As the worlds oldest watch manufacture in continuous production, Vacheron Constantin have produced some incredible timepieces over their 260 year history. Now, in partnership with the famous London department store Harrods, they have created two stunning 20 piece limited edition watches within the Tradtionnelle Collection. Two watches which both symbolise London luxury and display the Maison’s incredible artistic craft and Haute Horlogerie abilities.
With Spectre in the cinema’s breaking Bond box office records, it is safe to say everyone is talking about all things Bond related just now. What we always tend to notice is how Bond is always well kitted out, ready for any villainous situation he may encounter.
Through the years he has had suits from Anthony Sinclair, Brioni and Tom Ford, with cars from BMW to Aston Martin. One thing however James Bond has always been known for is his fine choice of time piece. Now thanks to the chaps over at watches2u.com, the ultimate Bond watch list throughout the years has been compiled. And its a good one.
As Rolex fans and general horology enthusiasts, it’s hard not to become excited by any news from one of the watchmaking giants. 1st July 2015 marks the launch of the new Rolex five year warranty, covering everything the old guarantee covered, but for more than twice as long.
Now let’s be honest – a five year warranty is hardly an innovation. Brands of similar ilk (although many will argue there are none) like Breitling and Omega have been offering five and four year warranties respectively over the last few years. However, any savvy consumer will soon realise that to qualify for said warranty, you have to shell out an extra few pounds and buy their premium product.
In the case of Breitling, for example, £6760 will buy their Chronomat 44 equippped with their in house 01 calibre. Admittedly you get a lot of watch for your money: not only is the Chronomat easy on the eyes but it’s waterproof to 500m, has a unidirectional bezel, screw-down pushers, and of course a chronograph. On top of all this you’ll be given a Breitling five year warranty which now manifests itself in the form of a fancy little futuristic gadget. So far so good. Now to the small print: in order to take full advantage of this fancy new warranty, you must take your watch to an authorised dealer every two years for them to test the watches water resistency. What happens if you forget?. Time flies , you could have three new watches to switch between by then!. Not only that, but if you decided to go for a classic like the Navitimer 01, a pilots watch with virtually no measurable water resistancy, you still have to do the same or risk forfeiting your extended warranty and putting yourself out of pocket should any “water resistence problems” arise.
Comparitavly, albeit more expensive, £7950 will buy you an iconic Rolex Cosmograph Daytona in stainless steel. For your money you get a minimum of 100m water resistence, a chronograph, a tachymeter bezel, screw-down pushers, and..well..a Daytona. Add that to a tried and tested in-house calibre 4130, and you have all the makings of an icon. And to top it off, a five year international warranty. No conditions. And the best part is that this warranty covers the entire Rolex range – not just the top end. So, it doesn’t matter if you buy a £5000 Submariner or a £50,100 Platinum Daytona – everyone receives the same standard and gets the paperwork to prove it!.
There’s also some good news for those who bought a Rolex between 1st July 2013 and 30th June 2015, a one year grace period has been added to your watch, effectively giving you a three year warranty. For many this will make no difference. However given that along with this announcement, Rolex have confirmed that they now officially recommend service intervals of 10 years on each and every watch that they produce (on our last count 800,000+ annually), this demonstrates an incredible confidence and credibility in all the products they manufacture, a universal standard across the board.
To anyone even slightly horologically literate, the name Patek Philippe means a great deal. Not only are they the last family owned watchmaker left in Geneva, but they quite possibly manufacture the finest watches money can buy.
May 2014 marked the company’s 175th Anniversary and, as such, a year of celebration began. October 2014 saw the launch of several highly exclusive anniversary pieces created in limited numbers including the incredible Grand Master Chime, the brands most complicated wristwatch yet housing 20 complications over two neighbouring dials. Like many we can only dream of owning one of these watches, however in May of this year Patek decided to hold a Grand Exhibition to round off their year of celebration, giving many the chance to view some of their most impressive horological achievements along with rarely seen watchmaking artifacts of incredible historic importance. And the best part?, free admission to all!.
Held in the beautiful Saatchi Gallery in London, the exhibition attracted some 40,000 visitors in just under two weeks. It was the largest of its kind, and spanned 21 rooms – each more impressive than the next.
The first room we visited was the Royal Room, displaying watches owned by Queen Victoria and even the watch currently owned by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who graciously gave her permission to have the watch for the purpose of the Grand Exhibition.
Other rooms contained more historic pieces, which was perhaps our highlight of the trip. We were able to view pieces shipped directly from the Patek Philippe museum, and some even plucked directly from Thierry Stern’s private collection. Viewing included Antoine Norbert de Patek’s watch; the first wristwatch manufactured by the brand, sold to a Countess of Hungary in 1868; and a tableclock in the shape of a birdcage, home to two birds who sing along to music while jumping from post to post. There were so many marvels of engineering and technical innovation showcased across the exhibition, however none caught our eye quite as much as the Birdcage tableclock. It’s important to remember that this piece is entirely mechanical and pre-dates electricity by almost five decades.
Moving on to the Rare Handcrafts, and the Complications Rooms we were treated to a plethora of toubillions, minute repeaters, celestial complications, handcrafted enamel pieces, and everything manufactured in what Patek call the “Realm of the Extraordinary”. And extraordinary it was. In fact, having considered the time taken to manufacture just one of these pieces, there was undoubtedly generations worth of man hours and pain staking craftsmanship spread across not only these rooms but the entire exhibition. Proof of this was evident in the Rare Handcrafts and Artisan’s Room, home to a few enamellers and engravers who very kindly allowed us to gaze annoyingly while they shared their trade with us – for many taking decades to master.
Finally, we came to see what for many was the piece de resistance: The Grand Master Chime. Housed in its own little glass tower, and only to be viewed by five at a time, the Grand Master Chime is indeed a sight to behold. Hand engraving the case alone takes upward of 200 hours and is completed correctly on the first try! Add that to the mind-blowing complication comprising 1366 components, developed and constructed over seven years, there’s no wonder why you’ll pay upwards of £2,000,000 for the privilege of owning one of seven pieces to be made.
Unfortunately, the opportunity to achieve complete watch nirvana has all but passed. Perhaps we can wait with exitement for it to return on their 200th anniversary! Only time will tell, but one thing’s for certain – it’s worth the wait.