Wempe Watch Blog

Wempe Watch Blog
2017-09-19

Many watches today feature mother-of-pearl dials that are shimmering with light and different hues. Generally used on women's watches, mother-of-pearl has become a favorite for men's watches, as well, especially in darker hues. Not all mother-of-pearl dials are natural in color. Dials can be enhanced with color by painting a lacquer or varnish on the back.

The making of a mother-of-pearl dial is not easy. It begins with ultra-thin sheets of mother-of-pearl that are often brittle and can break easily. Those sheets are then cut into orbs, squares or rectangles, depending on the shape of the watch case.

The precise and painstaking task requires expert craftsmen and specialty tools. Often, the job is delegated to a special dial-making company that can handle the pressure. Even then, a dial maker with a strong team can produce only a few thousand top-quality mother-of-pearl dials annually. Watch brands typically buy the base dial already cut and then add their hands, indices or other accents in their workshops.

The best natural mother-of-pearl dial is extra bright white and is sourced in Australia, the South Seas or regions in the Pacific Ocean. Black pearl dials are typically Tahitian in origin. Natural mother-of-pearl is also found in very pale shades of pink, cream and beige. Sometimes the mother-of-pearl is engraved or decorated with sunray or other motifs.

2017-09-14

This year marks the 17th edition of the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Geneve — a top watch awards event. An expert jury has pre-selected 72 watches that will vie for the winning prize in each category. The winners will be announced at a gala affair in Geneva on November 8, 2017.

Earlier this year, the jury, consisting of 28 multi-disciplinary experts from around the world, selected six watches to compete in each of the 12 categories. Categories include Ladies watches, Ladies High-Mech, Men's, Chronographs, Calendars, Artistic Crafts and more. In addition to the categories, there are some other prizes being offered — for a total of 15 — including the prestigious “Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix.

Leading up to the final awards ceremony, there will be a traveling exhibition of the 72 watches that will tour to Milan in October at the Palazzo Clerici, in partnership with BMW. They will continue to Mexico, where they will be shown at the retail location of Berger Joyeros before headlining at the SIAR - Salón Internacional Alta Relojería exhibition.

The watches will travel to Taipei, and then on to Geneva, where they will be on exhibit from November 1 to 12 at the Museum of Art and History (MAH). The winning watches will make a final trip Dubai, where they will be exhibited during Dubai Watch Week organized by Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons.

We are happy to carry many of the brands that have made it to the final selection, and will bring news of the winners in November.

Credits: Photos courtesy of GPHG.org.
2017-09-12

Today, so many watch brands offer timepieces with hands or numerals that glow in the dark, but did you ever wonder how they bring luminescence to the dial? Over the years, the materials used to make dials easy to read at night or underwater have evolved, from dangerous and life-threatening substances, such as radium in the early 1900s, to today's safer and  brighter methods.

Easily the most common product used today to make the hands and markers luminous is a material that was developed in the early 1990s: Super-LumiNova. The patented product comes in a variety of glowing colors, ranging from blue to green and even orange. It is made from a mix of materials, predominantly strontium aluminate, and is not radioactive.

Since its creation, the strength of Super-LumiNova has evolved to the point where now, depending on the amount and type used by the individual watch brands, it can be as much as 10 times brighter than earlier materials. The substance is applied in various strengths or coatings to the hands, the numerals, indices or other accents on the dial. It absorbs UV light and subsequently can glow in the dark for hours.

Other materials sometimes used by professional sport watchbands include “gaseous tritium light source” (GTLS) — tiny tubes of tritium placed together to offer an intense brightness stronger than Super-LumiNova. The material is radioactive and so it is hermetically sealed in the tiny tubes. The company best known for supplying these tiny tubes is MB-Microtec. While Super-LumiNova can dim after 20-30 minutes if it doesn't get further UV exposure, the tritium capsules don't dim for 20 years. However, this substance is banned in some countries.

2017-09-06

Those of you who love tennis are surely watching the events taking place at the US Open Tennis Championships — an exciting tournament that will crown its champions in New York this weekend. We are paying attention, as well, because certain players are also brand ambassadors for watch brands we carry in our store.

One such relationship is that of Ukrainian professional tennis player, Elina Svitolina, who is a brand ambassador for Ulysse Nardin. She wears the Lady Marine Chronometer. She signed on with the brand earlier this year and has even visited its manufacture in Switzerland. Ulysse Nardin has been committed to creating women's watches and the Lady Marine is just one example of the vast collection of mechanical watches for women unveiled over the past few years. Earlier this year, Ulysse Nardin also released the Lady Grand Feu enamel watches in a host of shimmering colors, and the Jade watch in artistic renditions. The Lady Marine, however, underscores the brand's long-standing relationship with the marine world.

Another brand we carry that has a presence at the US Open is Baume & Mercier. This brand recently signed on the Bryan brothers as brand ambassadors. Identical twins Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan are both tennis stars with a host of accomplishments behind them, and each wears a watch from the brand's new Clifton Club collection.

And then, there is Rolex. This brand has a host of sports pros on its brand ambassador list, but for now the one we are watching is tennis great Roger Federer. We invite you in any time to see the watches these stars wear, and our collections from each of these brands.

Credits: Brand ambassador and watch images courtesy of the respective watch brands.

2017-08-30

Car and watch lovers take note, TAG Heuer has unveiled the new Special Edition Monaco watch that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the famed Gulf Racing stripes. The square-shaped chronograph features the Gulf Racing stripes in all their colorful blue and orange appeal, along with the Gulf logo on the watch dial.

The first Monaco watch was unveiled to the world in 1969 and is the first Swiss-made automatic chronograph that was both square and waterproof. It was released in honor of Heuer's long-standing relationship with the Monaco Brand Prix. That first watch featured a metallic blue dial, domed crystal and a crown positioned on the left side of the case. It was powered by the Caliber 11 — the brand's first automatic chronograph movement. The watch was immediately identifiable from across a crowded room.

Steve McQueen wore a Monaco 1133B Calibre 11 automatic timepiece in the 1971 film Le Mans — winning it a legendary place in watch and car history. McQueen’s character was sponsored by Gulf Oil and his Porsche 917 car was decorated with the Gulf Stripes.

This makes the new watch ever more special. It is powered by the TAG Heuer Caliber 11 and offers 48 hours of power reserve. The 39mm case is crafted in steel with a steel bezel and domed sapphire crystal. The watch, with perforated blue leather strap with orange stitching, is water resistant to 100 meters. The dial has a blue sun ray, and blue and orange Gulf stripes. We are excited to have this watch in our store by mid-September. In the meantime, stop in and see our great assortment of TAG Heuer Monaco watches.

2017-08-24

If you are a car lover as well as a watch lover, then you know that this past week was filled with exciting motorsports events, including the famed Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and all of the gatherings, tours, races and exhibitions that take place around it. Easily one of the most prestigious auto events in the world, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance takes place on the 18th Fairway of the famed Pebble Beach Links Golf course — with a rich Pacific blue ocean backdrop.

For the event, Rolex — a brand we are proud to carry — is the Official Timepiece and is also the title brand for the Rolex Best of Show award, which is given to only one car out of a couple of hundred on display at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance event. While there are awards given for best of each category, only one car — the one judged to be restored with the most authenticity and style — can win Best of Show. The winner this year was the 1929 Mercedes Benz S Barker Tourer in blue and silver owned by Bruce McGaw. McGaw also received a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41 watch in gold and stainless steel for the win.

Additionally, during the week, Rolex sponsored the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at the 11-turn Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where more than 400 cars converged for four days of ultimate racing on a challenging course with hairpin turns and bold changes in elevation. In fact, that raceway celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. A few famous drivers — also Rolex brand ambassadors — were on hand for that classic car racing event, as well. Sir Jackie Stewart, a three-time Formula One World Champion, attended and Tom Kristensen, nine-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, was a featured speaker.

Rolex also had a grand presence at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering and at the Tour d'Elegance. Rolex's relationship with the world of automotive sports is a long and storied one that reaches back to the Daytona races more than half a century ago. We invite you to stop in any time to see our collection of Rolex watches and maybe even talk about cars.

All photos Courtesy of Rolex.

2017-08-17

Solar Eclipse Photo Credit: The Exploratorium/NASA

Time and astronomy have long been linked. Since the dawn of man, we have planted and harvested according to the moon. Many an ancient ritual was performed to honor the sun, and our first abilities to measure time came with the advent of sundials and similar structures. Over the centuries, we learned to better measure time — moving from tracking seasons to tracking months, then days, hours, minutes, seconds and fractions of a second. Additionally, today, many watch brands track the moon and its phases, along with a host of other information, in astronomical timepieces that are a true wonder.

Because time and astronomy are inextricably linked, we want to bring your attention to the fact that next Monday, August 21, 2017, those of us living in North America will be treated to the eclipse of the sun — the first one seen here since 1979. Depending on where you live, you may even get to see the total solar eclipse. The eclipse, which happens when the moon on its path comes between the sun and Earth, obliterates the sun from the sky for just a couple of minutes. The path for the total eclipse runs from Oregon to South Carolina, and is about 70 miles wide, but others will get to witness at least the partial eclipse.

Beware, though, of looking directly at the sun during the eclipse. There are only a handful of safe methods for looking directly at it, including solar eclipse glasses that can be purchased online or at certain museums or photo stores. We advise you to check NASA's solar eclipse site about ways to safely watch the eclipse, which, from beginning to end, will span about four hours — with times varying depending on where you live in the United States. For those of you more interested in the watches that bring astronomy to the wrist, stop in any time and see our selection of moon phase and other astronomically inspired watches.

2017-08-15

Just like you would take care of your jewelry or your car, a fine watch also needs to be properly cared for in order to ensure optimal precision and performance. Additionally, cleaning the exterior of your watch will keep it looking great. Here we bring you six tips for proper care.

1. Before you put your watch on, take a soft, dry, non-abrasive cloth (such as those used to clean sunglass or eyeglass lenses) and wipe the crystal and bracelet to get fingerprints or dust off of it. It is best not to use water to clean your watch, but if you need water to remove dirt on a bracelet or caseback, for instance, you can use a barely damp soft cloth.

2. When putting your watch on your wrist, be careful to avoid holding it over an unforgiving surface, such as a wood or granite floor. Dropping it on a hard surface can cause damage, and we have seen the results of this unfortunate mistake many times before.

3.  If you have a broken watch crystal or even hairline fractures in it, get it replaced quickly before dust or moisture seeps inside.

4. Don't just jump into the ocean or wear your watch into the shower thinking it is water resistant. Not all watches can be immersed in water. If your watch is water resistant, it will say so on the caseback (or even the dial). Look before you leap.

5. If your quartz watch battery dies out, get it replaced at a reputable retailer. It is best not to leave a dead battery inside a watch where it could eventually corrode and damage the timepiece.

6. Have your fine mechanical watch serviced in a timely manner and always take your watch to an authorized retailer for the brand, or to a retailer with a properly equipped service department to have the battery replaced or the old gaskets swapped out to ensure continued water resistance.

2017-08-08

For those of you who are not only watch lovers, but also astronomy lovers, we have the watch for you. At the beginning of this year at the SIHH exhibition in Geneva, Vacheron Constantin unveiled its newest work of art: Metiers d’Art Copernicus Celestial Spheres 2460RT. Offered in three variations, the new watch brings horology, technology and science to the wrist.

Inspired by scientist and mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus and his astronomical discovery of heliocentrism (that the Earth revolves around the sun instead of the other way around), Vacheron Constantin built an all-new movement to honor his revolutionary find. The  in-house-made 352-part Caliber 2460RT was three years in the development stages and offers an original display of time that shows the zodiac signs and the Earth — revolving around a center sun.

Each of the three versions of the watch holds the same concept but in extremely different renditions that recall the graphic depictions of the galaxy created by Andreas Cellarius, a 17th century Dutch-German cartographer. For each watch, the sun sits in the center of the dial, and a round Earth orb revolves around it. On an outer dial ring, the 12 zodiac signs are depicted in one of the three different styles: hand engraving in baroque style; a Grand Feu enamel dial in ocean blue; a laser- and hand-engraved sapphire disk.

The time on each of these 43mm gold watches is displayed by two triangular peripheral hands (an outlined one for the hours and a solid one for the minutes). The “Earth” rotates on its axis in a 24-hour rotation period and, thanks to a tropical gear train that emulates Earth’s elliptical orbit around the Sun (365.2421898 days — or one tropical year), the Earth orb on the dial orbits the sun at that same speed. The mechanism is so precise that only once in 8,000 years will it need an adjustment. Stop in any time to see our amazing collection of Vacheron Constantin watches.

2017-08-08

Last month we brought you news of the Patek Philippe Grande Exhibition taking place in New York City. Free to the public, this largest-of-its-kind exhibition showcased more than 400 current and vintage watches, as well as demonstrations of their arts by watchmakers, engravers, enamelers and more. The exhibit also was the perfect venue for Patek Philippe to unveil a host of new watches, many dedicated strictly to the US market, and some that are world firsts.

In fact, the Ref. 5531R World Time Minute Repeater, New York Special Edition watch, is one such special piece. The grand complication, which retails for more than $500,000, is the first world time watch to chime the time in the local time zone (with a choice of 24 zones). The all-new movement, the R27 HU ultra-thin self-winding caliber with 462 parts, has several patents pending.

The watch — a beautiful work of art and craftsmanship — is created in two hand-painted cloisonné dial versions: one that pays tribute to New York with a skyline by day and the other by night. The case back is fitted with a transparent sapphire crystal for viewing the movement, which carries the Patek Philippe Seal. The watch is also sold with an interchangeable gold case back. Both are engraved with the phrase “Patek Philippe New York 2017.” Just five pieces of each version will be made.

Stay tuned for more information about the Patek Philippe products unveiled last month. Stop in our store to see this brand any time.

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