Wempe Watch Blog

Wempe Watch Blog
2014-12-31
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As 2014 comes to a close, and as we await — eagerly — the dawn of 2015, we wish to take a few moments to reflect on the year and to thank our readers. It has been an exciting year for us. Among other news, we embarked on strengthening our watch coverage so that we can better keep our customers and potential customers educated and well informed. We look forward to bringing you more news and exciting products in the New Year. For now, we wish you a peaceful and happy end to 2014.

2014-12-29
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Girard-Perregaux

It is well known that pocket watches were sometimes adapted to be worn on straps around the wrist perhaps as early as the late 16th century, but debate still lingers about which company developed the first true wristwatch — a watch precisely intended to be worn on the wrist.

Watch historians can confirm that the wristwatch was used on the battlefield in the late 1880s. The innovation proved to be a far more efficient way for soldiers to read and synchronize time. Previously, they had to rely on a pocket watch that had to be pulled out of their uniforms. Girard-Perregaux was the first brand to produce large quantities of wristwatches for the German military in the 1880s. While the wristwatch was a great innovation for the military, the truth of the matter is that the first wristwatch in the world was created decades earlier.

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Patek Philippe

Both the Guinness Book of World Records and a company known as the World Record Academy have deemed the first wristwatch to be a jewelry item made in 1868 by Patek Philippe. The elaborate gold bracelet watch was made for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary and was designed specifically for use on the wrist.

Breguet, however, also lays claim to having created a watch specifically for a woman’s wrist — half a century earlier. Its archives state that in response to a commission from the Queen of Naples, dated 8 June 1810, Abraham-Louis Breguet began creating a unique wristwatch. Completed two and a half years later on December 21, 1812, the Breguet No. 2639 timepiece for the wrist featured a gold guilloché oblong-shaped case and was a repeating watch held by a wristlet of twisted hair and gold thread. Unfortunately that first wristwatch is untraceable today.

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Capt & Freundler a’ Geneve

What is known is that in the Musee d’Horlogerie du Locle, Switzerland, there is a bracelet watch on display made by Capt & Freundler a’ Geneve, circa 1813, that seems to be a small pocket watch on an gem-adorned bracelet.

2014-12-24
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With the holidays here, you may be searching for some great stocking stuffers or an extra small gift. Maybe the watch lover in your life would enjoy one of these great reads revolving around time and timepieces.

For the lover of luxury watches and the true collector, try “The World’s Most Expensive Watches” by Ariel Adams. The book is a compendium of some of the finest luxury watch brands and the most expensive watch each brand has to offer. The hardcover coffee table book features great images and details of each watch so the savvy reader can fully absorb what makes these timepieces a cut above the rest.

For the woman watch collector, “Jewels of Time” by Roberta Naas is a great hardcover coffee table book that goes into great depth about the evolution of women’s watches, the history and the most exciting current-day women’s watches on the market. Chapters include a look at mechanical watches, artistic dial watches, secret watches, enamel watches and so much more.

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For those who love a good novel, you won’t want to miss reading “The Timekeeper” by author Mitch Albom (who also wrote "Tuesdays with Morrie"). The work of fiction revolves all around the meaning of time and how one man actually became Father Time. The first man on Earth, who figured out how to count the hours and create a clock, also suffered great punishment for trying to measure this gift from God. It is a great read and an impressive tale.

Finally, for those who love history as well as timepieces, and maybe even have a penchant for sailing, take a close look at “Longitude” by Dava Sobel. While not a new release, this fact-based, soft-cover book takes a look at how many sailors lost their lives in shipwrecks around the world back in the 1500s, 1600s and 1700s because they had no navigational tools to assist with finding longitude. It then traces the all-out competition to find a chronometer that would be seaworthy to assist sailors in their travels. It is a good read for history and sailing lovers.

Once inspired by these books, you may want to stop in to take a close look at the great watches we're offering for the holidays.

2014-12-22
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Recognized as the rarest and most precious metal on earth – platinum is intensely coveted. This shimmering white material has been used in watch designs for more than a century and in jewelry designs for even longer. Indeed, if one owns a ring or necklace passed down from a grandmother, odds are it is crafted in platinum. Same, too, with an early 1900s wrist watch. Its rarity is attested to by the fact that it is estimated that all the platinum mined in the world, to date, could fit in an average-sized living room.

Because platinum in its purest form is particularly difficult to work, it is sometimes alloyed with a tiny amount of copper to attain the flexibility needed to create a particular piece. For this reason, platinum is usually 90 to 95 percent pure – making it ever more irresistible and inviting. Due to its rarity, it is naturally quite expensive—but the personal satisfaction one gets from owning something crafted in platinum is great. We invite you in to see our selection of platinum watches – they may shine as brightly as the holiday lights and will warm the heart.

2014-12-18
Breitling Colt Quartz - Blue Dial, Steel Strap

The holidays are here and you may be searching for that last special gift – one that means a lot but doesn’t break the bank. In fact, affordable, top-quality watches are not so difficult to find thanks to top-notch manufacturing procedures and materials. Today, we bring you a few terrific timepieces to consider that retail for less than $3,000. Of course we have others, but these should help to whet your appetite and get you thinking about giving the gift of time. Stop in and check out our selection.

Breitling regularly packs a lot of bang for the buck into its watches. This Colt Quartz watch is no exception. It houses the Breitling Caliber 74 COSC-certified chronometer SuperQuartz™ movement with a battery end-of-life indicator. It also offers calendar indications and unidirectional rotating bezel. It is water resistant to 200 meters and makes the perfect sports gift.

For the auto enthusiast, TAG Heuer is the way to go. With watches that celebrate auto racing in a host of different price ranges, the TAG Heuer Formula 1 watch is the affordable Swiss choice. The iconic look of this watch comes across with bold appeal in steel with chronograph functions and a choice of dial colors, including black and white.

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From Tudor, this Heritage Ranger 41mm satin-finished steel cases houses a self-winding mechanical movement, the Tudor caliber 2824, with 38 hours of power reserve. The watch features a domed sapphire crystal and screw-down winding crown so it is water resistant to 150 meters. The vintage appeal of this watch makes it a real winner.

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From Longines, this Heritage Avigation watch is one we like. With vintage appeal, it is crafted in stainless steel and powered by a Swiss automatic movement. It is water resistant to 3 bars and offers hours, minutes, seconds, date and a 24-hour indication with time zone mechanism.

2014-12-18
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Those who know A. Lange & Sohne are aware that this German brand got to spread its wings again after the reunification of East and West Germany. It was in 1994 that the brand released its first Lange 1 watch to the world — a watch that has become an icon ever since. Thus it comes as no surprise that it is the Lange 1 — in a variety of different formats — that kicks off the brand’s 20th anniversary.

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The one we particularly appreciate is the A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst in platinum. The superb watch features a one-minute tourbillon escapement nestled into a black enamel dial, and a patented stop-seconds mechanism —all wrapped up in a 38.5mm platinum case. The  mirror-polished hour markers against the black dial make for a classically elegant appeal and complement the superbly polished tourbillon cock.

The subseconds dial — made of black solid German silver — is slightly recessed into the main dial. The craftsmanship and finishings of the caliber L961.3 manufacture-made movement are visible via a sapphire case back that lets one admire the solarized three-quarter German silver plate and the decorated mainspring barrel. The tourbillon bridges and intermediate wheel cocks are elaborately engraved in a motif that clearly belongs to A. Lange & Sohne.

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Just 20 of this piece will ever be made. While we may not have this one in the store when you stop in, we do have an incredible selection of A. Lange & Sohne complex timepieces. So if you're looking for the right watch, stop in and see us.

2014-12-15
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This Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 sold for $867,750 at last week's Antiquorum sale in NYC.

Last week’s series of luxury watch auctions by the finest auction houses, such as Christie's, Sotheby’s and Antiquorum, leave us ecstatic about the ever-increasing interest in watch collecting. All indications point to the fact that today’s watch buyer may well be purchasing not only an heirloom timepiece, but also a great investment watch. Among the standouts that sold last week and made headlines around the world were several incredible Patek Philippe timepieces (a brand we are proud to carry in our store).

At the Antiquorum “Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces” sale in New York, a Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 sold for $867,750. The extraordinary watch (lot 274) is an extremely rare Second Series with tachometer scale and Arabic indexes. Additionally, Lot 273 was another Patek Philippe, Ref. 3450, that stole attention. Circa 1984, the perpetual calendar watch with leap year display is crafted in 18-karat yellow gold. It sold for $189,750.

“Rare vintage Patek Philippe timepieces continue to command top prices at auction,” said Saori Omura, Watch Director of Antiquorum New York. “As confirmed by our December sale in New York, collectors are willing to pay a premium for unusual dials and fresh to the market pieces.”

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The Sotheby’s Important Watches sale in New York fetched $7.2 million, bringing the auction house’s worldwide watch sales to $100 million for 2014. One of the top sellers there was a highly important (possibly unique) 18-karat yellow gold open-faced Perpetual Calendar with split-seconds chronograph minute repeater with moon phases and black dial.

Ref. 658 was made in 1937, and while it was estimated to sell from $200,000 to $400,000 it actually sold for $527,000. While 15 of this watch were originally made, this is believed to be the only one with a black dial. Yes, Patek Philippe watches are definitely a good investment.

2014-12-11
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A close look at watch dials today reveals a lot. Some wear their country of origin like a badge of honor — with labels such as “Swiss” or “Swiss Made.” Sometimes, however, these labels can be misleading. Exactly what governs whether a watch can bear the words “Swiss Made” has been the subject of much debate for years in Switzerland.

Granted, at the very high end of the luxury spectrum, where most brands are fully integrated Swiss Manufactures, the concept of Swiss Made leaves nothing to interpretation or nuance. Most of these Manufactures make every component in house or rely on nearby specialists for parts (like hairsprings) that they may not be able to produce.

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However, at the more affordable level — where watch brands might buy components from one place, assemble movements in another place, purchase bracelets, cases, etc., from still other places, and then finally assemble the entire watch — many variables come into play. Let’s face it, in today’s global economy, many products we believe are made locally are often produced in China, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and other countries. While that may be fine for a phone, a computer, a motorcycle or car, it is not necessarily acceptable for fine watchmaking.

Granted, not all customers care where a watch is made; not all customers want or need a timepiece made in Switzerland. Granted, too, many great watches are made outside of Switzerland. However, watches made in Switzerland are usually more highly valued and, generally, a Swiss Made label translates into a hallmark of quality.

The words “Swiss Made” are protected trademarks for the watch industry, and are defended by the Swiss Watch Federation. To be labeled Swiss Made, a watch must contain a movement made (parts, assembly, inspection) in Switzerland and cased up in Switzerland. What's more, the manufacturer must carry out the final inspections in Switzerland. A movement is considered Swiss if it has been assembled in Switzerland, inspected by the manufacturer in Switzerland and the components of Swiss manufacture comprise at least 50 percent of the value of the movement itself.

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To the consumer, these very strict guidelines offer protection against lesser standards and act as a seal of quality. It should be noted, though, that many affordable Swiss brands source movement component parts, cases and even bracelets from Japan and Hong Kong, and several have even established their own companies overseas to not only supply these parts to the Swiss manufacture sibling, but also to ensure their quality. By doing so, these brands are able to keep the retail price of Swiss Made watches in check — yielding affordable, fine-quality Swiss timepieces.

2014-12-09
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This past weekend wrapped up a pretty significant event in Florida: Art Basel Miami 2014. Every year the event grows and more artists and luxury brands partake. This is especially true of the watch brands. A strong number of luxury watch brands choose this venue as their playground. This year was no exception. In fact, IWC Schaffhausen used the platform to not only officially unveil its Portofino midsized watch brand (which we have written about here before), but also to unveil the superb collection of approximately 60 photos that were taken by Peter Lindbergh of celebrities that are friends of the IWC brand.

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The unveiling of the photo exhibit — called Timeless Portofino — was held at the W in Miami Beach. The black and white photos selected were just a tiny portion of the thousands (21,000 photos, in fact) that Peter Lindbergh took of celebrities such as Emily Blunt, Cate Blanchett, Christoph Waltz, Ewan McGregor and Zhou Xun during a three-day weekend in Portofino where they were all —of course — wearing Portofino Midsize watches.

On hand for the press event and the evening star-studded gala were a host of celebrities, including models Adriana Lima and Karolina Kurkova, comedian Jason Alexander, actor James Marsden, and famous athletes, such as Lennox Lewis and Martina Navratilova. Following a gala dinner, guests were treated to a private afterparty with a surprise performance by singer Solange Knowles.

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“IWC is thrilled to be in Miami during such an expressive festival, celebrating the artwork of Peter Lindbergh and our new Portofino Midsize collection through our ‘Timeless Portofino’ exhibition,” said IWC CEO Georges Kern.

The event was the perfect place to showcase the photo exhibit and the intriguing new Portofino Midsize collection of watches. Stop in and see our selection of IWC timepieces any time.

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IWC CEO Georges Kern and model Karolina Kurkova

2014-12-04
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Prior to World War II, Germany had a strong and thriving watchmaking contingency. However, with the advent of the war and the subsequent division of Germany into East and West, the Glashutte and Saxony region (where watchmaking was prevalent) became part of the German Democratic Republic (aka East Germany) and top German watch brands ceased to exist.

It was not until 1990 and the reunification of East and West Germany that the Free state of Saxony was reconstituted. With the privatization in 1994 of a conglomerate that had several brands under its umbrella during the GDR, certain watch brands looked to restore their past. And, after much research, development, innovation and invention, a few brands began re-emerging on the market.

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Among them: Glashutte Original. This brand — with watches for men and women — offers classic, sporty and elegant watches, all built in Germany and based on 170 years of heritage. As the brand strives to become a fully integrated Manufacture, it continues to evolve.

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Highlights include the all-new – recently unveiled – Chronograph collection, housing the new Caliber 37 as its movement. The powerful caliber is built in the brand’s workshops and is being housed in two chronograph collections: the Senator Chronograph Panorama Date and the Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date. These all-new chronographs offer either modern day or vintage appeal depending on the line. The movement of this watch is a powerhouse. It is a fully integrated flyback chronograph with a column wheel and panoramic date indicator.

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Additionally, Glashutte Original continues to evolve its much-loved PanoMatic Series of watches, particularly the PanoMatic Inverse. This watch is a visual breath taker. In the making of this watch, Glashutte Original inverses the movement components and displays a regulator on the dial side. The newer piece — the classic yet futuristic PanoMatic Inverse — houses a fairly recently released automatic movement made by the brand in house. We invite you to stop in any time to see our fine selection of Glashutte Original watches.

2014-12-02
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There’s no denying that Rolex has a worldwide following. That may be because the brand does a lot of things right when it comes to building timepieces. From research and development to high-tech materials and paying strict attention to detail, Rolex regularly comes out on top.

This year, the brand released several important new watches that are in stores now. Among them are the Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT Master II watch. A world’s first, this timepiece features a Cerachrom bezel created in blue and red. It has been nicknamed — for obvious reasons — Pepsi. Interestingly enough, the moniker has roots in the original Rolex pieces made in the 1950s for Pan Am that had red and  black aluminum inserts, and was dubbed Pepsi, as well.

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The new Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT Master II “Pepsi” is a grand mix of aesthetics, technology and Rolex DNA. It recalls the original two-toned 1955 model, but features a dual-color monoblock ceramic bezel that was long thought impossible to create. In fact, bringing this bezel to fruition is complex and expensive. One of the main challenges comes with the heating process. In intense heating and firing, red typically loses its vibrancy. To achieve the intense red hue, Rolex engineers had to reconfigure the molecular structure of the color. Then, via a specially developed and patented manufacturing process, each grain of the chemical composition is locally modified to transition from red into blue on half of the bezel insert.The Rolex Cerachrom bezels were first introduced nearly a decade ago and have the distinction of being virtually scratch resistant, corrosion resistant and sun resistant.

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Crafted from a solid block of 18-karat white gold, the watch houses the self-winding Caliber 3186 Superlative Chronometer and offers second time zone function and date display. The COSC-certified chronometer features an oscillator with a blue Parchrom hairspring that is patented by Rolex and built from an alloy of niobium and zirconium that makes it insensitive to magnetic fields. The 40mm watch is water resistant to 330 feet. For a "Pepsi," it sure packs a punch.