Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Watch styles and your Personaility

As usual yesterday's subscriber special sold in mere minutes. That is the norm for subscriber specials these days, but what was interesting was that the gentleman who bought the watch told us that he did so because one of the lines in the newsletter description perfectly described the person he was buying the watch for.

'This is perfect watch for the lady who doesn't want to their watch shout out, yet still wants to enjoy a quality watch' 

That got us thinking about watches, style and personality. They say 'that clothes maketh the man', but many people don't always have the option to really make a statement about our personality through our clothes on a daily basis, especially those who wear a uniform, a suit in the office or those comfortable weekend clothes. That means that for many of us our watch probably speaks more about our true selves than any other part of our clothing.

Here is a quick ride though a few personality styles which you might not agree with, and as usual feel free to tell us if you feel that we are way wrong. So without further ado, put on those sunglasses... lets start with....

*** Bling!!!!

For those who's personality is larger than life, and certainly louder than the dress code at work! These watches often sparkle like their owners by utilising diamonds and pearl dials. They stand out from the crowd, catch the light and everyone's attention.

Whilst the allure of diamonds is universal and totally understood, the beauty of Mother of Pearl is that blends with many skin tones and helps to highlight the effects of both diamonds and gold. Blending diamonds with pearl produces a watch that is perfect when dressed up for dinner, and yet also not at all out of place when dressed down for a day out in the sun.

The Omega is pure bling with a serious diamond count surrounding its pearl dial, itself with diamonds on the markers, WOW! The Breitling might appear less obviously overt, yet that deep misty dial with conversely laid subdials really catches the light better than any photo could ever do justice, come in and see it!

Be the talk of the town with these watches!

Omega Seamaster Diamond Dial and Bezel
Omega Seamaster diamond dial and bezel, mother of pearl
Breitling Chronomat Acier Limited Series, mother of pearl dial

*** Classic and Subtle

Whilst subtle and classic are really two slightly different things, we grouped them together in our little office survey as often the more classically styled watches were favoured by those who don't want to make a fuss or shout about their choice of watch, like the Omega from the subscribers special yesterday.

These watches suit buyers that want to enjoy a quality watch but don't want anyone to feel they are showing off. They offer clean styling and time reading is simple and clear. These are watches that your colleagues would have to look closely to realise what they were, but of course you would have them half hidden under a shift cuff anyway, its just who you are...

The clean and classic Omega watches are obviously subtle, but the solid gold Rolex is so nicely toned down by the use of a leather strap that it's subtle as well as being a true classic.

Shussh! don't shout about these watches....

Omega Aqua Terra Quartz
1978. Rolex Oyster Datejust Ref. 1625
Omega DeVille Ref. 4813.40.01

*** Contemporary

When looking for a dressy watch that breaks away from the norm, it can be tough to locate something that is different enough from the crowd that you can be safe in the knowledge that you've got something that you wont see when you look around in a business meeting anytime soon. The people who are attracted to these watches tend to be those that don't want to toe the party line and while they wont often speak about it, they make their choices seriously with quality and style in mind.

Step away from the usual Rolex and Omega crowd and lets talk Cartier. Superb quality and watches that whilst contemporary in design are also subtle as well as classics. Hard to go wrong of course

Be different...

Gents' Cartier Roadster Automatic in stainless steel
Gents' Cartier Santos 100 XL

*** Techno Cool

While few will admit it, they are gadget freaks who will buy the latest technology no matter what it is; ipod, iphone, ipad... and they would probably queue to buy an iwatch if one came on the market, even if it wasn't actually of the quality they would usually favour in a timepiece. Then there are others who make use of technology in their jobs, and like to have a watch that has extra functions. Plenty of people use a stopwatch to time various things at work, and many Pilots enjoy having a watches with extra time zones and other slide rule functions and we should not forget that NASA flight qualified the Speedmaster and it helped save the Apollo 13 astronauts when their computer failed.

The Breitling Chronospace with dual time module is a technological tour de force and will keep any techno junkie happy for ages, and the Tudor provides a simple and easy to use mechanical stopwatch function yet in a more classic style. For those who just like technology but don't have the need, both will of course time your boiled eggs and toast to perfection!

Far better than another iWatch rumour...

Breitling Chronospace Ref. 56012.1
Tudor Chronotime Prince Date Chronograph Ref. 79260

Are you a watch user or abuser?

We often call them marvels of mechanical micro engineering, status symbols, precious heirlooms, and fashion accessories. And yes, of course that's what watches are. However, many of us simply forget the most important property of mechanical watches: the fact that they are designed and manufactured as precision AND accurate instruments.

(Although it is worth pointing out that many of these instruments are perhaps precise but not actually that accurate, but don't worry I am not going to bore you with a discussion about either precision or accuracy today! )

The point of this rant is this: While many can afford a mechanical watch, only some of us truly understand the challenges related to using mechanical watches. Of course, it does take bit of sophistication to truly appreciate a 300 component precision instrument. We might be rich by now if we had a dollar for every time a customer asked us, "So I can't really wear it in shower?", "I can play golf and jog with it, yes?" and, our 'favourite'; "What? I need to wind it manually... every day? no way!", usually finishing with "... my $99 Casio never complained when I do all that and more!"
Hmmm... Precisely !

If that is where you're coming from then obviously, due to your lack of appreciation and sophistication, then no, this precision instrument is definitely *NOT* for you. I'm sorry, but until watch owners care to learn the difference between the terms 'use' and 'abuse', they have no right to call themselves watch aficionados; because, frankly, they are not.

Sadly the other end of spectrum is that there are those who are always happy to point out that mechanical watches are designed to withstand extreme conditions. The proof is apparently in the fact that many watches survived years of abuse before giving up.

While this is definitely a testimony to makers of fine watches, this argument alone makes very little sense. Our aim is to preserve watches for next generation, enjoy the precision and accuracy, marvel at their mechanical engineering: not to push them to limits or beyond.

After all, pushing to the limit and beyond has already been done 54 years ago. To be flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space missions, the OMEGA Speedmaster Professional chronograph successfully passed 11 different tests.

48 hours at a temperature of 160 deg F (71 deg C) followed by 30 minutes at 200 deg F (93 deg C). This under a pressure of 5.5 psia (0.35 atm) and relative humidity not exceeding 15%.

Four hours at a temperature of 0 deg F (-18 deg C).

Chamber pressure maximum of 1.47 x 10^-5 psia (10^-6 atm) with temperature raised to 160 deg F (71 deg C). The temperature shall then be lowered to 0 deg F (-18 deg C) in 45 minutes and raised again to 160 deg F in 45 minutes. Fifteen more such cycles shall be completed.

A total time of 240 hours at temperatures varying between 68 deg F and 160 deg F (20 degC and 71 degC) in a relative humidity of at least 95%. The steam used must have a pH value between 6.5 and 7.5.

The test item shall be placed in an atmosphere of 100% oxygen at a pressure of 5.5 psia (0.35 atm) for 48 hours. Performance outside of specification tolerance, visible burning, creation of toxic gases, obnoxious odours, or deterioration of seals or lubricants shall constitute failure to pass this test. The ambient temperature shall be maintained at 160 deg F (71 degC).

Six shocks of 40 g's, each 11 milliseconds in duration, in six different directions.

The equipment shall be accelerated linearly from 1 g to 7.25 g within 333 seconds, along an axis parallel to the longitudinal spacecraft axis.

Ninety minutes in a vacuum of 1.47 x 10^-5 psia (10^-6 atm) at a temperature of 160 deg F (71 degC) and 30 minutes at 200 deg F (93 degC).

The equipment to be subjected to a pressure of 23.5 psia (1.6 atm) for a minimum period of one hour.
10. VIBRATION Three cycles of 30 minutes (lateral, horizontal, vertical), the frequency varying from 5 to 2,000 cps and back to 5 cps in 15 minutes. Average acceleration per impulse must be at least 8.8 g.

130 db over a frequency range from 40 to 10,000 Hz, duration 30 minutes.

Thanks to its accuracy, reliability and sturdiness, the Omega Speedmaster Professional not only survived all NASA lab tests, but continued to be an essential instrument in the exploration of Space for next decade. Yet, it is interesting to note that we see no mention of 'the shower test', 'Golf test' in NASA's exhaustive testing and it should be borne in mind that the watch is wound manually...

To wind yourself or get a winder?

You stand at the window and gaze upon the vista before you. The sun slowly awakening from it's slumber as it begins to spread its warm glow out over the city. Coffee aromas lift slowly in the atmosphere, mixing with the honey upon your toast on the table. Immersed in yourself, ignoring everything else around, you gently rotate the crown of your watch back and forth whilst thinking about the day ahead.

Some rituals transcend time and space, that quote could be from a classic, or could have been you this morning.... 
Every few weeks we get an email or a phone call from someone who wants to know a bit more about watchwinders and questions why we no longer stock them, so we thought we should explain our thoughts on these units with you, as some of you probably have questions about them too.

These winders sound good but why do I need one? 
Mechanical watches are superb devices that keep good time, but... as they are based on a clockwork mechanism if they are not wound the spring runs down and they stop. Watch manufacturers fixed this issue by developing watches that use a battery instead of a spring for storing their power and those watches will run from 12-60months depending brand/battery etc. This is great if your watch is Quartz, but mechanical watches need winding.

How do they work? 
A watch winder usually takes the form of an attractive mechanical machine and is used to keep automatic (self winding) watches wound and running while they are not being worn. The machine rotates the watch which is an action that mimics the way the watch is worn on a human wrist, thus allowing the rotor (a moving weight inside the watch that winds the spring on a self winding watch) to turn and wind the main spring.

Can it overwind my watch?
A winder cannot over wind an automatic watch.

Sounds good, but do I need one? 
Well, If you have more than one automatic watch then you probably have watches you are not wearing and their 'charge' is wearing down. If you leave most automatic watches off your wrist for 48hours then they will stop. It depends on how much the re-setting of the time and date bothers you.

How about Kinetic and manual wind watches?
Kinetic watches work with the same principal as automatic watches with a turning rotor to charge up a capacitor/battery so yes a watchwinder can keep those watches charged up. So far no one has produced a viable winder for manual wind watches.

Does using a winder wear parts of my watch?  
Short answer is yes. You wouldn't leave your car running in your garage and expect no wear on the moving parts of the engine.

Is it really a winder you need?
If you are finding that your watch is not holding its power overnight when off your wrist, then its not really a winder that you need, your watch needs a service. 

So it's just convenience then? 
Yes of course. Winders are cool and owning one is a nice part of the watch collecting hobby, but how hard is it to wind a watch and set the time/date? Lets face it you don't leave your car running in the garage overnight just so that it's warmed up and ready to go first thing every morning?

Is there an exception?
Exceptions always prove the rule, and highly complex perpetual calendar watches where calendar setting requires certain procedures, so manufacturers advise that they should always be run continuously. Frequent manual calendar setting on these watches can be problematical and may cause accidental damage so these watches often come with their own winders. However those watches must undergo a factory service every 4-5years because they are continuously run.

Why don't we carry them anymore?
We may be purists and watch geeks here at the shop, but we think that watches are more than just time telling devices. The fact you have a 300+ part miniature machine on your wrist is supercool in itself, and the chance to interact with it is in some ways a bit special. We firmly believe that there is enjoyment in winding your watch. There should be solace in the ritual in the same way owners of large clocks in big houses and the chosen men on ships were entrusted to look after the timepiece that the institution revolved around. Automatic movements have removed the daily manual winding ritual, why go further?