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Everything you need to know about luxury watches

Why Rubber Straps Are Indispensable For Divers.

Some rubber dive straps (like the rubber straps of a Panerai Submersible for example) have some sort of bumps in the strap. Some people find these bumps comfortable while others hate it, but very few know that it actually serves a very important function for divers.

 

 

Rubber Straps on Watches

When diving deep into the ocean, millions and millions of liters of water will push their weight on you. The deeper you go, the greater the pressure. Water pressure pushes its force onto your body, including the arms and wrists. Because of this pressure, your whole body, including your arms and wrists, get slightly compressed.

This calls for a crash course in water pressure and air volume. For every 10 meters you go under water, one bar/PSI gets added. Standard air pressure at sea level is 1 bar, so if you dive 50 meters deep, you have a pressure of 6 bar pushing on your body. Air volume also changes drastically when diving deep underwater. If you bring a balloon filled with air under water, the balloon will have shrunken to 50% of its original size after going just 10 meter deep. Go down 20 meters, and the balloon will shrink to 33% of its original size.

If just 20 meters of depth can have such a drastic effect on a balloon, imagine what 500 meters would do on a human body.

The compression on a person’s wrist can’t of course be compared to that of a balloon, but the compression can be enough for a steel bracelet to become lose and start wiggling and flipping around your wrist. When you are diving hundreds of meters deep in the pitch black depths of the unknown, the last thing you need is your most important tool to get loose and start dancing around your wrist.

Divers trust their watches with their lives. Imagine exploring a cave or shipwreck, and your most trusted tool where your life depends on suddenly gets upside-down and impossible to read.

The bumps in the rubber strap make sure your strap has extra stretch, so you can apply more pressure when strapping it on your wrist. If you stretch the strap to the maximum when strapping it on, it should stay snug around your wrist, even when exploring great depths. This is a feature steel bracelets don’t have.

Fluted Bezel: Decoration Or Function?

Many iconic and recognizable features on watches serve an important purpose. A rotating bezel? Used for timing your dives. The weird button on the side of a Seamaster 300? That’s a helium escape valve, which ensures that your crystal doesn’t pop off after saturation diving. Watches are small but hyper-effective machines, so every part should be extremely well thought out.

What does a fluted bezel do? I can be very short and clear with the answer: Nothing, zip, nada. Today, a fluted bezel is 100% decoration. Although, it hasn’t always been useless. There was a time, long ago, when the fluted bezel was an extremely important and revolutionary feature.

 

 

Fluted Bezel on a Rolex

First introduction

Rolex introduced the first Datejust in 1945. This first generation Datejust had a very peculiar feature for that time: a fluted bezel. Something that was unseen before. Before 1945, round plexiglass discs were pushed in the case of the watch to make sure the hands of the watch were well protected against dust and water splatter. This was a delicate procedure: if the plexi was a micrometer too big, it would shatter during installation; If the plexi was a micrometer too small, it would let water through. That’s why watches of that time had negligible water-resistance.

Rolex saw this issue and invested heavily in the quest for the first fully waterproof watch.

Rolex developed a new technique to ensure better resistance to water: instead of pushing in the plexi under great force, they wanted to screw it onto the case, just like the case back. In order to do that, they first needed to get some grip. This is where the fluted bezel enters the show.

A screwdown crown, screwdown caseback and screwdown plexi were the key to success.

Today, the material and technology improved, and other techniques are used to waterproof a watch. However, the shiny bezel stayed and became a status symbol.

 

Modern Fluted Bezels

The need for teeth was gone, but the aesthetics of the fluted bezel was something people loved. The original fluted bezels were made from stainless steel. Today’s bezels are made from white gold, yellow gold and rose gold for extra bling.

If we think about a fluted bezel, we instantly think of the Rolex Datejust, Day-Date and Skydweller, but the Omega Globemaster has the same shiny feature.

Horological History: The Dark History Of The Radium Girls

This article starts with a big disclaimer: back in the 1920’s, the risks of radium and radioactivity were hardly known. Nuclear energy and radioactivity were relatively new, and no one, including Panerai, had any idea of the risk. Therefore Panerai can’t be blamed for what happened.

 

 

radium girls painting with radioactive paint

Now let’s dive into today’s story.

Even though Panerai is seen as a trustworthy and stable brand, the Italian brand has a dark secret. We are not talking about Kampfschwimmers (more on that later), but the story of radium girls.

Today, Superluminova is the standard luminous material used in watches. It holds its brightness for a long time, and is (as long as you don’t digest it) a harmless material. Superluminova is a stable and safe material that can be stored for a long time without any side effects.

However, Superluminova was only developed in 1993. Before, radioactive materials were sometimes used as luminous material. Rolex for example has used tritium in the 1980’s and 90’s. The tritium had very low concentrations of radioactivity, exposing the wearer to extremely low risk.

Let’s rewind back even more, and go to the 1920’s.

Panerai and other watch brands decided to use radium as a luminous material for their watches. Luminous materials in horology was new, and was seen as a true innovation. There was only one issue that no one knew about: radium is highly radioactive.

In the 1920’s, dials were still painted by hand. That meant that workers in the Panerai factory had to grab a pencil and a bucket of radium paint to make the dials. This was mainly done by women at that time. The letters on the dial were very small, so the women had to make sure the hairs on their pencils were always slightly moist to make sure the tip remained sharp. Sadly, this was done brushing the (radium filled) pencil against their lips every few minutes. Many also used the glowing paint as nail polish or make-up, applying the radioactive substance on their faces.

This also happened with many other brands of watchmakers and clockmakers in Europe and the US.

Thousands of painters worldwide ingested lethal amounts of radioactive substance without even knowing it. Over the years, almost all of them developed severe tumors, resulting in a slow and painful death. Once the dangers of radioactive paint were known, the substance was quickly banned and the search for a new, safer luminous substance began.

 

3 Fun Facts About Breguet’s History

Breguet is a brand with legendary status that is sadly often overlooked. If you look at quality, finishing, history and added value to the world of horology, Breguet lies in the same category as brands like Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.

Sadly, there is very little known about the incredibly rich history this brand carries. Today, we are going to look into 3 fun facts about Breguet in its first years

 

 

Breguet Watches

Breguet invented the tourbillon

Abraham-Louis Breguet was the founder of the now legendary brand Breguet. Mister Breguet was an incredibly talented watchmaker with multiple achievements, inventions and patents under his name. The biggest one might be the tourbillon, which he invented and patented in 1801.

In his lifetime, Abraham-Louis Breguet made 35 tourbillon watches. Today, only 10 are known to have survived. The tourbillon is still one of the key complications in Breguet’s modern line-up of watches today.

 

Napoleon Went To Battle With A Breguet Carriage Clock

Today, soldiers wear rugged dive watches. In the late seventeen hundreds and early eighteen hundreds, soldiers carried portable clocks.

When Napoleon Bonaparte rose to power and became a general in the French army, Abraham-Louis Breguet was already a very established and well known watchmaker. Napoleon ordered three repeater clocks to travel and conquer trough Europe with. Rumors are that Breguet and Napoleon actually were close friends, since Napoleon often bought custom pieces for his personal collection and for his wife.

 

The Story Of The Beheaded Queen And Most Complicated Watch

The Breguet ‘Marie-Antoinette’ pocket watch is a fabulous and incredibly complex pocket watch, and is even today still considered as one of the most complex timepieces that has ever existed. The story behind it however is less cheerful.

Marie-Antoinette, queen of France, asked Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1783 to make her a pocket watch which included every possible complication (of that time of course). Mister Breguet fell in love with the challenge and worked on the pocket watch for over forty years.

Mr Breguet’s son eventually succeeded and finished the watch in 1827. There was however a slight obstacle: Marie-Antoinette was beheaded 34 years earlier. Quite a pickle when your client is decapitated.

The watch got nicknamed ‘The Marie-Antoinette’ and remained the most complicated timepiece for almost 100 years. Even today, it is still seen as the pinnacle of watchmaking.

 

Why The Tag Heuer Monaco Is Worth Looking Into

The Monaco is one of Tag Heuer’s most iconic and recognizable models. The Monaco has been a hit since 1969, and has been their showpiece ever since.

Why is this watch so important for Tag Heuer? Is it just the special shape, or is there more to this story? Let’s find out!

 

 

TAG Heuer Monaco

McQueen

The Monaco was introduced by Heuer in 1969 in honor of the Monaco Grand Prix. Back then, the Monaco was seen as revolutionary, because it was the first square cased chronograph. When Steve McQueen wore the watch in the 1971 classic ‘Le Mans’, the Monaco was instantly brought to a legendary status. 50 years later and decades after McQueen’s death, the Monaco is still linked to McQueen, and McQueen is still linked to the Monaco.

Heuer discontinued the Monaco in the mid 1970’s. When McQueen was gaining renewed popularity in the 1990’s (even though he died in 1980), Heuer decided to re-introduce the watch in 1998.

The Monaco has had countless variations and different editions, but always with the same recognizable DNA.

 

Innovation

The incredibly popular design of the Monaco didn’t mean that Tag Heuer would just sit around and rake in the profits. They have always invested in improving the movement and experimenting with complications, without affecting the aesthetic too much.

In 2007, Tag Heuer even won the ‘iF Product Design Award’ for the Monaco caliber 360 LS Concept Chronograph. Over 2.200 watches competed, but the new Monaco caliber took home the prize.

 

Most complicated Monaco

Tag Heuer released the Monaco V4, a true horological marvel, in 2004 at Baselworld.

The V4 was a way for Tag Heuer to flex with their craftsmanship and skill, and show the world what they were capable of making. The Monaco V4 had an exceptional belt-driven movement. In 2014, the engineers at Tag Heuer out-did themselves again, and released an updated Monaco V4, the first watch in the world that featured a belt driven tourbillon.

 

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  1. Carrera
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  2. Monaco
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In-house Vs Off The Shelf Movements

The term ‘in-house movement’ is a popular term that brands like to throw around with pride. It might be the ultimate marketing buzzword, brands wear it as a badge of honor. Does this term carry any weight, or is this also just some marketing lingo?

Today, we are going to have a deeper look at the difference between in-house movements and off the shelf movements.

 

 

Patek Philippe Watch Movement

What’s The Difference?

Let’s start easy: an in-house movement is a movement that a brand has developed and manufactured purely for their own use. They own this unique movement and all the rights it comes with. They are the only ones who have the legal right to produce and sell watches with this particular movement.

Off the shelf movements are movements that are produced and supplied by third party movement manufacturers. Think of brands like ETA, Sellita and Miyota. These brands only develop, produce and sell the movements, and have nothing to do with the design process of any watch brand.

Let’s ask the big question: is an in-house movement always better than an off the shelf movement? No

Is an off the shelf movement always better than an in-house movement? Also no.

 

Why Do Brands Do It?

For some brands, it’s all about prestige. For others, it’s about the art of developing more efficient timekeeping or better complications.

Producing your own movement is incredibly expensive and complex. Not every brand thinks it’s worth the effort to spend millions on creating a new movement. Often, brands start with an off the shelf movement, and start developing their own movements once they have the funds to do so. Even a giant like Rolex has used movements from Valjoux and Zenith for the Daytona’s for many years before perfecting their own in-house chronograph movement.

Having your own movement is what makes a brand or model unique. It also makes it much harder for third party watchmakers to service the watch, since all spare parts are custom made.

Brands like Lange & Söhne, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin (and of course many others) take it a step further and use their resources to develop new and better complications to test the limits of watchmaking. These highly complicated works of art usually cost more than the average house, but they push the industry to new levels of craftsmanship.

 

Know Your Strengths And Weaknesses

It’s also essential for a brand to know where your strengths are. A recent example is the cooperation between Breitling and Tudor.

Breitling has a very reliable in-house chronograph movement that has been on top of its game for over 10 years, the B01. Tudor has an extremely reliable and robust three-hand in-house movement. Tudor and Breitling came to an agreement in 2017 to swap movements: Breitling got to use Tudor’s movement (with slight adjustments) for the Superocean Heritage 2, and Tudor had the permission to use Breitling’s chronograph movement for the Black Bay Chrono. This saved both brands millions in development costs, and insured them that they could both work with extremely reliable and prestigious movements.

 

Why Rolex Makes Their Own Alloys

Just like Omega (click here to read the full article on Omega’s alloys), Rolex also makes their own unique and patented alloys. Rolex even took it a step further. While Omega has their own unique combinations, Rolex even has their own foundry, where they physically make their own alloys with their own precious metals. Rolex doesn’t just assemble watches, they melt their own metal and make their own gold.

Today, we are going to find out which unique alloys come out of Rolex’s foundry.

 

 

Rolex Cellini Everose Gold

Everose gold

Everose is an exclusively patented rose gold alloy that is used on all the modern rose gold watches of the Rolex line-up. The alloy was introduced in 2005, and has been a huge success ever since.

Everose was developed for the same reason Omega developed Sedna gold. Rose gold is partially made of copper, and copper can fade over time. This phenomenon is sped up if the material touches salt water. Given that the 126655 Yachtmaster is a rose gold watch designed for racing yachts at sea, I’d say that the odds of the watch touching salt water are pretty big.

When you add platinum to this alloy, the red glow will never fade, and the watch will always keep its rich red color.

 

Rolesor

Rolesor is Rolex’s take on gold, and shows why Rolex is a pioneer. Omega patented its first alloy in 2013, Rolex patented Rolesor in 1933, and has been using Rolesor ever since.

White Rolesor is an alloy of Oystersteel and white gold. Yellow Rolesor is an alloy of Oystersteel and yellow gold. Combining the precious metals with Oystersteel makes the material much stronger and more robust than regular 18k gold. A smart move, since Rolex offers most of their sports watches in precious metals. You can’t market yourself as the leader in sports watches and use regular soft yellow gold that’s prone to scratches and dents. Sharp edges like a fluted bezel would be made dull in a matter of days if the bezel would be made from regular softer gold.

 

Discover our Selection of Rolex Watches
  1. Oyster Perpetual Explorer II 42
    Oyster Perpetual Explorer II 42
    €10,890.00
  2. Datejust 41
    Datejust 41
    €8,990.00
  3. Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41
    Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41
    €9,290.00
  4. Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41
    Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41
    €10,690.00

 

How Do Anti-Magnetic Watches Work?

Whether you like it or not, we are surrounded by magnets. The device you are using to read this exact article is filled with magnets. It doesn’t matter if you read this on a laptop, your phone or your tablet. You could of course print out this article and read it on paper, but your printer also contains magnets, so that defeats the purpose.

Magnets mean bad news for watches, since the movement of your automatic watch is usually made out of steel. It’s irrelevant if your watch has the price of a pair of sneakers, the price of a small car or the price of a large house, most of them are made out of steel.

This can cause a problem, since steel is magnetic. If your balance wheel isn’t balanced, it won’t keep good time, that’s no rocket science.

 

 

Omega Seamaster Chronometer 160000 Gauss

Why Was This Invented?

You might think that anti-magnetic watches were specifically designed to protect your watch from household-electromagnets, like speakers and laptops. In fact, the concept of anti-magnetic watches have been around longer than household electromagnetic devices have.

Rolex introduced the first antimagnetic watch, the Milgauss, in 1956. The watch was developed for engineers who worked in power plants and around factories with high electromagnetic fields. The Scientists of the CERN in Geneva all wore Rolexes, because the Milgauss was the only watch that they were able to wear during their job in the 1950’s. Keep in mind that in the fifties, a Rolex was used as a tool watch, not as a piece of jewelry.

Rolex was the first to tackle this problem, but ever since, there have been many changes and upgrades over the years.

 

Two Different Approaches

Today, there are two different ways to tackle magnetism in watches:

The first way is to protect the entire movement. This can be done by shielding the whole movement with a magnetically permeable material. Usually soft iron is used. The soft iron can be easily magnetized, but doesn’t contain the magnetism. Once the magnetic field leaves, the material will cease to be magnetic. This way, the soft iron shell protects the movement.

The second method is more modern. This approach is to remove all vulnerable parts, and change them with nonferrous materials that can’t be magnetized. Removing all vulnerable parts is the literal version of the saying ‘better safe than sorry’. An iron-nickel alloy has been used the last few decades. The most recent improvement in the field of anti-magnetic balance springs is silicone. This has been the best and most efficient solution so far.

 

From Pioneer To Has-Been

Rolex was the first to explore the field of antimagnetic watches. The Milgauss had some seriously impressive stats in 1956. Notice the key words, ‘in 1956’. The Milgauss was resistant to 1000 gauss. You could have guessed that from the name Milgauss, because mille means 1000 in French, and Gauss is a measurement of magnetic induction. Today, models like the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra have ratings up to 15.000 gauss. Looks like Rolex is still stuck in the fifties.

 

Why Omega Makes Their Own Alloys

Back in the day, gold was reserved for dress watches. Only businessmen had the guts to wear gold watches on their suits. Wearing a gold watch on a sweater and jeans would have been like wearing a wetsuit at a business meeting.

Today, gold has become more casual. More and more brands offer gold watches in their line-up. This also means that brands have to go the extra mile to offer ‘special’ gold watches, so they don’t become the a dime in a dozen. That’s why certain brands focus on developing their own precious metals.

Today, we are going to focus on Omega, a brand who has been using and developing their own unique alloys for years. Is making your own unique combinations worth the effort, or is it just clever marketing? Let’s find out.

 

 

Omega Seamaster Sedna Gold

Sedna Gold

Sedna gold is an 18k rose gold alloy patented by Omega, and (almost) exclusively used by them since 2013. The material has a unique reddish glow, and can be found over the entire Omega lineup.

Traditional rose gold is usually created by mixing yellow gold, silver and copper. The only downside is that the copper atoms at the surface lose their glow over time, which means that the reddish glow from traditional rose gold is sensible to fading. In short: it loses its bling.

Omega claims to have solved that issue by switching from silver to palladium. This makes the alloy slightly more pricy (palladium is more than 100x more expensive than silver per gram), but this gives the alloy a resistance to fading. The reddish glow should remain over time without fading away. Compared to Rolex’s Everose, the Sedna gold feels much ‘redder’ and darker. The shade almost leans to the color of copper.

Even though Sedna gold is exclusively for Omega, Blancpain had the permission to release a Sedna gold Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe in 2015. Omega and Blancpain both belong to the Swatch Group.

 

Moonshine

Moonshine is Omega’s brand new kind of yellow gold, and was introduced in the 50th anniversary Apollo 11 Speedmaster in 2019. Moonshine is made of gold, copper, silver and palladium. This results in a unique alloy that’s much more durable than 18k yellow gold, but with a softer shade compared to regular gold. The color is developed to represent the moon’s soft yellow glow.

 

Canopus

Canopus is Omega’s approach on white gold. Canopus is a mixture of 75% gold and 20% palladium with small parts platinum and small parts rhodium. The alloy is known for its durability and high brilliance, and can be found on the 2021 Canopous Speedmaster.

 

Discover our Selection of Omega Watches
  1. Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch
    Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch
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  2. Speedmaster Moonwatch Dark Side of The Moon
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The Zenith 'El Primero'

The Zenith ‘El Primero’ was manufactured for the first time in 1969. And the watch turned to be an exceptional chronograph. Why? The ‘El primero’ was in that time the world’s first automatic, high-frequency watch and it was equipped with a chronograph function.

 

 

Zenith El Primero

Zenith

The tall, narrow building in Le Locle, with close-up high windows to reveal the daylight, demonstrates Zenith's history as independent manufacturing in the enterprising spirit of the industrial revolution. The company, set up in 1865 by George Favre-Jacot as a watch assembly workshop, has made and distributed every watch type, from the simple pocket watch to the most complicated calendar.

After Zenith was sold to the LVMH Group in 1999, the label was thoroughly dusted and perhaps modified a little too much. With eccentric creations, this obsessive watchmaker of all watchmakers suddenly found itself in the shining world of the ‘Haute Horlogerie’. For the 150th anniversary of the company in 2015, their historic building in Le Locle was also dusted. And their beautiful workplace was incorporated into the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2009. In the building there are more than eighty different crafts. New materials and new machines may be used, but faith in tradition remains one of the most important features of the brand with the star. That is the course set by Jean-Frédéric Dufour during the recession, followed by his successor Aldo Magada, who goes on the circuit and even in the stratosphere to demonstrate the character and style of the company's products. .

 

El Primero

This Zenith ‘El Primero’ was above all the most precise as it was the only chronograph capable of measuring stop times to the nearest tenth of a second, not to mention its exceptional beauty. Zenith introduced a special kind of aesthetic which remains Zenith’ signature for all ‘El Primero’s’ to this day. The ‘El Primero’ has an iconic caliber inside an attractive chronograph and has the perfect size for your wrist.

The primero is the first chronograph around the wrist with automatic winding technique and a frequency of 36,000 vibration per hour. Only few watchmakers had ever ventured to such a high vibration frequency - and none of them with a complication like the integrated chronograph mechanism and the two-sided exciting rotor of the ‘El Primero’. However, the fact that this caliber has gained its fiftieth birthday is due to the revival of the mechanical watch.

 

Discover our Selection of Zenith Watches
  1. Pilot Type 20
    Pilot Type 20
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