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.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Online Learning Curve

I think I’ve finally gotten a little more of a handle on the photography end of things.  There are several watches that I’m hoping to have up for sale on my website in the next few days, so I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get the images just right.

I knew there would be a learning curve on taking my business online.  I’m really comfortable appraising pieces in person, working with clients to find just the watch they’re looking for or even discussing particular watches and watchmakers with some of my colleagues.  I’m hoping that, once I get the hang of things, my website and this blog will become an extension of that – but instead of having one conversation, it will be a way to talk to a lot of people who share the same passion for horology.

Anyway, right now I’m really just trying to map out how best to showcase things on the site and which tools will be the best to use to build up my online platforms.  There are a ton of platforms out there!  And, more importantly, I only have so much time – and most of that is taken up by my real world business.  I’ve decided blogging was a good use of time because it gives me a place to talk about individual pieces and share some of what I’ve learned and find interesting.

I’m not sure yet what other social media sites I might want to use, if any.  There are a few I think might be a good use of time, but I need to learn more about each and maybe test them out after the website is completely off the ground.  If anyone out there has any suggestions, or venues you like for your business, I’d love to hear about them.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

It's been a long week.

It’s been a long week.

            The trouble with this long week is that the fat lady ain’t singing because it ain’t over. My partner is laid up for a little while so I will at least be working through the weekend. On top of that with me being the only one at the store I haven’t got a chance to get any of my things done downtown or meet my watchmaker to finish up a couple of projects. Yesterday I was finally able to escape long enough to get a cable I needed for the new camera and today I was able to start getting some pictures done so I will get some of those up very shortly. Hopefully by next week I’ll get back on schedule with some of the posts for this Blog and have some new stuff on the website so for anyone reading just hang in there and thanks for stopping by.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hamilton Wristwatches A Collectors Guide - Book Review

This book written by, Rene Rondeau, is a must have for collectors of Hamilton wristwatches. I will admit it is a pricey book, currently used on Amazon for $347.86, but nonetheless a valuable tool for the identification of men’s Hamilton wristwatches. The book starts with a brief history of the Hamilton watch company and is then followed by three main sections.

The first section is a list of all men’s Hamilton wristwatches. The list is in alphabetical order by the name of the watch (Hamilton named all of their watches). Next to the watch name is a page number, which leads you to the next section.

The second section of the book shows illustrations of over 1,000 Hamilton watches. This section is organized by the shape of the case and the metal it is made out of. Using this section you should be able to identify almost any Hamilton wristwatch in a matter of minutes.

The third section is titled, “Notes”. It consists of more detailed information on the 100 most collectible men’s Hamilton wristwatches. Included in some of these descriptions are production numbers and other tidbits. The watches in this section are denoted in the second section with an asterisks.

The appendix gives information about American made movements done by Hamilton and also has a section about the Sherwood models. As I stated, this is a very convenient reference book for men’s Hamilton wristwatches and I have reached for it on my shelf quite a few times since I bought my copy last year.

            Note: My apologies on the poor photo but my cameras are still in revolt.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Update From the Overworked

It’s been a few days since I last posted, it has been a few hell days over here. First, I lost Internet access at home, and then my camera decided it wanted to pick a fight with me. If that wasn’t enough, I keep getting swamped with nonsense that has to get done. Well, I think I cleared my plate enough to get some work done this week and I bought a new camera to boot (a Nikon D3100) but I think my home internet is down for a while.

Hopefully, by the end of the week, I will have figured my new camera out enough to get some items listed on my website and some good pictures for here. It is kind of frustrating trying to get good pictures of watches and I hope mine improve with a better camera and photo setup. Just bear with me while I get some glitches out of everything, I need a little learning curve with the photo situation. I’ll let you all know what I think about the Camera and photo setup soon.