Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The River of Life

For those who follow our NH3 project: a major break-through.

Last night Josh completed the first successful guilloche dial blank in Titanium. This is a quite big deal for a number of reasons: the guilloche pattern generation and creation is no longer a mystery - we now have a very good understanding of how guilloche 'works'. Also, we are able to shape the profile of the carbide cutter to create perfect cuts. Thirdly, we are very pleased with the fact that the guilloche in titanium is not just possible, but the end result is eye-pleasing. Guilloche is a different kind of cutting process to milling or engraving because the cutter is scribing the surface, forming a constant and consistent chip. The sharpness and edge quality of the cutting tool directly correlates to the finish of the pattern. The pattern in high grade guilloche should be a mirror finish. Cutting a mirror finish in brass, silver or gold is relatively easy, but guilloche in titanium is very difficult - almost unheard of.
Quite frankly, we don't know of any other watchmaker who offers titanium guilloche dials so this is, at the very least, another 'first in Australia' for NHW.
The dial numerals, batons and maker's name plate are next - so sooner or later, perhaps in a month or two, we will have a complete in-house titanium guilloche dial.
Josh said that the dial pattern on this particular dial reminds him of 'the waves of Curl Curl beach'. Curl Curl is the closest beach to our workshop, at a distance of precisely 1970 meters. Its name is derived from the Aboriginal "Curial Curial" meaning river of life.
If you happen to know of any other Ti-guilloche dial project, please do let us know.
Like to learn more about the project? Here is a link to yesterday's recording of dial making in progress:

An Annual General Meeting - all welcome

We owe you. It has been 13 months since the last project update - and you, our loyal supporters, have the right to know what is going on with our 'Manufactured in Australia' project.
The past year was tough, and as I type this, the future is equally uncertain. This is true for any business - small or large; and especially so for start-ups and micro brands who run on dreams while burning hard earned cash.
The title of our live stream is "How to make a watch without going bankrupt". The question mark at the end of sentence is intentionally omitted. This is not a question we would be asking ourselves. It is a statement, company credo and a policy.
Josh, Andrew and I will do our best to present you with the facts and answer all of your questions in real time, unscripted. As we call it: Horology Live and Uncut.
Check out the YouTube video:                 

Monday, July 19, 2021

Just one click away

They say you should not mix business with pleasure, but this is precisely what our plan is all about. 

Recently we fell in love with the magical world of mechanical cameras, the small spark of passion quickly turned into wildfire - and before we knew it, we were surrounded by cameras, lenses, photo magazines, bags, and rolls of film. Quickly we figured out not only that film is still alive, but that it never died, and passion for film is greater than ever.

Like in any religion, and film is certainly a religion in itself, there is a promise to every follower - when you capture those very special moments in time and record it on film, you have earned the right to call yourself a ‘moment collector’. That moment captured on film, becomes immortal - what more can a mortal ask for. 

The convenience of taking photos with a smartphone, the speed of the process and the quality of the result is something that film pioneers could have only dreamed about, but old fashioned mechanical cameras, and old fashion celluloid film help us to capture the moments in unmistakable ways.

Unfortunately iconic mechanical cameras are disappearing fast - the only way to make them available for the next generation of artists is to preserve them, restore them, collect them and catalog them. Creating a Vintage camera boutique in the heart of Sydney is going to be a long term project, but today we are inviting you to visit us and check out our humble offering. If you see a camera that you like, we would be happy to help you; but what we really want is for you to go into your cupboard, dust off that vintage camera you already have, buy a few rolls of film and rejoin the movement. 
Check out our website here:
If you haven't shot with film in a while then you'll be surprised and possibly overwhelmed with todays offerings - not sure which film is right for you? Send us an email and we will be happy to assist.

Our ultimate goal is to offer you the best deal possible deal on film - not only will we match any Australian retailers price advertised, but this month we will ship film free of charge. Go to:

NEW: Just released Seiko Captain Willard SPB237J

Just announced - and just released in Australia !

The new texture dial Captain Willard is a serious watch. And by serious, I mean scary.
Forget about the luxury, horological art, collectability - the new Willard is simply a tool watch to it's core.
A watch made for a soldier. A commando or a tank driver. Case size: 42.7mm.

Photo below is of a young Australian soldier, taken in Vietnam in 1967. He was wearing a Rolex 5513 he bought on a stopover in Singapore. Others Aussies bought a Seiko which was much more affordable. Many of those humble Seiko's survived not just Vietnam, but lasted for decades, some still in regular use. 
I am not going to go into details - people from 'A blog to watch' have done all the hard work, so just check their article
Finally: why would you want to buy a Seiko from anyone else – especially from an online marketer who is just there for quick profit? From someone who sells a watch yet has absolutely NO CLUE what makes that Seiko tick?
Someone who, once the online business model becomes obsolete, moves onto something else - or disappears completely?

Here is a photo of myself, taken 36 years ago, in 1985, when I was 23 years old, running my OWN BUSINESS repairing Seiko watches! 36 years ago I already had ten years behind-the-bench experience, an endless stream of customers to take care of and be responsible for. If your Captain Willard stops for whatever reason, just send it back to me and I will take care of it, personally. This is a GUARANTEE that no other Australian business owner can offer, and a guarantee worth your investment.

Happy to serve YOU.

"So why does my NH Rebelde look like a Panerai?"

A couple of days ago, Hodinkee published an article on Panerai manual wind watches featuring California dials.

The post created a fair bit of interest amongst Rebelde owners, with some asking 'is my watch really just a copy of a Panerai California dial?'
The short answer is yes, your Rebelde does look like a Panerai rip-off. With further explanation: the California dial is not a Panerai invention. Dials featuring both Roman and Arabic numerals goes back to at least 1930s when a number of watch brands - big and small- made similar styled watches.
In the 1930's Rolex was still just another 'wannabe watch brand' with a rather modest manufacturing capability. Meaning: mostly putting their name on other maker's movements. But Rolex was already onto something big: better than any of his competitors, Hans Wilsdorf understood and embraced the power of marketing, turning a humble 'put together' watch business into a mega brand. Following the simple recipe: make inexpensive watches; fit them with as many dial variations as possible and advertise heavily. That strategy created an illusion that Rolex was a much bigger brand then it really was. Some dials were more popular than others; but Rolex continued to push the California style well into the 1950s. Rolex was also suppling watches to the Italian Navy via a distributor by the name Giuseppe Panerai, an accountant and businessman. (Side note: from 1972 to 1999 Panerai was just another military supplier struggling to stay in business, with a total number of employees averaging around 30. Panerai made an attempt to get into watch business in 1993 but that venture folded up quickly, with the name being sold to Cartier in 1999).   

It is true that the California dial is popular thanks to brands like Rolex in the 1930s and new Richemont Panerai in the early 2000, but historically, the style itself originated before those brands made it popular.

When 'Rebelde' was born in 2013, the California dial was still a big hit, and an obvious choice for a young brand in the embryonic stage.
And yes, if you are interested in a California dial manual wind watch – made for a large wrist – then we have two models in line: the 44mm steel ‘Control Tower’ (production run of 75 watches, price $2,500) and the 45mm Titanium ‘Rebelde D’ $3,500, batch of fifty.

Control Tower - $2,500
Titanium D - $3,500
Clearly, our intention is to keep producing California dial watches in years to come, as well as keeping Rebelde watches in perfect working order – forever.                         

Friday, July 2, 2021

Zenith Chronometer Telemeter Quad Tachymeter

What mouthful of horology!

To understand this very special Zenith El Primero, one has to travel back to the 1940s. To a time when mechanical chronographs were rare, expensive and built for a specific purpose: as essential military tool watches. A good quality military chronograph was so rare and precious that they were only issued to high ranking officers; and hence the name has stuck to this day.
In general the four most common types of chronographs are: a simple stop watch for timing an event, a stopwatch with tachymeter scale for calculating speed over distance, a chronograph for measuring pulse (also known as a doctor's watch) and a chrono with telemeter scale. 
During WW2 it was the telemeter chronograph that was especially sought after and most useful for a field or naval officer. 
The scale is graded from 0-20 and often, but not always, marked as 'Telemeter Km'. The 'mile' version was graded as 1-13. Telemeter was used to measure distance from the firing artillery. The stopwatch was activated when the blast was seen, then stopped when gunfire was heard. For example, if the timing between two events was 25 seconds, then enemy's tanks were 8.4km away. 

The second useful scale on a chronograph was tachymeter.
It allowed measurement of speed over a predefined distance. For example, if a car travels 1 kilometer in 15 seconds, than its speed is 240km per hour. This calculation can be read directly from the bezel. This type of tachymeter is also known as "base 1000" because the length 'base' is 1000 units, but there is no need to specify kilometres or miles, because unlike with telemeter, calculation is the same for both units of measurement.

During the 1940s two common tachymeters were in use: those to measure speed of aircrafts and those to measure speed of land vehicles. It is easy to tell the difference: the fast flying aircrafts tachymeters start at 900, while land speed was not expected to exceed 300km. 
In the 1950s and 60's racing drivers pushed the 'need for speed' even higher, as seen on the Speedmaster tachymeter bezels.
However, those direct reading tachymeters with high 'base scale' were less useful for slow moving means of transport like - bicycles or horse riders. Obviously, a simple calculation would be sufficient to measure speed, but users preferred direct reading from what we call double and triple tachymeters. A triple one would have three different bases on the dial, incorporated in a spiral. 
For example: in the case of Zenith, the most outer scale reads speed from 60 - 500km, the middle one from 30 to 60, and the central from 20 to 30 and the most inner scale from 15 to 20. In order to distinguish between tachymeter, chrono and telemeter, such chronographs would have either red or yellow numbers and a corresponding chrono hand. 

Telemeter quad tachymeter is a very cool timepiece, highly respected for its historical utility and clearly defined purpose. In the case of the Zenith El Primero, an additional date and automatic function with high beat escapement makes the watch stand out from the rest. A keen and sophisticated watch collector would easily recognize the value and uniqueness.

Price? A bargain! Originally sold for around $12,000, this rarely seen Zenith is priced at a very affordable $7,600. Complete set, steel, 44mm case. Currently fitted on a NH Horween leather strap, but will be supplied with the original Zenith deployant clasp.

NH photos of the watches documented are in Giampierro Negretti "Patek Phillipe" book. 

Cosmic Girl and Launcher One have made it!

I watched the live video streaming until around 1am, to the point when ground station lost the signal; literally seconds from the satellites being dropped off into orbit. What a drama! At the end, it all went well. Quite frankly, I am still trying to absorb the magnitude of the fact that a part machined in our workshop is now in space, orbiting the earth. 

But life goes on and today, Josh and James are back to their 'normal' routine designing, making, learning and constantly improving their skills.
And we are back to selling watches.

Yet there is one more thing that is worth pointing out: we live in strange times. If you are a maker of anything, and you feel that your product or project deserves a bit of attention, then you should really brace yourself for some harsh reality: most people simply could not care less about you or your product. We live in times were everyone else out there is just busy caring about themselves.

A YouTube channel about putting satellites into orbit in a revolutionary new way by space engineers, backed up by a company that literally invented marketing 40 years ago has under 14K subscribers.
On the other hand, a video of a video game commentator which goes under the name PewDiePie drawing an airplane received 35 million views. The fact that loser has a following of 110 million brainwashed YouTube subscribers is beyond my comprehension.

BREAKING NEWS: To the skies and beyond!

Following the team’s successful orbital launch demonstration in January, “Tubular Bells: Part One” marks the next big step in Virgin Orbit’s commercial service. For this mission to space, LauncherOne will carry to space payloads for three customers from three different countries: the U.S. Department of Defence Space Test Program, Polish satellite firm SatRevolution, and the Royal Netherlands Air Force.
The livestream will be broadcast live, and kicks off at 22:30pm Sydney time on June 30th, 2021. That is in approximately 12 hours from now.
You can watch it here:
One of the satellites inside the LauncherOne, soon to be released in space, contains parts manufactured in Australia - precisely - in our Brookvale workshop.
We are extremely proud that a part we have manufactured will soon orbit the earth and stay in space - for many years to come!
This is simply as big as it gets, a dream come true for any manufacturer, let alone for small Aussie watchmakers.
Note from Josh:

"Over the last 18 months or so our manufacturing facility in Brookvale has been getting more and more attention from niche industries that require high precision, small parts to be made. We have made parts that get used with medical devices, instruments that will be used in extremely high end research, and have worked with the absolute cutting edge of materials- many parts come through our doors with the preface "No-one in Australia could do it- can you?".
Most recently we have been making parts for the space sector. As you might have heard in the news, there has been a massive push to build Australia's space industry. From the decision to restart our space agency, to the massive efforts by private companies to start providing space borne services, it feels like a gold rush! I’ve always maintained, Australia has some of the best IP and human talent in the world. When the right people get together, magic like WiFi, Cochlear hearing implants and Resmed sleep apnoea devices are birthed.
To say that we are proud is understatement. This is the proof in the pudding- the hard work, long hours, head scratching and hyper focus have all paid off. With the NH1 we proved to the world that we can make watches in Australia- the NH2 Timascus proved that we can innovate and make something completely unique, the (coming) NH3 will be yet another step forward, but having a part into orbit, is the nod of approval we never thought we'd get."

"One step ahead of the rest"

Kintarō Hattori was one of the first and most important Japanese watchmakers in history.

In 1881 at the age of 21, Hattori established his first business 'K. Hattori & Co.', opening his own watchmaking shop. At 25 years old, K. Hattori initiated trade with the Swiss firms based in Yokohama, focusing on wholesaling and retailing of imported Swiss timepieces. After almost two decades of retailing Swiss watches from foreign firms, Hattori decided to manufacture his own watches locally, establishing a watchmaking factory in Tokyo called "Seikosha".

Following the great success of his first Japanese manufactured timepieces, he travelled to Europe to inspect and purchase machinery tools to keep up with western technology and productivity. With great success, Hattori returned to Japan with new watchmaking equipment and several new production lines were born as a consequence. At the age of 35, he launched a line of pocket watches called the "Timekeeper" and just a few years later released his first line of alarm clocks, in 1899. By 1905, K. Hattori had expanded his trading operations all over Japan as well as Shanghai and Hong Kong, and becoming the largest watch and clock dealer in Japan. In 1913, aged 53, Kintarō Hattori manufactured and introduced the first Japanese wristwatch: the "Laurel." 

In 1924, he created and launched the company Seiko, a brand that would later revolutionize watchmaking with the introduction of the first quartz movement, becoming the world's largest watch manufacturer. K. Hattori died in 1934, at the age of 73, in Tokyo, Japan.

Kintarō Hattori’s words of wisdom: 

One step ahead of the rest.
“Merchants must stay a step ahead of the rest, but just one step. If they stay too many steps ahead they will be seen as prophets, too far removed from reality. Merchants should not be prophets.” “I started purchasing goods from foreign trading companies while others were still doing business with their peers; I was importing goods directly while others were only starting their transactions with foreign companies; I was already producing goods on my own when others were starting to import directly; and I was searching for something new when others were starting to produce.” 

Don't hurry, don't stop.
Kintaro touted “Don’t hurry, don’t stop” as his life lesson.
“You should aspire without limits and move forward step by step, neither stopping nor hurrying.
It is better to do something continuously, perpetually and untiringly than to hustle and fail.”

Customers always favor a quality product (a superior product is the basis of prosperity)
Kintaro was strongly determined to “make a Seiko (= precise) timepiece” from the very beginning. His bold plan was expressed in the name of his production company, the Seikosha Factory. He was convinced that only a quality product could earn the trust of customers and form the foundations for a business.
He knew that the “manufacture of precise products of the highest quality” was the surest way to achieve his high aim of establishing a timepiece industry in Japan and passing it down to future generations.

Keep any promise (whatever difficulties I suffer).
“Foreign trading companies were very helpful to me in my small shop. They trusted me and came to me first when they had something rare or unconventional to sell. This enabled me to offer an extensive lineup of clocks and watches, replete with rarities seen nowhere else, which attracted a number of customers… Why did foreign companies come to my small shop first? Because I never fell behind in my bills.”
Common sense is a key to opening the door to profits
“Don’t get bogged down by discount pricing. Set your price a little higher and make profits from a quality product.”

On today’s offer: Kintarō Hattori “160th Anniversary” Astron SSH073J 

Case back engraved with Kintaro’s famous words: “One step ahead of the rest” and Seikosha symbol. Black titanium and ceramic, the latest 5X53 movement. Dual time zone, GPS, perpetual calendar. 42.8mm case size.