I was in Hong Kong on a business trip and had a day to myself. Originally planned to go to a few used stores around the city, but it was raining heavily, and I didn't like the idea of being stuck outside far away from a train station. Harbour City is pretty much a self-contained full day shopping experience, and there's about a dozen AD's in the new Ocean Terminal section of the super-mall, so that's where I went. I tried to limit myself to only check out open dials (personal preference) and pieces that I can actually afford...
...and of course, the first place I stopped at was an MB&F gallery. Here's an HM9 steel.
And the HM9 Rose Gold, side by side. It's a pretty subtle gold effect and I didn't much care for it. The HM's (and the other MB&F pieces I saw) were definitely the highlight of the trip. There's just something extremely alien and beautiful about them, it's hard to explain if you haven't seen one in person. I've seen some of the Richard Mille pieces and they feel like glorified Hublot's. MB&F on the other hand feels like ALS-level quality applied to unapologetical weirdness. I absolutely love it. Now, if someone would gift me $250,000...
I made it pretty clear that all of their watches are beyond stratospheric for me, the sales lady was however exceedingly nice and professional and even geeked out at my Tread 2 for a bit. She showed me a video she took of the HM9 movement proof process, which was super cool. They had a bunch of weird timekeeping device around, including this pretty neat, motorized nixie clock. I liked it a lot but wasn't the biggest fan of the idea of getting replacement tubes (which are indeed consumables) from Switzerland.
Next stop was an AD (the name escapes me, but it's one door down from the AP boutique) where I tried a few skeletonized Franck Mullers (less inspiring in person) and a Panerai Carbotech. The better take on carbon is, IMO, the new El Primero Defy 21 Carbon which is a stunner IRL. It's even lighter than I expected and the 360k chrono is mesmerizing as always. Definitely pretty high up on my WTB list.
Not really an open dial, but this Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 is pretty open by Omega standards. Cool watch, I like this color scheme a bit more than the red-on-black of the normal Dark Side of the Moon, but it's a pretty steep price for one of Omega's very many limited editions. Understandably, absolutely no discounts on this one.
On the same floor the Hublot AD had a bunch of these all-sapphire Spirit of the Big Bang's. They looked so wild that I just had to try one on. The AD hinted that they could discount these pretty heavily (gosh, I wonder why) and it came to a price range that I might be able to work with. Then, common sense got the better of me and I realized that the full-on Russian Oligarch look isn't one I cared for. Even with the MB&F detour and a later stop at Richard Mille, I still think that this is the craziest thing I wore that day.
I really wanted to try the Bulgari Octo Skeleton in ceramic but apparently none of the AD's had it yet. The titanium one is mind-bendingly thin and light with the leather strap, it literally feels like holding up a piece of paper with your fingers. Awesome summer watch with about zero readability.
Julian, the Hong Kong AD for Nord Zeitmaschine came out of airport security on a layover to show me his Crossnroll. Absolutely awesome dude with some wild stories about working with microbrands. The Crossnroll is better made than I expected - I wouldn't call the finishing comparable to AP/PP, but it's a step up from Zenith and with the (optional) titanium case it's pretty light and comfortable for a 45mm. The minute hand on the Crossnroll is pretty readable after a bit of practice (and extremely, can't unsee-ablely phallic). The hour reading is a royal PITA as it can take a few dozen seconds for the roller to stabilize for the hour reading. Ultimately, I found it a bit too unreadable for my tastes.
That said, I'm a fan of microbrands, and my next watch is probably going to be the more readable Variocurve, in the same titanium chassis.
I went to a couple other places that I forgot to take pictures. AP was of course entirely out of RO/ROO's and only had a few ugly ones (camo) as display units. I did finally get to see an AP skeleton in person, and the finishing is exquisite, but it's out of my price range without discounts and damn hard to get. Corum was a bit meh, the bubble is cool but quite heavy and I'm afraid a hard knock will shatter the dome, and their high end pieces felt poorly made. RM's showroom in Elements only had a couple ladies' watches.
Also, if you think that the Sub situation here is bad - the two Rolex AD's I went to were not only out of steel Subs, but every kind of Sub/Daytona/Sea-dweller's. I do wonder if they've got a couple in the back waiting for the "right" customer, but maybe the demand situation really is that bad.