GaryG recently had the opportunity to borrow a Rolex GMT-Master II BLRO Meteorite from a long-time friend to photograph and wear. This watch’s main event is the dial, a thin slice of metallic meteorite whose crystalline structure reflects the slow cooling process that took place as the meteor hurtled through space. Here he tries a variety of photographic techniques to learn which works best on the dial’s unique structures. Which are your favorites?
Given GaryG’s musings on these pages about the relative roles of rarity and complication in driving the value of a watch, he thinks it appropriate to dedicate this “Behind the Lens” entry to a piece that is both complicated and limited in production: Patek Philippe’s Reference 5950A. What’s so special about this watch? Well, first of all it’s a split-seconds chronograph. What else?
GaryG ordered a Hasselblad X1D. He had never shot with a medium-format camera before, and the resolving power, color rendering, and ability to seemingly wrap light around a subject completely blew him away. So when Hasselblad announced that it would be offering a 120 mm macro lens for the X1D, he was among the very first to sign up. But did it make a difference in his watch photography?
GaryG was delighted to take possession of an Invention Piece 1 with its inclined double tourbillon, while a good friend of his replied in kind with a purchase of the quadruple-tourbillon Invention Piece 2. Ever since, he has been dying to get these two gorgeous monsters side by side in the light tent. And the time has finally come!
As most folks who follow Patek Philippe are aware, the brand has long been in the habit of making unique watches for special customers, including in recent times entertainment luminaries such as Eric Clapton and Michael Ovitz. It was not until 2015, however, that Patek Philippe publicly issued a number of small editions of previously discontinued references, each in previously unmade metal/dial combinations. This Patek Philippe Reference 5070J-013 is one of those ultra-rare birds. And GaryG wonders if it might bring yellow gold back into fashion single-handedly, as for him the combination of the yellow gold case and sunburst-brushed brown dial is as gorgeous as it is unexpected.
For a watch fanatic, and especially for lovers of independent watch brands, meeting the makers of the watches that we admire is a dream come true. With the Grönefeld brothers, it’s that pleasure multiplied by two. And then there’s the sensational One Hertz.
With no travel for GaryG over the last COVID-19-restricted months, he has been grateful for opportunities to add variety by handling some of this year’s new watches. And recently Breitling lent Gary three of its new re-edition watches. He shares his thoughts and stunning photos of these new Breitling models here.
In this installment of Behind the Lens, GaryG shares a series of photographs of one of the great watches of our time, the Philippe Dufour Duality. The Duality, with its linked twin escapements, was originally planned for production in a series of 25 watches. In a turn of events that seems almost unbelievable today, a lack of initial demand eventually led Dufour to limit production to just nine pieces, one of which is owned by a good friend of Gary’s.
As these things go, Parmigiani Fleurier and GaryG go back a pretty long way. So it was with significant interest that he took up the opportunity to handle, photograph, and evaluate Parmigiani’s latest introduction, the Tondagraph GT. It’s a relatively rare combination of two useful complications in what the brand calls “all-occasion” packaging, and it is offered at a quite reasonable price relative to other pieces of its kind.
In GaryG’s view, every successful independent watchmaker has elements of a “house style” that may attract some buyers and put off others, but nonetheless set 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.