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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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Dongyu Zhou wears Constellation

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Award-winning Chinese actress Dongyu Zhou wears OMEGA’s Constellation Small Seconds.

A winner of multiple domestic and foreign film awards, Dongyu Zhou is an accomplished actress capable of delivering convincing and critically acclaimed performances ranging in genres from crime thriller to romantic comedy.

Her many accolades include the Best Actress award at the 53rd Golden Horse Awards in 2016 for her impressive performance in Soul Mate, and best actress for Better Days at the 39th Hong Kong Film Awards and 33rd Golden Rooster Awards.

As Dongyu Zhou is the youngest actress to have been honoured with the three most significant film accolades in the history of Chinese film, her choice of watch proves that the timeless OMEGA is never out of step with style.

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A New Tribe Lands As An Icon Ascends

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Roger Dubuis has consistently demonstrated a penchant for impertinence and extravagance. Sustained by an integrated manufacture, a flagrant disregard for convention is the backbone of its bold attitude. A true innovator, the luxury watchmaker is driven by an irrepressible willingness to come up with high-impact ideas, boundary-pushing technologies and unmistakable out-of-the-box designs. Living by the motto NO RULES, OUR GAME, the Maison proves once again it is the most exciting way to experience Hyper Horology with the launch of the new Excalibur Single Flying Tourbillon.

THE FUTURE OF HYPER HOROLOGY IS HERE

Extravagant, determined and disruptive, the bold and bright are the ones that stand out. Just like any star should. But a star doesn’t just appear. It takes dedication. Innovation. Craftsmanship. Only then can an icon ascend…Introducing the Excalibur Single Flying Tourbillon: a star restyled for the new world. To mark the launch of the inimitable skeleton design reinterpreted with a contemporary touch, Roger Dubuis is set to celebrate modern art in all its shapes. Taking form in Hyper Horology with the Maison’s most recent interpretation of the Excalibur Single Flying Tourbillon, this icon of watchmaking is brought to a whole new level; a masterpiece that cannot be ignored, just like its wearer.

Finding kinship with those disruptive souls who dare to make a difference, the Maison partners with the URBAN ART TRIBE, world-famous urban culture artists that reflect Roger Dubuis’ values: break the rules, showcase radical expertise and obsess daily over the design of the future.

THE EXCALIBUR SINGLE FLYING TOURBILLON: FROM A TIMEPIECE TO A MASTERPIECE

Roger Dubuis continues shaking up the world of haute horlogerie with the launch of the new Excalibur Single Flying Tourbillon. Enhanced with meticulous care, the timepiece is reinterpreted with sophistication and flair using modern and technical materials.

A contemporary masterpiece for the wrist, the new design showcases clean cut lines on both case and movement. Creating the impression of a thinner look and feel, while heightening the sense of transparency and depth, the calibre is rebuilt from bottom to top in an architectural feat that sees the Roger Dubuis star now levitate freely above the barrel. A strong visual identity is created with a signature two-line pattern – seen between the notch on the crown and bezel, the star’s arms, the tourbillon’s cage, the hour’s marking on the flange, the hands – all of which cleverly appear as though they will meet but never do. This dynamic aesthetic is amplified by the Poinçon de Genève, the most demanding signature in fine watchmaking and one that requires the manual decoration of each and every component of the watch, as well as unexpected and antinomic decorations in modern haute horlogerie, such as circular-brushed top surfaces and polished angles that demonstrate Roger Dubuis’ visionary approach.

Always keeping the wearer in mind, the new RD512SQ calibre is stunning in its technical prowess. Now with a titanium lower tourbillon cage – twice lighter than stainless steel – and a mirror-polished Cobalt Chrome upper tourbillon cage, the weight of the piece is reduced to optimum effect. All of which allows the power reserve to be radically optimised to 72 hours, providing the option of leaving the watch unworn over weekends without the worry of resetting come Monday. Proving no detail goes unconsidered, non-magnetic material is used inside the tourbillon to better serve the wearers and improve their experience.

Comfort is key, which is why a range of entirely new strap sizes have become available. With 5 sizes from 0 to 4, finding the perfect strap ensures the buckle is always centred on the wrist, as a Quick Release System offers ultimate flexibility. Underscored by rarity, the 42mm case is only available in eighty-eight pieces per colourway: Dark Grey DLC Titanium, Cobalt Chrome CarTech Micro-Melt BioDur CCMTM and the new EON GOLD, a pink gold shade that remains more stable thanks to non-tarnish technology. Reimagined for a contemporary era, an icon ascends in the shape of the Excalibur Single Flying Tourbillon.

THE ART OF GLOW

Showcasing the Maison’s obsession with art, light and luminescence, in addition to our icons comes the Excalibur Glow Me Up, a world-premiere for Roger Dubuis limited to just eight timepieces.

By day, the new Single Flying Tourbillon calibre is elegantly adorned with 60 baguette-cut diamonds on the bezel. By night, it’s a complete different version that comes to life through this vibrant timepiece with luminescent and dazzling diamonds, an achievement made possible thanks to an intricate two-part process. The first involves filling the grooves that hold the stones in place with Super-Luminova, a singular way to make the diamonds appear luminescent without altering them. Secondly, an additional patent enables Super-Luminova to be applied on the angles of the movement, as well as to the iconic star-shaped bridge. Because at Roger Dubuis less is never more.

ART IN THE MAKING

Roger Dubuis is a destination for the avant-garde. Committed to non-conformity, the Maison stands with those who choose to blaze their own trail. To show what happens when rules are rejected and creativity is unleashed, Roger Dubuis partners with the URBAN ART TRIBE, composed of two urban culture creatives – tattoo artist Dr. Woo and graffiti artist Gully. Rulebreakers in their own fields, they too shape the future by refusing to take ‘no’ for an answer. Brought together to unite a wider community of daring minds, Roger Dubuis and the URBAN ART TRIBE hope to encourage people to challenge the way things are, just as the Maison does when it comes to Hyper Horology, and Dr. Woo and Gully do in their industries.

A leading name among an influential elite who see tattoos, art and fashion as an indissociable whole, Dr. Woo’s singular approach to needle style has shifted the paradigm for tattoos, taking them from subculture to broad popular appeal. Of the partnership he says: “I’ve taken this path because I don’t know where it leads, and that is exactly why I’m here – to seek the unknown and go out of my comfort zone. Tattooing and watchmaking have that in common: the same attention to detail, a dot vs. a tiny component, assembled perfectly for you to see the bigger picture.”

Gully, a well-known graffiti artist, chooses to work exclusively in his own atelier to maintain his anonymity. He uses a wide variety of mixed techniques and materials and explains his artistic concept as one based on conscious appropriation. Telling visual stories of children appearing in splendid settings, he reveals their enchantment with art and particularly with the paintings of the great masters. Speaking to the concept of the tribe, he comments: “Two worlds, a crossing path. I feel driven by the same energy and insatiable envy to come up with something we have never seen before. It comes as a bombshell, provokes surprise, and arouses interest. Bringing different worlds together is my trademark, so I can’t wait to show you the Gully x Roger Dubuis mixture.”

Generously opening the doors to their respective workshops, Dr. Woo and Gully will begin their long-term partnerships with Roger Dubuis by first sharing their creative processes at work. Initially set to reinterpret the brand’s iconic astral signature, they will continue to co-create the future of Hyper Horology alongside the Maison.

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Breitling’s Heritage, Revived

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Inspired by the inventive spirit of Breitling’s founders, the new Premier Heritage Collection is for the modern and discerning man of impeccable taste. These exquisite timepieces are the brand’s most elegant and refined.

“This heritage-inspired design with a stylish modern twist embodies some of Breitling’s most famous innovations, and revives Breitling’s legacy of inventing the modern chronograph. This truly is our heritage revived,” says Georges Kern of Breitling’s timelessly elegant new collection.

The Premier Heritage Collection pays homage to Breitling’s very own Founders Squad: three generations of men who changed the history of timekeeping and made Breitling what it is today. Léon Breitling founded the company in 1884; later, he patented a simple timer/tachymeter that could measure any speed between 15 and 150 km/h, an invention featured in the 1906 Vitesse pocket watch.

In 1915, his son, Gaston, created one of the first wrist-worn chronographs with an independent pusher at 2 o’clock. This innovation separated the start, stop, and reset functions from the crown, making it infinitely more practical for timing sports.

In 1934, Léon’s grandson, Willy, patented the second independent chronograph pusher at 4 o’clock. Among Willy Breitling’s celebrated pioneering achievements was the establishment of the Huit Aviation Department in 1938.

Impeccable taste

Besides being bold and tech savvy, Willy Breitling understood people’s desire for a touch of elegance and glamour. This inspired him to design the original Premier wristwatches in the 1940s, Breitling’s first step in linking purpose with style. As Willy saw it, “When a man puts on his watch, it is the unmistakable stamp of impeccable taste.”

The latest generation of Premiers – Breitling’s Premier Heritage Collection – brings this timeless elegance back to life. The collection includes six watches divided into three distinctive categories: The Chronograph, The Duograph, and The Datora.

All feature Arabic numerals, vintage-inspired hands and semi-shiny alligator straps with tone-on-tone stitching. Every watch is a COSC-certified chronometer and water-resistant up to 100 meters.

Groundbreaking functions

The 40 mm Premier Heritage Chronograph is manually wound, just like its 1940s predecessors. It is powered by the Breitling Manufacture Caliber B09, which is based on the Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01. It comes in two variations: with an eye-catching pistachio-green dial encased in stainless steel or a stately silver-colored dial encased in 18 k red gold.

With stainless-steel and 18 k red gold cases measuring 42 mm, the Premier Heritage Duograph comes with a blue or black dial, respectively. Its rattrapante function – one of the most elaborate in watchmaking – enables the wearer to measure two elapsed times simultaneously thanks to its two superimposed chronograph hands. This piece houses the mechanical hand-wound Breitling Manufacture Caliber B15, which is based on the Breitling Manufacture Caliber B03.

Like its 1940s predecessor, the 42 mm Premier Heritage Datora also stands out for its highly visible and complex functions, namely its day, date, and moon-phase displays. It is powered by the Manufacture Caliber B25. The Datora’s copper-colored face is framed by a stainless-steel case, while its silver-colored dial comes in an 18 k red gold one.

All three models of the Premier Heritage Collection highlight Breitling’s mastery of timekeeping as it has evolved over the generations.

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