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Friday, December 28, 2012

Ring in the new: Piaget Emperador Coussin XL Ultra Thin Minute Repeater

This stunning new watch will be putting in an appearance at SIHH 2013 next month. It’s the Piaget Emperador Coussin XL Ultra Thin Minute Repeater. A watch crafted entirely in-house, with the movement, Calibre 1290P, entirely developed, produced, decorated and assembled at the Piaget manufacture in La Côte-aux-Fées. It’s a movement which took a team of six engineers three years to produce. Among major complications, the minute repeater is particularly difficult to create especially one that includes, as this one does, an automatic winding mechanism and and an exceptionally thin design. The case was made in Piaget’s workshops in Plan-Les-Oautes. 

The 1290P minute repeater movement represents the fourth major complication developed by Piaget, which over the past 14 years has created 35 in-house movements, including 11 comprising major complications. Some of these include notable calibres like the 600P (the world’s thinnest hand-wound shaped tourbillon), 880P (ultra-thin automatic chronograph), 855P (ultra-thin automatic perpetual calendar) and 1270P (ultra-thin automatic tourbillon).

Calibre 1290P’s micro-rotor was crafted in platinum in order to guarantee the best possible winding power with a minimum thickness. For the ultimate precision, the movement boasts an optimal hour jump at the end of the 59th minute so as to ensure that the striking mechanism indicates the exact time to the nearest second. And the minute repeater sounds at 65 decibels in volume.


Decoration for the movements was done entirely done by hand; the bridges bevelled and hand drawn with a file, sunburst or circular satin-brushed wheels, pink gold-toned screws and oscillating weight, mirror-polished finishing.

The 48 mm-diameter case comprises 69 parts, hollowed out as much as possible to achieve the best resonance for the transmission of sound. Four braces secure it to the movement to ensure the transmission of the gong vibration. The gong base is connected to both the movement and the exterior via four screws. A mechanism beneath the bezel is designed to ensure the watch’s water resistance.

The dial of the watch is open-worked which allows a view of the intricate mechanism, with intricately manufactured hour markers, crafted from 18-karat rose gold.

The slide at 9 o’clock triggers the minute repeater on demand, with the sound generated by the vibrations of a gong struck by hammers. These are made of steel for an ideal hardness-to-weight ratio. In order to preserve the purity of the sound Calibre 1290P is equipped with an inertia flywheel to regulate the rhythm between the start and finish of the chiming. Striking in the fifth octave, the hours are pitched at G sharp, and the minutes at A sharp. Despite using a fixed gong, Piaget’s repeater sound has three virtually harmonic partials.

As mentioned, the new Piaget Emperador Coussin XL Ultra Thin Minute Repeater will debut next month in Geneva at SIHH 2013 and will be priced at a distinctly high decibel $250,000.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

One piece at a time: Julien Coudray 1518 Manufactura Collection

Julien Coudray 1518 is a small, highly exclusive Le Locle based watch brand founded by Fabien Lamarche. The name is taken from one of the most skilled and creative horlogers of the 16th century. In their own words the brand perpetuates a proud heritage through expertise and technology, leaving a legacy thanks to products built to last, wher the tiniest of details shape the design of grand watches.

Julien Coudray served as “horologer” to kings Louis XII and especially François I. He played an important part in the flourishing artistic wealth of the French Renaissance and was regarded as the emblematic monarch of this period, significantly contributing to the development of art and literature in France. François I advocated ideas that were widespread in Italy, and even went as far as to commission works by Italian artists whom he invited to France. 

Leonardo da Vinci worked for him from September 1515 until his death on May 2nd 1519. Being a watchmaker to François I meant having been selected to embody the vision of a ruler surrounded by brilliant and inventive minds. While the royal court was enriched with artists, scientists and men of letters, horologers who united science with art, were highly respected for their exceptional expertise. 

Julien Coudray is also the first horologer from Blois to be recorded in historical documents. According to historical sources, he is considered the inventor of the portable watch in 1518 in the shape of spring-based movements inserted at the request of François I into the pommel of two of his daggers.

Julien Coudray 1518

From conception through to hand decoration, from cutting to thermal treatment, from traditional grand feu enamelling through to miniature painting, along with crafting the watch hands and assembling the components, a total of over 40 people representing as many professions, pool their talents in designing, producing and assembling the brand’s entire range of watches and movements. Working with precious metals such as solid gold and platinum, the brand specialises in developing hand-made in-house timepieces performed assembled part by part, component by component.

Manufactura Collection

The brand has recently released the first timepiece under their Manufactura Collection in red gold with an enamelled miniature on the dial.

This is a numbered masterpiece – a piece unique, 1/1. It represents a permanent quest for authenticity through rare and precious know-how.

The “point par point” technique of the miniature was first created by the exceptionally talented M. Petitot in 1630 and the design is inspired by the decoration that the Queen Marie-Antoinette used in Versailles.

The detail of the hands as with the dial, are unique and have been manufactured with neither paintings nor chemical treatment. When the hour and minute hands join, they represent the complete flower with its two leaves.

GTE 2013

Julien Coudray 1518 will be exhibiting at GTE (Geneva Time Exhibition) from January 20th to 24th, 2013 and invites visitors to discover the world of grand feu enamelling at its stand.


18ct 5N red solid gold
Bezel set with 192 TW VVS diamonds (diameter 1.05 - total weight 0.875 cts)
Diameter 39mm
Thickness 9.85 mm
Anti-reflection sapphire glass
Sapphire case back
Water-resistance 5 ATM

Indexes made from 18ct 5N red gold and hand painted white “grand feu” enamel.
Enamel miniature in the centre – “point par point” technique created and finalised by the exceptionally talented M. Petitot in 1630– design inspired by Queen Marie-Antoinette and the flowers she appreciated in her rooms in Versailles.

Unique hands manufactured with neither paintings nor chemical treatment. When the hour and minute hands join, they represent the complete flower with its two leaves.

18ct 5N red solid gold movement
1528 13 ¼’’ Julien Coudray handcrafted caliber
Hand engraved movement
Manual winding, 55 hour power reserve
34 Jewels

4Hz, 28'800 vibration

Functions and special feature:
Hour, minute, centre second.
« Grand feu » hand painted enamel service indicator at 12 - indicating requested service every 4 year.

White alligator Mississipiensis on both sides
Hand stitching
18ct 5N red solid gold buckle

Visit the Julien Coudray 1518 website

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pre-SIHH 2013: Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Perpetual Calendar Chronograph

Following on from the sparkling Rotonde de Cartier Panther with Granulation, this is another pre-SIHH peek at what Cartier has in store for 2013. Here is the Rotonde de Cartier Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, available in white gold with a silvered dial and rose gold with a warm chocolate dial, each topped with a cabochon on the top of the crown.

Cartier has made plain its intentions to create some exquisite high-end watches un der its Cartier Fine Watchmaking banner, and this is certainly a worthy addition to the Rotonde collection. Two of haute horology’s favourite complications are masterfully and legibly contained within a perfectly sized 42mm watch; the perpetual calendar and the chronograph. So the watch is capable of recording not only thousandths of a second, but also the passing of generations.

The watch is powered by the new in-house Cartier calibre 9423 MC, an adaptation of the Calibre 1904 MC CH, featuring two barrels, an in-line flexible lever that reduces stress on the bearings of the hand shafts when resetting, and a column-wheel with vertical clutch to ensure a fluid start and stop. 

The movement is composed of 445 individual components, 44 jewels and a power reserve of 48 hours. All created to immaculate Cartier specifications including guilloche, snailing, satin finishing, and trade mark Cartier blued sword hands.

Price is expected to be in the $60,000-$70,000 range.

Visit the Cartier website

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from Watchuseek!

May all your Christmas wishes come true, and be sure to visit here often for lots more watch stories in 2013.

Photograph courtesy of Jacques Lemans Design Collection

Friday, December 21, 2012

Watching television: A look at TV watch commercials

 James Bond OMEGA Planet Ocean Seamaster

If you have ever wondered why high-end Swiss watches are so expensive, take a look at some of these commercials and you will start to understand why. Wristwatch advertising tends to peak at Christmas time, but also runs throughout the year to serve as a constant reminder, whether it be as the sponsor of events, or the endorser of top celebrities, that the top name brands are something to desire and aspire to. But when you look at the price tag, just remember, someone has to pay for these exotic people and places to appear in the watch commercials, and that will be you. 

Of course you can also sell several brands in one go, which is just what the UK's biggest watch retailer, The Watch Shop, elected to do with their pragmatic, Christmas TV production for 2012, squarely aimed at the low to medium budget Christmas watch shopper. Or, in the case of Citizen, you can expect to sell millions of units around the world, justifying the high cost of TV expenditure.

But in my opinon, for creativity, technical accomplishment, and star power and charisma, even from beyond the grave, nothing can beat the TAG Heuer Steve McQueen/Lewis Hamilton TV commerical for the legendary TAG Heier Monaco. Lewis Hamilton can even act, at least a little. 

Enjoy watching these commercials, all of them produced within the last year.

Cartier Winter Tale, Christmas 2012

Rolex Le Mans

Watch Shop Christmas commercial 2012

Rotary Ultra Slim

Citizen Watches Super Titanium

Steve McQueen and Lewis Hamilton TAG Heuer Monaco

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Drive safe: Richard Mille Tourbillon G-Sensor RM 036 Jean Todt

Richard Mille has hard-hitting Rafael Nadal, and hard-driving Felipe Massa and Jules Bianchi as demanding clients and brand ambassadors, so the challenge is constantly on to improve on some already highly technically accomplished watches. 

When it comes to motor racing, Richard Mille is also the official timekeeper for a range of internationally renowned races such as the Le Mans Classic and the Grand Prix de Pau Historique. 

However, Richard Mille’s latest ambitious project is not about driving fast, but about driving safely.  He decided to offer his support to long-time friend, Jean Todt, and to the global organisation “FIA Action For Road Safety” by developing a watch capable of offering a tangible solution to road safety problems. 

Richard Mille’s and Jean Todt’s teams worked together closely to develop a mechanism capable of interpreting the physical constraints felt by the body during rapid decelerations to make drivers aware of the dangers linked to the road. This is how the creation of the Tourbillon G-Sensor RM 036 Jean Todt came about.

The RM 036 features a familiar RM tonneau shape, which is a recurrent visual theme of the brand. The curved, ergonomic case specifically requested by Jean Todt for this exceptional timepiece houses the RM036 calibre, a tourbillon movement made entirely of grade-5 titanium and ARCAP, with a carbon-nanofiber baseplate. 

This combination of materials provides the movement with optimal resistance and flatness, and draws a sublime contrast with the finishing, which include polishing, shot-blasting and satin-brushing. The manually wound mechanical calibre features hours, minutes and seconds combined with a brand-new complication: a mechanical G-sensor.

The G-sensor system was developed and patented by design genius Renaud Papi exclusively for Richard Mille, and translates the movement of a small internal mechanism to an indicator, thereby enabling the wearer to visualise the forces. Assembled directly on the baseplate, this complex mechanism was designed to visually display the number of G’s accumulated by the wearer during rapid decelerations. 

Composed of over 50 parts and measuring a mere 17mm, the RM 036’s G-sensor can withstand decelerations of several tens of G’s. Needless to say, the movement is also characterised by its unequivocal robustness. Another unique feature of the RM 036 is the scale located at 12 o’clock. The needle indicates whether the deceleration is safe (green zone) or critical (red zone) for the driver. A push-piece at 9 o’clock quickly resets it to zero.

The RM 036 will be officially presented on 7th December at the FIA awards ceremony in Istanbul. Jean Todt will donate the profits from the sale of this exceptional timepiece to two key initiatives close to his heart: the global campaign for road safety as well as the ICM Brain and Spine Institute, which he co-founded.

The Tourbillon G-Sensor RM 036 Jean Todt watch is being released in a limited edition of 15 titanium.

Visit the Richard Mille website

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Nobody does it better: Franck Cammas is FSF Sailor of the Year

Franck Cammas, who won the Volvo Ocean Race 2012, was named Sailor of the Year by the French Sailing Federation, on December 10th, in Paris – in what is undoubtedly well deserved recognition of Cammas’ outstanding seamanship.

Franck Cammas and his team including New Zealanders Peter Blake, Grant Dalton and Mike Sanderson, the American Paul Cayard and the Brazilian Torben Grael sailing in Groupama 4 celebrated their victory in Galway, Ireland back in July only when they were certain that an unassailable victory had been secured.

On Franck Cammas’ wrist during the entire Volvo Ocean Race was the JeanRichard Aquascope.

Cammas, whose victories are true sailing feats, is the living embodiment of daring, courage and joie de vivre. It is this life philosophy that first linked him to the watchmaker in 2011 and which will now be carried through the extension of their partnership, over the next three years. 

Bruno Grande, COO of JeanRichard, made a special trip to Paris Salon Nautique and presented Franck with his Aquascope “Victory Watch” – a unique timepiece whose dial is made from the mainsail of the winning boat in the Volvo Ocean Race 2012. 

Bruno Grande presents the JeanRichard Aquascope Victory Watch


Now Franck and JeanRichard are set for new adventures in the America’s Cup. The talented French offshore sailor is currently with the Luna Rossa Challenge in Auckland until the end of the year, helping the team get to grips with the giant AC72 catamaran.

JeanRichard Aquascope

We first featured the watch back in April of this year.  The new Aquascope watch has a rounded glass-opening within its barrel-shaped curves. The one-piece case provides protection for the two symmetrical crowns, and exceptional comfort for the wearer.

The polished and satin-finished steel case features a bidirectional rotating bezel designed to display the remaining diving time. The watches undergo the most exacting tests to ensure that each watch can be depended upon at 300 metres below the surface. 

Features include the luminescent graduation of the Arabic numerals, and the dial’s hour-markers make for perfect legibility even in underwater zones with very little natural light.

The 44mm case is made from a steel that combines lightness and excellent resistance to corrosion with solid protection for the self-winding mechanical movement. 

JeanRichard Aquascope is also available in a ladies’ version with a white mother-of-pearl dial, brilliant-cut diamond hour-markers and a white, grey or pink strap.

Visit the JeanRichard website

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dutch courage: Dutch Forces Watches to launch in UK

Dutch Forces, a watchmaker and Dutch fashion brand based in the Netherlands, is in talks to launch its brand in the United Kingdom. According to their own website, Dutch Forces is “...a brand with rich symbolism, rituals and traditional decorations from the Navy, Army and Air Force.

Dutch Forces has created a watch originally developed for pilots in the Royal Netherlands Air Force. This watch which will retail in the UK for €299 (£242), and was jointly developed by the Dutch Royal Air force F-16 team and the watchmaker.
It is used by pilots flying at speeds of mach 1 and will be available in two models – stainless steel and black.

“We are trying to open up the UK market with Dutch Forces,” a spokesman for the company said. “We have quite a few people contacting us from the UK about our Dutch Forces watches, which is why we are now entering the market.”

The company plans to start by selling watches in the UK online at They are in talks with a number of London jewellers and hope to be in 20 stores by the end of 2013. In addition to watches the brand also offers fashion accessories including caps clothing and bags, although initially at least it seems only the watches will be on offer in the UK. One thing's for sure, they're going to need an English version of their website!

Visit the Dutch Forces website

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Panerai Speciality: Panerai Luminor 1950 Rattrapante 8 Days Titanio

Officine Panerai continues to attract an impressive swathe of fans and admirers, even though The Watch Snob insists it’s a brand that was little more than a passing fad brought back to popularity by the actor Sylvester Stallone. 

Now the brand presents the new Luminor 1950 Rattrapante 8 Days Titanio, a sophisticated model in which the classic Panerai design is perfectly combined with the technical aspects of high quality sports watchmaking.

The Luminor 1950 Rattrapante 8 Days Titanio is a split-seconds chronograph with vertical clutch and twin column wheels, and offers numerous functions associated with top-end watchmaking. The watch is powered by the P.2006 movement, entirely developed in-house at the Officine Panerai manufacture in Neuchâtel. 

The split-seconds function, also known as rattrapante, operates two hands that are superimposed and partially independent: the first is entirely controlled by the button at 8 o’clock, which starts, stops and resets the chronograph hand; the second, controlled by the button at 10 o’clock, is used for measuring partial times or a second event simultaneous with the first. To make it easier and clearer to read, the hand of the small minute counter moves in jumps instead of continuously. 

The P.2006 hand-wound movement has an ample power reserve of eight days, a traditional duration for Panerai watches. This is achieved by means of a special patented system of three spring barrels. The remaining power reserve can be read on the dial from a linear indicator above the number six. 

To enable the watch to be synchronised perfectly with a reference signal, the P.2006 movement also has a seconds reset function, which zeroes the seconds hand by stopping the balance wheel until the winding crown has been returned to the running position. 

The Luminor 1950 Rattrapante 8 Days Titanio has a brushed titanium case  in a traditionally large 47 mm diameter case, fitted with the classic lever device which hermetically seals the winding crown to ensure water-resistance to 10 atmospheres (equivalent to a depth of about 100 metres). 

On the back of the case, in the centre of the 12-sided caseback, is a sapphire crystal lens through which the elegant finish of the P.2006 movement can be seen. 

The bezel is made of polished titanium and surrounds a large black dial of great simplicity and sporting elegance. The structure of the dial consists of two superimposed discs with a layer of Super-LumiNova® between them: a type of construction which has been characteristic of Panerai watches since the 1930s, it provides great legibility and visibility even in situations of very low light, such as underwater. 

Identified by the reference PAM00530 and produced in a limited edition, the new Luminor 1950 Rattrapante 8 Days Titanio comes on a rubber strap. It is part of the of the Officine Panerai Specialities collection and is destined to be sold out in no time at all.

Visit the Panerai website

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pre-SIHH 2013: Rotonde de Cartier – Panther with Granulation


Pre-SIHH 2013, Cartier have released previews of two exciting new watches. These will be officially unveiled at SIHH 2013 on January 21st next year. 

The first watch to be given a pre-SIHH preview from Cartier is the fabulous Rotonde de Cartier: Panther with Granulation.

The watch forms part of the Cartier d'Art line which showcases various artistic crafts, usually as part of the dial decoration. Here the dial is decorated with a panther created from tiny gold granules. 

This stunning watch relies on an ancient and immensely time consuming craft designed to achieve a sparkling, shimmering reproduction, on this occasion of a Panther in 22k gold. The most famous examples of this type of craftsmanship are of priceless Etruscan granulation applied objects dating back to the first century.

The reinterpretation of this millennia-old artistic craft is part of a desire to bring rare,
sometimes forgotten crafts back to life, which Cartier adapts and renders in its own unique way.

The process


Each tiny 22k gold ball is hand applied, one at a time to build up the picture. The gold balls are cut from a thread and then heated, applied and fused to the watch base. This achieves a lustrous sparkle from several angles.

The case is 42mm and made in yellow gold. Not surprisingly considering the massive effort each watch takes to complete, only 20 of the Rotonde de Cartier will be made. 


Case: 18-carat yellow gold set with 306 brilliant-cut diamonds for 3.63 carats
Dial: 22-carat yellow gold, granulation with panther motif
Hands: Breguet style in blued steel
Crown: beaded, 18-carat yellow gold, set with a diamond
Strap: semi-matt black alligator skin

Double adjustable folding clasp,
18-carat yellow gold set with 43 brilliant-cut diamonds for 0.42 carats
Water-resistance: 30 metres / 100 feet / 3 bar
Movement: Manufacture mechanical with manual winding, calibre 9601 MC
Case back: sapphire crystal 

Numbered limited series of 20 just pieces.

Photography by: Fabien Sarazin © Cartier 2012

Pre-SIHH 2013: Calibre de Cartier Chronograph.

Pre-SIHH 2013, Cartier have released previews of two exciting new watches. These will be officially unveiled at SIHH 2013 on January 21st next year. 

The second of the watches is the Calibre de Cartier Chronograph. The collection will features Cartier’s new in-house manufactured self-winding 1904-CH MC calibre which features a column-wheel chronograph with a central vertical clutch. It has double barrels, which provides more consistent torque and a 48-hour power reserve.

The Calibre de Cartier Chronograph features a 42 mm case with alternating brushed and polished surfaces. 

The watch will be available in stainless steel or gold, with or without gems. A sapphire case back allows a view of the beautifully finished movement which consists of Côtes de Genève (Geneva stripes) on the bridges and oscillating weight and circular graining on the mainplate. 

The dial employs Roman numerals for the top half of the dial and then indexes on the lower part. The hour and minute hands are sword shaped and are coated with luminous paint. The three date panoramic date aperture now sits at 6 o’clock to make room for the chronograph subdial (previous Cartier de Calibre time only models have the date at 3 o’clock).

The chronograph pushers are flat and there’s a 7 sided screwed crown with a sapphire on the gold model. Water-resistance is 100 metres and the watch comes on a choice of a steel or gold bracelet or a leather strap. The pierced lugs allow for easy removal of the bracelet or strap with a screwdriver.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Big 30: Chronoswiss Régulateur 30

2013 promises to be an illustrious year for German brand Chronoswiss. It marks the thirtieth anniversary of the brand and it’s the legendary Régulateur’s 25th anniversary too. Therefore, it makes sense to pay tribute to the figurehead of the brand in the shape of the Régulateur 30.

This new anniversary watch is not typical of a Régulateur. The first surprise is that it includes  a window at the 12 o’clock  position. 

It's here that the hour is placed within a Mechanical “digital” display. The minute display has also moved upward a little bit, intersecting the display of seconds.

The Régulateur 30 will be available only in a limited edition of 130 pieces in a red gold case and 300 pieces in a stainless steel case. 

The dial is crafted into a lavish barleycorn guilloché pattern cut into the pure Sterling silver dial and emanating from its centre.

This is in homage to the original Kairos model. Both versions also contain a chessboard guilloché pattern within the minute and seconds subdials.

The watch is is completed by thermally blued hands, which have been ground by hand and thus display precisely the right length for the dials’ displays.

Intricate details such as these will continue to play a significant at Chronoswiss now and for the next 30 years and beyond.

About Chronoswiss

Chronoswiss is a German watch manufacturer based in Karlsfeld. The company was founded by Gerd R. Lang in 1983 with its mission being to make exquisite mechanical timepieces. Prior to founding Chronoswiss, Lang had gained significant experience in manufacturing movements for other major brands.

Chronoswiss tries to stay exclusive by only producing 7,000 watches per year. Though a German company, every component is produced in Switzerland and then the watches are hand-finished. While many of the movements used in Chronoswiss watches are based on the Enicar 165 movement, the Chronoswiss versions feature significant improvements, both technically and aesthetically.

Michael Kobold of Kobold of Kobold Watches was trained by Gerd Lang. In the key North American market, the company restructured this year. Oliver Ebstein and his wife Eva have bought and taken over the management of Chronoswiss.

Visit the Chronoswiss website

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