New Bulgari record – Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic

As followers of the watch industry are well aware by now, “Roman Jeweler of Time” Bulgari has made pushing the boundaries of mechanical-watch thinness its stock-in-trade, with each year bringing at least one new record-setting watch that combines horological complexity with waif-like profiles. This year is no exception: Bulgari launched its six years (or seventh, if you count the smallest women’s tourbillon watch, the Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon): the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Automatic Watch.

The new model’s claim to fame is that it debuts as the thinnest timepiece combining all the following features: a skeletonized, self-winding movement, a single push chronograph function, and a tourbillon. Its 42-mm standblasted titanium case, in the now-famous eight-sided Octo configuration, measures only 7.4 mm in total thickness. The crown and chronograph push-buttons are also in sandblasted titanium, as is the tapered bracelet. The openworked dial is dominated by matte gray details, particularly the two sub-dials at 3 and 9 o’clock.

Inside the water-thin case (water resistant to 30 meters) is an accordingly slender movement, Caliber BVL 388, which rises just 3.5 mm in height despite its array of functions. Visible from the back (through a clear sapphire window) as well as the front of … Continue reading...

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IWC Ingenieur History

In the early 1970s, freelance watch designer Gerald Genta was taking a walk on the shores of the Lake of Geneva when he noticed a diver, whose helmet was secured to his diving suit with screws. This tiny detail inspired him to adopt a modernist, distinctly technical approach to form that was to revolutionize watch design. Instead of concealing the screws or functional bores, he left them plain for all to see on the bezel. For IWC Schaffhausen Gerald Genta designed the legendary Ingenieur SL, reference 1832. Five rudimentary bores could be seen in the bezel. These engaged with a special tool during manufacture to bring the bezel into position for securing with screws.

The crown and case back were screwed tight to make the watch pressure-resistant to 12 bar. The Ingeniuer SL had its market launch in 1976. Its eye-catching design stood for masculine values: it was rugged and sporty with a distinctly technical appeal, and has influenced the appearance of the Ingenieur watch family to this day.

The Ingenieur watch family’s success story, incidentally, dates back to the 1950s. It was a time of economic boom. An increasing number of technical appliances were making their way into ordinary … Continue reading...

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LVMH Watch Week Dubai All Eyes on the Octo

The Italian “Jeweler of time” started the watchmaking year ahead of Baselworld with several strong new releases. Watch Time traveled do Dubai for a first look.

– LVMH’s inaugural Watch Week took place from January 13 to 15 at the Dubai Bulgari Hotel. While the brand will still release a majority of its 2020 novelties in Basel (April 30 to May 5), the watches shown on the Persian Gulf coast are already another strong commitment of the brand to horological innovation, with the Octo Finissimo Automatic in stainless steel being one of the year’s highlights (and undoubtedly also the most requested version of the record-breaker). Here are some of the novelties that were shown.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater in Sandblasted Rose Gold – The most elegant interpretation of the record-breaking watch from 2016 yet. The new Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater in rose gold (Ref.103279) is the latest edition of the record-breaking Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater in titanium that first debuted in 2016 and led the foundation for a new approach to mechanics and complications. The minute repeater, one of the most complex of all horological complications, now comes in sand-blasted rose gold with matching dial. The hour markers and … Continue reading...

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Original or reissue: which should you choose?

Today, you don’t need to be an auction-house “insider” to pick up a few period watchmaking gems. Countless second-hand websites propose original models. So, what should you go for: an original, rare, expensive, mythical yet fragile piece, often inaccurate and for which repairs are likely to become increasingly tricky? Or a reissue, virtually identical down to the finest detail, which you can wear on a daily basis and which will just cost you a fraction of the price of an original and offers proven reliability?

Occasionally, it isn’t that easy to make a choice. Take Zenith, for example. The manufacture has just reissued its El Primero 1969 model, the famous A384. Its components were all digitalized so they could be reproduced, from its 37-mm diameter faceted steel case to its white and black-lacquered tachymetric dial.

The only differences are the sapphire crystal which replaces the acrylic glass, the open caseback which replaces the steel one, as well as the dependable version of the El Primero 400 calibre. All the rest (functions, dimensions, frequency and even the number of rubies) remains the same. Aficionados of close replicas will, moreover, make the connection with Omega: two years ago, the brand released a … Continue reading...

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Tissot: Defeating The Enemies of Chronometry

Unfortunately, watchmaking has numerous enemies that affect the mechanical heart of certain timepieces, or even damage them irremediably. To combat these, Tissot has introduced a new material in its watch collection: silicon.

Shocks, corrosion, friction, damp, magnetic fields, wear and tear – the life of a watch is not always easy. Contrary to what one might think, they are not comfortably installed on a wrist away from all danger, but each day, come across many situations that are dangerous for the watch, the case, and the movement inside it.

Since the 1930s, Tissot has been working to find innovative solutions to produce timepieces that are reliable and accurate at a reasonable price.

Magnetic fields: enemy nº 1

Don’t bother to try looking for culprits: they are everywhere – and they are invisible! In fact, magnetic fields fill our everyday world, from the fridge that you open to grab a bottle of milk to the handbag with a magnetic clasp where you keep your purse, house keys and mobile phone. So many ordinary objects and actions that, despite everything, have an impact on the life of a watch. Why?

Because “strong magnetic fields can affect accuracy, especially in mechanical watches. They … Continue reading...

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Rolex: King Of The Sky

While the Air-King refers to the historical links between Rolex and aviation, this new model makes a modern statement with a 40-mm case, boldly styled dial, and Rolex’s own “Superlative Chronometer” certification.

Take the silhouette of the Milgauss, add a touch of the Explorer, a golden crown-shaped logo on the dial, a few dashes of Rolex green, and the model’s name printed in italics across its face and presto! That’s how the new Air-King appeared, in all its sleek and alluring glory, at its premiere in 2016. Its exterior shows none of the grand history and interesting anecdotes that accompany this watch and make it one of Rolex’s most popular models. Newcomers to the brand frequently choose this watch as their very first Rolex – not only because of its comparatively low price.

Rolex’s historical literature recalls the pioneering English airman Charles Douglas Barnard who took part in record-breaking flights and air races in the 1920s and ’30s, during the golden age of aviation. Because of the Oyster’s unusual qualities, Barnard hailed it as superbly suited for pilots – and he promised to wear it on all of his future long-haul flights.

Another piece of history involves the pilots in … Continue reading...

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Inside Rolex

The very private Swiss watch giant opens the doors of its new Geneva facility.

Rolex has always had a Garbo-like sense of privacy. With no very good reason to court the media, or even allow them through its doors, it chugs happily along, selling its roughly three-quarters of a million watches a year, which bring in some 2 billion Swiss francs (this is an estimate; the company, needless to say, does not reveal sales figures). As the world’s biggest luxury watch brand, with a sterling image that never fades, Rolex needs publicity like Garbo needed more fans.

So recently, when Rolex invited us to visit its facilities in Geneva, to actually go inside them and see real Rolex employees making real Rolex watches, we didn’t think twice.

Rolex’s Geneva facilities are in the final stages of a massive, eight-year-long construction and renovation project. Its aim is to bring together the many manufacturing operations, some 19 in all, that were once spread out in and around Geneva. In the late 1990s, when a wave of consolidation swept over the watch industry, Rolex began to buy up many of its suppliers in order to gain greater control of them, creating what the … Continue reading...

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Louis Moinet: Rewriting Chronograph History

Louis Moinet presents an artifact that may change how we look at the history of timekeeping.

The Swiss firm Les Ateliers Louis Moinet SA has unveiled a timekeeping device from the early 19th century that may be the first chronograph ever created. Known as a compteur de tierces – the term “chronograph” had not yet been invented – the device was built by French watchmaker Louis Moinet between 1815 and 1816.

Louis Moinet

It is not a watch: it does not tell time, but measures intervals of time. The counter’s balance beats at 216,000 vibrations per hour (30 Hz), allowing its center-mounted hand to accurately measure intervals to 1/60 of a second over a 24-hour period, an astonishing feat for its time. (The term tierce, literally “third,” was used at the time to refer to 1/60 of a second.)

In a press conference held in Geneva on March 21, Jean-Marie Schaller, CEO of Les Ateliers Louis Moinet, who resurrected the Louis Moinet name 15 years ago, appeared with a number of watch experts to introduce the world to the Louis Moinet chronograph.

Jean-Marie Schaller, CEO of Les Ateliers Louis Moinet

Les Ateliers LM purchased the counter at an auction … Continue reading...

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