Wempe Watch Blog

Wempe Watch Blog
This modern interpretation is titled "Back to the Trees" and features a bird's nest from which the cuckoos emerge and sing.

This modern interpretation is titled "Back to the Trees" and features a bird's nest from which the cuckoos emerge and sing.

A new exhibition was on display at the recent SIHH Watch Show in Geneva. Coordinated and created by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, the traveling display is designed to put a new twist on the centuries-old watchmaking tradition. In fact, each year, the FHH coordinates an enlightening exhibit (we have witnessed astronomy and watches, pocket watches, clocks, and so much more over the years) — and this year's installation was definitely one to sing out about — and one to make us think about old-world timing in new ways.

Called “24 Hours in the Life of a Swiss Cuckoo Clock,” the exhibit pays homage to the iconic object of folklore and precision clocks — Cuckoo Clocks — with roots dating back hundreds of years to the Black Forest. The exhibit showcases 24 intriguing cuckoo clocks that were designed and built by art students at HEAD-Genève (Geneva University of Art and Design) in an effort to reinvent the mid-18th century Swiss cuckoo clock.

This rendition features a bird atop a metal tree with hanging "fruit"

This rendition features a bird atop a metal tree with hanging "fruit."

Historically, cuckoo clocks were designed to chirp the time — with a bit of whimsy, wit and wonder. Early cuckoo clocks generally had a cuckoo bird that popped its head out of door on the hour or moved in and out of a clock door on the hour. The idea of the new exhibit is to keep the allure of the cuckoo making an hourly appearance, but to translate the bird, its song and its dwelling into modern times.

In total, 18 Fashion, Jewelry and Accessories students and six HEAD teachers contributed works to this exhibit. Here we bring you a look at a few of our favorite artistic depictions of the cuckoo.

Here the cuckoos have left the country chalet for a city apartment dwelling

Here, the cuckoos have left the country chalet for a city apartment dwelling.


As usual, TAG Heuer loves to give us exciting news at BaselWorld — and exciting products. Here we are, just six months after the release of the TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-01 Manufacture-made chronograph, and the brand releases the all-new TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-02T, a COSC-certified automatic chronograph chronometer with a titanium and carbon flying tourbillon.

This is the only COSC-certified automatic chronograph with tourbillon produced by the Swiss watch industry for under 15,000 CHF (Swiss Francs), about $15,400. There is also a Black Phantom version (priced slightly higher at 19,900 CHF, about $20,400) that is being built in a limited edition of 250 numbered pieces.


Building the watch posed several challenges to the brand's R&D department, including how to house a single barrel, chronograph functions, automatic winding mechanism and flying tourbillon within a 32mm diameter. They figured it out... and the watch now houses a lightweight tourbillon that is hand crafted by four watchmakers. The watch offers 65 hours of power reserve.


This year at BaselWorld 2016, Tudor has unveiled the new Heritage Black Bay Bronze — a 43mm mechanical diver's watch. While it won't be in the store until late spring, we want to bring you a sneak peek at the watch that is inspired by the brand's rich heritage.


The 43mm aluminum-bronze alloy case, with bronze-colored PVD steel case back, and bronze unidirectional rotating bezel, recalls the bronze of historic ships and diving equipment. The brushed finished alloy guarantees a subtle and unique patina, and is accented by a chocolate brown dial and bezel with gold and beige accents.

It is equipped with the brand’s in-house movement, MT5601, which was developed for this watch. It offers 70 hours of power reserve, and is certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). Each watch comes with a brown and beige woven strap with center yellow thread, inspired by a parachute strap found on an original period watch.


Once a year in March, the world's largest watch and jewelry fair takes place in Basel, Switzerland. Aptly named BaselWorld, this is the place where hundreds of brands, from Rolex to Bulova, show their newest watches. These are the secret designs and top-notch technological innovations that many of these brands have been working on for years.

Baselworld Main Floor

The show is packed with thousands of exhibitors from around the world, and tens of thousands of visitors flock to the scene. BaselWorld 2016 runs from today through next Thursday and is open to the public. But beware, finding a hotel in the city is a daunting project. For those watch lovers interested in seeing timepieces that won't hit the market or the stores until later this summer and fall, you may want to investigate staying in Zurich and taking the enjoyable one-hour train ride back and forth to Basel each day.

The show is a mecca of innovation, from watches to the exhibit booths themselves, and one would be hard-pressed to see it all in a just a couple of days. Still, it is well worth a visit at least once in a lifetime if you are a die-hard watch lover. For those who love watches but don't need to see it all "first," stop back. We will be bringing you news from the fair of new unveilings made by some of the brands we carry in our store.  Trust us, you will be wowed.


Last week we discussed the virtues of mechanical watches. This led to some questions from customers about whether or not quartz watches were right for them. The answer is: Certainly. Whether one buys a fully mechanical watch or a quartz (battery powered) watch is completely a personal preference. Here, we outline what a quartz watch is, how it works and why it may be the right watch for you.

Quartz watches were invented in the late 1960s, and so are a relatively new phenomena. The first quartz watch put into production was the Astron by Seiko (1969) and, as a result, the Asian market swiftly cornered the quartz watch business. However, in the early 1980s, the Swiss-made quartz Swatch Watch was unveiled and helped to recoup Swiss watch market share that had been suffering due to the Swiss reluctance to embrace quartz technology. After Swatch, other Swiss brands were fast to incorporate quartz technology into their lineups, and today we have a very healthy globally produced genre of quartz watches.


Essentially, a quartz watch is battery powered. The battery sends electricity to a tiny low-frequency piece of quartz crystal (that acts as an oscillator) through an electronic circuit. The quartz oscillator, which is typically placed in an integrated circuit, vibrates quickly and with precise frequency (32,768 times/second) in response to the electronic charge. The circuit counts the vibrations and generates regular electric pulses of one per second. The pulses drive the small motor that spins the watch’s hands – offering accurate time measurement (until the battery runs out of energy).

Many people prefer a quartz watch to a mechanical one. For one thing, a quartz watch does not need to be wound or constantly worn to continue tracking time. You can put it down for a few days, a week, or a month and it will still be running when you pick it up again (provided, the battery life is not nearing its end). Another reason for favoring quartz watches is the difference in pricing from a quartz to a mechanical timepiece. Because most mechanical watches consists of hundreds of different parts (often hand assembled), they cost more than their integrated circuit quartz counterparts. For many, quartz is the preferred option.


This weekend marks the "Spring Ahead" portion of Daylight Savings Time. At 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, 13 (or before you go to bed on Saturday night, March 12), remember to turn your clocks forward by one hour — for Daylight Saving Time adjustments.

While Daylight Savings Time in the USA begins on the second Sunday in March, some states don't participate in the springy action. In fact, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and most of Arizona abstain. The reasons are unclear — but then the reasons for Daylight Savings Time in the first place are unclear. History tells us the concept was developed to get more light in every day to an effort to conserve energy.

In fact, some say the idea dates back 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. Then, 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 wherein the clocks would change time so we could get more daylight. Slowly, these ideas laid the foundation for merit.

In 1905, British builder William Willett proposed the idea of 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 other countries became interested in the value of more daylight. Germany was the first country to implement the idea in 1916, with several countries followed suit, including America.

In the United States after World War II, states could select if they wanted to implement the program, but this caused major confusion about what time it was in different states. As such, Congress  established the Uniform Time Act in 1966, setting the protocol for DST times/dates. As part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the length of DST in America was extended by four weeks, starting in 2007. Today, we begin on the second Sunday of March — meaning this upcoming weekend. Another note, as you turn your clocks ahead, don't forget to reset your watches.


Clock image via Bigstockphoto.com


We're noticing a growing number of customers who are fascinated by mechanical timepieces because the watches house hundreds of tiny parts that work together mechanically (without batteries or solar power). Indeed, these watches are coveted, especially by automobile lovers and art lovers who understand the complexity and craftsmanship that goes into making a mechanical watch.


Of course, there are several types of mechanical watches, and some people naturally gravitate to one over the other. Essentially, the two categories of mechanicals are hand-wound (or manual-wind) watches and automatic (or self-winding) watches.

Essentially, a hand-wound mechanical watch houses a movement that must be wound by the wearer on a regular basis. It is wound via the crown so that, finely put, the wearer acts as the initial power supplier by physically winding the watch crown on a regular basis to power the timekeeping function. Inside the watch, once the crown is turned, a complicated system of gears transmits the energy from the crown to a main spring, which is coiled in a barrel. As the wound spring slowly uncoils, it releases the power necessary to activate the movement and make time tick. There is a balance wheel within the watch that helps to regulate that energy release, keeping the movement accurate. Unfortunately, if one forgets to wind the watch, the energy runs out and the watch stops working. One will need to reset the time and wind the watch again before wearing.


In an automatic watch, the movement of the wearer's wrist automatically winds the rotor and stores the power. There is nothing the wearer needs to do unless the watch is not worn and sits still for too long in one place (in which case it will have to be set before wearing again). In this type of watch, the movement is fitted with an automatic rotor (also referred to as an oscillating weight) that winds itself as the wearer's wrist moves naturally. As the rotor moves, it winds the mainspring and stores the power. As long as the watch is being worn, and generally for a specified amount of time after the watch comes off (power reserve), it retains energy. When the power reserve dwindles (if it hasn’t been worn again), the watch stops running and needs to be re-set before wearing again.

The amount of power reserve in an automatic watch varies depending on the timepiece and the movement. Some offer 42 to 72 hours of power reserve (meaning the watch will stay wound for that long after it has been taken off), while other more complex watches can have seven, eight or more full days of power reserve.


Imelda Marcos, widow of the former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, served as the First Lady of the country from 1965 to 1986. Often referred to as the Steel Butterfly, she was well known for her famous collection of shoes (estimated to be at about 1,200 pairs at one point in time).


Now, we learn that she also had (not surprisingly) a pretty spectacular collection of watches and jewelry. Those items are about to go up for auction. In fact, the  jewelry has been in the Filipino government’s possession since 1986, when the Marcoses fled the Philippines after a revolt.

The collection includes pieces recovered from the presidential palace, seized by customs officials at the Manila airport, and seized by the U.S. Bureau of Customs when the Marcoses arrived in Hawaii.

The collection has been appraised by Christie’s and Sotheby’s, and is estimated to be worth $21 million. Among the stand-out watch brands: Patek Philippe, Rolex and Cartier. There is also a host of stunning jewelry, including spectacular pieces by Bulgari, Van Cleef & Arpels and others, as well as a 25-carat, barrel-shape India pink diamond estimated to be worth least $5 million.


It is expected that a portion of the proceeds of the sale of the collection will directly benefit the Filipino people. The Philippine government will soon determine the dates of the public exhibition and auction. As soon as we get more details, we will share them, as this is expected to be a big international draw.

Credits: NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images; ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images.