I recently had a wonderful opportunity to photograph a Datograph belonging to a gentleman at my local Authorised Dealer for Glashuette Original - Hour Glass Millennia. The manager there, Mr Alan Teo who is a watch collector himself kindly allowed me to conduct a 45minute photoshoot of the pair of watches in his store. The outcome was even better than I dared hope.
Come back soon as the photo report will be published soon!
Here is another intriguing regular question that I gave some personal thought. Its a tough question and I may in time have a different view but currently its as follows...
Q. Is it more advisable to buy that one single rare horological dream timepiece that I have always wanted by liquidating my lesser priced pieces (which I still like) or should I keep them instead?
A. Yet another difficult conundrum for collectors. It’s a question of balancing the pleasure/satisfaction against the rate of depreciation.
In different moments of my collecting years, my view has changed over time. I am of the view that I personally prefer to just collect what I feel makes me happy within my financial means. Many have suggested that I liquidate my collection to move on to a higher value piece such as a tourbillon or minute repeater.
While I may have considered this, it has yet to take root in my collecting values. For me currently, I fell that unless it's absolutely certain that the (over S$30k) purchase will not depreciate, I will not fork out the hard earned money nor liquidate the hard to acquire pieces of lesser value I have. Save for Pateks - which MAY have some assurance of its long term value and secondary market. Almost nothing in the watch world can promise a recovery of investment cost. For me, Patek does not especially do anything for me at its price point.
Also, personally I think it takes greater skill to look out and acquire low price purchases that hold value. Its a no brainer for those with a disposable $100k to blow it on a Patek 5070. It takes far more finesse and skill to find out where the secondary market is for watches under $20k.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, of late the high prices of newer pieces can be heading for a serious bubble burst. BUT that is just my personal opinion and I can be completely wrong here (I may just be rationalising why I am so uncomfortable in spending large sums for watches).
I have also accepted that variety is the essence of life and the average man in the street has one job, one spouse, one car, one house - is enough of singleness. If we can have many affordable watches that give us pleasure, why restrict to only one piece?
I also think that the laws of diversification applies and that the financial risk of having all your eggs in one watch can be very risky especially when the secondary market is uncertain.
Finally, having a variety of mid-price range watches give the collector a variety of watches for different occasions. Either for work, play or a grand evening night out. It’s just not possible to wear a tourbillon as a daily wear watch and to all occasions. I think that is too pretentious.
Recently I have been getting quite a few emails from new collectors asking for advice on some pieces here as well as some I do not own. I thought it would useful to compile them and share them on this blog so others can use it as well. Please note that this is my personal opinion and must not be treated as the be all and end all! I make no claims to being an expert on horology - just an enthusiast and an avid collector.
Q - Can you please provide comparative pros and cons of your new AP Royal Oak and IWC Portugese Automatic watches? Which would you chose as a daily wearer? Which one will be a better investment, or best choice to leave for my son when I'm gone?
A - You asked an extremely difficult question as I adore both watches. They each evoke different emotions from me and serve very different purposes for my collection.
First - both are iconic models in their own brands. That to me is important for collecting. Both are outstanding efforts of horology and manufacture as well - both are internally developed designs and new in-house movements. Both are in the same price bracket. Both are in 40-42mm size. Both have one of the very best dial you will find in the watch world. I would say easily within the top 50 in the world. Both are open backed. Both WILL easily age well over the next 50 years. The Portuguese is a design around for nearly 20 years. The RO has been around since the 70s. Hence they are true classics unlike other pretenders. Both are easily identifiable by collectors from 20 feet away.
Now for the dissimilarities: The Portuguese is thicker and comes in leather and the RO has new bracelet design. Hence the times I wear each are very different. The Port has 7 days and the RO has 3 days power reserve. The RO has a sporty character and can be worn with a suit or dinner jacket or polo shirt. The Port is a classic office watch - yet able to be worn on the week end at the club or shopping. The port has almost no bezel and the RO has the distinctive octagonal bezel.
Now for a daily wearer - I would probably say the RO as it's a well made watch that can take daily beating - BUT be aware that the nature of the RO design is that it is prone to scratching (somehow more than others). The Port can be a daily wearer too but to me it's a very special watch that I wear probably two days in a week - esp. on days I need cheering up.
One difficult reality test that you need to ask yourself - am I buying for myself or buying the watch to be recognised? Unfortunately many buy watches as a status symbol - like Rolexes etc. So the Port will unlikely be recognisable by non collectors as IWC is not a mainstream cachet brand but a serious collector brand. AP on the other hand is within the top three brands of the world in terms of prestige - Patek, Vacheron and AP.
Which watch that will be a better investment? Gosh that's asking me to read a crystal ball and I do not have one. My best guess is that both will retain its value well compared to most but the Portuguese will have a greater following with collectors for its uniqueness, history and design distinction from other brands. Many brands are copying the RO design these days and that may affect its value in the next generation.
Two words of caution. Watches are terrible investments. Maybe one in a hundred will keep its original value. Second they cost money and effort to maintain in good nick which needs to be done for it to retain some value - much like an exotic sports car. Hope this helps in some way. Buying a watch to wear and to invest is a very personal experience. You really need to try them on the wrist side by side to make an emotional decision. I personally think its wrong to decide without any element of emotional desire as it is delusional. Watches like clothes and cars are purchases of the heart and not of the mind.
In six months since the launch of this humble watch blog in October 2005, WatchingHorology.com has managed 20,000 hits according to SiteMeter. For those who come back regularly to visit the blog and read my posts - my personal thanks and gratitude for allowing me to share my thoughts and photography on watches with you. Many have written to me direct to tell me how much they have enjoyed my site and often I get requests for help and advice. I have endeavoured to help as many as I can - within my means.
One request is worth sharing. It is a wonderful anecdote about a descendant of Mr FA Jones, the founder of IWC- who recently emailed me after he found my blog online. He wanted to find out more about the IWC founder as he does not have any information about the man. He wanted to know more about his ancestor who left the US to create the IWC brand. I have since connected him directly with IWC.ch and Mr Michael Friedberg (moderator of the official IWC Forum). I hope his journey in discovering IWC and the man FA Jones will lead him to appreciate the legacy of the watchmaker and visionary. It will be great to rejoin IWC with the current descendants of the founder. It makes for a wonderful story.
On the left is the older Big Pilot that has been around for about three years and on the right is the new version released at SIHH 2006. While the size and the watch movement has not changed, there are some small changes.
Here are my observed differences for the SS model:
1. The triangle and two dots moved up to the very top (which looks better as it helps to clean up the dial)
2. The train tracks around the 7 day power reserve indicator on the older version has been removed in the new model
3. The lighter but larger marker font on the new version makes for a cleaner display
4. The seconds hand tailend has been redesigned in the new model
5. The minute, hour and PR hands are now white on black (rather than white on SS)
6. The minute markers are made smaller (which also helps to clean up the dial)
7. The PR day 1 is now in red in the new model (this may not go down well with some)
8. The date plate is black with white numbers in the new model
10. The date window does not have a SS border (as in the older)
11. The strap is now croco instead of calf and without the white stitching
12. The marker '9' has been removed and partial '2' and '4' (inexplicable why the 9 was removed)
In my personal opinion, the Big Pilot is one special watch that is very well made. It rates high on my wish list of watches that I have yet to add to my collection but it may not be missing much longer. The older version was an outstandingly well made watch and if the new one keeps to that quality - it too will be a success. I think the new version is a more genteel and refined version due to a cleaner dial.
The Big Pilot is rarely seen in the shops as supply is low and queue list of customers is long and had been on waiting for many months. I will be very surprised if this new Big Pilot will have a reception any different from its sibling.
With watches going through all the various permutations starting from enlarged cases to open heart and dials, multiple complications, combination of materials - Oris has taken a step back to old school - a largish watch that is thinner than most. This may buck the current trend of big and distinctive sports watches but I seriously think that this may be the next major trend of watches after big cases become passe. Personally I hope this happens sooner than later. The classics will always be in vogue and big thin watches can be hot because its wearable in all occasions.
Wyler Vetta an Italian watch company launched their latest watches at Baselworld. The two new watches are these two - the Chronograph and Big Date with newly designed cases. The cases are either titanium or 18kt rose gold. These watches will have surfaces PVD coated for extra protection.
Power reserve is in excess of 42 hours. It is water resistant to 50 meters. Interestingly, both models feature an inner case in titanium, mounted on 4 visible independent shock absorbers.
This feature is visible in the Titanium model. I personally think that even thought these two watches appear to have taken design cues from other brands like RM, Hublot and AP (esp Montoya ROO), they will have supporters and buyers. While their movements are not horologically significant, I think the design and details make this watch quite handsome and thus desirable for any collection.
Amongst the new offerings from IWC this year, this watch is to me the most interesting and asthetically handsome. Seen here are the Pink Gold and White Gold versions of the new Calibre IW50221. It will be 42mm with 7 days power reserve, pellaton power reserve system and a single perpetual moon phase (unlike the other Portuguese Perpetual with northern and southern hemisphere moon phases) accurate to 577 years. This watch will be first seen at the SIHH 2006 (a gathering of Richemont watch brands). No further details are made available and how the movement looks like. Keep tuned in as I will provide more photos as they become available.
Oddly enough, this watch does not appear to be a replacement of the IW50211 Portuguese Perpetual (although the yellow gold white dial has been discontinued).
To track the information on this new release, CLICK HERE
Ian Skellern just published a wonderful report on the history of the AHCI or the Horological Academy of Independent Creators. It is a must read for those who are interested about a small select group of very skilled and respected watchmakers who push the boundaries of watch development. The AHCI official website is found here : http://www.ahci.ch/
To read the article by Ian Skellern "Looking back on the history of the AHCI" CLICK HERE
Following from the success of the Royal Oak Offshore Montoya series, Audemars Piguet released the Rubens Barrichello II at this year's Basel 2006.
Taking the design cues from Montoya such as the hexagonal screws on the bezel, the non numerical markets and the rectangular chronograph push buttons as well as the distinctive crown - the Barrichello has an assured following for those who missed the limited edition Montoya. The steel version appears to have a design slightly toned down without the multicolour details on the dial. The watch has a ceramic bezel and the case comes in Platinum, Pink Gold and Titanium (grade 5) will be limited to a total of 1650 pieces.
To read about the new release from the official AP site, CLICK HERE.
I personally find that watches that are over-engineered yet with understated classic lines to be most attractive timepieces. But that is a personal preference - just as one would feel about clothing and shoes that we choose to buy and wear. However, it appears that in recent years there is a continuing trend to over-design watches to fit the varied design demands of the markets.
Just as there are distinctive design tastes in fashions in different cities, some important watch houses are now catering to what was once the domain of fashion watch brands like Guess and DKNY.
Once such brand releasing a new design is Zenith that has daringly launched this watch - the Zenith Defy Xtreme Open 1,000 Meters. Clearly a watch designed to be seen on the wrist. It is clearly over-designed in terms of its colours and details on the dial and case. It is also over-engineered very much like the JLC Extreme World Time Chronograph that was released last year.
While I personally do not find this watch attractive, I think over-designed watches will continue to flourish to meet the demands of collectors who want extreme designs and timepieces to match their lifestyle.
This is Lange's effort to merge its fantastic column wheel chronograph movement with a perpetual calendar. This watch is the next development of their wonderful and my personal favourite - the Datograph. The perpetual plate is newly developed, with a patented system for switching the dates. The perpetual module adds a whopping 233 parts to the watch, but only 1.9mm to the total 13.5mm of the watch. The watch is housed in a 41mm case in platinum.
While this watch is a monumental achievement for Lange, personally I still prefer the overall elegance and simplicity of the Datograph especially in its current guise - white dial in pink gold.
Seiko appears to have stolen the limelight at Basel 2006 with the release of this watch. A limited edition Sonnerie from their Credor Spring Drive range. The Spring Drive is already a well respected development from Seiko but to develop a sonnerie, the japanese watch maker has outdone themselves.
The Credor Spring Drive Sonnerie is reportedly to be sold directly to customers from SEIKO Watch Corporation with the exception of Japan and the East Asian region. The retail price will be 15 million Japanese Yen
plus VAT and import duty. (equivalent to Euro 107,142 at the rate of Euro/Yen=140). The very first production timepiece for the international market will be available at the SEIKO Center in Paris in November 2006.
To read the press release, CLICK HERE
The Planet Ocean watch had been one of my favourite watches from Omega since its release. This long awaited model is a handsome addition to the family with its co-axial escapement with its famed 3133 calibre column wheel chronograph, this watch is a no slouch in the world of high horology. The case is sized at huge 45.5mm and rated for 600m. While the orange highlights may not sit well with some collectors, the colour is in fact one of the most legible colours in the dark deep sea. I personally think the black dial on bracelet is a real winner and with Omega's wonderful steel finish and quality control, owners will not be disappointed with this timepiece.
To read the press release on this watch and see other photos, CLICK HERE