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9thsymph

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Is this a recent pic? I recall a story many years ago where Putin visited a power plant (or some other industrial place) and one of the workers commented on his watch. Vladimir looked down at his wrist, took off his watch and gave it to the guy. I thought it was a Blancpain Aqualung.

On perhaps a related note, I think there is a video of Sarkozy walking along a barrier of sorts, shaking hands with the public. He very slyly removes his watch and puts it in his pocket (so that the watch won’t be taken/seen?).
 

smittycl

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Is this a recent pic? I recall a story many years ago where Putin visited a power plant (or some other industrial place) and one of the workers commented on his watch. Vladimir looked down at his wrist, took off his watch and gave it to the guy. I thought it was a Blancpain Aqualung.
I remember that anecdote. No idea on the pic date. I’m sure he has an extensive watch collection.
 

TheFoo

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Many other frog independents will - Duret, etc. ABP is the one that seemed most open to customization (scale size, amount of padding, etc.), since watch straps are their specialty, although I don't think they're the best out there. They are pretty good though.
ABP quality is the worst of all the three I mentioned, but they also have the most hide and configuration options.

Camille Fournet has also become frustratingly corporate. They want to be a luxury brand.
 

RJman

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ABP quality is the worst of all the three I mentioned, but they also have the most hide and configuration options.

Camille Fournet has also become frustratingly corporate. They want to be a luxury brand.
I can't disagree.
 

Ambulance Chaser

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Is this a recent pic? I recall a story many years ago where Putin visited a power plant (or some other industrial place) and one of the workers commented on his watch. Vladimir looked down at his wrist, took off his watch and gave it to the guy. I thought it was a Blancpain Aqualung.
According to this article, Putin has owned at least three Aqualungs. He gave away two and threw one into wet cement.
 

bdavro23

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Is this a recent pic? I recall a story many years ago where Putin visited a power plant (or some other industrial place) and one of the workers commented on his watch. Vladimir looked down at his wrist, took off his watch and gave it to the guy. I thought it was a Blancpain Aqualung.
 

Dino944

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On perhaps a related note, I think there is a video of Sarkozy walking along a barrier of sorts, shaking hands with the public. He very slyly removes his watch and puts it in his pocket (so that the watch won’t be taken/seen?).
He was known for wearing some nice watches, Rolex DJ and Daytonas, Patek perpetual, and I think a Breitling.
 

RJman

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He was known for wearing some nice watches, Rolex DJ and Daytonas, Patek perpetual, and I think a Breitling.
Carla, who comes from a billionaire family, bought him some blingy watches, including a Breguet IIRC.
 

dan'l

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According to this article, Putin has owned at least three Aqualungs. He gave away two and threw one into wet cement.
Nice article. I liked this part:

...while all the official portraits of Putin that show a wristwatch are of the Blancpain, which is reputedly known as the “Putin Blancpain” in Russia.

Doesn‘t quite roll off the tongue like “Paul Newman Daytona,” though.
 

dan'l

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Ambulance Chaser

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I just made an appointment with the DC Hermes boutique to see the new H08 model this coming Saturday morning. Wish me (or more accurately, my credit card) good luck. I fear the watch-buying moratorium may be coming to an end.
 

Dino944

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I just made an appointment with the DC Hermes boutique to see the new H08 model this coming Saturday morning. Wish me (or more accurately, my credit card) good luck. I fear the watch-buying moratorium may be coming to an end.
If they have it on a bracelet, I'd be curious to know your thoughts about it on the bracelet. Looking forward to reading your impressions after you've tried it on. Wishing you good luck on your adventure!
 

Phileas Fogg

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I just made an appointment with the DC Hermes boutique to see the new H08 model this coming Saturday morning. Wish me (or more accurately, my credit card) good luck. I fear the watch-buying moratorium may be coming to an end.
I’m looking forward to your review. Can’t believe Hermès is still making people make an appointment. I suppose I can’t blame them.
 

TheFoo

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I’ve been learning a lot about case finishing and polishing techniques, which has imparted a new understanding of how special Patek’s case work really is.

For some background, I noticed a defect (possibly a self-inflicted one) in the bezel of my Calatrava. A portion (about a quarter of it) is rounded off at the edge and lower than the rest of the bezel. I believe this likely happened as a result of overzealous hand-polishing on my part when trying to remove a couple of deeper scratches. Otherwise, it could have been the AD’s fault and I just never noticed it. Unlikely it came from Patek that way.

Anyway, of course, now I am obsessed with getting it fixed. The watch is currently with Patek for assessment, but I am 99% certain of the outcome: they will offer to polish down the bezel and whole case to match. I don’t like this approach because it will take away considerable material and re-profile the entire watch. Yet, Patek does not offer more intensive restoration (via laser welding) unless it is a much older piece or the damage is much worse. They do not weld material back onto rounded edges to restore them.

So, assuming I’m right, I need to pursue another path: an independent case restorer.

As you guys know, I used LA Watchworks to work on my Daytona case. Don’t take my word for it, but if you read around you’ll find that nobody in the world does better case refinishing and restoration on Rolexes. In fact, of the dozen or so well-known European and American case restorers I’ve spoken to, that seems to be the consistent consensus.

However LAWW will not help with my Calatrava! They looked at two dozen photos, studied the case construction for a week, and ultimately said they simply lack the expertise to get at the bezel from all angles without risking catastrophic case damage. As it turns out, each case restorer has his own specialized (often self-designed) tools and LAWW’s are specifically geared toward Rolex cases.

Now, LAWW will handle other non-Rolex watches, including a large number of Langes and Royal Oaks, but those all have cases that are all highly modular in construction and have designs that lend themselves to machine finishing. For example, the Royal Oak is time consuming to properly polish because of all the facets, but apparently it is quite easy to do technically: (1) the angles are all straight and (2) the bezel comes off.

The problem with the Calatrava is that the bezel and middle case are actually one piece! That means the side or the bezel (perpendicular to the flat plane of the middle case) cannot be polished with a lapping machine—you’d risk damaging the lugs.

Why on earth does Patek build cases this way? Chiefly because you can make a thinner case if you don’t need to design it for screwing-on a bezel. It is also the more traditional, artisanal way to do it.

As I’ve been learning, the skill involved in the case making is tremendous and requires a lot more hand work than most other makers deploy. It also requires specialized equipment. For example, to get at the side of the bezel, they turn the case on a lathe while someone free floats a knife-like tool with diamond paste over the surface as it spins. They have to do this without hitting the lugs! Then they have to hand-polish each case with wooden sticks and buffing wheels to finish them off. In comparison, typical Lange construction includes a removable bezel and can be polished mostly by machine.

So other than a greater appreciation for Patek, where does that leave me? There are no U.S. firms that can do the restoration work on my case. They all said: only Patek knows how to do this.

Apparently, the best case restorers are in Italy. A number of firms combine highly specialized and expensive machinery with artisanal hand-polishing skills to mimic factory finishing. I’m speaking with three of the best ones. Two have expressed concern that Patek construction is very difficult to work with but are willing to try. One is still assessing.

I’ve also spoken to a watchmaker in Austria who is the eastern European servicing center for Audemars, JLC, IWC, etc. When he saw my watch case, he put me in contact with their head case restorer. Really smart and competent guy. Refinishes Royal Oaks in his sleep. He’s spent the past week studying how to handle my Calatrava. Apparently, there is a particular piece of diamond polishing equipment be would need to borrow. Waiting to hear back from him.

Anyway, will know more about my options in the next few days.

In the meantime: kudos to Patek.
 
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