Wempe Watch Blog

Wempe Watch Blog
2017-08-30

Car and watch lovers take note, TAG Heuer has unveiled the new Special Edition Monaco watch that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the famed Gulf Racing stripes. The square-shaped chronograph features the Gulf Racing stripes in all their colorful blue and orange appeal, along with the Gulf logo on the watch dial.

The first Monaco watch was unveiled to the world in 1969 and is the first Swiss-made automatic chronograph that was both square and waterproof. It was released in honor of Heuer's long-standing relationship with the Monaco Brand Prix. That first watch featured a metallic blue dial, domed crystal and a crown positioned on the left side of the case. It was powered by the Caliber 11 — the brand's first automatic chronograph movement. The watch was immediately identifiable from across a crowded room.

Steve McQueen wore a Monaco 1133B Calibre 11 automatic timepiece in the 1971 film Le Mans — winning it a legendary place in watch and car history. McQueen’s character was sponsored by Gulf Oil and his Porsche 917 car was decorated with the Gulf Stripes.

This makes the new watch ever more special. It is powered by the TAG Heuer Caliber 11 and offers 48 hours of power reserve. The 39mm case is crafted in steel with a steel bezel and domed sapphire crystal. The watch, with perforated blue leather strap with orange stitching, is water resistant to 100 meters. The dial has a blue sun ray, and blue and orange Gulf stripes. We are excited to have this watch in our store by mid-September. In the meantime, stop in and see our great assortment of TAG Heuer Monaco watches.

2017-08-24

If you are a car lover as well as a watch lover, then you know that this past week was filled with exciting motorsports events, including the famed Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and all of the gatherings, tours, races and exhibitions that take place around it. Easily one of the most prestigious auto events in the world, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance takes place on the 18th Fairway of the famed Pebble Beach Links Golf course — with a rich Pacific blue ocean backdrop.

For the event, Rolex — a brand we are proud to carry — is the Official Timepiece and is also the title brand for the Rolex Best of Show award, which is given to only one car out of a couple of hundred on display at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance event. While there are awards given for best of each category, only one car — the one judged to be restored with the most authenticity and style — can win Best of Show. The winner this year was the 1929 Mercedes Benz S Barker Tourer in blue and silver owned by Bruce McGaw. McGaw also received a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41 watch in gold and stainless steel for the win.

Additionally, during the week, Rolex sponsored the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at the 11-turn Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where more than 400 cars converged for four days of ultimate racing on a challenging course with hairpin turns and bold changes in elevation. In fact, that raceway celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. A few famous drivers — also Rolex brand ambassadors — were on hand for that classic car racing event, as well. Sir Jackie Stewart, a three-time Formula One World Champion, attended and Tom Kristensen, nine-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, was a featured speaker.

Rolex also had a grand presence at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering and at the Tour d'Elegance. Rolex's relationship with the world of automotive sports is a long and storied one that reaches back to the Daytona races more than half a century ago. We invite you to stop in any time to see our collection of Rolex watches and maybe even talk about cars.

All photos Courtesy of Rolex.

2017-08-17

Solar Eclipse Photo Credit: The Exploratorium/NASA

Time and astronomy have long been linked. Since the dawn of man, we have planted and harvested according to the moon. Many an ancient ritual was performed to honor the sun, and our first abilities to measure time came with the advent of sundials and similar structures. Over the centuries, we learned to better measure time — moving from tracking seasons to tracking months, then days, hours, minutes, seconds and fractions of a second. Additionally, today, many watch brands track the moon and its phases, along with a host of other information, in astronomical timepieces that are a true wonder.

Because time and astronomy are inextricably linked, we want to bring your attention to the fact that next Monday, August 21, 2017, those of us living in North America will be treated to the eclipse of the sun — the first one seen here since 1979. Depending on where you live, you may even get to see the total solar eclipse. The eclipse, which happens when the moon on its path comes between the sun and Earth, obliterates the sun from the sky for just a couple of minutes. The path for the total eclipse runs from Oregon to South Carolina, and is about 70 miles wide, but others will get to witness at least the partial eclipse.

Beware, though, of looking directly at the sun during the eclipse. There are only a handful of safe methods for looking directly at it, including solar eclipse glasses that can be purchased online or at certain museums or photo stores. We advise you to check NASA's solar eclipse site about ways to safely watch the eclipse, which, from beginning to end, will span about four hours — with times varying depending on where you live in the United States. For those of you more interested in the watches that bring astronomy to the wrist, stop in any time and see our selection of moon phase and other astronomically inspired watches.

2017-08-15

Just like you would take care of your jewelry or your car, a fine watch also needs to be properly cared for in order to ensure optimal precision and performance. Additionally, cleaning the exterior of your watch will keep it looking great. Here we bring you six tips for proper care.

1. Before you put your watch on, take a soft, dry, non-abrasive cloth (such as those used to clean sunglass or eyeglass lenses) and wipe the crystal and bracelet to get fingerprints or dust off of it. It is best not to use water to clean your watch, but if you need water to remove dirt on a bracelet or caseback, for instance, you can use a barely damp soft cloth.

2. When putting your watch on your wrist, be careful to avoid holding it over an unforgiving surface, such as a wood or granite floor. Dropping it on a hard surface can cause damage, and we have seen the results of this unfortunate mistake many times before.

3.  If you have a broken watch crystal or even hairline fractures in it, get it replaced quickly before dust or moisture seeps inside.

4. Don't just jump into the ocean or wear your watch into the shower thinking it is water resistant. Not all watches can be immersed in water. If your watch is water resistant, it will say so on the caseback (or even the dial). Look before you leap.

5. If your quartz watch battery dies out, get it replaced at a reputable retailer. It is best not to leave a dead battery inside a watch where it could eventually corrode and damage the timepiece.

6. Have your fine mechanical watch serviced in a timely manner and always take your watch to an authorized retailer for the brand, or to a retailer with a properly equipped service department to have the battery replaced or the old gaskets swapped out to ensure continued water resistance.

2017-08-08

Last month we brought you news of the Patek Philippe Grande Exhibition taking place in New York City. Free to the public, this largest-of-its-kind exhibition showcased more than 400 current and vintage watches, as well as demonstrations of their arts by watchmakers, engravers, enamelers and more. The exhibit also was the perfect venue for Patek Philippe to unveil a host of new watches, many dedicated strictly to the US market, and some that are world firsts.

In fact, the Ref. 5531R World Time Minute Repeater, New York Special Edition watch, is one such special piece. The grand complication, which retails for more than $500,000, is the first world time watch to chime the time in the local time zone (with a choice of 24 zones). The all-new movement, the R27 HU ultra-thin self-winding caliber with 462 parts, has several patents pending.

The watch — a beautiful work of art and craftsmanship — is created in two hand-painted cloisonné dial versions: one that pays tribute to New York with a skyline by day and the other by night. The case back is fitted with a transparent sapphire crystal for viewing the movement, which carries the Patek Philippe Seal. The watch is also sold with an interchangeable gold case back. Both are engraved with the phrase “Patek Philippe New York 2017.” Just five pieces of each version will be made.

Stay tuned for more information about the Patek Philippe products unveiled last month. Stop in our store to see this brand any time.

2017-08-08

For those of you who are not only watch lovers, but also astronomy lovers, we have the watch for you. At the beginning of this year at the SIHH exhibition in Geneva, Vacheron Constantin unveiled its newest work of art: Metiers d’Art Copernicus Celestial Spheres 2460RT. Offered in three variations, the new watch brings horology, technology and science to the wrist.

Inspired by scientist and mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus and his astronomical discovery of heliocentrism (that the Earth revolves around the sun instead of the other way around), Vacheron Constantin built an all-new movement to honor his revolutionary find. The  in-house-made 352-part Caliber 2460RT was three years in the development stages and offers an original display of time that shows the zodiac signs and the Earth — revolving around a center sun.

Each of the three versions of the watch holds the same concept but in extremely different renditions that recall the graphic depictions of the galaxy created by Andreas Cellarius, a 17th century Dutch-German cartographer. For each watch, the sun sits in the center of the dial, and a round Earth orb revolves around it. On an outer dial ring, the 12 zodiac signs are depicted in one of the three different styles: hand engraving in baroque style; a Grand Feu enamel dial in ocean blue; a laser- and hand-engraved sapphire disk.

The time on each of these 43mm gold watches is displayed by two triangular peripheral hands (an outlined one for the hours and a solid one for the minutes). The “Earth” rotates on its axis in a 24-hour rotation period and, thanks to a tropical gear train that emulates Earth’s elliptical orbit around the Sun (365.2421898 days — or one tropical year), the Earth orb on the dial orbits the sun at that same speed. The mechanism is so precise that only once in 8,000 years will it need an adjustment. Stop in any time to see our amazing collection of Vacheron Constantin watches.

2017-08-03

Earlier this week, we reviewed some basic watch terminology that refers to the outside of a timepiece — from the case to the bezel, dial, crown and lugs. Today, we take this to the next level, where we identify some of the other features/functions you may find on a watch.

Subsidiary Dial/Subdial. Often, instead of having three hands to tell the hours, minutes and seconds, a watch may have only the hours and seconds shown using hands, and may have a smaller subsidiary dial (subdial) — usually at 6 o'clock — to show the only the seconds. This is generally an added aesthetic feature.

Minute track. Some watches have an outer track on the dial that is used to measure minutes. It looks like a tiny railroad track running along the outer portion of the dial. It is designed to make reading of the minutes even easier.

(The image, above, shows both a subdial and a minute track on the outer edge.)

Push pieces. Especially on a chronograph (a watch that times events), a watch case will feature push pieces. These are added pushers (usually above and below the crown on the side of the case) that activate the added function. In the case of a chronograph, the added push pieces start and start the timing of the event. There are some other functions that can have push pieces, as well. Generally, whenever a watch has a protrusion on the case side other than the crown, it has some added function.

Tachymeter. Often sport watches will have a scale on the bezel that enables the wearer to calculate speed based on travel time, or to measure distance based on speed. The scale is inscribed with numbers and spaces that are proportional so the wearer can convert elapsed time to speed, etc. There are also a host of other types of meters a watch can have, but that is a subject for another post. Stay tuned.

2017-08-01

We often have customers ask us questions, such as "Is it a dial or a face?" or "What do you call the stem on the watch at 3 o'clock?" The truth is, watch terminology can be daunting, and while many connoisseurs and watch lovers have the terms down pat, newbies to the art of loving watches may not. For this reason, today we bring you a simple glossary of terms that define the "look" of a watch.

Photo courtesy of Wostep (Watchmaking School) shows case, dial, hands and crown.

A complete watch consists of a case, hands (sometimes), dial (sometimes), crown, glass or sapphire cover, case back and a movement inside. Sure, there are more parts, but these are the basics.

Case. The outer metal casing (usually in steel, titanium, ceramic or a noble metal) that holds the watch movement inside, along with the dial, etc. This may seem obvious, but some of our customers call it the "head of the watch," while others call it "the actual watch."

Crystal. This is the clear protective covering that enables one to view the time. Most crystals are made of hardened mineral glass or sapphire, but in inexpensive watches, there is also a plexiglass or plastic material for the crystal.

Bezel. On some watches, the outer ring that surrounds the dial is referred to as the bezel. Sometimes the bezel is made of the same material as the case, but often, especially in sports watches, it is created of different materials, such as aluminium or ceramic. Some bezels may indicate dive time or some other measurement — and they are usually able to rotate either unidirectionally or one way, depending on the function of the bezel. In dress watches, the bezel is often adorned with diamonds or gemstones.

Caseback. Every case has a back. That back is usually made of the metal that the case is made of, or it is made of the material the crystal is made of. In luxury watches, transparent sapphire casebooks allow for viewing of the complex mechanical movement inside.

Crown. Often referred to as the stem, the crown (typically, but not always, at 3:00 on the case) is used for winding a mechanical watch and for setting the time and date (if there is one).

Lugs. Lugs are the part of the case watch that protrude from the case and attach it to the bracelet or strap. Often referred to as case-to-bracelet attachments, lugs are sometimes integrated into the case.

Strap/Bracelet. The word strap is generally used to refer to fabric, leather, rubber, canvas, silk or other material. The word bracelet is usually used to refer to a "strap" made of metal. So, the steel, gold, titanium, etc., that wraps around the wrist is a bracelet. Most bracelets are made of multiple rows of links, or are woven mesh designs referred to as Milanese.

Dial. Often called a face (and not incorrectly), the dial of the watch is where the numerals, markers hands and sometimes other information is placed. Not all watches have a dial. Skeletonized watches, for instance usually skip the dial and display the hands in an unobtrusive way so that one can see right through the watch and into the movement.

Hands. The hands point to the hours, minutes or seconds. Not all watches use hands to indicate the time. In the luxury watch world, some watches display time linearly, through apertures or via satellites.

These are the basics of every watch. There are a host of other terms we can explain, but we will hold that post for later in the week. In the meantime, stop in any time to talk watches with us.