Sunday, 14 December 2008

Rolex - Masters of Time

Within horological history, 75 years is a mere tick. But the same period represents a significant chunk of pioneering efforts, indeed three-quarters of the total evolutionary period, of the wristwatch. During this time, Rolex has enhanced the basic function of time-keeping to embrace expansive parameters of precise accuracy, definitive luxury and awe-inspiring durability. Whatever its merits interpreted by users in the realm of conspicuous spending - their values must be relative to individual snobbery - Rolex still stands tall in the firmament of horological achievements.

First among the pioneers to create a timepiece small enough to be worn on the wrist without it becoming an encumbrance, Rolex in 1914 created a watch of such superlative function that the Kew Observatory in England saw fit to award it the eminent Class A certificate normally reserved for marine chronometers.

With this yardstick to uphold, Rolex went on to win more accolades and to set the level of time-keeping excellence that has rarely ever been matched to this day. And once the level of the watch's basic function had reached its zenith, Rolex did not wallow in complacency. Being innovators, it turned its attention to other features that served to embellish the already applauded technical brillance.

At the beginning of last century, watches still remained an indulgence of the affluent who had the financial security of spending most of their leisure time on feats of daring-do. Aviators, divers and assorted adventurers demanded that their watches should be functional and hardy enough to scale breathtaking heights, plump enormous depths and generally be subjected to the capricious elements they chose to pit themselves against.

Rolex rose to the challenge and perfected the Oyster case carved from a solid block of metal. The winding crown, generally the most vulnerable point on a watch, screws down tightly using a Twin-lock system that seals the system completely giving total protection against water, dust and dirt.

As a result, this metal oyster is perfectly at home in depths down to 100 metres. And greater depths were plumped with the later specialist watch, the Submariner, which, with a helium escape valve, makes it waterproof to 1,220 metres. Professional divers made it an integral part of their equipment.

In 1927, an intrepid young English lady swam the English Channel, not the most salubrious stretches of water by any means, putting her Rolex to the test. Journalists covering her aquatic triumph were equally impressed with the fact that her watch was still functioning without missing a tick and her Olympian achievement.

Down in the gloomy depths of mumbling cold oceans or the rarefied atmosphere of soaring mountains, Rolex has been the choice of many world-renowned adventurers. It was not a coincidence that Sir Edmund Hillary wore a Rolex when he conquered the hitherto unconquerable Kanchenjunga - Mount Everest. At 27,002 feet, this awesome range is daunting to man and machine unprotected by pressurised cover. At 55,000 feet and in a balloon, the elements can be positively fearsome even for Jules Verne's most intrepid explorer. One Julian Holt was undaunted and floated up in his balloon with his Rolex. Both descended to terra firma in ticking triumph.

As the ultimate test of withstanding tremendous undersea pressure, Professor Jacques Piccard attached a Rolex Oyster to the outside of his bathyscape Trieste when he dived to the bottom of the Marinas Trench in the Pacific Ocean. At the mindboggling depth of 10,916 metres - more than one ton of pressure per square centimetre and enough to crush a human skull to pulp - the oyster proved itself equal to the challenge.

This could only be capped but something really revolutionary which Rolex did in the invention of the Perpetual self-winding rotor mechanism, a principle which was adopted by the rest of the industry. The slightest movement of the wrist is enough to activate the system.

And other "firsts" followed. The Rolex Datejust showing the date in a window cut in the dial was a breakthrough in time management schedules. Later came the Day-Date and in a choice of 26 languages.

The GMT-Master and Explorer show the time in two different time zones simultaneously - a boon for long distance travellers and jet-setters.

Even the Oyster-quartz - this electronic innovation was not regarded with reverence by watch-makers of the classical mould - is of a calibre to be regarded as a certified chronometer.

As with any superlative product, hype and brand snobbery are apt to tinge the true reputation, but the kudos that Rolex has earned comes with it the sterling name of Swiss precision and dependability.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Bvlgari Time

Bvlgari jewels are usually made of many different materials, in a great variety of colours and can be worn on many occasions for different lifestyles. The influence of jewellery craftsmanship on Bvlgari watches is evident many timepieces. In steel or gold, with leather, steel or gold wristbands, they are often enriched with diamonds.

In more than a century, the Bvlgari cachet of exclusivity has never been compromised. They sell only in Bvlgari shops, offer an exclusive service and by salemen specially trained by the Bvlgari family.

Bvlgari's Anfiteatro watch is a limited edition piece conceived as a collector's items in two different versions. One in yellow gold with a black watch face (490 pieces) and the other in platinum with an opaline face (95 pieces). Each comes in a handsome leather case.

Inspired by Renaissance architecture, Bvlgari's Bugnato clocks are stunning timepieces reflecting a distinctive style and stonework of the age. Gold is the linking element between the eight clocks in the range. Combined with the strong use of colour in sapphire, coral and citrine, they are certainly collector's items.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Jeweller with a long history

Van Cleef & Arpels treats watch-making like gem carving; beauty gets top priority. Last year, the brand used special craftsmanship, such as enamel protraction and gem setting, on several tourbillon timepieces, infusing the traditional complicated function with a poetic element that impressed a lot of people.

Van Cleef & Arpels originated from a legendary marriage. In 1896, two jeweller families from Holland were united by the marriage of their children, Estelle Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef. Ten years later, the two families co-founded Van Cleef & Arpels, the first jewellers to take up residence in the Place Vendome. Since then, the brand has opened boutiques all over the world.

As a jewellery brand that is favoured by royalty and celebrities, Van Cleef & Arpels uses its exclusive "Mystery Setting" in the development of its timepieces. This unique gem setting technique allows the gems to sit closely without visible metal claws, resulting in a perfect finish. Although the technique is time-consuming, the "Mystery Setting" has become the secret behind the brand's perfect performance.

In the professional watch-making area, Van Cleef & Arpels takes advantage of its natural gem-setting mastery, which when combined with the watch-making, results in jewellery that shows time.

With its Tourbillon collection, Van Cleef & Arpels pays tribute to the most prestigious of watchmaking complications by combining it with dials that are unique in terms of quality of materials and complexity of the techniques used by the master dial makers. The whole collection emphasizes the design of dial through different elements. The most eye-catching are Midnight Hanging Garden and Midnight Caresse d'Eole.

Midnight Hanging Garden is inspired by a 1925 minaudire (small vanity case). The antique Garden of Babylon are illustrated on the dial by a millefiori floral design, enhanced by exceptional multi-coloured enamel and diamond set floral motif. In the Midnight Caresse d'Eole, a Caresse d'Eole fairy is adorned in diamonds and unfolds her wings to accompany the tourbillon movement amidst deep and translucent colours.

The two watches have a platinum case with the 42mm dial meter, and tourbillon movement developed on the base of a Piaget movement.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Complex simplicity

Combining grand complications such as tourbillon, perpetual calendar and the minute repeater with an understated look, Patek Philippe's Ref. 5207 is another wonderful timepiece elaborating the regal style of this brand.

In 2002, Patek Philippe launched the impressive 5002 Sky Moon Tourbillon, which had 12 functions. Annual production was limited to just two pieces. The watch continues to be celebrated today. After six years, Patek Philippe launches 5207, equipped with three mainstream complications, demonstrating the brand's unique understanding of complex functions.

The main feature of Ref. 5207 is the subtle assembly of three mainstream grand complications: tourbillon, perpetual calendar and minute repeater. In the Ref. 5207, the host movement is the coveted calibre R TO 27 PS, which, together with the instantaneous perpetual calendar, becomes the calibre R TO 27 PS QI movement. The movement has received COSC certifications issued by Switzerland's official chronometer testing agency, rare for a movement with so many complicated functions.

According to the brand tradition, the 69-part, 0.3gm tourbillon of the Ref. 5207 is set at the back of the case. So, the owner can only appreciate the rotation through the sapphire-crystal back.

The minute repeater is always considered one of the outstanding features of Patek Philippe; those who have heard the sound of the Ref. 3939 will never doubt this point. Ref. 5207 uses the best steel alloy, the result of many years of research, and optimized the shape and connection of the gongs in cooperation with the internationally respected Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. In addition, Philippe Stern, the president of Patek Philippe, would repeatedly listen to the sound of each of these rare watches to decide whether it is ready for delivery or must return to the workshops for acoustic tweaking.

The topical instantaneous perpetual calendar is displayed by aperture types with discs and uses the newly developed calendar mechanism to solve the problem of energy consumption. It took five years to develop the mechanism, which instantaneously and simultaneously switch the day, date, month, and leap-year aperture displays at midnight. The heart of the invention is a mechanism composed of levers and programme cams for which two patent applications have been filed.

Although the Ref. 5207 has many grand complications, its appearance is simple. The 41mm case is made of platinum and features a discreetly set Top Wesselton diamond between the lugs at 6 o'clock. Meanwhile, the shiny brown alligator strap also provides a balanced beauty.

Despite its many indications, the Honey Gold-hued 18K gold dial is highly organised and unpretentious. The apertures in mirror-polished frames show the day, date, and month along an arc between 10 and 12 o'clock. The date display with its mirror-polished white-gold frame is particularly prominent. The seconds subdial at 6 o'clock has an aperture for the moon-phase display, a poetic yet highly precise indication that deviates from the true lunation by only one day in 122 years. To its left is a small aperture for the day/night indication. The aperture on the opposite side shows the leap-year cycle with Roman numerals I to IV.

The Ref. 5207 is among Patek Philippe's most complicated wristwatches; only very few of these watches will be crafted each year. Because of its limited availability, the Ref. 5207 is sold exclusively in the Patek Philippe Geneva Salons during the introductory phase at present.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Longines Grande Vitesse

Longines' latest sport collection, Grande Vitesse, is inspired by motor sports and a tribute to the fastest men in history. Fluid lines, aerodynamic curves, energy-filled typography, tachymeter and pushers are just some of the distinctive elements of this watch made for speed addicts. Grand Vitesse is luxury sports watch for racing enthusiasts.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Gucci "8-8-2008"

The i-Gucci Beijing Olympics memorial watch collection is named "8-8-2008", the opening date of the games. The new i-Gucci watches feature dual time zones, a huge 44mm dial and a 24-hour international city time zone, including Beijing, of course. The watch strap appears in the "lucky colour", bright red, with the Gucci logo carved inside and "GG" pattern outside the strap.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Omega - Beijing 2008, Unique No. 8 Collection

The limited edition Unique No. 8 Collection is composed of the eighth numbered piece of each of the 32 limited-edition watches in the Omega Beijing Olympic Collection, plus three Olympic Split Second Chronograph 1932 pocket watches, also numbered 008 in their limited editions of 100 pieces. These 35 classic are presented in an elegant black walnut case. The price of such a premium collection worth the premium price: 888,888 Swiss francs.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

The Bvlgari story

The Bvlgari family descends from ancient Greek silversmiths. Founder of the family business, Sotirio Bvlgari was born in 1858 in the small village of Epirus, Kalarites in Greece. He began by making the silver objects thus renewing the ancient local art of engraving. He emigrated to Italy at the age of 21, settling in Rome where in 1884 he opened the first Bvlgari shop in Via Sistina. By 1905, he had moved upmarket to the famous Via Condoti.

His two sons, Constantino and Giorgio were privy to the family secret of silver craftsmanship but they became interested in gemstones. Giorgio spent much time in France searching and perfecting a Bvlgari style in gold and silver. Constantino assembled his knowledge and research to produce the book, "Argentieri, Orafie Gemmari d'Italia", which has become the most authoritative work on Italian gold and silver-smithing.

By the end of World War II, the Bvlgari name became more prominent as a jeweller with a unique style. By 1960, Bvlgari had shops in New York, Paris, Geneva and Monte Carlo. By 1980, the Bvlgari style was available - at a price - in London, Milan, St. Moritz, Munich, Hong Kong, Singapore, Osaka and Tokyo.

Just what is the Bvlgari style?

Permeating the entire production line of watches, pens, lighters and bibelots are unmistakable Bvlgari hallmarks.

* The tubogas, a technique of workmanship used in the 1800s and introduced by Bvlgari into jewellery making. Gold or steel are bent and wound like a spring to hug the wrist or neck.
* The parenthesis theme, consisting of different combinations and aesthetic variations.
* The jewels are made with ancient coins where the coin becomes a natural part of the gold chain.
* In recent years, the most important are pearl jewels where pearls alternate with gold briolletes and boules of coral and turquoise, carre cut stones applied to rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces and brooches, the tubino theme, the doppio cuore, gancio and alveare motifs.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

In the 1930s, when British officers in the Indian Army who calmed their martial armour at polo ordered from the famous Swiss factory Jaeger-LeCoultre a watch capable of withstanding the rigours of the sport, little did they realise they would cause one of the greatest horological phenomena of the century.

In order to meet their rough-riding requirements, Jacques-David LeCoultre and Edmond Jaeger entrusted the best stylist of the period the Parisian engineer Rene-Alfred Chauvot, with the task of creating a case capable of protecting a delicate watch movement under all circumstances.

On March 4, 1931, the Reverso was born when the latter registered a patent describing in detail guide grooves, pivoting stops, ratchet mechanisms for a stainless steel case capable of cushioning from its base and turning completely over.

The Reverso has the longest existing design in the entire watchmaking industry. And since its inception 60 years ago, no one has been able to replicate the Reverso's unique design.

Beneath its transparent sapphire base can be seen the fascinating spectacle of a complication movement in gold comprising 193 pieces handcrafted by the elite of the master watchmakers of Jaeger-LeCoultre.

The traditional screw balance, which oscillates 18,000 times an hour, is driven by delicate wheels, all of which is assembled using flame-blue steel screws.

Its face, in solid silver, with its guilloche pattern machined in the traditional way, faithfully reproduces the original Art Deco style. The hands are in blued steel and the date is in gold.

The 193 pieces of the movement are at the same time individual tiny "jewels" cut from gold and stainless steel and united in a barrel caliber, and all entirely hand-decorated. This mechanical hand-wound movement shows the hours, minutes, seconds, the date and the power reserve.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Timeless prestige: the Jaguar chronograph watch

For timepiece lovers, Jaguar Watch offers the Le Mans '88 and XK chronograph watches, which can be worn with pride and elegance. The Jaguar chronograph watches are the result of the marrying of outstanding craftsmanship with Jaguar's sleek movements and are made of the noblest of materials that make their creations highly personalised possessions.

Totally handcrafted by Swiss master watchmakers, the Jaguar chronograph watches are designed after the classic and distinctive styling, precision performance which is the Jaguar spirit.

The most sought after Jaguar chronograph is the Le Mans '88. Produced in a numbered limited edition of just 300 pieces, the hand-crafted Le Mans '88 enjoyed a phenomenal success when it was presented in 1988.

Jaguar Watch also offers a chance to recapture the spirit of the fifties with a symbol of savoir-faire and aesthetic purity: the XK chronograph watch. This limited edition XK chronograph watch offers the honour and prestige in the eyes of Jaguar's admirers.

Made of the finest materials - non-scratch sapphire glass, solid 18k gold, the highest quality of supple leather and wood inlay, it also features a tachymeter and rapid date-adjust. Its automatic movements are specially customised with three dials that chronograph the seconds, minutes and hours.

The dial of marble-like enamel is protected by a scratch-proof sapphire crystal while the activating push-buttons are in-laid with colour matching stones to match the colour of the dial and strap. The watch buckle is an unusual concealed gold clasp with a double catch.

Water-resistant to a depth of 30 metres, the XK chronograph watch is available in Regency red, British racing green or Westminster blue in solid 18k gold, and, in gold and steel. The distinguishing feature of a Jaguar watch is the inlay of fine-grain bur-walnut that frame the case of the watch and strap.

The solid 18k gold Jaguar chronograph watches are presented in hand-crafted cases of polished fine-grain walnut.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

The name that spells luxury - Cartier

In the world of generics, there are very few names that have been elevated to such status. Think Hoover, Kleenex and Thermos - functional, common-garden products that earned their cachet for being universally used.

It probably would not be long before Cartier earns the same accolade; in the reverential coinage of such as "the Cartier look".

Founded in 1847 as jewellers to the gentry, the Cartier name means more than expensive baubles today. The concept mooted in 1968 with Les Must de Cartier speaks volumes of both cash and cachet. It certainly comes very close to being a generic if not one already as embodied in the tenet.

One simply "must have a Cartier" if one is to reflect class and luxury. The range of Cartier goods today is far-ranging, from lighters to leather goods. And in between, Cartier perfumes and other conspicuous items do separate the hoi poloi from the affluent.

As the largest jeweller in the world and the sterling reputation of being bijou creators to the rich, famous and blue-blooded, Cartier has earned its impeccable credentials. Rare are the collections of the wealthy and royalty that do not have a specially-commissioned Cartier jewel.

In 1984, the Cartier Foundation of Contemporary Art was established and that should take the cachet well into the 21st century.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Watch trends (part 3)

Today, most people own more than one watch. For example, executives may have watches that compliment their status and form part of their working attire, besides owning watches with or without diamonds for evening functions and weekend, sporty watches for casual wear.

The introduction of fashion brand watches has injected very keen competition in the watch business on the one hand, but this has also helped revolutionise the watch market as a part of our lifestyle. The watch business was booming back then and anyone who had a fashion name simply added watches to their product line. Consumers were confused with the fancy and colourful watches that were priced reasonably.

However, these fashion watches added an element of interest in the watch industry, which watch retailers and agents felt was an advantage to the industry.

Within that short span of time, consumers noticed an image problem conflict with the price of the fashion timepieces, which in turn destroys the image of the fashion name. Slowly but surely, the demand for these franchised names sizzled off.

Now, customers are buying simple, classical and mechanical watches that are manufactured by authentic watchmakers.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Watch trends (part 2)

Basically, watches fall in the high, medium or low price range, to meet the needs of different kinds of customers. Those in the watchmaking forte produce good mechanical watches that belong to the higher price range and cater to customers who buy good quality watches that last and depict their status symbol.

Automatic and quartz watches fall in the medium priced range, the bulk of which cater to the professionals and engineers who appreciate the watch movements. And there are also cheap and fun accessory watches.

Presently, a revival of the past is distinct as watchmakers move towards the old style watches with emphasis placed on complicated watches. Watchmakers are also recreating old movements and putting them into new watches. And Swiss watchmaking is making a comeback through authentic, original watches to cater to customers who have become very discerning.

There is also a growing breed of sophisticated buyers who know exactly what they are looking for. They go for value, history of the manufacturer and quality and do not mind paying more for a watch.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Watch trends (part 1)

Since its creation, the wristwatch has always been a marriage of form and function. While it serves as a timekeeping device, its form is a piece of jewellery.

As a jewellery, it traces its roots back to the bracelet, which has adorned the human wrist for many millennia. They are seen on statuary and other portrayals of human adornment and fashion from nearly every era and from around the world.

Its function begins much later. Mechanical means of marking time began in the late 13th century.

While there is no one date for the "invention" of the bracelet watch, some significant steps in its development are traced to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The trend continues in the 19th century. Generally, all watches tell time but a few reveal the sophistication of a customer's taste.

Over the past decades, the watch market has been inundated by countless new brands. Even companies not previously involved in the watch business have diversified into this product line, which keeps the business competitive.

And there will always be customers who want the best the watch industry can offer. Such customers are part of a very selective clientele. They may also own fashion watches as accessories but those serve very different purposes.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Art Watches

Up until the middle of last century, the fine line between what was art and watch design had not been trespassed. In the late 1950s, an American, George Horwitt, a disciple of the Bauhaus movement mooted the theory that machine-inspired aesthetics would be used for everyday objects. His watch design, famous for its simplicity and still available today, features a plain black dial with a single gold dot marking 12 o'clock. It was the first watch face that was permanently put on display as part of the Design Collection at the New York Museum of Modern Art and became known as "The Museum Watch".

In 1961, it was acquired by Movado and has since inspired an entire collection of Movado watches, known collectively as "The Movado Museum Watch Collection". A very thin Movado quartz movement was used to replicate the flatness of Horwitt's design.

Since then, many watch companies have commissioned contemporary artists to either design a specific piece or to grant permission for a work of art to be incorporated into a time piece. Thus was born the Art Watch, meant to be taken more seriously than as the result of whimsy. Most art watches reflect contemporary motifs rather than classicism.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

The living tradition

Edouard Heuer founded the "Edouard Heuer Watch Co." in Switzerland in 1860. While others in the industry pursued the elements of fashion, Edouard, with his passion for innovation, sought new ways of refining the chronograph, improving the stopwatch or inventing new functions for his timepieces. In 1889, Heuer presented the world with the first collection of pocket chronographs.

Throughout the 1920s, Heuer was appointed official time-keeper for the Olympic Games, as well as major skiing and equestrian events. By the 1930s, Heuer had established itself as the world's leading specialist timepiece manufacturers. In 1933, Heuer produced the Autavia, the first automobile dashboard instrument with an hour timer. Heuer also enjoyed a close and successful partnership with Ferrari on the Formula One circuit in the 1970s.

In 1982, the world's first analogue quartz chronograph was launched, carrying Heuer's passion for chronographs over time.

In 1985, Heuer joined forces with a powerful partner - TAG, which stands for Techniques d'Avant-Garde, producing an association that matched the age-old tradition of Swiss watchmaking with the most advanced technology. The result - TAG-Heuer.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


For those with discerning tastes, there is a small but high-quality mechanical watch range. Called Nomos (which means order or law in Greek), it aims to show that simplicity can be designed to be strikingly powerful.

Based on four basic models, three circular watches named Tangente, Ludwig and Orion, and a square watch, called Tetra, the Nomos designs originate from designs made in the 1930s. Plain cases, small bezels and an exemplary clear layout of the dials are special design features of this watch brand.

Depending on the model, movement parts are either gold-plated or rhodium-plated, carrying a Côtes de Genève finish on the base plate. Despite the small bezel, the cases are water-resistant up to 30m. The leather straps come from Kaufmann, one of the most noted manufacturers of watch straps.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

A brief history of watchmaking - The aristocrat

At the aristocratic level, it is still the artists who keep their heads well above the watermark with certainty. Patek Philippe claims to be the only company that will decorate a watch to the customer's choice, and their work is do delicate that the artist may even use a human hair to touch in the finer details. Inside such a watch, there may be up to 800 handmade pieces.

It is comforting to think that such a craft survives mass production, and that there are still chalet-type buildings in the snow, like Blancpain's, where only eight watches a day, individually numbered, leave the workshop for just 150 jewellers' shops around the world. It is also nice to pick up a cheap watch to tide one over when the other one is left accidentally at home. There is, after all, room in the marketplace for all varieties.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

A brief history of watchmaking - The birth of Swatch

Swiss manufacturers were thought to be dangerously ignoring the middle and low end of the markets while stressing the quality end. Something had to be done, and someone was already working on the problem in the suave shape of Dr Ernst Thomke. He'd worked as an apprentice to watch components firm ETA in Grenchen, an area well known for precision timepieces. He then read physics and chemistry, switched to medicine, researched clinical tumours and became a marketing manager for Beechams before becoming managing director of their Swiss subsidiary. As their company was going to the wall because the problems with the watchmaking industry meant dwindling needs for components, ETA invited him to join them again.

Thomke decided the only way out was to produce the world's thinnest quartz analogue (with hands) watch. He code named the research "delirium" and his engineers soon retitled it "delirium tremens". But they succeeded. In 1979, it was launched and 5,000 were sold at US$4,700 each.

Thomke then decided to create a watch that cut out as many components as possible and could be largely machine-made. He linked up with two engineers who finally created a system whereby 50 percent less components than the usual 90 could be used and most could be bonded on to the casing itself in mass production. In test-wearing the watch, they found an oddity. It was noisy and, they said, it tocked instead of ticked. Thomke went to outside designers of international repute in other fields for the visual impact he sought, and to US advertisers for a name that would say everything and bridge languages. It looked good and sounded better... S for Swiss, watch for its function.

The Swatch was brilliantly marketed, sensibly priced at around US$14, and sold 3.5 million in a year in the US alone. While the Swatch needs no internal changes, the 24 watches for gents and ladies have their designs changed twice a year to keep up with fashion trends.

Some traditional Swiss manufacturers were wary of the advent of Swatch, seeing it as downgrading their reputation. Others saw it as a lifesaver.

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