Impressions from the 'Die Presse Gala' in Vienna
- Part 2 -

by Magnus Bosse

The most thrilling moment was for sure the exhibition of the magnificient watches inside the museums hall. Of course, we have seen many of these in Basel already, but then, you know it - one is really exhausted by all these novelties concentrated within such a small space & time. After a certain time has passed, thoughts may have changed, water cleared and some fog lifted - time to retreat oneself with all these masterpieces. Lucky if you were in Vienna just at this time!
The atmosphere was very casual, and this allowed me to stroll around the showcases, to appreciate the complication and to select the most interesting ones. Please let me present them in an alphabetical order (and excuse the quality of the pictures: lighting was not the best for my poor camera!):

Audermars Piguet:
The rarely seen AP Royal Oak Concept watch! A superb tour de force featuring:
  • Royal Oak Concept case in Alacrite 602 with titanium bezel
  • Manual wind movement with > 70h Power Reserve
  • Unique shock resistance system for the tourbillon cage - shock resistance to multiple g's well beyond the shock tolerance of the human body
  • Dynamographe - mainspring torque indicator
  • Crown function clutching system with mode pusher, mode indicator
  • Linear power reserve indicator calibrated for number of barrel turns, approximately 6 hours of operation per barrel turn
  • Balance with timing screws
  • Titanium movement plates, no pre-existing base ebauche
  • Sapphire crystal top and back
  • Water Resistence rated to 500 meters
  • Fiber-top strap with leather back
  • Limited Edition of 150 pieces

For sure not beautiful for everyone's eyes, but an impressing technical achievement highlightning AP's ability to innovate - a courageous move just like the presentation of the steel Royel Oak back in 1972!


The watch house that never fails to amaze us with breathtakingly simple and elegant designs, showed the white gold Léman GMT Reveil with innovative column wheel operated alarm mechanism operating on a tone spring (top left, just like a minute repeater!), the Le Brassus Equation Marchante (top right, the first Equation Marchante mechanism ever realised in a wristwatch, limited to 50 pieces!), the Villeret Perpetual Calender presented to celebrate 400 years of Geneva's watchmaking guild (middle) and the Villeret Tourbillon with an automatic 8 days movement (down):

Glashütte Original:
The theme was very clear:The new Panomatic Chronograph was the center of interest. The newly developed automatic movement shows the interesting apporach entered into by Glashütte. The movement features not only a column wheel Chronograph of finest execution, it only shows an innovation improving isochronism: the winding mechanism allows for a two-step winding: first step is to ensure rapid winding of the watch up to a certain, optimal winding state, and then the second step files in in order to keep the watch at this winding state by providing a low winding efficiency. The dial is characterised by the dominant center chronograph seconds counter (left).
The second outstanding watch shown in Vienna was a sold-out perpetual calender Tourbillon watch with mother-of-pearl dial. The watch can be taken out of the wrist-watch case and worn as a pocket watch (right).
IWC of course had one masterpiece to show: The new Portugieser Tourbillon based on the new automatic 7 days power reserve movement. The Tourbillon base wheel is adorned with a matte black finish which makes it nearly invisible - the Tourbillon cage seems therefore to hover freely in the recess clearance at 12 o'clock. A stunning optical effect, although the layout of the dial is not my piece of cake. I cannot really tell why, but the cut-out at 12 is a kind of a killer to me.
Again - its clear of what I have to show you - the Gyrotourbillon 1!! The first time in my life I could see this watch in the move - and I felt like sticked to the exhibition case! This micro-mechanical piece of art manages to fascinate even the most hard boiled men. The other features like an Equation Marchante and a Perpetual Calender have true difficulties to compete with the 3-D movement of the Tourbillon cage!

A. Lange & Söhne:
There is as well not much so say about this watch - the A. Lange & Söhne Double Split, the first wristwatch to feature not only a Rattrapante function for the Chronograph seconds hand, but also for the minutes hand.The watch shown here is already equipped with the new, modified dial.
The movement is made of German Silver (what else here?) and contains two column wheels and Lange's new in-house made balance.
Maurice Lacroix:
For me it is not only interesting to see those highly complicated and expensive demonstrations of Haute Horlogerie, but also the more affordable offerings.
Maurice Lacroix is a reputable company specialised in producing watches with interesting finish, attention to the detail and useful complications for a very reasonable price. They offer a great vertical range of manufacture, for example, they make now even the cases in-house.
The Double Retrograde shown here is based on a highly decorated Unitas pocket watch movement and indicates retrograde date, 2nd time zone and power reserve indication.
An amazing and unique piece is Omega's Central Tourbillon. The Tourbillon cage is placed where one normally would expect the axes of the hour and minutes hands. So how could they manage to place the gears and pinions which drive the (central) hands?
The solution: the hands are iced in sapphire disks and driven by gears which are relocated into the case. I once wrote a small review on that piece which you can find here.
The newest version of this watch shows off even more with the skeletonised movements plates.
Porsche Design:
4 mainspring barrels, 2 power reserve displays, digital Chronograph up to 9:59h, more than 800 pieces - and all this based upon a Valjoux 7750, to be sold at 65.000€?? What is going on here?
More than yo may think! The Indicator is, according to Eterna's CEO Ernst F. Seyr (Eterna manufactures the PD watches) the most complicated Chronograph in the world. One can truely believe that:
In order to provide the necessary torque for the instant switching of the 3 digits of the minute counter, each counter had to be provided with its own mainspring barrel - therefore, three additional barrels had to be fitted to the movement. So, Porsche Design was confronted with the situation that the watch movement may have reached the end of its power reserve, while the chronograph is still running. How to alert the user of this situation? The solution was a double power reserve indication, which shows the power reserve of the Valjoux base movement as well as of the barrel driving the minute disk, as these are the mostly used barrels. Generally, the more green is visible, the more power reserve both barrels have. A complicated mechanical gearbox ensures that only the power reserve of the weakest barrel of the both is indicated! Just imagine: If the main movement power reserve is low, the indication shows this power reserve, but if the barrel of the chronograph minute disk is low, the power reserve shows that reserve! This is possible through the use of two rotating disks of the power reserve. What a construction!! I just should add here that the AHCI Master Watchmaker Paul Gerber from Zurich was instrumental in constructing this fabuous movement.
Some people my critizise PD for relying on the Valjoux base -I'd argue that this a wise move: it is very sturdy and reliable and a downright tool movement, exactly the right choice for such a development and for the use in a tool watch!

To celebrate the new Mercedes SLR-McLaren, TAG-Heuer presented an amazing watch, the TAG-SLR-McLaren that is said to reflect design principles of the legendary car. It is driven by a Zenith El Primero calibre, so the engine is quite adequate (and also very fast: 36.000bph!). The chronograph is operated by the two push-button on top of the watch bezel. Sadly, one has to fullfil two prerequisites to be eligible to own this watch: enough money - and a Mercedes SLR as well! Pretty clear what is the more challenging hurdle!
After the presentation of the watches came - the nomination of the winners! Next part...!

...Part 3