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Showing posts from 2023

Has Swatch Encountered Diminishing Returns?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I'm not sure it is worth a thousand points of data. My Mission to Mars MoonSwatch and Fifty Fathoms homage by Steeldive. The pictures from the last 10 days or so suggest that Swatch has delivered another blockbuster by way of their most recent "collaboration" with Blancpain, this one officially known as the Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms (SFF). Social media served up numerous photos of queues outside of Swatch stores ahead of the SFF launch on September 9. Plenty of aspiring owners waited long hours for their chance to buy the newest accessible riff on a design that typically commands a price in the five digit range. I'll admit that the photos convinced me that Swatch has a replicable formula for developing watches that are so in demand they can be flipped for a sizable premium. As I've done before, though, I prefer to ask the data what, exactly, is going on with the release of this timepiece. And the data

In Brief: Wherefore Art Thou Timex?

Last week, news broke in a local newspaper that Timex Group USA conditionally sold their headquarters in Middlebury, Connecticut for $7.5 million. An older Timex that belonged to a family member. The buyer plans to build a "food distribution center" on the property, but the sale will only go through if certain wetlands permits are approved. Moreover, "On May 10, the Middlebury Conservation Commission approved the permit for a food distribution center consisting of a 540,000-square-foot building and a smaller 180,000-square-foot building on a 111-acre site consisting of the 93-acre campus of the Timex property and a neighboring 18-acre property on Southford Road belonging to another Drubner family partnership." Further complicating the matter is the fact that a politician elected to state government managed to slip a clause into a two year budget bill making it even harder for the potential buyer to build the food distribution center. Said politician lives acros

Rolex + Bucherer: Context and Consequences

A Rolex-Bucherer spoon, these were given out to accompany Rolex watch purchases. Rolex announced its planned acquisition of retailer Bucherer last week. In this post, I'd like to offer some analysis, contextualization and possible consequences of the development. In hindsight, the acquisition makes perfect sense and I'd like to explain why that is the case. To begin, let's remember how the modern Rolex brand was established. A schematic illustrating the earliest era of Rolex's business organization. Rolex co-founder Hans Wilsdorf passed away in 1960 without any direct heirs. Rather than sell his company, he left it to a charitable foundation in Switzerland. Rolex is a non-profit. In their press release announcing the acquisition of Bucherer, Rolex specifically mentioned that the retailer's current owner, Jörg Bucherer, does not have any direct descendants. This was not some toss-away line. The brand is pointing us to the fact that, from this perspective, Bu

By Grace of the Crown

Photo of a Rolex Deep Sea which I took at the Beyer museum in Zurich. If I told you there is a switch that Rolex could flip and immediately hamstring the American secondary watch market would you believe me? Frankly, I wouldn't have believed this myself until I stumbled upon a disclaimer in a Sotheby's catalogue from 2008. It read: "Important Notice regarding Importation into the United States of Corum, Rolex, Piaget or Franck Muller Watches. Sotheby's cannot arrange for the delivery of Corum, Rolex, Piaget or Franck Muller watches to the United States because U.S. laws restricts the import of Corum, Rolex, Piaget or Franck Muller watches. The curiousity-inducing text from a vintage Sotheby's catalogue. The buyer or a designated agent may collect the property in the country of sale." I thought this was an extremely odd restriction which, frankly, I had never heard of before. Restrictions on international flows of goods are not, themselves, rare. Quot

Mission to Moonshine Gold: Swatch Does It Because It Works

I listen to a good number of podcasts regarding the watch industry, one of which is A Blog to Watch Weekly . Mission to Mars: One of two MoonSwatches in my collection. In a recent episode, when host Rick introduced the topic of the most recent Swatch X Omega Mission to Moonshine Gold MoonSwatch, co-host Ariel Adams audibly sighed in apparent exasperation. I was simultaneously amused by and sympathetic with Adams' frustration at the 30-ish day cycle of new releases when it comes to the Moonshine MoonSwatches. Just to be clear: I have nothing against the MoonSwatch. I own two: Mission to the Sun and Mission to Mars. They are comfortable and fun to wear. However, the "Mission to MoonShine Gold" (M2MG hereafter) product series is a bit of a stretch when it comes to the MoonSwatch. The underlying exercise takes place during each full moon, which is when Swatch releases a store-only special edition of the Mission to the Moon MoonSwatch with one small change: the chronogra

Is Antiquorum Sufficiently Anticrime?

One of the more interesting people to arrive on YouTube in the past three years is Larry Lawton . After six years in the Coast Guard, Lawton drifted into the world of organized crime but law enforcement eventually caught up to him. Lawton spent many years behind bars and, now that he's been released, he genuinely seems interested in telling his story so that others won't make the same mistakes he did. His videos appear quite unfiltered when it comes to his crimes and his punishment. Lawton ended up specializing in jewelry store theft. In some of his videos, he details how particular "jobs" went down. Lawton's videos focus on his crimes in Florida and the general region near Florida. His heists frequently involved leaving a store, getting on the highway, and driving long distances for the next phase of his operation: selling stolen items. This process involved getting on interstate 95, which is a highway that runs the length of the east coast of the United States

Striking the Right Note: the AP Royal Oak Offshore Music Edition

This week's release of the Royal Oak Offshore Self-Winding Music Edition. The newest reference of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Music Edition in 37 mm (ref 77600CE.OO.A002CA.01) is not an opening act. It was in 2022 that we first saw the Royal Oak's famed tapisserie dial morph into stacked rectangular rainbow bars evoking musical spectrum analyzers (or perhaps EQ's on old school stereos). The most recent release is a first for me, though. I went hands-on with the ROO Music Edition a few weeks ago so I thought I would share some of my firsthand impressions. This rendition of the ROO Music Edition is in black ceramic, a material in harmony with the musical motifs found throughout the design. Crown and case detail from the Royal Oak Offshore Self-Winding Music Edition. For example, many stereo systems sport a brushed black face. The titanium crown guards evoke the sliders on a sound mixing board while the case engraving immediately adjacen

Argon Trademark Dispute Goes to Court

What it might look like if Aragon and Argon watches actually went to court over the trademark dispute. My prior post described a disappointing development for those collectors hoping to acquire an Argon Spaceone watch via the brand's Kickstarter campaign. The campaign had reached over $1 million in funding when Kickstarter's management stepped in and froze the whole thing over an "intellectual property dispute." When I posted about this development on Instagram , Hodinkee editor Tony Traina noted in the comments that another brand, Aragon watches, had filed a complaint with the US Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) back in April (thanks Tony!). Argon's account replied and indicated that they had already filed a registration for their brand name and they were retaining counsel in New York City. On Tuesday, June 27 of this week, more details were offered via a lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The case is filed on behalf

Breaking: Argon Watches Gets the Boot from Kickstarter?

Argon Watches search result on Instagram. I just received a DM from IG @timesnewroman because he noticed that a project by Argon Watches is no longer available on Kickstarter's page. By way of background, Argon's Spaceone is a partnership between highly accomplished watchmaker Théo Auffret and watch businessman Guillaume Laidet. The watches are extremely creative, employing a jump mechanism, and have been very well received (you can see a compilation of their press coverage here ). Kickstarters "404 not available" screen as of right now. There is a rather stark message on Kickstarter right now reading "Argon Watches is the subject of an intellectual property dispute and is currently unavailable." A screengrab is to the right. This has got to be a gut punch for the brand and for collectors who were looking forward to receiving these watches. I reached out to Argon for an update and received the following statement: +++ Hello there, As of today,

Update: Criminal Charges in the Case of the $3M+ Omega Franken Broad Arrow

The Franken Broad Arrow in question. I'm an economist, not a graphic designer. Exactly seven days ago, I received a DM from a friend who works full-time in the watch space. They sent me a link to an article in a German language publication called NZZ. I'm not completely familiar with this publication and I had to rely upon a Google translation of the article, so I was properly skeptical of what I read. The piece buried the lede a bit. It started with allegations that a Omega Speedmaster Ref. 2915-1, nicknamed the "Tropical Broad Arrow," likely had conditions which were undisclosed when the watch sold at auction. The Tropical Broad Arrow achieved a hammer price of approximately $3.25 million in November of 2021 in Geneva. The result generated all kinds of excitement. This price was a new record for an Omega Speedmaster. When I started reading the NZZ article, I initially thought it was a rehashing of an article by Jose Perez . That article had earlier raised imp

The History of Rolex, Tudor and Motorsports in Japan

Rolex's relationship with automotive racing is, at this point, very well-established. A Tudor sponsored car taking the checkered flag in Japan. A clearer photo is later in the post. Formula 1 and Rolex marked a decade of official partnership this year. One of the brand's most successful designs is named after a famous race: the Daytona (500). And, the record-setting Paul Newman Rolex Daytona which sold at auction in 2017 was worn by Newman during his illustrious career on the race track. In this post I will detail a lesser-known relationship between Rolex and automotive racing. In the 1960's through the 1970's, Tudor and Rolex sponsored at least one race car in Japan. I initially learned about this sponsorship through my conversation with Elias, which was also the basis for my prior post on Tudor. While I am not the first to write on the subject of Rolex/Tudor auto racing in Japan (for example, see the posts here and here ), I believe this post will be one of th