Monday, March 31, 2014

De Bethune - My New Hero

De Bethune is a brand I am new to and the more I learn about the brand, the more I am liking it. Recently, The Hourglass hosted a luncheon to introduce the DB28 Digitale and the Dream Watch 5.

But I was busy busy busy and therefore had no time to post about the event. Only now having returned from a long trip do I have time to sit down and enjoy my hobby again. The lunch was hosted at Garibaldis and a rather small group of collectors and press. Here, is Pierre Jacques with Jim and Timmy with Prof Harry Tan in the background.
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And while we were waiting for lunch to start and admire the new releases, I had the chance to admire someone's first generation De Bethune DB8 mono pusher chrono. The signature tear-drop lugs of De Bethune. 45 minute counter at six with the centre sweeping seconds. Beautifully finished - another feature of the brand.
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And when the lunch started, the watches were rotated around the table. Appearing in front of me was the perpetual calendars.
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The trio was mesmerizing and I love the way De Bethune does the perpetual calendars. Only a few brands display them the way they do - using windows instead of sub-dials. I find the windows easier to read whereas sub-dials if not properly done crowds the entire dial.
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First the DB16QP. This is the rose gold version of the perpetual calendar. Very legible and beautifully crafted. Another signature of the brand is the three dimensional moon at twelve.
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And the open case back displaying the calibre DB2509 manual winding movement with a 4 day power reserve. The boomerang bridge is another signature of the brand.
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And a special Limited Edition salmon dial version of the DB25QP.
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A closer look at the salmon dial version. According to Pierre, salmon dials will only be used for their platinum series and will be limited.
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The timepiece comes with an automatic Calibre DB 2324QP with 5 days power reserve. And for a watch that is 44mm, it wears comfortably as the lugs are another special feature of De Bethune.
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And now, the pièce de résistance… The DB29 mono pusher chronograph tourbillon. The mono pusher chrono has a centre display - very unusual and definitely more complicated to make. And then to add a tourbillon? Well if this is not complicated, I don't know what is.
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The timepiece comes with a hunter case. The tourbillon is featured at the back. As with all DB timepieces, they are immaculately finished.
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The dial features a 24 hours chrono indicator, 60 minute counter and also a 60 seconds counter. The minutes hand indicator is a rose gold hand but I had not activated the chrono function and therefore it is hidden behind the blue seconds hand.
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Then the feature of the event - the DB28 Digitale. Another unusual display - a digital hour indicator at twelve and a three dimensional moon at the centre. The minute indicator is a revolving disc. The dial is a hand-guilloché barleycorn motif - flawless in my opinion. Crown is found at the twelve.
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A closer look at the window between nine and three features a blue sky depiction complete with stars. The moon is right at the centre with a two hemisphere three dimensional moon - one in palladium and the other flame-blued steel.
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The back features the Calibre DB 2144 which is a manual winding in-house movement featuring a 5 day power reserve. The level of finishing it outstanding - I have come to expect nothing less from De Bethune.
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The Dream Watch 5 was also unveiled but due to the conditions in the restaurant, I was not able to take a decent shot. Not that these are good shots but under the circumstances and with a point and shoot, that's the best I could muster.

The Dream Watch series brings horology to a different level - reinterpretation of what horology is to De Bethune with a twist of art. With DW 5, the artistic side of De Bethune comes alive in their creation playing with shapes and complications. For more information, please visit

For me, the DB29 Maxichrono was the highlight, not that I can afford it. Pricing is always an issue when it comes to De Bethune. Definitely out of my reach. But I still hope - hope that one day I will own a De Bethune. In the meantime, I continue to dream that someone out there might be kind enough to present me one as a gift. Wishful thinking but then again, who knows.

Thanks to The Hourglass for hosting the event.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Carriage Clocks of Mr. Baumgartner

I do believe in coincidences and in my recent trip to Switzerland, I discovered how small this world is. Just a few months ago, I had met with Felix Baumgartner - co-founder of Urwerk and in my recent trip to Switzerland, I had the pleasure of meeting Baumgartner Senior!

Mr. Gerhard Baumgartner was kind enough to show me his collection of clocks - some for sale and some not. I will write separately on how I came to meet with Mr. Baumgartner senior but for now, I would like to share these beautiful carriage clocks.
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A little over 5-6 inches tall, the clock is heavy and rather well restored. This example is a French carriage clock and comes with 8 days power reserve. Carriage clocks were meant to be carried around during travels in the eighteen hundreds.
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These clocks typically have their balance wheel on the top of the clock.
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Now for the back of the clock showcasing the movement. See the chimes and
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The clock comes with an alarm at the base. And take a look at the guilloché on the frame. Probably hand decorated in those days.
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Next up is a Vienna Carriage Clock. Standing about 2 inches taller than the French clock, the Viennese is an equal beauty.
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Unlike the French clock, the dial is not enamel but also gilted brass. But like the French Clock, the Viennese clock comes with a 8 days power reserve and an alarm.
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And the decoration is again immaculate and probably hand done.
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Mr. Baumgartner Senior spends much of his time restoring these beauties. As of the last I know, the French clock was already sold. My bad as I had wanted it but was a day late. Stay tuned for more report on my visit to the atelier. For other more information, you may write to Mr. Baumgartner at

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Urwerk & Carriage Clocks?

What do these two clocks have in common with Urwerk?

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Stay tuned for the full report.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

What so significant about your watch purchase - some stories to share

So the year started with our Chinese New Year GTG at Chef D'Table at CHIJMES. The theme was simple - watches that tell a significant story.

Come to think of it, all purchases should tell a story right? Well, it is like the wife rationalizing their purchase of another pair of shoe or bag but in this case, our watches last a whole lot longer. And there are some significant stories that our fellow watch enthusiasts came up with.

So dinner was at Chef D'Table at CHIJMES and this time around, there was the spit-roasted lamb. The is first seasoned with some herbs and then put into the roaster.
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In the mean time, we check out the restaurant. Two rows of tables occupying two thirds of the restaurant.
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We had a peek at the lamb…
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And the final product!
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And of course everyone came out to take picture of the roasted lamb. Can you tell who the watch enthusiast is?
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And very soon, we were all tucking in to the buffet (starters) while the chef carved the lamb.
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Foodies we are, this is what was left - the carcass.
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The guys with their food
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And soon enough, the table shot. An impressive collection of high end timepieces and the more basic (probably first) watches. We all start somewhere but many of us started on the more modest brands and models.
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The owner of this FP Journe marked his 55th birthday with this watch. Hitting 55, he withdrew the max allowable in his CPF account and promptly bought this to mark his milestone. Talk about significant!
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This one tells a different story altogether. The owner bought this watch pre-owned and he bought it from a seller in Japan. When he received the watch, he realized the watch originated from Singapore - so the original owner must have sold it to a Japanese who in turn sold it back to another Singaporean. Talk about going full circle and back to its origins!
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This Seiko was the first watches this collector bought from Mustafa. He has gone on to buy more expensive timepieces since his humble Seiko 5.
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And what about this Lange 1? Well this collector has been working for more than 15 years and has always longed for the iconic Lange 1. So to mark his milestone, the Lange 1 was bought with his bonus payout.
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Two Lange 1s? Well this second Lange 1 - rose gold black dial version is another interesting lesson. When you are stressed out, don't walk into a watch retailer. The owner of the Lange One black dial was stressed out when he spotted the Lange One in the the store overseas. He walked in and like they say - the rest is history!
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Another Seiko? Well yes! In this case, this Seiko was a gift from a member's wife. She knew he liked watches and took pains to save up to buy him this Seiko Monster. Good choice I say!
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And what about the Sinn? Well this was the watch a member bought for himself for himself this year as a birthday gift. The solid nature of the watch caught his attention.
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Yet another Seiko. This is the first brand of watch this member worn from school days and was handed down from his brother. So it seems Seiko is a fav amongst the early adopters. They do make affordable pieces.
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Ah… finally a Vacheron. In this case, this was the last watch this owner bought.
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And now for a poignant story - this member bought the watch on a Saturday and on the very next Monday, found out he was going to be a first time father! This watch is a keeper and definitely a fertile find!
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The latest in the line is this Swatch System 51. This member bought it in Switzerland while attending the recently concluded SIHH 2014. And he found the only blue version at the airport prior to coming back.
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What about the Cartier Pasha and the IWC Pilot Chrono? Both have been around the world, swam in the Maldives seas, fallen into snow in Hokkaido, climbed mountains in Switzerland and New Zealand, seen the pyramids, Taj Mahal, Grand Canyon, Niagra Falls, been above 38 000 feet and below the greatest oceans, done free falling, hang gliding, bunjee jumps, 6G on Roller coasters, and more. Talk about significant events!
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And what about this Tag? This member bought it when I joined SQ as it was very "pilot-y" with the slide-rule bezel.
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And the same member bought this Hautlence when he left SQ. Significant enough?
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This comes with a somewhat sad story behind the purchase. This owner actually went back to his home town to attend his beloved mother's funeral and was walking through the city when he spotted this watch in one of the main jeweler's store that had suffered a fire in the store. The store a was selling their stock with a small discount in case there was any fire damage so he picked up the black dial version.
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The hand wound slate grey white gold Portuguese was a case of waiting for the right time. If you are patient enough, you will find the piece eventually at the price you are willing to pay for. This owner felt a brand new piece was not something he was willing to spend on so he waited till he found a piece in the US. Bought it and immediately had another problem - how to tell the wife? So he kept the watch in the office for a good half a year before bringing it home. Things we guys do to keep it away from the wives!
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Talk about retail therapy. The owner of this JLC Reverso Grande Date has always admired the watch since starting watch collecting. Walking past retailers several times, he hinted to his wife his attraction to this watch. But one weekend while he was studying for this Masters, he decided to go out to help calm his anxieties of the exam stress. Walking past a retailer, he saw the Grande Date again and this time, he told his wife he needed some incentive to work towards his exams and his wife promptly agreed! But not before she bought herself a Rolex - on his account of course!
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This Omega was the last vintage Omega the owner bought before switching to another brand.
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And what did he switch to? Jaeger LeCoultre. This vintage LeCoultre was bought from a renowned JLC collector and although it was supposed to be shipped to Singapore, the owner had a last minute engagement that would take him to Washington DC where the seller was. So he collected the watch in person and got to meet the JLC Vintage guru collector in person. Talk about lucky!
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And what about this watch? This watch is made by Reed Tan who discovered the dial work by accident. He calls this the pyramid dial and I own the first piece he made. He tells me he has made 5 pieces in total and I have numbers 1 and 2.
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So another very eventful gathering. There are more to tell but some owners prefer not to show and tell. But then again, maybe I can coax them to tell in a later post.