Watch enthusiasts never need a reason to gather to talk and enjoy sharing information, experience and watches amongst friends - with good food. We had one yesterday where 21 collectors met at Xi Yan Restaurant
located at Craig Road (Singapore) yesterday evening for a private 10 course dinner. Xi Yan is special because its a restaurant that allowed us to not only enjoy the whole floor (private dining arrangement) but it gave us the freedom to move around to converse with as many and as much as we can. Interestingly, the restaurant not only served food but is also an art gallery for diners to enjoy.
The food presented at the restaurant - owned by a new comer to watch collecting himself, Mr Thomas Choong is quite unique and avant garde. Study the following montage and you will notice each guest had a copy of the special menu prepared for the evening for "Watch Enthusiasts". The food was a very pleasant surprise and I am sure foodie Peter Chong will feature a review shortly in his blog.
This particular meeting was themed - Vintage Pre 1980s & watches below S$1000. Present were most intriguing vintage pieces especially the Seiko Crowns, Rolexes, IWC calendar, Omega Dynamics and even a miniature rectangle pocket watch. For the timepieces below $1000, inevitably the more popular Seikos and Citizens were present.
Also, on my request, a few collectors brought along their Reed Watches - made by Reeds & Co. See the image below to see the variants owned by collectors. The draw of the watch is the bespoke dial handmade by Reed himself. No two dials are the same and as you can see below, a collector even changed the straps to give each piece a different look.
Even though all who attend the evening agreed to the theme, two collectors brought along special timepieces which they had just acquired. One had in fact just received that afternoon from the JLC boutique the new 2011 JLC Ultra Thin Reverso Steel. I took the opportunity to photograph that watch as well and I will feature a wallpaper of this watch - as well as a pristine new from factory the Porsche Design IWC.
We are already planning for the next gathering and now wondering what theme will be.
(Image from Watch Report)
Rolex announced earlier this year that the venerable Explorer 2 will be replaced by a larger model - up from 40mm to 42mm case. Even larger than the current GMT2 and Submariner models. Is this an updated version, upgraded or just upsized Explorer 2?
If the materials and finishing of the current Submariners and GMT2 is anything to go by, the New Explorer 2 will probably not be a disappointment. The movement, Caliber 3187 is almost identical to the current model save for the blue Parachrome hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers. Any performance improvement by way of accuracy will be doubtful. The obvious changes are - the larger case by 2mm; the orange GMT hand; and the updated Oyster bracelet with the Easylink extension.
The orange GMT hand is a re-edition of the first Explorer 2. To many, its a welcome change, at the very least to commemorate the 40 anniversary of the model. The updated bracelet is a welcome change to the model being much sturdier and well finished even though Rolexes are meant to be hard working daily wearers.
When Rolex began their updating of their sports watches some years ago starting with the GMT 2 Ceramic bezel, the changes in both quality and design was obvious. The same for the submariner and even more so for the Sea Dweller. Collectors and fans of the Explorer 2 had been waiting for years to see how the classic Explorer 2 will be redesigned.
Oddly enough the New Explorer 2 to me is a disappointment yet positively welcomed. More the latter than former I might add. It was somewhat a surprise to find that the designers did not make a positive improvement on the design as they had done so for the other models. With the incorporation of ceramics, many had speculated how the Explorer 2 bezel could be changed. But for the longest time, I harboured the concern that having a ceramic bezel on the Explorer 2 will be fatal to the design.
Further, I suspect that the designers increased the case size by 2mm to avoid the problem of not having apparently changed anything to the current design. Whether the enlarged case by 2mm has improved the watch or changed the personality of it remains to be seen when supplies are delivered.
In any case, I would like to attribute the lack of design change to the fact that the Explorer 2 design is a classic and I dare say that it's near impossible to improve on perfection? The good news for current owners is that this new watch does not make the current Explorer 2 obsolete nor outmoded (both by design and movement). The real question is whether the New Explorer 2 made enough change to excite current owners to replace their old Explorer 2?
One last note to all who are considering a Rolex sports watch. The Explorer 2 series is the only model that does not come in multiple variations. No full gold, half gold, diamond studded models. Just stainless steel with either black or white dials. The lack of variations to me reflects the special place this model has in Rolex collection. Its a serious beater to be worn through all kinds of adverse environments.
I expect the New Explorer 2 to continue its success as a watch that serves its owner in all kinds of situations and conditions.
According to Thierry Stern the CEO of Patek Philippe in a report in Bloomberg, he believes that it is wrong for the Swiss industry to over rely on China as the market to continue absorbing the bulk of the exports for Swiss Watches. According to the report, currently half of the exports from Switzerland go to China. However, due to factors mentioned by Stern, he expects that China will ultimately slow down its demand and that would leave the Swiss brands in a quandary due to the potential oversupply.
An interesting side comment that Stern made - unconnected to China - was his concern about the supply of sapphire glass for watches are dwindling.
Read the report from Bloomberg here -Patek Philippe Chief Says China Overinvestment Is a Mistake
The Reverso is an iconic timepiece for JLC. It represents the brand's unique position of being both innovative yet historically rich watch company. The 2011 Ultrathin Reverso harks back to a time when thin watches represented high horology as it needed far more precision in manufacturing and assembly than larger movements. The return to elegance and gentleman watches like this Reverso as worn by Jerome is timely in contrast to the recent years of over sized and over designed timepieces. Judging by the positive responses of many collectors having placed orders for this piece, JLC has clearly found a new winner for their 2011 collection. Click on the image to view it in high resolution.
On 17th April, JLC hosted a dinner at Burkhill Hall at the Singapore Botanical Gardens. An early colonial black and white building. While it was intended to be a dinner for collectors to view the 2011 Novelties, coincidentally it was the 80th Anniversary of the Reverso. While there were many attractive new models for 2011, none was more appealing than the reissue of the original ultrathin Reverso in steel or gold. Seen here on the wrist of a collector. Two models – both very thin on the wrist in black dial with baton marker or the more familiar silver dial with arabic numbers and blued hands.
In a sea of watches with complications, these two watches brings back the simplicity of yesteryear and has a charm of its own. In keeping with the current trend for brands with history to bring back iconic watches, the ultrathin reverso deserves to be in any serious collector’s watch box.
BLOOMBERG VIDEO REPORT
An interesting news report about the forecast of the Swiss luxury watch industry for 2011. Due to natural disasters in Japan and the middle east conflicts, the expected growth will not be as good as recent past.
Will the cooling effect on the industry result in a slowdown of the price inflation of Swiss luxury watches? I suspect not unless the downturn continues for an extended period causing retailers to provide higher levels of discounts to move their merchandise and continue a healthy turnover of goods and transactions. The brands may however plan to move the surplus watches into China - a market that currently has a voracious hunger for luxury goods with nouveau riche looking for jewelery to show off their wealth.
Here is a montage of Mr Rolf Schnyder taken in May 2010 when he was here in Singapore where he hosted a grand dinner for friends and collectors of Ulysse Nardin. Click on the image to view it in high resolution. Note that the file is very large and will take some time to download.
After a short illness, Mr Rolf Schnyder the CEO of Ulysse Nardin on the 14th April 2011. Rolf over the past decades after his acquisition of UN, shaped the company into a highly respected and innovative company. Considered by many to be a horological visionary who was able to deliver on what he considers to be high horology. His passing comes as shock and his absence from the watch industry will be felt not just by the industry but by collectors who have come to know him personally. Rolf made Malaysia his home but passion was in Switzerland's watch making. He leaves behind his wife and three children.
Rest in peace Rolf. You will be missed.
for official statement from Ulysse Nardin