The Fall and Rise of The Mechanical Watch

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Some years ago I wrote a story about mechanical wrist watches for Dagbladet Børsen, the leading financial newspaper in Denmark. I imagine the piece can be interesting for an English speaking audience as well, so I have translated into English. Maybe things are about to change with smart watches and the flow of new electronic devices. However, I have not seen any market signs that the mechanical watch is about to disappear again.

The story:

When Japanese Seiko launched the model Astron in 1969, bells were tolling for the old Swiss watch industry. Astron was battery powered and ticked through a small synthetic crystal called quartz. Astron was far more accurate than the mechanical watches, which even the best watchmakers in the Alpine country made.

During the 1970s the number of traditional Swiss watchmakers plunged dramatically, while quartz watches, especially from Asia, took off. In 1984 there were 600 traditional watchmakers left compared 1600 a decade earlier .

But Switzerland survived “The Quartz Crisis”, which they later dubbed it. The recovery began in the 1980s, when the company Swatch with its candy coloured and fun watches created renewed attention to watches from the small central European country.

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“In the mid-’90s the mechanical watches returned. Everyone had stopped producing them, and you could hardly find them , and then they became attractive,” Jørgen Krognos elaborates. He repairs and sells vintage watches in a small basement shop in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen.

A-Lange-Sohne-31-The-Journal-of-StyleThe new mechanical watches compete as previously on precision, but there are many other properties that make a mechanical watch to stand out today. For instance the capacity to tick without external influence. German A. Lange & Sohne is said to possess the current record with the model 31, which has a power reserve of 31 days.

There is competition as well to minimize the wear and tear that a mechanical movement is exposed to.

“Previously, a mechanical watch needed service every five years. Now, one can often just send it to the watchmaker every ten years,” says Mr Krognos .

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The old watch companies are also trying to refine classic features like calendar, stopwatch and moon phase. The goal is, undoubtedly, an attractive market position, but the dream of a perpetual motion machine could also be in mind.

One of the most famous features, which really is more of a mechanism, is the tourbillon. It will counteract the effect that gravity has on a pocket watch and wrist watch.

We must go back to the post-revolutionary France to find the first tourbillon. Back then in 1795 Abraham-Louis Breguet succeeded to encapsulate the vital parts of a pocket watch in a moving box that – at least in theory – leveled the gravitational disturbance of the clock. Since then the tourbillon has become a synonym for “haute horlogerie”, finest watchmaking.

Enthusiasts have many and different views on, which watch brands and models are the best. It seems that it is just as much about emotion as the cool analysis, when the decision is made.

But market forces have a clear favorite.

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“One can always argue about, which watch is the better one. But, auction prices point to Patek Philippe,” says Mr Krognos opening a catalog where Patek Philippe watches represent 15 of the 16 world’s most expensive watches at auction in 2005.

“Patek Philippe is really good craftsmanship,” concludes the watchmaker in Frederiksberg.

Source: Various watchmakers

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Bespoke Glasses – Part 1/2

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I got an email from reader Jimmy Poulsen. He has short sight, and now he had decided to upgrade his glasses. He would go downtown Copenhagen to place an order with Cold & Heggem.

Would I like to join? Yes, I would, thank you.

Cold & Heggem makes bespoke glasses only. It was started by Rasmus Cold in 2004. Today he runs the company with his girlfriend. Rasmus Cold makes glasses in horn frames and wooden frames. What is best is a matter of taste, but you have to remember to oil periodically if the frame is wood, Rasmus Cold told.

More choices are a matter of taste as well.  I tried to obtain some rules of thumb and guidelines from Rasmus Cold, but he declined. You cannot say that a square face must have round glasses and a round face square glasses. Or vice versa. It is a personal choice, Rasmus Cold made clear.

Nor can we say that the frame color should reflect hair or complexion. Jimmy is, as seen, a red type, but it does not necessarily mean that the frame should be cognac coloured, or that it should contrast in dark brown or black. It is, indeed, a matter of taste, Rasmus Cold stressed.

Jimmy chose a horn frame in cognac.

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Then he had his face measured. Rasmus Cold began with the bridge of the nose, and Jimmy tried a few different glasses.

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Rasmus Cold then presented a couple of tools, which looked like something from the surgery cabinet of curiosities, but they are quite gentle. They measure the width of the eyes and head, and the distance to the ears. Rasmus Cold traces the exact distance between the pupils too.

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When everything has been noted, Rasmus Cold will often begin by making a frame in cardboard. In Jimmy’s case, he did not find it not necessary. He had discussed the glasses quite a bit with Jimmy in advance, and Jimmy’s face is not very difficult to fit, according to Rasmus Cold.

Now I’m waiting for the result. I will, of course, be there with the camera.

Source: The Journal of Style

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The Hacking Jacket

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Well done, I thought immediately when I saw Mads Peter Christensen’s use of tweed, corduroy and accessories. Energy and boldness are present, and the dress is still a whole.

And check out the hacking jacket. Copenhagen bespoke tailor Peter Undén made it, clearly one of the best sports jackets I’ve seen from him.

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“The vent overlaps, and top and bottom pieces are cut slightly sloping in opposite directions. This is a detail that I have copied from the vent on my old sports jacket from Huntsman, like in the case of swelled lapels,” Mads Peter Christensen tells.

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He also says that “the sleeves have a bit more width than the median, so to speak. The roping is also a bit more marked at my request.”

“The back shot shows a back that might look a little more loose than my feeling of it with the jacket on, but it’s made with room for knit. Pictures are like that ;-)” Mads Peter Christensen ends.

Source: The Journal of Style on the street in Copenhagen

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The Red Striped Dress Shirt

Red-striped-dress-shirt-The-Journal-of-Style

I’m wearing a sky blue shirt four out of five working days. It is not always a plain one. I like stripes too: pencil stripes and once in a while butcher stripes.

Rarely, I choose a plain sky blue shirt in a smooth poplin weave. In fact, I only have one of that type in the closet. Plain sky blue needs a little fuzziness in the texture, I think. Else it will appear heavy. An end-on-end, for instance, has that interest in texture, which poplin doesn’t have.

Last week I got my first red striped dress shirt. I’ve been wanting to order at least one for many years, but I only managed to act two months ago, when I placed an order with Carmela and Roberta at Camiceria Carmen in Turin. The red striped shirt was made up from a Thomas Mason fabric they have.

It will not be an everyday shirt for me, properly. That said, I don’t find it to be a bold or fancy shirt, more “a different kind of sky blue shirt”. It is a serious business shirt, basically.

Could be I should order a few more red striped dress shirts to supplement the sky blue species.

Source: The Journal of Style

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Valentino Ricci on the Art of Dressing

Marineblå blazer, hvide bukser med høje opslag og brune hyttesko i ruskind

Valentino Ricci of Sciamat communicates silently through his expression and attire to the English speaking clothing community. Sometimes he grips the word. I remember an entertaining Italy vs England match-up on youtube, in which he criticizes Jeremy Hackett’s padded suit.

“Don’t hide your shoulders,” he states at one point to a slightly confused Jeremy Hackett.

Recently, when flipping through my photos from Italy, I decided to contact Valentino Ricci to have a few more opinions from him on the art dressing. What is behind this elegant, cool picture he creates?

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What makes style personal, natural and elegant?

Style reflects our personality. Style is a reservoir in our mind, a secret code by which we translate ourselves through clothes.

Dressing is an art, and only artists can practice it in a natural and, therefore, elegant way.

How do you look at colors, patterns and textures ?

You cannot think properly about colors, patterns and textures without having studied the past. There are colour combinations, styles and quality materials, which great men came about laying out the premises of classic men’s dress of today.

And, as we start to rework those elements contained in taste and make them current, they should be personal and always complying with the principles of classic taste.

What typical mistakes do you see in the dressing?

A mistake often seen is the wearing of a sports jacket with a lighter shade of trousers. Personally, I think that for a dress to become a whole, the jacket should always be darker than the trousers to respond to a pure aesthetic simplicity. When you don’t see this simplicity at work, you know immediately that you are dealing with someone who has not studied.

Should clothing refine a man, or should it show who he is?

When dress is not a trivial requirement, but a heartfelt requirement, you can arrive at a state of the art, and that defines the man and shows that you are in the presence of an artist. But the latter is the exception. For most people dress is a trivial necessity.

For some people dress is a way to perform differently on the stage of life. Others (with no skills) dress for posing as masters of style; and dress can be a tool for people to get rid of themselves and look different from the man, whom they are in reality.

It is clear that everyone dress as they like, but they must be men knowledgeable of the rules and able to dress in order to sublimate the art and, thus, to meet themselves in the sight of God.

How will classic clothing develop in the years to come?

That is the million-dollar question!

In general, it is the interpreter, who summarizes society in attire.

If we look at today’s young generations, there is little interest in classics: habits, ways of doing things, mentality, and, even less, interest in clothing.

And, the example that comes from older generations has not caught younger generations, since we seem to have stopped being serious, honest and responsive to the canons of life founded by our fathers and our grandfathers.

I think dressing in the original sense is destined to become a classic like the Latin language: dead or, at best, known by few survivors only.

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Nicola Ricci, Valentino Ricci’s brother and business partner.

The interview with Valentino Ricci in Italian:

Che cosa rende lo stile personale, naturale ed elegante?

Lo stile è un riflesso della nostra persona, è una riserva della nostra mente, è un codice segreto col quale traduciamo noi stessi attraverso i nostri vestiti.

Vestire è un arte e solo gli uomini artisti la esercitano in maniera naturale e, perciò, elegante.

Come si guarda ai colori, modelli e texture?

Non si può pensare a colori, modelli e texture senza aver studiato. Ci sono abbinamenti cromatici, stilistici e di materia prima con i quali in passato alcuni grandi uomini hanno fondato le premesse del vestire classico maschile.

E’ da qui che si parte per rielaborare quei contenuti di gusto e renderli attuali, personali e sempre rispondenti ai principi del gusto classico.

Quali errori tipici vedete nel vestirsi?

L’errore che più spesso noto è quello che  si commette quando si veste uno spezzato indossando la giacca con una tinta più chiara del pantalone. Personalmente ritengo che se il vestito non è intero, la giacca debba essere sempre più scura del pantalone per rispondere ad un estetismo cromatico talmente semplice che, quando  non c’è , capisci subito che hai di fronte uno che non ha studiato.

Ovviamente di chi indossa il nero di mattina o si sposa di sera con un tight non conviene neanche parlarne.

Potrebbe il vestito definire l’uomo o mostrare chi è?

Quando il vestire non è una banale necessità, ma una esigenza intima, questa può arrivare allo stato dell’arte, ed è chiaro che definisce quell’uomo e mostra che si è in presenza di un artista. Ma non sempre è così. Per quasi tutti vestire è una banale necessità; per molti vestire è un modo di esibirsi variamente sul palcoscenico della vita; per altri (senza arte nè parte) vestire è atteggiarsi a maestri di stile e per qualcuno vestire è uno strumento per depistare da se stessi e apparire diversi da ciò e da chi in realtà si è.

E’ chiaro che ognuno veste come gli pare, ma saranno di esempio solo quegli uomini conoscitori delle regole e capaci di vestire allo scopo di sublimare quest’arte e, così, di incontrare se stessi al cospetto di Dio.

In che modo l’abbigliamento classico svilupperà negli anni a venire?

Questa è una domanda da 10000 $”!

L’abbigliamento, di solito, sintetizza la società che ne è interprete.

Se oggi guardiamo alle giovanissime generazioni, non c’è più niente di classico: nè di abitudini, nè di usi, nè di modi, nè di mentalità, nè tanto meno di abbigliamento.

E l’esempio che viene dalle generazioni meno giovani non è molto più incoraggiante, giacchè sembra che abbiamo abdicato tutti ad un modo di pensare e di fare serio, onesto e rispondente ai canoni del vivere fondati dai nostri padri e dai nostri nonni.

Penso che l’abbigliamento classico sia destinato a diventare come la lingua latina: morta o al massimo, nota a pochissimi superstiti nel mondo.

Source: The Journal of Style

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