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    On The Prowl

    Luxury On Loan

January 14, 2017

The power of hashtags: Omega embraces a social media phenomenon

For the past 5 years, the term #speedytuesday has been used by watch enthusiasts and collectors alike in showcasing their appreciation for Omega Speedmaster watches across the globe. In tribute to such activity, Omega released a limited edition timepiece, encapsulating the most popular elements of their iconic Speedmaster Moonwatch design from across the years (2017 marks their 60th annivesary).

Another limited edition, what’s so great about this one you might say? Well the difference this time was that all numbered pieces were quickly reserved within the first few hours of it being released to pre-order via the Omega website on Tuesday 11th January at 12noon Swiss time. In previous limited edition releases by Omega, it has always been tricky for the fans to secure a timepiece as precedent on waiting lists tend to go to Authorised Dealers or repeat customers who bulk buy to sell on privately at a profit. To combat this, Omega wanted to allow individuals the opportunity to purchase directly through their website, although not everyone was lucky enough to secure what will no doubt be another fabulous edition their Moonwatch collection.

 

Special features of the Omega Speedy Tuesday

 

The watch will be limited to 2012 pieces, marking the year when the phrase was first began. The design takes its main influence from the Speedmaster Alaska III model, which was produced by Omega for NASA in 1978. Unique features include the “reverse panda” white opaline-silvery sub dials set against the classic black main dial. The Omega logo appears in a retro vintage style and the glass comes in that of the iconic Hesalite crystal.

The watch movement will be that of the manual wind 1861 calibre, all housed in a 42mm case that has a matt finish stainless steel. The caseback has the coveted seahorse medallion stamped, plus includes a limited edition wording “Speedy Tuesday Anniversary, A Tribute to Alaska Project III” and “R A D I A L” along with the piece number. It will come with a brown leather strap with vintage look stitching and an additional black and white NATO strap. Presented in a leather watch roll with a strap changing tool as well.

 

We all agree that it will be one of the must have watches for this Summer, and those lucky enough to have reserved theirs will surely be grinning with pride when they collect it – Mr. Woolfe will be looking to get his paws on one too! Full technical info can be found at the official Omega website.

 

October 11, 2016

Smartwatches vs. Mechanical: Are the old ways the best?

For those of you who have been hiding under a rock, September marked the global product release date for Apple, ranked as the world’s most valuable brand (Forbes 2016) and as part of their updated offering seeing the release of their Series 2 Apple Watch.

Sources indicate that smartwatch vendors shipped 3.5 million units in Q2, down from over 5 million the previous year. Interestingly, of these figures apparently Apple shipped 1.3 million smartwatches so clearly being the major force behind such sales. Most smartwatches price themselves around £600 mark, though are they really what they are cracked up to be? Mr. Woolfe researched into what the pros and cons are so you can sleep easy.

Mr. Woolfe’s 7 key points to consider
  1. Charging issues – consumers find charging their smartwatches difficult or even boring. Choosing an automatic self-winding or kinetic watch simply means a small amount of physical movement to get it ticking.
  1. Technology – as with any hardware or software, things can go wrong. No such issues with mechanical watches, however, the inner workings will be subject to a service around every five or so years
  1. Longevity – servicing means that a mechanical watch in theory will last for a very long time. The materials used   should stand the test of time, with vintage watches out there still functioning with all of their original parts. Lifecyles    for smartwatches are probably eight years max with the battery difficult to replace, so in essence the kit is pretty    much a disposable product.
  1. Cost & Materials – although on the exterior smartwatches can share a mix of metals (steel and precious), the insides are clearly digitally orientated. The collaboration with Apple and Hermes is interesting example of two powerhouse brands aiming for the best in luxury elements, although with obvious limitations. With mechanical timepieces, the sky   is the limit for those who can afford it, so intricacy and use of unique or rare materials is down to the watchmakers imagination.

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  1. Versatility – with digital there are multiple capabilities with the techonology covering fitness data, NFC and contactless pay. Having said that, customised add-ons to the caseback of mechanical watches like Chronos or the BarclayPay loop in the leather strap of certain Mondaine watches, bridge such gaps.
  1. Customisation – mechanical watches nowadays can not only demonstrate their exclusivity through being limited or numbered pieces, but also have the ability to be fully individualised. Some great companies include Bamford, Titan Black and Pro Hunter, all unique in their style and quality. Digital does have the ability to accessorise or even change the dials in a much more convenient manner i.e. TAG Heur Connected, however, some other brands lack in HD pixels so therefore detract on the true beauty of the real thing.
  1. Investment – even a decent chronograph by a reputable Swiss brand will mean a mechanical timepiece will appreciate in its intrinsic value providing it is kept in good condition. The same cannot be guaranteed with a digital watch, unless  it has some sort of collectors appeal from its previous owner i.e. celebrity association.

 

Overall, if you are geared more towards a wear and tear sports or fitness focused watch, the smartwatch might be the option for you and even showing signs of targeting the “Luxe-wear” market for those who wish to spend on expensive materials. However, hands down, if you are looking for sophistication, pedigree and a DNA history of a true timepiece the mechanical watch clearly wins.

 

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One thing to remember is that cost wise a luxury mechanical watch is not out of reach, as renting with Mr. Woolfe allows you to achieve that lifestyle without breaking the bank!

September 24, 2016

Woolfe about town: Upcoming events

IWC & 60th BFI London Film Festival – 5th to 16th October 2016

IWC Schaffhausen supports the BFI London Film Festival for the third time in partnership with American Express as Official Time partner. This year they launch a Filmmaker Bursary Award with an award of £50,000 presented to an outstanding British writer, director or writer/director with the recipient of the Award receiving their prize at the IWC Gala Dinner on the 4th October 2016, the evening before the opening of the BFI London Festival.

To celebrate the partnership with BFI they also launched a limited-edition Pilot’s Spitfire Chronograph Edition (Ref. IW387812) timepiece. With only 60 watches produced, each one will be numbered on the case back, alongside the inscription “BFI Film Forever”. The timepiece features the IWC in-house 89365-calibre movement alongside a chronograph and flyback function, stainless steel, blue alligator strap.

 

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Salon QP – 3rd to 5th November 2016, London

The UK’s leading watch exhibition returns for its 8th year and will be held at the prestigious Saatchi Gallery on Kings Road, which has been home to the event since 2011. It will host and showcase no less than 80 of the world’s finest watch brands over a three day extravaganza that includes workshops, demonstrations and seminars.

Mr. Woolfe will be attending and we look forward to meeting talented watchmakers, experts, collectors alike at the SW3 venue. Make sure you follows us as we will be updating through our social media channels via Instagram, Facebook and in-moment Snapchat feeds!

For more information and to book tickets head over to Salon QP’s Eventbrite hub.

 

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And events for next year

SIHH – 16th to 20th January 2017, Geneva

The “Salon International De La Haute Horlogerie” host their private industry only event for the 27th time in January bringing global watchmaking excellence to the heart of Geneva. Last year 24 major brands exhibited their fine watch collections to representatives from the professional distribution industry and media in an atmosphere dedicated to luxury timepieces and setting the watch trends that will follow for the year.

One key difference for 2017 being that it opens its doors to the general public on its last day which will mean that for the first time in its history, the general public will get a chance to experience the creative passion and heritage in the birthplace of watchmaking. Check out the highlights from SIHH 2016 and a flavour for the 2017 event.

 

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September 20, 2016

Boom and bust for luxury watch brands: Is watch hire the next big thing?

Britain’s vote to leave the EU resulted in an increase in sales for luxury watch and jewellery products for July and August due to the weak pound boosting tourist spending. Some watches can be acquired for 20-25% cheaper when purchased in the UK than buying the same item overseas. The Mr. Woolfe team certainly noticed a higher proportion of wealthy shoppers from the Far East in London’s watch boutiques this summer, some even buying multiple timepieces in one visit! Indicating now is a good time to be a collector in the current economic climate.

High sales in the UK due to the de-valued pound seems to be quite the reverse in once buoyant regions like Hong Kong, with weakening demand partly due to a Government crackdown on corruption and excess in China. Global geo-political developments, like Brexit, have clearly impacted the personal luxury products industry with the brands facing challenges in controlling their product offering across certain markets. For watch brands this will most certainly result in an adjustment in prices to reduce currency fluctuation advantages that allow customers to benefit by purchasing overseas. If industry rumours are to be believed, Rolex (a key benchmark player) plan to increase their prices by Q4 this year. This will put off UK buyers that may have had their sights on a high value item, only to have a further 10% added to their purchase.

rolex_submariner_hulk_london_pricetagRolex “Hulk” £6,050 RRP (Rolex.com), however, demand and waiting lists are commanding higher pre-owned prices.

Is luxury watch hire the next big thing?

A recent survey by Credit Suisse estimates that luxury watch sales have fallen by a mid-to-high single-digit percentage in the past two years, and they think those declines will continue falling into 2017 before they get better. Exports to the UK of Swiss watches fell by 26% for June. Asia markets indicated that inventory levels with wholesalers were and still are higher than previously thought—with the approximate value around CHF 2.2 billion. Similar inventory overbuild reports on a global level ring true with retailers around the world reporting high stock levels and sales slowing down for the likes of Richemont and Hermes International according to The Guardian a couple of weeks ago.

According to several sources tough times are ahead for Swiss watchmakers with global demand for luxury timepieces falling for several reasons. It appears that in the current climate consumers feel that they cannot justify a grand purchase, or perhaps find other new trends appealing (e.g. the rise in the popularity of smart-watches) or simply deciding not to buy a watch at all. Obviously this will continue to effect luxury brands, however, a solution certainly lies with a bespoke watch rental service that can open up multiple opportunities to both high-end brands and watch enthusiasts.

Mr. Woolfe allows those wanting to acquire that must have timepiece without having to worry about hurting their bank balance. With the importance of getting the most pleasure per pound, why not chose the luxury hire option and embrace the lifestyle you really want. Register with Mr. Woolfe for further updates.

Luxury on loan, the sensible option and win-win for all!

May 5, 2016

Asprey and Rolex exclusive London event: New Baselworld 2016 luxury watch collections

Renowned watch and luxury lifestyle blogger Anish (WatchAnish), synonymous for his Instagram success, cordially invited Mr. Woolfe to attend the strictly limited London event, labelled ‘The Future Classics Exhibition’.

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The invite only event brought two iconic brands together, legendary luxury watch brand Rolex and the iconic British jewellery house Asprey across a two-day event held at Asprey’s New Bond Street store in early May. This was the first time Rolex had displayed its collections of it newest 2016 fleet within the UK. We were joined by various industry contacts, Rolex fans and prominent watch collectors who gave Q&A insights – Claude Sfeir and James Marks.

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Which luxury watch to choose?

Mr. Woolfe got to try on all of the new collection, just a shame we could not take any of watches home and had to settle for the pre-order client lists! All of the unique timpieces that were on display were worthy of any dapper gentlemens wrist, though if we had to narrow the ranges down, the ones that we liked were:

Air-King – Revisiting the spirit of aeronautical heritage and homage to the original Rolex oyster. Black dial with oversize white gold 3, 6 and 9 numerals and sporting the distinctive Rolex logo in green and yellow.

Cosmograph Daytona – Born for speed, the racing icon now has a monobloc Cerachrom black bezel which comes in white “Stormtrooper” dial or the all black “Vader” style dial both on 904L steel Oysterlock bracelets. There are also the blingtastic all yellow gold with green dial and white gold with blue dial editions, both having red accents on the sub-dials.

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Yacht-Master – Their emblematic nautical watch is jazzed up with a Chocolate sunray dial, 18ct Everose gold bezel and Rolesor combination steel and rose gold bracelet. The Platinum version bezel, gets a Rhodium sunray dial, with turquoise seconds hands which makes it look even more sporty and elegant.

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Mr. Woolfe will definitely be reviewing these fantastic Rolex 2016 editions and aiming to add these to our portfolio of luxury watch rentals. Watch this space!