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Leibish & Co

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The MB&F Arachnophobia Spins A Web Of Time

Arachnophobia may be its name but there’s no reason to fear this high-precision clock that takes the form of a spider.

The clock represents the newest collaboration of two very different Swiss timepiece companies: The contemporary luxury watchmaker MB&F and the traditional high-end clock manufacturer L’Epée 1839.

The concept was conceived and developed by MB&F’s founder Maximilian Büsser and engineered and crafted by L’Epée. It was inspired by a giant spider sculpture called Maman (mother in French) that Büsser had seen in Geneva and Doha, created by Louise Bourgeois (1911 - 2010).

The new timepiece resembles a spider that can be displayed as a table or wall clock. It’s available in black or 18k plated gold and comprises no fewer than 218 components.

A L’Epée eight-day clock movement was re-imagined as the mechanical head and torso of a spider. The head houses the regulator with its oscillating balance wheel, while the other end contains the mainspring barrel, which powers the movement. The hours and minutes are read on a high dome representing the spider's body, with rotating curved hands indicating hours and minutes on a polished, central dome featuring MB&F’s signature numerals.

Attached to the abdomen are eight legs articulated where they join the body by ball-and-socket joints. The legs can be rotated so that Arachnophobia can stand tall on a desk, splayed flat for wall mounting, or the front legs can be moved forward while the six others maintain the standing position. With the legs fully extended the clock measures 405 mm. In order for it to be hung on wall, a catch was developed underneath the movement that hooks on to a stainless steel wall bracket.

Injection molding was used to create the parts for the legs. The material is first subjected to high heat and forced into the mold cavity. It then cools to the desired shape before being removed from the mould. While this is a very common process for shaping plastics, it is less common for shaping metals. The gold-colored edition features gilded brass legs, while the black version’s legs are made of injection-molded aluminum, which is hand-finished and lacquered black.

The key winding and setting mechanism is on the underside of the spider.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Chopard’s First Diffusion Jewelry In Fairmined Gold

Palme Verte earrings

Chopard has spent the past three years publicly heralding its “Journey to Sustainable Luxury,” program by introducing jewelry and watches made with gold acquired from sustainable sources. 

The first efforts were limited to very specific items using Fairmined Gold. Now the company has released its first diffusion jewelry collection. 

Palme Verte bracelet

Chopard’s Palme Verte collection makes ethically sourced gold jewels available on a wider scale at a more affordable price that is suitable for daily wear. The collection of four jewels is made entirely of 18k Fairmined gold. It’s modeled after the design of the Palme d’Or, the award given to the director of the best film at Cannes, serving as tribute to the award’s 60th anniversary. 

Chopard first released jewelry made with ethical gold in 2013 under its sustainable luxury program when a few high jewelry pieces known as the “Green Carpet Collection” debuted on the Red Carpet at the Cannes Film Festival worn by actress Marion Cotillard. The program is a long-term partnership with Eco-Age and its creative director Livia Firth promoting sustainable development within the luxury industry. The gold used for this program is extracted by artisanal and small-scale miners certified under the Fairmined standard created by the Alliance for Responsible Mining.

Palme Verte ring

For the 2014 Cannes Film Festival Chopard upped its stakes in ethical gold by making the Palme d’Or entirely of Fairmined gold. The design, in which a single piece of cut crystal forms a cushion for a hand-cast 24k gold palm, was created in 1998 by Caroline Scheufele, artistic director and co-president of Chopard. It is as much of a symbol of the luxury brand as it is of Cannes.

The four pieces of the Palme Verte collection (earrings, pendant, ring and bracelet) is directly inspired by the award’s single palm frond, applied in a simple curved and polished design. The pieces run from $2,360 to $10,840 and will be available in Chopard boutiques at the end of September.

Palme Verte pendant

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Speake-Marin Kennin-ji Temple Masters Project

Watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin and three specialist engravers have created a one-of-a-kind watch inspired by an iconic Japanese Temple. 

The Kennin-ji Temple Masters Project was commissioned by an experienced collector, described by the watchmaker as being “passionate about high-quality artisanal craft and believes that it is the people involved that impart a timepiece with its soul.”

The inspiration for this timepiece is the Kennin-ji Temple, a historic Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. Founded in 1202, it is considered to be the oldest Zen temple in Japan, and the temple's founding abbot, Eisai, is credited with introducing the Zen philosophy to Japan.

To commemorate the temple’s 800th anniversary in 2002, the Hatto building (Dharma Hall) was enhanced by a dramatic painting of two dragons on the ceiling by artist Koizumi Junsaku. The painting covers approximately 1,883 square feet. Speake-Marin says the style differs from the traditional circular layout as the commissioning Abbot requested that the dragons be “rampaging across the ceiling.”

To convey the power of this monumental painting down to the scale of a wristwatch, the Kennin-ji Temple Masters Project timepieces features ornately engraved twin dragons spilling out from the dial to the 42 mm white gold case and onto the surrounding presentation box.

The original stepped bezel was redeveloped to have a rounder profile so that the dragons flow seamlessly from the dial, over the bezel and down the sides of the case. And the engraving isn't restricted to the top and sides. The movement is also engraved and the leather lining of the presentation case is embossed with a similar dragon motif.

Speake-Marin, a British native who now lives and works in Switzerland, served as the project manager and was responsible for the in-house SM2 movement beating beneath the dragons on the dial. The engravers are specialists in their field, responsible for a specific portion on the watch and the packaging. They are:

* Kees Engelbarts, a Dutch native, was the engraver for the dial and case;

* Eddy Jaquet of Switzerland was the engraver for the SM2 movement;

* Christophe Seewer of Switsaerland was the engraver for embossing the leather of the presentation case.

“This is the most extraordinary engraving project I've ever been involved with," said Peter Speake-Marin. “Due to the complexity of the subject (two dragons instead of one), the incredible detail of the engravings and the fact that it isn't just one component that's engraved, but the designs cover practically the whole watch.”

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The Ulysse Nardin Limited Edition Artemis Racing Marine Diver

The Ulysse Nardin Artemis Racing Marine Diver was unveiled Friday during a preliminary America’s Cup World Series competition in Gothenburg, Sweden. The city is one of the hosts for the sailing competition. The culmination of the 35th America’s Cup will be held in Bermuda in June, 2017.

The luxury watch brand created the limited-edition timepiece to highlight its sponsorship of the Swedish sailing team.

The Artemis Racing Marine Diver has a mixture of textures, including stainless steel and rubber. It features a “deep-ocean blue” dial augmented with bursts of the signature yellow of the sailing team on the hands and hour markers. The dial also has a pattern of sailing vessels that seem to float on the sea.

The power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock features the Artemis Racing logo. The small seconds subdial window at 6 o’clock reads, “Challenger 35th America’s Cup Artemis Racing.” The nautical theme continues with a subtle wave pattern on the unidirectional rotating bezel. The logo and expression also appears on the stainless steel caseback.

The 44 mm watch is powered by the UN-26 automatic caliber and is water resistant to 300 meters.

The Artemis Racing logo and yellow stripes also appear on the blue rubber strap. The watch is limited to 250 pieces and is available through Ulysse Nardin’s worldwide retail network.

In the 19th Century, Ulysse Nardin manufactured highly accurate marine chronometers for ships throughout the world. Patrik Hoffmann, Ulysse Nardin CEO, says this nautical heritage makes the partnership with Artemis Racing “a perfect match.”

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Friday, August 28, 2015

11 Speakers Announced For 8th Annual Portland Jewelry Symposium

Jewelry industry professionals at the 2014 Portland Jewelry Symposium

The Portland Jewelry Symposium, a forum for the jewelry industry to discuss advancements and new artistic approaches to jewelry manufacturing and design, will be held October 4 and 5 at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland, Ore. 

In its eighth year, the Symposium is known for bringing together top industry talent to present on current trends in design, technology, bench work and business. It’s tailored to the needs of manufacturing professionals, retailers and designers.

“We like to think of it as the ‘Great Think Tank’ for jewelers that are passionate about their craft,” said Teresa Frye, who founded the Symposium. “I believe there is growing interest in the trade for events like ours where in-depth networking opportunities complement a full educational program.”

On October 4, the event will kick off at the Portland Art Museum with a dinner and keynote address from Benjamin Smithee, chief strategy officer of Relevents, an events company. Smithee is a highly acclaimed speaker and has consulted for some of the world’s biggest brands, including Coca-Cola, Del Monte, General Mills and Sterling Jewelers. 

On Monday, there will be a line-up of 10 industry presenters including David Geller, director of Shop’s Profits, sharing his decades of experience in consulting on profitability in the custom jewelry business; renowned designer, Paul Klecka, offering his unique insights on digital design; pulse-arc welding expert, Sessin Durgham of Rio Grande; and digital manufacturing guru Kevin Abernathy. 

Event sponsors include TechForm Advanced Casting Technology, MJSA, Stuller, Rio Grande, Gemological Institute of America, Platinum Guild International, Johnson Matthey, Solidscape, Chris Ploof Designs, Asiga, United Precious Metals Refining, The Richline Group and Jewelers of America.

For more details on how to register and a complete list of speakers, visit www.portlandjewelrysymposium.com.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Inside Panerai’s Americas Flagship Boutique In Miami

 Photo by Doug Castanedo

Officine Panerai’s new Americas Flagship boutique in Miami serves as a symbol of the city’s vibrant luxury scene while it represents the watch brand’s heritage.

The two-story, 2,200-square-foot retail space opened officially in July in an area dedicated to luxury watch and jewelry brands in the burgeoning Miami Design District. Angelo Bonati, CEO of Panerai, insists that the boutique represents a long-term commitment to the American market, the city of Miami and the design district—which has grown to become an international center for modern art, architecture and design.

Panerai CEO, Angelo Bonati  Photo by Doug Castanedo

“Miami is the most important boutique in the United States. Not yet in terms of sales. (But) in terms of representing Panerai because Miami is a city of art,” says Bonati during an interview inside the new boutique. “Miami is the door of the United States. For me it is the correct mix to establish the image of the brand.”

The boutique represents a new design for the brand created by Patricia Urquiola, a Spanish-born Italian-educated architect and designer. Bonati says it was important to choose a designer who understood Italian culture. (On Urquiola’s Wikipedia page it notes that the she is “Spanish by birth and Italian by choice.”) In addition, Bonati says the two worked together on exhibitions in Milan and Beijing.

 Photo by Doug Castanedo

“She brought all the characteristics to express all the elements of Panerai, which is not easy to understand. Plus we had an experience with her because she was the director of an exhibition in Milan where the theme was time,” he says. “It was a very important exhibition and we were very impressed with her work.

He adds, “It was her first experience working on a boutique for us and this is important because she was not (influenced) by other brands. If you do shops for different brands you cannot avoid mixing the styles.”

 Photo by Doug Castanedo

The long, narrow retail space has a contemporary edge but still references the Florentine roots and seafaring nature of the watch brand, which at one time created timepieces for the Italian navy. For example, one wall is made of light-brown woods while the other is made of undulated and transparent glass designed to replicate light being refracted and reflected in ocean water. The water theme is further enhanced with wall displays fashioned like ship portals. Rows of down lights have the appearance of light fixtures from an old ship.

The center element for the boutique is a chandelier designed to replicate Panerai watch movements that runs the length of the high ceiling on each floor.

At the entrance of a stairway leading to the second floor there’s an antique scuba suit. Long copper bars frame the stairway. On the second floor there’s a large replica of a Panerai Luminor Marina watch face with hour markers and watch hands in a green luminescent finish. The upper space extends to outside walkway/patio. It will be used for private sales, parties and art exhibits.

 Photo by Doug Castanedo

The Panerai boutique is located at the end of Palm Court, a two-story blue-hued structure designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto (his first US project). It is an area of the Miami Design Center dedicated to luxury watch and jewelry brand boutiques. A. Lange & Sohne, Hublot, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Omega, Parmigiani Fleurier, Piaget, TAG Heuer, Tourbillon, Vacheron Constantin, Vhernier, Yvel, Audemars Piguet and Van Cleef and Arpels, are among Panerai’s neighbors. Most of the boutiques are open with the remaining to open in 2016.

Outside Palm Court there’s a replica of Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome and a large fiberglass bust of Le Corbusier by French artist Xavier Veilhan. This is in character with the intention of the Miami Design District to house landmark buildings created by world-class architects and site-specific art works by internationally renowned modern artists.

On the right is Palm Court. In the foreground is a large fiberglass bust of Le Corbusier in the back is a replica of Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome. Photo by Robin Hill

Palm Court is the latest phase in the Miami Design District, a 20-year project to covert an abandoned furniture and interior design center into an international art and design district with luxury shopping, world-class restaurants, museums, hotels and housing. The 18-block area is expected to be fully completed by the end of 2016, says Craig Robins, CEO of Dacra Development, who has led the development of the district.

Bonati says the Design District and Miami’s importance as an international modern art and design destination is complimentary with Panerai’s Florentine pedigree. This is what he wants to convey with the new boutique.

“Art and design is linked to the brand. You can see the detail. You can easily understand something that is timeless because this design was made in 1936 but it’s still contemporary now,” he says. “Florence is an expression of art that is universal because Florence expresses something unique that nobody can be able to express in the future. But Miami through this modernity, through this design and contemporary art is another expression for the future that can be very important. I love Miami for that. Most European people love Miami for that.”  

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Tiffany & Co. Q2 Sales And Earnings Take A Hit

Tiffany & Co. said Thursday worldwide net sales in the second quarter fell 2 percent year-over-year to $991 million. On a constant-exchange-rate basis worldwide net sales and comparable store sales increased 7 percent due to growth in Japan, Europe and Asia-Pacific, as well as increased sales of fashion gold jewelry and statement jewelry.

The luxury retail jeweler reported that net earnings for the second quarter fell 16 percent to $105 million. It blames the drop in sales and earnings on unfavorable effects from a strong U.S. dollar, a large impairment charge and higher SG&A expenses. Excluding the impairment charge, which was a loan to a diamond mining company, earnings declined 10 percent.

The company downgraded its earnings for the year to 2 percent to 5 percent lower than the prior year.

Frederic Cumenal, Tiffany CEO, said the negative impact of a strong US dollar was greater than originally expected.

“We entered this year expecting translation and tourism-related pressures on sales and earnings from the exceptionally strong U.S. dollar, as well as challenging economic conditions in certain markets,” he said. “The adverse effects from the strong dollar have been even more significant than initially expected.”

By region, second quarter sales are as follows:

The Americas - Total sales of $475 million in the second quarter were 2 percent below the prior year, the company said. On a constant-exchange-rate basis both total sales and comparable store sales in the second quarter were equal to the prior year for the second quarter. Higher sales to U.S. customers contrasted with lower foreign tourist spending in the U.S. which management attributes to the strong U.S. dollar. The company added that there was healthy comparable store sales growth in Canada and Latin America. 

Asia-Pacific – Total sales rose 4 percent to $245 million in the second quarter. On a constant-exchange-rate basis total sales and comparable store sales in the second quarter rose 9 percent and 6 percent, respectively, while total sales and comparable store sales rose 6% and 4% in the first half. Double-digit sales growth in China and Australia was combined with mixed performance in other markets. 

Japan - Total sales in Japan rose 5 percent to $125 million in the second quarter. On a constant-exchange-rate basis total sales and comparable store sales in the second quarter increased 27 percent and 21 percent respectively, benefiting from higher sales to foreign tourists. 

Europe - Total sales in Europe rose 2 percent to $123 million in the second quarter. On a constant-exchange-rate basis both total sales and comparable store sales in the second quarter rose 19 percent, as growth in the UK and across the continent largely benefitted from higher spending by foreign tourists and, to a lesser extent, an increase in spending by local customers, the company said.

Other Sales – This category experienced a 33 percent decline to $23 million in the second quarter. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, the decline was 27 percent due to lower wholesale sales of diamonds but rose 8 percent on a comparable store sales basis.

Tiffany opened six company-operated stores in the second quarter: Geneva, Switzerland; two in China in Shanghai and Hangzhou; in Bangkok, Thailand; in Macau; and in Ottawa, Canada. The company operates 304 stores worldwide. 

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