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Everything you need to know about luxury watches

5 Things You Didn't Know About Oris

"Even though Oris has existed since 1904, they have climbed to the top in the last few years. Their line of dive watches made them a mainstream brand in a very short period. How can a brand go fairly unnoticed for about 100 years, and still manage to rise to the top? Today we are going to dive in the history of Oris."

Oris

Oris Left The Swatchgroup

In 1969, Oris was one of the top 10 best-selling watch brands in the world. This made them interesting for investors. Oris was taken over by the General Watch Company (which is today known as the Swatch Group) in 1970. However, during the quartz crisis, the brand took a big hit. Sales were horribly low, and the brand was on the edge of bankruptcy. In 1982, Swatch group decided to shut Oris down, but general manager Rolf Portman and head of marketing Ulrich W. Herzog bought the brand back from the Swatch group. A few months later in 1982, Oris SA was founded. They have been independent ever since. While many brands want to be bought by a larger group in a crisis, Oris fought for independence.

Oris Suffers From ‘Quartz-PTSD’

Like stated in the first tab, Oris got almost taken down by the quartz crisis. Instead of following the quartz-hype, they did the opposite. Oris made quartz watches during their Swatch group-days, but ever since their independence, they stay far away from quartz.
Today, Oris is one of the few brands who is over a century old and is still fullyindependent and fully mechanical.

Oris HQ Is Still In The Same Village As When It Was Founded

When Oris was founded in 1904 by Paul Cattin and Georges Christian, both men decided to start in the Swiss town Hölstein. Watch factory Lohner & Co recently closed down, and the two men took office in the old factory.
In its first year, Oris had 67 employees. Oris opened more assembly plants and factories over the years. By 1911, Oris was he largest employer in Hölstein. They even had to build houses and apartments for their staff, since they were getting too big for the small Swiss village.

Oris Was Once Owned By A Member Of The LeCoultre Family

Oris was not part from the Jaeger-LeCoultre brand, but Oris was once owned by an important LeCoultre family member. After Oris’ founder Georges Christian died in 1927, Jacques-David LeCoultre bought Oris and became President of the board of directors. Jacques David was the Grandson of Antoine LeCoultre, the person who founded the watchband LeCoultre&Cie in 1866. It is unknown how long Jacques-David owned Oris Jacques-David LeCoultre was an important member of the LeCoultre family. Jacques-David was responsible for the merger of his family’s company LeCoultre with the brand of Edmont Jaeger. The result is a brand you might have heard of: Jaeger LeCoultre

Everything You Need To Know About World Time Watches

Imagine this: it’s 12MP and you almost have to board your flight from Hong Kong to London. You also need to call your office in New York to give them an update on your latest meeting, and you can’t forget to return a call from a client in Sidney. You also just remember that you still have to call your mom in LA to wish her a happy birthday. Who can you call and who will be asleep?

Does this problem sound familiar to you? Probably not.

On the other hand, diving 500 meters deep and racing F1 cars doesn’t sound familiar either, but that hasn’t stopped you from buying a dive watch and chronograph either, hasn’t it?

World time watches are some of the most interesting, yet underrated complications out there. Most of us have heard about this complication, but very few actually know how it works. World timers are a more ‘exclusive’ complication, but they aren’t reserved for +€100k watches anymore. There are some amazing and interesting variations of this complication at every price point.
Luxury watch Breitling

Is A World Just a Fancy GMT?

No, it’s much more. A GMT function allows you to track one (or two if you have a rotating bezel) extra time zones next to your regular time.

A world time offers you much more. With a world time, you can track 24 time zones in 24 different cities. You can see what time it is in every city on your dial. Do you travel between time zones? By the press of a button, all the cities and hour markers reconfigure and realign to the correct time, all mechanical. Because they are so much more complicated than a GMT function, most world time models cost more than the average GMT watch.

Since they are more expensive than a GMT, and because very few people actually need to track more than three time zones at once, few brands offer a world time complication in their catalogue, while the GMT is a widely offered complication.

Next to being an incredibly complex and interesting complication, world time watches usually feature some of the most beautiful designs. These watches have a big ring fitted with the names of different cities around this ring. Every brand choses their own cities they want to highlight. Many models are also fitted a map of the world, giving this an incredibly interesting dial. Busy yet organised, full but easily readable.

Vintage Versus New

The world time complication was invented in the 1930’s by Louis Cottier, an independent watchmaker.

The new complication quickly caught on and got adapted by brands like Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin, two brands whose modern world timers are still considered as the best available.

Since a few years, many other brands have entered the world of world time watches. Before, the world time was often seen on the most exclusive and expensive models a brand had to offer. Only the top brands offered them, mostly in precious metals. Since a few years, brands like NomosOmegaBreitling and IWC are offering their own models in stainless steel. This takes the world time from the mid 5 figure/low six figure price range to the mid four figure price range. A difference that opens world timers up to a completely new audience. Vacheron Constantin also offers an Overseas Worldtimer in stainless steel, making it much more accessible than his gold and platinum brothers.



The Adventurous History Of The NATO-Strap

The NATO strap might be one of the best and most affordable accessories you can buy for your watch. For just a few euros, you can add a pop of color to your timepiece, or you can just change the style completely.

The last few years, many mainstream brands are starting to offer brand new watches on their own NATO straps, because they are just starting to realize what a huge market a simple piece of nylon holds. However, the NATO strap was not invented with you sipping mimosas by the side of the pool in mind. The NATO strap has a very rich and interesting military background.

The Military History Of The NATO

You might think that the NATO strap was made for and by the NATO, but you would be wrong. NATO straps were developed by the British Ministry of Defense in 1973. These straps were developed exclusively for the British military. So where does the name come from? NATO does not refer to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but it refers to ‘NATO Stock Number’.

The military has a standardized list for material, items and supplies. Every piece of equipment gets a unique NSN (NATO stock number). If you were in the British military in the early seventies, you had to ask for ‘NSN G1089’ to get a military NATO strap. Soldiers referred to the strap as a ‘G10’. The term NATO strap came much later.

The ministry of defense wanted to develop a strap that was scientifically cheaper and easier to produce than a steel bracelet. It also had to be universal, so it could be used on any watch, and yet it had to have more advantages than rubber or steel. Nylon was chosen because it checked all he boxes. For the first few years, the only strap available was 20mm and in the color ‘Admiralty Grey’. 

A few years later, the British military regiments started making their own straps in the colors of their own regimental colors, including color combinations and stripes. This was a fun and unique way of showing to which regiment you belonged.

The Advantages

Some people dislike the fact that a NATO strap runs under the case, but this actually is a well thought out feature that has many advantages. Because the nylon runs under the case, metal can’t touch the wearer’s skin. This provides stability, and makes it possible to strap your watch very tightly without putting much pressure on the spring bars.

With a normal strap, you lose your watch if just one of two spring bars break. With a NATO, the watch will still stay in place even if you break a spring bar. Breaking spring bars might not be the biggest threat for everyday use, but soldiers wear their watches while crawling through the mud, over their wetsuit while diving or over their jacket while jumping out of an airplane. This makes the risk of losing a spring bar much bigger.

The design of the NATO strap also makes it also possible to have a much longer strap than needed without experiencing much inconvenience. You just loop the remaining part under one of the hoops and problem solved. With an extra-long strap, you can easily strap your favorite strap over your jacket, wetsuit, or even your spacesuit. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin wore their Speedmasters over their spacesuits, so why shouldn’t you put yours over your ski jacket? This is not possible with a steel or rubber strap. 

Modern NATO straps

NATO straps are not just for the military anymore, and have become pretty common.

Brands like Omega, IWC and Hamilton make their own premium NATO straps, and some models, like the IWC Pilot Spitfire, Omega Speedmaster Ultraman and Omega Seamaster 300 ‘Spectre’ are offered on an OED NATO strap. Omega also has a wide variety of NATO straps that they offer on their website.

Will A Mesh Strap Save You From A Shark Attack?

The history behind this strap is actually a rather spectacular story. It's designed to survive shark attacks. Let me explain before you burst into laughing:


We are of course not talking about a bloodthirsty Jaws-type shark, but small, playful sharks. Sharks often confuse divers, surfers or swimmers for their natural preys like seals. There are many records of sharks taking a small bite, realizing they are wrong, and then fleeing away after they realized they won’t be eating seal for dinner. These types of bites aren’t uncommon, but neither are they deadly. They are however powerful enough to damage a rubber strap, or they can break a link of a steel bracelet. The interwoven steel wires of the mesh strap make it a lot more robust, and extremely hard to cut.

This is of course just marketing, since it’s impossible to find a single diver whose watch and/or arm was saved due to a mesh strap. Most story’s usually end in one of two different ways: either with some buses and a cool story to tell your friends in a bar, or in the hospital with your arm completely ripped off.

This does not mean that mesh isn’t a great option if you love diving or doing outdoor activities. Rubber and nylon straps can get accidentally cut or damaged without the wearer noticing. Rubber straps can also get brittle over time by getting too much exposure to salt water and sunlight. It’s also almost impossible to notice scratches on mesh, since the wires are so thin. (Take that, Rolex polished center links)

So a short recap: will a mesh strap keep you and your watch safe from the jaws of Jaws? Probably not.

Is mesh an excellent and very comfortable option on your watch in active conditions? Absolutely!



Mistakes new watch guys make

Everyone was once new to watches. Even the biggest collectors were once at the point of getting their first watch.

I like to compare sports watches with cars: A Land rover Defender is a beast, no one can deny this. It can drive through almost any condition, and it’s hard to tame.  But if you forget to change your oil, your offroad beast can be killed by something as small as carelessness.  Same goes with watches. The Omega Speedmaster has been to the moon, and the Rolex Sea-dweller can go as deep as 3900 meter, but it’s really easy to damage your watch if you don’t handle it with the right care. 

1: make sure the crown on your dive watch is always screwed down.

This might sound obvious, but you have no idea how many watches get send for a repair with water damage. Once water gets in your watch and you don’t fix is as soon as possible, your movement will start to rust. 

2: After swimming, wash your watch with fresh water

Salt from the sea and chlorine from the pool can get in your bezel. It won’t destroy your watch, but it makes it easier for dirt to build up in your bracelet and bezel. This makes it easier for your bezel to get jammed up, and it can be solved with a little water. 

3: don’t change your date between 9PM and 3AM.

In short: it’s really bad for the gears of your watch. If you do want to change the date, change the time to 6:30, set your date and set your time back right. Boing it once won’t destroy your watch, but doing it for years puts extra stress on the gears, resulting in a more expensive maintenance. Better safe than sorry.

4: don’t change the time backwards.

With most watches, turning the hands backwards when changing the time can also be really bad for your gears. This problem is solved with some modern watches, but once again; better safe than sorry.

5: Check the waterproofing of your watch every few years.

It’s important to check your watch on waterproofness every few years. Rubber gaskets can dry up and lose strength, letting water in. What’s the point of having a dive watch if your rubber gaskets don’t keep the water out? Getting your gaskets changed is relatively inexpensive.

What is patina and how is it done?

'Patina' means an oxidation layer on metal objects. Think, for example, of the gray-green layer that you often see on copper and bronze objects. The formation of a beautiful natural patina layer can take decades.

Patina

Patina layers can be formed naturally, but metal objects can also be artificially patina coated by the use of chemicals. This is called with ‘Patination’. For example, this technique is often used in bronze sculptures, where artists use patina layers mainly because of the beautiful shiny structure. Various colors can be obtained by using different chemicals. For example, ‘liver of Sulphur’ or ‘potassium-polysulphide’ is used for a gray to jetty black color, iron nitrate for brown and copper nitrate for green, but numerous applications of chemicals and colors are possible. This technique can also be used for 'discoloration' of, for example, a dial.

Big Crowns: Decoration or Function?

A big crown is linked to the IWC Big Pilot, and the Big Pilot is linked to the big crown. They go together like horse and carriage. But where does this recognizable feature come from? Does it serve an actual purpose or is it just a marketing trick?


Oversized crowns were used on pilot watches in World War II. Before the time of on-board computers and advanced telecommunication, a watch was the pilot’s most important tool. They used their watches to calculate how much fuel they had in the tank, and when to return to their base. Miscalculating your fuel consumption meant crashing in enemy territory, something you would want to avoid at all costs. Their lives literary depended on their watches.

They had to be able to adjust the time mid-flight while wearing thick, leather gloves. Watch brands could have easily developed a complex complication with intricate extra buttons to operate the watch while wearing leather gloves, but at times of war budget was short and costs had to be cut. Instead, they just made the crown bigger. Problem solved.

These pilot watches were also incredibly big for the time. Most dress watches were between 32 and 36mm in the World War II area. Sports watches and chronographs were between 36 and 40, which was considered pretty big back then. These pilot watches were between 47 and 51mm. For that time, it must have felt like wearing the Big Ben on your wrist.

Since every plane today is equipped with High-Tech computers, the big crown has completely lost its function. Nevertheless, IWC still uses the big crown as a trademark feature, so they can stay linked to their history.

Many German brands made pilot watches for the German Luftwaffe which looked very similar. These watches were called ‘B-Uhr’. Other brands that made these were A. Lange & Söhne, Wempe, Walter Storz (now knows as Stowa) and Lacherer & Company (now known as Laco).



5 things you didn’t know about Omega

Scarface wore an Omega

In the 1972 classic Scarface, Tony Montana, played by Al Pachino wore a gold Omega. He wore an Omega La Magique, a rare model of wich only 261 pieces were made.

Ringo Starr was a big Omega fan.

Ringo Starr wore an Omega time computer LED. He had received this watch from his good friend Keith Moon, who was the drummer of The Who. The watch was sold at auction to a Beatles fan for about €10.000.

The most expensive Omega

The most expensive Omega ever sold at auction was sold for 1,428,500 Swiss francs, which is about 1.2 million euro. It looks very normal and minimalist, but it’s a really important watch, historically speaking. This watch was one of the very first to employ a tourbillon in a wristwatch. It was made in 1947. Back then, tourbillons were only made for desk clocks. This watch is in a way the father of tourbillons as we know them.

Omega is the official Olympic timekeeper

This is a title that Omega has earned, not bought. They have been the official timekeeper of the Olympics since 1932, and have never disappointed.

The Seamaster is the oldest model in the current line

The Omega Seamaster was launched to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the brand in 1948. It has been in production ever since, making it the oldest model in the current line.

What is a Complication watch?

You've heard the term 'Complication watch', but you're not sure what that is?

If a mechanical watch offers more functions than just the time (hours, minutes, seconds), then it is considered a 'complicated' timepiece. Each 'extra' function next to hours and minutes is then called a complication.

Watch Complications
 

Some of the more known complications are:

Moonphase

This Complication shows the current phase of the moon in the lunar cycle.

Perpetual Calendar

This Complication adjusts the calendar for month length and leap years.

Flyback

This Complication makes the Chronograph reset and restart in one push of the button.

Date

This Complication displays the Date on the watch.

Alarm

This Complication have a dedicated alarm and alarm hand.

Panorama Date

This Complication means the watch has a big date display.

Power Reserve

This Complication means the watch has a power reserve indicator.


 


 

How smartwatches have influenced the (luxury) watch industry

In my humble opinion (and I could be wrong), they haven’t.

Let me explain. People who buy luxury watches don’t buy them for the sole purpose of knowing the time on their wrist. They buy watches because they like what the watch represents. Knowing the time is a ‘fun bonus’. People who wear a luxury watch won’t suddenly stop wearing their watch and trade it in for a Fitbit.  Brands that should get scared are brands that sell watches in the same price point as most smartwatches. Mainly fashion watches, digital watches and cheap quartz watches feel the heat of the smartwatch industry.