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Friday, March 29, 2013

Movement abstracts

Series of ultra macros...abstractions

Today I will feature a watch from Roman Gautier...the Logical 1...but only abstract images. The full watch will be shown on Monday.

Click on image above for 1920 wide full screen wallpaper.

Note: Watches (one in gold, another in platinum) photographed are prototypes, and have been travelling the world shown to collectors. The platinum prototype is actually a plated brass case, and because of a missing screw, is not moving. Also the winding mechanism, a very special system using pushers to wind the watch, is not working yet...and still under development.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Art of Breguet: The magnificent dials

Abraham Louis Breguet is the father of modern watchmaking...almost all the timekeeping innovations have been either invented, worked on, or perfected by this great man himself. Today, the Breguet company, under the mighty Swatch Group continues in this tradition. I am very partial to their dial design and execution, which to me is the best example of guilloche design and execution in the business.

Today's piece is no different...The 5327BR, Perpetual Calendar. Magnificently done...beautiful in almost every aspect...the dial is so harmoniously designed, it just falls into place, and though it may sound corny, the most apt description which comes to mind is beautiful. It just is.

Click on image above for 1920 wide full screen wallpaper.

Sober, elegant, magnificently detailed...the dial, hands, numerals, case just speak of the beauty.

The movement is not to be outdone...a off centered rotor, generously decorated with detailed hand engraving...though to my eyes, a bit over the top outlandish in the amount of engraving...but testament to the amount of skilled work which went into this watch.

Friday, March 22, 2013

MB&F HM4 Final Edition

MBF...enigmatic, provocative. But always with an edge and a story to tell. Max Busser himself is full of energy, and creativity. I covered the HM4 series with interest in these pages, and we now come to the concluding episode of this outrageous timepiece.

I am amazed by Max's creativity. A small change here, a twist there, and the entire watch is changed. This time, just a small change to the bezel, from round to square, changes the look completely. Now looking like the instrument panel from an aircraft...

Click on image above for 1920 wide full screen wallpaper.

Same movement, almost the same case...but a bezel redesign, the HM4 looks totally like a new watch...I can see how some who love the original HM4 may want to buy another because the watch looks so different.

The movement side...still looking good

And a wrist shot...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

UN The Freak 10th Anniversary

Time flies...tempus fugit. Its already 10 years since a watch was introduced at the shocked Basel World and called "The Freak".

The late Rolf Schnyder, a great innovator and provocateur if there ever was one in the watchmaking industry, introduced the Freak to a mesmerised crowd in 2003. I was among the crowd that day, walking away intrigued.

Even though the bridges which form the hands of this Anniversary Freak is black, somehow, in this photograph it catches the flash, and comes out whitish. The colour in the other photographs are more representative of the black bridges.

The mechanism was incredibly simple, and complicated at the same time...something that only a mind like Oeschlin can dream of. There was no crown.
Setting of the time was done directly by turning the bezel. Winding was done by turning the rear bezel.
The movement, so to speak lived on the hands...the entire wheel train traverses the dial on the minute hand...intriguing. The stylised bridge shapes, seeming organic, dancing, ever playful.

Click on image above for 1920 wide full screen wallpaper.

Over the years, we have grown familiar with the Freak. And on this 10th anniversary, UN unleashed a special edition for The Hour Glass...all black plates. Intriguing.

For the first time, the words Freak, appears on the watch, engraved on the locking plate for the timesetting function on the bezel.

Art of Casemaking

We continue our journey in the Parmigiani blog on the manufactures within the manufacture of Parmigiani. Now we come to one of the few exceptional manufactures who actually make their own watch cases.

Click here for my article on LAB for casemaking in the Parmigiani blog

Friday, March 15, 2013

Art of the Turn

Some weeks ago, I started a series of articles on the Parmigiani blog on the manufactures within the manufacture of Parmigiani. I started exploring the concept of a true manufacture and then began with Atokalpa. This week we explore Elwin, a very special manufacture within the Parmigiani group.

Click here for my article on Elwin in the Parmigiani blog

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Paris Exposition: Some icons

Ah Paris...City of Lights...Most romantic and perhaps beautiful of the world's capital. I begin a series to explore the standards of the Parisian life, as well as a few surprises. This post will start with 3 of the icons.

The most iconic...the Eiffel Tower.

And then the Louvre, a panorama. Click on the image for a 1920 pixel wide image. An even larger one measuring 4228 pixels wide is available on request. Please email. And as usual, full sized prints are available as well. Please enquire by email. The panoramic image below will print to approx 3.5m wide in full resolution.

And perhaps a bit unusual...though easy access through the rooftop of the famous Gallerie Lafayette.

More on this series over the coming weeks.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Something special is coming...from the hydro specialists: HYT


Sneak preview for what's coming for the 2013 BaselWorld. A word from one of our sponsors HYT. Also, click on the HYT panel on the left and visit their website.

Friday, March 8, 2013

GTE 2013: Antoine Martin Quantieme Perpetual Tourbillon

Continuing on small manufacturers showing at GTE, I met up with my old friend Martin running and operating Antoine Martin.

He showed me an incredible watch, with a gorgeous humongous balance wheel...but pictures and more details will have to wait, as he will show it at BaselWorld 2013. In the meantime, I will show his Quantieme Perpetual Tourbillon, which quite captures my imagination...

Beautiful, huge tourbillon with a large balance...some 14mm in diameter. The watch has a teutonic feel...afterall Martin is German, and sits very nicely on the wrist

A mood shot of the lovely tourbillon

Martin Braun himself...

Watch this space after BaselWorld 2013 for the news of his new watch, with the huge escapement and balance which he will announce then.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

GTE 2013: Heritage Watch Manufactory's Tensus

Taking place at the same time, in the same city as the SIHH is the Geneva Time Exhibition...GTE...a collection of sometimes interesting group of watchmakers, often smaller manufactures and independents who take advantage of the big SIHH show to draw crowds who are already in Geneva. Starting 1 day earlier, on a Sunday, when most journalists, enthusiasts and even retailers arrive a day early to recover from jet lag. I will feature a couple of pieces which seem interesting to me.

The first of 2 from a small manufacture: Heritage Watch Manufactory. This is the Tensus, which won the 2012 Superwatch award at GTE last year. Case and dial designed by Eric Giroud, with an independent manufacture Cal880 movement

Interesting 3/4 plate movement with engraving

The movement has a frosted finish, and the plates are nicely anglaged

The design features twin barrels and a constant force escapement, triple anchor escapement with double escape wheel.

The balance wheel is quite large, measuring 16mm in diameter, beating at 18,000 bph.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Soma Double Cross Disc

We take a short break from watches, having covered all the watches shown in SIHH2013 that interest me. And return to my bike photographs...a developing interest due to my interest in cycling.

Today's feature is my new cyclocross bike...built carefully with lots of research. I originally wanted a titanium frame, but an unpleasant incident with Lynskey caused me to rethink, and I decided to go the steel is real route.

The final plan I guess is still to return to a custom titanium frame, but to try out the concept of using a cross style bike for go everywhere riding, including pacelines, group rides, PCN and a bit of light touring, a steel frame is an inexpensive place to start. I knew I wanted disc brakes, and the ability to put on panniers and fenders, and for the forks to be able to run fat tyres, up to 38mm, though I would probably run them mainly on 28 or 32.

The search narrowed the candidates to Salsa, Surly and Soma. While the Surly Long Haul Disc Trucker is a champion tourer, the geometry is too touring for my liking, and I didn't really like the looks. The Salsa Doublecheck is a strong candidate, but I didn't like the fact that Salsa would not divulge what kind of tubes they use to make the frame. Whilst, Soma proudly proclaims the tubing is Tange Prestige, double butted. While welding is done in Taiwan, as is the Tange factory now, I understand, I find the welds flawless and the paintwork very nice indeed. Not Baum, or even Pegoretti nice of course, but nice enough.

The gold chain is from Ti-N, titanium nitride coating which according to KMC who makes the chain, shifts smoother and lasts longer. I chose this instead of the standard Campagnolo 11 speed chain because it also features a missing link chain breaker, allowing one to remove and reinstall the chain with a chain breaker tool.

The component set was easy to decide. Campagnolo, of course. And the highest level groupset with alloy components is the Athena 11, so that was decided. I also rode the Athena 11 on the Zullo MaxSilenus, and it was a superb groupset.

The Hope V-Twin uses conventional cables from the shifters into this small hydraulic master cylinder, shaped like a V, hence the name. From this master cylinder, hydraulic lines carry the brake control over to Hope's proven X-2 brake calipers. Very powerful brakes, with superior modulation.

For braking, I decided to try out the new hydraulic braking offered by a few vendors for drop bar configured bikes. I originally wanted the TRP Parabox, but my bike builder...who did the fantastic build job, recommended Hope, and the V-twin looked fantastic, was used in the Aston Martin bike built by Factor001, so I went for it. The rotors are Shimano IceTech 160mm for both front and rear.

The wheelset, which is actually the second most important component in a bicycle after the frame selection...though less glamourous than the grouppo was also rather easily selected. I had the Ambrosio Nemesis, the Stan's XTR and Velocity A23 as final candidates. Again, the input from Patrick the bike builder swayed me towards the A23. Hub choice was a bit easier to decide, as there were only 2 candidates offering 11 speed Campy freewheel with disc brakes. Chris King's told me they would have an offering by mid year 2013, but when I started the build, nothing was available. So it was either DT Swiss or White Industries. I decided to do White because of the excellent feedback, and also DT Swiss needed an adapter, while the new CX11 rear hub from WI was engineered specifically for Campy 11 speed discs. For the front, I used the WI MI6. Spokes were Phil Wood spokes laced 3x on the 32 hole rims/hubs for a very strong wheelset.

The rest of the components also fell in place easily...I didn't want any carbon components, so alloy only. I selected 3T for the bars, as I love the feel of their Ergonova. To match, it was 3T for the stem...100mm. In the pictures, I have the MOST 100mm stem, a carbon lightweight one from a friend as I am waiting for my 3T stem to arrive. And the 3T seatpost to match. Headset, seatclamp and skewers are all Hope. Brooks leather was used as bartape as well as an older B17 saddle pressed into service to complete this build.

Tyres on the bike now is the Panaracer Stradius Extreme. In some of the pictures, I had an old, tired Panaracer with brown sidewalls, which promptly punctured in the first ride. So these were swapped out for the Stradius Extreme. I also have on order Continental Gatorskin 32...though the Grand Bois Extra Leger 32 is calling my name. I will try these later. The Stradius Extreme are supposed to be 23mm race tyres, but on the Velocity A23 rims, they actually measure 26mm at 110psi pressure. Very comfortable, even at 110psi. Nice, reasonably supple, but of course no match for the Baum's Veloflex Extreme tubulars, or the Zullo's FMB Competition CX Silk tubulars, both of those running latex tubes, whilst the Soma is running standard Butyl tubes. The tyres are slick, and grip in dry and wet is very good.

How does it ride? My first ride out with the Soma, I couldn't wipe the grin off my face. The ride was ultra smooth. The bike was not as stiff, or fast as the Baum Coretto, a bike already featured in these pages, and cost 5 times more than the Soma. Though the Baum is titanium and the Soma steel, I find the Soma ride to be smoother. The White Industries hubs were also very butter...albeit a lot more quiet than the Tune on the Baum. Now, coasting on the bike will not warn pedestrians ahead that a bike is coming...the Tune is very loud and one can do without a bell on the PCNs.

The Athena 11 works like a charm...even coming from the superlative Super Record EPS 11 on the Baum, working the gears on the Athena was still fun...though changing from the small ring to the large ring takes a lot more effort than on the EPS. But considering the price differential, the Athena is better value for money.