Tuesday, November 20, 2012

IWC watch making class 2012 Abu Dhabi

I’ve only recently got into the world of fine timepiece and have been reading up a lot to try educate myself. 4 months ago, If you ask me what is a balance spring or a balance wheel, I’d have given you a blank look...( not that I’m an expert now anyway, just a little better informed). As much as I am influenced by the aesthetic and appearance of a dial of watch and its functionality, I am intrigued with the whole business of mechanisms, innovations of mechanical watches over the years and the historical development of certain calibres that survived to this day.

Yes, I have all the excitement of a newbie with the hope and aspiration to one day leave my day job and become a watchmaker in a quiet and sleepy town.

Imagine my excitement during the time of discovering timepieces to find out that a team from Schaffhausen is coming over to Abu Dhabi for the boutique launch and to conduct a watch-making class. Ever since, I have placed my name on the list to make the necessary arrangements to be part of this event. I’ve been anticipating eagerly to get into the construction of a watch calibre.

As we drew close to the day of watch-making, the official boutique opening ceremony on the day before built up the excitement and gave us the opportunity to meet with few key staffs of IWC and some notable figures coming from Schaffhausen. 

Maxime Ferté, IWC brand director welcomed us with a big smile and friendly gestures. Maxime is a true gentleman and shared with us his experience in Asia and how the company positioned itself in the region. Being positioned in Hong Kong for a number of years, he relates well to our culture and home nearby there. He then introduced us to Hannes Pantli and Christian Bresser, and I must say to be grazed by Mr Hannes and Christian is truly a memorable experience for us. Meeting people whom you only read in articles gave that extra dimension to complete the picture you painted in you mind of them. My wife and I had a fantastic evening and enjoyed pleasant conversations with these fine gentlemen. In my mind, I have hundreds of questions about horology and timepiece, but we find ourselves talking more about our lives, experiences and other aspects surrounding our works and places we have been. I was glad that we spent those precious moments to know more about them than just talking about watches. These are the little things in life that enriches one soul.

My wife and I arrived at the Chairman Suite Conference room where the watch-making class. Our journey to the venue was joined by Christian and Jean Phillippe, IWC Retail Director. We meet with Mr Hannes again in the watch-making room and soon joined by fellow forum member here, OB. The number of participants had to be small (no more than 10). This allows full and personal attention to each of us.

Mr Hannes has such a positive aura which is hard to explain. A man of such experience and influence just exudes great presence. 

The view and the wonderful clear weather of Abu Dhabi was a perfect setting for what we are about to do. At this point, it was hard to contain my excitement.

I reckoned we didn’t look too bad in the lab coat. If this doesn’t set one in the mood, I don’t know what will. All ready for action…

Do not let this picture of calm fool you. Jumping screws and groans of frustration were frequent occurrences here. 

Here you have it, Calibre 98200 ready to be taken apart…

The ratchet wheel was the first to be removed…

… followed by the winding wheel + bridge…

The centre train bridge was next, along with all the gear-train…

With the last bridge plate remove, the disassembly was complete. We are not qualify to touch the balance wheel and its related components. 

On the reassembly, the watch gear train goes back into the jewelled positions. This is rather tricky to ensure the all the gears are in contact and positioned properly.

The centre train bridge is then placed to secure all the gear train positions…

… winding wheel and bridge is back in place….

… finally the ratchet wheel… at this point, you can begin to see the balance when starts to gather some inertia. My wife and I were just ecstatic to see our timepiece being restored to life!

Christian Bresser, Deputy of the Department of Complications, conducted the watchmaking class. He was both entertaining and informative in giving us interesting background and sharing with us his story of previous classes. Bear in mind that we had help in performing the above tasks. A professional watchmaker can dissemble and reassemble a simple movement above in about 15 minutes. It took us about 2 hours including instruction to perform the same task. Watch-making is not about speed, it is about patience and passion. Christian reminded us the respect we need to give to such a well crafted instrument to ensure its continuous service for years to come. This includes adequate maintenance and methods of handling. After personally gone through the exercise above, one can immediately appreciate the fine and delicate art of watch-making and the respect it deserves. No reading or visual reference can give the equal comprehension of this fine art as this guided watch-making class can.

The session was followed by lunch with a rather experimental menu, with a strong eastern flavour. Simply delightful.

After lunch and a few more conversation we expressed our interest to perhaps one day to pay a visit to Schaffhausen. Boutiques apparently help customers in securing appointments to visit the factory. This is best done early (preferably 6 months ahead) to ensure a more fruitful experience. We part ways with the hope that one day to meet with these familiar faces in the near future and relate to the recent wonderful events.

… and just so you know, we are now ‘qualified’ :P

I think the IWC team here has successfully carried out all the events. It was well organized and executed, promoted the brand and the product in the best light. We have not only been given the best experience to get into the world of watchmaking but also met some great people, made so many new friends, and be part of a small circle of enthusiast alike. We have gone beyond the appreciation of the materiality of the product and be part of the spirit of the tradition of IWC. What more could one ask for? Fantastic job IWC team and thank you! 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Getting into Horology

Mechanical timepiece has always impresses me with the fact that so many hand made components are packed into one small case and with its own source of energy. Surely any quartz watch with a fraction of a price of these mechanical watches are more accurate in terms of time telling, but to some, not having a small beating mechanical heart in a watch is unacceptable! 

I was fortunate to visit some of the timepiece boutiques in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and can't help but fiddle with some of the impressive contemporary horology pieces out there. Here are some of my favourites:

Glashutte Original: PanoReserve hand wound

Omega Speedmaster - Manual 

IWC Portuguese Classic (limited 500pc) Manual with Piaget movement

Besides learning how to pronounce some of these brands (like Audemars PiguetJaeger LeCoultre), understanding how it works is a whole new adventure itself. The very art of horology requires a lifetime of patience and utmost dedication to perfection. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Village Roast Duck @ Bangsar Village, Kuala Lumpur

Village Roast Duck at Bangsar Village - This place goes into my favourite list of restaurants in KL for few reasons. One; I love duck meat, and Two; the rest of the menu is great! The roasted duck here is a bit more moist and soft compared to other restaurants without losing out the crispiness of the skin. There's also a strong tint of sweetness in it but not overwhelming.

The restaurant was packed even on a weekday and service is quick and precise. We were lucky to get a table as soon as we arrived, with only moments later, a crowd was gathering at the entrance with a waiting list.

honey roasted meat and roasted belly is equally good and fresh...

The main dish : A portion size is enough for 2/3 person

Mixed vegetable with mince meat, a quick and tasty dish

Honey ribs was part of our menu as well. 

We love the dry chili oil sauce to go along with the meals. 

Overall, a very satisfying meal and a great place for family dining. The price would be slightly above average but with the great service and great food, makes it all worthwhile. 

4.8 out of 5 !!

Publika @ Solaris Dutamas

Publika, the new commercial destination within the new urban hub in Solaris Dutamas Development, the multi-level solution in segregating pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Whilst there's a shopping mall-like component which is the major piece of the whole development, it is flanked by shop-fronts to the adjacent streets, offering more interactive streets, on- street parking, and seamless pedestrian connectivity.

At certain strategic corners, lift lobbies have been carved into the massing for access to the towers above.

All these are built over a terrace configuration of parking, in respecting the terrain. Where there's opportunity, horizontal access to the parking has been established at certain points to get into the retail areas. One really needs to know exactly where to park to be able to get to the nearest points of destination within the commercial area, otherwise, can easily be confused by the layout. Permeability seems to work well in connecting the parking areas to the retail but way-finding in this place still needs a bit of work.

 Public art seems to be the concept of this place, but honestly, I think it needs a bit of effort in curating and creating a more identifiable theme. 

 It does house one of my favourite restaurant!

 Text inlay with messages gives the square a nice touch

 This open area seems to be quite an attractor here with some drinks and food readily to be purchased along it and enjoyed in front of a live band....

 The mall of Publika

 This whole street like environment is over a slab with parking below it. Shown here are +2 or +3 level above the entrance street level, connected via ramps a the end of the block.

One of the highlights for me is the BIG supermarket. Great stock of food, good chain of supplies and a fantastic place to find organic food and speciality foods.  

Overall, I can't wait to see how this place develops. I've always been in a favour of complex horizontal development such as this where a complex can be divided into blocks and in the same time, allowing more natural light, outdoor interaction and connectivity.

For more info and pictures, check out the following websites
and on Solaris Dutamas