Posts tagged watch news

Taking a Close Look at Watch Case Design and Construction

Last week we discussed how materials for cases, bezels, bracelets and straps are becoming more advanced in terms of durability, lighter weight and scratch resistance.

However, what we haven’t talked about is the very essence of the watch: the case itself. In fact, one of the most important design elements of a timepiece is its shape. From round to rectangular, from square to oblong, the look of a watch determines its appeal – and that starts with the case shape and its profile.

All cases are not created equal. A watch case can be artful, thoughtful, simple and elegant, or it can be bold, three dimensional, rugged and high tech in nature. One case may be easier to machine and put together than another case. In fact, cases can be milled from a solid block of material or can have dozens — even hundreds — of parts that must be put together.

In the early years of the 20th century, during the Art Deco period, many cases were square and rectangular (such as the famed Cartier Tank or the iconic Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso). The Roaring Twenties yielded unusually shaped geometric cases and ergonomically curved cases, as well. However, by the late 1930s and into the 1940s and 1950s, we began seeing more round watches. This is because people were beginning to demand water resistant watches, and it was much easier to make a round watch water resistant than a square one with so many edges and angles.

Once the utilitarian need of water resistance was conquered, brands began working on cases that became art – and new shapes appeared, including sculpted cases, coin cases, Dali-inspired shapes and more.

Today’s luxury watch brands offer a case for everyone. While certain sports watch companies may mill a case from a single block of metal to render it more sturdy and rugged, other brands build complex cases with dozens of parts to demonstrate their abilities to produce a case worthy of the movement inside. These multiple-part cases are no weaker or less water resistant than a solid-block case, as long as the brand has focused on gaskets, fittings, screw-lock casebacks and crowns, and an overall precision interplay of parts.

The making of a watchcase starts from a mold—a plaster-like or 3-D printed rendition of what the case will look like. When all the parts and angles are approved, the case material is selected and high-precision cutting machines mill the case parts (lugs, sides, back, bezel, etc.).

Each of these parts is then fitted together and properly fastened and finished with stunning angles, bevels and more — all of which lead to a highly recognizable finished timepiece. It is no easy feat making a case that is distinguishable from across a crowded room, but top watch brands do it.

Stop into our store anytime and we can do a side-by-side comparison of some of the finest cases and shapes on the market.

How High-Tech Materials Play a Role in Watchmaking

While watchmaking technology has been steadily improving for more than five centuries, there always seems to be room for improvement. Today’s finest watchmakers continually push the boundaries when it comes to innovation – offering new and exciting technology, functions and even materials.

Gold, platinum and steel will forever be forged into watch cases, but today, many brands also take their inspiration from the space, aviation, automotive and medical worlds when it comes to super high-tech materials.

Among the favorites are engineered ceramics, multiple grades of high-tech titanium, hypoallergenic alloys, aluminium (a derivative of aluminum that can be colored and is super light weight), carbon fiber (a dense yet light-weight material that is super strong thanks to the layering or weaving of thousands of strands of fibers), kevlar and more. Some brands are even working with transparent sapphire to create cases that are virtually see through.

The point behind these materials is not just to offer an exciting marketing angle, but, more to the point, to offer more durability, more scratch- or shock-resistance and lighter weight. Indeed, the materials used have to meet a clear objective, whether that is achieving a certain color, a certain weight or a certain aesthetic appeal.

Some brands are even building their own alloys of gold that will keep the gold from scratching or wearing in any way. This, of course, makes them even more precious in the long run.

Additionally, brands are even perfecting the coatings they apply to the materials. Years ago, when one wanted to add a different color to a metal, the piece was bathed in an electroplating process. Today, at the high end of the luxury watch spectrum, a host of coating methods can be employed, including PVD (physical vapor deposition), DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) applications and other methods that make the coating last longer and resist scratching.

We invite you in any time to see our vast array of timepieces that utilize high-tech materials in their cases, bracelets, bezels and straps.

Spring Fling: Touring Switzerland's Watch Regions Is a World-Class Breath of Fresh Air

Watch lovers take note: the mountain air in Switzerland is particularly fragrant in springtime. This is especially true for those who may want to tour the famed watchmaking region in the Jura Mountains — the Vallee Joux, Le Sentier, La Chaux de Fonds. Geneva and its outlying cantons, such as Neuchatel, Le Locle, Villeret offer breathtaking views of the country’s forests, lakes and mountains, as well as of some of the most famed watch brands in the world (Oh, and let's not forget the chocolate or the cheese).

A visit to La Chaux–de-Fonds and Le Locle also gives you the opportunity to say you've been to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just about seven years ago, in 2009, these “manufacture towns” joined the select UNESCO list. The towns became popular in the end of the 17th century, when farmers turned to watchmaking to idle away the long winter hours and to earn an income to supplement their non-existent winter crops. The art caught on and the region produced clocks and travel watches for clients around the world — making it a unique place of interest.

Since the cities came under the UNESCO list, Neuchatel tourism has increased significantly, and the tourist department has even developed an exclusive program that allows watch-loving tourists to discover the region’s rich history. They are working with certain watch brands and museums to encourage them to open their doors for tours. Today, some brands offer tours on specific days via reservation.

Additionally, fascinating world-class watch museums reside in this region: The International Museum of Horology in La Chaux-de-Fonds (Musee International d’Horlogerie) and the Le Locle Watch Museum (Musee d’Horlogerie, Chateau des Monts). Both are universally acclaimed for the quality, breadth and scope of their collections and for their tireless efforts to offer a high-caliber cultural experience with each visit. Both museums have exhibits that include early automatons, watchmaking benches, tools and more.

Halloween Delights: Bell & Ross Unveils BR01 Skull Bronze

Bell & Ross is known for its exceptional timepieces, particularly the bold square BR01 collection of watches. Now, the brand unveils the BR01 Skull Bronze — a new icon whose bronze 46mm case references the legendary military codes of the past, but in contemporary style.

In 2009, Bell & Ross introduced its first Skull BR 01 watch — a talisman timepiece that keeps collectors coming back. This new version, with its distinctive character, pays tribute to the parachutists of the Second World War. On their jump-suits, these elite fighters wore a crest bearing a skull and the words: "Death from Above." Today, the emblem of the skull continues to figure on a lot of military equipment, and this watch pays tribute to that.

The BR 01 houses a self-winding movement. A screw-down crown makes the watch water resistant to 100 meters. The watch features golden indices shaped like spikes. The skull in the middle of the dial glows in the dark thanks to the use of applied B-light photoluminescent pigment, and a special tanning technique has been used on the leather strap to give it a worn effect. Just 500 pieces will be made. We have a nice collection of Bell & Ross watches that we invite you in to see anytime you want.

Recommended Reading: 3 Top Watch Books for Your Fall Indulgence

As summer comes to a close and fall whistles in with its cool nights and windy days, many find this a great time to settle in and pick up a good book. Lucky for you, we have some great new "reads" that have come on the market for watch lovers only. Here we bring you three top watch books for fall indulgence.

Of particular interest to women, Times of Arabia is all about women's watches as inspired by life. The book falls into eight individual chapters and deftly captures the spirit of the things in life that inspired designers: the sky, the sea, architecture, fashion, mechanics and Earth itself. The book, written by Roberta Naas, veteran watch journalist, features full-color images and illustrations, and makes for light, easy reading and a beautiful coffee-table display.

For lovers of nature and its interpretation in watches and jewelry, you won't want to miss the new Cartier Panthere book. This oversized hard-cover rendition traces the brand's love affair with this sleek animal, and reviews some of the most famous Panthere pieces ever made. Just the photography of the animal alone is worth taking a close-up look, not to mention the artistic masterpieces realized in its likeness.

Sports lovers and car lovers will appreciate the Shelby Cobra 50 Years book, written by Colin Comer with a forward from the late Carroll Shelby. Published with Baume & Mercier, the book offers historical insight into the big win of the Shelby Cobra over Ferrari back in the early 1960s. It is chock-full of historic racing images and superb reflections of a bygone era that made auto history.

Each of these books offers a different take on time.