Saturday, 31 August 2013

Urwerk EMC - Performance at Your Command

The Urwerk EMC - Electronic Mechanical Control. A watch that allows the owner to measure the accuracy of the watch and then make adjustments to fine tune the watch to function better.

A definite departure from the now "normal" expectation of Urwerk's complicated rotating discs. This creation is intended to expand their line of offering in the world of high complication. Traditionally, an owner needs to have a watch timing machine to tell how well regulated the watches are. And even then, one needs to open up the watch to regulate it thereafter. The EMC does all that without having to open the watch!

Development took three years - one year to design and develop a balance wheel that will allow "optical" measurements and another 2 years to put everything together. Felix Baumgartner - the technical wizard and co-founder of Urwerk said he had to go through several designs of the balance wheel and finally settled for a totally flat balance wheel. The movement also incorporates a serial twin barrel bearing 80 hours power reserve. Packed into a 43x51mm titanium steel case, the watch is very wearable. The 4 o'clock dial displays the hours and minutes while the 2 o'clock dial presents the seconds. The 8 o'clock dial shows the power reserve and the 11 o'clock dial is the timing deviation indicator.
Urwerk EMC photo UrwerkEMC01.jpg

The heart of the timing machine in the EMC is a computer - an electronic oscillator. When the start button is depressed, the optical sensor takes the measurement over 3 seconds and the results are compared against the oscillator to obtain the most accurate measurement possible. The results are then shown on the dial (10 o'clock position) indicating +20 to -20 seconds per day deviation. The wearer then makes the adjustment with a tool at the back of the watch. The computer is found to the right side (yellow colour) of the words Fine Tuning.
Urwerk EMC Case Back photo UrwerkEMCCaseBack03.jpg

A brilliant idea! A fully interactive mechanical watch. The oscillator may be electronic but the watch movement and the regulation is fully mechanical. The oscillator does not affect the performance in anyway other than to measure the rate. The rest of the watch is just a regular mechanical marvel.
Urwerk EMC Movement photo UrwerkEMCMovement03.jpg

To power the oscillator, a micro-generator is also built into the watch. The crank shaft on the side of the watch allows the wearer to wind it to power the generator. 10 to 20 winds later, the generator is fully powered.
Urwerk EMC Frontwith Crank Shaft photo UrwerkEMC03.jpg

This is definitely a first the the watch industry. A wearable timing machine that also allows the wearer to self-regulate. Felix told me that Urwerk likes to push boundaries and the EMC clearly shows that Urwerk is setting the pace. The movement is called UR-EMC and is in-house developed. The manual winding movement comes with Côtes de Genève finishing.
Urwerk EMC Case Back photo UrwerkEMCCaseBack01.jpg

And finally a wristshot of the EMC and the UR-210 on Felix.
Felix Baumgartner photo FelixBaumgartner01.jpg

Thanks to The Hourglass for making the shoot possible. And thanks to Felix an Urwerk for making time to share this exciting development.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Urwerk EMC - An Artistic Impression

The Urwerk EMC. A watch that allows the owner to measure and self regulate the accuracy.

A sneak preview of the new Electronic Mechanical Control (EMC) Watch by Urwerk. A beautifully hand drawn EMC by Martin Frei one half of the dynamic duo in Urwerk.
Urwerk EMC Drawing photo UrwerkEMCDrawing.jpg

Live pictures of the watch and full report coming up!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Changi Village - Sinar Murni

Changi Village for many is our daily haunt for food be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. And after one year renovation, the hawkers' centre was reopened earlier part of 2013. And with all renovated hawkers' centre, prices have gone up too. There are several stalls I frequent in CV and I shall start with my favorite stall for lunch - Sinar Murni.

Sinar Murni operates during lunch hours and typically opens around noon. Serving Malay cuisine, I love their Mee Soto, Tahu Goreng and the goreng pisang. They also serve Mee Rebus and curry puff too but I leave that for another day.
Sinar Murni photo SinarMurni01.jpg

Today, I feature the tahu goreng. What I like about their tahu goreng is that they start from scratch. The taukwa is deep fried and while that sits in the fryer, makcik makes the sauce. First the crushed peanuts, brown sugar, some finely cut banana flower and then the tamarind juice. Fresh garlic and some fresh chili.
Tahu Goreng Sauce photo SinarMurniTahuGoreng01.jpg

The taukwa is cut into cubes and blanched bean sprouts and sliced cucumbers are added on top. Then the sauce is slathered over the vegetables.
Tahu Goreng photo SinarMurniTahuGoreng02.jpg

The sauce is the killer. Instead of using pre-made satay gravy like some stalls do, they prepare it when you order. The amount of freshly ground peanuts and fresh garlic gives the sauce a kick. The taukwa is piping hot and each bite mixed with the sauce is just heavenly… at least for me.
Tahu Goreng photo SinarMurniTahuGoreng03.jpg

Operated by three sisters, they never fail to show up everyday except during the Ramadan period where they take a break. What is also nice is the fried snacks - goreng pisang, keledek (sweet potato), samosa and spring roll.
Sinar Murni Snacks photo SinarMurniSnacks01.jpg

On this occasion, I could not eat much more so just stayed with the tahu goreng. The bananas they use are what they call pisang nipah - small varietal. A little dense and not so sweet. I shall do another blog on their fried items. I know some friends prefer the "Chinese" style goreng pisang where they use very tempura type flour as the outer coating. For me, I prefer the original style. More of that to come.

Visit Sinar Murni at Changi Village Hawkers' Centre, Block 3, Stall 01-75. They are located at the market side right behind the bus terminus.

Friday, 23 August 2013

My Running Route - Flora & Fauna

The regular Lower & Upper Peirce Reservoir running route offers more than just an exercise location. Plenty of nice view to distract you and keep you distracted.

Every now and then, you get to spot some nice trees - in this case the cannon ball tree. DOn't ask me what the scientific names are... don't know.
Trees Along Run Route photo TreesAlongRunRoute01.jpg

And this one I know not… Help! What is this tree?
Trees Along Run Route photo TreesAlongRunRoute02.jpg

This one I know - plenty along my jogging route - The Flame of the Forest. They almost always have ferns growing on them. When in full bloom, they have bright red flowers, hence the name. But I have seen some yellow varietals here too.
AMK Ave 5 photo AngMoKioAve501.jpg

Then there are the flowers and plants too…
Flora & Fauna photo FlowerAtLowerPeirce03.jpg

A nice hanging orchid - I think...
Flora & Fauna photo FlowerAtLowerPeirce01.jpg

And what looks like peppercorns.
Flora & Fauna photo FlowerAtLowerPeirce02.jpg

Another orchid.
Flora & Fauna photo FlowerAtLowerPeirce04.jpg

And this one. Vibrant colors and long filaments.
Flowers Along Run Route photo FlowerAtLowerPeirce06.jpg

And a toadstool too.
Toadstool Along Run Route photo FlowerAtLowerPeirce07.jpg

And long the jogging route, you get some interesting find like the monitor lizard which I had posted earlier on. Thanks much to my wife Gina who took some nice pictures shown here. She is the one with green fingers and interest in the flora.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Harry Winston - Opus 12

The Opus series of watches by Harry Winston started in 2000 is one of the most exotic watch collaboration in the history of mechanical watchmaking.

Until of course Max Busser came along with MB&F. The Opus series features watch making at its finest - matching established watchmakers with the House of Harry Winston and developing one of a kind, limited edition timepiece that is instantaneously recognizable. Some of the more notable Opus are Opus 3 by Vianney Halter, Opus 5 by Felix Baumgartner, Opus 6 by Greubel Forsey and Opus 7 by Andreas Strehler. Today I feature the Opus 12 developed with Emmanuel Bouchet.
Harry Winston Opus 12 Dial Side photo HWOpus12DialSide02.jpg

The watch has a small central sweeping seconds and with retrograde 5 minute counter. Just beneath the retrograde minute is the power reserve indicator. There are 12 indices representing the hour and also the 5 minute.
Harry Winston Opus 12 Dial Side photo HWOpus12DialSide01.jpg

So how does one tell time with the Opus 12? Notice the blued indices on the level and twelve o'clock markers? One is shorter (11) than the other. The shorter blue marker indicates the hours. The longer blue index indicates the minutes. In this instance, time is 11.02. Notice the gears just below the bezel? When the retrograde minutes hits 5, the blue index at twelve will rotate down and the blue index at the 1 o'clock position will rotate up signifying 11.05. I did not manage to take a video of the changing indices but I can tell you they are quite marvelous to watch.
Harry Winston Opus 12 Dial Side photo HWOpus12DialSide03.jpg

On the movement side, the finishing is evidently fine and houses the hand wound movement which possesses a 32 hours power reserve. Limited to 120 pieces, this white gold piece is massive on the wrist but sits well. The piece we reviewed is a working piece.
Harry Winston Opus 13 Movement Side photo HWOpus12MovementSide01.jpg

For more information, kindly go to the HW webpage. There you can find a link to the video of the watch. Authorized retailer is The HourGlass.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

I Want French Pancakes, like at IHOP

There are a few places in SFO that I frequent whenever I am there. Just like Sean Penn in I Am Sam - I hardly miss my pancake fix at IHOP.

I wish IHOP - International House of Pancakes will make their presence here in Singapore. They will have a fan in me for sure! And my all time favorite is the Double Blueberry Pancake. I never miss that whenever I go to IHOP. I normally visit the outlet at South San Francisco, very close to the SFO Airport.
iHop South SFO photo iHopSouthSanFrancisco01.jpg

When I am feeling for a hearty breakfast, I normally ask for the combo meal plus an additional 2 double blueberry pancakes. That's why I always put on the pounds when I go to SFO. Gluttony gets the better of me… Comes with 2 eggs done to your liking, choice of ham or bacon or in this case Canadian ham, hash browns and 2 pancakes of your choice.
iHop Breakfast Combo photo iHopSouthSanFrancisco05.jpg

And the pièce de résistance - the double blueberry pancake. Four of it!
iHop Double Blueberry Pancake photo iHopSouthSanFrancisco02.jpg

Never and I say never miss the double blueberry pancake. IHOP pancakes are fluffy and the blueberry compote is to die for. Whipped cream right on top of the pancake, a sprinkling of icing sugar and when you cut the pancake right down the middle, the blueberry compote just oozes down. All I can say is it is heavenly… Yummy!
iHop Double Blueberry Pancake photo iHopSouthSanFrancisco04.jpg

And if that is not enough, there is always more syrup on the side. But I like it just the way they serve it. No extras required. Forget about the calories, just enjoy the pancakes.
iHop Syrup photo iHopSouthSanFrancisco03.jpg

I can do IHOP for breakfast three days in a row. If pancake is your thing, IHOP is your place. My regular haunt is at 316 South Airport Boulevard, South San Francisco, CA 94080.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Harry Winston Ocean Jumping Hours Tourbillon

The latest offering by Harry Winston in the Ocean collection is the Jumping Hours Tourbillon.

Combining two complications in the watch, Harry Winston has pulled this one off very well. The watch is well constructed and finishing is what one would expect from a high end timepiece. The tourbillon is held in place by two bridges.
Harry Winston Jumping hour Tourbillon photo HWJumpingHoursTourbillonDialSide02.jpg

On the dial side, the minute hands circles around the dial and is indicated by the red triangular hand while the jumping hours is located at the 12 o'clock position. The jump is instantaneous on the hour.
Harry Winston Jumping hour Tourbillon photo HWJumpingHoursTourbillonDialSide01.jpg

The tourbillon is well finished and the bridges look equally refined.
Harry Winston Jumping hour Tourbillon photo HWJumpingHoursTourbillonCloseUpTrb02.jpg

The movement back is as interesting as the front dial. The forty one jewel manual winding movement is the calibre 4401. The power reserve indicator is at the back and the watch has a power reserve of 110 hours powered by twin barrels. Pardon the plastic covering on the sapphire case back.
Harry Winston Jumping hour Tourbillon photo HWJumpingHoursTourbillonMovementSide01.jpg

Another look at the movement side.
Harry Winston Jumping hour Tourbillon photo HWJumpingHoursTourbillonMovementSide02.jpg

Limited to 100 pieces in rose gold and another 100 pieces in white gold. Please see my other post on Ludovic Ballouard and Harry Winston's Opus 13.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

My Exercise Regime - Success at Last!

Much has been said about weight loss and how to go about achieving it. I can only say that weight loss takes effort, endurance and perseverance. Have you ever exercised regularly and still not shed those pounds?

My exercise routine started after a chat with my friend Peter Chong who told me exercise is not exercise if you are not training at the right levels. How so, I asked? Well, he told me about heart zone training i.e. bringing the heart rate up to an acceptable level. I will not go into details but the essence is this - exercising at the right heart rate level will increase the effectiveness of your weight loss regime.

Early on when I started, I discovered Sally Edwards Heartzones and it has helped me understand and achieve my targets. Critical in this journey is a heart rate monitor - that is a must and non negotiable. I started off with a Timex set but now use this as I find it much better. The Polar Personal Training Computer RCX5 kit.
Polar RCX5 Kit photo PolarKit01.jpg

The RCX5 measures the heart rate and also maps my exercising route. The heart rate monitor ensures you are exercising at the right heart rate levels. I am attaching a simplified chart I took from the website of Project Daisy Duke. Basically, to lose weight, one has to exercise within the grey/blue zone which is between 50-70% of your max heart rate. For me, that translates into 100-130 beats per minute (bpm). This means that if my goal is to lose weight, I need my heart rate to be within that zone as much as possible.
Heart Zones Chart photo HeartZoneChartSample.jpg

What I like about the Polar Personal Trainer is the webpage. When downloaded, it shows you your exercise routine and how well you have been keeping to the recommended heart rate levels. In this instance, I am spending 73% of my exercise routine within the 120-136 bpm zone which is optimal for improving my aerobic fitness. If I wanted to lose more weight, I need to do a lot more within the 103-119 bpm range.
Polar Personal Trainer Webpage photo PolarPersonalTrainerScreen.jpg

The RCX5 comes with a GPS unit, a heart strap with a heart rate monitor and the watch. The watch can be customized to display all the necessary information in the order you like. On the first screen mine shows the heart rate, distance travelled, current speed and the time elapsed. I set it to the green zone and every time I am below or above that range, the watch beeps.
My Polar RCX 5 Running Mate photo RunningCompanion01.jpg

I started my regime in September last year, and within 4 months, lost about 5 kilograms. My routine revolves around a minimum of 30 minutes exercise per session, at least three times per week. After the second week, my fitness level was up, I could do more distance for the same time and by the second month, I was going from three km walks to four and a half km within the same time frame. What made it more bearable is the fact I prefer nature so I exercise around the Lower & Upper Peirce Reservoir area and extending to Bishan Park.
Old Upp Thomson Rd photo OldUppThomsonRoad01.jpg

As with every exercise routine, you need to get the advice from the doctors before you begin. Mine has been a success story - at least by my standard. To-date, I have lost more than 6 kg and dropped one size. Exercise makes you feel good and losing weight and achieving that goal makes you feel even better. I have not felt so good in a long while and I am determined to lose more. The Sally Edwards regime works for me. Check out her webpage at Her book helped me a lot. She makes exercising fun and she even has a heart rate monitor specially designed. Remember this - it is not about the intensity or how hard you exercise. It is about frequency, regularity and duration. At least 30 minutes continuous exercising.

Since I started my regime, my wife has also started on her own. She is also convinced that her fitness has improved. For her, weight loss is not the primary goal. Improving fitness and feeling good is. So go ahead, try exercising and staying on that routine. It works!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Ludovic Balluoard Upside Down & Harry Winston Opus 13

It took me awhile to understand how to tell time on the Upside Down Watch by Ludovic Ballouard. The complication is to marvel at and the finishing on the watch exquisite.

Once in awhile, you come across an unusual timepiece and I was lucky enough to be able to see the Upside Down in platinum on a recent trip to Bangkok. Pardon the poor quality of the pictures as these were taken on my smartphone.
LB Upside Down Dial Side photo UpsideDownDialSide01.jpg

At first glance, the watch displays the Arabic numerals upside down, hence the name of the watch. But take a closer look at the numbers…Notice that the 12 is right side up and with a dot? The rest of the numbers one to eleven are all displayed upside down. When the minute hand passes the 60 minute position, the number 12 will flip around (and display the number 12 upside down) and the number 1 will flip around displaying the numeral 1 correct side up and with the dot. The jump is instantaneous.
LB Upside Down Dial Side photo UpsideDownDialSide02.jpg

The movement side looks complicated but well finished. The manual winding Calibre B01 has a power reserve of 36 hours.
LB Upside Down Movement Side photo UpsideDownMovementSide02.jpg

The buckle is hand engraved and in platinum and the strap is hand-stitched blue alligator. Comes with an alligator travel pouch too.
Ludovic Buckle photo UpsideDownBuckle01.jpg

And then two months later, I come across the Harry Winston Opus 13 which is also developed with Ludovic Ballouard. We were shown the non-working prototype at the Harry Winston Boutique in Singapore and I had the privilege of taking some photos although it is rather difficult to capture a good shot given the "bling" centre.
Harry Winston Opus 13 Dial Side photo HWOpus13DialSide01.jpg

Notice the outer ring has pivoting hands? 59 of them to be exact and eleven have red tips? The eleven red-tipped ones are representing of the 5 minute marker. A little more difficult to see is the Eleven O'Clock hour "hand" that has flipped forward to point at the eleven o'clock position. Every time the one minute is up, the minute hand will pivot to the "straight" position. This watch is displaying 11.03. Telling time will be difficult and I believe HW needs to make some adjustments to the final piece to make it more legible.
Harry Winston Opus 13 Dial Side photo HWOpus13DialSide02.jpg

The movement side is easier on the eyes but no less complicated than the Upside Down.
Harry Winston Opus 13 Movement Side photo HWOpus13MovementSide01.jpg

At the hour, the pivoting minutes hands will all "dance" back to the slanted position. and the twelve o'clock will feature the "HW" logo. Cased in white gold, the watch comes with a white gold folding clasp on black alligator strap. Limited to 130 pieces.

It will be interesting to see his new creation called Half Time. So can we call Mr. Ballouard the new master of complications?

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Viader Vineyard - My Favourite DARE

One of the reasons why the view in Viader is so intoxicating is the clear blue skies with no clouds (unlike in Singapore) and the sloping hills of the vineyard.

On a beautiful July morning, blue skies and a cool breeze was all it takes to enjoy the scenery and a glass of wine. What more can one ask for?
Viader Vineyward - Looking Down photo Viader01.jpg

The vineyard has an outdoor tasting area. And that is where I always ask to sit.
Viader Outdoor Tasting area photo Viader03.jpg

Viader makes a range of labels - Viader being the highest end obviously. Very Bordeaux in style and award winning too. I call it the "Big Bordeaux" style wine with different years blending differently. I happen to like the 2006 Viader better than the 2008 blend.

But what I like is the other label - Dare. A play on the family name, the Dare label has different grape varietals and in this tasting, we had the Cabernet Franc of 2011. Silky smooth Cabernet Franc is easy to drink and definitely a nice "among friends" wine.
Viader DARE photo Viader04.jpg

Truth be told, I prefer the Dare 2007 Tempranillo which I had tasted in the last visit. Tempranillo is a Spanish grape varietal but I must say that Viader has done a wonderful job in growing this grape in Napa. The Tempranillo is a luscious medium bodied red berry wine that is low in acidity but possesses great fruit flavors. What also impressed me was the underground cellar.
Viader Underground Cellar photo Viader11.jpg

Viader must have spent quite a fair bit of money constructing this cellar. At the end of the visit, I had to bring back some wine from Viader. In this case I brought back the Tempranillo and the Viader 2006. And when you are making payment, look out for the three bottles...
Viader - Big, Bigger & Biggest photo Viader06.jpg

Have fun and make it a point to visit Viader in Napa. I understand they do not take walk ins so please call ahead. You can find more information at they website Do look up my earlier post Viader Part 1

Viader Vineyard

1120 Deer Park Rd., Deer Park, CA 94576 USA