Marco Koskinen, Your Man In Switzerland

Category: Quality

99 Problems And My 100K Watch Is One

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I felt myself slowly slipping on the wrong side of zen. The feeling of weakness you get when you’re faced with a complete nutter and you realize there’s no way you can make him see how very insane his point of view is. We’re talking a 15min fix to a watch that takes 5 weeks to make. The winding up of this watch felt rough and gritty and this “boy”, responsible for the quality of all watches in this swanky high-end watch company, tells me I have to accept it. Nothing can be done to make it better… and, we are talking about a watch that could be yours for 650’000$. Now how mad is that? In Tissot, Rolex, Seiko… in any company that produces reasonably priced watches such a detail would be dealt with without discussion, but this person was having nothing of it.
The thing is, if you only deal with +100K $ watches you can lose your sense of proportion and reality. A triple-axis tourbillon or a minute repeater is not an excuse for a gritty winding mechanism or a dirty and badly oiled movement. If you pay 100’000$ for your watch it will not be ten times “better” than your 10’000$ watch. Regardless of how inspired and obsessed with watchmaking “your man” looks in the “documentary” film from this or that luxury brand’s workshop, the sad truth is, he’s more interested in his next coffee break than in the person who will pay the price of an Aston Martin for the watch he’s assembling. Producing a limited edition, complicated watch, involves more “solo” work by the watchmaker and we are all different. Therefore the results differ, too.
The more you invest in a watch, the better you want to have it’s “tires kicked”.

Top 15, problems on new +100’000$ watches:

1.Damaged casings. Polished too many times and out of shape or scratched lugs.
Retailers don’t by expensive watches to keep in their stock. Watch brands lend them to them. If not sold the watch will go to another retailer. On the way to the next shop it will pass the factory in Switzerland and get polished, grained, sand blasted, whatever the finishing requires. Depending on how many times this is done, the poor thing will look miserable. The original shape will be so rounded off that you can’t tell if it’s an apple or a pear. Turn your watch around and you will most probably see the scars under the lugs, left there by too many ham-fisted strap changes.
2.Cracked or scratched dials.
These can be pretty difficult to see in stone, enamel, mother of pearl etc. The price of an exclusive dial will make your eyes water, so you want to find out about these faults before the warranty runs out. Better yet, before buying.
3.Marked or scratched hands.
Hard to see, especially on a polished surface.
4.Dirt on the dial side or in the mouvement.
This is very objective but dirt is dirt and will harm the performance of a watch. Tiny, nano particles, only seen with a microscope, will not.
5.Scratched crystals.
Again, hard to see. A tiny mark in the anti-reflex coating is not a problem.
6.Winding and hand setting too hard or too “free”. Hand setting not “smooth”. The crown does not stay in the intended position.
Again, very objective. But, generally, if you feel something’s difficult or wrong, something probably is.
7.Cracked or badly oiled jewels.
A serious fault. No client will see this.
8.Scratches on the movement. Damaged screws and eccentrics.
A god indicator of the quality of a given watch.
9.Counters on chronographs not working correctly.
10.Minute repeaters not striking correctly at all times.
11.Rate and amplitude problems.
Pretty impossible for the client to check in the shop.
12.Watch not as water-proof as promised.
See above
13.Crown not turning true.
If a lazy watchmaker tells you it can’t be made better… change watchmaker.
14.Badly printed and centered dates, retrogrades, moon faces etc..
15.Coarsly working pushers.

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Baselworld 2016… 2009, all over, again.

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“Care in the design of a wrist watch is necessary if the dial is not to resemble a gas-meter-as the cluttered faces of so many modern watches do”.
The news from Baselworld 2016 are similar to 2009. There’s a stoic calm over the exhibition area. While a few brands are happy, with commands that
will secure production a long way into 2017, most are sucking their teeth, though. What the Swiss watchmaking did not have to deal with in 2009, was a completely new product like the connected watch. Any brand trying to sell a “cheap” watch in 2016 that is not connected is like Nokia in the face of the iPhone a few years ago… the beginning of the end. To make matters worse for the struggling watch companies, the greed of the Baselworld organisation seems to be second to none. What makes me particularly sad is hearing that a company like Zenith, who have a really cool spare parts policy, are enduring some hard times. I wish collectors would realize, at the moment of buying the next watch, what a difference it makes in price and delivery time, to deal with a company like that.
Like during the last economic slump traditional and classy seems to sell better than innovative and over the top. Brands like Patek Philippe and Rolex are hard to beat when collectors shop for investments. But, the absolutely cracking news is that companies, managed by real watchmakers, like Voutilainen, Grönefeld and and Sarpaneva are really kickin’ it, big time. Way to go.
“Students sometimes introduce style for its own sake in an attempt to distinguish their work. Such artificial attraction soon becomes dated and holds little interest for the collectors and patrons of the artist-craftsman’s work”. Amen
Quotes by George Daniels
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Is Silicon The Snake Oil You Want to Pay For In Your Collectible Watch?

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I don’t collect watches but I have a few motor cycles. To me a bike that’s not running is not a bike. It’s a stock of spare parts, at best. My wife sees it more as a waste of space and money. The value of all my six bikes, together, does not come close to the price of a decent watch. Still, would I have bought any of my two-wheelers if I knew it had a crankshaft made of sugar and I’d have to send it to Japan every time it decided to snap. Would the sugar-crank factory still supply their thing in twenty years?
If you regard your watch as something with a two year life span. As a phone or a laptop, and throwing away 1000$ every 24 months does not bother you, silicon, pvd, glue etc. are perfect materials for building a watch. But, I don’t see any way crappy materials raise the value of a watch. It can look dead tricky, be different and sound like a joint venture between CERN and NASA but it’s not good watchmaking. Like having more than one tourbillon in a watch, it’s trying to reinvent the wheel, complicate things without gaining anything in the way of precision or quality. I do understand that watches can work as proof of technical ability and be super interesting and collectible because of their complexity but you want to be able to maintain and keep the watch working for generations to come for it to be an investment.
After-sales service is a major problem in watchmaking. The watch brands say they don’t make any money with it. Independent watchmakers are refused spare parts. Clients have to wait forever to get their watches repaired. I don’t think using novelty materials in valuable watches is the way forward…

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No Brown Smarties For Van Halen

Diamond Dave

-Legend has it that Van Halen/David Lee Roth ordered Smarties backstage of all their gigs. But, the organizers of the gig were asked to weed out any brown Smarties from the bowl. Now that sounds particularly “diva stupid” but actually it was a strike of genius. If the organisers did not take that simple request seriously they could have had the same attitude conserning something more dangerous, like the stage construction or the lighting rigs.
-If you have a good look at your watch, chanses are you will find scratches or dents on the underside of the lugs. In the worst case on top of the lugs. The lugs get scratched if you drag the spring bar against the unprotected lug while fitting the strap. To protect the lug and do the job correctly takes about 30 seconds longer and you need a person who “knows his onions” to do it. Most shops or even watch factories don’t seem to have that person.
-It’s under the lug so it’s not visible… and brown Smarties taste the same as the blue and the red ones. But, it might be a sign that somebody is not taking your gig seriosly.

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