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Much buzz has been generated from our new Presidents choice of timepiece. Since his entrance into the public eye, Obama has only been spotted wearing two different timepieces. A little digging for pictures taken of Obama throughout the years previous to his campaign reveals that it is indeed only these two watches that he has chosen to wear through the years. The first of which, it is speculated, was acquired around the time of his 1991 graduation from law school is a TAG Heuer Series 1500 watch. The second, a much more elusive watch that sparked months of heated online debates and searches to discover just what brand our new president had placed on his wrist is a little known private label Jorg Gray watch.
The TAg Heuer Series 1500 watch is a two-tone diver watch, produced back when TAG's main focus was to produce professional sports watches. The watch was powered by a quartz movement and was a typical divers watch, featuring a 200 meter water resistance and a unidirectional rotating bezel. The screw-down crown, sapphire glass, and luminous hands and dial markers add to the water resistance and readability. Archived photos show that this watch was the only one Obama wore, at least according to pictures, for more than fifteen years.
It wasn't long before the election that a new watch appeared on Obama's wrist. This new watch was a chronograph, and despite the efforts of many watch enthusiast to identify the watch it remained a mystery. After many in depth investigations it was discovered that this watch had a Secret Service shield on the dial and that he had received this watch as a gift for his 46th birthday. This watch was produced by a company called Jorg Gray who is owned by a company dedicated to custom manufacturing items with third party logos. This particular watch was part of a batch of fifty watches ordered for a secret service employees store. This version of the Series 6500 Chronograph watch has become an instant sensation, and many quickly tried to make a quick buck from the watches instant popularity by selling later series watches. Jorg Gray now produces a commeorative edition version of the watch which features an engraved back celebrating the inauguration of Obama.
in Learn | Sunday, October 5. 2008
The Audemars Piguet Millenary Watch with Deadbeat Seconds is an exquisite timepiece inside and out. Featuring a mechanism inspired by a late 18th century creation by Robin, the brand-new system combines the high efficiency of a direct-impulse escapement with the reliability of a Swiss lever escapement. The movement requires no lubrication, something that had not yet been achieved without relying on the use of new materials like silicon. This breakthrough was first presented in the world-first Cabinet N° 5 watch in the Tradition d’ Excellence collection in 2006. Now the magic is unveiled in the beautiful new Millenary Watch.
The high efficiency of the watch is thanks to the distinctive geometry of the Audemars Piguet escapement, because it does not require any lubrication it can avoid the regular maintenance that clogging from the accumulation of grease can cause. Direct impulse on the balance and the detached single-beat escapement decreases disturbances and promotes extremely high efficiency. The movement also has excellent shock-resistance which protects the watch from tripping or overbanking. The escapement platform has been turned around so the escapement is visible from the dial side of the watch, and the plate has been hollowed to reveal the mechanism. The Calibre 2905 movement features two balance-springs placed one on top of the other at a 180° angle. The deadbeat seconds are an independent display which jumps once a second without disturbing the running of the watch. This is most often found in the famous Audemars Piguet pocket chronographs but has been miniaturized to wristwatch size. The Calibre 2905 hand-wound movement is an oval-shaped movement comprised of 233 parts.
The elegant pink gold oval Millenary case has a brushed middle and a polished bezel with an entirely open dial and off center displays. All components are entirely hand-finished which includes bevelling and rhodium-plating. The sapphire crystal case-back shows the twin barrels rotating and the three-point screw and circle layout which is repeated in the centre of the barrel. The case is on a hand-sewn alligator leather strap and fitted with a pink gold folding clasp.
There has yet to be an official definition of what classifies a timepiece as a Grand Complication, there is however an understanding among watchmakers and watch connoisseur alike that a watch must meet certain guidelines to acquire this grand title. One could be safe to assume that a Grand Complication timepiece will always contains at least three complications, and one of those will undoubtedly be a Perpetual Calendar, a Tourbillon, or the Minute Repeater.
The first of these complications, the perpetual calendar, is a mechanism that automatically takes into account the varying number of days in each month as well as leap years - many also contain a moonphase function. Most often, the perpetual calendar is based on the Gregorian calendar which does not need to be corrected for more then a century. The second complication in the "Grand" category is the tourbillon, which was invented to reduce the debilitating effects of gravity on watches, which ultimately lead to inaccurate timekeeping. With a tourbillon, the
negative effects of gravity ultimate cancel themselves out. Lastly, the minute repeater is a device that the current time is announced by means of a combination of sounds that represent the hour, quarter hour, and minute. It is arguably the most difficult to construct, and no two sound exactly alike. A supreme test of a designer's expertise and watchmakers skill is the creation of a Complicated watch. IWC was the first to create a Grand Complication in a pocket watch, it was introduced in 1890 with more than 1300 mechanical parts. 100 years later, they made history again when the created the IWC Grand Complication Wristwatch - a watch still in production today with a limited release of just 50 pieces a year. Patek Philippe has built some of the world's finest examples of complicated timepieces. One recent example, Patek Philippe Reference # 5004 is a split seconds chronograph that is the most complicated model in Patek Philippe's line of stopwatches.
A supreme test of a designer's expertise and watchmakers skill is the creation of a Complicated watch. IWC was the first to create a Grand Complication in a pocket watch, it was introduced in 1890 with more than 1300 mechanical parts. 100 years later, they made history again when the created the IWC Grand Complication Wristwatch - a watch still in production today with a limited release of just 50 pieces a year. Patek Philippe has built some of the world's finest examples of complicated timepieces. One recent example, Patek Philippe Reference # 5004 is a split seconds chronograph that is the most complicated model in Patek Philippe's line of stopwatches.
First discovered in 1803 it has taken many years and several breakthroughs to reach the point that Palladium is today. Until very recently palladium alloys were too soft to meet the standards to be used for watch cases. But all that changed when the 950 palladium alloy was developed by Johnson Matthey, a world leader in advanced materials technology. The new palladium 950 alloy is a lightweight and durable option for watchmakers. It is lighter weight than gold with a greater wear resistance, though they are similar in malleability. It is harder metal than platinum and is less likely to scratch. And while it is thirty times more rare than gold its value is less than half per troy ounce. It is so rare in fact that it is one of the ten rarest elements in the earths crust.
Palladium has been made into jewelry since 1939 and has been used in watch springs for sometime now. The development of the Palladium 950 alloy and its subsequent use by watchmakers is perfect timing for the great increase in popularity of the white metals. It is now being used by such brands as Cartier, Chopard and Ulysse Nardin and has been used in several of their limited edition releases. As the public becomes increasingly aware of Palladium, other big brands are sure to follow the lead of companies like Cartier and begin incorporating this metal into their collections.
Panerai got its start in 1860 when Giovanni Panerai began producing precision instruments for use by the Italian Navy in Florence, Italy. But it wasn't until 1993 that Officine Panerai created a series of limited edition models aimed at the civilian market. It is these watches that are often referred to as the Pre-Vendome models. Pre-Vendome refers to the "re-birth period" between 1993 and 1997 before the Vendome company acquired Panerai. The watches produced during these years were numbered limited editions and have quickly become very collectible and hard to find. Prices for these rare watches have been skyrocketing as Panerai collectors try to get their hands on the rare pieces.
The rebirth brought the Luminor, Luminor Marina and the Mare Nostrum chronograph. The Luminor and the Luminor Marina had manual wind movements and 44mm cases made in steel or pvd steel. All the pre-Vendome models came on straps with large bottle opener buckles, with the Mare Nostrum buckles being slighlty smaller than the full-sized ones. Most of the Pre-Vendome watches came in an oak box which is quite different than the boxes used today. The exception being the Slytech watches which came in a very large box. The Slytech was named for the actor Sylvester "Sly" Stallone, a huge fan of the line. These limited edition watches have Stallone's signature engraved on the back and he has worn them in various movies. Inside the boxes were additional straps and papers, including a hand drawn blue-print for each watch.
The Panerai Pre-Vendome Reference numbers are 5218-201/A; 5218-202/A; 5218-203/A; 5218-205/A; 5218-207/A; 5218-209; 5218-210; 5218-301/A; 5218-302; 5218-304; and 5218-218..
From 1994 and 2004 it was Girard-Perregaux that was partnered with Ferrari in a co-branding agreement. When the contract expired Panerai struck a deal with Ferrari to produce its own line of co-branded watches. Both being Italian companies, the relationship seems destined. The new Ferrari watches were introduced at the Ferrari test track in Maranello Italy, and became available inthe United States in August of 2006. Today there are 23 models divided into two collections, Granturismo and Scuderia as well as Special Editions. The Ferrari collection have design aspects that reflect the design of the cars, such as the prancing horse and the Ferrari logo.
The Grantourismo line is the more elegant of the two designs styles. The FER00001 has the Panerai OP III calibre movement which has an oscillating weight engraved with the Prancing Horse. The case is made from polished steel with brushed edges, it has a winding crown with the Ferrari logo. The black dial black has a square-grid decoration and features the Ferrari logo and Prancing Horse at 12 o’clock. The black alligator strap has white stitching, while the inside of the strap is in red alligator with red sewing.
The Scuderia line is the more sporty of the two. The FER00002 also has the Panerai OP III calibre movement with a power reserve of 42 hours. The case is in polished steel with brushed edges, and has a winding crown with the Ferrari logo. The case-back is also in steel, and has an engraving of the Prancing Horse. It is on a black calf strap with the inside in yellow alligator with yellow sewing. The buckle has been personalised and is adjustable. Each watch has a steel screwdriver and a second interchangeable strap in rubber with the inscription Ferrari.
Since a long term contract has been signed between Ferrari and Panerai there will surely be many years of exceptional watches produced in the Panerai Ferrari line.
In the early 1900's aviation was revolutionizing the world, bringing us to new and exciting levels of discovery in the world and technology. The new form of travel brought many new challenges for watchmakers to tackle. With the higher altitudes came a slew of new advances to compensate for the new extreme conditions. Shatterproof glass, a rotating bezel, luminescent features and antimagnetic movement were all developed to offset the effects of this new environment. While IWC was not the only brand to make watches specifically designed for pilots, they have contributed some of the best and most innovative pilots watches to date.
In 1948 IWC introduced what has proven itself to be their most famous watch, the Mark 11, which was produced for almost 40 years. Most notably the watch's 89-calibre movement was the first to have an additional soft iron inner case which shields it from magnetic fields. Today the Pilot's Watch Mark XVI is continuing the tradition of greatness, with protection against magnetic fields and a glass secured against drops in air pressure, the Mark XVI is indeed a reliable companion for the everyday to the most extreme of conditions.
With its introduction in 2002 the IWC Big Pilot has become the new must have pilots watch. It features one of the largest automatic movements in the world, calibre 51111. As its name indicates this is an oversized watch at just over 46mm wide with a height of 15.8mm. It is produced in stainless steel and white gold, recently a rose gold version was released as a limited edition of just 50 pieces.
in Learn | Wednesday, May 7. 2008
The Les Masques watches from Vacheron Constantine are not traditional by any means, and perhaps even a far cry from what many have come to associate with the Vacheron brand. But this observation is not an insult to these new additions to the Métiers d’Art collection, in fact far from it. I find these watches to be visually refreshing and I marvel at the attention to detail taken while reproducing the masks. They are a unique accomplishment, melding the best of design and function. And while some people will balk at the non-traditional use of masks on watches such as these, I find myself drawn to them. The only problem I foresee would be choosing which one to wear first, were I lucky enough to own them.
The Masque watches, released in 2007, are only the first four of the twelve to be created. When complete, the collection will consist of 3 sets, with one set released each of the three years. There will be four watches in each set, 25 pieces of each. Each of these twelve watches will have a different ancient mask on the dial. The four masks chosen for the first set are a Chinese death mask, a Congolese face mask, an Indonesian theatre mask and an Alaskan frontal mask. They are exact miniature reproductions of actual primitive art masks from the Barbier-Mueller Museum in Geneva. The miniatures were created by scanning the real masks to get a three-dimensional image. Then producing a prototype in gold that was given to an engraver who meticulously carved the masks to replicate the exact look of these ancient artifacts.
After the masks themselves are produced they are then incorporated into the watches. The way the masks are placed and the specially-treated glass makes them seem to be floating in space. Each mask is set on a sapphire dial that has been tinted in a complementary color. Each dial is engraved with an individual poem written by a famous a French writer named Michel Butor. The poems themselves are only visible at certain angles accomplished by engraving the underside of each crystal with the words of the poem before filling the engraving with gold. The placement of the hours, minutes, days and date in four separate dials is somewhat non-traditional in itself. The 40 mm cases are produced in white gold for the Alaskan mask, pink gold for the Indonesian mask, yellow gold for the Chinese mask, and platinum for the Congolese mask.
While the design of the Les Métiers d’Art “Les Masques” watches are unique, the movement used is the same cal. 2460 found in the Les Métiers d’Art “4 Saisons” unveiled for Vacheron Constantin's 250th anniversary which took place in 2005. They have a transparent caseback and are water resistant to 30 meters.
The name Breguet is indeed one of the most recognizable name in watchmaking. It has accomplished much in its long history as a brand, such as the invention of the tourbillon. The Breguet Type XX was first introduced in 1954, as a pilots watch produced for the French Airforce. Previously pilots had been carrying a pocket watch version of the chronograph, and now it had been produced in wristwatch form.
The Breguet name has made its mark in aviation in other ways than the design and production of watches for its pilots. The fifth generation descendant of the original Breguet watchmaker, Abbraham Louis Breguet, was Louis Breguet who used his technical genius to manfacture airplanes. He was one of the original founders of Air France. The Breguet XIX made history in 1922 when it made the first non-stop flight from Paris to New York in 37 hours.
The Breguet Type XX was originally equipped with a 30 minute recorder, a flyback function and a straight-line lever escapement. Today it has evolved to include a 30 minute and a 12 hour totalizer, and a graduated rotating bezel. Breguet has also expanded production to include a titanium version as well as the original stainless steel. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Type XX the Type XXI was introduced. The Type XX had a slightly smaller 39mm case while the Type XXI is 42mm. The Type XXI also includes a flyback minute totalizer and a 24 hour time display and a stunning 18k pink gold version is available.
Since the company's start in 1875 Audemars Piguet has stood among the best, with its early development of the 8-ligne minute repeater and its 1960's record breaking thin movement. But it is the Royal Oak that has become AP's most renowned watch. It was designed in 1972 by Gerald Genta, who's well-known skill has been used to create masterpieces for many other high end brands such as Patek Philippe, Omega, and IWC. The Royal Oak was a surprise success, carving out its niche as a luxury sports watch.
The Royal Oak got its name from three of Britain's Royal Navy's warships that sailed between 1802 and 1939. Its relationship to ships can be seen in the porthole shaped bezel, and its sporty design. In 1993 Audemars Piguet introduced the sturdier Royal Oak, the Offshore designed for the more extreme sports. The Offshore has raised the lines success to new levels. In 2003 the brand saw some of its greatest success when it sponsored the swiss racing yacht the Alinghi in the America's Cup race. Soon after AP released the Royal Oak City of Sails Chronograph to mark the success of Team Alinghi. Since then AP has also become involved in formula one racing and in 2004 honored juan pablo montoya with a limited edition piece followed in 2006 with a watch honoring Rueben Barrichello.
With the brands new success they have branched out in the world. Recently, several other limited edtion pieces have been created to honor the opening of boutique stores around the world, such as the Royal Oak Offshore Rue St-Honoré Limited Edition series of 100 . The Paris edition is a beautiful watch on a White Hornback crocodile strap with red, white and blue seams and stainless-steel AP folding clasp. The Royal Oak Offshore Ginza Limited Edition of 200 was created to celebrate the opening of the AP Boutique in the Ginza district of Tokyo, Japan.
If you are considering purchasing a pre-owned timepiece, it is important to follow a few simple steps to insure you are buying the best product possible. Knowing what to look for in a pre-owned piece could keep you from wasting your hard earned money on a malfunctioning or unusable wristwatch or even worse a replica!
Here are a few things to consider when shopping for a used watch:
Does the watch come with the original box and paper?
Having the original box and papers with the watch can add to the watches value and in turn will add to how much you will be paying for the watch. It is always best to look for timepieces with original box and papers. It will be easier for you to sell it should you choose later on, and it also lessens the risk that you will end up with a replica.
Does the seller provide a warranty for the watch?
While a pre-owned watch in most cases will not have a current manufacturer’s warranty, any good watch dealer should provide some kind of warranty on the pre-owned timepieces the sell. Pay close attention to the lengths and terms of the warranty, it is best to get a full-coverage warranty.
Is the watch guaranteed authentic?
The number of replicas being passed off as the real thing is enormous, especially online! Make sure that you have done your research on the watch dealer you plan to buy from. Do they guarantee the products they sell to be genuine? It is a good idea to check out the Better Business Bureau website and read up on the company before you purchase.
Has the watch been serviced recently?
Some pre-owned pieces are still relatively new, so this point may not be as important. But for older watches, find out if the watch has been serviced recently and what, if anything was done to the watch.
What is the condition of the watch?
A watches condition is rated using the following terminology:
Anything less than excellent condition, unless it is a very rare or collectible piece, is not an ideal purchase choice. If you are interested in purchasing a watch despite some obvious flaws, there is much a good watchmaker can do to help restore a watch to its original condition. A scratched case can often be restored to near mint condition by having it professionally polished.