|Function||Two hands, time only.|
|Case material||Red gold|
|Between horns||22 mm|
|Power reserve in hours||100|
But during the first year I wore it more than 200 times, so surely I saw its
entire repetiore of appearance tricks. No. Several more features of this watch
have revealed themselves since I wrote my first review.
I was driving to work one morning with my left hand on the wheel when the sun
slanted in the window and reflected from my watch. Something that happens all
the time. This time, however, the reflection happened to appear on the sun
visor just above me. I saw the details of this reflection that I'd never noticed
before. In fact, it never occurred to me to even look for these details.
I had already known that the flat polished indexes only reflect at a small angle
and therefore only a few indexes were 'lit up' at any given angle. The watch
would glitter when the angle changed slightly. But by projecting the reflected
light from the indexes onto the back of a watch paper, I can photograph the
'glitter print' and see just what is going on:
These pictures, taken when the rice paper was 5cm, 15cm and 25cm from the face of the watch, show how the flaws in the index placement make a glittering effect unique to this particular piece. Notice that because the indexes are not quite coplanar the index reflections don't change positions in lockstep as the paper is pulled away. One bar reflects out this direction, the bar next to it may reflect somewhere else. And because the bars are not perfectly flat (some are slightly concave or convex), some of the bars become concentrated dots or spread out smears. For example, note how one arm of the 'V' at the six stays short as the other grows--one arm is flat while the other is slightly convex. These glitter prints could be used to uniquely identify this watch in the future.
Here's a polar graph of the function r = 2a(1 + cos(θ)) along side a
picture of the dial with strong sunlight hitting it at a glancing angle:
In its second year as an everyday watch, the timing issue has become more murky. Now that I wear it everyday, I seldom leave it in one position for 24 hours, so accurate gain/loss times are not usually available. Also, I have found that my laziness has naturally crept into my daily procedures: I usually just leave the watch lying crown up on top of the watch box and only put it away on Friday afternoons where it stays until Monday (fall semester) or Tuesday (current semester). So the watch, which has always lost time (run slow) crown up, doesn't spend enough time stored dial up in its box (it has always run fast dial up) to make up the difference. During it's first year it spent approximately 4 days/week dial up (-3/day) and 3 days/week crown up (+4/day) and that worked out to (-12) + (+12) = 0 seconds/week! However, 2.5 days/week (on average) dial up and 4.5 days/week crown up should mean about (-7.5) + (+18) = +10.5 seconds/week. But I actually experience about +50 seconds/week and there are a few explanations for this:
The company that sold me this ostrich strap had three other colors available: black, brown and chestnut. And while pale colors are not generally used with rose gold, I chose tan as it was the color most different from any strap I already owned. The light color also toned down the white stitching which was used on all the offered colors.
People who believe that steel watches will last just as long as gold ones might be reminded that alot of the energy of this impact was dissapated in deforming the soft gold of the bezel so less was transferred to the movement inside the case. Strong steel would deform less but impact the movement more. For example, racing cars are designed for the "case" to be destroyed by impacts thus better protecting the contents.
The scratches that have built up on this coating in 2 years cannot be seen in normal room light. A strong light must hit the crystal at a glancing angle to see the few thin lines that are present. Eventually the coating will detract from rather than enhance the visibility of the dial, but at the current rate of decline, it will be several decades before that is a problem. At that point, the coating can be removed (polished off). In the meantime, I'll enjoy the clarity of the piece.
In order for my watch to last longer than me, I want to imbue all subsequent owners with some of my passion for its longevity. So I've been writing a narrative of its history so far, a discussion of the requirements to keep the watch in service, a justification for acceptable and unacceptable modifications, a maintenance schedule. There's even a guide for watchmakers with as much technical detail as possible (with pictures) even including such details such as a specification for caseback markings (since there may be over 100 marks eventually). And of course there's space to add owner information, service/repair history for the next few centuries.
Assuming that excellent provenance will lead to longer life, I'd like to make sure this document stays with the watch. I'm considering taking the warrantee manual (the thin one) and replacing it with this new booklet (the watch is grey market so the papers are unstamped anyway). Perhaps I can even take the book apart so I can reuse the cover stock (with watch embossed) so it looks real sharp. The problem is the manuals don't actually reside in the inner box, they're in the outer box which is more likely to disappear over the centuries.
In 498 years, we'll know if it worked.
A mechanical watch can be fixed no matter what breaks.
A quartz watch is unrepairable if certain parts break.
It cannot have a soul since it cannot endure.
Re: What materials?
The dial is brass (as are all watches) which is painted or enamelled. All the hands and markers are 18K gold, matching the case material. Even a steel watch has 18K white gold hands and markers. The luminous material is Luminova.
The 'life' in a fine watch.
Mike has given us the facts, but to me this is not quite satisfactory. Perhaps for those who are as into watches as he, certain nuances go without saying, but let's spell it out more fully:
First, if you are asking for innovation, you must remember that you are treading in areas with deep traditions. And these traditions live on for one very good reason: they've worked.
The dial is brass as it has been on watches for centuries. This material has many advantages and has proven itself under real-world conditions. There are many materials used now for watch dials: 24k gold, carbon fibre, meteorite, mother of pearl, plastic. But brass is either just plain better or reaches a better price point--after all, a ruined dial can be easily refinished or replaced if its value does not exceed that of the movement.
If you are looking for the perfect material, let me assure you it doesn't exist. But enameled brass must be considered fairly close. Carbon fibre may be closer, but remember that if you want the movement to live on, the dial must be able to be remachined in the future. Easy with simple tools in brass, with carbon fibre it takes more significant infrastructure and who knows what the future will bring. Maybe it will be easier, but if the past is any indication, it's more likely nothing will be 'fixed' and infrastructure to accomplish this may be hard to come by.
Gold is used in indices and hands traditionally for lifespan (which is why replacing hands during routine service is the wrong approach). Plus, have you looked at the hands? I mean really looked? Believe me, gold is the right choice.
Will a Blancpain age? Yes, yes it will. Will it age better than most? Yes, because high quality finishing always means longer, but not infinite, life. But remember it is the movement that all the other parts serve. As long as they can perform their duties so the time can be read, a little aging does not destroy the function of the watch.
Are there watches that will last longer? Probably, but in all the likely
candidates for extreme age, it is not the case and outer elements which
will be the deciding factor. It is what's inside that counts. And its
housing better not be worth so much that it lives, and subsequently dies,
by the fate of that housing.
Swimming against the tide
Perhaps most people get more complicated watches as they learn more. For me, it was quite the opposite. When I was younger I loved digital watches and the more functions they had, the better. But as I got older, complexity for complexity's sake held less and less fascination. I began to see the careful and judicious use of functions usually accompanied a cleaner and clearer interface.
Eventually, I was exposed to enough wrong-headed interfaces to change my thinking. I now wanted consistently applied rules with no jarring missteps. I began to see in watches many examples where the parts 'fought' with each other and often for no good reason except the designer hadn't thought it through.
For example, why are there so many fonts on dials? I've seen one font for the hour markers and another on a subdial. Why?!? Then there's times when a subdial is eaten here but overlaps there. Or there're numbers at 4 and 8 on one subdial and at 3, 6 and 9 on another. Or there's a different color hand but it doesn't match the color of the track used to read it. All these inconsistencies grate on me.
So when I had learned enough to want a 'good' watch, I knew it would have to be completely consistent. Once you eliminate the watches with some design mistake (yes, I said mistake), you are left with my Blancpain.
I've often thought the same thing but I would add the date. Can I ask your reason why no date? It doesn't make the dial much busier and adds a function I use a ton. I actually have a Flyback and have never used the chrono portion for any reason other than to see if it works.
Why no date
OK, you asked. Here's why no date:
What would you do? Put the date in applied gold roman numerals? No. Obviously it would have to be arabic and painted. So, to continue with my need for consistency, therefore the hour markers must be painted and arabic.
OK, it's easy to find such a piece. But consider the problems of arabic if no jarring elements are to be found. Can they be painted radially as the romans are on my watch? No, that puts the number '9' at the bottom (6 upsidedown). OK, just put 9-3 radially bottoms toward the center and 4-8 radially bottoms toward the edge. But then there's those sudden swaps from 3 to 4 and 8 to 9 that bug me. The only solution is hour markers upright all the way around. Well, that means you can't tell where the minute hand is pointing (since the center could be anywhere in the digit) so additional elements are necessary on the dial to make up for this design flaw--either dots/bars or a full track.
And of course on my watch the hands and markers from which you read them are the same material. That means my hands can't be that beautiful gold, they must be also painted the color of the markers. And yet I love the play of the light off the gold elements of my watch.
All in all a very high price in aesthetics for the added function of a date. Besides, the date is projected onto my blackboard in the lab where I teach so doesn't need to be on my wrist.
Everything an amateur does to a dial makes it worse.
Here's an example: My Blancpain came with a scratch on the dial from the factory! (The case has never been opened.) But I just live with it because there is really nothing I can do about it. It is small and generally not visible with the naked eye (except in just the right light).
Now I guess I could try to make a stink with the guys in Switzerland, but in a few more years when I crack this puppy open for its first service, I'll be much more relaxed pulling the hands. After the first ding in a fancy new car, parking is much less stressful. After all the scratch is a slip from a professional watchmaker working for a top-tier atelier, so my own slips will be in good company.
Besides, no gem is flawless. It is the flaws that make a piece unique.
visit my wife's peony garden: