Archive for May, 2017

A Message from Our AWCI President – Fred T. White, CMW21, June 2017

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

We are problem solvers.

Fred T. White, CMW21, AWCI President

Today I heard a song that I haven’t heard for some time, “One Day at a Time.” When we think about it, that is all we can do—live one day at a time. We sit at our benches and solve one problem at a time. We are problem solvers. Recently, a client brought me a 16-size pocket watch that had been made into a desk clock. The casing for it had been made from a large gun shell, circa WW1. The clock was not properly attached in the case; the dial feet were broken off and attached with glue; the case did not close properly; and the movement needed servicing. What to do with this basket case? First, get the story behind the watch; really listen to what the client tells you. This client said she wondered about the man who made the case. Was he in his barracks and did he use this to fill his time while waiting to go into the trenches? How many fox holes did he carry it into? Then, determine a price with a guestimate of time spent to do the job and add a few hours more because invariably your first price will be too low. Second, the customer agrees to the price. Now you have the job, so you need to get the dial feet put back on by laser welding; drill and tap the case for screws to hold it together; service the movement and put it in the case with case screw and case strap. This is where your problem-solving skills come into play: there is no going to the parts drawer and pulling out a part. You have to rely on your skill, knowledge of your craft, and your ability to think on your feet to solve these types of problems. For me, this is what makes watchmaking and clockmaking interesting—it’s not the same old thing day after day. You are rewarded with the smiles on your customers’ faces when they pick up their timepieces. By the way, this client also left a major-brand watch for repair, which is extra business.



Industry News, June 2017

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

By Aaron Recksiek

Baselworld 2017

Baselworld is always guaranteed to be a spectacle of what the watch industry most wants to showcase for the year. It can be incredibly difficult to sift through all the announcements, news, and events to determine what is relevant to our segment of the industry, specifically, the after-sales service industry. After reviewing much of the information available, here is my take on the most relevant bits from the annual event, now in its 100th year.

The Swiss watch industry is in decline, with the luxury segment of the industry taking the biggest hit. There have been two straight years of negative growth, and forecasters are predicting the decline to last another year or longer. Quite a few Swiss watch brands are now embracing smartwatches, a technology that was once feared or discounted by many of them, with nearly every major brand offering smart technology somewhere in their product line. The most notable Swiss brands to debut smartwatches were Movado, Montblanc, and Tag Heuer with their second smartwatch, the Connected Modular 45.

There was a noticeable push by brands to create more value for their timepieces. For example, employing stainless steel where precious metals would normally be used, or for some brands, just lowering the retail price of existing models. Some brands were even suspected of developing certain models to cater specifically to millennials, as they will be a key demographic in the years to come. Of course, it wasn’t all budget cuts. There were still a few “mechanical marvel” masterpieces announced that are only attainable by the super rich, like the Loving Butterfly Automaton by Jaquet Droz and the Opera by Jacob & Co with a 120-note customizable, mechanical music movement.

Collectors are having a much greater effect on models that brands choose to produce. For example, Longines released a new watch called the Heritage 1945, modeled after a personal watch owned by  Hodinkee founder Benjamin Clymer. Longines re-engineered the 70+-year-old watch to look precisely as Clymer’s looked, even down to the color of the aftermarket strap he had attached.

Vintage-inspired watches were a common theme at the show, another sign of collector influence. Watch journalist Carol Besler dubbed them “nouvelle vintage.” The term refers to the trend among luxury watchmakers to combine iconic vintage design with state-of-the-art materials and movements.

Omega released three new models, the 1957 Trilogy 60th Anniversary Limited Editions, all inspired by their predecessor models. Omega had a busy 1957 by releasing three new watch models in the same year. The vintage-inspired Trilogy reproductions: Seamaster 300, Railmaster, and Speedmaster are all available separately but come with some bonus accessories if you buy the complete set.

Seiko launched a re-creation of their first dive watch, the reference 6217, an almost-exact duplicate of the original model. This new version comes with a high-grade automatic 8L35 movement supplied by sister company Grand Seiko, and a super-hard coating on the stainless-steel case to better protect from scratches.

Rolex is continuing to integrate their newest men’s caliber 3235 into several new models: a new Sea-Dweller reference 126600, widely expanding the movement’s production. They also debuted a Cellini Moonphase model. It’s the first time the brand has used the complication since the 1950s. Rolex subsidiary, Tudor, announced a new in-house chronograph movement, the MT5813, developed in collaboration with Breitling. Tudor will also be manufacturing and supplying an in-house movement to Breitling to be used in their Heritage Superocean models with an automatic caliber MT5613.

Bulgari set a new world record for producing the world’s thinnest automatic winding watch. The Octo Finissimo Automatique houses a 2.23mm thick caliber BVL 138 in a distinctly Italian-designed, sandblasted titanium case.

Favre-Leuba, a small brand known for tool watches, introduced the Bivouac 9000, the first mechanical wristwatch capable of measuring altitude accurately up to 9,000 meters. The highest point on earth is Mount Everest at 8,848 meters.

Zenith updated their iconic El Primero chronograph movement for the 21st century with the introduction of the El Primero 21. This new movement is capable of measuring fractions of seconds as the central chronograph hand completes one revolution per second. It does this with the use of two separate escapements and oscillators equipped with patented Carbon-Matrix Carbon Nanotube balance springs. One escapement runs at 36,000 vibrations per hour (vph) and the other at 360,000 vph. The dial also shows a chronograph power reserve indicator, as the extremely high-beat chronograph can only run for up to 50 minutes on a full wind.

And, finally, shortly after the show ended organizers announced that next year’s fair will shrink from eight days down to six. It’s suspected that this comes from a 13% decline in exhibitors and a 4% drop in buyers. There was news that show organizers turned away some exhibitors due to not meeting the show’s desired “quality standards.” The 2018 edition of Baselworld will be held March 22–27.


Aaron Recksiek is an independent watchmaker in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is a graduate of the 2008 WOSTEP class at the Lititz Watch Technicum.

In Memoriam, May 2017

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Industry News, May 2017

Monday, May 1st, 2017

 eBay Debuts New eBay Authenticate Program

eBay has announced a new program to help curb the sale of counterfeit items on its sales platform. The eBay Authenticate program will allow sellers and buyers to request the services of a professional authenticator to inspect the item to verify its authenticity. The seller can list the item with the option included in the purchase price to help promote confidence in the product and drive more sales. Buyers can request the service at the time of purchase and pay the fees themselves. If the service is used, the seller will ship the item to the designated authenticator who will inspect the item and either ship the item onto the buyer, or, if the item proves to be counterfeit, will send it back to the seller. There has been no formal implementation date set, but it will be rolled out this year for “high-end fashion items” and will progressively include more items over the coming year. There has been no pricing structure announced for the service yet, but the company has disclosed that it will be inexpensive enough for sellers to use regularly. Watches make up a significant percentage of costly items that will benefit from a third-party review process. However, this inevitably ventures into gray territory and brings up questions regarding authenticity of individual parts or the items as a whole, especially when some counterfeit components can be buried deep inside the mechanism. eBay has not disclosed the criteria for becoming part of their network of professional authenticators, and the “Using authentication and grading services” help section of their website doesn’t currently have any recommended companies listed to help with watch authentication.

New President of Vacheron Constantin Americas

The Richemont Group has appointed Leslie Kobrin as the new president of Vacheron Constantin Americas, the division overseeing the North American, Latin American, and Caribbean regions. The brand changed its North American regional structure slightly to include Latin America and the Caribbean areas. She replaces Vincent Brun, who was the president of the brand’s North American region. Kobrin comes to Vacheron Constantin from the Richemont brand Van Cleef & Arpels North America, where she worked as vice president of business development.


Aaron Recksiek is an independent watchmaker in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is a graduate of the 2008 WOSTEP class at the Lititz Watch Technicum.

A Message from Our AWCI President – Fred T. White, CMW21 – May 2017

Monday, May 1st, 2017

We need to work together, because that is the only way we can solve our problems.

Fred T. White, CMW21, AWCI President

You are in control of where you are going. You are in the driver’s seat of your life, so take that wheel and get going down the road to your destiny. Will it be a super highway or will it be a dirt road? As we go down that road, sometimes it will be smooth sailing, and sometimes the road will be rocky and rough. These rough times test you to see what you are made of. It’s not how many times you get knocked down but how many times you get up. We watchmakers and clockmakers sometimes whine too much: I can’t get parts; I can’t get enough work; I have too much work. Are we ever satisfied? This is human nature. I grew up on a farm in rural West Virginia, and I can remember the farmers saying that it’s too wet to plow or too wet to put up hay or it’s so dry that if we don’t soon get rain the crops are going to die.

So it is with horologists. We trod along, but the sun always shines after the rain. One thing I learned growing up on the farm was that when we worked together we got a whole lot done. Four families worked together: Dewey Short, Bob Short, Otis Moody, and our family. It was hard work physically, but it was also a lot of fun. By helping each other, the load was a lot lighter. In time of crisis, the whole community pulled together to solve the problem, whatever the issue was. We watchmakers and clockmakers need to work together, because that is the only way we can solve our problems. We cannot depend on the brands to work with us. It would be nice if they would, but in the two plus years that I have been president, I haven’t seen much of a change. How do we solve the problem? Many of you have already started to do it by working together in what is known as networking.

If you like the way something is going, let your Board of Directors know about it. If you don’t like what you see, let them know that also. You voted for these people to be on the board, so talk to them. They are supposed to represent you. Do you read the minutes of our meetings? Let us know what you like or dislike. Talk to us by phone or email; our emails are listed in the back of this magazine.

We will be electing two new board members soon. Election begins May 15 and all ballots must be received by June 30. You will receive election materials that include the candidates’ resumes and their answers to a question posed by the current board. If you have questions about their answers, there is nothing wrong with picking up the phone and having a conversation with them on issues that are important to you before you vote. You may want to consider what other organizations they have worked in, and what roles they played. Are they willing to put forth the work that is required of this voluntary job? Look at their track records. What have they accomplished for the betterment of the organizations they have belonged to? What have they done for AWCI in the past? Have they volunteered for committees; have they worked in their local affiliate chapter? Do they consider themselves a team player, or are they just running for the board to put it on their resume? May the best person win.