Moonwatch Only a book review1>
Once upon a time, in a faraway land called Switzerland, lived watchmakers who created a watch called the Omega Speedmaster. The NASA fairies selected the watch to go to the moon and the myth around it became legendary.
The new book Moonwatch Only written by Grégoire Rossier and Anthony Marquié with forewords from Omega CEO Stephen Urquhart and NASA astronaut Captain Eugene Cernan is exactly the opposite of a fairy tale. Instead, the authors, a Swiss biologist and a French Aeronautical engineer used their scientific skills to write what is certainly the most definitive work about the Speedmaster.
The authors faced a huge challenge to classify and codify a watch that has been in continuous production since 1957 with 125 different models. They created a methodology which not only makes this book an important reference for Speedmaster collectors around the world, but also for future watch book writers who could use Moonwatch Only as a template for other important watches with a multitude of models that may deserve the same recognition as the Speedmaster Professional.
After an introduction to the history of the Speedmaster and a presentation of the watch, we learn to decipher the watch reference codes. The two main chapters of the book follow.
The first main chapter entitled, “Main Components and Accessories” is an analysis of the multiple component of the watches such as the movement, case, dial, bezel, caseback, etc. and their respective modifications. This is a very detailed chapter and each component is beautifully photographed and compared. Each subchapter for every component concludes with recommendations from the authors about what to do before buying.
The second main chapter entitled “The Models” is a chronological presentation of each model in standard production, followed by special and limited series, and concluding with projects and prototypes The authors present each watch a similar way starting with productions years, movement numbers and list each and every modification for each component. This can easily be cross referenced with the preceding chapter.
The book concludes with a chapter dedicated to purchasing your perfect Moonwatch. There is a one page recap for each of the components featured and finally an identification tree that could be used as a tool to identify a Moonwatch.
The book has an extremely short bibliography listing mostly books about watchmaking and the Omega saga and I am skeptical that the authors wrote such a compelling work without looking at other important contributions on the Internet, the other Omega books, the Omegamania auction catalogue and, perhaps, most importantly the surprisingly missing book in the bibliography is the Kesaharu Imai reference entitled “A Time Capsule Omega Speedmaster: The Story of the First Watch in Outer Space”. I have a hard time believing that the authors did not have a pick at that book originally written and published in Japanese and later translated by World Photo Press.
Moonwatch Only is certainly one of the best books ever written about a single watch model. The work is schorlaly, and its importance is far reaching in the niche world of watch book writers. We are continuously bombarded by books often written at the express demand of a brand, and these books are more fairy tales glorifying a brand than genuine academic work. Roissier and Marquié gifted us with a wonderful book and a clear framework for more such work to come.
Excerpts from Moonwatch Only with permission of the publisher:
A TimeZone Interview with Maria & Richard Habring
about the Habring² Kaliber A11
An interview in November 2014 by William Massena
TimeZone (TZ): Maria & Richard, you have recently launched your in-house movement. What has driven you to become completely independent?
Maria & Richard Habring (H²): Well – it has never been a secret that we were using in the beginning ETA-movements (the 6498-1) and later ETA-components (from the 7750) to create our watches. With the years we started to do more and more on the movements ourselves including developing functional modules on the ETA-train gear which we’ve been supplied with since 2009. In 2011 we received a letter from ETA stating that they do not supply any parts to us anymore based on their mother companies (Swatchgroup) former and well known strategically decision.
TZ: How was the feeling in this moment?
H²: One would have been very naive by thinking that ETA will not move forward with their groups strategy but it was obviously quite interesting to see that they did not only have those bigger brands (Mr. Hayek called them the opportunists) in focus but as well the very tiny ones which can never compete with SG’s own brands. The question for us in this very special moment in 2011 was: What to do with Habring²? Going completely independent or letting it die?
TZ: So you decided to survive?
H²: Right! And not only to survive, to survive without any dependence to a major supplier like Sellita. Our strategy in the past 3 years was to found a network of small family owned companies in Austria, German and Switzerland to supply single components produced after the drawings we provide. It took us about 2.000 hours – a lot of weekends and holidays – to have everything ready this year 2014 to start production of components
TZ: What is the difference between „movements“ and „components“?
H²: If we say „movement” we mean the entire and functioning motor of a watch. In case of ETA-movements entirely produced and assembled at ETA, sold to one of their customer brands. When talking about „components“ we mean all the single parts inside a watch movements, the wheels, the levers, the barrel, the escapement, the balance wheel etc. which are in addition a group of parts with need for separate assembly before being used inside the movement.
TZ: Just for our understanding: You bought wheels, escapements, balance wheels etc. at ETA before they stopped supplying and integrated those parts inside your movements?
H²: Correct! This strategy was necessary to allow us to further develop our watches the way we wanted to. About 80% of our watches are non-chronographs. It does not make sense to buy a chrono-movement, taking it completely apart, and putting the wheels back into own plates and bridges. It’s a waste of time and material. The funny aspect was that the single components out of the 7750 been in total more expensive than a completed movement with 4 times the number of parts inside. So ETA made good profit by this strategy while we had fully flexibility.
TZ: There is this still pending case at Swiss COMCO/WEKO (competition commission) which sentenced ETA and Nivarox to supply further movements and parts. Why did this not include your interests?
H²: Simple reason. The main case turns around completed movements, when it comes to single components than this means the escapement parts from Nivarox. We bought single components from ETA and have never been customers at Nivarox. So our interests are just simply not part of the case. To be involved party in this case one has to file approach with lawyers etc. This costs much more in the end than it brings benefits. ETA and Nivarox are sentenced to supply their former customers at least some percentage of the past volume but they are not obliged to accept new customers.
TZ: But this all is history now. How would you explain the difference between the movement based on the 7750-parts and the A11, your in-house movement?
H²: Some critics say the A11 is a copy or a clone of the 7750 but this is not right. The 7750 is and remains a chrono-movement while A11 is a mainly manual wound rather basic tractor to build our well known attractively priced starter models or our dead beat seconds. Of course the A11 has some design similarity to the basic train gear of the 7750 but this has been necessary to maintain the majority of our production while implementing the new basic movement into the entire existing line. Take our dead beat second or our foudroyante as examples, or at the chrono side our COS, the Doppel both ideally with in-house 60-minutes counter from the center. All those functional modules have to be driven from several links to the basic movement.
TZ: So your approach was rather pragmatic than artistic?
H²: By creating something completely new we would have lost all those functional modules we were working on since 2007. It’s tough enough for a small family company like ours (7 persons including the two founders and three apprentices) to be confronted with such a problem, but it can’t be that a group like SG influences the strategy of a private company and small brand. In addition we do not have the guarantee in the future that ETA further continues to provide spare parts for the movements build with their components in the past years. By being rather near at the former base we will be able to produce our own spares and further guarantee 30 years spare parts supply if necessery.
TZ: Coming back to the question: Copy or clone?
H²: Evolution! The 7750 has been and is one of the most accurate and reliable watch movements but it’s mainly industrial in it’s approach even though Edmond Capt, the man behind the 7750 did an incredible job. The A11 is developed further, in several details as well as in the making. It‘s optimized to be produced and assembled in smaller quantities with even higher quality. Some parts can be exchanged between 7750 and A11 but far not all. Let it be father and son, mother and daughter rather than being twins. We are using different mainsprings, shock absorbers, dial fixation, fine timing device. Our finishing is much more refined even though not being on very highest level. Let’s say it’s on a Volkswagen-level rather than Bentley.
TZ: You write that „A11 sets new benchmarks in watch business when it comes to the hand work involved“. What does that mean?
H²: Therefore, we have to go a little deeper into watch industry: A watch in our usual price range between Euro 4K to 6K is usually industrial made which means high volume, quite some automatisation, of course hand assembled but the production of the parts is high-tech. Take, for example, a single pallet fork or the balance wheel which are produced by machines, assembled by machine, and – at the balance – poised and timed by machines including bending the terminal curve at the hairspring. The parts for our pallet forks and balance wheels are crafted by machines too but then the entire assembly, adjusting etc. is made by hand. Every single hairspring at the A11 is entirely hand finished. Every pallet in our A11 is manually positioned to ensure perfect performance. Much, much more production steps are handmade , as well the central drilling of our train wheels and the final riveting on the axles.
TZ: There are watches on the market using the argumant „hand made“ but compared with yours they are usually much more expensive. How come?
H²: The manu facta (Latin for „handmade”) like we call it at Habring² is not made on purpose to increase the prestige of our products. It’s a simple need in order to survive as company and brand in the global competition. We do of course not dare to be compared with the premium handmade pieces like a Philippe Dufour or a Roger Smith. This is complete different league. We do hand work to safe costs and investments. But our understanding of the word „manufactory“ is more influenced by the „manu“ than the „factory“.
TZ: How to finance an in-house movement?
H²: If one is situated in Glashütte and wants to invest in machines for the industrial finishing of balance wheels he asks the government for public support and/or co-financing. Why has Glashütte grown so quick and so prosperous? Because the government and the European community pumps huge money into the local economy, mainly watch industry. We don’t have such possibilities her in Austria. We do have in addition no investor in the background. We are working with our very own capital, we do not own a villa or apartment. Our company car (we call it director’s limousine) is a Smart-car. Both – our home and the company – is rented to have the opportunity to work with our own limited money. Our pension fund lies in watch parts on our stock. We are working with the limited resources we have and try to make the very best out of it.
TZ: How do you produce all the parts and in which quantities?
H²: Our bridges and plates are CNC-machined like others as well. The difference comes in the details where, for example, the circumference of our main-plates are again reshaped, the drilling for the winding stem is made and all the rubies and pins are set, all by hand. A usual series of plates and bridges with us contains 50 to max. 100 pieces. Turning parts like wheels, pinions, axles are made on common machinery in lots of max. 500 pieces but again finished and assembled by hand. All this reduces the necessary pre-investment for parts. The highest quantity we have in screws since we managed to limit the number of different screws inside A11 to only 3 different sizes. Our shock absorbers are made by KIF because they supply small quantities too differently to Incabloc. Of our fine-timing device we had to buy 2.000 pieces at once, so we have enough for the next ten years. Why? The producer belongs to Swatchgroup and we’ve been forced to buy that quantity or refrain, but we did not have an alternative. This is the only part of the entire 99 in our A11 which is from Swatchgroup-origin.
TZ: But in small quantities the parts are always more expensive?
H²: Yes of course and this dramatically! We are facing costs between three times and eight times compared with similar ETA-components without counting the hand work yet. The positive fact is that quality wise our small series production is on higher level than the standard ETA-production. Our parts are more precise, better in finishing and they are creating jobs for human beings.
TZ: The higher costs and quality will probably lead to price increase on several of your products?
H²: Unfortunately yes. The costs of the movement are too high to be compensated with minor annual increases. We will have to increase the prices of all our existing non-chrono models with the use of our in-house movement for about 40%. The current starter model (Time-Only) costs Euro 2.850,– (about US$ 3.550,–) By beginning of 2015 recently introduced „Felix“ will be our new starter model for Euro 4.450,– (US$ 5.550,–). Over the last ten years Habring² has generated an image as „affordable independent“, we will try to maintain this even though on a higher price level with more exclusivity due to the in-house movement. We would love to continue our strategy with moderately priced pieces but we can’t under these circumstances inside the industry.
TZ: What about the Chrono’s in your range?
H²: The Chrono’s will remain for the time being on ETA-wheelwork. As mentioned: only about 20% of our production are chronographs so we are able to reach out a little longer with the movements on stock. Later – in the coming years – we will use the A11 train gear as well for our COS and Doppel’s. Step by step.
TZ: Higher production volume would decrease the prices for your movement and it’s components probably?
H²: Definitely! But we do neither have the intention to go for mass production nor see serious potential for selling our movement to other companies. A11 might be industrialize able if somebody would be interested by doing so, but we don’t. The reason is simple: In watch business everything gets compared with ETA. To provide same prices for movements like ETA did in the past you need to produce same quantities otherwise you will always be more expensive. And then again investment in machines might be necessary and we would need to change our company structure entirely. And at the end of the day each movement buyer would ask why the movement is more expensive than an equivalent ETA. If you argue „because of the lower volume“ everybody will say: „Produce more!“ So you end up with the economic risk. Another option would be to move to China at least for the production of several components like it is common use in watch business. But this is no option for us since we feel a need to safe jobs here in Austria and it’s surrounding and we need the full control about the quality of our components. Even our boxes are made locally here by a carpenter in the neighborhood. It costs a fortune – compared with the common “made in China” – but it’s worth every single cent since we have a social role as entrepreneurs here in our region.
TZ: There are ideas around to offer watch movements “open source”, what about that?
H²: The basic idea behind “open source” is great but we are too far already since we have are able to produce now everything under our direction. If we would open our drawings to others and name our suppliers others would benefit by saving the development costs we had to invest in the past three years plus the investments for tooling. We would not have a benefit aside buying some components a littler cheaper, maybe. Open-source might make more sense for specialized parts producers who do only concentrate on their very own domain. Somebody who makes balance wheels, for example, like it’s been decades ago in Switzerland.
TZ: You are currently producing about 150 pcs. a year with your team and structure. Where is the ceiling in annual production for Habring²?
H²: We are not sure yet but we think the possible maximum will be somewhere between 200 and 300 pcs. This includes that the both of us are part of the production and assembly process, every single watch goes through our hands. Of course more might be possible but then again we would need to reorganize our company aside the growth and giving up jobs we like to do ourselves. The maximum of 300 comes from the past experience, however since we started to assemble our own pallet forks and producing our own balance wheels it is more likely that we will remain on our current level rather than growing in the coming years. And finally we want to keep Habring² being something special and rare. It’s an affordable, but still exclusive, mainly handmade watch from a small independent family owned company.
Richard & Maria Habring
See also Independent Horology Forum Habring2 Felix 10th Anniversary – The Workshop Tour
Photos: Stefan (Barge)
© Timezone. All rights reserved.
TimeZone’s William Massena selected for the 2014 GPHG Jury
TimeZone’s William Massena is selected as a member of the jury for the 2014 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
The 14th edition of horology’s most prestigious annual prize ceremony takes place on 31 October 2014 in Geneva.
For the 2014 edition of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, the jury is composed as follows:
Aurel Bacs, watchmaking and vintage watches expert / Switzerland
Carlos Alonso, publisher and editor-in-chief of Tiempo de Relojes and director of the Salon Internacional Alta Relojeria / Mexico
Jean-Philippe Arm, editor-in-chief of Watch Around / Switzerland
René Beyer, co-owner and CEO of Beyer Chronometrie AG and of the Watch and Clock Museum in Zurich / Switzerland
Benjamin Clymer, founder and editor-in-chief of Hodinkee / USA
Zhixiang Ding, publisher and editor-in-chief of Chronos China / China
Elizabeth Doerr, freelance specialised watch journalist / Germany
Philippe Dufour, watchmaker / Switzerland
Moritz Elsaesser, watchmaker CW 21, president and owner of Mainly Watches, collector / USA
Dominique Fléchon, historian and expert with the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie / Switzerland-France
Nick Foulkes, historian, author, contributor to the Financial Times / United Kingdom
John Goldberger, watch collector, author and publisher of books on vintage watches / Italy
Nazanin Lankarani, independent art writer, contributor to the International Herald Tribune and New York Times / France-Iran
Sean Li, watch collector, editor in chief of Revolution Hong Kong and editorial director of watches of Tatler Asia / China
Takeshi Matsuyama, author, history of watch, contributor to the Men’s EX /Japan
John Mayer, musician, singer, producer and collector / USA
Paola Pujia, editor-in-chief of Orologi-Le Misure del Tempo / Italy
William Massena, collector, managing director TimeZone.com, watch expert at Bonhams Auctioneers / Unites States
Abdul Hamied Seddiqi, vice-president of Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons / Dubai
Claude Sfeir, collector, gemologist, jeweler / Lebanon
Antoine Simonin, watchmaker, teacher, former director of Worstep / Switzerland
Michael Tay, Executive director of The Hour Glass Limited / Singapore
Patrick Wehrli, expert, Passion for Watchmaking / Switzerland
Jean-Michel Wilmotte, architect, town-planner, designer / France
Michele Sofisti, CEO of Girard-Perregaux, brand laureate of the 2013 “Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix, out of competition in 2014. By way of a reminder: the brand that wins the “Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix is automatically ineligible for the competition the following year, and its founder or CEO is invited to sit on the jury for one year.
For the 2014 edition of the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix, the commissioners of the jury are:
Patrick König, CEO, Embassy Jewel AG, Lucerne
Ludwig Oechslin, watch expert and former curator, MIH, Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds
The jury commissioners ensure compliance with the rules and that competing watches meet admission criteria. They serve as consultative role with the jury. They have no voting rights.Read more
Basel 2014: Ball Watch
Ball watch is growing exponentially in the US, now with about 200 dealers and some prestigious ones such as Tourneau, Topper and Manfredi. Ball introduced a lot of new watches this year and we had a chance to see them at Basel and Paul Boutros took some great pictures for you.
The annual calendar with a great classic look: Price should be less around $4,000:
The Storm Chaser pro, with a white dial and a grey dial: $3299
The Celsius in gold with a mechanical thermometer that range from -35C to +40C. Limited edition of 600 with 100 for USA $8499
Limited edition Ball Doctors Without Borders, for the NGO with a pulsation dial. $1599
Engineer Pilot Master GMT, it is fitted with a ceramic bezel $2499
Fireman Racer DLC orange. DLC finished for $1700
One hundred fifty years ago, during the Civil War, the H.L. Hunley sank off the shores of Charleston, S.C. As one of the first submarines used in a military fashion, the Hunley represented innovation in a new age. Ball pays homage this year to the transport in its new Engineer Hydrocarbon Hunley. The stainless steel case measures 42mm in diameter and includes a unidirectional rotating bezel with luminous paint. The ceramic material utilized on the bezel allows resistance to corrosion, scratches and UV rays. The dial is black with Arabic numerals and a power reserve indicator located at 7 o’clock. In addition, the dial contains H3 micro-gas tubes, allowing greater visibility in the toughest situations. Finishing the timepiece, a tapered stainless steel bracelet with a Ball-patented triple folding buckle. $3899
Aviator III: $1999
Pulsometer Chronograph: $3999
BMW Three hands limited production, designed by Miss Magali Metrailler, (the former JLC designer) $3299
Pioneer: A great watch at $2499 with a beautiful suede strap.
Engineer II Marvelight: $1799
See also Ball Watch Forum Basel 2014 Report: Ball Watch
All pictures by Paul Boutros
Blogs April 14, 2014
A very bold move from Rolex: Jean-Frédéric Dufour CEO of Rolex
At TimeZone, we would rather concentrate on the watches than the people; especially, CEO movements among the brands. However, some are more important than others and this one is really important.
Jean-Frederic Dufour, the CEO of Zenith will soon take over as CEO of Rolex. A rather unexpected move from the somewhat lethargic Rolex who will now have a 45 year old as its leader and thing will definitely change for the better. This is the third CEO for Rolex since 2008 (Rolex only had 3 CEOs in its first hundred year history 1908-2008).
Jean-Frederic Dufour was CEO of Zenith for nearly five years, and before that worked for Chopard mostly in the manufacturing process. His experience reviving Zenith within its historical context will be interesting to see how he follows up at Rolex.
We wish him much success in his new position.
With a special Thanks to businessmontres.com for breaking the story
See also Rolex Forum: A very bold move from Rolex: Jean-Frédéric Dufour CEORead more
Basel 2014: Rolex with Live Pictures
Basel 2014 will be remembered as the year of the Pepsi bezel for Rolex. After nearly ten years, Rolex was finally successful in applying the red color to its signature bezel. During the firing process of cerachrom, the red color was impossible to maintain. An exceptional achievement on two counts: firstly, red is an extremely difficult colour to obtain and, therefore, an unusual colour for ceramic; secondly, having succeeded in creating a red insert, Rolex then found a way to locally modify the chemical composition of each grain, right to the core of the ceramic, and change the colour of half the insert from red to blue, while ensuring a sharp delineation between the two colors. Please note that the blue/red bezel is incompatible with the steel version. After introducing the GMT 116710BLNR aka the Batman last year in steel, Rolex is keeping the blue and red dial exclusively for the White Gold version, mostly because of a much higher cost of production but most likely also for exclusivity. The 116719BLRO will retail in the US for $38,250
The rebirth of the Sea Dweller 4000 has been somewhat of a surprise for many of us. The new Sea dweller has nothing revolutionary and is more an improvement of the last Sea Dweller the ref 16660 than the Deep Sea.
Cerachrom bezel insert; Chromalight display with long-lasting luminescence; paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring; Oysterlock safety clasp; and the Rolex Glidelock extension system. The watch is slightly beefier. The new reference is 116600. $10,400
Rolex is presenting three new versions of the Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller, its most recent and most innovative model boasting 14 patents, which was launched in 2012. The new versions in 18 ct yellow, white and Everose gold in a 42 mm case expand the existing collection by introducing new exclusive dials combined with new combinations of bracelets and leather straps. YG strap $38,150, WG/strap $39,550, Everose/bracelet $48,850.
Rolex presents a new jewelled version of the Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona that combines the nobility of 950 platinum and the radiance of purest-quality diamonds. The dial is entirely paved with diamonds, apart from the ice blue chronograph counters. Rolex reserves this rare and exclusive colour for platinum models. The resplendent bezel is set with 36 baguette-cut diamonds. $155,250
Rolex is introducing new gem-set versions of the Oyster Perpetual Datejust Pearlmaster 34 in 18 ct yellow, white and Everose gold. Pearlmaster 34mm is $65,000 without gem set bracelet and $93,900 with gem set bracelet.
Rolex is presenting a new version of the Oyster Perpetual Milgauss with unique and symbolic aesthetics. Its green sapphire crystal marked a first in watchmaking when it was introduced on the Milgauss in 2007. Now this crystal is combined with an electric blue dial, an allusion to the emblematic lightning-bolt-shaped seconds hand and the watch’s technical purpose as a paramagnetic timepiece designed for engineers and scientists in the 1950s, a golden age of scientific research. Seen through the green sapphire crystal, the Z blue dial takes on a powerfully attractive magnetic hue. $8,200.
The new Cellini collection celebrates the most fascinating and exalting facets of watchmaking tradition. Here, elegance and nobility are absolute. The cases are available exclusively in 18 ct white or Everose gold cast by Rolex in its own foundry.
Their round shape and classic 39 mm diameter are marks of tradition, while the refined lugs, the polished finish and the double bezel one domed and the second delicately fluted add a touch of distinction. An emblematic Rolex feature, this fluting is also present on the case back, serving to screw it down. The case back is domed as in bygone eras. The flared shape of the screw-down crown highlights the refined aesthetics of the Cellini. The dials also bear witness to know- how and tradition. They are either lacquered or embellished with a black or a silver-plated classic “rayon flammé de la gloire” guilloche motif and adorned with gold applique hour markers. The layout of the dials is determined by the watches’ different functions, dividing the collection into three families. The Cellini Time models are the quintessential expression of a watchmaking classic, the guardian of hours, minutes and seconds. The Cellini Date models add a date function via a hand on a small sub-dial, blending practicality and elegance.
Finally, the Cellini Dual Time models indicate the time in two time zones simultaneously and feature an elegant sun and moon day/night indicator in an aperture on the sub-dial for the second time zone.
All the new Cellini models feature a high-precision self-winding mechanical movement, certified as a chronometer and entirely manufactured by Rolex. No date is $15,200, date is $17,800 and dual timezone is $19,400.
See also Rolex Forum – Basel 2014: All the new Rolex models with Live pictures & US retail prices
All pictures are Paul Boutros
In early 2013, The Henri Stern Watch Agency, Inc. (“HSWA”), the U.S. subsidiary of Patek Philippe SA, moved from 1 Rockefeller Plaza to a new office at 45 Rockefeller Plaza. The new headquarters are nearly 33,000 square feet and consolidate a state-of-the-art watchmaking workshop with the administrative offices of Patek Philippe USA.
This is an important investment for Patek Philippe and demonstrates its long-term commitment to the U.S. market. Furthermore, it is also a commitment to New York City’s Rockefeller Center, a complex where HSWA has been located since the late 1930s. TimeZone was invited to visit the new offices and we brought along a camera.
The lobby is a tasteful combination of marble, light blonde wood and brass. The attention to detail is exquisite and in harmony with the Patek boutiques.
Customers are welcomed in a private salon where they can privately bring their repairs. Notice the Sky Moon tourbillon drawings on the wall.
High technology was not forgotten. There are interactive walls in the reception area where customers can read about the history of the brand, look at the catalogue or watch a live-feed of repairs directly from the workshop. There is a camera that feeds images from a watchmaker working on a Grande Complication. Also the reception area is appointed with iPads for customers to use.
We left the reception area to enter the administrative offices of Patek Philippe. In one room is a large kitchen table for the staff to have meetings, as well as entertain guests for an impromptu lunch or drink. In the background, notice the Patek Philippe display case
This display case is used to show retailers what a Patek Philippe Corner looks like. They can have a feel for the colors and dimension needed in the store. They can also see the watch stands inside each window.
We leave the administrative side to follow a long corridor. Notice that the walls are bare because the staff have yet to install artwork.
We reached another kitchen (yes they seem to be bon vivants at HSWA), but this one is mainly for watchmakers. We loved the furniture in this room, a retro 1970s futuristic modern décor. The perfect kitchen to wear a Nautilus.
Then, we prepared to enter the watchmakers workshop. The setup is similar to a hospital operating room. A hospital tries to prevent microbes from entering the operating room, whereas the watchmakers try to prevent dust particles from entering the workshop.
These are lockers for the watchmaking staff and you can notice the white coats that are needed to enter the room. Also, guests must wear shoe protection.
HSWA has dual air controls for both the watchmaking workshop and the administrative offices. There is an air filtration system and also an air pressure system to make the watchmaking area a higher pressure room to prevent external dust from entering.
Within the watchmaking area is the polishing and watch cleaning department, which is obviously separated from the rest of the atelier. It has large open windows. No detail was left unchecked. Patek even poured flooring with an antisatic surface with rubberized properties.
Here, a polisher is working at an extremely clean station. You would barely notice any dust even in this room.
In the adjacent room, you can find the cleaning and sonic machine for watch and movement parts.
This is the main watchmaking area, with a few stations. There are 8 watchmakers and the room can accommodate up to twice as many. You will notice the ease of space and the comfort of the room. The room was designed top to bottom as a watchmakers workshop.
The Quality Control area has its own separate staff. The staff have state-of-the-art equipment to make sure your Patek Philippe watch repair meets the exact standards as a similar repair would achieve in Geneva. The entire room was as quiet as if I was visiting an atelier in a Swiss Village. In the background, the windows overlook Fifth Avenue, one of the busiest and noisiest street in the world. Yet, inside, you can literally hear a pin drop.
HSWA can handle most repairs, except the Grande Complication watches are sent back to Switzerland. HSWA does some vintage watch repairs, but only about 60 pieces a year. Notice the World Timer world clock, above. In the second picture, notice the small ladies movement on the right and a 27-70 fitted in a 5070 on the left.
Grande Complication 5004
HSWA can handle most repairs, including a 27-70 and small ladies movement
The watchmakers seem to enjoy the new atelier, a big difference from their old digs.
Entering the repair safe room. The large walk-in safe has two entrances; one from the watchmakers’ atelier and another for the corporate staff. The safe is attached from the ceiling.
Plenty of storage space for your repairs. There are also parts that will be used to repair the watch. Finally repairs that have to go to Switzerland are also stored in the safe before delivery to the client.
Another safe within HSWA New York. This is the room where new watches are stored before they are shipped to authorized Patek Philippe Agents. You will notice the very limited inventory.
The famous shipping boxes used by Patek for their sealed watches.
To conclude, Patek has created a state of the art facility in the heart of New York which cannot be rivaled. The investment was important and is testimony of its engagement to excellence, as well as maintaining tradition. After 80 years in the Rockefeller Center, Patek Philippe chose to stay there and worked around the difficulties of installing such an office and atelier when the easier and cheaper route would have been to delocalize. The company deserves kudos for this long term commitment, the mark of true understated luxury.
Timezone Features June 25, 2013
Greubel Forsey is somewhat different that any other brand. They don’t really make watches but rather Inventions. They do let their imagination guide them but these inventions are rather codified within the realm of Horology. While a few new brands want to approach watchmaking without any boundaries, Stephen Forsey and Robert Greubel are watchmakers, their watchmaking is as rigorous as a Dufour. Incidentally, Philippe Dufour works on a few projects with the two watchmakers. Maybe the biggest compliment of all.
Steve’s watch, a Double Tourbillon Asymétrique
The GMT features a second time zone indication complemented by a three-dimensional globe providing an intuitive picture of time all over the world, all set in a distinctive asymmetrical case.
A dual-function pusher allows quick setting of the second time zone, indicated on a small dial at 10 o’clock as well as adjustment of the rotating globe. Accuracy is assured by the 25° inclined Tourbillon 24 Secondes regulator, while a 72-hour power reserve indicator at 4 o’clock monitors available power.
On the back of the timepiece, a worldtime disc with cities in each of the 24 time zones facilitates the setting of the globe and provides an alternative view of universal time.
GMT 5N Red Gold Case
GMT 5N Red Gold Case back
The Double Balancier 35°
The Double Balancier 35° features two inclined fixed-oscillators coupled with a spherical differential, which provides the average of their rates to the gear train and time display.
Between the two visible inclined balances, small seconds at 7 o’clock displays the running instantaneous average of the two regulators, while a 72-hour power reserve indicator at 2 o’clock keeps track of the optimal power available from the two co-axial, fast-rotating mainspring barrels.
The 35° inclination of the balances allows for larger diameter balance wheels (better inertia /more stable timekeeping) in a 43.5mm case.
The Double Balancier 35° is a unique edition of six pieces in 18k white gold.
The Double Balancier 35° White Gold
Greubel Forsey Experimental Prototype. The company presented in 2005 a proprietary development methodology called EWT (Experimental Watch Technology) to experiment, test and ratify their projects in-house. It’s a proprietary research and development platform.
THE QUADRUPLE TOURBILLON
The spherical differential linking the four tourbillon carriages of the Quadruple Tourbillon is a prime example of Greubel Forsey’s inventive approach, as it exhibits an unprecedented degree of complexity, refinement and timekeeping performance.
Four asynchronous tourbillons independently contribute to its high precision. The spherical differential acts like a car’s differential in distributing torque between two wheels while allowing them to rotate at different speeds.
The asymmetrical format of the two double tourbillons provides clear visibility to all carriages on the dial side, enables an additional lateral view through the side-window and eliminates the necessity for a larger movement diameter – all in a highly distinctive elegant case.
Quadruple Tourbillon 5N red gold
DOUBLE TOURBILLON 30° BLACK TITANIUM
My favorite watch
At the heart of this timepiece is the Double Tourbillon 30° mechanism; however, additional technical developments include four fast-rotating co-axial barrels, which are coupled to a visible spherical differential driving the power reserve indicator.
The Technique is testament to Greubel Forsey’s philosophy of technical visibility. The eye is drawn from one gear to the next, enabling careful observation of each separate element.
Hours are displayed on a transparent sapphire crystal ring fitted inside the bezel to ensure full visual access to the astonishingly three-dimensional depth of the mechanism. The words of Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey in bas relief text, convey their total dedication to their art. This particular Tourbillon 30° is made in black titanium.
Double Tourbillon 30° Black Titanium
The Tourbillon 24 Secondes Contemporain
The Tourbillon 24 Secondes Contemporain is characterised by its round case and emphasis on the technical aspects of the movement, especially the tourbillon. The three-dimensionality of the timepiece is accentuated by the royal blue treatment of the titanium plates and bridges.
A transparent synthetic sapphire tourbillon bridge gives a captivating and hypnotic impression of the regulator floating in mid-air and underlines one of the highly creative challenge which are to be found throughout the timepiece. The distinctive 12 o’clock index in relief is an example of the innovative spatial management of the components within this architectural study.
The Tourbillon 24 Secondes Contemporain is a unique edition of 33 pieces featuring a titanium movement and platinum case.
The Tourbillon 24 Secondes Contemporain. Platinum case and titanium movement
ART PIECE 1
Art Piece 1 is a collaboration between Greubel Forsey founders Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey and renowned British micro-sculptor Willard Wigan.
The real challenge, however, lies in the integrated optics, there is a miniature microscope set into the caseband, allowing the wearer to fully appreciate the detail of Wigan’s nano sculpture. This optical-grade instrument offers 23-fold magnification, with the timepiece cleverly designed to allow enough natural light to illuminate the sculpture.
The pusher at 4, reveals the time “on demand”
(all Pictures Paul Boutros)Read more
An interview in March 2013 by William Massena
TimeZone (TZ): Richard, can you tell us briefly about your life prior to joining TimeZone?
Richard Paige (RP): Being a Fourth generation watchmaker, I spent most of my life working in the watch and jewelry retail business, although I also dabbled in real estate development for a number of years alongside my retailing. Upon graduating from college in Boston, I migrated to California to attend graduate school. Having no money to pay for out-of-state tuition, I decided to work for a year or so to gain California residency and hopefully gather college funds. On a whim, I opened my own watch repair business in Mill Valley, California, and decided I liked being on my own and not in school. This small repair shop evolved into a full blown antique watch and jewelry retail store, and then into several in the San Francisco Bay Area and Hawaii. Being at “ground zero” of the Internet in the 1990s, I, of course, got swept up in the online world, and started to work with the very first online auction site: OnSale.com in 1995. After gathering online knowledge and experience, I took my retail store, Paris 1925, online in 1995. Shortly thereafter, I discovered TimeZone.com through surfing the web.
TZ: Tell us more about Paris 1925. You were an AD for a few brands, how did you choose them? What was your taste in watches?
RP: I had opened five retail stores in the North Bay of San Francisco, but always dreamed of having a high profile San Francisco location. I knew I needed a niche to set me apart from the big, established, internationally known stores in San Francisco. So in 1987, I created a store in San Francisco in the 1920s Art Deco mode and specialized in Art Deco art, furniture, antique jewelry, and of course vintage watches. I had been collecting watches since a young teenager so, of course my “Watch Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” was fueled by now being in a high profile location and had the ability and credibility to become authorized dealers for some of the great Swiss watch companies. I had a passion for large, oversized watches with exaggerated designs so I sought out the manufacturers who were going in this direction: ChronoSwiss, Ulysse Nardin, IWC, Alain Silberstein, Ventura, IkePod, Dubey & Shaldenbrand, Bell & Ross, and my perennial favorite: Jaeger-LeCoultre. My dad carried JLC in his store in the 1950s.
Richard Paige and his father inside Paris 1925 (San Francisco, 1989)
TZ: Do you remember your early posts before you bought TZ?
RP: Yes, I certainly do! I was a very obnoxious poster because I couldn’t believe that the only topic that most posters wanted to discuss was what was a better watch: Omega or Rolex. Of course, as I “matured” as a poster, I tried so hard to really answer questions if I new the correct answer and to try to introduce some other brands into the discussions. I kind of saw myself as someone who could give an insiders viewpoint on the watch industry and history of the genre.
TZ: TZ was “bombed” in the fall of 1995. Did you immediately contact the owners in Singapore to buy it? How did it go?
RP: Well, even before the infamous “bombing of TimeZone” , I had been in touch with the owners of the site in Singapore, and had kind of hinted around that I was interested in the domain name. They really weren’t part of the TZ community, but were web designers who had created TZ to show potential clients what could be done with the Internet. When the “bombing” occurred, they had just about had enough of the chaos of TZ, so they shut down the site, and were VERY glad to hand the reigns over to me (for a price). I worked out a deal with them, and immediately took over the responsibility of trying to resurrect TZ from the ashes of the bombing. To those of you who don’t understand what the bombing was: in the old days of the Internet there was no registration nor restrictions on posting. So a malicious poster could create a silly post, keep his finger on the “post” button, and “overtake” the forum with the same repetitive post, over and over, ad nauseam. Eventually shutting down the site with “cyber overkill”.
TZ: Was the motivation to buy TZ to establish a web commerce or you saw the potential?
RP: I realized early in the game, that it would have been business suicide to try to use TimeZone.com to promote my retail watch store, Paris 1925. I needed to make a distinction between Richard Paige, the owner of a watch retail store, and Richard Paige, the owner of TimeZone.com. I think I achieved this to some degree, because most people who visited TZ didn’t know that I also was in the retail watch business. But, I would be dishonest if I didn’t state that I did, indeed, do a lot of business from the ones who did know. You must remember that at this time the “dot.com” explosion was beginning to mushroom and everyone wanted a piece of this new world, so I quickly understood that I could have something of great value if I stayed true to my philosophy. But I also realized that I had a very short window in which to achieve this goal, since things on the Internet were moving at “business light speed.”
TZ: Did you discuss the potential of TimeZone with some watch brands? What was their reaction?
RP: Oh yes, in the very beginning, I tried so hard to get the Swiss watch companies to pay attention to what I was doing with TimeZone.com, but they really didn’t want any part of it. In fact, they saw me as “the enemy”; one who was deliberately trying to undermine their established pricing structure. They were appalled that I “allowed” people to sell their brands discounted on the Sale Corner, and advised me to seek legal counsel. Before TimeZone, I was an accepted player in the Watch Industry: I was brought up in the business, I knew how to act and who to show respect to and who to Kowtow to. They couldn’t understand why someone from “the Club” could become a sort of traitor to the industry, and most threatened to take my authorized dealerships away. At the International watch shows I was treated as a pariah by most. Eventually, some companies took a more visionary approach, and began to see TimeZone and the Internet for what it was: a fantastic place to promote their products.
TZ: The word “WIS” has become somewhat of a standard in the watch forums/blogosphere, how did you get that idea? I still have my pin and I remembered that nobody dare call himself a WIS without his pin which was a big motivation to write and contribute to TZ.
RP: Actually the WIS idea came very naturally to me. As TimeZone became more and more popular and influential, it started to attract more and more watch fanatics and zealots to the site. This core group of “closet watch lovers” finally had a neighborhood that they could hang out in and feel right at home and comfortable in. Talking about “beats per minute” of watches at a diner party probably didn’t go over so well with most of us, but now we had a like minded group of people who all played well together in the playground, and we could talk about watches to our hearts content. But, as I followed the dialogues, monologues, and soliloquies each day from the TimeZoners, I became astonished at the amount of watch trivia and nuanced minutiae that the TimeZoners collectively had. And I found it very funny.
Some of them reminded me of the Dustin Hoffman character in the movie “Rain Man”, who was an idiot savant (a person who is considered to be mentally handicapped but displays brilliance in a specific area, especially one involving memory). Thus the Watch Idiot Savant was born….. One who doesn’t remember his wife’s birthday, but can rattle off the amount of jewels in Rolex Daytona. I jokingly came on the forum and stated that I had started a new club: the “Society of Watch Idiot Savants”…or “SWIS” for short. I even created and produced a “TimeZone WIS Pin”, which I gave out to the forum posters who contributed a great post or helped another TimeZone visitor…. or as a contest prize. To my amazement and amusement, it really took off, and everybody started calling themselves WISs. And to be honest with you, to this day, I still get a kick out of it when someone talks about WIS.
TZ:How did you meet Walt Odets? How did you convince him to join TZ?
RP: Walt is a story unto himself. I stumbled across Walt on TZ back in 1996 or 97. He was a constant thorn in my rump, always hypercritical of my steerage of the site, and constantly on my case for supporting the watch companies and trying not to step on their toes. I instinctively knew that I had to have the blessing, or at least the cooperation of the Swiss watch Industry, to have any credibility on the international stage that the Internet provided.
But Walt felt differently, and let me know it at each turn. We both were becoming high profile players on TZ: me, as the owner, and Walt, as the Resident Expert. Finally, since we both lived in Bay Area, we agreed to meet and have lunch. I prepared myself for the worst. But I found Walt to be fascinating. It had been such a long time since I had met a true intellectual, and Walt was the quintessential intellectual.
Here was a guy who could quote the great philosophers, understand the inner workings of the emotional brain as a Psychologist, and talk casually about weighting a balance wheel on a watch. He was truly uncanny and also had a good sense of humor. So I asked him to come onboard and work with me on TZ for a percentage of the ownership. I figured it’s better to have him on the team, [rather] than the opposing team, and he had so much to offer and contribute. He agreed to my offer, and the rest is TimeZone history. However, at the very end of my tenure, our personalities clashed again and we parted as we had started, as adversaries.
TZ: Do you consider Walt’s Rolex Explorer review a turning point in the history of TZ?
RP: Yes, it certainly was a demarcation point for TimeZone. After the infamous “TimeZone Bombing”, and I took over the reigns of TZ, I became more heavy handed and tried to steer the forum discussions towards a sort of “Watch Political Correctness” where every watch brand had an audience and a place in the world of watches. However, with the review of the Rolex Explorer, and the trashing of the Rolex “sacred cow”, many TimeZone regulars became upset, unnerved, and disturbed about this perceived negative review of the Holy Grail of watch brands and saw TimeZone as something more sinister than what it was. The Rolex Explorer review seemed to spread like wildfire throughout the watch Internet community and then into the industry players, who didn’t appreciate negativity from someone as renowned as Walt Odets. It seemed to split the community in half; those that hailed Walt’s honesty and those who saw the review as a huge blunder. It certainly added to the mystic of TimeZone, both positive and negative. But I guess in the final analysis, that old adage holds true: there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
TZ: When did you decide to sell TZ? And why?
RP: I was an early adopter of the Internet and prided myself on my foresight in buying TimeZone in 1996. However, in 1999 I really began to see the handwriting on the wall. This was at the height of the DotCom explosion, and everyone wanted a piece of the pie. The IPOs for Internet stocks were exploding and the valuations began to get very frothy. With the successful IPO of stocks like Amazon and eBay, in 1997 and 1998, all eyes were on Internet companies. At this point, I hadn’t made any money to speak of with TimeZone, and it was costing me more than I could afford. Also, my wife and I just had another baby, and I had thrown all my chips on the table with TimeZone when I closed my retail store to become a pure Internet owner.
I was starting to get approached by all sorts of players, both with money and without, about selling or merging TimeZone to, or with, other bigger players. I realized that in order for me to achieve my dreams and goals I had to take TimeZone to the next level; which would require a major infusion of capital and was something I just didn’t have. So, I sought a White Knight. Someone who could capitalize the concept and still allow me to run [TimeZone] the way I loved. This was naïve thinking. I sold the website to Ashford.com, a publicly traded company, in October of 1999. Sure, they let me still manage the site, but they stifled my creativity so much that I just couldn’t look at myself in the mirror anymore. I left TimeZone in May of 2001.
TZ: Do you regret selling TZ? Would you have done thing differently looking back?
RP: “Regret” is an elusive term. I certainly felt very emotional when I finally gave up ownership to Ashford.com. Part of the sales agreement was that I would stay on for two years and run the site: a “sweetheart” deal that paid me well to keep my focus on the site. But, it quickly evolved into me having to fit into their corporate structure and act like an officer of a publicly traded company, and not an Internet creator nor maverick.
I’m an entrepreneur. I had run my own businesses for the last 25 years and really didn’t fit into this profile of having to explain myself and get approval from those above me in rank to do any changes to the site. So, after only a year, I was fired from the company. My first job [as an employee] and first firing.
As fate would have it, the Internet bubble began to burst and Ashford starting to fall into the sinkhole of the market crashing. They offered TimeZone back to me. I offered them all my stock back, but they also wanted as much money as they could get. Some of you reading this article may remember me calling you around this time, as I was trying to put together a group to buy TimeZone.com back and continue where I had left off. But, I just couldn’t come to an agreeable price from Ashford and I moved on. Would I have done it differently looking back? In hindsight, yes. I would have gone with my other options that were available at the time.
TZ: How has the watch business evolved because of the Internet in the past 20 years?
RP: I truly believe that the Internet has altered the course of the watch industry down a path that it never would have taken had the Internet not existed. The Internet’s influence has been profound and provocative, and has truly changed the way the watch industry does business. As the Internet gave the watch companies a broad vehicle to promote their brands, and opened up their audience base dramatically, they discovered that the “brand name” is everything.
Today, the industry has evolved into a “war of attrition”. Most of the well known brand name watches were bought up by the large Swiss watch conglomerates, the biggest player being the Swatch Group. Swatch owns around 18 different watch brands, including Breguet, Omega, Tissot, Blancpain, Tiffany & Co., Longines, Rado, Hamilton and so many others. I believe this evolution would never have taken place without the Internet’s ability to reach a vast audience that gave the big conglomerates the ability to promote and sell to customers their brands that go from cheap to very expensive.
TZ: What do you think of TZ today?
RP: I think it still shines as a great destination to learn about the world of watches.
TZ: Twenty years ago the brands missed the opportunity to an early dialogue with collectors through Internet forum. Today, they go gaga with blogs and bloggers and treat them like royalty. Do you think they overcompensate and don’t want to miss the next opportunity?
RP: To be honest with you, I haven’t the foggiest idea, anymore, what goes through the minds of the big brand name companies. I’m not sure I understand their business model to buy every, and all, brand names they can get their hands on. Are they the new Proctor & Gamble of watches? Or do they just think that more is better. However, as I just launched my own new brand of watches, I do see how the dialogue with Internet blogs and bloggers is absolutely essential and important to smaller companies that need the interaction between customer and brand.
Richard Paige: Internet pioneer, entrepreneur and creator of the Rpaige Wrocket watch (Hawaii, 2013)
TZ: Let’s get back to you. You moved to Hawaii and created a new business, what was it?
RP: When I finally moved to Hawaii, after working with TimeZone for 5 years, I had pretty much burnt out with my career in the watch and Internet world. I needed a new focus and I needed to get involved with something that was new and as far away from the jewelry and watch business as possible. So, as a incurable entrepreneur, I first got involved in a start up “Healthy Fast Food” business with some watch guys here in Hawaii. Then I invested in a water bottling plant, which was about as far away from watches as I could get. Then moved into harvesting, desalinating, and bottling Deep Ocean water. From there I became very active in real estate development (which I had been doing alongside retailing since 1985).
TZ: Why come back to watches today?
RP: As fate would have it, about a year ago I got very sick and had a lot of downtime to recover. My wife decided that she wanted to buy me a watch to cheer me up for my birthday. We went to a high profile watch store and looked at everything in my wife’s price range, but I didn’t like anything – everything I did like seemed so expensive. Then, a few days later, I was going through my old stuff and found a watch that I had produced in 1987: a pocket watch that I had converted into a wristwatch. It hit me like a thunderbolt. I never finished this project that I started in 1987, and I was never more happy than when I was creating, designing, and working on art, watches and jewelry. So I decided, right there and then, that I would finish this project of one of my great passions in life – designing, manufacturing, and selling art that tells time.
TZ: What can you tell us about the Wrocket?
RP: The Rpaige Wrocket watch is a true labor of love for me. It’s the watch that I always wanted for myself. I’m a huge fan of Art Deco and especially the architecture of this period: The Chrysler Building, The Empire State Building, Rockefeller Plaza, etc. If you really think about it, all the different variations on the theme of wristwatch design were born in this era: circles, squares, and rectangles. The wristwatch really hasn’t changed in design since the 1920s when it first became a prominent style of jewelry for men.
So I set about creating my ultimate “dream watch”. A Chrysler Building for the wrist with a first class motor inside.
As I got more and more wrapped up in this watch, I began to realized that what I really wanted to do was to not only create this watch for myself, but to complete the project I had started in 1987; the Pocket watch converted to wristwatch, wrist-pocket watch… Wrocket. The next logical step was create a new brand, the Rpaige Watch, and begin the journey of designing, engineering, manufacturing, and selling this watch.
But, what was also nagging at my brain was the fact that any watch company could produce a great $25,000 watch. But could they produce a great limited edition watch for under $3,000?? This was my obsession, challenge, and goal. An affordable limited edition masterpiece.
I wanted the watch to be unique. Let’s face it, from the across the room it’s very difficult to differentiate one watch from another. They seem to all mimic each other in design and style: military, chronograph, divers: in round, square and rectangle. I wanted the watch to be able to be recognized from across the room – dial, hands, case. “Hey, that’s a Rpaige Watch!”
Equally important as the design is the mechanical movement or “engine” of the watch. It’s the heart and soul of a watch, and determines the brand’s relevance, worth, prestige, and historical place in the watch world. Since I’m not a watch movement manufacturer, I needed to have a movement that fit my idea of importance for my new watch. I couldn’t use an ETA, that would make me another “Me Too” watch, and I couldn’t use a “great House” movement, that would make the watch way too expensive for my parameter of a watch under $3,000. Where could I turn? I turned to my roots. I had learned to fix watches on old American pocket watch movements. These are great teaching devices because the plates, wheels and parts are “oversized” compared to wristwatch movements, and it’s easier to understand watch mechanical theory by being able to visually see the parts in action. These watches were a pleasure to work on: great materials, great design, and visually beautiful. I fell in love with these miniature “motors” of a time and era of long ago. But it wasn’t till many years later, after I had become adept at repairing modern watches, did I come to realize that I had learned my trade on the “Michangelos” of movements. The Golden Era of Watchmaking: American pocket watch movements made between 1890 and 1930. So now I had identified my movements, and the project took a giant step forward. The Wrocket watch: a fusion of the pocket watch and the wristwatch.
Wrocket with Black Dial in Steel
TZ: Will you sell exclusively on the net or will you eventually expand to retailers?
RP: For now, I’m going to sell exclusively on the net through my website (www.rpaigewatch.com). This way I can assure that I can keep my price under $3,000. If I sold to stores they would have to retail close to $4,000. However, I would really like to have a few good retail stores represent my watches and think I’ve come up with a way to do this and still keep the prices reasonable. And then I could have an avenue for my next design, which I’m currently working on. So, at this point I’m currently searching for retailers who understand what I’m doing.
TZ: Your Price point is very aggressive, what makes you keep cost low and still sell these watches at a profit?
RP: Well, that’s a hard question to answer. I needed the first design to be a home run so that it would give me the opportunity to create additional designs in the future. And since I had to reengineer the design to accommodate the antique/vintage movements which don’t use a modern detent plate stem, using instead the original sleeve design, the manufacturing costs were challenging. Also, there are the labor costs to restore the original movements. So I don’t plan on getting rich with the first watch, but hoping to make out better on the next design since the engineering costs have already been paid for.
TZ: Is there a next generation of Paige watchmakers coming?
RP: I don’t think so, my two daughters don’t think too much about watches, and they think I’m crazy to wear a watch when I can get the time from my Iphone. Of course, at some time in the future, they may see things differently.
TZ: And the traditional TZ question: What watch are you wearing today?
RP Is this a gotcha question? [Laughs]. I love that your asking me this question because I used to ask this question once a week on TimeZone, and it was my favorite question to ask. To me it was the quintessential post on TZ. And it was always such a popular Post. Everybody seemed to like this question, whether they were knowledgeable about watches or not, it gave them a chance to participate in the forum discussions and to become part of the show. For some TZers, it let them show everyone else how sophisticated or knowledgeable they were, and I often wondered if the watches they were saying was on their wrist, really was on their wrist, or just wishful thinking, or the best watch they had in their collection, even if they weren’t wearing it.
To wit, one time while I was still the owner of TZ, I was traveling with a good friend of mine. While we were having lunch together, we both logged on to TZ on our laptops at the same time. I had posted the “What are you wearing” question earlier and I was reading the posts about what everyone was wearing. Then I noticed that my friend had just posted that he was wearing a Lange 1, which was in his collection; however, when I looked over at his wrist he had a Seiko diver on!! I still kid him about that to this day.
So in the interest of honesty, I’m wearing nothing on my wrist. I never wear a watch when I’m just hanging out at home.
© Timezone. All rights reserved.Read more
An interview in October 2012 by William Massena
About Michele Sofisti
Michele Sofisti has extensive experience in the watchmaking industry. Before creating Sofos Management, his own activity devoted to international strategy, marketing and management consulting, in 2005, Michele Sofisti was President of Swatch AG (Switzerland) for five years. He also served as President of Fred Jewellers and Christian Dior watches at LVMH, following his initial experience in the Swatch Group as Vice-President and then President of OMEGA SA. He began his career as a Geologist, then entering Ferrari where he was promoted as CEO of Ferrari Germany. An Italian national, Michele Sofisti earned a degree in Geology from the University of Parma.
Michele Sofisti CEO SOWIND Group
William Massena (WM): After nearly 14 months at Sowind what has changed and what remains to be changed?
Michele Sofisti (MS) We have engaged significant changes in many fields. Girard-Perregaux has intensified sharply its effort in the field of Marketing with many projects such as The New Face of Tradition, a unique initiative in the industry featuring the young watchmakers from our Manufacture, or numerous iconic partnerships with Kobe Bryant or Andrea Bocelli. Very important, the distribution is being rationalized and optimized at the international level. Last but most important, product creation and development are our key field. My motto is simplicity. The brand had too many collections so we are rationalizing our offer and reducing the number of references and collections. This will help for production, communication and visibility in the point of sales. If we are reducing number of references, at the same time we are launching two new product families, developing new high complications. For instance with watchmaking Maestro Dominique Loiseau, we are developing a grand complication from which we will feed the core range with a new family of large calibers.
We will launch of our new sport collection in the USA, in December, which will be a key step for the Brand.
For JeanRichard, we are repositioning the brand, and will unveil its new identity and collections in November. Overall, changes, achievements have been really important. Obviously this is an on-going process.
WM: Is the Integration of an independent brand such as GP within a Luxury Group such as PPR a difficult task?
MS: The philosophy of PPR in this respect is really positive and this helps a lot. The group motto is to empower talent and imagination, help brands grow. The positive and entrepreneurial culture of the Group is therefore really key. The task however is challenging. As I mentioned before, the changes we have and will implement are really significant.
WM: This week PPR has announced that it will divest itself from Mass market distribution companies such as FNAC to concentrate in the luxury market, should we expect more acquisitions of watch companies from PPR?
This is a question for the senior executives of PPR. I guess there is attention on opportunities in different industries, including watches.
WM: You have brought in Dominique Loiseau, a very talented personality in the Watch World, how will he influence GP?
MS: I met Dominique Loiseau several years ago, working together in Omega. He is one of the most talented contemporary watch inventors with a rare vision, and expertise. His ethic and culture are a perfect match with Girard-Perregaux. And Dominique was attracted by the history and creativity Girard-Perregaux offers. He is bringing in is knowledge to the brand ‘Think Tank’, developing a revolutionary complicated watch which will serve a base for future regular collection developments. The manifesto of time, connected to this new grand complication and project aims at overturning watchmaking conventions. Watchmaking has evolved, historically, through conventional and rational means — a logical progression that nonetheless created technical constraints. To move forward, we are trying to free ourselves from these constraints, ignoring the conventions that limit us. This is the intention that animates our development with Dominique Loiseau.
WM: You are about to introduce these new GP references, what can you give a scoop to the TimeZone Audience?
MS: Our next step will be the launch of the new Hawk collection, in Miami during the December 2012 Art Week. It will be a sport collection launching first as a dive watch (Sea Hawk) and a chronograph (Chrono Hawk). The Hawk Collection will renew totally the brand’s tradition of crafting sport watches. It is an innovative, edgy design yet taking from the DNA previous Girard-Perregaux sport watches. The combination of materials proposed is also an important part of this concept.
WM: Traditionally, we always ask the interviewee what watch he is wearing as the last question?
MS: A Sea Hawk Pro 1000m.
Girard-Perregaux Sea Hawk Pro 1000m
© Timezone. All rights reserved.Read more
If you believed they put a man on the moon, man on the moon.
If you believe there’s nothing up his sleeve, then nothing is cool. – R.E.M.
Simple moon complication, and a special balance spring in each watch. Very similar on paper but a very different rendering of an obscure complication with a technical twist on each watch. The German influence on the Moser is apparent, as is the French influence on the De Bethune. I like to build on these “micro themes” within my collection and then move on to something else. It creates a trace of my enthusiasm for a peculiar aspect of watch collecting which may languish for a while, or disappear overnight. The watches within the collection are what is left after the infatuation is gone. A lasting reminder of a past obsession.
De Bethune DB25L and Moser Perpetual Moon
Some favorite chronographs:
Patek 5070G, Patek 5960P, FPJ Centrigraphe, Lange Datograph, Patek 5070J
by William Massena
At Basel 2006, TimeZone (TZ) had the privilege to visit Patek Philippe and interview Mr. Thierry Stern, Vice President and Mr. Claude Peny, CEO. Later, we were joined by Mr. Philippe Stern, Chairman. The interview lasted about an hour and was conducted in French. No questions were provided in advance. The interview was conducted on March 30, 2006.
(TZ): Thank you so much for the opportunity to have this interview. I would like to start with retail. When will the Geneva boutique open and what will it look like?
Thierry Stern: We hope to be open by the end of this year. The entire building has been renovated. Three floors will be open to the public. We plan to organize some exhibits around particular themes. We will also have the entire current collection permanently available for our customers at the Boutique; this is important to us.
We wanted to create three Patek Philippe destinations within Geneva, a Patek triangle if you wish, between the factory in Plans-les-Ouates, the Patek Museum, and the Boutique.
TZ: Do you mean that all the watches currently available in the catalogue will be for sale at all times at the Geneva Boutique?
Claude Peny: No, that would not be fair to our retailers. Some difficult to obtain models will not be available for sale. Customers will be able to view the watch, but will have to order and wait for it.
TZ: There have been rumors that you recently purchased the Patek Philippe Boutique on Bond Street in London (that boutique belonged to a retailer), is that true? Is Patek developing a strategy of vertical integration from manufacture to retailer?
Thierry Stern: Yes we bought the Boutique in London, It was an opportunity we could not miss, because that location is important to us.
No, we are not interested in opening Boutiques everywhere. We have a very close relationship with our clients and partners, the retailers. These relationships are important to us.
The 27-70 and Others
TZ: Speaking of relationships, there have been a few rumors about the 27-70, among them that Patek will terminate production of the 27-70 because Swatch will soon force you to have the Lemania name on the movement.
Claude Peny: We are already stating in our literature that the movement is a base Lemania. I was recently meeting some of their executives and there was no such issue. We already do most of the work in house on the Lemania, including a number of manufacturing and decoration operations that are no longer being made by Lemania.
TZ: I want to mention a model that is important to the TimeZone reader, and that is the 3970. I understand that you will not give production numbers, however recently Antiquorum has written about the production at length in conjunction with recent auctions, providing breakdowns between the 3970 and the 3970E, including hand shapes and most importantly the overall production by case colors (Platinum is the rarest, followed by white gold and rose gold and finally yellow gold). Did you provide these numbers?
Claude Peny: No we did not, but I think they know where to get the information.
Thierry Stern: You know William, all these breakdowns are unbelievable, these classifications… Within Patek, we have four references for the 3970 and that’s it. Those tiny variations are not so important at least not in Patek Philippe’s eyes.
TZ: The price of the 3970 is climbing fast, and some people even speak of speculation. What is your opinion?
Thierry Stern: People have always speculated. (smile)
Thierry Stern: No it is not discontinued. We only have three master watchmakers working on the 5004. They also handle repairs, so obviously production is very low. But expect to see them soon.
Claude Peny: We stopped production in 2003 to make some changes to the movements… some improvements that do improve the functioning of ref. 5004. We propose to retrofit these improvements to the older movements as they come in for service.
Thierry Stern: We offer this possibility to the client. Some choose to do it, others don’t (wry smile), preferring to keep the movement as original as possible.
TZ: What about the 5070, are we at the end of the run for that model? And is the 5970 soon to be discontinued with the release of the 5960?
Thierry Stern: No, we are not planning to discontinue either watch. We have not set specific production time periods. We try to look at the big picture, but also satisfy our collectors. There are no plans to discontinue these models.
TZ: This brings me to the 3712. One year of production, and the rumor is that the watch is already discontinued?
Thierry Stern: Yes, the 3712 is discontinued. It is rather the way we produce that reference that made us stop production. It was different than the way we will produce the new Nautilus collection.
TZ: I was surprised not to see the new Nautilus line. When will it be released? And why does the 3712 not fit within that line?
Thierry Stern: We are a small company with limited capacities. Producing the unique components required for the 3712 bracelet separately from the rest of the Nautilus line did not make much economic sense. The new Nautilus will be available in the Fall.
TZ: About the 5960, it is a rather interesting concept: you integrated a small complication (annual calendar) with a more classic one (the chronograph). Furthermore, your have a very original design. Can you tell us more?
Thierry Stern: We are very proud of the 5960. The first in house chronograph was important to our collectors, and to us. We wanted to create something original, interesting and forward. We have received excellent feedback about this watch.
TZ: With a price that is relatively affordable, will production be able to satisfy demand?
Claude Peny: Yes. Regarding the price, a few people have commented on that.
Thierry Stern: We used to deliver the first shipment of new watches in small batches of 80 to 100 pieces, however we were not satisfying demand. In certain markets, some retailers received new models, while others who did not complained to us. With this watch, we want to satisfy everyone, at least in a specific market, so we will not ship the first watches until we have reached 300 units in production. Until then, we will not ship the watch to our retailers.
TZ: The new Men’s 2006 collection has a common theme: size. You are replacing a few older models with larger watches. Do you think that trend is here to stay?
Thierry Stern: Yes absolutely. Today’s teenagers are taller and bigger than one generation ago. Large watches are here to stay because they are more legible and proportionate to our wrist. For example, the new Worldtimer has better legibility. The cities were a bit “tight” on the inner bezel of the 5110. This one is easier on the eyes.
TZ: The 5396 is another new watch that will become a big star. The windows for the day of the week and the month seem very appealing to collectors. But did we need another annual calendar?
Thierry Stern: Collectors requested this watch, and we have already received great feedback. The annual calendar is very popular, and this combination is what the market was expecting from us (note that the very popular 5125 Wempe limited edition had the same dial set up).
TZ: Last year you released the silicium anchor in a limited edition reference 5250. What feedback have you received from the happy few owners?
Thierry Stern: Very little (smile). It seems most collectors have kept the watches in their safes. However, we have done extensive testing and control in house. It works very well; it is reliable.
TZ: You are introducing the Spiromax in a new 2006 “Advance Research” limited edition this year, and the edition is very small. Why such a small number?
Thierry Stern: We can’t make everyone happy. We are limited by our production capacities.
Philippe Stern (who just entered the room): I want to know who buys this reference as we do for our minute repeaters. We work very closely with our retailers to know the final customer who will buy our minute repeaters. We want to know which Patek Philippe watches they already own. I do not want to see minute repeaters in the grey market, and it is the same with these limited editions.
TZ: You will have 300 watches this year; that is quite a few customers to know.
Philippe Stern: We will try.
TZ: My favorite watch this year is a ladies watch, the Gondolo Serata ref 4972/4973. It reminds me of the vintage reference 2442.
Thierry Stern: The watch is thick and it’s a beautiful design, in great contrast to the new Gent’s model Gondolo Trapèze. The latter could also be worn by a woman. It is thin and not very large. Do not forget the new ladies Calatrava 4896. Very thin and elegant; a favorite of mine.
Philippe Stern: You will always find vintage Patek DNA in our watches.
TZ: It seems important to Patek that the customer knows and understands Patek history. However the last 15 years are not well covered in Patek books. Will you soon release a new edition of Huber & Banbery, or a new book?
Philippe Stern: Books are tremendous work. We have no plans for a new book on the history of Patek, however we are working on a book for the museum. It will be a catalogue raisonnée of the museum’s entire collection.
TZ: On that note, I would like to thank you Gentlemen for sharing this time with us.
Please note that I did not conclude the interview by asking each participant what watch he was wearing, however:
Mr. Philippe Stern wore a 5296 in white gold, as did Mr. Claude Peny. Thierry was wearing a 5056P.
Picture credits: Patek Philippe, Antiquorum, Michael Sandler, Ron DeCorte, Chronometrie.com
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