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Thunder Out of China: Revolution Goes to China, and More

Hello again. This blog coincides with the release of the Spring edition of Revolution USA, so here are some highlights from the issue that is available in-store at Feldmar Watch Company and on newsstands across the country.

To celebrate a big birthday, I led my “Gang of Eight” across Yunnan Province in China to wear watches and ride motorcycles.

“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” – Bruce Lee

I knew that this trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I wanted to cherish every minute of riding in China and sharing this experience with my friends and sons. To do this, I brought a selection of watches of significance with me. I was anxious to put them through their paces and see which watches the riders would prefer.

Tudor Heritage Black Bay – My wife bought me this watch for Christmas the year it came out, and I have loved it ever since. A go-anywhere, do-anything watch, it is perfect for a trip around China.

Armand Nicolet L09 Unique Piece – Powered by a vintage movement from 1957, this watch reminds me of all the years I have been on this earth.

Bovet Sportster Chinese Zodiac – This limited-edition chronograph has a sober black dial adorned with Chinese characters for the hour markers. Perfect for the Middle Kingdom.

Bulgari Octo Solotempo – One of my favorite watches, the Solotempo is the cleanest version of the Octo, an icon of modern watchmaking.

Bulgari Octo Solotempo
Bulgari Octo Solotempo

Ernst Benz Chronoscope PEK – Another limited-edition chronograph with Chinese characters, the vermillion red dial and its intricate markings are really eye-catching.

Shinola Lake Erie Monster – I am a big fan of the Shinola story and have been waiting a long time for them to bring out a mechanical timepiece. The Lake Erie Monster is a dive watch fitted with an automatic Ronda movement – hefty, rugged and built in Detroit.

ArtyA Butterfly Tourbillon Unique Piece and ArtyA Red Dragon Unique Piece – Yvan Arpa brought two of his watches on the trip, a tourbillon and a butterfly wing watch, both of which turned heads and fit in well with our tour.

“The best things in life come in threes, like friends, dreams and memories.” – Mencius

Combining the true loves of my life – motorcycles, watches, family, friends and all things Chinese – resulted in a trip that I will never forget.

Having the watches along for the ride reminded me to cherish every second of every day of the journey, and now every time I see the pictures from the trip I am lost in these fantastic memories.

Challenges and Opportunities

“May you live in interesting times” may or may not be a real Chinese curse (opinions differ), but these certainly are interesting times indeed…

For the watch industry, it has been a series of challenges, one after another. Now, challenges are all about perspective. You can see them as a problem or as an opportunity. Here’s a sneak peek of some of the best comments from my story in Revolution USA.

Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO, Bulgari: “The watch industry is still too conservative. Look at this current trend of the vintage re-editions which are proposed as new creations, meanwhile they are just the result of a ‘zero risk entrepreneurial’ product within a tough economic environment. I consider precisely that those tough moments must definitely be considered as a lever to dare and stimulate creativity.”

Jean-Christophe Babin
Jean-Christophe Babin

Davide Cerrato, Managing Director of Watch Division, Montblanc: “Customers should be most concerned about value. I think more and more is being done in this area, and there remains a lot more to be done. Montblanc is working relentlessly on this aspect, developing products that offer value at every level.”

Gustavo A. Calzadilla, Managing Director in N.A. for Tutima, Corum and Eterna: “Over production and parallel markets is the biggest challenge facing the watch industry. We need to bring production quantities to more reasonable levels and put ‘luxury’ back into the equation. The industry has suffered a loss of credibility.”

Gustavo Calzadilla
Gustavo Calzadilla

Thomas Morf, CEO, Favre-Leuba: “It’s all about values and convictions. Recently a father of a 16-year old came to me and asked me what a good gift for his son would be. Without any hesitation I said, ‘Buy him a timeless and classic Swiss watch,’ even if he’s not into watches. I told him this watch would be something special for the rest of his life. He will always remember his father who gave him this watch.”

Thomas Morf
THomas Morf

Jean-Claude Biver, Head of Watchmaking for LVMH and CEO of TAG Heuer and Hublot: “The biggest challenge is to make the new generation watch lover conscious in a similar way as the last generations. We have to learn to reach the new generation and use their language, their communicating tools and channels.”

Christian Lattmann, CEO, Jaquet Droz: “In my opinion, one of the biggest challenges is to attract younger generations who have many different interests. We must keep dreaming and bringing a lot of emotions through our products, explaining why haute horlogerie is an art.”

My cover story for this issue is on Bulgari and its spectacular Octo. Please check it out. Next time, I’ll go over my favorite watches from the big Baselworld fair. Watch this space.

About The Author: Keith Strandberg


Keith W. Strandberg ( has written about timepieces in many different publications for the past 25+ years. One of the few international journalists living in Switzerland, he has written for the trade extensively as well as for mainstream publications like Variety, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, United Airlines’ Hemispheres, Men’s Vogue, USA Today, Tennis and many more.

Read more from Keith Strandberg

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