Historical Horology

Home Continuing Series Historical Horology Page 3

Historical Horology: The First Rolex Certified Chronometer

Rolex-1914-Kew-Certificate

If you spend any amount of time looking at the dial of a Rolex, you’ll notice the wording that shows up. Look at another one from a different lineup, and you’ll see the same words appearing – certified chronometer. Far from being a bunch of marketing fluff, this is something Rolex rather prides themselves on, and made the decision from early on that all of their watches would carry this certification. As with all things, it had to start somewhere, and that’s what we’re talking about today – the first Rolex Certified Chonometer.

Historical Horology: The Overshadowed Breitling 765 AVI Co-Pilot

Breitling-AVI-collection2

When it comes to aviation watches, and chronographs specifically, Breitling is a brand that is no doubt near the top of the list for most people immersed in that particular style of watch. And when you hear Breitling, you probably call to mind the Navitimer, as it’s just about the iconic model for the brand. What you may not know is that they had another equally capable watch, the Breitling 765 AVI / Co-Pilot.

Historical Horology – Bell & Ross

Bell-Ross-BR-01-Carbon

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.

Historical Horology – Audemars Piguet

audemars-piguet-founders.956.376.s
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.

Audemars-piguet-logo

Vallée de Joux

Historical Horology: The Atmos Clock

NewAtmosBanner1-1

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.

how_the_atmos_works

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.

IMG_2908-kopie-copy

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

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

DSC_3696

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.

Historical Horology: Some More Maintenance Videos

breitling-maintenance

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.

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

clock-340x455

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?

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

1926_Mar_SS_HB&B_Case_LR

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.

Historical Horology: A Little Bit about Frédéric Piguet

Piguet12-e1383327292407

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.