Permanent Bling

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…

Ebay… To Save The Day?

While I was in Vegas last week, I overheard a guy say, “I wish I had just put all of my expendable income into watches over the last five years instead of the stock market.  I’d be a lot better off today if I had.”

With all of these crazy price increases from the various brands taking place, there is no question that the value of previously-owned timepieces is going to go up.  Breitling is joining the company of Audemars Piguet, Hublot and Ulysse Nardin by having their second price increase of the year tomorrow.  Patek Philippe just announced that they will be following suit as well in a little over a month on July 15.

Earlier this week, I read an article about a guy in California looking for a way to raise enough money to send his son to UCLA.  What better way to do so than to sell his used watches?  In order to help send his kid to school, he listed his collection of 19 Rolexes on eBay to be sold in entirety.  The auction started at $100 and was at $70,200 with over nine days left.

I have tried to track the auction over the last couple of days to see if we could witness another incredible eBay watch transaction, and I now see the auction has been terminated.  Rumor has it that the auction was canceling for violating the TOS.  Does anyone know the particulars?  I would love to find out!

Either way, look for a big boost in the pre-owned watch market over the next six months.  Believe it or not, new watches are becoming more expensive and less available!!!  I would not be surprised to see or hear about more large vintage-watch transactions over the rest of the year.

The Art Of The Movement

I read an incredibly interesting article in the NY Times this week on the Swatch Group. The watch manufacturing company is unable to meet the current demand for its products. To combat that problem, Swatch is looking to add 2,000 employees and expand their factories.

The statistics mentioned in the article are astounding. Exports of mechanical timepieces increased 32 percent in terms of units from 2009 to 2010. Meanwhile, Swatch group’s net profit in 2010 was a record 1.08 billion Swiss Francs.

The most interesting part of the article for me was reading how Nick Hayek, the Swatch Group CEO, wants to change what it means for a watch to be “made in Switzerland.” Swatch has supplied the base movements for watches manufactured by brands outside of their group for years and controls 70 to 80 percent of the industry’s current overall watch movement production.

As Hayek says, “We are in a ridiculous situation that would be like having BMW supply all the engines for Audi and Mercedes. In no other industry do you have one company supply all the critical parts to the people who then compete directly with it.”

Patek Philippe, Rolex, Zenith, Girard-Perregaux, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Glashutte are all true manufacturers that make all of their watch movements in house. While numerous other brands produce some of the movements for their watches entirely in house, most of them outsource movement parts from Swatch and other manufacturers.

The threat of Swatch no longer supplying movements to various watch brands is what has led brands like Breitling into investing millions upon millions of dollars towards producing in-house movements. If Swatch decides to completely stop supplying other manufacturers with movements, it would certainly stir things up in the watch industry. Each brand would have a much stronger individual identity.

Some watch collectors and enthusiasts are very particular about the movements used in their watches. Others care more about aesthetics and case materials. What matters the most? I think the answer varies depending on whom you talk to. We all have our different values. Regardless, I think it is crazy to undervalue the art of watch movement production. Nick Hayek clearly agrees.

New York Times Article

Brand Sponsorship

Who would you want as your sponsor?

I always love seeing which watch brands famous actors, athletes, musicians and events are sponsored by.  I was fortunate enough to go to Wimbledon a couple years ago, and Rolex was everywhere at the All England Club.  Meanwhile, I could not help but notice Rory Mcllroy had an Audemars Piguet patch on his shirtsleeve while playing the Masters a couple weeks ago and rocked an AP stainless steel Royal Oak Chronograph with a silver dial once he was done.  I love that AP by the way!

I am now reading that Longines is the official timekeeper of the upcoming Kentucky Derby and that the winner of this year’s race will get a Longines Column-Wheel Chronograph.  I remember Hublot was the official timekeeper of this past summer’s World Cup in South Africa and how a huge Hublot digital game clock was used and held up when substitutions were made.

I cannot help but dream about which brand I would choose as my sponsor if I had my choice of the litter.  You probably have never seen Patek Philippe sponsoring a person or an event because they never have!  Regardless of who you are or what you do, Patek Philippe never gives out a watch for free.  If they did, however, and were part of the field, what watch brand would you choose as your sponsor?  Would you go with a big brand name or a brand that flies more under the radar?

L’O – Hotel L’Orologio

A special thanks once more to everyone who participated in the polls last week.  We received a good amount of votes for each subset of watches.  It looks like the Navitimer World was the favorite from the Navitimer family, the Chronomat and the Chronomat 01 were aside one another atop the Windrider series, the Skyracer Raven was the winner in a close race amongst the Professional family, the Super Avenger took the torch for the Aeromarine series and the Mark VI and Bentley 6.75 were the favorites of the Bentley line.  The winner of the contest is listed below, while I have taken note of all of the people who took the time to give their input each day.  There will be plenty of more giveaways, and I am already working on getting in some ridiculously awesome new Breitling swag.

A buddy of mine sent me a cool article over the weekend about a hotel in Florence that is going to carry a special watch theme with it for this summer’s Pitti Uomo men’s biannual fashion show.  L’O – Hotel L’Orologio, a boutique hotel owned by luxury hotel group Whythebest, is going to hold owner Sandro Fratini’s personal collection of more than 2,000 vintage watches.

Each floor of the hotel is dedicated to a particular brand from Fratini’s collection of Rolex, Vacheron-Constantin and Patek Philippe watches.  The hotel is made up of 54 rooms, and each room is adorned with elements from Fratini’s timepieces.  L’O – Hotel L’Orologio is meant to give off the feel of a traditional men’s club and certainly looks like a gorgeous place to stay.  I think the watch theme is brilliant!

The winner of the giveaway is Steve Melendez.  Steve, please email me when you get a chance so that I can confirm where you would like me to send a copy of The Book, the Breitling lighter holder, the Breitling lighter case and Breitling utility knife.  Congrats!

Zenith is Back.

I know many Breitling enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting the company’s first in-house movement to be put in an exhibition caseback, and I can tell you that it’s coming and it won’t be long…  A brand that already has their extremely reputable in-house chronograph movement visible through an exhibition caseback is Zenith, a brand that has really reemerged onto the scene in the watch industry.

Zenith is one of the few true manufacturers in the Swiss-watch world today, meaning they make all of their movements themselves.  A couple other true manufacturers are Rolex, Patek Philippe, Glashutte, Girard-Perregaux and Jaeger-LeCoultre.  Zenith’s famous El Primero movement is arguably the best chronograph movement in the world; in fact, Rolex used it in the Daytona until they went completely in-house in 2002.

The El Primero movement beats 36,000 times an hour, while the average chronograph watch operates at 28,800 vibrations per hour.  Frequency is what creates accuracy, so the El Primero movement is therefore supposed to hold time better.

Zenith’s legendary El Primero calibre was the world’s first automatic chronograph to beat at a rate of 10 vibrations per second.

Anyway, for a couple of years, Zenith was coming out with watches in their Defy series that were outrageously overpriced.  I mean we are talking $27,000 titanium chronograph watches on rubber straps…  You should only make your price tag that high if you want to end up like Wyler

Understanding that those watches are not what people are looking for in today’s market, they decided to change it up and get back to their roots.  The new El Primero 36,000 stainless steel chronograph now retails for $7,900.  Not only is it an extremely sharp looking watch, it showcases the movement that defines who they are in an exhibition caseback.  Now that’s what I’m talking about….

If you have yet to see the new El Primero Striking 10th Chronograph, you absolutely have to.  This timepiece is limited to 1969 pieces worldwide and has a large red central 1/10th of a second counter hand that makes a full revolution every 10 seconds, once the chronograph is activated.  Talk about sick and innovative.  I love it.  Congratulations Zenith, you are back on the map.

Quick! What time is it?

Last Sunday morning I went out to brunch with four friends of mine.  Four of the five of us were wearing nice watches.  One was wearing a Hublot Big Bang, one was wearing a Tag Heuer, another was wearing a SuperOcean Steelfish and I was wearing a Chronomat B01.  It was a nice little collection the four of us had going together.

After I ordered some delicious blueberry pancakes, my one friend asked what time it was.  My buddy who was wearing the Hublot brought out his Blackberry, looked at it for a second and said, “12:15.”  I could not believe it!  I immediately asked him, Did you really just take out your cell phone to see what time it is? The guy was rocking a ridiculously sick 44mm Big Bang!

We then had a short conversation as to the overall purpose of a nice watch.  We all love watches obviously; four of us were wearing one at that time, and our other friend owns a really nice two-tone Rolex.  When asked what the time was though, my one friend still looked at his Blackberry.

If you think about it, watches are really one of the only ways a man can express himself from a material standpoint.  Musician John Mayer, who is a huge watch collector, had a great quote: “A man’s got two shots for jewelry: a wedding ring and a watch. The watch is a lot easier to get on and off than a wedding ring.”

John Mayer on watches

Why do you wear a watch?  Is it because it makes you happy and puts you in a good mood, or do you wear one primarily to know the time?

Quartz Quality

Very few high-end watch brands offer a variety of quartz models today.  Some prestigious brands, such as Blancpain and Rolex, actually make zero battery-operated watches for men (Blancpain has never made a quartz watch since they were founded in 1735 and never will).  Breitling, however, makes sure that those watch enthusiasts who prefer their watches to house quartz movements have options.

All Breitling watches are certified by the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC), the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute.  COSC regulations require an automatic watch to be running on time within +6/-4 seconds a day.  Some people are so precise though that even if their watch is only a few seconds fast or slow a day, it bothers them; they prefer their watch to be as accurate as possible and therefore, look to the quartz timepieces.  Lucky for them, Breitling provides them with some awesome choices.

Breitling Colt Quartz

In addition to quartz watches such as the Colt Quartz and the Avenger Seawolf Chrono, Breitling offers some battery-operated watches with digital displays like the Aerospace, the Airwolf and the Emergency.

Breitling Emergency

My personal favorite digital quartz ‘ling is the multifunctional Volcano Black Airwolf Raven.

Breitling Airwolf Raven

What a hot piece!?  I love the sporty look and it is crazy how many features it has.  In addition to the time, it has a 1/100th of a second chronograph, an alarm, a countdown timer, a second timezone with an independent alarm and a battery end-of-life indicator.  Not too shabby!

What is you favorite quartz Breitling?  How about your favorite Breitling with a digital display?