Posts tagged watch

Ceramic Watches Are All the Rage

Last week we posted an educational piece about what engineered ceramic is, its properties and features, and how it is being utilized in the watch world. Again, we want to reiterate that not all engineered ceramic for timepieces is created equal, and some brands that conduct a great deal of R&D into the field actually possess proprietary types of high-tech ceramic.

That said, we are proud to carry a good number of watches in our store that utilize high-tech ceramic for cases, bracelets or bezels. This is a very popular material these days. First borrowed from the aeronautic and aviation worlds, it has made its presence well known on the wrist thanks to its great durability, scratch resistance, ultra light weight and bold look.

Depending on the watch brand, ceramic can be utilized as an accent material on bezels, as a bracelet (sometimes intermingled with steel or titanium links), or as a case. While black was always the most prevalent color in ceramic, today, white ceramic and even a few colors — such as blue, red and yellow — make their appearance on the market. We invite you in to take a close look at our ceramic watches.

Award-Winning Shinola Brings American Watchmaking Back Into Vogue

Just a little over a week ago, the jewelry industry celebrated its annual GEM Awards in New York City. Among the many awards given out at this once-a-year event, one brand is honored for its outstanding marketing achievements. This year, we are proud to carry the watches made by the brand that won: Shinola.

It had been approximately half a century since any full-production watchmaking had been done in America when a group of watch-industry veterans and friends thought they could change that by bringing American-made products back to the forefront. A couple of years ago, they formed their new company, Shinola, in Detroit, and set their sights on making watches, bicycles (made with custom-level USA-made frames), leather goods (made of leather from American tanneries), and more. Today, the company is growing stronger and garnering international attention.

The original Shinola Company from which the brand derived its name was Shinola-Bixby, a small-scale shoeshine manufacturer started in 1907. During the World Wars, when shining boots was required, Shinola’s business boomed. (Yes, this is the company around which the pop-culture saying “You don’t know sh-- from Shinola” was formed in the early 1940s. The name made sense and the brand adopted it to represent its American-made products. In a 30,000-square-foot factory in Detroit, on the College for Creative Studies campus in the ex-General Motors plant, workers assemble quartz movements consisting of Swiss-made components, and finished timepieces in a host of collections. With a lightning bolt logo that reads “Built in Detroit,” Shinola continues to unveil new lines.

Among the stars in the watch lineup: Runwell (its first collection) and the Runwell Chronograph. Available on a PVD gunmetal bracelet or on a rubber or fabric strap, the Runwell Chronograph has a vintage allure. Versions of the 47mm Runwell Chronograph include a model with a grey/brown dials and heather grey strap, one with a blue dial and PVD gunmetal bracelet, and other renditions with black or white dials and a variety of nylon strap or bracelet options. We are proud to carry Shinola made-in-America watches.

Here's an Insider's Look at How Engineered Ceramics Are Used in Watches

Easily one of the most misunderstood materials on the watch market, engineered ceramic is a high-tech material that is lightweight, durable, scratch proof and impervious to adverse weather and saltwater conditions. Neither a metal nor a polymer, engineered ceramics are a blend of oxides, carbides, nitrates and zirconium that come together to offer long-lasting elegance and hardness.

Used as bezel and bracelet accents in everything from fashion watch brands to luxury brands, engineered ceramics are not all created equal. There are a host of different qualities, and the watch prices range accordingly.

Top watch brands that put a great deal of effort into research and development often blend their ceramics with other materials — including carbon fiber and aluminum — to develop harder, stronger ceramic, and to create colors. Years ago, ceramic was just available in black, but today — although hard to find — there is red, yellow, blue and white.

The first engineered ceramic timepiece to appear in the watch world was from Rado, in 1986. But it took a long time to catch on. It has only been in the past decade — with a wild quest for high-tech materials — that ceramic has taken center stage. Before watches, ceramic was used in the space industry, aviation, auto racing and in medicine. Then, watch specialists figured out how to utilize the material that doesn't scratch and offers lightweight comfort for bracelets and bezels.

Essentially, ceramic watch parts are composed of a specially crafted blend of zirconium oxide and other materials. They are created using extreme heating processes in specially built kilns. After the heating, the material undergoes a subsequent cooling process. Finished ceramic can only be worked with specially made tools with diamond bits, and it is incredibly difficult to work. Thus, the creation of top-quality ceramic watchcases, bezels and bracelets remains exclusive.

Top engineered ceramics are a non-metallic substance that can withstand temperatures of 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. The material is incredibly durable, resistant to abrasion and hypo allergenic — making it a great choice for sport watches and dive watches.

While the fashion world also uses ceramic as accents, it is typically engineered to a different degree. Often, a fashion brand will utilize layers of ceramic on top of steel for bracelet links, instead of utilizing solid ceramic, in order to keep the costs down. Still, ceramic — no matter which quality — has an unbeatable luster that keeps a watch looking like new for decades. Check back this week, as we post a selection of some of our top ceramic watches, or stop in the store any time.

Zirconium dioxide ball bearings (photo by Lucasbosch) Zirconium oxide powder, photo courtesy of Rado.

Watches: A Case in Point

We talk a lot in our store about watch design, technology and calibers. In today’s world, everyone who loves a watch seems to care where it’s made, how it’s made, what powers the piece and more. One thing, however, that we don’t discuss as often is the watchcase, even though it is one of the most important design and functional elements of a watch.

After all, it is the case that determines the overall shape of the watch. It is the case that determines the look in terms of profile and appeal. It is the case — and the metal it is made of — that demonstrates our savvy high-tech or noble take on timepieces. And, it is the case that determines water resistance. In short, the case — whose job it is to protect the movement and sit nicely on the wrist — plays a very important role.

That said, not all cases are created equal. A watch case can be artful, thoughtful, simple and elegant. One case may be easier to machine and put together than another case. Cases can be milled from a single block of metal, or can have dozens of their own components.

A brief look at the history of the wristwatch case shows dramatic evolution. In the early years of the 20th century, when wristwatches first started making an appearance on the scene, most cases were round. By the first decade, round gave way to square and rectangular (witness the famed Cartier Tank). The Roaring Twenties yielded unusually shaped geometric cases and ergonomically curved cases. The 40s, 50s and 60s saw a blend of round, square, rectangular cases — all becoming more functional than elegant as we moved into the realm of dive watches, pilot watches and other sports-related timepieces. By the 1970s, the concept of creating a case had become a real work of art. Watch brands sculpted cases of gold and metal-smithing took a leading role. Many brands got incredibly flamboyant with shapes. Possibilities became limitless.

In addition to case shapes, heights and widths, material is key. Today, thanks to so many innovations in machining metal, and thanks to new high-tech materials, the concept of what the case is made of takes on new meaning. While the noble materials of platinum and gold are important, so, too, are stainless steel, titanium, aluminum, ceramic and other alloys.

Also playing a factor in the quality of a case is the attention paid to detail. For certain sports watches, starting a case from a single block of metal and keeping it as a single piece may render it more sturdy and rugged. However, top watch brands like to build complex cases with dozens of parts that demonstrate their abilities to produce a case worthy of the movement inside. Make no mistake, luxury multiple-part cases are no weaker than a solid block case. It all comes down to the gaskets, fittings and precision interplay of parts, screw-down case back and other small details.

Luxury watch brands also take the time to finish top-quality cases with stunning angels, bevels and lugs. In fact, all of these elements contribute to the identifiability of a case. True watch lovers can see a case (not a dial or movement) from across the room and know what brand it is. So the next time you are watch shopping — take time to inspect the entire package. Case made.

Paving the Way for High-Tech Women's Watches

In the past decade there has been an incredible surge of interest in women’s watches. This trend has been spurred by the fact that today’s successful woman wants a watch equal in stature (technically and aesthetically) to a man’s watch, and by the fact that, finally, top-notch fine watch brands are getting the message and complying.

While women’s watches have always played an important role in history, they somehow took a back seat to men’s watches over the years. That may be because approximately 98 percent of watch collectors in America are men. It may also be because many watch brands were offering simply nice watches for women without recognizing that they like functions and mechanics, too.

Fashion watch brands of the world changed the way women look at watches. These brands offered large, oversized, cool looking timepieces that women could wear as true fashion statements. These brands seized the opportunity to incorporate chronographs and other simple functions into women’s watches. Then, the high-end designer brands started putting high-tech mechanical movements into watches for women – and they sold.

While many watch brands were making women’s watches, they started to take note of the fact that women like mechanics and function, as well. Today top watch brands are offering women’s watches with automatic movements, mechanical movements and complications. Among the more coveted complications for women: moonphase indicators (a somewhat romantic and aesthetically pleasing complexity), dual timers, calendars and chronographs.

We expect to be bringing more women’s watches to the forefront throughout the year as the newest releases come to light at the upcoming international watch shows, so please stop in and see our assortment.