Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Watchrap 2.0 - MIA or RIP

And so I forlornly click on my link for Watchrap 2.0 and it repeats the same depressing message. "Watchrap is closed until further notice." And then, I always click on my saved login details, just in case, in hope....... "No access privilege groups are currently available." I guess only 'The 38' or so of us out there have even noticed or are concerned. I'm sure most have contacted TM, as I have, only to hear the grave news that the code of silence was broken - that what happens in Watchrap stays in Watchrap. Thus Watchrap 2.0 has been suspended until it can determined how to operate it successfully; maybe never to reopen. So we wait.

Watchrap was the last place on earth where one could discuss the finer points of everything from aesthetics to the nuances of drawing and locking angles of escapements without the incessant noisy drivel that plagues nigh on every other watch site. Oft accused of elitism, it was in fact a most inclusive watch discussion board if you gave it a chance.

It is a cliche but appropriate to state that you don't realise you're living in a golden age until it has passed and we became complacent and took Watchrap for granted. It could only get better couldn't it? And then suddenly -disaster- the last oasis of horology was taken from us.

Monday, November 03, 2008

SIHH 2009 - JLC Navy SEAL Diver

So what could it be? Well, having already 'done' Polaris and knowing there isn't enough space for three crowns with full compression keys; (half keys were adopted on the chronograph for this reason.)  How about they relaunch the Memovox Deep Sea Alarm? But with two changes:
1 Rotating conventional diving bezel - like the current JLC diver.  Good idea.
2 Ruin yet another otherwise good looking JLC watch with the stupid compression keys.  Bad idea.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

JLC Polaris - Final Comment

Buried down in the comments on the last Polaris article, you will find something I received this morning from 'Yves'.  I assume this to be from JLC France head Yves Meylan but who knows.....

Nobody ever discredited your 2004 inspiration; it was simply not the right timing for the watch, for JLC and for the market.

Your inspiration was based on a JLC watch that is part of JLC patrimony, so even if your designs were published in 2004, nonetheless this piece is propriety of JLC

The 3 people that made this idea a project have never claimed to be the owner of any designs and material. However, extensive researches and works were carried to be in details as precise as possible to the original versions.

The idea of re-introducing a Polaris was made due to several converging circumstances (growing appreciation of Vintage watches, Heritage Gallery, JLC diving patrimony etc…) with respect to managing JLC marketing, budget and product development strategy, thus leading to further analysis and ending in a triumphant project.

You may feel let down, but all it falls down to, at the time you never presented a satisfactory proposal outlining the benefits and or motivations which could have led to a proposed project.

In the end all that matters is that all watches and Polaris enthusiasts are given an opportunity to acquire an accurate re-edition of a legendary JLC piece.

You ought to know that your 2004 inspiration and support was noted!

Don’t be left out, get one too ;-)

Yves, JLC,  Thanks very much for your visit here.  Well you know I didn't think it was possible to submit a proposal directly to JLC.  It's not my job.  In fact, in 2004, as I said above, I had the response from Mr Lambert that "JLC don't repeat themselves."  Thus, I thought my hopes were lost.  But afterall, here we are with the Polaris finally arriving and that, as you say, is the most important thing.    

Chapeau à tout le monde à JLC.


Monday, October 27, 2008


Some of you may be familiar with the JLC watchmaking game, well it's not quite the same but, ETA now offer a fabulous training service with step by steps of taking your favourite ETA movement apart and putting it back together.  Go to ETA.CH and find the Training Centre and hit ETA SWISSL@B

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jaeger LeCoultre Ellipse Isometer Escapement

There are some great drawings and even a sectional view in the patent document.

All looks very close to ideas from 1876 and 1889 though.

Not self starting as far as I can tell and I'm still not seeing how part 13 provides shock proofing.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Saturday, April 05, 2008

JLC Polaris Re-Edition - Lost Opportunity

Say Rolex to a non WIS and they might say Submariner or Daytona.  Say Omega and they might say Moonwatch, Speedmaster or Seamaster.  Breitling - Navitimer and so on. Most companies would kill to get this kind of identification of their brand.  Say Jaeger to most and you'll get a blank look, maybe they might just know Reverso, but that's probably about it.

Rightly or wrongly 'Polaris,' at least among WIS, is now as heavily identified with the JLC Brand as the Submariner with Rolex or Speedmaster with Omega.  It's only a short step to make it a public icon - so why the limited re-issue? JLC should make it a serial piece.

My interest in getting JLC to re-issue Polaris is well documented and well known. Having been told 'no-way' by no less than the top of JLC and that JLC doesn't repeat itself, I am happy they have relented on this.  It's been a long journey.... and we're finally here. 

For some reason I'm just not as excited as I thought I would be (maybe it's because there is no '63 version above). Let's try to answer the question people have been asking me, like I'm some kind of Polaris expert, is which one do I get?!

Of course, in so far as the movements will be modern and equivalent and with '65, '68 and Paris Boutique versions (apparently awarded for getting JLC to go ahead with the Polaris re-issue..... errrr is that some kind of joke?) to choose from, it encourages an 'authenticity' and aesthetic review rather than a technical one.

Nothwithstanding the ongoing debates of what JLC did exactly make 40+ years ago (hands and dials) they remain somewhat moot when the choice implied is now or never.  As to the 65/68 debate, frankly from what I've seen of the protos, I'm amazed and they got the look perfectly right. Forget the backs it's all about the look and the discrepancies beween the originals and re-issues in the dial execution are small.

One thing of interest though, the deliberate avoidance by JLC of sapphire crystal is almost too inspired to be believed and I echo Dario who considers this may be to JLC's detriment for 'mainstream' sales. This attention to such a subtle detail lost on 99.9% of the buying public makes it all the more odd that they've got the date window cutting the alarm ring is unforgiveable - so I hear a fix is in the offing, but why was this error ever made?

So which one?  For me, I would go for a 68, just don't expect it to be an investment.

Except I won't be. One more for you then........ Why? Well, with the cachet of Polaris better established in the brand DNA of JLC after and somewhat in spite of the AMVOX debacle, let's just say you can expect more Polaris 'inspired' pieces so maybe you shouldn't blow your wad yet.  

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Velociphile’s Watch Movement Challenge

Can anybody make it?

After many hours in the laboratory, the concept of the required mechanical oscillator is clear. We need to improve the 'Q' factor and yet preferably have a system capable of being tolerant to wrist movement. The answer lies in the form of running a low inertia balance wheel with an ultra high speed escapement. Hitherto impossible, the solution arises from the adoption of a predominantly co-axial escapement combined with silicon/ruby parts giving both stability, low friction and particularly low inertia of the pallet fork. I then decided on the superclock philosophy of a free balance only concerned with keeping time rather than releasing the escapement.

With spring barrels similar to those now appearing in most long duration watches, three days running can be achieved with a balance wheel from a typical modern 8 day movement (around 4 mg cm2) oscillating at 43200 vph.

The master balance sits next to the slave. The master balance is entirely free and has no function to perform such as counting or releasing an escapement. It oscillates in solitary spendor preferabl in a vacuum. It would eventually come to rest of course as there is no perpetual motion, and therefore it must receive an impulse to keep it in motion. This is delivered every thirty seconds and just in time by a light arm. This itself is re-set by a heavier arm. The triggered reset of the heavy arm releases the impulse which is fed back to the slave balance.

The slave balance commands the watch timing, entirely self contained and is of the form of any high standard timekeeper that takes one’s fancy, but it must be a highly accurate one and needs to be so as it feeds an impulse to unlock the master light arm and just in time. The phase of the master and slave balances are directly compared, and if the slave is late, it is given an extra force to push it back in phase with the Master. If it is early, no action occurs, but the slave is deliberately set to run a few seconds slow a day, so that hits and misses occur regularly, thus ensuring that the phase of the slave is locked to the master. This is an incredibly sensitive action, with a timing interval of only some mili-seconds. The slave is kept in synchronisation with the master in a phase locked loop. The only engineers I can imagine that could pull this off in a wristwatch would be JLC. I await it.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Horology is dead

Another year, another SIHH and Basel coming.  Debate of the relative merits and shortcomings of the new watches will rage on forums everywhere.  Watches have gained enough popularity fuelled by the internet that they are brought to people who would never otherwise have been interested.  That's great, that you'll awaken people to it and you'll also get the inevitable attention of the unknowledgable opinionated ignorami, but more irritatingly a slew of rubbish watches.  The upsurge of watch culture in just a few years has led to a flabby market exploited by companies, auctioneers and privateers big and small.  This slingshot of horology to the mainstream is for many the dark cloud of of doom. 

I've been part of this watches thing for a long time. I can honestly say I've been watching watches since before watches enjoyed any sort of popularity.  I enjoyed them and enjoyed their absence from the mainstream and being 'a part of something' obscure like ThePurists was. Before the market took over, horology inspired us, taught us new and old technical ideas and it will again.  Horology isn't dead though rather, it's the coolness, which has faded.

Horology, which has become reduced to a market serving platitude.  With popularity, watches have become predictable, and regrettable. Horology's fundamental ideals are compromised for the market, lost in plain sight, leaving only the impurities precipitated from it. Here's the bottom line for me: I still like watches and properly executed horology.  One generation ago the hobby didn't even have a name.  The internet and resultant communication between like minded enthusiasts did spur the market and lead to some great new things.  It's what came on the coattails I have a problem with. The saving grace is that the two edged sword of success gives some companies the ability to invest in true horological innovation; it's just harder to see the wood for the trees.  

"Horology is dead.  Long live horology."