Sunday, August 13, 2017

Movements & Dials - Instant Recognition

There are movements and then there are Movements...

Some timepieces are instantaneously recognised by their movements - and ask most watch collectors, they will tell you immediately which movement comes from which brand etc. And to the TOTALLY serious collectors, they can even tell you the calibre, the watch no matter how complicated or simple the movement is etc.

Let's start with this... Aside from the name on the movement, one can immediately tell this is a Pascal Coyon Chronometer.

Next, another icon... the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph.

The construction of the movement is unmistakably a Lange and for the owners of either the Datograph or the 1815 Chrono, this is all too familiar.

What about this? A few key features are a giveaway of the brand one of which is the interchangeable escapement.

Another interesting calibre - when you see the "Devil's Tail", one immediately knows this is a Minerva movement adapted for Montblanc.

Last but not least, a manual winding chronograph perpetual calendar from the Manufacture Roger Dubuis.

And the beauty is not only confined to the movement. Simple yet recognisable is the Chronometer by Pascal Coyon. The white lacquer dial and the red numerals.

Another white dial to die for is the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph. As magnificent as the movement side. Pure...

And the simplest complication of the Moser Perpetual One... black lacquer dial. And if one were not observant enough, who would know this as a perpetual calendar. Simply brilliant!

Montblanc chose to use a Grand Feu enamel dial on their Vintage Pulsographe. Gorgeous!

And the Sympathie by Roger Dubuis featuring a bi-retrograde chronograph perpetual calendar. But what is special about this timepiece is the shape of the case and the sapphire glass that is cut out in the shape of the case. Later models came with circular sapphire glass.

Many of us collectors would like to be able to flip the timepiece to the other side ala "Reverso" and wear the movement side up every now and then. Not to say that the dials aren't anymore beautiful, but looking at the movement every now and then is one of the reasons why us collectors choose mechanical marvels like these.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Golden Charm - A Speake-Marin Icon in Gold

It saddens me that Peter Speake-Marin no longer is associated with the brand he founded in 2002.

With his background in antique restoration and starting his early years in Piccadilly, Speake-Marin designed the now recognisable and iconic Piccadilly case, with distinctive screwed lug and pleated crown. The Speake-Marin of early years came in either the 38mm or the 42mm case. Featured here is the 38mm example which actually fits in pretty nicely for me. And if I am not mistaken, the range called Resilience only came in later.

Due to the case design, and in particular the lugs, the 38mm actually wears like a 40mm. I do have one of the Resilience in a steel case with a Grand Feu Enamel dial but some also come in gold cases as in this case - a solid rose gold case with a rose gold dial.

The signature case - the Piccadilly and the signature lugs. Each Resilience comes with an anti-reflective coated Crystal on the front and case back too.

But the beauty of this piece is in the centre engraving which is hand done.

Hand engraved Guilloché dial - the number of hours put into this gorgeous beauty is unimaginable.

A close up of the centrepiece.

The sheen of the Guilloché dial in pink gold.

The flame-blued steel hands are particularly well made and classic Speake-Marin "Foundation" style central hours and minutes.

A nice brushed dial on the inside.

The timepieces comes with an automatic winding modified ETA2824 movement. What has been changed in the Calibre FW2012? Well, the bridges, gear train, setting lever spring, main plate and rotor wheel has been either replaced or re-designed and they are all hand polished prior to encasing.

The winding rotor features the Speake-Marin signature motif - the watchmaker's topping tool.

The modified movement also features a solid construction with a large balance for precise timekeeping.

The Calibre FW2012 comes with a 42 hours power reserve, 26 jewels and a balance frequency of 28,800 vph. The rotor is hand polished and the quality is excellent!

Totally, a nice package

The rose gold case and Guilloché rose gold dial coupled with the blued steel hands makes the Speake-Marin a very attractive proposition. Peter makes some awesome timepieces which I have covered before and I have to say my favourite being the Magister Tourbillon. Simple complication.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Pascal Coyon - Chronomètre Extraodinaire

Every now and then, a new timepiece comes to the market and it takes the notice of collectors. And was it quick to go. And for good reason too.

The Pascal Coyon Chronomètre is a simple yet elegant timepiece - great value for money too. And it is long time coming. I ordered mine some time back in August of 2014 and was told by Mr. Coyon he was closed to closing the orders. Based in France, the timepiece was very much sought after and by the time he finished my piece, almost three years have lapsed. And I know of collectors who are still waiting for theirs.

But the wait was worth it... 100%. The timepiece is entirely hand finished by Mr. Coyon who is based on Bayonne (South West), France. He tells me that he finds it difficult to source for quality craftsman near to where he is based which is the main source of the delay. Only him... yup, only him. So I take refuge in the fact that this is one of the first batch to be (almost) entirely made by Mr. Coyon himself. Couldn't ask for more.

But what is exceptional about this piece is the on the movement side. I normally start with introducing the timepiece featuring the dial side but I have to say that the movement of the Pascal Coyon Chronomètre is the reason why anyone would want this piece. Take a look...

The movement is a UNITAS based movement but highly modified and hand finished. The movement comes in three versions - rose gold plated, yellow gold plated and rhodium plated. By the time I made the selection, the rhodium plated ones were the only ones left. Engraved on the movement are the words "France" and "P Coyon"...

And the fine adjustment is also a modified mechanism.

The movement number (1900B19) is also engraved on the base plate. You can also see the frosted finish on the movement. When I wind the movement, it comes to live immediately after one wind. Excellent reaction from the movement. My only gripe is that the movement does not "hack" i.e. the second hand does not stop when you pull out the crown.

Every movement is hand finished by Mr. Coyon and the finishing is nothing short of stunning! And for under EUR4,500, this is really great value. For this price, you can't get a main brand finished to this level.

Each of the movement is limited to 20 examples and the limited edition number is hand engraved on the movement. Mine is 19/20. The mirror finishing on the movement bridges are exceptional - especially for a piece at this price level. I cannot think of another piece that comes close to this level of finishing. Great effort by Mr. Coyon and I am sure that owners of the Chronomètre will agree with me - looking at the movement alone is satisfaction enough.

And now for the dial side. Simple and elegant...

The little details are great - for example the curved minute hand... Come to think of it, this is my first French made timepiece! Vive la France!

The white lacquer dial has three variants - one with a navy blue numbers, one with black numbers and the one with black numbers but with red 12 (hour) and 60 (seconds). As you can see, I chose the black and red combo. There are two crown choices - the classic or the onion crown. I chose the former.

As for the hands, they come in two model - the "pomme-breguet" and the "marine" style hands and I chose the latter. Case-wise, he has two cases - the 42mm stepped case and the simpler 41mm case. I chose the 41mm. And all this is asked of you again when the movement has passed the Besançon Observatory chronometer test. From that point, one has to wait around 6 weeks for the final product.

Lovely white lacquer dial with railway track minute indicator.

The Red 12 and the red 60 gives the timepiece a unique look.

Hands are well finished as one would expect.

Another look at the red 12.

Each timepiece comes in a wooden case with a Chronomètre Certificate from the Observatoire De Besançon. On it, shows the movement number as well as the Observatoire reference number.

For the power reserve, we are told the timepiece has 48 hours of power reserve but mine ran 52 hours. On the first day, the accuracy came within 2 seconds (faster) and by the time it went into the 40 hours range, the difference was about 6 second faster. Acceptable and definitely within Chronometer specs.

On the wrist, the 41mm case wears well for me. Mr. Coyon said he was working through summer to finish the rest of the orders and I hope he will have a new timepiece released after that. Stay tuned and merci Mr. Coyon!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Photobucket Denial of Service

Apologies for the lack of images linked to my Photobucket account.

As you may already have noticed, the notification says "Please update your account to enable 3rd Party Hosting". What Photobucket means by "update" is to pay for using their platform. While I am not totally opposed to paying for space, what I cannot understand is the fact that the denial was immediate and done before I could even react. Service was denied and email notification came after the fact.

They have three packages - 50GB, 100GB and 500GB packages and in order to link and post to your blog, you need to go for the highest package i.e. the most expensive one. In order words, Photobucket is saying "take it or leave it." Photobucket for me was a free photo hosting service and I say thanks for the service. I am a small user using only 19% of the 10GB allowance.

Emails to them have gone unanswered. I do apologise for the lack of images on my blog while I sort this out with Photobucket. Appreciate your patience.

P.S. - (Updated on 4th July) Photobucket has responded on 3rd July and insisted I sign up for the Plus 500 package. This is their response... "We ask that you upgrade to our Plus 500 subscription to continue using us to host your images. This subscription is the only option for off-site photo hosting at this time."

I have responded to their email and now await their response.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Fitting Tribute - Speedmaster Apollo XVII Anniversary Edition

The Omega Speedmaster Apollo XVII 45th Anniversary Edition is a sight to behold. The release is a tribute to Eugene Cernan better known as Gene Cernan, the last man to step onto the moon in 1972 onboard the Apollo XVII flight.

The historic Speedy has always been associated with the moon landing and nicknamed the Moonwatch. Google Moonwatch and Speedy and the images of the Speedmaster Pro will turn up. This year at Baselworld 2017, Omega unveiled the tribute piece to Gene Cernan, appropriately named Speedmaster Apollo XVII Anniversary Edition. Featured here is the steel version reference 311. coming with a solid steel bracelet and limited to 1972 pieces - the year Gene Cernan made the last drop in on the moon.

This is not the first blue dial Speedmaster Pro but this blue is different. Perhaps it has got something to do with the ceramic dial - made of Zirconium Dioxide aka Zirconia. Ceramic is a contemporary material that Omega uses, especially in recent Moonwatches, that adds aesthetic value. Similarly, the Ceragold used in the blue bezel is also a patented technology belonging to Omega.

A closer examination of the dial reveals the chemical symbol ZrO2 which is the symbol for Zirconium Dioxide. Zirconium Dioxide is a kind of ceramic material and in this case, is used on the Anniversary piece. The ceramic dial together with the gold combination of the markers, hands and sub-dial rims lend a touch of class to the otherwise sporty timepiece. What is also evident is featuring a racing-style minute track as opposed to the "normal" minute markers found in other Speedies. The racing-style minute track was introduced in the 1996 version of the automatic Speedy launched in conjunction with Michael Schumacher who was then the new brand ambassador.

And what about the red font 05:34 GMT you might ask? Well that was supposed to be the time Gene Cernan stepped on the moon for man's last lunar walk. And notice how reflective the dial is - and I can tell you, the blue on the dial is so hard to capture. My photographs do no justice to the beauty of the blue ceramic dial. As for the use of the blue ceramic, this is one of many new materials used by Omega to enhance the overall quality of its timepieces.

Another closer look at the time 05:34 GMT. A nice vermilion hue.

On to the logo at 9 o'clock - that is the patch of the Apollo 17 which is the same patch found on the Apollo 17 Limited Edition released in 2012. The etching is brilliantly done on this one - something only a ceramic dial can achieve with precision electroforming (gold) manufacturing technology.

The gold hands are as one would expect of Omega. Nicely done to blend well with the timepiece. But did you notice that the two hands on the 3 o'clock and 6 o'clock subdials are white in colour while the one at 9 o'clock is gold? Bet you didn't notice it at first glance...

Next, the applied gold markers. The tip of the marker is coated with white Superluminova coating. The blue bezel is also interesting - it uses Ceragold for the tachymeter scale.

Housed in the Moonwatch is the Lemania based Calibre 1861. Unfortunately, I was not able to take a picture of the case back but the solid steel case back is exact replica to the dial of the Apollo 17 patch.

While the steel version comes in a limited quantity of 1972 piece, the original gold version of this timepiece was limited to 72 pieces. So good was the response to the launch that Omega decided after BaselWorld to increase that to 272 pieces much to the disdain of early adopters.

My take on the Speedmaster Apollo XVII Anniversary Edition - this is a winner and if you are a Speedy fan, I suggest you already reserve one for yourself. I believe it will be sold out pretty quickly if not already.

This year (2017), Omega celebrates 60 years of the Speedmaster Pro. To track the milestone of the evolution of the Moonwatch, check out the Omega website dedicated to all the iterations of the icon.

P.S. - After having a conversation with Gregory Kissling, Head of Product Management, I stand corrected to the significance of the time 05:34 GMT - that was the time Gene Cernan took the last step on the moon, not the first. How Omega had come about this timing was through the help of NASA and scouring the transcripts of the conversation between Gene and Houston Mission Control. So now I know the truth!