March 1, 2016
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…
February 29, 2016
My client (a luxury-watch brand in the +80K $ price range) had struggled for two years with a watch that just did not work. The swanky “we know everything” producer of the mouvement for this watch (a subcontractor to several famous high-end brands) had us endure hours of useless meetings. A bunch of the better payed elements of sayed factory would be present. Engineers, designers, boss of this, boss of that… no watchmakers. Drawings were shown, theories made. Everybody were blamed. Casemakers, dialmakers… none of it made sense to the only watchmaker present, me. Casings and dials were remade for eye-watering amounts of money. The solution to the problem was one tiny spring that was too strong and blocked the calendar mechanism of the watch. A fact I pointed out at our first meeting and was promptly laughed off. A proper watchmaker would have found the problem (and did) in one day for a cost of 500$ + a one-hour meeting with a prototypist.
It puzzles me that 4 times out of 5, when I try to call somebody in a Swiss watch factory, the person is in a meeting, going to a meeting or has his day off. My wild guess is, this concerns about 10% of the employees in any Swiss watch factory in the luxury segment.
Well, I finally found the answer to this riddle, in this fine article by Anne Fisher / Fortune magazine:
Here are the eight tactics the OSS (baby CIA) recommended for tripping up an Axis agency from the inside:
1- “Insist on doing everything through channels. Never permit short-cuts to be taken to expedite decisions.”
2- “Make speeches. Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your ‘points’ by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences.”
3- “When possible, refer all matters to committees, for ‘further study and consideration.’ Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.”
4- “Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.”
5- “Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, and resolutions.”
6- “Refer back to a matter decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.”
7- “Advocate ‘caution.’ Be ‘reasonable’ and urge your fellow conferees to be ‘reasonable’ and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.”
8- “Be worried about the propriety of any decision. Raise the question of whether [it] lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.”
February 17, 2016
Social Media Nugget #2
Stephen McDonnell. This man is the real deal:
February 17, 2016
-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.
February 16, 2016
Social Media Nugget #1
This is a great minute repeater test! Take a piece of paper and a pen. Listen to the watches and rate them according to what you hear.
Isn’t it just magic how the results of this test match what you heard with your own ears? No need for fancy gadgets. When you listen to one watch in isolation, it’s more tricky, though. It’s sad the “AP” was rated “barely audible” because the sound was so sweet you could cry. It’s also kind of unfair to pick this Claret watch for the test, since it’s a “Westminster” and a lot more complicated to make than the other watches on test. But, it also did not sound like a “Westminster” should.
This watch proves why www.pristinewat.ch is such an important service in the +100K watch market. This Claret watch sounds fine (even if the hours slow down, a bit) while the one in the test above, definitely did not. This type of watches are “hand made” if any and one watchmaker is better than another. The name on the dial proves nothing. These watches should be judged individually for their quality. Have a good look at what you buy and your watch will be an investment… not a money pit.
This is the regular Claret minute repeater and it does not particularly light up the sky, either: