Thursday, January 26, 2012

America's First Woman Watchmaker CEO.

In 1890, three brothers launched a successful watch company, so successful that kings, actors, explorers, navigators and astronomers from around the world used their timekeeping instruments. By 1916, all three brothers had died leaving the million dollar business in the hands of their sister. She knew of the business only through discussions at the dinner table, as she was their home-maker, but had very little horological training; however, she felt a tremendous responsibility to the then 60 year old enterprise baring her family name and she, Martha Wittnauer, learned every aspect of the watchmaking business. The Wittnauer watchmaking business.

In 1872, young Albert Wittnauer, then just 16 and already a skilled watchmaker, arrives in New York from Switzerland to work for his brother-in-law J. Eugene Robert, a watch importer. Two years later, he is joined by his older brother ,Louis. Albert is now quite familiar with the American Watch Market and wants to provide them with a watch having the same functionality and durability as the Swiss imports but priced much lower, thus, in 1880, the Wittnauer Brand is born. America loves the watches and in 1890 J. Eugene Robert transfers the business to Albert. On Maiden Lane, in the hub of New York's jewelry and watchmaking business, the company employs only the best including H.A. Lungrin (inventor of the chronograph system); Ferdinand Haschka who went on to become the head watchmaker at Tiffany & Co, and Charles Johns, who years later crafted a 80-jewel perpetual calender chronometer displayed at the 1939 World's Fair. It was in 1899, when Louis died of tuberculosis and Albert spend more and more time in Geneva overseeing the watch productions. Emile managed the New York offices.

Explorers ventured to uncharted territory, and A. Wittnauer Company became the watchmaker of choice. The accuracy of their chronometers was renowned and used by navigators, explorers, geographers and navigators.

It is interesting to note, in 1904, Albert Wittnauer incorporates the A. Wittnauer Company. He as the president and his brother Emile as vice president, no mention is made of Martha Wittnauer. Women in America at this stage had very little say as the 19th Amendment granting women equal rights was still 16 years away. Martha although adored by her brothers and an able homemaker had no say nor part in the company.

Under the extremely talented Albert Wittnauer, Wittnauer watches became the first company to adapt its watches to aviation. In the dawn of the twentieth century, many aviation pioneers, celebrities, political figures and explorers wore a Wittnauer watch. Amelia Earhart, Richard E. Byrd, Howard Hughes, Kingsford Smith and a host of others dependent on the precision of a Wittnauer chronometer.

In 1908, Albert dies of tuberculosis at the age of 52 and Emile takes charge. Wittnauer now moves uptown to 36th street. In 1916, Emile dies, and now the company is left to Martha Wittnauer, their sister. It is a time when very little women are in authoritative positions. Most women were either working in factories or sitting in parlors. It was a man's world, where women had very little say in matters. Martha felt an overwhelming strength of responsibility, and judging from her almost immediate control of matters she was a women of incredible resolution.
There are many company histories of young entrepreneurs building up huge fortunes and successes, but the incredible step Martha took, influenced America's view of women.

In the 1920's, Martha told a reporter at The Lima News: Running a watch business has many things in common with homemaking tho. The same principles underlay both - harmony. Given good craftsman, and encourage them to co-operate and the outcome is sure to be harmonious.

Martha was a compassionate boss who provided security to her staff, some of who remianed at the company for upwards of 35 years. She understood when an employee needed to return home to Switzerland every summer to attend to his Alpine goats, or when another employee child or wife was ill.

She was the first women to be elected into the Horlogical Society of America. Under her supervision, the Wittnauer watches aided the War efforts. In 1918, Wittnauer introduced the Wittnauer All-Proof, the first waterproof (term no longer used), shock proof, anti magnetic watch. The incredible resilience of the timepiece was dropped from airplanes, flung from the Empire State Building, ventured into the Amazon Jungle and climbed the Himalayas, Alps and Andes. The company creates a Wittnauer aircraft watch for the U.S. Army Air Corps the first clock designed specifically for a military aircraft. In 1926, it is the A. Wittnauer Comapant providing the official timing for America's first radio network - The National Broadcasting Company.
An A. Wittnauer timepiece assist the success of countless historic events:
  • Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennet consults an A. Wittnauer timepiece while flying over the North Pole, a first for mankind.
  • In June of 1926, Clarence D. Chamberlin and Charles A. Levine, completed the first trans-Atlantic flight in "Columbia", their Wright-Bellanca monoplane.
  • In 1928, Captain Charles B.D. Collyer and John Henry Mears circle the globe in 24 days by air and sea thus surpassing the orbiting moon by three days. They used A.Wittnauer timepieces to track their time.
  • In 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first women to fly solo across the Atlantic in her Lockheed Vega-5B monoplane equipped with A. Wittnauer timepieces.

In 1936, in the midst of the depression, the sale of luxury items is suffering and Martha Wittnauer decides to sell A. Wittnaurt to Hella Deltah Company, a successful pearl manufacturer. The sale would ensure the survival and success of the company.

Now Wittnauer is part of Bulova and is manufacturing timepieces with the same longstanding tradition and high accuracy attained by the original Wittnauer siblings.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Roger Dubuis New Velvet Collection Whispers to Women

Roger Dubuis releases a passionate collection of ladies watches - The new  Velvet Collection.  The piece resembles a cascading evening gown accentuated by fine jewels.  The Velvet Amethysts and Spinels piece, of which only 188 shall be available, exudes a royalty of character emphasized by the color combination of rich deep purple and shimmering black.  The purple is due to the rich color choice of the purple amethyst and purple Spinals.  
If you are not familiar with the term Spinal, don't be to disheartened, Spinals are precious gems in themselves - thought to be part of the Corundum family.  The red spinals are often confused with rubies, but in fact are quite different stones. Spinals are found in a variety of colors - the red and cobalt blue spinal.  The purple color spinal owe its hue to iron and chromium.  Spinals require very little treatment as in nature they are flawless and transparent. Amethysts and spinals have slightly different refractive indexes creating a mysterious -almost unconscious - perception of contrasts on the bezel.  A 36 mm black titanium and DLC case exudes a subtle sense of power.  
The dials, numerals and applique darken beneath a coating of DLC (Diamond Like Carbon). However DLC is not merely to set the mood -  turn down the lights (if you know what I mean) .  A surface treated with DLC increases its hardness to that of Sapphire and 5 times that of steel.  DLC increases the scratch resistance, durability and resilience of the surface as well as reducing friction.  The dial further plays with the light by utilizing a black brushed sunray effect surrounded by purple elongated Roman numerals. 

This model is also available in white gold smothered in no less than 100 diamonds totaling 1.77 carats. (left inset)

With gratitude to Roger Dubuis, the New Velvet Women's collection is powered by a Roger Dubuis in-house RD 821 automatic mechanical movement. The movement was designed, developed and produced in-house.

A signature mark of this new collection is the bejeweled lugs which fit smoothly into the case making the transition between watch case and strap not a transition at all, but a seamless flow of elegance. 

This model fulfills the new requirements for the Geneva Seal, a feat of which only a handful of watchmakers have achieved.  To date Roger Dubuis - the first watchmaker to meet the new criteria for the Geneva Seal- is the only watch manufacturer to have 100% of its new watches to reach the demands required for the new “Poinçon de Genève”.  Click here to read about the new “Poinçon de Genève” requirements

Amethyst Greek Mythology: 

This timepiece has an alternative function other than creating an image of exalted elegance and precisely indicating the time.  Alternative function that is if you relate to Greek Mythology.  The Ancient Greeks believed the amethyst had the power to prevent drunkenness.  Even the word amethyst is derived from the Greek word - "amethystos" -  "not drunken".  So pertinacious they were in their belief, they even had wine goblets crafted in amethyst. In Greek Mythology the young maiden, Amethystos, was insistently pursued by the god of drunkenness and wine ,Dionysis. She refused his advances and prayed to the gods to remain chaste.  Her prayers were answered by the goddess Artemis who transformed Amethystos into a white stone. So taken by Amethystos's fervent wish to remain chaste, Dionysus poured wine over her white stone as an offering.  The wine dyed the crystal purple.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Mysterious Chinese Tourbillon and the History of Chinese Timekeeping.

What you are looking at is a genuine tourbillon crafted in China by horologically gifted Kiu Tai Yu.

Why has Kiu Tai Yu named his watch the Kiu's Mystery Tourbillon? Well we will come to that later, but first lets see how a Mao Zedong medal maker from Soochow (near Shangai) crafted the first Asian Tourbillon.

Although, Kiu Tai Yu was born in China, and not in the Swiss valleys, he was drawn to watchmaking. His friends at school brought old heirlooms and broken mechanical watches, and Kiu Tai Yu fixed them to perfection. He was mesmerised by the mechanical workings of the timepieces and drawn to the art of watchmaking.
Although China is not usually associated with complicated watch making, its history spans a thousand years. In the year 1088, 11th century Chinese engineer, polymath, diplomat, astronomer and prolific writer, Sung Song, created Su Song’s "Heavenly Clockwork" tower.

The Tower was a remarkable feat of precision timekeeping of that time spurred by a small discrepancy in time. A discrepancy of a full month. Su Song - in the time of the dragon throne - arrived a full month early to a meeting between him and certain northern barbarians. Su Song (1020-1101) ,who was not used to be kept waiting, was actually scorned at his obvious lack of even the most rudimentary of timekeeping. Thus Su Song's "Heavenly Clockwork"- a water driven astronomical clock tower was built. A mechanical masterpiece, even by today's standards, was 10 meters high and consisted of five stories. It was a pagoda-like structure which used flowing water to turn a giant water wheel at a precise, steady rate made possible by an escapement. Wheels, shafts and levers worked in perfect unison to signal, with the aid of puppets, bells, drums, gongs, and whistles, quarter hours. The escapement, now known as Su Song's escapement, kept the water running at a steady rate . Positioned at the very top was a large armillary sphere and a celestial globe portraying the position of the stars. The sphere and globe were able to indicate errors made by official astronomical observations.

(Inset - Museum prototype)

China's long history in time keeping dated back even further to the year 723. In the days of the Tang Dynasty the escapement was applied to a water powered armillary sphere and clock drive.

Thus China's modern day watch maker, Kiu Tai Yu, stands in good company.

There was a complication above all others that intrigued Kiu Tai Yu, the tourbillon. Invented in 1795 by Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Bregeut, a tourbillon was said to counter the effects of gravity on a pocket watch. In a traditional tourbillon, the escapement and balance wheel rotates in a cage at one rotation per minute; however,in 1993 Kiu Tai Yu introduced a tourbillon which required no bridge or carriage. This invention was just two years after he created the first Asian Tourbillon.
When the timepiece was unveiled the question on all watch aficionado lips was:
Lacking a bridge or carriage, how was the tourbillon supported?
The effect was indeed mysterious and created quite a stir among European watch makers. Kiu Tau Yu had achieved this illusion by suspending the balance-wheel atop its spring from a transparent bar of crystal. Kiu Tau Yu reduced the carriage to its barest functional necessity, fashioned it in the like of a pair of fish, and pinned one to the balance-spring.

Born in 1946, Kui Tai Yu made his first mechanical watch at 23; in 1978, he crafted an escapement without pallets and in 1980, Kiu Tau Yu moved to Hong Kong and opened his shop Kew and Cie - dealer in clocks and fine wrist and pocket watches.

Since, 1993, Kiu Tau Yu has created many more one-of-a-kind tourbillon watches, which all have a distinctive Chinese look. Utilizing lacquer, gold, red, curves, and Chinese ideograms, Kiu Tau Yu has created a unique look coveted by watch collectors. Each watch is a single unique work of art drawing on Ancient Chinese architecture for inspiration.
Kiu Tai Yu, has studied all possible technical aspects of the tourbillon enabling him to redesign this compelling complication. It is amazing to note that every timepiece crafted by Kiu Tai Yu, from case to dial, to movement within, is entirely handmade .
His craftsmanship techniques are so well respected that his book "Time in Pocket"was adopted by a Swiss watchmaking school as a standard reference work.

As far as I can tell the Tourbillon No.14, called "Joy of the Millennium", crafted wholly in platinum, is his latest piece. This piece is unique in its dial organization in that a large upper bridge supports the tourbillon carriage. The hour indicators are off-center and in the lower part.
When one thinks of China and watches, one generally thinks of plastic bubblegum watches stamped with cute cartoon characters or cheap replicas manufactured by the hundreds of thousands. One does not think of fine cutting edge horological craftsmanship, but let that not deter you, because one must remember China has been in the business of precision timekeeping for very long. Very long indeed.
China's economy has surged past Japan to become the second largest global economy, and luxury items are in high demand. Luxury items such as fine timepieces crafted to perfection.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The man behind the Movado Museum Watch.

Perhaps one of the most recognizable watch today is the Movado Museum Watch. Clearly identifiable, even from quite a distance away, is the large dot at the 12 'o'clock position symbolizing the sun at "high noon". The watch is genius in its simplicity, and timeless in design.

This watch is the brain child of Nathan George Horwitt. Born in Russia, he came to the United States as a young boy. He attended City College and NYU; he then studied at the Art Students League of New York.

Nathan George Horwitt served in the army in World War I, returning home, he joined E.R Squibb & Company as an advertising copywriter. Eventually he became the director of advertising. Nathan was becoming antsy,he felt the world was lagging behind in innovations and fresh ideas.
"Even in a Depression, we need to know the time in newer more innovative ways," he thought.

In the 1920's Nathan was brimming with ideas, and thus opened a company in Manhattan called Design Engineers. He would patent an idea and sell it to a manufacture. Only just managing to get by, he closed the company after just three years. However, Nathan creative mind could not squash the flow of idea's. Consequently in the 1930's he patented idea after idea,18 in all ,many of which were watch related.

Nathan had one basic idea. If he wanted to know the time, he did not wish to stop and study his watch cluttered with Roman Numerals, and an insistent second hand. Nathan admitted he did not have to keep track of the seconds, but rather wanted a watch that could tell the time with a quick glance. In addition, he wanted a watch that would please him with a simple elegant beauty.

Nathan first designed the "jump clock", and Cyclometer, the latter having a construction which allows the hour numerals to be large in relation to the size of the clock. Both patented around 1936, were highly praised by authorities in the field of time pieces; however, these clocks never made it into the manufacturing stage as this would require complete retooling of the existing machinery. No one at this stage would take the chance.
Thus, during the next 20 years, Nathan's patented brilliant, innovative ideas struggled to take hold.

In 1954 Nathan entered his latest innovative idea as "the dot at the top" watch. Initially the watch was rejected by the patenting office, stating that the dial of this watch was not an innovative idea and thus could not be patented. Nathan did not give up, backed by a multitude of personalities in the design, he pushed forward.
Edward Steichen, an expert on design as the Director of Photography in the Museum of Modern Art said at the time ..." I believe that your design for the face of a watch is the only really original and beautiful design I have ever seen..."

Nathan received his patent, but still struggled to find a company who would take the risk of producing a watch with a modern, cutting- design. Nearing the end of 1960, Movado, a Watch Company formed in 1881 by 19 year old, Achille Ditesheim, recognized the design as an icon of modernization and decided to add "the Museum Watch" to its collection.

In 1960 Nathan's "dot-at-the-top" Watch Dial became part of a permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. It was the first Watch Dial to be awarded this distinction. Thus the "dot-at-the-top Watch became known as the "Museum Watch".

Nathan Horwitt was indeed ahead of his time. His "Museum Watch" is still highly popular, stunningly simple, and aesthetically beautiful.

Nathan Horwitt died in 1990, at the age of 92

Thursday, January 19, 2012

New Hublot King Power Unico GMT Bares a Striking Resemblance to Urwerk 103

The Hublot King Power Unico Gmt is an incredible feat of watchmaking technology, but although the movement is a brand new in-house Hublot construction, it bares a striking resemblance to the Urwerk 103 collection - save for the analog time display. 
All comparisons aside, I think the Hublot King Power Unico GMT is an exciting step into the companies consistent focus at innovative time display.
 The new time display enables the timepiece to track 24 different timezones which are located on the bezel and at an angle on the edge of the dial.  At first glance the time display may seem a tad overwhelming, but it is a 24 hour time zone watch.  Within the dial, the four GMT discs move with the main time while red indicator lines display the differing timezones.

Urwerk UR 103T
The powerful Hublot caliber HUB 1220 automatic GMT movement has the capability of a 72 hour power reserve.

The Hublot King Power Unico GMT is housed in a 48mm case and available in black ceramic or 18k gold. 
Personally I think satellite discs work better  with the simplicity of pure hour display on the Urwerk 103 timepieces, however in Hublot's defense, it is always quite a challenge to track 24 time zones on the dial of a single mechanical timepiece.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Harry Winston and The President Vargas Diamond.

Harry Winston Opus 11
On August 13, 1928, along the shores of the San Antonio River in Brazil, two garimpeiros (gold diggers) noticed a large rock embedded in the gravel of the River. The rock was the Vargas Diamond weighing in at 726.6 carats. Wanting a fast fortune, the two prospectors sold the diamond to a broker for $56,000 who then immediately sold it for $235,000. The broker in turn sold the gem to a Dutch syndicate represented by the Dutch Union Bank of Amsterdam. Now named "President Vargas" in honor of Getulio Dornelles Vargas, President of Brazil (1930-45 and 1951-54), the stone went up for bid.
(inset Harry Winston Opus 11 click for more info about this watch)

Harry Winston in his office high above fifth avenue learned of the diamond's existence and immediately arranged travel, stopping off in London and then on to Amsterdam. The desire for this incredible find was not his alone, and he bid against diamond merchants from Antwerp, Amsterdam, London and New York. Harry Winston won the bid, purchasing the diamond for some $700,000. The diamond was then shipped by ordinary registered mail, (like the Hope Diamond) to his office in New York. The diamond was insured by Lloyds for $750,000 should anything occur. Nothing did and the diamond arrived safely at Harry Winston's office, five floors above the hustle and bustle of Fifth Avenue.

Harry Winston had certain plans for the diamond, plans which were a tad risky and could turn this formidable diamond into dust. Harry Winston wanted to cut the diamond into 23 smaller diamonds which would accrue $2,000,000 when sold.
Harry Winston called for the best diamond cutter in the business, Adrian Grassley. Adrian Grassley had been cutting diamonds for over 40 years, but he had never done anything like this. Just the thought of striking a diamond of this size made him weak to his knees. Before the final strike, the diamond was studied. More than 100 plaster and glass models were made and after a year of intensive scrutinizing, the final decision as to its division was made. A diamond expert marked the gem taking careful account of the direction of the grain. One incorrect cut could shatter the diamond rendering it utterly worthless.

Tuesday, July 29th, 1941, Grassley entered the small fortified room which held the diamond. He had tossed and turned the night before unable to sleep, unnerved by the task ahead. He spent the morning carefully grooving a V shaped notch at the precise spot of cleavage. Finally it was time. At 2pm, the traffic of 5th avenue a drone in the distance, Adrian Grassley, Harry Winston and his diamond polisher were the only people in the room. Grassley placed a dull edge steel blade in the V shaped notch and tapped lightly. Nothing happened. Grassley was unconsciously holding back for fear of failure.
Suddenly Harry Winston reached for the stone. Was there a cross grain no one had noticed? Could it be possible a year of calculations a miss? As he peered into the diamond's flawless depth he noticed a tiny four millimeter fracture - perfectly straight and true.
"Strike it harder," Winston urged Grassley knowing that this final blow could cost him millions. Grassley did but still the Vargas did not break. Grassley reached for a slightly heavier rod, and this time the diamond split into two. Perfectly.
Tears of relief coursed down Grasley's cheeks, "Never again," he says, "Never again."

This split created a 550 carat diamond and a 150 carat diamond which were later cut into 29 diamonds, 6 more than originally intended. Of the larger diamonds, 16 were emerald cut, 1 pear shape, one marquise and smaller triangle cuts and a baguette, a total of 411.06 carats.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Grand Complications of SIHH 2012. The Hypnotic Duomètre á Sphérotourbillon

This year's SIHH 2012 is indeed a complicated one, which in this case is a very good thing.  I remember the apprehensive SIHH 2010 show - slightly dampened in the wake of an uncertain economic climate. Many watch companies dwelt within the security of its well known popular collections.  There was little temerity and cheaper steel versions were favored over precious metals.     In 2010,  I found myself scanning the horizon for the exorbitant intricate grand complications - which existed - but were far fewer than the previous years.
 The SIHH 2012 is flooded with complications, a testament to the more positive outlook of the luxury watch industry as a whole possibly due to the recent growth in the demand for luxury items in India and China.
  Companies have not only released complicated watches, but  Grand complications, which are horological masterpieces created to represent the superior watch making capabilities of a particular company. 

A Grand Complication must have at least three complications to achieve the title such as the famous Patek Phillipe Sky Moon Tourbillon .

One fine example presented at this years SIHH  by Jaeger LeCoultre is the profoundly exquisite and exceedingly complicated Duomètre á Sphérotourbillon encompassing a multi-axis tourbillon. - view video below.

  • The Tourbillon is  an hypnotic complication invented in 1795 by French watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet, a century after Newton defined gravity. Breguet reasoned that as a result of the constant position of the vertical position of the pocket watch, the balance spring is confounded by the effect of gravity effecting the accuracy of the watch. This error could be compensated with a tourbillion whereby the escapement, balance wheel, and balance spring is placed in a rotating carriage which turns once per minute on its own axis. Whether the tourbillon actually improves the precision of a watch is debatable (and I would love any comments on this),   however, it is no doubt, a complication only achieved by exceptional watch makers, a right of passage ,if you will, dividing the serious watch collectors from the novices. It has survived for hundreds of years as a complication unto itself and has become a symbol of achievement in watch making excellence. Although its functionality is questionable, different versions of the tourbillon has achieved patent after patent.  It is, after all, highly recognized as a mark of horological achievement. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Geneva Time Exhibition for the Independent Watchmakers

Coinciding with the SIHH is the lesser known, but never the less highly intriguing, 3rd Annual Geneva Time Exhibition.
Geneva Time Exhibition is a platform whereby the small independent watch makers show off their highly creative one-of-a-kind timepieces where talent is not restricted by corporate red tape. If you are heading out to Switzerland for the SIHH, the Geneva Time Exhibition is a must. Many independent exhibitors are just beginning their horological journey, struggling to promulgate their watch creations and many of the exhibitors are well known. Exhibitors include Alpina Geneva, Brera Orologi, Clerc, Cyrus, David Van Heim, Frederique Constant, Ice Watch, Ladoire, Louis Monet, Milus, Welder & many more.

Featuring strongly at the show is an excellent new watch manufacturer: Heritage Watch Manufacturer, which is completely privately owned. All their watches are chronometers, which means they are COSC certified. (click here for more information).

At the GTE, Heritage Watch Manufacturer will add a fourth timepiece to its collection: The VIATOR. The VIATOR is the epitome of what an independent watch manufacturer really means: The movement is not bought from a large manufacturer like ETA, but is completely in-house. Crafted by Master Watchmaker Karsten Fraessdorf, the Viator Calibre 840 movement is extremely precise. The VIATOR , a GMT, timepiece is equipped with a second time zone beneath the 12 'o'clock numerals in the form of an exceptional quick jumping hour. Thus the traditional analog time display will present one time zone, while the jumping hour display will display another. Although two completely different mechanisms are housed beneath superb convex enameled dials (reminiscent of the 18th century Parisian enameled pendulum clocks), the timepiece runs with effortless efficiency. Three patents ,each of which is incorporated in the three earlier models, the precision balance of the VIVAX model; the fine escapement regulation mechanism in the SECTATOR model; the balance cock of the TENERE model, converge within the new VIATOR model culminating in superior precision.

Heritage Watch Manufacturers is located in the Neuchâtel, Switzerland. The company creates exceptional timepieces in extremely limited quantities.

The famous 219 Kulkalkan Mayan Watch will also be on display, and perfect timing too ... it is 2012 after all.
  • Official Partners of the GTE are Sotheby's, Audi, Nespresso, Cavier House & Prunier, watchonista & Laurent Perrier.
  • GTE was founded in 2010 by Florence Noël, Dominique Franchino & Paola Orlando.
  • The GTE runs from January 15th to 20th, 2012 and the SIHH runs from January 16th - January 20th, 2012.

... And what of the vast amount of independent watch companies who are not part of the SIHH 2012 nor the GTE and have not been able to accrue a spot at Basel World? Many will be displaying their creations in private Geneva Show Rooms. So once in Geneva keep your eyes open and scan the horizon for the small private exhibitions for you never know where the road less traveled may take you.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Origins of The Eterna Logo

One can never mistake an Eterna Watch. On the dial are five dots below the 12 'o'clock. But what are the dots? Do they mean something? Why did Eterna choose a seemingly random dot pattern?
Eterna's logo hints at a certain technological improvement to a certain watch movement. Read more and you will find out.

In 1856 Eterna began strictly as a company manufacturing blank movements. Not unlike hundreds of such watchmaking workshops dotted around Switzerland. In time Eterna's supreme quality of work became widely recognized. Urs Schild, who co-founded the company with Dr Josef Girard, had a vision of producing a watch from start to finish . Thecompany bore the name of Schild Fréres, and manufactured small ladies wrist watches adapted from pocket watches. In 1905 the company changed its name to Eterna. By 1925, Eterna watches were
being advertised in US newspapers such as the Southtown Economist 12/01/1925. By then Eterna had made history. In 1914, at the Swiss National Exhibition in Bern, Eterna intro
duced the first alarm wristwatch - 6 years after Eterna had patented it. Eterna watches were coveted for their slimness and precision. In 1930, Eterna unveiled the smallest Baguette Calibre
Watch, which was manufactured in series production. Still no logo marked the dial. However in 1948 Eterna's dial would change forever. The logo marks a huge technological milestone unveiled in 1948. Eterna introduced the Eterna-Matic which comprised of a low friction ball bearing used to support the rotor of the automatic movement. This led to a great increase in the efficiency of the rotor. The invention of the Eterna-Matic with its ball bearings had such an overwhelming effect on Eterna, it fashioned its logo after five ball bearings.

The five ball bearings grace every dial of an Eterna timepiece.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What is Lume?

Rado's newest 2009 addition, the Sintra Automatic watch is composed of extremely hard ceramic, a steel inner case and titanium screws and clasp. The watch is streamlined, gliding smoothly from watch face to bracelet, widening and narrowing insync with Rado's iconic style. The traditional dial is easy to read, by day and by night as the hands are coated with lume.

What is Lume?
Lume is the substance that allows the hands to glow in the dark. Lume is short for lumious phosphorescent.
What is phosphorescence? A type of photo luminescence.
What is photoluminescence? (abbreviated as PL) is a process in which a substance absorbs photons (electromagnetic radiation) and then re-radiates photons. (Wikipedia) The photo luminescence is produced when the electrons in a molecule are stimulated by an outside energy source. Either ultraviolet light ("black light"), biochemical reaction (glow-sticks) or radioactivity. Once the electrons are stimulated they quickly return to their original state by emitting radiation, sometimes in the form of visible light.

So we are interested to discover how our lume coated hands work. A phosphorescent substance does not immediately re-emit the radiation it absorbs. The answer is in the involved study of quantum mechanics which I am not an possibly not able to go into at this stage. It is suffice to say that the slower time scales are related to "forbidden energy" state transition in quantum mechanics. Simply put, energy absorbed by a substance is slowly released in the form of light.

What are the most common phosphorescent pigments used today? Zinc sulphide and strontium aluminate.

Most watch manufacturers use strontium aluminate, marketed by the brand name Super-Luminova. This substance is non-radioactive and non-toxic photo luminescence. This technology was developed after the zinc sulphide substance. Being that strontium aluminate is ten times brighter than zinc sulphide, the latter substance was zoned out and currently is something of a novelty.

Watchmakers were on a constant quest to find a substance that allowed time to be displayed in the dark. The problem was initially solved by the chime of a minute repeater or sonnerie, a candle or an open dial. As soldiers of World War One, huddled in dark trenches listening to the roar of the canons , unable to guess the passage of time, the quest to find a glow-in-the dark substance intensified. Watchmakers suddenly remembered Radium, a discovery made at the end of the 19th century. Radium was radioactive and had the property of luminescence. Radium was used in the watch industry for many years, but abandoned in favor of tritium as a result of its high levels of radioactivity; however, too late for hundreds of "Radium Girls in the 1920's". These young girls were employed by US watch companies to paint the Radium and zinc sulphide onto the dials using a small camel haired brush which they pointed with their lips in between paint applications. They had no inkling that this greenish white glow-in-the-dark paint was lethal. Each time they ingested a small amount of radium - an alpha-particle emitter, chemically similar to calcium and thus a bone-seeker, the Radium was accumulating in the bone-marrow and causing bone cancer and other genetic damages.

Tritium, on the other hand is radioactive but in much lower levels than radium, was used until the 1990's. Then came a breakthrough Super-luminova, all the photo luminescence qualities of tritium, but not radioactive and thus less hazardous and more environmental friendly.

There is a distinct difference though. Tritium is permanently stimulated by electrons (betarays) which it emits when it spontaneously transforms into helium. Thus tritium can glow for dozens of years even in total darkness. (see inset) On the other hand Superluminova requires to be stimulated by either violet or ultraviolet light which at first is very bright, but then gradually fades after a few hours in the dark.

As with Super-Luminova the energy emitted by the electrons is stored at quite a stable level, resulting in light being emitted over a several hour period.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Unearthen Watches Embrace the Power of Crystal

Lead a hectic life where the world seems to bombard you with constant sensory streams?  Need to feel a calming sensation where time seems to stand still for a mere moment?  How about an Unearthen watch.  Unearthen products utilize the metaphysical properties of crystals placed on a watch or on jewelry.  Unearthen does not manufacture a watch from scratch, but uses vintage watch parts and replaces the watch crystal with a rugged chunky pyramid quartz.    Unearthen products seem to have caught on quite nicely by celebs and even spotted on Jessica Alba and Mary Kate Olsen.
The exciting aspect of an Unearthen watch is that each piece is utterly unique comprising of parts from different watches and jewelry. 
To me, the timepieces exude an aura of mystical steam punk.

I am not sure about the healing or calming properties of the crystal, but I do know this ... if you look into the depth of the crystal and gaze at the face of your watch, you can see the future becoming the present becoming the past.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ralph Lauren Adds to its Art Deco Collection for SIHH 2012

 Art Deco Slim Classique Collection will soon be a whole lot more glitzy.  Ralph Lauren released a glimpse of its two new additions to be unveiled at the SIHH 2012, of which there are two choices, either a single or double row of brilliant cut diamonds. The ultra slim 5.75mm watch case is crafted in white gold and houses a mechanical manual winding movement crafted by Piaget (Richemont owned)  for Ralph Lauren (Richemont joint venture since 2007).  The manually wound movement maintains the slimness of the watch, as an automatic watch requires a rotor. This watch is even a tad thinner than the Concord Deliriums (no longer manufactured by Concord, but still readily available).
Although this watch is manually wound, one does not have to wind it everyday as the watch has a power reserve capability of 40 hours, which means missing a day or two of winding won't stop your watch. The 18k white gold case is highly reminiscent of the art deco timepieces crafted in silver or sometimes even platinum.  The petite dimensions of the watch: 27.50 x 27.50mm with a dial face opening of  26.65 x 26.65 mm  adds to the retro look, as does the flat sapphire crystal covering the watch face. I have always found the dial of the Art Deco Slim Classique Collection quite appealing.

I love the mix of larger Roman numerals and  smaller Arabic Numerals placed on the outline of a perfect square.  The vacant silvery Opaline center only occupied by shiny black, oxidized hour and minute Breguet-style hands provides a clear and uncluttered time display.  As with most high end ladies watches, the watch has a water resistance of 99 feet.  A black alligator strap has an Alsavel lining,suede on calf,  provides immeasurable comfort.  The watch is sealed firmly to the wrist with an 18K white gold pin buckle.

This timepiece is yet another elegant and tasteful timepiece born from the 2007 joint venture between Richemont Group and Ralph Lauren Watch & Jewelry Company.  A venture that seems to be working quite nicely.
Ralph Lauren deputed its first timepiece collection at the SIHH 2009.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Avenger Watch Inspired by 2012 Lamborghini Aventador

The new concept watch by car enthusiast, Marko  Petrovic's is fashioned after Lamborghini’s hypercar, the Aventador LP700-4. It takes little imagination to see The Avenger Vertical Tourbillon Watch bares a striking resemblance to the supercar's engine complete with an engine roll bar.   The obvious likeness from car to watch is the orange and black color combination; however the similarities are more than just skin deep. Marko Petrovic has actually used an intrinsically watch complication, the tourbillon, as a tacit reference to the powerful 6.5 liter V12 engine producing (hold your breath) 690 horsepowerat 8,250 rpm and 509 pound-feet (690 Nm) of torque able to reach 350 km/h. 
Although The Avenger Watch is mimicking the design of 2012 Lamborghini Aventador's engine, the watch itself is a highly complex horological  study into the configuration of  vertical tourbillon. It can be said, the timepiece tames time (and gravity) like the bull tames horses (if you not familiar with the automobile industry, let me add some insight.  The bull = Lamborghini - hence the bull as the company logo and horses = horsepower.  
The Avenger watch is still in the concept phases, thus we don't have more specific details, but the obvious power exuded from the prototype makes the final timepiece a thrilling prospect to anticipate.  As for pricing - I know the 2012 Lamborghini Aventador will cost you around $387,000, as for The Avenger Vertical Tourbillon Watch - we will just have to wait and see. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Cartier Pocket Watch for SIHH 2012

At the SIHH 2012 Cartier will reveal an enchanting skeletonized pocket watch inspired from its 1930's pocket watch collection.  However other than the actual pocket watch idea, perfectly round shape, signature blued Cartier hands, triangular fob attachment, Cartier's latest pocket watch seems to appear from another dimension, whereas its 1930's counterpart seems rather plain and unassuming: A wholly functional timepiece rather than a work of art.   
Cartier's skeletonized pocket watch evokes a sense of mysterious awe as if it should be placed on clock tower.  The clock tower image is evoked by the skeletonized Roman Numerals making the pocket watch seem larger than life, but soon enough one eyes are drawn to the incredible craftmanship beyond the hour markers.
 The 59mm white gold pocket watch is powered by a Calibre 9436 MC Renaud et Papi hand-winding movement. Not surprising since Cartier has used a Renaud et Papi movement for its highly complex timepieces for some years now, especially for its SIHH limited edition watches. This pocket watch is a perfect example of a highly complicated timepiece,  and for the lucky owners will provide an heirloom for generations to come. 

The pocket watch is equipped with a perpetual calender, which is a complication accounting for the differing lengths of months and leap years. Most perpetual calenders need no adjustment until 2100. The Perpetual Calendar increases the watches worth as a result of its highly complex configuration requiring many components and highly skilled craftsmanship.  A tourbillon visible from both the front and back of the timepiece is quite a fitting complication for a pocket watch, for it was the pocket watch Abraham Louis Breguet placed the balance wheel and escapement within a rotating cage.  He did this to counteract the effects gravity had on the movement of a pocket watch while it was kept vertically in a pocket.  The question of whether a tourbillon does effectively negate the effects of gravity on the movement of a watch is highly debatable, but it does seems quite apt in a pocket watch.  A highly popular chronograph movement makes this already coveted timepiece into one of blatant longing.  A chronograph mono pusher enables one to command the "start, stop and reset" functions via a single button.
The aesthetics of the timepiece is undeniable.  Crafted from white gold, the streamlined skeletonization combines contemporary design with traditional watchmaking.  Blue hands and matching sapphire cabochon atop the crown declares that this watch is wholly Cartier.
Upon purchase of the Cartier pocket watch by those fortunate few (only 10 pieces will be made), the watch will be delivered with a rock crystal and obsidian stand, and a white gold chain and fob.
If I were standing on a lonely railroad station inquiring the time from the only other person in sight and if he were to extract this timepiece from an emerald green waistcoat, I would wonder if I had not been transported to a place of enchantment  far far away.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

10 Best Quotes About Time

“Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” H. Jackson Brown Jr

“How did it get so late so soon?” Dr. Seuss

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.” - Douglass Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”  Andy Warhol, The philosophy of Andy Warhol

Men's Santos de Cartier 17% off
“Time is a game played beautifully by children.”Heraclitus, Fragments

"Lost Time is Never Found Again." Benjamin Franklin

"The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is."  C.S. Lewis
"Waste your money and you're only out of money, but waste your time and you've lost a part of your life."Michael LeBoeuf

"Time is the longest distance between two places."  Tennessee Williams

“Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.” - William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Perrelet Turbine a Proud Hallmark of its Founder's Invention

Beneath the hands of the Perrelet Turbine and above the dial backdrop, often decorated with a eye catching motif, a representation of a Turbine spins back and forth.

The blades swivel creating constant motion on the dial,  and is the front component of a new take on Perrelet's original "double rotor" Collection.
 Perrelet utilized the original "double rotor  calibre (Perrelet P-181), patented in 1995,  for the Turbine Collection. The Perrelet P-181 is fixed with two rotors, one on the dial and the other on the case back. The rotor on the dial is a moving testimony to the horological break through invented by Perrelet's founder Abraham Louis Perrelet in 1770. He invented the self-winding concept, whereby the motion of a person can wind  the mainspring thereby providing energy to power the watch. This is what is known as an automatic timepiece.
Perrelet Double Rotor

At BaselWorld 2009, Perrelet unveiled an entirely new dimension of the "double rotor' by drawing inspiration from the field of aeronautics.  The Turbine Timepiece has quickly become the companies signature model, not because of its highly complex complications, but for its popular attraction.

I have often wondered why the idea of a Turbine prompted Perrelet's design of its collection, but in actual fact it stems from clear rationality. A turbine is a rotary engine which transforms energy from a flow of matter and converts it into useful work. (Source: Wikipedia) The premise of transforming undirected naturally occurring energy into useful work is both that of the Turbine and the Rotor, thus the depiction of the Turbine on dial of the Perrelet is nothing short of brilliant.  Not only is the idea brilliant, but entirely captivating, which accounts for the enormous popularity of the Perrelet Turbine collection. Of course there are many types of Turbines.  The stark slender wind turbines which congregate on open fields using wind to create electrical energy to the highly complex steam turbines used in nuclear power plants.  In designing the Perrelet Turbine timepiece, Perrelet drew on the field of aeronautics and the powerful gas turbines used in planes.

Perrelet has introduced many Turbine Models created to suit many tastes.  Perrelet did not change its movement, but rather substituted a rather plain looking dial side oscillating weight with memorizing blades, providing eye catching movements and changing bands of color and design every time the wearer moves his arm. Perrelet used its tried and tested double rotor movement Perrelet P-181 to make what was good even better, and it worked. It worked to such an extent that the Perrelet Turbine has infiltrated beyond watch aficionados to the general public just like the Rolex Oyster's, Cartier Roadster, Audemar Piguet Royal Oaks and IWC Portugeuse.  This is the type of design watch manufactures clamber for - a design that will thrust them into the limelight and hang on the lips of the "man on the street".

Perrelet has taken its design an slightly adjusted it in size and color to suit the taste of the watch wearers. For example the TURBINE XL is recognized by its roomy 50mm case and Turbine XS is measured at a diminutive 41mm. Perrelet Turbine is extremely versatile in that it does not alter the dial in any way, but rather moves above it -like actors against a backdrop where the scenes change at the whim of the director. Perrelet has indeed used a variety of scenes to create Special Edition Collections. The Turbine poker adds a sense of excitement to the watch dial and The Turbine America a sense of patriotism. The Turbine Playing with Fire is burning hot (can you wear it on your wrist). The latest embraces Manga in its Turbine Erotic Limited Edition and is for eyes 18 years and older.

Below is a You Tube Clip of the Perrelet Turbine in action.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It is Time to Start Putting that New Years Resolution to Practice

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Ok so maybe you were a tad tipsy when you made that New Years Resolution about making every moment count.  Still even if you were not quite sound of mind, the New Years Resolution you made is quite admirable.  Quite admirable indeed.  After all the availability of time is equal to all men without giving more to some or less to others.  So it is an individuals choice whether to use it wisely or waste it.  Since you have chosen to use time wisely, may I suggest a little incentive.  Incentives are a very good way of pushing New Years Resolution into action.  May I suggest you purchase a watch.  A precise watch which will keep track of the time. Here's where another New Years Resolution crops up (and I bet this one makes its way on just about everybody's list) - this is the one about "Saving Money".  Here is where you can Save Time and Money and Keep Track of the Time you Saving by Purchasing a Watch at THE WATCHERY.  

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The Watchery's website has been built to offer you the maximum shopping efficiency.  All the brands on the Search bar are in stock.  We are not like some of the other sites which seem to have hundreds of brands only to find most of the products are not available.  The Watchery even displays the amount of pieces still left for a particular brand and collection.  If you do not have a particular brand in mind, but you have certain watch criteria, The Watchery allows you to narrow down your search by your prerequisites until you find the exact watch to suit your needs.   You do not need to be a watch expert to buy a watch from The Watchery, you can find all the information you need about every watch on its individual page, and if you still want more information, you can read this watch blog. 
So don't procrastinate (another New Years Resolution which I myself spied on a list or two), and start tracking your time, with a money saving timepiece from The Watchery.  

Happy 2012 and Happy Timekeeping.