Tuesday, June 29, 2010


ZURICH, June 29 — Swatch Group Chairman Nicolas Hayek, one of Switzerland’s most prominent and colourful entrepreneurs, died of heart failure at his workplace yesterday, the company said.

Hayek, who turned 82 in February, was widely credited with saving the Swiss watchmaking industry by reorganising the ailing Asuag and SSIH watch companies, merging them into Swatch Group, which he took over with other investors in 1985. He became chief executive and chairman in 1986.

“With the unexpected death of Nicolas G. Hayek, Switzerland and the Swiss economy lose one of their leading personalities,” Swiss President and Economy Minister Doris Leuthard said in a statement.

Hayek was a driving force for the Swiss economy with his courageous engagement for entrepreneurship, she said, adding, “We owe Mr. Hayek a lot.”

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Swiss watch industry, which excelled in complicated mechanical watches, had trouble coping with the advent of highly reliable and much cheaper quartz watches.

Hayek did not hesitate to embrace quartz technology for the Swatch watch, launched in 1983, and the colourful plastic watch quickly became popular all over the world.

Its success drove the recovery of the Swiss watchmaking industry and helped turn the company into the world’s largest watchmaker.

“Mr. Hayek’s contribution to the Swatch Group and the Swiss watch industry was immense. We view today’s announcement as a significant loss for the company,” said Citi luxury goods analyst Thomas Chauvet.

Executives across the industry heaped praise on Hayek, with Jean-Claude Biver, boss of official FIFA World Cup timekeeper Hublot saying his death left “an incredible void” in the Swiss watchmaking industry.

He left a company in good health. In May Hayek, who was often seen with two or three watches on each wrist, said Swatch was on course for a record year, with sales expected at more than 6 billion Swiss francs (RM17.7 billion).

“Nicolas G. Hayek’s extraordinary vision enabled him to realise and ensure the sustainability of a strong watchmaking enterprise with high Swiss added value. He is rightly recognised as a leading entrepreneur in this country,” the company said.

Hayek’s son, Nick Hayek, has been CEO of Swatch Group since 2003 and was elected to the board at the last annual general meeting in May.

Chauvet said the “Hayek pool” remains the largest shareholder in the group, controlling 41 percent of the votes. Analysts said this was unlikely to change with the passing of Swatch’s leading light. — Reuters

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Fourteen teams have booked their places for the knockout stage of the World Cup leaving the last two places to be decided between Switzerland, Spain and Chile. 

The colourful soccer tournament have produced many upsets and along the way an array of interesting faces of fans, players, officials and managers. These are moments that have been captured for memories.

Faces of despair

The agony of pain

 sadness and frustration...

and the thrills of joy. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


The team drew its first game with Mexico, lost the second to Uruguay and won against the mighty France in fashionable style but in the end, it was just not good enough.

Well, that is the story of South Africa, the host nation of the 19th World Cup soccer tournament.

Every single player of the Bafana Bafana team played their hearts out. They ran the whole length of the field, distributed the ball efficiently and outfoxed the French megastars. It was sheer joy to watch the crispy and fluid brand of soccer orchestrated by Pienaar in midfield.

Mokoena as captain marshalled his defence solidly at the back, apart from that few seconds lull penalised by Malouda for the French only goal.

South Africa created lots and lots of scoring opportunities. Alas, only two of those opportunities were converted. Had the players been more composed and converted three more goals from the abundant opportunities created, South Africa would have been through to the second round instead of Mexico who lost by a single goal to Uruguay.

Still, all the South African players should be proud of their performances unlike those French players who presumably must have left their hearts and souls at home.

South Africa might have tumbled out of the World Cup but their gritty displays in this tournament have surely won them many friends round the world. The team has shown the world that with good teamwork, high spirit and cohesiveness, a former world champion like France can be put to shame.

There is much to rejoice and hope South African soccer. The future is indeed bright as a solid foundation has already been put in place during this tournament.

With more exposure and more experience playing at bigger and more competitive leagues, players like Mshabalala, Mphela, Sibaya, Khuboni and Josephs can further improve and become more resilient and focus.

Steven Pienaar would not be a polished and effective player as he is now if not for the experience accumulated playing in a tough league like the EPL with Everton FC.

South Africa would be a force to reckon with in the near future for soccer as the game of passion is a great tool of unity for diversity.


Monday, June 14, 2010


Quite a good start considering not many give them even half a chance of matching Mexico. Most of the South African players performed credibly well matching the Mexican players stride by stride and fighting for every inch of the field. President Jacob Zuma must have been proud of the performance.

The crowd seemed to enjoy themselves though at times the noise was a bit displeasing and too loud.

Steven Pienaar was marvellous in the centre of the park spreading the ball to the front players and falling back to assist the defense when required. If only he was fully fit, the darting runs would have created more positive impact on the result of the game. 

Tshabalala goal was fabulous. I'm pretty sure many soccer scout would have got his name in their lists.  

Khune manning the goal, pulling save after save, was just fantastic. Love to see him fitting into a good EPL team next season. 

As captain, Aaron Mokoena has to shake off his nervousness at the back.

Mphela and Modise need to really take their chances well the next time. With a little more composure and more experience, South Africa could have registered their first win in the World Cup tournament. One point nonetheless is a good beginning. 

A little pep talk by Carlos Alberto Pereira the Coach, a fitter Steven Pienaar, more shooting practice and more composure before the next game with Uruguay and France will do wonders for the South African players.

I still think that among the African teams competing in the World Cup, South Africa, Ghana along with Ivory Coast have the best chances of moving into the next round. 

A small note though is the choice of Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh as the fourth official of the game between South Africa and Mexico. For a small soccer nation like Malaysia, his appearance in the 19th World Cup as an official has done us proud.

Friday, June 11, 2010


It was a long four years of waiting for the soccer fans all over the world and a long four years of competitions for the soccer nations to produce the 32 nations for the World Cup competition in South Africa.

History was created on this day when the World Cup competitions finally arrived on the shores of South Africa. FIFA could not have chosen a better host than South Africa judging by majestic stadiums constructed, the pains taken to spruce up the soccer cities and the beefing up of securities.

Oh, what a night it was. The Gala display on the night of official opening in such a magnificent modern stadium was pure exhilaration and breathtaking. There were cheerful dances and colourful dresses amid the rhymic beats and songs performed by local and international artists highlighted by the jets zooming above the stadium.

South Africa, the President, Nelson Mandela and the people of South Africa has indeed put their hearts and souls, trust and hope to prepare for this grand and joyous occasion. 

Let us pray that the South African soccer team orchestrates by Steven Pineear performs on the field as marvellous, clinical and magnificent as the ecstatic opening night.

Friday, June 4, 2010


 An article in the ‘Revolution’ magazine on the Atmospheric Clock in early April this year caught our attention. I never had the prior pleasure of seeing the Atmos what more owning a unit. We did not pursue the matter further because as it is there are already too many clocks in the collections for comfort.

A couple of weeks later we were at a shopping mall in Petaling Jaya walking towards one of our favourite Nasi Padang restaurants. As we were casually strolling along to the restaurant, we noticed a gallery displaying all these vintage stuff and some old clocks including one piece that looked very extraordinary. 

We walked into the gallery to be met by a frail looking pleasant gentleman who volunteered to show us around. He happened to be the owner of the gallery.

Lots of antique stuff including unique wall clocks but we were keener to have a thorough look at that mantle piece that caught our eyes and brought us into the gallery. He obliged us by taking out the clock from the display cabinet and show us how the clock worked. According to him, the clock is an Atmospheric clock that runs on atmospheric pressure. It needs no winding or battery. It has no chimes and runs beautifully smooth. 

Jaeger-LeCoultre is the only company that produced the Atmos.

The clock is gold plated including the glass case. The whole workmanship looked very tidy, sophisticated and regal.

We probed for more information including the accuracy and the after sales service. Bear in mind this is not an ordinary clock that we deal every day and needs lots of thick fat dough too to bring it home. He assured us that the clock is in superb working condition after full service upon securing from overseas.

Well, a bit on the Atmos clock technicalities.

The Atmos clock movement devised by French engineer Jean-Leon Reutter is powered by changes in ambient temperature. A hermetically sealed, gas-filled capsule acts as the agent that winds the clock's mainspring by expanding and contracting when the temperature rises and falls respectively, and a shift of a single degree centigrade is all it takes to power the clock for 48 hours.

Its massive balance, a torsion pendulum, oscillates twice every minute, significantly reducing consumption, while energy loss as a result of friction is also minimised, thanks to its gear construction which is so perfect that it does not even need lubrication.

What is there more for us then to ask since looking for this one unit is like searching for a needle in a hay stack.

Just buy and pay...

Upon paying the normal 10% deposit, took the necessary paper and off we went back to Ipoh.

Back home, we asked some reliable friends in the horology business. Most of them discouraged us  pursuing further with the clock. According to them, no one in Ipoh is capable of servicing the clock in case of any eventuality.

Took two long weeks to ponder on the pros and cons of continuing with the purchase.

In the end, we decided to proceed with the purchase. Last Friday we decided to take the clock home, after all, it’s an Atmos!

We were very fortunate to have Irhomdeys to accompany us to the gallery to inspect the clock before collection as he was just as curious to have a look at this real beau. When comes to vintage clocks and watches, I must say, he is the most knowledgeable and authoritative of all the Malaysian watch and clock bloggers

...and I reckon owning a piece of Atmos is the pinnacle of any serious watch and clock collections.

Thank you Habib...your presence was very assuring.


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