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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Sick of Fakes

A great article dealing with the ever lurking issue of acquiring fake products, either knowing or not:

Fed Up with Fakes!


Enjoy the reading!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Synthetic Stones - A quick review

The Verneuil Process

The Verneuil process - also referred to as the Flame-Fusion Process, is a method by which synthetic rubies and sapphires are produced. The process was originally developed in 1902 by a French chemist, Auguste Verneuil.

By applying slight modifications to this method, spinel, rutile and strontium titanate can be produced. Types of Verneuil created Flame fusion stones are in synthetic spinels (aquamarines - blue spinel - tourmaline - soudee - etc…) and for synthetic corundum (Ruby - blue sapphire - alexandrite - Kunzite - etc…).


Star rubies and sapphires were first developed in 1947 in the United States. "The synthetic gems have sharper and more distinctly developed stars than the natural crystals", which is why they are superior to natural gemstones.

Star ruby and sapphire can be made by adding titanium oxide to the feed powder in a Verneuil furnace. As the corundum cools, the titanium oxide forms crystals of the mineral rutile within the host corundum. The rutile crystals are needle-like and orient themselves according to the symmetry of the corundum, which is hexagonal (six-sided). This produces a six-rayed star when such boules are cut. The color range of synthetic star corundum is the same as that of the faceted gems.

Synthetic corundum has distinguishing characteristics. The Verneuil process always produces curved growth lines which are visible under magnification and with the correct illumination. No natural mineral ever displays such curved lines, called striae, and their presence is a guarantee of synthetic origin. Another characteristic of synthetics is the presence of perfectly round bubbles, sometimes with a small tail like a tadpole. Flux-grown rubies may show characteristic inclusions of the flux. Other tests normally used in gem identification may not prove to be helpful.

Sparkling Watches

Time as a sparkling jewel—watches with crystal or sapphire glass cases are elegant time keepers and enduring, multi-faceted companions.

Glass for watch casings —a risky idea. Glass is renowned for being a material that is extremely sensitive to knocks or falls, shattering into shards.
Nevertheless, some watches do have glass cases. Such watches are available by Swarovski, Lalique and Baccarat, for instance—all names that are associated with glass in a legendary capacity. Lalique has now withdrawn its feminine, elegant creations and no longer offers them.

The feminine and elegant clocks from the before-mentioned brands are distinctly seen as belonging to the world of fashion. The attention is in the beautiful design and the mechanisms are of secondary importance, consisting of a functional but simple clock. The target audience is made up of the people who buy branded goods, who treasure up beautiful household objects in their stylish home and who want to enhance their lives and outfit with the matching watch.

However, these companies do not let anyone look behind the scenes: various details about manufacturing or composition and the qualities of the glass cannot be coaxed out of them.

It is quite different with Saro-Gem, the Swiss watch and jewellery brand, whose watches and watch straps are studded with glass. Sapphire glass that is.
This is not the only difference between this company and other brands: while the substance they work on is actually glass in the traditional sense—the main components include silica sand (silicon oxide), soda ash (sodium carbonate) and potash (potassium carbonate), which are softened through steady heating and which finally melt and are processed—Saro-Gem uses sapphire glass. A misleading label. It is actually a synthetically-produced sapphire—a gemstone that has been artificially cultivated—but it corresponds exactly to its natural archetype in its chemical composition and its characteristics.

Synthetic sapphire is therefore comparable to synthetic rubies, which are used as bearing jewels in clockwork. Both materials are produced according to the "Verneuil Process", which is a melting process. It takes its name from the Frenchman, Professor Auguste Verneuil, who first succeeded in producing artificial stones in 1892. The first step of this process involves extracting aluminium oxide from natural bauxite through a series of chemical processes before it is processed to a powder and melted. This is how synthetic sapphire or white corundum is created—in the mineral world, sapphire belongs to the corundum family. The melting process takes place in an oxyhydrogen furnace by adding pure oxygen and hydrogen at temperatures of over 2050°C. The fluidized substance drips onto a support rod, and in around 15 hours a boule or cone forms—the synthetic sapphire.

In order to stabilize the sapphire, its pressure is relieved through heating. Only then can the sapphire be processed. This marks the start of a complex procedure, as sapphire is extraordinarily hard. On the Mohs scale, on which the hardness and scratch resistance of minerals is measured, sapphire is at number 9. Only diamond is harder, at number 10. The types of glass used by Swarovski, for example, sit much lower on the scale.

The hardness of sapphire makes it difficult to process. It can only be shaped through cutting, grinding and polishing. Gemstone cutters—experienced specialists—now play the most important role. They need a good eye, a steady hand, a lot of feeling and talent. Their tasks include rough and fine grinding and polishing. The cutters work with diamond-coated grindstones. The sapphire glass facets that are created in this process are cut by hand, which requires tolerances of 0.02 mm to be observed. They are then applied to the steel surfaces.
The finished watch straps do not have to be conserved by special metal frames—this is not necessary.

Sapphire is harder than the metals named and requires no particular attention from the person wearing the watch. He should simply beware of sharp knocks. However, at Saro-Gem there is even talk of indestructibility, as the watches surface can only be scratched by diamonds.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mass Customization


This particular example shows a side view of a watch constructed with 6 basic components:

- the rounded watch case
- a gasket ring
- a bezel ring
- the domed sapphire glass on top
- the flat sapphire glass on the back
- the back case ring

Why the fuss? What's the big deal?

What makes this approach interesting is the
"built in" option to interchange these components
pretty much at will. Drawing a comparison to a car as an example - you have the option to change the color of the interior, exterior paint scheme, add some other packages to it such as premium sound and voila - it is a mass customized product. The same goes for computers where Dell (highly successfully) pioneered the same approach. Nike allows customization and the list of companies goes on and grows daily.

Personalization is the name of the game. To get back to our watch, where one customer might enjoy brighter colors another likes them dark. Where one would prefer
the bezel to be plain, another would like to have it decorated. What makes this concept very attractive is the fact that all the options and changes are made at the point of manufacturing and generally with no increase in pricing unless one goes wild by adding gemstones all over (see example in an earlier blog posting). While there are many after market suppliers available offering great products it is always the issue with the compatibility and trust, i.e. confidence.

Going back to the car business - replacing a grille on my car with an aftermarket product took 3 attempts until it finally fit. Simply because it said manufactured in 1997 did not mean it was compatible with a grille for 1997 series models. There where changes in the body style and that was not reflected in the aftermarket components literature.

People like to individualize, limit compromise and generally don't like some manufacturer telling them "that is the model we have - take it or leave it". Aside from my customized burger, when I spend money on a purchase I like to get pretty close to what I had in mind.

In the case of our watch, the manufacturer offers almost endless customization down to the screw colors used to assemble the watch. Now that is what I call having it my way.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Worlds most scratch-resistant Watch

The investment into this watch amounts to about 34 cents a day - I purchased this model 20 years ago (you do the math - but back then set me back about 2500.-) . Daily wear did nothing to take away the brilliance of the surface. Not one scratch, not one dent. No swimming but otherwise regular wear.
Only maintenance I had to do where the changing of the battery every 3 to 4 years and 1 folding clasp where the original just plain had worn out about 5 years ago. Wish I held up as well over the years....
Btw, love the service the website picturecloud is providing. Still working on better light but can't beat the easy to use interface.

sarojubil by picturecloud.com

Worldtime Calculator

A neat interface with all sorts of options can be downloaded from the official Breitling watch page at:

http://www.breitling.com/en/misc/bwt/
Enjoy!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

How much Bling is too much Bling?



Some rather unusual pieces...

Wrist Watch History 1900's to 1948

1904: Cartier makes a watch for Alberto Santos Dumont. The watch is sold commercially in 1911 and is still one of Cartier's most popular models and much imitated.

1905: Hans Wilsdorf starts the Rolex Watch Company together with his brother in law. The company was originally amed Wilsdorf & Davis. The Rolex name was not officially registered until 1908.

1906: Omega introduces the first minute repeater wristwatch. The movement was made by Audemars Piguet.

1912: Movado introduces the "Polyplan", the first wristwatch with a curved movement and case. There were other watches with curved cases, but a curved movement was a new technical achievement.

1914: Eterna introduces the first wristwatch with an alarm.

1914: The first radio time signal was transmitted from the Eiffel Tower in Paris and in Nordeich, Germany.

1917: Cartier introduces the "Tank" watch, which still enjoys continued success until today.

1918: In Japan, the Shakosha Watch Company opened. This would become Citizen in 1931.

1920: Charles Edouard Guillaume wins the Nobel prize for inventing Invar and Elinvar. The composition of these metals causes them to be almost unaffected by temperature variations. The metals would be used for balance springs, thus greatly improving accuracy.

1920s-1930s: Art Deco styles become popular as wristwatches gain in popularity and pocket watch sales decline.

1923: John Harwood is the first to mass-produce a self-winding wristwatch. The watch was set by rotating the bezel and had no crown.

1924: In Tokyo, the Seiko brand name is launched by Kinttaro Hattori. It was formerly named "Timekeeper" and watch making was started in 1881.

1925: The first year to use Daylight Savings Time.

1926: Rolex introduces the first waterproof case called the "Oyster". It features a "Twinlock" crown that screws down to keep out moisture.

1927: Mercedes Gleitze swims across the English Channel wearing a Rolex. This was the first great publicity coup for Rolex. There would be many more as Rolex became the most recognized luxury watch brand in history.

1928: Jaeger-LeCoultre introduces the "Atmos", an amazing clock that runs on changes in temperature. A temperature change of just one degree suffices to keep the clock running for up to two days.

1929: The quartz crystal clock is invented by W.A. Marrison.

1929: Jaeger-LeCoultre introduces the world's tiniest watch movement. It measures 14mm x 4.8mm x 3.4mm and weighs 1 gram.

1929: First anti magnetic watch created by Tissot.

1931: Jaeger-LeCoultre introduces the "Reverso". Developed for polo players, the case flips over to expose the back and protect the crystal. One of the world's first sports watches. Today the Reverso is a whole collection of watches including a tourbillion, minute repeater, a double watch, jewellery style and others.

1931: Rolex introduces a self-winding model called the "Perpetual".

1932: Patek Philippe introduces their first "Calatrava" model.

1933: Advances in metallurgy make Nivarox the metal of choice for hairsprings. It is harder than Elinvar, anti magnetic, and non-rusting. These hairsprings come in various grades, with Nivarox 1 being the best. Nivarox is still used in many good watches to day.

1933: Ingersoll introduces the "Mickey Mouse" watch. This is not the first comic character watch, but definitely the most popular. Its great success inspired many other watch companies to offer their own character watches and they are very collectible today.

1935: Gruen introduces the "Curvex". The great success of this model helps fuel the explosion of curved watches that will go into the 1940s.

1936:Universal Geneve introduces the "Compax" chronograph. This was the first chronograph with an hour counter and its style helped launch the popularity of all chronographs.

1937: Edmond Jaeger joins Antoine LeCoultre to form the Jaeger-LeCoultre company in the famous Vallée de Joux in the Jura mountains north-west of Geneva.

1942: Breitling introduces the "Chronomat".

1945: Rolex introduces their first "Datejust".

1948: Omega introduces their first "Seamaster".

1948: Eterna is the first to mount the self-winding rotor on tiny ball bearings to reduce friction.

Wrist Watch Review 1952 to 1999

1952: Breitling introduces the "Navitimer" which becomes the quintessential pilot's watch.

1953: The "Submariner" introduced by Rolex.

1954: Rolex launches the "GMT Master".

1955: Rene Bannwart, designer for Omega, leaves the company to start up his own watch brand and Company named Corum.

1955: Louis Essen and JVL Perry develop the first Atomic Clock.

1956: Rolex introduces their first model that displays the day and date.

1957: Hamilton introduces the world's first battery driven watch. The watch had its share of problems but marked the beginning of a very serious crisis in the Swiss mechanical watch industry, almost leading to its complete demise.

1957: Buren makes the first self-winding watch with a micro rotor.

1959: Piaget introduces the 12P, the thinnest self-winding watch in the world at 2.33 mm thick.

1960: Bulova introduces its very successful "Accutron" model. This battery-operated watch replaced the balance wheel with a tuning fork. The system was much more accurate than previous battery operated watches.

1961: Movado introduces the "Museum" watch, a model remaining popular till to day. The dial had been designed 14 years earlier by Nathan George Horwitt.

1962: Rado produces the world's first scratchproof watch called the "Diastar 1", a classic still popular in some markets to day.

1962: ETA of Switzerland develops the first quartz battery operated watch called the "Beta 21". This is by far the most accurate and dependable system to date. Instead of starting to produce quartz watches for the general public, they did not use this new, by them invented, technology and continued to produce mechanical movements.

1966: Girard-Perregaux produces the world's first high frequency mechanical movement, (36,000 vibrations per hour). Most mechanical watches have a rate of 18,800 or 28,800 vibrations per hour.

1969: Seiko introduces the "Astron", the first quartz watch available to the general consumer. Not many Astrons were made, but this marked the beginning of the Japanese quartz watch domination.

1969: Man lands on the moon and NASA chooses the Omega Speedmaster as the watch to go to the moon with them. The Omega Speedmaster remains the first watch worn on the moon.

1969: In a race to develop the first self-winding chronograph, Zenith and Movado collaborate to introduce the "El Primero".

1970: Hamilton releases the "Pulsar", the first electronic digital watch. At the push of a button, the light emitting diode (LED) would light up the red numbers. This was easy to read, but exhausted batteries quickly.

1972: Longines and Seiko introduce a new type of digital display with the LCD, (Liquid Crystal Display). It displays the time continuously, in contrast with the LED's push button method.

1972: Audemars Piguet introduces the "Royal Oak", the first stainless steel luxury sports watch. What seemed risky back then, is the leading trend today.

1974: Paul Picot founded.

1976: Patek Philippe introduces the "Nautilus".

1976: Citizen makes the first light powered watch.

1979: Vacheron Constantin introduces the "Kallista", the world's most expensive watch. With 130 carats of diamonds, it is worth approximately 9 million dollars.

1979: Concord releases the "Delirium", the world's thinnest watch, (1.98mm). As the battle for the thinnest watches continues, the Delirium IV is released at an amazing .98 mm thick. Thin, but not very practical, as the case would bend on the wearer's wrist.

1980: Hublot founded.

1983: Despite the popularity of quartz watches, Gerd Lang starts his own mechanical watch company named Chronoswiss.

1983: SMH of Switzerland launches the Swatch brand. It immediately takes off and gives the inexpensive Japanese quartz watch brands a run for their money. The many different and sometimes crazy styles were an instant success, and at about $35, people bought not just one but many. Several limited edition Swatches have fetched hundreds, even thousands, of Swiss Francs in the collectors' market.

1984: The Texas-based Fossil watch brand is launched. With its retro styling and packaging, Fossil limited editions are an instant success with collectors.

Mid 1980s: The mechanical watch starts to make a comeback. Digital "fatigue" and appreciation for the true values of genuine mechanical masterpieces made in a centuries old tradition resurge.

1985: The Swiss Heuer Company merges with TAG to form TAG Heuer.

1985: IWC releases the "Da Vinci", a self-winding, perpetual calendar that enjoys continued success today.

1985: Citizen introduces the "Aqualand", the first diver's watch with a depth sensor.

1985: Ulysse Nardin introduces the "Astrolabium Galileo Galilei" which makes it into the Guiness Book of Records. This watch indicates the position of the sun, moon, and stars. It also shows sunrise, sunset, dawn, dusk, moon phases, moon rise and moon set, eclipses of the sun and moon, the month and the day. It was developed by Ulysse Nardin's in house genius Ludwig Öchslin and he would later develop two other complicated watches to form a trilogy set.

1986: Patek Philippe introduces the secular calendar, which factors out the adjustment in the gregorian calendar every 400 years.

1986: Audemars Piguet introduces the first self-winding Tourbillion.

1987: Alain Silberstein of Besançon, France opens his own watch company. His designs remain truly unique and instantly recognizable.

1988: Chronoswiss makes the first regulator wristwatch.

1988: Ulysse Nardin's Ludwig Öchslin develops the "Planetarium Copernicus", a watch that displays the position of the planets in relation to the Sun and Earth. It also shows the moon rotating around the Earth and has a perpetual calendar indicating the month and signs of the zodiac.

1988: Jean d'Eve and Seiko release watches that are automatic / quartz hybrids. The rotor inside charges the watch, so battery replacement is not necessary. Though this system had its problems, this technology would be improved and reintroduced later by Seiko.

1989: The world's most complicated watch, the Patek Philippe Caliber 89 is sold for 3.2 million dollars (including commissions etc.). It has 33 different functions and took nine years to complete.

1990: Daniel Roth, who was instrumental in the rebirth of the Breguet brand, launches his own brand of watches bearing his name.

1991: Junghans unveils the "Mega 1", the first watch capable of receiving a radio signal to synchronize the watch with an atomic clock.

1991: Franck Muller founded.

1991: At the height of the Swatch craze, the "Kiki Picasso" Swatch sells for 62,000 Swiss Francs.

1992: Timex unveils "Indiglo", a back lit display that illuminates the entire dial equally. This is by far the easiest watch to read in the dark. Today this same system can be found on many watches, ranging from Timex to Omega.

1992: Ulysse Nardin completes their trilogy set with the "Tellurium Johannes Kepler". This piece shows the rotation of the Earth as seen from the North Pole. It also shows which part of the Earth is exposed to the sun, and indicates sunrise and sunset. Lastly it shows the moon rotating around the Earth and eclipses of the sun and the moon.

1994: Seiko unveils the "Kinetic", a greatly improved automatic / quartz hybrid compared to the one they made in 1988. Now there are similar movements in Swiss watches.

1994: The A. Lange & Söhne brand is revived in Germany and quickly earns a position on top of the horological world along with the most prestigious Swiss brands.

1994: After years of planning, Roland Murphy introduces his own watch brand, (RGM).

1995: Symbolic of our lives becoming more dependent on computers, Timex unveils the "Data-Link". The watch "reads" information off of a computer screen to remember schedules, telephone numbers, etc.

1995: Citizen releases a line of "Eco-Drive" solar powered watches. Much better looking (not as obviously solar) than previous solar powered watches (designed by the famous Swiss designer Jörg Hysek), they last an amazing 500 days on a full charge.

1996: Philippe Dufour unveils the "Duality". The movement feature two escapements, which average against each other to improve accuracy. This system was developed to rival the tourbillion.

1996: Parmigiani brand launched. 1996: Rado unveils the "Vision 1", a watch that features a crushed diamond crystal. Until now sapphire crystals were the hardest. The Vision 1 remains an experimental model not being produced for the public at large as of yet.

1997: Patek Philippe unveils their "Annual Calendar" which runs without being adjusted for one full year.

1999: Watches that run on the difference in temperature between the air and the wearer's wrist are launched by Seiko (the "Thermic") and Citizen.

1999: Omega unveils the "Co-Axial". This movement was developed by George Daniels and has a new escapement that has less friction, which results in higher accuracy and requires less service.

1999: Casio innovates with the first wristwatch with a built-in Global Positioning System (GPS).

1999: IWC introduces the "Deep One", the first mechanical watch with a depth gauge.

Swiss Watch Making Equipment

Came across these pictures - that is how watches where made some time ago....Some of these pieces were in a collection belonging to the Puidoux Museum (in Puidoux, Switzerland), which was sold at the beginning of the year. Collectors now own this entire collection. The items have been professionally cleaned and polished, in certain cases the stand was refurbished, but all pieces are originals.. These are available for purchase - any queries please send me a mail



Antiques.pdf
The description to these photos is here
Description
The description and location of that now no longer existing museum can be found here
Puidoux Museum

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Unusual Watch Designs

What is your nomination? Do you have a favorite? Care to share??

To start off, the design here is manufactured by Laco Uhren, Pforzheim Germany. As it states on their website:




Since this innovative watch appeared in the market in 1999, it can take pride in a permanently growing group of devotees. The ABACUS 1 impresses by its clear design in form and function. It has its own and special way of playing with the definition of time. With its high quality quartz movement and its typical optical features, it will become the distinctive companion on your time journey. Reliable, precise, and with an unmistakable individual standard.

His love to old chronometers created the desire of a new interpretation of time by means of a watch. The ABACUS watch was developed on the basis of this idea of the designer Roy Schäfer (born 1967). He strictly followed the design principle Reduce to the max. His impulse: “This process of making thoughts turn to products, gives me much pleasure and is the motor of the development of new items.”

Years and years ago, a design was popular called Chromachron. The tag line was "Color your day". The time was not shown by hands or numerals but by colour-time circles. Below is what the dial basically looks like. A web search using the term Chromachron will yield that the man behind this idea was Kristian Harlan.

Get an automatic or self-winding watch?


From time to time I am getting that question at trade shows and the here is the answer. There is no difference between the two. People refer to a watch as being an automatic simply because the watch is winding itself "automatically" when worn.
Self-winding means exactly what it states, the watch is doing the work. As a matter of fact, Rolex developed and patented this technology in the early 1930's for it's use in the Oyster Perpetual watch line.
The person being credited developing the modern rotor system, was the technical chief for Rolex at that time, Mr. Emile Borer.

The person who first developed a rotor however, was Abraham-Louis Perrelet (1729-1826), one of Switzerland's greatest watchmakers.

There are some differences between watches when it comes to the power reserve, i.e.. how long a watch can be put aside without being worn before the movement stops. For that purpose, there are watch winders doing to work in the interim. There are movements featuring micro capacitors - these store "surplus" energy for when it is needed. Some of these movements have a power reserve of up to 3 months.

But, how does this self winding thing exactly work? The picture above shows an automatic or self-winding wrist watch. The rotor, the half disk seen in gold color in the picture, holds the answer. The movement of the wrist and body causes this rotor, that metal weight attached to a winding mechanism, to pivot freely on its staff in the center of the movement. The rotor rotates back and forth in a circular motion at the slightest action of the wrist. The rotor's movement winds the mainspring, a flat coiled spring that powers mechanical watches. Good to know too is that a simple override is to hand wind the watch. 10 to 15 turns of the crown is usually enough to give full power to the mainspring.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What are and why does a watch need Jewels?

Looking at the inside of a watch one notices these red or blue small "dots" - these are the watch jewels. These jewels are made of synthetic sapphires or rubies which have been drilled, champfered and polished to serve as bearings for gears in watches, reducing friction or mechanical parts to a bare minimum. The less friction the better.

Generally speaking, one may say that a simple mechanical watch (hours, minutes and seconds hands) should include at least fifteen jewels located in the places most subject to wear due to friction. It should be fitted with a shock-absorbing system on the balance, a good quality balance-spring and an unbreakable spring.

A great article going into quite some detail can be found at:

http://elginwatches.org/help/watch_jewels.html

Enjoy the reading :)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Chronograph - Chronometer - Complications

It might get a bit complicated as to what term applies to what model watch- the following might shed some light and provides some answers:


-A Chronograph is a timepiece equipped with additional time measurement functions independent of normal time-telling.

-A Chronometer is a high-precision timepiece which movement, after rigorous testing, has received an official timing certificate from and official timing bureau. The norm after such watches are eld to is called ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 3159-1976

-Watches providing additional measurement functions to the hours, minutes and seconds are referred to as "Complications". The best-known complication watches are calendar watch, the most common of which display only the date. There are also chronographs with a center seconds hand which can be started, stopped and brought back to zero using one or two push-button on the side of the watch. Other additional functions include second time zone, alarm, moonphase, repeater, perpetual calendar, etc.

Different Watch Bracelets...




Would you wear a low cost plastic watch with a diamond studded bracelet or modify your Rolex Presidential with a rubber band? Likely, you would not! A bracelet means much more. Leaving aside its function as a means of attaching to the watch, the bracelet has performed the most varied tasks in people's lives since the very beginning of mankind.





To give you some examples:


- The bracelet carried as silver rings, was used as a form of currency

- The bracelet served as shield on the wrist of hunters and warriors

- Bracelets were frequently used to indicate the rank of their wearer's

There has been a great evolution in that area, and available are a large amount of different products to satisfy the most demanding requests. To name some without the claim to be complete:

- Rubber
- Croco, Snake, Calf, Sheep, Camel, Ostrich, Stingray to name some of the more interesting ones
- Stainless Steel
- Gold, Platinum
- Sapphire overlay

One aspect for the wearer will generally be if the bracelet is skin friendly i.e. non allergy. Other considerations will be cost to life expectancy and how the product will perform over time. At last, it can complement the wearer and act as a piece of self expression.

-Rubber bands are the choice for many people, easy to get, to replace and cost effective. I sure never liked them in the summer time...

-A quality, genuine leather band is labor intensive thus has it's price. It takes a lot of skill to produce the finished product. While it is looking great initially you would expect to replace it within 2 to 3 years. I am wearing a Stingraybracelet and it is holding up well does show wear on the edges after about 6 months of daily use.

-A stainless steel band can be heavy, bulky feeling (not as flexible) and depending on the grade and quality also scratch. There is an almost scientific aspect to this as it pertains to ambient temperature and the loss of body heat too people tell me. I would be most interested to hear if anyone has heard of any studies here. As one knows, there is a big industry selling bracelets for health - these are mostly of copper and people wearing them swear that they have less muscle pains and aches. I doubt there are healing "micro chips" in these but it goes back to the base material. Never minded the bracelet on my Tissot, did kept bi-color appearance for years but ruined quite a few dress shirts as the closing buckle got tangled up frequently.

Diamond studded, solid gold or the nugget type bracelets - have no report here as I never owned one thus not have the opportunity to comment from experience. Feel free to share :)

Sapphire overlay is my choice for quite some time, 20 years to be exact and I come back to it frequently. The base layer is skin friendly stainless steel (coating of titanium nitride) and the surface is topped off with sapphire stone plates. It is overall quite light, flexible and with the integrated folding clasp it won't ever ruin any piece of clothing I am wearing. It is an achievement of perfected manufacturing - I always thought a sapphire to be in a ring, in a tennis bracelet but not used as surface on a watch bracelet. As an extra bonus, sapphire being durable, the bracelet will never scratch unless you go to work with a diamond or another sapphire surface covered piece which, quite frankly, won't happen anytime soon.

I am sure most of you have not seen that type of bracelet - an example is attached to this blog. You can see that the sapphire is set back a tad as this prevents that the plate is chipped off. The base color on this band is emeral green - the color changes from green to purle to black depending on light. Being a extremely clear surface it is a challenge to get pictures doing proper justice.

What is your experience?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sticky and gluey....

Another day and another interesting tidbit - right from a friend in the Vallee de Joux, THE watch area in Switzerland.
As one would suspect, a movement of a watch is comprised of quite a few wheels, rotors, screws and other neat "little" stuff. No matter how clean the environment is, there ARE ways dirt, debris and other "non conforming" pieces which find their way in and around a movement. It is amazing to see how tiny the wheels are and you can imagine that even the smallest piece of that debris can have a fatal impact on the precision of such a fine movement.
This is where simplicity and thinking came into play - some of you might had a watch open to find the case back revealing a thin layer of some sort of sticky substance. Bingo! In the very, very early ages of watch manufacture it was a honey like paste applied to the back. Today it is more high tech but has the exact same result. Reason? Gravity! Particles not belonging to the movement will find their way and "fall" to the bottom and get trapped on that substance. The next person to open that watch will see it, clean it and thus prevent frustration and disappointment. It's patented and being used this very day by a few high end watch companies. Who said attention is in the detail...

Did you know?

Talking about watch parts, a very tiny piece on your watch plays a big part in providing you with a long trouble free operation. I am referring to the gaskets used to seal the stem. The crown sits on that stem and you will pull the crown out to adjust date and time, some times more frequently than others.
These gaskets are many times of rubber composition so they have a tight & better fit. Some gaskets can be found right inside the crown (more friction as the crown gets turned) where other manufacturers will groove the stem and put them there (easy to replace).
In any case, if you have your watch serviced, have the watch maker check the gasket seals as rubber tends to age not very, umm, gracefully, will get brittle and a movements worst enemy - water / humidity - will find it's way inside. It's just like the check up for your car, it is the little things which can make a big difference.

How to clean your watch bracelet

No matter if you wear your watch daily or just on Sundays - sooner or later the wear will catch up and the original appearance will make way to these unsightly water spots, particles and other, well, just plain dirt which has no place on your time piece no matter if fashionable, pricey or not. There are generally many places where this stuff can hide and the best way to clean a bracelet is to use hand warm soapy water and a toothbrush (yes, there are many more uses for these) with soft bristles. You want to make sure that the crown is pushed in, no need to fully submerge the watch at all but just let the bracelet sit for a few moments, then use the brush. After, rinse with clean water for a few moments.
You'll find this to be an easy and cheap cleaning and that way and the band will look better after this treatment.
If anybody has other tips, feel free to share. As an example, I have tried ultrasonic cleaners used for rings and other jewelry- by just taking the bracelet right off (water resistant / water proof or not - why risk your watch) and putting the bracelet by itself into the bath. With a push of a button the base will start to vibrate with a very high frequency for a couple minutes - water combined with a little lemon juice works wonders here. After that treatment again, rinse and dry the bracelet with a towel. Use at your own risk and take your time.

SARO Gem US, Inc