George Thomas tourbillion watches (front and one in background) at the National Watch & Clock Museum. Photo by Keith Lehman.
Working at the National Watch & Clock Museum has many advantages. One of them is being able to visit several tourbillion watches that are on display. We even have watches on display that were made by the same man who invented the technology that forever changed the direction of horology.
It doesn’t take long for the name Breguet to be presented to the traveler along the path of horology. Abraham-Louis Breguet is one the major gods in the classical pantheon of horology, alongside Thomas Tompion, Thomas Mudge, and John Harrison.
According to Hodinkee.com a tourbillon is a mechanism that constantly rotates the balance wheel, balance spring, and escapement while the movement is running. This is done to counter the effect of Earth's gravity on the isochronal properties of the balance wheel and spring.
The tourbillon regulator is so revered that for a watchmaker, creating one is similar to a chef achieving a Michelin Star. I recently got to hold the first one serially produced in North America by Roland Murphy at RGM Watch Co. It was truly a privilege to be presented such a technological marvel by the man who actually crafted it.
Breguet pocketwatch at the National Watch & Clock Museum. Photo by Keith Lehman.
Of course, the wheels of invention turn on forever; after all, Breguet invented the tourbillon around 1795. Jaeger-LeCoultre launched its self-winding Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon® only a few days ago.
Another example of how the tourbillon has inspired today’s technomancers is the 3D printed Tourbillon 1000% created by Hodinkee technical editor Nicholas Manousos and the World’s First Fully Functional 3D Printed Watch by Christoph Laimer.
There are volumes written about the history, impact, and engineering of the tourbillon regulator. What’s interesting is its continuing interest and evolution in modern (and most likely future) horology.
I was recently perusing the subreddit Watches and read a post that caught my attention. It was from an aspiring watch collector, who seemed genuinely overwhelmed by the choices ahead of them. Being new to the world of watch collecting and horology here was my suggestion,
“Watch collecting, like many other types of collecting, is a personal a hobby. Do you collect anything else? If so what is your approach to that? There are so many different types of watches with varying degrees of history, prestige and place. First, "know thy self" then you will have a better idea which direction you may like to go.”
From collecting ukiyo-e Japanese prints to glass paperweights, everyone entering a hobby has to figure out what angle they are going to take. One of my hobbies is collecting 8-and 16-bit video games. I’m a huge role-playing and fantasy fan and am not fond of sports. Needless to say, my collection reflects this. The same goes with wristwatches.
I’m certainly not the first person to address the question of how to begin a wristwatch collection. Here are a few sites and videos that my help you on your wristwatch Odyssey.
Watch Collecting Advice www. Luxurytolast.com
Starting Vintage Wristwatch Collecting Without the Tears: NAWCC wristwatch curator Adam Harris
So Many Watches, So Little Time: WSJ.com
Beginner’s Guide to Building a Watch Collection: truefacet.com
These links are not a definitive guide to building a collection, but they all have their points. My only caution is to a newbie buying a vintage watch. The vintage market is a hall of mirrors filled with fakes and false claims. If you go the vintage route, make sure to do your research because it’s easy to wind up with something completely different from what you thought.
Print advertisement for Timex's Data Link
It’s safe to say that smartwatches are here to stay. In fact, they have been here for a while. Starting in 1994 Timex released a line of smartwatches branded Data Link. Among other features it was able to store phone numbers, appointments and even what Timex referred to as a WristApp. The watch used optical scanning technology to download content from a PC by holding it in front of a PC monitor.
Interestingly enough, Google analytics shows that in 2004 (the earliest you can go back), from Aug. 1 – Aug 7 there was a slight bump for the word “smartwatch” for online searches.
A different approach
All is not lost for the mechanical watch enthusiast in the smart-eat-mechanical watch world. Introducing Classi, a smartwatch enhancement that fist underneath your mechanical watch! The Classi is actually a smartwatch band that implements many features enjoyed by the modern smartwatch like a 3-axis accelerometer, vibration motor, and blue tooth connectivity.
Diagram showing parts of Classi Smartwatch. Image owned by Classi.
Bigger and Better
It’s smartwatch announcement season with Samsung recently promoting their new high-end Gear S3. We can expect further news soon from other brands, including Apple, Asus, and Fossil. Bigger screens, 4G connectivity, faster processors, and upgrades to their operating systems will be important features in these upcoming watches.
Your Phone (and now your watch) Is Listening
It’s important to be aware that all of this new tech comes at a cost to our privacy. Note to Self: a podcast focused on “reserving our humanity in the digital age” published an article titled Is My Phone Listening in on Me? It’s a fascinating and frightening look into the tech that we’ve become literally attached to and how it can invade our privacy.
by Keith Lehman 9/6/16
This may seem like a curious mix of subject matter but I’m gearing up for an event in October. As of now I can’t share the details but here are some interesting sites and literature that may give you a clue on the subject I’m presenting.
Do you think can guess the topic? If so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if you are correct.
Sacred Time Exhibit
Listen to National Watch and Clock Museum’s curator Kim Jovinelli on the exhibit Sacred: Symbolism and the Religious Concept of Time. It’s easy to register and you’ll gain an insider’s view on the curation and insight on the unique pieces chosen for the exhibit.
Having owned this book for years I’ve returned back to it time and again for artistic and philosophical inspiration. Artwork concerning the Bhavachakra interest me the most. Having worked for Tibetan Aid Project and the Odiyan Retreat Center in California this book transports me back to a picaresque portion of my life when I explored Buddhist theories of existence and the Universe.
Timeline of the far future
This fascinating infographic on the concept of deep time, also known as big history takes you through earth’s journey through fathoms of the aeons. Curious to know what will most likely happen on Earth in 10,000 years? This infographic has the answer. What about 10 billion years? Look no further. This chart explores Earth’s journey through time up to 100 Quntillion years! Spoiler alert: the end isn’t pretty…
Lunar Phase watches
Monochrome.com has a wealth of content concerning watches with moon phase indicators. To understand cycles of the moon and how they correlate to our modern calendar in one thing but to create a watch that accurately calculates this it is another. Peruse the many interpretations various brands take on lunar phase watches and their never ending quest to be the most mathematically accurate.
Quill and Pad has also compiled a list of the 8 most modern accurate moon phase wristwatches.