Archive for February, 2008

Couture Watches vs. Fashion Watches

February 26, 2008

Carol Besler wrote an interesting article about how we should title watches made by haute couture houses like Chanel and Hermes. In the article “Don’t call us fashion watches”, published on the website of the AIHH, Besler proposed to make a difference between watches made by fashion brands. For prices below USD 1000 we should continue calling them Fashion Watches, where as when mechanical movements are used and the prices evidently will be higher, Besler proposed to name them Couture Watches. I strongly agree with Besler and think it is an excellent idea, because Chanel ofcourse wants to differciate it’s high-end Tourbilion watch from the high-volume Guess watches.

Don’t call us “fashion watches”

A fashion watch is not so-called because of its affiliation with a fashion house, and yet a fashion watch can have such an affiliation. Furthermore, a watch can be fashionable, even if it is not designated as fashion watch, as long as it hits a certain price point.

In the 1980s, the Swiss watch industry, having been crucified by the invention of quartz movements a decade earlier, was miraculously resurrected when Swatch created the “fashion watch.” It was a cheap, plastic, fashionable and accurate alternative to the mechanical watch and, low and behold, it spawned a brand new segment in the watch industry.

Fashion watches, a term utterly ambiguous

Other “fashion” watches followed. There was Guess, Fossil, Nina Ricci, DKNY, Burberry, et cetera, et cetera. Because some of these watches were produced under license from luxury fashion houses, it so happened that, ever after, any watch bearing the name of a luxury fashion brand was dubbed a “fashion” watch. This understandably rankles companies such as Chanel, which objects to the notion of anyone placing, for example, its baguette-diamond-set J12 Tourbillon in the same category as a USD 250 quartz Nina Ricci (nothing against Nina Ricci ; it’s a great watch !). Even within the industry, the moniker “fashion watch,” still sticks to anything with a couture-sounding name. The term has therefore become utterly ambiguous, referring to anything from a USD 150 DKNY to a USD 2,000 Gucci to a USD 130,000 Chanel, depending on the person using the term and what they conceive it to mean. Because of this confusion, brands are shying away from the title in droves.

“We are not interested in participating in an article about fashion watches,” came a terse reply from Chanel when approached for this story. “We are watchmakers.” Similarly, Hermes, whose watches are made in Switzerland by one of the world’s most respected watchmakers, Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier, commented : “From ready-to-wear to leather to watches, it is our policy to join forces with experts in that field. We are not producing fashion watches.”

So noted. A fashion watch, then, is not so-called because of its affiliation – license or otherwise – with a fashion house, and yet a fashion watch can have such an affiliation. Furthermore, a watch can be fashionable, even if it is not designated as fashion watch, as long as it hits a certain price point. But what should that price point be ?

Time to address this crisis of designation

It is perhaps time someone addressed this crisis of designation, a crisis which, it should be noted, also besets the jewellery industry : the term “fashion” formerly referred to costume jewellery, which is made of base metals and rhinestones rather than noble metals and diamonds, but today, the term refers to all jewellery that is non-bridal, and stems from the notion that it is fashion-driven.

For watches, I humbly propose the following new segment designations. For all high-end watches – that is, with mechanical movements, complications and/or high jewellery pieces, AND which bear the name of a luxury goods brand, I propose the name “couture watches” (this would include Chanel, Hermes, Dior and Gucci). Brands with all of these qualities except a fashion house brand name designation should be called “luxury watches” (this would include Cartier, Piaget, Boucheron). And finally, brands that are primarily quartz, under USD 1,000, let’s say, and may or may not bear the name of a fashion house should retain the name “fashion watch” (DKNY and Nina Ricci, but also Fossil and Timberland).

There may linger some ambiguity in (or hostility toward) these categories. Some will argue that “fashion” should include anything under USD 2,000, but if we do, those in the USD 1,000 and up range might object. Others will object to the title of “couture,” which might not be perceived as sufficiently accessible to designate a mass luxury brand… I predict all sorts of objections. But it’s a start.

New Author WatchFreaks Blog

February 20, 2008

I am proud to announce that the editors of WatchWorld Magazine and Horloges Magazine officially became authors for this blog. All of the editors of these brilliant magazines are WatchFreaks and that corresponds with the slogan of this blog: Blog for WatchFreaks by WatchFreaks. If you want to become a contributor to this blog, please send an e-mail to: info [at]

Cover Horloges Magazine

Ebel: Time For Football

February 15, 2008

Press release: Allianz-Arena, Munich, February 2008
Ebel scores another winning goal in the world of prestige football

2008 sees the world-renowned Munich-based FC Bayern Munich opting for a strategic alliance with the Ebel watch brand. In June 2007, the latter had already announced its partnership with FC Arsenal, another of Europe’s leading football clubs, and is now clearly stepping up the pace of its commitment to the world of football.

Ebel CEO Thomas van der Kallen, Managing Director for Ebel Germany Loek Oprinsen and, FC Bayern’s Executive Board Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge held a press conference in Munich on February 10th 2008 to officially announce their partnership starting July 1st 2008 and running for the next five years. As Official Timing Partner for FC Bayern Munich, Ebel will take responsibility for all timekeeping aspects during home games. Ebel will provide the timing interface for fans within the Allianz-Arena and the presence of the watch brand will also bring a new timekeeping sophistication at the Club, particularly within the VVIP and Business Club lounges.


Delighted with this new agreement, Thomas van der Kallen pointed out that “after her first alliance with Arsenal last year, FC Bayern Munich represents an important and decisive stage in our approach to the football world, since it is an undeniable leader in this sport. We are already discussing possible partnerships with other major European clubs and we intend in due course to develop a full-fledged Ebel family of prestigious football clubs”.

Elite partners only
Ebel’s strategic vision in football is to associate with only the most prestigious clubs, belonging to the recognized elite of European football, and representing much more than simple football teams. FC Bayern Munich and Arsenal uphold the principles of excellence and hard work, have a genuine history (stretching back over a century), and enjoy international renown consistently enhanced by famous and great players. Both clubs have always been and still are at the very top of their respective championships, commanding respect and admiration, as well as an authoritative status that extends far beyond the soccer field. What is more, they are all committed to cultivating the finest sporting values such as respect for a noble heritage and dedication to perfecting their craft. Exactly the kind of deep-rooted values that guide Ebel in its approach to the art of watchmaking and in its choice of future football club partners. During the conference, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said he was “very proud to have concluded the rapprochement of the prestigious FC Bayern Munich football club with a luxury watch brand such as Ebel, since both shared so many common denominators that the osmosis was bound to be perfect. This long-running partnership will further strengthen the equity of both our names and our identities.”

A limited edition of timepieces dedicated to football
To symbolize this alliance between watchmaking precision and sporting ethics, Ebel has decided to launch a very special and unique timepiece dedicated to football. Far from confining themselves to cosmetic issues, Ebel watchmakers spent many long hours developing an exclusive movement specifically designed for football: Calibre 245. Developed, assembled and tested in the brand’s La Chaux-de-Fonds workshops, it is ideally suited to football because it not only measures each half time of a match (hence its name “245” standing for 2 x 45 minutes), as well as indicating extra time. Reading off elapsed time is ultra-legible thanks to the oversized 45-minute counter. The new football caliber will be housed in a new model enriching the 1911 line, issued in limited editions bearing the insignia of each club and available as of October 2008.  Ebel has already worked with the Arsenal and FC Bayern Munich management on developing highly emblematic versions for each club. “This movement is a world première as it is the first proprietary movement ever to keep step with football match time”, said Thomas van der Kallen unveiling the face of the FC Bayern Munich limited timepiece by Ebel. Meanwhile, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge stated “I am very happy to have played an active part in the birth of this avant-grade watch that represents the quintessence of the values and the spirit of our club”.


FC Bayern Munich – a blend of power and prestige
Currently heading the German Bundesliga and a brand name synonymous with excellence, success and high performance well beyond national and European borders, FC Bayern Munich is the proud winner of two 2 Intercontinental Cups, 4 European Champions League titles, 1 UEFA Cup title, 1 Cup Winners’ Cup title, 19 national championships, and 13 German Cups – making it beyond a doubt Germany’s foremost football club.
The Architects of Time are naturally extremely proud to be associated with this club and its emblematic new Allianz-Arena. Contemporary football gives pride of place to architecture, and FC Bayern Munich is a perfect illustration of this tendency. Completed in April 2005, the Allianz-Arena features an incredibly innovative design created by famous Swiss architects Herzog&deMeuron. In the latter’s own words, this achievement offers a “futuristic interpretation of the basic football concept” and its breathtaking exterior will be lit up during home games by a cascade of red projected onto the smooth translucent shell, thus “infusing the structure with an almost magical poetry”.
There was certainly no better place in which to announce this new alliance between Ebel and FC Bayern Munich the Architects of Time and the Architects of Victory.

Ace & Dik Fence

February 12, 2008

Ace & Dik Fence

Originally uploaded by alonbj

Ace & Dik Jewelers team up with IWC to transform it’s dull and boring fence/shutter in to a giantic billboard. On the fence of the store on the Van Baerlestraat in Amsterdam, Ace Jewelers Group, together with IWC mounted an amazing poster of the IWC Portuguese 7 days power reserve in pink gold. In Dutch the slogan says: “This watch will run as long as you do. Plus seven days.”

IWC Pilot’s watch for father and son

February 1, 2008

IWC Father & Son

Big Pilot’s Watch and Pilot’s Watch Mark XVI

IWC is launching this unique set as a small and large taster ahead of the sensational novelties coming from IWC to mark its 140th anniversary.

Two IWC pilot’s watches for the best partners in the world: father and son. In a form of lifetime male bonding, they share the major and minor exploits of their common adventures. Like a pilot and co-pilot, they work well together as an experienced team, and these two watches, which give outward expression to this sense of belonging together, unite them as a token of their friendship.

They have the same taste in traditional men’s toys. And when the pair go side-by-side through thick and thin, you can rest assured that they are a strong team – father and son, indeed. It is a kind of secret society like no other.

With its pilot’s watches for father and son, IWC is making a veritable partnership-based offer for father-and-son relationships: the Big Pilot’s Watch in platinum for the father, and its somewhat smaller counterpart in stainless steel for the son. Almost every father has great plans for his son, and our identification with our father leaves an impression over an entire lifetime. Whoever consciously fosters this valuable and intimate bond sends a clear signal with this pair of watches. Pilot’s watches for father and son are like a guide to masculinity and represent a perfect family unit. This is also true in technical terms, for both timepieces belong to one of the most distinctive watch families from IWC Schaffhausen – and they are tried and tested pilot’s watches through and through.

In this particular case, however, they are rather more than that – for they exhibit many resemblances. Like father and son. Both have the same rhodium-plated, light-coloured dial of the pilot’s watches, the same user-friendly onion-shaped crown of the early pilot’s watches from IWC, and the same black crocodile leather strap and characteristic steel rivets. Wear it and stand out from the crowd. Individually and even more so together. The only difference between the two watches is their size – like father and son. This ideal combination, which was designed specifically for this purpose – and for this purpose alone – is available not only as pilot’s watches for father and son, but also as pilot’s watches for father and sons in the context of a large family to ensure that fairness prevails and domestic harmony is maintained.

For those with a technical interest, ensconced behind the model for the father in its 46.23 15.8 mm platinum case is the Ref. 5004, the Big Pilot’s Watch with the 51111 calibre, the renowned long-running mechanical movement with an automatic Pellaton winding system, date and seven-day power reserve that is indicated on the dial. The antireflective sapphire glass is specially secured against displacement by a sudden drop in air pressure. And the watch is water-resistant to 6 bar.

The smaller edition for the son largely corresponds in technical terms to the Pilot’s Watch Mark XVI with its 39311.5 mm stainless steel case and the 30110calibre automatic movement. It also has a screw-in onion-shaped crown, an antireflective sapphire glass secured against displacement by a sudden drop in air pressure, Pilot’s watches for father and son Big Pilot’s Watch and Pilot’s Watch Mark XVI a central seconds hand and a date display. This watch also sits comfortably on the wrist on a black, crocodile leather strap and is protected against loss by a strong folding clasp. It, too, is water-resistant to 6 bar.

A small but noteworthy detail eliminates undesirable mix-ups, particularly in the case of a crew with several sons: the inner circle on the back of the watch is reserved for an engraved name, which leaves not doubt as to who is ready for take-off.

IWC Father & Son Plane

Big Pilot’s Watch
Ref. IW5004

    Mechanical movement, seven-day power reserve, automatic Pellaton winding system, date display, power reserve display, central seconds hand with stop function, Glucydur balance with high-precision adjustment cam on the balance bars, Breguet balance spring
Caliber   51111
Vibrations   21,600/ h / 3 Hz
Jewels   42
reserve   7 days (168 h)
Winding   automatic
Material   platinum
Glass   sapphire, convex, anti-reflective, secured against a drop in pressure
Crown   screw-in
Water-resistant   6 bar
Diameter   46.2mm
Height   15.8mm
Watch in platinum with black crocodile leather strap and platinum folding clasp   226 g

Pilot’s Watch Mark XVI
Ref. IW3255

    Mechanical movement, automatic winding, date display, central seconds hand with stop function
Caliber   30110
Vibrations   28,800/ h / 4 Hz
Jewels   21
Power reserve   42 h
Winding   automatic
Material   stainless steel
Glass   sapphire, convex, anti-reflective, secured against a drop in pressure
Crown   screw-in
Water-resistant   6 bar
Diameter   39 mm
Height   11.5mm
Watch in stainless steel with black crocodile leather strap and stainless steel folding clasp

IWC Father & Son Navigating