Monday, October 22, 2018

The Pandial Black DLC Chronometer

From Brellum -

Courtesy of Brellum
This new version of the Pandial is available in two dial options, black (above), and silver (below) with contrasting sub dials.
Courtesy of Brellum

The case is of stainless steel and is treated with black DLC (diamond like coating), measuring 43 mm in diameter with a height of 11.70 mm.

Under the hood, the Valjoux 7750 keeps the time, and as with every Brellum, it is COSC certified.  

Attractively priced at CHF 2,405, and available directly from Brellum.

Here are the pertinents -

Movement 
Caliber -
Brellum BR-750 - 1 Chronometer automatic (base Valjoux 7750)
Chronometer, Officially certified by the COSC
Hours, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph, telemeter and tachymeter scale.

Case
43 mm stainless steel 316L , black DLC coating.  11.70 thick.  Box type anti-reflective sapphire crystal.  Domed dial indicating hours, minutes, chronograph.  Water resistant to 50 meters.  
 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

That's What Makes a Horserace

So as I continue to wear and enjoy the benefits of the NOWA connected watch, I just received the latest release from Montblanc, and to be honest, I think we have now reached a point where we have over-thought, over-developed, and dare I say it - over-engineered the idea of a watch.

Courtesy of Montblanc

My memaw Theo had an expression about differences of opinion, and how to voice an opinion without really voicing it (and hopefully avoid offending those in the opposite camp).

I am of a few minds when it comes to Montblanc and their watches.  I am in a weird place about it personally, because I count a guy who in many ways really blazed the trail for their watch making division  as a personal friend.  And hence I know what has gone into the real creation of Montblanc.  And although I have been somewhat guilty of it in the past, I recently find that I no longer feel that a company or brand must "stay in its lane".  In many ways Montblanc has done a great deal to grow beyond just pens.  And I am currently saving up for this item to shepherd Tempus Fugit and New Romantics communications and dossiers -

Courtesy of Montblanc

So to be very clear, I think that Montblanc does have a very cool product selection, and has elegantly grown to a more expansive luxury brand.

Having said that, this particular venture with a smart watch has perhaps outgrown the original idea.  

Courtesy of Montblanc
At the heart of the idea of a smart watch, is the idea that it will give us vital information that might make our lives easier, or help us live better.  Ways that a connected or smart watch can do this?  Different time zones, GPS tracking systems that can be used for children or senior citizens, alarms, notifications of important messages, sleep tracking or steps (i.e. physical activity).  

But somewhere after the Apple Watch made its debut, there seemed to be a belief that your watch should be able to do everything except (perhaps) make toast and coffee.

Now coffee for me is a very important part of every day life.  Coffee, in many ways, is a personal ritual.  It is also a social connector.  So I was a bit curious as to why I would need a smart / connected watch to tell me that I have had too much coffee?  Now, if there was an app in the phone that could ping me when I am in range of an awesome cafe?  Now that I would pay for ; )

I guess my point is this, it is now, perhaps, too much information that we are trying to funnel through such a small portal.  It is not a practical way to gather, store and disseminate.  And to manage all of these functions in a meaningful way?  It's going to take away (not add) several hours a week to your free time.  Technology that is designed to improve your life should do just that.  At this point, I have to question whether we have now over-shot the runway.

Finally, it is expensive for an item (like a cell phone) that has obsolescence already factored into its lifespan.  $995 US.  This is not a watch that you will hand down to others.  It will have a lifespan, then it will be consigned to landfill.  And this is not unique to Montblanc, Tag, or Apple.  It is just the reality of this type of watch.

But as always, here are the pertinents straight from the source, and you can judge for yourself -

#StayAhead With Summit 2: Montblanc Redefines Connected Elegance With Its New Smartwatch
  • Bridging fine watchmaking and state-of-the-art technology
  • Brand new 42mm case designed for both men and women includes the new Qualcomm
    Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset and exciting new features
  • Summit 2 is the ultimate wearable built for work, leisure, fitness or travel, accompanying today’s
    achievers through their everyday adventures
  • Includes the new Timeshifter® app and watch face – an effective way to reduce jet lag
    Named after its ambition to be a wearable companion that keeps its owner ahead in all aspects of life, Summit 2 is a new digital interpretation of fine watchmaking that seamlessly brings together the Swiss design codes of traditional timepieces, premium materials and brand-new technology. First launched in 2017 as luxury smartwatch with a distinctively classic and vintage look, the latest edition of Montblanc’s signature smartwatch features a more compact unisex 42mm case size that delivers the feeling of a mechanical watch on its owner’s wrist while offering innovative new features. Powered by advanced technologies on the market, Summit 2 is the first luxury smartwatch to feature the Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset by Qualcommfor enhanced performance, improved battery life and a weeklong time-only mode. The latest Wear OS by Google powers Summit 2 with iOS and Android smartphones.


“Built for travel, fitness or exploration, Summit 2 is a versatile companion created for urban explorers, business travellers and performance seekers looking to push boundaries in everything they do,” explains Nicolas Baretzki, Montblanc CEO. “These high achieving individuals want to be connected at all times with easy access to functional features and apps that allow them to always stay ahead and be productive on-the-go, while still enjoying the experience of wearing a fine timepiece. Whether work, leisure, fitness or travel, Summit 2 is built to seamlessly power them through their everyday adventures stylishly and reliably.”
Inspired by the design codes of the Montblanc 1858 collection, the new iteration of Summit offers several design expressions, from the classic elegance of 1858 and the vintage sophistication of the Summit, from the feminine allure of Bohème Date and Bohème Classic variations to the sporty Energy and Fitness styles designed for peak performance and physical activity.
With the built-in watch face configurator, over a thousand watch face combinations are possible by customizing indicators, background, hands and complications.
The different case finishes – black DLC steel, stainless steel, bicolour steel and titanium Grade 2 – can be combined with 11 different interchangeable strap options including calfskin, Milanese steel, rubber sport and nylon, to create a total of over 70,000 individual looks across the Summit 2 assortment. Each timepiece is fitted with a rotating crown and two additional programmable pushers.
Montblanc Summit 2 | New Technologies

A Companion for Urban Exploration
  • With the help of the Google Assistant, users will get proactive, personalized assistance like their flight status or upcoming reservations. They can also use the watch's microphone, to ask for help or get directions or translations. The Google Assistant can also manage tasks like setting reminders or checking your heart rate.
  • All notifications – including incoming calls, messages, social media updates, calendar events, news and more - are directly synced to the Montblanc Summit 2 from a smartphone. When there isn’t time to start typing a reply on the smartphone, the Montblanc Summit 2 offers built-in smart replies and other quick ways to respond with handwriting, keyboard or voice dictation.
  • The always-on colour ambient mode allows for the watch faces to be visible at all times, while delivering a full day of battery life running Wear OS by Google. The battery life can be extended by an additional 3 - 5 days by deactivating smartwatch functionality while still showing the time at a flick of the wrist.
    Making Travel A Seamless Adventure
  • Summit 2’s exclusive travel functions include the new Timeshifter® app and watch face, providing personalized advice to minimize jet lag based on the traveller’s sleep pattern, chronotype, and flight plan. Used by astronauts and elite athletes, and based on the latest in sleep and circadian neuroscience, Timeshifter provides timely updates and instructions directly on the Summit 2 watch face, helping travellers to adjust fast to a new time zone.
  • The new Montblanc exclusive Travel Info app provides relevant local traveller information.
  • The practical voice-activated translator gives its user direct translations from a multitude of languages directly to the watch’s display, making travelling in foreign countries simpler than ever.


• With the addition of Google Pay, meals, tickets and new experiences can be purchased in a fast easy way, without cash.
Reaching New Heights of Fitness
  • Achieving peak physical performance is a key function of Summit 2. The exclusive Montblanc Running Coach app, powered by scientific insight from the Firstbeat* analytics engine, enables runners to track fitness levels (based on VO2max) and specify a fitness goal which translates into a personalized training plan built around ideal efforts and recovery times.
  • The integrated live coach provides the right pace and intensity level during training to help users reach their fitness goals.
  • Summit 2 features an improved Heart Rate Algorithm and 5 ATM water-resistance making it resilient to swimming. The integrated GPS allows navigation and more precise fitness tracking when away from the phone.
    *Firstbeat is a registered trademark of Firstbeat Technologies Oy
    Summit 2 is available from October 15th 2018. For further information, visit
    www.montblanc.com/Summit2
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Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Panda Bleu

From Czapek -

Courtesy of Czapek
This will be offered exclusively through Oster in Denver through the end of this year, and my understanding is a wider release will follow in 2019.

Here are the pertinents, straight from the source -
 
FUNCTIONS

Chronograph, Hours, Minutes & Seconds
Chronograph's Minutes at 3 o'clock
Chronograph's Hours at 9 o'clock
Small seconds at 6 o'clock
Date at 6 o'clock

MOVEMENT

Caliber SXH3: Haute Horlogerie integrated automatic Chronograph movement with a bespoke execution
Power reserve: 65 hours
Frequency: 5 Hz - 36'000 VpH
Column Wheel, Vertical Clutch and Linear Hammer
Golden Rotor with Czapek logo
Diameter: 30mm -13 lines 1/4
Height: 6.95mm
Finish: finely sandblasted and diamond polished anthracite bridges, snailed trottoirs

 
CASE & BRACELET

41.5mm Stainless Steel Case
Sapphire crystal Glass-Box with anti-reflective treatment
Sapphire case back with Anti-reflective treatment on the inner side.
Water Resistance: 50m
Rubber Strap with a steel
deploying buckle
 

DIAL
Handcrafted Guilloché "Résonance" bombé dial in AuPtPdAg
Baton applied indexes with Super Luminova treatment
12 in Arabic numeral with Super Luminova treatment

HANDS
Czapek Modern Rodhium plated steel hands
Hour & Minutes hands with
Super Luminova treatment
Small second hand with red tip

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Exit Visas are Imminent

In the ongoing game of musical chairs, the warm 'n fuzzy people at the SIHH in partnership with Breitling have jammed their thumb in the BaselWorld organizers' eye -

Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie welcomes Breitling as a new partner brand

What's in a name?  Haute is a funny word, it is used and misunderstood by a lot of people.  In the context of "Horlogerie" it is, apparently, as malleable as a rogue sales director's moral compass.  
 
In the interest of full-disclosure, I did not study French in school.  But with the help of St. Google, I was able to get this definition of haute, courtesy of our good friends at the Urban Dictionary and Betty Harvard -

Haute means "high" in French. It is pronounced "hote", NOT "hot". It is used most commonly with the word "Couture" (pronounced catore) which means "fashion" in French. Thus, Haute Couture means High Fashion.
It does not, however, mean hawt, hot, sexy, whatever. People who use haute in place of those words are idiots who seriously need to read the REAL dictionary instead of urbandictionary.com.
 
by Betty Harvard September 01, 2005

Please forgive me while I stifle a snicker,  Breitling has made it very clear that they are going to lower priced models.  Baume & Mercier produce watches at a price and finish level that are clearly not in the "haute" category, but make one or two show ponies a year, and, well, they are a Richemont brand, so I guess they get a pass.  There is nothing wrong with this, but when I consider the particularly snotty attitude of the SIHH organizers (read Richemont and their party planners at the US firm retained to send invitations), I find this particularly comical.  On the one hand, the SIHH would have you believe that they are far more inclusive and that they are creating a better fair that offers far more exposure for journalists and the public than BaselWorld.  On the other hand?  Bullshit.  The SIHH is designed and conducted in a manner to ensure that those who wish to attend will have to pass through a vetting process that is more restrictive than any Ivy League secret society.   And the public?  You've got one day watch fans!  Make the most of it!

So if you are drinking coffee, put it down so that you don't snort that dark, hot beverage through your nostrils and expel it onto your jammies.

Here's the release, just as it came across the wire yesterday -

Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie welcomes Breitling as a new partner brand

Synonymous with precision and innovation, Breitling is the 43rd brand to join the FHH in its mission to promote excellence in watchmaking.

Geneva, October 16, 2018 – Having welcomed 13 new brands in 2017, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie continues to grow with the arrival of Breitling, a storied name in traditional watchmaking, established in Saint-Imier in 1884, as its 43rd partner-brand.

Since 2005, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) has pursued its mission to promote Fine Watchmaking worldwide. Supported by its partners - highly regarded figures in traditional watchmaking and representatives of contemporary watchmaking - the FHH has successfully developed its activities to inform, train and organise events for both professionals and the public. Thanks to these common values and shared ambitions, the FHH has established itself as a respected voice, able to promote the authenticity and legitimacy of excellence in watchmaking. As a brand recognised for its history, creativity, expertise and innovation, Breitling is embedded in this unique environment.

From the opening by Léon Breitling of a modest workshop in Saint-Imier, in 1884, to the modern Manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds we know today, Breitling has consistently stood out for its fabulous capacity to innovate, and its forward-looking mindset. It quickly made a name with a timer/tachymeter that measured speed. In 1915, Breitling also became one of the world’s first manufacturers to present a wrist chronograph with a separate pusher above the watch crown.

In 1934, Willy Breitling, the third generation to run the family business, unveiled an essential invention: a second separate pushpiece, exclusively dedicated to resetting the chronograph to zero. This patented feature was the final touch in giving the wrist chronograph its modern face.

Its involvement with flight began in the late 1930s, as aviation came of age, and the brand has continued to lead the field with chronographs whose fabulous precision still makes them the choice of pilots worldwide. Since 1952, the Navitimer – whose signature circular slide rule can be used to perform some twenty essential calculations and conversions while airborne – has confirmed Breitling as a reference in aviation. From the land and the sky to the ocean's depths, dive watches are another area in which Breitling excels, with expertise that goes back to 1957 and the launch of the SuperOcean, water-resistant to 200 metres. Not forgetting the brand's role in the conquest of space, as the maker of the first Swiss chronograph to go into orbit, worn by the astronaut Scott Carpenter in 1962.

Synonymous with mechanical exploits and a symbol of chronometric precision, throughout its long history, Breitling has championed values of excellence, and has taken its heritage and capacity for innovation to the highest summits. This is an ambition shared by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, which takes immense pleasure in welcoming this esteemed Manufacture among its partner-brands.

In the bigger picture? Most likely Breitling will uncouple itself from BaselWorld in 2020. My best guess is that the contract for BaselWorld 2019 has been signed and needs to be concluded, but it seems likely they will be moving south in the following years.
 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Maurice Lacroix has joined the small group of kaputtniks who have opted not to participate in a traditional, large fair this year.

Again, my gut is telling me that this is not a reaction to what they may (or may not) feel is a poorly run fair.  Maurice Lacroix always had a good sized booth, and "drinky-night" was every night.  But I also know that sales have been iffy for some time, a few different heads of North American sales & distribution have been through the turnstile, and DKSH (their parent company) had been looking to offload them along with Glycine for quite some time.  Sort of like the local appliance store's "semi-annual" going out of business sale, only trying to sell a brand worth (according to the sellers) a whole bunch of money.

Unlike some of the other commentators out there who have been quoted with such bon mots as:

"If I don't get business class and a 4 star room IN BASEL?  I'm not going!"

Well, some of us are not quite so precious, so unless we get down to 10 brands in hall 1, I will certainly be there.

There are going to be brands who bow out - and if I am being blunt, these are brands that had a LOT of opportunities to make economies elsewhere (say, not sponsoring that yacht, for example), but refused to do it.  And now it's time to pay the piper. 

And for those who are believing the pundits who are crowing about increased export numbers and how that MUST mean that sales are up?  Walk into a Tourneau, or pretty much any other watch retailer.  Sales do not match the exports, which means the exports will continue to prop-up the grey market, which means that Touch of Modern will continue to do a brisk trade, which means that retailers will continue to feel the pinch, which means that they will look to other, smaller and/or unique brands to gain back customer share.  Which seems only fair as the big dogs are kind of sticking it to them right now.

So we shall see, but not to worry, there are plenty of other brands out there ready to take some space in BaselWorld.