Monday, August 12, 2013


He arrived last Thursday, well dressed, wearing a $12,800 Rolex. "I would like to buy a Panerai Destro with 56 hours power reserve". Obviously money was not an issue and he appeared to be reasonably sure about his choice.

I sensed that something was unusual even before the transaction was completed: while I was doing my best to explain how to wind the watch and set the time he was taking photos of the watch with his mobile device, uploading them on what appeared to be a social networking website, counting the number of "likes".

Yesterday morning, precisely at 8:29 I received a distressed email from the new Panerai owner: the watch was dead. Attached, was a 27 seconds video clip which should have helped me pinpoint the problem and provide an instant solution.

The video was both graphic and deeply disturbing.

A few years ago we ran a small survey titled: "If you are to select one 'crown' reason for purchasing a high quality mechanical watch, what would that be?" To our surprise, the top answer was 'sophistication'.

But sophistication cannot be bought or inherited. It is the result of a painful effort which "machines" our entire being, turning us from the Neanderthal to the Homosapien in a matter of one short lifetime. And ironically, the bulk of machining is done by us.

A fine mechanical watch is foremost and above all a PRECISION INSTRUMENT. Not an accessory to enhance your beauty or device which just tells the time. And this simple statement is the foundation, a corner stone on which you will build your watch appreciation and, if you want it, sophistication.

To his credit, the owner of the Panerai allowed me to share the video publicly, for educational purpose.

While you may find the opening moments intense, I find the last 5 seconds the most challenging.

The bottom line: there is a good reason why watches come with an instruction manual. And paying attention to the 'how to use it' instructions at the time of purchase is absolutely essential.

*** Before we go any further: this is what we call sophistication

Can you imagine the quality of a tool capable of cutting into a solid block of steel with such power that it looks like it's cutting a block of cheddar cheese? Can you comprehend, just for a moment, the precision required to turn that block of steel into a V8 engine? The forces required to flick the 500kg piece, turn it around, maneuver it and then bring it to the exact position, to one hundredth of millimeter? The heat, the finishes, the stream of coolant? Countless hours to write the piece of software? And the years of designing, improvement and engineering which went into the building of the Matsuura Maxia MAM72-63V 5-axis CNC mill?

Believe it or not, the challenges in the manufacturing of YOUR wrist watches are no less dramatic. Respect!

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