Thursday, August 26, 2021

Can a business incentivise employees to get vaccinated?

An uncomfortable question to ask. The proverbial can of worms has been opened, and the lid was thrown over the fence.

In short, there is no definite answer to this complex issue. 

Over 40 subscribers made their case, many going into detail. It would be unfair and unprofessional to quote, or even worse, to paraphrase or digest experts’ comments; this is not a job for a watchmaker. However, it is obvious that there are three major approaches that businesses are using to ‘handle’ the issue.

Before we go there, let's point out the obvious: if as a business owner you intend to act in any way, seek professional advice or at least, do your own research. Don't rush into it, or blindly copy someone's solution because copy and paste may not work. Such an approach can actually cause more harm than good.

1. "Brute force"

Make the vaccination and testing compulsory to all employees. Those who refuse to get vaccinated are required to provide negative test results every 3 days. Businesses which have implemented brute force techniques are reporting amazingly high vaccination rates. Also, they are confident that the Government is "silently behind them". Beware: while the Government may be sympathetic to businesses taking matters into their own hands, only a handful of industries have an official blessing. What works for health workers may not necessarily work for watchmakers or machinists. 

Quite frankly, I was shocked at Alan Joyce's comment that any staff that refused the covid vaccination as part of the Qantas ‘no jab, no job’ policy will have decided that "aviation is not the area for them". Can you seriously say that to a pilot with 30 years’ experience? I certainly cannot and will not corner my highly trained employees who are vital and irreplaceable.

2. "Softly and gently"

There are many cases where throwing a few dollars on a problem could do wonders, but any solution that can be bought with money alone is a cheap solution. Unfortunately, monetary incentive is problematic in a number of ways: it opens a business to discrimination. If an employee has a genuine reason not to be vaccinated, then he could feel discriminated against with the incentive policy. If he develops a health problem a day or five years later, then he could potentially sue the business for damages. A business cannot offer an incentive to employees yet to be vaccinated; the offer has to be retroactive and apply to those who are already vaccinated. Money exchanging hands is an accounting issue. A fellow subscriber, a barrister and an expert in employment matters offered his advice: "Nick, go for it, I see no legal issue here, and if you get sued, I'll defend you for free." He said that in all earnest, but what I heard is: "If the parachute fails to open, the funeral is on us".
Softly and gently may work for employees, but it is costly and unnecessary to the business. 

3. “Sit tight and watch” 

Put emotions aside - the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In the kind of pandemic we are in now, doing absolutely nothing is an option as good as any. Until we get better understanding of what is really going on, the severity of crisis and health implications, rattling and fiddling with employment arrangements could be counterproductive. At the end of the day, our goal should be to survive, regroup and move on. While it is difficult to estimate what percentage of businesses will opt for "sit and wait", right now the idea of treading cautiously does make a lot of sense. At the end of the day, neither brute force nor coercion will make business relationships stronger. Empathy and cooperation will.

Judging by your replies and suggestions, one thing is clear: the vast majority of us here are normal people. Passionate, and perhaps, confused, but well intended. And the good news is that no matter what, common sense will prevail, and most of us will survive this madness. I am happy to say that I got my second Pfizer at exactly 10:30 today. The whole process from arranging the vaccination to the vaccination itself was smooth, and professionally conducted by health workers. I have no reason to doubt medical science nor to question the Government’s intentions. I am taking a calculated risk and I am perfectly happy with my choice. And equally, I respect your choice too. 
For further reading:

Last night I had a nightmare


- one of those intense, detailed, action packed nightmares that felt more real than reality itself. Yes, in full colour. Hundreds of faces, thousands of people attending some kind of Government sponsored air show event. Bobby and Andrew tried to drag me on stage where Buzz Aldrin was signing Moon memorabilia, but I was busy trying to find the owner of a wallet loaded with cash (red Swiss francs notes)! The dilemma was tearing me apart: should I look for the owner, or instead, hand the wallet to someone at the 'lost and found’ desk?  Like a fish out of water, I was grasping for a solution for a problem imposed on me with no will of my own. As time went by, the crowd was thinning. Eventually, I stood there by myself, in the middle of a field, holding onto someone's property, feeling an enormous burden of responsibility.
I hear you. There could be only one explanation for such substantially altered state of sub-consciousness: an overdose on a psychedelic called Gladys.
But I wasn't on Gladys. The serotine kick was a result of a two and a half hour late night interview with Roman the Podcaster and Alex the Regulator from the Fifth Wrist ( collective.
... to be continued...

Back to 1984!

For a keen student of horology, there is no better 'time travel machine'  than watch catalogues which provide accurate snapshots of the ever revolving door of watch fashion.
Today we are traveling back to 1984. What was in - and what was out?

Contrary to one would expect - out of hundreds of watches on offer, Seiko had only two divers watches: Gold Tuna PYF018 in Titanium and PYF028 in steel. Both were powered by a high precision quartz mechanism calibre 7549. 
Clearly, in 1984 divers and sports models were a hard sell for Seiko. What sold like hot chips were digital ‘combo’ watches.

Both volumes list page after page of duo timers offering stop watch, alarm and count down time functions in sleek, slim line cases.
One could have had five or six of them for a price of a Golden Tuna! Lady’s fashion: even more slim liners, both on leather strap or matching bracelet. And millions of pendant watches in all shapes and forms.
Gong through the 1984 catalogue one would quickly conclude that we were definitely less concerned about time and timekeeping and more abut form, design and fashion.

Demand for ‘fine art of mechanical watchmaking’ was simply not there any more; neither in Switzerland and especially not so in Japan. It would take another two decades for major manufacturers to ‘rediscover’ their roots, and this is why we considered the 80s and 90s as lost decades of horology. 

Yet there was one humble timepiece which remained as relevant as ever: Seiko railway pocket watch. The pocket watch which has seen and marked the technological milestones of timekeeping, yet remained practically unchanged for almost 100 years.

In 1984 RW was fitted with the same robust quartz calibre movement as the Golden Tuna (cal 7550).

And here is my prediction so mark my words - one day, sooner or later, Seiko railway pocket watches will be fitted with Astron GPS solar movements! Can’t wait for it!

Friday, August 13, 2021

Naomi Uemura

Naomi Uemura was a Japanese adventurer who was known particularly for his solo exploits. For example, he was the first man to reach the North Pole solo, the first man to raft the Amazon solo, and the first man to climb Denali solo. He disappeared a day after his 43rd birthday while attempting to climb Denali in the winter.

Uemura dreamed of soloing across Antarctica and climbing that continent's highest peak, Vinson Massif. In preparation, in 1976 he did a solo sled-dog run from Greenland to Alaska, in two stages and 363 days. He set a record for the long-distance record for a dog-sled journey at 12,000 kilometres.

In August 1970, Uemura climbed Denali peak, Alaska, becoming the first person to reach the top alone. He did this quickly and with a light pack (8 days up, versus an average of 14 days or so; 55-pound (25 kg) pack, versus an average probably twice that). August is after the end of the normal climbing season. While the weather he faced was not terrible, the mountain was almost empty with only four other people on it. Though many people have climbed Denali alone since Uemura, most do it in the middle of the climbing season.

Denali winter ascent

Uemura then prepared to climb Denali again solo in winter; however, for people unfamiliar with Alaskan climbing, the difficulty of a winter ascent can often be misjudged. Nobody had successfully climbed any large Alaskan peak in winter until 1967 when Gregg Blomberg organized an expedition that got to the top of Denali (Blomberg himself did not summit). This team lost one member and nearly lost the remaining members in a storm on the way down. Team member Art Davidson's book, Minus 148, recounts the events of the climb and was named after the storm that jeopardized the team.

There is a high degree of danger with glacier travel, and even short treks across the ice are considered hazardous. For example, glaciers are often broken with cracks, called crevasses, that are often covered with snow and not visible. Due to these occurrences as well as other underlying factors, an ascent is both very difficult and very dangerous to attempt without a team.

Uemura had developed a "self-rescue" device which consisted of bamboo poles tied over his shoulders. The poles would span any crevasse into which he fell and allow him to pull himself out. He planned a very light run, with only a 18 kg pack plus sled. He kept his gear light by planning to sleep in snow caves and therefore freeing himself from needing to carry a tent. He also skimped on fuel and planned to eat cold food.

He began his climb in early February 1984 and reached the summit on February 12. Sometime later, climbers would find the Japanese flag that he left at the summit.


On February 13, 1984, one day after his 43rd birthday, Uemura spoke by radio with Japanese photographers who were flying over Denali, saying that he had made the top and descended back to 5,500 m. He planned to reach the base camp in another two days but never made it.

There appeared to be high winds near the top, and the temperature was around −50 °F (−46 °C). Planes flew over the mountain but did not see him that day. He was spotted around 5,100 m the next day (presumably on the ridge just above the headwall). However, complications with the weather made further searching difficult.

It was likely that Uemura was running out of fuel at this point, but because of his reputation, nobody wanted to send a rescue party for fear it would offend him. Doug Geeting, one of the bush pilots who had been "Uemura spotting" over the previous week, said, "If it were anybody else, we'd have somebody [a rescuer] on the mountain already". On February 20, the weather had cleared, and Uemura was nowhere to be found. There was no sign of his earlier camp at 5,100 m and no evidence that caches left by other climbers nearby had been disturbed.

Two experienced climbers were dropped at 4,300 m to begin a search. Though another storm came in, they stayed on the mountain until February 26, finding a cave in which Uemura had stayed at 4,300 m on the way up, but no sign of Uemura himself. A diary found in the cave revealed that Uemura had left gear there to lighten his load on the summit push. He had also left his self-rescue poles back at 2,900 m, knowing he was past the worst crevasse fields. Most people figured he had fallen on his descent of the headwall and been hurt, died, and was buried by snow. Another theory is that he could have made it to 4,300 m (which is the base of the headwall) and then fallen into one of the many crevasses there and perished.

The diary found in the cave has been published in Japanese and English. It describes the conditions that Uemura suffered—the crevasse falls, -40° weather, frozen meat, and inadequate shelter. The diary entries showed him to be in good spirits and documented the songs he sang to stay focused on his task.

The last entry read, "I wish I could sleep in a warm sleeping bag. No matter what happens I am going to climb McKinley."


Uemura is remembered not only as a gifted climber and a driven adventurer but also as a gentle, self-effacing man who cared about others. In the words of Jonathan Waterman, "[Just as remarkable] as his solo achievements were his sincere modesty and unassuming nature. Another part of his greatness lay in his deep interest in everyone he met." Uemura gave frequent public lectures and wrote about his travels. His adventure books for children were popular in Japan.
And his watch of choice? A Seiko. Ref. 6105, in fact. Uemura wore the 6105 on a 12,500km solo dog sled run from Greenland to Alaska in 1976, and collectors have speculated that he wore the watch on a '78 North Pole expedition.

In Uemura's honour, Seiko have now created two Uemura watches: limited edition blue dial SLA049J , and a non-limited version of the watch with a textured grey dial and black bezel, SLA051J.

Both feature the 8L35 movement which comes out of Seiko's Shizukuishi Watch Studio in Northern Japan. Additionally, the case on these watches features Seiko's "super-hard" coating. Think of them as 'top of the range' Seiko Divers.

Captain Willard or Naomi Uemura?

We should stop calling the 6105 releases Captain Willard. In a way, it is disrespectful. Captain Willard is merely a fictional character in an iconic film, Naomi Uemura was a real-life 20th-century explorer whose accomplishments are nothing short of incredible.

As I type this, I have two black SLA051J on my desk. I will be keeping one for myself. The second watch is ready to go to a new home. To an owner who will appreciate this masterpiece for what it really is. To an enthusiastic owner who will keep the story of a legend explorer alive. 

SLA051J comes with the boutique price of $4,595. Your price – today only – is $3,888. This is a ‘subscriber’s only’ price and as said, valid if the watch is paid in full, today.
However, before you click away, please do me a favour. Check out the story about Uemura's 'other' watch from a brand which became famous by giving away watches:
Oh, the irony...

Naomi Uemura story and photo: Wikipedia.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Seiko of the day: 62MAS re-issue CHOCOLATE

In 1965 Seiko introduced the 62MAS: the original professional divers watch. The nickname "62MAS" comes from the first two digits of the reference number - 62 - and MAS from "auto[MA]tic [S]elfdater," or what we would call today 'an automatic movement with date'.

Over the years, 62MAS has been recreated a number of times. The latest incarnation released in 2021 is the Seiko SPB239J. 

Surely, you can find dozens of reviews of this watch online, but none of them are written by watch dealers or watchmakers.
For a simple reason: dealers are simply too busy focusing on Rolex's and Patek's while watchmakers hardly speak of anything watch related at all.

Yet right now, this chocolate beauty is probably the most important watch on the Australian market, equally attractive to collectors who 'have them all' as well as novice enthusiasts, looking for a first decent watch.
Let me share my thoughts.

1. This is a really well made watch. Or, as I would like to call it, a 'mature, well defined' timepiece. It simply speaks quality. Dial, hands, sapphire crystal and chocolate bezel - all perfectly integrated and colour coordinated - down to the NATO strap. As someone who handles watches in the $5,000- $10,000 price range daily, I can honestly testify that the quality of this Seiko does not come short of any divers watches priced significantly more.

2. This is a fully waterproof professional divers watch, not a toy. Exactly what you would expect from a Japanese made high precision instrument. When you hold it in your hand, you can feel why Seiko is so proud of their achievement. 

3. It is a versatile piece. Meaning: you can dress it up or down; re-fit it on a rubber, silicone or leather strap - and the watch would effortlessly 'follow' your personal style. Straight case lugs would accept almost any 20mm leather strap, and drilled holes would allow for effortless quick change. You simply don't get this with many other 'professional' watches.

4. Today, I have tested three SPB239J for timekeeping, beat error and amplitude. All three watches performed much better than promised by Seiko's publicly advertised rates. And what is even more exciting: all three could be adjusted for even better performance, close to Swiss COSC certificate. Yes, the 6R35 mechanism is Toyota of horology, but this mechanism is easy to service and easy to repair by almost any semi-decent watchmaker, anywhere in the world, today, and in 20 years from now. SPB239J is a watch not just worth buying; it is a watch worth keeping and repairing. 

5. The price is right: listed at $1,895 it is not a bargain, yet this is more than a FAIR PRICE for a very decent watch. 

Why you should buy one today?

Two reasons: the time to give Seiko a chance is now. Countless watch collectors around the world have already recognized the obvious: in 2021 Seiko is entering the under $2K market segment intentionally vacated by Swiss brands. The second reason is for piece of mind: if you buy SPB239J from me, I will make sure that your watch is fully functional in years to come. You support me, I will support you by investing in spare parts, and will continue to employ and train young Australian watchmakers. Swiss said no and slammed the door in my face; Seiko said yes, and opened the door wide.

Welcome in.

NH3: A major step towards true independence

What is NH3?

A quick overview: a few years ago, our journey started with our 'rebelde' project—the creation of a small Australian watch brand. The second phase of this project was a desire to design and make watch components in Australia, which culminated with NH1—the first watch ever "Manufactured in Australia". This was then followed by our NH2—an exotic Timascus watch mechanism. While the NH3 follows the same blueprint, it contains even more components manufactured 'in house', including a newly-developed guilloche titanium dial and titanium hands. As such, it is a major step in our journey.

What else is new?

A new dial and hands are the most obvious feature of the NH3. In addition, it contains numerous components developed and machined in our workshop, especially those in the winding system. All these components required us developing and manufacturing fixtures, jigs and holding tools in-house, as well as unique processes like gear hobbing and gold plating, to name just a few.

What makes the NH3 so special?

Titanium guilloche as well as internal timascus parts are not just a first in Australia, but at this point in time, to our knowledge, no other watchmaker—small or large—offers such a special 'threat' to watch collectors and enthusiasts. It is also the culmination of years of research and development, or as we like to say: this is our best, most independent watch to date.

Taking orders now

As of August 1, 2021, we will have our first, fully working NH3 watch. We are very close to finalising our design, and mainplates and bridges are already in production. The first watches from the batch of 25 are expected to be ready for delivery in three months, with the final pieces reaching their new owners by Christmas. Our price: $A7900 including GST. To secure your watch, a 50 per cent deposit is required upfront, with balance payable before delivery.

Securing your serial number

If you wish to secure a particular serial number, full payment is required upfront. Numbers 02/25 to 25/25 are available on a 'first in, best dressed' basis.

Technical details

The NH3 features a brass gold-plated movement, manual winding, and a Timascus crown wheel 'hat'. Hand-polished screws and components are featured in the winding section. It also boasts a guilloche titanium dial and titanium hands, titanium case with see-through case back, and sapphire crystal. Case size: 45mm. The watch comes with black and brown croco calf leather straps. Water resistant to 10bar.  Power reserve 36 hours.

Customization and personalization 

While creating a custom guilloche pattern and hands style is a possibility, our goal is to offer the NH3 at a very attractive price. However, should you wish to have a custom guilloche dial, custom hands or hands/indices in a colour other than blue, we are happy to discuss your individual requirements. If you prefer to have the mechanism finished with rhodium rather than gold, the additional rhodium plating process would cost A$500 per watch.  Please keep in mind that custom watches will require full payment upfront and will be subject to additional manufacturing and assembly time.

Ready to order?

The best way to place your order is via email:
Placing your order sooner rather than later is appreciated. Our watchmaking machining capabilities are shared with other contract manufacturing projects. For that reason, even under 'normal' conditions, machine time allocation has to be planned at least two months in advance.

As always, we appreciate your support for 'Manufactured in Australia'. Thank you for your patronage.

Seiko of the day: GUCCIMAZE


Yuta Kawaguchi
Born 1989 in Kanagawa, Japan. Graduated from the Department of Visual Communication Design at Musashino Art University.
After working for a design agency, he began working independently in 2018. Based in Tokyo, he creates work for Japan and abroad, collaborating with numerous artists and brands.
He has become known for his unique graphic style-three-dimensional typographic forms that convey a sense of tangible sharpness, set in vivid, venomous colour schemes. As a graphic designer, he has also
created brand logos, editorial designs and websites.
His principal works include providing graphics for Fetty Wap and Post Malone, creating album jacket for US rapper Nicki Minaj, and creating the album title logo for Flying Lotus. He has also served as a judge for Red Bull's #RedBullCanArt competition and collaborated with global companies, including event visuals for Budweiser and promotional visuals for Adidas. Regardless of the medium, he creates works that involve the cultural scene of music and fashion.

Guccimaze Seiko 5 is a limited and numbered edition of only 1500 watches worldwide. We only received one, so this is your chance to snatch it.

Would I wear it? Hell no - this is a watch for a young, trendy and cool kid. A designer or an artist. Perhaps a skater, or graffiti vandal. The kind of watch that would cheer up a tragic clown. Or just a perfect watch for a tragic watch collector. 

Model reference: SRPG65K
Case size: 42.5mm