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.
Bridges machined from F1 car engine block …
For the 2014 Formula 1 season, ARMIN STROM updates its Racing Collection by introducing two new calibres made from a Formula 1 engine. Let’s take a look at the manufacture’s Racing Manual, a limited edition of 50 pieces with visible dial-side bridges machined from the original motor block of an F1 car (Armin Strom is a sponsor of Team Marussia). The watch features Armin Strom’s distinct case shape (note the asymmetry with the ‘tab’ at the bottom of the case) — nicely sized at 43.4mm x 13mm — in titanium with black PVD-treated steel bezel.
Before we get to the last of Blancpain’s new additions to the 2014 Villeret collection, let’s switch it up with a look at the new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscape Chronograph. The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe line debuted last year in basic 3-handed models & steel cases. This year the line is really stepped up with a satin-brushed black ceramic case and ceramic bezel. On top of this, Blancpain has fitted this watch with a new automatic mechanical manufacture caliber — the Blancpain Cal. F385. The Cal. F385 is a column wheel chronograph with vertical clutch; it has a silicon balance spring and beats at 36,000 vph. Moreover, this is a water-resistant chronograph — the pushers are constructed to enable use underwater to depths of 300 meters. An exceptional feature for a chronograph watch.
Similar to last year’s first ever combination of a tourbillon and a carrousel in one caliber, the new Blancpain 225L movement unites a carrousel, a moon phase and a date for the very first time. Joining the Villeret 8 Days and the Villeret 12 day Flying Tourbillon, his piece is the third of four new pieces launched this year in the brand’s flagship Villeret collection.
Platinum case…enamel dial…flying tourbillon…
Not a lot of pomp and circumstance out of Blancpain this year, but as usual the manufacture from Le Brassus does not disappoint with its new year lineup. This is the second of five new pieces from Blancpain this year, and believe it or not it is not the most complicated of the Le Brassus manufacture’s new pieces this year. This is not to say it is not an impressive watch, because it is. The new Villeret Tourbillon is set in a 42mm platinum case and is distinguished by a dial-side 60-second flying tourbillon with silicon balance-spring and a gorgeously decorated caliber on the back side.
WOW. What. A. Watch. With the release of the Armin Strom One Week Skeleton Collection, the Armin Strom manufacture has realized the dream of its founder – to create a skeleton entirely manufactured in-house. While there is no doubt that Armin Strom is quite proud to marry the tradition for which its namesake represents with its modern day in-house caliber capabilities, this is also very exciting to a skeleton fan like me and others. Especially as I am in particular a fan of Mr. Armin Strom himself, a (now retired) modern day legend of the skeleton art.
You can see how incredible this watch looks. Even the going barrel springs are visible through the winding wheels. An amazing combination of form and function. The watch exudes hand craftmanship, leaving behind the feel of many of today’s mass-produced, industrial calibers and dials.
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