Archive for February, 2008

Saphir – Watch Magazine for Women

Chanel J12 Tourbillon Haute JoillerieNot too long ago I wrote about how women just don’t get the attention that men do from the watch industry. Well here’s a little update.

This week at work we received a copy of Saphir: The luxury Magazine of Fine Timepieces, Jewelry and Fashion. It’s a magazine from the people at WatchTime and as the editor Amy Bernstein describes it, “saphir is a magazine committed to women and their fine timepieces.” Here are some excerpts:

Because women today lead such active lifestyles many watch brands are making strides to give ladies watches that are as functional as they are stylish. In this issue, you’ll find stories on popular new features like the GMT function for that regularly traveling woman and the chronograph for the woman with that sporty edge.

Saphir: If a woman can’t affore – or prefers not to own – many watches, which one would you reocmmend to her?
Wempe:
The answer is very simple. She should choose the one she needs most often and the one that goes best with the greatest number of different outfits.

Saphir: When should a woman opt for a mechanical watch, and when should she choose a quartz one?
Wempe:
That depends on her interests. If she isn’t at all interested in technology or mechanisms, she’d no doubt be happier with a quartz watch. Some women go out and buy a Rolex and are afterwards surprised to discover that they need to wear it every day in order to keep its self-winding movement running. On the other hand, more women are taking an interest in mechanical functions these days and derive real pleasure from them. Personally, I’m fascinated by perfectly functioning mechanical watch movements.

All in all, I found the magazine to be a little bit disparaging. It’s just as much (or more) about the fashion of the watch, even when they are talking about a highly complicated mechanical timepiece, despite what they say. You men however, might enjoy this magazine, it is cover to cover beautiful women wearing even more beautiful watches. And for you women, if your self esteem isn’t that great I wouldn’t pick it up, not the kind of expectations you want your teenage daughter to have for her body – it would be too disheartening.

As for you ladies, step aside, I’ll take the Chanel J12 Tourbillon Haute Joillarie featured in the magazine for myself, after all it’s only about a half a million as shown, more for the one above. The one I really want however is white ceramic with blue sapphires as featured on this blog, but it was a one of a kind, and I can’t afford it either – That’s the watchmaker’s Injustice!

P. S. Since, I’m a man and I don’t feel I can fairly judge this magazine, I have asked my wife to take a look at it and provide some follow-up. Look for that soon! Oh and if you like what you see here don’t forget to contribute to my blog. Thanks!

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Happy Leap Day!

It only comes once every 4 years. Enjoy your perpetual calendars, should you have any.

Five films from Rolex

While visiting the “Timezone Rolex forum they mentioned five new videos on the Rolex web page. They are pretty neat short films about what goes into constructing a Rolex (sort-of). They cover the following topics:

  • The Movement
  • The parachrom hairspring
  • Everose Gold
  • Ceramic Bezels
  • 904L steel

To watch the videos visit their web page at http://www.rolex.com/en/#/en/xml/inside-rolex/rolex-company/obsession-with-perfection/index

Lessons from a day of watchmaking

About a week ago somebody called asking whether I could change a battery in a Baume & Mercier. I told him I could. We have the necessary case opening tool. He was ecstatic, apparently we were the 18th store he had called looking for somebody with the appropriate tool to change his battery. Today he came by because he was in town and we changed his battery, he was very grateful. It’s nice to be able to deliver a unique quality experience and have the customer truly appreciate it.

It should be noted that some Baume & Mercier have a unique keyed screw back, similar in nature to Rolex, but with more rounded grooves. It is just different enough that a Rolex wrench won’t open it and just uncommon enough that there are not a lot of generic openers like there are for Rolex. We used to carrier Baume & Mercier so we have their proprietary tool.

Yesterday a customer dropped off a Seiko quartz whose second hand was missing the marks every time. Today I went to adjust the second hand. I placed the hand precisely on the mark, but there is enough play in the gear train on this (and many inexpensive quartz watches) that the hand only hits the marks on either the rise or the fall, not on both. Luckily this one was really close in one direction and right on in the other direction (after I adjusted it). I hope that is good enough for the customer, it is all the watch will allow.

Today I had two watches which needed new power cells and water resistance tests. One of them passed the test and the other failed. The watch that failed was an older Tag Heuer, but that is a little bit unusual. Tag Heuers seem to be almost as good as Rolexes when it comes to passing water tests (of course the Rolex is by far a better watch and way more water resistant, it just happens that Tag Heuers meet their specifications consistently). Probably 1 in 50 Rolexes I test fails the water test the first time, but I quickly remedy the situation, it is usually due to some debris on a gasket that I overlooked. Maybe 1 in 20 Tag Heuers fails the water test the first time. I usually have to replace a crown and tube or crystal gasket to get them to pass. Today’s watch had a small chip in the crystal right at the gasket, so the crystal and gasket will need to be replaced but I am confident that will resolve the problem.

It amazes me how many people pass up a water test because, although Rolex and Tag Heuer do a pretty good job of passing water tests I have much less luck with other brands, the problems are almost always resolved, but with a simple power cell change and no water test the customer would discover this problem later, which brings me to the last watch of today’s post.

About 6 months ago I serviced a vintage Hamilton which came back today and was not running very well. I hate to see a watch come back; it just makes me sick to my stomach but it is always a learning experience. Today, however, the reason the watch came back was not my fault and not covered under warranty. Beneath the dial of this watch there was a coating of rust! I checked back in my records and I had informed the customer and noted on the job that the watch was not water resistant, but it clearly has seen some water. With vintage timepieces you really need to be careful. Even just washing your hands can cause a serious problem if the watch only has a dustproof crown.

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Hand Pushers

Hand PushersToday for Tuesday’s Tools I present to you my hand pushers. They are very simple tools, but frankly you really need to have good ones. Hand pushers are used for installing hands on a watch. Well made hand pushers will keep you from marking the hands when you install them. This set are Rolex 2089. They are identical to a set of three Bergeon pushers. I also have some inexpensive black and white pushers from India, but they’re in some box somewhere because they are so poorly made I wouldn’t ever use them. The Bergeon hand pushers have replaceable tips and they are well polished and crisp. Each tip is different. There is a small solid end & a large solid end, four tips with varying size holes to accommodate the cannon pinion sticking up through the hour hand and the arbor for the second hand sticking up through the cannon pinion. Many students make their own set of hand pushers as a turning project in watchmaking school, but we did not. It would be easy enough to make a good set on the lathe in about half an hour out of acrylic.

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Environmental concerns in the watchmaking industry

This is a topic I have wanted to expound on in detail for quite a while but I have a hard time finding the information I need. Here are some thoughts, nothing here can be taken as the gospel truth, it is all educated hypothesizing.

Common thought would lead you to believe that a mechanical watch is more environmentally friendly because we all know that batteries and electronics are evil 😉

Quartz watches:

  • The process used for creating batteries and their disposal generates toxins?
  • Billions are produced every year and therefore billions end up in the trash each year?
  • The process for creating semi-conductors is detrimental to the environment?
  • Many are produced in China and therefore less concern is given to the environment in their production?
  • Seiko & Citizen have very favorable environmental reports on their websites.

Mechanical Watches:

  • Mining metals is much better for the environment than producing plastics? 😦
  • Mechanical watches last longer and therefore fewer of them end up in the trash?
  • They require periodic cleaning with toxic chemicals? – These same chemicals are used to clean quartz watches when they are serviced.
  • I have not found any environmental statements from manufactures of mechanical timepieces outside of Japan.

I really want to be able to expound on this topic so if you have any insight as to the kinds of questions I should be asking and where I might find answers please let me know.

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Blu-Ray wins

I am a watchmaker “in a digital world.” I’m sure if you care you’ve heard already but Toshiba has decided not to continue pursuing the HD-DVD technology forfeiting the technology race to Sony and their Blu-Ray technology. So why did Sony win so fast when they fared so poorly in the 1980s VHS vs. BETA format war. The answer . . . Play Station. Sony ingeniously included Blu-Ray technology in their Playstation game console putting a Blu-Ray player into every house with teenagers. So, if you were waiting for the battle to end before you bought your next great toy, it’s over. Buy Blu-Ray!