News: Jean-Claude Biver takes charge of LVMH watchmaking, to oversee Hublot, TAG Heuer and Zenith

LVMH has appointed Jean-Claude Biver to oversee its watch division, comprising Hublot, TAG Heuer and Zenith. This happens as the group’s watch and jewellery division is under-performing, in a general slowdown in the watch business.

Jean-Claude Biver

Jean-Claude Biver, the turnaround artist who successfully revived Blancpain, Omeg and Hublot, will soon take charge of all the three watch brands belonging to LVMH, namely Hublot, TAG Heuer and Zenith. This comes about at a time of slowing watch and jewellery sales at LVMH, with the division posting the slowest growth in the group. Francesco Trapani, formerly the CEO of Bulgari who joined LVMH when it acquired the jeweller, will give up operational duties at the group in March, though he remains on the board. Trapani’s role of head of Watches and Jewelry division will be split, with Antonio Belloni overseeing jewellery and watches coming under the aegis of Jean-Claude Biver.  Bernard Arnault, the Chairman of LVMH, commented, “I am also delighted that Jean- Claude Biver has agreed to lead our watchmaking activities. His experience and achievement within this sector speak for themselves, best illustrated by the remarkable success of Hublot. I am convinced that his entrepreneurial talent and creativity will add significant momentum to our other brands in the sector.” This is not the first time Biver has been tapped by a luxury conglomerate for his entrepreneurial talents. When the Swatch Group acquired Blancpain in 1992, Biver joined the its board, where he applied his skills to various brands, but most notably Omega, which he helped turn into the mass marketing powerhouse it is today. He stayed for nearly a dozen years, before joining Hublot, reviving its fortunes and then selling it to LVMH.

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SIHH 2014: Introducing the Panerai Radiomir 1940 Chronograph, In Precious Metals And Powered By A Minerva Calibre (with specs and pricing)

Panerai has just unveiled the Radiomir 1940 Chronograph, available only in gold or platinum. Heavily inspired by vintage chronographs, the Radiomir 1940 Chronograph powered by the OP XXV movement from Minerva.

Positioned as a top of the line model, the Radiomir 1940 Chronograph is a significant departure from the typical Panerai style. The watch is not based, or even inspired by, a specific Panerai model from the past, rather it combines various elements from Panerai and elsewhere. The cushion shaped case is distinctively Panerai, as are some of the dial elements, but the hands and tachymetre scale hark back to early twentieth century chronograph. Three versions of the Radiomir 1940 Chronograph are available, namely white or rose gold, or platinum, with slight dial variations between the trio. 

All three versions have 45 mm cases with a polished finish, fitted with Plexiglas crystals and a display back revealing the OP XXV calibre, which is actually the cal. 13-22 from Minerva. It is a traditionally constructed chronograph calibre, with a column wheel, horizontal coupling and a swan neck regulator.

The OP XXV calibre

The first of the three is the Radiomir 1940 Chronograph Platino PAM518, a limited edition of 50 pieces in platinum. This has an ivory dial with dot and baton indices, with gold hands for the time, and blued steel hands for the chronograph. The PAM518 retails for €59,900 (~US$81,200).

Next is the Radiomir 1940 Chronograph Oro Rosso PAM519 in red gold. Limited to 100 pieces, the PAM519 has a brown California dial with a combination of Arabic and Roman numerals. This retails for €44,900 (~US$60,800).

And the last is also a limited edition of 100 pieces, the Radiomir 1940 Chronograph Oro Bianco PAM520 in white gold. This is the only one of the three with a sandwich dial, with a Luminova coated plate sitting below the dial which has apertures cut out for the hour indices. This retails for €46,900 (~US$63,600).

The pricing for the Radiomir 1940 Chronograph is ambitious, especially considering the Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph also unveiled at SIHH 2014 has a similar, in fact slightly better finished movement, for €27,000, or about US$46,600). Delivery of the Radiomir 1940 Chronograph is expected sometime around late 2014. Keep an eye on our SIHH page for updates. Or follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to keep track of the happenings at SIHH 2014.

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SIHH 2014: Introducing five new entry-level Panerai Luminor 8 days watches equipped with the P.5000, including two in titanium (with specs and price)

Here are five new entry-level Panerai Luminor 44 mm timepieces, freshly unveiled at SIHH. Comprising both the Luminor Base and Luminor Marina models, in both steel and titanium, all five are powered by the in-house P.5000 movement.

Last year Panerai introduced the first two Luminor models, the PAM510 and PAM511, to contain the P.5000 movement, a hand-wound, eight day power reserve movement positioned as the entry-level in-house calibre. At SIHH 2014 Panerai has unveiled five more watches to join the P.5000 line-up, ranging from the simplest Luminor Base in steel to a Luminor Marina in titanium. All five new models have the same specs, a 44 mm case water resistant to 300 m, with the P.5000 inside. Each is fitted to a slightly distressed leather strap with a Pre-V style buckle.

Three Luminor Base models were unveiled, the PAM560 in steel with black dial, the PAM561 in steel with white dial, and the PAM562 in titanium with a brown dial. The steel Base models at €6100 (~US$8270), while the titanium Base is €6500 (~US$8810).

From left: PAM560, PAM561 and PAM562
Luminor Base 8 Days steel PAM560

Luminor Base 8 Days titanium PAM563

And two more Luminor Marina models with a sub-seconds at nine join the family, the PAM563 in steel with white dial, and the PAM564 in titanium with a brown dial. The steel PAM563 retails for €6400 (~US$8680), and the titanium PAM564 is €6800 (~US$9220).

PAM563 (left) and PAM564
Luminor Marina 8 days steel PAM563

Luminor Marina 8 days titanium PAM564

Delivery is expected sometime in mid-2014. Keep an eye on our SIHH page for updates. Or follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to keep track of the happenings at SIHH 2014.

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SIHH 2014: Introducing the Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph, an entry-level Minerva monopusher chronograph (with specs and pricing)

Montbanc’s new Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph is a limited edition, classically styled, monopusher chronograph with pulsometer, powered by a Minerva Villeret movement, all at a more affordable price point than before.

The Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage line is dedicated to its most famous pen, the Meisterstück 149. Though the new line is comprised of several models (more on them in the coming days), the most notable model in the new collection is the Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph, powered by a Minerva movement.

Designed in the style of mid-twentieth century chronographs, the Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph is a monopusher doctor’s watch. Finished with a silvered, sunray brushing, the dial has a pulsometer on its outer rim.

A pulsometer allows a doctor to take a patient’s pulse without having to measure it for a full minute. As it is calibrated for 30 pulses, a doctor merely has to start the chronograph as soon as he starts taking the pulse, and then stops it once the pulse hits 30. The seconds hand will then point to the number of heartbeats per minute.

Inside is the Montblanc Calibre MB M13.21, which is based on the Minerva cal. 13.20. Essentially a vintage chronograph movement repurposed for modern use, the cal. MB M13.21 still beats at the slow 18,000 bph characteristic of movements from that era. The bridges and base plate are rhodium plated German silver, and all components are hand finished. Minerva decorates its movements beautifully, as an earlier example of this movement illustrates.

Measuring 41 mm, the case is rose gold with a Montblanc star-shaped diamond set into the case band at six o’clock. The Pulsograph is a limited edition of 90 pieces to mark the 90th anniversary of the Meisterstück pen. The retail price is €27,000 (~US$46,600) with delivery in Autumn 2014. That is about a third less than an equivalent, similar model in the current collection.

Keep an eye on our SIHH page for updates. Or follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to keep track of the happenings at SIHH 2014.

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SIHH 2014: Introducing the Vacheron Constantin Malte Tourbillon Openworked, the return of Vacheron’s skeleton tourbillon (with specs and price)

Vacheron Constantin has just unveiled the Malte Tourbillon Openworked, a platinum, tonneau shaped wristwatch featuring the skeletonised tourbillon calibre 2790 SQ, reviving its specialty of skeletonised complications.

In the nineties until several years ago Vacheron Constantin excelled at creating skeletonised, complicated timepieces. Utilising the cal. 2790 SQ, which has been delicately skeletonised and then intricately engraved, the new Malte Tourbillon Openworked revives that tradition in grand style.

The new Malte Tourbillon Openworked is the second generation of the model, the first having been discontinued several years ago. Though similar in form, the new Malte Tourbillon Openworked is substantially different. For one, the case is larger and longer, with straight lugs instead of the flared lugs of the earlier version.

Though the movement is mechanically identical to the standard Malte Tourbillon, the skeleton version requires significantly more work, and is correspondingly more impressive and beautiful. The bridges and other major parts of the movement have been drilled and cut out, reducing it to the bare minimum necessary for structural integrity. And what remains is engraved by hand with a geometric motif based on the triangle. This motif is slightly more modern than the floral decoration used on earlier Vacheron Constantin skeleton watches.

Because the engraving is done by hand, for the bridges, base plate and barrel, the process of engraving alone takes almost a week.

Subsequently, assembly of the components calls for more care and skill than for a non-skeletonised calibre, because the process of engraving will distort the form of certain parts. This calls for careful adjustments necessary to bring the components in questions back into shape.

As with all high-end Vacheron Constantin timepieces, the Malte Tourbillon Openworked has the Geneva Seal. Beyond the engraving, every part is also carefully finished, demonstrating Geneva Seal requirements like bevelled edges, drawn flanks and polished countersinks.

The 2790 SQ is manually wound, with a short 45 hour power reserve. The platinum case measures 38.00 mm by 48.24 mm, and stands 12.73 mm high. The Malte Tourbillon Openworked retails for 367,000 Singapore dollars, or about US$287,000.

Keep an eye on our SIHH page for updates. Or follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to keep track of the happenings at SIHH 2014.

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SIHH 2014: Introducing the Rotonde de Cartier Day and Night (with live pics, explanation and price)

Cartier has revived one of its signature complications with the Rotonde de Cartier Day and Night. Now combined with a new retrograde moon phase display, the new Day and Night is equipped with the in-house 1904 MC movement.

The day and night display has a long history in Cartier’s history, beginning with the Comet clocks of the twenties. But more recently, the Day and Night with its decorated disc, was one of the most distinctive timepieces in the Collection Privée Cartier Paris (CPCP) line. With that as an inspiration, Cartier has unveiled the new Rotonde de Cartier Day and Night, with the addition of a retrograde moon phase as well as the automatic 1904 MC movement. One of Cartier’s notable complications in the late nineties was the Jour et Nuit, or Day and Night, which was made by none other than Svend Andersen, co-founder of the AHCI. That used sun and moon hands to indicate day and night.  Subsequently the design was revamped to utilise a decorated disc for the day and night display, and the model was introduced as part of the CPCP collection. This disc based display was inspired by vintage Cartier Comet clocks, which operated on a similar principle.

Cartier Day and Night Comet Clock, c. 1920, made of platinum, gold, agate and decorated with enamel and diamonds

The new Rotonde de Cartier Day and Night works exactly as the earlier models did. A large, central disc decorated with stylised representations of the Sun and Moon rotates once every 24 hours, indicates the hours on the top half of the dial. Because of the size of the day and night disc, it is supported by five ruby rollers underneath. And the minutes are indicated by a conventional Breguet style hand.

The Rotonde de Cartier Day and Night in pink gold; the time shown is 8:08 in the day
The palladium version, showing 10:41 in the morning

On the lower half of the dial, there is a retrograde moon phase, a new feature not found in the earlier models. Accurate to a day in 10.5 years, the moon phase is indicated by a crescent-tipped hand.

Executed in three levels, the dial is silvered and decorated with guilloche. The dial as well as the day and night disc are well detailed. Even the phases of the moon are individually decorated with circular guilloche.

Cartier’s secret signature

The 9912 MC movement is actually the 1904 MC automatic with the day and night module added on top. Unlike earlier iterations of the 1904 MC, this version is finished with straight graining on the bridges and prominent bevelling, which is now the standard finish for all watches in the Fine Watchmaking line.

The C-shaped regulator index

The case measures 43.5 mm wide and 12.7 mm high.Though the diameter is large, it works well for the aesthetic. However, the case thicker than it should be, which removes some of the elegance of the design.

In palladium the Rotonde de Cartier Day and Night retails for €30,500 (~US$41,300) and in rose gold it is a little less, at €28,500 (~US$38,600). Keep an eye on our SIHH page for updates. Or follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to keep track of the happenings at SIHH 2014.

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SIHH 2014: Introducing the Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna, featuring celestial display and constant force mechanism (with specs, explanation and price)

The Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna features an instantaneous perpetual calendar on the dial, while a celestial display showing the relative positions of the Earth, Moon and Sun, as well as a moon phase, are found on the back of the watch. All of that is powered by a movement with a 14 day power reserve, fitted with a constant force escapement.

At SIHH 2014, Lange has just unveiled its first timepiece with a celestial display, the Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna. It features a perpetual calendar and power reserve on the regulator-style dial, and on the movement an orbital moon display indicates not only the phase of the moon, but also its position relative to the Earth and Sun. Visually the Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna takes after the Richard Lange Tourbillon Pour le Mérite launched in 2011. Both have a regulator dial, with the hours and minutes separated into three sub-dials. This layout was inspired by an 1807 pocket watch made by Johann Heinrich Seyffert, a Dresden watchmaker.

The perpetual calendar functions of the Terraluna are laid out symmetrically in apertures around the dial. At 12 o’clock sits the large date display, with the leap year indicator at two o’clock. Further down are the day and month on each side of the dial, and at the bottom edge is the power reserve display, indicated in days.

All the calendar indications jump instantaneously at midnight thanks to spring loaded levers, and can be advanced simultaneously via a pusher at nine o’clock. Additional, recessed pushers in the case allow for individual adjustments of the month, day and moon.

The L.096.1 movement of the Terraluna has two large, stacked mainsprings (which are wound via the crown), giving it a power reserve of 14 days. It has similar technical features as the movement of the Lange 31, which a 31 day power reserve. In fact, the Terraluna uses the same constant force mechanism developed for the Lange 31, in the form of a 10 second remontoir, which releases a fixed amount of torque to the balance wheel every 10 seconds.

A close-up showing the remontoir underneath the bridge in the middle

Though the remontoir is visible to the right of the balance wheel, most of the movement is covered by the orbital moon display. It comprises three discs, two on top arranged concentrically and one below. On the top, at centre is the disc representing the Earth, showing the planet as seen from the North Pole, which revolves once every 24 hours. 

Around the Earth disc is the celestial disc studded with stars, along with a round aperture representing the moon. The celestial disc orbits the Earth once a month, actually 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 9.6 seconds to be exact. This gives the moon phase an error of one day in 1058 years.

Below that is the moon disc, which rotates to indicate the age of the moon in the aperture on the celestial disc. The balance wheel represents the Sun, so on the day of a full moon, the Earth sits in between the Moon and the Sun. The Earth disc also functions as a day and night indicator, with daytime in the hemisphere facing the balance wheel and vice versa.

Clockwise from top left: New moon, waxing moon, full moon and waning moon.

When crossing time zones, the Earth disc has to be unlinked from the time display so that the time can be set. Pressing the button at 10 o’clock while setting the time ensures the Earth disc stays in place when the new time zone is set.

With 787 components, including 80 jewels, the Terraluna is a complex watch, with a large, 37.3 mm diameter movement thanks to the two large mainsprings. The resulting watch is correspondingly large at 45.5 mm wide and 16.5 mm high.

The Terraluna is available in pink or white gold, priced at €185,000 (~US$250,000) and €186,000 (~US$252,000) respectively before taxes. Keep an eye on our SIHH page for updates. Or follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to keep track of the happenings at SIHH 2014.

The constant force mechanism
Comparison of the torque in a regular escapement with a constant force escapement
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SIHH 2014: Introducing the Lange 1815 Tourbillon, a simple tourbillon from Lange (with specs and price)

Lange has just unveiled the new 1815 Tourbillon, equipped with a hack seconds and zero-reset mechanism. This makes it Lange’s simplest tourbillon wristwatch so far, and its most affordable, relatively speaking.

The new Lange 1815 Tourbillon combines three features developed in the past, namely the tourbillon, stop-seconds and zero-reset, none of which have been found in a single watch before. Together in the new cal. L102.1 movement, they are intended to improve the accuracy of the watch, with the tourbillon improving timekeeping, while the stop-seconds and zero-reset enabling precise time setting. Visually, the new 1815 Tourbillon resembles a simplified Pour le Mérite Tourbillon, without the sub-seconds and power reserve. Lange was the first to create a tourbillon with a hack mechanism in 2008 with the chunky Cabaret Tourbillon. The challenge with a hack mechanism for a tourbillon was not so much stopping it, but getting the mass of the tourbillon regulator moving again. But Lange managed it with a clever mechanism. In essence, when the crown was pulled, the tourbillon would stop, thanks to a V-shaped lever which blocked both the balance wheel and tourbillon carriage. 

The lever for the hack mechanism in red, the arm for the zero-reset in blue, and the heart cam in yellow

The zero-reset mechanism goes back even further, having been introduced with the Sax-O-Mat in 1994, when the modern Lange unveiled its first four wristwatches. Though simple, functioning exactly like the reset mechanism of a chronograph, the zero-reset is eminently useful. Pulling the crown causes a lever to trigger a heart shaped cam affixed to the arbor of seconds hand, causing it to jump to 12 o’clock. Both of these are combined with the traditional Lange tourbillon with a diamond endstone, first used in the original Pour le Mérite Tourbillon, and inspired by nineteenth century Saxon pocket watch tourbillons. Though visually identical, the cage of the 1815 Tourbillon is slightly larger, at 13.2 mm in diameter, almost a millimetre wider than its predecessors. 

The L102.1 movement is manually wound, with a three day power reserve. The Lange 1815 Tourbillon has a diameter of 39.5 mm, and a height of 11.1 mm. 

The diamond endstone

The 1815 Tourbillon is part of the 1815 collection, which also includes the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar. With silvered dials and Arabic numerals, the aesthetic is meant to evoke the nineteenth century Lange pocket watches.

The 1815 Tourbillon is available in pink gold with a retail of €132,500 (~US$179,000), as well as 100-piece limited edition in platinum which retails for €162,500 (~US$220,000). Both versions are available only with a deployant buckle.

Keep an eye on our SIHH page for updates. Or follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to keep track of the happenings at SIHH 2014.

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SIHH 2014: Introducing the Tank Louis Cartier Sapphire Skeleton (with live pics and price)

Cartier’s recent history includes several notable skeleton movements, including its signature 9611 MC with Roman numerals. The Tank Louis Cartier Sapphire Skeleton takes the theme in a new direction, with an open-worked movement suspended in a clear sapphire main plate.

The Tank Louis Cartier Sapphire Skeleton combines the most classic of all Tank shapes with a patent-pending movement construction. Open-worked in such a manner that emphasises all the round forms of the movement, the 9616 MC calibre is nonetheless a conventional manual-wind movement. What makes it unusual is the sapphire base plate which encircles the movement. Cartier has not made a Tank Louis Cartier skeleton watch for several years, the last being the Tank Louis Cartier Noctambule, which only made it to prototype stage in 2006. So the Tank LC Sapphire Skeleton revives a classic case form with a novel movement.

Tank Louis Cartier Noctambule with Luminova coated bridges

The Tank LC sapphire skeleton uses a powerful epoxy to bind the sapphire plate to the brass bridges of the movement permanently, created an integrated sapphire and brass movement, for which a patent is pending. The sapphire plate is in turn secured to the case by four silentblocs, rubber buffers that absorb shock and vibration.

Tank Louis Cartier Sapphire Skeleton

Because the silent blocks are hidden inside the case, the movement almost appears to be suspended within the case, save for the crown and keyless works. A crown on the back of the movement would have completed the visual effect.

The Tank LC Sapphire Skeleton measures 30 mm wide and 39.2 mm long, making it similar in size to the XL model of the discontinued Collection Privée Cartier Paris (CPCP). This size makes it perfect as a formal watch in the best tradition of Cartier form watches. 

The Tank Louis Cartier Sapphire Skeleton with a CPCP Tank Asymetrique

The 9616 MC movement is mechanically identical to the other hand-wind Cartier skeleton movements, like the 9611 MC. It is equipped with twin barrels which give it a three day power reserve. Visually the 9616 MC is a departure from skeleton watches of any brand. Instead of the typical straight lines, the 9616 MC is all about circular forms. These provide a striking, but attractive contrast with the oblong case shape. 

The bridges are circular, echoing the gears and barrels. A particularly elegant detail is the curved spring for the keyless works.

A circular theme continues on the back of the movement as well, where the gears seem to flow in a clockwise manner around the movement, starting from the crown.

The movement is well finished, though the regulator index is of the unattractive Etachron type. That is the only element of the movement which is insufficient.

The Etachron regulator index at bottom left; the shape point of the bridge to its right is worth admiring

The Tank LC Sapphire Skeleton retails for €40,000 (~US$54,100) in white gold, and €60,000 (~US$81,100) in white gold with diamonds. Keep an eye on our SIHH page for updates. Or follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to keep track of the happenings at SIHH 2014.

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