SINGAPORE – This is a regular series featuring the latest news in watches and all things horological.
Norqain releases Wild One collection with watch legend Jean-Claude Biver
There was much excitement when news broke earlier this year that Jean-Claude Biver – a watch industry legend known for revitalising brands including Blancpain, Omega and Hublot – was throwing his weight behind Norqain, an independent, family-owned Swiss watch company set up in 2018.
Apparently, for more than two years now, Biver – now an adviser to the Norqain Board – has been working with the brand’s creative and engineering teams to come up with a line of sturdy mechanical timepieces.
The collection, called Wild One, is now out. It comprises four models including one limited-edition piece designed with wildlife ambassador Dean Schneider.
The Wild One’s unique selling proposition is Norteq – a proprietary material that is six times lighter than steel, 3.5 times lighter than titanium and available in different colours.
The new timepiece has a Norteq protective case with separate top and bottom parts, connected and secured with custom-made screws. Sandwiched between these parts is a rubber shock absorber surrounding a titanium container for the watch’s heart – the robust NN20/1 Manufacture Calibre, visible through the transparent caseback.
Thanks to its unique construction, the watch has already surpassed industry standards for shock absorption, successfully passing tests conducted at 5,000G.
Norqain worked with several established Swiss watch-making names on this collection, including Montremo SA for the three-level laser-cut dial, with a pattern reproducing the brand’s mountain-inspired double N logo.
There are two regular models ($8,080) – with case, dial, rubber shock absorber or strap in blue or black. A third limited-edition model ($8,780) – of which there are 200 pieces – has, among other features, a burgundy case, grey rubber strap and red gold indexes and hands.
The final model is also limited edition ($8,580, 500 pieces). Designed with Schneider – founder of wildlife sanctuary Hakuna Mipaka in South Africa – it has a black case and a black dial with a lion fur pattern and the wildlife reserve’s spear-and-shield logo.
World’s first MB&F Lab opens at Raffles Hotel
The world’s first MB&F Lab has opened at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore.
A new retail experience by the independent watchmaker and The Hour Glass, the gallery-like space will highlight the brand’s avant-garde horological creations as well as kinetic artworks by international artists.
The world’s first horological concept laboratory, MB&F has – since its founding in 2005 by Maxmilian Busser, who has a master’s in Micro-Technology Engineering – come up with 20 mind-bending and eye-popping calibres which form the base of their equally extraordinary watches and time-keeping machines.
Located on the ground floor of the Raffles Hotel Arcade, the sleek 53 sq m boutique boasts an eye-catching visual marker – a giant blue reflective lens which riffs on the geometric rules of reflection.
Horological attractions inside include the Legacy Machine Split Escapement EVO, the two-faced Robot clock Balthazar, the ORB clock created with high-end Swiss clock-making label L’Epee 1839, and the MusicMachine 1 Reloaded with Reuge, an acclaimed manufacturer of music automatons.
Avant-garde art pieces to ogle include the KB2 Lebru x Alain Silberstein clock and Franck Buchwald’s Nixie Machine III.
Panerai adds a moonphase to the Luminor Due
For the first time, Italian watch brand Panerai has added a complication – a moon phase – to its Luminor Due collection which, since its debut in 2016, has released time-only models.
Targeted at women, the Luminor Due Luna collection comprises four 38mm models and features the moonphase – a rotating disc with a 24-karat gold moon set against a star-filled and blue night sky – at 3 o’clock.
There are two steel models, with a sun-burst brushed dial. One is fitted with a steel bracelet – with links modelled on the Luminor crown-lock bridge – while the other comes with a pink alligator strap.
While also fashioned from steel, the third model has an arresting blue sandwich dial and comes with a matching blue alligator strap.
The Luminor Due Luna Madreperla model, meanwhile, has a mother-of-pearl dial and case made from Panerai Goldtech – an alloy containing platinum and copper – which draws attention with its deep, red tone.
The collection is fitted with the calibre P900/MP automatic movement, which has a three day powerreserve and is water resistant to 300m.
Prices: $13,100 to $29,200
SHH, a new haven for niche, independent watch brands
For nearly 15 years, Sincere Haute Horlogerie – which opened in 2005 at Hilton Hotel – was a haunt for lovers of highly complex mechanical pieces by niche, independent names.
It closed in 2019, but has resurfaced – sleeker and more sophisticated – at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. As part of the rebranding, its name has also been contracted to a simple SHH.
Its revival is part of a new retail strategy after Sincere was acquired by Cortina early last year for $84.7 million.
The snazzy concept store, bathed in warm copper earth tones set against mirrored surfaces, is designed by interior designer Peter Tay.
Like its earlier incarnation, the new boutique – which boasts a VIP area with its own bar – will stock brands including Angelus, Armin Strom, Arnold and Son, H. Moser & Cie., HYT, Lang & Heyne, Moritz Grossmann, and Parmigiani Fleurier.
Also making their debut are two new labels – Czapek & Cie and Louis Moinet.
Commemorating the opening are three exclusive SHH Edition watches – the Laurent Ferrier Classic Origin ($55,300, limited to 10 pieces), the Lang & Heyne Georg ($71,910, 12 pieces) and the Greubel Forsey Double Balancier Convexe ($505,580, six pieces).
The trio are colourfully striking. The Classic Origin has a stunning opaline green dial; the Lang & Heyne Georg boasts a unique ceramic dial set against a royal blue givree-finished silvered baseplate; while the Double Balancier Convexe comes with livery in an eye-catching purple.
A watch for travellers: the Bell & Ross BR 05 GMT White
The BR 05, which Bell & Ross released in 2019, is a nifty GMT watch for travellers
The French watch company has just dropped a snazzier version, the BR 05 GMT White – which boasts an opaline white dial (instead of black and blue in previous models) and a dual time zone indication.
Fashioned from steel, the 41mm model is striking for its polished and satin-brushed surfaces. Practicality is obviously a priority – with the hour and minute hands, numerals and indexes coated with photo-luminescent Super-LumiNova. The central GMT hand stands out with its bright red triangular tip.
Fitted with the self-winding BR-CAL.325 automatic movement visible through the transparent caseback, the GMT White has a 42-hour power reserve and water resistant to 100m.
It comes with either full steel bracelet or a black rubber strap with vertical grooves.
Price: $6,900 to $7,700
Anya Taylor-Joy is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new ambassador
Actress Anya Taylor-Joy, who vaulted to superstardom as a champion chess player in the Netflix drama The Queen’s Gambit (2020), has just been appointed Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new ambassador.
Born in Miami to British-Argentine parents, the 26-year-old cut her acting teeth with several small roles on television before making her film debut with a breakout performance in folk horror drama The Witch (2015). She also starred in edgy films including horror hit Split (2016) and black comedy Thoroughbreds (2017). Recognised as a rising new talent, she was awarded the Trophee Chopard at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017.
Her layered performance in The Queen’s Gambit sealed her A-list status, and bagged her several awards in 2021, including a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild award and a Critics’ Choice award.
She is still on a hot streak and will next be seen in David O. Russell’s sprawling drama Amsterdam with Christian Bale and Margot Robbie, as well as Mark Mylod’s comedy-horror The Menu with Ralph Fiennes and Nicholas Hoult.
The actress is now filming the Mad Max prequel Furiosa, playing the titular character, a renegade warrior. The film also stars Chris Hemsworth and Tom Burke.