CONCEPT "Thematic"

I must say that I find myself very lucky to be able to have seen and Photographed one of these in the flesh. This particular "Thematic" is the number 12 out of 16. The engraving on the back is based on the HMS Royal Oak vessel from the British Navy. Yes, the very same one that the RoyalOak was inspired upon. Even if the whole Concept Thematic is a series of 16 all are branded "Piece Unique" since they have been had decorated with different motives each time. The case is just like the predecessor, Alacrite 602. The bezel is in Titanium and curved with a concave glass. Thank god the original Kevlar strap is back!

The variation over the original Concept is the nano-fiber baseplate on these. The same as on the Richard Mille High-End models. If the Concept One was stunning, this one will blow your socks off! Surprising is the price, despite being a Piece Unique, it's the same as a "Carbon Concept Watch".

I sincerely hope that this case of the Concept One will continue be and not be replaced by the flat bezel on the "Carbon Concept Watch". What I really wish for 2009 is to NEVER see that cheap, tacky, unforgiving,tasteless, gaudy and ungraceful crocodile bracelet on the Carbon Concept, ever.

Audemars Piguet...


Last week AP opened its Madrid Boutique, the "Don Ramon de la Cruz". Larger than most other AP Boutiques and with a philosophy that will set precedents. Part of the new approach to the new Don Ramon Boutique is to invite AP fans as well watch lovers to come in and have a drink to enjoy the atmosphere amongst people that share the same passion. The first drink will make you not be able to buy a watch on that day. The unwritten rule on the first day is to introduce the boutique to a guest and not sell a watch to a customer. If you like something you have to come back the next day. Apart from being able to see the watchmakers at work there is a dinning area downstairs where VIPs and good customers will get dinners hosted by AP. The dinners will be prepared by Star Chefs for a maximum of eight people at a time. The first dinner (test) was prepared by Sergi Arola (two Michelin stars). Spectacular...

The displays will change once a week and will be themed with several and very watch unrelated materials. As you might see from the pictures the first week they had a "vegetable" theme and this week it was automotive. There are few watches on display for two reasons; the first, is to give more emphasis on the watch and the second is when you ask for something you will be able to see the whole collection. The selection is quite impressive, I do not know of many places where you will be able to see the Grande Complicacion in its RoyalOak and Jules Audemars version. I have no idea what the theme will be next week. It is very likely that you will not see the same displays twice ever.

An oddity is that the team headed by Ignacio Piera all speak English. Quite a rarity amongst my fellow Spaniards only several years ago. Furthermore, Ignacio (the director) has watchmaking skills and actually knows what he talks about. A rare bird in the trade...

The most peculiar (and my favorite) aspect of the Don Ramon Boutique is a small library that will accept, now hear this, books and catalogues from other brands! Now, to my knowledge there is NO boutique from any brand that will allow this. I guess they are the first to have the guts to do this. I would really love to see a book on Jaeger, Rolex or SINN inside an Omega store. Actually, I double-dare Patek to do this at their boutiques... I think that to be very difficult to say the least. Probably this might be the "anecdote" that best resumes the character of the boutique.

Audemars Piguet...

Richard Lange "Pour le Merite"

Wow. What a piece. Thankfully, after last year's Cabaret, Lange & Soehne have decided to redeem themselves. Even if it is limited and most are already allocated, whit this Richard lange they have done quite an impressive work of art. Striping the watch to the bare essential (Hours, minutes and seconds) and concentrate on what is really the achievement. The "fusée-and-chain transmission". The predecessor like the "Turbograph" did not play too much emphasis on the FCT complication once you had the watch in hand. Yes, you got a lot of schematics and pictures but little interaction with the complication since you could not see the chain. Now you can very well see the chain from behind. Observing it while winding is really something... The downside to this little work of art will undoubtedly be the price. Expect it to be close to the 100k mark in Euros and well over that in dollars.

Physically the Richard Lange "Pour le Merite" feels well proportioned. Personally I would have added one millimeter to the case and maybe the traditional German 12 in red, but you can't have it all. When holding this Richard Lange you do get a sense of quality and care that is very present when you hold, a Dufour, Voutilainen or Greubel Forsey. It is almost mystical to hold them. Even if the movement is not as spectacular as the Double-Split (still unparalleled in the industry) this Lange has more magic. An unequivocal sign that this one will hurt your valet big time! Either run far, far away or entrust your wife with the key to your cash safe (not sure if that is too smart either...).

At this point I must thank Lange for not doing yet another senseless Tourbillon. I sincerely hope that one of the casualties of the crisis is the Tourbillon in general. Honestly, 90% of the Tourbillon out there are garbage. If you don't believe me, see the prices you get for them in the second hand market. There are exceptions (RM and the Concepts by AP) but the general rule is that you will loose quiet a bundle if one day you decide to part with it. The dumbest complication to transit from the pocket watch to our wrists has been milked to the max in order to justify prices in the 200 Thousand range. The down side to this behavior is that the industry has complicated their own future. With that greedy strategy they have led people to understand that expensive watches MUST and only CAN be a Tourbillon. The result is that many other more elaborate, interesting and useful complications are a hard sale. Now, when you quote a price somewhere above 100 thousand you get the automatic; "Is it a TOURBILLON?" If the answer is no, then you are looked at as if you where retarded. Can't blame the industry for doing their marketing, yet doing it right is another mater. Every monkey out there knows that such thing as a Tourbillon exists. They know that it's expensive yet they have no clue as to what it does, why it does what it does, why it is so hard to make and why it has come to be in the first place.

A. Lange & Söhne...

Silent Arrival

In case there are any doubts... yes, this is the first picture of the RBIII on the net. As far as I Know there are no official pictures of this piece yet. So for now this "improvised" shot will have to do to quench your thirst for information.

Nothing has been filtered to the press and few people really knew this was coming. Many rumors but no pictures and even less certainty about price and delivery times. The Barrichello IIIs are hitting stores as we speak.The list in the EU is 48,000 €, I guess that in the US you will be close to the 60's mark.

Once I have better and oficial pictures I will post them as soon as I can.

Audemars Piguet...

Motorola "AURA"

Since we are close to Christmas this review might be a little off topic regarding watches but in season regarding the holidays. Just received the "Aura" as a present last week (I guess it pays being well connected...).

Let me start at the end of my review... Is it worth 2,000$ or 1,500€? Well, yes and no. On one side it is quite a piece of hardware but it will not make me drop my iPhone for it. The reason being that the iPhone as a tool and everyday companion is simply unrivaled. In a few words the iPhone is "Mobile Phone 2.0" while all the rest, including the Aura, are still 1.0 mobile phoning. While some have dramatically increased the level of hardware (Vertu, Mobiado, Meridiist, Gresso...) the software is the same ol' unhelpful crap that we have been blessed with for the last decade. Remove color, fancy sounds and you just have the same software they "all" made a decade ago. The problem is not so much related to a larger screens and more resolution but much more related to common sense. For now only Apple have managed to get close to what we as users really need.

Now back to the Aura. The first impression is that it's a very sexy piece of kit. Not as sturdy as a Vertu but with a screen that will, dare I say it?.. blow you nuts off. Literally. This thing has a resolution of 300 dpi (dots per inch)! In layman's terms, this resolution is what you get out of a printer. Right now, the resolution that you are using on your monitor (while wasting precious time reading my blog) is approximately 72 dpi. In some cases you will get a whooping 120 dpi. I have never seen this kind of resolution on a commercial screen before. Only commercial and military planes have better quality screens on their flight instruments. This makes anything on this phone look like butter. Seriously, contrast and light is so good that it looks like a fake. Like a prototype where the screen is printed on a transparency and lit with an LCD bulb. Eery feeling...

Now, after a week here are my impressions;

I like:
- The screen. So good it's scary.
- The size makes it a much more pleasant alternative to other "high-end" competitors.
- It is a very atractive phone. The graphics have been somewhat improved compared to previous products of the brand.
- You can update the Firmware yourself. Believe me, you will need to do that in the future...
- Reception is quite strong. Motorola do that quite well.
- The clocks as screensavers. Simply magnificent. Just close it and spend 30 seconds looking at it...
- It is not 3G. Completely useless feature in a "glam-phone". Puts a lot of unnecessary strain on battery life. EDGE and GPRS are more than sufficient for wap, sms, and mms.
- The screen. Again, it's so good it's scary.

I don't like:
- Menus are slow. Obviously. The screen has quite a large resolution at 16 million colors. It would take a very large amount of processing power to drive it properly.
- Icons are jumpy. Again, if you don't have enough CPU power just stop making moving icons! It's better to have them fixed instead of jumping around.
- Bluetooth is less than stable when syncing.
- Sound quality is a bit too crisp.
- Interferences can be heard through the speaker when speaking. A big NO NO at this stage of development. This "might" be resolved with an upcoming firmware update.
- Menus are still too clumsy. You need to touch too many buttons to go where you ultimately want to be.
- The center navigation button should have been a wheel. It is a bit too close to other buttons.
- The mini-USB connector. Complete bullshit! (I hate micro and mini USB ports!) Unless they become a standard everywhere they are but a nuisance.
- The battery life is barely 24 hours under moderate use... about 2 hours talk time. It will hold if you charge it every night though. If it had a regular USB port and not a mini-USB you could emergency charge almost anywhere. But no, they HAD to put that mini-USB connector...
- The supplied headset is not worth unwrapping.
- I suspect a black PVD version soon. Yes, they guys over at Motorola are soooo predictable sometimes...
- The battery indicator has only three segments. At least five would be adequate.
- The motorola icons are still on the "crapish" side. They urgently need a good designer to redo them.

I miss:
- More options to personalize themes further.
- The front light, around the logo, can't be modified to light in certain conditions etc...
- It would have been awesome to add a chime, repeater, sonerie, etc... function. Synthesize a the sound of a hammer and repeat away!
- A weather forecast.
- A charging stand. this would make you drop it there when you go to bed and take it back fully charged in the morning.

Like I said, the Aura will not make me drop my iPhone as a day-phone, yet it will make me get a second card and use this when I go out at night. The iPhone is a bit large, clumsy and less than sexy. Leaving it at home while going out for the evening and preventing you from checking your email, weather or the latest news will be very welcomed by your date and friends.

My Aura...

P.s. Does Motorola have one of the slowest loading sites on the net or is it just me?

Linde Werdelin "Black DLC"

Definitely on the right track. Linde Werdelin have been traveling a difficult road to say the least. When you start a project with two goals in mind it is very likely you will get halfway through both and go bust rather soon. Going luxury watch and high-end sports electronics would undoubtedly create some conflicts amongst possible Luxury watch customers that don't care about electronics and electronics fans that don't see the need to spend big money on anything else that the gadget. Despite both product being much more than acceptable one of the two sides was the excuse not to get the other. Both are actually great products, especially the "Land Instrument" or computer. Wireless, weighing only 41 grams (!) and giving you weather forecasts, heart rate, avalanche alerts, temperature, altimeter, frostbite alarms, compass... and the list goes on. The watch itself is not a Patek but it does what it is supposed to do as a sports watch. It is rugged and has a reliable and easily serviceable movement. Personally, I would not choose anything other than an ETA in a sports watch, it just makes no sense. Regardless if you have a virtually indestructible watch case the movement inside is just as susceptible to bad treatment as if inside a gold dress watch. While you can fight corrosion, pressure and wear the movement is still subject to inertia and impacts.

Now, what was missing? I would guess that only with the arrival of this DLC version it has become really apparent. Dare I say it? Yes, glamour. More accurately... a reason for you to buy the watch that sets it apart from the rest. The DLC treatment does just that. A bulls eye! It hits the mark to the point of making even the hardest critics put this on their most wanted list. Pictures do not do this DLC Linde Werdelin any justice. There will be only 22 of these in black and 22 in green. I understand the decision to make only 22 in green yet there is room for 222 in black, they would have been gone quite fast. The grayish finish of the DLC gives the watch an aggressive quality without being over designed that is rarely seen on other similar products.

So, what's next? Quite frankly I think that the black DLC version should be included in their general catalogue. Furthermore, it would be time to revise the faces and maybe look into matt version and stop at least the shiny ones. Playing around with different Luminovas like black, orange, green or yellow could also be interesting. The deployant buckle also needs revision. It is actually the only thing in all their concept that does not feel quite right. I don't know if it is the "butterfly" folding or that it is a bit too large. It just feels clumsy and not in sync with the rest of the watch. The case, hands, straps and general design are more than well conceived. Despite the case being similar in shape to a RoyalOak it has a character of its own. The watch is at 42 millimeters just the right size for most plus the fixed strap and inner shape of the watch envelops your wrist to perfection.

Together with the Land and Sea Instruments this black DLC Linde Werdelin is a very cool piece of kit. If it where to be added to the regular collection I suggest a very urgent visit to a photo-studio, the current pictures do not reflect the watches' character in any way.

Linde Werdelin...

Welcome Back!

It was about time to rescue the "Jules Audemars" from the pits. Being absorbed by their star product, the RoyalOak together with an enormous (but futile) effort to place the Millenary in the market, there has been little attention set on their Jules Audemars line. This has been so to the extent of having a gap of over 50k between their simple hour-date and the second option, the "Equation of Time". Surprising to say the least, since the Jules Audemars is one of better classic watch cases together with Patek and Jaeger. Very well balanced and quite comfortable due to the lack of sharp edges. A real treat to the wrist yet completely forgotten when it comes to options.

Now, the once discontinued Jules Chrono is back for January. Since its disappearance two years ago it has grown 3 millimeters wider. Enough for most mid to large sized wrists out there to consider this a very interesting option. Personally I would have gone 44 mm instead of 42 mm. Or maybe making it 2 mm thinner would have helped in the proportions. (Many of us would not mind a re-edition of the "Double-X"). From the pictures I get the impression that the watch is a bit on the "chubby" side. I remember the 39 mm version thiner, not certain though. Since the new and larger version carries the same movement there is no reason why it should be thicker. I have not read any information in the press release that suggests there is a new soft-iron antimagnetic case. I suspect increase in thickness could be due to the designers wish to maintain proportions with regard to the predecessor.

As for the looks there is no doubt that it is a very attractive piece. Both of them this time. This is a first since most of the times it is one or the other. Personally, I tend to the white-gold piece yet I would not mind the rose-gold for once. The white has a more "vintage" feel to it with the cream dial and art-deco numerals. A very attractive watch. Unfortunately, there will be only 300 of these a year. Even if it does not have the "LE tag" it will be more rare that the last Limited Edition, the Survivor. This means that not every dealer in the world will be getting even one of these next year.

The question remains... Now, what's next? What about the same but with a manual movement? In-house, power reserve, thiner case, large date, rattrapante... just thinking aloud here. It would be interesting to have something in the 30k to 40k range to compete against Jaeger's Duometre, Lange's Datograph and Patek's 5070. Especially the 5070, since this is the last year that Patek is getting Lemanias delivered for their manual chrono. In a last attempt to maximize bucks, Patek have made the last 5070s in Platinum. Ironic that a powerhouse that pretends to be recognized for integrity and class would make such a tasteless and greedy move. It would be time now for AP to take up that challenge, God knows that if anybody can, it would be them.

Audemars Piguet...