It seems these days, that in order to get truly noticed in this crowded watch market, the watch companies have taken the complication pact to “boldly go where no one has gone before.”
In the Swiss watch industry, they seem to be oblivious to the Red Queen Phenomenon. They aren’t running as fast as they can to keep their market share. The luxury watch consumer is not getting more for the money. We’re not getting better quality, or longer warranties, or free servicing out of warranty. In fact, the only true improvement we’re getting is a better distribution of the watches, thus making them more readily attainable.
China makes more than just that, especially today. The "high-end" segment of the Chinese watch industry is beginning to take a more impressive form thanks to volume and confidence. A few years ago I did a review of the Longio Telamon 1000M Diver Tourbillon watch. In discussing that brand over the course of a few articles I praised them for their Chinese character, and I made an overall assertion to the Chinese watch industry of what I thought it needed to do to succeed. My message was clear, "to succeed and grow you need to work with your Chinese character and heritage versus just copying the Swiss." One of the worst offenders is a brand called Sea-Gull. Widely known for their inexpensive copies of Swiss movements, they also have a range of self-branded timepieces. Many of them are decent looking, but they are still blatant copies of the aesthetic from Patek Philippe and other Swiss brands. The only Chinese character in them is the name on the dial.
This latest episode of HourTime was recorded as a series of interviews and conversations that occurred while at the aBlogtoWatch event with Girard-Perregaux in New York City. You'll hear from John, Ariel, and fellow readers. Ariel also interviews Girard Perregaux CEO Michele Sofisti.
The salient features needed for a dive watch are: water resistance; rotating bezel; and possibly a helium escape valve. Water resistance is the key. Recreational divers reach depths up to 40m (rarely more) and technical divers limit is set to 100m. A true diving watch therefore needs to be able to sustain the kind of pressure at these limits, anything more is really bonus. Most diving watches are tested using an atmospheric pressure chamber hence the reason for 20 bars or 30 bars usually listed on modern diving watches.
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Nice, long, well-proportioned hands make for excellent legibility. Especially with a dial this wide, you'll read this at a glance.
The flying tourbillon features a one-minute rotation and its hand-finished 14mm cage offers a proportionally perfect balance for the time display dial. The curved case sides, short lugs and soft alligator strap (black or brown) make the UTTE just as comfortable to wear as it is nice to look at. While I am not generally a proponent of the "just put a tourbillon on it" mentality that is displayed in so many designs these days, I think that the balanced visual effect of the dial layout for the UTTE makes for one very compelling exception.
In 2009 Francois Quentin started the new brand 4N to produce the 4N-MVT01/D01 watch that we debuted back here in 2010. It was an ambitious project that involved the production of a fully mechanical watch that showed the time digitally on a series of overlapping discs. In 2011 we offered a hands-on look at a more complete prototype of the 4N, but one that wasn't quite working yet. Now, his own piece is being sold and Francois will hand deliver the watch to whomever buys it.