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Showing posts from 2024

Coming Soon: My Review of Donzé's Rolex Book

This month, Horolonomics celebrates its fifth birthday. It's gone by quickly. I'm proud of what I've achieved with this blog and it has been rewarding enough, in multiple ways, that I foresee continuing it for a good while. I will likely post a retrospective and prospective in the near future. But this post isn't about that. Instead, it is about another forthcoming post which will be ready soon(ish). AI generated image of a stack of books. I've decided to write a review of Pierre-Yves Donzé's book on Rolex entitled La Fabrique De L'Excellence (translation: The Manufacture of Excellence ). I want to explain why I've decided to do this and give some sense for what the review is likely to conclude, at least partly. In my mind, Donzé's book has three strikes against it, even before I've read it (it is in French, but thanks to technology I can handle the translation without difficulty). The first strike is a claim made on the back cover of t

The Rolex Air King that Became a Field Watch

Word is quickly spreading across mass media that a detectorist recently recovered a Rolex lost many years ago by a farmer in England. Did a cow eat a Rolex? When I read the initial coverage in British regional and national press, parts of the story seemed very confusing to me. So I did a little sleuthing and got in touch with a family member of the watch's original owner, who kindly agreed to answer some questions and share pictures of two watches involved in the chain of events. So here is my take on the tale. The articles I read suggested that the recovered Rolex had been eaten by a cow when it disappeared from farmer James Steele's wrist in 1974. If true, that means, at some point, the watch made a journey through the four chambers of the cow's stomach, exited stage tail, and lived in a field until the metal detector started wailing and the watch was recovered this year. So, the first question I asked of Steele's son, Andrew, was "How certain is your Dad

Will Ground Floor Watch Shops Go Extinct?

During a recent visit to a watch shop I was reminded of my state capitol building. A ground floor boutique in a major US city. The two wouldn't seem related: a capitol is the seat of government while a watch shop is a retail setting. But the shop I visited and my state capitol have one architectural feature in common: a mantrap for entering and exiting (also known as a sallyport). A mantrap is a "neutral zone," or buffer, separating a secure space from the outside world. It features two doors but each door will only unlock if the other door is locked (in other words, both doors will not simultaneously unlock except under extreme circumstances). Entering or exiting a space secured by a mantrap goes something like this: press a button for the door in front of you and someone buzzes it open. You enter the mantrap and the door you just used closes behind you and locks. You're "trapped." Then, provided conditions are right (you present ID or pass some kind o

Mr. Hayek Concurs

A little more than two years ago, I published a post on Horolonomics entitled "Beware Mistaken Spreadsheet Authors: the LuxeConsult / Morgan Stanley Report." In that post, I questioned the accuracy of watch industry information offered by LuxeConsult / Morgan Stanley. You can visit that post for the details, but my concerns boil down to the fact that certain audited financial information was inconsistent with elements of the LuxeConsult / Morgan Stanley report. The dial of my Swatch Sistem 51 Blue Edition for Hodinkee, a project created during Mr. Hayek's continuing tenure at Swatch. My concerns were also motivated by the fact that this report published numbers about Rolex production, but Rolex themselves do not share production numbers with the public. A number is not data unless that number is gathered according to certain principles of measurement. For the life of me, I could not figure out how the authors of the LuxeConsult / Morgan Stanley report sourced their n

Rolex, Bucherer and WEKO: an Update (of Sorts)

The other day, I was poking around in Swiss business registries (as one does on a weekend) when I noticed that Jörg Bucherer was still listed as the "president and delegate" of luxury watch retailer Bucherer, AG. A Rolex clock in front of an AD in New England. Since Bucherer, the man, passed away on November 8, 2023, this clearly raises some questions. More curious was the fact that Rolex ownership of Bucherer, the business, was not indicated in Bucherer's commercial registration and Rolex's own business registrations did not indicate a lash-up with Bucherer. News of Rolex's intent to acquire Bucherer broke roughly eight months ago. Now, I will admit that I do not understand or know all the nuances involved in Swiss business registration. I do know that registrations are administered by the Swiss cantons (roughly equivalent to states in the US) so perhaps this was simply a matter of delay in updating the registrations across cantons (Rolex is registered in G

Have Watch Prices Reached Bottom?

There's a quip in the world of finance: "nobody rings a bell at the top or bottom of the market." AI generated image of someone looking for the bottom of a chasm. If you're on a trading floor, you know it is the start of the day because of the "opening bell." But, if you reach the low point for prices, there is no bell. Everyone just has to do their best to figure out if prices are finally going to start increasing again. This is certainly true of watches. According to Chrono24's Chronopulse index of watch prices (full disclosure, I've contributed to this index), we've just begun the third year of a "bear market" for preowned watches. Chronopulse overall index of late. The rate of decrease in prices has certainly slowed, but there hasn't been an overall turnaround in prices just yet. It is hard to say if we're at the bottom or if we're just on a gentle downslope that will continue for the near term. Right or wron

Clash with the Customizers

One of the less glamorous, but nonetheless important, activities in the watch industry relates to intellectual property (IP). AI thinks this is what it would look like if Rolex and a customizer were gladiators fighting in an arena. Largely behind the scenes, micro mechanical engineers file patents, brand founders file trademarks and attorneys file lawsuits when they believe someone has infringed on the rights of a horological IP owner. Periodically, some of this activity is covered by the popular press, particularly when there is a lawsuit. For example, Swatch Group's unsuccessful litigation against Vortic was covered by a wide range of media outlets (and Vortic themselve documented the legal clash on YouTube and in a forthcoming book . A somewhat recent watch market development relates to the customization of timepieces. Customization can take many forms, including "bust down" watches in which gemstones are added by an aftermarket jeweler. I first realized watch

A New Horological Moonshot

The story of watches and moon exploration is arguably more well-trodden than the surface of the moon itself. A view of the moon from the IM-1 lunar lander. Photo credit Intuitive Machines. The Omega Speedmaster is the incumbent "moonwatch," a title earned after U. S. astronaut Wally Schirra wore his personal Speedy on Earth orbit in 1962. Seven years later, Speedmaster was there when humans first landed on the moon. What's interesting is that this legacy of Omega on the moon emerged through serendipity. There was no grand marketing plan or product placement strategy or KPI which choreographed the arrival of the Speedmaster on Schirra's wrist. Instead, Omega learned that the Speedmaster had been adopted by NASA astronauts in 1965 when they saw a news photo of Ed White wearing one during a spacewalk. Eventually, Omega's role in spaceflight became more intentional and formal. An Omega Speedmaster Project Alaska III. I took this photo during a Phillips auc