Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A Fashion Watch Emergency?

Let's say you forgot to wear a watch. By the time you're at the office, your heart rate's accelerated to supersonic speed, your stomach is making acid like it's a chemistry lab, and you can't focus: The world looks like it's at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

How did I do that? What's the matter with me? Will I be able to last until I get home? 

A coworker graciously offers you his extra watch to wear for the day, but it's a Fossil, Daniel Wellington, or Michael Kors.

Do you accept his offer, go watchless for the day, or run to the nearest authorized dealer and buy a Rolex, Omega -- anything to return you to your normal, calm and happy condition?

Friday, November 9, 2018

The Truth About Watch Winders

Is a watch winder a good idea? Is it healthy for your watches? Or will a watch winder prematurely age your watches?

There are generally three reasons why collectors use watch winders:

Juvo watch winder: Both practical and art.
Keeping your many watches wound without a winder removes a layer of skin from your fingertips. (Though we should all be so lucky.)

You have three to four automatic watches that you rotate on a daily basis, and which you want to keep wound and ready to go. (As in the President of the United States might want to meet with you for your advice and counsel on the spur of the moment, so you need to keep your watches running with the correct time all the time.)

You have a watch with a complication that’s a pain in the neck to set on a regular basis, such as a perpetual calendar, annual calendar, or weird moonphase. It’s just easier to keep those hard-to-set watches on the correct time with a winder.

One reason not to use a winder is to keep your watch synchronized to the correct time. Most mechanical watches will likely lose considerable time over weeks (unless it’s a Seiko Spring Drive url tk), regardless of whether they’re in a winder. It just doesn’t make much sense to keep your watches ticking in their winders for the sole purpose of keeping time. A watch winder won’t keep your automatic watches set correctly; you’ll do a better job by hand.

Keeping watches in winders also increases the risk of damaging your watches or grinding down your watches’ innermost parts [link to previous article], and may send you to your watchmaker sooner than you expected. A watch that’s always running is constantly wearing out gears and other parts.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Have You Ever Dreamed about Watches?

Photo by Masakazu Matsumoto
Have you ever had a dream in which a watch played a leading role?

I had one the other night. I was at a meeting of government officials. Everyone was wearing trench coats. The police arrived and arrested several people at the meeting for accepting bribes in the form of Rolexes.

One of the police officers asked, "Out of curiosity, does anyone else have a Rolex?" A hundred or so hands were raised, each of which displayed a Submariner.

Somebody who posted on a Watchuseek forum said he dreamed that his Omega Speedmaster was stolen, even though he doesn't have a Speedy. Another collector dreamed his $2,000 Stowa's crystal was scratched, a dream that was so realistic he checked his watch in the middle of the night. Still other watch enthusiasts have had anxiety dreams about delayed FedEx and DHL watch shipments.

If you dream about watches that makes your normal...for a watch enthusiast.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Service Your Watch...Or Else!

How often should I service my watch?
The basic principle is “the more you use it, the more it wear down.” If your watch is ticking, its parts will wear, and if you find your watch is losing more than fifteen seconds a day, it’s overdue for a good cleaning and oiling.
Portrait of a watchmaker by Richard.
Licenced through Creative Commons.
If your watch hasn’t been serviced since the Beatles were touring then it’s definitely time.
Your watch’s instruction manual will have a recommended service interval. This recommendation assumes you are wearing your watch daily, something few of us get to do because most of us have a collection we rotate around—unless you stick all your watches on a 24/7 rotating watch-winder, which is not a good idea. The recommended service interval serves as a guide rather than a rule.
That said, if your watch has been sitting idle for months, chances are the lubricants have hardened, and you also risk damaging your watch’s parts. Even synthetic oil can gum up. The candle burns from both ends when it comes to watch wear and tear. So give your watch a good winding every six to eight weeks. If your watch has been idle for more than two years, please get it cleaned before letting it tick-tock.
A modern Rolex is extremely robust and its parts do have higher wear tolerance than most other watch brands. The in-house synthetic lubricants modern Rolexes use also last much longer than most other brands. Modern Rolexes stand apart from any other watch brands we know of today. But a modern Rolex will still wear, depending on how one uses it. No watch is Superman.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Watch Collector's Halloween Story

Fiona Kruger Celebration Skull to
celebrate Halloween, but her
Entropy watch may be more
appropriate for this story. 

A watch collector’s most terrifying horror story in one sentence:

Steve kissed his fingers before resting them on his Patek’s crystal, as if saying a final goodbye, while he watched the television anchor speak solemnly, "Scientists are baffled by the inexplicable and unforeseen speeding up of the earth’s rotation from 24 to 22 hours a day, rendering all the world’s clocks suddenly useless."

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Grand Seiko's Art Show, The Flow of Time

I went to a Tokyo art show by Grand Seiko over the weekend, called The Flow of Time. The show presented watch parts from Grand Seiko's Spring Drive watch movement inside glass vases in front of a enthralling landscape of light and sound.

I've always believed that the Spring Drive living inside Grand Seiko watches is a technology that will be invented in the year 2030, and somehow arrived in our here and now. The show's theme is that time does not tick in discrete intervals. Time flows smoothly, like a Spring Drive's second hand.
The show was beautiful, a treat for the eyes and soul. There's more information about The Flow of Time exhibit (which has closed) here.

And some photos and videos below to enjoy:

Friday, October 26, 2018

Swiss Versus Chinese Movements, Which Wins?

by Francis Jacquerye

How do Chinese movements compare to Swiss movements? I can answer that question from having personally used in production and fine-tuned different mechanical movements: the Seagull ST-1901, Miyota 8217, Miyota 9015, ETA 2824-2 and ETA 7750.

Siduna calibre 13, based on the ETA 7750
The one thing that Japan and Swiss movements deliver, and that I have not yet seen in movements from China is consistent quality.

If you take a basic ETA 7750, the level of surface finishing is something that China will not have problems matching or exceeding. When it comes to alloys, they use slightly weaker ones, so they tend to compensate by making parts a little bit thicker.

Where they fail, however, is in delivering consistency. You can assemble 1,000 ETA 2824-2s and the percentage of defect during outgoing quality control or on the customer’s wrist will be in the one digit percent range.

With mass-produced Japanese movements the rate will be slightly higher but still one digit.

Switch to Chinese movements and suddenly your defect rate is in the double digit percentages -- and I mean significant two digits like 30% or 50%.

I am not bashing China movements. I have fine-tuned dozens of Seagull ST-1901s; their balance springs performed as well as that of an ETA 2892-A2. (Independent Swiss watch companies might even take in consideration sourcing balance springs in China since they can produce quality.)

There is nothing wrong with single Chinese components, but there are serious shortcomings when there are assembled because they can fail to work together.

Played out on an industrial scale this means that every single watch with a Chinese movement should be individually checked and regulated, which would defeat the whole cost saving expectation with mass production.

Many reviews of Chinese mechanical movements by professionals also point out the inadequate oiling: either too little oil, which fails to fulfil its purpose and causes the parts to wear out faster, or too much oil, which will attract dust and dry up faster.

Buying a watch with a Chinese movement is like flipping a coin: heads and you get a trouble-free watch, tails and you end up with a few sleepless nights. But you never know how the coin will land before you buy that watch.


Former Longines chief designer Francis Jacquerye now manages SIDUNA urmanufaktur, mechanical watches made with passion. You can read his article about chronographs on Medium.

This article originally appeared in a different form on WatchUSeek

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Painting a Franck Muller Dial

How is a fabulous Franck Muller dial painted? Other than carefully?

Here's the answer:

I took this video at a watch fair in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. Franck Muller transported a watch dial artist from Switzerland to Tokyo for the fair. I've never seen anyone which such steady hands.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Seiko's Museum of Paradise

Iron movement tower clock circa 1500
Well, it's actually called the Seiko Museum, but if you're a watch geek, then the Seiko Museum is two floors of timeless bliss. It's like being stuck on Bora Bora with endless flowing pina coladas and equally endless sunshine.

The Seiko Museum is off the beaten path. You'll find no Seiko boutiques nearby (though there are Seikos for sale in the museum's gift shop.) There are no watch stores at all in the neighborhood. The Seiko Museum is the destination.

Pro tip: Tell your traveling companion that the Seiko Museum isn't just a place about Seiko watches. The first floor is all about old timepieces.) Tell them the museum offers a slice of Japanese history you won't find at other museums. (You'll learn about business, war, style, engineering, and design.)

There's no entrance fee, and there's no fee for an English or Japanese speaking guide. I very much recommend a guide, because that person will invariably know a thing or two about the history of timekeeping and Seiko you don't. Like how incense clocks were used. Your guide will also touch clocks and make them bing and clang, something you can't do on your own.

You may even relearn a little Seiko history, as I did from our spirited Wired-wearing guide.  (Wired is a Seiko brand). For instance, like others, I've read that Seiko used the time-tested principle of competition to make the best possible watch. In 1959, Seiko set their two subsidiaries, Daini Seikosha and Suwa Seikosha, on independent paths, coaxing them into "friendly competition." Suwa introduced the Grand Seiko in 1960 (you can see one at the museum), while Daini ran with the King Seiko. The King Seiko was a pretty good watch, which inspired Suwa to make the Grand Seiko even better.

An incense clock
Or something like that. But mostly what I thought I knew is that the rivalry between Daini and Suwa was collegial, like two kids in college studying together for final exams. According to our guide the competition was bitter. She didn't use the word "enemies," but I got the sense that Daini and Suwa were less like two college students studying together and more like two guys pursuing the same woman, who happens to be the last woman on earth. Even to this day Suwa, which became Seiko Epson and which makes Spring Drive and quartz watches, and Daini, which was transformed into Seiko Instruments, where mechanical watches are born, are engaged in intense competition. Some people in Daini and Suwa aren't on speaking terms. Competition, indeed!

During World War I, Seiko  sold boatloads of alarm clocks to England and France. Previously, those countries had imported alarm clocks from Germany, but the war put a stop to that, so Seiko stepped in.

The museum offers a fun, interactive three-dimensional (you have to wear polarized eyeglasses) exhibit where you can take apart and put together movements for mechanical, quartz and Spring Drive watches, without risking thousands of dollars.

A marvel of engineering from 1967, the hi-beat Lord Marvel
You'll see a wide range of rare watches, including a high-beat Lord Marvel, Japan's first 36,000 bph watch, and the Laurel, Seiko's first wristwatch, built in 1913. The Laurel is the watch I most want to steal collect.

The museum also has the first Seiko Astron, the watch that almost destroyed revolutionized the watch industry on December 25, 1969, when it went to market. Seiko itself stopped selling mechanical Grand Seikos in 1976 until 1998. It's still a mystery to me how Seiko was able to resurrect Grand Seiko after decades of dormancy. Where did the watchmakers come from? How did Grand Seiko retool? Where did all their knowledge go during that time? I need to visit the museum again to find out.

You'll learn how an old style Japanese seasonal clock worked. It was based on how the amount of light changes during the seasons, a pretty wild way to track time.

There's much more to say about the Seiko Museum, but what museum review can aptly describe what only your eyes can enjoy?

Download the Seiko museum pamphlet here.

Friday, October 12, 2018

New Omega Speedmasters: Sneak Preview

New Omega Speedmasters: Sneak Preview

We love our Omega Speedmasters. The commemorative editions. The limited editions. The special dials. The commemorative, limited editions with special dials. Here are some forthcoming Omega Speedmasters. We don’t have any insight on when these will be released, so keep your eyes open and wrists ready.

A Speedmaster to mark the 1,000,000 cup of coffee sold in NASA’s vending machines, the Java Fuel Speedmaster.
One of the most precious Speedmasters, the
blue Snoopy Award. 
A Speedmaster to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the 1989 Speedmaster Apollo XI Speedmaster which commemorated the 20th anniversary of Apollo XI, the Apollo XI Anniversary Anniversary Speedmaster.

A Speedmaster to mark the 10th Anniversary of the first couple to have sex in orbit, the Eros Speedmaster. Note: This watch may not be safe for work.

A Speedmaster to celebrate Neil Armstrong’s 100th birthday, which will be in 2030. This Speedmaster will be issued in 2020, so you can get yours ten years in advance. It will be reissued again in 2025 and 2030, but these second and third editions won’t be as collectable and valuable. The Armstrong Birthday Speedy will show a moonphase complication along with a dial dotted with candles in place of stars.

A Speedmaster for watch collectors who can’t decide which Speedmaster to get, the Schrodinger's Cat Speedmaster. This Speedmaster will feature a holographic dial that shows a cat at play or a cat that’s dead, depending on the angle at which you look at the watch.

A Speedmaster to mark the successful filming of the movie that made the world believe men walked on the moon, the David Blaine Speedmaster.

A Speedmaster that commemorates the installation of LED lighting at NASA HQ in 2009, the Bright Speedmaster.

A Speedmaster that celebrates the first successful unclogging of a space toilet, the Throne Speedmaster.

A Speedmaster to honor the first American in space, Alan B. Shepard, who didn’t wear a Speedmaster but would have if we had given him one, the Alan B. Shepard Speedmaster.

A Speedmaster to commemorate the first Speedmaster, limited to 5,005 units, the Limited Anniversary Speedmaster. The relief gold medallion at the 9 o’clock position shows the original Speedmaster.

The 2028 Sydney Summer Olympics Speedmaster may turn out to be the rarest Speedmaster if the summer Olympics are held in another city.