Dress chronograph is an acquired taste, a love that takes time to develop. I have never seen somebody who initiated his/her collection with a dress chronograph. A "normal" chronograph (I'm looking at you, Daytona)? Sure, that's common. But, say, a Patek Ref. 5170? No, that's never a "first serious watch" candidate. Nothing to do with affordability here but rather, people only tend to slowly, if they ever do, gravitate towards the more delicate, sophisticated pieces after spending some time with their more versatile counterparts as they mature as collectors. And for many, to own a serious dress chronograph is to gain an instant badge of approval in the eyes of fellow aficionados. They're some of the most elegant and romantic timepieces one could possess. And there's nothing quite like the experience of looking at a well finished chronograph movement (if the watch comes with a display case back). For all these reasons, dress chronographs from across eras are categorically going up in value. Well, except perhaps one. The sole subject of today's article, from none other than one of the Swiss "Holy Trinity" manufactures - Vacheron Constantin. And today, we go deep on the Vacheron Constantin Les Historiques Chronograph Ref. 47101/47111.
In-Depth: Why the New A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph Black Dial (in White Gold) Makes So Much Sense
Overview, and a Little Journey of Personal Sentiments
Ever since A. Lange & Söhne released the first ever 1815 Chronograph in white gold and with a black dial in early June this year, my feeling towards the piece has been on what could be niftily described as a roller coaster ride. My first reaction to the piece when my friend showed its picture to me was something like, "oh, that's a first generation 1815 Chronograph. Beautiful, no doubt. What about it?". Completely ignorant of the true identity of the watch in my friend's picture, my somewhat nonchalant remark was shut down instantly. "Dude, this literally just came out 30 minutes ago. It's a new release!", said my friend in a fierce manner, as if I've committed some sort of blasphemy. Let's just say the pulsation meter totally fooled me.
While Audemars Piguet ("AP") and the Royal Oak are essentially one and the same nowadays, it has not always been the case. Vintage, pre-Royal Oak AP pieces are arguably some of the rarest, most elusive and artisanal horological creations that are quietly garnering the attention of discerning collectors in a game largely dominated by, if one takes auction performances as a rough guide, Patek Philippe, and to a smaller extent, Vacheron Constantin.
We recently came across this 10 year-old article discussing the legendary and somewhat mythical vintage AP caliber VZSS (only circa 2,000 examples were ever used by AP), specifically one that was fitted to a time-only dress watch that's aesthetically stunning inside and out from the year 1948. The article offers valuable insights into the coming about of the movement and it certainly doesn't harm that readers are treated with high quality images of the meticulously finished movement that channels the kind of human touch not unlike those found in say a Philippe Dufour Simplicity. It's that awesome, and we felt the need to share this article with you. Enjoy!
To see full article, visit ninanet.net/watches/others15/Mediums/map.html .
It's exceedingly rare to meet a watch collector who does not have a thing or two other than watches that he/she too savours in life. After all, the appreciation of horology, or the art of watchmaking, is really just a manifestation of a sense for beauty. And beauty, my friend, is ubiquitous. It is that unexpected stroke of a capturing painting. It is the silhouette of a well thought-out piece of furniture. And for the interview subject of our third episode of My Watches and I (you can check out the first two episodes here and here), beauty certainly can be found in the aftertaste of a brilliant scotch.
Recently, I got to spend a morning talking watches with Kam Daswani, a personal friend and founder of whisky business Dram Good Stuff (you can find out more about it here), who happens to own some pretty remarkable - or should I say, pretty Dram Good - timepieces. Relaxed and friendly as he has always been, Kam walked me through his watch collection in detail, and explained his personal stories with them. And of course, I, being a complete whisky novice, seized the chance to pick Kam's brain and learned a thing or two about his trade (now I know what a bourbon is).
And this, is your third episode of My Watches and I. Let's get to it.
Auction house Phillips has been on a streak of successful watch auctions one after another, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Just two weeks ago, in its Geneva Watch Auction: FIVE, the London-headquartered auctioneer sold the elusive Rolex "Bao Dai" Ref. 6062, fetching over CHF 5million, which makes it officially the most expensive Rolex ever sold in an auction. The legendary Rolex Paul Newman Daytona Ref. 6263 in yellow gold - or simply, "The Legend", one of three known examples ever - changed hands for a handsome CHF 3.7million in the same occasion. And it's not only the mega pieces that fared well, in fact, the rest of the lots did also sell for more than their respective high estimate consistently. Let's just say Phillips is enjoying a very good moment now with their unquestionably high quality watches on offer.
On 30th May, 2017, The Hong Kong Watch Auction: FOUR will take place, once again in the brilliant Mandarin Oriental and as usual, a public preview precedes the main event, with all pieces generously on display. We managed to spend some personal time with them in a sunny afternoon and here are our top picks from the 356-lot-strong lineup. You will see Patek Philippes, Rolexes, and some more. Let's check them out.
Analysis: Lengbeau's Top 5 Favorites from Baselworld 2017 (and Some Less-Than-Desirable New Releases) (Part 1 of 2)
Yup it's that time of the year again that sees flocks of visitors, business executives, bloggers and pretty much anybody with a tangential interest in the watch business heading to Basel for the biggest, baddest watch show in the world, aptly dubbed the Baselworld. For those who might not be familiar with this world class trade show, it helps to understand that a trip to Baselworld is kind of like the horology equivalent to a pilgrimage to Mecca. You will get to go hands-on with the newest creations from watch brands - from Patek Philippe to Edifice - from all over the world. You will get to see legendary industry figures and collectors whom you though only exist on Instagram. You get the idea.
And just like any previous Baselworld showing, Baselworld 2017 has proven to be a blast. With the dust well settled, it's about time we recount our memories of the event. Of the slew of new pieces unveiled, here are Lengbeau's top 5 picks (not in any particular order), and we can't wait to explain to you why these watches in particular speak to us. What's more, we'll also name new pieces that made us go "meh." for a myriad of reasons, be it a sheer creative laziness, or simply a head-scratching idea.
Let's check them out.
Recently I was given this question by a fellow watch aficionado: If you can own only a two-watch collection - with a combined value of less than HKD200,000 - for the rest of your life, which two would you choose? The question itself is fairly straightforward and I've pondered over similar queries in my head from time to time ever since I began developing a keen interest in watches. So I was able to offer my picks rather assertively (answers to be unveiled at the end of this article; read on).
But that's not the focus of this article. Instead, I'm writing to address two extended questions from my friend's which I feel deserve further examination as they almost universally concern watch lovers of all orders: What counts as a "collection"? And how could we - mere mortals with finite financial resources - build a collection on a budget (relatively speaking that is)?
These questions are quite crucial as I genuinely believe when one gets to a point whereby his/her love for a certain tangible thing in life (e.g. watches, sneakers, cars) becomes so deep, he/she inevitably develops an irreversible sense of specificity about the objective in question. A case in point is that you can't make a suit lover wear a flannel suit in high summer because to him, it is neither weather-appropriate nor does the choice serve as a fair reflection of his knowledge in suiting. He'd opt for a lightweight, breathable linen suit instead. Which means he probably owns at least two suits, each with a specific purpose/ function.
The same goes for watches. Watch collectors acquire multiple timepieces not only because watches are fascinating creations, but also that each of them means something different to its owner and carries its unique functional or aesthetic purpose, however minute the nuances might be. In short, serious watch guys won't stop at just one watch. And when we truly feel the need to have multiple watches in our lives, what are the strategies we can live by? Shall we build something diverse? Or dedicate our resources to a certain specific family of watches that's close to our hearts?
And today I'm trying to give it a crack and offer my two cents on how to build a respectable watch collection with - to push the envelope here - less than HKD100,000.
3. Old is the New New
The practice of watch brands digging into their archive and bringing back their historically popular timepieces has been around for a long time, but 2016 has proven to be an exceptionally big year for vintage re-issues, both in terms of volume and quality. Not only did we see a range of manufactures creating homage pieces that are pleasantly faithful to their very predecessors that inspired them, they also managed to pull it off without coming across as lazy or uncreative, an affliction that re-issues have from time to time. Some very obvious examples include the new Rolex Daytona with black ceramic insert that became a runaway hit, thanks to its aesthetic resemblance with the legendary, vintage "Big Red" Rolex Daytona ref. 6263. Longines, a brand that has consistently excelled with revitalising its products from past eras, came out gunning with the Heritage 1969 Automatic (we wrote about it here), amongst others. Even Vacheron Constantin, the oldest existing high horology house, threw its hat into the ring at one point with their very classic Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955, inspired by a chronograph of theirs from the year, well, 1955.
We don't expect the phenomenon to slow down a bit in 2017. As the adage goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And we are already seeing that adage being played out in this year's SIHH.
The just-unveiled Master Control Date, Master Geographic and Master Chronograph from Jaeger Le-Coultre showcased exactly how it should be done. They are all endowed with a very mid-21st-century sector dial (meaning the dial is divided up into "sectors" by short, straight lines distributed around the watch face) while carry modern features such as the hour and minute hands with in contemporary shape. It's been a while since the watch community at large - whose affinity to vintage pieces have grown exponentially over the past few years - has become so excited about a timepiece debut as such. Old is definitely the new new.
Now, onto the my personal favourite recent development in the watch scene: watches getting smaller!
We are now living in a world dominated by large watches, with the likes of 47mm Radiomir and 48mm Big Bang finding their way to people's wrists more than ever. 36mm is considered "mid-size" or for ladies. Which is ridiculous. As the watchmaking maestro Philippe Dufour once said, any watches larger than 38mm are already going out of proportion, which I feel is true. Sometimes when I try on even a 44m Panerai, I feel like I'm being engulfed by its sheer presence and dimensions - it's as if it is wearing me, instead of the other way round. But for some reason, the industry has been flirting with ever-increasing case size since I don't know when, which never fails to baffle me.
And luckily, in 2016 we see many watchmakers returning to normal, releasing a whole slew of sub-40mm timepieces that are pretty much perfect in their own way.
The Tudor Black Bay 36, or better known as "baby Black Bay", is a 36-mm, dressier rendition of the original Tudor Black Bay that retained several key aesthetic elements that nobody saw coming, but we're so glad it did. This is meant to be an unisex watch that works well both with a bracelet and a strap and more importantly, you can finally wear a Black Bay to the office without having to look ever so slightly out of place, thanks to its restrained appeal.
On the high horology side, A. Lange & Söhne delivered what might be the most affordable superlative dress watch ever created: the Saxonia Thin, available in both 37mm and 40mm cases. It's clean, sharp, and it doesn't cut corner whatsoever with its finishing and construction. If simplicity is indeed the ultimate sophistication, the 37mm Saxonia Thin might just be the embodiment of horological sophistication. And damn, it just looks so classy.
Thinking about getting yourself a new watch? Perhaps it's a good time to think small.
Until next time.
First of all, Happy New Year! Lengbeau would like to wish you all a very successful year ahead. And of course, happy watch hunting!
2016 has been a bittersweet year for the watchmaking scene, to say the least. Sales figures were subdued. Cost cutting a key theme for the better part of the industry. People sacked. And China spending much less on watches compared to before, thanks to the government's anti-graft campaign. Let's just say the industry has seen better days.
Yet, despite the numerous reasons that could theoratically cause the industy to go under, luxuy watches are still being made and companies are still up and running. Barely, perhaps, but they are here to stay. And it's during difficult time that the industry demonstrates its creativity and wit best. And 2016 has proven to be the perfect testament to that.
With 2016 squarely behind us, we reckon this is a good time to do some stocktaking and recount the key trends that largely defined the year - memorable no matter how you look at it - for the watch industry and more importantly, to look to the future and offer our estimate as to which of these currents are likely to carry over into the 2017.
Let's check them out.
Lengbeau cultivates appreciation for the eternal beauty of mechanical watches, for our everyday dudes and ladies.