Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A NEW WATCHISMO STORE LAUNCHED! Hundreds of Vintage Watches and New Brands

Hey Watchismophiles! Just wanted to let you know first about the brand new Watchismo.com store that recently launched, and to give you a brief walk-through the offerings. I have just added hundreds of vintage timepieces and new models from around the world - including LIP (France), Nixon (California), Nooka (New York City), Mr. Jones (London), Alessi (Italy), Issey Miyake (Japan), Pierre Junod (Switzerland) and Botta (Germany) watches.

Forgive my shameless self-promotion but since there are no other sites quite like ours, I'm very excited to share my personal vintage collection specializing in rare Jump Hour styles in addition to some of the coolest and affordable new watch designs of today.

A few sample pages from the vintage watch section of Watchimo
(hundreds more listed)

Below, our pride and joy, LIP watches of France. We offer LIP exclusively at some of the coolest stores in the US - Barneys New York (nationwide), Moss (Soho NY & Los Angeles), Museum of Modern Art New York (MoMa), Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), Taubman Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Takashimaya (NY), Propeller Modern (SF), and Paul Smith

Buy them at any of those locations or direct at Watchismo!

More about LIP history-->LINK

Nixon (below), a brand we admire for their vintage-inspired, forward looking models such as the direct-time technology of the Murf and Rotolog!

Nooka, (below) an independent New York City company with truly original interpretations of timekeeping! No hands, rarely a digit - it's time for a change...

And the thinking man's and woman's timepiece, the conceptualist designs of Mr. Jones! A UK designer, famous for the "Accurate", a happy-go-lucky watch reminding you of death every minute of the day... (below)

Issey Miyake (below), with some of the most modern styles from Japan including the supercool minimal TO mystery dial and the color-combination mathematical perfection of the Trapezoid chronographs!

Another brand new watch at Watchismo are the one-handed German watches of Botta. Forget two hands, that's so second-milenium. Life is more complicated now but time is being reduced with the unique Botta UNO and Solus.

Pierre Junod of Switzerland produces watches designed by some of the worlds best designers and architects (Arne Jacobsen, Richard Meier, Massimo Vignelli, and more)

And finally, a behemoth of modern design, Alessi (below) and their incredibly affordable line of stylish watches. Famed desingers from around the world contribute to the long history of the Italian company.

Summed up, Watchismo is a store built from a very personal passion for great design, affordable individuality, and an obsession for being on time.

LIP Product Page-->LINK

Watchismo and LIP featured in recent press (below);

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Monday, November 3, 2008

SPACEMAN-TIME CONTINUUM - The Spaceman Watches of 1972-77

All obsessions have their own unique Big Bang and appropriately enough, my compulsive watch collecting was born from these Spaceman watches of the seventies.

Below is an article I wrote for QP Magazine reminiscing about going back to the future with these Spacemen.

TIME-SPACEMAN CONTINUUM - Spaceman Watches of 1972-1977
Leaving New York one chilly winter day, late in 1999, I found myself come unstuck in time and arrive in Basel at the dawn of 1972.


My time travel led me to a world filled with hundreds of Spacemen, sitting undisturbed in a Basel watch factory with no plans of visiting the moon anytime soon. This grounded crew was actually a secret stash of vintage Spaceman watches I unearthed at a former distributor of the timepieces designed by Andre LeMarquand, an architect from Neuchâtel . The futuristic watches had fallen out of style during the 80s and 90s but I was ready to fly them out of their dark Swiss graveyard and back onto the wrists of space-age sentimentalists like myself.

In the late sixties Claude Lebet, owner of the Bulle based watch brand Catena asked Le Marquand to create a timepiece inspired by man’s conquest of the moon and the astronauts who made it there. Mr. Le Marquand provided him with his first wristwatch design called, what else, the "Spaceman".

The Spaceman was unlike anything seen before and Catena introduced the fleet at the Basel Fair of 1972. The large oval case appeared to be docked on your wrist held by a triple-forked Corfam strap by DuPont. The case also had a coned dome crystal half concealed by a coloured metal visor that allowed viewing of the dial to only the wearer. All hands and markers were perfectly seventies orange with models in a variety of colours only possible during that special decade.

The watches were powered by automatic and manual winding mechanical ETA movements and were distributed by a variety brands, among them Jules Jurgensen, Fortis, Tressa and Zeno.

Automatic Spaceman Audacieuse

The success led to the development of new Spaceman a few years later, an audacious design by Le Marquand and appropriately named, the "Audacieuse".


The new Audacieuse was angular yet aerodynamic, looking more like an early miniature prototype of a B2 Stealth Bomber than a watch. The extreme design was square with a hooded dial, similar to the original semi-sideview concept. The straps were oversized and wide as the case itself, available in stainless steel or colored leather. A few very rare models with mechanical jump hour digital displays were also out there and a few quartz-digital "Spacesonic" were produced until the Spaceman series came to an end in 1977. Having completed his mission, the Spaceman stepped aside for the next giant leap in timekeeping – light emitting diodes (LED) and liquid crystal displays (LCD).

1977 LCD "Spacesonic"

My close-encounter with the past was fuelled by reading Pieter Doensen's rare book, "Watch - History of the Modern Wrist Watch". This was been my launch pad to the world of vintage-modern watch design and technology and it has been described as the "the first comprehensive study of the collectible modern wrist watch". Flipping through the book, one can feast their eyes on Richard Arbib's Hamilton Electrics of the fifties & sixties, Roger Tallon's LIP Mach 2000's of the seventies and a multitude of other horological advancements over the past fifty years. But it was the futuristic charm of Andre LeMarquand's Spaceman that first abducted my interests.


All White Spaceman Audacieuse
(manual winding)

Very Collectible Audacieuse with Lighting Display

Gloss Burgundy Audacieuse

Leather/Woodgrain Audacieuse

Ultra-Rare Tiger Eye Dial Version

Assorted shots of the Audacieuse

VERY RARE Spaceman Jump Hours (above)

Prototype Dynamic Scattering LCD Spacesonic

Inner dial of the Spaceman Oval


On-the-wrist Shots

Brown Oval (Corfam Straps)

Blue Oval

Red Oval

Original Spaceman Advertising (Click to view)

Spaceman Watches

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Harvest Moonphase - Sarpaneva's Korona K3 Red Moon


The red hued harvest Moon is something typical for Europe during this period of the year, and with the fall just having started in Europe, and Halloween only a few days away, it's a perfect time for Finnish watchmaker Stepan Sarpaneva to introduce his KORONA K3 RED MOON. It differs from all the other Sarpaneva models currently available, in that it sports a black DLC treated case combined with an 18-carat red gold moonphase indication, marking the first entrance of the use of red gold within the Sarpaneva collection in a dramatic combination.


Stepan Sarpaneva: “People ask me where the idea came from for the KORONA dial, and it is a typical story for me. One night really late, walking home with my friends, the Moon was full and bright and shining on the circular, open worked and rusty iron gratings that surround the base of the trees on the street near my home. For some reason those details just popped into my head and stayed there. So, next day I started drawing and playing with the form; made a paper cutout of such an open-worked shape and began piling them one over the other, and those kinds of things. When I repeated this with metal parts, a friend of mine noticed that it also began to have something suggestive of the outward shimmering, the corona, around the Sun’s edge during a solar eclipse. That’s how the dial of the KORONA series was formed – just a passing glance at something that you normally see every single day – but somehow never really notice.” The Moonphase indication of the KORONA K3 grew from that departure point. “The open grates of the dial, despite the metalwork, also were suggestive of a forest, or a cloudy night-time sky, or outer space somehow. I realized that by putting the Moon under this dial it would allow you to actually ‘see’ the moon approaching its phases – this is something quite simple really, but which I personally have never seen in a wristwatch before. So said, so done, and the only question was how the Moon should look.”

Some writers have commented on the Moon’s somber face in the KORONA K3, but Stepan has other ideas about that.

Stepan: “You know, here in Finland, we are not a very extrovert kind of people. Maybe it has to do with our past history and having been taken over by the Swedes and then the Russians, but everyone here floats around with an aura of slight melancholy – I don’t know how else to describe it. So a smiling moon was out of the question, also because a Moonphase smiling at me all the time is too much like those yellow smiley faces they put in emails. So I decided to give the Moon an aura of aristocratic melancholy, with a bit of indecision as to whether he is basically happy or sad in nature. The expression of the Moon on the KORONA K3 just ‘is’ – same as the Finnish people here, and I think it fits the fall period perhaps the most of all.”


Creating the two deep hued, 18-carat red gold Moonphase discs for the KORONA K3 RED MOON itself is also a complicated task. The first dilemma concerns the dimensions, as the face is only 0.4mm thick yet has four levels of elevation. The first step requires creating a drawing six times the actual size, followed by cutting a rough model from plate stock, one piece corresponding to each level of elevation of the oversized model. These parts are then fixed together to form the model plate for the pantograph, which will mill the shapes into a small piece of copper the actual size of the Moonphase indicator. This copper version, which will serve later as an electrode, is then cleaned up and fine-tuned by a master engraver before the contours are electro etched 0.4mm deep into a steel pressing block, thus creating a negative image of the face. Last, the eyes are modeled by hand into the negative image and the whole is finished by a master engraver and diamond polished before undergoing hardening. This is followed by yet another polishing. Only now can the production of the Moonphase begin. The whole process from drawing to finished Moon takes a specialist company, also located in Finland, about two weeks to complete.


Sarpaneva Watches is Finland’s only mechanical watchmaking company, solely dedicated to the design and production of mechanical wristwatches. Located in the country’s capital Helsinki, the workshop was started in 2003 by Stepan Sarpaneva after years of training in both Finland and Switzerland that covered watchmaking in all its varieties, including hands on experience at several of Switzerland’s major houses with highly specialized work on complications. The Sarpaneva workshop’s philosophy towards watchmaking is firmly anchored within Stepan Sarpaneva’s deep desire to express himself in more ways then solely through the purely mechanical side of watchmaking. For this reason his firm’s foundation is to unite a long-term and timeless visual design concept together with that of high quality mechanical watchmaking. Unlike the majority of brands on the market today, this is a fundamental aspect that sets Sarpaneva Watches apart from the rest; here is one man with the ability to create novel wristwatch designs as well as unite them with the mechanical know-how of a master watchmaker.

Sarpaneva website-->Link

See Also;
All Sarpaneva Posts at The Watchismo Times

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Clone of Vianney Halter's One-of-a-Kind Satellarium

A unique Vianney Halter piece will be on show during Salon Belles Montres in Paris (27th to 30th of November).

In 2001 Halter realized a series of 108 Jumping Hour and Moonphase Watches
for Egana Goldpfeil.

The “Faces of Time” project also included a one-of-a-kind watch. For that one, Halter imagined and realized a very special timepiece that was called “Satellarium” due to his very special shape. For this, Vianney worked with the french designer Pascal Pagès who also contributed to the JHMP and to the Opus 3.

This piece is like 3 round cases linked together and inserted into a structure. In the larger case is the Hour and Minute display while in the lower “satellite” case is the moonphase and in the upper “satellite” case is a very unexpected thermometer. The whole is in platinum and powered with an automatic movement.

This unique piece was delivered to Goldpfeil in 2001 and sold. As far as we know, it now belongs to a Russian collector. It was rumored to be for sale four years ago for $450,000 USD.

But the truth is this piece is not that unique as Vianney also made a back-up piece so as to secure the delivery to Goldpfeil. This piece is slightly different than the one delivered to Goldpfeil as only “Vianney Halter” brand name appeared on it while the other one was branded “Gold / Pfeil” on the main dial.

Via Horomundi

The original Goldpfeil Satellarium

Vianney's Jump Hour "JHMP" for Goldpfeil

Vianney Halter's landmark Antiqua

Vianney Halter Website-->Link

See Also;
All Related Vianney Halter Posts on The Watchismo Times-->Link

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