Contributors: Ticking into the Future
The future has become au courant in watch designs, says senior editor Laurie Kahle, who writes about HD3 Complication’s Vulcania and F.P. Journe’s Centigraphe Souverain, two of the more than two dozen products and places featured in this issue’s Private Preview 2008 special section. "We’re seeing a lot of these over-the-top designs that are very dramatic, almost theatrical," Kahle says. "The new generation of watchmakers is inventing machines that defy convention and incorporate a lot of fantasy, almost like Breguet did with his wild ideas in the 18th century."
F.P. Journe’s watch inspires awe for its appearance but even more so for its capabilities. "Picture the flying seconds hand jumping around the subdial once every second," Kahle says, pointing to a photo of the Centigraphe Souverain, which can measure ¹/100th of a second. Although the watch incorporates the latest technology, its styling is understated, which is consistent with Journe’s designs. "He’s a purist," she says. "He’s constantly getting patents and doing these amazing things, but it’s not about screaming, ‘Look how crazy this is!’ He doesn’t have to scream; people will lean in to hear his whisper."
Kahle notes that the appeal of audacious watches such as the Vulcania is not limited to younger collectors. "Watch collecting is a little like collecting art," she says. "You may start with the old masters, but eventually you crave something fresh and more challenging, so you start experimenting with contemporary artists."
Anyone with an interest in watches can enjoy the Breguet museum in Paris, according to contributing editor Jill Newman. She recently toured the facility, as well as the watchmaker’s new flagship store in Paris, and writes about the company’s new Tradition Fusee Tourbillon for Private Preview 2008. "The museum makes it so easy to learn about the past and really appreciate that these complicated watches were made so long ago," Newman says. "Even if you’re not a watch aficionado, you can still enjoy the art of watchmaking and the history of Breguet."
Senior correspondent Jack Smith was familiar with the potential pitfalls of car rallies prior to participating in the Hong Kong–to–Beijing classic car ride he covers in "Beijing or Bust". Several years ago, also while on assignment for Robb Report, Smith and actor James Brolin—for reasons we cannot remember—attempted to drive a pair of Porsches across the Mojave Desert, from Southern California into Nevada. "An hour out, I was driving along a lava field with the Porsche representative, and we blew a tire," Smith recalls. "I said to the Porsche guy, ‘Well, I’m sure you have plenty of spare tires, given the terrain we’re going over.’ And he said, ‘No, actually, we have one extra spare.’ So that didn’t bode particularly well."
Likewise, the China rally got off to an inauspicious start, but Smith and his fellow drivers persevered and eventually completed their 2,500-mile trek to the Great Wall. "Once everybody settled down, basically, it was quite simple," Smith says. "We’d come this far, now let’s just do whatever it takes to get to our goal, which in a way is the essence of rallying, especially vintage rallying."
Simplicity abounds at the Oldonyo Laro estate in Kenya, says senior editor Sheila Gibson Stoodley, who recounts her visit in "The Pride of Kenya". Laro primarily uses candlelight (the estate burns through 500 candles a week) instead of electric lights. The rustic lighting is an ironic feature, Gibson Stoodley notes, given that the patriarch of the family who owns Laro also owns an oil terminal in the country of Georgia. "He thinks candlelight is romantic. And it can be quite beautiful eating dinner by candlelight," she agrees. "But reading by candlelight—not so much."