Sunday, April 21, 2019

Overtime with the Siduna M3440 Professional Compax Chronograph

Editor's note - this review originally began the week before I left for BaselWorld, and I wore the Siduna during the fair alternating between my Minase 5 Windows and my Sartory Billard.  I then wore it for an additional 2 weeks following the fair.



Since the announcement of the launch of the new and improved Siduna, I have been very anxious to get my hands on one and put it through its paces.  As I was getting packed-up and ready for BaselWorld, the folks at Siduna asked if I'd like to take one of their new chronographs for a test drive during the fair, and so I took the M3440 along with me.



During the fair, I wore a few different watches, and as I was "working" on behalf of Minase and Sartory Billard, I wore those watches while on duty at The HYPE.  But I switched to the Siduna M3440 for my time inside Hall 1 and other press appointments.  

Now as my photography skills are, I have been led to understand, somewhat lacking, here is a nice shot directly from Siduna so you get a flavor for the M3440 -


Courtesy of Siduna
So you get the idea.  I got a lot of double-takes and comments like -
"I thought you were a social worker, how'd you afford a Type XX", etc.  Upon closer examination, several people were struck by the level of finish, as well as the look and feel of the watch itself.  

Well, let's get back to the review itself -

I will concur with my colleagues in the Fourth and Fifth Estates on the build quality of the M3440.  It is first rate.  The case is definitely in the "Godilocks" category when it comes to size - it is just right.  It measures 40 mm in diameter, with a case height (or thickness) of 16.1 mm.  The unidirectional bezel extends slightly beyond the confines of the case diameter, measuring 42 mm in diameter.



(apologies for the dust spots, I did not give the watch a complete wipe-down for each photo).



The watch has presence, but I don't feel like a poser wearing it.  It is a "wrist-appropriate" size.  And although it has some stature owing to its height on the wrist, it is nothing to forbidding.



The case itself is of stainless steel, austenitic stainless steel to be more precise.  And just what is austenitic stainless steel?  Well, per Wikipedia:

Due to their crystalline structure austenitic steels are not hardenable by heat treatment and are essentially non-magnetic

Now before everyone goes off having a Eureka moment, let's just clarify that 316l falls into this category.  But it is still kind of a fun way to describe the steel type as opposed to the typical numeric designation.

The case back is solid, not a display back and I am profoundly grateful for that.  It maintains true to the overall aesthetic and the original inspiration for the watch.



And just what is the inspiration?  Well, curious to relate, Siduna is now based in Sweden.  But it wasn't always so.  Siduna started out life as a Swiss brand, and then it went the way of so many, shuttering due to the decline of the mechanical watch business.  But  Siduna then found a new home in Sweden and recently the brand changed hands one last time and is now back in business and making watches.  The case of the M3440 is based on a somewhat "standard" case of it's time, incorporated into a watch that was used by the Svenska Flygvapnet (that's Swedish Air Force to you) in 1973.  The original design, per Siduna, was from Ervin Piquerez's SA design, circa 1968. And if it bears similarities to cases of the same era from Breguet, Heuer, Lemania and Bucherer (among others) that is because it was a pretty standard solution.  

The bi-compax chronograph ran smoothly, re-setting was tactile and precise.  The time keeping beyond reproach, in short?  Everything worked as advertised.

The movement is based on the Valjoux's 7750, and again, before all the Pointdexters out there feel the need to express their expertise on this matter, and how it couldn't possibly be, blah, blah, blah...
Relax, it is not exactly an "off the shelf" solution.  In Siduna's own words -

Our movements are based on an automatic ETA 7750 with Top finishing. They undergo several substantial modifications in a small workshop from La Chaux-de-Fonds, such as the removal of the date mechanism and the relocation of the minutes subsidiary dial from 12 o'clock to 3 o'clock thanks to a proprietary module, and an upgrade to blue screws. The calibre 13 Phi received additional modifications on the back side to add the fly-back function.

The crown is screw down, and bears the markings of the famous (albeit esoteric) Compressor model that was, you guessed it, produced by Piquerez.  And for those of you so inclined, a pretty solid piece of research on the subject can be found here -
https://medium.com/sidunawatch/piquerez-from-drivers-to-pilot-watches-961957c25d5d?fbclid=IwAR0na59MUz1ZIzwBzRHNlAMsfm-yQtb5kUv-ws-Kv-6SXmFyhsjr0Z2DAiI



But, important to note that although the crown bears the markings of the Compressor, it is not the same function, it is aesthetic, but I think pays a nice, subtle homage to the original case.

Now last, but not least?  The strap!  The strap is a very, very nice bit of kit!  This one is the Havana Brown version.  Curious to relate, it was a very comfortable strap right out of the box, whereas some straps can be a bit stiff even after the "get ready roll" -



So here's a friendly tip from your old pal Henki, who learned it from his old pal Rod:  if you have a strap that you feel is too stiff (calfskin!  I would not necessarily recommend this approach with anything exotic), simply roll the strap ends up like a tube of toothpaste.  And boom!  You're ready to rock!  The strap itself was smooth, supple and extremely well finished.  The perfect pairing to the M3440.  It is completed with a signed Siduna buckle -



Quite smashing!

But just to keep things interesting, I had pre-ordered an Erika's Original strap  -



And Erika herself delivered it to me in Basel!



It gave a fun bit of twist to an already super-dope watch!



And for those of you unfamiliar, the straps made by Erika's Originals are The Shit That Killed Elvis!  Yes, they are that good.  Throw away your shitty old NATOs and get ahold of the real thing!

Back to the M3440, here are the pertinents, direct from Siduna -


DIMENSIONS 

  • Bezel diameter 42.0 mm
  • Lug width 20.0 mm
  • Case thickness 16.1 mm

MECHANICAL MOVEMENT

  • ETA/Valjoux 7750 base
  • Thickness 7.9 mm
  • Self-winding mechanism
  • 25 bearing synthetic rubies
  • 28'800 alternances per hour (4 Hz)
  • Seconds stop
  • ISO 764 Anti-Magnetic
  • ISO 1413 Shock-Resistant

CASE

  • Austenic stainless steel, satin brushed
  • Double-domed aspheric sapphire crystal, anti-reflective coating on the inside
  • Screw-down case back, individually numbered
  • Screw-down crown
  • ISO 22810 Water-Resistant
  • Pressure-resistant to 10 bar

FUNCTIONS

  • Hours, minutes and subsidiary seconds
  • 30 minutes and ¼ seconds chronograph

DIAL AND HANDS

  • Matte black dial with recessed subsidiary dials
  • 5 minutes indices with Super-LumiNova® BL C3 Grade A
  • Numerals with Super-LumiNova® BL C3 Grade A
  • Hour and minute hand coated with Super-LumiNova® BL C3 Grade A

LIMITED WARRANTY

  • 2 years

The M3440 is also available in a Flyback version, the one I wore and reviewed is the standard.  Both are extremely well priced, with the Compax priced at € 1,480 without VAT.  It gets a very solid two thumbs up from this reviewer, without a doubt one of the best automatic chronographs I have worn in some time.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Forecast Calls for Pain...

As that other great commentator on the watch industry, Alfred Tennyson might have mused -

In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of... pain.

Courtesy of the FH

Now apologies for the fuzzy condition of the image, but in fairness, the statements from the FH regarding the purported growing strength of the Swiss watch industry are somewhat fuzzy in their logic when viewing their own graph.

Let's make this pretty simple.  As the graph above shows, export numbers have been slowly, but steadily dropping off since August.  Now taken in context of previous years?  Yes, things are somewhat better.  But while I think that this is a "glass is half-full" point of view, it doesn't necessarily mean that there is no water in the glass at all.  But it does mean that the water is rapidly evaporating.

In speaking with a friend how knows about these things, he has informed me that the HR scalpels are out, and as the fat has already been trimmed, the next step is happening - assembling companies are starting to cut hours.  More than that, several other assemblers are simply letting staff go.  And that's the part that should be most concerning.  You don't hear about people like assemblers getting let go.  Let's face facts, they are not brand employees.  Owing to this, the leaders of these big groups, and even the smaller brands can claim that all is well!  But it isn't.  This is yet another canary in the coalmine.  

In reflecting back on the incredible shrinking fair that is BaselWorld, and whether their over-inflated egos can admit it, SIHH as well, let's be very honest - this is a symptom of a larger problem.  The fairs, the number of attending brands, retailers and enthusiasts are merely a reflection of the overall health of the industry.  And right now?  The industry is still paying the price of playing with Confederate money for so many years.


 

 

 



Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Breitling's Gotta' Bounce

In a press release so clumsily worded it left me expecting a request for my social security number and bank routing details, the folks at the BaselWorld party planning committee announced that Breitling was "Audi 5000" for BaselWorld 2020. 

Having read through the press release several times, and realizing that it was not written and sent by a former "most excellent prime leading-minister's daughter's son-in-law" promising to share a secret government stash of cash, I came to understand that despite their best efforts, the management team responsible for BaselWorld 2020 were not able to convince Breitling to stay on for the fair next year. 

And in all honesty?  I am of two opinions here.  The brain trust that is the Breitling PR/Communications group is not known for "warm fuzzies" in terms of their ability, or let's be honest, willingness, to engage with the press at large.  When I can get an appointment with pretty much any other brand, and when my emails and even phone calls to every possible branch of Breitling go unanswered, I get the sneaking suspicion that the folks at Breitling are really not bothered as to whether I cover them or not.  So on a personal level?  I really could not care any less than I already do whether or not Breitling and their "squads" will be within a country mile of Hall 1.

But hey, that's just little me.  But for the fair organizers?  This is a big deal.  Ironically, Breitling was given pride of place in Hall 1 and have, essentially, turned up their nose.  Now truth be told, their arguments are all valid - the show is going to be happening too late to really accommodate what they (and every other brand) are hoping to accomplish by participating in the world's biggest watch fair.  That being actual retail partners coming in and placing actual orders.  Most of the real sales work will have happened already.  It does not help that the show is in lock-step with the SIHH which is also happening much too late in the year.  Add to that those pesky  holidays that will very likely impact and curtail the number of participants from around the world.  

You can't put all of the blame solely on BaselWorld.  The SIHH botched this up just as much.  But despite all of the warnings and suggestions being offered, both fairs seem determined to ignore the concerns of the brands, the retail partners and the press at large.  But in all honesty, if they can?  They should change the dates of both fairs.  This would, of course, mean admitting a mistake by both the BaselWorld organizers and the SIHH, but wouldn't a slightly bruised ego be a small cost to pay for creating a better set of fairs?

We shall see, but for now all we can do is watch as Breitling's Squads fly off into the sunset.

 

Sunday, April 14, 2019

What was Cool at BaselWorld - Patek Philippe

One of the rare, halfway decent pictures you will find posted by yours truly ; )

This is the 5168G - Aquanaut.  If there was a theme of sorts this BaselWorld, it was the use of green.  And some were better than others, but suffice it to say, the Aquanaut was my personal favorite. 
So it is important to make a few things abundantly clear - I am not a denizen of what the marketers at Patek would consider their demographic.  I have never owned one, and I do not have a towheaded son who will "never actually own my Patek Philippe" either.  I tend to try and maintain my sense of reality and remember what I learned while working behind the counter at Tourneau -
just because I sell expensive watches to the great and good, does not make me one of them.

Having said that, I can certainly appreciate the risk that went into offering a version like this one.  Patek, like Rolex attracts a certain cult of "sameness",  with the excitement being that rare little quirk.  I go to a fair number of events with collectors and enthusiasts, and I have noticed that the fellas (let's be honest, they all tend to be a bit of a sausage fest) don't generally speak in terms of Submariner or Nautilus, they tend to go right for reference numbers.  And I guess that's fair enough.  I have been reading Magnus Walker's book -
URBAN OUTLAW:
Dirt Don't Slow You Down
editor's note - I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!  It is an excellent read and pretty damn inspirational.  I also encourage you to check out Mr. Walker's TED Talk which I shared with my class of English for Banking students.  You can view it here:


Regular Tempus Fugit readers will have no difficulty understanding that I am not likely to be what is known as a "Porsche Person"(not that there's anything wrong with being one), I am pretty risk adverse.  But in reading about Mr. Walker's transformation into perhaps the best-known car ambassador of all times, I was struck by the shared obsession for minutiae among car collectors and watch collectors - it's often all about the reference numbers.  And yes, I realize that we've drifted off topic ; )  But before we return to our regularly scheduled programming - the relationship between Porsche and Mr. Walker reminds me of the relationship between Omega and Robert-Jan BroerWonderfully organic.

So back to the watch, here are the pertinents, straight from Patek Philippe -

Watch

Self-winding mechanical movement. Caliber 324 S C. Date in an aperture. Sweep seconds hand.

Dial
Khaki green embossed, gold applied numerals with luminescent coating.

Case
White gold. Screw-down crown. Sapphire-crystal case back. Water resistant to 120 m. Diameter (10 - 4 o’clock): 42.2 mm. Height: 8.25 mm.


Strap

Composite material, khaki green. Aquanaut fold-over clasp.

Friday, April 12, 2019

What was Cool at BaselWeek - Holthinrichs

I have written previously about Michiel Holthinrichs and his growing brand.  It is a charming story that lends itself well to the idea of a truly "made by hand" watch.  Now it is important to note that while I just said "made by hand", the watches in many ways marry the best of two schools of thought - hand crafted / artisan (yes, I will from time to time use the "A" word), and modern technology through their use of 3D printing.


Apologies for the less-than perfect photo, but by now you've learned that unlike Playboy, you actually do read Tempus Fugit for the articles ; )

But I will "borrow" an image from the Holthinrichs Watches Facebook page to show the same layout, and the dynamic duo behind the brand -

Shamelessly borrowed from the world-wide infoweb
With a new partner/colleague involved in the day to day of Holthinrichs, my suspicion is that they are on the verge of greatness, as the team is well-balanced and focused with equal parts old-timey craftsmanship and pragmatic business sense, my suggestion for the team at Holthinrichs Watches?  Get ready for greatness!