Monday, November 01, 2004

Impressions of Jaeger LeCoultre AMVOX1.

Having been super privileged to really see, hold and wear the prototype s/s and Ti versions, I can hopefully give a few more impressions that don’t come across in even PR photos.

For me the most striking thing was that the case lugs are so cleverly profiled that the size of the watch disappears as it goes on your wrist. Remember AMVOX1 is officially 42mm dia. I look silly trying to wear a Compressor Memovox, yet AMVOX1 fits a treat. (My wrist is 7+” in circumference, or ~180 mm). I also particularly like the shape of the crystal, sitting high off the watch, which really evokes the original Memovox Dive Alarm (Polaris).

The middle crown controls the inner bezel – just like Polaris. It is 2 way and (without breaking confidences I think I can say that) for those concerned about the legibility of it, there are subtle improvements to the numeral size and ‘0’ register of the bezel in the pipeline compared to the watches that are shown in the PR photos. However, it’s done in a way so as not to lose the ‘car instrument’ theme – so it will not be as strongly visible as, say, the bezel on Compressor Memovox or Dualmatic.

Not surprisingly the Ti version is lighter, but interestingly it has a ‘brighter’ alarm timbre. The Ti version presents less direct dial contrast to the user, but I liked the circumferential brushing of the dial, something not present on the black dial. The black dial is very slightly glossy, although as a prototype, one cannot be precisely sure if that is quite production finish…. Either way, I personally prefer the black dial – shame it won’t be available in a Ti case!

Here's the press pack spec:
* hour, minute, centre seconds
* date
* alarm

* Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 918.
* mechanical automatic movement, crafted, assembled and decorated by hand
* 260 parts
* 28,800 vibrations per hour
* power-reserve of approximately 45 hours
* metal oscillating weight segment

* layout similar to that of vintage dashboard counters
* black for the special edition in steel
* ruthenium grey for the special edition in titanium
* circular satin-brushed
* white transferred luminescent numerals, charcoal-grey powdered hour-markers, white transferred luminescent alarm indication
* calypso hands, luminescent

* diameter 42 mm
* hollowed concave sapphire crystal, hardness N° 9
* Jaeger-LeCoultre and Aston Martin engraving on the case-back
* watch tested for 1000 hours
* water resistant to 50 metres

Case materials:
* limited series of 750 in titanium
* special edition in steel

* available in grained calfskin in black or chocolate brown
* Bridge of Weir leather, as used in the interiors of Aston Martin’s Vanquish and DB9 cars available as an option

* titanium model 190 T4 40
* stainless Steel model 190 84 70

Finally, I heard differing stories on whether there would be a bracelet option. For me, I would have to say, yes please! Perhaps someone from the Manufacture can enlighten us.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Musings on my visit to Patek Philippe Boutique

Well firstly I was surprised how tiny Geneva was! But moving on, I had the added complication that my 3/4day had become boiled down to 1hr in and around the floral clock area. An opportunity to “leche la vitrine” of many watch shops, but my primary aim was to visit the PP shop. This has recently temporarily moved “round the corner” till 06. I was tended to by the smiling, pleasant and patient Mr P. Ruga. When I left, he was kind enough to furnish me with the new catalogue (book more like!) and flyers for the new models.

An interesting point that you can only exit the shop by fingerprint recognition of the doorman!

I looked at .....
5055 range complete
Travel time R

Thoughts as follows, all “IMHO” naturally:

1. The most striking inadequacy of all the watches was the noddiness of the deployants. My JLC one is much nicer, thicker & snappier. I would be tempted to have a pin buckle…….Quite a striking failing IMHO.
2. The 5055R needs more contrast; a silvery/rhodium face would do it.
3. The 5055G works well, better than most pictures of it
4. The 5110: ahhhhh the 5110, the famous 5110. Finally a play with the 5110. What a let down….. I was surprised to discover that you can’t display two time zones on it. All the ring does is show 24 hour time. Why can’t the main hands show home time and the ring shows the time of wherever else? When you push the button you just move the time of both round to the time of the indicated city. Big deal. And more later………
5. 5085. What a difference in the flesh yet again. IMHO the most underrated/controversially styled/misunderstood/love-hate watch that Patek make! I think it’s fab. It floats on the wrist. The 5055G face it uses is beautiful. But…..more later.
6. Travel time. Platinum version, fabulous, balanced, discrete. For me, the Rose gold version just looks rubbish with Arabics on.

And then it struck me. People will disagree with my opinions. Fine. The point is why can’t we have what we want? Shouldn’t this be the point of haute horologie? “The 5134P shape of hands and face in rose gold, no problem sir.” “The 5110R with a black centre dial, no problem sir.” “An annual calender without hideous Roman numerals, no problem sir.”

We are paying thousands for these confounded things and we’re not getting what we want. What are we actually paying for? What should companies like PP do better than the likes of Seiko, Citizen?

Products boil down to this: quality, individuality and cheap – choose two. Now PP customers are paying top whack so with the quality where’s the true individuality? Why can’t they provide a bespoke watch based around standard parts and shapes in any precious metal with any dial and hands? And in a sensible size range. I mean the new Annual Calender is just MASSIVE!

As for complication, shouldn’t PP be leading? On the basis that a Japanese quartz watch can be made to do anything where’s the clever PP mechanical solution. E.g. Where is the 2004 5110 with the new DST function (recently discussed on another thread)? Where is the watch that shows week numbers (the way we all seem to do business now)? (AP have at least one by the way) Where’s the double sided Patek with dress face one side, and chrono the other……..whatever?

PP seems to have identity crises going on too. What is the point in a screw locking crown on a 25m water resistant watch (5085)? And anyway, why aren’t these watches WR to at least 50m? Several thousand and you can’t even swim with it on? If they’re truly masters where’s the innovation on sealing a minute repeater slide?