LVMH’s Biver: Expensive Watches Are for Eternity, Smartwatches Lack Emotion

CNN’s Richard Quest recently spoke to Jean-Claude Biver, head of LVMH’s watch division and Hublot Chairman, about the emergence of smartwatches, the challenges Swiss watchmakers face due to the rise in the value of the Swiss Franc, and more.  It is a dynamic conversation in which Biver lauds the longevity and emotion of a Swiss mechanical watch, reveals which LVMH watch brand will get on the “smartwatch train” and why, and the reason for all those mono-brand boutiques.  The interview is also full of Biver’s usual candor and ebullience, which I really admire and appreciate.

Click here, or the image below, to watch the full 5 minute discussion (sorry CNN wouldn’t let me embed it here):

Biver on CNN

Patek Philippe Lowers Watch Prices in USA

EUR CHF Graph courtesy xe-com

As you may be aware, the Swiss Central Bank recently abandoned its caps on the CHF/EUR exchange rate.  This led to an immediate and rather significant ~15% move in the currency, to the detriment of Swiss watchmakers and other Swiss exporters.  The immediate reaction from the industry was one of shock and awe from those impacted. And of course, watch collectors everywhere wondered what all this would mean for prices (though some savvy buyers managed to snap up pieces in advance of anticipated price increases).  And now we are starting to get a clearer picture of new price dynamics in the luxury watch market, with recent announcements from two of the world’s most influential watchmakers.  Immediately after the exchange rate move, Rolex, the world’s largest watch brand, announced it would implement a high single-digit price increase in Japan.

Patek Philippe Logo

And now, Patek Philippe, one of the world’s preeminent and most prestigious watch manufacturers, has announced a series of price adjustments across its various markets.  As you can see in the letter below, the price changes — which include a 7% decrease here in the US — are an effort to adjust to the recent currency moves and reach price parity across markets.  Beyond the U.S., prices are being lowered in other geographies as well, and raised in others.  There is also mention of retail watch inventories being at “unreasonable levels” which surely factored into the announcement as well.

Click here to read the letter from Thierry Stern to his “Partners” (his retailers) outlining all the details:

Patek Philippe SA Global Price Adjustment Letter Feb 2015

And if you haven’t yet see our hands-on review and commentary on the new Patek Philippe Ref 5975 Multi-Scale Chronopgraph for the brand’s 175 Anniversary, you should check that out now, right here>>>

Patek-Philippe-5975-Perpetuelle-2 - Copy

Weekend Reading: Interview with H. Moser & Cie.’s Hon. Chairman

VeryImportantWatches.com, edited by watch industry insider Constantin Stikas, just recently posted an interview with Roger Nicholas Balsiger, the great-grandson of Heinrich Moser and honorary Chairman of H. Moser & Cie.  Heinrich Moser was of course the founder of H. Moser & Cie., a brand which is currently embarking upon a revitalization of sorts under the new ownership and energy of the Meylan family.

Over the last year or so I’ve been following the product launches at Moser every more closely as they attempt to position the brand as a make of “Very Rare Timepieces” (they are running ads here as well, as you can see).  Operating as an independent watch brand in today’s hyper-competitive and marketing-driven world of high-end watches is by no means an easy task, but so far, I think Moser is making good moves as they seek to restore the brand’s standing among the upper echelons of fine watchmaking and desirability with collectors.

Though it is a bit dry in some parts, the interview does provide a rather in-depth history of Heinrich Moser and the H. Moser Brand.  I recommend it to any Moser fan.  Click here to access the full interview (just click the “view PDF” link on the page) at VeryImportantWatches.com>>>

Moser HMC 802 gmt tourbillon caliber

 

Enamel Explained: The Art of Cloisonné, Grand Feu, and Champlevé

  JLC Master Ultra Thin Grand Feu Closeup

You see the terms referred to regularly here at Perpétuelle:  “grand feu”, “champlevé”, and “cloisonné”.    And what are they?  Enamel techniques, of course!  Very often used to create some of the most beautiful watch dials the world has ever seen.  But what exactly do these terms mean?  How are these enamel techniques different?  What distinguishes each of these enamel types from the others?  And what about those other rare occasions where we see the art of “flinque”, & “grisaille” — enamel techniques as well — on display.  I explore these questions and more in this overview of the art of enamel in watchmaking.

In many articles related to fine watchmaking, it is easy to brush past big, fancy (and typically French) words used to describe watchmaking techniques — enamel-related or otherwise.  But given that enamel dials are often the most unique and beautiful of all dials in fine watchmaking, with basically all of the most prestigious haute horlogerie brand producing such pieces (some more frequently than others), the time has never been better to deepen our understanding of what these terms mean.

Because of the organic nature of the material and manner in which it is produced — almost always by the skilled hand of an experienced artisan — I believe that it can be fairly stated that every watch with an enamel dial is a unique piece as well.   But for most, the difference between a cloissoné dial (such as that found on a Patek 5131G) and a champlevé dial (as seen on a Vacheron Metiers d’Art) is but another trivial watchmaking detail.  This naivete, I confess, was somewhat the case for me as well — at least for a while.  But then I became more and more intrigued by the art of enamel and decided to expand my knowledge base, which I share with you now.

This is an article I’ve had in my head for quite some time now, and an admittedly one that only the nerdiest of watch-nerds might appreciate.  But I’m glad to have finally finished it and I enjoyed writing it.  So follow along as I take you through the finer points of enamel and enameling techniques used in fine watchmaking.   And please note — this is not an exhaustive study of the very broad ranging “art of enamel”, but as I say will review the most commonly used techniques fine watchmaking, and a few less commonly used techniques as well.

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