Monday, August 18, 2014

California dial (agian!)

*** Hey, we got more online 'press'

Thanks to a quick 'selfie' of Craig Gilbert's I 69/75, our rebelde appeared at Facebook page of Watch Time magazine. Apparently, the Watch Time is America's #1 watch magazine. Craig's photo was published and got over 1,000 likes and 40 shares!

You can check it out here (and add your rebelde photo if you wish)

Of course, few commentators were quick to label rebelde as a Panerai tribute, copy and even Panerai fake. I guess those naive and misinformed comments stem from California-style dial which is now associated with watches made by Panerai.

The truth is, Panerai was just one of MANY brands who in 1930s made watches with mix of Roman and Arabic numerals and there is nothing to suggest that California dial is an exclusive Panerai style. (Panerai actually never made such claim).

Here is just one example of Rolex Cal dial, as featured on the cover of soon to be released Rolex Story book:

Happy collecting!


Saturday, June 21, 2014

David and Goliath: rebelde N38/75 vs. Panerai PAM341 EGIZIANO

***la revolution

When a collector puts his $30,000 Swiss watch in to his pocket so he can strap on his new rebelde, such act is no longer about watchmaking - it is scandalous and inspirational.

But I didn't start la revolution.
I am just enjoying it.

Actually, he didn't buy just one rebelde, but two - and that itself was not a big deal neither. After all, addition of two more pieces to collection of over 200 high grade watches is hardly worth mentioning.

What did come as a surprise was his request: an open order for every new model of reblede I'll ever build.
And that itself has to be the most humbling experience for any watchmaker.

David vs. Goliath:
rebelde N38/75 [ 44mm, $2K] and Panerai PAM341 EGIZIANO (Egyptian) [60mm / $28K]

How to review a watch 'reviewer'

*** Bloggers and reviewers

Last week I got an email from someone in Adelaide who calls himself a 'watch reviewer'. He got my details from a Swiss parts supplier , who thought that rebelde would benefit from a locally written and published review.

It was pointed out that our mate has been successful reviewing both common watches and high-end pieces worth well over $600,000.

Of course, I was curious to learn more. However it quickly became obvious that his blog was all about selling advertising banners for $500 per month so I politely declined any prospect of business.

Then the phone rang - our reviewer form Adelaide wasn't happy. He was talking fast, trying to point out that he is not interested in my story nor industry issues. If he is going to do the review, my input would not be required. All I need to do is to ship the watch to Adelaide and he will tell the world his opinion.

At that point, I was really interested to learn more about his credentials.

'Since you are not interested in the project itself, but just the watch, I would assume you will perform numbers of technical measurements for the benefit of your blog readers. I guess you do have a precise and highly sensitive 'path-measuring-system' which continuously monitors and measures thickness of the watch case exposed to pressure and vacuum?" - I've asked.


"Understand. How about a device to measure daily timekeeping error, frequency of the oscillator and amplitude?"

"No...but I have been writing about watches far more expensive than yours" he said, fairly agitated.

"Fine. Do you have a calipers so you can at least measure case diameter and thickness?"

"No I don't - he was fuming - but I do have a RULER which would certainly do the job"

"Well mate, as far as I am concerned, you can use that ruler to measure donkeys ears."

What followed after was not for publishing. Let's just say I am not really good at making friends and that you won't be reading anything good about rebelde from this guy any time soon.

I have no problem with anyone trying to make money selling his wares, but if you want to make your name as a watch reviewer then at least do your job properly and honestly. Especially so if your blog proudly states that you've been a watch critic since 2014.

Any review for the sake of blunt advertising or mere entertainment is really useless.

Criticizing a precise instrument like a watch requires at least basic understanding of timekeeping, water resistance and micro engineering.

If you want to impress me - and more importantly provide a meaningful piece of technical information to your readers - then please review my watch from technical aspect.

For example, find out the amount of case deformation at 10 bar. That information would tell volumes to those who care about IMPORTANT stuff - like water resistance. Or if you want to be cool, then go a step further: measure the speed of deformation.

Take no prisoners: challenge my claims!

Test the water resistance of rebelde with crown pulled out to time setting position. That would be a great review on any watch, one I would pay money to read.

I understand that a young and enthusiastic reviewer may not have neither expertise nor equipments to conduct such tests, in which case I would be more than happy to invite him to spend an afternoon with me, learning about issues which are truly important.

I would be more than happy to pull the rebelde apart and talk about what makes it a watch. To show the finish of the side of sapphire crystal and how it sits inside Teflon seal. Or the thickness of the bezel-to-case rubber seal. It would be an exciting exercise beneficial to everyone involved AND online readers.

Sending a watch to someone for review who by his own admission is not interested in neither technical aspects nor industry issues is just waste of time.

*** rebelde water resistance testing

No, I don't recommend water related activities - after all, our watch is pilots, not divers. However for those who need to know: yes, the watch is fully water resistant to over 10 Bar ("100m WR").

Each piece is tested for pressure and vacuum. The testing process is fully automated and allows me to simulate performance under various conditions.

In short, when the air is pumped under pressure, the watch case deforms elastically. While such deformation is extremely small, it can be precisely measured. When the pressure is stabilized and air inside watch cools down, the case will continue to expand. That additional expansion is indicator of water resistance and it is then measured again. Typically we are talking about regress of 0.06um (0.06 thousandth of millimeter).

The sturdier the watch, the smaller the deformation, and correspondingly the measurement itself is more delicate.

Heaps of fun!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

rebelde: a watch designed, assembled and adjusted in Australia !

I can hardly believe that 4 months have passed since my last post! Finally, the first batch of rebelde watches has been completed and I can now slow down and unwind.

A very special 'thank you' to 263 customers who put their trust in rebelde by placing an early order.
Yes, with the current output of 3-4 watches per week, it would still take some time to complete all orders but I guess this is a small price to pay for a very unique, limited edition watch.

For those who are new to my blog: rebelde is bespoke watch based on Swiss manual wind mechanism with case, dial, hands, winding crown and everything else designed, assembled and adjusted by your Australian watchmaker. Case size is 44mm and two models are available: Pilots (the one with fancy bezel) and Control Tower with larger numerals and polished bezel.

The website is yet to be created, however I have just uploaded 60 images to rebelde gallery:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Rebelde: Y soy rebelde, cuando no sigo a los demas!

Dial design: California-style dial is one where hour markers are mix of Roman and Arabic numerals. Dating back from 1930s it seems as a right choice for a 1930s style Pilots watch. Ideally I would like to try a few colour combination, but for the very first production batch any particular shade of sepia on black will do. I am toying with idea of 'branding' the run with a catchy name - but this is still uncertain.

I like the sound (and meaning!) of Spanish rebelde. Not very Australian, but if you have a better idea, do let me know.

"And I am a rebel, when I don't follow everyone else."

Friday, January 31, 2014

Making my own watch: the moment of truth

The sample case components of the first production run arrived mid-day yesterday.

I can't remember when was the last time I felt so excited and anxious!

Fitting the sapphire crystal, case back crystal, seals, mid case and bezel then inserting the movement and winding crown for the very first time was an experience I'll remember forever!

The good news: mechanically, all fits well, exactly as per drawing / design.

And equally importantly, the steel finish is just amazing. As much as I am trying not to be subjective, the watch feels at least as good as any $5K Swiss timepiece.

As we speak, I am wearing the zero/nine Pilots. Since the dial and hands are not ready yet, a provisional minute hand is fitted so the watch does tell the time.

For the next few weeks, until the dial is finished, I will have the opportunity to wear it and to check it for timekeeping, water resistance as well as to get a 'general feel' of the watch on my wrist.

Attached below are couple of images for Premium subscribers.

I know that some of you are eager to place your order. While the most challenging and most difficult part of the manufacturing is now successfully completed, I don't want to get distracted with sales before the dial and hands are in stock.

Final dimensions:
Case diameter: 44.2mm
Bezel : 44.0 mm
Thickness: 12.3mm
Winding crown: 9mm
Movement: manual wind.

3 piece case with screw-lock bezel and screw-lock case back, sapphire crystal front glass 2.0mm.

Manual wind Unitas [Swiss] movement, the very same base calibre as used in Panerai manual wind watches. Additional finish: Cote de Geneva finish.

Water resistant to 10 bar min.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Making my own watch (3)

Good news: all the case blanks and bezels have been machined with two samples polished, ready for final inspection. As I type this, the cases are already on their way and soon will have them in my hand!

We have reached the point of no return where any mistake is irreversible. Whether the movement will align as it should, is there enough clearance for dial and hands? Is the engineered estimate of water resistance as per specification? And most importantly, how does the watch feel on the wrist?

Oh, yes - all the winding crowns are done too!

Assuming all goes well, the next step is engraving and completion of the dial and hands design which should not take more than 6-8 weeks, including dial prototype and final production run.

Finally, once all the components are in stock, I will start the assembly of each individual watch, one piece at the time.