Sunday, June 23, 2013

IWC Project Watch

Well, this project went a little south on me. On the positive side, I saved a fine timepiece from the jaws of the scrap bin and I have a decent watch for casual wear. On the negative side, it really didn’t come out as well as it could have. The main problem, of course, was and still is the broken lug (See Blog Post From January 22). The replacement came out a little larger than it should have and the soldering was left lacking and is off on the position. In hind sight, I should have brought it to someone that uses a laser for soldering. In the past, I’ve gotten better results from laser or pulse arc welding when it comes to work on watchcases. Note to self: spend the little extra for a lot better results.

My watchmaker had no problems with the movement. He did a cleaning and oiled it and it is running and is keeping good time. We decided not to touch the dial. It has some discoloration around the edges and some spotting on it but, all and all, it is in pretty good shape and still attractive, so it was left original. We were also able to buff out the crystal instead of replacing it and it looks as good as a new one. Then, I added a burgundy DeBeer crocodile grain strap to it for the finishing touch.

After all is said and done the project cost me about $300.00, including the watch to begin with, so I’m still into it for under gold value and I know I couldn’t find anything comparable for that price. On the wrist, it looks good and the faults aren’t terribly noticeable, so I’ll wear it for a while then on to the market it will go. I’m sure someone out there would be glad to give it a permanent home.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Holy Grail of Watch Books

Swiss Timepiece Makers 1775-1975 by Kathleen H. Pritchard

In watch collecting we hear the term “Holy Grail” thrown around quite a bit. To most collectors, their “Grail” watch is something in their area of collecting that is hard or damn near impossible to find, not to mention the cost that comes with it. To a Rolex collector, this might be a Paul Newman Daytona. Okay, probably a bad example. That one might be almost all collectors’ “Holy Grail” watch or holiest of holy. For another collector, though, it may be something else. Now, as far as reference books go, there truly is one Holy Grail book (except for those who had the foresight to buy them when they came out). That book, actually a two volume set, is Swiss Timepiece Makers 1775-1975 by Kathleen H. Pritchard.

I searched for these books for over 2 years and I only saw them up for sale twice, out of my price range, in all of that time. I finally found a set in Germany for 350 euros and I ordered them through an Abe books company. The next day, I got an Email saying they were already sold. About a week later, what appeared to be the same set came up on Ebay, in Germany, and I finally got my coveted books at a hefty cost (around $900.00 with shipping). Someone who’s not familiar with all of the variables that go into researching timepieces might ask, “Are these books worth that kind of money?” You bet they are. These books pay for themselves in just the amount of time saved during research of a watch, let alone the information contained in them that you just don’t see anywhere else.

Published by Phoenix Publishing Company for the N.A.W.C.C. in 1996, these books are about 1800 pages and are packed full of information. All of this information is meticulously crossed referenced and the books include trademarks, hallmarks, key figures in the various companies and bios of many companies. These books are truly encyclopedias of Swiss watch makers and I can’t begin to explain how useful they are in research. Although no endeavor of this magnitude is without errors and omissions, they are few and far between and I, personally, have not encountered any yet. These have now become some of my most used books and I refer to them on an almost daily basis.

The author, Kathleen H. Pritchard, passed away in 2005 and is sorely missed in the horological community. In the past, she published numerous articles in the N.A.W.C.C. Bulletin, as well as other periodicals. She spent over twenty years compiling the material for these books and had been updating and compiling more information for a revised edition when she passed. Hopefully this research will eventually be published. The watch community as a whole is indebted to her for her contributions.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Fantastic New Logo And Other Happenings

I’m back. Finally! If anyone was actually tuning in here, I’m sorry about the long delay. I’ve been working on my website. As I got more involved in the process, I decided to change the scope of the site. Originally, I envisioned creating a sales page on the site – I still do plan on spotlighting different watches, but those I plan to do in detail.

At any rate, I’ll detail the exact plans for the site in an upcoming blog post. For today, I wanted to show off my amazing Logo.

I hired JeanWogaman to create the image, and I couldn’t be happier with the work!  She captured exactly what I wanted, walked me through changes to the original design and, besides the obvious – she’s an amazing artist and illustrator – she was also pleasant, professional, and an absolute gem to work with.  If you’re looking for artwork for your business, I can’t recommend her highly enough.  She’s phenomenal.

I’ve had the image in my head pretty much since I came up with the business name. I wanted the child sitting on his father’s knee, listening to the movement of his dad’s watch. I really wanted the image to capture the child’s expression – wonder and excitement.  I think she really nailed it.

Thanks so much, Jean! Truly phenomenal!

I’ll be going back to my regular schedule of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday blogs.  Look for more information on the website changes coming soon, or go check out the website.  It’s linked in the sidebar.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Gone Fishing...

I'm sorry for the lapse in posts.  I've been working my way through an extensive class, combined with my regular work hours, and haven't had the time to write up a new blog entry this week.

The blog will be back with new content next week.

Thanks for stopping in.  I'm looking forward to sharing all the updates when I return.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Insult to Injury

On August 6th 2012, the jewelry store that I work at was robbed by three of the dumbest individuals that it has been my displeasure to encounter. I alluded to this event in my January 25th post and have recently been asked about it on several occasions. The robbers made off with over $50,000.00 in cash and inventory. Included in the inventory was a selection of vintage watches, as well as several modern watches. Among the stolen were many Bulova’s, Elgin’s, Gruen’s and Hamilton’s, mostly somewhat common watches but in good condition. Then there were a few Rolex including a 1917 ladies sterling silver one. Then there were a few not as common watches like a Girard-Perregaux Gyrodate, although, not a high end watch it was a somewhat unique piece.

I have to give credit where credit is due; the Cicero Police Department did an exceptional job. Within days of the crime, they had identified and captured the first of the thieves and several days later they captured a second one. Now for the sickening part of this little tale, when they caught the second criminal mastermind, he, of course, became very cooperative. The police started showing him photographs, the first of which was yours truly who he identified as “the gentleman we robbed”.   Again, credit to the police, I couldn’t identify the robbers, so they did a reverse lineup. They showed photos of some of the watches that were stolen, which the thief readily identified. When the police asked him what they had done with the watches, he responded, “Oh that junk.  We threw in a garbage truck with all of those jars of glass”. It seemed all they wanted was gold and cash but, as you can guess, the jars of “glass” were about 30 carats of diamonds ranging from about half pointers to half carats, plus a few larger stones and among the watches was a Rolex Day Date (and I thought they wanted gold). From what I understand, these guys robbed several other places.  It kind of makes me wonder what other “junk” they sent off to the dump. Of course, the cherry on the cake here is the third robber stiffed his accomplices on most of the cash and fled to New York where he was caught robbing a bank.


Included in this post is a small sampling of the pieces lost to a level of stupidity that can only be called criminal.

Friday, February 22, 2013

It’s All About the Dial

Okay, maybe it’s not all about the dial, but it is mostly about the dial. Let’s face it, (bad pun intended) the dial is the first thing you look at on a watch, whether it be on someone’s wrist, if you’re examining it, or if it happens to be on your wrist whenever you want to check the time. I am making the assumption that anyone reading my posts looks at their watch for the time and not their phone. So, the appearance of the dial is a major factor in a watches overall desirability.

Now, when dealing with modern watches all you are looking at is if it is attractive and, in the case of pre-owned, you look for damaged or aftermarket dials. But, when you get into the world of vintage and antique watches, there are so many more factors. From these factors begin the great watch debates that almost everyone has an opinion on, some of which are bitterly argued. I have actually seen a couple of guy’s stop talking, for a short time, over a patina argument. Now my personal opinion is that original is the best possible way to go. So, for me, I would rather have a watch with Patina or that is faded over a watch that had its dial redone, although no issues would be best of all. On the other hand, if the dial damage is so bad (I do consider patina damage) that it detracts too much from the piece, then I would have to either have the dial redone or replaced (if that option is available).

Some people actually look for patina on watch dials. Truthfully, I don’t understand the thinking on this one, but it takes all kinds, I guess. Of course, being in the business, it helps that there is a market for these watches that are still good timepieces, in spite of their dials. Those that do like patina on a vintage watch are also picky in their own way, specifically when it comes to the evenness of the discoloration. Obviously, no one would want a dial that is blotchy, but I have seen some reel sticklers in this category, so much so that they discriminate as much as the highest levels of connoisseur would over a superior piece.

On the flip side of that coin are those that want almost every dial redone. If even the tiniest level of discoloration exists or slight scratching at the remotest level, then off the dial goes to the dial refinisher. Don’t get me wrong, I understand this a little better than the patina angle, mostly for the fact that I, myself, like a watch to look as if it just came out of the box. I just don’t like the idea of taking away the original condition status of a piece, not to mention I have seen way too many botched redials to make that move unless it was absolutely necessary.

I could probably go on for hours on the subject of watch dials, but I’m sure I will have more chances on the subject. I do believe that the decision of changing or redoing a dial is a point of personal preferences. My preference is original, unblemished, with no fading or patina, but those are few and far between in the vintage market. For myself, I wouldn't come off of that criteria but, as they say, the customer is always right, so I try in business to give a little more options and try to have something for all types of watch enthusiasts.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book Review: A Movement in Time with Breitling and Rolex; An Unauthorized History

A Movement in Time with Breitling and Rolex, An Unauthorized History, written by Mark A. Cooper, is 150 pages broken down into five parts and then a glossary of watch terms. The first part is “The History of Rolex”. The second part is “How to Identify Fake and Replica Rolex”. Next is “The History of Breitling Watches” followed by “How to Identify Fake and Replica Breitling”. Then the final part is titled “The World’s Other Quality Watches and History”. This last section covers Ball, Cartier, IWC, Longines, Omega, Patek Philippe and Zenith.
I did not intend to review this book yet, but it has earned its worth this week. A good repeat customer came in with several watches, one of which was a Breitling Avenger that just didn’t feel right. The long story short, some of the information in this book proved my suspicions correct - the watch was a fake.

That being said, it is not a very well written book.  By that I mean writing style and mechanics, not the content. There are misspellings and grammar mistakes all over the place. The sections just seem to run into each other and his thoughts seem to wander in a few places. It is a self-published print on demand type of book and I do not believe the author used an editor. Another major problem with this book is the images are not clear, actually they look like photocopies. All and all, the presentation of this book is of poor quality. Being that the book is exactly 150 pages I can’t help but wonder if that was a price point magic number and the author crammed a little for that reason.

The information provided in this book is useful and, although most of it is available from other sources, he tries to amalgamate the information. I also found the glossary somewhat lacking and skimpy, although I already have several watch and clock dictionaries, so it was not a major problem for me. I believe that if the author chose to update some his material, obtain better images, and hire a professional editor, he should republish it. Then it would be a convenient reference guide for both Rolex and Breitling. As it stands now, it’s a little rough around the edges.