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A Closer Look At The “Palace” From Jean Dunand

Posted: 18 Mar 2010 04:50 AM PDT

During SIHH I was able to meet up with the representatives of Jean Dunand at a hotel outside the main venue. Now I like their watches, I think their “Toubillion Orbital” movement is very interesting, but while I admire the technical achievement of the dials and their use of a whole range of techniques from enamel and lacquer through to natural stones, they just don’t do it for me.

However over the last 10 days or so a teaser campaign has been on-going on Twitter and Facebook. Allusions to mechanical workings and architecture along with teaser photos have been the order of the day and have become more and more exciting. Well last week I had the fantastic opportunity to see the MB&F “Thunderbolt” machine and this week I am in the right place to see the new mechanical masterpiece from Jean Dunand.

The watch takes its cues from the “Art Deco” period having a pronounced architectural theme. The watch is called “The Palace” and by any measure is a big, and I mean BIG, watch. To all intents and purposes square, it is an assembly of mechanical complications presented in a masterpiece of a case.

So let’s start with the case, each corner is marked with representations of the feet of the Eiffel Tower, the sides arch towards the face with the space under the arch being filled with sapphire crystal to allow you to see the inner workings. The case is a mixture of titanium and gold, the titanium both frosted and polished with gold strands mimicking the lattice work of the Eiffel Tower’Å› structure.

Technically the movement is a single button chronograph, but truthfully that doesn’t do it justice. At first glance it looks like the steel structure of a skyscaper; different layers, pillars and pulleys that entice you in to look closer. In fact is it much more complicated than that, down the side are two indicators, the right side is the power reserve and the left is the GMT indicator. This is set by a button on the edge of the case marked “GMT” so you aren’t in any doubt.

Both of these indicators are set pierced beams, unusually these are powered by a chain, yes really a chain, which is assembled in-house and each one takes five full eight hour days to put together, now that’s what I call dedication.

The GMT indicator has a further complication because while the power reserve just goes up and down the GMT has 1 – 12 on one edge and 13 -24 on the other, it points to the right during the morning and then flips to the left for the afternoon, I like that.

Perhaps the biggest reservation I have is the size, as I said at the beginning it’s big, though not as heavy as you might think, the use of titanium and other exotic materials keeps it as svelte as possible. But there is no getting away from the size, perhaps the closest thing is the Richard Mille pocket watch, but that is a brute, and heavy. I did ask if they had considered making a pocket version and I wasn’t laughed off so it remains a possibility so keep an eye out.

The watch will be available around September or October depending on any last minute changes that might be needed, prices to be announced, but likely to be high as will be demand. If you are in the market this should be a serious contender for your money.

I am pleased to say here is a Jean Dunand watch I can really get excited about.

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Basel World 2010: Press Day

Posted: 18 Mar 2010 02:51 AM PDT

Before reporting on the Press Day of Baselworld I should make it clear that the life of an itinerant journalist isn’t as glamorous at it might seem.

Where as the first public day is Thursday, the first day of Baselworld is actually the Press Only day on the Wednesday, As you might expect for a Swiss event everything is laid on and as long as you follow the procedure everything will be fine, trying to get around the rules will not do you any good.

The press area is upstairs in the main hall with plenty of lockers for you to store your stuff, please take note SIHH, and a key can be yours for a 10CHF deposit, bargain. With a central area with about 50 internet PCs and a separate area with WiFi for laptop users everything is looking good. So pausing only to store the very heavy catalogue I set off to bluff my way into “The Palace”.

Opposite the Ramada hotel there is a rigid tent area which houses “The Dream Factory”, Rebellion and… Casio. Go figure!! This will be site for the Press lunch but I wanted to meet up with Peter Speake-Marin and Max Büsser before the show got too busy. Speake-Marin, MB&F, Christophe Claret and Urwerk have a nice dedicated area with comfy seats, demo rooms and soft carpet, very swank.

As I reported last week MB&F have the new Thunderbolt machine along with their watches, the one on show today however has the hands mounted and now it is clear that the layout is going to be time on one arm of the machine with the power reserve on the other. So this will be the first MB&F Horological Machine that has a conventional time layout, that’s a surprise. For a little bit of added spice Max B. wants to show the thunderbolt without the hands, but where to find a watchmaker when you need one? Well Peter Speake-Marin worked on Horological Machine No. 1 so can be trusted.

I can assure you there is nothing like watching a master at work.

Peter Speake-Marin’s stunningly simplistic “Marin 1″ © Speake-Marin

For Speake-Marin this year is about making the most of the in-house movement, the Marin 1. While much of the watch range is classically inspired and for one-off pieces clients can have any decoration they feel appropriate, there was one watch on display that was a bit of a departure. Based on a Roman numeral dial with the numbers at the quarters, the dial has been cut away between the quarters to reveal the movement. The remaining dial from the edge to the centre holds the numbers but rather than enamel they are “blued” with the numbers cut out and filled to make them luminous. With the oversize hands also luminous, this is an equally striking watch in daylight and at night.

So a good start to the day time to head back into the main halls. For press day the halls are open but generally unfinished, here you get to see the “greasy” side of shows, how all the magic works behind the scenes. The halls are generally pretty empty but the stock is usually on show so it is a great time to study the trends without being hassled by the booth staff or fighting with the large number of visitors that descend at the weekend.

The main halls are dedicated to the major brands with their huge stands, there are lots of watches on view but it all pretty standard fair and not the main stomping ground of “The Watch Lounge”. Then there are the jewelery halls but all the wonderful independent makers are in smaller venues around the periphery. The AHCI has a nice booth, by all accounts better than last years, with a range of members showing their watches and clocks. The star is most certainly Thomas Pescher with his “Anniversaire” watch that reminds you of birthdays and anniversaries, no excuse for missing your partner’s birthday ever again.

Next, interviews with a few, hopefully interesting, smaller brands, and then home to Geneva.

Life’s tough at the top apparently. More to follow.

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Christophe Claret caliber CLA02CMP, exclusive to Jean Dunand, a manual-wind one minute tourbillon with mono-pusher chronograph, power reserve indicator and GMT complication. Sliding rod transmission via hollow cam. Chain-drive for winding mechanism. It has 53 jewels, 21,600 vph and a power reserve of 3 days.

Caseband made of titanium, bezel-caseback-lugs fashioned in 18kt rose gold or white gold. Fitted with matching deployant clasp. Domed AR-coated sapphire crystals and water resistance to 30 meters.


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That's friggin' gorgeous! I would get "lost", staring inside that movement, every time I wore it. Just think of the many accidents I could cause while wearing this watch and driving! :BE

I guess I better not get one! :lol
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