Wempe Watch Blog

Wempe Watch Blog
2015-03-31
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BaselWorld, the largest international watch and jewelry exhibition on the planet, has come to a close. This year, BaselWorld 2015, saw the unveiling of a host of incredible new watches in every price segment and across all watch categories.

Many of the watch brands we carry were there to show their newest innovations — in some cases, watches that were years in the making. While most of these timepieces won’t make their way to stores until late summer and fall, they are exciting to talk about and show. And in the coming week, we will bring a few of the new unveilings to light.

Meanwhile, we want to highlight a few of the top trends seen in BaselWorld that will dictate what’s on the wrist in the coming year. Here's Part 1 of our two-part report.

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Color It Blue

Watches this year continue to sport some exciting colors for both men and women. First and foremost is blue. Practically every watch brand in Basel — from the small to the large — had blue-dialed watches in its stable for both men and women. We saw dark and royal blues for either gender, as well as a pale sky blue for women. Green also comes on strong this year in a host of shades that run the gamut from muted army green to rich grass green. For women, violet, purple, lavender and pink steal the limelight — complementing the host of muted hues of taupe, tan, gray and white.

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Open-Worked Elegance

Skeleton watches — where the majority of the watch components are carved away to reveal a multi-dimensional interplay of gears, wheels and other parts — are all the rage this year. Additionally, watches with apertures to show a part of the movement, and watches with their mainplates showing through instead of having a dial are also making a big splash on the scene — in timepieces from a few thousand dollars on up to $1 million. Skeletonizing a watch is no easy feat. Some watch brands do it using machined parts cut as tiny as possible; others at the luxury end of the market do it by hand — finishing and engraving every single visible and non-visible part. In both cases, the result is an intriguing look inside the workings of the watch.

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Sports Savvy

Sports watches continue to be important, as well, with more brands delivering unusual chronograph renditions across the board. Within the sport watch category the three most prevalent themes are watches inspired by cars (most with chronographs and tachymeter bezels), watches designed to weather the elements of dive and water sports, and pilot watches – often with additional features built in.

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Look for Part 2 of this report later this week...

2015-03-26
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Clocks have been around for centuries longer than wristwatches. First developed as the primary way to tell time, clocks evolved over the centuries to become novelty items — artistically interpreted in enamel works or adorned with gemstones for personal pleasure. While the first clocks were born as tower clocks in Medieval Europe, they evolved into astronomical indications, automaton clocks with mechanical moving figures and — eventually — decorative items for the home.

A tour through almost any historical castle, palace or high-society home will reveal at least one, if not more, mantle clocks, table clocks and even standing long case clocks. Planning a spring visit to Paris? If you plan to tour the Palace of Versailles and the Petit Trianon (Marie Antoinette’s summer home), you may want to keep your eyes open for certain specialty pieces.

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Passemant Astronomical Clock 

Louis XIV (who considered himself a keeper of the arts) was urged by Jean-Baptiste Colbert to engage in scientific research, and in 1666 Colbert founded the Academy of Science that brought together science and government. Philosophers, artists, engineers, physicists and more gathered to discuss theories and experiments. Even botanists and zoologists came together to study the many animals housed on the grounds.

LeRoy Cupid clock

LeRoy Cupid clock

Louis XV was particularly fond of geography and astronomy and set up scientific labs that remained in place until the French Revolution. It was under Louis XV that many of the fine clocks in the palace were secured. Among them was the Passemant astronomical clock. Designed in the 18th century by Claude-Simeon Passemant, the clock is amazingly ahead of its counterparts of the day. It was by this clock that — for the first time ever — the official time in France was set. The outer design of the nearly six-and-a-half-foot-tall clock is a fine example of rococo-style art. The clock displays the date, time, phases of the moon and planetary motion within the sphere. The astronomical dial indicates the rising and setting of the sun and moon — with Earth depicted as a bronze globe among gilt rocks and waterfalls. Also to be found in the palace are clocks by LeRoy, Robin and de Sotian — all respected clock makers of their day.

Robin clock

Robin clock

2015-03-24

We have gotten a lot of questions from customers about why rubies are used inside watches as part of the watch movement, so we thought it was high-time we address the issue. Essentially, when a mechanical watch movement is said to have a certain number of jewels in its composition, those jewels are predominantly synthetic rubies created especially for watch movements and used as bearings to reduce friction.

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Being strong and hard, they help to ease friction, and thereby, wear and tear amongst the mechanical parts. The advantages of jewel bearings include accuracy, small size and weight, predictable friction, good temperature stability, and the ability to operate over the course of decades, as they don’t break down.

These rubies are synthetically developed utilizing aluminum and chromium oxide that undergoes a series of heating, fusing and crystallizing processes. Because the material is mass-produced, it does not have the extremely high intrinsic value of natural rubies. The number of rubies used in a mechanical watch varies depending on the complexity of the movement. The more moving parts there are, the more rubies are used. A typical fully jeweled time-only watch has 17 jewels, but some watches can utilize many more.

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Setting the minuscule rubies into the designated movement holes is a tedious task, done using tweezers and microscopes. When a mechanical watch offers a skeleton movement, or has a transparent sapphire caseback for viewing the movement, the rubies are an entrancing portion of the design. Today, some top luxury brands are utilizing silicium parts to reduce friction, as well as reduce the need for too-frequent servicing of watches.

2015-03-19

Called BaselWorld, the Swiss watch fair that runs for an entire week in Basel, Switzerland, is not only the most important watch exhibition of the year, but also the most intense. In reality, the show is a marathon eight-day test of endurance and memory.

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As for the show itself, BaselWorld pictures just don’t do it justice. The sheer magnitude of watch and jewelry halls that tower several stories high, and span the length of dozens of city blocks is mind boggling from the outside, as well as from the inside.

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The “booths” are exhibition spaces that in some instances are several floors tall. And, by the way, in most cases the Americans get the top floor or penthouse for their meetings – meaning we climb up and down three flights of stairs multiple times a day just to start our watch reviews. These massive exhibition spaces are accented with such accessories as vintage cars, motorcycles, custom watch cabinets, and even museum displays.

But the real beauty of the show is the incredible unveiling of thousands upon thousands of timepieces. From fashion and sports watches to classic and complicated timepieces, this fair is a veritable candy shop for watch lovers. This year’s fair officially opens its doors on Thursday, March 19, and closes them on Thursday, March 26. As soon as it is over, we will bring you news of the hottest new timepieces from the brands we carry.

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2015-03-17
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Today is St. Patrick's Day — a day that celebrates one of Ireland's most noted saints. As such, most of the Irish, and a lot of non-Irish folks, wear green to celebrate. Lucky for men and women with any sized budget, there is a green watch out there to time your festivities and to have others green with envy. In fact, these bold watches are offered in a host of versions for men and women, and are created in all hues of green.

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Stop in to check out our selection of green watches in all price ranges, and get your green on.

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Les Indomptables de Cartier watch

2015-03-12

For those who really love high-end luxury watches, you know how meticulously watch brands work to finish not only the watch case and dial — seen by all, but also the movement parts — rarely seen by anyone. It is because they take as much pride in what is under the hood, so to speak, as what is on the outside. Generally, a host of different finishes are used on timepiece components (which we will cover in ensuing articles); but for now, we want to focus on the design that is known as Cotes de Genève striped  finishing.

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This motif is also sometimes referred to as Genève stripes or rayonnantes, depending on the brand. This is the most well known finishing on movements. It is a pattern etched on the smooth surfaces of the watch baseplate or other parts that — at first glance — resembles stripes. Indeed, the pattern is a series of stripes, but it is made by intricately engraving tiny, angled scratches in a systematic manner onto the smooth highly polished metal surface.

Generally, this motif is made using a special lathe that moves in a parallel motion, while a carving tool spins on to trace the finely brushed pattern. At the haute horology level, sometimes these inscriptions are done by hand on the lathe. The tiny scratches actually catch and reflect the light. There is also a circular Cotes de Genève motif, achieved using a similar technique.

2015-03-10

What exactly is a NATO strap? We get that question a lot from customers because it is an odd reference. Essentially, a NATO strap is a military-style single strap that can be slipped through the watch lugs (the portion of the watch case that enables the strap to be attached at either side) and looped under the caseback.

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Generally watch straps have two sides that close at the buckle. The NATO strap is a single piece of nylon, canvas or leather (sometimes other materials, as well) that is rugged and can be removed from the watchcase easily, and be cleaned or replaced. These straps close via traditional hole-and-pin style buckles, so there is no worry about deployment clasp breakage. In the military field, nylon straps are used because they are inexpensive and durable, and served a purpose — you don’t need to worry about one side or the other breaking.

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These one-piece military straps were first used in both America and Britain during World War II, when they were standard issue for a wristwatch. (The British Royal Air Force even referred to the straps as RAF straps.) Today, NATO straps are generally boldly colored, and often have stripes with a military-inspired motif. Camo-colored straps are also popular for NATO straps. Sometimes these looks are even offered as two-piece straps, but those are not the true NATO style. While some people may think NATO straps come up short style-wise, others think they offer the perfect vintage and sporty appeal. It is all in the eye of the beholder, but keep in a mind, a new strap can transform your watch.

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2015-03-05

At 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 8 (or before you go to bed on Saturday night), remember to turn your clocks forward by one hour — for Daylight Saving Time adjustments. In fact, Daylight Saving Time begins on the second Sunday in March in America and continues until fall. Interestingly, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and most of Arizona don’t participate in DST, but for the rest of us, this is the “spring ahead” weekend.

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The reason we practice or implement Daylight Saving Time is somewhat obscure. Some say it is practiced in an effort to save energy, but that argument has been called into question. Nonetheless, here’s a little insight into the history of DST for true time junkies.

Some credit the concept to American politician and inventor Benjamin Franklin, who, in a 1784 essay entitled "An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light," suggested people get out of bed earlier in the morning to use the light instead of candles. More than a century later, in 1895, a New Zealand entomologist, George Vernon Hudson, wanted more daylight time for his studies, so he presented a report to the Wellington Philosophical Society proposing a two-hour daylight savings time program.

Though the concept wasn’t embraced internationally, it laid the groundwork. A decade later, in 1905, British builder William Willett proposed the idea of DST, suggesting setting clocks ahead in April and switching them back in September. His idea caught the attention of Robert Pearce, who introduced a bill to the House of Commons in 1908. The concept was opposed by farmers in England and did not pass, but it laid more groundwork. In 1916, Germany was the first country to implement DST and several countries followed suit, including America.

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In the United States after World War II, states could select if they wanted to impose DST and on which dates. However, mass confusion caused Congress to establish the Uniform Time Act in 1966, which set a protocol for DST times/dates. Still, some U.S. states/territories don’t participate, and argue the usefulness of it.  As part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the length of DST in America was extended by four weeks, starting in 2007. Additionally, while it is recognized around the world, not all countries practice DST, and those that do, do so on different dates.

At any rate, here we are in the “Spring Ahead” portion of the “Spring Forward, Fall Back” DST concept. So don’t forget to change your clocks and your watches. Sorry, it means you will lose an hour of sleep.

2015-03-04
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In January at the SIHH exhibition in Geneva, we got to witness first hand the redefined Classima line from Baume & Mercier. This collection has always been popular, but now the brand has revamped it – adding important details that make it stand out in a crowd.

The new collection offers men’s and women’s Classima timepieces. The men’s watches are now in a smaller sized 40mm case (the previous Classima line was 42mm), and features versions, such as the Classima Automatic three hands with date in steel, steel and gold and with a variety of straps. One of the impressive elements of this new piece is the elegant pin striped dial design that offers chic appeal.

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Additionally, the new women’s watches are offered in both automatic and quartz, in a 36.5mm size, with bright new dials and straps that include violet and blue. The revamping of the line took two years to complete and was well worth the wait. We invite you in any time to see our complete line of Baume & Mercier timepieces.

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2015-03-03
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This past weekend, actor Leonard Nemoy, who famously played Mr. Spock on Star Trek, passed away. Star Trek lovers know that Spock, the science engineer aboard the USS Enterprise, was a lover of music and space. To our knowledge, he didn’t wear a watch other the one that “beamed him up,” but if he did, we think he would have chosen the recently unveiled (at SIHH 2015) Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication.

The complex timepiece is equipped with the caliber 945 – chock-full of 527 parts and a host of features and functions. Top among those assets: a flying tourbillon, which rotates around the dial displaying the solar time, equation of time, minute repeater that chimes the hours, quarter hours and minutes, and a celestial sky chart depicting the constellations as seen from the Northern Hemisphere.

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The 18-karat rose gold beauty also offers the zodiac constellations on the dial, and indicates the most up-to-date zodiac phase. The 40 mm watch offers 40 hours of power reserve. Between the Equation of time, the sky chart and the audio musical aspect, this watch is a perfect match for Spock or for any watch lover of Grande Complications.