Breaking News: CEO of Baselworld Organiser MCH Group Resigns

Rene Kamm departs in the wake of the Swatch Group's departure.

Just days after the Swatch Group’s shock exit from Baselworld, Rene Kamm, chief executive of MCH Group, the events organiser that is behind Baselworld, has resigned according to an announcement by MCH Group.

Mr Kamm departure comes shortly after he issued a response to statements made by Nick Hayek, chief executive of Swatch Group, the largest watchmaker in Switzerland and owner of brands like Omega and Breguet. Mr Kamm proclaimed that Baselworld was successful reforming itself, despite Mr Hayek’s claims to the contrary, which is why he decided to take his SFr50m budget for Baselworld elsewhere.

His resignation ends a career of nearly 20 years at MCH, where he started in 1999 as the director of Baselworld, the largest watch and jewellery fair in the world. He then climbed the ranks of Baselworld’s parent company, which also owns events like Art Basel.


Rene Kamm. Photo MCH Group

According to the announcement, MCH chairman Ulrich Fischer will take over operational control of the group while a successor is being found, with Mr Kamm will be available to provide advice if needed.

Mr Kamm’s successor might be advised that Mr Hayek’s late father, Nicolas G. Hayek Sr., was christened “Uhren-König”, or “Watch King”, by Switzerland’s business press. Since Mr Hayek took over in 2010, the Swatch Group has only grown bigger. The king, it would seem, always gets his way.

Source: MCH Group

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Hands-On with the Kemmner Military AS1950/51

Affordable, fun and inspired by the Heuer "Bund".

Formerly an engineer at a German case making company, Roland Kemmner now makes watches under his own name. Most are modelled on vintage watches and designed with varying degrees of creativity, but all are put together with components made in Asia, but done well, which is why they are all extremely affordable.

One of the more interesting products Mr Kemmner has come up with is the Military AS1950/51, a hand-wound, time-only watch inspired by the Heuer ref. 1550SG “Bund” chronograph. It successfully channels the look of the original, while being simple and surprisingly low cost, priced at just over US$500, proving that smart budgeting and an eye for detail can go a long way.

The case is steel, 43mm and finish with clean, sandblasted surface that’s similar in form to the Heuer “Bund”, but without the characteristic step on the top of the lugs. It’s rated to 30m.

And the bezel is painted aluminium, bidirectional, and topped with a domed acrylic crystal, all of which contributes to the retro feel.

Kemmner Military AS1950-51 watch 3

Legible and properly proportioned, the dial is well-designed with a minor touch of humour: the emblem at six o’clock contains “SL”, which is short for Super-Luminova, the luminous material on the dial (specifically it is white Super-Luminova, colour code C3). On the vintage original it reads “3H”, an acronym for tritium, a radioactive substance once used for watch dials that is now banned.

Kemmner Military AS1950-51 watch 5

Notably, the movement inside is a 17-jewel vintage calibre made by Adolph Schild, a Grenchen-based movement maker better known as A. Schild that’s now part of ETA. A basic and robust movement, the cal. AS 1950/51 is representative of the sort Switzerland produced in large numbers before the Quartz Crisis; think of it as an ETA 2824 of its era.

Kemmner Military AS1950-51 watch 1

Kemmner Military AS1950-51 watch 4

Mr Kemmner has a significant supply of such “new old stock” movements, and he overhauls them before installing them into the watches. The AS 1950/51 has a power reserve of about 45 hours. Though it’s hidden behind the solid case back, the movement sits in a metal movement ring, rather than plastic which is typical for a watch of this price.

Kemmner military A Schild movement

Photo Roland Kemmner

The Military AS 1950/51 is limited to 200 pieces and numbered on the case back. It’s delivered on a black “Bund” leather strap.

Price and availability 

The Military AS 1950/51 is priced at €440 on Mr Kemmner’s eBay store, or €398 from him direct.


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Hands-On with the Longines Avigation BigEye Chronograph

Retro-military styling and strong value.

Longines’ highly regarded remakes of vintage watches tend to be faithful to the original and modestly priced. Most, however, tend to have tweaks – typically the addition of a date window – that mark them out instantly as modern watches. The Avigation BigEye chronograph, on the other hand, is competently vintage in style and feel.

The BigEye – named after its extra-large minute register – is based on a vintage original that Longines acquired from a collector, according to the brand’s President in a late 2017 interview with Australian publication Time+Tide Watches. Little else is known about the original, Longines has been cagey about its origins, though the look is familiar, being typical of 1970s aviation chronographs like a late-series Breguet Type XX.

The modern remake, however, is as spot-on as the original is hazy. It’s matte black with recessed sub-dials finished with stamped azurage, or concentric circles, and large, legible markings and numbers. All of the Super-Luminova on the dial is greenish, as brand new “lume” should be, which is a welcome departure from the faux vintage lume seen on vintage remakes.

Longines Avigation BigEye Chronograph 1

Everything is easy to read, except the 30-minute register which is confusing as the elongated hashmarks are in three-minute intervals, instead of the conventional five. On the vintage original the hashmarks were similarly laid out, except on a 15-minute counter, making it much easier and intuitive to read.

Longines Avigation BigEye Chronograph 2

Notably for a modern remake of a vintage watch, the chronograph registers are positioned just right and not too far from the edge of the dial as is often the case when small movements are used in big cases. That’s thanks to the cal. L688 inside, which is actually an ETA Valgranges A08.L01, itself an upgraded and enlarged version of the Valjoux 7750. That means it has a column wheel instead of a cam, as well as an extended power reserve of 54 hours, compared to 48 hours of the ordinary 7750.

Longines Avigation BigEye Chronograph 5

Like the dial, the case smart takes its cues from the original, including a double-step bezel with contrasting surface finishing, as well as lugs with a narrow side profile. The view from the side is enhanced by the domed, “box-shape” sapphire crystal that approximates the crystal on the original. The pump-style pushers seem extra-large, again modelled on the vintage original.

All of the case is neatly finished with linear brushing, including the back, which has been stamped with a stylised plane.

Longines Avigation BigEye Chronograph 4

The only downside of the case is its size, with a comparison to the vintage originals in mind. Though moderately proportioned by modern standards at 41mm in diameter and almost 15mm high, the case feels chunky and slightly substantial on the wrist. That being said, it feels and looks at home on the wrist.

And then there is the price, which is well under US$3000, making this a strong value buy by any standard.

Price and availability 

Already available in Longines boutiques and retailers, the Avigation BigEye chronograph (ref. L2.816.4.53.2/4) is priced at US$2625 or S$3980.


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