Thursday, December 16, 2010

BREITLING: The Spare Link Saga

A couple of weeks ago, a lovely young couple was in our shop, looking at a fine Breitling Navitimer watch for the gentleman. After seeing the watch and with some careful consideration, they decided that it was precisely the watch they were after and that they were ready to purchase it – but just one thing stood in their path… the bracelet was a bit too small, and would require two extra links to comfortably fit on his wrist. Unfortunately we did not have any spare links for this specific watch, but told them that we would immediately contact DKSH, the authorised Breitling Service Centre, to source the links. The couple was seemed disappointed that they couldn’t take the watch home that day, but would wait until we had gotten the appropriate links.

We phoned DKSH that day, and they requested that we submit a fax specifying the desired part. We did so, and followed up after a couple of days to verify that they had received our request. DKSH informed us that the man responsible for watch parts was out of the office, but they would get back to us. Finally, we received a phone call from someone at DKSH asking for some additional information, a bracelet number, which we provided straight away over the phone. This gave us some (false) hope that they were actively trying to locate the links.

After several days of silence, we called back, and were told that despite giving the bracelet number, the man we really needed to talk to was out sick. Calling back four days later, the man was still sick! By then, it had been more than a week since our original request. Again after a couple of days, we phoned and were finally able to talk to the repairman who handles spare parts. He informed us that he had just gotten back to work after being ill; he had received our parts request, but it was in a large stack of other requests, and it would be a few days before he would be able to get back to us. After getting in touch with the relevant person at DKSH, we gave him a bit more time. A week passed and no response, so we called back. We were able to speak with the service manager, but unfortunately did not have any luck. She informed us that the repairman was extremely busy with watch repairs, and most likely would not be able to get to our spare links request until after the holidays. Despite being the service manager, she nor anyone else at the company, is able to locate and distribute spare parts except for the repairman who remains flat out or just plain “out”.

Before this entire debacle, we knew that DKSH was notoriously difficult to deal with, but their inability to supply two spare links has brought it to a new level. We are fighting ignorance; we are fighting continually arrogant people with no sense of customer service.

The tragedy of this story is that there is no ending. Three weeks has passed, and we are still unable to source the two necessary spare links to give the Breitling Navitimer a new home and we have absolutely no idea if the links are available, how much they cost or how long it would take to get them delivered.
Honestly, I doubt that there is a single person reading this who believes that answering a simple spare link request should take more than a fax and follow-up call. Neither does anyone believe that drilling a hole in a piece of stainless steel is rocket science; these links are not hand-carved out of some rare extraterrestrial metal, they simply come out of a link-pooping machine!

A loss of sale is really something we can live with, but such a blatant attack on our intelligence and the intelligence of our customers is not something we are going to put up with any more.

Update December 23rd .
Another week passes, and we contact DKSH Breitling Service Centre once again enquiring as to current status of our request. Unfortunately there is no progress as they’re closing soon and reopening on January 4th. We are told that they will deal with our enquiry in due time (?)...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

ROLEX: Don't mess with us Mr. Tran!

"Can we speak with Mr. Tran?"
"Tran speaking!"
"Rolex here. You owe us $2.2 million".

7,000 fake Rolex watches are steamrolled in Philly

(AP) – Apr 27, 2010

PHILADELPHIA — A steamroller has crushed about 7,000 fake Rolex watches in Philadelphia under the orders of federal authorities seeking to deter would-be counterfeiters. Customs officials staged the destruction Monday to highlight law enforcement's role in protecting intellectual property rights. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say the watches were seized from Binh Cam Tran, who pleaded guilty last year to charges including trafficking in counterfeit goods.

Tran is serving six years in federal prison. He has been ordered to pay more than $2.2 million to the Rolex Co. Authorities say Tran fabricated hundreds of thousands of fake Rolex watches in his home near Philadelphia. Officials seized about 24,000 counterfeit watches and enough parts to create 1 million more.

Time to move on

After nearly 35 year behind watch repair bench, I think I am ready for downsizing. Servicing 'all brands, all makes, all models' is no longer practically possible. Swiss manufacturers refuse to supply spare parts to independent watchmakers and with no spare parts there is very little I can do to fix your timepiece.
I've started apprenticeship in my fathers workshop at age of 12. I clearly remember times when we could get almost any spare part shipped in no time. Swiss spare parts dealers were bending backwards to get our business!

Unfortunately for watchmakers, time has changed. Small, independent, highly skilled and experienced watchmakers are now seen as 'pain in bum'. Big brands wants all the repair work done 'in house' which allows them to act like any other monopoly. They charge what they want, they give no options.

In all fairness, if you are perfectionist then you should have nothing to worry about. Your watch will be serviced/repaired/restored to factory-new condition by it's Swiss maker. Yes, such service is expensive and will take for ever but quite frankly no independent watchmaker can provide service that can come even close to factory standard.

Since I have run out of most spare parts for most brands (except for Rolex for which I am still able to source spares from overseas supplier) as of this month I am providing repair service for Rolex watches only. More precisely for makes and models manufactured between 1960 and 2005. This includes all Datejust, Date, Precision, President, Submariner, GMT, Explorer and other sports and standard models. The only exception is Rolex Daytona, Tudor and OysterQuartz line.

Focusing on one brand will allow better turnaround time and hopefully better overall service. It will allow me also to step away from work bench and spend more time sourcing, buying and selling other fine timepieces and to finally commence restoration of vintage Rolex watches from my own collection. It's time to move forward!

Who the *#$% is Jackson Pollock ?

Before you jump on me for using a profane language, let me clear that above sentence is actually the original movie title. But more about that later.

Suppose you have choice of buying a 1 year old Rolex 16613 and the same model watch, but 3 years old. Which one would you go for? Well this is no brainier; while the younger watch is an obvious choice, you would make the right decision only in case that said younger watch is also in significantly better overall condition.

The key word here is the overall condition.

Unfortunately with vintage watches, overall condition is less important. The predominant factor is ORIGINALITY. You don't really want a watch in your collection which is a marriage of bits and pieces. Such watch may keep time, but the time keeping in vintage watches is even less important than overall condition.

Lets expand this bit further. You are a keen collector, knowledgeable buyer, ready to part with rather large sum of cash on an extremely rare piece. What would be the predominant factor that you'll be looking for in a watch now?
The overall condition? Originality?
Price? Resale value? Investment potential?

All of above, of course, but to a degree.

To tell you what the key point is would be too easy. And if I do so now, you will have no reason to watch one of the best documentary movies I've ever watched
on this topic!

The movie is called "Who the *#$% is Jackson Pollock".
It is available at your local video store.
Rent it tonight and watch it because the key point or moral of the story is so brilliantly presented - it will change your understanding of rare, valuable and unique objects (and the way they are they traded) forever.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Aussie websites cash in on counterfeits

[Jeweller Magazine, July 2010]

Jeweller has discovered that Australian-based websites are openly selling counterfeit watches and jewellery from well-known brands under the guise of “replicas”.

Investigations by Jeweller have established that a local website – www.***Replica*** – sells exact copies of well-known brands including Tag Heuer, Breitling, Omega and Rolex.

The website is registered to a company called Brantley Pty Ltd and Australian Securities and Investments Commission records show the company as having two, Sri Lankan-born, directors; Kristiaan Martenstyn and Peduru Jayalath.

The registered address of Melbourne-based Brantley Pty Ltd is Unit 1508, 18 Waterview Walk, Docklands and the website lists a telephone number as +61 414 015 405 and makes the following claims; “We are Australia’s #1 Replica Watch Retailer, 1 Year FULL Replacement Warranty, 7 Day Risk-Free Money-Back Guarantee.”

Last week Jeweller contacted Martenstyn, who confirmed that the company had been operating for two years but claimed his actions did not breach any Australian or international laws. He went as far as describing his business as operating in a necessary industry because consumers demand the product.

“I wouldn’t call it counterfeiting,” Martenstyn said, adding that his products were “high-end replicas” produced in Geneva, Switzerland. Interestingly states, “We say NO to dodgy ‘fakes’ from Asia.”

According to intellectual property expert Lisa Egan, a senior associate at law firm Middletons, assessing whether product is counterfeit is quite straight-forward.

“If a business is using brand names without any authority [form the brand owner] then it’s likely to be a trademark infringement,” she said, adding that selling exact copies could also be a “design infringement”.

Egan confirmed that the term “replica” was incorrect – copies carrying a brand’s logo are classified as “counterfeit” goods.

Martenstyn justified his operation by claiming the website “helps” the watch brands.

“People who buy from us, they are not going to buy the original, so it doesn’t directly affect the trademark owners. In fact, it helps them,” he said.

Egan said the only reason the site could remain online was if none of the affected brands had taken action.

“It’s up to the owners of the brands to take action against it and have that content removed,” she said.

Martenstyn claimed he had never been contacted by any of the brands featured on his website.

“We’ve never actually had any issues at all. If we were to have any sort of issues with the trademark holders we are happy to work to meet a resolution,” he said.

The blatant nature of such operations raises questions about why the websites are allowed to remain online in Australia, given the potential damage caused to the brands’ reputation and integrity.

Interestingly, Rolex managing director Richard De Leyser said he was aware of the website.

He refused to comment on the matter any further, but said: “We take any infringement of our copyright very seriously.”

Martenstyn said he would continue operating the website for as long as his business was profitable.

“The reason we are in business is because consumers demand the products,” he said, adding: “The day that consumers no longer wish to purchase such goods, that’s when we wouldn’t supply them any longer.”

Rather than taking a low-key approach, further investigations reveal the company appears to be ramping up its operations, having recently advertised for two customer service representatives.

“We are looking for two new members to join our dedicated and friendly team that specialises in supplying high-end luxury goods such as jewellery, timepieces and paintings,” the online advertisement reads.

Egan said there is a number of steps companies can take to protect their intellectual property from online counterfeiters.

“The first port of call is to send a letter to the operator of the website,” she said, adding that Google can also be contacted to have a website excluded from search results.

“If that’s not dealt with appropriately then court proceedings could be issued.”

Egan said responsibility lies with the brands to protect their own copyright.

“I think brands need to be really vigilant in monitoring these websites. It’s really about the brands taking a proactive stance and making sure they’ve got their brand appropriately protected,” she said.

Martenstyn stressed that he had not been contacted by any of the brand owners about his website and added, in an interesting twist of logic, that he believes that his business activity is legal because no one had contacted him to say it wasn’t.

He added that his legal advice is that he is not in breach of the law.

In addition, a disclaimer on states that the brands “cannot prosecute any person(s) affiliated with this website”, citing code 431.322.12 of the Internet Privacy Act.

Many more online stores display similar disclaimers, all citing code 431.322.12 of the Internet Privacy Act.

Another Australian website, which offers Tiffany and Gucci labelled jewellery cites the same code, stating: “Any person representing or formally employed by any of the brands offered cannot enter this website. … If you enter this site and do not agree to these terms you are in violation of code 431.322.12 of the Internet Privacy Act.”

Apart from the fact that a broad disclaimer like that would not be accepted by a court, Jeweller’s research could find no evidence of the existence of the, so-called, Internet Privacy Act. It appears to be a disclaimer used by many counterfeit websites in an attempt to deter legal action.

Jeweller emailed Martenstyn asking, “The Terms & Conditions section of your website refers to the "Internet Privacy Act". We can find no such Act, can you direct us to it?”

Martenstyn was also asked whether he agreed that the product his business sold was counterfeit given that it carries the logos of well-known brands.
At the time of publication Martenstyn had not replied.

Legal advice obtained by Jeweller indicates there is no law that prohibits legal action against a website. Any information obtained from these sites may be used by the affected companies in court proceedings."

Epilogue: July 6, 2010.

After reading the above article I was literally in an overwhelming state of disbelief and shock.
Is it really possible that someone based in Australia would display such
arrogant disrespect for Australian Commercial Law?

Or could this be just a late April fools day joke?

So I've decided to ring the above mentioned mobile phone number in order to
find out what is really going on here.

- Hi, my name is Nicholas Hacko. I am a watch dealer.
I've just visited your website and wonder if you also wholesale watches?
- Hi. Well I am just a watch dispatch person you need to talk to my boss.
- That's fine. However, it is important that before we enter into any business transaction, I want to make sure I am not breaking any laws...
- What do you mean?
- Well you guys do sell fake watches, right?
- No, not fakes. We sell replicas.
- Replicas, fakes, same thing...
- No, no. Our replicas are NOT fakes!
- Oh sorry, my misunderstanding. So you actually do sell genuine Rolex watches?
- No, no. You don't understand the difference with fake and replica...
- Huh?
- ... not genuine Rolex, just Rolex replica. But definitely not the FAKE Rolex.
- OK I see. You sell REPLICA Rolex!
- That's exactly right. Genuine replicas which look identical to real Rolexes.
- Very good. So would you be able to accept payments in replica money?
- What do you mean, I don't understand???
- You know, the replica money. Money which looks identical to real money but it is just replica. Like the stuff I can print on my printer...
- [laughter...] I don't know, I am just a dispatch worker. You really need
to talk to my boss [more laughter...]
- OK - let's say that I do come into agreement with your boss and he does accept my replica money for his replica watches - which sounds like a perfectly fair deal to me - would you accept that replica money as your wages?
- [upset voice] Are you serious??? I don't work for fake money!!
- No, no, no - it is not FAKE money, it is just REPLICA money, mate ...
- Sir, I am busy, if you have any more questions please send us an email.
Our email address is .
Thanks for calling. [phone hangs up]

So there you go. I never thought that my newsletter would provide
a link to REPLICA ROLEX website, but this bunch of clown dummies
actually deserve as much publicity as we can offer.

Is there a lawyer in the house? Can we get free legal opinion on this one please :-) ?
(What a heck - we'll even take REPLICA LEGAL opinion from FAKE lawyers)

Happy collecting,

Nick Hacko

Bad mathematics

Gold stolen from watchmaker Rolex
AFP June 04, 2010

LUXURY Swiss watchmaker Rolex has been robbed of more than 15kg of gold - worth almost E15 million (US$21.83 million) - and a foundry worker has been taken into custody, a judicial official said overnight.

Rolex, whose status-symbol wristwatches cost several thousand dollars apiece, says the employee, a temp, admitted stealing 5kg of gold from the plant in Plan-les-Ouates, the official said.

The man's lawyer, Francois Canonica, said he has been detained and charged with theft and breach of trust, the ATS news agency reported.

"Whether he should be blamed for the extra 10 kilos remains an open question," said the lawyer. "It appears that the security system put in place by Rolex - supposing it has one - has shown its limitations," Mr Canonica said.

Oh boy... As they say, never let the truth spoil a perfectly good story.

Unfortunately this time the AFP got it wrong because 15Kg of gold is *not* worth 21 million dollars but only USD$ 576.000.

One can only hope that Swiss judge will do his maths before sentencing the poor idiot.

Less than perfect ? Fantastic!!!

While taking photos of K1964 Omega Moon watch, I've noticed something really unusual: there was something above the letters TER (speedmasTER). It looked like bit of dirt but under magnification it was clear that this was a 'metal left over' of casting / stamping during the manufacturing process!

Such imperfections are usually detected in foundry, or during assembly, engraving, polishing, or at least during final QC. Imperfect watch cases rarely appear on the market.

Strangely enough, this one slept through the net and neither the salesman or previous owner have noticed it.

Great conversation piece !

Every passion has its Holy Grail- have we found ours?

Every passion has its Holy Grail, and Rolex Daytona book collecting is no exception.

Yes, one can enter the Daytona book market for as little as $35.
And very solid subject-related book sells for $120.
But a hard-core Daytona collector serious about his investment would not settle for nothing less than $700 Bible called Rolex Chronographs by Pucci Papaleo editore.

Now, if you feel that $700 for a book is heaps of money then please keep reading.

The above mentioned Pucci Papaleo, self confessed "collector, devotee, historian, but above all willing victim of love for beautiful timepieces" is now ready to take you to the next level of book enjoyment.

His upcoming book "Ultimate Rolex Daytona" is volume of epic proportions:
the 12 KG book is "work of infinite complexity with the very best, and only the very best (Daytonas) chosen to portray every requirement of each aspect...with the one objective of crating something not only unique but above all undeniably beautiful".

The book is limited edition, 600 pieces typographically printed in seven colors
and high definition.
Papaleo hired highly specialized architectural photographers who took photographs
on optical bench. The end result is masterpiece with finest rendering of effects in
details, hues and textures.

So what is the book like this one worth to you? $1000? $3000 ? Obviously we are talking serious money here but if you want to reserve your copy then be prepared to part with solid $7,300 AUD (plus postage).

Again, if you think than only a madman would spend over $7K on this book then you are new to watches and watch collecting:
few weeks ago, the very first copy of Papaleo's book was sold at Christi's for AUD$ 44,065. Yes, it was a charity auction, but that hardly makes any difference.

[ Just in case that you are tempted to place an order for Ultimate Rolex Daytona make sure to talk to me first. If we can order few pieces as combine order, surely Papaleo will find bit of room to move on price :-) ]

And if you don't want to go above $35 then get yourself Patrizzi's Pocket Expert Daytona form my website
This one is very popular and selling fast, so you better be quick!

Private stock: bruised, battered and beaten

Last week I had request for one particular vintage Rolex Submariner.
Since private stock rarely sees daylight this was great opportunity
for a photo session. I ended up spending 3 days
pulling apart a number of Submariners and in the process I took over 400 photos :-)

Time well spent - I now have enough material
for a PowerPoint presentation called "Collecting vintage Rolex sport watches"
which I intend to present this month.
This 'watch talk' event is suited for both novice and advanced collectors,
especially those interested in Rolex Submariners.
Stay tuned for more! Oh yes - the new wall projector is on it's way
so expect nothing less than a full IMAX experience :-)

For a quick preview fell free to browse the private stock listed at

While I don't regard myself as a watch collector per se,
I don't mind hanging onto a few pieces.
This particular lot was built up over a period of 12 years
and consist predominantly of "virgin" (unrestored) Submariners.
A word of warning: if you are not familiar with vintage watches
be prepared for shock and horror!
Although some pieces are in top collector's condition, most
other Subs are purposely left unrestored, scratched and dirty.
Yes - some of them still contain dirt and soil - in the very same condition
I'd found them! Which is exactly how mad collectors want them.

But we'll talk more about that on the night.

(You may wish to bookmark the above link because I do intend to
list few more in near future).

Rolex dials: fancy and exotic

From the mid 1980s to the late 1990s Rolex was heavily involved in production of
very special, exotic watch dials. Those dials were mainly fitted to Date and Datejust
models. Precious and semi precious stones like sugilite, rose jasper, blue and green jadeite, pink opal, coral and almost every colour of shell were used to turn conservative looking Rolex watches into unique and distinctive timepieces.
My favorite exotic dial is blue sodalite which was used in production of gent's watches, including Daytona models.
Pictured here is a slab of Bolivian sodalite:

...and an 18K WG Daytona with sodalite diamond dial
on blue alligator strap:

Unfortunately fancy dial Rolex watches are not common and they rarely appear on pre-loved market.
The k1893 on today's offer is fitted with rare Arabia-shell dial. Great watch in 35mm unisex size.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Things that make you tick

Last week I've sold an Omega Seamaster chronograph watch to a customer in Melbourne.
Before shipping I've checked the watch for a timekeeping, as I routinely do.
Seamaster chronograph is based on Valjoux 7750 movement which is
fairly rugged and reliable chrono. The watch kept almost perfect time: +1 sec/day
with 'healthy' amplitude of 330 degrees and zero beat error.
All good!

The watch was double boxed and shipped to Melbourne with overnight

Following day I got an email from the new owner.
He was very unhappy to say at least; his new Seamaster was gaining
two minutes per hour!

Obviously, he had every right to feel 'cheated'.

And so did I ! The reason why a mechanical watch will gain time like crazy
is always of mechanical nature, and most common reason of all
is mechanical shock. Whether the watch was dropped by the new owner or poorly handed
by courier it was at that point irrelevant.
I suggested for watch to be returned for further inspection
and made an offer to repair it free of charge.
Sometime it is much easier to accept blame
then to argue (yes I am happily married man, I've learned this trick 20+ years ago).

So the poor bugger (Seamaster) arrived today.

As per my expectation, the reason for excessive gain was
neither mysterious nor difficult one to rectify. Nuisance, nevertheless.
(Fellow watchmakers reading this email have probably guessed what was the problem).

Due to sudden shock, first coil of hairspring was pushed underneath the stud. As a result, hair spring
was physically shortened. The rate of oscillation become much higher
and watch was gaining time. I've 'painted' that first coil in red so you can see
what I am talking about. Photo below is showing enlarged balance wheel assembly.

All that was needed to restore correct oscillating frequency was to
unjam that first coil stacked underneath the stud.
Two seconds repair job!
Below, I've painted this first tun in green so you can compare it's
"before and after" position relative to stud pin. Note the even spacing between
adjoining coils - approx. 2/10 of millimeter!

Bottom line: Valoujx 7750 is fine chrono movement
designed to withstand fair amount of 'bashing'. But it is still
a mechanical watch movement and as such definitely not shockproof.
Like with any other mechanical device, things sometimes do go wrong
and small imperfection can cause substantial malfunction.
If you are new to watches then I suggest to invest
bit of time learning about maintenance, servicing and performance
of mechanical timepieces. Such investment will pay off big time in the long run.

All Sydney watchmakers I know are bit 'coockoo' - they have spent years
learning and practicing watch trade, dealing with both watches and customers.
Reputable ones are stubborn and grumpy but very proud, trustworthy and
honest people. They know their stuff inside out - but believe it or not - have absolutely no control over
Australia Post Express overnight service to Melbourne.

Happy collecting!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Scratch-proof, shatter-proof, foolproof?

Watch crystals made of synthetic sapphire are often marketed as "scratch resistant", meaning they are very difficult - but not impossible - to scratch. Diamond can scratch them; so can man-made materials that incorporate silicon carbide. These materials are sometimes used to make tools or simulated-stone surfaces for furniture. The watch wearer should note that accidentally scraping a sapphire crystal against such a surface could cause a scratch.
So while your 'official and authorized' salesman would be more than happy
to tell you that your watch is fitted with scratchproof crystal, in reality
this is far from being the case!

Fine mechanical watches are definitely not shock proof either. Drop it on a hard surface and the crystal will shatter. Needless to say, expect further internal damage.

While the 'shock proof' myth originated in 1950s it really took off during the sixties / early seventies when ever creative advertisers of Swiss watches finally
managed to convince case making departments to mark mechanical watches as 'water proof, water protected, antimagnetic, nonmagnetic, schookproof, shockprotected, dustproof, unbreakable mainspring, and even ultrasonic!

My favorite all-time misleading caseback marking is "TROPICALISED WATERPROOF" which date from 1960s. While the watch mechanism and dial are long gone, the case back itself has survived remarkably well !

Summer, surf and vintage Subs

Yes, I know it is 'so cool' to wear your 40+ years Sub while surfing but by doing so you are just asking for trouble. Most vintage watches are NO LONGER water proof so don't just assume that because it's Rolex it's OK to wear it in water.

This particular 5513 came in yesterday in rather miserable condition. In just 48 hours after the water got in, it started to rust! Luckily for the owner it was still not too late - most of corrosion was contained in main spring barrel area. Lucky this time - a close shave indeed!

Watch straps - part II

Your response to last week's newsletter
in regard to overpriced leather watch straps was totally overwhelming!
Many of you voiced your opinion (over 300 emails received!) -
and I thank you very much for expressing it.
The 'strap scam' by Swiss manufacturers is so widely practiced.
It looks like that $500 is now barely enough for an original brand name strap
Many manufacturers are charging over $1000 for even mid-range models.
And if you think that's crazy amount to spend on a leather strap,
then hear this: an original pre-Vendome Panerai straps
now fetch over US$4,000 on second hand market - if you are lucky to find one!

But enough of bad news. Let's focus on positive.

Here are few tips for those who refuse to be ripped-off.

1. Don't give up searching for an ORIGINAL strap!

There are few watch wholesalers who still offer
original straps for certain models at wholesale price, direct to public.
A good source for Omega straps is Otto Frei
US based but definitely worth doing business with,
especially at times when exchange rate is favorable to AUD.
They also have those hard to find Omega bezels
at half price of SMH Australia.

Australian watch parts wholesaler are not well stocked
and would not gladly deal with individuals,
however if you are watch collector or hobbyist you should have
no problem opening an account. You don't need
shop front or ABN either, especially if you pay upfront.

Smith and Smith is based in Sydney
and Seivers (02 9279 1755) have offices in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne.
Keep in mind that they are specialized suppliers so
be polite, factual and don't waste their time.
When ordering it is essential to provide strap manufacturer's code and
watch reference number. Both are good source for anything SMH and TAG.

2. Hand and Custom-made

This is your best value for money option, especially
when looking for a replacement strap for Panerai,
Breitling and other large case-size watches.
Good starting point is list of strap makers is located here:
Support independent craftsman!

3. Look for a substitute by another maker or brand

In some cases (and with bit of luck) suitable replacement strap may
be sourced by another watch manufacturer.
For example, most of Glycine straps are not only well made
and reasonably priced, but they are almost ideal for vintage
and new XL watches like Rolex Sub, Longines, Breitling,
IWC and Omega. Yes this may be a long shot but you'll love the saving.

4. The old-fashioned way: buy your next strap
from specialist strap maker!

Probably the best known strap maker is
Austrian manufacturer Hirsch, established in 1765.
On offer is large range in many different
styles, colors and band width.
In Australia, Hirsch is represented by Duraflex (02) 9417 6268
- call for your nearest stockist.
Or search for online retailer like

As the prices of original straps continue to rise,
more makers will specialize in production of
'aftermarket' straps. Most likely, being the strap specialist, those
makers will soon produce straps that are not only cheaper but
of better quality than originals - which will make them
brand name in their own. A good example of this phenomenon is
Mario Paci

If you have your favorite supplier or strap maker you
are happy to recommend let me know and I'll pass
your information in next email. As always, special thanks goes
to subscribers who kindly provided references and links to above mentioned

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A fool and his money are soon parted - but Who is the fool here?

It is January 21, and I already broke my New Year's resolution - I am
back to "grumpy old myself" mood.

Let's be realistic - I am a grumpy old troll.

And yes, I am totally aware that some of you are not going to like
this post. Few will unsubscribe and yes, I will get abusive replays.
But quite frankly political correctness was never on my 'to do' list,
and certainly not my New Year's resolution.

Yesterday, I was offered a nice Omega Railmaster XXL.
A lovely watch, sought after model in fantastic condition.
Except for a slightly worn leather strap.
We all know Omega straps are not relay cheap
so before I could commit on price, I sent my assistant across the road
to Omega boutique. The young assistant is new to watches so
I warned him not to be shocked if quoted in excess of $300.

Little did I know that I am the one up for the shock: the Railmaster strap was quoted $500!

Now, I know some of you out there honestly and sincerely believe that $500
for an Omega leather strap is fair and reasonable.

But not me!

A five hundred bucks is a lot of money, even for Elton John.

A cool, hard earned five hundred Aussie dollars will buy you
a brand spanking new washing machine, or two pairs of fine leather shoes,
or fancy TV. Even a holiday to one star resort in Fiji - but hey, this still counts as a holiday!

But what the hell is so special, technologically advanced or exclusive about
5 inch piece of leather to justify it's $500 price tag?
For goodness sake, a cave man invented his third leather strap
10 minutes after he hunted his first meal!

Don't get me wrong - this post is not about spitting venom on
leather goods industry - I have nothing but utmost respect for millions of poor, hard working third world workers
who make 'luxury' goods in swat shops earning $2 per day.
This post is about greedy corporations who are ripping us off
in the name of exclusivity, prestige and branding.

Well as far as I am concerned, as of today I REFUSE to pay
excessive and ridiculous amount of money for piece of leather that cost
$10 to manufacture. I am not a fool. I have had enough.

Here is my message to SWATCH Group: your strap prices are
joke, but we are not laughing. By "we" I mean hundreds of customers
I talk to and hundreds of watch collectors I see every month.
You have managed to upset your most loyal clientele.
This is no longer about spitting in face of second hand watch dealers
who support your brands with their own money - you have spat
on everyone from mums, dads, pensioners, small watch lovers, enthusiasts to
top collectors - and get this: we no longer enjoy your tyranny!

Yes, times are good and demand for mechanical watches is high.
But why are you taking us, your customers, for granted ?
The only reason your business exist is because of us.
The watch business is cyclical - over the 200 years of Swiss watch industry
very often the entire industry was shaken by advancements
in manufacturing progress, technical advancement or fashion
causing many makers to either restructure or close their doors for ever.
But next time (maybe in not so distant future?) I fear you will have no one to blame but your
arrogant greed.

My newly acquired Railmaster will be fitted with
a lovely $90 hand made, had stitched custom strap.
With my money I will support independent craftsman.
Otherwise, if I give in now, who can guarantee that next time I need
another Omega strap I won't be charged $750 or more?
Of course, Swatch people will call it fake. But only thing that is
fake is their silly smile when trying to excuse yet another price rise.

Yes, we love our watches, but no, WE ARE NO FOOLS.