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The Watch Appreciation Thread (Reviews and Photos of Men's Timepieces by Rolex, Patek Philippe, Brei

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by gdl203, May 20, 2007.

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  1. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Yes, all movements must contend with isochronism, but the extra-long mainspring in the 5001 makes it a particularly serious and challenging issue. As for the purpose of combining an automatic winding function and a long power reserve: you can wear the watch one day, let it sit for almost a week, then put it back on again without having to wind it. Hand-winding a long power reserve movement is a pain in the ass. Also, it is arguably a way of contending with isochronism error. Since the rotor keeps the mainspring winding as the watch is worn, it will sustain itself in a narrower range of tension. When I keep my 5001 on a winder, it is extremely precise (+3-5 seconds a day).

    So, I think you can rightfully argue that the temperamental precision of the watch is a real issue, but I'm not sure it impeaches the watch's legitimacy. It's a trade-off for added functionality in other areas. And, all in all, it's an interesting engineering story.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013
  2. Flake

    Flake Senior member

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    But Foo, Rolex didn't start off as a Manufacture. They didn't even start off as a Swiss company.
     
  3. apropos

    apropos Senior member

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    Just remembered a few more innovations with regards to increasing power reserve...

    3. use a fundamentally different material for the mainspring, one which can a. be molded in such a way that its thickness tapers from the center of the coil to the outside of the coil to compensate for torque asymmetry as the spring unwinds, and which b. offers better native potential to store energy. I only know of one material which has been found to be a superior material to regular metal spiral springs - fibreglass. :eh:

    4. increase the efficiency of the gear train to reduce extraneous energy loss between barrel and escapement. This is pretty self explanatory, but in the broadest terms one accomplishes it by reducing the friction coefficient. You reduce the friction coefficient through better gear tooth profiles, materials with native lower coefficients of friction (e.g. synthetic diamond as opposed to brass), and better gear train design.

    5. the last method I can think of to increase the power reserve is to remove air from a watch. "Remove the air?!" I hear you say? Think about the oscillating balance wheel, the air resistance it encounters as it oscillates, and the energy losses that entails. Pretty self explanatory again.

    All of these above innovations were implemented by Cartier (!!) in a concept watch, which has a - wait for it - 32 day power reserve.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013
  4. Newcomer

    Newcomer Senior member

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    So, just wanted to give a shoutout to Stitchy.

    My friend was looking for a Michele watch, and she had nothing but good things to say about working with him. And she can be a bit of a hard ass.

    And the obligatory pic...

    [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. Belligero

    Belligero Senior member

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    Yes, you need a special key to wind this 31-day-reserve beast:

    [​IMG]

    Though personally, I kinda dig the interaction of hand-winding something like JLC's 8-day Reverso movement, and they've somehow managed to make the winding effort similar to that of a conventional-reserve watch. And that's another interesting engineering story. :teach:

    [​IMG]
     
  6. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    The founders moved the company to Switzerland three years after founding it in London. It wasn't even called "Rolex" until after the move. Ten years after setting up shop in Switzerland, they bought-out their movement supplier, bringing production in-house. These details are so early and marginal in the company's incubation that I don't think you can make any material case that Rolex isn't originally Swiss or fundamentally a manufacture.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013
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  7. Flake

    Flake Senior member

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    Wasn't aware that they didn't adopt the Rolex name until after the move to Switzerland. I learn something new every time I read this thread. I guess that's why I am enjoying it so much!
     
  8. Dino944

    Dino944 Senior member

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    Rolex founder, Hans Wilsdorf, and his brother-in-law founded Wilsdorf and Davis around 1905. Later it became Rolex and the company eventually bought Aegler, the company it was buying movements from. Over the years they also bought case makers and bracelet makers (such as Gay Freres which used to make bracelets for AP, PP, IWC, Rolex and Tag)....and became an integrated company.
     
  9. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    Any hand-wind JLC that I have tried has been a pleasure to wind - smooth as silk - including the 8 day. I don't exactly have a hard life, but I can't even conceive of how soft an existence one must live to find hand-winding such an exquisite piece to be a collosal pain. First world problems indeed.

    I would add that I don't really get the attraction of such super-long power reserves in the first place - and for much the same reason. I don't find winding and setting a watch to remotely register as an inconvenience in my life. In fact I very much enjoy the interaction - as you describe it - in so doing. My hand-wind Moser has "only" a 3 day power reserve. I can't say that I have ever found myself thinking post-wind: "Wow that was tough! If I only had to do this once just once per week instead of twice." And it isn't as silky as the JLC.
     
  10. Dino944

    Dino944 Senior member

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    I am not sure that I would catagorize the Portuguese chronograph as an inferior watch. That is a rather broad statement and possibly unfair. The Portuguese chrono is sort of an entry level IWC chronograph, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. It exposes the brand to a broader audience of potential consumers, possibly younger consumers, and provides revenue to use toward research and development, and to allows a company to focus on more costly lower production specialty watches. Even Patek, AP, VC, Rolex etc have their own respective entry level models.

    In addition, the cost of designing your own chronograph movement is incredibly high, so many companies opt to use outsourced movements. As I mentioned previously AP and VC still use F. Piguet 1185s in their RO and Overseas Chronographs. Patek used a Lemania in their chronographs until recently, while VC continues to use a Lemania in their higher end chronographs. There is no shame in using outsourced movments, if the movement is of high quality and is finished properly by the company using it.

    An inhouse movement provides some level of exclusivity in that it may not be found in other brands. However, more importantly collectors should consider whether its significant to a brand or particular model. However, its not a guarantee of superiority. Sometimes I hear people brag that their watch has an inhouse caliber, and there are times that for similar money there are watches with an outsourced movement I would prefer (if buying within a certain price range an Omega Speedy Pro with its outsouced manual wind movement is tough to beat). I think people get too wrapped up in whether a watch has an in house movement, yet they just presume inhouse is better. In the vintage world its far less relevant...just take a look at the prices of vintage Rolex chronographs, Patek Chronographs, VC Chronos, and AP Chronos.

    As long as a person understands that the Portuguese Chrono does not follow in the tradition of the original Portuguese watches, they don't mind that, its within their budget, and it suits their taste and needs, then who are we to call it inferior.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013
  11. Dino944

    Dino944 Senior member

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    Congrats and enjoy it!
     
  12. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I think you are being too soft in your interpretation of "inferior."

    The Port. Chrono is a perfectly fine watch. It has a tried and true ebauche movement that has been thoughtfully reworked by IWC. However, as a Portuguese and within the realm of serious watch collecting, it is indeed inferior. First of all, it lacks the crucial element that defines the Portuguese: a pocket watch sized movement that naturally calls for a larger case. Second, the fact it is an entry level watch significantly lowers its desirability. Many compromises had to be made in order to bring the price down, and they are plainly evident. Two off the top of my head: the awkward case shape necessary to fit a relatively small movement, and the cam-actuated chronograph function (as opposed to one activated by a column wheel). Third, in-house movements do matter. Watch enthusiasm is not about brute functionality, but history and design. It is not about whether an in-house movement works "better" than an ebauche from ETA, which is as reliable as an AK-47 and is near impossible to improve upon in that regard. It's about each watchmaker's unique problem-solving approach. The priciest, most collectible watches are the ones with the most interesting movements, for which you can tell a story that makes sense in light of the brand's heritage, not the ones that keep the best time or are most reliable.

    The Lemania-based Audemars and Vacherons are a weak counter-example, as that particular ebauche is singularly unique. It is extremely high-grade, highly exclusive, and using chronograph ebauches is a long-established practice. The same cannot be said of any other sort of ebauche.

    Anyways, in-house chronographs are becoming more and more common. IWC, JLC, Patek, Rolex, etc., each field one. Vintage watch prices may not be effected by this trend, but the future collectibility of current models certainly will be.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013
  13. rnguy001

    rnguy001 Senior member

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    Congrats to her! Very cool watch and that doesn't surprise me in the least to hear about her great experience with Stitch

     
  14. rnguy001

    rnguy001 Senior member

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    Not to bemoan a small point Dino, but I have often felt the Port chrono was always a tad on the high side for price point for an IWC chrono. I think their Aquatimer and Pilot chronos are the cheaper of their chronographs. Agree with you about in-house movements and their relative importance to collectors.


     
  15. Dino944

    Dino944 Senior member

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    Foo,

    I understand and mentioned that the Port Chrono does not follow in the tradition of the original Portuguese watches. Yes, perhaps my interpretation of inferior is "soft." If compared to the a more upscale and true to original Portuguese themed watch, yes it can be considered inferior. However, when compared to watches in its price catagory, I am not sure I would call it inferior. The Port chrono is an entry level watch and as such compromises were made, but that is common place among any entry level item be it a watch, a car, or a television.

    If you do not like my chronograph example, then consider JLC Cal 920. Never used by JLC, but used in the original AP RO Jumbo, the original PP Jumbo Nautilus, and VC's 222. Its often considered one of the finest automatic movements. Today, since AP owns the rights (I know they owned 40% of JLC until a few years back) they consider it an inhouse movement when used in their watches,...but its a JLC development. AP's cal 3120 is lovely and more practical with a quickset date, but I prefer the ulta thin 2120 for historic reason, thinness (which was considered an art form until everyone went ga-ga over giant watches), and for its beauty.

    I'm not against inhouse made movements, and I do understand the value many people place on them. I just think there are also some great watches that have outsourced movements.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013
  16. ChicagoRon

    ChicagoRon Senior member

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    Question on outsourced movements. I was always under the impression that the reason the El-Premiro series Daytonas are so rare in stainless is that Rolex had trouble making a profit unless they sold it as a precious metal watch and profit on the metal.

    First, is that correct?

    If so, then wouldn't the same hold true for other companies that have a manufacture? Aren't they reducing profit by using an outsourced movement (unless it's a complication they don't make at all)?
     
  17. TheEza

    TheEza Member

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  18. rnguy001

    rnguy001 Senior member

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    saw this today at the Mall - thought it was pretty fancy. Sat well for being 44mm. The 2-dial layout, silver dial, and blued hands reminded me of the 5001-07 I was wearing. Overall I very much lusted over it. :nodding:

    Didn't even bother me the saleswoman was trying to explain to me that Glashutte was German, and that automatic movements don't require batteries etc.

    Pics from the web.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Belligero

    Belligero Senior member

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    Not quite. Their availability in stainless steel was limited compared to the demand for them because Zenith wasn't able to supply enough ébauches relative to what Rolex could have sold. While I'm sure they weren't exactly losing money on the stainless models, the margins are higher for precious-metal ones, so they put a higher proportion of the movements into two-tone and 18K watches than they otherwise would have. Until recently, if you wanted a Daytona from a Rolex dealer, you could put your name on a list and wait years for a steel one, or just get a non-steel version.

    The Zenith-based Rolex cal. 4030 wasn't a typical outsourcing job, though. It was extensively modified to the point of having about 50% different parts from the base movement, including a completely different escapement with Rolex's free-sprung balance wheel. Another factor in the lower availability was the extent to which the movement was handbuilt.

    I very much doubt that buying something like an off-the-shelf or lightly modified ETA movement, as so many watch companies (I hesitate to use the term "manufacturers" in this case, pun certainly intended) do, is less profitable than making one in-house. It's an efficient but somewhat lazy way to make a watch, and you're just not going to beat ETA's pricing by manufacturing in-house unless you're Seiko. I have no problem with this practice for companies who price honestly and don't try to obfuscate the movement's origins, but at a certain cost level, it's reasonable to want something a bit less mundane under the dial.

    The traditional practice of sourcing an ébauche from JLC, F. Piguet, Lemania, Valjoux, etc. and doing the finishing and assembly in-house is a separate matter, and at smaller production volumes, I wouldn't presume to speculate on its impact on profit margins.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013
  20. Dino944

    Dino944 Senior member

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    Hi Ron,

    The El-Primero powered Daytonas were grossly underpriced and demand was insanely high (which led to some AD's charging significantly above list price and also people flipping the watches and doubling their money in 24 hours...although Rolex did not get a part of that). It has been said that Rolex only had a limited number of movements from Zenith, and hence they chose to use more of them for the steel and gold and all gold models, which of course have a much higher profit margin. It should also be noted there were numerous significant changes to the movement, which had to be done by hand which also limited how many movements they could produce (The current movement is signifcantly less complicated and easier to produce and service). If Rolex had charged more for their SS Daytonas they would have gotten it. There were waiting lists at most ADs, and as mentioned some AD's were nearly doubling the list price and still selling them. When I got interested in them around 1994 the list price was only $3,800. By the time I got my first in all steel it was $4,350...which was still relatively inexpensive when compared to other chronographs. A Cartier Pasha chronograph was about $6,800, APs Royal Oak Chronograph was $12,500 when released around 1998, the VC Overseas was about $11,000, a Breguet or Blancpain were each about 7,000-8,000 (all of which use the F.Piguet 1185). It wasn't until nearly the year 2000 that it was about $6,000 and it remained there until 2005 when it went up to $6,500...while chronographs from other companies continued to have more significant price increases. For more than a decade it was the watch with the highest demand, highest resale, and it was the closest thing to a complicated watch Rolex made. Dealers often tried to use it as a "Carrot" selling it only to so called "better customers" or telling people they will sell it to them for list price if they also buy something like a Day-Date.

    As for reducing profit by using an outsourced chronograph movement, chronograph movements are very complicated and costly to develop. Hence, a company has to determine whether its worth it to spend the R&D to produce one of their own. In the end Rolex wanted to be self sufficient and did develop their own movement cal 4130. I will admit my first inhouse movement Daytona did have a problem with the chronograph function after about a year and had to go back under warranty for repairs...I never had any problems with my El Primero based Daytonas. My second inhouse Daytona never had any problems. However, many companies, including VC, AP, Cartier, IWC and a ton of others still use outsourced movements for chronographs.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013
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