Timothy Barber is the editor of 0024 WatchWorld UK, and one of the UK’s leading watch journalists. He is the founder and editor of the London Time watch supplement for City AM newspaper, and contributes regularly to the Financial Times, the Times, the Telegraph and many other magazines and newspapers on the subject of watches and the watch industry. He also writes about men’s style, travel, luxury lifestyle and the arts for a variety of publications.
When I first became interested in watches, it was IWC’s Portuguese that got me hooked. A friend had one. As a junior journalist with no previous knowledge of expensive watches or any notion that people still even wore mechanical timepieces, I’d recently stumbled upon this strange industry that was turning dead technology into high art. Suddenly I was noticing the watches people wore, and my friend’s IWC Portuguese Automatic had me transfixed: the balance of the design, the perfect proportions of every element, the crispness of the numerals. Suddenly it clicked why people fetishized these mechanical devices, and I caught the bug. One day I will have one, I told myself.
Hello from Zurich, where Girard Perregaux has just announced a rather significant horological breakthrough. Actually, its “constant escapement” has been known about for some time, having been in development since 2008, but the thing has finally been put into a very special watch – and here it is.
Zenith watches is this week holding a special pop-up shop in London’s Canary Wharf, with the entire watch collection on display. 2012 was an absolute smash for Zenith: its pilot watch collection, including the enormous, retro-styled Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20, the dashing El Primero Big Date Special (pictured above) and the handsome Doublematic with world time and alarm function, was a huge hit with enthusiasts, while it also introduced an entirely new line, the entry level Espada (three-hand watches with El Primero movement). Then, of course, Felix Baumgartner jumped out of space, and immediately made the Zenith Stratos the must-have watch of daredevil adventurers everywhere.
It’s great to see the response we’ve had from readers to the new Pin-Ups section of the website, and I thought I’d post my own. The thing is, you never know when an opportunity may arise: earlier this week I found myself, while on holiday, in the co-pilot’s seat of a very small aircraft (whizzing over the Caribbean since you ask... *ahem* it’s a hard life…). I don’t know too much about flying planes, but felt I fitted in pretty well since I was wearing my Zenith El Primero Big Date Special pilot’s watch at the time. I think it looked pretty much at home in the cockpit:
Let’s talk about Baume & Mercier’s new range of classical watches, called “Clifton”. I’ll be honest, I care not for the name – apparently it’s after a suburb of Capetown (rather than the Bristol environ). It’s not the most elegant word, and it seems a rather arbitrary pick – I suppose it’s to do with B&M’s rather over-branded theme of sexy seaside living, but it hardly screams “horological beauty”.
One of our favourite places, the Fine Watch Room at Harrods, is currently home to an exhibition of many of the new watches announced at SIHH. Watch fans who want to check these out before they read all about them in the forthcoming issues of 0024 WatchWorld and 0024 Horloges are able to see these until this Sunday.
One of the most unusual items on display at SIHH was a huge ceramic pocket watch from Panerai – or to give it its full name, the Pocket Watch Tourbillon GMT Ceramica (PAM00446). A few of us caught a glimpse of this in prototype form at SIHH last year, but the 59mm whopper of a watch is now ready and properly on show.
If I’m honest, SIHH 2013 seemed a slightly muted affair. There were few genuinely new and original watches outside the haute horological limited editions, and excitement levels weren’t quite bubbling over. It’s not that there weren’t plenty of superbly made watches (there certainly were) and bold horological flights of fancy (thank you Roger Dubuis, Greubel Forsey and others); but the new watches in the mainstream ranges were mostly evolutions, in some cases bordering on repetitions, rather than genuine new directions. After last year’s Asian-friendly razzmatazz, when you couldn’t move for garish dragons, eye-popping skeletonization and crazy tourbillons, it all seemed a little quieter.
Consider yourself a prudent watch collector, a sensible manager of your horological investments and one who is able to apply budgetary responsibility to your purchases? Then you’ll need a fitting watch box in which to keep them, and Blighty’s very own watch company Bremont may have come up with the very thing just in time for Christmas. It’s inspired by the ministerial box – or Gladstone box - customarily held aloft by the Chancellor of the Exchequer outside 11 Downing Street on Budget Day, and is one rather beautiful piece of highly-secure watch kit.
Each year, as most watch fans will know, IWC concentrates its new models around one of its families of watches, and in 2013 it’s the Ingenieur line that’ll be getting a reboot. We can now bring you the first new watches of the collection, along with a bit of associated scene setting – and it’s all about speed. With the new Ingenieur pieces IWC is getting on board with one of the fastest Formula 1 teams on the planet, Mercedes AMG Petronas - Lewis Hamilton's new home for 2013. I just spent two days in the company of IWC and the F1 team, and in the next issue of the magazine we’ll bring you an exclusive look inside the team’s factory and HQ. But for now, let’s concentrate on the watches.
ambassador Auction Audemars Piguet Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Baselworld 2011 Baselworld 2012 Baselworld 2013 Baume & Mercier Blancpain Books Breitling Bruun Rasmussen Cartier Chopard Girard Perregaux Hublot IWC IWC Big Pilot Jaeger LeCoultre Jean Claude Biver Jeremiah Case Karel Hubert Kristian Haagen Lange und Soehne Linde Werdelin Linde Werdelin SpidoLite II Nato strap Nautilus Omega Panerai Patek Philippe Piaget Rafael Nadal Richard Mille Roger Dubuis Rolex Rolex Sea Dweller Rolex Submariner SIHH 2012 SIHH 2013 Steve McQueen TAG Heuer Technical Tuesday Vacheron Constantin Zenith