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,

Nick

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.

rebelde titanium update II

Let’s start with the most commonly asked question: Why titanium? It is a long story which could be best told by watching this video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLLFNmTVmpQ

After watching you should have a fairly good idea on what is so special about this unique metal. Actually, if you skip this video and continue reading, then the rest of the project update will make very little sense.

***The timeline***

Last night I assembled the first 2 pieces of rebelde titanium. The watches were assembled from the prototype components. The case is slightly larger (45mm in diameter not including the crown) yet rebelde Ti is lighter than the current stainless steel model. After experimenting with various finishes we have settled for the high-gloss polished bezel, brush finished middle case, and gloss and sand blasted case back.

The rebelde Ti is not a copy of the stainless steel Control Tower model. Actually, not one casing component is interchangeable because we started the new design from scratch. Copying the existing model would be too easy and, in a way, like cheating our existing customers. Creating the new piece from scratch enables us to demonstrate maturity. In other words, we are trying to say, “Hey, we can do this. We can design a watch completely on our own terms, and rebelde is here to stay.” It also demonstrates a maturity in relation to our component manufacturer.

***Preliminary assessment***

To say that we are proud of coming so far is a bit of an understatement. Based on preliminary testings, the titanium case is fully waterproof and fully water resistant to 10 bar. There were no surprises in assembly, and each and every casing component fits as it should. It is important to remember that the case itself is assembled from the components manufactured by 11 individual makers, and getting them to work together in the first go is not a small achievement.

***The design***

At this stage, the case design has been completed and in the next few weeks we will start the design of the dial and hands. Taking into account the popularity of the Control Tower and Pilot’s dial, it is fair to say that there will be no drastic changes to the style at least for the first production run. We expect the dials and hands to be ready in about 4 months’ time. Also, rebelde Ti will have its own leather strap and matching titanium buckle.

***Production batch***

For 2015 we plan two production batches. The first batch, Ti45-A, will consist of 50 pieces and will utilise the Unitas manual wind movement with a very unique ‘checkered’ finish. We sourced 50 pieces of this unique movement in 2013. I have not seen another movement with a similar finish and I feel that our first titanium model deserves to be different. The Ti45-B batch will consist of 75 pieces. It will feature the Geneva stripe finish movement. The total production of 125 titanium pieces will stretch my assembling capabilities to the limit, but the first pieces should leave our workshop on June 1, with the 125th piece to be delivered around Christmas 2015.

***Price***

Assuming that the Australian dollar stays where it is, the price of the rebelde Ti is $3,000. It is fair to say that we had some heated discussion in regard to price, and my partners believe that this price is too low. However, I am of the opinion that the price is just right. In 2015 my goal for rebelde is to remain the smallest watch brand in the world, which means robust, reliable, repairable, but also exclusive, and affordable.

***Taking orders***

We have received a number of inquiries about rebelde Ti and while we are still 5 months away from delivery of the first piece, and while we still don’t have a dial design locked in, we should not test your patience any further. Should you wish to put your name down and reserve your piece, then please send us an email to order@rebelde.com.au with the subject line ‘Ti45’. As in the past, we will give you the option of choosing your serial number whenever that is possible. Please provide three choices in order of preference. The Ti45-A batch of 50 pieces is reserved to our existing rebelde comrades, and the Ti45-B batch of 75 pieces is open to both existing and new customers. No deposit is required; you will be invoiced once your rebelde is assembled.

As stated in the beginning of the report, we now have 2 titanium pieces at the workshop. They are fully functional, so we invite you to come and visit us, and check them out in person. Please call for an appointment.

If you’d like to do us a favour, then please visit our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/rebelde.watchmaker?ref=br_tf and of course www.rebelde.com.au. We don’t want you to stop enjoying your Swiss watch, and even if you are not going to buy a rebelde, we hope that you appreciate our project from the perspective of a humble Australian story. This is something worth sharing with your friends and fellow watch aficionados.

rebelde titanium project update

In one word: so far, so good.

On the left hand side of the picture below is the 3 piece blank titanium case which just came out of the first prototype run. On the right hand side is the same case after the first attempt to polish it. The bezel is gloss and the case is brush finished. Of course, a titanium alloy is not the kind of metal which can be easily polished to a mirror finish. This is precisely why every titanium watch manufacturer opts for a brush or matte finish.

I am still to make the final decision for which way rebelde Ti will go. Over the Christmas/New Year break I will also experiment with sandblasting the case. Sandblasted titanium looks magnificent. However, the sandblasted finish almost amplifies the presence of any scratch. What is important to me is post-sale service, which would be a nightmare with this kind of finish. With each repair/service, the case would have to be taken apart completely for sandblasting. Another problem is that the sandblasting equipment is large and could not fit in our city workshop, not to mention the dust generated in the process and the noise of the 5hp compressor.

What I’m really excited about is the fact that the case passed a strict water resistance test, which is certainly good news.

Once again, we are not taking any orders yet, and it will be at least a few weeks before we tell you more.

Stay tuned for more rebelde titanium news.

I would also like to say a special thank you to all of you who replied to yesterday’s offer. The response was truly overwhelming. Not only did we sell 6 rebelde pieces from the first and second batches in less than 45 minutes, but we received dozens and dozens of inquiries. We really appreciate your support and for those who are on the waiting list, we ask for your patience.

Visitors

Yesterday I had two young visitors - men in their early twenties.

They represented a business which 'specialized' in watches. Namely, consignments. In essence, they needed someone who could provide valuations for the watches they accept for sale, verifying that the watches are genuine.

"So you are licensed second hand dealers, right?" I asked. "Yes" said the one on the left. "No" said the one on the right. "And you collect, record and submit the details of the customers and of the watches to the Police, every day, as per your requirement as second hand dealers?

This time the man on the left said 'no' and the other one said 'yes'.

The situation was seriously comical. At least for me.

"We can pay you for your service" said both, in unison.

But dealing in second hand watches is not just about money. It has lot to do with responsibility, expertise, building your own reputation and above all - doing it right way. I tried to explain that having a second hand dealers licence is an absolute must. Licensing and record keeping is not optional. It is the way how the NSW Government keeps the bastards honest - me included.

Somehow, my words got lost in translation. Based on their facial expressions I think they thought I was not interested because I fear competition - or something along those lines.

I grew up in a city of 50,000. And the city was cursed with no less than 7 watchmakers, each of them trying his best to make an honest living, heavily competing with each other. Competition is good. Actually competition is the best thing that could ever happen to a watchmaker or a watch dealer. I wish there are not 3 but 30 dealers in Sydney. Thirty registered experts that is.

"So you can not do valuations?" asked the smart one.

Yes I can. But doing a valuation for the competition does not make sense.

When you pay money to watch Nadal playing Federer, you don't expect to see Novak Djokovic serving of behalf of Nadal. That just does not make sense. People buy watches from the Rolex Boutique because they love Rolex boutique. They buy watches from NH because they trust NH. And they will buy watches from YOU because they will trust you. It's simple as that.

Learn, struggle, sweat and make mistakes. Learn fast and become an expert. Life is not a Hollywood show where you can call in an expert or friend to verify and tell you how much it is worth and what to do. That is YOUR job. And whatever you do, and before you do it, register yourself properly.

They left empty-handed and disappointed. But they are young, and hopefully one day, they will get it.

Happy collecting,

Nick

A welcome respite

As you already know, nothing keeps us more motivated or on-track than your feedback. We have two to share today, from K55 and K28. The reason why we publish these comments is that they very aptly summarise the general feeling behind the watch.

Thank you for your on going support!

*** "I have had K55 for a week now and it is all I had hoped for.

Winding each morning, first thing out of bed, takes me back to the sixties of my youth and is still enjoyable: as is it’s time keeping qualities. While it is being wound allows one to look with pride at it without being seen to be gloating. I have no unique experience, job or address to tell about and the best I can do is quote the poet John Keats. “A thing of beauty is a joy forever: It’s loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.” Amen. Thank you very much for a lovely job.

Norv Simpson

PS As a collector of fountain pens I am definitely interested in the proposed Rebelde fountain pen."

"I have been meaning to write and express my admiration for your work since I received K28. I also tried without success to resist ordering a Rebelde pen, but could not. The 2 go very well together and are on my person every day. I cannot wait for a fountain pen as well to complete the collection!

The workmanship, design and execution on the Rebelde watch is outstanding. I have not looked at another watch since receiving it, which as my long suffering wife will tell you, is no mean feat! The ritual of winding the watch every morning is a calming one, I find myself deciding every day to "be a Rebelde".

The watch itself is at once stunning yet unobtrusive. It is always interesting to see who actually notices it. Very few people do, which is strange. Those that do notice it are blown away though, and I am sure you now have another couple of people on your waiting list because of that.

I love the retro look, I love the robust feel.

I would urge you to consider doing a women's line as I would love to buy one for my wife who insisted that I out my name down for one in spite of me owning 6 watches already (all of which are not getting a look-in for a wear).

Please keep up the good work!

Regards" - Pieter K. K28

The rise of the rebelde pen

Thanks to your feedback, we know that the rebelde pens are being put to good use. The images are from an architect and a pilot:

***Another happy customer***

A couple of weeks ago we had a visitor – a legal practitioner from the building across the road. He had heard about the rebelde pens and badly wanted to acquire one. He had a hard time hiding his excitement and an even harder time choosing between black or burgundy. Obviously it wasn't hard to close the deal, except for one minor detail: he was unable to produce $99 in cash, and he didn’t have his credit card handy.

“I’m going to fix you up tomorrow,” he said on his way out. We exchanged glances amongst us, and while I don’t allow store credit, I had no choice but to make an exception. Then he continued, “Actually, I’ll be away for a week, so I won’t be able to pay you tomorrow. However, please call me in a few days’ time to remind me in case I forget.”

The week passed quickly, but before we could send that reminder notice, he appeared again. “I just love the rebelde pen, and I would like to buy one more." While my policy was strictly one pen per customer, I made yet another exception. This time, however, I boldly asked that he pay for both pens without any delay. “Well, since I’m buying in bulk, I should expect a wholesale price, shouldn’t I?”

I pretended that I didn’t hear that insult and he mistook my kindness for weakness.

“Send me the bill,” were his last words and in a split second he left the office. Needless to say, I was pissed. This is simply not how I do business. Another week passed. It was now obvious to everyone in the office that two rebelde pens will most likely be written off as unrecovered debt. However, I did try one more time.

I sent my assistant to personally hand deliver a note to our neighbour, instructing him not to leave his office until he got paid. The note reads:

"I beg you sir to settle your account so I can pay my workers who laboured hard this week. (They have bills to pay and I am worried they may quit if unable to feed themselves.) Thank you kindly, Nick. Thank you again. = only $198"

However, he returned empty handed. While the note was read aloud, it produced nothing but light laughter. “Boy, I’m on my way out,” said the ‘customer’. He disappeared like a ghost behind the lift doors. To be continued...

The king is dead. Long live the king!

When we heard the news that the Omega Moonwatch 3570.50 has been discontinued, we couldn't believe it. It was too ridiculous to believe. Why would you discontinue your most iconic watch? So we had to have a chat with the Omega Boutique in Sydney and it turns out the 3570.50 is no longer in production.

However, the new Speedmaster Professional is now available and comes with a Ref. 311.30.42.30.01.005. Below are the photos of both Moonwatches.

So what is the difference? If you can't spot any, then you are almost right. It is basically the same watch with a different box and a new reference number. It also comes with a new price tag.

For the first time in many months, I am speechless.

Captain rebelde reporting to base

"Thought I would send you a note. Received my watch just over a week ago. Been wearing it every day. I love it, I have received several compliments on it. It has about 12,000 miles on it so far. The K37 flying a Boeing 737. Thanks again for making an excellent watch.

Cheers,

Bill T", Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Message from President of American Watch and Clock Institute

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

~John F. Kennedy

One day King Solomon summoned his goldsmith because he wanted a special ring made. Upon arrival, the goldsmith asked, “What can I do for you, old wise one?” The mighty king responded, “I want you to make me a grand ring, one like no one has ever seen before. Make it of the finest gold you can find. I want it engraved with the most prophetic statement you can think of.” What a charge to be given to the goldsmith. He thought, “Wow, what can I as a goldsmith do to honor such a mighty person as King Solomon?” He gave it a lot of thought. After hours of thinking, he came up with “THIS TOO SHALL PASS.”

In the late 1800s and early to mid-1900s, America was the premier watch manufacturer in the world. They made watches by the thousands from 1852 till 1957. American Waltham Watch Co. made 35 million watches from 1867 to 1956. Elgin produced 55 million. Hamilton, from 1893 to 1942, produced almost 4 million. After 1942, they changed their numbering system. They continued to make watches until 1969; their last model was the 992B. They stopped manufacturing at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and so ended the era of watch production in the US. “THIS TOO SHALL PASS.”

During the heyday of American watchmaking, the Swiss were getting on the bandwagon with watches whose names sounded American-made, such as Hampton Watch Company [not Hampden], Rockville Watch Co., H.W. Co., or W.W. Co. These fooled many customers into thinking they had bought an American watch. The Swiss started making better-quality pieces, and so they made an inroad into the US market. Bulova, Gruen, Omega, Font, Felsa, A. Schild, ETA, and many other brands and ebauches came into being during those years. Parts were readily available, both genuine and generic, from your local material houses. After World War II many people went to watchmaking School on the GI Bill. This produced a flood of watchmakers in the marketplace, and as a result, watchmakers cut their prices so drastically that it was hard to make a living.

In the 1960s the Accutron and the electric watch came out, and then the quartz watch made its debut. That was the end of watchmaking to many craftspeople, so they left the trade and sought other ways to make a living. Those who stayed with it found that the quartz watch needed repair, and there still was Uncle Joe who liked his watch that ticked, and the family heirloom that needed restoring. And they found that they could charge a fair price for their labor.

With the manufacture of so many cheap quartz watches, many people said it was the end of the mechanical watch. “THIS TOO HAS PASSED.” The mechanical watch has made a strong resurgence in the marketplace. Thus the need for a watchmaker who is qualified to work on these timepieces is stronger than ever. The parts issue will be with us until the demand from the customer is so loud that it starts to hurt the sale of watches. In time “THIS TOO SHALL COME TO PASS.”

This short overview demonstrates the challenges in the ever changing world of horology which we are all to face, watchmakers and collectors alike.

While our American colleagues are clearly disappointed with their loss in horological dominance, I doubt that they will ever rise back to their previous glory. The reason is not a lack of skill or enthusiasm, but the dramatic change in horology. It has been at almost a decade since we switched from mechanical timekeeping to smart phone clocks. To be dominant, you need to produce in volume. And that volume will come from Asia, not the US.

Of course, for watch owner, maker and repairer, a mechanical watch will remain a source of inspiration. We already see a number of micro watchmakers entering the market, especially in the US and Europe. Their challenge does not lie in their ability to capture market share, but to produce a quality watch. In any case, the next decade of horology will be the one to watch, and then, this too shall pass.

The Invisible Force

A couple of hours ago a parcel arrived at our workshop. It contained a rebelde watch from the very first batch, assembled on June 24 this year. The watch was performing fine until recently, when unexpectedly it started to gain 4 minutes per day. Obviously, everything else was put aside and I was extremely curious to find out what went wrong with this rebelde.

The watch was placed on the timing machine which detects the ‘heartbeat’ and measures its 3 vital parameters. It is an irreplaceable diagnostic tool, and yes, the watch was gaining a considerable amount of time and the amplitude was very low. To put it simply, it performed like a runner struggling to race while carrying 2 cement bags on his shoulders.

There are a number of causes which could translate to such a poor performance, but all of them point to the balance wheel assembly, which is the heart of the watch. A possible tangled hairspring, a cracked jewel, bent balance staff: all of them are shock-related issues.

I started disassembling the watch looking for an obvious mechanical problem, and to my surprise, I just couldn’t find any. Mechanically, the rebelde looked perfect.

And then something unexpected happened. After removing the hands, the hour and minute hands appeared to be stuck together held by an invisible force. The watch was possessed. MAGNETISM!

Magnetism is a nightmare for watchmakers because it is the only problem you cannot see. The magnetized hands was not the problem in itself, but rather a symptom that the entire watch had become magnetic. Thankfully, there is an easy remedy – it just needed to be passed through the demagnetizer and once again it was performing perfectly.

The entire repair process took 60 minutes, and half of that time was spent looking for my demagnetizer, a tool for which I rarely have a need. What we can learn from this is that like any mechanical device, watches are sensitive to strong magnetic fields. Sources of that field could be large speakers, power supplies, large TVs or MRI machines. No watch, regardless of brand, is immune to a magnetic field.

Of course while this is not a manufacturer’s problem, I was more than happy to restore the rebelde free of charge. My reward is this opportunity to talk about the problem and educate our customers – which is priceless. Rebelde: robust and reliable, like many. Repairable like no other.

Rebelde has done it again

A few weeks ago we shared with you a story about the tannery/leather manufacturer from Chicago, the Horween company. It has been producing the finest leather for four generations and it’s now one of the last remaining tanneries in the USA. As you know, we are just days away from the delivery of the first Rebelde Horween straps.

While we are waiting for the straps, we continue to explore other materials for Rebelde and have come across Horween horse leather.

“Genuine Horween Shell Cordovan is the art of tanning at its finest. More than just a color, it is a very specific leather, from a particular part of a horsehide. The irregular oval shaped shells are tanned, stuffed, shaved, and then polished – a process taking at least six months. Each shell is slowly steeped in gentle vegetable liquors. The shells are genuine hot stuffed then slicked onto glass frames to dry. Each shell is hand curried and shaved by highly skilled artisans to expose the shell. Dyes are hand rubbed on for a deep aniline finish. Finally, the shells are hand glazed to achieve the rich, glossy look and feel prized by fine craftsmen.”

It is not only the process of tanning the leather that is special - it’s the fact that a leather strap made from horse can last for many years. The watch strap can be buffed and re-stitched so it looks and feels better with age. At the moment we only have four black and three brown straps. This is all that we were able to secure so far.

This leather strap is for those Rebelde owners who want nothing but the best. The price is $199 with buckle included.

At the moment the strap only comes in a Long size to fit 19-22cm wrists. We expect another delivery in about three months but the quantity will always remain as a few pieces per delivery.

Once again, we are extremely proud that we can offer our Rebelde customers unparalleled horological experience in Australia.

New arrival: Rebelde NH BlueJ leather strap

CODE: BlueJ XL

Top layer: stone washed blue jeans

Underlay: genuine Italian leather, black, stamped

Stitching: 3-way

Buckle: Rebelde

Size: XL [to fit 19 to 22 cm wrist]

Width: 22mm, to fit Control Tower and Pilots model

Strap: $88

Buckle: $15

IN STOCK!

A Piece Of Fame

We have landed a "piece of fame" in the December Jetstar magazine edition. If any of you subscribers happen to be on a Jetstar flight, please grab a copy and send it to me. The magazines will be carefully rewrapped and sent as Christmas presents to my non English-speaking overseas relatives! However, please refrain from taking the emergency landing sheet as they are integral to flight safety.

No hard feelings, but we wasted more than two weeks exchanging endless emails and hours talking over the phone for a piece that can be best described as light flight entertainment. I even had to provide photos! I was not allowed to see the article before it went to press. Apparently that is a standard rule in journalism, which is fine with me but if that's the case, I'm not doing any more interviews ever.

After all, those who care already know what needs to be known about rebelde. And for the rest, they will find out once they are ready to find out.

Rebelde Buckles

The Rebelde buckles have arrived today. If you are in the CBD, bring in your Rebelde and we will fit your free buckle, free of charge! For interstate customers: you will receive your buckle in the mail- plus your second strap (if you have not received one at the time of sale). Of course, delivery will also be free of charge.

In case you want to buy a spare buckle, they are $15 each. You will have to call us with your credit card details and indicate whether you would prefer brush or gloss finish.

The buckles are solid 316L surgical grade stainless steel, nickel free.

Of course the blue protection tape is just there to protect it from scratching before/during installation.

Congratulations to our manufacturer who produced and delivered them in exactly 4 months' time as per our original schedule.

Visitors

Yesterday I had two young visitors - men in their early twenties.

They represented a business which 'specialized' in watches. Namely, consignments. In essence, they needed someone who could provide valuations for the watches they accept for sale, verifying that the watches are genuine.

"So you are licensed second hand dealers, right?" I asked. "Yes" said the one on the left. "No" said the one on the right. "And you collect, record and submit the details of the customers and of the watches to the Police, every day, as per your requirement as second hand dealers?

This time the man on the left said 'no' and the other one said 'yes'.

The situation was seriously comical. At least for me.

"We can pay you for your service" said both, in unison.

But dealing in second hand watches is not just about money. It has lot to do with responsibility, expertise, building your own reputation and above all - doing it right way. I tried to explain that having a second hand dealers licence is an absolute must. Licensing and record keeping is not optional. It is the way how the NSW Government keeps the bastards honest - me included.

Somehow, my words got lost in translation. Based on their facial expressions I think they thought I was not interested because I fear competition - or something along those lines.

I grew up in a city of 50,000. And the city was cursed with no less than 7 watchmakers, each of them trying his best to make an honest living, heavily competing with each other. Competition is good. Actually competition is the best thing that could ever happen to a watchmaker or a watch dealer. I wish there are not 3 but 30 dealers in Sydney. Thirty registered experts that is.

"So you can not do valuations?" asked the smart one.

Yes I can. But doing a valuation for the competition does not make sense.

When you pay money to watch Nadal playing Federer, you don't expect to see Novak Djokovic serving of behalf of Nadal. That just does not make sense. People buy watches from the Rolex Boutique because they love Rolex boutique. They buy watches from NH because they trust NH. And they will buy watches from YOU because they will trust you. It's simple as that.

Learn, struggle, sweat and make mistakes. Learn fast and become an expert. Life is not a Hollywood show where you can call in an expert or friend to verify and tell you how much it is worth and what to do. That is YOUR job. And whatever you do, and before you do it, register yourself properly.

They left empty-handed and disappointed. But they are young, and hopefully one day, they will get it.

Western Electric and Jaeger LeCoultre

Western Electric was the manufacturing arm for AT&T during the 1920s and 30s, producing some of the finest, most authentic sound gear for cinemas and recording use. W.E. was AT&T’s “Black op” equivalent for the CIA, they manned hundreds of top-graduate engineers in discrete teams with the goal to produce the highest quality audio reproduction systems. Their laboratories were said to be the most advanced in the world at that time. W.E.’s golden years, the same years that Henry Ford invented the production line and optical and disk tapes were becoming popularised in cinema audio, are widely acknowledged to be the peak in research and development for audio gear. Western Electric developed incredible horn-based drivers and low frequency bass drivers, but sadly the effort was not recognised until nearly 80 years later.

It is a sad story, one of massive waste and disappointment. To set the scene. Early cinemas had just experienced their first taste of music in film, and consumer demand for sound in motion pictures was very high. Everyone wanted to hear the latest jazz standard alongside the lead actor’s usually silent performance. Cinema owners jumped at the opportunity to advertise their theatres as being: “equipped in-exhaustible live band”, or “Phono-ready!” These early systems were developed by telephone engineers who used earpiece technologies that were enlarged. These systems had poor frequency response and lacked clarity, but to the casual cinema goer and business savvy theatre owner, that did not matter. They had SOUND!

The story develops. By 1926 the first Western Electric speaker systems, labelled as the Westrex (Western Electric Export), were released to the public. Years of research and development went into creating hi fidelity drivers, amplifiers and horns. Very high quality audio reproduction. And no one bought them.

The already existing systems in cinemas were performing to everyone’s expectations and the new, vastly improved, systems were far too expensive to be justifiable replacements. People were content with mediocrity, yet audio nirvana was just around the corner. However, W.E.’s speakers were not a complete failure. They released nearly 6 more publicly available systems, the most notable ones being the Mirrophonic 1, 2 and 3. By the mid 1940’s AT&T realised the massive research, development costs and low consumer expectations for audio systems meant that the market for hi-fidelity audio gear was not profitable. W.E. stopped producing the cinema systems on large scales by 1941 and stopped all audio production by the mid-1950s.

The crux. Audiophiles are a strange breed, not unlike watch collectors. Both are crazy, irrational creatures who thrive on scarcity and the idea of being unique. Both love the idea of being separate from the masses, having something no one else has. Both have a very keen eye in regards to quality and accuracy. The small production runs, combined with the fact that many systems were destroyed or irreversibly damaged over the decades, means that W.E. cinema speakers are extremely rare to the point where complete systems stretch far into the six figure range. The speakers are rare, unique, no one has them and are widely regarded to lie on top of the pile in terms of quality. In a paradoxical shift in supply and demand, rare objects like our aforementioned W.E. speakers or a vintage time-piece experience massive jumps in price because they are good. Simply good.

If there is one horological timepiece wherein we can draw a parallel to the W.E. story, it would the Atmos clock, engineered and developed by Jaeger Le Coultre.

The beauty of an Atmos clock is that it runs on minimal external energy input. Unlike many clocks, which need to be wound by hand, the Atmos clock uses the idea that changes in barometric pressure affect how much space a gas occupies. A gas is hermetically sealed in a chamber with a set of “bellows” on one end, and as it expands and contracts due to changes in ambient pressure, it winds a mainspring via a small mechanism. The real genius lies in how little energy the clock uses to operate. Instead of 18,000 or 28,800 beats per hour (normally associated with wrist watch mechanisms), the Atmos averages around 120 bph! It is an incredible feat of engineering to have such little energy consumption and such accurate time keeping.

The Atmos clock as we see it today is not quite the original design. A barometrically operated clock was developed by a Dutch inventor, Cornelis Drebel, in the early 1600s. The design developed over the next 300 years, ultimately culminating into a very close prototype to the clock we see today. Jean Leon Reutter, a Swiss engineer developed the first “Atmos” prototype, and started to commercially produce the mechanism under a French company, Compagnie Générale de Radio. Jaeger-LeCoultre overtook production on 27 July 1935. Simultaneously JLC developed a far more efficient design, using ethyl chloride as a substitute for mercury and ammonia vapour, which made the Atmos clock one of the finest horological instruments of its time.

Over the next five decades the Atmos clock was not a commercial success as simpler , more reliable mechanisms existed, and high quality, scientifically accurate devices were not necessarily desired. Much like the W.E. cinema speakers, the Atmos clock was by no means a failure (over 500,000 were manufactured), but its true brilliance and raw potential as an incredible instrument simply flew under the radar. People were content with mediocrity.

Of course both the cinema speakers and the Atmos have their draw-backs: they are both very difficult to service and maintain, they are very expensive and have been superseded by cheaper alternatives, yet for a true a collector and for someone who appreciates fine engineering and intricate mechanics, there is no substitute. We do not settle for mediocrity.

Water for Life

East Timor is one of the poorest countries in the Asian region, and Australia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world per capita. Among our closest neighbors, it goes without saying that East Timor deserves and needs our assistance. As you know, we are in a partnership with the Timor Leste Health Fund based in the University of Sydney, but we are still looking for another project.

Being a mechanically minded person, I was searching for a scheme that would incorporate some kind of engineering aspect to its plan. After doing some research, I found that ADRA, an International Humanitarian organisation, is working on a project called ‘Clean Water’.

Basically, they target increasing the fresh water supply to the East Timor communities by digging wells and installing hand pumps. The ADRA East Timor Team is young and enthusiastic, and I’m really in favor of what they do. I called ADRA’s head office in Dili and you can imagine my surprise when the project manager who answered my call turned out to be a young man called Ben from Adelaide. Naturally, we clicked straight away, and in a few weeks from now, Rebelde will have its own well and pump installed in Viqueque.

There are a number of challenges associated with this project, the main one being well-digging. Ben explains what it's all about:

“In regards to our proposed plan, we are planning on constructing our own low cost, locally made, and easily used drilling rig that can be used to drill bore wells from at least 15-25 meters deep. The benefit of this system is that we don't have to use the expensive drilling companies which charge from $5000 - $20000 for just one bore well. Also, community members can help in the process, and if the drill bits break, we can easily fix them, or make others as we've found a welding company that can make the necessary parts. In terms of the hand pump, casing and filter, we can purchase the widely used dragon hand pump. Just yesterday at my house there was no power for the day, so all the electric bore wells couldn't function, however, just down the road the people were using the dragon hand pump (or at least a similar model) manually so that they could wash and use the water for latrines, etc, another benefit. These are very easily repairable as the pump is above the ground level, so no need to spend lots of time pulling the whole thing out of the ground, etc, and the spare parts (rubber / leather and washers) used can be found almost anyway."

Ben also enclosed a few photos of the pumps ADRA installed just recently.

Geneva Waves

For the first time in many months, I am speechless. The Geneva Waves finish, also known as Côtes de Genève, is characterized by a series of arc-grained bars etched lightly onto a highly polished surface, creating a wave-like effect. This particular finish, which is purely for aesthetic purposes, was historically reserved only for the embellishment of high-grade movements.

The Whille Unitas movement that we use in the Rebelde watch is more of a robust and reliable workhorse than a show pony; our Swiss supplier is working hard to impress us. All the movements used so far have 9 stripes, with the central stripe being positioned over the middle (centre) minute wheel.

I also have a few more movements with 18 stripes. But it is not the number of stripes that matter: it is the overall precision of polishing and arc 'grain' that makes the finish attractive. A detail like this is what separates Rebelde from many other Swiss-made watches.

Like No Other

A truly unique artwork that caught our attention emerged at the Gallery of New South Wales' exhibition "European Prints and Drawings 1500-1900" a couple of weeks ago. It's hard to believe such a print was produced in 1649.

The title of the work is aptly named "Like no Other" which is a fantastic play on words, with a triple meaning. Firstly it depicts Jesus who was a man like no other. It was created by a technique never seen before so the artwork is also like no other. Finally the artist, Claude Mellan, believed that nobody would ever be able to recreate the masterpiece in the same style, making himself 'like no other'.

What does this have to do with watches? The answer is that here lies a piece of exceptional workmanship. It took Mellan years to make, and is more a thing of dedication and precision than creative freedom. Consisting of a single spiral varying in thickness to form the features of the print, parallels are drawn to the coiled "heart" of the mechanical watch. Thus of course any watch enthusiast would be attracted to a piece like this.

Irreducible Complexity

*** Word of thoughts ***

The concept of irreducible complexity is not a new one, but I can’t get enough of it.

What is it all about? In three words, it is: “brilliance of simplicity” or designing and manufacturing products which are just complex enough to do what they are engineered to do and nothing more than that.

Your Rebelde is a perfect example of a timepiece which consists of exactly as many components as it needs to have to function. If you take one component out of it, it will no longer become a watch. Of course you can add as many bells and whistles as you want, but the more you add the further you stray away from irreducible complexity.

Our life is cluttered with unwanted and unnecessary things.

Why is it that every new version of an email client comes with 50 new tabs and buttons that you don’t really want? Why does my microwave need to tell me the weather forecast for the next week? Why does my fridge need to be able to browse the web? Why is 4.0 better than 3.0?

The fact remains that my 1965 Olympia typewriter, with all its short-comings, still provides me with far greater pleasure than any Microsoft word processor.

Back to your Rebelde.

There is actually one component which can be removed, and that is the seconds hand. However this will come at a price. If I remove the seconds hand, you would no longer be able to read seconds.

So here is my question-If I remove the seconds hand would your Rebelde become less precise or less accurate?

We tackle the subject regarding precision and accuracy at our watch talk night nights, and the discussion ensues is always an interesting one.

So what is your answer? Without the seconds hand, have we lost precision or accuracy?

Unique Oysterquartz

Originally the first battery-operated Rolex watches issued before the 70s used the Beta 21 movement. Finding this unreliable and difficult to service, Rolex began to develop their own proprietary movement. After 5 years of research and development, Rolex issued one of the most "over-engineered" quartz movements ever to be made, the calibre 5053.

Quartz movements are affected greatly by shifts in temperature, which alter the oscillating frequency of the crystal. Rolex overcame this problem by introducing a thermistor to the circuit which detected the ambient temperature of the movement and its case, and altered the voltage supplied to the crystal. Furthermore, a series of sensors accommodated for gradual shifts in frequency response of the crystal over time, which greatly increased accuracy. Think of this movement as today's electric cars, the Tesla of watches.

The Oysterquartz we have for sale today is a strange beast. It is not only a gold and steel combination, (which at the time was significantly more expensive than the stainless steel version) but it is also fitted with a custom made sapphire-studded bezel. Now I need to state something obvious: the bezel was not made by Rolex. In general I don’t deal with watches which have non-Rolex components, but reverting this Oysterquartz into its original condition (finding original plain bezel) is just impossible.

See beyond expectation.

Rolex and speed never go together well

Is this the pride and joy of a Ducati or a Vespa rider? We have no idea but anyway, we wish him a speedy recovery. Whatever the story behind its sorry state, the owner must be kicking themselves. The crystal, bezel and entire middle case are a write-off, which is half of the watch.

Think of this whenever you find a scratch or tarnish on your beloved timepiece.

Our Bright Assistant

***The easiest job in the world has to be Mark’s new assignment.***

Believe it or not, we actually pay him to wear our Rebelde for six hours a day. Mark is our new assistant and Rebelde test driver. Welcome to our team, mate.

Most Traveled Watch

The most traveled watch in the world

Our Rebelde continues to jump across time zones. Check out the countries that it has dropped by lately, including some very exotic destinations. We even managed to plant our rebelde star on a local monument! Can you guess where this is? Please stay tuned, because we have many more photos to share with you.

Feel free to visit www.the-most-travelled-watch-in-the-world.com to monitor its journey!

Rebelde Lucky No 1

**And the winner is… Us! Guess what? Our charity auction was fantastic. A quick reminder: last week we auctioned one of our Rebelde watches with the intention to donate the entire proceeding to the East Timor Health Fund. Your generosity exceeded our highest expectations. Thank you. When we received an offer of $5,001 we were over the moon and we knew that we had made it. The only problem was that the second best offer was $5,000 and saying ‘no’ to an under-bidder would be mutually disappointing. Then I remembered that I had a Rebelde prototype in my safe to be released in March next year which I then offered to him. To cut a long story short, we ended up donating two watches for the amount of $10,001. I will soon be meeting with Professor McMinn from the University of Sydney to present him with a cheque.

So who is the winner? All of us. The new owners could not be happier, and loved the opportunity to be a part of an exciting and (generous) project. Members of Sydney University are currently working hard to rid the East Timorese of Elephantiasis, a shocking parasitic disease afflicting a large number of the population. The charity was set up to help distribute treatment provided by pharmaceutical companies and eradicate the disease in four years’ time. I am sure the donations will be put to good use. But more about that later. Right now I have attached a photo of one of the generous donors, Mr. Simon Lightbody, a new comrade Rebelde, proudly wearing his C01/75. And you would agree with me that his smile is priceless!

Most Expensive Watch Ever Sold

***The most expensive watch ever sold: Patek Philippe ‘Supercomplication’ auctioned for $24.4 million.

The watch has sold for a world record amount of $24.4 million, smashing the previous record that it held in 1999 when it was sold to Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Thani of the Qatari royal family, for $11 million.

The Henry Graves Supercomplication timepiece, made by Patek Philippe in 1933 is truly a one-of-a-kind. It boasts of 24 complications, including a celestial map of the New York sky, a ‘perpetual calendar’ that adjusts for month and year, a record of the phases of the moon, and an indication of sunrise and sunset. A feat of horological engineering, it is amazing that it was produced by hand over 80 years ago. It took the watchmaker 8 years to complete the job.

The watch was produced out of a friendly competition held by the prominent banker Henry Graves, who challenged James Ward Packard, the luxury automobile manufacturer, to build the most complicated watch possible. Patek, who constructed Grave’s timepiece, beat Packard, whose timepiece only had 10 complications – a nice attempt.

This is certainly good news for all Patek owners. So who is the mysterious buyer? We don’t know. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that like many of the previous record-holding Pateks, the watch may emerge on display in a Patek Philippe museum.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Impeccable Writing Instrument

LAST BUT NOT LEAST!
OUR BEAUTY!

As I type this, I am looking at the bunch of neatly aligned boxes on my desk. Each one contains a fine writing instrument: the new Rebelde fountain pen.

And make no mistake - my job as a salesperson is to sell them all.

Of course, I can easily get you excited by telling you that each fountain pen is entirely made of the finest Sterling silver. And that an 18K gold nib with Iridium tip, the heart of this fine pen, is made in Germany. Yes, it looks sleek and classy - but so does every fine fountain pen on the market. Surely, I can point out that I have no doubt the Rebelde fountain pen - like any other Rebelde 'product' - will exceed your highest expectations, but you already know that.

So let me get to the point.

Being a proud owner of this fountain pen has nothing to do with the actual pen itself. It is all about you and you only. The pen is the most powerful tool you will ever hold in your hand.

And the way you use it is the way of expressing who you really are.

This year, some of you will sign your first mortgage document or apply for a loan. You will put your signature on the dotted line. You will commit and make a decision that will affect you in the most profound and unpredictable way for years to come. Others, who have laboured hard for perhaps decades, will this yet heir mortgage discharge. As a businessman, you will have to sign a pile of documents and cheque every day, and each signature will be the sign of yet another commitment. A writer will compose a poem or a play. An architect will sketch his masterpiece on a napkin with this very Rebelde pen and history will be made. A judge will sign a court order and with one stroke; your or my life may change forever.

Of course, those who send and receive the most joy from the pen are those sign and mail out real "Happy birthday cards”.

Yes, I can sell you the pen, but the signature is yours. Please use it wisely, as only a true 'Rebelde' would.

Price: $299 each. ORDER YOURS TODAY - we only have LIMITED STOCK available. Shipping: $10.

To order: please send us an email with your delivery details and phone number to order@rebelde.com.au

For more information on Rebelde Products, click me: http://www.rebelde.com.au

Marking Instrument

Good NEWS! Finally the pens are in.

Carbon fiber is a material consisting of fibers 5–10 μm in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms.

To produce carbon fiber, the carbon atoms are bonded together in crystals that are more or less aligned parallel to the long axis of the fiber as the crystal alignment gives the fiber high strength-to-volume ratio (making it strong for its size). Several thousand carbon fibers are bundled together to form a tow, which may be used by itself or woven into a fabric.

The properties of carbon fibers, such as high stiffness, high tensile strength, low weight, high chemical resistance, high temperature tolerance and low thermal expansion, make them very popular in aerospace, civil engineering, military, and motorsports, along with other competition sports. However, they are relatively expensive when compared to similar fibers, such as glass fibers or plastic fibers.

CF Rebelde pen comes in burgundy or black color. Laser engraved, with our Rebelde 5-spoke star on the top, rhodium plated with original German SCHMIDT P900M refill (refill is inexpensive and available everywhere!).

Each pen comes with a pen case which is also stamped 'Rebelde*'

Price: $99 each. ORDER YOURS TODAY - we only have 50 pieces in each color in stock (IN STOCK). Shipping: $10.

To order: please send us an email with your delivery details and phone number to order@rebelde.com.au

For more information on carbon fiber pens please click on: rebelde.com.au/pen.html