Introducing the Zenith Defy Inventor

The oscillator of the future is no longer limited.

Equipped with the ingenious silicon oscillator unveiled two years ago, the Zenith Defy Inventor is notable not for that, but the fact that it will be serially produced to the tune of several hundred pieces a year.

A large silicon frame that functions as the balance wheel, hairspring, and lever, the Zenith Oscillator was first introduced in the Defy Lab in September 2017, heralded as the next evolution of the Swiss lever escapement. The Defy Lab, however, was a limited edition of just 10 pieces, essentially 10 experimental watches sold to the public. But Zenith promised to turn it into commercial reality and has made good on that promise at Baselworld 2019.

Zenith Defy Inventor black

The Defy Inventor isn’t just a remake of the Defy Lab, of course. It’s been reworked in both technical and aesthetic features.

While both the Defy Lab and Inventor share the impressive Zenith Oscillator, which relies on the tensile properties of silicon to regulate the movement at a high frequency, the Oscillator has been improved in the Defy Inventor. The new watch uses a reworked escape wheel that is made of silicon, and has split, flexible teeth. In contrast, the Defy Lab utilised a more conventional escape wheel with fixed teeth.

The frequency of the oscillator has also been increased. The Defy Lab ran at 15Hz, or 108,000vph (vibrations per hour), five times the 3Hz of an ordinary movement. But the Defy Inventor goes even further and operates at 18Hz, or 129,600vph. The increase in frequency, however, has reduced the power reserve from about 60 to 50 hours – substantial but with little practical difference on the wrist.

Zenith Defy Inventor Escape Wheel close up

Both the Defy Lab and the Defy Inventor are certified for magnetism resistance (based on the ISO-764 standard) and immunity to temperature changes (ISO-3159). In terms of precision, however, the new Defy Inventor is chronometer-certified by Geneva-based non-profit TimeLab (here’s a handy guide to the lesser-known certification), while the Defy Lab was a certified by the Observatory of Besancon, giving it the prestigious Tête de vipere (“viper’s head”) hallmark.

Zenith Defy Inventor case side

Though the case design remains the same, the materials used are now more conventional. The original had the entire case made of a Aeronith, a porous aluminium composite, which is only used for the bezel of the Defy Inventor. The rest of the Deft Inventor is lightweight titanium, and measures the same 44mm wide and 14.5mm tall.

Zenith Defy Inventor front

We have seen many brands try to reinvent the traditional regulation of a mechanical movement but most have only managed to do it in small numbers as limited editions or concept watches. While the Zenith Defy Inventor will be made in small quantities relative to the company’s total output, it nonetheless is a significant technical achievement.

The ability to negate all the weaknesses of a traditional regulator – temperature, magnetism, wear and tear -sounds like science fiction, but it might just be the future for Zenith.

Pricing and availability

The Zenith Defy Inventor (ref. 95.9001.9100/78.R584) is priced at 17,900 Swiss francs, or about US$18,000.


 

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Seiko Introduces the Presage Arita Porcelain Dials

Traditional porcelain in pure white.

Having already used fired enamel and Japanese urushi lacquer for its Presage dials, Seiko has now turned to Arita porcelain.

Named after the town on the island of Kyushu where it is produced, Arita porcelain is prized for its delicacy and colour, but not well suited for dials in its fragile, natural state. So the dials of the new Presage watches are made from a new type of Arita porcelain that boasts four times the hardness of ordinary porcelain.

The dials are produced by Hiroyuki Hashiguchi, the chief of Arita porcelain maker Shingama. First, the porcelain is shaped in mould and then fired in an oven at 1300 degrees Celsius, before being glazed by hand with a spray gun and fired once again to set the glaze.

Seiko arita porcelain dial

Then the apertures on the dial for the date and hands are cut with laser, followed by another trip to the oven for a third firing to smoothen the edges of the newly cut holes.

The result is a smooth and surprisingly glossy surface, with blue markings that are inspired by the colours of traditional Arita porcelain wares. And like several other Presage models, the white dials features a red “12”, a nod to the Laurel, the very first Seiko wristwatch.

Seiko arita porcelain Hiroyuki Hashiguchi

Hiroyuki Hashiguchi

The line-up is comprise of two watches, the simpler one being a three-hand automatic with date. It’s powered by the 6R35.

The second model has a power reserve display at nine o’clock and a date at six. Inside is the 6R27 automatic movement.

Seiko Presage Arita porcelain SPB093 SPB095 2

Price and availability

The Presage Arita Porcelain with power reserve and date (ref. SPB093, or SARW049 in Japan) is priced at 200,000 Japanese yen, or about US$1800.

And the three-hand model with a date (ref. SPB095, or SARX061 in Japan), is 180,000 Japanese yen, or about US$1600.

Both will be available from September 2019.


 

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Introducing the Seiko Prospex 1970 Diver’s Recreation

A remake of the ref. 6105-8110.

Seiko is continuing with its streak of vintage dive watch remakes with the Prospex 1970 Diver’s Recreation, a replica of the vintage ref. 6105-8110 with its distinctive turtle-shaped case.

Like Seiko’s earlier remakes, including last years Hi-Beat Diver 1968, the 1970 Diver’s Recreation retains the original design, while having an improved finish and modern day movement.

Seiko Prospex 1970 Diver Recreation SLA033 3

The 1970 Diver’s Recreation is 45mm in diameter, slightly and indistinguishably larger than the 44mm original. And it is rated to 200m, an increase on the 150m of the original.

Made of steel, the case has been treated with a “super hard coating” that’s known as “Diamond Shield” in Japanese. Essentially a carbon-based coating, the treatment increases the scratch resistance of the case surface.

Notably, the uppermost surface of the bezel is polished with the Zaratsu technique. Accomplished with a specialised machine, Zaratsu creates exceptionally flat, mirror-polished metal surfaces, but is typically found only on higher-end models, primarily Grand Seiko.

It’s fitted with a domed sapphire that mimics the look of the original mineral crystal but adds the advantage of being almost scratch-proof.

Seiko Prospex 1970 Diver Recreation SLA033 2

The dial is typical 1970s, with large square hour markers and wide baton hands.

It’s equipped with the 8L35 movement, an automatic with a 50-hour power reserve.

Seiko Prospex 1970 Diver Recreation SLA033 4

Price and availability

Limited to 2500 pieces, the Prospex 1970 Diver’s Recreation (ref. SLA033, or SBDX031 in Japan) is priced at US$4250, or 450,000 Japanese yen. It’ll arrive in stores in July 2019.


 

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Introducing the Tudor Black Bay Chrono S&G

The ghost of the "JPS".

While polarising because of its design, the Heritage Black Bay Chrono proved to be a critical (if not a commercial) hit when it made its debut two years ago. Now Tudor has just unveiled the two-tone, slightly retro version of the Black Bay Chrono that is not merely a change of materials, but also has a redesigned, slimmer case.

The Black Bay Chrono S&G – short for “steel and gold” – has the same 41mm diameter, but the crystal has been domed slightly to allow the dial to sit higher and closer. That allows the case to be a tad slimmer than the original.

The bezel and chronograph pushers are in solid 18k yellow gold, as are the first center links of the bracelet. All the other gold parts are gold capped, which is essentially a layer of gold mechanically pressed around a steel core, rather than the more common electroplating that results in a thinner and less durable gold finish.

Tudor Black Bay Chronograph S&G 2

The gold bezel has a black anodised aluminium insert with matching gold markings, but perhaps what makes for an entirely different look overall are the gold-toned counters – matched with gilt hands, hour markers and lettering – which brings to mind the vintage Rolex Daytona “John Player Special”.

Better known as the “JPS”, the black and gold Daytona dial got its nickname from the black and gold livery of Team Lotus Formula 1 of the 1980s that were sponsored by cigarette brand John Player Special.

Tudor Black Bay Chronograph S&G 4

Powering the watch is the same self-winding MT5813 movement that was developed by Breitling and modified for Tudor. It is essentially the B01 column-wheel chronograph movement, but equipped with Tudor’s free-sprung, adjustable mass balance wheel and silicon hairspring. It’s COSC-certified, and offers a three-day power reserve.

Tudor Black Bay Chronograph S&G 3

While the two-tone bracelet completes the classic look, it is also available on a leather strap with a removable “Bund” pad, which plays to the racing theme, as well as a fabric strap.

Price and Availability

The Tudor Black Bay Chronograph S&G (ref. 79363N) is priced at 6,500 Swiss francs on bracelet, 5,350 Swiss francs on a bund leather strap and 5,350 Swiss francs on fabric strap.  It will be available from June 2019.


 

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Patek Philippe Watch Art Grand Exhibition Singapore [Updated]

Starting end September 2019.

Patek Philippe president Thierry Stern mentioned in an interview two years ago that the next Watch Art Grand Exhibition would be taking place in Singapore. That is now official, with Patek Philippe having just announced the exact dates and venue for the exhibition, which will be its biggest ever.

The fifth edition of its watchmaking exhibition – after Dubai, Munich, London, and New York – will take place from September 28 to October 13 at the theatre complex inside the Marina Bay Sands casino resort sited on Singapore’s waterfront.

Significant not only for its geographical location in the centre of South-East Asia, the city state is also celebrating 200 years since modern Singapore was founded by British statesman Sir Stamford Raffles. Consequently, the exhibition includes the Singapore 200th Anniversary room that’ll display selected timepieces as well as explore Patek Philippe’s presence in the country over the decades.

patek philippe calibre 89 yellow gold

The landmark Calibre 89 that will be on show in Singapore

Patek Philippe Grand Exhibition New York 2017 4

The Grand Exhibition in New York that took place in 2017 – the Singapore edition will be bigger

Being the first time a Grand Exhibition takes place in Asia, Patek Philippe pulled out all the stops to make the event a big one, able to accommodate 1000 visitors at any one time.

It’ll take place in a space that totals 1908 square metres – about 20,000 square feet, or the size of an enormous penthouse apartment – topping the 1493 square metres of the London Grand Exhibition, the previous title holder.

patek grand exhibition singapore rendering 4

A rendering of the entrance to the Singapore exhibition

patek grand exhibition singapore render

The Singapore room

The vast space will be used to create an experience that aims to transport visitors to Patek Philippe’s hometown of Geneva. Sections of the exhibition will recreate each of the pillars of Patek Philippe’s physical presence in the Swiss city – the historic salon on Rue du Rhône, the Plan-les-Ouates manufacture, and the Patek Philippe Museum.

Visitors will travel through the company’s history and delve into its innovations with some 400 timepieces from the Patek Philippe Museum on show, ranging from 200-year old pocket watches to modern grand complications.

patek philippe sky moon tourbillon 6002G

One of the contemporary masterpieces that will be on show: the Sky Moon Tourbillon ref. 6002 with a black enamel dial and engraved case

Part of the exhibition will be akin to visitor the Patek Philippe factory in Geneva. Watchmakers from the manufacture will be present for live demonstrations and workshops.

And because the Grand Exhibition is intended to be a democratic, educational experience, it will be open to the public, and Patek Philippe will also host students from various schools in Singapore.

patek grand exhibition singapore rendering 2

The Napoleon Room that replicates a section of the Patek Philippe Salon in Geneva

The importance of the event is underlined by who will be attending: Patek Philippe president Thierry Stern, sales chief Jerome Pernici and watch development head Philip Barat, as well as Sandrine Stern, the head of the design department at the manufacture. And the chief local host will be Deepa Chatrath, the General Manager of Patek Philippe in the region.

Lastly, the commemorative edition watches that will be produced for the exhibition have yet to be announced. Expect news on them closer to the date.

For ticket booking, please visit the dedicated microsite on Patek.com.

Watch Art Grand Exhibition
September 28 to October 13
Open daily 10am to 7pm
Admission is free

Sands Theatre, Marina Bay Sands
10 Bayfront Avenue
Singapore


Update July 10, 2019: Additional images added.

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