Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Blancpain & Lamborghini's Partnership

Typically when you speak to a watch collector it's not long before you learn that they are also into cars. That correlation is not lost on watchmaking firms. This coming weekend I will be attending a local Italian auto show. Along with checking out some of the world's finest automobiles, I'll also be partaking in one of my favorite hobbies; watch spotting. So in the spirit of that I wanted to share a little promotional film put together for the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo, a series of races that tour some of Europe's legendary race tracks. It was set out to be the world's fastest one-make series of races. Blancpain sponsors the event while Lamborghini provides a racing version of their Gallardo LP560-4 along with technical support of the entire event. Originally conceived in 2008 the popular tour is currently making the rounds again this year.

Blancpain also created a limited edition [300 pieces] chronograph to celebrate the partnership. The watch is appropriately called the "Super Trofeo Chronograph" [pictured below].

Now if we could only get them to bring the series to the states...

Alpha Watch Review from Breitling Source

Another fine video review from our friends at Breitling Source. This time it's of a low cost Asian made Alpha Watch. I have a few Alphas myself and may do some of my own reviews in the future.

Breitling Source's YouTube page can be found HERE.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Breguet's Marie Antoinette Back on Display

It was in November of last year that Breguet's most famous piece, the Marie Antoinette watch, was recovered. In 1983 it was stolen from the Israeli museum that had it as an exhibit, and was never seen again until it popped up in a watchmaker's shop with the person who brought it in asking what they could get for it. Thankfully the watchmaker instantly recognized the watch and reported it immediately. The watch officially went back on display at the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem along with several other Breguet pieces until September 9th, 2009.

Now for a quick history; the watch was commissioned in 1783 for Marie Antoinette. The request came from a suitor of hers. He requested that the pocket watch have every complication available at the time. The idea was to have a timepiece that would find her speechless at the sight of it. Unfortunately she was never able to obtain the piece as she died in 1793. Breguet actually finished and unveiled the watch in 1827, nearly 44 years after her passing.

The watch eventually found it's way into the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art where it sat until 1983 when it, along with 106 other timepieces were stolen in a heist that only a Hollywood writer could come up with. There were no real clues left behind and no one ever heard any word about who may have them.

Fast forward to 2005; Nicolas Hayek, CEO of the Swatch Group & Breguet, announced that the original plans were found and he intended on building an exact reproduction of the Marie Antoinette by hand [this one didn't take 44 years to make, it was completed in 2007]. Ironically enough only months after he showed his reproduction at Basel World 2008, the original watch was recovered. It turns out that the notorious thief; Naaman Diller was the sole perpetrator of the crime and held onto the watch until his death in 2004, when it was anonymously sold to a watchmaker in a lot of vintage watches for $40,000. There was initially some argument as to the rightful owner of the watch, but it was decided that since the museum had official and legal ownership last, it would remain with them.

At this time the watch's estimated value is approximately 30 million dollars. Though Hayek spent a lot of time and money making a fine reproduction...There truly is only one of this piece in the world. Below are some pics of the two watches.

The Original Marie Antoinette after recovery

Breguet CEO Nicolas Hayek with his fine reproduction in 2008.

Read more about the exhibit from the original Associated Press Story HERE.

Click HERE for a Google image search of this stunning beauty.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

But Does It Tell Time?

Today Samsung unveiled what is to be the world's slimmest "watchphone". The S9110 is slated to be released later this month in France with a roll out to other European countries soon after. It is set to sell for about $640.00

"It features a 1.76-inch touch screen -- which users can use to check email from Outlook, play MP3s and make calls -- and integrates Bluetooth 2.1, a speakerphone and voice recognition technology. "

This will be the only direct competition for LG's similar offering; the GD910 which is due out in August.

Seriously....Does it tell time?

Original articles from Mobiledia

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Omega Has Landed

On July 20, 1969 [40 years ago today] the Apollo 11 Lunar Excursion Module [LEM] gently touched down on the surface of the moon. Contained inside of its cramped quarters were Neil Alden Armstrong, and Edwin Eugene "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. with Michael Collins piloting the Command Module over head in the moon's orbit. There is no doubt in any person's mind that these, along with many other people in NASA's past and present, are truly heroes that can be looked up to with pride.

Among the many articles making the 4 day trip to the moon was the now famed Omega Speedmaster Chronograph [model #: 3570.50]. From that day forward this popular timepiece would come to be known as "The Moon Watch" and Omega makes no bones about marketing it as such. The watch first came into production in 1957 and is still available today with little to no modifications from the original design.

The funny thing is the Omega Watch Company had no idea that NASA was testing this watch to be used for space travel. NASA officials covertly bought several brands of chronograph watches in retail stores and began to put them through rigorous stress tests to see which would survive the hard trip and atmosphere in outer space. On March 1st, 1965 the Omega was proclaimed the winner and was adopted by NASA as the only “Officially Certified Wristwatch For All Manned Space Missions.”. It wasn't until Edward White wore a Speedmaster on his wrist during his space walk [the first EVA by an American] on the Gemini IV mission that Omega even found out. NASA has used the Omega Speedmaster Professional on every space mission since. It is currently one of only three watches officially rated as mission certified. Most modern wristwatches can handle the rigors of space travel and astronauts are allowed to bring any timepiece they wish along with them, but they are still given an Omega Speedmaster Professional for their missions and are expected to use them as their primary mission wristwatches.

It is widely known that Neil Armstrong is the first man to step foot on the surface of the moon. Most people, however, are not aware that the first Omega to make its way to the lunar surface was on Buzz Aldrin's wrist and not Armstrong's. Why is that? Turns out that a timing device in the lunar module was malfunctioning so Neil left his Speedmaster in the cockpit to replace the device [you can't get a better advertisement than that]. The video above shows Buzz Aldrin's first steps on the moon, and in turn shows the first wristwatch being worn on the moon as well. Unfortunately Buzz Aldrin's watch has since have been lost. While many of the watches used for manned space missions are available to view at various air and space museums across the country Buzz Aldrin's famous watch was lost in transit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and remains so to this day. So to whoever may have it...Just give it back.

Buzz Aldrin wearing his Omega Speedmaster during the Apollo 11 mission

As recently as July 19, 2009 the three Apollo 11 astronauts, along with John Glenn, appeared together at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC to discuss their mission and to try to spur the next generation of NASA workers to send a human to Mars. Full story HERE.

Many may ask what the point of a manned mission to Mars is...The answer is simple: It's next. Man has always had a need to explore further and further and no other reason than that is needed. If we do send a man/woman to Mars you can bet that an Omega Speedmaster Professional will be on their wrist and now even Stephen Urquhart, current President of Omega Watches, has committed Omega to being on all manned flights from here on out.

For more information on the Omega Speedmaster and other watches worn for moon missions check out THIS SITE.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Freebie For Your Computer!

Here is a little freebie for my fellow watch enthusiasts. I was clued into this from the online watch forum I spend too much time on. It's a Panerai GMT screensaver clock. It's pretty widely known that Panerai offers an official screensaver on their page. This new one appears to have been a labor of love from an Officine Panerai fan, and in my opinion is much better than the official offering.

The dial rendering has a 3D feel to it which is much more fun. The screensaver shows the time, the date, a seconds 'subdial', a cyclops, and a moving GMT hand which matches the current time in the 24hr scale [the GMT hand is not adjustable].

Now for the cool part; the screensaver has 'lume' on it. During the daylight hours the screensaver shows the numerals and hands in white, when it hits the nighttime hours they glow green. Below are a couple of screen shots [not captured by me]:

Daytime Display

Nighttime Display

This is available HERE for download. This has been making the watch forum rounds for a while, and I've had it on my computer for a few days. All is well, it's completely freeware and contains no funny stuff. When you get to the page click on "Free User" and it makes you wait 30 seconds to download the .exe file. You'll notice upon installation the instructions are in German...just click on the first button on the left and you are good to go! Das ist gut, ja?


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Orlando Bloom's Watch Collection Burglarized

One of the stars of the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' film series had his home, and specifically his valuable watch collection burglarized.

"His collection reportedly included eight watches that were more than 40 years old, six rare Rolexes, including a rare antimagnetic Milgauss from the 1950s, which vintage watch experts told the paper could be worth almost $200,000. His collection also reportedly included a Rolex Submariner, popularized by Sean Connery in “Goldfinger,” estimated to be worth over $32,000. His entire watch collection was reported worth over $328,000, according to the paper."

Bloom has been heard to state that he is not too upset about the break in as no one got hurt in the incident.

Here is a bit more information HERE.

Be sure to insure those pricier pieces, kids!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

President Obama's Wristwatch

Presidential wristwatches has always been a fascinating subject to me. To know what any person of such high stature chooses to wear on their wrist says a lot about who they are. Since he was Candidate Obama the online watch forums and blogs were all a buzz about what Barrack Obama was wearing. There was literally months of incorrect guessing before the truth finally came out.

I bet you're wondering now, aren't you? When President Obama first came into the public scene he wore a tried and true Tag Heuer 1500. Though Tag Heuer no longer makes this model after market and vintage sales of this piece jumped up quite a bit along side his rising popularity. Many watch admirers appreciated that he seemed to wear something of a 'beater' on his wrist, as it projected a good work ethic [kinda like his shoes].

Then something happened...One day something new appeared on his wrist...and it was something that no one could place for quite some time. Many assumed it was another Tag Heuer as he was already known to be a wearer of that mark. In reality it was something quite different. On the occasion of his 46th birthday President Obama was presented a gift by his Secret Service detail....You guessed it, a new watch. What made this watch so confusing to those of us who follow such things was the United States Secret Service logo printed on the dial. Many of us spent loads of time trying to determine the brands that had logos similar to what is printed on the watch. [see below]

The watch manufacturer is actually Jorg Gray, and the model is the 6500 Series Chronograph. Jorg Gray is commonly known for making watches available to have specially printed dials per the customers request [It's like one of those watches your company has made up with their logo on it]. The watches with the Secret Service logo are only available for purchase for those select few who work within the Department of Homeland Security*.

Fear not readers....This is, after all, America. Riding the popularity of President Obama's campaign and election Jorg Gray now offers a special version of the watch [without the Secret Service logo, for obvious reasons] with a special engraved case back. The watch is available at and Prices start at about $325.00. To be completely honest its very easy to find a watch with the same movement in it and of similar quality, for less money but obviously the market price is where it wants to be and people seem to be paying it. Plus there is something to be said for wearing the same watch as The President if you happen to be a fan of his.

Every once in a while you will see a "Secret Service Edition" of the watch appear on eBay, but the prices tend to be much higher than the "Presidential Edition" readily available to the public.

*Ed. Note: The Secret Service is no longer a part of the United States Treasurey Department. Its jurisdiction was placed under the Department of Homeland Security on March 1st, 2003. I have updated the original text to reflect that change. My sincere apologies to any who may have been offended by the error.

Ever Wonder Why That Rolex Costs So Much?

This probably has something to do with it. Rolex has once again topped all other manufacturers in spending for advertising to the US market. Spending an estimated $49.3 million dollars on ad placement. That astounding figure is a full $20 million dollars more than the number two spender Breitling [with $28.92 million spent].

I have no problems with Rolex, but maybe...just maybe if they cooled off with some of the advertising buyers could be offered a more realistic price for their watches.

The number of watch brands spending less that a million dollars on advertising is down from 69 to 65.

Full story, inlcuding the top 25 spenders list, by Joe Thompson is over at Watch Time Magazine

Monday, July 13, 2009

Watches and the Green Revolution

We can all agree that a mechanical watch is a very 'green' item; it's powered by either the movements of the wearers wrist, or by the act of manually winding a mainspring. There's not too many other things as energy efficient as that. Though its more modern counterpart, the quartz watch, does have some waste involved [old batteries]...all in all they too are not that bad for the environment.

But what about manufacturing watches? Is that process harmful?....

Switzerland has done many things legislatively to make the production of watches more friendly to the earth, they have their ducks pretty much in order and do a fine job of utilizing already available green power when they can. Where the question has come up more and more is in China [you're not surprised, right?]. Like it or not China's watchmaking industry has been growing by leaps and bounds in the past 5 to 7 years. They have always produced mechanical and quartz watches but now we have seen improvement in movement quality and overall construction, and it's only getting better every day. As you can imagine even their watch manufacturing facilities are probably emitting loads of carbon [think about all of the case manufacturing, smelting, and the petroleum based power they use to do so].

As evidenced by the recent G8 Summit it seems pretty plausible that China and India [two of the world's largest carbon emitters] are not going to budge any time soon with reducing emissions from their manufacturing process. The other nations in the G8 were greeted with comments similiar to: "Well you guys got to produce and pollute for decades...So why can't we?" As much as I understand that logic; generally using the tactics of a 7 year old rarely work. So here we sit, with an invisible wall in our way.

I, for one, welcome China further into the watch industry, and am very excited to see what they could do...but as a whole they need to understand that if you want to eventually be in the same league as the world's most popular manufacturers there are certain responsibilities that need to be under taken...just one of which is to leave as little a footprint on the eather as possible. [and don't even get me started on the other things they need work on...]

HERE is the article that influenced this post.

Best. Watch Review. Ever

This has been making the rounds for some time, it still doesn't make it any less amusing to me. This actually gives me a little more confidence when it comes to my video reviews. Play him off Keyboard Ca.......

See all Jewelry & Watches reviews at Expotv

For those who are not really into watches, if you'd like to know all of the incorrect things he says, just ask...I'll let you know.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

As Goes The Swatch Group...

The Swatch Group CEO, Nick Hayek commented on Sunday that The Swatch Group [parent company of such brands as: Omega, Tissot, Longines, Hamilton, Swatch, Breguet etc etc etc.] stated that they expect sales to improve the second half of this year [Are we really on the second half of the year already?]. He noted in particular that sales growth in China jumped by quite a bit.

It looks as though China is where the Swiss watch industry will be aiming their sales and marketing guns for the time being, as exports to the once coveted United States market dropped 42.7%, and an also staggering 30.3% in Japan this past year...Yikes. It looks to be yet another retail indication that the world's economy, as a whole, is shifting focus towards China and India.

This is the second story in a week about a watch manufacturer stating that forecasts are looking up for the coming year, but I would have to say that The Swatch Group being the world's largest watch manufacturer is probably the best watch company to keep an eye on for gauging the state of the industry, as well as the global economy.

The Swiss watch industry has seen its largest sales declines since the "quartz crisis" hit in the late 1970's and early 1980's.

The full story is HERE and further reading is available on Reuters.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Golana Aura 200-2 Ladies Chronograph Review

Well here it is! I finally took the time to film my first video review. I opted to look at my wife's newest piece; a Golana Aura 200-2 chronograph [her first chrono!!...I'm awful proud]. Feel free to comment on the video either here or on my YouTube channel. I welcome any suggestions to make the videos more palatable [less annoying]. There will be more to come soon. Enjoy the review!

Friday, July 10, 2009

If You Find Yourself in Boston

The Waltham Watch Company [Waltham, MA] was at one time America's largest manufacturer of watches. In operation from 1850 to 1957 they produced approximately 40 million watches, clocks, speedometers, compasses, time fuses and other precision instruments that were considered the best of their day. There was a time when Swiss manufacturers actually copied their pocket watch movement designs...and some of them even made Waltham fakes....You heard right; the Swiss made Waltham fakes in the late 1800's.

The building still stands on the banks of the Charles River but alas it is now office and condo space. [I wonder if I could convince the wife to move there...hmmmmm]

When visiting the town of Waltham you feel that they are very proud of their horological past and promote it where and when they can.

Why the trip down memory lane? Well "on July 24th several watches, along with some of the tools and artifacts of the Waltham Watch Factory, will be part of a permanent public exhibit at the newly renovated Watch Factory building on Crescent Street.

People interested in the Watch Factory’s colorful history will be able to see more than 50 photos and six displays of items from the time period in the lobby at 221 Crescent Street. Objects range from an original watchmaker’s bench, to examples of the time pieces workers produced, to plates from the company cafeteria."

Watch Factory Exhibit
Grand Opening Event
Friday, July 24th
5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Watch Factory

Here is the full story from the Boston Globe

Well I know where I'll be on July 24th at 5:30

Did You Know...

...That Dan Spitz, former guitarist for the GRAMMY nominated hard rock band 'Anthrax', is a WOSTEP certified master watchmaker with a specialty in complications? I didn't either until today, but as a sound guy and watch nut I think it's pretty damn awesome! Dan has his own watch shop in Florida where he services watches along with designing and building his own pieces.

You can follow his blog and read more about his musical projects, his passion for watches and watchmaking here.

Dan has also recently formed the band DeuxMonkey who has released a new album. Five tracks are available for purhchase at Amazon.

Way to be cool on two fronts Dan!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I Don't Care How Hungry You Are...

  • Do NOT eat watch.

Urwerk's New UR-CC1 "King Cobra"

I find Urwerk's mechanisms to be completely fascinating, and I love what they are doing with design and function. Urwerk's newest offering is a linear display piece nicknamed the "King Cobra".

Full Story Here: Urwerk King Cobra
The UR-CC1 information at Urwerk's official website

With a limited production of only 25 pieces in varying materials, I'm sure this will be a mighty pricey watch. I'll continue to keep an eye out for more info on this one and post accordingly.

One to Watch: Zodiac

Recently I have been noticing some pretty bold designs coming from the Zodiac Watch company. Granted Zodiac is by no means a new company as it was originally founded in 1882 in Le Loce, Switzerland and have been consistently doing pretty well until about 1997 when they went bankrupt, and the company were bought by Genender International, a US company, in 1998. In 2001 Zodiac was acquired by Fossil as they were looking to add a Swiss brand to their line. Though now owned by American company Zodiac still offers only "Swiss Made" pieces. I'm not sure if Fossil has any input into design, or if Zodiac just had an explosion of creativity lately but they are coming out with some funky pieces that I simply cannot stop admiring. I've seen the newer Zodiacs priced any where in the $300 - $700 range, depending on the model and where you look [if you look at a department store, you are going to generally pay more...stick to reputable online sellers]. Here are just a few of my favorite designs out now from their Adventure and ZMX lines.

The Adventure - [ZO6702]

The ZMX 02 - [ZO8503]

The ZMX 03 - [ZO8507]

From what I hear these are all very well built solid hunks of wrist metal. It looks as though Zodiac has elected to use Ronda as their main movement supplier as most of their quartz pieces contain them. If Zodiac continues down this path, it was definitely a wise move for the already hugely successful Fossil to add them to their line. Be sure to check out their website for other variations and models.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Zenith Chronomaster Review

The latest of many great video reviews performed by the good folks at Where they cover way more than just Breitling watches.

Hautlence Press Kit

This is one of my favorite watch related things to come out in the past year. Hautlence a small Swiss firm worked with the French multimedia company i-reel to put out what has to be one of the coolest press kits for a watch in some time.

It's a bit hard to find, but I've seen it on eBay here and there. I was able to get mine by simply asking Hautlence directly last year. I was about 110% sure they wouldn't send me a thing, until it actually arrived. The disc works both as a CD-ROM and a playable DVD. When put in the computer you are greeted with hi-res photos of the HL series of watches, along with specs and company information, as you would find in a physical press kit.

However when popped into a DVD player you have the option to show two computer animated films made for Hautlence by the fine folks at i-reel. These films were meant to be shown on a loop on flat panel TV's in authorized dealers of Hautlence.

Here is the dynamic film made for the HLq line of watches.

I currently use the above film as much as possible to test any audio/video systems I set up at work.

As stated the animation was rendered by i-reel while the music and sound design was created by a french electronica duo named NewOldStockProd. Both of the members of the band are big watch fans themselves. If you enjoy what you see above you'll be happy to learn that these two teams have worked several times together on similar projects for watch firms including [links go directly to the respective brand's films]: Tag Heuer, Zenith, and Urwerk.

Rolex Expanding Production Facilities

Look at that! First day and I already got some news to post. The General Management of Rolex has recently announced its decision to begin construction of a major extension at the Manufacture des Montres Rolex site in Bienne.

Full article HERE

This is actually great news as it shows that Rolex sees things looking up for their economic future, and if the sales of multi thousand dollar watches are up that must mean that the super rich are getting riche.....oh crap, isn't that how we got into trouble in the first place?

Driving the Time Keeping Element

Welcome to The Escapement!

For those who don't know; the escapement is the most important part of a mechanical watch. As stated in the title of this, my inaugural post, it drives the time keeping element. The constant regulation from the escapement keeps the watch running at a specified rate, and prevents the mainspring from unwinding uncontrollably. So mechanical watches don't "tell time" as much as allow bound up energy to be released at a regulated rate to display the time of day. It's a delicate process that when done correctly gives a pile of gears and springs a heartbeat.

Hello, I'm Craig M. and my aim here at 'The Escapement' is to put forth unto you, the reader [or lack thereof], any timepiece and watch industry related information I find interesting. Along the way I may write up some reviews on wristwatches, and wristwatch related items. I am also an amateur watchmaker, so if anything blog worthy happens with that...I'll put it up. Please note; I do not discriminate when it comes to watches, I feel as though they all have certain value so expect discussion about mechanical and quartz watches coming from all the regions of the globe that produce them.

The opinions on here will be all me, I have no affiliation with with any entity in the manufacturing, or selling of watches. Any review I write will be of an item I personally own. I'm just a guy who has a passion for all things wristwatch.

Feel free to comment as I welcome all discussion. If I get something wrong or you just flat disagree with me...Tell me.