The Founder’s Grandfather

Like EP Martin, a watch manufacturer which has been doing their thing for years, Movado have always done things their own way. EP Martin named themselves after the founder’s grandfather who was a bomber pilot during World War II.

Movado named themselves after an Esperanto word for ‘in motion’. For those unfamiliar with Esperanto, it was invented in 1887 by the wonderfully named Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof as an international language designed to stop the residents of European countries from killing each other. Not sure how well it worked but today there are 2,000,000 speakers worldwide.

EP Martin have made predominantly chronograph watches during their short history. Movado has made numerous chronographs in their 125 plus years.

Over their 135 year history Movado have made some wonderful and unusual watches including the stylish, slim Ultraplan, The Solidomatic, the innovative Ermeto which was contained in a compact rectangular case and was wound by opening and closing it, and the futuristic Museum Watch. Movado could never be accused of being dull.

watch frontside

Movado’s stunning and complex 95M movement introduced in 1938

But it’s one of Movado’s most restrained and conservative watches that is my favorite – the simply wonderful. Sub Sea. Designed in the early 1950’s as a diver’s watch with a most substantial ‘o’ ring seal, this watch employs the majestic 95M 17 jewel movement. And while I would hesitate to suggest that you go diving with a 70-year old watch, if you take it to a decent watchsmith, replace the ‘O’ ring seal and have the watch pressure tested, you should be OK.

So after you’ve established that this wonderful watch is sea-worthy, go diving. When you’re on dry land give it a good rinsing with soap and water. Some people swear by a household cleanser called Dutch Glow cleaning tonic. See for yourself and you be the judge.

The Sub Sea Chronograph on the author’s hairy wrist.

Movado have always done things their own way. The company named themselves after an Esperanto word for ‘in motion’. For those unfamiliar with Esperanto, it was invented in 1887 by the wonderfully named Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof as an international language designed to spawn camaraderie between countries that might otherwise have beaten the shit out of each other. Not sure how well it worked but today there are 2,000, 000 users worldwide.

watch backsideOver their 135 year history Movado have made some wonderful and unusual watches including the stylish, slim Ultraplan, The Solidomatic, the innovative Ermeto which was contained in a compact rectangular case and was wound by opening and closing it, and the futuristic Museum Watch. Movado could never be accused of being dull.

But it’s one of their most restrained and conservative watches that is my favorite – the simply wonderful. Sub Sea. Designed in the early 1950’s as a diver’s watch with a most substantial ‘o’ ring seal, this watch employs the majestic 95M 17 jewel movement, a thing of absolute beauty. See the pictures and tell me if I’m wrong.

Movado’s stunning and complex 95M movement introduced in 1938

Dating these watches is a crap shoot. Movado never kept a record of serial numbers, so you have only catalogs and brochures to give you an indication of which era a model is from. My best guess on this Sub Sea is about 1955, but it could be as early as 1940. These watches are getting harder to find in excellent condition. Expect to pay about $1,500 for a primo one. Then treasure it for the marvelous timepiece that it is.

Posted in General | Comments Off on The Founder’s Grandfather

How I Became A Rolex Convert

I confess, I am not a huge fan of Rolex watches. To me they are inextricably linked to the dot com excesses of the 1990’s when everyone and their gold-plated poodle was wearing a Rolex Submariner. I am more of a Bulova and Movado fan. That said, I love this watch. The 1601 Datejust is pure class.

Rolex

The Rolex 1601 Datejust. As pretty as a picture.

Contrary to popular myth, Rolex is not a conjugation of Rolls Royce and Timex. For years I thought it was. Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf, while riding on a London bus in 1908 said the following:

“I tried combining the letters of the alphabet in every possible way. This gave me some hundred names, but none of them felt quite right. One morning, while riding on the upper deck of a horse-drawn omnibus along Cheapside in the City of London, a genie whispered ‘Rolex’ in my ear.”

Well Genie or not, the name Rolex sounds so right, and this watch just looks so right. The Datejust was introduced in 1945 as a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the company. It epitomizes everything Rolex was about. This watch is elegant, discreet and a great timekeeper.

The 1601 is chunky without being the 800 lb gorilla on the wrist that the Submariner became. It’s a joy to wear and doesn’t feel too heavy.

This one has a silver dial with a 14K white gold bezel, but they came/come in many colors. The cyclops eye over the date was introduced in 1954, and no matter whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying it does the job of making the number easier to read. The automatic caliber 1570 movement is legendary in Rolex history and gives the watch a 50 hour power reserve.

Rolex 2

Looks great inside too.

Just like the notorious Submariner you can dive deep with this watch on your wrist, thanks to the Oyster Perpetual watertight case. Adjustment is via the standard Rolex unscrewable crown which allows you to wind the watch manually and adjust the hands and date. What more can you ask from a watch? That it tells the time impeccably. And the 1601 Datejust does exactly that. If you only ever own one Rolex in your life you should make it this one. New online price is about $8,000. The price for a vintage used one from the 1960’s in pristine condition is $2,500 – $3,000.

Posted in General, Rolex | Tagged , , | Comments Off on How I Became A Rolex Convert

Time Is On My Side

Time has been described as ‘a measure of change’. So if no-one is around to see or experience that change does this still apply. Yes of course. Even if there were no humans or other forms of life – terrestrial or extraterrestrial – to observe this change, still it occurs. Stars explode, stars implode, black holes suck in time and slow it down, but it never stops.

black holeThe idea behind black holes, has been around in the scientific community for more than 200 years. In 1783,a Cambridge don, John Michell, wrote a paper in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London,about what he called dark stars. He pointed out that a star that was sufficiently massive and compact, would have such a strong gravitational field that light could not escape. Any light emitted from the surface of the star, would be dragged back by the star’s gravitational attraction, before it could get very far.

Michell suggested that there might be a large number of stars like this. Although we would not be able to see them, because the light from them would not reach us, we would still feel their gravitational attraction. Such objects are what we now call black holes, because that is what they are, black voids in space. A similar suggestion was made a few years later, by the French scientist the Marquis de La~plass, apparently independently of Michell. Interestingly enough, La~plass included it in only the first and second editions of his book, The System of the World, and left it out of later. Perhaps he changed his mind.

If you were to enter a black hole, you would find your wristwatch ticking along at the same rate as it always had (assuming both you and the watch survived the passage into the black hole). However, you would quickly fall toward the center where you would be killed by enormous tidal forces (e.g., the force of gravity at your feet, if you fell feet first, would be much larger than at you head, and you would be stretched apart).

Although your watch as seen by you would not change its speed, just as in special relativity someone else would see a different speed on your watch than the usual, and you would see their watch to be advancing at a different than normal rate.

If you were outside a black hole, while you would find your own watch ticking at the normal rate but you would see the watch of a friend at great distance from the hole to be ticking at a much faster rate than yours. That friend would see his own watch advancing at a normal rate, but see your watch to be ticking at a much slower rate. And if you stayed just outside the black hole for a while, then went back to join your friend, you would find that your friend had aged significantly during your separation. Weird. Next stop time travel is possible.

Posted in General | Comments Off on Time Is On My Side

Using Glue To Cement Watch Crystals

It’s infuriating when your crystal falls off your watch – the little glass or plastic window that protects the dial and hands. You’ve’ probably tried epoxy, super glue, but this has them all beat. Glue flows just right thru a blunt hypodermic needle tip which perfectly tracks a watch crystal’s groove/seat. Works and dries fast. So don’t hang around when you are using it.

Plastic GlueGS Hypo TM Cement is a professional strength jeweler’s and watchmaker’s glue. It is traditionally used for gluing plastic or glass watch crystals. But it is also great for jewelry making, bead crafts, ceramic and plastic repair, model making, fine screw locking, sealing knots, and more. It is easy to use with its precision applicator and it dries clear so it won’t be noticeable when you are done.

I pre-clean the groove well with denatured alcohol ensuring any former glue remnants are removed using an Xacto blade if needed. Then I pre-clean the mating surface of the crystal and last step clean inside of crystal so it is clean once in place. After the bead of glue is laid down, just set crystal in with a bit of pressure and that is it.

Give 24 hours before wearing the watch, as indicated on the label, although you will find you can use it within a few hours with no problems.

There is enough glue to do several dozen of crystals if you need to. Keep the sealed tube in a couple of tight zip lock bags to prolong shelf life. With care the tube will last several years without drying out.

Here’s information from the manufacturer’s website……..

G-S Hypo Cement was invented in 1930’s for use in the watchmaking and jewelry repair industries. It is a combination fine precision tool and a clear drying, medium-strength cement that will not damage surfaces. The cement is ideal for jewelry, beads, plastic, glass, metal, ceramics, painted or sealed woods and other non-porous surfaces. This is a no-waste product that is ideal for many applications. Full use of the precision applicator tip is maintained by inserting the cap wire into the tube when not in use, and by cleaning excess drops from the outside of the applicator with rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover. This is not an “instant glue.” It becomes tacky in 10 – 15 seconds, allows parts to be adjusted, sets in 10 to 15 minutes and fully dries in about an hour. The cement will not bond fingers, and has a slight odor that dissipates quickly. Great for beading, model making, miniatures, fine screw locking, sealing knots, precision waterproof sealing, precision repairs, optical and technical applications, crafts and hobbies.

PRECISION POINT APPLICATOR – DRIES CRYSTAL CLEAR

Perfect for all kinds of precise applications:

Jewelry

Watch Repair

Beadwork

Model Building

Model Railroads

Fly Fishing Lures

Creative Crafts

Bead Kits

Dollmaking

Ceramics

Ceramic Repair

General Household Repair

Plastic Repair

Fine Screw Locking

Ophthalmic Applications

Industrial Applications

Long lasting and easy to use:

  • Dries Water Clear and Stays Clear
  • Built-in Applicator
  • Will Not Damage Surfaces
  • No Waste – A Precision Product
  • Sets in 10 Minutes
  • Allows Parts to be Positioned Before Setting

I gave a tube to a friend to test it. Here are his thoughts…….

The concept of the needle nose applicator is this product’s appeal. The glue formula is okay, but the applicator is the selling point. I don’t know of any other needle-nose glue tube. However, as a whole, the product has a couple strikes against it:

1. No way to keep a bit of glue from drying in the cap, after putting it on the “needle”. Thus, don’t be surprised if the needle pulls off from the tube stuck inside the cap. Then try to figure out how to reattach it to the tube, so that you can use all the precious glue yet inside.

2. The glue is “precious” mostly due to its startling price for a mere .3 ounces! Did you get that? There’s a decimal point in front of that 3. I thought the price was high before, but it appears that it rocketed recently, which I think is a big negative move. I had to dig around on Amazon to find a price I was willing to pay, at least this time. I’m rethinking about what I will do, when I run out again. An in-store price was exorbitant!

G-S has produced this product for a long time. They need to do a better job with their applicator construction, and good luck with staying alive with that negative killer pricing! I’m disappointed and looking for something more reasonable for next time.

Posted in General | Comments Off on Using Glue To Cement Watch Crystals

Review: Accutron Astronaut Limited Edition

My parents made me watch the 1969 landing on the moon live on television, when I was 3 and a half years old. It’s the earliest memory I can recall and I have been fascinated with space. Inside my mature years, my love of watches naturally generated an appreciation of timepieces and space watches. My most recent addition to my group is a watch I needed when it came out five years ago but have only just recently bought-the Accutron Astronaut Limited Edition.

images

Historic
Issued by Bulova in 2007, the Astronaut LE pays court to the first Accutron Astronaut that was a product of Bulova for most of the 1960’s. The initial Astro, like all Accutrons of this time, included the radical electronic tuning fork drive movement which was the dad of the modern quartz watch (the Electric of Hamilton was the grandfather). The first Astro was a bit Accutron watches that are beefier in relation to the dress and bigger and it featured an additional 24 hour GMT hand as well as an GMT scale greatly engraved in the rotational bezel. This watch immediately caught on with test pilots, many of whom became the very first astronauts and their selection of this particular model earned it Astronaut in the Accutron lexicon’s long-term name.
By the mid 1970’s, the Accutron (with the tuning fork movement) was consigned to history, replaced by the a lot more accurate and cheaper quartz watch. Ever since then, original Accutron watches have become collector’s items and the ones who’d original ones lovingly preserved them. Untold thousands are still humming now and keeping very exact time, a testament to their build simplicity and quality to repair (long as parts are accessible). Possibly the most collectible Accutron is a first Astronaut, that was accessible in steel and in yellow gold.
The Astro LE is a modern interpretation of the well-known watch that is truly faithful to the first. Crafted with fittings and exact dial markings quite much like the original, it is a standout watch in a sea of lookalikes. Below is my review of each part of this original watch.
Movement:
A classic ETA 2893-2 GMT bore action, automatic decorated by Accutron and altered (Bulova). This movement running well and is keeping time that is quite accurate. Of special note is the rotor-obviously, the rotor don’t decorate much more than most watches that use ETA movements itself but Accutron outdid itself with this one. Three Accutron emblems are used by the rotor as a bridge between the central turning the outer swinging weight and also portion. You can observe the move through the symbols, all of which really are a tuning fork symbol, the Accutron (‘s sign and now it looks, Bulova’ s principal line of watches as well). Because of the brilliant running rate of the extra attention and also this movement that went into the rotor, I’m rating this higher.

Case:
The case is finely finished with polished sides and distinctive lugs that were indigenous to a handful of the Spaceview models and the initial Astronaut. The lugs embrace the case and are conical, tapering towards the 2 and 4, 8, 10 places and outwards. The rear of the watch includes a half moon sapphire aperture for seeing the movement about the lower half and a matte finished upper half with various hallmarks engraved. A polished surface bisects the top and lower halves and joins to some polished circle that spans the circumference of the rear. Engraved on the circumference would be the words “Bulova, Swiss Made, Stainless Steel, 100M Water Resistant, Sapphire Crystal, A7” and also the serial number of the watch. The center bisecting bar further reads “Limited Edition 0161/1000” which signifies amount 161 of a small production run of 1000 watches. Lastly, the upper half of the back features the Accutron tuning fork in bas relief along with the engraved trademark of Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to step foot on the moon and the first man to wear a watch on the moon surface (an Omega true, but Aldrin has testified to the use of Accutron timers as well as their dependability in other characteristics of the moon mission and he’s now a representative for Bulova). The finish on this particular watch is perfect and also quality is simply said by the entire watch.

Crystal:
The crystal is sapphire also it grows of a millimeter over the bezel and domes gently, giving it a similar look to the old Submariner crystals in the 70’s. There is no AR coat with this crystal which is fine with me as the crystal’s crook plays well together with the light and seems really retro vintage. Clarity is sharp as well as the dial slightly magnifies. I cannot think of a means to help it become better or fault it.

bulovaaccutronnewb

Bezel:
This watch’s bezel is a puzzle because it does not turn-it’s fixed in the location that is standing. It’s in what is apparently an aluminum bezel ring revealing the 24 hours of the day an GMT bezel. The top half is black with silver numbers, suggesting night (1800 hours to 0600 hours) and the lower half is silver with black numbers indicating (0600 hours) . The font used looks like 1960’s typeface, very modernist in its appearance and is straightforward. Tooth teeth were seen by the outer bezel features fine which would normally be used to grasp and turn the bezel but as I said previously, it doesn’t turn. That aside, the bezel SEEMS great and it sets the watch away and it makes it look such as the classic Astro. I can live without the rotation but having that feature might have allowed it to be used for up to three distinct time zones rather than two.

Crown:
The crown isn’t difficult to pull, wind and place and is shone with the Accutron logo laser etched into it. This pays homage to the first Astro which had no crown on the exterior – so the watch had perfect symmetry they were set using a special crown located in the back. The new Astro LE’s relevance is downplayed considerably although it has the crown that is regular.

Dial and Hands:
The glossy black Astronaut dial is very near the original in appear although a bit more luxury was added to the dial in the form of chrome encompassing each luminous hour mark. Also, a dot of luminous stuff represents each hour of the 24 hour scale. The minute and hour hand are Dauphine design with lume along with the minute hand is a straight pointer having an Accutron tuning fork logo at the counterpoint. The GMT hand is chrome with red paint to highlight itself and gives a splash of colour to the watch that is otherwise monochrome. The dial features the turning fork logo beneath the 12 place with all the word Accutron underneath it. Over the 6 position is the word “Astronaut” in exactly the same area as well as the same 1960’s font as the original. At the 9 location would be the words “Automatic, 21 Jewels” as well as the calendar aperture is at the 3 spot. Overall, the dial is practical readable and aesthetically beautiful to check out.

Bracelet:
Made for Bulova by J.B. Champion, the “bullet” was a perfect compliment for the conical lugs of the Astro. Nearly identical with this model that is new, it is a little broader and flatter but still features polished sides just like the original had, that bevel. The surface is brushed finish with two little bands of polished to give it a more striking look. It is practically a clone but has the exceptional beveled sides to make it stand out more. Spring bars attach to the case lugs the bracelet and the connectors fit flush, and well made, it feels affluent along your wrist. It has a double butterfly deployant clasp with two buttons. This bracelet is a perfect company to the watch.

Truth:
Increase of about five seconds every day.
Comfort:
Really comfy to wear but might be weighty on someone having a tiny wrist. Size wise, it really is Submariner or no larger than the usual Rolex GMT but it feels as considerable. The bracelet drapes round the wrist with a preciseness feel along with the clasp sits.
Packaging:
The Accutron comes in an attractive wooden inner box using the Accutron symbol and a small NASA lapel pin. The cardboard box that is other clearly says that that is a Limited Edition Astronaut. All are made with quality.

Overview
When I first saw this watch, I couldn’t fathom paying $1695.00 for a Bulova watch in this day and age when there were Swiss companies out there making great products that had more brand panache for the same cash. By waiting a few years, I got it for a good little less money but after having the watch, I understood I was not being fair in my assessment of its value. This watch is alluring, is not a mass-market merchandise with just a limited production run of 1000, makes usage of the finest quality materials and superbly crafted. With appropriate care and service, this watch would last me for a life and isn’t a disposable timepiece. Those features were also ascribed to another watch brand 50 years ago….the original Accutron. When it came out, it was considered one of the finest watches money could purchase. A Accutron tuning fork symbol was something the watch’s owner may be really proud of. In once, a Timex watch could be had for $10.00, with a mechanical movement. People bought Accutrons together with the idea that this would probably be their last watch and that it would survive for decades….and they did! Watches given or were purchased with pride and worn with pride for some time.
I am not sad that Bulova released it to stretch out the time it might be had and am very happy using this watch -this enabled me to continue to be able to get one two years after it came out. I would strongly advise that in case you want one, you’d better be hunting one down now as you will find fewer and fewer accessible. I plan to take very good care of mine because it is going to be challenging to replace it when it is lost or damaged.
On your own note, being an avid enthusiast that is mechanical, I really like that this watch has a mechanical movement. To me, a quartz watch has no “soul”, no life in it…but it sure would have been cool if Bulova had dropped a tuning fork movement in this watch. Having two of the original Accutrons, I enjoy hearing them sing their note and observing the way the second hand glides as smoothly as a “satellite in orbit” without the smallest hint of a jerking movement. This is a thing that even the best mechanical watch cannot duplicate unless you would like to spend for a Seiko Spring Drive plus it costs a fortune. I think if they ever began assembling tuning fork watches again, there will be a market for those who worth the correctness it supplies (still a lot better than the greatest mechanical watch) and fact that it has moving gears and levers like a mechanical.

Posted in General | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Review: Accutron Astronaut Limited Edition