If you have been following my writing all these years, there are a few things you probably know about me. One, I am extremely enamored of the rare handcrafts that almost died out of the mechanical watch industry when it was declared dead during the quartz crisis of the 1970s and early 1980s. I am talking about unique crafts demanding high amounts of skill and concentration like guilloché (a particular favorite of mine), engraving, skeletonization and enamel. Two, I really, really like German watches.
There are truly so few watch brands that take creating timepieces for the female watch connoisseur seriously. Jaeger-LeCoultre, naturally, takes enthusiasts seriously, ably demonstrated by the fill of amazingly complicated and innovative masterpieces introduced over the last 180 years.
But how many of these have been expressly created with the feminine wrist in mind? Very few. Even Jaeger-LeCoultre has “only” generally created lines for women that focus on the decorative rather than the complex …
Though it may seem that using rare and even unusual artistic crafts is a major trend running through high horology at the moment, it is important to remember how very difficult both the execution of and inspiration for these crafts can be. Guilloché, enamel, engraving, and even gem-setting are skills that almost died out in the pre-mechanical renaissance watch industry along with the art of mechanical watchmaking itself. Therefore, there are truly very few artists today able to perform them.
Hopefully that loud bang didn’t startle you too much! If it did, take a moment to go watch a video of a cute kitten and come back when you have calmed down a bit. Better? Ok! Here at the beginning of the new year, I am reminded there is a lot of advice out there saying you should always start with a bang.
If you are an astute follower of all things horology, you may have already heard of our standing contributor and resident “nerdwriter,” Joshua Munchow: he won third prize in a design contest run by Eberhard & Co. last year, which saw him attend Baselworld 2013. As a result of that trip, he began seriously writing articles for Watchuseek. These articles were so informative and filled with intelligent commentary that they attracted our attention too.
Introduced at Baselworld 2013, the stunning Urban Jürgensen ‘Montre Observatoire Enamel’ features the in-house UJS P8 caliber with pivoted detent escapement and an oven-fired enamel dial that will keep its pristine look for many generations. Creating the dial requires no less than 15 separate layers of enamel, each individually oven-fired, on a gold base dial.
* BREAKING NEWS: At the upcoming SIHH, which opens on January 20, Jaeger-LeCoultre will introduce an ultra-thin, highly complicated masterpiece: the Master Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon, the eleventh specialty in the Hybris Mechanica line. Its Caliber 362 capitalizes on eight separate patents, six of which are entirely new.
When most people think of Patek Philippe, they think of the evergreen models that roll off the lips of enthusiasts all over the world: Nautilus, Gondolo, Calatrava and, perhaps even, that delectable worldtimer that appeared in 2013’s new Patek Philippe offerings as Reference 5130. But one of the many elements that I personally adore about Patek Philippe is its love of the handcrafted arts and the perpetuation of them in highly aesthetic ways.
The year 2013 was a stellar moment for the rare grand complication, as the SIHH quickly demonstrated. Not only did A. Lange & Söhne present its oeuvre, but to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the sporty, contemporary Royal Oak Offshore, Audemars Piguet also introduced one of these complex masterpieces.
This automatic timepiece includes three of the traditional complications that a watch earning the right to this title should include: minute repeater, perpetual calendar, and (split-seconds) chronograph. The latter, in fact, has most unusually been included as a rattrapante in all of the brand’s grand complications since 1882. Though throughout its long history Audemars Piguet has focused on the traditional side of horology; the advent of the evergreen Royal Oak – the first luxury sports watch – in 1972 added a distinctly sporty side to this manufacture’s classic offerings.
It seemed like one of the best-kept secrets of Baselworld 2013. Perhaps the newness of the refurbished fair itself overshadowed the news of Ulysse Nardin’s five new in-house calibers; perhaps it was simply the overwhelming novelty of the Stranger timepiece that stole the show. Either way, this brand continued its quiet climb into the circle of major players with a whopping 11 new watches at the world’s largest watch fair, about half of which boast in-house movements outfitted with the brand’s pioneering silicon escapement technology.