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Bearable Lightness of Being
in the Watch Industry

Therese Umerlik 12/9/16

Ingenuity can be so refreshing, particularly when it improves upon the simple mechanical watch.

 

To achieve innovations, such as ceramic cases and self-lubricating silicon micromechanics, the Swiss watch industry is picking the brains of materials scientists, according to City A.M.

 

In the fight against scratches, a solution emerged with the fusion of 24-karat gold and porous ceramic substrate, resulting in Hublot’s Magic Gold.

 

Not only does ceramic resist scratches, it’s nice to wear, lightweight, and balances with people’s body temperature.

 

But ceramic could be a tough sell for serious watch collectors, who preferred the luxury of gold and platinum.

 

The weight of these metals has communicated a value that some makers are challenging. Monsieur Mille uses titanium, lithium alloy, and carbon, creating watches that attract athletes because of their lightness and durability.

 

The lightweight trend is growing among the affordable watches as well. Swatch released models that included aluminum.

 

Innovations in the Swiss watch industry could help bolster sales as exports continue to decline.

Buy a Watch, Plant a Tree

Therese Umerlik 12/7/16

So often the discussion of wristwatches and the watch industry concentrates on history, value, and profits, but what about the environment?

 

For Sam McAllister, the departure from the traditional watch industry and its profit margins was critical to establishing his new brand, according to The University Times, a student newspaper in Ireland published from and financed by Trinity College Dublin.

 

McAllister, a second-year student, launched his unisex watch company, Stem Watches, with a social conscience that involves full transparency regarding pricing as well as helping the environment.

 

For every watch sold, a tree is planted. And planting trees creates jobs for people living in impoverished areas.

 

He partnered with WeForest, a sustainable reforestation company that has planted more than 13 million trees.

 

“I wanted to set up my own company, but I also wanted it to have a social impact at the same time. So I figured it would be a good idea to partner with a charity,” McAllister told reporter Aislinn McCann.

 

What about his watches? He offers three watch designs with changeable leather straps, all of which McAllister designed himself.

 

To learn more about his entrepreneurial endeavor, read The University Times. http://www.universitytimes.ie/2016/12/the-student-led-watch-company-with-a-conscious/

New fake timepieces?
No problem! “Luxury or Lie”
meets the forensic challenge

by John H. Grow, ISA-AM (CAN) 12/5/16

Photo by NAWCC. Harris with jeweler's loop inspecting a watch.

In a changing world where people or companies strive to fool unsuspecting watch buyers, instruction must evolve to address the new differences among homage, frankenstein, reworks, fake, and super fake timepieces.

 

NAWCC instructor Adam Harris has accomplished that task with his updated course “Luxury or Lie.” He introduced this course in 2015 when he concentrated luxury timepiece manufacturers Rolex, Omega, Hublot, Rolex-Tudor, Bretling, Cartier, Panerai, Tag Heuer, Mont Blanc, and Bell & Ross.

 

As an attendee of that course, I was introduced to the functions and types of watches as well as shown what to look for in a watch to determine if it was a marriage of pieces, an homage to make up a new watch, or a fake or super fake.

 

Fast forward to October 2016 and the updated course by the same name.

 

Motivated by his commitment to debunk and expose, Harris focused on newer and current watch movements, their history and the companies that use the movements from ETA (Valjoux) to Miyota to Seagull. He also covered the chronograph movements and ETA (Valjoux) dials.

 

I attended this course as well and participated in Harris’s forensic examination of timepieces. Seeing and handling the parts gave me and others the confidence to determine a genuine timepiece or a super fake.

 

The explosion of new information is difficult to capture in this short post, but to give you some perspective let’s focus on Harris’s binder. Each student receives a binder chock-full of information. In 2015 I received a binder containing 380 pages of research. In 2016 that binder was nearly double in size with a total of 580 pages.

 

Harris covers popular companies, such as Omega, Hublot, Rolex, Rolex-Tudor, Brietling, Cartier, Tag Heuer, Panerai, Bell & Ross, Mont Blanc, Girard-Perregaux, and Audermars Piquet, and explains the explains the step-by-step process to determine how to tell the difference. He designed a method in a table dubbed the CSI format—Counterfeit, Suspect, Incorrect—that guides attendees through the debunking process on their own.

 

This course is geared toward pawnshop owners, auction houses, watch dealers, jewelry stores, gemologists, and appraisers, or anyone  who wants to know the value of pieces in their collection or who is planning to purchase watches for fun or profit.

 

Harris has taken his course and expertise nationally and internationally. At the pawnbrokers convention in Las Vegas, he gave some private instruction to folks from the TV series Pawn Stars and an abbreviated course to convention attendees. He also taught folks in Singapore!

 

As a dual accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers, I found that the 2015 and 2016 courses continue to increase my knowledge of watches and I strongly recommend it to anyone who is a member of ISA or the American Society of Appraisers (link to http://www.appraisers.org/).

 

Interested in learning more about “Luxury or Lie” and other courses offered through the NAWCC? Visit the Association’s education programs.

 

About the Author

 

John H. Grow, ISA-AM, is a partner with Suzanne Charlebois in the full-service appraisal and brokerage firm of Prestige Evaluation Inc. The firm specializes in antique jewelry, jewelry antiquities, watches, clocks, and antiques in general.

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