Wempe Watch Blog

Wempe Watch Blog
2016-08-25

We often get questions about which type of watch strap is the best. The truth of the matter is that first and foremost, this is a personal choice. However, the longevity of your strap has a lot to do with outside influences that include activity, use, climate and temperature. Here, we give you a simple guide to determining whether you want rubber, leather, fabric or metal on your wrist.

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Rubber
If you are a water person who indulges frequently in swimming a rubber strap may be the best choice. Rubber weathers the elements beautifully. It dries quickly after getting out of the water and does not stick to the wrist. Additionally, rubber does not fade or lose its luster or hue. Many of today’s vulcanized rubber straps are blends of polycarbonate and other materials to keep them at top performance levels without getting dry or brittle.

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Leather
If you are thinking about a watch for the office, where the air is conditioned, a leather strap is a good choice. Leather straps are comfortable to wear and give a great choice in hides, textures and color. Leather choices range from calfskin and ostrich to stingray, crocodile, alligator, snake and more. Leather is relatively easy to take care of in the right temperatures, but – in heat and humidity – these straps tend to get a bit sticky on the wrist.

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Fabric/NATO
Fabric straps come in all types. For women, a fabric strap is typically reserved for dress watches and is made of shimmering materials such as silk, satin, even lace. These materials can stain, although most brands protect their fabric with a special treatment. For men, the fabric watch strap predominantly comes in the form of a NATO strap. Easily one of the hottest trends on the market today, NATO straps convert any watch from serious to sporty with ease. Sometimes referred to as military straps, NATO straps have roots dating back to the early 1970s when British soldiers used nylon straps that were highly durable, could be easily cleaned and were not expensive to buy. NATO straps are easy to change and usually slip through the top lugs, pass over the case back and though the bottom lugs. The system acts as double security, too, because one need not worry about spring bars breaking or popping as with typical straps. They are very durable and highly functional, as they dry quickly, don’t stick to the wrist and are designed for extreme wear.

Various Styles of Metal Watch Bracelets

Metal
Another material good for water sports and sticky temperatures, metal bracelets are typically extremely sturdy. Of course, we are not talking about gold bracelets (those can scratch easily and are designed mostly for office and dress wear). Bracelets made of stainless steel, titanium and other alloys are strong and hold up well in outdoor terrains and activities. Titanium is very lightweight, and many people in warm climates prefer this feel on the wrist. With today’s technology, steel and titanium can also be found in a host of colors thanks to PVD and other coating treatments. One of the nice things about bracelet watches is that they are easy to care for — they can be rinsed and cleaned with a soft cloth. The downside: depending on the material, they can scratch.

In the end, the choice of material for your watch strap comes down to your lifestyle and your own personal taste.

2016-08-23
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History buffs and watch lovers alike will be intrigued by a very special pocket watch coming up for sale this week that was purchased in 1841 by Abraham Lincoln as a wedding gift for Mary Todd. While Todd never received the watch, you can — if you go to the Baltimore Art & Antiques Show (August 25-28) where it is being put up for sale for $175,000.

The 18-karat gold and blue enamel pocket watch is studded with diamonds and is a solid example of mid-19th century matchmaking. Currently owned by Gotta Have It! Collectibles Inc., the watch has had several owners over the years and is being sold with documentation showing its provenance, as well as a gift letter, original box and key.

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When Lincoln and Mary Todd were to be married, he purchased the watch as a gift for her and had the inside back cover engraved with the words: “To Miss Mary Todd from A.L. 1841.” However, their original engagement was broken and he later gave the watch to a friend, Mary Curtis, in an impromptu gesture.

Curtis took the watch home thinking Lincoln bought it for her and then saw the inscription. The recounting of the events note that Curtis was heartbroken and put the watch in a trunk, where it remained for 30 years. Near death, she gifted it to a friend in 1872. The watch has sold several times since, each time rising in the price paid. It is a grand example of how timepieces with provenance hold and increase their value.

2016-08-22
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This past week in California was Monterey Classic Car Week, and at almost every turn, visitors saw Rolex. Our friends over at the online watch magazine, ATimelyPerspective.com, wrote about the various events of the week, and you can review their coverage here.

Meanwhile, we are pleased to say that Rolex — a brand we carry — was also a highlight gift for the "Best of Show" winner at the prestigious 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d' Elegance, where the brand is the Official Timepiece. This year, the winning auto was a pre-war 1936 Lancia Astura Pinin Farina Cabriolet owned by Richard Mattei of Arizona.

In addition to this storied recognition, Mattei takes home a host of gifts, including a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date — one of just 41 crafted in Everose and Steel with the new in-house-made Caliber 3235 self-winding movement that holds 14 patents and carries the brand’s Superlative Chronometer certification. Stop in any time to see our winning selection of Rolex watches.

2016-08-18
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Summer activities, especially water sports, can be hard on the wristwatch — and its crystal. The crystal is the clear cover that goes over the dial and protects it. Depending on what that crystal is made of, it can get scratched or even broken if hit too hard. It is a good idea to know what sort of crystal your watch, or the watch you are thinking of buying, is equipped with.

There are typically three main types of crystals used in watches: sapphire crystal, mineral crystal and hesalite crystal. The one your watch features is often reflected in the retail price of the watch.  Here, we take a look at each material individually.

Sapphire crystals:
Sapphire crystals are the preferred choice in luxury watches because they are extremely strong and scratch resistant. They are also the more expensive of the three crystal choices. While this crystal is called sapphire, it should be noted that it is not made from naturally mined sapphire. Instead, the crystals are created as a synthetic compound — and hold the same properties as its natural counterpart.

The process of producing sapphires synthetically was invented in 1893 by French chemist Auguste Victor Louis Verneuil, and shared with the world in 1902. It's formal name is the Verneuil Process, but is more commonly referred to as flame fusion. Essentially, a long column of synthetic sapphire is manufactured in a special furnace using powdered aluminum oxide particles. When they reach temperatures over 2000 degrees Celsius, they melt and then fuse with one another to re-crystallize in a new column form.

The column  is then sliced (with diamond-tipped cutters) to a specific millimeter of thickness and polished to become a watch crystal. Sapphire crystals, as mentioned, are more able to resist scratching and breakage. Anti-reflective coatings can be added to both sides of the crystal without any hazing.

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Mineral Glass Crystals:
Generally a mineral crystal is an ordinary glass crystal that has been heat treated or chemically treated to withstand scratches. However, it is not as scratch-resistant as sapphire and is, therefore, typically used in mid-priced watches where cost is a factor (as mineral glass is less expensive to use than sapphire crystal). Under extreme hot or cold conditions – if the glass is bluntly hit on a certain angle – the glass can crack or shatter. The main benefit to mineral glass crystal lies in its price.

Hesalite Crystals:
Also referred to as plastic crystals, Plexiglas, or acrylic crystals, these are the least expensive option and are most commonly found on lower-priced wristwatches. Plastic will not shatter or crack, but it scratches very easily.

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2016-08-17
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Cartier is renowned for its incredible clock work over the centuries. Easily the most coveted Cartier clocks are the Mystery Clocks, see-through clocks that are generally showcased in rock crystal and other clear materials. What makes them magical is that the hands seem to float in space – telling the time without any apparent link to the movement. Now, Cartier has managed to miniaturize the Mystery Clock and turn it into a stunning new wristwatch: the Rotonde de Cartier Astromysterieux Caliber 9462 MC.

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Although it is not the first Cartier Mystery wristwatch (others include the Mysterious Hour and Mysterious Double Tourbillon), it does offer a new feat in a style only Cartier could achieve. The mechanical manual-wind movement, Caliber 9462 MC Astromystérieux complication, is entirely visible in the dial portion of the mystery watch — where typically only the hands appear.

Indeed, the central tourbillon cage seems to float in space. Essentially from the crown to the center there is the barrel, main gear train, balance and escapement — all performing a complete rotation in one hour so the the hands (on the escapement) make their 60-minute rotation around the dial to mark time. The watch holds three patents and is one of the most complicated pieces to build.

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From the outside looking in through the sapphire crystals, very little of the 408-part caliber (including 188 balls) is seen. Additionally, the space dedicated to the movement’s non-visible gears and components (beneath the tiny outer dial) has been reduced by Cartier’s master watchmakers to the barest minimum – offering a grand-scale work of art and technology. Just 100 pieces of the Rotonde de Cartier Astromystérieux Caliber 9462 MC will be made, cased in palladium. While these watches are incredibly difficult to get one's hands on, they nonetheless demonstrate Cartier's on-going commitment to fine Swiss matchmaking at the highest level.

2016-08-15
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With the Olympic Games in Rio coming to a close at the end of this week, we wanted to take a look at one brand that has several ambassadors at Rio 2016: Hublot.

Top among those star athletes is Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who made history last night by winning the men's 100M. He was the first athlete to win three successive gold medal Olympic 100M runs. While his 9.81-second sprint was not his personal best, it made history nonetheless.

A Hublot ambassador who has several timepieces named in his honor, the light-hearted Bolt helped to design the watches, as well. The most recently unveiled watch is the Hublot Big Bang Unico Usain Bolt watch with distinctive touches that underscore his dynamic spirit and success. In addition to using the colors of his country in the design, this particular watch draws attention with a bold gold strap — something Bolt thought would be a cool touch.

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We carry a great array of Hublot watches in our store and invite you in any time to take a closer look.

2016-08-10
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As any true watch lover knows, the finest sport chronograph watches typically have a host of added functions that offer useful information. Most of them come in the form of meters – not to be confused with depth. Here, we bring you a look at some of those added instruments that could make your summer watch purchase even more fun.

Tachymeter
Much like a car’s speedometer, a tachymeter measures speed, as averaged over a certain distance. Generally, the tachymeter is indicated on the watch via an outside bezel (or sometimes via an outer ring on the dial) that is divided into equal increments. The wearer uses the chronograph to start/stop the event being measured, and then reads the chronograph seconds hand to determine the average speed.

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Telemeter
Working similarly to the tachymeter, the telemeter feature of a chronograph measures distance. This measurement is usually used to calculate the approximate distance between the user and an event that can be seen and heard (such as a lightning or thunder). It does this by using the speed of sound. Essentially, the wearer starts the chronograph when the event is seen and stops it when its sound is heard. The seconds hand is then pointing to the telemeter scale value that approximates the distance from the wearer and the event.

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Pulsometer
Perhaps best loved by doctors and medical personnel, the pulsometer does exactly what it sounds like. It measures the heartbeat. It is an easy tool to use. Generally the wearer starts the watch at the sound, or feel, of the pulse. He or she then counts a short number of pulsations or beats (generally 15 or 30) and then stops the chronograph. The number that the seconds hand points to on the pulsometer scale reflects the corresponding number of heart beast per minute. Essentially, using the watch just takes the multiplication out of normal calculations and does it for you.

Stop in any time to see our wide assortment of chronographs with added meter functions. They can be addicting.

2016-08-04
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Friday, August 5, 2016, marks the start of the  2016 Summer Olympics, which take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with events happening all the way through Sunday, August 21. Whether or not you are a sports enthusiast, the Olympics have universal appeal and most of us will be rooting for a favorite athlete or team. Interestingly enough, many of the top athletes are also watch brand ambassadors. As the coming weeks play out on the track and field, in the stadiums and on the golf courses, we will bring you news of the winners who are also brand ambassadors of the timepieces we carry.

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2016-08-02
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With the dog days of August upon us, it's a great time to catch up on a little reading. There are some really good books out there on watches and time. One such book — just being released later this month — is a must-read for watch lovers. Authored by Ryan Schmidt, The Wristwatch Handbook offers a complete look at the anatomy of a mechanical wristwatch.

Chock-full of images, arrows, pointers and more, the book is geared for the novice watch lover who wants a reference and educational book. The Wristwatch Handbook takes a detailed look at mechanical wristwatch complications (functions) and leaves no stone unturned. It also looks at subjects, such as dial making, mounting hands and building watch crystals.

The book starts with an introduction to the core mechanisms, covers the functions and forms in the main body and concludes by zooming out to take a  broader look at the watch industry, the manufacturing process, key brands, conglomerates and independent manufacturers. The book is nicely illustrated, which helps when you are browsing through a nearly 400-page behemoth.

2016-07-28
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The wearable technology category continues to grow by leaps and bounds. In fact, according to a recent Wearable Technology report conducted by IDTechEx Research, the segment accounts for about $30 billion, with $11 billion of that coming from smart watches and fitness trackers.

While many watch pundits feared the coming of Smart watches — thinking they would steal growth from the traditional watch category — they have actually fueled interest in what people are wearing on the wrists.

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Additionally, some of today's top watch brands are delving into the category and offering a deft blend of traditional watchmaking and smart technology. Among them are TAG Heuer, Frederique Constant, Breitling, Alpina, Tissot and others.

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Brands such as Montblanc and Bulgari have entered the market with more unusual devices. Montblanc offers the e-Strap to attach to certain watches, and Bulgari partnered with WiseKey to create secure document storage accessible only with the watch.

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