I will never forget when I was in the room of the Ulysse Nardin factory in Le Locle, Switzerland where the highly complicated watches are made. Hard at work were two older men with gray hair wearing lab coats. They held miniscule tools in their hands and had loupes attached to their eyes. Next to them was a girl who looked to be no older than 25 years old.
As we walked away from watching them work, a guy in the group I was with asked how the younger girl was qualified to work on such highly complicated pieces; it was fairly evident that she did not have as many years of watchmaking experience as the two other people in the room. The response we got was, “That girl just has it.”
Apparently the girl was so talented and well known throughout the industry that other brands had approached her and tried to get her to come work for them. Just like with anything else, practice helps and is needed when it comes to watchmaking, however, some people are simply blessed with a greater skill set than others. That was the case with this girl from Ulysse Nardin. It was just natural for her to manufacture highly complicated minute repeaters.
I was reminded of this girl from Ulysse Nardin when I came across an interview of a young female watchmaker, named Emilie Eveno, who works for Agenhor. The art of watchmaking is truly amazing and sometimes underappreciated. I always find it interesting to hear about how watchmakers get into their work and what they think of it.
Emile compares a movement mechanism to a lung, as it can function by itself for a long, extended period of time. Like the girl from Ulysse Nardin, Emile is most fascinated by minute repeaters, as the complication requires an inordinate amount of skill. I found the interview quite interesting and recommend you give it a read here.
It saddens me to say that the watch industry lost one of the best watch designers of all time yesterday. Charles Gerald Genta was 80 years old at the time of his death. We have him to thank for some of the most classic watch designs of today. His influence was behind the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the IWC Ingenieur, the Omega Seamaster Constellation, the Patek Philippe Nautilus and the Cartier Pasha.
Over five decades ago, Genta started his own brand, which was eventually sold to Bulgari in 1998. Genta’s true passion was for Grande Sonnerie watches, mechanical timepieces that combine a querter striking mechanism with a repeater. The Octo Grande Sonnerie Retro he created was the world’s most complicated watch and priced at $2 million. The movement has 950 parts and was worked on by a watchmaker for a full year. Check it out above.
Consumer spending has seen some dramatic changes since 2007. The stock market crash and monster recession of 2008 hit us hard and forced all of us to reevaluate where we should be spending our income. An article I just read comparing Department of Commerce statistics from consumer spending in the first quarter of 2007 and the same period in 2011 showed some pretty interesting results.
There are several industries that have been hit the hardest over the four-year span. Postal and delivery services have been down a whopping 28 percent, while pleasure boats, tobacco and new cars have been down 12 percent, 16 percent and 12 percent respectively.
Cell-Phone services have seen the greatest increase in consumer spending at 31 percent, while foreign travel to the US is up 17 percent (I am sure the recent weakness in the dollar has something to do with this stat). Up 13 percent? You know it…watches! I loved seeing that. Even during the toughest of times, the watch industry has held strong. Statistics continually show that the cell-phone generation truly does have an unparalleled appreciation for watches.
Images from Time Magazine
I have written several blogs this summer about Swatch Group and CEO Nicolas Hayek’s intentions to slow down the supply of movement parts to independent brands and watchmakers. Hayek believes that watchmaking is being somewhat taken for granted and wants to make sure the art is never underappreciated.
The European Union antitrust regulators are now investigating whether their refusal to supply watchmakers with parts is a breach of EU competition rules. Swatch Group has what some consider a monopoly on movement components and their refusal to sell them to other manufacturers could put a lot of companies out of business. There are no alternatives for most brands, as developing movements entirely in-house requires an insane amount of time and money. It should be interesting to see how the investigation unfolds.
On a completely different note, Tag Heuer has official ended ties with Tiger Woods after sponsoring the professional golfer for a full decade. Audemars Piguet certainly has no intentions of leaving the golf scene, however, as it seems every stud golfer is rocking an AP patch on his sleeve while competing. I am sure you will see what I am talking about if you catch any of the PGA Championship this weekend.
Linking back to my blog post from earlier this week on tech watches, there are some awesome golf watches out there. For instance, the Garmin Approach S1 golf watch uses GPS technology and a large database of over 17,000 courses in the US and Canada to help provide distances to the front, back and middle of the greens for golf addicts. I recently saw one in action, and it was incredibly accurate. Pretty awesome if you ask me!
As the world becomes increasingly high-tech, it is only natural that some tech timepieces hit the watch industry. As I have hinted in previous blogs, I doubt tech watches will catch on for an extended period of time, but it will be interesting to see if the fad catches any steam.
The Meta Watch is meant to give people more of a practical reason to wear a watch. It can apparently sync with Android OS to provide users with the ability to read emails, send text messages and get weather updates. With the Meta Watch, people will not have to reach into their pocket to use their phones… I am not buying this one. The recent NYTimes article on watches argues that the cell-phone generation appreciates fine timepieces more than ever at the moment.
The Rock by Linde Werdelin is a little more appealing to me. The instrument securely attaches onto any Linde Werdelin watch or can be used independently. The Rock is an amazing tool to have while skiing or hiking in the mountains; it can measure the air temperature accurately and employs aerospace algorithms to offer highly intelligent readings.
The sensor-based device employs basic functions such as an alarm, stopwatch, the time and logging capabilities. It is extremely easy to use as it operates with a 4-button menu system. The Rock can be connected to a GPS device and has an optional wireless heart rate monitor that wraps around your chest.
I have yet to see The Rock in person and definitely hope to be able to mess with one sometime soon. I have heard good things. The Meta Watch I am not as excited to see in the flesh…
Miles Davis is without a doubt considered one of the best and most influential Jazz Musicians of all time. The guy is also considered to be one of the coolest cats to ever walk the planet. Apparently, Bob Dylan called him the very definition of cool. When I found out that he rocked a Breitling Navitimer throughout the 1960s, I was inclined to agree!
I always enjoy hearing what various celebrities wear on their wrists. I found it interesting that Albert Einstein was pictured wearing a Wyler, Brad Pitt has been seen wearing a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms tourbillion and Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers wore a Roger Dubuis at the 2011 ESPYS. I am told that the overall watch of choice by athletes at the ESPYS was Breitling. I know that baseball superstar Carl Crawford supposedly just purchased a Bentley at Breitling’s boutique on 57th street in New York not too long ago.
Miles Davis clearly had an appreciation for the finer things in life. He had several exotic cars, including a Ferrari, a Mercedes and a Lamborghini. To read that his go-to watch was a Navi is pretty awesome. I always appreciated Davis’ musical talent, and now I appreciate his taste in watches. Well played.
Versace just recently launched the DV One Cruise limited edition watch that has what might be the most aggressive color scheme I have ever seen on a timepiece. The case is matte black ceramic, the bezel is blue aluminum, the dial is red and the strap is half purple and half blue. I’m not sure it all works, but maybe the Versace name will power it through. I am not a fan of non-uniform straps; I think it makes the watch look like a dysfunctional mess. I guess not all limited edition pieces can be winners…
One limited edition piece I am digging is the Graham Silverstone GMT. The watch has a carbon fiber dial featuring orange Arabic numerals, luminescent hands, the date at 7 o’clock and a GMT hand. The model is offered in two different versions, one with a 24-hour bezel and one with a knurled bezel and 24-hour interior ring; these 24-hour indicators are there for the second timezone function. Both versions have an exhibition caseback and will be made in a series of 15 pieces. The best part is the price tag of $3,995. That is some solid bang for your buck!
While Breitling is unquestionably one of my favorite brands, there are so many other companies in the watch industry that cannot go unnoticed. Lately, more than ever, I have found myself focusing on models and stories involving other brands, so I figured it would only make sense to change the name of my blog. Without a primary focus on Breitling, I will be able to discuss and elaborate on a greater range of topics that will be of intrigue to watch collectors and enthusiasts. I hope to blog more frequently now and keep people entertained with the latest and greatest in the world of watches. Thanks for following!
Along with the new name and look, there are also some new features including a Q&A section. Take a look around and don’t forget to “like” the Hourology Report facebook page and follow me on twitter.
It looks like Richemont is coming up with some pretty awesome boutique edition models this summer. First it was IWC with a boutique exclusive Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar, and now it is Vacheron with a special edition stainless steel Overseas Perpetual Calendar.
The IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar features a black dial with orange hands and orange numbers that really pop off of the black dial. The orange stitching on the black crocodile leather strap compliments the dial perfectly. The 46.2mm watch features an exhibition caseback and will be distributed in both the Las Vegas & Beverly Hills IWC boutiques. Only 250 pieces will be produced.
Vacheron Constantin’s boutique exclusive perpetual calendar will be distributed in their brand new US boutique on Madison Ave. in New York. The NYC store is Vacheron’s first boutique in the United States. It is only fitting that their initial special edition model screams USA. The boutique edition stainless steel Overseas Perpetual Chronograph has a blue dial, white luminescent hands and hourmarkers, and red chronograph hands. The strap is blue on the exterior and red on the interior. Doesn’t it just make you want to get up and yell “USA?” Only twenty pieces of the model will be produced.
There are some watches that I am absolutely in love with, but almost certainly will never be able to own because of the price tag. I am sure most watch enthusiasts are in the same boat. If I could afford a Patek Philippe 5970P, I would buy that bad boy and never take it off my wrist. There are several other pieces I feel the same way about.
One thing I never considered doing was getting a tattoo of one of my grail watches on my wrist since I am unable to afford it. Apparently somebody else did, however, and opted to have a diamond bezel, diamond hourmarker, pink dial Rolex tattooed to his wrist!!!
I am somewhat at a loss for words on this one and the idea of getting a watch tattooed to my wrist. It had to have been a bet gone terribly wrong, correct? Maybe the guy just could not afford a Rolex President and figured this was a way to have one that would never come off his wrist! If only it could tell time…