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GMT Magazine - 2004, the pace picks up*

GMT Magazine 2004, the pace picks up*

The race for innovation and the creation of limited editions intensifies, while the presence of chronographs grew stronger.

2004 was the first year GMT was published in four issues throughout the year, introducing a third format to its range. After the aptly named “GMT XXL King of Summer”, GMT introduced the “GMT Stars & Snow”, reflecting the sparkling glamour of the festive season and the atmosphere of posh ski resorts. At the same time, it is also the XXL issue that GMT chose to launch in the US. Meanwhile in Switzerland, Greubel Forsey is born, Patrick Cremers left Les Ambassadeurs and acquired the venerable A l'Emeraude boutique in Lausanne, while Jean-Claude Biver set his sights on Hublot. The brand Wyler Vetta resurfaced in Switzerland, while others had not yet succumbed to the choppy water: Aquanautic, deLaCour, Locman Italy or Rama Swiss Watch were still visible in media and shop windows.

2004, the pace picks up*

GMT 2004 © GMT Magazine

Happy Birthday!

TAG Heuer was the guest of honour on the front page of GMT to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its Carrera and to present its new Carrera Tachymeter Chronograph, the diameter of which was of an elegant square, going from 37mm to 41mm.

2004, the pace picks up*

GMT 2004 © GMT Magazine

The auction house Antiquorum celebrated its 30th anniversary by inviting seven brands and craftsmen to dedicate to it a limited series or a unique timepiece, such as Breitling or Jorg Hysek. FP Journe dedicated three Vagabondage watches, Vacheron Constantin two Minute Repeater watches, Parmigiani 6 QP Toric, and Chopard 30 editions of the Tourbillon L.UC. Quattro! At Baume & Mercier, whose slogan of the time was “In tune with the times, plus one day” (which still rings true today), the Hampton line became a teen. In other anniversaries, Cartier celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Santos watch with 14 new models, Piaget its 130th anniversary, and Gübelin its 150th anniversary! Finally, one year before its 250th anniversary, Vacheron Constantin inaugurated its new Manufacture designed by Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi to be rather avant-garde—a 300,000m2 site comprising 1,130 tons of steel and concrete, around which 1,500 trees are planted.

2004, the pace picks up*

GMT 2004 © GMT Magazine

The soar in innovation

In the wake of the inauguration of its new Manufacture in 2003, Breguet presented the “Le Réveil du Tsar” to the Classique collection, with an alarm function and second time zone, featuring a mechanism with more than 400 components, featuring two patents: the first for locking the alarm function, the second for relaying the alarm to the time zone. Equally audacious and ingenious, the slogan displayed in Breguet’s new communication campaign reads: “Passion leaves its mark.”

2004, the pace picks up*

GMT 2004 © GMT Magazine

On the other side of the Lac de Joux, Jaeger-LeCoultre created the snow setting on its sparkling Reverso Volga with 425 diamonds, and launched its new Autotractor caliber in its Master Hometime. With its unidirectional rotor mounted on non-lubricated ceramic ball bearings, a new type of escapement, “spyr”-type teeth on the wheels, balance cock replaced by a screwed bridge, a spring laser welded to the balance, the “Grande Maison du Sentier” asserted the expertise of its Manufacture. The beautiful “Cité de Calvin” did not intend to leave the leadership of innovation to the Vallée de Joux. Still using the Poinçon de Genève to certify the reliability of its movements, Patek Philippe designed the caliber 324 for its Art Deco-inspired Gondolo Calendaria, equipped with a new Gyromax balance set with four weights on four bridges, and gear teeth optimised for better energy transmission.

More radically, FP Journe decided to design all its movements in gold, starting with its Tourbillon Souverain in platinum with a movement entirely in rose gold. Cause-and-effect ensued: its models with brass movements then became collector’s items. Franck Muller ushered a world first in his new Long Island collection, introducing a new Tourbillon Crazy Hours watch, as did DeWitt, whose Pressy Grande Complication combined a tourbillon visible through the sapphire crystal caseback, perpetual calendar, minute repeater, retrograde day and date, chronograph and minute counter. Also adding to the world premieres, De Bethune unveiled its QP DB15 with three-dimensional moon phase, where two half-spheres in blued steel and platinum revolve on an axis on an incline that corresponded perfectly to that of the Earth’s incline. In a completely different style, Richard Mille continued to draw inspiration from F1 for his RM 005, whose case, dial and movement design is inspired by the chassis and engine of these race track giants.

2004, the pace picks up*

GMT 2004 © GMT Magazine

Even Van Cleef & Arpels launched itself into complications with the Monsieur Arpels dual-time generational calendar (giving the day and month from 2004 to 2092 thanks to an engraved disc), with the movement unmistakably apparent through a lateral opening in the case. Simpler but just as effective aesthetically, Jaquet Droz magnified its “Les Lunes” collection with a complete calendar and retrograde moon phases.

Continuing to trace its own path, Frédérique Constant designed its Heart Beat calibre, visible through its open heart at 6 o’clock, by collaborating with three schools (Ecole d’horlogerie de Genève, Ecole d’ingénieurs de Genève and Horloge Vakschool Zadkine in Holland), patenting and regsitering the brand Heart Beat in the process.

As for Jean-Claude Biver, whose Big Bang was still being developed at that point, he warned: “I am passionate about concepts. As far as Hublot is concerned, the concept is quite clear, it is no longer the standard of watchmaking as it was for Blancpain, but fusion in watchmaking. In 1980, it was the first brand to combine gold and rubber. So Hublot today needs a second fusion eruption, which I want to create.” At that time, he had presented the Subaquaneus with a screw-down crown moulded with rubber cover and water-resistant to 2000m.

2004, the pace picks up*

GMT 2004 © GMT Magazine

Chronographs bulk up

Still wearing the crown from its victory in the America’s Cup with Alinghi, Audemars Piguet changed its register with a yellow gold Royal Oak Offshore Arnold Schwarzenegger “I’ll be back” Chronograph, with the signature of the Terminator on the back, produced in 400 pieces. Equally surprising, Antoine Preziuso created a chronograph with a meteorite case and entrusted its distribution in Asia to DESCO (owner of Maurice Lacroix). Among the chronographs with a strong personality, let us mention the Laureato Evo3 Automatic with integrated steel bracelet by Girard-Perregaux, and the A. Lange & Söhne Double Split in platinum, whose movement was comprised of 465 components and weighed up to 220 grams! Conversely, Blancpain’s Villeret collection retained its classic aesthetic for its automatic single-pusher chronograph in steel, also available in white or red gold. In the same group, Omega gained in stature with its COSC-certified De Ville Co-Axial chronograph in the colours of St. Moritz.

2004, the pace picks up*

GMT 2004 © GMT Magazine

The limited editions

The vintage trend was only in its infancy at this point, well exploited by Bell & Ross, whose Vintage 123 in platinum with jumping hour and power reserve indicator was designed in collaboration with Vincent Calabrese and made available in 99 copies. Zenith also caused a stir with its extra-flat New Vintage 1965 in pink gold, a limited series of 250 pieces in honour of the square Vintage 1965, itself designed as a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Manufacture. Cleverly crafted, Maurice Lacroix honours the past in its own way with the Masterpiece Vénus Chronograph, named after the Vénus Manufacture in Ebauches, which filed a patent in 1933 for its first chronograph;  the calibre 175 is visible through the sapphire crystal caseback of the two limited editions of 150 pieces in pink gold and 100 pieces in white gold.

It was also the 75th anniversary of the birth of Hermès’ first watch, which the brand immortalised with a limited edition of 75 platinum pieces of their Dressage watch, containing the first movement made exclusively for them at Vaucher, COSC-certified. Pushing the concept of limited series to its extreme, Louis Vuitton offered the Tourbillon Tambour Monogram, which could be personalised, and Bovet developed its unique pieces with decoration of the movement over the entire surface.

“I consider energy, sharing and passion to be management values,” declared Thierry Nataf about Zenith, which lived to his impassioned rhythm. “The success of a company is largely based on the dissemination of these values. There are warmer values, such as creativity and design, and colder values, such as development techniques. You have to teach others to live with passion, to flourish in a profession, and in a word to live with their feet on the ground and their heads in the stars. Sometimes I compare myself to a gardener who strives to bring out the good in everyone.”

2004, the pace picks up*

GMT 2004 © GMT Magazine

Next week: watchmaking in 2005.

*To celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2020, GMT Magazine will summarise weekly, exclusively on WorldTempus, the essence of its content published year after year in the last 20 years. The information is by no means exhaustive and refers to excerpts. For a more in-depth view of the last two decades of watchmaking, order The Millennium Watch Book produced by GMT Magazine and WorldTempus with the contribution of over twenty experts, each of whom witnessed this incomparable period in our industry.

WorldTempus offers below the Spring 2020 GMT for download.

L’épopée Octo Finissimo

Download GMT #66 for free

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