Watch and jewelry retailer Wempe celebrates the 35th anniversary of its U.S. President Ruediger “Rudy” Albers with a special exhibition of watches from Wempe’s museum collection in Hamburg.
On exhibit during October at Wempe in New York, the celebratory selection includes vintage Wempe timepieces, watches from the 1980s and co-branded limited editions.
Albers started his tenure with the German-based retailer in 1987 as a master watchmaker at the Wempe store in Hamburg and transferred to its New York location a year later.
Named president of Wempe U.S. in 2002, Albers has been instrumental in the long-running success of Wempe in the United States. The retailer in the U.S. earns more than 100 million dollars in annual sales and has been the company’s top boutique worldwide for the past twenty-five years.
Under Albers’ leadership the U.S. arm of the brand has launched an ecommerce platform and has expanded its New York boutique three times to create its current 5,500-square-feet space on Fifth Avenue. In addition, Albers spearheaded the opening of the first Rolex stand-alone U.S. boutique in 2012. Operated by Wempe, the store is inside the Rolex Building in New York, also on Fifth Avenue.
“Rudy is simply the heart of Wempe New York,” says Kim-Eva Wempe, Owner and Managing Director of Wempe Jewelers. “He has the keen ability to make anyone walking through the door feel like family and leads his team, many of whom have been with him for at least a decade, some even two, in that same manner.”
The celebratory watches on exhibit at Wempe include timepieces from Patek Philippe, Chopard, A. Lange & Söhne, Audemars Piguet, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Cartier and Wempe.
Zurich-based auction house Ineichen Auctioneers will offer an enticing series of auctions featuring complicated watches during the final quarter of 2022.
First up is an auction on October 29 that features more than thirty watches and will showcase tourbillons and open-worked (skeletonizied) watches. Part two of the series, slated for December 3, will focus on watches with chronograph and date functions.
Notable lots for the October auction include a Vacheron Constantin Les Complications Tourbillon Ref. 30050, an MB&F LM Perpetual, a Girard-Perregaux Laureato Flying Tourbillon Skeleton, a Daniel Roth Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar, several stunning Jaeger-LeCoultre complicated pieces, an IWC minute repeater and a pair of Breguet beauties, among others.
“Despite their mechanical complexity, I think tourbillon watches and skeletonized pieces are the most visually pleasing. This auction is purely about joy-inducing aesthetics for me,” says Ineichen Auctioneers CEO Artemy Lechbinsky.
Here’s a peek at a few of the top lots for the October 29 auction.
Vacheron Constantin Les Complications Tourbillon (Ref. 30050/000P-7605)
This early and rare tourbillon (dated 1990-2000) from Vacheron Constantin is cased in platinum 950 with a diameter of 38mm, a thickness of 11.5mm and a sapphire caseback.
Silvered gold dial with Clous de Paris guilloché pattern, Caliber 1760, hand-wound, double barrel. Functions: indication of time in hours and minutes, small seconds hand on tourbillon shaft, power reserve at 12 o’clock. Black leather strap, Vacheron Constantin half Maltese cross-shaped platinum pin buckle. Estimate: CHF 30,000-40,000.
An impressive limited-edition rose gold tourbillon and chronograph wristwatch. Estimated production period: 2013–2019. Case made of 18-karat rose gold, diameter 43mm and 13.4mm thick frames anopen-worked dial, sapphire caseback. Caliber PF354 is manually wound with power reserve up to 65 hours. Functions: indication of hours and minutes, small seconds at 9 o’clock, tourbillon at 6 o’clock, chronograph with central seconds hand and 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock. Original Parmigiani Fleurier black leather strap, made by Hermes, Parmigiani Fleurier 18-karat rose gold pin buckle. Limited edition of 30 pieces. Estimate: CHF 30,000 – 40,000.
The complexity of this fully integrated perpetual calendar developed by MB&F and Stephen McDonnell limits the production. The 581-component in-house movement was developed to eliminate the drawbacks of conventional perpetual calendars. It is designed to be user-friendly, ensuring that dates are not skipped or gears jammed. Adjuster pushers automatically deactivate when the calendar changes.
This watch forms part of a collection limited to twenty-five pieces that was launched in 2020. It is presented in a yellow gold case, which contrasts beautifully with the blue detail on the dial. High-end hand finishes that respect the 19th-century style can be admired throughout. The watch is fastened with a black leather strap with 18-karat yellow and white gold MB&F triple folding clasp produced by G&F Chatelain.
The numbered edition 42mm Laureato Flying Tourbillon Skeleton, first introduced in 2017, is produced exclusively in 18-karat gold. It is arguably one of the finest complicated luxury sports watches presented on an integrated bracelet.
Caliber GP09520-0001, which powers this model, is an extremely rare movement for Girard-Perregaux. It is equipped with a flying tourbillon, devoid of a bridge on the dial side, and features a proprietary design normally with three gold bridges. The GP09520-0001 is produced exclusively in the skeletonized version and was the brand’s first self-winding flying tourbillon movement. Estimate: CHF 60,000 to 80,000.
Daniel Roth Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Retrograde Date ‘XV years’ Limited Edition (Ref. 199.Y.70.011.CN.BD)
This watch showcases a rare combination of complications: a perpetual calendar with two retrograde indicators (date and leap year), tourbillon and automatic winding functionality, which are powered by the DR740 caliber. All Ref. 199 sub-references were produced in very limited quantities and precious metals including platinum as seen in the current lot. It was launched in 2004 as a jubilee limited edition to commemorate the brand’s 15th anniversary.
Early Daniel Roth watches are known for their elaborate dials decorated with different guilloché motifs that highlight the placement of his signature blued steel hands as well as double ellipse-shaped Ellipsocurvex cases and haute horlogerie movement finishes.
This piece is one of the first generation (Mk1) releases of the Ref. 199 design. It features a solid dial as well as a guilloché small seconds subdial with three “XV” embossed inscriptions woven into the pattern. Such decoration is atypical of the Daniel Roth style. The presence of a tourbillon is indicated only by the inscription “Tourbillon” on the subdial because it is only visible through the sapphire caseback. There is also an engraved inscription “XV years” on the rim of the caseback. Estimate: CHF 30,000 to 40,000.
Breguet Classique Grande Complication Tourbillon ‘Senza B’ (Ref. 5357PT/1B/9V6)
Thisrare and fine platinum tourbillon wristwatch was most probably produced in 2012. Case made of platinum 950, it measures 39mm by 8.9mm, with a signed crown, sapphire caseback, 18k gold silver-plated dial with hand-made guilloché decoration, recessed hours and minutes sub-dial, Breguet double secret signature between XI and XII and XII and I. The hand-wound caliber 558.1 is hand-engraved with Breguet hairspring. Functions – hours, minutes, tourbillon, small seconds hand on the tourbillon shaft. Black leather strap with Breguet platinum 950 double folding clasp.
This Classique Grande Complication Tourbillon Ref. 5357 was introduced in 2002 as a larger 39mm alternative to the original 35mm Tourbillon Ref. 3357 (initially 3350). Unlike reference 3357, Ref. 5357 featured a new single-layer solid-gold and silvered dial, decorated by hand-made guilloché pattern, with a recessed hours and minutes sub-dial and a round tourbillon aperture, but the same original Breguet’s hand-wound tourbillon caliber 558 (version 558.1).
The reverse side of the movement deserves special attention – it is exquisitely and lavishly engraved by hand, and, moreover, there exists at least five basic engraving generations. The engraving of caliber 558 is done by hand and although it follows one of the 5 basic designs, the engraving is different each time in small details, and therefore any watch is essentially a unique piece. Estimate: CHF 30,000 – 40,000.
There are more than a few iconic American companies that can trace their success to one product in particular. There’s Ford’s Model T, The Coca-Cola Company’s Coke, and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.
In the watch world, there’s Accutron, which was a revolutionary electronic watch with a tuning fork that Bulova debuted in 1960. Accutron today operates as its own brand.
Before writing this article, my knowledge about Joseph Bulova was limited. However, after diving deep into researching him, I have come to realize that Joseph Bulova was an innovative entrepreneur who not only loved to invent and visualize the future but also was guided by a strong sense of ethics and values.
Joseph Bulova emigrated from Bohemia (known today as the Czech Republic) to New York in 1870. As a fully trained watchmaker, he landed a job at Tiffany & Co. but left five years later to open a small jewelry store on Maiden Lane in Lower Manhattan. It’s interesting to note that before dedicating his life to wristwatches, Joseph Bulova already had a few inventions under his belt, including making jewelry improvements to earrings, bracelets and rings.
Joseph Bulova understood time better than most and was always one step ahead. During his time in America the country was in its golden age of industry and progress thanks to railroads, manufacturing, electricity and light. It was the perfect era for Joseph Bulova to make his mark on timekeeping design and production.
By 1912, Bulova established a plant in Bienne, Switzerland, dedicated to the production of watch components and their assembly into jeweled movements. Although he was driven by the values of quality before quantity and perfection before production, Joseph Bulova was an early pioneer of mass and standardized production of watches, which he sought to fulfill his vision of putting an affordable watch on every wrist in the United States.
Bulova was one of the first brands to recognize the shift from pocket watches to wristwatches even before World War I. This was in large part due to Joseph’s 17-year-old office assistant, John Ballard, who would later become acting president of the company for almost fifty years.
By 1927, the Bulova Watch Company moved to 580 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, complete with the Bulova Observatory on the roof — the first Observatory ever built on the top of a skyscraper. The Bulova School of Watchmaking is established in 1946. In 1948, Bulova develops the phototimer, which combined a photo-finish camera with an electronic timing mechanism. Bulova then introduced the unprecedented Accutron 214 electronic watch in 1960. In 1970, Bulova unveiled the 666 Devil Diver.
Bulova is associated with so many “firsts” in the industry, including the first radio clock, the first Dust-Tight Protector (to keep dust out of the watch movement), the first national radio commercial (1926), and the first television commercial (1941).
Bulova was also no stranger to pop culture with banners at the first Beatle concert in the United States. The Frank Sinatra Show musical variety show that ran in the early 1950s was also known as Bulova Watch Time. Earlier than this even, Bulova understood the importance of associating watches with celebrities of the era, like pioneer aviator Charles Lindbergh, Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller (who later became an actor famous for playing Tarzan), and General of the Army Omar Bradley.
The Bulova company was also involved with NASA, participating in forty-six space missions). In fact, the U.S. Air Force purchased an Accutron Astronaut watch for every pilot in the X-15 project, which ran from the late-1950s until the late-1960s. More recently, astronaut Dave Scott’s Bulova chronograph, which he wore on the Moon, sold for nearly $1.6 million at RR Auction.
Bulova was involved in many other applications such as developing timing instruments, clocks, and altimeters. However, some of Bulova’s work remains unknown as Bulova worked with the U.S. government on plenty of top-secret military projects.
Six years ago, Jeffrey Cohen, CEO of Citizen Watch America, called up Carl Rosen, a trained engineer and the former COO of Bulova, and archivist Julie Loftus and proposed creating a Bulova archive, complete with vintage watches, ads, memorabilia, sketches, designs, patents, marketing materials, and other ephemera.
The archive contains physical recordings, as well as digital electronics files stored in a database. Not only will this work serve to keep the Bulova brand alive forever, but it also lends inspiration to the current design, marketing, and sales teams. There’s plenty of material to inspire reissues or modern interpretations of vintage Bulova classics.
Furthermore, the Bulova museum is charged with showing the history and evolution of this important watch brand. Items are presented to represent key moments of both Bulova and American history. I was amazed to see unique and iconic pieces like one of the oldest Bulova watches with an open back, as well a watch that once belonged to Elvis Presley.
Today, the company has more than 2,000 physical items like advertisements, books, memorabilia and packaging, in addition to 6,000 digital documents like scans of Bulova annual reports, catalogs, commercials, and images. If you look at the packages, names of the watch lines, and advertisements, you quickly begin to see the history of the United States unfolding in front of you.
It’s clear that Bulova is an integral part of American history.
If you have the opportunity to visit the Bulova museum at the Bulova offices in the Empire State Building, I highly encourage it! Carl is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about his work.
Rosen is the encyclopedia of Bulova and he knows the ins and outs, the origins of everything, the timing, the advertisements, the why of this design or packaging, alongside a plethora of interesting anecdotes and charming stories.
If you want to learn more about the fascinating history of Bulova, I also recommend two beautiful books published by the brand. The first is “Bulova, A History of Firsts” and the second is “Bulova, A Legacy of Innovation.” A lot of documents are also accessible via the Bulova and Accutron websites.
I commend Julie and Carl for their amazing work to preserve the history of Bulova.
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
Szanto has extended its Heritage Aviator retro pilot watch series to include midnight blue and green dials.
From its inception California-based Szanto has focused on modern interpretations of retro types and these core fundamentals show through in the Heritage Aviator series.
With easy-to-read dials and an emphasis on the minutes, the new watches embrace current color trends while maintaining their technical chops.
Both new Heritage Aviator versions feature brushed stainless-steel cases water resistant to 100 meters, even without a screw-down crown. Rather, Szanto made a great choice by using a push/pull onion style safety crown that will not allow the watch to start running unless the crown is fully pushed in to the case.
A healthy dose of SuperLuminova on the hands and indices make this series easy-to-read day or night and accuracy is ensured with a Japanese Miyota quartz movement under the new dials, which themselves are protected under a hardened mineral crystal. The 41mm case is held in place with a genuine leather strap. Price: $225.
The new G-Shock GMW-B5000TVB Virtual Armor echoes the first-ever G-Shock watch, but with a sci-fi twist. Unlike the many recent iterations of this classic model, this eye-catching new edition is finished to look very familiar to gamers or anyone who regularly inhabits the virtual world.
With its familiar screen-shaped bezel, the new titanium-cased model foregoes the familiar B5000 brick pattern dial, replacing that classic look with a negative LCD and a geometric pattern printed on the crystal. Laser-engraved numbers and specs on the bezel and band also help deliver a high-spec gaming feel all around.
The case’s geometric camouflage (in black and brown ion plating) recalls virtual signaling while futuristic lugholes show off the case and the fine resin beneath. Even the function indicators mimic a sci-fi scene with their laser-engraved markings that conjure caution signs.
G-Shock technicians also coated the case back in diamond-like carbon (DLC) to enhance abrasion resistance. An orange inlay accents the light button.
Of course the radio-controlled, solar-powered GMW-B5000TVB delivers all the shock resistance and world-time features and technical specification you’d expect within G-Shock’s premium 5000 series. (See below for full specifications.)
Case: 49.3mm × 43.2mm × 13mm titanium, sapphire crystal with glare-resistant coating, screw lock back, 200-meter water resistance.
Strap: Titanium, solid with one-touch 3-fold clasp.
Time adjustment: Radio-controlled watch, Tough Solar (light powered).
World time: Five World time 39 time zones (39 cities +coordinated universal time), daylight saving on/off, Home city/World time city swapping, auto summer time (DST) switching
Stopwatch: 1/100-second stopwatch Measuring capacity: 00’00”00~59’59”99 (for the first 60 minutes) 1:00’00~23:59’59 (after 60 minutes) Measuring unit: 1/100 second (for the first 60 minutes) 1 second (after 60 minutes) Measuring modes: Elapsed time, split time, 1st-2nd place times
Timer: Countdown timer Measuring unit: 1 second Countdown range: 24 hours Countdown start time setting range: 1 minute to 24 hours (1-minute increments and 1-hour increments)
Alarm/hourly time signal:
5 daily alarms (with 1 snooze alarm)
Hourly time signal
Additional Features: Neon Illuminator (Blacklight LED), full auto-calendar (to year 2099), power saving (display goes blank to save power when the watch is left in the dark), low battery alert, approx. battery operating time: 10 months on rechargeable battery (operation period with normal use without exposure to light after charge) 22 months on rechargeable battery (operation period when stored in total darkness with the power save function on after full charge). Accuracy: ±15 seconds per month (with no signal calibration and mobile link function).
Date/month display swapping
Day display (days of the week selectable in six languages)
Regular timekeeping: Hour, minute, second, pm, month, date, and day