Sunday, October 30, 2005

More Bitchin' from The Kitchen: IWC 80110 Durability ?

Let's set the scene. The ubiquitous Valjoux (ETA) 7750, which is, one way or another, the base of the IWC 80110, uses a tilting pinion strategy to operate the chronograph centre seconds. The tilting pinion in the 7750, # 8086 in the schematic below, is carried by the tilting pinion arm and is continuously driven by the fourth wheel (# 224). As the chronograph function is only designed for occasional use, the lack of jewels present in this driveline to provide centre seconds (# 8000) is not an issue.

Sadly, the IWC 80110 use the same 'nasty' design for the indirect centre seconds via pinion transfer as described above as can be seen here. The key issue is that in the 80110, the pinion is fixed (as opposed to tilting in the 7750), and rotating several times a minute, (8 so I'm told), forever. (Peter CDE's article showed the whole movement.) So, have IWC at least jewelled the bearings?

So, it looks like, "Yes," but with a caveat. For comparison here is the kind of thing IWC have avoided:

Above, is a standard 7750 pinion carrying arm and the jewelless bearing - eughhhh. I mean imagine spending $7200 and getting that...... Fortunately IWC have done the right thing and jewelled the transfer pinion top and bottom and the centre seconds wheel is jewelled at the top. What is not clear is whether it is jewelled at the bottom or retains the standard 7750 plastic bearing shown below:

Several years ago, Michael Friedberg (official IWC forum moderator) asked the technical director at IWC if the JLC-base in the Mark XII was superior to the ETA base in the Mark XV because the JLC movement had more jewels. He responded,
"...jeweling is not necessarily better --sometime they cracked and the design issues were far more complicated than that. ......metal bearings sometimes (but not always) were sturdier and that it often didn't matter since they would be replaced during routine servicing."

Hmmm, metal bearings make sense (and such bushes are used by some manufacturers) in areas of high torque load and low speed, but with very low torque levels and high rotational speeds (in the parts we're referring to, i.e. counting seconds) we want low friction and hard wearing; the properties provided by ruby.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Guide to Buying a Watch Part 2

Well we covered the basics here. Now for the next stage, there is no better sage advice than that from Ludwig. Unfortunately My Descent Into Hell - The Mind of a Watch Addict by Ludwig seems to have disappeared. So here are his "Lessons learned" for those that missed it.

  1. Buy one watch that you really like, then never, ever read TimeZone, or any watch publications, again. This will save you a fortune. Especially to be avoided are the watch review, brand forum, and chatroom areas of TimeZone - the WIS contagion spreads from here... If you learn only one thing from my tale of woe, learn this! Turn back while you can.
  2. Just buy that Lange (or Patek, or Rolex, or Vacheron, or whatever your personal Grand Ultimate Fetish Object is) first, and save yourself some agony and expense. Once you've gotten The Best, you may be able to resist a lot of impulse purchases, and avoid cluttering up your house with watchwinders, cases, and so on.
  3. Never buy a watch "instead" of the one you really want. You'll eventually end up getting the object of your desire anyway, and then you'll be stuck with an extra watch (or four).
  4. Never buy a watch just because the price seems insanely good. If you don't end up ever wearing it, you'd have saved even more money if you hadn't bought the darn thing in the first place. Corollary - never buy a low-end watch just because "that's darn good value for the money" if you already have, or desire, higher-end versions of the same sort of watch - you'll end up never wearing the cheapie, and it'll clutter up the place. Buying a low-end watch as a beater is fine, but be careful with this rationalization - how many beaters do you really need?
  5. Furthermore, how many chronographs do you really need? One for dress, one for cooking/BBQing, and one for abuse. Anything more, and some will just rot in your watch-case.
  6. If you decide that you like a certain style of watch, say "military-style", it is not necessary to own every single example of the style. Take your time, and pick one or two good ones - you can only wear one at a time anyways (except at TZ lunches).
  7. Whenever you find yourself thinking "Hey, I've got a t-shirt that'd look really good with that watch over there...", hand your checkbook and wallet to someone trusted, and run, do not walk, for the door, and head for the Imelda Marcos Impulse Shopping Treatment Center. You need help. Corollary - it is far cheaper to buy a new belt that matches a watch you already own, than the other way around...
  8. If you find yourself making up bogus milestones as excuses to purchase a new watch, you also need help. "Hey, it's St. Vincent's Day in Swaziland! Let's celebrate!" is not a sufficient reason to buy that repeater you've always wanted...
  9. If you need a fix, think vintage. There are a lot of inexpensive vintage watches out there in great shape with really cool movements, and nifty features. With the money you'd waste on only a few mistaken purchases of NIB timepieces, you could assemble a killer vintage collection. And you'll find that often the design and craftsmanship are superior to, and unobtainable in, modern watches... (Mind you, I've never managed to follow this advice, but it sounds good...)
  10. Another solution when you hunger for a new watch - treat one of your current watches to a new strap. Often, a watch that has not been getting much time on your wrist is just begging for a new strap in a different style. It's just like getting a new watch, but somewhat cheaper.
  11. You don't need to keep everything on a watch winder, or wind all of your handwound watches every day. This way lies madness (and watch winders strewn about your house). Get a winder or two for your current commonly-worn rotation, and don't worry. Your changing tastes/needs from month to month will likely insure that your watches get worn often enough to not get gummed up. If not, consider selling the unworn, lonely pieces languishing in your collection to some other poor soul. Watches should be worn, and not sit in vaults, sadly spinning away on winders.
  12. If offered a choice, always buy the watch with the bracelet. You can always find a nice strap later if you change your mind, but it tends to be expensive, and a bother, to find a proper bracelet after the fact.
  13. Avoid developing an addiction to pocket-watches. You won't ever carry one with you, no matter how good your intentions, except maybe to the opera. Get one really nice one, and pat yourself on the back. This makes an excellent and economical way to get the urge for a minute repeater out of your system too...
  14. Hold out for a 35% discount, minimum. Don't be in a rush to buy. If you look around, and bide your time, you can find almost any watch at a decent price, even the ever-elusive Portugueser...
  15. Credit cards are not your friend. Pay cash, so you feel the pain right away. This method often kills the impulse purchase dead in its tracks.
  16. Diamonds are not a watch's best friend... Especially on a Breitling Emergency...

Monday, October 24, 2005

More on AMVOX-2 (Chrono Alarm?)

This just in from our garbage man in La Vallée de Joux.

So, pushers in the bezel then? Hmmm, makes sense - a sleak solution to combat the need for an alarm crown with chrono pushers. But how to manage the dial I wonder? With chrono subdials in the middle, it'll lose the 'Memovox' centre ? Now that would be a shame. So then maybe it reverts to a hand for alarm time indication. Unless...... We'll see.

Meanwhile, what's next? AMVOX-3? Well, insatiable appetite as ever, Velociphile's still waiting for the JLC traveller's watch; think Geographic + Memovox. We talked about this back in Sept 04... even just a GMT + alarm would do....

But, probably not an AMVOX tagged product then, I fear, instead it will be 'Extreme' genre, but no need for me, just sauna/hot tub resistant is fine on business....

Oh, and of course by then a whopping 48 mm! Just kidding.....


Sunday, October 23, 2005

AMVOX2 Breaks Cover

in four weeks or so on the front cover of QP magazine. (Well, unless there are any previews courtesy of Jaw of The PuristS beforehand.)
"Issue 16 coming soon! Cover star will be Jaeger-LeCoultre's new Amvox2 – the second installment of the Le Sentier manufacture's ongoing partnership with Aston Martin. Watch this space for exclusive preview images!"
We can't wait..... I mean, what could it be? Chrono alarm? The obvious combo as **Vox* implies alarm and the AM*** is crying out, nay begging, for a chronograph. So, finally, one may obtain lap times in your DB9, Vanquish or Vantage....

Hmmmm, thinking out loud here....., So a kind of Lange double split function, but, hmmm maybe a foudroyante with flyback to allow timing from zero but allowing reading of the former lap time.... now that would be clever..... And oooh what with Lange under Richemont's roof. Hmmm, chrono and alarm together - it's a little bit Fortis? Shame.

And of course a pumped up unwearable 46mm (AMVOX1 42mm, AMVOX R-Alarm 44mm.......)

We shall see.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Still waiting for Co-Axial in the Omega Speedmaster

Dear Omega,

When can we expect



Strange isn't it, how you can buy one of these

Hmmm, not bad, bracelet harking back to the past, but lugs too prominent

or these

Nope, sorry....

or even one of these

Yikes! Please stop now Velociphile!

We already looked at 50th Anniversary Speedmasters specification. But on reflection I don't think they'll do those things. The most obviously overlooked marketing opportunity for 2007 is stuffing the Cal 3313 in the current Speedy case - and I'm afraid that's what we'll get.....

Somehow some kind of trojan keeps putting pictures of Cinders at the bottom of every Omega blog....

I have to apologise, can't seem to fix this bug, but wait, where's your watch Cinders? Oh right, problems with your 3313. Uh huh, back at the dealers. Hmmmm, better let Chuck know.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Guide to Buying a Watch

Honest and nice people do find this quite tough and usually feel awkward about the deal process. I think in the end it boils down to a few things, in no particular order:
  1. Know your target. Know the bottom line cheapest price in your country, and rest of world from greys (and then take off 10%).
  2. Persistence -Agree with all the dealer's points whining about shop rent, "last one available" nonsense or a "special price for today" - whatever. Just nod sagely, but don't budge from your view; preferably based on well researched facts from '1'.
  3. Pitch several dealers against each other if possible.
  4. Patience. Say less, do not fill silences in the conversation. The fact that you haven't walked away signals you are still interested.
  5. Eye contact - don't talk away from them and don't let them talk away from you.
  6. Politeness - keep it friendly, signal your knowledge but don't overemphasise it.
  7. Deal with the organ grinder not the monkey (no shop assistants thanks, just the boss)
  8. Dealers who are their own boss, not a shop chain, respond better.
  9. Appear serious - wear a watch of similar value to the one you're going to buy.
  10. "I can buy it now, today for cash" - then back off if needed once the deal is struck.
  11. Try on the interest in two watches; that you want to buy both, they'll want to sell you both, but back off to one after the price is struck.
  12. Make your mind up about how you feel about AD and Grey. Do the maths - is the difference more or less than the cost of a repair?
  13. Deal alone, no partners, friends or whatever along for the ride....
  14. Be prepared to walk away - there is ALWAYS another deal somewhere else.
I just cannot justify in my mind setting fire to even a $1000 for the pleasure of a happy dealer. Of course if the watch hasn't hit the grey channels yet, or is oversubscribed, then that's a different matter. But it doesn't appear you have to pay list for anything. Go for the throat!

And finally, two rock solid recommendations. These guys are cheaper new than some 2ndhand sellers.....the best kept open secret in the WIS community, they'll also manage the declared value for customs purposes -

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Coming Soon, High Beat Co-axial?

Engineers speak about the ‘Q’ of an oscillator; and the higher, the better. In the case of a mechanical watch, the oscillator is the balance wheel/spring combination. A good way of thinking about 'Q' is that it is the resistance of the oscillator to resonate other than at its tuned frequency when disturbed by something; from excitation from an outside force or beat by beat changes in friction at the pallet - anything.

Zenith remains, but other former 36,000 vph disciples include AS, Citizen, ETA, Favre-Leuba, Girard-Perregaux, Mido, Movado, Ulysse Nardin, Zenith, and Zodiac

In the case of balance wheel/spring, Q is proportional to the balance inertia and to the frequency of oscillation cubed! Thus Q rises very, VERY rapidly with increasing beat rate.

OK, so what does this have to do with watch accuracy? Well, it's less to do with tests in static positions and more to do with real use. A watch is subject to movement and shocks, all of which contain a wealth of frequencies. These outside frequencies are trying to excite the balance/spring oscillator. The higher the frequency of the oscillator, the less likely it is that an outside force’s frequency will fall within the resonant range of the oscillator and disturb its natural oscillation.

The motions of your hand, impacts to the watch, etc. are generally low frequency perturbations. An oscillator with a high Q and a high natural frequency will be less affected by these perturbations than an oscillator with the same Q but a lower frequency because the perturbations will be closer to its natural frequency. Thus a higher frequency watch should perform more accurately in real use.
"Studies have established that the rotational physical activity of our wrists is concentrated at frequencies below 3 Hz and the bulk well below 2 Hz. However, the total spectrum does extend into higher frequencies with rapidly falling amplitude."
Hence, a watch balance wheel operating at 2.5 Hz (18,000 vph) will be subjected to some amount of disturbance from the motions of our wrists. A modern movement operating at 4 Hz (28,800 vph) will be far less sensitive to the concentration of low-frequency components delivered by the wrist and the tiny residual components at or near 4 Hz. 5 Hz (36,000 vph) movements should do even better.

Another critical factor in the increased accuracy of high beat escapements has to do with the isochronism improvement they enjoy.
"Favre Leube, Girard Perregaux, Zodiac and Zenith (at least) did some extensive experiments with high beat (36,000 vph) watches back in the late 60s/early 70s and concluded that high beat balances experience a decreased drop in amplitude both between vertical and horizontal positions and over 24 hours. This means that a high beat watch is more likely to have more consistent rate between the vertical and horizontal positions and over 24 hours they suffer less amplitude drop over 24 hours making them more isochronous as well."
There are lubrication issues that are more or less specific to high-beat watches as well. I believe it is widely accepted that a PTFE based fixative such as Epilame must be used on the pallet stones and/or escape wheel teeth simply to keep the lubrication from being thrown off. Zenith stands alone today (as far as I know) as the only manufacturer producing a 36,000 vph movement with conventional technology and religious adherence to their maintenance schedule is advised to avoid premature wear. Although a fast beat movement may not need more frequent servicing than a slower beat movement, it will be less tolerant of lubrication failure (due to ageing, dissipation, etc.) Apart from Zenith, interest in 36,ooo vph died out in the mid 70s.

To me it is clear that the advent of either silcon/ruby or Diapal systems could be beneficial to unlocking the widespread use of high beat movements. Of course the ultimate choice would probably be to devise a co-axial version with its 'low rubbing' geometry.

AMVOX 2 coming soon

So we hear that AMVOX2 is coming soon.

Let's just pray it looks (and functions) like this:

Thursday, October 13, 2005

But, Brave Zodiac Bit the Dust!

In my research on high beat movements I discovered Zodiac. Another company that pursued the 36,000 vph track towards accuracy. Only Zenith today follows this path with their impressive 'El Primero' movement (but you knew that already). However, they're more interesting to me, especially in light of all our recent discussions on accuracy and its value, because they were prepared to put their balls on the block by warranting their accuracy. Not only that, it's to an amazing minute a month or free regulation for a year (see the small print in the ad below).

Imagine one of our favourite brands standing behind +/- 2s/day today. Why not?

Butch keeps the Zodiac faith here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Patek 5296 or 5070 too rich, try these?

Little known and unsung hero Klaus Jakob rescues old hand assembled calibres from dusty corners of Switzerland like the Venus 175, Valjoux 23 and Unitas 6300 and puts them in classic styled cases from SUG (case makers for Sinn). Instead of a Patek 5296, you could always save up for one of these instead from his brand Jacques Etoile.

Or if you like the look of a vintage Vacheron chrono or PP 5070, but haven't got the wedge, try finding one of these. Preferably with an updated Venus 175 column wheel movement. (If you're desperate, there's another cheaper one with a Valjoux 7750 - euwwww. I'll draw the line there.)

And to top it off, 100m W.R. I like this guy!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Hidden Consequence of Growing Watch Sizes

Omega Blogger weighed his:

The Lardtastic 45 Planet Ocean.
Click on the picture to go to OmegaBlogger's P.O. archives.

but it's not until you get it in your hands that you realise a key problem with the current trend of growing watch diameters. Fashion arguments aside, one thing's for sure: for a given shape, the mass goes up with the cube of the diameter. That's a steep effect; 8% on diameter is 25% on mass. The 42 Planet Ocean is heavy enough but the 45.5 P.O. is ridiculous. Unless you have the bracelet on fusion generating levels of pressure on your wrist it just slides about like a polymer suitcase in the back of a Pontiac (yes I'm still in the US). Clearly new lower density materials or construction techniques are required. I wonder when any of the manufacturers are going to do anything about it. How about Titanium for a start........?