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Each year we take a moment to note the anniversary of the first tourbillon, the whirling regulation device Abraham-Louis Breguet patented on June 26, 1801. Breguet’s invention helped make pocket watches more precise by counteracting many of the negative effects of gravity on timekeeping precision.

Abraham-Louis Breguet

As is the case each year, Montres Breguet has provided us with a few visual reminders of how Breguet’s invention eventually started more than two centuries of tourbillon development by watchmakers.

A Breguet tourbillon

That development, however, was surprisingly slow. Found primarily in pocket watches and the occasional clock, the tourbillon wasn’t adopted for serially produced wristwatches until the 1980s, though a few prototype wristwatches with tourbillons were developed by Omega in 1947 and even earlier by special order at other Swiss manufacturers and by the French maker LIP.

Breguet Tourbillon N°1188

Breguet also reminds us that Abraham-Louis Breguet created only thirty-five tourbillon watches, with fewer than ten known to survive (including the No. 1188, pictured above).

The Breguet N°2567

The House of Breguet possesses several additional historical tourbillon pocket watches, including No. 1176 sold by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1809, and No. 2567 sold in 1812, along with original records that list every single Breguet historical creation.

Many original Breguet tourbillons can be found in the Breguet Boutique & Museum in Place Vendome, Paris.

Here are just a few recent Breguet tourbillon watches that bear witness to the legacy of the man who devised the device, and whose name is on the building.

For 2020, Breguet adorns the dial of its Extra-Thin Self-Winding Tourbillon with a touch of deep blue, by using the traditional grand feu enamel technique.
Engraved caseback of the newest Breguet Extra-Thin Self-Winding Tourbillon.
Breguet this year offers its Marine Tourbillon Équation Marchante 5887 with a rose gold case with a gold dial.
The eye-catching engraved caseback of the Breguet Marine Tourbillon Équation Marchante 5887.

The MCH Group, which organizes Baselworld each year, announced earlier this week that it will cancel Baselworld 2021. That show, which MCH scheduled for January 28 to February 2, 2021, was initially announced in late February this year after the MCH Group canceled Baselworld 2020, originally slated to begin April 30, in response to a Swiss government ban on large events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cancellation of the 2021 event comes after a host of major watch companies, including Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chopard and others, left the 2020 event to start a Geneva-based event alongside Watches & Wonders next January. That move was followed by the departure of three LVMH brands (Hublot, Zenith and TAG Heuer. Bulgari announced its departure earlier in the year).

According to the MCH Group press statement, the cancellation was agreed on in collaboration with the Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee, and also “unanimously approved by the Comité Consultatif and also supported by industry associations.”

“I welcome the constructive attitude of the representatives of the MCH Group, which has enabled us to find a balanced solution”, says Hubert J. du Plessix, President of the Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee. “I would also like to thank Patek Philippe, Rolex, Tudor, Chanel, Chopard, Hublot, Zenith and TAG Heuer, who, in a spirit of solidarity with the sector as a whole, have agreed to a lower refund so that the other exhibitors can benefit from better conditions.”

“We are pleased to have worked together and, in just a short time, found a solution that is acceptable to everyone. In the light of the large loss of revenue due to COVID-19 and our responsibility to all our stakeholder groups, this solution marks the limit of what is possible for us, said Bernd Stadlwieser, CEO of the MCH Group. “With the amicable settlement for Baselworld 2020, we can now concentrate fully on the future.”

At LVMH Watch Week in mid-January, Zenith debuted a new Defy collection made specifically for women. 

Called Defy Midnight, the line of 36mm steel watches is wide-ranging, with a selection of star-flecked dials on gradient blue, grey and mother-of-pearl dials. Every watch includes a steel bracelet and three additional leather straps, a set that represents a level of customization previously not found with any Zenith collection.    

We spoke with Zenith CEO Julien Tornare about Zenith’s path to the Defy Midnight collection. Read his comments below, in which Tornare also teases us just a bit about upcoming Zenith debuts.  

 

iW: Why launch a new collection for women? 

Julien Tornare: From the moment I came on board at Zenith, I was asked about creating new watches for women. This took time because first we addressed changes needed in the Elite and Chronomaster collections. I couldn’t do it all at the same time for many reasons, but we did address those once we saw that the Defy collections were a success. 

For women, we had models in Elite and in the Pilot collection.  But for a long time we didn’t have a complete strategy on women’s watches. 

 

What were your primary considerations when approaching the Defy Midnight design? 

My first thought was to create watches for women of the 21st-century, for today. That meant we needed to do that within Defy, which is our modern-focused collection. We needed to combine emotion and something rational. By that I mean a good tool for 21st century women.  

We worked within the ‘Time to Reach Your Star’ Zenith marketing concept, which focuses on achievement, being someone very active. To represent that we wanted to have the sky on the dial, so we have the sky and the stars on the dial. And among these stars is your star, the one you are looking for – the one you want to grab, to reach. This could be in your private life or in your business, your sports or your arts. We all have stars we want to reach.  

This is the emotion of the collection, the story. So first I wanted to have this dimension to the new collection.

Then we realized that women of the 21st-century often have four lives in one. My wife reminds me of this quite often, that women are quite better at multitasking than men. So I wanted a watch that women could use in different circumstances.  

We did not invent interchangeability for straps.  But we may be the first to sell the watch with a bracelet and an additional three straps. 

A woman of the 21st-century has many lives, and her day moves quickly.  Perhaps going to the gym wearing the bracelet, then changing it to the strap for a cocktail in the evening. We are offering four watches in one.

 

What about the technical aspects of the watch? 

I have always been against using quartz movements only for women’s watches and mechanical movements for men’s models. I think that is totally old-fashioned and wrong.  We do have more and more women telling us they want a mechanical watch, something sophisticated, and not with a battery. 

For the Defy Midnight Dials, we first thought about the starry sky that you can see when you visit our manufacture. And, our logo is a star. So we placed a sky on the dial in several colors, but it’s always with the stars. The star symbol is very positive around the world in many different areas. Ratings are given in stars.  Hollywood has stars. Zenith is lucky to have a star as its logo. We want to capitalize much more on that. 

 

How will you support the collection in your marketing?

‘Dream Her’ is a concept we’ll be doing this year in which we invite women who have achieved great things in very different fields to discuss their lives.  We will host events where this takes place. We are going to accompany these events with huge exhibitions. We will do these around the world, and they will each last about a week. 

 

(Zenith’s Elite Classic )

How have you changed the Elite collection?

We needed to update the design of the Elite collection. As you know I used to work for a classic brand, so I know what I wanted for Elite. It was a good thing that we had a successful Defy collection, which gave us the time to work on Elite, as well as Chronomaster. 

If you want to do a classic watch, which by the way can be the most difficult to design, we have to go for elegance. If you buy a watch like that, it is because you want an elegant watch. 

We worked on the case, the lugs, and looked within our own history. We refined the lugs and made a thin case– and added more value to the dial.  I thought that some of the earlier models were a bit flat and without emotion.

This is why we settled on a sunburst dial that is actually quite costly to create. I am so happy to relaunch this, because I believe there are always clients for an elegant watch. 

(Zenith’s new Elite Moonphase)

Can you offer our readers a peek at upcoming Zenith debuts? 

This will be a very interesting year for Zenith. Remember that last year we had all the 50th anniversary celebrations where we launched all of the revival limited editions for Chronomaster. The massive interest in Chronomaster leads us to our April debuts this year. 

You will also see another version of Defy coming this spring. This is the collection where we can play with colors and with limited editions. But Chronomaster must be linked to our history, so it will remain as you know it.  

During LVMH Watch Week, Bulgari made it clear that women are a priority audience for the brand, even as many of its recent award-winning Finissimo watches are targeted to male collectors. This explains in part why Bulgari debuted a new set of Serpenti watches during the debut event. 

But Bulgari also took the opportunity to enhance its offerings to women with a renewed attention to technical breakthroughs that in some ways match the cutting-edge thinness of Finissimo. 

Indeed, Bulgari’s highlight debut earlier this month, the Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon, features the world’s smallest tourbillon, a technical coup that does double duty for the jeweler and watchmaker. In addition to emphasizing its collections for women, the new watch symbolizes Bulgari’s plans to expand the use of mechanical movements within a broader range of its feminine collections.

 As Bulgari Managing Director, Watch Business Unit Antoine Pin explains below, “Since we are a fully integrated manufacturer, why shouldn’t we make high-end complications for ladies?”

We discussed this and other topics with Pin during the Watch Week debut event.

(The new Bulgari Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon features the world’s smallest tourbillon.)
   

iW: Why is it important to place mechanical movements inside watches for women?

Antoine Pin: We have two important reasons.  First, Serpenti was born with mechanical movements. And today there are very few mechanical movements in small sizes.

Secondly, we have built up incredible experience in micromechanics in our quest to reduce the size of movements while maintaining their performance. With this experience comes the appetite to go further. To see what we can do.

 

Why focus for now on complicated movements? 

It is somewhat easier to work on a small size tourbillon in limited numbers then to work on large mechanical movements. It is more technically complicated, but because of the production process, the questions you are tackling are different. 

Being a fully integrated high horology company, we have a better understanding sometimes of these smaller volume, highly complicated movements. Underlining this is the fact that we have a majority of clients who are women.  And since we are a fully integrated manufacturer, why shouldn’t we make high-end complications for ladies?

(The new Bulgari Divas’ Dream features a peacock feather dial and a mechanical movement.)

Some would say that there are no clients for this, but we get requests for this. We especially saw this with the Divas’ Dream. So what we are trying here very much fits in with our philosophy.

 

(Bulgari’s Divas’ Dream Lapis Lazuli)

Will you extend this work into additional, simpler movements?

We should clearly. It makes sense. Yes, a few movements of the small size do exist, from Rolex and Jaeger-LeCoultre, but these are very limited.

Will you continue with movements like the thin repeater inside the Divas Dream Finissima Minute Repeater?  

We will arrive with new innovations every year. It is also a matter of matching new markets.  But again, there is no market until there are products to offer. This is something we are monitoring. We do have demand for simpler complications, mechanical pieces with one or two functions. It is less of a collector’s spirit and more of a regular users spirit.

The new Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic in Black Sandblast and Polished Ceramic.

How did you decide to launch the new steel Octo Finissimo Automatic? 

It was obvious.  We have this amazing success with the titanium Finissimo collection and we had pushed to the ultimate stage in the innovation. 

The Finissimo has such high recognition from all of our partners, so there was no question of the idea to expand the product to meet the today’s standards with steel on steel, gold on straps, which are basics in ninety-five percent of watch company collections. It is also a way for us to expand our reach with watch connoisseurs. 

 So we have launched this well-known category of products while maintaining our standards for the Finissimo collection. This is also another way to introduce Bulgari as a watchmaker.  This gives our staff more possibilities to present Bulgari as the watchmaker against other watchmakers in the same classic categories.

 

Can you offer us any hints as to the April Bulgari debuts?

We have additional debuts in April and in September. We are now showing you pieces that are available very soon, not many months down the line. Clients can get confused when they hear about new products but don’t see them in stores.  

We will be debuting more jewelry pieces, plus new pieces in the other collections as well. 

What is interesting about the pieces we are showing right now is that they highlight our capacity to innovate both from a design perspective and from a mechanical perspective. We are not a jeweler making watches; we are true Swiss-born watchmakers making watches for more than 100 years, including more than forty years in Switzerland.  

The leadership we have on micromechanics like the small tourbillon is a way to say look at us for what we are.  We are a watchmaker with a different origin, with a different perspective on watchmaking that gives us new designs. We have a talent for creating designs that are different. 

At the Grammy awards this Sunday, Bulova will once again present a specially made Bulova Grammy watch to each first time award winner. The watch is one of two special Grammy-themed models Bulova has made as part of its partnership with the Recording Academy. 

(The Bulova Grammy watch available to the public is an automatic model with music-themed dial.)

The watch to be awarded to the first-time Grammy winners features a drum-themed steel case and black silicone strap with stainless steel fret style inserts. It’s finished with a gold-tone crown and gold-colored dial made of a custom alloy called Grammium developed by John Billings, the craftsman who creates the gold gramophone Grammy statue. Each timepiece will be personalized to the first-time award recipient with a customized glass case back including the Grammy logo stamp, the award and award recipient’s name. 

The second Bulova Grammy watch, which is available to consumers, is a 44.5mm black-toned steel automatic watch with gold-tone guitar tuning peg-shaped crown at the four o’clock position and a black skeleton dial with a guitar pick and fret inspired markers. The watch also features an open dial and exhibition case back showcasing the skeletonized Miyota automatic movement with a 42-hour power reserve. Price: $680. 

Among Hublot’s many debuts at the LVMH Watch Week in Dubai in mid-January, the new Hublot Big Bang Integral was the brand’s primary focus. As the first Big Bang with an integrated metal bracelet, the 42mm collection debuts with an impressive lineup on its very first showing. 

Not only has Hublot offered the new collection in three case metals (titanium, King Gold and a 500-piece black ceramic edition), but also each metal has already been decked in diamonds for three additional gem-set models that extend the debut Integral line.

The namesake integrated bracelet here is a solid three-link design that breaks Hublot’s long held focus on rubber, leather or fabric bracelets for its best-selling Big Bang Unico collections. The new Integral collection is also notable for utilizing the rectangular pushers originally found on the Big Bang in 2005, but replaced in recent years by round pushers.

“For the new Integral, we’ve kept the screws, the bezel and the lugs, but we have changed the pushers to look like those used in the original,” explains Raphael Nussbaumer, Hublot product and purchasing director. 

“The new bracelet has three links, and we play with satin brushed and polished finishes and beveling and chamfering to create reflections. The bracelet seems simple, but to have a perfect balance between the case and the bracelet is truly challenging.”

Hublot was up to that challenge. I placed the new watch on my wrist last week, and discovered a solid construction that easily conforms to the wrist. The titanium model is a particular delight, with a lightness that was surprising, especially given the Big Bang’s full-sized 42mm by 13.5mm chronograph case. The King Gold model is as luxurious as you’d expect, with its heavier alloy of gold, copper and platinum presenting a stark contrast to either the titanium or black ceramic models.   

In addition to the new collection’s retro pushers you’ll also find a new case construction here that retains the well-known Big Bang sandwich construction but does away with composite resin insert. Instead, Hublot creates the new cases entirely from one material (titanium, King Gold or ceramic). Only on the ceramic model has Hublot utilized black composite resin lugs on the bezel. 

Inside each watch Hublot fixes its own Unico 1280 automatic flyback chronograph movement with column wheel and an impressive 72-hour power reserve. The handsome caliber is skeletonized for optimal viewing from front or back. The wearer can eye the column wheel from the front of the watch. All arrive with deployant buckle clasp. 

Prices for the new Hublot Big Bang Integral: $20,900 (titanium), $23,100 (black ceramic-500 pieces) and $52,500 (King Gold). Diamond models: $68,400 (titanium) and $100,000 (King Gold).   

Hublot also debuted many other new watches during LVMH Watch Week, including a handsome new Spirit of Big Bang Meca-10, a very hot Big Bang MP-11 Red Magic and a colorful set of gem-encrusted Spirit of Big Bang Rainbows. 

In January during LVMH Watch Week, Zenith underscored a wide range of its bedrock designs with new pilot models and added a feminine touch within its Defy collection and new Elite collection watches. At the same time, Zenith expanding its Defy 21 high-speed model offerings with two special editions reflecting new and existing partnerships.  

The Le Locle-based watchmaker unveiled a wide-ranging 36mm Defy Midnight collection with dials in a gradated deep blue or grey meant to recall the evening sky – including a Zenith star. The dials within the Defy Midnight collection feature stars of different sizes – some of which glow in the dark. One of the dials is made with white mother-pearl with a vertical gradient effect, intended to evoke moonlight on a cloudy night. Even the rotor on the Elite in-house movement is star-shaped and completely visible from a clear sapphire caseback. 

Defy Midnight, with diamonds

This full Defy Midnight (priced starting at $8,600) is being offered with a wide assortment of interchangeable bracelets and straps. Each watch will come in a box that includes three additional colored straps and an interchangeable folding clasp. (See our interview with Zenith CEO Julien Tornare for more about Defy Midnight).

Elite Additions
Zenith has revamped its Elite collection of unisex watches, making them a bit slimmer and more minimalistic. Look for two new Elite collections in 2020: the Elite Classic (starting at $5,700) and Moonphase (starting at $6,700). Both collections feature models in 40.5mm and 36mm case diameters, in stainless steel or rose gold. 

Pilot’s Watches
Zenith is debuting two new Pilot’s watches:
The Pilot Type 20 Rescue ($7,100) and Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Rescue ($7,600) are offered in a stainless steel case with a slate-grey sunray dial, with the signature oversized Arabic numerals entirely made out of SuperLumiNova. (Zenith notes that the pricing indicated here is subject to change). 

Defy 21
Coinciding with the debut of the next-generation Land Rover Defender, Zenith and the famed British carmaker have collaborated on the Defy 21 Land Rover Edition ($13,400). Limited to 250 pieces, the new watch is a new look for Zenith’s 1/100th of a second chronograph. The new model is cased in micro blasted titanium, and paired with a matching grey dial that now boasts a linear power reserve window with the new touches of color.

Partnering with DJ Carl Cox, Zenith has also expanded Defy 21 with the new Defy 21 Carl Cox ($18,800), limited to 200 pieces. Here Zenith created a new matte black carbon chronograph with a carbon fiber bezel and strap stitching that both glow in the dark. As requested by Cox, Zenith devised a rotating disk shaped like a vinyl record at 9 o’clock to serve as a running seconds indicator.

Finally, as we indicated several months ago, Zenith is now offering its 

Chronomaster Revival A384 with a perfect remake of the original Gay Frères ‘ladder’ steel bracelet ($8,100).  

Look for much more about Zenith’s 2020 debuts in future posts, including any updates to the tentative pricing indicated in our report above.  

At LVMH Watch Week in Dubai, the Italo-Swiss watchmaker and jeweler added a tourbillon to Serpenti and debuted the first steel Octo Finissimo Automatic. 

Serpents and gold co-star in Bulgari’s desert debuts this past January during Watch Week in Dubai where the brand joined its LVMH brethren to showcase new watches for 2020. 

The jewelry and watchmaking company, which capitalizes on its deep Italian design and Swiss watchmaking prowess, adds several effervescent new models to its snake-head shaped Serpenti collection while also adding new gold, steel and ceramic finishes to its record-holding ultra-thin Octo Finissimo collections.

Serpenti & Dreams
Emphasizing a host of new and updated watches in its Serpenti Seduttori and Divas’ Dream collections, Bulgari sets the bar high by hatching a newly complicated Serpenti, the Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon, with which Bulgari welcomes mechanical movements back to its collection of small watches for women. 

Within the snake-head-shaped Serpenti Seduttori Bulgari places its new tourbillon caliber (BVL150) in the watch’s most prominent position just below the center to leave no doubt about the highly complicated nature of the watch’s movement. 

Bulgari designed the movement specifically to fit and be clearly visible within the small Serpenti case. Bulgari watchmakers assured full transparency by developing a clear sapphire bridge to better display the tourbillon. Likewise, the tourbillon is highly visible from the back thanks to a sapphire crystal caseback. Bulgari also hand-decorated the entire caliber and then rhodium-plated it for extra brilliance, while utilizing a special diamond setting technique to ensure a thin case while also maximizing the watch’s high-carat glitter.  

The Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon is being offered with either a rose gold or a white gold case on a leather strap, or in white gold with a full diamond bracelet. Prices start at $78,000.

More for Women
While the tourbillon model highlights Bulgari’s 2020 offerings for ladies, look for at least five new Serpenti Seduttori watches in 2020, including at least one with diamonds and another that combines steel with rose gold and with white gold.

Also for women, Bulgari’s Divas’ Dream collection expands this year with a Divas’ Dream Minute Repeater Malachite, featuring a beautifully striped malachite green dial, surrounded by a diamond-set bezel. You may recall that this GPHG-award winning design is currently the thinnest minute repeater made for a women’s watch.     

Bulgari also adds two new gold Divas’ Dream watches without the repeater. One features a rich blue lapis lazuli dial while another is finished with a colorful peacock feather dial. 

Octo Repeater in Gold
Another highlight among Bulgari’s Dubai 2020 debuts is the new Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater in rose gold, powered by the ultra-thin (3.12mm) manual-wind minute repeater movement, the BVL 362 caliber. 

This all-new version ($170,000) of the much-heralded record-breaking titanium-cased Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater from 2016 now glows on the wrist with an impressive sandblasted rose gold case.

 As seen on earlier models, this rose gold edition retains the dial’s cutout hour and small seconds markers that serve to amplify the repeater’s chime. The pusher that activates the striking mechanism (at 9 o’clock) is wisely fitted with an “all or nothing” safety device. When fully wound, the movement delivers a 42-hour power reserve.

New Finishes
Throughout the Octo Finissimo collection, Bulgari in 2020 again focuses on the Italian design aspect of its Swiss engineered three-hand Octo Finissimo Automatic models. 

Looks for three new models in this collection. First, two emphasize their new satin-polished non-monochromatic timepieces. These are the Octo Finissimo Automatic Satin-Polished Steel (priced at $12,000, it is the first steel watch in the collection) and the Octo Finissimo Automatic Satin-Polished Rose Gold ($22,700). Both watches show off the thin BVL 138 Finissimo caliber (2.23mm) and feature a polished black lacquer dial. 

While the highly lauded Octo Finissimo Automatic in steel (which brings the entry level into the collection down to $12,000) features a nicely integrated steel bracelet, the rose gold version comes on an alligator strap. 

The third new Octo Finissimo, the Octo Finissimo Automatic in Black Sandblast-Polished Ceramic, features a new sandblast-polished ceramic case and bracelet and sandblasted ceramic dial. This monochromatic look alternates its matte and polished surfaces, an effect that allows the light to play off the case and bracelet angles