Monday, September 24, 2007

Watches Under Water

An abbreviated history of the evolution of the water resistant wristwatch
By Michael Friedberg

As the wristwatch evolved in the 20th century from the pocketwatch, its public acceptance in large part may be attributed to improvements in its durability. The early enemies of the wristwatch included water, dust, shocks and magnetism. It was primarily during the 1920s and ‘30s that engineering advances occurred in the fight against these forces. The wristwatches that we know and wear today are products of this evolution.

Rolex and Omega, which today are leaders in the Swiss watch industry, pioneered the fight against water. While some cases were "well sealed" even before 1920, it was Hans Wilsdorf of Rolex who perceived an opportunity and, with astute marketing, made Rolex a world famous brand.

In the early 1920s, a famous Swiss casemaker, Francis Baumgartner, made cases based on a patent by Borgel. The idea involved sealing the case by taking the middle part and threading it on both sides, rotating in opposite directions. The movement and dial then were fited within a ring that screwed into the caseframe. Several companies then used Baumgartner-made cases in the 1920s, including Omega and Longines. However, the Borgel-based cases did not seal well at the stem opening. To solve that, two Swiss watchmakers in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Paul Perregaux and Georges Peret, applied for a Swiss patent in 1925 for a screwed stem system.

Wilsdorf grasped that a hermetically sealed case, together with careful fitting of the crystal and a special stem mechanism, would produce a better wristwatch. He quickly negotiated to have the Perregaux and Peret patent assigned to him. Wilsdorf then obtained a British patent on October 18, 1926.

The Rolex Oyster became a commercial success. In 1927, a stenographer, Mercedes Gleitze, swam the English Channel with the unheard of accompaniment of a wristwatch –the Rolex Oyster— on her wrist for the entire 15 hour, 15 minute, swim.

The ensuing publicity catapulted Rolex to a prominent place in the world of watches. The battle against dust and water had been won. Wilsdorf proclaimed "With this invention, originally made to increase the precision of the Rolex watch, at the same time the first waterproof wristwatch of the world was created. Like an oyster, it could remain in the water a indeterminate time before being damaged."

In 1932, Cartier made a waterproof wristwatch, using a specially screwed crown. The Pasha of Marrakesh said to Louis Cartier " I would like to know the exact time while swimming in my swimming pool." The Pasha achieved his wish and Cartier may have created the first luxury sports watch in the process.

Omega took a radically different approach. In 1932, it debuted the Omega Marine, a watch that basically had one case inside another. In 1936, an underwater researcher, Charles William Beebe, dove to the depth of 14 meters with an Omega Marine strapped to his diving suit. Before the age of scuba gear, Beebe succeeded wearing a huge helmet, weighted boots and tubes leading up to the surface, as well as his Omega Marine.

During World War II, the world's militaries in practice distinguished between special diving watches and those having some water resistance. Divers needed heavily sealed cases and the idea of watches like the Omega Marine did not succeed. Instead, the idea was to have a large watch with a system to seal the crown and stem --the parts of a watch that were especially vulnerable to water. World War II Italian and German Navy divers adopted a different approach, using a well sealed watch that later had a special guard to keep the crown (and stem) flush against the case. Originally, the Panerai watches had unprotected crowns that used the Rolex screw-down mechanism. However, constant winding of these watches caused deterioration of water resistance. Officine Panerai solved the problem by a pressure-lever on the crown; those watches worked at a depth of 30 meters.

Instead, most World War II forces –armies, navies and air forces—used watches that simply had well-sealed cases. The famous "WWW" --wristwatch, waterproof-- of the British forces really just used high quality cases that were well sealed. Many of these even had snap-on backs, rather than tighter screwed backs, like the IWC Mark X. There wasn't a perceived need for great water resistance. Even the legendary Mark XI, which debuted shortly after the war with a screwed back, had British military specifications requiring it to be water resistant to 10 meters.

The ultimate evolution of more water resistant wristwatches may have resulted from clever marketing and a change in civilian lifestyles. In 1954, Rolex debuted its Ref. 6204 Submariner model at the Basel Fair: a dive watch for civilian use. The design was based on Rolex's Ref. 6202 Turn-O-Graph model and over the following decade evolved to look like the watch we know today. The Submariner became an instant success and an instant classic.

The original Submariner, Ref. 6204, did not have Mercedes hands and had many other small differences from the current model. Two years later, in 1956, it was replaced with the Ref. 6538 --the "James Bond" Submariner, which was the first watch rated to a depth of 660 feet. It looked much more like the current model except that it did not have crown guards. Various other evolutionary changes occurred in the Submariner's design over the ensuing decades.

There is some debate regarding whether Rolex produced the first civilian "dive watch" with its Submariner model. Certainly, it debuted a long time after the Omega Marine, but that model was not a great success and perhaps with hindsight can be regarded as a historical anomaly. But in the early 1950s the Submariner had a profound effect on the market. While not unique, the idea of a bezel that could be turned unidirectionally to tell elapsed time became identified with the "dive watch".

There are claims that Blancpain, with its 50 Fathoms model, preceded the Submariner by a few months and was first used in a film made in late 1953. Blancpain successfully marketed its watch with Jacques Cousteau, the famous undersea diver, and later came out with its Aqualung and Bathyscaphe models as well. Blancpain also sold its 50 Fathoms watches for military use, as the German Navy model at right reflects.

The success of these models can be attributed to being right for their times. Professor Picard in September 1953 descended to a depth of 3,150 meters in a bathyscaphe with a watch made by Rolex strapped to the outside of the capsule. Scuba diving was developed and rocketed in popularity in the 1950s.

Omega debuted its first dive model Seamaster, the 300 (which had a water resistance to 200 meters), in 1957 and which used Omega's 20 jewel Cal. 28 SC-501 movement. It redesigned the Seamaster 300 in 1965 and, following that model's success, then introduced many new models -- the Seamaster 120 in 1966, the Seamaster 600 in 1970 and the Seamaster 1000 (with a corresponding 1000 meter water resistance) in 1971.

Even the luxury companies eventually followed suit, at least in their own way. In 1972, Audemars Piguet introduced its Royal Oak model, a luxury sports watch with a nautical theme and porthole design. Patek Philipe soon followed with its Nautilus: again a watch with a nautically-related theme, but certainly not a true dive watch.

Today, water resistance is both taken for granted and perhaps exaggerated in importance. Extraordinary water resistance often is a badge of durability, but in a sense over-engineering arguably may be used as a marketing vehicle. Beginning in the 1970s, some wristwatches had water resistance ratings of 1000 or 2000 meters, yet it is impractical for any human to descend to anything close to such depths.

Dive watches continue to enjoy immense popularity. They are practical, sporty and fun watches. Matching contemporary lifestyles, their popularity is well deserved. Even out of the water, they subtly --perhaps subconsciously-- reinforce the idea of a casual lifestyle.

full article at

My most recent watch !

Omega Seamaster Professional "Bond":

See bellow for a review.

Best regards

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Omega Seamaster Professional 2531.80 – James Bond's choice

The Seamaster Professional with reference number 2541.80 (quartz) was introduced in 1993. When the watch appeared in the movie "GoldenEye" on the wrist of James "007" Bond in 1995, it didn't take long for people to call it the Bond or "007" watch. In the following movies ("Tomorrow Never Dies", "The World Is Not Enough" and "Die Another Day",) Bond has used the automatic verson of this watch, the Seamaster Professional Chronometer, reference number 2531.80.

The case diameter is of 41mm, the thickness is only 10mm (incredible for a watch this size), 47mm from lug to lug and weighs approx. 150 grams. The lugs are slightly polished SS and so are the crown guards, the rest of the case is brushed SS. The signed crown sits deep into the case, but is easily accessed and is of good size. The signed helium release valve is located at 10 o´clock and here is what it's used for: This Omega innovation is indispensable to divers who must spend several days in a diving-bell. A watch without a helium escape valve could explode from too much pressure inside the case when the diver returns to the surface. By unscrewing the crown positioned at 10 o'clock, the pressure is released through the valve without water infiltrating the case. The case back is beautiful, with the traditional sea-horse with the Seamaster wave pattern on the rest of the case, no useless writing like "Sapphire crystal" or "Tested Water-Resistance to 300m" or anything that doesn't need to be said. The serial number is situated under the 7 o´clock lug. Because of it's relative thinness and even balance of weight this watch is incredibly comfortable.

The dial is fairly large, measuring 31mm. The hour and minute hand are skeleton style, and the sweep second hand is extremely smooth, having a dot of luminous material and the end is painted red, which makes it very eye catching. The dial reads Omega, Seamaster, Professional, Chronometer, 300m/1000ft. The date is at 3 o'clock and is black on white. The dark blue wave pattern on the dial is handsome and changes color at different angles. The bezel is uni-directional, as all dive bezels are. The sapphire crystal is slightly domed and has an anti-reflective coating only on the inside, which eliminates 50% of the glare and the crystal is easy to clean and doesn´t get scratched.

The Seamaster Professional uses an Omega cal.1120 movement, based on the 2892-A2 movement with 23 jewels. The original ETA 2892-A2 has 21 jewels but after Omega modified it, it had 23. The rotor has the Omega cal.1120 engraving and a lot of the parts are nicely finished/polished. The movement is also chronometer certified. Which means that it has a certain accuracy tested by different temperatures and positions. -4 seconds / +6 seconds a day are the maximal deviations. The movement has a power reserve of 44 hours and ticks at 28.800 beats an hour. The date feature is quick-set and changes at midnight within a blink of the eyes. This movement can be found in many other high-end watches such as IWC and Ulysse-Nardin, it is very sturdy and has proven itself time and again.

The bracelet is consisted of links made of 9 pieces, with polished SS highlights, it is very solid (and equally difficult to adjust). The bracelet comes with 2 half-links, that can be removed to make a perfect fit, since the clasp does not have micro-adjustment capabilities this is essential. As for the signed clasp, it is by far the best out there. It is solid to say the least, closes very well, but you must make sure that the diverís extension is properly closed, which can be tricky.

Based on articles written by Marc Levesque (Time2watch) and Robert Jan Broer
Minor correction by John Rochowicz

Omega Speedmaster Automatic (“Reduced”) vs Omega Speedmaster Professional

Omega Speedmaster Automatic (“Reduced”)
Reference: 3510.50.00

Caliber: Omega 3220
Self-winding chronograph movement with rhodium-plated finish
Power Reserve: 40 hours

Stainless steel case
Hesalite crystal

Down to: 30 meters / 100 feet

Case Diameter: 39 mm

Omega Speedmaster Professional
Reference: 3570.50.00

Caliber: Omega 1861
Famous manual-winding chronograph movement that was worn on the Moon. Rhodium-plated finish
Power Reserve: 48 hours

Stainless steel case
Hesalite crystal

Down to: 50 meters / 167 feet

Case Diameter: 42 mm

Review of the Omega Speedmaster Automatic

Movement: Technical Info
It is powered by an exclusive decorated, rugged and reliable movement - the Omega 3220 caliber - which is different than the previous versions of this model, since they used to have the 1140 movement that lacks the desirable luxury finish. It has rhodium-plated finish, beautifully decorated with perlage (circular graining) on the plates, and Côtes de Genève (Geneva stripes) on the winding rotor mass and bridges. This movement, exclusive to Omega, is a slim 45-jewel self-winding Chronograph with central hour hand, central minute hand, small seconds at 3 o'clock, 12-hour totalizer at 6 o'clock, 30-minute totalizer at 9 o'clock, and central chronograph hand. The movement is of modular construction, based on the ETA 2892-A2 with the exclusive Dubois-Dépraz 2020 module. Power reserve: 40hours. This movement's dimensions are 30mm diameter by a height of 6.5mm. The high 28,800 beat-per-hour frequency (4Hz) make the small seconds hand at 3 o'clock as well as the central chronograph hand glide smoothly--noticeably smoother than on its big brother the Omega Speedmaster Professional which has a slower frequency of 21,600 beats-per-hour (3 Hz).

Case and Bracelet
This 39mm x 12mm Speedmaster case with its satin-finished sides and gleaming bevelled edges give it the distinguished sporty and desireable, sleek and immaculate appearance. This watch is related to the Speedmaster Professional in design with the same flat bezel style and the same combination of brushed and polished surfaces. It is essentially a reduced Automatic version of the Professional that will not dwarf your wrist, and instead of the hand-wound movement is fitted with a contemporary reliable and exclusive Omega Automatic movement. The Tachymetric bezel gives it the look of a precision instrument that it is. It comes in very handy for sportsmen wanting to measure speeds in miles or kilometers per hour and for entrepreneurs alike, as it can be used to. The back of the watch has the Speedmaster Horse medallion in relief and the intact serial number. The sporty bracelet is the newer type and is composed of 5 parts across, with the middle three being polished and the outer two brushed, providing a nice combination of shiny and matte surfaces that like giving an elegant play of lights. It has solid links and solid end-pieces that will not pinch hairs. The clasp shuts very safely with a crisp click, and is signed with the Omega symbol and the title "Speedmaster." The matte dial has good luminosity at night: The white baton hour markers are coated with luminous material, and the baton hands are lacquered in white with luminous material inserts as well.

Comments - slimmest Speedmaster
The modular architecture of this exclusive movement gives it an unusually low profile by today's standards for automatic chronographs. For this reason the watch has the desirable status of being one of the slimmer chronographs and the slimmest Speedmaster with a profile of < 12mm. The other current Speedmasters are based on the popular Valjoux 7750 and 7751 movements, while the Speedmaster Professional--based on the Lemania movement all have a thickness of ~14.5mm. This watch is an excellent choice for those who want a handsome rugged automatic chronograph that will NOT dwarf their wrists. For that reason, this watch is adequately referred to as the "Speedmaster Reduced" since it has a 39mm diameter and a 12mm profile. This is a great watch!

1) Pictures and technical info taken from Omega site

2) Omega website lists the Speedmaster Reduced as having a 35.5mm case size, when it's actually about 39mm. Here is Omega's official explanation: "At the time the Speedmaster Reduced was launched the diameter was measured between 12 and 6 o'clock on the case body (without the bezel/tachymeter scale). This was common practice and we kept the dimension (35.5 mm) even for new Speedmaster Reduced models to avoid any confusion with the former versions." (info from John Rochowicz, at WUS). So, the correct sizes are the ones listed: 39 and 42mm.

3) review based on article at

Saturday, September 8, 2007

WEMPE Chronometer Certification

To earn the right to be called a chronometer, a watch must prove the accuracy of its rate during a standardized testing procedure, and the timepiece’s precision must be certified by an official testing authority. The reason for this elaborate process becomes understandable when one considers the historical background that led to the invention of the chronometer.

As late as the mid-eighteenth century, most mariners were unable to precisely determine their position at sea because they lacked a reliable means of measuring time. This knowledge is essential for the calculation of a ship’s current longitude. Unnecessary detours and seagoing accidents were frequent consequences. This unsatisfactory situation persisted until 1759, when Englishman John Harrison invented the chronometer. Harrison succeeded in constructing a timepiece so accurate that it could be used to calculate the difference between the time at the vessel’s home harbour and the actual time on board, also making it possible to determine longitude. Combined with the known latitude, the two values precisely indicated the vessel’s current position.

Crafting a chronometer requires time and patience. The labour invested by the watchmakers bears fruit in the pleasure these timepieces give their owners. When Wempe decided to establish its own production site for chronometers in Glashütte a few years ago, only one location seemed truly appropriate.

Our production site is situated where the air is cleanest and the heavens most clearly visible: At the observatory that towers high above Glashütte in Saxony. Though this is a comparatively small town containing only 4,500 inhabitants, its name raises the pulse rates of watch aficionados all over the world.

The observatory’s campus now includes a facility where watches are tested in accordance with the German chronometer norm. Wempe collaborates at the restored observatory with the state offices for weights and measurements of Thuringia and Saxony. Some sixty years after Wempe’s first activities in Glashütte, the company is once again helping to make sure that Glashütte remains a synonym for superlative German watchmaking. And the town’s observatory has finally become what it was always intended to be.

All year round, the night sky offers an incredible variety of fascinating views. Visitors can experience this fascination by means of a telescope at the Glashütte observatory.

An increasingly large number of renowned watchmakers began settling in Glashütte during the second half of the nineteenth century. Their trailblazing inventions contributed to the outstanding reputation enjoyed by this Mecca of German watchmaking, and their unconventional timepieces earned praise and recognition beyond Germany’s frontiers.

(if you are interested to know more, check the site)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Inside COSC

COSC stands for Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres (official Swiss chronometer inspection). Furthermore, in 2001, COSCs three laboratories in Geneva, Biel and Le Locle, individually tested 1,315,752 horological movements, almost all for compliance with international chronometer standard ISO 3156 for mechanical wristwatches, and issued 1,255,515 chronometer certifications worth at least USD4.5 million. This is a 23.3% rise on the previous year.

Out of 77 brands and a handful of watch schools submitting movements for chronometer certification, Rolex is by far the biggest contributor to COSC. It sends almost their entire output of mechanical movements to COSC and in 2001, 761,601 of them were given chronometer certificates — a 20% increase over 2000. "All the mechanical watches Rolex sells are officially certified chronometers," intoned a bimbo in charge of misinformation at the Geneva company headquarters. The Geneva and Biel laboratories are almost entirely devoted to testing Rolex movements. Interestingly, Geneva, where 96% of movements tested are from Rolex, shows the lowest failure rate at 2.2%. It rises to 4.5% in Biel (86% Rolex) and to 5.7% in Le Locle where virtually no Rolex movements are tested.

Top Six COSC Brands in 2001


Rolex - 761,601 - All mechanical + 573 quartz mvmts, men's and women's
Omega - 207,879 - All mechanical, men's
Breitling - 142,825 - 40% quartz
Bulgari - 36,380 - All mechanical, men's
Panerai - 27,275 - All mechanical, men's
Tag Heuer - 20,650 - All mechanical, men's

Audemars Piguet, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lange, IWC, Breguet and Piaget are among the brands absent from COSC.

What Does COSC Measure and How Good is the Test?

In order to satisfy the insatiable apathy of his readers for the most irrelevant details, Watchbore went in person to the COSC laboratory in Geneva to see for himself how the movements are tested. "We test the engine and not the car; that is the responsibility of the brand," says Mr Curchod ushering Watchbore into the dust-free, temperature- and moisture-controlled climate of the laboratory. COSC tests movements at their barest functional level, although brands can enter movements with as many complications as they like. As all the movements are wound by the crown, automatics have to leave their rotors behind because the machine that turns the crown would damage the highly geared winding mechanism. Most of the mechanical watches tested by COSC become automatics. Each movement is fitted with a COSC standard dial, seconds-hand (sweep or small) and winding crown. Every 24 hours, an electronic camera records the state of the seconds-hand to the nearest tenth of a millisecond compared to the atomic reference clock. The camera shoots twice in succession to check whether the movement has stopped. Then the movement is rewound and returned to the appropriate position and temperature for the next 24-hour period. This goes on for 16 consecutive periods. For the first 11 periods, the movements spend at least 48 hours in each of five positions at a constant 23°C. The readings indicate both how accurate and how precise the movement is. Using a shooting analogy, accuracy is how close you are to the target. Precision is a tight grouping of shots, which may be off target. Thus, a watch that gains 15 seconds a day might not be accurate, but if it gains (or loses) exactly the same amount every day, it is extremely precise. High precision can be adjusted to accuracy, but low precision indicates inherent faults such as an inconsistent power supply, probably due to defects in the going train. By analyzing the rate variation between different positions, the COSC test can diagnose a badly poised balance, too much oil, or a need to review the profile and roundness of the pivots. The next three test periods determine how much the rate varies between three different temperatures — 8°, 23° and 38°C. Excessive changes in the rate could show that the balance-spring alloy is not up to standard. For the last two days, the movement resumes its original position and temperature. Comparing the readings here with the first two days’ results shows to what extent the test itself has affected the performance of the movement. Rolex has a special machine to test its vast quantities of movements. These are loaded into magazines like bullets. The machine extracts the movement, reads it, winds it and returns it to the magazine. Non-Rolex movements are placed in recesses on trays. In an adjoining room, large cupboards hold batches of watches in various positions at different temperatures.


Mean daily rate (during the first 10 days): -4+6 secs/day

Mean rate variation (average of the 5 absolute variations in 5 positions during the first 10 days of test): 2 secs/day

Maximum rate variation (in five positions during the first 10 days of test): 5 secs/day

Maximum difference in rate between vertical and horizontal positions (mean rate of days 1 and 2 minus mean rate of days 9 and 10): -6+8 secs/day

Greatest rate difference (between one of the first 10 daily rates and the average daily rate for the test): 10 secs/day

Rate variation according to temperature (the rate at 38°c minus the rate at 8°c divided by the temperature difference): ±0.6 secs/day °c

Rate resumption (the final rate minus the average rate of the first two days): ±5 secs/day

Why COSC Doesn’t Grade Watches According to Performance

The objective assessment and testing of civilian watches started in the railway age when confidence in the timekeeping qualities of your watch became paramount. Observatories and laboratories in major cities rated timepieces. Manufacturers competed for prizes. Customers paid premiums for high-rated watches. COSC differs in one important respect from all previous watch testing institutions and observatories. It is strictly non-competitive. There are no points awarded or any prizes. There are no degrees of success or honorable mentions. The watches either pass or fail. This was the one condition demanded by the Swiss watch industry when COSC was founded in 1973. Until that time, there were two institutions in Switzerland that issued rating certificates to watches. The observatories rated prepared timepieces, held competitions and awarded prizes. Local testing laboratories in seven watch making towns issued rating certificates to time-of-day watches. These were grouped into an association called ABDO. ABDO rating certificates gave commendations such as "especially good" to deserving movements. Ninety percent of the watches submitted to ABDO laboratories were from three brands — Rolex, Omega and Mido.In 1972, an important delegation of Swiss watch manufacturers went to see Mr René Meylan, then industry minister in the Neuchâtel cantonal government. They demanded the end of the observatory competitions. The reason: the Japanese had swept the board in the last two events. Mr Meylan replied that he thought that the whole point of the competitions was for the best to win. The brands then threatened to boycott the contests. Meylan gave in. The observatory competitions were suspended and never revived. At the same time Rolex, Omega and Mido started to dismember ABDO. By selectively boycotting one or other of the seven testing laboratories they caused each to grant increasing discounts and favors until the organization collapsed. Mr Soguel says COSC does not compile or publish comparative results because there is no demand for it from the brands. He compares the COSC certificate to a university degree. "It certifies that you have reached a certain standard, but it does not guarantee that you can still pass the test 20 years hence. And when you frame your diploma on your office wall, you don’t mention the marks you got." Were COSC to introduce any sort of ranking by test results, Swiss watchmakers would be forced to compete on the intrinsic qualities of their watches and the whole value hierarchy of Swiss watches would be overturned.

Is COSC Really Independent?

COSC rose from the ashes of ABDO in 1973 as an association of the five watch making cantons of Bern, Geneva, Neuchâtel, Solothurn and Vaud. This government membership was intended to give COSC official independence, but the association is controlled by its general assembly of government and industry representatives. Although the governments have a majority of one, the quorum rules enable a majority of the brands if any government delegates fail to attend.Mr Soguel declares that the main aim of COSC is to defend its chronometer certificate as a label of excellence, and that maintaining COSC’s total independence from the watch industry is key to the defense of the chronometer. His strategy is uncompromising integrity in the tests. Since he took over as managing director in 1997, COSC has invested heavily in developing its measuring systems and in complying with standards governing testing procedures and environment. The Swiss Federal Office of Metrology has also accredited the COSC laboratories. "I am aware that COSC is a monopoly and of the danger that implies," says Mr Soguel. "But I cannot endanger the credibility of COSC with any lapse from absolute rigor."An increasing number of manufacturers are submitting their movements for chronometer certificates, mostly minor brands with a handful of pieces. Rolex, which accounted for 80% to 90% of the COSC chronometers, has now seen its share drop to 64%. "Rolex has shown a very strong desire that COSC remains totally independent," observes Mr Soguel.After much consideration, Watchbore must reach the conclusion that COSC is either an independent institution or a marketing tool for Swiss brands, but it cannot be both. Even though COSC is a monopoly, it is unable to raise chronometer standards and thus the standards of Swiss watch making. Even though it is a government association, COSC cannot or will not publish the results of its tests. Three brands provide 90% of its turnover. COSC has to be dependent on their goodwill.

besed on article by Alan Downing, at
(full article at

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Most Expensive Watch

In December 1999, one of the most complicated watches ever made became the most expensive watch ever sold when it was hammered down for $11 million at Sotheby's.

The gold pocket watch, which featured 24 complications, was the result of a long-standing competition between two magnates of America's Gilded Age. New York financier Henry Graves Jr. and Ohio automobile engineer James Ward Packard vied with one another to own a timepiece with the greatest possible number of complications. (Complications are mechanical functions of the watch other than the hours, minutes and seconds.) Packard commissioned 13 complicated watches from Patek Philippe between 1900 and 1927. They included a perpetual calendar with phases and age of the moon, indication of sunrise and sunset, and a celestial chart depicting the constellations of stars in the sky over Packard's home in Ohio.
Not to be outdone, Henry Graves Jr. also commissioned a series of complicated watches from Patek Philippe, culminating in a timepiece that took three years to design and five years to produce. When completed in 1933, the watch had a different horological function for each hour of the day and included a chart of the nighttime sky over Graves' home in New York.
Graves died in 1953, and his heirs sold the watch to the Time Museum in Rockford, Ill., in 1968. When the museum closed, the watch was among 80 other pieces from the collection that were deaccessioned and sold at Sotheby's in 1999. All together, they brought $28 million. The Graves watch had a presale estimate of $3 million to $5 million, and sold for $11,003,500 to an anonymous collector.

Forbes Fact: In 1989, Patek Philippe created the world's most complicated timepiece, the Caliber 89, in celebration of the firm's 150th anniversary. A pocket watch like the Graves and the Packard, the Caliber 89 has 33 functions and 1,728 unique parts. Its complications include the date of Easter, sidereal time and a celestial chart with 2,800 stars.
by Anna Rohleder

Watch Brands History - Article 9 (Casio)

Sometimes things start out in the most surprising ways. Take the watch company of Casio for example. If you were asked to guess what the first product that was made by Casio, you may think it was the calculator or some other type of electronic product. You would be wrong. The Casio Company was started 1946 by Tadao Kashio. Understand that this was in Japan following World War II. The financial situation was dire in Japan at the time to say the least. When Mr. Kashio began his company, he was a fabrication engineer hoping to catch a big break.

His big break showed up in a very unique way. Tadao Kashio developed a product called the yubiwa pipe. Its design allowed it to be worn on the finger. It was used to hold a cigarette, allowing the smoker to smoke the cigarette to the filter, all while still being able to use both hands. In the impoverished Japan of the times, cigarettes were a hot commodity and the product was an overwhelming success. The yubiwa pipe is a far cry from the calculators and watches that were to follow, but it did start the company down the road to success.

Since it is obvious that Mr. Kashio was an inventive sort of man, it only took a little while for him to decide to explore different products. At the business show in Ginza, Japan in 1949, he discovered electronic calculators. With the proceeds from the sale of the yubiwa pipes, Mr. Kashio and his brothers began to experiment with making their own calculators. At the time, most calculators were run by the use of gears. With diligence and hard work, the Casio Company came out with the first calculator to use solenoids. The new type of calculator went on sale in 1954. This calculator also was the first to have the 10 digit keypad and had only one display window as opposed to the competitors' that had three. In 1957 Casio released the Model 14-A, the world's first all-electric compact calculator, which was based on relay technology. 1957 also marked the establishment of Casio Computer Co. Ltd.

With the launch of its first watch in November 1974, Casio entered the wristwatch market at a time when the watch industry had just discovered digital technology. As a company with cutting-edge electronic technology developed for pocket calculators, Casio entered this field confident that it could develop timepieces that would lead the market.

It is possible that the most well remembered watch produced by this company was the calculator watch. For those of you who don't remember, it featured all of the amazing time keeping capabilities of the regular Casio watches, with an added feature. It had a tiny calculator complete with miniature keypad built into the watch. During its hey day it was the bane of math teachers everywhere and the savior of every math deficient student.

Considering the calculator watch was so much fun, Casio continued to raise the bar. This company was also the first to design and produce a watch that could provide its owner with some interesting details. One such watch could display the time of many different time zones at the touch of a button. Others were equipped to give weather details like the temperature and barometric pressure. Mountain climbers of ages past particularly were fond of the version that came with a gauge to indicate the altitude. While other watch makers were stuck on the same old, same old, Casio consistently offered new and exciting variations on the classic wristwatch.

In 1983, Casio launched the shock-resistant G-SHOCK watch. This product shattered the notion that a watch is a fragile piece of jewelry that needs to be handled with care, and was the result of Casio engineers taking on the challenge of creating the world’s toughest watch. Using a triple-protection design for the parts, module, and case, the G-SHOCK offered a radical new type of watch that was unaffected by strong impacts or shaking. Its practicality was immediately recognized, and its unique look, which embodied its functionality, became wildly popular, resulting in explosive sales in the early 1990s. The G-SHOCK soon adopted various new sensors, solar-powered radio-controlled technology, and new materials for even better durability. By always employing the latest technology, and continuing to transcend conventional thinking about the watch, the G-SHOCK brand has become Casio’s flagship timepiece product.

With the true gadget geeks of the world in mind, Casio came up with a watch just for them. It is the Wave Ceptors line of watches. They really outdid themselves with this one. These watches are equipped to receive radio signals that enable the watch to keep accurate time. They also are able to tell the time in different time zones, the user can set alarms and timers. This line of watches also came with an incredibly extensive user manual to provide all of the necessary instructions to the owner.

From the yubiwa pipe to the finest calculators and watches in the world, the Casio has come a long way from its humble beginnings. They continue to challenge themselves and their competitors to new higher peaks and offer the best products electronics can build.

1957 Casio releases the Model 14-A, the world's first all electric compact calculator
1965 The 001 calculator is released
1974 The Casiotron, a watch that features a fully automatic calendar, including month lengths and leap years, is released.
1983 The first G-Shock watch, the DW-5000C, is released.
2007 The OCW-S1000J, dubbed the Oceanus "Manta", is released being the world's thinest solar-powered chronograph being only approx. 8.9mm in thickness.

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Saturday, September 1, 2007

Watch Brands History - Article 8 (Fortis)

The swiss village of Grenchen was the home of FORTIS when the company was founded by Walter Vogt in 1912, and it still is today. Mr. Vogt was a great innovator and pioneer: his original philosophy still forms the basis of today's company's policy. " ..the manufacture of good quality Swiss watches, in innovative designs at affordable prices.."

The most decisive year in the history of FORTIS was in 1924, when Walter Vogt met John Harwood, the British inventor of the automatic wristwatch. Harwood had already been looking for two years to find an industrial partner to massproduce his invention in Switzerland. In the founder of FORTIS, he discovered an enlighted defender of "the automatic wristwatch" concept. Walter Vogt backed the project and provided considerable financial resources to putting this invention into production.

The world's first selfwinding wristwatch in series production the "Harwood Automatic" was presented at the Basle fair and attracted intense interest.

In the 1930's, FORTIS produced two more classic automatic watches which became famous products: First came the "Rolls", a wristwatch, which was to become legendary with a winding system developed by Leon Hatot of Paris. The watches name was derived from the motion of the movement inside the case to wind the movement.

FORTIS produced the Autorist, which used another automatic mechanism invented by John Harwood. The watch was powered by movements of the strap by means of its attachement to the watch.

On the occassion of the company's 25th anniversary FORTIS manufactured their first chronographs which are admired for their precision until today. "Wandfluh", the name of the Jura massive close to Grenchen as name of the FORTIS Chrono became known throughout the world.

The latin wordmeaning of FORTIS is "strong" and with the presentation of the first waterproof watches from Switzerland FORTIS again perfectly meets the market demands with their most successful model "Fortissimo".

Some decades later to its first appearance on the market the alarm wrist watch enjoys renewed popularity thanks to the efforts of FORTIS.

FORTIS takes up the manufacturing of the alarm watch, thus becoming closely associated with the world-wide distribution of the most serviceable timepiece ever marketed.

FORTIS wins the leading chronometer awards conferred by the Swiss Insitute for Official Watch Timekeeping Tests, awarded to their waterproof alarm watches of the "Manager"-series. Every single "FORTIS-Manager" alarm watch tested, obtained the supreme distinction "especially good results".

In Tokyo 600 watchmakers celebrated the so-called "FORTIS day" in Yamaha hall on the 26 th of November. The company invited the Japanese watchmakers to promote the new electrical regulation system "BEP" presented by FORTIS and as thus the good relationship with the members of the Japanese watchmakers society.

The name of FORTIS- synonymous worldwide for reliable automatic watches from Switzerland- continues with their jubilee watch on the occasion of the company's 50th anniversary "Stratoliner" and the "Spacematic", a 25 atmospheres tested absolutely wateresistant anchour watch, high precision automatic, with date indication and chosen by the members of the American astronauts team that year.

With the upcoming quartz watches from Japan FORTIS like all the other Swiss brands had to face a competition on the market, which a lot of them could not stand. The FORTIS answer on this challenge, based on the companies experiences in waterresistant diver watches was the development of the "Flipper" watch. For the American market: the "FORTIS-Cobra", a most striking design which was a real hit and enormous success in those swinging times.

FORTIS set the pace in watch fashion with the "Flipper quartz leader" model, a great success in more than 40 countries the following years. This watch range incorporated the original FORTIS Container System, allowing the movement and bracelet to be interchanged within seconds.

The "Flipper quartz leader" provides besides steel and 18 ct. gold bracelets a wide range of colourful straps and thus made this FORTIS design a hit in the early 80s, worn for example by The Rolling Stones, Roman Polanski, Leonard Bernstein, etc.. The "...aristocrat of the plastic watches"..V. Philibert, Europa Star.

On the occassion of the company's 75th anniversary FORTIS sets a trend by relaunching the automatic wristwatches which had been synonymous for the brand in the glory past. Besides the Original FORTIS Container System with the successful range of the "FORTIS Logo Swiss" collection and the Harwood being the world's first automatic wristwatch in series production, FORTIS relaunched the legendary pilot's watches with their clear functions and easy to read dials in the typical FORTIS design that year and marks the renaissance of mechanical watches, a trend which a lot of Swiss watch companies followed until today.

FORTIS steps into space on board of the first advertising and art painted space craft, a Russian proton rocket. One dial of a limited series of the FORTIS Stratoliner automatic chronograph participates in the first "space museum" in orbit.
Since then a close cooperation between FORTIS and several Russian space institutions lead to the development of the FORTIS OFFICIAL COSMONAUTS CHRONOGRAPH, which was tested on the border of modern physics and under spaceflight simulation and proved its reliability on the wrist of the russian cosmonauts even in open space.

After two years of testing and preparation the Yuri Gagarin Russian State Scientific-Research Test Center of Cosmonauts Training in Star City chose the FORTIS OFFICIAL COSMONAUTS CHRONOGRAPH to be part of their cosmonauts official equipment.
Developed in intensive cooperation with the experienced experts of the center the FORTIS automatic chronograph received its unique design which meats the cosmonauts needs in every detail of its function.

The space mission EUROMIR I crew was the first to which the FORTIS Official Cosmonauts Chronograph Sets were presented to in October. Since then the FORTIS Sets were presented to all Russian cosmonauts of the Gagarin Center and the FORTIS Chronographs proved their reliability on the wrists of astronauts and cosmonauts in their professional activity and during several extra vehicular activities in open space.

Deeply involved in the world of aviation the FORTIS Chronographs were the timekeeping instruments of the world height record on a MIG 25PU double seater -non experimental- aircraft with a civil passenger, honoured by the guiness book of records.

After a successful launch of the FORTIS Cosmonauts and Pilot's collection in Europe FORTIS started its market approach with a spectacular debut in Asia.

The FORTIS OFFICIAL COSMONAUTS CHRONOGRAPH was chosen to be the official watch of the Russian-German space mission MIR 97.
On the occassion of the company's 85th anniversary the world's first automatic chronograph with mechanical alarm was presented at the Basle fair. In close cooperation and as per the demands of the cosmonauts developed, FORTIS exposed this mechanical speciality in a limited anniversary edition of 100 pieces in platinum, to be followed by a steel version later.

The Hungarian Air Force uses the FORTIS Pilot Professional Chronograph Automatic to equip their pilots. The 47th tactical fighter regiment fly with FORTIS.

Millennium Expedition to the South Pole.New Year's Eve 1999-2000: Austrian Ernst Zinnhobler became the first European to make an extreme jump over the South Pole.He jumped from the icy height of 5,000 m, his speed of fall reaching 250 km/h, accompanied by a FORTIS CHRONOGRAPH.

FORTIS SPACEMATIC - The Next Generation. With this collection, FORTIS takes a giant step into the new millennium.

"GTS" Global Transmission Services.The first experiment on board the International Space Station - ISS was to test the global synchronization of wristwatches from space. Deeply involved in the world of aviation and space, FORTIS takes part in the development of a new radiocontrolled signal in cooperation with the European Space Agency ESA, the German Aerospace Center DLR and DaimlerChrysler Research.

"Star of the Blue Planet"FORTIS was presented with this medal of honour from the Russian Space Agency Rosaviakosmos for commitment to the development of mechanical chronographs for space travel.
No. 1 International Watch Award in Japan. The FORTIS OFFICIAL COSMONAUTS CHRONOGRAPH won the watch magazine "BEGIN" grand prix in the category for space watches

World height record for helicopters of 12,954 meters, set by French pilot Fred North with his AS 350B helicopter "ECUREUIL". Along for the ride: the FORTIS B-42 PILOT PROFESSIONAL CHRONOGRAPH.

Presentation of the new FORTIS OFFICIAL COSMONAUTS CHRONOGRAPH in the striking B-42 design.

Winner of the "1st European Aviation Watch Award": FORTIS FLIEGER CHRONOGRAPH AUTOMATIC.

"Four years, more than 700 days walking through 11,000 km of Arctic Tundra, 10 million footsteps in the snow of four winters…" Gilles Elkaim approached his final 28 km stretch of this unique expedition with excitement. On this wild and unforgiving trekfrom the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, the Frenchman wore the FORTIS OFFICIAL COSMONAUTS CHRONOGRAPH.

Exactly 10 years after the first official flight FORTIS remains as the exclusive supplier of manned space missions authorized by the Russian Federal Space Agency. The FORTIS B-42 OFFICIAL COSMONAUT CHRONOGRAPH floating in space on board the ISS, International Space Station.

The high altitude research rocket MAXUS 7 was launched in May for a 13-minutes flight in zero gravity. On board, the FORTIS B-42 OFFICIAL COSMONAUTS CHRONOGRAPH

Watch Brands History - Article 7 (Seiko)

Although the Seiko name was adopted in 1924 with the introduction of its first wrist watch, the company was actually founded 43 years earlier by a clockmaker in Tokyo's Ginza District. Applauded for its accuracy and craftsmanship, the Seiko watch became a resounding success and by 1938, demand for the timepieces pushed yearly production to well over one million watches.

Dedicated to technology advancement and precise manufacture, the Seiko Company has repeatedly staked its reputation on performance, acting as the Official Timer of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Sapporo, Barcelona, Lillihammer and Nagano. Seiko's many design innovations include the world's first quartz watch, the world's first LCD quartz watch with six digit display, and the world's first intelligent analog quartz watch with alarm and timer function.

In 1992, with the introduction of the Kinetic design, once again Seiko rewrote the state of the art. The Seiko Kinetic collection is a line of quartz watches that are electrically charged by movement. The Kinetic Auto Relay goes into suspended animation when unworn for three days, thus conserving energy. With a few shakes of the wearer's wrist, it wakes up and resets itself to the exact time. Other trend-setting, multi-functional watches by Seiko include the Perpetual Calendar series which automatically reset their date settings for the next 100 years; the Chronograph collection with dual stopwatch features; the Le Grande Sport series, a classic combination of contemporary European design and functionality; and the Ladies Jewelry collection, an elegant marriage of versatility and style.

Seiko Chronological Timeline:

1881 Establishment by Kintaro Hattori of K. Hattori & Co., Ltd., predecessor of todays's SEIKO Corporation.

1892 Foundation of Seikosha clock supply factory. Production of wall clocks begins.

1895 Production of fob watches begins. Seiko brand watch (1924)

1899 Production of alarm clocks begins.

1902 Production of table clocks and musical clocks begins.

1913 Production of the first wrist watch made in Japan begins.

1917 K. Hattori & Co., Ltd. becomes a public company.

1924 SEIKO brand first used on watches.

1937 Watch production split off as Daini Seikosha Co., Ltd., independent predecessor of today's Seiko Instruments Inc.

1942 Establishment of watch producer, Daiwa Kogyo Ltd., predecessor of today's Seiko Epson Corporation.

1955 Production of the first self-winding wrist watch made in Japan begins. Replica exhibited in the Smithsonian Museum from 1999.

1958 Introduction of quartz clocks for broadcasting use.

1959 Introduction of transistorised table clocks.

1963 Development of portable quartz chronometer.

1964 SEIKO serves as Official Timer of Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan.

1968 Establishment of subsidiary in Hong Kong.

1969 Introduction of Seiko Astron, world's first quartz watch (35SQ).

1970 Establishment of Seiko Time Corporation in USA.

1971 Establishment of Seiko Time (U.K.) Ltd. Seiko Time Corporation in the USA opens its first office in Canada.

1972 Establishment of Seiko Time GmbH in the former Federal Republic of Germany.
SEIKO serves as Official Timer of Sapporo Winter Olympic Games in Japan.

1973 Introduction of world's first LCD quartz watch with six-digit digital display (06LC).

1974 Establishment of Seiko Time Ltd. in Brazil.

1975 Introduction of world's first multi-function digital watch.

1976 Introduction of world's first quartz alarm clock.

1977 Establishment of subsidiary in Australia. Establishment of subsidiary in Panama.

1978 Establishment of subsidiary in Switzerland. SEIKO serves as Official Timer of World Cup Football Championships in Argentina.
Introduction of world's first very-fine adjusted ultra-accurate Twin Quartz watch, with less than five seconds deviation per year.

1979 Establishment of subsidiary in Sweden.
Introduction of Pulsar brand.
Introduction of Alba brand.

1980 Establishment of subsidiary in the Netherlands.

1981 Establishment of representative office in Dubai.
Introduction of Lassale brand.

1982 SEIKO serves as Official Timer of World Cup Football Championships in Spain.
Introduction of world's first TV watch.
Introduction of Lorus brand.

1983 K. Hattori & Co., Ltd. renamed as Hattori Seiko Co., Ltd.
Introduction of world's first watch with sound-recording functions.

1984 Introduction of world's first "talking" clock, the Seiko Pyramid Talk.

1986 SEIKO serves as Official Timer of World Cup Football Championships in Mexico.

1987 SEIKO serves as Official Timer of 2nd IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Italy.

1988 Introduction of quartz watch with sweep second hand.
Introduction of quartz watch powered by the wearer's movement, requiring no batteries.
Introduction of world's first intelligent analogue quartz watch with alarm, chronograph and timer functions controlled by an IC "computer on a chip

1989 Establishment of subsidiary in Thailand.

1990 Major associated companies overseas begin to use the SEIKO name.Hattori Seiko Co., Ltd. renamed as SEIKO Corporation.
SEIKO serves as Official Timer of World Cup Football Championships in Italy.
Introduction of the Seiko "The Age of Discovery" collection.Introduction of the Seiko Scubamaster, world's first computerised diver's watch to incorporate a dive table.
Introduction of the Seiko Receptor MessageWatch incorporating a miniaturised FM subcarrier.

1991 Establishment of subsidiary in Finland.Establishment of subsidiary in Taiwan.
SEIKO serves as Official Timer of 3rd IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Tokyo, Japan.
Introduction of the Seiko Perpetual Calendar with the world's first "millennium-plus calendar".

1992 SEIKO serves as Official Timer of Barcelona Olympic Games in Spain.

1993 Introduction of the Golf-Club (S-YARD).

1994 Establishment of a representative office in Beijing.
SEIKO serves as Official Timer of Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games in Norway.
Introduction of Seiko KINETIC series.

1995 Introduction of Alba "Spoon" series.

1996 Establishment of SEIKO Optical Products, Inc. Establishment of SEIKO Clock Inc.
Establishment of SEIKO Precision Inc.

1997 Establishment of SEIKO Jewelry Co., Ltd.
Establishment of SEIKO Watch Sales Inc., merger of watch operations and marketing functions.
Change Japanese company name to SEIKO Kabushiki Kaisha.

1998 SEIKO serves as Official Timer of Nagano Winter Olympic Games in Japan.
Introduction of Perpetual Calendar watch driven by world's first ultrasonic micromotor.
Introduction of the SEIKO THERMIC, the world's first watch driven by body heat.

1999 Introduction of the SEIKO KINETIC AUTO RELAY watch, which automatically resumes correct indication of current time.
Introduction of hand wound spring-drive watch with quartz accuracy.

2000 Establishment of SEIKO S-YARD Co., Ltd.