As the dust settles after Baselworld 2018, we all have a new selection of wants and needs from our favourite brands. The long awaited release of the steel Rolex GMT Master II 'Pepsi' and the Patek Philippe Nautilus perpetual have drawn a lot of attention, however, we thought we would do a round-up of our favourite independents from the show. Rather than give our own impressions, we asked four collectors, SJX, Gary G, Chris Beccan and Michael Hickcox to give us their take.
First up is SJX of SJXWatches.com; an editorial platform focussing on independent watchmaking. SJX's collection ranges from FP Journe Tourbillons to A. Lange & Söhne and Patek Philippe, here are his thoughts on the new Akrivia / Rexhep Rexhepi Chronometre Contemporain.
SJX: "The Akrivia Chronometre Contemporain doesn't do very much - it just tells the time - but it does so in careful, hand-finished flair. The movement is functionally simple but includes two smart, practical features: a hacking, zero-reset seconds, as well as a 100-hour power reserve despite the calibre's modest 30mm diameter.
But more alluring than the functionality is the movement finishing, which has been executed to an exceptionally high standard. High enough that it brings to mind watches like the Seiko Credor Eichi II, Voutilainen Vingt-8 and Dufour Simplicity. The Chronometre Contemporain prototypes still require refining, but one can imagine greatness if the finished product lives up to expectations, especially since the two brothers behind the brand are barely over 30 years old."
Next up is Gary G; a collector of all things unusual and classic, ranging from Philippe Dufour to Kari Voutilainen and Patek Philippe, among others. Not only does Gary collect, but he also contributes to Quill & Pad as their resident collector, so we thought we would get his first impression of the Kari Voutilainen 217QRS retrograde date.
Gary G: "I’ve been a client of Kari’s since 2008 and have long admired his thoughtful approach to extending and (to a lesser extent) expanding his offering lines. The 217QRS with retrograde date, first introduced at SIHH 2018 but more broadly on view in Basel, is the latest derivative of his Vingt-8 movement architecture, following on prior versions with small complications such as power reserve and GMT.
For me there are two noteworthy features of this new piece: the updated lugs that retain the curves of Kari’s trademark teardrop shape but have sections carved out on the outer-flanks for a more modern look; and of course the integrated regulator that governs the majestic sweep of the date hand from 31 back to 1 and eliminates the jarring forces typically associated with flyback hands. Both of these are very much to my taste, and when coupled with the strengths of the underlying Vingt-8 platform create a watch that I expect will do very well for Kari."
Our penultimate collector should be a familiar name to many, having made his mark writing about fine whisky and watches for his online magazine Bexsonn; a pairing that we think very few would contest. Chris' collecting ranges from dirty dozen military watches to vintage Omega Speedmasters and Rolex GMT's. Being particularly familiar with the brand's history, we thought we would get his thoughts on the Laurent Ferrier Galet Minute Repeater.
Chris Beccan: "Since the beginning, Laurent Ferrier, has kept a pretty conservative approach to their design language. This was evident with the Galet Classic and Micro-Rotor, which became emblematic of the manufacture’s understated elegance. Five years later, an entirely new case shape was introduced in the form of the Galet Square, featuring a cushion-shaped case. Just a year ago, they introduced the Montre École or school watch case in English. This year Laurent Ferrier went a step further introducing the Galet Minute Repeater École; for me personally it has to be one of my favourites watches released thus far this year."
Continued: "The minute repeater function suits the École case design down to a tee. The proportions are just right and salmon dial with white small seconds just works. But the thing which makes this piece just that little special is the fact that Laurent Ferrier has chosen to case it in steel, not something many brands would dare to do but it all makes sense, as steel creates the best resonance when it chimes. This new Minute Repeater from Laurent Ferrier is nothing short of perfection, in my humble opinion"
And finally, we arrive at the last of our four collectors, Michael Hickcox. Regular readers of ours may recall that we interviewed Michael recently about his watch collecting habits, so we thought we would see what he made of the rose gold Urban Jurgensen reference 1140 with a brown guilloche dial.
Michael Hickcox: "The new Urban Jürgensen introduction is really interesting. You have all the great components of the previously released Alfred (the contemporary size, the in-house movement, the unbeatable traditional UJ case, lugs, and hands), combined with these luscious case and dial colours, traditional guilloche dial, and immaculate applied numerals. This is a very classy piece, perhaps more tightly linked to UJ's traditional brand signatures than the more teutonic, though also desirable, Alfred."
We would like to say a quick thanks to our four collectors SJX, Gary G, Chris Beccan and Michael Hickcox for sharing their thoughts. For more information on Akrivia, Kari Voutilainen, Laurent Ferrier and Urban Jurgensen please visit their websites.