To tell the truth, only a few parts of people know that the famous Parisian firm of Cartier created the men’s wristwatch in 1904. But a nice new exhibition in London curated by world popular architect Lord Norman Foster at the Design Museum London is going to give the company’s most amazing watchmaking heritage its due.
Opening May 25th, Cartier in Motion explores and celebrates Cartier’s development and innovation through a century of creating captivating timepieces with over 170 exhibits. The museum promises “rare insights into the research and work of the designers at Cartier through extracts from material found in the Cartier Archives”.
The first men’s wristwatch was custom-built by the firm’s founder Louis Cartier for his friend, aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont, who did not want to have to fumble with his pocket watch when piloting the different kind of fanciful aircraft he constructed. Cartier’s Santos model pays tribute to this remarkable figure. The replica Cartier again stunned the watchmaking world with the introduction of the tank watch thirteen years later, motivated by Britain’s Mark IV tanks, with a flat, angular case.
The story goes hat M. Cartier presented one of the very first examples to American General John Joseph Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force on the Western Front in World War I. At the time the wristwatch was still in its infancy. An exhibit as marvelous as this reminds many of the Rolex and Ferrari exhibition, but for now, let’s keep our eyes on the replica watches.
Of course, the tank went on to become one of the most celebrated which is still rather popular a hundred years on. As I have told AskMen, “There are few dress best watches more old-school and traditional than a fake Cartier Tank. It fairly reeks of class. It says that you’re an adult who’s used to being civilized and well turned out most of the time, not constantly jetting off to dive in shark-infested waters. It speaks of money but in hushed tones. Nowadays it’s not the most masculine watch in the world, but Cary Grant wore one. That’s all you really need to recognize.”
To celebrate 50 years of James Bond movie-making, the renowned Swiss replica watchmaker created an unique redesigned version of the iconic Seamaster Divesr 300M James Bond timepiece which was worn by the world’s most well-known spy in Golden Eye and other adventures that followed. Produced in two sizes, James Bond 50th Anniversary Seamaster 300M replica watches come with several super interesting features that nicely indicate the special occasion.
Although they are launched as Limited Editions, one can argue about their exclusivities, since there are even 11007 produced pieces of 41 mm model, while a smaller version with a 36.25mm case comes in the edition of 3007 pieces. Both versions have stainless steel cases which incorporate ceramic unidirectional rotating bezels, with elapsed diving-time scales in matt chromium nitride. The number “50″ comes in red to stress the anniversary year. Both timepieces are available with brushed and polished OMEGA patented screw-and-pin stainless steel bracelets.
A 007 monogram pattern on a lacquered black dials is the most controversial part of the new watch that already generates different opinions among the fake Omega’s avid fans. This model resembles to the one of a 2002 Limited Edition watch, but it is much more striking now. If it had to be a pattern, I would rather like to see something like a Seamaster Aqua Terra. However, new Seamaster Diver 300M James Bond watch has some pretty nice features that can captivate you at the first sight.
To begin with, there is a great screw-in case back with a gun-barrel effect that is shown in the opening sequence of James Bond movies. Another original element is a “bullet” decorated rotor that is visible through the central sapphire crystal glass with anti-reflective coating inside.
Now, let us go back to the dial. While the 41mm version has the face with 11 hand-applied hour indices, the second version is distinctive by a diamond marker at the 7 o’clock position. The readability of the dial is exceptional, even in the extreme conditions, thanks to the white Super LumiNova coating on hour markers and the green SuperLumiNova on the minute hand and the 12 o’clock bezel marker.
The replica Omega Seamaster Diver 300M James Bond 50th Anniversary watch has the superb water-resistance up to 300 meter (660 feet). One of the features that provide this is a helium escape valve that allows gas to escape during decompression. Inside the case, there is an in-house Co-Axial Calibre 2507 self-winding movement, with the revolutionary escapement that provides greater stability, durability and exceptional chronometric performances that are guaranteed with the official certificate.
I specifically chose to spend a few time with the chronograph as this version got much less coverage than its three-handed counterpart. Besides, I will be honest, in the first hours of wearing it, and I did not like its proportions very much at all. It was sitting high and large on the wrist, very far from the vintage dimensions with which I spend more time. Yet, it is something you get used to soon; in a matter of days I had forgotten about it, especially since the blue dial often took the light in various beautiful ways. Here, the horizontal pattern does look very Patek (in a good way) and it definitely reminded me of the bracelets on those earlier models of which I am very much interested (though that might be more personal than anything).
The round chronograph registers on the non-round dial are a big plus for me here – and, as an added bonus, they make me remember of the toy robots from my childhood. The one thing I remained disappointed in was the bracelet; it felt a bit slim for such a case, and the finishing was a little rough. Then again, the price positioning might justify a sort of trade down in the bracelet department. What’s more, it is not fully integrated, so a switch to a strap is always a nice choice.
There was one place where I could tell no concession was made: the chronograph movement. Its operating was clean and precise, and the layout was highly legible. Note that the caliber model from Piaget replica bears a striking resemblance with the 1904-CH MC from Cartier, much as the 1110P of the time-and-date seems close to the Cartier 1904 MC, possibly showing some synergy between the two Richemont-owned brands (an ultra-thin Piaget caliber can also be found in the new slim Cartier Drive, for what it’s worth). The last thing about the chronograph gets even more geeky is that the feeling might not be shared, but I loved the round sub-register shape in the square-ish case, as it reminded me of the smiley robots I used to play with as a child. Now that I’ve said that, can you un-see it in this watch? I didn’t think so.
After a week of wear, I exactly have a better understanding of the merits and shortcomings of the chronograph. Far from being a disappointing watch, it is a very interesting release from Piaget at a different price point that, all things being relative, offers a new audience access to the brand. This watch makes total strategic sense, entering the sport-chic segment where the Royal Oak and Nautilus are blossoming, though again at a lower price for a different customer.
But, while it’s a piece of strength in some ways, this is also the greatest weakness in the eyes of the purists. It feels like a “safe” watch, adding nothing new and taking no real risks. As such, it falls below what we would have expected from the fake Piaget of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, which did not shy away from offering radically different pieces from the competition, from the slim cheap replica watches with hard stone dials to the original watches.
Apparently, different times need different sizes, but it absolutely explains how a self-proclaimed “game changer” disappointed quite a few when released. However, I have to stress two things after my time with this watch: First, it really is a game-changer for the Piaget replica watches, if we look at it from a business strategy and long-term-growth perspective; and second, the criticism is coming from seasoned collectors who are not in any way the original target for the to start with. Time will tell if the (time-and-date and/or chronograph) will find its market and have the same effect on Piaget that the watch had throughout the 1980s. At the very least, it will be interesting to observe.
On May 15, 2017, Christie’s will sell a Patek Philippe Calatrava in Geneva which could be one of the most significant watches to sell in the modern collectible watch era, of course that might not just the reason you are thinking about. Surely, there’s no doubt that watch is a unique one, and actually would cost much in price. The Calatrava is one of the least common references made by Patek Philippe, and when they come up for sale it’s generally big news. But that isn’t why you’re reading this story. No, this Calatrava coming to Christie’s is such a fascinating lot because its result may finally open up a discussion long held in the back offices of Milanese pushers, of Swiss auction houses, and penthouse apartments of Asian mega-collectors. When will replica watches become OK to own? Or are real watches the only ones worth anything and shall those that have been refreshed keep efficiently outcast? Now we will give the answer to you, but first let’s talk about the basic topic of what the Calatrava is.
This sale was a significant one as that lot validated that the 530 was indeed made not only as a chronograph but as a time-only Calatrava.
Generally speaking, before we vilify Christie’s, it is well-known to you all. First, they announced that this watch was sold publicly with a silver dial and that a black dial was added within the past 10 years. Second, the watch was born with a black dial! That means this new black dial is actually more correct than the silver dial with which we became first acquainted. The archive extract for this watch reads “Type of dial: Black, raised hour markers in steel.”
So things become more interesting in this way, the watch for Christie’s, for the consignor, and for any potential buyer. It is completely obvious here that this fake watch wasn’t born with this dial. But that doesn’t make the dial incorrect for it.
Will A Strong Result Mean It’s OK To Modify A Watch If It’s Done Well?
So, let’s think about the watch here and what it might mean to the industry. Now it seems as if only original watches are worth buying and paying full price for. If a watch has been cleaned, or retouched, or modified in any way, it is a quick turn off to most purchasers. The huge values placed on condition and originality are rather recent phenomenon, and some of the most crucial vintage watches in the world feature dials that have been cleaned or corrected in some way, and that was, well, seemed so nice. But because we currently live in a world where it seems that a handful of dealers and auction houses are able to produce “untouched” replica watches with some regularity, and the world’s wealthy continually pay record-setting prices for them, what happens to the rest of the watches?