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The MECA-10 ranks among the cooler and more novel in-house movements of the last decade. It’s niche, it’s not exactly practical, but once you dig into it, you’ll see that it’s an obscure love letter to mechanics. Ariel has chatted with the “movement engineer” at Hublot who was part of the two-year process of taking it from concept to reality. Now, the Hublot Big Bang MECA-10 “Nicky Jam” wraps that impressive movement in an, ahem, impressive number of diamonds and weird-colored defunct alligators.

It’s a real head-scratcher of a watch for me. At first sight, it looks like a prop from hip-hop videos — and at all the subsequent sights, this impression unpleasantly continues to linger around. But if it’s a bedazzled, “Look at me, did I tell you I got rich fast?” watch that you are after, boy does the MECA-10 “Nicky Jam” pass muster. If you still have a bit of sense left between your pierced ears, you’ll be quick to note that this piece from the top of the Nicky Jam limited-edition food chain is priced at €364,000, making it rather expensive, even by diamond-clad watch standards.

The next question is who, outside of Nicky Jam, would want to drop €364,000 on a watch that pays tribute to Nicky Jam, or anyone outside the manufacturer for that matter? That’s one very expensive way to say: I really am fond of Nicky Jam. For the record, I couldn’t say I have a better understanding or appreciation of six-digit-priced watches attributed to race car drivers, athletes, etc. So, if you are a fan of Nicky Jam and have dropped (or are planning to) €364,000 on this piece — or just €23,800 or €52,900 on either of the two other limited editions — drop a comment below and share why, exactly, because I genuinely am curious.

Where the Hublot Big Bang MECA-10 “Nicky Jam” really shines (ha!) is in the quality of its setting. The setting is so good it is almost wasted on this weird watch. Well, maybe “wasted” is too strong a word. It’s more like Claude Lorrain painting — not the The Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba, but a Nicky Jam concert. In all seriousness, the quality of the setting is easily on par with anything I have seen — and I have seen so many bejeweled watches that I need glasses now.

Having looked at my images and macro images closely, it definitely ranks among the top three insanely bedazzled watches, as far as the quality of the work is concerned. The setting used here to fix the 307 baguette-cut diamonds to the case is called “invisible setting,” as the stones are holding each other in place. This requires extremely thorough separation of the base material, the cuts, and the setting itself — Hublot has its in-house gem-setting atelier in Nyon, so big kudos to the craftspeople there. Many workshops and designs leave lots of space (thick material) around invisibly set stones to leave extra room and overall make the work a bit more safe and easy.

Here, every part of the bezel and case is but a thin veneer of 18k King Gold (Hublot’s red-gold alloy), and the rest is filled to the brim with accurately cut stones. The icing on the cake can be appreciated when the watch is held at just the right angle. When the stones are all set perfectly, their top facets will lay in exactly the same plane, making for a flat reflection on all of them. To see this happen across so many stones in so many different parts of the watch is exceedingly rare because it’s very difficult to achieve — and therefore is a testament to the dexterity of the gem-setters. Top work on what is, at best, a questionable-looking watch.

The MECA-10 movement we have written about, time and again; if you want to nerd out over it, please check out Ariel’s article (linked to in the first paragraph) or this MECA-10 hands-on debut from 2016. In essence, it is a powerful movement, both in terms of looks and performance, with 10 days of power reserve displayed through a complex and proprietary system on the front. If you want a bespoke, genuinely new movement, this is the one to get — and you may want to keep in mind that prices for the MECA-10 start at €19,600 in titanium and, for a bit more, you can get a ceramic-clad version.

Was I smitten when I put the utterly ridiculous Hublot Big Bang MECA-10 “Nicky Jam” on my wrist earlier this year? For sure, I was, and I was awed by the unabashed amounts of bling and diamonds, all pure excess. More to the point, what really impressed me was the work performed on this music video prop watch that was so good it put most others to shame.

I still don’t know who would buy the Hublot Big Bang MECA-10 “Nicky Jam” at a price of €364,000, but hey, what the hell do I know? Anyhow, I tip my hat to Hublot because, as a watch-lover, I appreciate them remaining on the unapologetic and entertaining side of horology. The boring competition that plays it safe will always rank a lot lower in my eyes.

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Not surprisingly, we watch nerds are humbled and awed every time a gifted watchmaker forges a new way to express their love for horology. One can think of virtually anything Abraham-Louis Breguet has done, of Greubel Forsey’s accretion of tourbillons, Aaron Becsei’s making of his own tools and, showing a new face of the brand, Urwerk producing its first fully in-house movement with its integrated Electro Mechanical Control. I have had the chance to spend a fair bit of time with this more recent chapter in forged horological greatness, and so this is our review of the Urwerk EMC Time Hunter X-Ray in grey — and, to my eyes, tank-green.

We’ll get to the electro-mechanical nitty-gritty in a moment, but even without knowing anything about that lot and just by looking at it, one can easily appreciate that the Urwerk EMC Time Hunter X-Ray is a very different watch. The design-savvy will immediately gravitate toward the angular case and its many exceptional details — the chunky exterior is as much about Urwerk’s muscle-flexing as it is a showcase of co-founder Martin Frei’s design talent.

Every exterior component, including the screws, crown, crank, and the caps that cover the service ports have all been coated in grey ceramic that, to me, looks distinctly green. Urwerk doesn’t say much about the coating itself, just that it is normally used for military armor-plating. Because it’s ceramic, it is bound to be extremely hard and scratch-resistant, which should help preserve the beauty of the case for longer, even if no one would (or should) do extreme sports in the 30-meter water resistant EMC.

Then, a peek at the dial reveals Urwerk’s push to achieve Horological Intimidation Level 2.0, as they now have openworked the dial, stressing that this piece of ultra-high-end horology is, by all means, up there with the Richard Milles and other usual suspects — and not just in price. It was not until later that I realized this skeletonization was done to such extent that the watch, at some point around the balance wheel and escapement, is actually fully transparent.

Then, you have all the different texts and gauges and digits — all aptly separated for easy reading and, yet, neatly coordinated in their details. And if all this weren’t enough, there is a massive crown sticking out of the case at the 6 o’clock position and — watch this — an actual crank is fixed onto the right case side. The fact that all this is wrapped in a military-grade ceramic coating really is just the icing on the cake.

Last, but certainly not least, a flip of the EMC Time Hunter X-Ray reveals its incredible caseback view with bright yellow plates and metallic gray components everywhere — all beautifully finished. There is more perceivable depth to this movement than there is to the Grand Canyon. No, really: There is so much tech in so many layers that, if you take a loupe and lift the EMC to your face, you’ll feel like Luke Skywalker as he was flying directly above the surface of the Death Star.

The case of the Urwerk EMC Time Hunter X-Ray is largely crafted from titanium with some bits in steel. It measures 43mm-wide, 51mm-tall and 15.8mm- thick. Despite its largely titanium case and hollowed-out movement, the watch head is of substantial heft — I definitely wouldn’t want to wear a steel version for extended periods. As it is, daily wearability is in no way affected by the substantial weight, but it is on the far end of just right.

The leather-backed, weave-front strap is well made and a neat match to the military-grade exterior but requires a lot of wear before follows the shape of the wrist. The review unit had a black coated buckle, but I remember seeing matching green buckles from Urwerk, so this might just be a peculiarity of this particular piece. Similarly, given that this is a showpiece, the strap has suffered around the crown, as those who handled it before apparently felt inclined to force the strap back and against the crown.

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Behavior trends for luxury watch consumers are changing. Brand marketers and advertisers should take notice. A recent article in The Economist discussed how, in many ways, luxury firms are reporting increasing profits during otherwise poor economic times. Many past studies have shown a direct correlation between increasing wealth and increased spending on luxury goods. While many sectors of the luxury industry are feeling the hurt, some of the world’s largest names in luxury seem to be trending in the opposite financial direction. What is to account for this? The Economist article does not suggest an answer to this riddle. Allow me to suggest one.

Ipropose that luxury consumption habits are changing in regard to why someone purchases a luxury item, in the first place. No, it is not that consumers are abandoning traditional practices, but as a result of current economic times, once less-common behaviors are being amplified, which accounts for the luxury product boom in certain sectors of the industry. First, some background on my thinking.

A number of years ago, an American watch retailer from the Midwest shared a piece of wisdom with me that I’ll never forget. We were in Las Vegas at a trade show and, according to this cheerful member of a then-bustling family-owned watch and jewelery store, “We are in the celebration business.”

As someone who entered the watch industry at a young age, armed mostly with timepiece-product enthusiasm, determination, and little life experience, I never thought of my interest in watches as related to celebrating something. Surely, in the sentimental sense I was “celebrating horology,” but I was really interested in the watches for what they looked like and how they made me feel. I wasn’t considering something important, though, and that is why people make decisions to buy watches — not why they like them (a different question).

The decision to put a big chunk of change down for a luxury item is, in my opinion, a type of bargain you make with society. I’ll elaborate more on that in a moment. As rational consumers, we make the conscious decision to spend far more money than we need to in order to put something really nice-looking on our wrist. The precise reason consumers do this has eluded even luxury marketers for a long time. In fact, the funnel consumers go into, from discovering a particular luxury brand or item to actually buying one, is a bit of a mystery. Marketers may be able to predict at what point in their lives consumers might purchase a luxury item, but they are rarely able to predict what luxury items they will actually buy.

The social bargain we make when purchasing a luxury item is simple. In exchange for making this highly irrational non-utilitarian purchase, either you get to feel something special that exists outside the parameters of the product itself, or society will possibly treat you in a special way because they recognize something you own or are wearing. This basic concept is a core assumption of my larger argument in this article.

What the Midwest watch retailer taught me to always consider is what the consumer is thinking when they decide to make a purchase. What compels a person to go from being interested in a watch and appreciating it from afar to actually owning it? Statistically speaking, consumers purchase something when they feel there is cause to celebrate. There are traditional celebrations such as birthdays, business deals, friendships, anniversaries, promotions, and other life milestones, and there are other types of more subjective celebrations such as, “I’ve earned it” or simply, “I want to celebrate myself to make me feel better.”

For much of the last 50 years, people have purchased watches in order to celebrate something. Assuming a consumer has learned that a wristwatch makes a good trophy with which to celebrate something (and, historically, this was far more ubiquitous than today), there was a good chance they would choose a watch when they have reason to celebrate. Marketers can’t predict celebration moments but, statistically, we know the consumer will probably go through life having at least a few moments to celebrate. This is what kept the watch industry alive through the 1980s, 1990s, and much of the 2000s, thus far.

Luxury fueled by consumer celebration is necessarily reliant on a stable middle class, highly exclusive ultra-wealthy clients, or pool of nouveau riche eager to show the world that they have “made it.”

The notion of a consumer implicitly stating, “I have made it” through their fashion and accessories is actually the intersection between the more traditional celebratory reason for purchasing a wristwatch and the now-trending (though not new), “I have something new to say about my wealth and power” statement consumers on a different part of the spectrum are trying to communicate with their luxury purchases. “I have made it,” or, in other words,“I have arrived” is a statement about social mobility more than it is about personal success or satisfaction. It says, “I went from somewhere worse to somewhere better.” The intersection exists because “I have made it” purchases are a celebratory indulgence, but the resulting messaging value of the item is less about personal satisfaction and more about social proof to indicate one’s status in the membership of “people who have made it.”

Since the world is experiencing an economic recession and wealth isn’t growing as it may have in the past, what would account for luxury purchasing behavior? Evidence already suggests that when people have less money, they also tend to have less to celebrate (or at least less to celebrate with). If a consumer is not spending money on a luxury good to celebrate themselves, then they must, nevertheless, be purchasing it to send a message about themselves.

My belief is that the current trend of luxury spending behavior is meant to allow consumers to send the social message that, “I’m doing OK and not doing poorly” or “I’m one of the rich ones; you can treat me differently because I have money and power.” This suggests a shift from a more inwardly focused reason for purchasing a watch to a more outward reason, which relies on the luxury item’s messaging power.

Where does this messaging power come from? This is where watch marketers will want to take notice. In order for someone to want to spend luxury dollars on something with a strong social message, a number of people need to be educated as to what seeing that brand or model means. Rolex is the perennial good example of this. The brand spends marketing dollars widely to ensure that people grow up seeing the Rolex name and that it is synonymous with success, achievement, and performance. Rolex has seeded the Rolex name far beyond people who can practically afford a Rolex during their lifetime. The result of this global seeding of the name and values is that Rolex’s reputation precedes it entering into a room. Because a population was trained to associate the Rolex name with a set of values, the population readily does so. This form of mass social education is incredibly effective.

The mass education strategy about a product’s luxury meaning isn’t only used by Rolex and isn’t only achievable through decades-long branding strategies (though that is the most secure and lasting version). Brands like Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille, which are also trending today, spend relatively little money on traditional advertising, though you’ll hear their names in rap songs (Rolex has their fair share of hip hop music shoutouts too) and seen worn on magazine covers. What these brands learned is that pop culture stars aren’t just entertainers to today’s youth, they are also business-leader models who teach about lifestyle and how to earn a living.

An Internet-addicted generation that consumes more infotainment than anything else is certainly going to view celebrities more so than business leaders, politicians, and engineers posting on social media. Much of the world is learning about how to find a job and what career to go into from the people they see featured on scripted programming and on social media. It’s expected behavior. What is also expected behavior is social mimicry, where consumers emulate the look and actions of people they want to be like as a shortcut to getting there. Whether or not such copying is a route to success is an open debate (can you “fake it until you make it?”), but it is well-established that consumers engage in this behavior.

What’s Your Perfect Watch? Here’s a 10-Step Plan to Find It.html

Have you ever wondered “What’s the perfect watch for me?” Perhaps you framed the question like this: “Which watch should I buy?” Here’s a 10-step plan to help you find the one that’s perfect for you.

1. If you’re just starting out in the world of watches, visit online communities and ask questions. No, don’t ask “Which watch should I buy.” The forum participants don’t know you, so their advice is likely to be off the mark. Instead, ask specific questions about watches to build your knowledge Ask questions based on the guidelines below. In any online community, keep in mind that the answers may reflect a built-in bias. Regular forum participants may have already formed strong brand allegiances. A site dedicated to a particular brand will be populated by devotees of that brand.

2. Make a list of the features and qualities you seek in a timepiece, prioritize them, and then look for watches that fit your list. Really think about the features. Will you use the watch in the water? Do you need to be able read it in the dark? Do you need a particular complication? Do you need a large date for better legibility? If you like to swap straps, do you need standard lugs? Will you trade overall legibility for a cool look? Are service costs a concern? The list goes on.

3. The more time you devote to the search, the happier you will be in the end. Avoid impulse purchases. Be methodical.

4. If at all possible, do not buy a given watch because you think it will please or impress other people. You can purchase any watch, and people will line up to tell you that you should have purchased their favorite watch instead. Putting your happiness in the hands of others is risky business. Learn to shrug off criticism. Be confident in your choices. The only opinion that counts is yours.

5. Every time you see an image of a watch you like, save it. Try to locate multiple images of the same watch. Don’t focus on professional beauty shots – try to find good live shots. Look at the saved images every day (or more often). Keep a list ranking your favorites. If a watch stays at the top for a while, it may be a winner. On the other hand, once you spot something that bothers you about a watch, you will notice it every time you look at the watch, so you should probably eliminate it from your list.

6. Do your best to pinpoint the two or three things about a watch that really make you like it. Don’t just say “It looks nice” – be specific. Once you do that, you can seek out other watches with those qualities.

7. Be as thorough as possible in your search. Nothing is worse than buying a watch, only to find one you like better the following week. (Though for some, that is a way of life. They are “flippers” or “catch-and- release” collectors who live for the hunt, and this article is not for them.) If you’ve found a watch you really like, visit the watch communities, tell the good people which watch that is, and ask them to recommend similar watches. In this regard, advice from others can prove useful.

8. TRY BEFORE YOU BUY! Try on as many watches as possible. Watches can definitely surprise you once on your wrist. Watches that prove too big, too small, too thick, and/or too heavy generate much buyers’ remorse. If you see a watch you like online, find the same watch locally and try it on. If you can’t find that watch, find one that’s close in size and try it on. If you buy long distance without a test drive, make sure you can return the watch, no questions asked.

9. When you’re trying on watches, pay close attention to how they make you feel. Ideally, one watch will “call to you” from among the many you’re considering. That may be the one to buy, assuming it continues calling over a period of time. Don’t get married after (or during) the first date.

10. Once you’ve made a decision, try it on for a few days (the decision, not the watch). Act as though you’ve already purchased the watch, and your search has ended. Any other watch you were thinking of buying is now beyond reach. Are you still happy with your choice?

Finding the perfect watch can be a challenge, but the hunt is part of the fun, and the right choice can bring years of enjoyment.