Bellusso Jewelers Blog

Bellusso Jewelers Blog

While we all love summer fun, there is something to be said about the "Christmas in July" concept. Some people say the concept for Christmas in July stems from our yearning for a bit of cool weather in the hot days of summer. Others say it's a great time to get a jump on holiday shopping. Yet others say it is just a good reason for a party. While any and all of these may be true, we also recognize that there is a need to think about gift giving year round — with birthdays and special occasions being celebrated all the time.

So, with all of this in mind, here is a suggestion to stave off the summer heat and whet your appetite for making time last.

Greubel Forsey is one of those incredibly rare breeds of watch brand. Launched in 2004 by Stephen Forsey and Robert Greubel, Greubel Forsey has — for the past decade — focused on creating haute horology pieces that underscore great craftsmanship. Their particular focus on the tourbillion escapement has opened new doors of innovation.

The tourbillion is designed to increase the overall effectiveness of a mechanical timepiece by negating the effect of gravity on the watch. Greubel Forsey has innovated the tourbillion escapement by 1) inclining the escapement at a 30° angle and 2) placing one tourbillion inside of another, hence the name "Double Escapement." The theory being that one incline tourbillion inside of another would further reduce the inaccuracies resulting from gravity. It worked.


And since then, the brand has been building new watches and new inventions that are always stretching the boundaries of watchmaking. The Double Tourbillon 30 Technique BiColor in Platinum with ADLC titanium side plates – retailing for well over half a million dollars – is one of those watches that will have your jaw dropping.

Created in a very limited edition of just 22 pieces in platinum, with engraved black ADLC titanium plates, the mechanical hand-wound masterpiece houses the patented tourbillon Caliber GF02s.  With a double tourbillon escapement angled at 30 degrees, the watch offers an outer tourbillon 4-minute rotation indicator, and inner tourbillon 60-second display, power reserve indicator (120 hours), small second display and hours and minutes.


While the two tourbillon cages consist of 132 parts, the complete movement houses 385 individual components and 43 domed jewels set into gold chatons. The watch achieves its 120 hours of power reserve thanks to four coaxial series-coupled, fast-rotating barrels – one of which is equipped with a slipping spring to avoid excess tension. The watch further features a free-sprung variable inertia balance wheel and a host of other complexities that may just boggle the mind.

The watch is built in platinum or in 18-karat rose gold and features a sapphire crystal and caseback for viewing the exquisitely finished movement. Trust us, this is one watch brand you have to see to believe.

Oh, and by the way, our store is air conditioned — making it the perfect summer chill atmosphere.


Last week we offered an inside look at what it means when a watch is classified as a certified chronometer. That blog post naturally sparked some interest from watch aficionados about the origins of chronometers — a topic so vast that several books have been written on the subject.

The trustees of the British Museum

John Arnold Marine Chronometer no. 12, London, 1778-1779; photo: Arnold & Son

Here, we try to put that long historical saga of how chronometers came to be into a compact overview for those who love the water and love precision. The invention of today’s chronometer was no easy feat. In fact, it was one that took nearly a century. As early as the mid-1600s, when European countries were intent on sea-faring expeditions and exploration, they faced a single deadly obstacle: being unable to find longitude at sea, often causing them to run aground and sink.

England, France and other countries tirelessly pursued a way to create a ship’s timepiece that could keep accurate time on the high and frequently savage seas, and enable captains to chart longitude via a standard time and celestial navigation. In 1714, the United Kingdom’s Parliament established the Longitude Act, complete with a Board of Longitude, and offering the Longitude Prize (20,000 pounds, comparable to 2.87 million pounds or $4.5 million today) to anyone who could find a method for determining a ship’s longitude. This quest became the life work of many watchmakers and inventors, including British watchmakers John Arnold and also John Harrison, who worked until the age of almost 80 to introduce and perfect the invention of the chronometer.


Traditional clocks with pendulums did not work on a moving vessel that was continually rolling and pitching with the waves. Harrison, instead, created a vertical escapement clock with larger balance and temperature compensation. The clock could be used as a portable standard because it offered accurate time at a fixed location — Greenwich Mean Time — despite the sea’s wrath. With that knowledge, and with some calculations at local noon, sailors could determine the ship’s longitude.

Of course, while it sounds relatively easy, it was not – especially in the days when every part of the clock was cut and made by hand. Each time a clock was finished, it went on a voyage of length to determine its reliability. It was John Harrison’s fifth clock that was finally deemed to be highly accurate at sea — in the year 1773. That invention resulted in fewer lives lost and a grand proliferation of seafaring dominance by the Brits.

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If you are a vintage watch collector or buyer of older timepieces, this story is for you. The fact of the matter is that many top retailers sell vintage timepieces and pre-owned timepieces, and — when purchased through us — customers can rest assured they are getting an authentic watch. However, when you buy from unknown sources, you can sometimes come out on the short end of the stick.

Now, the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors (NAWCC) has implemented an educational course for watch lovers who really want to know how to spot a fake. The course, entitled "Luxury or Lie? How to Identify Genuine Watches," has been designed and developed by the NAWCC along with wristwatch curator Adam Harris. It includes an overview of watch types, offers a quick litmus test to determine if a watch may be a fake and helps watch lovers understand what to be on-guard about when it comes to vintage timepieces. In fact, there are multiple types of "fakes" on the market, ranging from super fake to altered or re-worked. The multi-day workshop in Columbia, Pa., teaches participants watch-examination techniques. The course will include the best ways to identify a genuine watch, including what to look for in case weight and finish, dials, hands, strap and movement.

Luxury or Lie 1

Adam Harris, photo courtesy NAWCC

“After working in a pawn shop for some years, I realized how difficult it was to quickly and correctly differentiate a genuine piece from a fake… Long gone are the days of cheap Chinese fakes and we are now being offered ‘Super Fakes’ that even defy the ability of the manufacturers to tell the difference,” says instructor Adam Harris. “The new course will reveal many of the major manufacturers’ counterfeit measures, some hidden and some still unknown.”

Class size is limited. The cost for the full 2 1/2-day program is $1,250; an advance “early bird” registration rate of $1,000 is available for attendees who register before September 1, 2015. The course will be held October 3-5, 2015, at the classroom facilities at NAWCC headquarters in Columbia, Pa. For more information and to register, contact


We often field the question, “What is a certified chronometer?” With summer here and extreme activities, such as flying and diving, often taking center stage, it is a good time to address the topic. First developed back in the 18th century — after decades upon decades of research and development — the ship’s chronometer provided a way for sailors and explorers to keep accurate time at sea and calculate longitude. These tools enabled modern sailing and exploration to flourish and, today, certain rugged wristwatches now achieve certified chronometer status.


Essentially, a chronometer wrist watch is a high-precision watch capable of displaying the seconds while housing a movement that has undergone stringent testing in different positions and at different temperatures. The watch is rated under laboratory conditions in a specified testing institute and is then certified as having passed those tests within certain ranges of accuracy and precision. Several chronometer testing institutes exist, but the most prestigious and well known for Swiss watchmaking is the Controle Officiale Suisse des Chronometres – or C.O.S.C.

Watches made in other countries sometimes have their own testing facilities (Germany has the Glashutte Observatory in Saxony; France has the Observatory at Besancon). Sometimes, advanced watch brands test in-house to even stricter standards than the COSC standards. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the COSC certification. There are three different COSC laboratory testing facilities in Switzerland: Biel/Bienne, Geneva, LeLocle. All of these organizations test the watches based on the same criteria.


The ISO 3159 standards, to which the COSC complies, require each piece to be tested for five to 15 days in five positions at several different temperatures. Measurements are made daily with the help of cameras and based on comparisons with two independent atomic clocks. Only those that have met the precision criteria are granted an official chronometer certificate. Among the list of requirements that must be met before the mechanical watch can be said to have passed: an average daily rate criteria of -4/+6 seconds; a mean variation in rate of 2 seconds; a thermal variation of + or – 0.6; and more.


Certified COSC chronometers are identified by a serial number that is engraved on the movement. They are proven to withstand a host of different outside influences that range from heat and water to pressure and durability — making them rugged, precise tools. Because of the rigorous and intense testing, only about 3 percent of all Swiss watches produced are COSC-certified chronometers. After all, it is not an easy feat.

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It was a grand slam weekend in tennis with stellar results at Wimbledon. Serbian Novak Djokovic beat Switzerland's Roger Federer in the men’s singles final. This marks Djokovic’s second consecutive year winning Wimbledon, and the 28-year-old player accomplished it with a fury – not allowing the pressure of Federer’s 130 mph serve to get the best of him.

On Saturday, American superstar Serena Williams won her third Grand Slam tournament of 2015 — and 21st overall – taking the Wimbledon Singles title after defeating Spain's Garbine Muguruza.

We congratulate the winners and all of the participants in this prestigious event. We would also like to draw your attention to the fact that many of the participants wore watches either during their time on the court, or when accepting awards — proving that time and watches are always in play.

pp 5033 so jun 2015

Results of the recent Antiquorum auction of "Important Modern and Vintage Timepieces" substantiate the fact that watches don't have to be vintage to fetch the highest prices. The top lot of the Hong Kong auction was a magnificent platinum-and-diamond timepiece with a lineage that goes back only four years. Collectors bid aggressively on fairly modern watches, proving that the right timepiece — no matter how old — can be a great investment.

More than $10 million was garnered at the two-day auction, with just about $1.5 million of it coming from three timepieces in particular — though at least seven top brands held their own. Patek Philippe continues to be a standout at auctions and this week was no exception as the online, in person and phone bidders went to war on the  top lot — a 2011 Patek Philippe Ref. 5033P Minute Repeater Annual calendar wristwatch. The tonneau-shaped watch with black dial is crafted in platinum and features 98 baguette diamonds on the bezel. The watch sold for a remarkable $700,472.

Three other Patek Phlippe timepieces were in the top 10 lots. Among them was a 1969 yellow gold Chronograph, Ref. 2499, with perpetual calendar and moon phase indicator. This iconic collectible sold for $468,271.

rolex paul newman

Rolex — always a collector's king — fared well, too. The special Rolex watch was the auction's third-highest-price lot. So what made this particular Ref. 6241 watch garner $367,651? Its lineage, of course. The 14-karat gold watch is the Daytona “Paul Newman” watch — made in 1969.

There was even a titanium watch that fetched more than a quarter of a million dollars. That timepiece is the Audemars Piguet Grande Complication automatique titanium split-seconds chronograph. It was built in 2002 and produced in limited numbers — making it a rare and coveted timepiece. It sold for $274,771.  Another beauty: a Vacheron Constantin Ref.30020, gold Patrimony minute repeater sold for $158,670.

vach const patrimony perpet cal min rep cical 2000

So the next time you are in the market for a watch, and can't decide which one to go with, consider if it is an exclusive piece, if it has a connection to a celebrity who may one day prove a valuable pedigree, and — as we tell all our customers — only buy it if you love it.


This summer, as many flock to the zoo to get a great glimpse of the big cats, we look to Cartier. The panther is a true symbol of the House of Cartier. The signature animal has become an icon – forever entwined with the brand’s legacy. The feline concept was first used by Cartier on a wristwatch in 1914, when black gemstones and white diamonds formed a pattern that emulated the panther’s coat. When Jeanne Touissant joined Cartier, bringing her inimitable style of elegance, she embraced the panther motif fully — introducing Cartier Panthere cigarette cases, necklaces, brooches and more.


Today, the Panther remains a timeless icon for the brand, regularly interpreted on the wrist for both men and women in a host of feline positions, restrained yet always ready pounce. This year alone, Cartier has unveiled more than half dozen mesmerizing Panthere masterpieces.


This weekend we celebrate the 4th of July – Independence Day – to honor America’s hard-won independence from Great Britain and our adoption of the Declaration of Independence. While fireworks and picnics are the usual fare, this is also a great time to take a look at the Made-in-America sector of the watch market.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, a host of American watch brands were building watches on our soil. Great names in American watchmaking history include Waltham, Elgin, Hamilton and Bulova. In fact, Waltham Watch Company produced watches, clocks, speedometers, compasses and other instruments in its 100-plus-year run. Founded in 1850 in Waltham, Mass., the brand remained in business until 1957.

Similarly, Elgin National Watch Company (aka, Elgin Watch Co.) produced watches from 1864 until 1968 – and sold those timepieces under the names Elgin, Lord Elgin and Lady Elgin. The brand’s manufacturing complex was in Elgin, Ill., and at one time was the largest site dedicated to watchmaking.

Joseph Bulova, 1875

Joseph Bulova, 1875

Joseph Bulova, a Bohemia immigrant, founded Bulova as the J Bulova Company in 1875. This brand was famously patriotic and dedicated to the American Dream. By 1945, it had established the Joseph Bulova Watchmaking school to help rehabilitate disabled veterans from World War II and land them jobs in watch service and repairs.

Hamilton Watch Company, which was founded in Pennsylvania in 1892, produced its first watch in 1893 and became a very integral player in supplying watches to the American military during the World Wars.

Indeed, the list goes on and on. Sadly, most of these companies either closed their doors between the 1950s and 1970s, or shifted their production offshore (to Switzerland or the Far East). This loss of American-made watches was due to multiple factors. One was the rise in demand for well-made Swiss watches; another was the rise in the 1960s and 1970s of electronic watches that boasted LED (light-emitting diode) and LCD (liquid crystal displays) and were relatively inexpensive. Most of these brands – created by the technology companies – died out, as well, with the advent of the quartz watch era.

For decades, American watchmaking was virtually decimated. However, in the past few decades, some American-made brands have emerged on the market. Most are small companies with exclusive production of watches. Among them are brands such as Kobold, building watches from a location just outside of Pittsburgh; RGM, building watches from a location just outside of Philadelphia; and Devon, building its watches in Los Angeles. Just a few years ago, Shinola popped up – making its home in Detroit and building movements there whose components are imported from Switzerland.

Each of these brands – and about a half a dozen others scattered around the country – are slowly making their own niche in today’s marketplace.


Every once in a while, we come across a customer who has a superb American-made watch dating back to the 1800s or early 1900s. These are exciting to look at and fun to investigate. In fact, the Elgin History Museum has a host of volunteers that specialize in Elgin watches made between 1867 and the mid-1960s. They will do their best to provide information to owners of Elgin watches to help them pinpoint the year the watch was made, the movement inside, the number of jewels, how many were made and other important details about the decorative and styling features of the watch. They can even pinpoint which craftsman may have created the case. If you have an heirloom Elgin watch, we suggest you take a photo of it, look for its serial number and visit this link. But enjoy your Fourth of July barbecue first. Have a great holiday.