Tuesday, May 24, 2016

First Jumping Hours & Minutes - Now Jumping Seconds!

The famous 5 minute clock developed by Ferdinand A Lange was resurrected in the Zeitwerk featuring a mechanical timepiece with a digital display. Instead of the normal hands that tells time, the Zeitwerk displays time with a jumping numeral display.

Fast forward to 2016 and the Manufacture has introduced a new complication - the Jumping Seconds. Also known as the dead beat seconds, the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds is driven by a one-second constant-force escapement. Unlike other mechanical timepieces where the second hands sweep the dial, a dead beat seconds complication improves the reading of the second hands by displaying as jumping hands just like a quartz timepiece. So a mechanical timepiece mimicking a quartz watch?

Well, this is one of the few complications not many brands can muster. The few I know and have seen are Habring, Arnold and Sons, Jaeger LeCoultre, Rolex (yes, I managed to see a vintage Tru Beat in a shop in HKG) and Gronefeld. There are a few other brands with a similar complication but executed differently and the price range vastly different too. Enter the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds...

The folks at Lange & Sohne choose a different display style - preferring to put the jumping second complication into centre focus. Two other smaller dials display the minute (right) and the hour (left), very much like a regulateur layout except that is it slightly different (again).

Right in the centre where the three circles meet is the power reserve indicator. When it indicates red, it means the power reserve is down to 10 hours.

The movement is as impressive as one would expect from Manufacture Lange & Sohne. Built from ground up, the L094.1 movement delivers the same amount of energy to the constant-force escapement in one-second intervals. The constant force escapement is also another complication not many brands possess and it is this mechanism that provides a constant and uniform power to drive the movement.

The movement accords 42 hours power reserve for this manual winding mechanism. The movement also has a patented Zero-Reset mechanism which means the seconds hand returns to 60 when the crown is pulled. Another feat for the house of Lange.

The timepiece measures almost 40mm and the dial layout is consistent with the other Richard Lange family timepieces - the Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar "Terraluna" and the Richard Lange Tourbillon “Pour le Mérite” where the two smaller dials display the minutes and hours. Except that in the Jumping Seconds, the minute and hour dials are displayed right and left respectively while the other two are displayed left (minute) and right (hour).

The Richard Lange Jumping Second was released together with the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar as well as the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon during SIHH 2016. Compared to both the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar and the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon, the Jumping Seconds looks "simple" but with the special features like the constant force escapement, Zero-Reset and dead beat seconds, it is anything but. Trust Lange to make a complication sound simple.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Will You Buy A FiftyFive Fathom?

Seiko is probably the largest watch company by volume. From the utility Seiko 5 range to the Grand Seiko and then to The Credor range, Seiko has a timepiece for every budget.

It is at the lower end that one sees many creative modifications of the Seiko range especially the Seiko 5 range. In comes the FiftyFive Fathom which is a "hommage" piece to the Blancpain Fifty Fathom diving watch.

I love this blue dial version of the FifthFive Fathom. There is also another black dial version but I like this more. The base is a Seiko 5 reference SNZH55, SNZH53 or SNZH57 depending on the variation you want. This blue bezel, blue dial version comes from the SNZH53 base where the bezel is already blue and the Seiko 5 dial is also blue (see stock photo below).

And the modified version...

What the modifiers do is remove the Seiko 5 dial and replaces it with a new FiftyFive Fathom dial which can be bought off the internet. The dial is not all that the mods change. Although the hands are similar from the original Seiko 5, the positioning of the date window is changed from the three o'clock position to between the four and five o'clock position. In the process, the day window is covered. This is to pay tribute to the original by Blancpain as the timepiece has their date position there and without a day indication.

The watch is 41mm and comes with a unidirectional rotating bezel. The steel case timepiece comes with Hardlex crystal.

Beating at the back is the hardy 7S36B automatic movement.

The water resistance is rated to 10 bars or 100 metres. Not a particularly well finished movement but considering the original SNZH53 can be bought for around US$120 and the workhorse that it is, I think it is a steal.

The nice part of the modified dial is the sunburst pattern on different lighting conditions.

If you go to eBay, there are many out there who do different versions of the FiftyFive Fathom. Some do more modifications than others - changing the hands to be a closer replica to the original, the bezel etc. And the prices range from US$250 to as high as US$600 depending on seller and how much modification they do. But all said and done, doubling the price of a base SNZH series for a few hours of work is not bad.

So, will you buy a FiftyFive Fathom? Well, I did and I may be looking at another black dial version.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The New Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph

Manufacture Vacheron Constantin continues to unveil new developments and 2016 is focused on the Overseas range of timepieces.

There are several intriguing timepieces in the range but I shall leave that for another post. Today, I feature another brand icon, the Overseas Chronograph. A quick look and the most obvious change is the date layout - the big date which was previously at the twelve is gone, replaced by a smaller date window between the four and five o'clock position.

Not promising for me - for a few reasons. One, I believe a date is not necessary in a chronograph. A chronograph is a time measuring machine. So why the need for a date? Secondly, replacing the big date for a small one? Hmm... not promising for me. But as I dived into the timepiece, more and more unique features brings out the new Overseas Chronograph. More positives than one negative...

What I like about today's sports chronograph is that they are versatile as both sport timepieces as well as a daily wear especially when it comes with a bracelet instead of a rubber or leather strap. This is where the new Overseas is exceptional! The new Overseas comes with a quick change feature and the integrated bracelet featuring the brand's Maltese cross pattern.

Not only is it quick change, but easy change too! Press the clip downwards away from the watch case and lift up the bracelet - its just that simple and ingenious! And to put it back, just click it back into place. So the timepiece has become more versatile - bracelet when you want and if you are ready to bring it in for a dip, replace it with a rubber strap and whenever you wish, change into a blue leather strap for a more casual look. One watch, three looks with a clever quick change mechanism - no tools required! A big plus!

And it does not end there - the bracelet also comes with a quick adjustor - what they call the Easy-Fit system. This is found in the bracelet model where one can pull bracelet up to 4mm without having to remove a link. A simply pull allows one to adjust the bracelet length.

What about the anti-magnetic properties? Well, the new Chronograph comes protected, thanks to a soft iron rings that protects the case. And as a true sports piece, the timepiece is also water resistant to 15 bars (150 metres). Previously, the words anti-magnetic were found on the counter at 6 o'clock. This time around, the dial is much cleaner. Even the minute and hours hands are more slender than the previous version.

The timepiece comes with a screwed-down crown and quarter-turn screw-lock pushpieces. This is something ingenious, the quarter turn screw-lock pushpieces for the chronograph movement. These features are to provide better water proofing for the timepiece.

The case size is only slightly bigger. The older model is 42mm and the 2016 version is 42.5mm to accommodate the movement. The case features appropriately polished portions (six sided bezel) as well as satin finished surfaces.

The new Overseas Chronograph houses a new column-wheel chronograph Caliber 5200 which was five years in the making. The new Overseas in-house Calibres are developed and crafted by Vacheron Constantin and all featuring an automatic movement. Notice the quick change clip underneath the case. Finishing on the movement is as one would expect from the house of Vacheron Constantin - great level of finishing.

The Calibre 5200 for the Overseas Chronograph is a column-wheel chronograph movement with a power reserve of around 52 hours. Bearing the Geneva Seal, the automatic rotor is a 22 carat gold rotor adorn with a wind rose referencing the traveling spirit of the Overseas collection.

There are a few improvements on the movement of the 2016 Chronograph versus the older Calibre 1137. For one, the power reserve has been improve from around 40 hours to approximately 52 hours. Secondly, the new Calibre 5200 operates at 4 Hertz as opposed to 3 Hertz in the older movement. And the best part of the new Overseas Chronograph is the open case back displaying the movement for all to admire. Take a closer look and the column-wheel is designed to the shape of the Maltese Cross which was first featured in the Harmony collection - nice touch there!

Overall, a nice package.

And don't forget the white dial version too...

Despite the date drama for me, the new Overseas Chronograph is definitely an improvement over the older version. And the quick change mechanism is a clear winning proposition for me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Grand Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar

Not all perpetual calendars are made equal - we know that. The special ones are not only a technical feat but also easy to read - enter the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar.

Perpetual calendars unlike the annual calendar counterparts knows the numbers of days in a month and correctly jumps to the right date at the switch over. For 11 months in a year, the days will either be 31 or 30 days. But for February, it will be 28 days for three years and during the leap year, will have 29 days. The perpetual calendar mechanism takes into consideration the leap year and ensures that for that one year, the date display jumps from 28 to 29 and from 29 to 01 as with the case of the Lange which has the big date function.

So much has been said about the perpetual calendar in a mechanical timepiece but all said and done, the perpetual calendar has to be, first and foremost, legible. A few timepieces have got it right - the Moser Perpetual One for one. And with the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar, the manufacture Lange has another winner.

The off-centre Lange 1 layout with a clearly intuitive dial layout. Lange 1 is perhaps the most well known off-centre dial timepiece that is so symmetrically proportionate. The day, date, month, and moon phase are very well laid out. Two other indicators are the leap year and the day/night indicator within the time dial.

The display of the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar is laid out in a rather "unconventional" way. Typical perpetual calendars will use the sub-dials to display the days, months etc. But with the Lange TPC, the unique layout allows the owner a clear view of the timepiece - uncluttered view. (Pardon the smudges on the sapphire glass - my bad).

The outer ring revolves anti-clockwise displaying the month of the year. At the 8 to 10 o'clock displays the day of the week and the Lange big date is unmistakable. The 7 displays the moon phase. Right at the 6 is the leap year display. The dial is clean and the indicators can be clearly read.

Turn around and you will see an automatic movement. A beautiful 21k gold and platinum rotor. And what a well hand engraved rotor.

Turn the rotor to the other side and it reveals the Tourbillon. As with the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon, the Tourbillon has a stop seconds mechanism.

Again, another hallmark is clearly visible - the hand engraved bridges of the cocks. And beneath it, the Tourbillon.

The people at Lange prefers to keep the dial of the Lange 1 TPC clean and therefore the Tourbillon is found at the back on the movement side.

The Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar is an exciting package. The case size measures 41.9mm and when fully wound, provides 50 hours of power reserve.

A Lange 1 is a Lange 1. Only that the people at Glashutte made it a more iconic - with a stop second Tourbillon and adding on a Perpetual Calendar complication. Well done again!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon - Stunning Beauty!

The Lange Datograph is an icon and the Datograph Perpetual made it more drool worthy. Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon? Well, that goes into the realm of dream worthy!

The folks at Lange know one thing - how to make an exciting and beautiful chronograph movement. Add on a perpetual calendar and the beautiful 3D movement is stunning but the latest iteration where they added a Tourbillon to the movement adds a different dimension to the whole piece.

The layout of the dial is proportionate and surprisingly legible. The perpetual calendar also features a moon phase that is accurate for more than 100 years. And the instantaneously recognisable large date that is a hallmark of the Datograph series is also evident. The case is a very wearable 41.5mm.

Most brands would want the Tourbillon as their centre piece but the folks at Lange prefer the discreet approach preferring to keep the Tourbillon to the back.

But the Datograph is always about the movement. ALWAYS!

The column wheel chronograph movement is more than 700 parts and comes with a diamond end stone.

The Datograph movement is already an impressive movement. With the Tourbillon at the back, my attention was drawn immediately to the Tourbillon. Impressive indeed! There is a lot to like about the movement - the blue screws and the rubies add a splash of colour to the three dimensional hand wound movement.

The power reserve is around 50 hours and this example is a prototype - 000/100. The platinum case beauty is made in a limited edition of 100 pieces. The diamond end stone is located above the Tourbillon. Lange made history when they unveiled the Cabaret Tourbillon - the first Tourbillon which could achieve a stop second. What this means is that when the crown is pulled, the Tourbillon cage will stop and allow the time setting to be more accurate. With the traditional Tourbillon, the stop second feature was not possible until the Cabaret Tourbillon was released. The same feature is available on the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon.

What makes the Datograph special is the jumping counters - instant jumps. And the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon is no different. All the indicators of the perpetual calendar and the date changes instantaneously which is a technical feat in itself. Because of the gear arrangements and the perpetual calendar modules, most perpetual calendars will have their indicators change between 10pm and 4am with the watch fully "correct" by 4am the next day. But not so with the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon which jumps instantaneously - not many movements are able to achieve this.

Technical feat aside, the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon is an incredible timepiece. I am sure this timepiece will feature in many collectors' "Dream Watch" list. It sure is on mine! If only I could afford one.

Thanks to Patrick at the Lange Boutique at Ion Orchard for arranging the pieces availability and also to Gaetan Guillosson for hosting the event. Watch out for more reports on some other awesome Lange timepieces.

P.S. - I have been looking at the timepiece over and over again and it is just so easy to overlook the chronograph function of this Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon. The perpetual calendar feature on the dial is so complete that one can be easily forgiven when they overlook the column wheel chronograph that the Dato is so famed for.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon - Another Dream Watch

First image of the Lange Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon. Stunning piece!

Another dream watch on many people's list, including mine.

More pictures and report on the timepiece coming up.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Golden Bridge by Corum - Gina's Favourite Timepiece

The Corum Golden Bridge designed and developed by Mr. Vincent Calabrese is an icon. Originally in a rectangular case, the timepiece has since seen some changes in their case - tonneau and lately round. The timepiece is simple and yet alluring.

The baguette movement is legendary and it is in my humble opinion, made for the ladies. Yes the Golden Bridge comes without diamonds but I think the diamonds in this case makes it a lot more appealing. I first featured this timepiece some time back in 2014 and then again the Miss Golden Bridge in 2015. But I just can't get enough so here are more pictures of the icon.

The Golden Bridge with two rows of diamond in a full size case.

The see-through case gives the timepiece a different dimension.

And the beauty of the baguette movement...

Full frontal shot.

And now the Miss Golden Bridge. A smaller albeit more dainty size specially for the ladies.

And now, for the back view.

And what about the side view showing off the linear movement?

Another look at the pretty piece.

How can a lady not like this?

Another look at the rear of the see through timepiece.

And if you want to read Gina's review in on owning the Miss Golden Bridge, you may go to the article on Deployant.

The only other baguette movement I have is the JLC 8 Days Baguette Clock. I will be doing an update on that side by side to determine the similarities and the differences of each timepiece.

Recently, Corum re-introduced the Corum Golden Bridge Round. Deployant did a review on the round case Golden Bridge. Somehow, the people at Corum has done such a good job with the rectangular and tonneau case that I cannot accept the round case version. But that is just me. What do you think? A baguette movement in a round case?