Archive | Historical Horology

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Historical Horology – Bell & Ross

Posted on 29 June 2014 by Patrick Kansa

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Often in our Historical Horology posts, we go delving back in to the history of a brand, or even of a specific model/lineup from a brand.  In today’s look at Bell & Ross, however, we’re going to stick a little closer to current day.
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Historical Horology – Audemars Piguet

Posted on 22 June 2014 by Patrick Kansa

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Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet

When it comes to brands with long and storied history, we do generally head on over to Switzerland, as it’s been the cradle of some very high-end horology.  Not too many brands are still in the hands of their founding families as is Audemars Piguet.

Founded in 1875, AP resides in Vallée de Joux, a valley tucked away in the Jura mountain range.  What is it about this region that we find so many watch companies?  For that, you’ve got to go back to when it was first settled, in the 13th century.

The inhabitants started out farming the land, and would change over to iron and glass work to make it through the harsh winters in the region.  Huguenot immigration in the 17th century is when watchmaking arrived in the area.  By the time we arrive at the 19th century, Vallée de Joux was known as the center of complicated watch movement creation.

It was into this climate that Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet combined forces in  1875, with Audemars Piguet & Cie officially founded in 1881.  The partners specialized some within their work, with Audemars focusing on innovation in the movements, while Piguet expanded the business with sales subsidiaries in Europe and the States.

From their first Grande Complication pocket watch in 1881, Audemars Piguet has been producing some amazing luxury time pieces.  For more of their history and milestones, check out this article on MasterHorologer.com, and of course AP’s own history pages.

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Vallée de Joux

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Historical Horology: The Atmos Clock

Posted on 18 May 2014 by Patrick Kansa

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When it comes to watches, we’re used to the concept of an automatic movement, once that keeps itself running just by virtue of being on our wrists as we go about our day. Clocks, on the other hand, don’t enjoy that same luxury. As they’re not really being moved around, they’re dependent on electricity, manual winding, or resetting of weights that provide kinetic energy to the movement. As we’ve written before, there is one line of clocks that works without any visible external inputs.

That clock is, of course, the Atmos from Jaeger-LeCoultre. With these sort of creations, you’re not going to find it as springing fully formed from a monolithic company. No, when you dig into the history, you find that the Atmos was the creation of one Jean-Léon Reutter, who made the first prototype somewhere around 1927 or 1928.

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Interestingly enough, he wasn’t even working at JLC (at that time, known as LeCoultre), or any watch or clock company. He was employed as a radiological engineer at Company Generale de Radiologie (CGR). When he presented his idea to the directors of the company, they liked what they saw, creating a special workshop in 1929 for Reutter to head up and create these clocks.

It wasn’t until 1932 when LeCoultre entered the picture. They were originally brought in to manufacture movements for CGR, but they knew the Atmos was something special, and were interested in integrating into their own lineup. They worked towards that end, and in 1935 everything was transferred over to them.

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It took a few more years until JLC worked out things to their liking, but then the clock was on the market – and it was a popular one. By 1952, they had already managed to produce 50,000 of the atmospherically-driven clocks. Given that long and storied history, it’s no surprise to find a series of articles on the clocks, which is exactly what I ran across at Revolution Online. For more on this, head on over and check out part onetwo, and three of the series.

All images courtesy of Revolution Online

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Historical Horology – A Brief Treatise on the History of Clocks And Watches

Posted on 27 April 2014 by Patrick Kansa

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Our Historical Horology post of two weeks back inspired our friends over at Offshore Limited (link to review) to reach out, as they had some more information for us. In the article, we covered why we say “o’ clock” when stating the time. Lorne Giffords, the guy behind the brand, had some additional light to shed on the subject – specifically, where the word clock even came from. Continue Reading

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Historical Horology: Some More Maintenance Videos

Posted on 20 April 2014 by Patrick Kansa

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Somehow, I’ve managed to run into a lack of ideas to cover in Historical Horology, so I’m going run a few videos for you here of how Breitling maintains and polishes their watches, should you decide to send yours in for service.  Not 100% in line with what we’ve covered in this series before, but they interesting (and easy) viewing.

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Historical Horology: Why Do We Say “O’ Clock”?

Posted on 13 April 2014 by Patrick Kansa

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Frankly, this is a question I hadn’t ever given much thought about it – until I ran across an article that raised the question, and then answered it. Now, making a quick jump to say that the phrase likely comes from “of clock” or “of the clock” isn’t too much of a stretch. But why would that even be of a concern? Where else would you be telling the time from? Continue Reading

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Historical Horology: America’s Watch-Making Past And Future

Posted on 06 April 2014 by Patrick Kansa

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Being an American, and a (safe to say) “watch guy”, I can’t help but to take notice of writings that I come across that discuss the history of watchmaking in America, or the upswell of new American brands that we’re seeing these days. Once upon a time, America was on top of the watchmaking heap – could they get there again?As I’m guessing most of our readers are familiar, the American watch industry grew directly out of the the need for accurate timekeeping by the railroad industry. There were many other circumstances, and larger events (like the World Wars) certainly helped to shape the industry. That said, the beginnings were with the railroads. Continue Reading

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Historical Horology: A Little Bit about Frédéric Piguet

Posted on 30 March 2014 by Patrick Kansa

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Frédéric Piguet has as their claim to fame (well, at least one of their claims) for having produced what was, at the time, the thinnest hand-wound chronograph movement in their Calibre 1180. First introduced in 1987, the 1180 measured in at only 3.95 mm. This was a risky move at the time, as quartz watches were still all the rage at this point.
The move, as it turns out, was quite a prescient one. Not only have mechanical watches had a comeback, the 1180 has become the basis for many other brands’ chronographs, especially once the automatic version (the calibre 1185) was introduced. Continue Reading

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