Archive for January 2010

Handcrafted, Truly

January 31, 2010

Briefly: A visit to Minerva Villeret

Over the years, Minerva Villeret has held fast to the working methods associated with Swiss watchmaking at its best: the art of haute horlogerie, which is practiced largely by hand. Read about my visit to Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie established jointly by Montblanc and Minerva. Read on


Hours to Last

January 30, 2010

Briefly: The International Watchmaking Museum at La Chaux-de-Fonds provides an impressive history of the measurement of time

Bracket Clock

We had stolen a day from the hectic Basel show and planned our visit to the Ebel Manufacture at La Chaux-de-Fonds at the insistence of a friend. Alix had asked us to be at Lausanne by 8am from where she would drive us to Ebel. An hour-long drive brought us to La Chaux-de-Fonds in the canton of Neuchatel at the western tip of Switzerland, close to the French border. Read more at

“Time resides outside of timepieces”

January 29, 2010

Briefly: What is time?

Have you wondered what is time?How do we explain the concept?

haute put forward these questions to Etienne Klein, the research director at the French Atomic Energy Commission, science populiser and author. What Klein says not only makes interesting reading but also shows how a scientist perceives and understands “time”.

Here are the excerpts:

What is your everyday relationship to time and the objects serving to measure it?

Time is the same for everyone but the watch we each wear on out wrist illustrates our personal rapport with time. A watch becomes out individual “bond” with time. The fascinating thing about watches is that they all show the same thing. They all have the same primary function which is to give time, and yet this doesn’t prevent huge diversity of prices. In reality, there is scarcely more time to see inside that time never directly exposes itself. No one has ever seen, smelled, heard or touched time. It never appears as raw phenomenon. We only perceive its effects and ersatzes. A watch disguises time as a combination of movement and duration, which we are encouraged to identify as time. A curious hand that moves forward, showing nothing of what it symbolizes. Times resides outside of timepieces.

Further Klein defines time in these words: “Time is not duration but that by which duration is produced. Its function is to endlessly renew the present moment so that a moment is always… present. This continuous succession is what we call a duration. I see time as a mobile prison, a prison on wheels if you like. It imprisons us in the sense that, unlike space, we cannot choose our position in time, nor the way this position moves through time. Of course we can escape the course of time in our thoughts by imagining ourselves at another point of time, but we can only do this from our present position. When we dream of the past, for example, we remain in the present: we dream only from the present.”

Isn’t that a novel way of seeing “time”?  Very unlike what Salvador Dali painted.

SIHH Presentation: Do’s and Don’ts

January 28, 2010

Presentation in process at SIHH Geneva 2010

When you attend a presentation you go there with lot of expectation: of being cajoled, wooed or pleased. Attending almost three presentation a day at SIHH 2010—the Mecca of premium Swiss watches—you are either bored by the time one has ended or sleepy when the next begun.

That brings me to the question: what makes a good presentation?

It should excite, attract or impress you. In short when the presentation is over you tell yourself: Wasn’t that was really good?

This year the presentations at SIHH were brief, finished within half and hour. Most of them began on time and at times even earlier (The presenter getting the cue from the occupied seats and with no place to stand).

Let me begin with what most considered the boring one. Jean Richard. The presenter went on with technical details. His text was dry and he delivered it as a lecture. It would have been better if he had asked the journalists to just read the brochure. It would have saved everybody’s time. A dandy looking man with two-day stubble on his chin displayed the watches.

In the same league was Greubel Forshey despite having products the world is crazy about and have wait for years to get one.

Mont Blanc has an interesting product in Metamorphosis but asking a watchmaker who is not conversant in English to explain the project behind was poor choice.

Baume & Mercier’s Facebook application was really good stuff. The women in the audience were not pleased to find that there was nothing for them in the new launches.

Van Clef Arpels have great watches and the lady who presented them did a good job wooing the audience with each new product. In fact, she has been doing the job very well.  They had products, which made people talk.

Richard Mille is not a brand that rings a bell. The brand’s presentation got the “wah..wahs”. For it was cheeky, humorous and though held post-lunch, when most feel sleepy, it kept the audience asking for more. The technical specifications were thrown not to scare the listeners but put matter-of-factly. An interesting presentation and what a good presentation should be. At the end the presenter admitted that he is a former journalist. May be that was the reason it was done so well.

Piaget as usual was good. Making a show of it with a jazz musician playing, models sashaying with the products in a nightclub décor.

Cartier, the Big C brand got the “oohs” and “aahs”. No, not for the presentation but for its diamond studded watches.

Diamond by the Hour

January 28, 2010

Breguet Montre Le Petit Trianon

You don’t need to be a goddess, a dream-maiden, a femme fatale, or a Hollywood starlet to adorn a Swiss high-end jewellery watch. But you surely need to have a taste to wear a Breguet or a Cartier! So what if your new acquisition for your wrist costs more than a Bugatti Veyron.

Read on

Asteroid on Your Wrist

January 27, 2010

Atelier Louis Moinet, named after one time associate of Abraham-Louis Breguet, father of tourbillon, unveiled four solar system-inspired tourbillon watches, each with its own genuine meteorite at the maiden Geneva Time Exhibition. The four watches unite to complete one-of-a-kind planetarium display, creating pièce de résistance for the ultimate watch collector.

Together, the four Meteoris watches uniquely unite the most legendary meteorites and depict the solar system in spectacular fashion, with each watch featuring a unique authenticated meteorite and a beautiful design inspired by that meteorite’s history and/or origin. Who said you can’t own a piece of an asteroid?

LOUIS MOINET Tourbillon Mars

The Meteoris Tourbillon Mars proudly displays the first stone from Mars ever used in watch making. That stone is finely inlaid into a hand-engraved dial and adorned with an astrolabe-type appliqué. The case is crafted from 18-carat white gold set with 56 baguette-cut Top Wesselton VVS diamonds totaling 3.46 carats. This meteorite was discovered in the Sultanate of Oman in 2008, and has been authenticated by the Russian Academy of Science, Moscow.

The others in this series are the Meteoris Tourbillon Rosetta Stone featuring the meteorite by the same name; the Meteoris Tourbillon Asteriod with parts from Itqiy, a mysterious asteroid that was formed near the sun; and the first tourbillon to display an authentic lunar meteorite, the Meteoris Tourbillon Moon which is distinguished by its dark structure featuring a number of fine occlusions and its 18-carat rose gold case.

LOUIS MOINET Tourbillon Moon

As with other Louis Moinet tourbillons, the magic of the Meteoris tourbillon movement is intensified by connecting its carriage to the barrel by means of a hand-drawn and beveled vertical bar. Each watch also features an open worked version of the barrel, with a cover that performs an average rotation in six hours. Exclusive to the Meteoris, however, is the hand-wound tourbillon movement that beats at a cadence of 21,600 vibrations per hour. Each watch provides spectacular visibility of the winding mechanism through its case-back. The “octopus” spring plays three roles by acting as pull-out piece spring, lever spring and click spring. Each Meteoris is presented in its own exceptional case composed of 50 different parts, with Louis Moinet’s patent pending crown guard. Each watch also depicts a hand engraving on the dial depicting the meteorite’s trajectory towards the earth, represented by a pietersite gemstone placed beneath the hands.

GTE Sparkler

January 27, 2010

Bi-Axial Black Pearl from HD3

I came across the interesting and good-looking Black Pearl range from HD3 at the Geneva Time Exhibition. I’m sure you too will like it.

This bi-axial tourbillon, according to watch maker Fabrice Gonet is inspired by the wonderful era of pirates and buccaneers, to which he added the retro-futuristic steampunk style so uniquely characteristic of Vulcania, a predecessor .


The design of the Black Pearl watch case is straight out of the world of pirates: there is a hatch on the 9 o’clock side of the case which looks like a cannon hatch of a naval man o’war from former times. It opens to give a panoramic view of the tourbillon from the side, and also reveals a plate on which can be engraved the name of the owner and ‘captain’ of the timepiece.

The hatch is decorated with a small plate in titanium pvd showing the famous skull-and-crossbones flag of the pirate Jack Rackham.

The sapphire glass back is engraved with a compass rose designed specially for the watch.

The design of the crown is reminiscent of a frigate’s tiller. The bi-axial tourbillon at the heart of this timepiece presents a unique display specially developed by Fabrice Gonet. In a salute to the early days of naval exploration, the hours are shown on a wheel, the minutes on a disk and the power reserve indicator takes the form of a sextant. Black Pearl has exclusive series of 11 pieces in titanium and PVD.