While I understand that high-end watches don't always make for a newsworthy stories, the industry can get more coverage when it is a bit more open. Dedicated watch media can have more "valuable" inside, while mainstream media can have more meat. Watch media needs to get more real before it can get more respect. The internet has made that possible for anyone to do. I highly recommend that the existing watch media publishing and journalism industry get together with the watch industry to discuss how watch media can be less marketing related, and more culture related.
The courage (or "audacity" as Europeans in their infinite defiance of how Americans use words call it) that RSW has actually does impress me. They are among a minority of watch brands that actually do take design risks (even though all claim to). And does this risky behavior pay off for RSW? I am not sure. Unfortunately not many of their timepieces make it to the US. But that goes for a lot of really good watches out there.
I spent time in Le Locle where Ulysee Nardin puts together the Freak and Freak Diavolo movements. All in-house made, these calibers are fun to watch being put together. For a brand so reliant of stately practicality and a sense of imperial style, the Freak makes for a slightly ironic Flagship product, which is really unique as an offering by the historic brand. It is an amusing contradiction and sign that the brand doesn't get too fussy with its own self image. In their own words "we are a product driven brand, not a marketing driven one."
Item #30, is an Omega Blue Seamaster chronograph from 1972 (Ref. ST 176.004). This piece is from the heart of the funky era of cushion shaped cases and funky 60s and 70s diver's watches. The estimate is USD ,300 - ,700. This is a relatively rare model and collectible, more than just a nice vintage piece. Recent examples have gone for more than the high-end of this range elsewhere. I expect this watch to easily hit ,500+, maybe a lot more. My only concern is that with 600+ items in the auction, some things might get lost in the shuffle as bidders get weary.
Westime reminds us that most people buying very high-end watches are not first time watch customers - "they usually own at least one other fine timepiece before they are interested in obtaining a very exclusive watch." Once again, the resounding response from all retailers was "absolutely" when asked whether it was educated consumers who purchased the most expensive product.
Cigar King owner Mitchel Hirsh reportedly started selling watches several years ago due to his own passion for collecting timepieces. This was to be a supplement to his already thriving cigar business. Though business has gotten good enough that plans for a dedicated watch store are in the works. Hirsh does not employ commission-based sales guys pressured to push timepieces. Instead, the store has some highly dedicated watch lovers who are more in charge of the watch sales department and work with customers to educate them on the timepieces they carry. The difference between consumer education and pushing a sale is very real.
Collecting vintage is not for the uninitiated. I don’t recommend it to people with a casual interest in watches. You need to inform yourself and be aware of junk, fakes, aftermarket parts, disreputable sellers, poorly serviced movements and basket-cases, franken-watches cobbled from parts, etc. Today’s buyers have the advantage of reams of information available online for just about any marque. If you have an interest in a particular brand or model, start researching. You’ll be amazed at how much information you can find on websites, blogs and forums. You’ll also be amazed by how many horror stories are out there, which is good fodder for learning from the mistakes of others. It helps to find a reputable brick and mortar store that deals in pre-owned and vintage watches; if you build a relationship with a knowledgeable retailer you will be much less likely to get burned. You will also want to find a good watchmaker with a lot of experience, as it is inevitable that you will need to get your pieces serviced. Having a good watchmaker at your disposal can make the process much less painful and far less expensive.
Hublot offers the collection in matte ceramic cases which is really neat. So these cases aren't just colored metal. Metal comes in for the screws (which are titanium) and the pusher which have steel and rubber. I thought it was interesting that even the case backs of the watches were ceramic.
Small seconds disc on the bi-axial tourbillon, Power reserve indicated by 11 sapphires and 6 citrines
2011 saw both super high-tech and decidedly retro watches from Tag Heuer. The most retro of which was probably this "re-issue" Monza. The Monza came back briefly in 2003 with an updated look using the traditional cushion case. For 2011 original look from the 1930s is back. There is no hiding that this is a retro-themed timepieces. It doesn't attempt to be "classic," by instead to offer a look from times long past, in today's quality and materials.
The Black Frog is based on the HM3 Frog that came out last year. I discussed the piece more in this article. It is a variation on the MB&F HM3 that features two large domes under sapphire crystal that rotate to tell the hours and minutes. Being extremely popular, MB&F has been continually asked by fans to expand on the HM3 Frog theme. This newest one is probably the coolest Frog so far in my opinion (though I did really like the Chocolate Frog a lot).
How does one measure how much a watch costs to produce? A trained eye will keenly look at quality and materials to know how much work went into it. Others will simply have to trust brands that tend to garner a positive reputation, and visit sources like this (aBlogtoRead.com) that regularly discusses and covers what to look for in a watch, and what to avoid. You can always even ask a retailer (try to maintain such interrogation to highly expensive watches) a few questions that will shed light on the situation. Ask them the cost of manufacturing the watch (if they don't know then have them guess). Only the "best" sales people will lie to your face. You can also ask not only where the movement was produced and assembled, but also the watch case and other components. Parts make in Europe are generally much more expensive to make than in Asia.
It feels as though Van Cleef & Aprels couldn't decide how much Jules they wanted in the Les Voyages watches. As they use many highly talented female artists on the creation of the dial, there is a distinct feminine twist to these watches. It is possible though that I am looking for more techie stuff as I am of the Star Wars and video game generation. Speaking of the dials, they are stunning in their design and construction. Using engraved gold, mother of pearl, paillonne enamel, and other materials such as precious stones - the dials are created each by hand in a lush three-dimensional style. Few if any one in the world can rival Van Cleef & Arpel's techniques and executions.
-Has excellent, thickly coated SuperLumiNova lume
-Is 500 meters water resistant
-Has an automatic helium release valve.
-Has a very nicely operating rotating diver's bezel that is covered with a sharp looking sapphire crystal
-Is optimized for shock with its Trip-Tick case construction
-Has a well-done anti-reflective coated sapphire crystal
-Has a COSC Chronometer certified ETA 2836-2 automatic Swiss movement
-Is solid and well-made, and looks damn good in the process
I call it my "baby Lange" (referring of course to high-end watch maker A. Lange & Sohne - which is also located in Germany), this watch is characteristically like many conservative looking Teutonic watches with a "traditional" sensibility to them. It is very easy to read, pleasing to the eyes, and like I said above, not trying to be anything "fancy." I wouldn't call it boring though. Nivrel's placement of the crown at 2 o'clock, and the asymmetrical position of the subsidiary seconds dial mixes the design up 'just enough' to prevent the watch from being generic.
I love the size (and width) of the case at 45.70mm. Like I keep saying, the best thin watches are wide watches. The case is light and done in titanium with typical Richard Mille "spline" screws. Like I said, it was an impressive task to retain the iconic Richard Mille case architecture while trying to flatten it. Even the sides of the case have that nice inset look I have come to appreciate the the finely cut titanium on Richard Mille timepieces. In addition to the shown titanium version, the RM 033 will also be available in 18k red gold or 18k white gold.