Watchuseek Blog

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Swiss precision, Spanish passion: Artauro Watches


Artauro Watches have created a unique looking watch collection powered with Swiss precision and fired by Spanish passion.

But while Artauro Watches may have been inspired by the symbol of the bull in ancient Spanish culture, there is absolutely no ‘bull’ about the pedigree of Juan Moragas and his wife Magdalena Ferrera Martinez.

Spanish born, Swiss trained

Both Juan and Magdalena paid their dues in Switzerland carefully learning their craft side by side for over 25 years with some of the finest of international Swiss watch brands.

The couple returned to Spain in 2002 where they founded Moragas Technologie S.L.L.






The Artauro concept

The firm quickly established itself as Spain’s only company supplying high precision parts for Swiss watchmaking mechanisms. Over the years Juan and Magdalena devoted countless hours to the development of the strongly Iberian flavoured concept behind Artauro Watches.







Unique design, unique materials

The resulting design is reassuringly Spanish macho, driven by the precision of a Swiss automatic movement. Incorporated into the design are materials never before used in the assembly of a luxury watch – that of bull horn both carefully inlaid on the bezel and on the dial.

The branded red hour and minute hands also add a unique touch. Note also the bull silhouette over which the brand name is placed, and the black outline arches on the side of the stainless steel casing which represent the arched ‘puertas’ of Las Ventas, Spain’s oldest bullring in Plaza de Toros, Madrid.

Straps of Spanish leather

While the Sellita SW200-1 movement, with a 38 hour power reserve, and certain other parts are sourced from Switzerland, the distinctive thick Spanish leather straps, emblazoned with the bull, add a further Iberian look and feel to the watches.

Prices for Artauro Watches start at 5,500 Euros (approx US$7,850) for PVD models and go up to 14,300 euros (approx $20,415) for the gold 3N18/5N18 version.






Monday, August 29, 2011


Design it yourself: Tourby Watches Small Aviator G4C Automatic

Tourby Watches is a small, exclusive watch manufacturer from Hagen in Westphalia, Germany. They represent all that people around the world admire about top quality German craftsmanship.

Unlike most watch manufacturers who offer you the finished item as a fait accompli and you either like it or you don’t, Tourby Watches produce bespoke timepieces that you can design and specify to your own tastes.

Tourby Watches do not keep any ready-made watches in stock. Instead each one is built to a client’s liking, and they choose their own components.




Excellence comes as standard

The standard movement is an ETA Unitas 6497 / 6498 with varying levels of decoration and finish which the customer can specify. It’s also possible to opt for an upgraded hand-made movement – a chronometer for example - engraved, skeletonised or with intricate guilloché work.

Then for casings there is a choice of polished steel, brushed steel, sand-blasted finish, PVD coated, 18k solid yellow, white or rose gold.

Dials come in silver, black, enamel, guilloché, and pilot´s style. Hands are offered in black, white, retro style, Louis XVI design, pilot´s models or genuine blued steel hands sets.

And finally the watchstrap – there’s a choice of all kinds from a robust pilot´s strap to an elegant genuine alligator.

Small Aviator G4C Automatic Watch

Tourby Watches incorporate several design classics into their inventory, and for those who don’t want a half acre of pilot’s watch protruding from under their shirt cuff, Tourby have created the Small Aviator Automatic. The stainless steel, bead-blasted case is an elegant 38.5mm. The screwed crown helps to ensure pressure resistance to 100m depth with magnetic field protection up to 80.000 a/m.

The sapphire crystal with double anti-reflex coating inside and outside ensures perfect visibility, while C1 lume for the indices and watch hands lights up the dial in the gloomy interior of the cockpit come nightfall.

The engraved caseback depicts the coat of arms of Hagen in Westfalen.

As standard the Small Aviator Automatic comes with the Swiss made ETA 2824-2 automatic movement with a 38 hour power reserve. Etachron, Incabloc, anti-shock proof, the watch comes on a calf leather strap with a stainless steel buckle. The watches is presented in a wooden box or leather travel case, complete with 2 years worldwide warranty.

Price including taxes: approx US$1,233






Optional upgrades


If the standard is not up to your spec, go for the optional upgrades and make the watch truly your own.

Shell cordovan leather strap: + $72

Genuine Louisiana Alligator strap: + $144

Deployant buckle: + $43

Top Grade (Chronometer) movement: + $435

You can place your order directly from the Tourby site, but allow six weeks from the time of order for delivery.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Two new colourways for the Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro

The highly regarded tri-time dive watch series from Christopher Ward will soon be available in two fresh new contemporary colours - charcoal and khaki.

While the retro design of the C60 is inspired by the legendary 1954 Rolex GMT Master, the new colours reflect the very latest fashion trends.

The C60 Automatic does not provide the time in two time zones simultaneously, but, like its stable companion the C60 GMT, this automatic, powered by the famous ETA 2824-2 / Sellita SW200-1 movement, is a premium diving watch incorporating reliable, tried and tested Swiss precision. Water resistant to a depth of 300m.

The C60s shown here are the top of the line at US$676. You read that right; a quality Swiss made watch for way under $1000. No wonder Christopher Ward have shaken things up in the Jura Valley because Swiss tradition dictates that you are simply not supposed to let Swiss technology go for so little.

But then Christopher Ward have turned a lot of long held practices completely on their head. Unlike most of the major Swiss watch brands there are no multi-million dollar promotional campaigns adding lots of zeros to the price tag.

Nor are there pampered celebrities pocketing banker style bonuses just to be seen wearing a Christopher Ward – if you do happen to see a celebrity wearing a Christopher Ward watch you have the satisfaction of knowing they probably paid for it, just like you.

The idea seems to be working because sales of these British designed and Swiss assembled watches are growing by 60% year on year. And speaking of 60, the watches come with a 60-day no quibble guarantee as well as a 60-month warranty.

As Christopher Ward often state; there is very little the luxury watch world can do about their strategy other than spend even more on marketing to try and shore up the brands they have created.

Ultimately there is a limit to how many people will happily pay $3,500 plus for a watch when they could pay $600 or less for a Christopher Ward with an almost identical or even higher specification.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Girard-Perregaux Puts on a Traveling Exhibition


In honor of its 220th year, Girard-Perregaux is putting on a traveling exhibition that features its most important pieces both contemporary and from its museum collection. This will be the largest exhibiton outside of Switzerland in the brand’s history.

Called “A Tale of inspiration—Unveiling 220 years of watchmaking Art,” the show not only allows visitors to view important pieces but also puts them into the context of major events, public figures and works of art.

Certain to be the highlight of the exhibition is the pocket watch named Esmeralda, a high precision chronometer made by Constant Girard-Perregaux himself. Awarded the gold medal at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1889, this piece surely is the most famous of the Tourbillon with three gold bridges, the one that started it all.

You’re probably wondering how Esmeralda got her name. At least I did. She got her name from the Mexican boutique of the agents Hauser and Zivy, who had the honor of Esmeralda’s presence for some time. After the grande dame left the boutique she passed into the hands of Porfirio Diaz, President of Mexico from 1876 to 1911. The President’s lucky great grandson inherited Esmeralda before she became part of the Girard-Perregaux museum collection in the late 1960’s.

Some facts you might not know about Girard-Perregaux: they make their own in-house movements and provide their ebauches to companies such as MB&F. They developed a quartz movement and their frequency became the industry standard, not the Japanese as some may have thought. In addition, the brand also has 80 patents to its name. They really are quite impressive in their achievements.

Those who attend the exhibition will get to meet with master watchmakers from the atelier in Switzerland to see the craft up close. The dates and times of the exhibition are listed below.

This Traveling Exhibition Will Stop In:

Singapore – Art and Science Museum – from 16th to 18th September 2011

Shanghai – Sinan Mansions – from 20th to 23rd October 2011

New York – Boutique Girard-Perregaux on Madison – from 18th to 26th November 2011 Other Exceptional Timepieces from The Girard-Perregaux Museum and of the Contemporary Collections Will be Presented This Autumn In:

Paris – Printemps Hausmann - from 25th August au 8th October 2011

And in Partnership with The Fondation De La Haute Horlogerie:

Mexico – Salón Internacional Alta Relojería – from 4th to 6th October 2011

Moscow – Kremlin museum – from 21st October to 10th November 2011

London – SalonQP – from 11th to 12th November 2011

Paris – Salon belles montres – from 25th to 27th November 2011



Wednesday, August 24, 2011


On the road again: Jules Audemars Gstaad Classic 2011 Chronograph limited edition watch


Following a successful first edition in 2009, the loop-style rally around Gstaad hits the roads again between August 31st and September 4th 2011.

As title sponsor of the rally, Audemars Piguet is celebrating the event with the launch of a new limited series: the Jules Audemars Gstaad Classic 2011 Chronograph, issued in a 250-piece numbered limited edition, including 50 even more exclusive watches available exclusively from the Audemars Piguet boutiques in Gstaad and Geneva.

The Manufacture in Le Brassus has demonstrated a longstanding interest in motor sports. Actively involved in Formula 1 motor racing through its ambassador-drivers Sébastien Buemi, Jarno Trulli, and since November 2010, the legendary Michael Schumacher, Audemars Piguet is also official timekeeper of historical competitions such as the Tour Auto, the Spa Classic and the Gstaad Classic Audemars Piguet.

The Gstaad Classic Audemars Piguet

This is the only classic rally in Switzerland to feature time trials on 100 km of closed roads. The winding mountain roads provide the perfect playground for drivers with a penchant for thrills and performance.

This year’s edition of the prestigious event will host some one hundred teams, at the wheel of GT and sports cars dating from the late 1930s to the late 1970s.

The programme is similar to that of the first edition: three days of rally driving in the Swiss Alps, with a different loop each day – starting and ending in Gstaad – interspersed with special trials on closed roads.

So as to combine sport and comfort, each evening is organised in an exclusive location and participants are accommodated in the finest hotels around Gstaad, including in particular the Grand Hotel Park housing the Audemars Piguet boutique.

It is here as well as in the Audemars Piguet Geneva boutique, that the Jules Audemars Gstaad Classic 2011 is presented to informed collectors.

The Jules Audemars Gstaad Classic 2011

The 250 owners of this wristwatch will doubtless be won over by its vintage look: characteristic of the Jules Audemars collection, enhanced by a sporting spirit through its association with the Gstaad rally.

In this model, the elegant round case traditionally distinguishing Jules Audemars watches is combined with colours and materials inspired by the automobile world.

The 1920s style dial is chic and sporty. The hand-sewn chestnut brown leather strap with lozenge-shaped overstitching evokes fine car upholstery, while the titanium used for the case is greatly appreciated in the automobile industry because of its inherent combination of sturdiness and lightness.

Leather travel trunk presentation box

The chronograph start/stop pushpiece is made of pink gold so as to be immediately identifiable by the driver likely to be more focused on his performances.

In order to provide this watch with a worthy jewel case, the presentation box, reserved for just 50 future owners of the Jules Audemars Gstaad Classic 2011, is inspired by a classic car travel trunk, entirely lined in chestnut brown leather and featuring tone-on-tone stitching as well as straps fastened with metal buckles.

Jules Audemars Gstaad Classic 2011 Chronograph specifications

Movement : Total diameter: 29.9 mm, Thickness: 7.16 mm, Number of jewels: 64, Number of parts: 364, Power reserve: 50 hours, Cadence of the balance: 21,600 vph

Case: Titanium case, transparent sapphire caseback, water-resistant to 20 metres

Dial: Anthracite dial, silver-toned counters, applied pink gold Arabic numerals

Strap: hand-sewn chestnut brown leather strap with lozenge-shaped overstitching and titanium AP folding clasp

Presentation box: Special rectangular presentation box with chestnut brown leather lining, tone-on-tone stitching and grey metal buckles.

Monday, August 22, 2011


A Watchuseek world exclusive: HEXA K500 Premier Edition Diver’s Watch

Watchuseek is delighted to give its readers a world exclusive – the official launch of the HEXA K500 Premier Edition Divers Watch, an awesome new diver’s watch, details of which will be released to the rest of the world only on August 24th.

HEXA Watches are the result of extensive design and development, and the launch of the K500, a purpose built dive watch with an emphasis on quality and innovation, marks the introduction to an exciting new independent brand that breaks away from the tried and done to death practice of offering ‘me too’ tributes to big name dive watches.





Who is HEXA?

HEXA’s dream team consists of two brothers-in-law, Rocky Santa Cruz (President) and Vic Donati (Designer) both have professional backgrounds in sales, design and web technologies. There is also a Manufacturing partner in Chris Weigand of Weigand Custom Watch (& Lüm-Tec)

The idea behind the Hexa K500 was to produce a watch that ticked all the boxes for two guys who like to wear and use a superior dive watch on a daily basis. Tampa Bay being surrounded by water – HEXA created a timepiece that is focused on diving, but is also rugged and versatile enough to work in a variety of demanding situations - from kiteboarding to surfing to deep sea fishing.

The HEXA K500 and all the other models the company plan to produce take a unique, no short cuts approach to meeting such design challenges.

The HEXA K500

The K500 uses 316L surgical steel construction and a sapphire lens with interior anti-reflective coating. Other signs of top quality include a unique integrated left-hand crown guard design, powerful luminescence by LümTec, a ratcheting dive clasp, high-grip crown and bezel and ultra-legible dial design.

There’s a faint echo of Seiko and Rolex with the positioning of the crown to the side of the 3 o’clock position, but HEXA have opted to place the crown at 10 o’ clock rather than the more usual 4 o’ clock.

Water resistant to 500m

The HEXA K500, as the name suggests, is water resistant to 500m and runs on the workhorse Miyota 9015 automatic movement. Miyota is part of Citizen Watches, and the movement will just keep on ticking.

The 44mm watch is entirely hand assembled in the USA with every design and engineering decision taken to ensure the greatest efficiency and durability for each component.

In case you’re wondering, the ‘K’ in K500 is derived from the watch’s nickname Kraken - a scary mythological sea monster – only the HEXA K500 is no myth, but it could be considered scarily good. It’s quite simply one of the best tools for underwater and nautical timekeeping that money can buy.

Limited edition

Speaking of money, with pre-sale prices starting at just $599 and rising to $799 for the K500, you’re getting a lot of watch for the money. But you will have to be quick because the launch premier edition will be limited to – you guessed it – just 500 pieces.

There are a range of finishes including Brushed, Bead-Blasted and PVD finishes with the PVD version being the top of the line. You can also opt for a PVD bezel for the bead and blasted watches for an additional $39.00.

The watch ships with a 5-link stainless steel bracelet but as a value added extra there is also a rubber dive strap with extra pins and links, all packaged in a custom Seahorse waterproof box.

Two year warranty


The HEXA K500 comes with a two year manufacturer’s warranty. Pre-sale customers may well be tempted not only by the price, but by the fact that the first 250 will receive recognition with their name entered for posterity in the literature provided with the watch, together with the opportunity for early reservations of future models, and lifetime timing adjustments completely free of charge.

How to buy

So where do you get your hands on a HEXA? Don’t go looking in your local dive store. Don’t go looking in your local dive store. Instead you need to get online and order direct through the Hexa website. Watchuseek users now have exclusive access to detailed information, imagery and the ability to reserve watches prior to the official launch on August 24th at www.hexawatches.com/wus.html.

Make sure to take advantage of this sneak preview! There is no cost to reserve a watch at this time.

Specifications

Diameter - 44MM

Lug to Lug - 51MM

Height - 14.75MM

Lug Width - 22MM

CASE

- 316L Surgical Grade Stainless Steel

- Triple O-Ring Design

- Screw Down Signed Crown at the 10 position

- Patent Pending integrated crownguard

- Anti -Magnetic inner case

- 500M Depth Rating

CASE BACK

- Stainless Steel

- Double O-ring screw locked case back

- Engraved

- Serialized

BRACELET

- Heavy Duty 316L Stainless Steel 5 Link bracelet

- Ratcheting diver clasp

CRYSTAL

- 3MM Sapphire Crystal with anti-reflective coating inside

DIAL

- Luminescence by LUM-TEC

- numerals letterforms based on interstate signage - designed to be absorbed at a glance

BEZEL

- 60 Click unidirectional bezel

- Luminous Triangle

MOVEMENT

- Miyota 9015 Automatic Movement

- 28,800 Vibrations Per hour

- 24 Jewels

- Adjusted to 6 positions in-house to insure maximum accuracy

RATINGS

- anti-magnetic (80,000 a/m)

- Shock resistant

- Each K500 is individually pressure tested to insure reliability at 500M (1,640 ft)



Friday, August 19, 2011


The 'world's first watch designer' Gerald Genta dies at 80

The death has been announced of Gerald Genta, one of the most important Swiss watch designers of the 20th century.

Born in Geneva in May 1931, Genta was imbued not only with an Italian flair for design, but also a meticulous approach with the rigorous disciplined technical qualities inherent to the Swiss watchmaking tradition.

He established himself in 1961 as the world’s first ‘watch designer’. By 1969 he formed Gerald Genta, his own highly successful watch manufacture. In addition to his own line of timepieces, Genta also contributed significantly to the designs of Swiss luxury watch brands including IWC, Universal Geneve, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet, among several others.

Genta designed IWC's classic Jumbo Ingenieur in 1970. He was also famous for designing Patek Philippe's Nautilus model and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. It was Genta who first introduced the then revolutionary idea of stainless steel for luxury sports watches.

Some of Genta's most important designs included a sonnerie, the Gérald Genta Octo Granda Sonnerie Tourbillion, which has four gongs and rings the Westminster Quarters melody at each quarter and on the hour, ‘the same melody rung out by London's Big Ben’, and cost over $810,00.

In 1994 he designed his masterpiece, the Grande Sonnerie Retro, the world's most complicated wristwatch, priced at $2 million.

After his eponymous company was sold first to Singapore's Hour Glass and two years later to Bulgari, Genta resigned from the company and created a new venture called Gerald Charles in 2001. Here he continued to design important watches such as the Tourbillon Miroir Maestro. Many of his designs for Gerald Charles are sold out.

In 2011 several online watch blogs reported about a watch that Genta had recently designed for the Swedish watch brand Arlanch although only a sketch was submitted. The watch is said to be automatic and uses a Swiss made La Joux-Perret calibre 3532 movement - a mechanism that offers 44 hours of power reserve and beats at 28,800 Vph. With design drafts, signed by the great master, the watych features the octagonal case design that recalls the original Royal Oak, by Audemars Piguet.

Gerald Genta died on August 17th at the age of 80. His legacy of superb watch design will live on.

Gerald Charles Genta, May 1st 1931 – August 17th 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Smooth sailing: Nautica NCT 800




Click for high res image

If you read and rely on too many watch blogs you’ll start to believe that unless you are shelling out some serious pain inducing dough for a Swiss-made chronometer you are not really in contention. But watches such as the new Nautica NCT 800 - with a classic, eye-pleasing chronograph and authentic nautical detailing - show that you can at least look like a member of the yacht club even if you can’t quite afford the fees.

The Nautica NCT 800 dress sport watch

The Nautica NCT 800 is designed as a handsome dress watch and is powered by a Miyota Japanese quartz movement with tachymeter functionality and water resistance up to 100 metres.

Now don’t get sniffy about a Japanese quartz movement, the fact is it will reliably tell the time day in and day out for years to come. We all know that at the higher end watches are not only about telling the time, but sometimes you just want a watch that does exactly that.



Choice of sizes and dials

The NCT 800 features date, seconds and 24-hour indicators and polished stainless steel cases available in 45mm stainless steel case and a mid-sized 38mm case.

Dials are to be had in black, silver, mink and two-tone silver and rose gold with black or brown croco-pattern genuine leather straps.

The NCT 800 captures the Nautica brand’s core values of a crisp, clean aesthetic, timeless design and sporting functionality,” states Linda Calvert, VP Global Brand Management.

No prices available at the time of publishing but few watches in the Nautica range reach much beyond $420.

About Nautica

Founded in 1983, Nautica is a leading global lifestyle brand ranging from men’s, women’s and children’s apparel and accessories to a complete home collection. Nautica products are defined as casual classics with a distinct nautical theme. Nautica watches, designed by Timex, were first introduced in 1994 for men and women.



Monday, August 15, 2011


Swiss pride: Franck Muller Crazy Hours Totally Switzerland Only Watch 2011


Franck Muller, founded in 1991, prides itself on perpetuating the great tradition of “Horlogerie” by creating and developing remarkable complications never before seen.

The manufacture’s artistry resides in its ability to launch watches which are considered masterpieces in terms of design and precise mechanisms. And each Franck Muller timepiece is made within the Swiss watchmaking tradition.

Ever since Only Watch began, 53 year old Franck Muller has always personally intervened to lend his skill and expertise to such an important cause. And for 2011, the brand is proud to participate in the Only Watch Auction whose funds this year will be donated entirely to the Monégasque Association for Muscular Dystrophy.

Franck Muller has decided to present one of its most famous watches, the Crazy Hours. The hallmark exploding numerals of the Crazy Hours dial reveal the hours in their chronological order, but the hour hand jumps every time that the minute hand completes its revolution, creating a new and arresting way to read time.

For Only Watch, Franck Muller has created a very special dial designed to elicit a surge of Swiss pride from the Swiss residents of Monaco, who make up one of the largest communities in the Rocher, for the colours used were specially selected to symbolise the Helvetica flag and the Monte-Carlo principality.

Specifications

Reference: 1300 CH
Calibre: FM 2800 HF
Movement: Automatic
Dimensions of Movement: 25.60 mm Height: 5.20 mm
Display: Hours in the middle jumping in uncoording way and minutes
Functions: Winding-shaft with two positions
Power Reserve: 42 hours
Frequency: 28’000 vibrations / hour
Number of Components: 186
Number of Jewels: 23
Water-resistance: 3 ATM
Movement Decoration: Côtes de Genève, diamond polishing, hand-bevelling, circular graining, bi-colour rhodium-plating and hand-engraving
Dial: Sun-stamped translucent lacquered red dial with
Case: Long Island: 18 carat white gold
Case Dimensions: Width: 35.20 mm x Length: 59.20 mm x Height: 13.30mm
Strap: Hand-sewn red alligator strap

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Christopher Ward C700 Grand Rapide Chronograph


This new sporty beauty from Christopher Ward has been on the Watchuseek forum for a few days but it’s worth showing here on the blog in all its glory.

The C700 Grand Rapide Chronograph is made from a carbon fibre dial as used in the aerospace industry, the military and Formula 1, which is good if nothing groundbreaking.

It comes in a choice of a stainless steel bracelet, a leather strap or a rubber strap, which mirrors the dial with its polished chequered flag design.

The C700 has a 30 minute and 12 hour counter and the 60 second chronograph with its guilloche pattern takes its design inspiration from a rev counter. There’s Superluminova on the hands to ensure easy reading even in the dark.

Flip the C700 over and the crystal sapphire case back affords a clear view of the Swiss Made Sellita SW500 automatic movement.

Like all Christopher Ward watches, the C700 was designed in the UK and hand assembled by the company’s atelier in Switzerland.

At £799, the Grande Rapide is on the high side for a CW watch and some people are worry that Christopher Ward are going to slowly start raising the bar in terms of costs. We hope not.

In USD that’s $1,300 which starts to be something of a ‘grande’ investment for the average mid price watch buyer.

On the plus side, the Christopher Ward approach to good quality at keen prices is starting to make inroads into the US market.






Features


  • 5 Jewel Swiss automatic chronograph
  • 42mm diameter
  • Calibre Sellita SW500 movement
  • Regulator system
  • 3 counter multi-function chronograph (hours, minutes and stop second)
  • Carbon Fibre Dial
  • Internal tachymeter
  • Day / date calendar
  • Convex sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
  • Screw-in crown
  • Water resistant to 50m (5 atm)
  • Adjustable quick-release butterfly clasp
  • Hand-polished surgical grade stainless steel case
  • SuperLuminova SLC1

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Towson Watch Company: An American Breed


Born in the USA, Born in the USA! Writing about Towson Watch Company makes me want to wave the American flag. In fact, red, white and blue grace the dial of every Towson watch. American watches, you say? Is it possible the Americans can make a quality timepiece? In fact, they can.


Established in Maryland in 2000, Towson Watch Company designs and manufactures their watches here on U.S. soil. Partners George Thomas and Hartwig Balke run the business, joining forces after meeting in an Irish pub and bonding over their love of sailing. In addition to sailing, they found they both had a passion for high-end mechanical timepieces and decided to form a brand.

Thomas and Balke aren’t dilettantes with a fancy for horology. They have top-notch credentials. Thomas, a master watchmaker, has been repairing complicated watches for 40 years and even built tourbillon watches that are on display at the National Watch and Clock Museum (linke). Balke, an engineer, built his first chronograph in 1999, but it wasn’t just any chronograph, this one went to space, worn by a NASA astronaut on the STS-99 Mission.

In their design and mechanics, Thomas and Balke take their inspiration from masters old and new like Breguet, Arnold, George Daniels and Ludwig Oeschlin. Thomas and Balke incorporated their love of sailing and the waterways into the company by naming their watches after them. Models include the Choptank, Skipjack and Potomac. Towson Watch Company even has a watch in the shape of a winch called the Pride II.

Though Thomas and Balke are quite capable of building their own components they instead choose high-grade movements from ETA or Soprod built to their specifications. Additionally, some movements are enhanced with upgrades of the balance and regulating mechanism.
“The clear message is, momentarily, without Swiss watchmaking there is no American watchmaking,” explains Balke. “While we can make the plates and bridges in the U.S., wheels, jewels, pallets and balances are still Swiss made, as are the mainspring and barrels. Can we make the wheels and the barrels in the U.S.? The answer is yes! Is it economical to do that? The answer at the moment is no!”

And yet, Towson Watch Company does make watches from scratch on occasion. When they do, all components including the plate, bridges, wheels and barrel are crafted at Towson. The only part not made in their workshop is the balance wheel.

To enhance the design of their watches, Towson often sends them out for a beauty treatment with master engraver Jochen Benzinger in Germany, with whom they’ve had collaboration for over 10 years. Benzinger also had a hand on the space watch flown on the STS-99 mission, as he modified the rotor to relocate its center of gravity.

Though the Swiss remain the leaders in quality watch production, there is a port in America at the Towson Watch Company.



Monday, August 8, 2011


Split second accuracy: IWC Schaffhausen Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium


IWC Schaffhausen have just launched a new rattrapante chronograph, the Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium - a split-seconds chronograph which enables the wearer to simultaneously measure two timed events.

The case of the new Ingenieur is made of titanium which is light, durable, has ultra low conductivity and will not cause any skin allergies. The case measures 45 mm in diameter and is 16 mm thick. Black DLC coated screws secure the bezel to the case while the pushers and crown are coated in vulcanised black rubber.

Inside the titanium case beats the trusted 79230 calibre with 29 jewels creating a superb self-winding mechanical movement with a 44 hour power reserve.

To help distinguish the displays, blue was used for the first time, which suits the timepiece perfectly. The subdials for hours, minutes and the small (hacking) seconds are recessed into the dial, while the luminescent material in the interstices of the rhodium-plated hands appears black. The design of the new Ingenieur takes cues from the likes of Audemars Piguet and Hublot Big Bang.


S
plit-seconds-hand mechanism

A split-seconds-hand or double chronograph means there is a technical extension to the chronograph mechanism, allowing measurement of two different times in a single one-minute period. Put simply, if the chronograph is switched on by one push of the button, two central stopwatch hands start moving.





As both hands are exactly superimposed, the second chronograph hand is not immediately visible. This retains the option of a repeat time measurement in a one-minute period. By pressing the third push-button at “10 o’clock” with the chronograph switched on, the chronograph hand on top stays still, while the bottom one runs on until held by pressing the ordinary start/stop button at “2 o’clock”. This method allows measurement of two different short periods of time.


Hands on Ingenieur picture courtesy of IWC Connoisseur Dimitris Psaromialos

Specifications


Features

Mechanical chronograph movement, self- winding, split-seconds-hand mechanism for intermediate timing, date and day display, small hacking seconds, black rubber-coated push-buttons and crown protection

Movement


Calibre: 79230
Frequency: 28,800 A/h / 4 Hz
Jewels: 29
Power reserve: 44h
Winding: self-winding

Watch


Materials: case and pin buckle in titanium and rubber, black dial with white and blue hands and markers, black rubber strap
Glass: sapphire, antireflective coating on both sides
Back: titanium, screw-in
Crown: screw-in
Water-resistant: 12 bar
Diameter: 45mm
Case height: 16mm

Friday, August 5, 2011


How an ARMIN Strom watch is made

We started the week with the excellent photographs of the ARMIN Strom Racing Collection and the new AMW11 (ArminManualWinding 1) watch kindly provided by the guys at the watch manufacture. Now we end it with a fascinating film of how exactly an ARMIN Strom watch is made from start to finish.

The film takes in the various processes including CNC, electroplating, skeletonising, final assembly and concludes with the gleaming finished product.

A watch being made specially for you, what a great way to end the week. Let's see how it's done.



Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Guido Mondani Editore and Watchuseek – all you need to know about collecting and admiring watches

An Italian man watches as a Dutchman in a cafe attracts the most beautiful girls without any trouble at all, even though he’s not exactly George Clooney in the looks department.

Asked how he does this, the Dutchman replies, "Well very easy, when I enter the cafe, I walk up to the bar and flash them the most expensive Swiss-made watch I can afford and they just flock to me. It’s the watch that does the trick."

So the Italian goes straight out and buys the most expensive Swiss-made watch he can afford, walks back into the cafe and casually flashes it around at the bar. No girls, nothing.

Disappointed, he asks the Dutchman for advice once more, "Well” says the Dutchman, “if the most expensive Swiss-made watch you can afford is a Swatch it's never going to work.”


Now an Italian and a Dutchman meet again, but this time both of them know a trick or two about attracting huge numbers of ardent lovers, particularly those that are crazy about watches.

Guido Mondani Editore, the most definitive journal publisher on watches now recommends Watchuseek, the most comprehensive forum on watches and vice versa.

Guido Mondani Editore – the leading publisher in the watch field

Guido Mondani Editore, the true reference for watch dealers and collectors around the world, and Watchuseek, the web’s largest and best loved watch forum have reached a mutual agreement to support each other’s websites. It’s a marriage made in horological heaven.

Since 1979, Italian Guido Mondani has been publishing lavish books dedicated to the finest names in watchmaking including Rolex, Panerai, Omega and Patek Philippe.

Thanks to the experience and knowledge of its founder, Guido Mondani, Mondani Editore has carved its own niche of collectors and enthusiasts who, year after year, follow the evolution of one the most famous brands in the world.

Works include Collecting Rolex Milgauss, Yacht Master, Turn-O-Graph, Explorer I, Explorer II, a limited edition book of 2000 copies which lists all estimates of these watches and gives in-depth information on each model.

Then there’s the Rolex Gallery, a complete journey through all the vintage and modern models produced by Rolex. With all new images and updated information, this edition shows from the rarest models to the most dressy, to those that represent a dream for watch collectors. Each reference is accompanied by a detailed description of the main characteristics.

In addition to several other volumes devoted to all things Rolex – and Guido Mondani has sold more from his own collection than most will ever own - other works to which Guido has turned the laser beam of his attention include Panerai Watches from 1936 to 1997, and the Master of Omega Speedmaster, Flightmaster and Speedsonic. This volume enables the collector to identify them all and to be updated on all that is new.

Guido Mondani Editore is recognised around the world as the most authoritative source for high end watches.

Watchuseek – the web’s no. 1 interactive portal for watches

Dutchman Ernie Romers, founder of Watchuseek, has dedicatedly built his website into the number 1 interactive portal for watches worldwide. He probably receives more visitors to his site in a day than most watch blogs and online journals can dream of in a month.

Watchuseek simply brims with well informed forums on every type of watch, with links to all known watch manufactures with new contacts being forged by the day.

Not surprisingly, thousands of watch collectors turn to Watchuseek first for information on a wide variety of timepieces. On Watchuseek they can not only read the official watch forums, but also the collector forums where the real nuggets of information on watches mighty and magnificent or simply mid-range but much loved can be found.

The linking of Guido Mondani a wealth of information on watches, and Watchuseek, the web’s biggest meeting place for watch lovers is indeed a most timely move.

Monday, August 1, 2011


Off the cuff: ARMIN Strom Racing Chronograph and AMW11





Regular readers of the Watchuseek blog may recall in April we featured the excellent watches from the ARMIN Strom Racing Collection. Read all about it here.

We were so impressed that we got in touch with the guys at ARMIN Strom and told them that we would like our readers to see the watches ‘on the wrist’ to show off how good they look, and they were happy to oblige.

There was just one problem. If Ernie were to receive the watches in Holland it would have resulted in obscene sums being handed over to the Dutch Customs. So instead, the helpful chaps at ARMIN Strom offered to take pictures of the watches themselves. The model even donned a smart French cuffed dress shirt complete with watch movement cuffs, so ARMIN Strom are spoiling us!

To recap, in 2011, ARMIN Strom began its commitment to Formula 1 as the official timing partner for Marussia Virgin Racing. It is supporting both team drivers: Germany’s Timo Glock and Jérôme D’Ambrosio from Belgium.

At the time of the launch Serge Michel, CEO at Armin Strom, commented on the logical collaboration: "Just like Marussia Virgin Racing, Armin Strom is a young, dynamic brand, setting new quality standards and combining high-tech with craftsmanship values. And like Marussia Virgin Racing, we’re not afraid to blaze new trails”.

The first watches to emerge from the collaboration with the Russian-British stable, are called the ARMIN Racing Collection. The special feature of these watches is that parts of the movement components are made from the materials of the racing cars.

In addition to the ARMIN Strom Racing Collection, the new AMW11, a magnificent looking manual wind watch with a partly open dial is also modelled for your delight and further edification.

ARMIN Manual Collection, AMW11

The AMW11 (ArminManualWinding1) incorporates the famous watch craftsman’s tradition of movement refinement. The partly open dial reveals the inner workings of the movement and the beauty of its technology. An unmistakable feature of ARMIN Strom watches is the time display: the hour and minute hands are not centrally positioned, but slightly off-centre horizontally. The designer’s objective was to create an exclusive watch with a Manufacture calibre.

This watch is available in four different models, corresponding to the four elements Water, Air, Earth and Fire. Each model is being produced in a series of only 100 pieces. Prices will range from $10,300 to $13,000 for the top of the line Manual Air.

ARMIN Racing Chronograph

Worn proudly on the wrist in this picture is the ARMIN Racing Chronograph, with its black PVD titanium case in an imposing 44.40mm. The components are sculpted from materials used in racing cars. The circles around the various indications on the dial, highlighted in bright red, serve as a clear reminder to mechanical sports enthusiasts of the efforts exerted by brake discs during a gruelling Grand Prix race. Proud owners of an ARMIN Racing Collection watch can opt to have their name engraved on the lip at 6-o-clock. In the case of the DLC case it’s engraved first and then DLC coated.

Other watches in the ARMIN Strom Racing Collection and not featured here were limited to 40 pieces and have no doubt long been snapped up by collectors. They included the ARMIN Strom Racing Regulator and the Racing Chronograph Titanium.

What follows is the full set of high res pictures that ARMIN Strom sent us. Click on the images for full effect.


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