Offered at the upcoming Christie’s Important Watches Including Property from an Important European Collection, this Breguet No. 1176 pocketwatch circa 1809 is Abraham-Louis Breguet’s very first four minute tourbillon and only his third tourbillon watch ever made. As a Breguet aficionado whose blog was directly inspired by Breguet (his perpetuelles!), I am excited to see this piece — with its well-documented provenance and noble lineage — come to market. It is undoubtedly one of the most important pieces of Breguet’s work to appear in public in recent years and will likely fetch more than the high-end estimate of $1,133,694 (it first sold to a Polish nobleman in 1809 for 4,600 Francs).
Below I’ll touch upon some of the highlights that I gleaned from Christie’s lot notes; I’ll also provide the official link for those of you who would care to partake in more of the details of this piece.
Girard-Perregaux presents its Sea Hawk dive watch in new hues for 2014. The cobalt blue dial is accented with coral orange hands and coral orange 15-min diver’s scale on the bezel. As a reminder, the Sea Hawk received a major design upgrade in 2012 which brought new life to the iconic diver’s line. Save for the new color-set, this 2014 model carries forward the characteristc design elements including the “honeycomb” textured dial, luminescent three dimensional hour markers, and a sloping outer flange which bridges the dial with the case/bezel. The case remains 44mm x 17.1mm in stainless steel, with 1,000m water resistance rating, helium escape valve, and meeting all of the other ISO 6425 dive watch standards. Offered on blue rubber strap (Ref 49960-19-431-FK4A) and bracelet (Ref 49960-19-431-11A), too.
The new Villeret Perpetual Calendar from Blancpain is an extraordinary watch, and perhaps the finest achievement in an already impressive set of of new introductions this year. The new self-winding Blanpcain Calibre 5939A comprises 379 parts and measures 7.25 mm thick, with an impressive 8-day power reserve. It is offered in choice of red gold, or a limited edition platinum model, and comes in a dedicated box equipped with a winder serving to keep the watch on time even when not in use. The box cleverly designed solid wooden box doubles as a cigar humidor if the interior is removed.
Jaeger-LeCoultre unveils twelve unique and precious timepieces epitomizing the horological excellence of the Grande Maison. This special collection builds on the fascination generated by grand complication watches and by the Hybris Mechanica collection that the Manufacture in the Vallée de Joux has been developing over the years. Behold!!!
Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3
Cased in tantalum, the spirit of this timepiece with is bluish-hue is edgy and avant-garde, accentuated by the black dial for the hours and minutes, the anthracite dial of the chronograph counter, and the ruthenium-treated movement. And of course the flying Gyrotourbillon and its spherical balance-spring as first seen in the Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3 unveiled in 2013 Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Céleste
Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Céleste
The orbital flying tourbillon does not indicate the passage of civil time, but instead sidereal time, which is nearly four minutes shorter in duration than solar time. Thus, the passage of Sirus – the reference star – at the zenith marks the celestial meridian. The starry sky stretches above in the shape of a hemispherical arch bounded by the horizon. The dial is made of royal blue aventurine. The area of the dial representing the months is guilloché and covered in translucent lacquer which recreates the effect of the depth of the cosmos. The hour-markers march around the inner bezel ring (or flange) to mark the rhythm of time. The flange itself is guilloché and filled with lacquer to blend in. Replacing the bezel, the domed crystal of the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Céleste is placed directly on the caseback, which provides a greater sense of openness and visibility of the orbital tourbillon.
Master Gyrotourbillon 1
The dial is made from a completely skeletonised aventurine plate, retaining in the end only openwork stone encrusted with sparkling flecks.
Duomètre à Grande Sonnerie
The Hybris Artistica version consists of a dial made of rock crystal that reveals the horological movement from the back of this watch that is protected by ten patents. Also known as “solidified light” of celestial origin, rock crystal has given rise to many myths and beliefs on several continents and in different cultures. Rock crystal can be veined, but it is an absolutely transparent
variety that was selected for the dial of the Duomètre à Grande Sonnerie Hybris Artistica.
In this Hybris Artistica version, the Manufacture created a water-resistant case composed of two sapphire crystal domes featuring lugs in 18-carat white gold. It showcases the dial, chiselled using a hand engraving technique that consists of removing material – 18-carat white gold – with a special chisel using multidirectional strokes to obtain a stunning surface, both finely grained and glossy. To accentuate the dramatic effect of the timepiece, a staircase is located in the opening that houses the tourbillon. With its finely chiselled steps, it frames and highlights the Sphérotourbillon whose transparent bridge is crafted from sapphire crystal. The elegant dials of the Duomètre Sphérotourbillon are crafted from white Grand Feu enamel with numerals fired with the enamel in a traditional technique followed to the letter.
Duomètre Sphérotourbillon Enamel
In this Hybris Artistica version, the dial is made of blue paillonné enamel that gives the watch face a dreamlike quality. The artisan shaves tiny motifs or chips from a block of silver, called paillons. These tiny chips are volatile and can easily scatter. Only with the expertise accumulated over time can the artisan distribute them harmoniously on the enamel. After the dial comes out of the kiln, with the inherent risks of firing at 800°, the artisan begins the difficult task of polishing the enamel. This involves revealing the metal elements flush with the dial without scratching the surface with specks of dust from the precious metal. the bezel is decorated with a border of enamel in an elegant reiteration of the overall harmony. The side of the case is engraved with a design inspired by the Doge’s Palace in Venice. For this purpose, openings are pierced all around the case, then filled with enamel and polished to reveal the beauty of the design. Also, the movement itself had to be redesigned and reworked. Steps were added – in gold so they could be enamelled – to remain in harmony with the rest of the dial. This staircase forms a spectacular amphitheatre that showcases the exuberant actor of this timepiece, the multi-axis tourbillon with a transparent sapphire bridge.
Duomètre Sphérotourbillon Pocket Watch
The Duomètre Sphérotourbillon pocket watch is openly inspired by a masterfully crafted timepiece, a grand complication pocket watch from 1928. It is a first, and what a first: a Sphérotourbillon included in a pocket watch. The architecture developed by the designers ensures that it is clearly visible through the notched opening at 6 o’clock. It is crowned by the hand-chiselled dial that gives it a unique appearance, both roughhewn due to the grained effect, and timelessly elegant. Also, the side of the case and the bezel are enamelled. On these curved and difficult to access surfaces, the enamel must be applied flush, then delicately polished to reveal the gold that adorns the bezel indicating the hours.
Grande Reverso Tourbillon Squelette
Entirely openworked, with its hand-decorated plate and bridges.
Reverso Cordonnet Neva
For this Hybris Artistica version, the upper dial of the watch, featuring the hour arc stylised by the iconic stretching numerals, is fully paved with baguette diamonds using the Rock-Setting® technique. The mystery of this setting technique is a heavily guarded secret at the Manufacture, and is characterised by the absence of visible metal between the stones. The twelve signs of the Zodiac were painted by hand on the rotating dial made of lapis lazuli.
For its Hybris Artistica version, the artisans considered how to fully pave the Rendez-Vous Tourbillon with diamonds, while maintaining the extremely expressive and distinctive features of the model.
Atmos or the dream of infinite movement. Thanks to its virtually perpetual movement, Atmos draws its energy solely from variations in temperature. It seems to live on air alone, the slightest degree Celsius giving it a power reserve of 48 hours. The design of the clock, with its disc of aerial dials and exquisitely balanced movement, exudes an extraordinary lightness, as if to proclaim that a breath of genius gave life to this work of wonder that is the Atmos. It contrasts with the sophisticated ornamentation of the lateral wooden doors – crafted from Indian rosewood and horse chestnut – featuring splendid handmade marquetry. Framed by these noble wood panels, two enamel miniatures reproduce paintings by Alphonse Mucha, Spring and Autumn.
partial text by JLC
Richard Mille’s alliance with American Golfer Bubba Watson looks more prescient than ever as the long-driving, self-taught golf phenom won his second Masters (and Major) this past Sunday. In 2010 when Richard Mille signed him to an athlete-ambassador, Bubba was relatively unknown, having won only 1 PGA Tour event after four years on the Tour. Of course it all started with the limited RM 038 Golfer’s Tourbillon released in 2011, and as usual the sight of a peculiarly styled watch on the wrist of Bubba Watson during match play did not take long to make its way into the sports headlines.
This time around, Richard Mille has undertaken the development of yet another specific tourbillon watch for Bubba Watson with added functionality to complement his powerful drives on the course. The new RM 38-01 Bubba Watson includes Mille’s patented G-sensor along with a tourbillon mechanism, thus providing new insights for Watson during his game. The Richard Mille mechanical G-sensor, a Richard Mille world first in 2012, contains more than 50 moving parts within a mere 17mm and allows the user to see the accumulated motion of their swing in G’s.
First launched in 2009, the L.U.C Lunar Big Date is presented this year in white gold with a handful of enhancing design changes. Though the L.U.C Calibre 96.20-L with micro-rotor remains the same, the rest of the changes greatly enhance the overall look of the watch as compared to prior year models. Among the changes I like most are the is that the silver-toned subrust dial is now set with Roman numerals (Arabic numerals on prior versions), and the subdials are more balanced as well. All in all, this is a Chopard L.U.C. Lunar Big Date I could at last see myself wearing, which is something I could not say about prior versions.
In an impressive technical achievement, watchmakers at Bulgari have achieved a new world record for world’s thinnest tourbillon caliber. Yes, Bulgari. This watch — case and all — is 5.0mm thin (40mm diameter, made of platinum). The movement — a mere 1.95mm.
This bests recent “record holders” in the ultra-thin tourbillon category from Arnold & Son (UTTE – 2.97mm) and Breguet (tourbillon Cal 581DR – 3mm), both 2013 launches. Prior to this it was Piaget with the world’s thinnest tourbillon – the Piaget caliber 600P is a mere 3.5mm thick. Also in this category but now a few rungs down the ladder solely on the basis of dimension is JLC (their 1.85mm thin Cal 849 is the thinnest time-only/non-tourbillon hand wound in the world) and of course Audemars Piguet (their tourbillon Cal 2924 measures 4.46mm).
By the way, Bulgari is now led by the other “JCB” – Jean Christophe Babin. He was formerly CEO of TAG Heuer for about a decade.
And the world’s thinnest mechanical watch of any kind? The Piaget Altiplano 900P, an amazing creation in which case and caliber are one, measures in at a total 3.65mm.
This year Harry Winston is introduces Project Z8, the latest model from its innovative “Project Z” series which showcases the House’s pioneering use of Zalium alloy (as I chronicle below “The Story of Harry Winston Project Z“).
Highlighting Antiquorum’s auction of “Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces” this past Wednesday, April 9th in New York was a Rolex Ref. 6263 Paul Newman in Steel [lot 289] with its iconic “panda” dial. The rare chronograph inspired a passionate (perhaps aggressive is a better word) bidding war between eight phone bidders and a room bidder, finally selling to the room bidder for a staggering $231,750. For a bit of perspective, this “Original owner” Rolex went for $30,000 MORE than a Patek Philippe Ref 5102 “Celestial” which also sold in the auction. No doubt, the Rolex market is insane right now. And an original owner 6263 in condition such as this one is easily seen as a must have for a serious Rolex collector.
ROLEX, REF. 6263, STEEL CASE, “PAUL NEWMAN” PANDA DIAL
Made in 1970, sold March 6th, 1972. Original Owner Sale.
Original hands, overall exceptional condition. Accompanied by the original fitted box, original guarantee (now void), copy of service invoice dated August 27, 2008, instruction manual, and a booklet.
37mm steel case with screw down pushers, with Valjoux 727 caliber inside
“We are delighted by the outstanding result for the Rolex ‘Paul Newman’ Ref. 6263 in our April auction,” said Saori Omura, Watch Director, Antiquorum USA. “As confirmed by today’s results, rare timepieces offered from the property of its original owner continue to be highly sought-after by savvy collectors across the globe.”
Official lot notes on the Rolex Ref 6263 Paul Newman can be seen here>>>
And for a good overview of the iconic Rolex “Paul Newman” family, check out this good References Points video by Hodinkee:
Jaeger-LeCoultre pays tribute to an important piece from its past with the new Geophysic® 1958. The Geophysic 1958 will be offered in steel (limited 800 pieces – $9,800) and pink gold (limited 300 pieces – $20,800). As shown above, a (slightly different dialed) platinum model, limited 58 pieces, will also be offered exclusively in JLC boutiques at price tag of $32,000 on blue alligator strap. There’s a lot to like here and I’ll break it all down below.
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