It might have been about 2005 that Jaeger-LeCoultre released the first Gyrotourbillon watch. When it came out, it caused a real stir and it was released during what I call "the tourbillon wars". During this time brand after brand began to release tourbillon escapement-based watches. This was interesting because the entire idea of a tourbillon was to be complicated and exclusive. Theoretically speaking (if you believed the hype) only a few top brands in the world could master a tourbillon and not everyone should have one. Though many did.
Donald Brewer (Founder and President of Phosphor Watches) was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about the Touch Time:
The original Reverso was produced in 1931 for British polo players stationed in India. The elite group wanted a watch they could wear while playing the game without too much risk of damage. At the time watch crystals were mostly glass and were relatively fragile. The Reverso case was designed to flip over and reveal a polished piece of solid metal to protect the crystal on the other side. The flipping case mechanism has of course been modernized a bit, but retains the same basic system as developed about 80 years ago. Last year Jaeger-LeCoultre fervently celebrated the 80th anniversary of the Reverso which involved the release of many new models, limited editions, and a closer look at the heritage of the watch. For review I had the pleasure of checking out one of the newer pieces - the Grande Reverso Duoface (also sometimes just called "Duo") timepiece (ref. Q374.24.21).
The examples are countless, but a good example is with Piaget. The Ralph Lauren Slim Classic timepieces each use movements made by Piaget for Ralph Lauren. Piaget started as a watch movement maker. Selling their their products to others who would put them in their own cases. It was not until the 1940s I believe that there was ever a Piaget watch. Today Ralph Lauren recalls that tradition. They design the watch and then work with a respected high-end watch movement maker to outfit them with movements. It makes sense to me, and I appreciate the transparency. To be honest it even helps me feel more comfortable about the value proposition than if Ralph Lauren attempted to make their own movements.
The movement inside of the watch is known as the Ven_10.1 digital quartz movement. I assume "Ven" stands for Ventura. It has the time, full calendar, chronograph, countdown timer, alarm, and second timezone. Made in Germany, the case is steel and comes in either this black tone, or in brushed steel. While it is available on a rubber strap, I think it looks best on the single link metal bracelet. The case is water resistant to 30 meters and is a rounded rectangle being 36.7mm wide by 41.8mm tall. I could have used a bit more size, but it is a unique look that works for many wrists. Plus, there are very few other watch cases out there with this shape. It feels very instrumental, but made for the home. Sometimes it looks like a bathroom weight scale made for the wrist.
For me, the most impressive all diamond-covered watch of this series was from Jaeger-LeCoultre. It is funny because a watch like that is almost totally against their marketing in the Western world. They promote ideas like "are you ready to own a real watch," and stress their mechanical ingenuity and power as a serious in-house mechanical watch maker. Then you have this unbelievably ostentatious diamond-covered watch that is designed about as nice as you could hope. The piece is a modified version of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Tourbillon Dual Time. The watch has the retrograde date hand removed, and the 24 hour dial for the second timezone has the indicators more or less removed. Stripped of some function, but the dial does looks tre, tre sexy no?
The second way, is to use the GMT hand and the bezel to indicate your home time. As you travel to different timezones, you can change to local time by unscrewing the crown and pulling it in the first position and turning it. In this second usage mode, only two times are readable and since the bezel is not being used for timezone changes, it's not the most effective use of the watch's features.
Tech specs from Xetum:
Rado at Baselworld 2012 had one of the biggest new collections around - especially with their massive new collection of HyperChrome watches (that I debuted here). What Rado also needed was something interesting to get media involved, and something Rado retailers could have in their showcase that would attract people. Come for the R-One, leave with the HyperChrome (or something else). Rado is pushing to be big again, especially in the Western world where the brand hasn't quite been able to keep up with popular trends. Though with Swatch muscle and ceramic DNA, they are actually in a good position to engage consumers looking to spend between ,000 - ,000 on a Swiss watch with a neat look.
This isn't the first tourbillon watch by Jaquet Droz, though it is the most elegant. A simple concept, this Grande Seconde Tourbillon takes the standard figure 8 dial design and inserts a classy looking tourbillon into the seconds dial. The resulting look is gorgeous and the tourbillon has a neat secret, but can you detect the amusing irony of the watch name?
Swatch Group's Tissot came out with the T-Touch in about 1999 I believe. It was probably the first watch that I know of that utilized a touch screen to access some of the functions. Now over a decade later, the T-Touch is one of the brand's strongest sellers. Only recently have you started to see touch screen watches in lower-priced variants across other brands. The Swatch Touch retails for about 9, much less than its bigger Swatch Group family brother which averages about ,000.
As I said before, these are among the few watch models out there that I could easily say will likely hold or increase in value for the future. This is due to the item itself, as well as its cult status among the most ardent watch lovers. Originally, each of these watches cost well over 0,000. Today, there are a few floating around for more than that. In the near future I anticipate many or most of the 75 pieces of each model to be in the hands of collectors and simply available via auction from time to time. I am lucky to have gotten the close-in time with these pieces that I did.
Dial and hands:
From the clean dial to the lugless case, everything about the piece was modern. It was also one of the very first watches to have a black coated metal case I believe. Though back then, the metal coating was not exactly as great as it is today, and was said to have a tendency to wear off. The Heritage versions of the classic pieces are not direct analogs. They are larger and constructed using modern materials and techniques.