Ed­i­tor’s Note

World of Watches (Singapore) - - Contents - Yeo Suan Futt, con­tribut­ing man­ag­ing ed­i­tor

Read­ers who fol­low this col­umn will no­tice that Ce­line the man­ag­ing ed­i­tor is tak­ing a break. Just a short one, she’ll be back in Septem­ber. This be­ing the ear­lier part of the year, the glit­ter from the watch ex­pos, par­tic­u­larly Baselworld, has yet to set­tle, and we bring you high­lights from the fair. There are plenty, and it’s al­ways a chal­lenge putting them into mean­ing­ful cat­e­gories that are as im­por­tant as the in­for­ma­tion about the watches them­selves. A far cry from the 29 Swiss brands that ex­hib­ited at the first Basel fair in 1917 – it was called “Sch­weizer Muster­messe Basel” then (Ger­man for “Swiss In­dus­tries Fair”, says Google) – to­day’s Baselworld is an as­sem­bly of 1,500 brands from all over the globe. With the Geneva fair in Jan­uary and Basel fair in March, ev­ery time­piece pub­li­ca­tion in­clud­ing ours, whether dig­i­tal, print or both, has that feel­ing of a python af­ter way too much stuff­ing. But digest, we must. And we hope our par­tic­u­lar take can be in­for­ma­tive and in­sight­ful.

China is not the ele­phant in the room, be­cause no one can stop talking about it. Rather, it is the 800-pound go­rilla caught in that vir­tual eter­nity of a mid-step stum­ble, dur­ing which op­ti­mists and pes­simists of all de­grees de­bate over whether it would catch it­self and power on like the 18-wheeler it has shown it­self to be, or pro­ceed to make an ugly splash. Which will it be? Who can say for sure? And be­sides, what­ever the out­come, it’s go­ing to be dif­fer­ent for dif­fer­ent pro­duc­ers, con­sumers, and coun­tries. But per­haps it’s a good time to put aside such witty barbs as “The Chi­nese will buy any­thing!” Very good times in­deed when they did; but mat­ters fall­ing back to more re­al­is­tic lev­els isn’t all a bad thing. We are see­ing a trend to­wards more watches cased in steel, col­lec­tions pegged to­wards value (cheap? Never, there’s no value, and no dig­nity in that!). But cre­ativ­ity abounds. The Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Ma­rine Tour­bil­lon is one such es­say of mad­ness – we mean that in the pos­i­tive way that our jaws dropped when we saw the use of pul­leys and a boom to tell time, on a dial of deck wood. A watch­maker’s brain is too pre­cious to spoil for want of cre­ative ex­er­cise, so we are sin­cere in our praise.

Even as Basel takes cen­tre stage, we also ex­tend the lime­light to Pan­erai, a brand which ex­hibits at SIHH in Geneva rather than Basel. It’s a cult brand for good rea­son. Vaguely speak­ing, Ital­ians have a spe­cial touch when it comes to de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing. Petrol­heads the world over lust af­ter Fer­rari and Lam­borgh­ini; but I am cer­tain there are many who also take quiet plea­sure in a Fiat. The Uno is fondly re­mem­bered though its 45bhp took pa­tience (never croaked in the years I had it); and I’ve al­ways ad­mired the con­tours on a Punto and Bravo. As for en­gi­neer­ing cre­ativ­ity, look no fur­ther than the moka pot – also “macchinetta” for those who love the way the sounds roll of one’s tongue. Just a hum­ble stove­top cof­fee maker, but beauty in form, prin­ci­ple, and op­er­a­tion el­e­vates the moka pot from the mun­dane­ness of its pur­pose.

Pan­erai first en­thralled with its his­tory and de­sign; but in the years fol­low­ing, it has scaled tech­ni­cal hur­dles like few other, pro­duc­ing in-house move­ments by the dozens, com­bin­ing an Ital­ian soul with very re­fined Swiss watch­mak­ing for the to­tal cult watch pack­age. In this is­sue, we pro­file Pan­erai’s long power re­serve watches, of 10 and eight days.

While we’re on the topic of move­ments, we have put to­gether a list of 10 watch move­ments that one must know. We de­bated among our­selves be­fore de­cid­ing to skip the usual ETA work­horses. In­stead, our choices are meant to af­ford a broad sur­vey of the watch scene, and cov­er­ing what’s avail­able out there ne­ces­si­tated mov­ing be­yond what most watch com­pa­nies are al­ready us­ing. The re­gard owed to ETA will have to be paid an­other day.

And fi­nally, our watch scene would be much poorer were it not for in­di­vid­u­als like Kurt Klaus, Wal­ter Lange, Roger Dubuis, and Michel Parmi­giani. In our spe­cial re­port, we got these veter­ans to tell us what watch­mak­ing has been like, from the time in the 1970s when it nearly died. Com­pelling read­ing, to say the least.

En­joy the is­sue.

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