Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gerald Genta Arena Metasonic - Limited Edition of Ten at $900,000 Each!

Limited Edition of 10 Pieces (MSRP (US$900,000 ea)

An alliance of tradition and engineering for the ultimate Grande Sonnerie, the most complicated of its kind in the world for over 15 years

The latest evolution of the Arena Grande Sonnerie, the Arena Metasonic raises the exclusive work of Gérald Genta to the realm of perfection. Launched as a wristwatch in 1994 and regularly improved ever since, the noble proprietary complication that was already considered beyond compare further enhances its pedigree by appearing in a revolutionary new case. An original material and unprecedented construction combine to ensure an enchanting chime, embodying progress stemming from in-depth acoustic and vibratory research that simultaneously overturns certain preconceived ideas.

Striking watches
Striking watches are classified into quarter, five-minute and most frequently minute repeater models, and Grande Sonnerie or “grand strike” variations can be triggered up to 35,040 times a year. They strike the hours and quarters automatically or “in passing”, as well as being systematically equipped with the minute repeater which strikes the hours, quarters and minutes on request. The watch then successively chimes the hours on a low-pitched gong, the quarters on two, three or four gongs, and the minutes on a high-pitched gong. Grande Sonnerie watches are a long-established speciality at Gérald Genta. It has introduced a number of exceptionally complex wristwatch models since 1994. With their four hammers and their Westminster chime playing a different tune for each quarter, they represent 15 years of peerless accomplishments and are all the more remarkable in that they are developed on tourbillon movements. The Grande Sonnerie models comprise approximately 850 parts for the hand-wound models, 950 for the self-winding versions, and 1,100 for those equipped with a perpetual calendar. It takes around a year’s work to craft just one such watch, and only 61 in all have emerged from the Gérald Genta workshops since 1994. Connoisseurs, and especially master-watchmakers, unanimously confirm that it is not the accumulation of functions that makes a watch complicated, but instead the intrinsic complexity of the movement to be assembled and cased up.

Traditional movements
While Gérald Genta is a brand famed for its daring approach to watch exteriors, it is nonetheless extremely respectful of traditional horology, as is confirmed by the superlative workmanship displayed in its authentic Haute Horlogerie movements featuring a wealth of hand-crafted decoration and finishing. Among them are striking watches, which can be viewed as the last bastion of pure watchmaking artistry. Whereas virtually any other movements can now be industrially made and thus identically reproduced according to predefined criteria, a striking mechanism necessarily calls for manual intervention. The watchmaker adjusts the length of the gongs or their point of attachment in order to achieve the desired notes. This delicate exercise is generally performed by ear, with the inherent risk of never achieving the same result twice, even when the same person is involved. Gérald Genta therefore decided to solve this particular problem and its striking watches have now been effectively standardised to measurable norms for the past four years.

Standardised striking watches
Based on research conducted in cooperation with an acoustic laboratory, Gérald Genta has an exclusive software programme enabling it to measure the sounds produced in particular by its Grande Sonnerie watches. Three main criteria have been established. First of all, the intensity or the force of the notes: to earn approval, they must demonstrate a level of intensity sufficient to ensure they are clearly audible, but not excessively high in order to preserve their harmonic quality. The harmony or the correct pitch of the notes is then checked to ensure a sol (G) is consistently sounded for the hours, do, re, mi and sol (C,D,E and G) for the various combinations of quarters – more specifically mi-re-do-sol (E-D-C-G), re-sol-mi-do (D-G-E-C) + mi-re-do-sol (E-D-C-G), mi-do-re-sol (E-C-D-G) + re-sol-mi-do (D-G-E-C) + mi-re-do-sol (E-D-C-G) – and re (D) for the minutes. All are the notes are within the fifth and sixth octaves, ensuring they are low enough to be truly melodious. Finally, the cadence or regularity in milliseconds is verified according to defined intervals between each hour (628 ms), each quarter (427 ms) and each minute (509 ms). The goal is to ensure an harmonious sequence with clearly perceptible sounds. Thanks to these measurements, each completely independent of the others, Gérald Genta Grande Sonnerie models are now all of reliable equal quality. Fine-tuning by the watchmakers is still indispensable, but now converges towards common criteria guaranteeing a unique tune. It takes an average of 12 successive controls to achieve the desired result.

Superior quality
Each Grande Sonnerie watch reacts in its own way, according to the volume occupied by the movement within the case and the corresponding empty spaces; the materials selected and their treatment; the strength of the hammer; as well as a whole host of details such as the quality of the screws, joints and weldings. All these aspects have been meticulously reviewed by Gérald Genta in order to achieve the current degree of perfection based on these trade secrets which it is determined to safeguard. Nonetheless, one feature that can be revealed is that the gongs are now fixed to the side of the case and no longer to the movement, thereby considerably increasing the sound level. The improvements have been made both to the self-winding Grande Sonnerie model belonging to the Octo collection since 2003, and to the hand-wound Grande Sonnerie, an Arena watch introduced in 1999 and bearing the prestigious Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark. The latter is distinguished by its movement beautifully highlighting the striking mechanism through a broad dial opening on the left of the off-set hour and minute display. The back enables one to admire the tourbillon and follow the evolution of the two separate power reserves – 48 hours for the movement, 24 hours for the striking mechanism. A security system locks the crown each time the watch is in the process of chiming, so as to avoid accidentally damaging the striking mechanism.

The key assets of the Arena Metasonic
Having reached the peak of its art in mastering its Grande Sonnerie mechanism, Gérald Genta wished to provide it with a tailor-made case specifically developed to exalt its musicality. To achieve this, it cooperated with a French university in developing a software programme capable of analysing all kinds of materials. Gérald Genta has thereby created a testing system that evaluates a given material’s density, elasticity modulus and loss coefficient, a set of crucial physical parameters that determine the quality of the sound transmission and must be as low as possible.

Material Density(g/cm3) Elastic modulus (GPa) Loss coefficient 100 Index Acoustic Pressure (Force) 100 Index Acoustic Pressure (Melody)
Magsonic® 2.7 71 0.000080 100.0 100.0
Titanium 4.2 110 0.000027 77.6 44.7
Bronze CuSn8 8.2 100 0.000125 63.8 24.8
White gold alloy 15.7 107 0.000100 48.4 35.1
316L steel 8 200 0.000350 37.6 33.1

The first parameter that must be taken into account is density, which must be lower than 5 g/cm3. Among the metals most commonly used in watchmaking, only titanium meets this standard. It is only half as dense as steel, which itself is only half as dense as white gold. In terms of elastic modulus, which is considered to be of superior quality when nearing values below 100 GPa (gigapascals), white gold and titanium come very close to this threshold, whereas the values reached by steel are twice as high. As for the sound transmission loss coefficient, it is precisely measured in laboratory conditions – using calibrated bars that are made to vibrate by laser technology in a vacuum, thus ensuring the absence of any contact as well as free decay of the vibrations - and falls well below the maximum desirable level of 0.0002 as far as white gold and titanium are concerned, but not for steel. Results clearly prove that titanium and gold perform far better than steel, which is not particularly dense but is definitely more sound-absorbing than any other material (high loss coefficient).

Based on the objectives defined for each parameter, Gérald Genta decided to target excellence by creating an alloy of which the composition will remain a closely guarded secret. Duly patented under the name Magsonic®, it displays winning performances with a density of 2.7 g/cm3, an elastic modulus of 71 Gpa and a sound transmission loss coefficient of 0.00008 – meaning respectively 50%, 30% and 60% better than the parameters that were set as objectives. This material is therefore used for the case middle of the brand’s latest Grande Sonnerie model, the Arena Metasonic. The case middle is a crucial element in striking watches, since the sound tends to be diffused in a sideways direction. It is important to choose an appropriate material and to make it as thin as possible. Future owners will be delighted to note that the quality of the sound is even better when the watch is worn, a position in which its back rests against the wrist.

Moreover, Gérald Genta was able to measure the sound intensity (acoustic pressure index, force and melody) produced by various materials by using specific experimental containers. Results show that Magsonic once again surpassed the others, both in force (global sound intensity) and melody (effective intensity of the desired notes: do, re, mi and sol – C, D, E and G).

In addition to the major role played by the Magsonic alloy, this new model also features an original case based on a patented construction inspired by the side drums in a drum kit. The case middle is framed on either side by a bezel and back in grade 5 titanium secured from outside by means of specially designed pillars. This means the sound diffusion is undisturbed by any screws, and results in a highly original creation entirely in tune with the spectacular design characteristic of Gérald Genta models. The entire construction has also been rendered water resistant, because contrary to popular belief, non- watertight watches do not emit a better sound. The latter can even be perturbed by being forced through the bottlenecks created by the passage of air around the winding pushers. Some historical pocket-watches solved the problem by featuring openings spread all around them – a solution naturally unsuitable for wristwatches. The innovations presented here by Gérald Genta are a contemporary response to a desire to raise the bar as never before. They are the first fruits of a particularly ambitious research and development programme, and all-new striking mechanism designs are likely to be introduced in the near future.

A deliberately contemporary style
Measuring 46mm in diameter at the case middle and 50mm overall, the Arena Metasonic features a combination of vertical-polished and horizontal satin-brushed surfaces. It is fitted with an ostrich leather strap. The crown bears the individual watch number, while the striking mechanism controls serving to switch between Grande Sonnerie (grand strike), Petite Sonnerie (small strike), Minute Repeater and Silence modes are within easy reach on the opposite side. Gérald Genta has adorned the movement with an innovative wave-patterned motif as a nod to the propagation of sound. The jewels are in white sapphire to ensure an ideal visual match with the overall mechanism which exceptionally does not feature the “old gold” surface treatment characteristic of the brand’s signature “Potter finish”. This exceptional watch is also presented in a glass security box which renders it invisible until the owner pushes the biometrically programmed button that will respond to no other touch… The interior then lights up and the watch base is raised to bring it within reach. True magic for a watch blending the best of noble traditions and cutting-edge technologies.

Gerald Genta Website

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Horological Machine No.2.2 "The Black Box" A Collaboration Developed with Alain Silberstein

Simply black: Alain Silberstein’s surprise take on Horological Machine No 2

What happens when that master of glorious color, French high-end watch designer Alain Silberstein, is let loose with MB&F’s Horological Machine No2? The surprising answer is a new, all-black case that epitomizes Bauhaus purity and restraint. The new model, called Horological Machine No2.2, is known affectionately in-house as “the black box”. It will be issued in a limited edition of eight watches.

MB&F is a company founded 4 years ago by the former head of Harry Winston Timepieces, Maximilian Büsser, and is dedicated to designing and crafting small series of radical concept watches in collaboration with talented professionals. The new case by Alain Silberstein houses the same groundbreaking “engine” as Horological Machine No2, introduced in 2008 and featuring the world’s first mechanical movement combining an instantaneous jumping hour, concentric retrograde minutes, retrograde date, bi-hemisphere moon phase and automatic winding.

What a difference a “.2” makes!

Whilst the twin porthole dials are still the focal point – with the jumping hours in an aperture for the first time – the watch’s personality has changed completely. Gone is the science-fiction look of the original. Silberstein says that he wanted Horological Machine No2.2 to combine the pure geometry of the Bauhaus with the user-friendliness of the miniature box cameras of the 1940s.

The rectangular case is carved out of a solid block of titanium, resting on the original substructure. This multi-layered construction gives the watch its powerful, richly engineered profile. The simplicity of the case itself is deceptive: Alain Silberstein works with the light, like a diamond-cutter, to achieve a play of mat and polished surfaces when the watch is worn.

The titanium case is treated with an exclusive PVD coating incorporating silicium, resulting in a soft touch and particularly intense black color. The vibrant red numerals, markers and hands are coated in Superluminova for easy night reading. All the characters on the twin displays were designed by Alain Silberstein. Even the moon’s expressive face was inspired by a treasured cartoon from the Art Nouveau period.

Inspirations great and small

The brief to Alain Silberstein was typical of MB&F’s creative approach. Explaining the project, Maximilian Büsser says, “I simply gave Alain the watch and said: “Enjoy yourself! And he caught me completely off balance. He produced a black box, where I was expecting something very colorful!” This makes Alain Silberstein chuckle. “The truth is, when I saw the original case of Horological Machine No2 the miniature box cameras of the 1940s flashed into my mind. The portholes reminded me of the lens. I decided to construct a new personality for the watch, combining the user-friendliness of those cameras and the discipline of the Bauhaus movement.”

The pleasure of working together

Inscribed in the side of the case are the words: “Le vrai bonheur est d’avoir sa passion pour métier” (“True happiness is having one’s passion for a profession”). That is Alain Silberstein’s motto, and he found his soul mates in MB&F. He says that the whole point was the pleasure of working together, and Maximilian Büsser agrees. “Alain is a true artist, but he never takes himself too seriously. He has kept that childlike spirit of adventure, and that is something that we at MB&F hold dear”.

Alain Silberstein (pictured right) is French and his workshop is in Besancon. He trained as an interior architect and designer, but quickly turned his talents to high-end watch design. His masterly handling of geometry and colour translates into collections that sparkle with inventiveness and wit. Maximilian Büsser first spotted his work 20 years ago, when overtaking a BMW Z1, whose doors were down revealing the driver’s giant black chronograph. The look and size of that chronograph – years ahead of its time – decided MB&F’s future founder to keep a close eye on its creator, and he has done so ever since. According to Maximilian Büsser: “Every year, Alain Silberstein’s collections surprise me. He is a true artist, but he never takes himself too seriously. He has kept that childlike spirit, and that is something that we at MB&F hold dear”. A. Silberstein Website

A little over four years ago,
Maximilian Büsser (pictured left) left what was considered a dream job, as head of Harry Winston Timepieces, in order to set up MB&F, a company dedicated solely to designing and crafting small series of radical concept watches in collaboration with talented professionals. Or, as he says: “To letting my guts speak instead of my head” – a spirit shared by all the independent craftsmen, engineers and watchmakers who collaborate on his projects. Maximilian is half Swiss and half Indian and believes that this explains his constant drive to combine flawless traditional quality with creative imagination run wild. Horological Machines Nos. 1, 2 and 3 are the fine results to date. MB&F Website

Related MB&F, Max Busser, and Horological Machine Posts-->LINK

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Art experts think they may have found the world's oldest painting to feature an image of a watch.

The portrait was painted in around 1560

Art experts think they may have found the world's oldest painting to feature an image of a watch.

The Science Museum is investigating the 450-year-old portrait, thought to be of Cosimo I de Medici, Duke of Florence, holding a golden timepiece.

Curators have sent their findings to renaissance experts at the Uffizi gallery in Florence, and are awaiting their comments.

The painting is being shown as part of the museum's Measuring Time gallery.

The first watches appeared shortly after 1500 in Germany and horologists believe the picture, painted by renaissance master Maso da San Friano around 1560, "may well be the oldest to show a true watch".

Coat of arms

Science Museum curator Rob Skitmore said the watch was thought to be from southern Germany.

"As Cosimo was a great patron of science and technology, it is entirely likely he would have owned a watch of this kind which he displays here with pride," he said.

"The picture shows the close linkage between science and art, especially in those days."

The painting has been in the museum's collection for 33 years after being acquired from a private donor.

As it was being taken out of storage for the gallery, curators decided to research the painting - which was when they made their discovery.

The clue to the painting's identity came when Mr Skitmore realised a seal containing the Medici coat of arms was on the back of the canvas.

He said: "In our painting Cosimo would have been about 41 and his appearance is entirely consistent with a later view of him from 1574."

The Measuring Time gallery traces the history of timekeeping and contains one of the biggest collections of clocks in Britain.

via BBC

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

New from MB&F - A Teaser for the New Horological Machine Coming in a Few Weeks

Any Guesses? My first instinct was that it could be a Joan Mirólogical Machine or even better, an Alexander Calder inspired timepiece...I mean how cool would Calder's mobiles be in the miniature world of a watch? Ha... I actually know but I'm not telling until it is released on October 29th, stay tuned and see future teases here or at the Maximilian Büsser & Friends website.

Below is the first visual teaser/hint MB&F is providing...

MB&F website->LINK

Related MB&F, Max Busser, and Horological Machine Posts-->LINK

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nooka ZAZ Watch Translucent See-Thru Display - Your Skin Provides the Contrast To Read the Time!

Bars and blocks of liquid crystal line up over your skin with the Zaz, Nooka's latest alternative display binary wristwatch. And if in darkness, there is also the option to light up the see-through display in beautiful bright colors. Your only difficulty will be wondering if that arm hair makes it 8:45 or 8:50.

Actually, this reminds me of a stock answer I gave as a kid if someone asked me the time when not wearing a watch. I would look at my wrist and say "two freckles past an armhair". Who knew that could be true one day? Thanks Nooka!

Nooka Zaz Product Page

"The ultimate form of personalization. The Nooka Zaz is the newest release in the brand’s line of luxury wristwatches, set to launch for Fall 2009. Featuring a completely translucent display, allowing the wearer’s own skin tone to show through. Time is marked with a display similar to the Zenv style, with blocks appearing on the transparent screen seemingly as a part of the wearer’s wrist. It is available with a silver face and three band options- black or white leather, and silver mesh.

Size: 35 x 45 x 8 mm / 22mm wide band

Water resistant to 3ATM
$380 here

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Vintage LIP Watches - Rare Private Collection Available After Decades in Storage!

A very rare private collection of vintage LIP watches are now available. Ranging from gunmetal and sterling silver pocket watches of the early 1900s to the iconic French designer series of the early seventies. Original Mach 2000 chronographs from Roger Tallon, very rare Prince Francois de Baschmakoff Jump Hours and some nearly singular examples from a rich history in time!

Above, a Sixties sterling silver LIP wristwatch with actual wood inlaid bracelet and wood dial. Never seen another like it, ever!

Rudi Meyer's very unusual 70s "Galaxie"

Unusual Mystery Dial "Ecrusson"
1970s Roger Tallon Design

Uncommon Automatic Mach 2000

Early 70s Mach 2000 Moon by Roger Tallon

Rare prototype LIP Moonphase Mach 2000
(never went into production)

1975 LIP Mach 2000 LED
(light emitting diode)

1974 Tallon LIP Electrique

Modern Design Sixites Ladies LIP

1960s Sunken Hours Manual Mechanical LIP

1970's "Les Candides" by Michel Boyer
(beat Swatch by 10 years!)

Seventies Lip "Instrument" by Rudi Meyer

"Hermes" Style 60s Lip Mechanical

The Classic Lip Mach 2000 "Aeronef" by Roger Tallon 1974

The All Steel Lip Baschmakoff Jump Hour - 1970

Early 20th Century Gunmetal Lip Pocketwatch

Related Posts at The Watchismo Times;
All Vintage Watch Stories
All LIP Watch Stories

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