Monday, February 7, 2022

Apollo 11, James Bond, Inception, Ocean's 11, and more...


The 'briefcase with something important in it' is a film trope as old as time, but when the stakes are high - who do you trust to carry your cash, nuclear codes, extra terrestrial samples, diamonds, or biological weapons? Why Zero Halliburton of course. 

While the name Zero Halliburton might not ring any bells, I can guarantee that you have seen one of their luxury cases in action, more specifically, in action films. In fact, their cases have appeared in over 200 notable films which includes Inception, Quantum of Solace, Men in Black, Independence day, Mission impossible, Ocean's 11, Air force one, The Big Lebowski and too many others to list. Often acting as a Macguffin, these cases and their classic brushed aluminium design have become iconic on the silver screen and beyond. Zero Halliburton even helped to create the cases that were sent on the Apollo 11 mission to retrieve lunar samples, and carry the precious cargo back to Earth. They are the ultimate 'handle anything' travellers cases.

With strength, durability, and dependability at the forefront of their products, who better to pair with than a company who stands for the same very thing with their products - Seiko. Using one of Seiko's newer releases (the Presage sharp edge series) as the base, they designed the dial, and the bezel colour scheme around this collaboration. With the dial having the iconic double-ribbed pattern of Zero Halliburton's cases, and the bezel having the deep blue colour accent of their 'Pursuit Aluminium series' handles.
To commemorate the collaboration, the watch is also packaged in a Zero Halliburton polycarbonate case, with the box having the same iconic double-ribbed design of a classic Zero Halliburton case. This is the perfect little travel case for a watch, protected with thick foam padding, and with a pocket on the inside for tools and extra straps as well.

On offer today is two limited edition Zero Halliburton Seiko, with only 2000 pieces in each release, both the GMT and the classic time only sharp edge Presage. Please note that we only have one of each.
Model reference: SPB269J. 42.2mm case size. Sapphire crystal. Automatic movement. Date function. Power reserve function. GMT function. 100 metres water resistance.

Limited Edition 2,000 pieces worldwide. 

Price: $2,395
Model reference: SPB277J. 39.3mm case size. Sapphire crystal. Automatic movement. Date function. 100 metres water resistance.

Limited Edition 2,000 pieces worldwide. 

Price: $1,750

Disaster strikes!

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Last week our weakest link abruptly made itself known. An M6 bolt roughly 60mm long, corroding away very slowly in the rusty bowels of an old dental compressor.
How could a three cent bolt (probably from China) bring to a grinding halt, the well oiled machine that is Nicholas Hacko Watches you may ask? Put philosophically, an old dog just couldn't learn new tricks. In reality, the haemorrhaging compressor in question that used to supply our water pressure tester with beautifully dry, high pressure air, could no longer cope. We upgraded our water pressure testing equipment from the Witschi Proofmaster S to the Proofmaster Pro shortly before this happening. The increased accuracy of the new machine meant that the system remained under pressure for a little longer. Our 'little engine that could', never stood a chance.
Alas the unit could not be salvaged. So we were forced to upgrade our compressor as well. Until such time, we were unable to release any sold or repaired watches. This was priority numero uno for the entire business, and certainly contributed to several hours of sleep lost. Fortunately, Witschi also sells compressors, manufactured by a formerly German now American partner. The price of the compressor certainly reflected the quality, but can you really put a price on customer confidence? The compressor was here in no time. Crisis averted! However, the outlet to our pressure tester featured a random quick connect fitting that would not work with what we had. Crisis reverted! After what seemed like several hours of anxious scouring online, we found a supplier who could ship the connector we needed in a single business day. Crisis re-averted. We have since fitted and set the new system, and are now back in business. But why so much stress?

Without the ability to pressure test our watches, we can not relay the confidence to our customers that the watches we make, sell, and service, are fit to be worn.
Water pressure testing a watch is not the end of the story, though. It's highly likely your vintage Submariner may only pass a 3 bar test after servicing. And that's not a problem. Because if you are deep sea diving with a vintage Submariner, you might have big problems coming.
I'll explain: 1 Bar of pressure is what you feel when you are at sea level. Barely perceptible, but your watch is under the same pressure. A watch that fails a 1 Bar pressure test will allow humidity to seep in as you are walking around at sea level.
2 Bar is the pressure you would feel if you were approximately 10m below sea level.
3 Bar is the pressure you would feel at 20m below sea level. So on it goes in similar fashion the deeper you swim.

A 'deep dive' is considered to be any dive deeper than 18m. This can only be legally and safely achieved with a professional scuba diving certification. In this way, if you aren't an open water deep sea dive certified scuba diver, any rating over 3 Bar is completely superfluous in regards to what strain you will be putting the watch under.
When you are buying a brand new James Cameron Sea Dweller from Rolex (almost as likely as seeing the Titanic from the Deepsea Challenger with the man himself), you'd be fair to expect it to work to its rated pressure plus 25%. However when you get your Grandfather's vintage Seamaster back from its ninth service, just because it says 300m on the dial, doesn't mean you should rush to get your PADI certification (keeping in mind the sun's light doesn't even go that deep).
If you do desperately want it to be able to go that deep, mentally and financially prepare yourself for the possibility of having the original plexi, crown, crown tube, and maybe even the entire original mid-case and case back replaced. This is obviously not really a possibility in 2022, for independent watchmakers without access to time capsuled spare parts. Most big brands might even have to remanufacture some components. A ship of Theseus issue indeed, assuming a big brand is even going to do that for you.
Water resistance is a feature that must be maintained. Seals must be regularly replaced, the watch should be regularly tested. More often than its minimum service interval. After years of wearing the watch, maybe even a few drops here and there, screwing in and unscrewing the crown, pressing the pushers, you are slowly degrading the integrity of your seals, of your threads, and the seating of your plexi or crystal. You may not lose the rated pressure resistance entirely, but it is being slowly eroded much like the bolt in our old compressor. It worked until it didn't.
All this really just to say: your Grandfather didn't have a cool 'vintage' diver. You do. Maybe he wore it in the surf, maybe in the shower. You shouldn't.

So what do you need to do? Get your watch serviced before it starts showing issues. Generally it's every five years for a big brand Swiss watch.
Second, do not wear a vintage watch in the shower, or the ocean, or a pool. The heat, salt, and chlorine will eventually destroy your seal integrity and that will certainly happen before your five year service interval is up. Rinse any watch (new or old) that's been in a pool or the ocean with fresh water, and then dry it as soon as possible. If you get your watch wet, do not pull out/unscrew the crown or press pushers until you have dried it.
Lastly, be realistic with your expectations and where you take your watches. Can you take your 1937 Bugatti Type 57 race car through a Pikes Peak rally? Of course you can, it's your car. Should you do that?
Probably not.                         

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Hand-made in Arita

The simplest way to describe this watch is understated sophistication, with such an incredible story hidden in the dial. 

Arita, a small town on Kyushu, the third largest island in the southwest of Japan, came to prominence in the early 17th century when clay suitable for porcelain manufacture was discovered there. Its porcelain products soon became highly prized in Japan for the high quality of their artistry.

Within a generation, Arita porcelain, also known as ‘‘Imari ware’’ after the port from which most was shipped, became known overseas. It was exported, first to Europe and later across the world when Japan opened its doors to international trade in the 19th century. Today, Arita porcelain is still highly prized worldwide. Many porcelain makers still thrive in the town of just 20,000 people, thanks to its long tradition of craftsmanship, to the rich variety of its products and to the uniquely Japanese sensibility that they embody.
The heritage of Arita porcelain is respected in the colour of the dials, white with a trace of blue, which was the colour of the earliest Arita porcelain. The dials, which are made in Arita itself, have the rich texture and depth which is the signature of all the finest porcelain.
Arita porcelain was therefore a natural choice for the dials of a Presage collection but the Presage team needed to be 100% confident in its durability and strength. A new type of Arita porcelain material, created just three years ago, provided the solution. This new porcelain is more than four times harder than the usual material and has both the strength and flexibility required for a Presage watch dial.
Producing the dials involves a challenging combination of skill, patience and artistry. First, the base material is put into a special mold which gives dials depth, especially in the version where the power reserve indictor is recessed into the dial with a deep cut.
The dials are dried and then fired for the first time at 1,300 degrees to harden and whiten the material.
Hashiguchi and his craftsmen then apply the glaze by hand, after which the dials are fired again, this time cementing the glaze on to the dial, a process which gives the dials their deep, rich finish and the subtle blue tinge.
Next, the holes for the hands are cut by laser. Finally, the dials are then fired again to render smooth the surfaces that have been cut.

This watch is an incredible display of Japanese artistry and it highlights and supports the highly specialised, niche tradition of Arita Porcelain production. Not only are they produced by hand, but no two dials are the same, with each forming their own specific hues of blue and white and texture during the production process. You can get a better look of the creation of the dial from start to finish in this video below with craftsman Hiroyuki Hashiguchi:
Model reference: SPB267J. 40.6mm case size. Automatic movement with date and power reserve function. Water resistance 100 metres.

Limited Edition to only 2,000 piece worldwide. Individually numbered: 611/2000.

Price: $2,995

NH3 update:

Despite the many New Year wishes across the state for just the opposite, Sydney crawled over the start line for 2022 - Omicron is sweeping through the city (and country) at a ravenous pace, completely devouring any productivity brave enough to stay in it's path. Several staff members, even in our small family team, have over the Christmas break and early January been side-lined due to contraction or close contact isolation.

Unfortunately this has affected both the manufacturing side of the business in Brookvale, and the assembly and testing, here in the city. However, despite the setbacks, the team in Brookvale is almost fully back on track and making the last few components required to complete our assemblies. The team in the city is now out of first gear and beginning to make a dent in the backlog of repairs, and NH3 assembly and delivery to our customers.

Whilst it would be easy to give in to our own internal deadlines, we simply will not accept allocating less than one hundred percent of our energy, concentration, and perfectionist attitude to the NH3 project. If your NH3 isn't on its way already, it will be soon.

Thank you to our ambassadors. The biggest compliment for us is a happy customer. Without your support in times both good and bad, we would surely not have been able to keep going.

Reading time - the Breitling Bezel (part 2)

Great Scott! How many functions are there?

Today we will 'go back' into the many functions of the Breitling bezel (really any pilot watch bezel) and how to read them. In the last part we discussed simple multiplications and divisions. In this part, we will explain some conversions (as most pilot bezels default in miles) from miles to kilometres and vice versa.

First off, let's just reiterate that we are only using the outermost 2 scales on the watch. The outer sliding track printed on the bezel, and the inner fixed track printed on the outer circumference of the dial. The scales are logarithmic in spacing, and printed with very small text, so most of these calculations are a fairly close approximation. Let's also not forgot the decimal dilemma. 10 on the outer scale is also 0.1, 1, 100, 1000, etc, much the same as for the other numbers on the scales.

We use the same calculation on the bezel to convert miles to kilometres, as we do for miles per hour to kilometres per hour (and vice versa, to go from kilometres to miles etc.). For example, let's say we want to find out exactly how fast Marty McFly and Doc got that steam locomotive to travel, when they said 88 miles per hour.
First, 1 kilometre is approximately 0.621 miles. So we align 62.1 on the outer scale, with the 10 (in red) on the fixed scale. Then on the outer scale, find 88. The inner track will display the kilometres conversion (either kilometres, or kilometres per hour) which for us says about 14.15.
This obviously isn't the speed as that would have been very easy to reach, even for a steam locomotive. So we move the decimal place to find approximately 142 kilometres per hour (flat out on straight track, most steam locomotives back then topped out at 40 to 50 miles per hour). The exact answer is 141.6 kilometres.
In much the same way, if you have kilometres you need converted to miles, you do the reverse, without touching the bezel. To find out how many miles it is across Australia, you look for 3860 (kilometres across Australia) on the inner track, to read your miles off the outer track.
Your scale doesn't have 3860? You're only partially correct. It does have 38.6 which is the same number as far as our logarithmic scales are concerned. Looking now to 38.6 on the fixed inner track, we read off the outer bezel a hair under 24 (or 2400). The correct answer being closer to 2398.5. Not too bad an approximation when you compare the width of Australia with the circumference of your Breitling.
In this way, once you align 62.1 with the red 10 a shown above and below, all conversions for all numbers from 0 to infinity can be calculated at a glance.
We will return again with more Breitling Bezel tutorials as there are still many more uses for it.


Reading Time - the Breitling Bezel

Here it is: The long awaited Breitling 'how to' component of our reading time newsletter articles (or at least part one for Breitling).

How to use a Breitling bezel, or any other flight type bezel for that matter:

We should first start out by defining the points on the bezel and what they mean, so as to ease our understanding of the calculations and how to make them.
Firstly, the bezel is technically called a slide rule. Pilots have used them for decades to calculate anything from simple multiplications, to how far to turn the nose of their plane into a crosswind so as not to be pushed off course. Below we can see an actual slide rule (or in this very complicated case, 'flight computer') used in the training of pilots, which was kindly donated to us by a loyal supporter.
This is a standard tool across the aviation industry and when Willy Breitling first released his Navitimer in 1952 at the behest of the US Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, he designed the slide rule to be as similar as possible to the below training tool. This instantly made the watch familiar to the AOPA members and is one of the main reasons the Navitimer is the go-to for pilots worldwide.
The slide rule is made up of two rules or tracks, the fixed (inner) and the sliding (outer). The fixed rule or track is on the actual dial, and like the name suggests, does not move. The sliding rule or track is on the bezel itself and is what you rotate to make the calculations. Most pilot watches will also have a tachymeter and then a minute track for the running time, printed inside the two slide rule tracks. When making the calculations below, the only numbers considered are the ones on the two outermost tracks.
Another thing we must understand is that the decimal point is not found on a slide rule. For example the 16 on the outer bezel also represents 0.0016, 0.016, 0.16, 1.6, 160, 1600, 16000 etc. A little bit of common sense is needed here, and will become apparent in the explanations below. The slide rule is also not a linear scale but a logarithmic one. This just means the physical distance on the scale between similar intervals is different, for example the distance between 10 and 20 on the outer ring is much further than between 20 and 30. The best thing to do for practice is make different calculations with your watch and check them with a calculator to gain confidence.

First off, let’s start with everybody's favourite calculation: Division.
This calculation is fairly easy actually. Let’s say we want to divide 75 by 12. Maybe it's a shared Christmas gift for someone (a little late I know but a good example). Line up 75 on the sliding outer track with 12 on the fixed inner track. The 10 (in red) on the fixed inner track will point to the answer which is 62.5. Now the decimal place dilemma comes into play.
We know that 62.5 is much too large an answer for our question. So we mentally slide the decimal place across to either 6.25, or further to 0.625. It’s easy to see that 0.625 is way too small to be the answer, so we stick with 6.25 or $6.25 per person.
Percentages? Even easier.
Say we want to find 19.8% of 57,500 (keeping in mind a complex calculation like this is difficult to find the exact number as there just isn't enough room on the bezel). We line up 57.5 on the outer sliding bezel with 10 (in red) on the inner fixed track. We then look for 19.8 on the fixed inner track and the answer on the bezel reads a tiny bit under 11.4 which with decimal place adjustment is just under $11,400. A short trip to your iPhone calculator confirms the answer as 11,385.
Without moving the bezel, you can see any percentage of 55,700 or 557 or 0.557. You just read from a different number on the inner track to its corresponding number on the outer track, and keep the decimal place dilemma in mind. 
Second cab off the rank: Multiplication.
Remember your 17 times tables? Absolutely not. But now you've not only got a Breitling Navitimer, you know how to use it. Slide your bezel so that 17 on the outer track is lined up with 10 (in red) on the fixed inner track. Now the result for any fixed number (inner track) multiplied by 17, is displayed on the outer track. For example, 17 x 25 = 42.5. But we know that number is much too small to be the correct answer, so we move the decimal point over to either 425 or 4,250 or 42,500. A simple calculation like 20 x 25 = 500 makes it easy to confirm the answer is indeed 425.
For the case where the numbers do not line up exactly, either an approximation can be made, or you can just mentally work around it. For example 17 x 26 = looks like maybe 44.1 or 44.2 (441 or 442) by reading off the bezel. Alternatively, you can just calculate 17 x 20 and 17 x 6 (6 being the MPH marker at the top of the dial, which reads as 10.2 but is actually 102) as they are easier to see. Adding these gives us 340 + 102 = 442. Or you can just look around the bezel for the closest whole number even multiplication and add or subtract the rest in your head.
I do apologise again if these explanations are getting a little too confusing to understand. There are so many more calculations that can be made with the sliding bezel but for this newsletter I will leave you with these two most common everyday calculations. We will get back into Breitling soon.