Sunday, October 25, 2015

Handcrafted Art Piece - My Dragon and how it was made

Russian watchmaker and engraver Stefan Vinogradov has crafted some pieces worthy of an independent watchmaker from the AHCI.

Some background - as a young boy, Stefan realised he likes working with his hands and as he matured, he was toying with the idea of being a chef or a jewelry maker. Culinary's loss is our gain as he chose to enrol himself in jewelry art classes. And from there, he went on to work for a Russian watch brand mastering the craft of engraving and later modifying movements.

Stefan lives and works out from Moscow and was recently in Singapore for his "honeymoon" with his lovely wife, Svetlana. And we were lucky enough to spend time with Stefan and Svetlana on their first trip to sunny Singapore!
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And we had dinner too at French Road kopitiam - yes, they were game for the steamed fish head. Their favourite was the fried brinjal (eggplant). Here after our makan session.
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But I digress... the more important thing was about how he goes about crafting one of the beauties like the Dragon he made for me. I got to know Stefan via Instagram. We exchanged emails several times, he showing me his previous works and the different kinds of dials and movement finishing.

Step 1 - Art work

I took some Dragon images off the internet and sent them to Stefan who then used a software to "clean" the image and then sent it back to me for approval. This was what we agreed to.
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Step 2 - Choosing the Case Type

Once we agree on the drawing, we need to choose the case type. He sends me some generic steel cases mostly available in stock. But Stefan can also make precious metal cases on order but of course that would increase the pricing and lead time too. Here are some cases he showed me.
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Step 3 - Choosing the Movement Type and Finishing

Stefan uses mostly the UNITAS 6498 or 6497 manual winding movement. Which one he uses depends on the final design and whether owner wants the seconds hand or not. And then we also have to choose the finishing style.

Stefan showed me some of his handy work - from the base UNITAS movement to the disassembly and the final engraved and polished product. Here is a base movement plate.
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This is another part of the base plate.
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Some of the parts taken apart, cut, engraved and polished to a shine. All hand done!
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The whole movement side by side.
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And when all that is done, he puts them back together.
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Step 4 - The Dial

So after the artwork is agreed, Stefan starts on the dial. He starts off with a blank brass plate and "transfers" the picture onto the dial. He cuts them, engraves them by hand and in this case, pays particular attention to the scales on the body of the dragon. Following pictures courtesy of Stefan.
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Step by step he engraves the plate.
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And a semi finished product.
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And a finished product before plating. Assembled and shown here beside the original brass plate.
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Step 5 - The Plating & Finishing

Then the plating begins to give it the final shine. Where he needs to add in the jewels or perhaps do some enamelling, Stefan does all these by hand. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures to show this process.

The final product in this case is this beautifully hand crafted art piece.
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This is a one-of-a-kind, piece unique timepiece Stefan made for me. He tells me that it takes about two to three weeks to hand engrave the movement and another two weeks for the dial. The hand work on the dial is very much dependant on the complexity of the dial. It can take up to three weeks for a dial and for my timepiece, Stefan took around 6 weeks from commission to completion.

Stefan tells me I'm his first customer in Singapore and with this first piece, hopes to be able to get more customers here. And I certainly hope he succeeds in getting a few more pieces commissioned.

For those interested in his work, you may contact Stefan via email at stefanjewels@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Instagram at @stefanjewels. Good luck my friend Stefan & Svetlana. I hope you enjoyed Singapore and meeting all the watch collectors too. See you back here soon.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Speake-Marin Tourbillon - Simple & Elegant

I recently became an owner of an earlier edition of the Resilience by Peter Speake-Marin and I am still loving it. Then I had the chance to meet the man after the acquisition. What a nice encounter too.

The Resilience comes in the Piccadilly case so recognisable as signature of Speake-Marin timepieces. Read more about the Resilience in an earlier post.
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Mr. Speake-Marin brought with him two of his new signature pieces - the Magister Tourbillon and the Magister Vertical Double Tourbillon.

First, the Magister Tourbillon... Simple yet complicated and oozes class. Fitted in the signature 38mm rose gold Piccadilly case, the Magister Tourbillon is a beauty on the wrist. The 38mm wears just nice for an Asian (read smaller) wrist. The dial is white enamel as one would expect from PSM. Great proportions and I love those blued hands.
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The case back is as stunning as the front. Featured here is an automatic movement with a platinum rotor.
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A closer look at the movement.
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And the Tourbillon too. A very well finished 60 seconds Tourbillon with the signature watchmaker's topping tool.
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Next up the Magister Vertical Double Tourbillon. They say two is better than one. But I disagree - the Vertical Double Tourbillon is nice but truth be told, I prefer the Magister Tourbillon for its simplicity.
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The more complicated Vertical Double Tourbillon also comes with a dial made from oven fired enamel, a power reserve indicator above the dial as well as a Day/Night indicator just beneath the dial. The J-Class timepiece comes in a white or rose gold Piccadilly case - 46mm.
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The case back features a manual winding movement. The finishing is great.
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Personally, the Magister Tourbillon is more appealing to me. Simply elegant. And the 38mm size in a Piccadilly case is just right for me. If only my pocket were deep enough.

Pictures taken with an iPhone 6.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Andersen Genève - World Timer 5th Edition

Svend Andersen - a name many would associate with some signature timepieces like the World Time watch and the Montre à Tact.

Recently, I was invited by friends from Deployant to view the new collection from Andersen Genève. I met with Pierre-Alexandre, the representative from the brand and he tells me that the brand makes around 50 timepieces a year, mostly highly customised pieces. He showed me three timepieces - the first is the World Time Tempus Terrae which is into its 5th Edition. The first World Time by Andersen was developed in 1990.

Since the Tempus Terrae commemorates the 25th Anniversary of the first timepieces, the folks at Andersen have made three variants - 25 pieces each in yellow gold, rose gold and white gold. First up, the yellow gold version. A very handsome timepiece - clean and very legible. Notice the lugs? Angled just right.
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The centre dial is made from "Blue Gold" - a mixture of gold and metal elements that when heated turns the alloy blue. And the hand guilloché scales makes the centre even more attractive - lends a nice reflection. The timepiece comes with a hunter case - closed case back with a lock resembling a globe. The clean case back is to allow for personalisation like engraving.
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Open the hunter case and the inside reveals an automatic timepiece with a blue gold rotor - also hand guilloché with the scale motif. Very pretty.
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Next up is the white gold version of the World Time. The timepiece is 39mm - just nice for me. The Tempus Terrae offers a wide range of personalisation which includes the addition of any city on the dial as well as the colour of the fonts. This is on top of allowing engraving on the case back.
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And the case back...
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Pierre-Alexandre also shows me some piece unique variants of the World Time - one for the ladies with baguette diamonds around the bezel. The small production numbers for Andersen is because many of their pieces are customised. The intention is to produce unique pieces tailored to the client's requirements. Much attention is given to the client, his/her personality and what they want in a timepiece. The "simplest" is the engraving and then there is the painting of the dials for the Montre à Tact which I shall feature in another post.

Thanks to the folks at Deployant and Andersen for sharing the timepieces. All photos taken by iPhone 6.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Next Logical Tudor Heritage Black Bay

Since the launch of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay with the Red and then subsequently the Blue, it was a matter of time they returned to their roots - relaunching the Black.


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The party began with the unveiling of the new timepiece. And then the stars came out to play. Do you know who they are? Hint, hint... Mediacorp twin artistes.
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But I digress... the feature is the watch. Here on the wrist of a Tudor Star.
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The Heritage Black Bay Black on a strap. I love those golden rimmed hands.
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And one on a bracelet.
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As with many Tudor timepieces, they make honest watches and at very reasonable price points. The Heritage series is no exception. Definitely a good timepiece to start one's collection off with. Perhaps they should release a set of three - Limited Edition, numbered.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Perpetually Yours - The IWC Portuguese Perpetual

This is one of the most recognisable perpetual calendars on the market.

It was love at first sight for me... but alas, has been out of my reach.
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The dial is well balances and not too crowded but for someone like me who is long sighted, even the clean layout is a challenge for me. And this variant comes with the North/South moonphase.
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This timepiece belongs to a friend of mine. Simply a beauty in every respect. The Portuguese range is an icon for IWC and although they have several iterations of this timepiece, I like the rose gold black dial the most.
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The case back features an automatic movement with the Pellaton winding system proprietary to IWC. The movement provides a seven days power reserve so well known in the Portuguese stable.
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The 18K rose gold case is rather well made and the crown is signed.
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A final look at the iconic Portuguese Perpetual.
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There are several variants out there but this rose gold black dial is one of my favourites. Then there is the white gold blue dial version which is also very handsome. Whatever the case is, I will settle for any variant of the IWC Portuguese Perpetual.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Lange 1 - 20th Anniversary Lange 1

In 1994, the world was introduced to one of the most iconic timepieces - The Lange One. In 2014, the good people at A. Lange & Söhne unveiled a series commemorating the occasion.

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Lange 1, A. Lange & Söhne presented five exclusive watch sets with the name Lange 1 “20th Anniversary”, consisting of the Lange 1 and the ladies’ watch Little Lange 1.

First, the platinum black dial version of the Anniversary piece. Seen here the pair - the lady's version comes with diamond bezel of course.
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The dial is made of solid-gold and is guilloché. Well decorated dial worthy of the 20th Anniversary tag.
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And of course the lady's version comes with diamond bezel. These are sold as a pair - limited to 20 watches of each type.
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This is the platinum case with a gold rhodium guilloché dial. I love the blue markers on the dial.
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Another much sought after combination is the rose gold black dial version. Gorgeous!
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This is the white gold blue dial version.
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And finally the rose gold white dial version.
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They are all gorgeous iterations - whichever combination you choose, it is a winner! The Lange 1 comes with the recognisable large date and 72 hours of power reserve. The Lange 1 is 38.5mm while the Little Lange 1 is 36.1mm.

I know this comes almost a year after the launch and all the timepieces are probably sold out by now, but I thought it was important to feature this important iconic sets. So which is your favourite combo?