Thursday, July 28, 2016

rebelde caps

***Hey, good news - we're working on rebelde caps!

These are protoytpes, just in this morning, but if you'd like one please express your interest so we can work out quantities. 
Email now.

Available in black and red and can be worn all year round. 

Happy collecting,

Swiss Not Happy

***Export of Swiss Watches in Decline

Swiss watch corporations are freaking out: the latest data shows that the export of Swiss watches has declined for 11 consecutive months. The reason apparently is the high Swiss Franc and the price of gold. Richemont Group just fired 350 people and Omega is apparently contemplating doing the same.

While this explanation may sound plausible to shareholders, the problem is far more complex. The price of gold is on the rise, but gold is still 30% cheaper than it was in 2012/13 when export was booming.

In May, Richemont CEO Richard Lepeu said Swiss watchmakers "should never be arrogant" and shouldn’t rule anything out. "Technology's progressing very fast, and we never know what might happen."

Lepeu is referring to smart phones. Once again, it appears that Swiss underestimated the impact of new technology: except for TAG, no major Swiss watchmaker is interested in getting into the smart watch business.

However, in my opinion the real reason for a decline in export and sales is a more obvious one: the price of Swiss watches went through the roof. The product is simply too expensive and there are only so many watch buyers who can afford to spend $10,000 on a new timepiece every few months. The other even more obvious reason is the crazy idea that Swiss watches should be sold exclusively throughout 'brand boutiques'. Getting rid of independent retailers who were able to sell volumes of watches at somehow discounted prices is now firing back. Just a few years ago, one could have bought a new Omega watch from a number of dealers located from North Shore to Parramata. Today, there is just one independent AD who still has an Omega account.

The solution is simple: lower the prices, open more independent retail accounts, make the spare parts available to independent watchmakers and watch your export sales go through the roof.

Happy collecting,

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Celebrating Inquisitiveness

***When it comes to watchmaker lathes and manual turning, my skills could be best described as at novice level. I am more familiar with 'large' clockmaker-size work and tool making, something you do on a Myford ML7 size lathe. 

Earlier today I was looking at carbide and tungsten gravers blanks, suitable for hand engraving of fine pivots. The seller was located in the US and the price was right - but what really dampened my enthusiasm was a line above the tool description: "If you need instructions on how to use it then it is not for you".

A statement like this is both arrogant and obnoxious. Mastering hand engraving is a life-time journey and any piece of information that would come with a new tool would be more than welcome. Lathe work is like playing a guitar; each player has their own technique, of which some are better than others. 

When it comes to the precision, speed, accuracy and repeatability of turning then every detail, no matter how unimportant it could be, could make the difference between a good job and a fantastic job. If a seller is unwilling to share their knowledge then I really don't want to do any business with them.

The same applies to our customers. The watches we sell - both new and preowned – do require some level of 'introduction' to the new owner. While I have handled tens of thousands of watches in my lifetime, I am often surprised with a function or a detail I haven't noticed before. Just couple weeks ago, a buyer of an Omega Moonwatch asked me if the 1861 Calibre was fitted with a hack function. I really couldn't remember - despite disassembling that very same calibre hundreds of times.

Asking questions should be encouraged, and inquisitiveness should be rewarded, not ridiculed.
Unfortunately the way we teach - from kindergarten to postgraduate studies - is by flooding the students with knowledge expecting them to absorb it without providing any feedback in return. No wonder kids hate school, teachers are frustrated and customers are unhappy.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Putting things into perspective

***Putting things into perspective

This morning we talked about the size of watch components we routinely handle in our workshop.
Any craftsman - a violin maker for example - would have no problem cutting and measuring a piece 1 millimetre thick. But our watch components are much finer and smaller. For example, the escape wheel pivot is 15 times thinner than a millimetre. And a hair spring is just 20 microns thick (one micron is one thousands part of a millimetre).

To put things into perspective, we took a photo of micrometre jaws holding the hairspring.
We shone the light from behind the instrument so you can see the gap between the 'jaws'.
Without the light, the gap is not visible to the naked eye.

The majority of vintage watches suffer from poor handling so hair spring alignment is often part of the service. To make the coils perfectly concentric is an art form - this job is done by hand using fine tip tweezers and without any special magnification, except the eye-glass. And this is what you learn to do in the third year of a watchmaker apprenticeship.

A 20 micron part is literally the cutting edge of fine mechanical engineering and it is obvious why watchmakers are so proud of their skills. A person trained to handle such fine work is a priceless asset to society - and if you know how to repair watches then you can be easily trained to handle any 'larger' components in the medical, optical or electronics industries.

Sydney TAFE is the last remaining teaching faculty for aspiring Australian watchmakers. Only 12 watchmakers enrol in the 3 year course each year because Australian watchmakers are not taking up the apprentices. 

And the main reason why knowledge and skills are not passed on is simple: the calculated and precisely executed restriction of the supply of spare parts to independent watchmakers by big Swiss brands is causing devastating effects. Yesterday I had a conversation with a Swiss colleague who said that even Swiss watchmakers are very upset by the restrictions and corporate greed which is causing loss of jobs in Switzerland.

But the small rebelde team keeps marching on - and we are looking for another young and talented person to join us. If you wish to become a watchmakers apprentice or know someone who is excited about practical micro-engineering then spread the word.

Happy collecting,

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Rolex Servicing

Probably the most common inquiry we get is “do you do Rolex repairs?”
The short answer is; it depends.

With the current workload of rebelde watches to be assembled, every moment in the workshop is priceless. In other words, rebelde is, and always will be, our priority. However, there is always that great sense of satisfaction that comes from the repair or restoration of a Rolex watch that was written off as unrepairable or too old to be repaired by Rolex themselves.

Our bottleneck is the availability of genuine Rolex spare parts. Since Rolex no longer supports independent watch makers in Australia, we are forced to search for genuine parts worldwide. In general, the restriction of spare parts makes them more expensive and it takes longer to get them. So if you’re not in a hurry then in most cases, yes, we can help you.

The other group of customers that we are able to help are the owners of vintage Rolex watches who prefer to keep the watch in as an original condition as possible. When it comes to servicing and replacement of spare parts, our golden rule is to preserve the original dial and hands, bezel and bracelet; which means our goal is to preserve the authenticity and collectability of the Rolex, rather than to turn them into factory-new condition.

The third group of customers are Rolex owners who simply find Rolex servicing prices unreasonably high. If you need an independent second opinion and a second quote then again, most likely, we would be able to help you.

The final group of customers are those who find our service more down-to-earth and who prefer a more intimate relationship with the watchmaker. To them, we simply can’t say no.

Our speciality is vintage Rolex sports models like the Submariner, GMT Master, Explorer and, of course, Datejust.  In most cases, the complete overhaul/restoration cost would be around AUD $850.
The only restriction is we don’t work on watches manufactured after 2010, we work only on the older watches.

Happy collecting,

Sydney Watches Pty Ltd is an independent watch repair service centre, not affiliated with nor authorised by Rolex, Switzerland.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

1973 Rolex Explorer II Ref. 1655/0

Rolex Explorer II 1973

Big projects call for big decisions.

To finance the acquisition of a CNC watchmaker’s mill, I will be reluctantly parting with one of the watches from my private collection: 1973 Rolex Explorer II.

Stainless steel case and bracelet, case size: 40mm. Black dial.

What is special about this piece is that it was acquired from its original owner - a gentleman who bought it in 1973. 

The watch has been overhauled by Rolex a few years ago and has not been worn since.

It comes with the original Rolex box and two service guarantee cards - from 2004 and 2013. The serial numbers and model reference numbers are clearly visible and match the paperwork.

This Rolex Explorer II with the bright orange hand is one of the most popular vintage Rolex models and is sought after by serious collectors. However this particular watch has been meticulously restored so it is perfectly suitable to be worn daily - if you choose to do so.

It goes without saying that my preference is for the watch to remain in Australia. My price is AUD $27,000 + GST. However, if the watch is to be exported, then the export price is USD$20,900.

Available for inspections: please call for an appointment.

Panerai PAM 112 Twins

Hey, Josh here.

This doesn’t happen every day so I thought “let’s frame it”.

Two identical Panerai PAM 112 arrived to our workshop with the same problem: a broken main spring. 

Working on two watches simultaneously is great fun. And the job can be completed almost as fast as when you’re working on one piece. The Panerai were powered up by ETA 6497-2 movements.

The only thing that left me under-impressed was the Perlage finish of the main plate. The only finishing was done on the externally visible parts of the main plate, whereas the areas under the bridge were left raw and unfinished. This would be as if a painter painted your whole house, but not the areas covered by furniture. 

Obviously Panerai is not in the business of impressing watchmakers.

Happy collecting,

Monday, July 4, 2016

Announcing rebelde50

At exactly 10pm on August 19, 1930 the arch was successfully joined.
Dr JJC Bradfield, the Chief Engineer and father of the Sydney Harbour Bridge could hardly contain his excitement: it was his vision, engineering expertise and detailed supervision of all aspects of its construction which had brought the long-held dream into reality. 
The bridge was almost ready, and soon, the last of the 6 million Australian-made rivets were driven through the bridge platform. The following month, it was test-loaded with 96 steam locomotives. Eighty-five years later, it stands as firm and as strong as on that day it was finished.

Engineer Bradfield was a dreamer - but in his mind, from the very beginning of the project, he knew exactly what he was doing: he was building an imposing piece of stone and metalwork which would last for generations.

So did Utzen, when he designed the Sydney Opera House. 
The rebelde office is located in the Culwulla Chambers Building - another monumental Sydney project. It was built in 1911 and at that time, it was the tallest building in Sydney. Actually, it remained the tallest building in NSW for the next 50 years!

Great ideas, big dreams and grand plans don't always become a reality. But for those that do, they appear to have something in common: the vision to achieve and accomplish something that will last for generations.

This week Josh and I have built two watchmaker’s benches in our workshop. Of course, we could have easily ordered them from Switzerland, but we choose to build them ourselves. Josh picked thick Queensland Maple and Tasmanian Oak planks and we spent 3 long weeks cutting and polishing this magnificent Australian wood. The benches are now almost ready, and we are proud of our workmanship: the 2.8m long double bench contains not one screw or nail. Many nights we stayed up well past midnight, sometimes arguing, sometimes joking, yet we thoroughly enjoyed the project. At times when we felt tired and discouraged we told each other that if we could not build the best watchmaker’s bench ever, then we don't deserve to design and build a watch and that thought kept us going. The bird-eye spots in the maple are just magnificent. The thick bench will easily outlast many watchmakers who will work on it.
The bench is here to stay, as well as Culwulla Chambers, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge we cross twice every day. There is simply something money cannot buy: the feeling of lasting achievement.

In the day and age when goods are built to last for only a year or two - five if you are lucky - Josh and I are proud to be part of something much larger and much more lasting. Today, we would like to offer you a very special opportunity: to become an owner of a watch which will not only last for the next fifty years, but which will be GUARANTEED to be fully operational for next 50 years.
Our offer is simple: if you invest in rebelde50, your watch will come with our written guarantee that for the next 50 years you will not have to spend one cent on servicing or spare parts replacement and this will include even a leather strap replacement! We will take full care of your watch and whenever it needs any repair, you will just bring it to Culwulla Chambers and we'll repair it FREE OF CHARGE for the next 50 years!

Yes I know this offer sounds absolutely crazy, but hey - we are serious and we are committed to offer you something no other watch brand in the world can. I sincerely hope I will be around long enough to look after your rebelde50 for at least the next two decades. And Josh who is now 18 will ensure that your rebelde50 is ticking at least until his retirement in 2066.

No one knows what the future will bring. But we know that the Harbour Bridge is here to stay and that if we think big and bold then rebelde will be here to stay as well. If Josh and I can't help you personally, someone else will. The idea of a 50 years guarantee is powerful enough that it will always attract one clever watchmaker who will proudly take the project over and look after your watch.

We are ready to take your order for a limited edition of 50 pieces of rebelde50. You pay a one-off price of $5,000 for your watch and you will never, ever, for the next 50 years have to pay one cent for servicing or parts. It’s simple as that.

We are not in a hurry so take your time to decide. Whether we sell one or fifty pieces is totally irrelevant: what matters is the message we are sending out: rebelde is here to stay and we are committed to a project like no other watchmaker out there. With an offer like this, once again, we have proven that rebelde has no competition. If you wish to become a part of our big dream then you are more than welcome to join us - not only as a customer but as a visionary. Your support is truly appreciated. 


Technical description:

- Batch of 50 pieces, individually numbered F01 to F50
- Case: 44m Surgical Steel 316L brush/high polished
- Pilots-style ribbed bezel
- Sapphire crystal top, see-through case back crystal
- Movement: Honey Gold Plated Swiss movement with rebelde laser-engraved bridge. Exclusively custom-made for rebelde swan neck regulator and gold balance wheel.
- Manual wind.
- Water resistance: 10 bar
- Leather strap and rebelde steel buckle
- Guaranteed for fifty years: rebelde50 comes with 10 complete overhauls at 5 yearly intervals and up to 20 leather straps. Guarantee includes parts and labour. (*Damage resulting from lack of care/accidental damage will not be covered by guarantee)

- Price: $4,545 + GST (AUD $5,000)

Note: we are planning on re-issuing some of our standard sold-out models of Pilots and Control Tower in the future. The price of stainless steel models will remain the same at $2,500.

Happy collecting,