Saturday, January 24, 2015

Vianney Halter - Steampunk Watches

The Vianney Halter range of timepieces evoke very special feelings especially the Antiqua Perpetual Calendar and the simple Classic.

Just like Ulysse Nardin did with the Freak, Vianney created the Antiqua to rousing reviews. Here seen together with the Classic posing amongst my steampunk cufflink collection.
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Read more about the Antiqua Perpetual Calendar in my earlier post.
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Another look at the yellow gold Antiqua...
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And the Classic in rose gold.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

IWC Big Pilot - What's Transitional?

The IWC Big Pilot was one of the first few BIG timepieces to come onto the market. The original reference 5002 is well known to have the old movement beating at 18,000 beats per minute. Then IWC released the newer 5004 with a whole new dial but similar movement beating at 3 hertz instead. But there was a period in between the old and new - the transitional period.

The original 5002 BP housed the calibre 5000 which beats at the slower 18,000 beats per minute while the updated 5004 has the movement beating at 21,600 beats per minute. The difference between the 5002 and 5004 are obvious - the dial being the telling tale. The 5002 has a more classical (true to origins) look while the 5004 has a more modern touch.

Then there is the in-between - what many have come to call the Transitional. Old dial with new movement. How about the “best” of both worlds? For those who like the more classical look of the old dial but the newer beat, one has to hunt for the BP Transitional.
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How does one tell the difference between the “normal” 5002 and the 5002 Transitional? Well, from the exterior there is only one tell tale sign - the crown. Of course you could put it on a machine to get the rate of the movement. But it is rather difficult to do that while on the outside.
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The first generation BP has a crown with the fish logo on it. The BP Transitional has the Probus Scafusia crown while retaining the old dial.
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I find the dial of the 5002 more endearing than the 5004 so if I were to choose, then 5002 it will be for me.
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The dial of the 5002 gets the roots from the original pilot watches that IWC is famed for. And that is what I actually like it for. The dial is rather clean and well made. The BP comes with the calibre 5000 with 7 days power reserve and the Pellaton winding mechanism.
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The only “anomaly” is the date window at 6 o’clock. I believe the original Pilots’ watch does not come with the date.
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And of course they did not come with 7 days power reserve too.
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The case back is solid proudly announcing the Big Pilot heritage.
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Timepieces comes with a brown leather strap and folding clasp.
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But at 46mm, the watch is rather big for my puny wrist. So as much as I like the BP this is probably not the one for me.
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But I do have the Mark XV which incidentally was my first mechanical timepiece and is probably as close to a Pilot’s watch for me as it would get.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Another Year End Get-Together - Xi Yan Shaw

It is the year ending get-together again and this time around, we hosted it at Xi Yan Shaw - the casual dining restaurant of their private dining sister restaurant in Craig Road. And the theme? Grand Seiko or any Seiko as well as any purchase in 2014.

Xi Yan Shaw is a spin off of the successful Xi Yan Private dining featuring Hong Kong Celebrity Chef Jacky Yu. The restaurant at Shaw Centre is located on the 3rd level and spacious enough to host probably 50-60 pax.
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Unlike in the private dining restaurant, this is an open concept casual dining place.
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The theme was around Grand Seiko, Seiko and purchases for 2014 so I brought these - my Grand Seiko SBGM003 and my purchase for 2014 being the De Bethune DB9. What about the Parmigiani? Well another friend had recently acquired a similar piece and I promised to let him do a comparison.
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6.30pm was when the folks started strolling in and by 6.45pm, quite a group had already assembled.
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And by 7pm?
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Then the food started rolling in… First up the Salivating Chicken. As I have told many friends, prior to this dish, I never liked century egg - this dish changed it all. Depending on how hot you want it, they can increase the hotness of the dish. Take a bite at the chili padi if you like.
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Pork patty with salted fish and water chestnut. Pan fried just nice and the salted fish not over-powering. Sorry I had missed the photo of the radish pizza in XO sauce. Busy mingling.
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Deep fried shrimp paste fish fillet with pomelo salad - another winning dish for me. The fish fillet was well fried and still soft on the inside. But actually could not recall the shrimp paste taste. But that is actually a plus for me. To return and try it again another day. But the pomelo sauce complemented the fish well.
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This is perhaps the most sinful dish of the night - Sake Dong Po pork with mei cai (seasoned vegetables). The pork is braised till soft to the bite and the mei cai is not the salty type - rather it is slightly sweet. Perfect with a bowl of rice or porridge. So good was the pork I missed taking picture of the next dish - the Yunnan Ham Niang Dou Fu in special broth. This is another must-have dish when visiting Xi Yan Shaw.
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More dishes like the Kai Lan with Crispy Olive Leaves, Black truffles pasta with roast chicken - but by then, I was fully into the food. No pix to show for. Except for the last dish - the black truffles fried rice.
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And how good was the food? Well everyone was tucking in. You sneeze you lose. You come late… sorry!
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And very soon, it was time to display the timepieces for the evening. Seen here are Prof Harry Tan and Sean Wai - custodians of the timepieces on show.
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On the left table, Grand Seikos and Seikos on display. And on the right, 2014 purchases.
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The Grand Seikos and Seikos are an interesting lot - many anniversary pieces on display. Take a look at the top row. The GS SBMG003 and the various variants including two blue dial Limited Editions. Bottom right features two LE Tunas and one LE Monster, all anniversary pieces. And the bottom left, the LE Enamel dial Seiko Anniversary piece.
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And now to the purchases of 2014 - one De Bethune, 2 Parmigianis, one Speake Marin, two MoVas (Bronze Diver and the T2 Tourbillon), one AP Royal Oak ultra-thin, one Jurgensen and JLC, Swatch Sistem 51 and Rolex GMT II make up the rest. No prize for guessing who brought the IWC pocket watch along. And then there is the Sony smart watch 3.
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And very year end GTG, we have a special treat. Harry brought the fruit cake baked by Suzanne. Nicely made and delicious too.
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Another nice GTG to round off the year. Thanks guys for showing up early! CNY coming up next!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Vulcain Cricket Aviator GMT - The Dragon!

Vulcain Watches is famous for their Cricket alarm timepieces and in this case, they have outdone themselves with the Vulcain Cricket Aviator GMT Dragon.

The Vulcain Cricket Aviator GMT “The Dragon” is a specially created timepiece featuring not only the famous alarm movement but also featuring an enamel dial - cloisonné enamel no less. The cloisonné technique creates small partitioned receptacles in which the glass powder and metal oxides composing the enamel are placed. First the drawing of the dragon is done on the dial and the cloisonné wires are then laid and glued to the surface. The dial is then fired to fuse the wires to the dial forming a receptacle. The enamel powder is then processed and filled into the receptacles and fired at the right temperature. This process is repeated with all the different colour enamel paste until the dial is completed.
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The Dragon - well this mythical creature symbolises the Emperor in Chinese mythology. And Vulcain has created who versions of this timepiece - the white and the black Dragon. The Black Dragon is limited to 18 pieces while the White Dragon is limited to 30 pieces.
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Both timepieces comes encased with a 42mm rose gold case. The enamel dials are beautiful to say the least. Intricately and expertly crafted to bring out the life in the dragon.
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The close up of the Dragon head - see the wires and the particles in the enamel? Cool stuff.
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A closer look on the enamel dial.
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The timepiece is also a World Time on top of the cricket alarm function. The world time display is on a 24 hours scale adjusted by the crown at the 4 o’clock position.
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The timepieces comes with the Vulcain Cricket Calibre V-13 which beats at 18,000 VPH. The mechanical alarm rings for about 20 seconds when fully wound. Winding the alarm function is done by winding the main crown in the clockwise direction. The winding of the watch mainspring is done anti-clockwise.
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Time setting goes in one direction. When the crown is pulled out, one sets the time by turning the crown in an anti-clockwise direction.
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For those born in the Year of the Dragon under the Chinese Zodiac, this is a significant piece. I have to test the alarm function one of these days.