The inaugural Dubai Watch Week (DWW) has just closed its doors. And what a week it has been: sunny days filled withintroductory watchmaking classes, informative and often entertaining discussion panels, conversations with CEOs and watchmakers, and a multitude of watch collectors and aficionados enjoying all the event had to offer. But before we take a look at what was good about DWW, let’s get the “bad” and the “ugly” out of the way first.
Dear De Bethune,
Can I call you Thunie? Or, even better, just DB?
I have decided to place quill upon pad after all these years of watching you . . . no, I’m neither a stalker nor a star-struck groupie.
But more often than not you have intrigued, baffled, dazzled, and surprised me.
You do not remember our first meeting; how could you? You were just a baby, very different from what you are today. You had rather classic looks inside and out, but there was a je ne sais quoi implying that you might grow into something more interesting and perhaps flamboyant . . .
In this article I look at why high end watches cost so much by examining one of the most important factors. To answer this question, there are quite a few reasons, including low production numbers (mass manufacture brings prices down) and high complexity, but the one I will focus on here is hand-finishing, because unlike low production numbers and high complexity, ultra-high-level hand-finishing is not usually easy to appreciate.
I have a fairly narrow frame of reference when it comes to buying watches for myself: my taste runs to independents, in-house movements, and superlative hand-finishing. So why on earth am I sitting here typing about the Corum Bubble, which is from a big (for me) brand and outfitted with an ETA 2892 movement with an industrial finish? Well, this is why I bought it.
Eight years ago, Vacheron Constantin began building a mechanical work of art destined to become the world’s most complicated watch under the aegis of its bespoke watch division.
Atelier Cabinotiers offers connoisseurs the chance to commission a custom-made watch according to their own tastes and designs (but within the boundaries of the brand’s style). Reference 57260 came into being thanks to one of the world’s foremost collectors, a great connoisseur of horological art. This collector specifically requested that Vacheron Constantin create world’s most complicated timepiece for him.
In my view, every successful independent watchmaker has elements of a “house style” that may attract some buyers and put off others, but nonetheless sets him or her apart. And, at the highest level, this style goes beyond “branding” to become an expression of the personality and artistic vision of the creator. In the picturesque Swiss town of Thun, Beat Haldimann and his small team distinguish themselves by focusing on technical virtuosity of the highest order, as typified by the Haldimann H1 Flying Central Tourbillon.
Döttling is a safe manufacturer. But these are not your run-of-the-mill safes, as the workshop specialized in the bespoke was founded in 1919 as a small locksmith shop by Markus Döttling’s great-grandfather, Ernst Döttling.
The products in Döttling’s Legend line start life as vintage safes discovered by the Döttling team. Beautiful refurbishing of the piece in old-world manner allows every aspect of it to be fitted out for its future owner.
The latest Legend is a safe with a fascinating history starting in nineteenth-century Italy with Victor Emmanuel II and his great love, Rosa Vercellana . . .
In many machines, there is always one, or yes, maybe a few, components without which the machine becomes something fundamentally different. And so it goes in a wristwatch. You might have noticed that I do not say “watch” and instead say “wristwatch.” This is entirely deliberate as a pocket watch and a wristwatch are two different machines. They share a large amount of components and are definitely related, but one “function critical” component sets them apart. You can see where I am going with this: it’s the watch strap.
When someone says “I’m no prude,” it is pretty easy to imagine what typically comes next: a prudish commentary on some aspect of modern society or youth culture. I like sex. There we go! To the point and leaves no doubt as to intent, I’d say. That said, I typically try to keep my interests in sex and watches somewhat distinct. But does the industry at large?
Once in a while on the collector forums, a question is posed: is there anyone in the collector community who has never, ever, owned a Rolex? As a general rule, respondents to these queries tend to express disbelief that such a creature could possibly exist given the quality and ubiquity of the brand’s watches. Well, folks, I’m here to tell you that such people do exist, and that I’m one of them. How could it be?