Watchuseek Blog

Monday, October 31, 2011

Live and Let Bid: James Bond’s Rolex Submariner up for Auction

The customised Rolex Submariner worn by Roger Moore as James Bond in 1973’s Live and Let Die is being offered at Christie’s Important Watches sale in Geneva on Nov. 14. Expected to fetch up to about $450,000, it’s the most famous 007 Rolex as it was designed to incorporate several special features by Q Branch.

The timepiece’s two most notable tools were the hyper intensified magnetic field powerful enough to deflect the path of a bullet even at a long range – plus unzip a Bond girl’s gown to boot – and a rotating buzz saw bezel, both used by Bond at climatic instants in the movie.

The inside case back is signed Roger Moore 007, and it comes complete with two framed black and white prints showing Moore wearing the watch. Designed by the film’s art director Syd Cain, the watch is a modified 1972 model. At the beginning of the movie Bond uses it to unzip Miss Caruso’s (Madeline Smith) dress.

When she comments on the delicacy of his touch, he replies, “Sheer magnetism, darling”. While the watch no longer has a movement as it was removed to allow the customisation, it’s sure to draw fierce bidding from collectors.

The Rolex still has its original bracelet but it also carries proof that the hyper magnetic field was not real: a pinhole from which a fine thread was connected to Smith’s dress zipper to help the secret agent pull it down.

The lot will be sold together with an original construction drawing and two signed images from the set The bidding estimate is expected to be in the SFr. 200,000 - 400,000 region ($230,000 and $450,000.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

London bound: Girard Perregaux Cabinet de Curiosités Thomas Erber Limited Edition watch

At the upcoming Cabinet de Curiosités annual luxury event in London, Girard Perregaux will introduce the new version of its World Wide Time Control ( automatic timepiece. Called Girard-Perregaux Cabinet de Curiosités Thomas Erber, the redesigned watch will be limited to just five individually numbered pieces.

For the occasion, Girard-Perregaux’s has opted for a style based on contrasts. It is housed for the first time in a white ceramic case that sets off the black rubber coating of the crowns and push pieces. The Manufacture has also chosen a smoked sapphire glass, making this Cabinet de Curiosités 2011 edition series just that little bit more unusual.

Simply red

The sapphire glass reveals the white dial and the model’s functions. Red hands are used to draw attention to the chronograph’s second hand and the divisions of the three counters, as well as to highlight London – where the event will be held – on the ring indicating the cities.

On the case-back, the tinted sapphire glass displays the self-winding Girard-Perregaux GP03387 movement, specially created for the WW.TC collection.
It combines simultaneous display of the date, small second and world time zones with a fly-back chronograph. 

Besides telling time in your current time zone, the watch also displays the same information for your home town. The data is presented in a 24-hour format, but there’s a day/night indication on the GMT disc. The WW.TC uses the 24-hour disc slowly rotating so that the hour hand tells you time in both zones.

A showcase for talented creators

Every year, Thomas Erber’s Cabinet de Curiosités provides a showcase for talented creators characterised by their unique know-how and their independence. The idea is that luxury is redefined by regularly offering unique or very limited edition pieces. 

Following a successful career in journalism, Thomas Erber is now an international consultant for a number of brands and designers. His first Cabinet de Curiosités took place in December 2010 at Colette in Paris. The second is to be held at Browns, the oldest concept store in London, from November 21st - December 23rd 2011.

The watch, assuming you can pull off a small miracle and obtain one of the five models being released, will retail at £17,900 + VAT (US$28,848).


Case material: white ceramic (inner titanium shell), bezel in steel and white ceramic. Push pieces and crowns covered in black rubber.
Diameter: 43.00 mm
Height: 13.54 mm case-back: black dLc-coated titanium closed with 6 screws, tinted sapphire glass
Water resistance: 10 Atm
Movement: Girard-Perregaux GP03387 movement
Mechanical with automatic winding
Calibre: 13’’’
Frequency: 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 hz)
Jewels: 63
Power reserve: minimum 46 hours
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds, world time with day/night indicator, fly-back chronograph, date
Strap: Black rubber
Folding clasp in black DLC-coated titanium
Limited edition of 5 pieces
Reference no: 49820-32-788sFK6a 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Another box office smash: Linde Werdelin Spidolite II

The ultra cool comic style graphics adopted by Linde Werdelin to market their watches are worthy of an animated feature film in themselves, and following on from the phenomenally successful Spidolite, like any good blockbuster, there is now a major new sequel sure to pull in the punters.

It’s the SpidoLite II and it’s staying true to Linde Werdelin’s principles of edgy and innovative design, craftsmanship and advanced case construction.

In fact, it’s the existing Spido case, also found in the SpidoSpeed chronograph, but what has been added is a subsidiary seconds dial at 9 o'clock and a recessed date display at 3 o'clock. 

Unique case construction

The case construction is a unique three piece cylindrical chamber which safely carries the movement and locks on the sapphire crystal case-back while the skeletonised case part securely surrounds the chamber - and dial work.  It consists of two skeletonised layers, seamlessly following the design philosophy of the case and adding depth to the watch when reading the time.

The blued steel hands create a vibrant contrast between the case, dial and strap. “Both versions of the SpidoLite II are monochromatic. The blued steel hands ‘soften’ the look of the watch,” explains Morten Linde.

No room for error

Morten also remarks upon the exacting construction of the case:

 “There is no room for error when producing the watch case and even less room for error when producing the SpidoLite case. Each facet, each angle, and each edge of a facet must be 100% where it should be. If a facet is 0.02mm too wide, an angle is deviated in the slightest, or an edge is not dead straight, The Reef or The Rock won’t hold on.”

Movement designed by Valérien Jaquet

SpidoLite II, described as a three dimensional multi-tiered design experience,  is powered by an LW custom made automatic movement conceived by Valérien Jaquet of the Concepto  manufacture (calibre 2251), clearly visible through the skeletonised dial and the sapphire crystal case-back. The movement bridges have been modified to further reveal the movement and finished with a ‘black gold’ treatment to match the rotor and colour of the case.

Available from November

SpidoLite II will be available in two versions; Titanium and Titanium Anthracite DLC and will be a numbered series starting with series A and limited to just 100 pieces each.

SpidoLite II Titanium and Titanium Anthracite DLC will retail at approximately $13,420 and $13,800 respectively from November 2011.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Master watchmaker George Daniels dies

Dr. George Daniels, Horologist, 1926 - 2011

Master watchmaker  and horologist Dr. George Daniels died on October 21st at his home in England.  He was 85 years old.

George Daniels, who crafted 37 superb haute horology watches entirely by himself, was the inventor of the co-axial escapement, which was eventually purchased by Omega.

His impact on horology is of huge significance and he mentored another of the greatest watchmakers of the modern era, English watchmaker Roger Smith.

Master watchmaker

George Daniels is the only watchmaker to receive the CBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list in 2010, and is the only watchmaker ever to receive the honour of ‘Master Watchmaker, for services to Horology’.

Daniels was one of the few modern watchmakers who could create a watch entirely by hand, including the case and dial. He was a former Master of the Clockmakers' Company of London and had been awarded their Gold Medal, a rare honour.

Born into a poor family in London just two years before the Great Depression, Daniels overcame great odds to become one of the most renowned and respected watchmakers of the past century. Daniels already had an interest in watchmaking when he entered the British army in 1944, a talent which proved useful as he was able to undertake watch repairs for army friends.

On leaving the army in 1947 with a gratuity of £50, which he spent on tools, he managed to get a job as a watch repairer.

Leading Breguet expert

By studying horology at night classes, he became a Fellow of the British Horological Institute. Gradually he became known by some of the top watch dealers and collectors, of his day including Sam Clutton who got him interested in the great French watchmaker Breguet.

Daniels was intrigued by Breguet, so much so that he concentrated on the repair and restoration of his watches for many years. Daniels authored the best known book on the subject in 1969, which was first published in 1975. By the 1960s, Daniels was considered the leading expert on Breguet.

Inventor of Co-axial escapement

After much experimenting, he patented a type of watch escapement called the co-axial escapement, which takes away the necessity to oil the escapement, and has reduced friction to a very low level (since oil produces problems due to thickening). The co-axial escapement has been used by Omega in their highest grade watches since 1999.

In addition to making 37 watches completely by hand, he also made a series of 50 wristwatches with his protégé Roger W. Smith, starting with the Omega basic movement.

Watchmaking, which Daniels wrote and was published in 1981, is considered one of the best books on making watches.

Pushed boundaries of horology

Throughout Dr. Daniels lifetime, he was responsible for creating a collection of watches that have pushed the boundaries of mechanical timekeeping to levels hitherto unseen in English horology for more than 250 years. In designing each of his watches, Dr. Daniels’ motivation for creating his timepieces has always been horological advancement. He was in effect the Steve Jobs of horology.

There are several interesting stories that George Daniels tells about his life and times involved with making watches. In the clip below he recalls the time his mentor Sam Clutton encouraged him to co-author a book on watches.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Return of the Cricket: Vulcain launches new USA distributorship

Le Locle, Switzerland based Vulcain enjoyed significant success in the US in past decades. In 1947 Vulcain presented the world’s first genuinely operational alarm wristwatch in New York. The watch  went on to be worn by President’s Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon and Johnson and became known as the President’s Watch. The same watch also accompanied some notable mountaineering and seagoing expeditions in the 1950s.

New Vulcain models now available in US

In the 50s Vulcain enjoyed a vibrant retail network distributing and promoting Vulcain Watches. The plan is to revive the network and create a new Vulcain USA distribution organisation.

New network to be headed by Mark Wasserman

Mark Wasserman, who is now the President of Vulcain Watches in the USA, Canada and the Caribbean will head the new network backed by brand CEO Bernard Fleury.

Mark Wasserman expressed his approval of the new arrangement:

“I’m delighted with the partnership established with the Manufacture Vulcain. Our new collection, beating to the rhythm of the legendary Cricket alarm caliber, enables us to offer a genuine alternative to the high-end Swiss watches currently available on the market”
The Vulcain collection 

  • 50’s President’s Watch
  • Anniversary Heart
  • The Art of Enamelling
  • Aviator GMT and Dual-Time
Bernard Fleury declared:
“I am looking forward to working with Mark Wasserman and his daughter Sarah...the American market will now be able to find the qualities that forged the legend of Manufacture Vulcain over half a century ago.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Take heart: Frédérique Constant Heart Beat Manufacture GMT Automatic

Frédérique Constant Genève has just introduced its new Heart Beat Manufacture GMT Automatic.

Six models

The new collection includes six models. Each model is a limited edition of 1,888 pieces in stainless steel and 188 pieces in 18k gold. They are powered by the FC-938 movement with a new second time zone functionality.

The Heart Beat Manufacture GMT Automatic calibre measures 30.5mm in diameter and runs in 27 jewels with a 42-hour power reserve.

Heart beat aperture

Each dial has a second time zone counter and day/night indicator at 12 o’clock position, “Heart Beat” aperture at 6 o’clock position, and black oxidised hands. The time zone display is adjusted via the crown: turn clockwise to set both time zones, or counter-clockwise to set only the central hands.

Frédérique Constant first introduced the Heart Beat Collection in 1994. The dial aperture exposing the balance wheel distinguishes mechanical Frédérique Constant watches from their battery-operated counterparts.

Accessible luxury

In 2004, Frédérique Constant joined the select circle of Swiss watch brands that develop and produce movements in-house – a significant achievement for a brand in what is known as the “accessible luxury” segment.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Commando cool: Ralf Tech WRX 'A' Series Hybrid II

Ralf Tech have recently released their new WRX 'A' Series Automatic. The series is the result of two years of joint cooperation between their engineers and the French Navy's specialist combat divers of 'Commando Hubert'.

The WRX 'A' series was developed by RALF TECH with three main objectives:

Accuracy with an RTA001 automatic movement, based on an ETA 2824-2.

Legibility with Swiss C3 SuperLuminova for its hand and markers.

Reliability with 316L surgical stainless steel case construction, and a water-resistance of 500 metres.

Ralf Tech WRX 'A' Series Hybrid II

Now the WRX "A" Hybrid II watch, originally developed for French special forces based in Afghanistan, will become available in November.

The Hybrid II is available in two models "day" and "night". Both are equipped with the exclusive hybrid RTE001 movement and a strengthened crown. The watches are water resistant to 500 metres and equipped with real NATO straps reinforced with leather and a hypoallergenic silicone bracelet.

The Hybrid II is a limited edition of 300 numbered engraved pieces. Price is expected to be around $1,700.00.

A word about Ralf Tech

Ralf Tech is a Franco Swiss brand launched in 1998. Ralf Tech positions itself at the extreme cutting edge of diving watches. The collection is designed by Frank Huyghe in Lajoux, Switzerland. All of the timepieces in the WRX series exceed the ISO 6425 benchmark for dive watches. Ralf Tech also holds the world diving record with an immersion lasting ten hours at 330 metres.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thought for the day: The analogue divide

'Being rich and living among the rich isn't a valid reason to forget the poor.'
Franco Cologni, FHH Chairman, HH Magazine.

As responsibility towards the wider community is beginning to interest luxury watch manufactures, FHH Chairman Mr. Franco Cologni poses the important question ‘what could high-end watch companies do to help the under privileged?’

He considers whether, beyond what they already do, if one Swiss franc were donated by Swiss watch manufactures for every watch sold, how many children could be fed? How many structures could be built? How much medicine could be bought?

One franc is the smallest possible unit for a divide of profits by wealthy Swiss watch manufactures.

Mr. Cologni states: ‘Even one small coin in this vast and needy world, we might then appreciate its power and importance. Were someone to give this consideration, thank you to them. Export statistics could provide the basis for a collective fund. Franc by franc, that's a lot of money and innumerable benefits.’

The objective is to eliminate poverty, hunger and sickness from the world. Not just in the "third world" but wherever difficulties exist. And severe difficulties abound, even in several newly industrialised countries.

Street children, of which there are up to 150 million worldwide, face serious health problems ranging from malnourishment to lack of sleep, to no healthcare, to exposure to the elements. They're also forced into drug dealing and prostitution. We know this, but it's so easy to look lovingly upon a shiny new luxury watch and forget about it.

Despite turmoil in the Eurozone, the Swiss watch industry looks set to enjoy highly favourable levels of profit for this year, and the best quarter of all is just getting underway.

A time for reflection maybe.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Distinctly vintage: Alpina Startimer Classic Automatic Chrono

Alpina has pored through its 1920s and 30s catalogues to seek the the inspiration behind the handsome new Startimer Classic Collection. Alpina were the official supplier of pilot's watches to various air forces during these two decades.

The design is deliberately less sporting than on the original models and are housed inside a stainless steel case. The silvered and elegantly decorated dial now displays chronograph counters at 3 and 9 o'clock, in harmony with the six oversized Arabic numerals.

Founded over a century ago by talented watchmaker and marketeer Gottlieb Hauser, Alpina carries on its tradition of innovation and robust, good quality design.

The Startimer Classic Collection is available with two different calibres; a three-hand automatic version with date (cal AL-525) in a stainless steel case and available with either blackened steel indexes or rose-gold plated indexes.

The second version is the Chrono-Automatic (cal AL-860, pictured) with two chrono-counters, in a stainless steel case and available with either blackened steel indexes or rose-gold plated indexes. In addition, the Chrono-Automatic comes in a special vintage variation with a telemeter indicator on the dial.


Movement: Automatic, AL-860 chronograph calibre, "Côtes de Genève" motif on the rotor, 42-hour power reserve

Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and chronograph

Case: Stainless steel, 44 mm

Sapphire crystal, front and back

Water-resistant to 100 m (10 ATM)

Dial:    Silvered Applied Arabic numerals and luminescent hands
30-minute counter at 3 o'clock

Small seconds at 9 o'clock

Bracelet/Strap: Imitation crocodile brown leather with stainless steel folding clasp

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Soothingly simple: Serie MA

'Life is really very simple, but we insist on making it complicated.'   Confucius
There are tourbillions, double tourbillions, moon phases and perpetual calendars; complications by the score, but sometimes you just want a watch that tells the time.

The new Serie MA, which features the brand’s minimalist design approach comes with a single purpose of thought and construction. An elegant dial with the simplest of hour, minute and second hands sweep across Bauhaus style numerals. At 6 o’ clock there’s a small date aperture – and that’s your lot. Swiss Made, which was founded by Alexander Burhans in 1991, is a watch brand for women and men who can afford the outrageous but prefer the unostentatious.

The brand worships not at the altar of glitter and glamour but at the altar of low-key shapes and impeccable Swiss quality.

The watch (like the Dievas Focal diver) runs on an ETA 2824-2 movement and is available either in blackest black or a crisp clean white dial. The strap is of pure black leather.


Movement: Automatic, ETA 2824-2, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 25
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Movement decoration: N/A
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Power reserve: 38 hours
Case material: Stainless steel, brushed
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 44.00 mm
Lug width: N/A
Case height: N/A
Dial: Black (pictured) or White
Numerals: Arabic
Hour markers: Baton-shaped
Hands: Steel
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black natural leather strap
Crystal: Sapphire
Case back: Screw-down, mineral glass
Price: n/a

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Totally focussed: Dievas Focal dive watch

 With true to form German purpose and application, Dievas Uhren have recently released their version of a dive watch. Not just any dive watch of course, but one that has taken on board the input, comments and requests of professional divers, sports and military professionals, and last but by no means least, watch aficionados.

Dievas Focal quality

Dievas Uhren believes the new Focal will stand comparison with some of the best divers on the market. Here’s why.

Made in Germany – That still stands for a lot, top quality, technologically sound, beautifully engineered and built to a high standard.

6 times hardened steel - Dievas have gone to great trouble to ensure that the 316L stainless steel is considerably tougher than old boots. They put the steel through an exhaustive process to harden it to six times its normal strength, leaving each watch in a hardening chamber for two weeks. Then they test the watch again to ensure its resilience. With 1300 Hv this puts the watch in the same league as Sinn’s steel dive watches.

Corrosion resistant - During the same process multiple layers of plasma are applied to the entire surface area including the case back to protect the steel from the corrosion of sea water, sweat and other nasties.

500m diving depth – The watch is water resistant to 500 metres, not as much as some, including the excellent CX Swiss Military range which are water resistant to over 3,500 metres, but enough for most divers. Dievas also claim to test the watches to way beyond their WR to ensure no leaks.

Automatic movement – The watch is powered by the ETA 2824-2 movement modified with a Dieves CNC customised rotor. Each watch is adjusted to five positions for greater accuracy.

45mm hand finished casing

The 45 mm x 14.5 mm case is hand finished to give it extra sheen. The crown is at 8 o’ clock, and, like the enlarged gear edged unidirectional bezel, is designed to be adjusted while wearing diving gloves.  The hands and dials are minimalist with a modern military styling.

Luminova hands

The oversized hands are coated with top grade Swiss luminova for ease of legibility underwater. As for the dial, there’s a bright splash of colour on an otherwise densely black platform afforded by the bright yellow FOCAL brand name positioned above the date aperture at 6 o’ clock, and the matching yellow secondhand. 

Italian rubber strap

The Focal is fitted with an anti-reflective sapphire crystal  and comes on an Italian rubber strap that features a dive style clasp with a wet suit extension. The Focal also comes with a carrycase with an extra waterproof leather strap and changing tool.

The Dievas Focal dive watch retails at a competitive $1280 and can be ordered directly online via the Dievas website and via Watchuseek. No one could accuse the Dievas Focal of being a flashy  fashion statement, but as a solid, functional and reliable dive watch, it’s a real contender.


Maker: Dievas Uhren Technik

Movement: Swiss Made Dievas modified ETA2824-2 automatic movement

Dial: Black dial. Index

Luminance: SuperLuminova

Case: Micro-blasted. Dievas 6Steel - Hardened Steel; Scratch Resistant

Case Back: Dievas signed. Dievas 6Steel - Hardened Steel; Scratch Resistant
Bezel: Uni-directional. Micro-blased. Dievas 6Steel - Hardened Steel; Scratch Resistant

Crown: 5mm screwdown crown. Dievas 6Steel - Hardened Steel; Scratch Resistant
Lug: 22mm

Crystal: Domed scratch resistant sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
Strap: Molded anti-static Italian rubber strap with machined heavy duty deployant clasp and diver suit extension

Additional waterproof leather strap

Water resistance: 500m

Dimensions: 45mm in diameter, 54mm lug to lug, 14.5mm thick

Power Reserve: 42 hours

Warranty: Guaranteed 2 years

Monday, October 3, 2011

Safety in style: The Brabus and Stockinger SV12 safe

The more you’ve got, the more you’ve got to worry about. But Stockinger, Germany’s most renowned safemakers have just the answer.

The Brabus and Stockinger SV12 safe by Stockinger is designed to ensure that when not on the wrist, priceless watches stay safely on their watch winders. The safe not only provides state of the art security, but also sleek and smart contemporary styling.

The Brabus SV12 is a joint venture between Stockinger and Brabus, the high performance after market tuning company which specialises in Mercedes-Benz, Maybach and Smart vehicles. Truly a sophisticated toy cupboard.

Superior quality

The Brabus SV12 takes its name from the powerful Brabus SV12 engine, but as far as the safe is concerned, the 12 represents the number of specially fitted watch winders.

A high gloss black finish is applied on the body and door while the Brabus logo adorns the handle. The interior is lined with plush red Alcantara leather, carbon fibre and wood work.

Superior storage

Beneath the watch winders are five drawers designed for storage of other valuables. LED lights assist you if you open the safe in the dark, and you can customise your safe with a personalised name plate on the door. There’s even room for a favourite night cap to be securely sequestered away.

Naturally, part of the fun of being loaded is that anything can be made to your exact specifications, and so naturally everything about the Stockinger Brabus SV12 can be made to order including the number of drawers, the number of watch winders, the drawer linings, (Alcantara, leather or velvet) interior lighting, engravings – you name it you can specify it.

Superior security

The digital input safe conforms to VDS grade III security level which in turn conforms to the EU 1143/1 certification, including the automated sensitive alarm system.

The cost of the safe is $169,703, which in some cases could be less than the cost of a single watch that a dedicated connoisseur might wish to store in the safe. Great, but it would be totally wasted on my watch collection.

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