Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How to set a Cartier Chronoflex

***How to set a Cartier Chronoflex

The Cartier Chronoflex is a special watch that features a perpetual calendar. For those that don’t know, a perpetual calendar is a watch that automatically adjusts the date at the end of the month to account for the differing number of days in the months.

For example, on your average calendar watch, the watch doesn’t distinguish between months with 28, 29 and 30 days, it simply turns for the full 31 days. At the end of each month, the owner must manually change the date to account for the difference, if need be.

A watch with a perpetual calendar function, however, can account for this difference and advances the date automatically. It even accounts for leap years, so that the appropriate amount of days are ticked over in February.

Setting the perpetual calendar on the Cartier Chronoflex is somewhat tricky, but once it’s set, one needn’t worry about setting the date for as long as the battery lasts. The only thing that need be done is to add or subtract an hour each year to account for daylight savings.

Setting the chronoflex is a six step process (seven, if you also need to reset the chronograph hands). The process may sound daunting, but once it’s set, you’ll get years of enjoyment from your piece, knowing that it’s always right on time. We recommend you let your watchmaker do it for you though (and give him this guide, because he’ll be hard pressed to find anything online about it) as it involves opening up the caseback.

Though the Cartier Chronoflex doesn’t display what month or year it is, the internal memory needs to know these things in order to display the correct date.

Step #1 - entering initialisation mode:

  • Pull the crown into position 2. (i.e. all the way out.) 
  • Adjust the hour and minute hand so that they display a full hour. (i.e. the minute hand at 12, the hour hand on 1, 2, 3 etc.)
  • Press the bottom chronograph pusher 3 times followed by the top pusher 3 times. 
The watch should now be in initialisation mode.

Step #2 - Initialization of the Year:

You needn’t know the exact year for this step, but you need to know whether the current year is a leap year or what year it is in between one. (For example, 2016 is a leap year, 2017 the one after, 2020 being the next leap year.) The dial is divided into four segments divided by the numerals 12, 3, 6 and 9, with 12 being the leap year and 3 the year after, and so on.

  • Press the bottom pusher, which will move the seconds hand ¼ of a turn. 
  • Keep pressing until it’s positioned on the appropriate numeral. 
  • Press the top pusher to commit the year to memory. 
The watch should now be in the month setting phase.

Step #3 - Initialisation of the Month:

The 12 hour numerals represent the 12 months of the year.

  • Press the bottom pusher, which will move the seconds hand 1/12 of a turn. Keep pressing until it’s positioned on the appropriate numeral. 

  • Press the top pusher to commit the month to memory. 

The watch should now be in the date setting phase.

Step #4 - Initialisation of the Date:

The actual date subdial is not used in this step, nor will it change at this point. This step simply commits the correct date to the internal memory - the actual date displayed on the dial is changed at a later step. The first 31 minutes on the dial represent the days of the month. If you move the seconds hand past the 31st minute it’ll automatically return to the 1st minute. Each press of the bottom pusher will move the seconds hand along one minute.

  • Press the bottom pusher until the seconds hand is on the correct date. 
  • Press the top pusher to commit the date to memory. 
The watch should now be in the time setting phase.

Step #5 - Initialisation of the Hour:

In this step, the watch needs to know what hour it is on the date you set in the previous step. The first 23 minutes on the dial (12 o'clock being the 0’th hour) represent the 24 hours in a day.

  • Press the bottom pusher until it’s on the correct minute. 
  • Press the top pusher to commit the hour to memory. 
The initialisation step is now complete.

Step #6 - Correcting the Calendar:

If the date displayed on the dial is already correct, you can skip this step.

  • Open up the case back of the watch. 
  • Turn the small correction screw until the date displayed is correct. Each 90 degree turn advances the date hand one day. 
  • Replace the case back. 

Step #7 - Correcting Alignment of Chronograph Hands:

If the chronograph hands are already aligned ( all at 12 o’clock), you can skip this step. 

  • Pull the crown into the first position. (i.e. not all the way out.) 
  • Press and hold the bottom pusher 
  • While holding the bottom pusher, press the top pusher 3 times in succession. 
  • Press the bottom pusher until the chronograph hand is at 12 o’clock. 
  • Press the top pusher once to exit chronograph correction mode and enter the correction mode for the hour and minute counters. 
  • Press the bottom pusher to advance the counter hands until they’re both at 12 o’clock. (Maintaining pressure on the bottom pusher will cause the hands to advance rapidly.) 
  • Press the top pusher to exit the chronograph setting mode. 
  • Push the crown back in. 

See our pre-owned example for sale here:

Until next time,

Happy collecting,

The Importance of Servicing

One of the most amazing things about mechanical watches is that they can last forever. They can serve you for life and many owners develop an unbreakable bond with their timepieces. It’s why nothing else is passed down, and appreciated, through generations quite like a watch. Few other mechanical things (or non-mechanical for that matter) have such staying power. It’s part of the reason I love them so much. But to do so, they must be cared for and serviced every 4-6 years.

We thought we’d just quickly show you one of the things that can happen if watches are neglected.

Recently we had an Omega Seamaster GMT in the shop that would stop running after a couple of hours. The watch was keeping perfect time and yet something was draining its power.

When disassembling the piece, Nick noticed that one of the wheels in the gear train was locked tight. It had little to no play in it and was clearly (or at least part of) the reason for the power being drained.

We decided to place the plate with the offending jewel on the optical comparator that’s (still) sitting on our office floor to get a clear picture of what’s causing the wheel to lock up:

What you’re seeing here is the result of oil and dust combining over the years to form a dark thick paste, that has resulted in the third wheel being locked up. A service every 5 years or so is more than enough to stave off this issue.

After a thorough clean, the difference is huge:

Thankfully, this watch will survive unscathed, but a recurrence of this may cause the jewels to wear out which may result in further issues throughout the mechanism.

A mechanical watch is an ongoing investment; it doesn’t just end when you walk out of the boutique. But it’s an investment that’ll bring you much joy. It’s an investment that’ll bring joy to those around you. It’s an investment that brings you into a community of some of the most intelligent and passionate people around from whom you can learn a great deal. It’s worth it.

Happy collecting,

Leading the World

When, in 1986, mechanical engineer Josef Meissner decided that he wouldn’t be outsourcing or relocating the Schlenker business overseas, he was going against the popular trend. Josef was simply unimpressed, convinced his firm should stay in Germany. While countless other German precision engineering businesses went abroad, Schlenker invested and expanded their manufacturing facility and stayed at home.

Sadly, Josef passed away in 1999 but his wife Inge took over the management of the company, continuing Josef's legacy. Inge expanded the business further, and in 2006 their daughter Britta, a graduate engineer, joined the company. Today, thanks to the mother and daughter leadership, Schlenker is leading the world in precision work-holding technology.

"This is to inform you that 3.17 guide bush for your lathe will be supplied by Schlenker spannwerkzeuge."
This brief message was received yesterday from another German company who is building our lathe and who will soon provide training to Josh and Tyler. I didn't ask how much the bush is going to cost, or how many pieces are to be custom manufactured, or what the guide bush is made of. I am simply following instructions, blindly. What an exciting journey!

For those technically-minded subscribers: the guide bush is custom made and will accept a 316L steel bar of 3.17mm diameter. In other words, our lathe will handle 'raw' material which is already prefabricated to a tolerance of 10 microns and consequently, the guide bush has to be precisely of that size. If this bar is any thinner or thicker, or if the guide bush is out of tolerance, then the bar would either jam or will be too loose to turn.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Buy Back

The core message of the Bloomberg article on the Swiss watch industry was hardly news: Swiss export was declining in every month of 2016. However, what caught me by surprise was this bit: according to the Federation of Swiss Watch Industry, watch manufacturers have bought back USD $1.3 billion worth of stock from their authorized dealers! Clearly, the manufacturers would rather buy back the stock and fill in their storerooms than to tempt dealers to discount. This is a surprising new strategy that will prevent a price drop but it will also further reduce production output. Rest assured that whoever decided to scramble serial numbers (and prevent buyers finding out the manufacturing date) is now regarded as a true industry visionary.

On the contrary, readers’ feedback to Bloomberg's article was less amusing. In essence, general wisdom revolves around two points: a) luxury watches don't sell because millionaires are frugal and b) not only do smart millennials no longer need watches to tell the time, but they are averse of showing off their status by wearing expensive watches. As far as I am concerned, both explanations are equally inaccurate.

While some millionaires are indeed misers and penny-pinchers, the majority of them actually do enjoy their life. The overwhelming majority of millionaires travel business and first class, not economy. Many of them live in luxury homes and love their hobbies, and don't mind spending their hard-earned cash on the things that give them pleasure. However, what makes them stay millionaires is the ability to delay the purchase and completely ignore the 'urge for instant gratification'. Millionaires rarely buy goods at the retail price level and would never pay a premium. They are simply waiting for that very special deal - whether it is a house or their favourite stock, a car or a watch - and are ready to close the deal when it suits them. They also have that very special power: the ability to instantly recognize the true (intrinsic) value of a goods or service and know the difference between value and price.

The myth that youngsters are no longer interested in fine timepieces is equally pathetic. I am yet to see a person - of any age for that matter - who is blasé, indifferent or apathetic once they strap on their wrist a 'live' ticking marvel of mechanical engineering and learn about its history. "I LOVE it" is the most common reaction, and often, that very timepiece becomes the first of many in a journey of sophistication and appreciation. The reason why millennials prefer iPhones to Pateks is that most of them simply have no disposal income and have not yet been enlightened and exposed to the wonderful world of horology. Youngsters have their priorities, and rightly so; education, family, mortgages and travel should always have the priority over investing in depreciating (yet so enjoyable!) assets. I say: give them enough time, and most of them will eventually 'get there'.

I for one am waiting for the Swiss watch treasure chests to fill in, flow over, spill out and to reach the grey market, and then to reach us, the ordinary people.
The sooner the better!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Rebelling Against the Swissness

Nancy Holten, 42, from the Canton of Aargau is a vegan and an animal rights activist.

She has been living in Switzerland since she was 8 years old. She is fluent in Swiss German and her children are Swiss. But Nancy’s application for Swiss citizenship has been rejected more than once.

Her sin: annoying her fellow villagers with her activism. Things like looking out for the wellbeing of animals. Cows wearing heavy cow bells; piglets racing and hunting; annoying church bells. Her outspoken comments in the media have made her “unwanted in the community”, and consequently, the fellow villagers are ‘rejecting’ her naturalization.

A spokesman for the local Government puts it nicely: “…Mrs Holten is rebelling against traditional Swiss values within the village…”.

Ah, bloody rebels…

Monday, January 9, 2017

rebelde in action!

Thanks to comrade Jesper, owner of a rebelde Control Tower Mark II, for sending this awesome photo in of his rebelde altitude test.

The temperature was -17C and he's pointing at Grossglockner, the highest mountain in Austria at 3,798m. He was pleased to report there was no condensation or issues with performance.

Pleased as we are, we're but not a bit surprised. Thanks to its super robust case, the rebelde is one of those rare beasts capable of withstanding extreme temperature changes while remaining fully water resistant, even with the crown pulled out.

Some of you might remember a little experiment with the first assembled rebelde which was frozen for 3 hours, then defrosted, yet which didn't miss a beat. Quite frankly, that was the moment I knew we were onto something here at rebelde HQ.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Free Expertise: Fool's Gold

I am sure that every lawyer on my mailing list would agree with me that self-representation in Court is not the brightest idea. There is that old saying that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. If lawyers use lawyers, what chance would a person like me have to win a court case?

We take it easy on Friday - trying to close the busy and stressful week as peacefully as possible. And so do you. My intention is neither to upset you nor to lecture, but I do have to point out something that for most people is obvious - and yet, for some, not so.

If you have bought a watch from a private seller then you are defining yourself in a court of second-hand dealing. Basically you are saying to yourself - and to the seller - that you are confident enough to conduct the deal; that you are 100% sure that the watch is genuine and you have no doubts in regard to its provenance (and that you are not dealing in stolen goods).
Which is all fine, and yes, in the majority of private deals, the saving justifies the risk.

However, you can't have it both ways: if you are defending yourself in court, you can't just call a lawyer halfway through the trial and ask for a free tip. And if you decide to buy a watch on eBay or Chrono24 then please don't call me either. It's not that I don't want to help - I just can't. I cannot tell whether the watch is genuine or not based on a low-resolution picture.
And quite frankly, no one can.

Buying a year old TAG or Omega watch which comes with the box, papers, receipts and valuation documentation is not that difficult. Such transactions are often straight forward ones.
Parting with cash on a 10 year old watch which comes with no box or papers is a skill. Making the same decision on a 60 year old vintage Rolex is an art form and believe it or not, there are probably no more than a dozen people in Sydney whom you would trust to conduct a deal on your behalf. Vintage watch experts are hard to find!

In my early days I used to deal a bit with a well-known Sydney dealer who would call in from time to time to 'check if I have anything valuable'. It was always interesting to watch him inspecting my stock - to the fine detail. He would take his time with the loupe, inspecting the dial and hands, and even made me disassemble the mechanism just to be sure everything was genuine. He was not a watchmaker himself, so I could tell that his expertise was gained after many years of dealing in watches, trials and errors, and without doubt, he paid the price of self-education. To this day, I respect his attitude - and the way he bought watches taught me that being 'extra careful' is the way to go. I can proudly say that I have never bought a fake Rolex and I hope I'll never will.

When it comes to vintage watches like Patek, it is fair to say that I am only a half-an-expert. Firstly, the Australian Patek market is miniscule and there are simply not enough watches in circulation to learn the finesses of the brand. Secondly, the return on investment is not worth my trouble. I would rather buy 10 Breitling than one Patek. And quite frankly, I don't know of any dealer in Australia who can honestly claim that he is an authority on the subject. To be a true Patek dealer you would have to set up your shop in Tokyo or London, New York or Geneva.

Louis Breguet was the most famous watchmaker of all time. Actually, he was so successful that even during his life, there were 10 fake Breguets for each genuine piece. You can only imagine how difficult it is to authenticate Berguet timepieces now, 200 years after they were created.

Only experts who have devoted their entire life to work of Breguet and who have restored his timepieces could call themselves an authority on the subject – a handful of watchmakers, museum curators and horological historians. And you can be sure that none of them would offer their expert opinion free of charge, based on a poor quality image or an eBay listing.

There are lawyers and lawyers, dealers and dealers - and each to their own.
Horology is enjoyed best when you deal with experts you can trust. And often - especially to someone who is just discovering the beauty of watch ownership - buying a brand new piece from your favourite brand shop is the way to go.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


If you have recently subscribed to my mailing list then allow me to briefly outline what we do and why you should stay with us throughout 2017 and beyond.

The majority of our 7,000+ newsletter subscribers are watch enthusiasts and watch collectors. Some of them are relatively new to horology while others have been around long enough to pile up a decent watch collection.
But what truly matters is not how many watches you have - it is the knowledge of the watches and the excitement of finding that perfect one (or two) that will keep you excited.

My role here is a simple one: I look for that special piece, ensure that it the best example you and I can afford, confirm that it is in decent working order and genuine in all aspects - and then ensure you will receive it exactly as described, in the fastest and most secure time.
In other words - I work for you and get paid by you.

Of course, you may say that I am just another salesman who wants your money. But I have absolutely no doubt that you will soon discover that I am anything but yet another watch dealer.

It happens that I have been into watch repairing since I can remember. Actually, I am a third generation watchmaker, keeping the trade in my family. As if that is not enough, three years ago, to prove a point, I started my own watch brand; rebelde watch is designed and assembled in Sydney which is really something I am very proud of. So when you receive my newsletter, you know it comes from someone who knows his stuff: from a real watchmaker.

But enough about me. Let me go straight into something that is far more important.

What makes my business different than any competitors are these 3 important facts:

1. I only deal in watches I understand
There are countless brands and models out there, available on the preowned market. However, I almost exclusively deal in just a few brands and models. Watches like Rolex Submariner, GMT Master, Omega Moonwatch, Cartier Tank or Breitling Navitimers. These watches I understand. This is the stuff I've been handling for years and I know them inside out. I am not ashamed to admit that I really have no clue about watches like Rolex Skymaster, or anything about Hubolt. Or Oris. Even a brand like Panerai is still a mystery to me. I am completely clueless about many other watches, so I stick with stuff I know. So when you buy a watch form me, you can rest assured that you are dealing with an expert in his field.

2. I sell my own stock (no consignment)
Unlike many of my colleagues, I do not take the watches on consignment. Therefore while my inventory is much smaller than of my competitors, each and every watch is my own piece. I don't work for a third party, I am not paid a commission to sell something which is overpriced or junk, or something I don't believe in. If a particular watch is not good enough for a dealer to put in his own money, then you should stay away from such a piece yourself. It is not the size of a dealer’s inventory that matters - it is the quality and value for money of each individual watch that should matter to you.

3. I love watches which can be locked up for 10 years
When I buy a watch (which is a few times per day) the first question I ask myself is this: if I were to lock this watch up in a bank deposit box for 10 years, would this watch be still a good piece to have in 2027? Would I be able to sell it then, with some profit, and still beat inflation? If I drop dead tonight and my wife was left with my stock, would she be able to sell the entire stock to dealers and still make a small profit? If the answer to these questions is yes, only then am I ready to assess the watch further.

You don't have to be a genius to figure out that the Omega Moonwatch will remain a desirable piece for years to come. The claim to fame to be 'the first watch worn on the moon' is simply one no other competitor can make. Its mechanism - Calibre 1861 - is one of the best and most reliable chronographs, and they don't make it anymore! Likewise, a Rolex Submariner cannot be imitated by Omega, or Patek or any other brand. Ladies Cartier Tank has been around for almost 100 years, outlived all the fashion styles, wars and stock crashes. I would bet my last dollar that as long as Cartier is in the watch business, the Tank will remain their bestselling model.

Yes there are exceptions and trends, and yes, sometimes, I do change my mind on a certain piece, or make a mistake. But overall, if you follow my newsletter then most likely you will not only learn a thing or two about horology but you’ll also have some fun along the way. The worst that could happen is you end up buying a nice pre-loved watch from someone you trust.

Finally, here is the reason why I spend many hours every week composing and sending my newsletter: while I do this for living I clearly understand that for you, horology is only a hobby. I too have a hobby (amateur radio) but unlike you, there is not a single newsletter out there written by an amateur radio expert, which could entertain me and offer me an opportunity to buy that nice vintage radio I have always wanted and dreamed about. If there was, such a daily newsletter would brighten my day. And while I probably wouldn't spend a great deal of money, lusting over the photos and learning more would be the reward in itself. I hope my watch newsletter will do exactly the same for you.

Have a great 2017.
Nick Hacko

P.S. It would be completely misleading not to point out that our apprentice Tyler is a regular contributor to this newsletter with his unique, easily recognizable style. Laura, our head assistant does an excellent job of fixing my errors and is in charge of editing and writing watch descriptions. At times, other junior helpers (remember Ellie?) do chip in for which I remain grateful. Watch photos are taken by whoever is closest to the camera.