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THE WATCHISMO TIMES WATCH BLOG A reliquary of obscure timepieces from bygone eras as well as the cutting-edge watch designs of today.

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At the Museums -1660 Renaissance Crystal Neck Watch & 1930s Art Deco Digital Lamp

At the Museums -1660 Renaissance Crystal Neck Watch & 1930s Art Deco Digital Lamp
The Beyer Watch & Clock Museum in Zurich is putting together a nice looking website. In its early stages, you can see some of their collection like the 1660 Jacques Sermand rock crystal neck watch above and the 1930s digital art deco lamp below.

"The rock-crystal case is made of one piece with four arches and features, on the outside, an engraved and fire-gilt bronze setting with a hinge for the lid and movement. The lid above the dial is also cut out of rock-crystal and serves as protective cover. The engraved dial, three rings in silver for the ho urs I to XII, the date I to 3 land the weekdays. The moonphase is visible in the small window on the left with another square window above, indicating the age of the moon. Three blued iron hands."

At the Museums -1660 Renaissance Crystal Neck Watch & 1930s Art Deco Digital LampAt the Museums -1660 Renaissance Crystal Neck Watch & 1930s Art Deco Digital LampClose-up of the digital display in base

At the Museums -1660 Renaissance Crystal Neck Watch & 1930s Art Deco Digital Lamp1940s Hidden dial pop-up wristwatch

Beyer Museum-->Link
1940s pop-up wristwatch-->Link
1930s Jaeger LeCoultre Bedside Digital Clock Lamp-->Link
1660 Neck Watch at the Beyer Museum-->Link


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From Russia With Lust - History of Communist and Cosmonaut Wristwatches

From Russia With Lust - History of Communist and Cosmonaut WristwatchesClick photo for close-up

Every now and then, I find someone who rivals my perversions for collecting timepieces. This is doubly true about a man named Ill-Phil, a self-diagnosed terminal watch pervert. His is a rare disorder of Russianitis, a condition that propels him to collect and document in great detail, everything you need to know about Russian watches.

Kidding aside, Phil's Russian Times is overwhelmingly thorough with photos of every imaginable Russian watch as well as the technical information about every factory, brand, movement, marking, and cyrillic translation.

And one of my favorite parts of the site, the lovingly assembled and obsessively researched portraits of cosmonauts and their watches.

From Russia With Lust - History of Communist and Cosmonaut WristwatchesFrom Russia With Lust - History of Communist and Cosmonaut WristwatchesFrom Russia With Lust - History of Communist and Cosmonaut WristwatchesFrom Russia With Lust - History of Communist and Cosmonaut Wristwatches
Ill Phil's Russian Times-->LINK



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The Radium Girls - Dying to paint watch dials

"The story of the radium watch-dial painters is a classic case in the history of occupational disease. Attracted by easy work and high wages, these young women painted the luminous numbers on wristwatches that, designed for soldiers involved in the trench warfare of World War I, became a consumer fad in the 1920s. The women were taught to sharpen the tips of their paintbrushes between their lips and, as a result, they absorbed substantial quantities of radium. Their tragic illnesses and deaths led to crucial discoveries in radiobiology and contributed to the establishment of standards for the level of exposure to radiation in the workplace." -From The New England Journal of Medicine

I first learned about the Radium Girls when reading this AlanWatch article. He had conducted his own interesting X-Ray and Geiger Counter tests of antique watches with lingering radioactivity. And further explained "In the late 1920s, some dentists began to notice a high incidence of jawbone deterioration among young women, most of whom had worked at the dial company. Later, cancers of the head and neck, anemias, and other disorders were found, resulting in some early deaths." (
and it has been said that 90% of these women died by 1931)

Alan's false-color optical density analysis shows that the crystal spotting is most intense at 10 and 4 o'clock, where the red color is indicated.

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Radium Girls Wikipedia page-->Link
Damn Interesting article-->Link

And below, the book, "Radium Girls: Women and Industrial Health Reform, 1910-1935" by Claudia Clark;





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New Photos of the Breguet Tradition 7047 Fusee Tourbillon

I've been waiting to see more invasive photographs of the fusee and chain mechanism of the Breguet Tradition 7047 Tourbillon and am happy to direct you to Watching Horology where that feat has been captured in great detail-->Link

"The second of this year's remarkable tourbillons from Breguet is the La Tradition Tourbillon, which extends the tourbillon as an art form both forwards into the future and which also reaches backwards in time, incorporating one of the rarest horological complications of them all- the fusee and chain."

"Fusees in clocks and pocket watches were not great rarities but in the wristwatch they are virtually unheard of, and a combination of the fusee and tourbillon is almost unknown. Lange & Sohne has presented fusee and chain wristwatches with the tourbillon, and more recently there is the Vianney Halter Cabestan, but the Breguet La Tradition Tourbillon is a totally unique experience aesthetically."

From the very informative article by Jack Forster of Horomundi-->Link


Related Posts;
Production Cabestan-->Link
Prototype Cabestan-->Link
All Tourbillon-->Link
All Breguet Related-->Link

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Off With Your Hands! The First Digital Clocks

Off With Your Hands!  The First Digital ClocksA collection of rare historical timepieces is now on show at the premises of A. Lange & Söhne. Entitled “From Dresden to Glashütte – the roots of precision watchmaking in Saxony”, the exhibition features selected clocks and pocket watches from the “Mathematisch-Physikalischen Salon” collection.

These ingenious timepieces by prominent names like Seyffert, Schumann and Gutkaes, chronicle the history and evolution of the watchmaking industry in Glashütte. The highlight of the exhibition is undoubtedly a model of the “Five-Minute Clock” above by Hofuhrmacher Ludwig Teubner, one of the earliest versions of a digital display. The hours are Roman numerals and the minutes are five minute increment digits.


via Goldarths Review

Off With Your Hands!  The First Digital Clocks
According to A. Lange & Söhne, this was the original digital clock. Built for Dresden's Semper Opera in 1841 by Friedrich Gutkaes and Adolph Lange, and is conveniently legible from all seats in the house.

Off With Your Hands!  The First Digital Clocks
A. Lange & Söhne History-->Link


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Plenty of cracks and scratches...but only one Dent

Plenty of cracks and scratches...but only one DentFor the first of The Watchismo Times’ British epistles (by new TWT contributor Alex Doak), here’s a suitably charming tale of British eccentricity, demonstrating a stalwart sense of heritage combined with that slightly anorakish tenacity of ours…

The surreal photo above (via worldarchitecturenews) actually depicts a 92-year-old gentlman by the name of Roland Hoggard. Bolted to the side of his barn, on a smallholding in Nottinghamshire, is the original clockface from London’s St Pancras railway station.

Plenty of cracks and scratches...but only one DentThe neo-gothic clock tower at St Pancras,
driven by a Dent mechanism

The story goes that back in the Seventies, the faux-Gothic Victorian architectural masterpiece was falling into disrepair. British Rail, in all their wisdom, therefore decided to tart the place up, which – in the Seventies at least – meant replacing everything with concrete. So the priceless fixtures and fittings were sold off. An American collector quickly earmarked the historic 10-foot-wide platform clock for an astronomic £250,000.

When the day came to take the clock down, British Rail, in classic British Rail style, managed to drop it. Backed by steel and weighing about 2.5 tons, the clock landed none too gracefully.

Thankfully, Mr Hoggard – then a train guard on the London–Nottingham route, and something of an amateur horologist – was at the London end when it happened, and saved the pile of shattered slate and cast iron from the skip with a mere £25 and a wheelbarrow.

Over the next 18 months, he painstakingly restored the clock between his railway shifts, even creating new numerals using concrete and moulds and making 108 bolts from scratch – a achievement of which his is rightfully proud.

Plenty of cracks and scratches...but only one DentThe new Eurostar platforms in progress,
with computer-rendered depiction of Dent’s new clock

St Pancras station is now getting the facelift it deserves, as the new home for the London-to-Brussels Eurostar route, from this November. And beaming down onto the ultra-modernised platforms, shopping complex and Europe’s longest champagne bar, will be an exact replica of the original clock, built by none other than the recently revived London watch brand, Dent & Co. (dentwatches.com).

It’s unsure who originally built the clock hanging on Mr Hoggard’s barn, but Dent was an obvious candidate for the new one, as Edward J Dent himself built the mechanism for the St Pancras’ external four-faced clocktower (which bears more than a striking resemblance to Dent’s other magnum opus, Big Ben, or the Houses of Parliament’s Great Clock to be more precise (Big Ben being the bell inside).

Which isn’t to say Hoggard’s 18-month toil went unnoticed. Frank Spurrell of Dent takes up the story: “Mr Hoggard kindly donated an actual chunk of the original face, which we sent to Loughborough University for petrochemical testing, to ascertain the slate’s provenance. We could then pinpoint the exact source in Wales required for the 12 new hour markers.”

Here’s hoping they doesn’t suffer the same fate going back up as the old stuff did coming down...


*Alex Doak - Freelance watch geek, and recent graduate of London's vaunted QP magazine, where he enjoyed a 4-year schooling under the aegis of horolo-guru James Gurney.

Related stories;
Dent article in QP Magazine-->Link
Big Ben on your Wrist-->Link




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Vintage Watching - The Bulova Accutron

Vintage Watching - The Bulova Accutron1962 Advertisement

A few vintage Bulova Accutron Tuning Fork watches (60's & 70's) I've come across this week;


Vintage Watching - The Bulova AccutronWith original box!


Vintage Watching - The Bulova AccutronBacksetting time - No crown


More about the revolutionary humming Bulova Accutrons;
Accutron History
Accutron 214 (Timezone)
Tuning Fork Enthusiasts


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Ticking Time Bombers - 1943 Hamilton Bombtimer

The 1943 Hamilton Bombtimer, not actually a wrist or pocket watch, but mounted on a turret within a World War II bombadier's compartment so he could time the duration between bomb drop and detonation.

Two Bombtimers modified for the wrist

Additional Bomb Timer info from Rene Rondeau, Vintage Hamilton Watch Expert;

"A curious and largely unexplored topic..... There's nothing about them in Whitney's comprehensive "Military Timepieces", and they're not even listed in Hamilton's own WWII production summaries. There's one wartime ad that shows it (seen below).

These were made with the dial in either horizontal orientation as seen in the picture on top, or more "watch-like" vertical arrangement just below it (provided by the 2007 "Complete Price Guide to Watches". Usually the second hand is double-ended, one end with an arrow tip and the other with a simple point. I don't really know why. I suspect the second hand in the attached picture is a replacement since it's not even long enough to reach the seconds track.

They always have a pusher on the back edge as a hacking mechanism. It stops the balance and allows it to be set to the second. The movement is a standard 980.
The attached ad shows it being used as a training aid, in conjunction with a movie camera to film "hits". According to Hamilton employees and a couple of veterans I've talked to, these were primarily used to record bombing runs. Just as shown in the ad when used with a machine gun, the watch would be mounted into a bomb sight with a camera filming the release and detonation of a bomb, and the timer filmed as part of the image to record the exact moment of each step.

Needless to say these were never originally intended to be worn as watches, but lots of collectors mount straps by punching a hole in a conventional strap and bolting it to the case end."


WWII Advertisement featuring Bombtimer
(bottom right under crosshaired airplane)


Found a vertical version on Amazon



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The Wristwatch - Born on a Woman's Wrist

The Wristwatch - Born on a Woman's WristIt's true, women were the first to adorn their wrists with time. Since the mid-19th century, with sporatic examples dating even further back (here), most ladies wristwatches were incorporated into bracelets, heavily jeweled, stylishly decorative, and quite often concealing their functions. Women were at least five decades if not more than a century ahead of the first mens Cartier Santos, a watch made for a pilot in the early 1900s. Ahead of the first military watches that placed strapped pocket watches onto a soldiers wrist.

This history has been beautifully documented in the extensive interactive exhibit, "Fine Watchmaking - A Tribute to Women", an exhibition from the 2007 SIHH. Examples from the show below and the complete online catalogue here-->LINK

The Wristwatch - Born on a Woman's Wrist1868 - First Patek Philippe wristwatch
Made for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary
The Wristwatch - Born on a Woman's WristOne of the oldest known bracelet-watches.
Movement signed Capt & Freundler à Genève, 1813.
Musée d’Horlogerie du Locle, Switzerland

The Wristwatch - Born on a Woman's Wrist1930s Cadenas Watch witch serpentine chain
Van Cleef & Arpels

The Wristwatch - Born on a Woman's WristAdvertisement for the Marquise watch by Baume & Mercier.
Marquise watch. Early 1950s. Baume & Mercier collection

The Wristwatch - Born on a Woman's WristUnusual watch attached to a ribbon

And from the article, "Women and watches - A long standing love affair"

"The wristwatch conquers new fans

With the sleeveless dresses of the Directoire and Empire styles, the bracelet became a blank canvas on which jewelers could express their creativity. Some were inspired to incorporate a timepiece, proving that women, not men, were the first to wear their watch on their wrist. However, not everyone welcomed this innovation. Certain of its detractors even claimed that such small and doubtless fragile mechanisms would inevitably be damaged by the movements of the wrist.

This by no means discouraged Omega, which proposed wristwatches for men and women as of 1905. The watch was seen from a new angle, as a fashion accessory. Women were encouraged to own several and adapt them to their outfit and activities. When, in 1914, the women’s magazine Femina ran a poll of its readers, 3,437 of the 4,350 respondents said they preferred the wristwatch. After the First World War, both men and women adopted the wristwatch for its modern, sporting or avant-garde image. All eyes focused on Rolex when in 1927 Mercedes Gleitze swam the Channel with a waterproof Oyster strapped to her wrist. After the Second World War, society discovered mass consumption and an emphasis on well-being as never before. Life was once again a social whirl and luxury reinstated. Piaget was one of the first to create watches in a jewelery spirit, followed by Jaeger-LeCoultre and Chopard."

For the rest of this article-->Link

Via Journal de la Haute Horlogerie
& Origins of the Wristwatch before 1900

Related Posts on The Watchismo Times;
All Ladies Wristwatch Features-->Link
Jewelry Features-->Link



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Out of this World! The Richard Mille Planetarium Tellurium

Out of this World! The Richard Mille Planetarium TelluriumI'm proud to be one of the first to unveil the Richard Mille Planetarium Tellurium. A massive achievement in horology with an entirely new mechanical interpretation of a centuries old tradition - Depicting the universe as clockwork. Created by the revolutionary independent watch brand, Richard Mille (with obvious watch case design) and developed by mastermind Stephen Forsey and Robert Greubel of CompliTime and an exclusive look into his original drawings for the Planetary Tellurium below the photos...

Out of this World! The Richard Mille Planetarium Tellurium
Text by Theodore Diehl for Richard Mille (For the complete story, visit Horomundi-->LINK)

"Despite its enormous complexity, the Richard Mille Planetarium- Tellurium is designed to be: - easy to understand - easy and practical in use - precise and reliable This means that for the first time, an object of this type will be able to be operated by someone who is not a specialist.

UNDERSTANDABLE VISUAL REPRESENTATION

First of all, the diameter of the earth has for practical and aesthetic reasons been notably enlarged in the Planetarium-Tellurium (in reality, the earth is 109 times smaller than the sun) allowing a good view of the continents and indeed of countries. All the planets can be seen perfectly, although these, as explained above, are not to scale regarding size and distance. The indications (date, equation of time, zodiac) are represented in an easily readable and consistent way, and on a separate area from the layout depicting the rotation of the planets.

Out of this World! The Richard Mille Planetarium TelluriumIndications, front panel

REPRESENTATIONS AND INDICATIONS

Astronomic representations (R) and indications (I)
  1. - Rotation of the earth on its axis (R)
  2. - Rotation of the earth around the sun (R)
  3. - Obliquity of the earth (R)
  4. - Rotation of the moon on its axis (R)
  5. - Rotation of the moon around the earth (R)
  6. - Phases of the moon (I)
  7. - Equation of time (I)
  8. - Mercury (R)
  9. - Venus (R)
  10. - Sun (R)
  • Rotation of the earth on its axis (R) One rotation on its axis in 24 hours. Error: +1° in 7.7 years
  • Rotation of the earth around the sun (R) One rotation in 1 year. Error: -1° in 2 million years. This rotation is used as the basis for indicating the seasons, the equinoxes, solstices and zodiac signs, represented in their respective windows.
  • Obliquity of the earth (R) Exact rotation, the tilt of the earth’s axis between the two poles: 23.5°. This tilt towards the sun provides a perfect understanding of the phenomenon of the seasons.
  • Rotation of the moon on its axis and rotation of the moon around the earth (R) The calculation of the rotation is based on a synodic month of 29.53058912 days (time interval between two new moons). Error : +1° in 168 years.
  • Phases of the moon (I) The phases of the moon are represented on the moon itself with a surrounding ring that represents the area visible from the earth.
  • Equation of time (I) The equation of time is represented by a hand and a dial divided into sectors on the front part of the planetarium. The hand represents in + or – the minutes that must be added or subtracted from the mean time in order to obtain the true solar time.
  • Solar time. Associated with the equation of time, it represents the true time in relation to the sun. This indication is connected to the planetary mechanism and is on the dial.
  • Mercury (R) Representation of Mercury performing a rotation around the sun in 87.9 days. Mercury does not rotate around its axis.
  • Venus (R) Representation of Venus performing a rotation around the sun in 224.7 days. Venus does not rotate around its axis.
  • Sun (R) Static representation of the sun in the centre of the Planetarium Tellurium.
  • Time indications - Hour - Minute - Time zones - Date (Perpetual calendar) - Day (Perpetual calendar) - Month (Perpetual calendar) - Year, decade (Perpetual calendar) - Leap year - Power reserve - Seasons, equinoxes, solstices, Zodiac signs
MATERIALS USED Titanium, steel, brass, gold, silver, red corundum

Another unique aspect of the Richard Mille Planetarium-Tellurium is the addition of a perpetual calendar to the astronomic representations in combination with a détente chronometer escapement. The addition of a highly accurate going train and winding barrel of the planetarium to this escapement make this the most accurate clockwork Planetarium Tellurium of its kind.

The clock will be unveiled at the September 2007 Tempus - Temple of Time in Singapore.

A one of a kind creation, the price? Well into seven figures.

More information at Horomundi here-->Link
Richard Mille website-->Link

Out of this World! The Richard Mille Planetarium TelluriumView of the interior without the Sun in position.
Titanium bridges/plates


Out of this World! The Richard Mille Planetarium TelluriumPlanetarium Terrurium Drawings
by Stephen Forsey of (Greubel Forsey)

Out of this World! The Richard Mille Planetarium Tellurium
Out of this World! The Richard Mille Planetarium TelluriumThe latest Richard Mille RM011 Chronograph
Photos by Mike Disher of TimeZone

Highlights of other Planetary devices, clocks and watches include the 18th century Planetarium clock below by Jean-Andre Lepaute of France.

Out of this World! The Richard Mille Planetarium TelluriumTable Clock with Planetarium circa 1770
Collection of the Beyer Museum

Out of this World! The Richard Mille Planetarium TelluriumOur solar system has even been reduced to a mechanical wristwatch with this recent Christiaan van der Klaauw "Planetarium." Previously featured here-->Link

Other phenomenal wrist galaxies like the 1985 Ulysse Nardin's Planetarium Copernicus and more recent, the Trilogy Set including the Astrolabe.

Boy, if I didn't feel small in this Universe, I sure do now!


Lastly, learn about the very first mechanical astronomical device nearly 2000 years old, the ancient Greek Antikythera Celestial Calculator-->Link

Related Posts;
Other Astronomical Timepieces-->Link
All Clock Posts-->Link
Complication Timepieces-->Link
Richard Mille-->Link
$2,000,000 Hatching Astronomic Clock by Vacheron Constantin --> Link


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At the Museums -1660 Renaissance Crystal Neck Watch & 1930s Art Deco Digital LampFrom Russia With Lust - History of Communist and Cosmonaut WristwatchesThe Radium Girls - Dying to paint watch dialsNew Photos of the Breguet Tradition 7047 Fusee TourbillonOff With Your Hands!  The First Digital ClocksPlenty of cracks and scratches...but only one DentVintage Watching - The Bulova AccutronTicking Time Bombers - 1943 Hamilton BombtimerThe Wristwatch - Born on a Woman's WristOut of this World! The Richard Mille Planetarium Tellurium

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