Wempe Watch Blog

Wempe Watch Blog
2015-02-26
Photo (C) Jacques-Louis David

Napolean photo © Jacques-Louis David.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the famed Battle of Waterloo, which took place in 1815 in what is today Belgium. In that battle, French commander Napoleon — one of the greatest military masterminds of all time — was defeated by the armies of the Seventh Coalition, which was led by the Duke of Wellington and Gebhard von Blucher. (The Seventh Coalition was a group of Anglo and Prussian states that banned together to oppose Napoleon). The defeat at Waterloo ended Napoleon’s reign as Emperor of France.

Nonetheless, Napoleon Bonaparte was both a feared and revered leader for two decades in France. During that time, he amassed great wealth and had a love of all things beautiful, including furniture, jewelry, silverware and watches. He and his first wife, Josephine, were renowned for always displaying the newest and finest uniforms and gowns, weaponry and tableware, books and gems.

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Abraham-Louis BRÉGUET Swiss 1747–1823 Touch watch belonging to Jérôme Bonaparte, King of Westphalia 1809

Among the watches believed to have been worn by Napoleon, his family or his wife — and can be viewed in museums today — is an impressive Breguet pocket watch. The watch is said to have belonged to Napoleon’s youngest brother, Jerome, and is encrusted in diamonds to indicate the hour, and pearls for the half-hour. An ornate arrow on the outer case turns to indicate time without the wearer needing to open the case. He also had a good number of objects of art from other known brands, including snuff boxes, bird singing boxes and more.

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Young woman and child next to an urn marked Remembrance, automaton watch (c. 1810)

It is interesting to note that Sean Bean, the Games of Thrones actor, recently put together a special two-hour documentary on the Battle of Waterloo for History (formerly The History Channel). The show will air on the 200th anniversary of the battle in June 2015. Bean, who also recently starred in Sharpe as a fictional British soldier in the Napoleonic Wars, worked with a team of soldiers and experts in testing the weapons of the history battle.

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Joseph COTEAU (enameller) French 1740–1801 Skeleton clock c.1793-95 gilt and enamel, bronze, marble

(All product photos courtesy of Foundation of Napoleon.)

2015-02-24
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This past weekend, the Daytona 500 took place in Daytona Beach, FL, though certain favorites didn’t make it to the final run, including Kyle Busch, who broke a leg and foot in a hard crash during the Xfinity Series race on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Nonetheless, the race was exciting – with Joey Logano speeding to victory in the 57th Great American Race. Logano is the youngest winner in the history of the Daytona 500 at just 24 years old.

All of the excitement with this race, and others coming into the season, reminds us of the precision mechanics it requires to build these performance engines and the patience and fortitude of the drivers. It is a field not unlike the world of precision mechanics under the hood of a watchcase.

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In fact, as more watch brands recognize the synergy between precision mechanics of timepieces and automobiles, they are getting more involved in the world of motorsports. From actually taking title roles as Official Timer of certain races to sponsoring teams, drivers and rallies around the world, watch brands are on top of the fast-paced world of automobiles.

Rolex, for instance, has been intimately involved in auto racing since 1935, and solidified its position in the sport in 1959 when it began its association with the Daytona International Speedway. The brand continues to sponsor the Rolex Daytona races, as well as the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion every year in August, among other automotive activities. The brand’s iconic Daytona watch is the one most associated with automotive sports.

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Similarly, Tudor is the Entitlement Sponsor of Tudor United Sportscar Championship races. This series combines two previously separate races — the American Le Mans Series and Grand Am Road Racing — under one umbrella managed by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA). The TUDOR Grantour Chrono Fly-Back watch has a strong tie with the world of auto racing, as it allows consecutive time intervals to be measured rapidly via the on-the-fly chronograph reset and instant restart function.

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TAG Heuer has long been involved in the world of auto racing – dating back to the Pan-American races. The brand is actively involved in the fully electric FIA Formula E Championship, World Rally (with Sebastien Ogier joining as a brand ambassador), is the Official Watch Partner of Nissan NISMO, and sponsors the TAG Heuer Premier Motor Racing Exhibition, which kicked off in Kuala Lumpur in January. The brand creates both the Monaco and Carrera watch lines that honor this sport and that have become renowned around the world for their race-inspired design and top-quality craftsmanship.

We are proud to carry these brands and others with auto-inspired themes. Stop in any time to see them.

2015-02-19
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Today marks the start of the Chinese New Year. In celebration, some top watch brands demonstrate their artistic expertise in horology by unveiling stunning watches dedicated to this Year of the Goat — the eighth symbol in the Chinese Zodiac.

Vacheron Constantin, for instance, continues its Métiers d’Arts Legend of the Chinese Zodiac collection with the unveiling of two new "Year of the Goat" watches. Offered in either pink gold or platinum (just 12 of each), the Métiers d’Arts watch features a stunning goat in the dial center, surrounded by a leaf motif etched directly in the metal. The goat is created in gold and worked in relief so that the hairs on the goat's coat are less than a millimeter thick.

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Following the sculpting of gold, the watch dial is individually enameled using the Grand Feu technique — applying layer after layer of enamel to achieve the desired effect. Making the watch even more special is the fact that it is a hands-free timepiece. The hours, minutes, day and date are seen via apertures on the dial. It is powered by the Caliber 2460 G4 mechanical movement and holds the Hallmark of Geneva certification.

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Also a master at the decorative arts, Chopard releases its L.U.C XP Year of the Goat Watch. This masterpiece — which celebrates the goat in a festive motif — is created using the ancient art of Urushi,  an ancestral Japanese decorative art. The “paint” is actually a varnish of sap derived from the Urushi tree. The resin can only be harvested once annually. Once the dial is painted, the artists turn to the Maki-e technique, in which the lacquer is sprinkled with gold dust. The watch is powered by the L.U.C Caliber 96.17-L, which is an ultra-thin movement with two barrels to offer 65 hours of power reserve.

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2015-02-16

Over the years, the Presidents occupying the White House have worn a good number of watch brands. In honor of President’s Day, we bring a closer look at how time was kept in the Oval Office.

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Our first president, George Washington, owned a Jean-Antoine Lepine pocket watch during his presidency. A friend traveling abroad in the late 1770s reportedly purchased the watch at Washington’s request. Thomas Jefferson, our third president, owned a pocket watch made by Paris-based watchmaker, Daniel Vaucher. Vaucher was known for his precision watchmaking and excellent finishing.

George Washington wore a pocket watch by Lepine. Photo courtesy NAWCC

George Washington wore a pocket watch by Lepine. Photo courtesy NAWCC.

Moving fully into the 20th century, our 33rd president, Harry Truman, owned several wristwatches, including a Vulcain Cricket alarm watch, which had gained in popularity in the 1940s. He also owned a Universal Genève Tri-Compax watch in 18-karat yellow gold.

Subsequent presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower (34th) and John F. Kennedy (35th) also owned multiple wristwatches. Eisenhower had a Vulcain Cricket, a Hamilton, a Rolex Datejust and a Heuer. His likeness was even used in a Heuer ad. Kennedy owned a Cartier, an Omega, an interesting Bulova tonneau-shaped watch, and was reportedly gifted a Rolex watch by Marilyn Monroe, which he immediately gave away and never wore.

Universal Geneve Tri-Compax watch. Photo from Antiquorum

Universal Geneve Tri-Compax watch. Photo from Antiquorum.

Taking a more affordable watch stance, our 42nd president, Bill Clinton, was seen wearing a Timex Ironman watch, but has since been seen wearing a multitude of different watches, including a Rolex, Panerai and Jaeger-LeCoultre. President Barack Obama (44th) has been seen wearing a Jorg Gray 6500 Collection Chronograph that apparently has been inscribed on the caseback of the watch.

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 Images: Oval Office via Wikicommons. 

2015-02-12
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Valentine’s Day is the ultimate romantic rendezvous. So, then, why do so many people give chocolate? Skip the chocolate and dazzle your loved one with a rich, red-hot watch that will remind her of you with every glance at her wrist. Our sure-fire recommendation is short and sweet: Give the gift of time.

Some great watch options for Valentine’s Day:

- Red watches and those with love or heart motifs;
- Floral motifs always win the heart over;
- Moon and star motifs – because nothing is more romantic than stargazing.

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Stop in and let us help you select the perfect watch for her this Valentine’s Day. We have a great selection in all price ranges.

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2015-02-10

Long involved in the world of automobile racing, rallies and even auto-inspired movies, TAG Heuer propels this DNA to new heights with the news that the brand has become the Official Timekeeper and Official Watch Partner of Nissan NISMO — just in time for the LeMans 24 and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

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With a tag line of "Don’t Crack Under Pressure,” TAG Heuer is all about endurance, strength and precision. The brand made the bold move of announcing the relationship on Super Bowl Sunday, when Nissan used a commercial to unveil its new GT-R LM NISMO (Nissan Motorsport International Limited) car that will race in the WEC. While the red car sped across TV screens, TAG Heuer’s logos were highly visible on the car and driver overalls.

Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of TAG Heuer and President of the Watch division of LVMH group, says this alliance drives home the brand’s commitment to motor sports: “TAG Heuer’s legitimate ties to endurance races in motor sports are without rival. I wanted an innovating partner to come back on these tracks. Nissan NISMO is the perfect challenger, a pioneer regarding the technology of the car and regarding its way to communicate specifically with the young through their massive presence on social media.”

The new Nissan GT-R LM NISMO testing in preparation for its 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship and Le Mans 24 Hours debut.

Indeed, the Nissan NISMO is packed with key technological innovations, including a front-engine, front-wheel-drive car powered by a V6 3-litre twin turbo petrol engine and a kinetic energy recovery system.

TAG Heuer will serve as the official timekeeper and watch for Nissan NISMO. The watch of choice: the Monaco Chronograph. The drivers wear a Monaco chronograph, a tribute to Steve McQueen, and to the legendary movie, Le Mans, wherein the blue-eyed icon was wearing the blue-squared Monaco chronograph. Stop in and see our wonderful collection of TAG Heuer watches.

2015-02-05
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With so much focus on mechanical watches, you've probably heard the term “power reserve.” But what does power reserve really mean and how do watch companies make it happen? Essentially, the power reserve indicates the amount of time the movement can dispense constant energy (the autonomy) before the watch needs to be wound.

Most mechanical watches offer a power reserve of several days on up to eight days (though some brands offer even more than 8 days). Eight days was the target time, as this means the owner of a mechanical hand-wound watch can plan to wind the timepiece once a week (with a single day of safety for the forgetful winder). Of course, should the power run all the way down, the owner can naturally wind it again, but then has to go through the task of resetting the time, date, etc.

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Accomplishing longer power-reserve durations is all about proper springs, gears and cylinders. Essentially, a spring is tightly wound and then placed inside a cylinder. This is where the energy is stored. The spring should release its tension in a consistent manner, offering constant energy to power the watch at a regular rate. Longer reserves mean the caliber has to be larger to make room for a larger mainspring and cylinder, which sometimes translates into a slightly larger watch size.

Two things are worth noting here. One is that winding that spring and placing it into the cylinder is no easy feat. It takes months of training just to properly wind the spring, place it in the cylinder and adjust it so that the force is constant. Additionally, it should be noted that all of these incredible mechanics take place inside a movement that is usually no bigger than the size of a half-dollar coin.

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Most contemporary hand-wound watches feature a power-reserve indicator on the dial. This indicator displays how much energy is left in the movement before it needs to be wound. Some watch brands have made amazing strides in offering creative power-reserve indicators that go above and beyond an arc display on the dial. Either way, the power reserve offers, in a sense, a true symbiotic relationship between the person and the hand-wound watch. The timepiece needs to be wound to continue tracking time, and the wearer has the distinct pleasure of breathing life, so to speak, back into the watch.

Our knowledgeable staff would be happy to demonstrate the power-reserve indications on some of our hand-wound watches. Just stop in any time.

2015-02-03

Purchasing a luxury watch can be an exciting time — whether it’s your first watch or your fifth watch. Once home, however, you will need to properly take care of your watch to give it a longer and healthier lifespan. While all watches need regular professional servicing, following these few tips can help you get the most from your new investment.

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1. Clean It. Everything you do while wearing your watch causes it to come into contact with dirt, dust, perspiration and even a few splashes of water while washing your hands or doing the dishes. The best thing you can do for your watch is a simple cleaning. When you take it off at the end of each day, wipe it down using a soft cloth to remove grime. If your watch has a metal bracelet, you can use a soft cloth and warm water to clean it, but be careful not to get too much water near the case. Even if you have a water-resistant watch, it's best to clean it after swimming, as chlorine and salt can be abrasive. Also note that leather straps may require special care and cleaning.

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2. Know the Basics of Winding. If you own a mechanical watch it is important to follow the brand’s instructions about when and when not to wind it, and in which direction. Some complex watches cannot be wound at certain hours, when the mechanics inside are making their own calculations and adjustments. It is also important to remember when setting the watch to move the hands in a clockwise direction instead of counter clockwise.

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3. Have it Serviced. As mentioned above, mechanical watches require regular servicing — just like a car. The gears and wheels must be oiled, and that oil can dry out over time. The watch needs to be carefully opened, examined, re-oiled, cleaned, have new gaskets put in to replace old gaskets and be retested for water resistance. Most brands suggest this be done every five to seven years.