Wempe Watch Blog

Wempe Watch Blog
2015-09-29

Looking to own a piece of history? You may want to take a look at the Antiquorum “Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces” auction, which is being held tomorrow, September 30, in New York City. Bidding can be done online if you pre-register. The auction features an incredible selection of timepieces for men and women.

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Highlights include several Corum coin watches commemorating, among others, U.S. presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. The Corum President Lyndon Johnson Inauguration Watch is expected to fetch between $5,000 and $8,000. Corum produced in only two pieces: one given to President Johnson and the other carefully preserved and now presented for sale. Made in the 1960s, this is rare, thin yellow gold wristwatch with a bas-relief of Lyndon Johnson on the case back. Lyndon B. Johnson “LBJ” was the 36th President of the United States, succeeding John F. Kennedy following his assassination in November 1963.

Are you more of a sports enthusiast? There are some pieces up for sale that were made by Richard Mille in collaboration with tennis great Rafael Nadel and one made with Olympic medalist Yohan Blake. Expected to sell for between $360,000 and $460,000, the Richard Mille RM 59-01 Yohan Blake Tourbillon Skeleton Composite, No. 40/50 is a very fine and unusual tonneau-shaped and curved asymmetric, skeletonized composite wristwatch with visible one-minute tourbillon regulator and 42-hour power reserve.

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Yohan Blake, nicknamed “The Beast,” is a medal-winning Olympic sprinter. He won a gold medal in the 100m at the 2011 world championships making him the youngest 100m world champion ever. He also won silver medals in the 2012 London Olympic Games in the 100m and 200m races for the Jamaican team. The RM 059 was developed in collaboration with Blake, and just 50 pieces were made and released in 2014.

Looking for a little glitz and glamour? This auction offers some dazzling diamond-and-gemstone watches. Among the highlights:  Chopard Ref. 4240 Imperiale White Gold diamond & Sapphire Watch (Est: $200,000 -$300,000), a Breguet Ref 5238 Skeleton Chronograph White Gold & Diamonds (Est: $120,000 – 220,000), and a stunning Rolex with a turquoise dial.

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The Ref. 1803 Turquoise Stella dial with diamond indexes is an 18-karat yellow gold Oyster Perpetual, day-date, superlative chronometer officially certified. Made in 1974, it is a fine and very rare self-winding piece with center seconds, yellow gold bracelet, and white gold bezel set with 44 round diamonds.

2015-09-24
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Before we delve into the superlative new Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260 — the world's most complicated watch — we need to tell you one thing right up front: This watch is sold. It was sold before it was even made. That's because the watch was the result of a special order from a collector who commissioned the brand to build the most complicated watch of the 21st century.

Vacheron Constantin, which has always created special timepieces for clients, rose to the occasion — putting a team of three master watchmakers onto the job. That was eight years ago. Indeed, the newest most complicated watch in the world took eight years to build. It boasts 57 complications and houses more than 2,800 movement parts.

The watch was unveiled in Geneva recently at the brand's 260th anniversary celebrations. It represents a huge effort in advanced technology and human ability. Several of the complications — including the Hebraic Perpetual Calendar — have never before been built into a wristwatch.

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But this ability harkens back a century ago to when Vacheron Constantin was breaking world records as it vied  for the most complicated watch title. Vacheron Constantin built a legendary watch for James Ward Packard, who, in the 1920s and 1930s, had a healthy competition going with Henry Graves, as each sought out the most complicated watch. That rivalry resulted in some of the most famous — and complicated — watches of all times, built by Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe.

The new watch is made for the current century — with incredible technical solutions to existing complications and with new complications, including a spherical tourbillon, astronomical sky chart, multiple different types of calendars and Westminster chimes.

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The double sided Reference 57260 is cased in a white gold, 960-gram, nearly 100mm case and is a force to be reckoned with. It boasts more than 30 hands to indicate its multiple functions, which we list for you, below.

Time Functions:
  • Regulator-type hours, minutes and seconds for solar meantime
  • Visible spherical armillary tourbillon regulator with spherical balance spring
  • Three-axis tourbillon
  • 12-hour second time zone hours and minutes
  • Indication for 24 world cities for world-time
  • Day and night indication for the 12-hour world-time
Perpetual Calendar Functions
  • Gregorian perpetual calendar
  • Gregorian days of the week
  • Gregorian months
  • Gregorian retrograde date
  • Leap-year indication and four year cycle
  • Number of the day of the week (ISO 8601 calendar)
  • Indication for the number of the week within the year (ISO 8601)
Hebraic Perpetual Calendar
  • Hebraic perpetual calendar with 19-year cycle
  • Hebrew name of the day
  • Hebrew name of the month
  • Hebrew date indication
  • Hebrew secular calendar
  • Hebrew century, decade and year
  • Indication for the number of months in the Hebraic calendar year (12 or 13 months)
  • Indication for the Golden Number with 19-year cycle
Functions of the Astronomic Calendar
  • Indications for the seasons, equinoxes, solstices and signs of the Zodiac with “sun” hand
  • The sky chart
  • Sidereal time hours
  • Sidereal time minutes
  • Hours of sunrise
  • Hours of sunset
  • Equation of time
  • Length of the day
  • Length of the night
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  • Phases and age of the moon, one correction every 1027 years
Religious Calendar Function
  • Indication for the date of Yom Kippur
  • Functions of the 3-Column Wheel Chronograph
  • Retrograde fifths of a second chronograph – 1 column wheel
  • Retrograde fifths of a second Rattrapante chronograph, 1 column wheel
  • 12-hour counter – 1 column wheel
  • 60-minute counter
Alarm Functions
  • Alarm with single gong and hammer striking
  • Alarm strike / silence indicator
  • Choice of normal alarm or carillon striking alarm indicator
  • Alarm mechanism coupled to the carillon striking mechanism
  • Alarm striking with choice of grande or petite sonnerie
  • Alarm power-reserve indication
  • Westminster Carillon Striking Functions
  • Carillon Westminster chiming with 5 gongs and 5 hammers
  • Grande sonnerie passing strike
  • Petite sonnerie passing strike
  • Minute repeating
  • Night silence feature
  • System to disengage the striking barrel when fully wound
  • Indication for grande or petite sonnerie modes
  • Indication for silence / striking / night modes
Further functions
  • Power-reserve indication for the going train
  • Power-reserve indication for the striking train
  • Winding crown position indicator
  • Locking mechanism for the striking
  • Winding system for the double barrels
  • Hand-setting system with two positions and two directions
  • Concealed flush-fit winding crown for the alarm mechanism
2015-09-22
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Any plans to head to The Golden Gate City? If so, here's some great news. Breguet has opened the largest historical exhibition of its timepieces ever to be seen in America — at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The exhibit opened on the 19th and will run into January 2016.

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The exhibit will takes place at the stunning California Palace of the Legion of Honor and consists of top timepieces, including clocks, pocket watches and objects of art. Special emphasis is placed on the areas in which Breguet excelled — innovation and art.

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Abraham-Louis Breguet is widely considered one of the greatest watchmakers of all time. Born in Neuchâtel in 1747, he set up his own business in Paris in 1775, where he revolutionized horology on both technical and aesthetic levels. He succeeded in making himself known in many countries and cultivated ties with the greatest personalities of his era.

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The exhibition aims to deal with Breguet’s lifework by themes, ranging from the simplest watches (models with a single hand) to the most complicated (those providing multiple indications), and from purely scientific objects (marine chronometers) to exquisitely refined decorative clocks (such as those with bronzes by Thomire).

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Each theme and each invention is explained in the most easily understandable way. Visitors will be able to grasp the meaning of a so-called pepétuelle watch, a “tourbillon” regulator, a subscription watch, a tact watch, a minute repeater watch, and more.

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2015-09-17
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Earlier in the week we discussed how so many top watch brands are pulling out all the stops when it comes to decorating watch dials as objects of art. Cartier — a brand we are proud to carry — is one of the masters at bringing Metiers d'Arts to the forefront.

Over the past few years, Cartier dials have incorporated wood marquetry, mosaics, enamel work, sculptural work on abalone, engraving and even gem-adorned dimensional animals that could be added to the watch dial or worn separately as a brooch.

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Additionally, the brand does not discriminate — creating artistic wonders for both men and women. Here we bring you a pictorial of some of the finest works of art from Cartier.

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2015-09-15

Over the past decade, the watch industry has witnessed incredible growth in the concept of presenting the dial as art. A canvas of sorts, this space — tinier than two inches in diameter — has become a home for artists to reinterpret techniques and timeless themes.

Much of this is not new, but rather is a new interpretation of old techniques and arts, such as hand painting, sculpting, gold working, straw weaving and mosaics. In an article on a Swiss watch website, veteran watch journalist Roberta Naas said, "If we lived in the age of the Renaissance, many a timepiece dial would hang on the walls of the Louvre."

This may well be true. Top watch brands (and the artisans they work with) are vying to find the most creative mediums to transform the watch dial into a work of art — a rare and poignant rendition of geometrics, florals, animals and other scenes that steal our hearts.

Indeed, it seems that as more brands explore the unexplored and as more brands look to the past for visionary inspiration, we will see incredible newness in this nearly 500-year-old mechanical watch world. Check back in the coming days as we bring you a look at some of the stunning dials on timepieces we carry in our store.

2015-09-10
Ana Ivanovic (photo courtesy Rolex)

Ana Ivanovic (photo courtesy Rolex)

Earlier this week we discussed what it means for a watch to be shock resistant. That concept is being played out in the heat of competition this week at the US Open Tennis Championships in New York, as certain famed players are wearing top watch brands on and off the court.

Rolex has been involved in tennis since 1978, when the brand became the Official Timekeeper of the Championships at Wimbledon. It has continued to support the sport and its players, with a host of brand ambassadors on its roster. Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniack and Serbian tennis star Ana Ivanovic (both of whom were out early in the Open) each have been seen wearing the Rolex COSC-certified chronometer Datejust — a signature timepiece for the brand with emblematic date window and magnifying lens. Rolex equips its watches with its own shock resistant system — making these watches the perfect partner on the courts.

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Top player and grand-slam collector Roger Federer (who goes to the quarter finals this week) is also a Rolex brand ambassador and all eyes will be on him and his watch during this all-important tournament. Other Rolex brand ambassadors involved in tennis include Li Na, Justine Henin, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Grigor Dimitrov — and you can follow some of them this week at the Open.

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Stan Wawrinka and Serena Williams (photo courtesy Audemars Piguet)

Over at Audemars Piguet, the brand has several tennis ambassadors on board. Serena Williams, who recently took the Wimbledon Singles, wears the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore watch. She has been spotted in both the white rubber, diamond-set rose gold watch and a black Royal Oak Offshore diamond-set watch.

Recently, she was also wearing the new Audemars Piguet Millenary watch – a stunning work of art and mechanics. This week at the Open she goes for her fourth title of the year. Also on the courts at the Open and playing a super-strong game this year, Audemars Piguet brand ambassador Stan Wawrinka — Stan the Man — is working toward that great win and wearing a Royal Oak Offshore.

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TAG Heuer brand ambassador, tennis great Maria Sharapova saddened her fans at the US Open this past week when she pulled out of the event just before it started – because of an injury. The 28-year-old Russian player suffered a knee injury and has not played since Wimbledon. She was hoping to be ready this week, when she would have matched up against Daria Gavrilova.

Sharapova (one of the highest paid female athletes) is a TAG Heuer ambassador and wears a TAG Heuer on her wrist. In fact, she has been a brand ambassador for TAG Heuer for years and the two are teaming up for a big event at the UCLA Tennis Center in Los Angeles in December. But, back to the US Open, Sharapova has been spotted in the Formula 1 Steel and ceramic watch with diamond pavé center dial and diamond bezel (approximate retail: $5,300). She has also been seeing wearing the Aquaracer and, in the brand’s “Don’t Crack Under Pressure” ad campaign, the Carrera.

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Sharapova has been playing tennis since she was six years old. She won her first Juniors at age 13 and won at 17 at Wimbledon. She skyrocketed not only in the world of tennis but also in the world of celebrities. By age 18 she was the #1 player in the world and became a US Open Champion at 19. She exemplifies passion, persistence, and pursuit of excellence — values TAG Heuer shares with her, making her the perfect brand ambassador fit.

2015-09-09

With the excitement surrounding the US Open Tennis Championships, we take a few minutes to talk about one of the most talented players of all time: Andre Agassi.

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On the court in his heyday, Agassi was one of the most flamboyant and defiant players with a swing that moved at breakneck speeds. Nicknamed "The Kid of Las Vegas," he has won all four Grand Slam singles titles, without mentioning his victories in the Davis Cup, Masters Series, and an Olympic gold medal. His 1990s duels with Pete Sampras were memorable moments in sport. Agassi's game was famous for its precision and its exceptional timing. He also had remarkable endurance and was extremely combative. Agassi's unique style, his kindness and the emotion he transmitted while playing made him a great favorite with the public.

In 2006, at the age of 36, he ended a career highlighted by 60 singles titles. He married tennis star Steffi Graf and has established The Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. Today, he combines his passions and talents with generosity through his work at The Andre Agassi Foundation and assists Las Vegas youths by offering educational opportunities via a school he opened for at-risk children.

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Agassi is a leading brand ambassador for Longines, which is also supportive of the Foundation. In fact, he has been a brand ambassador since 2007. In May of this year, he and Graff worked with Longines to create a new television commercial that was aired during the French Open. It was a chance to introduce the tennis greats and their charitable work, along with showcasing Longines.

Stop in any time to see our wonderful assortment of sports and elegant watches from Longines.

2015-09-08

Shock Resistance is a fairly recent term in the world of watches. As more and more people are leading active lifestyles, watch brands are going to great lengths to create timepieces that are resistant to damage when dropped or when subjected to stringent and constant motion — such as being worn on the wrist during a tennis match.

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Essentially, a watch is shock resistant if it can cope with shocks to the movement, especially to the delicate pivots that hold the balance wheel in place. Different watch brands offer various methods of making a watch shock resistant, but the general idea is to use a spring suspension system for the balance wheel.

One of the first systems — invented in the early 1930s — was the Incabloc system, a trade name for a spring-loaded mounting system for the jewel bearings that support the mechanical watch’s balance wheel. Swiss engineers developed the system in 1934 and it has become a standard in the industry with a flat jewel and endnote being spring-loaded into the main plate and balance cock so the bearings move laterally or vertically when subjected to shock.

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Today, most watches have some degree of shock resistance, but dive watches, certified Chronometers and many pilot watches maintain a higher level of shock resistance — as they are specifically built to go the distance.

The International Organization of Standardization (ISO) has also issued certain standards of shock resistance. In the horology world, to be called shock resistant a watch must meet certain tests and controls (the limit is determined based on a watch accidentally falling from a height of about three feet onto a hardwood surface). In testing, a watch undergoing shock must keep its accuracy in the range of +/- 60 seconds/day.

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Photo courtesy: Incabloc

Some brands today also conquer the issue of shock resistance via new materials and developments. This includes using synthetic jewels, silicon hairsprings, non-ferrous escape wheels, as well as adding inner and outer containers to the housing. Some brands have even developed all new case constructions with pressure absorbing elements.

If you are the active person, having a shock-resistant watch may just be right up your alley.

2015-09-04

Labor Day seems like a great day to reflect on time and history. With America’s Department of Labor now just over 100 years old, we celebrate the fact that Labor Day is fully American. Labor Day constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.

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The first governmental recognition of American workers came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886, when a movement started designed to secure state laws honoring the work force. While the first state bill introduced into legislature happened in New York, Oregon was the first to pass the law in February of 1887. Within a year, four more states (New York, New Jersey, Colorado and Massachusetts) followed suit. By June of 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday of September a legal holiday to celebrate workers.

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It that same timeframe, the U.S. Department of Labor implemented a system for clocking the hours worked and for not exploiting that time. On April 29, we wrote about how the time clock industrialized working hours in a preview of the National Watch and Clock Museum's exhibit called "On the Clock: Changing the Industrialized World." The exhibit will run until the end of December 2015. The article is in our April 2015 archives.

Back to Labor Day, this year the day is being promoted with the tag line "Shared Prosperity for a Stronger America." According to Labor Secretary Tom Perez, "We all succeed only when we all succeed."

2015-09-02
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Montblanc — a brand known for its top-quality craftsmanship — introduces the newest women's Boheme collection: Boheme Moongarden. The next generation of the Boheme line is a new moonphase calendar watch that offers an enchanted look at time.

Created in house at the brand’s Swiss Le Locle factory, Boheme Moongarden is a moon phase timepiece that indicates the 12 names of the different moons of each month instead of listing the traditional name of the month. The watch also offers Day and Night indication via the moon phase disk, which is pale blue with the sun on it during the day, and dark blue with the moon and stars by night. An outer pointer hand indicates the date on the dial.

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The watch is powered by the automatic MB29/17 movement that offers 42 hours of power reserve. A sapphire crystal caseback allows for viewing of the movement. Moongarden watches are built in 18-karat rose gold or in stainless steel and come with or without a bezel set with more than 70 Top Wesselton diamonds.

2015-09-01
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It's hard to believe that the last “official” vestiges of summer are disappearing into the working and school world again now that September has arrived. Time is that always-fleeting, illusive thing we can’t seem to get a hold on no matter how hard we try. That may well be why we embrace the concept of tracking it beautifully with watches that complement our lifestyles.

Every year the high-profile unveiling of new timepieces takes place in Switzerland at SIHH in Geneva in January and BaselWorld in Basel in March. At these shows, the top watch brands introduce the watches that will steer the course of the wrist for at least a few years.

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The fall, however, also brings with it a nice spate of watch fairs and special events that also showcase the latest luxury timepieces. Among the key fairs is the upcoming Watches & Wonders Show in Hong Kong at the end of this month. The show, with just fewer than 20 luxury brands exhibiting, is open to the public on certain days, and key companies use this timeframe to unveil some complex beauties.

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In October, the watch world celebrates the finest in its field in the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie awards that take place in Geneva, wherein top watch brands in a host of categories are awarded for their hard work and effort. Categories include Mechanical Exception, Jewelry, Ladies High-Mech, Tourbillons, Calendars, Striking Watches and more.

In early November, the watch industry shows its heart with many top brands participating in the collectors’ paradise auction known as Only Watch. For this auction, participating watch brands – some of the finest in the world — are asked to build and donate a piece unique for the auction, with all benefits going to Research on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Only Watch is a biennial charity auction that has been taking place since 2005. This year, for the first time, the event will happen in Geneva.

Later in November, it’s on to the Salon QP watch exhibit in London, which generally wraps up year’s busy schedule before the holidays. We look forward to bringing you ongoing news and coverage of all of these events as the fall season unfurls.