Chrono Loco

A question hangs over whether there’s a place for traditionally hand-crafted mechanical timepieces in our digitally entwined universe, but that’s precisely the point – their anachronism is a defiance of everything that will eventually be obsolete

TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph in steel. £5,500

Chanel J12 Phantom in ceramic and steel. £5,500

Audemars Piguet (Re)Master01 Selfwinding Chronograph in steel and pink gold. £51,800

IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph in steel. £11,600

Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Automatique in platinum. £140,500

Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu II Blue Pavé in titanium. £36,500

Tudor Black Bay in steel. £2,840

Bvlgari Bvlgari Cities Special Edition, Roma in carbon-coated steel. £3,810

Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57 in steel. £3,400

Rado True Square Open Heart Automatic in ceramic. £2,090

Photography Nhu Xuan Hua

Photography assistant Karolina Burlikowska

Set design Paulina Piipponen

Styling Rudy Simba Betty

Hand models Paul Darnell Davis Thomas, Malcolm Yaeng, Piotr Jarosz

Time and Light: Candela

Port speaks to the team behind the bold new Panerai design collaboration, Candela, currently on display at the Salone del Mobile in Milan

Candela – the hypnotic, slowly rotating, glowing circle, originally produced for Officine Panerai at the London Design Festival – has landed at this year’s Salone del Mobile. Designed to develop the key elements of the historic watch company founded in Florence in 1860, the installation mirrors the brand’s focus on design – which functions as much a vocation as it does for research and innovation – and draws visually on the luminescent dials which, since they began supplying the Italian Navy, have come to characterise the brand’s watches.

Named after the unit used by scientists to measure the luminous intensity of light, Candela was dreamt up by a British design team comprised of designer Felix de Pass, graphic designer Michael Montgomery and ceramicist Ian McIntyre. Now currently exhibited as part of the Salone del Mobile at La Triennale di Milano, an art and design museum in Milan, until 22nd April, it will eventually become part of the permanent display for the exhibition. Here, Port spoke to the team about how the idea developed, the significance of working with Panerai and what it means to be part of the Triennale’s permanent collection.

Could you describe Candela?

Candela is an immersive time-based installation. Combining digital and analogue technology, the project experiments with the light-retaining properties of the phosphorescent material used on the face and dials of Officine Panerai watches. The installation consists of a large mechanical wheel that gently rotates through 700 programmable LEDs housed within a ceramic casing. The face of the wheel is coated with a phosphorescent material that becomes charged by the light sources. The LEDs are programmed to turn on and off in a sequence that creates a perpetual ebb and flow of luminous patterns. The rich layering effect is a form of mark-making that exploits the ‘memory’ of the phosphorescent material and how it changes over time.

Where did the idea for Candela come from and how did it develop?

Panerai asked us to create an experience which offers a new view on the concept of light and time, based around the brand’s key values and philosophy. For us, Candela summarised all of Panerai’s values and at the same time it looks like a design object.

Candela installed in La Triennale di Milano

What did it mean to work with Panerai on this project?

This project gave us the chance to utilise and experiment with specific light-retaining properties, and the material Super-LumiNova typically found on the face and dials of Panerai watches. It was also an exciting challenge to combine the digital with the analogue, applying a high tech approach (using 700 individually programmed LEDs) with a low tech result (light is retained physically within the Super-LumiNova, before fading over time). This is how watch makers must feel all the time!

How did each of your particular disciplines come into play on this project?

We all come from different design disciplines but each of us collaborated equally on every aspect of the project. This created an exciting dynamic and led to unexpected solutions. The form of Candela was carefully detailed, we were able to hide the motor within the base to make it as simple as possible, and the back was just as important to us as the font. Super-LumiNova starts life as a solid ceramic, so this played to Ian’s strength and is why we decided to house the LEDs in a ceramic casing. The graphic patterns were developed by all three of us on site and are programmed through a theatre lighting desk which made it easy for us to play around with what worked.

TenTen Issue 2

In our latest edition of TenTen, we explore the stratospheric reach of luxury horology from the time-keeping tale of a record-setting aviator, to the role of the Omega Speedmaster in the NASA Apollo space program, and much more…

For our second annual edition of Port’s watch special, TenTen, we’ve gone for a globetrotting theme. As the nautical name of our magazine indicates, we have a penchant for tales of seafaring. Precise, reliable ways of portable timekeeping have their roots in the oldest means of global travel: by sea. In this issue of TenTen, we discover how global exploration shaped the art of watchmaking.

TenTen remembers Walter Lange, 1924-2017, the watchmaker who fled the East German uranium mines in 1948, and returned to his home country when the Berlin Wall fell to re-establish Germany’s fine-watchmaking reputation.  

We also discover the horological legacy of Charles A. Lindbergh, who in 1927 set records for the first and longest non-stop transatlantic flight from New York to Paris. Famous horloger Longines was present to time his voyage, and the adventurous duo then collaborated on a revolutionary navigational instrument that enabled precise timekeeping. Coming back down to earth, TenTen discover the subaquatic resilience of the Rolex ‘Submariner’; and the carbon innovations in horology that combine strength with feather lightness.

Elsewhere, TenTen investigate the crucial role of the Omega ‘Moon watch’ in the ‘successful failure’ of Apollo 13 in 1970; unite man’s best friend with man’s best accessory in our playful canine editorial; investigate the quintessentially Roman brand making waves in bespoke Swiss watchmaking; and recall the cameo role played by the Rochefoucauld watch in ‘80s screwball comedy Trading Places.

TenTen is the supplement of issue 21 of Port, out now. To buy a single issue or to subscribe, click here

Salon QP 2015: Spiders, Icebergs & Dark Horses

From watches encased in icebergs, to mechanical spiders and a celebration of chronographs, Sam Kessler selects his highlights from London’s biggest watch fair: Salon QP

As Salon QP 2015 closed its doors – or at least, those of the Saatchi Gallery – for another year, London’s most important horological showcase drew to a close. As ever it was, for me, the ideal balance of breadth and intimacy; there were far more brands to see than SIHH, yet it wasn’t as gratuitously vast as Baselworld.

Despite lasting just three days (two and half if you’re being pedantic), there was more than enough to see over the three floors and 11 galleries, including timepieces encased in ice and a good number of dark and stormies. Each of the 90 or so brands was vying for attention, and not always with simple watches; there was even a Ducati green screen photo set-up, courtesy of the bike-maker’s partnership with Tudor.

Tudor North Flag
Tudor North Flag

Needless to say Rolex’s younger sibling was riding high on the success of its recent entry to biennial charity auction Only Watch, where it submitted a version of the Black Bay Heritage that crested at around 107 times its estimate. While that particular watch wasn’t there Tudor managed to make an impact with its North Flag, which was frozen into an ice sculpture. Taking 50 hours to make and with a 70-hour power reserve on the watch, the watchmaker must have had a perfectly-timed freezer full of them.

MB&F Arachnophobia Black
MB&F Arachnophobia Black

Even though it didn’t go to the lengths of presenting glaciated timepieces, it was impossible to miss MB&F at Salon QP – partly due to the striking display of a giant arachnid clock, toy robot and miniature space station… For me however, it was MB&F’s unique take on the perpetual calendar that was the highlight.

Harry Winston Opus 14
Harry Winston Opus 14

Yet if we’re talking showstoppers, there was one watch that was on the tip of every horologically-inclined tongue: Harry Winston’s Opus 14. The series has always been the height of the Swatch Group-owned brand’s collection, but I’ve never seen anything quite like this.

Modelled after a jukebox, the watch allows you – at the press of a button – to switch between three discs on the dial. One shows the date, another shows a second time zone, and the third simply bares a Harry Winston Star. I spent a good 10 minutes just playing with the thing, watching the arms move vinyl-esque discs back and forth. It’s far easier to use than it is to comprehend.

Antoine Preziuso Tourbillon of Tourbillons
Antoine Preziuso Tourbillon of Tourbillons

There were still a couple of pieces at the show that might give Harry Winston’s Opus a run for its money. Antoine Preziuso’s Tourbillon of Tourbillons for one, over in the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève winner’s enclosure; Montblanc’s Tourbillon Cylindriques Geospheres Vasco da Gama was another, having being brought back in the nick of time from Hong Kong watch fair Watches and Wonders. It is a breathtaking feat of engineering.

Montblanc 1858 Chrono Tachymeter
Montblanc 1858 Chrono Tachymeter

Montblanc had some other lovely, albeit simpler pieces at Salon QP, including the new 1858 collection, which pays homage to the Villeret manufacture that was previously home to Minerva. While it may be part of Montblanc now, Minerva was once a pioneer in the development of the modern chronograph.

The chronograph was, incidentally, the subject of this year’s showcase from the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie dubbed ‘inside the second’, and came with a Minerva in tow. The showcase also included Omega’s spacefaring timepieces, Zenith’s still unsurpassed El Primero and an original ink timer for horse racing – one of the earliest second timers created by Nicholas Rieussec.

Zenith had more to celebrate than most in this year’s Salon QP; it’s not often any brand reaches the 150-year milestone. To mark the occasion, Zenith has released the Academy George Favre-Jacot. Named after the maison’s founder, the watch is like a toned-down version of the Christophe Colomb Hurricane, taking away the gravity control (and a huge chunk of the price tag) but keeping the stunning Academy aesthetic. There are worse ways to celebrate…

One of the darkest of horses this year was representatives of Saxon watchmaking NOMOS Glashütte. The German watchmaker had a phenomenal show with the release of its Neomatik collection (Read PORT’s coverage of the Neomtaik collection here), complete with an in-house ultra-thin movement. The brand may not have had a haute horlogerie showstopper, but the crowds at the second-floor stand showed they didn’t need one.

Bell & Ross BRX1 Carbon Forgé
Bell & Ross BRX1 Carbon Forgé

While one of the quieter brands this year, Bell & Ross had a particularly impressive showing, veering away from its simpler cockpit-inspired pieces towards tourbillons and gold, though still firmly rooted in aviation. The BR-X1 pieces – particularly the titanium – are stunning, though the BR 01 Skull Bronze is impossible to miss. The steampunk timepiece follows on the heels of a number of bronze watches from IWC and Zenith to name just two, but none are quite as ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ as this.

As ever, Salon QP offered no end of watches, both the simple and refined – from NOMOS Glashütte to the highly complicated, and to those bordering on the absurd. As SIHH looms in the distance, and with all the promise Richemont has to offer, QP has provided more than enough food for thought in the meantime.

Salon QP: Neomatik by NOMOS Glashütte

Sam Kessler discovers the Neomatik collection at Salon QP, a simple yet functional offering from German wathmacker NOMOS Glashütte

As someone with, shall we say, more delicate wrists, the watch industry’s penchant for gargantuan timepieces is one I’m not all inclined to get on board with. Granted in the past couple of years there’s been a slight step back, but it’s good to see one watchmaker that never took the leap in the first place.

NOMOS Glashütte’s slim, slight and decidedly small watches are a refreshingly toned-down affair, simple in both design and form. The watches aren’t so small they can instantly be written off as a ladies watches mind you; the Neomatik collection, presented at Salon QP 2015 is decidedly unisex – or at least, the black and white versions are. The 10 new timepieces – a big launch by anyone’s standards – certainly made an impact, as did the NOMOS stand, which took up a sizeable end of one of the second hall floors. It’s easy to see what made the brand such a draw at at London’s biggest annual horology showcase.

NOMOS Tangente Neomatik champagner
NOMOS Tangente Neomatik champagner

The Neomatik collection marks a change from the norm for the German watchmaker and all five variations have their own distinct personalities. The Tangente, Ludwig and Orion – three NOMOS classics – have received sharp updates to their 25-year-old dial designs, including splashes of neon orange being added to their sub-dials. The differences between models are far more striking than you’d expect, even the crown varies from watch to watch.

Metro Neomatik is a pared-back take on an original design by Mark Braun from 2014, and has lost its 6 o’clock date window but gained a larger sub-dial. The most notable addition to the NOMOS family by far is the Minimatik, a brand new timepiece created for the Neomatik range by industrial designer Simon Husslein.

Watches in the NOMOS Neomatik collection contain a DUW 3001 automatic movement, which is built in-house
Watches in the NOMOS Neomatik collection contain a DUW 3001 automatic movement, which is built in-house

NOMOS’s emphasis on balancing simplicity and function with standout design is no mean feat and, while the basic functions of each timepiece are exactly the same, each feels unique. What better way to showcase a movement that the brand is rightly proud of?

The in-house automatic calibre DUW 3001 is the watchmaker’s 10th and, to date, thinnest and most innovative. Small, lightweight and incredibly accurate, the movement has been in development for a long time – exactly 1.5 million minutes apparently. Its 3.2mm high calibre is enough to give some of the Swiss giants a run for their money. Incorporating the NOMOS Swing System escapement and a lot of very technical, energy efficient touches, it may not have superfluous complications but it does what it needs to. And that can be said for the watches as a whole.

Simple, clean, yet with a few inventive touches to keep them from being two dimensional, NOMOS Glashutte’s Neomatik collection is a refreshing take on Saxon watchmaking.

Mark Wilkinson: The printmaker and the fox

PORT travels to Lincolnshire to meet printmaker Mark Wilkinson to discuss the timeless appeal of wood engraving and how he created a Gothic-inspired logo for new watch brand Sekford

mark wilkinson 1000 pixels

Mark Wilkinson’s work is limited edition by necessity. As a Lincolnshire-based printmaker specialising in linocuts, his entire creation process – from wood-carving to ink-print – is done by hand. Once the print run is complete, he scores his lino block, ensuring no further images can be produced.

Wilkinson’s work has roots in many places – from Japanese woodblock prints to the art scene of 1930s Europe. After a career with the RAF, Wilkinson discovered printmaking when he unearthed an old book and went on to find his own company, Inkshed Press. As part of a recent collaboration with new English watch brand, Sekford, Wilkinson created a Gothic-inspired fox, which has since become the brand’s logo and is engraved on the back of its debut watch series, the Type 1A.

We caught up with Wilkinson to chat about his craft, the printmakers he values, and the inspiration he draws from the skies of northern England.

What brought you to printmaking?

I was looking for a new direction to take in life having just left the Royal Air Force and a ‘thoughtful’ present for my wife’s birthday. I was on the verge of applying for a job collecting trolleys in a supermarket car park (and buying a bunch of petrol station flowers), when I rediscovered an old book I had of Eric Gill’s engravings. The pure, clean and deceptively simple lines inspired me to go out right away and buy a woodblock, a cutting tool, an ink roller and a tube of ink. The result was a dreadful woodcut of a letter L and a enduring love of printmaking.

Why do you think wood engraving endures in popularity?

For the same reasons that first drew me to it; its timelessness and the deceptive simplicity of line and form it allows. To my eye, it’s clean, pure, deeply satisfying and, when done right, completely beautiful.

What inspires your work?

The British and Irish wood engravers of the 1930s are at the core of everything that inspires me. Printmakers such as Eric Ravilious, Eric Gill and Edward Bawden are justifiably well known today, but others, such as Robert Gibbings, Leonard Beaumont, John Farleigh and Reynolds Stone, are, I think, deserving of much more recognition.

For the rest, my influences are eclectic and range from medieval woodcuts and 18th-century engravings to Japanese woodblock prints.

What brought you to Lincolnshire?

It was fortunate circumstances that brought me to Lincolnshire. I originally bought my house here as a result of being stationed whilst in the RAF, but I’ve kept it because of the big skies, wide open spaces, relaxed pace of life and beautiful mellow limestone villages.

sekford fox design

How did designing the Sekford fox differ from your other recent projects?

The Sekford logo was the first truly collaborative project I’ve undertaken.
With the Sekford fox, what I was trying to create was central to the company’s identity, and I felt the responsibility keenly. Thankfully the brand’s founder, Kuchar Swara (also a co-founder of PORT), had a very clear idea of what he wanted and, even more thankfully, we saw eye to eye on most things.

His input helped lead the project in directions it might not necessarily have gone otherwise, but with rewards that I hope are self-evident in the finished logo.

What’s next for Inkshed Press?

I’ve just completed a commission for a range of Christmas cards that will be shortly be hitting the streets and I’ve been invited to exhibit at the prestigious annual Fry Art Gallery Exhibition and Sale in Saffron Walden, which I’m hugely excited about.

Beyond that, Christmas is always a very busy time of year, with commissions already backing up, but in the New Year I hope, for what seems like the first time in an age, to be able to get on with some new original work of my own…

Photography Tobias Harvey

Sekford watches launched in autumn 2015. Prices start at £695

Bauhaus movements: Nomos Lambda 39

Judith Borowski, head of design and branding at NOMOS Glashütte’s in-house agency, discusses the German watchmaker’s newest timepiece: the Lambda 39

NOMOS Lambda 39
NOMOS Lambda 39

Despite being in production for a modest 25 years, NOMOS Glashütte has established itself as a mainstay among German watch brands. Inspired by Bauhaus design and functionality, models such as the Tangente are already considered classics.

The latest addition to its collection is a reinterpretation of the Lambda watch, first launched to great acclaim in 2013. The new Lambda 39 maintains the sophistication of the original but is more compact in form, with a slender 39mm gold case. We caught up with the design team at NOMOS to discuss the inner workings of the Lambda 39, the values behind the NOMOS collection and the future of analogue timepieces.

The Lambda has been hugely successful – what was the motivation behind releasing a smaller model?

Introducing smaller versions of our successful Lambda model gives our designers the opportunity to reinterpret this design with new proportions and in new colors. These new watches extend the appeal of the watch model to new customers who may have found 42mm a touch too large – since every wrist is different – or those who wanted to see Lambda with a ruthenium-coloured dial.

How do you go about scaling down the previous version? Did you have to start from scratch?

Creating a smaller version of an established watch model is both easier than starting from scratch and, in a way, more difficult. On the one hand, you have the opportunity to work with design decisions that have already been made. On the other hand, scaling down a design creates new challenges as it changes the overall proportions, which can in turn change the character of the design and the watch. In Lambda’s case, however, we were able to maintain the overall elegance of the original version in this new 39mm size.

How have you updated the inner workings of the watch?

The manually wound DUW 1001 movement, which is handcrafted in the dedicated NOMOS Atelier, is still at the heart of our Lambda model. We are so proud of it that we saw no need to change it for these new watches.

The movement boasts a power reserve of 84 hours and many of the features that characterise fine mechanical watchmaking, including screwed gold chatons, a twin mainspring barrel, swan neck fine adjustment, fine sunbeam polishing, and a hand-engraved balance cock that reads ‘Mit Liebe in Glashütte gefertigt‘ (‘lovingly produced in Glashütte’).

How do you see the new Lambda models fitting in with the rest of the NOMOS collection?

We envision these new timepieces will both complement and enhance the existing NOMOS range, by offering more choice to our customers. Our Lambda model now comes in eight slightly different versions — each with its own character, and strikingly beautiful in its own way.

The NOMOS Lambda 39 is made with a DUW 1001 caliber with manual winding and power reserve indicator, which is produced in-house
The NOMOS Lambda 39 is made with a DUW 1001 caliber with manual winding and power reserve indicator, which is produced in-house

What key characteristics define a NOMOS timepiece?

NOMOS timepieces are crafted in the world-famous town of Glashütte, the birthplace of fine mechanical watchmaking in Germany. All of them feature movements manufactured in-house and are characterised by a unique combination of German engineering and German product design.

As a member of the Deutscher Werkbund, a predecessor of the Bauhaus movement, NOMOS Glashütte aims to make beautiful and functional products designed with the most suitable production techniques. Our watches are renowned for their restrained dials, slender hands, and narrow bezels, with precision being a defining feature of the movement contained within.

How do you see the place of the analogue watch changing as smartwatches become increasingly popular?

While we can only speak for ourselves and not for the watchmaking world as a whole, we believe that mechanical watches simply offer something different to smartwatches. Our products draw from a long history of craftsmanship, giving customers an elegant timepiece that underlines their aesthetic and values. For this reason, we certainly do not see smartwatches as a threat to traditional watches.

In fact, the increasing interest in smartwatches among the younger generation means that they are thinking more and more about what they are wearing on their wrists – something that we are, of course, delighted about! After a while, smartwatch wearers will realise that their wristwear keeps becoming obsolete after a few years. With a mechanical watch, by contrast, they have a fine timepiece for life that is always repairable.

The Lambda 39 is available in 18k rose gold, with gold-plated or blue steel hands, and 18k rose gold with ‘black velvet’ dial and gold-plated hands

Bell & Ross lands in London

Bell & Ross co-founder Carlos A. Rosillo talks to Port as the luxury French watch brand opens its members’ club-inspired boutique in Mayfair

Carlos Rosillo
Carlos A. Rosillo, co-founder of Bell & Ross

Twenty three years after drafting plans for the luxury watch company Bell & Ross, its co-founders Carlos A. Rosillo and Bruno Belamich have opened their first London boutique in Mayfair. It’s a space that evokes a club-like atmosphere, combining the brand’s aviation industry roots and a fondness for the English gentleman’s lifestyle.

Businessman Rosillo co-founded the company alongside designer Belamich with the intention of producing watches that were engineered for pilots and divers, but made available to a wider commercial audience. In doing so, they have created created a brand that reflects these demanding professions and derives its aesthetic from functionality. As a Franco-British inspired outfit, Bell & Ross also draws its philosophy from the intertwined histories and militaries of the two nations.

We caught up with Rosillo on the day of the launch to discuss the new boutique, his fascination with British military history and what makes an iconic timepiece.

Bell & Ross boutique
Bell & Ross boutique

Why did you choose Mayfair’s Burlington Arcade as a home for your first London boutique?

When I hit the age of 10 I discovered the concept of an English gentleman, just by being in the Mayfair area. This neighbourhood has always had that very British elegant style; it’s a style that’s long lasting, but also has a sense of modernity to it…It’s tradition with a twist.

The rooms in this arcade look alike and the brands are also similar. When you look at who’s around us – Eres, La Perla, Chanel and Maison Michel – all of them are very Franco-British with an elegance you don’t find everywhere. The stores in this gallery have a soul. It’s a great club to be a part of.

Why have you set up shop now?

The reason we chose the 18th of June for our opening is to celebrate Franco-British relations. First, it is the date of the Battle of Waterloo and, by acknowledging this date, we point out the ups and downs between the two nations. It is also the date of Charles de Gaulle’s appeal to the French people from London, 70 years ago. So we’re seeing a historical battle date, but also the day that began the liberation of the French people and later the world.

The interior of Bell & Ross boutique, ground floor
The interior of Bell & Ross’ boutique, ground floor

How do military ideals inform Bell & Ross’ ethos?

I think that militaries are a big source of inspiration because they show courage and a sense of strategy. The epicentre of Bell & Ross is the confluence between the designer, the engineer and the professional user, many of whom are in the military. Inspiration also comes from the professional users, we speak to them and we are happy to listen to them. We respond according to their requirements and so when they choose us it’s a testimony; their endorsement reflects our capacity to respond.

As a relatively young brand in watch-world terms, why have you chosen to place so much emphasis on history?

A company is like a person. Whether you are 21 or 80 years old it’s very important to know where you come from. We put a lot of emphasis on history so we can understand the values that correspond to our philosophy. Being young is also something that gives you assets. There is a kind of personality and strength that you get when starting something new without heritage. This boutique is a real mix of new and old: when you look at the façade it’s quite traditional, but when you are inside you see that it is something with modernity.

How has the brand evolved over the past 21 years?

We have created and maintained a definitive style. When you look at our products – whether it’s the classic pocket watch or something more modern – there is a style that is easy to recognise at a glance. This is the magic of an iconic watch. This style is important because it helps develop the ‘club spirit’. That is also why it was so important to have a boutique, because a club without a place to join is not a club…

The first-floor lounge at Bell & Ross' Mayfair boutique
The first-floor lounge at Bell & Ross’ Mayfair boutique

Do you think it’s a good time to be a watch collector?

I think so. If you have the eye and you know how to select then yes. The beauty of watches is that there’s a mix of craftsmanship, culture and art, but that means you need to know those precise facets and where the value is going to be concentrated. The houses that are smart will protect the investor. In time, prices must go up if you’re going to call your product an investment.

What do you think are the defining characteristics of a Bell & Ross watch?

They are very readable from the first glance. You know what time it is, even with the highly sophisticated models. We have four key principles: readability, functionality, reliability and precision. We want to have the balance between all of these focuses: between design and engineering, between watch manufacturing and professional users. I’ve heard it said that a good plane is a beautiful plane… I think you can say exactly the same for a watch.

Bell & Ross’ London Boutique is now open at Burlington Arcade, Units 48-49 W1J 0QJ