Friday

Vintage Watching - Hamilton Odyssee 2001 & Altair Electric

Just noticed a couple of my favorite vintage Hamilton watches are up for auction this week. The 1969 Odyssee 2001, introduced in conjunction with Stanley Kubrick's "2001 - A Space Odyssey". Hamilton was hired by the film to create a watch worn by astronauts of the future. Unfortunately, they didn't release the prop version to the public but they did try to cash in on the success of the movie by producing this one. To avoid lawsuits, they altered the spelling from Odyssey to Odyssee. And just last year, Hamilton released an interpretation of the film version in a signed limited edition of...2001.

Click for the 1969 Hamilton Odyssee 2001

And below, the ultra rare Altair Electric. Released in 1961 in very low numbers leading it to be one of the more collectible of the Electric series. Dramatically asymmetric design by the master of Lancaster, Richard Arbib. Their other auction features the original mesh bracelet!


Related Posts;
All Hamilton Stories


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Reversing Time in Francis Ford Coppola's New Flick



Little is shown in the movie trailer for "Youth Without Youth", Francis Ford Coppola’s first new film in over 10 years but watch it and you'll understand why I'm posting it here. Coppola adapted, produced and directed the movie based on the 1976 novel by Romanian-born religious historian Mircea Eliade.

The movie stars Tim Roth as a 70-year-old who is struck by lightning and suddenly gets younger and more brilliant.



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Thursday

The Time of your Life and Death - Mr. Jones Watches

The Accurate, Mantra, Decider, Right or Wrong, and More or Less are all the latest limited edition conceptual timepieces from Mr. Jones Watches.

Last time I featured Mr. Jones Watches-->Link, he had an exhibition-only series of prototype electronic watches developed to explore new cultural expressions, technologies of timekeeping and how they relate to contemporary life. "Each one was the embodiment of a social critique or observation." With a perfect sense of black humor, cultural irony and dry wit, London based Crispin Jones, the man behind the Mister, described his concepts as "work which lives in the intersection between Fine Art and Design - broadly this area is known as Critical Design - using the language and tools of design to articulate a critical perspective."

Now, his latest collection has taken this concept to public consumption. Featuring analog watches with rotating discs, each style of Mr. Jones Watches will be produced in a limited numbered series of 100. (£79.99 each - approx $159) Don't lose any more time, they're close to selling out! And just released this week, a series of Mr. Jones Watch videos by artist Steve Ounanian. Click play on any of the videos below.

The Accurate

The Accurate, evolved from his original Summissus watch, it's a watch that fosters humility in the wearer by featuring a mirrored dial to reflect the viewer together with a semi-subtle Memento Mori reminder of your inevitable mortal timeframe. The hour and minute discs spell out "Remember" and "You Will Die".

Crispin mentioned, "For the Mr Jones Watches project I worked with two other designers (Ross Cooper and Graham Pullin) we took a fairly broad overview of what the watch means to people (as an object rather than as a time keeping tool). For part of the research we tried to look at interesting things which people did in the past, i'm always quite drawn to products which didn't quite succeed in the marketplace." He also let me know that my humble Watchismo websites have been "an invaluable resource for information like this."



The Accurate interpreted by Steve Ounanian->Video

The original "Summissus" from his 2004 one-off series
Site-->Link & Video-->Link

The Mantra alternates a very positive statement (e.g. "you are amazing") with a very negative one (e.g. "nobody likes you"). The Mantra makes the arrogant person more humble and makes the humble more confident.


The Mantra interpreted by Steve Ounanian-->Video

The Decider is a watch for indecisive people - when you need to make a decision you simply look at your watch to see whether it is displaying "YES" or "NO" (if you are inclined to cheat then you can pull out the winding crown which stops the mechanism giving you an answer with no ambiguity).

The watch can also answer a more complex question - when you receive it tell the watch what you want to know, then wait until the battery runs out - whatever the watch stops on YES or NO is your answer...



The Decider interpreted by Steve Ounanian-->Video



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Wednesday

The Radium Girls - Dying to paint watch dials

"The story of the radium watch-dial painters is a classic case in the history of occupational disease. Attracted by easy work and high wages, these young women painted the luminous numbers on wristwatches that, designed for soldiers involved in the trench warfare of World War I, became a consumer fad in the 1920s. The women were taught to sharpen the tips of their paintbrushes between their lips and, as a result, they absorbed substantial quantities of radium. Their tragic illnesses and deaths led to crucial discoveries in radiobiology and contributed to the establishment of standards for the level of exposure to radiation in the workplace." -From The New England Journal of Medicine

I first learned about the Radium Girls when reading this AlanWatch article. He had conducted his own interesting X-Ray and Geiger Counter tests of antique watches with lingering radioactivity. And further explained "In the late 1920s, some dentists began to notice a high incidence of jawbone deterioration among young women, most of whom had worked at the dial company. Later, cancers of the head and neck, anemias, and other disorders were found, resulting in some early deaths." (
and it has been said that 90% of these women died by 1931)

Alan's false-color optical density analysis shows that the crystal spotting is most intense at 10 and 4 o'clock, where the red color is indicated.

Undark Advertisement

Radium Girls Wikipedia page-->Link
Damn Interesting article-->Link

And below, the book, "Radium Girls: Women and Industrial Health Reform, 1910-1935" by Claudia Clark;





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Tuesday

The Time of One Hand Clapping - Botta Uno Automatic

Two hands? That just so second millennium. Get with the times man and check out the minimal Botta Uno one handed watch. Designed by Klaus Botta and available in mechanical automatic or quartz (229-490 Euros).

Seconds? minutes?? Screw it all to hell. With the Uno, be on time-ish.



Botta Designs-->Link



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1934 Midget Icebox - The Coolest Watch in the World

Well, maybe you won't know what time it is, but you'll be the coolest cat in that sweaty speakeasy! From an article in the September 1934 issue of Popular Science. Original text below...
ICEBOX ON WRIST TO COOL THE WHOLE BODY

"Purdue University physicists say the whole body may be kept cool during the hottest weather by a recently developed miniature refrigerator that straps to the wrist in the manner of a watch. The refrigerator is somewhat larger than a wrist watch and encloses a pellet of dry ice— solid carbon dioxide. As the dry ice evaporates, it forms an invisible gas. Escaping from the case, the gas has the same effect as cold water poured over the wrists. It lowers the temperature of the blood in the arteries and this cooled blood is carried to every part of the body. The metal case is insulated from the wrist by rubber, as the temperature of the dry ice is 109 degrees below zero and its contact with the skin would result in a severe burn. With proper insulation, however, there is no danger of this occurring. And thus the device can be worn in perfect safety."

The original issue

Via Modern Mechanix

Related Posts;
Other vintage watch ads & videos


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Monday

New Photos of the Breguet Tradition 7047 Fusee Tourbillon

I've been waiting to see more invasive photographs of the fusee and chain mechanism of the Breguet Tradition 7047 Tourbillon and am happy to direct you to Watching Horology where that feat has been captured in great detail-->Link

"The second of this year's remarkable tourbillons from Breguet is the La Tradition Tourbillon, which extends the tourbillon as an art form both forwards into the future and which also reaches backwards in time, incorporating one of the rarest horological complications of them all- the fusee and chain."

"Fusees in clocks and pocket watches were not great rarities but in the wristwatch they are virtually unheard of, and a combination of the fusee and tourbillon is almost unknown. Lange & Sohne has presented fusee and chain wristwatches with the tourbillon, and more recently there is the Vianney Halter Cabestan, but the Breguet La Tradition Tourbillon is a totally unique experience aesthetically."

From the very informative article by Jack Forster of Horomundi-->Link


Related Posts;
Production Cabestan-->Link
Prototype Cabestan-->Link
All Tourbillon-->Link
All Breguet Related-->Link

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The Aqua Airking and the Aquatic Arm

Sometimes you can match your watch to suit your suit, tie in with your tie, or in this case, look cool with your tattoo.

Josh Rubin, founder of one of the best blogs in the world, Cool Hunting pairs his vintage Rolex Airking with customized aqua dial with his fresh sleeve of water themed tattoos. Realizing how fantastic they looked together, I immediately requested he share a photo after having dinner with the Cool Hunting crew - A great group of people I don't see often enough but always show me a good time. I was originally interviewed for their video series (which by the way inspired the creation of this blog!) and have been subsequently contributing watch stories to their site.

Josh also let me know that his other arm will soon have a theme of fire -- so I'm already thinking of some watches he should buy. Perhaps any from my recent Clockwork Orange photo-post would work...


Josh Rubin (Pre-inking)


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Friday

The FREAK(s) of Ulysse Nardin

There is no dial, there are no hands, there is no crown, and the movement itself rotates to tell the time. One of the more important developments in the history of watchmaking, the Ulysse Nardin Freak is definitely a new mechanical breed. It's as if the watchmakers lived on The Island of Doctor Moreau. One of the earlier mustations (2003's No.339) is being offered at auction next week-->Link

As explained by HH, "The concept was a technical tour de force, requiring the combined efforts of three of watchmaking’s most renowned engineers. The arrangement of parts was inconceivably unorthodox - it has essentially no true case! The crystal and the bezel are actually part of the movement; the Freak has no crown, no hands and the movement pivoted to indicate time."

No. 339 Freak

And most recently, Ulysse Nardin developed the 'InnoVision' Freak (below). Improving breakthroughs with more extensive use of the light flexible material silicium throughout the movement and 96 non-lubricated ball bearings guide the barrel both vertically and laterally, in fact, the entire watch is now oil/coating/lubrication free.


A chart of the 10 innovations of the InnoVision Freak

If you'd like to attempt a deeper understanding of this wormhole of complexity, continue reading in depth articles here-->Horomundi and-->The Purists or download the PDF's at the Ulysse Nardin's website-->Link

The Freak is the brainchild of Dr. Ludwig Oechslin, as interpreted by Ulysse Nardin's research and production team. "The Freak" is a tourbillon of 7-day duration, without hands or winding crown. In most tourbillons, the balance wheel assembly rotates once per minute in a cage. In the "Freak", the whole movement rotates once per hour, the drive wheel meshing with teeth around the whole circumference of the dial, a similar arrangement mounted below driving the hour wheel. The mainspring is located underneath the movement and spans the entire diameter of the case. The extra large size of the mainspring provides the watch with a power reserve of one week. Winding is accomplished by turning the back of the case anticlockwise. The “Dual Direct Escapement” invented by Dr. Ludwig Oechslin, astronomer, mathematician and master watchmaker. Among his many inventions for Ulysse Nardin are the "Perpetual Ludwig" and the "Trilogy" of astronomical wristwatches. The “Dual Direct Escapement” consists of 2 impulse wheels transmitting the energy directly to the balance wheel; they each rotate in the same direction and connect alternately with the balance. Using the technology of the CSEM (Centre Suisse d'Electronique et de Microtechnique), the 2 wheels at the center of the “Dual Direct Escapement” are plasma-engraved out of single-crystal silicon, the material from which computer chips are made. This technique offers the greatest hardness coupled with low weight."

Source - Antiquorum

Released earlier this year, the "The FREAK DIAMonSIL® in platinum is the first timepiece sporting a synthetic nanocrystal diamond escapement grown on a silicium raw part." (source -> HH)

Ulysse Nardin website-->Link


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Unseen DeWitt Incognito Watch sells for Half Million!

The DeWitt Incognito Watch Concept No.1 was part of yesterday's Only Watch auction in Monaco but was the only watch not presented to bidders. The buyer, Mr. Jimmy Tan (Prince Jewellery and Watch Company), one of the best-known Hong Kong distributors of Haute Horlogerie paid 400,000 Euros (approx $550,000). The watch will be delivered and hopefully unveiled early in 2008. All that is known about the watch is that it's equipped with a flying tourbillon regulator endowed with a 21-day power reserve. The supporting structure of the mechanism, made from a lithium-aluminium alloy.

More info via Timezone

Other record breaking sales included the Patek Philippe Nautilus Pièce Unique for 525,000 Euro (approx $740,000) and the follow-up Richard Mille/Philippe Starck collaboration that hammered at 320,000 Euro (approx $450,000).



Only Watch auction-->Link
DeWitt website-->Link
Patek Philippe website-->Link
Richard Mille website-->Link

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Thursday

Off With Your Hands! The First Digital Clocks

A collection of rare historical timepieces is now on show at the premises of A. Lange & Söhne. Entitled “From Dresden to Glashütte – the roots of precision watchmaking in Saxony”, the exhibition features selected clocks and pocket watches from the “Mathematisch-Physikalischen Salon” collection.

These ingenious timepieces by prominent names like Seyffert, Schumann and Gutkaes, chronicle the history and evolution of the watchmaking industry in Glashütte. The highlight of the exhibition is undoubtedly a model of the “Five-Minute Clock” above by Hofuhrmacher Ludwig Teubner, one of the earliest versions of a digital display. The hours are Roman numerals and the minutes are five minute increment digits.


via Goldarths Review


According to A. Lange & Söhne, this was the original digital clock. Built for Dresden's Semper Opera in 1841 by Friedrich Gutkaes and Adolph Lange, and is conveniently legible from all seats in the house.


A. Lange & Söhne History-->Link


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Tuesday

Rare Raunchy Retrograde

An interesting little flyback sector double retrograde watch by Jozef Op de Beeck appeared here-->Link

The hours on the lower right, minutes on the upper left, both indicated by hands that fly-back diagonally across the dial. And it's not really raunchy like some graphic antique automaton watches, but does have a few bas-reliefs of a naked lady lounging on the bezel.


Related posts;
1900 Sector Retrograde
Wandering Hour History
Retired Retrogradation
Erotic Antique Automaton



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The Time that fell to Earth - Meteorite Watches

It seems appropriate to follow up the Omega Moon Mission Collection with another extraterrestrial themed timepiece -- Wristwatches made of meteorite, the truest of space-age materials.

These rare rocks traveled millions of years to find this infinitely tiny speck of a planet, somehow not completely burn up in our atmosphere, find their way to land instead of water, be fortunate enough to be discovered by modern man, delivered to a luxury watch company, and wind up on your privileged little wrist.

"Iron meteorites are composed primarily of various alloys of iron and nickel, and are derived from molten planetary cores that were broken apart billions of years ago. The crystalline patterns within Meteorites are known as a "Widmanstätten Pattern" or structure, named for Alois von Beckh Widmanstätten. These patterns can only form in the vacuum of space where the molten pieces of planetary cores come into contact with very few molecules to which they can transfer their heat and thereby cool. The large metallic crystals characteristic of meteorites require literally millions of years of cooling to form from a molten planetary core fragment. It has been estimated that it took about 1000 years for these molten pieces of planetary core to cool by just 1 degree celsius."

I'm getting carried away...so here are a few examples of meteor watches over the years;

Up at the very top are a variety of Jaquet Droz Meteorite watches. They have been producing many rare mineral dials in recent years and have been using meteorite for some of their most exclusive models.

A 2001 Rolex Daytona with meteorite dial

And the VERY rare Kryptonite Daytona
(some VERY bad watch humor)

1989 Ulysse Nardin "Planetarium Copernicus"

An phenomenal astronomical watch with six meteorite rings. A domed sapphire crystal divided into 12 sections that start from the center (the Earth) and radiate outward in a spider design. The six revolving meteorite rings are engraved with the names of five planets, each on a gold cartouche fixed with a central disc representing the Sun. The Earth disc fixed to one of the meteorite rings attached to the Moon which rotates around the Earth. The outer gold ring is engraved with the 12 signs of the zodiac and the months. One of 65 produced.

Antoine Preziuso's Calibre T21 Muonionalusta Meteorite Tourbillon, No.1 above for the 2005 "Only Watch" auction.

Martin Braun "Selene Meteorite"

"What goes with a moon phase better than authentic meteorite?" The oversized moonphase display is one of the most realistic, with accuracy to the hour. Displayed by two dark disks rotating under a translucent moon.

1990s Corum Meteorite Peory
Being auctioned here-->Link
And the Corum Meteorite Zagami #2-->Link

So, how does one top meteorite as a rare material? Perhaps the answer begins with Romain Jerome. His latest watches have introduced a series made from the actual rusted steel of the Titanic. Incredibly expensive models like the Tourbillon model shown below. Even the dial somehow integrates recovered coal from the shipwreck.

Romain Jerome Titanic DNA Tourbillon

Update! I had no idea while writing this meteorite watch story, this deadly Kryptonite-like meteor struck Peru and has been making the locals sick!-->Link

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Monday

Vintage Chronograph Giveaway! The Watchismo Times One Year Anniversary!

Not only is today is my two year wedding anniversary but also the first year anniversary of The Watchismo Times! Just one year ago today, I decided to share my particular and sometimes peculiar horological tastes of extraordinary antique, vintage and modern timepieces on this blog. All part of a sincere and sometimes obsessive attempt to spread my passion for perfect design, complex watchmaking, and appreciation for the unusual.

To celebrate, I'm giving away this 1970s vintage chronograph pictured above. Complete with original gradating circular cut racing bracelet, stainless steel case, automatic winding mechanical movement, and original box -- all in fantastic condition.

To be in the running, all you have to do is enter your email below. Your entry will also subscribe you to the regular email updates to the blog. That ain't so bad, is it? Anyone already subscribed by email updates will automatically be entered into the giveaway, no need to re-enter. And for all my feed subsribers that want to be entered into the giveaway should also enter their email below.

Deadline for submissions is by Halloween (October 31st, 2007). The winner will chosen (by random) by the lovely Mrs. Watchismo and announced the following week.

Good luck!

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Omega Speedmaster "Missions" Collection

After the phenomenal success of the Omegamania auction this summer, Antiquorum is offering many more vintage and contemporary Omega watches at the upcoming Important Collector's Wristwatches auction on September 26th in New York City.

Highlighted here is the rare collection of commemorative Moon Mission watches, a tribute to the legendary 'Speedmaster Professional', which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 1997. Omega offered an exceptional collection of 23 Speedmaster watches presented in a case covered with genuine spacesuit cloth. The case contains a special series of 22 stainless steel Speedmaster watches, each with a different official NASA mission patch on its dial at 9 o'clock: from the August 1965 Gemini V to the November 1973 Skylab SL-4. The collection also includes a replica of the original 1957 Speedmaster. The Omega Speedmaster valise was produced in a numbered limited series of 50: 40 examples for commercial sale, including this one, plus 5 presentation sets and 5 'artist's proof' examples.

Buzz Aldrin above with his velcro'd Speedy.

Estimated between $80,000 and $100,000
Auction-->LINK

And if you prefer the real deal like me, here are a few of their actual Omega moon watches for auction;

1965 Speedmaster "Pre-Moon Alpha"
est. $2000-3000
Auction-->Link

1969 Speedmaster Professional
est. $5000-7000
Auction-->Link

Some of the additional highlights of the Antiquorum auction-->Link


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Friday

Plenty of cracks and scratches...but only one Dent

For the first of The Watchismo Times’ British epistles (by new TWT contributor Alex Doak), here’s a suitably charming tale of British eccentricity, demonstrating a stalwart sense of heritage combined with that slightly anorakish tenacity of ours…

The surreal photo above (via worldarchitecturenews) actually depicts a 92-year-old gentlman by the name of Roland Hoggard. Bolted to the side of his barn, on a smallholding in Nottinghamshire, is the original clockface from London’s St Pancras railway station.

The neo-gothic clock tower at St Pancras,
driven by a Dent mechanism

The story goes that back in the Seventies, the faux-Gothic Victorian architectural masterpiece was falling into disrepair. British Rail, in all their wisdom, therefore decided to tart the place up, which – in the Seventies at least – meant replacing everything with concrete. So the priceless fixtures and fittings were sold off. An American collector quickly earmarked the historic 10-foot-wide platform clock for an astronomic £250,000.

When the day came to take the clock down, British Rail, in classic British Rail style, managed to drop it. Backed by steel and weighing about 2.5 tons, the clock landed none too gracefully.

Thankfully, Mr Hoggard – then a train guard on the London–Nottingham route, and something of an amateur horologist – was at the London end when it happened, and saved the pile of shattered slate and cast iron from the skip with a mere £25 and a wheelbarrow.

Over the next 18 months, he painstakingly restored the clock between his railway shifts, even creating new numerals using concrete and moulds and making 108 bolts from scratch – a achievement of which his is rightfully proud.

The new Eurostar platforms in progress,
with computer-rendered depiction of Dent’s new clock

St Pancras station is now getting the facelift it deserves, as the new home for the London-to-Brussels Eurostar route, from this November. And beaming down onto the ultra-modernised platforms, shopping complex and Europe’s longest champagne bar, will be an exact replica of the original clock, built by none other than the recently revived London watch brand, Dent & Co. (dentwatches.com).

It’s unsure who originally built the clock hanging on Mr Hoggard’s barn, but Dent was an obvious candidate for the new one, as Edward J Dent himself built the mechanism for the St Pancras’ external four-faced clocktower (which bears more than a striking resemblance to Dent’s other magnum opus, Big Ben, or the Houses of Parliament’s Great Clock to be more precise (Big Ben being the bell inside).

Which isn’t to say Hoggard’s 18-month toil went unnoticed. Frank Spurrell of Dent takes up the story: “Mr Hoggard kindly donated an actual chunk of the original face, which we sent to Loughborough University for petrochemical testing, to ascertain the slate’s provenance. We could then pinpoint the exact source in Wales required for the 12 new hour markers.”

Here’s hoping they doesn’t suffer the same fate going back up as the old stuff did coming down...


*Alex Doak - Freelance watch geek, and recent graduate of London's vaunted QP magazine, where he enjoyed a 4-year schooling under the aegis of horolo-guru James Gurney.

Related stories;
Dent article in QP Magazine-->Link
Big Ben on your Wrist-->Link




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