jueves, 31 de mayo de 2012

Hublot UNICO All Carbon Watch

"Oh, hello carbon fiber. Yeah, I haven't seen you in a while. I know you used to hang out here a lot, but over the last few years ceramic has been stealing a lot of the attention. We didn't always get along when you were popular, but you did have your moments." This carbon fiber-based Hublot watch almost feels like a blast from the rather recent past. With an almost all-carbon fiber case and bezel, there is a reason this watch is named the Hublot UNICO All Carbon.
Carbon fiber was really starting to get overdone a few years ago when it started showing up all over the place. The worst was the legions of cheap watches with fake carbon fiber dials - yuck! The watch industry really put carbon fiber on the backburner as a material lately. Like I said, materials such as ceramic and titanium started to get so much more popular, and were so versatile, that carbon fiber just didn't get as much attention from designers.

Then all of a sudden I see this UNICO All Carbon watch from Hublot and suddenly remember why carbon fiber was interesting in the first place. I also probably like it so much because there is no carbon fiber in the dial. Just lots of Hublot style skeletonization with a view to the movement. The name UNICO is part of the watch and placed on the movement. UNICO is a title given to some of Hublot's in-house made movements. Based on a modified ETA Valjoux 7750 architecture, the UNICO is a totally in-house manufactured automatic chronograph movement. One of the improvements over the 7750 architecture in this caliber HUB1240 movement is the use of a column wheel in the chronograph. You can see the column-wheel right in the dial near 6 o'clock. The chronograph also has a flyback feature.
I don't know what the status is right now, but early UNICO movements I saw even used carbon fiber plates. I don't think that is the case with this model though. While the dial of the watch is skeletonized, it is not done in a way that you can't read the watch. Hublot was especially careful with this model to promote legibility as well as visual interest. On the rear of the watch you can see the movement through the sapphire crystal caseback window.

To create the look of the dial, Hublot used a tinted sapphire crystal.for much of the dial. On it are applied ruthenium-coated hour markers with bright white lume and matching hands. The chronograph here has only one subdial and measures 60 minutes. The movement also has the time and date of course. Over the dial is another sapphire crystal that is AR coated.
For the UNICO All Carbon, Hublot uses a King Power chronograph case. The 48mm wide case is actually carbon fiber,.as is the bezel. There are PVD black titanium screws used for the case and bezel. A ring of rubber lines the side of the bezel. The black carbon fiber case looks cool, and the visual texture of carbon fiber is really at its best here with the high-quality material. The case is.very light and strong despite the size.

Matched to the case is the typical cool looking rubber strap you see on many King Power Hublot watches. The overall look and feel on this UNICO All Carbon is impressive. Hublot mixed a focus on.the material with an in-house made movement for a truly unique timepiece. The UNICO All Carbon (ref. 701.QX.0140.RX) isn't a limited edition model, but will probably be produced in limited quantities for a couple of years.

miércoles, 30 de mayo de 2012

Romain Jerome Space Invaders Watches

Last year Romain Jerome announced a licensing agreement with Taito Japan to bring the world Space Invaders themed wrist watches. I wasn't allowed to show images of the actual watches, but now I can. Few people are ever going to see these watches, but they are worth knowing about - at least from a watch trivia standpoint. Would I wear them? Yes actually. But then again I am the type of guy who can pull off most any watch (unless it is too small). So let's check them out in their colorful, pixelated glory.

The Romain Jerome Space Invaders watches are part of the Moon Invader collection, which itself was an extension of the Moon Dust DNA collection. The Moon Invader watch range has a case that resembles a moon lander of sorts, and uses some metal taken from Apollo XI spare parts. On the back of the watch is a special coin-style emblem that has a moon surface motif. Whether it has meaning on the watch is not relevant, it does seem to help complete the package.

Whether you like the Moon Invader range or not, you can't deny it is unique looking. There is that signature Romain Jerome "X" in the design of the lugs across the case, and it does wear comfortably on the wrist. The "feet" of the lander are connected to the straps and move with it. The case is 46mm wide, here in steel and PVD black coated. The matte sandblasted tones of most of the case meld well with the polished sections. Inside the watches are Swiss automatic movements.

In a sense, the Moon Invader case is among the most modern available from Romain Jerome today. Most of the Moon Invader watches are relatively clean, and are almost aesthetic opposites compared to the Steampunk or Titanic DNA watches. Adding the Space Invaders theme would not make sense on any other Romain Jerome watch - unless they wanted to produce a unique case.

What Romain Jerome did with the Space Invaders watches is attempt to visually recreate a moment of game play on the dial. You have your ship at the bottom shooting at the ceaseless onslaught of... well space invaders. The first version of the Space Invaders watch had a multi-color dial with red, blue, green and yellow characters. What Romain Jerome then did was produce other models using single colors, and added white and purple version as well. In total, there are seven limited edition versions of the RJ Space Invaders watch. Pieces are limited to 78 at just eight pieces per watch theme.

The dials themselves are very well-done for what RJ is going for. Romain Jerome was able to create a three-dimensional display that looks as though it was built out of pixel layers. The characters/sprites on the dial are colored with a special lacquer. Nothing feels flat, and given what Romain Jerome wanted to do with the dial and the Space Invaders' theme, I think they did a good job. Reading the time via the hands is fine, but there are no discernible hour markers to help out.

Who is this watch best for? Well how much do you consider yourself a product of the video game generation? If you don't have ties to early video games that chirped and beeped as you racked up points... then the point of this watch may be lost on you. Romain Jerome expects a few select people to share their vision and enjoy what this piece is all about. Their relationship with Taito is far from over, and it makes me happy to know stuff like this is getting made. Niche for sure, which makes it cool. Price is 16,550 Swiss Francs.

martes, 29 de mayo de 2012

The Avenger Watch, un estupendo diseño para Lamborghini

Simplemente estupendo. El diseño de este impresionante reloj es obra del diseñador Marko Petrovic. La inspiración fue tomada de las formas del motor del Lamborghini Aventador, jugando con los colores de la marca italiana dio como resultado final este Avenger Watch como lo llamó su diseñador.

Pues es un bonito regalo de navidad, por si alguno de ustedes se preguntaba que podría regalarme. O si gustan cómprenme el auto y yo completo el dúo con el reloj.

lunes, 28 de mayo de 2012

Omega Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph Watch Review

More than an icon, more than a legend, the Omega Speedmaster is one of the most popular and desired watches around the world. For over 40 years the sport watch that has been on the moon and on our minds, has also had a place on countless wrists. It has represented quality, durability, and adventure to many people. Omega has maintained and grown the collection over the years with all manners of variations, limited editions, and unique versions. All in all, the Omega Speedmaster for many people is the quintessential sport chronograph.

Purists love the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch. Like the originals from 1969, these pieces replicate today those watches worn on the moon years ago. Of course they are cool, but much of the time I lust for more modern timepieces. The new for 2011 Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph is the most modern Speedmaster to-date (and I first covered it here). Up to 44.25mm wide, it features a slick design, improved legibility, and a fantastic movement made in-house by Omega. Even with all that, it still retains the charm and timeless design of the original.

For review, I have one of the high-end models offered in Omega's special "orange gold " (ref. 311. Similar to 18k rose gold, this gold alloy is a bit more orange in tone. I love the warmth of it. For more images of the steel Omega Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph watches you can check out this previous post here. I actually discuss the movement in more detail than I do in this review - so check out that article if you haven't already in the past. By the way, this watch is also known as the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Co-Axial Chronograph. I am not sure whether to include the "Moonwatch" part when discussing it, but you will see that part of the name a lot when searching for the watch.

Something very unique happened in the course my reviewing this Omega watch. Omega decided that they wanted to change the dial on the gold version of the Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph watch. This caused a very long delay in my release of the review, because I wanted to show the retail version. The original dial choice for the 18k orange gold version was a ceramic dial. Omega then - and probably properly so - decided to go with a black enamel dial. I believe that the black enamel dial is standard on the platinum cased version of the Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph and Omega decided it was a good choice for the gold version as well. The bezel is also different on the enamelled dial version. After having had both watches to review, I decided to give you images of both mixed into this article. The ceramic dial version isn't every going to be commercially available as far as I know - but it is good for you to see what "might have been". Once again, note that only the black enamel dial is on retail versions of this Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph watch.

For the most part, the gold and steel Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph watches are the same, but let me just identify the differences. Of course the gold model comes in the 18k orange gold case. It also used the caliber 9301 versus 9300 movement. These are identical save for the gold rotor and bridge over the escapement. Last, the gold version of the watch is a different dial. The standard Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph (and remember, Omega Speedmaster watches have delicately different names, so make sure you know which ones you are talking about) has a matte black dial, while the gold version has a baked black enamel dial. The other prototype version has a ceramic dial. Look closely right over where the hour and minute hands connect in the middle and you'll see a light engraving in the dial that says "Zr02." That stands for Zirconium Dioxide - which is the principle material most industrial ceramics are made of if I understand correctly.

The enamel dial on the gold model is lovely with its shine and deep black color. While the standard model is more utilitarian and true to the Speedmaster theme, Omega wanted to dress up the gold and platinum versions a bit. Other than those minor differences, a review of this model should apply to any of the new Omega Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph watches.

Aside from the larger size, the most distinctive difference with this Speedmaster is the two versus three chronograph subdials. Though, it does retain the functionality of a full 12 hour chronograph. The left subdial is for the normal seconds, while the right one has two hands that track the chronograph minutes and hours. The central seconds hand measures chronograph seconds. The caliber 9300 (9301) uses both a column wheel and vertical clutch for the chronograph. Operating it is smooth and precise. Though aside from the central seconds hand, the chronograph hands are not lumed. This makes tracking the chronograph in the dark not possible, for the small percentage of people who require that functionality.

This new bi-compax layout for the Speedmaster dial is really nice, and it allows for a centrally mounted date window at 6 o'clock. I like how the date is on a matching black disc with raised off-white numerals. Overall the dial is balanced and attractive. For me, this is the first Omega Speedmaster watch with genuine applied hour markers. Brushed and applied with luminant, these are not only attractive but considerably aid in making the watch legible in a lot of light conditions. They also create wonderful dial contrasts to make the watch as easy to read as possible. This also applied to the hour and minute hands.

Lume application is fantastic. This actually surprised me given how thin the lume strips are. Nevertheless, the application of SuperLumiNova is consistent and thick making for a good watch to read in low light conditions. Needle hands and hour markers are a thing of visual and functional beauty in my opinion.

Over the dial is a curved sapphire crystal with a lot of AR coating. The top of it is mostly flat, but the sides are curved to replicate the look of acrylic crystals used for the original Speedmaster watches. A similar crystal is used on the rear of the watch to offer a wonderfully impressive view of the movement. Like a bowl, the rear sapphire crustal allows for a stunning view of the large-sized, in-house made caliber.

It just wouldn't be a Speedmaster without a tachymeter (tachymetre) scale bezel. Not that I would ever use it, but it is good to know that some things don't change. The bezel does help frame the design of the watch well, and offers a little piece of utility that people might have once used "back in the day". A little retro love never hurt anyone.

Omega has always designed really nice watch cases. The new Speedmaster is no exception. Fit and finishing are good of course, and the overall design offers a grand look where the lugs work right into the side of the case. From the side, it looks like a layered sandwich. The crown is large, but not too big and sits into the case to help protect it. Chronograph pushers are simple and traditional in style. At its heart, the Speedmaster has always been the "nice conservative sports watch". It still is, and that is a really good thing in this context.

In addition to having Omega's Co-Axial escapement that helps the watch maintain good time over the long run, the 9300 (9301) calibers are also COSC Chronometer rated. I found it to be reliable and it kept good time. There are a few tricks to the movement. First (like the caliber 8500 movement) you can adjust the hour hand in one hour increments to make it easy to switch to local time while travelling. Though this is also how you change the date (by rapidly advancing or going back in time). Technically, you can also track a second time zone. This is done by using the chronograph subdial that has two hands. You start the chronograph exactly at midnight or noon for that second timezone, and the hour and minute hands for the chrono will double as the time for that other time zone. It is a nice little function to have available. Further details about the movement include that it has a silicon hairspring and double mainspring barrels with a power reserve of 60 hours. Overall, I am very impressed by the Omega caliber 9300 family movements because they really are something special above and beyond most basic movements from ETA's regular stock.

The case is water resistant to 100 meters - which is fine. Omega doesn't need to start mixing their Speedmaster and Seamaster watches too much. I really liked the case on my wrist. It felt like the right size and was very comfortable. The steel version of the Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph comes with a strap or fine steel bracelet. I believe that the orange gold version only comes with the black alligator strap (for now).

The strap is supple and padded and designed to fit flush with the case. That tight fit makes it looks extra impressive. The strap is matched to a push-button folding clasp - here again in 18k orange gold. Perhaps Omega will offer a full gold bracelet down the line, though it would make for an extremely expensive watch given all the gold.

I think it is clear that this new model of Omega Speedmaster with the caliber 9300 (9301) movement isn't going to end other Speedmaster watches. It is however, part of Omega's larger push to assert their in-house movement technology and further modernize the collection. For me, this is my new favorite Speedmaster watch and a great offering by the brand. It is a superlative product with a great personality, history, and sense of utility. Choosing to wear it for both formal and casual occasions is common and overall, this piece is a delight to wear.

Much of the time when I discuss Omega watches people's only complaint (if any) is about the price. It is true that over the last few years Omega prices have sometimes increased surprisingly. These are reasons for this and it does seem confusing for people who were once used to a lower entry fee for Omega goodness. Omega still feels like a good value though and the quality is all there. It is tough not to want one of these. Price for the steel Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Co-Axial Chronograph is $8,700 and for this 18k orange gold version it is $25,700.

domingo, 27 de mayo de 2012

Magnetic charm: Christophe Claret X-TREM-1

It’s as if Christophe Claret and his team of horology boffins deliberately set out to create a watch, which at its core, uses the arch enemy of horological mechanisms – magnetism.

Christophe Claret’s determination to continue pushing the boundaries of mechanical watchmaking and integrating scientific fields of research never previously applied in horology remains undimmed.

The new X-TREM collection we are told, will be exceptional in all ways. X-TREM-1 features a tourbillon timepiece and uses magnetic fields to create the illusion of hour and minute indicators simply floating through the air.

Christophe Claret has achieved that by creating a system where two small steel spheres – hollowed to make them lighter – encased within two sapphire tubes placed to the right and left of the caseband, are controlled by precision magnetic fields generated by two miniature magnets moved by cables.

The cables are made from an extremely thin and strong woven silk thread more commonly seen in reparative surgery. The resistance of the thread has been tested in the Manufacture Claret on an accelerated-wear simulator corresponding to six years of operation.

The spheres have no mechanical connection with the movement, with each one floating inside the two tubes and creating outstanding horological magic.

“We developed this technology with the School of Business and Engineering Vaud (HEIG-VD) in Yverdon-les-Bains, and a team headed by Professor Besson. What’s more, the magnetic fields have been focused so that they have no effect whatsoever on the mechanisms – apart from the task assigned to them, which is to help display the time in a quite incredible and original way.” Christophe Claret

The “floating” sphere display system of the X-TREM-1 is not the only technical feat involved. The entire construction and finishing of this timepiece meets the extreme demands expected if the watch is to bear the Christophe Claret marque.

Ultra-light titanium was used for the three-dimensional curvex mainplate and the bridges. The case is composed of titanium and white or red gold, or platinum, and produced in a limited series of eight per model.

The flying tourbillon is fitted with double ceramic bearings to enhance its shock-resistance. It is inclined at a 30-degree angle in order to make it even more clearly visible to the wearer.

The hand-wound watch draws its energy from two barrels without disturbing the rate of the tourbillon, and thus the accuracy of the watch.

Christophe Claret is never happier than when he is developing a new watch project that has never been attempted. The brand is resolutely dedicated to technological innovation to offer innovative and ingenious new ways of reading the time.

With the unveiling of the X-TREM-1 timepiece, Christophe Claret proves once again that watchmakers are some of the most incredible engineers on the planet.

The magic of the new X-TREM-1 will be displayed at Baselworld in just a few days time. Meanwhile the video below gives an idea of the achievement.

Watch What-If: Swiss Army Dive Master 500 Chronograph

"Watch What-If" is a special column on aBlogtoRead.com that asks the playful question "what if an iconic watch you know and love was offered in a different style?" The idea embraces a good timepiece's core design and has fun by offering new colors and material concepts to stimulate your senses. These ideas may be provocative, artistic, or just plain silly. This is about fun, Photoshop, and the celebration of wrist watch design and experimentation. The original design we work off of will always be at the bottom of the article. The designs are brought to life by Beau Hudspeth who does the artwork and concepting after he and I choose the models and styles to focus on. These "special design experiments" are extremely time consuming and labor intensive but we hope you enjoy the results. Ideas and comments are more than welcome. Enough response may even lead to a round two of design of the same watch - so please comment below. You are also encouraged to suggest the watches that should make it into the Watch What-If section here on aBlogtoRead.com.

Watch What-Iffed: Swiss Army Dive Master 500 Chronograph

The original:

viernes, 25 de mayo de 2012

Hamilton Ventura XXL Watch In Men In Black III

A new limited edition version of the Hamilton Ventura XXL watch will be worn by major characters in the new Men In Black III (3) movie that will open this month. I believe that previous Men In Black (MIB) movies also featured other versions of the famous Ventura watch. This newest version is the Ventura XXL model in polished steel, and it is a limited edition.

The Ventura is a very special model in not only Hamilton's history, but also American history. It is among the most iconic wrist watches ever designed - and it was a total USA baby. The original was released back in 1957. The image in this article with the older Ventura shows a model from 1969. I believe the original models were tuning fork based watches with electronic movements. These were the predecessors of quartz movements.

On and off, Ventura models have been in the Hamilton collection for years. The Ventura XXL that was released a few years ago was meant to be a larger, more modern version of the classic. It is 46mm by 45.5mm in size and comes here in a polished steel case. The design of the 2012 model is almost identical to that of the outgoing Ventura XXL limited edition model, but this is in polished steel versus PVD black coated steel. There is also a similar new model called the Ventura Medium. It comes in men's and women's versions and is 32.30mm by 50.30mm in size - shaped more similarly to the original.

The Ventura XXL is more triangular than the original, but feels similar in theme. The dial is interesting yet legible. The entire thing looks like a swoopy spaceship on your wrist. The case is curved for comfort, and the detailing is pretty nice. Over the dial is a sapphire crystal and the case is water resistant to 50 meters. You have to try one on if you never have.

This 2012 Hamilton Ventura XXL limited edition watch will come as a set of 999 pieces. The integration of the Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic movement is rather interesting as the round movement sits in the triangle-shaped case. Attached to the case is a thick black rubber strap. Style-wise this piece can't be beat - but that doesn't mean everyone is going to love it. It would be interesting to see Hamilton make the Ventura a more important arm of their collection. Price for the 2012 Hamilton Ventura XXL limited edition watch is $1,345.

March LA.B AM3 Legionnaire Watch For Collete

March LA.B recently announced a new and very limited edition of their AM3 model which has been made exclusively for the Paris based retailer Colette. Limited to only five pieces, the AM3 Legionnaire Limited Edition is an intriguing design which mixes the recognizable style and flare we expect from March LA.B with a color scheme that pays tribute to the historic French Foreign Legion (of the 19th century). This 38mm automatic three-hander is upgraded over the standard production AM3 with a black PVD case, an olive green dial, gunmetal indices, and a genuine Louisiana alligator leather strap. The colors are based on traditional legionnaire uniform colors. The strap carries a matte green finish which matches nicely with the dial and mixed finishing of the black case. I really enjoy the contrast between the sandy-green tone of the dial and the darker tones of the gunmetal indices and PVD case.

The AM3 Legionnaire features all of the details which make March LA.B watches stand out in the fray, like their uniquely styled screw-down crown, green date text and rear crystal, and custom decorated movement. Refreshingly, March LA.B has opted to use the more expensive ETA 2892 Swiss automatic movement as opposed to the more common 2824-2. The 2892 is one of the best mass produced movements available to a small brand like March LA.B. The same base movement was, for example, used by Omega for their calibre 1120 and later used as the base for their co-axial calibre 2500. With a watch that carries an above-entry-level price, it is certainly nice to see that they are taking advantage of the availability of the 2892 and sourcing a premium movement. The AM3 Legionnaire's domed crystal is sapphire and features an anti-reflective treatment, while the rear display crystal sports a sapphire coating and March LA.B's unique green tint.

The dial color choice is in tribute to the legendary (in France) French Foreign Legion and the olive drab coloring they utilized for their uniforms. I think you'll agree that a March LA.B AM3 is not the first watch which comes to mind when imagining military-inspired limited editions, but I think they have pulled it off nicely and that this limited edition has a distinct appeal that still works within the aesthetic of the AM3 line up. The AM3 Legionnaire will be available exclusively through Collete for €2490 (~$3130 USD) and with only five units being produced, it's safe to say that March LA.B has guaranteed a high level of exclusivity for this truly unique and cool version of the AM3.