Wempe Watch Blog

Wempe Watch Blog

With the glittering holiday season upon us, we thought it a fitting time to take a look at a rare, yet glistening, material used in luxury watchmaking: Platinum. They say that if we took all of the platinum ever mined and put it in an Olympic-sized swimming pool, the platinum would barely reach your ankles — attesting to its rarity. While approximately 2,700 tons of gold are mined a year, just 80 tons of platinum are mined annually.

Considered the most precious metal found on Earth, platinum is used as a watch case material only by the finest brands in the world. In its purest form, this heavy, dense metal is difficult to work. As such, it is sometimes mixed with a tiny amount of copper that helps make it a bit more malleable. So, if you are looking at the markings of a platinum watchcase, it will typically read “Platinum 95”— meaning that it is 95 percent pure platinum. To be called platinum, the entire piece must be at least 95 percent platinum.

A warmer white tone than stainless steel, platinum is not necessarily easily identifiable to the average person, so wearing a platinum watch on your wrist is like having your own quiet secret.

In addition to being rare, highly pure and a coveted secret on the wrist, a platinum watch has a few other advantages. Among them: it is hypoallergenic, and it has a nice density – meaning it will feel good on the wrist. Interestingly enough, platinum can build a patina over time, and that adds to the charm of the piece, especially in the case of a watch that may yield a retro feel.

In fact, when platinum is scratched, the scratch doesn’t really scratch the metal away, it just moves it – forming ridges or bumps that can add to the vintage appeal. Don’t like the patina? No problem, platinum can be polished as often as necessary without eroding. Of course, because of its rarity, platinum watch cases cost more than gold. It may well be worth it, though, because a platinum watch will hold its value for generations.


The Fall Geneva watch auctions held earlier this month by Phillips, in association with Bacs & Russo, have come to a close with the tally totaling $24,081,105. The back-to-back auctions on November 11 and 12 netted the highest result for any of the auction houses this season.

One entire day was devoted to the "Heuer Parade: The Crosthwaite & Gavin Collection." The thematic auction dedicated to Heuer (of TAG Heuer) saw 42 lots come up for sale.

A reunion of sorts for influential Heuer collectors from around the world, the "Heuer Parade" witnessed the sale of every single lot. The sale exceeded the estimate of $1.1 million and accomplished just under $1.5 million. It was a rare "perfect sale," with 100 percent of the lots selling and 100 percent-plus of the estimated value achieved.

Five of the lots sold for more than $50,000 each. At the close of the auction, the last watch to sell was a special TAG Heuer Autavia charity watch created for Jack Heuer's 85th birthday. It sold for $37,500 and all of the proceeds went to the Save the Children charity.

The second  auction held during the two days was the Geneva Watch Auction: SIX, with 151 of the 153 lots being sold, and achieving 99 percent by value. The auction totaled $22.624 million. Patek Phllippe was, as usual, at the top of the earnings with two lots selling for more than $2 million each. Another highlight was an Omega Tourbillon wristwatch that broke the world record for any Omega sold at auction: $1.434 million.

Other interesting standouts included a Vacheron Constantin Ref. 43045 rare limited-edition perpetual calendar watch with moon phase that sold for higher than its estimate at $57,500, and an Audemars Piguet rare stainless steel watch from 1974 that sold for double its estimate at $50,000.

According to Aurel Bacs of Phillips, the interest in pre-owned, vintage watches and buying at auction continues to grow — attesting to the value of investing in new timepieces for future sale.


With Black Friday just a few days away, you may be getting ready to sprint out to the stores to make some purchases. However, before you start shopping, we would like to bring to your attention three important things...

Watches make a wonderful gift. If you are planning on buying a watch, you already know this. But if you are not even thinking of a watch as a gift, this is a good time to consider it. To begin with, giving a watch is like giving the gift of time, and – better yet – it is timeless. With every glance at the wrist, he or she will remember you and the effort you put into finding the right watch to match your loved one’s personality. Also, in today’s world of experiences and narratives, you will have a story to tell when you gift a watch – about all of the things you thought of about that person when making the selection. What's more, a watch may be proudly worn for generations to come.

Consider the person before you buy. Once you have your mind set on a watch, we suggest you take some time to really think about the person you are buying for. What sort of interests or hobbies do they have? Are they sports enthusiasts, hikers, divers, swimmers, runners? Do they like cars, planes, boats? All of these answers will help guide you in the right direction when it comes to buying a watch. Sometimes a person doesn’t have any of those interests, so you may want to consider their style, taste and color preferences. Consider the person’s age, as well. Would they like a simple, easy-to-read dial, or one with some added functions and indications?

Set a budget. Before you get into the store and start your search, have an idea of just how much you want to spend. You can find a great watch for a few hundred dollars, a few thousand dollars or a few hundred thousand dollars.

While we said we were bringing you three things to think about for your holiday shopping list, we want to toss in these two tidbits:

• Be sure to buy from a reputable, authorized source for that watch so that the manufacturer’s warranty is valid.

• You don’t have to go it alone. We have a great, knowledgeable staff that can help you find the perfect gift.


Every year since 2011, the Swiss watch industry has celebrated its best and brightest with the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) awards, which are designed to promote the concept of fine watchmaking. Many would refer to the GPHG awards as the red carpet of the watch industry. This year's event was held last week in Geneva, with awards given to watch brands for watchmaking excellence, innovation and more.

Exactly 72 watches competed in the final phase of the judging, with 15 earning prizes. Those winning watches will be on display this week in Dubai at the Dubai Watch Week, which is open to the public.

Here, we bring you a quick look at those top winners at this 17th award ceremony. We are proud to carry a number of these brands in our store, and we invite to you stop in any time to see the brands and watches that won.


“Petite Aiguille” Watch Prize: Tudor, Black Bay Chrono

Sports Watch Prize: Ulysse Nardin, Marine Regatta

Men’s Watch Prize: Bvlgari, Octo Finissimo Automatic

“Revival” Prize: Longines, The Longines Avigation BigEye

Ladies’ Watch Prize: Chanel, Première Camélia Skeleton

Chronograph Watch Prize: Parmigiani Fleurier, Tonda Chronor Anniversaire

Tourbillon and Escapement Watch Prize: Bvlgari, Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton

Calendar Watch Prize: Greubel Forsey, QP à Équation

Travel Time Watch Prize: Parmigiani Fleurier, Toric Hemisphères Rétrograde

Mechanical Exception Watch Prize: Vacheron Constantin, Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600

Innovation Prize: Zenith, Defy Lab

Ladies’ High-Mech Watch Prize: Van Cleef & Arpels, Lady Arpels Papillon Automate

Jewellery Watch Prize: Chopard, Lotus Blanc Watch

Artistic Crafts Watch Prize: Voutilainen, Aki-No-Kure

“Aiguille d’Or” Prize: Chopard, L.U.C Full Strike

Special Jury Prize: Suzanne Rohr and Anita Porchet


Last week in Geneva, a bi-annual event of significant magnitude in the watch world took place. Only Watch 2017 is a charitable auction wherein top watch brands create a one-of-a-kind watch donated to the cause. All proceeds go to fight Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. This year’s auction by Christie’s witnessed 49 unique watches up for sale. The end result: a total of CHF 10.776 million ($10.7 million) was raised. (The Swiss franc and U.S. dollar are currently trading at approximately equal value).

The top three lots: Patek Phillipe (Lot 12) sold for a hammer price of CHF 6.2 million; F. P. Journe watch (Lot 32) sold for CHF 1.15 million at hammer price; the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual calendar watch (Lot 47) came in third with a final sale/hammer price of CHF 800,000.

This year marked the second time that a Patek Philippe watch emerged as the top lot. The unique titanium Minute Repeater Chronograph Perpetual Calendar Patek Philippe 5208T watch features a unique blue guilloché dial and a specially finished movement coated in dark gray.

At Only Watch, the sale of the F.P. Journe Monopusher Chronograph Rattrapante for CHF 1.15 million set a new mark for the most expensive F.P. Journe watch ever sold at auction. It fetched three times its estimated price. The watch features a new 44mm case made in tantalum and an all-new column-wheel chronograph in 18-karat rose gold.

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Only Watch with unique color combination earned almost 10 times its estimate, when it sold for CHF 800,000. The specially made timepiece features a new color-way in bright yellow (rubber strap) and black ceramic case, bezel and bracelet. It also features a sky blue dial and orange-hued moonphase indications.

Just four other watches topped the $100,000 mark. Lot 6 — a Tudor watch — sold for $350,000; Lot 16, an MB&F watch, sold for $210,000. Hublot's watch (Lot 24) honoring Usain Bolt went for a hammer price of $150,000, and a Breguet (Lot 41) went for $110,000.

We saw a few surprises in the typically termed “affordable watch” category, with a TAG Heuer Luxury Kit Only Watch Special Edition Connected watch taking more than double its anticipated estimate and selling for 38,000 CHF. The Only Watch version is crafted in black case and dial and bright yellow rubber strap and houses the COSC-certified Heuer-02T chronograph tourbillon mechanical module.


When it comes to luxury Swiss-made watches, some brands pull out all the stops when it comes to certifications and seals. But only those located in Geneva can lay claim to the Hallmark of Geneva — also known as the Geneva Seal. Additionally, it is not just good enough to be located in Geneva (otherwise many brands would move there) to get the Seal. It is a designation that is earned and it is the ultimate certification of quality in fine watchmaking.


Essentially, the Geneva Seal — referred to in French as the "Poincon de Genève" — is a quality seal awarded only to watches that have passed an intense inspection by an independent bureau operating under state control in Geneva. The certification is issued by TimeLab – the Geneva Laboratory of Horology and Micro-engineering.

To even be considered as a candidate to submit watches for inspection by the Canton of Geneva, the watch and all of its parts must be manufactured in the canton. Even diamond-set watches must have the diamond setting executed in Geneva. Once that criteria is met, the watch movement must meet 12 additional criteria relating to the quality of its finishing and materials, as well as other factors.

The finished watch is inspected for craftsmanship, precision and other timekeeping values and a certificate is only awarded to watches that offer exceptional decorative finishes, qualifying them as works of art. Additionally, the certificate guarantees the watch is not only of top-quality craftsmanship, but also is chronometrically precise.  If the watch passes, the Seal — featuring the Geneva Coat of Arms — is stamped on the watch movement. It includes a unique code so that owner of the watch can verify the authenticity of the Seal.


It should be noted that not just the visible pieces of the watch movement must be finely finished. Also judged are the screws, pins and tiny parts that are not seen. Because earning the Poincon de Genève is no easy feat, there are just a handful of companies that pursue the Seal.


This is one thing you won't want to forget. Daylight Saving (not savings) Time ends this weekend. At precisely 2 a.m. on Sunday November 5, we set our clocks back by one hour. This fall-back operation gives those who like to sleep in another hour of rest. However, if you are not a night owl, you may want to set your clocks back before you go to bed on Saturday night — lest you forget that you get an extra hour of sleep.

The "spring ahead/fall back" concept of Daylight Saving time may well have been the brainchild of American Benjamin Franklin. In his 1784 essay, "An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light," he suggested people get out of bed earlier in the morning to use the light instead of burning more candles at night. The concept didn't take root.

However, in 1895, New Zealander George Vernon Hudson, who collected insects in his free time, 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. Again, the concept did not take hold.

Then, about 10 years later in 1905, British builder William Willett proposed the idea yet again — suggesting setting clocks ahead in April and switching them back in September. Legislator Robert Pearce thought the idea had merit and introduced a bill to the House of Commons in 1908. The bill met opposition from the local British farmers and it did not pass.

Finally, in 1916, Germany became the first country to implement Daylight Saving Time.

This is also a great time of year to remember to check batteries in smoke detectors and change them, and to perform other annual duties around the house. Oh, and don't forget to change your watches.


Hollywood icon Paul Newman's 1968 Rolex Daytona Watch, which was a gift from his wife and actress Joanne Woodward, sold for $17.75 million, setting a world record at the Phillips Auction titled "Winning Icons — Legendary Watches of the 20th Century."

Notice of the sale was announced back in June and, since then, has been a hot topic of conversation among watch collectors. The opening price of the watch was set at $1 million, but as soon as the auctioneer got the sum out of his mouth, a bidder immediately upped the offer to $10 million.

The watch was a Rolex timepiece that Woodward most likely purchased nearly 50 years ago for somewhere between $200 and $300. At the time, it had an unusual dial that Rolex called "exotic" thanks to the three colors: cream dial, black subdial, red accents.

Woodward was a bit nervous about Newman's fast driving on and off the set. So, sometime during or just after the filming of the movie Winning (in which she and Newman starred), Woodward purchased the watch and had the back engraved with the words: “Drive Carefully" and her signoff "Me."

Bidding on the watch escalated for 12 minutes, culminating in a record for the highest price ever paid for a watch at auction. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Nell Newman Foundation and another portion will to benefit the Newman’s Own Foundation.

All images courtesy of Phillips in Association with Bacs and Russo.