That is the question!
A lot of people think of $10,000 Rolexes, making payments on a credit card, and making a major sacrifice.
Even though I am more partial to Japanese, Swiss Made is universally accepted as the gold standard. However, did you know that by the late 1970’s and early 1980’s — Swiss watch making was basically dead? The Rolex Daytona was considered undesirable (while today it’s the hottest model). Seiko had started putting nails in the coffin for the Swiss. But the casket never shut completely and Swiss watchmaking came roaring back in the 80’s.
Why? One brand — Swatch! The story has been told over and over, but let me tell you in “Reader’s Digest” form. Swatch found that they could make quartz (battery powered) movements to compete with the Japanese and sell fun watches that are disposable for about $50 or so. In 1983, they brought Swiss watchmaking to a new generation. They made hundreds of millions of $$ doing this and they funneled that money back into their legacy brands like Longines, Omega, Hamilton Tissot, and Certina. Those brands live on today and are strong. These Swiss brands and others all had to go upmarket to survive. Watch sales are on fire during this pandemic era!
Hamilton sells this beautiful automatic field watch for $575 ($625 with bracelet)
Swatch sells this watch w/ battery for $80
(looks like a larger version of my first watch as a kid)
How are they doing it at those price points? The Swiss Made standard says that 60% of the value (not contents) have to be derived from Switzerland. On these less expensive models — the strap / bracelet, glass, dial, hands, and case are often coming from the Far East. It’s a reality. The movement, whether battery or mechanical is made in Switzerland. The watch is assembled there too. Swiss labor isn’t cheap. They can easily say 60% of the value comes from Switzerland. The technicalities would not dissuade me from buying a Swiss watch like this. Let’s face it, a lot more people in the world can afford $300 watches than $10,000 watches.
If someone wants to be a purist — you can spend a little more. For example — Dekla watches are all German made, except for their Swiss mechanical movements. (About $650+ with the conversion of Euros)
The Timex American Documents are all American Made (higher standard that Swiss Made) except for the Swiss quartz movement.
So my take away point is, yes you can get a Swiss Made watch for $150 or even $80 and have a meaningful experience. Watches tell stories about our lives.
How are you doing this week? Are you sick of the lightning and risk of damaged equipment? I hope you at least have some decent surge protectors (not just power strips).
Comcast Business Class
I had a very good experience recently with a client that had Comcast Business Class Internet. A modem was destroyed by lightning and they came out to replace it within a couple hours. I don’t know if it is still their policy, but I read once that on business days, they make it a point to come out within 4 hours. If you have a business (even at home) or work from home and need that kind of reliability, you too can get Comcast business level service. FYI, it costs more and a contract is usually required.
Faith Restored in the Mac
I helped a client recently who had the unfortunate experience of a hacked email account (which I had seen before), but with all of the emails deleted. Tragic! Fortunately, this client had a Mac and had been using the Apple Mail app. My client had also been using an external hard drive with Time Machine (built into the macOS) to back up the computer. I was able to restore years worth of Inbox and Sent messages. Apple Mail and Time Machine are a great combo for archival purposes.
I don’t talk about it too much in this newsletter, but I have a completely separate e-mailing each each week where I talk about the joys of watch collecting. It’s called “Watch Out”. E-mail me to sign up. My goal for the summer was to find a summer watch. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money so I decided to modify an existing watch. I took my blue Casio Duro (IMHO the best large watch under $75 – Amazon link https://amzn.to/3BCfqRX), and put a lively orange rubber strap on it, also from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Premium-Quality-Waterproof-Silicone-Release/dp/B07XPFDHK5/).
Song of the Week: Lightning Crashes
In the early morning hours of Sunday 7/18, I saw the worst lightning storm of my life. Many of you have shared the same. It seemed that every few minutes I would look out a different window of my house and see blue almost down to ground level. It was scary. Although this song is about metaphorical lightning it is the only song I know about the topic. Its intensity fits the bill. If you don’t remember the band Live, they are a great example of 1990s modern rock. https://youtu.be/7uNdUi0Yf1Q
– The Covid Era has been a wild and very scary time for all of us. We all had a lot of time in isolation and were forced to find (hopefully) creative ways to use this time. It may be a surprise (even to me) but I have spent dozens of hours (and probably over 100) over the past 8 months learning about watches. Horology is fascinating. Before radio, and telegraphs, and photography — watches existed as a form of personal technology. I consider myself one who is approaching a certain level of expertise on watches under $1000. I don’t consider this a business proposition yet. However, there are numerous online watch sellers, people that buy and sell vintage watches, and so on. Watch sales are up. Can I convert knowledge to profit? We’ll see.
So I just wanted to share a couple of findings and tutorials in this introductory installment:
–Tick, Tick, Tick vs. Sweep: Does your watch tick once per second advancing to the next marker? If so, you have a battery powered quartz watch. If your watch has a sweeping motion of the second hand, then you have a mechanical watch. It may be fully automatic, solely hand wound, or a combination of both. However, there are more modern quartz technologies that mimic the sweep. These watches have a “meca quartz” movement and provide 4 micro-ticks per second.
–Timex – Comeback Kid: Our own Waterbury, CT (Middlebury now) based Timex has experienced a major resurgence over the past 3 years to the delight of all watch fans especially those looking for nice but affordable pieces. They brought back the Marlin hand-wound 34 mm 1960’s watch that your dad (or maybe you) even had. Let’s face it – our eyes aren’t getting any better so they now have a beautiful 40 mm Marlin as well. Timex also re-issued their popular Q watches, sporting a 1970’s design with a battery you can change yourself. There are a lot of good feelings around Timex right now. You can check out their latest at Timex.com
–Micro Brands: One trend that you may not be aware of over the past 10 to 15 years is the growing prevalence and success of micro watch brands. Remember when Samuel Adams took off the late 1980s? Some would say they led the micro-brewery revolution. The same thing is happening with watches. Micro watch brands are started by passionate people. There are many of these outfits in the US and elsewhere. They choose quality components and then assemble the watches here or possibly outside the country. Watches from Micro brands typically range from the $100’s to $600’s depending on whether you are getting a quartz or mechanical. A great bang for your buck.
– Watches help us tell time, perform certain functions, and also appreciate the gift of time we are given on this earth. What are your watch stories? I would like to hear them. Is there a watch you got for a special occasion? A watch you once had but lost? Do you have any old 1960’s / 1970’s Timex watches laying around? I’ll be quiet now and let you share. 🙂 Feel free to send me a picture of your timepiece. It would make my day.
I may be a broken clock — but I am right twice a day. LOL!
Learning About New (to me) Old Technologies During the Pandemic
I will never own a Rolex, or a Tudor, or an Omega. However, I was given a Seiko — made in Japan — watch for my big birthday last month that was roughly $160. It sparked an intense period of learning for me. I became fascinated in these tools for our wrists that are able to keep time and produce 21,000 + vibrations per hour WITHOUT a battery. I am referring to watches with a mechanical movement, whether they be automatic, hand wound or both. (Of course, there are wonderful quartz watches out there with batteries too.) Over the past 6 weeks, I think I have become quite knowledgeable on the sub-$500 watch market. There are awesome watches you can get out there for under $300 and in some cases under $200 as well. I haven’t found a way to incorporate this newfound love into my business as some kind of formal proposition, but I would definitely be willing to discuss this arena with you informally by e-mail or perhaps at the back end of an appointment.
Some insights I would be able to share with you include… There are many fine watches out there with Japanese movements. It is possible to get affordable Swiss made watches. I can help you understand the difference between a grey market watch and one from an authorized seller. (My Seiko came from a grey market store in NYC that also has an authorized division as well.) Sometimes the right strap can make all the difference on a watch, especially a nylon “NATO” strap. I don’t think we should think of watches by traditional gender distinctions. A lot of so-called ladies watches are very stylish but not functional. Why can’t a lady wear a nice man’s watch? Of course she can! There are so many possibilities if we think outside the watch box. There are a lot of garbage watches coming out of China, but I can let you know about the one Chinese made watch that “watch people” really admire.
Watch Out For Google Search Results
Over the past couple years, I have seen some clients come up with bad luck on Google search results. It often starts with Googling for a phone number for customer service for a particular company. While Google has improved this type of searching and can often provide you with an obvious and legitimate number, you have to deal with paid search listings. I have tried to install ad blockers for all of you on your browsers and shown you how to turn that ad blocker on and off. However, if you do not have an ad blocker installed you are going to see at least 3 search results from Google that are ads. They should be clearly identified. However, you may not notice what you are looking at. Please be careful. Unfortunately, scam companies have been buying up key word ads from Google. So that when you search for XYZ bank customer service or Frontier customer service (for example), those first few results may not be what you are looking for. You will have to scroll beyond the sponsored listings to truly find what you want. Goggler beware!