Month: July 2017

Do You Need a World Time Watch?

chopard luc time traveler oneThere’s a lot going on at any given time in the watchmaking world, as a big part of any luxury brand’s day seems to involve coming up with something that will attract the attention of buyers.

That makes sense, as the market is somewhat crowded and there are only so many buyers out there.  On the other hand, a lot of buyers own more than one watch and will gladly buy more if they see some new shiny thing that they don’t already have.  That’s why makers are always tweaking their product line, coming up with new complications, features, and precious metals combinations to try to attract people to buy.

One elaborate complication that we’re seeing more of these days is the idea of a world time watch.  A world time watch is one of the busier looking watches out there, and they tend to make a chronograph look rather tame by comparison.  If you’re the kind of person who likes a simple watch face, a world time watch is not going to be for you.

The term “world time” isn’t just a clever name; the watches are designed, more or less, to be able to show you the time of day anywhere on the planet.  The main display will always show you the local time, but most world time watches also have a rotating dial that will show you the time of day in 24 other places around the globe.

A good example would be the new Chopard L.U.C Time Traveler One, a limited edition model that also represents the company’s first attempt at a world time watch.  This particular timepiece uses the company’s own calibre 01.05-L movement and the timepiece will also display seconds and the date.  It’s also a self-winding automatic, and you can view the entire mechanism via the sapphire crystal case back.

You adjust the time via the crown at 2 o’clock, and you adjust the world time ring using the crown at 4 o’clock, which has a globe on it so you won’t confuse the two.

chopard luc time traveler oneThe end result is an interesting watch, but like all world time watches, it also has a very busy face.  If you’re just looking for the time, you’ll find this one a bit cluttered.  On the other hand, if you actually need a watch that tells you the time of day in 24 different time zones, what kind of person are you and what do you do for a living?

We’re not really sure that a world time watch is something that anyone really needs. On the other hand, if you’re a collector of gadgets, a fan of watches with complications, or just a fan of Chopard watches in general, this is one you’ll likely find to be interesting.  It may, or may not, be one that you’ll be adding to your collection anytime soon, depending on your finances.  The Chopard L.U.C Time Traveler One is available in stainless steel, rose gold, and platinum, at roughly $13,000, $23,000 and $36,000 respectively.

It’s nice to see that you can get it in steel, as the watch is essentially the same, aside from the case material, as the platinum version.  On the other hand, it’s roughly one third of the price.

As production is limited, this one will likely be hard to find regardless of your finances, so if you need to know the time in Burkina Faso, you might just have to ask someone.

An Alternative to the Smart Watch

smart buckleThe smartwatch has been around for a few years now, and it has caused a bit of trembling within the watch industry.  Unlike the quartz revolution of some 50 years ago, watchmakers don’t seen overly concerned right now that the smartwatch will put them out of business.

It’s the smartwatch industry that seems to have a problem right now – finding buyers who like watches.  They’ve already established their credentials among the geeks and fanboys who already buy any “smart” gadget that comes along.  The problem is that they cannot persuade people who are actually fans of wristwatches, and more particularly, fans of mechanical wristwatches, to come aboard and join the parade.

The truth is that it’s unlikely to happen.  People who collect watches realize that they can get more accurate time from a $20 Chinese-made quartz watch than they can from their Audemars Piguet.  The fact is that the Audemars is going to keep time that is accurate enough, while showing off the creativity and engineering prowess that they admire and which cannot be found in a bargain-basement quartz watch.

Many watch collectors view smartwatches as nothing more than dressed-up cheap quartz watches, and they simply cannot get excited about them.

What the smartwatch community needs to do is find another way to reach those millions of potential customers, and an interesting article that we found the other day suggests an interesting alternative – the smart watch strap.

While many watches have metal bracelets that are fixed, a lot of watches have interchangeable straps that can be replaced to suit the owner.  If the strap is leather, you’re likely to have to replace it from time to time, anyway, as leather straps do wear out with repeated wear.

A smart strap could use many of the same features that a smartwatch does, but would instead incorporate them into a strap that could be added to nearly any brand of watch, including some very expensive mechanical models.

Obviously, some care would have to be taken in order to make the strap attractive and allow it to blend in with the watch itself.  You’re not going to put on your very expensive and elegant looking Oris with a bright green plastic smart strap.   Makers could likely make them look like leather straps so that they wouldn’t draw attention to themselves.

smart buckleSo far, there hasn’t been a lot of action in this field, but one company is already marketing a “smart buckle” that will allow you to keep track of fitness statistics while wearing the strap of your choice.  It’s a good start.

Eventually, some sort of standard will probably be developed so that the Android and iOS developers can come up with a functional and attractive solution that will allow anyone to turn any kind of watch into a smart one without having to give up their mechanical movement or elaborate complications.

These things take time, but money is a big motivator.  The smartwatch manufacturers know that there is a large group of potential buyers who are simply not going to buy a smartwatch, now or ever.  The sooner they figure out a way to tap into that market, the sooner they’ll start making big money.

What is a Tool Watch?

Breitling avvenger Blackbird
Breitling Avvenger Blackbird

People have all kinds of reasons for buying luxury watches, and for buying watches in general.  That’s especially true of collectors, who buy things for all manner of reasons that may or may not make sense to non-collectors.

Most people who buy watches, however, buy one, at least initially, in order to have a device that will provide them with the time when they need it.  There are other considerations, of course, such as fashion, and that’s how people end up owning entire display cases of timepieces so they can use watches to accessorize their wardrobe.

That’s fine, and there are lots of people for whom that’s a motivator when buying a luxury watch.  But then there’s something known as  a “tool watch.”

The term isn’t that well known, and likely isn’t well known among the general public, but the term “tool watch” doesn’t refer to a Swiss Army-style device that has knife blades, screwdrivers or corkscrews built in. (Interestingly enough, Swiss Army does make watches, but they don’t have those features, either.)

No, a tool watch is a watch that has likely been purchased by the owner in order to perform some function or specific task related to their job or perhaps a sideline.  If you’re an airplane pilot, for instance, you will likely want to own a watch that can offer some features above and beyond simply offering you the time.  You might want a rotating bezel so you can keep track of elapsed time or you might want a timepiece that displays the time in multiple time zones so that you’ll always be able to determine the time where you’re coming from as well as the time where you’re going.

Other popular tool watches would be certain chronographs that are useful for people who race cars (or anything else) for a living.  There are far too many such watches on the market to describe a specific one here as an ideal example of the niche, but most people are aware of a chronograph.

Perhaps the ultimate example of a a tool watch would be watches designed specifically for divers.   While dive watches have become a bit of a fashion item and are often worn by people who rarely, if ever, put a toe in the water, there are some pretty rugged diving watches on the market.  First and foremost among features, of course, would be water resistance that is far above and beyond that which is normally required from a wristwatch.  The Rolex Submariner, for instance, has a rated water resistance of some 300 meters or so, making it a watch that will be useful for nearly anyone who regularly gets in the water.

Rolex Submariner
Rolex Submariner

These watches will also have a rotating bezel and usually one that rotates only in one direction, so that the diver can keep track of elapsed time.  This allows them to keep track of how long they’ve been in the water and how much air they may have left remaining in their tank.  When you’re underwater, knowing the time of day may or may not be useful, but knowing the amount of air you have remaining is critical.

There are other examples of tool watches on the market, but it’s worth noting that there are many timepieces available that serve purposes other than the obvious one of showing the time of day to the wearer.