Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Leap Second CAPTURED

I am sure many of you have heard the news that today is an unusual day. Unusual because it is one second longer than every other day this year. This extra 'leap second' was thrown in at 9:59am Sydney time, making the 59th minute a very special 61 second minute. For any time freaks or radio addicts out there this is a big event, because it is single unique second that occurs only once every four years.

Right now, some of you might be asking: "So what's the big deal?"

Well it's simple. For centuries we regarded the sun as the most accurate clock in our universe. We set our timepieces against it. However, in the early 1800s advances in mechanical clocks led to the realisation that earth's rotation around the sun is slwoing down. We humble humans had produced clocks of greater accuracy than every before, an amazing achievement!

Our achievements in timekeeping didn't stop there though. Around 1940 the atomic clock was developed. Millions of times more accurate than a mechanical watch, the atomic clock became our new time standard. We measured the error in Earth's solar rotation: our Earth is slowing down by a quarter of a second every year. This presented a problem: how to keep our Earth 'on time' on its orbit of the sun. The timekeeping was no longer a matter of 'us' being late, but the Earth being late. Thus the leap second was born.

The creation of the leap second has proved controversial. Some scientists say we shouldn't worry about reconciling atomic with with earth/sun time at all. This makes today's leap second extra special, because it could be the last leap second of all. The end of an era in the history of human timekeeping.

I for one couldn't miss it. This morning I locked myself away with my radio. My plan? To capture that second in real time, and frame it as proof for posterity that it really happened.

To do so I tuned my short wave receiver to the International Time and Standard frequency of exactly 15mhz. On that frequency a transmitter located in Hawaii called WWVH sends out a time radio signal. I then processed the received signal with a piece of software that graphically displays the signal's audio component. The snapshot this created is simple proof of this uniquely lengthened 59th minute.

Was it difficult? The best analogy I can think of would be likening it to trying to photograph a meteorite. Not only do you need the best camera equipment, but also you have to hope for perfect conditions, no clear skies, no photo. Even with perfect conditions you would still need to know exactly when and where to look to find your target. In the end if the light from the meteor or in my case the signal from Hawaii was just too weak, then all efforts would have been in vain.

Luckily for me, although the signal wasn't strong, it was just strong enough. I sat listening to the signal from 8am, and sure enough could hear a pre-recorded message telling me that UT1 time would be adjusted for a leap second at 00:00 GMT. The event was on as scheduled, I just needed a bit of luck to catch it.

BEEP. The time signal appeared on the spectrum timeline, seemingly at precisely 10:00am. I took my snapshot and looked closer. The signal sat slightly off the time mark. I've got it!

The addition of just one second in 125 million may seem insignificant. Yet to me it is not. It is a testament to our mastery of time. We may not have any idea what time is all about, or what we are all about for that matter, but at least we are getting better at measuring it.

What an exciting journey!

Monday, June 29, 2015

rebelde Contributes

Some of you will remember that about four weeks ago we said that we were going to organise an auction in which all proceeds would be donated to the University of Sydney's East Timor Health Fund. Unfortunately, we are going through a crazy period where priority is given to workshop activities, and have not found the time to do this. In time it will happen, however, we made a commitment to the fund for now. Therefore I am proud to report that today the rebelde project was able to deliver a cheque to representatives of the University of Sydney. This was a happy event, and we are proud of our association with these intelligent and hardworking people, who have devoted themselves to making a difference.

I am sure that you all know about the law of diminishing returns- that to a person on a low income even a few dollars can have a huge impact on their enjoyment of life, but for someone on a high income, a comparatively huge amount of money won't make the slightest bit of difference. The more money you have, the less you enjoy it. You know how excited you were with your first watch... and then the second... but after that it's almost impossible to find a peice that reignites that initial excitement. That feeling is universally human, it is an inevitable and unfortunate consequence of financial comfort and disposable income. Once you have reached this stage you find that sharing your prosperity becomes a far greater source of joy, than the acquisition of more personal wealth.

What put us in this position was the rebelde project; which thanks to your support is now able to support other projects itself. This is not something I would ever have been able to do even three years ago, but thanks to rebelde, and your excitement for it, we have been able to support the Timor Leste Health Fund, and make a real difference. Again, the full credit goes to those hardworking people on the ground, who left the comfort of living in Sydney to go and work in East Timor. I admire the sacrifice they make to change the lives of others. If there is one thing that Australians are really good at, it is their medical voluntary work overseas. We are extremely proud of our rebelde ambassador Professor Peter McMinn, who will spend this entire year in Vietnam and East Timor conducting crucial research on the Rota-virus, and all other members of the East Timor Health Fund team.

Today I want to thank you all for supporting us, so that we in turn can support them.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How to subscribe to my newsletter?

To assist our customers in staying abreast of what is on offer without having to constantly check our website, we publish a couple of newsletters. One of these newsletters contain the details of the new stock we get in, as well as occasional opinion pieces by myself on various issues on and off the field of horology.

This is our free newsletter and can be subscribed to here: Subscribe to Free Newsletter

In addition to this we also publish a Premium newsletter with yearly subscription of $99 a year. This newsletter is the first place any information about watches we get in is published, and is provided to give serious collectors a head start on finding the watches they are after.

The premium newsletter can be subscribed to here: Subscribe to Premium Newsletter

A Post in a Forum...

"I am considering a rebelde. However I saw this post in an online forum, it was brief and read: 'Who is going to pay $14K for a gold rebelde?'. Please reassure me that rebelde is a good investment. A.K."

Dear A K,

I found this advert on Craigslist the other day:

"My kid is having a birthday coming up soon, and there'll be a lot of children around, so I figured I'd better get a pony. If you have a pony to sell, please contact me, and then immediately start putting barbeque sauce in it's bedding or add some Lawry's to it's salt lick - I like to marinade it early and long, so that the flavour is at it's peak by the time I take possession."

The first point I want to make is this: online forums are fun places to visit, especially if you have time to kill, sitting at the airport lounge or while your boss is having a day off and you are left unsupervised with a tonne of important work to do but you just can't pull yourself together. However most of the stuff you find online falls into 3 categories: fantasy and wishful thinking, unsolicited advice or plain nonsense.

No one in their right mind would go online to get medical or investment advice, because the online world is *not* the real world, but mere shadow and mirage of it.

The second point is this: our opinion about the world is based on our own vantage point. Today, I arrived to work on public transport, but some of my subscribers and rebelde comrades arrived in Porsches. Others were driven to work. Many didn't even go to work because they no longer have to work. A few of them will fly large commercial aircraft today because this is what they do for a living. And one thing you can be sure of is this: the world looks completely different from the back seat of the E69 bus than from the cockpit of a Boeing 747.

We are all different. What seems like a hell of a lot of money for you or me, is loose change for someone else. Terms like "expensive" or "cheap" have completely different meanings to different people. Would you pay $600,000 for a chess set? Or $250 for a hamburger? $35 million for a 1962 Ferrari? The PrestigeHD Supreme Rose Edition TV sells for $2,7 million dollars. Pollock's painting No 5. sold for $140 million in 2006. when it changed hands between two collectors. Today, it would be worth significantly more. This is the REAL world: real people CREATING real things, selling to real buyers who have REAL money to afford them.

To answer your question: $13,980 for an 18K gold rebelde is really not that much when you take in to account a/the mere gold-content value; b/exclusivity; c/compare it with any other gold watch out there available for under $14K. I am not mentioning the story behind it, or anything else which is bit more complex to attach value to.

Asking is a rebelde a good investment is same as asking is any watch a good investment? The answer is: we don't know. Some watches do increase in value over the time, others don't. But people who buy 18K gold Rolex or Cartier or IWC or rebelde don't buy them for investment purposes. They buy them simply because they want them. I wish there was a more rational explanation to this phenomenon, but there isn't.

What makes rebelde much different from Rolex, IWC, Cartier and really any other luxury brand, is the fact that each gold rebelde is made to order. That is, unlike all other brands, I don't have a stockpile of watches sitting in a safe, waiting to be sold. You won't find a glossy advert for rebelde. The rebelde project is self-sustaining and we owe money to no one, so I don't need to assemble and sell 500, 50 or even 5. Rebelde 18K gold can not be bought on credit card because I would never exchange REAL gold for a piece of plastic. It can not be traded for another brand - I would not take a Rolex or Panerai for rebelde. This is something you may find difficult to accept or understand, but that's how it is. One day when I'm gone, things may be different, but as long as I am making them with my own hands, this is how it's going to be.

If you are going to pay any attention to what people think of you, or what they think of your product then you will end up with a very functional but very boring and very commercial product. The drip series of paintings established Pollock as a leading figure of new American painting. Pollock was an iconoclast and a rebel, which got him a reputation that made him infamous. His techniques and methods were radical. This in turn was great publicity for his work.

Project 'rebelde gold' is not conceived to please the masses -and particularly not the hordes of anonymous online forum users- but to excite a handful of true supporters. The only thing on my mind is how to make rebelde more water resistant, how to improve my polishing technique, how to get rid of dust particles which are impossible to get rid of, how to drill more perfect holes, cut finer thread, to invest in better assembly tools and equipment, where to find skilled craftsman who share the same ideas as myself, where to find better leather for straps, source more Swiss mechanisms - and then, to find time to design more dials, hands, cases, re-commence work on rebelde chrono, complete Titanium series. And these are just the top priorities on my 'to do' list. Unfortunately there is simply no time to care about other people's opinions or to convince anyone about anything. Those who have nothing to do will always find plenty of time to waste.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Production in earnest

The work station set up.

Precision assembly.

Putting the final polish on the cases.

Washed up.

Monday, June 15, 2015

***The finished product

***The finished product: rebelde 18k Rose Gold

Today is an exciting day. Today, I have fully assembled my first rebelde in rose gold, T03/10. Exciting news for rebelde comrade George C. who will be taking ownership of it shortly. However before relinquishing T03 to him, I thought I'd share what the final product looks like with all of you. The watch is mounted on our new alligator horn strap, which is on offer as an alternative to Horween, exclusively for rebelde gold. These alligator horn straps have been in the making almost nine months now, as our supplier searched for only the perfect horns for our straps. I have also included a couple of close up pictures of the much awaited gold buckles for your perusal. It feels good to finally have completion of the project within my grasp. With no more components left to wait for, a few weeks of assembly is all that's left standing between us and the next exciting chapter for rebelde.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Preview of Titanium A

***The first preview of rebelde titanium A.

Case size: 45mm. Movement: a very unique chequered finish. 50 pieces only. Brush, gloss and sandblasted finish. Water pressure tested. Ready to move on dial design! Delivery: October 2015.

No Fear

***The next rebelde

The greatest fear for any watchmaker is the fear of scratching a watch dial during the repair or servicing process. The dial is the most prized component of the watch, one which is almost impossible to replace or to even repair, repaint or restore without leaving traces. The possibility of damaging a customer’s dial is a nightmare – even for the most experienced and most skilled watchmaker. This is made many times worse on a unique, vintage or a rare timepiece. While servicing the mechanical ‘internals’ is just a matter of time and dedication, handling the dial is a task bordering on becoming some kind of ritual ceremony: the dial is carefully removed then quickly stored away while the watch is overhauled. The slightest contact with a sharp tool, tweezers or a screwdriver will leave permanent and irreversible damage and this is something that must be avoided at any cost. It is not just a mater of ‘the customer will notice it’ – it is a matter of pride and self respect. And this is precisely why all watch brands strictly control the supply of their dials to independent watchmakers. By controlling the supply of dials, brands retain full control over the servicing of the watch. A simple yet effective ‘tool of oppression’. For a watch brand, the dial design and it’s elaborate execution is sign of pride and workmanship. For 500 years of Horological history, no watchmaker and no brand in the world has ever intentionally produced a watch with an imperfect dial. Not until today.

In front of me and in front of you today is the rebelde “NO FEAR” Pilot’s watch. Each dial is unique having been scratched with no less than 13 different tools and stained with inks in never to be repeated colour schemes. Rebelde “NO FEAR” is limited batch of 10 individually signed pieces. Each one is completely unique and imperfect. Each “NO FEAR” piece is rebelde’s way of saying “we don’t care”. Because we don’t. A rebelde and its owner can not be oppressed. Oh yes, we CAN do perfect – as 256 rebelde owners can testify. But today we chose not to: no other watch brand in the world, ever, stood for ‘NO FEAR’ and ‘NO OPRESSION’ – except for rebelde.

Batch serial: Y01/10 to Y10/10. Total batch qty: 10 pieces.

Case: original 3-piece rebelde Pilot’s, 44mm in surgical steel.

Sapphire crystal, 11atm waterproof.

Swiss UNITAS manual wind movement, signed rebelde.

Gold rebelde cases

***Gold rebelde cases

Another milestone reached: 18K gold rebelde cases are completed. The photos below show the very first assembly of the middle case, bezel and case back. Good news: the Teflon seals and crystals are perfect fit (this was a crucial moment since each component is manufactured by a different specialist). Any out-of-tolerance part would require re-making which would set us back at least 4-6 months! The next step is crown tube assembly, then movement and dial assembly. The watch case is fully serviceable (if needed). I feel very proud and humbled - there are not many watchmakers out there who can proudly assign almost $14,000 to a watch - and certainly none in Australia. Thank you all for your support. Without you, this project would have remained just a dream.

Developments in Gold rebelde

***Counting down the days to Gold rebelde release

It's been a slow process but the final piece of the Gold rebelde puzzle is falling into place. At this very moment the final gold buckle is being finished, and soon they will be in my workshop where assembly can begin in earnest. With the completion of this final component I can now also confirm the final price for Gold rebelde will be $13,980. We're only weeks away now from the first Gold rebelde's leaving my workshop, so watch this space for more developments.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Gold rebelde, finally!

***Rebelde gold takes its first breath

After 7 months of development, the rebelde gold watch took its first breath yesterday afternoon. The emotion that we felt collectively in the workshop was not one of joy or celebration, but rather of relief. The gold case passed the water pressure testing of 10 ATM with flying colours. This is a big step for the world’s smallest watch brand, and also a major investment in not only time and engineering, but also in raw materials. With the price of gold at $40 per gram, extreme caution had to be put into construction, so no material is wasted. On the other hand, no compromise to the water resistance and robustness was made. The total weight of the watch, including the movement, is 135g, and I can tell you that it feels good. Style-wise, it is identical to the rebelde N Pilots series, with its trademark ribbed bezel.

Note that this piece will come with a Horween Shell Cordovan Horse leather strap. Because of this, the limited numbers of these straps we have are no longer for sale, as they must be reserved for rebelde gold.

Of course, there are still things to be done. We have just ordered a gold maker’s punch – a tool that we will use in stamping our initials on all gold components. The tool will be laser-cut in England by a toolmaker who has been in the business for decades. The gold buckle is not done yet either. But then again, we don’t expect any surprises there.

***Production time frame The first batch of rebelde gold will be 10 pieces in 18K yellow gold, followed by the batch of 10 pieces in 18k rose gold. Since each case is individually manufactured, piece by piece, we believe that the gold watches will be completed in around 3 to 4 months from now. The gold finished Geneva waves movements are already in stock.

***Price This has been the most frequently asked question so far, and the one for which we still don’t have a definite answer. The reason for this is that the gold price is fluctuating like crazy, and so is the exchange rate between the AUD and USD. While we are unable to speculate on what the price might be in 3 to 4 months by now, we are very confident that $11,500 is likely to be the price.

We are now ready to take your order. It is obvious that numbers 1 and 10 of each batch will not be available for sale, which leaves us with 8 pieces of each available to rebelde comrades. To reserve your piece, a $1,000 deposit is required, with the balance payable at the time of delivery. We will do our best to accommodate your requests for a specific serial, but really, any number is as good as it gets.

If you are interested, the next step is to check out the watch in person by making an appointment. I would be more than happy to show you the watch, let you try it on, and assess it for yourself. The other question that may be on your mind is: Are we going to do any more gold watches later in the year? The short answer is that we don’t know. To start a new batch is not just a simple step of clicking a ‘re-order button’. We need to start again completely from scratch, which will take time and be a substantial financial investment in the project. At the end of the day, it will always be up to you. I have always said that on the day that the last order comes for a rebelde, our brand will end. The brand will only remain alive as long as your orders are coming in. We have no intention of having watches sitting around in stock collecting dust while they wait for potential buyers.

My apologies for the rather poor quality images. As you can imagine, I am really rushing to share this good news with you, but rest assured that the watch does look better in reality than in the photos. Once again, we thank all rebelde owners and those who follow our project with interest for their support. We are enjoying this journey and we hope that you’re having as much fun as us.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Clash of the Titans

It is pretty well known and obvious that Swiss watchmakers work hard to maintain their position in the very top segment of global watch production. While the volume of watches produced in Switzerland is only around 1% of global stock, they enjoy 90% of global watch value.

What is less well known is that at the same time, Swiss brands heavily compete against each other. If you attend a watch fair like the Basel Fair, you might be under the impression that there is some grand plan behind all these Swiss brands – a conspiracy that keeps them working together. But nothing could be further from the truth. These brands actually hate each other’s guts.

You may believe that the battle of Titans is between brands such as Rolex and Patek Philippe. Again, the situation is a little more complex. The battle is actually between the House of Swatch and the House of Richemont. The best way to describe this fight is not between two warriors but two armies who spend a great deal of time strategizing and executing their game.

The best example of this fight is the Basel Fair. Held annually in March, it is the largest horological show on the planet, so naturally anyone into watchmaking wants to be present, displaying their latest watch.

Deep down, however, the waters are fairly murky because the Basel Fair is practically owned by the Swatch group, which means that the most prominent display areas at BaselWorld are reserved for brands from the Swatch stable. So when you walk in and see brands such as Omega and Longines with large presentation spaces, you would believe that they are the biggest brands.

Of course, the Richemont group was not happy with such an arrangement, so a few years ago began their own fair in Geneva, Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), in the first month of the year featuring only their own watches. While the SIHH Fair does not have the volume of Swiss exhibitors that the Basel Fair enjoys (only 16 brands are on display), it certainly makes up multiple times for it in the glamour department. It is very hard to describe to someone the prestige of the event, from flowing champagne, free food and entertainment by international stars, to after-party VIP night clubs which spill over into the evening.

However, there is one major difference between the two. While Basel is open to the public, SIHH is primarily designed to entertain Richemont stockists and dealers, as well as a select few journalists who attend the fair by invitation only. A well-oiled machine.

Of course if you happen to be in Switzerland from March 19-26, do not miss an opportunity to attend Basel Fair, as it really is a life-altering experience.

Happy collecting,


Rebelde on tour

Great customer feedback

"Took my new Rebelde to Hanoi and snapped this photo outside the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum. Seemed appropriate.

Thought you might like a copy.

The watch is perfect – a real pleasure. Best wishes, Ric"

"K16 and I have been on vacation to Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau. Here are some photos of the experience.

I can report that K16 captured the attention of some of the good folks manning the counter at several watch dealer and boutique stores. Aside from that, a couple of colleagues were intrigued and you should also receive an enquiry from one of my cousins in HK!

All the best for 2015. Regards, Jason"

Watch winders are here!

If an entrepreneur goes out and makes claims about their product solving a problem or being better than their competitors, it can be so incredibly powerful to offer proof. When it comes to our watch winders, the proof is in the pudding. Since we sold our first winder in mid-2013, we haven't received one back, from the single to the divorce-maker (9 watches).

The watch winders are finally back in stock. We are selling single winders at $240, double at $390 and the triple at $550. They look fantastic, come with a dial control system, and can rotate bi-directionally. Two colours are available: black and brown. Delivery: $25 Australia-wide, except for WA, which is $35.

These prices are unchanged from mid-2013, when the Australian dollar was equal to the USD, and will remain so until further notice.