MB&F and Urwerk founders launch new brand and watch inspired by Wankel engine

C3H5N3O9 is a fresh brand with an interesting background, timepiece and distribution plan. It was created by Maximilian Büsser and Serge Kriknoff of MB&F (Mr Kriknoff is CEO of MB&F) along with Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner of Urwerk. Think of it as combining MB&F’s marketing and communication prowess with Urwerk’s accomplished nerdy DNA.

The brand’s name is the chemical formula for nitroglycerine, which the brand explains as “Many of the most reactive (and most exciting) chemical reactions derive from combining seemingly innocuous ingredients.” In addition, the brand says “C3H5N3O9 is an experimental platform, not a luxury brand.” Those are the ambitions of C3H5N3O9; “concept” and “experimental” brands command a premium. And the reactive and exciting result of that partnership is the ZR012, or C3H5N3O9 ZR012 to give the watch it’s full name. Inspired by a Wankel engine, it is an intriguing and attractive looking watch. The concept was created by Martin and Felix at Urwerk, then developed by Urwerk constructor Cyrano Devanthey.


Based on a Wankel engine, the time display comprises twin discs shaped similar to a Releaux triangle, one each for hours and minutes. And they turn in a similar fashion to the rotor in a Wankel engine.

Wankel engine animation from Wikipedia

Then Max Busser and Serge Kriknoff, together with frequent MB&F designer Eric Giroud, created the case. There are definitely shades of the MB&F HM4 Thunderbolt in the lugs.


The case, which is zirconium, measures 55 mm by 44 mm without lugs. This is limited to 12 pieces in zirconium, with another 12 pieces in red gold next year.

What is especially interesting is the fact that C3H5N3O9 will bypass traditional retail channels, instead it will be sold online via the C3H5N3O9 website. The price is CHF110,000, with a deposit of CHF33,000 required. There are several reasons I can imagine for this, including ensuring the price is kept to retail (discounting is bad for brand equity).  Big brands are all cutting their distribution network, and it takes a brave independent to do so. But given the small scale of production, relatively accessible price, and the brand names behind C3H5N3O9, I reckon it will sell. As for the brand name, I expect no one will remember it exactly but everyone will know the brand with the long chemical formula name. – SJX

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Rafael Nadal’s stolen Richard Mille RM027 recovered from railway tracks

Richard Mille RM027 tourbillon

Barely a day after it was stolen, Rafael Nadal’s $500,000, ultra-light Richard Mille RM027 tourbillon has been recovered, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Nadal was in Paris for the French Open, which he won, and he lost the watch, on loan from Richard Mille, after the championship match.

It turns out the culprit was a hotel barman who was arrested after police tracked his keycard access into Nadal’s room.  The thief then led police to the stolen RM027 which he had hidden along a railway track.


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Lange Pour le Merite Tourbillon in yellow gold sells for $188,500

Antiquorum in New York just sold a Lange Tourbillon Pour le Mérite in yellow gold for US$188,500 inclusive of buyer’s premium. That is a extremely strong result for the PLM, especially in yellow gold, which is the most common of the series. And this coming several months after record prices for a unique platinum PLM with salmon dial and the unique 36 mm PLM in platinum.

Lange Pour le Merite tourbillon in yellow gold Photo courtesy Antiquorum

Lange prices were pretty soft on the secondary market after the aftermath of the recession in 2009 to 2010, but began to firm up last year. I reckon they will continue to climb gradually, especially for the important models like certain limited editions, Datograph and Lange 1. 


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On-the-wrist review: the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo ref. 15202 (with live pics and pricing)

This year, the 40th anniversary of the Royal Oak and a year after Gerald Genta’s passing, sees the redesign of the Royal Oak Extra Thin Selfwinding (ref. 15202), more commonly known as the “Jumbo”, reverting back to almost its original form as penned by Gerald Genta in 1972. Iconic and legendary are overused terms, I am guilty of using them loosely too, but they are undeniably true for the Royal Oak Jumbo.

I am very lucky to have one of the new ref. 15202 Jumbos for a week and I love it. The loan is for a review upcoming in The Peak magazine; last year I got the Millenary 4101.

The new Jumbo is virtually identical to the original. Several notable changes have been made, however, one being the dark blue date wheel that matches the dial colour instead of the original white.

Another is the see-through case back (though the case remains monocoque with the movement coming out the front).


But the most important change is the clasp. For the first time in its 40 year history the Jumbo has a double fold clasp, which means it sits much better on smaller wrists. I used to own a 1980s Royal Oak Jumbo – a beautiful timepiece – but the clasp would not centre on my wrist. The double fold clasp is an enormous and landmark achievement.

All the changes are improvements, and everything else remains the same classic Royal Oak – the beautifully finished 39 mm case, the petit tapisserie dial and of course the movement.

Inside sits the same ultra-thin cal. 2121 automatic movement, a wonderfully conceived movement that was a big deal when it was first unveiled. The finishing here seems better than on AP watches of the past, even compared to cal. 2121 of earlier years. For instance the anglage was mirror polished and rounded, while in the past I recall Royal Oak anglage looked stamped. Also new is the styling of the rotor, which now reflects the Royal Oak shape as well as the dial guilloche motif. The old style “AP” rotor is still attractive though it hadn’t changed in years and looked very eighties so this is not a bad thing.

This is a perfectly proportioned timepiece and proof that good things really stand the test of time. The Royal Oak ref. 15202 retails for 28,800 Singapore dollars or US$22,700.

A more detailed review, by myself and another collector, will be published in The Peak Selections: Timepieces in August. It will be sent to all The Peak subscribers and will also be available at newsstands and bookstores in Singapore.

– SJX  

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