Last year in 2013, Geneva-based F.P. Journe released a timepiece called the Anniversary Tourbillon which was a wristwatch version of a pocket watch he made in 1983. The “30th Anniversary Tourbillon” was really about celebrating how far he had come since the very first timepiece that he produced himself. aBlogtoWatch covered the Anniversary Tourbillon here hands on, and for 2014, F.P. Journe has released a slight revision called the 10 Year Anniversary Tourbillon.
Given how the layers are at angles to each other, and how the block of material is heated under pressure prior to machining, you get a fairly amazing pattern in the material. Richard Mille's literature states that this is reminiscent of precious wood (a boating and luxury reference), but I think there's a much cooler equivalent - Damascus steel, a la what we see in the watches coming from Gustafsson & Sjogren.
To explain, BaselWorld, which is the largest and most heavily attended watch show in the world, is dominated by the Swatch Group, which is the largest timepiece conglomerate in the industry. Swatch owns a significant portion of the exhibiting brands, giving it a clear “advantage” when it comes to exhibit space and brand presence. The LVMH Group (Louis Vuitton Möet Hennessey) also exhibits there, as does Rolex – which is of course the largest independent watch manufacture in the industry. In short, it is a full house of competing luxury brands, and the creation of SIHH was a way for a few of them to distinguish themselves and stand out to attendees to get undivided attention for their products. Today, SIHH is primarily a Richemont Group affair, and seeing as Richemont brands are primarily high end, it makes for a difference in presentation throughout the event. I should disclose that I haven’t personally attended BaselWorld, so I won’t make any further comparisons to it, but I will convey this: Richemont and their collaborative independents have gone to a lot of trouble to differentiate the SIHH experience from that of BaselWorld, and it is an extremely posh and luxurious atmosphere, which we will get into shortly.
Opened about a year ago on Post Street in what can be easily called the luxury and watch district of San Francisco, the Tourbillon Boutique is the Swatch Group's flagship store in the Bay Area and in Silicon Valley. In no time, the staff there has already organized various excursions for watch lovers, such as watching the Omega-sponsored Kiwi boat take on Oracle's Team America for this year's America's Cup competition. While the Omega America's Cup events were associated with a media frenzy and blitz that you can and should expect for a worldwide competition, the event I want to mention here is the opposite. A special, intimate, exclusive evening with Jaquet-Droz. Another one of the Swatch Group's sub-brands with a long history and tradition making some of the finest and most poetic timepieces available today.