Thursday, February 26, 2009

Retrowerk Watches Riveted Piston Pumping Portholed Multi-Level Jump Hour Retrograde Watches of Germany - Affordable and High Quality Steampunk Watches

In the past, I've written about high end masterpieces like Vianney Halter's Antiqua (starting at $50,000 and up) and the artistic horology concept watches of Haruo Suekichi, but it was only a matter of time before affordable Jules Vernesque timepieces were made for those who want to actually own a high quality Steampunk wristwatch. Yes, the term has worn out its welcome but the look is timeless nevertheless -- and how can a riveted porthole watch not be cool?

The brand is Retrowerk of Germany and below, I photographed their off-the-wall collection wristwatches with elements of brass and steel pistons, portholes, rivets, compasses, revolving jump hour discs, screwcap crown covers, chains, automatic rotor mechanisms, and of course, many cogs and gears. The prices range from $429 to $1098 USD.

The first is the Compass Jump Hour, an extreme multi-leveled timepiece with a partial dial with three discs for hours, minutes and seconds. Protruding up like a periscope is the compass under thick "coke bottle" type glass, almost as if there is a submarine cruising inside your wrist. The automatic winding version utilizes a Swiss ETA 2824 mechanical movement.

Protrusions are a reoccuring theme with Retrowerk - the Piston (above), with namesake piston mechanism-screwcap crown cover and riveted watch case. As I attempt to showcase in my photos far below, each angle of the watch is mechanically sculptural and borders on satisfyingly absurd. Automatic version also features a Swiss ETA 2824 movement.

Side-view of Retrowerk Compass Watch

Full-frontal view

Jump Hour display and raised compass


Screw-cap detatched exposing crown

Extreme view

The Retrowerk Piston

Piston Crown Cap

Riveted Piston Case

Piston mechanism

Additional views of the Piston

Rivets Rivets Rivets!

A third model features a retrograde display for 24 hour GMT time zone.

Product Page--> LINK

All Watchismo Times Steampunk Posts--> Link
Japanese Watchmaker Haruo Suekichi--> Link
The Horology of Vianney Halter--> Link

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Black Moon Rising - Stepan Sarpaneva's Korona K3 Black Moon

Black Moon Rising
by Alex Doak for The Watchismo Times

Stepan Sarpaneva's coolness factor continues to ascend. Probably the only watchmaker I know to attend Baselworld in jeans and t-shirt, he’s always deflected the stuffy purists with a bulletproof CV: complications watchmaker at Parmigiani, Vianney Halter and Christophe Claret…? Getouttahere!

It’s no wonder he’s made it alone since 2004, with an eponymous brand of watches defined by his homeland’s brutal winters and a lifelong passion for heavy metal and motorbikes. (I told you he was cool!) As with its motorsport champions, Finland turns out a disproportionately high number of talented watchmakers – 38 per year to be precise – thanks to the Kelloseppä Koulu watchmaking school, but they all tend to migrate to repair shops or Swiss brands – even Kari Voutilainen, who defected years ago. Stepan therefore enjoys the rare privilege of being the only mechanical watch brand in Finland. As Stepan puts it himself: “I am on my own. This is the Finnish way; the melancholy; the loneliness…”

It was to Stepan’s workshop in Nokia’s old cable factory in Helsinki – now an über-hip commune of cool arty types – that a select bunch of journalists and friends gravitated in late January. Gesturing across the vast industrial plot, he declares, “One day, all this will be mine!” before we board a rickety elevator and creep down a squeaky-clean corridor. Through an anonymous door, we find Stepan’s prodigal recruits from Kelloseppä, Hanna and Jarmo, beavering away on ranks of Korona watches – an ultra-cool feat of skeletonization first leaked on these pages.

The eagle-eyed were pleased to spot several clues to Stepan’s pedigree dotted around the workshop: besides the obligatory framed portrait of Breguet, a littala vase (Stepan’s uncle Timo Sarpaneva designed the iconic “i” logo in 1956), a poster of his mother modeling latticework jewelery by his designer father Pentti, a hand sculpture by Pentti holding Stepan’s original Harley Davidson kick-start-pinion pocket watch… and, er, a stack of Monster Magnet CDs.

It was then to the ferry terminal, where we were conveyed to Helsinki’s beautiful UNESCO world heritage site, the Sea Fortress. Deep within the metre-thick bunker walls, by the flickering light of rusty candelabra, the purpose of our visit was finally unveiled: the Black Moon. It's a moonphase Korona K3, but, in a world-first, shows the New Moon rather than the Full Moon. It’s named after the opposite astrological event to a Blue Moon: when two New Moons occur within a single lunar cycle. What's more, Stepan has teamed up with a local illustrator and an aspiring poet to spin a Gothic fairytale around the whole thing, based on the legend of Lilith, the temptress demon who preys on unwitting men by night, as an owl. I know what you’re thinking, but, it all holds together well! Unfortunately you’ll have to buy the watch (€12,500) to see for yourself as the book of eight illustrations and the poem will only accompany the 20 editions.

Ultimately, this Black Moon triptych answers a singular brief posed to his artistic collaborators by Stepan from the very start: to evoke the unique melancholy of Finland's relentless winter: “While I make the watches, you make the story!” It’s all terribly brooding and morbid, but it’s done in a terribly hip, black turtleneck type of way. Another slice of predictable cool from the scruffy Finn.

Sarpaneva Watches Website--> LINK

All Alex Doak Posts--> LINK

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Time for a Woody - Wood Watches Over Time (1590-2009)

No, not that Woody.

A visual tour of wristwatches made of wood watches from 1590 to 2009.

One of the first wood watches I ever featured at The Watchismo Times, a 1960s Swank, reminiscent of the George Nelson clocks of the time.

Also previously featured, the incredibly rare Bronnikov all-wood (and bone) watches of the mid-nineteenth century. Even the movements were made of wood! --> LINK

The wood movement

And reaching as far back as I can, here is a portable sundial made of wood from 1590 which also doubled as a gun powder flask and compass --> LINK

Back in the USSR! This wood cased Raketa watch from an amazing collection of Russian watches --> LINK

, mostly known for the super-cool watches of the seventies has a very wide array of other unusual watches like this 60's sterling silver bracelet watch with wood dial and curved inlaid wood strips in the bracelet.

And some of Richard Arbib's very rare wood dialed Hamilton Electric watches from the 1950s and 60s. Above is the Flight II prototype.

The classic design of the Hamilton Ventura also had a prototype with a wood face. Courtesy of Rene Rondeau.

And an collection of wood dial Hamilton Sherwood with automatic movements. These did make it to production in the 60s but are quite scarce.

More styles of Sherwoods

Original Sherwood strap with inlaid wood

A vintage Bulova Accutron with wood bezel
(All Accutron Posts-->LINK)

An unusual vintage Jowissa wood cased watch

The brand new limited edition Quiksilver Ray watch, an eco-friendly concept watch with a case and bracelet made of solid ebony and using a "Green" non-battery automatic mechanical movement.

More about The Ray --> LINK

The Nixon Rotolog, a modern interpretation of the LIP Baschmakoff Jump Hour of the early seventies but now with a interior light and an entire series made with all types of wood including bamboo and teak (shown above)

Nixon Rotolog collection --> LINK

One of my favorite modern watches using wood, the Nixon Murf featuring wood veneers cover the top half of the face and two discs for hours and minutes below. Eacy style has a different color light for the dial by pressing the big horizontal crowns. And one of it's truly unique features is the way the time is changed, you unscrew the top crown, and then press down to electrically forward the discs. It looks like a Bang & Olufsen stere turntable!

Nixon Murf collection --> LINK

A pair of swanky ladies watches from the modern brand Vestal utilizing Rosewood, Ebony, and Maple for cases and bracelets.

Vestal Wood Watch collection --> LINK

Shooting back up to the higher end of wood watches including the Jaquet Droz above. They have produced watches with all sorts of materials including meteorite.

Last but not least, Svend Anderson's Eros "Navigation Pleasure" model (below). The one-of-a-kind Eros has marquetry work with four types of wood and a secret 10 moving part erotic automaton on the back of the watch.

Related posts on The Watchismo Times;
Watches made of Bone
Meteorite Watches

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Joseph "Joey Bananas" Bonanno and Mahatma Gandhi Watch Auctions

The cast for the next Hollywood buddy film? I wish. Actually, these two polar opposites are being tied together with an upcoming auction of their timepieces.

On the left, everyone's favorite non-violent resistor Mohatma Gandhi - To his right, the original gangster and supreme leader of the New York crime family, Joseph "Joey Bananas" Bonanno.

Impress your family and friends with the ultimate Yin and Yang of time. After making a killing with Albert Einstein's wristwatch, Antiquorum will be auctioning this "Godfather Clock" and "Pocket Peace" in early March, 2009.

Giuseppe Bonanno Watch

A yellow gold Patek Philippe, Ref. 1516, that belonged to the late Giuseppe Bonanno, Sr. (the “Godfather” of the Bonanno crime family) is also included in Antiquorum’s upcoming auction. It is a fine, extremely rare and important, 18K yellow gold wristwatch, which is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from his daughter, Catherine Bonanno.

Mr. Bonanno was an original member of the “Commission,” founded in 1931, whose purpose was to establish rule by consensus among the crime families. Other members included the leaders of the Five New York Families: Charlie Luciano , Joseph Profaci , Gaetano Gagliano and Vincent Mangano. It is thought that the character of “Vito Corleone” in Mario Puzo’s novel, “The Godfather” was inspired by Bonanno. The watch was given to him by Charlie “Lucky” Luciano in 1957 in Sicily.

Estimate: $ 5,000-$ 8,000.

Gandhi Pocket Watch

In addition, Mahatma Gandhi’s silver Zenith pocket watch (circa 1910-1915) is expected to attract significant interest. The pocket watch belonged to Gandhi, who later gave it to his grandniece, Abha Gandhi, his assistant of six years, and in whose arms he died. Also offered as part of the same lot are Gandhi’s sandals, glasses, bowl, plate, and letters of authenticity.

A beloved leader of India’s independence movement and one of history’s most widely-recognized and revered civil rights leaders, Gandhi pioneered non-violent civil disobedience and pacifism in response to tyranny.

Estimate: $20,000 - $30,000.


Also included is the "Kennedy Onassis" Watch, a waterproof Nastrix wristwatch owned by both President John Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis. Oh Jackie, that's so not cool...

See related;
Albert Einstein's Wristwatch Auction-->LINK

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