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OMEGA reintroduces the iconic Calibre 321

MD Staff

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If you ask most watch fans to name a famous movement they’d like to see reborn, you’re bound to hear them mention the OMEGA Calibre 321. This robust and elegant chronograph movement has been a favourite since the 1940s and is still highly sought-after by watch collectors around the world. Now, more than 50 years after the last Calibre 321 was produced, OMEGA is bringing the iconic movement back.

Known for its beautifully intricate design, the original Calibre 321 earned a notable place in history. It was used in a variety of models including the Speedmaster ST 105.003 (the model first tested and qualified by NASA and worn by astronaut Ed White during the first American spacewalk) and the Speedmaster ST 105.012 (the first watch worn on the moon).

Reintroducing a movement with such an important reputation must therefore be done with the utmost exactness. For the Calibre 321 project, OMEGA utilised a dedicated team of experts who worked efficiently over two years and in total secrecy to bring the movement to life. The small group was composed of researchers, developers and historians, as well as the finest craftsmen and experienced watchmakers.

Using the 2nd generation Calibre 321 as a reference, the OMEGA team compiled extensive historical research and original plans to reconstruct the movement as accurately as possible. Going even further, they also used digital scanning technology to see inside the true Speedmaster ST 105.003 timepiece that astronaut Eugene “Gene” Cernan wore on the moon during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

As a result, even the most unique and iconic parts of the Calibre 321 have been reborn in respect to their authentic specifications. The new movements will now go into production at OMEGA’s HQ site in Bienne. Uniquely, all aspects of creation will be undertaken within a dedicated Calibre 321 workshop. For each movement, the assembly, as well as the watch head and bracelet assembly will be performed by the same watchmaker. Watch fans can expect more developments and news in the coming months.

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Heritage Wonders: Lucky 13 & Polaris Memodate

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Throughout its history, Jaeger‑LeCoultre has been driven by the spirit of inventiveness, its expertise rewarded with more than 400 patents, and its watchmakers’ technical skills and creative imagination embodied in more than 1,200 different calibres.

As these two rare watches from the mid-20th Century demonstrate, every decade has brought fresh ideas and solutions, reflecting the spirit of the times. Among the many changes brought by the 1950s and 60s – represented by each of these watches – were, on one hand, tremendous advances in technology and aerospace, and on the other, the transformation of diving from a challenging pursuit to a widely practised leisure activity.

A rare LeCoultre Polaris Memodate (1967): to be sold at Phillips Geneva, November 2019:

In 1950, Jaeger‑LeCoultre introduced its first wristwatch featuring an alarm and called it the Memovox (‘voice of memory’). As the model become one of the most desirable and reliable on the market, the company introduced different variations, including a date display, a self-winding version and even an alarm designed to time parking meters.

In 1959, noting that diving had begun evolving from a specialist pursuit into a recreational sport enjoyed by thousands, Jaeger‑LeCoultre decided to adapt the Memovox to the sea. The company realised that it could offer both a visual timer (on the inner bezel) and an auditory alarm (which also caused vibration against the case) for ultimate diver safety.

To do so, Jaeger‑LeCoultre created a patented, multi-layer case-back that optimised the alarm’s sound transmission under water. The outer case, with its 16 holes, allowed for the alarm tone to be heard and also felt on the wrist, while the inner case sealed and protected the movement.

Known in the United States as the Polaris, and in Europe as the ‘Montre de plongeur E859’, the reference E859 featured three crowns, each with the cross-hatch pattern characteristic of SuperCompressor watches. The first crown is for time setting, the second rotates the inner bezel for dive timing, and the third rotates the central disc to align the arrow with the alarm time.

The example being offered by Phillips was made in 1967 for the American market and stands out from other models thanks to its very rare dial markings. While most of the dials were stamped Memovox or bore no inscription other than the LeCoultre name, this watch is stamped Memodate.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the Memodate Polaris is its combination of two apparently opposite aspects of watchmaking: the tradition of delicate aural complications and the needs of a practical sporting timepiece. In this respect, it epitomises the open-minded spirit of inventiveness that has created such a rich patrimony at Jaeger‑LeCoultre and continues to drive the Maison to this day.

The unique LeCoultre “Lucky 13” (1962): to be sold at Phillips New York, December 2019

The LeCoultre “Lucky 13” is a truly remarkable and unique watch presented by the Chicago Anti-Superstition Society alongside 13 U.S. Senators to an original Mercury Seven U.S. astronaut to commemorate his historic achievement of becoming the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth.

Featuring the number 13 at every hour marker, the watch celebrated the Friendship 7 spacecraft capsule used for the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission. Friendship 7 was the 13th space capsule produced by McDonnell Aircraft Corp, and the 13s on the dial were used to illustrate the society’s rejection of the number 13 as unlucky.

The ceremony, taking place on Friday, April 13th, 1962, was entered in the House Congressional Record on October 13th, 1962. The consignor intends to donate a portion of the proceeds of the sale of this watch to The John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University.

As well as demonstrating Jaeger‑LeCoultre’s technical expertise, the deep meaning and personal connections behind the story of these unique timepieces remind us that watches have always had social and emotional significance – which sometimes even overrides their practical purpose.

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The Breitling Avenger Swiss Air Force Team Limited Edition

MD Staff

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Breitling is celebrating the 55th anniversary of the Patrouille Suisse Swiss Air Force Team, admired around the world for its dazzling aerial performances, with the launch of the Avenger Swiss Air Force Team Limited Edition, produced in a series of 550 pieces.

In 1964, the Swiss Air Force created an aerobatics team, named Patrouille Suisse, made up of some of its most talented pilots. Today, 55 years later, the Patrouille Suisse squadron dazzles audiences with aerial displays in the skies above Switzerland and other European countries with precision performances in six supersonic jets. Breitling has created a new watch to honor these high-flying Swiss ambassadors: the Avenger Swiss Air Force Team Limited Edition.

Georges Kern, the CEO of Breitling, welcomes the opportunity to celebrate the Patrouille Suisse squadron’s anniversary with a limited-edition chronograph. He says: “The Patrouille Suisse Swiss Air Force Team and Breitling make ideal partners. Flying in tight formations in supersonic jets, the Patrouille Suisse squadron is the perfect modern expression of our long aviation tradition. We are excited about the watch we have created to celebrate their 55th anniversary.”

The Breitling Avenger Swiss Air Force Team Limited Edition has a 45 mm stainless-steel case with a ratcheted unidirectional rotating bezel. Its striking black dial features the logo of the Patrouille Suisse squadron on the subdial at 9 o’clock as well as distinctive yellow and red accents that reflect the colors of the Patrouille Suisse squadron’s logo. The yellow-tipped second hand adds another dash of color. The hands and the black indexes are coated with Super-LumiNova®, a luminescent material that makes them easily readable in all lighting conditions. The caseback is engraved with the Patrouille Suisse squadron’s 55th anniversary logo – a stylized 55 and six supersonic jets in flight – along with the words “ONE OF 550”, an indication of its special limited-edition status.

The Avenger Swiss Air Force Team Limited Edition is powered by a Breitling Caliber 13, a COSC-certified chronometer movement with a power reserve of approximately 48 hours. It is water-resistant to 30 bar (300 meters). The special limited-edition Avenger is presented on an anthracite leather military strap with a pin buckle.

The Campaign Revolving around the Patrouille Suisse Swiss Air Force Team

Breitling is proud to present three talented Patrouille Suisse jet pilots to support this anniversary edition. Major Gunnar Jansen joined the Patrouille Suisse Swiss Air Force Team in 2010 and has led the formation for the past three years. Captain Claudius Meier flies in the second position, on the right side of the leader. Captain Lukas Nannini, the second soloist, who flies in the fifth position on the outer left wing, completes the squad.

Breitling

Since 1884, Breitling has established a global reputation for high-precision timepieces, its pioneering role in the development of the wrist chronograph, and its uncompromising commitment to design excellence. With the brand’s storied association with aviation, Breitling has shared the finest moments in humankind’s conquest of the skies. Renowned for its spirit of innovation, it has also earned a place of privilege in the worlds of science, sport, and technology. Breitling manufactures its own movements inhouse and the quality of every watch is confirmed by its status as a COSC-certified chronometer, made in Switzerland.

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Hublot marks a new step in its retail strategy by opening its first boutique in India

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Hublot opened its first flagship Boutique in India, located in the heart of Mumbai at the Palladium Mall, one of the most prestigious luxury shopping locations in the country. The Mall offers an unrivalled mix of traditional elegance and contemporary luxury. Covering more than 45 square meters, on the ground floor of the mall, this brand new Hublot Boutique exemplifies the brand’s well-known motto, « The Art of Fusion », blending materials and styles in a truly modern and innovative spirit. Paying tribute to the art world, the boutique is decorated with Pop Art paintings inspired by the iconic Big Bang collection. Hublot Big Bang, Classic Fusion, Spirit of Big Bang, MP as well as exclusive limited editions will be on display for all watch lovers.


We are delighted and proud to open India’s first Hublot Boutique in one of most well-known luxury retail destinations in the country. This opening demonstrates not only the success of the brand, which goes from strength to strength since the birth of the iconic Big Bang in 2005, but also Hublot’s willingness to constantly challenge fine watchmaking by fusing tradition with innovation, while offering the highest level of service to its clients. Today marks a new milestone for Hublot, and the Mumbai Boutique will, for sure, serve as a springboard for Hublot in India… and worldwide!
– Ricardo Guadalupe
CEO HUBLOT
 
Present at the Opening, Hublot’s Brand Ambassador, ex cricket star Kevin Pietersen graced the occasion and interacted with eminent members of media and Hublotistas alike. He teached Ricardo Guadalupe how to bowl on a small pitch designed for the occasion.
 
I played many times in India throughout my professional career, and I really love the country. India deserve a Hublot flagship Boutique, and Mumbai is the perfect location. I am also really happy to be here today, next to Ricardo, as we just announced Hublot’s partnership with my platform, SORAI, Save Our Rhino Africa India.
– Kevin Pietersen
Founder of SORAI
 
Rohit Sharma, the best white ball cricketer opener in the world and Hublot’s Friend of the Brand, was unable to attend the illustrious event.  However, he addressed the media in the form of a direct telecast from Pune, where he is representing India in the forthcoming Test Match between South Africa and India. He congratulated Hublot for this first boutique in India and applauded the social contribution of the brand Hublot towards saving the rhinos in India, a cause with which he himself is also associated. 

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