Archive | Historical Horology

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Historical Horology: Some More Maintenance Videos

Posted on 20 April 2014 by Patrick Kansa


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


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


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


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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Historical Horology: Hidden Messages In A President’s Watch

Posted on 23 March 2014 by Patrick Kansa


Not too long ago, we had a Historical Horology piece covering the watches that various presidents have had, drawing from an excellent article put together by the crew over at Hodinkee. When I was working on that one, I was reminded of another article I had tucked away intending to write about, and it slipped into the recesses of my catalog, almost forgotten – much like the hidden messages that were uncovered in the pocket watch that was once carried by Abraham Lincoln. Continue Reading

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Historical Horology: Non-mechanical Speedmasters from Omega

Posted on 16 March 2014 by Patrick Kansa


When it comes to Omega, many folks instantly think of one model – the Speedmaster. This is a fair leap to make, given how iconic the watch has become. Variations have come and gone, but the one you’re likely picturing in your mind right now is a mechanical chronograph with a black dial. A lot of that is fueled from what we see today, as well as the vintage models that are currently popular. In the 1970′s, however, Omega was by no means immune to the quartz crisis. Continue Reading

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Historical Horology: Make Your Own Clock

Posted on 09 March 2014 by Patrick Kansa

3d printed clock

Today’s Historical Horology post is a bit of a diversion.  To be sure, our beloved watches have their roots in the clocks of yore, and you’d even find similarities (albeit with larger pieces) if you took apart a mechanical clock and compared it to a mechanical watch.  What we don’t have, however, is this. Continue Reading

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Historical Horology: The Chronograph

Posted on 02 March 2014 by Patrick Kansa


When it comes to the history of watchmaking, one of the most popular (and complex) complications that have come to be seems to be, time and again, the chronograph. While I myself seem to be personally moving away from an interest in chronographs, I certainly understand the appeal, and still believe it to be an amazing feat of engineering with the accuracy we’re able to get to these days. If you’d like to learn some more about the chronograph, and things like how it came to be, and how to use one, read right on.

First things first – this is a Historical Horology post, so we need to tackle some history. While a man by the name of Louis Monet created what we would consider to be the first chronograph watch (in 1815), it was actually Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec who created the first market-ready version that was commisioned in 1821 by King Louis XVIII. Why did the king want such an ability? To time horse races, a favorite pastime of his.

Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec

Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec

The watch proved popular, although it had an interesting quirk (by today’s usage of chronographs) – it was constantly running. It wasn’t until 1844 where we had a reset capability added by Adolphe Nicole. After that, while the watchmaking industry underwent massive changes, the chronograph itself didn’t see any massive innovation, until we come to 1958, when a rotating bezel tachmeter was added by Tag Heuer.

Of course, since that time, there’s been all manner of scales added to the chronograph, allowing for a variety of different measurements that are able to be captured. If you’d like to dig more into the history (as well as have a primer on how to read some of those scales), check out this article from Gentleman’s Gazette.


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