Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

The Escapement has taken some time off to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. We will return early in 2010 refreshed and ready to pass along more news, and opinion on the watch industry. We look forward to gaining more readers, as well as working along side some of the best sources for information in the industry.

Coming in early January; a profile and interview with a smaller American based brand that is up and coming in the industry.

We hope you have a happy and fruitful 2010!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Concord's C1 QuantumGravity Tourbillon No. 1

Just a little something extra for those who are interested in such things. Earlier today Concord posted a new video on their official YouTube channel which shows the first of their C1 QuantumGravity Tourbillons getting cased and tested before it gets shipped to its new owner [apparently to arrive for Christmas delivery]. This watch is the first of only 10 pieces that will be made of the outrageous watch. So you have potentially 9 more chances to pick one up.

Regular readers may recall that the C1 QuantumGravity was the first recipient of The Escapement's ultra prestigious "Craziest Watch of the Year Award".

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Your Own Personal....Hublot?

Groundbreaking English electro-pop artists Depeche Mode have had a successful, and at times rocky, world tour this past year to support the release of their 12th album 'Sounds of the Universe' which hit the stores in April. Depeche Mode recently announced that they would also be performing a benefit concert at London's Royal Albert Hall on February 10th, 2010 to support Teenage Cancer Trust an organization that assists younger cancer sufferers.

To commemorate the event and give the charity a large boost in its bottom line; Swiss watchmaker Hublot announced that they will be producing 12 special edition 'Big Bang' series watches [which it looks like they are nicknaming "pop"]. The dials of each watch will feature the album art work for all of Depeche Mode's releases. Hublot will put the watches up for auction on a dedicated website beginning February 1st, 2010, all of the proceeds from the sales will go directly to the Teenage Cancer Trust. The auction website will become available through both Hublot's , and Depeche Mode's official sites.

Depeche Mode:
Andrew Fletcher, Dave Gahan, & Martin Gore

No photos of the watches have been released as of yet, but I will get them up as soon as they appear. Those interested in attending the concert can purchase tickets through

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pierre DeRoche Swings for the Fences

Pierre DeRoche, the small Swiss firm located in Le Lieu, known for their technically complex timepieces with a flare for the avante-garde, officially announced today they have brought on Japanese baseball star pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada as an ambassador for their brand. In a ceremony on November 22nd, Mr. Wada was presented with a Pierre DeRoche GrandCliff TNT Royal Retro in celebration of him coming on board.

Tsuyoshi Wada is a superstar among Japanese baseball fans known widely for his time on their national baseball team in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. His outstanding playing was rewarded with a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics and a gold medal in the 2006 world championship. Along with excellent performance inside the lines of the baseball diamond Mr. Wada is also highly respected for his charitable work outside of the stadium; mainly focusing on work with children which includes a highly revered vaccination program that was organized by his foundation.

Matching the number on his jersey; Pierre Dubois, CEO of Pierre DeRoche, presented Tsuyoshi with the twenty-first [No. 21] GrandCliff TNT Royal Retro watch from the limited production piece of which only 201 will be made. Below are the nuts and bolts of the piece that Mr. Wada was presented.

The Pierre DeRoche GrandCliff TNT Royal Retro


Exclusive self-winding Dubois Dépraz calibre, 58 jewels. Decorated, engraved oscillating weight. 12-pivot central bridge and 6 chamfered and satin-finished seconds bridges . Moving retrograde hand indicators. Minute wheel with Pierre DeRoche logo. Hands affixed by a transversal pin. 6 retrograde seconds hands on gears; strip-spring return. Date at 6 o'clock.

Hours, minutes, retrograde seconds in six 10-second sectors, date.

Black PVD titanium middle, steel bezel, horns, crown-shield and crown, 47.5 mm in diameter.

Crocodile with safety folding clasp.

GRCTNT10005ACTI0-001CRO - Limited edition 201 pieces

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Felix & Martin Checking In

I know, I know it's been a while since I posted something for that I sincerely apologize. I could go into a list of reasons why...but really, who cares?

Anyway, I was greeted with an email this morning from one of my favorite, young watch firms Urwerk stating they are going to be unveiling their latest creation in the middle of January 2010. There was an invitation to join them at the Four Seasons Hotel in Les Bergues to see what was next in their line. Unfortunately I will not be able to attend, unless someone want to pony up some airline tickets, and a hotel reservation for me...Anyone?.....No? OK I will however be receiving the press kit for the new piece, which I presume will be sent to me electronically around the time of the showing. I will, of course, be doing something up on it as soon as I receive information.

Urwerk founders: Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei

The email notifying me, and the registration page had no hints of any kind as to what we are about to see. It could be yet another variation on the UR-202 platform or something even more off the wall...I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sneak Peak: Damasko In-House Movement

The young mechanical watch firm Damasko out of Germany [established in 1994] has been working on a completely in-house manufactured movement for about 3 years. A quick visit to the "Technology" area of their website and you see that Damasko is focusing a lot of it's attention on producing an oil free escapement created from a 'Diamond Like Carbon' [DLC] material that runs completely dry [without lubrication], that has superior wear resistance. Damasko initially took their concept and tested it out in existing movements [i.e. the Valjoux 7750] to see how it would hold up, with the results being very positive. A quiet announcement from Damasko through some smaller avenues shows that all is going according to plan, and that not only has the escapement been a success, but their plans to create an in-house movement are rapidly coming to fruition.

In a post from "Mike Stuffler" Moderator @ Watchuseek:

"Damasko is currently applying for a new patent. Damasko has developed a new production technique to produce hairsprings.

After three years of development the “Epi-Poly -Silicon” (EPS®) is ready for serial production.

It is a poly crystalline silicone which is for the first time produced as a layer out of vapour deposition.

Due to the vapour deposition it is possible to create crystals in nanometer size which makes that material a perfect substance for mechanical applications.

The new movement named the "A 35" will make it's public debut in a few months and will feature: a new patented winding mechanism, a ceramic/steel mix rotor bearing which takes away that parts need for lubrication, along with the mentioned DLC escapement, and in-house hairspring.

Damasko has apparently invested over 3 million Euro into this project, with most of that money going into developing the machinery to keep everything local. Starting now all pallets, wheels, pinions, barrels, rotors, bearings, balances, escapements, decorative engravings, spotting(s) and galvanic processes will be produced, and performed in-house.

A big thanks to Mike over at Watchuseek for passing this info along!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Feature: Odds & Ends

Every once in a while I come across a couple of stories that I think are pretty interesting but there really isn't too much more I could write about the subject that isn't already there. I decided that when I get a couple of those compiled I would make a single post about them. More likely than not the news will not be hot off the press, but I still think it's worthy enough to share.

For now I'm just going to call it "Odds & Ends" if I can think of a better name I'll change it.

I have two stories that appealed to me for various reasons recently; so here goes.

---- Story I ----

Quite the Amazing Gesture

It's no secret that I am a fan of all things wristwatch, it is among other things a great passion of mine. Over the past couple of years for various reasons, I have had a growing love for the continent of Africa as well, it's an absolutely stunning place in every sense of the word and I find myself yearning to go back when possible. Bearing that in mind, I was pretty happy to see a small story in the news regarding a wristwatch and the country of Ghana.

First Lady Michelle Obama with First Lady Ernestina Mills of Ghana

During President & Mrs. Obama's September visit to Africa the First Lady of Ghana, Mrs. Ernestina Mills, presented First Lady Michelle Obama with a stunning Backes & Strauss automatic timepiece. The 18kt rose gold watch contains 2.35 carats of diamonds with its dial adorned with the flag of the Republic of Ghana. Contained within the graphic of the flag is the display for a moonphase complication. The watch was presented to her on behalf of Ghana by Backes & Struass, and the African Watch Trading Co Ltd. This is certainly no slouch of a watch but its extravagance comes second to the understanding that diamonds and gold are two of Ghana's greatest resources.

It wasn't so long ago that the watch world was a buzz about President Obama's Jorg Gray 6500 Series Chronograph. It's nice to see that now Mrs. Obama can join the party with a beautiful piece of the watchmaking craft for herself.

---- Story II ----

Joe Girardi Signature NOA Watch

I'm sure this will make some people grumble just a little bit but I am a huge New York Yankees fan, and have been all of my life. Needless to say I was very happy to see the Yankees take home their 27th championship earlier this month. It was right before that final win in the World Series that I stumbled across a special edition watch developed by NOA Watches ["None Of the Above"] in conjunction with Joe Girardi, the New York Yankees manager.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi wearing a NOA piece during a press conference

The watch is a special edition, limited to 100 pieces and is currently [unless it's sold out already] for sale at Manfredi Jewels in Greenwich, CT. Known for their 3-D style dial work this NOA piece is no different. The dial contains their familiar raised indices along with a Yankees logo, an impression of Joe Girardi's signature, and each watches number in the run of 100. I bet you can't guess who got "No. 027". All this, of course, colored in navy blue. Inside of the 42mm case is a 3 hand + date automatic movement, sandwiched in between sapphire crystals on both front & back. Keeping the watch secured to 99 other happy owners wrists is a navy blue rubber strap.

The retail price for the watch is $2,400, but expect to pay more if they are sold out and wind up for sale elsewhere. Proceeds of the original sales have gone to help "Catch 25", Joe Girardi's foundation which provides support to families and individuals across the country who are challenged by ALS, Alzheimer’s, cancer and fertility issues.

Trust me, if my wife wouldn't kill me on the spot, I would already have one. This is a must have for any Yankees fan that knows their watches...and can afford it.


So there it is..."Odds & Ends", hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading!

Another Lawsuit for The Swatch Group: Op-Ed

There is a funny thing that happens when a recession hits, all of these things that were 'OK' to do during a time of prosperity all at once come under loads of scrutiny. A couple of days ago I was clued into a story, stemming from Australia, about yet another lawsuit that was filed against the mighty Swatch Group by the former general manager of their Australian branch; Mark Watson. The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Watson was wrongfully released from his position at Swatch when he refused to break an Australian law stating that Swatch forced retailers to charge their suggested retail prices, and not allow any form of discount to the customer. In more common terms; price fixing. Though Watson's lawsuit appears to be for personal loss and damages from losing his position it brings up those now age old questions; is The Swatch Group too big, and do its business maneuvers have too much influence in the market?

Let's just get right down to it; Swatch is a massively huge company. It's seemingly really difficult to buy a Swiss watch now without them having some hand in the production somewhere along the line. A quick look at the firms they control and you'll see its a veritable who's who of modern watchmaking. They are the principal owner of many exclusive luxury firms, moderate to lower end brands, and what is one of the largest suppliers [at least until 2010] of mechanical and quartz movements in the world. When taking a step back from it all, its really hard to say that they are not a monopoly.

The love him, or hate him, Swatch Group CEO is Nicolas Hayek; a very outspoken and sometimes overly arrogant, character who some think has too much of a hand in what happens in the industry. For example; in 2006 Hayek announced that his movement manufacturing firm [ETA] would stop selling blank movements [sort of a drop n' go watch movement system] to companies outside of the Swatch Group umbrella. This took the industry and even the Swiss government by surprise, who later cut a deal with Hayek to continue to supply movements until 2010 so the industry could reorganize itself. That 'bridge the gap' deal is pretty much an admission by the Swiss government that Swatch was a monopoly. Since that time Swatch has only grown larger, and acquired more brands and part manufacturers.

Is Nicolas Hayek missing his top hat and monocle?

When asked why Hayek stated at the time that the industry had grown stale and lacked innovation, and he felt that cutting off the supply watch movements it would spur other firms to create more. Since that announcement many Swiss companies have indeed become 'manufacturers' [a term given to watch firms that produce their own in-house movements from scratch]. The problem is the companies that were able to become manufacturers did so because of consistent high sales, and a fat bottom line. They had the capital to invest in developing new movements. There was a period where moderate and lower end brands were caught twisting in the wind while they searched for an alternative supplier and began to use their ETA movements more sparingly. In turn this game of simple supply and demand was proven correctly when a moderate end watch brand with ETA movements began to raise their prices pointing a phantom finger in The Swatch Group's direction for blame.

Now that the dust has begun to settle it looks like a good portion of the mid level brands have turned to the place that every struggling industry turns to when they need materials...China. The Chinese watch industry has subsequently grown in scale since Hayek's announcement. The quality of their movements has greatly increased, and now many Asian watch companies now offer high end complications, once only offered by Swiss companies, at a fraction of the cost. I'm thinking when Hayek stated he wanted to spur innovation he didn't really have China in mind. The Chinese are now being taken more seriously as it helps fill this gap, and at the same time begin to make a name for themselves. Unfortunately the Chinese still have the stigma of poor working conditions and the production of counterfeit watches [and not just the $20 "Rolex" on the streets of New York City, but scary good, functional representations of very high end pieces] and they would need to do more to clean up their and focus on their own creativity before they are welcomed more into the "big game".

I'm positive there are few who would disagree that The Swatch Group is definitely a monopoly in one way or another. That said; you really don't hear much from other companies in the industry accusing them of it. And yes, the government of Switzerland raises concern, and even has investigated them more than once for anti-trust violations but when it comes right down to it; is Switzerland going to mess with one of it's largest sources of financial revenue? Probably not. I would expect more slaps on the wrist, and compromised arrangements to be hammered out between the two. The whole of the watchmaking world seems to be fine with the way Swatch operates...Does that make it OK?

What it comes down to at the end of the day is; do you want said brand of watch, and are you willing to pay for it? The average customer is not too concerned with the practices of a parent company. Be it the Euro, the Yuan, the Yen, the Franc, or the Dollar...The might buck still rules all [even when its worse less than it has been in years].

As always I welcome any opinions.

Audemars Piguet: Life in the Fast Lane

Not so long ago [August 25th] we put out a story announcing the new partnership between the Alinghi sailing team, and Hublot watches. One of the aspects covered in that post was that Alinghi previously had sponsorship from Audemars Piguet [AP].

Now, I know you were all worried about AP and how they were going to survive without the partnership with Alinghi...Fear not; it was announced yesterday that they have hitched their trailer to another professional sailing team. Typically known for joining forces with sailing teams that race in The America's Cup, AP's newest wave riding friend is the good ship "l’Hydroptère" skippered by Alain Thébault and a ten-man crew.

I can already hear you asking; 'So if not racing in The America's Cup what is the purpose of the l’Hydroptère?' The answer is a simple one, Speed. On November 8th the l’Hydroptère was confirmed as the world's fastest flying trimaran holding an average speed of 50.17 knots over one nautical mile. During the same series of runs the l’Hydroptère also broke the speed record over a distance of 500 meters with an average speed of 51.36 knots. Ultimately the team wants to continue their record breaking runs their next venture where l’Hydroptère is to sale around the world in 40 days, leaving from Lake Geneva in Switzerland in the summer of 2010.

There has been no announcement as of yet whether or not AP will create a special edition piece honoring the l’Hydroptère team, and their record breaking runs.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Armin Strom Video Review

Kyle over at the Perpetuelle blog posted a video review of an Armin Strom Blue Chip skeleton watch.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009 Updated for 2010

Breitling officially announced the launch of their updated website for 2010, today. As you would imagine the site still has that familiar feel to those who have frequented it in recent years. As with their previous web offerings Breilting still uses aircraft imagery to promote the firms close relationship with avionics history.

In normal fashion you are first greeted with a warning not to buy their product online, which is immediately followed by a short introduction film showcasing the Breitling aerial demonstration team. The center piece for the new site appears to be, of course, the B01 Chronomat which houses Breitling's first ever fully in-house produced movement, the B01 ["Breitling - 01"].

New features that caught my attention were the much easier menus to navigate around the site [previous versions of the site grew tedious very quickly] and the new one click access to areas to get information about maintenance of your watch, obtaining their recently released iPhone / iPod Touch application, and information about the B01 movement. Plus, if you happen you happen to have an extra $175.00 lying around you can also order "Breitling: The Book" directly on the site. A review of the extensive book is available HERE.

Another fun feature about the new digs are what is shown as "The Configurator". This allows the surfer to play with the various models of Breitling watches piece by piece and create your perfect version. After you are satisfied with your monster you can email it directly to Breitling and they will be able to notify you of availability. For those who can't run out and get a new Breitling, if your model is still available it's a great way to see how that strap you always wondered about would look on your piece. There is a sample video of how it works HERE.

It's nice to see Breitling making their website more user friendly and not hiding all the goodies they offer.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Vintage Rolex Found in Boston...Is it Yours?

As I was leaving for work this morning I came across a wristwatch in the oddest fashion. The gorgeous found vintage piece had Rolex printed on the dial, so I snapped some pictures, had some people who know such things check them out and it appears to be genuine as far as we can all tell.

If you live in the Boston area and have misplaced, or had a vintage Rolex watch stolen recently; please contact me at with information about the lost watch, and if everything checks out, I will gladly put you on the path of recovering it. It's quite a beautiful piece of horological history, and I would love to see back on the wrist of its rightful owner.

Note: The Rolex pictured is NOT the watch that was found, nor is it the same model.

Thanks to all who have assisted me today in gathering information about this piece.

*UPDATE* - I just got word from James Dowling; co-author of Rolex Wristwatches an Unauthorized History, and Jake over at Jake's Rolex Blog that the watch I found is in fact a genuine Rolex.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Breitling Source Review: Eklund Pilot

I would first like to apologize for the lack of posts lately. It would seem that the industry news has slowed down just a bit, but I hear that it will be picking up again very soon.

In the meantime I figured I would do what has become a normal routine of posting the latest video review from Breitling Source. This time our host takes a good look at an Eklund pilot's watch.


A written review from Breitling Source can also be found HERE.

More to come from The Escapement!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

First Look: Swatch Automatic Chronograph

News about Swatch producing an automatic chronograph for their line hit the web a few months ago from BaselWorld '09. I was certainly intrigued to see what Swatch would come up with. While browsing a favorite watch forum [Watchuseek] this morning I was treated to what was my first look at the new Swatch. The original thread where I saw the watch was posted by Tony Li [photo credits also go to him], and he stated in his post that the watch was currently available in Hong Kong, and is said to make its worldwide appearance on October 15th.

As you can see it has the characteristic plastic case [there will also be a steel case version of the watch], with a partial exhibition case-back. It also states that the top crystal is sapphire, which leads me to believe that the case-back crystal is mineral. I am still trying to determine if the movement is a variation of the Valjoux 7750, or something else. The subdial configuration leads me to believe it is in fact a 7750. *Update* - After doing a little searching I found out that the movement is actually a: ETA Caliber C01.211, a fifteen-jewel, 3Hz movement with a 46 hour power reserve. This movement has also been used in a couple of Tissot pieces including; the ladies PRC-200 Automatic Chronograph, and the Couturier Auto Chrono.

The ETA C01.211

All in all I find it to be a pleasing watch to look at, and am very curious to see it in person. The going price for these pieces is estimated at a very low $360.00 - 380.00 [USD] which is very impressive for an automatic chronograph of any origin, be it Switzerland, Japan, or China.

These are not limited edition pieces and will be available to all who would like one. The full line offered by Swatch [a total of 5 variations] can be seen, and purchased, through their official website HERE.

Below is a quick spot Swatch produced for as an introduction to their newest line:

More to come as I gather more information about this piece.

Special thanks to Tony Li for granting permission to use his photographs.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

CX Swiss Military Watch’s ‘20,000 FEET’: Keeping Time in Any Condition

Originally introduced at Basel World 2009, it was officially announced on October 6th that the ‘20,000 FEET’ by CX Swiss Military Watch has indeed gone into a limited production run of 1000 pieces. The watch certainly has created some buzz online due to its outrageous ability to withstand…Well just about everything.

The ‘20,000 FEET’ is a follow up to CX’s 2005 world record breaking offering of the ‘12,000 FEET’. What possible reason would CX have for besting a piece of their own design? You guessed it — in 2008, a competitor’s watch beat the depth record that was originally held by the ‘12,000 FEET’. Though to create a piece that was a “record breaker” was only part of their plan; they wanted to the watch to be functional, legible and once again contain a mechanical chronograph movement (COSC certified Valjoux 7750). The technical team had to develop a tank that was capable of simulating the conditions that would equal the pressure of an 800 bar (8,000 meter) dive. One particular area that caused a problem was finding a proper way to affix the 10mm thick (that is not a typo) sapphire crystal to the titanium case. Prototypes for the ‘20,000 FEET’ started to appear in late 2008, and the rigorous testing soon followed.
When viewing the watch head on, it honestly doesn’t look too remarkable. It kind of comes across as just another sports diver with a chronograph movement, lume in the right places and legibility literally written all over its dial. It’s when the watch is viewed from the side that it really makes its statement. Clocking in at a whopping 28.5mm thick this beast will most certainly have a presence on the wrist. Don’t let the fact that its 46mm monster case is made from titanium fool you — the watch weighs in at a hefty 265 grams (for a point of reference a Breitling Super Avenger chronograph weighs just under 154 grams…and that’s a pretty substantial watch). I, for one, cannot wait to see a variety of photos of this thing on a wearer’s wrist.

I know what you’re thinking — it’s a gimmick, something designed to garner CX some attention and though part of me agrees with that presumption it’s obvious that CX wants this to be a functional diver. The overall design of the watch says take me under water, deeeeeep under water. Features include a helium valve, extra large crown, screw down pushers and large tactile bezel so all operations can be done with diver’s gloves on, and even with the pushers in the unscrewed position the watch is still rated at 300 meters.

So, did it break the record it was designed to? Absolutely it did; on January 5th 2009 Guinness World Records certified that the ‘20,000 FEET’ was in fact the deepest diving watch that still functioned at 6,000 meters. Apparently not content with holding the dive record they started to perform other tests, just to see how tough the watch actually is. Rather than describe what exactly was done, I think its probably better that you view it yourself:

Kinda gives the term “beater” a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?

CX Swiss Military Watch has dedicated a website strictly for the ‘20,000 FEET’ and its simple enough to remember; There you can find more video of the watch being put through it paces , along with more information on its development, and other technical spec goodies. If you would like to be 1 of 1000 lucky owners of the ‘20,000 FEET’, be prepared to shell out about $4,500 USD (2,998 EUR) plus VAT.

The above article was originally written by Craig M. for:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Concord & Turiaf Team Up

Concord, in partnership with the French born NBA player Ronny Turiaf, has announced the production of a limited edition piece in their popular C1 line, named the “C1 Heart2Heart”. Proceeds from the watch sales will benefit Turiaf’s “Heart to Heart Foundation” which he established in 2008 after his successful open heart surgery and subsequent return to the NBA. The foundation’s goal is to provide treatment and electrocardiogram [ECG] testing for underprivileged patients suffering from heart disease, with a particular focus on children. Turiaf was only 22 years old at the time of his open heart surgery, and returned to play in the NBA after only 6 months of recovery. He is currently playing for the NBA’s Golden State Warrior’s and is a member of the French national team.

Peeking out from underneath a 3.3mm sapphire crystal of the C1 Heart2Heart chronograph watch will be blood red accents highlighting the rotating seconds disc, the central seconds hand, and the saddle stitching on the rubber coated alligator strap which is attached directly to the bulky case rather than using a traditional lug system. In homage to man behind the foundation the number “21” [which is Turiaf’s jersey number] was singled out on the date wheel and will also be in this same red color. The case-back will house a sapphire crystal to view the ETA Valgranges based COSC movement with its black rotor with vertically applied Côtes de Genève. The Heart to Heart Foundation’s logo and Ronny Turiaf’s signature will also adorn the underside of the boldly designed case.

Concord has stated that the limited production run will yield only 25 Heart2Heart pieces.


The above article was originally written by Craig M. for:

...To a Deluxe Apartment in the Sky

Over the past month or so I have entered into conversations with Kyle over at the First in Watches: Perpetuelle Blog. After some friendly back and forth He inquired if I would like to contribute some articles to his blog. After the initial shock of even being asked I happily accepted the opportunity to stretch my legs out a bit and write on Perpetuelle's behalf. I am happy to announce that my first offering for Perpetuelle has gone up today.

Originally launched in August of 2008, Perpetuelle focuses on industry news and reviews from the luxury watch market. Along with the blog Kyle has started what he refers to as a bespoke online forum so fans and collectors alike can keep in contact with each other sharing information, thoughts and any other watch related stuff they can think of. A new format of the forum will launch later this year, and it promises to be very user friendly, and customizable.

Fear not loyal readers...[both of you]...The Escapement is not going anywhere. I will still continue to write for this blog as much as possible along with contributing to Perpetuelle. You really won't notice any major differences here on The Escapement. Basically when I write an article for Perpetuelle I will post it here after it officially publishes there. I will, however, clearly state that the post was written for Perpetuelle first and all links will take you to that original post.

Any other writing I do for The Escapement will appear as it has in the clever sense of humor still included free of charge [like that humorous little quip right there].

To check out Perpetuelle for yourself, which I highly recommend by the way, click on their logo below.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tag Heuer Monaco V4: No, Really!

They said it couldn't be done, and that it would never make its way to market...It's always fun to prove people wrong. Tag Heuer announced that their seemingly perpetual prototype watch, the Monaco V4, will finally enter a limited production of 150 pieces and become available for sale to the public this coming November. Watch enthusiasts have been reading about the Monaco V4 since 2004 with many doubting that Tag Heuer would be able to pull off the bold design. The announcement was made by Tag Heuer at the 2009 Only Watch Charity Auction.

So, what's the big deal? The Monaco V4 will be the worlds first belt driven watch with a linear automatic winding system. This is a first for mechanical watches which are typically run by a series of gear trains, wheels, and pinions and are either wound manually or with a rotor attached to the movement which rotates freely. Think of the V4 as having a literal micro-engine that has a tungsten piston to generate power. Tag Heuer has won two patents for its design over the past 5 years. What a perfect way to honor the Monaco's storied racing legacy. The original Monaco became wildly popular when worn by Steve McQueen in the 1971 film "Le Mans". Since then Tag Heuer and auto racing seemed to go hand in hand, including becoming the official timer for F1 races. Tag Heuer still incorporates McQueen's image to promote the Monaco line.

The linear winding block [center] and quad barrels in V formation

Taking cues from the original Monaco design, which has been altered very little over the years, the V4 will have an updated case coming in at about 41mm. Boasting sapphire crystal and 3 part exhibition caseback, to show off Tag Heuer's groundbreaking movement.

Below is an official promotional film that has been making its way around the web since 2004. It shows the concept of the belt driven movement, and linear winding system. You will notice some minor design changes between the watch in the film, and the production model.

The first run of 75 will be available to the buying public this November, with a second round appearing in June of 2010. Every Monaco V4 will be hand assembled by Tag Heuer's Master Watchmaker Denis Badin.

The cost? Well, the V4 will run you a cool $98,000.00 [About 100,000.00 Swiss Francs]...But honestly, that's small price to pay to be one of the cool kids on your block. Economy be damned, these things are going to sell out pretty quickly. It's great to see Tag Heuer deliver on its years of anticipation.

Thanks to the ViaLuxe Blog for the heads up on this news!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Swatch Group Under Antitrust Investigation

Big news regarding the worlds largest watch manufacturer, The Swatch Group, came out today unfortunately it's not really of the positive nature for them. It was announced that they were being investigated by a Swiss antitrust body for possible abuse of its dominant market position. Those in the know were well aware of The Swatch Groups plan, announced in 2004, to stop selling blank movements to outside watch companies. This sent something of a shock wave through an industry that heavily relied on their ETA brand of mechanical movements. Swatch Group co-founder Nicolas Hayek [pictured] claimed that he felt as though the industry needed to be shaken up, and that he wanted to spur more innovation. At that time they were investigated by the same antitrust body where a deal was struck that ETA would continue to provide blank movements through 2010 to give time for the Swiss watch industry to plan and adjust to the change. Since that announcement from The Swatch Group and with 2010 looming several higher end manufacturers that traditionally relied on ETA to supply blank movements did begin creating their own in-house movements.

Full text of article from Reuters:

ZURICH, Sept 15 (Reuters) - The Swiss competition watchdog has launched an investigation against Swatch Group (UHR.VX) unit ETA Manufacture Horlogere Suisse SA for potential abuse of a dominant market position.

A pre-investigation yielded signs ETA had abused its potentially dominant position in the market for mechanical clockworks, the Competition Commission said on Tuesday.

Swatch Group, the world's largest watchmaker and best known for colourful plastic Swatch watches, said it was confident the results of the investigation would be positive.

"The timing for such an investigation is rather bad as since the beginning of 2009 most of the third-party clients have massively cancelled or postponed their orders," a spokeswoman for the group said in a statement.

Third-party watchmakers have cut back on orders for components from Swatch Group as the Swiss watch industry grapples with its sharpest drop in demand in around 20 years as a result of the economic slump.

The commission was mainly investigating whether ETA sold products at better conditions than other Swatch Group companies than to third-party firms, Patrik Ducrey from the commission said. The investigation was set to take about one year.

At 0754 GMT, shares in Swatch Group had slipped 0.7 percent to 236.80 Swiss francs, while the DJ personal and household goods index was flat..SXQP

The commission said it had received a number of complaints after ETA raised prices and announced new payment conditions last year.

ETA had already been investigated in 2004 after announcing it would stop delivery of clockwork kits -- so called Ebauches -- where it had market share of over 95 percent in the relevant market. The case was settled after ETA agreed to continue supplying Ebauches until the end of 2010. (Reporting by Sven Egenter; Editing by Dan Lalor)

* Watchdog to check if ETA abused market dominant position

* ETA produces mechanical clockworks

* Swatch shares down 0.7 pct, under performing European peers


In a press release issued from The Swatch Group regarding the opening of the investigation they stated:

"The Swatch Group is confident that the results of this investigation will again be positive for ETA.

However, the timing for such an investigation seems unfortunate. Since approximately once year, the majority of the external ETA clients have massively cancelled or postponed their orders, without any consideration for the ETA personnel, its infrastructure nor the investments which have been considerable also at ETA due to the continuous pressure of the COMCO as a consequence of the complaints from third parties."

At last check Swatch Groups stock was down slightly over 1%, probably due to the announcement.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Swiss Army Ambassador Day-Date Review

Apologies for the minimal amount of posting in the past week. Some personal obligations popped up that needed to be handled. I have been updating the Twitter page regularly, so I hope that's been a source of some interesting news for you. I am slowly but surely working my way in to get information directly from watch companies, and other industry sources in the hopes that I can bring you news and information as it happens.

In the mean time; our friends over at Breitling Source posted yet another comprehensive video review. This video focuses on the Victorinox/Swiss Army Ambassador Day-Date automatic watch. The Swiss Army line is often over looked, but they do offer great watches at a fair price. If the pre-owned market is where you prefer to shop for watches eBay is a great source of Swiss Army pieces especially if you are looking for a Swiss Made automatic watch at a great value.

The nuts & bolts of the watch reviewed:
  • Swiss Made with Mechanical Automatic Movement [ETA 2836]
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • Water Resistant to 10 ATM (100 meter, 330 feet)
  • Steel case
  • Luminous hands and hour markers
  • Screw-in caseback
  • Display caseback
  • Day-Date Display
  • English/Spanish weekday
  • Steel bracelet
  • Double locking safety clasp
  • 41mm case diameter
Thanks to Breitling Source for another great video review.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hautlence Unveils New HLq Model

Courtesy of our friends at: TheTimeTV.

Hautlence, one of my favorite independent Swiss firms, has put forth the latest of their fascinating jump hour pieces. The HLq02 'Honeycomb stitch' is the continuation of a line of limited production pieces that have put Hautlence on the map. It's no secret that I am a big fan of any manufacturer that pushes the envelope of traditional watchmaking, and forces us to re-think how we can tell time. I see Hautlence as one of those brands.

Their newest offering expands on the ideas of the HLs and HLq models moving it further into the avante garde with a honeycomb stitch dial pattern, whose theme runs consistent through the piece.

Technical specifications: HLQ02 Honeycomb stitch
-Dedicated Calibre HAUTLENCE HLQ. Jumping date, Jumping hour, retrograde minute and running second
-Manual winding mechanical movement.
-Power reserve 40h
-Oscillation: 21600 BPH
-24 Jewels
-Diameter: 43.8mm / thick: 10.65mm
-Titanium and white gold case
-Honeycomb stitch dial
-Back decoration:
-Fine brushed galvanic treatment black Gold
-Manually angled bridges
-Identification and numbering plate on the back
-Black Varnish in the engraving
-Water resistant to 30 meters (3ATM)
-Sapphire crystal with angled edges, multi layer anti reflect
-Screwed sapphire case back with stamps and the official engraving
-Polished crown with HAUTLENCE logo
-Black Hand sewn genuine Louisiana alligator strap with square scales, adjustable pin bar to fit on the case and horns, ardillon Buckle

I can hardly wait to see what they do next...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

One to Watch: Alpha Watch USA

Established in Hong Kong by brothers Chun-Keung and Chun-Feung Chan; The Alpha Watch Company has been selling very affordable watches with European styling since 1993. They have been something of an underground sensation among collectors for a few years with many of them trumpeting Alpha's value, and quality. Most of the pieces that Alpha Watch produces would fall into what is politely called by some an "homage" watch, and what is not so politely called by others a "rip off" of a preexisting popular design. The battle over homage watches continues with as many people loving them as there are hating them.

For those not familiar; an homage piece is one that gives the wearer the look of a well known high end watch [i.e. the Rolex Submariner, among others] usually with some other minor changes so as not to infringe on the logo trademarks of the original manufacturer. The up side is that they generally cost considerably less than its counterpart, the down side being that many feel is dilutes the originals design, and is bad for the market. Understand Alpha is certainly not the first to make such pieces, companies like Timex and Casio have been making watches influenced by popular designs for years. That's how it goes in business, if it makes an impact it gets copied in some form or another. One of the concerns is that homage watches coming from some Chinese manufacturers are potentially aiding the production of counterfeit watches...But that's a discussion for another day.

Back to Alpha; doing a search on most watch forums of Alpha will usually bring up several discussions. Most of the reaction regarding watches purchased through their Hong Kong online store has been generally positive with, of course, some negative comments regarding occasional quality control issues. The sometimes spotty quality control can be pretty common among Chinese watch manufacturers. The one thing people can't deny is that a lot of watch collectors certainly like to talk about, and buy up Alpha watches.

In mid 2009 a announcement was posted on the Watchuseek forum's Chinese Mechanical Watch area that Alpha Watch USA was to be established, and that many of the wishes, and some complaints discussed by forum members across the web about Alpha Hong Kong [HK] would be addressed. After a short delay the official US website opened with an initial offering that included products and services buyers have been asking about for years, that Alpha HK wasn't really open to doing on a small production run basis.

This announcement was made by Mark Lewis of Illinois; the founder and owner of Alpha Watch USA. Mark was last employed in the telecommunications field where he has had many successes and actually holds U.S. and International patents related to VoIP [Voice Over IP]. Among Mark's many hobbies [including amateur astronomy and drag racing] is, you guessed it, collecting watches. After seeing how popular Alpha HK was, and his desire of fulfilling the customer's wants and needs he decided to see if opening Alpha Watch US was possible. Stating after countless hours research and finding the right partner he was ready to take the plunge. He found that partner in Chris Youra a Project Manager of a marketing firm in California, who will be acting on behalf of Alpha USA as their design, marketing, and web development departments.

Starting out Alpha US has more or less been acting as an official distributor of Alpha HK's product line in North America creating it's own online store and offering many of Alpha HK's most popular designs. Though it doesn't end there, from the very beginning Mark and Chris have been speaking with fans of the brand and asking them questions about where they wanted Alpha US to go...and they actually started to implement the answers. Immediately on Alpha US's website, buyers now had the option to purchase things like display case backs to retrofit their favorite Alpha HK watches [which was a long time customer request], along with a timegrapher service option on new watch purchases [for a small fee], to see just how accurate their latest Alpha watch purchase is. I asked Mark what about Alpha Watch HK made him want to become the US distributor, he stated: "Alpha Watch has a pretty good reputation in the marketplace and have been around for a long time. That coupled with the fact that they have good manufacturing capacity and are willing to do just about anything from a design standpoint makes them a very suitable partner. Their quality control is actually pretty good for what they deliver on a daily basis which makes our job here in the United States easier."

One of the biggest questions was how Alpha Watch US would differ from the Hong Kong based operations, Mark replied: "Well, for one, we are offering a more service based approach. From fielding questions to interacting on various forums to keep in touch with our customers takes us in a totally different direction from Alpha HK. In addition, offering testing services such as with our Timegrapher substantially differentiates us not only from Alpha HK but most all other manufacturer/distributor/retailers at the price point we are selling." continuing "The only aspect of business we share is the fact that we both sell strictly on the Internet. They are a manufacturer and retailer of their own product. We, on the other hand are a distribution arm for them. That said, I'd like them to focus more on the manufacturing end and less of the retail end but that will take time." It's obvious from Mark's statements that he and Chris are looking to expand Alpha's market and product line beyond what is available from Alpha HK. The new relationship had me curious about how the brothers Chan in Hong Kong would react to Mark and Chris taking their labor of love and reshaping it for an American market. I asked Mark about that as well; "Alpha HK is very supportive of our efforts here at Alpha Watch USA. They take our ideas from a concept sometimes as simple as a rough drawing to a production ready blueprint."

With such an ambitious start and the support many collectors, Mark seems confident that his first foray into the watch industry will be a rewarding one. What can we expect from Alpha US in the future? Most certainly the US side of the business will, for now, continue to sell the pieces that made Alpha HK so popular including:

"The Newman"

"The Mil-Sub"

"The Sea"

"The Carbon" [New model only available at Alpha USA]

Three out of the four of those probably look pretty familiar to most readers who know watches. Aside from the physical likeness to their more high end cousins, all of these use Chinese made 'Seagull' and 'Shanghai' movements which, in their own right, have a track record for reliability and robustness. Though the above pieces are very popular and will continue to be sold for some time Mark and Chris aren't content with keeping Alpha US at the status quo, there has been talk of several new models coming out including some that fans have coveted for a while; "We intend on introducing more models that are unique to Alpha Watch USA as time goes on. I'd like to get completely away from the homage pieces but I suspect that would take a lot longer than I'd like. So, we will continue to offer these [homage] pieces but with the Alpha USA "touch" if you will."

Alpha US really seems to want to be tied together with its customer base, and along side its website has started to keep everyone updated by creating official Alpha US pages on Facebook and Twitter. Mark has even started to perform webcasts via an Alpha US YouTube page where he plans to discuss where things are going, unveil new models, and show what Alpha US is all about. Claiming: "Ultimately, it's the customer who buys our product so, I don't intend to stop listening."

Mark Lewis introducing the heavily requested MilSub watch:

To veiw their current product line visit their official website at:

You can contact Mark directly with any comments or suggestions via their email; or via their official Facebook & Twitter pages.

I would like to thank Mark for taking the time to answer my questions about Alpha Watch USA, its operations and their plans for the future.

Ed Note: The author owns 3 Alpha watches purchased through their Hong Kong facilities.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Alinghi Swaps Audemars Piguet for Hublot

Defender of the 33rd America's Cup title, Alinghi, has just announced that their two time partnership [2003 & 2007] with Swiss luxury watchmaking firm Audemars Piguet has ended in favor of a new sponsor. This time around the Alinghi vessel will contain the logo, and financial backing, of Hublot. Founded in 1980 Hublot is a very young company by Swiss watchmaking standards but they have quickly made their mark with bold designs and quality manufacturing. Most notably being the first high end Swiss manufacturer to mix rubber straps with precious metal [i.e. gold] cases and fittings, creating a look that is often imitated by many other brands today.

The full press release of today's announcement is available on the Alinghi website.

On a purely personal note; I do find it a bit odd that the announcement is touting Hublot's porthole shaped designs as being "signature" to Hublot [referring to their extremely popular "Big Bang" line of pieces] when ironically their former sponsor, Audemars Piguet, has been producing marine inspired porthole shaped case watches since the early 1970's with their Royal Oak Offshore models.

2007 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Alinghi Chronograph:An example of a Hublot Big Bang:
So it would appear that someone, for some reason, felt that the AP/Alinghi relationship could go no further.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ebel Voyager World Timer Review

Our friends over at Breitling Source have favored us with yet another comprehensive video review. The time they look at an Ebel Voyager automatic world time watch from the early 2000's.

More of their video reviews can be seen on their YouTube Channel.

Swiss Watch iPhone Apps

Several Swiss watchmaking firms have jumped on the band waggon of creating iPhone applications involving some of their most popular, or newest pieces. When "apps" first started to really gain popularity there were some generic wristwatch versions available, but now it's becoming more clear that original manufacturers are seeing the potential advertising perks of creating official apps that showcases some of their product.

Below are some screen shots of the more popular apps currently available:

Bell & Ross: [Their popular BR01 Instrument watch]

Breitling: [Showing off the new Chronomat B01]

Glycine: [The Airman]

Victorinox/Swiss Army: [A variety of features]

One size fits all:
pic courtesy of

While there has been a lot of reports in the past few years about a generation of people rejecting wristwatches in favor of using a mobile device as their reference of time, this shows that the watch firms don't really fear becoming obsolete. It's more likely than not that those who acquire one of these apps would be a brand devotee, and this would only strengthen their love of the product line offered. It also gives those who admire, but can't afford, a coveted watch the opportunity to own a small piece of it.

If you happen to have an iPhone, or iPod Touch and are interested, you can find these all at the Apple iPhone App Store