And to close our Dear Santa roundup this year, we have the Chief Editor’s picks. We also return to the rationale for making wishlist, and why we do this exercise annually.
Peter Chong makes his Christmas Wishlist for 2023 and the rationale behind this exercise
We do this Dear Santa Wishlist assignment every year, and it has become a tradition for Deployant. But this is not an exercise in frivolity or revisiting lost childhood, but one that is very serious. We ask our writers, and the Chief Editor, to pick what they would like to see as Christmas presents. This will allow you, our dear readers to have a peek and gain an understanding on what drives and excites of us. With this insight, we hope that you may be able to have a feel of our biases. Let’s face it, everybody is biased. And we no more than the next reviewer. But let it be known that at Deployant, our biases are not commercially driven. We do not sell any watches or accessories, new or pre-owned. We do not make collaborations with brands.
We are also not journalists. Not per se. Our role is to share the passion, spread the love, deliver the message and if we may, allow ourselves to add some of the insights we have garnered as long term collectors and media. And with these Dear Santa essays, we hope to arm you with the markers to allow you to more accurately decipher our enthusiasms and criticisms. As we once again reinforce our mantra of “For collectors, by collectors”.
So here is this year’s list from Peter:
Top of my wishlist is the Ferdinand Berthoud FB3. So much to love. The detailing, the level of finishing is absolutely beyond reproach. The concept of the chronometer and the pursuit of excellent timing is totally unchallenged in our minds. I admire the single mindedness and passion of Karl-Friedrich Schuefele. We covered the concepts when I first saw the watch here. And as we stated in the title of that article…my mind was blown! It takes quite a lot for a watch to be able to do that…taken in the context that I have spent more than 30 years looking, examining, playing, talking, and admiring watches. We subsequently did a detailed review, intentionally done by a different writer. And both arrived at the similar conclusions. We further elaborated with a detailed article to explain the whys of the cylindrical hairspring and what it means to ultimate chronometry.
My pick is the rose gold model with the grey/black dial shown above. Retail is SGD 205k, and is by all measures a handsome price, but one which strikes us as fair and very reasonable for a watch so accomplished and well finished as this. This level of finishing is probably only found north of the half million dollar mark. Which, rather perversely, makes the FB3 to be a relative bargain.
This year’s refresh of Louis Vuitton’s 21 year Tambour makes it on my list! This, from a brand which is not usually considered as a high end watchmaker. A Maison that would have been a surprise if I had it in any of my lists, even as recent as last year. Yet this year’s Tambour is here. What changed? I pin this on the key role played by the LVMH Group Chairman’s youngest son, Jean Arnault. Jean is a dyed in the wool watch savant…like most of us here. With deep passion for watches, and coupled with the ability to access the resources one of the largest fortunes, we see LV set to go places. The recent launch of the Louis Vuitton x Rexhep Rexhepi LVRR-01 Chronographe à Sonnerie watch is one interesting direction – collaborating with independent watchmakers to create and realise interesting and sometimes crazy watches. The LV Prize is another. Also the move to position Gerald Genta and Daniel Roth as brands in their own right after years under Bvlgari (also a maison owned by LVMH) is yet another. This is impressive stuff. With him in charge, LV has the disposal of not only the vast resources one of the largest business empires, but also the ability to tap into the technical virtuosity of La Fabrique du Temps and TAG Heuer.
We are excited. And the first product from Jean’s charge as boss of LV is the new Tambour. A new case. Different, yet in keeping with the drum motif of the original Tambour. A new integrated bracelet. Beautifully finished and blessed with suppleness which makes it very comfortable. And a magnificent movement by La Fabrique du Temps.
And pitched at a retail price of SGD 27k for the steel variant, it is fairly priced. Yes, my pick is the monochromatic one as shown, with the grey and silver dial. Magnificent. Quiet, discreet. Beautiful.
Released this year, the Odysseus Chronograph somehow manages to captivate my interests, despite feeling a little lukewarm over the other watches in the Odysseus lineup. The Odysseus Chronograph isn’t merely just the Odysseus with a chronograph module slapped on. A lot of thought has gone into the design of the watch. The rather iconic dial design of the original Odysseus is left unchanged. To achieve this, the chronograph hands and display are centralised. The hidden pushers used for the start/stop/reset function of the chronograph convert to quick-set buttons for the day and date once the crown is pulled out. The movement itself is also entirely brand new and not merely a derivative of the seminal Datograph calibre. It also happens to be the brand’s first automatic chronograph movement. Finishing is top notch, as we have come to expect from Lange.
However, pricing is a bit over the top. At EUR 135k (about SGD 200k) for a steel chronograph, it is a rather high ransom. But the watch is flying off the manufacture…no time spent on shelves…so the demand is high. So who am I to say that it is expensive, but rather to recognise the notion that it is appropriately priced for the market.
For the bonus round, I pick a camera. Not just any camera, but one of the best among the many cameras I have used and experienced over the decades. The Alpa 12 Plus with the amazing Rodenstock Digaron HR32 lens and the equally amazing IQ4 150 from Phase One.
This is not a general purpose camera, but for its intended purpose of shooting architecture and landscapes, it is amazing. Portraiture may be a good use case, but not with the HR32. Perhaps another lens like the Digaron HR90. Both lens can be mounted with its own X-Shutter, and work seamlessly with the IQ4 back. The precision, the feel of operating the camera is tactile and pleasurable, but is deliberate and slow. It taxes the photographer in both skill and discipline. It delivers spectacular results when used right. But yet, despite the superlatives in its intended field of use, this is not a camera for everything. Macros of watches will be a challenge. Any style requiring fast work or capturing motion would be impossible. And it is also not as flexible in pure technical terms as a full featured technical system like the Sinar X, though it is also a lot more compact, lighter, easier and faster to setup.
Total investment for this setup: SGD 90k.
What do you think of my submissions to Santa for him to deliver this Christmas? Would you have picked any of the same? Or perhaps you might be more altruistic, and wish Santa would deliver peace to the world. And also, let us not forget the original message of Christmas: a celebration of the birth of the Christ child who will bring salvation to the world.