Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Industry News, August 2017

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Cousins UK Material House Makes Progress in Swiss Court

A Swiss court in Berne has ruled that a Negative Declaratory Action (NDA) suit filed against Cousins Material House Ltd by the Swatch Group is inadmissible under Swiss Law and the case has been dismissed. The suit was brought against Cousins UK after the parts supplier had sent a legally required “Letter Before Action” to the Swatch Group warning them of a pending anti-competition lawsuit in the English High Court, unless they restored supply of spare parts within three weeks to independent distributors. The legal grounds for the lawsuit against the Swatch Group were stated as a “breach of a range of laws and trade agreements.” The NDA was an attempt by the Swatch Group to receive an early ruling from a Swiss court that their parts restrictions were not violating any British or European laws, ideally keeping the issue out of the English courts.

The conflict originated back in 2015 when the Swatch Group announced that it would cease the supply of spare parts for all subsidiary brands to independent distributors on January 1, 2016. The impact this would have on the independent repair trade prompted Cousins UK to work with the British Watch and Clock Makers Guild to set up an Industry Action Fund to help pay the legal fees of court proceedings against the Swatch Group.

This ruling does not mean that the Swatch Group must reopen the supply of spare parts to independent distributors, only that Cousins has the legal right to file their lawsuit against the Swatch Group in the High Court. The Swatch Group has until the end of August to decide whether they will file an appeal of the court’s decision. If an appeal is not filed or it is denied, Cousins will inevitably file the originally intended lawsuit. Managing Director Anthony Cousins has assured through public statements that they are “staying in this fight until it is won.”



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, August 2017

Monday, July 31st, 2017

“It is not how many facts you know;
what’s most important is how you put them together.”

Fred T. White, CMW21, AWCI President

That big, silver bird set down in Austin, Texas, at 4:05 p.m. on June 28, and Shirley and I were met by Dennis Warner. After an hour’s drive, we were at his home, where his wife, Ruth, had dinner waiting. After dinner, Dennis and I set off on a three-hour drive to Arlington, Texas, for the NAWCC Convention. The next morning, we registered and got our AWCI display set up. Dennis brought a TV from home, and Jordan had provided us with a thumb drive with the many things that have gone on in our organization. I brought my computer with a large screen and played an endless loop of a watch that I had repaired. We had a good spread of HTs and other literature promoting AWCI. We talked with many people who were interested in what we, as an organization, are doing. Some people were members of both AWCI and NAWCC, and some were just NAWCC members.

Within the craft competition, some beautiful timepieces were on display, along with some novelty items using watch and clock parts. Pat Holloway exhibited some very interesting Christmas ornaments made with watch cases and watch parts. There were clocks and watches produced by some of the finest horologists; their skills are impeccable. Some very beautiful work was on display. One clock that caught my attention was made by John Thomsen. It was patterned after a tower clock, but stood only about five feet tall. It is the only clock I have ever seen with universal joints. The main drive for the hands came off at an angle from the dial, so the use of universals was necessary to drive the hands. The craft and design made this an absolutely gorgeous piece. Oh, by the way, it kept time to within approximately three minutes a month, which, to me, is pretty doggone good.

One of the most enjoyable parts of being there was the opportunity to visit with people who share my interest in repairing timepieces. One of many we met was a retired doctor, Leonard Steiner, who told us a story about a friend from medical school who had a photographic memory; he could remember everything in the books but was not a good doctor. Dr. Steiner made a statement that really rang true for me. “It is not how many facts you know; what’s most important is how you put them together.” If that is true in the medical profession, it certainly is true in our profession. You can read the books and study how a watch or clock works, but until you take a job in your hands and get the feel of it, you will never become a craftsperson. It is like riding a bicycle for the first time—it probably didn’t go so well. As time goes by, though, you master it, and so it is with what we do. I will never forget how intimidating it was to work on my first chronograph. Keep trying—one day you will master it.

Industry News, July 2017

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

The first week of June in Las Vegas has increasingly become a focal point for professionals working in the jewelry industry. The JCK Show is the annual flagship event for Jewelers Circular Keystone, a news outlet and industry trends tracker that dubs itself the “Industry Authority.” The show’s success in drawing over 30,000 industry professionals to Las Vegas has enticed other industry-related shows to run concurrently with the JCK show. Couture, Jewelers International Showcase (JIS), and the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show all happen at the same time or within days of each other. However, the shows differ in who is exhibiting and who is attending.

JCK is open to all with careers in the jewelry industry—exhibitors and show attendees alike. It is designed to foster networking and business transactions between professionals, businesses, and retailers. Couture is open only to representatives of high-end jewelry retailers and the press. Exhibitors must be suppliers of finished goods only. Direct delivery of purchases is against show rules at the JCK and Couture shows. Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show is open to anybody interested in purchasing secondhand jewelry and watches, and many of the exhibitors were representatives from prominent jewelry stores around the country as well as brokers and wholesalers. “Cash and carry” transactions are prominent. JIS is designed to deliver finished new goods directly to retailers with immediate delivery at the show.

Over the past several years, most higher-end watch brands have exited the JCK show system and found their way over to Couture. The atmosphere is more exclusive and many brands require appointments to even view their new products. Jordan Ficklin and I spent time approaching brands to familiarize them with what AWCI has to offer, encourage convention attendance, promote IAB membership, and get their ideas on the needs of the watchmaking industry. Couture didn’t do a very good job in informing attendees which brands were available, and many exhibitors were upset that traffic on the show floor was underwhelming. However, traffic at the JCK show seemed down as well, which may indicate a down year for the jewelry industry overall. Official attendance numbers for the shows are not yet available.

At JCK, Tom Schomaker was available to help fulfill the educational mission of AWCI by offering mini-seminars at the Bergeon Switzerland booth in the Essentials (tools) section of the show. AWCI would like to thank Gérard Meulensteen from Bergeon for the opportunity to be a part of their booth. Due to Bergeon’s generosity, AWCI could help spread the word of continuing education, membership in our organization, subscribing to the magazine, and directing retailers to our “Find A Professional” service. AWCI representation included Executive Director Jordan Ficklin, Instructor Tom Schomaker, Melissa Schomaker, and Board Member Aaron Recksiek. Bergeon was represented by Gérard Meulensteen and Guillaume Böttger, who will take over the North American market from Mr. Meulensteen next year. Witschi was invited to exhibit alongside Bergeon with CEO Daniel Schmitt and CSO Martin Schürch to represent their brand. Also present in the booth were representatives from Jules Borel & Co., Cas-Ker, and Otto Frei to assist in fulfilling orders for Bergeon and Witschi products.


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, July 2017

Friday, June 30th, 2017

We need people who are willing to share what they have learned.

Fred T. White, CMW21, AWCI President

By the time you read this, Independence Day will have come and gone. I hope you paused to give thanks to our forefathers for giving us our freedom and to those brave men and women who have given so much so that we can still walk freely in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

What is independence? It means different things to different people. It could mean having the freedom to practice our religion; or if we do not believe in a higher power, we have that right also. To some, independence is being able to work at a trade unimpeded by an authority telling them what they can and cannot do. We who are independent horologists can apply our craft and serve the public to the best of our ability. We got this way by hard work, training, and using our God-given talents. Some are born with the talent to do what we do. Others who are not so talented have a desire to learn and work hard to become good at what we do.

Several years ago, I was watching a local high school football team work on their drills on a very hot day. The coach called the team together and told them, “Hustle, make up for the lack of talent. Some of you will not make the team. Some who have more talent than others will not make the team. But those of you who are willing to put in the work, the blood, the sweat, and the tears that it takes to be champion will make this team.” They had a winning season.

My point is you may not be the best at what you do now. But if you take classes, practice, and take on a project that taxes your ability, you will grow. We at AWCI are all about education and certification. In Horological Times, we need more well-written articles about how to do a project and tips on better ways to do things. If you have ideas, you should feel free to come forth with your ideas without the fear of ridicule. We need people who are willing to share what they have learned. We all have experiences that should be shared, from the most senior to the beginner.

Ancient watchmaking and clockmaking started in a guild setting, where people learned through apprenticeships. You worked as an apprentice for several years under a master who taught you the trade before you too could become a master. This may or may not have been a good way to learn the trade, depending on the temperament of the master. Today we need to implement the mentoring program. There is a move in our country to implement such programs in the high schools for many of the crafts, such as auto mechanics, carpentry, plumbing, and others. We at AWCI should look into how we can get in on this type of program. The people who go through such a program come out with a trade and are not in debt. I was told when I served my apprenticeship that if you had a trade, there would always be work to do, in the good and the bad times.

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.


Industry News, April 2017

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

Swiss Watch International Goes out of Business
South Florida watch company Swiss Watch International, also known as The SWI Group, laid off its 129 employees and closed for business on January 23. SWI was mostly an online watch retailer that ran the websites,,, and The company also owned the watch brands Swiss Legend and Lucien Piccard. As of March 8, several of the websites were still operational, but orders are not being fulfilled and attempts to contact the company were unsuccessful. Investment firm Clearlake Capital Group sold the company to an un-disclosed buyer in September and SWI was operating under a temp-orary forbearance agreement, a special agreement between the lender and the borrower to delay a foreclosure. The closure of Swiss Watch International is not considered a bankruptcy but a forfeiture of its assets to its investors.

21st Century Neuchâtel Clock

Engineering students at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) or EPFL have developed a traditional Neuchâtel-style clock with a 21st-century oscillator. The prototype “IsoSpring” mechanism, which replaces the traditional escapement and oscillator, rotates in only one direction to release the power from the gear train and mainspring, and eliminates the “stop-and-go” motion and ticking that normally accompany a watch or clock mechanism. The efficiency of this system is also exponentially greater than previously available technology, allowing for minimal or zero lubrication and substantially longer power reserves. The development of the mechanism came from a principle discovered by Isaac Newton in the 17th century: “Imagine an ancient sling in which you use a leather strap to make a stone turn in a circle. If you replace the strap with an elastic band, the stone will now move in an ellipse and its speed will no longer be constant; on the other hand, its period will now be constant so it can be used to measure time precisely.” The EPFL has filed two patents for the invention, and they are hard at work trying to miniaturize the mechanism, as they received many inquiries from the watchmaking industry. The clock is on display in the lobby of Neuchâtel Town Hall.

Revue FH, 19 janvier 2017, No 1, page 61

Breitling DC-3 World Tour

The watch company most noted for their aviation watches is undergoing another promotional tour with the help of an iconic and historical aircraft. Last year, the Breitling Jet Team completed their first tour of North America. This year, Breitling has planned a world tour featuring a twin-engine propeller-driven Douglas DC-3, the airplane was most commonly used at the dawn of commercial airlines and by the military during the second world war. The tour will last from March to September with multiple stages to participate in several events and aeronautical shows. This specific DC-3 has been decorated in the Breitling colors and will carry on board 500 limited edition Navitimer Breitling DC-3 watches that will make the entire worldwide trip. Upon completion of the tour, the watches will be sold with a certificate signed by the flight captain. The Breitling-branded DC-3 took its maiden voyage on March 9, 1940, and if the tour is completed successfully, it will become the oldest airplane to complete a round-the-world tour.

Revue FH, 19 janvier 2017, No 1, page 20-21

Rolex Stays World’s Most Reputable Brand

Rolex was rated as the “World’s Most Reputable Brand” for the second year in a row. The ranking, called Global  RepTrak 100, is published annually by the Reputation Institute in the first quarter of the year. The Reputation Institute conducts the largest corporate reputation study by collecting and analyzing over 170,000 ratings between seven different categories: products and services, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership, and performance. Rolex scored very high in several categories but scored highest for consumer perception of its performance, and products and services. The other companies in the top five were: #2—LEGO, #3—Walt Disney Company, #4—Canon, and #5—Google.

Vacheron Constantin Names New CEO

The Richemont Group announced in January that they would be replacing the CEOs this year in four of their major brands. In February, they appointed Louis Ferla as the new CEO of Vacheron Constantin. Ferla has been with Richemont in various sales and management positions since 2001. He will be replacing Juan-Carlos Torres who has held the position since 2005. Torres will remain with the company as non-executive president and will work side by side with Ferla during the transition period.

Alpina Frederique Constant USA Names President

Jeffrey Cohen has been appointed as the president of Alpina Frederique Constant USA Inc, the organization formed to oversee the Alpina and Frederique Constant brands, since Citizen Watch Co. acquired them last May. Cohen will also remain as the president of Citizen Watch America, which is the US headquarters for the Citizen and Bulova brands. Citizen plans to keep the watch brands as separate companies, but they will merge certain operations in the Unites States. Starting in 2017, “this integration into the Citizen Watch America organization, the Frederique Constant and Alpina Watches brands will greatly benefit from the sales distribution, marketing power, and operational capabilities of the Citizen Group.”

Walter Lange Passes Away

Walter Lange, the great-grandson of A. Lange & Söhne founder, Ferdinand Adolph Lange, passed away on January 17, 2017 at the age of 92. Walter Lange led the revival of A. Lange & Söhne after the collapse of the East German government in 1989. Mr. Lange attended watchmaking school in 1942 before being drafted into the army. The Lange company, founded in 1845, had been expropriated by the Soviet-led government in 1948, and the brand ceased to exist during that time. He returned to the company in 1945 just before he was forced to turn his family’s company over to the authorities. After a successful resurrection of the brand, The Richemont Group acquired A. Lange & Söhne in 2000. Mr. Lange has received many awards during his lifetime for his service to the industry and was currently serving as brand ambassador and Honorary Chairman at the time of his death.


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.