Understanding the Three Most Popular Types of Watch Movements

In watchmaking, there are essentially three different types of movements, also called calibers. And, of late, there are also solar powered watches, but that is a different story. Here, we bring you a brief look at exactly what a watch movement is and how the three most common types differ.

Essentially, the watch movement consists of all the parts that power the watch, track the time, and provide the power for added functions. Some of the most complex mechanical watches with additional functions also have specialized modules built onto the base caliber. But we will stay with the essentials herein. There are two types of calibers that are totally mechanical and do not incorporate batteries: Automatic and Hand Wound.

Hand Wound Mechanical Movements

Essentially a hand-wound — also called manual-wind — is one in which the wearer must manually wind the watch via the crown. By winding the crown, the mainspring inside the watch is coiled tightly via a gear train that leads from crown to spring. As the spring slowly unwinds, it releases its energy, powering the watch. Of course, the system is much more complex than that. Inside the mechanics, a balance wheel and spiral work to keep energy released by the spring consistent and accurate. The key with this type of movement is that one must remember to wind the watch or the energy will deplete and the time indications will need to be manually reset before winding the watch again.

Automatic Movements

A mechanical watch with an automatic movement (also called a self-winding movement) works in a similar method. However, in this type of movement, a few additional parts come into play. Each caliber in an automatic movement is fitted with a rotor that moves when the wearer moves his or her wrist. That movement automatically powers the rotor (sometimes referred to as an oscillating weight), which winds the mainspring. The watch is powered as long as it is being worn, and the power in that watch will last – when taken off and sitting still in a box or on a dresser – for a designated time period. That time period is called “power reserve” and different watches are equipped with varying amounts of power reserve.

Quartz Movements

A quartz movement is not powered by mechanics, but instead by a battery. Quartz watches were first developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and came into true serial production in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Quartz watches use a tiny piece of low-frequency quartz crystal (silicon-dioxide) that is chemically etched into shape in an integrated circuit, and that serves as the oscillator. A nearby battery sends electricity to the quartz crystal through an electronic circuit. The quartz oscillator then vibrates quickly and with precise frequency (32,768 times/second) in response to the electronic charge. The circuit counts the vibrations and generates regular electric pulses of one per second to drive the motor that turns the hands. There is no need to turn the crown or set the watch after the first time. However, in quartz watches, the batteries will die and need to be replaced.

NFL's #3 Pick Dante Fowler Rocks the Gold Carpet in Gold-Studded Christian Louboutin Loafers

In a media spectacle reminiscent of the Oscars, the 261-pound Dante Fowler rocked the gold carpet at NFL Draft Day sporting a white suit with crimson piping, gold-and-white bow tie and $7,000 gold-studded Christian Louboutin loafers — with red soles. He was escorted by his mom, Lanora.

The explosive rookie defensive end from the University of Florida, who clearly has an eye for style and can run the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds, was drafted #3 in the first round by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In a video posted on Twitter, the 6 foot 3 inch powerhouse is shown excitedly opening a box containing his blinged-out shoes. Bright-eyed like a kid on Christmas morning, Fowler said, "You know, if your going do it big, then do it big. You know I'm here to stand out and that's what I'm going to do."

It's not every day that a fashion magazine gets breathless over a sports figure, but InStyle.com headlined its coverage this way: "These $7,000 Christian Louboutins Stole the Show at Day One of the NFL Draft." The reporter pointed out, "You couldn't see the flash of red sole until Fowler walked across the stage as a newly drafted Jacksonville Jaguar, but what a detail: it picked up the crimson piping on his white tux. It's quite a step up from cleats!"

On the gold carpet, Fowler summed up his fashion strategy: "It's something unique, something different. I'm just a guy that wants to do different things. I'm a guy that's into fashion, so it's something I wanted to do for a little minute." He told former pro Deion Sanders, “You look good, you feel good, you play good.”

Fowler told the Associated Press that the idea to wear the gold-studded shoes to this high-profile event was inspired by fellow Florida alum Joe Haden, who wore the exact same design to his wedding in July 2013. At the time, it was reported that the cornerback, who now plays for the Cleveland Browns, had to settle for shoes one size too small because they were the only pair available in the U.S.

Fowler also had trouble sourcing the shoes, but eventually tracked them down. After he solved the shoe challenge, he had to pick a suit to match. In the Twittersphere, many observers noted that if the young man plays as well as he dresses, the Jaguars have certainly struck gold.

Images: Twitter/NFL; SI.com screen captures; NFL.com screen captures.

Super-Rare 30.80-Carat Purple Diamond Found in Refuse Pile by South African Tailings Processor

A super-rare 30.80-carat purple diamond with “exquisite gemological characteristics” was salvaged at a diamond tailings plant in Kimberley, South Africa.

Tailings are the residue of the diamond-bearing ore that was processed during the original mining operation.

Oftentimes, the tailings will contain viable gems and this is why Batla Minerals’ Superkolong recovery plant has been set up near DeBeers’ famous Kimberley Mine. The tailings plant recovers 15,000 carats of mostly lower-quality diamonds each month.

However, while sorting through tons of waste material, the company spotted the massive purple rough diamond, which they named the “Kimberley Purple.”

Batla Minerals CEO Jean Retief told NationalJeweler.com that the discovery of the Kimberley Purple is a “clear statement of the (Superkolong’s) viability and its ability to produce something special.”

The Kimberley Purple is currently on display in Antwerp and will be tendered later this month.

Due to their rarity, purple diamonds demand the highest premiums and can yield more than $1 million per carat.

In 2014, another purple diamond, the “Purple Orchid”, a 3.37-carat fancy intense pinkish-purple diamond was valued at $4 million, or about $1.18 million per carat.

Israeli diamond company Leibish & Co. introduced the Purple Orchid to the world during the 2014 September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair.

What makes purple diamonds purple is still a scientific mystery. It’s been established that a yellow diamond gets its dazzling color from minute traces of nitrogen in the diamond’s chemical composition and a blue diamond gets its color from boron. When it comes to purple, scientists suspect hydrogen as the stray element, but they’re not so sure.

Purple diamonds can be found in only three locations worldwide — South Africa, Russia and Brazil. While Russia’s purple diamonds have overtones of blue and Brazil’s purple diamonds tend to have a hint of orange, the purples and intense pinkish purples from South Africa display the absolute best brilliance and purple sparkle, according to Leibish.

This fact bodes well for the Kimberley Purple, a South African stone. We can’t wait to see what cut is in store for this fabulous find.

Images: Kimberley Purple via nationaljeweler.com (uncredited); Purple Orchid courtesy of Leibish & Co.

‘The Ring (Engagement)’ by Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein Has $50 Million Price Tag at Sotheby’s

In 1963, Pop art pioneer Roy Lichtenstein earned $1,000 for his comic-book-style painting called “The Ring (Engagement).” On May 12, Sotheby’s will be asking $50 million for the same work of art.

“The Ring (Engagement)” is one of Lichtenstein’s largest paintings at 48 inches by 70 inches and depicts a close-up view of a man placing a diamond engagement ring on a woman’s finely manicured finger. In the background is a web-like formation of tapered red crystals.

Interestingly, “The Ring (Engagement)” has had only two owners since Lichtenstein painted it in 1962. French collector Jean-Marie Rossi bought it from the artist’s gallery in 1963 for $1,000 and sold it for $2.2 million to Chicago businessman Stefan Edlis in 1997, the same year Lichtenstein passed away at the age of 74.

Edlis told The Wall Street Journal that “The Ring” has been hanging in his media room for years and was the first hand-painted Lichtenstein he ever bought. “I think it’s so sexy how he takes this quiet moment of a proposal and turns it into an exciting crash,” Edlis said. “Clearly, the woman accepted.”

Sotheby’s noted that the painting "encapsulates all of the major themes" in Lichtenstein's "most acclaimed and sustained body of work." The Manhattan-bred artist, who was a contemporary of Andy Warhol, often used comic strips and popular media as inspiration.

According to ArtNews.com, Lichtenstein created a series of paintings based on scenes from love and war comic books during a three-period starting in 1961. “The Ring (Engagement)” is from that series.

The work demonstrates the artist’s signature usage of Ben-Day dots, which are small colored dots that are either tightly spaced or widely spaced on a white background to trick the eye into seeing other hues. Widely spaced red dots, for example, would be perceived as pink.

The pricing of the bright red painting reflects a booming market for Lichtenstein’s works. Two years ago, Lichtenstein’s “Woman With Flowered Hat” sold for $56.1 million at Christie’s New York.

“The Ring (Engagement)” can be previewed at Sotheby’s Los Angeles and will hit the auction block at Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Sale on May 12 in New York.

Credits: “The Ring (Engagement)” photo via Sotheby’s; Roy Lichtenstein image via Wikicommons.

Have You Ever Wondered Why Jewels Are Used Inside Watches?

We have gotten a lot of questions from customers about why rubies are used inside watches as part of the watch movement, so we thought it was high-time we address the issue. Essentially, when a mechanical watch movement is said to have a certain number of jewels in its composition, those jewels are predominantly synthetic rubies created especially for watch movements and used as bearings to reduce friction.

Being strong and hard, they help to ease friction, and thereby, wear and tear amongst the mechanical parts. The advantages of jewel bearings include accuracy, small size and weight, predictable friction, good temperature stability, and the ability to operate over the course of decades, as they don’t break down.

These rubies are synthetically developed utilizing aluminum and chromium oxide that undergoes a series of heating, fusing and crystallizing processes. Because the material is mass-produced, it does not have the extremely high intrinsic value of natural rubies. The number of rubies used in a mechanical watch varies depending on the complexity of the movement. The more moving parts there are, the more rubies are used. A typical fully jeweled time-only watch has 17 jewels, but some watches can utilize many more.

Setting the minuscule rubies into the designated movement holes is a tedious task, done using tweezers and microscopes. When a mechanical watch offers a skeleton movement, or has a transparent sapphire caseback for viewing the movement, the rubies are an entrancing portion of the design. Today, some top luxury brands are utilizing silicium parts to reduce friction, as well as reduce the need for too-frequent servicing of watches.