Patek Philippe

2006-01-19

Ten Day Tourbillon by Patek Philippe (Swiss, Founded 1839).

Approximate Cost: 135 643.00GBP

PatekFully mechanical and manually wound, this Grand Complication boasts a sophisticated tourbillon movement and generous ten-day power reserve indicator, tricky complications to pull off together.

A small second hand gives you something to watch on the commuter train. A rectangular platinum case with a 32 mm movement diameter surrounds a rose gold dial. Water resistant down to 25 metres.

  • In 1999 the most expensive watch ever sold was a 1933 gold Patek Phillipe with 24 complications.

It was auctioned off at Sotheby’s for 11 million USD (over 6.2 million GBP)

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Girard-Perregaux

2006-01-16

Magistral Tourbillon by Girard-Perregaux (Swiss, Founded 1791).
Approximate Cost: 158 315.00 GBP.

Girard-PerregauxPart of the Haute Horlogerie collection, the Magistral Tourbillon is hand-wound. The see-through, 36-by-37 mm case reveals the beauty of Girard-Perregaux’s tourbillon movement and is water resistant down to 30 metres. On the dial reside two seashell-shaped indicators, one for the instantaneous calendar and the other for 110 hours of power reserve. Missing are: 2, 4, 8, and 10 o’clock!

Perhaps Girard-Perregaux became widely known due to a co-branding partnership agreement with Ferrari, the Italian motor car company, between 1994 and 2004. This has been replaced by the yachting sector with the BMW-Oracle Racing collection.

Girard-Perregaux Tourbillons are known for having three gold bridges and no other watch manufactured during our times goes back as far: the first tourbillon with three gold bridges dates from 1889.

They do a popular Art Deco style ‘Vintage 45’, Tonneau and the famous Opera 1, Opera 2 and Opera 3s.

Now part of SoWind Group that includes Jean Richard and EMG.


Blancpain

2006-01-12

Blancpain 1735 by Blancpain (Swiss, Founded 1735).
Approximate Cost:56 480.00 GBP

BlancpainBlancpain really started making a world-class name for itself in the 1950s when it’s ‘Fifty Fathoms’ was selected by several armies (among others: USA, French, German and Italian). In 1956 Blancpain launched the Ladybird model, the smallest automatic movement in the world.
Now owned by the Swatch Group.

The company came to the forefront of watchmaking expertise in the 1980s. In 1983, a world first: the smallest movement indicating moon phase, day, month and date. 1988, the smallest minute repeater wristwatch. In 1989 the company achieved two world firsts: the world’s slimmest chronograph and the first self-winding split-seconds chronograph in the history of watchmaking.

Another world première, in 1990, Blancpain unveiled the first and only self-winding Tourbillon watch with date and one-week power reserve.

In 1998 the company launched the Sea – Earth – Sky trilogy including the Fifty Fathoms, the GMT and the Air Command.

The ultra-slim, Villeret, self-winding (ref. 4053-1540-55) was recognised ‘Watch of the Year’ by the Swiss public in 2002.

The company has created the world’s most complicated watch, and in recent years has won prestigious awards such as Watch of the year, the ladies watch prize of Geneva’’ first Watchmaking Grand Prix in 2001, the ladies watch prize of La Revue des Montres in 2002, and the Luxus prize of the Chrono Awards.

Named for the year Jehan-Jacques Blancpain opened his first factory, the shimmering 1735 complete with a crocodile strap and 80-hour power reserve boasts a half-dozen complications — two more than necessary to qualify as a ‘grand complication’.

Within the ultra-slim, 42 mm platinum case –the 1735 has a perpetual calendar, split-second chronograph, minute repeater, tourbillon and moon phase minder. It takes eight-to-ten months to piece together all 740 components, and only 18 out of a limited run of 30 watches have been assembled to date.


Audemars Piguet

2006-01-11

Minute Repeater with Tourbillon by Audemars Piguet (Swiss, Founded 1875).

Approximate Cost: 168 000.00 GBP

Audemars PiguetComplicated, mechanical and hand-wound, this Minute Repeater with Tourbillon from the Jules Audemars line has an 18K white gold case studded with 168 diamonds — 1.31 carats altogether.

The silvered dial is set with 104 diamonds and offers a tantalizing glimpse at the tourbillon movement. Pretty as the front is, there’s no less of a show behind the scenes where a sapphire skeleton back lets you examine the ever-whirring ingenuity inside. A beautiful timepiece, made even more so by its classy black alligator strap.

Since 1875, in the village of Le Brassus at the heart of the Vallée de Joux in the Swiss Jura region, Audemars Piguet has been creating and marketing under its own name a range of Haute Horlogerie watches, particularly complex models.

Representing a rarity in the sector, the company is the world’s oldest Factory still in the hands of the founding families. The great-grandchildren of the two founders, Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet, ensure the continuity and in Le Brassus, workshops dating back to 1875 house the Audemars Piguet Museum.

The resulting wrist- and pocket- watches are limited edition, expensive, hand crafted and extremely exclusive. The website has downloadable videos about the company’s grand complications and innovations.


Breguet

2006-01-10

Breguet 5437PT (Swiss, Founded 1775)
Approximate Cost: 155 477 .00 GBP.
The first major success of Breguet’s career came when he became the first to discover a formula which would produce a reliable automatic watch (one which would wind itself without the aid of a key or any other external source).

In 1780, Breguet started producing his perpétuelles watches commercially, selling among the first examples to the Duke of Orléans, cousin of King Louis XVI, and to Queen Marie-Antoinette.

The tourbillon is a device once used to eliminate the effects of gravity on the rate of a watch. A watch balance will go fast or slow depending on the position of the watch.

Breguet got around this problem by rotating the entire balance and escapement about their common axis once a minute. The constant rotation averages out all the positional errors. A.-L. Breguet received a patent from France’s ministry of the interior for a new regulating device known as The Tourbillon on 1801-06-26.

breguetThe first true wristwatch (that is, conceived from the outset to be worn on the wrist) was created in the Breguet workshops in response to a commission from the Queen of Naples dated 1810-06-08. Breguet watch no. 2639 took two years and a half to complete.

Note the delicate milling around the case, the world-famous blued steel hands with tips in the form of a hollowed-out apple, known as ‘Breguet hands’ or pomme Breguet, the elegant penmanship of the ‘Breguet numerals’, and each watch has an individual number and secret signature of authenticity.


Vacheron Constantin

2006-01-09

Minute Repeater by Vacheron Constantin (Swiss, Founded 1755)
Approximate Cost: 192 180.50 GBP.

Vacheron ConstantinAccording to legend, Vacheron Constantin designed the first minute repeater to enable Emperor Napoleon to check the time on the battlefield without getting shot under torch light.

Using bells of different tones, a minute repeater will ring out hours, quarter hours, and the minutes past since the last quarter hour.

This manually wound Minute Repeater has a sparkling white dial and the 36.5 mm, 18K yellow gold case harbours the mechanical minute repeater.

There is also 34 hours of power reserve to spare.


Wristwatches

2006-01-08

During WW-1 wristwatches became popular with military officers and Cartier and Patek Philippe then others began making limited edition and high priced models to meet demand.

The connoisseur or collector is a new market, and a market assisted by lottery winners, pop stars, and movie stars who may actually wear the watches. The watch makers do not make money from the high-end timepieces, they are merely produced to give their brand an ambience of exclusivity, of continuing traditions, of luxury and quality.

It used to be the case of complications for men and jewels for women, but all watch makers are getting into the sports sector, and this appeals to everyone, and Bling is bling, so jewels are now for everyone who can afford them.

Complications include chronograph functions for timing laps, moon phase indicators for tracking slices of the lunar pie, and perpetual calendar functions which track days, months and even years for centuries.

New and useful complications, such as power reserve indicators that alert when your watch needs rewinding, or GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) functions to make it easier for travellers to keep track of multiple time zones.

One of the most prestigious and costly complications to be found is the Tourbillon. This an intricate mechanism invented in 1795 by Abraham-Louis Breguet for pocket watches to compensate for the fact that these tend to be maintained in a vertical, upright, position in the pocket, and are thus adversely affected by gravity. Tourbillons are the norm today even for wristwatches, but can be there merely for ‘instant cache’.

Another such complication is the Minute Repeater by Vacheron Constantin — ever rising in popularity. This complication helps by chiming or ‘repeating’ the current time at the push of a button. Using bells of different tones, a minute repeater will ring out hours, quarter hours, and the minutes past since the last quarter hour.

Many of the world’s most expensive watches are produced in severely limited quantities and frequently have buyers lined up long before they’re finished, often at rates of just a few per year.

These watches are not always worn. For a start, they are very expensive to buy and insure, and they are not very good at keeping time, despite all the hype about craftsmanship.

The Official Chronometer Testing Bureau (C.O.S.C.) can produce a chronometer certificate for a watch that runs fast or slow within acceptable limits. The average daily tolerances for chronometer rates are between -4 and +6 seconds. This means that even a watch that loses up to 4 seconds a day can still be called a chronometer.

Typically the movement is tested in five different positions:

* Crown down
* Crown left
* Crown up
* Dial down
* Dial up
It is then adjusted in each of these positions to the average daily tolerance (-4 and +6 seconds)…however, the story does not end there.

The first thing you should do now is run the watch in by wearing it every day. If necessary, the watch should be readjusted after the running-in period. Then…

You as the owner, are duty bound to keep an eye on the deviations and note down how fast or slow the watch is every day. Your record might well look like this:

Date Deviation at 8.15 pm Note
1 July 0 seconds watch set at 8.15 pm
2 July + 10 seconds
3 July + 20 seconds

You then have to go back to your retailer who will arrange to have your watch reset on the basis of the information you provide. In this case, he would set your watch to go about 8 seconds slower per day.

Under certain circumstances, it may be necessary to repeat these steps but in the end, with perseverance, your watch will be perfectly set to your personal lifestyle.