Thursday, June 29, 2006

Rolex Daytona Mechanism Laid Bare

Intrigued by a recent thread on ROLEX and the DAYTONA and not knowing a lot about the innovative chronograph layout employed in the 4130, (yes I live a life with ROLEX filters firmly on) I have been digging around in the European Patent website. For those interested in the full explanation I suggest viewing the European B1 document EP 0772 104 B1 or the US 5793708 available with simple navigation from here:

Note that EP.ESPACENET.COM has finally bowed to pressure and now allows download of complete pdfs (click on 'save full document' in the toolbar). Hooray.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

ETA Movement Grade Differences

ETA movements often come in four (or even five) flavours. It is important to know what you're getting as most manufacturers don't widely make it known to you which they're using. Some are more equal than others so to speak. The five flavours are Economique, Standard, Elaboré, Top and Chronomètre. Various choices of finish are available on all optionally*.

Economique, Standard and Elaboré have pretty much precisely the same components with subtle differences often surrounding shock protection, regulator (standard versus eccentric, etc)*.

However, Elaboré is regulated in three positions to tighter tolerance (see below) than the standard version which is regulated in two positions. The three positions are: dial up, 6H and 9H. Note that this is thus mostly acceptable for a watch worn on the left wrist! Regulation at 9H is not performed for the standard grade.

Top and Chronomètre have precisely the same components and are regulated in five positions (6h, 3H, 9H, FH dial down and CH dial up). Components different to Standard and Elaboré are at least as follows: Balance, balance spring, regulator, shock mounting, pallet stones.

Typical popular ETA movement standards:

Standard (regulated in two positions)
Mean daily rate +/- 12 s/d
Max variation across 5 positions: 30 s
Isochronism (rate after 24H running compared to full wind in dial up or CH): +/- 20 s/d

Elaboré (regulated in three positions)
Mean daily rate +/- 7 s/d
Max variation across 5 positions: 20 s
Isochronism: +/- 15 s/d

Top (regulated in five positions)
Mean daily rate +/- 4 s/d
Max variation across 5 positions: 15 s
Isochronism: +/- 10 s/d

Chronomètre Version to COSC specification.

*You can practice your French looking at an example catalogue of options for one movement shown here for the ubiquitous 2824-2 (pdf file). Also look here (I cannot post the link because it is an https site):

The moral: Contact the manufacurer before you buy to confirm the level of movement. Assuming they are telling the truth.......

Additions and corrections to this are most welcome.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Ultimate Speedmaster (more)

Whilst we are on the subject of Omega, I've long wondered what the Speedmaster would have been like with the arguably more useful and practical diving/timing bezel. (I don't believe a tachymetre was ever any use to an astronaut as it's a bit difficult to find mile marker posts on the way to the moon). Remember, we talked about the Speedmaster 50th anniversary edition for 2007 a while back.

A bezel would have given them 3 separate timing systems, a slow to work out one (hour and minute time), a quick one (bezel) and an accurate and fast one (chrono).

Now being a fan of the ever so easy to read centre minute chronograph, which would surely have been the astronaut's first choice.... I took a picture of the grail Speedy (376.0822) from Chuck's stores (I hope you don't mind Chuck) and bolted it into the Speedy case with Planet Ocean bezel. The result is shown left.

Considering the dross they do produce, I cannot see why Omega cannot make the effort to produce a watch like this. I mean, as Swatch have the keys to Lemania (or whatever B.S. name it has now, they even have access to a centre minute movement i.e. the one that's 'exclusive' to Breguet. Although the Breguet may not be a column wheel design ( --gasp-- whadya mean? all that wedge and no column wheel) it is ready and waiting.

Cristiano Berto was kind enough to remind me that, of course, a timing bezel had appeared before on a prototype (Right). This has been documented at length by the hard working Eric So on his Omega site.

Meanwhile on TZ, tooexistential (Curtis) has been busy with PS and produced an array of alternatives involving 24 H GMT hands and so on, and my favourite is perhaps the one combining both bezel AND tachy (below).

What is stopping Omega producing any of these is beyond my ken.
If only omega would play a bit with ideas like these rather than all the simple dial modifications in their Ltd Ed watches.
Says Curtis. Could not agree more and there's money waiting for this one:

Except I think we can go some steps further: we could add the date at 4 or 6 o'clock a la Broad Arrow. And add the curved bracelet. Oh, and did I mention Co-axial? So that's pretty much all the functions you need and all without looking like a Citizen SkyHawk thingy. Good job Curtis. So come on Omega. Oh, wait what's this?.....


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Return of the Pumpkin - ver 3.0

The Pumpkin is back! Yes! I was so pleased to discover buried in the SIHH/Basel material, Glycine have remade the sought after SST. It's available in a few other colours, and of them, I like the blue, but perhaps the original is the best. Look right and you can just make out the black/grey vertical split between the left and right sides of the dial.

Now, there are two versions: a full blown true 24h version (no not the D24) and the 12h version (shown right). However, in all honesty the 24h may be the purist's choice, but having been programmed from birth to read a normal 12 hour dial in a nanosecond, why fight it? (More on this issue here.) There is also a subtle but important difference between the 12h and 24h versions. The 12h version can track three timezones, but the true 24h can only track two. Why? because the 12H has a separate red GMT hand (one rev per 24h) which the 24H lacks (probably to differentiate it from the D24). Hence, two reasons to get the 12h version - more readable AND with more function.

So, the watch above right reads 10.10 either a.m. or p.m. (you will know which) by its mainhands not 20:10H and 10:10H by the GMT hand - rotate the 24h bezel and bingo, the third timezone is obtained. So, in reality you can track three different timezones perhaps arguably just as easily as the D24 but with a more traditional looking dial.

Despite a solid caseback, Glycine go the trouble to provide their ETA movement in Elaboré spec. You won't see the decoration, but the movement is regulated to a tighter tolerance than the Standard ETA movement.

I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Glycine, offering great value and an authenticity lacking in so many others' offerings. Definitely not cynical marketing and if a bit large, (it's 51.5 mm across the lugs which is just my limit...) this one might even fit me, especially as they have been careful to keep the thickness down and the lugs are curved back to follow one's wrist. Blue or traditional? Hmmmm, but definitely the 12h.

Friday, June 02, 2006

How to make a mint making a Swiss Watch

Cash in on people's innocence and ignorance of horology.
  1. Surf around and identify a defunct target brand preferably with a somewhat fascinating history or USP. I didn't realise how many dormant Swiss watch brands there are that can be purchased for a modest fee and can give you an instant history for whatever you decide to make.
  2. Purchase the rights to the dormant brand. If possible identify existing family/former company owners and get their buy in to your proposal to resurrect it for a cut by involving them in the marketing. It's a really nice touch.
  3. Identify a range of cheap Swiss movements to apply (see 5).
  4. Package it. And as the brand owner you can subcontract the entire process – there are plenty of case makers, dial makers etc and if the Swiss won't play you can make it all in China...
  5. Leverage 'Swiss Made.' Maximise the opportunity given by the lax definition (see 3).
  6. Trade on the internet officially – in fact make it the only method of purchase. 'Limited editions' always sell well and especially if you offer it at a discount despite being the only source.....
  7. Cultivate the gullible/ignorant via a well 'guided' forum. It is useful to drop misleading hints that your watches are comparable to true high end products.
  8. If you really have no shame, it helps to just lie.
As Chris said the other day:
What brands have existed uninterrupted for at least say 50 years, and at no time existed solely as an asset in a portfolio in someone’s file cabinet?
Truly, a register of these would be a great resource. You have been warned.