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Franck Muller’s new Vanguard Line Cut emphasizes lightness and curves with a micro-blasted matte gray titanium case, dial and bracelet.

The new Franck Muller Vanguard Line Cut.

As the latest model within Franck Muller’s winning Vanguard collection, the Line Cut offers collectors a matte-finished contemporary option within Vanguard, known for its wrist-hugging tonneau-shape and trademark elongated numerals.

The new collection broadens the appeal of Vanguard, which Franck Muller has expanded considerably in recent years with racing designs, skeleton models, gem-set editions and several seriously complicated calibers.

Time-only

Franck Muller equips the new Vanguard Line Cut with a simple two-hand time-telling function, which serves to emphasize the sleek, curved matte gray case and its curved black ‘line cut” along the sides.

Furthermore, Franck Muller then matches the cut to the black outline of each of the dial’s long, hand-applied numerals.  Ironically, while the dial projects depth, the case remains relatively thin, here measuring only 9.8mm from front to back. By Franck Muller standards, that’s ultra-thin.

Franck Muller watchmakers have fit the new watch (which is still in limited release) with an extra-flat automatic movement.

 

Specifications: Franck Muller Vanguard Line Cut

Reference: V 41 S AT REL LINE CUT FM 708

Movement: Franck Muller Automatic, 21,600 vibrations hour, 
42 hours power reserve, 
Côtes de Genève, circular graining, rhodium plating.

Case: 41mm by 50mm by 9.10mm micro-blasted grade 5 titanium, water resistant to 30 meters.

Dial: Gray titanium PVD, matte gray hand-applied numerals with black contours.

Bracelet and buckle: Micro-blasted grade 5 titanium.

Price: 9,820 Euros, or about $11,920.

 

By Laurent Martinez

For most collectors, there’s always one coveted piece that stands above the rest—the so-called grail, if you will. And in the world of vintage watches, most would agree that the Patek Philippe Reference 2499 holds that honor.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest timepieces designed by the renowned Swiss watchmaker, Reference 2499, a manual-winding Perpetual Calendar Chronograph with Moonphase produced in very low quantities, is the quintessential Patek.

When a Patek Philippe ref. 2499, comes to the auction block, the vintage watch world pays attention.

Few have had the privilege to see a Reference 2499 in real life, let alone touch one. Watch experts recognize this very special timepiece as one that perfectly combines incredible exterior design with a masterful internal movement.

Given the rarity and collective fascination with the Patek Philippe ref. 2499, when one comes up to the auction block, the vintage watch world pays attention. Collectors won’t want to miss the chance to see it, study it, and most importantly, share a room with other fellow enthusiasts whilst witnessing the inevitable bidding battle that will ensue to claim this watch as his or her own.  

Sotheby’s New York on December 15th will be hosting a holiday season watch auction with a magnificent example of the revered Patek Philippe Reference 2499 as the star of the event.

Few were made

Succeeding Reference 1518 and preceding Reference 3970, Patek Philippe produced Reference 2499 from 1950 until 1985. Despite only 349 pieces ever made, there are four distinct series of the ref. 2499 to note.

The first series was in production from 1950 until the mid-1950s and features square chronograph pushers, applied Arabic numerals, and a tachymeter scale on the dial. There are less than four-dozen of these ref. 2499 watches in existence. The second series, manufactured from 1955 until 1966, include round chronograph pushers, applied baton or Arabic numerals, and a tachymeter scale on the dial.

Next in line was the third series, made from 1960 until 1978, with round chronograph pushers, applied baton indexes, and no tachymeter scale on the dial.

Finally, the fourth and last series of the Reference 2499 is dated from 1978 to 1985 (with later examples taking on the reference 2499/100) and the watches have round chronograph pushers, applied baton numerals, no tachymeter scale, and sapphire crystals shielding the dials.

Fourth series star

The Patek Philippe Reference 2499/100 coming up for sale on December 15 in New York at Sotheby’s belongs to the fourth series family. And it is simply a magnificent piece manufactured in 1981. While the creamy dial is in very good condition it is not perfect.

A closer look at the dial reveals the coveted “Tiffany” branding, which makes this example of the Reference 2499 even more exceptional.

The dial does have some discoloration owing to the humid conditions of the Southern United States, where its owner resides. The customary applied gold batons mark out the hours while the three subsidiary dials for minutes, date/moonphase, and running seconds sit at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, respectively. The double windows displaying the day and month are placed at 12 o’clock while the gold hands at the center are in the “Dauphine” style.

Tiffany branding

A closer look at the dial reveals the coveted “Tiffany” branding, which makes this example of the Reference 2499 even more exceptional and rare. Sotheby’s consulted with Patek Philippe to see how many Tiffany marked examples were made but there are no records in-house.

The winding crown is furnished with the Patek Philippe logo and of course, the chronograph pushers are round in shape. The interior of the yellow gold case back is engraved with Patek Philippe Co – Genève – Swiss – 2499 – 100 – 2.779.174.” Housed inside the yellow gold case is the manual-winding Caliber 13-130, featuring 23 jewels and numbered 869.425. Potential bidders will be happy to know that the watch keeps very good time.

Housed inside the yellow gold case is the manual-winding Caliber 13-130, featuring 23 jewels and numbered 869.425.

This Patek 2499 is fitted with a brown lizard Patek Philippe strap with a gold Patek Philippe buckle. The width in between the lugs is 20mm and 14mm at the buckle end. The interior of the buckle is engraved with “To AIL – Love – BKL – 7-5-96” and both the case and buckle include all the required poinçons or hallmarks. 

Under the sofa 

The watch was first appraised 20 years ago but it was lost for some time inside the estate. After a long period of searching, this superb Patek Philippe 2499 was finally found inside the house, underneath the sofa. No one knows quite how long it had been lying there, hidden from the world.

As a one-owner Patek Philippe Reference 2499, this is the first time this watch comes to auction. The estimated price is between $500,000 and $800,000, even though I think it is a conservative figure.

For any inquiries about the watch, please contact Richard Lopez, SVP, Senior Specialist, and Head of Online Sales at Sotheby’s at [ Richard.Lopez@sothebys.com ]

The Patek Philippe Reference 2499/100 will draw bids at the December 15 Sotheby’s auction in New York.

Wishing you a safe, happy, and joyful season.

Laurent Martinez is the proprietor of Laurent Fine Watches, Greenwich, Connecticut. Read more by him at blog.laurentfinewatches.com or visit his store’s site at www.laurentfinewatches.com

Patek Philippe this week launches a platinum-cased Grand Complication, the Ref. 6301P Grande and Petite Sonnerie, Minute Repeater with Jumping Seconds, the Geneva watchmaker’s primary technical watch debut for 2020.

Patek Philippe’s new platinum-cased Grand Complication, the Ref. 6301P Grande and Petite Sonnerie, Minute Repeater with Jumping Seconds.

With its black grand feu enamel dial, slanted Breguet numerals and relatively unadorned time and power reserve indications, the new watch understates its impressive and complex chiming mechanism. While eyeing a classically presented time display, a wearer can also place an ear to the 44.8mm case and enjoy a rarely orchestrated symphony of three gongs: a grande sonnerie (full strike), petite sonnerie (small strike) and an on-demand minute repeater.

Patek Philippe has also added an unexpected layer of complexity to the new watch by incorporating a jumping seconds indicator, prominently displayed at the 6 o’clock position on the dial. Patek Philippe looked to its Reference 5275 from 2014 for inspiration on this complication, as that chiming model boasted jumping hours, minutes and seconds.

Patek Philippe opted to place the strike mode selector at 6 o’clock on the case.

New slide

Patek Philippe watchmakers, well-versed in designing and building the brand’s highly regarded and extensive range of chiming watches, developed the new caliber GS 36-750 PS IRM movement directly inspired by Caliber 300 used in the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300 from 2014.  

Unlike most chiming watches from Patek Philippe and elsewhere, the new watch’s chime control center is located below the 6 o’clock position rather than on the left side of the case. On this watch, the selector can be adjusted to petite sonnerie mode (left side), grande sonnerie (center) and silence (right). The user activates the minute repeater on request with the pusher in the winding crown.

Because Patek Philippe opted to place that strike mode selector at 6 o’clock on the case, the watchmaker needed to move its traditional small-diamond platinum case indicator to the side of the case at the 12 o’clock position.

The diamond, here at 12 o’clock, indicates that the case is platinum.

Two barrels

Two series-connected twin mainspring barrels power the new caliber GS 36-750 PS IRM movement. One assures a power reserve of 24 hours for the striking mechanism while the second ensures a 72-hour power reserve for the movement.

New the new caliber GS 36-750 PS IRM is inspired by Caliber 300 used in the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300 from 2014.

All this chiming and timing occurs within a platinum case that may look familiar. Inspired by the Ref. 5370 split-seconds chronograph Patek Philippe presented in 2015, the case features rounded contours, a concave bezel and a slightly cambered sapphire crystal.

Details of the striking mechanism with three gongs.

In summary, the new Patek Philippe Ref. 6301P Grande Sonnerie includes these six complications:

  1. Grande sonnerie
  2. Petite sonnerie
  3. Minute repeater
  4. Movement power-reserve indicator
  5. Strikework power-reserve indicator
  6. Jumping seconds

In addition, the new watch offers unique technical achievements that have resulted in the Geneva watchmaker earning three patents, which Patek Philippe describes below:

  • Isolation of the grande sonnerie in the silence mode (Patent CH 704 950 B1). In the silence mode, this mechanism totally isolates the grande sonnerie from the power flow and eliminates energy consumption.
  • Selection of the strike work mode (Patent CH 706 080 B1). This mechanism enables the selection of the strike work mode (petite sonnerie, grande sonnerie, silence) with a single lever and a single slide switch. Two slide switches were formerly required for this operation.
  • Jumping display with a jumping seconds wheel (Patent CH 707 181 A2). This innovative mechanism for jumping displays does not require springs and levers but instead uses wheels and a release lever that instantaneously unblocks the wheel train every second, and features a coiled return spring as the only power element. The advantage of this system is that it makes energy consumption easier to regulate and control.

Patek Philippe will offer the new Ref. 6301P Grande Sonnerie  on a shiny black, hand-stitched alligator leather strap with square scales, secured with a fold-over clasp. The price for the limited production watch is available upon request.

 

Specifications: Patek Philippe Ref. 6310P Grande and Petite Sonnerie, Minute Repeater with Jumping Seconds

Movement: Patek Philippe Caliber GS 36-750 PS IRM, manual winding, minute repeater with 3 classic gongs, grande sonnerie, petite sonnerie, jumping small seconds at 6 o’clock, power reserve indicators for the movement 
(72h) and for the strike work (24h), frequency of 25,200 bph 
(3.5 Hz), power reserve of 72 hours, strike work power reserve of 24 hours.

Dial: Grand Feu black enamel with glazed finish, gold applied Breguet numerals, 18-karat gold dial plate, white gold leaf-shaped hands 
with luminescent coating.

Case: 44.8 mm
 by 12mm platinum, humidity-and dust-protected only 
(not water-resistant), interchangeable solid and sapphire crystal 
case backs.

Strap: Alligator leather with square scales, hand-stitched, shiny black, fold-over clasp.

 

Zenith continues to place its Defy collection on the cutting edge of high-end, serially produced horology with the addition of the Defy Classic Carbon, which finds the automatic Zenith Defy Classic cased in solid carbon fiber and connected to the wrist with a fully integrated carbon fiber bracelet.

The new Zenith Defy Classic Carbon.

The carbon fiber packaging means that the new model weighs a wispy sixty-five grams, about half the weight of an equivalent 41mm Defy Classic with a titanium case and bracelet. Like other Defy Classic models, Zenith fits the watch with its Elite skeletonized movement with a silicon escape wheel and lever.

While carbon fiber is not unheard of today as a case material in high-end watchmaking, the addition of a carbon fiber bracelet is rare and seen only on pricey, extremely limited editions such as Bulgari minute repeater or a Richard Mille offering.

Zenith explains that the new bracelet required new expertise at cutting, molding and milling the carbon fiber so that it highlights its layers, known technically as strata. The Le Locle watchmaker is touting this knowledge as another aspect of its ability to create serially produced watches infused with new materials (at least within watchmaking) and avant-garde techniques.  

Unexpected

The lightness and the marbled, layered look of a carbon fiber bracelet looks unusual and feels unexpectedly light on the wrist, especially when it clasps a highly complicated automatic watch. While I haven’t worn the new Zenith Defy Classic Carbon, my experience briefly wearing Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon in 2018 was educational in this regard.   

The material is warmer and almost friction-free on the skin, quite unlike the sensation when wearing a steel watch or a gold watch. As an added bonus, the layering of the carbon fiber within such construction results in a different visible pattern every time. As a result, each Zenith Defy Classic Carbon will exhibit a unique appearance.

Zenith has created an all-carbon bracelet with carbon clasp for the new watch.

Zenith also offers a black rubber strap with a carbon and titanium folding buckle for those who prefer a more familiar attachment to their watch. While the price difference between the rubber strap and the carbon fiber strap is high, only one model will suffice for those in search of the truly unusual, and potentially ground-breaking, with their haute horology.

The Zenith Defy Classic Carbon with carbon bracelet is price at $19,500. The model with the black rubber strap is priced at $11,600.

 

Specifications: Zenith Defy Classic Carbon

References: 10.9001.670/80.M9001 (carbon bracelet) and 10.9000.670/80.R795 (rubber bracelet)

Movement: Zenith Elite 670 SK, automatic, 28,800 VpH, 48-hour power reserve, special oscillating weight with satin-brushed finish.

Case: 41mm carbon with sapphire caseback, water resistant to 100 meters, 65-gram total weight (watch with carbon bracelet).

Dial and functions: Openworked with hours and minutes in the center, central seconds hand, date at 6 o’clock, hour-markers and hands ruthenium-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova SLN C3.

Bracelet: Full carbon. Also available on rubber bracelet, with carbon folding buckle.

Alpina this week revives a regulator dial design with the new Alpiner Regulator Automatic, a successor to the Geneva-based watchmaker’s Avalanche Regulator, which debuted in 2003.

The new Alpiner Regulator Automatic, from Alpina.

As is the case with all regulator dials, the hands rotate within separate subdials, all dominated by the central minutes hand. Alpina echoes its first regulator watch from by setting the subdials amid vertical Côtes de Genève stripes. However, Alpina has replaced the original’s baton hour markers with triangle-tipped markers lined with luminescent material.

Alpina’s choice of dial décor is meant to enhance the dial’s visibility.  Traditionally, watchmakers apply a Côtes de Genève (Geneva Stripes) finish not to dials, but to movement bridges and rotors. The stripes distribute reflected light from the dial, which reduces reflections.

Now in a round 45mm steel case, the new Alpiner Regulator Automatic sets its hour subdial at 10 o’clock and its seconds subdial at the 6 o’clock position.

Modern look

While Alpina offers a broad range of vintage-styled watches, here the watchmaker offers a contemporary look to what is a classical regulator dial layout.

For the United States, collection includes two models with blue dials, which are available on a brown calfskin strap or a steel bracelet. A third model, offered as a limited series of 883 pieces, features a blue dial on a black calfskin strap with red stitching (pictured above).

Alpina has placed its ETA-based AL-650 automatic movement inside the new Alpiner Regulator Automatic. This differs from Alpina’s earlier regulator watches, many of which were powered by manual-wind movements. And unlike many of those earlier models, the new Alpiner Regulator Automatic features a close, engraved caseback rather than a clear sapphire back.  

The watch, available on us.alpinawatches.com, is nicely priced at $1,895 to $1,995, depending on the version.

With this launch, Alpina continues its support of the National Park Foundation as an official partner. For every Alpiner Regulator Automatic purchased through the United States website, Alpina will donate $100 to the parks.

 

Among Rolex’s 2020 debuts, the watchmaker’s colorful additions to the Oyster Perpetual lineup will likely attract more new fans to the brand (if that’s possible) than will be drawn by Rolex’s updates to the latest Submariner.

The new Rolex Oyster Perpetual, now with a 41mm size option.

Where Rolex altered the case size by one mm (to 41mm) and updated the caliber on this year’s Submariner and Submariner Date, the Geneva giant matched these for the new Oyster Perpetual collection, but also included a wider range of dial hues, brighter dial luminescence and the premiere use within the Oyster Perpetual line of the excellent folding Oysterclasp and the Easylink extension link.

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41

New size & colors

Echoing the new Submariner size, Rolex adds a 41mm case size to the Oyster Perpetual lineup in 2020, replacing the 39mm models. This means that the collection’s other 2020 debut, a new lineup of the already popular 36mm models, will be even more in demand by those who prefer a smaller size.

Oyster Perpetual 41, showing updated luminescent Chromalight. 

Rolex also expands the fun factor of this relatively affordable collection (the starting price is $5,600, compared to $8,100 starting price for the Submariner) with a slate of eye-catching colorful lacquer dials for the Oyster Perpetual 36. The include candy pink, turquoise blue, yellow, coral red and green.

A colorful Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36
Oyster Perpetual 36

But these aren’t the only dial options that will attract new fans. One version of the Oyster Perpetual 41 sports an interesting silver, sunray-finish dial with hands and hour markers in 18-karat yellow gold. A second version offers a bright black sunray-finish dial with white gold hands and hour markers.

Throughout the Oyster Perpetual collection Rolex updates the hands and markers with its own luminescent formula called Chromalight, which emits a long-lasting blue glow.

Upgraded caliber & bracelet

The Oyster Perpetual 41 and the new versions of the Oyster Perpetual 36 are equipped with its also-new Caliber 3230 (which powers the new, date-free 41mm Submariner as well).  This caliber enhances the Oyster Perpetual considerably, upgrading and already solid technical resume by adding Rolex’s own ultra-efficient and anti-magnetic Chronergy escapement and the brand’s Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing the movement’s shock resistance.

Oyster Perpetual 41

For collectors who like to swap their wrist wear frequently, the new seventy-hour power reserve that comes along with the new caliber might be the most useful enhancement with the 2020 collection.

The Oyster Perpetual 41 and the new versions of the Oyster Perpetual 36 are equipped with Caliber 3230, now with a 70-hour power reserve.

And finally, this newest Oyster Perpetual will secure to your wrist with the Rolex Oystersteel bracelet fitted with Rolex’s folding Oysterclasp and the Easylink comfort extension link. This allows the wearer to adjust the bracelet length by five millimeters. This is the first time that this extension system has been used on a bracelet for the Oyster Perpetual range.

You can learn more about all Rolex’s 2020 debuts here.

 

Frederique Constant this week brings back its Highlife collection, one of the Geneva watchmaker’s earliest lines,  updated with an integrated steel bracelet and a contemporary dial design. The watchmaker debuts the newly returned collection with three new models: The Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture, Highlife Heart Beat and Highlife Automatic COSC.

One model from Frederique Constant’s new Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture collection.

All three new Highlife models display the same 41mm case as the original collection from 1999, but the new dials feature a globe design that the Geneva brand says is “intended to unify the collection and symbolize the Earth, harmony, and perfection of the circle.”

While not Frederique Constant’s first integrated bracelet, these Highlife debuts mark a premiere of a newer, interchangeable bracelet that allows the wearer to swap the bracelet without additional tools by pressing on the two pushpins at the end of the bracelet or strap to disconnect it from the case and click a new one into place.

Versatility is a focus here. Each watch will come with an additional leather strap and a rubber strap, and Frederique Constant is also offering a set of three additional crocodile calf suede straps in brown, blue, and black (purchased separately).

Perpetual Calendar

When it made its first perpetual calendar four years ago, Frederique Constant stuck to its mission of offering a high value-to-price ratio across all its collections. That premier Slimline Perpetual Calendar model wowed collectors and critics alike with its thin Caliber FC-775 movement, attractive dial layout and a double-take price (less than $9,000 for the steel-cased model).

With this latest example, the Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture, Frederique Constant’s continues that mission. The watchmaker’s starts with that in-house FC-775 perpetual calendar caliber and places in the newly integrated steel case/bracelet, fronted by the globe design on the dial.

As with previous examples, the new Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture features three counters: day at 9 o’clock, month and leap year at 12 o’clock, date at 3 o’clock and moon phase at 6 o’clock. The watch’s polished hands and all the index hour markers are topped with a luminescent material.

Frederique Constant is making three different variations of the watch. One (pictured above) offers a very cool two-tone style that combines steel and rose gold plating on the bezel, bracelet, and crown. For added luxury you’ll also get a textured black rubber strap with a rose gold-plated buckle.

The second version features a blue dial with silver hands and index hour markers and comes with a blue rubber strap and a steel pin buckle. The third version comes with a white dial, silver index hour markers, a black leather strap and a black rubber strap. Prices start at $9,095.

Open Heart

The new Highlife Heart Beat collection revisits this brand’s initial ‘iconic’ design.

When it debuted in 1994, the Heart Beat was only serially produced non-skeleton Swiss-made collection that boasted an open dial, displaying the automatic caliber’s escape wheel at the 12 o’clock position. Frederique Constant kicked off a design trend with that original Heartbeat collection, and today regrets the fact that it never protected the initial design, an error the brand says was “rooted in the brand’s youthful inexperience.”

From the new Frederique Constant Highlife Heart Beat collection.

The new versions retain that open window into the movement at the top of the dial, which here appears at the pole position on the globe dial design. Portions of the automatic Sellita-based FC-310 caliber are visible from both front and back through the sapphire crystal.

This Highlife Heart Beat model offers a variation with a rose gold-plated case and a white dial, set with a brown leather strap and shipped with a rubber strap in the same shade.

The new Highlife Heart Beat is now available in three different steel versions. The first offers a white dial and rose gold-plated case with only a brown leather strap and a brown rubber strap. The second features a blue dial with a steel bracelet, complemented by a blue rubber strap and the third features a black dial with a steel case and bracelet and arrives with a black rubber strap. Prices start at $1,995.

New and Certified

As the first COSC-certified watch from Frederique Constant, the new Highlife Automatic COSC (Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute) echoes the original Highlife collection from 1999.

A two-tone model from Frederique Constant’s new Highlife Automatic COSC collection.

The simplest design of the new globe-dial Highlife collection, this time-only series combines the hands seen on the Heart Beat and the date from the Perpetual Calendar Manufacture, but powers them both with its automatic Sellita-based Caliber FC-310.

Look for four models: one with a two-tone steel bracelet and a white dial, one with a steel bracelet and a blue dial, and a model with a black leather strap and a white dial. The fourth design offers a variation with a rose gold-plated case and a black dial, all set with a brown leather strap and shipped with a rubber strap in the same shade. Prices start at $1,895.

 

Three optical “eyeballs” and three legs dominate the insect-like profile of TriPod, the latest MB&F desk clock co-creation with L’Epée. The rule of threes is further demonstrated by the clock’s three movement levels, an unusual three-day clock dial and by the fact that the clock is actually the result of a three-way collaboration between MB&F, L’Epée 1839 and designer Maximilian Maertens.

The new MB&F/L’Epée 1839 co-creation, called TriPod.

The new clock, which both makers debuted last week during Geneva Watch Days, arrives about a year after the debut of T-Rex, another cooperative venture that was the first of a trilogy of half animal/half robot creations that MB&F calls Robocreatures.

The TriPod performs its time-telling duties with more user interaction than is required by most clocks. To see the time, the user can either peer into a smallish dial placed atop the colorful insect-like clock body, or – preferably – look directly into one of the three glass orbs (TriPod’s ‘eyes’) that magnify the dial to make it more legible than it appears using the naked eye.

With either method, the user sees a dial composed two concentric, rotating disks and three sets of hour numerals placed around the perimeter of the dial, each numbered from 1 to 12. Making one full revolution in thirty-six hours means the dial indicates three sets of hours and minutes, each of which can be spied individually through one of the glass ‘eyes.’

Sculptural movement

TriPod is about ten inches high and is framed in plated brass. Three legs support a colorful body that houses a 182-component three-dimensional sculptural movement by L’Épée 1839. Like most L’Epée movements, when fully wound (by key) TriPod offers a full eight-day power reserve.

This ‘insect’ body is made from cast acrylic, which provides strong shock resistance and also means the clock is relatively light, weighing about six pounds. The body’s neon green, blue or red translucent shields allow a view of the clock movement, which is seen directly in the center of the body to mimic an insect torso.

TriPod launches in three limited editions of fifty pieces each in neon blue, neon green and neon red. Price: $24,500.

 

Specifications: MB&F/L’Epée TriPod

Display: Hours and minutes are indicated on two concentric dials visible from each of the three optical mineral glass spheres. Dials make one full rotation in 36 hours.

Body: Approximately 10 inches high by 12 in diameter. Weight: 2.8kg (about 6 pounds), 95 parts, plated brass, optical mineral glass, fluorescent acrylic shields.

Movement: L’Epée 1839 in-house designed and manufactured movement, balance frequency: 18,000 vph (2.5Hz), one barrel, power reserve eight days, 182 components, Incabloc shock protection system, manual-winding: double-ended key to set time and wind the movement.

 

With multiple debuts during the past year, Franck Muller has shifted its skills at fashioning dynamic openwork movements into overdrive.

The Franck Muller Vanguard Revolution 3 Skeleton

Most recently, the independent Geneva-based watchmaker debuted a stunning Vanguard Revolution 3 Skeleton triple-axis tourbillon, the first time we’ve seen this mesmerizing movement inside the best-selling tonneau-shaped Vanguard case. (We’ll have details on this ultra-complicated watch in an upcoming post).

The Franck Muller Vanguard Skeleton-Swiss Limited Edition

In early July, Franck Muller debuted the red and white Vanguard Skeleton Swiss Limited Edition, dedicated to the brand’s home country.

Racing Skeleton

This spring in a more broad-based debut Franck Muller updated its Vanguard Racing Skeleton with a lighter, more open-worked movement and more intense use of titanium, carbon fiber and aluminum.

The new Franck Muller Vanguard Racing Skeleton, here with a carbon fiber case.

With a new, heavily skeletonized movement, you’ll see more hints of a racecar engine within the movement’s structure.

Perhaps the most noticeable nod to automotive timing is the seconds indicator. Here, you read seconds starting from the lower portion of the dial (at 6 o’clock) instead of the top. This echoes most automobile rev counters. With two red tips, the hand also shows the wearer an ongoing seconds display from both ends of the hand.

Furthermore, the white hand with red tip and the bicolor second indications track reinforce the idea of a rev counter. Even without a gas pedal, the owner might possibly want to push the hand into the red zone. Of course, as this is not a chronograph, any ‘racing’ will not technically include a timing element. The watch displays only hours, minutes, seconds and date.

Ultra-visible

To further accentuate the skeleton design, the date numbers have been fully skeletonized. The central seconds counter, thanks to a smoked sapphire glass, provides a full display while allowing complete movement visibility.

For a closer fit, Franck Muller has subtly integrated the strap into the case with the help of two unseen screws instead of the regular spring-bar technique.

And finally, the rubber inside the strap shapes more easily to the wrist, while the Alcantara suede layer recalls a sports car cockpit.

Franck Muller makes the Vanguard Racing Skeleton line in 44mm by 53.7mm rose gold, stainless steel, titanium and carbon case options. Prices upon request.

 

Among the three watches Patek Philippe unveiled this week, this Ref. 5303R-001 Minute Repeater Tourbillon is possibly the most distinctive, in part because the watch is the newest, most contemporary design among the debuts.

The Patek Philippe Ref. 5303 is the first Patek Philippe Grand Complication with a minute repeater visible on the dial side. Note the clear view of the hammers and gongs.

While the other two debuts, Reference 5270J-001 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
 and Reference 5370P-011 Split-Seconds Chronograph, represent line extensions for classically designed watches available since, respectively, 2018 and 2015, the new Ref. 5303R-001 modifies a newer design debuted last year as a limited edition of twelve watches during Patek Philippe’s ‘grand exhibition’ in Singapore.

Where that Ref. 5303 appeared accented in red to commemorate the Singapore flag, this new version offers the same open, dial-free architecture but with a black minutes track and a gold seconds hand.

Open architecture

Here, Patek Philippe again reworks the manual-wind R TO 27 PS minute repeater caliber to emphasize its chiming operation. As a result, the repeater is fully visible on the watch’s dial side, where Patek Philippe has repositioned the caliber’s gong and hammers.

This allows the wearer to both hear and see the repeater mechanism’s hammers and gongs as they chime the time without taking the watch off the wrist – a first for any Patek Philippe grand complication.

Patek Philippe has skeletonized the caliber and then carefully hand-finished all its remaining bridges and surfaces. The Geneva brand’s finishers have decorated the movement’s plate with Genevan circular graining, applied a perlage to the recesses and decorated the hammers with a circular satin finish.The tourbillon

The tourbillon is even more transparent than the minute repeater as it’s visible from the front and the back of the watch.

The tourbillon at 6 o’clock is visible through the small seconds counter and can also be seen from the back.

From the back, the viewer can eye the back of the tourbillon case, exactly opposite the dial-side seconds subdial at 6 o’clock. Patek Philippe finishers have filigreed the tourbillon’s steel components until they sparkle – a nice contrast to the rose gold back plate.

The case

The watch’s 42mm rose-gold case notably features a wide polished bezel framing a black-lacquered sapphire-crystal rim. Patek Philippe has also placed leaf-shaped white-gold inlays along the watch’s the sides (including the repeater slide) and the sides of the lugs.

This somewhat surprising naturalistic design element –also seen shaping the white gold, black-lacquered hands ­– nicely balances the watch’s contemporary skeleton caliber.

The watch’s white gold minute repeater slide is engraved with a leaf-shaped pattern.

The Patek Philippe Ref. 5303R-001 Minute Repeater Tourbillon emphasizes both Patek Philippe’s mastery of the minute repeater and the depth of its artisanal arsenal.

Full view of the back of the watch.

Now available in limited production (though not as a limited edition) without the initial model’s red-tinted accents, this chiming watch will undoubtedly attract serious collectors who seek both Patek Philippe’s technical acumen as well as its contemporary aesthetic combined into one highly complicated watch.

Price: Upon request.

 

Specifications: Patek Philippe Ref. 5303R-001 Minute Repeater Tourbillon

Movement: Manual-wind 
Caliber R TO 27 PS minute repeater with classic gongs, tourbillon, small seconds, 365 parts, golden plate decorated with circular Geneva striping. Frequency: 21,600 semi-oscillations/hour 
(3 Hz) with a power reserve of 48 hours maximum.

Dial: Transparent sapphire, black hour circle with minute markers printed in white and golden powdered dots, pierced black lacquered leaf-shaped hands in white gold.

Case: 42mm by 12.13mm rose gold, white gold decorative inserts, humidity- and dust-protected only 
(not water-resistant), sapphire crystal case back, UV-protected sapphire crystal glass.

Strap: Alligator leather with square scales, hand-stitched, shiny black, fold-over clasp

Price: Upon request.