The growth of appreciation of Independent watches from AHCI (association of independent watch makers) over the past decade in the region of South East Asia had been largely due to the staunch support of The Hour Glass management who understood the sophistication of the market of collectors here as well as the value proposition of the independent brands over the mainstream. The mainstream are predominantly represented within large conglomerates like LVMH, Swatch Group and Richemont. All are leading houses in the world of luxury goods. Within each group there will be a spectrum of different brands reaching out to different strata of the market. Independent Watchmakers clearly do not have the capital nor the capacity to produce to a wider market and as such often design and manufacture to a very narrow corner of the market. Independents generally offer to astute collectors degrees of the three following components of value. Design, Quality and Rarity. The most respected Independent Watchmakers have arguably achieved a high level yet balanced in these three components.
At the very top of the pecking order of Independent Watchmakers, the most important differentiating component that distinguishes each of them from others is Design. Not just aesthetic design but design of its component parts. It is the design or a specific look that creates the identity of each Independent that will draw fans or turn them away.
The three brands featured at this event represents different design philosophies from different parts of the spectrum. All three approach Design of their watches differently.
The invitation card, menu and dinner placement:
The Dinner and Forum Discussion:
The enthusiastic fans of the brands looking over the new 2015 collections:
Blancpain has for awhile been involved with efforts to conserve the Oceans and several of its projects while low key, are important as part of the overall effort worldwide to bring attention to the public why the Oceans needs to be saved.
At the evening where Blancpain launched its new limited edition Bathyscape Chrono, they took pains to show case through a small exhibition, the various Ocean conservation projects they were supporting.
Several renowned conservationists were guests of honour who presented and shared their life's work.
Ernest Brooks an adventurer and diver for many decades working with Blancpain on the Fifty Fathoms Award.
Laurent Ballesta who works with National Geographic and Blanpain shared his work on filming and photographing the extremely rare Coelacanthe in difficult conditions. His wonderful photographs for the Coelacanthe Project were published as a coffee table book.
Ai Futaki and Gianluca Genoni are world record freedivers. They swim in open sea diving for long distances and holding their breathe for extraordinarily long time. A dangerous sport that had taken many lives.
For more information about Blanpain and their commitment to Ocean Conservation, visit: http://www.blancpain-ocean-commitment.com/
MOVAS or Movements of Asia is a Singapore based watch brand founded by Sean Wai. Sean trained as an architect started out Movas a few years ago having moderate success with his earlier pieces. His latest watch, the Bronze Diver IV has all the elements of a potential winner. While not intended for the mainstream, it would interest those looking for large imposing divers wristwatch made with bronze.
While I have long stopped wearing large watches, seeing the prototype steel version of this watch and later its first bronze case, I was ready to wear it as my weekend or casual watch. This watch has been through a year of refinement of its design which caused its delay in its launch. But now that it has been finally finished, the watch is worth the wait with a thinner bezel than its prototype and matching tone in the date plates to the dial. The green dial compliments the bronze tone of the case and the olive green leather combination makes for a genuinely interesting and handsome watch.
Here is how it looks on the wrist with jeans.
The watch comes with a nicely design and weighted buckle made of bronze with Movas's own logo. Note the thick olive green leather strap.
The watch features a exhibition back with a Seagull movement with a bronze rotor. An unusual and unique feature not seen before in other watches.
The overall quality, details, casework belies the retail price of S$1800.
Sean himself wears the original prototype model of the bronze diver.
Movas also will be delivering the new T2 tourbillon shown below. The brand does not lack in imagination nor ambition. For those who are looking for daring design with lots of design details there are all too few in the market at this price segment.
Click on the images to view them in higher resolution.
The relationship between Sinn and the Hour Glass has always been a strong. This is the fourth Sinn Hour Glass limited edition - but the third U1 variation. The original U1 was a runaway success and continues to be a sort after watch by those looking for a durable, scratch resistant diver's watch. I still am amazed by my basic U1 which I continue to wear with great satisfaction and joy. I was one of the earliest to acquire a piece when it was launched - and it did not disappoint. I still recommend it to anyone who wants or need a mechanical beater.
The new Sinn U1-D Mission Dune is meant to commemorate the 35th Anniversary of the Hour Glass. There will only be 350 pieces made and retailing at $4800. It will be delivered with the stressed calf show below. Also provided is a Zulu strap in camouflage design. The U1's key unique feature is its submarine steel - which in its natural original form is a steel with a slight tone that is commonly seen in titanium. However, unlike the aircraft material, submarine steel is very dense and hard. Specifically created for the German navy submarines to deal with the harsh effects of sea water on steel.
The Hour Glass U1 limited editions have always featured all black Tegiment on the submarine steel case and bezel. Even the bezel had always been black with changes only in the colours of the markers and hands. This time round, the U1-D features a grey dial with beige numbers on the bezel and partially on the hands. The grey dial is quite unique in that the tone changes slightly in different light.
The one key change that makes this new watch attractive is the use of the distressed brown calf that creates a nice contrast with the case and dial. Even the camouflage Zulu makes the U1-D look like a serious military issue timepiece.
Sinn perfected the patented Tegimenting process to create a coating that makes the metal scratch proof in addition of providing a new tone to the metal. Only a ceramic case could possibly be even more scratch resistant but that would also mean the risk of the case shattering on high impact.
I expect that orders will be pouring in quick on seeing how the watch looks in real life. At 44mm and rated at water pressure resistant to 1000m and featuring double sided antireflective coating on the sapphire crystal, there are many things going for this watch. The U1-D may be a variation on a theme but it's overall combination makes it a more interesting piece than the predecessor limited editions. Judging how quick the previous limited editions sold, those interested in this piece need to be quick.
For reports of the launch of the earlier Hourglass Limited Editions:
Stowa is an old German watch brand that has been around for quite some time. The watches in their collection consist of simple classic designs. Stowa has a series of pilot watches consisting of self winding and automatic movements. Primarily sold online direct to customers, Red Army Watches succeeded in partnering with Stowa to create the Lady Chin Swee Limited Edition. This limited edition has no apparent difference. Only on the reverse side of the watch does one find the engraving of the Singapore edition.
As with all pilot watches it is an understated austere simple 3 handed watch. The movement is a clean polished Unitas cased in a tall 41mm. Unlike many of the pilot watches of today sporting large cases like 44mm and larger this model is well balanced and sits handsomely on the wrist. When matched with Stowa's dark brown aviator strap, it has a strong authentic vintage look and feel. While there are quite a few brands that retails pilot watches Stowa has managed to keep its pricing for this model at sensible levels (around 1000 Euros). Overall this watch deserves to be given a Highly Reommended status.
One of the most anticipated new watches of 2014 was the Blue version of the Tudor Black bay. The original crimson bezel found itself to be quite popular with reviewers and new collectors. In large part the unique pseudo vintage look and the relatively reasonable list price (in comparison to other watches today). Unfortunately, there is no such thing as an affordable Swiss mechanical timepiece anymore as inflationary prices over recent years made that a certainty. Even some brands not seen as luxury brands are pricing themselves out of the market. Tudor however, seems to have found a sweet spot in their market segment. A recognised brand with good pedigree willing to hold back on inflationary pricing. But is the Blue going to be as popular as the original crimson bezel version?
Certainly judging by the positive turn out of the number of invited guest keen on viewing this piece on its arrival here in Singapore, the interest in the model seems to be there.
There are two versions of the watch. Both are identical using ETA 2824 automatic movements. The difference is the steel bracelet or stressed blue leather. Both versions comes with a woven blue fabric strap.
The watch appears far more contemporary than the crimson bezel version which features off white markers. This sense of contemporary makes the watch look more akin to the Tudor Pelagos.
On the stressed blue leather, it does work well as a combo but somehow in person, the watch looks more attractive in the steel bracelet. The oddity there is while it looks better overall in a steel bracelet, it does make the watch more anonymous when compared to the crimson bezel version. I suspect that some may see it as potentially anonymous like the many divers watches found in the market today especially with the white markers. While the blue bezel is nice, it is neither unique nor making it recognisable from the many other similar designed divers watch.
This Tudor is a well made watch worthy of consideration. However, if one starts to consider it in light of alternatives in the market, one only had to look at the Tudor Heritage Chrono Blue 2013 to realise the design, chronograph function and distinctiveness at a small price difference would probably warrant more consideration.