This Week (in Watches) Today, 24 May 2022: 7 things you should know

This week, we have had OAK (one of a kind) International Exhibition in London, but since Dave has been over there checking things out in person, let us look at some other things, and there are many other things ongoing in the world of watches. Watches of Switzerland posted stellar financial results again, TAG Heuer attempts to prove its avant-garde nature, Origyn finds another watch client, Montblanc accompanies a record setter as well as the latest from Kurono Tokyo, Blancpain and H Moser & Cie. These are the top 7 things in the world of watches; let’s get into it.

Watches of Switzerland’s sales jump 40%

Photo Credit: WatchPro

Watches of Switzerland has continued its wonderful run amidst this pandemic, with a 40% spike in sales to  £1.23 billion for its financial year ended 1 May 2022. Expected profits (pending audit) have also shot up approximately 52% – 56% closing at a range of £160 to £164 million. Impressively, the group has also reduced its debt by 68% despite its expansion in USA. Brian Duffy, the group’s CEO, attributes much of the growth to come on the back of exponentially increasing demand for the three “Super High Demand” brands Rolex, Patek Philippe & Audemars Piguet. This has led to a spill over demand for the rest of the luxury watch industry with other brands “enjoying exceptionally strong demand and sales”. The CEO also has slightly more reserved revenue growth projections for the coming financial year, with an expected increase ranging between 17 – 21%. While that would not be as ground breaking as the recently concluded financial year, it would still mark a solid year for the group particularly as the spike in demand resulting from the lack of global travel during the pandemic dwindles as the world opens up, and as brands continue to face supply issues.

 TAG Heuer embraces cryptocurrency in USA

Photo Credit: WatchPro

TAG Heuer is attempting to back is avant-garde label by being one of the first luxury watch brands to accept cryptocurrency as payment, albeit only on its USA website. It is certainly an interesting move given how volatile cryptocurrency is, and has been over the past few years. Of course, given that they are at an all-time low currently, it could be a potential investment strategy by the brand. Whether this proves to be a reflection of the brand being an “avant-garde watchmaker with an innovative spirit” or a unnecessarily risky gamble remains to be seen. For those interested as of the time of writing, the brand is accepting 12 cryptocurrencies which includes Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dogecoin, and Ethereum among others.

Topwatch adopts Orygin’s NFT authentication

Photo Credit: WatchPro

Orygin has signed on another secondary watch market deal, this time with Topwatch, a South African preowned watch specialist. The agreement will see the watch’s certificates issues together with NFTs developed by Origyn. This announcement comes hot on the heels of WatchBox’s announcement of a partnership with Origyn at the start of the month. Topwatch’s founder Johan Dreyer explained that this move was meant to help the company and its customers combat the ever present issue of counterfeit goods. One has to wonder though, if the NFT certificate can be independently traded from the actual watch, how it would help prove the watch’s provenance. I’m sure there is an answer out there so do help me out.

Nimsdai Purja setting mountaineering records with the Montblanc Zero Oxygen  

Photo Credit: ATimelyPerspective

The Rolex Explorer 1 will always be associated (controversially) with the first conquering of Mt. Everest, but it is the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Chronograph “0 Oxygen” that’s setting mountaineering records currently, or at least is being worn on record setting expeditions. As the name suggests, the watch is the first watch to be built in zero oxygen settings and is has no oxygen internally at all. This is supposed to prevent fogging during climbing expeditions when the altitude increases rapidly. Nimsdai Purja certainly trusts  this newly released watch to do exactly that, since it was his watch of choice on his record setting expedition in which he scaled Mt. Everest, Lhotse and Kanchenjunga in just just 8 days, 23 hours and 10 minutes. Aptly, he accomplished his feat with no supplemental oxygen. Now, this watch is large, with a 44mm case, and limited to just 290 pieces, which makes it something that I probably will never own or be able to pull off, but there is something extremely romantic about watches built for adventure, and then being exactly for the very purpose it was built.

Kurono Tokyo 2022 Anniversary Grand Mori ‘’ (read. Sen)

Scottish Watches and TOCKR Watches

Since its launch in June 2019, Kurono Tokyo has really taken off among watch circles, with each release selling out almost immediately upon its launch. The latest Grand Mori ‘森’ (meaning woods) sits in the brand’s Grand collection which comprise of time only watches.  This watch was released to commemorate the brand’s 3rd anniversary and it is a real beauty. Cased in the brand’s go to simple and elegant 37mm x 43.5mm x 11mm case, it is the watch’s dial that truly stands out.

Kuron Tokyo watches typically takes inspiration from nature and this latest release draws that from the canopies of the forest with streams of sunrays flowing through. To bring this inspiration to life, some of the top master dial makers in Kyoto were engaged to craft each Urushi (a Japanese lacquer a long historic tradtion) applied dial by hand. The result is a stunning metallic green dial with an intricate pattern that has tons of depth. Interestingly, according to the brand, dials painted with Urushi will react with UV light over time to change its colour. That encourages the use of these watches such that they become extremely personal to you.

Priced at JPY358,000 and limited by a 12-minute window which opens on 27 May 2022 11.00pm JST, this watch offers tremendous value to all who are interested. Check out the full article here.

Blancpain Air Command 36.2mm Flyback Chronograph

In the past couple of years, we’ve seen brands introduce a greater number of smaller watches (as they all should be in my personal unbiased opinion), and that trend continues this week with Blancpain’s latest Air Command. The Air Command is a pilot’s dual register chronograph large Arabic numerals on its dial, surrounded by a minute track and tachymeter. It also features a relatively slim count-up bezel. While the collection previously only comprised of a 42.5mm variant, Blancpain has just added two new 36.5mm iterations and I for one and salivating to try them on. What is respectable is that the brand maintained the flyback chronograph complication in the column wheel based F188B in-house calibre. While it is a shame that the 5Hz from the 42.5mm has been dropped to only 3Hz and the water resistance is a paltry 30m, this is a still an impressive overall package. Coming in a either titanium (€17,500) or rose gold (€28,920) these watches are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but where else could you get a flyback chronograph is a smaller more wearable package?

H Moser & Cie Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon

Finally, we H Moser & Cie’s latest and greatest. The brand is at it again, with a new Endeavour housing both a minute repeater and a tourbillon complication. Moser has made its name in the past decade or so on the back of wonderfully executed fumé dials but the brand has never rested on its laurels with simple dial changes. This is no different. While I normally prefer smaller cases on a dressy watch, the collection’s 40mm case size is small when you consider that it houses the most complex complication and a tourbillon on top. The dial as usual is an absolute standout. It retains the brand’s renown textured Grand Feu enamel with a rich aqua blue fumé colouring, but seamlessly includes both the minute repeater’s striker (9 – 11 o’clock) and the tourbillon (6 o’clock) in moat (complete with polished chamfers) outlining the dial. The result is a remarkably simple dial featuring brilliant haute horology complications. The elegance of the dial carries on into the case as well, with a sloping broad polished bezel, tapered lugs and a mid-case that has a skeletonised look which increases the watch’s visual appeal. The watch is powered by the brand’s in-house HMC 904 caliber which is a hand wound flying tourbillon minute repeater with an impressive 90-hour power reserve even if it beats at 3Hz. The beauty of the skeleton bridges, anglage and Côtes de Geneve brushing of this hand finished movement can be enjoyed via the watch’s display case back. Overall, this is another stunning release from the brand. The watch comes in either titanium or rose gold, is priced at US$365,000 & is limited to 20 pieces of each material.

So that is it for this week. As always, get in on all the action on the Scottish Watches website, and of course, the podcast on your podcaster of choice. Till next time, take care everyone.