Tuesday, November 27, 2012

GTE 2013 Hublot's Zebra Stripes

Last week I blogged about watch companies and their pets.  My mind is still whirling with animal themes watches so when  spotted the Hublot's Big Bang Zebra Bang, I thought it a wonderful addition to my mental  menagerie of animal themes.  It seems Hublot is sliding down the food chain by unveiling a harmless grazer for its GTE 2013 timepiece. Read more about the Geneva Trade Show which runs from January 21st-25th.   As you recall the previous two animal themed timepieces were the Leopard Bang and Boa bang.  Stylistically Hublot is right on target with this one.
Zebra Stripes are a fashion mainstay  with a history dating back to the late 1800's.  In fact in 1793, a striped clothing frenzy became known as the "zebra period." In the 19th century it was  prisoners who donned the zebra stripes, not out of whim ,of course, but rather a disgruntled obedience. Take a leap to the "now" and one will find zebra stripes accessorizing many a wardrobe. From leggings to handbags to scarves and even commanding an entire outfit whether by night or by day. 

Hublot's Zebra Stripes 41mm ceramic timepiece for the ladies is punctuated with feminine graces. The bezel surrounding the leopard print dial is set with 48 topazes and baguette-cut spinels.

 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.

 6 signature H shaped titanium screws are embedded, polished and locked upon the bezel. 

Eight bezel set diamonds serve as hour markers and add a glamorous glitter to the dial. A trapezoid date aperture is placed at the 4.30 mark.
The dial is protected by a scratch resistant sapphire crystal  coated on the interior with an anti-reflective treatment.

  A zebra print calfskin strap affixed to a supreme comfort rubber makes for a highly comfortably and flexible strap. Without a doubt the sense of style and fashion afforded by the Hublot Zebra Stripes is impeccable, to say the least, it is the drive beneath its zebra coat which demands a mention.
  The watch is powered by a HUB4300 Automatic Mechanical chronograph movement comprising of 278 components, beating at 28,800 vph, baring 37 jewels and equipped with a 42 hour power reserve.   The efficiency of the automatic winding mechanism is heightened due to  a rare super hard high density chemical element segment known as tungsten affixed to the rotor. (chemical symbol W and atomic number 74). As a result of its high density, tungsten is often as weights and counterweights.
The HUB4300 is equipped with a Glucydur hairspring. The hairspring and balance wheel regulate the entire watch mechanism and thus determining the precision of the timepiece. However the functioning of the  hairspring is highly sensitive to change in temperature thus many higher end  modern watches use an alloy of beryllium, copper, and iron known as Glucydur.  Glucydur (or beryllium bronze) is non-magnetic and is resistant to deformation resulting from temperature change.  In addition it has superior shock resistance than steel.
Companies like Omega prefer a silicon Balance Spring - read A look at Omega's Silicon balance Spring.

This watch is water resistant to 100 meters; however, I am not sure if the strap can take a good swim.

I apologize if my posts are few and far between, but Hurricane Sandy effected by internet connection and it took longer than I thought to get back on track.  However things are returning to normal and posts should be coming on a more regular basis.
Please contact me at rikivanh@gmail.com if you would like me to review a certain watch; link to your webpage, advertise on my site or contact me about writing articles or blogsAny other comments or criticism are welcome too. 
Thanks Vicky 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Watch Companies and Their Pets

Boucheron Grenoui
Representation of animals on peoples possessions have been around since the dawn of mankind. From the earliest cave paintings to the latest cyber pets, humans are fixated on animal motifs.
Exquisite depictions of creatures are found on many a watch.  Cartier Prowls around with a Panther; Maurice Lacrox  harbors a starfish and Boucheron has a thing for frogs and feathered friendsMB & F took a Panda for a ride atop its Thunderbolt HM4 for the Only Watch Auction 2011, while Urwerk lurks in crevices with its Tarantula Timepieces.  Urwerk is not the only one with a fascination for venomous arachnids, the  Ladoire Black Widow  has quite a bite. Concord has let its Black Spider out the cage, while Urwek heeds the call of the Phoenix. Parmigiani summons in a dragon for the Chinese New Year and Cartier captures a croc. Vacheron Constantin lets loose a flock of birds or fish if you wish, while Hermes and Angular Momentum both reign in a herd of horses. Serpents slither across the dial of a Richard Mille RM 026 tourbillon and Piaget's glittering birds perch upon a branch in a Piaget Limelight Garden Party.

Van Cleef & Arpels needs special mention in this regard,  as superb enameling creates creatures of extraordinary splendor. In the 1950's Van Cleef & Arpels wanted to increase its elite customer base and cater to a larger group of admirers.  The result was a lovely catalog named “La Boutique” in 1954 featuring brooches of 'Curious Creatures".  These playful whimsical creatures were somewhat affordable and highly collectible. With the purchase of the Cat Brooch one wanted the lion or the giraffe  ,the adorable bunny brooch or the monocled bulldog. Van Cleef & Arpels used its whimsical representation of creatures to win the hearts of many.

Lady Arpels African Landscape
To this day, Van Cleef & Arpels has been adorning the watch dials with animals of all kinds. Many gracing the face of Van Cleef & Arpels Extraordinary dials. 

Check out my all time favorites.

Lady Arpels African Landscape
Van Cleef & Arpels took great inspiration from the pioneer of science fiction, Jules Verne, and created dial landscapes of incredible wonder based on his tales.  The "Les Voyages" collection and Poetry of Time Collection.  Born and bred on the African soil, I always gravitate towards African themed depictions.
A Van Cleef & Arpel dial is not simply a beautiful image surrounded by a frame.  A Van Cleef & Arpel dial exudes an emotional atmosphere activating a variety of sensory experiences.  The giraffe themed dial creates a vivid sense of the dry hot Savannah sun where rainfall is seasonal and dappled shade is cast from small leaved trees. A bejeweled giraffe protects her offspring against the backdrop of the yellow sand and pale blue sky.  The elephant and his young one resides in a rather more tropical area where rain is abundant and  the sky is often stormy with sudden storms.
It takes rare talent to create dials such as these and each dial undergoes many processes such as  inlaying, stone selection, cutting and setting, lacquering, hand engraving and enameling to create an "Extraordinary Dial."

One of the latest Van Cleef & Arpels Collection is the Extraordinary Dials Hummingbird Collection reminding me always of a Springtime garden tea party. There are quite a few models all beautifully created and full of life.  Three techniques were used in creating these dials: setting of precious stones, champleve enamelling, as well as three-dimensional enameling. One thing I love about these watches is the  830p mechanical movement.  Often times watch companies, especially when it comes to women's watches,  create a wonderful dial of magnificent splendor and then place a quartz movement within the case. However for the Poetry of Time timepieces and Extraordinary Dials, Van Cleef & Arpels goes mechanical.

Another Van Cleef & Arpels dial I simply love is this adorable depiction of mother and baby hippo wallowing in the water.  The intricate alternating shades of watery greens epitomizes the exquisite skill of craft applied to the dial.

From the hot African sun to the frigid Antarctic air - Van Cleef & Arpels utilizes a variety of colors, precious stones, materials and techniques to create the desired look.  The ability to create a still image into a living segment of time, well that's Extraordinary. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Romain Jerome Celebrates Day of the Dead

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS Romain Jerome watch reveals a strangely "festive" timepiece for the a holiday revered in Mexico "The Day of The Dead"  The busy festive skull plastered on a signature Titanic DNA Romain Jerome case and dial captures the celebratory festivities honoring the departed. The skull is actually a representation of the traditional Mexican decorations known as "calaveras" such as wooden masks or skulls made of sugar associated with this day.  The tradition is of ancient beginnings dating back 3000 years to the Aztecs.  Back then, until the Spaniards came town 500 years ago - give or take, the day was celebrated on the 9th month of the Aztec Solar Calender presided over by goddess Mictecacihuatl or "Lady of the Dead".  She died at birth, but her legacy lives on.
The Spaniards not liking this so called Pagan ritual, but unable to stymy this tradition moved the date to November 1st and 2nd so it coincided with "All Saints Day" and "All Souls Day".

Unlike Halloween which evokes ghouls, ghosts and other ghastly depictions, DIA DE LOS MUERTOS honor the dead in celebration.  Brightly colored skull masks, skull confections and skull puppets decorate the day, much of which is spent at the graveside of loved ones. The graves are often decorated with marigold flowers and candles. Some build alters in their home for offering love and remembrance to the departed.

With so many skull motifs out there - think of Bell & Ross skull watch representing the Second World War Airborne paratroopers (Death From Above) or Corum's obsession with the creepier side of skulls - it is necessary to clearly distinguish the motif of skull representation.  I think Romain Jerome has done an exemplary job in this regard.  The brightly colored skull skillfully hand-crafted in colorful applique with champlevé decoration and cold enameled in seven symbolic colors, is clearly the skull depiction of "DIA DE LOS MUERTOS" or "Day of the Dead".  The seven skull colors signify the seven stages a departed soul must travel before finding eternal peace. The 46mm black PVD coated steel case encases an in-house Caliber RJ001 Mechanical self-winding movement.  Beneath the skull on the  mirror polished dial,  Romain Jerome has placed its signature X shape engraving  extending to the four black ceramic "paws" placed on the black ceramic bezel on either side of the lugs.  Below the 3 'o'clock position resides a polished Romain Jerome logo.  The  blackness of the dial, case and strap serve as an intense backdrop to the striking brightness of the skull. 

Black Satin brushed skeletonized hands are coated with a C1 Superluminova "blue emission" for read out in the dark.  
A "Día de los Muertos" medallion  is engraved on the case back.  The watch is affixed to the wrist with a black hornback alligator strap
Two models, one with a cross and one without, will be available in a limited edition of 25 pieces per model.

The retail price is 15,900 US Dollars

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Krieger Tidal Wave Chronoscope Watches Tells the Tide

Krieger Tidal Wave Chronoscope

With the weather the way its been on my side of the US, I have taken a new interest in the tides. In the passed, pre- Hurricane Sandy I should say,  I dismissed this oceanic encroachment as a fisherman's concern, but now with a Nor'easter baring down on us and "Coastel Flood Warnings" in effect, my entire view of tides has changed.  I am not only aware of the tides, I am preoccupied by them.  Obsessed if you will. Who can blame me.  My house is still in the dark, thanks to a water logged and likely ruined substation.  I shouldn't complain. A couple blocks from my house, the sidewalk is punctuated by heaped piles of sodden mattresses, salted electronics, molding carpets and household brick and brack.  It's almost as if the houses themselves have become awful queasy and threw up the colorful contents.
My tidal obsession together with my "where to find the shortest gas line" obsession, demands that I find a timepiece which tells the tides.
"What about a cellphone app?" , you may ask with helpful ignorance.
"Ha! Ha!" I laugh in near hysteria - ," cellphones don't work in my watery pitch dark neighborhood!"

So if you've managed to get through my long winded introduction blatantly brimming with self pity, you will find that I happened upon a brand of watches actually created by a guy called Ira Krieger who in 1987 created the very first Tidal Chronometer.  His wristwatch was clever enough to predict high and low tides.  UREKA!! Ira Krieger was effected by high tides too. No his power did not go out nor did his house flood, but it was aggravation non the less.  As a result of an unexpected high tide, his family boat could not fit under a bridge and thus could not return to the marina. So that's when his tidal obsession began.  Ira Krieger did not sit and mope about the tides, but rather set about a way to track them. Ira Krieger in listed the help of his step son, now president of Miami-based Krieger Watch Company, who suggested a watch displaying when they could leave or return  to the marina. With the help of a Swiss Watch Company, they created the Krieger Tidal Chronometer.

WARNING Off topic here - reminds me of that Chinese King Su Song - who in the time of the dragon - oh about 1000 years ago, came to a meeting a full month early. He was peeved about waiting around for a month (who wouldn't be) and commissioned the building of "Su Song Heavenly Clock Tower"

Both Su Song and Ira Krieger dealt with miscalculations of facotrs by devising a way to track them.

Although Krieger has a large selection of  Tidal Wave Watches, I have chosen the models that are highly resilient and not prone to water damage. The Swiss Quartz Movement watch is constructed either  from an indestructible special construction matte  and high polish 44mm case or Steel with PVD processing (left). A Carbon Fiber Solar Powered Bezel is engraved with a solar compass.

To commemorate 20 years of tidal prediction, Krieger unveiled the Tidal Wave  Chronoscope, which accurately predicts the hours to the next high and low tide. Tiny microscopic gears are utilized to ensure maximum precision.   The large tide indicator baring a signature Krieger counter balance points to the level of tide. A handy sub dial also indicates the tidal range, neap and spring tides. The tides and moon phase can be set via screw in push buttons.  Of course the tide is influenced by the  the moon so a sub dial moon phase is in order.  The Krieger Tidal Wave is so in tune with the world at sea that its water resistance is measured in miles. The Tidal Wave is capable of  almost half a mile of water resistance or 2640 feet. The dial is protected by a double dome sapphire crystal coated with an anti-reflective treatment.
The 20mm Rubber straps fashioned in a unique divers cut are available in a variety of colors adding an individual touch to the watch.  Bracelets for the Tidal Wave Chronoscope are available in Stainless Steel polished or Matte.  The dial is available in a variety of colors too, allowing one to mix and match to hearts content.

Editions are limited to 2000 a model, and reasonably priced at $1,850.00.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The End of the Mechanical Voting Era

By the time you read this post you've either voted, on your way to vote or not going to vote at all.
 If you have voted, depending on where you are,  you may have voted  via arduous paper ballots  aided by scanners and special pens, fancy up to date Touch-screen machines or older electronic versions of the same. Depending on your current State, some machines will provide you with a Voter verified paper record, some will not.
 Upon entering their usual polling station,  New Yorkers will notice the absence of the Mechanical Hand Lever Machine and will vote instead  on a ES & S DS200 Ballot Scanner able to read and tally a paper ballot marked with a very special marking pen. Or they may vote via an ES AutoMark.
Voters in 16 states are using  electronic voting equipment which do not provide a voters verification receipt of any kind. There is absolutely no paper trail  if discrepancy arises.  One does not have to be a statistician, or number cruncher to know paper trails are crucial for validity.
 These machines are known as direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines purchased from companies like Sequoia and Diebold.
On October 25th, 2012 President Obama cast his ballot on a 15 inch touchscreen Sequoia AVC edge, and being that he voted in Illinois, he was provided with a Verification of his vote.

So here comes the debate... Mechanical vs Electronic. Sounds a little like the luxury watch debate, but unlike luxury mechanical watches which pulled through the "quartz scare" of the 1970's when quartz watches almost extinguished mechanical watches, the trusty Mechanical Hand Lever voting machines of the 1960's did not survive the new electronic voting systems.  A push to change the individual voting process to the electronic age was made by Congress in 2002 with the "Help America Vote Act", which spent $3.9 billion on assisting states to disown the mechanical voting way.

In 2010, New York City was the last to give up the Mechanical Lever Voting Machine - which according to Forbes Staffer, Frederick E. Allen  - seems not to have been the best idea. Read " New York's New Voting System is a Disaster" .

The Mechanical Lever Voting Machine was used when JFK beat Richard M. Nixon by 0.1% where over half of the 56 million voters cast their ballots with this method. The Mechanical Lever Voting Machine has an array of levers in the front of the machine, each candidate is assigned a particular lever which is marked with the candidates name by a strip of paper. The levers are Horizontal in the unvoted position. The entire machine is situated inside a privacy curtain. The voter pulls down the lever and exits the curtain, the lever automatically returns to its horizontal position. As the lever returns, a connected counter wheel turns one-tenth of a full rotation, the tens counter drives a hundreds counter. At the end of election day, the counter for that lever indicated the amount of votes cast for that ballot. If the Mechanical Lever Voting Machine is in good working condition, it is quite reliable in that the machine is simple and a voter will have less of a chance of "pulling the lever in error" than touching a screen. However these machines are no longer being manufactured . Most states have opted for the newer more efficient electronic touch screens or direct recording electronic machines.

While many election officials rushed to embrace the new voting technology, especially those subjected to peering at Chads from punch card ballots, many people are skeptical of the security and the reliability of the electronic systems. Many of the electronic systems are unverified. In West Virginia, Colorado, Tennessee and Texas voters have reported that in the past  touch screen machines registered their vote for the wrong party or candidate. Some say the electronic systems may be susceptible to hackers. Many electronic machines do not produce a hard copy of the votes cast making it almost impossible to verify disputed results. Some touch-screen equipment used in half of Ohio's 88 counties "dropped" votes in past election when memory cards were uploaded to computer servers. Others say these electronic machines can be easily manipulated.

Hanging Chad
There two major flaws in the "Help America Vote Act":

1) No paper trails required - this issue has turned from a DRE debate to an outright "DRE war"
2) No rules requiring electronic equipment replacement.  Thus outdated electronic equipment  from a decade ago are still approved for 2012 elections.  These decade old voting systems do not provide a voters receipt.

The DRE system is wrought with  problems such as electronic malfunctions, purposeful flipping of votes or vanishing votes.
In 2010 primary and general New York State Elections, overheating of a  New York City's South Bronx machine invalidated hundreds of votes because the machine misread the optically scanned ballots.  Would that have happened with the good old Mechanical Lever Voting Machine?

When a place like New York City or any other large city votes, its is almost impossible to prove a voting error; however, at a local election in a tiny NJ County like Cumberland, glitches can be glaring even without a paper trail.
When this occurred, the rightful "victors" became the "losers".
  28 voters signed affidavits that they had voted for the losing party; however, oddly the Sequoia AVC Advantage machine showed only 10 voters cast a ballot for the losers.  The court ordered the election to be tossed out and a new election conducted.  Of course this is impossible in a National Presidential Election where voters must assume their voice is heard.
States like Maine test and retest the machines for reliability.  An excellent procedure assuming integrity of all individuals involved.

On the flip side who can forget the unfortunate "hanging chad" saga  smothering the 2000 elections in a cloud of uncertain confetti. It was after these elections that the Federal Government pushed for the electronic systems; however concerns of security breaches and tainted numbers shadow the electronic voting era.

States like Maryland and New Jersey are well aware of the implications of a paperless voting system and have even passed laws requiring a paper copy, but budget constraints have hampered the paper copy from becoming a reality. In Virginia ,a hot battleground state, passed this law too, but as a result of its large financial burden, the law was overturned.

33 states now require a Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) or a Verified Paper Record (VPR) and 16 states do not.  States that do not have paperless machine and thus no independent proof of vote cast are:
 Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia

Machines that have an audit or paper trail include:

AccuVote TSX with printer
AVC Edge with VeriVote Printer
Sequoia Voting Systems' Edge2Plus
Sequoia Voting Systems' AdvantagePlus
 eSlate with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail
IVotronic Real Time Audit Log

It is going to be an interesting Election and in light of this post, I hope that the voting goes well with as few hitches as possible. Of course the good old Mechanical relics will  be sorely missed as New York State stands in line to vote for the next President of the United States.

By: V. Van Halem

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Wristwatch Tribute to the New York Spirit

Vacheron Constantin New York  Boutique Watch
Romain Jerome Lady of Liberty Watch

Piaget Polo Tourbillon Relatif New York  circa 2011

Piaget Polo Tourbillon Relatif New York circa 2011

Movado Andy Warhol Times/5 circa 1988

Piaget Protocole XXL  Watch Collection Circa 2008

Officine Panerai Luminor 1950 10 Days GMT

Micheal Kors NY Limited Edition Runway Watch circa 2012

Itay Noy City Square Columbus Circle NY circa 2009
Official NYC MTA Subway Timepiece