Sunday, October 23, 2016

Doing Good - Oris

This just in from Oris -

Courtesy of Oris

Saving the world’s coral reefs

Oris announces a new partnership with the CoralRestoration Foundation

It’s an uncomfortable fact that over the last 40 years, 90 per cent of the world’s coral has been lost. Coral reefs are the most threatened habitat on earth. Stony corals are the most at risk group of animals facing extinction. This must stop.

Oris has a deep passion for the oceans and is committed to making a difference to endangered underwater ecosystems. The independent Swiss watch company has been making divers’ watches since the 1960s, and over time has partnered with a number of charities and organisations that work to conserve the world’s oceans. Now, Oris is proud to announce a new partnership with the Coral Restoration Foundation.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Channeling my inner George Jetson

People who write about watches can often be identified by what tribe they belong to.  But those tribes are not always so understandable and knowable at first blush.

Robert- Jan Broer who is responsible for the wonderful Fratello Watches site is known far and wide (and rightly so) for his knowledge, and more importantly his passion, for the Omega Speedmaster.

Tim Jackson is half of the dynamic duo behind Passion Fine Jewelry (Jana Jackson being the other half).  Passion is perhaps the most important retailer of independent watch makers in North America, if not the world.  But with his blog, Independent in Time, Tim carries the torch for those rare souls out there still doing it on their own - the independent watch makers.

Jack Forster may not have founded Hodinkee, but for many of us he made it SOOOOO much better. Moving from more than merely a promotional vehicle for both the brands and the site, Jack is one of those rare people that can (and does) actually take the time to dig a little deeper into a topic and actually find those esoteric little tidbits that make his articles far more than just posts about watches.

Courtesy of Bell & Ross

And if I belong to a tribe, it is perhaps the tribe of "Visceral Appreciation".  What I am drawn to, 9 times out of 10, has precious little to do with price point (low or high), complication (let's face it, I don't enjoy even the most basic aspects of home maintenance, how in God's name am I going to navigate a grand complication?), brand name (okay, I will say that Vacheron pretty much turns my crank no matter what, don't know why, but they do), or what everyone else says I should like (sorry Mr. Biver, not buying what you're selling but feel free to send more cheese).  Clearly I am a focus group of 1.

So getting back to that "visceral memory" thing.  This is the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 AEROGT.  It is one of those watches that, for whatever reason, jumped out at me.  It took me back to that time of wonder, where as a young boy I thought about a world much bigger and interesting than the small town of Oberlin where I grew up (population around 3,000, if memory serves).  When I was 10 years old, my grandfather had the wonderfully misguided idea that I should be given one of the very first LED watches that Texas Instruments made.  So for those of you wondering just how f'ing old I am, that was around 1978.  

I loved that watch!  I made sure that EVERYONE in my class saw it and went to great lengths to share not only how unique it was, but how special I must be because I had it ; )  

I hit the display button with the same intensity that a job seeker hits the refresh button on their email to see if they got the position they interviewed for the week before.  Needless to say, I don't think the watch was "ready for prime time" or for "Henki-Time" for that matter as after a few days it pooped out and was returned to Texas Instruments for service.  Within a week a BRAND NEW watch arrived from Texas Instruments!  And the repaired watch showed up a few days later!  Talk about customer service!!!  Unfortunately, while the after sales service was great, the actual quality of the watch was not.  Within a few days, both the new watch and the one that was repaired had both crapped out.  And my classmates made sure to share with me their "compassion" with that type of empathy that 100 year olds are famous for ; )   

Needless to say, a lesson in humility was probably needed.  But that George Jetson / Buck Rogers / Captain Kirk inspired watch haunts me nearly forty years later.  And although they are COMPLETELY different things, I find myself drawn to the BR 03-92 AEROGT for those same, visceral feelings.  It is not rational, it is not based on research or analytics.  I simply like it.

Here are the pertinents -

Limited Edition of 500 pieces.

Movement: calibre BR-CAL.318. Skeleton automatic mechanical. 

Functions: hours, minutes and seconds.

Case: 42 mm in diameter. Satin-polished steel.

Sapphire case-back with anti-reflective coating.

Dial: skeleton. Metal appliqué indices. Metal skeleton Superluminova-filled hour and minute hands.

Crystal: sapphire with anti-reflective coating. 

Water resistance: 100 metres.

Straps: black calfskin stitched with red piping and ultra-resistant black synthetic fabric.

Buckle: pin. Satin-polished steel.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Better, but not Good Enough

The results are in, and if we look at the graph we can see is that the needle moved just a tiny little bit north.  And that is good.  But when looked at holistically, it is clear that a massive turn around is not in foreseeable future.   The US posted an increase of 4.5%.  Now again, that is a good bit of news.

Courtesy of the FH

But, as always, we have to look at the entire picture.  And while the US clawed back some sales, Hong Kong dropped even further into the mire posting a loss of - 39.6%.

Now the other curious number is the incredibly fast paced growth of the UK market.  It is now up  +32.4%.  I'm a reasonable guy, but this type of growth is a little curious.  While it is entirely possible that such a large number of watches are heading to the UK from Switzerland, it does beg the question as to whether or not all of those watches are going out the front door of your friendly neighborhood retailer, or has the UK begun to emerge as the next grey market / trans shipping?  

Sales are good, they are important.  But in the mad dash to move units one way or another, a lot got pushed aside or brushed under the carpet.  And that is what led us to where we are now - an oversaturated marketplace with too many watches washing around and not enough people ready to buy them at the full price.

We shall wait, and we shall see.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

An Affordable Chronograph with a Twist

Based in Göteborg (Gothenberg) Sweden, Tusenö is offering a new collection of smart looking chronographs at a very good price point.  This is the First 42Tusenö's first collection.

Courtesy of Tusenö
A clean and easy to read bi-compax face and a diameter of 42 mm are the more obvious selling points, but beauty is more than "case deep", and it is what the First 42 has under the hood that caught my attention.

Courtesy of Tusenö
The movement in question is Seiko's VK64, a hybrid Mecha-Quartz.  So you get all of the accuracy of a quartz movement with some of the sensory feelings of a mechanical one.  For those of you looking for a good read on the topic of mecha-quartz, I refer you to an article from the folks over at Gear Patrol.  

The First 42 is available in four different versions.  A stainless case version with either a black or white dial (pictured above).  For the stainless models, here are the pertinents, 
straight from the source -  

Model Name: First 42
Case Size: 42 mm x 11,5mm
Dials: White
Case Material: 316L surgical grade stainless steel
Glass: Sapphire crystal, slightly convex
Movement: Seiko VK64, Hybrid Mecha-Quartz Chronograph
Strap: A black crocodile embossed leather strap and a mesh strap
Clasp: Butterfly Clasp
Water resistant: 5 ATM

And if gold is more your thing, fear not!  Tusenö's got you covered with a gold plate version -

Courtesy of Tusenö

A white dial (above), and a black dial (below) -

Courtesy of Tusenö

Here are the pertinents for the gold plate version, straight from the source -

Model Name: First 42
Case Size: 42 mm x 11,5mm
Dials: Black sunray pattern
Case Material: 316L surgical grade stainless steel (rosé gold plated)
Glass: Sapphire crystal, slightly convex
Movement: Seiko VK64, Hybrid Mecha-Quartz Chronograph
Straps: Brown crocodile embossed leather strap and a suede strap
Clasp: Butterfly Clasp
Water resistant: 5 ATM

Priced at $396, this is a great opportunity to lay hands to a neat watch at a good price.  To be clear, I have not held or tested one yet, but if all is as advertised, then this is an interesting alternative.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Heritage Cronometro TIPO CP-2

From Zenith -

Courtesy of Zenith
This was a refreshing change of pace from the flood of co-branded watches coming down the chute lately.  A beautiful bi-compax with rotating bezel.

Courtesy of Zenith

This is a watch inspired by an earlier Zenith model.  The original was for the Italian military and was issued to pilots in the Air force and Navy and delivered through Zenith's Roman distributor A. Cairelli.

And now it is being reissued in a limited edition of 1,000 pieces.

The movement is the El Primero and according to the folks at Zenith, offers 50 hours of power reserve.