The story behind the watch - A food revolution


“Some old watches come with engraved dedications on their cases. It is occasionally possible to find out interesting stories and personalities behind these few words and digits …” 
Pittsburgh, late 1910s: an American food industrialist strapped a new Patek Philippe watch on his wrist. It had his name engraved on its back. A name that would become famous thanks to an invention that changed the way of cooking cakes.

Un orologio Una storia - Rivoluzione in cucina

“Sulle casse di alcuni orologi d’epoca sono incise delle dediche. A volte dietro quelle poche parole e cifre si scoprono personaggi e storie interessanti …” 
Pittsburgh, fine degli Anni 1910: un industriale americano dell'alimentazione si allaccia al polso un Patek Philippe che porta il suo nome inciso sul retro. Un nome destinato a diventare celebre in tutto il Paese, grazie all'invenzione che cambierà il modo di preparare i dolci casalinghi.


New releases - Claude Meylan Pink Tortue


The bridges and mainplates of the fully skeletonized Caliber 165 CM14 are adorned with rose gold and illuminate the flames of the first Swiss flag. The 316L steel case is 40mm wide at the belly. The strap is available in a choice of alligator style scales or technological satin.





“Some old watches come with engraved dedications on their cases. It is occasionally possible to find out interesting stories and personalities behind these few words and digits …”

The new mini-documentary series starts January 5. Stay tuned!



“Sulle casse di alcuni orologi d’epoca sono incise delle dediche. A volte dietro quelle poche parole e cifre si scoprono personaggi e storie interessanti …”   
La nuova serie di mini-documentari comincia il 5 gennaio. Rimanete connessi!



Novità - Nazareno Rossetti Fomalhaut

Il primo modello della neonata collezione Nazareno Rossetti fonde il design italiano con la tecnologia Swiss Made. La cassa d'acciaio da 44 mm è impermeabile a 10 atmosfere e ospita il Calibro P224, movimento automatico Peseux personalizzato per la Casa, con autonomia di 41 ore. Quattro viti fissano la lunetta alla carrure. Sul quadrante effetto opaco a doppio strato con indici e logo luminescenti sul livello inferiore ruotano lancette di disegno esclusivo. Il cinturino di pelle a concia vegetale artigianale è Made in Italy.



The magic of cloisonné enamel

The latest Christie's auction in Geneva featured a rare 18kt rose gold Patek Philippe timepiece with cloisonné enamel dial. In the 1940s and 50s, the Geneva watchmaker made a very small number of "time only" wristwatches where detailed and artistic cloisonné enamel dials were fitted.
Enamel is a soft glass comprising of silica, red lead and soda. Elements added to the mix bring about a change in color – chromium creates green, iron turns it grey, the presence of iodine turns it red. When fired in an oven at 800-1200°C, enamel liquefies and bonds to the metal base and cools to become a hard-wearing material that retains its shines and color over centuries. The cloisonné technique requires the artisan to create compartments or housings by hand-folding a 0.07 mm wide gold wire (no thicker than human hair) - pliers are used to tease out various shapes on the base plate. These compartments are filled in with enamel and fired in a kiln.
The present dial was crafted to special order in 1950, and was, most likely, originally delivered to France, to be housed in a French-manufactured case. After World War II, this was quite common practice in alignment with the post-war economic effort. Importing foreign jewellery was prohibited in France, so many Swiss makers had their cases made in France, often after their own Swiss model. Patek Philippe worked closely with French firms such as Guillermin, providing dials and movements under the agreement that Patek Philippe standards would be upheld.
Price realized: $ 252,000


Memories from Dachau

ENGLISH (il testo italiano è in fondo alla pagina)
Part of the interest of old watches frequently lies in the memories they bring with them. In this case, everything is about memory. The two timepieces featured in this post are on display at the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. Opened in 1933, only a few months after Adolf Hitler took power, Dachau was the first Nazi Germany’s concentration camp. At first it housed political prisoners and later on evolved into a death camp where tens of thousands of Jews, physically and mentally handicapped, homosexuals died from malnutrition, disease and overwork, or were executed.
I took these pictures in the “shunt room”, the place were new inmates were ordered to strip down and hand over their clothing and personal effects. Some of these objects were retrieved and are now on display.

The wristwatch belonged to Albert Frohn, a German driver and mechanic who was arrested for unknown reasons in 1944 and sent to Dachau. He survived the ordeal and was liberated as the American troops entered the camp on April 29, 1945.

The pocket watch belonged to Nikolai Owsjanikov, a Soviet railroad worker who was deported to Germany to perform slave labor. He spent a month in Dachau before being transferred to a nearby subcamp, where preparatory excavation works of a railway tunnel were underway. His fate is unknown.
I must confess that I know nothing about these two watches’ manufacturers and technical features. In fact, these were the last things on my mind while I stood in front of the glass showcase.

Una parte del fascino degli orologi d’epoca risiede spesso nel ricordi che essi portano con sé. In questo caso, la memoria è tutto. I due segnatempo illustrati in questo post sono esposti presso il Sito della Memoria nel Campo di Concentramento di Dachau. Inaugurato nel 1933, a pochi mesi dall’ascesa di Adolf Hitler al potere, Dachau fu il primo Campo di Concentramento della Germania nazista. In un primo tempo ospitava solo prigionieri politici; poi diventò un campo di sterminio nel quale decine di migliaia di ebrei, disabili fisici e mentali, omosessuali morirono di fame, malattie e sfinimento o furono giustiziati.
Ho scattato queste foto nel “locale di smistamento”, dove i nuovi arrivati erano costretti a spogliarsi e consegnare gli abiti insieme con gli effetti personali. Alcuni di questi oggetti sono stati recuperati e ora fanno parte della mostra.
L’orologio da polso apparteneva ad Albert Frohn, un autista e meccanico tedesco arrestato per ragioni sconosciute nel 1944 e inviato a Dachau. Riuscì a sopravvivere e ritrovò la libertà quando le truppe americane entrarono nel campo il 29 aprile del 1945. L’orologio da tasca era di Nikolai Owsjanikov, un operaio sovietico delle ferrovie deportato in Germania per lavorare. Trascorse un mese a Dachau prima di essere trasferito in un campo vicino, dove erano in corso gli scavi di un tunnel ferroviario. Il suo destino è sconosciuto.
Devo confessare che non so nulla dei fabbricanti e della caratteristiche tecniche dei due orologi. A dire la verità, era a tutt’altro che pensavo mentre mi trovavo davanti alla vetrina.


Jacob & Co. – Epic X

Introduced in the spring of 2022, the second generation of Epic X features a 44-mm steel case, X-shaped lugs and a vertically aligned skeleton movement with Clou de Paris-adorned bridges. A full rose gold version is also being released. They exhibit a new set of crown guards, a new lug design and introduce green, blue or black aluminum components.



La statua e l'orologio

Tra i passeggeri in attesa del tram presso una fermata del centro di Ginevra c’è questo signore elegante e silenzioso, che tollera con pazienza gli eventuali ritardi e l’oltraggio dei vandali che gli imbrattano il bavero della giacca. Ha nervi d’acciaio, anzi di bronzo come tutto il resto: il cappello, gli occhiali, la giacca, la cravatta, i pantaloni, le scarpe…

... e l'orologio. Pensavo si trattasse di qualcosa di generico, mentre mi avvicinavo per guardare meglio. Invece avevo sottovalutato lo scultore e la sua attenzione per il dettaglio. L'orologio è il riconoscibilissimo Royal Oak di Audemars Piguet. Inaudito: una creatura della Vallée de Joux celebrata a casa di Patek Philippe, Rolex e Vacheron Constantin!
Scherzi a parte, la statua - una delle tre esposte presso la fermata di Plainpalais, tutte create da Gérald Ducimitière e inaugurate nel 1982 - ritrae un personaggio reale quanto l'orologio che evidentemente amava indossare: André L'Huillier, importante collezionista ginevrino e mecenate d'artisti, scomparso nel 1998.



“Some old watches come with engraved dedications on their cases. It is occasionally possible to find out interesting stories and personalities behind these few words and digits …” 
The new mini-documentary series starts January 5. Stay tuned!



Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève – The prize list

The GPHG Academy - regrouping 650 key figures in the profession worldwide - and the 2022 Jury chaired by Nick Foulkes attributed 21 prizes including the “Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix “best-in-show” distinction, which was awarded to MB&F for the Legacy Machine Sequential Evo watch.
Akrivia, Bulgari, Grand Seiko, Ferdinand Berthoud, Grönefeld, H. Moser & Cie, Hermès, Krayon, M.A.D. Editions, Parmigiani Fleurier, Sylvain Pinaud, TAG Heuer, Trilobe, Tudor, Van Cleef & Arpels and Voutilainen brands were also honored with one of the awards.
The 90 nominated timepieces, including the winners, are on display at the Musée Rath in Geneva until 20 November 2022. The 2022 winners will also be presented in New York from December 1 to 4.

Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix: MB&F, Legacy Machine Sequential Evo
Ladies’ Watch Prize: Parmigiani Fleurier, Tonda PF Automatic
Ladies’ Complication Watch Prize: Hermès, Arceau Le temps voyageur
Men’s Watch Prize: Akrivia, Chronomètre Contemporain II
Men’s Complication Watch Prize: Hermès, Arceau Le temps voyageur
Iconic Watch Prize: TAG Heuer, Monaco X Gulf   
Tourbillon Watch Prize: H. Moser & Cie, Pioneer Cylindrical Tourbillon Skeleton
Calendar and Astronomy Watch Prize: Krayon, Anywhere
Mechanical Exception Watch Prize: Ferdinand Berthoud, FB 2RSM.2-1

Chronograph Watch Prize: Grönefeld, 1941 Grönograaf Tantalum
Diver’s Watch Prize: Tudor, Pelagos FXD
Jewellery Watch Prize: Bulgari, Serpenti Misteriosi High Jewellery
Artistic Crafts Watch Prize: Voutilainen, Ji-Ku
“Petite Aiguille” Prize: Trilobe, Nuit Fantastique Dune Edition
Challenge Watch Prize: M.A.D. Editions, M.A.D.1 Red
Mechanical Clock Prize: Van Cleef & Arpels, Fontaine Aux Oiseaux automaton
Innovation Prize: Van Cleef & Arpels, Lady Arpels Heures Florales Cerisier watch
Audacity Prize: Bulgari, Octo Finissimo Ultra 10th Anniversary
Chronometry Prize: Grand Seiko, Kodo Constant-force Tourbillon
“Horological Revelation” Prize: Sylvain Pinaud, Origine
Special Jury Prize: François Junod, automaton-maker and sculptor



New releases - Krayon Anywhere

The brand’s second creation indicates the length of the day and the time at which the sun rises and sets. Dedicated hands, placed in the centre of the dial, display the hours and minutes. A small sun circulates in perpetual motion upon an annular zone, indicating the time over 24 hours. The annular zone has two sectors: day (sky blue) and night (dark blue). The respective lengths constantly change, indicating by their position the sunrise and sunset times that can be read from the fixed indicator ring. A 39 mm pink or white gold case houses the 5 mm thick in-house movement. 
Nota per i lettori di lingua italiana: il Giornale degli Orologi ha pubblicato un articolo di Marco Strazzi su questo modello. Clicca qui per leggerlo.


Classic timepieces - Roamer Calendar (ca. 1950)

The latest mini-documentary from 10e10.ch's YouTube channel: a 100 percent in-house made watch of the early 1950s - complicated but reasonably priced. Enjoy!


Orologi vintage - Roamer Calendar (circa 1950)

Il nuovo mini-documentario dal Canale YouTube di 10e10.ch: un modello di manifattura dei primi Anni 50, complicato ma economico. Buona visione!



Timepieces at auction

The catalog of Christie’s 7 November Geneva auction includes a few timepieces that are remarkable for different reasons.

The Swiss mountain guide, chemist and oxygen specialist Jürg Marmet wore this Rolex Ref. 6298 on his successful ascent of the Mount Everest on 23 May 1956. He was only the third human ever to reach the world’s highest peak. Part of the route that the Swiss team chose to climb Everest enabled them to simultaneously conquer the world’s fourth-highest mountain, Lhotse, for the first time. 

The engraving on the case back refers to the 1953 expedition to Baffin Island (Canada). Estimate: CHF 20’000-40’000

This is the Number 1 Ref. 5402SA, the stainless steel and gold ‘Jumbo’ Royal Oak made from 1977 to 1985 in a total of 951 examples. Estimate: CHF 200’000-400’000.

This timepiece belongs to the Cartier ‘Paris Crash’ series released in 1991 as a tribute to the model produced by the brand’s London branch in the late 1960s. Jean-Jacques Cartier and the designer Rupert Emmerson were behind the creation of the original Crash. Estimate: CHF 120’000-180’000.

Only three examples of the Rolex Cosmograph Ref. 6263 'Paul Newman Lemon Dial' are known to exist. This is the oldest one, dating back to 1969, meaning that it predated some of the latest examples of the earlier 'pump pusher' Refs 6262 and 6264. Estimate: CHF 3,000,000-5,000,000.

Reference 1518 is the earliest Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch serially produced and the first produced by any manufacturer, ever. This one is the only known example double-signed and certified by Cartier. Estimate: CHF 1,500,000-2,500,000.



Vintage ads - Ciny (1939)

ENGLISH (il testo italiano è sotto l'immagine)
"For the city – For swimming – For sports – For staff nurses”. This ad emphasised that the Ciny catalog offered timepieces suitable for a wide range of activities.       
Do you like vintage watch ads? Please visit the
page about Watch Ads, my two-volume pictorial history of communication and design in 20th Century watchmaking. You can also watch the video about the publication and download a 20-page preview
of Volume 1.
The vintage ads presented in this Blog are not featured in the Watch Ads books.

"Per la città – Per il nuoto – Per lo sport – Per l’infermiera”. Questo annuncio sottolineava che il catalogo Ciny presentava orologi adatti per una vasta gamma d’attività.
Ti piacciono le pubblicità d'epoca? Visita la pagina su Watch Ads, la mia storia illustrata in due volumi della comunicazione e del design nell'orologeria del Novecento. Puoi anche guardare il video sull'opera e scaricare l'anteprima di 20 pagine del Volume 1.Gli annunci pubblicitari d'epoca presentati in questo Blog non sono inseriti nei volumi Watch Ads.


New releases - Code 41 Mecascape


A contraction of ‘mechanical’ and ‘landscape’, this timepiece can be easily slipped into a jacket pocket thanks to its thickness of only 7 mm. It features a main hour counter, minute counter, second counter, second time zone with the representation of a world map in the heart of the GMT disc, and power reserve indicator. An anti-reflective sapphire crystal and a Grade 5 titanium case ensure a structure suitable for everyday life. The movement is the result of the brand’s collaboration with the Cercle des Horlogers, an independent Swiss watchmaking workshop.




Historic timepieces - Churchill's watch

ENGLISH (il testo italiano è sotto la foto)  
This pocket watch was made in 1818 by Breguet and purchased in 1890 by John Spencer-Churchill, the 7th Duke of Marlborough. Later on, it was worn by the most famous of his descendants, Winston Churchill, who called it "the Turnip". It is a yellow gold minute repeater with a split-second chronograph whose serial number is 765. Its current owner is Randolph Churchill, the great grandson of the former British Prime minister.  
I took this picture a few years ago, while visiting the Churchill War Rooms in London. The caption seen at the bottom of the display window is incorrect - the timepiece is a split-second rather than flyback chronograph and entered the Churchill family in 1890 rather than 1818. 
The Oscar-winning actor Gary Oldman wore a Breguet-made replica of the Turnip in the movie "Darkest Hour" (2017). That timepiece is different from the original one, which does not feature the brand's name on the dial.
Questo orologio da tasca Breguet fu acquistato nel 1890 da John Spencer-Churchill, settimo Duca di Marlborough. In seguito fu indossato dal più celebre dei suoi discendenti, Winston Churchill, che lo battezzò "la Cipolla". Si tratta di una ripetizione minuti d'oro giallo con cronografo sdoppiante, il cui numero seriale è 765. L'attuale proprietario è Randolph Churchill, bisnipote dell'ex Primo ministro britannico. 
Ho scattato la foto qualche anno fa, durante una visita al museo Churchill War Rooms di Londra. Alcune delle informazioni riportate dalla targhetta visibile in fondo alla vetrina sono inesatte: l'orologio è un cronografo sdoppiante (non flyback) ed è proprietà della famiglia Churchill dal 1890 (non 1818). 
L'attore premio Oscar Gary Holdman ha indossato una replica della "Cipolla" creata da Breguet per il film "L'ora più buia". Il pezzo è diverso dall'originale, che non aveva il nome del fabbricante sul quadrante.