Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Speedmaster Tokyo Olympics 2020 - The Panda

The Omega Speedmaster Professional Tokyo Olympics 2020 Collection - what a release!

The Omega Speedmaster Professional almost always comes with a black dial. So when I saw the Tokyo Olympics 2020 collection, I knew exactly what I liked in that collection. The Panda! The white dial appeals to me more than any of the other dial versions.

How I came to owning this piece is somewhat short of miraculous. These timepieces are only available in Japan and I managed to get one for myself.

Find out about how I managed to snag one for myself on Deployant. For now, do enjoy the pictures of the timepiece.

There is something special about white dial Speedmasters - just like the Alaskan Project and a few others, but the numbers are not many.

The one that comes closest is the Apollo XI which was released to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the moon landing. The only difference is that the Apollo XI has the date July 20, 1969 in red underneath the Speedmaster Professional tag line.

On the normal Sppedy, the markers are printed while on the white dial version, they are applied.

The timepiece comes with a sapphire glass instead of plexi. The words "Speedmaster" is painted red

You can see that the tip of the seconds hand is also painted red. Of course, red is the national colour of Japan, hence the choice here.

Nice details on the hands and applied markers.

Case back showcases the Tokyo 2020 Olympics logo.

I was told that the case back is laser engraved and it takes up to 15 minutes per case.

It seems that all new Speedmasters come with authenticity marks - the watch number, the Omega logo on the planet and the case material.

Side view of the Speedy.

Overall, extremely excited about the new acquisition. The list price of this steel piece is JPY680,400 inclusive of tax and will be rolled out over 2 years to coincide with the 2020 Olympics.

For more information of the collection, you may visit the Omega Japan website.

Friday, August 24, 2018

The man and his creation - Daizoh Makihara

Every now and then, you get to meet a talented watchmaker. I was privileged to have met not one, but two independent Japanese watchmakers on this trip.

On a recent trip to Japan, my friend Peter had arranged a meeting with the Japanese Editor in Chief of the watch magazine Chronos, Mr. Masayuki Hirota who had in turn invited both Mr. Daizoh Makihara and Mr. Tomonari Nakagawa. Both independent watchmakers and both very talented. Pictured here are the trio of (from left to right) Nakagawa-san, Hirota-san and Makihara-san, taken at the office of Chronos Japan.

Today, I start with the timepiece created by Makihara-san - the Chrysanthemums and Cherry Blossoms.

As the name suggests, the two motifs are that of the Chrysanthemum flower and cherry blossoms. On the dial side, one sees an elaborately design dial - and the details are awesome.

The dials are made from a solid block of quartz glass - hand milled and hand made. The dials are done Edo Kiriko style which is a typical Tokyo style glass cutting technique. This is done in collaboration with the Mitsuwa Glass Crafts Company.

A close up of the dial shows incredible details. The Chrysanthemum motif are expertly made and the dial reveals the movement underneath it - something like a skeleton dial.

Intricate details of the dial - simply awesome!

According to Makihara-san, the task of making these dials are very elaborate. So difficult to make, the yield of the dials are 20% which means four out of every 5 made are unusable. And what is even more amazing is that it takes about 8 to 9 months to make 5 dials!

The case reminiscent of the Lange One case, is made by a jewelry company K. Uno. The crown shows the Cherry Blossom flower - the Sakura.

From one Sakura motif to a whole lot more - and what a stunning view! My pictures do no justice to the finishing of the movement. The hand wound UNITAS 6498 movement is made and engraved by hand by Makihara-san. Yes, you heard me right - he makes the movement himself using lathe and milling machines. Speak about hand made!

The Cherry Blossom motif is hand engraved by Makihara-san and it takes up to 3 weeks to engrave one movement. Impressive details.

First, the movement is finished with brush finishing before Makihara-san starts the engraving of the Cherry Blossoms. Pay attention to the polishing of the bridges.

When he completes the engraving, the next step is the hand hammering of the dial to give it a "sand blasted" texture.

More close up shots of the staggering details on the movement - 100% hand made by Makihara-san. See the brushed finishing on the inside of the Cherry Blossom?

The timepiece is all of 42mm and sits well on the wrist. The presence of the timepiece is unmistakable - well made and full of details.

What I would like to see is the removal of the seconds hand, which in my opinion, is non functional. If removed, it allows the focus squarely on the dial work - gives it a more balanced view. Perhaps Makihara-san will allow the owner the option of removing the seconds hand.

Another look at the beauty of the movement - the Chrysanthemums and Cherry Blossoms by Mr. Daizoh Makihara. The watch is expected to be around US$50,000 and you may write to Makihara-san directly for further enquiries.

It was an honour to have met with Makihara-san and many thanks to Hirota-san (and Peter) for making this possible.

Makihara-san's home page - https://www.daizohmakihara.jp

Friday, August 3, 2018

Two For One - The JLC Reverso Grande GMT

Way back in 1931 when Manufacture Jaeger LeCoultre first developed the Reverso, I am sure they had not realised the full potential of the range.

The Reverso was then developed for the officers of the British Army who played polo and had wanted a timepiece that could withstand the rigours of polo and yet be kept safe. The glass front was vulnerable to breaking when hit. JLC created a reversible timepiece - watch on the front side and a solid case back to protect the timepiece from flying balls and the likes. And the rest they say, is history.

Fast forward to more recent times, JLC has gone on to develop more iconic Reverso iterations and I have had the luck to own the Reverso Grande GMT Ultra Thin Bleu Edition. Here, I feature another Reverso with the GMT complication - the Reverso Grande GMT. My favourite of all must be the JLC Reverso Gyrotourbillon 2. What a timepiece! But I digress... I leave that for another time.

The normal Reverso are slightly smaller and perhaps more suitable for ladies. The Reverso Grande IMHO is just the right size for men. And with the right complication, is great value especially in steel case.

The case is sized at 46x29mm and fits well for a small wrist like mine.

The timepiece presents dual faces - the front is typically local time and the reverse features a second time zone along with a 24-hour indication as well as the power reserve indicator.

The front panel displays the local time, has a Day/Night indicator at the 2 O'Clock position, a small seconds dial between 4 and 5 as well as a large date at 7. Odd as it may seem, the two pushers on the side of the case actually is for the reverse face.

The reverse side displays more information - firstly, the second time zone and to adjust the time to the overseas time, the pushers on the case are used. The top pusher advances the hour hand while the lower pusher moves the hour hand backwards.

At the 1 O'Clock position is the Power Reserve indicator showing the 8 days of power reserve for this manual winding timepiece. The sub-dial at 5 O'Clock displays the 24-hours indication with the sub-dial at 7 O'Clock showing the deviation from GMT time.

For the owners, the Reverso Grande GMT represents the travellers timepiece - one keeping the local time and on the other face the home time. The "front" face keeps the home time...

And the reverse the local time wherever you may be. What's interesting is the ability to also track the time with reference to the GMT difference - that is the indicator on the reverse side at the 7 o'clock position.

My take on JLC is that they make honest timepieces. They have the largest number of in-house calibres to their credit and in the earlier years were supplying movements to other brands like Rolex, Panerai, IWC and the likes.

Manufacturer JLC continues to churn out in-house calibres and refine their collection. For any collectors who want to start off with an in-house calibre, I strongly suggest the brand. not only do they have in-house movements, they also have a wide enough range from casual to dress to sports to haute-horology. And they are great value for money too.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Glashutte & The Meissen Porcelain Dial

Glashutte Original and the Meissen Porcelain company collaborated and made this White Dial Beauty.

Head on to the Deployant page for a full read. For now, enjoy the photos of the Meissen Porcelain dial which has more than 300 years of history under their belt. Combining expertise both companies possess, the result is the Senator Meissen dial.

This Meissen sample comes as a time only timepiece. Simple, elegant and very handsome. The classic Senator is aesthetically pleasing, proportionate and neat.

The blue hands compliments the dial and rose gold case. Why is the porcelain dial desired? For one, they are rather rare and secondly and more importantly, the dials are said to maintain its colouration for a decades.

Although this is not a limited edition, each dial is individually numbered. All the markers including the Meissen cross swords trademark and the Glashutte brand name are hand painted on the porcelain dials.

A porcelain dial is not easy to manufacture. Lots of skill goes into making one of these dials. For starters the liquid porcelain is applied to a disc and then fired at between 1,200 °C to 1,400 °C. Only milky white flawless discs that meet their stringent requirements are selected and hand painted.

To make one of these dials, the craftsmen takes between 8-10 hours hand painting each marker or logo using very fine brush. This requires dextrous hands with full on concentration too.

As with all hand painted markers, it is not "perfect". This macro shot clearly shows the outcome.

8 and 9 hand painted marker - again, a clear sign it is hand painted and not machine stamped.

As much as one expects the highest of quality from the Meissen manufacture, even the Glashutte logo is not perfectly drawn. But what is true about such hand crafted dials is that no two are alike which makes each dial unique.

The finishing on the inside of the case finishing - brushed interior.

The blued hands...

The complete package...

One last look at the symbol of the Meissen dial

It is sad to note that the collaboration has stopped and that Meissen Porcelain no longer makes these kinds of dials for Glashutte Original. Their short lived collaboration launches some very iconic pieces - the Singapore Edition commemorating 40 years of nationhood, the Senator Meissen Tourbillon, just to name few.

Perhaps the folks at Glashutte Original will find another partner or perhaps someone else will start noticing a missing segment in the luxury watch space and look at doing a series for themselves. These porcelain dials are awesome.