Time Pieces Part 6

Time Pieces 6

Choices, Choices – settling on the right watch

 

a.  Imagine – new pieces to die for
b.  Haute-couture – watches with attitude
c.  Temptation – build your own watch

 

6.a  Imagine – extreme innovation

The creativity of Moritz Grossmann’s watchmakers is – I think – second to none.

I haven’t done the maths to prove this definitively, but I guess they release the highest number of new pieces per head of any watchmaker in the world.  

Some of the new releases are fashion statements and designed to stand out on wrist, on a page or in a window:

TEFNUT Pure – attention getter in yellow

And some of the pieces are more about haute horology.

HAMATIC prototype movement from Basel 2018

About fifty people work at the manufactory in Glashütte.  In the two full years that I have been involved with them, here’s what has been released (excluding individual commissions and marketing one-offs)

Piece What’s new Variants
2018    
BENU 37 / ATUM 37 New movement, 37mm case, new style font 4
BACKPAGE New movement:  case back seen through dial 2
BENU Power Reserve Platinum case, blue dial 1
BENU Enamel Enamel dial with steel case 2
BENU Anniversary Enamel dials in purple/blue and black 2
ATUM Pure H New dial cut out honouring handmakers 8
ATUM Date Champagne dial 1
Lost in Space Smallest movement in biggest case 1
TEFNUT Pure Fashion dials in yellow and purple 2
1001 Nights New mother of pearl marquetry dial 4
ATUM Pure Skull Skull watch in steel and DLC 2
Sands of Time Seddiqi limitation, sand encased dial 1
Christie’s collection 24 unique pieces 24
 

2019

   
Hamatic New movement – pendulum mass automatic 2
GMT New movement – jumping GMT indicator 3
Cornerstone New movement – rectangular case 5
BENU 37 Black dial variant 1
Moon in Space DLC steel black variant of Lost in Space 1
BENU Power Reserve Vintage look 2
Butterfly Hand painted dial 4
Christies Hong Kong Hand painted dials 12

That makes

1 new movement for every 20 people each year

1 new watch type for every 5 people each year

1 new watch variant for every single person each year.

To put that in context, if these companies were as creative per head as Moritz Grossmann:

  • Patek Philippe would release 100 new movements per year
  • IWC would release 300 new watch types per year
  • Rolex would release 6,000 new watch variants every year

On the same employee ratio basis, Hublot would have gained 30 RedDot design awards, and Breguet would have received 40 GPHG shortlist nominations in the last two years.  So, on one measure at least, Moritz Grossmann’s innovation is being recognised (though I still think GPHG were smoking something when they didn’t nominate the HAMATIC).

Two points are obvious to me from this short analysis:

  1. All of these companies produce what any normal person would call an expensive watch. When you buy a Moritz Grossmann watch, at least you know you’re supporting for watchmakers, not marketing budgets.
  2. The projected numbers for the big boys on this projection are clearly crazy high. It makes me think that MG might have overdone it in the last couple of years.

So, if you’re confused about what to buy from us, accept our apologies:  we know you have a lot of choice. 

Here is some of it:  enjoy.

BENU Anniversary – black and blue never felt so good

BENU Power Reserve – blue and platinum, classic combo

BENU Power Reserve – Vintage logo but very today

Champagne Date – pops a cork

BENU 37 caseback side – small, but perfectly formed

BENU 37 comes alive  

BENU 37 style – small but punchy

Backpage – RedDot award winner

Cornerstone – beautifully built rectangular movement

Cornerstone choices

HAMATIC’s unique caseback – no other like it today – though Breguet himself would get the principle.  Easy to distinguish from the prototype by the big springs on the inside of the pendulum mass.

GMT – after a launch party!

6.b  Haute-couture – watches with attitude

MG have recently re-named / re-defined the range to make it simpler to understand.

The ATUM name was seen as confusing by some of our customers , so here’s what we’ve done:

  • Lost the ATUM name and renamed ATUM pieces as BENU…..
  • Sub-divided the BENU range into three categories
    1. Heritage (e.g BENU Power Reserve)
    2. Contemporary (e.g. GMT)
    3. Special edition (e.g. Moon in Space)
  • Sub -divided the TEFNUT range in two
    1. Classic (e.g. TEFNUT 36)
    2. Jewellery (e.g. Sleeping Beauty)

1&2, and 4&5 are easy enough for everybody to understand.

BENU Heritage understated, clear, numerals. 

BENU Contemporary brushed dials, crisp indices.

 

TEFNUT Classic slim and simple

TEFNUT Jewellery: wow – and still fine horology!

Some collectors beat us up from time to time over some of the special editions (one piece especially but, forgive me, I won’t pick that scab).

Watches in the special edition category divide opinion because they’re not classic, Glashütte styling.  Here’s what does bind them to all the other pieces that we make though:

  • Movements strive for simple mechanical perfection – Grossmann’s did
  • 19th century features still live in the movement; presented with 21st century style
  • Components are hand-made, in house, with impeccable finishing

Because we are hand made, we are – and always will be – ultra-low volume.  Current production is less than 300 pieces per year.  Full capacity will be around 1,000; so Moritz Grossmann watches will forever be exclusive.

ATUM L – all gone. 

A case in point.  This limitation – the ATUM L (for long hole) fitted the special edition mould.  It split the audience.  Some people thought it was just not MG.  Others loved its originality and craftsmanship:  really unusual in-house dial precision cut to show the movement behind: sharp indices in blue, orange, green or white:  bright rhodium-steel glow.  Never to be confused with the core range, but a great conversation piece and now worn by a few lucky owners.

Once again, because we’re hand made / independent we can indulge in flights of fancy, either for individual pieces (see “Splash” and ‘Temptation”), or for ranges that our partners commission from time to time.  Think of this as ‘haute couture’ – the kind of pieces that are made with press coverage in mind to sit alongside off high end, classic fashion.

Haute couture – Sands of Time.  Made for Seddiqi and Sons.  Sold out immediately

The truth is that our haute couture pieces are often very commercial as well.  For this reason, I celebrate them.  Our watchmakers need to earn a living after all. And I also respect the guts that we have to put creative design ideas out there.  I don’t like them all.  One I hated.  But I’m glad we have enough spirit to try some strange stuff out occasionally.

ATUM Skull – seen here in Gothic DLC

MG’s Skull watch was originally conceived as a piece for NYC.  It wasn’t something that went on my wrist well.  But you should see it on @atom_moore.  Atom is an artist and photographer.  He is one of the breed that loves horology, but also loves individuality.  I’m delighted that he wears one of our watches for two reasons:  it pleases him; and he shows it to other horologists who respect his work and his opinion – and that is good for our brand profile.  I say again:  watchmakers have to earn a living.

Extreme Dubai.  Again for Seddiqi, again sold out immediately.  And one of the pieces that started to grow InstaGram traffic on MG’s corporate account.

Our most successful special edition piece was probably the Extreme Dubai.  Our friends at Seddiqi & Sons said they had a good market in Dubai for distressed watches – ones that looked like they had been buried in a sand dune for a decade or two – and could we possibly design a brand new watch that looked distressed.

We replied that if we were going to do that, it would be really distressed.  No dial at all; the appearance of cracked crystal; corroded 2/3 plate and pitted case, dirty looking camel strap.  But people loved it.  The entire limitation sold before launch and social media lapped it up.  “Fantastic Punk Art” was my favourite comment.

Like free speech, not all of haute couture hits the mark for everyone.  But I for one am happy to defend it.

I may even decide that I need Moon in Space.  Still thinking that one through.

Moon in Space – pretty sure it needs a different shirt!  Maybe a different arm?

ATUM Mesh.  Green with envy for people who got one of these.  Gone now. 

6.c  Temptation – build your own watch

All of our pieces are hand-made.  That makes it possible for us to customise pieces for individual clients.

Everything is possible – at a price.

At the top end, you could have us do a unique movement just for you.  You really could.  Price tag somewhere in seven figures probably.

Or you could have some simple engraving done on the case – we might do that for you as a present.

And if you’re buying a BENU Tourbillon, you’ll certainly want the brush to made from the hair of a loved one.  This is definitely our treat.

In between these are a host of design decisions that you can get involved with if you wish to create a piece which is special to you.

Case material – How about titanium? Could be expensive as a one-off, but we’ve done tourbillons this way.

Dial colour – One from the back catalogue?  Or your very own idea?

Dial design – Change the font?  Add annealed indices?  Add an image?  How about enamel?

Finishing details – Anneal the screws to a different colour?  Change the embellishments?

Hand colour or shape – How about brown?

Here are some thoughts to get you going.

You’re welcome to discuss your own design ideas with me.  Get in touch through the contact page on this site.

I’d love to help you create your own piece of horology heaven.

Unique Index commissioned by @salemkalsuwaidi.  Steel case, salmon dial, with blued indices and matching hands

Alto.  Designed by Rob Armstrong of yacht designers ThirtyC to evoke the high seas.  Dark, scary and chaotic (my words, not his), indices reminiscent of a compass and just enough blue to stitch a sailor’s jacket.

Alto design meeting in Glashütte.  Rob Armstrong, sitting left: Antoine Tschumi – one of our favourite designers, right;  Christine Hutter, centre; Theo Staub, background.

Black enamel – seen here on the limited edition BENU.  Why not on a 37mm BENU?

White enamel – TEFNUT 36 sold on-line by Christies to someone who had never seen a Moritz Grossmann piece in the metal.  He’s very happy!

ATUM Braun.  Brown annealed hands and matching indices.  Tough to do – stunning to wear.

Two Tourbillons again from the Christie’s on-line auction.  If a colour has been used on a piece before, the cost of using that colour on a different dial in another watch is pretty modest.  The titanium case on the orange one, a bit less modest!

Cut out rhodium plated steel dial, made in house.  Any shape is possible.  This one belongs to @horolson – his pic too.  He often changes the original strap but he liked this one!  Happy Xmas. 

Design I’m working on a TEFNUT to take cycling – has to survive sweat and be blue and white to go with my favourite blue and white Cervelo R3.  Rugged blue strap, antique logo to remind how long it takes me to complete an Etape du Tour.  Steel 39mm case, eccentric second hand, blue and white dial.  Thinking I might change the numerals for blued indices, lose the train tracks and have tiny blue points for minute indicators.  We’ll see what that looks like..

Case back side of the cycling TEFNUT.  Blued components instead of the usual house brown-violet.  Plain plate – no stripes – to make it look more pocket watch.  Might lose the engraving just beneath the index adjuster to show it off more clearly, but keep the engraving elsewhere?