Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017/2018



In front of me are three rebelde watches. Freshly assembled, fitted on raw handcrafted straps and ticking quietly, they mark a new chapter of the rebelde project. These very three watches are the final result of a lengthy design process and will be our core ‘product range’ for 2017-2018.

The hard work is done, and as I type this the last dials are being manufactured. All other components are already in stock with assembly to commence shortly. The only remaining thing to be done is this email. For some strange reason, I now have to sell these watches to you by telling you how great, robust and reliable they are, and to convince you that as Australian designed and assembled watches they present excellent value for money.

Unfortunately, I simply can’t. Any marketing attempt feels both unnecessary and meaningless because the watch should sell itself on its own merits. I can’t tell you why you should buy rebelde; this is for you to figure out. If you’re not attracted to the project and the watch, then no amount of words and photos will change your mind. You either want it or you don’t.

The first of three is the rebelde50. Designed in the style of a 1930’s pilots watch, it’s really our flagship model, a watch designed to buck the trend of planned obsolescence in modern products and one that will last for generations with our guarantee that we’ll be here to keep it running for at least 50 years (for free) – a commitment that shows just how serious we are about what we do. We’re not going anywhere.

The second piece is our rebelde pilot’s watch with a chocolate dial. It’s so fresh that we don’t even have a name for it. Fitted in a 44mm stainless steel case, it comes with a swiss rebelde signed movement. This is one of our most wanted models and the good news is that we’ll guarantee the price a price of $2500 for both 2017 and 2018. However, the production run will be smaller than the previous one, limited to 50 pieces only.

The third rebelde is a reissue of our very first Control Tower model featuring the maxi dial. It comes in a 44mm stainless steel case and has a slightly upgraded movement. Again, the price is locked in at $2500 and the production run over the next two years will be limited to 75 pieces.

I do apologise for the low quality images below, but that itself is intentional. If you like what you see on the photo below then you’ll really appreciate the watches in the flesh.

So where do we go from here? Well, we invite you to come visit us and check out the watches in person. If you’re ready to place an order straight away then email us your preferred serial number and we’ll do our best to accommodate any such request. The first pieces will leave the workshop in March 2017, and yes, there will be some wait time, because as with all previous rebelde’s, each and every piece is assembled by me alone.

To all rebelde comrades and comrades to be, I wish you all the very best for 2017 and I remain grateful and humbled by your continued support.


p.s. Nothing breaks my heart more than the news of a stolen rebelde. Over the weekend, rebelde TiB 11/75 has been stolen along with a number of other watches in Melbourne. Please keep an eye out for any rebelde advertised for sale privately and let us know if you hear anything.

Happy collecting,
Nick

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Tool of the Week - Blankenhorn Depth Gauge

***Tool of the Week 



Yesterday a piece of equipment that we’ve long been wanting finally arrived. Many of you are aware of and have seen the optical comparator that’s sitting on our office floor (we’re now close to having a stand for it so that it can be put in the factory), but as advanced as that machine is, it’s only one part of the measuring process. It can measure distances and angles on a 2D plane, but can’t measure depth. The new Blankenhorn Depth Gauge that arrived yesterday allows us to do just that.



The depth gauge is an instrument consisting of two components; a mechanical micrometre dial indicator and the highly polished granite base table which holds both the part and the indicator.

We spent a good part of yesterday testing the machine, measuring all sorts of parts and pieces (human hair included), and were thoroughly impressed by it. It’s easy to use and has both high precision and repeatability. What’s especially interesting is that it’s purely mechanic - like our watches - and yet is capable of micron-level precision greater than many more expensive digital means.


Prior to purchasing the Blankenhorn Depth Gauge, we had been searching for a similar piece for some time, and it was by sheer chance alone that Nick and Josh discovered the brand. When they were visiting the machining fair in Germany just two months ago, Blankenhorn’s small booth was tucked away to the left at the entrance to the fair. They almost walked right by them as did most attendees, but being in no rush and having endeavoured to check out every booth possible, they decided to walk on over.

They based their purchase on first impressions alone, the representatives of the company convincing them of the quality of their products and that several large watch manufacturers, IWC included, use them. Neither Nick or Josh had heard of the company before, nor could they verify the veracity of the representatives’ claims, but Nick decided to take a leap of faith and went ahead regardless.

And he’s glad he did. Our expectations were well and truly exceeded, the depth gauge not only measuring just as it should, but also being extremely well made; something that’s not always a given. It’s clearly built to last. German engineering at its best.

The calibration certificate that came with the gauge was issued from a third party AQRAT calibration laboratory, located in Esslingen in Germany, which is a nice touch. We’ll almost certainly need more measuring equipment as we move into part manufacturing, and we now know where we’ll be looking first.



Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Peak of Watchmaker Screw Manufacturing

***The Peak of Watchmaker Screw Manufacturing

The shiny tiny bit on the tip of my finger is a very special horological component. It is a screw. But what makes it special is the fact that it is one of the smallest screws in a watch mechanism. It comes from an Omega Flight Master manufactured in the 1970s and here is the curiosity: the screws you find in watches made today are not any better, shinier, more precise or even smaller. Watchmakers have been making such small screws for at least 200 years. And despite all the advances made in manufacturing technology, we reached the peak of screw making many decades ago.


Many visitors to our premises wonder why that big machine is sitting on the floor in the middle of the office. The answer: it’s awaiting its transfer to our newly built workshop. And what it does? Well the optical comparator allows us to see and measure the exact dimensions of even the smallest components like the above mentioned screw. And in laymen’s terms this screw is just over half a millimetre thick (or precisely, 600 microns), with the thread pitch of just 0.2mm. This 'piece of knowledge' is the very starting point in designing our own screws. Before we can draw and construct we must master the skill of taking precision measurements. And the beauty of our big machine is it can measure dimensions 10 times more precisely than we can even read.

The above screw as seen under the comparator. 




The CAD drawing of the same screw.

What an exciting journey!
 


Note from Laura, Nick's assistant: when I first saw the screw I didn’t even believe that it was a screw. It was explained to me that the purpose of it is to hold a tension spring attached to a barrel which also holds a small gear in a chrono-hour counter train. And here is the photo of the actual assembly showing two of those tiny screws doing their job. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

The most practical and elegant bezel locking device EVER: The Hublot Super Professional

***A True Bargain

After Hublot spent over 3 years developing the world’s first natural rubber watch strap, when it debuted at the 1980 Basel Watch Fair it didn’t attract a single customer. Rubber wasn’t cool; it didn’t seem elegant enough for the discerning collector who was ‘strapped up’ by leather during the week and a metal bracelet on the weekend. When considering just how functional a material rubber is, it seems rather ridiculous that it hadn’t caught on earlier. 
But once it finally did catch on it quickly proved a huge success. So successful in fact, that almost every other brand now emulates it - it just works.

Hublot has now become an industry behemoth owing to its clever utilisation of unique rubber straps with a range of different case materials. Nowadays, the cheapest Hublot will set you back around $15K.

The Hublot Super Professional that we’re highlighting today, first released in 2003, is a piece that fits into one of Hublot’s key transitional periods. The very next year Carl Crocco, the brand’s founder, named a new CEO who upended the company, moving on from its previous models to the bigger and louder (for lack of a better word) watches that we see today.

The Super Professional is as close to ‘vintage’ Hublots (if you’ll allow me to call a watch from the 1980’s vintage) as you’ll find. It’s a diver’s version of the very first, more dressier, Hublot (pictured below). It’s the perfect accompaniment for a person who leads an active life. 

Of Hublot’s current collection, only the ‘classic fusion’ range comes close in style, but they no longer feature the characteristic bezel locking system found on Hublot’s early offerings - a system that other brands could only wish they had!


Left: The very first Hublot watch, Right: The featured Hublot Super Professional

A shame, I think, as it both looks good and serves a very practical purpose; it’s a key part of what gives the watch its superb water resistance rating at over 450 meters (1500 feet).

On the Hublot watch we’re offering today, the strap is still full length and has never been adjusted. It has as a very supple, almost leathery feel to it. It’s not your average rubber strap. The unique properties of the natural rubber mean that it appears to regenerate on daily contact with the skin. As well, it’s far lighter than any other rubber strap I’ve encountered.

The MDM on the dial is another nice touch that further ties the Super Professional to its early history. Before Hublot became an entity in and of itself, Carlo Crocco formed a company known as MDM Geneva which was to produce a watch known as the ‘Hublot’ (French for porthole). The watch was so popular that the company eventually adopted the watch's namesake.

At $4399, this watch is an affordable entry into the Hublot brand that will stand out from the crowd. Considering that this watch was produced in 2003, it may very well be one of the last remaining Super Professional’s in mint condition. This is the type of watch that we’ll never encounter again.
 

For more information, please see www.clockmaker.com.au/w/k3708.html
Happy collecting,
Nick