Introducing the Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Collection
by Kyle Stults on October 21, 2014

Armin Strom Pure Collection Water and Fire

This outstanding new collection from Armin Strom is a great example of the brand’s fine eye for horological construction and design.  Sharp-eyed enthusiasts of the brand will likely recognize these watches as modern derivations of the  more classically styled One Week Skeleton which the brand unveiled earlier this year.  And indeed both pieces share the same in-house base caliber, the manual wind ARM09-S with 8-day power reserve.  But of course the Skeleton Pure, with colored, PVD finished movement plates has an aesthetic all its own.  Skeleton Pure will be produced in editions of 100 pieces in each of ARMIN STROM’s elements of Air (titanium), Earth (black PVD coated stainless steel), Fire (18k rose gold, shown above) and Water (stainless steel, shown above).

The Armin Strom ARM09-S with 3D-PVD finish

Armin Strom ARM09-S Pure Caliber

Armin Strom owner Serge Michel puts it this way:  “The One Week Skeleton is an homage to our brand’s founder, master skeletonizer Armin Strom.  Skeleton Pure perfectly represents what ARMIN STROM is today.”   More than just the Pure, this statement really sums up the brand today, as I see it.  What I really like about Armin Strom, and what I’ve seen over the last several years since Michel took over (and enlisting the talented chief horologist Claude Greisler), is a transition of the brand — its manufacture technology, its designs, its materials, and so on — into the modern area, while also retaining the strongest aspects of brand’s heritage, namely skeletonization and hand-made watches.
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Piaget Altiplano Skeleton Enamel Cal 1200E angleview

It’s no secret that I am fan of Piaget’s Altiplano Skeleton with Caliber 1200 — I blogged about this watch on numerous occasions last year, including my detailed reflections on the watch.  As such, I was happy to see the Altiplano Skeleton recently introduced in a black “enamel-skeleton” dial.   To my knowledge, the ultra-thin automatic Calibre 1200E is the first ever “enamel-skeleton” movement.  It is the same as the Piaget Caliber 1200S (“S” as in skeleton), but of course with enamel, hence the modified identifier (“E”) on the caliber name (perhaps “ES” would have been more appropriate).  Nomenclature aside, to see an openworked dial embellished with enamel on what little is left of its surface area is an intriguing look; I find it to be an attractive addition to the overall aesthetic of the contemporary Altiplano Skeleton.
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Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde SW Steel
by Adam Soshnick on October 17, 2014

jaquet droz grande seconde SW blue gray

Unveiled with three new dial colors earlier this year, Jaquet Droz describes the Grande Seconde SW Steel as a “subtle mix of cool elegance.”   Looking at the watch, however, you’d be hard pressed to find that subtleness, as the dial pops with a gadget-y tech look that recalls a robot’s face and everything other than the understated praise that Jaquet Droz showers the design with.

On the other hand, at 45mm (41mm also available), the watch is a big chunk of steel and has the appropriate looks to go with it. The striped, Omega Aqua Terra-like dial glistens as light strikes it from different angles, and the peculiar shape of the case—especially when viewed from the rear—works better than expected with the rest of the design. Frankly, there’s nothing elegant about it, either, but that’s not the point—the watch is a rare instance where a mishmash of elements come together to form something surprisingly coherent.   So yes, although Kyle briefly previewed this watch back in February, I am here to offer a different take on it today, now that it is available in the marketplace.

 

Jaquet Droz_GRANDE-SECONDE-SW_STEEL_movement

Powering the watch is Jaquet Droz’ own 2263A-S automatic movement with an 18-karat gold rotor and 68 hours of power reserve; meaning the timepiece will survive a weekend off the wrist and still be churning along when the work week starts back up. And that’s a smart move on Jaquet Droz’ part because power reserves keep increasing as companies release new watches. Competition fosters excellent movements such as this, and we can expect many more in the future, not only from Jaquet Droz, but across the high-end watch industry.

Ultimately, the Grande Seconde SW Steel is an odd bird for company primarily known for elegant timepieces like the Grande Seconde Quantieme Ivory Enamel and the Bird Repeater. But somehow—just somehow—the watch works within Jaquet Droz’ design nomenclature despite being the ugly duckling of the bunch. It’s equally appealing and unattractive at the same time. It’s impossible to look just once.

For more information, head over to Jaquet Droz’ website.

Jaquet Droz GRANDE SECONDE SW_STEEL_Blue

Zenith Logo

Zenith Christophe Colombe Felix Baumgartner watch detail

In what I would describe as a spectacular fusion of materials, mechanics, and adventure, Zenith pays tribute to one of the great explorers of this century and a true champion of extreme challenges, Felix Baumgartner, with the this new Academy Christophe Colomb .  You may recall the Baumgartner, an experienced parachutist and base jumper, and his historic jump from a stratospheric capsule in 2012. This epic and unprecedented project was known as the Red Bull Stratos Mission.  Baumgartner jumped from an altitude of 128,100 feet above earth, and reached a top speed of 833.9 miles per hour (Mach 1.29!) — and he did it wearing a Zenith watch.  So it is only fitting that Zenith pays tribute to this man in a an exceptional ten-piece DLC-coated platinum limited edition of the Academy Christophe Colomb model.  What an incredible timepiece this is — I’ve got some great high-res close-ups and full details for y0u, below.
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