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Tissot - Worth A Look

Posted by Adrian Ainsworth on April 19, 2013 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (207)

Tissot have caught our eye recently with a couple of crackers that have really made us sit up and take a fresh look at this  famous Swiss brand, which now sits under the Swatch Umbrella.

First up we have the Tissot Automatic Visodate 1957, shown above, which  has been updated to suit the modern man with a bigger 40mm case and with a transparent back and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. It comes in four versions, in steel with white or black dial, alternatively in gold PVD with white or black dial, each with crocodile embossed leather strap. Visodate was, when it was launched in 1953, one of the first automatic watches equipped with a date display. Prices start from around £385.

Next we have the  result of watchmaker Tissot coming together with Swiss Watch Manufacturer ETA to produce a brand new revolutionary Powermatic 80 movement timepiece that offers an extraordinary 80 hours of power reserve in comparison to the mere 36 hours of a standard watch allowing the watch to go for 80 hours without being worn or wound up. Together both companies have pushed the limits in terms of precision and  power to essentially give time a new status. Available in both men and women’s collections, with some models bearing the COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse Chronomètres) certification, the watches will be available from December 2013  with prices starting from £525

Finally, Swiss watchmaker Tissot is turning 160 and to make it special, they’ve created an anniversary timepiece. The Heritage Navigator Automatic is a remake of a model first made to commemorate their centenary back in 1953. Like all good designs, the styling of the classic chronometer looks just as good now as it did 50 years ago. This is available  from November 2013 and while I am not aware of pricing I would expect it to come in around the £1400 mark.

Christopher Ward C7 Bluebird Ltd Edition

Posted by Adrian Ainsworth on April 16, 2013 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)

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There are without doubt some very exciting watches emerging from Christopher Ward lately and this is no exception. It's bold, brave and beautiful but bargain basement it isn't - from £499 upwards, which is a £200  premium on the standard C7MkII watch! We like it, we like it a lot but then we like a lot of watches at the £500 mark.

Friday Cool - The Burton Look

Posted by Adrian Ainsworth on April 1, 2013 at 12:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Burton is looking good right now.

Friday Cool - The Best Look Ever

Posted by Peanut on February 16, 2013 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Friday Cool - Let's Do Bauhaus

Posted by Adrian Ainsworth on February 10, 2013 at 4:30 AM Comments comments (0)

What is Bauhaus

The literal translation is "house  of construction". Bauhaus was a school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. The Bauhaus style, also known as the International Style, was marked by the absence of ornament and ostentatious facades and by harmony between function and the artistic and technical means employed. The Bauhaus school was founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar and operated from 1919 to 1933.

The Bauhaus style with its all encompassing philosophical approach to design was hugely influential in modern design across a range of disciplines including architecture, crafts and  industrial design. Bauhaus design can be characterized by its functional minimalism and the rejection of ornament. The idea  that ‘form follows function’ is at the heart of the Bauhaus style and " art for art's sake"  is overtaken by the blending of art with function, or put simply, functional style. Although minimalism is prevalent in the manifestations of Bauhaus, do not confuse Bauhaus with pure minimalism. To explain this in terms of a watch face, minimalism might strip out the markings on the face to batons for 3, 6, 9 and 12 but in truth this would be the triumph of form over function, as telling the time on such a watch would be less accurate than having markers for all the minutes. Bauhaus seeks to achieve a clean minimalist form but not at the expense of function. The Junkers Power Reserve at the bottom of this feature might at first glance be dismissed as not Bauhaus by some, as it is too cluttered, having a power reserve and a  smaller dial for military time. These though are genuine functions, so the Bauhaus mission would be to include them but to achieve an overall clean and unadorned look. The watch does this beautifully.


The first watch here is a Junghans Max Bill automatic and a nigh on perfect example of Bauhaus design in a watch.

The second watch is a Nomos Orion which again is a very pure Bauhaus look. The first Nomos watches were designed in 1990 in the Bauhaus purist style by Susanne Günther and have won several design awards as a result of this "minimalist" style.

Finally two offerrings from Junkers, the overtly Bauhaus three hander which comes as a quartz with "Bauhaus" written on the face and a more expensive automatic version where "Bauhaus" on the face is replaced by the text " automatic". Clearly Junkers believe that the quartz purchasers need to be told that this is a Bauhaus style, while the more discerning automatic brigade clearly have the sense to work this out for themselves! A tongue in cheek observation, as in truth I would be happy to have any one of these Junkers in my watch collection, which is in fact also the case for the Nomos and the Junghans.

This for me is a case of style over brand as the style is a winner in all three flavours - just take your pick and go Bauhaus.

Friday Cool Extra - Italy Unpacked

Posted by Adrian Ainsworth on January 19, 2013 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

This Friday at 9.00pm on BBC1 sees the last of a series of three programmes presented by Giorgio Locatelli and Andrew Graham-Dixon showcasing the cultures of food and art in Northen Italy.

The three programmes are based in northern Italy: Lombardy (where Giorgio comes from), Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna. Graham-Dixon an art historian and Locatelli a renowned chef,  are both passionate about their crafts and their enthusiasm shines through to bring a very entertaining picture of the places they visit. Art, cookery and a Maserati along with these two presenters makes for a very interesting journey. 

The first programme featured Bologna, historically an area of abundance, power and richness. It is the birthplace of modern Italian cuisine with a rich cultural heritage and a university that is the oldest in the world. Giorgio went shopping to cook a true Bolognese meal: tagliatelle ragu, and laughed at the idea of 'spaghetti Bolognese’ and told us no Italian would ever eat this – it’s something that grew out of the cuisine taken abroad by emigrants. We learnt why northern pasta is different to southern and made with eggs and why ragu is better with tagliatelle than spaghetti. Then there is the whole question of tomatoes: the pasta lady sternly told Giorgio he mustn’t put any tomatoes in the recipe, while the butcher whispered that he should add just a little! Giorgio followed the recipe of his hero, Artusi, the first person to put the concept of an ‘Italian’ cuisine into a book, er... with the addition of a little tomato.

From Bologna they went on to Modena, which, Giorgio tells us, is home of two of his greatest passions: balsamic vinegar and fast cars. Modena is the home of Ferrari. Finishing in Parma we saw the making of a special Parma ham and Giorgio tells us it smells so wonderful that if it was a woman he would marry her.

As you watch, you feel you are watching two friends full of passion for the art and cuisine of Italy who have come together to share their knowledge with each other as well as us, they are very natural on screen and draw you into their pleasure, without  ever overwhelming their subject.


The second leg of Andrew Graham-Dixon and Giorgio Locatelli's journey took Giorgio home, to Lombardy, a region brimming with engineering innovations and the influences brought by the proximity to Northern Europe, always with an eye to the future.

The first stop is of course Corgeno, Giorgio's hometown, where Andrew is the guest at a typical Sunday Lunch at the Locatelli's home, and a meal of traditional polenta cooked by Giorgio's father.

Andrew repayed him with a visit to some very unusual frescos by Lorenzo Lotto, hidden in a private chapel. The Christ with long fingernails is one of Andrew's favourite frescos.

Next they go to Milan, the region's capital, with its temples dedicated to the Gods of religion (The Duomo), art (La Scala) and capitalism (the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele the II and surroundings streets, full of luxury shops).

At his restaurant inside La Scala, the chef Gualtiero Marchesi (father of the modern Italian cuisine) intrigued his customers with a risotto made with saffron and... gold.

But Milan is not just about beauty and style, it has a dark centre. It is an arena of extreme political contrasts. Fascism was very strong here and so was the opposition to it. In Milan the Futurists movement embraced the world of modern art, and expressed the violence that would shape modern Italy under Fascism - a dark but fascinating story, that Andrew and Giorgio investigated with a visit to the Museum of 900.

More amazing art is waiting for them outside Milan, in the gem that is Mantua, a town full of mesmerizing buildings. Among these, the diamond in the crown is Palazzo Te, a former hunting lodge built for the amusement of the Duke Federico Gonzaga and his guests, designed and covered in frescos by Giulio Romano, a disciple of Raphael.


Finally, to end this fascinating trip another well kept secret: Cremona, hometown to the one of the most famous luthiers in the world: Antonio Stradivari, where Giorgio and Andrew were privileged to be the spectators of a very private concert.


The final leg of Andrew Graham-Dixon and Giorgio Locatelli's journey moves north to Piedmont, a land of luxuriant forests and tall mountains. They visit an abbey along the Via Francigena, an ancient road running from Rome to Canterbury, to reflect with the monks who live there, and to admire the fresco in their chapel.


Giorgio and Andrew go truffle hunting with Sandrino and his dog, and have a succulent breakfast with one of the precious nuggets, straight from the soil. There are many more gastronomic treasures to discover in this region, from the famous rice fields of Vercelli, to the Gianduiotti in Turin, the region's capital. Giorgio chats to the founder of slow food, Carlo Petrini.


Andrew explores the baroque architecture all over Turin. Stupinigi, a former hunting lodge made for the Savoia dynasty, and the Castle of Rivoli, now a captivating museum and home to the artists of the Arte Povera, are highlights.


Finally, another pilgrimage site: Sacro Monte, Holy Mountains, in Varallo. A series of gruesome chapels on top of a mountain full of waxworks enacting scenes like the Massacre of the Innocents.

This whole series features places that we intend to visit or at least pass through on our retracing of the Mille Miglia trip, which we hope to take in May/June this year. It really sets the scene for this holiday and gives us some pointers to steer us on our way and maybe some ideas for meals when it comes to eating out.  More importantly though this is a delightful series for any lover of art and food and best of all it is all dressed up in a lovely Italian wrapping. Catch up with this series and then don't miss the last episode on Cool Friday the 25th January on BBC1.