. O For more information about Rodolphe click on Brand Index at www.europastar.com
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WATCHES FOR REAL MEN The word on the street has been that the time for big watches is over and thin, elegant and small is in. Not so fast, say many brands who are succeeding well with larger watches.
RKeith W. Strandberg
As a result of the economic crisis, many watch brands have revisited their collections and refocused on traditional values – elegant, timeless, traditional timepieces that are thinner and smaller. However, that doesn’t mean that big watches are depassé. In fact, big watches are alive and well and selling strongly – as long as they are big for a reason.
BIG FOR A REASON The bigger watches that are succeeding are big for a reason – sports watches with great features, watches with incredible complications or watches with high water resistance, for example. Audemars Piguet introduced the new Royal Oak Offshore dedicated to Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Legacy (48mm). “A brand has to stick to its values and to what it believes in,” explains Octavia Garcia, Designer, Audemars Piguet. “We’ve been established in big watches since 1992 with the Royal Oak Offshore. It’s always been part of the way we develop things. It’s not about what’s in and what’s not, it’s about who we are. And these are still selling. “The Legacy is really a powerful watch,” Garcia continues. “The basis of this piece is the T3. We have been playing around with ceramics and we thought this piece was appropriate for a full ceramic body, as it’s light but really robust.
MEMOVOX TRIBUTE TO DEEP SEA by Jaeger-LeCoultre – Ø 40.5mm
THE LEGACY by Audemars Piguet – Ø 48mm
LUMINOR SUBMERSIBLE 1950 3 DAYS AUTOMATIC BRONZO by Panerai – Ø 47mm
TWENTY-8-EIGHT REGULATOR by DeWitt – Ø 46mm
not stopped buying these watches. Our Academia line is a very Dewitt line, big, bold and strongly styled.” Franck Muller was one of the first brands to capitalize on the larger watch trend. “Franck Muller watches have always been about design,” says Ron Jackson, President, Franck Muller North America. “We are succeeding with design watches. We’re not doing well because we have big watches, we are succeeding because we have design watches that feature great shapes and interesting complications.”
BIG FUTURE We wanted it to be ﬁnished like our steel pieces, which are polished and sandblasted, but ceramic is seven times harder than steel, so it was a real challenge.” DeWitt has seen no downturn in interest in bolder timepieces. “The very, very large and heavy-in-look watches are of less interest, because they were like prototypes almost,” acknowledges Jerome de Witt of DeWitt. “We can’t continue to make watches that are too large. Our 46mm watch isn’t too large, they are still in very high demand. People have
Big watches are not dead, in fact, they are still selling strongly. Today’s normal sized watches, 42mm – 45mm, would have been considered oversized ten years ago. Sure, the 50+mm watches are losing steam, but large, impressive, bold watches are still quite popular. “Being a global brand, successful across the world, it’s logical that TAG Heuer needs both large and small watches,” says Jean-Christophe Babin, President, and CEO, TAG Heuer. “44mm is our biggest watch. We never went to 48mm
DUALTOW NIGHT EAGLE by Christophe Claret 32.60 x 40 x 10.70mm
LON GIGA TOURBILLON mm by Franck Muller – 41.40 x 34.40mm
AQUARACER 500M by TAG Heuer – Ø 43mm
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SR-71 BLACKBIRD by Luminox – Ø 44mm
PUZZLE by Ritmo Mundo – 34 x 48mm
because it’s not serious. We have a duty to be timeless and a 48mm timepiece will never be an every day watch.”
BIG AND BOLD Truth be told, big for big’s sake is pretty much over, aside from a few notable brands. U-Boat was one of the leaders of the big watch trend and they continue being oversized and bold. Ritmo Mundo has recently introduced a few watches, like the Persepolis Dual Time and the Puzzle, that are big yet very interesting.
RM027 by Richard Mille – 48 x 39.70 x 11.85mm
Makers of technical sports watches, like Reactor and Luminox, have seen no downturn in sales of their larger watches. In fact, as customers demand more performance, more water resistance, more shock absorbance, these watches have to be bigger to accommodate these features. “I think it is just beginning, because big and bold makes a statement and better manufacturers put more quality into their sport watches so they stand up better against shock and an active lifestyle,” says Jimmy Olmes, President of Reactor. With this being said I do believe that watches have to be wearable -- once you
get over 50mm they tend not to be very comfortable, especially when you have a 50+mm case with a large crown on the traditional right hand side.” Bigger watches also fit more people’s lifestyles, as the trend around the world is to dress casually most of the time. “We've witnessed an obvious trend towards a more casual lifestyle that is clearly demonstrated in the attire people wear for work these days
POSEIDON by Reactor – Ø 48mm
OTTANA TOURBILLON by Bovet – Ø 46mm
versus some 25 - 30 years back,” says Barry Cohen, President, Luminox. “Suits have almost become the exception.As a result, watches have moved towards a larger more robust casual watch style.This casual sport watch trend gained steam until it became very much the norm. But today we've even seen way oversize watches become so common that the average wearer began to wear larger and larger watches too. The very oversized watch remains for me a bit of a mystery as it is so large that it is rather cumbersome and uncomfortable. But people can be slaves to fashion, and so this look is still seen today.” Certainly, the big just to be big watches are less popular today. “While the monster-sized 49mm to 60 mm level has reached the point of ridiculousness, we still see a favourable activity in the 42mm to 46 mm sizes,” says Jeffrey Hess, President, Ball Watches. “One of our surprise hits this year has been our entry level Fireman Racer at a mere 40mm. One of our biggest sellers has been our cornerstone Engineer Hydrocarbon series, which is indeed a bigger
bulkier watch. There is a market for taller, thicker watches, although our second biggest seller is the Engineer Hydrocarbon Magnate, a slimmed down version.” From a retailer’s standpoint, it only makes sense to have a selection of sizes so that customers can choose what they want. And in today’s world, with watch wardrobing and multiple watch purchases, sometimes during the same retailer visit, having big and small, thick and thin, is the right way to go. O
ENGINEER HYDROCARBON MAGNATE GMT by Ball Watch – Ø 40mm
PREDATOR CHRONO 24H by Rebellion – Ø 48mm
PERSHING 002 CHRONOGRAPH by Parmigiani Fleurier – Ø 42mm
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Postcard from Glashütte RKeith W. Strandberg
Celebrating 20 years, for many brands, isn’t such an incredible achievement, with some companies having hundreds of years of history. For A. Lange & Söhne, however, it’s a milestone definitely worth celebrating. After hearing the challenges this famous German brand has gone through, you wouldn’t blame Walter Lange and his colleagues if they celebrated every day of the year. Consider this: on May 8, 1945, the last day of World War II, Russian fighter-bombers dropped their payloads on his hometown of Glashütte, about 250 km south of Berlin, in an attempt to
hit a retreating German Panzer division. The bombs blew up most of the hamlet, including the main watchmaking facility of his family’s business, A. Lange & Söhne, which specialized in highly technical marine chronometers and high-end pocket watches with signature German silver three quarter plates, proprietary Glashütte lever escapements (for better time regulation), and high complications (minute repeaters, perpetual calendars, split second chronographs and more). Then, in March 1946, even though the Lange family had never been affiliated with the Nazi party and had done nothing more than make watches during the war, the factory and all the Lange’s possessions were seized via Denazification Order 124. This decree was luckily overturned and revoked one month later, but the worst was yet to come for Walter Lange. Two years later, on April 20, 1948, the new regional authority seized the factory and all its assets once again, meaning the business that had been founded and operated by the Lange family since its establishment in 1845 was now in the hands of the East German government. At the time, Walter Lange was working in the company repair shop, but once new management assumed control, he refused to answer to them — for which he was sentenced to toil in the uranium mines. Lange instead managed to flee the country and settle in Pforzheim, West Germany, another centre of German watchmaking, where he assumed he’d never see his ancestral watchmaking company, or Glashütte, again, so he went to work in watch distribution for other companies.
Surprisingly, after all that conflict, Lange is actually thankful to the East German government for not destroying the A. Lange & Söhne name. After the Post-communist take-over, the company was called the People’s Own Factory (VEB) A. Lange & Söhne, then Mechanik Lange & Söhne VEB, and then in 1951, it was merged with several other area institutions to form Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe (GUB). The East Germans continued to make higher-end mechanical watches until the quartz revolution in the early 1980s, when production switched to inexpensive quartz watches, more than one million a year at their height.“By then, the name was no longer used and, fortunately, never misused, for which I shall remain eternally grateful to the GUB,” Lange, who will turn 87 in July of 2011, says, incredibly, unable to hold a grudge. More incredible still has been the rebirth of A. Lange & Söhne. When the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, Lange saw some hope of reviving his family's watchmaking legacy. He secured financial backing with the essential help of watch industry veteran Günther Blümlein, then went back to Glashütte, found a core group of watchmakers (who still had boxes of vintage Lange movements and parts), and set about restarting the old company. On December 7, 1990, 145 years to the day after his great grandfather Ferdinand Adolph Lange launched the original A. Lange & Söhne, Walter Lange registered the resurrected brand, Lange Uhren GmbH. Not long after, Lange bought back his family's buildings, including the original A. Lange & Söhne headquarters, where the company is once again based. On December 7, 2010, A. Lange & Söhne, no longer family-owned but part of the Richemont Group, held a grand party to celebrate its 20th Anniversary as the reborn company. It was held
in the Palace in Dresden and offered a chance to look back on the history of the company and toast its bright future. New company CEO Wilhelm Schmid, was also introduced. Schmid, 47, comes from BMW Automabiles. It’s truly incredible that Lange still remains one of the few watch companies able to make the majority of the critical parts it uses, including all of the three quarter plates and bridges (out of German silver, more aesthetically pleasing but much harder to work than other materials) and its own balance springs, a huge achievement in watchmaking. “In a sense, I think I was brave and courageous at the time, because we were starting from nothing, and it was a real risk,” says Walter Lange. “In any case, I started something new and Glashütte again became a centre of fine watchmaking. The mayor of Glashütte once told me that if we hadn’t have succeeded, you could have turned off the lights in the town.
“I didn’t know at all how it would turn out,” he continues. “In 1994, when the first watches were ready and shown to 12 retailers, they started to applaud, and we knew it could work. It was a real relief to hear them clapping. If the next 20 years of Lange are as good as the first 20 years, we will be in fantastic shape.” Anthony de Haaf is the Director of Product Development for A. Lange & Söhne, and he is impressed at what the company has been able to do. “I have been here for six years and
Anthony de Haaf
POST CARD 57
the company has developed in an amazing way,” he says. “It’s been such a success story. We have developed more than 30 movements and we have built up the brand into such a position, it’s like a dream. There are still a lot of things to do. The goal is that we want to be one of the big brands, like Patek Philippe, Vacheron and others. There are still lots of great watches to develop. We have to work hard to keep it this way. To hunt is hard, but when you are at the top, you become the hunted, which is even harder.” Walter Lange, Haaf and the rest of the team in Glashütte and around the world are committed to keeping the tradition of Lange alive and well. “The intent has always been to be one of the best watch companies in the world,” Haaf says. “Making the best watches in the world is our goal, which may sound arrogant, but it’s been our target from the beginning. Lange is Lange and it stands for something, which is an achievement. People buy Lange watches because they are Lange watches, and we have to take care of this and protect it.” Having survived Russian bombs, homeland division, and a communist take-over, A. Lange & Söhne is here to stay. Congratulations to Lange on 20 years and we here at Europa Star hope that the company celebrates many more anniversaries. O For more information, please visit www.langewatches.com
ADVERTISER’S SPOTLIGHT europa star
The King of Cool THE WATCHES ICE-WATCH® ARE LIVING THE HIGHLIFE WITH SALES THAT HAVE BEATEN ALL RECORDS AND FANS THAT INCLUDE THE FAMOUS BLACK EYED PEAS. BUT ALL THE ATTENTION HASN’T GONE TO THEIR HEADS AS THEY TAKE TIME OUT TO THINK ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES AND CHILDREN IN NEED.
The Black Eyed Peas Six-time Grammy award-winning, multi-platinum recording artists, The Black Eyed Peas have announced that they will release a brand-new album, entitled The Beginning, on November 30th, 2010, on Interscope Records. The Black Eyed Peas’ sixth album, The Beginning is the follow-up to the group’s blockbuster CD The E.N.D. Released in June 2009, The E.N.D. has sold more than 11 million copies worldwide, while spending 52 weeks on the Billboard Top 200 chart. The Black Eyed Peas have shot a video for “The Time (Dirty Bit),” first extract of the new album, with director Rich Lee, who also directed the Peas’ “Imma Be Rocking That Body” video, as well as clips for Eminem, The All-American Rejects, Fergie and the Pussycat Dolls. The watches Ice-Watch® collaborated with the superstar group «The Black Eyed Peas» by placing a watch “Sili White” in the new music video of the group. The Black Eyed Peas are massive global pop stars whose music can be heard in any country around the world. Their unique combination of electro rhythms, dance, soul, funk and hip hop has won them legions of fans worldwide and has seduced Mr. Jean-Pierre Lutgen.
The watches Ice-Watch® have joinedd the many n Make-A-Wish® Make-A-Wi W sh® contributors who make seriously ill children’s wishes come true around the world. To achieve this, the watches Ice-Watch® have joined the Belgian initiative of T ac Make-A-Wish South Belgium with a real desire to participate also in the Mak global glob effort to obtain donations to help children around the world by creating a watch MAKE-A-WISH® by Ice-Watch® with the full price of cr 99 € being dedicated to the association. Your donation to Make-A-WISH® will make a difference and support the watches Ice-Watch® in their global efforts at www.makeawishsud.be
We Forest The watches Ice-Watch® make their contribution to reforestation in Ethiopa with WeForest®. The name “Ice-Watch®” itself demonstrates the concern of Mr. Jean-Pierre Lutgen about unseasonal ice-melting and in particular its concern for the preservation of the environment. With this in mind, the watches Ice-Watch® have joined together with the many other donors throughout the world of the international association WeForest® which is committed to slowing down climate change. The watches Ice-Watch® have chosen to make their contribution in Ethiopia, with an investment in the immediate planting of 10,000 trees. If you would also like to take part in this movement and become a part of the watches Ice-Watch®’s gesture, all you have to do is buy an Ice-Watch® WeForest® watch at a price of €99 from the website www.weforest.org. All proceeds from the sale go directly to the Association.
ADVERTISER’S SpoTlIghT europa star
Post-80s artists sponsored by TITONI Ltd. return to China A SYMBIOSIS BETWEEN THE SWISS ART OF WATCH MAKING AND CHINESE CONTEMPORARY ART
RMatthias Messmer urope’s economy might not compete with China’s double-digit growth figures, but it still comes with a diversity of cultures that attracts thousands of Chinese every year. Whether it is the magic of the Louvre Museum in Paris, the charm of the Baroque-styled palaces of the Belvedere Museum in Vienna or “just” the exceptional atmosphere of strolling through the medieval old town of Prague – for any Chinese interested in art history, these glimpses of the European continent are still an adventure.
Paris, Prague, Rome and Vienna to gain as much experience of foreign cultures as possible. On their own micro blogs, they shared their impressions and insights with friends and netizens, not only about living conditions and studying in foreign surroundings, but also on their visits to other places. The studios of the ZHdK seemed to be especially exotic for them because they – besides their usual function – offer space for basic living facilities such as cooking or even a place to sleep. “Compared to Chongqing, the working place is very clean, and there was even heating,” one of the artists told us excitedly. Sometimes, a professor from the ZhdK would come to the studios and discuss the progress of their work with them.
A Journey to the West It was a similar striking “journey to the West” for three up-and-coming young artists from Chongqing. Kang Can, Liu Fei and Tian Miao, three post-80s artists from the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, received a sponsorship from the famous Swiss watch company Titoni Ltd., and set off in the autumn of 2010 for a one-semester study period at the Zurich University of Arts (ZHdK). Titoni Ltd. provided them with a flat in a small village on Lake Zurich from where they commuted daily to their studios provided by the ZHdK. “We had such a great time in Switzerland,” explained the artists when we visited them at their studios located in a district of Zurich that was once an industrial area with many factories, and is now becoming a venue for the creative industry, artists and galleries.
During one weekend, Daniel Schluep, CEO of Titoni Ltd., invited the three artists to his private house near Biel, where they gained some insights into a family’s life in Switzerland, and where they, as joyfully expressed to us even a long time afterwards, indulged in eating a chocolate cake especially prepared for them by Daniel’s wife Doris. Another surprise came in the form of their Chinese teacher, the famous painter and art critic Zhang Qikai, who, during a trip to Berlin, traveled especially to Switzerland for two days: Not only to meet his students in Zurich, but also to see Daniel Schluep (with whom he cooperated in designing the first Titoni Artist Watch in 2010) during his private holidays in the Swiss Alps.
“Located in the center of Europe as well as being a comparatively big city in a neutral country, and at the same time a safe place for residents and travelers alike, Zurich was the most suitable place for us to stay,” said the artists. It was not only the perfect location in Switzerland for these young Chinese artists to live and work, but also to discover other parts of Europe: During their free time, they traveled to Amsterdam, Berlin,
Artistic and personal benefits Thanks to the international environment of the university, exchanges with young artists from all over the world and the free, inspiring atmosphere of Zurich, the Chinese artists benefited immensely from this stay, both artistically as well as personally. “We have never had the chance to appreciate so many original works from the great European masters. To
Grand master works and charming countryside
see them with our own eyes was a very intensive experience of emotions and inspirations,” said the three artists, who enjoyed extensive journeys on the European continent besides the academic exchange. Kang Can, a witted-faced and fashionably-styled artist who likes to demonstrate China’s one-child policy with good modern humor, recounted how the study period has broadened his understanding of art history and opened a new world for his artistic development. “Being face-to-face with those classic master pieces was very unique and impressive. There is something in them that simply stimulates.” In addition to their museum visits (luckily they were just in time for the big Picasso exhibition at the Kunsthaus in Zurich), the university was another venue that offered inspiration. “Our classmates were from various fields and had not necessarily received art education before. A situation like this is totally unimaginable in China. Their open-minded thinking and creative work formats opened a door in art experimentation for me,” remarked the confident and thoughtful female artist, Liu Fei, who often surprises audiences with scrupulously painted mechanical details. Another big difference between her home and the West lies in the fact that artists in Switzerland obviously follow the concept of “l’art pour l’art,” whereas in her country the artist is usually much more businessdriven. “We have also benefited immensely from the free and good atmosphere at the Zurich University of Arts insofar as they put great emphasis on discussions and exchanges of opinion, whereas in China initiatives by students or active participation are much less of a topic,” concluded Liu Fei after her stay in Switzerland.
Still, the grand master works in the museums and the free learning environment of the Zurich Art University are not the only things that nourish, as the youngest of all three artists, Tian Miao, remarked about her learning. “I traveled alone by train to many unheard of Swiss villages and towns. I strolled around and let myself be captivated by the overwhelmingly different people, places and atmospheres. It was absolutely enchanting,” she said, her eyes brightening with amazement in her typical shy smile. When looking at her creation of the various small paintings produced during her stay, one can see the impressions and feelings left on her mind. Daniel Schluep and his Titoni Ltd. are very happy to have developed the initiative of sponsoring young Chinese artists studying in Switzerland. “Like the well-known Swiss spirits, Titoni Ltd. pays attention to good tradition, precision and dares to set new borders. It is thus our pleasure to have these Chinese artists in the booming city of Zurich where many important modern art activities have taken place, such as for instance the Dada movement during World War I. I am very curious to see what inspirations this experience has brought to them.” The artists will produce three new works, based on the concept of “Time” with ideas derived from their study period, after their return to China. “In addition, I also want to express my thanks to the Zurich University of Arts. This form of cooperation with an academic institution is totally new for us, but their readiness and efficiency are really convincing. Titoni Ltd. would like to see such a scholarship program for young artists become a house tradition”. Mr. Schluep also expressed his appreciation to the academic partner and his warm attitudes toward young and promising artists.
62 RETAILER PROFILE europa star
Simonetta Orsini – Time in Buenos Aires Buenos Aires, Argentina is a bustling city that attracts travellers and tourists from all over the world, including other countries in South America. While there for a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso event, Keith Strandberg visited with arguably the best retailer in Argentina, Martin De Leeuw of Simonetta Orsini (Posadas 1101, Buenos Aires, Argentina).
RKeith W. Strandberg
Simonetta Orsini is located on a busy street in a beautifully designed building that mixes old and new. De Leeuw himself is the fifth generation of his family in jewellery retail and he decided to add watches. “My grandfather had a jewellery store on Place Vendôme in Paris and during the Second World War, he moved here and opened up this business,” De Leeuw details. “I wanted to be in watches. I created this watch store, Simonetta Orsini, and we now have five stores - four normal stores and the big one here in Buenos Aires. “Watches, for men, are our toys, and watches were my toys when I was a kid,” he continues. “It was something that I used to play with – set, assemble, disassemble. 15 years ago, I started to add watch brands to our mix of jewellery. Today, we have 26 brands. We have focused on building up the business here in
Martin De Leeuw
South America. In the past, people didn’t buy watches here, they went to America or Europe, but now everyone from South America comes to Argentina to buy watches.” In addition to his five stores, De Leeuw has boutiques with IWC, Panerai and Jaeger-LeCoultre. ES: How is Business? MDL: These past few years, business has been great. Every year we are growing and South America in general is really growing. We made it through the crisis without losing much and we are coming out strongly. We don’t have credit problems here, we have our own investors. After the crisis, people got scared and they brought their money back
to Argentina, so they have it here to spend. Cartier is number one for us, and Audemars Piguet, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin are also very good, they rotate in position. We do very well with Richard Mille, also. Some brands really suffered during the crisis - the crisis was like a filter, and we kept the best. The only brand that I don’t have that I really want is Patek Philippe. My favourite brand is Panerai. I have about 30 Panerais myself. Today, if I have to pick one watch as my favourite, I would have to say the Duometer from Jaeger-LeCoultre. I wear it very often, it works perfectly. ES: What do you like about watches? MDL: At the beginning, when I was a kid, I liked the movement and the mechanism. I didn’t care much about the aesthetics. Today, it’s a combination of movement, aesthetics and investment value. I don’t buy a watch that I don’t think will increase in value. Of the pieces I collect, most of them increase in value every couple of years. I look at watches as an investment, and I sell watches this way.
ES: What is your biggest challenge? MDL: Today, my biggest challenge is that we are trying to keep the level where we are. We are very close to the top of the top here. We want to be here for a long time and in order to do that, we have to present to our customers something new all the time. Last year, we introduced Greubel Forsey and F. P. Journe. People are thirsty and want to see new things. It’s not easy to be here for the long term. ES: Is it difficult working with the watch brands? MDL: The brands are not the same.They are all Swiss, but they all work differently. Some like you, some think they are better than you, some brands make you feel like you are nothing.They know who we are and what we can do, but the treatment we get could sometimes be better. ES: How do you do training? MDL: The brands come here to train us, we send salesmen to Switzerland as well, and we have watchmakers here that can fix any watch we sell. We get spare parts and we are authorized to do service. For our salespeople, we send them to seminars all the time, I do my own sales training as well. We have 80 people in total. ES: How does the future look? MDL: I see a great future in watches.Today, luxury is more accessible. Everyone has the money to buy a good pair of shoes or a nice watch. A
RETAILER PROFILE 63
watch is accessible luxury. Every human being has something related to luxury: good food, a nice trip, a good watch. 25 years ago, it was different, people didn’t have the same access. ES: Who are your customers? MDL: My customers are 90 per cent local, which also includes Brazilians. There are many collectors who come here because they don’t have good retailers in Brazil, but what they do have is a lot of money right now. We are lucky that people come to Argentina from all over South America to buy watches here. We have thought about opening up stores in other countries, but if the store isn’t managed on a daily basis by the owner in South America, you don’t sell. People come by and ask for me and if I am not there, they say they will come back. ES: Is security a concern in Buenos Aires? MDL: Security is a real issue here. I need my people and my customers to be safe. We have bodyguards in every store and cameras and security devices. We were robbed many years ago. We have been increasing security every year. Every store we have, the door is locked, but people are used to it. As soon as they come in, they feel safe. ES: Will you be going to the shows and looking for new brands this year?
MDL: I go to SIHH and BaselWorld every year. We don’t have the time to look for new brands while we are there, because we carry so many brands. We don’t want to add any new brands. Although, there is always some brand that tempts us and that we want to buy. I hope that doesn’t happen this year! O For more info, please visit www.simonettaorsini.com
64 WORLDWATCHWEB europa star.com
Retailers in the digital era Like the brands that promote and sell watches, most retailers also have a place in cyberspace. This digital presence reflects the inevitable evolution in the behaviour of watch buyers and, as a consequence, that of retailers.
RMarc-Olivier Peyer, IC-Agency, in collaboration with Europa Star
Desperately seeking prices The buyer will then click on the ‘Store Locator’ section of the official watch site, looking for stores that are near to him. He will then contact the store to find the cost of that special timekeeper that fills his dreams since he discovered it on the web. With increasing frequency, retailers are receiving emails from prospective buyers inquiring about the prices of the models they sell.
The price is obviously not the only concern of the online buyer. He will also consult various blogs and chat rooms, such as Timezone, where watch aficionados share their experiences and offer lots of informed advice to the buyer, whose heart waivers between two complications. The recommendations offered on these communal sites can also influence the choice of retailer and make or break a store’s reputation. The buying experience, whether abominable or excellent, may become the subject of conversations in focused chat rooms and may even end up on sites such as Yelp or various social networks, depending on the location of its members, such as Foursquare. This results in a public evaluation of the quality of the welcome and the service offered by the retailer. Internet, the best enemy of the retailer? Armed with all the information and opinions that he could glean online, the buyer that crosses the threshold of a retail store is often better informed than he was in the past. He is also more demanding in terms of quality of service and the advice he expects from the salesperson. His better understanding of the products also gives him the advantage of being in a better position to negotiate the price. Sometimes, the watch purchaser goes to a store only when he cannot do something online such as touching the product, holding it in Photo: Wempe
The Internet plays an increasingly important role today in the purchase of a watch. As Danny Govberg, President of Govberg Jewelers, stated in the 2010 edition of the WorldWatchReport study, edited by IC-Agency, “more than 70 per cent of clients do research online before coming through the doors of our store.” Generally, potential buyers begin by clicking on a search engine, where they type in the name of the brand, the collection, or the model they are considering for purchase. The searches will lead them to the brand’s official site, where they can consult detailed descriptions and photos of each product of interest. Many watch aficionados, however, will be tempted to purchase their dream timepiece each time they turn the page of a catalogue. To narrow down their search, they will look at the price of the models as a more rational criteria of choice. Yet, unfortunately for them, the great majority of official sites don’t list the prices of their watches.
BASELWORLD THE WATCH AND JEWELLERY SHOW MARCH 24 – 31, 201 1
Photo: Hamilton & Inches
Cyberspace, the land of opportunity for retailers Most retailers today have a website, where they generally present photos of their store, its location, the list of brands they sell, and their contact information. These elements are still not, however, enough to guarantee the necessary visibility on the Internet to meet the expectations of their clientele. The website is an ideal platform to promote various types of services, such as having the prospective purchaser make an appointment with a salesperson, chatting with the buyer online, signing up potential clients for exclusive store events, and listing guarantee information and after-sales service benefits. Maier, a retailer located in Lyon, France, carries several brands including Baume & Mercier, Blancpain, Omega, Rolex, and IWC. On their website, they display the prices of watches and offer the buyer the possibility of ordering certain models online. Beyond the website of the store, the Internet also offers retailers the opportunity to multiply their points of contact with their clientele, such as being visible in the search engines and online map sites, which is useful when the Internet users are looking for stores in their area. They can also create a Facebook page to have discussions with the store’s clients, start a blog, email a newsletter, and have a presence on sites such as Twitter, Youtube, etc.
his hand, comparing it to other products, and trying it on. Then, he will return to the Internet to buy it for a better price or better conditions. For retailers, then, the competition may come directly from those brands that sell online directly to the final consumer. Confronted with the changes in behaviour of their clientele, retailers must adapt. They must develop new types of services with added value. The Internet can, in fact, help them to do this.
All these various opportunities merit an evaluation, but the best way for a retailer to guarantee his visibility on the Internet is to ensure that his site is clearly listed in the ‘Store Locator’ section of the official site of the brands he sells. The WorldWatchReport study shows that of all the Internet users who look for watch products online, less than 2 per cent will specifically research the stores or the sales points that sell them. Online sales can also represent an opportunity for retailers to strengthen their partnership with the brands. Last year, for example, TAG Heuer opened an online store with the Parisian retailer, Bry & Cie. Even if behaviours have changed and one part of the relationship with the client has evaporated today, there are still sure values that persist, including: a retailer’s warm welcome; his passion for watches; sharing his clients’ joy when they purchase their dream watch; and irreproachable quality service. The retailers that take these values to heart will certainly benefit from the virtual wordof-mouth amplifier. O
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Editorial & Advertisers’ index
B Ball Watches 55 BaselWorld 65 Baume & Mercier 20, 38, 42, 66 Blancpain 66 Bovet 16, 55 Breguet 16 C Carl F. Bucherer 7 Cartier 22, 24, 38, 41 Century 11, 44-45 Chanel COVER II-1 (Intl) 4-5 (Eur) China Watch & Clock Fair 69 Christophe Claret 16, 30, 53 CIJ International Jewellery 67 Citizen 35 Concepto 51 Corum 16 Cousins Global 70 Cyrus 32, 34 D Damoiselle D 41 De Bethune 29, 30 deLaCour 16 DeLaneau 16, 39, 40, 42
DeWitt 53 Dubois-Dépraz 50 E Emile Chouriet COVER III (Eur) ETA 50 F Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie 33 Franck Müller Group 16, 48, 49, 50, 53 François-Paul Journe 63 Frédéric Jouvenot 30 G Girard-Perregaux 24, 25 Greubel & Forsey 28, 29, 63 Guess 31 H Harry Winston 50 HD3 34 Heritage Watch Manufactory 30, 32 Hublot 16
I IC-Agency 64, 66 IceLink 58- 59 IWC 14, 18, 20, 21, 62, 66 J Jaquet Droz 16. 52 Jaeger-LeCoultre Special supplement, 14, 15, 20, 24, 42, 62, 72 Jean Dunand 16, 30 Jean-Mairet & Gillman 19 JeanRichard 25, 40 L Laurent Ferrier 30 Longines 48, 49, 72 Louis Erard 49 Louis Moinet 32 Luminox 54, 55 M Manufacture Rodolphe Cattin 48-51 Milus 8-9 Mira 36 - 37
O Omega 49, 66 Orient Watch Company 43 P Panerai 52, 62, 72 Parmigiani 24, 25, 55 Patek Philippe 51, 62 Pequignet 23 Peter Tanisman 39 Philippe Dufour 28 Piaget 15, 17, 40, 52 Pierre Thomas 34 Q Quinting 41 R Ralph Lauren COVER I, 12-15, 24 Reactor 54 Richard Mille 26, 28, 40, 54, 62 Richemont Group 16, 24 Ritmo Mvndo 54 Roger Dubuis 21, 22, 41 Rolex COVER II-1 (Eur), 66
Ronda 71 Royal Condar Group COVER III (Intl) Rudis Sylva 50 S Simonetta Orsini 62-63 Slyde 34 Swatch Group 16, 47 T TAG Heuer 16, 53, 66 Titoni 27, 46-47, 60-61 Tudor COVER IV U U-Boat 54 Urwerk 16, 34 V Vacheron Constantin 2-3, 51, 62 Van Cleef & Arpels 39, 40 Z Zenith 16, 50
A A. Lange & Söhne 20, 21, 56-57 Antoine Preziuso 16 Aquanautic 51 Artya 34 Audemars Piguet 4-5 (Intl) 25, 26, 62
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72 LAKIN@LARGE europa star
Comeuppance time down south This year was the first time since its inauguration in 1991 that I have not attended the SIHH. It was the brainchild of Alain-Dominique Perrin, the then CEO of Cartier, and it was not met with the wave of enthusiasm that he had anticipated. Perrin must feel vindicated now because ‘Wonder Week’, as Gregory Pons of Business Montres has christened it, has become what he envisaged: seven days when Geneva becomes a tourbillon of gyrating bodies searching out the horological marvels being exhibited at not only the SIHH and the Geneva Time Exhibition, but also in venues such as hotel rooms, boutiques and other atypical locations where watch designers and manufacturers, now far too many to mention, reveal their mechanical wares. I’ve been sitting in the sun on my terrace in Menton wondering whether or not I did the right thing by not attending Wonder Week. Down here away from all the brouhaha, time takes on a different significance, people stroll rather than rush and appointments are organized in terms of morning, afternoon or end of the day rather than specific times that are to be found on watch dials. Watches simply don’t play a major role in this southern clime, since its either the heat of the sun, the rumbling of an empty stomach, apero time or the end of a movie on television that informs of the hour and dictates what happens next. For me, what happened next was that I realized I was running out of tonic to go with my gin. This required me making the day’s major decision: do I take the afternoon bus into town (there are just two in the afternoon at two-hour intervals) or do I take shanks’s pony (Ye Olde Scottish terminology for legs)? Given that the first bus rattled past as I was trying to decide, shanks’s won the day and before you could wind a Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Eight Days Perpetual I was walking through the marina admiring the toys of the über-rich awaiting their springtime scrub down. Once in town I purchased a copy of The Times, and since the January sales were on I decided to see what was on offer. Suddenly I spied in the distance a shop window plastered with giant watches and a minus 50% sign. Having forgone Wonder Week and silently praising some omnipotent power for rewarding me with this unexpected opportunity, I ran into the shop breathless, more than prepared to spend my hardearned pennies if I could get myself a Jaeger, Panerai or Longines with that sort of a discount. Before I could say minute repeater or chronograph, a very pretty young lady in high heels that gave me vertigo just
looking at them, wearing a denim mini skirt, outrageous stockings that looked like she’d been in a bomb blast and almost wearing a biologically educational low-cut blouse, came up to me and asked if she could be of any help. By this time my bulging eyes had taken in the surroundings of the darkened interior and I stood transfixed as I slowly realized that I was completely surrounded by displays of ladies stockings, knickers, armless and headless dummies decorated with colourful g-strings and tiny brassieres. Watches were noticeable only by their absence – with the exception of those selfadhesive ones on the shop windows. Since I’d been in the sun I think my blushes were almost imperceptible, but my nervous tick and stuttering led the young lady to believe that either I was having or about to have an epileptic fit. Taking me gently by the arm, she led me to a chair and offered me a glass of water. Like some senile idiot I said yes and had to sit there under the intense gaze of two other half-dressed shop assistants whilst she disappeared into a back room in search of some H2O. A polystyrene cup of Evian later and the rejection of a call to the SAMU (Service d'Aide Médicale d'Urgence), I left the shop feeling about as stupid as a man in a swimming costume in the middle of the Sahara looking for a beach bar. I managed to catch the last bus home and in a desperate effort to forget the embarrassment of my afternoon, flopped down in a chair on the terrace and looked out over the colourful bay just as the sun began its slow ritual of sinking behind the surrounding mountains. They say that the Lord works in mysterious ways. Was this to be my comeuppance for not attending Wonder Week? Not only had I left my copy of The Times in the shop, but also I’d completely forgotten to buy the tonic. Well, I suppose you’ve got to laugh haven’t you!
D. Malcolm Lakin Roving Editor
BASELWORLD2011 Hall 5.0 Stand D01
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