Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Day has 24 Hours

Presenting the Manufacture Zodiac from Frederique Constant

Courtesy of Frederique Constant
As they have provided a wonderful press release, I will allow them to take over from here -


Why does a day have 24 hours, an hour 60 minutes and a minute 60 seconds? In fact, as the relative position of the earth and the sun is different, the length of each year is not the same and the length of every single day in a year is also different. The 24 hours is totally divided by humans "arbitrarily", irrelevant to any planet movement related with the earth. Currently, the global universal Greenwich Mean Time calendar system is actually not the real "earth time". It is just a set of "hypothetical" schemes established for facilitating and standardizing various social activities of modern humans.

In the civilization of humanity, time is conceived as the well-aligned sequential accurate measurement to some states, so it is no wonder that the earliest measurements of time were all based on regular periodic star movement in all known civilizations. Now, we are all the offspring of the watch civilization. As for how to measure time, ancient Chinese people had a Chinese era calendar system. In the Chinese calendar, a day is evenly divided into 12 periods and they are represented by the twelve Chinese zodiac signs (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig), called the twelve terrestrial branches. Each period is equivalent to the present two hours; each period is evenly divided into eight quarters (original quarter, original first quarter, original second quarter, original third quarter, positive quarter, positive first quarter, positive second quarter and positive third quarter). Each quarter is 15 minutes, equivalent to the present quarter hour.

Ancient Chinese people were long aware that people's lifespans were closely related with whether they could reasonably arrange their daily work and rest. As it is said in the Plain Questions Ancient Health Theory, "Balanced diet, regular living and temperate work can help keep your shape and spirit and live a hundred years". Different animals represent each period, which is also a kind of an implication reminding people of regular work and rest and conforming to the weather. For example, the period of the day from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m, represented by the rabbit, is just the time for the Jade Rabbit to smash herbal medicine, implying people should get up to work. The period of the day from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m, represented by the goat, is the time for the goat to build up its strength; implying ancient people had lunch at about this period. The period of the day from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., represented by the pig, is the time for the pig to sleep soundly, and all is quiet, so it is the time to go to bed. The 12 two-hours are ancient people's understanding of time, and its significance in the daily life is very concrete and appropriate. Only by establishing reasonable work and rest regime conforming to the earth time and following the law in resting, working, dieting and sleeping perseveringly, people can improve their health and live a long life. Ancient Chinese people's understanding of time and the health wisdom that "man is an integral part of nature" reflected in its application in life is consistent with the study of modern science on healthy lifestyle.

In Chinese ancient timing system with the 12 two-hours as the system, except traditional Chinese timing methods like the sundial and water clock, the astronomical clock tower developed by Su Song in Song Dynasty may be called the top notch of Chinese ancient mechanical timing. It integrates the armillary sphere for observing the astronomical phenomena, the celestial globe for demonstrating astronomical phenomena, the water clock for measuring time and the mechanical device for reporting moment. It is recorded it is about two floors high, of which, the mechanical device is exquisite and complex and each period and quarter is recorded by a time beadle holding the corresponding time and quarter boards. This device surpassed the world's mechanical application level in other countries at that time. 

To salute the long-standing Chinese traditional calendar system, independent Swiss watch brand Frederique Constant launched Manufacture Zodiac 24H limited edition with the coming of the year of goat in 2015. Different from common watches, this is a 24-hour watch, and the hour hand takes a turn and runs 24 hours (the common watch runs 12 hours a circle) and the minute hand turns a circle and runs 120 minutes (the common watch runs 60 minutes a circle). On the whole dial plate, the scales of the twelve terrestrial branches replace the Arabic from 1 to 12 or Roman numerals; the outer ring is evenly divided into eight scales including the original quarter, original first quarter, original second quarter, original third quarter, positive quarter, positive first quarter, positive second quarter and positive third quarter. The position of the six o'clock is marked the "year of goat", and all Chinese characters are showed in small seal script, adding a simple temperament. 

To facilitate modern people's use, the 24-hour scales are marked with Arabic numerals at the innermost circle, clear at a glance. The Manufacture Zodiac 24H limited watch carrying Frederique Constant in-house movement FC-724, which is the 16th manufacture movement developed by Frederique Constant. The 24-hour full-automatic movement is decorated with the Perlage & Circular Côtes de Genève and is inset with 26 gems. It has 42-hour power reserve. As an integrated work developed by the young watch-making brand Frederique Constant from Geneva, it inherits Swiss watch-making culture of long standing and salutes ancient wise Chinese 12 two-hour timing system. 

Stainless steel and Polished rose gold plated steel are available for the watch, and each type has 888 limited editions launched globally, worthy of taste and collection.

Year of the Goat
The Chinese Zodiac is based on a twelve-year cycle, each year in that cycle is related to an animal sign. These animal signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. 2015 is the year of the goat, marked at 6 O'clock on the dial.
-  Twelve Chinese zodiac signs (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig)
-  Twelve terrestrial branches (original quarter, original first quarter, original second quarter, original third quarter, positive quarter, positive first quarter, positive second quarter and positive third quarter)

12 Zodiac Signs and Time

The Frederique Constant Zodiac Limited Edition has the twelve zodiac signs as the main index markers on its dial. One Chinese hour is two western hours. Each two hours has an animal zodiac sign:
Rat: 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. is the time rats actively seek food.

Ox: 1 to 3 a.m. is the time that oxen ruminate. 

Tiger: 3 to 5 a.m. is when tigers hunt prey.
Rabbit: 5 to 7 a.m. is when a jade rabbit pounds herbs.
Dragon: 7 to 9 a.m. is when dragons hover in the sky and give people rainfall. 

Snake: 9 to 11 a.m. is when snakes start to leave their burrows. 

Horse: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. is when a horse is vigorous.
Goat: 1 to 3 when sheep eat grass and become stronger. 

Monkey: 3 to 5 p.m. is when monkeys become lively.
Rooster: 5 to 7 p.m. is when roosters return to their roost as it is dark.
Dog: 7 to 9 p.m. is when dogs begin to carry out their duty to guard entrances. 

Pig: 9 to 11 p.m. is when all is quiet and pigs are sleeping soundly. 

24 Hours
The small numbers 1-24 on the inner dial function as the GMT indicator to show what exact time the hour is.

Outer Track
There are small Chinese texts on the outside minute track. Each position is a traditional Chinese unit of decimal time reflecting a quarter (15mins) of western time. As the Chinese hour is equal to 2 hours, the outside minute track has 8 positions.

Interview with Dr. Peter Stas about Frederique Constant Manufacture Zodiac 24H Limited Edition

Q1: Why you come up with this watch?
I saw an Antique pocket watch(which is from 1930s) in Genève and the pocket watch is not branded. Pocket watch has its own style in Chinese time indication. Because of its classical style, it has attracted me and it fits with Frederique as both are classical as well. Our partners have asked before for whether there will be a Chinese edition with a dragon or horses on. I rejected because it doesn't fit our brand identity. It is not classical. However, with the idea of pocket watch, I think we can make a classical and interesting special edition with Chinese time indication. 

Q2: Does this edition sell exclusively for Asian market?
No, this edition will be selling in Europe, Genève, US and all over the world. Like in Los Angeles, there are already 5 million Chinese taking up residence. This edition is selling worldwide definitely especially for collector or customer who like Chinese culture. 

Q3: This edition is combined with Chinese time indicator. What is the reason to develop a 24-hours indication?
We follow the design of pocket watch. Time goes in 120 minutes in one-time and minute hand runs half the speed. Now mechanical solution becomes easier but it is a brand new in-house movement. 

Q4: How long does it take on movement development from idea generation to completion?
Only the change in movement takes us about 2years. 

Q5: Do you meet any difficulties in developing a new movement?
We developed this edition from the inspiration of pocket watch. However, only with the picture, we cannot know how it goes. It takes time for us to understand more about pocket watch. Moreover, we don't have any ideas about Chinese time indication. However, it doesn't mean there are any difficulties. As a passionate watch maker, we refine them as development process instead.
Courtesy of Frederique Constant

The Metro 38 Datum

From NOMOS Glashütte
Courtesy of NOMOS Glashütte 
Regular readers will recall my slightly illicit love affair with the NOMOS Metro that was released last year.  That particular model  had a power reserve function and the color theme was green at the 12, 3 and 9 o'clock points of the dial.  It was also, according to the NOMOS website, 1.5 mm less in diameter at 37 mm.
Courtesy of NOMOS Glashütte 
This new version (as seen in the first photo), this new version of the Metro has only a date function.  Although it is named Metro 38 Datum, the specs per the press release indicate 38.5 (just in case you're counting at home).

The color theme is really fun and it's nice to see the folks at NOMOS riffing on the happier early models that made up the limited edition versions that were made in the Tangente and Orion collections for Wempe and others.  The "Picnic" in particular comes to mind.

The Metro 38 Datum also features the "Swing System" the NOMOS in house escapement that was announced to much fanfare last year.
Courtesy of NOMOS Glashütte 
So with luck I will get to see this "up close and personal" in a month or so and promise as an exhaustive a report as I can manage.

For now, here are the details -

Metro 38 Datum

The watch

stainless steel, bipartite; diameter 38.5 mm; curved sapphire crystal glass; 
sapphire crystal glass back, height 7.75 mm

galvanized, white silver-plated; indexes blue

steel, oxidized black, seconds hand red lacquered

to 3 atm

Horween Genuine Shell Cordovan black

Reference number - 1102

The movement

DUW 4101—NOMOS caliber with manual winding and date indicator; 
NOMOS swing system with tempered blue balance spring 

32.1 mm

Movement height: 
2.8 mm 

Power reserve: approx. 
42 hours 

stop seconds mechanism, Glashütte three-quarter plate, 23 jewels, 
Glashütte stopwork, Incabloc shock protection, adjusted in six positions, 
tempered blue screws, rhodium-plated movement surfaces
with Glashütte  ribbing and NOMOS perlage, ratchet and crown wheel
with Glashütte sunburst decoration 

Friday, January 30, 2015

When Hours Jump

Introducing the new Jumping Hours from Speake-Marin.
Courtesy of Speake-Marin
Because they were nice enough to send such a comprehensive press release, here it is!  Straight, no chaser:

Past, present and future: Symbolic concepts of time continually passing. Time is valuable but also fleeting, and although we can define it, we cannot control it. Jumping Hours, part of Speake-Marin’s Cabinet des Mystères collection, highlights the transient nature of this most intangible commodity. Four separate jump hour indications, each controlled by its own gilded star wheel, are a constant reminder of the ceaseless passing of time.

As we age, the hours, minutes and seconds that make up the days appear to grow shorter and shorter, and time seems to speed up. As a child, time is endless but as an adult, it slips quickly through the cracks.

Peter Speake-Marin found inspiration in the past to show this relentless march of time. Based on the jump hour star system invented over 150 years ago, the British watchmaker deconstructed this vintage complication four times to display the inescapable passing of time, where hours literally “jump,” advancing from one to the next in the apparent blink of an eye.

The Speake-Marin Jumping Hours contains four small, Foundation-style, bluedsteel hour hands. Each of these exquisitely crafted hands is placed in a separate quadrant of a beautifully finished silver dial at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock respectively. The individual hands are set atop their own brilliant, gilded star wheel, which “jumpsevery 15 minutes when a tiny pin – located at each wheel’s centre – sequentially pushes one star wheel after the other as the blued-steel central minute and second hands perpetually march forward.

In a neat touch, synchronised with this changing of the hours is the appearance of a tiny red dot on the centre plate at each quarter hour mark. Every 15 minutes, a small circular hole near the base of the minute hand lines up with the red dot, indicating that the hour has “jumped
"On the Speake-Marin Jumping Hours, you have this continual animation as the minute hand goes around so that there is always something moving," says Peter Speake-Marin. “The idea is to show the speed at which time passes.” 

The Jumping Hours "dial" is actually the top of the movement mainplate. The movement, crafted from traditional German silver, features circular-grained bridges and plates with hand polished bevels. The distinct curvature of the bridges gives the illusion that the dial is moving in step with the hour hands as time strides forward.

So as not to distract from the action of each passing hour, there are no numerals on the dial. Instead, subtly drilled minute markers are neatly arranged around the perimeter of the mainplate. The silver dial contrasts beautifully with the 18k red gold bezel. A matching red gold fluted crown and caseback adds an extra touch of classic Speake-Marin style. Serif style text in capital letters is hand-engraved inside the minute markers an elegant touch and reminiscent of another era.

Visible through the display back is Jumping Hours’ Eros automatic-winding movement with long five-day power reserve and Speake-Marin’s signature ‘topping tool’ mystery winding rotor. Hand engraved around the caseback are “Unique Piece” and “Mechanical Art No. 2”.

Jumping Hours’ evolution of time is all housed in the iconic, 42mm red gold and stainless steel Piccadilly case. The entire piece was constructed, machined, hand- finished, assembled and regulated by a single watchmaker.

The Speake-Marin Jumping Hours is a unique piece. 

Features and Indications:
Central minutes and seconds
4 sequential jump hour mechanisms
Automatic-winding movement with 5-day power reserve

Dial and Hands:
Speake-Marin signature Foundation-style hands in heat blued steel, indicating hours, minutes and seconds

Automatic-winding Eros movement Dimensions: 30.40mm x 4.35mm Power reserve: 120 hoursJewels: 35
Twin barrels
Frequency: 28,800vph / 4Hz
Marin signature ‘topping tool’ mystery winding rotor Hand-finished bridges and rotor

Case and strap:
Iconic Piccadilly case in red gold and stainless steel
Three-piece case construction

Two-position crown: 
Manual winding and stop-second time setting Dimensions: 42mm x 13 mmFront and displayback: sapphire crystals treated with anti-reflective coating 
Case-back circumference engraving: “Speake-Marin – The Piccadilly” 
Water resistance: 3atm/30m/100ft
Hand-made, natural alligator leather strap
Pin buckle in stainless steel 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Official Watch of "Smilin' Joe Stalin"!

Okay pals and gals,

Just because Timezone and their politburo won't cover something, doesn't mean you shouldn't know about it tovarich!

This morning I opened my email and lo and behold, POBEDA is back, BABY!

Courtesy of Pobeda
Now for those of you not in the know (and admittedly I am one of you) the name Pobeda was coined by that great humanitarian and (again unbeknownst to me) lover of horology - "Smilin' Joe Stalin"!

According to Wikipedia - apparently between fighting Nazis, "guiding" and "re-educating" those citizens who weren't following the kind and gentle policies he was so famous for (who can forget what a great time the "Great Purge"was?)  uncle Joe was rolling up his sleeves and making sure the citizenry knew what time it was.

Leave it to those nutty folks over at Raketa!  They have revived Pobeda and despite their earlier terse statement that they would no longer be selling their treasured timepieces to the treacherous west (yes that means you, Yankee dog) they have miraculously reversed that decision and are now offering their watches to us (i.e. non-Russians) through their online store.

So, lap dogs of democracy and decadence - REJOICE!

We will keep you posted -

Your fellow "running dogs" -

Tempus Fugit

New Startimer Chronograph

From Alpina!
Courtesy of Alpina
Two new versions of the Startimer Pilot are now on offer.

Today let's check out the Chronograph, which is available on either a strap -
Courtesy of Alpina
Or on a bracelet -

Courtesy of Alpina

Here are the specs -

Reference                                                   AL-372BS4S6 / AL-372BS4S6B

Movement                                                 Swiss High Precision Quartz, 13 jewels, 48H months Battery life,

Functions                                                  Hours, minutes, seconds, big date, 1/10th of seconds chronograph

Case                                                           Stainless steel, 44 mm diameterScratch – Resistant Sapphire Crystal
         10 ATM / 100M / 330 FT Water-resistant
         Engraved case-back

Dial                                                            Black dial with silver counters
                                                                   Date window at 6’ o clock
                                                                   White luminous Superluminova coated hour and minute hands

Strap                                                                 Military Green Genuine Leather strap or metal bracelet