Archive for October, 2010

WatchFreaks Blog interviewed by STYLE:MEN Magazine

October 25, 2010

“Dial Q for Quartz” by Terence Lim

Last month, the Singaporian Senior Writer and WatchFreak, Terence Lim interviewed me for STYLE:MEN (November 2010 edition) – Singapore’s leading men’s style magazine for the stylish Singaporean male. You can download the interview by clicking on the link of the title of the article: Dial Q for Quartz.

Quartz is a muchmaligned material in watchmaking. Because of  the affordability of quartz watches, people — watch buffs or otherwise — don’t talk about them in the same breath as their mechanical counterparts. In fact, many watch snobs perceive quartz watches to be inferior but any connoisseur worth his Patek Philippe will remember the pivotal role quartz played in  the history of watchmaking.

In 1969, Seiko released the Astron, the world’s first commercially viable quartz watch. The ensuing years saw Switzerland grapple in vain to best employ the mineral, while  the Japanese conquered the market, producing cheap, reliable quartz watches. Sales of these electronic — industrial term for  quartz — pieces were phenomenal, which inadvertently caused  the Swiss watch industry to crumble in the 1980s. Then, Nicholas Hayek, the late Swatch chairman, was hired by a  consortium of banks to liquidate the flagging industry. Instead  in 1983, he launched fashion watch brand Swatch, which would  later sell millions of quartz pieces to the world. That allowed him to reinvest the profits into haute horlogerie — the shot in the  arm that the high-end segment needed badly. And as Bernard  Kaplan, publisher of watch blog watch-happening.blogspot.com puts it: “Ironically, it took a Swiss quartz watch to save the mechanical watch industry.”.

Forty years on, quartz watches still account for the bulk of Swiss  watch exports. The majority of watches sold— if not of the  value — are quartz. According to the Federation of the Swiss  Watch Industry statistics, sales figures for electronic  watches have steadied between four and five billion Swiss francs throughout the last decade. Which is a feat despite the two crippling economiccrises — the tech bubble bursting in 2000,  and the fall of the American banking system last year. Also, it  indicates the constant demand for quartz timepieces worldwide.  And the demand is not just limited to the massmarket brands. Quartz watches bring home the bacon even for big names like Rolex, Patek Philippe and Cartier. “No question about it!” Kaplan points out. “Patek Philippe, one of the  most prestigious mechanical watch manufactures, probably makes its highest gross margins on the quartzdriven Twenty-4.”

This year, watch cognoscenti see the re-issue of two quartz legends. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original Astron, Seiko released 200 pieces of the new Quartz Astron.  Likewise, Girard-Perregaux launches a limited edition Laureato, equipped with a new in-house movement, the GP13500. It has been developed with utmost attention to detail — something more commonly associated with mechanical movements. With the launch of these high-end quartz pieces, one can’t help but  wonder if a return to those halcyon days is on the horizon.

“It is  great that these brands, which were at the cradle of the quartz revolution, honour the first watches with a re-edition,” says Alon Ben Joseph, contributor to watch blog watchfreaks.wordpress.com. “But [I] do not think we can speak  of the heyday of the 1970s.” That said, Ben Joseph, who also heads Ace Jewelers in The Netherlands, rules out the possibility of quartz being phased out soon. “Of course, a mechanical watch has more detailing, passion, and complexity,” he says. “But a  quartz movement has advantages that a mechanical one does  not have. I believe they can live next to each other like yin and  yang; a true symbiosis. Who says one should own only one watch anyway?”

Copyright: MediaCorp Publishing

Fake vs. Replica

October 4, 2010

As a WatchFreak you might have seen this already, but I had to share it with you. Not only is it funny, but I want to pay respect to our fellow WatchFreak who cares… This summer the Australian Watchmaker Nicholas Hacko had an interesting chat with a website selling watches:

Source: Authentics Foundation

“- Hi, my name is Nicholas Hacko. I am a watch dealer. I’ve just visited your website and wonder if you also wholesale watches?

- Hi. Well I am just a watch dispatch person you need to talk to my boss.

- That’s fine. However, it is important that before we enter into any business transaction, I want to make sure I am not breaking any laws…

- What do you mean?

- Well you guys do sell fake watches, right?

- No, not fakes. We sell replicas.

- Replicas, fakes, same thing…

- No, no. Our replicas are NOT fakes!

- Oh sorry, my misunderstanding. So you actually do sell genuine Rolex watches?

- No, no. You don’t understand the difference with fake and replica…

- Huh?

- … not genuine Rolex, just Rolex replica. But definitely not the FAKE Rolex.

- OK I see. You sell REPLICA Rolex!

- That’s exactly right. Genuine replicas which look identical to real Rolexes.

- Very good. So would you be able to accept payments in replica money?

- What do you mean, I don’t understand???

- You know, the replica money. Money which looks identical to real money but it is just replica. Like the stuff I can print on my printer…

- [laughter…] I don’t know, I am just a dispatch worker. You really need to talk to my boss [more laughter…]

- OK – let’s say that I do come into agreement with your boss and he does accept my replica money for his replica watches – which sounds like a perfectly fair deal to me – would you accept that replica money as your wages?

- [upset voice] Are you serious??? I don’t work for fake money!!

- No, no, no – it is not FAKE money, it is just REPLICA money, mate …

- Sir, I am busy, if you have any more questions please send us an email.”

The full article is available on Hacko’s blog: “Aussie website cashes in on counterfeits“.

Although this is a quite funny conversation, the subject is very serious. For additional information about the fake AND replica problem, please visit:

- Authentics Foundation – “Fakes cost more

- FakesAreNeverInFashion.com – “Innovation in brand protection

- My Authentics – “Is it fake

Please share you opinion about fakes, replicas, counterfeits, etc.


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