Saturday, 24 February 2007

Ways to get over the fact that your $10,000 watch has an ETA inside

Instead of chanting "it can't be" over and over again or asking yourself why the hell did XYZ watch company put this *@$!@! $50-100 movement into such a nice watch. Relax, take deep breaths and let the Raphmeister help you.

Aids to help you accept the fact

- Watch companies using them and the owners probably push the message that it is a proven, accurate, robust and reliable movement. They've gotten so good at this that nearly all players in the industry agrees with this. There are loadsa magazine articles, critiques on ETA SA Manufacture Horlogère Suisse supplied movements, the Valjoux 7750, ETA 2892-A2, ETA 2824-2, Unitas 6497 and it normally comes out with the message that it may be ubiquitous but it is a proven, accurate, robust and reliable workhorse movements built like tractors.

AID 1 : Repeat these words often, "it is a proven, accurate, robust and reliable movement"

- Watch houses will dazzle you with statements like, we got the highest grade ETA produces and we've put in a lot of work into it, done extensive modifications to make it even better, finished it to a much higher level (see the Cotes de Geneve), tweaked this a little, junked that bit and replaced it with our own highly specced bits, added new bits in exclusive to us, refined and elevated it to a totally different plane, checkout the COSC certification too. Perfect medicine when you have the ETA shakes or is it the Valjoux wobble :)

AID 2 : Believe that it has been uniquely enhanced and improved to a point that it is almost not an ETA movement. Believe...

If the watch is from a company that has strengths as a manufacture and has its own in-house movements, you could think that it probably means that if they do use ETA, its been refined to about the same level as their in-house brothers. (Please note that this borders on deluding yourself and may not be that healthy)

AID 3 : The watch is from a true manufacture with their own in-house movements. Their models using ETA must be of a higher level, it's really almost like an in-house movement.

Thats it for the aids. Some good (or bad news depending on who you are) is that the Swatch group is actually going to cut down the supply of ETA movements outside of their group. This will probably see other watch houses trying to develop in-house movements or get their ebauches from other suppliers. It will be interesting to see how it develops.

For me personally, I have no qualms with ETA inside, as long as the watch companies are up front about it, don't bs their customers about what they do to the movement and tell us what exactly it is that they do do to it and charge us reasonably for them.

(All the watches shown on the right for this post have ETA inside it)

Buddhist Influences in Royal Oak Design?

Most folk know that the Royal Oak, the original Jumbo, was designed primarily by one Gerald Charles Genta, who did give birth to several iconic watch designs in the 70s and 80s. His watch designs since then, to me, don't seem to be able to match up to some of the designs in his earlier years.

The success of the Royal Oak is however not attributed to one man. It has to do with the watch house, the people running it who gave the green light. It has also to do with the marketing machinery behind it. Audemars Piguet than with Georges Golay at the helm, saw the submitted design and saw fit to give it a try albeit in a limited number, giving birth to the luxury steel sports watch in 1972. It was christened the Royal Oak. The marketing tag lines then was that it was steel on the outside and gold on the inside, and another was that it was a steel watch that costs more than a gold watch.

Well you may know all this already, but I want to focus your attention now to the possible design influence of the octagon and eventual "story" they chose to market this beautiful watch with. It is known to some that GG was on a trip in Asia at the time, in places where the locals were predominantly Buddhist, and was probably inspired by Buddhist symbols in coming up with the Royal Oak design.

This is a just a wild guess on my part, but could he have been inspired by this you think?
This is actually hanging at my house right now as part of the Chinese New Year decorations which are customary. It is the "Pa Kua" symbol that is commonly used in geomancy or "feng shui" and is a relatively common Buddhist symbol. The pic above has the Chinese character "fu" within, meaning prosperity. The circle in the centre at times has the yin yang symbol like the one below.
Hmm I wonder how well the Audemars Piguet "Pa Kua" would have sold if they hadn't linked it to the Royal Oak :) spoken tongue in cheek of course.

Well whatever his original influence was when submitting the design concept to AP, they took it and developed a story linking the design of it to some part of the HMS Royal Oak battleship, a part which till now I haven't seen any picture of and am beginning to wonder if it really exists, and the ship having got its regal "Royal Oak" name from the tree that King Charles hid in when eluding the Roundheads in 1651.

The wonders of marketing eh. Its really got an interesting and nice story behind all of it other than being a fantastic looking watch.

For those not in the know, the Royal Oak Offshore in its first form was designed by Emmanuel Gueit, launched in 1993. Select models and most of the current range have also been designed by Octavio Garcia and the current AP design team since. Just for your information, GG has commented that he isn't too crazy about some of the Offshore designs, but its not a consideration for me as I personally like a fair bunch of them.

There have been many different Royal Oaks and Offshores through the years, and to end off, I would like to say that AP is fully deserving of their success having taken an extremely well designed watch, Genta's original Jumbo, and adding to it a great name and story, and evolving it through time. It is truly a remarkable line of watches from an amazing watch house.

Before the 15 days of the Chinese New Year are over, I would also like to wish my Chinese readers out there, Gong Xi Fa Cai, Xin Nian Kwai Le, Wan Se Ru Yu. Blessings for the year ahead.

Friday, 23 February 2007

"It comes back looking like new" A Rolex Servicing Exclusive

Rolex Servicing - A Before and After Exclusive by Raphmeister

A lot of folks make this comment about Rolex servicing when they send their watch in for an overhaul which is right on the money which is “it comes back like new” but they don’t show or have pics for what they mean by that which is something I have sought to rectify. So here for you my visitor is an exclusive on Rolex servicing standards (I may be wrong but I haven’t found this in other rolex forums / sites etc). Do note that I took these pics some time back so they aren’t the best quality but I did try my best then.

What comes back from the Service Centre? An international service guarantee, receipt telling you what they charged you for the work, care instructions, polishing cloth and green faux leather pouch and a Rolex that looks brand spanking new.

Rolex Singapore's service should be commended as well. Very professional and the whole experience was really good. Oh and just to add, my Sub was exhibiting no issues on timekeeping, I just thought it would be good to give the gal a treat being such a trusty and faithful companion.

The complete overhaul cost me S$370 which is about US$240 and replacement of the sapphire crystal because of some breakage cost me S$113 which is about US$74. This is about 10% of what I paid for the watch which I find to be rather reasonable. A little history of the watch that went in, it was in really bad shape having gone through a lot of abuse in its 4+ years on my wrist as a daily beater and without care or cleaning. This shot below of the grime should give you a clue but check out the after shot on the right… “Very nice” (a la Borat) : )

Other before and after shots follow … (Please click on the images for a larger pic)

Hope you enjoyed that and now know what it means when they say it comes back looking new cause thats what really happens :)

Rolex Submariner No Date 14060M - Basking

Monday, 19 February 2007

Examine other beauties... The Perfect Dress Watch ... Lange 1

There are of course many beautiful watches outside of the few that I currently own and normally focus on. At the same time, I wanted to acknowledge 2 classic beauties to hopefully drive home a point. An advice of mine from my lengthy "watchbuying advice" post is to buy a classic beauty in your eyes. To provide you an understanding of what classic beauty is, please see the two pics below.

If by seeing these two ladies and you still don't know what I am getting at by classic beauty, you need glasses or some lessons on the appreciation of beauty in women and potentially for other forms as well. Luminous, radiant, classic, timeless and fully deserving of awards :)

The beauties that I seem to focus on in the watch realm tend to have something to do with the octagon or pretenders to the throne in the luxury sports watch range. The Royal Oaks and Offshores from Audemars Piguet definitely qualify as classic designs and gorgeous watches, but what else deserve some focus in this wide universe of watches? What else really works? If you know through my blog, I don't own a dress watch and am not much inclined to get one anytime soon, but if I were to ever buy one, it would not be a Patek or a Journe or a Dufour(even if i could afford these)... It would have to be the ...(drumroll please)... the Lange 1. A masterstroke in design and totally succeeding in what it set out to do, which was to play an integral part in the revival of fortunes of the house of Lange, a
wonderful story engineered with German precision and excellence by Gunter Blumlein, Walter Lange and Hartmut Knothe in 1994 before Richemont came in and bought over Les Manufactures Horologie (LMH) who then managed Lange, JLC and IWC.

A Lange & Soehne's Lange 1

The Lange 1 is a classic beauty. Honestly i'm not into the super simple face watches like Patek's calatravas, Stowas(did i just mention stowas in the same breath as pateks???), Dornbluths, IWC portugesers, Dufour's simplicity, Richard Lange etc, its just that the the plain, super simple look of the watch doesn't appeal and some are actually a bit yawn-worthy to me. I do recognise how others can like these watches and can recognise that they do have an appeal for other folks and some may say as you mature you may come to appreciate them but uhm I don't see it happening for a very very long time for myself.

The Lange 1 however is a different proposition. Its also got a pretty simple face but with 2 dials, non-overlapping indicators, not overly simple but with a very clean face and to me it just looks perfect as a dress watch.

The most beautiful examples in the Lange 1 range for me are the ... mother of pearl guilloche dial, the white dial and the grey dial, the luna mundi and timezone models. I am a pretty large guy so the size of the Grand Lange's and the timezone, luna mundis appeal to me more than the regular Lange 1 sizes but the Grand Lange's dial design loses out to Lange 1's for me due to the overlapping indicators and the track and look on the smaller dial and the red indicator markings for the power reserve.

Maybe one day larger and nicer versions will be made and ...
maybe one day she will be mine... Just maybe :)

Sunday, 18 February 2007

She wore LEMON .... u2

2007 Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme W-Alarm & Valentino Rossi edition watches

Some interesting posts on this have been put up already.

On the forums: (allowed, disallowed, embargoed, moratoriums... whatever)
The one at Horomundi - Article by Jaw, who for those of you who don't know, was a JLC forum moderator on thepurists for a long time. JLC advocate with loadsa-exclusives which even now as an editor/moderater at Revolution and Horomundi he continues to enjoy. Respected in the horology field.
Story of who gets to release it first at Horomundi - Just plain weird...
the one at thepurists - gone and still gone. well if horomundi has plastered it all over the net than why can't thepurists do so?

On the blogs:
Velociphile - He knows his JLCs and has some thoughts on the upcoming ones...
Kronos - Great observations and very interesting posts. Gisele and Kate huh :)


On all this embargo rubbish, why bother? Its not like leaking out nuclear weapon design now issit? Is it gonna affect sales or is it some marketing ploy or is it about giving exclusives to this or that guy... smells like a bullcrap to me...

On the watch... I will begin by saying that there are some JLCs I like, and I have an idea for what would be an ideal JLC for me which I'll post about another time, but this and the other new releases you can read about in all its gory details in the horomundi post, is really going the wrong way imho. There are some monsters out there already, the disgusting ones at Z......(guess the rest of the name :) come to mind but it seems JLC designers are sadly going the same way with these ones. Lets hope they have other better releases up their sleeves as it is still a watch house I really like.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

Luminous beings are we...not this crude matter...

Lume me up baby!

Last time they used radioactive stuff in the luminous materials to light up the watch dial, I heard that for Panerais in the early days using radomir the folks who applied the stuff would have nails falling off and hair falling off and God knows what else... Tritium was used for a bit as well but nowadays superluminova is the way to go. Long story short, it won't kill anyone and you won't get radiation poisoning wearing one of these babies and some of them glow real well, others not so well, and others give off a distinct and gorgeous blue hue. Luminous beings are they indeed :)

AP royal oak offshore lume

Rolex sub lume

IWC St Exupery ... it glows blue...

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

I observe that you are in one respect a very fortunate man, Monsieur

!!! Warning: Non-watch related post. Next one after will be I promise : ) !!!


Have seen dawn and sunset on moors and windy hills
Coming in solemn beauty like slow old tunes of
I have seen the lady April bringing in the daffodils,
Bringing the springing grass and the soft warm April rain.
I have heard the song of the blossoms and the old chant of the sea,
And seen strange lands from under the arched white sails of ships;
But the loveliest things of beauty God ever has showed to me
Are her voice, and her hair, and eyes, and the dear red curve of her lips.

by John Masefield

Although my wife thinks I have watches on the brain and can only think of this 24.7.365 and spend hours at the computer on watch forums, I must say that its not true (well not entirely : )

There is nothing more important to me in this world than making this special lady happy, and the happiness of my soon to arrive baby boy and my family. So this is a message to my wife who should be reading this blog today for the first time…

Thank you for being all that you are and for loving me for who I am. Happy Valentine’s Day :-*

Saturday, 10 February 2007

Raphmeisters Watch Buying Advice

The Great Commandment is "Buy what you love". This comes about because some folks post questions like "which watch should I get?" or "which is better between X vs Y?"... "help me choose between A, B and C" etc etc etc

What is the preferred watch for someone else has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on what would be the preferred or optimal watch for you. This extends to all other areas where taste or subjectivity comes into play yuh not just watches :) So the following advice is purely

to aid you in coming to the right decision for yourself. From time to time I will add to this when I attain greater enlightenment or when i do get down to it...

So what is the right watch for you?

What do you normally get up to during the week and weekends? Do you intend to buy multiple watches or are you looking for one that can cover it all?

Assess these factors:
- Do you want to wear the watch for your typical work days or is it for the weekend or specific activity or is it the one watch for everything?
- During your workdays what kind of attire are you in and how active do you get?

- If you're getting the watch more for weekend or other activities, then the question is what are these activities? Pulling at the pub, clubbing, diving, swimming, jogging, skiing etc
Does the watch you wanna get suit and hold up to all of this?

What is your necessary or preferred features, characteristics of a watch? Must be theres, can live withouts, dislikes...

- External beauty...the look: overall design, the case shape, dial layout and intricacies(guilloche, wordings and whatever is on its face), the type, marriage and quality of its different finishings, look of its numerals(arabics,romans,art deco-ish,) color and look of the hands
- Size: tiny, medium, large or a clock on the wrist
- Refined or rugged or swings both ways
- Certain key functions you are looking for (see appendix at
the end of this post)
- Prestige or beauty or uniqueness in its inner workings
- Story, romanticism, classicism, history
- Exclusivity (you want to be the only one you see with it or you like being part of a community or somewhere imbetween)
- Hearts desire (Due to seeing it on the wrist of someone you admire or whose opinions you value or very sadly because your hero in some sports, arts or whatever field wears it. Due to being enchanted with the ads and marketing of the watch house. The spell being cast may be strong but this is where it gets most tricky
- Fancy things about it, gadgety stuff about it
- Price range

Price almost didn't come into play :) Because my advice here is if you want to get a certain watch and you've set your sights on it as the one for you (noting all my proposed assessment factors to prevent you from ending up with a mistake) then price may be a secondary factor. Of course, don't be eyeing watches that are totally out of your means.

Do consider the family expenses, mortgage, car payments etc before even setting your sights on a potential next acquisition. Don't spend above your means. When they say its an addiction they’re not joking.

If price is the key factor though, the suggestion is
do not buy a cheaper watch instead of the one you would really like to get. Saving it up is best, credit can be bad if abused.

And resale price is a consideration only if you think you may be making a mistake on your purchase(which no one does at the time they make the purchase decision) and may sell it further down
the road or you know you are definitely selling it down the road or may want to liquidate it for a rainy day.

Try not to believe the hype (well not all of it anyways :)
The game is luxury. Watch houses push
- exclusivity: limited editions, limited productions, prohibitive prices
- innovation: new materials, new combinations of different materials, new escapements, new in-house movements with X amount of power reserve and special features and the list goes on, technical superiority
- uniqueness: uniqueniss of the design, of the movement (inhouse or rare) or uniqueness of any part of the movement related to the watch. Uniqueness of the brand and of the watch history which can't be made up in a flash

Beware marketing ploys

With limited editions, ask yourself this. Is it made out of a
material that’s so scarce that they can't source for it anymore and therefore hv 2 limit it? Does it house a movement that will no longer be supplied and they have to limit it? Does it contain special parts that the watch company can't make any of without incurring ridiculous costs?

Never buy a watch without seeing it in the metal
... unless you have or handled similar examples and know what exactly to expect; from heft to
how it feels and looks on your wrist, to how you look with it on. No ad pics or beautifully taken pictures on some forum will be able to give that to you.

If it doesn't feel like you need to have it, then you probably don’t. If you’re not sure, step away. You can always reconsider and get it another day (except if its a problematic limited edition then its buy or potentially not have the watch or get it later at a possibly higher price or for limited production pieces you could possibly have to wait a few months.

Note, some watch houses do this so that this opportunity to pause and
contemplate further before a purchase decision is taken away from you. You feel that if you don’t make the decision now, what you hold in your hand might escape from you. Some sellers are also guilty of doing this, saying that if you don’t get it they have a ready buyer.

Get what is a classic beauty to you
If you intend to buy and keep your watches, then buy what is a classic beauty for you. Look at it and ask yourself if you think you will like it 5, 10, 50
years from now. You can’t see the future and what the watch trends may be but some designs can go the distance. So ask yourself if this next acquisition is a classic beauty for me that I find beautiful today, will find beautiful 10 years from now and still beautiful 50 years from now.

Timing it. Don’t rush if possible. Don’t buy on impulse.

Post purchase – when the hunt is over. Enjoy your acquisition. Post pictures on various forums as well if thats your thing. As with all purchases, don't go around seeing if you got it at the best possible price. Just make sure you did your research beforehand and you got it at a sensible price at that point in time. If its reasonable and you were fine paying so much for it at the time, don’t sour it by looking at the grey market piece that pops up a week later going for 10% less than what you paid.

My advice to watch makers and watch houses and conglomerates – Treat your customers with respect. Don’t forego the loyalty built up with the current stable to get new ones. Don’t abuse them. The relationship should be one based on mutual respect or its not going to work now is it.

Eg. Don’t tell me an outsourced movement is in-house. Don’t tell me its limited edition and then issue another watch that’s only slightly different. Don't tell me its Swiss made and house a russian movement inside ;) Don’t make fools of your buyers. Hopefully the advice here will aid in the watch buyer out there in making a better choice.

I hope you have found this advice to be of value to you in your hunt or search for the next piece.

APPENDIX: FUNCTIONS (Not all of it but most of it...)
Time keeping

Chronograph/Retrograph/rattrapante/double split/doppelchrono/regatta timer
Minute repeater/alarm/chiming

Perpetual calendar/annual calendar

Moon phase/equation of time


Automatic or handwound
Tourbillon (single / multi-axis)

Note: Watch pics on the right are of my own watches or from timezone, kronos and are pictures of watches that some I like and some I lurve :)

[Top to Bottom:
- Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Themes Black
- Richard Mille 010 RG
- IWC Antoine de Saint Exupery
- AP Royal Oak Jumbo
- AP End of Days
- Patek Philippe Nautilus
5712G & R
- Lange & Sohne
Datograph movement
- AP RO Offshore Rose Gold Rubberclad
- Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso Squadra Hometime
- Lange 1
- IWC Portuguese Perpetual Calendar WG
- Panerai 233 and 111]

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Speaking of G-shocks...

G-shocks... (For continuity, check out the end of my last post :)

Nothing wrong with them in my opinion. It ain't mechanical and it ain't haute horology of course but it works and it does do its functions oh so well.

And what exactly are those functions for the model I have... Perpetual calendar ;) , 10 timezones(with half hour/quarter hour settings if needed), chronograph, 2 alarms, countdown timer, dive log, automatic electro luminescence light, its solar powered, has a power reserve indicator, can hold some personal data, God knows what else...

Oh I actually got 2 of em and I find them really cool. They get wrist time whenever I am at the gym which I do try to hit twice a week, or poolside, or if I'm ever at a beach. Sometimes when my outfit goes better with it, or I am heading out to the nearby grocers, its on the wrist again. And to me it looks good. Much better than some automatics I have seen and for not much money. They are fun. Of course there are some monstrosities in the casio and quartz watch ranges but you just gotta be selective is all :) These babies can of course take a beating and don't seem any worse for wear.

Note for the pic below: I didn't sync up the times as yet coz its a pic after I just got one of em. After they were synced up with atomic they were and are constantly in sync with each other and run spot on or +1sec a day :) Bless their digital quartz souls

Monday, 5 February 2007

New AP Offshore Volcano

Hi all, do visit Kronos' blog as it is an excellent watch blog and he somehow seems to get all the info hot off the press or through other top secret sources. For example this new baby from AP (Picture on the right courtesy of Kronosblog) before you wonder if this is some frankenwatch or some avid photoshoppers project, it seems like it is actually gonna be a new regular production Offshore that will be issued by Audemars Piguet.

Honestly, I love the ROOs and selected limited editions, but this one looks a bit odd to me. I think the folks at AP may have like a random strap/bracelet + tachy dial/subdials/hands/numeral/strap stitch color generator and they were busy running the generator, clicking away through thousands of random combos (and may have hit a meltdown of some sort... look at all the nice colors...) and ended up with this guy. Volcano huh... how bout Roadkill for a name? Looks like it has something more in common with lava ie. something thrown up. I may be being a bit cruel, my apologies, its not that bad. To each his own yuh :)

Another thing to note is that it will have an in-house chrono movement. Which makes me wonder why the cyclops magnifier is still over the date in the pic, unless its an early pic to be updated or something. For those who are confused, typically if you're building an integrated chrono the date wheel can be made to be just below the dial not requiring the cyclops or maybe they did it so that it maintains the look from the current Offshores.

Hmm looks like we'll wait and see so till more details are made known, the next question on this ROO owners mind is ... what would it mean in terms of prices of ROOs with the older movements? will servicing be an issue or is it a non-consideration? just random thoughts from me. speaking of random I wish i could have a go at the random strap/color generator. I'm sure I could come out with some happening combos and give them some interesting names... hmm maybe a emerald blueish one called Elemental... or a red stitched black crocodile on a pvd roo with blood red arabics and hands and call it The Count (ok I jest) I am sure they will come out with more tasteful ROOs in future and you never know, maybe the Volcano, in the metal and better taken pics, really rocks. I guess we'll have to wait and see...

Still a few weeks to the Team Alinghi, hope that'll be a winner and not a G-shock disguised as an AP.

Saturday, 3 February 2007

"like a Ferrari with a 4 Cylinder Engine..." Whats in an Offshore

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshores are beautiful amazing watches. They come in the same basic shape and size but in a myriad number of case / bezel / bracelet / strap materials, dial, subdial, numerals and hand color combinations. I believe people don't really buy the Offshore for the movement inside as compared to someone looking at a Lange Datograph or a high end tourbillon but from time to time, the questions is raised about how good is it. Whats ticking inside? What is the heart in this masterpiece that would make a highly renowned watchmaker whom a lot of watch-loving folks respect(including myself) make the comment that appears in the title to this post?

I believe AP is in the process of coming out with new in-house chrono movements and may in time fit them in their new editions but for now the current Offshores have the calibre 2326/2840 movement.

- Beats at 28,800 bph
- Dubois Depraz chronograph module fitted on top of a base self-winding movement
- Base movement is AP 2326 based on the JLC 899.
Going backwards:
-> 2326 (JLC 899) uni-directional winding
-> 2226 (Based on 2225(28,800) based on JLC 889/2) Bi-directional winding
-> 2126 (Based on 2125(21,600 33 jewels) based on JLC 889(28,800) and
-> 2123 based on JLC 888 possibly

- Balance wheel is now a variable-inertia one - Power reserve 38 hours

All finely finished, tested and assembled by AP for a reliable and reasonably robust movement.

So whats so bad about modular chronographs? Its not conclusive and it will depend from watch to watch but the chrono pusher feel is supposed to be worse when comparing an integrated chrono to a modular chrono. The hands for time may jump forward on activating the chrono which isn't that great.

Why did AP choose to use a JLC ebauche? Back in the early 90s when the Offshore came out, it wasn't uncommon for JLC to provide base ebauches to a lot of the great houses and in some cases the movements were co-designed or development costs were funded by the house requesting for the movement. AP did also own a significant equity stake in JLC in the past before selling it to Richemont. And in-house wasn't so important as it is the trend today. There weren't that many integrated chronos available then as well that AP would consider putting in the offshore.

After all of this, my thoughts are this. Its a great watch with a great design and its from Audemars Piguet. Whats not to love?

(Movement pictures from timezone and thepurists)

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