Thursday, December 28, 2006

Chronotastic - Two Unusual Vintage Chronographs

No real need for a wordy blog, just two really special 1970's chronographs by Mondia (above) and 'Chronographe' (below). Both with Valjoux caliber 7734 movements but even more interesting are the designs -- The Mondia with gradation turquoise blue center, graphic asymmetric registers and brushed steel case, the Chronographe with highly unusual tilted diamond shaped dial and cushion case. Both proud recipients of the Watchismo Seal of Approval.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Watches With Balls - Mido & Gruen Mystery Dials

These two watches have some serious balls.

Vintage mystery dial watches often have inventive displays of timekeeping as do the 1940's Mido (above) and 1965 Gruen (below) which both feature floating balls for hands. Attached to disks, the balls spin in a typical rotation but the solid 14k solid gold Gruen has a very unusual minute hook-hand that clears the little pearl hour orb with each passing.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Jacob Jensen Beowatch for Bang & Olufsen

Top designer of Danish Hi-Fi at Bang & Olufsen since the late sixties, Jacob Jensen created the Beowatch (wristwatch & remote controller) for the Beocenter stereo system. Incredibly scarce today as it appears to have been produced for a very short time.
His sleek geometro-futuristic designs for B&O and his own company Jacob Jensen Design are part of the MOMA permanent collection in addition to his own solo exhibition.

The Beowatch has angular curvexing that reminds me of the Sinclair Radio Watch.

1974 Beogram 4000 turntable
Excerpt from 1999 MOMA article;

"The appearance of most audio equipment is seldom given thoughtful attention, and its impact on the domestic interior is frequently ignored. For this turntable, Jensen applied strict aesthetic criteria, emphasizing a horizontal profile and the clarity of basic geometric forms. Jensen, who has designed products for Bang & Olufsen since the late 1960s, dislikes conventional dials and knobs, and frequently reinvents the way in which controls appear and are used. His turntables are distinguished by an innovative use of a tone arm that moves tangentially, rather than diagonally, over the plane of the record."

Jacob Jensen's 1984 Concept Automobile, the "Logicar"

Lost, Hot & On Time - Vintage Compass Thermometer Watches

1960's Thermometer watch by LIP

1970's Middle East Worldtime Compass Watch

1950's-60's Continental Thermometer & Compass Watch

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Aurora Clock - Horological Borealis

In honor of the recent solar storm headed to earth, I'd like to remind y'all about the super mod Aurora Clock. You might remember these Northern Light style clocks from the seventies with it's polarized color-shifting light show and rotating planetary seconds sphere inside a tubular polished aluminum case.

Well, either way, Chrono Art is repairing old models and selling new & improved ones with brighter Super Flux variable spectrum LED lighting.

Sideview of Aurora

Friday, December 15, 2006

Relic of the Future - Vianney Halter's Steampunk Antiqua Watch

'20,000 Leagues Under Switzerland' starring Vianney Halter's Antiqua. A Nautilus-ish time machine complete with riveted portholes, perpetual calendar, 100-year accuracy and 900 hours of watchmaker sweat into each watch.

Like the receding ocean before a tsunami, this was the predecessor to a wave of innovative Swiss watchmakers to follow. Or if H.G. Wells scripted it -- Swiss Steampunk watchmakers of the future's past.

Links to past Halter-related posts-->Here

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Gerald Genta's Arena Chrono Quattro Retro Watch

Gerald Genta creates amazing 'Wristboards' (dashboards for the wrist). This multiplex of a watch is the Arena Chrono Quattro Retro, featuring four retrograde dials and a jump hour display. Priced around $25,000 (Genta price ranges from 5k - 250k), you might like to add the vintage Chevy featured below with similarly situated dash.

Sport Bi Retro

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Arthropodal Watchworks - by Insect Lab Studio

Mike Libby found a dead beetle. Upon closer examination, he recognized a connection between the invertebrate creatures and mechanical watches. He now imports exotic specimens for dissection and artistic restructuring using antique balance wheels, mainsprings and other types of cogs for his Insect Lab.

Telechron Robot Clock - Bennett Robot Works

Inspired by modern-age designers like Norman Bel Geddes and Raymond Loewy, Gordon Bennett of Brooklyn creates one-of-a-kind Robots out of antiquated products of the 40's and 50's. Obviously, for thematic purposes, I've highlighted the clock-themed 'Telechron' Robot (right) and DeJur (left) with clock-dial feet but felt this was the first off-topic story worthy at The Watchismo Times. Many are indeed built with old clock parts but that's only the beginning, Gordon assembles them with an uncanny ability to nurture distinct personalities by reincarnating vintage products including 8mm cameras, taillights, voltage meters, tv antennae fire alarms, spark plugs, plumbing hardware, heaters and sewing machines into these immobile robotic sculptures. They are built between 15" and 35" high and can be purchased at

DeJur Clock Feet

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pierre Balmain's Anomalies of 1971-73

Pierre Balmain, a traditionally conservative French fashion designer, created an unconventional line of watches during 1971-73 -- most similar to the newfangled Pierre Cardin models of the same years. Minimalist domes, asymmetric wedges, chunky cubes, and panelled plates make up this unorthodox vintage series.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Since Memphis - Ettore Sottsass for Seiko Watches

Ettore Sottsass, Italian mid-century modern designer for Olivieti (typewriters), Alessi, Artemide, Knoll, and founder of the eighties Memphis Group. He was also an occasional watch designer for Tissot, Seiko, and the current Alessi line. Shown here is a series of watches for the 'Seiko Sottsass Collection' featuring these rare colorful chronographs.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Reading Time - Three Great Watch Books

The book that started it all for me. Pieter Doensen's highly influential 'Watch - History of the Modern Wristwatch,' showcasing innovative designs in relation to the technological advancements of the fifties through the eighties. Out of print but can be ordered through Mr. Doensen himself here.

Rene Rondeau's latest fourth edition 'The Watch of the Future', a quintessential book about the Hamilton Electric with a complete archive of every model Hamilton produced including prototypes never seen, asymmetric mechanical watches and full color throughout. Three times larger than the original edition, an important book for design enthusiasts or for existing collectors updating their library. Can be ordered through Rene directly-->Link

Gene Stone's recently published 'The Watch' blends important vintage with complex modern timepieces. A survey of "inspired design, technical innovation and precise craftsmanship" result in a book of well photographed unique antique and contemporary wristwatches. Link

Friday, December 8, 2006

1960's Seth Thomas 'Sethosphere' Mystery Clock

Good thing my wife loves timepieces as much as I do. She agreed this space-age-deco globule of a clock would be an anniversary gift to ourselves. When I first showed her the Seth Thomas 'Sethosphere' mystery clock - movement hidden in brass base & mechanics leading through tube to center sphere - she belted out "We must have this!" Don't twist my arm lady. Fine. It's here, it's queer, get used to it.

Sethosphere Front View 

French Digital Jump Hour Watch Circa 1830

You think your digital watch is old? Try this antique sucker pushing 175 years. 140 years earlier than what we commonly think of as the earliest digital watches. Circa 1830's French 18k champleve enamel jump hour digital pocket watch by Blondeau, watchmaker to the King.

Napoleon could have owned this. Perhaps this is what he was holding in his vest pocket all that time? ...because he loved it so dearly? I can relate. Some watches make me wanna just touch them all the time too. (Napoleon died in 1821 but pretend with me, ok?)

Close-up of the dial - engraved with bugs & birds!

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Whatthefuckwatch by Tokyoflash Japan

Tokyoflash has always brought us great gadget watches flexing new timetelling muscles but this time, you'll rip flesh trying to determine how late you are. The all stainless steel 'Biohazard' Alien Detection Watch has an advanced multi-color LCD display and is summed up like this;
  • Top row - 12 Helix bars, each lit for the hours of the day
  • Bottom row - Blue blocks represent 5 minute increments, green are 1 minute each.
  • The animated 'Alien DNA' calculation in the middle determines the date by the percentage shown - 12.04% = December 4th

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Internal Art - Richard Mille Tubular Tourbillon '012'

Well, it's 'Tube Week' at The Watchismo Times. Featuring everything cylindrical, rolling, and tubular including this Rube Goldberg-esque mechanical masterpiece by Richard Mille. The '012' Tourbillon wristwatch is one of only 30 Platinum models made and features an architecturally engineered movement worthy of exhibition.

"Aluminium Alloy winding barrel, going train and tourbillon cage
The aluminum alloy Anticorodal 100 (AlMgSi1) is normally used in industrial engineering applications such as skyscrapers, ships and sports cars and is composed of aluminum, magnesium and silicium. This particular alloy was selected for its combined qualities of low mass inertia, endurance and dynamic strength, the special ability to absorb vibrations and a high resistance to corrosion and wear."

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Rolling Out The Jacob & Co. 'Quenttin' Watch

Jacob & Co.'s unexpected offering named the Quenttin - from their über 'Bling' watch line. A 56mm vertical barreled wristwatch - competing aesthetically with the Cabestan, both with such limited production, there should be room for more roller wheel display watches and hopefully one that doesn't cost hundreds of thousands of dollars like these. The Jaz Derby first created this style with their Swissonic in 1974.Built from either Magnesium, Rose Gold, White Gold or Platinum, fit with vertical mechanical movement wound by key, anchor mounted in Tourbillon cage & 31-day power reserve.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Jaz Derby Swissonic - 1974 Digital Roller Time Display

The Jaz Derby Swissonic, Introduced in 1974 at the Basel Fair (Annual Swiss Watch Trade Show), featured a fascinating new way to display time. Cylindrical barreled rolling wheels powered by a new transistorized system with balance by Dynotron, ESA 9176. Rotating numbers on these drum rollers created a very tall timepiece sitting over 15mm off the wrist. A wheel next to the digital readout had graduating sized lines (thin t0 thick) deliniating each minute passing before 'clicking' to the next.

Many high-end watch companies today are creating roller style watches like Vianney Halter's Cabestan, Jean Dunand's Shabaka, and Jacob & Co.'s Quenttin. But the obscure French Jaz Derby started the ball, uh...wheels rolling.

Very rare watches today and even more difficult to find them functioning with precision. Piotr, a dedicated watch enthusiast in Poland has become the foremost expert of the Jaz Derby (among other watches of the era) and detailed his page of servicing the watch-->Link

Jaz Derby Movement

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Rolling Cylinders of Jean Dunand's 2007 'Shabaka'

Ever since I found the very rare 1970's Jaz Derby Swissonic, a watch built of cylinders instead of dials, I've wondered when I'd see another roller style feature in a watch...

Four years in the making, new Swiss Watch company Jean Dunand has announced the 'Shabaka' release for 2007. A minute repeater (chiming gongs), moonphase, leap year cycle, and best of all,
instantaneous perpetual calendar with rollers for month, day of week and double-barreled day of month. Named after a Egyptian Pharaoh and modeled in an Art Deco Egyptian revival style, only twenty models a year are planned for production.

Named for Swiss Art Deco artist, Jean Dunand - by entrepreneur Thierry Oulevay (Tourbillon Orbital) and haute watchmaker Christophe Claret (Harry Winston Opus IV).

Friday, December 1, 2006

Nixie Tube Clock by Klok Modern

Vintage Nixie Tubes from the USSR are reclaimed after 30-60 years in Russian warehouses by Industrial Designer, Mike Mayberry and his company, Klok Modern. Exquisitely displayed in his custom fabricated, limited edition, aircraft aluminum housing and sold as a kit for home assembly. The beauty of the ten layered electrodes glowing orange with overlapping dimension can only be appreciated when it's right in front of you.

Klok K7 Model

1950's Nixie Advertisement