Tuesday, May 23, 2006

ETA 2894-2 Modular Chronograph

You are looking at a small piece of the ETA parts list for the ETA 2894-2 movement. Part 8510 is only available as a one-piece-pre-assembled-no-spares-available MODULE that bolts on the base movement. Quite how that can be perceived as "an integrated chrono" and not "a modular chrono" I don't know. However, one manufacturer is trying to pass this off as "integrated." Fortunately now you know better.

I cannot link you to access ETA technical documents as they are held on an https server. To find them go to ETA and follow the links to the "Customer Service Portal." From there you will find a section "Technical Documents" from which you can select your calibre of interest.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Centre Minute Counter Chronographs Live

Having been brought up on a diet of conventional, illegible, counter-intuitive, arbitrarily subdivided subdials, you get used to accepting that it takes a moment to get your bearings as to how many minutes have elapsed on your chrono. Until that is, you try a centre minute chrono for the first time and BOOM, you never want to go back. The advantages of a centre minute counter are astonishing and you realise the advantages of having a brain programmed from birth to recognise the time by hand position in a microsecond.

Sinn 157 with Lemania 5100.
Read like a regulator in a snap despite the grim jpeg: 1 hour 37 mins 22.5 seconds. Now, compare:

Patek Philippe 5970.
Despite englargement:.....Errrrrr, Friday? Maybe the next generation will have evolved to read this quickly.

Once you've used one, you wonder how it can be done any other way. The problem is there are plenty of vintage options, but there aren't that many about these days new. There's still one source of the once ubiquitous Lemania 5100 in Tutima guise (below L), but not for long. One could also consider GP's Laureato Evo3 with a Dubois Dépraz 2070 module (below R):

or Sinn's recent revamped 142 St II with the same 2070 module (below)

Breguet now also do a centre minute version of their XX (above), though this now departs from the original purist 15 minute counter divided into five 3 minute intervals (see above comments about illegible, counter-intuitive, arbitrarily subdivided subdials) that was continued from the original 50s version requirement to have 5% of an hour.

And finally, if you're really desperate you could always put up with the TAG Aquagraph (ETA + DD module again) but I wasn't going to mention it. If anyone knows of any others I can add, please let me know.

Girls and Watches

Remember Cinders and the problems with her whopping Omega Broad Arrow GMT? Well now, I spotted our 2nd favourite X-Girl Halle Berry has her Versace on upside down.

Come on girls get it together.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Tourbillon Breaks Cover

Long the subject of speculation and inadvertently shown on the MJLC website during a test upload, the Master Tourbillon finally seems to break cover in the site's 'News' section. More here. Funkily, the date jumps forward from 15 to 16 to avoid covering the tourbillon cage. Functionally, it has a useful second time zone (24h), and runs an impressive 28800 vph for a tourbillon. It could only get better if it was available in steel... It is! Price TBA ;)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Chinese Taikonaut Official Watch

Space fans will be pleased I found an excellent review of the Fiyta Taikonaut watch by Ron Engels at his excellent Pilotswatch site. As you can see (right), it has a Japanese Miyota $5 quartz movement. Shame, when they have such great mechanicals available or could have even used one of their own quartz movements. Check out the large plastic spacer, mmmmm.

Seems a real shame when you realise the Chinese can produce tourbillons like this or take the column wheel Venusesque Seagull St19 reviewed by GMF (left) which would surely have been better at showcasing Chinese capability?
(Oysterquartz was the little known and under appreciated quartz Rolex of the last century (in fact made until 2001 I believe - but I digress. Check out GMF's oysterquartz.net))

In the meantime, the current taikonauts are flying with this

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Faking it at The Highest Level....

Remember back in 2000, Les Manufactures Horlogères (LMH - you know Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC and Lange) being bought from Mannesmann by Richemont? Well I had dinner the other night with one of the strategy team at Mannesmann that was involved in that decision, and I had to chuckle.

When I politely pointed out that his watch was an "unusual" Patek, he took it off to show me and lo and behold admitted it was a fake.... It turned out that he had it back even then during those negotiations and at one point someone had asked him over coffee how much his watch was worth and he'd replied casually, "Oh, about twenty five thousand ".......

Yeah, lire maybe.

Friday, May 05, 2006

2006 Jaeger-LeCoultre Photo Essay by Ming Thein

Mighty Ming takes some great photos in difficult circumstances of some of the new JLCs.

In particular the new Geographic and World Geographic show the depth of their dials.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Ramblings on Innovation in Wristwatches

I remember years ago having a discussion with a product manufacturer intrigued by their constant change in fundamental design. I asked if they felt they were gradually evolving towards a better device. The answer? “No, we just get copied so much we need to have new product to differentiate us in the crowded (and by implication, the knock-off) market.” So I wonder now that everyone has tourbillons down pat and they are now being mass produced in China, the next accomplishment for our high-end friends that came off their conference brainstorming pads is “escapement or accuracy” innovation. Bit churlish? Well, some things are clearly advantageous: take Silicon/silicium/DLC etc; but what of the new escapements?

Silicium/silicon – Discussed at length before, Dario considers that unless we have broad application of this it is not a benefit as it remains only in untouchable pieces. I agree and would encourage it’s uptake as soon as possible. One of the advantages of it also seems to be that parts can be made with identical geometry thus allowing upgrade during routine service. And of course it also allows the manufacture of parts that were previously next to impossible to make let alone accurately. This opens the door to some new mechanism innovation (particularly escapement).

And then the recent escapements. One such example, the new AP ‘Robin’ escapement, confuses me. Why? It offers an improvement in efficiency because it has the escape wheel providing direct impulse to the balance, but what else? Will it allow higher balance frequencies? Maybe, the lever should have low inertia. Will it provide better rate stability? Having half the interaction of the escape wheel with the balance is a good direction to go in. Has it got better wear characteristics? Looks like it could be semi-coaxial in the escape/pallet contact behaviour and silicon would help too. Does it self start? Probably not. Is it shock proofed? Yes.

We already have a me-too market inside of one year. Unless I see some timing/stability data I remain sceptical of many of these things being anything other than interesting diversification. No bad thing in itself, but as Purists I believe we must sort the wheat from the chaff. Now, that leads me to another point. The motivation. Ripwatch considers that trying to improve the accuracy of these obsolete systems is an irrelevance quoting “ near enough is good enough.” I think it is technically fascinating to continue to improve the accuracy of the mechanical watch. I don’t think doing this is irrelevant like “improving the accuracy of a slide rule.” As, in fact some of the cylindrical slide rule designs could achieve pretty astonishing accuracies due to their long effective scale lengths…. I look forward to really worthwhile improvements - so please Switzerland, let's see some data.