Hands-on with the Zenith Captain Winsor Annual Calendar Boutique Edition (with live pics and price)

The Zenith Captain Winsor Annual Calendar is one of the best value propositions today. It features an annual calendar module, using the simplified mechanism Ludwig Oechslin designed for the MIH watch, on top of the El Primero calibre. All of that in a watch that retails for about US$8000 in steel.

Previously the Winsor Annual Calendar was available only with the guilloche dial and baton markers that are typical of the Zenith Captain line. A few weeks ago Zenith announced the new boutique edition of the Winsor, which has a new dial with railway track minute index and applied Arabic numbers.

I like the boutique edition in rose gold in particular. The dial is glossy white lacquer which goes well with the rose gold numbers and blue steel hands. It is slightly reminiscent of the IWC Portuguese.

Each of the sub-dials and windows for the calendar are ringed in rose gold, giving this a more refined appearance than the regular edition. The “Annual Calendar” text beneath the Zenith logo doesn’t sit well with me though.

The boutique edition is also available in steel with a grey fumé dial. This mildly charred look was first used by H. Moser and I do not like it at all, though it does offer something unusual at a very reasonable price.

Compared with the first prototypes of the Captain Winsor from several years ago this boutique edition has improved considerably in terms of dial case and finishing, which were a major weakness before. The only shortcoming was the consistency of the printed text on the dial, but these were prototypes and I expect the production pieces to be superior. The boutique edition is priced the same as the regular Captain Winsor, but it will only be available at Zenith boutiques. In rose gold it retails for CHF20,200 (or SGD28,300) and in steel it is CHF9400 (or SGD13,800). – SJX

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News: Richemont results and new Bulgari CEO

LVMH recently announced that TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Christophe Babin will take the reins of its largest watch and jewellery brand, Bulgari, before June 30. He replaces Michael Burke, who moves on to lead Louis Vuitton, after its CEO quit a month into the job for health reasons. 

No successor has yet been named for Babin, who joined TAG Heuer in 2000 and moved the brand upmarket as well as vastly increased its vertical integration. LVMH, which also owns Hublot, bought Bulgari for a hefty EUR3.7 billion two years ago and Babin’s likely goal is to raise the brand’s profile to compete with Cartier.

Meanwhile over the Richemont, which owns Cartier, results for the third quarter ended 31 December 2012 were notable for several reasons. Overall revenue inched up by 5% at constant exchange rates. Growth in Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan, was flat. On the other hand, the Americas grew at 13% and Europe at 9%. This confirms what many industry executives have been saying for some time, that Europe and the USA are picking up, while Asia is slowing rapidly, in part due to political shifts in China.

As expect, retail sales (through own boutiques) outpaced wholesale (via distributers and retailers) at 9% against 2%.

Lastly, the group’s watch brands grew at 9% while Montblanc revenue was flat.


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News: Vacheron Constantin 1972 Prestige

Vacheron Constantin recently announced the return of its asymmetrical 1972 Prestige to coincide with the opening of its boutique at 2 Rue de la Paix in Paris. Essentially a remake of the Prestige de la France, created to mark the occasion of VC receiving the eponymous award from the Comité de France in 1972.

Vacheron Constantin 1972 Prestige

The new 1972 is naturally larger than the original; its white gold case measures 25 mm by 47 mm. And the dial is a pale grey with a herringbone pattern, paired with rose gold hands.  I had the chance to see this in person at SIHH last year and it is a gorgeous timepiece, a formal dress watch with a twist. The herringbone motif on the dial is an especially beautiful detail. Inside is a movement that predates even the original 1972 – the ultra-thin cal. 1003 was unveiled in 1955 and based on a Jaeger-LeCoultre ebauche. VC has upgraded the movement and it now sports solid gold bridges and the Geneva Seal.

Additionally, a second, 40 piece limited edition of the 1972 will be available only at Vacheron Constantin boutiques. This has the same case, but the silver dial is paired with silver hands for a monochromatic look. – SJX

Vacheron Constantin 1972 Prestige Boutique Special

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