Tuesday, June 30, 2009

IWC Sponsers Plastiki

If you happen to sail in the northern pacific, you might find yourself most alarmed when peering over the bow of your vessel. You will find something quite different from the marine life you expected, even though you are some 500 miles off the coast of California, and not a human in sight. You will find a massive "plastic soup", and this "soup" is getting denser by the day. The "soup", twice the size of continental U.S.A is made up of small pieces of plastic derived from 2.5 percent of all plastic ever manufactured since 1950. 100 million tons of it! The ocean currents in the Northern Pacific herd the plastic into a large patch, that ,if we are not careful, will double in a couple of years. If that! Plastic is not biodegradable. It does not disintegrate and does not benefit the food chain, it is actual detrimental, to such an extent that bird skeletons have been found filled to the brim with lighters, brittle plastic pellets and plastic bottle caps. The plastic photo degrades which means, the plastic becomes brittle and breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces, in addition plastic absorbs toxins which may be consumed by fish and end up on our dinner table.
So what can we do about this alarming "plastic soup" discovered in 1997 by Charles Moore? First and foremost is knowledge. Knowing we have a problem, and then once established, we can make an effort to minimise the use of and recycle plastic.

I bet you are wondering what our discussion of "plastic soup" has to do with luxury watches. Good question!
IWC Schaffhausen, luxury watch company known for its collection of Pilot and Portuguese watches concerned about the dwindling resources on our planet. IWC has partnered with a dedicated environmentalist, adventurer and developer of Adventure Ecology, David De Rothschild, on an endeavour to spread the word about global sustainable issues.

Knowing the world gets bored easily and a remarkable adventure is required to spark the interest of a jaded audience, David de Rothschild has come up with a brilliant plan. He is currently building Plastiki on San Fransisco Bay Pier 31. Plastiki is a 60 foot sea vessel or raft made entirely out of plastic soda bottles and other recycled materials. de Rothschild plans to navigate his vessel from San Fransisco to Sydney, over the great undulating waves of our very own "plastic soup".

The journey will begin any day now, as the final touches are being made to the "soda bottle boat."

In honor of this great expedition IWC is releasing a limited edition Ingenieur Automatic Mission Earth Edition "Adventure Ecology" Watch. The commemoration of the mission will be engraved on the back of the watch. The 46mm steel watch houses an in house 80110 calibre automatic movement. David de Rothschild will wear the IWC Ingenieur throughout his voyage.

Bon Voyage!

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Sad Farwell to Michael Jackson

On June 25th, 2009, Michael Jackson left the stage. His sudden departure left the world with a big gaping hole.

Like so many, Michael Jackson songs were a large part of my childhood. After his passing I listened to song after song, particularly "Thriller", and long lost memories came flooding back to me: Memories of shocking pink lipsticks, frizzed hair, banana clips, break dancing, leg warmers, plastic shoes and The A Team. Michael Jackson is an icon in the world of pop, and his sixth album "Thriller" released on November 30th, 1982 is still the best selling album of all time.

(Image)Michael Jackson's custom designed right hand glove made from white spandex and smothered in Swarovski Crystal loch rosen crystals

Michael Jackson loved crystal, and he loved to wow his audience. His stage presence was powerfully electric and the crowd crackled with his energy. In his O2 Arena Concerts ,which were scheduled for this summer, Michael Jackson was going to be dazzling in Swarovski crystals. He had his costume designers integrate hundreds of thousands of Swarovski Crystals into his sets and costumes. The CRYSTALLIZED (TM) Swarovski Elements encompassed 53 unique shapes in 40 sizes and 27 colors totalling 300,000 crystals. The Swarovski Crystal Company, a company who just released a brand new luxury watch line, was inspired by the human race with the "mathe-magical effect". Sadly we won't see Micheal Jackson in his crystals, but they are a tribute to Michael Jackson's life, a life that touched millions.

Farewell Michael Jackson. Rest in peace.
(August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Corum's Admiral's Cup Gypsy Moth IV

Corum Admirals Cup Gypsy Moth IV

Corum is a master of its trade. Watchmaking genius encompassing a wide range of watch creations. Corum's Admiral Cup Collection is one of Corum's most successful watch lines. The Watch depicted to the left of the text is the Corum Admiral's Cup Gipsy Moth IV 44. This watch represents the adventure of the human spirit.
Gypsy Moth IV

Inspired by the famous yacht, the Gipsy Moth, in which Sir Francis Chichester sailed around the world in record time. The Dial of the watch highlights the route taken by Sir Francis Chichester. Just gazing at the the dial fills one with a sense of wonder and amazement at the incredible achievement of Sir Francis. The wonder is further increased by the silhouette of his Gypsy Moth 1V at the 12 'o clock position. The seemingly flimsy yacht sailed below Australia, around the Southern tip of Africa and South America and in the treacherous warm waters off Africa where Hurricanes are spawned.

The Corum Admiral's Cup Gipsy Moth IV 44 Watch is crafted in warm 18K rose gold, 18K white gold or 18K yellow gold. The case is 44mm in diameter with its 12- sided bezel (characteristic of the Admiral Watch Collection) and fluted case. Depicted on the bezel is the 12 nautical pennants. The watch is water resistant to 100 meters and so if you wish to follow sailing dreams, this watch will be an excellent must. The Admiral's Cup Gipsy Moth movement is self winding and has central sweep seconds, rapid adjustable date display which can be easily changed by unscrewing the crown and pulling it out to the intermediate date-setting position. This watch is a Certified Chronometer as a result of 15 days of rigorous examinations and testing by Switzerland's Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometer (C.O.S.C) To gain the distinction of a Chronometer, the watch is subjected to extreme temperatures and position changes.

Corum Admiral Cup watches are one of the finest collection of watches. The Admiral watches are based on the an international yachting regatta known as the Admiral Cup. The Regatta was organized in 1957 by the Royal Ocean Riding Club our of Cowes, on the Isle of Wright in England. It was a biennial event, occurring every odd-numbered year. The period from 1957 to 1999 the cup was completed between national teams with three boats each. In the early years only England and United States took part in the race, but later other countries joined hence the colourful nautical flags on the bezel and dial of many Admiral Cup Corum Watches. This was a prestigious race fit for royalty and in 1971, British Prime Minister, Edwar Heath, captioned one of the winning boats. However it seems the Admiral Cup Race has seen its heyday and the Regatta seems to be winding down. I hope I am mistaken; however, there has not been an Admiral Cup race in 5 years. The race was cancelled in 2001, 2005 and 2007. In 2003 the competition was moved from Ireland to Australia for unknown reasons, and instead of being a competition among countries, it was a competition between various yacht clubs.

The Admiral Cup was a race of incredible endurance, stamina and sheer driving force. The will to win, to succeed, to triumph. I hope we have not seen the last of the Admiral Cup Race. In the regatta's absence (temporary I hope), Corum continues to manufacture exquisite Admiral Cup Watches. Watches that exude a keen sense of the competition, horological competition. Corum unveils new Admiral Cup watches every year, and the response is remarkable and Admiral Cup Luxury Watches are becoming more popular.

The Admiral's Cup Solid Gold Watch is a spectacular example of Corum's fine craftsmanship. The nautical flags are embossed on the Bezel. The nautical flags almost flutter in the gentle breeze as their skippers, in anticipated urgency, wait to embark on their competitive journey. The bright red second hand counts down the seconds. This watch is a Certified Chronometer as a result of rigorous high endurance testing by the C.O.S.C. The wearer can view the mechanical movements of the Admiral's Cup Watch through a sapphire crystal case back.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Luxury Watch Company That Never Went Quartz?

Blancpain Mens' Watch Automatic Tourbillon 18k Rose Gold White Dial on Brown Leather Strap

Blancpain. It is the oldest Watch manufacturer that never went quartz.

Blancpain has never manufactured a Quartz Watch. True to its legacy, it is the only Mechanical Watch Company established before the Quartz Revolution , still around today, that was and is truly Mechanical. Blancpain is a company, that has spanned generations of watchmakers , where every timepiece is crafted to perfection.
  • Blancpain's destiny was not always certain, the company clambered over many hurdles. Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, original 1735 founder of Blancpain worried that his son, Isaac, would not continue in the watch business. He did not seem interested, he would much rather teach. Luckily Isaac's son continued the family watchmaking business. Jehan-Jaques grandson
  • In 1932, 7th generation Blancpain descendant, Frederic-Emile Blancpain, died unexpectedly and his daughter, Berthe-Nellie, did not want to continue in the watch business. The company including all its assets and liabilities was transfered to Berthe- Nellie's father's closest assistant Betty Fiechter, and her associate Andre Leal. They continued the business under the name Rayville Inc.
  • Perhaps Blancpain's largest and most tragic hurdle was in 1971, Blancpain vanished from the world of watchmaking for 12 years, in 1971. Everything went "Quartz" and Blancpain did not have the "Quartz know how" to compete in the "new market." Prior to 1971 Blancpain had accepted the protection of a major watch-industry holding company known as the SSIH -Swiss Watch Industry Corporation Ltd.) In 1971 SSIH new management became "quartizised" and felt that mechanical watches were archaic, outdated and its industrial strategy had no place for ancient watch manufacturing practices. Blancpain fell silent.
On January 9, 1983 ,while the watch industry was still in the euphoric throws of the "miracle of the quartz watch", two men Jean-Claude Biver and Jacques Piguet, came together and concluded that mechanical watches still had a place in society, and two and a half centuries after Jehan-Jacques Blancpain established the company, Blancpain was successfully reawakened.

After thorough examination of Blancpains records, it was confirmed that Blancpain had never manufactured a single Quartz watch, and it was decided then and there that not one Blancpain quartz watch will ever be manufactured in the future. In other words you will never find a Quartz Watch displaying the Blancpain brand name. Blancpain can answer to being the oldest Watch Manufacturer still operating today, and the remarkable feat of never having manufactured a quartz watch.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Deadly Dials and the Glowing Girls.

In researching the various aspects of lume, I happened across The Radium Girls. I decided "The Radium Girls" need more than just a couple of lines in a blog about lume. These girls gave up their life for the "glow-in-the dark hands on dial effect" and a blog honoring their memories is the least I can do.

In 1898 Radium was discovered by a Polish chemist ,Marie Sklodowske Curie, and a French Chemist, Pierre Curie, in the pitchblende of North Bohemia and isolated as a pure metal in 1911.

The characteristics of Radium is crucial to understand the full depth of the plight of the Radium Girls.
What we know now about Radium:
  • Radium is a solid Metal
  • Atomic Number: 88
  • Atomic Weight: 226 (heaviest of the alkaline earth metals)
  • Radium is over one million times more radioactive than the same mass of uranium.
  • Pure Radium is brilliant white, but blackens when exposed to air.
  • Radium is luminescent exuding a faint blue color.
  • Radium's decay product, radon gas, is radioactive.
  • Radium is chemically similar to Calcium and is thus "bone seeker" replacing Calcium in bones.
  • Radium is carcinogenic and thus inhalation, injection, ingestion or body exposure to Radium can cause cancer, bone decay and degeneration.
  • Emitted energy from the decay of radium ionized gases results in sores on the skin and a host of other illnesses too numerous to name.
The Curie lab notebook has many interesting findings about the properties of Radium; however, the notebooks are too highly contaminated to be handled safely.
The perception of Radium in first decades of 1900's:
One of the hundreds of articles I found in regard to the almost magical healing properties of Radium. The Article I quote below is from the Appleton Post-Crescent, Saturday, February 28, 1920:
"The greatest successes encountered in the use of Radium for therapeutical purposes have come from the larger cities, the colleges and the more important hospitals...... Trained surgeons working with Radium specialists at General Memorial and Women's Hospitals in New York...The use of Radium is slowly but surely spreading to all portions of the country.... It will soon be possible for anyone to secure the advantage of Radium treatment."
Needless to say Radium was a hit in the 1920's for its medicinal powers as well as its eery luminescence.
U.S Radium in Orange, New Jersey was a defence contractor who was the major supplier of radio luminescent watches to the military. Over a hundred women were employed at the plant between 1917 and 1926. There main job was to paint radium-lit watch faces and instruments.
In 1917, Quinta, Albina and Amelia Maggia ,ages 16, 17, 18 got their first jobs. They were so excited to contribute to the family income and work together. Amelia died first, her body exhumed but her bones still glowed. I suppose you can say she suffered the least, Quinta and Albina, first became anemic as Radium replaced Calcium in their bones, their teeth fell out and bones began to rot.
The job at US Radium was easy enough paint the watch dials with "magical glow in the dark paint". There were a couple of easy rules given to the girls:
NEVER WASTE THE PAINT. NOT EVEN A DROP. The paint was expensive. To avoid wasting the slightest drop, the girls were told to point and clean the brushes with their lips. The mixture of glue, water and radium powder did not taste odd or smell funny and so the girls pointed the brush with their lips about six times per watch dial.
When four girls died between 1922 and 1924, the city health official became concerned that possibly there were some health concerns at US Radium. The Consumers League, formed in 1899 and fought for safer workplaces, and editor of New York World, Walter Lippman were alerted to the suspicious deaths of these young girls. The deaths were said to have been caused by other unrelated illnesses.
The girls at US Radium noticed something strange, when they blew their nose the hanky would glow, one girl glowed all the way down her back, another on her hands and another on her legs; however, they kept on placing the Radium paint on their lips to point the brush.
Grace Fryer, a former US Radium employee, jaw began to decay and she couldn't understand why. Finally a doctor suggested it might be her prior job (she was now a bank teller) had something to do with it. Something to do with it indeed and she decided to sue. It took two year of persistence and agonizing debilitating pain to find a lawyer who agreed to take her case - Raymond Berry. Four other girls ,all of whom were suffering tremendously, took part in filing a lawsuit, on May 18th,1927, against US Radium in a New Jersey court. They were Edna Hussman, Katherine Shaub, Quinta MacDonald and Albina Larice. They became known as "The Radium Girls" and requested $250,000 each.
The case went to court and Berry alleged US Radium knew about the detrimental effects of Radium, but did not inform the girls. The case was just in its infancy and US Radium's high powered attorneys pulled all strings to keep the case moving at snails pace. Meanwhile another girl ,Amelia Maggia, died and her body buried, Cause of death was said to be Syphilis, but a couple weeks before she died her dentist, Joseph P. Knef, removed her decaying jaw bone and ran tests to confirm high radioactivity, specifically radium necrosis.
The media got wind of the story, and all the while the Radium girl's conditions deteriorated so much so they could not even attend their second hearing in court. Marie Curie ,the discover of Radium, said she had never heard of such a disease, but one thing she knew, once the Radium entered the body, there was absolutely no way to get it out. The girls would die. She implored better methods for dealing with Radium. (Curry died from Radium poisoning in 1934). Although the girls were dying, Berry was determined to see their day in court, but the Judge adjourned the case, it later came to light that the judge himself had stocks in US Radium Corporation.
After extensive media coverage, political intervention and the unfailing efforts of Berry, Hamilton and Walter Lippmann, editor of New York World Newspaper, US Radium thought it best to seek an out of court settlement for the dying girls. The girls would receive $10,000 each and a $600 a year annuity while they lived, and all medical and legal expenses shall be paid for by US Radium. Berry was upset about the final amounts awarded to the girls, he felt US Radium Corporation got let off too easy.
The Radium Girls' death highlighted the need for greater safety precautions in other Radium factories, safety in the work environment and a huge milestone for the labor rights movement. Many Radium dial painters survived as a result of Grace Fryer persistence even in the face of powerful opposition. Grace Fryer died, but her memory lives on.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Girard-Perregaux unveils a white gold Jackpot Tourbillon

The Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945 Jackpot Tourbillon is now encased in white gold. This miniaturized marvel of supreme craftsmanship comprises of 504 intricate parts. The first time the Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945 Jackpot Tourbillon was unveiled, in rose gold (see inset below) , it caused quite a stir among watch enthusiasts. "Taking on a gamble" generates an entirely new meaning when investing in the Jackpot Tourbillon. Gerard-Perregaux has incorporated three profoundly different mechanical operations; the Watch, the Slot Machine, and the Jackpot Tourbillon under a gold bridge. The Watch measures the passage of time; the slot machine uses time, and it is said The Tourbillon reduces the effect of gravity on the Watch movements. In addition, the Watch is equipped with a mini striking mechanism perfectly proportioned to the Vintage 1945 case.
On the dial at the 12 o'clock position, three slot machine symbols are revealed. The slot machine is not a artistic depiction of a slot machine. The Slot Machine is a scaled down model of the real thing and it really works:
Pull the handle on the right side of the watch case and the game begins. The reels spin, symbols blurring in black and white as they whiz past the 12 o' clock window. The reels stop and one symbol out of a possible five is displayed. A hammer strikes a gong; chiming with a typical slot machine ring, and one out of a possible 125 combinations is displayed. Only one of the combinations represents the jackpot: Three bells in a row. The actual Slot Machine Mechanism is initiated when the handle is pulled, the rack slides upwards. At the racks highest point, the reel starts spinning as the rack slowly descends. Two-thirds of the way down, stoppers are activated halting the reel one at a time, in sync starting the striking mechanism.
The creation of this cleverly integrated watch took months of meticulous planning. An entire new calibre GPFAY08 Jackpot Tourbillon.
The gaming mechanism of the slot machine is operated by a rack initiates and stops the reels, and activates the chimes. The choice of symbols were were warrant of much thought and research. The symbols were reproduced from the 19th century "Liberty Bell" slot machine, named in reference to the independence of the United States. The symbols are etched on gold reels, and then beautifully lacquered, the suit of spades, hearts, diamonds and horseshoes. The Bells that provide the Jackpot appear at random.
The Watch Back is fitted with an anti reflective sapphire-crystal so that the Mechanical Watch/Slot Machine Wearer can marvel at the symphony of the complex movements. Another amazing aspect to the watch is the 96 hour Power Reserve. Owing to the incredible detail and precise detailed craftsmanship, this watch is available in very limited numbers

Monday, June 15, 2009

Concord CEO jumps ship.

The CEO of Concord, Vincent Perriard, has resigned from Concord. He is now joining an entirely different kind of watch company ,TechnoMarine-a lower end; higher volume company. It will be interesting to see if Concord will continue its voyage through the galactical influences of watch design like the Quantum Gravity Tourbillon or turn back time and restore production of the iconic Concord Collections such as Delirium, La Scala and Saratoga.
The Quantom Gravity Tourbillon definitely has a place in time and space; however although the craftsmanship is outstanding and the design out of this world, I feel the watch is targeted specifically to die hard Star War fans. It is a watch I have blogged about with much interest and I was particularly entranced by the strange green goop that measured power reserve - Not a watch for everybody, but highly creative non the less. Click here to read more about the Quantum Gravity Tourbillon.
Although the new Concord Collections such as the C1's are awesome, I kind of missed the iconic Deliriums, prolific La Scala's and captivating Saratoga watches.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wow! What a Watch Collection from Swarovski watches!

Eye Catching and sparkling like the magnificent lights in Times Square, these Swarovski D:Light watches keep time in a dazzling digital format. The 171 crystals encrusting the bracelet are cut with timeless precision. The timeless precision of Swarovski crystal.

Swarovski crystal was founded in 1895 by Daniel Swarovski who completed a two year apprentice in his father's small factory and then went onto become one of the most revered crystal manufacturers of today. Like so many small companies, Daniel Swarovski had big dreams for his crystals and he invented a machine that revolutionized the process of cutting crystal. He moved away from his competition so that his crystal cutting contraption would be kept a secret, and he setteld in Wattens, Tyrol where he had enough space to build a large factory building and the resources of power and water.

Now Swarovski is incorporating years and years of exquisite crystal cutting and introducing a new collection: The Swarovski D:Light watches. The watches can be worn as a glittering braclet and in an instant the crystals can display the time. Lights beneath the crystals can turn on and off displaying the correct time in digital format. The The watch is available in steel and gold PVD models.
Swarovski has certainly introduced a unique aspect of time display whereby the crystals display the time rather than being a mere window for time display. The movement is Swiss Quartz.
The watches are priced between $1,500 and $1,700.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Another weird Watch Story and Water Resistance of a Watch.

It seems that watches are prone to weird stories. Maybe it is the abstract fleeting of time that prompts these stories or maybe watches just get into all kinds of trouble. At any rate I surfed upon a story about a fish and a watch under the "Weird story" category on AOL. I then went straight to the source of the story from The Garden Island. A newspaper reporting on events in Port Allen, Hawai and the surrounding areas.

A Kaua‘i resident spots a nenue, (a fish- Not familiar with a nenue myself. I am a watch person, not a fish person) , flailing near the shore and he grabs a stick , hits it a couple times till the fish is limp and hauls it in. The fish is fatter then a nenue fish should be and he dumps it in his cooler next to his frozen chicken. Next thing, his friend opens the cooler and discovers a gold watch laying near the fishes mouth, and ,believe it or not, the watch is still ticking.

Look likes a nice watch from the picture.

Fact or fiction, I don't know, but the watch was still ticking. This story is a good reminder to check the water resistance of your watch. Who knows maybe the gaskets are slightly worn away or pool chemicals have slightly hampered the effectiveness of the water resistance of your watch. Summer is upon us and additional watch care is crucial to the life of your watch. The quality of Water resistance decreases with time unless you service your watch every 2 to 3 years. Water Resistance is not permanent, and we want the watch to keep ticking well after it has been swallowed by a fish... and coughed up again.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Flattest Skeletonised, Hand-Decorated Manual-Winding Movement in all the World and for a very Good Cause.

  • The Watch: Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Watch
  • The Cause: Action Innocence - a European non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of children on the Internet. Action innocence manages various websites which educates children on how to protect themselves in the vast open landscape of cyberspace.

For the tenth anniversary of Action Innocence Vacheron Constantin, founded in 1755, has crafted an intricate one-of-a-kind Patrimony Traditionelle skeleton watch which will be auctioned during a June 18th gala dinner in Geneva. The money raised will be donated to the ongoing cause of Action Innocence.

The slender skeletonised bridges are hand carved white gold with an "ottoman" decor to compliment the theme of the evening. At the 9 'o'clock position on the side of the case-middle, the words "Action Innocence" are engraved from white gold. The pierced mainspring barrel bares Vacheron Constantin's iconic symbol - The Maltese Cross encircled with the engraved words "Vacheron Constantin Geneve" The white gold dauphine hands point to a clearly defined minute track with subtle white gold hour markers.

Clearly the skelotinized dial is a show of remarkable expertise and incredible design, which enables the admirer to view the flattest (only 1.64mm) manual winding caliber Vacheron Constantin Calibre 1003 in the world. An unbroken record set in 1955. This slender movement includes 18 jewels, 31 hour power reserve, as well as a screw adjusted balance beating at 18,000 vibrations per hour. The movement is emblazoned with the Seal of Geneva - a Seal which I blogged about in quite a bit of detail. The Seal of Geneva is nothing to turn ones nose up to, it is quite a big deal. The Watch has adhered to 12 of The Seal of Geneva's absolute quality criteria originally outlined by the Canton of Geneva in 1886. (Click here to discover more about the Geneva Seal)

The plum crocodile strap with a white gold buckle completes the watch in a spectacular display of watch craftsmanship.