Wempe Watch Blog

Wempe Watch Blog
2016-01-28

After many long, arduous sessions and discussions over the course of more than three years, new legislation finally defines the term "Swiss Made." The new rules go into effect in one year, beginning January 1, 2017. According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH), the bill that has been signed and sealed is a victory for the watch industry. It includes provisions governing Swiss Made accreditation.

The new legislation is based on a 2013 “Swissness” amendment of the federal law on trademarks and indications of origin. That amendment, to be adopted as of next year, stipulates that at least 60% of the value of industrial products must originate in Switzerland, and the product must be given its essential characteristics in Switzerland. Originally, the FH was fighting for that percentage to be 80 instead of 60, but they are pleased with this outcome.

The current ordinance regulating the use of the name "Swiss" on watches dates back to 1971 and sets the criteria by which a watch can qualify as "Swiss Made."

Currently, a watch is considered Swiss if the movement is Swiss, i.e.:

  • the movement is assembled in Switzerland,
  • the movement has been inspected by the manufacturer in Switzerland, and
  • the components of Swiss Manufacture account for at least 50% of the total value, without taking into account the cost of assembly;
  •  its movement is cased up in Switzerland, and
  •  the manufacturer carries out the final inspection in Switzerland.

In order to merit the Swiss Made label, the Swissness amendment requires that for industrial production (e.g. watches), at least 60% of the production costs are attributable to operations carried out in Switzerland; this may include the costs for assembly, research and development, and legally or industrially regulated quality assurance and certification. Moreover, at least one essential manufacturing process must take place in Switzerland.

Unlike the existing ordinance, the Swissness amendment applies not only to the movement and final inspection, but to every component of the watch (including wristlets and cases).

2016-01-26

Celestial globe with clockwork; Circa 1579; Culture: Austrian, Vienna; Maker: Gerhard Emmoser (German, active 1556–84); Medium: Case: partly gilded silver and gilded brass; Movement: brass and steel. Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917. Image courtesy of The MET.

If you are planning to visit The Big Apple anytime soon, you may want to book a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The MET) to spend a little time at a recently installed exhibit: The Luxury of Time: European Clocks and Watches. The exhibit opened in mid-November 2015, in the Wrightsman Exhibition Gallery and will run through March 27, 2016.

The exhibit draws on the Museum’s extensive holdings of French, English, Dutch, German, and Swiss horological instruments from the 16th through the 19th centuries. These incredible clocks and watches were acquired primarily as decorative objects or specialized pieces of furniture, but several of them are equally important from a technical standpoint.

Longcase astronomical regulator clock, ca. 1768-70; Clockmaker: Ferdinand Berthoud (1727-1807); Case maker: Balthazar Lieutaud (ca. 1720-1780, master 1749). Case: ebony veneered on oak, with gilt-bronze mounts; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, 1982. Image courtesy of The MET.

The exhibition will include objects that have not been on display for almost a decade, and will include some highlights from the Museum’s Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, such as Berthoud’s ebony and gilt-bronze Longcase astronomical regulator clock and a Lepaute gilt-bronze mantel clock. A recently acquired work — an automaton clock made in Nuremberg in the early 17th century depicting Urania, muse of astronomy — will be a highlight of the installation.

2016-01-21
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For those who know and love IWC Schaffhausen, you know the brand's history is linked to the world of aviation and dates back to the early 1900s. In fact, IWC is credited with developing the first truly anti-magnetic pilot's watch thanks to the development of a soft iron inner case.

So this year at SIHH, the brand unveils a spectacular array of pilots watches that will be hitting our store later this year. Among them: Big Pilot's Heritage 55 and 48 watches (yes, we did say 55mm!) that take their inspiration from the navigation watches the brand made in the 1940s, to the Pilot's Watch Automatic 36 — a reduced size for the brand. It is powered by the IWC caliber 35111 (Sellita base) running at 28,800 vph, with a 42-hour power reserve. Best of all, it is still antimagnetic, with a soft iron inner case.

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There is also a newly overhauled version of the famed "Mark" pilot's line, and, for those who prefer a little elegance in their pilot's instrument, IWC unveils the Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Le Petit Prince.” The mechanical watch offers annual calendar with date, day and month displays, power-reserve indicator and small seconds at 9:00. Just 250 pieces will be made of the 46mm gold watch. We will bring you more news after SIHH.

2016-01-20

This year at SIHH, Panerai did something we don't often see. The brand unveiled a white-dialed watch. The all-new Radiomir 1940 3-Days Automatic Acciaio 42mm watch is the brand’s first model in the Radiomir 1940 collection to feature a white dial. Make no mistake, this is a big deal for Officine Panerai, which typically uses black dials.

The watch is powered by the the P.4000 automatic movement with off-cantered micro-rotor, and features highly luminescent hands and markers. Water resistant to 100 meters, the 42mm cushion case is crafted in stainless steel, and the case back features a round sapphire crystal window to view the movement.

2016-01-20

It is an exciting time for Montblanc as the brand unveils an all-new collection here at SIHH. Called the 4810 collection, the line's name pays homage to the elevation of the Montblanc mountain. The brand has a strong lineup of new watches in the collection that include chronographs, calendars and tourbillon escapement watches.

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We are excited to bring you a close-up look at these timepieces after SIHH, but for now we want to bring you a quick look at one new watch that — for less than $5,000 retail — is going to really make an impact. The new 4810 TwinFly Chronograph 110 Years Edition watch is a classic beauty: a flyback chronograph that allows the wearer to time multiple events at once, with all functions operated with a press of the pusher at 4:00. The watch is powered by an in-house made self-winding movement that offers 72 hours of power reserve.

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Making it even more alluring is the artistic globe design on the dial at 12:00 that offer dual time indication and features a blue/white, day/night indicator. The dial features a wave motif that is an expansion of the brand's "star" motif. Just 1,110 pieces will be made in stainless steel.

2016-01-19
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Every year as the world's first luxury watch fair opens in Geneva, we anticipate with delight what Cartier will unveil. So here it is, the SIHH has opened, and Cartier doesn't disappoint. This year, the brand demonstrates its mastery of the art of skeletonization — for both men and women. Creating a skeletonized watch is no easy feat, as master artisans work tirelessly to find the correct balance of open-worked metal and strength without compromising power.

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Now, in its  Clé de Cartier line (which just won an industry Watch Design award at the industry's GEM Awards), Cartier releases the Clé de Cartier Skeleton — the brand’s first automatic skeleton. Creating an automatic skeleton movement instead of a manual wind movement is truly a challenge because of the rotor — typically a solid mass. In this new watch, with the Caliber 9612 MC, Cartier skeletonized the rotor so that the skeletonized bridges form the Roman numerals and still maintain the winding efficiency of the movement. The 165-part automatic Caliber 9621 MC offers 48 hours of power reserve. This 41mm watch is crafted in palladium.

Also this year, Cartier releases a new Crash Skeleton watch based on the beloved Crash watch first unveiled in 1967. The new skeletonized timepiece in rose gold houses a mechanical manual-wind 138-part movement. Here, too, the skeletonized bridges form the Roman numerals of the watch. We look forward to bringing you more news from Cartier after SIHH concludes.

2016-01-14
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On Monday, January 18, the 26th edition of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie — otherwise known to watch lovers as the SIHH — opens its doors. This is the first official exhibition of the year, and the most luxurious show. The by-invitation-only event is held at the Geneva Pal Expo space, where this year 24 top luxury watch brands will showcase their newest timepieces — watches destined to grace wrists around the world.

The brands on exhibit include a dozen Richemont-owned companies, as well as several large independently owned brands, and nine smaller "independent" watch atelier brands. Each will unveil the fruits of what has most likely been years of research and development. It is an exciting time of year, as we get the first look at the year's luxury watch trends.

Throughout the five-day exhibition, other top watch brands take advantage of the global watch community traffic, and showcase new timepieces in other locations throughout the city, as well. After this show, the next big one is the world's largest and most-attended show: BaselWorld 2015, which takes place in March. Stay tuned as we bring you first-hand accounts of news and product updates from the watch brands we carry.

2016-01-12

We get a lot of questions from our customers about watches and we enjoy answering them all. We spend a great deal of time and effort improving our product knowledge and training so that we can provide thorough and accurate responses to your inquiries. This got us to thinking... Instead of just answering each customer individually, perhaps we should share a few of our most frequently asked questions and the answers.

Q: Why, and how often, should I service my watch?

A: All watches need maintenance. The extent of this service depends on the timepiece, its age and its movement (what powers the watch). Typically, quartz watches need battery replacements every two to three years. Mechanical watches, like cars, need a little more attention or service. The amount and extent of that service depends on the movement within the watch. Mechanical watches are lightly lubricated to reduce friction of the parts and to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Over time, the oils can deteriorate, resulting in increased wear and tear on the parts and decreased precision. Of course, some of today's higher-end luxury watches have movements that contain silicium or ceramic ball bearings that do not need oil to run friction free. A general rule of thumb is that a mechanical watch should be serviced every five years, and should always be taken to an authorized retailer. If the wrong gaskets or parts are used, more expensive repair problems can occur. Even quartz watches, when batteries are changed, have to be properly sealed and closed to ensure their water resistance.

Q: Is a watch a good investment?

A: While many people buy watches because they love the individual statement the piece makes about them, when it comes to more expensive timepieces, people also want to know that the watch they are purchasing will at least hold its value over time, and maybe even go up in value. The truth is that most do hold their value, but it is difficult to assess just how much they may go up in value. A lot of that depends on a few factors, including how rare the watch is (i.e., is it a one-of-a-kind or a very limited-edition piece), what materials the watch is made of (while noble metals like platinum and gold hold their value, sometimes a watch can have an unusual dial that is only offered on a limited number of watches, or it can have an unusual case material that has been specially developed).

Q: How do I start a watch collection?

A: If you are looking to start building a watch collection, do your research first. When buying new watches, you will want to do your homework in terms of which brands and which styles are most coveted and predicted to hold their value. Never buy a watch you don't love. The key behind building a collection is not to have the most watches, but to have the most loved watches — timepieces that you enjoy wearing. It is also smart to invest in different styles of watches appropriate for different situations, including a business watch, an elegant watch, a sporty watch and then, perhaps a complicated watch.

“Complicated” watches incorporate certain functions or features that are considered top feats of watchmaking. Which “complications” are considered the most coveted varies depending on personal taste and watchmaking progress. Among the top categories today are tourbillon watches (that house an escapement that compensates for errors in timekeeping due to the effects of gravity when the watch is in certain positions on the wrist), repeater watches that chime the time on demand via a series of gongs and hammers, and perpetual calendar watches that track the day, date, month, year and leap year (and sometimes moonphases and more) for years to come. No matter which genre or style of watch you are buying, remember to keep an eye out for special or limited editions and don't be afraid to ask questions and look for guidance from knowledgeable representatives.

2016-01-07

With 2015 behind us, we take a few minutes to review the most recent statistics from the world of luxury goods. The Swiss watchmaking statistics comprising the entire year are not yet out, but according to Bain & Company’s Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Monitor, the global luxury market passed the trillion-dollar mark for 2015.

In fact, more than $1.1 trillion — a 5 percent increase over the previous year — was spent in 2015. The personal luxury goods category, which includes watches and jewelry, as well as cosmetics, fragrance, leather goods, accessories and fashion, amounted to $253 billion. That represents a 1 percent growth at constant exchange rates over the previous year.

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The category that seemed to have the most growth was the luxury automobile category — with an 8 percent increase over the previous year. Similarly, the luxury hotel field witnessed a 7 percent increase and fine arts had a 6 percent increase over the previous year. The U.S. seems to be the main driver of the fine arts growth.

2016-01-05
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The New Year is upon us and that means we will once again focus on offering exciting news, events and products. We predict that 2016 will usher in a host of important watch trends for men and women, including the following:

For men, we expect to see a real dichotomy in product with everything from ultra-thin masterpieces to bold, high-tech three-dimensional designs. Skeleton watches (where most of the movement metal is carved away) will emerge strong this year and more watch brands vie to demonstrate their technical prowess. Of course, on the complicated watch stage, we will see more tourbillon timepieces and more perpetual calendar/astronomical watches.

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At the mid price, we expect to see more chronographs this year than in the past few years – often chocked with a few extra functions such as tachymeters to measure speed, pulsimeters to measure the heartbeat, dual timers for travelers and calendars for busy executives.

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Image courtesy of Pantone.

For women, we expect that more high-end complicated mechanical watches will emerge on the scene as watch brands vie for the attention of women who want a mechanical marvel on their wrist. Additionally, lovely diamond watches will remain strong, with some creative uses of diamonds. Women’s sport and simply elegant watches will also be important for work and play.

Color will also come on strong – and since the Pantone Color Institute announced that Rose Quartz and Serenity (a pale blue hue) will be the 2016 Colors of the Year, you can expect a lot of pink and a “tranquil” blue on the market by second half of the year. Additionally, you can expect to see some interesting mixes of the two tones – making duality important. We believe the mixing of pink and blue will rear its head more in the fashion and jewelry world than in the watch world, where single colors are easier for brands to work with. Although there will be those daring few… Here’s to a wonderful new year of great times.

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