Bellusso Jewelers Blog

Bellusso Jewelers Blog
2015-05-28
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When we say Las Vegas Shows, we aren't thinking Blue Man Group. Sorry. We are thinking watches. Well, being that we are a watch retailer, it may not surprise you that our thoughts are watches and jewelry. But this week, starting today and spanning through June 1, several of the most important U.S. watch and jewelry shows are taking place throughout the city. While we already witnessed the high-horology trends of SIHH earlier this year, and the all-encompassing global trends of BaselWorld 2015, there may still be some interesting items coming our way.

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What do we expect to see? Three important C's — no not diamond C's — but the C's of watches. Color: especially gray, violet and taupe for women, and blue and black with pops of color for men. Cut: Not all watches are round. This year we are expecting some great pieces in cushion shapes, rectangulars, a few tonneau (barrel) and even a few totally-out-there space-like cases. Clarity: We expect watch brands to be paring down their collections and offering us less breadth and more solid substance in terms of form and function. We will let you know how our predictions pan out.

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2015-05-26
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Harmony Monopusher Chronograph with Pulsometer scale

Earlier this year at SIHH in Geneva (the foremost luxury watch exhibition), Vacheron Constantin unveiled its new Harmony collection. Inspired by the past, but with an eye to the future, the cushion-shaped watch has taken the world by storm, especially with its complex iterations.

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Harmony Lady Dual Time with diamonds

The watch pays tribute to the brand's 260th year of continuous production. The cushion shape is inspired by a chronograph first introduced in 1928, yet the renditions are timeless — and ultra thin.

There are eight ultra-thin watches in the collection, including a monopusher split-seconds chronograph, a monopusher chronograph with a tourbillon (grand complication), a monopusher chronograph with a pulsometric scale, a chronograph for women and several dual-time models — including a diamond version.

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Additionally, there are four new movements — designed and manufactured in-house over the course of the seven years that it took the brand to develop the collection. They all bear the Geneva Seal.

The Harmony Ultra-Thin Grande Complication Chronograph (Split-seconds with tourbillon) is among the world's thinnest self-winding split-seconds chronograph — housing 459 parts and measuring just 5.20 mm thick.  It is created in a limited edition of 10 pieces in platinum. The other versions, also in limited numbers, are a bit more attainable. We are proud to carry Vacheron Constantin in our store. Stop in any time to witness the elegance, precision and craftsmanship inherent in the watches made by the oldest continuously running watch manufacture in the world.

2015-05-21

Urwerk is a brand we are proud to carry. The independent watch brand is all about bringing classic watchmaking to visionary new standards. Its designs and technical prowess are both cutting-edge and yet remarkably appealing. Such is the case with the newest UR-105 TA — fondly called the Urwerk Knight because its bezel evokes the breastplate of a knight’s armor, protecting the mechanism from the ravages of time.

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The robust Knight measures time via Urwerk's well-known (and well-respected) satellite design, wherein four turbine-shaped disks — each with three numbers on it — rotate on satellites to indicate the hour. The satellites rotate along the minute rail and at the end of each hour, as soon as the hour changes, the minute counter jumps back to the beginning of the rail —picking up the next satellite with the advanced hour. It is all a highly precise and well-orchestrated dance of time.

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The Turbine Automatic (the TA in the style number) movement features dual air turbines that help regulate the automatic movement. Visible via the case back, each air turbine is exquisitely finished in bead blasting. The watch offers three positions of operation: Full (any movement powers the mainspring); Reduced (which reduces the tension on the mainspring when the watch is in a resting mode); Stop (essentially disabling it). The concept is to keep the watch fully wound to the right torque at all times to provide absolute precision. This is a complex watch and one better seen in store, not only for the technical aspects, but also for the beauty. Stop in any time.

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2015-05-19
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With summer here, many people indulge in outdoor activities — from walking and hiking to biking, swimming and more. To accompany you on the journey, the chronograph could be the most utilitarian timepiece that also offers nice aesthetic appeal.

Chronographs are watches that track intervals of time. For instance, they can monitor laps around a track, the time it takes to hike a mountain or how many minutes it took you to grill that burger. The amount of time a chronograph can track varies with the watch. Most offer up to 12 hours, 60 minutes and fractions of a second.

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Louis Moinet's 1815 chronograph

Up until a couple of years ago, it was believed that Nicolas Rieussec invented the chronograph, which he patented in 1821. However, more recent findings indicate that watchmaker Louis Moinet actually made his version of the chronograph before Rieussec.

In fact, Moinet's device was called a “compteur de tierces" (three-thirds) and was started in 1815 and completed in 1816. It was one of the most accurate watches of its time, measuring events to the 60th of a second via a central seconds hand. The elapsed seconds and minutes are recorded on separate subdials, and the hours on a 24-hour dial. Because Moinet used two pushbuttons to start, stop and reset the central hands, the watch is considered a chronograph (though the term wasn't coined until later).

It was in October of 1821 when French watchmaker Rieussec formally presented his watch with seconds counter to the Academy of Sciences — wherein it was termed a chronograph (time writer). Rieussec's chronograph was developed to measure laps of horse racing and the early versions used ink dots to calculate the duration of events, and often were large clocks encased in table boxes. Here's how it worked: At the beginning of a timed event, the “ink chronograph” was set in motion so that two discs began to turn, one calibrated for 60 elapsed seconds and the other for 30 elapsed minutes. The official timer would press a button each time a competitor crossed the finish line. The action of pressing the button lowered two ink-filled tips onto the enamel discs, where each tip left a droplet of ink. These ink markings on the chronograph’s discs enabled the user to calculate the competitor's finishing time.

 Chronograph by Rieussec

Chronograph by Rieussec

We have  come a long way since then. Today’s chronograph watches usually have small sundials on the main dial, wherein the hours and minutes are recorded once the start button has been activated. The seconds are usually tracked via a central seconds hand on the main dial. Of course, different brands use different methods of indication, but the concept is all virtually similar.

Because of the sundials on a chronograph, it is one of the more visually attractive watches. However, mechanical chronographs are no easy feat to build. Essentially hundreds of tiny parts are crammed into that tiny diameter on the wrist. And all of those metal gears, wheels, teeth, bridges and more must work together in perfect harmony to track both the ongoing time and the time of the events. Chronographs have either one single mono-pusher, or two pushers located on either side of the crown. Those pushers activate the start, stop and return-to-zero functions.

There are also more complex  chronographs, such as Split-Seconds Chronographs (also referred to as Rattrapantes), wherein two hands split, or appears to divide, from one another so that they can act independently and time events with different durations. There are also column-wheel chronographs that have a different configuration of the movement and so engages the mechanisms differently. But we will cover those types of chronographs in another story.

2015-05-14

That watch on your wrist today may well be tomorrow’s grand windfall — especially if you own, or are buying, a watch that is a special edition, a specific genre or a certain brand name. We are in the height of the spring auction season that is affirming the ongoing love affair between collectors and certain pre-owned vintage timepieces. Here, we bring you a few of the highlights from each of the auctions.

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At the Antiquorum auction of “Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces” held on May 10, an outstanding 6.5 million Swiss Francs worth of merchandise sold. Among the most intensely coveted items was the Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 Fourth Series, which had been retailed by Tiffany & Co. The two brands have shared a long history of collaboration spanning more than a century. This 18-karat yellow gold watch with perpetual calendar was the top lot (Lot 504) — selling for an exceptional $509,840.

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Photo courtesy of Antiquorum

The other hotly contested item was General Douglas MacArthur’s Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso – a watch belonging to the Five-Star General and bearing his insignia on the reverse dial. Lot 359 claimed more than four times its original estimate, selling for $94,615.

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Photo courtesy of Antiquorum

The following day, on May 11, Christie's “Important Watches” auction totaled sales of nearly $16.5 million. The top lot in this auction was a platinum Patek Philippe double-dial Sky Moon Tourbillon wristwatch with 12 complications, Ref. 5002P. Originally manufactured in 2006, the watch sold for $1,151,836 (Lot 136).

Rolex enjoyed its day in the sun, too, on May 9 in Geneva at the first-ever Phillips, in Association with Bacs & Russo, auction. In fact, this newly established auction house held two days of auctions — one devoted to the Rolex Day Date and the other devoted to different brands. The Rolex Day Date auction offered 60 rare examples of the brand’s most prestigious watch. Every lot in this auction was sold — to the total tune of $6,634,800. The highest price was paid for "Big Kahuna," one of only two known 6612 references made in platinum. It broke world records by fetching $507,865.

The Rolex Big Kahuna, photo (C) Phillips

The Rolex Big Kahuna, photo © Phillips

The following day concluded the Phillips two-day auction, which totaled $31.8 million in revenue. Top lots on this day included an extremely rare stainless steel Patek Philippe single-button doctor’s Chronograph, which sold for nearly $5 million – setting a new record price for a stainless steel wristwatch sold at auction.

If you are sensing a recurring pattern in the auction results of certain brands, it is important to take note that each of these auctions put hundreds of watches up for bid, and many were much more accessible brands that also sold well and fetched strong numbers.

2015-05-12

In watchmaking, there are essentially three different types of movements, also called calibers. And, of late, there are also solar powered watches, but that is a different story. Here, we bring you a brief look at exactly what a watch movement is and how the three most common types differ.

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Essentially, the watch movement consists of all the parts that power the watch, track the time, and provide the power for added functions. Some of the most complex mechanical watches with additional functions also have specialized modules built onto the base caliber. But we will stay with the essentials herein. There are two types of calibers that are totally mechanical and do not incorporate batteries: Automatic and Hand Wound.

Hand Wound Mechanical Movements

Essentially a hand-wound — also called manual-wind — is one in which the wearer must manually wind the watch via the crown. By winding the crown, the mainspring inside the watch is coiled tightly via a gear train that leads from crown to spring. As the spring slowly unwinds, it releases its energy, powering the watch. Of course, the system is much more complex than that. Inside the mechanics, a balance wheel and spiral work to keep energy released by the spring consistent and accurate. The key with this type of movement is that one must remember to wind the watch or the energy will deplete and the time indications will need to be manually reset before winding the watch again.

Automatic Movements

A mechanical watch with an automatic movement (also called a self-winding movement) works in a similar method. However, in this type of movement, a few additional parts come into play. Each caliber in an automatic movement is fitted with a rotor that moves when the wearer moves his or her wrist. That movement automatically powers the rotor (sometimes referred to as an oscillating weight), which winds the mainspring. The watch is powered as long as it is being worn, and the power in that watch will last – when taken off and sitting still in a box or on a dresser – for a designated time period. That time period is called “power reserve” and different watches are equipped with varying amounts of power reserve.

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Quartz Movements

A quartz movement is not powered by mechanics, but instead by a battery. Quartz watches were first developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and came into true serial production in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Quartz watches use a tiny piece of low-frequency quartz crystal (silicon-dioxide) that is chemically etched into shape in an integrated circuit, and that serves as the oscillator. A nearby battery sends electricity to the quartz crystal through an electronic circuit. The quartz oscillator then vibrates quickly and with precise frequency (32,768 times/second) in response to the electronic charge. The circuit counts the vibrations and generates regular electric pulses of one per second to drive the motor that turns the hands. There is no need to turn the crown or set the watch after the first time. However, in quartz watches, the batteries will die and need to be replaced.

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2015-05-07

Yes, it is almost Mother's Day. In fact, Sunday is the big day, and if you haven't already thought about a way to delight the mom in your life, now is the time. Flowers and candy are nice, but the gift of time is even nicer. A watch is something that will remind her of you and this special Mother's Day every time she looks at her wrist.

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You don't have to break the bank to give a great timepiece, but you do have to give it a little thought. What is the lifestyle of the mom you want to honor? Is she active? If so, look at a chronograph that can time her activities, runs, gym workouts and more. Is she getting up there in age? Then consider a watch with a beautifully legible dial — easily readable without glasses on. Perhaps mom has a favorite color? Some of the nicest watches today can be found with colorful dials or with a painter's palette of colored leather straps. White is always a great choice for Mother's Day, too, as we enter into the bright beauty of spring and summer.

Other considerations include if mom would prefer a watch with a quartz battery, or one that is mechanical — some moms really do like mechanics. Others may like the moon and the stars, and there are wonderful moon phase and astronomical watches on the market. Is she a busy executive doing business in multiple time zones? Consider a GMT watch or one with dual or triple-time-zone indications.

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And then, of course, there are the truly sophisticated, high-end watches that certain top brands offer. Those watches can be haute horlogerie (with complications, such as perpetual calendars, skeletonized movements or more) or haute joaillerie — bedecked in diamonds or colored gemstones. Indeed, the list goes on and on. If you can't think of the right gift for Mother's Day, you just haven't looked at our watches yet. Stop in — but soon. Mother's Day is Sunday.

2015-05-05
Capeland Cobra 10232, Limited Edition, 44 mm, steel

Americans love a good race car story — one filled with muscle cars, dreamers and doers. The story of Carroll Shelby and his Cobra are the stuff legends are made of. Recently, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of the most historic car races, Baume & Mercier teamed up with Shelby American and has since unveiled two race-inspired timepieces.

The Celebration:

Because Baume & Mercier is all about celebrating life's moments, the partnership makes perfect sense. This year witnesses the 50th anniversary of the legendary win of the Shelby Cobra (with a massive 427 cubic inch Ford V8 at its heart) over the famed Ferrari at the 1965 FIA Championship. Before that fateful day in 1965, the Ferrari had been virtually unbeatable.

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The Story Behind It:

The story of Carroll Shelby — and what he and his team accomplished — is easily one of the most inspiring in American race car history. These passionate men were six guys working in a garage with visionary Carroll Shelby, who had been forced to give up racing due to a bad heart. He would not give up his dream, though, of building the ultimate race car — one that would beat the Ferrari.

He and his team pursued that dream and brought it to reality over the course of several years. After the group started winning a number of American race titles, Shelby got the power of Ford behind him and set his sights on the big FIA races overseas. His car was lighter and faster. The Cobra was so fast that the drivers knew they could slow down a little, conserve on fuel and still win the race. When the other racers had to make pit stop to refuel, the little car that could — did. It drove past them all and stole the win — making American muscle car history.

The Watches:

Capeland Cobra 10233, Limited Edition, 18K red gold, 44 mm

The new Baume & Mercier Capeland Shelby Cobra watches not only pay homage to the 50th anniversary of the victory at the FIA International Championship of GT Manufacturers, but also embraces the  bold beauty of that powerful car. The watch features the beloved Capeland case, which was also inspired by a vintage piece (a 1948 mono-pusher chronograph in the Baume & Mercier museum). From there, the watches are made with superb attention paid to detail and precision.

Two limited-edition models are being offered: a stainless steel chronograph, and an 18-karat rose gold flyback chronograph. The stainless steel chronograph, with a polished- and satin-finished 44mm case and tachymeter functions, features specially crafted hands inspired by the Cobra steering wheel and embodying the Cobra logo at the end of the seconds hand. The dial is created in the rich Shelby Guardsman Blue racing color with barely visible double racing stripes through it. It is powered by a Swiss-made self-winding 25 jewel LaJoux-Perret 8120 movement.

Just 1965 pieces will be made of this watch to honor the great win. There is also an 18-karat rose gold flyback chronograph model that is equally as alluring. These watches are even more limited in production, so, just like a Cobra, one may have to step on the gas a little to own one.