Perpetuals, pebbles and puzzles – Part 2


July 2011

A personal, and slightly biased, view of a week in March 2011 when Malcolm Lakin quietly celebrated his birthday along with his 33rd consecutive Basel fair.

Franc Vila
Having already read about Franc Vila’s SuperSonico 5-minute Repeater in Europa Star, the first thing I wanted to see on his stand was the watch itself … and it didn’t disappoint. As Franc Vila says, “It is one of my favourite complications because of its complexity. It is the most poetic anyway. I have been working for a long time on a collection of minute repeaters and this is the first one. I think that people who are passionate about minute repeaters will like this modernized version because you can see the complexity of the mechanical movement and enjoy the fine tuning of the sound.”
However I was genuinely surprised to see his watches for the ladies – the Selenity, a delicious, colourful collection that combines Vila’s uniquely shaped case in a smaller version with a harmonious and subtle touch of femininity. The case is in DieHard Extreme steel with an elliptical and circular bezel and the watch uses a self-winding Calibre FV7 movement with a power reserve of 120 hours. The dial is either pink or white mother-of-pearl with the month and day apertures below the 12 o’clock index with the date and moon phases displayed at six o’clock. The white mother-of-pearl model has a diamond set into the bezel at 5 and 7 o’clock. Another version has 91 diamonds (0.70 carats) set into the bezel giving it an ultra-chic appearance.

A Puzzling meeting
Based in Beverly Hills, California, Ritmo Mundo is one of those brands that seems to be inextricably linked to Hollywood’s actors and their movies such as Ocean’s Twelve, Sex and the City to name just a couple. However, the timepieces use Swiss and Italian craftsmanship and are equipped with movements from ETA, Sellita and Ronda.
Founded in 2002 by Ali Soltani, an attorney who turned his passion into a highly successful business, Ritmo Mundo breaks with convention by blending and harmonizing designs of yesteryear with eye-catching innovations. Take the Dual Time Automatic Persepolis for example. The watch spins on an axis set in the outer gem-set bezel and offers two dials for the price of one – pricing is a very important factor in Soltani’s judgement of his timepieces. “If a watch doesn’t sell,” he explains, “there’s no profit. If it sells it’s beautiful. If not, it’s ugly!”
But back to the Persepolis, the case in the model illustrated is in stainless steel and measures a majestic 52.5 mm featuring dual time and dual date. The dial is off-centre so that the movement can be admired. The watch has two Swiss Sellita SW 200 automatic movements and the watch is set with a panoply of 315 coloured sapphires and diamonds weighing 11.90 carats. It’s also water-resistant to 50 metres and comes with a choice of rubber or various leather straps. Although the watch appears bulky, it sits well on the wrist and is anything but dull.
In a completely different category, Ritmo Mundo has recently signed an agreement with Phillips-Van Heusen, one of the world’s largest apparel companies that owns such iconic brands as Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen, Arrow and IZOD, to design, produce and market IZOD watches. These watches are of a sporty nature in keeping with the IZOD brand name and will certainly appeal to the younger generation and perhaps a few oldies too because of their bold, colourful appearance and inexpensive pricing – US$75 to $200 depending on the model.
Now for something really different, a watch that is not only unique, but also ingenious: Puzzle. I’m sure you remember the toy that came in a small plastic or wooden frame with small moveable sections numbered 1 to 15 and one space free, whereby you had to shuffle them around the frame until you placed them in the right order, well the Puzzle is based on that. With eight square sections, III, VI, IX, XII and four plain squares plus a single gap, you shuffle the pieces around until you leave the central square blank so that you can get an notion of the time – or any other section of your choice - thus revealing a very small section of the dial beneath. But if you want to see the time and the dial in its entirety and beauty, you simply slide the ‘game’ section to the right and, hey presto, there it is beneath a sapphire crystal.
I saw two models, one in stainless steel and rose gold measuring a modest 34 mm and equipped with a Swiss ETA 2671 SM automatic movement with a date window at 4 o’clock with a black and rose gold sunray dial. The other model measures 40 mm and is the one I found most appesaling. It is in stainless steel and Black PVD with the same features, but is equipped with a Swiss Sellita SW 200 automatic movement and it has a black sunray dial. The watch is water-resistant to 100 metres and it has a sapphire caseback.
For anyone suffering from fidgety fingers, or simply wants a timepiece that will be the centre of attention during the evening, then the Puzzle is for you. A great idea, a fun timepiece and a good looking watch.

Perpetuals, pebbles and puzzles – Part 2 SELENITY by Franc Vila, PERSEPOLIS by Ritmo Mundo

Ellicott 1738
If you’re into aviation, you will know that although no aircraft is totally invisible to radar, Stealth aircraft prevent conventional radar from effectively detecting or tracking THEM. Stealth technology is not a single technology, but a combination of technologies that attempt to greatly reduce the distances at which a person or vehicle can be detected.
If you’re worried about being tracked or shot down due to your easily detected normal wristwatch, then you should take a look at the Mach One Skymaster Aviator watch from Ellicott 1738. It is the first wristwatch of hybrid-conception using ‘Stealth’ carbon and is created from blocks of monolithic carbon epoxy and scratch-resistant steel. Comparatively light, the cushion-shaped watch (44 x 53 mm including lugs) has a self-winding movement with a 50-hour power reserve. The dial is in carbon fibre and the hands have a luminescent coating. There is a sapphire crystal caseback and the watch is water-resistant to 50 metres. Of course if you’re using GPS in the car or you are the proud owner of an iphone then the watch won’t keep you from being monitored by satellite.
The other watch of note in the Ellicott 1738 collection is the Lady Tuxedo Chronotimer Sparkling Edition. A very feminine design in black highlighted with diamonds set on to the upper and lower bezel and in the numerals and indices on the dial, this DLC (diamond-like carbon) treated chronograph is equipped with a Calibre LTC.1 self-winding mechanical movement. The dial is available in black, white or pink mother-of-pearl and is water-resistant to 30 metres. A striking addition to any ladies’ collection (see Sophie Furley’s article Women’s watches galore in this issue).

I’d read about the new HL2.0 by Hautlence in the BaselWorld issue of Europa Star so clearly I wasn’t going to write about it.
Nonetheless, I had to go and take a peek at this remarkable timepiece. Guillaume Tetu being the gentleman he is took a few minutes off his busy schedule to show it to me, let me try it on and finally pose for a photograph.
As I have already mentioned before, I’m not enamoured with skeleton-type watches, however the HL2.0 left me open-mouthed. It’s an amazing piece of mechanical watchmaking and it’s only fault is the romantic name it has been given. Still, you can’t have everything.

When Thomas Morf was appointed CEO of Hanhart last year, I decided then that I would take a look at the brand’s collections this year at BaselWorld – I wasn’t disappointed.
The company has a long history of manufacturing chronographs, consequently it came as no surprise that the current collection is based on this forte. Gabriela von Malaisé, Head of Marketing, showed me quite a few different watches including the Primus Pilot, Primus Racer and Primus Diver. Quality chronographs all of them, but the one that I found the most striking and therefore the most wearable was the Primus Racer, a 44 mm black-coated stainless steel model with a red starter pusher, screw-in crown, flexible lugs and fluted bezel. It is equipped with a HAN38 modified automatic chronograph bi-compax movement based on the Valjoux 7750 Calibre. The dial is black with red and white tracking indices, date at 6 o’clock with small seconds at 9 o’clock and a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock. A very satisfying chronograph.

Peter Tanisman
Two delightful additions to the Carrousel collection by Peter Tanisman are Nicea and Fantasia, similar in shape and concept but completely different in appearance. Nicea’s colourful origins come from the Iznik ceramic heritage (Chinese, Armenian, Persian and Ottoman) and the case and spinning cylinder below the dial are embellished with floral enamelling. The watch’s case is in 18-carat white gold (41 x 30 x 8 mm) and the extended bezel is decorated with 62 diamonds (0.93 carats). The strap is in white satin with a red leather inner lining.
Fantasia has the same shape and spinning cylinder except on this model there is a wonderful kaleidoscope of colour from the mobile 14 emeralds, 20 rubies and 14 blue sapphires set into the channels on the dial and the 161 baguette diamonds set around the bezel and case. A red leather or white satin strap completes the watch’s electrifying appearance.

Perpetuals, pebbles and puzzles – Part 2 SKYMASTER by Ellicott 1738, PRIMUS RACER by Hanhart, FANTASIA by Peter Tanisman

This year, my favourite watch chez Century was the Ballerina. A pear-cut sapphire case with 50 facets adorned with two diamond-set flowing extensions above and below the dial, the watch is evocative of the poetic movement associated with a ballerina. The case is in 18-carat white gold set with 86 diamonds weighing 0.280 carats. This elegant timepiece is equipped with a quartz movement and a satin strap (See Sophie Furley’s article in this issue for photos). For the male of the species, Century have introduced a new model in the Esquire Collection, a Prime Time Egos Chronograph Day & Date. Available with a white, slate or black dial, this dodecagonal 12-facetted sapphire watch houses a self-winding mechanical movement, a COSC-certified chronometer, and a luxurious stainless steel Milanese bracelet. The watch is water-resistant to 100 metres.

David Van Heim Timewear
If you are looking for a modern watch with a tourbillon that doesn’t require you taking out a mortgage to pay for it, then you need go no further than the latest watch from David Van Heim Timewear. This imposing and well-designed 48 mm watch shows the moon phases, has a circular date counter with a small hand at 6 o’clock and a tourbillon at 12 o’clock. The watch carries the unusual label ‘Made in Holland’ and comes in four versions, black PVD with a black dial, pink and black PVD with a black dial, stainless steel with a blue dial and pink PVD with a grey dial.
I know that the purists will moan and groan about there being an inexpensive tourbillon, but it wasn’t so long ago that the watch world was up in arms because of the low-priced plastic Swatch. And look where that led us – a whole new and exciting horological vista of colour and fashion that changed the face of the industry. So is it such a crime that our adventurous comrade in horology, Amarildo Pilo, is prepared to stick his neck out and show the world that you can purchase a tourbillon for less than the fifty thousand and above that the big boys ask for? And when I say less than 50,000 Swiss francs, I’m talking a lot less … 1,860 to be exact!
Believe me when I say that it’s a super watch, with a remarkable price and there’s a tourbillon thrown in for almost free.

Something that always surprises me during my annual rendezvous with Walter von Känel, the Longines President, is that he seems to have every possible statistic concerning the brand etched into his brain – whether it is percentage increases in sales figures or past and potential growth in the price range Longines dominate – 800 to 3,000 Swiss francs.
But it was the new timepieces the brand introduced that took centre stage this year. We began with the new Master Collection Retrograde Moon Phases which gives hour, day, night and moon phases with its four retrograde functions: weekday at 12 o’clock, date between 1 and 5 o’clock, 24-hour time zone between 7 and 11 o’clock and small seconds at 6 o’clock. Next came the Longines Twenty-Four Hours, an updated version of the timepiece that was used by Swissair pilots in the 1950s.
My personal favourite is the new Column-Wheel Chronograph Record (41 mm), a self-winding watch with a a column wheel with chronographic functions plus a date aperture at 4 o’clock. Difficult to compete with both Longines’ remarkable range and pricing structure.

Perpetuals, pebbles and puzzles – Part 2 PRIME TIME by Century, T1 TOURBILLON by David Van Heim, RECORD CHRONOGRAPH by Longines

Remember Melchior, Balthazar and Caspar and gold, frankincense, and myrrh? Well to commemorate the 160th anniversary of Marvin – with intermissions – Cecile Maye, the CEO of the brand, has introduced four new Malton 160 timepieces in a Limited Edition of 8 boxed editions with prices from 8,500 to 8,900 Swiss francs, named after the Magi, the Three Wise Men or the Three Kings, whichever nomenclature you prefer. Forget the gold, frankincense, and myrrh though, they’re in stainless steel but nonetheless still splendidly handsome timepieces.
The four watches in the collection are a regulator, a power-reserve model, an uncomplicated but elegant three-hand model and one with large date and small seconds. Impossible to illustrate all four here, so I’ve chosen the Regulator from the Melchior set with its white dial, Clou de Paris dial and blued hands. Each set has its own personality: Balthazar has black dials in carbon fibre and Caspar has black carbon dials with vibrant yellow accents.
For those not lucky enough to be able obtain one of the boxed sets, the watches are also available as individual pieces, all handsome pieces and seriously under-priced!

Walking through the Hall of Inspirations (Hall 4.1) I discovered a small stand resembling the inside of a mountain chalet. Intrigued and expecting to be badgered by a cheese salesman, I was warmly greeted by the founder and CEO of Aspen, René van Ass.
The Aspen watches have unique features relevant to Aspen in Colorado although the timepieces are Swiss made. As the CEO explains, “The watch tells you when it is time to change your ski-strap for your après-ski strap (in just a few seconds using an ingenious technique similar to removing a boot from a ski) and a specially designed compass to indicate where you are,” presumably in case you banged your head in a fall and have forgotten.
The original Aspen One comes in four-colour combinations of 18-carat white or rose gold. The latest addition to the family is The Black Piste, a deceptively valuable watch since it is in 18-carat white or red gold coated with a scratch-resistant black DLC coating.
Claimed by van Ass to be ‘the understatement watch’ that states in a time of both danger and austerity, ‘I know, but I don’t show.’ Each Aspen timepiece (44 mm) is inscribed with the owner’s name and is equipped with an ETA 2894-2 chronograph movement with a 42-hour power reserve and a compass with a Swiss Trek floating disc. The ski strap is in calfskin and the après ski strap is in alligator with prices ranging from 32,500 to 49,000 euros depending on the model. The robust Black Piste doesn’t have to be treated with kid gloves because the watch comes with a specially designed pair of deerskin gloves with a cut-away section to permit you to see the time without removing the glove or pushing up the sleeve of your ski jacket. That’s handy.

Perpetuals, pebbles and puzzles – Part 2 MELCHIOR REGULATOR by Marvin, THE BLACK PISTE by Aspen

Source: Europa Star June - July Magazine Issue