C.D. Peacock Blog
2016-09-27
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Last week we covered how new materials are influencing watch performance both inside and out. In one of those posts we discussed how materials for cases, bezels, bracelets and straps are becoming more advanced in terms of durability, lighter weight and scratch resistance.

However, what we haven’t talked about is the very essence of the watch: the case itself. In fact, one of the most important design elements of a timepiece is its shape. From round to rectangular, from square to oblong, the look of a watch determines its appeal – and that starts with the case shape and its profile.

All cases are not created equal. A watch case can be artful, thoughtful, simple and elegant, or it can be bold, three dimensional, rugged and high tech in nature. One case may be easier to machine and put together than another case. In fact, cases can be milled from a solid block of material or can have dozens — even hundreds — of parts that must be put together.

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In the early years of the 20th century, during the Art Deco period, many cases were square and rectangular (such as the famed Cartier Tank or the iconic Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso). The Roaring Twenties yielded unusually shaped geometric cases and ergonomically curved cases, as well. However, by the late 1930s and into the 1940s and 1950s, we began seeing more round watches. This is because people were beginning to demand water resistant watches, and it was much easier to make a round watch water resistant than a square one with so many edges and angles.

Once the utilitarian need of water resistance was conquered, brands began working on cases that became art – and new shapes appeared, including sculpted cases, coin cases, Dali-inspired shapes and more.

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Today’s luxury watch brands offer a case for everyone. While certain sports watch companies may mill a case from a single block of metal to render it more sturdy and rugged, other brands build complex cases with dozens of parts to demonstrate their abilities to produce a case worthy of the movement inside. These multiple-part cases are no weaker or less water resistant than a solid-block case, as long as the brand has focused on gaskets, fittings, screw-lock casebacks and crowns, and an overall precision interplay of parts.

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The making of a watchcase starts from a mold—a plaster-like or 3-D printed rendition of what the case will look like. When all the parts and angles are approved, the case material is selected and high-precision cutting machines mill the case parts (lugs, sides, back, bezel, etc.). Each of these parts is then fitted together and properly fastened and finished with stunning angles, bevels and more — all of which lead to a highly recognizable finished timepiece.

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It is no easy feat making a case that is distinguishable from across a crowded room, but top watch brands do it. Stop into our store anytime and we can do a side-by-side comparison of some of the finest cases and shapes on the market.

2016-09-22
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Earlier in the week we discussed how high-tech materials from the aviation, automotive and other fields have found their way to the world of watches for cases, bracelets, bezels and straps. Today, we take a look at how high-tech materials, such as engineered ceramic and silicium, play a role inside the watch – in the mechanism.

A mechanical watch is filled with hundreds of tiny gears, teeth, ball bearings and other parts that work together harmoniously to tick off the seconds, minutes, hours and other functions a watch may hold. Typically, these mechanical movements, like the engine of a fine car, are lubricated to keep everything running smoothly.

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The constant wear and tear of metal against metal, however, often causes friction, wears down the parts and eventually, causes the oil to dry out. This is much of the reason servicing of a fine luxury watch is typically recommended every several years (just as a car needs to be serviced).

With the advent of new materials, though, certain watch brands have eliminated much of the friction — and the wear and tear — meaning a watch can go significantly (years) longer without needing lubrication or servicing. Such materials include silicium and ceramic ball bearings.

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There are several pioneers in the industry that have led the way when it comes to developing and using new movement materials. Among them are Rolex and Patek Philippe. In fact, both of these brands have been using high-tech materials for movement parts for decades – ensuring longer life for its calibers. Both also continue to develop new realms and to collect new patents for their inventions. Additionally, each brand has developed its own testing methods and its own certifications.

We invite you in any time to get a hands-on experience with some of these and other high-performance brands.

2016-09-20

While watchmaking technology has been steadily improving for more than five centuries, there always seems to be room for improvement. Today’s finest watchmakers continually push the boundaries when it comes to innovation – offering new and exciting technology, functions and even materials.

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Gold, platinum and steel will forever be forged into watch cases, but today, many brands also take their inspiration from the space, aviation, automotive and medical worlds when it comes to super high-tech materials.

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Among the favorites are engineered ceramics, multiple grades of high-tech titanium, hypoallergenic alloys, aluminium (a derivative of aluminum that can be colored and is super light weight), carbon fiber (a dense yet light-weight material that is super strong thanks to the layering or weaving of thousands of strands of fibers), kevlar and more. Some brands are even working with transparent sapphire to create cases that are virtually see through.

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The point behind these materials is not just to offer an exciting marketing angle, but, more to the point, to offer more durability, more scratch- or shock-resistance and lighter weight. Indeed, the materials used have to meet a clear objective, whether that is achieving a certain color, a certain weight or a certain aesthetic appeal.

Some brands are even building their own alloys of gold that will keep the gold from scratching or wearing in any way. This, of course, makes them even more precious in the long run.

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Additionally, brands are even perfecting the coatings they apply to the materials. Years ago, when one wanted to add a different color to a metal, the piece was bathed in an electroplating process. Today, at the high end of the luxury watch spectrum, a host of coating methods can be employed, including PVD (physical vapor deposition), DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) applications and other methods that make the coating last longer and resist scratching.

We invite you in any time to see our vast array of timepieces that utilize high-tech materials in their cases, bracelets, bezels and straps.

2016-09-15

It seems that while Smart watches are popping up all over the marketplace, not everyone is interested in the high-end models. In fact, it looks as though Apple is no longer selling its 18-karat gold watch (which carried an average retail of between $10,000 and $17,000).

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This may be because Apple execs have learned that they can't tread in the classic watch category. After all, it is difficult to expect anyone to spend $15,000 or so on a watch whose technology needs to be constantly updated. That money can be better spent on a fine timepiece with a pedigree of watchmaking history.

While most consumers seem eager to have a smart watch that can track steps, sleep patterns and more, in addition to receiving messages and alerts, this category of watch just won't steal away customers' interest in owning a traditional timepiece.

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Additionally, some watch brands, including Movado, Frederique Constant, TAG Heuer, and even Breitling, are really embracing the Smart watch or connected concept, and are unveiling a couple of traditional watches that have the connected angle. This may well be to demonstrate to today's customers that the traditional watch can be cutting-edge, too, and may be the "smarter" choice.

Even in the fashion arena, designers are jumping on the Smart bandwagon. Last week, during New York Fashion Week, Michael Kors showed off his newest Smart watch, the Michael Kors Access smartwatch featuring designs based on the brand's most iconic styles. We expect to see more designers, watch brands and tech brands strutting their stuff in the smart category — but predominantly in the under $2,000 price range.

Stop in any time to see our grand selection of fine watches and maybe even a few connected pieces.

2016-09-14
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After years of being perceived as a watch for women, Chanel presents the Monsieur de Chanel timepiece — designed especially for men. Not only that, but the watch is powered by an all-new in-house-made movement.

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The Monsieur de Chanel watch is an Instant Jumping Hour watch with a Retrograde Minute indication. Powered by the Calibre 1, the Chanel’s first in-house high-watchmaking movement, the digital hour display at 6:00 jumps to the next digit every hour, while at the same time the minutes — shown on an arc from 0-60 on the dial — tracks the minutes until it reaches 60. At that moment, the minute hand flies back to 0 to start its trek again and the hour indicator jumps to the next hour — a harmonious dance of beauty and elegance. The watch also features a subsidiary seconds dial for design balance.

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The Calibre 1 is a manual-winding mechanical movement consisting of 170 components, with the complications integrated into the bottom plate instead of built on as additional modules to the base. The Caliber 1, with jumping hours and retrograde minutes, was five years in the research and development stages.

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A lion — the symbol of strength and power, and the brand's seal of the in-house movement — graces the crown and the buckle. The dial resides beneath a slightly domed sapphire crystal. In 2016, just 300 numbered movements will be made. Exactly 150 will be housed in a Beige Gold 40mm case and 150 in a white gold 40mm case. While the watch is not in stores yet, it pays homage to the high standards of Chanel watchmaking.

2016-09-07
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With Labor Day behind us, it seems to be a signal of oncoming fall – shorter days, earlier nights. This makes it a great time to invest in a watch that tells time in the dark. Luminous watches that don’t look luminous during the day but that glow brightly at night or in the dark took about a century to perfect.

In the early 1900s Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radium. It was only a decade or so later that watch companies and dial makers turned to the substance as a luminous aid. Little did they know the dangers involved in using the material, which emits particles that have the effect of ionizing and glowing fluorescent.

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Dial makers developed a radium-based paint and, in 1914, Radium Luminous Materials Corporation began producing the phosphorescent paint for watch hands and markers. Workers would paint the dials and often lick the tip of the brush to get a finer point on it for thinner, more exact lines. They began getting sick from the radiation within the paint and many died. A group of women banned together in the late 1920s and took the company to court, which led to its closing and the implementation of new rules about the material.

Scientists and researchers looked for other options and, in the 1960s, found tritium, which was more harmful than radium, but limits were established on how much could be used in a paint (vintage 1960s watches using this material may have a single or double T on the dial).

Eventually laws prohibited the use of radioactive paint and in the 1990s Super-LumiNova was unveiled. The non-radioactive substance is the material of choice today. It offers a strong glow (in several colors) without the danger. Additionally, the material has been improved over the past 20 years and is brighter today than it was in its original forms. The material glows after absorbing sufficient UV light, and the strength of the glow depends on how many layers of Super-LumiNova are applied.

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Some watch companies also use a new tritium-based system called “Gaseous Tritium Light Source” (GTLS), wherein the material is encased in tiny glass tubes that are placed together to form numerals or markers. This system is brighter than Super-LumiNova but also more expensive and more difficult to execute.

At any rate, now that you know how much research has gone into creating watches with lumen, we invite you to stop in any time and see our great selection of luminous watches.

2016-09-01
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Planning a trip to Paris in September? If so, you may want to visit the 2016 Biennale des Antiquaires that is taking place at the Grand Palais from September 10-18. This year, for the first time ever, the Biennale organizers are working with the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) of Geneva to showcase a thematic exhibition based on "The Mastery of Time" book about man's quest to track time.

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While the Biennale transforms the Grand Palais into one of the foremost showcases for art and culture, the new time-themed exhibition is guaranteed to bridge the gap between the past and the future when it comes to timepieces. On display will be artifacts and historical watches that span centuries, including sundials, table clocks, astronomical clocks, pocket watches, automatons and more. Additionally, master craftsmen and watchmakers will be on hand throughout the exhibit.

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Credits: All images courtesy of FHH.

2016-08-30
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Recently, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH) released its July export statistics, and while the overall numbers weren’t on a roll, the U.S. market came out on top. For nearly a decade, the Asian markets — led by Hong Kong — were the largest consumers of Swiss watches, with the U.S. not too far behind.

However, with tough economic times in Asia, the United States unseated Hong Kong as the top importer of Swiss watches — accounting for 10.9 percent of all Swiss watch exports during the month of July (10.7 percent of the exports that month went to Hong Kong). The last time the United States held this top spot was nine years ago.

2016-08-25

We often get questions about which type of watch strap is the best. The truth of the matter is that first and foremost, this is a personal choice. However, the longevity of your strap has a lot to do with outside influences that include activity, use, climate and temperature. Here, we give you a simple guide to determining whether you want rubber, leather, fabric or metal on your wrist.

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Rubber
If you are a water person who indulges frequently in swimming a rubber strap may be the best choice. Rubber weathers the elements beautifully. It dries quickly after getting out of the water and does not stick to the wrist. Additionally, rubber does not fade or lose its luster or hue. Many of today’s vulcanized rubber straps are blends of polycarbonate and other materials to keep them at top performance levels without getting dry or brittle.

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Leather
If you are thinking about a watch for the office, where the air is conditioned, a leather strap is a good choice. Leather straps are comfortable to wear and give a great choice in hides, textures and color. Leather choices range from calfskin and ostrich to stingray, crocodile, alligator, snake and more. Leather is relatively easy to take care of in the right temperatures, but – in heat and humidity – these straps tend to get a bit sticky on the wrist.

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Fabric/NATO
Fabric straps come in all types. For women, a fabric strap is typically reserved for dress watches and is made of shimmering materials such as silk, satin, even lace. These materials can stain, although most brands protect their fabric with a special treatment. For men, the fabric watch strap predominantly comes in the form of a NATO strap. Easily one of the hottest trends on the market today, NATO straps convert any watch from serious to sporty with ease. Sometimes referred to as military straps, NATO straps have roots dating back to the early 1970s when British soldiers used nylon straps that were highly durable, could be easily cleaned and were not expensive to buy. NATO straps are easy to change and usually slip through the top lugs, pass over the case back and though the bottom lugs. The system acts as double security, too, because one need not worry about spring bars breaking or popping as with typical straps. They are very durable and highly functional, as they dry quickly, don’t stick to the wrist and are designed for extreme wear.

Various Styles of Metal Watch Bracelets

Metal
Another material good for water sports and sticky temperatures, metal bracelets are typically extremely sturdy. Of course, we are not talking about gold bracelets (those can scratch easily and are designed mostly for office and dress wear). Bracelets made of stainless steel, titanium and other alloys are strong and hold up well in outdoor terrains and activities. Titanium is very lightweight, and many people in warm climates prefer this feel on the wrist. With today’s technology, steel and titanium can also be found in a host of colors thanks to PVD and other coating treatments. One of the nice things about bracelet watches is that they are easy to care for — they can be rinsed and cleaned with a soft cloth. The downside: depending on the material, they can scratch.

In the end, the choice of material for your watch strap comes down to your lifestyle and your own personal taste.

2016-08-23
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History buffs and watch lovers alike will be intrigued by a very special pocket watch coming up for sale this week that was purchased in 1841 by Abraham Lincoln as a wedding gift for Mary Todd. While Todd never received the watch, you can — if you go to the Baltimore Art & Antiques Show (August 25-28) where it is being put up for sale for $175,000.

The 18-karat gold and blue enamel pocket watch is studded with diamonds and is a solid example of mid-19th century matchmaking. Currently owned by Gotta Have It! Collectibles Inc., the watch has had several owners over the years and is being sold with documentation showing its provenance, as well as a gift letter, original box and key.

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When Lincoln and Mary Todd were to be married, he purchased the watch as a gift for her and had the inside back cover engraved with the words: “To Miss Mary Todd from A.L. 1841.” However, their original engagement was broken and he later gave the watch to a friend, Mary Curtis, in an impromptu gesture.

Curtis took the watch home thinking Lincoln bought it for her and then saw the inscription. The recounting of the events note that Curtis was heartbroken and put the watch in a trunk, where it remained for 30 years. Near death, she gifted it to a friend in 1872. The watch has sold several times since, each time rising in the price paid. It is a grand example of how timepieces with provenance hold and increase their value.

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