Academic success for independent watchmakers

This year the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants is celebrating three decades of existence. Some of the most gifted names in contemporary watchmaking have emerged from this hotbed of talent. Vincent Calabrese, who co-founded AHCI with Sven Andersen, looks back at this thirty-year adventure.

For any admirer of superlative timepieces, names such as Philippe Dufour, Kari Voutilainen, François-Paul Journe, Paul Gerber, Antoine Preziuso or Peter Speake-Marin invariably bring to mind exceptional 2015 new replica watches uk by individuals who form a class of their own. The one thing these professionals have in common is that they are all members of the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI), an institution with 33 members and seven candidates, and which celebrates its thirtieth anniversary in 2015. A milestone worth noting, particularly as several AHCI members are showing their work in Geneva, this January, on the fringes of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. An interview with Vincent Calabrese, co-founder with Sven Andersen of AHCI.

How would you summarise the past 30 years?

Vincent Calabrese: This anniversary really is a milestone in view of everything we’ve achieved. No-one today can ignore the importance our members have gained within the profession. From a personal perspective, this achievement is made all the more vital by the fact that AHCI is without doubt my finest creation. In 1985, the quartz crisis had left Swiss watchmaking on its knees. There was still demand for mechanical watches from overseas markets, but we were incapable of meeting it. Back then, just three or four movement-makers were still managing to survive, with ETA, Piguet, Lémania and Jaeger-LeCoultre. The Académie grew out of this observation: there is still demand, so let’s not give up the fight and instead take this opportunity to present something different. The rest, as they say, is history, with mechanical watches making their big comeback. Most replica Omega watches companies today have their own design office. They produce their own movements and in many cases external parts too. Without blowing our own trumpet, I think this development and the success that came with it is 60% thanks to AHCI.

Does it also reflect a change in mentalities?

It does indeed, as I was able to see for myself. When in 1977 I created the baguette movement for the Golden Bridge, brands were queuing at my door. Several were more than interested in buying it. I eventually chose Corum, who took three years to bring it to market. It was, however, a very different story as far as my own watches were concerned, where it was hugely difficult to find clients. In those days, customers were reluctant to buy their watch from the watchmaker. This wasn’t helped by the fact that brands kept quiet about the constructors who developed calibres for them. I experienced this with Corum, who offered me bigger royalties on the watches they sold in exchange for which I wouldn’t be named. I was so infuriated by all this, there was such a rage in my heart that together with Sven Andersen, I set up the Académie. We were rapidly joined by six other members for our debut exhibition at the Musée d’Horlogerie in Le Locle. This is where I showed my first tourbillon, an extra-thin movement with an eight-day power reserve. A rare complication back then, it was taken up by Blancpain…

And soon you were in the public eye…

Yes. More members joined over the years, and Baselworld gave us our own exhibition space very early on. After ten years, AHCI was beginning to make a name internationally. I’d say this is my second greatest source of pride as far as the Académie is concerned; the fact that its reputation has gone beyond Swiss borders. So much so, in fact, that it has welcomed members from all around the world. We’re just missing the United States. This proves that AHCI is playing the role for which it was created, namely to be a springboard for its members who can communicate through its voice. This is all the more important in what are now completely different circumstances. Watchmaking used to be a very unsexy profession. Now people get excited about best Swiss replica watchmakers producing any old thing. As a result, there’s now fierce competition, it’s more and more difficult to hold on to points of sale because of pressure from the big groups, and sources of supply are expensive, and few and far between. So yes, the situation has changed over the past thirty years but the craftsman-creator still faces very real difficulties. Hence why the Académie is as relevant today as ever. And why we have to show the same fighting spirit of thirty years ago!

Monochrome Essentials: Reviewing the Patek Philippe Ref. 5496P-014 Perpetual Calendar Retrograde

2014 was the year of steel for Patek Philippe. Alongside the huge surprise of the sporty Annual Calendar Chronograph 5960/1, we at Monochrome Watches presented you, in an extensive hands-on article, the new Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph ref. 5990/1A, a complicated edition of the Gérald Genta-designed icon. However, even with this recent trend toward steel (which was in answer to several collectors’ requests), we shouldn’t forget that Patek’s specialty is dress and complicated replica watches uk. One from the 2014 collection particularly grabbed our attention, the Patek Philippe 5496P-014 Perpetual Calendar Retrograde, with its new “honey brown” dial and distinctive layout, which could be described as “controlled eccentricity” in an otherwise very traditional world.

The Patek Philippe 5496P isn’t really a 2015 newest replica watch, as it had already been presented at Baselworld 2011 with a white dial. Also, the movement and its quite unusual layout is not specific to this reference, as the Caliber 324 S QR was already powering the 5159. The latter was somehow one of the most “off-the-beaten-path” watches in Patek’s collection back then (excepting a few very rare and limited editions). It came with an officer’s case (meaning straight lugs with screws on the side and a hinged dust cover on the back side), a guilloché dial with large Roman numerals, and unusual hands. In 2011, the first edition of the 5496P was a softer and more sober version of that layout, with its Calatrava case and “pure” dial design. For 2014, Patek Philippe brings back – in its usual, somewhat reserved fashion – a bit of eccentricity, a warm and pleasant color Patek calls “honey brown.”

The dial layout itself could be regarded as “out-of-the-way” for a Patek Philippe watch, as we are used to seeing Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendars with three subdials – like, for example, the iconic reference 5140. Don’t forget that we are talking about a brand build around tradition and classicism. What would be considered a total lack of originality in another, younger brand has to be seen in the context of one of the most conservative – in the best sense of the word – manufactures. Patek Philippe does not create MB&Fs of Urwerks. It does refined and classical Omega Replica watches, with elegance and soberness. So, in a sense, this layout is less conservative.

In the lower part of the dial sits the moon-phase indicator, represented with a blue disk and silver printings for the moon and stars. The perpetual calendar’s indications are displayed in three apertures: day at 9 o’clock, month at 3 o’clock, and leap year at 12 o’clock. The date is indicated by a retrograde hand that points to a scale between 7 o”clock and 4 o’clock. Time is classically displayed by dauphine hands in the center of the dial.


Close-Up: Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch “Dark Side of the Moon”

Since its debut in 1957, Omega’s iconic Speedmaster chronograph, nicknamed “Moonwatch” for its presence on all six NASA lunar missions, sported a tricompax dial arrangement. In 2011, Omega outfitted the Top Swiss Replica Watches UK with a new co-axial movement and bicompax design, both of which are used again in the first Moonwatch with a black ceramic case, unveiled at Baselworld 2013.

The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch “Dark Side of the Moon” derives its name from its black zirconium oxide ceramic dial and matching black ceramic case, which is 44.25 mm in diameter and boasts both brushed and polished finishes. The dial is notable for its applied indices, made of 18k white gold, and the two blackened subdials at 3 o’clock and 6 o’clock. This new bicompax subdial arrangement was first used on the Replica Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Co-Axial Chronograph, the first Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch to contain Omega’s in-house chronograph Caliber 9300. As on that model, the subdial at 3 o’clock serves as both the 12-hour and 60-minute counter, using two hands to display the elapsed time intuitively. The small seconds subdial is at 9 o’clock, and the date is displayed on a window at 6 o’clock, the spot occupied by the elapsed-hours subdial in older models.

The hour and minute hands, as well as the hands on both subdials, are also made of 18k white gold. the central chronograph hand is rhodium-plated and ends in a red tip. For this latest version of its iconic moon watch, Omega has coated the hour, minute and chronograph hands, as well as the two small dots at 12 o’clock, with Super-LumiNova for legibility in the dark. The bezel, also made from polished black ceramic, has the Speedmaster’s familiar tachymeter scale, here inscribed in matte chromium nitride. The chronograph pushers are in polished ceramic. The Rolex Replica Watches for Men, which is water-resistant to 50 meters, has scratch-resistant sapphire crystals in the front and back.

IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Pure Classic

For years, the Portofino line from IWC Schaffhausen was seen as the silent star of the company’s product portfolio. Subject to continuous development, the line has increasingly been the focus of attention from watch devotees, its appeal based on minimalist design and discreet elegance. Now, in the shape of the Portofino Hand-Wound Pure Classic, the family has a new addition that celebrates the art of understatement with its own distinctive charm and style.

A wristwatch could hardly be more modest: with two hands and a winding crown, it has nothing to distract from the purist lines and clear-cut dial design. After all, the soul of genuine elegance lies in the art of omission. The Portofino Hand-Wound Pure Classic (Ref. IW511101/IW511102) dispenses with any form of embellishment and was designed, purely and simply, to show the time of day. It also radiates composure and an undiluted aesthetic. It has a traditional, arched-edge front glass, which not only makes the 43.5-millimetre diameter of this harmonious model seem smaller than it actually is, but also gives the Swiss Replica Watches UK watch a classic, balanced appearance. In order to make the overall impression as discreet as possible, even the power reserve display has been moved to the back of the watch, where it can be seen through the sapphire-glass back.

Peerless mechanics in a traditional design

The IWC hand-wound 59060 calibre is famed for its stamina: fully wound, with no further action required, it will continue running for precisely 192 hours or 8 full days. Only then will the owner need to replenish its store of energy by winding the Omega Replica Watches Sale via the crown. Two large bridges conceal the rear of the movement almost entirely, leaving just the balance on view. This contemporary watch design guarantees an impressive level of robustness and reliability. The upper bridge serves as a bearing for the barrel, the differential and the winding mechanism, while the lower bridge fulfils the same function for the power reserve display and conceals the train-wheel bridge below. All bridges are exquisitely decorated with Geneva stripes. The movement also features an indexless balance, which has four golden weight screws on the balance rim to facilitate precision adjustment. As is standard for most modern watch movements, it oscillates at a frequency of 4 hertz, or 28,800 beats per hour. Like the Breguet spring bent into shape in using traditional watchmaking techniques, this also helps to make the Replica Watches UK Online extremely precise. The Portofino Hand-Wound Pure Classic in red gold (Ref. IW511101) sports a silver-plated dial and gold-plated hands  and  indices  as  well as a dark brown leather strap. The stainless-steel version (Ref. IW511102) is available with a silver-plated dial, rhodium-plated hands and indices and a black leather strap. The high-quality straps are made exclusively for IWC Schaffhausen by renowned Italian shoe manufacturer Santoni, now run by the second generation of the family in the form of Giuseppe Santoni. A complex technique during the manufacturing process endows the leather with a patina that results in the characteristic gradation of colour. The technique makes the leather appear as though it has been lovingly used for several years, although it is, in fact, brand new. Another instantly recognizable Santoni feature is the orange leather lining found on the inner surface of the strap. All the charm and aesthetic appeal of life in southern Europe is united in the perfect craftsmanship of both watch and strap. The Portofino Hand-Wound Pure Classic is available in an unlimited edition exclusively at selected IWC boutiques.