Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Feature of the Month - Lange Pocket Watch

It pays to know people and definitely pays to have luck on your side too. Such is the case on how I came across this gem of a pocket watch.

I was in Hong Kong and chanced upon an old shop selling vintage timepieces and when I visited the shop and saw a Lange enamel dial sitting in the showcase. I asked the proprietor who told me he was restoring the pocket watch. I took his card and that was that. Some time later, I was still thinking of the pocket watch and wrote to him and he sent me the pictures of the finished item. What a beauty!

I sent the images to Manfred Weber of Lange and he told me it looked authentic - good enough for me! So I called my friend George in HKG who promptly picked it up for me and passed it to Stefan who brought it back to Singapore for me. Friends indeed!
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What a find! A beautiful double hunter case pocket watch dating back to 1908!
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The condition was pristine when I received it. A rose gold case that was restored.
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In this example, the enamel dial is flawless.
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And the hands are gorgeous!
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And as I have mentioned, it comes with a double hunter case. Polished to an excellent shine and the case shows the number and the matching movement too.
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The movement shows the movement number matching the case. As I understand it, this is not the highest grade movement of the times.
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And the close up of the balance wheel and the swan neck adjustment.
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Another look at the movement
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Another look at the pocket watch.
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I have been searching for a second piece with the same finishing or for that matter something close. No luck. I guess all owners of the Lange pocket watches are so happy with theirs that they prefer to keep them. And the search continues...

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Ulysse Nardin - New In-House Icons

Ulysse Nardin is moving ahead with several in-house calibres and many of their iconic timepieces have been reintroduced with new in-house movements.

One such icon is the UN Perpetual Manufacture which was covered in my other blog and this one - the Dual Time Manufacture seen here taken at the restaurant where the luncheon was being hosted.
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The first Dual Time GMT were called the "plus" and "minus" as the push buttons at the eight and ten o'clock positions were used to advance or reverse the hour hands. The original Dual Time GMT used a Soprod movement and was one of the few watches that you could adjust without taking it off.
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Notice the push buttons on the left side of the case? That feature still stays in the all new Dual Time Manufacture. Fitted inside is the automatic UN-334 in-house designed movement with a silicium escapement.
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The small window at the 9 o'clock displays the home time in a 24 hours display. The large date at 2 o'clock can be adjusted forward and backwards when the push buttons are depressed. This dual time is perhaps one of the easiest to operate - save the Reverso. The winning feature here is that the Dual Time GMT can be adjusted forward and backwards whereas the Reverso adjusts one way - forward.

And next up is the Imperial Blue - a Tourbillon Grande Sonnerie. What an amazing watch. A manual winding flying tourbillon with the in-house Calibre UN-970 and chimes Sonnerie Westminster Carillon.
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UN is renowned for their striking complications and the Imperial Blue is one of those much sought after watches.
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The timepiece is 46mm in diameter and limited to 20 pieces. Case is white gold. Housed in the case is the manual winding mechanism that has an ingenious winding system that winds the barrel system providing energy to the complication for chiming and powering the watch.

Pardon the poor quality of the photos - does not do justice to the excellent timepieces I handled. Thanks to UN and the Hour Glass for hosting the lunch at MBS.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Monster Saturday - Not One, Not Two But Four!

It was one of those days I just wanted to do something different - so I wore two Seiko Monsters out and when I came home, took out another two.

Fantastic Four for me... And maybe more to come?
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From left to right - a normal black and orange Monster, the LE Anniversary Monster, the LE Moon Monster and lastly the LE Snow Monster.
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Notice the Thailand Limited Editions - Snow Monster and Moon Monster have cyclop magnifiers for the day and date while the other two do not.

Visit my other blogs for more on the Snow Monster, the Anniversary Monster and the Moon Monster.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Ulysse Nardin - The New Anchor Escapement

Ulysse Nardin is a name in innovation and creativity - The Freak proved it many years ago and now they have moved ahead and there is more to come. Today, we got to see the new Anchor Escapement amongst other new innovations.

Ulysse Nardin opened their largest boutique in Asia in Singapore in partnership with The Hour Glass at the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. As part of their official opening, we were invited to witness a few new works. Presenting the new innovation was UN CEO Patrik Hoffmann and Datin Chai Schnyder, President of the Board of Directors. First off, the most innovative new escapement developed in-house by UN - the Anchor Escapement.
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The new escapement is made from silicium and the pallet arms are suspended unlike in normal pallet arms. In the prototype above, the tourbillon is off centre.
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According to Patrik, this is a prototype featuring the escapement on a tourbillon and so the focus was not of the rest of the watch. Notice how simple the dial is? Raw dial that is simple and uncluttered. Takes your attention straight to the tourbillon with the anchor escapement.
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Pardon the poor pictures - taken in restaurant setting. The timepiece is so simple that I am so tempted to just take it home… if I only could! Patrik mentioned that the new escapement works with the tourbillon as well as with normal balance wheel. But it is likely the first iteration will come in the form of a flying tourbillon. For more information on the Anchor Escapement and a video presentation, please visit the UN Page.

The event also revealed that UN has developed 6 new in-house movements and within the next 3-4 years, more than 80% of their movements will be totally manufactured in-house. One of the in-house movement is featured in the Perpetual Manufacture.
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Unlike the older version, this new Manufactured movement comes in a 43mm case in both rose gold and platinum. Seen here is the platinum version. Both will be limited to 250 examples each.
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The movement is an automatic in-house UN-32 caliber that is chronometer certified. The feature of this perpetual calendar is the ability to adjust using the crown instead of the normal pushers. Windows make it more visible instead of some complicated sub-dials.
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The big date is placed at the one o'clock while the two digit year is located at the six. Another signature of the UN Perpetual is the ability to forward or move backwards the hour hand by depressing the "+" and "-" push pieces at 4 and 8 o'clock. And the GMT hand in red can be used to indicate home time or a second time zone. The dial comes in a fish-scale motif. Very wearable at 43mm.

More to come on the new UN timepieces but I like to leave you with another look at the prototype watch featuring the new anchor escapement.
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Patrik, please don't take apart the prototype. I like it just the way it is. Thanks to The Hour Glass for hosting the event.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What's Inside a Lucerne Digital?

So I managed to open the case back of the Lucerne - not too difficult actually and what I found was surprising.

Unlike in "traditional" watches, the movements are not secured to the case at all - drops out easily enough once the case back is popped open. A long stem with the movement loosely in the case.
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The empty case is just that - an empty case.
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The movement is signed Ferex SA which I believe was the movement supplier and just like Lucerne Watch Company probably does not exist anymore.
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The movement says One Jewel - simple manual winding movement. Swiss Made it says. As I had this serviced several years ago, the movement looks clean and in good condition.
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And on the dial side, the "complication" revealed. Two revolving discs - one for the hour on the outer ring and the minute in the inner ring. No seconds indication. Just as well - back in the 70s, the pace of life was probably not as fast. So who needs to count to the minute.
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And when you encase it case - just a snap on, this is what it looks like. And as luck would have it, I managed to find a rather unusual shaped Lucerne.
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Almost like a bullhead of sorts and the movement is the same.
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Case back mentions the same - Base Metal Case All Swiss. This one comes with an even longer stem to wind the watch.
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Same brush metal for the case and definitely retro. This example tells good time. For more Lucerne Digital watches, please check out my other post Lucerne Digital.

Friday, April 18, 2014

100 Years of Seiko - A Special Monster

After the Snow Monster, I started a lookout for the more unusual and significant Monsters and I came across the Seiko Monster 100th Anniversary.

This variant comes in 2 models - the "un-numbered" SRP455 and the numbered edition SRP461. Actually, I was only aware of the SRP455 until my friend Lionel pointed out the difference to me. And I had actually bought the SRP455 only to learn of the SRP461. I am not sure exactly why Seiko came with these 2 models but I suppose they wanted more collectors of Seiko to join in the 100th Anniversary, hence the "un-numbered" Limited Edition.

Anyway, both the SRP455 and SRP461 has the same look - one can only tell the difference only when you look at the case back where the SRP461 shows the numbers XXX/500.
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This is the case back showing the Limited Edition and the number 198/500.
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As I had said, I had originally bought the SRP455 and on one of my business trips to Hong Kong, saw the Anniversary piece in a show display and promptly walked in to check it out. And to my surprise, it was the SRP461. I didn't need convincing so I picked it up. And when I come back to Singapore, I noticed the difference lies in the numbers at the case back.
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The watch is all Monster - shiny bezel with a day/date indicator at 3 o'clock and the crown at 4. Another difference between the SRP455 and the SRP461 is the bracelet for the latter. The SRP455 comes with a rubber strap which I was not very happy with. The bracelet on the SRP461 is actually of pretty good quality.
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What I like about the newer Monsters are the crown. The grainy crown gives better grip for me.
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And as with many of the Monster series, the hands and markers are well finished and for a watch that is priced below SGD500, I say it is great value for money.
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The Anniversary Monster comes with the newer hacking calibre 4R36.
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Another look at the Anniversary watch which was released in 2013 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Seiko Watch Company together with a few other watches.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Seiko Snow Monster - My First Monster

I was not much of a Seiko Monster fan until I saw the Snow Monster. I'm a changed man… So the Snow Monster became my first foray into the world of Seiko Monsters.

Thailand is the country outside of Japan that has the most number of Limited Edition Monsters. And so it is no coincidence that the Snow Monster is a Thai LE.
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The color combination of the Snow Monster is very pleasing and I was told this version was sold out very quickly. I was only able to get my hands on one through a secondary dealer - and of course you have to pay a premium.
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The Monster series has its signature crown at the four o'clock position and the cyclop bubble at three. The finishing on the watch is also of high quality. The luminous markers are well polished and has a shiny gleam to it.
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Even the hands and the bezel are well done.
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The whole package just works for me. And now I am always on the lookout for special editions of the Monster series. This Snow Monster comes with the older non-hacking 7S36 calibre.
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See my other post on another Thai Limited Edition Monster - the Moon Monster. I shall also be featuring the Anniversary Monster in another post soon.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mechanical Digital - The Lucerne Digital Watch

Several years ago while participating on watch forums (formerly, now revo-online), I came across a rather interesting watch - the Digital.

Despite my attempts to look for a Lucerne watch company i.e. manufacture of sorts, I have been unable to find any. So I suppose these are generic movements encased in Switzerland and then branded as Swiss Made. I managed to get a few off eBay and had them serviced and restored several years ago. The movements were serviced but the case remained unpolished. Some work I need to do in due course.

So here are my four Lucerne Digitals… The watch is named Digital as the display is digital - with two revolving discs, one for the hour and one for the minutes. These retro looking watches were common in the late 60s and into the 70s. Very simple manual winding calibres with a digital display.
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And probably the one that I like the most - the blue edition. The watch ticks and the discs move but not jump. So unlike the more expensive Jumping hours, this watch is a revolving time. I had the strap changed to match the dial color. Shock resistant it says. I wonder...
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And now the brass or bronze colored edition with a brown strap. See how dirty the case is? Well, work to be done. Notice the font of the word "Lucerne"? Different from the blue edition.
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The steel black dial version.
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Another brass/bronze colored specimen but with a black strap.
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The case back is a simple cover and the watch is definitely not water resistant let alone water proof. Words engraved "Base Metal Swiss". So is the watch "Swiss Made" or just the casing "Swiss Made". More research is required to get to the bottom of this.
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I will likely take them apart and see if I can have someone clean the case and maybe even chrome plate it again. Restore it to its former glory. I will also open the case and photograph it and post it soon. Stay tuned for more.

I finally managed to take it apart. This is the movement of the Lucerne digital.