Posts tagged watches

A Halloween Look at Skeleton Watches

Halloween is here and that makes this the perfect time to talk about skeletons. Well, not the kind we usually think of at Halloween, but the kind we think of when we think luxury timepieces: Skeleton watches. Referred to as skeletons or skeletonized watches, these timepieces are intricate and alluring because the majority of the metal movement parts have been cut away and sculpted to offer open-worked magnificence.

To create a skeletonized watch, skilled master artisans and watchmakers spend hours upon hours slimming pieces to their tiniest possible size so that only the minimum metal is visible. Sometimes the skeletonizing — the act of paring away the metal and then finely finishing it — can take several weeks to a month. It is also a fine balancing act, because as the metal is removed, the strength of the material can be compromised, affecting the integrity of the watch. The perfect skeleton is bare bones, but still generates maximum efficiency and precision.

Generally, once a movement has been fully finished, it is cased between a sapphire crystal and sapphire case back, enabling stunning see-through visibility of the beautiful work of art. Sometimes, certain brands opt to just showcase a portion of the movement instead of the entire movement. In those cases, there is usually an aperture in the dial for viewing the finely finished components. We invite you to stop in any time and take a look at the masterful work inherent in a skeleton watch.

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.

Here's the Scoop on Why We Have a Leap Year

Today we celebrate Leap Year, the special time when February gets an extra day. The concept behind Leap Year has to do with keeping consistent time.

It takes the Earth approximately 365.242189 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds – to circle once around the Sun. But the Gregorian calendar year consists of only 365 days, so if we didn't add a leap day on February 29 nearly every four years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year. After only 25 years, our calendar would be off by around 6 days.

By adding a day once every four years to our Gregorian calendar, we keep our measured time in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun. This extra day will be added every four years to our calendar until the year 2100—when we will need to skip the leap year to get the timing in sync again.

With all of this in mind, we can’t think of a better time to indulge in a calendar watch. There are annual calendars and perpetual calendars on the market and both are nice devices at different price points.

Essentially the annual calendar watch tracks the information of each month on the wrist, including offering day, date and month – taking into account months that are 30 and 31 days in length. However, this type of watch requires a resetting of the date every year at the end of February (which can be 28 or 29 days, depending on if it’s a leap year).

The annual calendar’s more exclusive and expensive sibling is the perpetual calendar. In addition to tracking all of the info the annual tracks, the perpetual also counts a few other dates, including leap year. With a perpetual calendar, the watch mechanism changes the date no matter how many days are in a month, taking into account leap years. Unlike annual calendars that need an annual adjustment, perpetual calendar watches will not need an adjustment until the year 2100 when, as mentioned we will skip a designated leap year.

Graphic courtesy: timeanddate.com

What It Means When a Watch Is a Certified Chronometer

We often field the question, “What is a certified chronometer?” With summer here and extreme activities, such as flying and diving, often taking center stage, it is a good time to address the topic. First developed back in the 18th century — after decades upon decades of research and development — the ship’s chronometer provided a way for sailors and explorers to keep accurate time at sea and calculate longitude. These tools enabled modern sailing and exploration to flourish and, today, certain rugged wristwatches now achieve certified chronometer status.

Essentially, a chronometer wrist watch is a high-precision watch capable of displaying the seconds while housing a movement that has undergone stringent testing in different positions and at different temperatures. The watch is rated under laboratory conditions in a specified testing institute and is then certified as having passed those tests within certain ranges of accuracy and precision. Several chronometer testing institutes exist, but the most prestigious and well known for Swiss watchmaking is the Controle Officiale Suisse des Chronometres – or C.O.S.C.

Watches made in other countries sometimes have their own testing facilities (Germany has the Glashutte Observatory in Saxony; France has the Observatory at Besancon). Sometimes, advanced watch brands test in-house to even stricter standards than the COSC standards. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the COSC certification. There are three different COSC laboratory testing facilities in Switzerland: Biel/Bienne, Geneva, LeLocle. All of these organizations test the watches based on the same criteria.

The ISO 3159 standards, to which the COSC complies, require each piece to be tested for five to 15 days in five positions at several different temperatures. Measurements are made daily with the help of cameras and based on comparisons with two independent atomic clocks. Only those that have met the precision criteria are granted an official chronometer certificate. Among the list of requirements that must be met before the mechanical watch can be said to have passed: an average daily rate criteria of -4/+6 seconds; a mean variation in rate of 2 seconds; a thermal variation of + or – 0.6; and more.

Certified COSC chronometers are identified by a serial number that is engraved on the movement. They are proven to withstand a host of different outside influences that range from heat and water to pressure and durability — making them rugged, precise tools. Because of the rigorous and intense testing, only about 3 percent of all Swiss watches produced are COSC-certified chronometers. After all, it is not an easy feat.

Graduations Are Here and Father's Day Is Around the Corner — Give the Gift of Time

Yes, the season of Dads and Grads is upon us. It is hard to believe that Father's Day is just 10 days away. Similarly, many people are celebrating graduations this month. Both of these events are perfect opportunities to give the gift of time — in the form of a wristwatch.

Not only are watches a constant reminder to the wearer that you took special care in selecting a perfect gift, but also, watches make an individual statement — a way to express something personal without saying a word.

In the coming week we will bring you some great gift ideas, but we can't stress enough how great a watch would be. Maybe the young graduate would like a sporty watch, or has an eye on something dressy, but still casual? Maybe hubby has a hobby that involves diving or flying? We have the perfect watch for every occasion, for every interest — and for every budget.

Stop in and see us. We won't steer you wrong.