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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Valentine's Day suggestion...Lange Saxonia Automatic

What to get your significant other for Valentines? How about the magnificent Lange Saxonia?

OK, so perhaps not possible for this Valentine's as the watch is not yet available in the stores...but its a nice excuse to introduce this beautiful piece.

Of course, I am assuming your Valentine is a lady...if it happens to be a gentleman, there are many options possible on this blog...:-)

Beautiful Saxonia, with diamonds on the bezel, and a transluscent white mother of pearl dial.

And of course...the movement is typical Lange...beautifully crafted and finished. Click on image below for a wallpaper sized image.

Friday, January 27, 2012

SIHH 2012: A. Lange & Sohne novelties

Lange novelties for SIHH 2012 revealed.

This year's SIHH lacks real horological punch. Yes, there were many beautiful timepieces being shown, but no horologically exciting developments. Many were revisions of golden oldies.

Audemars Piguet celebrated their 40th anniversary of their Royal Oak and showed many new and very beautiful pieces. Vacheron Constantin revised their Malte line, making them even more elegant. Richard Mille showed an watch which is tagged to sell at US$1.7Million, whose case is sapphire glass and frankly reminds me of the watches made by Hong Kong company Toy Watch.

And Lange also revised some of their golden oldies. But, as is typical of Lange, there are some interesting twists.

Guests getting excited trying out the novelties at the LOG hosted presentation during the show.

The A. Lange & Sohne booth was interestingly decorated this year. A immensely huge watch adorns the reception announcing the arrival of the new Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar. To many who attended the show this year, this was "The Watch of the Show". More later.

And inside, they brought a piece of Germany right into Switzerland...

A 3.5 ton piece of rock, from the Ore Mountains where Glashutte had its industrial start some 170 years ago adorns the sitting area. In the picture above, behind the rock, next to the group of people having a discussion (brownie points if you can recognise who those people are) is a bar...and in addition to serving champagne, coke, coffes, they also have a station serving Radeberger...the beer from Saxony, vom fass...from the tap for a nice refreshing draught beer. And pretzels. Nice touch.

I have covered the monumental rework of the new Datograph Auf/Ab in the earlier unveiling article when I spent some time photographing and getting close and personal to the new Datograph Ab/Auf, so I won't cover that in any detail.

So let me start with the groundbreaking new Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar.

Magnificent looking watch. At first glance, looks like a Lange Daymatic...the automatic version of the Lange 1 with the time dial on the left, so it peeks out of the sleeve to reveal the time. But wait...there is an added dial around the main dial. This is the Month dial, which moves instantaneously at the end of every month, jumping one click do all the other day/date indicators...all jump instantaneously. At 9 o'clock one spies the day of week indicator. And of course the outsized date. Beautiful, elegant. Uncrowded...and perpetual calendar too.

The size is slightly 41.9mm...very slightly up from the regular 38.5mm on the Lange 1 or 39.5mm on the Daymatic. But as seen above on my wrist, it is a nice fit.

The movement, is of course, pure Lange...

Click on the image above to see the wall paper sized 1920 pixel wide photograph to appreciate the details of the movement.

Magnificently finished in traditional Glashutte style. Finishing is a hallmark of Lange watches, and after photographing thousands of watches, not many will stand to the scrutiny of the high magnification photography that I do. Magnified from 30 to 100 times its original size, in print, every flaw becomes visible. But even at this magnification, I remain always impressed with the finishing of Langes. I would venture to say that it is the best finish I have seen in a industrial production watch...meaning almost all watches you see in the market today, safe a few hand made examples done in small quantities by the master (one such example is the Dufour Simplicity).

In the Lange, everything is magnificently finished. Anglage is beautifully executed. Glashutte ribbing perfect. Bridges are laid out in an aestetically pleasing manner. The beautiful, relief rotor is arresting to the eye. The blued screws, chatons, and the hidden tourbillon...only visible from the back for that extra bit of discreteness is resplendent. And the wonderfully hand engraved cocks which hold the tourbillon is very nice.

Not only is the new Caliber L082.1 beautiful to the eye, it is also technically amazing. Not satisfied with the regular perpetual calendar...the old design used in almost all perpetual calendar watches (including Lange's Langematic Perpetual) is discarded as the module would add thickness to the movement. The Lange design team of Tony de Haas and Tino Bobe came up with an ingenious idea of a totally integrated perpetual calendar.

One which not only lives on the outer perimeter of the movement, but also features instaneously jumping of all indications (except moon phase). And one which is programmed to go from last day of the month to the first day of the following month without intervening numbers...for eg Nov 30 at midnight will jump to Dec 1, and not show Nov 31...which many perpetual calendars (including said Langematic Perpetual and Datograph Perpetual as they use the same calendar module) will do. Also on leap years, the display will jump instaneously at the stroke of midnight from Feb 28 to Mar 1. The only other perpetual calendar I am aware of which does that is the flash calendar from H. Moser's Perpetual 1.

The perpetual calendar also brings to mind an interesting anecdote...during the unveiling of the Langematic Perpetual in 2001, I was unimpressed with the dial layout of the Langematic Perpetual. I expressed this to Gunter Blumlein. Too common...too similar to the Patek 3940, I said to him. I challenged to make a perpetual calendar, but to have it in a Lange 1. "Impossible", he declared...and went on to explain why technically it is impossible to do so. But yet, today in Geneva on SIHH 2012, Lange unveils the Lange 1 with a perpetual calendar. Bravo Tony! Bravo Tino! You have done what was impossible in 2001...and Blumlein is surely smiling as he looks down from his resting place.

But wait, that is not I entered the SIHH booth, I was caught by Wilhelm Schmidt...CEO of ALS...he pulled his sleeve and showed me his watch...he grinned..."new watch"...I looked at it and I said..."um...old watch...its a Lange 1". He grinned even more widely and said, "no, new watch"...

I said again, staring at the watch..." Lange 1"...when he broke out..."its the new Grande Lange 1"! The proportions were beautiful...looked exactly like the old Lange 1.

I consider this a triumph in the redesign. The original Grande Lange 1 was wrought with criticism. The movement was not enlarged...merely the case and dial was bigger. As a result of the enlarged dial, the pivots where the indicators were anchored in the center of the dial. To relieve the cramped center, the designers did the unspeakable...they overlayed the subdials within the Lange 1...breaking the design code which created the Lange overlapping indication. Despite that, the watch had its supporters.

In this redesign, Lange did not take the easy way out. The doppelfederhaus...double mainspring was replaced with a thinner mainspring, giving a power reserve of 72 hours instead of 96 hours...still very respectable. The case is enlarged from the regular Lange 1 to 40.9mm, though reduced from the former Grande Lange 1 which was 41.9mm, but more importantly, much thinner at 8.8mm.

The dial layout now is supremely well balanced, and invokes the feel of the original Lange 1...hence my failure to recognise it when I first saw it. The outsized date is now enlarged. The overlapping dials are gone. Perfect.

The Lange 1 and Saxonia Thin will also now be available in white gold, but otherwise no major change.

In conclusion, I think this has been a great year for Lange. A year of evolution instead of revolution. A year where they re-looked at their classics and very successfully updated them. Enlarged the Datograph. Reduced the size of the Grande Lange 1, and reworked a new perpetual calendar in the Lange 1 format, complete with stop second tourbillon. And such magnificently finished products. Well designed. Great year Lange. Cheers to more.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Closer look at Leica S2, Summarit-S 120 and Kari Voutilainen Vingt-8

Sample photographs with the Leica S2 and APO MACRO SUMMARIT-S 1:2,5/120 mm: Kari Voutilainen Vingt-8.

Following up on last Friday's remarks using DeBethune's remarkable DB25T as an example, today's post I use the same combination on the Voutilainen Vingt8 (28). Also photographed in L'Atelier by The Hour Glass using my usual set-up.

I have featured the Vingt-8 before. As I described earlier, this is a magnificent watch.

As mentioned in Tuesday's post, the APO MACRO SUMMARIT-S 1:2,5/120 mm only does images to half size. However the sensor size is very large (almost the same size as the one in my regular Hasselblad H3d-39), and for web use, there is plenty of room for crop. Here are some cropped images.

The establishment shot...showing the whole back of the movement. This is a cropped image.

Click on the images for a 1920 wide desktop wallpaper image.

The movement is designed and manufactured by Kari Voutilainen...a Finnish watchmaker who has made his home in Motiers...a little village just a few minutes away from Fleurier in the Swiss Jura.

Note the amount of detail captured by the Leica. I also loved the way contrasts are rendered. And the colour is almost perfect out of the box. These images are jpegs straight out of the camera, stacked using Helicon Focus, and minor adjustments and cropping made in Photoshop CS4.

Also note the magnificent balance bridge, like old timers used to do for tourbillons. I would have preferred a tapered rounded bridge like those used in Lange's Pour le Merite Tourbillons, but Kari's example is very nice as well. Next week, I explore the Leica S2 in interiors, when I shoot with Chris Lee at MalMaison by The Hour Glass.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gong Xi Fa Cai...

May the year of the Water Dragon bring you happiness, prosperity and health.

The Water Dragon Object d'Art by Parmigiani Fleurier

Friday, January 20, 2012

Closer look at Leica S2, Summarit-S Makro: Debethune DB25T

Sample photographs with the Leica S2 and APO MACRO SUMMARIT-S 1:2,5/120 mm: The Debethune DB25T.

Following up on my walkabout impressions of the quite remarkable Leica S2, here are some photographs I made in L'Atelier by The Hour Glass using my usual set-up.

I have featured the Db25T before, it is a remarkable watch. I particularly love the jumping seconds hand, and the beautiful Caliber 2109 with the magnificent bridge especially for the seconds morte mechanism.

With the APO MACRO SUMMARIT-S 1:2,5/120 mm, the largest aperture is f/2.5...a rather wide aperture for a macro lens. This, and the maximum magnification of half size leads me to believe that Leica intended this lens more as a portrait lens than a true macro lens.

Most macro work is done with the lens stopped down. Almost all my work is done at f/11 or f/16. This is due to the fact that when you close focus a lens, its depth of field is narrower than focussing at a distance. To get a larger depth of field, macro photographers have to use advanced and complex techniques like focus stacking.

The Summarit S focusses only to 1:2, meaning a half live size image of the object can be formed at the sensor. This limits watch photography to shooting the entire watch. Doing extreme macros like I often do in Watchscapes requires up to 2X magnification, and cannot be attempted with the Leica.

However, I find the lens to be superb. Beautiful sharpness. Excellent rendering of details. And very nice contrast. The lens also draws beautifully...the bokeh is nice and creamy. The MTF of the lens reads like it was taken straight out from theory. The charts are spectacular and truly testament to Leica's capabilities to perfect glass.

Click on the images for a 1920 wide desktop wallpaper image.

The movement...magnificent, beautiful. Stylised shield shaped bridge is very beautiful. And the jumping seconds bridge in blued titanium is certainly very nice.

And a 3/4 oblique view

More next week.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Girard Perreguax La Esmeralda: historically important watch

Up close and personal with the Girard Perregaux Esmeralda, pocket watch with three golden bridges.

I reported on the remake of the famous Tourbillon with 3 golden bridges pocket watch some time ago during the exhibition of the GP treasures in Singapore.

What I did not say then, was I was privillaged to be allowed to handle and photograph the historically important Girard Perregaux "La Esmeralda"...the original, historical pocket watch with 3 golden bridges.

Girard Perregaux no. 168230, "La Esmeralda" is a historically important watch for GP, the 3 golden bridges and tourbillons. This particular watch had won awards at the Neuchatel Observatory from 1865 to 1890. The watch was eventually sold to President Porfirio Diaz of Mexico and purchased back by GP from the Dias family in 1973.

The watch is magnificently decorated...both the massive hunter case and the movement are heavily engraved.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Double Tourbillon Skeleton

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Skeleton Double Tourbillon. Interesting watch.

I was commissioned to photograph this watch for Revolution Magazine. The final approved photographs appeared in Revolution Asia 28. The electronic version is available for free download of Revolution magazine issue 28 here. I photographed the watch with my trusty Hasselblad H3D-39 with the HC 4/120 macro. But I also brought the little GH-2 with the Panasonic-Leica 45mm f/2.8 lens. This is a dimunitive fellow, compared to the Hasselblad...but I fitted the Profoto Air Sync onto it, and started shooting with 2 Profoto D1 lights, one fitted with a 2x3 softbox, and the other with just a reflector.

The results, I must say, I am reasonably pleased. The Panasonic MFT system can deliver fairly good quality. I might not use it for print, maybe small prints are ok. Actually I will have another 6 page spread in a Swiss magazine which will feature a stacked image made with the GH2 appearing as a double page spread. But in general, I will reserve the Hasselblad for the larger prints...but for the web, they are not bad. Not bad at all.

Here is a selection from the shoot. These are out-takes, and not part of the commission.

Establishment shot...with whole watch...tilted for a bit of drama...

Note, the dust on the watch...this is a customer watch, owned and worn...not a prestine manufacturer photo example. Typically for a magazine shoot, the watch is cleaned with microfibre cloth and blue tack, and whatever dust that is still left on the watch will be touched out by the DI artist. For this commission, the art direction called for only watchcape styled movement shots, and it was not critical to clean up the case as it would not appear in the photograph.

The double tourbillons...the earlier, non skeleton model has the tourbillons spinning in different directions...but this one, they were both going clockwise...a bit less interesting, but nonetheless mesmerising.

Click here for a wallpaper sized image. (1920px by 1080px)

Perhaps stretching a bit on artistic license, using a larger aperture to create shallow depth of field. I kind of like this you?

And a closeup look. Uncropped image of a single tourbillon at 2X magnification, the highest possible with the PL45 on the MFT body.

Note the tourbillon cage is black polished, and in this case, I had set up the soft box to be over the watch, causing the box to be reflected by the black polished steel to show the nice finish.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Revolution Asia 28

Revolution issue Asia 28 is out now.

I have a 6 page spread of photographs inside.

Go here to download your free copy.

Extreme macros of the Double page spread of the Roger Dubuis Exclabut Double Tourbillon, full page Laufet Ferrier Gallet Tourbillon, full page Jaeger LecouLtre Gyrotourbillon and double page spread of the Gruebel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Store Visit: Malmaison by The Hour Glass

Store Visit: Malmaison by The Hour Glass: Emporium Extronaire

The Malmaison by The Hour Glass is not quite fact, it opened its doors just after SIH 2011...almost a year ago. But the store continues to amaze me. This is a veritable temple of luxury, conceived and created by Hour Glass's intrepid Executive Director Michael Tay.

It holds many treasures...many many treasures. From wrist watches, where the company cut its proverbial is the inner sanctum, where the high end brands reside...

To the incredibly interesting men's store within the store:

Carrying a wide selection of high end men's from Pierre Corthay

Shirts and ties from Charvet and suits from Rubinacci:

And books...

Observe the copy of Modernist Cuisine, by the erstwhile Nathan Myhrvold and team...a superb testament to the taste and quality offered in this store. Ties by Charvet, and socks by Corthay also adorn the table.

And the leadin to the men's store, stands guard an enormous Griffin:

To its right, the Rolex boutique, and to its left, the Patek Philippe mini-store.

Upstairs, bespoke perfume and artistic jewellery is offered:

And a small book corner, offering the best of art books

I spy a copy of my own book on the top left of the photograph. Indeed this is the only retail outlet for my book in the world.

Beautiful, magnificent store. Conceptually brilliant, and probably the first in the world to offer such refined works of artisans in one roof.

Photonote: This series of photographs is shot with my GH-2 while on-site to do a more elaborate photoshoot with the Leica S2. The Leica photographs will be released later as part of the Leica S2 be done in collaboration with ace photographer Christopher Lee...seen here peeking out from one corner behind the S2.

Friday, January 6, 2012

H. Moser Perpetual 1 and Tsar's Eagle Mayu

I'd like to present some of the watches made by Moser. The Perpetual 1, which I have covered before in a bit detail is still one of the most outstanding perpetual calendars in production.

Seen on here on the wrist of my good friend Eddie

Also available with a fancy dial...rose gold case

Also, a watch made for the Tsar...pocket watch with his photograph on the dial

And a tribute watch made by Moser...the Mayu with Tasrs Eagle:

And a closer look at the pocket watch's bejewelled engraved back.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Parmigiani Fleurier Pershing Openwork Tourbillon

Parmigiani Fleurier Pershing Tourbillon

One of the watches which caught my jaded eyes last year (2011) was the Parmigiani Fleurier Pershing Tourbillon with open work dial. Beautifully finished, fully in-house production (movement, dial, case, finishing all done within the company)

Parmigiani is an amazing company. Started by watchmaking genius Michel Parmigiani some 30 years ago when he became independent, the brand Parmigiani Fleurier is much younger...started 12 years ago, with the support of the Sandoz Foundation, the brand is the central to a theme of being totally independent. A full manufacture, with facilities to make components like screws, levers, springs to a full casemaking factory, a complete dial manufacture, and movement creations manufacture, the company is becoming truly independent.

This particular watch plays on the iron fist in velvet glove flavour which so intrigues me. A strong, rugged case capable of 200m of water resistance protecting a tourbillon which traditionally is used to show the watchmaker's virtuosity and typically not rugged. I love watches which show this juxtaposition.

The watch is quite magnificent. The fully in-house manufactured movement features the Caliber 511, manually wound watch, with open work pvd main plate and bridges and a 30 second tourbillon. The movement has a power reserve of 1 week.

Both the front and back of the watch shows off the beautifully finished movement. I particularly love the gleaming tourbillon bridge's jewel and the intricate of patterns of the bridges fully visible under the sapphire dial.

Though measuring some 45mm in diameter and sitting about 14.2mm high, the Pershing Open Work Tourbillon sits comfortably on my wrists.

Available in palladium case with rubber strap with deployant buckle as shown limited to 30 pieces, or in 18k rose gold with Hermes aligator strap also limited to 30 pieces, or in palladium with diamond bezel and rubber bracelet in an edition size of 10 pieces.