THE VALUE

Plaza Watch International - - Sihh Roundup -

Mont­blanc Meis­ter­stück Her­itage Per­pet­ual Cal­en­dar

Let’s cut to the chase here – a per­pet­ual cal­en­dar for less than US$13,000 doesn’t hap­pen. Un­til now that is. Mont­blanc has just usurped Jaeger-LeCoul­tre’s po­si­tion for of­fer­ing the most af­ford­able high-end per­pet­ual cal­en­dar. The Master Ul­tra Thin per­pet­ual was a shade un­der $20,000 and that was an un­prece­dented price. The common link here is of course for­mer CEO of Jaeger-LeCoul­tre, Jérôme Lam­bert – who took the CEO role at Mont­blanc in July 2013. This is a bold state­ment and the har­bin­ger of yet more changes at Mont­blanc.

The watch it­self has cre­ated a wave of talk, so full marks for win­ning at­ten­tion. As it should, this watch is the flag­ship piece in the new Meis­ter­stück Col­lec­tion. Draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from the iconic Meis­ter­stück range of writ­ing in­stru­ments, the whole col­lec­tion is an el­e­gant de­pic­tion of re­straint and tra­di­tional styling. The per­pet­ual cal­en­dar or ‘QP’ (quantieme per­petuel) mea­sures in at a de­mure 39mm and is pow­ered by the Cal­i­bre MB 29.15, which is self-wind­ing and has a 42- hour power re­serve.

It would be re­miss of me not to men­tion some as­pects of the Meis­ter­stück Her­itage Per­pet­ual Cal­en­dar, which may not be to ev­ery­one’s taste. The par­tially re­cessed sub­di­als are a lit­tle cramped to­gether, whereas the dates num­bers have been flipped, the day and month in­di­ca­tions must be read up­side down on the bot­tom of each dial. But th­ese are mi­nor and finick­ity points in the big­ger pic­ture – which in­volves the price be­ing $12,800 in steel and $21,000 in rose gold.

Van Cleef & Ar­pels Heure d’ici & Heure d’ailleurs

It’s a dif­fi­cult task to try and quan­tify the value of any of the watches on dis­play and for sale at SIHH. How do th­ese brands ar­rive at the fi­nal price point? By what cri­te­ria do they gauge that all-im­por­tant fi­nal price tag?

Can you cal­cu­late the value of the ma­te­ri­als used, the salaries of all those in­volved on a pro rata ba­sis for the con­tri­bu­tion to each watch, an ad­di­tional in­cre­ment to ac­count for the pe­riod of re­search and de­vel­op­ment re­quired, and then add a suit­able amount to re­flect the pres­tige of the brand it­self?

Is there a common method shared by mul­ti­ple brands for as­cer­tain­ing the most ap­pro­pri­ate and suit­able price point? It re­minds me of some­thing my fa­ther once said about any item’s real value, “It’s not how much it’s worth, but how much you can sell it for.”

Value is sub­jec­tive and lies with the be­holder. If it’s worth 50 grand in the purse holder’s mind – then, all no­tions of value for money are, il­log­i­cally or not, out the win­dow. Which brings us to the Heure d’ici & Heure d’ailleurs

The re­sponse to this new model in the cat­e­gory of ‘Poetic Com­pli­ca­tion’ was unan­i­mously pos­i­tive. A rel­a­tively sim­ple and in­stant hit. The watch was con­ceived in con­junc­tion with Agen­hor (Ate­lier Genevois d’Hor­logerie) a company with Jean-Marc Wieder­recht at the helm. Wieder­recht re­cently worked with Her­mès on their poetic Le Temps du Sus­pendu watch, and now his magic is all over the 'Time here & time else­where' from Van Cleef & Ar­pels.

A dual time­zone watch with only one hand, the time is told by the soli­tary hand in­di­cat­ing min­utes on a 0-60 fanned track on the left side of the dial, the hour ‘here and else­where’ is in­di­cated by num­bers within the two aper­tures at 11 and 5. Th­ese change simultaneously as they are con­nected to a sin­gle sec­tion that syn­chro­nizes the two hour discs and the ret­ro­grade minute hand. When 60 min­utes are up on the minute track, the hand clicks back to zero and the two hour num­bers in­crease.

Like truth, beauty is best when it is sim­ple. The un­com­pli­cated dis­play and almost min­i­mal­ist code of this time­piece makes it out­stand­ing. And there­fore its value is what some­one is will­ing to pay for such artistry.

It counts me out at US$41,000, but I’m sure there’ll be watch fans scrab­bling to get their or­ders in.

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