Sunday, May 1, 2011

- Watch This Space -

It seems as though the only time I have been blogging as of late was to inform all of my readers [both of you...I know I know, old joke] of these major life changes that have nothing to do with watches, watchmaking, or the watch industry. Honestly, who cares about that? Well my lack of writing lately has been because of yet another major life change. You see, my wife is a global health practitioner by trade and we tend to move a lot due to her employment opportunities. Most recently we found ourselves moving to Zambia for about a two year period. This is the most stable situation we have been in in about 2 years.

After the initial shock of actually packing, storing, and picking up and moving to Africa, then the time it took to get acclimated to my vastly different surroundings; I really wanted to start writing again. I have been doing my best to keep up with the industry and what's going down, but we only recently got fair Internet service in our home. It's not like I can go to the corner mart and pick up the most recent issues of 'Watch Time' and 'International Watch' magazines [and the Patek Philippe ads on the back of 'The Economist' don't really keep me up to date].

I really wanted to include my current place of residence in my blog in some way, and I've been struggling with how to do that without changing its core subject matter. I still want to give opinion and news the best I can, with an occasional African bent to it.

Recently on Twitter I mentioned a watch shop that I found in Kitwe, about 40 miles away, where there are three generations of Zambian watchmakers called "Swizam". The shop is the ONLY brick and mortar shop I've found in the Copperbelt Province. I will be traveling to Kitwe early next week and decided that I will touch base with owners and see if they wouldn't mind a short interview and a write on The Escapement. I thought this would be a nice way to re-kick off [AGAIN] the blog. On my first visit to Swizam to inquire where I could order tools and supplies from I was welcomed into the Zambian watchmaking community very quickly. Something tells me that they will be more than happy to chat with me for a few minutes and have their picture taken for a little free publicity.

Here's hoping you will continue join me in the coming months as I do my best to keep this as entertaining as possible.

As always comments, and questions are always welcome.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

$1 Watch Review

I picked this up on eBay for a whole American dollar [+ $3 shipping], based on someone who showed it to me in person a couple of weeks ago. It's an LED watch that animates the time and date when the side pusher is pressed.

An interesting enough looking watch

Wow! Now it's 6:04 PM

...And now for my long awaited review:

Does it work?

Is it accurate?

How is the strap?
Kinda crappy, but that's to be expected

Does it require math?
Eh, a little

Is it fun?
Sure, why not?

Was it worth a buck?

That's about it. Dollar watch = Dollar review.

Enjoy your week!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Patience Pays Off

Almost exactly one year ago I posted an article about a Rolex that I found in front of my apartment while I was living in Boston. I brought the watch to work, snapped some pics, asked around the online community a bit and got solid confirmation that the watch was legitimate. That evening I turned the watch into the Brookline Police Department. I told the officer that I wanted to find its original owner as I imagined someone was looking for it, and stated that if the original owner came into claim it to pass along my phone number as I wanted to hear the history of the watch. At this point the officer said to me in a very smooth Boston accent "So a watch collector finds a vintage Rolex on the street and turns it in to find the original owner?.....Good man." Honestly, that alone was worth turning it in. I really wanted to find the original owner because if I lost it I would hope like hell someone was trying to find me.

Along with turning it into the local police department I spent the next couple of months posting on watch forums, and on Craigslist etc etc seeing if I could aid in the search. I opted to not post pics and rely on the owner being able to describe the watch to me so not just anyone could claim it. If I was contacted I would have put them in touch with the police department.

Fast forward to a year later, I contacted the property/evidence officer at the police department and was told that no one had claimed the watch and now I could consider it mine. Needless to say I was quite excited. There was only one problem...I moved to Seattle, I was literally across the country. In speaking with the detective he told me that if I arranged it I could have someone pick it up in my absence. I found a good friend in the area who agreed to proxy me and pick up the watch. I told the detective his name, put them in touch with each other and...Bingo Bango...The watch arrived in the mail today.

So here it is, it's commonly referred to as a "Rolex Rebberg", or "Rolex Trench Watch". I have it dated somewhere between 1914-1920 but am still waiting for confirmation on that. The name "Rebberg" refers to the movement that it has, it's possible this model has a proper name, I just don't know it yet.

Since I started the watchmaking class which has every tool I could possibly need I am going to be able to disassemble, clean, reassemble and oil, regulate and time it myself. The only change I am going to make is the hands, in doing some research I see that the hands have been replaced, I have already found modern equivalents to the originals and will be getting a pair of them. They should look something like THIS.

So all in all it's not a bad way to get a vintage classic...Finding one on the street. I was definitely fortunate that the watch ended up in my hands, and to its original owner, where ever you may be, I promise that your old watch is now in good hands [ask around] this piece will be pampered and cared for properly. I'm sorry you lost it, but am relieved that it no longer needs to spend its time in a police station not being fed daily.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sixth iPod Nano Officially Gets Watchified

As I briefly mentioned in my previous post, many people are throwing NATO style straps on the newest version of the iPod Nano and wearing it as a wristwatch. I understand that there are some minor issues with things like battery life, but all in all I think its a great idea, and I'm looking forward to the day when I can don one myself. Anything to get something new on the wrist, right?

Enter a small company named Hex, recently they introduced a silicone watch strap that the new Nano sits inside of. The new jacket has an opening for the headphone jack, and integrated buttons for control. I think we can also presume that the case of the iPod will be well protected encased in the strap.

The Hex strap will set you back about $25, and comes in a a choice of 9 colors. They can be seen in greater detail, and purchased, through the Hex website:

A great way to hide the headphone cable [photos courtesy:]

Friday, October 29, 2010

Opinion: Watches Aren't Going Anywhere

Yesterday I was barraged by articles [like THIS one] about a poll that was taken in the UK stating that "time has run out for the wristwatch". It seems like once a week I am clued into an article that says something similar to that sentiment. The more I see them the more annoying they become.

How many times have we seen the so called death of the wristwatch? Too many to count. Apparently this poll was taken among what I can only imagine was very young people who rely more on their personal devices [MP3 players, smart phones, and tablets] than they do on a wristwatch. Well I'm here to tell you that there are really no worries, the wristwatch industry is thriving...Especially on the mechanical end. So not only have sales been up in recent years, and steadily increasing after the recent recession, but it's mechanical watches that are proving their worth, not just the more affordable quartz pieces. Watches are worn mainly by adults, of course most teenagers and people in their early 20's don't care about them...They're having enough trouble understanding the value of things when new $400 gadgets come out every 3 months which leave the old $400 gadgets in an underwear drawer collecting dust.

Which leads me to my next point; I have seen a non-running pocket watch over 100 years old come back to life in a span of 3 hours with some careful intricate work. An item made by man, over 100 years old working in the way it originally intended by its designer. So it leads me to ask, 100 years from now where is your smart phone going to be? Probably in a landfill with millions of other smart phones not degrading at the rate that the manufacturer stated. It's not widely known but in the United States alone there is a projected need of up to 5000 watchmakers in the next 7 years, proof that this "dead" industry has a lot of life left in it.

Don't get me wrong, I love the convenience of my MP3 player...Even with its horrifying sound quality [don't even get me started on that]. I love gadgets as much as the next guy, but they certainly aren't built to last. A quality timepiece can literally live on forever with the proper maintenance. Announcing them as dead based on a poll is moronic at best. On an up note it was Steve Jobs who suggested that the new iPod Nano be worn as a wristwatch...Which I fully support, and kinda has me considering updating my iPod.

The new iPod Nano being worn as a wristwatch

The watch industry has survived through much more rocky times than the era of the iPod. Even the American version of "The Office" inadvertently poked a little fun at the situation when the Kelly character asked Ryan for the time during a visit to the local theater, and he pulled out an iPad with an app of a giant running clock on the screen, it was obvious he was meant to look idiotic. Needless to say, I got a good laugh out of it...But I'm kind of a nerd like that.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. I, of course, welcome any comments you may have. If you are so inclined when you come across a story about the death of the wristwatch, put a link to this article in the comment section.

Charlie Sheen; You're Big Trouble, Mister

Typically when it comes to entertainment news I give it a passing glance and move on to generally more important things. Over the past two days I have heard way more about Charlie Sheen than I would ever imagine I could. I can read your mind right now; "Why the he talking about a story that really has no bearing on anything whatsoever?". Well today I learned of a detail of the Charlie Sheen saga that hit me to the core of my being.

Apparently during his now infamous stint in New York City, Chuck seems to have misplaced his timepiece...And we aren't talking about a dollar store watch here. The watch? A Patek Phillipe 5970, valued at approximately $150,000. To serious collectors, and fans of all things wristwatch the mention of the word "Patek" ignites a Pavlovian response of an increased heart rate and bouts of uncontrollable drooling. Likewise the thought of one being lost, or stolen, from its rightful owner brings waves of sadness, along with thoughts of "Well, you really gotta keep an eye on that thing".

The Patek Phillipe 5970 valued at approximately $150,000

TMZ reported that Sheen was photographed wearing the piece while being seen out and about with adult film star Capri Anderson [like the passing mention of that name on my blog won't bring an onslaught of porn spam]. We have all heard various tales of what happened in the hours following. Sheen was not aware of his missing watch until a few hours after they left a New York restaurant together.

There is a whole lot happening in this photo [snatched from TMZ...obviously]

Ok, I need to editorialize here for a moment...A few hours later?...HOURS?!? I go 5 minutes without any watch and I start getting the sweats, and I certainly don't own anything remotely close to a Patek. Moving on.

On one final note; court documents regarding Sheen's assets state that he has a timepiece collection valued at around 5.5 million dollars....So really, what's $150,000? Side note it would take him shooting only 3 episodes of "Two and a Half Men" to get to that sum. Impressive, and a little depressing.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tissot Shoots...And Scores!

In their further attempt to bring in a strong base of American sports fans Tissot has announced today that the French born basketball star Tony Parker will be joining Tissot as an ambassador.

Parker, known for being the captain of the French basketball team, and a member of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs is known internationally for his ability on the court and his high level of social awareness off of it. He has had quite the impressive professional career which includes; a bronze medal with the 2005 French national team, 3 NBA titles in 2003, 2005, and 2007, as well as becoming the first foreign born player to be named MVP of the 2007 NBA finals.

Basketball is not really a new venue for Tissot as they are already the official timekeeper for the International Basketball Federation [FIBA]. I'm sure it doesn't hurt Tissot that Parker has a solid fan base here in the states. In the past few years Tissot has made plays for ambassadors that have solid representation in very American sports including; becoming the official timekeeper of NASCAR. Make no mistake, this is just the beginning for Tissot and international basketball, as they have several organizations they are already teamed up with.

I'm sure we'll all be seeing a lot more of Mr. Parker in Tissot ads in the US in the coming months.