SIHH 2014: Introducing the Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées, skeleton watches for the gentleman (with specs and pricing)

Skeleton watches for the gentleman, the Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées combine open-working and subtle grand feu enamel accents, together with Gothic inspired design elements.

Vacheron Constantin is going all out with skeleton watches at SIHH 2014, unveiling open-worked versions of several calibres, including the 14-day tourbillon. The Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées use the simple, time-only cal. 4400 SQ, which has been skeletonised to wonderful effect. Instead of the more linear forms in most skeleton watches, the skeleton bridges and base plate have curved, arched lines, inspired by the ribbed vaults found in the ceilings of Gothic-inspired nineteenth century buildings. 


Each surface is then further engraved with vaults, further enhancing the effect. More than three days is required to complete the movement decoration and engraving.

In addition, Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées also boast a narrow, grand feu enamel chapter ring. Done in black, blue or grey, the enamel ring sits under mechanically skeletonised Roman numerals, another Gothic architecture inspired element. 

The black version is particularly challenging due to the difficulty of achieving a consistent and flawless black finish.

At 40 mm wide and 7.5 mm high, the Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées have slim, formal proporations. The cases are all white gold, with the choice of black, blue or grey enamelled chapter rings. An additional jewellery model set with baguette-cut diamonds on the bezel is also available.

The craftsmanship required for each watch puts them in the very highest price point. Each version of the Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées retails for a hefty 109,000 Singapore dollars, equivalent to about US$85,300. The jewelled version retails for 176,000 Singapore dollars, about US$138,000. 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 Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph 100, capable of measuring 1/100th of a second (with specs and pricing)

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph 100 can measure up to 1/100th of a second, thanks to a second balance wheel running at 360,000 bph, presented in a titanium and carbon fibre case.

A nod to historical Minerva stopwatches, the Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph 100 has a Minerva developed calibre, the MB M66.25, which can measure up to 1/100th of a second. This is actually a tuned down, and much more affordable, version of the movement developed for the TimeWriter II Chronographe Bi-Fréquence 1000, which went up to 1/1000th of a second.

With the 1/100th of a second indicated by the red central hand, the TimeWalker Chronograph 100 uses the classic solution for high frequency wristwatch chronographs, separate barrels, going trains and balance wheels for the time and chronograph.

With its balance wheel running at 360,000 bph (which translates into 6000 beats per minute and 100 per second), the chronograph function has a power reserve of 45 minutes. The timekeeping part of the movement, which runs at a leisurely 18,000 bph, has a 100 hour power reserve. Both are wound via the crown, clockwise for the time barrel and the other way for the chronograph barrel.

The large, 45.6 mm case sets a new aesthetic direction for Montblanc. There are strong hints of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Extreme Lab chronograph in this design, unsurprisingly. Carbon fibre forms the case middle, while the lugs and back are titanium. The bezel is also titanium, but coated with DLC.

A single button for the start, stop and reset of the chronograph lies at 12 o’clock, inspired by pocket stopwatches. Made of clear sapphire, the dial reveals the base plate of the movement. At nine o’clock is the running seconds, while the elapsed seconds and minutes are co-axial at six. The elapsed seconds run to 60, while the minutes, 15.

The movement is visible through the display back and is somewhat incongruous with the modern style of the case and dial. Because the movement is based on a classic Minerva chronograph calibre, it has several elements of early twentieth century watchmaking, most obvious in the large, screwed balance, swan neck regulator and Breguet overcoil.

Limited to 100 pieces, the TimeWalker Chronograph 100 will retail for €50,000, or about US$67,700, about a fifth of the Bi-Fréquence 1000 which retails for over US$300,000.

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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Pre-Basel 2014: Introducing the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Platinum, the world’s first diamond setting in ceramic and sapphire (with specs and price)

Omega has notched up a notable technical achievement with the Seamaster Planet Ocean Platinum with diamond-set ceramic and sapphire. It features diamonds set in the ceramic bezel and sapphire case back, the first time in watchmaking diamonds have been set in such hard materials.

The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Platinum with diamond-set ceramic and sapphire is a platinum Planet Ocean GMT with some very unusual gem-setting. All around the black ceramic bezel insert are baguette diamonds markers for the odd numbers of the 24 hour scale. And at the top is a a round diamond set in the triangle marker at 12 o’clock. Never before in watchmaking have diamonds been set in ceramic. This is done by first laser-engraving the ceramic bezel and then depositing 850 platinum alloy into the engravings, bonding the alloy to the ceramic. Diamonds are then set into the platinum surfaces of the ceramic base using traditional setting techniques. 

Specifically, the accomplishment is not actually setting the diamonds on the ceramic surface, which is impossible due to its hardness, but in being able to precisely bond the platinum alloy with the ceramic in such a way that allows for gem-setting. Baguette diamonds are also set all along the bevels of the case, and also on the sapphire case back, using a process similar to that for the bezel.

Limited to eight pieces, this Seamaster Planet Ocean Platinum is delivered with a platinum folding buckle, with a retail price of about €100,000, or about US$135,000. In time to come this gem-setting process will be used on lower priced timepieces.

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Pre-Basel 2014: Introducing the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Orange Ceramic GMT in platinum, the world’s first orange ceramic bezel (with specs and price)

Omega unveils the Seamaster Planet Ocean Orange Ceramic, a limited edition in platinum and a striking orange ceramic bezel insert, a world first.

For its first watch with an orange ceramic bezel, Omega has chosen to make an eight piece limited edition Planet Ocena GMT in platinum. Not only does the Seamaster Planet Ocean Orange Ceramic have a 950 platinum case, but the bezel and dial are also made from platinum.  But what’s unique about this watch is not the precious alloy, but the orange ceramic insert in the bezel, the first of its kind. Due to its nature, ceramic used in watchmaking is typically dull and dark in colour, and brightly coloured ceramics are only just beginning to appear in watches. The engraved numerals, scales and triangle on the ceramic bezel are engraved and then filled with 850 platinum, which is permanently bonded to the ceramic base. A .950 hallmark for the platinum dial sits just above the hands, and all the are in white gold.

The platinum case has a 43.5 mm diameter, with the Co-Axial calibre 8615 inside. Equipped with a Si14 silicon balance spring, the movement has a four year warranty, as do all Omega watches with the Si14 hairspring.

The Seamaster Planet Ocean Orange Ceramic is delivered on an orange leather strap with a platinum deployant buckle. An additional orange rubber strap is also included. This will retail for approximately €50,000 before taxes, or about US$67,700. More affordable steel models with the orange ceramic bezel will be introduced subsequently.

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SIHH 2014: Introducing the new and improved Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 42 mm ref. 26470 (with specs and price)

Audemars Piguet has updated the 42 mm Royal Oak Offshore, keeping much of it the same but improving several details, including ceramic pushers and crown, and giving it the in-house cal. 3126 movement.

In its 21st year, the Royal Oak Offshore has received a major, though subtle, revamp. This keeps the Offshore 42 mm in tune with the rest of the Royal Oak collection, while maintaining its key characteristics. The new Offshore ref. 26470 series comprises six models, in either pink gold or steel. Importantly, the new Offshore replaces all current Royal Oak Offshore 42 mm models. The new Offshore case remains at 42 mm, but has redesigned, more angular crown and pusher guards, giving it greater resemblance to the 44 mm Offshore. 

In addition, the crown and pushers are now in brushed black ceramic with polished bevels, instead of being Therban (a synthetic rubber) coated metal.

Another important change is the introduction of the in-house cal. 3126 movement for all the new Offshore 42 mm watches. This replaces the cal. 2326, which was actually a Jaeger-LeCoultre cal. 889. The chronograph module, however, remains the same from Dubois-Depraz. Consequently, the new Offshores all have display backs, eliminating the soft iron inner cage of the original Offshores.

Though broadly similar, the dials have minor but significant tweaks. The date disc now matches the colour of the dial, just like on the updated Royal Oak Jumbo 15202. And the hour numerals are slightly slimmer and more angular, while the hands are now broader and facetted. Straps too have been revised. They now taper less and end in a wide pin buckle, just like that found on the Offshore Diver. Six new Royal Oak Offshore models have been launched, two in pink gold and the rest in steel.  The two pink gold models have matching pink gold dials, along with black numerals. One is on a gold bracelet and the other on an alligator strap.

This is the new Royal Oak Offshore Navy, in steel with a blue dial and orange accents, on a blue rubber strap.

Also updated is the Offshore Safari, with an ivory dial and brown accents. The strap is brown hornback alligator. 

The last two have black dials. The first is black with white numerals and red accents, on a black hornback strap with red stitching.

And the next one has a slate grey dial, matched with black sub-dials and numerals, on a black hornback strap. Pricing in US dollars is as follows: $25,600 in steel with rubber strap $26,000 in steel with hornback crocodile strap $40,700 in pink gold with hornback crocodile strap $69,200 in pink gold with pink gold bracelet As noted earlier, all the models on strap now come with a tang buckle in the same metal as the case. We leave you with this Offshore retrospective from AP which briefly outlines the evolution of the Offshore from 1993.

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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