Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Unicorn 2 - Electric Boogaloo!

So it is time to just fess up, I am now a devotee to G-Shock.  I didn't set out for this to happen, but happen it has.

Regular readers will recount that while in Japan, many of us fell under the spell of the GMWB5000D-1, and I came back from Japan empty handed.

I have had a few whiffs of the apple since then, but have held off.  And maybe it was because I knew that this little wrist rocket was in the offing -

Courtesy of CASIO/GShock


This is the GMWB5000GD-1, and while you may think you want it, you don't.  You want to ignore this, you hate this, you can't imagine yourself wearing this, ever!

Did it work?  I was afraid of that!

So, I might have to wait again on this one, but it is beguiling to say the least.

Courtesy of Casio/GShock
Here are the pertinents -

  • Shock resistant
  • 200m water resistance
  • Solar powered
  • LED backlight (Super illuminator)
  • Full auto LED light, selectable illumination duration (2 seconds or 4 seconds) afterglow
  • Time calibration signal reception



Sunday, December 9, 2018

20 Years of the Chronomètre à Résonance

20 Years of history is not something every watch model gets a chance to celebrate.  But then again, the Chronomètre à Résonance is not just any watch model.  It has come to symbolize the life's work of François-Paul Journe and the brand that bears his name, F.P. Journe.

Courtesy of F.P. Journe
This version has the usual 12 hour scale on the right hand, but on the left the time is measured and indicated on a 24 hour scale.


Courtesy of F.P. Journe
Available in platinum (above) or 18k rose gold. 

Here are the pertinents -

CHRONOMETRE A RESONANCE
Technical Specifications 


Movement:
Calibre 1499.3 in 18K rose Gold Manual winding / 27 turns of crown


Dimensions:
Overall diameter: 32.60 mm
Casing-up diameter: 32.00 mm
Overall height: 4.20 mm
Height of winding stem: 2.59 mm


Balance:
2 flat microflamed Anachron balance spring
2 mobile stud carriers
2 free sprung balance springs
2 spring laser pinned to Nivatronic collets
Pinned GE studs
Reset to zero button for seconds
Frequency: 21,600v/h, 3Hz
Inertia: 10.10 mg/cm2
Angle of lift: 52°
Amplitude:
Amplitude: 0h dial up: > 320°
24h dial up: > 270°


Main Characteristics:
2 independent linear escapements, 15 teeth
2 independent balances with 4 inertia weights
2 position winding crown
Correction of the hour at 12h: for left dial by winding crown in one direction, and in the opposite direction for right dial
Resetting of the seconds by pulling the button at 4h


Indications:
Double display:
Left analog - indicating 24 hours
Right analog - indicating 12 hours
2 small seconds at 6h
Power reserve at 11h


Power Reserve:
40 hours ± 2 


Case:
Platinum or 18K 6N Gold
Diameter: 40.00 mm
Total height: 9.00 mm


Dial:
18K white or 6N Gold and white Silver guilloche counters







The WYVERN Classic “Petite Seconde” Chronometer

From Brellum -

Courtesy of Brellum
Hours, minutes, small seconds and date at 6 o'clock.

Courtesy of Brellum
The stainless steel case measures 42.5 mm in diameter, and is water resistant to 100 meters.

Courtesy of Brellum
Available in three different dial versions - blue, silver and black.  The movement is an ETA base, COSC certified.

The price is particularly appealing at CHF 1,590 

Here are the pertinents -

CASE:
Stainless steel case, 100m, 10 ATM
 

MOVEMENT:
Caliber BRELLUM BR-895-1 Automatic chronometer, Eta base
Movement Chronometer Officially Certified by the COSC


CRYSTAL:

Sapphire crystal BOX shape, anti reflection treatment
Domed blue, sliver or black dial, sunray pattern, with indexes and luminescent material




STRAP:

Hand made genuine black leather strap
Steel deploying buckle with safety push buttons




FUNCTIONS:

Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Date
Diam. 42.50mm, strap axis to strap axis 44.60mm
Thickness 9.40mm, 10.90mm with domed sapphire crystal

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Following Up With NOMOS

A while back I posted an op-ed piece on NOMOS declaring a position to stand against xenophobic, right wing political ideologies and to endeavor to create a safe and secure working environment for their staff where informed, rational discussion can take place.  For those of you joining our regularly scheduled programming late, here is a link to that -


I found it interesting that the majority of the watch media had not picked it up, and still haven't.  I suppose that is a separate conversation for another day.  

I have received some feedback that in some ways surprised me - people who questioned why I cared about this, what my "agenda" was, etc.  On a side note, I got the same sort of "smug" retort from a well-known watch journalist who posted a fairly racist, and derogatory cartoon, responding "Well, I don't think it's racist".  That's as well may be, but... sometimes you gotta' call bullshit.  And for me, this is one of those times.  I am confident that this guy's vague understanding of racial diversity & disparity will be malleable enough to ensure he can still enjoy the next press junket, complete with all the trimmings without any discomfort ; )

But enough about me, let's get back to the topic at hand, which is NOMOS and how they are moving forward with their day to day while they work internally to promote equality and understanding in their company.  Judith Borowski, the creative director at NOMOS Glashütte was kind enough to answer some of my questions, and you can find that below.  

In addition, at the very end of this brief interview, you will find the text from an open letter from NOMOS which could be thought of as a "statement of principles".


Tempus Fugit - 
We are clearly living in strange times.  While I personally have had a policy of speaking honestly about political, racial and social issues, Tempus Fugit is an independent outlet, and not dependent upon advertising money.  NOMOS does not necessarily have the same flexibility as it is a business dependent upon customers (retail and independent) journalists and influencers to support the brand.  What has the reaction to your efforts been from these various segments?

Judith Borowski -
The reaction from customers and the media to our public stance has been mixed in Germany, but overwhelmingly positive abroad. NOMOS Glashütte is not an organization on the left or the right of the political spectrum, but we do want to promote values that are important to us. After all, we sell watches to customers around the world and we want to promote a culture within NOMOS Glashütte that is tolerant and open-minded. As an independent company, we are not part of any larger corporation—and therefore free to make our own decisions when it comes to these types of issues.





TF -
Here in the US we are also experiencing a sharp uptick in right-wing groups, and regrettably a clear shift in terms of a blurred line between acceptable discourse and outright hate speech.  Companies that have picked a side have received a fair bit of abuse from the opposing side, losing business (and in some instances gaining new customers as well).  Have you seen a shift in your business one way or the other?

JB -
NOMOS Glashütte is a company that has enjoyed strong growth in recent years. For that reason, it is hard to say whether our public stance has had a negative impact on sales; perhaps we could have grown even further—but that is purely speculation. Of course, our position on political developments in Saxony has not been welcomed by everyone. We may have made some enemies, but we have also received a great deal of support. 





TF -
Obviously a company is headed by directors, but it is made up of all of its employees.  How have the staff at NOMOS reacted to the clear message that has been put forward by the management?

JB -
We want to offer support to our employees by giving them the tools and information they need to counteract right-wing polemics. It is our way of stopping politics and public sentiment in Saxony from moving further towards the right, and response from our employees has been very positive. That said, we are not a political party or political institution; we are, first and foremost, a watch manufacturer.




TF - 
How did NOMOS get acquainted with Courage's program?  How has the response been?

JB -
It took us a while to find the right partner to hold our workshops. The Courage association offers political education seminars, and since spring of this year we have been collaborating with them to offer one-day training sessions for our employees. The whole thing started as a pilot project, which means that our feedback has helped shape the content and format of the workshop. The trainers from Courage present strategies for fact-checking arguments that are commonly used by advocates of AfD (Alternative for Germany) and the right-wing movement Pegida, as well as debate training to give participants the skills to challenge right-wing views. This training can also be used to identify extremist ideas, counteract racist views, and to engage in political discussions with friends and family. The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive, and there has been a great deal of interest among our employees in attending these voluntary workshops—spaces are currently booked out until March 2019.





TF -
In many ways we are living in a very challenging moment in time, but in many ways this seems to be creating a lot of new opportunities for business leaders to be more socially involved.  Do you feel that this might be an opportunity for NOMOS to be seen as a definitively positive corporate citizen?

JB -
It is not easy to take a public stance on hot-button issues—and in any case, we are a business, not a political organization. We see it more as our civic responsibility; we do not want to just stand by and watch these developments as they unfold. We feel morally obligated to make our voice heard with the public statement: “Stop! This is where we draw the line.” We cannot say whether this decision makes us a positive example for others—but we can say that many other business leaders in Saxony are interested in offering similar workshops, and that when we speak to them, they say the impulse for their interest came from press coverage of our work.





TF -
If there is any lesson to be learned through all of this, what would it be?

JB -
We want to show that Saxony is a German state with a diverse range of voices—and that at NOMOS Glashütte, democracy is something that we truly value. After all, in 1989 there were pro-democracy demonstrations here. Without those demonstrations, without the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent democratic regime, NOMOS Glashütte could not have been founded. That is why we feel that some problems cannot be restricted to the political sphere, and that we all need to share responsibility so that we as a society are not doomed to repeat our mistakes.

                                                                  Glashütte, December 2018
Open Letter from NOMOS Management on the Situation in Saxony - and the Principles of NOMOS Glashütte
(adapted and updated from the German original published in September 2018)

As the year draws to a close, we would like to inform our friends abroad about an issue we have faced in recent months that has attracted attention—and criticism—in Germany. We manufacture our mechanical timepieces in Glashütte, in the state of Saxony in eastern Germany. Our workshops are not far from Chemnitz, which was the site of far- right protests and open attacks on refugees that erupted in late August of this year.

As an independent manufacturer, it is not our job to set a political agenda. But our values do not permit us to step aside and watch the process of radicalization that has gained a foothold in our region and our home. We condemn all forms of hate and violence—in no uncertain terms. We believe in our democracy and we are ready to defend its principles both in word and deed.

Given these events and guided by our principles, we decided to offer workshops to our employees, the first of which was held on October 23, 2018. In these day-long “Open Saxony” workshops, external experts from the “Courage” organization discuss forms of discrimination, provide factual information on immigration, and role-play scenarios for confronting people with opinions that differ from their own—in whatever form.

Dealing with extremists can be unsettling, we want to arm our employees with information so that—if they wish—they feel at least well-prepared to speak up (or out) and make a difference. Some people in our country have accused NOMOS Glashütte of political indoctrination that harks back to the Stasi era. Nothing could be further from the truth. All of our workshops are completely voluntary and in no way supervised by management. Our primary goal is to give our employee tools to evaluate facts and engage in open, meaningful, and respectful debate.

We believe it is our common duty to defend the democracy which our fellow citizens in Saxony (and elsewhere) fought so hard to achieve in 1989. Without the German reunification, without freedom and democracy, Glashütte would not be the same town that we know and love, nor would it be possible to manufacture our fine mechanical watches as we do here today.

Furthermore, we stand in solidarity with our employees—our colleagues—whom many on the far right do not accept for any number of reasons. We say no matter what your skin color, your sexual orientation, your age, or your religious affiliation may be, you are all welcome here.

NOMOS Glashütte is neither to the right or left of the political spectrum; but we do stand for democracy, a global mindset, and tolerance. Racism and intolerance have no place in our company.

Sincerely,
NOMOS Management



Roland Schwertner    Uwe Ahrendt    Judith Borowski


Sunday, December 2, 2018

Holiday Repeat: The Watch-o-Matic!

The Watch-o-Matic!

It slices, it dices, it's the last watch you'll ever buy!

The difference between Ron Popeil and some watch executives might be only a passport ; )

For those of you unfamiliar, Ron Popeil is the man behind Ronco -


Courtesy of the world-wide info-web

Now I want to start this out by saying that I actually have the highest respect for Mr. Popeil as both an inventor of stuff we really didn't want or need, and more importantly, convincing us that we couldn't possibly live without it.  The man could sell.

Steve Jobs had his Reality Distortion Field, per Wikipedia:

this was said to be Steve Jobs's ability to convince himself and others to believe almost anything with a mix of charm, charisma, bravadohyperbolemarketing, appeasement and persistence. RDF was said to distort an audience's sense of proportion and scales of difficulties and made them believe that the task at hand was possible. Jobs could also use the RDF to appropriate other's ideas as his own, sometimes proposing an idea to its originator after dismissing it the week before.[3]

Does this sound like some people we know?

What sort of got me caught up in this theme yesterday and today was reflecting on the "miracle" of Tag Heuer's Connected watch and the Reality Distortion Field that was spun around it.  After first poo-pooing the Apple Watch, Mr. Popeil's possible "brother from another mother" announced that, in fact, smart or connected watches were, in fact, GOOD!  Not only that, his brand would be offering one!  

As I've said before, the idea of a connected watch is not in and of itself not so crazy.  But it is a question of how many features can you actually use (really use) in a smart watch?  

For better or worse, there are only so many features you can put into a wrist bound Tamagotchi -


Shamelessly borrowed from the world-wide info-net
How many features, realistically, are worth having in a connected watch?

The Apple watch has proven itself to be a bit of a unique outlier.  Yes, it offers a ton of different features that may, or may not work well in a wrist-bound environment.  But this is not what really drives the sales of the Apple watch.  What drives the sales of the Apple watch is Apple itself.  It is a strong aphrodisiac.  It is why many people, including me, will spend MORE for an iPhone, Mac or iPad than those in the Windows tribe.  I have tried an Apple watch, and it was not quite the revelatory experience for me that it clearly has been for others.  And I LOVE Apple stuff.  But for me it was just too much.

As an experiment I tried a Withings watch and found it to be too far in the other direction - it was supposed to give time, a wake up alarm and a step counter.  The alarm did not work as advertised, the step counter did not count correctly.  It was a disappointment. 

And then we have the watch world's two notable entries - Tag Heuer's connected watch, and the offering from Frederique Constant / Alpina / Mondaine.  While the Tag Heuer offering provides all of the promise of the Apple watch, it is significantly more expensive.  And apart from the big displays at BaselWorld, I have never seen a Tag Heuer connected watch "in the wild", despite the exclamations of large sales numbers.  And the same could be said for the FC/Alpina/Mondaine offerings in terms of actual visibility.  

More than anything, regardless of what technology firm they partner with, the watch brands are now competing in a different arena.  And it is one with a lot more price sensitivity, and a requirement to evolve and innovate at a much faster pace than they are used to.  So it becomes, and will continue to be, a never ending game of catch-up.

The brands that keep the functionality actually functional have the best opportunity to grab market share.  BUT, and it is a big but, they have to put the price of the watch at a level that the market will bear.  What the Fit Bit boom underscored is that there are functional aspects that people want and will pay for.  But when we delve into just how many features they want on their wrist and just how much they will pay for it?  Well that becomes a different matter.

This is another case of less having the potential for being more.  Find four or five functions, stick with them, and make them perform perfectly.  But in addition, produce and sell it at a price point that the market will bear.  This is the other thing that Apple figured out that everyone else is still struggling with.

So we shall wait, and we shall see.