Archive for the ‘News’ Category
Thursday, November 6th, 2014
Niall: A New American Watch Brand
By Donna Hardy
Niall is a startup watch company in Kansas City, Missouri. It uses a Swiss-made automatic movement—either an ETA 2824-2 or a Selitta SW200—but the case and all other components are sourced in America. Niall (pronounced Nile) is the brainchild of Michael Wilson, a former marketer whose father owned a fabrication shop where he learned to cut and shape metal on industrial equipment. Niall’s debut watch, the Niall One, costs $3,950, which is in line with Niall’s American competitors, such as RGM and Xetum.
Niall’s website (niallluxury.com) says their quest is “to build the next great American luxury brand.” Wilson would like to build something of equal status to Hamilton, which he calls “the last great American watch company.” He also hopes to develop his own mechanical movement timepieces someday.
According to Techcrunch.com, “The watches themselves are evocative of Hublot or Audemars-Piguet, but the handsome back-slung lugs and the understated face are unique to the brand.” For now Niall is producing only men’s watches with black or brown leather straps, but they hope to produce women’s watches in the future.For the crown, Niall uses a push-down crown system that they call “Airlock.” The Airlock crown has a set of three gaskets that keeps the watch locked and sealed from elements such as water and dust. Niall worked with Corning to create crystals with shatter- and scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, the product Corning originally created for iPhone touchscreens. Wilson and a partner, Barron Link, assemble the watches themselves in their small business quarters in Kansas City.
Niall is a recent addition to that group of American watch brands on the forefront of a return to watch manufacturing in the US. Other American brands include Minuteman, Kobold, RGM, and Shinola.
“US watches are the wave of the future,” says Gary Borel, vice president of Jules Borel & Co. “Swiss is the best, but there’s no reason we can’t restart this industry in America.…We’ll have American-made movements, no question about it.”
Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
~John F. Kennedy
One day King Solomon summoned his goldsmith because he wanted a special ring made. Upon arrival, the goldsmith asked, “What can I do for you, old wise one?” The mighty king responded, “I want you to make me a grand ring, one like no one has ever seen before. Make it of the finest gold you can find. I want it engraved with the most prophetic statement you can think of.” What a charge to be given to the goldsmith. He thought, “Wow, what can I as a goldsmith do to honor such a mighty person as King Solomon?” He gave it a lot of thought. After hours of thinking, he came up with “THIS TOO SHALL PASS.’’
In the late 1800s and early to mid-1900s, America was the premier watch manufacturer in the world. They made watches by the thousands from 1852 till 1957. American Waltham Watch Co. made 35 million watches from 1867 to 1956. Elgin produced 55 million. Hamilton, from 1893 to 1942, produced almost 4 million. After 1942, they changed their numbering system. They continued to make watches until 1969; their last model was the 992B. They stopped manufacturing at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and so ended the era of watches produced in the US. “THIS TOO SHALL PASS.’’
During the heyday of American watchmaking, the Swiss were getting on the bandwagon with watches whose names sounded American-made, such as Hampton Watch Company [not Hampden], Rockville Watch Co., H.W. Co., or W.W. Co. These fooled many customers into thinking they had bought an American watch. The Swiss started making better-quality pieces, and so they made an inroad into the US market. Bulova, Gruen, Omega, Font, Felsa, A. Schild, ETA, and many other brands and ebauches came into being during those years. Parts were readily available, both genuine and generic, from your local material houses. After World War II many people went to watchmaking school on the GI Bill. This produced a flood of watchmakers in the marketplace, and as a result, watchmakers cut their prices so drastically that it was hard to make a living.
In the 1960s the Accutron and the electric watch came out, and then the quartz watch made its debut. That was the end of watchmaking to many craftspeople, so they left the trade and sought other ways to make a living. Those who stayed with it found that the quartz watch needed repair, and there still was Uncle Joe who liked his watch that ticked, and the family heirloom that needed restoring. And they found that they could charge a fair price for their labor.
With the manufacture of so many cheap quartz watches, many people said it was the end of the mechanical watch. “THIS TOO HAS PASSED.” The mechanical watch has made a strong resurgence in the marketplace. Thus the need for a watchmaker who is qualified to work on these timepieces is stronger than ever. The parts issue will be with us until the demand from the customer is so loud that it starts to hurt the sale of watches. In time “THIS TOO SHALL COME TO PASS.”
Friday, October 17th, 2014
Apple Unveils the Apple Watch
By Donna Hardy
On September 9, Apple announced that it would debut its Apple Watch, starting at $349, early in 2015. “It’s the most personal product we’ve ever made, because it’s the first one designed to be worn,” says Apple’s website. Jony Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of Design, said, “It blurs the boundary between physical object and user interface.” Apple is emphasizing the personal and intimate qualities of its newest product. The message seems to be that this is more than “wearable technology.”
So, what are the facts about the Apple Watch? There are three collections, two sizes, and six straps. At the high end, Apple Watch comes in solid (not plated) 18-karat yellow or rose gold case.
Apple’s press release says: “Apple Watch comes with 11 watch faces ranging from traditional analog faces to new faces like the dynamic Timelapse face; the Astronomy face with its interactive, real-time 3D model of the earth, sun, moon and planets; and the Solar face, a contemporary sundial. Apple Watch can be personalized in appearance and capability with additional information such as upcoming events, moonphases or your activity level, enabling millions of possible configurations.”
The Apple Watch features the Digital Crown, which allows the wearer to scroll, zoom and navigate, without obstructing the display. The Digital Crown also allows the wearer to access Siri. The Retina display on Apple Watch features Force Touch, which senses the difference between a tap and a press, providing access to controls within apps.
The watch can receive notifications from iPhones. The watch works with Apple’s new iPhones, as well as the 5S and 5C. It doesn’t work with non-Apple phones. Like the new iPhones, the watch will be able to be used as a payment device, part of Apple’s new Apple Pay service.
In keeping with popular devices such as the Fitbit, it includes an activity app designed to help motivate the wearer to be more active throughout the day, as well as a workout app designed to provide metrics during the workout session.
While Apple displayed the watch’s induction charging system, it’s not clear how often it will have to be used. There was no mention about battery life.
Friday, October 17th, 2014
I am honored by the trust you have bestowed upon me by electing me your president. As your Board of Directors, we can make AWCI a much stronger, more viable organization that can better serve your needs as a member, whether you are clockmaker or watchmaker, novice or accomplished craftsperson.
We need volunteers. Many of you have already come forward and said put me to work on committees, special projects, or whatever needs to be done. For this I’m thankful; it is not my organization but ours. If you have an idea for a project, please come forward with it.
My pledge to you when I ran for reelection to the board was that we should make AWCI work for all of its members. We should offer classes for everyone at every level, with emphasis on quality workmanship.
Our convention in Clinton, Maryland, was a success, and I’m looking forward to seeing you in Kansas City, Missouri, next year. My thanks to Terry Kurdzionak for her tireless and diligent effort in putting this convention together and also to those who were on her committee. Thanks also to David Kurdzionak and Chris Carey (your new secretary) for their efforts in the hospitality room.
Our two keynote speakers from Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., Ms. Martina T. Driscoll and Ms. Jacqueline L. Devereaux, got us off to a great start. Their warmth and willingness to engage with our members was welcoming. We are grateful to them both for a job well done.
A special thanks to our Educational Symposium presenters: Mr. Andrew Baron; Mr. John Davis; Mr. Michael Gainey, CC21; Mr. Wesley Grau, CW21; and Mr. Aaron Recksiek, CW21. They each presented a challenging program and made us think about how we can use this in our everyday work.
It was gratifying to see that approximately 30% of attendees were attending the convention for the first time. My charge to everyone who attended: If you were happy with the convention, tell as many people as you can that it was a great experience. If you were unhappy, tell us so that we can address the concerns you have.
We were pleased to have Mr. Terry Irby from Tourneau, along with four students: Diomaris Parra, Pablo Gonzalez, Mathiu Perez, and Edwin Larregui. We also had two students from Lititz Watch Technicum, Michael Dudley and Michael Krilich. These young students joined right in and participated in the activities. It was a pleasure having them.
In closing, the Board of Directors needs your help to make AWCI as strong as possible. With your help, we can climb any mountain and overcome any obstacle.
Wednesday, September 24th, 2014
Kering Buys Watchmaker
Kering, the luxury goods conglomerate formerly known as Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR), has acquired 100 percent of Swiss luxury watch brand Ulysse Nardin, an independent brand.
According to Reuters, “Ulysse Nardin was one of the last remaining major independent family-controlled luxury watchmakers in Switzerland after more than a decade of consolidation led by rivals Swatch Group, Richemont, and LVMH, a race Kering entered relatively late.”
“Kering, whose Gucci brand also makes watches, started investing in 2008 in independent watchmakers Girard-Perregaux and Jeanrichard. It bought control of the brands in 2011 and had long since been hunting for new targets.
“Ulysse Nardin gives Kering greater legitimacy and weight in the watchmaking industry, analysts said, as the brand is one of the country’s few integrated producers, in terms of parts and movements.
“It will give Kering precious independence from the industry’s top supplier Swatch, which started whittling down deliveries to its main rivals in recent years.”
A press release from Kering states that Ulysse Nardin will join Kering’s Luxury–Watches and Jewellery division, headed by Albert Bensoussan, and the management team will remain in place. The deal should be finalized during the second half of 2014.
Ulysse Nardin was founded in 1846 with its roots in the nautical world. The company has a strong brand identity based on its historical expertise in marine chronometers and ultra-complication watches. It was a pioneer in the use of cutting-edge technologies and state-of-the-art materials like silicium.
François-Henri Pinault, Chairman and CEO of Kering, says: “Ulysse Nardin benefits from a rich heritage, high profitability, and solid growth prospects. Independent high-end watchmaking manufactures are rare. We have great ambitions for this company and we will help it continue its international expansion whilst staying faithful to its roots and its identity.”
Wednesday, September 24th, 2014
Cecilia A. Dunn
John Gray Sr.
Joseph M. Jabbour
Daniel R. Kessler
Justin D. Kirschkorn
Kathryn S. Marshall
Robert J. Zwack
Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014
Tourneau Honors Graduates of Watchmaker Program
On June 12, 2014, seven students successfully completed Tourneau’s new Watchmaker Program. The eight-week course explores the art of watchmaking, giving at-risk students in New York City the skills and knowledge they need to start a career as a professional watchmaker. The graduation ceremony marked the third session of the Tourneau Watchmaker Program, which was started in 2013. The next class of the Tourneau Watchmaker Program will begin in the fall.
Actor and Avid Watch and Clock Collector, Dead at 98
Eli Wallach, a famous character actor best known for his role as the Mexican bandit, Taco, in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,
a spaghetti Western from 1966 co-starring Clint Eastwood, died on June 24 at age 98.
The interest for readers of Horological Times is that Eli Wallach had a passion for collecting watches and clocks. His interest in collecting began when he was an officer during WWII and the interest continued through the years. As
Mr. Wallach pursued acting roles that took him to many countries, he had the opportunity to seek out-of-the-way flea markets and jewelry and watch stores that sold items from estate sales in America and across the globe. As a result, his collection was eclectic. He didn’t seek out specific brands or types of watches or clocks. According to a 2002 JCK article, Mr. Wallach didn’t collect “…for the investment or financial value of the timepiece—according to Wallach, he doesn’t even know what their appraised value is.” As his friends and work colleagues became aware of his hobby, they helped add to his collection by presenting him with gifts of watches or clocks. He received a blue Cartier cloisonné pyramid clock from Walter Matthau and his wife. Cheryl Crawford presented him with a Longines Automatic. Designer Nathan George Horwitt gave him an engraved Movado Museum watch. Sergio Leone, Italian director of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, presented
Mr. Wallach with a stainless steel Baume & Mercier with an unusual chain bracelet.
Wallach had displayed his collection at three separate venues in New York City over the years. In 1999 to commemorate Wallach’s 50 years in theater, he showed his collection at Tourneau’s Time Machine Store. He also brought his collection to Sotheby’s in the summer of 2001 for an American Watch Guild Event. The final time he showed his collection was at the July 2001 Concours d’Elegance, co-sponsored by the American Watch Guild at the Jewelers of America New York summer show. Part of the draw of seeing Mr. Wallach’s collection was also to hear the stories of how he found each piece, what movie or theater project he was working on at the time, or the circumstances of the gifts received from famous people. For a charity auction, he once donated a watch given to him by director Elia Kazan, raising $14,000.
Eli Wallach’s collection, which numbers over 100 pieces, has been stipulated by his will to go to the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City, where he began his acting career and was listed as vice president on the board of directors at the time of his death.
“Eli Herschel Wallach Biography” IMDb, July 3, 2014.
”Eli Wallach Dead: ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’ Actor Dies at 98″ by Bill Trott. Reuters, June 25, 2014.
“Eli Wallach, Veteran Character Actor, Dies at 98″ by Jake Coyle. The Associated Press, telegram.com, June 25, 2014.
“The Good, the Bad, and the Horological Eli Wallach’s Fascination with Watches” by William George Schuster, Senior Editor. JCK, March 1, 2002.
Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014
By Donna Hardy and Henry Kessler
It is always sad to lose a friend, yet early this summer, we all lost one of the good guys. Paul Borel passed away on May 24. He would have become 62 in July. Having literally grown up in the watch industry, Paul served American watchmakers most of his life.
There are many Borel family members involved in Jules Borel, the business where Paul worked most of his life. Paul’s grandfather, Jules Borel, founded Jules Borel & Company in 1920. Several of Jules Borel’s children joined him in his business. One of his sons was Pete; Paul, Roger, and Becky are Pete’s children. Another of Jules’s sons was John; Gary and Bob Borel are John’s children. Mark was yet another son of Jules, and Kay is Mark’s daughter-in-law. Other family members were involved in the past, and younger generations are getting involved today. Paul was fortunate to be surrounded by so much family. Jules would have been proud of the work of his children, grandchildren, and other family members.
Over Paul’s 40 years at Jules Borel, he served as IT manager, and he was also a watch-parts expert. He served as a director of the Jewelry Industry Distributors Association (JIDA) and the Kansas City Swiss Society. He was also a member of the Oklahoma State University Watchmaking Advisory Committee and the AWCI Industry Advisory Board (IAB).
Bob Frei, Paul’s cousin, referred to Paul as a classic—yet fun and very athletic—computer geek. Paul was so athletic that one day he and Roger began racing as the two were descending the stairs of their multi-story offices in Kansas City. Unfortunately, Paul tripped on the way down, fell, and broke his leg! Paul’s love for computers served him well when managing the company’s computer operations, maintaining the watch-parts database, and watch materials department. While in his 20s and on a trip to Switzerland in 1973, Paul decided that he’d stay in Switzerland and work at Albert Froidevaux & Fils, where Bob Frei’s sister also worked. A*F is recognized as a worldwide distributor of watch parts. Paul studied the French language and took courses at the Bulova Watch Company. Upon his return to the United States in 1975, he joined Jules Borel & Co. full-time.
In the 1980s Paul worked with his brother Roger to capture watch case numbers and their corresponding case part number information. Initially, this was for internal purposes to assist in accurately filling orders from Borel’s inventory of over 100,000 items. Today this watch-parts database is available on the company’s website and is used daily by thousands of watchmakers around the country. This was Paul’s pride and joy.
Furthering his interest in computers, Paul took many courses in various program languages and operating systems. In the late 1970s, he moved to Miami, Florida, where he took courses in jewelry repair at the Stewart School, worked at the Borel Miami office, got married, and became manager of the Miami office upon the retirement of Frank Murray.
His interest in personal computers grew, and while in Miami he developed an order entry/invoice printing set of programs. His pride and enthusiasm was overwhelming when he got one of the early hard drives for a PC—a 20-megabyte Rodyne for $600.
In the late 1980s, Paul and Roger worked together to compile several widely used books of case-part number to case-part references, supplying these to BB/American Perfit Crystal Company and Froidevaux in Switzerland. These were the beginnings of the Borel parts database used today.
A unique aspect of this project was the use of a desktop publishing program Paul wrote that controlled the special escape codes for the early Hewlett-Packard laser printers. This was used for many years to create laser-quality hard copy for the Tick-Tock-Talks, ads, flyers, and drawer-front labels before the availability of PC publishing programs.
As a hobby, Paul loved to make large wall clocks and other items out of multicolored woods. These projects required precise cutting using his laser. He loved cooking, exercising, and conversation. He was friendly and had a positive outlook on life.
The family suggests donations be made to the Salvation Army or Old Mission United Methodist Church, Fairway, Kansas, where Paul was a lifelong member.
Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014
NAWCC Chapter No. 1 Scholarship Grant
The Directors of the Philadelphia Chapter No. 1 of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc., cordially invite all interested and qualified individuals to apply for a Scholarship Grant to attend a recognized School of Horology in the US or an NAWCC Field Suitcase Workshop. Membership in the NAWCC by applicants is preferred but not required. One or more grant awards of up to $500 (five hundred dollars) are planned and may be used to cover all or part of the tuition and registration costs for a single course of study at a recognized School of Horology or a Field Suitcase Workshop. NAWCC Workshops and Suitcase Course listings are available at www.nawcc.org, as are listings of other recognized Schools of Horology in the US. Previous award recipients may be eligible for a second scholarship at the Directors’ discretion.
For a copy of the application form and more information, call Charles Buttz,
Scholarship Committee Chair, at 570-595-3306 or email him at ten.dtpnull@sretlehs.
Chelsea Clock Is Moving
Massachusetts-based Chelsea Clock, the country’s oldest maker of fine clocks, barometers, and tide instruments, will relocate its corporate headquarters, manufacturing operations, and repair facility from its original building at 284 Everett Avenue to 105 Second Street in the city of Chelsea. The company’s new home, just blocks from its current location, is owned by The Simboli Properties, and will undergo renovations to accommodate the needs of Chelsea Clock. Their ZIP Code will remain the same.
dir=”LTR” align=”JUSTIFY”>JK Nicholas, CEO of Chelsea Clock, says, “We are grateful to the city of Chelsea for their continuing support of our business and their cooperation in many of the details associated with moving a manufacturing operation to a new location.” A final move date has not been set, but is expected to be sometime in early 2015.
Chelsea Clock was founded in 1897 in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and continues to produce a broad range of nautical and heirloom-quality clocks, with styles ranging from the company’s renowned Ship’s Bell to classic reproductions and contemporary timepieces.
Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
It has been quite an interesting journey these past two years while at the helm of the ship called “AWCI.” This will be my last president’s message, as I am only allowed to serve a maximum of two years as per our bylaws. While there were requests and attempts by certain members to extend the term of the president to a third year, the Board of Directors will be deciding this issue at the annual convention in Clinton,
Maryland, this August. At the time I am writing this column, this decision has not yet been made, and you will be informed of this matter in a subsequent issue of this magazine.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank our very own Terry Kurdzionak, who in her position as secretary has done an outstanding job of producing the minutes of our meetings as well as for her tireless efforts in organizing our annual convention. Thank you for your insight, your help, and your availability at all times to help with the running of our organization.
Also, a personal thanks to Herman Mayer and his team of instructors from the Lititz Watch Technicum for teaching the outstanding courses over the past year in our headquarters in Harrison, Ohio. On behalf of AWCI, I thank you for your generosity. Your in-kind contribution has helped the institute as well as its members. Most importantly, you have made a lasting impression on all the students who attended classes taught by your professional team.
Last but not least, I would like to thank the active members of the Spare Parts Directory Committee chaired by Drew Zimmerman for planning, contributing, and calling all the watch companies. Also a special thank you to Jordan Ficklin for the countless hours of work poured into this very important project and for taking care of the design and “electronic” side of it. The results of this project will be shared with the membership shortly.
Many of you may not know, but when I first joined this organization in 1997, I was under the impression that by joining the only professional watchmaking organization of its kind in North America, I would automatically be recognized as a professional by watch companies that would subsequently grant me a spare parts account. I quickly found this to be not the case. I was quite disappointed when companies continued to refuse supplying me with spare parts, and I lost many nights of sleep. For better or worse, I was not deterred by this and continued to be more involved with AWI (which became AWCI in 2004), where I chaired the committee with the same name, and the Spare Parts Directory list was first published in 2004. Times were different then and the list was published only once in our magazine. While this helped a small segment of our readership at the time, we have now done it again. However, this time it is available on our website for all of the world to see. First, watch owners will benefit from it most as they will know which brands supply parts and will thus make their watch-purchasing decisions accordingly. Second, watchmakers will use it to see which brands will offer support. This will affect their decision as to which brands to work on and therefore not waste their precious time on uncooperative and restrictive brands’ products. The services and skills of those who work to the highest standards are an irreplaceable asset to watch brands, and, conversely, those who do not yet adhere to this code can be considered to be counterproductive to the brand image as well as to the whole industry. And third, watch brands can visit this directory to view the policies of other, more successful, and, quite often, competing brands. While a brand can choose to restrict parts, ultimately those who make parts available to qualified and professionally minded individuals who are properly trained will continue to prosper in this delicate luxury industry. Brands are encouraged to contact Jordan Ficklin, our executive director, to correct any erroneous information or to report a change in their spare parts policy.
As stated on numerous occasions, the relationship between watch manufacturers, suppliers, retailers/jewelers, and independent watch-repair individuals is a delicate and important one to the point of being symbiotic. While many brands in the watch-manufacturing industry have more or less stumbled through the past decades all the way to the 21st century, it is true the face of the watch-manufacturing and watch-repair profession is always changing. Yet it seems the more it changes, the more it remains the same, for all one has to do is to read some of the older publications from the 1920s through the 1980s—it seems history is always repeating itself. While this last phrase is a cliché, it is also true that those who learn from history will be more successful, mainly by not repeating the mistakes of the past and most importantly by learning from the mistakes of others. Do we really need to reinvent the wheel?
In this vein, in order for our ship to go forward and reach the common destination, it would be best if everyone could work together with mutual respect. Inevitably, there will be some disagreements between the various parties, for such is the nature of life. However, a common ground and a “meet me halfway” situation must be reached. Otherwise, we all will sail in our own directions, where some will succeed and others will fail, and we may be faced with yet another “lost generation” of watchmakers in the near future. Which of you wants to be responsible for single-handedly creating another “lost generation?”
Ultimately, we can achieve much more if we can think “what’s good for the whole profession?” versus “what’s good for me?” My hope rests with the next generation as well as those who can step out of their own skin for a moment and think of how they can make it better for the entire industry.
As a forever message to all, always keep your skills honed, your standards very high, your attitude professional, your tools and equipment in great condition, and your workshops clean and organized, as this is the only way we will excel, not only as watchmakers and clockmakers but also as upstanding human beings.