Hands-On with the Atelier de Chronométrie AdC #2 and #3

The Spanish watchmaker broadens its offerings of vintage-inspired chronometers powered by historical Omega calibres.
Atelier de Chronométrie ADC3-2

A two man operation comprised of vintage watch dealer Santiago Martinez Rajasa and watchmaker Moebius Rassmann, Atelier de Chronométrie makes only two or three watches a year. Having made its debut last year with the AdC #1 wristwatch, the Barcelona-based brand has elaborated on its original premise of rebuilding and enhancing the 1960s Omega calibre 30 movement, now offering variations with an indirect centre seconds or redesigned movement bridges.

While the first Atelier de Chronométrie timepiece was time-only with a subsidiary seconds at six because of the Omega calibre 266 inside, the Atelier de Chronométrie AdC #2 is equipped with a movement based on the Omega calibre 283, essentially the same calibre with an indirect seconds. Best known for being used in the “Broad Arrow” ref. 2777 made for the Royal Air Force in the 1950s, the original calibre 283 was a robust, no-nonsense movement built to keep good time, with the centre seconds for easy time measurement.

Atelier de Chronométrie ADC2-1

Atelier de Chronométrie’s version of the movement is dressed to the nines, retaining the basic architecture of the vintage movement but with most of its substantive parts made fresh from scratch. A total of 35 components are produced by Atelier de Chronométrie, including all the bridges, which are now German silver instead of brass. That includes the bridge for the seconds train, which is long, elegantly shaped and carrying two jewels, replacing the short, functional original that only had a single ruby.

Other components produced by Atelier de Chronométrie include the free-sprung balance wheel with four weights for regulation as well as the winding click.

Atelier de Chronométrie ADC2-4

Atelier de Chronométrie ADC2-6

And all parts that are original to the 50-year old calibre 283 have been finished by hand to an appreciably high standard, with black polishing on the barrel and ratchet wheels, and blued steel screws.

Atelier de Chronométrie ADC2-5

Atelier de Chronométrie ADC2-7

In keeping with its house style, the case and dial channels mid 20th century watchmaking in both design and substance. The dial is a glossy black lacquer with raised, granular print in gold, just as on vintage watches with “gilt” dials. The applied numerals and hands are made of pink gold to match the case; the hands are cut and rounded by hand, giving them a substantial but elegant form.

Atelier de Chronométrie ADC2-2

Atelier de Chronométrie ADC2-3

The pink gold case is steel, with soldered lugs and a flat crown, giving it a look and feel typical of the watches that it emulates. Atelier de Chronométrie offers a significant degree of customisation, so the case, dial and even movement can be tweaked to suit the client’s tastes. The AdC #2 is priced at €41,000 in the guise shown above, which is a hefty sum for a time-only wristwatch but a consequence of the tremendous amount of work.


The Atelier de Chronométrie AdC #3 goes even farther back in time, with a style reminiscent of 1930s wristwatches. The dial is three-tone with a striking Art Deco style. Each portion of the dial has a different surface finish, with circular brushing on the tracks for the hour that contrast with the frosted finish on the central portion and narrow bands in-between.

Atelier de Chronométrie ADC3-1

Atelier de Chronométrie ADC3-3

The leaf-shaped hands are also hand-made, with a shape and thickness that cannot be produced by a stamping machine.

Atelier de Chronométrie ADC3-4

Mechanically this is identical to the AdC #1, with the movement inside being built on the Omega calibre 266, but with differently shaped bridges. The escape and seconds wheel now have their own cocks, giving the movement a more appealing and airy appearance, while also providing more components to show off the hand-finishing.

Atelier de Chronométrie ADC3-5

Atelier de Chronométrie ADC3-6

Atelier de Chronométrie ADC3-8

Atelier de Chronométrie ADC3-7

Though the AdC #2 is the same smallish 37.5mm in diameter as the first model, it feels larger thanks to its longer lugs.

The AdC #2 costs €39,000 as pictured in 18k pink gold.


 

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Jaeger-LeCoultre Introduces Natural Stone Dials for Atelier Reverso

An option for the men's Reverso Classic Large Duo Small Second.
Jaeger-LeCoultre-Atelier-Reverso-stone-dials

Rolled out just last year, Atelier Reverso allows would-be buyers to mix and match from dozens from dial and strap options to create a custom Reverso. According to Jaeger-LeCoultre, some 5277 combinations are possible.

While most of the options are for ladies’ Reverso watches, including some styled by shoe designer Christian Louboutin, the latest dial offerings are for men. Designed for the Reverso Classic Large Duo Small Second, the new dials include two in natural stone – green marble and tiger’s eye.

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Atelier-Reverso-Military-Marble

Meant for the flip of the watch – the front dial remains the classic silvered Art Deco face – the new dials are a colourful departure from the current crop. The green marble has a vague military camouflage look, while the tiger’s eye has been cut so the grain is parallel with the bands on the case. And the third dial is a bright electric blue that’s a galvanic coating.

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Atelier-Reverso-tigers-eye

Atelier Reverso is available at Jaeger-LeCoultre boutiques, or via an iPhone app.


 

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LVMH Watch & Jewellery Division Outperforms in First Quarter of 2017

Sales rose 11% at the owner of brands like TAG Heuer and Hublot.
LVMH logo

Consensus amongst many industry insiders at Baselworld 2017 was that the stable of watch and jewellery names owned by LVMH – Bulgari, Hublot, TAG Heuer and Zenith – are doing well relative to their peers. That appears to have been borne out by the luxury group’s first quarter results for 2017, with Bulgari and TAG Heuer singled out for “market share gains”.

Quarterly revenue at the luxury powerhouse that owns Louis Vuitton (its Parisian art museum designed by Frank Gehry is pictured above) rose 13% at constant exchange rates, while its watch and jewellery division saw an 11% rise in sales. In more ordinary times that might seem a meagre figure, but times are tough for the luxury watch business.

In comparison, LVMH rival Richemont’s most recent quarter (until December 2016) was less impressive, perhaps explaining the management overhaul earlier this year. The Swiss group that owns watchmakers like IWC and Panerai saw group sales rise only 6%, helped by its jewellery business, with the watchmaking division seeing a dip of 2%.

That being said, the sales growth at LVMH comes off from a low base. Last year the group recorded revenue growth of just 6%, with the figure for the watch and jewellery division being 5%. It prudently notes in the announcement: “The trend currently observed cannot reasonably be extrapolated for the full year.”


 

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Hands-On with the IWC Da Vinci Laureus Chronograph

The simplest chronograph in the new Da Vinci collection also happens to be a limited edition.
IWC Da Vinci Laureus Chronograph 1

The redesigned IWC Da Vinci collection introduced earlier this year leaned towards big ticket complications and entry-level models, but not much in-between, except for the Da Vinci Chronograph “Laureus Sport for Good Foundation”. Steel and equipped with a proprietary movement, the Da Vinci Laureus Chronograph is the sort of reasonably accessible (with a bit of saving) wristwatch that IWC does well.

The Da Vinci Laureus the latest in an annual series of limited editions conceived to raise funds for the eponymous charity that brings sport to disadvantaged youth. This is the 11th in the series and more expensive than the average Laureus edition because of the proprietary calibre 89361 inside.

IWC Da Vinci Laureus wrist shot

At 42mm in diameter and 14.5mm high, the Da Vinci Laureus is a largish watch, on the verge of being too big but not quite. It’s helped by the articulated lugs, which allow it to feel smaller on the wrist, though there is no escaping the height of the case.

One reason for the height is the domed sapphire crystal, a touch that’s meant to invoke vintage watches. The onion-shaped crown is probably meant to do the same, and it suits the overall design. Both chronograph pushers also have onion-shaped rings at their base, presumably to match the shape of the crown. But the buttons are not screw-down pushers, making the rings perhaps unnecessary aesthetic additions.

IWC Da Vinci Laureus Chronograph 3

The case is entirely polished, front, back and even the lugs, which is less interesting than having alternating brushed and mirror finished surfaces. The rationale for this finish is likely the design inspiration for today’s Da Vinci: its namesake of 1985 that was similarly shaped and also entirely polished (save for uncommon examples in steel that were entirely brushed).


While every year’s Laureus edition is different, all share the same dark blue dial. Varying from a dark to medium blue depending on the light, the dial has a metallic finish that’s easy to like.

IWC Da Vinci Laureus Chronograph 7

Finished with a radial brushing, it has applied numerals, white printing and red accents. Up close, several details stand out. The chapter ring carrying the minute track has a circular grained finish, serving to frame the central portion of the dial. Both chronograph registers have a stamped concentric pattern (or azurage), which is standard for chronograph watches but give the dial texture. And both chronograph sub-dials are also ringed by a metallic border, an element that echoes the hands and numerals.

IWC Da Vinci Laureus Chronograph 4

IWC Da Vinci Laureus Chronograph 9

Positioned at the quarters of the dial, the red accents don’t appear to serve any functional purpose, which can be annoying for a nitpicker, but they make for a pleasing colour palette.

IWC Da Vinci Laureus Chronograph 5

Notably, the numerals on the dial are all of a serif font specific to the Da Vinci, right down to the date disc. It evolved from the custom font created specially for the previous generation Da Vinci, which had significant attention put into its conception but nonetheless ended up a chunky, tonneau-shaped watch that did not sell well. Fortunately the new Da Vinci sticks to a tried and tested shape, while preserving the unusual font that’s a mix of classical and contemporary.

IWC Da Vinci Laureus Chronograph 6

IWC Da Vinci Laureus Chronograph 8

Being white, the date disc is jarring against the blue dial with a somewhat odd position – a consequence of the movement size relative to the case – but at least preserves the symmetry of the dial.


In the tradition of the Laureus watches, the solid back is decorated with an etched reproduction of a child’s drawing. Every year the Laureus foundation – which has both IWC and Mercedes-Benz as sponsors – runs a contest to select a drawing for the following year’s limited edition wristwatch. Last year’s content was won by Hou Ye, a 12-year old from Shanghai who’s a Paralympian at the Special Olympics East Asia. Ye’s winning entry is a self portrait showing him on skis.

IWC Da Vinci Laureus Chronograph 2

Underneath the back is the calibre 89361, part of the 89000-calibre family of movements. Positioned as IWC’s upper-end chronograph movement, the calibre 89361 has a solid list of features.

That includes all the bells and whistles expected in a mid- to high-end chronograph movement, namely a vertical clutch, column wheel, and also a useful 68-hour power reserve. Additionally, it has a flyback function, as well as the hour and minute counters being co-axial on the register at 12 o’clock, explaining the relatively clean dial. Also worth mentioning are the free-sprung balance as well as IWC’s own Pellaton winding mechanism.

The movement is the primary reason this costs what it does. In contrast, IWC’s entry-level chronograph movement, which is based on the economical Valjoux 7750, is found in the new Ingenieur and that costs a third less than the Da Vinci.

That being said, it’s probable that IWC will introduce a Da Vinci chronograph in the regular collection in the near future (think steel case paired with a silver or grey dial), which will cost less than the Laureus limited edition.

Price and availability 

The Da Vinci Chronograph “Laureus Sport for Good Foundation” (ref. IW393402) carries a price tag of US$12,700 or S$19,100. It is already available at IWC boutiques and will reach authorised retailers soon.


Update April 12, 2017: Additional photos included.

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