Issuu on Google+

March 2012

The SIHH 2012 Special 2 | mint Indulge | September 2011

New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chandigarh*, Pune*


editor’s note

Contents Indulge March 2012

The SIHH special

Annus Sensibilitus

I

n other words, this seems to be the year of sensible horology. This issue of Indulge, as it says on the cover, will focus on the launches and releases at the SIHH watch fair in Geneva that took place in January. However, at the time of going to press, the editor of your favourite monthly luxury lifestyle magazine has already spent a gruelling week at BaselWorld. That is the other major, and much more inclusive, global watch fair, which took place in Basel earlier this month. The highlights of BaselWorld will have to wait for another issue. But I see no harm in sharing here my learning from both fairs. By all metrics, the Swiss watch industry did roaring business last year. Latest data indicate that the industry saw growth in all continents except Africa. Overall watchmakers seem content. Why, in that case, does everything seem subdued? Why have most brands launched collections that seem so risk averse? (Many purists, who hate blasé novelties, are over the moon though. This writer is not one of them.) This is not to say that Geneva or Basel were bereft of superb watches. This year, too, picking and choosing our Best of SIHH double-spread was a huge challenge. We were spoilt for choice. Indeed, brands seem to have many more new references this year around. But are brands prepared to

rock the boat? No. Instead they are reinforcing it. As the head of India operations of one major brand told me, “This year there aren’t that many launches that will make you go ‘wow’. But there are plenty that will make you open your wallet.” He makes a splendid point. Nothing makes one as wary of a boom quite like a bust. And the watch brands are wary. Will the American recovery last? Will Europe go bust? What if China’s soft landing turns hard? And who, in the history of the species, has been able to read the Middle East with any accuracy? All this speculation and uncertainty have left us with a series of watch collections that doesn’t have its head in the skies, but has its feet solidly on the ground. These are the watches you will wear and wear. For watch connoisseurs, it is a splendid year to refresh their collection with some reliable pillars. Yet, there is a part of me that misses the brash showmanship of the boom years. Let us hope that 2012 will be an economically sound one. Maybe another year of record sales will get the Swiss dancing and yodelling again. Or whatever it is the Swiss do when they are excited.

SIDIN Vadukut issue editor

practicality are not remotely as important as appreciating the art, science, engineering, skill and history that goes into it

4| A profile of IWC’s

16| There is a power

6| Richard Mille speaks

17| Cartier’s Louis Ferla

stunning booth at SIHH 2012 about watches as objects of desire

10| Forty years on,

Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak is still the gold standard

12| A selection of the finest timepieces from SIHH 2012

14| Roger Dubuis shines at

the Geneva fair with its launch of the new Pulsion collection

15| Watches can also be masterpieces of art and craft

reserve indicator to match every style talks about the key challenges India has to overcome for the luxury sector to accelerate

22| Stefano Macaluso of

Girard-Perregaux talks about the future of watch design

Columns

8|

18| The aviator watch is one

Madhu Menon on cooking vegetables right

of the most iconic of all timepieces. Indulge presents IWC’s new releases and heritage

20| Montblanc gives its

peers a run for their money in luxury watchmaking

21| When it comes

to appreciating a mechanical watch, accuracy and

9|

Joel Harrison on how whiskies from different parts of the world are different

On the cover: Vacheron Constantin’s new Calibre 2260 that powers the Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-day Tourbillon Cover design: uttam sharma Cover image: Vacheron Constantin

Issue editor: SIDIN Vadukut; Editorial coordination: Pradip Kumar Saha, neil rodricks; Design: abel robinson, Uttam Sharma, Venkatesulu. Mint editorial leadership team: R. Sukumar (Editor), Niranjan Rajadhyaksha (Executive editor), Anil Padmanabhan, Tamal Bandyopadhyay, Priya Ramani, Nabeel Mohideen, Manas Chakravarty, Monika Halan, Shuchi Bansal, sidin vadukut, Jasbir Ladi, Sundeep khanna. ©2012 HT Media Ltd, All Rights Reserved


in pictures

Booth Profile

At the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) this year, IWC unveiled a completely refreshed Pilot’s Watch collection. The event was marked with a spectacular aviation-themed booth complete with a flight simulator, miniature flight carrier deck and staff clothed in flying suits. A brief profile:

Time taken to design, plan, fabricate and erect the booth: Twelve months. Assembly alone took a month.

Manpower required for assembly:

Four carpentry contractors and 55 construction staff.

Working staff in the booth during the fair: 125

Details of rooms and section:

A faithful representation of a US navy aircraft carrier spanning over 900 sq. m complete with island structure, flight deck, steam catapult, aircraft hangar, flight control and pilot’s locker room. The booth also included a Flight Deck bar and a fully bespoke lounge where guests could ‘‘strap in” with genuine BAE Systems aircraft harnesses. The booth housed a press theatre, 21 sales offices, three conference rooms, a photo studio, a kitchen and service spaces.

Flight simulator specifications:

The most accurate nongovernment, full-scale mock-up of a contemporary fourthgeneration US Navy jet anywhere in the world, engineered by ATI. The jet simulator has been officially licensed by the US department of the navy.

04

INDULGE | March 2012

It includes an original, fully functional polycarbonate canopy, a genuine Martin Baker GRU-7 ejection seat taken from a US Navy F-14 Tomcat, a faithful reproduction of the internal cockpit layout using genuine avionics instruments, and builtin IWC Pilot’s cockpit clock.

What happens to the booth now?

The jet, along with many of the key elements, will go on a world tour and be the centrepiece in retail exhibitions and local launch events. The decorative elements will be reused in IWC boutiques.


Profile

King Richard

And His Objects Of Desire Since 2001, Richard Mille and his namesake brand have established a reputation for making unique, highquality, high-performance sports timepieces. Richard Mille watches, with their signature skeletonized movements and cushion-shaped case, are ubiquitous on the wrists of celebrities and world-class sportspersons such as Rafael Nadal and Felipe Massa. At SIHH this year, Richard Mille spoke to Indulge about his company, his vision, and why he makes the watches he makes. Edited excerpts:

because they are so expensive to make. Simple. And now that you are so successful, are you able to keep creating or are you being forced to look at numbers again? No, no! I am not interested in them. Of course, I am not masochistic. I like making money. And I make money. The only thing I don’t want to do is go into commercial details. Everything I do is to keep demand higher than production. That way, I have to do nothing to sell. In my previous life, I was pushing products all the time. Pushing and pushing for sales. It is boring! What I love is a good product that people love and that represents an object of desire. It is like being in love. The day you are no longer an object of desire, it is finished. Just like that, my aim is to make my babies (points to watches) objects of desire.

BY sidin vadukut

T

sidin.v@livemint.com ell us about the genesis of the Richard Mille watch. When you started the brand, how did you choose to have this particular combination of movement and design? I’d wanted to launch my own watch company for a very long time. Not for my ego! But at that time I was working for a company. And you know how things are when you work for a corporation. You cannot do what you want. You have to worry about so many people, including shareholders. I noticed by the end that I was more into numbers than into creation. And I was very frustrated. That was the reason why I started Richard Mille. I wanted to decide everything myself. At my factory right now, they call me the dictator. I am not a dictator. But I don’t take advice from anybody. I work as if I am working for and by myself. In my experience, if you start doing too much market study and then you start asking this person and that person about this and that…in the end, one person will you tell you they want this, the other person will tell you they want that. In the end, you are mixed up and nothing happens. Whenever I want to do something, I quickly check the

Is your philosophy and this strategy affected by the economic realities of the market? Not at all, for several reasons. First of all, I organize myself properly. I divide my output into three—one-third each for America, Europe and Asia. Asia is a little more, around 40%. This is good for me, and like I said, I make less than the demand I have to satisfy. Secondly, at this combination of product and price, I don’t feel anything. The economic slowdown did not impact me in 2008 or 2009, and it is certainly not hurting me now. Let me give you an example of what I do. Last year, one of my hottest pieces was the RM011 chronograph. Last year, I must have sold some 600 pieces of the watch. So this year, I decided to make 400 pieces. Everyone is now screaming at me. I don’t give a damn. Because I want to create the desire. You cannot create the desire if you create thousands upon thousands upon thousands of watches…

breaking boundaries: Richard Mille (above), and the RM052.

What I love is a good product that people love and that represents an object of desire

06

INDULGE | March 2012

feasibility and then I go. After that, in any case, reality will slow you down. It took years and years to make the sapphire case watch that we have now launched. For years, I was pulling my hair out. And finally we were able to achieve it. But it was and is a nightmare. It takes three months to make one of those cases. But this is what I like to do. I hate commercial products. I think that the luxury world today means nothing anymore. Everything is so mass market. Which is alright; I don’t have any problem with mass-market brands. But as far as I am concerned, what I love is extreme products. Extreme luxury. And thanks to god I have more and more clients who understand this philosophy. So, it is a philosophy that works for me. Everything makes sense and is coherent—my products, my volumes, the philosophy of the brand. Everything is comprehensive. If I decided to make tens of thousands of watches, my company would collapse. This year, I might do around 2,800 pieces. Of course, they are all extremely expensive. Why are they so expensive? Not because I want to sell expensive watches, but

Now what inspires you to wake up one day and think to yourself: ‘‘You know what? I need a skull in my watch.’’ For years and years, I have been saying that the high end of this business is a ghetto. An ivory tower. We must open this ivory tower and be open to sports and arts and architecture and lifestyle. Now I have developed so many high-end sporty watches. Because I see no reason why you should buy a high-end watch, put it in a safe, lock it up, and then time to time you open it and have a look. No! I do watches that people wear. I do watches for an active life. I also thought it was very important to touch classes of age that are younger. This makes me very emotional, but I know young people who borrow money to buy a watch, from their parents or from a bank. Wow. That means I have a responsibility. But it is fantastic. Because today, there are very few objects in the world that can (give me)—and I am sorry to say this word—a hard-on. But I love the fact that I have many, many clients who own four or five Richard Mille watches. Every time I meet a prospective client who is thinking of buying their first Richard Mille, I tell them be careful. Be very careful. Because my watches are like drugs—once you are into it, you are finished. I


column

Veggie Delight

W

hat’s in a name? That which we call a vegetable by any other name would taste just as good”, wrote William Shakespeare in his play ‘‘Musings of the Tomato Fruit”. Okay, perhaps I’m remembering it wrong, but there is incredible variety in the vegetable land, a large group of food that includes the edible parts of a plant—stems, roots, flowers and leaves—and also things such as beans, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, chillies and eggplants that are technically fruit (because they contain the seeds), but are nevertheless considered vegetables in lay person’s terms. Vegetables need to be treated with care because they usually cook quickly and can rapidly lose their distinctive flavour if overcooked. The preferred Indian method of pressure-cooking the living hell out of them till they all turn mushy tends to murder their texture and flavour, and plunging them into some overly spicy sauce is just adding insult to injury. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to make the same recipes with a bit of love and care, and get much better results. Unlike meat (which my last column covered), vegetables are largely water, fibre, vitamins and minerals. While meat is mostly protein, vegetables are mostly carbohydrates. And despite what some fad diets might tell you, all carbohydrates are not bad. More than 90% of a vegetable is water. When you cook leafy vegetables such as spinach, for instance, the drastic drop in volume is from collapsing cell walls that release water, which then boils off. Vegetables are easier to cook than meat because not only do they not have any tissue that needs long cooking, but they are less troubled by a high cooking temperature. This makes them an excellent choice for quick cooking methods. On the flip side, long cooking methods soften the cell walls to an extent that veggies get mushy and are only useful if you want to make purees to feed babies. Fortunately, many vegetables will tell you when they’ve been overcooked by changing their

Photographs: iStockphoto

madhu

menon Chef

colours from bright greens, reds and oranges to duller versions of them. Everyone likes bright, happy-looking vegetables—so there’s your cue. Vegetable colour can also be altered by spices such as turmeric that are happy to stain them yellow, which is common in Indian cooking. Another reason for dull colours is cooking vegetables in an acidic medium (vinegar, lime juice, kokum—all qualify) or water that is hard (remember high-school science?). So if you want them to stay bright and colourful, add the acid component of your recipes towards the end. (A common restaurant trick is to add a pinch of baking soda while cooking, rendering the cooking medium more alkaline.) On the other hand, ‘‘starchy” vegetables such as potatoes, yams, peas and corn benefit from a slightly acidic medium when cooking because otherwise their outsides can overcook while the insides cook through, and this gives them an uneven texture. The acid will keep the surface texture firm while they cook, though the cooking will take a little longer. While this column can’t cover the ways to cook every type of vegetable in one piece (sounds like I just got an idea to continue writing for Indulge), here’s an overview of common cooking methods. Boiling and steaming: Both methods are great if you want vegetables with no fat, and with very little flavour apart from their own. To boil vegetables, use a 3% salt solution. This will prevent the salt and sugars from the vegetables leeching out. It will also speed up the cooking. The moment they’re tender enough, remove from the heat, drain, and serve immediately, or dunk them into iced water to prevent it cooking any

further. Steaming is even better because you don’t have to heat a large pot of water, and the vegetable flavour is preserved completely. I have often tossed vegetables in a flavourful mix of herbs and spices, and steamed them for customers with serious heart problems and on special fat-free diets. The results are brilliant. Just be careful that you spread out the vegetables in your steaming tray so that the steam reaches everywhere and they cook evenly. Sautéing and stir-frying: Both these methods expose vegetables to dry heat with a layer of oil, the difference being the temperature and duration. Sautéing is done at a medium-high temperature for longer, while stir-frying (a popular Chinese cooking method) is done over very high heat for just a couple of minutes, with the vegetables cut into smaller pieces for quick cooking. Both involve stirring the food around in the pan constantly. Moisture gets removed from the vegetables, concentrating their flavour. The exposure of heat to vegetables also creates browning and the forming of new flavour compounds that add to the taste of a dish. Lastly, some flavour compounds in the vegetables mix with fat better than water and this allows your dish’s flavours to taste more ‘‘together”. Stewing and braising: These wet-cooking methods are common in Indian cooking, in numerous curries and sabzis. As I said earlier, take care not to overcook your vegetables, and if using vegetables with different cooking times (say potato and cauliflower in aloo gobhi), cook the longer-cooking vegetable (potato) for a while before you add the quicker-cooking one. To get the best of both in terms of flavour, lightly sauté the vegetables before adding the cooking liquid. This will give you the additional flavour from sautéing as explained above. Grilling: Grilling is a great way to enjoy vegetables. In fact, one of my favourite ways to have veggies is to grill them with just some salt (perhaps some herbs such as rosemary or thyme) and brush some extra-virgin olive oil on them once they’re done. Since grilling is a detailed topic, a future column will be devoted just to this. Just remember to cut your veggies thin and don’t put them on the hottest part of the grill or they’ll burn fast. Finally, a few words about picking vegetables and storing them. Vegetables are essentially part of a nutrient transport system of plants, and they start deteriorating the moment they are picked. This is why they must be bought and cooked as fresh as possible. By the time you see them in supermarkets, they’ve probably been sitting around for a while. Ignore limp, discoloured specimens as they probably have very little flavour left in them. Refrigeration slows down bacteria and other microbes from spoiling the vegetables, but there are exceptions to this. Tropical vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, ginger, potatoes and onions are better off at room temperature. And remember that bacteria spread very fast. If you see a vegetable starting to go bad, immediately get rid of it. The adage about a rotten apple spoiling the bunch is literally true. I

Madhu Menon is a chef, restaurant consultant and food writer. Respond to this column at indulge@livemint.com

08

INDULGE | March 2012


column

joel

harrison

drinks consultant

An Honest Drink

A

sk most people what country they think of when you mention whisky, and the answer will probably be Scotland. Whisky made in Scotland even has its own nickname—Scotch. But as those of you who picked up the Whisky Special edition of Indulge (and thank you for such positive feedback) would have learnt, Scotland is far from the only place on the planet producing this liquid gold. What makes each distillery unique, no matter where in the world it is located, is the product. The Macallan can only be made at the Macallan distillery in the heart of Scotland’s Speyside region. Gentleman Jack can only be made at the Jack Daniels distillery in Tennessee, US. And the Amrut single malt can only be made at the Amrut distillery in Bangalore. Each of these places differs in its level of production. Hampered by the usual issues that plague an artisanal, crafted product, it is not always plain sailing to produce the spirit that becomes whisky. Take Highland Park in the furthermost reaches of the Scottish Islands. Boasting itself as Scotland’s most northerly distillery, it is stuck out in the Orkney Islands. I’ve visited it a few times, and trust me, the hour-long flight from Glasgow on a small turbo-prop aircraft in gale-force winds is about as much fun as being a passenger on a scooter riding through Mumbai in rush hour when your driver has realized he has forgotten his wife’s birthday, the father-in-law is coming over, and there is no decent whisky in the house. And it’s raining. As a result of being stranded, shipwrecked almost, on a remote island, Highland Park is probably the most expensive single-malt Scotch. So why keep making it there? Because that is where it has always been made. Tradition is the key. To this end, single-malt Scotch is a very honest drink. It is this honesty, this lineage, this heritage and these traditions that have attracted fans to Scotch, and whisky in general. The same can be said to a certain extent about Irish and American whiskeys, too, and Japanese whisky is gaining a growing reputation for extreme quality and consistency. But alongside attracting fans, whisky from all regions is gaining attention in the collectors/investors arena, too. Figures released at the start of 2012 show that the collectable end of the whisky market has grown significantly over the last few years, and has, according to a company called Whisky Highland, outperformed gold as an investment. The figures show that from 2008 to the end of 2011, the top 10 best-performing whiskies rose more than 400% in value, with the top 100 rising 245%, and the top 250 rising 180% in value. Compared with gold, which grew by 146% over the same period, whisky looks to be a jolly good investment. (For an additional comparison, diamonds only grew by 10%...but don’t tell the wife!) Single malts will always enjoy the lion’s share of collectors’ and investors’ attention. Why? Because their output is limited and unique. Like a good artist, you enjoy their style, their personality. But some of their releases are very limited, and if you want one, you’d better be prepared to pay for it. It also doesn’t help the prices when people open rare bottles and drink from them. It just means that there is one less bottle in the world and fuels the prices of the others. A shame, as the liquid was made for drinking, after all! However, the high rollers are also interested in blended whisky, too, which has a lot to offer in both the collectors’ market and the six-figure echelons of retail. Take Johnnie Walker. In 2009, a bottle of Black Label went on sale at iconic London department store Selfridges. A hundred unique bottles were released at £100 each to celebrate 100 years of trading. This week, I watched a bottle from this edition sell for over £900 at auction. Not a bad return in less than three years! But £900 is nothing when it comes to their latest release: the Diamond Jubilee by John Walker and Sons. A blend crafted by Johnnie Walker master blender Jim Beveridge to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s reign of 60 years in Great Britain. The whiskies used in creating the blend were all distilled in 1952, the year of the queen’s coronation. The liquid comes in a handblown crystal decanter and a handcrafted wooden cabinet, with a tonne of other goodies that would make any craftsman weep with joy. And the price for this? Just £100,000. Only 60 bottles of this super-rare Johnnie Walker have been produced, and purchase is by ‘‘invite only”. So when John Walker called me up, I started to panic. Sell the house? The car? The wife? Thankfully, the invitation was not to buy a bottle, but to join a lucky selection of whisky professionals to sample this astonishing blend. And astonishing is exactly what it is. Resplendent in its own majesty, this is truly a whisky fit for a queen. Just don’t expect to see it on eBay any time soon! I

Joel Harrison is a drinks writer and consultant and co-founder of the website Caskstrength.net Respond to this column at indulge@ livemint.com March 2012 |

INDULGE

S WI P EF ORC L ARI T Y

T h eMi n t i P a da p p Ne ws , v i e wsa n da n a l y s i sf r o mMi n t ’ s a wa r d wi n n i n gj o u r n a l i s t s . T h eMi n ta p p f e a t u r e sl i v es t o c kq u o t e s , b r e a k i n gn e ws , v i d e or e p o r t sa n ds l i d e s h o wsb a c k e du p wi t hc o mme n t a r yt oh e l py o uma k es e n s eo f t h ewo r l do f b u s i n e s sa n df i n a n c e .

Pr e s e nt e dby

09


Product Profile

The

AvantGarde Icon

Few watch designs remain as relevant decades after they were launched as the Royal Oak. A brief history:

By Sidin vadukut

F

sidin.v@livemint.com or four decades, Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak timepieces have straddled the worlds of the classic and the contemporary. Somehow, the original Royal Oak design seems every bit as relevant in 2012 as it did when it was first unveiled at the Basel fair way back in 1972. Even watch connoisseurs will be hard-pressed, at first glance, to tell the difference between the original 1972 Royal Oak and the new Extra-Thin Royal Oak 39mm launched this year in Geneva to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the design. So timeless is the original design that it has required no tweaking at all. This longevity is remarkable for an industry such as the Swiss watch industry that is so obsessed with history. Many brands have collections and references that go back several decades. Cartier’s Tank, for instance, was first designed in 1917. But few brands have designs that have needed as little modification or evolution as the Royal Oak. And this is all remarkable given the design’s unique origins. That story is the stuff of watchmaking legend. Watch designs are not conceived overnight. Brands—especially those of the calibre of Audemars Piguet— spend months, and even years, looking at the inside and outside of a potential design before giving it the green signal for a public release. Even when it comes to unveiling prototypes, brands can be extremely testy about design codes, standards and quality. The Royal Oak, however, was born overnight. One evening in 1971, shortly before the start of that year’s Basel fair watch exhibition, designer extraordinaire Gérald Genta got a phone call from Georges Golay, then managing director of Audemars Piguet. Golay told him

10

INDULGE | March 2012

remarkable longevity: The 2012 edition of the Royal Oak (top); the original sketch by Gérald Genta (right); and an exploded view of a Royal Oak watch.

When the first Royal Oak was unveiled at the Basel fair in 1972, many visitors dismissed not only the product, but also the brand

that the Italian market was pining for an “unprecedented steel watch” and Genta was expected to submit a design the next morning. What set apart Genta’s approach to watchdesigning, right up till his death in August 2011, was his willingness to think fresh. In a career studded with astonishing successes, Genta preferred to come up with new designs for watches rather than dip into the archives. Which is why, the next morning, when he showed Golay his sketch for the Royal Oak, Golay was shocked. In a 2006 interview with Revolution magazine, Genta recalled Golay’s exact words: “This is not an Audemars Piguet!” Today, the Royal Oak is by far the most easily recognized—and copied—line for the brand. But in the early 1970s, Genta’s muscular, steel design with exposed bolts and structural elements was a pole apart from the prevalent Audemars Piguet style— thin dress watches in precious metals and high complications. Genta’s design was not only innovative and ambitious, but also tremendously difficult to produce. Machining pieces of high-grade steel to Genta’s specifications were so difficult that the first prototype was made with the much softer white gold. (That prototype was later sold to the Shah of Iran.) When the watch was finally unveiled at the Basel fair in 1972, it was welcomed with a furore and more than a little derision. Not only had Audemars Piguet dared to make a luxury sports watch, but that too in steel, and at a price of 3,300 Swiss francs. This was an unheard of sum for a steel watch. According to watch lore, many visitors not only dismissed the product, but also the brand. In a recent interview, with Haute Times website’s Jack Forster, Martin Wehrli recalled how many visitors to the Audemars Piguet


Product Profile

Signature details: The 1972 Royal Oak line.

booth seemed bewildered. Wehrli, curator of the Audemars Piguet Museum, remembered visitors who would congratulate the brand before “...going around the corner and saying, they’ll be bankrupt in six months”. The Royal Oak was not an immediate success. But, on the back

In the early 1970s, Genta’s muscular, steel design with exposed bolts and structural elements was poles apart from the prevalent Audemars Piguet style

of a powerful marketing campaign, demand began to pick up. Soon not only was it flying off the shelves, but was also beginning to spawn a whole series of imitators at every price point and in every segment. (Incidentally, many of these brands would turn to Genta for their own steel designs. But, for some time after the watch had become a success, the designer had remained anonymous, as was the practice at the time. It was only some diligent work by Japanese media that revealed Genta’s handiwork.) The inspiration for the design is interesting. The name, unsurprisingly, has nautical roots. Between 1664 and 1939, Britain’s Royal Navy had eight ships named the Royal Oak. The name Royal Oak itself comes from the name of an oak tree in which King Charles II of England hid himself while escaping from parliamentarian soldiers during the English Civil War. The name is still popular, and, according to one estimate, Royal Oak is the third most popular name for a pub in Britain after Crown and Red Lion. Genta himself chose a nautical

theme, it is believed, after seeing a diver clamber out of Lake Geneva, dressed in an old-fashioned canvas suit and brass helmet. While the iconic bezel of the Royal Oak is reminiscent of portholes on a ship, Genta said that he was inspired by the design of the diver’s brass helmet. The original Royal Oak is rich in signature details. First of all, there is the precisely machined 39mm case—too large 40 years ago, but entirely de rigeur today. The masculine, chunky bezel is crafted into a soft octagon, held in place by eight hexagonal screws made of white gold. The signature blue dial is a “Petite Tapisserie” network of small squares interspersed with grooves crafted using the ramolayé or pounced ornament technique. The new Extra-Thin Royal Oak commemorative edition launched this year is almost a perfect facsimile of all these nuances. The only way to tell the pieces apart is by the colour of the date disc, which is white in the 1972 piece, but blue in the new reference. And inside the watch, as in the original, beats the 2121 automatic calibre. At just 3.05mm thickness, it is still the thinnest fulldiameter-rotor automatic movement in the world. Over the last 40 years, Audemars Piguet has launched more than 100 variants of the Royal Oak. In 1993, the wildly popular Royal Oak Offshore line was introduced, featuring a sportier, chunkier interpretation of the original. With four decades of booming sales behind it, the Royal Oak shows no signs of slowing down in popularity. This consistency is testimony not only to the quality of the watch and Audemars Piguet’s storied watchmaking abilities, but also to Gérald Genta’s outstanding vision. I


Selections

Selections

Best Of

Classics

Complications

SIHH 2012

Piaget << Altiplano Skeleton >>

Each year in Geneva, the brands at SIHH unveil dozens upon dozens of new references. While many of these watches will be superceded by newer models in the years to come, a handful will go on to become classics. Fewer still, such as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, will achieve the status of icons. What sets these icons apart are their mechanisms, designs, technology and novelty. We combed through each and every reference at SIHH 2012 to pick what we think were Genevaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s finest this year. Some of these may very well be the iconic watches of tomorrow.

Parmigiani << Tonda Retrograde Annual Calendar >>

Girard-Perregaux << 1966 Minute Repeater >>

Vacheron << Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-day Tourbillon >>

Montblanc << TimeWriter II Bi-FreĚ quence >>

Greubel Forsey << GMT >>

Audemars Piguet << Royal Oak Chronograph >>

Panerai << Tuttonero >>

IWC << Spitfire Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month >>

Cartier << Tank Anglaise >>

Richard Mille << Dragon-Jackie Chan Tourbillon >>

A Lange and Sohne << Grand Lange 1 >>

12

INDULGE | March 2012

JLC << Duometre a Quantieme Lunaire >>

March 2012 |

INDULGE

13


Selections

Selections

Best Of

Classics

Complications

SIHH 2012

Piaget << Altiplano Skeleton >>

Each year in Geneva, the brands at SIHH unveil dozens upon dozens of new references. While many of these watches will be superceded by newer models in the years to come, a handful will go on to become classics. Fewer still, such as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, will achieve the status of icons. What sets these icons apart are their mechanisms, designs, technology and novelty. We combed through each and every reference at SIHH 2012 to pick what we think were Genevaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s finest this year. Some of these may very well be the iconic watches of tomorrow.

Parmigiani << Tonda Retrograde Annual Calendar >>

Girard-Perregaux << 1966 Minute Repeater >>

Vacheron << Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-day Tourbillon >>

Montblanc << TimeWriter II Bi-FreĚ quence >>

Greubel Forsey << GMT >>

Audemars Piguet << Royal Oak Chronograph >>

Panerai << Tuttonero >>

IWC << Spitfire Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month >>

Cartier << Tank Anglaise >>

Richard Mille << Dragon-Jackie Chan Tourbillon >>

A Lange and Sohne << Grand Lange 1 >>

12

INDULGE | March 2012

JLC << Duometre a Quantieme Lunaire >>

March 2012 |

INDULGE

13


new releases

Edge To Edge In a year in which brands are taking as few risks as possible, Roger Dubuis shone at SIHH with the launch of the new Pulsion collection By sidin vadukut

T

sidin.v@livemint.com his year Roger Dubuis completes a landmark two-year-long revamp of its collections. The results started showing last year with the high-profile launch of the La Monegasque collection. In a year when brands are strengthening their core collections and taking as few risks as possible, Roger Dubuis shone at SIHH 2012 with the launch of the new Pulsion collection. Targeted at a consumer Roger Dubuis calls the “venturer”, this new pillar of the brand’s

portfolio is muscular, complex and unabashedly masculine. Lionel Favre, the designer behind the La Monegasque and the new Pulsion, told Indulge that the maison began developing the collection two years ago. The signature element of the Pulsion’s design is the new full-size sapphire crystal that is screwed on to the case in lieu of a bezel. Favre told us that he arrived at the design after several iterations. He began by trying to conceive of a watch with a small and thin bezel. “But then I thought to myself, can I do away with the bezel entirely?” Favre wondered if he could

attach the sapphire crystal directly on to the body of the watch. “The technical department told me I was crazy,” recalled Favre. One of the major challenges, he said, was having a screw-down crystal without sacrificing water resistance. “Besides the technical challenge, they were also afraid it would be too expensive.” In the end, Favre said, they were able to create a design that is waterproof up to 100m. “You can dive with this watch to that depth. It was a huge challenge.” While the crystal itself is a signature element, the Pulsion is rich in other nuances. The numbers are engraved into the reverse of the glass and filled with solid SuperLumiNova. This provides superior visibility at night, the numbers appearing as if to float underneath the glass in three dimensions. The

dial underneath is layered, with a variety of textures coming together to create a complex dial. For instance, while the flying tourbillon model has a skeletonized dial, the chronographs feature a number of surface finishes including the perlage and Geneva ribbing. Inside each of the four Pulsion models launched this year beats an in-house movement that is 100% compliant with the Hallmark of Geneva standards. The Pulsion is currently available with two movements: the RD 505SQ handwound flying tourbillon, and the RD 680 self-winding chronograph. With the demand for Roger Dubuis booming in India, the Pulsion should please buyers looking for a watch that is slightly more muscular than the Monegasque and more complex than the Excalibur. I

Arabic numeral engraved under the glass with white Super-LumiNova Screwed sapphire glass Diameter: 44mm

Strap: Black rubber with alternating satin and polish finishes

Water resistance: 10 bar (100m)

Chronograph

>> RD680 self-winding

movement with micro-rotor >> Open dial with perlage and Cotes de Geneve finishes >> Smoky sapphire chronograph counters >> Number of parts: 261 >> Thickness: 6.30mm >> Power reserve: 52 hours >> Frequency: 28,800 vibrations per hour >> Case: Pink gold

14

INDULGE | March 2012

Tourbillon

>> RD505SQ mechanical

hand-wound movement

>> Skeletonized movement in

anthracite rhodium-plated, circular-grained plate

>> Number of parts: 165 >> Thickness: 5.70mm >> Power reserve: 60 hours >> Frequency: 21,600 vibrations per hour

>> Case: Titanium


Craftsmanship

Fine Arts Discussion and debate about watchmaking all too frequently limit themselves to conversations, blogposts and tweets about materials, movements, technology, complexity and engineering. All that is important, of course, and forms the heart of Swiss watchmaking. But the industry is also a haven, and sometimes one of the last ones, for a whole host of diverse arts and crafts. From intricate gem setting to all but lost forms of enamelling and straw marquetry, many brands incorporate superb craftsmanship of the nonhorological variety into their timepieces. These works of art are even more unique than some of the choicest mechanical calibres. It takes hours upon hours of painstaking handiwork to yield objects that are nothing less than portable treasures. This is Indulge’s selection of some of the finest works of art from SIHH 2012.

Vacheron Constantin

Van Cleef and Arpels

Midnight Poetic Wish and The Lady Arpels Poetic Wish Gold engraving, miniature painting, mother-of-pearl sculpting and stone setting

These are the fourth and fifth timepieces in the brand’s Poetic Wish collection of complicated watches with automatons. Both watches house a Poetic Wish movement that indicates the hour and minutes with an animation, and has 5-minute repeater mechanism. The central hammers and gongs are visible through the transparent caseback. Both dials start as solid pieces of gold that are then engraved and painted. While sculpted mother of pearl is used for clouds, the shooting star in the Midnight watch is crowned with a superb Van Cleef and Arpels diamond. Each piece is presented in a cabinet made of precious wood and mother-of-pearl inlay.

Cartier

Cartier

Santos-Dumont XL

Promenade d’une Panthère

Mosaic Four hundred tesserae, or mosaic pieces, made of Earth jasper, Kalahari jasper, grey Madagascar jasper, chocolate obsidian and pink opal are carefully affixed to create the horse motif. The artist uses two mosaic techniques here: miniature squares for the base of the dial and irregular pieces for the horse. The design is edged with metal piping and finished with hand-engraved gold and red paint. Each piece required 120 hours of work—50 hours to create the horse and 70 to affix the background. The watch is issued in a limited edition of 40 without stones and 10 set with baguettecut diamonds.

Gem setting

The oscillating weight of the watch is inverted, to the front of the dial, and formed out of a three-dimensional panther set with diamonds. When the watch is moved, the panther prowls around the inky mother-of-pearl dial. The panther is constructed out of plated white gold set with brilliant-cut diamonds and black lacquer spots. In total the watch is crafted out of 629 jewels weighing 6.9 carats. The strap is made of black semi-matte alligator skin with an ardillon buckle in 18-carat rhodium-plated white gold set with brilliant diamonds.

Cartier

Vacheron Constantin

Rotonde de Cartier 35mm

Les Univers Infinis - Fish, Dove and Shell watches

Straw marquetry

Enamelling, engraving, gem setting and guilloché

Seven different tones of high-calibre straw are used to create the koala motif. Each blade is split individually, hammered flat, and then cut and assembled. It takes 40 hours to complete each dial. Once complete, the dial is left in the natural state, without varnish or protection. Limited edition of 20 pieces.

The designs, inspired by the works of Dutch artist Maurits Cornelis Escher, merge ancient enamel techniques with elements of modern graphic design. Inside beats the in-house calibre 2460 mechanical self-winding movement. The fish dial is created by a combination of hand-guilloché and cloisonné enamelling. Here, the outline is created with gold wire, then filled with enamel colours and fired in an oven. Engraving and the champlevé style of enamelling is used to create the shell/starfish dial. In champlevé, cavities are engraved into the metal, which are then filled in with enamel colours. The dove watch incorporates engraving, champlevé, guilloché and gem setting. Each piece is available in a limited edition of 20 pieces.

March 2012 |

INDULGE

15


In depth

JeanRichard

Panerai

The LPR in the name refers to ‘‘linear power reserve”, the indicator JeanRichard has built into the numeral 12. The numeral itself indicates remaining power. And unlike most other watches, this is shown in the form of a block of white that moves up and down linearly.

The 1950 model is available in two versions. One with power reserve on the dial, and this one, where the indicator is visible through the caseback.

Model: Diverscope LPR

See The

Power

Model: Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days

Spring-powered movements power most of the new high-end watches released each year in Switzerland and elsewhere. From affordable self-wound Seiko 5s to high-end, hand-wound limited edition Greuebel Forseys, there are movements in the market to suit every budget. But what distinguishes the spring-powered mechanisms in luxury timepieces? Besides the complexity, beauty and engineering prowess, another thing that sets these apart are ingenious power reserve indicators. These modules, which show how many hours of winding is left in the springs that power the watch, can come in a variety of shapes, types and even locations. Some watches even come with two. We showcase a diverse handful of power reserve indicators from SIHH 2012.

Montblanc

Model: TimeWriter II Bi-Frequence Montblanc’s flagship launch this year was the new TimeWriter chronograph that can measure intervals of time accurate to 1/1000th of a second. Because the chronograph module is powered by a powerhungry high-frequency 50Hz balance spring, the watch has an exclusive reserve indicator for the chronograph. Located at three o’clock, the inset cartouche shows how many minutes of chronograph use, out of a maximum of 45 minutes, are left.

A Lange and Sohne

Model: Datograph Up/ Down

Jaeger-LeCoultre Model: Duometre a Quantieme Lunaire

The timepiece has two power reserve indicators in the bottom half of the watch. One indicator shows power remaining in the mechanism that tells time, and the other the power in the spring that drives the moonphase and other indicators.

16

INDULGE | March 2012

The name of the watch itself refers to the power reserve indicator at the six o’clock position. When the hand enters the red, or ‘‘Down”, zone, it is time to hand-wind the watch again.


Interview

Cartier In

Control

Louis Ferla, Cartier’s managing director for the Middle East and India, spoke to Indulge about the brand’s strategy in India, the market’s taste for high-end pieces, and some of the key challenges India has to overcome for the luxury sector to accelerate. Edited excerpts: BY sidin vadukut

H

sidin.v@livemint.com ow was last year in India for you? Very good. We closed quite a lot of our distribution network actually, in order to focus only on our best distributors, and to ensure that in terms of service and image, we are at the right level. But the boutique in Delhi is doing very well. The productivity of the points of sale that we have retained has increased dramatically. So, all in all, we are doing what I would call a very qualitative business in India. It is not a big business at the international level for Cartier. But it is a promising business in the future. Richemont, of which Cartier is a fully owned subsidiary, has now opened an office in India. This will no doubt ramp up the pace of your operations? That is the idea. Cartier has been a leader in India, in the sense that when we opened our boutique in Delhi, we also established a team. Clearly, the aim is to reinforce both the business and support teams— the two work hand in hand. One cannot function without the other. So, in that sense, it will help us strengthen our position. Many of the luxury brands that had a presence in India decades ago tell us that while they have a certain recall value in the Indian market, it is a challenge to regain that lost prestige, that the market needs education

and reminding. What has been your experience? Not really. I think the brand equity for Cartier in India and worldwide is very strong. From our point of view, Cartier is clearly a leading brand both in terms of creativity and craftsmanship, and the brand is recognized for the exact same reasons in India as well. The challenge for us now is to ensure that we build a good distribution network in India. If you are asking me, do we need to educate the client? No, we don’t need to. They travel, they know the brand, the love the brand. So that is not the idea. The idea is to ensure that we provide the right platform for clients who are really connoisseur collectors. So that whenever they go to a boutique in Delhi or a point of sale in Mumbai or Chennai, they receive the Cartier level of service. For us, this is the bigger challenge. We want your experience to be the same whether you are buying Cartier from Delhi or Mumbai or Kuwait or Qatar or Paris and New York. And as you spread your distribution network, it is very easy to lose your focus. We want to keep our focus and values intact even as we grow. What are these values for Cartier? To be powerful, to be a reference, to be audacious, and to be generous. To be powerful, for instance, you need big boutiques that make a powerful impression with amazing creations. To be audacious means being creative. For instance, you

can see what we have done with the Metier d’Arts pieces this year. And how much we have invested in making complicated watches. To be a reference, you want people to think of Cartier as the benchmark. And for that, we need to constantly improve. And Indians have the same expectations from us. If you fall asleep in India for six months or a year, very quickly you will see that you will get left behind. What makes the Indian market unique? What sets it apart from the other global markets? Nothing at all, really. More and more clients are connoisseurs in the sense that they are travelling and moving more and more. Maybe 10 years ago, people confined themselves to a national or regional level. I have not seen any international luxury brand that performs in one market in one way, and then in another way in another market. Good luxury brands perform everywhere… Momentarily, you might see one market doing better or worse because of local factors, or because of a brilliant local manager. But in the long run, it all evens out. Otherwise, you stay true to your brand and keep all the DNA intact. Especially when there is an economic crisis, customers go back to core values. They want to feel secure; they want to buy into iconic collections.

If you fall asleep in India for six months or a year, very quickly you will see that you will get left behind

Is the Indian market responding to the high complications and your fine watchmaking collections as well? Yes. If you look at the maharajas in the past, they always wanted the top of the top. They owned the most beautiful cars and watches and jewellery. And today’s contemporary maharajas are businesspeople. And these businesspeople have private jets, they travel, they are very well educated, they know the difference between what is real luxury and fake luxury. Therefore, they recognize the value of great products. There are some markets in the world where the “range” works very well, but not the high end. And other markets are vice-versa. India is a case of the latter. In India, we don’t have to do anything to push the high end; there is a lot of demand. The range, on the other hand, will become more popular as the middle class gets richer and richer. Really, if you ask me, the challenge in India is to develop at the right pace. Not too fast, not too slow. It is very tempting to open 50 points of sale. But that is not the right thing to do. It is also tempting to think that I have a good business, I am making money, let me not open any more stores. That is also the wrong thing to do. Then the competitors will overtake you. Today, if you could solve two or three key problems in India that could help you do better business, what would those be? Clearly, the first one would be the import duties. The duties are still high in India. The second problem is the infrastructure. The shopping environment. In India, we lack high-quality malls and shopping infrastructure. For me, these are the two key points that need to be addressed. I

March 2012 |

INDULGE

17


Product Profile

Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar Top Gun

Mechanical movement, Pellaton automatic winding, power reserve display, perpetual calendar with displays for the date, day and month, perpetual moon phase display, double moon phases for the northern and southern hemispheres, four-digit year display, small hacking seconds, Glucydur® beryllium alloy balance, Breguet spring, screw-in crown. Calibre 51614.

Flying Machines This year at SIHH, IWC unveiled a broad relaunch of its Pilot’s Collection. Nine new watches were announced, taking IWC’s total aviator portfolio to a dozen timepieces By sidin vadukut

T

sidin.v@livemint.com he aviator watch is one of the most iconic, and easily identifiable, of all timepieces. While the wristwatch itself is a redundant instrument in modern cockpits, the aviator continues to draw both buyers who fly planes— surely a slim minority—and others who prefer to wield their fine timepieces firmly on earth. This is because the pilot’s watch, for all its functional history and technical DNA, is today a remarkably versatile device. Brands such as IWC, Breitling, Bremont, Bell and Ross and Tutima all bring their own contemporary interpretation to the pilot’s watch. The result is a timepiece that is often elegant and understated enough to be worn with a suit to work, but is also rugged and chunky enough to be subject to a rigorous weekend. In an industry that often distinguishes collections by where you go or what you do with your watches, this explains the enduring popularity of the pilot’s watch—it can go anywhere and do anything. This is why brands such as IWC

and Zenith have led their novelties for 2012 with several new pilot’s watches. However, the history of pilot’s watches is not just the history of a genre, but a history of the wristwatch itself. It was in 1904 that a wristwatch was first made to be worn by an aviator. By then, Patek Philippe had already invented the timepiece for the wrist, but it was almost exclusively worn by women as jewellery. Then, in 1904, while celebrating a flying prize at Maxim’s Restaurant in Paris, pioneering French aviator Alberto SantosDumont asked his friend Louis Cartier to design a watch that would be easier to use during flights than the cumbersome pocketwatches. Cartier duly obliged by not only designing the first pilot’s watch, but also perhaps the first wristwatch for men. The design of that watch, later christened the Santos, is a classic and a Cartier bestseller to this day. The essential characteristics of the pilot’s watch, as we know it today, would take decades and two world wars to emerge. Today pilot’s watches are known for several iconic features—high contrasts designs comprising black dials, large white numerals, over-sized hands, luminous markings, large pushers and crowns to allow use with gloves on, hardy materials, and adjustable straps that can be worn over flying suits. Many of these features are, like

Spitfire Chronograph

Mechanical chronograph movement, self-winding, date display, stopwatch function with minutes and seconds, flyback function, small hacking seconds, screw-in crown, glass secured against displacement by drop in air pressure. Calibre 89365.

18

INDULGE | March 2012

Big Pilot Top Gun Miramar

Mechanical movement, Pellaton automatic winding, date display, power reserve display, Glucydur® beryllium alloy balance, Breguet spring, screw-in crown, glass secured against displacement by drop in air pressure. Calibre 51111.

the watches themselves, redundant in modern aircraft. But they remain an essential element of watch portfolios, vestiges perhaps of a more romantic, daring era. By 1919, 15 years after the Santos was designed, Longines was already an official supplier of watches to the International Aeronautics Federation. The brand’s most famous pilot’s watch, however, would be the Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle watch, developed in the 1920s in association with perhaps the most famous flier of them all, Charles Lindbergh. That watch helped flyers calculate their longitude accurately. Indeed, in the early days of flying, the wristwatch was vital for navigation. And brands responded by developing chronometers and chronographs that told time with ever increasing accuracy. In 1936, when IWC launched its first aviator, the Special Watch For Pilots, the timepiece came with a rotating bezel to help measure elapsed time. World War II, which saw extensive airborne combat operations for the first time in human history, led to a proliferation of brands that made watches for pilots. The war-time development that has had the most enduring impact on pilot’s watches is arguably the “Beobachtungsuhr” standards released by the German government in the early 1940s. The standards were then handed over to a clutch of German

watchmakers—IWC, Wempe, Stowa, A Lange and Sohne, Laco—who were then asked to supply watches to Luftwaffe navigators. These “B-uhr” specifications established many of the signature elements of modern pilot’s watches such as the high-contrast dials and over-sized dimensions. Ironically, of the 1,200 52mm pilot’s watches that IWC shipped in 1942, some 200 were sold to the British navy. The Americans, meanwhile, launched their own military watch standard called the “A-11”. The US war department, in turn, ordered scores of A-11 compliant watches from three brands—Elgin, Bulova and Waltham. The timepieces, remarkably similar to the B-uhr pieces, would prove to be extremely hardy. US servicemen used them right up till the Korean War, when the A-11 standards were superseded. IWC would wait till 2002 before relaunching the Big Pilot, which has since gone on to become one of the brand’s most popular timepieces. This year at SIHH, IWC unveiled a broad relaunch of its pilot’s collection. Nine new watches were announced, taking IWC’s total aviator portfolio to a dozen timepieces. IWC recently granted Indulge exclusive access to the company’s archives. We took the opportunity to craft a visual history of IWC’s pilot watches. We also profile some of our favourite new IWC references from the Top Gun Miramar and Spitfire collections.


A brief history of the international aviator

Product Profile

1936

The Special Pilot’s Watch

IWC’s first pilot’s watch, popularly known as the Mark IX, came with shatterproof glass, a rotating bezel and an anti-magnetic escapement. The hands and numerals were coated in high-contrast luminiscent material.

1940 The Big Pilot’s Watch

The German Luftwaffe was supplied with 1,000 of these extra-large timepieces containing the 52 T.S.C. Pocket watch calibre. The case had a diameter of 55cm, and weighed 183g, making it the biggest watch ever made by IWC. In order to be worn over a flying suit, the watch came with a double-looped, extralong strap and buckle.

1948

The Navigator’s Wrist Watch Mark 11

These timepieces were specially built for the Royal Air Force according to strict British government specifications. The Mark 11 boasted of two outstanding features. The first was a ‘‘hacking” central seconds hand that could be stopped for precise setting and synchronization. Secondly, the watch had an inner case of soft iron that could protect the movement from magnetic fields of up to 80,000 Ampere/ metre. Each Mark 11, now a cult collector’s item, was shipped only after 648 hours of testing.

1988

Civilian pilot’s watches

Forty years after the Mark 11 IWC released the Reference 3705 chronograph in a hightech ceramic case made of zirconium dioxide. Over the next decade, the company launched a number of references in the Pilot family including a double chronograph and the UTC world timer.

2003 The Spitfire Collection

This new series was a tribute to the legendary Spitfire aircraft in both name and design. The textured dial with raised appliques is designed to evoke the lines of the Spitfire. And in the latest collection launched this year, even the rotor is a superb homage to the fighter.

2012

The Top Gun Collection

This year’s clutch of new references is a tribute to the US navy’s Fighter Weapons School, made immortal in the Top Gun movie. The collection comprises of three pieces in the Top Gun line, and the two more in the Top Gun Miramar line.

March 2012 |

INDULGE

19


Brand profile

Summit In Sight Montblanc had a stellar reputation for making expensive, high-quality writing instruments since 1908. Now, 15 years after launching its first timepiece, CEO Lutz Beghte says that the watch business is not only booming, but also could overtake pens. What is Montblanc’s secret?

By Sidin vadukut

F

sidin.v@livemint.com orget ambitious upstarts. The Swiss watch industry is brutal even to brands with centuries of heritage and history. Walk around some of the fairs and exhibitions held in Basel and Geneva and you’ll spot several brand names that once sold all over the world, pioneered innovation and set records, but have now been reduced to eking out a living making a few thousand niche pieces, all but forgotten by the mainstream and the titans that dominate it. It is a business that does not suffer fools, young and old, gladly. And, while history and heritage are crucial to acquire and maintain “legitimacy” in this business, they alone are insufficient. Success is crucial too. You can make all the in-house movements and tourbillons and minute repeaters you want. But if you don’t sell, you don’t matter. It was into this tough, exacting, unforgiving arena that Montblanc stepped into in 1997 with a diversification into timepieces. At the time, sceptics outnumbered enthusiasts by far. The brand has had a stellar reputation for making expensive,

20

INDULGE | March 2012

high-quality writing instruments since 1908. The Meisterstück pen is an iconic piece and a staple among luxury consumers. And while the pens themselves are crafted with painstaking detail and craftsmanship, they pale in comparison with the complexity of modern haute horology timepieces. It was a difficult new act to pull off, but Montblanc came in with intent. The first line unveiled at SIHH in 1997 was called the Star Collection, and it drew inspiration from the brand’s writing instruments. The initiative changed several gears in 2006 when Montblanc’s parent company, the Richemont Group, acquired the Minerva watch manufacturer in Villeret, Switzerland. Suddenly Montblanc, which absorbed Minerva, had access to the heritage of a haute horology brand established in 1858, and the expertise of 22 Minerva employees, many of them high-quality watchmakers. By late 2009, Montblanc was preparing to flaunt some of its newly gained street creed. A story published in the Financial Times in November that year, titled “Montblanc: Bid to break into high-end watch world”, profiled the brand’s product and retail

Rewriting strategy: The Montblanc Régulateur Nautique Chronographe (top); CEO Lutz Beghte (above); and the first Montblanc Factory in Hamburg (below).

strategy. In the story, the brand’s then managing director for watches, Hamdi Chatti, spoke about the rationale behind Montblanc entry and investments in watchmaking. “Montblanc is the market leader for pens. At first, we introduced watches as a brand extension, they were great quality, but in the middle market. We noticed that the same clients who would spend €300 on one of our pens, were spending €150,000 upwards on their watches,” Chatti told the Financial Times. The challenge the brand set for itself, he then explained, was to do whatever it took to reach that price-point. And that meant becoming a serious player. At the subsequent SIHH in 2010, the brand unveiled the Montblanc Villeret Metamorphosis, a limited edition, high-complication piece that was part certificate of the brand’s new found confidence, and part statement that it had properly arrived on the scene. When Mint spoke to CEO Lutz Beghte at SIHH 2011, he was tightlipped about the brand’s ongoing strategy for watches. By this time, Montblanc had already developed a number of signature timepieces in the form of the Nicholas Rieussec and the TimeWalker TwinFly. It had a broad collection that spanned price points, design imperatives and complexity. Beghte told Mint: “Yes,

I do foresee watches becoming a significant portion of our revenues in the next few years. But will it overtake pens? I don’t know. May be. However, writing instruments is the most important part of our brand DNA. We will never give that up.” That year, Montblanc presented a robust collection of watches. The strategy in 2010 seemed to be more about creating a harmonious collection than in impressing with big bang innovations. There was a palpable sense that the brand was gaining grudging acceptance from the industry and a rapturous welcome from watch buyers. If Beghte was tentative in 2011, by SIHH 2012, he sounded much more certain about the prospects of his watchmaking operations. “We are not forsaking the writing instruments. I still think there is a lot of creativity there. We are still doing a lot of things with writing instruments and that business will continue to grow,” he said, sounding somewhat wary of dismissing the pen business entirely. “But, at the same time, we see more potential in the watches. The market is so much bigger. In five years time, maybe watches will overtake pen. In fact, it will happen by 2017. The potential in watches is huge.” However, there were many visitors at SIHH, speaking off the record, who felt that this may have already happened. Montblanc may already be making more money from watches than pens. If so, then the velocity of the company’s transformation is astonishing. “Yes it is. So much has happened in the 15 years since we launched watches,” said Beghte. “But the success eventually came from our roots in craftsmanship and precision engineering.” Beghte’s point is pertinent. Many, many brands have made the entry into the watch market through clever, some might even say devious, shortcuts. It is not particularly hard to start a watch brand. Sourcing branded cases and straps from suppliers, and slapping them around an ETA or Valjoux movement requires hardly any watchmaking expertise. Except for the first five years of its entry into watches, however, Montblanc has relentlessly invested in movements and watchmaking strength. “We were always committed to make our own watches. That is the only way to get people to take you seriously,” said Beghte. Today, the brand has two manufacturing facilities: one in Le Locle, for the vast majority of timepieces, and, the other in Villeret, where the brand makes its most complicated artisan, limited edition and bespoke pieces. “So now we make watches that even other watch brands look at and say: wow!” Testimony to this commitment and focus on artisan pieces is this year’s Montblanc TimeWriter II Bi-Fréquence watch that measures time intervals accurate to 1/1000th of a second. With an inhouse MB TW 02 movement inside, what truly distinguishes the watch is not just the accuracy, but how easy it is to read, understand and use. SIHH 2012 may well be remembered as the fair that established Montblanc as not just a contender but a competitor. People now take the brand seriously, and Beghte knows it: “Look at the number of awards we are winning everywhere. Ten years ago, it would have been impossible to think that Montblanc watches could win prizes.” Beghte says Montblanc’s plan is to stay serious about watches, and to keep contributing to the art of horology through movements and special editions. And, as long as Montblanc keep doing that, even the pickiest watch connoisseurs will be very happy indeed. I


Opinion

Learning To

Love The Mechanical When it comes to appreciating a mechanical watch, accuracy and practicality are not remotely as important as appreciating the art, science, engineering, skill and history that goes into it By sidin vadukut

L

sidin.v@livemint.com

et’s get the basics out of the way. No mechanical watch, however expensive, is going to be as accurate as a half-decent watch bought at a departmental store that is powered by a quartz movement. A quartz mechanism of reasonable quality can be accurate to within half a second every day. Thermocompensated quartz movements in wristwatches can be accurate to 10 or 20 seconds a year. That is accurate enough to fly planes by or control satellites with. Mechanical watches are pathetic in comparison. The Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres (COSC) certification, that is essential for mechanical watches to be called “chronometers”, allow errors of between −4 to +6 seconds per day. In other words, if you are a social media millionaire, Russian resource oligarch, or optionsvesting chief executive, it doesn’t matter how expensive your Ulysse Nardin tourbillon, Greubel Forsey masterpiece or heirloom Rolex Daytona is. In all likelihood, your chauffeur wears a more accurate timepiece. The need to tell accurate time is vital, of course, but not one that by itself justifies the investment in a good mechanical watch. Indeed, accuracy is the best reason not to wear a watch at all. Your mobile phone is not only a more versatile timekeeper, but also an accurate and intelligent one. Most phones can automatically set their electronic clocks to the network time, or connect to an online time server. And unlike most watches, phones automatically take care of dates, leap years, daylight savings time, and even time zones when you travel. When it comes to appreciating a mechanical watch, therefore, accuracy and practicality is not remotely as important as appreciating the art, science, engineering, innovation, skill and history that goes into every mechanical watch. From affordable brands such as Hamilton and Rado, right up to the hallowed names of Swiss haute horology such as Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin, every mechanical watch tells a story. Every movement inside one of these watches is the culmination of centuries of human innovation and ingenuity. Around the movement are elements that are much more contemporary, but every bit as artful—the case, bezel,

When you wear a mechanical watch on your wrist, what you are really wearing is a feat of engineering and a product of history

Photos: A Lange and Sohne

crystal and strap. In much the same way you can tell the history of people and places through their art and architecture, you can tell the story of modern design and engineering through the designs of watch cases and bezels. (For instance, see page 19 of this issue and browse through seven decades of IWC Pilot’s watches. See how our ability to work metal and inscribe lettering has evolved over that period.) Therefore, contrary to common perception and consumption, there is more to a watch than the brand on the dial. It is also about understanding the inherent provenance and complexity of the object in your hand. And mechanical watches are

astonishingly complex: this year’s Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-day Tourbillon by Vacheron Constantin packs 231 parts, including 31 jewels, into a movement 6.8mm thick! Formula One racing and vintage cars are worthwhile comparisons to mechanical watchmaking. Why do people care so much about speed? What element of F1 racing, from the perspective of the average automobile user, is remotely practical? If you were in that much of a hurry you’d probably catch a train, book a flight or hire a helicopter. Yet each race in the F1 calendar is seen by millions all over the world. A young 23-yearold German driver in a team owned by an Austrian energy-drink entrepreneur has devoted fans in far-flung suburbs of Mumbai. Young Chinese and Malaysians debate the technical merits of the latest cars, reducing complex cuttingedge concepts into four-letter abbreviations and phrases such as KERS and “electronic traction control”. The halls and corridors at SIHH and BaselWorld are witnesses to similar heated discussions and debates about the latest mechanical watches. Albeit at a much smaller scale. (Some watch nuts might say that watching the second hand travel around a Piaget Altiplano

Skeleton is as satisfying as seeing Fernando Alonso chew up lap after lap.) Watch lovers take their passion very seriously indeed. Some people love the technical accomplishment. Some, the design and heritage. Still others have too much money lying around and want to own everything new. It makes for a heady mix of views and emotions, and explains why popular watch magazines and blogs are a dozen to a brand. But what do they talk about? Plenty. Everything from the leather in the bracelet, to the colour of the numerals can divide opinion. And,

of course, innovation. Now, this is an industry obsessed with perfecting a technology that is, when you come to think of it, mostly obsolete. Does that mean brands sit on their laurels and mint money shipping out the same old references year after year? Well, yes, of course. But there is also tremendous innovation lurking under the surface. Take the case of one of the simplest and most vital parts of the mechanical movement— the balance spring, or hairspring. The first timepieces with hairsprings were made by Dutch scientist Christian Huygens around 1660. One would assume that the last 352 years have resulted in every possible innovation. But, in fact, to this day, maisons such as Breguet continue to design and manufacture new types of hairsprings out of materials such as silicon. Innovation in mechanical watchmaking is well alive. The pressure to impress retailers, customers and the media at fairs each year is so high that brands often have two or three years’ worth of innovations and novelties in the pipeline at any given time. Few of these are as path-breaking as the tourbillon movement. But brands still strive. If the technology, complexity and innovation isn’t enough to convince you, then perhaps the heritage will. Watches have accompanied human beings through some of their greatest achievements through the course of the last century. Omegas have been worn to space, Rolexes have summitted the Everest, Cartiers have crossed the Atlantic with Charles Lindbergh and IWCs have fought a world war. And, while it might seem like the entire world is wearing a Rolex or a Patek Philippe, the top Swiss brands in fact make very few watches each year. Some, like Richard Mille, intentionally keep supply below demand to maintain exclusivity. Which means many watches are hot collector’s items. In December 1999, Sotheby’s sold a unique Patek Philippe pocket watch, made in 1933, to an anonymous collector for $11 million. Thus, when you wear a mechanical watch on your wrist, what you are really wearing is a feat of engineering and a product of history. The price you pay can depend on anything from the number of diamonds on the bezel, to your gullibility. (And these guys are great at marketing.) But with a little research, a little curiosity, and a little passion, you will find yourself owning not so much a device but a work of art—one that can accompany you everywhere. I March 2012 |

INDULGE

21


interview

New

Beginnings With a history that dates back to 1791, GirardPerregaux (GP) is one of the oldest and most storied high-end timepiece manufacturers in Switzerland. At the time it was founded in Geneva by Jean-Francois Bautte, GP was perhaps the first integrated watchmaker in the world, handling everything from engineering to assembly and finishing. Last year, the Sowind Group that owns both GP and sister brand JeanRichard became a subsidiary of PPR, the french luxury conglomerate that owns Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. This makes the 2012 edition of SIHH GP’s last. Starting 2013, GP will be unveiling novelties, meeting the press and booking orders at the world watch and jewellery fair held in Basel later in the year. At Geneva, Indulge met with Stefano Macaluso, the brand’s managing director and a scion of the Macaluso family that runs the Sowind Group. Macaluso spoke about the future of watch design, what the changes mean for GP and the Indian market. Edited excerpts: BY sidin vadukut

W

sidin.v@livemint.com

hat do you think is going to happen to watch design in the next three or four years? Do you see any large trends? Today, we have definitely two main trends, and I am talking about men’s watches here. You have very strong sporty men’s watches, and the other trend is very classical—I would say even neo-classical—watches. It is difficult to predict what will happen in the next three years. But my feeling is that the mechanisms will get more emphasis. Also, external cases are going to get more and more complicated. They will look like machines. The neo-classical trend, of course, will be targeted at traditional people looking for traditional designs. The design trends in watchmaking are a little strange actually. Ten years ago, watches were inspired by things like cars and accessories... And some of these inspirations I find quite strange and unoriginal. You see this even now. But overall, I think sports watches will get more complicated, (they will have) multi-faceted three dimensional cases, and traditional designs will remain pure and clean but with, I think, a more modern aesthetic. This is partly because new designers are coming into this industry. And they want to leave their mark on the business. You are someone who likes classical designs. Do you enjoy some of these new trends and designs? I have to split my personal tastes from the tastes of the industry as a whole. For a brand like us, it is good to see classical designs being trendy. Because we are a very old brand and execute classical designs very well. This trend fits very well with us. Look at our minute repeater this year, for example. It has an enamel dial,

22

INDULGE | March 2012

Transition mode: Stefano Macaluso, managing director, Girard-Perregaux (above) and watchmakers at work at a GP facility.

Breguet numerals, small seconds…it is beautiful. I am a passionate designer. So I like to look at global trends in design not just in watches but in all kinds of things—lamps, furniture, architecture, cars. I want to have a lot of connection with other brands. But there is a danger here. If you look at how some brands take inspiration from, say, cars, they may copy the design of an engine head and put in on their watch. There is nothing wrong with this. But to me it seems like a gimmick. To see real innovation, you look inside the latest Lamborghini or Aston Martin. You

Our focus right now is to have a collection that is easy to read, easy to understand... and easier to explain for our retailers

see the way it has been updated. You look at the way the edges are cut on these cars. That is real innovation. What we need in watches right now is real innovation, not some gimmick. This year’s collection from GP seems much more confident than previous years. You seem to have taken more risk. Is this confidence a reflection of greater confidence within the brand itself? First of all, 2011 was a year of changes for us. This is a time of great transition for us. So what you see is just a small section of what we are working on right now. We haven’t unveiled everything. But the response this year has been good. There has been an acceleration in demand…which is great news for us. Our focus right now is to have a collection that is easy to read, easy to understand, easy to appreciate in the boutiques, and easier to explain for our retailers. We are getting there. I am happy you like the collection. But there is also the matter of generations. These collections were developed after I took over running the company. And each generation has to start a new cycle. Therefore, the brand is now starting a fresh, new cycle. Maybe that is why you see more confidence. Are you bringing in a new set of values and a new philosophy to the company? You have to be very careful when you are dealing with a brand like GP. The DNA must be kept consistent. My job is to work like a bridge. I need to connect the history, the last 20 or 40 years, to the next 20 years, to the next new cycle. So it is not giving

up the past. But staying connected to it. Even today, we are making contemporary versions of the Three (Gold) Bridges design. This is a great example of how to combine old and new. It is a classic design. So we need to take the design, maintain the spirit of the brand, but bring in new designs, materials and methods. We are working on new mechanisms, new custom escapements. All things that will come in the years to come. The mission for me involves all these things—keep working on research, keep pushing for innovation, but keep maintaining the heritage and history. How difficult or eventful is the transition into the PPR group for you? I am very excited for the brand. And also, I think I am lucky to be here when this historic transition is happening. The PPR group is passionate about watches. FrançoisHenri Pinault (chief executive of PPR) takes his watches seriously. I think we will be able to capitalize on the strengths of the PPR group. Already we have started working with new people and are launching new projects. For instance, we are working with a very exciting watchmaker called Dominique Loiseau, who is now working on a super complicated watch that will be presented next year. We are also working on projects with, what I like to call, “rockstar watchmakers”. These are people who are less than 30 or 40 years old, but have already worked on our tourbillons for 10 years. And we are asking these young, dynamic guys to make watches for us. I



Indulge for Mar 2012