Entries in category "Watches"

I saw this Christopher Ward online last week and thought it looked fantastic:

That is, until I saw the Baume & Mercier Classima 8869:

I love the heart design. It's absolutely stunning. I'm currently the proud owner of one of the Classimas already:

And in my little reptile brain, I'm thinking... "I should sell my existing Classima and use it to upgrade to the open heart Classima!"

Posted by roy on October 30, 2011 at 10:20 PM in Watches | 5 Comments

It would probably make sense to me to explain this sudden interest in watches. The more I think about it, the more logical it seems that I'd like watches. While I work for a technologically innovative company, I've always resisted the temptation to embrace technology in my life (no smartphones for me!) To embrace the opposite of the software industry seems very natural, given my love/hate relationship with software. An industry that's steeped in history, that serves to create one item which serves one purpose exceedingly well, and one that doesn't cling onto silly notions of IP... well... wathces :)

I have a love for history, and watches have a rich history that dates back hundreds of years. The 18th century was dominated by pocketwatches. Then Patek made a revolutionary change by introducing the concept of wristwatches in the late 19th century. For 50 years, mechanical wristwatches dominated and everything was great... until the '60s, when quartz and the digital watch disrupted the whole industry. This wreaked havoc on the Swiss watch industry, and companies had to adapt. Suddenly companies had to compete against watches which were not only cheaper and smaller, but more accurate. By every measure, quartz watches are the better choice!

But the companies adapted. And now people end up paying a premium for the automatic/mechanical movements. Somehow, they convinced the world that watches which were less accurate are better! To me, it's amazing how an industry which seems so simple to a layman is actually so complicated and subject to so many disruptive changes.

And even today, there's innovation in wristwatches! An example that comes to mind is Seiko's "Eco-drive" - a watch powered by solar energy! An industry that's more than 200 years old... continuing to innovate. I mean, wow.

As an engineer, the complexity of automatic movements intrigues me. Just look at this Patek Philippe movement:

How can you say that's not beautiful? To me, it's more stunning than the other side of that watch (although Patek does a wonderful job of that as well)

Software is almost the polar opposite of the engineering behind wristwatches - it's all vague concepts and notions; there's nothing concrete. And generally speaking, software code tends to get uglier in time, not prettier. Being able to ogle at the engineering marvel that makes up a modern watch (quartz excluded, I have no interest) is a huge reason I love watches. 

Designs. Aesthetics. Watches have so many different designs - who thought the simple canvas of the wrist could yield so many different designs? And what I especially love is reading about the functional reasons why watches have certain designs (I'll cover this in a later post). Watches are ofentimes designed out of a functional need, not just for pure aesthetics. I absolutely love that concept.

Lastly, I still love being able to hold onto the notion that watches are the result of craftsmanship. The notion that Patek Philippe hand-make their watches still and are able to charge a premium (and that premium is valued and sought after) really appeals to me and gives me hope about the software industry. While there's a place for mass manufactured items (see most of the mid-brands like Tag Heuer), I really hope there's a place in software where excellent people can succeed in small teams to produce truly beautiful software that's appreciated and commercially successful.

Like watchmakers, who strive to create something of permanence, I really hope that software writers strive to create something that lasts. While there's a place for embracing the transience of time, at the end of the day, we should really strive to create things that last for a long, long time and can be appreciated as such.

I also have drawn some parallels in my last post: I do think it's quite interesting how an industry where it's so easy to rip off of one another has managed to maintain so many high-quality brands. With no patent/copyright protection on designs, you'd think companies like Rolex would be replica-ed out of the industry ... but they haven't. To me, these are clear examples that IP, as a concept, is, well, stupid.

Posted by roy on October 20, 2009 at 11:58 PM in Watches, Ramblings, Web Development | 2 Comments

Every year, I seem to pick a topic that nobody else has an interest in reading about. I usually find traffic dives when I pick up these random hobbies, as people ignore my posts in droves.

For example, when I was in school, the obsession was poker. Then when I moved here, there was a whole series on aquariums. Then piano. Then loft redecorating. Now I have watches!

In watch world, there are varying degrees of un-authentic watches. The most obvious "fake" watches are the cheap ones hocked at street corners. These usually replace the automatic movement with quartz movements - they're pretty easy to spot.

As more of the Swiss companies push manufacturing of watches to China, and as China gains more expertise in manufacturing, they've gotten really good at making replicas as well:

For somebody like me, who's never seen a Rolex movement, it's hard for me to say that this movement is fake:

I'd be willing to bet the movement on these replica watches aren't that bad - they might even last a couple years without a problem (in which case, getting a $200 replica watch would actually be a good deal in terms of value).

But let's move onto the next stage of fakes: the "homages." These are watches that are created by legit watch companies, but they are blantantly... "inspired":

Left: Rolex, Center: Invicta, Right: Alpha

This is perfectly legal. It's quite interesting to me how companies like Rolex continue to thrive in an industry that doesn't honor patents or copyright protections. Companies are free to copy these designs, yet Rolex still thrives. The power of the brand! (And the power of quality - although I'd be willing to bet the Invicta would last a long time) Perhaps there's a few lessons to be learned in the software industry...

Rion, one of my coworkers, turned me onto a whole another angle to "fake" Swiss watches. The idea is actually genius.

They create a European-sounding company, get "inspired" designs from high-end brands like Patek Philippe, get the watches made cheaply in China, set a ridiculously overpriced MSRP, then always sell at a discount. Consumers end up thinking they're getting a Swiss-made watch at a cheap discount ~$150... but what they're really buying is a Chinese watch dressed up around a story of a vaunted Swiss maker. One example is Sturhling:


You'll always find Stuhrling watches at a huge discount. I have to give them credit for turning things around on its head - they fake everything but the heritage and play off people's frugality ("I'm getting a *real* Swiss watch for $150!"). (And actually, it also highlights the ridiculousness of people paying so much for watches ... but I'm one of those people now)

Posted by roy on October 20, 2009 at 11:17 PM in Watches | 5 Comments

I meant to go to bed after that last post, but instead I just spent another twenty minutes gathering a list of the watches I've bookmarked over the past couple of weeks that I think are beautiful and wanted to share them here.

If you ever need to pick a "safe" watch for a guy, I'd go with the Omega Speedmaster:

It was the watch used by NASA for the moon missions (there's a great story behind it, Google it)

Personally, I'd rather own a Tag Carrera Chrono:

The Maurice Lacroix Pontos chrono seems nicely dressy:

For me, if I ever felt like I had an extra 5 grand burning a whole in my pocket, I'd go with the IWC Portugeuse (although the fact that the 12 and 6 are cut off really bugs me):

For the more budget conscious (as far as you can go with luxury watches, anyways), the Baume & Mercier Classima is pretty awesome:

When it comes to non-chronos, the Panerai is an incredibly stylish (and PRICEY!) choice:

I love the font of the numbers. I've never seen one in real life, but based on the measurements, they seem like oversized watches.

If you're not concerned with automatic movements, Movado (and its subsidiary, ESQ) make some pretty pieces of jewelry which tell time:

Movado Fiero:

ESQ Fusion:

I recently found a guy selling this Hamilton Conservation watch used, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to pull the trigger (used watches are actually VERY reasonably priced!):

PM5K, I await a witty comment.

Posted by roy on October 13, 2009 at 02:18 AM in Watches | 6 Comments

I'd be rather remiss if I didn't write something about my latest flavor of the week. For about a month now, I've been obsessed with wrist watches.

It all started a few lazy weekends ago when I found myself up at Mission Valley, checking out a Pottery Barn ottoman in person. (Speaking of which, if that thing were $200 cheaper, I'd get it in a flash, but I cannot in my right mind pay $900 for a friggin' ottoman).

I wandered into a Tourneau's watch store, and immediately felt this sense of watch inferiority. You see, up until then, I had lived in perfect blissful ignorance about watches.

My Swiss Army watch (quartz) had happily served me for so many years:

Well I'll tell you, those watch salespeople are trained well - I left thinking, "My goodness, how could I be wearing a quartz watch? I need to get some real automatic Swiss watches!" I was smart enough to not fall for their "authorized dealer" story - I'd just get it cheaper on the Internet (and I'll tell you, the difference is huge. Frankly after a lot of research, there isn't much upside to buying from an authorized dealer versus a reputable gray market dealer like Amazon)

Of course, even the medium brand watches (Tag, Longines, Oris, Tissot, Omega, Baume & Mercier) are pretty much mass produced, so that "Swiss craftsmanship" story is bunk (and most of the watch is manufactured in China).

I did some research, and decided to get my first automatic watch:

I love the simplicity of the watch. Plus it's versatile - good for dressy and non-dressy occasions.

Being a total newb about watches, I was pretty enthralled by the casing on the back, which exposes the movement:

Since then, I've been reading up on watches like crazy. It's amazing what researching in your spare time for a month does for your knowledge.

I've amassed a huge bookmark of watches I like (they tend to all be quite simple in nature - I'm not big on the super flashy styles) which I'll probably start sharing - I do enjoy eye candy.

And of course if this is like any other of my most random hobbies (I don't think I ever shared about my coin collection), I'll most likely burn out of it after a few weeks.

But hey - accumulating random knowledge is fun!

(P.S. I am really hurting for a decent macro lens)

Posted by roy on October 13, 2009 at 01:45 AM in Watches | 1 Comments
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