Moritz Grossmann Introduces the XII Birthday Edition

Pocket watch quality inside and out.

Pocket watch-inspired aesthetics are a recurring theme with Moritz Grossmann, exemplified by last year’s Power Reserve Vintage and the Hamatic Vintage from earlier in 202. Continuing with the same style – narrow Roman numerals, reed-thin hands, and a 19th century logo – is the XII Birthday Edition, a limited edition to mark the 12 years since the brand was founded in Glashütte.

Initial Thoughts

Despite the design having being rehashed multiple times with the varied limited editions, the aesthetic fits Moritz Grossmann watches well, and arguably works better than the contemporary style (and logo) found on most of the brand’s watches. In fact, the pocket watch look is especially suited to the anachronistic yet beautiful construction of Moritz Grossmann movements, which are similar modelled on pocket watch calibres.

But going beyond first impressions, the dial design does have a few missteps. Most obvious is the minute track, which has hashmarks for fractions of a second or minute, a feature necessary on watches with a central seconds hand in order to read fractions of a second. This watch has a subsidiary seconds at six, making them unnecessary.

It seems as if the designers did so to differentiate this from the Hamatic Vintage, which has a similar-looking dial. That watch has a technically ideal minute track, but using the same design here would make the two uncomfortably indistinguishable at a glance.

The XII Birthday Edition in rose gold (left) and steel

That aside, the quality of Moritz Grossmann watches are top notch – with both the dial and the movement being excellent in fit and finish. The hands in particular are delicately thin but still thoroughly finished by hand – in fact Moritz Grossmann claims they are the thinnest hands ever found on a wristwatch. And the movement is finished to a high standard that surpasses comparable brands. Put another way, the brand boasts some of the best-finished movements in its price segment.

Traditional silver plating

The highlight of the XII Birthday Edition is its silvered dial that was produced the traditional way, via friction plating – a production method that’s as 19th century as the dial design.

First, the numerals, logo and minute track are engraved on a brass dial blank, and then filled with black lacquer for legibility and longevity. Next is friction plating: silver powder, salt and potassium bitartrate, also known as cream of tartar, is mixed to create a paste that’s rubbed evenly onto the dial blank, creating a uniform, frosted silver finish.

A hallmark of Moritz Grossmann is the attention paid to the hands. While the brand started with ordinarily-sized, lance shaped hands that were exceptionally refined in shape and finish, it later developed a new style of hands that are impossibly thin – almost too fine – yet still hand made.

The hands are sanded, polished and curved by hand, and then heat-blued. Minuscule in width and richly blued, they stand in contrast to the polished steel boss that holds the hands at the centre of the dial.

Flipping the watch over reveals the familiar cal. 100.1, a manual-wind movement with a large, two-third plate and hand-engraved balance cock. Particularly noteworthy is the beautifully finished ratchet wheel that’s adorned with a triple snailing and individually polished teeth.

The movement is also fitted with Moritz Grossmann’s trademark complication – a patented hacking mechanism where the seconds hand stops when the crown is pulled out to set the time, but only gets going again when the pusher at four o’clock is pressed. This allows for slightly more precise time synchronisation, as opposed to the traditional method of pushing in the crown to start the seconds, which might suffer from user error or play in the minute hand.


Key Facts and Price

Moritz Grossmann XII Birthday Edition
Ref. MG-002802 (rose gold)
Ref. MG-002907 (steel)

Diameter: 41.0 mm
Height: 11.35 mm
Material: 18k rose gold or steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 100.1
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Frequency: 18,000 beats per hour (2.5 Hz)
Winding: Manual wind
Power reserve: 42 hours

Strap: Alligator with pin buckle

Limited edition: Limited edition of six pieces each in rose gold and steel
Availability: From authorised retailers
Price: €27,600 in rose gold; €19,100 in steel (excluding taxes)

For more, visit Grossman-Uhren.com.


 

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Jaeger-LeCoultre Introduces the Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon Moon

Classic JLC inside and out.

Combining an unusual variety of complications that nevertheless go well aesthetically, the Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon Moon is the latest tourbillon wristwatch from Jaeger-LeCoultre, which has made something of a speciality in iterating its tourbillon movements with various additional complications.

Powered by the newly-developed cal. 983, the new watch features a moon phase, pointer date, and tourbillon regulator. And its case is made of Le Grand rose gold, a fade-resistant gold alloy unveiled only earlier in the year.

Initial thoughts

The Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon Moon is a handsome watch executed in the typical Jaeger-LeCoultre style.

The design is classical, with a handful of details that refine the look, including the applied hour markers and metal-deposition moon phase scale. And the movement is decorated well, though largely by mechanical methods, and the result is visually appealing.

But it is a bit large at 41.5 mm in diameter, and also thick at 12.1 mm high – giving it dimensions similar to a sports chronograph.

The cal. 983 in the Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon Moon

And the retail price of US$88,500 is high. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s strength is haute horlogerie in the middle of the price segment – though it’s been drifting upwards – alongside brands like Ulysse Nardin and H. Moser & Cie. But both those brands recently launched tourbillons of comparable quality – the Blast and Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon respectively – that cost less.

Master Tourbillon continued

The new Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon Moon is the spiritual successor of the Master Tourbillon of 2009, which was launched in stainless steel and positioned as an affordable yet high quality tourbillon wristwatch.

In fact, the new model is also powered by a movement modelled on the cal. 978 of the 2009 watch. Inside the Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon Moon is the cal. 983, which is equipped with the most novel feature of its predecessor – a pointer date that jumps across the tourbillon from “15” to “16” – a span of 90 degrees – ensuring the hand doesn’t stop over the tourbillon aperture.

The cal. 983 is also fitted with a more recent complication: the “triple moon phase” indicator that was launched last year. Its name comes from the fact that it indicates the moon phase in both hemispheres, as well as the age of the moon with a pointer hand.

The case is in Le Grand rose gold, an alloy Jaeger-LeCoultre debuted earlier in 2020 with the new Master Control line.

Though proprietary to Jaeger-LeCoultre, Le Grand is much like Rolex’s Everose and Omega’s Sedna, Le Grand rose gold. It’s an 18k gold alloy that has a greater resistance to fading than ordinary pink gold – a phenomenon caused by chloride in water and the air – allowing it to retain its colour over time.


Key Facts and Price

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon Moon
Ref. Q1692410

Diameter: 41.5 mm
Height: 12.1 mm
Material: 18k Le Grand rose gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: Cal. 983
Functions: Hours, minutes, date, moon phase, and tourbillon regulator
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 45 hours

Strap: Alligator with 18k gold pin buckle

Availability: At Jaeger-LeCoultre boutiques and retailers
Price: US$88,500; or 130,000 Singapore dollars

For more, visit Jaeger-lecoultre.com.


 

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Highlights: Value Buys at Phillips’ Hong Kong Watch Auction

Even a Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase.

Happening at the end of the month, The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XI is a 250-lot auction with a diversity of offerings, including a good number of grand complications as well as a full complement of the recently-launched Rolex Oyster Perpetual with candy-coloured dials.

But for the enthusiast with more esoteric tastes, the sale also includes a selection of affordable independent watchmaking, as well as value buys from more mainstream brands – here’s a look at a couple of highlights, ranging from a surprisingly well-priced Grand Lange 1 Luna Mundi to a white-and-rose-gold Vacheron Constantin chronograph.

The auction happens on November 29  at the JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong, while the catalogue and online bidding are available on Phillips.com.


Lot 803 – Seiko Prospex Marinemaster Professional 1000 m “Tuna” Gundam Zaku set

An anime series about humans doing battle in giant robots, Mobile Suit Gundam is one of the most famed examples of Japanese pop culture, even having a Wikipedia page titled “Cultural impact of Gundam“. Seiko rolled out several limited editions for the 40th anniversary of the franchise last year, including this pair dedicated to the villains of the series, the dome-headed robots known as Zaku.

Bulbous and vaguely military in form, the Prospex “Tuna” – arguably the most iconic of Seiko’s many dive watch designs – is surprisingly well matched to the Zaku robots. Resembling a tuna can, the watch case is actually double walled, made up of an inner titanium case protected by an outer ceramic shroud.

These were each limited to 1000 pieces, and clad in the colours of a character from the cartoon. Both are brand new and accompanied by the original box and warranty card.

The two form one lot with an estimate of just HK$45,000-90,000, or US$5,800-11,500. In comparison, each retailed for about US$4,000 at the time of launch. More details here.


Lot 805 – Omega Speedmaster Reduced Racing

A bestseller in the late 1990s when Michael Schumacher had just joined Scuderia Ferrari, marking his rise to multi-year world champion, the Speedmaster Reduced Racing is often known as the Michael Schumacher edition, because the Formula 1 driver had just signed on as an Omega brand ambassador at the time.

The “Reduced” suffix in the name comes from the 39 mm case, which is 3 mm smaller than the Speedmaster Professional Moon Watch. Size aside, the Speedmaster Reduced is also automatic, powered by the ETA 2894 movement, in contrast to the hand-wind Lemania 1874 in the Moon Watch.

Widely advertised and impossible to miss during their production run from 1996 to 1999, the Racing watches were offered in a trio of bright colours, packaged neatly into a three-piece set in the auction. All of them include the original tyre-shaped box, as well as their respective warranty cards.

The estimate is HK$47,000-78,000, or US$6,000-10,000, an average of just US$2,000 per watch at the low estimate. Full lot details here.


Lot 841 – Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi “The Ultimate Universe”

Beautifully artisanal and subtle in a typically Japanese manner, the dial of this L.U.C XP is decorated in maki-e, the traditional art of Japanese lacquer. Specifically, the technique taka maki-e, which uses powders to build up layers on the surface, creating a relief motif.

Created with sap from the lacquer tree as well as precious materials like gold and silver powder, the maki-e dial is hand painted by Minori Koizumi, an artist who works for Yamada Heiando, a century-old firm that’s the official supplier of lacquerware to the Japanese Imperial Household.

Despite being elaborately decorated – very much metiers d’art except from East Asia – the watch can be a formal-dress watch. At the distance, the dial appears to be plain black, with its intricate details only revealing themselves at arm’s length. It depicts tiny insects in great intricacy against a relief background of foliage in black ash powder.

The case is 18k white gold, and contains the cal. 96.17-L, a slim, in-house calibre with a sophisticated construction that’s not as widely appreciated as it should be.

The watch is “like new” according to Phillips, and includes all the original boxes and papers. Despite the tremendous craft found on the dial, the estimate is an affordable HK$80,000-160,000, or US$10,300-20,500. Full lot details here.


Lot 886 – A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph

As Lange chronographs go, the 1815 version is unquestionably the best value. Widely liked for being affordable while still possessing the gorgeous L951 chronograph movement, the 1815 Chronograph is essentially a simpler version of the Datograph.

The 1815 does not have an oversized date like its bigger brother, but it is a flyback chronograph, with the same mechanical landscape visible through the display back.

This is a first-generation 1815 Chronograph in white gold with a silver dial. It has a clean and almost monochromatic look, with the blued steel hands offered the only hint of colour.

The watch has its original box and papers, and has an estimate of HK$120,000-240,000, or US$15,400-30,800. Full lot details here.


Lot 887 – Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle Chronograph in white and rose gold

The Patrimony Traditionnelle Chronograph is no longer in production, but was in the catalogue long enough it is encountered fairly often on the secondary market, but inevitably in white or rose gold. This example is uncommon because it is in white and pink gold. Beyond this model, it’s a combination that’s unusual in high-end chronographs in general.

Historically found on certain chronographs of the mid 20th century, the two-tone combination comes from a white gold case with the crown and pushers in pink gold, along with pink gold hour markers and hands.

A large but thin watch with an elegant profile, the Traditionnelle Chronograph is powered by a movement derived from the Lemania 2320, perhaps the most famous column-wheel chronograph movement of the late 20th century that was found in watches made by practically every high-end watchmaker, including Patek Philippe and Breguet.

Complete with its packaging and accessories, this has an estimate of HK$160,000-200,000, or US$20,500-25,600. Full lot details here.


Lot 904 – A. Lange & Söhne Grand Lange 1 Luna Mundi

Ordinarily part of a two-piece set that sells for about US$90,000, this Grand Lange 1 Luna Mundi is just half the set, making it extremely affordable – and comparable in price to a standard Lange 1 in fact.

Launched in 2003, the Luna Mundi was a limited edition of 101 sets. Each set was made up of two watches – a Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase in white gold with a display calibrated for the Northern Hemisphere, and a similar watch in pink gold but calibrated for the Southern Hemisphere. This is one of the pink gold watches, and has the Southern Cross constellation on the dial.

Another both watches do essentially the same thing but for different regions, the pink gold version has a handful more parts in the movement, primarily because the moon phase disc rotates anticlockwise.

Granted it has neither the box nor papers – but it includes a proof of origin issued by factory – but it is a limited-edition Lange for notably little money, making it a strong value buy. This has an estimate of HK$120,000-240,000, or US$15,400-30,800. Full lot details here.


Lot 959 – Cartier Tortue XL 8 Days

Cartier’s best-known watches are the Santos and Tank, making them also the most popular. Though not as unique to Cartier as the Santos and Tank are, the Tortue has an equally long history, and often more interesting mechanics.

Part of the upscale Collection Privee Cartier Paris (CPCP), the Tortue XL 8 Days is powered by the 9910 MC, which is actually a Jaeger-LeCoultre cal. 876. Unveiled in 2003, the cal. 876 was the first eight-day movement made by Jaeger-LeCoultre in the 21st century.

Mechanically the Cartier version of the movement is identical, having both a big date as well as power reserve indicator. But the decor has been customised for Cartier, with all of the bridges having a stamped double “C” emblem that is a hallmark of the CPCP line.

This has neither box nor papers, but it has a very affordable estimate of just HK$38,000-78,000, or about $4,900-10,000. Full lot details here.


Lot 1028 – Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Monopusher

Launched two years ago as a 100-piece limited edition, the 1858 monopusher has a classical, 40 mm case and metallic olive dial, giving it a retro-inspired look that is still clearly contemporary.

But the highlight is the MB 13.21 movement inside, which is actually a 1940s Minerva calibre reproduced in the modern day – explaining its strikingly traditional aesthetics – and then finished to an extremely high level. In fact, the movement is arguably the best-finished chronograph at this price range, especially with the estimate that starts at just US$12,000.

Including the original packaging, this has an estimate of HK$94,000-155,000, or US$12,100-19,900. Full lot details here.


Lot 1045 – Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Memovox

Jaeger-LeCoultre is perhaps the best known maker of mechanical alarm wristwatches, having been one of the first to debut such a complication with the original Memovox in 1951.

A large and imposing watch, the Master Grande Memovox is the ultimate alarm watch – combining the cal. 909 with its signature buzzing alarm with a perpetual calendar module with a year indicator.

All of the calendar indications are on sub-dials as is traditional,

It’s an unusual combination of complications, but arguably a highly practical one: the time, full calendar, as well as a reminder or wake-up function.

Dating from 2005, this has its original box, papers, and calendar-setting tool. The estimate is HK$62,000-125,000, or US$7,900-16,000, which is about what a perpetual calendar in steel would cost. Full lot details here.


Preview and auction

The preview exhibition is open daily November 26-28, from 10:00 am-7:00 pm. And the auction takes place on November 29 in two sessions:

Session 1 (Lots 801-931) – 12:00 pm
Session 2 (Lots 932-1052) – 4:00 pm

JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong
88 Queensway
Admiralty
Hong Kong

For the full catalogue, as well as appointments and online bidding, visit Phillips.com.

This was brought to you in partnership with Phillips Watches.


 

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