Bellusso Jewelers Blog

Bellusso Jewelers Blog
2018-08-15

Often we get questions from customers about mechanical watches. Generally, they'd like to understand the difference between mechanical self-winding watches and hand-winding watches. Here, we explain the difference in simple terms...

A mechanical watch is made of hundreds of tiny parts that work together without using batteries (as in quartz watches) or without use of solar power. The mechanical components power the watch and track the time (and often a lot more than just the time).

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Hand-Winding Mechanicals

Essentially, a hand-wound — also sometimes referred to as a manual-wind watch — is a timepiece that has an inner movement that must be wound by the wearer on a regular basis. The watch is generally wound via the crown in a singular direction to wind the inner spring and power the watch. As the crown is turned, it sets a small dance into motion thanks to a complicated system of gears that slowly transmit the energy from the crown to a main spring that is coiled inside a barrel. When the crown won't turn any longer, the spring is fully wound. It then slowly starts to unwind, releasing power to the watch via another series of gears and wheels, including a main balance wheel that helps to regulate the release of energy for consistent timekeeping. If the wearer forgets to wind the watch, the energy runs out and the watch stops working until it is set and wound again.

Automatic/Self-Winding Mechanicals

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In an automatic watch — also referred to as a self-winding watch — the movement is built differently than that of a hand-wound watch. It consists of a "rotor" or "oscillator" that is powered by the movement of the wearer's wrist. As the wrist moves, it automatically moves the rotor, which, as it swings, winds the mainspring inside its barrel. The power lasts for a specified amount of time (referred to as power reserve) if the watch is not being worn, but as long as the watch is worn, it will continually wind itself. Stop in any time to check out our wonderful array of mechanical watches.

2018-08-08

As more and more watch brands delve into the realm of high-tech materials for watch cases and bracelets, we are witnessing a host of wonderful new ceramic watches emerge on the market. However, not all ceramics are the same. High-tech engineered ceramic is one of the hardest and most scratch-resistant materials for watches. The cases and bracelets — as long as the watch is water resistant — can get wet without any impact, as the material is durable. As such, this is a great material for summertime watches because they can weather the elements and go the distance.

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Additionally, ceramic is a very lightweight material, so the watch doesn't feel heavy on the wrist. It also is temperature resistant and won't stick to the wrist in humid climates the way a leather strap would.

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Properly engineered ceramic is typically a blend of oxides, carbides, nitrates and zirconium that are mixed, compressed and heated to offer a great polished look that disguises its rugged factors. Because of the luster of ceramic, it also looks great on the wrist so a sporty watch can take on a more urban chic elegant tone, as well.

The first engineered ceramic watches were introduced in the mid-1980s by Swiss watch brand Rado. It took some time before other brands made their foray into ceramic, but in the past years, it has become all the rage. Typically, ceramic for watches is white or black, but some brands are finally experimenting with adding color for gray, brown or even bold red.

2018-07-25

Just like your car needs regular maintenance, so, too, does your fine mechanical watch. Let's face it, it is comprised of hundreds of tiny mechanical parts, as well as lubricants that — if they get old, dry or sticky — can affect the way your watch performs.

How often a watch should be serviced is the real question... and the answer varies depending on the age of the watch, the brand and the movement inside. Today's mechanical watches do not necessarily need servicing as often as older watches because today's haute horology watches often have silicon parts inside, or ceramic ball bearings or other components that reduce friction and wear and tear. Generally, we suggest that new watches be serviced at least every five to seven years.

Similarly, if you have a watch you bought more than a decade ago, it should also be serviced every five years at minimum to keep it running smoothly. Other vintage watches (generally watches made before 1985) need more frequent servicing. Our suggestion is once every three or four years.

Essentially, full servicing of a watch entails removing the case back, disassembling the movement, cleaning of the components and then a reassembling of the movement with all new lubricants. All new gaskets are also added to the watch and a final testing is done to ensure it is fully water resistant and in prefect running order.  Because full servicing can be time consuming, we do ask our customers to be patient, but we will keep you apprised every step of the way. If you are unsure if your watch needs to be serviced or not, stop in any time to discuss it with us.

2018-07-11

One of the key questions we get from novice collectors when they read about watches and the technical specifications of the movement is, "Are the rubies inside the watch real?"

In fact, unless a new watch utilizes high-tech ceramic ball bearings in certain parts of a watch movement, all mechanical movements utilize synthetic gemstones as bearings instead of metal bearings that need oiling.

The synthetic gems — typically rubies, but sometimes sapphires — eliminate the need for oiling and significantly reduce friction and wear and tear on the movement parts,  enhancing the life of the movement. Sometimes, those rubies are visible via a transparent sapphire caseback, or via a skeleton movement where so much of the metal is pared away to allow viewing of the superb mechanisms.

Rubies have other added benefits to watchmakers, as well. Because they can withstand temperature changes without any reaction (unlike metal bearings) they offer higher stability. Synthetic rubies are generally created using aluminum and chromium oxide that are heated, fused and crystalized. They are not as valuable as genuine rubies, making them more affordable to use. This is especially important because a watch can have anywhere from a few rubies to dozens inside the movement.

Setting these minuscule jewels into their designated spots is no easy feat and watchmakers use microscopes and tweezers to accomplish the job.  In the end, the look is beautiful and the purpose is practical.

2018-06-27

It is official: summer is here, and with it comes short sleeves, more casual attire and a host of wonderful outdoor activities — many including water. As such, this is a good time to offer a little insight into the right watch strap to wear during the summer, as we often get questions about rubber straps, bracelets and leather.  If you are thinking of switching a strap, or even buying a new watch for summer, here are a few pros and cons to know about the variety of straps on the market for both men and women.

Rubber Straps

Pros: Rubber straps generally offer a sporty look and can withstand many of the outdoor elements, including sun, rain, water and rough activities. The fact that rubber can weather the elements makes this material great for water sports, kayaking, boating, swimming and more. Generally, it dries quickly, as well, and it shouldn't lose its color or fade.

Cons: Perhaps the only drawback to a rubber strap is that if you live in a hot climate, and are not indulging in water sports, the inside of the strap could get a little sticky in humid weather.

Leather Straps

Pros: Very comfortable, leather straps come in innumerable colors, leather types and textures. From calfskin to exotics, such as snake, stingray, iguana, alligator and more, leather straps can be thin or thick and can look brand new or have a distressed, vintage appeal. Variety is a great plus here, because you can pretty much find the look you want with no problem at all. Because leather straps are relatively easy to take care of, and can be cleaned with just a wipe of a damp cloth and dish detergent, they are a good choice for anytime wear. The look is not as casual as a rubber strap, and can easily go from  weekend to work.

Cons: However, like rubber straps. In severe heat and humidity, certain leather straps also tend to get a bit sticky on the wrist.

Fabric Straps

Pros: Fabric straps are a great alternative for summer. Also available in a variety of types, fabrics and colors, the most prevalent fabric is canvas or nylon because they are rugged and durable. Fabric straps do not get sticky with heat or humidity and dry quickly once out of the water.  Many people prefer a fabric NATO-style strap because the system of attaching the strap acts as extra security, because there are no spring bars.

Cons: Sometimes NATO straps can be a bit confusing to change. The strap usually slips through the top lugs, passes over the case back and then loops though the bottom lugs. However, until you have changed them a few times, it can be tricky.

Metal or Ceramic Bracelets

Pros: These bracelets can go the distance with you, especially if the they are made of titanium, high-tech ceramic or stainless steel.

Cons: Gold bracelets generally scratch easily, so we don't recommend taking the gold watch bracelet mountain climbing with you. Additionally, the heavier material will feel heavier on the wrist and could induce perspiration.

2018-06-20

Ever wish you could start your own watch collection? Maybe join one of those watch groups out there? You can. Many people, both men and women, enjoy buying, wearing and collecting watches. There are just a few things to keep in mind as you start building a watch wardrobe.

Number of watches

There is no set number as to how many watches constitutes a collection. But if you can’t count the watches you own on more than one hand, then you probably aren’t there yet.

Types of watches

Generally, your basic watch collection should include the following:
• One everyday watch for work (Women, remember that a watch with discreet diamonds on the dial or bezel can do double duty for work and evening.);
• One bracelet watch in either white metal, or the much more versatile two-tones that are currently enjoying a renaissance. If you have the budget for gold – go for it. Gold on a brown, black, or neutral colored strap can also do double duty for work or evening. Additionally, rose gold looks great on both men and women and on all skin tones.
• One sporty, comfortable weekend watch that can reflect your hobbies or interests (chronographs, divers, and the like);

• One cool watch that offers either bold and daring design or some color to infuse your style with a little fun;
• One dress watch for elegant evening wear if you are the type that enjoys socializing;
• One complicated watch. It doesn’t have to be a high complication like a tourbillon or perpetual calendar (unless your budget permits), but a simple moon phase or dual time zone can go a long way.

Budgets

We always advise our customers starting a collection to have a budget in mind for every watch purchase. Sure, we know that sometimes you will go over budget for the right watch, but having a budget in mind helps keep the wallet in check. This is important because we also know that once you start your watch collection, you will get hooked on watches and they will become a passion.

Stop in anytime to talk with us about the benefits of building a watch wardrobe and how we can help.

2018-06-06
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Many of you will be participating in wonderful water activities this summer. But, before you jump in, please make sure that the watch you are wearing is water resistant enough to keep up with you.

You can see the water resistance rating of your watch by taking a look at the dial or case back. If your watch is water resistant, it will be stamped water resistant to a certain depth. Beware, if it doesn't say "water resistant" somewhere on the watch, don't take that timepiece in the shower let alone swimming.

Additionally, if the watch says it is water resistant it helps to know the most commonly used depth measures: Meters, Bars and ATMs.

Depth Guide:
1 Meter = 3 feet rounded (actual is 3.28 feet)
1 Bar = 33 feet rounded (33.455 feet)
1 ATM = 1 Bar or 33 feet rounded

If a watch is water resistant, it will most likely be rated to 30 meters or more.

Be cautioned that even if a watch stamped with a water resistance of 30 meters it may not be suited for ocean activities for a host of reasons, including exposing the watch to different angles of water spray. Generally, experts suggest that if a watch isn't water resistant to at least 50 feet it shouldn't go into the water, as it most likely is not equipped with the proper gaskets, screw-in crowns and more, and water could get inside, leading to condensation under the crystal and even corrosion.

If the watch says it's water resistant to 50 meters, it is most likely properly equipped to take a dive in the pool or a swim in the ocean. If you are planning a snorkel trip, though, you may want to look for a watch that is water resistant to 100 meters for better protection.

If you are diving, we suggest a watch that is water resistant to 200 or 300 meters, even if you are not going that deep. This is because watches with deeper dive water resistance are equipped with a host of extra protection that runs the gamut from screw-in crowns, screw-down case backs, extra gaskets and lock protection. The very best even have helium escape valves. Planning a water trip? Stop in any time to find the right wrist companion.

2018-05-23

Did you know that something as simple as using a cell phone (especially with a rechargeable cell phone cover), going through airport security and even flying can affect the accuracy of your mechanical watch? Microwaves, handbags with magnetic closures, certain electrical instruments and some medical testing equipment can also have a negative impact on your mechanical timepiece.

Essentially, when a watch that is not deemed "anti-magnetic" comes into contact with a magnetic force field, the inner escapement of the watch can stutter, causing a slight-to-moderate impact on timing accuracy. Some people have reported that in certain instances, their timepiece just stops working. This is why certain watch brands take steps to ensure that their watches — especially pilot watches that are exposed to magnetic fields when flying — are anti-magnetic.

The concept of anti-magnetism in watches was first developed back in the 1930s when military pilots had issues with their watches stopping or becoming inaccurate. Generally, IWC Schaffhausen is credited with developing the first-ever anti-magnetic watch, and it did so by building a soft iron inner case that could reside within the outside case, but cover and protect the movement parts that were made of metals affected by magnetism. For decades, that inner iron case was the only way watch brands could find to protect the movements, and certain brands developed their own inner anti-magnetic iron cases — predominantly for pilot watches.

In recent decades, though, the use of high-tech alloys in watch movements have helped to render these watches anti-magnetic. These alloys include silicon, Glucydur, Elinvar and more. When mainsprings, escapements and hairsprings inside the watch are made of these materials, the watch becomes anti-magnetic without needing an iron inner case to protect it.

Essentially, an anti-magnetic watch can run with minimal deviation in time tracking when exposed to magnetic fields. The International Organization for Standardization has issued a standard for magnetic resistant watches: ISO 764 Horology - Magnetic. It states that a watch must keep its accuracy to +/- 30 seconds a day to be deemed magnetic resistant.

If you are continually exposed to magnetic fields, and have not experienced any timing issues with your mechanical watch, bravo. If you have had some issues, stop in any time to let us help you find the right watch for your wrist that is anti-magnetic and still suits your personal tastes.

2018-04-25

This past Sunday, April 22, was Earth Day, a day we dedicate to celebrating this world's splendor and natural resources. We were reminded of how we all need to do our share to  preserve nature's riches. The watch industry, in particular, has risen to the challenge.

Some brands have gone all out to support important causes that include saving our oceans, replanting our forests, providing clean water, fighting for animal rights and much more. While these efforts are usually highly visible, some brands have been embarking on endeavors that many will never even notice.

In fact, we have witnessed three key accomplishments many brands are able to lay claim to that demonstrate a commitment to our environment.

Responsible Sourcing. A number of brands are making a concerted effort to responsibly source precious metals and gemstones adornments for their timepieces. In some instances, brands are turning to ethically sourced (and traceable) gems, and to noble metals that are fairly mined and wherein the mining companies help to sustain the local environment.

Alternative leathers and vegan tanning. In some instances, watch brands are developing alternatives to leather straps that include using Alcantara leather (a leather lookalike that does not use animal hides, but rather a synthetic material), ethically sourcing alternate types of materials (such as trout skin or similar as taken from fish raised for food and using the skins). Additionally, some brands are providing leather straps that have been vegetable tanned, cutting back on harmful tanning elements that could seep into the environment.

Creating clean and sustainable work places. Many of the watch brands that are updating and refurbishing their Manufactures and workspaces, particularly those in Switzerland, are engaging in important environmental practices. Some are turning to air and water re-purification systems, geo-thermal heating systems, solar windows and power, and more — all in an effort to protect our Earth.

It should be noted that this year's key effort on behalf of Earthday.org is to educate people about the damaging effects of plastics on the environment and to end plastic pollution on land and at sea. They have ideas on how anyone can help, from individuals to organizations and more. Check it out at this link https://www.earthday.org.

2018-04-18

An exciting exhibit about telling time in Medieval days is on display until April 29 at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, and if you are in town, you won't want to miss it. Entitled Now and Forever: The Art of Medieval Time, the exhibit portrays how difficult it was to tell time — and the myths about time — in the Middle Ages.

The exhibit is a comprehensive look at pieces and manuscripts owned by the Morgan that date back from the 11th century and through the 16th century. Most pieces hail from major countries in Europe. Highlights include paintings of farming fields (done according to the projected season), or of sacred feasts (of time and of religion) to celebrate certain anticipated dates. Other items include a long scroll work that explores the mysteries of Golden Numbers, a medieval calendar and a study of how Julius Caesar's Roman Calendar finally came into being. A particularly unusual aspect of the exhibit revolves around how people of the time were obsessed with whether or not time beyond the grave existed.

Wall hangings include ancient wooden astrolabes and an entire 60-foot-long scroll manuscript depicting history as they knew it. In all, it is a fascinating walk through five centuries when time was viewed as seasons and as moons rather than as days, hours or even minutes. If you are in New York any time in the next 10 days, we recommend stopping in to the exhibit.

All images courtesy of The Morgan Library & Museum. August: Reaping Wheat, “Da Costa Hours,” Belgium, Ghent, ca. 1515, illuminated by Simon Bening, The Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.399, fol. 9v, purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910. Image courtesy of Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, Graz/Austria.