A few years ago I've attended Geneva Watch
manufacturing fair - an annual event known as "the largest international
trade show dedicated to high precision". Even back then, when times
were 'normal', this largest fair of it's kind attracted no more than a
few hundred exhibitors and a few thousand visitors. Independent horology
is a rather modest affair - there are hardly any Swiss makers or
artisans that have not been already bought into big brands.
A small stand that really grabbed my attention was a porcelain and
enamel dial maker. The whole business is one man show- a Swiss craftsman
in his late 70s with an amazing display of hand made, one-off dials. We
struck conversation quickly - he was interested in Australian watch
brand story and was very keen to make a small batch of rebelde enamel
dials. There was however one small problem: at around $400 per dial, we
simply could not afford his craftsmanship - at that time, at least.
Enamel dials are next level in dial manufacturing, and only top Swiss makers offer with such unique, hand crafted dials.
The Japanese tradition of enamel work has a long history. With its
unique sheen and warm feel, enamel creates a captivating watch dial with
beautiful colour fidelity that can last more than a hundred years. And
thanks to Seiko’s venture into the field of enamel and it’s
collaboration with Japanese masters like Mitsuro Yokosawa, enamel dial
Seiko watches are now the pride and joy of watch enthusiasts worldwide.
At the price anyone can afford.
“For almost half a century, Mitsuru Yokosawa has been expanding the
boundaries of enamel, mastering time-honoured techniques and gradually
creating new ones. As his experience broadened, the layers of enamel he
was able to apply became thinner and thinner. He is now able to apply a
flawless enamel coat just 0.1mm thin. Such precision requires not only
exceptional visual acuity, but also the seemingly magical ability to
make minute adjustments to the enamel composition based on fluctuations
in humidity and weather conditions. Aptly, it would take the skills of a
magician to create the face of the new Seiko Presage.”
On today’s offer we have a Seiko SPB047J- made in Japan. This is the
most affordable enamel dial watch in the Presage range and probably my
Why? Because I get a real kick looking for “imperfections” in the enamel
layer. The more I find, the more I like it! Because those small
imperfections are what gives enamel watches their own, unique,
unmistaken character; the masters touch of humanity.
On this particular example, there is a tiny line which goes along the
edge of the calendar window. Of course, it so not visible by naked eye-
only under high magnification. But if you know where to look for it,
you’ll find it. And because of it, your SEIKO Presage is truly your
watch – a unique piece you can tell apart from every other Presage out
there. (Is your new Rolex different or special in any way than any other
I couldn’t resist but to take the mechanism
out of the case. And there it was – a whole world of “imperfections”.
Hidden from the eye, the dial edge is left in it’s raw state, visible
only for watchmakers to admire.
Should you invest in Seiko? Yes, but only if you feel special.
Seiko Presage Special Edition SPB047J
40.5mm case size. Stainless steel case and black leather crocodile
strap. White enamel dial. Sapphire crystal. Automatic movement - calibre
6R15. Water resistance 100M.
Survey results first: it's fair to say that
no modern watch could compete with the 1973 Seiko gold Chronometer which
won you over in an avalanche. Over 1,000 subscribers casted their
votes, and here is the result:
The Seiko event - the new watch range launch
for a handful of premium authorised dealers - was a blast. It started
with a dinner at 6:30pm last night - that finished at 11pm! It was a
fairly informal event where attendees were given an opportunity to
mingle, get to know each other, and chat with the Seiko staff. Dare I
say, It almost felt like a family gathering.
Despite COVID, Seiko Australia had yet another prosperous year. Seiko
took the risk - early on, the decision was made to retain every single
employee, keep going strong, and keep investing in marketing and
relationship building. That strategy paid off handsomely.
This morning, at 9:00 sharp, we gathered once again at Hilton for an
official 'unveiling' of the new watches. Unfortunately, I am not at
liberty to disclose any photos (yet!) but let me assure you that you
will be impressed by a number of new models. Let me just say that the
new 'vintage inspired' line will be a killer.
To my surprise, Mr Yukiaki Suganuma, the Managing Director of Seiko
Australia, presented yours truly with a very special gift. Mr Suganuma -
who insisted that we all call him Yuki - was very curious to learn more
about YOU - our supporters and newsletter subscribers; and the way we
interact and promote Seiko, to what has been described as the 'top
echelon of Australian horological enthusiasts'. It didn't need much to
explain the obvious: Australians love Seiko watches because Seiko is an
honest product with a proven record for reliability, priced rightly and
fairly. It was a pleasure to accept the present on yours and our behalf.
Of course, I could not resist but to ask Mr
Yuki for a quick wrist check - he was wearing the Novak Djokovic SPB143J
For a small Australian watchmaker, as well
as for all watch enthusiasts, the words of Mr Shinji Hattori- CEO and
Chairman of Seiko - are both inspirational and visionary:
"Dear Friend of Grand Seiko and Seiko,
This year, we celebrate the 140th anniversary of the founding of Seiko
by my great-grandfather, Kintaro Hattori. I see this as an opportunity
to reflect on our long history, to take stock of what he and my
predecessors have achieved and to look ahead to the future.
Kintaro directed the company until his death in 1934. He became known as
the "King of Watches in the East". He created a company that could
produce timepieces of high quality and remarkable precision, and he
guided Seiko through good times and bad to become the leading watch
company in Japan. I know he would be proud of our vertically integrated
production system, which covers everything from initial design to parts
manufacturing and even materials development. Yet his greatest legacy
was something longer lasting and more valuable than our manufacturing
methods or our business model. It was his vision of the kind of company
he wanted Seiko to be - one that cherishes its customers and all its
stakeholders and is truly trusted by society.
Kintaro's spirit is clear in his words that Seiko should be "Always one
step ahead of the rest" and in the lesson he repeated to his colleagues
as they went about their duties: "Don't run but always keep going". His
words still resonate and continue to inspire all of us as we face the
challenges of these demanding times and aim for a brighter future.
I like to think that Kintaro would be proud of what we have achieved in
recent times and of our ambitious program for 2021, which we have
developed in line with his vision and spirit.
I am confident that the collections we are going to show you will live
up to Kintaro's ideals, and that the coming year will mark the start of
an exciting new era for both Grand Seiko and Seiko."
Straight to the point: over the past 27
years I have sold more than 300 Omega Moon watches, and had repaired at
least another 300. For all those years I have not come across a more
beautiful example than this 1996 Ref 3572.50 with a tritium dial, see
through case back and gold 863 movement. In particular: the colour of
tritium luminous markers is simply stunning. Of course, every now an
then I do bump into a tritium Rolex with the similar colour dial, but
all those Rolexes are from the 1960s and 70s which have had over 50
years to 'develop' this most sought after coloration. I am not sure what
is the cause of such dial tone. Perhaps a unique mix of tritium
phosphorus, or perhaps the unique lacquer applied over the hour markers,
radioactivity, x-rays, or some other completely unknown source it has
been (or has been not) exposed to.
If you are a serious Moon watch collector then this is a Moon watch that
is going to change the way you see and appreciate vintage watches. It
will set the bar so high, that any other tritium dial Moon watch will be
simply a grade lower or a fraction of this dial.
This is the punch line: Omega can remake gold 863 movements if it ever
decide to do so, but even Omega can not go back in time and recreate the
same tritium dials as they did in 1996. And even if they could, there
is absolutely no way to predict when a dial like this one - if ever -
will mature to such unique colour.
Price: $12,800 for arguably the best dial Moon watch you'll ever see. I say you snatch it- or I'll keep it for myself. Watch code: K7590.
It's easy: there is one watch that is
incredibly important to us - and if you really want to support us, then
this is the one you should buy: NH Mark 1.
1. Why? Because this is the only watch that brings in generous profit.
We make more money on Mark 1 than on any other watch we sell. The reason
is simple: it is a mature project where the initial investment in
development and design has been long paid off. The Soprod (Swiss)
movement is issue free. No under-guarantee returns and plenty of happy
customers. Perfect 40mm size.
2. When you invest in Mark 1, you are DIRECTLY investing in the future of Australian manufacturing. All
the profit stays here and all the taxes - from GST to company tax, to
individual tax - stay in Australia. Mark 1 enables us to employ and
train apprentices, to invest in machinery, and to grow.
We are very proud that we can offer you this unique opportunity: to be a
proud owner of an Australian watch. Mark 1 is designed and assembled in
Australia by watchmaker(s) who also make watches - in Australia.
Generations of accumulated watchmaking skills and expertise are built
into the Mark 1 and unlike almost all other watches, YOUR Mark 1 is
assembled by an actual watchmaker you know; one who cares about you as
much he cares about your watch. Can you assign a dollar value to that?
Price - unchanged since very first release, still the same: $2,800. In stock, ready for immediate delivery.
"Yesterday, Rolex has released a
few more models with the new "72 hours power reserve movement". Why is
this such a big news when Panerai, JLC, Omega, and IWC already offer 8
days going mechanical watches?"
This is a very good question. Before we go further: add to that list
Seiko Prospex models with 6R35 movements with 70 hours power reserve
which could be had for just $799. In other words, 70 hours power reserve
itself is not a big deal. However, like with anything in physics,
larger power reserve always come with some kind of unwanted trade-off.
Power reserve is simply an amount of energy on disposal to run a system.
Here is an example: in theory, a small car battery (60Ah)would power up
a 50 Watts LED light for 12 hours. Put two car batteries in parallel,
and you'll get 24 hours of light.
In watches, the energy to run the watch is stored in the mainspring.
There are number of 'consuming devices' in the system, but one of them,
directly responsible for timekeeping, is the balance wheel (oscillator).
More mainsprings (barrels) is one way to provide more energy, but this solution comes at the cost of increased watch size (both diameter and thickness).
The other solution is to lower the consumption and increase the efficiency of the oscillator.
There are two 'powers' in the balance wheel system. The first one is the balance power,
which is the amount of power presented in the oscillator, calculated as
a product of balance inertia, amplitude squared and frequency cubed.
For the Rolex calibre 3135, the balance power is 372 micro Watts. The
second power is the oscillator maintaining power - the
power required to keep the oscillator running. Again, for the Rolex 3135
that is 1.24 micro Watts. Fine tuning the ratio between the two is an
engineering challenge because extending the power reserve by reducing
the energy consumption of the balance wheel will come with a trade-off:
degraded performance and poor timekeeping.
The simple question is this: what do we really want- more power reserve
(watch running longer) , or more power allocated to maintain the
performance of the balance wheel, and better accuracy?
For the past few years Swiss watchmakers have been trying hard to increase the power reserve while maintaining good timekeeping. The
goal is to reduce consumption by making the balance wheel oscillating
system as friction free as possible. Increasing the beat (frequency) is
one of the ways forward, but there are number of solutions available:
changes in escapement geometry, low friction materials, magnetic
bearings - or completely new innovations such as the silicon oscillator
Back to the new Rolex: my understanding is that the 72 hours power
reserve is largely result of improvements to geometry of the standard
Swiss lever escapement increasing efficiency by 15%.. Rolex calls it
"The Chronergy Escapement". It has been around since 2015, but until
recently, it was reserved only for and Day-Date model. However, Omega
Calibres 8500 and above already benefit from Daniel's coaxial escapement
which is even more energy-transfer efficient. In reality, Rolex is once
again simply catching up with Omega.
Thank you for your time last week where we reviewed the attached Policies for the 2021-2022 Insurance period.
I confirm that all policies are in force for the next 12 months.
Invoice 1426 relates to the Brookvale cover. This policy has increased by $2,200.00 over last year.
The Insurers increased the premium $1,136.00 due to the general cost of
claims experienced by Insurers over the past twelve months. However, the NSW Government charges added an extra $1,000.00 to the premium which increased the cost as shown..."
Stewart, our insurance broker, is a decent man. We see each other once
per year to shake hands over Insurance cover. Stewart loves us: we keep
the records straight and honest, we make no claims and we pay our
premium in one go. Yes, we take insurance seriously.
Our small business is covered by four policies: public liability, stock,
shipping and one which covers the Brookvale manufacturing workshop. The
first three premiums are unchanged from the last year, but ironically,
it was the manufacturing policy which covers tools and equipment that
was hit hard by both sides: the Insurer and NSW Government.
NSW Emergency Services levy went up by 35% from last year. NSW Stamp
duty went up by 20% and combined with base premium increase of 17%, the
GST component went up by 20%.
Last year, National Insurance Brokers
Association (NIBA) wrote to the NSW Premier and the NSW Treasurer
calling on the Government to complete the reform of the Emergency
Services Levy. “We made it very clear that we do not need to wait for
another Royal Commission to recommend the reform of this unfair and unjust revenue stream”. It
was extremely disappointing to read the Treasurer’s comments. The
Government has indicated it intends to collect $1.1 billion from
policyholders in the 2020/2021 financial year. This is a massive impost,
and will be 45 per cent higher than the amount raised in 2018/2019.
“NIBA will work with the Insurance Council of Australia to keep up the
pressure on the NSW Government to follow the lead of the other States
and Territories, follow the recommendations of any number of Royal
Commissions, reviews and inquiries, and abolish this unfair and unjust
According to Reserve Bank of Australia (https://www.rba.gov.au/inflation/measures-cpi.html)
the average inflation rate sits around 0.7%. Actually, in the June
quarter for 2020, for the first time in decades, we had negative
inflation (deflation) of 0.3%!
Yet the NSW Government has put their greasy hands in manufacturers
pockets mercilessly, hitting us with a 35% increase on Emergency service
and 20% on stamp duty.
To Gladys Berejikian: Darling, you are choking us to death. Please have a mercy on small manufacturers before it’s too late.
But then again, the more pressure Gladys puts on me, the more determined I remain to keep going on.
Last week, Labor Party leader Anthony
Albanese promised $A15 billion dollars toward advanced manufacturing.
Assuming, of course, that Labor wins the next election, who would be
entitled to grants and loans? Medical science, low emission
technologies, engineering and space. Car, train and ship manufacturers.
Food and beverage processing and transport. Lithium battery
manufacturers, rare earth miners and even resources and agricultural
Albanese's plan to reinvent Australian manufacturing is remarkably
ambitious. And while Labor's $15 billion over 5 years may sound like a
lot of money, let's put things in perspective: this year, China will
spend more than $A500 billion on R&D alone.
On the other side, as announced in October, "Scott Morrison has selected
six priority areas for support in a $A1.5 billion manufacturing plan:
resources technology and critical minerals processing, food and
beverage, medical products, recycling and clean energy, defence, and
space." Ironically, Albo's $15 billion is 10 times more than Morrison's
pitiful $1.5 billion. (And while we're talking money, Australian
gambling 'industry' revenue last year was $55 billion!)
For a small, Australian, advanced manufacturing start up business like
ours, voting Labor may sound like a good strategy. Yet, I am still to be
convinced that throwing money at manufacturers will make any
significant difference. Advanced manufacturing is a tricky business.
While substantial investment in equipment is a prerequisite, investment
in skilled people is far more important. If the government is serious
about restarting and revitalising Australian manufacturing, then their
priority should be creating a healthy environment where each and every
business has an equal opportunity to grow and succeed.
Here is my shortlist of suggestions that would make a difference quickly:
1. Slash corporate tax rates to zero for the first 10 years. With
no tax burden, manufacturing businesses would reinvest every dollar
back into their plants and equipment. For the same reason a parent
cannot charge boarding to their 7 year old child, the government should
not tax an advanced manufacturing start up.
2. Wage subsidies. Turning an apprentice into a
highly-skilled machinist takes time and money. Why should a business
bear the full cost of training, when it is the government who eventually
benefits from this highly skilled worker? It is the business that
employs, trains and pays employee's wages. It is the government that
collects tax on wages. If the government's desire is to advance
manufacturing and grow employment, then it is only logical that there
should be a wage subsidy. Let's partner together— how about a 50 per
cent wage subsidy for the first 5 years for each employee?
3. Government guarantees. One more time: we are happy
to partner with the government. If our business wants to import a
cutting-edge piece of equipment worth $A1 million, then how about
splitting the investment equally? If I am to mortgage my house for $500K
then the government should provide a guarantee on an interest free loan
for the same amount. I mortgage my house, you mortgage yours. I trust
you, you trust me. I work hard for Australia, Australia works hard for
4. We make, you buy. If a pig farmer in a developing
country can negotiate a Government’s buy back guarantee on pork bellies,
then it is only reasonable that an advanced Australian manufacturer
(who is prepared to risk it all!) should expect a preferential deal with
their government. We are shocked by how casually and commonly
Australian institutions do business with Chinese manufacturers. Lured by
"cheap prices", they are happy to outsource the last screw and last PCB
board. Australian businesses cannot compete with China. The government
needs to make up its mind: either it starts supporting Australian made
and pays the price, or it continues to buy from China. We can't have
both national sufficiency and domestic production AND low prices. If the
Japanese Prime Minister wears Seiko, why do Australian politicians wear
Apple watches made in China?
Forty six million- the amount of money the Australian gambling industry collects in just 7 hours.
We are at the fork. As a country, we can either get serious about
investing in domestic manufacturing, or we can remain a dirt-exporting
colony. We have a choice to make: to train and employ Australians, or to
export jobs to China; to work hard, plan carefully, prioritise and hope
to succeed, or simply give up and invest in other industries that
require less investment and unskilled labor.
As always, only time will tell . . .
2021 China’s research and development spending: $A 500 billion
2020 Australian gambling revenue: $A 55 billion
2022? Labor investment in Advanced manufacturing: $A 15 billion
2020? Liberal investment in Advanced manufacturing: $A 1.5 billion
2020 Actual Liberal government investment in Advanced manufacturing for Vic and SA: $A 0.046 billion
Today a Watchmaker's Magazine arrived in my
inbox. On the cover: the reprint of the very first issue published in
What grabbed my attention was the advert by Handly: Australia's largest watch case manufacturer.
The story goes back to the 1920s when Mr Handley and Mr Tilley got into
the watch case manufacturing business. Originally established in
Victoria St Abbotsford, they moved from the corner of Church St to 655
Victoria St in 1929 into a new purpose built factory - the modern art
deco building featured in the advertisement. What fuelled the business
growth was a need for locally made watch cases: after the first world
war Australia imposed high import duties on complete watches so many
Swiss movement manufacturers exported bare movements to be cased up in
Australia. Handley made cases for Rolex, Tudor, Unicorn, Cyma, Movado,
Tissot and Omega.
In 1928 Mr Tilley went to Switzerland to source "the most modern"
machinery for watch case manufacturing. From press reports of the day
his visit was far from well regarded by the Swiss watchmakers and they
threatened anyone who supplied him with machinery with sanctions. They
even approached police to have this "undesirable trader" deported (
which had previously happened to two Canadians).
The machinery was subsequently purchased and contracts obtained to produce cases for Swiss brands.
In 1929 one hundred staff were engaged in watch case manufacture.
For whatever reason Handley and Tilley parted ways in 1934, with Tilley
signing an agreement not to work in the industry for a given time.
In December of the same year all the assets of Handley & Tilley were sold to J W Handley P/L.
Up to this point the trademark had been an open hand with the text HANTILY.
After the split, the logo was changed to HANDLEY.
(the Handley and Tilley company was officially deregistered on 11/4/1935)
In 1935 Handley launched legal action against Tilley for breach of the
1934 covenant when Tilley set up a company in his wife’s name and
starting making cases and trying to poach customers from J W Handley
P/L. Handley won the case and received 1000 Pounds in damages.
J W Handley went on until the 1960’s and made a great variety of
products- during WWII they produced such things as compass cases and gun
sights for the military. Handley eventually ceased production in the
The story of a once successful Australian manufacturing business which
failed to extend it’s life past the owners life is a good lesson for us.
Would Handley be still around if he was able to expand from
manufacturing to retail? Why was he unable to grow the partnership with
Rolex and Omega? Why was no one on his team interested in taking the
business over and taking it to next level? Whatever is the case, it is
clear that keeping the business alive and relevant beyond one generation
As we are setting ourselves up for ‘manufacturing in Australia’,
planning for the future is clearly the most important step. (To be