Tourbillon Complication Exclusivity a Thing of the Past?

Written by Debbie. Posted in watch history

There are few complications that prove a watch’s horological prowess like the tourbillon.  Invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet at the turn of the century to achieve the utmost accuracy in timepieces, the tourbillon almost went extinct with the advent of the quartz watch. 

Tourbillons were invented to balance out the effects of gravity and jiggling of the timepiece that would throw off the mechanics of the watch.  Once the quartz watches hit stores, their effortless accuracy rendered the tourbillon a thing of the past…for a while.

However, as the novelty of quartz watches wore off, the eyes of watch enthusiasts were once again drawn to the more artistic, more mechanically masterfully, and more historically rich timepieces of years gone by.

Tourbillons started making a reappearance in the world of watches about ten years ago, but for more reason than faultless accuracy.  The tourbillon is an extremely difficult horological feat, but combined with the scope of features that a luxury watch now requires, the feat becomes even more impressive.

Tourbillons have exploded into the world of watches to the point where their complexity is now as rare as reality TV—that is to say, not at all.  Just about every major watch brand boasts at least one tourbillon.  In fact, it’s rare for a collectionof watches to miss out on a tourbillon, never mind a brand.

Modern tourbillons have now become even more impressive.  Double carriage, incredibly huge, impressively tiny, (list some brands here), the tourbillon is now in danger of…dare I say it…overused?

Where the tourbillon once was a unique, almost quirky addition to a timepiece, it has now become something of a gimmick.

That is not to say that the tourbillon is unworthy of such attention.  It is an incredibly beautiful piece of machinery, and its successful completion is the piece de resistance of any watch maker.  However, it is no longer the rarity it once was—and may even be a superfluous addition to the cost.

The tourbillon remains an beautiful and worthy accomplishment in the world of horology.  Incredibly difficult to realize, incredibly delicate to design, and unbelievably magnetizing in action, the tourbillon may well be worthy of the new attention bestowed on it in the 21st century.  However, its exclusivity as a luxury timepiece element is a thing of the past.

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Schofield Watch Company: The Vision of Giles Ellis

Written by Debbie. Posted in Schofield Watch Company, watch history

The Schofield Watch Company was founded through the vision and dedication of founder, Giles Ellis. The

Schofield Watch Company founder Giles Ellis.

company was just recently introduced into the highly competitive world of high-end watches at the 2011 Saatchi Gallery SalonQP (an exhibition of watch companies and their wares), receiving critical acclaim which led to an extended waiting list for their models. The Schofield Watch Company’s surprising early success wouldn’t be possible without founder Giles Ellis’ vision and extreme dedication and attention to detail.

The Schofield Watch Company is an independent company, based just north of Brighton in a small village in rural Sussex, England.  Ellis founded the company in order to design a watch that he himself would like to wear. In fact, initially the company was not supposed to be a commercial venture but simply a personal enterprise to create a luxury watch to Giles’ own exacting and meticulous standards and his own unique style.  Giles himself spent countless hours meticulously detailing every facet of the business and involving himself in everything from picking parts suppliers, logos, the website, photography and almost every other possible variable involved in crafting the brand and its products. His meticulous attention to detail meant he spent an inordinate amount of time just to find suppliers that offered the quality he desired and, upon realizing that one watch would require nearly 4000 man-hours to complete he founded the Schofield Watch Company. Giles spent several years working on all of these aspects, and without his efforts there would be no Schofield.

That Giles’ first model designs, the Signalman GMT PR and the Signalman DLC GMT PR, were so well received owes to his history. Giles’ father is a skilled woodworker and his mother is a sculptor while Giles himself has embarked in endeavors as diverse as owning a business restoring antique musical instruments to designing components for high-end hi-fi equipment and mountain bikes. With his background in graphic and product design and the monolithic 18th and 19th century British lighthouses that he drew the inspiration from for his first models, it should be no surprise that the Signalmen models were so highly praised, in spite of focusing on aspects other than fashionability in the designs.

The first models released by Schofield, the Signalman GMT PR (left) and the Signalman DLC GMT PR (right).

In a quote from the company’s website Schofield says “My motivation isn’t driven by a desire to be fashionable. I am a man obsessed with detail and thoroughness. If I design something it has to be thoroughly thought through without gaps. I like to know every detail has been considered. With great design, I engage with the fact that the people who make and design things of great beauty have invested their love, care and attention into every minute facet of its creation. It is this sense of refinement and thoroughness that inspires and motivates me.”

The result of Giles’ tireless work ethic and dedication to detail was the critically-acclaimed launch of his passion project. What lies in store for the future of the Schofield Watch Company is unsure, but if early success is any indicator, it is a future that will be highly anticipated by watch enthusiasts and collectors everywhere.

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A Brief History of Cartier and its Contribution to Luxury Watch Making

Written by Debbie. Posted in Cartier, Watch Brands, watch history

Since Cartier’s founding in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier in Paris, the jewelry and watch-making company has spent well over a century garnering its highly reputable and well-admired status in the luxury goods industry.

With beginnings as a firm focused on jewelry, it was not until the early years of the 20th century that Cartier expanded its repertoire of luxury goods to include timepieces. Until then, Cartier had experienced several monumental shifts, including the movement of its store to the current position of Cartier’s flagship on Rue de la Paix in Paris, and growing interest amongst aristocrats and the nobility of various countries. Such were the conditions to allow the emergent success of Cartier’s expansion into watch making.

Cartier Flagship and Cartier Family

The Cartier flagship store in Paris, circa 1899, where it still stands today; Alfred Cartier with sons Louis, Pierre and Jacques.

Placed in the hands of Louis Cartier, one of three grandsons of Cartier’s founder who went on to take over the business after their father Alfred Cartier, Cartier timepieces became immediately successful upon their introduction. Louis Cartier was an avid timepiece enthusiast and thus had great interest in Cartier producing the highest quality watches possible, a value still reflected in Cartier’s elegant, luxury timepieces today.

In 1904, Louis Cartier designed a flat wristwatch for a Brazilian aviator named Alberto Santos-Dumont, who sought a timepiece more reliable and functional than a pocket watch during his flights, leading to the birth of Cartier’s signature Santos watch. Louis Cartier’s elegant wristwatch designs were monumental in popularizing the wristwatch, shifting aristocracy away from the notion that gentlemen should only carry pocket watches.

Cartier,Santoswatch

Louis Cartier presents the Santos Watch to aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont in 1904. The Santos watch model has remained a timeless, beloved piece in Cartier’s collection.

Making a deal whereby Edmond Jaeger would be the supplier of movements for Cartier watches in 1907, Cartier watches were launched to success with technical and aesthetic sophistication and with substantial luxury client bases amongst the world’s most important cities, with Cartier stores opened in New York, London and St. Petersburg.

In the next 20 years, some of Cartier’s most timeless and important watches were produced for both men and women, including the Bagnoire and Tortue models in 1912 and the military-inspired Tank model in 1917. The Tank Model, seeing multiple iterations since its inception, remains one of Cartier’s most influential watches, donned by celebrities and notable individuals from Princess Diana to First Lady Michelle Obama.

Michelle Obama's Cartier Tank Watch

Leading Lady Michelle Obama selects this contemporary iteration of Cartier’s timeless Tank Watch as her staple timepiece.

With Louis Cartier largely responsible for the innovation behind Cartier watches, the sector faltered following his death in 1942, leading the company to be turned from Cartier family hands to those of a group of investors in 1972. This group has largely been responsible for Cartier’s continued success today, with Cartier recognized as one of the leading luxury product manufacturers of the world.

Cartier watches today retain the high level of standards that Louis Cartier once strove for in his innovative timepieces. The high craftsmanship and timeless nature of Cartier watches, in combination with the company’s understanding of its customers desires, have allowed Cartier to develop a strong brand reputation and famed position throughout its history, a legacy that assures that Cartier will continue to remain an important and beloved watchmaker into the future.

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Breitling: A Brief History of Timepieces

Written by Debbie. Posted in Breitling, watch history

The Swiss luxury watchmaker Breitling SA has a long and storied history of innovation. Founded in 1884 in the French-speaking area of Saint-Imier, Bernese Jura, in Switzerland by Leon Breitling. The 24 year-old Leon Breitling founded his company after deciding to devote himself to the exclusive and demanding watch fields of chronographs and timers with precision instruments intended to for science, sport, and industry. Consistently high quality and devotion to advancement led to several industry-changing innovations throughout the years.

In 1892, after significant growth of the company, Leon Breitling moved operations to La Chaux-de-Fonds, the center of Swiss watchmaking at the time, where the company continued to thrive.

In 1915, a year after the death of Leon Breitling and his subsequent replacement as head of the company by his son, Gaston, came its first major innovation: the creation of the first independent chronograph push piece, effectively heralding the emergence of the wrist chronograph. These watches became the first wrist instruments in use by pilots at the time. And in 1923, the company separated the start/stop functions from the resetting function, seemingly perfecting this system. This made their watches capable of adding several succeeding times without returning the watch hands to zero. This patented innovation became a useful tool to calculate flight times and for timing sports competitions. Their next innovation came in 1934, two years after Gaston’s son Willy Breitling took control of the company, when they lead their competition in the creation of a second independent reset push piece enabling either incremental or cumulative time keeping.

The Breitling Navitimer circa 1952.

The 1952 Breitling Navitimer.

The next couple of decades saw Breitling SA further establish itself as the leading supplier to aviators after more significant developments from the company. They became the official supplier to the Royal Air Force in 1936 and shortly thereafter, in 1942, they unveiled the Breitling Chronomat. This was the first chronograph to be fitted with a circular slide rule and led to Breitling becoming the supplier to the American armed forces as well. In 1952, with the creation of the Navitimer wrist chronograph featuring the circular slide rule to perform all navigation-related calculations, the brand quickly became a favorite of aviators in all fields. in 1962, astronaut Scott Carpenter wore a Navitimer aboard the Aurora 7 space capsule, becoming the first chronograph watch worn in space. During this period in the 1950s and 60s, Breitling’s onboard chronographs became standard equipment aboard commercial airplanes, cementing its status as the top supplier in world aviation.

In 1969, continuing its tradition of leading the world in innovations in the watchmaking field, Breitling SA, in conjunction with Hamilton-Buren and Heuer-Leonidas, created the first self-winding chronograph movement which uses a balance wheel and micro rotor to power the movement as opposed to manual winding. This was a breakthrough in watchmaking and changed the entire landscape of watch manufacturing.

In 1979, microelectronics specialist, aviator and watch manufacturer, Ernest Schneider succeeds Willy Breitling as head of Breitling SA. Under his guidance and later his son Theodore’s, the company would continue in its innovative ways. The first significant innovation was The Aerospace model in 1985 which featured an electronic chronograph crafted in titanium which became an immediate hit with aviators. Ten years later, in 1995, Breitling crafted yet another innovation, aimed at maintaining its standing as the top supplier for aviators, in the Emergency; a multifunction instrument watch designed with a micro-transmitter that broadcasts 121.5Mhz aircraft emergency frequency. In 2001 Breitling introduced the first Superquartz movement, which is ten-times more accurate than standard quartz and became the first electronic movement to meet COSC requirements.

The company continued in its innovative approach to watchmaking when in 2008 it introduced the Breitling Avenger Seawolf Chronograph which through its innovative use of magnets which allows the watch case to remain sealed, thereby allowing this electronic chronograph to achieve depths of up to 1000 meters and maintain functionality. This is yet another example of the myriad of watchmaking innovations that Breitling has created, and will continue to create in the future.

Gucci Watches Go Vintage

Written by Debbie. Posted in Gucci, More News, Style Watches, Watch Brands, watch history

You certainly don’t have to search through archives of photos to locate a pic of a Gucci watch.  Open up any fashion magazine on the stand, and you can find any number of celebrities sporting gorgeous Gucci watches.  For some designers, this is advertisement, enough, yet not for Gucci.

The famous fashion house made a bold move, and decided on using 50 year old black and white prints from the Gucci archives in their 2010 spring ad campaign.  The ads feature Vera Grafin von Lehndorff-Steinort, or Verushka for short.  The throw-back photos show Verushka in various settings, always looking chic and timelessly elegant.  The look of the photos translates, and is significant, today. Gucci superimposes their watches and logo over the photo, giving an interesting and contemporary feel to the shots. 

Even though Verushka is selling the Gucci watches in the forefront, she is head to toe Gucci in the back ground.  From her over-sized bag, to her small over the shoulder and her large-rimmed floppy hat…she’s been Gucci-fied. 

Creative art director, Frida Giannini is the brains behind this campaign, and I think it’s brilliant.  The photos are as beautiful as when they were originally taken, and the look is timeless.

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TAG Heuer’s Carrera Calibre 360, Mechanical Genius

Written by Debbie. Posted in Men's Watches, News, TAG Heuer, Watch Brands, watch history

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 360

Starting with the release of the first Carrera Calibre 360 by TAG Heuer, there has been a buzz.  This concept watch first appeared at the Baselworld exhibition of 2005, and got plenty of attention.  TAG Heuer created the Carrera Calibre 360 with mechanical ingenuity dating back to the early 1900’s, when Heuer’s grandfather invented the first mechanical chronograph, with the ability to measure time by 1/100th of a second.  The introduction of the 2005 Carrera Calibre 360 was witness to the first wrist worn chronograph, with these capabilities.  At the heart of the watch beats two independently designed mechanisms, which allow for regular speed during normal use of 28,800 beats per hour, and super revved-up speed of 360,000 beats per hour in chronograph mode.  At chronograph speed, the Carrera Calibre 360 moves ten times that of any other mechanical wrist worn watch in the world.  What gives the acceleration?  Ask TAG Heuer, who earned 3 elite patents for their mechanical design of this watch. 

The next version of the Carrera Calibre 360 would come in 2006, and be crafted of 18 carat Rose Gold.  This concept watch was in limited production of just 500 pieces, and was designed with the collector in mind.  If you appreciate master craftsmanship and innovative technology, you’re going to love the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 360 watches.

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TAG Heuer and Tesla Motors, Join Forces

Written by Debbie. Posted in Men's Watches, More News, News, TAG Heuer, Watch Brands, watch history

TAG Heuer Tesla Roadster

Tesla and TAG join forces to create a unique, one of a kind collector’s edition electric car.  TAG Heuer’s avante-garde reputation is upheld, as they join with electric car designers, Tesla.  As a celebration of their 150 years in the watchmaking business, TAG Heuer partnered with Tesla Motors to create this revolutionary vehicle.  The TAG Heuer Tesla Roadster is a dedication to performance, innovation, quality, and prestige, all traits of the legendary watchmaker.  The Roadster is currently on tour, and will be on display in 15 cities around the world.  Basel, Monaco, Milan, Budapest, Warsaw, Moscow, New Delhi, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, London, and Paris will host the TAG Heuer Tesla Roadster.  The exhibition will also feature TAG Heuer timepieces from the past, the present, and the future.  Showcased will be the TAG Heuer Pendulum Concept watch, The Monaco V4, and The Carrera Claibre Chronograph.  Brand Ambassadors will be on hand to start off the exhibition and a signed TAG Heuer 150 Years Book will be auctioned off at the end of the tour.  TAG Heuer has spent the past 150 years re-inventing the way we keep time.  Their innovative chronological inventions have helped to write the history of this art form, and their creative designs have placed them at the top of their field.  TAG Heuer, just keeps on ticking.

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Tag Heuer 360′ Museum Opening

Written by Debbie. Posted in Authentic Watches, More News, TAG Heuer, watch history

Tag Heuer 360' Museum

 

Tag Heuer’s 150 old reputation has been built from a foundation of precision and quality.  This unique watchmaker attributes their brand strength to their focused efforts to produce the world’s most accurate timepieces.  Establishing a framework for success, the Tag Heuer team has been able to develop precision instruments, which really perform.  Like the Mikrograph, a mechanical stopwatch, this is highly accurate…to within 1/100th of a second…and the first of its kind.  Of course, that was back in 1916, and as important a milestone as that invention was…Tag Heuer has seen light years of growth since then.   This year, Tag Heuer will entertain and amaze us all with the opening of their new Tag Heuer 360’ Museum.  Located in the Tag Heuer headquarters, the Museum will take you through the history of innovation, and creation that surrounds Tag Heuer, giving you the full picture.  In keeping with the technological advancements of Tag Heuer, the museum will feature the world’s first 360’ movie screen.  This conic screen is computer powered and will generate over one million images every hour, telling the story behind Tag Heuer and their legendary watchmaking achievements.  This technology will create a complex and engaging outcome, and hopefully amaze you.

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