Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tic-Tock-Walk - Antique Walking Stick Watches

Always the sucker for cloaked clocks & watches, I recently discovered the genre of antique walking stick timepieces and couldn't resist sharing...

Above, a 1900 lion cane with sliding panels for hidden watch, keyless winding by the revolving bezel.

A fascinating 1900 walking stick topper with bezel rotating like the iris of a camera shutter. Twisting of the bezel revealed the concealed watch. The top was also hinged to house a photograph and to access the winding and hand-setting crowns. Sold for nearly $30,000-->Link

1860 Walking Stick with Sundial inside hinged globe. The sphere made from ivory and horn, the equator in tortoise shell.

1890 walking stick with silver cane handle and patented keyless concealed watch by Albert Bertholet and Louis Burry-Haldi, Bienne.

1815 Snake Stick by Ch(ris)t Moricant à Genève. Concealed watch and tobacco compartment.

All via Antiquorum

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Friday, July 27, 2007


A new feature where I'll be curating some rare vintage finds, most I'd like to buy for myself but exercising my restraint muscles keeps me from going broke. So take advantage of my obsessive hunting and semi-controlled collecting habits.

This week's edition features a rare chronograph, several unusual jump hours, an asymmetric tuning fork, a vibrating alarm diver, and a quarter million dollar wandering hour.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Newsflash! Time May Not Exist!

Not to mention the question of which way it goes...

by Tim Folger

"No one keeps track of time better than Ferenc Krausz. In his lab at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany, he has clocked the shortest time intervals ever observed. Krausz uses ultraviolet laser pulses to track the absurdly brief quantum leaps of electrons within atoms. The events he probes last for about 100 attoseconds, or 100 quintillionths of a second. For a little perspective, 100 attoseconds is to one second as a second is to 300 million years.

So, is this guy wasting his Plancks?

But even Krausz works far from the frontier of time. There is a temporal realm called the Planck scale, where even attoseconds drag by like eons. It marks the edge of known physics, a region where distances and intervals are so short that the very concepts of time and space start to break down. Planck time—the smallest unit of time that has any physical meaning—is 10-43 second, less than a trillionth of a trillionth of an attosecond. Beyond that? Tempus incognito. At least for now.

Efforts to understand time below the Planck scale have led to an exceedingly strange juncture in physics. The problem, in brief, is that time may not exist at the most fundamental level of physical reality. If so, then what is time? And why is it so obviously and tyrannically omnipresent in our own experience? “The meaning of time has become terribly problematic in contemporary physics,” says Simon Saunders, a philosopher of physics at the University of Oxford. “The situation is so uncomfortable that by far the best thing to do is declare oneself an agnostic.”

Maybe this means we'll see an F.P. Journe Attoseconde or Jaeger LeCoultre Planckograph someday? That is, if days even exist...

via Horomundi
Full Article at DISCOVERY-->Link

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Antique 1780 See-Thru Pocket Thermometer

Very unusual pocket thermometer, Late 18th century (circa 1780) skelotonized, in a steel case glazed on both sides. Blue steel hand indicating the temperature in Centigrade, Fahrenheit and Reamur scales. Signed:- Salon & Co. Sold for $5655 (£2900, €4350)

via Antique Watch

back view

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Black is Red Hot at the 2007 Tempus Temple of Time

The TEMPUS TIME TEMPLE All‐Black Commemorative Collection

I'm not sure what happened or when but it seems everyone and their mother wants an all black watch these days. Whether it's PVD coated, carbonized, ceramic or whatever, people want to be apart of the horological Blacksploitation of luxury timepieces. So...that brings me to the September 2007 Tempus "Temple of Time" watch festival in Singapore. Put together by The Hour Glass, it's the largest watch event in Asia and likely becoming one of the most influential. KokChoon of Horomundi.com has detailed the information for this All Black series here-->Link

He's also has taken some great photographs of the prototype black PVD RM016 by Richard Mille (shown above) and more here-->Link

The RM016, encased in special micro-sandblasted, titanium, features a skeletonized automatic winding movement with hours, minutes, date and adjustable rotor geometry. The design allows the wearer to optimize and personalize the movement's winding mechanism to suit both sporting and non-sporting environments. Edition of 25

JAEGER-LECOULTRE Gyrotourbillon All Black
Edition of Three

The limited edition Gyrotourbillon, 18k yellow gold covered in black, spherical tourbillon, equation of time, perpetual calendar, date/month/year retrograde indication and eight day power reserve.

AUDEMARS PIGUET Maserati MC12 All Black
Edition of One

On the heels of the Audemars Piguet’s, Maserati MC 12 roadcar inspired timepiece, the limited edition Black Millenary MC12 Tourbillon and chronograph. A reinterpretation of its predecessor’s engineering and aesthetics.

DE BETHUNE Big Power All Bl ack
Edition of Ten

Features the DB22 movement of the De Bethune “Power” series, with a patented new function which allows the speed’s regulation of the winding system through the crown in the middle position. Set it in standard position for a quiet motion or in sport position for an active response.

HUBLOT Bigger Bang All Black
Edition of Five

The Bigger Bang is the world’s first tourbillon column-heel chronograph with direct coupling on a flying tourbillon.

HUBLOT Big Bang All Black
Edition of 50

Carrera Calibre 360
Edition of Ten

The Carrera Calibre 360 PVD, the world’s first ever 1/100th mechanical wrist chronograph with a movement 10 times faster than the fastest movement in any watch.

SINN U1 Diver
Edition of 250

Made of German submarine steel, tested by Germanischer Lloyd, the global authority in pressure testing of submarines.

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DIY Clock Design Competition at FurniCreations

Here's a DIY clock design competition from FurniCreations.com. You must buy an LED clock kit from their website directly ($24) or you can print out their cut-out version for free.

I asked Mike Giles, owner of the Montreal based FurniCreations, for additional information in regards to the decision making process and what the winner can expect to receive; "On January 1st, 2008 (the competition deadline) we will be adding a voting system to the "show us your skills" gallery which will allow the general public to select their favorite design, once it is selected, the design will be added to our Spring lineup, crediting the designer and they will receive 50% of the profit on each piece that is sold of their design."

Here's an example of their clocks and how they're made-->Link

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Friday, July 20, 2007

The Meandering History of Wandering Hours

The Wandering Hour display (also known as a Floating Hour or Chronoscope) has been around four centuries. In 1656 the Campanus brothers had built a night clock for Pope Alexander XII. In a total innovation, they replaced the then conventional hands with hour figures on rotating discs, which performed a semicircular arc across the clock face. The correct figure appeared at the start of each new hour. It then moved clockwise across the arc of the dial and, depending on its progress, simultaneously marked the quarter or half-hour, which had just passed. Alexander's night pendulum clock was illuminated by an oil lamp so that the pope could see the time in the dark. The concept is that the moving hour display keeps an almost metaphorical count of the passing minutes rising and setting along the hourly arc.

"It is a deceptively simple and elegant system, and it is literally as old as the combination of concentric hours and minutes hands to which we are so accustomed. -- The orbit of the elegantly simple planetary ring, and the epicyclic dance of hour numerals which surrounded it, remained hidden beneath a solid dial." (source)

Campani Brothers Tabernacle Night Clock
Late 17th Century --> Link

Below are samples of Wandering Hour watches over the past four centuries. Only during the past few decades have watchmakers realized the full beauty of this display and exposed their dials to reveal the symbolic inner workings as part of the design itself.

Watches with wandering hour dials first appeared in the 17th century. In England, they were often commissioned by the King, to be presented to visitors or in recognition of loyalty to the country. The watch above from 1710 is likely the portrait of Frederick I of Prussia (1657-1713) -->Link

One of the earliest watchmakers to adapt this style to a pocket watch was British watchmaker Joseph Windmills. Joseph Antram, watchmaker to the King of England also produced wandering hours like this one-->Link

A variation was the 'Sun and Moon' dial. A 1750 Dutch pocket watch by G.Knip (above). Within the inner half ring, a revolving disc is painted with the sun and moon rotating every 24 hours, thereby indicating not only the hour but whether it is day or night. A minute hand was used in the normal circular fashion. -->Link Another model-->Link

Sideview of the 'Sun Moon' Wandering Hour

1820 Chronos Breguet Wandering Hour
Etablissement Mixte series

Typically, four digits appear on three disks, each rotating epicyloidally one quarter while out of view and advancing to the next corresponding hour. The minutes were easily approximated by the hour position within the arc.

Breguet Wandering Hour Wristwatch by Gubelin

The Audemars Piguet "Star Wheel" reinvented this system in the early 1990s, creating many variations of wandering hour wristwatches. "Three transparent sapphire disks, or star wheels, are each inscribed with four hour indicators and attached to a rotating center wheel. As the assembly turns, the current hour indicator is rotated into view and then passed across a 120-degree minutes sector. The time is read by noting the visible hour pointing to the current minute." (source) Additional information-->Link

Star Wheel Sapphire Disks

Each disk is obscured until it rises into the arc where the background contrasts the digits into legibility.

Late 1990s "John Schaeffer Star Wheels"
With Minute Repeater

2000 Millenary Star Wheel
125th Anniversary Model

Vincent Calabrese "Horus"

"The wandering dates conceived by Vincent Calabrese (above & below), The jumping hour hand is displayed in a small window that turns around the dial, showing the minutes passing. There is only one hand on the dial, that of the seconds. The same principle as it applies to the date is a world first." (source)

Vincent Calabrese "Ottica"

Alain Silberstein Wandering Hour "Cyclops"

These orbiting satellite displays have had a few revivals over the past 300 years but only in wristwatches in the past few decades. The brand Urwerk (below) is taking this very old concept to interstellar levels. Their revolutionary wandering hour displays have become three dimensional, the numbers are placed on spinning conical discs or rotating cubes with retractable retrograde pointers.

Urwerk's original 101
Inspired by the Campanus Night Clocks
and the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars

Urwerk series 102 "Nightwatch"
also known as "Sputnik"

The Urwerk wandering display was just too cool to keep covered.

Urwerk 103 series
Their first display with exposed hours

"The innovative rotating satellite complication is the heart and soul of the 103 series of watches. The orbital cross carries the four hour-satellites and an internal Geneva cross governs each of these satellites. Each of the satellite features three hour numbers four hours apart. As a satellite approaches the crown, its Geneva cross engages a pin and rotates the disk 120° for the new hour to take its position." (source)

The Urwerk 201 'Hammerhead'

The Urwerk team evolved their Wandering Hour into cubes and retrograde minutes for the Harry Winston "Opus V."

QP Magazine recently featured this public clock in London, The Newgate Clock, possibly the only public wandering hour clock in the world. It was created by horologist Joanna Migdal and inspired by Joseph Windmills original designs. See how it works here-->Link

"The innovation lies not only in the display which evokes the natural course of the sun on the horizon, but also on the original satellite mechanism whose future applications are yet to be discovered." (source)

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Second Memoire 1 Video Tease from Maurice Lacroix

Part of the very well conceived marketing campaign by Maurice Lacroix for their upcoming "Memoire1" chronograph. Billed as the most complicated three hand chronograph ever, the watch is also credited to have chrono functions that can remembered, stored, and redisplayed -- A feat never accomplished before. Basically, you can switch back and forth from the running chronograph functions to the time and back again while the watch 'remembers' it's calculations that weren't displayed. Not sure why this is good, but whatever, I enjoy snowballing the hype! Hopefully the design will live up to it.

More to come...

Here is my previous post about the Memoire1 with mechanical memory-->Link


For further information, check out JAW's post at Horomundi-->Link

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