Landscape at Dawn and Dusk

Landscape at Dawn and Dusk
Flanerie Barcelona: Pathways at Dawn and Dusk © Maryhelen Jones-Raciti

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Walk Number 24: Hong Kong's Swiss Watch Market Eclipsed by US (September 11, 2016)

Take a walk along Hong Kong's Causeway Bay which used to be one of the most expensive shopping districts in terms of rents -- it's slowly losing its clientele. In the past, Hong Kong has been called by the international Financial/Lux Press Corps, China's "Great Mall." Well, that's changed as of last week when it comes to its retailing share of the the Swiss watch market.

Today, the Financial Times' South China correspondent Ben Bland reported that "the Chinese Territory was overtaken by the US as the world's biggest market for Swiss watches after eight years in the top spot." The displacement news for Hong Kong came just before the beginning of the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair which ran for a week and ended yesterday.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

August 2016 Bench #5 -- When a Website is a Plethora of Good Reads

I'm back temporarily sitting on another bench after a summer respite --ready to resume my blog walks for the Fall. However, before my strolls return on September 1, I have an extraordinary website, Designers & Books created by Steve Kroeter, the website's editor and chief to share with you. As Steve explains in his introduction to his website, it is an advocate for books as an important source of inspiration for creativity, innovation, and invention. The main way we do this is by publishing lists of books that esteemed members of the international design community identify as important, meaningful, and formative—books that have shaped their values, their worldview, and their ideas about design."

The website indeed lives up to this goal! It has 2,000 books from 178 designers on the site---and well over 200 contributors including writers, editors, curators, and critics who have sent in lists.  One of the ones I discovered is Chris Bangle, a car designer living in Italy who is the principle of Chris Bangle and Associates. I think his book recommendations are important for anyone who loves watches from a mechanical as well as artistic viewpoint. He also has initiated The Big Bench Community Project, another reason to appreciate his book choices and design philosophy.

And if your autumn strolls take you to New York in November, do visit the Designers & Books Fair 2016™ on Saturday, November 12, 2016.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May 2016 Bench #5 -- Zachary Petit

As you may have noticed, during May I've been a bench sitter (i.e. no walks posted). However, reading is not slouching.

So here we are at the end of the month and I've got an important read to share with you, especially if you are a blogger. It's Zachary Petit's book, The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing: How to Write, Work, & Thrive On Your Own Terms (Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, 2015).

Taking it personally, "on my own terms" includes not intending to freelance (at least not yet), yet planning to keep blogging about wristwatches. In order to do this, I need to discover, research and write intriguing content. Petit's term for this activity is Ideation.  In the book, he offers 14 snappy, general categories for such discoveries including considering anniversaries,considering holidays, and haunting archives. I have unknowingly used his guidance in creating posts for my sister blog, Wristwatch Redux (see my post, Still Dialing Through at Twenty-Two to get a thematic sampling).

Thanks, Zak --now let's start walking again!   

Saturday, April 30, 2016

April 2016 Bench #4 -- Barry J. Marcus and Julie Campisi

Sit back on April's Bench. Rest. Check the time.

Watches are not just objects, they are companions in many of life's varied activities. Watches carry a silently shared narrative with the people who wear or carry them. It's their owners who can give them special voices when we are in a position to listen.

That's the poignant, personal message Barry J. Marcus gives us in Watches I Have Known (Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2014). This is Mr. Marcus' posterity-driven memoir of his sixty-eight-year career as a master watchmaker. Written lovingly in conjunction with his daughter, Julie Campisi, this book allows us the privilege of sitting next to Mr. Marcus at his watchmaker's bench, listening to the stories told by an incredible cast of characters who he has met through his working on time.

Jardur Watches President, C. C. Shermer sums it up beautifully on the book's back cover, "From Belleau to Omaha Beach, watchmaker Marcus sends readers back in time to experience tales of heroism, intrigue and love. A great read." And indeed it is.      

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Walk No. 23 It's About Time: Two Strolls Taken Together (April 17, 2016)

Fashion complements function. Function complements fashion.  You have the duality of choice -- as well as the unity of choice -- in Isochron Media LLC's, glossy publication, AboutTime; Function and Fashion for the Wrist. 

I discovered this publication when it was advertised in Abbeville Press' Wristwatch Annual 2016: The Catalog of Producers, Prices, Models, and Specifications.  AboutTime covers an often overlooked niche of watch enthusiasts, some of whom are luxury-minded aspirational and others that just love affordable watches as functional pieces and/or fashionable accessories.

For me, one of the best things about the publication is that it makes the world of watches understandable and accessible. I now read other horological publications such as Watch Time and Watch Journal with greater confidence and  comprehension. AboutTime's articles and product highlights are helping me to learn the descriptive vocabulary I need to enrich my own writing. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Walk No. 22 Taking Indépendants' Paths (April 14, 2016)

What a sunny April surprise to discover an international organization dedicated to supporting a rigorously selected, amazingly talented group of wholly independent watchmakers! 

This is the Académie Horlogére des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI). Based in Zurich Switzerland, the AHCI is composed of 34 Members who have been chosen for their extraordinary horological artistry and engineering craftsmanship. 

Among AHCI Members are Vianney Halter,often called the Picasso of Watchmaking and Kari Voutilainen, winner of the 2014 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genéve's (GPHG) Artistic Crafts Watch Prize for his Hisui.

The AHCI has a Circle of Friends open to watch enthusiasts and collectors worldwide who want to support and follow this important community of Indépendants.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Walk No. 21 Benjamin Franklin's One-Handed Clock Concept (April 1, 2016)

No foolin' on this one. Benjamin Franklin developed a one-handed, clock-concept with his friend James Ferguson, a Scottish astronomer and instrument maker in the 18th Century. The design of his work appears in Ferguson's Selected Mechanical Exercises, circa 1733.

In August 2015, Franklin's design has been RE-CONCEPTUALIZED as a stunning wristwatch by MeisterSinger, a bespoke watch maker in Münster, Germany.  It's called The MeisterSinger USA Benjamin Franklin Limited Edition. As Evald Muraj wrote in his Hodinkee post, "The brand successfully executes this concept" (meaning the use of one hand to indicate dial time) "by designing dials with an arithmetical, almost gauge-like rendition of hours and minutes."
I was attracted to this watch and its heritage tribute to Ben Franklin's inventive mind when I was exploring the website for Martin Pulli Fine Jewelry and Watches located in Franklin's hometown, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

Lately, my own home has been filled with  my husband James Raciti's research and writing on the notable residents of Philadelphia and the Eastern seaboard during America's colonial/post-colonial period. (See his blogs: America's Revolutionary Voices and Get to Know Stephen Girard; as well as the book, Stephen Girard: America's Colonial Olympian, 1750-1851).

What circulates with one hand in the 18th Century comes around to us in the 21st Century with new European vigor and style. Ben does indeed have cross-continental staying power.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Walk No. 20 A Man of Time to Follow: Michael Clerizo (3/22/2016)

Like to read intelligent watch commentary?  Then Michael Clerizo is your man. On December 10, 2015 his The Watch Man feature column debuted in the Wall Street Journal with "How to Buy a Luxury Watch on a Budget." His latest feature, in the WSJ's Saturday/Sunday, March 19-20, 2016 Style and Fashion section is the best summary I've read on watch fairs like the currently running Baselworld and the now concluded SIHH. In it he gives advice on such things as: "Beware the word 'trend.'"; "Don't bother with mechanics buzz.".; and "Big Brands aren't everything." He's every reason to subscribe to the paper!

Friday, March 11, 2016

March 2016 Bench #3 -- Anthony Eglin

Those of you who read my blog, Wrist Watch Redux know that a number of my posts on it have a botanical basis or slant.  I am especially drawn to wristwatches that have an association with flowers and pollinators. It's with this passion that I highly recommend prize-winning author Anthony Eglin's book, The Lost Gardens: An English Garden Mystery (St. Martins Minotaur Books, 2006).

Besides being an exciting read, the discovery of a mysterious, engraved Hamilton wristwatch from the 1930's plays an important role in work!   

Walk No. 19 NAWCC Library's Online Catalog: Searching for Horological Riches (3/11/2016)

The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors' Library & Research Center, physically located in Columbia, Pennsylvania offers an unbeatable,online resource to horologists worldwide.

The library's collection covers subjects ranging "from the repair of clocks and watches to the philosophy of time and a small collection of fiction books whose stories revolve around clocks, watches, or horology. The library specializes in reference services. With more than 30,000 books, catalogs, and periodicals, its resources are used to document timepieces around the world. The archives contain company information from several American watch and clock companies, collections of advertisements and postcards featuring timepieces, and the papers of prominent horologists." 

You can find all of the books and videos in the lending library in its catalog . Also NAWCC Members have lending privileges and the majority of its materials can be borrowed through the mail or by visiting the library.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Walk No. 18 Open Source Hardware 3-D Printed Watch (2/8/2016)

The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC) February 2016 eHappenings Newsletter has just reported that "Swiss engineer Christoph Laimer has built an open-source hardware, 3-D printed watch with a tourbillon mechanism, uploading it to Thingiverse for you to print and assemble yourself." 

Thingiverse is a 3-D printing file sharing site. 

For more information, the blog Hodinkee gives an in depth review of this groundbreaking, innovative engineering design. Worth a read by  horological hobbyists and engineers.

Visit my companion blog, Wristwatchredux for an April 2014 post on watches and 3-D printing, "Will 3D Printing Usurp the Human Hands of Time?"


February 2016 Bench #2 -- Robin Houghton

Great guide for new and seasoned bloggers in search of self confirmation, re-affirmation  and inspiration. Most importantly Robin Hougton's book, The Golden Rules of Blogging (& When to Break Them) (HOW Books, Cincinnati, OH : 2015) helped me to realize that my own blog writing style, content and presentation were not frivolous just because they were outside of conventional blogging conventions or wisdom.

Thanks to Robin, my journeys exploring wristwatches in this blog and its companion will continue with a renewed sense of self trusting direction.   

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Walk No. 17 De-accessioning Time: The Metropolitan Museum's Sale (2/2/2016)

Who's to say when one walks, one can't shop as well?  What better place to virtually stroll than an online museum store?  Right now, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a fabulous selection of its art-inspired watches on sale at 50% off.
  • Greek Meander Bangle Watch
  • French Deco Harlequin Watch (I featured this one in my post, "Yuletide Timings:  Meet Me At the Met," December 2014)
  • Parisian Buckle Watch
  • Medieval Quatrefoil Bangle Watch
  • Chevron Motif Bangle Watch
  • Jewelled Laurelton Hall Mosaic Watch
  • Laurelton HallPendant Watch
  • Rohde American Modern Watch
  • Edo Cherry Blossoms Watch
  • American Art Deco Bracelet Watch   

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Walk No. 16 An Exciting Career Path -- The North American Institute of Swiss Watchmaking (1/30/2016)

Want to work first hand on luxury watches?  Consider applying to the North America Institute of Swiss Watchmaking (NAIOSW) in Fort Worth, Texas. The Institute is sponsored by the Richemont Group, a luxury brand holding company with ties to such outstanding firms as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre.  NAIOSW was founded for "the purpose of educating successful watchmakers for a career in luxury watch repair."

The 2017 Certified Watchmaking Course began in early January, 2016 and is an immersive 3000 hours of study and practice. The dates for the Classes of 2018 and 2019 have already been announced. Student selection is highly competitive. The good news --- there is a Prestigious Watch Brands scholarship that provides each student with the full amount of tuition, fees, tools, and supplies necessary to complete the program. Room and board are at the students' choice and expense.   

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Walk No. 15 Paul Gorman Shares More on Bowie and Boshier (1/14/2016)

Just a short follow-up on my last walk mourning David Bowie. A little off the watchscape path, but worth noting.

Paul Gorman writes a blog titled, Paul Gorman is ... On January 12th, he wrote a tenderly insightful post about David Bowie's relationship with Derek Boshier,  ”I love the book… your work cascades over the decades’: David Bowie was going to contribute to Rethink/Re-entry.  

Tenderly is a word rarely found in blogs, but in Gorman's case it is one that I think his Bowie tribute deserves.  

Monday, January 11, 2016

Walk No. 14 Stopping to Mourn David Bowie (1/11/2016)

David Bowie, rock star and so much more tragically passed away yesterday at age 69 from cancer.  Although many of his songs reflected the concept of time passing, did he have any specific connection to wristwatches?  The answer is only obliquely at best -- that being through the artifice of Bowie's friend, artist, Derek Boshier.

Bowie’s concept-album Lodger (1979) contains pictures of an Omega Speedmaster Professional and an Omega Flightmaster. The images can also be found in Boshier's stunning new monograph documenting his work, Rethink/Re-entry published this fall.

Did Bowie select these?

No, according to Boshier who designed the album's inside sleeve where the Omega images appear.  “I chose them from a lot of watch pictures because I liked the double watch image and it was a good, clear photograph. It could have been other watches, by any brand. I never even knew they were Omega’s”.

Read the entire story in Paul Dezentjé's  Speedy Tuesday Fratellowatches' post (February 17, 2015),  "How a Speedmaster and Flightmaster ended up in David Bowie’s album art."

In tribute to David Bowie, I am posting a recent photograph, Looking Skyward Major Tom in his memory.

© Maryhelen Raciti-Jones


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Walk No. 13 Visiting the National Watch & Clock Museum's YouTube Channel (1/10/2016)

Love to watch YouTube?  You and 1.3 billion others! So it's good to know that the The National Watch & Clock Museum, located in Columbia, Pennsylvania   maintains its own YouTube channel.

On it, the general public as well as National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC) members can access themed playlists, Museum objects, educational and publicity videos, and vintage horological films.

Among the picks are An Introduction to Antique Clocks (17 videos); a short, six minute tutorial on how to photograph a wristwatch; and a video examining President James Monroe's pocket watch during his time in office. 

(Thanks to Steve Humphrey, NAWCC Executive Director for bringing this to my attention in his Executive Director's Weekly Newsletter January 10, 2016.)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Walk No. 12 And the Winner Is: GEM Awards Watch Design (1/9/2016)

Last night, the Jewelers of America hosted its 14th Annual GEM Awards in New York City. Considered the Academy Awards of the fine jewelry industry, the event "recognizes the outstanding achievements of individuals and companies whose work raises the visibility and status of fine jewelry and watches."

The nominees for Watch Design, an inaugural achievement category at this year's ceremony were Cartier, Piaget, and Roger Dubuis. All three are exhibitors at SIHH 2016 and are part of the Richemont group, a Switzerland-based luxury goods holding company.

For this category, "Innovation in Design" and "Technical Expertise" were two of the primary criteria for the nominees' initial selection.

And the the Award goes to Cartier. 

The firm's watchmaking was recognized for its longstanding history of capturing Parisian flair in its watch forms and movements.  Case in point is the new Clé de Cartier Collection -- its shape, new house movement, and new crown which is seamlessly integrated into the watch's case.

Strapped for time, watch the Watch Design Awards Presentation segment (1:18:42-1:26:50). 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Walk No. 11 SIHH's Magnetic 24 -- Saunter Three (1/8/2016)

For the context of this Saunter see Walk No. 9 (1/6/2016).

SIHH's Main 15 (Third/Last 5):  Piaget; Richard Mille; Roger Dubuis; Vacheron Constantin; Van Cleef & Arpels.

SIHH's Carré 9 (Third /Last 3): Laurent Ferrier; MB&F; Urwerk. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Walk No. 10 SIHH's Magnetic 24 -- Saunter Two (1/7/2016)

For the context of this Saunter see Walk No. 9 (1/6/2016).

SIHH's  Main 15 (Second 5): IWC Schaffausen; Jaeger-LeCoultre; Mont Blanc; Panerai; Parmigiani.

SIHH's Carré 9 (Second 3): Hautlence; HYT; Kari Voutilainen. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Walk No. 9 SIHH's Magnetic 24 -- Saunter One (1/6/2016)

In 2016, magnetic is poised to be the perfect, emotion-rich adjective to describe luxury watch brands that have demonstrated uncontested allure. It's an appropriate choice for the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) 2016 group of 24 exhibitors.  Nine of these exhibitors represent a new addition to SIHH's previous years' collective of 15.

The new nine are being referred to by the dedicated show space they occupy, "Carré des Horlogers."  They are "artisan-creators and independent workshops and representatives of watchmaking 'new guard.' "

In this walk and the next two that follow (Saunter One, Two, and Three), I'll simply list five exhibitors from the Main 15; and three from the Carré 9.  Take the next several months, before Baselworld 2016, March 14-24 to explore all of their magnetic time pieces.

SIHH's Main 15 (First 5):  Audemars Piguet; A. Lange & Sőhne; Baume & Mercier; Cartier; Greubel Forsey.

SIHH's Carré 9 (First 3):  Christophe Claret; De Bethume; H. Moser & Cie.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Walk No. 8 Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso's 85th Anniversary Tribute (1/5/2016)

Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH 2016) watch collection previews are hitting the industry blogs.  Among these is the celebration coverage for Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso's 85th Anniversary models.  Hodinkee, A Blog to Watch and Watch Time are among the digital harbingers previewing the Reverso offerings.

Jaeger-LeCoultre's original Art Deco-inspired Reverso debuted in 1931, the same year Manhattan's Empire State Building, an Art Deco icon became the world's tallest building.

Jaeger-LeCoultre will launch three anniversary-related collections at SIHH, the Reverso Classic, the Reverso Tribute and the new Reverso One. SIHH begins on January 18, so consider that the official showcase date for the trio's debut.

(Note: I wrote about the original Reverso in my Wrist Watch Redux post on December 30, 2014.)


Monday, January 4, 2016

Walk No. 7 Brew Watch Company (1/4/2016)

One of my daily pleasures is drinking coffee.  My coffee breaks are special times when I can relax by myself or with company. So, I was thrilled to discover Brew Watch Company, a  2015 Kickstarter-funded initiative created by Jonathan Ferrer in New York City.  

Its current collection is intimate in size, only three models:  Silver Brew, Rose Gold Brew, and Black Brew.  Each has a dial case inspired by industrial espresso machines with "warm contrasting colors and a variety of special effects." Each face has 7 display elements: hour, minute, and second hands; hour, minute, and second counters; and a date window. I'm looking forward to Brew's Espresso pour Elle Collection. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Walk No. 6 Trendng for 2016: Ethically Sourced Gold (1/3/2016)

Among JCK News' 12 Jewelry Trends for 2016, Jennifer Heebner highlights the increasing choice of using of ethically sourced materials including gold and gemstones by industry designers and businesses.  Noted Swiss jewelry/watchmaker Chopard is a leader in using fairmined gold, i.e. gold coming from an artisanal mine that operates according to recognized safe practices and leaves minimal environmental impact. In 2013, Chopard launched an initiative, called The Journey to Sustainable Luxury. At Baselworld 2014, it introduced the L.U.C. Tourbillon QF Fairmined, the world's first watch to be encased in fairmined gold. My high praise for certified supply-chain ethical sustainability.

(Note: I wrote about fairmined gold in my July 2015 post on Isabel Marant.)

January 2016 Bench #1 -- Amy K. Glasmeier

Amazing in its research and historical stretch, Amy K. Glasmeier gives us Manufacturing Time: Global Competition in the Watch Industry, 1795-2000,
(Guilford Press, New York, 2000).  I first learned of this title in Peter Oakley's bibliography for his article, "Ticking Boxes: (Re)Constructing the Wristwatch as a Luxury Object" in the journal Luxury: History, Culture, Consumption, Volume 2, Issue 1, May 2015. 

Walk No. 5 Indulge in the Bulge: Tonneau Watch Cases (1/2/2016)

The holidays are ending. The season of dieting and calorie counting has begun. But one bulging shape is timeless.  It's the Tonneau watch case. In French, tonneau means  a "cask" of varying liquid capacities often associated with the aging of wine. As a watch case design, head-on it resembles a barrel -- rectangular with rounded sides. These sides are sometimes squat; sometime curvaceous. The shape allows for a variety of dial openings including round, elongated, and of course one that follows the same contours of the outer case.   Cartier introduced the design in 1906 and it is its second oldest model after the Santos Dumont in 1904. Six years later, the first Vacheron Constantin Tonneau appeared. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Walk No. 4 Nathan G. Horwitt, Designer of the Museum Watch Dial (1/1/2016)

Nathan George Horwitt, industrial designer (1898-1990) received United States Patent and Trademark Office Design Patent No. D183 488 on September 9, 1958 for what we now know as the Movado Museum Watch. Incorporating a Bauhaus sensibility of functional purity and design simplicity, the dial design  demonstrated that an almost emptiness of a space without discernible elements except for a dot and watch hands could be justifiably patented.  The Smithsonian Institution Libraries, Cooper-Hewitt Design Archive in New York and the Museum of Modern Art, both have archival material relating to Horwitt and his career.