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Precision and reliability in time measurement for every situation: those are the core subjects of any watch taken aboard an expedition that is going to set out for an exploration of the boundaries of the world. During its whole history of 177 years, Jaeger-LeCoultre has dedicated itself to pushing precision and reliability to the highest possible levels in horology.

With this expertise, the Manufacture in Switzerland's Le Sentier is launching the new Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic, a mechanical Chronograph with GMTfunction, especially developed for use in the most extreme environments. This model is a rightful heir to one of the manufacture's emblematic watches, the 1958 Chronomètre Geophysic. As such, it has an undeniable link with the Master Compressor line, which in the house of Jaeger-LeCoultre stands for die-hard-sports watches with innovative functions and thoroughly tested mechanisms – outfitted with state of the art technology, the latest in materials science and watchmaking development.

The new model unites sporting spirit with technical prowess for a resolutely extreme design, with a maximum of comfort and ergonomics and the right technology to keep the highest possible precision and reliability. Several new ideas and inventions make the watch the primary choice for when the going gets tough: An easy to use function selector regulated through the crown, a patented digital patented jumping digital minutes counter for easy readability and a clearly visible power reserve and a GMT-function make this chronograph a step forward in the development of horology for real life usage – anywhere.

All this is housed within a rugged watch case with external chassis, made of the light and extremely resistant TiVan15 titanium alloy and outfitted with a scratchproof high tech zirconium ceramic bezel. Specially designed, easy to use push buttons guarantee failure free use even when wearing gloves and an innovative interchangeable strap system with double pin buckle makes changing straps fast, easy and safe.

To test their ambitious project, Jaeger-LeCoultre has sent the Master Compressor Extreme LAB2 Tribute to Geophysic out into the wild with a mountaineering expedition called “Expedition Geophysic” to conquer a virgin peak in the Himalayas, which has been christened the Mount Antoine LeCoultre.

Throughout its history the company has proven its mastery of watchmaking, as a science as well as an artful craft.

Precise and easy handling The Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic with its second time zone has to be a trustworthy companion during months out in the field with no chances taken that could adversely affect its timekeeping. For this reason, the watchmakers of the manufacture have come up with some features that simplify its handling whilst at the same time guaranteeing utmost precision. In order to keep the movement running, even when time or date has to be set, they developed a function selector in combination with an extra, manually engaged, stop seconds button.

Function Selector The function selector – activated by a pusher in the crown and indicated on the dial – essentially functions like a manual gear box in a car and presents three functions: watch winding in the first position, adjustment of the GMT-function and the date after pushing once, and time setting after a second push. Giving a third push makes the system return to its first position in which the crown is decoupled from the gear train of the watch and only allows winding the watch.

This system makes pulling the crown superfluous and therefore protects the watch from possible intrusions of dust and dirt for the crown stays in the same position at all times. Because of this construction, it was technically impossible – and unnecessary – to secure the crown with a Compressor-screw. Instead it is protected by the two chronograph pushers at the sides and sealed with a double gasket system.

Seconds stop While the time is being set via the function selector, the seconds hand doesn't stop so that it cannot affect the precision of the watch. If however the watch has to be set to a timing signal, the user simply operates the slider located on the left side of the case. By sliding it up and then pressing it, the seconds hand stops and upon releasing starts again. This double sliding-pushing function prevents the slider from being activated accidentally.

Power Reserve The functions of any wristwatch rely of course on the power supplied to the movement. The winding barrel of the Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic provides 60 hours of constant energy to drive the watch movement. Nevertheless, for perfect reliability the user must be able to quickly view the state of the power reserve level so that the watch's timing will not be negatively affected.

The state of the power reserve can be observed through a newly patented, intuitive and clearly visible semicircular radial power reserve indication surrounding the upper half of the dial. If the power reserve nears its end, the red color will fill the half circle. After winding, it re-initiates to black – clearly indicating the state of the winding barrel. The designers chose this unique and large display to allow for one glance monitoring of the state of the movement even under inclement weather conditions or use in twilight.

Digital Stop Minute Counter  In long-term timekeeping during endurance activities – such as mountaineers timing their ascending-plan – the stop-minutes counter is at least as important as the stop seconds hand. For better readability at a glance, the designers decided on the following layout of the dial: At 12 o'clock a window shows a patented jumping digital minute counter for clear readability of the chronograph function. It works on the basis of an instant jumping mechanism that is activated precisely at the point the seconds hand passes the zero-mark. The central stop-seconds hand shows the seconds passing in a traditional way. Whereas the chronograph's hour counter runs in the same sub dial as does the small permanent seconds – as indicator for a properly working movement.

Sturdy design for easy and reliable usage The Master Compressor Extreme LAB2 Tribute to Geophysic is a chronograph combining sporting spirit and technical prowess into a resolutely extreme design, with a maximum of comfort, readability and ergonomics. High tech materials and daring shapes combined with the sandwich structure of the case, transforming the watch into a state-of-the-art timing instrument.

The black zirconium ceramic bezel together with the sapphire glass forms an almost indestructible upper section. For the casing the designers came up with a bipartite carrier construction for the Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic in which an outer carrier holds the bracelet and simultaneously forms the frame for the inner watchcase that houses the movement itself. This system delivers a maximum of sturdiness combined with a minimum of weight; which is especially true since the watchmakers chose an exceptional titanium alloy called TiVan15 as the case material. In this alloy made of titanium and Vanadium extraordinary physical resistance to tension, torsion and scratches is improved by 15% compared to traditional titanium alloy. The case-construction itself exudes a sporty no-nonsense look befitting its use under all kinds of tough environments.

Pushbutton construction This casing solution – inspired by the Master Compressor Extreme LAB – delivers maximum ergonomics. An innovative pushbutton construction makes sure that the watch can be easily handled in any situation. For this reason, the pushbuttons themselves are protected by large L shaped metal arms, which are fixed at one point in the case close to the crown, thus forming a large contact surface for better ergonomics and simultaneously providing superior protection for the crown with its built in function pusher. The front areas of the pushers are covered with rubber pads to ensure slip-free usage in any weather condition – even with thick mountaineering-gloves on.

The open worked dial allows one to admire a clear view of the movement's structure through the sapphire crystal, while the movement part's black PVD-coating provides a high contrast with the luminous indexes and newly designed skeleton hands for a maximum of readability in any situation.

The movement The newly developed Calibre 780 reflects the mastery of Jaeger-LeCoultre's watchmaking in full bloom. Even with the complexity of 569 parts, it remains a precise and reliable movement with chronograph and GMT functions in which the latest of the manufacture's developments have been incorporated. With its range of application in mind, sports and exploration, the watch is built to resist extreme conditions – from the boiling heat of hot deserts to icy storms on high mountains – thereby delivering the highest possible levels of precision and reliability.

For the watchmakers at Jaeger-LeCoultre such a development does mean more than just big casing and thick sapphire glass: The experts decided on creating a check list on how to tackle the issue of ruggedness from the very interior of the movement.

Chronograph function The Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 780 is a chronograph with its function regulated by a column wheel, where precise start- and stop functions are guaranteed through a vertical clutch system. As it is specially designed for long-term measurement of events (such as timing of mountaineering ascents), the watchmakers and designers decided upon a digital minute counter which they placed in a clearly visible 12-o'clock-position on the dial as mentioned above.

Second Time Zone For an explorer's watch, a second time zone is a must – and as such a main feature of the Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic. As a tradition for Jaeger-LeCoultre movements, the second time zone – the home time – is indicated by a second hour hand from the center, with a 24-hour indication at the 6 o'clock position. It can be adjusted through the crown after pushing the function selector twice and then turning the crown to set the hour hand.

Technical Details The large balance wheel has a moment of inertia of 11.5 mg cm2, enough for it to beat at a steady 28,800 v.p.h. with only minor disturbances in case of shocks. It is equipped with variable inertia screws. No index is used to adjust the beat-rate, for it could slip from position after a shock. The stud holder is held by two screws, which – once set – are fixed under all circumstances. The hairspring itself has a special protection device that limits the motion of the spring during periods of extreme situations, such as shocks. The balance bridge is fixed on two support points for extra strength.

As for its performance, the automatic rotor, mounted on lubrication free ceramic ball bearings, winds the barrel of the watch unidirectional to a maximum of 60 hours of power reserve. All components of the movement are highly decorated or PVD finished and of course, the watch has endured Jaeger-LeCoultre's demanding 1000 hours test to certify its reliance under all conditions.

The strap-system A newly designed interchangeable strap system is operated by lifting a small covering on the case back behind the strap. Through sliding it open the straps can easily be changed. The double alligator strap stand for the highest possible reliability and a patented notched binding system allows perfect ergonomics. The double pin buckle enables the wearer to fine-tune the strap length even in the distance between two holes.

A more elegant version of the Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic  The Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre launches a second exclusive model which distinguishes itself from the first one on the outside. It has an 18-carat pink gold chassis to hold the TiVan15 watch case, which makes it the more glamorous of the two watches – but heavier as well. This watch case – due to its use of precious metals – provides a different surrounding for the high tech movement and the red gold chassis clearly indicates that the watch is dedicated to a more modest usage in less harsh conditions.

This version makes it the perfect choice for any adventurer who longs for a bit more glamour on his wrist.

Historical Background – International Geophysics Year Research technologies and tools had advanced greatly in the 1950's, allowing scientists a scope of investigation without precedent. With cosmic ray recorders, spectroscopes, and radio equipped balloons, the upper atmosphere could be reached for exploration, while the first electronic computers were able to analyze large data sets and the use of rockets allowed a glimpse into the world high above the surface.

However the data culled from these experiments most often proved insufficient for scientists to proceed with their research. Calls for more, better and improved data of the earth's boundaries in 1952 led the International Council of Scientific Unions to the proposing of a series of global geophysical activities in the period from July 1957 to December 1958. The idea of the International Geophysical Year (IGY) was born: To measure the world.

And it intended to allow scientists from around the world to take part in a series of coordinated observations of various geophysical phenomena. 67 countries had become involved “to observe geophysical phenomena and to secure data from all parts of the world; to conduct this effort on a coordinated basis by fields, and in space and time, so that results could be collated in a meaningful manner”, as the American National Academy of Sciences stated.

IGY activities spanned the globe from pole to pole. Much work was carried out in the arctic and equatorial regions. IGY research contributed to improve meteorological prediction, advances in glacier- analysis and understanding of seismological phenomena. The most sensational of scientific work were the space programs of the USA and the USSR: Sputnik 1 and the establishment of the NASA are vivid reminders of the International Geophysical Year.

In the spirit of those advances in geophysical sciences, Jaeger-LeCoultre developed the Chronomètre Geophysic. It was intended to perfectly suit the demands of that day's researchers, whether on polar stations or in laboratories, the watchmaker's idea was to provide a watch that could withstand all trials. Therefore the chronometer worthy timepiece was equipped with a casing to make it resistant to magnetic fields, water and shocks.

This was honored by the City of Geneva, which choose the watch as a presentation gift in 1958 for two US citizens for their contribution to the IGY: Chosen were two men that by all means pushed the borders of knowledge and proved the unproven: the commanders of the submarines U.S.S. “Nautilus”, the first submarine to complete a submerged transit across the North Pole, and U.S.S “Skate” that operated under the North Pole ice, surfacing nine times through the ice and became the second ship to reach the Pole.

Chronomètre Geophysic With its new Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic, Jaeger-LeCoultre not only shows its mastery in the creation of sporting watches for extreme conditions, the manufactory also pays tribute to its own heritage and has taken a big step in the quest for the perfect rugged timepiece suitable for exploration.

When in 1958 Jaeger-LeCoultre launched the Chronomètre Geophysic, the mother of all rugged sports watches from the Grande Maison, the quest was opened on how to design a watch that would suit the demands of scientists and engineers, who long for a timepiece with outstanding precision and performance even in the worst surroundings. Jaeger-LeCoultre answered with the creation of the Chronomètre Geophysic, a water-resistant wristwatch that withstood magnetic fields as well as an outstanding shock resistance system.

However, this was only the beginning. In 2002, Jaeger-LeCoultre took up the idea of sports watches in a new line called Master Compressor, in which it chases the pinnacle of rugged watches with up-to-date technical innovations: In 2002 the Master Compressor with compression keys for easy and secure locking system of the crown was launched; in 2005 followed the Master Compressor Extreme with inventive shock-absorber system; 2007 Jaeger-LeCoultre reopened the field of diver's watches with a mechanical depth gauge in the Master Compressor Diving; 2007 they revealed their state of the art in mechanical watchmaking with the lubrication-free movement of the Master Compressor Extreme LAB, a movement housed in a specially designed, shock-r patek-philippe-diamond-ribbon-watch-price-rid-0.html. patek philippe calatrava 5119 reviewesistant case – the first ever watch to eliminate the problems of temperature-sensitivity of watchmaking-oils. And therefore another giant step towards the perfection of timekeeping.

Some of those watches have accomplished exceptional achievements in extreme conditions. The Master Compressor Diving GMT for example went down to a depth of 1,080 meters off the coast of Hawaii, pinned to a submarine to prove its sturdiness in a place where no diver can go.

The Geophysic Expedition to the Himalaya s In the spirit of this watchmaking past, Jaeger-LeCoultre, even before the launch of the new Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic, proves the watch's sturdiness by sending it to the great outdoors, celebrating the spirit of its ancestor and the extraordinary functionality of its Master Compressor Extreme Line.

In the autumn of 2009, as a tribute to Geophysic, Jaeger-LeCoultre outfitted the “Antoine LeCoultre Expedition” consisting of three exceptional mountaineers, set out to conquer a virgin summit in the Himalaya. The Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic was one of the three timepieces that guided the alpinists to the summit. The team consists of renowned Swiss climber Stephane Schaffter and the Pakistani Sherpa Little Karim and the Nepalese world famous Apa Sherpa, who tackled the Mount Everest 19 times. They set out to climb a technically highly demanding 6589 meters peak in the backyard of Mount Everest. After a grueling climb – at the base camp already they had to force themselves through over 40 Centimeters of newly fallen snow – and under constant thread of avalanches, they reached the peak on the 22nd October 2009. To honor history and high horology, they then christened the Mountain “Mount Antoine LeCoultre”.

For the climbers, who rely on the precision of a 1958 Chronomètre Geophysic watch as well as a Master Compressor Extreme LAB and the new Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic, the aim is not only to reach the summit, but to do so in the adventurous way of traditional “fair means” – classical mountaineering style. This concept of course fits neatly into Jaeger-LeCoultre's tradition to combine the classical concepts of horology with modern technology for the demands of today's world.

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Chronomètre Geophysic launched in 1958, has set off the Master Compressor line with its credo of the watch was “shockproof and water resistant” –technical features that can all be defined as 100 percent the goal of any Master Compressor timepiece.

With today's new Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic, Jaeger-LeCoultre proves impressively that its watches are made for the extremes, a field requiring technical mastery, innovation spirit and high watchmaking – precisely the DNA of the Master Compressor line.

Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic: Technical characteristics The new Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic is a mechanical Chronograph with GMT-function, especially developed for use in the most extreme conditions. The chronograph has a digital number display and a radial power reserve for easy readability. As a member of the Master Compressor line, which stands for die-hard-sports watches with innovative functions and thoroughly tested mechanisms, the Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic is outfitted with state of the art technology, the latest in materials science and watchmaking development.

Products - Independent watch makers & the 'big names' - part 1

28th September 2009 -

I'm sure every watch collector and aficionado knows high-end brands like Audemars Piguet, Breguet, Lange und Söhne, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin. In fact I think most will know all brands gathered in the Swatch Group, Richemont and the LVMH Group. And of course they all know Rolex! The names Vianney Halter, Pita Barcelona, Stepan Sarpaneva, Roger Smith, Peter Speake-Marin and Kari Voutilainen will not sound familiar for many watch collectors. Unless they found their way to the few watch forums or weblogs that do give attention to these independent watchmakers.

There are many reasons watch collectors are much more familiar with the names and watches of the ‘big names'. Most of them have a long lasting history. This means time to build up name and fame. However there are also relatively newcomers who made name very fast. Just think of Hublot. Just open a newspaper or a magazine and I'm sure you will see several advertisements for watches. Watches made by the ‘big names'. Of course advertisement is not restricted to print media. Also online the big brands are omnipresent with advertisement banners and sponsored articles. Only on television I haven't seen many commercials for watches, at least not for high-end watches. Than there's web 2.0… This is a trend that's been growing in the past years and refers to an increase of interactivity on websites. Think of forums, social networking websites like LinkedIn and Facebook or weblogs like my own. Most of the forums have dedicated brand sections, at least for the big brands. The independents are grouped in one ‘independent watchmaking' section, if they get attention at all.

Lately more and more independent brands and watchmakers find their way to media like Facebook and Twitter to connect to potential customer and inform them about new products. These media offer them a cheap way to inform those interested. The difference in the possibilities for the big brands (brand sections on the forums, advertisement in print and online media) and the possibilities for independents (Facebook, Twitter and a shared section on some forums) is huge. And so are the results. The described communication of big brands will be visible to much more people. The communication possibilities of the independents will mostly only attract attention of those who know what to look for.

All this is of course due to the small budgets independents have for advertising. The big brands produce a totally different amount of watches. Most independents produce from 10 to maybe a few hundred watches a year. The big brands have production number of 5, 6 or sometimes even 6 figures. So it's only logical they earn more money and thus have larger budgets for advertising. When it comes to numbers of watches, the production numbers of the independents are of no threat to the big brands. Personally I think the independent give the total high-end watch market a pleasant and valuable extra.
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World Financial Report – November 23rd, 2017

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Special Announcement from Harold Seigel Charts of the Week-Quotes-Quick Hits Gold-Silver



-We are in a time of great change. The media landscape is no different. Harold Seigel’s successful and popular World Financial Report on Radio show has been running on 630 CHED in Edmonton for over 17 years. After reviewing how people were listening to the radio show it was decided by Harold that effective the end of October the show would move online to his website . With the majority of people listening online or via podcast it was felt we could serve our listeners best with the change. The show will be about a half hour long and we will continue to put our weekly World Financial Report newsletter out. Harold is committed to bringing you the latest information on the financial markets and helping you prosper with that knowledge. Thank you to all our great listeners for tuning in and reading our newsletter every week. We will keep you up to date on our changes via our weekly newsletter. Join us at . Harold Seigel

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-CHART OF THE WEEK: S&P 500 Surpasses 2,600 in Record Year of 100-Point Milestones. The S&P 500 Index sailed past 2,600 for the first time, hitting its fourth round-number milestone of the year as the bull market in U.S. stocks gathered steam. The benchmark gained 0.7 percent to 2,600.03 as of 11:02 a.m. in New York, as stocks continued the recovery from a two-week decline. Technology and health-care shares led gains. Up 3 percent since September, the S&P 500 is on course for its ninth straight quarterly advance, matching the longest winning streak in almost two decades. Better-than-expected corporate earnings underpinned the rally, helping 2017 become the year with the most 100-point milestones traveled.

At 67 days, the latest trip is also the second fastest after the 50 days it took to go from 1,000 to 1,100 in 1998. Tech and financial stocks have led the S&P 500 since the index crossed the 2,500 threshold in September. Micron Technology Inc., D.R. Horton Inc. and Qualcomm Inc. are among the biggest winners, with shares surging 20 percent or more. It’s a banner year for equities to reach round-numbers as $3.5 trillion was added to prices, pushing stocks into record territory across the board. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has passed four 1,000-point milestones, exceeding 23,000 while the Nasdaq Composite Index is approaching 7,000. Read more here-

-CHARTS OF THE WEEK: For the market bears trying to draw comparisons between today’s bull market and that of the late ’90s, here’s a reason the link may be unwarranted. Market breadth is alive and well, with more than 70 percent of S&P 500 members advancing, analysts at Strategas Research Partners including Chris Verrone, head of technical analysis, wrote in a note Tuesday. That wasn’t the case in 1999, when less than half of S&P 500 members rose. In 2007, before the crisis, just 50 percent of stocks ended the year higher. “This may not be the broadest market we’ve ever seen but it’s not even close to the narrowest,” Strategas said. Read more here-

-CHART OF THE WEEK: Bull Market’s Big Supporters Ask What May Tip It to the Bears. Some of the biggest proponents of the bull market in equities are starting to ask the question: when should you get out?

While the answer from some of the world’s largest money managers is that it’s not quite time yet, they’re identifying some triggers to watch for. On the list:

A jump in inflation that causes central banks to tighten monetary policy faster than the gradual pace currently anticipated A miscommunication of policy from the Federal Reserve, which is set to get a new chairman in February and a near-complete overhaul of its board membership A disappointment in earnings growth relative to lofty expectations

Strategists at Nuveen Asset Management LLC, Charles Schwab Corp. and Northern Trust Corp., firms that collectively help oversee more than $5 trillion, agree on sticking it out for now after what’s been an 8-1/2-year bull market in global equities. The surge in stocks has driven valuations close to highs seen in the 2000s, and tipped them into “irrational exuberance,” a Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey indicated this month. Yet even as they fretted over cost, investors were extending bullish positions, that survey showed.

The MSCI All-Country World Index of global developed and emerging-market shares is up 18 percent this year, on track for its best annual gain since 2013. Valuations are less compelling than they were several years ago and a long period of low volatility may mean stocks suffer a “more significant setback,” according to Nuveen Asset Management’s Bob Doll. Yet the inflation pressures that would cause central banks to lift interest rates aggressively aren’t materializing. “The fundamental backdrop suggests that this bull market remains intact.” Read more here-

-“Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men’s protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims.” Francisco d’Anconia in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand . (1905-1982).

-Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said that she will resign her position on the board of governors once her nominated successor Jerome Powell takes over in February. Her exit leaves Trump with considerable power to re-shape the board of the U.S. central bank, which would leave four of the seven seats on the board vacant. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn has previously said that Trump will select an appointee for Fed vice-chair before Yellen who has presided over a largely broad-based recovery leaves. Bloomberg

-The House yesterday approved its version of legislation to overhaul the U.S. tax code in a 227-205 vote, passing a key milestone in the administration’s plan to cut taxes across the board for companies and individuals. The Senate Finance Committee approved their far different version of the legislation yesterday, which includes delaying corporate tax cuts for a year. With voting going along party lines, it remains critical that the GOP lose no more than two members, so the legislation is likely to change on the Senate floor. The timeline remains tight to get a full vote effectively by the week after Thanksgiving. Bloomberg

-With the Senate tax bill due to be voted on as early as Nov. 30, private negotiations are in full swing to clinch the fiscal overhaul. GOP leaders are embarking on a tricky balancing act as they write a bill that seeks to pass the Senate’s strict budget rules while maintaining the 50 votes needed and, at the same time, leaving room for further compromise when the bill is reconciled with House legislation. President Donald Trump has expended much political capital in the fiscal effort but there’s a risk that any economic boost from the plan is offset by the Federal Reserve . Bloomberg

-Barring an unexpected breakthrough at the leaders’ summit with European Union officials next month, it may already be too late to stop banks going ahead with plans to relocate staff to the euro area. While British Prime Minister Theresa May won the backing of cabinet colleagues to offer more money to move talks forward, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier made clear yesterday that without a solution to the thorny question of the Irish border , money alone may not break the deadlock. Bloomberg

-Four-party talks on forging a new coalition government in Germany broke down Sunday after seemingly intractable policy disputes from migration to the environment spurred the liberal Free Democrats to walk out , scuppering Angela Merkel’s chances of an easy road to a fourth term as chancellor. While the euro weakened following the news, the currency recovered those losses in European trading. Fresh elections aren’t necessarily imminent with Merkel’s options including the formation of a minority government or a grand coalition with the main opposition Social Democrats. Bloomberg

-Norway’s sovereign wealth fund shook up the oil equity market yesterday when it proposed selling off the $35 billion in oil and gas stocks in its holdings. While it’s ironic that a fund built almost entirely on oil revenues may turn its back on oil companies, it probably makes sense from a risk-management perspective. In the crude market, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister said OPEC and its allies should announce an extension of their output curbs when they gather at the end of this month. Bloomberg

-Oil stuck near a two-year high as a drop in U.S. crude stockpiles added optimism to a rally underpinned by hopes for an OPEC deal extension. Futures in New York surged as much as 2.2 percent to trade above $58 a barrel for the first time since mid-2015. Crude inventories fell by 1.86 million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration said Wednesday. Prices briefly dipped after the report as the draw came in smaller than the 6.36 million decline posted by the American Petroleum Institute. Meanwhile, an outage on TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone pipeline has led inventories to contract in the Cushing, Oklahoma distribution hub. “For better or for worse, Keystone being down is bullish for U.S. prices,” Matt Sallee, who helps manage $16 billion in oil-related assets at Tortoise Capital Advisors LLC, said by telephone. Prices had softened a bit due to “a little disappointment in that we got a draw, but not nearly what API was signaling,” he said. Bloomberg

– UBS Group AG , the world’s largest wealth manager, isn’t prepared to make portfolio allocations to bitcoin because of a lack of government oversight, the bank’s chief investment officer said. Bitcoin has also not reached the critical mass to be considered a viable currency to invest in, UBS’s Mark Haefele said in an interview. The total sum of all cryptocurrencies is “not even the size of some of the smaller currencies” that UBS would allocate to, he said. Bitcoin has split investors over the viability of the volatile cryptocurrency and UBS is among its critics.

Bitcoin capped a resurgent week by climbing within a few dollars of a record $8,000 on Friday. Still, events such as a bitcoin-funded terrorist attack are potential risks which are hard to evaluate, he said. “All it would take would be one terrorist incident in the U.S. funded by bitcoin for the U.S. regulator to much more seriously step in and take action, he said. “That’s a risk, an unquantifiable risk, bitcoin has that another currency doesn’t.” Bloomberg

-Bitcoin topped $8,000 for the first time as investors looked past technology concerns that saw it suffer a 29 percent plunge earlier this month. The cryptocurrency’s resilience to selloffs has some investors asking whether it can hit $10,000 by the end of the year. While the digital token is still seen by many as a bubble, one measure of volatility suggests it may have “ solid economic fundamentals .” Bloomberg

-Hedge fund manager Mike Novogratz, who is starting a $500 million fund to invest in cryptocurrencies, says the bitcoin rally still has some serious legs. After surging more than sevenfold since December, the largest and most widely known digital currency will end the year at $10,000 from about $8,400, he said. Smaller rival ether will trade at $500 from almost $370 Tuesday. Bitcoin is like digital gold in that “gold has value solely because people say it has value; bitcoin is built on an amazing technology, there’s a limited supply of it,” Novogratz said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “This whole revolution came out of a breakdown in trust in the 2008 crisis.” Bloomberg

-Real estate agents in the city are asking potential buyers to stump up 7 million Hong Kong dollars ($900,000) to view a new batch of luxury condos, the latest example of the dizzying rise in prices in the world’s most expensive property market. The new complex offers sweeping views of Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor and is located near the city’s central business district. It was built by Sun Hung Kai Properties, Hong Kong’s biggest property developer. Real estate brokers told CNNMoney that the huge deposit (which is refundable) applies to 10 luxury apartments in the complex that are set to go under the hammer. “This is an indication of how hot the market is here in Hong Kong,” said Paul Zimmerman, director of think thank Civic Exchange and a district council member in the city. Prices have been fueled by years of low interest rates and money flowing in from mainland China, he said. CNNMoney

-The hottest housing market in the world is facing a reckoning. Toronto-area land prices have gotten so high that developers are struggling to build new homes that people can afford. Buyers are no longer lining up, despite discounts and incentives. The cost of land has nearly tripled in some areas the past five years, according to Altus Group Ltd. It now accounts for roughly half the price of a new home. In 2011, it was a little more than a third. “It’s a real turn,” said Peter Comyns of PMA Brethour Realty Group .

In June, it took Comyns just two days to find 200 buyers for yet-to-be-built homes in a Toronto suburb . Two weeks ago, 50 were available. His team sold about 12. A convergence of factors government rules aimed at reshaping Ontario’s housing market, tougher mortgage guidelines, a shortage of land is pushing against the housing bubble in the Toronto area, where new-home prices have risen since 2009. One result is pinched supply. About 2,600 new homes were available for purchase in the Toronto area at the end of September, close to a record low and down from about 15,000 a decade ago. Bloomberg

-Fed Signals December Hike Even as Debate on Prices Persists. Federal Reserve officials meeting earlier this month saw an interest-rate increase in the near term even as divisions persisted over the policy path forward amid tepid inflation. “Many participants thought that another increase in the target range for the federal funds rate was likely to be warranted in the near term if incoming information left the medium-term outlook broadly unchanged,” according to minutes from their Oct. 31-Nov. 1 gathering, released in Washington on Wednesday.

Policy makers held rates steady at the meeting but are expected to hike next month as they continue with gradual tightening. Unemployment is at a 16-year low, although inflation remains well beneath their 2 percent target. The minutes showed that while Fed officials remain confident in the labor market and above-trend economic growth, several are looking for stronger signs that price gains will pick up. A few even want to see inflation on an upward path before lifting rates again, underlining a persistent divide on the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee. Read more here-

-Goldman Sachs Sees Four 2018 Fed Rate Hikes as U.S. Growth Gains. The U.S. economy is heading into 2018 with strong momentum that’s likely to boost wages and inflation more broadly, requiring the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates four times next year, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economists said in a research note. The New York-based investment banking and securities firm raised its growth outlook for 2018 to 2.5 percent and lowered its forecast for unemployment to 3.7 percent by the end of 2018, said Goldman chief economist Jan Hatzius, a co-author of the note, which was released by email late Friday.

Before the latest revision the most recent Goldman Sachs forecast for 2018 growth was 2.4 percent, according to forecasts compiled by Bloomberg. The U.S. jobless rate, which was 4.1 percent in October, may reach 3.5 percent in late 2019, Goldman predicted. That would be the lowest level since the late-1960s. “Our projections would imply an evolution over the current cycle from the weakest labor market in postwar U.S. history to one of the tightest,” the economists said in a summary of their report.

“We expect that a tight labor market and a more normal inflation picture will lead the Fed to deliver four hikes next year.” That’s one more rate increase than the median forecast of Fed officials, and more than financial markets are currently pricing in. One of the reasons why Goldman Sachs economists said they disagree with market expectations is “we see little evidence that soft inflation is structural in nature.” Core inflation should accelerate in 2018, rising by about a half percentage point to 1.8 percent by year end, Goldman projected. Read more here-

-Fed Insiders Seek Radical Policy Review as Powell Era Dawns. Federal Reserve officials are pushing for a potentially radical revamp of the playbook for guiding U.S. monetary policy, hoping to seize a moment of economic calm and leadership change to prepare for the next storm. While the country is enjoying its third-longest expansion on record, inflation and interest rates are still low, meaning the central bank has little room to ease policy in a downturn before hitting zero again.

With Jerome Powell nominated to take over as Fed chairman in February, influential officials including San Francisco Fed chief John Williams and the Chicago Fed’s Charles Evans have taken the lead in calling for reconsidering policy maker’s 2 percent inflation target. “It’s a good time given the shift in leadership,” Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic told reporters on Tuesday in Montgomery, Alabama. “The new guy comes in and they are able to really think about, how should this work, how do I think this should work, and is it compatible with where we’ve been and where we are trying to get to?” Read more here-

-Cash is still king in the digital era. Digital payment systems have proliferated in recent years. But the amount of American currency in circulation around the world has grown 87% over the past 10 years, according to the San Francisco Federal Reserve. That includes hard money held by banks, businesses, investors and ordinary people. In 2006, $783 billion worth of U.S. dollars was changing hands globally. Last year, it was $1.46 trillion, the San Francisco Fed found in a study. A separate New York Fed study estimates that the majority of dollars are held outside the country.

“Reports of the death of cash have been greatly exaggerated,” San Francisco Fed President John Williams wrote in a blog post . “In most countries, demand for notes and coins is strong and shows no signs of slowing down.” Economic factors, fluctuating interest rates and even natural disasters can cause demand for dollars to increase. Around the world, the dollar is seen as a safe currency to hold at times of political and economic turmoil. But cash of all kinds is growing, not just dollars. Williams found that in 40 of 42 major economies from Europe and Asia to Latin America and the United States the growth of cash circulation outpaced economic growth over the last 10 years. The San Francisco Fed’s findings are backed up by the private sector.

Today, 83% of global transactions are in cash, according to Western Union, the payment transfer service. That’s down only slightly from 85% a decade ago. (Western Union did not provide a U.S.-only figure.) “We don’t believe in a world that will be cashless,” said Odilon Almeida, president of Western Union’s global money transfer division. “Cash will continue to be the bulk of payments for the next 50 years. But digital will grow faster.” There are plenty of reasons to prefer cash. It’s convenient. It doesn’t require a bank account or a mobile phone. And in emergencies, it’s good to have stashed under the mattress. Read more here-

-More Canadians still paying with cash, Bank of Canada finds. Despite the rising popularity of credit, debit cards, and digital currencies, many Canadian consumers are still sticking with cold, hard cash, according to new data released by the Bank of Canada. “We find that cash is still widely used, especially for small-value transactions, even at large businesses that accept cash and cards,” the central bank said in a report released Thursday. “Debit cards are used mainly for medium-value transactions and credit cards for large-value transactions.”

Forty-eight per cent of transactions at larger businesses were done using cash in 2015, according the bank’s survey. That number rose to 54 per cent at small and medium-sized businesses. But overall, over half of transactions (51 per cent) are still done using cash. The report also revealed six per cent of small businesses and two per cent of large businesses are not accepting cash and that only two per cent of businesses of any size are accepting Bitcoin. In a separate report conducted using data collected in 2013, the Bank of Canada found more than 87 per cent of Canadian consumers carry cash in their wallets, while 86 per cent carry a debit card and 83 per cent carry a credit card. Read more here-

-Jim Rickards: Markets Are Trapped in “Zombie-like” State. Markets are holding their collective breath. Not much is happening. But the potential for huge moves has not been greater since late 2015. The euro is meandering between $1.16 and $1.17. Gold is going sideways between $1,270 and $1,295 per ounce. The yen is trading around 113 to the dollar. The yield to maturity on a 10-year Treasury note is stuck around 2.35% with just small moves on a daily basis.

If you had positions in these global macro markets two weeks ago and spent those two weeks in a submarine without surface communications, you would have emerged from undersea to find nothing had changed. It’s as if you were never away. Of course, the mother of all complacency metrics is volatility in the stock market. It’s near all-time lows and has been stuck there for an unprecedented period of time. No worries here; it’s all good. Why? Why are markets moving sideways in a complacent, almost zombie-like state? The reason is that the world is waiting for the Fed.

The Fed’s FOMC meets Dec. 13 to make a decision on interest rate policy. It’s too bad that so many so-called “free markets” are in thrall to the Fed. That means they’re not really free at all. Markets are creatures of manipulation by Fed policy changes, statements, forward guidance and the other prestidigitation of modern central banks. That’s what you get after 10 years of ZIRP, QE, tapering, QT, forward guidance, currency wars and musings about NIRP. The Fed has painted itself into a corner and there’s no way to escape the room. Read more here- and

-Da Vinci Shattered These Record-Breaking Prices. “Salvator Mundi” sold on Wednesday for $450.3 million, beating out works by de Kooning and Cezanne. Here’s a list of the artworks that set records before Wednesday night’s $450.3 million sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi.” Billionaires including hedge fund manager Ken Griffin dominate the buyers group as does the state of Qatar, which has become one of the biggest purchasers of art as the royal family has sought to develop a world-class museum. In fact, the salesroom at Christie’s Da Vinci auction was full of millionaires and billionaires including Point72 Asset Management’s Steve Cohen and philanthropist Eli Broad. The buyer of the Da Vinci remains a secret. Read more here-

-These 10 Paintings Just Sold for Almost $1 Billion. Given the runaway success of one painting in particular, it’s kind of unfair to compare the top 10 lots of New York’s auction mega-week: Approximately $2.3 billion of Impressionist, modern, postwar, and contemporary art was sold in five days, yes, but the numbers are skewed pretty dramatically by Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi .

Having sold for $450.3 million at Christie’s on Wednesday, the painting, which was rediscovered in 2005, represents around 19 percent of the value of the week’s overall sales. Remove that Leonardo from the equation and you still have solid numbers up more than 100 percent from last year’s auctions , which tallied around $1 billion representative of a confident, perhaps even booming, market. But the Leonardo did sell, so we have a list of 10 paintings that gets very close to totaling $1 billion on its own. The final tally adds up to $877,721,500. Breaking down that top 10, we have a healthy list of familiar names: Picasso, Van Gogh, Leger, Warhol, Rothko, and Chagall.

Tellingly, though, the top three lots were all painted before World War I. In total, postwar and contemporary evening auctions ($310.3 million at Sotheby’s and $785.9 million at Christie’s) might have dwarfed the Impressionist and modern evening sales ($269.6 million for Sotheby’s and $479.3 million at Christie’s, respectively), but the biggest trophies were old, rather than new. Read more here-

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-Rio Tinto: Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender Delivers Record Result. Rio Tinto’s 2017 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender collection of 58 rare pink, red and violet diamonds from its Argyle mine has delivered a record result, reflecting strong global demand for such rare diamonds. The tender continued its trajectory of double digit price growth with the Argyle Everglow™ becoming the most valuable diamond in the tender’s 33-year history, Rio Tinto said in a statement.

Known as Custodians of Rare Beauty, the collection of 58 pink, red and blue diamonds was highly sought after with the winners comprising collectors, connoisseurs and luxury jewelers from 11 countries spread in Asia, Europe, Middle East, North America and Oceania.

Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Chronograph 5960 Steel Watch For 2014 Hands-On Hands-On 15 Comments April 22, 2014 by Ariel Adams Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Chronograph 5960 Steel Watch For 2014 Hands-On

Two high-complication steel "sport" watches from Patek Philippe were the major hits for the brand at the 2014 edition of Baselworld. People get a bit more excited about steel Patek timepieces because they have historically been keen to increase in value due to their rarity. Today, you don't frequently find complicated steel Patek Philippe timepieces, so the availability of two new ones gets collectors a bit excited. Today, we take a hands-on look at the new Annual Calendar Chronograph 5960/1A.

During the Baselworld 2014 show, we spent some time debuting and discussing the this new steel version of the 5960 here . In that piece you can read a bit more about the history of the 5960 series, as well as why this family is important to Patek Philippe. In short, when the 5960 collection debuted in 2006, it marked the first ever in-house made automatic chronograph movement–in addition to being offered in platinum. Interestingly enough, this new 5960/1A seems to mark the end of all gold or platinum 5960 watches that will be produced, "replacing" them as Patek Philippe describes it.

So the end of the precious metal era of the 5960 picks up with the era of the high-end steel models. And what a way to introduce steel than with such a marvelous new dial. I am not always Patek Philippe's biggest fan but I offer praise where praise is due. Here we find a silvery opaline face with red accents and those marvelous black oxidized white gold hour markers and hands. I always take an opportunity to mention my appreciation of white-dialed sport watches. Patek gets it very right emphasizing both legibility and attractiveness.

White dials are all about high contrast when one wants to get it right. Black or dark colored hands and hour markers are necessary–and they are hard to get right much of the time. However, Patek Philippe's special technique in oxidizing white gold to make it black is highly effective in creating crisp, matte black elements that are both nice to look at and offer excellent dial legibility. The black and white dial mixed with the two added red chronograph hands makes for a highly contemporary dial that is unlike most Patek Philippe timepieces out there.

Patek Philippe originally debuted these types of black oxidized gold hands and hour markers in 2011 on the reference 5270 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph (hands-on here) . They have proved so popular that since then there seems to have been at least one new Patek watch to feature these each year. For 2014, we get them on the 5960, which really alters the look of this watch–which itself has always proved to be a controversial design. In my opinion this is easily the most interesting and eye-catching 5960 watch yet.

Upon inquiring with the brand as to the intention behind the novel dial design we are simply reminded that Patek Philippe President Thierry Stern's goal is to produce more watches that will appeal to younger people. Apparently the message that too few modern Patek's appeal to the new (in age or status) rich is resonating with Patek's management. It is true, aside from models like the Nautilus, there are very few Patek Philippe models suitable for what you might consider an active lifestyle.

The almost race-style dial of the 5960/1A makes it the type of watch you don't need to wear with a suit or formal attire. At 40.5mm wide the watch isn't huge, but it is totally within the range of what most under 50 people are wearing. Even the numerals and fonts used on the dial are more modern that one might expect from a Patek. To that we offer a big thumbs up.

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