Wempe Watch Blog

Wempe Watch Blog
2017-10-17

Late last month in Evanston, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, a new museum of rare timepieces and inspirational stained glass opened to the public. The Halim Time & Glass Museum features one of the most comprehensive timepiece collections, with approximately 1,100 pieces on display. The museum also showcases faithfully restored 19th century stained glass works of art.

The collection of extraordinarily rare timepieces consists of clocks from all over the world. The Museum was founded by Cameel Halim, who — along with his family — own most of these pieces as part of their personal passion.

The watch collection is so extensive that the museum has hired two full-time clockmakers, who are skilled in repair and restoration. They are also entrusted to keep the clocks wound and running.

The earliest piece in the museum’s collection is an Egyptian sundial. There is also a room dedicated to the imperial Chinese clocks and an English room with important British clocks made by such masters as Thomas Tompion and George Graham, among others. There is also a nice collection of American clocks that details the history of how U.S. clockmakers led advances in mass manufacturing in the early 1800s.

Special pieces include a clock made for Napoleon, an elephant clock from 1750 said to have been in the summer palace of Russian empress Catherine the Great, and a German longcase clock from 1785 that contains a dulcimer and a pipe organ. It is one of just eight of its kind known to exist in the world.

So, if you find yourself in Chicago, you may want to carve out a little extra time for a visit to this new museum.

Credits: All images courtesy of the HALIM TIME AND GLASS MUSEUM.

2017-10-12

With Halloween around the corner, some of you may be considering heading to Salem, Mass., for a little witch hunt. If so, you may want to plan a side trip between October 26 and 28th to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to see an exhibition sponsored by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC). The presentation is called "HOROLOGY IN ART."

It is interesting to note that since the 13th century, when clocks and mechanical timekeeping came into vogue, famous artists such has Titian, Jamie Wyeth, Brueghel and Dali have regularly portrayed timepieces and the subject of time in their works.

The NAWCC, in its almost 75 years of existence, has a membership of more than 12,000 watch lovers and experts from around the world. Some of those have studied the relationship between time and art — and this is the subject of the NAWCC's annual educational conference.

The 2017 symposium of "Horology and Art" will bring together 18 experts, including art historians, curators, professors, scholars and horologists, each of whom will present different aspects of the topic throughout the three-day event.

The programs begin on October 26th and will be presented at the Boston MFA’s Alfond Auditorium. Three days of museum admissions are included with full registrations. There will be a concluding dinner banquet at the Harvard Club of Boston. For more information and to register, visit http://www.horologyinart.com.

Credits: Images courtesy NAWCC: 1994 Jamie Wyeth, Orca Bates; c1850 Erastus Salisbury Field, Skinner 2013.

2017-10-05

If you are a watch lover planning a trip to New York City in mid-October, you won't want to miss one of the best events/watch shows happening in the Big Apple. On October 13 and 14, the WatchTime New York show takes place at Gotham Hall. Here, approximately 20 top brands are exhibiting their newest watches that were unveiled to the world earlier this year in Switzerland. Additionally, on Saturday the 14th, there are a host of panel discussions going on.

There is a pre-show panel to Meet the Watchmaking Stars, which will feature top watchmakers from Switzerland and America discussing how they started their careers in this field. Slated for later in the day is panel of watch experts from the publishing and retail fields, as well as another event called "Meet the Brand Executives." An historical exhibit will be on location, and there will be a review of all of the James Bond Watches — six decades worth — presented by WatchTime. The full-day event ticket costs $39, and you can register at Watchtimenewyork.com.

It should be noted that no watches are bought/sold at this show. It is geared for getting a closer look at some of the finest brands, as well as for meeting watch collectors, watch makers and executives in the industry.

2017-10-03

Here we are once again to remind you that watches — at least the right ones — can be incredible investments. In the recent Sotheby's London Fine Timepieces auction, a single pocket watch became the most valuable English watch (made in England by an English watchmaker) ever sold at auction. The "Space Travellers" watch conceived by famed watchmaker George Daniels sold for $4.3 million — twice the price it achieved when it was auctioned in 2012.

For those who may not know of George Daniels, he is one of the 20th century's great watchmaking minds. Born in 1926 and having died just six years ago in 2011, Daniels is the inventor of the revolutionary co-axial escapement, which he developed in the 1970s. Omega was the first brand to utilize and implement the co-axial escapement in its watches, and worked very closely with the inventor.

The Space Travellers watch that sold at auction was crafted circa 1982 and was actually a replica of an earlier Space Travellers watch that Daniels made and sold to a collector. The auction watch is crafted in 18-karat yellow gold and its chronograph movement houses Daniel's independent double-wheel escapement. One of only two ever made in this style with a chronograph function, the watch is said to honor the 1969 moon landing, and Daniels supposedly described it as a watch you would need on a tour of Mars. Four bidders clamored for the watch, which sold within 10 minutes of going up for bid.

Just a little more proof that watches of substance can one day fetch very high prices.

2017-09-21

Each season the Pantone Color Institute evaluates collections from the top fashion designers at New York Fashion Week and determines the key colors of the next season — reporting them in The PANTONE Fashion Color Report. Generally, the Institute highlights the top 10 colors for men’s and women’s fashions and accessories.

This fall's color palette runs the gamut from pale shades of pink and gray to blue, green, and burgundy — and you can expect to see those colors on watch straps, as well. Hues include Grenadine red, tawny Autumn Maple, pink Ballet Slipper, bright Marina blue and classic autumnal shades of Navy Peony, Neutral Gray, Butterum and Tawny Port.

2017-09-14

This year marks the 17th edition of the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Geneve — a top watch awards event. An expert jury has pre-selected 72 watches that will vie for the winning prize in each category. The winners will be announced at a gala affair in Geneva on November 8, 2017.

Earlier this year, the jury, consisting of 28 multi-disciplinary experts from around the world, selected six watches to compete in each of the 12 categories. Categories include Ladies watches, Ladies High-Mech, Men's, Chronographs, Calendars, Artistic Crafts and more. In addition to the categories, there are some other prizes being offered — for a total of 15 — including the prestigious “Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix.

Leading up to the final awards ceremony, there will be a traveling exhibition of the 72 watches that will tour to Milan in October at the Palazzo Clerici, in partnership with BMW. They will continue to Mexico, where they will be shown at the retail location of Berger Joyeros before headlining at the SIAR - Salón Internacional Alta Relojería exhibition.

The watches will travel to Taipei, and then on to Geneva, where they will be on exhibit from November 1 to 12 at the Museum of Art and History (MAH). The winning watches will make a final trip Dubai, where they will be exhibited during Dubai Watch Week organized by Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons.

We are happy to carry many of the brands that have made it to the final selection, and will bring news of the winners in November.

Credits: Photos courtesy of GPHG.org.
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.

2017-07-13

We say it time and again, a good watch holds its value — not just for a few years, but easily for a century or longer. Recent auctions are a prime example. One auction that was held by Boston-based RR Auction witnessed the sale of items owned by notorious gangster Al Capone.

A diamond-studded, unusually shaped pocket watch that had belonged to Prohibition-era mob boss sold for an impressive $84,375. The timepiece was a triangular platinum-cased watch with cushioned corners. It was made by Illinois Watch Company and the bezel was set with 72 diamonds. The case back reveals the movement within and has the initials AC engraved on it. The watch was sold with its original 12-inch watch chain made in 14-karat white gold.

Interestingly, Capone had incredible style, and was often seen wearing fedoras, tailored suits, the best shoes and even jewelry. The watch was a  natural fit. The watch was accompanied by a letter of provenance from Capone's great grandson. So, hold on to those watches and continue to look for special pieces that will bring enjoyment and value for decades to come.

It is fun to note that at the same auction, a three-headed snake ring owned by Bonnie Parker (of the famed Bonnie and Clyde duo) sold for $25,000, and Capone's hand-written musical manuscript (Humoresque) that Capone penned while in Alcatraz sold for $18,750.

2017-06-13

With Father's Day around the corner, we think it is a good time to take a look at a gift that will track time for him until the year 2100 (at least): a perpetual calendar watch. Essentially, a perpetual calendar watch is a mechanical timepiece that tracks a wealth of calendar information and properly displays it. That information typically includes day of the week, date of the month, leap years and moon phases.

The most important thing to understand about a perpetual calendar watch is that the mechanics inside the watch accurately and automatically track and portray the exact date of the month, whether the month has 28, 30 or 31 days in it. It even accounts for leap year.

Most are built to track time until the year 2100, when they will need to be opened and readjusted by a watchmaker (ideally on March 1) because in the year 2100, we will be skipping our regularly scheduled leap year. Leap years occur every four years, with the exception of century years. There is an exception to the exception, however. If the century year can be divided by 400 (as in 2000), it remains a leap year.

Perpetual calendars are extremely complex and typically hold hundreds of tiny mechanical parts inside. Among those parts are date, day and month wheels, and, in the case of a moon phase indication, a specially made disk. Because of the extensive work that goes into building one, a perpetual calendar watch generally commands higher prices, but these are very popular watches today thanks to the useful functions and classic look. Each watch brand that offers a perpetual calendar has a slightly different design or display. We invite you in to take a look at our perpetual calendars perfect for Father's Day.

2017-05-18

Jackie Kennedy © Getty Images courtesy of Christie's Auction House

Christie's Auction House has announced that at its upcoming June 21 New York Rare Watches and American Icons Sale it will put up for auction a watch owned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The Cartier Tank watch, which the former First Lady wore for years and can be seen in many photos of her, is estimated to sell for between $60,000 and $120,000.

Apparently the watch was a gift from her brother-in-law Prince Stanislaw “Stas” Radziwill in 1963 and has an engraving on the caseback: "Stas to Jackie 23 Feb. 63 2:05 AM to 9:35 PM.” The 2:05 a.m. to 9:35 p.m. engraving references the beginning and end times of the 50-mile hike that took place in Palm Beach in 1963. The hikes were part of Kennedy's concept for people to get healthy.

Making the lot even more exciting is the fact that it is being sold with an original painting by Jackie in 1963 as a gift for Radziwill also commemorating the hike and with the same date and times on it. Her painting also features a handwritten note to Radziwill: "Jackie to Stas with love and admiration."

The watch and painting are being put up for sale via Christie's from an anonymous donor who says a portion of the proceeds will go to the National Endowment for the Arts.

All photos courtesy of Christie's Auction House.