GPHG 2017 – Mechanical Exception category
The Mechanical Exception category of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève brings together the ultimate in sophistication and innovation. But that’s the thing. Sophistication and innovation represent two very different kinds of watches. A watch is considered sophisticated when it offers many different indications. It’s innovative when it offers new ways of doing things, and this could apply to simple functions as much as to complicated ones. Neither approach is better than the other – they are both vital to the progress of watchmaking. All we can do is sit back, and wait for the jury to announce which they have decided to reward this year.
In response to getting the message in the people who they want more value from their own watches, the business has simply gone out and started to produce less costly watches. This is logical, however it misconstrues the issue. The main reason is that they are just making lower-priced watches that frequently simply suck. Many have potential, but cost-cutting approaches in both materials and construction are glaringly obvious in watches from all but the most detail-obsessed brands. Allow me to clarify what the business seems to have misunderstood — folks did not request cheaper watches. There’s a big difference.Why do industry decision-makers believe that a $10,000 watch which feels like a $5,000 watch is going to have any greater difficulty in being sold than a $4,000 watch which feels like a $1,000 watch? The issue on the cost-cutting facet of the industry is that watches do not feel like they are worth what brands are charging for them — and I’m not even going to bring up the grey market in this discussion. If people complain of “greed” and “stupidity” from the watch industry — what they are really referring to is making watches which no one wants to purchase for the purchase price. There are already legions upon legion of cheap watches out there that connoisseurs would not be interested in. Why, then, do “prestigious” watch brands appear intent on after this model?There isn’t even a precedent with this strategy. Their only real argument in defense of the practice of selling cheap watches for a lot of money is that they can attempt to make up for it in branding and marketing (like star ambassadors, etc.). Once more, this is a very clear indication of someone who doesn’t know how to evaluate a good watch, making conclusions about making watches. Rolex, for example, does counter the market with advertising messages, but they also happen to provide an industry-leading product concerning overall quality for the cost. Why, then, would anyone purchase a non-Rolex watch of lower inherent quality for the same or even more income? Apart from “they want something different,” I have yet to hear a fantastic solution to this.Even though new versions (shown to media) from many watch brands were restricted this season, there are some standout versions which defy the norm and offer excellent artistic craftsmanship or attractive layouts and approachable value propositions. No matter what your budget is, there’s something new that you be enthused about from SIHH 2017. Especially at the lower-end (in terms of cost), there’s really something new to report on from SIHH, even though the series is more typically associated with releasing things of incredible beauty and complexity, but typically at prices only the world’s elite can try to manage.
The Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite” offers a bundle of complications that is unusual these days for its breadth, but also because it represents a catalogue of everything A. Lange & Söhne can do. The Tourbograph, a tourbillon and chronograph combined, has been around for some time, but here Lange has added its perpetual calendar, plus a fusée-and-chain transmission. The constant force mechanism is what the “Pour le Mérite” designation refers to, in the Saxon company’s lexicon. Girard-Perregaux has chosen a similar approach to complication, but with the accent on three-dimensionality. The tourbillon of the Planetarium Tri-Axial pivots around three axes, performing spherical revolutions. Alongside the tourbillon there is a world globe that rotates at a more stately pace, as well as a moon phase indication and an off-centre time display.
The German watch brand A. Lange & Söhne was revived in 1994 but just opened their first boutique ten decades ago in 2007. The boutique is currently in Dresden, a short drive from the brand’s headquarters in Glashütte. The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Dresden Boutique 10th Anniversary Edition watch is equivalent to the standard 1815 but includes a hinged, engraved cover to get a caseback.The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Dresden Boutique Edition is limited to ten watches each in pink gold and white gold. The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 time-only is a classically sized dress watch with a 38.5mm case and a conventional dial layout with a sub-seconds dial at 6:00. The case is constructed with a classic three-part construction and has a polished bezel, brushed case-band, and polished back. The alternating finishes give the watch the right balance between some visual pop and understated elegance when on the wrist.The dial is solid silver and the heat-blued hands contrast richly against it. As stated previously, specific to the Dresden Boutique variant is that the “dust cap” caseback — also referred to as a cuvette. The Frauenkirche was not selected out of mere convenience, it was chosen because the Lange boutique in Dresden is actually adjoining to the landmark and Ferdinand Lange really worked in Dresden before moving the brand’s centers to Glashütte.
Tourbograph Perpetual © A. Lange & Söhne
Planetarium Tri-Axial © Girard-Perregaux
The German watch brand A. Lange & Söhne was revived in 1994 but just opened their first boutique ten years ago in 2007. The boutique is currently in Dresden, a brief drive in the brand’s headquarters in Glashütte. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the boutique, Lange has launched a limited edition time-only watch at the 1815 collection. The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 time-only is a classically sized dress watch with a 38.5millimeter case and a traditional dial layout with a sub-seconds dial at 6:00. The situation is constructed with a classic three-part structure and has a polished bezel, brushed case-band, and polished back. As stated previously, unique to the Dresden Boutique edition is that the “dust cover” caseback — also called a cuvette. Likely inspired by classic pocket watches, the cuvette is hinged at the 12:00 end of the dial and can be engraved with a aid of the Dresden Frauenkirche, a well-known landmark. The Frauenkirche was not selected out of mere convenience, it had been chosen because the Lange boutique in Dresden is really adjoining to the landmark and Ferdinand Lange actually worked in Dresden before moving the brand’s centers to Glashütte.
The opinion is powered with the caliber L051.1, a hand-wound, time-only movement with a Nivarox balance spring, German silver primary plate and bridges, swan-neck regulator, and 55 hours of power reserve. As may be expected of Lange, the motion is completed to a superlative standard. Each of the decoration is accomplished by hand.Like that the chronograph sibling, I have a soft spot for your 1815 time-only. The addition of the hinged cuvette is not revolutionary, but is a nice way to commemorate a landmark for the brand and its own boutique. With such a little run, I’m sure the watches will locate a wrist (or secure) fairly fast. The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Dresden Boutique 10th Anniversary Edition watch boats on an alligator strap with a pin buckle also has a cost of $29,900 for example VAT. It’s a bigger version of a men’s model — and that is a great thing, since it generally means a fantastic movement, meticulous conclusion, and a dignified layout, especially since you’re speaking about A. Lange & Söhne. When a business that makes something as magnificent as the Tourbograph Perpetual Pour le Mérite creates a girls’ watch, it isn’t likely to become a token girly watch with lots of flowers but no real acts. In addition, we have a brand new Saxonia girls watch in 35mm. So, here’s our hands on look at the A. Lange & Söhne Little Lange 1 Moon Phase & Saxonia Ladies watches.
Vacheron Constantin has pushed the envelope with 23 complications. The Celestial Astronomical is a mechanical computer for astronomical functions and indications. This one-of-a-kind piece (further examples may be commissioned on request) represents a unique and uniquely comprehensive catalogue of functions. It nevertheless remains portable, legible and practical, with a 3-week power reserve and, incredibly, a thickness of just 13.6 mm. We have seen many thicker watches offering far fewer complications.
Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 © Vacheron Constantin
In recent years, much horological innovation has focused on minute repeaters, and two of the most remarkable initiatives in this direction are going head to head in this category. The Audemars Piguet Supersonnerie incorporates the sound amplification concepts we have already seen in the grand complication Royal Oak Concept, but inside a Jules Audemars case (this watch marks the launch of a new iteration of this model). Here, however, it’s all about the sound. The apertures in the caseback are connected to a copper resonance membrane (providing acoustic resonance, not frequency).
While there are exceptions, cheap parts and unrefined dial designs are more common than I’d like to admit. Even though the emotional feeling a consumer receives when looking at the dial of an eye is the most essential element in making a buy decision, way too many brands appear to OK a computer layout for generation, not realizing that in person that closing watch will look much different. That usually means a picture of a dial might look good on a computer screen, but in person with the incorrect stuff, finishes, and colors, it may look like cheap crap. I really don’t understand why this is, and I am beginning to get unbelievably sick of hearing the explanation that if I visit that a dial or other element I do not enjoy it is since it’s a prototype. If that is the case, then please quit showing me prototypes or put final models in our hands when they’re finalized and ready to guarantee the aBlogtoWatch team doesn’t leave with very pessimistic feelings about what you as a watch manufacturer are attempting to present to customers.Asia remains a huge market for the watch industry — that seems continually comfy making products for said markets. Oddly enough, the exact same amount of care and attention does not enter several watches intended to appeal to Western markets. Is it possible that a large volume of designers and merchandise people in the watch business only forgot how to create watches (well, in sufficient number) that appeal to Americans and Europeans (that don’t cost a bloody fortune)? I really don’t understand the answer to this — but I can say that are vanishingly tiny quantities of individuals who genuinely love watches.In this and other posts, I really believe that I’ve pinpointed problems and provided some spot-on guidance the watch industry can utilize to remedy its organizational, distribution, design, and sales woes. Before going to our list of the top 11 watches, I’d love to end my article on the matter of cost. Yes, that funny thing that most consumers seem obsessed over.
As we have seen with all the Lange Double Split, there’s not one, but two pillar wheels in the motion. As you can see on the image above, this column wheel is directly connected to the two arms which control the splitting (or rattrapante) purpose: a few extremely finicky geometrics come to play to prevent and let go of the wheel connected to one of the two principal chronograph seconds hands. Another column across the motion (the one to the left to the image below) functions as a normal chronograph function’s column wheel, responsible for stopping and starting the chronograph itself.There are simple moves that amaze with their finishing and there are not-so-amazingly completed complicated movements that amaze with their mind-boggling design. The Tourbograph combines both and creates a watch that is a sensual overload using a window on a world where stunning surface decorations and treatments meet with a few of the hard geometrics and interactions of components.It is filigree and yet rugged in a way few motions with ~700 components are. All the parts seem to have substantial volume to them, almost begging the question why so many other movements we see incorporate fragile-looking little springs and cams in their own design. The Tourbograph resembles a beautifully decorated machine which dwarfs other movements.Hidden deep inside the bowels of the L133.1 is a fusée and chain transmission system, designed to ensure a more even delivery of torque as the mainspring unwinds over its short, 36-hour power book — 36 hours is really short, however a shorter than average power book isn’t exactly unusual one of such outrageously complex movements. The chain itself is 636 components, but Lange counts it as one (yes, one) part in the 684 part count of the motion itself.
Jules Audemars Minute Repeater Supersonnerie © Audemars Piguet
In opposition, Chopard is presenting its most innovative watch, the watch to which the company has devoted more development efforts than any other in its history: the Full Strike. What makes it different are its many safety features, its considerable striking reserve, and above all, its unique approach to sound generation. In this L.U.C watch, the two gongs that create the sound are carved from the same block of sapphire as the watch crystal. As they are of a single piece, they behave like a loudspeaker, producing a sound that is crystal clear, literally.
My fellow watch media, especially the more veteran channels or those seeking to appeal exclusively to industry folk, look uncertain of how to cover the clearly “bad times” which a lot of the business is facing. Many men and women are losing their jobs, companies are being reorganized, and the Swiss watch industry — while you will find over a few strongly doing regions — is by many accords contracting (to put it lightly). However the weakness of egotism continues to shroud reality and despite unequivocal data (and also a lot of it) suggesting that the industry is bottoming out, few supervisors are taking a look at the issue square at the face.In part, the standard media is to blame, though they can hardly be faulted for not reporting on information that’s so secretly guarded. While personal banks is moving outside of Switzerland to places with more amenable laws to finance sheltering (particularly for those with US bank account), many from the Swiss watch industry appear to fear the truth that without maintaining a strong sense of relevance the “conventional and lasting” Swiss watch industry is extremely vulnerable. Their customary reaction is to smile and sometimes boast of how “amazing” things are regardless of what the numbers might suggest.A little bit of information to watch business managers — do not forget that those in really positive positions hardly find value in boasting about it. The more you tell us how incredibly surprising earnings are, and how much client demand is faking your production tools, the more media and retailers equally discover a blip in their BS radars. The stark reality is that humility is a deeply ingrained and appreciated element of Korean civilization – and so the notions of the watch industry demonstrate how truly pan-European it is, in spite of how many are physically located inside the boundaries of Switzerland.
L.U.C Full Strike © Chopard
But innovation can take other forms, for instance in new approaches to abstruse concepts such as resonance. Armin Strom created a stir with its Mirrored Force Resonance. It improves the precision of a double-escapement system by using resonance to synchronise the two components. In this instance, the two escapements are linked by a spring-shaped component, which causes them to synchronise. The watch design as a whole is also extremely striking.
Mirrored Force Resonance © Armin Strom
Whether the approach comes from a big brand or a small firm, whether it’s classical or iconoclastic, elegant or cutting-edge, this category brings together some major statements in terms of technology, image and, above all, philosophy.
Watch the ceremony