Thought I'd join in on the conversation finally, after reading (I think) the entirety of this thread and enjoying it immensely. I particularly enjoyed the Rolex discussion that was had over the last 25 pages or so. My own Rolex purchase was preceded by my moving through all 3 stages of thinking about Rolexes as mentioned by the forbes article posted here a while back. In the end, prompted by a desire to own a watch with dual time zone functionality and the feeling that I could wear it anywhere, I ended up with an 116710. Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
There are a few good reads here about their new facility in Bienne that, as an industrial systems engineer, I find a bit fascinating. Their production techniques are perhaps not the most romantic, but I have to admire their pursuit of absolute manufacturing precision. The logic of choosing ultra-fine-tolerance machining when it's appropriate, and employing people when the human touch is most suited — such as the delicate tasks of hairspring curving, balance wheel truing, positional adjustment and component assembly — is difficult to fault.
In this sense their design and manufacturing ethos is far more German than traditional Swiss, which makes sense as seem to have carried on their born-in-Germany founder's watchmaking philosophy. Even head Patek Philippe honcho Thierry Stern mentioned in a Hodinkee interview:
I wasn't too surprised to read that, as the companies make fundamentally different watches that complement each other well. Their relationship is more symbiotic than competitive, with Patek's products offering beautiful hands-on craftsmanship and little to no overlap with Rolex's essentially-perfected mass production.
Their bespoke dust-free temperature-controlled machining modules are a bit mind-blowing, as are the details of their hairspring production. For a company that I had dismissed, prior to meeting a top watchmaker in 2009, as a mere marketing machine with nothing special behind the curtains, I'm rather stunned at how wrong I was.
Great choice on the new GMT II — it's all you need, and it's the best do-anything watch currently produced, IMHO — and thanks for the engaging post.
Edited by Belligero - 2/19/13 at 8:10am