Thursday, May 25, 2017

Vanitas – L’EPEE 1839




From Fiona Kruger and L'EPEE 1839.

Limited to 50 pieces, and available in the colorful version (above), as well as a "dark" version (below).



Here are the pertinents, straight from the source -


Vanitas 

Display

Hours and minutes 



Power reserve indicator 

Main Structure
Height:
306 mm
Width:
220 mm
Thickness:
86 mm
Clock Weight:
Approx. 5 kg. with 2.2 kg just for the movement
'Dark' version:
Mat Housing in Black Anodized Aluminum with mineral glass
Colored version:
Mat Housing in Black Anodized Aluminum with mineral glass

Movement

L’Epée in-house designed and manufactured movement 
Balance frequency:
18.000 vph / 2.5Hz
Barrels:
5 in series
Power reserve:
35 days
Jewels:
11
Incabloc shock protection system
Manual-winding:
Double-ended key to set time and wind movement on the skull face
'Dark' version:

Mechanism in palladium-coated brass Movement Main plates in black PVD coated brass Multi-layered screen printed white decoration (gloss ink). 
Colored Version:

Mechanism in palladium-coated brass Movement Main plate in brass black PVD coating Multi-coloured screen-printed pattern (gloss ink). Each colour used in the design of the clock was specially selected as it represents a specif- ic meaning pertaining to the Dia de Los Muertos celebration: Blue = Trust, White = Purity, Orange = Sun, Yellow = Death, Pink = Celebration, Red
= Life and Purple = Grief and Black = Mortality (hence the black PVD coating)









Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Celebrating 250 Years of Watchmaking in Pforzheim

Archimede is releasing a new, very limited watch to celebrate this milestone -

Courtesy of Archimede
This is the Pilot 250.

Courtesy of Archimede
Limited to 50 pieces, the Pilot 250 is special in many ways - including the movement!  A Junghans 687 (hand-winding) movement that has been brought back to modern day life.  

The case is stainless steel and measures 42 mm in diameter. 

Courtesy of Archimede

Here are the pertinents, straight from the source -

Movement:
Historic handwound movement Junghans 687, Made in Germany 

Case:
The high-quality case is manufactured by ICKLER in Pforzheim.
Stainless steel case brushed, sapphire crystal with antireflective coating, screw down case back with mineral crystal, waterresistant to 5 ATM, special pilot's crown, diameter 42 mm, thickness 9,6 mm, lug-to-lug length 51 mm

Dial:
Black, with luminous numerals and indexes
Luminous heat blued steel hands, manufactured by ICKLER in Pforzheim
(Superluminova C3)


Band:
Dark brown leather strap with rivets (wrist size: 18.5 - 22cm) (optional: deployment clasp)

Delivery is estimated to be between 1 - 2 weeks.

April...

Was a little bit better -

Courtesy of the FH
Exports were slightly better in April.  But it is interesting to relate that the export percentage to the US was down by 19%.  Yes, that is a negative - 19%.

Now if we try to read the tea leaves on this one, it opens up some interesting questions about the US and other markets.  May and June are "Dads and Grads" months, as well as Mothers Day.  So it would be reasonable to assume that exports would be up in this market in preparation for these months, but in fact it was the opposite.  And this is sending a pretty clear message about the current condition of the market.  Now it also bears mentioning that quite often the actual exports from BaselWorld appointments don't start materializing until later in the year, because more  often then not, the new releases from BaselWorld don't actually grab their passports for trips to the US until July and August.  But what that also says is that there is little to no demand for current/existing models.

Another interesting shift?  China is in the positive side of the ledger with and increase of +38.9%  and the UK up +30.00%

 So we will see what the coming months might have to show us, but unfortunately a lot of these numbers, and the months that they are falling in start to raise some uncomfortable questions about the outlook for the US market this year.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Transfer Window Opens

At Corum and Eterna.

Davide Traxler has been relieved of his duties at both Eterna and Corum.  For many of us, the news was delivered by Karl Heinz Nuber through is well-regarded TICK-Talk site:

http://www.tick-talk.ch/city-champ-jewelery-watch-group-faehrt-eterna-an-die-wand-und-sucht-nach-neuem-corum-ceo/

I was able to confirm this news through a contact at Corum, Switzerland.  For those of you (like me) who do not speak or read German, Google Translate can give you a fairly decent version.  I want to thank Karl Heinz for tackling what many other writers would avoid, and I commend him for showing some willingness to take on a touchy subject.

Now, I have a slightly different perspective having worked on the "other side" of the BaselWorld counter, and I agree with a lot of what Mr. Nuber points out.  But I would add some layers that are based on what I have seen and heard not as a journalist, but from some brand management experience.

One thing that we can all agree on is that losing your job sucks. There are generally no good feelings engendered when you are informed that your services are now surplus to requirements.  But the problems at Corum and Eterna did not sprout up overnight and they were never going to be solved in any short-term fashion.  I know that there are a lot of folks out there who feel that the dysfunction is solely down to the incompetence or lack of cultural awareness of the Chinese ownership - Citychamp.  I would have to say that, with respect, I disagree.

The problems at Eterna have been going on for YEARS.  Long before I entered the industry, long before I started covering watches back in 2010.  And the one thing that has always rung true is that there has been a near perpetual lack of self-awareness at Eterna.  And let's be really, really honest, it is a Top - Down problem.  It's interesting to note that through several "regime changes", several key people who were, well, supposed to be responsible for little things like sales, etc. were kept on.  In other words, the head coach kept changing, but some of the key players stayed on.  The other piece at Eterna that continues to hamstring it is a fundamental misunderstanding of what kind of watch company they really are, and what exactly they should do, as opposed to what they could do.  In terms of products, pricing, and how they are perceived in the market place, this is something that has shifted and changed on a fairly constant basis over the last 10 years, leaving the brand identity to drift on an ice floe.

And as we are being honest with each other, let's be clear that Eterna has two solid cornerstones to build (or in this case, rebuild) their brand upon: the KonTiki and movements.  Everything else will only be noise and distraction.  Sounds sort of harsh, doesn't it?  Well, ask yourself - how many collections have been launched by Eterna and, well, sunk in the past few years?  How many marketing campaigns have been pushed away from the shore, only to be lost at sea?  What has hindered Eterna FOR YEARS is a fundamental inability to work on a project, and see it ALL THE WAY THROUGH to the end.  This was true when Calce oversaw both Corum and Eterna, it was painfully true under the tenure of Mr. Dreyfuss, and has been abundantly clear in this latest chapter.  And yes, that is a cultural dysfunction - but that is, regrettably, the Eterna culture.  It  has been there for YEARS.

While I am not the MOST informed person out there, I can tell you that I meet A LOT of former Eterna employees now working at other brands or in other areas outside of Eterna who are now FLOURISHING.  Doing amazing things!  But they all tell a similar tale, and that tale is really more about a culture that is not so good.  And the culture is not Swiss, and it is not Chinese.  The culture is the company culture.

Now consider the role of Citychamp in all of this.  They have come in, they have pumped, literally, MILLIONS of Swiss Francs into Eterna and Corum.  They have trusted the individuals recommended to them - insiders from the Swiss watch industry.  Keep in mind, these were not Citychamp or Chinese CEOs.   It is also worth noting that the key staff that was kept on despite their sometimes indifferent performance were not from Citychamp either.  The amount of debt racked up by the previous and recent administrations points to poor management and oversight.  Put another way, if it were not for Citychamp, there likely would not have been an Eterna for the past several years. 

I think what I find most fascinating in all of this is that what really underscores a somewhat xenophobic attitude of the Swiss watch industry.  I visited Eterna back in 2013.  I stopped at a bakery for directions to the factory and was asked if I spoke Chinese.  Meant as a joke, but to me really underscored a certain unwillingness to accept that a Chinese owner could ever hope to successfuly manage a Swiss company.  Now in fairness, it does seem that Citychamp is having some difficulties in getting these two houses in order.  But I am less and less convinced that this is a question of who owns the brands. 

My point is that sometimes brands just can't get their shit together.  And sometimes it is a question of changing the culture.  Not Swiss, not Chinese, but company culture.

So let's hope that Citychamp will find a team leader who will not only be focused on developing a brand, but developing a team.  A team with a strong identity and a positive, collaborative, and solid culture.


Friday, May 19, 2017

The Starmus Festival

And Omega -

Courtesy of Omega
Sort of a cool story, so I'm going to let Omega tell it in their own words -

OMEGA AND THE STARMUS FESTIVAL
ANNOUNCE A NEW PARTNERSHIP
 
Revealing a new Speedmaster watch for the winners of the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication
19th May 2017: At a special press conference at the Royal Society in London on Friday, the Starmus Festival announced its new partnership with the prestigious Swiss watchmaker OMEGA.
The Starmus Festival is a combination of science, art and music, and its goal is to help the general public understand and appreciate science. Since 2011, it has included performances and presentations from astronauts, cosmonauts, Nobel Prize winners and prominent figures from science, culture, the arts and music. 

OMEGA’s own pioneering history is filled with scientific accomplishment including the conquests of space and the ocean, as well as revolutionary breakthroughs in magnetic watchmaking and precision. 

Raynald Aeschlimann, the President and CEO of OMEGA, spoke about the new partnership by saying, “As we know in watchmaking, it’s not always easy to communicate new innovation or complex technology. In science, I’m sure it’s the same. That’s why we recognise the importance of the Starmus Festival. It embraces creativity to help the general public understand and appreciate everything about science. OMEGA has a strong history within science and we wanted to maintain our commitment to this important area.”

As part of its partnership, OMEGA is proudly supporting the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication. The Medal recognises those who promote science through three different disciplines including Science Writing; Films; and Music and Art. 
On June 20th this year at the Starmus Festival, the three winners will be presented with a brand new 18K yellow gold OMEGA Speedmaster watch. On the back of the watch, the brand has included a unique engraving that mirrors the design of the actual medal itself. This includes an image of the cosmonaut Alexei Leonov during the first ever human spacewalk as well as the “Red Special” guitar of Queen’s Brian May.

Professor Hawking himself was at the press announcement and shared his enthusiasm for OMEGA’s support. “I'm delighted that OMEGA is joining forces with us this year and that these watches will be given to the winners. I would like to thank OMEGA for this initiative and for their sponsorship.”
 
Three other important guests were present on the day, including Professor Garik Israelian, the Founder of Starmus;  Professor Claude Nicollier, the first Swiss astronaut and close friend of OMEGA; and Professor Edvard Moser, the renowned Norwegian psychologist and neuroscientist.
 
Speaking on stage, Professor Israelian, the Founder of Starmus said, “Our principal goal is to inspire. This is the base of everything. I'm very proud to announce the partnership with OMEGA and have them helping us with our goals.”

Professor Nicollier was also able to shed more light on OMEGA’s scientific past and reveal his own unique experience with the brand. He said, “I have huge admiration for the achievements of Stephen Hawking. My connection to OMEGA is the value of excellence. So I'm looking forward to Starmus IV and the involvement of OMEGA in the next chapter of science, art and music at the highest level.” 
 
Without doubt, OMEGA will be following the announcement of the Medal winners very closely and is looking forward to Starmus IV taking place this year from June 18 – 23 in Trondheim, Norway.

Courtesy of Omega
About the watch
The three winners of the Stephen Hawking medal will each receive an OMEGA Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Chronograph. The 42 mm case and bezel are made from 18K yellow gold and the black dial also includes 18K yellow gold hands and indexes. The watch is distinguished by its unique caseback which includes the words “WINNER OF THE STEPHEN HAWKING MEDAL FOR SCIENCE COMMUNICATION”, as well as a laser-engraved medallion that follows the exact design of the medal itself. This includes the Starmus logo and images of Alexei Leonov during the first human spacewalk and the “Red Special” guitar of Queen’s Brian May. The watch is presented on a black leather strap and is driven by the famous OMEGA calibre 1861, virtually the same hand-wound movement that powered the timepieces NASA’s astronauts wore on the Moon.