Monday, August 4, 2008

The constant quest to measure time. Luxury Watch Makers strive to impress.

For centuries, great minds sought to create instruments to measure the passage of time. The oldest, of which, is the sundial dating back to 1500 BC. Earlier than that, men looked at the sun and stars , and the glowing horizon to determine time. The main problem was the driving force - the everlasting constant characterizing time. Weights were use prior to the 1600's, but unless one was thinking of opening up the earliest "Crunch" chain, then this was not the option. Weights were heavy and bulky. Henlein was our first glimmer of hope, he received 15 florins for his gilt musk-apple with a watch in 1524. Thanks to Henlein, the door opened, and innovations and advancements in watch making increased.
At first, the watch movements were made of steel, and then brass. These watches had straight verge movements with no balance springs. They were quite inaccurate "to put it mildly", and had only an hour hand. In addition, they were quite a handful having to be wound twice a day. However, they were the stepping stone to the precise "to the 10,000th of a second determined by the Tag Heuer time-keeping of today.

The movement and the display of the following centuries of watches were quite similar. The watch face, with the traditional hour, minute and second hands, rotating round a central axis and indicating the time on the circumference of the watch face.

A new wave of telling time has infiltrated the watch market, unique and ingenious ideas, confusing our earlier Kindergarten knowledge. Scrap the idea of Ms Hobbs standing before the the class in her sunny yellow dress dappled with tulips, holding a large poster of the watch face with bold red hands.

Now, look at this watch...

The Urwerk UR-202 series. A different way to tell the time. Confusing at first, but once one gets used to the idea, it actual is more simple than the traditional watch face. In the center of the watch is telescopic minute hands which operate through the center of the revolving and orbiting hour satellites. (Kind of like the planets revolving around the sun, spinning on there own axis- I wonder if Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei had such galactic thoughts when designing this watch- I have no doubt) The telescopic hands adjust their length to follow three vectors marking the minutes. The dial is large and easy to read , and since the telescopic hands retract, the size of the case is minimized to provide the wearer with absolute comfort. In addition, this unique watch houses an innovative new winding system regulated by compressing air utilizing miniature turbines. This watch is a re-invention of an old concept.

Another unique watch created by Urwerk, is the 103 collection. Within this collection is the Titanium Aluminium Nitride Urwerk, this TiLAN coating, is the hardest know material known to the World of Watches. This coating , only 4 microns thick, increases the resistance of the underlying metal to scratches, oxidation, shocks and even acids. The coating turns the watch a burnt plum color which is quite appealing. The time display is unique to the 102 collection; however,I think, not as effective as the 202 series.

These watches , although, available in the present, hold a hint of taste to the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment